Welcome back! It’s Friday. We made it. Huzzah! And I’m here to again remind you of the low, low quality of content creators you follow on the internet. This week’s story employs my real dumb mouth and my unfiltered ability to misuse it...in front of the Queen. OUR QUEEN. Kristen Ashley.
Seriously, you can quit reading now. It might be for the best.
But if you’re still here, grab your favorite hoodie, throw a log on the fire, and have a seat with me and my trusty and ever-faithful sidekick, Danny, for this week’s Fireside Friday. Try not to judge me harshly, I’m always weird, but when I’m anxious it’s 100 times worse. I’m surprised Danny even goes out in public with me.
Let me take you back… the year was 2015—I think. It wasn’t my first book signing, but it was one of the first. Danny and I stepped off the plane in Fort Lauderdale ready to have a great few days in the sun at Wicked Book Weekend, which was hosted by the super kick-ass Ana’s Attic Book Blog.
Just for context, let me remind you that before I was a writer, before I was a blogger, way back when everything was simple and I blew through whatever book I wanted every day, I was a hardcore reader. Verocious even. With that, came following reviewers on Goodreads who had the same tastes in books that I did to find my next favorite. Mind you, back then, I didn’t follow any book people on Facebook or the internet, but I’d spend hours looking through these book blogger’s reviews to see what they thought. Honestly I had no idea what a blog was at that point, but they usually had bigger followings so I trusted them and they rarely did me dirty (well...lol).
There are too many to list and too many I’ll forget to mention, but I followed most of big bloggers back then and became a fan of a lot of them. So, in a way, they were the first tether I had to the romance world. They took my hand and led me to places far beyond my imagination, introduced me to characters and stories that still live in my heart, and they were the unwavering voices shouting from the mountains about all the best indie romance books.
They cost me a lot of money back then, but they didn’t have to twist my arm that hard.
So it was really, really special to me when Bait took off and some of the bloggers I’d always relied on as a reader were excited and noticing my book. Okay, excited might be a stretch with respect to Bait, but Fade In (my first standalone) was received quite warmly. Hehehe. Either way, I was on their radar. That feeling is one I won’t ever forget.
When I was invited to Wicked Book Weekend (again, if memory serves, Tara Sivec recommended me to attend when a spot opened up after another author couldn’t make it last minute), I just could barely handle it. Meeting Ana and the gang was going to be doooope, and on top of that so, so many of my favorite authors were going to be there. So even if it was last minute, I bought two plane tickets, thankfully got a room at the hotel, and we were on our way. Like I mentioned, it wasn’t my first signing, but it was my first huge signing.
We got to the hotel that Friday morning just before lunch, checked in, and then...I met Aly Martinez face-to-face. Ah-moment right there, y’all. We’d been friends for a few years, but getting to squeeze her and love on her in real life was so magical. If my failing memory serves me, Danny and I had already met Chelle Bliss and Brian before, but we re-connected with them again too. Friday afternoon, talking and laughing over drinks with that group was everything. It was hard to believe it was my life.
Now, onto the behind the scenes stuff.
So, most big signing events have a mix and mingle event for staff and authors behind closed doors on the first night. Just to chit chat about business and network and have a place where we can all just hangout and get our own personal fangirl moments out of the way. Maybe that last part was just my experience because Chelle and Aly were cool and really didn’t spaz out the way I did, but I’m wired a little differently.
Notably, I’m grateful for the chance to wigout in private. I have that Chandler Bing quality of if I’m nervous, I’ll be the joker. If I’m excited, I’ll be the joker. If I’m in a group and socially uncomfortable, I’ll slide that joker mask on and will myself to not be a wallflower.
That Friday evening, we were all invited up to this pretty cool suite for drinks and snacks and what-not. Aly, Chelle, and I (and our horde lol) got there a little early because I think we were going out to eat after and we were hungry or something. Now that I think about it...empty belly + the drama and conflama + complimentary drinks was probably the exact recipe for my behavior. NOTE: I was not drunk what-so-ever, but it doesn’t take a lot when so much is going on, yunno? I was high on life!
We walk in, get our credentials and badges for the next day’s signing, receive our welcome tote bags and thank you items—and guys it was everything you’d dream. I know I have a way of romanticizing things, but this was legit, next-level wildest dreams stuff for a romance addict.
There weren’t that many people up there yet, maybe twenty or so, and the suite was large and didn’t feel all that crowded, but then Chelle or Aly told me that KA: Legend, Queen, Icon: Kristen Ashley was in one of the bedrooms that had mostly been cleared of furniture for the party.
Inside, I was like, “I just want to look at her. Be in the same room.” I’m not crazy right? It’s freaking KA and she’s so lovely and happy and cool. Anyway...I digress.
Then there she was. The balcony door open. The summer night air, blowing through her exceptionally thick and majestic blond hair, and she looked like an angel when she turned, hearing me dork my way into the room.
I sputtered, “Holy fucking shit, you look like Tawny Kitaen from that White Snake video.”
Bless her heart, she humored me with a laugh. (I’d love to insert here what she said to me, give you the dialog, but I was gobsmacked and all I can recall is her being gracious, friendly, and kind.) Aly, Chelle, and our group were behind me (laughing at me) and then Ana came in and all the normal people in the room had a conversation. I don’t believe I was part of it because I was overstimulated and overwhelmed by the sheer gravity of being allowed up there at all.
Pleasantries were exchanged, Aly and Chelle were hella cool (like the bitches they are) and before we left, one of them asked for a picture. I stepped to the side next to Danny, but Aly yanked me in line with her, Chelle, KA, and Ana. Then Aly tossed Danny her phone to snap the shots.
“Hold it higher. Turn it sideways. HIGHER, Danny!” Aly instructed as only Mrs. Martinez can.
Shoulder to shoulder, we stood preparing to get a keeper. Meanwhile, Aly’s booming directions made Kristen laugh.
“Aw. Is he your husband?” KA asked Aly. (I mean, he kind of is Aly’s husband too, but she didn’t claim him publicly yet.)
I spoke up. “He’s mine.”
"He's really cute," she replied.
Then this is when I left my body, and without the agency to keep my words anywhere on the same map as acceptable social speak went, I blurted. “He has an adequate penis.” The five words left my mouth, and I returned to myself just as stunned as everyone in the room.
Silence. A jab in the back from Aly.
Sweet Lord, please undo it. Ctrl+Alt+Delete on my life.
My husband lowered the phone and gawked at me, but he knew me and wasn’t all that injured for himself...he knew the humility was all on my shoulders. *It must be said, the sentence I puked into the room is by NO MEANS a fair or accurate representation of him or his penis. God was beyond generous with my man and “adequate” is a sick misrepresentation of his...um...manhood.
Then before I knew it, he lifted the camera for us again like nothing happened (what a wingman, swoon) and sang, “Saaaaay Wicked!”
After that, my friends and husband had a hunch it would all be downhill from there, and discreetly I said my goodbyes to Kristen Ashley (who I think got a kick out of me in hindsight) before they ushered me out for my own good.
“Did I really just say that?” I asked the lowering elevator holding our crew.
In unison, they replied. “Yyyyyyep.”
This picture is worth a thousand words, and even if I had verbal diarrhea'd all over the ethereal Kristen Ashley on one magnificent early February Florida night in a penthouse suite by the ocean, it’s one of my most cherished memories from a signing.
If you’ve ever had the misfortune/pleasure of meeting up with me at a signing you too can attest to how odd I behave in those situations, but in my defense it’s practically unbelievable that I’m invited to such things. I mean seriously, it’s the stuff fantasies are made of. And when you’re living your dream in broad daylight, sometimes it’s hard not to behave like you’re off in Nevernever Land, your head on a pillow, trying to imagine a way just to get in the same room as some of these humans.
Basically, weird and all, I’m really lucky. I was even invited back. hahahaha
Oh! Later that night I also read from a contemporary collection of scripture, The Urban Dictionary, to a crowd of probably thirty...including someone who may suffer from my brand of strange—Tara Sivec. We learned together why a sexual position called the Minivan was named just that...because it fits two in the front and five in the back, of course.
It was an epic and very wicked weekend.
Thanks for reading yet another story where I look like a total ass. I'm having a blast with these weekly posts. Last week, I got so many emails about funny accident stories some of you have. And it's a blast having conversations with you about how silly I can be.
Next week: The Story of How We Met...and then thought we were cousins. :/
If you missed last week's story about how I cut my butt off, you can read it here.
And the week before was the Story of 55¢ and why it's so special to us. That one can be read right here.
Same Mo time, same Mo channel next week.