Ramblings of a Romance Writer

Roaming the Oregon Trail, one Love Bug at a time

In May 2014, I had decided to self-publish. Not even a month later, I was planning my signing tour for 2015. I hadn’t even published a book and I was ready to go. Ambitious? Indeed. The first four were in what I call my “comfort zone,” meaning they were all within driving distance. But as I looked back now with all that pre-planning, I know now that I was giving something to myself. As many of y’all know, a few days after I published Watching Fireflies, I landed in the hospital for a month. During that month stay in the hospital, I won’t lie. There was a bit of worry. My pancreas was literally eating me alive (shockingly enough, my liver was solid). After three surgeries, I was more excited than ever to live the life I was given. So, second chance on life meant that Jaycee stepped out of her comfort zone. Stepping out of my comfort zone means …

PORTLAND!

It was like my subconscious knew my future and said, “You’re gonna do this, Jaycee. You’re gonna go north and you’re gonna go west. And you’re gonna do this all by yourself!”

So three books and three surgeries later, I found myself on a plane.

IMG_3417BUT WHY STOP THERE!

I bypassed Portland. I mean, this was the Northwest. I’ve been north. I’ve been west. But I’ve never been Northwest. This was a totally new direction on the compass for me. So, first stop …

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

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I get off the plane after a long flight with a little layover in Oakland, California (which was SUPER dry; I like my humidity), and I’m so proud of myself. I’m in a new city all by myself. And then I realized that I wasn’t actually in Seattle. I had to take a little train. Trains are cool. I handled that like a pro. I figured I’d get a cab when I got off the train. *shakes head* There were no cab stands … just a plain ole Seattle street … at night … all by myself. Thankfully, I did get a number for a cab. And calling a Seattle cab from a phone was much like calling a New Orleans cab from a phone.

No one ever answers the phone.

A few months prior to Seattle, I was taught the ways of Uber by my bestie Alex Rosa while we toured Dallas, Texas along with Len Webster at the RT Booklovers Convention. Did Seattle have Uber? Of course, they did!

That was a long ass day. I explored just a little bit that night after checking into my hotel. I went to a bar which had a bartender named Tom. (How fitting!) And I had myself a beer and chatted with Tom a bit. But the craziest shit was next door to the bar. It was called a “Pot Shop.” We’re not talking about All-Clad. No non-stick frying pans here, my friends. Yep … you guessed it. We’re talking weed. Mind=BLOWN. I was good with my beer. Eyes wide open at a Pot Shop. Crazy shit, I say.

Seattle is the home of Starbucks. Because of this, I avoided Starbucks at all cost. The next morning, I found this adorable place called Bauhaus Books and Coffee … coffee AND books. No brainer. It was here, though, that my mind got blown a little more. Enter my dog Dixie saying, “I don’t think we’re in the south anymore.” Now, I understand the concept of unisex bathrooms. One door, one toilet. Seattle has a different type of definition. It’s a pick a door, any door situation. And, yes. Your stall neighbor is standing up to pee. Wide eyed again, I left the bathroom. I admit, I did not wash my hands, but I did have hand sanitizer. I’m not gross. To be clear, it’s a wonderful concept and the world should embrace this. It was just a little shock first thing in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

After my latte, I was ready to take on Seattle. One crosswalk at a time.

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I do love their crosswalks.

Uber came into play again and I found Pike Place. It was like the French Market in New Orleans but on steroids. I LOVED IT! I made one single purchase besides lunch:

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I could not resist for the most obvious reasons. *plug Hornet’s Nest here* The day continued on as I walked … and walked … and walked … Seattle has some hills, dude. I definitely got in my steps for the pedometer. I took a break in a bar called Montana and had my first Rainer beer. T’was good. I had another. It was happy hour. $2.00 beers. That’s another thing that’s mind blowing. They have some cheap beer up there. Ah-mazing. As the night crept on, I found myself underground. No, I didn’t get shanghai’d. I went on the Seattle Underground Tour. There was a day tour, but the one at night ended with a free drink. So, naturally (obviously). After my free drink, I went around the corner to what is known as the oldest bar in Seattle: The Central Saloon. I think the stool I sat on pre-dated the 1892 establishment date. But yes, I had another Rainier. I’m a creature of habit.

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Uber got me back to the bar next door to the Pot Shop, and you guessed it! I had another Rainier and chit chatted with Tom, who was from London. He looked kind of stately. There was one thing I wasn’t used to, being a NOLA girl. Bars close at 2:00. Alas, I did have a train to catch. It was time to go to PORTLAND! I mean, I was on this trip for working purposes. Haha.

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I hopped on an Amtrak with the plan to do some plotting. After all the beer the night before, I just enjoyed the sights passing me by (and maybe a little nap).

I checked into the Crowne Plaza for the Passion in Portland Author Event and got busy setting up for the signing. After some food, I found a bar named Dixie Tavern … not quite the Dixie’s Tavern from the Love Bug Series, but close enough. I didn’t stay out too long. I had a signing to do.

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I’m in there in the middle somewhere. Take a moment and play “Where’s Jaycee?”

I met so many fabulous writers. Genuinely good people. This signing would be epic, but I didn’t know just how epic it would be.

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My table was ready to go. And then they let the VIPs in. By the end of that pre-public time. I only had five copies left of Watching Fireflies because I brought more of the first book. Thirty minutes later, I was out. Completely sold out. Even sold out of the mason jars. I underestimated Portland’s mad love for cowboys … and mason jars. In the middle of throwing koozies at people. I had a buddy stop by.

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Just my editor, Josh. You never know what country or state he’s gonna be in, but I was so glad to see him. After hanging out with Josh at my table and throwing more koozies at people, I celebrated my sellout with a beer at the hotel bar and then got ready for the after party. Models, Karaoke, and possibly a little Baby Got Back (but I’ll never tell).

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After a little backup dancing, my editor hijacked me and he showed me some of Portland’s nightlife.

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I know that Voodoo Doughnuts was right there. But it was beer time. I still had plenty of time left, but there’s never enough time in Portland. The last part of my stay, I rented a room in someone’s basement near the Alberta Arts District. First Airbnb experience was a good one. After I dropped off my bags, I took a stroll for some food and ended up at the McMenamins-Kennedy School which was an old school building that got reclaimed and turned into a hotel, pubs, movie theatre … it had a little of everything.

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It was my last full day in Portland and there were two things that needed to be accomplished. The first was locate my mothership.

PowellsBookstore

 

Powell’s Books. It is a reader’s Mecca. I roamed around that store for hours. I finally let loose and let myself buy some stuff.

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The last thing I needed to do was to experience Voodoo Doughnut. But I could not do this alone. This was an epic moment. One of the last words written at the end of Watching Fireflies was an acknowledgement to my editor.

To Josh Vitalie … I think I owe you a donut.

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Mission accomplished.

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The sad day came where I had to go back home. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a NOLA girl until my dying day, but Portland is a little piece of amazing. And while writing this post, I was officially invited to the 2016 signing. So, I am happy to say, Portland, keep a beer chilled for me. I’m coming back!

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And while I have your attention, Mosquito Chase comes out on November 25th. Pre-orders exclusively available through iBooks. All other outlets will be available in October.

So, Portland, with your beer, beards, and books, Keep on Buzzin’! ♥

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