Piano bar dreams in the hubbub… how I’d love a drink!

She croons with a velvety voice, the singer that slinks in the hotel lobby by a baby grand. Her eyes avoid the crowds milling and the crescendo of their conversations… she’s dreaming she’s somewhere else as she sings her heart out… Besame Mucho… Mona Lisa…

After three back-to-back workshops following the keynote luncheon, I could use a drink. Nora Robert’s keynote speech was nothing short of inspirational, the bottom line being, “be prepared to fight and work hard for your dream, its a tough gig but its worth it….”

I enjoyed bumping into Elizabeth Rolls at a workshop, regency romance Author  also from Aus and array of extremely interesting people at lunch. As they now have my card, I am obliged to add they are TOTALLY awesome (joke)!

Tonight I really have only one prerogative- preparing an elevator pitch for the mini novella I have whipped up as a prelude to my mini-series romance and first book, Red Silk Summer. Ten minutes with an editor, have to make it count… The other thing on my mind of course is whether I ought to be nuking another microwave meal at Hotel El-not-so-greato, as this swank conference hotel was totally booked out…

Has it been worth the walking through the heat to save on cab fares and risking heat stroke, microwave meals for months (okay, so the fact I can’t cook anyway is completely beside the point), and the endless pre-work mornings at Cafe Essen trying to complete my novel in time?

Frankly just to meet the array of authors I have spent countless hours reading and researching -in the flesh- to be around people who routinely face the same character questions and devise plots of conflicted lovers has been worth it, because it makes it all REAL. In a place like Canberra, the hub of Government, its easy to forget that possibilities exist and such dreams can be realised. In Canberra, romance writing is a pretty, fantastic notion…. in Orlando, its business!

Dreams are worth chasing and they are worth chasing hard…. and it is a fabulous dream to be here with some of the most powerful people in the industry giving talks and tips… and writers who share the same passion, the same dream.

I’m happy and grateful to be here after a year of planning. Tonight, tonight…I’m taking a cab back.

BUT FIRST! About that drink!

With fun Harlequin series author Kimberly Lang at the Wednesday night Literacy signing

You haven’t lived till you’ve shopped in Charlotte

I bet you’ve never heard that before! Every time I come to the US to visit, I prepare little lists of things to buy that I can’t buy at home. And every trip I swear its the last trip and next year I’ll be good… Sort of like when I walked into a shop today and declared to my friend Aurora “I am absolutely NOT allowed to buy anything in this shop.”

But it was ANTHROPOLOGIE. Store of ultra-chic, ultra-feminine, ultra-cute uber dresses. I am an aspiring romance author- cute dresses are like romantic… research. Thats exactly my point, the red fifties number with the sash that screamed out at me from the rack conquered me with the flutter of its hem. How could I possibly abandon it to a an unknown fate… and possibly never face the allure of such a dress again?

How, you may ask, can I possibly relate dress buying to romance writing? Ah… character driven conflict. The inner conflict and turmoil of knowing I OUGHT NOT buy the dress, the new object of my hearts content. And the desire to possess, own, don and flaunt! Its not particularly even that gorgeous, but it was very “me”. After all it was FORBIDDEN. And don’t we spend our lives defining ourselves? I shan’t start on my theories of consumer culture and identity… I will however state that a character’s interactions with other characters and the external world often appear to be about self-definition, self-discovery etc- the character does it and the reader identifies…

The difference between the romance with a new dress and newfound love however do boil down to one distinct difference. Long after the initial high of the discovery, the buy and the first wear, a dress can’t hold your hand. It can however make you smile!!!

And I shall be smiling somewhat this evening, shallow dress-loving creature that I am! Because after all, its not like I stopped at one!

Do all roads really lead to Rome?

Do all roads lead to Rome? That’s the question I ponder in a Nashville hotel room. How long has it been since I felt compelled to write?

Today I was reminded what it was like to travel. I love the insights. The snapshots into other people’s lives offered as small windows on their lives, offered in casually meaningful conversations, usually on airplanes.

The view always reminds me of where I am standing. For some reason, strangers talk to me on planes, they tell me things, probably because on some level I think they sense I do care, even if its the only conversation I ever have, it means something to me to be able to extend a few words of comfort or a smile.

We flew across the country watching as the landscape stretched from flat LA building grids, to desolate deserts and finally lush green landscapes that announced our arrival in the East.

“I’m a musician,” The young man told me. “I love to write songs. But I never finish anything, I don’t know why…”

He was young, handsome and torn. He was the quintessential artiste. The tortured part comes with the territory. “You know when you know when other people are happy or they are sad?” He asked. Yes, I knew. And I listened to his tale, the details of his life, his views, his passions and woes. I looked through the window and it touched me.

As the plane landed we remembered to introduce ourselves and our words were lost in the throng of hot bodies eager to spill out into the sweltering Tennesse air.

I collected my suitcase, chatted to a lady at the carousel as I waited and she welcomed me to Nashville with a copy of her CD (she was a song writer). I waited for the shuttle bus to the hotel. I wheeled my suitcase as I’ve wheeled it so many times before. I ate dinner and fended off fatigue. But the stranger’s words remained with me. His questions continued to confront me. Because there is no such thing as just listening… we listen and we participate. What answers could I possibly yield to the “glimpse” of heartbreak, pain and intense anger he had given me?

The bottom line is I don’t know the answers either, even though I was a decade older and supposedly so much wiser. And I still wonder if all roads lead to Rome…

The best I could hope for is that my simple words of goodwill and heart lingered with him, the way his fear and sorrow lingered with me. I was grateful for our conversation. Where is Rome anyway?

I told him everything would work out. I also told him to persevere and finish a song. Humble pearls.

Next stop: New York, New York. Yes, yes, yes!!!!