Home Sweet Home

I recently had the opportunity to visit and explore the city my Love in the City gang calls home: New York City! I got invited to the Sexy in the City Author Event which took place on May 30th, but I made a trip out of if by flying in on Wednesday, May 27th, and doing a little book research. It’s just as big and crowded and overwhelming as I thought it would be, but I came back to Kansas with a better grasp on the city and its people, which will definitely help me write the rest of the series. I stayed with my friend, Lauren, who is also the owner of CherryRed’s Reads. She lives in the Bronx and showed me the city in such a short period of time; I’m so grateful for her welcoming into her home and taking the time to play tour guide for me! The city was a huge eye-opener for me, since I come from a place where we’re able to see for miles in any direction. In New York City, that’s just not possible. Everything is a buzz. The people always seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere or do something, but they’re nicer than most people make them out to be. I came to New York thinking the locals would easily spot me as a foreigner and maybe even tell me to get the hell out of their way, but that never happened. I was welcomed with opened arms and patience. While there are taxis and Uber that are used by many, lots of locals use the subway and everyone walks everywhere! As a girl who is used to driving and doesn’t handle roller coasters well, I couldn’t stomach the subway. The whiplash that ensued as the train stopped and started so quickly at each station made me so nauseous, I paid for us to use Uber and it was totally worth it. But I’m still glad I walked away saying I rode the subway because that’s something we don’t have here in Kansas. However, it made me appreciate my ’98 Chevy Monte Carlo just that much more. I could never give up driving my own car, but I totally commend those people who can drive in NYC! It takes a certain set of stealthy skills and a few foul phrases for a person to master driving in the city, which made transportation even more entertaining as our friends, Heather and Jeremy and Kelly, navigated us through the city! Kudos to all of you who drive in the city and whose stomachs can handle the subway! If I close my eyes and listen closely, I can still hear the male automated voice telling all train passengers to, “Stand clear of the closing doors.” Like I said, it’s something I’m proud to say I did, but I will definitely stick to driving a car!

I’m so thankful I was able to be with friends who knew how to get around the city, who knew what to watch for and what to avoid, where all the city’s secrets lie (like the one in Grand Central Station) as well as all the city’s wonderful landmarks. New York City is full of history and beauty, and I truly believe it is a place everyone should experience at least once in their lives. I know if I would’ve been on my own, I wouldn’t have had the same experience or saw everything that I did.

New York pie (also known as pizza) totally ruined me for all other pizza! I had to fold this in half (hot dog style) to eat it, and every bite was so freaking delicious! I won’t be able to look at Pizza Hut the same.

NYCpizzaI also now understand why Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski ate Shake Shack so much during Emily Giffin’s movie adaptation of her book, Something Borrowed. The food is absolutely to die for. I’d come back to NYC just for more Shake Shack.

NYCshakeshackThe Strand Bookstore is a book lover’s paradise (I spent $80 dollars there)! As in, they have huge, tall shelves full of books from not only traditionally published authors but also some self-published. It was money well spent since I purchased some of my favorite authors’ books and this awesome shirt:

NYCshirtFAO Schwarz, the oldest toy store in the US, the toy store known from movies such as Big and Home Alone 2, was so big and amazing; I couldn’t have walked out of there without buying something for my nieces and nephew. For more pictures from my time in the store and to see all the different sections they have, check out my Facebook profile. It’s closing in July 2015 due to high rent, so if you get the chance to go to NYC before then, definitely stop in FAO Schwarz.

NYCfaoThe Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorials were breathtakingly beautiful. It was the first memorial I’d ever visited that I could say I lived through when the historical event actually happened, so it touched me in more ways that I can describe. Lauren showed me the church fence where locals hung signs for their missing loved ones as well as a building that still had soot on it from the crashes. A nearby firehouse memorialized its fighters with a wall mural on the side of its building. The city and its people have definitely done a brilliant job at remembering those we lost on that tragic day, from family and friends to those who put their lives on the line to save others. It’s truly an area of New York people should take the time to visit and remember.

NYCfreedomNYCsouthOn Saturday, I had the joy of attending my first book signing as an author. The Sexy in the City Author Event took place at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Times Square. Times Square is just how it’s depicted on TV and movies: It’s lit bright and crowded and filled with all sorts of people from tourists to local entertainers dressed up (or hardly wearing anything). But back to the signing.

NYCsigningAs I found my table in the ballroom, I was in awe of the goodies our hosts provided us like the bag filled with snacks and essentials and the awesome wine glasses they personalized with our names. They thought of everything, and I really appreciated that! After I set up my table and banner, I took in my surroundings, checking out the other authors and feeling so incredibly grateful to be in the same room full of so much talent. My table was in between T. Torrest’s and Heidi McLaughlin’s, two of my favorite authors, and it was such a pleasure to finally meet them! They were so nice and made me feel so welcomed, and less like a small fish in a big pond! I also had the opportunity to meet the woman who encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing, Jennifer Probst. I cannot thank her enough for being such a great friend. She’s been so supportive of me from the very beginning. She’s always been there for me whenever I’ve had any problems on my journey as a writer. It was just another dream come true to have her in attendance at my first signing since she’s been such a huge influence on me and my books. She’s one of the many authors I look up to, and she’s so sweet and personable with not only her readers but also her fellow authors. That’s the type of writer we all should aspire to be, and I’m so happy to have her as a role model. I truly hope we get to attend another event together in the future!

All in all, I had a wonderful time in New York, and I would love to come back someday. But for now, I’m happy to be back in Kansas! I want to thank my friends for welcoming me to their side of the country and for showing me a fantastic time, even though I’m such a pussy when it comes to the subway! I also want to thank the Sexy in the City hosts and their crew for inviting me to the event and making it such a success. Lastly, I want to thank all of the readers who stopped by my table on Saturday. I had so much fun chatting with all of you, and I hope you had as much fun as I did at the signing. You made my first signing a success in my eyes just by coming to see me, and I truly hope I get to come back for another signing in the future. A few of my Nuss’ Navy members got to meet one another at the signing, and I totally loved introducing you to each other! If you’d like to join my Navy, click here! I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without readers, so THANK YOU!

Xo,

Steph

NYCme

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