If you read yesterday's post you know that I was plucked from obscurity at the ECWC -- the Romance Writers' of America Pacific Northwest Conference in Bellevue last weekend--to participate in a mock Romance Book photo shoot with the infamous Harvey Stables. Harvey of romance book cover fame.
I was totally unprepared and aflutter. When Jen Jakes of The Killion Group curled her finger to beckon me to stand, I knew nothing good would come of it. Everyone knows Harvey in romance writer circles. I did not, but now I do. I want to liken him to Fabio for anyone out there who is unfamiliar with romance book covers but he's more beautiful than Fabio and way more interesting.
When Jen asked me to stand up to be her patsy, I was the much envied gal in the audience who got to participate in the photo shoot. You could cut the envy in the room with a knife as I walked trance-like to Jen and stepped into my dowdy brown poor village girl costume and donned the ever stylish puff-ball hat.
In an effort to save my dignity I took my glasses off but then couldn't find Harvey and had to put them on again.
I can't say that I wasn't embarrassed to be so close to Harvey Stables because I was very embarrassed. Not embarrassed at being up in front of the group. Just close to his beautifulness. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to be the center of attention. But, what made this funny was our difference in ages, and our different looks. He's got black hair and I have blonde. (kidding.) He is 6' 4" and I'm pretty much came up to his belly button. He's an entrancingly beautiful man and I just scarfed down a big lunch and then forgot to brush my hair or reapply lipstick.
I was in a fog of fan girl idolatry up there in front of the group, with Harvey. He is just plain beautiful to look at and up close, he's even better. Harvey Stables is a protoplasmic work of art. I realize he works hard to keep that body fit but his presence just plain commands attention. He's big, very big, with a dark and brooding look like he could sweep you up on his horse and ride away with you. Think Old Spice Commercial. There is a presence that takes your breath away. Understand, I've met George Harrison, performed with Jamie Foxx and sold shoes to Gene Hackman but this was so very different.
In a show of good sportsmanship, we posed, stripped off clothes, coats, ascots and let our hair hang out, literally. I have to add here that this man's hair is freakishly silky and healthy.
There's a shot of me with my hands in his hair and at that moment I'm actually thinking of the female pattern baldness in our family and how my grandmother and mother would have loved to run their fingers through Harvey Stable's hair. Truth. We are a family of thin hair and appreciate a good mop. That's what I remember the most about when he took his shirt off and I ran my hands through his hair.
Putting our foreheads together, lips parted and holding that pose for minutes was difficult, especially because I held my breath.
Someone in the audience had just run up to give me a breath mint which I consumed at a furious rate, but still. All I could think about was how over the hill I am now. Had we done this 10 years earlier, I might have leaned into him a bit more. I was still a contender back then. Now, that puff ball hat kind of suits me. Dove Moment over here please.
In jest, Harvey and I pretended to escape to a storeroom and came back in all breathless and exhausted like we'd had time to do anything but turn around and come back out. It was a funny schtick and when I turned to the group to say I felt like I was in a dream and soon I was going to wake up, I really meant it. You know those people on game shows that win the jackpot and can't think of what to say? That was kind of me. I got a little floaty. I felt a little dreamy.
The funniest thing is this:
When I moved from Maui to Whistler Canada, I produced convention shows as well as acting and singing in them. I hired people like Harvey to be atmosphere. Not exactly like Harvey because he's totally unique and quite famous from what I can gather. I hired starving actors.
This was my life in both Maui and Whistler for twenty years. Last weekend, before my photo shoot I'd watched Harvey work the crowd graciously, as The Killion Group took photos of him with all the women who lined up. He gave just enough of himself to make each woman feel special, but not too much to be unprofessional. I was intrigued. From an anthropological standpoint, you understand.
At The Killion Group workshop, I almost didn't sit in the front row because Harvey was already sitting there, but I have a thing about committing to being present and not lurking near the back like I might sneak out. I sat in the front row, a few seats down from Harvey and I have to admit, he has a physical presence that is formidable. He's a big guy. 6'4". Loads of pounds of muscle and hair but his face is so classically handsome, you can't help but stare. Apparently he was a skinny kid and more so when he graduated high school. This makes him more interesting. Especially because I graduated as a hefty girl.
If you've ever Googled Harvey Stables, and I did after having a great conversation with him, you'd see that he thought he'd go into police work, went to college, played football professionally for Montreal and the B.C. Lions, was a firefighter and is now a full time trainer/entrepreneur. He teaches people to keep fit and stay trim. He works closely with charities to raise money and has a soft spot in his heart for the Breast Cancer cause. I hope I'm not bursting anyone's bubble by saying he's married to an accomplished photographer and they have two young boys who play football. Guess what? He's a real person.
After the workshop when I was selling books at the Bookfair, Harvey was still on the clock but walking around in jeans, T-shirt and a ball cap that had the sticker SLUT on it, most likely given to him by one of the SLUT women walking around the conference. Pretty sure it was an acronym. I waved to him shyly and he wandered over. You know that feeling when you see the guy you like and your heart jumps? It was kind of like that but more like "oh there's the gorgeous man who had to pretend to do a romantic scene with me." Turns out Harvey and I have more in common than posing for The Killion Group's mock photo shoot. I asked if he was Canadian. Yes, he is. I said I'm from Belleville, Ontario. He said "Me too."
Now, if you've ever been to Belleville, and I'm sure you haven't, it's rare to meet anyone else who knows where that is. Belleville is a small town of 35,000 on Lake Ontario, 100 miles east of Toronto, tucked into a picturesque bay, full of Victorian houses and friendly people. So you might understand when I say I laughed and said "Yea, right." Turns out Harvey went to Quinte High School, I went to rival, Moira Secondary School. We both went to the Quinte mall, Zwick's Island, Reid's Dairy. We talked Belleville for a while, both of us stopping to periodically say "Wow! Belleville!"
I'm older and I could have babysat him but still, Belleville! I never meet anyone from my small hometown. And, we both have spouses who are cancer survivors.
After promising to be Facebook friends, it was time to move on for the infamous Harvey Stables so I pressed my book in his extremely large hands and bid him goodbye.
Harvey, if you are reading this post I want you to know that you did a fine job at the conference on Saturday and you have convinced at least one writer to consider having a gorgeous man cover for her book. Someone who never would have thought to do that. Never. Knowing you did a San Diego beach photo shoot recently, I'm thinking I need to write a story about a hero who battles bad guys in the surf who are trying to steal a woman's puff ball hat.
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Kim Hornsby is the Award Winning Author of THE DREAM JUMPER'S PROMISE as well as an Amazon Bestselling Author and Conference Speaker on Self Confidence.