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!

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!

Five Quotes to Live By

Fun Times at RWA13

Fun Times at RWA13

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

EE Cummings

Living it Up at Disney

Living it Up at Disney

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”  

William Purkey

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“Everything you can imagine is real.”   

Pablo Picasso

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”

Émile Zola

Savor Each Day!

Savor Each Day!

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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What quote inspires you?

A Marvelous Mash-Up

Welcome 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 along the right sidebar.). It will sail to your inbox on Mondays, more or less, depending on life’s currents and my novel writing schedule. Thanks for visiting.

Hey, all! You’re in for a treat today. Rylie snuck away from writing her secondary applications for medical schools to share a photo montage about Venice, Italy. She studied abroad her last semester of undergrad this past spring. If you missed her earlier posts, you’re invited to check out Off to Brunnenburg, Eating Northern Italy Style, Hiking the Italian Alps, Meran, Italy, and Dorf Tirol, Italy. I promise her photos are worth the click.

Venice

Hi! Rylie here. Like Mom said, I’ve been swamped with essays for medical school, but I want to show you the most incredible pictures and memories from this beautiful city. *drum roll* And the highlights are:

  • Traveling by waterbus down the Grand Canal
  • Seeing someone buy a freshly killed shark at the Rialto market
  • Getting gelato from every store near San Marco plaza
  • Waving to gondoliers
  • Finding as many paintings with Jesus in them as we could at the Gallerie dell’Accademia
  • Having – and hating – my first cappuccino
  • Getting lost on the way back from San Marco and unsuccessfully asking the police for directions
  • Almost knocking over a statue at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • Going to over 40 stores to find the perfect Murano glass earrings
  • Watching two kittens play-fight in the garden outside our restaurant during dinner
  • Getting a beer glass for free at a pub after asking the bartender if I could buy one
  • Sitting on the Arsenale pier at night to watch the waterbuses finish their route
  • Getting lost in the back alleyways in San Marco
  • Learning that a dead-end in Venice is an alleyway that ends in water

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Fiction Fest

Five writer lessons I learned at Connecticut Romance Writers’ recent Fiction Fest:

1. Secondary character subplots must match the story’s main plot theme. (Kristan Higgins)

2. When ridding of that pile of papers on your writer desk, turn it over and start from the bottom. Quickly choose which items can be thrown and which need to be kept. Then file time-sensitive papers by the month, with files for the current month in files from 1-31. Check the following day’s file folder at the end of each workday to prioritize the next day’s to-do list. (Lisa Lelas)

3. Hybrid authors are fast becoming the trend in publishing. (Roxanne St. Claire)

4. Smashwords provides free books on its website for those authors going the indie route. (Jim Azevedo)

5.  Attending writing conferences are worth the time, money, and effort invested. (Jolyse Barnett)

Farewell to Summer

Are you silently mourning the passing of summer, pretending to be Turning Fall Into Spring? Are you nostalgic for the sunny days, reliving Summer Highlights to keep warm on chilly nights?

If you answered yes to these two questions (and even if you didn’t), this photo is for you:

2012-07-20 16.10.23

How have you welcomed the new season?

 

 

My Favorite Ten Quotes from RWA13

Downtown Atlanta

Downtown Atlanta

I hadn’t planned on attending the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta this year. My husband had been undergoing medical treatments, my son encountered difficulties through much of eighth grade, and my day job had been overly demanding in the past months. In spite of these obstacles, my husband insisted I go.

I’m so glad I did.

The national conference is about workshops, pitching, and networking. Writers at all different stages of their careers attend and each can tailor her experience to meet specific goals. My first year, I focused on learning all about the craft, attending every possible workshop and pitching my first novel. I socialized very little, still a shy newbie. This year, I balanced the workshops with both pitching, networking, and socializing. Even more, I had fun hanging out with friends, making new friends, and visiting the Georgia Aquarium a few blocks away from where we stayed at the Peachtree Center’s Marriott Marquis.

With author Juliette Sobanet

With author Juliette Sobanet

But very much like my friend, Patty Blount, discovered and shared quite eloquently in her recent blog post for our local writing chapter, I found RWA’s national conference to be much more than all of these wonderful things. Nationals is a place where people of common interests and big dreams come together to support each other and be inspired. We writers all suffer at times from the Doubt Monster. We all go through periods where we believe our writing sucks, that our aspirations are unrealistic, and we wonder if we shouldn’t just quit.

RWA13 reinforced my desire to make my passion a career. To keep working until I succeed. To know I’m not alone. And that I can always, always turn to my RWA colleagues for guidance and a shoulder to lean on.

For those of you who didn’t have the opportunity to attend this year’s conference, and perhaps as a refresher for those of you who did, here are ten of the most memorable bits of advice I took away with me about writing from some of the greatest in the romance writing profession:

1.  Writing is a process of controlled chaos.

2.  Your goal is to complete one book every nine months. Don’t lollygag.

3.  Write through the fear.

4. Be disciplined.

5. Query the NY publishers while building your writer platform. If they don’t buy your story, self-publish, but only after you’ve written and edited a very clean, polished book.

6. If agents or editors like your writing but not your book, focus on creating emotional depth of characters, pacing, and a compelling plot.

7. Regarding plot, be outrageous. Readers don’t read fiction to escape to real life.

8. Outrageous plots must be tied to well-motivated reasons to allow your reader to suspend disbelief.

9. Don’t undervalue yourself or your work.

10. Determine how many pages you can complete in a day, make a reasonable goal each week, and be responsible for achieving that goal, no matter what.

And here’s a bonus, the quote I scribbled on a sticky note and placed on my laptop, courtesy of the inimitable Cherry Adair:  Finish the damn book!

What are your favorite quotes from RWA13 or about writing that guide or inspire you?

Nora told me, "It gets easier. Keep writing."

Nora told me, “It gets easier. Keep writing.”

The Georgia Aquarium

 

America’s Largest Aquarium

Ocean Voyager

Ocean Voyager Gallery

Georgia Aquarium is home to many creatures, from teensy frogs to sizeable beluga whales and whale sharks. The picture above was taken inside the Ocean Voyager tunnel, one of seven galleries within the facility built in the heart of Atlanta on land donated by Coca-Cola.

DSCN7194Two of my Romance Writers of America pals and I took a break from the frenetic pace of our national writing conference to explore this beautiful underwater world on a rainy Saturday. Despite the sell-out crowds, the visit was worth the thirty dollar admission price.

Bernie and Billi Marcus of The Marcus Foundation are the aquarium’s benefactors, and companies such as Southwest Airlines, Home Depot, and AT&T sponsor exhibits.

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Coca-Cola World next door

We arrived at about two in the afternoon, and were able to explore five of the seven attractions before having to return for our conference. We experienced all but the dolphin show and the 4-D theatre that allows guests to see the world from a marine animal’s point of view. Okay by us, as my friends and I had seen previously seen these types of attractions, but if you’re traveling with children and/or want to squeeze every penny out of your admission dollar, arrive early. Allot at least three hours; more if you plan to eat and shop for souvenirs.

Love the blue fish and pink starfishies

In Cold Water Quest, you’ll see cool creatures like the ones above, as well as beluga whales, Japanese spider crabs, and an odd creature that made me wonder if dragons really do exist.

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Can you see the two Australian weedy sea dragons?

Humboldt Penguins

Humboldt Penguins

If you like cuddly puppies and kittens, you may enjoy crawling through a tunnel to pop up and view the world’s smallest penguins.

Families…

For those traveling with little ones, your favorite part of the aquarium may be the Georgia Explorer. According to the facility’s brochure, this interactive gallery “includes touch pools full of horseshoe crabs, sea stars, rays and shrimp.” The children I observed were having fun playing in the mock fishing boat and crawling through what I’d call an overhead hamster trail.

Tropical jellyfish, like from Nemo

Tropical Jellyfish

The Tropical Diver was my second-favorite, with its colorful fish, coral reefs, and simulated ocean surf. The exhibits make it easy to imagine yourself snorkeling in warm, salty waters. Or perhaps that’s just me?

Snorkling Visions

After oohing and ahhing over the vibrant tropical sea life, we anticipated the River Scout gallery to be bland. We were wrong. The fish colors may be predominately brown, but the water cascade, playful otters, and overhead river for much of the walk made for a fascinating experience.

DSCN7278

At first glance…

These river fish (below) don’t strike one as particularly fearsome. That is, until you read the exhibit plaque.

"I'm a piranha!" ~ Darla in NEMO

“I’m a piranha!” ~ Darla in NEMO

Last but not least, here’s my favorite photo from our aquarium adventure. Enjoy!

Tropical Diver Gallery Exhibit

Tropical Diver Gallery Exhibit

What’s your favorite activity on a rainy summer day?

Coming Up…

Fan Girl Moment with THE Nora Roberts

Fan Girl Moment with Nora Roberts

For those of you interested in romance books and such, check back Wednesday for this writer’s take on RWA13. For next week, Rylie has promised to post about Merano, Italy. I’m homesick for Key West, so I may sneak in a bonus Conch post along the way.

xoxo

Jolyse

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