Monday, March 26, 2012

Tucson - 3 of 3

Day 4

Acclimating very nicely to Arizona.  We got up and out the door by 9:00.  We were looking for the Magic Gardens or the Fairy Garden, but when we got there they were closed.  I was somewhat happy about this as on the outside the place was a bit on the scary side.  Maybe this is just because it was so empty….  So since we weren’t able to do that, instead we headed out to Colossal Cave.  It’s exactly what you think.  You take a guided tour of an underground “dry” cave.  It was fun, a bit short, but fun nonetheless.  Here are some photos of the caves. 

After that you can go up to the Ranch and see horses, gardens, and go on trail walks.  We did it all.  The trail walk was great.  It was literally a walk through the Arizona wilderness.  That means, trees, desert, hills, and mountains.  We were out there for hours just taking it all in.  I got a nice sunburn.  Yay me!  No worries, I am out in the sun 5 minutes and I get sunburned, sun screen or not. 

(Enjoy I dont take many photos of myself)

By the time we finished up with the cave, the ranch, and of course the gift shops, it was getting to be late in the afternoon.  So I decided it was the perfect chance to go see the Mission.  San Xavier mission had been referred to me several times over the trip from several different people. It’s an old Catholic Mission church that was set up to bring religion to the savages (Oiy…really?).  We get there, and my first thought was, “This is it?”  My answer after going through it was, “Yup.  That’s it.”  Yes, the church was lovely.  The murals were gorgeous and old and…religious, but they were pretty.  They really were.  The wooden dead guy was a bit on the creepy side, but moving on.  There was some interesting history throughout, but mainly it was a church and a gift shop.  We didn’t stay long. 

On the way out though there were several little, I don’t even know what to call them, tables maybe?  Anyway there were several and they all sold food but the main attraction was “flat bread”.  A fried tortilla type bread that was then slathered in sugar or honey or beans and tomatoes or whatever.  I had to try it.  OMG it was so good.  We all had one and we all were in heaven.  Greasy sugary yum.  The mission was a bit of bust, but the flat bread made it a bit better.

We then went to find some dinner and walk through the mall for a bit of normalcy.  As that was our last full day in Arizona we then headed back to our room to make sure we were pretty well packed up to go the next day.  As we were too afraid to properly unpack (thank you scorpions) we really only had our toiletries out to worry about and our souvenirs. 

Day 5

We were up and packed and out the door and checked out of our hotel at 8.  We had a few hours to kill so we went to the Botanical Gardens in Tucson.  It was a nice last stop over.  They even had a butterfly exhibit.  Not as grand of scale as ours in Columbus (Franklin Park Conservatory) but still a worthwhile stop.  The gardens and grounds were gorgeous and fun to see.  Of course we had to stop at the gift shop before heading out.  I found a great cookbook that even had a recipe for Flat Bread in it.  Yay!  I also bought some honey to take home. 

We were then off to the airport.  We turned in our car and made it on time and to our plane without problem.  I was not worried at all as the flights in were okay.  Our first flight back was from Tucson to Denver.  It was an express plane and sadly it was not a good flight for me.  First it was very bumpy and shaky.  I couldn’t read.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t do anything but sit there feeling really sick and yucky.  Second there was a family with 2 small children behind me (2 and under).  I don’t mind children.  As long as they aren’t screaming I am good.  I didn’t mind the constant chatter.  I didn’t mind getting whacked in the head with something (I think it was a blanket).  I didn’t mind the hanging over the top of my seat.  However, there were a few things that really bothered me. You know that sound kids make when they cough that makes you think, “What the….”.  Well I had one of those moments.  When I made to turn around to check it out, my husband shot out a hand and said quite directly and scary firmly “Do Not Turn Around”.  I of course halted mid turn and said.  “All right?”  He then said.  “Cover your nose.”  That was when the smell hit me.  One of the children had hurled right behind me.  Since I was already sick as hell and hot as hell cause I was sick, my jacket was in my lap.  I quickly slammed it over my nose but it was too late.  I about died on that flight back.  Then the parents, which I don’t really blame them now, stood up right next to me covered in…stuff as they tried to clean up the seats and the child and themselves.  At the time I was pissed.  Could they not see I was sick as hell?  The color of my face should have given me away.  I was green.  I would have been fine, well not fine but not quite so sick, had the child not barfed.  It was not fun.

So we made it to Denver.  I immediately bought some motion sickness tablets and that was that.  The next flight from Denver to Columbus, I was loopy from the tablets, but was happily able to read and watch tv and I was not sick at all.  It was also a bigger plane so that may have helped.  All in all, the plane rides were all right.  However, from now on, I will just suck it up and take a motion tablet first thing so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. 

We got home and I realized, oopsy I was a Delbert.  I was thinking our flight out was at noon, we would get home around 5-6:00, have time to settle in and be ready for back to school and work.  Duh.  I forgot the time change of four hours.  We didn’t get in to Ohio until 11:00 p.m. We didn’t get home and into bed until Midnight.  Oh well you live you learn. 

All in all it was a great trip and one I hope to do again in the future.  I love trying new things and going new places.  It was so much fun, but I am glad to be home and back on Ohio time.  Hmmm…I wonder how many books I sold…..

Tune in next week for my review of the Hunger Games.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Tucson - 2 of 3

Day 3
Tucson Festival of Books

We are still on Ohio time, so again we were up really early.  This was good though as we had time to get dressed and me fixed up so that I looked decent for the festival as well as have time to stop for Starbucks and breakfast.  Then the journey began to find the festival.  It was a gorgeous morning and showed promise of being a warm and lovely day.  Thank you, God!  I so wanted to spend some time in the sunshine. 

Now I had an address, but for some reason our GPS kept taking us in the wrong direction.  We were back and forth for 45 minutes before we found the place and by that time I was freaking out.  I wanted to get there early so that I wasn’t rushed in finding the author’s pavilion and getting checked in (before 10:30) and finding my group for the panel and my host, and basically I wanted a few minutes to gather myself.  I was scared. 

But no.  That was not to be.  We pulled into the university area and I just happened to see a parking lot full of little pink tags, the same as the one I had clutched in my hands, that I was provided by the University.  I pointed my husband over to that area, he rolled down the window and waved the tag, and we got front and center parking, because I……was an author.  How cool was that.  I literally, got out of my car, crossed one intersection and was there.  It was great and a huge time saver too.

We came to the festival and I stopped in my tracks.  The place was HUGE.  I can’t say what exactly I was expecting, but the sheer number of tents and tables and activities and venders, was enormous.  I just stood and took it all in.  It was only a little after 10:00 a.m. and already the place was packed full of people.  We wound our way through and after asking for direction to the Author’s Pavilion, finally we found it.  I got hugs and kisses and wishes of luck from my girls and my husband, then they left me to go and see what they could do until my first panel began at 11:30. 

I walked in, presented myself and checked-in.  I was given a lanyard with my name and status (as an author) on it.  It was so cool.  Yes, it was just a lanyard, but it made me feel special for once.  I sat down in the first empty seat I could find and pulled out my notes and itinerary for the day.  The lounge had fruit and veggies and coffee and water and donuts and danishes, but I was so nervous and my tummy was so jumpy that there was no way I was going to be able to eat anything right them.  I would just come back between my two panels and grab something then.

I didn’t know anyone.  I know loads of author’s by name, but I don’t know any of them by face.  Maybe one or two like Stephen King and Anne Rice, but they weren’t going to be there that day.  I sat there feeling out of place and then had to have a firm talking to myself.  I was there to meet and mingle.  I needed to quit being a big baby and I needed to say hello.  To someone.  So I turned the man next to me and did just that.  He was a very nice man, and although he told me his name and that he was an illustrator, I was so nervous all I can remember is that his name is Dave, which is a shame as apparently he was quite the illustrator too.  People kept interrupting the poor man as he was trying to talk to me just to say hello and that they loved his work.  He was very nice.  I hope I get a chance to meet up with him again, not just to get his last name either, but because I enjoyed his company. 

The next person I met was one of my panel “mates”.  Cynthia Leitich Smith

She was so nice to me and when I expressed I was nervous, she laughed and said I would do just fine.  She made me feel better.  We talked a bit until our Moderator, Donna Jurich, came to hunt us up.  We were still missing a panel member at this point but we decided to head over to our room and hope that she would make it in time.

We got to our room, and thankfully the last member for our panel, Apprilynn Pike came in.  She had forgotten her little pink tag and couldn’t get parked and had been driving around for an hour trying to find a place to park.  She was a bit frazzled and that gave me something to focus on.  Worrying about someone else is always so much better than worrying about yourself.

The room was filling up and finally, Donna started the panel at promptly 11:30.  Cynthia was introduced and she spoke of herself and her books and it was eloquent and it was fun and it was interesting.  She talked for a good 5 minutes.  Then I was introduced and honest to God my entire brain shut down.  I smiled.  A big toothy smile and according to my family the look of honest panic that crossed my face was almost comical.  I found my Seren’s smiling face and she giggled at me.  I was in a complete panic. I broke into a sweat and as I was told later, my face and chest turned bright red.  I finally stuttered out a hello, and then said something stupid like, I was in such awe of Cynthia I forgot what I was going to say.  The room laughed and then I struggled to introduce my work and myself and I can’t really even tell you what I said. That moment did end thankfully and it was then Aprilynne’s turn and she carried her introduction off without a hitch.  Then we began the question and answer section, which I was able to do without problem.  After another ten minutes or so, I wasn’t quite as scared as I had been at the first and was able to actually answer questions as if I knew what I was talking about. By the end of the panel, I was good to go. 

I am so very thankful for both of my panel mates and my moderate, as without them, that moment could have been a disaster for me.  They smiled and they were funny and they all understood I was a mess of nerves.  I am so very grateful to have met them and to have been on the panel with them.  They were wonderful. 

From there we went to an autograph session.  We signed books, and bookmarks and autograph books and had our pictures taken.  There was a whole herd of girls about 12 years old that came through with “New Moon” autograph books that were so sweet and nice.  I had fun during that portion. One on one I am good.  It’s the group things that need a little work. 

After that I found my way back to the pavilion and decided I was hungry.  I rechecked in and went to the food tables to find them almost empty.  Picked through to the last piece of pineapple.  I grabbed about four slices of cucumber and a new bottle of water and munched on them.  I decided to try to find my way back to my next panel room, as I didn’t really have anything else to do.  After making a quick pit-stop I waited at my room for my next set of panel people.  I was starving so I dug through my bag for the little cutie oranges that Donna had given us at our autograph session. Thank goodness she had thought to do that.  They were a life saver! 

My next panel had Joshua Cohen and Amy Dominy with me.  Our moderator was Michelle Parker-Rock and she is with the SCBWI. 

Because we had all met at the room there wasn’t much time to meet and greet but enough to say hello and get comfortable.  Again we were asked to introduce ourselves and that time I was able to pull it off.  Although I was still shaking like a leaf, I was more able to hide it and press onward.  I was still red in the face and chest and I was still sweating like you wouldn’t believe, but it was better.  Again afterward we went to an autograph session, which was a bit slow, but it was still worth it.

From there my family picked me up and I demanded FOOD.  We browsed around the festival for a bit.  Found that most of my books appeared to have been sold.  We were only able to find four books in the bookstore, so hopefully that really is all that was left. 

All in all it was a great day.  Aside from a few snafus here and there, I think I did all right.  After we left the festival, we grabbed some real food, check in at home and on my dog (he was fine), and then called it a night.  After all that anxiety, I was tired. 

To be continued…

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tucson - 1 of 3

Hello!  Made it back from my trip and thought I would share our trip in full, not just the “author” stuff.  So here we go.

Day 1:

Thursday, started off the same as any other day.  Got up, got the girls off to school, and myself off to work.  Same ole, same ole.  Then around 11ish, I got a call from home saying I needed to come home immediately, something was wrong with my dog.  Now most of you should know, my dog is my sweet boy, that I love.  I don’t mean I like him when he’s sweet.  I love that dog.  All the time.  Hair, slobber, mess, and all.  So I race home.  I made the 20 minute drive in 12 minutes time, in the pouring rain.  Apparently, my 9 year old dog, decided he was going to have a seizure, the day we are suppose to leave.  He has never had one before and it was scary as all heck.  Foaming at the mouth, shaking, disoriented, eyes rolled back, and mean to my husband.  I bound in the house at break neck speed to find him lying on the floor.  He sees me, I see him.  He crawls across the floor on his tummy to get to me, and I drop down to the floor to get to him.  He proceeds to crawl on top of me and cry something terrible.  It broke my heart.  The tears shed were monumental. 

The vet was called and he said, no worries (WHAT?).  5% of all dogs get them once in their lives and to just watch him.  That’s it.  Hmmm okay.  So I do.  After about an hour of crying and panting, he finally started to feel better.  He ate, and drank and bounced after me outside and was frankly, back to normal.  I still was nervous about leaving him, but Grandpa promised to take good care of him.  So I was talked into leaving. 

Sidney came home, we packed up the car, we picked up Seren from school, and off we went to the airport.  I was more worried about my dog at that point than I was about my first ever plane ride.  That is until we got on the plane and I was then completely focused on the plane.  We made it through security.  It wasn’t too bad.  I did have to do the full body scan which sorta creeped me out, but since no one had to actually touch me, it was okay.  We filed onto our plan and I sat down.  The rumbling of the plane was a bit scary.  The take off was really scary.  The first 15 minutes I sat statute still to make sure I was going to survive without barfing all over the place.  The next 15 I tried to read the Skymall magazine.  Then I pulled out the ipad and watched Footloose (it was all right).  All in all it was going well.  Then we landed and aside from the fact that my foot brake would not work, it was a safe and sound landing into Phoenix. 

From Phoenix we took an express plane (think tiny) to Tucson.  Again the take off was all right, a bit on the bumpy side and a bit more nauseating, but livable.  It helped that it was literally up and down.  We were up and down in about 25 minutes.  We made it to Tucson around 10:30 pm.  We got our rental car, and off we went in search of our hotel, the Doubletree, by Hilton in Tucson.  Very nice.  We were giving warm chocolate chip cookies at check-in along with Scorpion warnings (eee!).  No towels on the floor; pick up all clothing;  zip up all bags;  close all purses; hang up all coats;  on and on it went all while we stood mouths a gap with a warm cookie in hand.  We checked out the room out for critters, dropped our bags, and crashed as remember it may be 11:00 p.m. in Tucson, but it was 1:00 Ohio time.  We were pooped!

Day 2:

We wake up at the butt crack of dawn, meaning around 5ish Tucson time, but we’re up, so we get a move on, shower and dress and get ready for the day.  Here is a photo out of our view. 

Lovely eh?  Oranges right outside our window.  Scorpion apparently love oranges.  Great            

We are expecting 80ish weather.  That would be a big nope.  Cold outside.  Freaking figures too.  Its 47 and expected to only get up to around 60.  So we go back in and change from shorts to jeans with jackets.  Then we step out for our first venture in a new land.  Tucson is…dirty.  Sun washed out browns and tans and yellows and greens, and enough dust to choke on.  Everything looks worn and old.  I am not saying it is, I’m saying it looks it.  What grass there is, is brown and dry and brittle.  Most of the lawns are gravel and weeds.  I was not expecting that.  I suppose that was naïve of me, as it is in fact a desert.  Duh.

We drove out to the Desert Museum.  On the way, there were mountains all around us.  Loads of them and instead of trees dotting the ground there were cactus’.  Saguaro Cactus’ to be exact (see I can learn).  Then we had to drive all the way almost to the top and over a mountain to get there.  The Museum was loads of fun.  There were caves, and animals, and reptiles, and fish and frogs and so much to see and learn and oooh and aaaah over.  We spent quite a bit of time there just wandering the trails and learning about the plants and the desert animals.  It was fun.  Cold, but fun nonetheless.

After the Desert Museum, we stopped at the National Wildlife Museum (It was on the way back down the mountain).   Stuffed animals and skeletal remains of every kind imaginable.  Including a few fables like unicorns, matadors, and mermaids, complete with history lesson.  There was a mammoth, which was so cool to see.  We have one in Ohio, but it’s behind glass so you can’t get right up next to it.  This one was RIGHT there in front of you.  So cool to see and touch (shhhh not sure if we were suppose to touch….). 

After the Wildlife we headed back down the mountain.  There were a few scenic views and climbing trails so guess what we did?  Yup.  We had so much energy still in us that we decided to climb around the mountain and see what we could see. 

After that we were truly tired.  We headed back to the hotel to clean up and then go find some food to eat for dinner.   After which we found a nice mall to roam for a bit before we went back to our hotel and called it a night around 10 (after first checking the beds for bugs).  All in all we had a lovely first day.

To be continued (I know that is just so mean….)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Tucson Festival of Books - March 10-11, 2012

This week, I will be leaving for the Tucson Festival of Books.  What is that?  Well, it’s a Festival for book lovers of all ages, held at the University in Tucson.  They have authors, they have publishers, they have booths for booksellers and other stuff, and best of all they have literacy areas, games, and activities for children and teens.  To find out more about the festival go HERE.

I am lucky enough to be taking part in two panels on March 10, 2012. 

The first is: 
Blood and Kisses: Paranormal Romance
Panel / Sat 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Education Building - Room 349

The second is:
Finally Getting Published! Debut YA Authors (adults)
Workshop / Sat 2:30 PM - 03:30 PM
Education Building - Room 333

After each panel, I will have a meet and greet and autograph session.  To find out more about my activities you can go here: HERE   Simply click on my name and you will get my schedule for the event.  Both Shadow Dancer and Shadow Warrior will be on sale at the store and I will be handing out bookmarks and such.  If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello. 

This is very exciting.  First of all, I have never ever, never been on an airplane.  I know, crazy right?  In order to get out to Tucson in time, I will have to take my first airplane travel trip. I’m really excited about this, but I am also scared to death! Motion sickness is one of my more troublesome issues.  We will be taking off from Columbus and landing in Phoenix, and then taking off again in Phoenix to end in Tucson.  That’s a lot of ups and down for me.  I really don’t want to start out or end my trip tossing my cookies.  It tends to ruin my mood. 

I am also a bit anxious about the panels.  Well, that’s a lie.  I’m frightened, big time.  I don’t do well in new environments where I have to actually talk.  I get so nervous that everything I say tends to come out way wrong.  Insulting wrong.  Then I try to fix what I have said and it just gets worse and worse.  Its one of the reasons I like being a hermit.  Plus I have an awful case of the “What ifs”.  What if I don’t know how to answer the question?  What if no one wants to ‘meet and greet’?  What if no one wants my books?  What if people hate me?  See, it’s a terrible thing.  I’m truly and completely making myself nuts.  Although I am sure it will all turn out just fine in the end, the gathering nerves are killing me. 

On a great side of things, aside from Saturday, I will have Friday and Sunday just to explore and see the great state of Arizona.  I don’t know yet what all we will venture out to see, but I plan on taking photos. 

Next Mondays blog may be a bit late in posting, as we fly back home on Monday.  I will post as soon as possible and will hopefully have some great photos and stories to share.  Pray than none of them include me falling off the stage or out of chair or calling someone fat or any of the other bad possibilities that could happen around me. Wish me luck!

Have a great week!