Permalink to Friday Book Club

Friday Book Club

Friday Book Club! (A little late in the evening, I know. RWA consumes all time.) What are you reading? I actually picked up Elaine’s recommendation of It Ain’t Over…Till It’s Over to read on the plane trip here, and at about 3/4 way through am finding it utterly fascinating and also inspiring. From an author’s point of view, it’s just fascinating to see all the careers these women choose (who knew some of these things could be a career?) and how they go about it, but also it’s just quite motivating and meaningful to see the ways these women take their lives into their hands and re-invent themselves. (One woman became a film actress at the age of 65 for example. Another an aerial dancer at the age of 42. Also plenty of stories of opening a business, etc.)

I’m also, of course, getting intrigued by some of the books I hear about here, particularly Carolyn Crane’s Into the Shadows. (When I ran into Carolyn at the conference, the first thing I said was, “I have been hearing TONS about this latest book, from all kinds of people.” And then she ended up going out to dinner with some of us, at which she showed herself to be a very smart and interesting woman, to boot. So now I’m doubly intrigued.)

What about you? What are you reading? Anything you recommend? Anything you’re looking forward to for this weekend?

Permalink to

I’m at RWA in San Antonio now! Giving a talk this morning to librarians and then signing tonight at the Literacy Autographing, Marriott Rivercenter San Antonio 5:30-7:30pm. (This event is free & open to the public. ALL money goes to literacy initiatives. Publishers & authors donate their books entirely.)

Meanwhile, I wrote a pretty heartfelt post for Chachic’s Book Nook on why I write about France and things like chocolate, where I’m coming from and what I hope for these books. And shared some photos from the research! See the jasmine covered fountain? A huge thank you again for this beautiful and truly touching week of blogging events she has created.

Permalink to The Chocolate Awards?

The Chocolate Awards?

As part of the Amour et Florand week that Chachic of Chachic’s Book Nook has organized with other wonderful bloggers, Holly of Book Harbinger is naming her “Chocolat Awards” for these books! Favorite female protagonist, favorite male, favorite couple, funniest scene, steamiest scene…you can check out the categories and nominate your own favorites here.

Pakwanstripes is contributing to the week with a perfectly lovely post on the Five Senses in these books. I do believe very strongly that we should try to live with all our senses, and if these books could help…then I am really glad.  Check out the scenes she chooses to evoke each sense here.

And Kim, The Cover Girl of From Cover to Cover is relaunching her blog (yay!!) with her own post for the Amour et Florand week. Five things she loves about the book, AND media trainer, I will just point out that 3 of them are Paris, love (well, hot guys, but that’s close enough to love, right? :), and chocolate. So…universal messages anyone? Of course, Kim does also include burping phones, which just goes to show that one person’s universal may be someone else’s unique. :)

Once again, a HUGE and extremely touched THANK YOU to all these wonderful, kind, and generous bloggers for their time and their generosity towards these books. It means so much.




Permalink to Amour et Florand: A Week with Chachic

Amour et Florand: A Week with Chachic

Chachic’s Book Nook is hosting a week-long “Amour et Florand” blogging event. (This is NOT a book tour, this is a really special event that she has created on her own initiative around the Chocolate–and Roses–books, asking other bloggers to contribute posts during the week.) It’s a wonderful honor, and I am very flattered and also grateful that she would do such a special thing.

Today she is asking people to share how they discovered the Chocolate books, and/or my books in general. Also, ahem, she is sharing one of our old wedding photos!

You can let her know what first got you reading these books here.

Thank you so much, Chachic and all the participating bloggers, for this wonderful honor!

Permalink to Lavender


When I’m traveling it is so hard to post things on the blog, but once in a while I can manage with my phone to post something on FB. I’m not sure if those who follow the blog are saying, “Thank goodness for small favors,” or are feeling as if they are missing out, so…a little photo from the time in Provence for you.

lavender provence

Permalink to La Parisienne

La Parisienne

Ha, ha, have been going through some photos from the past few years for a blog event next week (selecting some chocolate and rose research photos). What do you think of this little Parisienne I ran into while I was hunting? (Hint: She’s mine. Several years ago now.)

One of those little parental moments yesterday: I arrived to pick her up from her science camp to find the instructor finishing up a story about the Mona Lisa. (“Which I’ve never seen, but I hear it’s like this…”) My daughter just sat there gazing at him. A couple of times you could tell she *thought* about saying something but she never did. Afterward, I said, “Honey, why didn’t you tell him what it was really like? He did ask if any of you had ever seen it.” “Mom, he’s the teacher. He didn’t really want to know what other people knew, he just wanted to talk about what he knew.” SO NOT TRUE. As a teacher myself, I can swear to that. I LOVE having students who know more than I do. Sigh. And that girl has had some really good teachers so far in school, too. I guess it’s a caution to all of us teachers about the way we can come across to kids.)

A HUGE THANK YOU for all the support about the delay in ONCE UPON A ROSE. I really, really appreciate it, so much.

paris in the spring

Permalink to Once Upon a Rose

Once Upon a Rose

I need to make a very unpopular announcement.

I am very sorry, but I have decided to delay the release of ONCE UPON A ROSE until later in the fall. By “decided”, I guess I should say that the book decided for me. While it is “finished”, it is not good yet. I’ve never before released a book that I did not personally love, and I don’t want to start now.

But that’s not quite fair to put it all on the book, because I made some choices, too. Primarily, SUN-KISSED.

The problem is that I never had SUN-KISSED in my publishing schedule for this year. Once the idea grew, though, and I wrote the first scene, I really fell in love with that story and that couple. I got caught in it, and just had to write it, and that ended up leaving me several months behind my expected schedule on ONCE UPON A ROSE. (Which I had promised to people for August. There’s an article out this month in RT Magazine for example, which they ran specifically this edition to time it with the promised release of ONCE UPON A ROSE.)

I am extremely proud of SUN-KISSED–I love that couple so much, and it’s a book that makes me very happy–but I want to be extremely proud of ONCE UPON A ROSE, too. So it needs some more time, and not to be rushed because SUN-KISSED stole all its time.

So I am very, very sorry, as I know people will be disappointed, and I know I have not fulfilled what I said I would do. But I do hope you were glad to have SUN-KISSED. I really loved writing it.

That all said, SUN-KISSED having shouldered the blame and all, a dozen books in two years is a LOT for someone who also teaches full time at a pretty demanding university and has a family she wants to value, too. It means a lot of nights working from my daughter’s bedtime until 11 pm and waking up again at 4 or 5 am and a lot of weekends where one parent or the other juggles while the other works. So there might need to be some re-balancing going forward, to keep from burning out.

It’s fairly common these days for people to ask me, “So when are you going to quit teaching and write full-time?” And, yes, it’s true–I could. The books are doing “well enough” and my own husband’s job is so transportable that yes, we could go live in Provence or something and work from there. (I know. You’re saying, “She’s crazy. Provence full time? And she’s not doing that?”)

The thing is: being a lecturer at Duke is never something I’ve thought of as a stopgap until I can “make it” doing something else, like writing. It is an honor and, to me, a major life accomplishment. I love doing it and consider myself extremely fortunate every morning I walk onto campus. (Unless it’s freezing rain on me as I walk and I have some difficult student issue to deal with that day, but you know what I mean. Most days are very good days.)

I ALSO am extraordinarily honored at the reception of these stories. I consider that, too, a major life accomplishment. I am exceptionally fortunate and can only, again, thank all of you who have opened your heart to these stories.

So I want both. They balance each other out, the extroversion and involvement with others that come with teaching and the introversion and quiet time that are essential to writing. I would probably turn into a complete nutcase, if I spent all my time writing and then, in my spare time, flinching away from the internet. (It’s a beautiful thing, the internet. It’s opened up some wonderful doors for me, and I’ve made a lot of friends on it. But it can also lead to some extremely unhealthy behaviors and interactions.) It’s very good to have a balance.

I also value enormously the intellectual stimulation of a major university and of the colleagues I have there. It’s truly a pure joy to just talk to colleagues there, about any idea in the world, and have their brains engage with mine. Do I have a question about anything? I might have a world expert on the subject just across the Quad.

And when Katie Dubois (Katharine Ashe) and I started talking to different programs about doing a course on romance novels, for example–something really totally outside the normal purview of most of my colleagues–it was just amazing how so many people threw themselves into the creativity of it, and how all the ideas they have been throwing out have fed into ours in this incredible brainstorming that can occur in this kind of milieu. Or, to give another example, I love attending a talk on interculturalism and trying to sneak a cookie at the end only to have a colleague grab me to introduce me to someone else who is doing work on the architectural concept of subnature and applying it to food. (“Oh, you should talk to Laura. She’s kind of our chocolate expert.” Ha, ha, talk about a fun field of expertise. :) ) And yes there are some exciting possibilities for his project with subnature and chocolate. (Also with subnature and perfume, in fact.) Or another day, I might find myself going out for hot chocolate with a world-famous behavioral economics expert who wants to brainstorm ideas for experiments on what food choices show about human behavior.

It’s FUN. It’s exciting.

And so is writing fun and exciting. And powerful and rich and deep. And…FUN. And some of the opportunities in writing have been equally amazing. To book tour in Italy, for my first book? I mean, who gets to do that? That is crazily wonderful. And yet it happened. To find some of my own most-admired authors talking about my books and saying wonderful things about them? Oh…wow. That is just…what words do you have for that, beyond wow? To have so many of you write to me or just talk about the books with others and share them? That’s amazing.

YES, I want to keep writing, too. I have so many more stories trying to force me to find time to put them on the page that it’s what drives me awake at 4 am.

So, you know…I’ll just have to find a balance. It might mean, as I’ve been warning people, that there might be fewer than five new books next year, though.

Don’t kill me! I hope you can understand. And if you can enjoy the previous 11 (or 12 if you count that memoir, BLAME IT ON PARIS, although, ahem, I hear the twenty-six-year-old narrator is annoying :) ), then I am thrilled.

Again, all my apologies for the delay and all my thanks for all the wonderful support these past two years and for the enthusiasm for this next book. It’s meant a lot. I’m really, really sorry, and I also really, really appreciate and am humbled by the fact that people could be wanting to read it at all.

And now, back to work on the edits for ONCE UPON A ROSE.


Permalink to The Great Book Club Adventures

The Great Book Club Adventures

Shannon, of the Fantastic Book Club (What Happens at Book Club, Stays at Book Club) has been posting some of their adventures on Pinterest! If you need book club ideas, check these out. The link here goes to her very first book club (on THE CHOCOLATE THIEF), but if you click to her other boards, you can see not only some of the other Chocolate books, but some really fun sessions on other authors, including some of my favorites. I wish I could have been at the book club meeting for Penny Reid’s NEANDERTHAL SEEKS HUMAN or Penny Watson’s APPLES SHOULD BE RED!

What do you think? Are you inspired? :) Do you have a book club yourself? Have you ever been in one? (Did it work out well or fizzle slowly?)

Permalink to Basic cooking skills?

Basic cooking skills?

In Medium Raw , which I’m reading now, Anthony Bourdain has a chapter on what he thinks should be basic kitchen skills for “all men, women, and teenagers”. What do you think? Do you agree? Do you have all these? His list seemed to me to have a certain bias toward traditional Western European based cooking. If you come from another culinary culture, are there skills you think should be swapped out for, say, boeuf bourguignon?

The list, in brief:

1) Basic knife handling, sharpening, & maintenance, along with rudimentary dicing, mincing, slicing.

2) Ability to make an omelet. (“I have long believed that it is only right and appropriate that before one sleeps with someone, one should be able…to make them a proper omelet in the morning.”)

3) Roast a chicken.

4) Correctly grill & rest a steak. (He references the terrible state of backyard grilling.)

5) Cook vegetables.

6) Make a standard vinaigrette.

7) Ability to shop for fresh produce, have a sense of what’s in season, what’s ripe or rotten.

8) Recognize fish that’s fresh & how to clean & filet it.

9) Steam a lobster, crab, clams or mussels.

10) Roast meats & know when it’s done without a thermometer.

11) Roast & mash potatoes.

12) Make rice, both steamed & pilaf method.

13) Have fundamentals of braising (he mentions specifically boeuf bourguignon).

14) Be able to make stock from bones, plus a few soups.

15) Each person should develop his/her own “modest yet unique repertoire”, a few dishes that they love & practice preparing until are proud of result. “To either respect in this way their own past–or express through cooking their dreams for the future. Every citizen would thus have their own specialty.”

So what do you think? Can you proudly claim to do all? Would you suggest any changes to the list? What would be in your modest but unique repertoire?

Anthony Bourdain is not a sweets person, but I actually think that everyone who likes chocolate should know how to make a basic ganache (it’s extremely easy). And for Americans, how to make a cake/brownies/chocolate chip cookies without a mix, and bread. (French, on the other hand, don’t like cakes in the first place usually and have fantastic and cheap bakeries every block, so if you live there, let the pros do it.) And, while I think Anthony Bourdain might be opposed to this particular sauce-making skill, I will say that the ability to make a roux is easily acquired and is useful in all kinds of sauces.

What do you think?


Permalink to Friday Book Club! LOTS of books

Friday Book Club! LOTS of books

FRIDAY BOOK CLUB! With all the travel, this has been on hiatus for a good long month, so I’ve been reading a lot and I bet you have, too. Right this moment, I’m reading Anthony Bourdain‘s Kitchen Confidential, which is just irresistibly captivating. He’s got such a vivid voice and attitude!

Some other great reads while traveling: Elyssa Patrick‘s GO WITH ME (super sweet hero here), Theresa Romain‘s TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS (a “mad” duke! really a geeky intellectual with social anxiety…need I say more?), and I’ve just been reading Cecilia Grant‘s WOMAN ENTANGLED. Recommends all!

And, of course, Penny Reid‘s NEANDERTHAL MARRIES HUMAN. Adorable!! Love this couple, so charming and so sweet, too.

What about you? What have you been reading? Anything you recommend? Anything you’re looking forward to this weekend?

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