Friday, October 29, 2010

Finding Me

I'm less than two weeks away from the release of my first-ever holiday romance, Miracle Baby, and I'm excited for so many reasons...

First, I love this story. Maggie Monroe is reeling from the death of her beloved husband and infant daughter ten months earlier. And while each day without them has been hard, the holidays (with all their hopes and dreams) are a million times worse. She tries to put up her tree, tries to decorate, but it's simply too painful. Rory O'Brien is a carpenter in the inn where Maggie has fled to heal. Drawn to the light he's convinced is buried somewhere inside Maggie, he sets about the task of helping her live life. And he does it, by granting wishes--wishes she never even realized she had. It's a beautiful story about second chances (for both of them) and Maggie's journey toward living a life she wasn't sure she even wanted anymore.

As the release date for this book grows closer, I find myself hoping (and praying) that people will love this story as much as I do. I'm hoping, too, that it gives people hope. Because we could all use a little bit of that, couldn't we?
But there's another reason I'm excited for the release of Miracle Baby. You see, while I haven't experienced the kind of loss Maggie has, I know what it's like to try and figure out your life--to find out what excites and motivates you.

Sure, I know I love to write. That's been a constant since I was ten. But, beyond that, I'm at a point in life (as sad as it sounds) where I'm not sure what I like to do. I know what I enjoy doing with my kids...but me? That's not quite so clear.

So, in the absence of a Rory of my own (although my own special person is pretty great), I'm trying to figure that out.

I know I like to take long walks outside. I know I'd like to learn to rock climb. I know I love to wander in bookstores and read for hours. But there has to be more.

The key is finding it.

So tell me, when you have time for yourself, what do you like to do?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Little Help From Your Friends

I just got back from the New Jersey Romance Writers annual conference, Put Your Heart in a Book. As usual, it was a ton of fun. There were wonderful workshops, great conversations about writing and lots of laughter. My friend, Sarah White, and I presented our workshop on flawed heroes again. It went well, despite our spate of nerves when Sharon Sala, keynote speaker for the conference, sat in on it.

Giving a workshop has been a real learning experience for me. As the saying goes: I know what I know. Putting it into a coherent format and imparting it to others is the toughest. But when I see heads nodding and maybe an “aha” expression on someone’s face, it’s the greatest feeling. Better still is the question and answer session at the end where we get to help people figure out some of the “hard parts” to their stories. Because everyone needs help with the hard parts. Conferences are a great place to get that help, whether it’s via a workshop or a conversation with a new friend about your latest work-in-progress.

Oh, and I have to give a shout-out to my fellow Maryland Romance Writers. Of the five chapter-mates that I knew attending the conference, two had finalled in the Put Your Heart in a Book contest, and two had finalled in the Gold Leaf contest. Better still, Christie Kelley won the Gold Leaf for her historical romance, Something Scandalous, and Marta Bliese won Put Your Heart in a Book for her unpub’d paranormal, Hangman. Yea!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Break out the Bubbly!

This week I got my first glimpse of the cover of The Wedding Bargain, my January 2011 book...and I love it...which is always cause for celebration!

I was especially pleased that they included the champagne flutes on the cover because this book is set in San Francisco and Michael, the hero, runs his family’s winery.

Of course writing a book about a winery required a little research, so last New Year’s Eve my husband and I went on a wine country tour in Napa Valley.

The first stop on the tour was Domaine Chandon, a winery that produces sparkling wines.

The park-like grounds are spectacular and the winery is huge.

Yes, all these vats are brimming with bubbly.

After a quick tour and brief explanation of the traditional method for making champagne, we were treated to a tasting on the terrace, which was decorated for a New Year’s Eve party that evening. A perfect way to ring in 2010, even though it wasn’t quite noon.

Which brings me to my favorite way to serve sparkling mimosas for brunch. For each mimosa, I use three parts chilled sparkling wine to one part chilled orange juice. Simply pour the wine into a champagne flute, top with orange juice and serve. Or, for a fresh twist on this classic favorite, replace the orange juice with pomegranate juice. Delicious!

Virgin mimosas are every bit as festive. Simply replace the sparkling wine with chilled ginger ale, lemon-lime soda or tonic water.

And as always, if you drink, don’t drive. If you’re pregnant, please don’t drink at all.


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