Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Summer, Summer, Summer!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

And so far it’s been a great one. Eldest Son returned home from teaching abroad, and we went on a road trip to see Youngest Son at his co-op job in northern Alberta. A great family time was had by all.

I put the final touches on a submission for Evil Twin and sent said sub off to ET’s editor. Being ET, the submission got caught in cyber-space, an issue that has now been rectified. ET’s editor is looking at her submission now.

As for moi, I’ve gone over critique notes for PICTURE IMPERFECT, my upcoming single title mystery romance, and figured out how I’m going to layer in extra emotional depth. A key to uncovering extra depth to the emotion came through rewriting the synopsis, for once without a care as to the length but to what the synopsis could reveal to me about the characters and their journey. I am super excited to get into the revisions (my last round before the book hits a copy editor’s desk), but, alas, first I must hie myself down to San Antonio for the RWA National Conference!

I’ve visited Texas before, but never San Antonio. I’m really looking forward to exploring what sounds like a beautiful city. To connecting with writing friends, networking with writing professionals, and attending excellent workshops.

I’m taking a small camera. I’m usually not very good about these things, but if I can manage I’ll post a picture or two.

San Antonio, here I come!

NINC Report

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

I am back from the NINC conference and thinking about the people in the East affected by Hurricane Sandy. My roommate at the conference, Susan Lyons, was on one of the last flights to get out of the White Plains airport Sunday night.

The conference was very beneficial to attend. I have never attended a NINC conference before, and I liked the small size and getting to know the members of Novelists, Inc. aside from on the email loop. We were super busy! The sessions began at 8 a.m. and, if you attended the casual Night Owl sessions, could end as late at 10 p.m.

The first day featured a series of panels, and then, at the end of the day, NINC members asked questions of the panel members. I took notes, but it will be a while before I consult them. Too much on my plate this week to accomplish first.

The Thursday and Friday, there were traditional workshops, where the audience could either ask questions during the presentation or afterward. There were also NINCThink Round Tables, and I participated in two of those. The round tables featured industry guests (agents, editors, reps from Amazon and other digital media, cover designers, independent editors, etc.) and also NINC members. Some NINC members on the round tables were volunteers (like me) who felt they had something to contribute to the conversation while others were invited to sit on the round table as more of an “expert” in the subject area. For example, Bella Andre—who just sold a print-only deal to a major publisher while retaining all the e-rights that she’s managed to build into a hugely successful career—was invited to attend the Foreign and Subsidiary Rights round table. Elizabeth Jennings, who lives in Italy and knows a LOT about translations, what a good translation is and how much they might cost, also had a lot to contribute.

As a side note, apparently, we were told, print-only deals are not possible, but Bella Andre has proved that isn’t the case! Granted, she is definitely an outlier, but she is blazing a trail. Go, Bella!

Perhaps the most “entertaining” round table was the Changing Role of the Agent, where a handful of high-powered traditional agents discussed the rise of Indie publishing and how traditional partnerships might still advance an author’s career. Buttons were pushed, and a rousing discussion ensued.

Something I really enjoyed about the NINC conference is that the writers aren’t there to pitch to the editors and agents. So when you meet NYC editors who are on your panel, you’re meeting them as another round table guest, not someone to accost with a pitch or someone to feel nervous around. Private business meetings were still conducted, but we were there to learn from each other, instead of it being a one-way street. I think the format worked well, except that most of the NINC membership really wanted the ability to ask questions DURING the round tables, rather than finding someone afterward to ask a question. So if NINC uses the round table format again in the future, I’m sure there will be some adjustments. That said, I do feel the format worked well this year, because otherwise there can be a lot of questions from the audience and the specific questions for the round table participants might not get answered.

I hope if NINC does follow the round table format at a future conference, that more NINC members will volunteer to participate. Yes, I was nervous, but it helped that I haven’t had my eye laser surgery touch-up yet and so I couldn’t see the audience clearly anyway! I could see the fellow round table participants clearly and therefore “focused” (haha) on them.

It was a long trip back, but I am now unpacked and ready to begin uploading Catching Claire, the second romantic comedy short story in LOVE & OTHER CALAMITIES. Claire was loaded to Apple iTunes while I was gone. I have MOBI and ePub files to check, cover sizes to adjust, etc. As soon as the story is up, I’ll announce it on my blog. Then the remainder of my week will be devoted to updating my website, preparing a new newsletter, and catching up on bookkeeping. If I can get that all done this week, next week I’ll begin updating and revising BORROWING ALEX for Sindie Pubbing.

What do you have on your plate this week?

Deceiving Derek Release!

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

I’m taking a break following lunch at the NINC Conference to pop over and announce that Deceiving Derek, Story 1 in LOVE & OTHER CALAMITIES, is now available on Kindle, Kobo, Apple iTunes and Smashwords. Smashwords will eventually distribute to NOOK and Sony, but if you can’t wait you can pick up an ePub edition from Smashwords to read on your NOOK or Sony e-reader.

Because I’m away from my lovely desktop computer with all the power, I am unable to update my website Books pages, so I thought I’d share the cover, story blurb, and an excerpt here.


Lingerie designer Lacey DeMarco livens up her life by finagling an unsuspecting police detective into attending a funky bridal shower. She needs one last item to complete a scavenger hunt list, and handsome cop Derek McAllister is it. But a little trickery is at work. Both Lacey and Derek are being hoodwinked…in the name of love.

Cover by LFD Author Designs:


“Someone’s stealing my underwear! I need to find out who!”

Arching an eyebrow at the indignant female voice, Detective Derek McAllister raised his gaze from his computer screen. Hello. A slim blonde in a slinky red dress stood on the other side of his desk in Rosewood’s police station. Sparks radiated from the woman’s blue eyes as she dangled a scarlet G-string inches from his nose. Her hand jerked. The scrap of silk flipped off her fingertip, bonking his Mariners coffee mug and plopping onto his notebook.

Derek glanced at the front counter. Both Biggs, the balding desk sergeant, and Harding, a lanky patrol officer who shadowed Biggs like a starved-for-attention sidekick, looked back at Derek and chortled. Biggs twirled a finger near one cauliflower ear, mouthing, “Craaazy.”

Like Derek needed Biggs to tell him. Thanks a lot, boneheads. Sending me the kook, huh?

Both uniforms were working the night shift. Although Derek had reported a slow afternoon, there was still plenty to do before the bars closed and mid-July crap hit the fan. For instance, Harding. Instead of chuckling over the Funnies, the dope could be checking parks and alleys. And Biggs…rather than playing Sudoku and flirting with the female clerk, the guy could at least check email.

“Well?” The blonde at Derek’s desk stared him down. “Are you going to shuffle me off like they did—” she flicked a hand toward Biggs and Harding “—or take me seriously?” Her golden hair shimmered beneath the bright lights in feathery layers.

Hell, why not? Elbows on his desk, Derek hunched forward in his swivel chair. Taking initial theft reports wasn’t his responsibility. His job was to investigate. However, he sensed frazzled nerves beneath the woman’s righteous ire. And, considering the nature of her complaint…

He wanted to get a good sense of the problem and who she was so he wouldn’t need to do a second interview later. If kook-job poured off her in bucketfuls, he’d rather pacify her and escort her safely home than subject her to potential ridicule by directing her back to the guys up front. Sending her away to roam the Seattle suburb in her current state of agitation was out of the question.

Derek calmly eyed the G-string. He slipped a pen beneath a lacy strap and lifted the lingerie as carefully as if he were handling a piece of forensic evidence.

“Is this the underwear in question, ma’am?” he asked.

Her chin tipped up. “I’m a Miss. Miss DeMarco.” Her blue gaze darted away a moment. “No, that’s not the underwear I’m talking about. That underwear isn’t missing. Is it, Detective?”

That depends on whether you’re wearing any. Derek stifled the urge to lean across the desk and check the presence or absence of panty lines beneath her luscious red dress. “All right, then. What underwear of yours is missing?” A question he certainly hadn’t anticipated asking upon his return to the station. On a seedy street corner, maybe.

“My lingerie designs. The prototype samples.” The blonde snatched back the G-string. “This thong is a prototype, too, but thankfully the thief didn’t nab it.”

“Are you sure it was a thief?” Derek still had panty lines on the brain.

“Yes, Detective McAllister,” Miss DeMarco said with strained patience. “You are Detective Derek McAllister, right? That’s the name she—I mean, the men at the counter gave me.”

Derek arrowed a glance to the desk. Biggs, looking back again, rolled his eyes. Harding scratched his stomach and snickered.

“They would be right.” Derek tapped the cheap brass nameplate beside his computer. Miss DeMarco’s nervous gaze tracked the movement.

Her shoulders squared. “Well, Detective McAllister, usually when there’s a burglary, there’s a thief involved. Wouldn’t you say?”

“Yep. Usually, I would.” Unless she’d imagined the whole thing. Anxiety hopped off her slender curves like ants attacking a sugar bowl. Maybe she was paranoid. What a shame.

She hoisted a gigantic shopping bag off the floor. Derek’s lips tugged into a smile as she plunked the bag onto his desk, dug inside, and pulled out a skimpy lingerie top. She tossed the G-string—pardon him, thong—and pink lingerie onto the desk, then rummaged through the bag again.

“Damn it, I wanted to make sure he—I’m pretty sure the thief is a he—didn’t steal more samples, so I grabbed as many as possible before catching the bus over.” Out flew blue underwear and a yellow slip thing. “Trouble is, these prototypes take up so much room I’m having trouble finding my wallet.” The shopping bag coughed up a purple bra and some flimsy, pale green panties.

Derek put down his pen. “Don’t worry about the wallet.” Did she think she had to pay him?

“I see it!” She continued emptying the bag until an explosion of frothy colors littered his desk, reminding him of his twin sister Janie’s rooftop garden after her ex-boyfriend broke her heart and she’d weed-whacked every blossom formerly planted in honor of their love.

It occurred to him Janie would like Miss DeMarco. He could visualize the two of them whacking blossoms together.

“Ah ha!” The blonde produced a slim wallet. A cell phone clattered out of the bag, bouncing across the lingerie and clunking his jar of pens. Amid the chaos, she opened the wallet, withdrew a business card, and handed it to him.

A flowery script on creamy stock announced: Lacey’s Little Underthings. Lacey DeMarco, President and Head Designer.

“Lacey?” Derek muttered. “Give me a break.” Yeah, she’s a wing-nut.

A blush stained her face. “That’s right, Lacey DeMarco. My mother, Cather—uh, Christina DeMarco, is the famous lingerie designer out of Milan. My sister is Silken and my brother is Teddy. My mother believes in theme names.”

“Does she now?” Placing aside the card, Derek pressed down another smile. He’d never heard of Christina DeMarco. Or Cather-uh DeMarco. “Look, I need to understand the situation. If someone’s stealing your underwear, what’s all this?” He sifted his fingers through the pile.

She gazed at the heap. “This is…what’s left. What I’ve rescued.”

“Mm-hm. From the culprit, you mean?”

“Yes.” Her voice rose. “This hasn’t been stolen. Yet.” She stuffed the cell phone and lingerie back into the bag.

Derek picked up the green panties and studied the inside label. Well, lookee here. The hand-stitched label read Lacey’s Little Underthings, like her business card. Maybe his sexy wing-nut was on the up-and-up.

“Okay.” He tossed her the panties, which she caught with surprising deftness. “Please sit.” He indicated the chair in front of his desk. On his computer, he saved the grid he’d drafted showing a week of vehicle thefts. “Tell me what happened,” he said as he logged out of the computer and reached for his notepad.

She remained standing. “I’d rather tell you on the way over.” She shoved the wadded panties into the bag.

“The way over where?”

“My place.”

Your place?”

“My design studio—it’s in my apartment. That’s where the theft occurred. Don’t you want to inspect the scene of the crime?”

“I’d rather take notes first.”

Her eyebrows high-jumped. “I don’t have time! I never know when he might strike again. He’s already plundered me twice!”

Derek chuckled. “The panty thief?”

“The corporate panty raider,” Lacey returned in an uppity tone he swore she employed to disguise her obvious jitters. Because, if her dress was anything to go by, she didn’t look the uppity type. “Lacey’s Little Underthings is a legitimate company, Detective McAllister. I’ve produced my business card. I demand your respect.”

Derek tapped the pad against his palm. Finishing the vehicle theft grid could wait. While he didn’t buy into Lacey’s business-card definition of respect, she deserved his attention and protection as much as any other Rosewood citizen. Even if he wasn’t technically on-duty.

“Just a minute,” he told her. He got up and strode to the counter. “Harding. I need a ride-along. You available?”

“Sorry.” The guy plunked on his hat. “Just got a call.”

Biggs backed away, hands raised. “I need to write a report.”

Derek nodded. Typical.

He glanced back at Lacey. She stood at his desk, clenching the shopping bag and nibbling her lip.

He drew in a breath. Okay, then. He’d poke around her design studio, call in the crime scene techs if necessary. Volunteer an hour of his time toward her peace of mind, tops.

He motioned her over. “Not to worry, Miss DeMarco. I’d be happy to take a look.”

Want it? Buy Links!





Off to NINC!

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I’m heading off to the NINC conference in a few hours. If you’re going, I’ll see you there. If you’re not, I won’t!

I’m participating in two round tables—Indie Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing and another on Subsidiary Rights. I’ve never given any type of workshop before, so this will be a new experience for me. The round tables are comprised of industry professionals and NINC members (authors) like me. All the questions have been submitted beforehand, and the members of the round tables will discuss the questions/topics while the audience…sits quietly and takes notes.

The round table format is a new undertaking for NINC. There will also be traditional workshops at the conference. If I get a chance, I’ll report in. But I don’t know if

Back from RWA in Anaheim

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I recently returned from the RWA National Conference in Anaheim, California, and I had a great time. This was a very positive conference experience for me. I had the chance to participate in two author signings, the first as Cindy Procter-King for the Literacy Autographing that was held on July 25th and then a few days later, I participated in the Samhain publisher book give-away and signing as an author (under my alter ego). I also attended some great, informative workshops and networked with some people I haven’t seen in years. Now I’m home and ready to get back to work on the re-issues of Head Over Heels and Borrowing Alex. The proofing files for Head Over Heels are in my in-box. As soon as I fulfill the agent and editor requests (for a different book) obtained during the conference, I will get right to the proofing so then I can deliver the file to my formatter. Yes, Head Over Heels WILL be on sale again in August!

In the meantime, here are some photos from the conference. Enjoy!

Laguna Beach, where I stayed with my conference roommate the night before I moved to the hotel. Beautiful!


My future daughter-in-law (FDIL) is a huge Nora Roberts fan, so before the Literacy Autographing (in which I was participating) got under way, I bought a signed copy of THE WITNESS signed to my FDIL from Nora and then Nora’s assistant suggested we take this picture. Thanks, Nora, for being a great sport.

Moi signing copies of WHERE SHE BELONGS, currently available in library-edition hardcover and also audio book.

With roommate, good friend, and author Jamie Sobrato, at the Literacy Autographing.


Find Me at Table 802!

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

As I’m heading off to Anaheim for the RWA National Conference, I realized I might not get a chance to blog during the conference. But a quick heads-up that I’m signing copies of WHERE SHE BELONGS at the Annual Literacy Autographing. The tables aren’t in alphabetical order this year, so just remember (if you’re in the area and want to stop by to say hello) that I can be found at Table 802 along with Jane Porter (the other P in the bunch) as well as a few other authors with last names that don’t start with P. So if you see a long line forming in front of Jane’s station and no one standing in front of mine, pop over and say hello. I don’t bite!

Here’s the WWWW direct from RWA:

2012 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing

Wednesday, July 25, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Anaheim Convention Center, Ballroom (third floor)

Proceeds from book sales go to ProLiteracy Worldwide, Read Orange County, and Literacy Volunteers—Huntington Valley.

No outside books are allowed in the event.

Proofing and Literacy Autographing

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

The proofs for the audio book version of WHERE SHE BELONGS arrived in my in-box yesterday from AudioLark. I proofed four chapters right away, so am about 25% through. I’m really enjoying the audio book! The narrator, R.E. Chambliss, also narrated BORROWING ALEX. She did such a great job capturing the romantic comedy tone of BORROWING ALEX that I wondered how her narration of an emotional romance novel would compare. My verdict? R.E. is every bit as good at narrating serious, emotional stories as she is at narrating romcom. Jess, Adam, Nora (Jess’s mother), and the secondary characters are all coming alive for me. I think that’s what I love most about my novels being made into audio books–how they feel to “come alive.” It’s a different experience listening to a book you’ve published, and I am so pleased with the audio rendition thus far. I hope my readers (listeners?) will be, too.

As for the Five Star Expressions library-hardcover edition of WHERE SHE BELONGS, I’ve registered for the RWA National Conference in Anaheim this July. I signed up for the Librarians’ Luncheon on Wednesday, July 25th, and I just found out today that Five Star is donating a box of my books to the Literacy Autographing that will occur in the convention center next to the Conference hotel. So I’ll be signing copies of the book for the public.

I am excited about this. I have only signed as Cindy once before, and that was a long time ago, when HEAD OVER HEELS was first published. I donated ten of my own copies to the Autographing, however, because there wasn’t a box of books by my station, my name placard and place were removed. Then I arrived with my books in my arms, and the volunteers setting up the stations realized they’d made a mistake. There was no room for me in the Ps, so I sat at the end of a table in the Ms. I managed to sell all ten copies of HEAD OVER HEELS that I had brought along, but it was a little weird to be sitting among the Ms.

I have signed as Penny once, and the publisher in question always donates books to the Literacy Autographing. Apparently, they had donated a box of Penny’s books plus had stuffed two more copies into a box of another author’s books. Good thing they did, because the full box of books was nowhere to be found and all I had to sign were those two measly copies. I quickly “sold out,” heh heh, but stuck around to speak to readers regardless.

So…my third Literacy Autographing is approaching, and this time cross your fingers it goes off without a hitch!

Lovely RITA

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

I finally received my RITA packet of books to judge today. For those not in the know, the RITA is RWA’s annual contest for published books, and it’s judged by your peers. That’s what I am, I guess. A peer. Because I’m judging.

I’m looking forward to digging in to the books. In fact, I think I’ll start reading the first one as soon as I post this minuscule update.

This Friday will mark 6 weeks since I had my eye surgery. Will do an Eye Report then.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to share what they’ve been up to, I’m all ears. Just not eyes. The eyes, they still need TLC.

Oh! I registered for the RWA conference in Anaheim this July. It’s in my time zone, so I couldn’t pass it up. If you’re a member, are you going?

RWA National Notes: Mass Market and E-Book Pricing

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

New York, New York!

The highlights of my week in New York didn’t begin and end with seeing four musicals on Broadway. That was a major, to be sure, but not the reason I flew across the continent for the second time in a month (the first being the trip to Newfoundland with my husband in early June). I hadn’t been to an RWA National Conference in three years, so I was really looking forward to this one, and it did not disappoint.

On Tuesday, June 27th, I atttended The Golden Network Retreat, which was an all-day affair this year. Any RWA member who has finaled in the Golden Heart (unpublished manuscripts) contest, in the current year or any previous year, and who is a member of The Golden Network Chapter (ie. you must pay your dues) can attend the Retreat. I’ve attended three times, and each time has been more beneficial than the last. Honestly, I can’t remember what happened at the Retreat in 2007… Wait, just typing that brought back the memories. It was a Q&A session with agents and editors, but that was back before publishing took a nosedive. In 2008, it was another Q&A, and we were given the opportunity to do some speed-pitching. This year, it was another Q&A, featuring a morning and also an afternoon session. The same questions each session, but different agents and editors answering them.

The twist this year was that TGN members were to send in our questions a couple of months ago. Around April, if I remember correctly. They kept saying they needed questions, so I sent a few along (I won’t say which ones…ahem). At the time, the digital imprint from one of the “Big Six,” Avon Impulse, had just opened up and announced they would pay 25% on net royalties for the first 10,000 copies and 50% thereafter. So one of the questions sent in and asked of the panel was whether they thought 25% of net was “fair” to the writer. Well. The morning panel nearly didn’t want to answer the question. The afternoon panel did answer it, and the conversation became quite heated. The upshot was that agents didn’t think the 25% on net was fair, but editors (speaking for their houses, anyway) did. I also heard an editor say that ebooks should be priced the same as mass market paperbacks, which really surprised me. People who read ebooks are getting quite accustomed to paying below-mmpb prices, both because of on-line retailers like Amazon heavily discounting ebooks in effort to sell e-readers and because self-publishing (now usually termed “indie” publishing, because it’s easier to type, not being so many letters, plus it sounds cooler) has grown by leaps and bounds over the last year, and indie authors have learned that pricing books at $2.99 is the “sweet point” and that super-low pricing like .99 cents for a full-length novel might boost their sales (there’s also the argument that the super low pricing diminishes the value of the reading experience, but that’s a debate for another post). Authors who self-publish via Kindle at the $2.99 price point or higher earn 70% royalties, whereas authors who self-publish below $2.99 earn 35% royalties. So you can see why the question of 25% on net royalties being “fair” was asked by…someone.

At any rate, readers of ebooks have become accustomed to NOT paying the same as they would pay for a mass market paperback. I know I’m certainly not accustomed to paying the same for an ebook as I would a paperback, whether it’s mass market or trade pb. However, now publisher “agency pricing” has entered the picture, which means the publisher sets the price for their ebooks sold on places like Amazon. Amazon doesn’t set the pricing. And if the publisher decides their ebooks should be priced the same as their mass markets, then they will be. They are in control, not Amazon.

I understand the arguments about the publishers being in control of their own pricing, I just don’t understand the logic behind pricing ebooks the same as mass markets. Okay, if a publisher were to issue an ebook at the same time as the hardcover (hardcovers are usually released several months to a year before the mass market paperback), then I guess they could charge the same for the ebook as they would the mmpb. Because, well, if the mmpb isn’t available at the same time as the ebook, if only the ebook and a hardcover are available, then go for it. Price the ebook like you would the mmpb, then sit back and see what happens. But once the mmpb becomes available, or if a hardcover isn’t published at all (the vast majority of romance novels, which are either mmpb, trade pb or digital-first), then pricing the mmpb the same as the ebook…it just doesn’t make sense to me.

Isn’t the idea to sell more books, not less? Will the faithful reader pay the same for an ebook as a mmpb, even though she doesn’t have a paper copy to put on her bookshelf, lend to a friend, or sell to a used bookstore? I wouldn’t. I’d buy the mass market paperback because it’s more “tangible.” And I can take it into the bathtub.

Now, I love ebooks, and I love my Kindle. It’s very easy to order books, and for some reason I read them faster on my Kindle. But I don’t want to pay the same price as I would for a mass market or a trade paperback (and so far, I haven’t), because I don’t like jamming up my Kindle with books I’ve already read. I delete them (yes, even from the archive). It takes a lot for me to keep an ebook. But then it takes a lot for me to keep a paperback. I feel better about buying ebooks, because I’m not contributing to the landfill when I want to get rid of them, and I don’t have to stress about HOW I’m going to get rid of them without contributing to the landfill, either (I always feel a bit guilty recycling books, but I confess that I very often do). To my way of thinking, agency pricing is a way for publishers to protect their sales…but at what cost? How many readers will turn to self-published authors for the inexpensive reads they used to fulfill through waiting for the mass market to come out? How many readers will boycott authors published by traditional publishers because of agency pricing? Even though the trad-pubbed author has no control over the pricing? How many authors will be told by their houses that they aren’t selling, while ebook sales are going through the roof, but, weird, it’s the ebooks that are priced below mass market pbs that are selling like hotcakes. If the Big Six lowered their prices on ebooks, maybe those authors who “aren’t selling,” who are forced to take new names or who are simply just dropped from the house, might start selling—to the audience that has become accustomed to not paying the same for digital as they do for print.


On Broadway!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

I’m back from the RWA National Conference in New York and have settled into my kinda/sorta regular routine. So I thought I’d share some of my conference highlights. Those began with attending four Broadway musicals. I hadn’t seen a Broadway performance since before RWA National 2003, which was also in New York. Then, My Liege went with me to New York for five days preceding the conference, and we tootled all over the place, taking in three musicals and one drama (we caught Bernadette Peters in Gypsy, Antonio Banderas in Nine, the guy who played Mr. Cunningham on Happy Days in Cabaret, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Dennehy in, I believe, a Tennessee Williams play that pretty much put us to sleep except for Mr. Hoffman’s amazing performance. He stole the show.)

This time I went sans the DH and roomed with Susan Lyons (who also writes as Susan Fox). We both arrived late Saturday night, June 25th. It was a 3-hour time change for both of us, and I wanted to catch some Broadway and catch up on my sleep before my first official conference event, The Golden Network Retreat, which occurred on Tuesday, June 27th.

The entire conference began a day early this year, to accommodate the July 4th holiday weekend in the States. Canada Day (July 1st) also occurred during conference. Alas, I confess, I completely forgot about it until I strolled into the Samhain Publishing book signing later in the week  (Samhain is publishing Penny’s first single title in November) and spied Canadian author Vivian Arend giving away mini-Aero bars. I quickly nabbed up two, which was fairly greedy of me, considering I can buy Aero bars whenever I want (as long as I’m in Canada) and Americans can’t. Well, tough. It was Canada Day, and I wanted my Canadian chocolate! (If you’re not jealous, you should be—those chocolate bubbles are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!)

I’m getting ahead of myself.

On Sunday Susan and I slept in, then over-indulged in Broadway. First, here’s a photo from our hotel window (it was overcast that day).

We’d purchased tickets to The Addams Family matinee and the evening performance of Chicago. So we had a great lunch, then saw The Addams Family. I thoroughly enjoyed it. So far, The Addams Family was the #1 musical of the four I wound up seeing during my week in New York. Not hard to accomplish when it’s the first I saw. 🙂

But it was truly excellent. The set reminded me of being stuck in The Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland for two hours. Bebe Neuwirth played Morticia (if you don’t know who she is, remember Frasier Crane’s wife from Cheers? That’s her) and Roger Rees played Gomez (he played one of Kirstie Alley’s boyfriends on Cheers—small world!).

When the performance ended, we learned that it was Ms. Neuwirth’s last performance in the role, which had been written for her. A few men in suits came out and sung her praises. Roger Rees sung her praises, and then she sung everyone else’s praises. Except she more like spoke them. The actual singing occurred during the play.

I’ve never attended an actor’s final Broadway performance in a particular show before, so that was fun.

Following the performance, Susan and I scarfed down a quick dinner, then went to Chicago, where we sat in the first row of the mezzanine (The Addams Family, we were in the left orchestra, aisle seats).

I loved Chicago and was more familiar with it than The Addams Family, because I didn’t watch TAF TV show growing up and the music was all new to me. Whereas I’ve seen the movie version of Chicago a couple of times.

As of the Chicago viewing, my score was (1) The Addams Family (2) Chicago (the set was much simpler and the orchestra was on stage, which necessitated the actors singing and dancing in front of the orchestra, which necessitated a bit of leaning forward in our first row mezzanine seats).

On Monday I pretty much ran around trying to figure out why my cell phone didn’t work in the States (turns out it was because I use pre-paid minutes instead of a monthly plan). After three phone calls, I learned I could buy a post-paid cell phone with a different number, but it would have cost $90 for only a few days. Worse, every time someone called me the call would have been routed through Estonia. Estonia? I wasn’t putting any of my writer friends through that. Ridunkulous.

Monday night I decided to go see Mamma Mia. Susan remained behind because she’s seen it before. Now, first, you must understand that I lack all sense of direction. To me, “north” is wherever my feet are pointing. So Susan had to shepherd me through wherever we visited in New York until I made my way out of the hotel on my own for the first time to see Mamma Mia. I had the address and a badly drawn map from a guy at the ground floor desk. I just walked “with purpose,” pretending I knew where I was going. Eventually, I realized I was heading the right direction, and soon I was at Winter Gardens.

I had a mid-row seat in the right orchestra, with two French-speaking families on either side of me. Now, I totally love the movie version of Mamma Mia. It really tugs at my heart strings, and the Broadway version did, too. The song where Donna is singing about her little girl going off to school always makes me cry. It made me cry during the movie because, at the time, my then 20-year-old son was moving away to university for the first time. Last Monday night, sitting in the theater, I had to blink back tears again because in a few weeks that same son is moving to the Middle East to teach school for a year. Later, someone without kids mentioned, “But you don’t have daughters. Why would that song make you cry?” It’s not the sex of the child, it’s the fact they’re leaving. And when mine is leaving for the Middle East and I know I won’t see him for 11 months unless I travel over there (an option that is not off the menu at this point!), how could that song about “slipping through my fingers” not make me want to cry?

Also, the actress did a damn fine job. Mamma Mia didn’t have any big names that I recognized, but it quickly became my favorite of the three musicals I’d caught so far, because of the emotion the movie (and the play) always elicits in me. First, Donna had to sing the song about the little girl slipping through her fingers and then she and one of the male leads had to sing a song about their lost love. Between the two, I was a blithering sob-fest. How’s that for a musical that’s supposed to leave ’em dancing in the aisles?

Still, it was now (1) Mamma Mia (2) The Addams Family and (3) Chicago.

Conference began, and soon there was no time for Broadway. Except…except…Susan had heard that How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Harry Potter Guy (aka Daniel Radcliffe) and John Laroquette (remember Night Court?), was really, really good. It was Thursday night, and I was supposed to meet friends in the bar (sorry). But—but—Broadway was beckoning! And I’m a lousy drinker. One drink, and I’m floating away on clouds of glory. So I try not to indulge too often.

I regret not seeing the buddy I planned to meet (but I did see her during a Spotlight the next day). However, How to Succeed was spectacular. I can’t recall the decade in which it’s supposed to be set, but the flavor of the stage was like something from Mad Men. The set was changed a lot, and Harry Potter Guy worked so hard in his role. So did John Laroquette, who, I might note, has about the longest arms I’ve seen in person (he appeared in Boston Legal, too. Loved that show). Between the two of them singing and dancing, the talented male and female dancers, the female lead, the story line (which revolved around a self-help book that spirited our hero to the top of the corporate ladder), and the intricate sets and mood of the story, I was totally hooked. Hands down, it was my favorite musical of the four. The list then ran at (1) How to Succeed (2) Mamma Mia (3) The Addams Family and (4) Chicago. But all four were magnificent in their own ways. I would completely recommend any of them.