Happy Holidays

In case you haven’t noticed how quiet this blog has been, I’ll admit it. My gadfly wings have been seriously clipped by the need to get some honest to goodness writing done. Still, you know what they say about all work and no play…

EKM and Moi looking very pleased with our holiday gift bags. Love those prezzies...
EKM and Moi looking very pleased with our holiday gift bags. Love those prezzies...

Fortunately I took time out to attend The Rebels of Romance holiday party at The Dove Parlour in the West Village. In addition to the co-hostesses, Liz Maverick and Marianne Mancusi, all the usual suspects turned out including Dorchester author Leanna Hieber, her editor, Chris Keesler, and Scandalous Women blogger extraordinaire, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon (AKA “EKM”). The Dove, which has appeared previously in this blog, is one of my favorite Manhattan venues–Victorian brothel meets Manhattan “secret” bar with cocktails like the Cherry Tart and, for the season, mulled wine. Then again, the holidays aren’t about a great venue or fab fashion wear though yeppers, everybody was certainly stylin’. Holidays are about spending time with the people (and pets!) we care about who care about us and remembering to be thankful for them as well as all the other blessings in our lives.

Per the pets, please don’t forget my Holiday Goodness Challenge. We’ve had several takers so far, but I still have copies of Vanquished to give out. Beyond that, homeless dogs and cats need our help this holiday season more than ever.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, or the Solstice…

Happy, happy & Merry, merry…


Weekend Wrap-Up

I’m coming off a solid weekend–seriously solid. Even better, it started early, on Thursday when I met up with fellow Harlequin author Wendy Etherington for drinks and then a Nascar-sponsored concert at the Hard Rock. Wendy writes for Harlequin’s Nascar-themed series, and she rolled into town to take part in the Nascar cross-promotional festivities, including a book signing. What I know about Nascar, about racing period, could fit into a thimble with room to spare. Fortunately for me Wendy is a fab teacher, and I’m a quick study. And having music mega-star Gavin DeGraw play a private concert for Nascar royalty and well, us in the Hard Rock’s auditorium while we stood stageside was well, way cool.

Gavin DeGraw at the Hard Rock.
Gavin DeGraw at the Hard Rock.

Next stop on the Fun Train: Kennedy’s, an iconic Midtown Irish pub and restaurant, for Romance Writers of America/NYC’s annual holiday brunch. Over eggs and mimosas, I caught up with Scandalous Woman and outgoing RWA/NYC prez, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, Dee Davis, and others, including one member’s adorable four-month old baby, Jack.

A quick refresh, including “costume” change, and then it was back out to the Upper West Side’s Dive Bar for bookseller buddy, Stacey Agdern’s birthday. The putin–a heap of fries layered with gravy and topped with lots of gloppy good melted cheese–was delish and the cosmo wasn’t bad, either.

EKM and Moi put on the glitz at The Dive Bar.
EKM and Moi put on the glitz at The Dive Bar.

I departed the Dive Bar with the Rebels of Romance, Liz Maverick and Marianne Mancusi amidst the season’s first snow. Even wearing open-toed platform pumps–what was I thinking?–I found myself getting caught up in Liz’s winter wonderland enthusiasm. Still, by the time we reached our next stop, The Brass Monkey in the uber trendy Meatpacking District, I was more than happy to settle inside, have a drink, and thaw.

Soon it was time to move on again to the signature event of the night, The Bowie Ball at Santos Party House in Tribeca. Named after glitter rock legend David Bowie, the ball is an homage to the 1980’s music and fashion scene. Between sets of classic 80’s dance tunes, we took in the stage show where drag queens, retro bands, and burlesque dancers literally rocked the house.

Today, Sunday, I dialed it down a notch and attended the New York Public Library’s holiday open house. The library is always lovely, but decked out in holiday splendor it was positively breathtaking. Face painting, puppet show, stilt walkers, and costumed actors kept kids of all ages thoroughly entertained. Music provided by groups such as the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and a Santa suited brass band put us all in the holiday spirit.

Holiday goodness at the New York Public Library.
Holiday goodness at the New York Public Library.

On the way home, I squeezed in some not-so-early Christmas shopping and then stopped in at one of my favorite restaurants for a glass of vino and a bowl of lobster bisque. Finally it was home again where hungry cats and neglected fictional characters awaited me.

What cool stuff did you do this weekend?

Merry merry, happy happy,


Blissed Out on the Buzz…

Winter’s here, I’m telling you, and for those of us who are solidly outdoor runners–I loathe treadmills–this whole plunging mercury thing makes running rather a challenge. On my last windchapped outing a few days ago, I came to grips with the cold (literally), hard fact that strappy just wasn’t cutting it. Running along the Hudson wasn’t going to happen again for me until spring, it just wasn’t, so I’d better come up with a seasonal alternative and fast.

For kicks, why not run up to Central Park, around said Park, and then back?

The Pond at Bryant Park.
Skaters enjoying The Pond at Bryant Park.

The deal buster in my plan was Midtown. To get to CP, you gotta go through–there. You see, I detest crowds–and yes I realize that sounds crazy coming from someone who moved to Manhattan on purpose even. But it’s true, which is why ordinarily I avoid Midtown like well, the proverbial plague. Problem was, I was desperate, jones-ing for that Runner’s High. Unfortunately, off-hours in the Big Apple are hard to come by. With the city decked out for the upcoming holidays, checking out Midtown wasn’t just my good idea. The sidewalks were thronged, three-deep, making me feel like I was in some sort of virtual reality pinball machine. At times, I just had to give up the ghost and walk it. So much for my much anticipated endorphin boost.

But, mes enfants, when given the lemons, sometimes it is best to make the lemonade, or in this case, the holiday lemon curd…

Rather than gnashing my teeth and vocalizing some very non-brotherly love type expletives every time my shoulders got bumped, which was a lot, I decided to dial it down and just go with it. Smell, if not the roses, then the vendor hotdogs and roasted chestnuts.

Manhattan decked out for the holidays is truly a sight to behold. Fortunately I had my trusty Blackberry tucked into my runner’s arm band and I used the camera of said BB to snap some photos.

First stop: The New York Public Library. After paying my respects to Patience and Fortitude, I ran up the library steps Rocky style just because I could. Duly oxygen deprived (hmm, perhaps source of aforementioned Runner’s High isn’t endorphins at all) I circled back behind to Bryant Park. Not much running there given the temporary buildings set up for winter but fortunately lots of good photo ops. There’s even a small skating rink called The Pond. After watching for a while, I think I like this one better than Rockefeller Center’s. Not as grand for sure but somehow it just seems more friendly, more approachable. Then again, maybe I’m influenced by the signage: “The Perfect Antidote to the 9 to 5.” I haven’t had a 9 to 5 job in years, thank goodness, but if I did, I’m sure I’d need an antidote.

Rockefeller Center. No Christmas tree yet but an angel and a fish fountain are almost as good.
Rockefeller Center. No Christmas tree yet but an angel and a fish fountain are almost as good.

And of course, since I was in the hood, I had to stop in at Rockefeller Center, which is yes, really quite spectacularly beautiful despite the proud dad who didn’t seem to understand why I objected to his learning-to-walk toddler stomping on my beloved Blackberry, which I’d set down on the wall–for like less than a minute.

Peace and love,


Congratulations, Contest Winners

Congratulations to Tracey T of Gassaway, WV, Karen H of Colorado Springs, CO, and Jessica P of Norman, OK who knew that in Every Breath You Take, Cole saw that the old Alex was still there from the glimmer in her eyes.

The three winners will each receive coverflat keepsakes for my Victorian-set historical, Untamed and TWO signed copies of Strokes at Midnight — my winter holiday Blaze — one for themselves and one inscribed to a person of the winner’s choosing, perfect for a sweet and easy holiday gift.

And if you didn’t win this time ’round, don’t despair. Check out my new contest, which just started yesterday.

Let the merry making begin…


The holidays: all pumped up

Foremost, to all of you who’ve called “time out” from the holiday bustle to email me nice notes on my December holiday book, Strokes of Midnight, thank you! Your kind words mean more to me than any critical praise. For those of you who missed my previous Christmas book for Harlequin Blaze, It’s A Wonderfully Sexy Life. “Don’t worry, be happy.” 😉 It may be long gone from brick-and-mortar bookstores, but you can still order the book online, including trusty ole amazon.com.

Fortunately Strokes of Midnight is a two-day read, leaving oodles of time for tackling all those other great books waiting to be read. (Christmas started out as Twelve Days, remember). My personal pick is Claire Cook’s Life’s A Beach. Claire is the talented author of Must Love Dogs as well as several other books celebrating not only romance but the quirky beauty of all our relationships. Life’s A Beach is chockful of romance, to be sure, but there’s also plenty of sister love-hate to go ’round as well as pets–you gotta love a heroine who names her cat “Boyfriend.”

You can read my “review” of Life’s A Beach at a wonderful new site/ezine: Writersarereaders.com.

P.S. Don’t forget…My special holiday co-contest with fabulous fellow Harlequin Blaze author, Cathy Yardley draws to a close this Monday, December 17th, so please check back for the announcement of winners. In the spirit of celebrating the charms of giving *and* receiving, each winner will receive two extra sets of books to give as gifts.

PPS. I can’t believe I left this out of my NYC posts. Check out the above photo of Strokes of Midnight (center), my New York-over-the-holidays book taken, yes, in New York over the holidays!

Live from New York…!!!

Hi All,

The famous Snow Flake on Fifth Avenue, the annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center (breathtaking!), the 75th year anniversary of the legendary Rockets, and Jack Frost nipping at…well, everything I “own”…Yes, you guessed it. I’m in the Big Apple soaking up the holiday vibe and walking the walk albeit in slightly more comfie shoes of my Strokes of Midnight heroine, romance novelist Becky Stone. So far I’ve skipped: a) the not so nice editorial news Becky receives at the book’s beginning (whew!), b) the totally medicinal martini she understandably quaffs afterward (replaced with a very good glass of shiraz), and c) the shoe-shopping splurge at Saks (drats!). I also haven’t managed to collide with any 6″4 blue-eyed blond-haired Max-like hunks on Avenue of the Americas–but hey, the trip’s not over yet. 😉

I hope you’ll stay tuned for the next update on my self-guided tour of the city at this most magical time of the year and please do look for Strokes of Midnight in brick-and-mortar and online bookstores.

Happy (Shoe) Shopping,


The Best Gift Ever

For many of us, the winter holiday season brings about an almost instant association with jam packed shopping malls, long, long checkout lines, and ballooning January credit card debt. Years ago when I was a college student, I worked a retail job at a Benetton clothing store in Towson, MD. Even after I left the local area to go off to graduate school, I would come home for the holidays and spend the break working in the store. In fact, for five consecutive years (count ’em–five) I worked the double shift from opening until closing on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday for good reason. Very good reason.

Spending the Christmas season in the retail trenches gave me a host of great war stories, several of which stick with me today, twenty years later. Like the frantic dad who brought his small daughter shopping for a present for his wife on Christmas Eve an hour before the mall was due to close. With the clock ticking, we were picking through the leavings of folded Italian sweaters when I suggested he might expedite the search by giving me some description of the target–I mean gift recipient. (Forget knowing such vitals as say, her actual size). When he only stared at me, I could see I was going to have take the lead.

“What color is her hair?” I asked in that patient but firm voice usually reserved for small children. Professionalism aside, I’d been on my feet for coming on ten solid hours sans break and young though I was, my high heel shod feet were beginning to swell.

After a moment’s hesitation, he looked me up and down and declared it was sort of like my shoulder-length chestnut brown locks. Okay, now we were getting somewhere! Then I asked, “What color are her eyes?” As it happened, I had a bunch of blue hued sweaters left in my badly dwindled inventory, and I was hoping I might have a match.

There was another pause, a l-o-n-g pause and then he looked down at his little daughter, his own dark eyes bulging, and asked, “What… what color are mommy’s eyes?”

“They’re BLUE, Daddy!” the child fairly shouted and then looked up at me with her own china blue eyes, presumably inherited from her mom. That look, I’ll never forget it. It fell somewhere between disappointment and downright disgust. I looked back at her and though I was a twenty-something and she was probably only around eight, we shared a moment of silent commiseration over the vageries of men.

But my winter retail gig didn’t end with December 25th, oh no. There followed a day even more dreaded by retail clerks everywhere than Black Friday. December 26th, otherwise known as The Day After Christmas. If the shopping days leading up to Christmas are about fantasy and infinite possibility, the days after the holiday are all about reality (and that would be cold, hard reality) and the limitations of material things to fill us up. The size 12 lady returning the size 2 sweater. The size 2 lady returning the size 12 sweater and both shocked and more than a littled miffed that the gift givers, in both cases the husband, seemed to know them so little, at least when it came to personal style.

Like Maggie in It’s A Wonderfully Sexy Life, I’m finding more and more that what I really want for Christmas or any other holiday doesn’t come inside a store box, no matter how exquisite the wrapping.

What was the best holiday gift you ever received? What was the worst? Or, if you’re so inclined to share, what is the gift for which you secretly or not so secretly yearn, the one you’ve never gotten, at least not yet?

Whatever holiday you celebrate during the winter months, I hope it’s joyous and filled with myriad reminders of the true magic of the season…



Welcome to the launch of my new and first-ever blog. It’s been a year of “firsts” for me personally and professionally. Per the latter, It’s A Wonderfully Sexy Life is my a) first ever contemporary, b) first ever Harlequin, c) first ever paranormal and d) first ever Christmas book.

And I’ve just finished my second paranormal for Harlequin’s Extreme Blaze line. The Haunting will hit bookstores, both brick-and-mortar as well as online, this April 2007. The book begins with my heroine, Dr. Maggie Holliday, discovering a 150-year-old diary buried behind some loose wallboard in the attic of her newly purchased historic home in the Fredericksburg, VA historic district where I’ve made my home coming on six years now.

Having just moved from an historic home that (amazingly!) resembles my heroine’s Victorian dream house, I’ve been struck by all the miscellaneous “stuff” you discover when you’re ramping up to pack. I’d always seen myself as a neat nick but the whole house purge in preparation for packing indicated otherwise. In The Haunting, Maggie finds the diary, which happens to have been penned by her previous Civil War era incarnation, Isabel Earnshaw.

What hidden treasures (or terrors) have you found when ramping up for a move? Maggie’s move from the Washington, DC area to Fredericksburg, VA went considerably more smoothly than mine did. What was your worst ever absolute nightmare move? Or, on the perkier side, what the best move you ever made and why?

Whether we get there by the short, smooth easy road or the long, prickly bramble-riddled one, it’s my personal belief that we’re all always exactly where we’re meant to be.

Here’s wishing you a safe, joyous kick-off to the winter holidays…