Speaking of friends, today we have another group of fun people, who also happen to be fantastic writers, joining us and we have one very special guest of honor. So, without further ado, let's rev up the margarita machine, get those delicious goodies plated, cut the cake, meet our special guests and PARTY ON because today, finally, is my 60th birthday!
Throw open those doors! Our guests are ready to make their appearance! Please welcome the fun and fabulous Sarah MacLean, Tessa Dare, Manda Collins, Anne Gracie, Christina Dodd, Eloisa James and...drumroll, please...our very special Guest of Honor and fellow September 20th birthday girl: Julie Anne Long! Welcome! Welcome! I'm thrilled to have you all join us today and, Julie Anne, I'm especially excited to share my birthday party with you on our special day! :)
PJ: Grab a drink and let's chat a bit. I've enjoyed hearing about everyone's birthday traditions this week. Do y'all have any special traditions you look forward to on your birthdays?
Julie Anne: First—the happiest of birthdays to you, PJ, my birthday twin!! So delighted to be here today. As for birthday traditions? Mine is to milk it for all it’s worth for as long as I can. Hee! I love birthdays—they’re an excuse to have dinners and lunches with all my favorite people. Presents are lovely, but time spent with people you adore is the best gift of all. It’s often difficult to gather everyone at once when you’re an adult (which I have been for a long, long time now) because everyone is so busy and far-flung. But on the plus side, you can make birthdays last for a month or more if you play your cards right by spreading out all those lunches and dinners. And of course, the day itself is always special. Usually I go out to dinner, and there will be cake!!
PJ: Julie, I love your style! I'm having such fun extending my birthday celebration this year and, especially, being able to share it with you!
Manda: We don't really have any traditions. Usually the extended family will get together at my grandmother's house and we'll do the usual cake and ice cream routine. My mom was the oldest of six kids so it can be chaotic with the cousins and aunts and uncles all piling in. But it's fun. And chaotic. Did I say chaotic.
PJ: Growing up, my birthdays were a lot like what you've described, Manda. Nowadays, we're all spread out over several states so they're a bit quieter.
Sarah: Our family has this crazy tradition where we race to be the first to wish each other a happy birthday. When we finally get through, we sing Happy Birthday, and the birthday person says "You're first!" or (horrors) "You know you're last." It's a bit frustrating for spouses (Eric's always groaning at 6 in the morning on my birthday), but it's what we do!
PJ: Oh, please don't let my brothers find out about this tradition! I have visions of 3am Happy Birthday phone calls! ;-)
Tessa: Special traditions... hmm. Ever since our kids were born, we've been all about the Chuck E. Cheese, bowling, and bounce-house birthdays. So when it's my birthday, I want nothing more than a quiet dinner out with Mr. Dare! I also sometimes play the 'birthday card' to coax the family into an artsy excursion. The Huntington Library is one of my favorite places to visit on special days -- fine art, rare books, and beautiful gardens.
PJ: Tessa, the Huntington Library sounds like a wonderful place to spend your special day.
PJ: If you stopped by the blog yesterday you saw a photo of the birthday cake my jokester brothers bought me. It's chocolate with fluffy white frosting. What's your favorite kind of birthday cake? Are you a purist or do you enjoy it with a side of ice cream?
Anne: For me, a birthday cake has to be chocolate. I do enjoy other kinds of cakes, but chocolate is my all time fave. Served with whipped cream.
Julie Anne: Chocolate!! Deep dark layered chocolate with a sinfully rich ganache. Or chocolate with raspberry filling. I won’t turn up my nose at German chocolate. And ice cream—vanilla bean!—is always welcome.
Tessa: My favorite is German Chocolate, too! What are the chances? As for the ice cream... I won't turn it down, but I've got to admit--for me, the cake is always the main attraction.
Sarah: Red Velvet for me…cupcakes if you have them! And yes. I'm a purist. Who needs ice cream when there's all that cake to eat?
Manda: I like a lot of variety. One year I'll want a traditional yellow cake with chocolate icing, and the next year I'll want Italian cream cake. Just depends on my mood and how adventurous I'm feeling. I am a cake purist. I like to eat cake, or ice cream, but I don't really care for them at the same time. Unless it's an ice-cream dependent dessert like a blondie or an ice cream sandwich.
PJ: So we've determined this week that I'm feeling pretty good about being here to celebrate my milestone birthday. How do y'all feel about milestone birthdays? Do you dread them, tolerate them with stoic acceptance or approach them with enthusiasm for the adventures that await you?
Manda: You know, I'm not too freaked out by them. At least, I wasn't about 30. I've got the big 4-0 coming up in the next several years and I'm not super psyched about it. But I'm not down in the dumps about it either. I prefer to think of birthdays as a good thing--proof that I've made it through another year. And I wouldn't want to trade in any of my years. Otherwise I might not be where I am today.
Julie Anne: I kind of like to think of every birthday as a milestone—it means I’ve made it through another year! I’ve never really set goals for myself based on my age, and though I suppose I’m conscious of getting older, I don’t necessarily want to be younger again. I love knowing what I know now.. The birthdays ending in “0” provide an *excellent* excuse for a big party, however, and for that reason they are ALWAYS welcome.
Sarah: While I've only celebrated 30 (which I leaned into with gusto, sure my 30s would be better than my 20s), I can say that I don't enjoy a) not being carded for alcohol, b) being called ma'am, and c) realizing I am definitely too old for that shade of eyeshadow. So, I'm guessing I won't enjoy the milestones, but I shall pretend to accept them.
Anne: I remember being very edgy and in-denial about my thirtieth birthday. I had a big party/barbecue at my place (my birthday is in summer) but I didn't tell people it was my birthday, and told everyone it was an "end of summer holidays" party. I swore my friends to secrecy, but one friend brought a birthday cake with candles and all. I blew out the candles in the bedroom, then took them off and brought the cake out. LOL For my fortieth, though, it didn't bother me at all. Weird.
Tessa: My most recent milestone birthday was the big 3-0, and turning 30 was the best thing that ever happened to me. I'd always enjoyed writing as a hobby, but the year I turned 30 was the year it just all clicked for me. My romance career was born that year. (So was my son!)
PJ: As I mentioned earlier, I share my birthday with the fabulous Julie Anne Long. Do you share your birthday with any famous people or notable events?
Tessa: The Berlin Wall came down on my birthday. I'll always remember watching the jubilation on TV. And I have two good friends (both writers) who share my birthday!
Sarah: The Wright Brothers flew their first flight at Kitty Hawk on my birthday. That's kind of neat. It would be neater, I imagine, if I weren't deathly afraid of flying…but I'll take it.
Manda: Well, Alexander Hamilton, whom I've often considered our nation's sexiest founding father--come on, tell me he's not totally smokin'--shares my birthday, so that's pretty cool. I also share my birthday with Diana Gabaldon. So an eighteenth century hottie, and the creator of Jamie Fraser. Not too shabby.
Anne: Fay Dunaway, Albert Schweitzer and Benedict Arnold -- take your pick.
Julie Anne: I have the extraordinary good fortune to share my birthday with a certain PJ Ausdenmore. ;) What more evidence do we need that September 20th rocks? So me, Sophia Loren, PJ, Upton Sinclair…anybody else? Stephen King’s birthday is tomorrow. ;)
PJ: What's going on in your lives these days? Any news you'd like to share with our readers?
PJ: I'm counting down the days too! :)
Manda: Well, as you've probably heard, my first book How to Dance with a Duke will be released on January 31, 2012 by St. Martin's Press. It's the first in a trilogy about three wallflower cousins who have been dubbed Ugly Ducklings by the toast of the London Season. In Book 1, Cecily Hurston and Lucas Dalton, the Duke of Winterson, must join forces to infiltrate the mysterious Egyptian Explorer's Club which was founded by Cecily's father. Lucas wants to know what happened to his brother, who disappeared on expedition with Lord Hurston. Cecily wants to prove that her father had nothing to do with it. Of course there will be danger, adventure and romance. And kissing. And sexytimes.
PJ: Manda, I'm so excited about your upcoming debut. Can't wait to read it!
Anne: I have a new book coming out in January, Bride by Mistake, the last of the DevilRiders series, Marcus's story. Then a new series, which I think is going to be lots of fun.
PJ: I have so enjoyed this series. Looking forward to January and Bride by Mistake!
Sarah: I'm deep in the second book of my Rules of Scoundrels series, which launches February 27, 2012 with A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME. This series is connected by its heroes, and boy do I love these men…they're so dark and wicked…they're teaching me a few things!
PJ: Another reason to be excited about February! Can't wait for your new series, Sarah!
Tessa: Well, I've been celebrating the release of A NIGHT TO SURRENDER this month. And of course, I'm so proud that the book is part of Avon's KISS and Teal campaign to spread awareness of ovarian cancer signs and symptoms. More information can be found at www.KISSandTeal.com and http://www.ovariancancer.org/
PJ: A Night to Surrender is such a wonderful story! I loved it!
PJ: Work schedules, writing deadlines and the dreaded jury duty kept Christina and Eloisa from having the time to answer my birthday questions but both sent along a note and great giveaways for our readers. Thanks, Christina and Eloisa!
Christina: Happy birthday! It's 30, right? (PJ says, "I like the way this woman thinks!")
Revenge at Bella Terra, the second book in Christina's new romantic suspense series was released September 6th.
Eloisa: Dear Birthday Girl (and friends), I have some exciting news! When I was at the beach this summer, I started dreaming up a story about a wallflower, stuck on the side of the ballroom because she was just too tall and no one wanted to dance with her. Then she suddenly inherits a fortune... It's really fun! It will probably come out as an e-novella only in December--my holiday gift!--and then be published in paper thereafter. I'm trying to save up enough novellas so that we can actually make a book of them. This one will join Storming the Castle. Happy Birthday, Patty! hugs, Eloisa
PJ: Thank you for the lovely birthday wishes, Eloisa and for the news about your December novella. What a terrific Christmas gift!
Thanks everybody, for celebrating my birthday with me this week. I've had a wonderful time partying with all of you and am tickled pink to have shared the celebration with all my special guests and especially with today's Guest of Honor, my birthday buddy, Julie Anne Long. Happy Birthday, Julie!
Tell me readers, if you could choose anyone, dead or alive, who would be on the guest list for your birthday party? We have some great presents to give away today so let's get those comments posted!
A signed copy of A Kiss at Midnight and When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Signed copy of Storm of Shadows, Dangerous Ladies and Some Enchanted Evening by Christina Dodd
A signed copy of A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
A signed copy of Heartbreak Creek by Kaki Warner
A signed copy of Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
A package of signed books and other goodies from PJ's RWA Conference stash
from my fellow September 20th birthday buddy, Julie Anne Long:
A complete signed set of her entire Pennyroyal Green series!