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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RWA Nationals Wrap Up, Plus… Dragon Name Voting Begins!

teacup-dragon[color]

It’s here! The day of voting is finally here! You all gave amazing suggestions for lady teacup dragon’s name. Now it’s time to cast your vote. The poll will be open for two weeks. I’ll announce the name when the new website goes live on August 13th. I’m so excited!

Whew! That’s a lot of names for you to choose from. Thanks for helping name the dragon.

Now, onto RWA Nationals. What a week! Today’s post is all about the conference, next week I’ll post pictures and tell you about our day out in Atlanta.

Romance-Writers-of-America-2-300x49

RWA ~ Romance Writers of America is an amazing organization filled with writers at every stage of their career. From the super newbie who just decided to write a book, to the published icons like Nora Roberts. This year, I attended as a PRO member. What’s PRO? It’s RWA’s way of saying I’m serious about what I do. I’ve submitted my work to an industry professional (agent or editor), and am working toward a goal of being published. Kind of cool, right?

RWA National Conference is a whirlwind of learning, networking, stargazing, and laughing. Yes, laughing. I laughed so much last week I’m surprised I don’t have chiseled abs like the cover models on those romance novels I brought home.

Patricia Sands, Steena Holmes, Kate Wood, Elena Aitken, and Barbara McDowell. Love you.

Patricia Sands, Steena Holmes, Kate Wood, Elena Aitken, and Barbara McDowell. Love you.

What made the conference special for me this year was getting a chance to meet some amazing women I’ve known online for two years. We first met in Kristen Lamb’s online blogging class and since then they’ve become sisters to me. Barbara McDowell is my sister from a cooler mother, Patricia Sands is the wild older sister, Elena Aitken and Steena Holmes are the mischievous twins who look innocent, but always get others in trouble, and Kate Wood is the baby of the family. The one we tease mercilessly, but adore absolutely.

Added to this awesome family reunion was Tracey Livesey (whom I met last year at conference and am truly smitten with), Dara Lee Snow, Trish Loye Elliott, and Melinda VanLone (who I also met last year and roomed with in Dallas). Others filtered through, but this was the core group. They kept my happiness tank filled to overflowing all week.

Here we are looking amazing before the RITAs.

Here we are looking amazing before the RITAs.

Hanging out with my peeps was only part of the experience. Workshops were another reason I flew across ten states to Atlanta (technically it was nine, but our flight dipped over the corner of Tennessee, so I’m counting it). 🙂

My favorite workshops were, surprisingly enough, on self publishing. Craft classes were a close second. It amazed me how many self publishing options RWA had this year. It’s becoming clear that the industry is taking indie seriously, and that is a very good thing.

At the PRO retreat I was inspired by the contradictory workshops offered. In the beginning session, Courtney Milan made it known that she dislikes agents and traditional publishing. A great deal. She waxed poetic on the benefits of self publishing (she’s wildly successful, by the way), and encouraged us to take our careers into our own hands. Then, the next class featured Esi Sogah from Kensington Publishing. SHE espoused the virtues of traditional publishing. My head was spinning by the end of the retreat. In a very, very good way. I loved the differing points of view as it’s my belief a writer shouldn’t pick one way over another. Being a hybrid author, someone who is open to and involved with all forms of publishing, is where I believe an author’s success will thrive.

Along with amazing workshops, I had the opportunity to meet with an editor from Tor and two agents. All three requested material from me (YAY!!!). Part of the cool thing at Nationals is that you’re there with industry people, in formal settings like my pitches, and informal, like at the bar. Laura Bradford was cruising by, so I asked her to join us and she did. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that they’re just folks, too. If you see an agent or editor, don’t be afraid to ask them to sit with you. You never know, you just might make a friend.

Laura's the beautiful brunette in the center. To her side is Elena, and hiding behind the menu is the elusive Sara Fawkes.

Laura’s the beautiful brunette in the center. To her side is Elena, and hiding behind the menu is the elusive Sara Fawkes. Notice all the men in the background? There was a Microsoft conference there at the same time. They were thrilled to be surrounded by 2,000 women!

Next year, I’m implementing my Nora Roberts Drinking Game. Every time we see Nora, we have to do a shot. Hear her name? Shot. Seriously, we’ll be drunk the entire time. Nora is a goddess at the conference. She glides through the room without her feet ever touching the floor. I didn’t get any signed books from her this year (I don’t know why since I saw her at the signing), but I did see her plenty of times to make me a little verklempt.

Nora!

Nora!

The signings and goody room! Oh man. The signings are a book lovers dream. For real. You go into this room where tables upon tables are set up. Authors are there to sign books and, time permitting, to chat with you a little. It’s heaven. I didn’t bring home as many books as last year (86), only because I had to ship them. Yes, I was sad about this. I still managed to bring home far too many. As well as a ton of swag from the goody room. I don’t have an exact count on the books, or a picture of the swag because they are still on a FedEx truck waiting to be delivered to my house. 😦 Next week I’ll show you my loot.

The conference had two keynote speakers at lunch ~ Cathy Maxwell on Thursday and Kristin Higgins on Friday. Both women had excellent speeches that made us laugh, cry, and laugh some more. Their stories were inspirational, to say the least. I was sobbing like the romantic fool that I am.

Sylvia Day & Kristin Higgins

Sylvia Day & Kristin Higgins

Aside from the workshops, the swag, and the keynotes, there are parties. Each of my online chapters had a party ~ Celtic Hearts was kind enough to have theirs on Wednesday, but Thursday night was a scramble through the hotel to attend four, yes four! parties. We went from a Passionate Ink party (complete with spanking/kink demo), to Hearts Through History, over to the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal party. I ended the night at the Kiss of Death Death By Chocolate party. It was a whirlwind night, but so much fun!

RWA ~ Passionate Ink Kink Demo

Eden Bradley getting her kink on!

The FF&P table decorations. Cool, right?

The FF&P table decorations. Cool, right?

And finally, I can’t end my post without talking a little bit about the RITA Awards. These are the Oscars of romance writing. It’s a night filled with glittering gowns and golden statuettes. Christie Craig was the emcee and damn! She nailed it. Just enough humor and sass to make the evening unforgettable. I knew several of the finalists for the Golden Heart (the award for unpublished works. the RITA’s are for published books), and cheered a little too loud each time their names were read. They didn’t bring home the gold, but to me, they’re already winners. Congratulations to all of the Golden Heart and RITA finalists!

Even Superman got fancy for the RITA Awards.

Even Superman got fancy for the RITA Awards.

Next year the conference will be in San Antonio. I hope to see you there. Want more pictures of the conference? You can check out my Pinterest board! Just click here.

What’s been your favorite experience at a conference? Did you pitch? Was it terrifying or fun? What’s the one conference you’ll always attend?

We interrupt our regularly scheduled story…

Hey all!

I was thinking I’d have a new installment of Our Summer Adventure today and start the voting for the dragon name on Friday, but you know what?

I’m taking the week off! I’m going to be in Atlanta seeing creepy old cemeteries, plantations, Margaret Mitchell’s House, the CNN Center, Olympic Park, and a ton of other stuff. Oh, and I’ll be hanging with my WANA Sistas!

I’ll be eating shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, peach cobbler, and whatever else Atlanta has to offer.

In short, I’m going to fully immerse myself in all things Southern. You know I’ll have pictures for you when I get back! And a new installment of Our Summer Adventure. Hannah and Ethan will just have to wait to tell their stories. 😉 Wicked, I know.

I hope you all have a fabulous week and I’ll see you next Tuesday! Until then, be amazing.

Dragon Names! RWA Prep! Movies! It’s all here today…

Hey Everyone!

I’m wicked excited today. Why? Because the website is going to be up and running soon! That means all of you fabulous readers will have to re-subscribe to the blog (boo!), BUT you’re going to love the new place and I’ve got so many fun things to share with you once the site is fully operational. (Did any of you just hear that dude from Star Wars? Good to know I’m not alone in my geekery). 🙂

Laird has been working her sweet tail off to get the new website to look exactly how I want it. Think dragons and diamonds! Sparkles, castles, pink, yeah, it’s going to totally rock. I can’t wait for you all to see it.

Want a little teaser? This is the business card I had made up for Nationals…

2013 Tameri Etherton BIZ2

Awesome, amiright?

teacup-dragon[color]BUT FIRST! We need a name for our little teacup dragon. This will be the LAST week you can submit a name. Voting is going to start next Friday, so make sure you get your name in before then!

So far we have:

Blingaling         Annabelinda          Teodora           Mhegor             Twinkle            Isabela
Iremat              Jezebel                Tipsy            Earlie Grey       Darjeeling            Penelope
Blingling           Teavana               Pekoe
Larkspur          Zatima          Bob (short for Roberta)

What do you think she should be named? Add it to the list!

As most of you know, I’ll be in Atlanta next week for the RWA National Conference. Romance Writers of America puts on the best conference I’ve ever attended and I’m over the moon about going this year. Last year was my first time and, well, let’s just say I was woefully unprepared. This year? I’m on it.

If any of you feel overwhelmed like I did last year, here are some great links that will help ease your mind.

Angela Quarles has a bunch of posts about Nationals, and she has tips about the Marriott hotel, too. Check out this post for newbies and then make sure you read her other posts.

Are you pitching? Here are some great links for making the most of your pitch session. There are two from Angela, and another two from Laura Drake. Read them all. Trust me on this, it’ll ease your nerves!
Angela’s are here and here.
Laura’s posts are at Writers in the Storm here and here.

And lastly… packing. Ugh. That’s the bane of my travel existence. I always pack WAY too much. Well, Erin Knightley is here to save the day! And my back. You won’t believe how much she fits into one carryon, but since there’s a video to prove it, maybe you will. I’m in awe of Erin. Check out her blog here ~ make sure you watch the video. You too will be amazed!

The last bit of the blog today is about movies. Specifically, what’s your ‘Go To’ movie when you’re feeling down, or just want to escape for a bit?

Last weekend I went to see Much Ado About Nothing with my husband. I was psyched. Shakespeare, Joss Whedon, and my sweet Nathan? YES please!

But, well, I was underwhelmed.

So I went on Facebook and asked for recommendations of what I could watch that would erase the bad memories of the movie. As much as I wanted to love the movie, I didn’t, which put me into a funk. Hence, the question on FB.

The day before, I’d watched a super sweet movie called ‘The Magic of Belle Isle‘. My friend Kristy K James wrote a post about it and it intrigued me. Since it was available on Netflix streaming, I decided to give it a gander.

Well, I was smitten. More than smitten. I’m going to buy this movie to have on hand for those times I need a pick-me-up. Read Kristy’s blog here and let me know if you watch the movie if you love it as much as I did. Or, if you saw Much Ado, did you love it? Hate it? Were confused by it? I’d love to know either way.

I’ve given you loads to think about today! But don’t forget ~ I need dragon names and movie suggestions. I’ll be writing a future blog post about movies and need your help. Also, make sure you’re keeping up with the Summer Adventure story! Other than all that, I hope you have an amazing weekend. What will you be doing?

Guest Post ~ Gayle Carline Talks Horses

Hey everyone! Today I’m excited to turn my blog over to my gal pal Gayle Carline. She has a fabulous new book out that I was privileged enough to read before publication. It’s about a horse, and so much more.

Please join me in welcoming her to the blog today. Take it away, Gayle!

First of all, I want to thank Tameri for the opportunity to guest on her blog. I love her to pieces, and her blog posts are always so much fun, it’s a teeny bit intimidating. I hope I don’t disappoint.

The reason I’m here is to tell you all about my new book, which is being released today. I’m equal parts excited and frightened about it. I mean, I’m a little that way about all my books. Most authors are, I think. Our books rise out of our creativity and are finally brought forth with effort. It’s like having a baby, only you usually carry a human kid for only nine months.

It’s kind of like having an elephant baby. They gestate for two years. Or maybe a kangaroo. They’re pretty much like an assembly line, with one joey in the pouch and another in the womb, waiting his turn. Wow, theoretically, a female kangaroo is always pregnant… geez, if reincarnation exists, I hope I don’t come back as a roo.

This book is different for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s in a completely different, and not easily identifiable genre. It’s the story of my Quarter Horse, Snoopy. When he was a three-year-old, he won a big championship in California. When he was a four-year-old, he broke his leg. After surgery, a fused joint, a metal plate, six screws, and two years, he was not only back to being ridden, but back to being shown.

I now have a bionic horse, who is still a big goofball. 

2013-04-09 10.51.22

Technically, this book is a memoir, since the events actually happened. Here’s the rub: the story is told by Snoopy, in his voice. I won’t claim to be a horse psychic whisperer. That makes this book a fictional memoir, unless you believe that horses talk.

Then it’s all completely true.

Why didn’t I make this easy and tell the story myself? I’ve been involved in every step of Snoopy’s life, all the way from the day I leafed through the Quarter Horse Journal’s Big Book o’ Studs, looking for a suitable mate for my little mare.  

artfulinvestment

Daddy Artie

Mommy Frostie

Mommy Frostie

When I was hit with the inspiration (and believe me, it was like a thousand-watt lightbulb going off in my frontal lobe), I knew at once that this was not my story to tell. I didn’t break my leg, Snoopy did. I nearly broke my bank account, but that’s another story and I don’t write horror. I studied some other “first-person animal” stories to see how they did it.

Black Beauty is the gold standard. I’ve read it in my childhood, multiple times, but I went back and read it again. My adult sensibilities still fell in love with this horse. He has that English Country Squire manner to his speech, but he’s all horse, and I had no problem believing that this was his story from his viewpoint.

Then I read War Horse. It’s a compelling story (I’ve seen the play but not the movie), and it moved me. However, even though it’s told from Joey’s view, it reads like a man in a horse costume. Black Beauty speaks of his training and shows you the kindness (or cruelty) of his owners in terms that are centered around his understanding as a horse. Joey describes the Union Jack hanging in the square and the uniforms of the soldiers.

What horse cares about that?

Because I like to do things in threes (why, no, I’m not OCD…), I also read the first few chapters of The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s told by a dog, and I was mostly drawn in to believing the dog was telling the story. I will finish the book. I just know I’m going to be weeping heavily by the end of it, and I’m not quite up to that at the moment.

After all this, I had to choose Black Beauty as my blueprint. Snoopy is a southern California boy, so his language is not as precise as Beauty’s, but he is concerned about how things affect him. It was an interesting writing exercise. I had to constantly be aware of how he might see things, and I had to abandon my voice and find his.

HM_CoverThe result is a book that is true and is fantasy and is a love letter to all my horses, my trainers, and my fellow riders. I want it to fly far and sell well because when you’re in love, you want to shout it from the rooftops and share that love with the world.

It’s available as an ebook on Kindle. If you want a paperback, you can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, or your favorite Indy bookstore.

~Thank you, Gayle for bringing us the story of Snoopy and his memoir.

If you’d like to follow Snoopy’s adventures, Gayle blogs about him at her site, From the Horse’s Mouth. He’s ridiculously funny (I didn’t expect that in a horse), and the story is both touching and lighthearted. I hope you’ll fall in love with Snoopy as much as I did.

Susie Strong!

Today a dear friend of mine is going in for surgery to get cancer out of her body. I, and several other blogging friends of Susie’s, are putting up a quick post to let her know we’re thinking of her.

Susie is amazing. Always up for a Wild Ride, she lives life with vivacity and humor.

Check out this pic of her ~ gives you a hint to what her surgery is all about.

Gotta love those boobs!

Gotta love those boobs!

Later today I’ll have a guest post by my gal pal Gayle, but for this moment, I wanted the world to know that my heart, my thoughts, my love, and my well-wishes are with Susie and her family. Love, love, love you my sweet friend!

You can read about Susie’s brave (and humorous) battle of the boobs here and here.

Please take a moment today to wish Susie a safe surgery and speedy recovery. Send her a quick prayer, light and love, or make her laugh, at the twitter hashtag #SusieStrong.

What Do Wigs, Duff’s Cake Mix, and Sheri Fink Equal? Fun!

Tameri & Sheri Rockin' the Cakes!

If you’re in a slump and need a pick-me-up, I’ve got just the thing for you! Grab a friend, a couple of wigs, and go decorate a cake.

No, seriously, it will lighten your spirit and refill your creative well. Not to mention, it’s fun as hell and the cakes are super yum!

Duff's Cake Mix

The place: Duff’s Cake Mix in Hollywood, California.

The players: Sheri Fink, Cake Decorator Extraordinaire Clay, and me.

The mission: Figure out what the heck fondant actually IS. Actually, our mission was to decorate cakes while having a good time and getting messy. I’m pleased to say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

First, we had to pick our wigs. This is a serious decision and took much thought.

Rockin' the wigs 1 Rockin' the wigs 2 Sheri Lavender Tameri Lavender

In the end, I went with pink (although, I am loving the lavender!) and Sheri went with light blue. Which is your favorite on us? On you?

Team DuffThen, off to Duff’s Cake Mix we went. In case you aren’t aware, Duff Goldman had a show on Food Network called, Ace of Cakes. We LOVED that show. I even tried to get them to fly a cake out for my daughter’s birthday, but they said no. 😦 But then Duff came out west and opened up Duff’s Cake Mix (check out the website here). It’s this super cool place where you can go and decorate a cake just like the professionals! Or, just go and buy a cupcake because they are delicious. Next door to the decorating studio is the actual bakery where they make these amazing cakes. That’s right ~ now my daughter can get a birthday cake from Duff! Sweet.

This is a cake! For real.

This is a cake! For real.

Aren't these great? Masterpieces, seriously.

Aren’t these great? Masterpieces, seriously.

Once we picked our cake flavors, we had to choose icing and our decorative toppings. Then it was off to have the cakes covered in fondant ~ which tastes a lot like marshmallows and was quite tasty. I thought it would be gross, but it wasn’t!

Clay's Fondant Skills

Fondant Master Clay!

Duff's Frostings

Duff’s Fun Frostings!

Duff's Sparkly Sugars!

Duff’s Sparkly Sugars!

Sheri's Fondant Skills

Sheri working her mad fondant skills.

Sheri's toppings

Sheri choosing her toppings.

Tameri's Fondant Skills

Tameri working with her fondant balls. Yeah, we giggled too. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we had the cakes covered, it was all about finding our inner decorator and going wild. Sheri came with a game plan ~ she wanted a mermaid design ~ I just went with where the muse took me. Sort of in a shabby chic celestial direction. Whatever, it was fun!

Clay Glittering Tameri's Cake

Glitter! Even cakes need glitter. Oh, yes they do!

Clay prepping Sheri's Mermaid Cake

Clay prepping Sheri’s cake for glitter.

Clay's Mermaid Skills Our guy Clay! Our Helper Clay! Sheri & Clay Sheri's Carving Skills Tameri's Decorating Skills

It was an incredible day! We laughed, we talked, we got all fondant-y. Clay was hilarious and kept us entertained with his boyish charms. It was a perfect day.

Here are our works of art:

Sheri's Mermaid Cake Tameri & Sheri with cakes

Do something silly! Get out there and be creative in another field other than what you usually do. If you’re a writer, pick up a camera and see life through another lens. If you’re a musician, try your hand at sculpting. Or, if you’re just in the mood for something a little goofy, grab a few friends, some cake mix, and a wig. If you’d like to see more pics of our day, check out my Pinterest board here.

Life isn’t going to wait for you ~ get out there and work your magic! With icing, words, music, or whatever inspires you. Be amazing.

Coming up on Tuesday, I’ll have two fun things for you, my dear readers. First, I’ll have a sneak peak of what’s happening with the new website and I need your help with a very important detail…

Next, I’ve got a fun idea for the summer and it’s going to involve all of you. So, I hope you’ll stop by on Tuesday and find out what’s with all the secrecy! Until then, I hope you have a super fabulous weekend. Hug your loved ones, get out the fondant, and get messy!