Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m hooked. It started when my niece picked me up at LAX for the RWA conference in San Diego. I spent two days with her and my sister and Katie (said niece) was already playing. I had texted my kiddos a few days earlier to alert them about the app since they had both been huge Pokemon fans back in their elementary school days. I never thought I would download the app or play it, but Katie wanted to find out a few things and she needed someone who would let her play on their phone as well as her own.
So I downloaded it and the addiction began.
- Walking. Even though I know that I should get up from my desk and walk every 30 minutes for better health, I don’t. But with the Pokemon app I do get up. There’s a Poke-stop right near my house and I go up there on my breaks to reload on pokeballs and other cool things like potions.
- Social dialogue. My sister, niece and I all went to get a pedicure before they took me to San Diego for RWA and while we were having our toes done the news was filled with stories of Pokemon Go. Everyone in the nail salon was chatting about the new app. Even while I was at RWA I had several conversations about the app. J
- Parent-kid bonding. There aren’t a lot of things online games or apps that families can do together. My kids and I are lucky in that we nerd out on a lot of the same things so talking isn’t ever a problem in our house. But the Pokemon Go app is reminding us of the time we stood in line to see the Pokemon movie with Lugia, when Coco got a gold Pokemon card from Burger King (it was her prized possession for a long time) and how many hours we all spent in the game room watching the TV show together.
- Addicting. Once you start playing, you want to keep playing. I think this is sort of a pro if you factor in the walking. Last night I went on two separate 30 minute walks so that first my hubby and then my daughter could finish hatching an egg (you have to walk several km to do this).
- Common sense. I’m trying to think of a nice way of saying this but sometimes in the fever of playing a game, common sense goes out the window. No matter what rare Pokemon you think you might find remember to put safety first.
- Catching them all. What if I never catch them all??? Just kidding. J I don’t mind if I never catch them all. I’m just having fun playing with my hubby and kids and texting my niece to find out what she’s found and get her tips.
What about you? Are you playing Pokemon Go? Are you sick of Pokemon Go?
You know old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? When I was a kid, people used to say that about my sister and me, always giving my parents a conspiratorial smile, as if they shared a funny secret. Though I adored my mom and dad and really did want to be like them, I wasn’t always thrilled. I could fall as far from the tree as I darn well pleased, I growled inwardly. I am no clone! I am my own, unique person, captain of my own ship, master of my fate, etc.
In my heart, I knew, though, that some things are handed down, whether you want them or not—like blue eyes or fine, flyaway hair, or that irritating chin thing that makes you look like you’re balancing a golf ball.
Within the family, we had a slightly different way of referencing the genetic heritage. If I bombed a math test, for instance, my parents would sigh, share guilty grins, and say, “Well, I guess what you inherit you don’t steal.”
I have no idea where that expression came from. But through the years, I’ve heard lots of different, wonderfully colorful phrases that mean the same thing. In one of my favorite books growing up, Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting, the heroine fears her love interest might be as ruthless as his father, because “tigers breed true.” I loved that one, because it made even the hero’s DNA sound delightfully dangerous.
And once, on a plane to Ireland, I overheard my seatmates talking about a little boy they knew who was a real charmer, flirting with every female he met, of any age. The two women chuckled, and one of them said, “Ah, he didn’t lick that off the ground, did he?”
Most recently, at a big get-together, a family friend met my daughter for the first time, though she’d known my sister and me for years. Later, she wrote us about a phrase in her native Spanish that says, “Todas estan cortadas con la misma tijera.” It means, she said, “You are all cut with the same scissors.”
I’m not sure how Girlchild reacted, but I have to admit…it’s pretty great, hearing those things from the other end of the generation gap. Next time she has difficulty doing higher math, I’m going to just remind her about those scissors.
What about you? Did your family have its own version of the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? And if you heard someone say it, were you glad, or were you fussy, feeling you should be allowed to forge your own path?
Is there some trait you’ve inherited that you perhaps didn’t appreciate as a child, but have come to value highly?
I’m giving away a $10 gift certificate to one poster today, so I hope you’ll join the conversation!
I hope you all had a great Independence Day! I’ll admit it, this holiday brings out the kid in me.
When I was young, my brother and I used to spend summers at my grandmother’s house. We always had a good, old fashioned Fourth of July celebration. The family would gather – aunts and uncles and cousins. My uncle would make homemade vanilla ice cream. We’d grill burgers and dogs and we’d watch fireworks. They lived out in the country and there was plenty of room to run around and have fun just being a kid.
That was ages ago, but I was remembering those good times this weekend as we celebrated the nation’s birthday. Our festivities started on Sunday evening and lasted through Monday night. On Sunday, it was just The Norwegian and me. Our neighbors across the lake always go all out and put on a fireworks extravaganza. Someone in their family must be a pyrotechnics processional because it’s like watching Disney fireworks in my own backyard– without the hassle of fighting the crowds and traffic. It’s that good! This year they floated a platform out onto the lake and proceeded to outdo themselves yet again. I sat on the back porch breathless, uttering, “Wow!” and “Did you see that? Can you believe it?” The show went on for about an hour. Even after the finale, the kid in me didn’t want it to end.
Monday, we joined friends for a cookout with their big, energetic, fabulous extended family (there were about twenty-six of us in all). I was so honored and happy to share the holiday with them. There’s so much love in that family. It was profoundly touching to be with them. We enjoyed delicious burgers with all the fixings and sides. The adults talked about life and bemoaned the stifling humidity while the kids played ping pong and basketball and had fun the way cousins do when they get together. As night fell around us, we settled into lawn chairs to watch more fireworks. For a few glorious moments, the sound of the laughter and the smell of the cookout mingling with the smoky sulfur of the fireworks transported me back to a time when things seemed so much simpler – to a time when my biggest worry was how much longer my uncle had to crank the turn on the ice cream maker before we could dive into the frosty goodness.
With all that’s been happening in the world lately, it was heaven to relax on the back porch and spend time with friends and enjoy good food and be grateful for life’s simple pleasures. How was your holiday?
I’m thrilled to welcome Harlequin editor Susan Litman as my special guest today. I’ve been fortunate to work with Susan on several Special Edition continuities and today we’re going to talk about The Fortunes of Texas series.
Nancy Robards Thompson: Welcome to the Jaunty Quills, Susan! Before we start dishing about The Fortunes, please tell us a little bit about you.
Susan Litman: Thanks for having me today, Nancy. I’ve been at Harlequin for 14 years now—hard to believe! I started as an Assistant Editor for Intimate Moments, and eventually became an Associate Editor, then Editor for Special Edition. While I mostly acquire for Special Edition, I still work with several Romantic Suspense authors, and in fact I just acquired a brand-new author for HRS a couple of weeks ago!
NRT: I will never forget the day I got The Call. It’s such an exciting time. Congratulations to your new author! In addition to other continuities, you’re in charge of the Fortunes of Texas. What’s it like to work with such a longstanding series? What’s your favorite thing about the Fortunes?
SL: It’s a pleasure to work on The Fortunes of Texas, primarily because I get a thrill knowing that we’re constantly adding new elements to a franchise that our readers have loved for twenty years now—and hopefully we can continue to bring in new fans with new characters as well as cameos from some favorite classic Fortunes stars. I also love that we can take some fun risks with the continuity—adding the British Fortunes, for instance, was so much fun, and I loved seeing our authors bring those voices to life in a Texas setting.
NRT: One question I’m sure many readers are wondering is how in the world do you keep all the characters and storylines straight?
SL: It’s not easy—but to be honest, I have a memory for the most minute details for anything related to pop culture. If it is in Entertainment Weekly, I’ll remember it forever. J So if it is in a continuity bible or book, I’m not likely to forget it—though I might need to refer back to a book once in a while to double check a detail. That’s probably the biggest concern I have when working on a new continuity—making sure that we’re not contradicting any plot elements, or characterization, that was previously established. And that’s very difficult to do from year-to-year, but I’m happy to say that I think we’ve managed to accomplish this.
NRT: What’s it like to work with so many authors on one project?
SL: It’s wonderful. We always put together a wonderful mix of a couple of new voices, plus those I like to call the “returning continuity champions,” who have often written for a previous iteration of the Fortunes. The authors always work well together—everyone tends to start brainstorming once they’ve read the bible, coming up with creative ways to augment the existing elements and bring “their” voice to their specific story. The authors are, without question, a huge part of what makes the continuity so special.
NRT: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Fortunes of Texas. How has the storyline changed over the years?
SL: I don’t think it has changed so much as grown! Naturally, we’ve expanded the family. There are new branches in Red Rock, and Atlanta; newly discovered relatives as close as Horseback Hollow, Texas and as far as London, England. And now, in 2016, THE FORTUNES OF TEXAS: ALL FORTUNE’S CHILDREN will explore the story of tech giant Gerald Robinson and his family of Austin, Texas. Could he truly be a long-lost member of the fabled Fortune family? To celebrate the 20th anniversary, we had the pleasure of bringing back the matriarch Kate Fortune, and even doing an online prequel to set the stage for this continuity (FORTUNE’S FEAST by Marie Ferrarella.)
Knowing how much the readers love this family and this continuity has enabled us to branch out, and really expand the world of the Fortunes—but always, always maintaining the focus on the elements that make this continuity so special: the concept of bringing family back together. Which, of course, is also what Special Edition is all about—characters who place importance on love and family.
NRT: What’s next for the Fortunes? For Special Edition?
SL: For 2017, we’ve got some fun stories coming your way as we get even deeper into the mystery of Gerald Robinson’s past—and the tangled love lives of his legitimate and illegitimate children! And Special Edition has a number of wonderful authors and titles coming in the next few months—the new Montana Mavericks continuity, THE BABY BONANZA, kicks off in July with MARRIAGE, MAVERICK STYLE! by Christine Rimmer, and we’ve got books coming from bestselling authors including Merline Lovelace, Rachel Lee, Stella Bagwell, Brenda Harlen, plus RITA-winner Caro Carson and new voices including Joanna Sims and Katie Meyers. And in December, we will have THE HOLIDAY GIFT, a brand-new Cowboys of Cold Creek title from RaeAnne Thayne.
NRT: Now, for the most important question– who is your all-time Fortunes crush?
SL: Unfair question (how can you possibly choose just one?!) But after lots of deep thought about my favorite hero—and heroine!—I have to choose Galen Fortune Jones and Aurora McElroy from FORTUNE’S JUNE BRIDE by Allison Leigh (THE FORTUNES OF TEXAS: COWBOY COUNTRY). I was a theater geek in high school and college, so I really “got” this story—and the idea of a curmudgeonly—yet sexy—cowboy getting suckered into playing an old-timey cowboy in an amusement park stage show was both endearing and adorable . . . and sexy! I also loved the very Hugh Grant-esque Charles Fortune Chesterfield of FORTUNE’S SPECIAL DELIVERY by Michelle Major. What can I say? I’m a sucker for good manners and a sexy accent. 🙂
NRT: What’s been the Favorite Fortunes installment/season/storyline?
SL: Augh. Another unfair question. Truthfully, to date, I love each one as I’m working on it, because I get completely immersed in details, plots, characters, and so on. And I think we really did outdo ourselves for ALL FORTUNE’S CHILDREN to create a 20th anniversary to remember! But we’ve got some great plans up our sleeves for 2017 . . . 🙂 Plenty of family secrets, cowboys both rich and poor, and the women who love them for all. Readers will not want to miss a word!
If you’re a Fortunes fan what’s your favorite story or who is your favorite character? If you haven’t yet read the Fortunes series, what’s your favorite storyline or hero archetype? Nancy will give a $5 Amazon gift card to one person who comments.
Yes, that is a chocolate dragon’s egg, er, Easter egg, and it was filled with CHOCOLATE COVERED POPCORN!!!
I think we can agree that’s pretty good. And it’s also bad, because eating so much Easter candy (along with not one but TWO chocolate cakes), especially when combined with champagne, can lead to some very bad things. Like an EPIC sugar hangover.
Some of my family was visiting for Easter this last weekend. Which was mostly very good, except for the few times we wandered into the political arena. Fortunately, we all managed to pull back before too much damage was inflicted on the combatants.
We were a fairly small group this year: my 92-old dad, my stepmother (who takes excellent care of Dad), my brother and his wife, and two of my nieces. It was actually the perfect size because my dad does tend to get a bit overwhelmed with the noise and commotion. Because in addition to celebrating this joyous religious holiday, we were also celebrating my sister-in-law’s 60th birthday. As you can imagine, that is both good and bad depending on how you feel about turning 60. But as my esteemed father says: it’s hell getting old but the alternative is worse.
This is a picture of my father and my sister-in-law cutting the rug to some Frank Sinatra. That is indeed good.
And here’s a picture of Dad with his two beautiful granddaughters. Trust me when I tell you that they are beautiful both inside and out, and super smart. And that’s where the fun–and the funny–came in. Those two gals pretty much had us in stitches all weekend. Of course, I also shared some pretty funny stories about their father and uncles that they hadn’t yet heard, which is always LOTS of fun. Nothing like getting back at your dopey brothers for all that childhood teasing!
Another good thing? My one niece taught me how to do GIFS on my cellphone and also on Twitter. I am now constantly texting Adele and Kim Kardashian GIFS to my husband. I think that’s VERY funny. Hubby, however, does not. Killjoy.
Here I am with my truly stunning niece:
We had four wonderful days of hanging out, telling stories, sharing the occasional heartache or worry, cherishing every moment we had with my dad, and basically eating and drinking non-stop, except for the occasional sleep breaks. All very good…except I did mention the too much chocolate, cake, champagne, sangria, cocktails….well, you get the picture. By Monday morning, we were all feeling pretty…bad.
In fact, this magazine I spotted in the supermarket seemed printed just for us:
I swear I’m getting right on that–as soon as I can get off the couch!!
Do you have family events that are, perhaps, a bit too much fun? Do you ever regret them in the morning? Tell me all about it for a chance to win a copy of my latest VK Sykes contemporary romance, SEE YOU AT SUNSET.