I arrived in Columbus yesterday shortly before noon, and the first person I saw upon entering the hotel was Rachael Herron. Squeal, hug, etc. :) Rachael and I had already planned a yarn crawl for Tuesday afternoon -- it's our little conference tradition, much cherished, but this is the first time we've gone just the two of us. What a treat to spend time with her. Lovely, lovely woman, and you should all buy her book, How to Knit a Love Song, now available at all bookstores and Target. (I linked that to Borders for your shopping convenience.) It's charming and bright and funny, just like Rachael.
So we cabbed out to a yarn shop recommended by some of the Columbus knitting locals, and dude, we were NOT disappointed. The place has AISLES. We walked in the door, and the clerk instantly recognized Rachael and went into mild but genuine fangirl raptures. (Rachael is a bit of a celebrity in the knitting world. Check out her blog Yarn-a-Go-Go and you'll see why. See note about charming, bright, and funny above.) So we had a good giggle about how the knitters were all like, "OMG, Theresa, you're going yarn crawling with Rachael Herron?" And the writers were all like, "OMG, Rachael, you're going yarn crawling with Theresa Stevens?" Because that's how it happens when you're a slightly bloated fish in a very tiny pond.
Anyway. You probably don't want to hear about the yarn or the knitting anymore.
But could I interest you in some ice cream? Jeni's ice cream, featured on the Food Network, has probably the best ice cream I have ever eaten in my entire life. And the flavors are beyond anything. They have this deal where you can get three mini-scoops, which amounts to about a regular scoop and a half, so that was what we did. I had the -- get this -- roasted cherry and goat cheese (imagine frozen cherry cheesecake, but better), the brown butter (OMG YOU MUST TRY IT), and the dark chocolate, which was a bit like eating an ultra-gourmet frozen fudge. Rachael had the chili spice, the salty caramel, and I forget her third flavor. We were both in ice cream heaven. Jeni's is located in the North Market, just north and a noodge west of the convention center. Really, you can't miss it. The market also has a fruit stand, wine shop, and lots of little sandwich and takeout stands, all very reasonably priced. I may go there for lunch today and for more ice cream. I have a hankering for some of the mango lassi and meyer lemon this time.
I had hoped to connect with one of my authors last night, but here's how the rest of the day went. I returned to my room to drop off my yarn, and my phone was ringing as soon as I walked in. My friends Alexis Fleming and Lyn Cash were looking for me, and I learned that Lyn had to leave early Wednesday morning. So I headed out to meet them, and one thing led to another. Or to put it more precisely, we decided to get dinner in the hotel restaurant. OVER TWO HOURS LATER we were still sitting at the table praying for food to arrive. At one point, one of our companions got up, marched into the kitchen, and demanded of the cooks, "Who do I have to fuck to get a waiter at our table?" (Best. Conference. Moment. EVER.) That got their attention. But it didn't get our food prepared any faster. Avoid the in-house restaurant, and head to the short north or arena areas, all within an easy two-block walk, unless you want to send people to your hotel room for a snack while you're waiting for your salads. (Seriously. Crackers from the room while we waited and waited.)
In any event, thank God the company was good, because we had a nice chat and mingled with some of the other famished and neglected restaurant patrons. A few brief laps through the bar to look for people and say hello were also included in my Tuesday, but by the time we finished with our never-ending dinner, I really wanted to find my bed.
I have heard some inside gossip, but nothing earth-shattering and nothing I can post here. More like business as usual. Lots of discussion about advances at various houses as authors are still adapting to the reality of lower advances. A lot of garden-variety grumbling about the usual things -- this one was slow to respond to a submission, that one dropped the ball on scheduling something, another has lower-than-hoped-for sales, etc. You know the drill. Everyone loves the writing and hates the business. Those of you who've been around publishing for a while know that these are perennial grumbles that have more to do with the way the industry operates than with anything else.
Today is a little knit-in, our Red Sage spotlight, and some time with authors. There's a party tonight, though I can't recall which one and probably will go to the bar instead. If you're at the hotel, look for me there and say hello. I'll be wearing a grey tweed pantsuit with a black shirt. This funereal ensemble will make people thing I belong at the coffin-makers convention also going on in the hotel this week. Everyone, go peek inside their show floor and help me figure out whether the blue lighthouse thingie is a coffin. I really, really want it to be.