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I’m getting  a lot done on my work+fun trip to Australia. Here is one of the best photos I’ve taken. Just a casual phone snap as I was standing in line to visit the Old Melbourne Gaol. (Note to American readers–that word is pronounced “jail.” Swear.)

There is a whole story in this image. The bride, the insanely huge humvee limo, the driver, the groom…and don’t get me started on the wedding party that poured out after. Suddenly I wasn’t so interested in the gaol.

Melbourne bride

What’s she thinking?

That’s how it works when writing fiction. You think you’re after one thing–some historical details about the outlaw Ned Kelly, for example–but then the world offers you something else.

A story begins where it ends. And it ends where it begins. For me, the key is to follow the emotional pull. And obviously, this image is a lot more interesting to me than Ned Kelly. I’m excited to see where this writing journey takes me.

Where will your writing journey take you today?



I am on a working vacation. When you’re a writer, it’s not a contradiction in terms, because your job comes with you in your head wherever you go. So if you go someplace awesome, you’re still working. But trust me, it doesn’t suck.

First stop–Paris. I finished FAMILY TREE (coming in 2016) and started research on my next book. Here’s the Jardin de Luxembourg and it doesn’t look much like Paris but when I see beehives, I have to take a photo because, well, beehives.


I love discovering strange shops that sell things like mushroom hunting knives. Here’s one on Boul’ St. Germain called Le Prince Jardiniere:

paris - le prince jardiniere

My amazing husband Jerry takes the best people-watching shots. Check out this French kid taking a selfie in Place des Vosges, aka the prettiest square in Paris:

paris-place des voges

Are you as addicted as I am to home and garden magazines? God, I love them. There is even a nice name for them in the industry: shelter magazines. You know the ones I mean–Sunset, Coastal Living, Domino…What? Domino has been discontinued? Noooo! Dominoooo! Come back!

When I page through these magazines, I always wonder, who are these people with their perfect houses? Why can’t I have a house like that?
For one thing, I only ever buy a sofa once every decade or so, and I’m clueless when it comes to accessorizing. Check out one of these magazine spreads and you’ll see, it’s alllll about the accessories.

Through a twisty turn of events, my wish was granted. Coastal Living did a spread on my house. And guess what? They made it look like a magazine house! Check out the May 2011 issue and you’ll see.
If you’re like me, you wonder how they pick the homes to be featured. I have a feeling this comes about in a variety of ways, but in my case, it stemmed from the writer’s worst nightmare–rejection. For the release of Just Breathe, ace publicist Kirsten Graham pitched the book to reviewers at magazines all over the place. No takers. Not a one. What’s wrong with these people? Finally, the relentless Kirsten got her foot in the proverbial door. The problem was, it was with a magazine that didn’t run book reviews.

However, they do spreads on people’s homes and lifestyle articles. Bingo, we were in. Because Coastal Living is all about the beach and I happen to be lucky enough to live on the beach.

And lo, it came to pass. The magazine would send a crew out to take pictures of me and my home. Freakout time. Remember, I don’t have one of those picture-perfect magazine houses.
Not to worry. The crew includes a “stylist” which a vaguely knew was responsible for helping the photographer compose the shot.

Boy, did I get lucky with the crew who showed up from LA. The master photographer David Tsay, assisted by another photographer, Coy Gutierrez. And the stylist was none other than the renowned Emily Henderson. If you watch HGTV for even five minutes, you’ve seen her. But this was her job before being a design TV star–these magazines take a long time to go to press. Emily was allowed to tell us she was going to be on the show “Design Star.” What she couldn’t tell anyone was that she won the competition and now has her own show. Cool, huh? And, bonus, she is as nice and funny in person as she is on her blog and her show.

Emily Henderson Secrets From A Stylist Behind The Scenes Photos HGTV Design Star

Okay, this post is getting too long so I’m going to break it into parts. Coming up tomorrow–10 things you probably don’t know about doing a magazine shoot. With photos, of course.

So I’ve been asked how to make a musical slide show to share. Like this one:

Believe me, I am not very technical. You don’t need to be. Get Picasa here (it’s free) and upload the pics you want in the slide show. Click the Download tab and then click “make movie” and open the movie in Picasa. Then click Upload to YouTube and there it is. To add music, click “AudioSwap” and you’ll get a list (huge list) of music you can add.

Voila, you’re the laptop Fellini!

the swimming pool this morning
doesn’t look so swimmable, eh?
the mosaic fish are happy, though. Just including this shot because they’re so pretty, created by Raquel Stanek:
Barkis isn’t used to sunshine in December
Sunshine? What the heck is that?
showing off my handsome profile and natural unclipped doberman ears.

years best

year's best

Everybody’s doing a “Year’s Best” — here’s mine, in completely random order:


  • best romance novel to re-read: The Windflower by Laura London (aka Tom and Sharon Curtis)
  • second-best re-read: Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer
  • best best-of list to feature a book by my favorite author (aka, me)
  • funniest YA novel: Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors (there is some big upcoming news on this book and I can’t wait for Suz to spill the beans!)
  • coolest Nora Roberts book: The Hollow
  • novel most likely to send you into therapy: Cost by Roxana Robinson
  • best sobfest: Last Kiss by Luanne Rice
  • funniest: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
  • most inspiring fiction: Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber
  • best love-your-body women’s fiction: Bikini Season by Sheila Roberts
  • best category romance novel: a tie–The Princess and the Cowboy by Lois Faye Dyer, It’s That Time of Year by Christine Wenger
  • best reissued novel for kids: Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee
  • most overused device in literary fiction: a dead or missing child 😦
  • best serial thriller: Tailspin by Catherine Coulter
  • best book you probably haven’t read but should: People of the Book
  • stranger-than-fiction nonfiction: Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein
  • best photographs: Life: The Classic Collection
  • biggest slog but worth the effort: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
  • cutest photographs with coolest story: The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton
  • best ending: Run by Ann Patchett
  • best holiday themed novel: The Letters by Luanne Rice, tied with A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
  • best escape: Still Summer by Jacquelyn Mitchard
  • beach read most likely to make you forget you’re at the beach: The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky
  • book that’s making all the “best-of” lists that people only pretend to have read: A Mercy by Toni Morrison
  • favorite best-of list
  • best-of list of books you probably won’t read
  • best first novel: Oxygen by Carol Cassella
  • best not-yet-published novel: Dog Days by Elsa Watson
  • best book about books: Book Lust and More Book Lust by Nancy Pearl

what’s on my mind right now:

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