Good morning everyone. I apologize for missing my regularly scheduled blog day on Friday. I attended the Glendale Chocolate Affaire all weekend. And by all weekend, I mean, 3-10pm on Friday, 8am-10pm on Saturday and 8am-5pm on Sunday and then went to dinner with the authors. What’s my point? I was a little tired and scattered. And my only other excuse for not blogging Friday is that I attended a funeral that morning for one of my dh’s uncles and then scrambled off to the Chocolate Affaire with all my promo items in tow. So….this is the first time I’m actually awake since then without the aid of Red Bull or a Monster Drink and a gallon of hot tea…lol.
For those of you not familiar with the Glendale Chocolate Affaire, let me just assure you that you are missing out if you don’t attend each and every year. It’s an absolutely amazing event and I will be attending this thing until I die. You’ll see me out there with my walker (or hopefully not) when I’m 100, and all the Butterscotch Martini Girls are still pointing out all the good looking men walking by…lol. But I digress. Check out the website, but the reader’s digest version is, there’s chocolate fudge, chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered bananas on a stick, candy apples of every flavor, home made root beer, lots of great food, TONS of cool crafts and neat things for your house and yard, horse drawn carriage rides, a climbing wall, music, cute bike cops and of course – the best part — 20-30 romance authors signing their books and giving free writing workshops all weekend long!
This shindig started for us on Friday. Charles, our sole male member of the Valley of the Sun Romance Writers was good enough to climb up on the ladder and hang all he lights and signage that decorated our booth. (Thanks Charles – you rock!) Charles actually writes sci-fi, but hey, what guy can resist hanging out with bunches of women who talk about romance & sex as part of their jobs?
Our booth was in a new location this year, right across from the Trolley that gave free tours of Historic Downtown Glendale. We had traffic around our booth as soon as the event opened. It was easy for people to find us with the great signage this year and book sales and happy readers abounded.
Now as with any event, there were a few snafus or should I say ‘more amusing events,’ and of course I have to relay a few of my ‘favorites.’ 🙂
1. We had red and white helium balloons on ribbons tied around the booth and during setup a few of them had gone AWOL and had risen to the pointy top of our tent/booth. Unfortunately, the strings of one of the balloons hung low enough that it sat against one of the lights. So, yup, you guessed it, the odor of burning ribbon permeated the booth, and our brave Chocolate Affaire coordinator Kayla stood on one of the chairs with other people balancing her, while she held a bent and jury-rigged coat hanger with duct tape on the end trying to capture the crispy piece of ribbon and pull the balloon down. Now I have to laugh, it was a little like a Saturday Night live skit there for a while. And about ten minutes into it, I snuck back to my purse and got my camera. Five tries later, I was able to get a picture of this without Kayla noticing…lol. I’ll definitely have to download it from my camera and post it. Anyway – the balloon was saved and our tent did NOT burn down. 🙂
2. Now you must remember, that we live in Arizona – the land of 120 degree summers, so when it dropped down into the high 30’s Friday and Saturday night – we thought we were freaking freezing. And I admit – I WAS. No matter what Judi McCoy from cold country says! 🙂 I don’t think any of us came prepared for the bone chilling cold we were up against Friday night except those few who had ventured from the East Coast. It wasn’t this cold last year!! So, on the way home, with my teeth still chattering – I stopped at the 24 hour Wal Mart and bought gloves for myself, my son and his friend (cheap labor who work for food…lol), for 93 cents each – because supposedly, cold season is over. Apparently, whoever made that decision wasn’t outside at the Chocolate Affaire with us. Then I was looking for the warm hand packs. You know, the little things about the size of a business card you take camping? You shake up the packs and the chemicals mix and they get warm/hot for 10 hours. I used to use them in marching band to put in my shoes, my pockets – hell, even in my bra! I couldn’t find them in camping gear, so had to ask. The early 20’s clerk told me they were probably in the ‘sex section.’ Now I admit – I do shop at Wal Mart regularly, and for the life of me – I’ve never seen a ‘sex section’ and I said as much. Skippy looks at me like I’m a little too slow to keep up and says “You know, by the feminine napkins and stuff.” Now my light bulb flickers and I advise Skippy that I’m NOT looking for KY Warming jelly or anything – these things have nothing to do with sex (although a few stories ideas were definitely perking through my brain, I must admit). So, Skippy enlists help – someone else who had actually heard of these and knew they were not the latest sex accoutrement for desperate looking women who frequent Wal Mart at 11pm on a Friday night. He found them for me up by the register – a buck for a pack of 4 and I grabbed a large handful. So the next night, I handed those around the tent and we were a much happier group – this time with hand warmers (that were definitely warming more than just hands), blankets, gloves, jackets and big cups of hot chocolate 🙂
3. Our yearly stalker was back. Yeah – he’s probably going to read this blog and come hunt me down, but I can’t help including him since he’s become a staple of the event. We aren’t even sure who he is, but he attends every year and sort of stands in front of an author (different each time – in fact he moves every 10 min or so) and stares at them. He does take a few promo items and will answer questions when spoken to, but other than that – it’s just the stare… Now, as you can imagine, it’s a bit creepy. I think he actually bought a book from someone last year, but other than that – he just hovers and stares. Now after several years of seeing him, we as writers with fertile imaginations have of course given this anonymous guy a backstory. And since we all write fiction – it of course includes several bodies buried in his basement and a severed head in his ever present backpack. We didn’t see him till the last day this year, so we had conjectured that his parents had moved taking him and the head in his ever present backpack and the stockpile of bodies in the basement with him. However, he make it Sunday, just when we were beginning to think he’d gone off to stare at the participants in a horror writer’s seminar and they concocted some painful end for him. What can we say – it’s just not a complete year at the Chocolate Affaire without our resident stalker.
There are plenty more funny stories about the event, as there always are when you have this many creative people in one place, but I have to save those for another time and another blog. (I do still have to write today!!) But the event was terrific as usual. I sold 48 books over the weekend (as opposed to my embarrassing 4 last year…lol) and I’m ecstatic! Every author I talked to did extremely well and felt that this was truly a worthwhile endeavor, not only for their sales, but to get their author brand out there and to interact with readers – which is really the greatest part of what we do!
I have to give a big shout out to Kayla Janz, who did an absolutely amazing job coordinating the Chocolate Affaire this year for us. You are truly a great lady! Also special thanks for our new VOS pres – Kayce who was always there to help out (and has been for the past several years even before she was Pres – hey, how do you think I talked her into taking over as Pres so I could step down! 🙂 Two years is enough!) Special thanks to Kayla’s daughter Heidi who helped out the entire time by getting food for the authors, setting up, tearing down and doing any errands we needed done. Thanks to Bev Petrone and Isabella Clayton who weren’t signing, but came to help – it’s appreciated. Thanks to Renee Bernard who is an absolutely wonderful woman who I got to know this weekend – and who fights off promo item thieves with deft hands and a sense of humor – Renee – you rock! 🙂 And special thanks to my son and his best friend who came on Saturday to help and did for the most part. I have to give them a small bit of understanding since they both instantly fell in love with Kayla’s daughter Heidi and spent the rest of the day trying to get her to notice them in the normal male way – by acting like hormone crazed teenagers. (I’m sure that gives you a vivid enough picture). Ahh, young love 🙂 Thank the Universe I’m looooong past puberty!! 🙂