A Day Out In Atlanta!

Downtown Atlanta at Night

Oh, Atlanta. City of humidity and grits. Of peaches and thunderstorms. How I do love thee.

Last week I told you all about the RWA Nationals Conference, so this week I’m sharing a bit of what we did when we weren’t at workshops or the bar. If you missed that post, click here to catch up!

Frankly my dear...

Frankly my dear…

You might say our day out was mostly about Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind. Honestly, I had no idea how much Atlanta loves this woman and the book/movie. I remember watching the movie a long time ago, but not much else. Seeing the props and costumes made me want to see it again, so I got it on Netflix and sat down for all four hours of it. I’m pretty sure when I watched it the first time (probably 20 years ago), I stopped at the intermission because I didn’t remember any of Atlanta with Rhett and Scarlett being married! I thought it ended with Scarlett vowing to never be hungry again. Oops.

Kate ~ GWTW MuseumScarlett ~ Green DressTara

We visited a cool little museum called The Road To Tara. There were so many great items packed into this little train depot. It was as good as, if not better, than Margaret Mitchell’s House!

After the little museum, we got hungry and ate at this shack of a place called Dean’s BBQ. It was recommended to us by the museum lady and damn! This was one good BBQ place. Don’t let the looks fool you. If you’re ever in Jonesboro, head out past the gravel place and look for Dean’s on your left. You’ll be glad you did.

Dean's BBQ Shack

After BBQ, we went to Stately Oaks Plantation. If you ask me, Tara looks an awful lot like this plantation home. The closest Margaret Mitchell got to the place was the fireplace, though. Her great grandfather helped build it. We couldn’t take any pictures inside the house, but the grounds provided loads of photo ops.

Stately Oaks Plantation HouseStately Oaks ~ Fireplace

We also went to Margaret Mitchell’s House in Atlanta. It was cool to see the original door from Tara, as well as the portrait of Scarlett in the blue gown that hangs in her and Rhett’s home in the movie. I think what surprised me most was how tiny Mitchell’s home was! The kitchen is about the size of my guest bathroom. Which isn’t big at all. No photos were allowed inside the apartment, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Margaret Mitchell HouseMargaret Mitchell House ~ Scarlett Blue Portrait

The original doorway to Tara ~ Margaret Mitchell's House.

The original doorway to Tara ~ Margaret Mitchell’s House.

Having our fill of all things Margaret Mitchell, we ventured out to a creepy old cemetery ~ Oakland Cemetery to be exact. This place is fabulous. Some of the graves date back several hundred years. I could’ve stayed there all day, but it was way too hot and humid for this Southern California girl. I wilted within twenty minutes. Yeah, I’m a total wimp. I own that. 🙂

Oakland CemeteryOakland Cemetery ~ Grave StructureOakland Cemetery ~ Raised Bed

You can see more of the pictures I took in Atlanta on my Pinterest board here. As always, feel free to repin or swipe any you enjoy.

In all, I loved Atlanta. The people there are so freaking nice. And the food! Oh my. Diet wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary the entire week. I had a food bucket list and checked everything off: grits, peaches, fried green tomatoes, greens, BBQ, and chicken and waffles. My breakfast at The Flying Biscuit was so good, I took Barbara, Patricia, and Kate back there for more! The grits were luscious. Mmmm, and the biscuits and gravy? To die for. I think I need to head back to Atlanta just for some more Southern hospitality!

Where’s someplace you’ve been that you want to return for either the food or the people? Have you ever been to Atlanta? What did I miss (I need to know for my next visit!)?

I adore traveling ~ where do I NEED to go next?

***Next week I’ll have the top five (or ten) dragon names for the final voting! If you haven’t picked your favorite name, do it now! The winning name will be announced when the website goes live mid-August. Thanks again for playing along.

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A Day Out In Dallas!

As you know, last weekend I attended the DFW Writer’s Conference ~ if you didn’t know, then you can catch up here ~ well, before the conference started, Debra Kristi and I had a day to play. Here’s what we did.

First, we had to get some much needed caffeine, so we followed the not-so-easy to understand directions the really nice guy at the hotel gave us and found a Starbucks. Trust me, when he says, “It’s just under the freeway to the left”, and there’s a crapton of construction going on, it’s NOT just under the freeway to the left. Or maybe it was, but we took a detour through another county to find it, but find it we did! And look who wanted to be in the picture. Sweet, right? I think he wanted my chai tea, but I wasn’t about to share.

Crow at Starbucks

After we (finally) got caffeinated, we headed off to find Gloria Richard. She told me about this great store called Sassy Flamingo. I’ll be honest, I thought it might be a shop for gay cowboys, but Gloria assured me I’d find all sorts of fabulous things there. She was so right!

I don't even know what these are, but they sure are shiny!

I don’t even know what these are, but they sure are shiny!

I didn't get a hat or boots, but I got something better.

I didn’t get a hat or boots, but I got something better.

Gloria and Debra at Sassy Flamingo

After laughing our guts out trying on outrageous things at Sassy’s, Debra and I scooted to the airport to pick up Melinda VanLone and head straight for downtown Dallas when what do my wandering eyes see, but the Fake Louvre! Yes, you read that right! From between buildings I spotted a Fake Louvre and knew we had to see it, but how? Where?

Alas, the Fake Louvre would have to wait. First we did the JFK tour where we saw the Book Repository, grassy knoll, and road where JFK was shot. I’m not going to lie, it was creepy. Especially when some guy pointed out the X’s on the road marking the exact spot where JFK was when shot. I didn’t like that. Not at all.

Being that close to history, though, was interesting. Being in the same place where something world altering happened, it was powerful.

The Book Repository

The Book Repository

The Grassy Knoll

The Grassy Knoll

Our tour of downtown (and my secret search for the Fake Louvre) led us to some interesting buildings. There was a bizarre cowgirl sculpture atop one building ~ I didn’t get a very good angle on it, but it will be on the Pinterest board when I get it up later ~ and many glass buildings. I loved the play of the clouds across the glass like with this one.

I loved the mix of old and new buildings downtown.

I loved the mix of old and new buildings downtown.

I finally asked a few nice men if they knew of the Fake Louvre and they pointed us in the right direction! Guess what? It’s a cafeteria. What a letdown! Here it is… the Fake Louvre:

The fake LouvreWe then ambled down toward the Old Red Courthouse where they used to hang people, so you know it’s got to be haunted. It’s a great building with gargoyles!

The Old Red Courthouse

Gargoyles!

Gargoyles!

After cruising downtown, we headed out to a little town called Addison where my friend Sydney Aaliyah had blogged about this super cool park that had poetry engraved in the steps. After reading her post, I knew I wanted to visit the park. There wasn’t any water when we were there, but it was just as magical as Sydney described.

Celestial Park

That's Debra in the far background.

That’s Debra in the far background.

Melinda investigating the many wonders of the park.

Melinda investigating the many wonders of the park.

We had an amazing day tour of Dallas. From touching history through one madman’s actions to reading (not quite so mad) men and women’s literary achievements etched in stone, it was a day that will stay in my memories for many years to come.

When you travel, what are you favorite places to visit? Do you stay off the beaten path, or do you like to do the touristy stuff? My next conference is in Atlanta and I’ll have a day to explore while there ~ do you have any ‘must sees’ for me? Please share! I love to explore and learn.

And finally… my favorite purchase from Sassy Flamingo:

They are ridiculously comfortable!

They are ridiculously comfortable!

A Special Treat: Essence of a Woman by Julie Catherine Vigna

I hope you all were able to stop by August McLaughlin’s blog last week to read the many inspiring, funny, and empowering stories women and men posted on The Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. If not, then hop on over there after you read today’s post.

bf895d6f9121c994001ff5b30ab3da7bA few weeks ago, the immensely talented and beautiful Julie Catherine Vigna posted a poem on her blog that fits with the BOAW blogfest so well, I asked her if I could reprint it here for you to enjoy. I’m thrilled she said yes! This poem speaks to all women, tall short, skinny or not, white, brown, and everywhere in between.

So without further ado, here is Julie Catherine’s poem, Essence of a Woman.

Essence of Woman

I AM the essence of woman
Daughter of Time; born of
Gods and goddesses,
Child of earth and sea
Mother of every nation
Sister to the evening sky
Wife, lover and friend.

I AM all colours, of all nations
All cultures, multi-generational
And multi-faceted; I AM of
The past, present and future—
Yours, mine and of all creation
Keeper of the living and the dead
Holder of memories and dreams.

I AM your agony and your ecstasy
Bearer of standard and sword
Bestower of life and death
I am your fantasy, your nightmare
and your reality —
The tapestry of every dream
I am Madonna and Lolita.

I AM the woman with no voice
No rights, no choice, no vote—
Who works your sweatshops
And in rice fields; in camps
I ply my bitter trade, as the
Village dust swallows my
Faith, strangles my words.

I AM shamed to silence
Beaten on the sands of whim
Violated in body and soul
Then forced to wed my rapist
Babies ripped from my womb
And yet crucified because
Of their very existence.

I AM the slave and the harlot
The despised and the cast-off
The mutilated and diseased
Segregated and displaced
For the sake of possession
And in the name of honour.

I AM warrior and defender
Of hearts and souls; hope for
All the children of earth—
I AM the heart of nature
Protector of every living soul
And all who desire to become
One with their life’s journey.

I AM what we have made me
Yet, in spite of all that, I AM
What I have made of myself
Also, in my breath and my body
As man’s wars rage on and my
Spirit clings to hope, to love,
I AM — the essence of woman.

© Julie Catherine Vigna / J C Edwards, 2013
Signature poem for the Essence of Woman Collection

15829037-1Isn’t that lovely? You can find Julie Catherine on her blog here where she shares her poetry and artwork. The book, Poems of Living, Loving, and Lore, by JC Edwards is available in print and digitally from Amazon here.

I’m honored Julie Catherine let me share this poem with you today.

Is there a poem that touches your heart? Do you write poetry? If so, would you be willing to post something in the comments?

Poetry is our heart singing in tune with the universe. Don’t you think so?

Today’s Gift ~ Jillian Stone With Some Historical Sexy Fun!

We’re mixing it up a bit today. Instead of a quick interview with Jillian, I’m going to save that for later. I’ll be having drinks with her in January, so I figure that would be a great time to ask her a bunch of oddball questions, don’t you agree? 🙂

That means we have more time her fabulous books! Jillian has two series out right now that have me riveted. The first book I read was The Seduction of Phaeton Black. I have to say, I first saw this book at RWA Nationals and loved the cover, but didn’t pick it up. Then, I saw it again at my San Diego RWA meeting and decided what the heck, I’d give it a go.

I couldn’t put the book down. I fully admit that I’ve got a crush on Phaeton. This book is sexy, spooky, a bit steampunky, and fun.

Imagine my delight and surprise when I went to the Orange County RWA meeting and the ‘Ask An Author’ author was Jillian! I swooned a little. More than a little, actually. I might of even went a little fangirl on her.

For some reason, she liked me and we started chatting. I still get giggly when I see her, but I try to keep it under control, ’cause I’m cool like that.

Here’s the Amazon blurb for The Seduction of Phaeton Black:

blog-o-nauts~~element376Phaeton Black is Scotland Yard’s secret weapon against things that go bump in the night. His gifts as a paranormal investigator are as legendary as his skills as a lover. But when he’s asked to hunt down a fanged femme fatale who drains her victims of blood, he walks right into the arms of the most dangerous woman he’s ever known…Miss America Jones is not the vampiric killer he’s been staking out – but she may be just what Phaeton needs to crack the case. As the daughter of a Cajun witch, she possesses uncanny powers. A fearless fighter, she can handle anything from Egyptian mummies to Jack the Ripper. But when an ancient evil is unleashed, she could be Phaeton’s only salvation…or ultimate sacrifice.

The second book in the series, The Moonstone and Miss Jones continues with Phaeton’s story and Jillian’s third book, The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter is coming out Summer of 2013. I can hardly wait. Dr. Exeter is my second favorite character after Phaeton. Be still my heart.

The second series Jillian has out is the Men of Scotland Yard. Yum, right? I just started reading the first book, An Affair With Mr. Kennedy and I’m loving it. Phaeton has more competition, I think!

Here’s the Amazon blurb for Kennedy:

Mr_Kennedy_darkLondon, 1887. Part stoic gentleman, part fearless Yard man, Zeno “Zak” Kennedy is an enigma of the first order. For years, the memory of a deadly bombing at King’s Cross has haunted the brilliant Scotland Yard detective. His investigation has zeroed in on a ring of aristocratic rebels whose bloody campaign for Irish revolution is terrorizing the city. When he discovers one of the treacherous lords is acquainted with his free-spirited new tenant, Cassandra St. Cloud, his inquiry pulls him unexpectedly close to the heart of the conspiracy—and into the arms of a most intriguing lady. Cassie is no Victorian prude. An impressionist painter with very modern ideas about life and love, she is eager for a romantic escapade that is daring and discreet. She sets her sights on her dour but handsome landlord, but after she learns their meeting was not purely accidental, she hardly has a chance to forgive her lover before their passionate affair catapults them both into a perilous adventure.

There are two more books in the Scotland Yard series, A Dangerous Liason with Detective Lewis and A Private Duel with Agent Gunn. I’ve got both on my nightstand ready to be devoured as soon as I’m done with Kennedy.

Check out Jillian’s website (it’s gorgeous!) to read all the juicy tidbits like, who Romantic Times Reviews cast as Mr. Kennedy, or which cover Eliza Dushku is on!

All of Jillian’s books are available in print or ebook on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound, Powell’s, or from my favorite local bookshop, Mysterious Galaxy.

contact~~element60Jillian Stone was born a storyteller. A skill that got her into considerable trouble as a youth until she solved the problem by becoming an advertising creative. And the career did seem to suit her as she won many national ad awards including the Clio and the New York Art Director’s Club Gold. What more could she ask for? Create her own worlds? Become goddess of her own universe? Yes! So, she began to write fiction. Her Victorian Romantic Suspense novel AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY won the 2010 Golden Heart and sold to Pocket Books. Her sexy, supernatural Steampunk novel, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, won the 2010 Romance Through The Ages Erotica category and sold to Kensington Brava. Jillian lives in California and is currently working on the next adventure for both series.

~~~ooOOoo~~~

That’s it for my pre-Christmas gifts, but be sure to tune in after Christmas for a few goodies to load up your new Nooks and Kindles. Until then, keep reading and keep it sexy!