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!

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.


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.”


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

Off to Brunnenburg, Italy!

IMG_2709I’m excited to introduce an extra special guest blogger, my daughter, Rylie. We hope you enjoy the first of her posts about her ten-day excursion to northern Italy. (Our lucky winner of Jeannie Moon’s debut novel, The Temporary Wife, is announced below!) 

Our student group traveled via Air Berlin out of JFK in New York to Germany on a seven-and-a-half hour flight with a five hour layover, and then on a one-and-a-half hour flight in a hopper plane to Venice, Italy. Our ultimate destination of Brunnenburg was a bumpy three hour ride into the Italian Alps, making the trip a total of approximately seventeen hours.
The allure of a trip overseas makes the discomfort of sitting upright between a rambunctious ten-year-old and a stranger bearable. Too wired to sleep, I managed thirty minutes or so of dozing around midnight New York time before the flight attendant offered us a breakfast of salami, tomatoes, fruit, and crackers. I ignored the cramping in my knees upon departure into Düsseldorf airport, and literally skipped through customs with joy. I was in Germany! I was officially abroad!

The best croissants ever...

The best croissants ever…

My second wind kicked in about an hour after getting our passports stamped. Off I went to explore while my classmates charged their iPods and iPads. Even the airport was a feast to my eyes, between the young German businessmen by baggage claim with their trimmed scruff and designer suits and an entire section of the building devoted to selling every type of chocolate you can imagine. I noted some differences between there and American airports. Some cool things: the bathrooms aren’t stalls, they’re little rooms. If you accidentally lock yourself in, you can’t crawl under the door to freedom. That may sound silly, but it happened several times to members of our group. Dusseldorf bathrooms are so clean that a person like me with OCD tendencies would feel comfortable making a sandwich on the bare floor. Speaking of food, instead of fast food restaurants like we see in many American airports, there were several cafés. They all sold these basic items: croissants, salads, fruit, a few types of sandwiches, and a lot of coffee and alcohol. I highly recommend the croissants. They were flaky, buttery, and filled with warm, gooey chocolate. (Do you notice a theme here? Yeah, I’m a fan of the sweet stuff.)

Chocolate HEAVEN!

Chocolate HEAVEN!


GLEE fans would appreciate this.

On our quick flight to Venice, I was unconscious from the time I buckled my seat belt until we shakily landed on the tarmac. We then boarded the coach bus that would take us north to Dorf Tirol, Italy, a small tourist town about ten miles southeast of the Austrian/Italian border. The drive up was awesome. Street signs on the highways are massive enough for the most near-sighted of drivers to easily read them, and there are emergency sections every few hundred meters (yes, meters) where the little hybrid cars can pull over. The highway walls are transparent with little bird decals on them, and there were very few housing developments. As our vehicle climbed further north, we spotted castles along the mountainsides. Vineyards and farms, with horses, sheep, cows and goats, dotted the lush landscape.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Allison Lloyd

PHOTO CREDIT: Allison Lloyd

When I was in Bermuda last summer, I took a cab back to the shipyard with my cousins. The ride was terrifying – the driver easily surpassed New York speed limits, the streets were barely wide enough for two cars to fit, and pedestrians appeared unfazed by the stream of vehicles speeding by them. Multiply that fear by ten and that’s what I felt during the last bit of our drive to Dorf Tirol. The town is set into the side of a mountain, and the 1.5 lane roads run along cliff drop-offs when they’re not at impossibly steep up and downhill angles. Stop signs seemed to be a suggestion to the drivers, as did the speed limit.

Umm. We didn't even slow down for this sign.

Umm. We didn’t even slow down for this sign.

The fear effectively eliminated any leftover grogginess from the second flight, though, and soon enough we had reached the winding downhill drive of Brunnenburg Castle. From aerial views, the castle appears to emerge gracefully from the Küchelberg cliff side, nestled in a cluster of evergreens and ivy. Up close, the estate is quaint and quiet despite the many goats and chickens that call the grounds home, and as I lugged my suitcase under a stone archway toward the converted dorms, it suddenly hit me that I would actually be spending the next week in a castle, in Italy.
I couldn’t wait for the real adventure to begin.

PHOTO CREDIT: Allison Lloyd

PHOTO CREDIT: Allison Lloyd

Next week: The first days at Brunnenburg…sightseeing, the valley’s history, and lots and lots of shopping. Many more pictures to come!

Do you have any funny or harrowing travel experiences to share? Have you ever been to Italy?


And the winner is…

Rhonda Hopkins. Congratulations, Rhonda! Contact me with your email address and kind of device you’ll use to read your free ebook, The Temporary Wife, courtesy of Jeannie Moon. Thanks, Jeannie! Until next week, I hope you spend your days doing what you love. Remember to live your life out loud, right?

Exciting News!

Today’s Moment has a little something for everyone, and it’s all good.

Romance Review

Jeannie Moon writes contemporary romance, the kind you have trouble putting down because she draws you into the story with beautifully crafted characters, sensual tension, and realistic, compelling conflicts.

Meg, the heroine of The Temporary Wife, is someone you’d want as a friend. Since I’m a woman with two careers myself, I like that Meg has a career she enjoys, and that it’s depicted as an important part of her life. Jason, her hero, is sexy but down-to-earth and loyal (even if he is a billionaire). I also liked the family dynamics in the story, and adore the little one, Molly. Ms. Moon’s descriptions brought back vivid memories of my daughter at that age.

The crux of the story is that Meg marries Jason to protect Molly from the child’s cold-hearted grandparents. This is the first time Jason and Meg have been together since he ended their relationship due to peer pressure as a teen. Jason doesn’t know he was Meg’s first love, or that she’s used her feelings for him as a barometer for every romantic relationship in her life since–and they all came up short. How will Meg hold onto her heart for the year before the pre-arranged divorce? How will their relationship affect the little girl she loves? How will Jason prove to Meg he’s not the guy he was in the past? How will they overcome all the obstacles of family dynamics and past hurts to give them their forever love?

Just writing this review pulls at my heartstrings, and I’m tempted to reread the book already. If you love sweet, romantic escapes that leave you with a satisfied, mushy glow of happiness, you’ll love Jeannie Moon’s debut novel, The Temporary Wife. Be sure to comment on this week’s post for a chance to win your own copy of this book, courtesy of the author. To read a sample chapter of this book or to order your copy, click on the book cover photo to the left.

Guest Blogger News

As you may recall, my daughter recently graduated from college. As a culminating experience for a creative writing course, she traveled to northern Italy for a ten-day excursion. I’m so excited to announce she has agreed (without any twisting of arms or other forms of persuasion) to guest post about her recent adventures in the coming weeks! What better way to kick off Margarita Moments’ third year than incredible scenes like this:


Dorf Tirol, Italy

And, last but not least…

the winner of the $25 Amazon gift card from last week’s blogiversary celebration is Jill Weatherholt! Congratulations, Jill. Please email me at to arrange for your gift’s delivery.

For everyone else, this is your lucky day, too, because I’m honored to give away a free ebook of Jeannie Moon’s spectacular debut novel, The Temporary Wife. To be entered into the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment. (Winner will be announced Monday, June 10th.)

What juicy book have you read recently? Any blog ideas for our third year at Margarita Moments? More TV guilty pleasures or romantic escapes?

Milestones, Memorial Day, and Mash-Ups


Tis the season of weddings, First Communions, and graduations. Last week, my family celebrated our daughter’s college graduation. I was tempted to cry, but she wouldn’t have approved. I’m thrilled for her, confident she is ready for the next step of her journey. It also doesn’t hurt that she’ll be home with us for a year before moving onto medical school. (How can a mom resist that cute face?)

Hard to believe, but Margarita Moments & Other Escapes celebrates its second blogiversary on Friday! One randomly selected reader will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card, just for commenting on today’s post. You’ve got to enter to win!*  

Memorial Day…

All Gave Some, Some Gave All.

As much as we enjoy our Memorial Day weekend barbeques and pool parties, the meaning behind this holiday is bittersweet. Our hearts and minds remember those who have fought and died for us to have the many freedoms we savor as Americans.

Never forget.

Have a safe, relaxing holiday with your loved ones. Celebrate on behalf of those who can’t because they’re too busy keeping us safe.

…and Mash-Ups!


1.5 L White Wine (ie. Mescato)

1.5 cups Peach Absolut Vodka

1-2 cans of frozen lemonade

Strawberries (in chunks)

Granny Smith Apples (in chunks)

Serve over Ice or with Seltzer



Now it’s your turn.

Share any milestones, Memorial Day stories, suggested summer drink recipes or poolside reads. We’d love to enjoy them with you. Remember to leave a comment to be entered into this week’s drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card.


*Winner must provide a valid email address in order to receive gift card via email. Winner will be announced Monday, June 3rd, 2013. Good luck!

Summer’s Grace

Dusk descends upon us,

Relief from the heat of the day,

We’re drawn to the wooden boardwalk,

Where flowery fragrance fills the air,

Hidden creatures chirp their mating songs,

And svelte swans grace the lawn.

Away from the raucous festivities,

Warm bodies, pulsing music, and stilted small talk,

Into the cool, calm quiet.

Rare is our solitude, rare is the perfect June night.

~Jolyse Barnett

Love is in the Air

Courtesy MS Company

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this week’s post is all about romance.  There’s the traditional candlelit dinner, bouquet of roses, chocolates, whispered sweet nothings–all leading up to a wonderfully intimate evening to celebrate your love. Simple, yet elegant. Then, there are the more extravagant declarations of love, like jewelry or an overnight stay at your favorite hotel. It’s all good.

After twenty-odd February fourteenths, my Valentine surprised me a few years ago with what I consider his most thoughtful present ever, a gift basket of my favorite romantic comedy DVDs. To top it off, we watched one that night while snuggling on the couch with our wine and strawberries.

If you’re thinking about a cozy night in with your Valentine this year, here are my recommendations:

When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, French Kiss, The Holiday, Love Actually, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Wedding Date, Thirteen Going on Thirty, Just Like Heaven, Sleepless in Seattle, Hope Floats, While You Were Sleeping, The Wedding Singer, The Ugly Truth, Enchanted, The Proposal, Definitely Maybe, Made of Honor, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Sweet Home Alabama, and Leap Year.

If you missed this romantic comedy from 2010, Leap Year stars Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. Amy’s character, Anna, reminds me of the the girl from the Taylor Swift song about a guy who makes a “rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.”

Matthew Goode

Anna is a proper, control freak on the verge of moving uptown with her safe, predictable cardiologist. Still ringless after four years, she decides to take matters into her own hands and travel to Dublin where her boyfriend is at a medical conference. She believes there to be an Irish tradition where a women can ask a man to marry her on February 29th. Of course, her journey meets with many obstacles. Matthew Goode plays Declan, who is adorable and maddenly interesting but financially unstable. Yet, Anna can’t help falling in love with him along their rocky road to Dublin. Click on Matthew’s photo to see Anna and Declan’s first kiss.

Not only is Leap Year’s story cute and fast-paced, but the scenery is incredible. You may be tempted to visit the Irish Isles after seeing this flick.

I’m not the only one with romance on my mind this week. Check out this cool movie blog post featuring romantic movie moments from a variety of genres. Which movie moment would get your vote?

Well, I have to run…time to write love notes for my Valentine. (Find this and other romantic ideas at Marcia Richards’ Sexy. Smart. From the heart. blog.) I’ll leave you with this video compilation of most romantic movie kisses:

Happy Valentine’s Day, however you choose to spend it.



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