Lady Jane’s Salon, Monday, May 4th

If you live in or near the Big Apple, or plan to be in town for Book Expo America, I hope you’ll join Maya Rodale, Leanna Renee Hieber, Ron Hogan, and Yours Truly as we host a very special Lady Jane’s Salon. Local NYC author J.S. Hawley will be reading, along with the authors of Operation L.O.VE.: Anne Elizabeth, Tara Nina, and C.H. Admirand.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of OPERATION: L.O.V.E.-the Special Ops Anthology of Sweet Romance is donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations people who die in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations people and their families. The book debuts the new military anthology line for Highland Press.

As always, admission is five dollars or a gently-used romance novel to benefit Share The Love. This month only we will be splitting the proceeds with Operation L.O.V.E.

WHEN: Monday, May 4th. 7:00-9:00 pm. 

WHERE: Madame X, 94 Houston Street (btw LaGuardia and Thompson Streets), New York, NY 10012, 212.539.0808, Nearest subways: F,V,B,D at Lafayette, N, R at Prince Street.

(No Longer) Singing the Deadline Blues

I hit “Send” on Twelve Nights, the sequel to my Scottish Blaze Historical, Bound to Please last Saturday at 5 AM. After three plus weeks of self-sequestering, I’m back to living like a biped human being–exercising again and washing my hair again and eating meals off an actual table.

Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Union Square, NYC. Hope could have used some of the Indian nationalist leader's renowned peace last week!
Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Union Square, NYC. Hope could have used some of the Indian nationalist leader's renowned peace last week.

Deadlining, not to be confused with mainlining (though admittedly there are similarities), allows writers to experience the duality of our natures. Think Devil-Angel, Jeykl and Hyde, The Ripper and…Jack. In my case, I go from being this fairly fastidious person to one who’s picking sushi rice out of her computer keyboard.

Deadlining puts me in touch with my inner adrenalin junkie. Deadlining is my NASCAR. I may not parachute out of planes or go on amusement park rides that spin faster than the classic carousel, but hop me up on caffeine and give me a week to write those last 20,000 words, and I’m a regular Evel Knievel. 

Random townhouse in NYC's West Village.
Random townhouse in NYC's famed West Village.

Now that the deadline drama is past, I’m living large–and enjoying spring in New York–at least until the revisions come in.


PS Check back in a few for my mid-April contest winner.

Proudly Presenting…Lady Jane

Once upon a time three romance authors and one blogger went out in Manhattan after attending one of the city’s many literary reading series. Amidst the pungent aroma of cigars and single-malt scotch the conversation turned to the sad fact that there exists no reading forum for romance fiction in Manhattan, the seat of the publishing kingdom. And that struck us–oops, them–as really rather sad.

Then one of the romance writers, we’ll call her Princess Maya, got this gleam in her eye. All, well, gleamy-eyed, she looked ’round the Round Table (okay, it was a booth, but…), drew a deep breath, and announced, “Jeepers, let’s start a romance reading series of our very own!”

Okay, she didn’t actually say “jeepers.” I’m totally making that part up but the rest, for sure, is right on the money. And within that 30 seconds or so of yes, sheer brilliance, Lady Jane was born.

Co-sponsored by Share the Love and and co-founded by Maya Rodale, Ron Hogan, Leanna Renee Hieber, and yes, Moi, Lady Jane’s Salon is Manhattan’s first (and so far only) reading series devoted to romance fiction. The Salon will meet on the first Monday of every month starting February 2nd, 7-9 PM at the uber swank Madame X lounge in Tribeca.

The program format will be two author readers per evening with a short break between and a Q&A gab fest finale. Andrea Pickens and Yours Truly will be getting the party started in February; future authors TBA.

Admission is one gently-used romance novel or $5, your pick. All proceeds will benefit Share The Love, a non-profit organization that distributes gently-used romance novels to groups assisting women-in-transition. That we get to read our books and share the possibility of Happily Ever After beginnings with women working to build hopeful, independent lives is more than the best of both worlds. It’s the stuff of which real life fairytales are made.

For directions and other delicious details, please check out my Media and Events page. And for more juicy behind-the-scenes scoopage, please plan to stop by our live chat this Sunday, January 25th at Romance Novel TV.

Wishing you sweet dreams and candy-heart kisses…


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…


Happy Birthday, Bitsy!

My very good friend, Elizabeth “Bitsy” Mahon of Scandalous Women Blog fame had her birthday this month. To be perfectly exact, she’s had it twice–so far. She may be on her way to having a whole Birthday Month. If so, she has my total support.

Hope and Elizabeth at The Dove. Check out that wallpaper.
Hope and Elizabeth at The Dove. Check out that wallpaper.

Bitsy’s actual birthday is November 2nd, but this Saturday night was the blow-out bash held at The Dove Parlour–and yes, that’s “parlour” spelled the proper, British way. I’d been to The Dove a time or two, and I’m happy to report that Saturday night did not disappoint. Situated in the West Village, The Dove has all the trappings of a top tier Victorian brothel–crimson flocked wallpaper, ceilings with gilded molding, couches upon which to recline in shall we say a supine state and yes, cocktails with deliciously wicked names like the one I ordered, The Cherry Tart. As for Elizabeth, she looked absolutely stunningly sublime. Translation: smokin’.

Afterward, we decamped to decidely less posh environs, The Pyramid Club on Avenue A. The Pyramid offers two dance floors. On weekends, the upper one features 80’s hits and the lower level caters to the goth folks. If you’re thinking 80’s retro dance music equates to the PTA crowd, you haven’t yet ventured out to The Pyramid. The DJ’s two…um…performance artists were a master and gimp decked out in classic leather bondage gear. The pantomimed B/S was all in good fun until the head honcho–I guess we’ll call him Master Dude–took the theme way over the top by spewing a mouthful of water (God, I hope it was water) on not only Gimp Boy but on the rest of us, too. At the risk of coming off as out of touch, I have to say I’m in no way sympatico with the spitting. Frankly, even before the spitting, I’m really not sure what this quasi comical duo added. I mean, couldn’t we just dance? That spitting was apparently part of the act, an act paid for with my cover dollars, is well, a lot to wrap my mind around. It’s one thing to charge me a cover, but then to use said cover to support spitting on me is well, not positioning me to be your repeat customer.

Nothing like champagne on a champagne occasion. Elizabeth gets the party started by pouring out the champers.
Nothing like champagne on a champagne occasion. Elizabeth gets the party started by pouring out the champers.

Yes, I get that “White Wedding” was playing when said episode occurred. And okay, maybe Master Dude was channeling Billy Idol. I don’t know and frankly, I don’t care. Generally I’m a “live and let live” person, but spitting on me, well, that crosses a line.

Memo to Master Dude: the next time you role play B/S scenarios with your Gimp, kindly have the courtesy to confine any body fluid exchanges, including spittle, to the privacy of your respective caves. Memo to Pyramid Club: you might really not want to invite a lawsuit as this being New York, that dance floor probably included more than one attorney.

Elizabeth and Liz bringing back...sultry.
Elizabeth and Liz bringing back...sultry.

On the positive side, the tunes were top notch and yes, we rocked the house. It’s been a while since I’ve “walked like an Egyptian,” let alone felt like it was “raining men.” In retrospect, though, the piece de resistance of the evening was trudging back to the subway with Elizabeth and Liz Maverick, our styling dresses completely sweat-soaked, our feet swelling out of our totally hot but by now totally painful shoes. But then the best part of any night out is the friends who share it with you.

Happy Birthday Month, Elizabeth. May this be your best year yet!



Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple

For most of my adult life, I’ve lived by the mantra that we eat to live, not live to eat. That thinking served me in good stead–until I moved to Manhattan.

Food–gloriously good food–at all price ranges is available everywhere at all times.  At any given hour a good half of the pedestrians pushing past me on the busy streets are eating on the go. Once I saw a young woman, dressed to the designer nines, clicking down Fifth Avenue eating sushi. Okay, it was California Roll but still…

Apple 2000/01 by Stephan Weiss (1938-2001)
Apple 2000/01 by Stephan Weiss (1938-2001)

I’ve been playing gastronomic tourist since February–and grooving on every bite. Just as you can walk out your door and easily hear five languages other than English being spoken, you can step out onto most city blocks to a smorgasbord of cuisines from around the world. And if you don’t feel like going out, you can get any or all of those diverse cuisines delivered to your door. It’s well, pretty great.

I’m a seriously big list maker, and I have a food-to-try list just as I have a list for practically everything else. Topping my to-do’s since moving here was to partake of yes, a cupcake from the West Village’s Magnolia Bakery.  Sounds like a modest enough goal, right? If so, then you’ve never seen the line, which is usually not only out the door but wrapping around the corner and snaking up 11th Street. And yet the other day when I was walking home from my run at what should have been peak time, there was no line.  Nada. Peering through the storefront glass, I spotted two, maybe three, customers max.

My first thought was to ask what my fellow city dwellers must know that I didn’t. Were we talking evacuation? Armageddon? A return trip by Benicio Del Toro with me missing him yet again?

Sure, even one cupcake would pretty much cancel out the previous 6+ miles of cardio pavement pounding.  Then again if “Rome” was burning, was this really any time to be carping over calories or denying myself yummy carbs?

The bakery was even running a promo special: buy one Pink Ribbon cupcake and fifty cents of the proceeds would be donated to a popular breast cancer charity.  Scarfing down that high calorie, high carb cupcake wouldn’t just be physically satisfying.  It would be positively philanthropic! Social awareness blanketed in buttercream–really, does it get any better?

In the spirit of “an heir and a spare,” I bought not one but two cupcakes: a red velvet number and yes, the special Pink Ribbon promo.  The red velvet one I ate like a true New Yorker, which is to say while walking home.  Only unlike the uber cool chick with the sushi, I couldn’t pull it off. When I got home I looked like I’d been on the losing end of a paintball competition–assuming the game was played with pastry bags, not paint guns.

The cupcake was most certainly scrumptious.  Would I stand in line for it a really long time? Honestly, no.  But then at this point in my life there isn’t much in the way of food for which I would stand in line barring catfood and that assumes my fur-babies were down to their last collective can.

Other good eats for this week include lunch at Tea and Sympathy, also in the West Village, where I caught up with writer buddy, Dee Davis. Being what I like to call a “recovering vegetarian,” I’m not usually much for “British food,” so I gave the bangers and mash and like menu options a broad berth.  Instead I opted for the “Tweed Kettle Pie,” salmon and cod in a parsley sauce with a potato topping.  It was seriously delish.

And no New York City food report would be complete without pizza. One of my favorite stops is Amore’s on 14th Street though on the service end, the staff is starting to royally pi** me off. Memo to the young lady working late nights at the register: if I’m ever going to cross over to the Dark Side and embark on a Life of Crime, I’m a lot more likely to knock off the Manolo Blahnik store across from the MOMA than I am to scam an extra eighty cent pizza topping. Really. Maybe you might want to reward a regular customer with a little trust rather than making “her” untape and open her friggin’ pizza box every time like you’re the guard tasked with making sure the Crown Jewels don’t take a walk. If I say I ordered the white pizza, the one with the mozzarella only, then that’s what I’m packing–period.

Eat and be merry,


Calling All Shoe-a-Holics: Better a glass slipper than a glass ceiling

Still waiting on all those RWA photos to rush in geyser style but in the interim Alert Blog Watcher and historical romance author, Diane Gaston sent me this link to author Esri Rose’s shoe review.

I met Esri briefly as she worked her way through the throng at RWA’s Saturday night Awards Ceremony dessert reception. Her mission: to snap as many photos of authors’ shoes as she possibly could. I, or at least my feet, are in the White Out Section, third photo down (and just above the really cool Italian glass beaded babies).

Oh, and btw, she’s running a poll so you can vote!

Keeping up with the Cinderella theme, Manhattan is a place where magical moments are happenstance, where expecting the unexpected quickly becomes a way of life. Last night I was savoring a lobster salad at A.O.C. Bistro in the West Village when who walks in but actor Mary-Kate Olsen. Or was it Ashley? Or does it even matter?

What I really want to know is where I can get a pair of those glass slippers.


A Lip Sync-ing Good Sunday…

A coupla weeks ago my best friend, Suz, visited me in New York. Over her three-day stay, we hit the usual tourist suspects, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We also took time out for some amazing meals washed down with equally amazing wines.

Sunday brunch is a big deal here in the Big Apple and for Suz’s last day I wanted to do something special, something more memorable than the requisite coffee and eggs with jazz in the background. After checking with Suz to make sure she was game, I booked a reservation at Lips, self-billed as the “ultimate in drag dining.”

Having never been to a drag anything, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect though I’d passed Lips many times on my walks through the West Village. Not wanting to miss anything, we arrived a few minutes early, and the host showed us to our table. Our server, Empress (see above photo with Moi), showed up in short order with a mimosa for Yours Truly and a Bloody Mary for Suz. Sipping our drinks, we gave our food orders and settled back to be entertained.

And were we ever! As this event was billed as a gospel brunch, the servers/performers all wore long purple robes and the requisite flowing wigs. Once the show started, they spent the next 45 minutes or so strutting their stuff and grinding their groove things while lip synching to a variety of popular 80’s dance tunes. (How can you not love “It’s Raining Men”!) Between each number, the emcee strolled between tables talking smack with the audience and generally having us rolling in, if not the aisles, certainly our seats. (The refills on the mimosas didn’t hurt, either).

If you’re looking for something a little different to do on your next visit to NYC, I highly recommend Lips (2 Bank Street, West Greenwich Village, NY). Plan on bringing an open mind and leaving with a smile. (The humor at Lips while good-natured and IMHO far tamer than much of what airs on today’s TV is definitely adult, so I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant for families with young children).

On a semi related note, a new friend of mine here in the city recently said, “God doesn’t make anything that’s not beautiful. It may not be your taste, and that’s fine, but it’s still beautiful in His eyes.”

Happy Pride Week,


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? 😉

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. 😉

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…