Some Fun in Seattle

When Eloisa James told me she’d be in Seattle in January for a few days, and invited me to join her there, I immediately set about rearranging my schedule. And since I’m retired, that required almost no work at all. I’ve only been with her twice, once at an RWA conference and when I stayed with her in Paris in 2010. So.

I caught an Amtrak train at an ungodly early hour–my car was full of young women curled up on the seats, and fast asleep. It was like being in a dorm, dark and quiet, and very nice. I had borrowed my dh’s new MP-3 player, and was tuned in to Il Divo while I watched the soggy gray landscape outside the window.

I arrived around noon on January 7 in cold, cloudy, Seattle, and noticed from my hotel room that I had a wonderful view of the Space Needle. That became my afternoon project. Despite my acrophobia, I ventured on the elevator to the top level, and found the viewing gallery and restaurant very comfortable. Everything was so well enclosed that I couldn’t possibly jump. The view was interesting but not fabulous–see above mention of clouds. And there were  skyscrapers not that far away that were considerably taller than my viewpoint. The Space Needle will be 50 this year, and it’s been well-maintained, but a lot of the area surrounding it needs or is involved in urban renewal projects. But the views of the water were wonderful–soothing and serene.

My evening’s treat was shopping and dinner with one of my authors, Stefanie Sloane, who lives in Seattle. I had requested her to scout out a store where I could purchase some of my beloved Mariage Freres teas, and, voila! she took me to Watson Kennedy in the Pike Street Market. The store was filled with foods, toiletries, and other wonderful gift items, lots of them French. As I was paying for several tins of tea, I remarked that Mariage Freres also sold teabags. The guy at the counter said the teabags were at their OTHER store, and gave Stef directions. So we trooped there, and I bought even more tea. Stef led me through several of the most interesting stores in the market. Wow. If I lived in downtown Seattle, it would be a wonderful place to spend time and money. Even this late in the afternoon, hoards of shoppers were still clogging all the stalls. We finally ended up at Cafe Campagne, and had a lovely dinner. We both ordered the same items–a complicated salad and a tart/pizza-like starter, though we did get different desserts. Stef is one of my favorite people to talk to, and we had much catching up to do in the year since we’ve seen each other. Also, she’s a friend of Julia Quinn, and volunteered to ask Julia if she could drive me to the brunch on Sunday, so I didn’t have to wrestle with public transportation to get to Bellevue. And yes, she came through.

Very early Sunday morning, I looked out my window, and there was a fabulous view–the Space Needle, lit up, elegant and graceful, and right next to it, a huge full moon. Then some clouds drifted by, and the view became even more intriguing. My little point-and-shoot camera couldn’t begin to capture this magical scene, but it was definitely a highlight of the trip.

space needle and full moon

So Sunday morning (yes, I cheated and had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel first) I climbed into Julia’s car, found Eloisa already there, and off we went to Via Vita. More treats awaited us there. Connie Brockway was there, and Christina Dodd, and Lisa Kleypas. Wow. Lotsa heavy hitters in the romance world. I had met Julie briefly, years ago, and worked a bit with Connie, also years ago, but had never met Christina and Lisa. Our hostess, Flora, was there with her son and husband, and a fabulous time was had by all. These are some very delightful, interesting, funny women and I had a wonderful time.  I told Connie about my rescue kittens, talked to the host about artichokes, and explained to Christina how I found my name, Franzeca. And the food was great, too. Much appreciation for the potatoes fried in duck fat.

After brunch, we trooped, well, drove, but half the party became hopelessly lost and arrived via Idaho, methinks, to the University of Washington Bookstore in Bellevue. As a Eugene Duck, I was slightly uneasy surrounded by all the purple Husky gear, but the bookstore staff were welcoming and competent. Folks had already started to arrive before us, and soon there was an appreciative, happy crowd of readers that asked questions, shared laughs, and expressed their enjoyment of these authors and their books. After an hour of Q&A, the book signing began. I, always a bureaucrat, found a job helping Christina’s assistant fill out the tickets for the drawing. It was all so successful that they ran out of books. One sad attendee, driving all the way from Montana, had the wrong time, and arrived at 3:30 for what she thought was a 4 pm. event (actually, that’s when it ended.) The authors fussed over her, and found some extra books for her to take home. whew. Being famous is exhausting. Even being close to someone famous is tiring, and after Christina kindly drove me back to my hotel, I spent the evening watching “The Good Wife” and went to bed. Early.

The next morning was my breakfast date with Eloisa. I arrived at her hotel, bearing a box of her favorite teabags, and over fancy egg dishes we caught up with personal news, future adventures, and The Ugly Duchess, her WIP that I’m having so much fun with right now. Connie joined us, for breakfast and talk, and it was great to reconnect with both of them. Just as we finished breakfast and were heading out to the lobby, Julia Quinn showed up. So those three went upstairs to work on the second book of The Lady Most Likely and I walked down to the water, and back to my hotel, to prepare for my trip home and another lovefest with Il Divo on Amtrak.

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