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Monday, January 23, 2012

Brunch and Tea with the Royalty of Romance

Earlier this month, one of our regulars, fsbuchler, had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with five terrific authors and has graciously agreed to share her experience with all of us.  Thank you, Flora! 

BRUNCH AND TEA WITH THE ROYALTY OF ROMANCE
by fsbuchler


Last month I stumbled upon an announcement on Eloisa James’ Facebook Fan Page.
 
An Affair to Remember: An Afternoon of Romance
“Meet Eloisa and Friends!”
Tea and conversation with bestselling romance authors.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
1:00--4:00 PM
University Book Store
Bellevue, Washington
 
Meeting Eloisa James would have been enough for me.  Meeting her and her friends took the event into a whole new dimension because Eloisa’s “friends” turned out to be:
 
Connie Brockway, Christina Dodd, Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn
                                                                  


The Royalty of Romance! The Fabulous Five together in one place for three hours!! The magic ticket cost five dollars which would be applied to the purchase of any book and then you could have it autographed as well; could it get any better?This was an event not to be missed!
 
Only one tiny problem, I live in Southern California .
 
Did I mention that I have a Darling of a husband?  His name is George and we’ve been married almost 34 years. I think he still loves me a little because He Made It Happen!  Plane tickets, hotel accommodations, restaurant reservations; he even convinced our only child, William, age 24, to come along. I normally celebrate my birthday in March; this year we had my party a little earlier and in Bellevue, Washington ! 

 
 


We had met Eloisa, Connie, and PJ previously at the RWA 2011 Conference in New York last summer; another thoughtful gift from my husband. All of them kindly accepted invitations to join us for breakfast while we were in town. I didn’t think that this kind of luck could strike twice, but I gave it a try anyway.  I emailed Eloisa and Connie to see if we could meet with them again and even asked them to include their “Friends” in our invitation for brunch on the morning of the event.  I was speechless when I found out that they had ALL accepted the invitation!  It’s going to be very difficult to have a birthday as good as this one next year.
 
We met at a small bistro just around the corner from The University Book Store to make it convenient for everyone.  There were hugs and introductions all around with Connie and Eloisa making sure everyone knew everybody. Christina Dodd’s lovely daughter, Arwen, was able to join us for the day; she and William are responsible for taking most of the pictures in this blog.  Also attending was Franzeca Drouin who is one of Eloisa’s wonderful assistants.

From 10:30 AM to 12:30PM the time flew by in a laughter filled opportunity to get to know each other. Since there were ten of us, Eloisa started an informal game of “Musical Authors” with everyone changing seats from time to time so that we all had a chance to speak with one another.  It was a brilliant idea!
 
The Author’s Tea began at 1:00 PM; the manager of the University Book Store, Becky, (and Amy) had the room beautifully prepared for the event with a circular seating area so that every one there could have a good view.  They also had traditional English Tea and goodies like finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, chocolate truffles arranged beautifully around the circle. Yum! 
 
Eloisa and Julia Quinn were the first to arrive at the sold out event. The seating area was packed.  However, there was no sight of Connie, Christina or Lisa for the first twenty minutes.  They had gone to the wrong University Book Store!  Eloisa and Julia just took charge and started speaking and taking questions until the others arrived to cheers and laughter from the audience. 
 
The latecomers didn’t miss a beat in joining the discussion.  They all took turns speaking about their writing careers, favorite books and characters, how and why they came to write Romance, what their husbands think of them writing and many other fascinating topics.  One thing they all agreed on was their children’s and husband’s concerns about being cast as characters in their novels. The Husband Concerns were generally about the love scenes in those books.  Eloisa said that her spouse was especially concerned with the fact that in her first book “Potent Pleasures” the Hero is named Alexander (her husband’s name is Alessandro) and he, the hero, is assumed to be impotent!  If you have read the book you know that Alexander is not impotent and Eloisa assured us that neither is Alessandro!
 
Each author spoke a little about their current or upcoming releases.  Christina Dodd talked about her and her husband’s mutual interest and love of fine wines, which was the inspiration for her current “Bella Terra” series.  The first two books in the series are already out and the third, “Betrayal,” will be released in April.
 
Connie Brockway discussed her decision to write eBooks and the evolution from there to her association with Amazon’s Montlake Romance. She is their Launch Author with the eBook “The Other Guy’s Bride," which is now also available in print.  I had the pleasure of meeting two of her Montlake representatives, Jessica and Kelli.   They are taking very good care of her and she deserves it!
 
Julia Quinn and I found a connection through her uncle who lives close to my home in California. Small World isn’t it?  She brought beautiful Cover flats from her newest book, “A Night Like This.”  It’s the second book in the Smythe-Smith series and will be released on May 29th.   
 
Lisa Kleypas is an unbelievably beautiful woman, inside and out!  She was incredibly sweet to us.  I am a member of her “Lisa’s Divas” group and when she heard that, she had to have a picture of us posed back to back like the Beauty Queen she is!  Lisa has a new book, “ Rainshadow Road ” coming out on February 28th.  (Read PJ's review here)  It is the first book of a new contemporary trilogy. However she also reassured the audience that she will continue to write Historical Romance!
 
Eloisa James is one of the most amazing women I know.  I have no idea how she teaches Shakespeare and English Literature full time at Fordham University , is a wife and mother of two and a remarkable writer all in one!  Just last month she released the novella “Winning the Wallflower” and the latest in her take on classic fairy tales, “The Duke is Mine.” She has also just finished the next book in the series, “The Ugly Duchess,” and her memoir “ Paris in Love” is due for early release on April 3rd.  April in Paris ; what could be lovelier!
 
Eloisa, Connie, Christina, Julia, Lisa, and my family, there are not enough words to express my thanks for this wonderful day!

~Flora

Thanks, Flora for taking us along on your wonderful afternoon.  Readers, if you had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with five authors, who would you choose and why?  Flora is giving away a signed copy of Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's blog!

~PJ

58 comments:

  1. What a pleasure it is to meet you, Flora and WHY didn't I meet you in NYC? Great recap of your adventures with the FAB FIVE! What an amazing group of writers. I adore them all.

    I don't know what I'm more jealous of...your having brunch with the ladies, attending a standing room only event with them or having such a great husband. Do you rent him out? Has he written a handbook on how to be a fantastic hubby? ;)

    Thanks for sharing your day with us!

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  2. It looks like a great event. I would pick five of my favorite authors just to thank them for all the wonderful hours of enjoyment their books brought. I think I would pick Lisa Kleypas, Loretta Chase, Meredith Duran, Julie James and Carla Kelly although I have a lot more favorites.

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  3. I was there with you and would adore the book. Wonderful recap of the tea!

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  4. What a fun day! Your hubby is awesome. I love Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Lisa Kleypas, and I need to read more Christina Dodd and Connie Brockway because they sound wonderful.
    -Emily

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  5. Wow, what a fabulous opportunity! So glad you had a great time! :) I've met Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas before and they certainly are wonderful.

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  6. What a wonderfully detailed recap, Flora! Thanks for sharing. I'm glad that five of my favorite authors are as fab in RL as they are online. And your DH is definitely a keeper. :)

    I don't think I could possibly choose five favorite authors. I'd probably struggle limiting my list to twenty-five, but Christina, Connie, Eloisa, Julia, and Lisa would certainly be on my list.

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  7. I don't know what I'm more jealous of...your having brunch with the ladies, attending a standing room only event with them or having such a great husband.

    I know how you feel, Santa! I've had the pleasure of meeting Flora's husband and he is indeed a treasure!

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  8. What a wonderful surprise from your husband! I've had the pleasure of meeting Eloisa a couple of times and she is lovely. So glad you had a fantastic birthday!

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  9. Maureen said, I think I would pick Lisa Kleypas, Loretta Chase, Meredith Duran, Julie James and Carla Kelly although I have a lot more favorites.

    Maureen, I've had the pleasure of sharing a meal with Lisa, Meredith and Julie. They are all lovely and I have no doubt would keep you delightfully entertained!

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  10. Lisa, thanks for stopping by! What was your favorite part of the Tea? Had you met any of the authors before?

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  11. Tom, Emily, Brenna said, I need to read more Christina Dodd and Connie Brockway because they sound wonderful.

    Christina and Connie are wonderful! Not just terrific people but talented writers as well. They both have books on my keeper shelves.

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  12. Trisha said, I've met Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas before and they certainly are wonderful.

    Trisha, have you marked your calender for this year's Moonlight and Magnolias Conference? It will be so exciting to welcome Julia Quinn to our "neighborhood" as this year's keynote speaker!

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  13. Janga said, I don't think I could possibly choose five favorite authors. I'd probably struggle limiting my list to twenty-five, but Christina, Connie, Eloisa, Julia, and Lisa would certainly be on my list.

    I know how you feel, Janga. I'd need to rent a ballroom and spend the night circulating. ;-)

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  14. Kellie Kamryn said, I've had the pleasure of meeting Eloisa a couple of times and she is lovely.

    Ditto! :)

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  15. Wow Flora!
    What an amazing experience! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. If I could pick five authors to spend an afternoon with, it'd be Lisa Kleypas, Julie James, Katharine Ashe, Tessa Dare, Maya Rodale. And the next afternoon would be another group of five and so and so on until I meet them all. ;)

    I had the opportunity to meet Eloia for the first time at the NJRW conference a few years back, and she very generously and graciously treated a group of BBers to dinner after the event, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend. It was a real treat to get to meet and and talk with her. And she was kind enough to sign the books I had brought from home! :)

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  17. Sounds like a really wonderful event:)

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  18. What a delightful tea. I would enjoy meeting jacqueline winspear, jennifer donnelly, mary doria russell, Adriana Trigiani and kate Morton.

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  19. Flora, what a wonderful blog, Flora! Oh, how I wish I had been there. Your husband is a gem---what a sweet thing for him to have done that for you.

    I don't know if I could possibly choose just five authors. I have had the pleasure of meeting all of the wonderful women you were with, except Connie. They are all just fabulous!

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  20. WONDERFUL, Flora. I feel like I was there. You have obviously chosen your author idols well (you've chosen the same ones I've chosen, after all).

    Next time I'm coming too. I want to meet my friend with flawless taste!

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  21. What a fabulous day, I would love to have a day like that. I think I would choose Lisa Kleypas, Kaki Warner, Jodi Thomas, Elizabeth Hoyt, Eloisa James although there are a lot more I would love to have brunch with.

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  22. Congrats Flora, on your trip and wonderful husband. They are the Fab Five Authors I wound like to meet but it would be the Sensational Six bcuz you would be included. Thanks for the review.

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  23. Wow, what a great birthday. You are a Lucky Duck Flora.

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  24. It was a great event in Seattle, all five authors are incredibly warm and friendly people. I'm sure brunch was a complete treat, I would have loved a few more hours to chat with them all. I would be hard pressed to change the list from these great five. If I could go back in time, I'd add Georgette Heyer and Victoria Holt. Otherwise today I'd stretch the list to 7 instead of 5, and I would add Jane Porter (love her, such a fun lady to meet up with) and Stephanie Laurens.
    Thanks for sharing your photos!

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  25. Sounds like fabulous experience, Flora. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the pictures!!

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  26. Flora, what an amazing blog (and an amazing husband you have)! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I'm thrilled that you were able to attend and that you all had a great time together. And kudos to your son for taking so many lovely pictures! :)

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  27. I am jealous! I had the pleasure last year of meeting Julia Quinn at a book signing and it was definitely a highlight for me as she is one of my favorite authors. Unfortunately none of the other Fab Five have had any appearances scheduled in my neck of the woods. :(

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  28. Flora, what a wonderful treat for you!
    I would like to have lunch with Julia Quinn, Sarah Sundin, Sara Lindsey, Sarah MacLean, Debbie Macomber, and many more! Thank you for sharing today about your day!

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  29. What a wonderful husband you have. Your son is pretty neat too. My 20 something son wouldn't go anywhere near anything to do with romance. This is a great group of authors. Favorites all. I would add Julie Garwood, Strephanie Laurens, and Robyn Carr.
    There are many more I would love to meet, but they are first on my list.
    I am glad you had such a great day.

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  30. Some wonderful choices. I'm going to choose Neil Gaiman, Larry McMurtry, Karen Ranney, Eloisa James & Julia Quinn.

    Neil Gaiman because my daughter got me hooked on his work. Larry McMurtry because he wrote LONESOME DOVE, my favourite book, & the ladies because I LOVE their work.

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  31. How wonderful to have at least been a fly on the wall so I could say I was with you gals. That must have been so much fun and I'm jealous!! Love the pictures and thanks so much for sharing.

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  32. @ Santa, I had not met you on FB yet when we went to RWA/NYC last summer. I only knew you through your posts on certain mutual friends walls. You can bet I would have made plans to get together it I'd known you then!

    My DH is really a charmer, sorry I won't share, but he is getting a big kick out of all the positive comments here!

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  33. @ Maureen, It was amazing! Your author picks are terrific,too!

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  34. Hi Lisa, it truly was An Affair to Remember! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Good luck in the giveaway.

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  35. @ Tom, Emily, Brenna: I couldn't agree with you more. I think you'll really enjoy reading Connie Brockway and Christina Dodd.

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  36. Trisha, they ARE terrific! As ar the rest of these authors. It constantly amazes me how friendly and approachable and real they all are!

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  37. Hi Janga, I feel exactly the same; there are so many wonderful authors I would pick as well! And these five would always be at the top of any list I could make. Also, as you say, they are as nice in real life as well as how they come across in their writing.

    I'd like to say Thank You again for your advice on how to approach writing the blog. Just being myself as you suggested was a simple yet brilliant approach!

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  38. @ Kelli, thank you so much! Eloisa is wonderful in print and in person! My DH is priceless and he is loving all the comments about him!

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  39. Pj, When/where is the M&M Conference this year? I tried to make it last year, but just could not make it happen. Maybe this year!

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  40. @ Lisa: You said "Wow Flora" I have to "Wow" you right back; It sounds like you had a terrific experience with Eloisa! I love your idea about meeting five of your favorite authors one day at a time day after day! That would be a dream come true for me as well! Humm; I wonder how many days that would take? LOL!

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  41. @ Lisa: You said "Wow Flora" I have to "Wow" you right back; It sounds like you had a terrific experience with Eloisa! I love your idea about meeting five of your favorite authors one day at a time day after day! That would be a dream come true for me as well! Humm; I wonder how many days that would take? LOL!

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  42. To: Marie and Traveler, Yes it really was an amazing experience and I'm having so much fun sharing it with you all. Good luck in the book giveaway!

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  43. Thank you so much Gannon. I'm glad you liked it, and coming from you, as one of the regular Dishes, I take your words as a true compliment! Connie is terrific and I hope you get to meet her sometime soon. As for George, he is just lapping up all of this praise! He deserves it.

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  44. Oh! Thank you, Julianne! I wish you could have been there to enjoy it with us, my friend. We have to work on meeting and making this happen, and soon.

    Hugs,

    Flora

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  45. @ Virginia, I hope you get a chance like this,too! And I love your choice of author's as well

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  46. Hey, Rhonda! That is such a sweet thought and I would like to have it happen as well. I'm glad you read the review and wish you good luck on winning the book!

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  47. Thank You, Dianna, it was a really a dream birthday present! I truly am a Lucky Duck and I do not take it for granted; I have a wonderful loving family.

    PS. Last November I also became a member of Eloisa's and Linda Francis Lee's "Lucky Duck'Club, too!

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  48. @SharonA: It was wonderful, was it not, Sharon! I'm sorry we did not have a chance to meet; I would have loved to talk with you there. You additional choices for your brunch are just Inspired! I'd like to have the ghost of Jane Austen there, too.

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  49. Hi Buffie and Andrea,
    Yes, it was a wonderful experience and I'm so glad that I was given the chance to share it all with you here. Thank you for inviting me and I'm so happy that you like what I wrote!
    William did take some great pictures, but he cannot take all the credit. Arwen, Christina Dodd's daughter, took some amazing pictures as well and let me use them for the blog.

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  50. Hi Deb,
    It really was an incredible treat! I think your author choices are wonderful!

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  51. @ Jedi Mamma, Isn't Julia Quinn terrific? I know just what you mean about not having more opportunities to meet favorite authors. I live in Los Angeles County and you'd think that a city this big would attract more appearences and booksignings. That's why I have had to go where they are!

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  52. Hi Library Pat,
    Thank you for your kind words. I always read your comments on The Dish. You have wonderful insights in your posts; I look forward to reading them.
    I am very appreciative of my terrific son and loving, generous husband. When we were making plans for this trip,(They handled everything)I told my son that meeting these authors and having them accept our invitation, was for me akin to him meeting some his favorite sports figures. I think that was what made him see it from my perspcetive. I can honestly say that he enjoyed the time he spent with all of us.

    I think your author picks are great. I also love Stepanie Laurens,she would definetly be on my dream list,too. I had the chance to meet her last year in New York at an Avon Tea at the RWA Conference. She is absolutely amazing and very "real." She spoke about the changes in social mores between the Georgian and Regency eras and how this impacts and influences writers in the choices they make in writing about those different eras.
    Good luck with the giveaway.

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  53. Hi Marybelle, those are some excellent choices! You and Your daughter have excellent taste in writers! Good luck in the giveaway.

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  54. Hi Connie, I love that expression about being a fly on the wall! But if you had been there I would have invited you to join us in human form, LOL!

    I'm happy that you enjoyed the blog and pictures.

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  55. Thank you to all who responded to my guest blog. I hope you enjoyed it and have a chance to experience for yourselves someday a spectacular event such as this one with your own favorite authors.

    My special thanks as well to PJ and the rest of The Romance Dishes for giving me this opportunity, and making me stretch a little out of my comfort zone!

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  56. Thank you to all who responded to my guest blog. I hope you enjoyed it and have a chance to experience for yourselves someday a spectacular event such as this one with your own favorite authors.

    My special thanks as well to PJ and the rest of The Romance Dishes for giving me this opportunity, and making me stretch a little out of my comfort zone!

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  57. i'm late because celebrated chinese new year

    so happy for you Flora, can meet with all fabolous author ;)

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  58. Thank You Eli!

    Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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