Highballs for all my friends!

Okay, with the upcoming release of Highballs in the Hamptons, I’ve actually been asked a couple times: What the heck is a highball?

It’s a fair question.

Those of you who’ve been reading my books for a while might have picked up on a theme… I write the WINE country romances, right? And my first book in the Girlfriends series was Men and MARTINIS, right? Are you seeing a pattern here?

It’s fair to say that I enjoy an evening cocktail or glass of wine. More than fair to say that, really.

So it’ll come as no surprise, I’m sure, that a highball is a cocktail. Kind of an old school throwback, really, and there’s a reason for that. Natalie Pepper and the other Girlfriends of Gotham were living large in NYC in the late nineties. It was a time of excess – not exactly Studio 54, but there was a fair bit of youthful entitlement being bandied about by those in their early and mid-twenties. That was all a result of the big titles, easy money and ridiculous success running in the streets thanks to the advent of the Internet. (Hard to believe that ever didn’t exist, eh?)

Anyway, those kids (and I can call them kids because I was one, and when I look back…man, we were young.) So those kids were kind of fancying themselves to be the new jet set, kind of rat pack NYC throwbacks. Lots of trends were retro at that point, and one of them was cocktails. Despite the additions of some new ones — Cosmo, anyone? Lots of folks were getting into old school manhattans (my current favorite drink, actually!) and gimlets and Tom Collins’s’s’ssss (may I just say how much I HATE having to pluralize names ending in S???)

So, in honor of all that, Book 2 is called Highballs in the Hamptons. And it’s a fun book. I hope you’ll read it.

But even if you don’t, I hope you’ll try a highball!

There’s no real trick to it — fill a glass with ice and add a couple shots of whiskey. Fill the rest with Ginger Ale, and guess what? You’ve got a highball!



Back to The City

This weekend I got to go back to NYC. For seven hours. It sounds sort of insane because, frankly, it was. My company sponsors a bus trip every year from my home outside DC. I didn’t go last year because I was like, “Sitting on a bus for 10 hours just for half a day in New York? I’m not insane.” Evidently something has changed between last year and this year, because this year I went. So perhaps I am actually insane. I took my six year old son. So, yes, the insanity possibility remains. 

We got on a bus at 6am. We spent seven hours in NYC, and then got back on the bus. We got home at 3am. 

And I learned a few things. 

1) I still love NYC. Even though everything we did and saw was completely swamped and mobbed with people… when I lived there — the times I write about in Girlfriends of Gotham — I avoided the tourist stuff like the plague. I wouldn’t walk through Times Square if you paid me. I’d NEVER go to Rockefeller Center during the holidays. And being crowd claustrophobic, I still didn’t enjoy that stuff. But in the midst of the worst crowds I’ve ever seen and in the middle of a serious smash of humanity, I realized that I could still appreciate that particular brand of hell. There are few places in the world where people would put up with that complete redassery just to see a giant tree lit up, where people will stand in line to enter a toy store (yes, we did this to get into FAO Schwartz). And it reminded me that even though I didn’t necessarily enjoy the touristy stuff — there was a time when I got to be an insider…when I owned just the tiniest piece of everything that ROCKS about New York City.

2) My kid is a rock star. The little guy spent most of the day awash in a sea of strangers, with me gripping his hand in a deathclaw grip and dragging him past an endless parade of other people’s butts. I’m 5’9″ tall and almost always in 3-4″ heels. I can see over almost everyone. But he couldn’t see crap. He saw butts and hands and other kids looking terrified, and he handled it like a champion. Every now and then I’d hoist him up and carry him so he could see stuff (yes, I carried my 60 pound kid while wearing three and a half inch heels…I’m like that). But when I’d check in with him as I pulled him through crowds, he was completely fine. And happy. And smiling. 

3) The Spiderman show is AWESOME. We got tickets in advance, and I was SO glad we did it. If you have kids and you’re in the city, it’s totally worth it. 

4) Seeing your old life and knowing you’ll never have it again is hard. As I sat on a bus with a bunch of crazy women screaming “NYC Baby!” while we crossed the GW bridge into the city, I swallowed down my annoyance. I remember the feeling I used to have, when I entered the city at the end of a trip, the feeling I had when I was coming home to the city… it was a feeling of belonging, of pride. When I saw that skyline, I felt a surge of something incredible that I’d never felt before and haven’t felt since. NYC was the first place I ever really felt at home. And with Frank Sinatra’s line in my head, it made me feel like I could make it anywhere. On that bus, though, I had to accept that I didn’t belong anymore. I have become a tourist. New York City is like a snowglobe. Lots of people look at it and see the same things. They scurry over the glossy top of it, ogling the Empire State Building and talking about Times Square. They see the things we see on television, in movies. But they don’t see the inside. When I lived there, I was inside the globe. I got to walk the hidden side streets that tourists rarely find. I knew how to get places without getting swamped by people. I was an insider. But now I wander the hard surface of the globe with everyone else. At least when I’m there for only 7 hours on an insane bus trip. 

5) I miss my girlfriends. I was in Manhattan for four days in May to celebrate my 40th. And none of what I just said applied then. When you have enough time to delve deeper, you get to see some of that inner goodness. But for me, NYC is only ever right if I’m with my best friends — the original Girlfriends of Gotham. I look forward to our next visit to the city!

Girlfriends of Gotham

The release date of GofG is so close I can smell it!

And in celebration of the December 3rd release of Men and Martinis, I’m putting the Wine Country Romance Books on sale for the entire week of release. So it’s a good time to catch up if you haven’t read them! A Rare Vintage and Redemption Red will be on sale for 99 cents each for the week of December 3rd! Pick em up!

And A Rare Vintage is going to be available in multiple formats… pick it up at B&N or on iTunes…

And please help support the GofG series! I promise you won’t be disappointed!



So Close…

It’s done! This week has been crazy. It seems like when my writing life ramps up, the rest of my life feels left out and rises to meet it. So I was overtaxed in my “real job” this week as well as during my at-home (supposedly non-working) hours. But, the end result (besides having to go the office on Friday…grrr) is that Men and Martinis is back with the publisher, and finally at the proofreading stage! That means — if all goes as expected — that we’ll meet our publication date! (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to publicize that date, but it’s in early early December!)

This book, as I told my publisher the other day, has at times felt like the book that would. not. be. What started as a poorly conceived twenty thousand word novella morphed — over the course of about a year — into a series of 75k novels. They are based — very loosely — on my own experiences, which you would think would make them easier to write. But that wasn’t the case. I got caught up (often) in the way things really were, versus the way things needed to be for my characters and the plot to work.

Despite some early indecision, I have to hand it to Swoon Romance. The editors and publisher there saw potential in my original idea and patiently helped me mold it into something we can all be proud of. In some cases, they dragged me kicking and screaming toward the goal. 🙂 But I’m happy to be there now.

I learned a LOT during this process. Some of that was due to the fact that I wrote and published two other romance novels while this was all going on. And a lot of it was due to the fact that my publisher/editor were patient with a new author, and willing to give me the space I needed to learn.

Here are a few of the things I took away from this initial effort:

  • Other eyes on a MS are CRITICAL. Whether it’s beta readers or editors, having other people sanity check your plot and characters is the best thing you can do for a book.
  • You are not always right. Even when you feel something deep in your gut. There was one scene in this book that I clung to. For some reason I wanted this scene to happen. In my head, somewhere back in the dark, it made sense that it would happen. But after three people read the book and left me comments along the lines of, “WHY would this happen???” I was able to say to myself, “what if this doesn’t happen?” And the story suddenly made more sense. Maybe this falls into the category of “kill your darlings”…
  • Patience is needed. I don’t have much of this. But with any version of traditional publishing, it seems that to enjoy all the goodness that it can bring, you must put up with some silence, too. And I’m learning about that. I want everything to happen NOW. And that isn’t the way this works. And maybe that is a good thing, too.

Anyway, Men and Martinis is on the way! I can’t wait to share the final product with you!

Time to start working on Book Two in the series…

And… Deflate.

Men and Martinis has gone back to the publisher. God help me. I had about ten days with that thing, which at this point feels like kind of a foreign object to me. I wrote it. But taking months in between passes at it definitely offers me a chance to gain perspective on what I’ve written. Unfortunately — and I don’t know if this is my tendency for self-flagellation or if it’s truth — when I saw it again after three months away from me, it kind of looked like shit. I had three big things to tackle that my editor had directed me to concentrate on. And I found about three million little things.

There are a few ways to look at this. Maybe, in the months between passes, all the other writing I do makes me a better writer. So when I come back to something written in the past, I am better able to see where I can improve. Actually, that’s it. That is the way I’m going to choose to look at it. Because any other possibility is painful and I can’t even write them down here.

I think it’s a good book. It’s the book I’ve wanted to write forever. (There’s one other… but that’s this is the first one). Or at least it’s the first part of a story that I’ve always known I would try to tell. And I have faith that the back and forth and multiple opinions and many hands in the stew will make it that much better. Maybe it takes a village. And this is my first go publishing with a press and not doing it myself, so it’s undoubtedly going to feel a bit uncomfortable at times. I’m used to having all the control. That part is very hard.

Anyway, if all goes as planned, this book will be born in early December. I can’t imagine a better holiday gift for myself! And I’m going to be at the New Adult Sleepover Weekend to promote it just days later!

But now that M&M is off my plate temporarily… I feel kind of depressed. Maybe this is what it feels like when your kids go off to college…

Gearing Up for Girlfriends of Gotham!

I know I’ve been a one station radio these days, going on and on about Through a Dusty Window… And I’m still so excited about that collection of stories and the idea behind it. In fact, there’s a blog tour coming up where I’ll be talking about it a LOT more, and there is still an opportunity to get a free ecopy to read – just comment here that you’d like one and I’ll send you the code (until March 1st!)

BUT, as things gets closer to final over at Swoon, I’m getting ready to start talking about my New Adult series, Girlfriends of Gotham, which will see its first release this June. The series is a collection of eNovellas about a group of friends exploring work, sex and friendship in New York City in the late nineties. I’m so excited about this series — it might have something to do with the fact that I lived in New York City in my early twenties, worked in the Internet industry, and met an amazing group of women who taught me so much about life, love, and about myself. So it’s possible that Girlfriends of Gotham might be somewhat autobiographical. Maybe. A teensy bit. But even though my own life was fairly exciting during those years, the girlfriends in the GoG series go through things together that my girls and I never really did. The ladies I knew and loved then (who are still my best friends!) are the inspiration for the characters in the series, but the stories aren’t really ABOUT them. That’s the beauty of fiction, and that’s why this series has been so fun to write — I get to base the plot lines and characters on things that are so close to my heart, but I get to make them far more exciting than they really were — or far more horrible!

I can’t wait for everyone to meet the Girlfriends of Gotham… soon they’ll even have their own website! The first installment is titled Men and Martinis

I know I’m gushing. But I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been working. A lot. And if you have read much of the New Adult genre, this may be right up your alley.

Pretty soon, Swoon will be revealing the cover. And I can’t tell you how much I’m in love with it. (I’ll admit to being worried when I knew it was in the works… but my concerns were totally for nothing!) Check back here as we get closer to June…

In the meantime, I’ll try to find other less self-absorbed things to share. 🙂