Behind the Mask – My First Visit to Nashville

I love book signing events, I really do. Not just for the opportunity to meet other authors and readers that I would have otherwise never met before, but because it’s an excuse for me to pack up the car and get away for the weekend with my hubby. For my first event of 2018, we went to Nashville Tennessee.

20180223_093338The morning didn’t get off to a fantastic start. I woke up late and Jared and I snapped at one another while trying to get the luggage loaded into the back seat. We apologized later after we both snagged a cup of coffee from a local café and were on the road headed north. Half of the drive, we listened to Irish/Celtic folksongs (because I’m writing a historical novel set in Ireland) and the other half was spent enjoying an audiobook of Sense and Sensibility. I’m so lucky to have found a husband that enjoys the classics as much as I do.

Traffic was not amusing. We came into the Nashville area right in the middle of rush hour and needless to say, my nerves were shot by the time we got to the hotel. After an hour of deliberating over dinner, we decided to go out and celebrate the completion of one of my novellas, The Native (which will be available for preorder shortly). When Jared saw there was a sushi place in the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center where the book signing event would be held, the choice over where to eat was easily made.

The hotel is phenomenal! If you ever have the extra cash, I highly recommend staying there. This place is like a mall that you can sleep in. With numerous retail stores and restaurants to choose from, as well as some spectacular gardens, there’s plenty to do when you’re not out on the town.

 

We took sometime walking around the resort to scout out our best path to get from the parking lot to the ballroom where we would be set up the following day, but after that, we went and had some fun in the other part of the resort. Dinner at Wasabi was excellent, though the quality of the food was comparable to our hometown sushi joint that a few of our friends work at. The experience of the restaurant was well worth it. We were seat right by one of the ponds with spitting fountains and koi fish. It was dark at the time, but we got to see the koi the next day. They are huge! 

After dinner, we took a walk through the garden conservatory and got lost down the many little paths. Waterfalls, gazebos, fountains, and gorgeous foliage of all kinds, made us forget we were in a hotel at all. There are no words to describe how romantic and tranquil it truly was. All the frustrations from earlier that day were forgotten and it was a lovely way to start fresh.

The next day, we arrived at the hotel in good time, but just barely. The trek from the parking lot to the ballroom wasn’t as expected. We came across a few extra obstacles like escalators and 3-4 steps that were pretty difficult to traverse with a hand truck loaded down with books and table settings. By the time we got to the room, I was dripping with sweat. I hadn’t done any Zumba the previous week, so that was my workout. Not to mention, I was expecting cooler weather so I wore a neat scarf that I got for Christmas. Bad decision. I was extremely warm and couldn’t do much about it because the scarf was part of my outfit. It was a good thing my makeup held up well. All I had to do was blot off the sweat and I was new again.

After a quick photo session with the photographer, I got to finally meet one of my narrators! For those following my adventures with Audible, you may have heard me drop the name of Katherine Billings. Because she lives so close to Tennessee, she was able to come and sit with me at my table for the day. For once, she got to listen to me talk! She is such an amazing woman and talented voice actress and I was so lucky to have found her for my Loup-Garou Series.

The signing event went extremely well, despite the rocky start to the morning. I made connections with some authors and even got to meet some fans of mine that showed up for the signing!

After the signing, Jared and I packed up and found a MUCH better route through the hotel to get back to our car. Luckily, we dropped off a good portion of our merchandise so the lugging back to the car wasn’t so hard.

20180224_183101Now, this event wasn’t over. There was a masquerade ball at the resort later that evening and we had purchased tickets to go, along with Katherine and her husband. Let me tell you the time I had with this. The dress I planned to wear was a bridesmaids dress from about three or four years ago. I thought it still fit. I didn’t think I had grown that much. I should have tried on the dress before we ever left Florida… Well, the dress didn’t fit. We couldn’t get it to zip up and I didn’t bring a backup outfit to wear. This was supposed to be a formal deal and Jared brought his wedding tux to wear. The only options I could come up with were that I’d come in jeans and a nice blouse, or we don’t go at all. Jared, the ever optimistic, said we could find a skirt at one of the shops in the resort. If you have never seen me in person, I’ll let you know I have a unique shape. Trim 20180224_224101waist, sway bag, lots of junk in the trunk. It makes shopping for clothes both interesting and frustrating. I told him the likelihood of finding something I could fit into was unlikely, but we went anyway.

Y’all, we did find a skirt and it was stunning! The only one left from a country-western clothing store where we nabbed up some cufflinks for Jared, it fit beautifully and matched both my blouse and my skirt! I was SHOCKED! And it was on clearance! Way more expensive than I normally go for, but it was too perfect and we needed to get to the party.

I still felt underdressed, but dancing with my husband like we did when we were in high school was well worth the embarrassment. We did the waltz a few times and the salsa once. I even got the chance to join in on a couple of line dances! Although I wished I could have danced more, I still had a great time. Funny enough, one of the line dances, the one for Copperhead Road, was completely new to me, but because I had done research for this cowboy romance I was writing, I knew the steps. I joined in and didn’t have any trouble. It was a satisfying feeling that my tendency to over-research things finally paid off.

I got a nasty blister at the end of the evening from dancing in my heels all night, but I got so many compliments. One lady came up and said that every girl deserved a man that looks at her the way my husband looks at me. I really hit the jackpot.

The next morning, we had breakfast with Katherine and her husband, and spent about three hours talking at the Cascade Café in the resort. After we parted ways, Jared and I took one last look around the resort and left that part of Nashville.

Our trip wasn’t over yet. Because I’m a history nut, especially anything related to the Civil War, we took a quick detour to Belmont Mansion. Absolutely breathtaking architectural details and I really enjoyed hearing about the mansion’s entrepreneur mistress.

We drove all through the evening and night to get back home, listening to the final 20180224_165905chapters of Sense and Sensibility, and then diverting to some Edgar Allen Poe stories. I was glad to come home to my fur-babies and recoup from the weekend.

This month, we’ll be going to Biloxi Mississippi for another signing event, but thankfully we are close enough that we can drive there and not need to get a hotel. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Nashville, but I can assure you that I won’t go back during rush hour traffic.

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About Sheritta Bitikofer

Sheritta Bitikofer is an author of eclectic tastes. When she's not writing her next paranormal or urban fantasy novel, she can be found volunteering at her local animal shelter, shooting archery at a medieval reenactment event, doing Zumba, watching a historical documentary, or having coffee with her husband at their favorite café. A wife and fur-mama to two rescue dogs, she makes time to write engaging and moving stories about shifters, vampires, and magic that enthrall readers from cover to cover.
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