Home again!

Dear friends, it's been a very busy few weeks! Last week I was in Los Angeles for the RT Booklovers Convention — and what a fabulous time I had! Along with visiting Hollywood and the Walk of Fame, I went to the Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, and Beverly Hills. No trip to LA would be complete without a shopping excursion to Rodeo Drive, however.

Here's a photo of me with Kimberly Lang and (standing) Kira Sinclair as we enjoyed a lovely glass of wine and some snacks at an outdoor cafe on Rodeo Drive. Yes, we are dressed for touring rather than glammed up, but the cafe staff didn't seem to mind.

I have lots more pictures, and will try and share those very soon. Of course I came back to a deadline, and there's still one suitcase I haven't unpacked….

I had some good news while in California! Cavelli's Lost Heir and The Prince's Royal Concubine are both finalists in the Short Series Contemporary Category of the WisRWA's Write Touch Readers' Award! I am *very* excited about this news! And of course I keep pinching myself and wondering if it's true. Then there's the part of me that keeps whispering in that insidious voice that no one else entered…..

Writers, we are insecure balls of mush!

In other good news, my UK release Strangers in the Desert is sitting at #2 on the Mills & Boon bestseller list this week! And Heartless Rebel, part of the Bad Blood Collection, is also available and getting some good reader feedback! If you've come to my site looking for information about Heartless Rebel, I don't have a page for the book yet. It's on my To Do list! This book will be my November Harlequin Presents release, so it's definitely on my list of things to get done soon!

In the meantime, I have a book due very soon and another one by mid-July, so I'd better stop chatting and get to work. Hope you are all having a lovely day wherever you may be! We finally have gorgeous weather in Alabama, and I am enjoying it through the window. πŸ˜‰

Let me know what's up with you! I love hearing from you all…..

PS: The Devil's Heart is still available wherever books are sold! Harlequin made a poster of the cover for me for RT — I carried that thing back on two flights, and it made it home unscathed. I love it!

May UK cover

There's another new cover in the house! Woot, woot! This is for my May book in the UK, STRANGERS IN THE DESERT. I don't have a page here on the site yet, I don't even have a cover blurb — no idea what Mills & Boon have come up with to describe this story!

But the cover is *perfect*! The heroine has been living a Bohemian life at the beach, and she has wild blonde hair streaked with natural highlights. I think they got the hair on this model absolutely right.

And what can I say about the hero? Does he not just look delicious and sheiky?

I really, really love what Mills & Boon have done with the UK covers. I was hesitant at first, because I do kind of hate change and I liked the clinch just fine — but these, when they are right, are so VERY right. I'm a happy author right now. (Oh, except for those revisions I'm still working on…..) πŸ˜‰

Snowmageddon in Alabama

These pictures were taken a while ago now (Sunday night), but it was up to about 4 inches the last time I looked out the window — and still coming down. And while I know this cracks up the Yankees, it really does cripple the South when this happens. I do know how to drive in snow, having learned when I lived in Germany, but it's not so much the driving that does it. (Though that's part of it because most of these people have no training.)

It's the lack of snow removal equipment and proper tools for melting ice. They sand the bridges around here, which is just nuts. I don't know why they don't have a supply of salt or urea on hand, but they don't. Or maybe they salt/urea the heavily traveled areas and sand the side roads. Whatever, all I know is the last time they sanded the bridges, it was a joke.

We're expecting up to 10 inches they say. And that really is quite amazing for us. I just hope it melts really quick. Otherwise, we will be stuck in our houses for days. Schools are canceled, no work for Hubby, the city is shut down, and my Mojo Lunch with Kimberly Lang is postponed. This, dear friends, is a tragedy! We were going to the yummiest little bistro, darn it. Hopefully, we'll get to go later this week!

I think the snow is pretty, but I wish it would go away. It's not like in Germany where the snow came down and life kept on going anyway. No, here we're stuck. No lunches out, no runs to the post office, no impromptu shopping trips. No visiting with friends, unless they live next door and you can walk. I could walk to Kimberly's house, but it's a bit farther than next door and I'm not doing it. She's not coming here either. πŸ˜‰ Lunch is postponed for sure.

I suppose I'll start work on the next book! It's due in a couple of months, and I already have a great idea that's really making me think about it all the time. I have the hero and heroine, their core problem, and I'm really excited about it. I love it when that happens, when the idea takes over and begins to really speak to me. It doesn't mean the book will be easy to write, but I have hope it will come to me easier than others have.

And now I'm going to go bundle up and read for a while. It's cold, the snow is coming down, and I'm not going anywhere for a while. πŸ™‚ Hope you are safe and warm in your corner of the world, that you aren't snowed in, and that you've got a fabulous book to read and/or write!

UPDATE: Morning pictures of the snow!

The London Report – Part Two

My husband has been chastising me for not doing part two of my post. He's right, of course. I get so busy that the days just sort of slip by and I don't realize it's been a week. I ended on the evening before the Association of Mills & Boon Authors' luncheon. Now I'll tell you about the luncheon day.

Jennie and I slept in as long as we could. We were still suffering the kind of jetlag that makes you wake up in the middle of the night and not sleep for hours while it's dark. And, interesting note, but the building beside ours was an office building. When I woke up at 2AM, people were still working! Seriously. The building was mostly dark, but there were a few intrepid souls at their desks at that late hour. I have no idea what kind of business it was.

Anyway, Jennie and I got up and got ourselves dressed, then headed out on the Tube to the Charing Cross Hotel, where the luncheon was being held. I wore a nice dress and heels, but I admit to wearing flip flops until we reached the hotel. Then I pulled the shoes from my bag and transformed from short-ish to tall (4 inch heels will do that!). We climbed up the elegant staircase to the second floor where we could hear the sounds of women talking. There were so many authors gathered! And I met so many people I can't even remember them all. I met Natasha Oakley, Nina Harrington, Julia James, Kate Hardy, and Elizabeth Power, for instance. That was within the first few minutes — it becomes a blur after that. (Kate Hardy is my new best friend – she told me she loved The Devil's Heart, which made me want to follow her around pitifully and ask her to repeat it, but I refrained. TDH will be out in North America in April 2011, btw!) πŸ™‚

At noon, we sat down in our assigned places and had a lovely lunch. After lunch, we moved seats for dessert (or pudding, as they say over there). There were speeches. There was wine. There were pictures.

Here's a pic I snapped of two gorgeous ladies, Sharon Kendrick and India Grey. I'd met Sharon (in purple) in DC, but only met India the night before at the Presents dinner. Both women are so lovely and charming, aren't they? (Though Sharon did steal my coat. She set me in a panic when my coat was missing after lunch, but I figured someone had thought it was theirs; I just hoped they would bring it back. She did, of course, and we had a good laugh.)

Then I met Lucy King, the Feel the Heat winner (the competition immediately after Instant Seduction, which I won). Lucy looked gorgeous, and she has the most seductive speaking voice imaginable. Kind of like Kathleen Turner back in the day. πŸ˜‰

Meeting Lucy was fabulous, but I'm really thrilled with this next picture. Me and Sara Craven, who I'd met at dinner the night before. She is a wonderful, hilarious, amazing woman. I hope I'm half so interesting when I get to be her age.

And here's a reunion photo of me, Jennie, and Carole Mortimer, who I'd met for the first time in Orlando.

The luncheon lasted for hours, it seemed, and then we were off for a couple more hours before returning to the hotel for a champagne toast that Mills & Boon was giving us. Jennie and I walked over to Trafalgar Square, went book shopping, and meandered over to the hotel where Kate Walker and Michelle Reid were having several ladies to tea. We joined them for a while, and then it was back to the Charing Cross hotel for champagne.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur. I talked to so many people — and people I'd hoped to meet slipped away before I ever got to do so. I have to go back next year to meet the ones I missed! After champagne, several of us went out for pasta. Jennie, me, India, Heidi Rice, Abby Green, Fiona Harper — and I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, drat it. But we had so much fun. And I learned that the Trafalgar Square area of London is rocking no matter what time of night. Pubs are so busy that people are crammed on the sidewalks with their pints of lager or Guinness or whatever. No one seems to mind it either. That would never happen in America — liquor laws and all that.

But that's why I love to travel and see how other cultures do things. It's refreshing and eye-opening, and it makes the world so much more interesting than if we all did everything the same. Where have you gone lately that they did something differently? Doesn't have to be another country — could just be the next town. I'd love to hear about it!

More on the London trip, with more photos, soon. Yes, I swear it: soon.

And the winner of a signed backlist book from the last post is Jami! Jami, send me your details at lynn AT lynnrayeharris DOT com. πŸ™‚

The London Report – Part One

Finally, I am getting around to telling what happened during my trip to London for the Association of Mills & Boon Authors' luncheon! Fellow Presents author Jennie Lucas and I hatched a plan that worked perfectly. First, we planned our flights so we'd arrive and depart Heathrow within an hour of each other. Then we rented a flat with a gorgeous view of the Thames, Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and the Tate Modern. From our roof terrace, we could see the dome of St. Paul's — though we spent so much time doing so many wonderful and fascinating things that we never actually spent any time on the terrace. Ah well!

Here's the Globe at night from our flat, btw. There's also a tour boat in the foreground. πŸ™‚

The first night there, we had dinner at a restaurant where we sat at a window table and gazed out at this. Can you believe the view?!

Jennie and I were so tired, but we were determined to stay up as long as possible and go to bed at a decent UK hour. We sat here, eating, drinking wine, and talking about how tired we were and how glad we were to have finally arrived after such a long trip. Sitting with a view of St. Paul's was completely surreal, and just what we both needed to feel like we were on an adventure.

The next day (Wednesday) was our trip out to Richmond. I've posted elsewhere about our time at the Mills & Boon offices, so will skip on to other events!

Thursday morning, Jennie and I met up with Kate Walker and Abby Green and took a train to meet the fabulous Sharon Kendrick. Here's me and Jennie with the Winchester cathedral in the background.

And look at this marvelous lunch that Sharon cooked for us! It was absolutely delicious, and I can't tell you how wonderful it was to sit around a table with these women I admire so much and talk writing and books and life. It's like being admitted to an exclusive club that you've always wanted to be in. For those of you who adore Sharon's books, I got to see her writing room where she makes all that magic happen. πŸ™‚

After a great lunch and conversation, we caught the train back to London and headed back to our respective hotels/flats to prepare for the dinner that Kate and Michelle Reid were hosting for the Presents authors that night. I have no pictures of the evening, though I hope to get some from the others who promised to share!

We had a marvelous time, and I got to meet so many people for the first time. India Grey, Sara Craven, Michelle, Natalie Rivers, and Sarah Morgan to name a few. After dinner, the hotel gave us a private room where we were able to sit and chat until about midnight, at which time Jennie and I decided we were tired and needed to get back to our flat if we were going to be presentable for the luncheon the next day.

And that's it for Part 1 of my London trip! Soon, I'll be back with more photos and more adventures to share. πŸ™‚ Now tell me about an adventure you've been on lately! One lucky commenter will win a book!

RWA Conference Recap – Part 2

So where was I? I think I'm up to Thursday. Woke up bright and not too early, got dressed, and headed for the Mills & Boon meet & greet. This is where I got to talk to other authors, the editors, and some of the Harlequin executives. It only lasts an hour, but the hour flies — especially when I spent at least 20 minutes of it talking shoes with Shirley Jump. That woman is gorgeous, y'all — and she knows her shoes! Shirley and I could go shoe shopping anytime. πŸ™‚

I also typed an update for The Pink Heart Society into Michelle Styles's mini while there, and even managed to stay over into the next meet & greet that was hosted by some other Harlequin entity while I talked to familiar faces as they came in. I seriously didn't know I'd landed in another meeting. It was hilarious to realize I was there 20 minutes beyond the M&B time, but I quickly scooted off at that point.

Next came lunch and Nora Roberts's speech. First, our very own Carole Mortimer (Harlequin Presents author extraordinaire) got an award for her 100th book — though she's way beyond 100 now. The Presents authors gathered at a table close to hers to cheer her on. Then Nora took the stage and wowed everyone with her straight talk and her advice to “embrace the hard.” Writing is hard work. Publishing is hard work. It's never been easy and it never will be easy. To succeed, you have to embrace the hard. It was a fabulous speech. If you've never been to conference, I highly suggest that when you do go, you march straight to the always-scheduled “Chat with Nora Roberts” and soak in that woman's wisdom for an hour. Amazing lady and very inspiring.

After lunch came the wonderful, amazing, fabulous Presents tea hosted by Jane Porter. We went to the Grand Floridian resort, which looks like Churchill Downs to me, and sat in a beautiful tea room where they brought us sandwiches, tea, scones, and desserts. I was so full by the end of tea that I knew there was no way I would eat dinner later.

After tea, I met old friends in the lobby and chatted for a couple of hours before I had to change for a champagne party thrown by Carole. After the champagne party, I had another reception in another hotel and then the Harlequin PJ party where I talked to more people and finally met Wayne Jordan — who smells really, really good, y'all! I think Wayne thought I'd been tipping back the drinks, but I hadn't and I swear he smells wonderful. πŸ™‚

So, it's a mind-boggling schedule, isn't it? I was busy from the time I woke up until I went to bed that night — and, unfortunately, Janette and I decided that talking until 2 am was a good idea. Why, I don't know, because we both had to get up for the Harlequin booksigning early the next morning.

I still don't have a camera cord, but here are a few pictures that people have been kind enough to share with me.

From left: Kate Hewitt, Janette Kenny, and me at the meet and greet.

Sandra Marton, me, Kimberly Lang, and Jennie Lucas at Jane Porter's Presents tea

The whole gang at Jane's tea.

Have you ever been to high tea? Or have you ever been so scheduled that you don't even have a down moment to yourself? Let's talk conference, tea, or schedules — or whatever you want, really! And yes, I'm giving away more prizes — books, swag, and maybe even a tote bag. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Edited to add: The winner is Kathy Schindler! Kathy, the random number generator must have known all about your last minute conference issues, because your number popped right up! Email me with your address so I can get the books to you. lynn AT lynnrayeharris DOT com