In Memoriam: Blake Snyder

Screenwriter Blake Snyder passed away suddenly on Tuesday, August 4th, and I’m struggling to put into words how it is I feel so sad, so personally touched by the loss of someone I knew so little.

Blake Snyder, Photo courtesy of
Blake Snyder. Photo courtesy of

But Blake was, is, that sort of being, a Light Bulb Being. Along with being super talented and successful, charismatic and funny, engaging and dare I say, wise, he had such a…light about him.

I met him at last year’s Romance Writers of America Conference in San Francisco. His mini workshop on adapting one’s romance novel into a screenplay unexpectedly and totally wowed me–and after sixteen years in this business, believe me, I am not easily wowed.

We corresponded occasionally by email. I was always amazed that someone who was such a…Name responded so promptly and so graciously. I think people, all people, just genuinely interested him.

I bought his book, Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need and was signed up for his two-day screenwriting workshop, which would have taken place next week here in New York City. When the email came through informing workshop registrants of his death, I was stunned. I still am.

What I also am is mindful, wholly mindful, of just how uncertain and yes, infinitely precious our lives are. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the so-so, it’s doesn’t matter, every moment counts. It’s life, our life, and I’m pledging to savor every single second of mine from here on.

Bon Voyage, Blake.


Reminiscences of San Francisco

Recently I headed to the West Coast and spent a week in San Francisco. I’ve visited San Francisco quite a few times, and while I’ve never exactly left my heart there, there is something about the city that beckons me back.

San Francisco's goodwill ambassadors, the sea lions hanging out at Fisherman's Wharf.
San Francisco's goodwill ambassadors: the sea lions call Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf home.

When I revisit a place, I like to mix cherished old experiences–in this case, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, and yes, the requisite ride on the cable cars–with fun, offbeat new ones.

Part of my “new” on this trip was a pit-stop to The Buena Vista, a pub on the cusp of Fisherman’s Wharf credited with bringing the Irish coffee to America. Their Irish coffee packs a punch worthy of the Emerald Isle, and bonus, if you drink it while it’s still hot, the whipped cream won’t melt before you’ve finished. The Buena Vista serves upwards of 2,000 Irish coffees a day and if you try one, you’ll see why.

Fountain at Ghiradelli Square.
Mermaid fountain at Ghiradelli Square.

Another delightful new experience was a customized tour of wine country courtesy of Joe, owner of San Francisco Private Tours. I pretty much have a three winery limit, so at my request we stayed within Sonoma rather than press on to Napa. In the course of six lovely hours, I visited (and tasted at) three very different wineries: the long-established Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, the newly opened Anaba Winery, and Moon Mountain Vineyard. The latter boasts gorgeous vistas from the nearly 2,000 foot elevation of Mt. Vedeer, so it wasn’t only the vino making me dizzy! And bonus, in his “other life” Joe is an A-class crooner of standards, so I could drink California wine and be serenaded with Sinatra.

Hidden treasure. This angel carved from a felled tree found at foot of private drive near Twin Peaks.
Not so hidden treasure. I found this angel carved from a felled tree at the foot of a private driveway near Twin Peaks.

Of course the best part of any vacation is the wonderful appreciation for home that travel brings. When my plane touched down at JKF Airport, I felt the vibe of New York all but bubbling up from the tarmac. Waiting in the cab queue a short time later, I felt like I was home. Actually, I knew it.

Vive le voyage!


More Photos from the RWA Conference in San Francisco

Hi All,

I’m back from hiking Ireland–okay, not exactly the whole country but The Burren and Connemara. Despite an unfortunate lack of gills or fins–can we say “record rainfall”–I managed to stay afloat without floating away. But more on that later this week when I post my vacation pics.

Yummy news: I got back to find a “wee giftie” waiting in my email mailbox–more photos from the RWA Conference in San Francisco courtesy of fellow Washington Romance Writers (WRW) member, Yvonne Yirka. Thanks Yvonne!

Unfortunately being the Shutterbug means not being in so many pictures, at least not your own. The Fab Threesome, taken on a “real live” San Francisco streetcar which we actually rode is (from left to right), Terri Ridgell, me, and former WRW prez, Deborah Barnhart.

Girlfriend time, take time to savor.


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. 😉
I’ll be posting pics daily, at least that’s my plan, so please don’t be a stranger.

July Contest Winners

Okay, I am if not exactly fully rested up from the RWA Conference in San Francisco, then certainly back on the J.O.B. And one of the very best parts of this particular J.O.B. is announcing contest winners–and giving away books!

Jane C of New York, NY is the Grand Prize Winner of my previous month’s contest. Like the two runners up, Jane knew that “caudle,” a mulled wine with bits of brown bread, sugar, eggs and spices, is the drink Brianna first serves the captured Ewan in Bound to Please. Jane’s prize is a signed copy of The Haunting, my time travel Harlequin Blaze romance set in Fredericksburg, VA, and a signed copy of Monica McCarty’s Highlander Untamed, the first in Monica’s blockbuster trilogy about the MacLeods of Skye. Bound to Please also features the MacLeods albeit more than a century earlier.

Robyn L of Portage, PA and Andrea A of Bath, NY are my two additional winners. Robyn and Andrea will each receive a signed copy of Vanquished, the kick-off to my “Men of Roxbury House” historical trilogy along with a signed cover flat for Bound to Please.

Per my previous post, I’m still waiting on all those fab RWA Conference glam shots, so if you’re one of my shutterbug buddies, don’t be shy. Send ’em on. (Memo to self: next time remember to take digital camera. Also, remember to learn how to use said digital camera). 😉


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,


Red Shoes Diary…

Okay, so last night I had one of those quintessential Manhattan evenings that makes me proud to be a newly minted New Yorker tricked out in four inch red platform heels. Recently I reconnected with romance writer extraordinaire, Liz Maverick. Liz and I met “back in the day” at a Celebrate Romance Conference but beyond quick catch-ups at a conference here and there, we kind of lost touch. Like me, Liz is a recent transplant to the city, in her case from the West Coast, and a Saturday night out seemed as good a time as any to compare notes on our Single Girl in the Big City experiences so far.

Start point: Blue Ribbon Sushi in Soho where I met Liz and her buddy, Bonnie, for an early (for New York) dinner. After pounding down a truly amazing amount of excellent sushi, we headed Uptown to Terminal 5 where not one but three great bands were playing. The headliner, She & Him, was seriously amazing. The lead vocalist, Zooey Deschanel, who also happens to be a song writer and pianist, is so over-the-top talented it’s well…pretty insane.

This week my Manhattan adventuring will be put on the back burner as I head to San Francisco for the Romance Writers of America national conference. The conference kicks off on Wednesday night with a charity autographing to benefit literacy programs in the area. I’ll be signing copies of Bound to Please as well as Enslaved and later in the week giving a workshop on “Tracking Trends” in romance fiction with my friend, Terri Ridgell. In between taking care of “bizness,” there’s the Harlequin party at the fabulous Four Seasons Hotel and of course the conference finale, an awards ceremony and desert reception on Saturday night. Once I’m back in the city to catch my breath, I’ll be dishing on all of it–I promise!

In the meantime, have a great week…