They say it’s always best to leave a party when you’re still having fun. Sage advice, but not always easy to take. That’s how I feel about closing the blog next month. I have a lump in my throat even as I’m typing. The eight years that I’ve been part of the Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills have been so much fun. When I think about leaving this party, my gut reaction is NO! I’m not ready to go. Alas, since Jaunty will turn off the lights one month from today, it’s time to start winding down.
This is not my final goodbye; it’s a prequel…and it has me thinking of all the reasons I love this blog. I’d like to share my top five:
- We’re an eclectic bunch! We come from all walks of life, several different generations, and from countries all over the world (India, France, Iceland, The Netherlands, Canada, and many states in the USA, to name a few).
- We’ve discussed a wide range of topics: everything from birth, death, empty nests, and weddings, to what we would bring to a virtual cocktail party. We’ve exchanged recipes, cheered each other up and cheered each other on. Whenever I’ve had something exciting or unexpected happen, I’ve always been eager to share it with you. I’m going to miss that a lot.
- It’s been a safe haven to share our secrets, absent of judgment and intolerance. We really are a kind bunch – probably because we’re romance readers and writers. Even so, our differences are what make this community so wonderful. We’ve shared our experiences about true love and first kisses. We’ve offered each other advice about how to deal with bullies and unfaithful friends. We’ve even confessed our most embarrassing moments and our guilty pleasures.
- I’ve learned from you, Dear Readers. You’ve taken time out of your busy lives to comment on our posts, answering our questions and offering sage advice. I’ll always appreciate that.
- Finally, my number one favorite thing about being part of the Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills is it’s given me a chance to meet YOU! Please promise me we’ll keep in touch. One of the best ways to do that is by signing up for my newsletter. I send it out about four-six times a year. So, I promise not to flood your inbox. I offer my newsletter subscribers special perks. They get first peak at my new covers and sample chapters to read before everyone else. I offer recipes and other subscriber-only benefits, like the current contest where one subscriber will win this adorable crocheted candy corn Halloween banner.
Would you like to win it? Subscribe to my newsletter for a chance. You can sign up one of three ways:
- Hop over to my Nancy Robards Thompson Books Facebook page and click the button that says “Get My Newsletter.”
- Go to my website. On the top right side of the “Contact” page you’ll see a box that says “Sign up for my mailing list.”
- Or simply email me your email address (email@example.com) and I will add you.
As always, if you’ve already signed up, I appreciate it very much and you’re automatically entered to win every prize I offer. The candy corn banner winner will be announced on Monday, October 24. Just in time for you to receive it for Halloween. Good luck!
Shortly after my first book hit the shelves, an acquaintance confided that she almost couldn’t finish reading it because she felt as if she were prying into my life. “It was just so… intimate!” she’d said. I was equal parts astonished that she actually thought it was autobiographical and flattered that she thought I lived (or once lived) such an exciting life. I mean, I love my life, but it’s vastly different from the fictional worlds I create for my heroines.
But after I thought about it, I could see where she might have drawn that conclusion. While I’m a bit older than most of my heroines, I do tend to lend them characteristics and features similar to my own. Still, my heroines are not me. I don’t write about myself as much as I write about observations and what I find interesting.
Take, for example, my first book, REINVENTING OLIVIA. It was born one night when my husband and I were out to dinner at a trendy downtown restaurant. As we approached, I heard the faint sound of dance music coming from the loft condos above the restaurant. When I looked up, I saw a hand holding a drink over the balcony rail. I thought, wow, if I were young and single that’s where I’d live… and the story took off on its own. So, while my heroine, Olivia, was most decidedly not me, she was definitely a child of my imagination, born out of what-ifs and shades of possibility.
Within the pages of my thirty-four (and counting) books I’ve drawn on my own life experiences (because the first rule of writing is write what you know). I’ve borrowed characteristics from real-life villains (uhh–hmm – bosses) and given them their comeuppance on the page, or rewritten an unsatisfying true-to-life experience so that it ended happily, but the majority of my plots and characters come from the most unexpected places. That was the case with my book WITH VIOLETS (HarperCollins) – written under my historical nom de plume, Elizabeth Robards.
I’ve always been infatuated with the French Impressionists. So when my husband and I went to Paris, I was anticipating a daytrip to Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and famous gardens. Before we boarded a train at the Gare Saint-Lazare, to make our way to Giverny, we stopped at the Musée Marmottan to see Monet’s famous ‘Impression, Sunrise’ (Impression: Soleil Levant), the painting that launched the French Impressionist movement.
Little did I know, but I was about to meet painter Berthe Morisot on the second floor of the Musée Marmottan. Not literally, of course, because she died in 1895. However, I saw her work for the first time and a photograph of her with her family. Something about the photo haunted me and urged me to research her life. In doing so, I discovered the tale of a deeply complex, richly talented woman who bucked nineteenth century convention to become one of the world’s greatest artists and the heroine of WITH VIOLETS.
The research and the story were labors of love. And while the Berthe Morisot I wrote is not really like me – well, except for her strong, independent streak and a great passion for what she loved – I think there’s a little bit of every woman in her.
Anyhow, when a fertile imagination has its way with an interesting subject… Well, that’s how stories are born. Whether or not the plot is autobiographical, a writer can’t help but infuse a little of herself into the story.
Have you ever related to a fictional character so much that she seemed real? Who was it and what about her grabbed you?
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, it becomes fall in the Northern Hemisphere at exactly 10:21 a.m. EDT on Thursday, September 22. Even though it will take it a while to find Florida, as of that date, I will long for the smell of autumn in the air, the cooler temperatures, all the activities associated with fall – and pumpkin. I can’t get enough pumpkin; pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cheesecake (in moderation, of course), toasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin bread. I’ve shared my favorite pumpkin bread recipe below. What’s your favorite fall goodie?
I have another treat for you. My book Beauty and the Cowboy is free for a limited time. Get your copy HERE!
Nancy’s Pumpkin Bread
Unsalted butter at room temp for the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cloves
¼ tsp salt
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cup of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Coat two 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pans with butter; set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin and both sugars; mix on medium speed until well combined – 2 –3 minutes. Add the eggs and oil; mix until incorporated, bout 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With mixer on low, add the flour mix in two batches alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour until just combined.
Divide the batter between the two pans; smooth the tops with a spatula. Place pans on a baking sheet. Bake rotating the sheet halfway through until a knife inserted in the top comes out clean – about 55 – 60 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and cool completely. Bread can be kept at room temp, wrapped in plastic for up to 4 days.
Fall is just around the corner. I can’t wait. It’s my favorite season. It still feels like summer outside — and it probably will until well into October — because I live in Florida, but I know fall is coming. This meme pretty much sums up why I love it:
Here are three more things I’m excited about:
- The Norwegian and I are going to get away to the beach for a few days. I’ll be working because deadlines don’t take a vacation. I really don’t mind. There’s something about the laid back beach atmosphere and the sound of the waves hitting the sand that appeals to my muse. Here’s a picture I shot during last year’s beach getaway.
- I’m working on walking in a 5K later. Yes, walking. My running days are behind me, but I can walk at a pretty good distance at a respectable clip. My family and I are going to do it together and it benefits a local charity. So, it a win-win no matter how you look at it.
- Do you love a bargain? I do. My book BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY is free for a limited time! It’s a friends to lovers story and it’s the first book in Tule’s Meet Me at the Fair collection, which is part of the Montana Born series. I hope you’ll grab a copy. Can’t beat the price! You can get it HERE.
I’d love to know what’s your favorite season?
[This is a modified post originally published in 2009. I’ve updated some of the songs to make it more current. Enjoy!]
We’ve all known someone who has totally butchered the lyrics to a song. Not us, of course, but maybe a family member or a close, personal friend. Someone who was belting out a tune in total rock star mode when it happened –“WAIT! What did you say?… NO! That’s not how the song goes! Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!”
For me, the most delightful episode of misheard lyrics happened when my daughter was three. I was working in my office. She was playing quietly in her room when she started singing. Her sweet little voice carried down the hall, and the song went like this:
“You’re a grandma flag,
You’re a hot flying flag,
And forever in peace may she wave.
You’re the emblem of the land I love,
the home of the tree by the lake…”
I nearly wet my pants. I had to clasp my hand over my mouth to keep from ha-ha-ha’ing out loud. Once I contained myself, I walked into her room.
“Whatcha singing?” I asked.
“A song I learned in school,” she said.
“Really? Sing it for me again.”
And she did. With gusto.
Exactly as I’d heard it. Hot flying flags and all.
To this day it’s my favorite misheard lyrics story. Even better than the time my high school friend singing, “HAM ON RYE” when Kenny Logins sang, “I’M ALRIGHT.” Or when a girl at a party belted out, “YOU GOTTA DANCE TO THE LEFT, DANCE TO THE RIGHT…” as Jimmy Buffet sang, “YOU’VE GOT FINS TO THE LEFT, FINS TO THE RIGHT.” (She even had her own little dance to go with her imagined lyrics)
It even aced the time someone I know sang, “STOP! In the NEIGHBORHOOD before you break my heart.” When everyone knows Diana Ross says, “STOP! In the NAME OF LOVE….” To me, it’s even better than the king of bungled lyrics – that line from Jimmy Hendricks’ “Purple Haze,” “Excuse me while I kiss THIS GUY” when it should be “Excuse me while I kiss THE SKY.”
Okay, if I’m telling on everyone else, I suppose it’s only fair to fess up. Here are some recent songs I’ve misheard lately:
Thinking out loud by Ed Sheeran–
Correct: When my hair’s all but gone and my memory fades –
Misheard: When my head’s overdrawn and my memory fades
Blank Space by Taylor Swift–
Correct: Got a long list of ex-lovers
Misheard: Got a lot of Starbucks lovers
September – Earth Wind and Fire –
Correct: Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Misheard: Do you remember when it was hot in September?
How about you? Have you ever misheard lyrics or know of someone who has? Share it with us so we can all laugh together.