RWA and New York City

The second writing conference I attended last July was the national meeting of the Romance Writers of America in New York City.

While I’ve been attending local chapter meetings of RWA since moving back to Boston, and I went to the regional conference last April, this was my first time going to the big RWA event of the year. I wasn’t sure what to expect, really.

But the conference was in NYC, which is one of my all-time favorite places in the US. So, I didn’t think twice about going.

I’m so glad I did. I’ve been to many author events over the years, but I have to say this is one of the better conferences I’ve had the pleasure of going to in person.

There were so many panels, and at times, I had a difficult time deciding which ones to go to. Also, I did an author signing and was pleased by how many people asked for a signed copy of A Woman Lost. I should note the books were free and most who asked were book bloggers who, more than likely, will give them away.

Not sure why everything is pink.


I ran into some authors from Bold Strokes Books. It was kinda funny, actually. When walking into one seminar with Miranda MacLeod, I was off in my own world, a habit of mine. It wasn’t until Miranda yelled my name that I realized Melissa Brayden was waving hello. I’m a huge fan of Melissa (The Soho Loft series is one of the best in lesfic), and I was slightly embarrassed that I was a space cadet but also tickled pink that Melissa Brayden was waving hello. Melissa was there with Georgia Beers, Ali Vali, Aurora Rey, and Nell Stark.

I was surprised to find so many lesfic authors at an event I’ve always associated with man chests, but it turns out RWA members are increasingly concerned with diversity and representation in the romance genre. It was a big topic of conversation, and I came away feeling like the modern romance author and reader are both interested in embracing the “love is love” mantra and making sure that no matter what you look like or who you love, you can find stories that represent you.

My time in New York wasn’t all about the conference. I took some time to visit a Holocaust exhibit, toured the Tenement Museum twice, visited the 50th Anniversary exhibit of Stonewall, took a dinner cruise on the Hudson, and had a semi-proper tea at Lillie’s Victorian Establishment.

Photos of the tea at Lille’s:

Photos from the dinner cruise:

Random photos:

Oh, I also got a snap of me with my favorite president, Lincoln.

I had so much fun in NYC that when my partner mentioned another trip the following weekend, I couldn’t say yes quickly enough. I’ll share more about NYC, part two, next time.

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GCLS and Pittsburgh: Two Firsts for Me

Gosh, I feel like I’ve been on the move since July 1. Over the past five weeks, I’ve attended the Golden Crown Literary Society conference in Pittsburgh, the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City, and then went back to NYC for a long weekend for fun. In between all the travel, I launched A Shot at Love, book 1 in The Village Romance series, and helped Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss launch their books in the same series.

I’m exhausted and realizing I’m not young anymore. I kinda like having a routine and being in bed by 9:30 each night.

Anyhoos, now that life has settled down some, it’s time for me to share about my experiences.

First up: Pittsburgh and GCLS. This was my first time attending a GCLS conference. It was fab to catch up with some authors I’d met previously and to find so many I’d never had the pleasure of meeting in real life. Check out all the authors I tracked down. Scroll over the photos for the names.

It was also my first time in Pittsburgh, and I have to admit I liked the city. It hadn’t been on my radar of places to visit, but I’m glad I did.

Next time, I’ll chat about the RWA conference in New York City.

Now, I need a nap.

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Lesbian road trip to the Cotswolds

Back in March, I traveled to the United Kingdom for the London Book Fair.

But that wasn’t the only purpose for the trip.

For months, Clare Lydon, Harper Bliss, and I had been discussing working on a trilogy together, and we wanted to set our lesfic universe in the Cotswolds.

I’d driven through the area once or twice when I lived in the UK, but I hadn’t really been there to explore. The three of us, along with Harper’s Mrs., decided to meet up in London and then go on a road trip to the Cotswolds. Four lesbians and a van! Truly, does it ever get more lesbian than that?

It was a fantastic weekend. Not only was it fab to spend time with good friends, but the area is just stunning.

Some of the things we stumbled upon made it into my book, A Shot at Love, book one in The Village Romance series.

Like this adorable dog:

This mill:

A river:

And here’s the inspiration for The Golden Fleece, the pub in my novel.

More importantly, our friendship deepened. Here’s the three of us on one of the bridges.

(From left: Harper Bliss, Clare Lydon, and TB Markinson)

Stay tuned for more updates on the series!

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Stepping back in time

After visiting Waldon Pond, I explored some sites near there, including The Old Manse.

This house was erected by Rev. William Emerson in 1770.  William was the grandfather to Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous transcendentalist speaker and writer.  

The Old Manse is a beautiful Georgian clapboard building. Along the border of the field is a stone wall that dates back centuries. 

The North Bridge, which played a role in the American Revolutionary War, can be seen from the upstairs. 

This house became the place for prominent transcendentalists to meet to discuss literary, political, and social revolutions. This included Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott), Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau.

In 1834, Emerson lived in the house, and he drafted his landmark essay “Nature.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne, who is one of my favorite American gothic writers, and his wife, Sophia Peabody, rented the Old Manse in 1842. Thoreau (remember the dude from Walden Pond?) planted a vegetable garden for the couple. They lived in the home for three years, and during this time, Hawthorne completed most of the stories in Mosses from an Old Manse. The pair left the home when they could not pay the rent. (Even back then, the writing business was hard.)

In 1966, the home was designated a National Historic Landmark and a Massachusetts Archaeological/Historic Landmark.  

Back of the house:

The boathouse:

Stay tuned for a visit to the North Bridge.


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Memories are funny things

When I moved from Colorado to Massachusetts back in 2006, I had good intentions of exploring the area. Then I got a job, settled into my apartment, made friends, and my goal of getting out and about got shoved to the side for life and routine.

Then in 2011, I discovered we were being moved to London. All of a sudden, all of the places I wanted to see became a priority.

One of them was Walden Pond.

Eight years later, now that I’m back in Massachusetts, I’m trying to be better about reconnecting with the US and the places I liked.

Recently, I returned to Waldon Pond. In 2011, we were there on a rainy day. In 2019, it was hot and sunny. It wasn’t until I checked the dates in preparation for this post that I realized I went in the same month (May) both times. I could have sworn the first time occurred in the fall because my memories revolve around being cold and wet. Memories are funny things, and the older I get, the fuzzier everything gets.

Here are some photos from my most recent excursion.


Here’s a replica of his home.

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How can something so pretty cause so much misery?

It’s that time of year again when I constantly have to blow my nose and clear my throat. On top of that, I always seem to have a persistent slight headache and sinus pressure. For as long as I can remember, spring hits me hard. I know this. But every spring, I’m always taken aback by how miserable I am.

This is my first spring back in Massachusetts in eight years. I’d forgotten how much more I suffer in the Bay State. My first spring in Boston back in 2007 knocked me on my ass, and I was prescribed three types of allergy meds. The combination only alleviated the symptoms to make spring bearable.

I’m back on the three medicines, and it’s possible there’s some whining involved.

Given my track record with spring, you may think it’s my least favorite season. It’s not. The opposite, actually. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. While I can’t have fresh flowers in my home ever, I absolutely love them.

Here are some photos of spring flowers. They’re so pretty it’s impossible to hate them.

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The Garden of the Living

In my last blog post, I mentioned posting photos from the Cotswolds trip I went on with Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss. I do plan to share them but closer to the publication of my Cotswolds novel, which is being critiqued.

Today, I want to tell you about my weekend in Concord, Massachusetts. Even though I lived in Boston, which is about twenty-five minutes away, for six years, I didn’t spend much time in Concord. In fact, I only went when I found out we were moving to the UK. It’s so easy to take places for granted.

Now that I’m back in Massachusetts, I want to explore a bit more. Hence, why I spent a weekend in Concord. It’s a cute town with lots of history. Just in case you don’t know, I’m a history nut!

I moseyed over to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, dedicated in 1855.  This cemetery has several famous authors buried here, including Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. I don’t remember the pens stuck in the ground around Alcott’s grave during my previous visit.

The designers of Sleepy Hollow had close relationships with many members of the Transcendentalism movement, which influenced their design.  According to Emerson, who’d attended the dedication, the end result was, “The garden of the living.”  The cemetery does indeed have a garden feel and many of the trees, plants, and moss were left untouched. 

At one point, I noticed a man and woman, with their dog, returning from a wooded area in the back part of the cemetery, and being the curious type, I decided to see where they’d been. Turns out there’s a dirt trail. I only had on flip-flops, but that didn’t deter me from exploring a bit. When I spied another path that was less traveled, I opted for it. There was quite a bit of brush and fallen branches, so I ended up leaving some blood behind after cutting a toe.

But the history nerd inside me did a happy dance when I found a marker saying the colonial militia had passed through the fields during the Revolutionary War. My injured toe was nothing to what many had gone through during the war.

I wonder where in Massachusetts I’ll explore next.

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A quiet place for exploring and contemplation

Back in 2011, when I moved to Earl’s Court in London, I used to walk through Brompton Cemetery every day with my dog, Miles. I appreciated it since it was a peaceful refuge in my neighborhood. Miles enjoyed not having to deal with the red busses or trash trucks. Man, he hated those and would bark up a storm.

During our strolls, I would mull over whatever story I was working on. One part of the writer’s life that took some getting used to when I went full-time was the fact I never seemed to stop working. When I had an office job, my brain was able to shut out work-related things after I’d clocked out.

As a writer, that’s not the case. Before I actually set about writing and publishing, it wasn’t unusual for me to concoct stories during my downtime. But, when I became a professional writer, the stories I used to fabricate for fun morphed into the source of my livelihood, adding pressure.  

It can be somewhat draining to always work or think about work. However, it’s also exciting to support myself via my writing. And, wandering through the beautiful grounds of Brompton, thinking about the next twist in a story—well, it’s awfully hard to whinge (one of my favorite British words I picked up) about that.

Now that I’m no longer in the UK, I have to find different walking places to spark my imagination. Although, last month, while in London, I popped over to Brompton Cemetery for old times’ sake. I was about to dive into a new writing project, and it seemed fitting to let the ideas for my Cotswolds novel percolate in my head during my stroll.  

Afterward, I headed to my old local pub to jot down ideas. 

A month later, the novel is taking shape. Soon, I’ll share some photos from my weekend trip to the Cotswolds with Clare Lydon, Harper Bliss, and her Mrs.

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The London Book Fair

The first time I attended The London Book Fair was way back in 2012. And I found it completely by happenstance. At the time, I lived in Earl’s Court and I would take my dog Miles (who sadly passed a few years ago) by the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, where the book fair used to be. One day, while escorting Miles to Brompton Cemetery, I spied a sign announcing The London Book Fair would be there the following week.

At the time, I hadn’t published my first book, but I was working on A Woman Lost, and I thought attending would be a good experience as a wannabe published author.

Truthfully, I was sold when I saw the words: book fair.

My first time, I had no idea what to expect. Turned out, I really enjoyed it. Surprise! A book lover fancied a book fair.

Some photos from this trip:

I kept going over the years, until we moved to Dublin in 2016 for eighteen months.

During that time, I started the website I Heart Lesfic and began reaching out to other lesfic authors via email.

Many friendships developed from those emails, including ones with Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss.

In 2018, after moving back to London, I met up with Clare and Harper at the London Book Fair, and we had a blast. This year we attended again. Also, the three of us, along with Harper’s Mrs., traveled to the Cotswolds together in a minivan. It’s hard to get more lesbian than that! The purpose of the trip was to scout out a setting for a series the three of us are working on together.

(From left: Harper Bliss, Clare Lydon, and TB Markinson)

Over the next few months, I’ll share more about the series.

For now, I’ll end with the thought you never know how one thing, like stumbling upon an event, can lead to life-changing events. Embrace experiences, even if they don’t change your professional life, because the friendships you find along the way are so very worth it.

(From left: TB Markinson, Clare Lydon, Harper Bliss, and Harper’s Mrs.)

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A picturesque writing retreat

A few weeks ago, I went on a writing retreat in Hull, Massachusetts. Hull is a town in Plymouth County, and it’s located on the southern edge of Boston Harbor. Most people flock to Hull in the summer, and famous visitors way back in the day included Calvin Coolidge and former Boston mayor John F. Fitzgerald. For those who don’t know, I’m a huge American political history nut, so these connections made me smile.

I went in February, which may sound insane to most of you. Why go to a beach town in the middle of a New England winter?

I needed time away, and I wanted to be close to the ocean. I grew up in Southern California. Salt water flows in my veins. (Okay, this is a slight exaggeration, but I’m a writer, so…)

Each day, I woke relatively early for me (I’m a self-proclaimed morning hater) and had breakfast. Afterward, I worked on an outline for an upcoming writing project. Around two in the afternoon, I went for a stroll along the beach for a couple of hours. After returning to my hotel, I continued working for a few more hours. I rounded out the day by reading a research book for the third book in The Chosen One series, which I’m starting later this year.

Some photos of my walks on the beach:

One day, I only worked for a few hours in the morning, went for a twelve-mile walk along the beach, and then made my way to Fort Revere, which includes the remnants of two seacoast fortifications situated on Telegraph Hill. One of them dates back to the American Revolution, and once the history nerd inside me learned this, there was no way I could skip seeing it. I selected the sunniest day of my retreat to visit.

Along the way was this beautiful resting place. 

Here are photos of the snow-covered fortifications and grounds.

The sunset on my walk back to the hotel.

As for the outline, last week I started drafting the novel, and the project will eventually involve Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss. I’m super excited about it. Keep an eye out for more details.

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