See you at #RT16!

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at the RT Booklovers' Convention in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks! I won't be signing at the book fair this year (still a few months before the next book comes out), but I will be hanging out at the Interlude Press Publisher's Spotlight, the Small Press panel and around the convention in general. And if you haven't read Sotto Voce yet? IP will be giving away copies in the Goody Room and at its Publisher's Spotlight! Drop by, say hi, and I'll sign it for you!

It's National Drink Wine Day

... and as I take a short break from editing this manuscript (!) with a cup of coffee (I need to stay awake. There's a long road ahead of me yet today.), I thought I'd take a second to talk about libations and literature.

They're two of my favorite things, of course, and certainly my favorite way to enjoy a good book is with a lovely glass at my side. I love the role wine plays in our lives. It's a conversation starter. It's used to celebrate everything from weddings to peace treaties. Given the right wine and the right volume, it's a healthy addition to our diets. Paired correctly, it highlights the finer details of our meals, whether we're eating Chateaubriand or an In-N-Out Double-Double. Yes, you can pair that.

But have you ever thought about how drinks pair with literature? About matching a cold Corona with Walter Finnegan's Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life? A minty mojito with Elmore Leonard's Cuba Libre? And yes, a velvety Syrah with Sotto Voce. 

Today, Interlude Press is releasing Speakeasy, and author Suzey Ingold (@suzeysays) has been posting a series of cocktail recipes to go along with the read. It gives me ideas... but for another day. Today, we raise a glass from the vine. 


How Do I Love My Local Library? Let Me Count the Ways

I've had this post in my draft folders for months, and this morning, an email from my local library prompted me to take a look, revise it, get it out there. 

I love libraries, have since I was a kid. When your dad's an educator, there's a good chance you'll spend quality time in your local library, and a good chunk of my childhood was spent in my hometown's lush archives, a historic building that fits the very image of a classic, small-town library.  

I think I got my first library card—pre-digital—roughly around kindergarten. And it got used—hard. A lot of after school hours got spent in the A.K. Smiley Public Library, and I developed a lot of literary loves there—from my still-beloved Dr. Seuss and onward, through those awkward "I love every book with horses" years to Hemingway and Austen, and then Wolfe and Leonard.

In the first weeks after Interlude Press launched, it received a note from a Tumblr-based reader who said she couldn't afford to buy all the books, but had put in a request to her local library. Ends up, it resulted in the very first order IP received from a library—the Carnegie Library, which ordered copies of AJ DeWall's Forever Man.

Since then, a lot of people have asked their local libraries to stock IP books. Lilah Suzanne's Pivot and Slip has taken up residence at the Harvard Library. Sotto Voce is in the Los Angeles Central Library, a personal thrill, because in the not-too-distant past, I looked out on that gorgeous building on a daily basis.

But this morning, I found out that my current local library—a modern steel-and-glass building alongside a performing arts center—had ordered my book, at a reader's request. And for me, that's something special. It's not the biggest library in the world, but it's my current home base for books, and for relocating when I need to pack up my laptop and get a change of scenery. Maybe people will read it. Maybe they won't. But it's there, and available, and I've got a big grin on my face.

So here's my pitch, as a kid who got her first library card at age six: If you want to read an IP book but are strapped for but are strapped for cash, head down to your local library (or its web site). And while you're there, fill out a request for asking them to order the books you'd like to read. If there's one thing we learned at the American Library Association convention, it's that librarians are looking to diversify their collections—and they're open to your suggestions. 

Moving On...

After months of sporadic research, I'm finally deep into writing Book #2. The sophomore effort has been a struggle at times, not because of the dreaded writer's block, but because it's been difficult to spend enough time writing to establish the rhythm I need to make any real progress. It's a thing. 

Each time I thought I was ready to start, with a story framed, themes outlined, character names determined, something would come along to make me rethink it, question it, reframe it.

As is my habit, I'm writing a story that is at least partially set in California, but not entirely. And it's that "not entirely" that has been my hiccup, I think. If I'm going to write about something, I like to experience it for myself. It's a good thing I'm not a science fiction writer.

So thank you to the airline that just announced a new nonstop route with the rockin' fare sale. I'm renewing my passport, and I'm hitting the road.

The Soda Pop Sommelier

This week, I got the joy of catching up with Mila McWarren on the day her wonderful debut novel, The Luckiest, was released. (Seriously. Buy it. Read it. If you're like me, you'll love it.)

Mila was in town with her kids on their way down south to San Diego for the annual rite known as Comic Con, but first, she gave her kids decision-making authority over their Los Angeles itinerary. Her daughter chose the Santa Monica pier—a solid choice. The weather's been lovely this week and there's plenty to see down there. But her son chose something off the predictable path.

He chose a market. Not just any market, mind you, but a specialty store in Highland Park  known as Galco's Old World Grocery. And if you've ever heard of Galco's, you know it's known for one thing—an amazing collection of soda pop.


How did an East Coast kid learn about a soda pop shop in Los Angeles? From a food podcast, of course, and he decided it was his go-to destination on his LA road trip. Armed with a note pad, he quizzed the store owner about how to go about a proper "tasting," and what flavor and scent notes to detect on certain obscure sodas. 

By the time I arrived, he had sampled and taking tasting notes on colas, flat root beers and a cucumber soda that Mila and I decided really belonged in the bar collection as a mixer. 

"I pick up ginger in this one, what do you think?" he said, handing over a bottle. "And I think maybe a little lavender."

We then concocted our own custom sodas—I stuck with simple things I knew would work together: pomegranate, lemon and lavender. The kids got a bit more creative. 

One thing is for certain: As Mila's son gets to an age where he starts considering careers, he should make sure to add Soda Pop Sommelier to that list.

Are you in SoCal?

Do you want to get your copy of Sotto Voce signed? Or would you like a buy a copy and get it signed, or even just stop by and say hello?

I'll be signing at the Romance Writers of America California Dreamin' Writers Conference this Sunday. More than 70 authors will be signing their books from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Embassy Suites hotel in Brea. The signing is open to the public and you don't need to be registered for the conference to attend. 

So feel free to drop by, get your book signed, and talk a little wine!