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Island Wisdom and Island Heat: Jamaican Proverbs and ‘Turnabout Day’

Turnabout Day arrives in just a few days, on August 22, and as we continue to celebrate my blog’s Jamaica Month, I wanted to share one of my favorite parts of Jamaican culture — the proverbs.

My mom and grandmother were famous for passing along a little island wisdom every now and then, and as crazy as these sayings seemed to me when I was younger, their logic is apparent to me as a grown woman. Try these on for size and see if you can appreciate the truth in them.

1. Sometimes the cheapest comes the dearest. In other words, sometimes the effort to save money can cost more than just spending the extra money in the first place. Consider Tupperware as an example. It’s easy to balk at how much Tupperware costs, but I have Tupperware pieces that are older than I am. That grocery store stuff might be cheaper, but you’ll make up the difference when you have to replace it every few weeks. The same is true of shoes, purses, and that Burberry trench coat you should go ahead and buy.

2. Puss belly full, potato have skin. When the cat’s belly is full, she notices that potatoes have skin. I have a true story to use as an example for this one. One of my little cats used to live outside in the parking lot before I adopted her. Back then she used to eat whatever she could find, especially near the Dumpster. I think this is where she acquired her love for french fries (although I think it’s unAmerican to throw out perfectly good french fries). Now that she lives inside and doesn’t have to scrounge for food in the garbage, she’s developed certain preferences with regard to her fries. Specifically, she only eats the ones from McDonald’s. She will actually turn her nose up at Five Guys fries because of the skin.

3. Man meant fi hang cannot drown. This one’s about destiny. If you’re meant to hang, you can’t drown. It sounds a little morbid, but I actually find it kind of reassuring. After all, when your number is up, it’s up, but until it’s up, there’s no sense to worrying about things.

And here’s one for my upcoming story, “Turnabout Day”: What never happens in a year, can happen in a day. Expect the unexpected! It only takes an instant to change everything.

See, Chloe Newton, the heroine of my story, figured she’d never see her childhood playmate, Peter Darrow, again once he left Jamaica to return to Scotland. But years later, he’s back and ready to help her repair the fleet of steam-driven cane cutters that work her estate’s fields.

Plus Peter’s hot now. Yeah, kind of a complication when you’re trying to keep it businesslike and all.

The story takes place on Turnabout Day, a holiday when the upper class serves the servants. Chloe seizes the opportunity to … well … seize Peter, and hot hijinks ensue. Check it out.

She reached for his mouth, wanting to stroke his full lips. He intercepted her hand and pressed her fingers together almost painfully.

“Listen to me, Chloe,” he whispered before releasing her hand. “I won’t be like those rich boys you’re used to. I won’t treat you as if you’re made of glass.”

His promise, his desire-laden voice, made all her empty places ache, and she sighed. He slid his hands down her bare arms.

“Tonight, you must do as I say, love. You must do anything I say. Is that what you want, Chloe?”

She flattened her hand against his chest and summoned her friend Beryl’s flirtatious spirit. “What do you think?”

He leaned down toward her, moving with a torturous slowness, and she pressed her lips to his. Her skin burned where it met his. The smooth, soft surface of his generous mouth teased her. Need erupted in her, and she fought the desire to wrap her arms around him.

Before she could remind herself that she was Beryl tonight, he pulled away from her. “Chloe, kiss me. Kiss me.”

She pulled him to her and kissed him hard, the way she’d wanted other men to kiss her. She locked her mouth to his, but she’d only begun to ease his mouth open when he parted his lips for her. Then he took control, his tongue eagerly taking possession of her mouth.

Oh, yes. Yes!

So what happens next? You’ll have to wait a week to find out!

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Alexa Day Gets Medieval … Right After She Gets Victorian

Last week, I showed you a picture of the Big Bag of Historical Romances that I won at a drawing at the Virginia Festival of the Book. I arranged them in chronological order – because I am a dork like that, my friends – and now they’re stacked next to my TV, with Patricia Phillips on the top, waiting to take me to Wales in 1401. All I have to do is get out of Victorian England first.

Six weeks ago, none of this was my thing.

My mom gave me a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower a few Christmases ago, but that was mostly because she felt The Time Had Come To Give This Heirloom To Her Daughter. Then I won another Woodiwiss at a Romanticon giveaway – Joey W. Hill said it was on her keeper shelf, and I won it at a giveaway. Still, I only had a couple of historicals on my own shelves. I didn’t think I had much in common with the heroines, and when black characters did appear, they occupied the periphery of the story, which infuriates me, as you know.

But then – Festival magic!

To help out with the Virginia Romance Writers social media push in advance of the Festival, I got cozy with some historical fiction. I’d seen Deanna Raybourn at a VRW presentation some time ago, and so I tried the first of her Lady Julia Grey series, Silent in the Grave, in preparation for her Festival panel. She had me at the first page – she gets a lot of people like that – but what kept me going was the discovery that Lady Julia and I have a lot in common after all.

We both have large families, often charitably described as eccentric and unpredictable, who will go right to the wall for each other. We both enjoy our independence, although I have an easier time asserting mine than she does. Neither of us could have said no to the raven.

And so once I felt comfortable with Lady Julia, I could get comfortable within her story.

Tasha Alexander’s And Only to Deceive took me on a similar journey. The heroine reminded me of my childhood study of Latin and Greek classics, and from there, it was easy to get into the rest of the story.

Of course, having a rich “rest of the story” helps. Both Raybourn and Alexander present historical mysteries, and the romances that lie in the background are complicated. Alexander’s heroine never really got to know her husband. Raybourn’s didn’t know hers as well as she thought. Both situations make for tempting reads, against any backdrop.

Could it be that I was open to historical romances? Had I written off those heroines of the past too quickly? Was I missing out on other hot heroes and exotic settings?

I’d only started to explore these questions when I won the bag of books. Feels like a sign, right?

So here’s the reading list for my hot history course.

  • The Constant Flame, Patricia Phillips
  • The Laird of Stonehaven, Connie Mason
  • The Conquest, Jude Deveraux
  • Catriona, Jeanette Baker
  • Believe, Victoria Alexander
  • Defy the Storm, Kate O’Donnell
  • A Season Beyond a Kiss, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss (it’s a sequel to The Flame and the Flower, so that comes first)
  • Merely the Groom, Rebecca Hagan Lee
  • Kiss Me Annabel, Eloisa James
  • The Italian, Elaine Coffman
  • Every Wish Fulfilled, Samantha James
  • The Glass Slipper, Linda O. Johnston – a contemporary disguised as a historical

I’ll keep you all posted as to my progress (including how the hell I plan to write a book with all this reading). This might be the only vacation I get to take this year, but I’ll send lots of postcards!

The Next, Next Big Thing: Taking the Hop to Jamaica

Last week, I kind of left you all high and dry with no blog post. I do feel bad about that. Things have just been out of control in real life lately. Wildly out of control. Sooner or later, I knew some innocent person would end up getting punished for it, and lo and behold, it turned out to be you.

Today, a whole day early, I’m going to make it up to you. My friend, author Denise Golinowski, tapped me last week for The Next Big Thing blog hop. Even though I didn’t thank her for it. See how patient everyone’s been with me? Anyway, the last time I did the hop, I gave you a little ten-question peek at my new release, ILLICIT IMPULSE. Today, I’m giving you a look at my next book.

  1. What’s the working title of your book? First question, and I’m stumped already. My first title for it was Fourth and Forever, but that was when the hero was a football player. I’ve since learned that he used to play baseball, so the title won’t work, even though I love it. Now I’m looking at something baseball-themed, something that still gets the idea across, so today’s title is Cleanup Man. Next week, it might be something else altogether.
  2. Where did the idea for the book come from? I can’t talk about this too much (aren’t you glad I’m doing this?) because the idea for this book came from my first book, and I’m pretty sure you haven’t all read the first book yet. Let me give you a fighting chance to do that. You don’t need to have read ILLICIT IMPULSE to enjoy this book, but if you’re planning to read ILLICIT IMPULSE, you’ll be happier if I keep some of these details to myself.
  3. What genre is your book in? It’s an interracial erotic romance.
  4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I always have trouble with this. The two of them just look like the two of them, if you know what I mean. So I usually answer this question with Google. This time I started with “blond actors under 40.” Try that for a laugh and let me know how many blond actors you get. Then I ran across Chris Hemsworth. If he were to shave, he’d look like my hero. My heroine looks like Sanaa Lathan.
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis for your book? A lifetime hasn’t been long enough for him to tell her he wants her – can he convince her with one week in paradise?
  6. Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? My plan is to send it to Ellora’s Cave, once it’s finished, since that’s where the first book is.
  7. How long did it take you to finish the first draft of your manuscript? I’m still working on it. I think that’s why real life is coming after me with both hands. This is what happened the last time.
  8. What other books in your genre would you compare this story to? You know, I have trouble with this question, too; I try not to read hard in my genre while I’m writing. These days I’m reading mostly historical fiction after being converted by Deanna Raybourn, Tasha Alexander, and a bag full of free historical romances I won at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Here’s a little book pron. No, no, I insist; it’s the least I can do. Behold, the contents of my giveaway bag!book giveaway
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? The artsy answer to this question is that the hero wouldn’t leave me alone. And he wouldn’t, that’s the sort of guy he is. If you like something a little less woo-woo, my editor’s first question after I accepted the contract for the first book was, “Did you have a second book planned? Because if not, we’re going to have to look at this ending.” I didn’t think I’d ever finish the first book, so altering the ending – and potentially much of the rest of the story – was too much to bear. Far easier to write another book. Yeah, I like the artsy answer better, too.
  10. What else about the book might pique your reader’s interest? I take the hero and heroine to Jamaica for much of the story. My mother was born in Jamaica, and I’ve traveled there often to see my family. My Jamaica is local and authentic – I’ve never been to one of those all-inclusive resorts – and I hope my book does it justice.

That’s it, America! True to form, I’ve been too big a slack-ass to tap anyone else for this blog hop. Instead I’m going to use the space to thank my friend and genius critique partner Denise Golinowski. She bears so much of my slack-assitude with grace. I don’t even know how to thank her for all that.

Diversity’s Never Looked Quite Like This

I’ve always written interracial romances featuring a black heroine. I’m like a lot of romance writers, in that I wanted to read and write about a heroine I could identify with. For years, I avoided reading romance altogether because I didn’t feel represented there. I might have stayed away from romance if it hadn’t been for law school. One of Mom’s friends sent me a couple of romances in a care package. I was so desperate to read about human beings and just enjoy the story, without the pressure of facing The Paper Chase the next day. I finished the first one very quickly and had to slow down and savor the others.

I still didn’t feel represented. But I was interested in what romance had to offer.

When I started reading romance, it looked like black women appeared in only two capacities – as the Sassy Black Friend, helping the heroine get the guy, or as the “exotic Creole” character. I was never clear on whether the Creole character was actually black. She always had dark hair and dark skin, but I always wondered why the author didn’t just say she was black, if she was in fact black.

I wanted to see – and, okay, maybe to be – a black heroine at center stage of her own romance novel. It wasn’t enough to help someone else get the guy and then be relegated to the end of a series (if she was lucky) with the only other black character in the books. I didn’t want to have to guess whether the heroine was black.

And that’s when I started thinking about writing romances. I had always written stories and I’d always wanted to write for publication. I just didn’t think I’d do it with romance. After all, I didn’t see anyone else publishing interracial romances, although I know now that there were a handful of them out there, scarce as hens’ teeth.

Then Sandra Kitt changed everything. The Color of Love is the romance novel I needed to see. The heroine is definitely black – she’s not olive-skinned or Creole – and she is definitely center stage. She and the hero, who is white, overcome the obstacles separating them (race-related and otherwise) to arrive at the end of the book with a declaration of love and a marriage proposal. I’d never read anything quite like it.

The Color of Love came out in 1995, so it was around when I got to law school. I just didn’t know about it. Once I found it, though, the game changed again. If she’d been published with an interracial romance (and Sandra Kitt has more than one such story out there), then I could do it, if I worked at it hard enough.

When my first novel, Illicit Impulse, comes out in three weeks, it will enter a very different world. I never thought I’d see a world with so many interracial relationships in books, television and movies. Interracial romances have long since made a place for themselves in electronic publishing, but TV and movies seem to be seeing the light, too. Finally.

I was the nut who stood up and cheered when Uhura kissed Spock in Star Trek. (Go easy on me. I’d been waiting YEARS for that.) I’m happy to see James Bond continuing a 40-year tradition of getting his swirl on. I was almost delirious with joy when ABC had two (three if we consider Grey’s Anatomy) well-established interracial relationships in prime time scripted television, although I miss 666 Park Avenue dearly now. Better still, television executives aren’t playing up the fact that their characters are falling in love across racial lines. These are just characters with their own needs and wants and dreams and problems. They just happen to be of different colors, and that’s the sort of romance I love the most.

I couldn’t be more excited to enter this field now, when the market exposure is growing. I’m part of a steadily growing audience, composed of people seeing these relationships for the first time and people who are saying “about damn time.” The sky is the limit now. I already know there are more interracial relationships on TV than I can keep track of. I claim the next book as my excuse, but I hope I can keep up with developments.

In the meantime, I need to make plans to see Skyfall.

Day on Bond on Bond

Mom and I have a long-running argument about who is the best James Bond. Don’t laugh. I bet you have debates like this in your family, too. Mom says it’s Sean Connery. I cannot agree.

“Roger Moore is the real James Bond,” I said.

Mom was incredulous. She could not believe that a well-educated, sophisticated woman like me would choose Roger Moore over Sean Connery. But I do. Roger Moore was my first Bond – A View to a Kill was the first Bond movie I ever saw – and I think everyone has a certain loyalty to her first Bond. Having seen all the other Bonds (except Daniel – it’s a personal thing), I find I would still choose Roger Moore. His Bond, with apologies to Yul Brynner, is Bond.

This Christmas, Mom acknowledged the special place in my heart that James and Roger share, and she gave me a copy of Bond on Bond, written by Sir Roger himself. The book is really a memoir of sorts, a guided tour through the Bond franchise, complete with insider stories and photos. The writing is wonderful; I feel like I’m sitting across the table from my favorite Bond. But if the pictures serve to remind me of the Bond I fell in love with all those years ago, the memoir as a whole is tailor-made for a woman on the cusp of a milestone birthday.

Roger Moore was 45 when he took up the mantle of Bond. Never too late to start doing something magical, is it? Our society starts trying to convince us that we’re too old to do things at 30 or so. I’m so inspired to hear that my favorite Bond was over 40 when he became 007.

Roger doesn’t take himself too seriously. The true joy of the book, the center of its conversational voice, is his gently self-deprecating humor. He doesn’t have anything to prove. He can look back on that remarkable period of his life, which includes Moonraker, the space movie, with the grace and confidence that can only come from someone who has thoroughly enjoyed his time in the sun but has moved on to another place, that is just as sunny in its own way.

He’s generous with praise for the other Bonds. No one’s a competitor, and no one’s an outsider (not even Daniel). Roger treats the other Bonds as if they’re part of a family. A really weird family where you might flip your car through a corkscrew turn on the way to the grocery store.

Back then, I wanted to be James Bond. Tonight, almost 30 years later, I still do.

Do I dare to open the debate here in the comments? I do. I do dare.

My Heart Belongs to Paper … but the Kindle is Pretty Awesome

This Christmas, Mom and I elected to join the 21st century, already in progress. We got each other Kindles. We do not need to do anything on the Kindle other than read, so we got the little one with the ads. We are both hard-core book addicts. Mom started me using when I was just a kid, and now I’m trying to make my own in my house after work. We do not see how ads for other books presented on a reading device could possibly be a problem. Seriously, if you were smoking crack, and in between rocks, your pipe lit up with ads for discounts on more crack, would you ever complain about that?

I’m digressing a little. But let me just say, at the outset, that I will probably always prefer the paper book.

I’m kind of old school in this regard. I like the weight of the paper book. I like the feel of the pages. Deckled edges? Oh, yes, please! Marbled endpapers? Indeed! And the spines on the shelf! My ex gave me a three-volume definitive Sherlock Holmes set (with annotations!) that just … reassures me when I look at it. When Ray Bradbury died, I held my autographed copy of Green Shadows, White Whale and thought of his hand on the page as he signed it. I first perused Reclaiming History just because it was a hefty, hefty tome, but I bought it for the promise of reading Bugliosi on the Kennedy assassination. Sixteen hundred glorious pages, plus so many notes he had to put them on a CD-ROM. I’m drooling a little just writing about it.

I said I was addicted.

The argument for the Kindle and its ilk with regard to my chosen genre is a powerful one. Some people evidently take issue with being seen in public reading erotica. I understand. I do! I just don’t have that problem.

One night I took my copy of Fortytude to a bar and met a good-looking soldier who was also celebrating a milestone birthday – his 30th. I met a handsome intellectual who saw me reading Les Liaisons Dangereuses on the bus. The paper book shows the world not only that I do read, but it shows the world what I read, and therefore just a bit of who I am. It’s like a nametag. I personally would not have minded showing the world that I am reading Held Captive by the Cavemen. That doesn’t trouble me at all. If it troubles those sheltered souls sitting nearby, then maybe they should look into minding their own business.

But one cannot purchase a paper copy of Held Captive by the Cavemen. If one has a Kindle, though, one can have it all ready to go in less than a minute. I think it took me three clicks to put it on the machine, and now it’s waiting for me. (I need to hurry this post along, actually, so I can start reading it.)

Then I started poking around, looking for other stuff to buy. This is where the Kindle gets dangerous. Scoring a paper book takes a little effort. Hardback? Paperback? Don’t even start me on the shipping. The Kindle takes you from whim to purchase in just seconds. And so, when I found Dirty for the Kindle for just a couple of bucks, I went for it. I love Megan Hart’s work – the world she creates would be very cool to live in, even without the sex … but then there’s sex in it. A win-win if I ever saw one.

This time it only took one click. Very nice.

There’s a lot to like about the Kindle, to be sure. It’s tiny but strong. It’s discreet. It’s fast. It’s not terribly expensive. And if I’m going to be working in the realm of e-publishing – and interracial erotica all but guarantees that – I need to get comfortable with all these advantages.

The paper book is my first love, though. I will probably end up being the little old lady sitting on the park bench with a paper copy of The Complete Novels of Jane Austen. Over on the bench next to me, a mother will tell her little boy, “See, Jimmy? That lady has a paper book. Long ago, you could only get books on paper.”

And Jimmy’s going to say, “I thought they all came on rocks way back then!”

And then the little wise-ass and his mom are going to laugh. But I won’t care.

I will be too busy stealing glances over my book at that shirts vs. skins touch football game. Those guys won’t notice. The Jane Austen makes me look harmless.

You can’t do that with a Kindle. Can you?

A HotList of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving! As you’re reading this, I’m hanging out with my family. I’ve done a lot of thinking this year about gratitude and what I’m grateful for, but I know you’re wanting to hang out with your families as well. Or maybe you’re hanging out by yourself. I did that for years, and I do not feel like any less a member of my family for having done that.

Anyway.

These are five things I’m grateful for today.

  1. I’m grateful for my family. They take a lot of BS from me, poor guys. But no one’s ever made me laugh harder than my family. No one’s had my back like my family. No one can make just hanging out on the couch a joy like my family. And no matter how crazy things get, I would never trade my family for anyone else’s. And things get pretty crazy. Just so you know.
  2. I’m grateful for my cats. I’m kind of cheating here. My cats are part of my family. I’ve got three, with their own little quirks and personalities. One of them is a prissy little Southern lady. One of them is an opinionated little bad girl. The third used to live in the parking lot of my old apartment complex, until she decided to live with me. Adopting an animal is a pretty powerful emotional experience, but there’s nothing quite like having an animal choose you. I’m so grateful for each of them and their silly behavior and all their little sounds.
  3. I’m grateful for my day job. I talk smack about the day job all the time, but I really am grateful for it. At the outset, it is not Job From Hell, which was going to destroy me if things hadn’t ended so badly. The new day job keeps the lights on and food in everyone’s bowl until the writing can take over for it. Then the day job gives me the time to allow the writing to start taking over. I can’t ask for more than that.
  4. I’m grateful for my senses. Not long ago, I was in a state of ecstasy over something I was eating, and it occurred to me that I have never specifically been grateful for the fact that all my senses function well. As an erotica writer, I’m constantly have to feed and test my senses, looking for new scents and tastes and sights and sounds – and then looking for ways to describe them. But it’s not just for work – I love the way things taste. I love staring at things of beauty – the hot, shirtless men; muscle cars; the clean lines of paintings and buildings; the amazing mélange of colors that come together for sunrise and sunset. I love music from Aerosmith to Mozart, and the louder the better, and I can’t imagine what smells better than my favorite vanilla-scented soap, unless it’s coq au vin or mint chocolates or whatever makes the Cavemen smell so spectacular. And let’s not even get into my sense of touch. 😉 So if I haven’t said so before, I’m committed now to being grateful every day for my senses.
  5. I’m grateful for the writing. I was captured by a story idea while I was at Romanticon (and when am I going to stop talking about that? How about around next Romanticon?), and I was talking to my mom about it. I spend so much time around writers that I hadn’t imagined for a long time that not everyone is suddenly struck by story ideas in the middle of something else. I told another good friend of mine that when I was a little girl, I thought I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be. I thought I wanted to be everything – and then later, like in law school, I realized that I was actually making up stories about what someone in those various jobs might do. If one week, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, my imagination seized that idea and put together an Emergency 51 style plot line with a doctor that looked me, driving that ambulance with my best friend and partner to rescue people before their wrecked cars exploded. Another week, I thought I wanted to be an astronaut, and my imagination turned that into a day-to-day job on a space station, befriending offworlders and having adventures. I wanted to make up all those stories. It just took me years to figure that out. I’m grateful to have it all figured out now.

Right now, I’m probably grateful for a good book and a nap. How about you?

Romanticon 2012 Photos: Glass Dildos, Hot Shirtless Men, and Soap

My total Romanticon wine bottle count is three. Erotic romance has been very, very good to me. Also in the frame are a mask and some beads from the Last Night of Your Life party.

Here I am (trust me, that’s me) with Ace. Ace is a great-looking guy, as are all the Cavemen, but again, I had to crop out both our heads because of the uptight folks at my job. My mom wonders why I don’t just pixelate my face, so that everyone is not punished for my poor career choices. I told her that was an artistic choice on the part of the blogger.

Mom, on the other hand, is happy to appear in the frame. Here she is with two hot new friends at the Pajama Bingo Party.

And here she is with the new Alpha Caveman, Nick. Mom has just won a bingo game, and Nick is verifying the numbers.

About three games later, Mom says, “Oh, Lex! You know who you could have gotten a picture of? You should have gotten a picture of Nick when he was over here!” Yeah. Mom was in her own little Caveman-induced fog.

This is Mom with Giorgio. Told you he was cute!

And here I am with Ryan. I have a really blurry photo of Ryan all by himself, which I had hoped to post here so that you can see that amazing face of his. He invited me to join him for a photo of both of us. I was trying to figure out how to avoid cropping both of us out, and he looked at me, gently, like, “See, now I just think you’re being silly.”

I told him that if people saw both of us in the frame they would have all sorts of questions. He said, “Yes. They’re going to say, ‘What are you both doing in your pajamas at this hour?’ This is what we *want.*”

We do want that!

This is Rodney at the annual Pajama Bingo Party, about to give a lucky winner a lap dance.

At our Last Night of Your Life party, I got this photo of Rodney wearing a garment made almost entirely of peacock feathers.

And here’s Christian in the same outfit. See? It’s nice when I don’t have to crop myself out, isn’t it? Particularly because Christian is easily head and shoulders taller than I am. Cropping myself out would have cut him in half and done everyone a disservice, right?

Original Caveman CJ is below from our Last Night of Your Life party. I felt bad for turning up in jeans, but if there is one thing I can be sure of about the last night of my life, it is this — I am going to be comfortable.

This is the crew from Cleveland Exotic Dance, looking awesome at the Sunday SEXporium. Those ladies can move!

I scored these two glass dildo keychains from the souvenir room because I couldn’t decide between them. Now I can’t decide what keys to put them on. It seems a shame to put them on my dull, everyday keys, but if part of my philosophy is that every day can be a little sexy, that’s exactly where they should go, right?

And now, my story about the soap.

The swag tables are a favorite destination for me and Mom every year at Romanticon. We both take a long, slow pass over the tables, and then we carry our loot upstairs and compare notes. After the first pass, she showed me a pair of nice, big green jelly candies in a cellophane envelope. I was bummed — I love jelly candy — but I resolved to score my own before the conference was over. It took a little while, but I finally grabbed some nice lemon-lime jelly candy on Sunday afternoon and went right upstairs before Pajama Bingo to eat them.

I popped a jelly candy into my mouth and started chewing. Hmm. Not as sweet as I’d expected. But then my palate is not so sophisticated. I kept chewing. Maybe it was a more subtle lemon taste. More lemon juice than lemon candy.

Then I thought, “You know what this tastes like?”

I went into the bathroom and spat the jelly candy into my hand. Then I rubbed it between my hands and got fragrant lather.

It took me about 20 minutes to rinse the soap out of my mouth, and I was hiccuping soap bubbles for much longer than that! But I kept my sliver of soap with the teeth marks in it.

Reality hit me like a fist this morning. How can Romanticon be over so soon? I had to pay for breakfast. I was on the elevator at work several times today and saw not a single Caveman. All I have are photos. And a story idea. And plans for next year. And some chewed-up soap, three bottles of wine, loads of chocolate, a bunch of books, and a pair of dildo keychains.

You’re right, it’s not that bad. I’m just upset right now that there are no Cavemen on my elevator. In time, I will learn to live with that.