Since I had a number of really lovely people ask me about my books in Napa yesterday, it reminded me of it being way past time to blog. I spent a most amazing day at my husband and my friend Charlie's winery (Charlie and Pam's winery) Crocker and Starr. It is the best winery in the Valley. One could arguably call it the Iron Horse King's winery...yes a book and yes a connection. Charlie is the great grandson of the Iron Horse King. I was so honored to read about his great grandfather and it simply had to be a book....though romantic interpretation was involved, the history was on target. One of the greatest honors of my life was to know Charlie and have a chance write that book about an utterly amazing man. I find it a particular honor that a girl who spent most of the year without wearing shoes could have such amazing friends. Humble, charming and such a beautiful person with such a rich family history. How lucky am I and my husband? Great honor....anyway......he didn't even get mad about the romantic scenes about his GGF....Iron Horse King wrote itself.....the story was there....one of the most amazing stories in history...how hard could it be to add romantic edges? If I could just convince him to put an old refurbished train engine at the winery...However a train does go by the winery....so that is pretty amazing in of itself....okay...so I got lost in one of my books....
Anyway, back on story...Then Pam took me to a friend's winery for a real Derby Party! As all of you who follow my books know, I have a "coming of age girl jockey story" called Once Upon a Misty Blue Grass Hill.
Those that know me well from long ago days will recognize that this character most resembles me as a child or I believe so anyway the grown up Jolene is most like me too. I really went raw with that book.
I have been to four Kentucky Derbies and believe it should be on every bucket list. As the Princess of Jordan once said in a speech in Kentucky after the World Equestrian Games "When I was a child I used to read the stories about Black Beauty and I thought, Kentucky must be heaven for horses. Then I came here, and Kentucky really is heaven for horses."
I involve myself with so many things and one of them was my husband and I volunteering for the World Equestrian Games and there we saw green technology compliments of Pierce Lyons who does make the best beer in the world Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, of which I cannot get in California. I have written him a number of letters to no avail.
Anyway...yesterday was so much fun. Crocker and Starr had the Spring "pick up" party which was perfect for Derby Day...the view was lovely....the wine, food, staff and everything was simply stunning ...having their wine makes you realize why they call it the Nectar of the Gods. Anyone who has read The Wine Prince - Glass of Obsession and knows me...knows that the opening scene of that book actually was the image in my head of the Carnivus parties that Charlie and Pam have at the winery every year...the canopies and everything. I went there one year and just the amazing scene struck me...I came home and wrote it all out...that was the opening of that book. I have Carnivus to look forward to in a few months.
So, then after that fun we went to a Derby party. Pam was so nice as I could not find a Derby party anywhere in California....of course, I don't have connections. She happened to have friends that had a Derby party! It was truly lovely. The host and hostess the entire group of people which did include...I am pretty sure some horse owners....or at least some people from Louisville were so welcoming I almost felt like I was in Kentucky.
I have not felt that close to Kentucky since I had to move back to SF Bay Area. Don't worry....someday I am going to get to take that country road back home, when the time is right...or at least be able to spend more time there than I can now. I tell my husband I covet the big RVs (because I could transport my puppies back and forth, Oliver and Merlin...though it is doubtful we could get them out of the vehicle....they have only known a hundred acre sheep farm and a 12 acre farm called Finnegan's run....what would they do if they saw a BART wizzing by?). However.....I do sometimes covet those RVs and imagining seeing the country and writing every day....being with my pups and husband on adventures. I could really take writing to the next level if I could travel back and forth....but...alas....one has to keep a day job.
At the party I pulled the winning horse out of a hat! Number 18 was mine, quite by accident. American Pharaoh! What a fantastic name for a horse! I was feeling lucky when I was matching the number I pulled with that beautiful horse! If any know much about Kentucky and horse racing they will know that our middle eastern friends love horses as much as Kentuckians and live there...so...the name really hit a chord with me.
I, however, admit I was doubtful of my number 18 that I pulled by luck because I never pick a favored horse...perhaps I should rethink that strategy! My heart had been won over already (having picked in my heart Calvin's horse that got scratched....because when in doubt or out of the know...pick Calvin's horse). Side story...I met him (Calvin) once at the paddock and wanted his autograph...I thought he was Irish but decided on a whim to say "Please Sir" in French and he stopped on a dime...he signed the only thing I had in my hand...a summons for jury duty! (Let me tell you, jury duty in Paris, Kentucky Bourbon County is a very interesting experience...they pull hundreds into a beautiful old building and it is like a town reunion. Really amazing....Paris Kentucky should be on every bucket list....and stop by Clays and see my son bartending while going to school to be a patent lawyer). Back to Calvin, I still have his autograph on my jury summons. Who knew Calvin was French? Not me...how lucky was that?
Even luckier than pulling the number 18 out of a hat yesterday and winning $130 on a $10 bet! Besides that....if I had been a little earlier to the party I could have had grits in California which is a very rare instance. How cool was that? Very. They totally were in the know of Kentucky. So, after winning I did what my Kentucky/West Virginia Granny would have done (since my purse was locked in my car)....I tucked my winnings away...yes...in my bra. Now my Granny would have pinned it in a handkerchief. I just didn't happen to have one along with a safety pin as she would have. She always told me "Don't go anywhere far without a $100 bill tucked right here."
It was a lovely day and almost Kentucky on Derby Day...almost...because nothing matches Churchill Downs on Derby Day. I admit though different than being at Churchill Downs...there is nothing like looking across vines on a lovely spring day with gracious hosts and watching the Kentucky Derby with such a view, after a fabulous spring party at Charlie and Pam's winery. I am so blessed.
As for writing....I know I have not kept my commitment to blogging each month. Truth be told I got myself into a bit of a pickle at work...how hard would that be to predict....? A Romance Writer in a large law firm? That has the makings of trouble from the start. The kinds of trouble someone like me can find herself getting into is simply endless....and utterly creative. I always find new ways.....and I never really mean to!! Yikes. I should add here for fun....that there is nothing romantic about the trouble I get into.
So....I had to start fresh and I have been busy with trial preps and figuring out my new life. I am enjoying my new life and new adventures.
My editor and friend Liz keeps scolding me for not writing. I write a few words here and there on the next book....but my head is into litigation and it is hard to get back into the book. Trial prep is serious business so I work some on weekends when needed...so...book 7 keeps getting pushed back.....I need to set a goal. I will soon.
No, I reveal nothing about next book. I love the book. It is just slow moving. Maybe it will be like fine wine and it will get better over time.
In the meantime, thank you to all of you who buy my books and enjoy the first six anyway. Maybe lucky number 7 will mean I don't need a day job! Fantasy. If only I could get it written!
I, however, as always am enjoying the adventures of life wherever they take me (even getting into trouble shows us the sharpness of life) and each day is a stitch or a quilt piece for another book someday and at some time if not......I plan a life well lived and feel so grateful for my first six books being done and appreciated by so many all over the world.
I was very astonished at how many people at the party knew I was a writer and clearly were interested in my books. I was a little embarrassed and shy about it. I was honored that people at a party would seek me out to talk about it....I felt humbled and really sort of...unworthy in truth.
How dumb is that? Of course, I am often a bit awkward at parties. I suppose sometimes I do fit the bill of the reclusive eccentric author.
Lucky I am surrounded by such good friends and beautiful people inside and out....especially friends that have such amazing wine....and are generous enough to share wine and the most amazing setting with a simple girl like me.
It was a beautiful day and I hope that to my family, friends and fans that this lovely spring day, the day after the Derby, brings you joy, health, love and so much happiness.
Happy New Year !
Again finishing out an even better year in my book sales. Yes, The Chosen One is still my best seller worldwide. I have explored various new venues for all of my books and it is starting to pay off. More importantly in the new venues my other novels are starting to get notice and traction and I am gaining a little ground there. That is so exciting.
Thank you for being moved by The Chosen One, I was very inspired when I wrote it. My recent website visits vary from Burundi, Madagascar and Macedonia to Serbia and Malaysia and I am so honored that all of you have found something inspirational in The Chosen One. I am humbled beyond words. This was my least likely to succeed book so that is the amazing part.
You just can't stop a story when it is a good one and this one apparently has a worldwide appeal. So thank you to all of my fans, friends and family for believing in me and being there with encouragement. I recently sold a few books in Nigeria and I just couldn't believe it! So a reach out and Happy New Year to my newest fans. It is an odd and amazing thing that bad publicity sells about as many books as good....I guess that is karma for you....good karma when you always play it forward and that is what I always do when I can.
In this new year I am working on the latest book, a follow on to The Wine Prince (friend of Elizabeth has her own adventure). It has not been easy balancing the time with work so this book is going a little slower, but that is the life of an indie writer and we have to get inspiration on the run sometimes.
I hope this New Year brings peace, happiness, inspiration and all good things to all of you. Many, many blessings.
Writers are the most passionate people in the world. Romance writers have a passion that is so raw.....When I coined the phrase "write raw" it also means "live raw" and "love raw".
My mother used to take us every Sunday to the Catholic Church. She always had two quarters in her purse. She always gave one to the poor...someone poorer than her....and used the second with a dime to buy gas to go home. My mother was amazing....
My Granny and my mother taught me what real women are like. They are not women in perfect suits (though it is great if you can be that woman), holding themselves back from what they are....not even women with necessarily an education (though I encourage girls to go to college and be all they can be), or be in a top job. Real women live by special gifts and rules...those are rules of the heart. They know what it is to live by the heart. My mother said to me countless times.....you stand up for what is right...no matter the price.
Real women can get coffee for men and like it....it might be fun. It might make you feel like a woman. Or if not getting coffee then cooking or laundry or whatever for those we love...or like...whatever. Be you. Always. There is nothing wrong with being a girl...whatever that means to you.
I made a number of promises to my mother who died when I was 16. I promised her I would live every moment (which means live raw). I promised her I would not compromise on anything that truly mattered. I realize now that was an easy promise as I'd not do it any other way anyway.
I also promised her I would live the life that she never had the chance to live (raw). I've stayed true and always will, to those promises.
Promises have to do with love and passion. In this amazing season....whether your are a Christian or not, everyone can agree that a baby was born and he forever changed the world because of his deep passion, love for the world and many ideas....things that people had not even thought of in those days...like reaching out to the less fortunate, forgiving others for doing bad things...he introduced ideas we take for granted...He was amazing.
He was a person that believed in something so much he would sacrifice himself. He even cared for those that betrayed him. It is an amazing story even if you don't get in the loop of religion....or hope by believing that there is a reward. What he did stands alone with its passion, sacrifice and most of all, love.
I often say to my intellectual friends (much smarter than me obviously) that God keeps sending us people to tell us how to live and how to love. What do we do? We kill them off every time. Not just in big ways like Aristotle, Plato and Jesus...but in small ways...when we hurt a minor person for some selfish reason....like...when we are scared or jealous or....there is some other agenda... we hurt people. People hurt us.
So, my blog message for this beautiful season is to not do that to anyone. Don't mock the person who doesn't quite get things...that person who is a nerd....or the one that is a little different...perhaps more passionate and offering a heart and idea...who knows????...it might be a gift for you if you look deep enough. You could find something and will find a golden nugget of great beauty in every single person. I do. Always.
Aristotle said before his death, "You think you are something, when you are nothing." He could have stayed the hand of what was to happen to him, however, he would not compromise. He realized in passion that some things are worse than death.
Of course there is Joan of Arc and so many others...those people who are amazing because they show a path of transcending the smallness of the world sometimes.
If you live by your heart, that is where you find the truth of everything. Sure, people will mock you sometimes, betray you, or call out your passion, because it is out of the ordinary. Some simply do not understand. Perhaps they wish they could feel things that deeply....it is a beautiful thing...sometimes painfully beautiful, but beautiful all the same. Not everyone has that gift.
Living up to your heart, being passionate about what you believe, being unwavering and uncompromising when it matters....and doing what you believe is truly right and good....which means thinking outside of self....that....that...that is living raw...that is loving raw....that is being the master of your own fate and being the captain of your soul.
So tomorrow....I am going to live and write raw....listen to amazing Christmas music... And send my heartfelt Blessings to Christians and non-Christians...
It was the act. It was the sacrifice for something bigger than self, that was the key to Jesus. It was the passion. Those are the things that change the world. Some religions believe Jesus is just a profit. I am not smart enough to know for certain, I only know what I believe.
What I know and believe and can argue is that he sacrificed everything for ideals, he was passionate and he had a message that changed the world. If everyone lived by his humble messages....does it really matter if you think he was who you think or he wasn't? It was the message that mattered. That message was to love one another and do what is right no matter what.
Differences mean just occupying sacred space differently...but we should all move to the good. We should all move to making the world better, bringing freedom, justice and love (of course lots of passion) to the world.
When you fall down or someone pushes you...remember what Jesus said, "Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do." Then pick yourself back up and keep moving to the good.
Above all else, keep your passion. Always live and love with that passion.
So...Merry Christmas to my worldwide fans!!!....Yes...Brazil now my biggest followers besides the mid-east...thank you!
Blessings to everyone and my sincere thanks for yet another amazing month for my books. No matter your religion, we are all moving in the same direction...it is just a matter of how we chose to occupy "Sacred space" and tradition.
Thank you friends, fans, followers and family. I will continue to always write raw.
It is my most amazing year ever with my books....thank you so much.
Blessing to the world.
When I first got into writing, one of the things I learned early on from several seminars on writing was that you never write like you believe your mother will read your writing. Obviously, in romance specifically, imagining your mother reading what you wrote is a little daunting. Sadly my mother passed when I was 16 so it is a problem I wish I had.
I really cannot believe how well I have done on my own as an indie writer and just feel honored and amazed when I sell books. However, like most writers, I cannot (yet) make a living only on writing, so I have a day job. This is really why I am in San Francisco working again....but I love it very much!
However, one thing I have learned recently is that there might be something more embarrassing than your mother reading one of your steamy and sometimes downright erotic romances (The Wine Prince - Vine of Obsession for instance) and that is that your co-workers might read one of your books....now that is a yikes thought!
It was stunningly easy living out on a farm in the middle of Kentucky with 12 acres around me to write exactly what I felt like while in the "writing zone" which is like you have characters and a scene play out in your head and they just do what they want and take on their own life in directions you never dreamed they would! So thinking and then writing such (sexy and erotic) scenes was not too hard while walking the land with my dogs in isolation....it is a whole different story in the real world of working and commuting!
While the thought is flattering and absolutely I am honored that anyone would purchase and read my books, it is sometimes a little disconcerting to imagine as I go through my day that someone I work with might have read one of said books! For the first month at my new job, I hid my bag going in and out of work (which has my books on it....sexy scenes of book covers is most certainly "inappropriate" in the workplace). I was soon discovered and uncovered during a Google search by a co-worker.....Not that I was exactly hiding it, but it isn't like one puts THAT on her resume to work at a law firm (I have other much more relevant credentials like having a BA in Law Studies).
I admit the day job does get in the way of writing the next book as quickly as I would like. Getting into the "zone" is much harder, but it also adds new elements to my life and book writing (not to mention pays the bills in full which is a really good thing!) Plus I work with really fun and interesting people which have become a family of sorts while I live away from my own real family..
So, dear readers, friends and fans, thank you for being there and yes, I am working on the next book (despite the slowness of my efforts). In the meantime you will know that somewhere in San Francisco is a romance writer disguising herself as a legal assistant....and hoping co-workers don't read her books, even if getting book sales is really important....giggles and yikes!
When is the next book out? Well....I am shifting between steamy romance or erotic again. The book is about half written and I finally have fully formed characters.
Now it is a decision about the level of erotic. I have learned that it is darned hard to find a book on Amazon or other sites if you jump into erotic...so maybe I will just push the envelope of steamy....Of course, this is certainly not a topic for around the coffee pot at my law firm....even if I might think about it on my lunch walk... more giggles.
Thanks to you all who tune into my blog all over the world! I can't believe how much my audience has grown...I promise I am working....by day as a mild mannered legal assistant and by night an erotic romance writer. Moving into the Thanksgiving and Christmas Seasons, I have much to be thankful for and am committed to doing a blog at least once a month despite my fun day job which has kept me rather busy! I am having a great time...and who knows...perhaps there will be a book about lawyers someday....we will see...yikes yet again.
I still can't believe I sell books every day even while I race through my regular job....it is a miracle really and I am humbled by the thought even while standing at a copy machine....and rushing to do a filing...
As always, many, many Blessings to all of my family, friends, fans and readers. Thank you so much.
I do believe that while the pen is not mightier than the sword all of the time, perhaps the written word can help interpret the swords of war and the intent of those who engage in advancing liberty for those that are denied those beautiful rights, I am posting something from The Chosen One, my best seller.
Just like "Truth is on the march and nothing can stop it" I also believe that Freedom is "on the march and nothing can stop it." Perhaps policies of those that come and go might decide how quickly freedom advances, or the way it is handled can be criticized, but in the end, liberty will win because it is the most amazing of ideas and the right to freedom does not come from man nor governments, it comes from something much higher than the feeble mechanics of man.
I believe the hearts of the soldiers that died or were seriously wounded leave behind their utterly amazing spirit, bravery, strength and all of the silent but unconquerable forces of good ..... they remind and call everyone to all that is noble and good about human beings....what they leave behind touches and changes those that they wanted to help and lives on through them forever.
Their work is breathtakingly noble and of a higher calling ....and once done ....with such gallant and amazing selflessness.... the seeds of hope grow and grow into a beautiful rose....and I know the vision of a distant shore has already been seen through the deeds of the living and dead that helped bring that vision to those that never had hope to find it because they acted with such beauty of spirit for all of the world to benefit and especially those that lived in chains and fear.
Thus, the heart is mightier than the sword when it shines with good and the sacrifice is ultimate.
Perhaps where the sword left off maybe humble words will help in some small way...to bring good people to Freedom and Peace....and to bring my sisters from far away that much closer to personal liberty...to have the chance to chase their dreams, write their words, live as equals and find Freedom's Front Door.
"Because my dear sisters, none of us are free until all of us are free."
From The Chosen One.
Freedom's Front Door
By: Rebecca Bernadette Mance
October 20, 2009
Dedicated to the Iraqi and Afghan people
and all those who are willing
to walk through Freedom's Front Door.
May you know that we are not perfect,
but we have tried our very best to do the right thing and
give you the gift of Freedom........because none of us are free until all of us are free.
We have sent the best and finest that we have to offer.....our fine soldiers....our sons and daughters...now you must take the steps walk through Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
Carrying a flag from a distant shore,
He had a message I could not ignore,
Follow me down the path to Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
Even though you cannot see the light
I will hold it high and bright,
And it will lead you on the darkest night,
To an idea born on a far away shore,
So follow me now to Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
Don't let others make you afraid,
Just believe in the good from my heart I gave,
And understand the sacrifice so many have made,
So that you can find a life with so much more,
When you follow me to Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
When you need me, I will never stand down,
I will help you until your footing is sound,
And you take that walk on the path so many have found,
You will walk alone with pride to your core,
As you walk the path to Freedom's Front Door.
He said, "Follow me."
And I knew his heart was more than brave,
His work was for more than an accolade,
And I recalled the others and what they gave.
I said, "I'll follow you."
So I started down the path and my heart soared,
Like the Eagle that flew over that distant shore,
And I walked right through Freedom's Front Door.