Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Gettin' Real

Today John and I test drove yet another rental car in our quest for a book tour Mode of Transportation. As you all know I had my heart set on an RV for this trip, but for reasons too boring to list, that proved impossible. So instead we're making the best of it, asking the publisher to set us up in our favorite hotel chain, Hyatt Place (which, interestingly enough, is mega-tons cheaper than most of the hotels they put us in last time) and seeking out the safest, comfiest, and yet not TOO massively huge vehicle to tote all our stuff around for five weeks.

The first car was a big SUV with fancy displays and heated seats:

This channel only plays Rear Window! Bo-ring.

But it just wasn't comfortable. It was so big inside I felt like I was riding in a bouncy high chair.

If you follow me on Twitter you know about my mobile Disco party in the next car we tried; it had neon lights inside that changed color:


That car was too small, though, since we'll be lugging around a whole sound system, prizes, and all our luggage in the thing.

Fortunately the third try was the charm; John found an SUV that rides low like a car, called the Ford Flex. It's big, but it doesn't feel massive; I can reach the armrests and everything!

Bringing our own sound system is a last-minute decision, btw, and while it sounds insane for the author to show up with a trunk full of speakers, it should prove far less stressful in the long run. For our previous tours John had to scramble in each store to make everything work, and we frequently showed up to find there was only a single microphone, or the feedback was horrendous, or the system wouldn't work with our laptop without jumping through a lot of technical hoops. (Or, as those of you in Dallas may recall, sometimes the system didn't work at all.)

This is happening in our living room right now. Only with John doing bad karaoke versions of Michael Bublé songs. It's very distracting.

As an added bonus, with this sound system we can also include audio with our photo slideshow, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and we're having a blast putting together some fun new video content for the show. (Let's just say it's getting closer to an actual Rave Party all the time.) I just wish we'd had this option for the first tours!

On a personal note, I'm bouncing between white-knuckled terror and giddy anticipation for this final run. Since I tend towards "control-freak worry-wart," the terror usually trumps the giddiness, but I have John to balance me out. John can't WAIT. He absolutely loves being on tour, which makes me wonder if that stint in the Dallas ICU didn't cause a little brain damage. "It'll be a great adventure," he tells me, "We'll be traveling the country together!" he says, "I probably won't almost-die!" he claims. Blah blah de-blah blah. Not sure I'm buying it.

(Don't get me wrong; I love meeting everyone on tour, as I've mentioned before. Managing two blogs and a book launch from our car while we drive over 5,000 miles cross-country for 5 weeks, however, is more than a little daunting.)

At any rate, just wanted to keep you all apprised, in case you're wondering where all my crafty tutorial stuff has gone. After hand making and packaging 120+ individually boxed and bow-tied carrot jockey necklaces, my crafty streak is taking a little break.

This is the tour pile. The rest will go on sale in November.

In the meantime, guess I'll just have to point you to other great craft projects, huh? Here's one: have you seen the DIY sandwich box from a milk jug? So clever!

Just under three weeks 'til we leave. Yep. It's gettin' real. 0.o


  1. I have a friend with the Flex and they love it! Should be a good ride for y'all.

    Are y'all coming to Atlanta?

    We love the Hyatt Place, too. That's where we always stay for DragonCon.(Did you know there is a post D*C support group on FB? It's awesome!)
    Don't tell me y'all stayed there this year and I still didn't meet you?!!

  2. Love the milk carton box! Now I wanna try it!

    Final run!?!? Is this the last book tour?!?

  3. Joy, we waited too long to book the Hyatt Place for D*C, so it was full - otherwise we would have been there! Next year for sure, tho. And yes, Atlanta is our 1st stop this time - I'm glad, because we had SUCH a great show there last time; ATL rocks!

  4. I understand that Tom Tom Sat Navs are available with either the voice of Yoda or Darth Vader giving directions. You should check it out! "Turn right you must..."

  5. What IS the second car you guys tried?

  6. The car with the neon lights was a Ford Fusion. Really comfy, too; if I didn't love my orange Forte so much I'd seriously consider one of those for our own car.

  7. If you ever get the chance, try a Kia Soul. My dad (of all people!) bought one and loves it. It rides low like a car (my 87-year-old grandma can get in and out of it comfortably), has oodles more storage in the back than you'd expect, has neon lights around the door speakers and can get almost 40mpg highway. :D

    And it's much cuter than those boxy Scions. *nodnod*

  8. Weird that that posted anon. Anyway, that's awesome, partially because that's totally the car I want XD Y'know, when I win the lottery and can actually afford it, haha.

  9. Hi Jen - Can't wait to see you in Baltimore! The hubby and I are making a weekend of it, heading up Friday night, seeing you on Saturday, and then going to the Maryland RenFest on Sunday. Consider yourselves invited to dinner if you've got the time Friday night.

    On a completely separate note, I'm remembering you saying you'd put together a scavenger hunt list for Disney, but I can't find it. Is my memory playing tricks on me? We're headed out over Columbus Day week, and thought it would be a fun thing to do.


  10. I haven't finished the scavenger hunt, Carolina; I'm planning on working on it again when the tour's over & the weather is cooler! I can't wait; we've have a blast doing all the research for it so far. Sorry I don't have something for you now, though!

  11. The good news: We really, really appreciate all the effort you guys went to for those carrot jockeys!

    The bad news: 120 isn't even going to make a dent in the list of people who want one.

    But, thanks for all your hard work!

    Good luck with the tour. I'd recommend carrying the phone number of a back up driver just in case Texas is not through with John.

  12. Hey Jen,

    the tour sounds awesome and I am so sorry that I am stuck on this side of the pond (I'm in the UK). Given all your sound and slide fun.... is there any chance of you doing a webcast either after the tour or from the last tour.

    You could do the webcast from your living room! You all ready have the sound set up! hehe

  13. "I probably won't almost-die" should really be the theme for this trip, don'cha think?

  14. You hereby have my permission to take a break from this blog while on tour.

    I can imagine that touring is stressful enough without having to worry about this blog as well. Don't worry. We'll all still be here when you get back. :)

  15. if you liked the Fusion, you'll LOVE a Sonata. can't recommend'em enough right now.

    the Flex is a neat vehicle, too, but SO DANG EXPENSIVE.

  16. I just have to say that, even though I'm bummed your book tour isn't coming near me, John singing Michael Buble songs absolutely made my day. I *heart* MB and get an eye roll from my hubby every time I start belting out a Buble tune. (His Christmas album comes out in October - good road-trip music!)

    You know, Target has glow sticks at their Dollar-Spot.... do you think the book store would turn of the lights for full rave effect?

  18. Since you are driving and are heading to Toronto, do you know what bridge you will be crossing over into Canada? Have you and John been to Niagara Falls before? If not I would totally recommend crossing in Buffalo and diving along the Niagara River and past the Falls on the Canadian side for sure. Is a longer drive than the highway but worth it if you have never been. We have a much prettier view than the American side:)

  19. So glad you guys are giving Dallas another try!

    And I'm glad to see that Dallas isn't on the list that still needs cake since that was a little crazy last time. =) Let me know if you need anything else - I'd be happy to help out again.

  20. Congratulations on getting everything together for the tour! Remember, keep calm and carry a carrot jockey.

  21. @Karyl at 10:45 -- "Keep Calm and Carry a Carrot Jockey" really MUST be made into a t-shirt. I'm not sure how I've survived this long without one.

  22. If you like the neon in the Fusion and the size/ride of the Flex, check out the Ford Edge. Changeable neon lighting and a mid-sized "cross-over" SUV. Really comfortable ride too - especially with the 20" wheels!
    And when are you coming to Ohio??

  23. Yay, you found a chariot that suits your needs! Huzzah! ;) The road trip will be an awesome adventure! One piece of advice from our last cross-country road trip: do NOT under any circumstance eat a BK Western Whopper. You will be so ill and carsick simulatneously you'll wish you were dying. Seriously. Don't. Do. It.

  24. I would have thought that the channel that played 'Rear Window' would have been too suspenseful, not too boring. ;-) It must not have been the 1954 movie version on that channel.

    Glad you found a comfortable car for your trip. I hope it all works out well for you.

  25. As someone who's done some on-the-road performing, I have to say that bringing your own sounds system is definitely the way to go. It's a pain to lug around, but saves so much stress and annoyance when you need a decent sound system (which is all the time!). Happy touring!!

  26. I'm so excited to go to the Dallasish tour stop in November! I chickened out last time around, because I didn't have anyone to go with, or anyone to leave my infant son with. But this year, my toddler and I will be there, no matter what!

  27. OK, I must have to have one of those carrot jockey necklaces...

  28. I just now noticed the Portal cake symbol in the corner of the tour listing on cakewrecks. That's awesome, and I have to give you props.

    Unfortunately, I'm completely out of props right now, so I hope you accept applause.

    *slow clap*

  29. Hey Jen, at least you will have a car! My in laws are riding their motorcycles from Fairbanks, ALASKA to North Carolina (and back) right now! My dad in law is posting it here:


  30. Pleae tell me that you're starting your vitamin regimin now to stave off the toursickness.
    Some people get vaccinated to go to Africa. You guys should get vaccinated to go on tour.
    Can't wait to hear more deets, since I'm in CA and won't be joining you for any of these dates. :0[

  31. :( The jockey's got jazzed up? So pretty! Oh well, I love mine no matter what. have fun on your tour, but are you doing another one in Denver in a few years???? ;)

  32. Hey Jen ( you don't really need to publish this) As you are getting ready for your trip I just really want to reccomend Eagle Creek Packing cubes ( or something like them.) They are nylon zippered pouches to keep your clothes in organised groupings. Get all large sized "cube", Underwear goes in one, Socks in another, t shirts in another, accesories in a fourth. The Folding cases are pretty good at keeping you blouses decent looking too. I used to Hate digging through a sloshing suitcase full of crap, it was impossible to find anything.This keeps thing much simpler. Hey, you can just keep laundrey baskets in the trunk of the car, too. My Husband & I used to say you haven't really visited a place till you've done laundrey there... Looking forward to your West coast swing! Good Luck!


  33. I saw this and thought of your website. http://anjum.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4b7nix

  34. I do not know what I would do without your cool blogs and crafty links. (Just keep googling the same stuff over and over and over...?) I think I need to buy juice despite having a juicer to make some snack containers! And I am putting November in my calendar to look for baby carrot jockey necklaces!!!

  35. This:
    We have received new release date information related to the order you placed on June 21 2011 (Order# 203-9485539-8240345).

    The items listed below will actually be dispatched sooner than we had originally expected based on the new release date:

    Jen Yates "Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets "Festive""
    Previous estimated arrival date: October 24 2011 - October 26 2011
    New estimated arrival date: October 06 2011 - October 07 2011

    Customer Service Department

    Just a tiny bit (well a big bit) sad that I cannot actually afford air fare to a signing! :(

    Good luck with it all!

  36. I stayed at a Hyatt Place when a friend and I went to the KC RenFaire, and it's a nice hotel. The closet was a bit crowded once the Elizabethan gown went inside, but normal travel (or book tours ;) ) wouldn't have that problem.

    Wish I could make it to one of the signings, but my vacation time for the year had been used up by the time I saw the announcement. Maybe next book?

  37. Yay for the Flex, best car I've ever owned!! Enjoy the tour!

  38. Oh, oh, oh! I drive a Ford Flex!! They're all over the place here in Toronto, and you'll find that the majority of the drivers are "old guys" (of which I am not one). But you can pack that thing to the rafters, as we proved from our drive to Disney World this past May. (Yes, we drive from Toronto to Florida almost every year).
    One word of caution, use cruise control. It's really easy to speed in the Flex! (Also be prepared for people to stop and ask you about the car.)
    See you in Toronto :)

  39. I'm late posting this, but I have a Flex and love it! Plus, we've driven it from Missouri to North Carolina three times and from Missouri to Louisiana once, and my husband took it for work from Missouri to South Carolina and down to Florida. Super comfy every time and plenty of room to stretch while moving!!!


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