Lately I have been plagued by awkward situations. Maybe it’s because I have a young child who is now at the age that she notices and comments on everything. If only I could blame them all on her. I’m not the only one who suffers these endless moments where I wish a hole would swallow me up, am I?
Baby Galen has decided to walk out of preschool with her latest BFF and her BFF’s mother, who I don’t very well. What I do know of her, I don’t like. I don’t particularly like Baby Galen’s sassy, whiny new BFF very much either, but it’s just a short walk to the car. What can happen? I’ll tell you what can happen. Before I can even think of some inane small talk to exchange with sassy, whiny BFF’s mom, the girls have already cooked up a play date! The next thing I know, Baby Galen is saying, “Can my new friend come to my house and play?” I want to say no, but I’m totally in a rough spot, so I say, sure. “Maybe her mommy can drop her off some day.” And instead of playing along, the other mom says, “No, I don’t think so.” Sheesh! She could have at least waited until we were near the cars before saying that. It seemed like ten miles to the parking lot as we walked in silence and the girls boo-hooed.
I’m out at dinner with a friend of mine and a mutual friend of ours is throwing a party the next week. So I ask, “what are you wearing to the party?” She says, “What party?” And I still don’t get it, so I say, “Abigail’s [names changed to protect the guilty] party.” You already know what she said, right? She wasn’t invited. Oh, why haven’t I learned to keep my mouth shut?
This one is not my fault, but it’s one of those instances when you want to pretend you don’t know your child. Every Sunday at church there’s a children’s sermon, given by the youth leader that Baby Galen sees on a regular basis at her preschool. She’s comfortable with her and not at all too shy to speak up during the lesson and share her thoughts. In front of the whole church. So recently Miss Julie said something that made Baby Galen think about bugs. Unfortunately, we had a cockroach in our house a day or two before, and we’d had to kill it. We live in Houston. We get the occasional roach in the house. But as soon as bugs were mentioned, I knew what was coming. “Miss Julie!” a little voice boomed through the fellowship hall. “We had a roach in our house, and mommy said eek and daddy stomped it and sent it to live with Jesus.” Oh, just send me to Jesus now too. Because everyone knows she’s our child, and they’re all laughing and looking at us, and Ultimate Sportsfan and I were sinking in our seats. “We called the exterminator,” I whispered to our neighbors. “We don’t usually have roaches!” But I’m sure everyone is envisioning an episode of Hoarders now.
I shared, and now it’s your turn. Tell us your embarrassing moments. I have a copy of Reality TV Bites, one of my backlist contemporary books full of embarrassing moments to give away.
Something strange must happen to mothers of young children. I remember Kristan Higgins talking about how when her kids were young and how excited she was when a cute actor was on Sesame Street. She’d call her girlfriends to make sure they were watching.
At the time, my daughter was too young to watch Sesame Street, and I think I chalked it up to another one of those weird but funny things Kristan Higgins does.
After four years of watching children’s shows and movies almost exclusively, I think they have messed with my head. I’ve noticed I have crushes on fictional heroes—and not fictional heroes like Jamie from Outlander or Roarke from JD Robb’s In Death series. Heroes like Flynn Ryder from Tangled.
Here he is.
He’s funny! How could you not like that? And he’s a thief who ends up reforming. That’s the stuff romance novels are made of, right? Bad boy hero meets the heroine and changes to be a better man.
And then there’s Terence from Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.
He’s a great friend to Tinker Bell. I could totally see a Young Adult novel where the best friend Terence ends up winning the fairy heroine.
And I can’t forget Nod from Epic. He’s cute and a warrior. How we do love our sexy warriors in romance novels.
Do you have any crushes on fictional guys—cartoon or otherwise? And if you, like me love Flynn, check out my All Flynn Pinterest board.
It all started with a house. Not just any house, a mansion in Grosvenor Square. During the Regency, Grosvenor Square was home to the fabulously wealthy and titled, so what better place to throw a party? Of course, that’s only the beginning of the story. Fellow JQ Vanessa Kelly is here with me to chat more about how our holiday anthology, A Grosvenor Square Christmas, came to be.
Vanessa: I had a blast working on the antho with you ladies, too! Actually, I think the original idea to write a Christmas anthology was yours, wasn’t it? And although I have menopause memory, which basically means no memory to speak of, I recall that the four of us brainstormed settings for an anthology of connected stories. There have been a number of these holiday or Regency anthologies, but most are set in the country at a house party. That makes particular sense for a holiday story, since the haute ton tended to head off to their country estates in the winter. But some folks must have stayed in London for Christmas, and we thought it would be cool to place the action of our stories at a grand holiday party in the city. And what could be a grander setting than a mansion on Grosvenor Square, one of the premier places to reside in Mayfair?
Shana: Exactly! We wanted to do something a little different, and someone mentioned it would be fun if we wrote about an annual ball, hosted by someone whose invitations were coveted. And then Kate or Anna said we absolutely must have an eccentric butler, and Philbert was born. He actually turned in to something of a sexy secondary character.
Vanessa: Philbert started out as something of a running joke when we were brainstorming common elements. Obviously, we needed the interior of the house to remain basically the same, and the owner of No. 3 Grosvenor Square had to play a role, too. And Regency authors and readers all know how important butlers were to the smooth running of any household. How could you throw the most successful party of the year, decade after decade, without a fantastically competent butler? We did initially envision Philbert as something of an eccentric and even comic character, but when we created our hostess—the dashing Lucy Frost, the widowed Countess of Winterson—Philbert’s role began to change. We began to wonder exactly why Lucy never remarried, and it appeared that it had something to do with Philbert, who morphed from a stodgy and eccentric fellow into a tall, mysterious, and attractive man. What happens to Lucy and Philbert over the course of the four stories became part of the fun of writing these stories.
Shana: Well, in my story Philbert was initially short, but I quickly came to see the error of my ways. As you said, we wanted the interior of the house to match up in our stories. We all referred to these pictures and more for inspiration.
Another element we had to work out was our timeline. Kate and Anna wanted to write stories set technically after the Regency, in 1825 and 1830, while I wanted to set mine technically before the Regency, in 1803. You anchored us in 1818.
Since Lucy Frost is rather young in my story, set in 1803 and has aged 27 years by the time Kate wrote about her, we also needed a model who had aged publicly over time. We used Helen Mirren, who was and still is quite lovely.
Also, in contrast, I think Kate and Anna’s stories are stand-alones, but both of ours have connections to books we’ve written. But despite all these differences, we made it work!
How do Nigel Dash and Amelia Easton fit into the world of your other books?
Vanessa: Nigel Dash is a secondary character in all four books of my Stanton Family Series. He’s the typical best friend and consummate good guy, always stepping into the social breach to save the day. There isn’t an awkward moment he can’t smooth over, or a grumpy old dowager he can’t charm. My readers loved Nigel and wondered when he would get his HEA. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that. Amelia is a new character, and I think she’s just perfect for Nigel.
Shana, your story is connected to your Sons of the Revolution Series, which are wonderful books. Where does The Seduction of a Duchess fit in?
Shana: Readers were always asking me if the widowed heroes’ mother, Rowena, got her HEA. They also told me they were craving stories with older heroines. I thought this was the perfect venue to tell Rowena’s story.
The last thing I wanted to mention is that the anthology is digital only and it’s FREE on most retailers. The anthology is composed of short stories, around 10,000 words each, and we’re hoping is that those of you who haven’t read one of us featured in the anthology will read our story and give one of our longer books a try.
BN (waiting for it to publish)
Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.
Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?
1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen
Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?
1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly
Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.
1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell
At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.
1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble
Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…
You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?
I’m sitting here beside a stack of blank notecards that must be completed. A few weeks ago, my daughter had her 4th birthday party. We invited 30 or so kids, and 23 showed up to the inflatable bounce house where the event was held. That’s a lot of presents to say thank you for, and since Baby Galen can’t write, guess who is writing them? Yep. Me.
I don’t mind writing thank you notes. I actually kind of like it. I also like receiving thank you notes. If a present wasn’t opened in my presence, I like to know it was received. Has anyone but me noticed that thank you notes are starting to disappear? My daughter is at the age where we attend on average one birthday party a month. We went to 5 parties in September, which is the most popular birthday month around here. Of those 5, I received a thank you note for one gift. One.
What’s that about? And it’s not just birthday presents I don’t receive thank you notes for. Shower presents, wedding presents, Christmas presents…
I didn’t send or bring the gift to be thanked, so this isn’t the sort of thing that makes me mad. But it does make me puzzle. Are we becoming the sort of civilization who isn’t even civilized enough to say thank you?
Where do you stand? Write a note, a text or email is okay, or what’s the big deal?
I remember when I looked forward to weekends. I loved Saturdays in particular. Friday I was tired after teaching all week. Friday was a good night for Ultimate Sporstfan and I to get frozen yogurt, watch a few shows we’d recorded on the DVR, and fall asleep on the couch.
Saturday was for sleeping in, going out to brunch, reading all afternoon, and then dressing up for dinner and a night out. Sunday was for church, if we hadn’t had too much fun the night before, and a long afternoon nap.
I miss those days.
Now weekends are a blur of activity. This past weekend we were invited to no fewer than 4 parties, I had a booksigning, I had to attend a friend’s booksigning, and we had to go to the grocery store, dry cleaners, wash clothes, and clean the house. I did not even have time to read much less check my email. Sunday night as I fell into bed, all of that email in my inbox on my mind, I wailed, “What happened to weekends? I actually look forward to Mondays!”
It’s true. What kind of person looks forward to Mondays? I guess writers with children and husbands look forward to Mondays. Lovely Mondays when the husband goes back to work, the kid goes back to school, and the routine begins again. It’s just the cats and me. I have a handful of dishes to watch, plenty of time to write (well, really there’s never enough time to write), and a house not filled with the sound of football blasting from the TV.
How long have I known I had to write this blog? Weeks. When am I writing it? Monday. See? Monday is the day works gets done, pages are written, houses are cleaned, home cooked meals are prepared, inboxes are cleaned out, and diets begin.
What are your weekends like? Do you look forward to Friday or Monday?