New York, New York

I feel like I’ve been traveling for weeks, but in reality it was only for two weeks. First up, I went to the Caribbean and took a cruise with the family. Then I came home for three days before boarding a plane again and heading to New York City for the PASIC conference. I met fellow Presents author Jennie Lucas in the airport (we’ve timed our flights that way twice now, and fortunately it’s worked both times) and we shared a car into the city. By the time we got to the hotel, I had only minutes to change for the industry reception taking place at Sardi’s later that evening. Not because we were late, but because I was meeting my agent first and going over to the reception with her.

So I mad-dashed upstairs, did a quick freshen up, ditched the travel clothes, and slid into a black sheath and sparkly Steve Madden heels. Back down to the lounge where I met my agent and had drinks and conversation for an hour, then off to the reception a block and a half away. Later, after the reception, Jennie and I changed and headed out into Times Square for a quick tourist moment. Here I am enjoying the sights.

I love New York, and I regretted that I hadn’t arranged to stay longer. I’m a bit of a Broadway junkie now. I’d love to just spend a week going to shows, but alas there was no time. The conference was two full days of information so good that my head is still spinning from it all. But I did manage to have a fun time with my fellow authors. For instance, here’s a group of us running to the Shake Shack for a quick lunch. The restaurant was so crowded we took the food back to the conference room and had a picnic there.

From L to R is Jessa Slade, Angie Stanton, Jenna Black, Moi, Jennie Lucas, and Erin Kellison. Laurie London took the photograph.

Finally, on Saturday evening, several of us got together for dinner and then went to see Alan Rickman starring in Seminar, a play about writers. Here I am along with Jennie and Laurie London at Cafe Un Deux Trois.

Alan was lovely, as usual, with that gorgeous voice of his, and the play was very interesting. Afterward, we took one last look at Times Square, and then it was off to bed for early flights the next morning. I was at the airport by 7 a.m. and home by about 1:30 that afternoon. I’m already plotting another trip to New York so I can see more shows (Ricky Martin in Evita!) and eat more fabulous meals that aren’t from chain restaurants.

Finally, if I have a takeaway thought from the conference (for writers), it’s this: the times, they are a-changin’. Educate yourself. You can no longer rely on things being done the way they’ve always been done. Educate yourself.

Good News and Girls’ Weekends

Hey, y’all! It’s been a crazy few weeks around here. First, there was a book due. Then there were revisions due. And then I spent a week on-board the Celebrity Solstice with my hubby, parents, and in-laws. Tomorrow, I’m off for New York City and a lovely girls’ weekend with the fabulous Jennie Lucas. Well, it’s not strictly a girls’ weekend as we are also attending a conference, but Jennie and I always have such a fabulous time together that it’ll be like we took off for a girls’ weekend.

One of the best things about selling to Harlequin Presents is gaining some of the coolest friends ever. I truly love getting together with my fellow authors. We always have such fun! Though it’ll just be me and Jennie in NYC, we’ll still have a good time — and in July, when we all converge on Anaheim for the RWA conference, the fun will be even bigger and better as the other authors join us!

So while I reel with the fact I have to pack again (I just unpacked on Sunday!), I wanted to share some good news I got about Strangers in the Desert while I was in the Caribbean last week. First, Morgan and Whitney dish about the book at the RT Book Reviews website — and I am honored they liked it!

Secondly, I learned that this story was nominated for RT’s March Seal of Excellence! It didn’t win, but it was the only Harlequin category romance to be nominated. I am so thrilled with this honor! This book is special to me, and I’m very humbled by the reception it’s been getting from readers. Thank you so much for loving this book and telling your friends about it!

And now I’m off to sort through my clothes and pack weather-appropriate gear for NY. I’m thinking the tank tops and Capri pants from last week won’t cut it.

I leave you with a picture of me on the ship in St. Thomas. That superyacht in the background is something one of my heroes would own. πŸ˜‰

New York City RWA recap

It’s been a while since I’ve posted! But I’ve been so darned busy you wouldn’t believe. I finished a book, revised it, and had it accepted. You can read about Adan Al Dhakir’s brother Malik sometime next spring (Adan is from Strangers in the Desert, my May UK release). In the meantime, I’m working on another book that’s due in about 2 weeks. And in between all that, I sandwiched in the RWA conference in New York City.

It was my first ever visit to the Big Apple — and I’m in love! What a city! I could live there if only I wrote a mega-blockbuster and could afford to have an apartment overlooking Central Park or a townhouse in Greenwich Village. Alas, I think I’m going to have to remain satisfied with the occasional visit. πŸ˜‰

The Romance Writers of America conference was fabulous, as always. Not that I actually make it to any workshops these days. Before I was published, I loved workshops and hit as many as I could. Now, I seem to be booked up with editor meetings, agent meetings, meeting meetings, author get togethers, etc. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but the result is that unless I’m teaching the workshop, I don’t go to any. But I do buy the conference recordings so I get to enjoy the workshops later!

This year, I went a day early so that fabulous Presents author Jennie Lucas and I could go on a Greenwich Village food tour on Monday. We ate our way across Greenwich Village, I assure you. It was wonderful! And I even managed to buy two pairs of shoes. πŸ˜‰ That night, I went to dinner with several of the Presents authors as well as Harlequin Historical author Michelle Willingham and Desire author Day LeClaire. Another fabulous evening!

The next day, I went on a whirlwind tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and had brunch at author Kate Hewitt’s lovely apartment. Later, I met with my editor. That night was the Literacy Signing, where I saw so many readers and friends — and got to meet Jackie Hussein who took the train up from DC for the event, and Pearl from Pearl’s World of Romance, who came all the way from Holland and also brought a Dutch copy of one of my books! After the signing, Sandra Marton held her famous pizza party for Presents authors. We ate pizza, drank wine, and talked and laughed. So much fun!

Wednesday was a meet and greet with the editors, lunch, and then tea at the Plaza hosted by the always elegant Jane Porter. Spent a lovely afternoon with Sandra Marton, Janette Kenny, Susan Stephens, and Carole Mortimer chatting in the concierge lounge, and then it was the PASIC party at the Algonquin hotel. Finished up the evening in the rotating bar above the Marriott.

The next day, Thursday, started with a meeting with my agent, the Presents author lunch (in which several of us commandeered a limousine to take us to the bistro) and then an agency party in a very posh suite on the 44th floor of the Marriott! Later that night was the Harlequin Black & White ball at the Waldorf Astoria’s very famous Starlight Ballroom. I felt like quite the star to be treated so wonderfully! And I brought home some of the white feathers that decorated the vases in the room. Of course I danced my fool head off, and shouted lyrics until I was practically hoarse — but there’s nothing like it and I’m always glad, even with aching thighs and burning calves the next day.

Friday was slightly more subdued. A Harlequin authors’ forum, lunch with Kimberly Lang and Faygie Levy (of RT magazine), then cocktails in the bar with several friends. My husband arrived that afternoon and managed to entertain himself for the entire evening since I dashed up to our room and changed for the RITA/GH ceremony and told him I wouldn’t be back for a while. It ended up being after 1:00 in the morning when I got to our room, and he was passed out asleep.

Hard to believe the conference went by so fast, but it did. Everyone was leaving the hotel on Saturday when my husband and I were gearing up to go touring New York City. We had a blast for 3 whole days before returning home yesterday. The fireworks on the 4th were incredible. We had a full view from our room on the 42nd floor. Six simultaneous displays going off over the Hudson River. Fabulous!

And that was my week in New York!

Times Square

Carole Mortimer, me, Sharon Kendrick

New York skyline from top of the Met

Sandra Marton, me, Caitlin Crews

Times Square

The Hubby and me on the Staten Island Ferry

NYC skyline from our room

Staten Island Ferry and the Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty

Just a few minutes before the fireworks begin!

Fireworks over the Hudson!

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!

Have just returned from London

And I had such a marvelous time! As soon as I download pics, I’ll put some up, but for now you can read a bit about the AMBA luncheon and see a pic of me at other sites.

First, Kate Walker, who is much more organized than I. She had her post up so quickly! Read about some of what we did here.

And then Kate Hardy, who I just met for the first time, posted a pic of us together! She also took pictures of the luncheon food, which I totally forgot to do. I took pictures of other food I ate while in London, but forgot this particular meal. You can read about Kate’s AMBA adventure here.