Monday, March 21, 2011

A Romance Novelist's March Madness

Don't pull out your brackets, folks. (Lord, that sounds obscene, doesn't it?). This blog isn't about hoopsters or college coaches. This is about the RT Booklovers Convention, which causes its own version of March Madness in those who are attending.

The convention itself is usually held in April. And yes, it's a time of glorious insanity, seminars, panels and parties. Books are everywhere, and so are writers, readers, publishers, agents, editors and the occasional cover model dude to up the testosterone component to at least point oh-oh-yum.

But it's the month prior to the event that gives rise to this blog. My March madness is prepping for RT. Now bear in mind that I'm a costume freak. I love thinking about costumes, designing them, making them, tweaking them, tweaking them some more and then putting them away to start over because they haven't worked. Yes, I have had to create a closet in my basement and line it with cedar to hold the fantasy elements of my apparel. I can cover most time periods from the Dark Ages to Victorian. I'll be adding something definitely Steampunk-ish this year. So the first wave of madness hit last the designs for THIS year's costumes took shape.

Stepping around the mounds of costumes/accessories/shoes/hats, the madness moved to regular clothes. Sadly, there are times at RT when ordinary clothing is required. Why is this so? Doesn't everyone love flouncing around swanky hotels in a gown? Or in pirate breeches? Come on people! What's the matter with you???? Grow DOWN! Find your inner child and slap wings on her. I always do. See? This photo is me last year. LOL (Okay, it's not really me at the convention. This was while I was shopping for frozen sprouts at the supermarket.)

First question has to be where is the convention this year and what's the weather like? Will I need flannel jammies or a silk teddy? (No, I don't sleep in silk teddies. They creep into places that are damned uncomfortable. I'm simply going for an analogy here. Stay with me.) Will it be cool (Columbus; Pittsburgh) or am I going to fry my ass if I step outside? (Daytona; Orlando) This year it's LA. Am I going to get my brains rattled by an earthquake? Hell, I don't know. That's something I simply can't do anything about, so I'll stick that in the "don't even go there" mental file.

It looks like snow is unlikely (that may sound silly, but I live in New England. Snow is NEVER an impossibility). I think I can safely put the fleece back in the drawer. But heavy humidity isn't high on the 'average weather data' for Southern California either. It's apparently a desert, judging from the numbers. With occasional downpours.

(Shrug. It's LA. One expects weirdness, and it would seem the weather obliges.)

So layers, silk and lightweight stuff. Good. That's half my closet. Now all I have to do is whittle it down to the handful of perfect outfits - one for each day I'm there. The ones that make me look most like Angelina Jolie and least like Mrs. Doubtfire.

No sweat, huh? Piece of cake. NOT.

By now, the Madness has increased to an all-consuming insanity that hits me at dawn, follows me around the house and persists into my dreams, turning them into nightmares where I stand naked in the foyer of a fancy hotel being stared at by enormous numbers of perfect blondes who all look like Gwyneth Paltrow. Then they point and giggle. No wonder I'm not sleeping well. I have a portable clothing rack which holds the final sixteen and a small mogul of shoes next to it. Over the next two weeks they will be winnowed down to the "final four" or, in my case, the final eight outfits.

And then they'll be ironed, folded in tissue and packed into my two new suitcases - the ones that weigh less than a butterfly's wing thanks to 21st century technology. Yes, I'll have to pay to get 'em to LA, but it'll be easier in the long run than shipping stuff. And then - finally - this year's March Madness will be over and I'll be winging my way across this magnificent country of ours to the "other" coast.

That's when the REAL mania will begin. I hope. You know the sleep, eat when you remember to, IV drips of coffee as the sun rises and more hugs from friends old and new than you can imagine squeezing into a week. We do this because it has to last us eleven months and twenty one days or so...until the next convention and the next attack of March Madness.

Long may it reign,

Cheers - see you in LA!!!

Sahara Kelly


The Facilitator - releasing March 22, Samhain Publishing
Princesses Gone Wild - with S.L. Carpenter - coming soon from Decadent Publishing