Tag Archives: Ladies’ Night Out

The Joy of Celebrating Romance Readers

I confess, I’m in a great mood despite the fact that snow is falling outside. Yes, snow in April. Needless to say, spring weather in New England is unpredictable. But I digress. My point is that I can deal with the snow because I’m still riding the high from the weekend thanks to dozens of readers, librarians, and bloggers (*waves to Heroes and Heartbreakers*).

The Pond House

The Pond House

On Saturday, my Connecticut Romance Writers of America chapter hosted its first annual “Spring into Romance” luncheon, (which was open to librarians, book sellers, and readers) at The Pond House. When we conceived of the idea months ago, we had no idea whether or not it would work. I admit, at first I had that sick feeling you get when you start to plan a party and wonder whether anyone will show up.



My beta readers

My beta readers

Luckily, we ended up with 97 guests (including some of our chapter’s authors). Those of us on the board were pleased with that turnout considering this was our first attempt to organize such an event. Our president, Jamie Pope, offered some welcoming remarks, and Kristan Higgins gave a lovely keynote address to the crowd. Spirits were high, I tell you. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that we loosened everyone up with a complimentary cocktail.

The Three Jamies!

The Three Jamies!

Those who came enjoyed a great meal, played a fun trivia game (although my table did not fare so well in this), and mingled with other romance novel lovers, all of whom got to take home a goody bag with free books, frames, wine glasses, and more.



But while all of that is very fine and made for a pleasant afternoon, what stuck with me was the enthusiasm of so many who were interested in meeting some of their favorite authors.

Authors Kristan Higgins, Erika Kelly and guests

Authors Kristan Higgins, Erika Kelly and guests

I really can’t describe how much having a reader tell you, “I love your books” means to me. It is what makes me sit at this desk day after day. It gets me through reading a less flattering review. It helps me quiet the self-doubt that starts screaming midway through any draft.


So, this post, like this past weekend, is my little love note to my readers.

Authors Sadie Hartwell, Katy Lee and guests.

Authors Sadie Hartwell, Katy Lee and guests.

I wish more of you lived in Connecticut so that you could participate in some of the activities my chapter organizes. In lieu of that, I appreciate your participation on my Facebook page, and cherish every single reader email I get (including the ones that tell me what should happen next in a series).

Author Gail Chianese and guests

Author Gail Chianese and guests



I know I speak on behalf of my chapter and all of my writing friends when I say that you, dear readers, are the reason we keep writing. Thank you for spending your time with our stories!


Weddings–Near and Far


La Cana Golf & Beach Club

As some of you know, I just returned from a week-long vacation with six of my friends. We escaped the fall weather by traveling to the lush tropical paradise of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Of course, we could have been holed up in a tornado bunker in Kansas and still had a great time together, but the DR proved to be infinitely more beautiful and relaxing.

We expected white sands and clear, turquoise-colored water, palm trees and plenty of rum punch. But one thing we didn’t expect was to run into wedding receptions everywhere we went. Whether at the beach club, a restaurant in downtown Punta Cana, or brunch at the Tortuga Bay hotel, we kept crossing paths with wedding parties. We swooned a bit at the romance of it all despite the fact that the seven of us–married a combined total of 110 years–were all carousing around the island without our husbands!

But that’s beside the point.IMG_6720

Seeing these weddings prompted a conversation about destination versus hometown weddings. Some of my friends were firmly in favor of local weddings. They preferred to invite large groups of friends and family and spare guests the costs associated with traveling too far. Some were willing to make an exception to the hometown wedding provided the destination held special meaning to the couple (they met there or got engaged there, or something like that).

Having planned my own wedding in Italy and attended several other destination weddings (Florida, Aruba, Vermont), I argued in favor of the intimate yet exotic destination wedding. Personally, I preferred a small affair over hundreds of guests, half of whom–like parents’ colleagues and distant relatives–I probably wouldn’t have known. And as a guest, I’ve always turned a destination wedding invitation into a mini-vacation, so that made the extra cost worthwhile.

But in the end, the most important element of any wedding has nothing to do with its location. It doesn’t even have to do with the guests, the dress, the cake, or the music. All that truly matters is that the bride and groom come together and make a commitment to love and honor each other until the end of their days. That HEA is not just for romance novels, after all.

Where was the last wedding you attended?






Girlfriend Getaways…and Sangria!

Short getaways with my gal pals always do wonders for my energy level. Getting out of Dodge for quick trips is a favorite way to rest and recharge so I can return home ready to tackle real life again. For me, any destination will do the trick, but I especially love my family home in The Land of Enchantment: Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sunset in Placitas

Sunset in Placitas

Lucky for me, Jamie’s writing convention in Texas coincided with one of my visits home. So she hopped over here, and we spent the last few days hiking the beautiful Tent Rocks, enjoying a massage at Ten Thousand Waves, and eating the spicy local food (I got Jamie to try her enchiladas “Christmas” style, which means having both red and green sauce). Despite those activities, we spent most of our time “porching”. Just sitting under our covered porch in rocking chairs talking, laughing, crying, watching the storms roll in, and okay, sipping white wine sangria.

Tent Rocks National Park

Tent Rocks National Park

Now that I’m back on my own for a few days, I’m reminded of the restorative power of friendship.  We may rely on our husbands, boyfriends, and children for love and support, but the type of trust and love in friendship among women is one of the strongest and most crucial I know.  It’s not a relationship we should ever take for granted.

"Porching" with Sangria

“Porching” with Sangria

Have you been hanging out with your friends enough? If not, pick up the phone and make a plan. And just in case you need the white wine sangria, here is the recipe:

Martha Stewart’s Summer Fruit Sangria…A pitcher of this made with white wine, fruit and liqueur will get the party started!


6 cups assorted fruits (such as mango, peaches, cantaloupe, and pineapple)
¼ cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger
1 to 1 ½ cups fresh basil or mint leaves
½ cup orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
1 bottle crisp white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)


In a large pitcher, combine fruit, ginger, basil or mint, and orange liqueur. Mash gently with the back of a wooden spoon until basil is bruised and fruit releases juices. Add wine and lemon juice and stir to combine. Refrigerate 1 hour (or up to one day). To serve, fill eight glasses with ice and top with sangria.


Talk To Me

As you might imagine, I work at home.  I sit in front of my computer, often in my robe, and type…all day long.  Once in while, a few days will pass when I’ve not spoken to anyone outside my immediate family.  Sure, I email and text friends and fellow committee members and so on.  I say hi to the checkout lady at the grocery store.  But real conversation?  *crickets*

This realization troubled me.  Somehow I’d ended up replacing genuine friendly interaction with virtual discourse on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and email.  In response to this rather scary recognition, I recently resolved to pick up the phone a few times (instead of simply sending a question via text or email).  Each time, my simple question turned into a ten or fifteen minute call during which I caught up, laughed a little, and even made future plans to get together (whether for lunch, a morning walk, or couples plans for the weekend). 7257505_s

As adults and parents, we worry about how technology is adversely impacting our kids and their communications skills.  A quick Google search will yield dozens of articles on that topic alone.  But we somehow forget to consider how this technology is negatively affecting our friendships.

So much is lost through email and texts thanks to a lack of non-verbal cues and tonality.  Miscommunications based on these deficiencies can even inadvertently create problems in friendships.

I’m not advocating we stop using technology, or that the ability to quickly deliver a lot of information to many people at once isn’t helpful when coordinating a group plan.  But, just for kicks, pick up the phone next time you want to ask a friend a question.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the enjoyment you’ll get despite the “inefficiency” of the method!


Superbowl Sunday Party Drink

Hi, y’all…Katherine here.  I know it’s been some time since my last blog post.  Kids, work, the holidays and all the other “stuff” that comes with raising a family has set me back.   Since my last visit, I’ve also been enjoying football season.  With the Super Bowl just around the corner, comes the sadness that football will be gone from my life until August.  For a Texas girl, that is just plain sad.

Football in the South is a ritual for women.  We love to get lots of food ready, put the beer on ice, and turn on ESPN Game Day. It’s not unusual for us to drink a few throughout this process.  After all, it is allowed on game day.  Isn’t it?  Out come the jerseys and any memorabilia that we have.  It’s most fun when the man of the house likes a different team!  Luckily, they don’t allow you to get a divorce on these grounds.

The atmosphere is one of fun and competition – even the kids get in on it.  It’s the one day when we moms can act crazy, have a few, and curse like a sailor.  So, I thought it only appropriate to share  one of my favorite football party beverages so you can serve it at your game day party!

The Micheladaimages-3

Combine the juice with 1 teaspoon of Worcerstershire sauce and 2 or 3 shakes of Tabasco sauce in a salt-rimmed glass.  Fill with ice then add chilled beer (I love mine with Corona or Tecate) and stir.

To give your beer some team spirit, I loved this idea from The Food Network Magazine.  Serve your Michelada with salt rims in your team’s colors.  Mix ¼ cup kosher salt with a little gel food coloring and spread salt on a plate.  Then dampen the rim of a glass with a lime wedge and dip it in the salt before filling.

Yummy!  And in case you were wondering, I’ll be rooting for Peyton Manning.  This die-hard Cowboy fan once again finds herself on the sidelines for another Super Bowl.


PS   Jamie here, weighing in.  As a born and raised Steelers fan, it’s safe to say Katherine and I are usually on opposite sides of the field…but in this game we agree.  Go Broncos!

Photo Credit:  Michael Kraus/Saveur Magazine