Regular Pink Heart Society columnist, Barb Han is talking about the excitement that was this year's RWA conference...
In recent years, I’ve become a bit of a white-knuckle flyer. It happened sometime after 9-11 and during the births of my three children. I try not to let that fact stop me from traveling and I was especially determined to attend Romance Writers of America’s big annual conference held this year in one of my all-time favorite cities, New York. My fabulous husband—you’ll see why in a second—decided to treat me to a first-class ticket so I could focus on being spoiled rather than on being afraid (see what I mean!). He watched airfare prices as though he was tracking a hot stock. When the price dipped—one spot for literally one day—to something we could afford, he snatched it up and booked my seat.
And that should’ve been the end of this story…
Fast forward to take-off. I took my seat (early because I got to skip all the lines and board first which did make me feel a little guilty and fancy at the same time) and settled into my oversized recliner at about the time a man came on board. He had a booming voice and was talking loudly on his cell as he stored his carry-on. He was in his late-fifties and had longer-than-is-socially-acceptable hair for a businessman.
And yet, he was talking important business on one of his four cell phones. His tone was casual—almost too much so—and I could tell he was the one in charge of the call. I secretly hoped that he wouldn’t sit next to me because he was loud, probably important and I didn’t think we’d have anything in common.
And that’s when the real fun began…
Turns out, he was a renegade millionaire (possibly billionaire—we didn’t talk exact numbers) banker. When he told me what he did for a living, I laughed. I’ve met a few bankers and they were some of the most conservatively dressed people I’d ever encountered (and a little stiff although very nice). He grinned and nodded at my reaction. Then he corrected his statement, he owns a bank because he admitted no traditional banker would ever get away with having almost shoulder-length wavy hair. Well, really it was a financial investment firm.
He asked about my profession and seemed genuinely interested and fascinated about the romance world. At one point, he handed me his Kindle and asked how he was doing on the reading front. I scrolled through the titles—mostly male thriller writers—and told him he was grossly underrepresented by women writers. I made suggestions. He laughed, nodded again and then asked if I’d brought one of my own books in my carry-on. I had, so he asked if he could have one and then had me sign it.
The slightly longer than three-hour flight breezed by while he gave me insider tips on where to eat and what to do while in New York City (he owns an apartment there and a home in Cleveland). He was full of great information!
I immediately canceled my helicopter tour after landing (New York City is the most congested air space in the world and helicopter tours are the quickest way tourists land in the Hudson River!), and faced the city armed with a list of fabulous restaurants and places to get the good deals (like a New Yorker!). I even rode the Subway (something I never thought I’d do!).
Even though my time with the renegade banker ended after the flight, my adventures in New York City had only begun. The rest of the conference (and my time in New York) was first class all the way from shopping at Tiffany’s (the third floor has reasonably-priced sterling silver necklaces, charms and bracelets) to being invited to a glamorous Harlequin VIP pre-party (I arrived in a limousine with RaeAnne Thayne, Debra Webb, B.J. Daniels, Julie Miller, Carol Ericson and Delores Fossen!) to the Black and White Ball at the Waldorf Astoria hosted by Harlequin.
And the best part of it all was coming home to the people I most adore (my husband and children!), sharing a bottle of wine with said husband (he wasn’t too jealous about the millionaire banker but I may not be traveling first-class without him again—LOL!), and reliving all those fairy-tale moments through pictures and fun stories.
Share your RWA stories with us and have you got any interesting flight stories? Join the discussion in the comments!
She was trouble the size of Texas, but he’d cross every line to keep her safe
Border patrol agent Reed Campbell knew when he found a blonde beauty hiding out in a crate of guns smuggled into Texas she’d be nothing but trouble. Emily Baker claims she was kidnapped, beaten and held hostage by Mexico’s most elusive drug lord, a man Reed’s desperate to bring down. But the sexy cowboy has been betrayed before, so trusting a stranger-no matter how strong their attraction-isn’t easy.
Still, determined to protect her, he takes her on the run, risking his life time after time. Suddenly, the man who doesn’t do feelings is in big trouble. Keeping Emily alive is a problem. Keeping his hands to himself becomes nearly impossible.