I moved to Highland Park, Illinois six-week into first grade. Little did I know that I’d make lifelong friends, even though I never lived in the Chicagoland area as an adult. Recently, I traveled to Chicago to stay with my oldest friend and to attend a concert at Ravinia Park. The open aired concert venue is in Highland Park and as a kid I saw such people as Don McLean (of ‘American Pie’ fame), Gordon Lightfoot, and Jackson Browne.
This year, I was super excited to see Train.
Like tailgating before a football game, folks at Ravinia enjoy dinner and drinks on the Ravinia lawn where they’ll hang out before venturing to the pavilion or enjoy the concert from that location. Here I am with Lisa, my hostess, and our friend since 2nd grade Lori. We chatted that we couldn’t believe our 50th high school reunion would be in 5 years!!!!!
Train opened the concert by Pat Monahan telling the audience that ‘Drops of Jupiter’ was celebrating its 20th year since its release. A radio DJ once introduced the title song on the radio by mentioning Pat’s soaring vocals. Well, his voice is as strong as ever. I’ve got to rummage through my CDs and find the most beloved CD.
On Saturday, we ventured to the loop to catch up with another friend from first grade. Amy lives next to Lake Michigan and has an amazing view from her condo.
My adventures in my new (old) home in Austin continues.
Just about 90 minutes south of Austin is Fredericksburg, Texas. It’s known for its peaches and great German food. Charles Nimitz, who was the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet during WWII, was born there. The museum covering that part of the war is located in Fredericksburg. The town is just south of Johnson City where the LBJ ranch is located.
Here is the beautiful town library. I believe it was built in the 1840s.
I was also fortunate to go to the traveling Van Gogh experience. If you get a chance to go to this amazing exhibition, don’t miss out. You really get immersed in his amazing art.
As many of you know, in April I moved from Bonita Springs, FL to Austin, TX. I spent many wonderful years in Austin during the 1980s. Not only did I start my 33-year career with Farmers Insurance in Austin, I was also membership chairman of the Austin Chapter of the Sierra Club, worked on political campaigns, visited with my parents, and took many wonderful day trips around the Texas Hill Country with friends and family.
Fast forward to 2021. I’ve got a beautiful view from my balcony to inspire my writing. As life changes with more people being vaccinated, I’m super excited to start a new life in this magnificent city. How can things not be wonderful with sunsets like this in my backyard?
2020 impacted everyone around the world. It caused many of us to reflect on our lives and think about what was important. I loved living in Florida and met many wonderful people, but my heart was in Austin, Texas. Two of my four best friends live in Austin, I was membership chairman of the Sierra Club when I lived there, and I started my 33-year career with Farmers Insurance there. I made the decision in the 4th quarter of last year to move to Austin in the April-June 2021 timeframe.
My life has been crazy starting in February as I prepared to sell the house through April when I moved to Austin. It took a lot of work to stage the condo to place it on the market. All the work was worth it since the condo sold over a single weekend. Then preparing to pack everything I owned and throw out lots of materials I wasn’t taking with me. I donated items to The Goodwill and St. Matthew’s House, reducing what I would bring along with me. Bear Junk Haulers took the larger items that I couldn’t lug to the dumpster.
My tennis friends got together to give me a proper send off at one of my friend’s huge lanai. It went against CDC rules, but we all have been playing tennis together throughout the pandemic. As I said, I leave behind a wonderful group of ladies!!!
Over election week in November 2020, I drove to Austin to check out different apartment complexes. I decided to rent in the beginning since I’d be dealing with a seller’s market and didn’t know if I wanted to deal with homeownership again.
I found a complex with 3-bedroom standalone townhouse rentals. Perfect!!! I selected a unit with an amazing view of the Texas Hill Country. My balcony faces west and I’ve witnessed some amazing sunsets.
Hopefully, my writing muse has followed me to Austin.
I spent election week in Austin, Texas (a 2-day drive for me). My hostess was my friend Katherine who has 9 cats and fostering her father’s 2 cats. Needless to say, I had plenty of cats to play with, reducing how much I missed my 3 babies. Her house was huge, so it was easy to practice social distancing.
She provided me a purple security blanket I wrapped around myself as we watched the election returns. There was also a bowl full of Halloween candy since she didn’t have any trick-or-treaters. I made a significant dent into the fun-size peanut M&Ms.
Thursday night we met my oldest friend for a delicious Tex-Mex dinner on an outdoor deck. I’ve known Lisa since 1st grade! I had shredded chicken with tomatillos salsa sauce. Delicious, below is a COVID-friendly photo where Lisa ducked in front of me.
It was a beautiful Texas fall evening.
Barbara Vey Appreciation Weekend
I was thrilled to be a last minute addition to Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Weekend in Milwaukee. Several years ago, I attended as a reader with my good friend Peggye from Denver. Although I had less than 2 weeks to prepare for the event, with my worlds being purple, it was quite easy to decorate my table. Every table had yummy cupcakes and mine had the cover from Drake’s Nightshade on the top. During the weekend, I also had a blast playing bingo with a wonderful table of incredible women. Two will be joining me in Kansas City for ‘Show Me Your Books’ in September.
In addition, I got to see Shelby at Penned Con as well. The last night we played a variety of games and my team won!!! It was great meeting new readers, since I never attended a conference in Wisconsin as an author. If you love to cruise, keep an eye open for Barbara’s 2021 Cruise. Her 2020 weekend will be April 17-19th. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend, since I’ll be at Weekend with the Authors in Nashville that same weekend.
M.L. Guida and I shared a table at the Penned conference in St. Louis last month. We gave away a Kindle. Here we are with the lucky winner (Yes, one of my readers). Congrats, Annie! Next year I’ll have my own table at Penned Conference. I just have too many books to be sharing a table.
I went to Mexico with my friend, Jackie. Her husband hates the heat, so we head south once a year for the last twenty years together. Each morning we go hiking up the foothills outside my resort and celebrate each night with amazing food. It’s the same hiking path I took when I first started writing and the women from the Worlds Apart series talked to me.
It was great meeting Cecilia at ‘Show Me Your Books’ and seeing her again at Penned Con.
Here are my conference dates for next year. I hope to see as many of you as possible.
- Book Obsessed Babes (BOB) 3/9/2019 signing. St. Augustine, FL
- Space Coast Book Lovers 6/27-30/2019 Cape Canaveral, FL (just west of Cocoa Beach)
Arrive a day early and check out the Kennedy Space Center/NASA. It’s awesome
- Penned Con 9/12-14/2019 St. Louis, MO
- Show Me Your Books NEW DATES 9/19-21/2019 Kansas City, MO
In 2020 I’ll be returning to Weekend with the Authors and Literary Love, Savannah.
One of my favorite things about attending conference is meeting new friends/readers. Many I communicated with via Facebook, but it’s special meeting them face-to-face.
I met Mary at the 2013 Romcon in Colorado Springs. She came to surprise me and another Author in Phoenix in 2015. Well, my day was made when Mary was attending a wedding in Kansas City and came to the Marriott specifically to see me. She’s a dear friend and I didn’t want to let her go.
On of the advantages of being short is being front and enter when a group photo is taken. This was the first ‘Show Me Your Books’ and we had an incredible collection of authors. I was proud to be part of the group.
Here I am with Laura Hawks at the Once Upon A Book Ball. I was the Mad Hatter w/my signature purple hat and the purple cape my sister, Laura got me.
Here I am with author Candy Ann Little. She is always a joy to be around. We met at UtopYA last year and she told me about the fun convention in Frankenmuth, MI. Yes, I will be back next year.
Here I am with Super Reader Tina. It was so much fun visiting with her again. She left with over 100 books, including The Nightshade Saga series.
The ball was visited by Dino and his twins. It was hysterical to see the dinosaurs dancing. Once Upon A Book Convention was a family friendly event.