Monthly Archives: December 2015

Party Time

My favorite childhood memories of Christmas have nothing to do with presents and Santa, and everything to do with the parties. I grew up on the same street with three sets of cousins and one set of grandparents (all on my Italian father’s side of the family). My mother’s family all lived within five miles (and she had 100 cousins, so I’m talking about a lot of people). FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender

Beginning mid-day Christmas Eve day and continuing through Christmas night, the holiday was one endless party trail as we traveled to several houses, played with cousins, ate too many cookies, and sat down to a few good meals. All the grown-ups were too busy drinking and visiting to pay much attention to us kids, so we enjoyed unbridled freedom, which is probably why the memories are so good!

Really bad selfie!

Really bad selfie!

Now I live in Connecticut, away from most of my family. However, ironically, one of those cousins from the old ‘hood lives in my town, as does my best friend from high school, so I can recreate a little bit a of that family feeling for my kids. For a few years, I’ve hosted a small get-together on December 23rd. This year, we decided to open it up a bit and invite about ten families. I had so much fun (as did the kids), next year I’m determined to make it even bigger. The only downside is, as a grown-up, I’m stuck with the clean-up, too. But it is well worth it.

Mom and my Hubby

Mom and my Hubby

Hope you enjoy the few photos (that’s my mom dressed like a Nutcracker) of our little event. Do you have or attend holiday parties, or do you prefer to keep things quiet?

MERRY CHRISTMAS, and best wishes for a happy, healthy new year.

PS  My newsletter will be going out in early January, so if you want a sneak peek at Worth the Trouble, a chance to win an early review copy, and to vote on the charity I’ll be donating some of the sales proceeds to, please make sure you are signed up. It’s a two-step process, so make sure to respond to the verification email!

XO-Jamie

 

Kick-off: 12 Months of Beauty Products

Hey, gang, Katherine is back with a new monthly feature! Take it away, K:

While humming “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and reading People Magazine last weekend, I ran across People/Today Beauty Awards for 2015. Every year since I was fifteen, I have ripped pages out of magazines with the promise of trying all of the tried-and-true beauty products. You know, all the “ Best of the Best” makeup, hair products, skin products, etc. I typically try one or two, but inevitably my list ends up in the trash by April.

This year I have decided to commit to the list by trying one or two new products each month and then reporting back to you. Are these really a game changer in beauty? This is my New Years resolution!

Here are my first selections for 2016.

Dove Dry Spray AntiperspirantScreen Shot 2015-12-17 at 3.07.54 PM

This promises a superfine mist that dries instantly, endless hours of freshness, and no white marks on your clothes (a huge pet peeve of mine.)

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 3.08.46 PMNeutrogena promises that this mega-moisturizer–packed with hyaluronic acid–is a lightweight gel that keeps skin moisturized for hours.

I picked both products up at our local Target and READY..SET..HERE I GO!

Look for an update from me in mid-January. In the meantime, if you’ve tried one of these products, let me know what you thought! Or simply add a suggestion to my list. By the end of the year, we’ll all know the fact from fiction when it comes to these products.

xo-Katherine

The Romance of Research

Let’s go back to high school for a moment. Remember the dread that descended whenever you were assigned a major research project? Perhaps we differ, but I did not enjoy reading, categorizing, and analyzing the volumes of information those assignments required.

Funny how things change with age!

To the casual reader, it might not seem like a romance writer would have to research much of anything. After all, don’t we all have experience with yearning, heartache, and love? Yet research is necessary to tell any good story, including a romance.3364681_s

For example, last year while plotting Worth the Trouble (coming Feb. 23, 2016), I met with Tom Throop of Black Creek Designs to learn about the handmade furniture business. Similarly, I’m currently plotting the third book in my Sterling Canyon series (2017 release), which involves a two more professions I’m unfamiliar with (competitive snowboarding and documentary filmmaking). Unfortunately, my trusty assistant—Google—could only take me so far. After stalking some folks on Twitter and such, I did find two people willing to help me: former competitive snowboarder Brock Butterfield, and documentary filmmaker Megan Smith-Harris.17277905_s

Not only does personal research give me the fact set I need to create authentic plot points, but it also provides a rich vein of data for character development.

For example, Brock—a former freeride snowboarding competitor—not only provided me with technical information about the competitions, but also gave me an inside look at the internal conflict and obstacles a competitive snowboarder might face. Similarly, Megan—a longtime documentary producer/director—taught me rudimentary filmmaking fundamentals and lingo, and also helped me flesh out material and potential conflict for supporting characters in my book.

Best of all, doing this research introduces me to people whose lives vary greatly from my own, thereby broadening my perspective (which can only help my writing). I usually experience a little envy after each interview, and waste more than a few hours fantasizing about what it would be like to live those other lives.

There’s no doubt that the meat of a romance novel is the couple’s emotional and psychological journey, which does not require much research. But to write a layered story with a credible plot and engaging secondary characters, research is not only critical, but also—SURPRISE!–fun.

What topic or career would you like to learn more about, and why?

xo-Jamie

If you’re interested in following Brock’s adventures, check out his blog. And if you’re curious about Megan’s inspirational films, check out The Buddy System and Trial by Fire.