Con Recap: Lori Foster’s Reader-Author Get Together 2012

Now it’s time to hear about my adventures at the only convention I’ll be attending this year (unless someone fronts the money for the plane ticket). Since I’m equal parts lazy and in need of organization, this whole post will have headings. Let’s get started. Keep in mind the times (if they are mentioned) are approximations. I wasn’t keeping track of every second of every day.

Lori Foster’s Reader-Author Get Together 2012

Wednesday 30 May 2012, 4:30PM HST – Honolulu Airport
My bags are packed (one suitcase and one carryon) and the hubby drove me to the airport. Check in and screening took no time at all. The flight was on time and smooth as can be. I didn’t even have to pop my ears. After four flights (the two going and the two coming back), I’m convinced every pilot I had until now just didn’t know what they were doing.

This was an eight hour flight, crossing time zones so I ended up at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Thursday 31 May at 8:30AM CST. This is when things got a little hinky. The flights before mine were all delayed, which means my flight was delayed… by two hours. We were supposed to leave at 10:30AM. We didn’t get out of there until 12:30PM.

The flight itself was quick. We went up over a few feet (that’s how it seemed) and then back down. I didn’t even have time for a nap. The flight attendant Sabrina was hilarious. You can tell she enjoys her job. Or just does silly things to make it enjoyable.

Thursday 31 May 2012, 2:50PM EST – James M. Cox Dayton International Airport
I met up with Niny, the woman I was riding with to the hotel, and we picked up her rental car and headed out. She was in from North Carolina and had arrived a few minutes before me. Luck I guess. The drive from the airport to the hotel only took about an hour (not that far but there was traffic) and after a quick stop in to Chipotle (YES!!!) we headed over to the hotel to check in at 4:45PM EST.

Eating and sitting around watching a NCIS marathon of crimes of passion (I need to catch up on that series) made me a little sleepy. I figured I could catch a quick nap before Duffy Brown’s party that night. No luck. Deb, another con goer and my ride to the party, phoned me to say she was ready to go. The party started at 7PM and it was a little ways from the hotel, so I pulled myself up and threw on the 20’s outfit I had put together and headed to the lobby.

Sure enough there was traffic, but we got there with a minimum of fuss. I have to say that Duffy Brown is NUTS. This woman went all out for the party. She has a huge gorgeous house with an amazing garden that she decorated for the Speakesy/Roaring 20’s themed party. She made appetizers, two lasagnas, manicotti, FRESH garlic bread, and more. There was Gin Fizz and Strawberry Daiquiris (unfrozen). There were cake pops AND sheet cake. And there was a murder mystery to solve with an ELABORATE set up. Everyone at the party was a character with their own description and personalized. We’re talking eight families with at least seven members each.

The costumes some people wore were amazing. I hope some pictures show up. No, I didn’t take pictures. I actually spent the beginning of the party talking to my mom on the phone. She had taken the Greyhound from Augusta, GA to OH so she could see me. There was a miscommunication where she thought the hotel was in Columbus so she ended up renting a car to get to me.

Anywho, so the party was a HUGE success. Everyone had a great time. If you decide to do LFCon in the future and don’t mind an extra day, I say get there in time to do Duffy Brown’s party. Totally worth it.

But the adventure didn’t end there. It started raining as soon as the sun set, so we had to move the party in doors. Around 9PM EST everyone started heading home. Deb, Niny, and one other lady piled into Deb’s minivan to head back to the hotel. And then disaster struck. The minivan driver’s side windshield wiper decided it wanted to be on the side of the car instead of the windshield. O.O!!

Deb pulled off on the side of the road and I first tried to fix it then Niny. No luck. Deb called her son but he didn’t have any suggestions for us and was too far away to come get us. So we decided to chance it. Going slow and with hazards, Deb got back in traffic. Thanks to all of working together, we arrived at the hotel in one piece. Deb parked the van and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

I headed up to my room to change and give Flash (Stephanie Burke) a call. She hadn’t arrived yet (I figured she would be there by now) and I wanted to know her progress. They were just passing Reynoldsburg. Not sure how far out that is from the hotel, but it meant they still had a ways to go. This is alarming because Flash still needed to drive up to Akron and pick up Camille Anthony. The original plan was to drive from MD with Joy (of Joyfully Reviewed), PJ Schnyder, and Dana Marie Bell and then pick up Camille in Akron and come down. That plan got changed because there wasn’t enough room in the seven-passenger minivan for Camille and her scooter.

In hindsight, if I had known what time Flash and the others were getting there, I would have taken a quick nap. As it was, I was anxious and had a migraine. Around 1:30AM EST (Friday 01 June), Flash and the others roll up. She gets the minivan unloaded and we jump on the highway with me driving. She was way too tired to even attempt it. The rain slowed us down. That and missing our exit and having to take the scenic route back. Suffice to say, we didn’t get back to the hotel until 10AM EST.

I went straight from the minivan to the bag stuffing party. Okay, it’s not a party per se. I just feel like the bag stuffing is part of the event. It’s fun to chit-chat with everyone and to see the promo everyone has provided. While it was fun, it was also a little rough for me. I still hadn’t slept yet and I hadn’t eaten either.

After bag stuffing, I bought tea and two pastries at Starbucks (the hotel has one inside now) and went back to the room to veg before registration. I just needed some alone time to recoup. Not to sleep. If I had went to sleep, I would have been out and nothing would have woke me. So I sat staring at the TV and resting.

A little after 3:30PM EST Flash gives me a call and tells me to get my butt downstairs since the registration line is getting longer by the second. I get dressed and gather up my giveaway basket as well as my jar full of macadamia nut Hershey Kisses for the Count the Kisses contest and head downstairs.

I dropped off the giveaway basket (sidenote: this year there were 180 baskets for the raffle) and then joined Flash in line where I met up with the Audrey and Angela who had a basket for me full of New Orleans love. I will take a picture and post that later. Registration went pretty quick and the mingling began while we waited for the pizza party to start.

I started making rounds around the room to pimp my Count the Kisses contest. Price Is Right rules apply. Guess the number of kisses and the closest without going over wins the jar. I received a pretty good number of entries for this contest. But then macadamia nut Hershey kisses are only sold in Hawaii.

Part way through my rounds, I met up with Brannan Black. She’s a fellow Changeling Press author and this was her very first convention. It was great hanging out with her. I showed her around the best I could. I’m sure it was a bit overwhelming for her since there were people coming up to me every five seconds for my autograph. No I’m not that famous, however I am an Author Island author and AI has a contest every year for a Kindle that involves gathering autographs. It’s a great way to practice my autograph since it differs greatly from my signature.

Moving on. The pizza party started and I got Lady B’s permission to use the mic to announce my Count the Kisses contest rather than going table to table. Right before I got on stage my mommy showed up. For those who may have forgotten or just filed it away as superfluous info, I mentioned my mom called the night before. Well after sightseeing all day, she showed up at the party to take pictures and say hi. She was pretty much in and out.

After the pizza party, I headed over to the boardrooms for my pitch with Sue Grimshaw of Random House. The pitch went really well even though Sue said no. My title isn’t right for the Loveswept line, but she invited me to submit if I happen to write a story that was suitable. I’ve got her business card and I’ll keep her in mind.

The rest of the night was hanging out and chit-chatting with people who I haven’t seen in a year. Around 1AM, maybe 2AM, I finally FINALLY crawl into bed so I can get some sleep.

Saturday 02 June 7:30AM EST – Union Centre Marriott
Flash, Mona (third roommate), and I roll out of bed and head to breakfast in the main meeting room. It’s pajama morning Saturday so we don’t bother getting dressed yet. This is a tradition Flash and I started ever since the first LFCon four years ago. The first time we did it as a fluke. No one raised a fuss, so we decided to keep doing it. A few others joined in the fun. I’m sure more will do it next year until everyone starts doing it. Breakfast is at 8AM and the first real event isn’t until 9AM, so running down in your sleep gear to get a bite to eat before you change for the day just makes sense.

My first event was at 11AM so it made perfect sense for me to do the pajamas thing. Flash, Mona, and I enjoyed a slow morning before the author speed chats. For those who don’t know, this is when readers go room to room chatting with authors in a one-on-one setting. Though it usually becomes a group on one setting pretty soon. Flash and I were in the same room and I really didn’t expect many people to show. We had got quite a few people. That was a real ego boost. I got to tell the Apple Crisp story. If you don’t know what that is, you have to wait to see me or Flash in person to find out or track down Hugh Casey, the originator of the story.

The speed chat led directly into lunch, which was a make-your-own-sandwich buffet and tomato bisque soup. YUM! This hotel does an amazing job with food. That tomato bisque was FANTASTIC. But I digress. By this time I was sick of carting around the Count the Kisses jar and guarding it from those who wanted to steal it (all in good fun mind you but still wearing on my nerves). Yeesh. Have to think twice about how I do this next year, or if I want to do this next year. So I announced the winner. I was really surprised at how much the jar held. The winner was Denise Barone who guessed 201. There were 204.

Next up was the book signing. I thought this would be my time to wander around, but it turns out Linda from B&N had ordered some copies of Serenity since she recognized my name from the years before. So I had a spot to sign. I was between Jenna Bayley-Burke and Robyn Bachar. Two very funny ladies. We chit-chatted the whole time about random things and joked with a model from Hot Damn Designs. It started off with Jenna’s chocolate and then he came back with handcuffs and then the banana. About the time he came back with the banana, I had to take a picture. 😛

Right after the book signing ended at 4PM EST came the photo sessions. That’s when all the authors got together (those who were paying attention to the time) and took one huge group photo and then all the different pubs and book clubs and such took photos. Once I get my copies, I will post those. I was in six: authors attending, Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press, Siren-Bookstrand, and Author Island Authors. I made damn sure to pay attention to the time this year. I had missed last year’s group author photo (and the year before that too, I’m pretty sure) so I determined not to miss this year’s.

Photos ended and it was on to dinner, provided by Samhain: salad, veggie lasagna, baked chicken breast, potatoes and rolls. Huge selection of desserts though I only saw the cheesecake. Flash, Mona, Brannan, and I all ate in the hotel atrium rather than dodging tables in the main meeting room. We moved back to the meeting room for the announcement of raffle prizes. After much consideration I have decided to get a Kindle, I figured winning one would be nice.

Sidenote: I only chose Kindle because the majority of my ebooks are PRC format. I was big into Mobipocket and now that they are gone, the only ereader that can do that format is Kindle. So there you go.

The raffle ended and I didn’t win. Shiloh Walker won the COS package for the third year in a row. She’s very proud of that streak. She’s hilarious, but her method of winning is sound — buy more tickets than anyone else and stuff them all in one bag. I shall utilize that strategy next year if I decide there is a basket I want.

After the raffle, Mona, Flash, and I returned to our room for some down time. The last event of the evening was the Author Island Western-themed Party at 8PM EST, so we decided a little rest was in order. DeNita of Author Island always throws the BEST parties. The turn out for this year was fantastic. Everyone had fun at the games, many prizes were won, and I got my devil ducky. (Sidenote: The story behind the devil ducky is a long one and this post is already too long so just ask me about it if you want to know.)

The party wrapped with everyone having had a great time. DeNita was really happy with the way things went. Flash, Mona, and I stood around chatting with the people hanging around the atrium for a few hours before heading back to our room. Flash went to sleep since she had a lot of driving to do while Mona and I stayed up talking about whatever. Since I was leaving at 3:30AM EST and it was already past midnight, there was no point of me even trying to sleep.

Sunday 03 June 2012, 3:30AM EST- Heading Out
Niny and I pack up the car and head out to Dayton International Airport. Or we think we’re heading to Dayton International. Turns out there are TWO Dayton Internationals. Wright Bros Dayton International and James M. Cox Dayton International. Niny’s GPS and my phone found Wright Bros, however we didn’t realize this was wrong until we got to it. When we did the search again for the airport, my phone (go Google maps!) found Cox International but Niny’s GPS acted like it didn’t exist.

Long and short, we got there with an hour to spare before my flight. I used the self-check in to get my bag squared away and my tickets printed, rushed through security (as much as you can rush) and then got to my flight. Both flights home were on time and smooth sailing. 1:30PM HST I arrived at Honolulu International. 2PM HST the hubby came and got me and we were on our way to Anna Miller’s for lunch. After that, I came home, did a quick check of my mail for anything time sensitive (found nothing), took a shower, and then put my butt to bed. I didn’t get up until 4:50AM HST the next morning.

I’m still tired and will probably head to bed early tonight, but this was my weekend. As always, LFCon is my favorite convention to attend. This year was a little more stressful for me than usual, but I’m sure next year will be better.

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