Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Awesome England Adventure!!!

Earlier this month, I stepped out of my comfort zone and flew to England with my daughter and daughter-in-law. For those who know me, this was huge! I'm something of a hermit and recluse. I can happily stay home in my writing cave for days at a time and never miss being around people or shopping or whatever it is folks do when they aren't home.

On Tuesday, June 10 at 6:05 pm, we boarded United 985 direct to London Heathrow Airport. I hadn't traveled across the Atlantic in forty years. Yes, that's a very long time ago, and everything's so very different now. It's really lovely to be able to watch movies and shows on your very own screen during the flight. The time actually passed fairly quickly (nine hours+) because of dinner, drinks and breakfast served at regular intervals. We landed in London Wednesday morning at 9:40.

We caught the train to Canterbury where we stayed with Helen's friend Julie for several days. Julie was kind enough to let us use her home as our central hub. She was truly the hostess with the mostest. I can't thank her enough.

I fell in love with Canterbury. I don't know if it was because it provided my first glimpse of England, or just because it's a charming and beautiful city. Probably a little bit of both.

On Thursday, we took the train to Dover where we saw the White Cliffs in all their glory.

A tour of Dover Castle and the war tunnels was fascinating.

We climbed up and down the stone staircases exploring the old castle inside and out. We walked eleven miles that day. I was proud of myself. I kept up pretty well.

The beach at Dover was quite a surprise to Carrie and me. We'd never seen a beach made of stones and pebbles. Where were the seashells?

Friday, we caught the train to Brighton. I've been reading Georgette Heyer's Regency Romances since I was a teenager and finally got to see the Royal Pavilion up close and personal.

It was awesome in its ostentatious display of wealth and splendor. Prinny did go a little overboard on the decorating, didn't he?

Every day when we returned to Canterbury from our outings, we walked the scenic streets. On Saturday afternoon, we attended Evensong at the beautiful cathedral.

We said goodbye to Julie on Sunday and headed to Portsmouth. We toured the HMS Victory--Admiral Horatio Nelson's ship that won the Battle of Trafalgar--and the Mary Rose, a sixteenth century war ship that's being restored. 

 Needless to say, Carrie was in her element.

 Boats, boats, boats!!!

Monday, we traveled to Salisbury by train, then booked a taxi (thanks to Helen) to Stone Henge. Standing near such an ancient edifice was humbling.

Bath was our destination Monday evening. This city is dear to my heart. Many of Georgette Heyer's novels take place in Bath, as well as one of my own. I felt like I'd stepped back in time.

Almost ninety percent of the buildings are from the Georgian and Regency Periods. We toured a refurbished Georgian townhouse in the Royal Crescent. I was in heaven!

The Assembly Rooms were magnificent.

The Roman Baths looked inviting. If you closed your eyes, you could envision the ancient Romans lounging about.

The Pump Room was all I'd imagined and more. I sipped the waters and felt just like a character out of one of GH's novels.

We ate breakfast in the shadow of the Abbey, then finished our tour of Bath before heading to Oxford.

We met up with Pooneh and her husband, who showed us all around Oxford and Magdalen College, in particular.

After eating lunch, we punted on the river. Very relaxing. Not for the punter, but very much so for the passengers.

We caught an evening train to Liverpool and got in late. On Wednesday morning, we ate breakfast at the docks. We visited a Beatles photo gallery and walked all around. And of course, there were more boats, boats, boats.

We met up with Helen's mum, sister-in-law and niece and nephew. We had a fun time at one of the museums, and we took a ride on the Mersey Ferry. Afterwards, we went to Hannah and Michael's house for dinner. I enjoyed seeing Hilde again and meeting more of Helen's family.

Thursday, we boarded the train for London. Helen gave us a guided walking tour of the City. We walked about ten miles that afternoon and evening.

We saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Palace Guards, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye; we walked across the Millennium Bridge, ate a lovely dinner and drank a cup of tea.

Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James Park were beautiful . . . I'd read about them in GH's novels and written about them in my own books. We saw the Government Buildings and the arches and monuments. And of course, St. Paul's Cathedral. It was great seeing everything in person.

Carrie and I were on our own after Helen left for Manchester. We felt a little bereft without our fearless leader, but we found our way around the City fairly well. Correction: Carrie found our way around.


We toured St. Paul's and saw the tombs of the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Horatio Nelson, and Florence Nightingale, just to name a few of the famous people buried there.

We spent most of Friday at the Tower of London. So much History literally etched into the walls.

After a long day of sightseeing, I indulged in my last cream tea and scones. Sigh. Then we returned to our hotel for a quiet evening, watched a little of the World Cup, and got ready for the return trip home on Saturday.

I had a wonderful time visiting England. I enjoyed every moment of every day. I enjoyed traveling with my daughter and daughter-in-law, whether by train, taxi or on foot (We walked 70 miles total, and I survived. How awesome is that?). Many thanks to Helen for planning and organizing the trip--it was she who chose the hotels, booked the trains and taxis, figured out the best routes to take and which restaurants to eat at--she was our fearless leader and tour guide.

My adventure in England was truly awesome, and we made many wonderful memories to last a lifetime.

Happy Trails!!!

Anne Marie   :)

Friday, May 09, 2014

Wild About Harry! Encore BlogPost

Not everyone knows it, but I’m wild about Harry. Harry Potter, of course. When the final book hit the shelves, I was out of town. When I returned home, I went to extraordinary lengths to keep from having the ending spoiled for me. Until I finished reading the book, I was in lock-down mode: no television, no internet, no radio, no newspapers, and no leaving the house. How much do I love Harry Potter? Let me count the ways. There is so much to love on so many different levels.

First, there’s the misconception that these books are for children. On the surface, they may look that way, but inside, oh no. Inside, there are symbolic references to mythology, theology, sociology, legends and folklore. J.K. Rowling is a genius—she has created an amazing wizard world and made it so believable, you’re sucked right in. True, her characters are children experiencing the angst and joy of going to school, dealing with peers and adolescent awkwardness. And if that isn’t enough, Harry, Ron, and Hermione bravely battle a force so powerful and evil, no one dares utter the villain’s name. Readers of all ages can identify with their fear, their bravery and their very human emotions. Rowling suspends the reader’s disbelief so well, everything that happens appears normal and not at all out of the ordinary. Genius, pure and simple. Or maybe it’s magic.

Second, as a writer, the Harry Potter books are excellent examples of storytelling at its finest. Rowling is a master craftsman. She paints exquisitely detailed word pictures without being long-winded. She has goal, motivation and conflict down to a fine science. She knows how to torture her characters, as well as her readers. She isn’t afraid to make Harry face his worst fears or back him into tight, impossible corners. Rowling expertly weaves her tales, taking the reader on a roller coaster ride again and again. Her black moments are blacker than black. Hopeless and desperate can’t begin to describe the insurmountable trials confronting Harry.
And just when you think all is lost, and you can’t turn the pages fast enough, Rowling finally, finally gives you an imminently satisfying ending to every one of her books.

 Lastly, and this is just my opinion, the Harry Potter books have to be some of the greatest love stories ever told. Love between friends, love of family, as well as romantic love--all are celebrated and honored. Good triumphs over evil, not only because justice must prevail, but because love truly conquers all in the wizard world J.K. Rowling has so lovingly created. She doesn’t let her readers down, because she knows we’re all wild about Harry.

Happy Writing!!! Anne Marie ☺

Sunday, March 09, 2014

THE DOCTOR WEARS A STETSON: Hot and Steamy or Sweet and Spicy?

DrStetsonWhiter Cover300b copy

Hot and Steamy 
Book One: The Diamondback Ranch Original Series 

Jessie Kincaid was fifteen and innocent when Cameron asked her to the prom. She lost her heart that night, but his plans didn't change. He left their small town to pursue his dreams. 

Seventeen years later, a trip home leads Cameron McCade back to Salt Fork, Texas and the newly widowed Jessie Devine. Since his return, the fire between them burns as hot as ever. Can they take up where they left off? Can Jessie risk her heart again?

DrStetson SweetMagenta300b2 copy
Same story only sweeter 
Book One: The Diamondback Ranch Sweeter Series 

Jessie opened the screen door and turned toward Cameron. This was it, then. The end. Her fairy-tale prom night was over. "Thank you for a wonderful time," she said, holding out her hand, feeling like a fool.

Cameron stared at her hand, then at her. His face was taut, as if he were in pain. His blue eyes burned like jewels.
Jessie wondered what was wrong.

Suddenly, he reached out and pulled her to him, arching her slender body into his. "I have to have one more kiss, Jess. One . . . more . . . kiss."

His mouth crushed down on hers. This wasn't an obligatory goodnight kiss, Jessie thought, her heart hammering in her chest. This was a kiss like you read about in novels or watched at the movies. He must feel something for her, or he wouldn't be kissing her like this. How was she going to stand it when he left forever?

Cameron broke the embrace and set her away from him.

"Good bye, Jess." He didn't look at her again, didn't turn to wave. He got in his truck and drove away into the night and out of her life.

Seventeen years later . . . 

The atmosphere sizzled in the small office. Jessie stood like a statue, her eyes opened wide. "Why did you come back?" Her raspy voice held a note of accusation.

In two long strides, Cameron was beside her. She backed against the file cabinet. He stepped closer. "You know why I'm back. We need to finish what we started seventeen years ago." He touched a finger to her cheek, traced the smooth line of her jaw, eased his hand behind her neck and pulled her to him.

Her trembling intensified and she put her hands on his chest as if to ward him off.

He caught her hands and moved them over his heart. "Feel my heartbeat, Jess. It's beating for you." He pressed his body against hers. "Feel how much I want you. I tried to stay away, but God help me, I couldn't."

His mouth claimed hers in fierce desire. Jessie moaned, holding back only for a second, knowing deep down resistance was hopeless.
She couldn't help it . . . she kissed him back.