Posted by: Judy | June 4, 2012

Arizona Dreamin’…

Start with the whining: I crashed. Everything that could go wrong, as far as my body is concerned, did go wrong. Under any other circumstances, I would have sent myself to my room on Friday, curled up in bed, and stayed there until Sunday or today. Not sick. A bit dehydrated, though I tried to stay on top of that, allergies, etc. This weekend, giving in was not an option.

Now, for the fun stuff: Picked up “A”, one of my facebook friends, at the airport. (Keeping names private, unless connected to a professional site. Thanks Ruth for doing the driving.) We stopped at P.Croissant for lunch, followed by a bit of shopping, and then on to Windmill Inns. Checked in, and settled into our rooms long enough to drop off baggage. Helped with stuffing goody bags, which included books, bookmarks, trading cards, a CD or two, anything a book industry person wanted to donate.

With the time I had before the wine and cheese party, I worked on backstory for Mark, who’s been modeled, in many respects, after international cover model and businessman Jimmy Thomas. Jimmy is on over 3,000 book covers. He created his own book cover company, making professional covers for a wide variety of romance genres. Recently, he added Romance Novel Center, a site for connecting authors, cover artists, models, editors, publishers, etc. I’m very happy with my publisher, but I’m learning the importance of connecting with others in the industry. I’ve already had the opportunity to share information as others have shared information with me.

“A” kept the schedule straight, and I learned to let go of the need to be right and trusted her. We arrived on time to the wine and cheese/meet and greet. Unfortunately the A/C was out, so the hospitality suite was incredibly warm. As reserved as I tend to be — or maybe I believe myself to be, falsely — I was amazed at the number of people I knew and with whom I felt comfortable chatting.

Gail and Jenifer, from Desert Breeze Publishing, were there. They were surprised to see me because I hadn’t mentioned I was attending. My excuses: I was busy worrying about the Desert Dreams Conference, editing, writing, and more editing. The truth: A part of me didn’t believe I was worthy of being noticed. I’m working on it. I know it’s all in my head. Long-held habits are difficult to break. Why it’s difficult to remember to not lie to myself in these situations, I don’t know.

I enjoyed chatting with Gail and Jenifer and look forward to working with them. They’re funny and made me feel very welcomed to the Desert Breeze family. Jenifer wisely brought a fan and generously shared the breeze.

My main reason for attending? To meet some wonderful friends I’ve made online, “S”, “S”, “R”, “K”, “A”, and “J”. (Meeting Jimmy again wasn’t a bad reason either. *g*) What amazing, incredible women. I’m so grateful to be privileged to call them friends.

Jimmy had joined the party, and yes, he remembered meeting me at the Chocolate Affair and didn’t wait to give me a hug. The man knows how to hug. Charming and personable, as always.

I’m not one much for parties, but for the first time in my life truly wanted the evening to never end. We moved the party to one of our rooms. It was such a pleasure to chat face to face. Rhonda Plumhoff, who writes cookbooks Literary Chocolate, shared some of her decadent truffles. Dark chocolate truffles — melt in your mouth deliciousness.

Sleep beckoned, I thought. The first night, I couldn’t settle. Made it to bed by 2am; woke at 3am, and again at 4am, and gave up. Feeling wide awake, I continued to work on my current WIP until breakfast time. April was up early as well. Biscuits and gravy. Eventually we were joined by others. Registration started at 10am, where we were given our goody bags, schedule for the day, and signed up for author workshops. I was feeling a little rough around the edges, so left myself plenty of time, I hoped, for being down. Good thing. At noon, there was “speed-dating” with the 20 authors with the 95 participants. The authors would move from table to table giving their “pitch,” helping attendees decide which six authors with whom they wanted to share a half hour workshop. I went to my room and crashed. I set the alarm for 1:30. When it sounded, I felt like I was swimming through quicksand to the surface of wakefulness.

At 2pm, pictures with Jimmy started. I hung out with my friends and watched, and yes had my picture taken with him. One was taken Friday night and shared on his Official Fan Page at Facebook. This one was the official Arizona Dreamin’ backdrop. Sitting and watching the photo shoot and chatting with friends was a joy.

My friends made sure I attended Deena Remiel‘s workshop. I know Deenaย from Desert Rose. It’s been fun to watch her writing journey.

Then it was time for dinner, where readers sat with their favorite authors who would set up their own table. I was honored to be sitting with my friends at Jimmy Thomas’s table.ย I want to be an author at next year’s Arizona Dreamin’, and he’s set a high standard.

The Man of Our Dreams contest: The four men, JP, the winner, Ron, Andrew, and Ryan were all delightful and played to the crowd of mostly women with enthusiasm and good humor. They took pictures afterward with anyone who wanted one, again with a donation to a charitable cause (HDSA). They were great sports.

Again, my friends took me to another workshop. This time it was Morgan Kearns. Her passion for writing was catching, and I’m looking forward to more of her books. I was able to ask a question I’d been holding every since I read one of her books. I was definitely there as a reader. ๐Ÿ™‚

More socializing in the hospitality suite, ending the event where it began. Though there was now A/C, there were lots of people, so it was pretty warm. By 10pm, my eyes were starting to do the blink, blink, blink, can’t stay open much longer routine. I took myself to bed, reluctantly.

I slept a little better, but still woke at 5am, without the alarm. I readied myself for the day and went for a short walk outside to enjoy the sunrise. I sang a few hymns to myself, amused by how little voice I had. I hadn’t realized you could lose your voice from laughing. I also realized something:ย Last week, I’d been struggling with this path I’ve chosen. I asked God for a breadcrumb. Yes, He did it again: He sent a whole loaf.

A breakfast of biscuits and gravy quickly turned into a feast of laughter as we gathered one more time. And then it was done. Not truly over because we all plan to attend next year, but done for now. This time, my sister took “A” and “S” to the airport, so we had a little longer to chat.

What else I realized: I often don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. As I shared this weekend, I was amazed by how comfortable I felt and how much I felt a part. I was a part of a group, several groups, where I belonged in one way or another. What was different about these friends? I realized it applied to all of the friends I’ve met online: These are the people who accepted me from the beginning, not because they knew me or my family, not because of the way I looked or how successful I am, not for what I do or for my standing in the community. We share a common interest, and they accepted me because they believe me. They believe I am the person I try to be. They believe I am worth knowing and worthy of notice. I feel the same way about them. More? In a world where identity theft is commonplace and con-artists (spammers et. al.) abound, we each have chosen to practice a remarkable level of trust. I’m honored by the trust they’ve shared with me.


  1. We were taught that being reserved = being demure, and that demure is good, but being reserved is only necessary in certain circumstances. We like to be social at times… and it’s definitely a good/healthy thing. Just my 2 cents! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, Mary!

  2. I’m happy to be in your group of friends! Glad that your circle has been widening so much this past year. God definitely sent you a whole loaf, and maybe a couple extra for the freezer! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • (((Mary))) Thanks for being among the first to befriend me, and seeing me through all the bumps of overcoming my distrust. And yes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Good for you!! Great to hear about the experience!

    • Thanks (((Mary Ann)))

  4. I’m so glad you had a terrific time! It sounds like you’re finding your place in the world. You deserve it!

    • Thanks (((vicariousrising))) ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. So delightful to listen to you sharing your weekend. I am so happy for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you (((Ruth))) for listening to me babble! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • It was a pleasure. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. It’s wonderful that you were able to connect so naturally with everyone there! I used to live in Arizona oh so many years ago…I know the sweltering you had to contend with, without A/C…even this early in the year. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you had a nice time, and received a wonderful hug from ‘Jimmy’. sometimes the impromptu hugs are the best ones!

    • I can’t remember ever being hugged so much, by Jimmy and by my wonderful girls. I’m having a little trouble wrapping my mind around calling them my girls, but that’s how they refer to us, so I’m working on moving past the mental barrier. I don’t think they have any idea how much they’ve brought out in me, without even trying, just by being themselves and accepting me as I am. Like my awesome friends here. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would not be where I am now without all the amazing people who have come into my life.

      • Calling friends “your girls”. I have always had a hard time with that one, too. Unsure why, really. Maybe it implies a feeling of ownership, that we can’t separate ourselves from. What it really means, is you have a heart-felt camaraderie with your closest friends. You are linked together in a sense. I’m just guessing, based on how that phrase feels to me when I say it vs understanding it. Either way it means you love your closest friends. Our friends are our biggest source of strength ๐Ÿ˜€ An absolute blessing!

        • Interesting you should phrase it that way, because I realized it wasn’t simply a matter of me owning them, but it means they own me. I’m usually pretty careful to not allow anyone too close, but I’m realizing how many people I’m drawing into my life. I never thought my world could be like this, though it was one of my dreams… never thought of it that way before either. Claiming ownership also carries with it a sense of responsibility, and I fear disappointing. I suppose it’s time to step up. I’ve actually been doing this for a long while now, I simply didn’t recognize it. Definite blessings! And I’m grateful.

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