Playing Catch-Up

Maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t blogged in, oh, I dunno, SEVEN WEEKS? Or maybe you thought I was dead, or perhaps I’d been unjustly incarcerated. None of these is the case. In fact I’ve had a severe case of the busies.

So let’s play catch-up, and hit the high-lights, shall we? Since I last blogged in early June my book SUMMER RENTAL came out. We had a fabulous launch party at Feast Restaurant in Decatur, where we celebrated with old and new friends and sold the most books ever in one night.

Launch night with the FoxTale Bookshop Babes

For me, anyway. (Thanks FoxTales Bookshop of Woodstock!) And then I hauled that overpacked suitcase of mine to a buttload of bookstores in a buttload of states. At Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC., I caught up with the Women of Weymouth, aka my writer’s group, for our celebratory pre-signing dinner. Big shout-outs to the WOWs; Alex Sokoloff, Bren Witchger, Diane Chamberlain, Margaret Maron, Katy Munger and Sarah Shaber, who helped, held my hand, and listened to me whine while I was writing SR.

Fairhope, Alabama and Page and Palette Books was wonderful as always, especially since an alert fan at the signing told me about an estate sale which I was able to hit on the way back to my hotel afterwards.

My Mobile estate sale find--antique quilt top

Selling buttloads of books + junk = happy author.

The next day, in Houston, I had a great signing at Blue Willow Books and got to have dinner afterwards with my cousin Art and his family, which was a great treat. I hope Art’s kids (he has about a dozen) never have to find out that he was the wheel-man on our illicit teenage liquor-buying capers. And I hope my kids (and grandkids!) never find out my part in said capers.

In Chicago, I had a morning off and took the Chicago Architectural Foundation’s boat tour, something I’ve wanted to do ever since watching Julia Roberts do the same thing in My Best Friend’s Wedding. Can’t hear the song The Way You Look Tonight without thinking of that movie, one of my favorite chick flicks ever. And the real boat tour, by the way, was wonderful. After my signing that night, I was dining at a swanky Italian restaurant (Thanks, St. Martin’s Press!) when I spotted an elegant gentleman winding his way through the dining room. At a table nearby I spotted a trio of earpiece-wearing security-types. My waiter confirmed my hunch, it was indeed, Chicago’s new Mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Who, btw, is one fine-lookin’ dude.

One of the biggest moments of the past seven weeks happened, serendipitously at my signing at Island Books, in the Outer Banks, where Summer Rental is set. I was chatting with fans when my cellphone rang and I saw that the caller was my editor, the amazing Jennifer Enderlin. Here’s how the call went. Jen: “Are you sitting down?” Me: “Yeeesss. What’s wrong?” Jen: Summer Rental is NUMBER FIVE ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST!” Me: SQUEEEEEEEE!” Seriously, I think everybody in the place thought I’d seen a mouse cuz I screamed like a banshee. Huge, wonderful, surprising thrill. My first time to make the list that high.

Cryin' and Signin' at Island Books

Then I called Mr. MKA and cried like a baby. And when I got back to my hotel that night, there was a bucket of iced-down champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries waiting for me. (Thanks, St. Jenderlin!)

The party continued the next night in Fairhaven, N.J., on the Jersey Shore, where the world’s best agent, Stuart Krichevsky, showed up for my signing with a huge cooler-full of ice cream, an armload of gorgeous roses, and a magnum of equally-gorgeous champagne, the last a gift from Mr. MKA. (Thanks, Honey! I think I could get used to this.) Also on hand for our gala was mega marketing maven Meg Walker, who single-handedly managed to corral nearly a hundred ladies to attend the booksigning that night. Even better—the  next day Stuart, Meg and I breakfasted on that Jersey delicacy Pork Roll.

Then I motored down to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for a fun signing at Browseabout Books. Love that store.

After a round of signings in Atlanta, I flew off to the American Library Association conference in New Orleans. Loved seeing all the librarians and my St. Martin’s and HarperCollins peeps there, but more importantly, I got to have dinner with my brother and sister-in-law at their bar, Parasol’s, a local landmark in the Irish Channel. Experienced the wonders of their roast beef po-boy. Wowsers! You gotta go. The next morning I had another treat—hanging out with New York Times bestselling, Edgar Award winning, self-admitted showtune singer and shoe slut Laura Lippman. Good times.

The last week of June was RWA time—that is, Romance Writer’s of America conference, in New York. Picture 2,500 romance writers milling around the Marriott Marquis slap-dab in the middle of Times Square. So much fun it shoulda been illegal.

Foolin' around with Fabio at RWA

I had drinks with my editor and publisher, and after dropping heavy hints that I was dying to see the only Broadway show whose ticket was literally impossible, the impossible happened. Phone calls were made, texts were exchanged, and that Wednesday night I went to see Tony-award winning The Book of Mormon. Hilarious, totally original, wonderful. Also Wednesday, I got to have coffee with NYT bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who so kindly provided a blurb for Summer Rental. Thursday night was party night, and my date for the night was the aforementioned Meg the Marketer, who’d proven her partying style at last year’s RWA, where she managed to party like a pro at three functions in one night—and on crutches with a cast. This year we toned it down a little—even though I did buy myself a pretty fabulous pair of vaguely hookerish gold high-heeled sandals. We got to chat with lots of my publishing peeps—and see the amazing sunset view at the St. Martin’s Press party held in their landmark Flatiron Building.

Sunset in the point of the Flatiron building with Meg Walker at the St. Martin's party

After that we tagged along with writer buddy Kayla Perrin to the Waldorf-Astoria where Harlequin was holding their famous annual Black and White Ball. Which we crashed. I will never forget the sensation of dancing in a sea of black and white-clad romance writing wenches—to Lady GaGa’s Bad Romance.

Crashing the Black and White Ball in style

When we finally hobbled out of the Harlequin soiree we decided we were hungry, so we went back to the hotel, changed out of our party finery, then walked up to Fifth Avenue, where Meg introduced me to the concept of The Happy Waitress, which is a post-midnight diner dinner of grilled cheese with bacon & tomato. Delish.

When I finally arrived home, it was time for the most eagerly-awaited event of the year: the arrival of our second grandchild, John Griffin Abel, who was born here in Atlanta on July 8. Now that was truly a highlight. Mr. Mary Kay and I were out in the waiting room when he was born, and got to hold him shortly afterwards.

Love at First Sight!

Griff is the most adorable baby since…well, since his big sister Molly was born almost exactly two years earlier. He is long and skinny, with a quizzical expression in his deep blue eyes, and he sleeps and eats like a champ. Molly is adjusting nicely to sisterhood.

Last week, we managed to tear ourselves away from the new kid on the block with a short trip down to Tybee Island and Savannah. Susan and the girls at Seaside Sisters threw me a big ol’ Sign n’ Sip Party and Junk-a-Thon, where we totally sold out of Summer Rental. On Friday night, we drove down to St. Simon’s Island, where we managed to fit in dinners with two sets of old friends in between signings at The Cloister and G.J. Ford Bookshop.

It’s been a whirlwind summer, for sure. Thanks to you wonderful readers, and all the fabulous booksellers who hosted me for signings, and the amazing folks at Team MKA, Summer Rental has managed to stay on the NYT bestseller list for six weeks now—a first for me. I managed to spend some time with family and old friends while out on the road, fit in a little junking, and to meet new and old fans. Most importantly, we got to welcome a healthy, precious lil’ guy to our family. I am so blessed!

Which brings me right back home again, where I shall stay, at least for a week, before running away somewhere to dig in and get back to work at my real job, which is working on TFB. (The Friggin’ Book.) It is due right this very minute. Did I tell you the title? No? How ‘bout HIDEAWAY LAKE?

1 thought on “Playing Catch-Up”

  1. Wow – after reading about your Summer I feel like such a slug. 😎 Staying busy with all of those book signings wouldn’t be near so fun if you didn’t get to hit an estate sale or two in between! Hope you get a little bit of rest so the story of Hideaway Lake can start flowing… and pinch that sweet little baby for all of us!

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