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 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.


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

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