Behind the Book: The Sagamore Resort

Resort located in Lake George, New York

Resort located in Lake George, N.Y.

Welcome to my first “Behind the Book” blog post where I share the inspiration for my stories’ characters, settings, plots–and all that fascinating literary stuff.

Today’s escape takes us to The Sagamore Resort in Lake George, New York, featured in Chapter Fourteen of my debut novella, A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, releasing 11.11.14 as part of Tule’s “Christmas in New York” series.

As part of my research, I spent a day with my Honey four hours north of our Long Island home one day this summer and we immersed ourselves in the resort life.

The Sagamore Resort

The Sagamore Resort

The Mohican on Lake George

The Mohican on Lake George

As we enjoyed a leisurely lunch of lobster roll and a good bottle of wine on La Bella Vita’s open-air balcony, I people-watched. Tourists and convention attendees were scattered across the grounds. Children tossed footballs, played tag, and roamed between the beach and hotel, enjoying their freedom and the gorgeous weather. Adults read in cozy Adirondack chairs, lounged near the water, or sipped cold beverages at one of the lakeside bar restaurants.

View from La Bella Vita

View from La Bella Vita

After the meal, we walked the grounds, talking to staff, taking in the lake sights, and snapping a few photos.

Sagamore Resort Beach

Sagamore Resort Beach

Lobby Elevators

Lobby Elevators

Then we trekked indoors. We sat in the lobby and I inhaled the fragrant flowers while I listened to heels echo off the parquet flooring. I gazed at the grand piano and imagined someone playing for the room. I could almost see Jade, my heroine from A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, stepping out of the elevator and glancing upward at the chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings before she made her way to the carpeted stairs leading to La Bella Vita for dinner.

Sagamore Resort Lobby

Sagamore Resort Lobby

After a few hours of exploration and relaxation, we noticed the wind had begun to pick up and the clouds were rolling in. A late afternoon storm was headed our way. We reached the car as the first raindrops fell then drove through the village packed with tourists in spite of the downpour. At one point I swore I glimpsed Jade and Ben shopping there, strolling hand in hand.

Or maybe it was just my imagination.

At the Sagamore

At the Sagamore

That Lake George chapter practically wrote itself the following day. My fingers flew over the keyboard and hours passed by in the blink of an eye as I wove memories from our adventure into Jade and Ben’s journey to happily-ever-after.

A Light in The Window  What’s one of your favorite day trips from this summer?

Adore those Animal Antics

Welcome to this week’s Margarita Moment! If you enjoy this post and my little island life inspired blog, please sign up for your free, weekly escape. (Look on the right sidebar.) It will sail to your inbox on Mondays. Thanks for visiting!

Animal lover? I thought so. Most of us are, and that love isn’t usually limited to cats and dogs. We humans seems to get a kick out of the antics of all kinds of creatures. In the cat vs. dog debate, however, I personally lean toward the feline persuasion, having blogged “Keep Your Valium, Doctor, I Have My Cat!” and sharing oodles of adorable pics of my cuddly companion on Facebook and Twitter.

Viral Videos

Our fascination with adorable non-human creatures is demonstrated by the endless stream of animal video clips that go viral on the internet. If you search “animal video” on YouTube, almost 20 million choices pop up. If you narrow your search to “funny animal videos for children,” you still have approximately 4 million clips. Personally, I love animal videos and baby videos, but the babies with animals make me nervous. I understand most pets would never harm a child, but they are animals and as such I think they can be unpredictable. Here’s a cute cat video compilation. I especially like the cat falling asleep at 1:15, the cat boxing with the TV at 2:38, and the cat giving the another cat a massage at 6:08.

If you don’t care to watch a longer video, here’s an adorable one for a minute of your time.

Animals in Books

My faithful writing buddy

My faithful writing buddy

Animals also play a role in literature. My favorite book as a child featured an animal. FOLLOW MY LEADER  by James Garfield is about a boy’s life after he’s blinded by a firecracker over the Fourth of July holiday. Jimmy eventually gets a guide dog, Leader, who becomes his eyes and connection to the sighted world. That story, to me, was as much about Leader as it was Jimmy. I read that book in 1976 and still remember it as if I read it yesterday. That’s the power of a great story. You haven’t heard of that title? Another of my favorites is BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell, the classic tale about a girl’s love for a horse.

As a contemporary romance writer, I include animals in the story when it makes sense for my characters. In ONE MORE SUNSET (Entangled, Late Fall 2014), heroine Abby Stone is on the run from her ex-boyfriend. She isn’t in a situation where she can care for an animal. Yet when creating my hero, Ben, for A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW (Tule Publishing, Nov 2014) I immediately envisioned him with a large, well-mannered dog. Sadie is a sweet Golden Retriever who appears in most scenes with Ben. She even has a career as a therapy dog at the town’s local senior center.

Of course, I’m not the first author to feature an animal in a contemporary romance, Kristin Higgins is well-known for including dogs in her books. In fact, when I searched on Amazon for her titles, ten of her book covers included a canine with the couple. My close friend and talented author Jeannie Moon gave her cat, Mo Kitty, a part in her Forever Love novel, THE TEMPORARY WIFE.

Animals in Daily Life

This inclusion and love of animals makes sense to me as a reader and writer of contemporary fiction because the reality is, whether we have pets or not…animals are part of most people’s daily lives. Generations of squirrels have cohabitated with my family on our quiet tree-lined street, entertaining us with their playfulness. We lamented their fates after Hurricane Irene hit and knocked over one of our large oak trees in the front yard, forcing us to make the difficult decision to cut the others to avoid future home damage, which in turn left some of those furry creatures temporarily homeless. We have taught our children about the many species of birds that fly onto our property and have built bird houses and fed the winged creatures through the more than two decades. In fact, a friendly baby bird inspired this post–tapping on my front screen door and hopping around (so cute!) on our front step.

Baby Bird Knocked at My Door!

Baby Bird Knocked at My Door!

 

What are your favorite stories featuring animals? What role do animals play in your daily life? Have a favorite animal video to share?

 

 

 

San Antonio River Walk

 

Welcome to San Antonio!

Enjoying the famed River Walk

Enjoying the famed River Walk

Thank y’all for joining me in this week’s escape deep in the heart of Texas. Named after the Christian saint by the Spanish missionaries who founded it, San Antonio is seeped in history. This is the home of Texan and Native American museums, the Alamo, and–according to 10Best.com of USA Today Travel–the sixth best boat ride in the United States.

River Walk

River Walk draws more than 1.5 million tourists each year.  Winding paths run along a 2.5 mile stretch of luxurious hotels, thirty-two eateries, nightclubs, retail shops, and other entertainment.  Completed in 2009, the newer Museum Reach cruise section added another 1.3 miles of walkways for tourists and locals alike to enjoy. Altogether, the actual San Antonio River and the human-made sections extend more than fifteen miles.

 

AND if you happen to take the cruise on a weekend evening, you may get lucky and see this:

 

Hope y’all enjoyed your stroll with me!

Christmas in July

Life has been good yet busy, between pursuing the writing career and day job demands. I always enjoy chatting with so many of you on Facebook and Twitter, but am excited to be back here on the blogosphere. Hope you’re having a wonderful summer so far–happy and healthy.

Christmas in July?

Yes, it is in my little world. Three of my closest writer girl friends and I proposed a holiday series to TULE Publishing. I’m so excited to share that we’ve signed our contracts for the four-book series called Christmas in New York.

An Adirondack Christmas

An Adirondack Christmas

Here’s the line-up:

Four life-long best friends find love through unexpected reunions at Christmas time in New York…

Single mom Sabrina, who never left her coastal Long Island hometown, reunites with her son’s father–the hockey player who broke her heart. THIS CHRISTMAS by Jeannie Moon, author of The Temporary Wife and the upcoming Second-Chance Hero (Intermix).

Adirondack girl-in-transition Jade returns home to her lakeside village to discover the boy next door is all grown up. A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW by Jolyse Barnett, author of the upcoming One More Sunset (Entangled).

New York City academic Cassandra finds magic once again with an Irish musician–the first love she never forgot. ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Gracen, author of Autumn Getaway and the just-released Winter Hopes (Booktrope).

Restless Elena reconnects with the kind-hearted stranger who gave her a glimmer of light during her darkest days. GOODNESS AND LIGHT by Patty Blount, author of young adult novels Send and the upcoming Some Boys (Sourcebooks Fire).

Christmas is July is pretty cool. I’m having so much fun writing this book, and having three plotting pals to share the journey is all the better.

I can’t wait for our readers to unwrap our stories 11.11.14!

Who’s Up For Spring Break 2014?

Duval Street, Key West

Duval Street, Key West

Among the top Spring Break destinations in the United States for America’s young adults are:

  • Key West, Florida
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • South Padre, Texas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Lake Havasu, Arizona
  • Panama City, Florida
Family Lunch at EPCOT's Rose & Crown

Family Lunch at EPCOT’s Rose & Crown

Among the top five Spring Break destinations for families this year are:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Bahamas
  • San Diego, California
  • Captiva, Florida

Five Spring Break tunes for college-age kids (or young at heart):

Five Spring Break songs for the over-40 crowd:

I never experienced Spring Break as a college student, but have enjoyed many as an adult, usually with the family in Orlando. Happy times! For all of us unable to travel this season, how about we pour ourselves a glass of our favorite beverage, turn on our personal Spring Break playlist, and relax.

x0x0~Jolyse

Are you traveling for Spring Break? Any Spring Break moments–good or bad–to share?

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Winter Boots, Hello Heels

Can't wait to wear these!

Can’t wait to wear these!

For anyone living in America, you are well aware of how tortuously long this winter season has been. Extraordinarily so. Retail therapy was one of my ways to escape the dreary weather.

I. Love. Shoes.

When I spied this gem of a pair made by Mercanti Fiorentini in DSW’s clearance section, I immediately pictured wearing them at my first book signing. They aren’t a pair my feet will tolerate for an evening of dancing, but are too pretty not to own. Right?

Surprisingly Comfy!

Surprisingly comfy!

This next pair reminds me of Cherry Adair, NYT Bestselling Author of romantic suspense and hilariously fun and competitive shoe maven at RWA’s annual national conference. These black heels are as sexy walking away as they are cute coming toward you. Think I’ll have an edge over Cherry if we bump into each other while I’m wearing these beauties?

Ooh la la!

Ooh la la!

After a dreary season of neutrals, it’s fun to select heels with a bit of spunk.

A Pop of Pink

A Pop of Pink

Do you subscribe to retail therapy or are you strictly a buy-for-a-purpose kind of gal?

 

 

 

 

Saving Mr. Banks, Miss Potter, and Magical News

Castle at Disney World

Castle at Disney World

Saving Mr. Banks

One of my favorite Disney movies is Mary Poppins. I’ve often joked with children in my care that I’m “practically perfect in every way.” I’ve seen the play on Broadway three times (once without any kids) and of course, know all the songs. I thought I already knew everything about the classic movie the night my honey and I decided to see Saving Mr. Banks.

I was wrong.

P. L. Travers:

  • grew up in Australia, not England. (She moved there later in life.)
  • idolized her father, who died quite young due to alcoholism.
  • based Mary Poppins on her stern aunt rather than her mother
  • originally declined Walt Disney’s repeated offers to buy the rights to her story because she didn’t feel a musical set the correct tone
  • eventually agreed to the musical when she fell in love with some of the songs
  • disapproved of the animated portions of the Disney movie
  • created Mary Poppins was her way of “saving” her father in fiction since she hadn’t been able to save him from himself in reality

Illustration from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Illustration from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Miss Potter

As a kid, I memorized Green Eggs and Ham, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Peter Rabbit. When I became a mother to a baby boy, I decorated his bedroom with Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter characters. I read all her stories to my children and own the video adaptations on VHS. When I came across Miss Potter on Amazon Prime a few weeks ago, I figured I knew most everything there was to know about the author.

Once again, I was wrong.

Beatrix Potter:

Illustration from Peter Rabbit

Illustration from Peter Rabbit

  • was from a wealthy family
  • was secretly engaged to her publisher but he died before they could marry
  • was very particular about the final appearance of her illustrations
  • insisted on limiting the cost of her books so more people could afford them
  • eventually married later in life to the realtor who sold her a country estate

I also recently watched Magic Beyond Words: An Unauthorized Biography of J. K. Rowling, but too many reviewers of that movie question its authenticity for me to feel comfortable sharing my comments.

Why the recent interest in author movies?

A typical summer day writing on the patio

A typical summer day writing on the patio

Perhaps it’s because…

I sold!

I’m a bona fide, sold-my-first-book author. (See, all those late nights, early mornings, and weekends tapping away at a keyboard eventually pay off.) Entangled Publishing has bought the rights to One More Sunset, my romantic suspense/magic novel set between two of my favorite places–New York City and Key West. Entangled is a wonderful, quality company and I’m thrilled to join their team. The book’s release is estimated for late fall/early winter 2014 and will be part of Entangled’s category suspense line, Ignite.

Until next time, enjoy the Moments. Springtime, here we come!!!

Jolyse xoxo

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

A Key West “Choose Your Adventure”

Need an escape from endless shoveling, worries about heating costs, and that cold white stuff that makes going about your daily business so difficult–if not downright dangerous? I do. Let’s go. Imagination is free.

Fly free of responsibilities...

This tropical locale is the kind of place where the biggest decisions are which restaurants to choose, which activities to enjoy, and which drinks to sip as we laze away the days.

Landing at your island destination, you enjoy the freedom that comes along with shedding heavy layers of clothes and leaving your daily routine behind. You check into your accommodations. It’s everything you hoped for. When you pull back the curtains of your luxury suite that leads to your private balcony, you wonder why you waited so long to make that leap and visit the southernmost city. Your view overlooks Mallory Square, one of the world’s most famous places to people-watch and enjoy the sun set. Oh, but the clock tower at nearby Key West Museum chimes one, so you figure you have plenty of time to explore before considering the night’s entertainment.

One of those balconies has your name on it. :)

One of those balconies has your name on it. 🙂

What will you do first? If you stroll down Key West’s main drag, Duval Street, you choose to stop for at Hog’s Breath Saloon, where you strum your fingers to the live music and chat with fellow escapees on the adjacent bar stools as you sip a Hogarita or two. Waving goodbye to your new friends, you finish your drink and head into the brilliant sunshine for another adventure. You make your way toward Upper Duval, stopping to read the crazy t-shirt sayings at the tacky souvenir shops or visiting bars such as Sloppy Joe’s, Irish Kevin’s, Rick’s, The Bull & Whistle, Fat Tuesday’s, and Buffet’s original Margaritaville.

Fogarty's on Duval

Fogarty’s on Duval

If you opt to visit a number of those establishments or even one for an extended period of time, be prepared to learn the true meaning of the phrase “Duval Crawl.” Otherwise, you can choose to continue your walk to the Butterfly Conservatory and South Beach.

South Beach, Key West

South Beach, Key West

Butterflies and beaches aren’t on the agenda for your first day? Retrace your steps, making a right at the Conch Train station and heading past the Hyatt Resort to the Key West Historic Seaport. You could relax on the deck of Turtle Kraals and watch the comings and goings at the marina or trek the boardwalk until you spy another eatery that fits your style.

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk

Jolyse Barnett PhotographyAfter your late lunch, you could shop (perhaps buy a bottle of wine for later in the evening), talk with local tour charter vendors to book a ghost tour, sunset sail, fishing boat, jet skiing or kayaking eco-tour for later in your stay, or return to the hotel for an afternoon siesta. Before you rest, however, don’t forget to talk with your concierge about selecting just the right restaurant for that romantic dinner before you join the crowd headed to Mallory.

Mallory Square Performer

Mallory Square Performer

After your scrumptious meal and a picturesque sunset you wind your way through entertainers and tourists to Old Town’s quaint side streets, breathing in the ambiance and architecture of the city before returning to Front Street and your hotel. If you’ve had enough excitement for your first day, you can choose to stroll hand-in-hand to your suite, open that bottle of wine and enjoy your loved one’s company.

The following morning…you’re off to a new adventure. What will yours be?

Sailing in Key West Harbor

Sailing in Key West Harbor

Awkward Moment, my Valentine?

Jolyse Barnett PhotographyFebruary fourteenth, the holiday of love, anticipated by some, ridiculed by others. In America, heart displays are featured in the malls and in jewelry commercials with cuddly teddy bears and rose bouquets.

My honey and I tend to celebrate low-key. Winter is a hectic time at work and school is in session. We may watch a movie, go to dinner, or exchange cards. One year was particularly memorable (See LOVE IS IN THE AIR post. My honey still gets kudos from my friends and me for his unique and lasting gift.)

People often remark that we should be as generous and giving like we are on December 25th. I agree and feel the same way about Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t we appreciate our loved ones every day?

Exhausting, you say? Unreasonable? Perhaps, but as a gal still crazy in love after more years than I could have ever imagined, I believe it’s worth the effort. What are the keys to forever love? I don’t know for certain. Marrying our best friend, learning to laugh at ourselves, growing close in good times, and holding each other closer during bad, never forgetting why we fell in love…that has worked for us.

February Movie?

Rylie and I recently saw THAT AWKWARD MOMENT with Zac Efron and cast. We liked it- a lot. I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies as well as witty, off-beat (sometimes raunchy) dialogue/humor. This wasn’t your typical romantic comedy. It focused on three guys and their relationship issues. Still, I was satisfied with how their characters evolved, and I loved, loved the ending. I really like when a story comes full circle and ties together with a beautiful, metaphorical red ribbon.

So…you can imagine my surprise when I saw all the poor reviews for this movie. I’m curious. Have you seen THAT AWKWARD MOMENT? Did you hate it and regret spending money on it, or did you enjoy it for the elements that made you laugh out loud and the dark moment that left you with a tear in your eye and a lump in the throat?

Whatever your relationship status, Margarita Moments wishes you a wonderful Valentine’s Day.   xoxo  Jolyse

Do You Believe in Signs?

Fools Rush In, the 1997 romantic comedy starring Selma Hayek and Matthew Perry, is a story about opposites attracting and finding true love in spite of all their differences. The heroine’s belief in signs plays a pivotal role in bringing the two lovers together for their happily-ever-after.

I like that because I believe in signs too.

Jolyse Barnett PhotographyOn our recent Key West getaway to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary, my honey and I arrived at our favorite B&B to learn I had an offer of contract for my romantic suspense novel. That story is set in Key West.

Sign Number One.

We went into full celebration mode, biking, swimming, fishing, and dining at five-star restaurants. On the last night, we embarked on the Jolly Rover II, an eighty-foot tall ship known as a schooner–built in the same style as turn-of-the-century pirate ships. The friendly crew taught us the history of the ship as we soaked in the view.

Key West Harbor

Key West Harbor

Jolyse Barnett Photography

Key West Evening

As if all these wonderful experiences weren’t enough, a small yacht motored past our pirate ship just before sunset. On board appeared to be none other than Howard Livingston crooning his song,”Living on Key West Time.” (Judge for yourself by comparing to his official photos on Mile Marker 24’s website.)

Sign Number Two.

Howie Livingston?

Howie Livingston? I’d say yes.

The Cherry on Top of a Perfect Sail

The Cherry on Top

Mallory Square

Mallory Square

We were thrilled. You see, not only did we know and love the song, but I’d created a YouTube video for this blog  using it a few years ago. We listened as we sipped our favorite wine and enjoyed one more sunset before returning to our Long Island home. By the way, if you like your signs in sets of three, this story won’t disappoint. The current title of my novel happens to be One More Sunset.

Some say there is no such thing as coincidence, while others say signs are only a person’s wishful thinking, attaching meaning to a random event. What do you think?

A Bonus:

I hate cold weather, but these photos of frozen bubbles are utterly breathtaking.

http://kellyimagesandphotography.webs.com/

The Scariest Moment

“The scariest moment is just before you begin.”       Stephen King

Which direction for you?

Which direction will you choose?

This quote is true for people like me, people leery of the unknown. I tend to frequent the same stores and restaurants, eat the same dozen or so meals, and follow the same daily routine. I even visit the same vacation spot and stay at the same great little B&B each year.

There’s something to be said for comfort.

But there may come a time when you realize you need to push yourself—to grow, to change, to improve your life. What do you want to accomplish more than anything else? What are you doing to reach that goal? Have you surrounded yourself with like-minded, supportive, or inspirational influences?

A new year is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive change in your world—big or small. Embrace change for the better by making the most of each moment.

Happy New Year 2014!

Key West Wonders

Boating through the backcountry

Boating the backcountry

I treasure many moments from our recent getaway to the Conch Republic, including a kayaking tour, a romantic sunset dinner at the famous Latitudes Restaurant, and to my honey’s delight, an early morning fishing excursion.

Sunny Key West Morning

Sunny Key West Morning

I’m not exactly a morning person. Okay, I’m most definitely not, and vacation is the perfect excuse to savor a lazy wake up. But we had so much fun fishing with Captain Ron a few years back on our first Key West charter that I agreed to do it all over again. This time out, I promised myself I would remember how to cast a line and I was determined to bait my own hook and learn how to handle any fish I caught.

Sailboat neighbors

Sailboat neighbors

You see these sailboats floating around on the gulf side of Key West? People live on these vessels, some full-time in the harbor and others staying anywhere from a week to a month before moving on. Imagine how much thinking, writing, or reading you could accomplish without all the distractions. I wonder…

Jack and Me

Jack and Me

I loved every part of the experience, from watching the sun rise as our skiff motored through the channels to the backcountry fishing spots to learning about the different baits, lures and eating fish, to catching  our lunch and releasing my first-ever fighting fish–a beautiful jack.

The competition

The competition — a brown pelican

For four beautiful hours we were part of nature, the warm sun at our backs, the waves lapping against the skiff, and exotic birds landing near us as we waited patiently for a tug on our lines.

An egret

A Great White Egret

I hope to travel to the southernmost city in America again one day soon. The waters are calling me. I’ve added Pilates to my routine in preparation for our next adventure–paddle boarding.

Our Catch -- feed us and guests at Turtle Kraals

The catch we shared with fellow guests at Turtle Kraals

What’s one of your favorite memories from 2013?

Hemingway and Gellhorn

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErnest Hemingway. You’ve likely heard of him. Martha Gellhorn? Likely not, unless you tuned into HBO’s 2012 movie about the late macho writer and his third wife. I haven’t paid for premium channels since I began writing seriously three years ago, so I was unaware of this little gem. Rylie and I happened to be browsing the DVDs in our public library when she came across it and said, “Hey Mom, this one looks like one you’d want to watch.” She was right.

Summary:

The movie starts out in Key West. Martha Gellhorn meets Hemingway at the famous Sloppy Joe’s bar and sparks fly between the two, despite the fact he’s married with children. Papa follows the intriguing war correspondent overseas to the Spanish Civil War and their romance explodes full-force.

The Original Sloppy Joe's

The Original Sloppy Joe’s

They eventually return to the states, his wife learns of his infidelity and refuses him a divorce. Hemingway dedicates For Whom the Bell Tolls to his Marty and leaves for Cuba with her. He ultimately wins his divorce and promptly asks Gellhorn (living with him) to become his third wife. She agrees. Always the roving reporter, she begs him to accompany her to China.

Hem reluctantly agrees. The film alludes to her interest in other men during their travels. Upon their return to Cuba, she is bored with the domestic life and he drinks more heavily, lazing the days away on a boat with his friends. They fight. He hits her, tells her he has taken her Colliers job as war correspondent, and basically destroys the love she felt for him in one fell swoop.

Marty refuses to sit by while Hemingway gets the first-hand account of the war, managing to gain access to a Navy ship floating hospital disguised as a nurse. Hemingway meets another woman (who later becomes his fourth and final wife) and Gellhorn divorces him. Fast-forward to the final events of his life and a glimpse at Gellhorn’s subsequent attitude toward her days as Mrs. Hemingway.

Favorite Quotes:

Hemingway to Gellhorn on writing well…

“The whole trick is learning how people talk. Most people don’t listen.”

Hemingway to Gellhorn on war…

“There are a lot of bargains to be had in time of war if you don’t mind wearing the clothes of the dead.”

Gellhorn’s reflecting about her marriage to Hemingway…

“When there wasn’t a war going on, we managed to create our own.”

“I don’t want to be a footnote in someone else’s life.”

Bravo:

Fiery on-screen chemistry between Nicole Kidman as Martha “Marty” Gellhorn and Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway. Their first love scene is one I won’t soon forget and a reason I’d watch the movie again.

Objective presentation of both figures, allowing the viewer to make her own conclusions about them.

Quick pacing throughout the first three-quarters of the film.

If I were the movie producer:

I would have delved a bit deeper into some of the secondary characters’ connections to Hemingway and Gellhorn’s relationship.

I would have included more details about Hemingway’s writing habits.

I would have ended the film in Cuba while Hem and Marty were still madly in love. Yes, we can guess (if we didn’t already know) that this couple didn’t get their happily-ever-after. The final quarter of the movie was sad and slow for me as it showed the inevitable unraveling of Hemingway and Gellhorn’s relationship and even worse, Papa’s difficult, final years.

For the curious:

Article and photo from the Hemingway-Gellhorn Wedding

Jerome Tuccille wrote the book, Hemingway and Gellhorn (2011).

Martha Gellhorn wrote a memoir, Travels with Myself and Another, that details many of the events touched upon in the movie. The “another” of course, refers to Hemingway.

Boston Globe Review of HBO’s Hemingway and Gellhorn  (I read this article after writing mine. I think it’s interesting how the two leads are so similar.)

Has any movie caught your attention recently?

Casa Antigua - Hemingway's First Home in Key West

Casa Antigua – Hemingway’s First Home in Key West

Giving Thanks 2013

Today in the United States we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving, begun in 1621 at Plimouth Plantation. The Pilgrims celebrated a successful harvest with their Native American friends, the Wampanoags, for three joyous days.

In addition to the traditional blessings, I am especially thankful for these three:

DSCN7956My honey is in complete remission from prostate cancer, his blood counts back to normal for a man his age. He hardly broke stride this past year, and I pray his good health and attitude continues.

My readers, followers, and friends through social media are a treasure I could never have anticipated when I began this journey toward publishing three-and-a-half years ago. I have learned from you, laughed and cried with you, but most of all, have welcomed into my heart your wonderful friendships from around the world. Thank you all. You are dear to me. I wish I had endless time to respond to every post, Facebook Update, and Tweet I read of yours. Please know how important you are to me and how your being there has impacted my life. I only hope I have brightened your life half as much as you have brightened mine!

Row your little boat. You'll get there!

Row your little boat. You’ll get there!

Finally, thanks to all of you who encourage me to keep writing, to keep querying. I recently received an offer of contract from Entangled Publishing to make my romantic suspense/magical novel part of their Ignite line of ebooks. I promise to share all the incredible details as soon as I can!

Hugging Couple outside Key West Museum

Hugging Couple outside Key West Museum

In the meantime, I appreciate my family’s support as I clickety-click on the keyboard of my laptop, gaze into space while I imagine instead of clean, and work out story elements at the dinner table, on car rides, and–okay–pretty much everywhere they will allow. I realize how lucky I am they believe in me and my dreams.

And for you all, a big virtual hug.

Enjoy the moments!

Key West Sunset 2013

Key West Sunset 2013

Sunset Key and Latitudes

DSCN7912Welcome to this week’s Margarita Moment! If you enjoy this post and are a newcomer to my little island life inspired blog, sign up for your free, weekly escape. (Look to your right.) It will sail to your inbox on Mondays, more or less, depending on life’s currents and my novel writing schedule. Thanks for visiting.

The History of Sunset Key

During the 19th century, sediment from repeated Navy dredging projects in Key West’s Harbor was deposited a few hundred yards off the northwestern corner of the island. One of the resulting new islands was designated a fueling station and named Tank Island.

In 1986, the US government sold the 27-acre Tank Island to a developer. Westin Resorts built an exclusive resort on the northwestern quadrant and the island became known (at least to tourists) as Sunset Key. Exclusive vacation properties, owned by celebrities and wealthy business owners such as Oprah Winfrey, span the other three-quarters.

A Sunset Key Property

A Sunset Key Property

Latitudes

Latitudes is the renowned Westin resort restaurant on Sunset Key. I mentioned this restaurant in a previous blog post about romantic dining options in Key West. If you’re interested in planning a romantic sunset dinner at this particular restaurant, I suggest you reserve well in advance. Determine the time of sunset for your selected evening and then book online through Open Table. Take into consideration that the reserve time is when you’re expected to be at the Sunset Key Ferry on the Key West side. There’s a ten-minute ride across the harbor.

The view from ferry of Sunset Key Westin Resort

The view from ferry of Sunset Key Westin Resort

Once you arrive at Sunset Key, you may stop at the outside bar for a drink or enter the restaurant directly for your table. On the evening we dined there, we were given the option of a patio table or inside. The view outside is breathtaking but beware the heat. The inside tables still allow for a beautiful view while providing a cooler, intimate setting. Diners are welcomed (even expected) to leave their tables as the sun makes it descent beneath the watery horizon.

View from an intimate inside table at Latitudes

View from an intimate inside table at Latitudes

Coconut Crusted Grouper

Coconut Crusted Grouper

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Citrus Marinated Salmon

The food at Latitudes is delightfully presented. I chose the seafood cocktail appetizer, the mixed greens salad, and coconut crusted grouper with baby bok choy and black beans. My honey had the lobster bisque and citrus marinated salmon with risotto and grilled asparagus. The service was fine, the wait staff attentive but not intrusive. A couple can enjoy an intimate conversation, a great meal, and an unforgettable sunset. After your meal, transport will be waiting at the end of a short walk to the launch.

We found our meal at Latitudes to be a beautiful start to another romantic evening on our Key West getaway.

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Sunset at Latitudes

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Sailing Past Sunset Key

A View from the Dock

A View from the Dock

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