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Please join me in welcoming AE Jones to our Firebirds blog today!   Growing up a TV junkie, AE Jones would oftentimes rewrite endings of episodes in her head when she didn’t like the outcome. She immersed herself in sci-fi and soap operas. But when Buffy hit the little screen (don’t talk to her about the […]

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2013 GH Finalist: AE Jones

Posted by on Jun 28 2013, 12:01 am

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amyPlease join me in welcoming AE Jones to our Firebirds blog today!   Growing up a TV junkie, AE Jones would oftentimes rewrite endings of episodes in her head when she didn’t like the outcome. She immersed herself in sci-fi and soap operas. But when Buffy hit the little screen (don’t talk to her about the movie, it still gives her nightmares) she knew her true love was paranormal. Now she spends her nights weaving stories about all variation of supernatural – both their angst and their  humor.  After all life is about both…whether you sport fangs or not.

AE’s website can be found at

Mind Sweeper
Born with the ability to erase memories, Kyle McKinley is summoned to cover up a supernatural smackdown between a sword-wielding angel and a demon. When the police step in, she is partnered with Joe Dalton, a by-the-book human cop with the sexiest turquoise eyes. Together they protect humans from becoming pawns in an apocalyptic showdown by
unraveling the events that forced an angel to pick up a sword.

Nationals is Upon Us – Don’t Forget to Reboot

Oh so close to Nationals and excitement is building! We’re making lists, buying clothes, and preparing ourselves for a wonderful time. So I thought it appropriate to talk about one of the most important things attendees forget to do when they are at conference. Now before I come across as being condescending (after all the Firebirds did attend conference as finalists last year for goodness sake), let me explain what we all need to do at least once at Nationals.

You have to allow yourself to take a break—to walk away from the pandemonium. Whether it is for fifteen minutes sitting in the lobby people watching or decompressing for an hour in your room. You owe it to yourself.

But ‘no’ you say, there is too much going on. Workshops, spotlights and book signings to attend, business relationships to foster, old friends to catch up with, new friends to make…

Let me digress with a story as explanation (Are you really surprised? Writer here – stick with me).

The first year I went to Nationals (which was Orlando in 2010) I was in awe for DAYS. How could I not be? Thousands of people who talked and thought the same way I did and an agenda of hundreds of things to do and see and absorb. And I was determined that I would do them ALL. So I went from morning until late into the evening to everything I could, even going so far as sitting in the bar after dinner since I had heard ‘deals were made over drinks’. And at the end of the week, I was exhausted and foggy on all those wonderful people I had met. And this was without the extra pressure of being a finalist.

Look at it another way. If you are trying to put your best face forward and instead come across tired and cranky you could miss an opportunity right in front of you. Take a few minutes. Regroup. Reassess. Especially if you tend to be high-strung like me. I can be like that obnoxious Energizer Bunny until I crash into an exhausted pile (matted pink fur and a smashed drum – not a pretty picture). We are all ‘ON’ during Nationals and four or five days of being on all the time is a lot for anyone to handle. Even your phone, computer or ereader needs to be shut off every once in a while or it won’t work efficiently. So don’t be afraid to reboot, log off, clear your cache, delete your cookies, and recharge those batteries! (Can you tell I work with systems at my day job?)

The last thing I want to do is fall asleep in my dessert at the awards ceremony Saturday night. Although I’m sure it would make good YouTube fodder!

And another thing…

I couldn’t help myself. I had to offer a little ‘funny’ up as we prepare for Nationals, so in the spirit of the season (conference season, that is), I have fashioned the little ditty below.


The Twelve Days Before Nationals

On the twelfth day before Nationals I packed so frantically… A box of sparkly-new business cards. (not truly sparkly, I’m using a colorful descriptor…writer’s prerogative)

On the eleventh day before Nationals I packed so frantically…My notes for my pitch appointments (which I will fret over and change on the plane, in the cab to the hotel, in the elevator, in my room before I fall asleep, in line while I wait to pitch…we will speak no further of my OCD)

On the tenth day before Nationals I packed so frantically…Several pairs of comfortable shoes (I know- how many times do we have to hear about comfortable shoes?)

On the ninth day before Nationals I packed so frantically…My assorted collection of pins for my badge (including my GH pin, tee hee!)

On the eighth day before Nationals I packed so frantically… My snacks for my hotel room (I need nourishment and paying ten dollars for a bag of peanuts is so not in my budget…I could buy a book at the literary signing for that!)

On the seventh day before Nationals I packed so frantically…My planned itinerary for the week (workshops and spotlights, and book signings, oh my! What to do? What to do?)

On the sixth day before Nationals I packed so frantically…My ‘plan for every contingency’ kit (it includes a small sewing kit, pain reliever, lint roller, stain remover, Dramamine, etc. Hey, quit staring at me. I thought we weren’t going to bring up my OCD again??)

On the fifth day before Nationals I packed so frantically…My dress for the GH ceremony (and purse  and jewelry and killer shoes and Maalox )

On the fourth day before Nationals I packed so frantically… A little extra spending money (for literacy signing, and drinks in the bar, and dinner out, and tips, and cab rides and…well, it’s a good thing I’m bringing plastic too)

On the third day before Nationals I packed so frantically… A box of blister Band-Aids for my feet (cause let’s face it, we never pack comfortable shoes)

On the second day before Nationals I packed so frantically…The rest of my clothes for the trip (oh yeah, as much as I love my dress, I can’t wear it all week, and I would definitely make an impression running around naked now wouldn’t I?)

On the last day before Nationals I packed so frantically… My acceptance speech for my Golden Heart (note to self – if I am lucky enough to win, looking like a deer caught in the headlights with nothing to say while my face is projected up on a jumbotron is so not attractive)

So what is your ‘must pack’ for nationals?

64 responses to “2013 GH Finalist: AE Jones”

  1. Dyanne Conner says:

    Morning A.E.
    Just stopped by to say hello. Great post. The Twelve Days Before Nationals is sure to become a classic in the literay world. Maybe after a few of those drinks at the bar we can add music!

    Thanks for the advice about taking some down time. As a first-timer going to Nationals I’m sure it will be overwhelming. I’ll look to you for guidance oh great and wonderful chapter mate!

    Good luck and so happy to be there to cheer you on!

    • AE Jones says:

      Dy –

      Well you get the early bird prize today! Thanks for visiting. I am looking forward to traveling with you to the conference as well.

      I’m glad you like the 12 days song. I actually sang it in my head as I wrote it, so most (not all) of the lines match the right beats for the song.

      You will have a blast at Nationals, that much I know.

      See you soon!


  2. Sonali Dev says:

    Hi AE,

    Wonderful post!

    My entire ditty goes something like this.
    On the last day before nationals I packed so frantically, all the things I should’ve packed over the past twelve days. 🙂

    Can’t wait to meet you SOON!!

  3. AE Jones says:

    Good Morning Nikki & the rest of the Firebirds –

    Thank you for having me on your blog today! I am so honored to be asked and excited to spend the day with you. And now that Nationals is two and a half weeks away, the butterflies have taken root in my stomach!


  4. Hi AE, Dear Chaptermate and Fellow Lucky 13,

    I had no idea you were also a jingle writer!! (So talented!)

    I am going to use your song as a packing guide! It’s great! And I agree with Dy. Get a few drinks in us and we’ll be singing it loud and clear throughout the lobby of the Marriot Marquis. (Of course it may cause the agents and editors to clear out of the bar…)

    And don’t worry, I won’t let you fall asleep in your dessert during the awards ceremony 🙂 (Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem!)

    Thanks for making me laugh today. But then, you always do 🙂

    • AE Jones says:

      Hello Miss Miranda –

      So happy you came to visit me today. Writing jingles is a side-line business for me, but it hasn’t taken off yet!

      I have no problem singing the song for you, drinks or no drinks! And thanks for having my back at the awards ceremony. You’re right there is NO chance of me falling asleep…nerves will win out for sure.

      Thanks for traveling this crazy trip with me!


  5. AE – thanks for being here today. I LOVED your list … so true and so funny at the same time. Nationals is such an overwhelming experience … but so fun at the same time. And I loved number 11 … I must have rewrote my pitch a thousand times!!!!

    Good luck at the conference .. and I hope your comfortable shoes do you proud!!

    • AE Jones says:

      Nikki –

      Thanks so much for having me! I’m glad you liked the list. Yes, #11 is especially true, isn’t it?

      And I hope my comfortable shoes do me proud as well. I actually have been breaking in my award ceremony shoes since they are NOT comfortable at all, but they are adorable and I couldn’t pass them up! I keep telling myself that I will be sitting for most of the ceremony anyway so my feet should be okay…might be rationalization on my part!


  6. Gail Hart says:

    Amy – Love, love, love 12 Days Before Nationals!!! However, you forgot a day to pack heavy woolen sweaters and a flannel nightgown, because though we’re going to the deep south in the middle of summer, the AC in the hotel will be turned up high enough that you could store meat in the lobby.

    Less than three weeks now, see you then!


    • AE Jones says:

      Gail –

      You are SO right! How could I forget gloves and flannel underwear. I always freeze in these hotels. I find that I order tea and coffee just so I can warm my hands!

      See you in Atlanta!


  7. Jean Willett says:

    Welcome to the Firebirds, AE!! Congratulations on the GH nod and good luck in Atlanta. No face-planting in the desserts allowed. Though I do understand the urge to slide out of your chair and curl up beneath the table for a quick nap.

    Conferences can be draining, so I always recommend you schedule a moment for some down time. Disappear to your room, put up your feet and just close your eyes in the quiet. It’s okay. You won’t miss anything. Feeling refreshed, you’re ready to charge into the fray and be energized again.

    And for Atlanta, dress comfortably, include bandaids and hydrate! Carrying a shawl/sweater is a plus as the hotels crank the AC.

    Above all–have fun. Enjoy yourself and network.


  8. Hahaha! Love it, AE! I’m starting my packing list now and will totally crib from yours.

    As you know, last year I was going through a personal crisis, so I wasn’t sleeping. Add that on top of the running around and general conference adrenaline, and naps were not just a good idea, they were a necessity. Strangely, I wasn’t even a tiny bit tired at the awards banquet, though. Funny how that happens.

    See you in a couple of weeks!

    • AE Jones says:

      Thanks for stopping by Talia!

      Feel free to use my list for your packing!

      You’re right, not only are we facing stress from Nationals, but each of us have life and family stress that is with us as well. Relaxing when we can at Nationals is a must!

      And hopefully we will all walk away rejuvenated from the positive energy at the conference!


  9. AE Jones says:

    Jean –

    Thanks so much for the advice! You’re right this experience can be both draining and exhilarating at the same time. Everything in moderation.


  10. TerriOsburn says:

    What a fun blog! Welcome to the Firebirds blog, AE, and congrats on the GH final. I’m very much with you on taking some down time. Learned that the hard way. My first conference was San Fran in 2008. By the time I got home, I was beyond exhausted and suffering from major jet lag. (I live on the east coast so it was bad.) I had to take a couple extra days off work because I couldn’t get my computer monitor to stop spinning before my eyes.

    I was also in the bar a couple late nights in Orlando. Isn’t that the year Kristan Higgins climbed into the fountain??

    I have a looming deadline this year, so I might disappear quite often to write in my room. The work must come first! Oh, and I love the 12 days of packing. Brilliant!

    • AE Jones says:

      Terri –

      Thanks for commenting! You’re right I didn’t even think to comment about jet lag. Luckily this year since it is Atlanta and I am east coast I don’t need to worry about it.

      I somehow missed the water fountain escapade! I’m sure it will live on in infamy.

      I’m also sure you’re not the only one who will be writing in your room! You’re right work comes first (writing work that it, my day job, I’m nor worrying about that week 😉 )


  11. Sandra Owens says:


    I found myself singing your blog! Thanks for starting my day off with a chuckle. I thought I’d covered everything on my list until someone mentioned Band-Aids the other day. Thanks for reminding me to pack those.

    See you in Atlanta Lucky 13 sister.

    • AE Jones says:

      Sandra –

      I oopsed and didn’t reply directly to your comment so I am doing it again.

      Can’t wait to meet you and I love that you sang along as you read my blog!


  12. AE Jones says:

    Sandra –

    How great! If other people are singing it as well then I have worked my magic today.

    I can’t wait to meet you too!


  13. Thanks so much for the reminder on taking time out when needed, AE! I ended up in that “trying to do everything” mode at my first conference (in San Fran) and now make a point to schedule in down time. And your packing-for-conference parody is delightful! I will be sure to refer to it when I’m packing.

    Can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta!

    • AE Jones says:

      Bonnie –

      Don’t we all try and do too much especially the first time out. I think it’s great that everyone will think about my list when packing – hopefully it will make it less stressful! There is no point getting stressed out ever BEFORE the conference.

      See you in Atlanta!

  14. LOL on so many things in your blog, AE!

    “Delete my cookies” I think was my favorite. It resonates on so many levels 🙂

    Hmm, what else to bring to conference? I think you nailed it with your super awesome ditty. But how about…a great book written by a great romance author — so I can distract myself from tweaking my pitch on the journey to conference, both on the plane and while waiting in the airport?

    • AE Jones says:

      Jacqui –

      I agree, I was going to expound a bit on the whole cookies thing, but didn’t want to go overboard, especially after my little ditty!

      Great idea about the book. It is good to have something to distract you and remind you why we do what we do at the same time.


  15. Becky Lower says:

    Nicely done, Amy. I always think I’m missing something vital if I’m not out and about the entire time during Nationals. After all, it’s so expensive to get there and there are so many great sessions. But much can be accomplished too, by having a quiet dinner with friends, or people who will become your friends in the next year. A little bit of quiet amid the chaos that is Nationals is always good.

    • AE Jones says:

      Becky –

      So true! We have this guilt complex because we pay $$$ to go and so we have to get our money’s worth, right? But we have to temper it too.

      I like your comment ‘quiet amid the chaos that is nationals’


  16. Hi Amy,
    That was a wonderful post! You’re raising the bar, yet again! I’m attending Nationals too, and I’ll refer back to you “12 days” list for help when I start cramming things into my suitcase.
    See you there!

    • AE Jones says:

      Sheri –

      Hello! Thanks for dropping in. You’re right, we do end up cramming things into our suitcase, right? Which is funny because we need space for all those books on the way home.

      See you in Atlanta!


  17. Di R says:


    Brilliant as usual!

    I would add, make sure at least one pair of shoes are flats. You never know when you’ll need them.

    I am so happy we’re on the same plane to Atlanta and back!


  18. AE, this is great! I especially liked the box of BandAids… last year, I bought the last box in the hotel convenience store!

    Looking forward to meeting you at Nationals.

    • AE Jones says:

      AJ –

      Can’t wait to meet you too! Too funny about the bandaids. You probably could have sold them to attendees at a huge profit like crack cocaine!

      Thanks for chiming in today.


  19. Piper Huguley says:

    Hey Amy,

    Love the song, thanks for sharing it. I will probably live out of my minivan, though, since I live here rather than parking.

    And as for breaks? Will work do? Yes, I will travel back and forth to campus finishing up my summer class, so I will have physical breaks from the conference. Hope the rejuvenation works…..


    • AE Jones says:


      Hello. Wow, sounds like you will be super busy during Nationals. Take deep breaths my dear, all will be well.

      Can’t wait to meet you.


  20. Rena Koontz says:

    Thanks for nothing, Amy,
    I’ll be humming that ?/#@$ tune all day now!
    Have fun at nationals and luck —

    • AE Jones says:


      Sorry, don’t you hate it when you can’t get a song out of your head? It usually happens to me when my alarm clock goes off. The more obnoxious the song, the more it stays with me.

      Thanks for the good luck – you are my lucky charm so I wish you were coming to Nationals! (wow that sounded kind of selfish, didn’t it – of course I want you to be there because I love spending time with you as well)


  21. TamraBaumann says:

    Nice to meet you AE! Thanks for visiting and for all the great advice!

    For those of you who HATE public speaking as much as I do and are torn between wanting to win, but terrified of getting up there and giving your speech, I have a little nice surprise for you. The lights shining at you are so bright, you can’t see anyone clearly. So just pretend it’s you and your brush and your bathroom mirror. (Don’t lie, you know you’ve already done this). Smile, say thanks to everyone you love and then afterward you can celebrate with your choice of beverages the fact that you didn’t pass out in front of everyone!! (And you’ll have a shiny new necklace to prove it 🙂

    Good luck in Atlanta, AE!!

    • AE Jones says:

      Tamra –

      Thank you for sharing your experience as a winner! Actually this is very timely because several of our 2013 class are getting very nervous about this same thing. Great to know about the lights!

      And you are right not passing out or face planting are my goals if I am lucky enough to win.


    • TerriOsburn says:

      What Tammy fails to mention is that she knows this from experience, having won last year. She’s too modest to add that detail, so I’m doing it for her.

  22. Kay Hudson says:

    Love your packing hints. I’m pretending that since this is my third conference in a row I have everything under control. HA! I’m just putting off the panic until the weekend before I leave. But I’ll get to Atlanta, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing all my geographically-scattered friends there. (I was going to say wide-spread friends, but for too many of us that conjures up images of the scale and the desk-bound day job!)

  23. AE Jones says:

    Kay –

    Loved the ‘wide-spread’ comment. So true! Yes, we each have our way of packing. Sounds like you have a little bit if denial and procrastination going on – I love it!

    Can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta.


  24. Darcy Woods says:

    Hi AE! Such a fun list and delightful way to end the week 🙂

    Last year I built in breaks and the freakin’ world was my oyster! Really. It made for a spectacular conference experience, and made ME more effective (in pitching, networking, drinking, etc.)! Excellent reminder to all.

    Hmm, my must pack? Music! I like to load up my iPhone w/ some fun tunes b/c sometimes you just gotta boogie. Also, I have an essential oil mix of lavender & water that I like to spray on my pillow and pretend i’m serene. It sometimes-never works, but i try anyway 😉

    YAY! Can’t wait to meet up soon!!!

  25. AE Jones says:

    Darcy –

    Hello! I want the freakin’ world to be my oyster too! Good idea on packing the music which can also help with relaxing or jammin’ as the case may be.

    I am looking forward to meeting you as well.


  26. robena grant says:

    I love this, thank you. And congrats! on your GH final. One thing I do when the conference is on the opposite coast is pack one pair of fat pants or one skirt with a non-binding waistband. That way if I suffer with airline bloat I’m comfortable. ; )

  27. AE Jones says:

    Robena –
    What an awesome idea! I totally know what you mean. My hands swell when I flY. Thanks for the suggestion

  28. Amy DeLuca says:

    Hi Amy! Thanks for the tips- I’m a first-timer and tempted to do ALL THE THINGS every minute I’m there. Maybe I should reconsider…

    My must-pack for any hotel stay is my earplugs– that way if the party goes on late into the night in the hallway right outside my room, I can either join them… or sleep. 🙂

    Looking forward to meeting you there!

    • AE Jones says:

      Amy –

      Don’t try to do everything. You will drive yourself nuts! Earplugs are a great idea. I always end up in the room by the elevator or ice machine and it makes me bonkers.

      Can’t wait to meet you in GA.

  29. AE Jones says:

    Thanks so much to Nikki and the Firebirds for letting me spend time with you today. Atlanta here we come!


  30. Barb H says:

    Sorry this is late, I’m on digest. This was so funny, and so true. I remember our first year fondly. All our running around, killing ourselves. We over packed, and forgot to pack, and didn’t leave enough room for books. (Ship them home is best.)
    I’m looking forward to this year’s conference with you, I’ll be the one screaming the loudest for you and MJ.

    • AE Jones says:


      Thanks for stopping by. So excited to be heading back to Nationals with you this year. We should have a blast. I am looking forward to hearing my cheering section at the awards ceremony, just don’t strain your vocal chords!


  31. Chris Taylor says:

    Hi AE,

    Great post. I’m in the process now of digging out my summer clothes (it’s winter over here) and working out what still fits! To top off the pressure, I’m only allowed 23kg of luggage on the plane! Don’t they know how many shoes I need?? I mean to say!!

    Looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta!

  32. AE Jones says:

    Chris –
    Thanks for chiming in. You’re right they should let you send your shoes in a free suitcase. No charging for shoes should be the rule!
    Can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta.

  33. Leslie Lynch says:

    Hey, AE, this is the first time I’m actually PLANNING what I will wear from day to day! Great ideas in your ditty, by the way. I will use some of them!

    Thanks for providing a bit of stress relief through humor!!!


  34. COngratulations on being a Golden Heart Finalists, AE. Look forward to meeting you in Atlanta!

  35. Maria Connor says:

    I love reading these inspirational stories!

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