#RWA2014 San Antonio, TX – What I did on my summer vacation

My trip to San Antonio, TX was hot (well over 100 degrees daily), interesting, amazing, exhausting, eye opening and unforgettable. I went from meetings with industry professionals at the conference at the Riverwalk, to culinary adventures in Market Square, to a video filming for Amazon Kindle Love Stories and Kindle Worlds, to absorbing local color at the Cowboy Dancehall.  I now know there are more cowboys and tortillas (for breakfast lunch and dinner) in the state of Texas than anywhere else, that Prickly Pears are purple and that you can indeed have bull riding, dancing and live music all simultaneously under one roof. All in all, there were many things learned, new friends made, and old ones revisited and it was well worth the trip from NY and the time spent away from the WiP. Below are a few highlights in pictures.

The River Walk San Antonio TX

The River Walk San Antonio TX

Prickly Pear Margarita at the Kensington Dinner

Prickly Pear Margarita, Kensington Dinner, La Margarita

Bella Andre & Cat Johnson Kindle Worlds Video Shoot

Bella Andre & Cat Johnson Kindle Worlds Video Shoot

Cat Johnson Kindle Love Stories Interview

Cat Johnson Kindle Love Stories Interview

Cat Johnson at the Alamo San Antonio TX

Cat Johnson at the Alamo San Antonio TX

The Alamo

The Alamo

Cowboy Dance Hall PBR Bull Riding

Cowboy Dance Hall PBR Bull Riding

PBR Touring Pro San Antonio

PBR Touring Pro San Antonio

Live Music Cowboy Dance Hall SanAntonio

Live Band, Cowboy Dance Hall, San Antonio, TX

Meet me in Las Vegas this week! And a Rafflecopter Contest!

 

Rider Relief FuncTomorrow, at the crack of dawn, I head to Las Vegas, Nevada for the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Finals. My schedule is packed, but I’m taking two bathing suits and hoping to leave this chilly 30 degree New York weather and lounge by the pool at the Luxor for at least a few hours on Wednesday or Thursday. Of course there’s bull riding events–for the cowboys, not for me– daily Wednesday through Sunday.Then there’s the Rider Relief Fund luncheon (tickets required) on Friday, my appearance at the Rider Relief Fund booth in the Fan Zone at Mandalay Bay from 11-2 Saturday and a book signing at Barnes and Noble right after the competition on Sunday. Monday crack of dawn, tired but happy I’m sure, I’ll head back to New York.

banner pbr finals

If you’re in Vegas and around any of those locations, please stop by and say hello. I’d love to meet you. If by chance when you see me I happen to have a drink in one hand and a cowboy in the other just remember what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!  😉

FIND MORE DETAILS ON MY EVENTS PAGE

NEW RELEASE CONTEST RAFFLECOPTER !!!

And while I’m away having fun, I’m not about to leave you hanging so some of my fellow authors and I who all have releases on the 29th are having a Rafflecopter giveaway (click the embedded link to enter). Celebrate releases by Mari Carr, Kelly Jamieson and me all hitting Oct 29th with the rafflecopter contest (running now) and daily blog posts on all three of our blogs (starting Oct 27th).

Are You Ready for NEW ORLEANS?

Think Bachelor Party (1984 Tom Hanks, Tawny Kitaen) meets Bridesmaids (2011 Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph) with a bit of The Hangover (2009 Bradley Cooper) and a whole lot of sex thrown in. That’s NEW ORLEANS, my new short story release. I wrote it to celebrate my first visit to The Big Easy–my fellow authors and I will be invading the French Quarter this August. Bourbon Street may never be the same, especially after my night as guest author at the Bourbon Cowboy for the Authors After Dark Pub Crawl.

So, being so creative, I set the story right there in NOLA. Being extra creative, I had the four girls get into a whole lot of trouble in a very short amount of time, which hopefully will not happen to me in August. There’s a bachelor party and a hot set of twin brothers, a real stripper, a fake stripper, an entire bridal party and their friends, and free flowing Hurricane cocktails. All the makings for a hot romp I hope my readers find entertaining. So check it out and maybe I’ll see you in NOLA in August. Bring bail money. And remember, in New Orleans anything can happen…and it usually does.

NEW ORLEANS by Cat Johnson

When I agreed to be my best friend’s maid of honor, I thought it would be fun. Maybe I’d even meet a nice, single guy at the reception. But now the bride is missing, I have the hang over from hell and it seems I may have accidentally had sex with the groom last night while pretending to be a stripper to spy on him at his bachelor party… Or maybe I didn’t.

It’s hard to tell since I can’t remember much past drinking that last Hurricane on Bourbon Street. There’s also this matter of the groom’s identical twin brother and the fact they have a habit of switching places.

I do know one thing, nothing is what it seems in New Orleans. Anything can happen…and it usually does.

EXCERPT

I made the supreme sacrifice and lifted my head to try and see the rest of the room. After all, I was the maid of honor. I suppose checking to see if I’d lost the bride was the least I could do.

There was a lump under the covers in the other bed. Unless I’d picked up a stranger and brought him or her home, at least one member of our party was accounted for.

“Beth?” Wishful thinking on my part, but I croaked the possibly missing bride’s name as loudly as my pounding head and scratchy throat would allow, hoping the lump would respond.

“Ugh. Holy hell, I feel like crap. Did I get run over by a truck last night?” Marci’s muffled voice preceded the arm that snaked its way out from beneath the covers.

“I have no idea. Where are Jen and Beth?” I braced myself on one elbow and tried not to sway since the room seemed to be doing enough moving on its own.

“I don’t know.” Marci lifted the covers and peered under them. “Christ, my feet are sore.”

Come to think of it, I was pretty achy too, but it wasn’t my feet that were sore. It was a much more intimate area—one that hadn’t been used in quite a while. Not since I’d had my last steady boyfriend. Uh, oh.

“You guys okay?”

I heard the disembodied voice come from the vicinity of the bathroom. “Jen?”

“Yeah. I seem to have slept on the bathroom floor. But judging by what’s in the toilet, that was a good thing.” There was the sound of a flush, and then Jen stumbled out of the bathroom, holding on to the wall. “Hurricanes don’t look as good in the toilet the morning after.”

Phew, another one accounted for. Now all I needed was to hear Beth’s voice and I’d be the happiest hung over girl in the world. “Beth didn’t happen to be in the bathroom with you, did she?”

Jen frowned. “No. She’s not out here with you guys?”

Marci leaned over the edge of her bed and checked the floor. “Nope. Ugh, that was a bad move.” She pressed her hand to her head.

“I think we lost her.” I looked from Marci to Jen, starting to really panic now. “What do we do?”

“Call her family?” Jen suggested.

I let out a snort. “And tell them what? I got drunk and misplaced their daughter? That I possibly left her somewhere to get killed or kidnapped?”

“Jen or I could call. We just have to be a little sneaky about it.” Marci glanced from me to Jen. “One of us can call their house and pretend we’re not with the others and ask if Beth’s there. I mean she grew up in New Orleans. That’s why we all had to fly our asses here from all over the country for the wedding. Maybe she went home to her family’s house last night after we passed out.”

“Let’s try calling her cell phone first.” I didn’t think any one of us currently had the capacity to lie to Beth’s parents, forget about her Marine Corps fiancé.

“Good idea.” Jen, who was already standing, stumbled from the wall to the dresser where a purse sat next to the lamp. I recognized that purse. It was mine. That was good. One more piece of the puzzle found. When Jen pulled my phone out of it, my hopes rose a bit higher. She squinted at the readout, then hit a few buttons.

A vibrating in my pocket had me jumping. I may have been moving a little slowly but a feeling of dread descended upon me the moment Jen’s call to Beth’s phone made my ass vibrate.

“Crap.” I reached beneath me and pulled out a cell phone. “Why do I have Beth’s phone?”

“Wait, I remember that.” Marci held up a hand.

“Me too!” Jen nodded, then pressed her hand to her head and groaned.

Thank God. At least they could remember something. “What do you remember?”

“Beth was drunk and pissed at John for lying about having a stripper at his bachelor party. So you took Beth’s phone so she wouldn’t call her ex-boyfriend in retaliation.” Marci’s words started slowly but sped as the pieces started to fall into place.

I nodded. That did sound like something I would do. “Okay. That makes sense.”

“Wait. I remember more.” Jen squinted, as if it would wring the memories out of her alcohol soaked brain. Her gaze swung to me.

“So do I.” Marci stared at me now too.

I started to get a little worried. “What?”

“You don’t remember?” Marci asked.

“No.” Crap. I looked at Marci. “Why don’t you just tell me?”

Jen answered for them both. “Since you’re the only one John has never met, we sent you into his bachelor party as a spy dressed as a stripper.”

Uh, oh. This was starting to sound familiar to me, but in a detached kind of way. Kind of like it was the plot of a movie I’d watched only I couldn’t remember the ending. I glanced up and found them both watching me, wide-eyed. I glanced down at myself and noticed for the first time that though I was in my own pants, there was a corset making my boobs look two cup sizes larger. It was definitely stripper-worthy.

I noticed an uncomfortable presence between my ass cheeks and wiggled a bit. Reaching down I confirmed my suspicions. I was wearing a thong. I didn’t own a thong. And definitely not a red lace thong that matched the corset, which was the discovery I made when I peeked down the front of my jeans.

“Rose, what happened at the bachelor party?” Jen asked.

Memories swirled like a kaleidoscope. Music. A party. A man’s hands on my body. I didn’t have a chance to piece it all together before a knock on the door broke my concentration.

“Maybe it’s Beth.” I glanced at Jen and Marci.

Jen moved to open the door. When she backed into the room, a man I was pretty sure I knew though I couldn’t be sure followed her inside.

“It’s John,” Marci mouthed to me.

John. The groom. Probably looking for his missing bride because as the door slammed closed behind him it was pretty clear he’d come alone. Beth wasn’t with him.

His gaze found me. Self-consciously I tugged the top of the corset higher, but my boobs only popped up more so I decided to cut my losses and let my hands drop.

“Rose. Thank God, you’re awake.” He came directly to my bed and sat on the edge. Concern was written all over his face as he took my hand in his. “Are you all right?”

I managed a nod, but that was about it.

“I was so worried about you last night.” He cupped my chin as he leaned in and pressed his lips to mine.

I pulled back to find the room silent. Jen and Marci looked about as shocked as I was.

“Um, all right. What the hell happened last night?” Marci finally asked.

Since the groom was kissing me the day before his wedding while the bride was missing, I figured that was as good a question as any. And I certainly didn’t have the answer.

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The RT Booklovers Convention (#RT11) in Pictures

 

TUESDAY NIGHT~WE ARRIVE

1 of the 3 living areas in our suite on the 32nd floor at the Westin Bonaventure for RT

WEDNESDAY~LET THE FUN BEGIN!

Some wonderful Aussie booklovers brought me treats all the way from their homeland!

Me & my swag at the Western Reader Round-up Wed afternoon

Ellora's Cave threw a fab Bollywood party with a hired Indian dance troop performing a stage show, authentic decor, henna tattoo artists, great 80s dance music & of course the usual EC enticing swag including the cover model playing cards & calendar

THURSDAY~Panels, Parties & the Faery Ball

The Digital Trends Panel Thursday

The MLR Suite Party

More from the MLR Suite Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader & Costume Guru Carol Brown, Author Eliza Gayle & Me at the Venetian Faery Ball

FRIDAY~ Passed in a whirlwind with my Club RT time,  the eBook signing, the ARe Cafe Suite Party & Heather Graham’s Vampire Ball, none of which I got pictures of. (I hang my head in shame)

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SATURDAY~ The big book signing & Mr. Romance Contest

The Big Book Signing. I sat next to Sabrina Jeffries

Lots of abs as 9 contestants vied for the Mr. Romance 2011 title

 

SUNDAY~ the long journey from CA to NY

Finally home in NY w/ a carry-on bag full of books and swag collected at RT

My PBR Weekend Round-up & More

Sunday was the third and final day of my PBR weekend in Uncasville, CT. The day started earlier than Friday and Saturday, but it was no less eventful. I arrived at the Rider Relief Fund booth at noon to help sell raffle tickets and brought with me the items I’m donating to be auctioned off in Vegas to help raise money to aid injured bull riders. It was pretty much the same items I donated to the Brenda Novak Juvenile Diabetes Auction, and to the Authors After Dark auction to help the animal shelter–basically a custom printed “I Heart Cowboys” canvas tote bag, a “Let’s Buck” baseball hat, bumper sticker, fridge magnet, journal and pen, a cowboy boot charm bookmark, a Cowboy Corn Salad Recipe Card, and a signed print copy of Unridden (Studs in Spurs, Book 1).

I told the women running the auction how romance readers usually take the canvas bag and get it signed by their favorite authors, and how it would probably go for a lot more if some of the riders signed it. She took the whole thing downstairs to some mysterious PBR room and the next thing I know, she’s back telling me that Flint, one of the bull fighters who doubles as an entertainer/announcer, is reading passages from Unridden aloud to everyone in the room, and someone else wants to buy a copy. Sooo long story short, I had my box of author copies in the car and ended up selling 5, which is about what I sell at a good book signing at a Borders or Barnes and Noble after it’s been planned in advance and advertised. Though I can only imagine what Flint was reading aloud–I’m just gonna go ahead and assume it was the dirty parts because men have the uncanny ability to be able to flip immediately to those–I am a little concerned about what the people listening were thinking. There is also the concern that I wrote that book probably 2 years ago, when I was still learning about the sport and there is a good chance the pros will find inconsistencies in it, either things I changed because I needed to for my plot line, or things I just plain messed up. But so it goes in writing. Nothing I can do about it now. In the meantime I hope they keep in mind I write to entertain readers but a side benefit is that it exposes romance readers to the sport. If one more person discovers the sport and becomes a bull riding fan because of reading my book, it can only be a win-win for everyone.

bull rider autographs

So after the eventful prelude to my afternoon, the bull riding championship round did not disappoint either. From having one rider hanging on the fence right in front of us to avoid the bull, to watching the heart-stopping moment another was knocked out cold and had the paramedics scrambling until he hopped up and walked out under his own power, it did not disappoint. Our seats were once again one row back from the dirt and almost directly behind one of the judges.

THEN after it was all over, I got brave and stood along the rail with a few other fans and had the bull riders sign one of my baseball hats. Unlike the person next to me who felt they should critique each and every rider’s performance because apparently they know so much, I simply said thank you and was grateful to the ones that took the time to come out and meet us, which they are not required to do. And it was no hardship to get up close and personal with them. Yeah, they are all painfully young compared to me but phew…are they hot! Dirty jeans and all.

Then it was back home where I logged into my email and found the next big surprise–a fellow author saw my book in print on a shelf in Barnes & Noble. 2 copies! It doesn’t seem like much but it’s a huge deal for someone at my level to get unsolicited shelf space at a big chain bookstore. I’ve had 2 dreams in my career kind of come true so far. The first was that I wanted to walk through an airport and see someone reading my book and my Army consultant Sean saw that exact thing last year on his way from his garrison in Germany to leadership training at Fort Benning, GA. The second was to walk into a bookstore (one that I didn’t arrange a signing at and ask–or beg–the manager to order in my books) and see my books on a shelf and that is what my author friend Stephanie Julian found. Though both of these things have happened, the experiences have been second hand, but it is a step in the right direction and I couldn’t be happier!

Bulls, Sh*t and More!

So I’m here at Mohegan Sun Casino, where you walk past the slot machines and Blackjack tables and into an arena filled with sand, bulls and cowboys. Quite the surreal sight for Connecticut but tons of fun. Last night was the opening night event. My seat was just 2 away from the pens where they hold the bulls for the competition. This morning, sunny but brisk, I got to tour the bull housing area, actually one of the covered parking structures. Though the railings holding these beasts in looked a little tentative to me, no one made a break for it and I even got to scratch one on his nose (through the rails, I’m not crazy or stupid!).

My tour was given by stock manager Cody Lambert and stock contractor Chad Berger. I got to see some of the big name bulls. Above I believe is Big Tex, Slapdown and Little Yellow Jacket Jr., looking bored to see us. As opposed to some of their comrades who warily kept a very safe distance from the crowd tiptoeing through the manure-strewn aisle between the pens. Only one of the bulls pictured below (Myspace-the black one on the right) dared cross the invisible line drawn in the sand and let us pet him. The rest stood like statues for the entire tour.

After the tour we had lunch at Bubba’s BBQ. Fabulous and we sat next to some of biggest names in the PBR. I got brave and gave them my LET’S BUCK stickers. They looked at me like I had 3 heads so yeah, I feel like an idiot. Sigh…lesson learned.

Let's Buck

Anyway…tonight I volunteer again at the Rider’s Relief Fund booth on the concourse outside the arena. We are selling chances to win VIP Chute Seats to benefit this very worthy not for profit. Then later more bull riding. And tomorrow, we do it again for the final event here in Uncasville.

Is it time to buck yet? PBR Uncasville!

I’m back from the Authors After Dark Romance Convention and 2 days later, finally out from under the backlog of work that accumulated while I was off having fun. It was a hell of an event and I loved speaking on the panels, hanging with the readers and my fellow authors, making new friends, seeing old ones, and getting to know the book bloggers, booksellers, publishers–everyone!! Too much fun, too little sleep, but it was a great time.

Cat Johnson AAD 2010 Signing

Me and Eliza Gayle at the AAD signing

And now back to reality…as surreal as my personal reality is. I started this month with my live reading at Lady Jane’s Salon in New York City, I spent the middle of this month at AAD a stone’s throw from Newark, NJ, and I’ll end this month in bucolic Connecticut attending the PBR bull riding competition in the arena inside the Mohegan Sun Casino. Talk about surreal–try walking through the slot machines, past the 5-star restaurants, martini bars and high-priced stores, only to stumble through the doors of the indoor arena to find a dirt floor and pens packed full of live, very large bulls. Not to mention all those cowboys!

So that’s where I’ll be October 1, 2 and 3 (Friday through Sunday). If any of you happen to be attending this event, or even if you’re just local enough to drive to Mohegan Sun for the day, join me! I plan on planting myself near the arena entrance (probably at the bar!) before the doors open for each of the three events and I’ll have my promo with me–namely my LET’S BUCK stickers (modeled below by some of my Oklahoma fans). The word is these stickers are the hit of the Oklahoma rodeo scene and are being worn by the bull riders on their hats, helmets, vests and trucks… oh, and slings!

Let's Buck sticker on sling

Let's Buck sticker on Booty

So stop by Mohegan Sun, say hi to me, get a sticker for your car, or booty, or whatever. And you never know, I may even have copies of ROUGH STOCK and UNRIDDEN with me and could probably be persuaded to sell and sign one or two!