Q&A WITH MKA: Book Tours Explained

As I start the third week of book signings for my new book, THE WEEKENDERS, I’m struck by how interested readers are in the mechanics of a book tour. For me, hitting the road to do signings and meet booksellers and fans is one of my favorite parts of being an author—it’s the dessert after a particularly challenging entrée; i.e. writing the damn book. So I thought I’d sit down and explain my answers to the most frequently asked questions.

  1. Who arranges a book tour? Your agent? Editor? Minions?
    This can vary within publishing houses, but generally speaking, the publicity department, along with input from the marketing department, and the author, and sometimes her editor and agent, come up with bookstores and towns for the tour. Many times, bookstores, through publisher’s sales representatives, will request an author event. Sometimes local libraries, schools, universities, or community organizations will reach out to publishers to request a visit from an author. In my own case, several months before my new book’s publication, I meet with the publicity and marketing team at St. Martin’s Press, and we start planning where my tour will take me. Because I’ve been around the block a few times (THE WEEKENDERS is my 24th novel!), my publicist usually has a list of requests from bookstores. We also take into account the setting of my novel when planning a tour. Since THE WEEKENDERS is set off the coast of North Carolina, in addition to my usual haunts, this year’s tour is taking me to Raleigh, the Outer Banks, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Asheville, and Highlands, NC. Last year’s book, BEACH TOWN was set in a small Florida fishing village, so I did signings in Tampa, St. Pete (my hometown), Jacksonville, and Vero Beach.

    BethanyBeach
    I got a warm welcome at Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, DE.
  2. Who pays?
    Not me! My publisher pays all my expenses and makes all the travel arrangements.

    Here I am in Duck, NC visiting with longtime Nags Head resident Nancy Rascoe, who was so helpful when I was researching my book, SUMMER RENTAL.
    Here I am in Duck, NC visiting with longtime Nags Head resident Nancy Rascoe at Duck’s Cottage, who was so helpful when I was researching my book, SUMMER RENTAL.
  3. How long does a book tour last?
    It varies with each book, but this year, I’ll be on and off the road for roughly six weeks over the course of the summer, with an itinerary that takes up 26 typewritten pages. Generally speaking, I’ll travel for five or six days at a time, return home for a few days (to do my laundry and kiss my husband and remind him what I look like) before going back out on the road.

    FairHope
    Here’s the great crowd at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL, one of my favorite bookstores and a frequent stop for me while touring.
  4. Does your husband go with you on tour?
    God, no! And I never accompany him on business trips. Although I personally find book tours enjoyable, this truly is a professional obligation. I’m rarely in a town for more than 24 hours, so there’s little time for socializing or sightseeing. (Although I sometimes sneak in a little retail therapy.) Besides, Mr. MKA prefers doing his own thing and pining after me while I’m away. (Or so he claims.)

    ReBankRetailTherapy
    I did have time for a little retail therapy in Red Bank, NJ where there is an awesome downtown. I was able to get a quick blowout and get my FitBit cranking making up some steps after a long drive before my event with River Road Books that evening.
  5. How do you travel? Do you have a chauffeured limo? Do you get to fly first class?
    Bwahahahahahaha. That’s me spewing cheap chardonnay out my nostrils. Tragically, there is no liveried driver. No bodyguard, no official valet or lady’s maid, or armed escort. And there is definitely no first class. Sob. It’s just lil’ ole me, flying coach if my destination is more than half a day’s drive, and then driving a rental car to my final destination.

    PittsburghAirport
    Spotting my book in airport bookstores is one of may favorite book tour pastimes. Here’s THE WEEKENDERS at the Pittsburgh airport.
  6. Why don’t you ever do book signings in (a)Vermont (b)North Dakota (c)Utah?
    My publisher sends me places where there’s a proven readership for my novels, or where stores have clamored for me. I personally adore North Dakota and Utah, as well as many parts of Vermont, (although not necessarily in the winter) so if you are a reader who lives in those places, or any place where I haven’t been on a recent book tour, here’s how you can remedy that. (1) Buy my book from your local independent bookseller, and if they don’t carry it, annoy the hell out of them until they do. (2) Get your book club, friends, co-workers, and family members to do the same thing. But, remember, the above two plans only work if you make it a habit to buy print books, and locally, from that bookstore. Although my books are carried at big box chains and wholesale clubs nationwide, those stores rarely host book signings, and frankly, they really just want to sell you discount tires and five-pound jars of peanut butter. (3) If you’re a member of a large, non-profit organization, say the Junior League, or a hospital auxiliary, I frequently do ticketed luncheon and dinner speaking events, where my books are sold during the event. You can email my marketing genius, Meg Walker, at meg@tandemliterary.com to get the details about that. (4) If you don’t have a local bookstore, (or even if you do) ask your local library to order my books. Lobby for them to invite me to appear in your community to give a talk and book-signing. To do this, you’ll have to be able to prove to them that such an event would be wildly successful, i.e., attract more than just you and your bff.

    MysteryLovers
    Here’s the awesome crowd at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA.
  7. Here’s where I explain a little bit about how the retail book business works.
    Hosting a book signing event can be an expensive and time- and labor-intensive affair for bookstores. They have to convince a publisher’s sales rep that they can sell enough of my book to make the expense of sending me there worthwhile. They probably have to have a proven track record of hosting successful book events. They’ll have to order enough copies of my NEW book, plus copies of my most recent titles (this is called backlist) to make the trip worthwhile. In addition to ordering all those books, they have to pay the cost of shipping. And they have to be responsible for promoting the event through advertising and social media. They also have to staff the event with extra help, and if they hold the signing off-site, say at a local restaurant, they pay for that too. So it’s a risky business, to say the least.

    ATL_launch
    The launch party in Atlanta hosted by FoxTale Book Shoppe is always my biggest event. Here’s the piles of books and swag bags ready and waiting for my beloved readers to arrive.
  8. Now here’s the part where I risk offending loyal readers.
    As an extreme extrovert, I love meeting and greeting my fans. It’s a huge ego boost when I walk into a bookstore and see a line of friendly faces. But here’s the thing, folks. Bookstores need to sell books and other stuff, like calendars, greeting cards, etc., in order to stay in business. If you want them to remain in your community (and you should, because bookstores are a vital part of our culture), you have to actually put your money where your mouth is. I realize you can buy my books cheaper at those online retailers, big box stores, and discount clubs. And if price is the most important thing to you, I understand. But it’s really NOT NICE to show up at a book signing at ANY store, toting a book you bought someplace else, expecting me to sign it. It’s kind of the equivalent of taking a McDonald’s bag into a fine restaurant and plopping down at a table and proceeding to eat your Quarter-Pounder with their silverware, china and linen. You wouldn’t do that, right? Of course not! If you are a fan of my books, you are, by my definition anyway, a NICE person.

    Rehoboth
    What’s better than enjoying an icy cocktail with readers in a beach town bookstore? No much. Thanks, Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE!

Okay, class dismissed. Next time, we’ll talk about where I get my book ideas.

Save

Weekending wardrobe

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Getting ready to pack for my upcoming book tour for THE WEEKENDERS means lots of pre-planning. I’ll be on the road, with only a few days at home, for six weeks off and on. But it’s more fun this year, because I’ve recently lost over thirty pounds. Which means basically I’ve “been forced” to buy a whole new wardrobe–including smaller bras and Spanx. Hooray! When I’m home alone, slogging away on the next book, you’ll usually find me in my wardrobe of black yoga pants and tee shirt. But in public, especially when I’m on book tour, I try to look a little more presentable and put together–even if I’m only standing in the security line at the airport, or eating breakfast at my hotel.

That’s why I was so thrilled when my friend Rhoda at Southern Hospitality reached out to let me know about all the fun casual options available from Glamour Farms Boutique. Working with the fun crew over there, Rhoda asked them to send me some cute, packable outfits suitable for weekending and beyond. I was overwhelmed by all the choices–and the range of sizes available. Nothing is more frustrating than finding an outfit you love, online or in a shop, just to discover it’s only offered in sizes extra small to super skinny.

When that big shipping box from Glamour Farms arrived, it was like Christmas morning. Rhoda came over to my house this week and graciously helped me put together three different looks–although we could easily have chosen half a dozen or more outifts.

We had such a tough time deciding which looked best, we decided to poll her readers and mine. Please feast your eyes on all the options posted here, and vote for the one you thinks looks best on me. And as a reward for your assistance, we’ve got a fun giveaway–on Thurs. May 12 we’ll pick a commenter at random–and she’ll receive a $50 Glamour Farms gift certificate. But wait, there’s more! That same winner will also receive a gift bag of MKA’s favorite things, including a first edition copy of my new novel, THE WEEKENDERS, plus a bottle of OPI Strawberry Margarita nail polish, a Red Currant aromatherapy candle, a leather embossed WEEKENDERS luggage tag, and a DVD of BRIDESMAIDS, one of my fave chick flicks perfect for weekend viewing. But wait–we’re not done yet! My friend Lucy, at LucysInspired, who makes gorgeous hand-crafted jewelry from vintage prisms and architectural salvage, has offered to give away one of her beautiful necklaces, like the one I’m wearing with the Pretty Please tunic, to our lucky winner.

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I’m wearing the Keep the Faith tunic in coral.  How great does it look on Rhoda in blue?

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Pretty Please Tunic

The Pretty Please tunic has all my favorite colors. Cute, right?

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Lucy’s Inspired Necklace
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English Garden Top

The final look is the English Garden top in ivory and teal. What do you think?

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One more awesome thing before you go…Don’t you just LOVE the Glamour Farms clothing? Guess what? They have been kind enough to offer $10 off your order by using the Promo Code  RHODA3. (Offer excludes sale items) So click here to go over to their website and buy yourself something special.

A LITTLE BACK STORY AND CHANGE OF SCENE

change of scene

A LITTLE BACK STORY

 

The day after I turned in my (very late) manuscript for THE WEEKENDERS, which publishes May 17, I rewarded myself with a mani-pedi. My color choice for my toes was a happy coral called SHE WENT ON AND ON AND ON. Which was hilarious, and totally appropriate. Because once I get going on a book, I have a very hard time getting to the end. I write, well, on and on and on. And on and on.

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I have writer pals who say they can’t imagine writing a novel as long as 300 pages. Hah! I’m just getting wound up at the 300-page mark. At the 400 page mark I’m panicking, and as I approach 500 pages, despair sets in. Will I EVER finish?

Fortunately I have an editor with infinite patience and wisdom, who simply tells me that the story takes as long as it takes.

But she can also be ruthless when necessary. Which is what happened after I turned in my manuscript for my summer 2015 novel, BEACH TOWN. “The first 75 pages have to go,” Jen told me. She was right, of course. The first 75 pages weighed the novel down and made it too long to get to the hook—that irresistible dramatic scene that “hooks” the reader into wanting to know more.

Still, my heart sank. I loved those opening pages. They told the “back story” of my heroine, Greer Hennessy, an L.A.- based movie location scout who is the third generation woman in her family to work in the film industry. More importantly, they introduced the reader to Greer’s mother Lise, a has-been sitcom star who these days makes a living as an, ahem, “intimacy counselor”. Lise’s own mother, Dearie, had a short-lived acting career as a bit player, whose most memorable role was as an extra in a Cary Grant movie. After Lise’s birth, Dearie goes to work as a seamstress in a movie studio costume shop.

western costume
Period headpieces at Western Costume

As always, I’d done plenty of research for BEACH TOWN, travelling to L.A., touring a movie studio, visiting Western Costume, which is the world’s largest independent costume company, interviewing seamstresses, movie people, and of course movie location scouts.

paramount studio mka
Touring Paramount Studio

I did some location scouting of my own, visiting a 1920s-era bungalow apartment court that would provide the setting for Lise’s apartment, and later, an avocado farm in the mountains of the Central California coast, where Greer has a location shoot go very, very wrong. And of course, my friend Ki and I took a hilarious “homes of the stars” tour and ate at a Mexican restaurant that would become Lise and Greer’s favorite lunch spot.

I read up on the movie business, and even researched Cary Grant, my favorite Hollywood heartthrob, who, it turns out, might not have been as charming in real life as he appeared in the movies.

I really mourned the loss of those 75 pages, and all that back story. For months after the publication of BEACH TOWN, I thought about Dearie and Lise, and their story, and how their story contributed to Greer’s own story.

Eventually, I came up with a novel idea. Why not spin that story into a prequel to BEACH TOWN? Even though I was supposed to be working on my summer 2016 novel, THE WEEKENDERS, I just couldn’t let go of Lise and Dearie and Greer.

And that’s how CHANGE OF SCENE came to be. It’s a prequel novella, which means it’s shorter than one of my usual novels at only xxx pages, but there’s a very real, and I hope compelling story there.

Because of the shorter length, and the very short lead time I gave my publisher, we decided to make it available only for eReaders. It’s available in all E-formats, for Kindle, Nook and iBooks. I’m hoping my readers will find CHANGE OF SCENE an enjoyable read while they wait for THE WEEKENDERS to publish next month.

And in the meantime? I found another great nail color for my summer toes. It’s called SHORT STORY. No, really!

shorts story nails

 

 

 

 

 

March Madness

bakedpotatosoup
Potato Broccoli Cheddar Soup

March in Atlanta can mean sunny days with temperatures in the low ’80s, or miserable, cold, rainy days in the 40s. You just never know. This morning it was cold and rainy, and I’m so ready for spring, it made me really mad. And chilly. While out running errands, I stopped at one of my favorite lunch spots in Midtown Atlanta, Metro Fresh, which specializes in made-from-scratch soups, sandwiches and salads. I had a great bowl of potato broccoli cheddar soup, and it was so good I decided to make my own version for our dinner–and in the process I made enough to share with my daughter Katie, who was feeling tired and run-down. Soup for the soul, right?

Here’s what I came up with. I started by browning some bacon, but you could totally make a vegetarian version of this by skipping the bacon, and using vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth I used.

LOADED POTATO BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP–makes 6-8 servings

2 slices bacon, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 cup carrots, sliced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 Tbsp. minced garlic (I used the bottled kind)

2 Tbsp. Wondra flour

salt and pepper to taste (use salt sparingly!)

1 cup whole milk or half-and-half

3-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

3 cups roughly chopped broccoli florets

4 small baking potatoes

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Greek low-fat Greek yogurt.

In large heavy-bottom soup pot brown chopped bacon in a bit of olive oil. Add carrots, onions, celery and garlic, along with rest of olive oil and butter, and cook until vegetables are softened–6-8 minutes on medium heat. While that’s cooking, pop baking potatoes in microwave and cook on high, about 8 minutes. Let potatoes cool, peel and rough chop. To saucepan with vegetables,  whisk in Wondra flour, add half and half, stirring well. Add chicken broth, stir well. Add the broccoli florets and cook on medium heat, covered, about 8-10 minutes, until broccoli is softened. Add in potato cubes and stir well. Cook another five minutes or so, until all vegetables are softened. Turn off heat and using hand-held immersion blender, blend soup, leaving some chunks. Turn soup on low, add the cheddar cheese and the Greek yogurt. Stir until cheese is melted. Garnish with chopped chives and serve with cheese toasts.

 

 

Reading, Writing, Cooking on Retreat

I am on a retreat this week. Not the monastic kind, although, come to think of it, my narrow twin bed here does resemble something you’d find in a nunnery. No, actually I am on my annual twice-a-year writing retreat with my pals Margaret Maron, Bren Witchger and Diane Chamberlain. Normally, there are seven of us, but this time around, unfortunately our number is diminished due to life issues. We’re missing Katy Munger, Alex Sokoloff and Sarah Shaber, but work—and writing must go on.

This week we are at a beautiful non-profit center for the arts in Southern Pines, N.C. Our location sometimes vary, but our routine does not. The seven of us run away from home with our laptops and yellow legal pads. We burrow in for five days and write, brainstorm, write some more, and offer each other encouragement and advice, stopping only for very simple meals—and more brainstorming.

We’re now in our seventh or eighth year of retreats, which means collectively we’ve probably produced a couple dozen novels as a result of this week. So we take our work here very seriously.

Because the kitchen here is rudimentary, okay, it’s positively primitive, our meals have to be easy to prepare—and delicious. We all take one night to prepare dinner. Usually I bring a beef stew, or chili, or sometimes roast a chicken. As you can see from the photo below, I had to use three small saucepans to cook the pasta, because the kitchen doesn’t have a stockpot. Or a decent knife. In our writer’s group, Margaret is always assigned to bring a knife, and Sarah brings the coffee. Diane is in charge of getting us scheduled for the retreat. I bring wine. Alex brings her amazing shoulder massage talents. It’s a beautiful thing, our division of labor.

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But this year, we are having our retreat in August for the first time. Because I come from the longest distance away, I drove up from Atlanta Sunday night and stayed in a motel so I could be ready to get to work on Monday.

Before heading over to the retreat house, I took a leisurely drive around the country-side, on the hunt for a produce stand. I hit the jackpot at Auman’s Peach Orchard in West End,N.C. I bought two sacks of sweet, juicy Georgia Belle peaches, some corn and blueberries, all grown on or near the property. The peach man directed me to another produce stand, Andrews Family Produce, just up the road where I scored some fabulous local grown tomatoes.

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Tonight is my turn to cook, and I’ve been salivating all day today, anticipating the recipe I’ve chosen. It’s called Francis Lam’s Perfect Five Minute Raw Tomato Pasta. I first found it and fixed it on another retreat I took myself several years ago at my friend Beth’s house in the mountains of Ashe County, N.C. I fell hard for this recipe, fixing it three or four nights in a row, it was so easy. And yummy. I couldn’t find the recipe, so I called Beth today, and she shared it with me again. So here it is. And I hope the girls like it. And that the muses like it as much as the last time I fixed it in Ashe County, where I had a break-through on the book I was writing at the time. Muses gotta eat too, you know!

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This serves 2-4 people supposedly. And you should only make it if you have gorgeous dead-ripe ‘maters.

 

2-1/2 lbs. tomatoes.

2 loose cups arugula

Scant ½ shaved red onion

1 lb. linguine

olive oil, to taste.

Salt and pepper to taste

Red wine vinegar, a glug. You know what a glug is, right?

Freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese Not the stuff in the green shaker can.

 

Chop the tomatoes into ½ inch piees and put with all their juices in a very big bowl. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil. Stir and taste. Add some red wine vinegar.

 

Bring a big pot of water to boil, add salt and then the pasta. Stir

While the pasta cooks, layer the arugula on top of the tomatoes and then layer the slices of red onion on top of that.

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When the pasta is done, drain it and dump it straight into the bowl. Leave it there, untouched for two minutes. Sip some wine. You bought wine, right? Grate the cheese while you’re waiting. Now, stir it all together, add the cheese and taste for salt and pepper. Serve. I probably should have told you to fix some garlic bread in the broiler while your sauce is sitting. You’re gonna need it to sop up all those yummy juices.Otherwise, prepare to lick the bowl and experience  a literary break-through. Don’t thank me. Thank Beth. And Francis Lam.

 

 

Meet Truman Kicklighter on Audio

Back in the 1990s, when I was writing mysteries, I conjured up a retired newspaper reporter sleuth named Truman Kicklighter. Truman was a crusty widower who lived on a fixed income, in a retirement hotel in my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. Truman was feisty, a dedicated early-bird coupon clipper, much like many of the retirees I knew while growing up in St. Pete. He had a sidekick, Jackleen Canaday, who was a waitress at The Fountain of Youth residential hotel, and the two of them managed to get themselves into and out of hot water on a regular basis.
Lickety Split

crash course

The two books in the series, LICKETY-SPLIT and CRASH COURSE, went out of print some years ago, but with the advent of e-readers, I decided to self-publish both titles. In the first book, LICKETY SPLIT, Truman and Jackleen investigate the murder of a race-track tout who’s come up with what seems like a fool-proof system to pick winners at Derby Lane, the historic greyhound race track in St. Pete. In CRASH COURSE, Truman comes to the rescue after Jackleen unwittingly gets herself mixed up with a crooked gang of used car scammers. Both books are available on all digital formats, but now, finally, I’m happy to announce that Truman is also available as an audiobook.
Kayser

When it came time to hire a narrator to give voice to Truman, I knew immediately who to call. Our friend Chris Kayser is a celebrated veteran actor, best known in Atlanta for bringing Ebeneezer Scrooge to life for the past 16 years in the Alliance Theater’s production of A Christmas Carol. Chris keeps busy with other acting roles, and professional voice work–and he plays a mean game of tennis, according to my husband, who plays with him on a regular basis. Chris is actually A LOT younger than Truman, but being the amazing actor he is, he’ll make you believe he’s the personification of my favorite male sleuth. I’m thrilled with the results, and hope all my fans will give the books a listen during their summer road trips–or just your next block of “me time” listening to audiobooks.

If you’re an audiobook fan like me, I hope you’ll give check out LICKETY SPLIT and CRASH COURSE.

On The Road Again

Save The Date goes on sale at midnight tonight, and that means just one thing–I’m on the road again! People always ask me what is my favorite thing about writing, and the answer, unfailingly, is meeting my readers. They welcome me, inspire me, hug my neck and comment on new hairdo. What’s better than that?

We had an amazing party in Atlanta last night to celebrate the launch of my 23rd novel, and now, the party rolls on. If we did book tour T-shirts like rock n’ roll tours, mine would have to be an XXL to list all my tour stops. Briefly, it reads like this, Savannah, Charleston, Raleigh, Pawley’s Island, Greenville, S.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, New Jersey, Conn., Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Fairhope AL., Nashville, St. Simons Island, and Savannah again.

If you live anywhere near my tour stops, I hope you’ll come out to meet me, party, hug my neck–and comment on my new hairdo. Y’all come!

In the meantime, here are some pics from last night’s shindig…

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Save the Date June 1

save-the-date

Hey y’all, what are you doing on Sunday June 1? I promise you this is one date you are going to want to save. We have got a whopping wing-ding of a launch party planned for the publication of my new summer beach read SAVE THE DATE. So get yourself to Atlanta and the Buckhead Westin for the party of the season that Sunday, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Complimentary valet parking!

We’re partnering up with the foxy ladies at FoxTales Book Shoppe again this year to out-do everything we’ve done in the past. Your $35 party pass gets you a signed first edition of SAVE THE DATE (two days before the official on-sale date), and a swag bag full of goodies, plus lots of nibbles and a signature “Wedding Crasher” cocktail from our friends at Vixen Vodka. The folks from Sinless Cocktails will be in the house too. A portion of the proceeds from the party will go to The Atlanta Humane Society, who are promising to promenade some adorable pups during the party. And here’s a very cool thing–be an early bird and buy your tickets by midnight May 15 and you’re registered to win Uber Black Car service transportation to and from the party for you and three friends, plus a $200 gift card to enjoy dinner after the party at Dantanna’s, which is right beside the Westin. This, my friends, is a $400 value!

Since the protagonist of SAVE THE DATE is a Savannah wedding florist/planner who is about to score the society wedding of the season,we’ve lined up nearly two dozen wedding vendors who’ve donated goodies plus raffle prizes. And you do not have to be planning a wedding to enjoy all this wonderfulness. We’ll have DJ Dano Atlanta spinning dance tunes–but I’ve promised my children I won’t be breaking it down to “Brick House”, okay, I probably will be breaking it down to “Brick House”. Because you just can’t NOT dance to that. (But I’ll try not to do the “Elaine.”)

elaine dance

 

We’ll have a photo booth by Bert McDonald Photography so you and your BFFs can document the evening. A parade of fashions from Tootsie’s. The girls from Kendra Scott are bringing their jewelry bar so you can customize some cool jewelry pieces–at a discounted price. We’ll have yummy treats from Yum Yum Dessert Company, cupcakes from Sprinkles, and appetizers from Sean O’Keefe Events and the Westin’s own kitchen wizards. Speaking of fashions, and crimes against fashion, you should definitely dig out your most heinous bridesmaid’s dress to compete in our Ugly Bridesmaid’s Dress contest. We’ll love you (and ridicule you endlessly) if you wear the dress, but if it no longer, um, fits your physique, feel free to bring it along. If only I still had the fetching peach polyester confection with matching straw picture hat I wore to my friend Donna’s wedding, I think it would be a serious contender. But by all means, if you have a purple satin gown with white fur trim accessorized by a muff and improbable hat like these unfortunate lasses, please, I beg you, bring it on.

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What else? Well, Uber will be in the house, offering discounts for those who download their app. Seriously? Have you tried Uber? You’ll never get in a grungy taxi again. If you’re into pampering–(who isn’t?) the ladies from Spa Sydell, Sweet Peach Wax and Sugaring Studio, Roc House Women’s Fitness Spa, b. You BlowDry & Beauty Bar, and White Salon and Spa plus Beaty Facial Plastic Surgery will be offering samples and discount coupons. Intimacy–have you tried their bras? Cross my heart, you’ll love ’em. Should you actually have a wedding in the near future, Modern Luxury Brides Magazine and Groom Studio will also be at the event. We’ll be raffling off amazing door prizes all evening, but the most amazing prize is the mac-daddy Grand Wazoo Prize–a package of each vendor’s products and services, which is a $2,500 value. Our friends from Sea Island will also join us at the party, and they’ll be holding a drawing for two nights at the five-star resort, The Cloister–a double occupancy room, a massage for two and a $200 resort credit. Ah-mazing. The Cloister. My idea of heaven on earth.

the cloister

 

So, to re-cap. A benefit for the Atlanta Humane Society, the Mary Kay Andrews Save The Date Book Launch–tickets are $35 in advance, $45 at the door. After the event, go over to Dantanna’s, show them your copy of the book and receive 10 percent off your meal. Go here to buy your ticket. And remember, SAVE THE DATE!

 

 

 

 

 

Have You Saved the Date Yet?

NC309_CRcard_NOTESI know, it’s been months since I posted here. I bet you thought I was still down in Florida, sunnin’ and funnin’. Or maybe you thought I’d taken the winter off to go junking. I wish! Instead, I’ve been hard at work putting the finishing touches on SAVE THE DATE, which publishes June 3. We have all kinds of fun promotional opportunities for my fans, including this bribe, I mean, offer, from our fab friends at Anna Griffin. Pre-order SAVE THE DATE from your favorite bookseller by the deadline of May 23, and fill out this form HERE, and we’ll enter you to win one of 250 sets of this lovely Anna Griffin stationery. The pattern is called Olivia and the box includes 20 flat cards with coordinating lined envelopes–a retail value of $18.

pre-order gift-1

In the meantime, my life never seems to slow down. But in a good way. I’ll be doing a brown bag lunch and lecture in Savannah next Weds. April 16 at a fun new venue called Cohen’s Retreat. We’ll spend Easter with the family on Tybee at Ebbtide, then I’ll bunny hop my way down to Tampa to sign books on Thurs. April 24 at the Southern Living Custom Builder Showcase Home. On Monday, June 28, I’ll be the luncheon speaker at the Morton Plant Mease Foundation’s Planters Spring Luncheon at the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach. Given the fact that my late sister Susie was a 30-year career hospital nurse, I was so pleased to know that funds raised at the charity luncheon will go towards scholarships for nursing students.

On Apr. 29, LADIES’ NIGHT will release in paperback–just in time for your spring trips to the beach. And on May 2, I’ll be the luncheon speaker at the Polo Women’s Club in Cumming, GA.

Stay tuned to my Facebook page for news coming soon about our annual Mother’s Day recipe card giveaway.

And did I mention, you should totally pre-order SAVE THE DATE here? Maybe get one for mom while you’re at it.

Happy Spring, y’all!

Snow Place Like the Beach in January

I am pregnant with book. Over-due with book. This summer’s book was due months ago, but sometimes, that’s how I roll. So I ran away to write. Not to Tybee, my normal runaway destination, but farther south. All the way to Anna Maria Island, Florida. Anna Maria, you may remember, was the setting for LADIES’ NIGHT. I was so charmed by this low-key island paradise, I decided to come back to work on SAVE THE DATE. Mr. MKA and I arrived in early January. I graciously allowed him to stay here for a few days, and then escorted him to the airport. Three whole weeks of writing! Three weeks of solitude. And it’s been amazing. Even if the weather hasn’t been.

Here’s what I saw on one of my first beach walks.

Anna Maria Island beach birds
Anna Maria Island beach birds

If I could paint, this is what I would paint. But I can’t, so I guess I’m stuck with writing. Good thing I love it. Back to the weather. I was hoping for warm, sunny weather, because I love to take long walks to clear my head after hours of writing. What I mostly got was chilly, over-cast, and chilly mixed with rainy. But since I was able to dodge the bullet with Atlanta’s snowpocalypse, I really can’t whine too much.

Being a real estate voyeur, I love to look at cute, vintage cottages when I’m out for my daily strolls. I adored this old-timey screen door insert, and the picket fence.

Anna Maria Island screen door and picket fence
Anna Maria Island screen door and picket fence

SAVE THE DATE is set in Savannah, with a protagonist named Cara Mia Kryzik, a wedding florist whose own outlook on love and marriage is decidedly cynical. The book takes place in May, so I had to retreat into the world of the book and sunny, springtime Savannah, instead of chilly Anna Maria, while I was writing. One day while I was out strolling, I spotted this barnacle crusted tandem bike, complete with matching fishing pole, in front of a local business. There must be a story here, right?

barnacle-encrusted tandem bike and fishing pole on AMI
barnacle-encrusted tandem bike and fishing pole on AMI

Another morning, when I went out to walk, this little guy strolled up the driveway of my rented cottage to greet me. White egrets are all over the island.

Anna Maria egret
Anna Maria egret

Most days, weather permitted, I set out for a stretch of beach a couple blocks away, to sip wine and watch the sunset. Maybe because I grew up right across Tampa Bay, in St. Pete, but I have to say Gulf sunsets are my favorite. And I love seeing them through the feathery Austalian pines that dot the coast here. Reminds me of my childhood on Pass-A-Grille beach. I’m headed home Saturday morning, with a huge chunk of the book completed. I hope all the Atlanta roads have thawed by then. And I hope whereever you are, you’ll be as warmed as I am by one last Anna Maria sunset. Ahhhh.

sunset on Anna Maria Island
sunset on Anna Maria Island