Luncheoning with Julia London

Though I am completely mired in getting this book finished in the next two weeks, I took a short break this weekend to attend my chapter's annual luncheon. Heart of Dixie puts on a fabulous luncheon, y'all! And I'm not just saying that because I have to. We have a huge ballroom, a sit down meal, and lots of prizes — not to mention fabulous guest speakers.

This year, Julia London was our speaker. Long before I was published, I was a Julia London fan. In fact, one of my favorite contemporaries of all time is a Julia London book: Beauty Queen. I love this book with a deep and abiding love! BQ was the second book in the Lear family trilogy — all the books were good — but something about BQ really resonated with me. Rebecca Lear, the former Miss Texas with no discernible skills, a young son, and a rich husband who divorced her and left her a mess, is just wonderful to see in action. You'd think it'd be hard to sympathize with a woman this beautiful, but in fact it really is easy because Julia makes this character so likeable. When Rebecca meets Matt Parrish — they have a misunderstanding over a quesadilla — things really get interesting.

I have hauled this book around the world, and when I realized Julia was coming to Huntsville, I took it down off the keeper shelf and carted it to the luncheon. Julia very graciously signed it for me — and I didn't realize it was out of print until she told me. This book should be available on the Kindle! Everyone should have a chance to read the fabulousness that is Beauty Queen!

Okay, so I got Julia to sign my book. We chatted for a bit, and then it was time for the doors to open. I shared a table with the most wonderful people! Lonnie Payne and his wife Tabetha have been coming to this event for 10 years. They were also accompanied by Heather Hart and her mother (the only lady whose name I didn't get!), and Patricia Lloyd (attending her 2nd luncheon) joined us as well. Rounding out the table were my mother and her friend, Margie.

We had a great lunch, and then it was time for the basket giveaways. When I went up to draw a winner for my basket, I drew Julia's name! I hope Julia likes Harlequin Presents. 🙂 My table won about 8 baskets between them, which was awesome. Apparently, Lonnie comes along because he has this knack of winning raffles. He doesn't read romance novels, but he supports his wife's love of them — and he won three baskets!

After the basket raffles, we had a book signing — and then several of us stayed and went to dinner later with Julia. It was a great day, and though I was completely worn out, I needed the break from this book. So now I'm back at work, but I'm glad I had that little bit of time away where I could chat with readers and other writers and have a generally great time. 🙂

With the peeps at my table

Julia London and me

Signing books

Vicarious travel

My hubby recently got to go on a business trip to Rome. Talk about jealous! I would have gone with him, but for two things: first, it was last minute and flights were more expensive; and, two, I carelessly let my passport lapse quite some time ago. 🙁

I've had a passport since I was seventeen, and it's always been current, but once we moved back to the States permanently, I didn't feel any sort of urgency to renew it when it finally expired. Duh. I mean I filled out the application, had it with the passport, and kept planning to go get photos so I could mail it. But I never would get around to the photo portion. Finally, last week while Hubby was enjoying himself in Rome, I went and got those photos and marched down to the Post Office. The next time he has to go to Europe on business, at least I'll have a passport! I may not be able to control the flight prices, but I've got half the equation covered now.

So, he was supposed to get back on Friday, but once he landed in Atlanta, he was stuck because of the snow. All flights to our neck of the woods were canceled, though we didn't have a bit of snow here. He had to stay overnight and drive back on Saturday. But, he brought me lovely presents!

Though I didn't get to go, I did get to do some vicarious travel though his photos. I've been to Rome before, but it's been a long time, so these pictures really brought it all back for me.

Ahh, the Coliseum. When I was there, it was over run with cats. Hubby says there aren't so many cats now. I don't want to know what happened to them. 🙁

Don't know precisely what it is, but it's pretty!

Recognize this from “Angels and Demons”?

Remnants of an aqueduct.

Would a trip to Rome be complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain?

No, this isn't Chicago. It's Atlanta. This isn't supposed to happen in Atlanta. It's the South! It's Hotlanta! Where did all this snow come from?

I enjoyed my vicarious trip to Rome, but a real trip would be even better. Then I could think up a to-die-for Roman hero, give him a spunky heroine, and plop them down in Rome. What fun! Speaking of heroes and heroines, I better get back to the current WIP. It's yucky and cold out, and we even have a little bit of snow on the ground, so it's a good time to dream. Too bad I picked snowy Russia as a setting. Brrrr!

Spring cleaning

Clearly, it isn't spring yet. But a recent “What Not to Wear” binge sent me to my closet, brimming with determination. Time to get rid of stuff. I have a bad habit of keeping things that no longer fit in the belief that if I just lose that last five or ten pounds, they'll fit again. Clinton and Stacy have made me realize that's not very good in practice.

I'm not done yet, but I've gotten rid of several things. Truthfully, I think more than half of the closet will go. And that's not because it's all too small, but because I don't actually wear most of it. I keep stuff thinking I'll wear it, but I somehow never do.

The beauty of this process is that it gives me a fabulous excuse to go shopping for new clothes. I wish I had that 5K that Clinton and Stacy hand over every episode, but if I spend that much on clothes, my husband will probably kill me. Guess I'll have to be reasonable. 🙄

Presents heroines often end up going on fabulous shopping sprees, don't they? I know I've written one spree, when Nico takes Lily to Paris, but my editor made me cut most of the shopping detail (darn it). But I love to read those sprees. Jennie Lucas wrote a great one not too long ago, and one of my favorites is in one of Jane Porter's sheikh books. I love the parade of clothes, the handbags, the shoes, the super-expensive price tags, and the enigmatic hero who stands by and basically says that money is no object.

It's not the money, though, it's the way he wants to clothe the heroine in beautiful things. It just gives me that little catch in my heart. Like the shopping scene in “Pretty Woman” when Richard Gere goes to the stores with Julia Roberts, after the shop girls wouldn't wait on her, and buys her all those gorgeous and swanky clothes. Oh swoon.

I know my hubby would buy me whatever I wanted if a) we could afford it and b) he didn't have to go shopping with me. But of course he's not a billionaire and I'm not a 20-something Twiggy who can wear anything and look fabulous in it. 😕

*If* I could go on that fantasy shopping trip, I'd hit the Christian Louboutin store for shoes, and then I'd go to Prada, Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Vera Wang, and etc. I'm not sure I'd know how to act when faced with those price tags, though. 😯

So if you could go on a fantasy shopping trip, what would you buy? Doesn't have to be clothes, btw. Cars, vacations, homes, whatever. What is your fantasy?

Weekend Workout

Friday, I mentioned doing some things this weekend that included shopping and the Farmer's Market. I also said something about relaxing.


Apparently, I failed to realize that all these things I wanted to do entailed going places, walking, lugging, doing things, etc. The upshot is that there was very little relaxing involved.

Though it WAS fun.

Weekend itinerary went something like this:

1. Meet friends and family at winebar Friday night. Laugh, talk, drink wine for a couple of hours.

2. Sat: wake up early, go to Starbucks for coffee and a breakfast sandwich.

3. Farmer's Market. Where Hubby proceeded to gag on goat cheese while I explained to the artisan that though his cheese was indeed excellent, my Darling Hubby just can't stand goat cheese — no matter how many herbs and spices are mixed in. I bought some, of course, and not just out of sympathy. I thought it was excellent.

4. Yard sale. It was impromptu, and no one was more surprised than I when Hubby pulled over. Unfortunately, there was nothing interesting. Except a typewriter. An actual typewriter! (Kids, see Google.)

5. Costco. Where Hubby proceeded to look grouchier and grouchier as I piled stuff into the cart. Apparently, “we need a few things” and “I haven't been shopping in a while” mean something different to him than to me. Although he perked up when we bought two whole chickens for him to put in the smoker.

6. Drop Hubby and groceries at home. Go to mall. Walk around for 3 hours, looking for things for my readers' luncheon giveaways, but only find stuff for me. Spend a very long time trying on clothes and shoes. Leave with a big shopping bag or two (in my defense, it was a SALE).

7. Back home. Grill out with Hubby.

8. Watch Blade Runner — never saw it before, very good, but I had weird dreams afterward.

10. We're up to Sunday now. (Exhausted yet?) Wake up, have breakfast and coffee at home. Play on computer for a bit.

11. We've invited my parents over for smoked chicken. This means the house, otherwise known as an official disaster area, must be cleaned and tidied. This takes a very long time, entails scrubbing and decluttering, and makes my back hurt.

12. Prepare side dishes while Hubby smokes chicken.

13. Did I mention laundry?

14. Crap, have to go to the store and get a couple of things. Most important: some live flowers to replace the dying ones on the mantel.

15. I. Am. So. Tired.

16. Dinner is practically done, parents arrive, we eat and talk and have a good time.

17. More laundry. Some wine. Bed.

Apparently, having fun is a lot of work! I'm exhausted from this weekend. Did you relax this weekend? Or did you find out, like me, that weekends can be a workout? What's your favorite thing to do to relax, or your favorite activity, during the weekend?

Monday Giveaway: Leave a comment to be entered for a copy of Jessica Anderson's Nightkeepers!

Lemonade Award Winner!

It's amazing how forgetful I can be sometimes! A couple of weeks ago or so, the lovely writers over at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales gave me a blog award. And I promptly forgot to post it! So, without further ado, here it is:

The Lemonade Award

This is for sites that show great attitude and/or gratitude! Rules for the award:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

And then they were nice enough to include THIS blog along with the likes of Paperback Writer and Murder She Writes. Wow, I am definitely honored!

So, I will nominate, in no particular order:

1. Lucy King

2. The Writing Playground

3. The Soapbox Queens

4. C.J. Redwine

5. Romance Writers on the Journey

6. Courtney Milan

7. Romance Bandits

8. Wet Noodle Posse

9. Tess Gerritsen

10. The Family Letter (not a writer, but a friend with a great attitude)


Tomorrow, I'm blogging at I Heart Presents about my one year anniversary of the winning Instant Seduction call! And Saturday I'll be blogging at the Romance Magicians site where I will begin to blog approximately every two weeks or so for the next few months. Hey, it gets lonely here all alone!

And please go check out the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog. My friend Carol Burnside is a member, and I'll be a Guest Chef at the end of July right before my book comes out. It's a great blog!