Hello! I'm back!
After I met Kari Lynn Dell and Janet Reid in New York, we jetted away to a secret destination populated by romance cover models. Here they receive their extensive training, which includes such necessary courses as "Don't Wane--Wax!" and "Geometry for the Visually Inclined: Displaying Your Pectorals to Your Advantage." My favorite is "Winning By Losing: Accepting The Fact That Your Face Will Never Be On The Cover."
Janet is a super-powerful agent so the fellas fawn over her, which worked out pretty well for the rest of us. We told them Kari writes about cowboys, and suddenly all our drink servers appeared in hats and crisp jeans. I mentioned my hero is a sheriff, so several of the younger models invited me to inspect their guns. I guess they had them holstered in their rooms, because not a one of them was wearing a shirt. It is pretty warm down there in Coverland. And quiet. Because the models have been asked to internalize their characters, there wasn't a lot of chit-chat. Mostly they walked around looking steely and determined, or soulful and damaged. Occasionally, they would stop and gaze deeply into our eyes to divine whether we wanted a massage or another mai-tai. The ones that guessed wrong were usually going through their "black moment" training, which clouded their judgment. I didn't blame them. I have five guys at home who still haven't figured out that the way to their happiness is to give me what I want, and they've all known me a lot longer than two days.
All good things must come to an end though, so Kari, Janet, and I said our good-byes to Jax, Dex, Rex, Cal, Mal, and Blaze. They lined up along the runway and we pressed our cheeks to their smooth, rippled chests as they stared stoically at the horizon. We held their hands as we walked away, our fingertips straining to maintain the connection until the last possible moment. But we knew it couldn't last, so we boarded our aircraft and headed home.
As Kari and Janet finished their edits, I got to meet some of the fun people from FinePrint Literary Management. We noshed, they drank pretty pastel drinks, and I indulged in fancy sparkling water. We toasted to Kari's imminent success, because we know her name will be on all the bestseller lists. I met her friend Patty Blount, whose first novel, SEND, will be released this August. Every writer I've met so far has been encouraging and supportive, and Kari and Patty were no exception. It was a lovely, fantastical experience spending time with them, especially when I found out Coverland exists outside time. My entire visit only took six hours, so I was still able to catch the 9:51 train for New Jersey!
I was a little disoriented from traveling between the dimensions, but it was so glorious while I was there I forgot all about the searing pain of my sprained foot. On my way to New York, I stepped onto an uneven curb at my train station, lost my balance and rolled my foot. I fell to the ground, gasping in pain, and watched as my train chugged away. I pulled myself up rather than ruin my pants on the rain-dampened cement and hopped to my van. I cursed and cried for a minute before deciding I was not going to miss my only opportunity to meet Kari and, by extension, Janet.
I drove to CVS, bought a five dollar first aid kit and boarded the next train with an instant cold pack and ibuprofen. I iced my poor foot the whole way, dragged myself to the restaurant, and hobbled back to Penn Station after getting Kari settled in her hotel. By the time I got off the train at home the pain was excruciating. Nothing is broken, but I pulled all the muscles, and there's a wicked bruise that's spread like an oil slick from my toes to my ankle.
I wanted to check in with you sooner, but my mother and I have been engaged in a Stubborn-Off as she follows me around, harassing me to sit down and ice my foot. Then she wanders away to do my jobs, coughing from over-exertion, until I yell at her to sit down. If this keeps up they're going to find us wrestled to the couch and locked in a death embrace like that fossilized velociraptor and protoceratops. It took me three days to finally sneak away long enough to flaunt my bruises.
And you know what? Coverland was worth the pain.