Monday, March 23, 2009

Treks in the City

I have returned, and I've spent most of the day so far getting caught up on life -- getting through the 400 or so e-mails that arrived while I was gone (which involved extensive use of the "delete" function, I must admit -- they were mostly mailing lists), paying bills, getting groceries, etc. I still haven't got my brain caught up because it's still full from the trip.

This was mostly a business trip, so I didn't do a lot of touristy stuff. I also wasn't feeling great by the weekend, not really sick, but just not feeling up to doing much beyond lying around and resting. That could also be because I was overwhelmed from information overload and people overload. And then there was the weather. With all the changes, I could have been in Texas. When I arrived on Wednesday, it was a warm, sunny day, and I got a bit warm even just wearing a sweater. On Thursday, it was cool and rainy (which I rather enjoy). It snowed Friday morning. I'm not sure what Saturday was really like because I only left the hotel to dash to the deli across the street. By Sunday, it was getting warm again.

On the "fun" side of things, we went to Ellen's Stardust Diner on Wednesday night, one of those places with aspiring Broadway stars as actors, and they perform in between waiting tables. For the last couple of weeks, I've had the song "So in Love" from Kiss Me Kate stuck in my brain, and wouldn't you know, as we walked in, one of the guys was singing that, and he turned out to be our waiter (I think he was the best singer of the bunch). Once he found out that we were romance authors, he made a point of singing love songs and directing them at us. Then he hinted (rather strongly) that he would make a great romance hero, or we could write a book about singing waiters. I told him I already had (although in this case, the waiters weren't meant to sing, but there were magical hijinks). They also encouraged the audience to sing along, which I'm afraid I inflicted on my tablemates.

Thursday morning, a group of us walked over to Grand Central for a tour. The tour guide was wonderful and great at telling all the behind-the-scenes stories. However, he didn't take us down to the secret tunnels to show us the dragons. I was rather disappointed. I won't look at the place in quite the same way again, now that I know the stories. And we were informed that everyone has the name wrong. It is technically Grand Central Terminal, because a station is a stop where trains may continue, but at a terminal, all the trains start or finish there. I know I used the wrong wording in my books, but everyone calls it Grand Central Station, so I went with the way people really talk. It had started raining by the time we left, and of course I'd left my umbrella at the hotel, so I just took my glasses off to avoid water spots and let myself get wet. The result was that with the rain and the slight blur, the city looked like one of those impressionistic cityscape paintings, which was nice. It also turned out that there were so many people with umbrellas on the very crowded sidewalks that with some ducking, bobbing and weaving, I managed to go most of the way passing under other people's umbrellas and didn't get all that wet.

We started the conference with an industry reception where editors and agents outnumbered authors. That meant we were able to convene a meeting of the Curly Mafia, where I picked up a few more hair care tips. And I showed off the picture still in my camera of the Generic Urban Fantasy Cover Halloween costume to the urban fantasy editors, who got a kick out of it.

The rest of the weekend was conference sessions (and one quest for an Italian restaurant when the one I like turned out to be closed for a private party). This is a kind of scary time in the publishing industry, and to be honest, I'm not sure how much the powers that be really know what they're doing. There are ways to make things better, but it doesn't sound like they're willing to do what it takes. We did get some publishing executives to admit to the doom loop thinking that kills off genres or trends, but they also admitted that they don't see a way not to act that way.

The authors were rolling their eyes by the end of a day full of industry speakers when every single one of them told us that the best thing for an author to do to survive in a difficult climate was write the best books we can. Which, of course, was a major revelation. Why didn't we think of that? We shouldn't have been just throwing junk out there like that. I think if one more person had told us that, there may have been torches and pitchforks.

Finally, I had a good trip home, and it was a good thing I didn't accept any of the offers of a ride home from the airport because my flight came in nearly 40 minutes early, and I'd have been stuck waiting around the airport. As it was, I got off the plane, got a cab, and was home about half an hour after we landed. I got a proper welcome home to Texas, since the bluebonnets planted on the airport grounds had just started blooming.

Meanwhile, I'm rather pissed off at the Channel Formerly Known as Sci Fi, since they didn't announce until the day it aired, which was too late for me, that the Battlestar Galactica finale would run 12 minutes long. I know how it ended, and to be honest, I think I like it ending where my tape cut off a little better. Still, running that much over is the kind of thing that ought to be in the TV schedules, and it wasn't, not even on the Sci Fi web site, which I did check to make sure it wouldn't run over before I set my VCR.

And I think I finally got my appropriate, desired level of Killer Robot action, thank you very much.

No comments: