I tried to keep up with this blog while traveling, but as I write this I’ve been back a week ago tonight. It’s hard to believe, as the days have passed by quickly.
Tuesday morning I got up exceptionally early to be down at the checkout counter and store all my luggage. Fortunately, since my sister works for a hotel chain, I got an unbelieveable price [ just so you know I wasn’t squandering any money 🙂 ] My sweet husband had flowers sent to me at the hotel since it was "my first book signing." Very thoughtful, only I didn’t get them until Monday night and I had to check out Tuesday morning. I had them store the flowers too.
I made it over to the ICRS floor without problems. No stuck elevators, etc. I walked the floor checking out out as much as I could before I had to leave. My book signing at the Christian Small Publishers Association booth went well. I kept running out of books and would whisper, "Can you hand me more?" I was up on a director’s chair so couldn’t easily grab them myself. Again, the reception from people was wonderful and encouraging and I felt like I connected with a lot of bookstore owners. Best of all, I got rid of all of my books except for a couple I stuck in my purse. I didn’t want to be shipping them back!
My friend Allison Bottke, from God Allows U-Turns, dropped by my table and we had a little "girlfriend squeal" of "we’re really here." About eight years ago or so, Allison and I connected via the Internet before either of us had written much, but we had dreams and passions and a whole lot of energy that we knew God was to use somehow. She’s quite an amazing woman with another new branch of her ministry called Boomer Babes Rock. And if you have a prodigal child I highly recommend her new book coming out called, "Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope & Healing for Parents" (Trust me: she speaks from experience on this topic!)
Afterward the signing, I was to work in the CSPA booth until 2 when I had to leave to catch the plane. I told Sarah I was running to the restroom (which I did) but technically I grabbed a mini-Pizza Hut pizza and soda too. Oh, the diet will have to start again when I get back. I hadn’t had Pizza Hut in over four years and yet I had to eat it as fast as I could. Not fair, right?
I made it back to the booth and handed out catalogs to people walking by. I had a chance to talk with some of the other authors of CSPA. Very nice people! Before I knew it, it was 2 pm. I ran over to the shipping room and packed up everything I had but my purse, which included my cart. I was relieved it all fit into one box. As I walked out I saw the boxes with people’s names on them (you could "start" a box and then fill it so as not to have to carry so much stuff.") I saw boxes of well-known authors like Cheri Fuller and thought, "too bad I can’t just drop some brochures in these!" (But no, I didn’t. A fine line betwen being creative and being tacky.)
I grabbed a cab over to the hotel. They pulled out all my bags from the storage area. The shuttle to the airport arrived and the hotel staff almost didn’t grab it for me. I yelled and they went running down the street to bring it back for me. I had a nice talk with an editor from Baker Books on the way who was also a passenger.
The driver put all my suitcases (3 LARGE suitcases + computer bag + large bag with my purse stuffed inside that. . . and my bunch of flowers with the stems wrapped up on a gift shop bag.) Just as he pushed my cart (175 lbs of it) off the curb it started to downpour.
I checked in at the outdoor desk. The gentleman picked up the first bag and put it up on the belt. "I have 3 suitcases," I said, "So I will have to pay for 1 extra."
"Ma’am," the man said, "You will have to take your extra bag inside to pay for it there, but you need to know that there is a limit on the weight of these bags."
"Uh… I know," I smiled sweetly. "But the hotel didn’t have a scale. I asked…" The water was dripping off my hair and running down my face. I looked pretty pitiful evidently so he said, "I won’t charge you extra for the weight on this one." Fortunately #2 suitcase was under 50 lbs. (My Cuddle Ewe Travel Underquilt) . I took in the third suitcase inside to another line and the gal there took mercy on me. Since I had to pay extra for the bag already, she wasn’t going to charge me extra for the weight too. Thank you, Lord!
The airport was packed. I made it through security and despite the lack of any directions as to what stop to get off of from the train, I was took a chance and chose the right one. Flights all over were cancelled, but most of them were heading East. Thankfully, with my flight going to Phoenix, and then onto San Diego, it was still on time. I browsed an airport bookstore and actually spotted a business book called Tiger Traits: 9 Success Secrets You Can Discover From Tiger Woods to Be a Business Champion . It sounded familiar and I opened it up. I’d taken a book marketing 3-day workshop last year with John Kremer (brilliant man!) and sat by the author Nate Booth, while this Tiger book was in the works. Not only did he get it published but it was in an airport bookstore — the "goldmine" if you are an author. I made a mental note to email him later and offer congratulations. I told the guy beside me who picked up the book after me, "I know him! Blah blah blah." He laughed along with me and said, "I’m so glad I got to share this moment with you."
Okay, my mind was going. You get used to talking to total strangers for 5 days and suddenly you can’t stop walking up to strangers and talking…
[My mini soapbox for those who wonder about my motives about attending "book marketing seminars": there are far too few Christians at these kind of workshops. People who write a lot of new age junk, teen novels on wicca, etc. are all figuring out how to market their books. As Christians, I think we need to be wise and educated and able to prioritize how to use our funds to help get the message out there we feel God has given us to share with others. — Okay, enough on that.]
I was nearly falling asleep at the airport so I bought a large iced-coffee and a (gasp!) muffin. Definately going on carb-overload, but it did perk me up a bit. I waited for a couple hours since the plane was late. Despite all the wonderful books I’d picked up, they were buried, so I ended up reading The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time. As interesting as it was, I was glad to get on the plane at last by 7:30.
I had to switch planes in Phoenix, and I got off exhausted, as I’d sat 3.5 hours in a airplaine chair that felt broken. You know.. one of those seats that feel like a bowling ball had sat in the chair and it has a "hole" in it–(which happens to be smaller than your tush). Plus, the back of the seat felt the same way. I was aching and tired, and as I ran off to try to catch a plane I was late for all my bags fell and lipstick and bookmarkets, etc. all fell out. I was at Gate 6 and I had to make it to Gate 26 in about 6 minutes. I wasn’t going to make it.
A airplane employee (okay an angel, dressed in flight attendant attire) just "happened" to be standing there with a wheelchair and said, "Do you want a ride? Here, sit down." I said," THANK YOU! You have no idea…" I stumbled over my words. "I have rheumatoid arthritis and can barely roll my bag my arms are so sore." He RAN what felt like 2 miles to that gate and the sweat pored from him. He said he came from a Christian family (when you talk about being at a Christian retail show people really open up.)
He pulled up at the gate and I gushed my thanksgiving again, knowing I never would have physically made it, and I especially would not have been there in time. I plopped down bedside two women. One said, "Nice flowers" and smiled. The other one, in her perfect business suit with matching shoes and high heels– gave me one of those odd "why are you in a wheelchair?" looks.
For some reaon I felt obligated to the polite woman to explain, "That was such a blessing. I have rheumatoid arthritis and never would have made this plane." Silly– I didn’t owe anyone an explanation, but my self-respect still wanted the other woman to know I had a good reason and she should mind her own business and go back to reading her magazine instead of summing up my motives.
Most of the flight back I read a fun chick list Christian novel, The Book of Jane. I was given it by the author at her signing. I’ve finished it now, and if you’re into Chick Lit with a light-hearted Christian spin, I can vouch that’s it’s a pretty cute read, a sort of "modern day ‘chick’ version of Job who loses everything.
I arrived safely at the San Diego airport by 11:20 and asked a decent looking guy to grab my bags and put them onto a cart. I knew where to find the shuttle, only the front wheel on my $3 cart was broken. I could barely move it. It took four different men to push it 100 feet; they’d get it about 20 feet and then leave it and say, "I think you can get it now." I’d just stand there and push and try to not lose my composure, but it would only go an inch and then the front wheel would freeze up again. People looked at me like I was a wimp. I was a little bit but really! The wheel was broken.
I finally got on the shuttle to drive the 30 minutes to home with 3 other families. Once again, God was working up until the last moment. The people on the shuttle commented on my beautiful (but wilting) flowers and asked why I had them (why indeed would anyone carry flowers all the way across the country?) As I explained where I’d been and why, most of the people on the shuttle were Christians and the woman beside me took my card, and I gave away the last book I’d had. She said she’d pass it onto a professional Christian women’s group who were looking for speakers and how needed the ministry was because she herself had a chronic illness.
The lights were on but my husband had fallen asleep. I woke him up (I missed him but let’s get real, I needed some help with my luggage that was all out in the driveway [smile].) I went in and picked my son, Josh, up out of bed and rocked him. I really needed a snuggle and I said, "Mommy is home, baby. Mommy is home." He looked up in a sleepy daze and smiled and then cuddled up against me.
It was just 1 a.m. but felt like 4 a.m. since I’d finally adapted to the other time zone. So I woke up feeling… un-normal. What’s normal in that kind of week? I was wiped out, but Joel now had work deadlines he had to meet and I was back as "mommy" full-time. In fact, Joel worked that "evening" until about 3 a.m. Our house is a bit chaotic at this time.
Josh was up by 6:30 and I was up by 8. My Christian Adoption Mom Playgroup was meeting at 10 a.m. and I decided for us to get some clothes on and go. It ended up being good, because he was able to run and play with other kids and I had a chance to just visit with a few other moms and sip my Vente iced coffee.
It was good to be home.
Even though I feel like I’ve shared so much with you, there were still so many ways God worked through this week. And now that another week has passed, and people are already following up with me, I can see that God is definately going to use it in ways I’ve not even thought of. I hope He can prepare/sustain my body to follow through, but surely He understands the big picture, even when I don’t.
So, my normal 7 mg of prednisone went up to 60 to travel and then tappered down all week. I am somewhere around 12 right now. I put them all in my pill box and it’s actually good when I don’t really know the exact amount I am on.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the adventures. I will try to blog more "personally" more often. It’s fun to do and yet it always seems to be a lower priority than other stuff. I’ve so appreciated all the emails you’ve sent and encouragement.
Loving thoughts for you,