Jim Strauss, Conference co-organizer and writer, addresses the brunch crowd in the Rainbow Tower.

A brunch was held for participants at the Spellbinders’ Conference this morning. Co-organizer James Strauss was the keynote speaker and James is always good. Although I try to make it a rule to “be the change I want to see,” and the change I want to see is starting things no earlier than 10 a.m., after blogging till 1:30 a.m. I fell out of bed, did a very bad job of make-up and hair (naturally, some young photographer wanted to take my picture and the lens was literally less than foot from my nose, as I stared into the lens, bleary-eyed and hair in disarray. THAT one will be good—NOT!), and traveled down in the Tapa Tower elevator to join the others in the ballroom where our meals have been being served. Or so I thought.

Nobody was in the room, when I arrived there, and when I tried to take the elevator back to my 18th floor room to check on the location in the program (a) the elevators would take me neither up nor down (b) I remembered I HAD no program, since I lent it to Jon Land, who needed it more than I did and (c) 4 other lost people were trying to find the location of the brunch. Among them were Susan Crawford and Peter Miller, agents present to take pitches. And we also collected some other lost folks along the way.

While Susan made phone calls to various others, we tried to find the Rainbow Tower, where the hotel had apparently moved the brunch without notifying those of us trying to find it. As a result, several of us were very late, but the food was (as usual) good, and Jim Strauss, as always, gave an amusing and interesting talk to the assembled masses.

Authors Jacqueline Mitchard (“The Deep End of the Ocean”), Jon Land (the Caitlin Strong series) and Gary Braver (back to camera) listen to James Strauss’ speech.

Originally, some of the members of the group were to move on to Turtle Bay. I think that idea has been jettisoned in favor of staying on here at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, but what do I know? (Jim also told me that the entire cast of “Hawaii 5-0” was going to substitute for the MIA John Travolta and Garry Marshall, but I think this was his idea of a small joke. I don’t watch “Hawaii 5-0” and Scott Caan is too short for my Favorite Leading Man, so no big loss.)

Meanwhile, we’re checking out the cost to “rent” an umbrella on the beach. Yes, you heard me right. To rent one. They are not free to hotel guests. And the riff-raff from town are no longer allowed to congregate anywhere in front of the hotel–[-if they ever were.]

I love Hawaii and always have, but I can assure vacationers that, if you travel to Cancun and stay where we stay (the Royal Resorts properties), you won’t be charged extra to sit under one of the fixed “palapas” on the beach in front of the Royal Sands or the Royal Islander. I used to call Cancun “the poor man’s Hawaii,” but, of late, it has gotten pricier, as well. Still, charging $6.50 for ONE coke beats Australian prices (gas is cheaper than Illinois, however), and making guests pay for the use of an umbrella is a new twist on gouging the tourist trade, which would probably not cause the tourists to want to repeat the experience, if a similar beach could be experienced, with bluer water and cooler sand, for NO extra expense.


Casual shot of the group as the brunch broke up.

The food has been uniformly great. The presentations have been useful and enjoyable. As usual, I never hear anyone say, “Hey, we’re going to go hang out at ________ after this. Wanna’ come?” but that is probably because I’m a minnow in the literary pool. Still, it would have been nice to have been frequenting the bar where Shelley Berman showed up last night (he has a guest spot on “Hawaii 50,” they say), but why should this be any different than ThrillerFest or HWA or Love Is Murder or the Backspace Writers’ Conference or any other writing thing I have ever attended?  I go. I pay my money. I am pleasant to one and all. I attend the functions. I end up in  my room  watchong TV, because I think you have to reach a certain level of income or popularity or thinness or attractiveness or something-ness to ever be allowed into the “Inner Circle” that gads about. Just the way it is. Unlikely I’ll ever reach that stratosphere. But at least the husband and I are here together, which gives me ONE person who doesn’t blow me off repeatedly and take off with a large group to go socialize and have fun at the “in” places I am not aware of.



Two more days of fun in the sun.

No idea what the deal is with this guy. He is either starting his own religious sect, stretching before or after exercising, mourning the recent death of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon or planting something. He was in that position for a LONG time, though, folks, and it looked extremely uncomfortable.

Hilton Hawaiian Village grounds.

View from the Rainbow Room brunch.

Jim Strauss, the ubiquitous Nadia (not Comanece), Tony and Tori Eldridge (“Lone Tree Productions), after the Spellbinders’ Brunch.