Blast from the Past Part I: Ride ‘Em!

Hope_bull_4Deadlines kept me planted in my writer’s chair during this year’s Romance Writers of America national conference held in Atlanta. Joining in the fun vicariously via Facebook and Twitter–the Literacy Book Fair, the hotel meetups (translation: lobby bar), and of course the Awards Gala–sparked my memory to fond recollections of previous conferences.

At the 2007 RWA held in Dallas, I was invited to be filmed with Kathryn Caskie and a few others as part of fellow author Sophia Nash’s “Girls Gone Wild” segment for Romance Novel TV. Our ladies’ night began with a limo ride from the hotel to Cowboy Red River Saloon. There, before rolling cameras, we received a quick-and dirty lesson in the Texas two-step courtesy of two Stetson wearing local swains, downed jalapeno margaritas, and braved the mechanical bull ride. (Note: imbibing the margaritaย before the bull ride was absolutely essential. Also note: save margarita #2 for celebrating your successful or not so successful descent). Think Debra Winger in “Urban Cowboy” only–hint–you can adjust the speed. Not only did I keep my seat for the full time, but I had so much fun that I just may take a repeat ride. Maybe. Possibly. We’ll see…

For now, check out these fun photos and Tips for How to Ride a Mechanical Bull. Most double as excellent advice for staying the course in life, too. I particularly like: Remember to Wear Pants.

Wise words…

And please check back here on my blog for additional Blast from the Past posts as well as giveaways, book updates and my all ’round good news–the only kind I post.

Hope

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Puttin’ on the Ritz

Okay, so I sent out a Nag-O-Gram to all my nearest and dearest conference buddies and slowly but surely (and for sure, slowly) photos from last week’s Romance Writers of America Conference in San Francisco are beginning to t-r-i-c-k-l-e in.
The above photo was taken at a pre-Awards cocktail party on Saturday night. From left to right are authors Sophia Nash, Elaine Fox, Kathryn Caskie, and some brunette chic in pewter who apparently didn’t get the memo on the basic black cocktail attire.
Oh, yeah, right, she’s me. ๐Ÿ˜‰
I’ll be posting pics daily, at least that’s my plan, so please don’t be a stranger.
Hope

Back from San Francisco

Hi Everyone,

I’m jet-lagged but grinning big time after wrapping up yet another fabulous Romance Writers of America Conference. This year’s setting was San Francisco, one of my favorite US cities, second only to–you guessed it–New York. As always the conference was a fabulous forum for mixing business with yes, pure fun.

Determined to log in a little sightseeing, I got into San Francisco on Tuesday and hooked up with my posse of conference buds, including the lovely and prolific Kathryn Caskie, for a fortifying seafood dinner at Scoma’s in Fisherman’s Wharf. Set back from the main drag on Pier 47, Scoma’s bills itself as offering San Francisco’s freshest seafood. The cracked Dungeoness Crab was to die for as was the Lobster Thermidor and Lobster Newburg. I know because I had them all!

The conference officially kicked off on Wednesday night with the annual charity literacy autographing. Hundreds of romance authors from Nora Roberts to Julia Quinn to yes, Yours Truly packed the SF Marriott’s grand ballroom to sign our latest releases and chat with readers and the press.

The Harlequin Party on Friday was held at the ever elegant Four Seasons Hotel. In between fortifying forays to the food stations for an array of Asian dumplings, succulent cheeses, and completely calorie-free desserts (yeah, right)–hey, a girl’s gotta keep up her strength–I shook my booty and ground my groove thing to the 80’s tunes rocking the house.

On Saturday romantic suspense author, Terri Ridgell and I gave our workshop on Tracking Trends, Fording the Future. To the strappy souls who turned out for us despite the 4:30-5:30 time slot, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

All that talking turned out to be thirsty work. After whetting my whistle with some lovely champagne at an awards pre-party, it was time to settle down to the Awards Ceremony emceed this year by best-selling author, Suzanne Brockman. In addition to doing a bang-up job keeping we attendees rolling in the aisles with laughter–and the program rolling along right on schedule–Suzanne is well, a pretty cool chick. You’ve got to hand it to a woman who accessorizes a floor-length ballgown with…cowboy boots.

Sunday morning was time to pack in the razzle dazzle and come back to home and yes, “reality.” Now that I’m back, my first official action item (okay, second) is to announce my July contest winners, so please check back tomorrow (Tuesday) for details on the latest three lucky ladies (or gentlemen, as the case may be). The grand prize includes a title from bestseller Monica McCarty’s Highlander series.

Finally, to all my shutterbug buddies who also attended the conference–and yes,I know not only who you are but where to find you–this stands as my official shout out. All those group photos you made me mug for, and which I valiantly worked not to ruin by blinking, send ’em on. I’ll be posting the images as they trickle–make that rush–in. In the meantime…

Happy Monday,

Hope

Latest Special Contest Winner


Congratulations to Janice M of Virginia Beach, VA, who correctly answered my contest question regarding the color of Lady Kate’s eyes in Untamed: amber. Janice’s prize is a signed copy of Kathryn Caskie’s latest release, How to Seduce a Duke.

The winners of my final March special contest and grand prize will be drawn on March 30th, so if you haven’t yet entered, please take a moment and do. Like one state lottery slogan says, “You gotta play to win.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hope

Congratulations to My First Semi-Contest Winner

Congratulations to Deb H of Victor, IA, my first “semi-contest” winner. Deb’s fabulous prize is Julia Quinn’s On The Way to the Wedding. Way to go, Deb!

For those of you who didn’t win this time ’round, better luck next time–literally. My second semi-winner, to be drawn on March 11, will win How to Seduce a Duke by the incomparable Kathryn Caskie.

Welcome to Fabulous February–and Marvelous March


Hi Everyone,

To celebrate February, the official Month of Love, as well as the release of Untamed, my “Men of Roxbury House” trilogy finale, I’m running a *series* of very special contests through the end of March–with a little help from my friends. Along with my book, you’ll have the opportunity to win the latest romance reads from Julia Quinn, Kathryn Caskie, and Eloisa James. Click over to my contest page for details on how to enter–and win.

Wishing you a February filled with (chocolate) kisses,

Hope

Back from RWA in Dallas…


Hi All,

I’m finally rested up from the Romance Writers of America Conference held in Dallas and ready to dish. The conference kicked off on Wednesday evening with the Readers for Life Literacy autographing. Think 450 romance authors packed into the Hyatt’s grand salon signing their books and chatting up readers. That was enough to steam up even the most Arctic air conditioned of rooms.

Instead of my normal slinking to the hotel bar post-signing for vino and fried munchies, I joined fellow authors Kathryn Caskie and Sophia Nash on a out-of-hotel foray to Cowboy Red River, a “real live Texas cowboy bar” complete with mechanical bull. Romance Novel TV came along for the proverbial ride, film crew in tow. Courage bouyed by a very large and very strong Texas style Margarita, Yours Truly climbed aboard the about-to-be bucking beast. Maybe it was the tequila, maybe it was the white Stetson borrowed from a cute cowboy called Ray, or maybe it was just my stubborn Irish pride, who knows, but bumps and bruises aside, I managed to hold my seat for the full eight seconds. For those of you tempted to remark that eight seconds isn’t all that, I say this–Try It. ๐Ÿ˜‰

That was, of course, only the first of my four days in Dallas. Other highlights include dancing to “Love Shack” at the Harlequin Party on Friday night with about-to-be Rita winner, Julia Quinn, dishing with RNTV emcee Sophia Nash on “the red carpet” at the Saturday night Golden Heart and Rita Awards ceremony and gala, and sipping champagne with Kathryn Caskie, Nocturne author, Pam Poulsen, and romantic suspense writer, Terri Ridgell in the Hyatt lobby lounge while the rest of the hotel guests evacuated in response to a (false) fire alarm–think the orchestra playing on the deck in “Titanic.”

Okay, enuf about me. Anyone else go?

I’m sure I’m leaving out lots of fun times and events, but summarizing four action-packed and star-author studded days into a single post would make for one book length blog. That said, I hope you’ll check back for pictures from the conference to be posted. In the meantime…

Happy Trails,

๐Ÿ™‚ Hope

Back from Book Expo America…

Hi Everyone,

I’m back from Book Expo America. For those of you not familiar with BEA, it’s the U.S. answer to the London and Frankfurt Bookfairs and I do believe it’s even bigger — around 30,000 participants at this year’s event held at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan.

Big clue to the incredible vibe of this year’s event: the Expo was in New York City — now, can that *ever* be bad? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I went up on trusty ole Amtrak the night before expecting to have a good trip, a productive trip, a pleasant trip…

What I had was a *great* trip.

I launched my venture on Thursday evening with dinner a-deux with my good buddy, uber talented historical romance novelist, Kathryn Caskie. We chose Zagat top pic, Gotham Bar & Grill on 12th in The Village. Determined not to be idle, we mapped out our Expo plans over a lovely bottle of shriraz and top tier (aka yummy) fare of hard shell crabs (me) and filet (Kathy).

Friday was a “work” day. After a short waiting stint sipping designer H20 in the Green Room (and no, I didn’t see anyone terribly famous, more’s the pity), I kicked off with a traditonal autographing for my new historical romance release, Enslaved (Medallion press). Later, I had midday coffee talk with talented historical fiction author, Will Hutchison, and then an in-booth signing at the Harlequin booth during “Sexy Hour” with Cara Summers and bestselling author, Carly Phillips.

But there’s more…

That night, Kathryn Caskie (Kathy to me) and our good buddy, historical romance author, Sophia Nash, met up at New York’s famous Webster Hall for The Rock Bottom Remainders “Still Younger than Keith” charity concert. At the VIP reception to kick off the concert, we clinked glasses with literati heavyweights Mitch Albom, Frank McCourt, Amy Tan, Stephen King, and my personal fav, humor columnist turned children’s author, Dave Barry. If you have two ticks, check out our candid pics on my Snapshots page. And yes, consider the rumor confirmed, Dave Barry really did pronounce the three of us “hot.” I believe the word “babes” was also used,” but well, I don’t want to get anyone in trouble at home. ๐Ÿ˜‰

As you may expect, all this autographing and gladhanding can really wear a woman down. Fortunately, I got to unwind on Saturday evening at the Harlequin party held at a swank Midtown club. Harlequin always does it right and this year’s fete was no exception. Guests were greeted at the door with champagne and chocolates and the night got even better from there. Over canapes and champagne (yes, more), I caught up with authors Jane Porter (“Flirting with Forty”), Candice Poarch, and Rebecca York as well as had the opportunity to say thank you to Harlequin’s talented and hardworking editorial, marketing and sales staff.

Come Sunday, all this nose-to-the-grindstone hard work was really taking its toll. The chocolate consumption alone had me at “sixes and sevens” as Sophia might say in one of her Regency-set historicals. I wound down with a signing of The Haunting in the Romance Writers of America booth at BEA along with Niki Burnham (“Goddess Games”) and Silhouette author, Anna DePalo.

A few days of post-Expo R&R in the West Village set me to rights. Come mid-week, I was homebound on that Amtrak train, maybe not exactly fresh as a daisy but certainly touting a big ole smile.

Okay, so enuf about me. Anybody else go to BEA? As they say, inquiring minds…

Hope