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Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Toto...I don’t think we’re in Kansas. 
No, Dorothy, we are in a magical kingdom of beautiful princesses, wicked queens and fairy godmothers - the 2012 Romance Writers of America Conference which just happens to be at the Anaheim Marriott - right next door to Disneyland. The 2100 attendees will be jostling with 25,000 librarians who are attending their annual convention at the (enormous) convention centre next door. The romance writers will be at the convention centre at 5.00 pm on Wednesday for the annual Literacy signing (proceeds to charity).

I left a cold, wintry Melbourne (Australia) at 9.35am this morning and arrived at LAX at 7.00 am - two and a half hours before I left. Something about the international date line that just makes my head hurt. I have to say it was a fabulous flight. Not only was the plane not full, but my friend and Harlequin Presents writer Carol Marinelli was on the same flight...not only on the same flight, but on a plane of 480 potential seats, she was seated right next to me. Needless to say we talked non stop for the first 4 hours, slept some and then Carol, whose dedication to her work is an inspiration hit the keyboard and wrote a 1000 words before we landed in LA. Half guiltily I pulled out my computer and edited a chapter and a half of SECRETS IN TIME (just hope my editor is reading this!)

Another miracle, my room at the Anaheim Hilton was ready for me so I was able to unpack and grab a couple of hours sleep before venturing out in search of food. I had forgotten that everything in California is big...and what looked like a gentle stroll to Disney Downtown was a good half hour hike. Pick the a town where everyone is on holiday  and the wardrobe de jour for man, woman and child is shorts and a tee shirt, there I was in long pants, a long sleeve shirt and a decidedly unflattering (but lightweight) hat pulled down to my eyes. Sun...arrgh...I may turn to dust!

Lunch...Trying to find anything that wasn't cheesey, burgery, chocolately, icecream, taco, popcorn or general junk was a challenge. Thank God for a "French cafe" which sold baguettes with my favourite mozarella, tomato and pesto.  Language failed at the cash register. We do both speak English don't we? The ear is not attuned yet and the girl may as well have been mumbling in Kurdish. 

Buy Disney memorabilia...of course and yes, I picked up a couple of little things for my Disney mad smallest nephew and neice's birthdays but  I have a confession to make. I have never been a big Disney fan. Yes, I’m a heretic but Mickey Mouse just didn’t do it for me! That said I would NEVER have missed an episode of the Wonderful World of Disney at 6.00pm on a Sunday (in glorious black and white), but it was always on the off chance it was an “Adventure Land” episode - preferably with a historical bent and a dashing hero like THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH or, my first love, the FIGHTING PRINCE OF DONEGAL.  Forget "Cars"...they just don't make good swashbuckling dramas like this any more.

The Fighting Prince of Donegal

Dr. Syn - the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh and his henchpersons

In 1997 we brought our boys (then aged 12 and 9) to Disneyland. It was January and the queues were short (and quite a few of the rides closed for maintenance). We did everything we wanted to do in a day. My memory may be failing me but Disneyland today seems so much bigger. Maybe it had to do a major upgrade to keep up with its grander cousin in Orlando? Still, I remember being able to see the magic castle from the car park. 

And, yes, I did have fun with the boys in 1997 but I have no burning desire to battle the summer crowds to see Disneyland again so it was a long, warm, walk back to the hotel for a quiet afternoon and a catch up with Aussie mates this evening.

The conference proper starts on Wednesday and I will be blogging daily, so join me this week as Ms. Stuart requests the pleasure of your company to join her at the Romance Writers of America Conference.