Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Jersey Girl Went to Texas...

I went to Texas. Seeing that in print makes my eyes squint and my head tilt. It's weird. Innocuous, Out of place. Me. In Texas, which always sounds in my head in William Shatner's voice from Miss Congeniality: TEX-ASS!!

I went to Texas because, as I *may* have mentioned before, I was a finalist in the West Houston RWA Emily Awards in the romantic suspense category. This is the first time I've finaled in a writing contest and I wanted to enjoy the experience to the hilt. Since I came home a winner - I did!

We made a weekend of it, the four of us: historical romance writer Vicky Dreiling who had pushed me to enter the Emily in the first place, myself, my conference wife Anne Baker, (who brought me this great push me button that says things like "Go for the gold! But not in a mean way! Go for it in a character-building way!" and the magnet to the right, which I think we all can agree is deliciously apropos), and Harlequin writer Kristi Gold, whose North Texas accent had a blast with my Jersey ears. We laughed, we talked, we ate and drank and talked about the publishing business and writing and then laughed some more. Good friends are the things that get you through the hard times - but it's a blazing joy to have good times to celebrate with them too.

Emily Pin
The members of West Houston RWA were utterly warm and welcoming, rolling out the Texas and romance hospitality all at once. I had such a lovely day among them, meeting new people, talking about romance, and pitching to agents. Such warmth and instant camaraderie is a unique aspect of romance writers. We're not perfect and any time you get a bunch of women together, the claws almost always will come out eventually whether in private...or, with us, usually in print. But on the whole, the support and generosity in the romance community is one of its finest and most enduring traits.

I love to fly. I love being above everything, as though the whole world has stopped, all the dramas that fill my life pausing while I'm in the air. I love having the unknown ahead. When I drove through Ireland in '99, I didn't even have hotel reservations anywhere.Wherever I landed was where I stayed (made for some interesting nights, I'll tell you). There was a freedom in that, fear sometimes, utter and total panic once or twice, but excitement and liberty above all.

The trip out

I haven't flown anywhere for a few years now, but this short trip to Houston was enough to spark my wanderlust. I'll be in California this summer and Arizona after that and I can't wait to get going.

World's above

Sure, I dread those evils of flying we all live with these days: the boarding and the squishing and the bag fees and the dark thrill of being crammed into a tiny metal tube and propelled into the air 30,000 feet above the earth. I actually love take offs and landing, the thrust of power, the success of wheels touching down again. Once I'm settled in my seat and the window shade is up and the air is clear to the horizon - ah. There's a whole 'nother world up there.

Still, I could never be an astronaut. My rampant imagination would work overtime on all the ways I could die before ever breaching the atmosphere and I'd hyperventilate at the first glimpse of a space suit. But when I'm on a plane, I fully understand the passion astronauts have for space travel, the driving need to return to space almost from the moment they land. It must be an extraordinary thing to look through one of these tiny windows and see the entire world laid out before you in celestial banquet.

There's an oil platform...somewhere
I had the rare treat of being able to meet up with a wonderful Internet (and now real-life) friend that Sunday. She drove us down to Glaveston and the Gulf Coast in seriously crappy weather and we had a great time babbling away to each other. Our sunny moods defeated the cold and cloudy day and we parked and walked along the shore line as I snapped shots with my reluctant Canon camera until in desperation, I finally reverted to the phone cam. What an absolute treat it was to see a visit a new body of water and pick up unique rocks and shells, like I was a kid again at Sandy Hook.

I went to Texas. And I won the contest. And I saw the Gulf. And it's not even March yet. Who knows what else 2012 has in store for me?

Stay tuned.


  1. Congrats again and I'm so glad you had such a great time.

    Also, that pin is darling.

    1. Thanks, Julia!! I'm quite fond of the pin myself. ;-)