Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DC and long lost friends

Twelves years ago in August I moved to Shanghai. I spoke no Chinese and my friend who had taken me from Hong Kong to Shanghai had moved on to Beijing. Needless to say, I was a bit lost. Living in a country where you don't speak the language is overwhelming, but  you still have to eat, so out the door I went. One night I was standing on the corner ordering food off a cart and practicing the one phrase I knew, "What is this?" The man cooking the food kept chattering back to me in Chinese. I was fully ready to nod and point and hope I liked what I ordered when I heard someone call out to me, "Do you know what he is saying?"

"No!" was my desperate answer. The woman who had called out to me invited me to sit at her table. Catherine had just finished her classes in English at the school where I was soon to be teaching and she was celebrating with her friends. They pulled up a chair and I sat down. Since that time, Catherine has become one of the dearest people in the world to me. When we realized that we share a birthday, we decided our meeting was fate.

Eleven years ago, also in August, I stood in the driveway of my housing unit, handed Catherine the last of my renmenbi (the Chinese currency was not traded on the open market and so couldn't easily be exchanged outside of China), gave her a hug and left for the airport. Though we chat and send emails, I haven't seen her since.

In October, Catherine, her husband and daughter will be touring New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. This is their first trip to the US and I'm driving up to D.C. to play tour guide. So far we have a lunch cruise on the Potomac planned and I'd like to take them to the National Museum of the American Indian. Catherine requested to see things she couldn't see in China and the exhibits and cafe at that museum fit the bill. Depending on what's playing, we'll check out one of the free shows at the Kennedy Center.

Have you visited (or lived) in Washington, D.C.? What do you think I should make sure they see? If you've not been, what would be on your list to see?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Question Of The Month: Commemorative Day Edition

International Talk Like a Pirate Day exists because two guys decided there should be one day each year when everyone spoke in Pirate. We asked the Superromance authors: if you were going to create a day in hono(u)r of something, what would that something be?

Vicki Essex: There are so many days I'd love...International Hang Out with a Sloth Day, International Bacon-Wrapped Marshmallow Day, International Lick a Male Model Day... But if I could only have one, it would be International Truth Day--a day of enforced truth telling like in the movie Liar, Liar. Imagine how quiet the news channels would be if no politician could open his mouth without spewing out what he really means. We could finally hear how about we REALLY look in those pants, and decide whether or not to patronize a business based on how they actually treat their customers.
 Now that I think about it, Truth Day would probably be an international holiday where no one talks to each other...

Joan Kilby: I would create an International Random Act of Kindness Day where people have to do as many nice things for others as possible. Who knows, they might feel so good as a result that it spills over into the next day and the next....

Anna Sugden: I’d like to suggest one close to all our hearts - an International Read a Romance Day :)  Maybe even go one stage further and suggest an International Read a Harlequin SuperRomance Day. ;)

Or, because I collect penguins, how about International Walk Like a Penguin Day LOL.

Pamela Hearon: I would create International Hug Day--a day when everyone would greet everyone they encounter with a hug, whether they know them or not. 

Mary Sullivan: Let's have a Stop Texting and Tweeting When We're With Someone and Instead Talk to the Person We're With Day.

Liz Talley: I'm going with "Feed Your Inner Kid" day. You can eat Frosted Flakes, gummy worms, Cheetos and cupcakes ALL DAY! No veggies allowed.  

Laura Drake: I'd have a 'mentoring day' - you'd find someone who has interest in your career, or your hobby, and you'd show them the joy you find in it.

Kate Kelly: How about Go For A Walk Day? Everyone has to go outside for a walk. Amazing how a bit of fresh air and exercise can improve your day.
Tara Taylor Quinn: I would have National Talk To Your Family Day.  A day where everyone had contact with every member of their family – regardless of issues or anger, or even whether or not they just spoke the day before.  We take family for granted.  Sometimes siblings get angry with each other and don’t speak for long lengths of time.  And yet, they are always there, in the back of our hearts, and if we don’t make a point of healing the conflicts, just enough to stay in touch, the day will come when it will be too late.  If we all knew there was that one day, when we were going to have to have contact, we’d be more apt to heal the hurts sooner.  Or the day will do it for us!

Kris Fletcher:  I'm sure there are already days for the things that make my life worthwhile - doughnuts, ice cream, and lattes. And there are days celebrating adoption, a cause near and dear to my own heart. But how about an International Harrison Ford Day? Everyone would dress as characters from his movies while competing in events such as Race the Giant Runaway Ball, Wrestle the Wookie, or the Carbonite Freeze Challenge.

Jennifer Lohmann: National Try Something New Day. Maybe even "try something that scares you" day. A little push for us all to get out of our comfort zones.

Karina Bliss: How about International Considerate Driver Day. With a smile. Everyone gets to their destination happy.
Geri Krotow: National Nap Day sounds good to me. Every one has to take at least a 15-min catnap. It cleanses the mind of all the busy chatter, and gets us ready to tackle our afternoon workload.   

Now, as we leave you with a lullaby from The Arrogant Worms, we ask you,dear readers: what do YOU think is in need of a day of celebration?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Winner for Drawing on Cathryn Parry's Monday Blog Post

Congratulations, CrystalGB!  

hottie baseball pitcher hero anesthesiologist
Out of His League, July 2013

You may choose any of my backlist titles or my upcoming December book when it's released.  Here is the link to my website.

Thank you, everyone, for visiting and reading!  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Moneyballing" Your Life

It’s a rare occasion when my husband has to force me to sit down to watch a Brad Pitt movie. Such was the case the other night when, tangentially, he told me about Moneyball, a film about the 1998 Oakland Athletics’s general manager Billy Beane who revolutionized the budget-beleaguered team’s lineup by using basing his choices on hard statistical information rather than the old school feelings of the club’s entrenched members.

My husband, John, told me about a key scene where the old boys in the Oakland A’s ball club are discussing their choices for the lineup. While I was, as usual, enthralled by John’s storytelling—and trapped as I was doing dishes—I knew that, as neither a fan of Brad Pitt or baseball, his retelling of these scenes was leading up to something. That something was the theme of the film: that rational decisions can be made based on hard evidence, scientific observation and deductive reasoning rather than tradition, feelings, and mumbo-jumbo superstition that frequently permeates emotionally charged arenas like professional sports. John went on to talk about his realm of expertise—civic politics—and how such simple gathering and analysis of real data could ultimately build better, more livable cities.

I came away from the film with that in mind, too, and realized I could apply that basic principle to everyday things. For instance, I recently moved all the Tupperware from a high shelf to a drawer. Sounds silly and mundane, but when I finally did it, it was a revelation. Not only was it easier to access all my empty yogurt containers and sandwich boxes without having them all cascade down on my head in an avalanche, but I also had more room for them, and they were easier to organize. You might think, well, that’s an obvious and rational decision; truth is, the only reason I had them stored on the high shelf in the first place was because that was where my mother kept her reusable containers. Now I’ve no idea why either of us ever put them there.

If we all stopped to think about the way we do things, and made changes based on logic and data rather than tradition, what could you change about your life? Would you take a different route to work? Buy different toilet paper? What do you wish you could know that would help you make decisions, big and small, about your life? Instead of acting on gut instinct or feelings in some emotional situations, do you think you could calmly and rationally collect data and evidence to either support your choices or make you consider other avenues? What kinds of decisions would you never leave to cold, hard facts? What things will you absolutely not budge on despite evidence to the contrary?

Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, September 16, 2013


by Cathryn Parry

In my home, we’ve been sprucing up the bathrooms, kitchen and front entry.  Not renovating, just doing necessary repairs we’ve been avoiding, like fixing leaking plumbing and sanding peeling paint.

But…the fun part of all this work has been that I get to choose new paint colors!

When we first moved into our condo, years ago, all of the walls, trim and ceiling were painted off-white.  For several reasons, we kept them that way.  I didn’t like those walls—I found myself hungering for splashes of color.  Then one year, as a birthday present to myself, I painted an alcove of my home office a bright, harvest-moon orange. 

What a great color—and what a change it made in my mood!  Orange is the color for creativity (associated with the second chakra), and I do feel creative every time I sit down to my computer and face that alcove.

With that in mind, I’d like to extend the power of “color” into more of my living spaces.

The current project: the bathroom walls near a great soaking tub, one of my favorite places in the home.   It’s a retreat, a space with a calming beach/ocean theme.  The new paint will be a pale, misty sea green.  I’ve been living with the color sample on the wall, and I think this one will be a “go.”  The emotions it seems to bring out are calm, peace, healing.   Perfect for the soaking tub.

We’ve also been thinking ahead to the entryway, and so far, I’m envisioning a deep, rich forest green, a color that reminds me of the joy I find in nature.  A “welcoming” feeling, sort of like entering a woodland path.

Hottie baseball pitcher hero romanceWhat about you—does color affect your moods?  What paint colors do you enjoy in your home?  And if you enjoy painting projects, any particular tips you’d like to share will be much appreciated.
I have a book to give away--any one from my backlist--and I'll choose a winner at random from the comments posted.  Thanks for reading!
Cathryn Parry is the winner of the 2013 Bookseller’s Best Award for her Harlequin Superromance, The Long Way Home.  She lives in New England with her husband and neighbor's cat, Otis.   Her website is

Saturday, September 14, 2013


linda s, you have won a copy of BECAUSE OF AUDREY for your comment on my September 9th post! Congratulations!

Please contact me with your mailing address :-)

Mary Sullivan

Monday, September 9, 2013

A New Beginning and a Sad Goodbye

Mary Sullivan

Even though it's been a few years since I sent my daughter off to school every September, and years and years since September meant a new school year for me, I still think of September as a time of new beginnings. Perhaps it's because I live across the street from both an elementary school and a middle school, and watch the children head off to their first day of school with such excitement.

This September does mark a new beginning of sorts for me, though. Three Harlequin authors and I are starting a new venture in Toronto, with our inaugural event only two weeks away. We've organized a new bi-monthly reading series here called Night Out with Authors, which will showcase genre fiction. Each evening, we will present three or four authors from different genres who will read from their novels. The other founding authors are Ann Lethbridge, Kate Bridges and Margaret Moore. Those of you who read historical romance will recognize their names.

Our first event, on September 23rd, will feature me, Molly O'Keefe and Susanna Kearsley. Our first night leans heavily toward romance because we know so many wonderful romance authors. November will showcase local historical, paranormal and mystery authors. Every subsequent event will feature local authors.

I wonder whether we are very much like the people who live in areas with fabulous tourist attractions that we never visit. As readers, we take recommendations for 'new-to-us' authors from friends and family, and these days, cruise the Internet looking for new authors, but often have talent in our own backyards who we've never read. The greater Toronto area has a wealth of talent that absolutely astonishes me.

As a fun exercise, try going to your local library and asking them about local authors and see who they recommend.

This venture has been a lot of work, more than any of us had anticipated, but I'm filled with excitement waiting for our opening night.

There has also been a sad, but timely ending in my writing life. For eleven years, I belonged to a fabulous critique group. Recently, we decided it had run its course. We are now published and, between varied deadlines and promotional work, along with personal responsibilities, were finding it more and more difficult to meet and to critique work.

I'm not sure where those eleven years went. They flew by. For the first eight or nine of those, we met every week. We were determined, disciplined and focused. We learned to write together and were unflagging in our support of each other in a truly difficult industry. Our efforts paid off. Today, we are published authors. With much respect, I want to send a big shout-out and thank you to Sinead Murphy, and to Ann Lethbridge who writes historical romance for Harlequin, Maureen McGowan who writes Young Adult for Skyscape, and Molly O'Keefe who writes Superromance and now single title for Bantam Dell—all truly fabulous authors. Wow, it was an awesome ride.

Have you ever belonged to a group or were part of a collaboration that you really enjoyed, and that filled you with a strong sense of purpose, until there came that sad, but right, time to say goodbye?

Someone who comments today will win a copy of my October release, BECAUSE OF AUDREY.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Filling the Joy Jar

One of the many resolutions I made for 2013 - and one of the few I'm actually keeping - was to find a way to better appreciate and remember some of the everyday miracles that fill my life. I decided to create a Joy Jar.

This wasn't an original idea, but one that stuck with me for ages until I got around to implementing it. Not that it was a difficult process: all it took was an oversized jar, a few minutes online browsing to find a graphic that appealed, and a few more minutes to assemble them. Put them all together and voila: the Joy Jar.

Because I am known to be just the teensiest bit lazy, I knew that I needed to make this as easy to use as possible. Thus, tucked beside the jar are a pen (printed with the cover of my first Superromance!) and a pretty heart-shaped glass bowl filled with bits of blank paper. The papers are small, just scrap paper I've torn into quarters or eights. This is key. A very wise woman once told me that people feel a need to fill the entire space they have to write upon, so a full sheet of paper is often too intimidating. Scraps are far less scary. There's no pressure to make the thought so involved or important it justifies the use of a whole sheet of paper. A few words, hastily jotted, will suffice.

And indeed, that's all that's written on most of the papers I've tossed in the jar thus far - a few words to remind me of something big or small that brought me joy. It could be something that happened, something I saw, something someone said - any moment that I want to remember. Things like:
  • making my deadline
  • the sight of freshly washed clothes hanging on the line
  • taking the final dose of a medicine  that upset my stomach
  • sitting on the glider on our deck with a latte by my side and a notebook in my lap
  • the night my daughter was actually excited to do her homework

Nothing that would make the news, nothing that would have meaning to most folks - but rereading those slips of paper takes me back to those moments and leaves me with a smile in my heart.

At some point around the end of this year - maybe on Christmas night - I'll dump out all the bits of paper and read them, reliving the year one joy at a time. And then, the good Lord willing, I'll start collecting a new set of joys.

What are some of the things that would be in your joy jar?

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