Monday, April 11, 2016

My Adventures in Houston at #Babit-Otherwise Known as Books Are Bigger in Texas #BABB

So... This weekend, I took a little trip to Houston, Texas, for the Books are Bigger in Texas Author Event put on by Eye Candy Bookstore...

OMG.  It was amazing.  Soooo organized.  I had a feeling, leading up to the event, it would be.  All of my invoices were accounted for, labeled correctly, and every time I had a question, Kellie answered it almost as soon as I asked it.

But these things scare the hell out of me.

First off, let me preface by saying this is my second-to-last scheduled event ever.  At this point in time, I don't have any planned events in 2017 and only one left for 2016.  After the last several events I've done, I've come to realize events are like a box of chocolates, and lately they've been more and more orange-creme filled left over from three Valentine's Days ago...

This one, though, was a TRUFFLE!  FROM THIS YEAR!

The hotel was Marriott, at the Woodlands, which is a rather upscale hotel, in a pretty sheltered part of Houston, and an artwalk was happening at the venue as well, so I automatically felt classier just for my arrival.

So, me and the hub-meister go in and get checked in, unpacked, and go back down to the restaurant to see who we can see, because that's what I do.  People I don't know freak me out.  So if I don't know them, I introduce myself.  That way, they're not strangers, and I feel better about things.  It helps though, if I have a beer in my hand.  There weren't too many strangers going on, because first thing, I ran into an old friend Mary Palmerin author of Gwendolyn and the Band of Barren Hearts and The Emancipation of Love, among other dark twisty romances...

She was there with Ashleigh Giannocarro, her co-author on a new dark, twisty series, the Goodbye Man and Goodbye Girl.  Now, Ashleigh is about as big as my pinky finger and cuter than a freaking button.  She's from South Africa, so her accent is amazing, but I didn't really get to talk to her much until Sunday morning.

Now, Mary and I had met before at events in Houston and Austin, so we had a good time catching up, and I was starting to relax about the stranger situation.  The hotel was very peaceful and pretty, and I was drinking.  Their beer was nasty but I managed to choke it down before switching to margaritas.  They actually made the margaritas out of something besides mixer and tequila, so they were quite pricey, but delicious.  And they weren't much more expensive than the gross beer, so I stuck with that, much to my detriment.  I will truly never learn... But strangers are reeeeaaally scary...

Before Ashleigh and Mary left, Stephanie got there.  Stephanie's a reader, and blogger, and works with bookie people, having a new PR type business, Between the Coverz.  And I've known her my entire life.  Can you see the photo-bomber?  You'll see him again, most likely.  That's the hub-meister, and sort of his thing...



Before I knew it, Fabie and Kristie Haigwood's flight got there, Jess daBookNut finally got out of traffic, and the Book Bitches arrived, so I had a crowd of peeps I was comfortable around, and the margaritas were delicious, so things got way fun... We caught up on things, we ate dinner, we met new people, and had more fun than a bunch of women had a right to.


Yeah... those margaritas were goooood...

The next morning, I regretted them all.  See, I do this every damn signing.  I get there, so freaking nervous I can't stand myself.  And I watch the hub-meister interact with everyone while I sit there, being all scared.  It works out though.  He's gaining a reputation as the mouthpiece of my business and in New Orleans, he managed to chat up Abbie Glines without having a clue who she was.  Anyway, hub-meister talks to people, while I silently drink, and by the time I'm loose enough to interact and network (i.e. make friends) I'm just drunk enough to not care about the signing tomorrow.

What?  The signing's tomorrow?



The signing was AH-mazing!!!!  So many people!  I say that, but when I looked up and saw this...



Yeah, when I looked up and saw this, I almost crapped my hungover pants.

Here's what it looked like from the other side, about an hour later...


Duuuuuuude....

There was no down time to be bored.  I was worried about a five-hour signing, afraid it was going to be too long.  I honestly thought there would be slow times, but no.  Every time I snuck out to go pee, I came back to this.  It was awesome.

Devon Ryan, my cover model, came and listened to me pitch my books for a while, before (I guess) he got bored hearing me say the same thing over and over and decided to give it a go.  I have NEVER heard a cover model pitch a book, but Devon goes about things differently, and it was really cool to have him take a personal stake in my books.  And he's a total cutie, we're friends, and someone actually by the time it was all over, asked if he was my kid.  I'm choosing to believe it's because he looks so young, and not that I look old enough to have a 27-year-old kid.  But she said we had a real 'chill' relationship, and we looked like we'd worked together before, so it ended up being a serious complement.


I met sooo many bloggers and readers.  Seriously.  And the craziness of it, is that KS Haigwood and I worked so well together.  I mean, we've written books together, so I know we work well together, but it was awesome to feel us interacting in person.  It was like a spark crackled between us, and we played off each other so well.

 





And this guy was there... I'd seen him, knew he was somebody's model, but never realized exactly who he was...

I had an entire conversation with him about bird poop, and when he introduced himself to Devan, I realized it's this guy...


Which, it's probably a good thing I didn't know that.  This is a coveted picture on my laptop, one which I look at often.  If I had known I was talking to tattooed ripped jeans guy, I wouldn't have been able to find enough spit in my mouth to form words.  He was incredible, though.  Lance Jones is funny, down-to-earth, and super nice.  Now that I know that, I'm anxious to work with him on some future project.

Other models were there, but it was so busy, I had to send Fabie off with my phone to take pics.  I had a reader who couldn't make it to the event request them, and the ever-accommodating girl that I am, sent Fabie.  She took it like a trooper.

 
Hillary Storm's cover model, Dylan Horsch, was also super sweet, but I didn't get much time to talk to him, either.  But he was always smiling, and that was nice to look at.

To be honest, I always have a hard time reconciling the model's face with the book cover I'm used to seeing them on.  He was a total badass on the cover of Ice, but definitely a sweet heart in person.

Since Hilary is one of the admins of Eye Candy Bookstore, I feel the need to say once again, what a great job everyone did with this event.  It wasn't centered on the models, even though here I am posting all about them.  But they are an experience in and of themselves, so I feel the need to make them a part of the post.

Fabie got more pictures, but they didn't turn out well, so I'm leaving those off.



Bloggers I met included Terrie, from Just Another Book Bitch.  She's been a long-time fan of my Four Winds series, and one of the first people to tell me it needed a book five.  She has no idea how integral she was in helping me finish that series.  The hub-meister (Photobombing) will tell the world it is his brain child, but Terrie honestly was the impetus for each subsequent book in the series.  I would start each one with, 'I can't wait for Terrie to read this.'




I also met the ladies from Alpha Book Review, who were a hoot, and I (or Devon, I'm not sure.  The hub-meister even got in on the pitching, so there's no telling who actually sold anyone on the books) got them to try out some of my books.  Always a treat!  This one's Tina. She was super sweet, but they all wore matching shirts, and it was awesome.

Bloggers are so important to this industry.  Honestly, without bloggers, their reviews, their promo, and their selflessness, we wouldn't have an industry.  For the most part, they don't get paid to do their job.  They do it because they are passionate about books.  Period.

Yes.  I heart bloggers. Hard.





The next morning, I hadn't slept a wink all night, because I was so wired from the experience.  I laid in bed, vibrating, while the hub-meister snored next to me until Kristie texted me to come plot with her.  I'd never done that in person, so off I went.  Problem was, it was 11:00 at night, my voice was gone, and someone had stuck sand paper to the backs of my eyelids, so it didn't last long.  By 1:00 I was snoozing in my own room, next to hubbie.  BTW, book three in the Moonrising series will be epic.

But the next morning, I learned all about the ins and outs of South Africa and how it compared to the US, while I inhaled too much coffee with Ashleigh Giannocaro after Mary and Di had gone to the airport.  It was a nice, relaxing finale to the weekend before heading off to breakfast with my brother.  It was lovely.

The drive home with the hub-meister was filled with reflections.  I have done three events that were as amazing as this one.  It's almost made me rethink my no more event policy...

But now, I'm totally stoked about the Thunder Valley Author Event in Oklahoma City in September.  I have high hopes for that one, and am learning that the more events I do, the fewer strangers there are...

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