I’m back home from Chicago, and life is slowly returning to normal. I know that in not too many more days, the week we spent in the Windy City will fade from our memories, and it will feel as if a great canyon of time separates us from the awesome events of RT 2012.
Insofar as I can, I strive to always live my life with an attitude of gratitude. I do spend time each night giving thanks for the blessings in my life. Thinking back now on the experience of this year’s convention, gratitude is the emotion I feel the most.
I had such a wonderful time at RT in Chicago this year. I had to miss last year’s event in L. A., due to a few health challenges. How amazing, then, to return after that absence and feel as if I’d never been away. There are countless volunteers, wonderful people who each year make this event happen. You see the same sweet souls, in city after city, people who are devoted to books and authors and readers, and prove it by stepping up to the plate, time and time again.
I try to always let these wonderful people know that I appreciate them and the work they do. Their motivation may be love of all this bookish, but never doubt their contribution involves a lot of hard work. I believe they truly work harder for free than most of the folks I know anywhere do for a paycheck. These volunteers who are on their feet 10 and 12 hours a day are mostly of my own generation—in other words, they’re not young’uns.
I’m grateful for the readers who, each time I attend this convention, tell me how excited they are to meet me and how much they love my books. I’m always so surprised when that happens, and so humbled at such times, too. To know you have readers is one thing; to be asked for your autograph, or to have your picture taken, is quite another.
I’m grateful because I made several new friends at the convention. Two in particular I spent a great deal of time with, both of them fellow Siren authors. Heather Rainier is the talented creator of the Divine, Texas, series; and Peyton Elizabeth is a brand new author with four books about to be released, beginning in May, with her debut novel Not So Common.
I’m grateful and honored that I got to spend an entire morning with my friend, New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong. Her YA novels are hugely popular, and I am thrilled that she’s so successful.
I was also able to touch base with the some of my other writing buddies—Emma Wildes, Lara Santiago, and Raina James. We don’t get together as often as we would like, because time and circumstance often can be very cruel. But every moment I’m in their presence is truly special, and another thing in my life that I am thankful for.
Most of all, this year, however, I’m grateful for Mr. Ashbury.
This is the first time in several years that he has accompanied me to RT. The last time he made the journey was in 2007 when the convention was held in Houston. That was just after the release of my very first novel, and was also the occasion of my very first book signing.
He wanted to come to Chicago, and had intended to visit a few museums Monday and Tuesday, but couldn’t, as I reported to you last week. When the convention opened on Wednesday, however, he made it his mission to be there for me, going with me first to register, and then on to club RT where I was very pleased to help host my publisher’s table once again this year.
My beloved dubbed himself my “stand here and stand by” man, and he truly was that, and much more. I rented a scooter for the duration, and so he carried my paraphernalia—no mean feat, let me tell you—and he helped me get from A to B every time I wanted to. And then he stayed with me, ready to pitch in if I needed him. I certainly could not have done what I needed to do at the convention without him.
Mr. Ashbury very much enjoyed meeting and chatting with Mr. Rainier, too. And I would be remiss if I did not here acknowledge that good man, the husband of my fellow author and new friend.
Rarely have I been blessed to witness a couple so devoted to each other. Mr. Rainier braved what must have appeared to be a daunting pool of estrogen, and in so doing showed his love and support for his wife. Sir, my metaphorical hat is off to you. I am a fan.
We each of us live our lives, and do our own thing. Sometimes, we lose sight of the bigger picture, by putting ourselves first, doing whatever it takes to be ‘one up’ on those we imagine ourselves to be in competition with, uncaring if others are hurt in the process.
But we truly shine as human beings when we seek to serve; when who we are and what we do touches, and gives increase, to others.
This past week, I have been so touched. And so, refreshed and renewed, and ever grateful, I’m ready to face whatever comes next.