In Their Shoes

I’ve drafted a story for my Trillium group that takes place during the Gettysburg Address. As I researched the time period, I thought about the women who stayed behind to care for the farms while their husbands, sons and brothers enlisted to fight their cause. How each day they wondered if they would ever see their men again. How they would survive if news came of their losses.

I also think of the men at Gettysburg who served. Were they scared under their bravery? Were they forced to enlist without an understanding of why they were fighting? Were they courageous and determined to win for their side? Were they in it for the rush? Were they thinking of honor when they died?

From battles before Gettysburg to this day, we have had men and woman who have served and died to protect our country’s freedom. We will never know what it’s like being in their shoes—to know their thoughts, feelings, or reactions when dodging bullets or seeing someone attack them with the intent to kill. How they took their last breath.

They are our heroes. They fought for freedom. They made sacrifices for their families and country. They didn’t hide but took on their responsibilities because they knew what was important.

My thoughts are with those who have died while serving and to their families. For each one, they deserve at least one day. Happy Memorial Day!

RT Conference Day 4 & 5

I must admit by Day 4…I was exhausted. I went to a couple of sessions, but I also spent time in the hotel room for quiet and to work on edits for my next book. The view from the hotel room was terrific.

Looking out at the Mississippi River.

Looking out at the Mississippi River from the 27th floor of the Sheraton.

The evening parties were Avon’s Krewe of Muses, where they gave away a ton of books, and Heather Graham’s Mardi Gras Magic and Mayhem Dinner and Dance. I was impressed by the great costumes this year. Even Heather made a grand entrance in a mini Mardi Gras float.

Heather Graham

Heather Graham

Tina and I didn’t dress in costume but we had great masks:

Me and Tina Susedik

Me and Tina Susedik

Two of our friends:

Kate and Amy

Kate and Amy

Day 5
Tina and I walked around the French Quarters and along the Mississippi during the day to get some fresh air. In the afternoon we attended the Eloise James, Lisa Kleypas, and Juliana Gray session of making your own tiara. We helped clean up the room afterwards and then scurried to set up Jade Lee’s session in the same room. Jade’s session had Scott Nova… shirtless. Oh yeah. Not to be missed.

Scott Nova

Scott Nova

To end the night, we gathered for drinks at the Sheraton and then headed to Harlequin’s party… the closing event for RT.

All in all, this RT convention was awesome. I loved getting out and exploring the French Quarters, seeing the Mardi Gras floats, and participating in the pub crawl. The food and drinks were great but the best, as always, was meeting wonderful people who had the same interest… writing and/or reading great romance books.

RT Convention Day 3

A busy day with sessions and networking. Two tips from sessions I attended:

1. Amazon – be proactive. Amazon sees you as a customer so click on those links and this can help with your ranking.
2. Craft – First pages – engage with a strong compelling character and let the reader know the genre.

A busy night with Pub Crawl down Bourbon Street and then the Saints and Sinners Party at Samhain. I loved watching the faces of those on Bourbon Street as hundreds of RT attendees barreled down the street looking for male models and collecting beads… not to mention a few drinks.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

Enjoying the Samhain event: Diane Petersen and Amy Stratton from Michigan.

Enjoying the Samhain event: Diane Petersen and Amy Stratton from Michigan.

RT Convention Day Two

The conference has started and in full bloom. As one person stated, “The lobby is like a swarm of bees… a lot of bees.” I’ve connected with friends, readers, reviewers, and bloggers.

This year Tina and I are giving away a tote filled with our books and Wisconsin goods. We had some issues with trying to wrap the tote but we managed. Our tote will be raffled on Friday afternoon.

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After the day events of learning craft and social media, we went by busloads to Mardi Gras World. Our first event was the Grand Oaks Mansion for the Pirates, Scalawags and More party.

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Next, we followed a New Orleans second-line band to the warehouse where they store the Mardi Gras floats. One word…. amazing!! We lined up in front of the floats and watched a mini parade with, of course, beads tossed to all of us by the sponsors of the event. We finished at the hall where we sampled different New Orleans foods and listened/danced to a live band before heading back to the hotels.

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Second day was great. I heard a lot of people wonder how they (RT) were going to top this event. Thanks to all the sponsors – what a wonderful night!

RT Conference 2014 New Orleans – Day One

Tuesday I left for the Romantic Times Convention in New Orleans. Six days of fun, inspiration, friends, and lessons. My journey started at 3:30 in the morning to get to the Mpls/St Paul airport. I had a little snag with having the right ticket and no seat number (flight was overbooked), but I did get on the plane and had a smooth flight to Dallas.

The Dallas airport became a “friend” when I looked up at the board to see my connecting flight to New Orleans was cancelled due to storms. In my years of travel, I never had a cancelled flight. I think the person at the ticket counter must have took pity on me. After clicking up a storm on his computer, he got me on the 2:20 flight as standby and then a confirmed seat on the 4:10.

So what do you do when you’re stuck at an airport for four hours? You eat and drink. I had a great dark Texas beer that was actually light in taste called Texas Broc… I’m not sure if that’s the full name. I’ll find out on Sunday when I visit the bar again on the way home. Hopefully my layover isn’t as long.

At 1:30 I was ready for that 2:20 flight. So were 33 other passengers. Bad news, I didn’t get on the flight. Good news, I met Angie Stanton and we headed for the bar to have a drink while we waited. When we finally got on the plane and landed in New Orleans, we were both thankful that our checked luggage was waiting for us.

My feet and suitcases were planted safely at the hotel by 7:00 p.m. Tina Susedik, my roommate, was already checked in. She took me to a restaurant in the French Quarters with great food and great staff. My travel stress was leaving as the light ale and food were welcomed in. Oh yeah….

Romantic Times Convention Pre-Trip

Today was spent packing and getting ready for the 2014 RT Convention in New Orleans. I’m looking forward to the week’s events, meeting new authors and readers, seeing friends that I haven’t seen in a while, and learning a few new things to keep my writing fresh.

This week, my Monday night blog will be delayed. My goal is to post throughout the week on my experience at RT.

Until later….

Lessons Learned: Patience has won

My week has improved. I knew that with patience and time all would be better. I wouldn’t say world peace better but enough to make me smile. My bronchitis is going away; however, my allergies seem to be sprouting. The weather turned sunny and a little warmer which makes it easier to go out and enjoy the day. And the few people that were stressed…well some are still stressed, but they are taking it one day at a time with hope that it’ll improve.

For my mom, one of those stressed, losing her husband was tough. Being together for over 60 years, they experienced a lot together. And now, she can’t depend on him to pick up the pieces that her brain can’t logically digest. She had depended on him to know their finances, to work things around the house (like the remote on the TV), and to talk on the phone because she couldn’t. Now she’s overly concerned about finances, how to handle simple things like changing the channel, and how she can talk on the phone in hope that the person will understand her. She is missing him. We try to cheer her up. We spend time with her. We teach her how to work things. We get her involved in events. Still, it’s not the same.

Friday night was the first time I heard excitement in her voice. She called me up to try telling me “something.” She told me that I had to be there right away before it went away. After determining the urgency, I told her I’d come see her in the morning. I brought my camera along, guessing she was talking about the Christmas cactus.

My dad loved his Christmas cactus. He’s had it for many years, and it’s been many years since it last bloomed. Each year he waited , hoping that “this will be the year” to see the red flowers pop out. He kept the cactus near his chair in the living room and watched it every day. One week before he died, he called up his sister and brother-in-law to see if they knew what to do to get his cactus to bloom. They told him to put it in the dark for a while to see if that would help. My dad decided to put it in the bedroom where there was less light.

Last week, the Christmas cactus showed signs of its first bloom. I was hoping that this is what my mom was excited about. I guessed right. The first flower had arrived, and it was a double bloom. I was excited right along with my mom as I took pictures so she could keep the memory. In a way I think my dad, up above, helped the cactus along. For my mom, I think seeing the flower means that she’ll be fine.

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