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In the Company of Writers — Part One

I woke up my car this morning.

It’s unique to those of is seasoned conventionistas, that grumbly sound your vehicle makes when you turn the key and politely ask it to dust off the cobwebs and rub the three-day sleep out of its gears. It’s a beautiful sound, full of shiny memories and the anticipation of seeing my own shower, my own bed, and my beloved’s face again.

I’ve been attending conventions since 1996. A decade and a half of seeing new places, shaking hands with my heroes, and making friends from all over the planet. I pretty much know what to expect of the continental breakfast, the bathroom amenities (Douglas Adams Rule: always bring a towel), and the occasional panel or meeting or talk. I’ve donated my fair share to book swaps and raffles and freebie tables worldwide. My head, feet, and stomach have withstood the most horrible of tortures, but never so heinous that I’m not raring to pull up my bootstraps and pin down my tiara and jump into the breach all over again.

And yet, all conventions and conferences are not the same. Like people, each one is special, from place to place and year to year. From the coordinators and the consuites to the guests and the opportunities, each is a bright star in the sky of an author’s life.

In many ways, this weekend’s Washington Romance Writers retreat was the most special of all.

[More tomorrow, when I’ve had a little sleep…xox]

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The Princess and the Emerald City

I make reference sometimes to living in “The Emerald City,” and to allay confusion, I figured it would be best to clear this up.

I live in Northern Virginia, just outside Washington DC. (Outside the Beltway, for those familiar to the area.) As much as I would love to hang with Cherie Priest & Kat Richardson, I do not live in Seattle, which was given the nickname “The Emerald City” in 1981 because of its lush evergreen forests.

I refer instead to the Emerald City of Oz, as written by L. Frank Baum in 1900.

Back before I moved, I used to put “Ivory Tower” on a lot of my social networking sites when asked for my location. Fitting for a Princess, right? Only, the Princess destroyed that Ivory Tower and walked away…at which point my location changed to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” When you run away, sometimes you don’t want everyone to know where you are right away. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was as good a place as any. And until I settled down, that’s where it stayed.

You know that giant Mormon Temple you can see from 495? There’s an overpass there on which graffiti artists periodically scribe the infamous “SURRENDER DOROTHY,” because those ivory towers (ha) greatly resemble the architecture of the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz 1939 film.

I remember driving along 495, seeing those spires, and thinking, “I’m almost home.” Home. It’s a nice thought for someone who’s been traveling for so long. Home. And fitting for a Princess who fled Somewhere Over the Rainbow to settle, n’est-ce pas? And so I refer to my current location, from time to time, as The Emerald City.

Besides — green’s my favorite color.

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One Guy Can’t Ruin It For Everybody

I have seen a couple of double rainbows in my life, during very important times in my life. It’s one of those signs I feel the universe gives me to remind me that it hasn’t lost track of me — I’m on the right path, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do with my life.

And then some dorky guy posted a three minute cheesegasm to YouTube that everyone made fun of and turned this beautiful majestic freak of nature into a joke. I’m not even going to link to it. If you haven’t seen it and want to find it, you will.

Double rainbows remain awesome and magical to me. Especially after coming back from an awesome and magical convention like Necon, to the awesome and magical place where I’m supposed to be.

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So Full of It

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Lee: So is “Chock Full o’Nuts” just nuts, or is it something with nuts?

Della: There are no nuts at all in it. It’s coffee.

Lee: Is it made with nuts?

Della: No.

Lee: Does it taste like nuts?

Della: Nope.

Lee: Then why is it “Chock Full?”

Della: I keep meaning to Google it and find out.

Lee: Hmm. I should blog about that.

Della: Yup.

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When Darts Go Bad

It all started when Dickie told Della that he’d buy her a bottle of Kraken Rum (you should totally check out their website) if she shot Joe in the butt with a dart…

That’s my girl.

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Graduating to Pointy Objects

Back in the Ivory Tower, roller skating was my poison–no, not poison…it was the rapunzel I cultivated in my garden until it flourished green and tempting to naive passersby.

But the tower crumbled–as towers do when self-rescuing princesses have access to dynamite–and I made my journey Over the Rainbow. I spent some time healing in Munchkinland before I put on my Big Girl shoes and danced my way here: The Emerald City.

Green always *has* been my favorite color.

There are teenagers here aplenty, but we fly our zombie turtle flag and paint macaroni and raid books out of car trunks. I’ve hung up my purple rollers and pom-poms and tagged along with my tall misfit crew to Dart League Night.

I’m not on the team, of course, but I get to cheer, and give shoulder massages, and play a few games during practice. It’s been a long time since Dave Buchert’s basement but I don’t suck too badly…not like they’d suddenly stop liking me even if I did.

The music’s not as loud here as it is at the rink, and I’ve made some new friends, which is nice. Heck, I almost feel like a grown up! (she said, as she propped her slippers up under the bar table and sipped her Diet Coke full of cherries…)

I think I like this new City. I may stick around for a while…

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