#RT2017 Part 4: Playing Tourist

Previously:
The Hyatt Regency Atlanta
Eating On Site
Nearby Restaurants

Like a lot of larger cities, Atlanta has plenty of tourist attractions and sites to visit. Now, Atlanta’s also more spread out than a lot of big cities, so some of those places are a bit of jaunt to get to. However, you can still get your tourist on without having to go very far afield.

To start with, Centennial Olympic Park is just a few blocks down from the Hyatt. Built for the 1996 Games, the park features lots of green space, a rings-shaped fountain that plays musical shows, and a number of attractions on its edges:

The SkyView Atlanta ferris wheel gives awesome views of the Atlanta skyline day or night. Tickets: $15

The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere and features dolphin and sea lion shows, a 4D theater, and a daily “Waddle Walk” featuring some of the resident penguins. Tickets: vary a lot, from under $30 after 4PM to around $48 for full-price admission (with extra charges for special programs like behind-the-scenes tours)

The World of Coca-Cola is an interactive museum dedicated to Atlanta’s most famous product. Watch films about the company’s history, check out all kind of memorabilia, and taste Coke products from all over the world. (Don’t miss the Beverly!) Tickets: $17

The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a museum and monument to the Civil Rights Movement and today’s global human rights movements. Tickets: $19

For the football fans, the College Football Hall of Fame is on the far side of Centennial Park. Tickets: $22

Also on that side of the park is CNN, which offers a behind-the-scenes studio tour. Tickets: $16

Other places of interest not far from the hotel:

The King Center and MLK Jr. National Historic Site are about a mile away, and admission is free for both.

The Margaret Mitchell House is about a mile and a half away, and just a block down from the Midtown MARTA station. Tickets: $13

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum is just 3 miles away and includes a replica of the Oval Office and plenty of historic memorabilia. Tickets: $8

Zoo Atlanta is in Grant Park, about 5 miles from the hotel, and has baby pandas! Tickets: $26

Fernbank Museum of Natural History, also about 5 miles away, has lots of cool exhibits and two giant-screen film theaters. Tickets: start at $18 for museum only, $33 for museum + films

In addition to individual tickets, Atlanta does have CityPass, and some organizations have combo tickets (like an aquarium/zoo pass for $54).

Also, RT is offering three different combinations tours on Monday and Tuesday of convention week (I have not checked status, so they could be full/cancelled):

Explore Atlanta! ($160) includes the World of Coca-Cola, the Krispy Kreme “mothership” location on Ponce de Leon, historic Inman Park and Little Five Points, Eagle Eye and Book Nook bookshops, lunch at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, and a trip to the Varsity.

History & Historic Homes Tour ($190) includes the King Center, historic homes including those of Joel Chandler Harris and Margaret Mitchell, a visit to the Atlanta History Center, and lunch at Swan Coach House.

Hunger Games/Walking Dead Tour ($200) includes visits to locations featured in the film and television series, including Swan House (President Snow’s home), the Marriott Marquis (the Capitol), Terminus, the CDC (TV version, not real-life version!), and lunch at Pittypat’s Porch.

Next time: more information about getting to and from the hotel!

Advertisements

#RT2017 Part 3: Nearby Restaurants

Previously:
The Hyatt Regency Atlanta
Eating On Site

So you’ve exhausted the on-site restaurants at RT and want to head outside for some fresh air. Or just escape the craziness for a while. No problem! There are plenty of places nearby.

Some of the restaurants I listed in the last post as being the food court also open onto the street along Peachtree Center Avenue, the street that runs behind the hotel. From the lobby, take the escalators down one level and exit through the doors, taking the stairway down to street level. Turn right and cross the first street, and you’ll find Benihana, Gibney’s, Metro Café, and across the street, Truva (Turkish) and Cuts (a steakhouse). In the opposite direction from the Hyatt you’ll find Pacific Rim Bistro (great sushi), Big Kahuna (surf-themed burger and tacos joint), and Morton’s Steakhouse.

Now, going back to the front of the hotel, directly across the street are White Oak Kitchen (modern Southern fare) and Corner Bakery (sandwiches and pastries, similar to Panera). Down the street to the left you’ll find a Starbucks, Ray’s in the City (great local seafood chain), and Jalapeno Charlie’s (Latin American). At the next corner, International Boulevard, turn right and go halfway down the block to Pittypat’s Porch, an Atlanta tradition for Southern food. Across the street from there is the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel (the tall, cylindrical, glass hotel), which has a rotating restaurant called Sundial on the roof. [EDIT: Sundial is currently closed after a tragic accident there in mid-April. I don’t know when it will reopen.]

If you keep going down Peachtree Street, you’ll pass Hard Rock Café and Alma Cocina (great modern Mexican) on the left, Meehan’s Public House (Irish pub), the Braves All-Star Grill, and Sweet Georgia Juke Joint (soul food) on the right. On that next corner is the Ritz-Carlton, which has a couple of higher-end options as well.

Now let’s back up to the corner of Peachtree and International, where the Hard Rock is. If you head down the hill and turn left at the front of the Westin, a couple of blocks down is Ted’s Montana Grill, Ted Turner’s restaurant chain. And if you keep going straight at the Westin, you’ll find a Waffle House across from Centennial Park.

One more nearby restaurant: from the front of the Hyatt, turn right and go down a couple of blocks to Max Lager’s, a brewhouse.

There are many, many other restaurants within a short driving distance/ride from the hotel. A few I’d recommend:

  • Mary Mac’s Tea Room, 224 Ponce de Leon. THE classic full-service Southern restaurant. Everything is delicious!
  • The Varsity, 61 North Avenue. Classic Atlanta hot dog and burgers joint. Just don’t forget the antacid chaser.
  • Six Feet Under, 685 11th Street. Seafood and pub fare with lots of craft beers.
  • Bartaco, 969 Marietta Street. Lots of great tacos and drinks, super casual.

All right! We’ve got you all fed. Next time, I’ll talk about a few of the touristy things to do near the conference area, including some of the tours being offered through the convention.

#RT2017 Part 2: Eating On Site

Previously:
The Hyatt Regency Atlanta

All right! We all need to know where to eat more than almost anything else, right? Thanks to skywalks that connect several downtown buildings, the Hyatt has a heck of a lot of choices without even having to go outside. Early May in Atlanta shouldn’t be too sweltering, but it’s likely to be pretty warm and humid. Staying in the air conditioning is a good thing.

We’ll start with the hotel’s four restaurants. Twenty-Two Stories, the lobby bar, is also a gastropub, with “elevated” bar food in addition to the full bar and specialty cocktails. Sway, just inside the front doors, is a full-service restaurant featuring Southern-focused cuisine. Market is a 24-hour, quick-service spot tucked into the corner of the lobby, offering premade sandwiches and other light meals and serving Starbucks coffee. And up top, on the 22nd floor, is Polaris, a high-end, revolving classic Atlanta restaurant.

The hotel also has room service, though only for breakfast and dinner.


One of the best things about the Hyatt, though, is that it connects directly to the Peachtree Plaza Food Court. Just take the hallway marked Radius Tower, between Twenty-Two Stories and the reservations desk (see image), and at the end you’ll find a number of fast-food and quick-service restaurants, as well as several nicer sit-down restaurants. Be aware, however, that a lot of these places are only open during the day, since they’re designed to serve the businesses in the area.

A few of the restaurants in the food court (current as of January):

Caribou Coffee
Au Bon Pain
Farmer’s Market (meat-and-veggies plates)
Gibney’s Pub
Dairy Queen
Chik-fil-A
Café Momo (salad and hot bar by the pound)
Metro Café (diner)
Firehouse Subs
Subway
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Willy’s Mexicana Grill
Great Wraps
Yami Yami Sushi
Turmeric Indian Bistro
Benihana
Hsu’s Gourmet Chinese

There’s a CVS Pharmacy over there, too, so you can even pick up snacks and drinks to keep in your room. (All rooms in the Atrium and International towers have refrigerators.)

The Hyatt also has a skywalk that leads to the Marriott Marquis across the street. The entrance is between the bar and the café in the lobby. The skywalk takes you into the Atrium level of the Marriott, which has a bar in the center and two full-service restaurants: High Velocity, a bar and grill; and Sear, a high-end steak restaurant. From there, go down one level to the lobby, and there’s a Starbucks and an M Store that sells prepared sandwiches and snacks.

And there’s yet another skywalk from the Marriott to the Hilton! Go down one more level from the lobby, to the Marquis level, at the back side of the hotel to find the skywalk. That will take you into the second floor of the Hilton. Go down one level for the lobby restaurant, called Southern Elements, and a Marketplace with prepared sandwiches and the like. Down one more level is Trader Vic’s, a Polynesian restaurant and bar, and up on the roof is Nikolai’s Roof, a fine dining restaurant.

Next up: I’ll cover some of the other restaurants in the area near the hotel—many of them within walking distance.

#RT2017 Part 1: The Hyatt Regency Atlanta

Hi all! This is the first of several blog posts leading up to the RT Booklovers’ Convention in Atlanta that I hope you’ll find helpful. The convention is being held at the Hyatt Regency downtown, a hotel with which I am intimately familiar, particularly after 10 years volunteering there during Dragon Con.

The hotel is on Peachtree Street Northeast—not to be confused with any of the other streets with Peachtree in the name. (That includes Peachtree Center Avenue, which runs directly behind the Hyatt!) Be warned that several streets near the hotel are one-way, so if you’ll be driving, watch out for that. If you’re taking MARTA, you want the Peachtree Center station, which is the first stop on the North/Northeast (Red/Gold) line. Any northbound train from the airport will get you there.

Let’s start with some quick-and-dirty directions inside the hotel.

First: no, there will not be long distances to walk to get to the conference space. The hotel has two main towers, Atrium and International, and they’re basically right next to each other. (A third tower, Radius, has only guest rooms, not meeting space.) International Tower will be used only for Teen Day activities, so I won’t cover that section here.

When you come in the hotel’s main entrance, you’re in the Atrium Tower, lobby level. Most of the primary conference space is on the two floors directly below the lobby and the Atlanta Conference Center—basically an underground habitrail lined with smaller meeting rooms.

Here’s the lobby, standing just inside the front door.

On the right is the Atrium Tower elevator bank, and on the far side of the floor is Twenty-Two Stories, the lobby bar-slash-gastropub (and likely central meeting point). Turn right and…

You can see the bell stand and concierge desk. Straight ahead is the gift shop, and right from there is hallway to the International Tower. To the left is the registration desk. (Note that there may be specific line or luggage management set up for the convention, so it might not look exactly like this.)

Registration desk.

Closer shot of the bar area.

Here are the escalators from the lobby down to the conference levels. The elevators also go to the bottom levels, but elevator access can be dicey, so best to reserve those for people who need them whenever possible.

The first level down (LL1) has three main conference spaces: the Centennial Ballroom, the Regency Ballroom, and the Learning Center (an auditorium-style space). The pool is also on this level. The second level (LL2) has Grand Hall East and West, Hanover Hall, and the Chicago Room.

When you come off the escalators on LL2, there’s another set of escalators to the right. Those take you down to the Atlanta Conference Center (LL3); the motor lobby is also on that level. Again, the atrium elevators will take you all the way down.

The Atlanta Conference Center has lots of smaller meeting rooms down here, so I won’t try list them all. There are hallways in both directions, with signs overhead:

Most of these rooms will be in use throughout the conference, so you’ll likely spend a lot of time down here. Also, if you turn right here and follow the hallway all the way to the end, you’ll find the elevators and escalators for the International Tower.

I hope that’s not too confusing! I think that’s a good place to stop for this post. Feel free to ask questions in comments if you like, and I’ll try to answer them in a future post. Next up will be the other most important information: where to eat!

On Sale! Heart & Soul Is Just 99 Cents

My novella Heart & Soul is on sale this week for just 99 cents. It’s up at PayHip now, and the price change is working its way through to the other retailers. Grab your copy now! 🙂

heartsoul_webHeart & Soul

Self-published
Publication date: November 14, 2016

Love can sneak up on you in the last place you’d expect.

Kellen Grady has known he’s gay since he was a teenager, but he’s never been that interested in dating. A professional pianist, he’s happy spending his days teaching students of all ages and his nights working and playing at an Atlanta bar and concert venue. When former pro football player Terrence Harvey and his brother buy the bar, Kellen’s thrown by the change to his routine, but he develops a quick friendship with Terrence, drawn to his sunny nature and sharp mind. Then their relationship takes a turn when Terrence surprises Kellen with a kiss. The unexpected action, though not unwelcome, leaves Kellen faced with reevaluating everything he thought he knew—about Terrence, and about himself.

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
PayHip

Graphite & Glitter Links

A quick post to put all the info for Graphite & Glitter in one place for easy linking. 🙂

graphiteglitter_400px

All that glitters might just be gold.

Adrienne Michaels’ best friend is getting married, and Adrienne’s not feeling it on the night of the bachelorette party. Then she meets Tessa Smith, bass player for an all-female glam rock tribute band. After a one-night stand worthy of the hottest rock star fantasies, Tessa surprises Adrienne by asking her on a real date, and Adrienne soon finds Tessa’s side gig pales in comparison to the down-to-earth music geek beneath the glitter. Tessa even helps Adrienne through a family loss, but when Tessa gets a sweet job offer in another city, Adrienne has to make a choice: let her go, follow her halfway across the country—or become part of the reason for her to stay.

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
PayHip
Goodreads

Coming Soon: Graphite & Glitter

I’m excited to share the information for my first F/F story. Graphite & Glitter is slated for release on February 27, and it has another absolutely gorgeous cover by the amazing Angsty G.

graphiteglitter_400px

LOVE LOVE LOVE.

All that glitters might just be gold.

Adrienne Michaels’ best friend is getting married, and Adrienne’s not feeling it on the night of the bachelorette party. Then she meets Tessa Smith, bass player for an all-female glam rock tribute band. After a one-night stand worthy of the hottest rock star fantasies, Tessa surprises Adrienne by asking her on a real date, and Adrienne soon finds Tessa’s side gig pales in comparison to the down-to-earth music geek beneath the glitter. Tessa even helps Adrienne through a family loss, but when Tessa gets a sweet job offer in another city, Adrienne has to make a choice: let her go, follow her halfway across the country—or become part of the reason for her to stay.

Preorder at Amazon

Add on Goodreads

Seventeen for 2017

2017image

Following up from the “Sixteen in 2016” post I did a year ago, I decided to go ahead and do the same for 2017, with a plus-one. So in no particular order, here are the things I hope to accomplish in the coming year:

  1. Pay off my remaining student loan. The last payment is scheduled for June, but the balance is so low that I’ll probably pay it off sooner.  DONE
  2. Pay off another credit card. I’m down to two with balances, so I might manage both. DONE
  3. Increase my retirement savings. I’m currently at 7% and want to be at least 10% by the end of the year. UPDATE: Just increased to 9% (July).
  4. Set up monthly charitable donations, focusing on social justice/civil rights organizations. UPDATE: I haven’t done this monthly, but I have been doing periodic donations.
  5. Wean myself back off soda. I drink wayyyyy too much sugar these days. UPDATE: In progress. I stopped buying/drinking Sprite all the time, anyway.
  6. Do more major purging before I move, especially books, CDs, and DVDs that never leave their shelves. DONE
  7. Move. I’ll have my own place again for the first time in a decade! DONE
  8. Actually finish unpacking this time. Goal: by Memorial Day weekend (~2.5 months). UPDATE: Not done, but getting there…
  9. Take my parents to Walt Disney World (planned for February).
  10. Finish publishing Hands On novella set.
  11. Write/finish writing and submit/publish three new stories. UPDATE: Two submissions down!
  12. Start submitting to agents.
  13. Attend the RT Booklovers’ convention in Atlanta.
  14. Attend the Council of Science Editors meeting in San Diego (for the day job).
  15. Attend at least one other romance writing conference.
  16. Plan and execute publication of the Daily Dragon for Dragon Con 2017.
  17. Finally get together the Seekrit Project I’ve been wanting to do for my mom for years. (Shhhhh!)

There. That ought to give me plenty to focus on. Happy New Year, everyone!

Out with the Old…

At the beginning of 2016, I posted a list of 16 goals of sorts for the year. Now that we’re coming up on New Year’s Eve, it’s time to check in and see how I did:

  1. Pay off at least two credit card balances. I’ve let these creep up after being free of credit card debt about five years ago. Two balances are low enough that I can pay them off quickly, though. DONE! Card #2 was paid off in August, and I’ve kept those cards paid off since.
  2. Stop adding to credit card balances. They’ve been mostly steady this year, but I’d like to get them all headed consistently toward zero. DONE! As of mid-December, still on track with the remaining balanaces.
  3. Set up an office space. I’m planning to buy a desk and chair this weekend, and getting those assembled and in place will be about 75% of this goal. Things kind of fell apart on this one later in the year, and now I’ll be moving soon, so I’d say this one was about 50% accomplished.
  4. Get a massage at least once a month. I have a monthly membership that I’m not using often enough. If I’m not going to, I should just cancel it—after I use up the extra credits! I’m calling this one DONE! I got a massage a month through October, when I put the account on suspension for a few months. I’ll probably still get one this week, which will be 11 out of 12 months.
  5. Start doing stretches/yoga regularly for my neck and back problems. More reliance on movement, less on painkillers and heating pads. I haven’t managed much of this, though I’m a little bit better at maintaining my posture and not slumping over the computer.
  6. Get a mammogram. I’m way overdue. DONE! Including follow-up ultrasound with an all-clear.
  7. Weed out and donate clothes/shoes I never wear. Pretty much everything that isn’t used is gone. I’ll get the rest as I pack to move.
  8. Buy new clothes, especially tops and dress pants. About a third of new clothes I buy end up not working when I actually start wearing them, so the wardrobe turnover is an ongoing issue. DONE! A few rounds of purchases means my wardrobe is in pretty good shape now. Until spring, that is!
  9. Finish unpacking and get the last boxes out of my space. I plan to accomplish a good part of this by getting rid of more stuff. How the heck did I end up with this much STUFF?? I made some progress here, and will make more before I move, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped.
  10. Finish and submit/publish three new stories. I’m shooting for three novels, but I do have a germ of an idea for a short novella for Christmas, so we’ll go with three total. DONE! I self-pubbed three novellas and have a fourth coming in early 2017.
  11. Republish two stories after rights reversions (and on more than just Amazon this time). DONE! Story #1 self-pubbed in August, story #2 published with Dreamspinner in September.
  12. Go to Walt Disney World. Planned for the week of the Dreamspinner author workshop. DONE! Went to Animal Kingdom for the first time in March, and hit the other three parks over Memorial Day weekend. 😀
  13. Attend the Dreamspinner author workshop. DONE!
  14. Attend the RT Booklovers’ Convention. DONE!
  15. Attend the Council of Science Editors meeting (for the day job). DONE!
  16. Plan and execute publication of the Daily Dragon for Dragon Con 2016. DONE!

So I’m at 13/16 complete for 2016, and progress on one of the others. Not too shabby. 🙂

Coming up this weekend: Seventeen for 2017!

Short Short Story Sale at Dreamspinner

Today only, Dreamspinner has all short stories on sale for just 99 cents! Great time to pick up any of mine you’ve missed, including two holiday-themed stories. Sale ends at midnight, so get shopping!

“Of Holiday Spirits, Wake-Up Calls, and Happily Ever Afters”
Dreamspinner Press
How many chances does a man get before it’s too late? When Guy staggers home after a raucous Christmas Eve with his closest friends, he’s visited by a spirit who looks suspiciously like Teddy, the friend Guy’s secretly crushing on. Can Guy learn the lessons of the past—and make the right choices in the present—so his future will be less about one night and more about forever?

“Sharing Christmas”
Dreamspinner Press
Christmas looks to be a bust for Rick, who’s stuck covering the office over the holiday. But when his neighbor, Steven, invites him to join some residents in their apartment complex who put together gift bags to distribute at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day, Rick decides to join them and finds an unexpected holiday gift: a new love interest.

“Chicago”
Dreamspinner Press
Darren Lowell and Nathan Thomas are at loose ends in the Windy City. A chance meeting in a hotel lobby that progresses into a spectacular night will make Chicago a whole lot more interesting for them both. Chicago may not just be a brief stop on their journeys—it could be the starting point for a passionate new future.

“The Cabin on the Hill”
Dreamspinner Press
Jesse hadn’t planned for anything more than a break from the noise and heat of Atlanta when he returned to the cabin he rented each year in the Smoky Mountains—but that was before he met Eli, the handsome man renting the other side of the cabin. Eli’s plans to mix a little hiking with his relaxation match Jesse’s perfectly, and before long the two men are sharing more than just a wall and a view. Jesse’s not one to let an opportunity like this pass him by, though it remains to be seen whether the weekend encounter can turn into something more permanent.