Derby Day in Napa Valley!by Rebecca Mance on 05/03/15
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.