Look at us! Quite the fangirls as we converged upon Richardson High School for the Richardson Reads One Book event featuring the recipient of our first honorary tiara, Jamie Ford, New York Times Bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
We'll use almost any excuse to gather and gab and eat as a group. The six of us are spread to the far corners of DFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth!), and it doesn't happen every week.
It's even more gratifying when we get to experience a writer's event together. And this is a HUGE event--1500 to 2000 in attendance each year with big names like Jodi Picoult, Khaled Hosseini, Garth Stein, Chris Bohjalian, Jeanette Walls, Catherine Ryan Hyde, and David Oliver Relin/Greg Mortensen in previous years.
One of our earliest gatherings as a group was at Jamie's booksigning event at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas way back in 2009--the very day Jamie learned he was on the New York Times Bestseller List! It was exciting to see him again last night and learn how far he's come in his publishing journey.
I've known Jamie on Backspace and Facebook for a few years, but still, imagine my surprise and slight faint feeling when Jamie snuck in a congratulations about my book deal near the end of his talk. My fellow What Women Write'ers took up all my slack by making lots of noise and pointing while I sat there stunned. (This book deal thing has been a pretty surreal experience. I pinch myself daily at least a few times!)
I recovered, and we waited until the book signing line wound down to chat with Jamie for a bit, where he graciously posed for the above photo with the six of us.
At one point in the Q&A, someone asked what Jamie's favorite part of the publication process has been. He said it was meeting other authors--not just the multipublished, big deal authors like his writer idol, Pat Conroy, but the hopeful, aspiring ones, too.
I quite agree. For me, that's been one of the best parts of this journey so far. I mean, look at these five amazing women I wouldn't know otherwise: Elizabeth, Kim, Joan, Pamela, and Susan.
And speaking of amazing ... this next part could look like a brag on me, but it's not. It's a brag on Pamela and on every one of these women.
We made another stop after the talk at the newly opened In-N-Out Burger in ... I don't know where, somewhere near Richardson, ostensibly to eat dinner and chat a while longer. We always run into this problem after events that last past 9 p.m. or so in DFW--everything closes by 10! So we're always having to be creative. Sometimes we just end with hugs all around and promises to plan ahead better the next time.
We were almost to that point last night when someone remembered In-N-Out stays open late. I said, "Let's try it and if it's closed, let's just go on."
Now, I'm usually all for staying up past bedtimes. I'm a night owl, and I'm proud of it. But last night, everyone got kind of sqirmy when I said that--not that I really noticed.
Turns out Pamela had made this cake. This incredible, unbelievable, unquestionably coolest cake I've ever seen--a prototype of my future book cover, complete with the tiny little car holding driver and passenger pegs representing my beloved Dorrie and Isabelle and words Pamela pulled from the humbling notes I've received from editors who bought the book. (Seriously, I loved my wedding cake, but gosh!!!)
And NOBODY was going home until we found a place to eat it. I laughed and choked up all at once when Pamela emerged from her vehicle carrying this masterpiece, finally clued in to why everyone was desperate to find a place last night of all nights.
We did eat cake, though I very neurotically cut pieces from the edge and from the corners so I could take all the words and decorations home intact to show my family. And we've been eating cake all day.
But Jamie's right. So much of the time, in writing and in life, it's about the relationships.
These are my girls. I love them.