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All About Jane

A lot of writers have some very personal and some splashy and some just private ways of celebrating when a new book gets released. When Love Letters from a Duke hit the NY Times extended list, I celebrated by buying the espresso machine I’d been dying to own–a De Longhi Magnifica. I have to say that was the first time I’d ever done anything extravagant over one of my books. And I admit I felt really guilty about buying it (even at a steal on eBay) until I poured in the first pound of beans and it made me a cuppa in no time flat. Good espresso is funny like that. It just wipes out any guilt it comes across.

I have to admit to being rather tame and a bit of a milquetoast compared to my friend, Jane Porter. You see, she launched her new book, Odd Mom Out, last week and she did it in style. Jane loves to celebrate when she has a new book out, and so the first order of business was a launch party at the Bellevue B&N–which seemed appropriate since the book is set in the tony Medina neighborhood which is really in Bellevue, though the Medina residents tend to think of themselves as in a world in and of their own. The MMs (Medina Moms) were out in force, as there is a bit of an uproar that Jane has written a book about them. Personally, I think she describes them just right–(after all, Jane will confess to being one as well) and if they are offended over her portrayal of their overblown, quest for perfection lifestyles, then perhaps there is something to her writing. Okay, not perhaps, she’s right on.

Still, you have to find it ironic, that even in their snitty uproar, they queued up to buy Odd Mom Outin droves (I do believe competitive spending is an Olympic event in their world) and Jane sold over 150 books in about an hour. Go Jane!

But besides the staccato tap of angry designer shoes and the occasional ruffle of perfectly blown hair, there were also a whole bunch of Jane’s friends in the audience–fellow writers, old friends and the kind of moms–those of us who understand what it is to be an “odd” mom, who were there to applaud and celebrate with her, like Kelli Estes and Christina Arbini, here getting their books signed by Jane. Kelli and Christina are wonderful folks, aspiring writers who know how hard it is to publish, and always there to cheer on their fellow writers.

The party then moved to one of Jane’s favorite spots in Bellevue, Oobas, where Kelli and Christina forced me to drink a mojita. Twisted my arm. Got in my way as I made a bee-line for the bar and got a drink and some of Oobas great food. We ate and drank and chatted about writing and the upcoming Emerald City Conference, and agreed that Jane knows how to throw a party.

What sort of party would you throw for a book launch? Not a party girl–how would you celebrate?

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Another New Site

So if you are reading this from the new HarperCollins microsites, then you are a complete hipster and don’t need me to tell you what’s cool and hot. But if you found this the usual way, through my blog, then you’ve got to hop over and take a look at the Elizabeth Boyle microsite. Cool huh? I spent way too much time peaking into my fellow authors likes, favorite books, upcoming books and news bits. Believe me–this could get really addictive–in a fun, non caloric way.

So hopefully after you’ve spent most of the morning not working effectively using your time to look at all these fun sites, I hope you at least noticed the Browse Inside widgets on every author’s pages, and which I’ve installed over to the right=>=>=> in the sidebar so you can see what they look like. Okay, I wanted to see how easy they were to install in my sidebar. Hmmm. Cut. Paste. Oh, yeah, this is my kind of computer programming.

Here’s the really cool part–anyone can have that widget. You can cut and paste the code and have it on your site to give your friends and fellow readers a chance to browse around inside your newest favorite romance. Hopefully it will be Love Letters from a Duke, but if it isn’t, you might find another favorite from one of my fellow Avon historical authors listed down below and include it on your site. The idea being it gives you added content for your blog readers, on your MySpace page or alongside a review. And heck, it’s fun and easy. And no calories involved.

GIVEAWAY **** GIVEAWAY **** GIVEAWAY

Hopefully all my blathering about complex computer programming (remember: Cut. Paste.) hasn’t put you to sleep, but if it has you feeling drowsy, because after all Cut. Paste. is a lot of work on a Wednesday, this will wake you back up.

Just to show you how easy it is, I’m offering an incentive to try it out–the first 20 people who include this widget on their site will receive a free autographed book from yours truly. One of my backlist–you can pick from what I have in stock–will come to you once I’ve had a chance to take a look and make sure you’ve prominently displayed the Browse Inside widget to Love Letters from a Duke on your blog, website, review pages or MySpace page. So grab that code, launch it and let me know.

And if you like having it in your sidebar, consider another historical treasure from:

Victoria Alexander
Gayle Callen
Anna Campbell
Kathryn Caskie
Jacquie D’Alessandro
Suzanne Enoch
Laura Lee Guhrke
Lorraine Heath
Eloisa James
Sophie Jordan
Stephanie Laurens
Julie Anne Long
Margo Maguire
Anne Mallory
Cathy Maxwell
Teresa Medeiros
Sophia Nash
Jenna Petersen
Julia Quinn
Kathryn Smith
Melody Thomas

If anything, it is just fun to say to your friends, “I have a new widget on my site.” They’ll think you’re really cool, a hipster, or at the very least possibly quite rich from all your years of computer programming. Cut. Paste.

Did you try it out? What book can I send you??

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Girls' Night Out

Whenever anyone invites me over across the Sound for a Peninsula RWA Chapter function, if I can make it work to go, I go. Because the first thing I have to do is take a ferry ride. I love ferry boats–always have. There is just something so magical about driving onto a boat and sailing across Puget Sound.

Oh, I could drive around, but why? It takes the same length of time, but I spend half of it sitting in my car, with a perfectly good view of the water and can just sit back and leave the driving to a man in a snappy captain’s uniform. Now I am sure all the people who commute that way every day are shaking their heads at me, but I only do it every so often, so to me is a huge lark.

Friday I was off to Girls’ Night Out at the Kitsap Mall, where the Peninsula Chapter of RWA along with Barnes & Noble were holding a booksigning. Did I mention that I got to leave before the kids got out of school, spend the afternoon riding a ferry boat, and then hang out all night at a mall? Oh, life is good.

It got even better because I had a quickie dinner with fellow Avon author Suzanne MacPherson, where she had roses for me for my 2nd week showing on the NYT list. Love Letters from a Duke has climbed to #30. Then we went our separate ways as she was signing at Waldenbooks and I was off to B&N. Dueling booksignings as it were. But being friends, we sent people back and forth between the two. Believe me, there were plenty of people there for a whole battalion of romance authors.

But while she was next to the Disney store, I ended up looking at this all night:

The signing went like this:

Cherry Adair, every 10 minutes: I want some Rocky Road ice cream.

Me, the enabler to end all enablers: Go get some.

Cherry Adair, doing her best at sounding sincere: No, I shouldn’t.

Me, again enabling: Why shouldn’t you? Consider how hard you’ve worked handing out free bookmarks and signing your name. Those hardcovers are heavy lifting. You deserve Rocky Road ice cream. (Of course it is easy to encourage someone else to eat ice cream, while you determinely avoid said temptation when you have a half gallon of Tillamook Mudslide tucked away in your freezer at home.)

And I’m supposed to tell all of you that she resisted with the determination of a marine. That, and she mentioned something about how if I showed the picture of her cowering behind the table eating a large dish of said ice cream she’d hurt me. So instead you’ll have to do with a picture of me and Pat White (with Cherry and her alleged ice cream carefully edited out):

Now the funniest thing about the entire night, was the crowd of women. Never in my life have I seen so many pregnant women. And I mean PREGNANT. Like they should have had a OB on call at the customer service counter. The theories for this extraordinary phenom bounced back and forth down our signing table, until I did a little math and figured it out. Nine months ago, we all lost our power in that huge wind storm. In late December, when it was really cold. If you get my drift.

So between Cherry’s ice cream cravings, Pat’s fun sense of humor, and seeing other friends like Gerri Russell, it was a great Girls’ Night Out. And the ferry ride home in the dark, with the stars above and the lights twinkling from shore made it perfect. Sorry no pics of that. You’ll just have to imagine it.

What would be your perfect girls’ night out?

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Two more reasons to love Debbie . . . Okay, three . . .

I went to the PO yesterday and found this waiting for me. A wonderful little congratulations package from my favorite mentor and author, Debbie Macomber. Believe me, finding chocolate beside your VISA bill really takes the edge off of “OMG, did I really spend that much?!”

But this is just Debbie in a nutshell–or rather in a cardboard box with some pretty paper and ribbons–there to encourage, there to challenge and there to celebrate. She also put a little bit about me in her blog. She is the best sort of people! And it was especially wonderful yesterday because I found out that I am not only on the NY Times Extended for another week, but I climbed five spots to #30. That means a lot of nice people have been out there telling all their friends to buy my book, and they’ve gone out and done just that. Thanks to all of you–you are making this quite an unforgettable month for me.

So in honor of Debbie and all the people who surprise us with their support, let’s declare today: Do Something Unexpected and Nice for Someone Day. So here is my thought–do something really, really nice for a complete stranger. Buy coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks, let two cars into traffic, hold a door open for a mother with no arms left between the kids, groceries, purse and diaper bag, plug a meter. Or do something nice for someone you know who needs a pick me up, or for someone who could use a pat on the back and their accomplishments are going unnoticed. Might I suggest chocolate?  It makes me smile.

Then after you’ve been someone’s Friday hero, report back and inspire all of us with your niceness!  Think of it, if we all did something nice for someone and then they felt compelled to go out and do something spontaneously nice for someone else and then it kept paying forward . . . well, that would make it a great weekend for quite a lot of people.  I’m smiling already, are you?

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Readers are the best people

. . . bar none! And this readers’ group, from the Borders in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho are no exception! I just love these ladies–they’ve been kind and generous since my first book, and any chance I get, I go over to visit them. This was my third trip!

We all went out to dinner and got caught up on our favorite TV shows (House, Heroes, compared guilty pleasure reality shows) and got caught up–made a firm date to meet up again at the Rose City Readers’ Luncheon in April, then got down to the business at hand: romance novels. (This picture is of Kathy, me, Judith, Janet and Earlee at last year’s luncheon with all our basket booty! This is the second year in a row our table has scored more raffle baskets than a table has a right to. But do you see anyone complaining?)

The thing I love about these folks is that they really, really love romance novels. These are the sort of devoted fans who leave me in awe–because they know of what they speak. Led by Earlee (the lovely lady in the blue apron) they choose a book each month to read and discuss and debate, and then end their evening with suggestions for other books. This is where I am always left in the dust, because I have so little time to read, but I take their recommendations to heart and always find new authors. I walked out of there on cloud 9, because they had so many lovely things about Love Letters from a Duke–and of course, I let them, ok, encouraged them. But this time they were at odds over their October read and decided to find a new book. Ah, finally, a moment where I could suggest a book, offering one of my favs: Lara Adian’s wonderfully steamy, very shivery book, Kiss of Midnight. I hope they love it as much as I did.

Now in the romance section I met a really nice new-ish reader, Srae, who was there for her first romance event. She discovered romance a year ago and has been spending the last year catching up. Get this, she’s read 300 books in the last year!! How did she get hooked? Picked up Julia Quinn’s On The Way to The Wedding, not realizing it was a romance. Once she’d finished it, not only was she shocked to find out it was one of those books, but that she really loved it! We all laughed with her, and welcomed her to the club. I think by the time she reads a full 1000 books, someone ought to take a moment and teach her the secret handshake.

The really cool part of this trip was the perk that came along with it: a night at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, courtesy of Kathy Ackerman, one of the very fun ladies! I had traveled with my mom, so we arrived in our room to find champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us! We got there when it was dark, but left the curtains open and awoke to the most incredible view of Lake Coeur D’Alene. How spoiled is that? I’ll never be able to fob off Hotel 6 on mom ever again!  Thanks Kathy!  And Earlee!  And Janet!  And everyone over there who makes me feel so special.  You guys rock!!

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Thank you, Debbie Macomber!

Or maybe the title of this blog should be: The power of index cards. Or “hey, it works.”

A couple of years ago, Debbie Macomber spoke at the RWA Conference in Reno. She was inspiring (as always) and she challenged every one in the room to “dream big,” as she likes to say. She wanted all of us to write down our goals. The things we wanted to achieve in the next few years. The point being, that if we wrote them down, they would have a better chance of coming true.

To that end, she had put index cards on all the tables. And while all my fellow table mates scribbled down their goals, I sort of pushed my around me, like the leftover vegetables on my plate. My dreams were too much to ask for, too much to write down, and especially in front of a table of strangers. So after lunch, I stuffed my still blank index card in my purse and went on my merry way.

But that darn card kept poking me. Every time I dug into my purse for my key card, for money for a coffee, for a pen. There it was, taunting me, daring me to write down my goals. So a few hours later, while I was alone outside a workshop room, I had a few minutes to kill, and so I yanked out the card and a pen, and scribbled down my lofty goals:

1) Keynote a conference or luncheon

2) Make the NY Times bestseller list

3) Be profiled in People Magazine

4) Get promoted out of the Treasure line

5) Make RWA Honor Roll

Whew! I looked over the list, thought I was being a presumptuous little Irish bit, but that didn’t stop me from smiling, and safely stowing the index card inside my daytimer so I would have it to look at often.

Six weeks later, I crossed off the first item on my list when I got an email asking if I could keynote the Portland Chapter’s Readers Luncheon, an event that was so very near and dear to my heart. I mean, come on, six weeks later?   Then last Fall, I got a call from my agent, telling me I’d been promoted out of Treasure. Again, knock me over with a feather. I’m not exactly a humble person, but these were huge dreams to me, things I never thought I’d make in the next five years, let alone in six weeks or a year or so.

And last week, I was completely shocked to receive a call telling me that Love Letters from a Duke had made the New York Times Extended bestseller list. I literally cried as I crossed it off my list.

BTW, People Magazine–if you are out there, I’m still waiting.

So thank you, Debbie Macomber, for encouraging me to dream big, and thank you to all of you who bought the book, and through your praise and word of mouth, have turned it into a bestseller. But what I really love about this story, is who was #2 AND #20 on the list this week. Can you guess? Well, I hardly consider it coincidence that it was Debbie Macomber. Showing me the way once again. Bless you, Debbie!

So come on, dream big, pull out an index card and write down your goals. And if you are willing to share, post them in a comment–maybe there is some one else here with the same goal or who can help you with yours.

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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

As a romance author you learn quickly that you won’t always get the respect of the mainstream media, of all readers and booksellers and librarians. But the least you can expect is to have the respect of your family. And at the very least, the respect of your husband.

So the other day I was autographing a huge pile of coverflats and he comes and sits down with me.

Him: Why do you do that?

Me: Because people like autographed coverflats and such.

Him: Can I help?

Me, after the initial shock of him asking if he can help: Well, not exactly I have to sign them myself.

Then I launched into my litany on the importance of signing things myself so it is authentic and blah, blah, blah, thinking all the time he is listening intently to every word out of my mouth, until that is, I look over and see that he is indeed helping:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

 

And yes, to those of you wondering, I am still married to him.

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There's a world of romance out there . . .

And I always find it so thrilling when one of my books get translated into another language.

I’ve had books translated into Russian, German, French, Italian, Romanian, Norwegian, and several others and some have had very pretty covers–like this one, and others that were . . . well, bright and colorful, were the nicest things I could say about them.

But there is always that moment when I open the UPS package from my editor with my 6 copies of this foreign treasure, stare at the new cover, see my name (which is always reassuring) and scratch my head and say, “Huh? I wonder which book this is?”

Thank goodness they come with a cover letter (or as I call it, the cheat sheet) that tells all. Because then I would be in your shoes right now. So take the “huh?” test. Which book is this? And props to you if you also know the language. Sorry, you don’t get the cheat sheet.

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Oh, Scott Baio . . .

Where did we go wrong? I remember the first time I saw you. Across a crowded movie theater. I was young, so very young. The year was 1976, and you stepped onto the screen as Bugsy Malone. The mysterious, rakish sort of guy who could steal any romantically inclined girl’s heart. Mine especially. That was the year I gave up looking at blond haired guys. From then on, all my heroes had dark hair and a come hither smile. Still do.

For the most part, I stayed faithful to you (well, if you can excuse my Sting years then I’ll do my best to overlook those Charles in Charge years) and whenever I saw you on TV, I would smile indulgently remembering the first man who broke my heart from afar. Now I am afraid it is broken all over again.

You see, I recently watched your reality show, Scott Baio is 45 and Still Single. I shouldn’t have. Because at first I smiled to see you still looking good, healthy, and without a police blotter beneath your picture. Then I listened. Oh, how I wished I hadn’t.

Now, I’m not about to judge you for how you’ve lived your life, I can’t judge someone else for their choices, no more than I would want to be judged for mine. But quite honestly, I didn’t want to know all that about you. Sort of wish I could blot those 30 shocking minutes out of my mind and go back to more innocent memories of the young kid who made my heart beat wildly.

So after a few days of shuddering every time I thought of you, I knew there was only one solution. Only one way to get that sad, cringing bad taste out of my soul. I went out rented Bugsy Malone. Took the teasing from my husband about relieving my Scott Baio fantasies, and watched it with my kids. They loved it. And you know what, so did I. Perhaps we should just remember those good years and leave it at that. I know I will.

Okay, all you blog readers, now that I’ve bared my soul on my youthful crush gone bad, which guy did you have a crush on and then turned around broke your heart all over again years later?

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How to lose 105 pounds in just 2 days

Yes, you read that correctly and no, it isn’t spam. It’s the truth. I lost 105 pounds this week and let me tell you my weight loss secret:

Ship those kids back to school.

Now it took me two days because they go to 2 different schools, in two different systems. So Tuesday morning, in the blink of an eye, 55 pounds of “What’s for lunch today?” “When are we going to the pool?” “Can I have Patrick come to play?” “Why did Patrick’s parents go on vacation for two weeks?” “Why did they take Patrick?” “Why don’t we go on vacation for two weeks?” was out the door and on his way. 3rd graders, he informed me, DO NOT have their moms walk them to class on the first day. (No matter that he was going with his friend and his friend’s mom–he wasn’t going with HIS mom.) So that was the relatively painless phase of my 2 day weight loss program.

Then came Wednesday. New school. New teacher. Crappy awful temporary building. Mass confusion because of crappy, temporary building that is meant to house half the number of students they have shoehorned in. This is Matthew’s fourth school in four years–every time he gets used to the rules, boundaries and expectations, they move him. So here we are again, but this time faced with the mass confusion that comes when you move an entire school. I felt like saying to one of the other complaining parents, “Welcome to my world.” So into this melee, I drag Matthew and neither of us were amused. And while the weight fell off the day before in a barely noticeable fashion, these 50 pounds came off like ripping a large band aid off. And not quickly. So a meltdown, lots of tears, sobs and just plain old fashioned panic later, he was in the new class and I was sent packing. I’m not admitting to any of the above, at least not until I got to the car.

Then the miracle happened. The kids’ beloved Jessica, who has looked after them since Matthew was born, (really, truly, we’d adopt her if it was legal and not weird thing to do to a 20+ year old), well, she just graduated from college and is doing her student teaching. She was assigned to another school, but at the last minute was moved. So I get a text message as I get into the car, feeling like I’ve had the weight removed with a chainsaw and no anesthesia:

Been moved. To Matthew’s school. Will watch over him. Love, J

So I might have cried some more.

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