Wednesday, October 22, 2014
In my last post, I wrote about everything I love about autumn….the coolness of the mornings with just a hint of briskness in the air, the falling leaves (though I really don’t get to see them, living in Phoenix, where it’s still in the mid-80’s as I write this) and all the other things this time of year brings, but there’s another reason I like Fall…the new shows are on television.
Now, since I’m a busy woman (and I know you are too) and my time is limited, I will admit to watching at least one episode of a new show just to see if I like it (and I’m very discerning….not everything makes the cut…I just don’t have that kind of time). The crop this year seems to be pretty good, but only two have really kept my interest. The first is Forever (which reminds me a great deal of the Highlander series….I adored Adrian Paul! Oh, those dreamy eyes! Those muscles! And the sword fighting! Sorry….I got a little carried away there). The main character in Forever has lived for over two centuries – you see, he can’t die and stay dead so he puts his many years of living to good use. He is a Medical Examiner in
and he solves
crimes with a detective partner. I really like this show. The characters are
engaging and the storylines are good. New York
The other show that has caught my interest is The Pinkertons. It’s set just after the Civil War so the costumes interest me quite a bit (that’s the period I write in) and most everyone knows about the Pinkerton Detective Agency, but do they know about Kate Warne? I researched her extensively while I was writing A Scandalous Woman (my character, Joey Darling, wasn’t a detective, but she wanted to be and actually helped solve a few mysteries―without her father’s knowledge―all while falling in love with the handsome Braeden MacAllister!) but I digress. Kate was one of Pinkerton’s best operatives, a master of disguise, who helped prevent an assassination attempt on President-elect Lincoln prior to his taking office in 1861. She continued working as a detective with Pinkerton until her death in 1868. This series brings her to life for me and that’s one of the reasons I watch.
Has anything of the fall schedule struck your interest?
As always, happy reading (and watching)!
Sunday, October 19, 2014
The first day of the 12 day cruise was a day at sea. This was helpful as it gave us time to familiarize ourselves with the boat. We had a stateroom with a balcony on the 9th floor. Luckily, there were maps of the boat at each elevator bank. There were two banks of elevators on each floor both forward and aft so 4 banks of 4 elevators on each floor. There were also stairs for when we wanted exercise or to avoid waiting for an elevator. There were about 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members on this cruise.
Of course, on a cruise, the food is plentiful and varied and always available. So we immediately made ourselves acquainted with all the dining areas.There was the Oceanview Café for buffet style around-the-clock food and then the main dining room for two seatings at dinner unless, like us, we had select dining which meant we could eat whenever we wanted during their open hours. The dining room was open for lunch and breakfast at specific hours depending if we were in port or not and that was general seating.
There were also the specialty restaurants that required reservations and an additional fee. There were 4 in all and we only tried 2 as we really enjoyed our dining room crew. We tried both the Tuscan Grill and Murano’s, the French Restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals though having 6 people wait on us at Murano’s was a lot for us. However, we did enjoy the table side cooking of our lobster there :-)
We did take a tour of one of the galleys in the dining room on that first day.Our guide was the Executive Sous Chef who, though he had worked for Celebrity Cruise Line for a long time, had boarded the ship the day we did. He was from Jamaica so we felt right at home :-) My husband even helped out answering a question from one of the guests when the Chef didn’t have the answer. My husband is a certified auxiliary chef for the Coast Guard :-}
Luckily, my awesome husband bought the recipe book of all the meals that this boat prepared, so I can have this food whenever I want! Well, more like whenever I want to go off my diet. He also had the book signed by the Executive Chef, other sous chefs, the Captain of the boat, and everyone who waited on us be it Shore Excursions, dining, or bar staff.
We got to bed relatively early that night as we had to be up by 5:00am to be ready to visit Rome!
Since it is Sunday here on Happily Ever After Thoughts, I think it only fair that I should give away a copy of my latest book Cruise into Eden to one lucky commenter. So leave a comment for a chance to win!
Next: Day 2 – Michelangelo in The Vatican
Friday, October 17, 2014
OMG! I just returned from 15 days overseas! It was an amazing trip so I am going to share some of the highlights here on Happily Ever After Thoughts.
First Days – Barcelona:
Our first priority after checking into Hotel Espana right off Las Ramblas was sleep. Hey, it was a long flight across 7 time zones :-}
But then we started to explore. The one place I just had to see was the Erotic Museum. Seriously, how could I, an erotic romance author, go to Spain and not see this museum. I had no idea what to expect.
It was fascinating. Everything from paintings on walls from Pompeii and Herculean dating as far back as the 4th century B.C. to porn movies from the silent movie era to Picasso paintings. From Roman sex toys to 1940’s contraptions to modern day Guinness Book record holders for sexual acts. Yup, they have those. Who knew?
The museum even had a sex garden that featured Betty Boop.
The streets/walkways of Barcelona were lovely with wonderful eateries and shops.
We became “regulars” at a coffee shop nearby and had fun exploring the waterfront not far from where we would board our cruise ship.
I admit to having a Starbucks chai while near the water, but it had been a long time since I had treated myself to a chai :-)
I also forewent the Tapas for lunch and tried to stick with salads, knowing I would gain weight on the cruise ship.
Of course, we couldn’t resist the rooftop pool of our hotel or the lovely breakfast they delivered.
We also went to the Jamon exhibit and learned how this delicacy is raised and cured since my husband has a particular interest in cooking and foods. The walk-through audio/visual experience was interesting, but the tasting of 6 types of Jamon was even better!
After a couple days, we were ready to get started on our 12 day cruise of the Mediterranean. Truly a cruise of a lifetime.
Next: Day 1 – The Boat
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Continuing up the road…We saw a lot of historical and fascinating scenes in London including Westminster, the Tower of London, Big Ben, and The Eye. I also got a big thrill passing the MI5 and MI6 fortresses. This is similar to the FBI and CIA of the US. The US and England work closely together. I’ll keep that in mind for my next book-that’s a hint!
Going north in England we stopped at Anne Hathaway’s home, complete with Old English roses everywhere. The stop at William Shakespeare’s home was enchanting. His home was anything but grand compared to today’s formula for an exquisite home, yet the small and simple style of life did hold its own charm.
Headed to Glasgow, Scotland brought a whole new meaning to witchcraft. A book store represented itself with a devil sitting at a desk. Hundreds of years ago, those who could read and write were considered possessed or having bad magic, so they were represented by the devil as so few people knew this great art.
A visit to Edinburgh Castle was mystical. The cobbles and stones covering the ground between castle rooms and buildings were if varying styles, bricks, cobbles, and large stones. The type of footing depicted the year they were laid.
A final item for viewing pleasure before I let you go was the bagpiper. Leading our group from a castle, down the cobblestone to the restaurant for dinner was an authentic bagpiper. I couldn’t get a picture of the “authenticity” of his garment, but I assure you he said it was real!
I tried a sip of Scotch (smooth!) and a bit of haggis. Who cares, right? Haggis is a traditional dish literally made inside the skin of a sheep stomach. The piper and a volunteer brought it on a platter to show the group. Fortunately, when it was served the presentation overrode my distaste for the mixture of dark gut-meat and barley with wonderful seasoning.
The food got better the further from London and storylines brewed strong!
Every place can be an adventure, so go with it!
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Alexis: We’d like to welcome multi-published Harlequin author Lee McKenzie back to Happily Ever After Thoughts. Lee’s writes sweet contemporary romance with a focus on family, friends and community. Her husband will tell you she writes fifty shades of pink.
So Lee, what do you think everyone should know about your husband?
Lee: Aside from coming up with the perfect tag line for my work, he has always been a proud and enthusiastic supporter of my writing. And I am beyond grateful for all the meals he’s prepared while I’m on a deadline.
Alexis: I‘m with you on that! Why did you choose this sub-genre of romance?
Lee: To be honest, I think it chose me. I started out trying to write sexier romantic suspense, but even though those manuscripts finaled in or won lots of writing contests, I couldn’t find a publisher. And even though I loved to write, I realized I wasn’t writing what I love, I was trying to write for what I thought was a market trend. So I decided to try something different, try writing something for fun, something I truly enjoyed. Six weeks after I submitted that book to an editor at Harlequin, I got the call! The Man for Maggie (Harlequin American Romance) was released in June 2007 and it was reissued as Maggie’s Way (Harlequin Heartwarming) in May 2013.
I’m thrilled to be writing for both lines now, and really excited about my new release this month—The Parent Trap (Harlequin Heartwarming, October 2014).
Alexis: Where did you get the idea for this story?
Lee: When my daughter was little, one of our favorite movies was The Parent Trap with Haley Mills. The hero and heroine are both single parents of teenage girls, and I decided it would be fun to do a twist on that classic old film. I also had a lot of fun writing scenes in the girls’ point of view. But my story isn’t about reuniting a family; it’s about bringing two families together.
Alexis: What are your favorite traits of the two main characters, Sarah and Jonathan?
Lee: Sarah Stewart is a devoted mom who has a great relationship with her daughter. She’s level-headed, hardworking and runs a successful clothing boutique. She can prepare a mean spreadsheet but she’s a culinary disaster.
Jonathan Marshall’s relationship with his daughter is more tenuous, but he’s determined to create a stable home, which is why he’s moved to the small (fictional) town of Serenity Bay on the west coast of Canada. He’s also a great cook, and I happen to love a guy who knows his way around the kitchen.
Alexis: Me too. I married one :-) So what are you working on now?
Lee: I have a three-book proposal with my editor right now—an American Romance series about three sisters who live in a fictional small town in Wisconsin. They were raised by their dad, a widower, and I am currently working on a proposal for his story, which will be for Harlequin’s Heartwarming line.
Alexis, I thoroughly enjoy Happy Ever After Thoughts and want to thank you again for inviting me back. I also want to thank your readers for joining me today by drawing a name from the commenters and offering signed copies of Maggie’s Way and The Parent Trap.
Happy reading, everyone!
Blurb of The Parent Trap
The trap is set…
Single mom and successful boutique owner Sarah Stewart didn't have room in her life for a pet, let alone a man. With a teenage girl to raise and a business to run, she couldn't do anything more than look at Jonathan Marshall, the single—and singularly good-looking—man who just moved in next door with a teenage daughter of his own. Still, since their girls would be classmates, it made sense to make friends. But that was as far as it could go. Despite the best efforts of some teenage matchmaking, Sarah wasn't giving in. Because she just isn't ready to put her heart on the line—again.
From the time Lee McKenzie was ten years old and read Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, she knew she wanted to be a writer, just like Anne and Jo. In the intervening years she has written advertising copy, magazine articles and an honors thesis in paleontology, and edited conference proceedings, educational material and technical publications. Along the way, her imagination demanded a more creative outlet, and she soon discovered the world of romance. Becoming a four-time Golden Heart finalist and a Harlequin author are her proudest accomplishments yet.
Lee and her artist/teacher husband live on an island in the Pacific Northwest, and she loves to spend time with two of her best friends--her grown-up children. To find out more about Lee and her books, readers are invited to visit her at www.leemckenzie.com.
Alexis: Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win!