Friday, March 12, 2010

When others share the same passions

Isn't it terrific when you meet people who share something special with you? You know that fellow feeling when you discover a reader who loves the same style of stories or authors? Someone whose childhood reminscences remind you of yours. Maybe someone going through the same life-changing experiences as you (I remember bonding for life with other first time mums over discussions of late night feeds, lack of sleep, first steps and so on). Going to my first ever romance writers' conference felt like that - just wonderful.

Recently I visited Melbourne, a city I've always enjoyed. But what made it particularly special was catching up with some kindred spirits. Romance writers who love a good natter, a good book and are great company to boot! Here I am with the lovely Serena Tatti and Josie Caporetto. Serena and Josie are book lovers and writers, whose warmth always makes a trip south a treat. They're also wonderfully generous with their time and knowledge of all things Italian, which has been terrific, especially while writing my current book FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET-LOVE CHILD, which they're holding.

Josie and Serena belong to the Melbourne Romance Writers' Guild. You can see me with a few of the Guild members here. For anyone in the vicinity of Melbourne, interested in writing romance, look them up on the web. They're a dynamic and positive group who impressed me with their professionalism, their enthusiasm and their deep appreciation of chocolate! You can't see the chocolate in this photo, but believe me it was there. It was wonderful walking into a room of mainly strangers and feeling at home so quickly. Probably because of our shared delight in romance. And possibly chocolate!

Another major plus about visiting Melbourne is that my friends there share with me a robust interest in research. How can I write about fantastic Italian heroes in gorgeous settings if I don't fully appreciate the local cuisine? Just as well my friends know just the places to try Italian specialities such as fragrant coffees and cakes so devastatingly delicious I'm sure I put on weight just looking at them. But that didn't matter, for the time passed so quickly and I'm sure all that talk and laughter must have burnt off the calories. A visit to Brunetti's with women who know their way around the cake counter is an experience not to be missed! And just for the record, here's the cake counter, or one of them at least.

Do you have friends you meet up with after long absences and feel you've never been away from? What sort of things connect you? Shared experiences, shared weaknesses, shared sense of humor?

Annie's thrilled to have two books on sale at the moment. FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD is an April Presents Extra that's available now. It has a luscious Italian hero who lives in one of the most gorgeous places Annie has ever visited. THE SHEIKH'S CINDERELLA is a UK anthology which includes her award winning THE SHEIKH'S RANSOMED BRIDE. If you want to find out more about either story, or enter her contest to win free books, visit her website


Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, Annie! Congrats on having two wonderful releases out there this month.

Oh, I can't take my eyes off that showcase of pastries! I have a dear friend in Melbourne - or Bleak City as he calls it - and we always meet up to indulge our foodie weaknesses whenever I'm there.

Of course, I also love catching up with my writing buddies (including you, Ms West!). It's hard living so far apart, but that makes our rare face-to-face visits so much sweeter. Especially since we usually end up at the Lindt cafe!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Miss Annie, I adore those photos of Brunetti's! Reminds me of that wonderful breakfast we all had there back when the last Melbourne Conference was on. What fun! Josie and Serena, waving madly in your direction. You girls are great! Love that photo too of the three of you clutching that fabulous new release of yours. That's such a great story - really romantic and heart-wrenching. Oh, and Alessandro is so gorgeous and mixed up! Yum!

Vanessa, it is hard when we all live so far apart now, isn't it? I miss you guys and hanging out in cool places like Oscillate Wildly in Sydney. Thank goodness for the internet!

denise said...

Congrats on new releases. Wow. They look great.

Annie West said...

Oh Vanessa, isn't it nice to catch up over food? It does make the occasion even more special. You must have a ball indulging foodie weaknesses in Melbourne - there's so much to choose from!

As for the Lindt Cafe - it's wonderful catching up there, isn't it? I'm afraid I've now inadvertantly developed a weakness in my children - they believe no trip to Sydney is complete without a visit there.

Annie West said...

Hi Anna, yes breakfast at Brunetti's was fantastic. What I noticed this time, apart from the fantastic food and atmosphere, was the fact that when I got together with friends in Melbourne again, it as if we'd just picked up a conversation we'd been having a couple of days ago instead of it being over a year since we got together face to face. That's such a nice feeling!

I'm not sure Josie and Serena will be popping by today. I know they're going away for a weekend treat.

Anna, I love the sound of Oscillate Wildly! Especially if the company is as great as the name.

Annie West said...

Hi Denise,

Thanks very much. I'm pleased as punch to have these two out. I really love the cover of 'Forgotten Mistress, Secret-Love Child'. You can't see it in the US cover that I posted here, but in the UK and Australian editions you see Carys almost full length and she's holding a lovely masquerade mask in one hand - it's the night of a masked ball. I think that's a lovely touch.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Annie, Oscillate Wildly's fantastic. These days it's really hard to get a table. In the past you had to book weeks in advance, even if you want a Tuesday night, and now they don't take bookings at all. Worth the wait, though!

Anna, I miss you too! Waahhh!

Annie West said...

Vanessa, I lead such a quiet life, the idea of going to a place called Oscillate Wildly seems so adventurous!

Okie said...

Hi, Annie. Congrats on the new release :)

One of my dearest friends still lives in the small town we grew up in, I've known her since grade school. I visit my folks twice a year so I always make time to visit with her for a few days and we pick up right where we left off. We love desserts! One of the things we always do is visit a little French dessert cafe and eat till we feel sick :))

Okie said...

Hi, Annie. Congrats on the new release :)

One of my dearest friends still lives in the small town we grew up in, I've known her since grade school. I visit my folks twice a year so I always make time to visit with her for a few days and we pick up right where we left off. We love desserts! One of the things we always do is visit a little French dessert cafe and eat till we feel sick :))

-Okie B

Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, Annie, I think I'm going to have to make Serena and Josie my new best friends because Brunetti's (oh all those cakes!) looks just the place to go!

Though I will admit the covers on your TWO new releases look pretty scrummy too :-)

Your description of catching up with Serena and Josie reminded me of the RWAust conference-- such effortless fun and exuberance! I can't wait till August.

Pat Cochran said...

Hello, Ms. Annie,

My high school graduation class
has met every five years since we
left school in 1954. (I served on
the reunion committee for over 30
of those years.) When we all get
together it is as if we last met
last week! We are all good friends
and some of us have known each other since the first grade back in 1942!

Pat Cochran

Annie West said...

Okie, that sounds like a special sort of friendship. It must be to endure like that!

My brain is boggling at the sound of a French dessert cafe. Goodness! I bet there's a lot of talking that goes on at those sessions.

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle,

Well, it's an unforgettable experience, even if you don't indulge in the cakes. Even the salads there are very, very tasty.

How interesting that you mention going to conferences. It's a bit like that there too. I always seem to spend my time trying to catch up with people I only see once a year and there's never quite enough time. I love the feeling though, of picking up a good friendship again and building on it, when most of the time the exchange is long distance. It's so exciting to be face to face with friends again.

Annie West said...

Hi Pat,

Wow, that's some achievement! To get together every 5 years for so long you must have built some wonderful friendships there. I wonder if that means that your families know each other too?

We had a lovely experience recently with a very long term friendship. My husband had a penpal overseas at school when he was learning another language. They kept in touch through the years and he went to his friend's wedding. We've been to visit them in Europe and they've caught up with us here. Then recently his friend's daughter came to study in our home town and we had enormous fun showing her around. The relationships have grown wider with the children involved and stronger.

I hope your renions continue strongly!

Annie West said...

Ah, I did mean 'reunions' in that last post.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Annie, why do I suddenly feel so hungry after reading your blog?
I love writers conferences for a chance to catch up with wonderful writing friends who "get" what we do and can talk about it for hours and hours on end without ever tiring! (And those friends include you!)

Sharon Archer said...

Those relationships that don't seem to be effected by time apart are golden, aren't they, Annie! And my gorgeous writing pals (like you, Annie) are just so easy to feel right at home with! I can't wait to see you all at the conference!

I have a Welsh friend who I used to share a house with. She's gone back to Wales now so we only see each other once in a blue moon. But when we together on the phone that connection is as strong as ever and it's always a loooooong phone call!

Sounds like you had a magic time in Melbourne with Serena and Josie! And all the lovely wicked cakes! Yum! :)

Hey, I love both those covers you've put up too!

Annie West said...

Kandy, you're so sweet. I look forward to our very rare get togethers too. I have to say I can't wait till the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Coogee in August - and not just for the tremendous views out over the coast! The line up looks great and, as you say, catching up with others so focused on romance is just wonderful. Thanks for all your hard work on this one!

Annie West said...

Hi Sharon, yes, I have to admit I'm thrilled with those covers (and the books!).

Your get togethers with your Welsh friend sound wonderful. I have a friend in Dublin and though we don't chat often, when we do it's always for a long session. Lots of fun! It's just a shame she's not round the corner so we could natter more often - though maybe then I wouldn't get my work done.

You'll have to make a visit to Melbourne for the cakes and the good company.

Mary said...

It is wonderful to meet others who have the same passion you do. there's nothing more fun than having time with other people who you can talk with about what you love.

Serena said...

Hi Annie,
How lovely to see you here - and thanks for mentioning the Melbourne Romance writers Guild - we loved having you there as our guest. It was a great day :) And as for Brunetti's - that was a great day too :) How can you go wrong with good food and good friends?

Hi Anna, can't wait to catch up with you again, too! Can you hear Brunetti's beckoning?

Hi Michelle,
Any time you plan to be in Melbourne, please let me know and I'll make sure we plan a trip to Brunetti's. It would be our pleasure :)

Hi Sharon,
Hey guess where Josie, Elvina, Margaret and I were today? Ballarat! Went to see the Queen (as in Freddie Mercury) Exhibit there. What a great day with great friends.

Hi to everyone else too.

MargaretM said...

Hi Annie,
Brunetti’s was fun and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit our group and give your wonderful, motivating talk.
Friends, ah, where would we be without them? I believe being able to relax, talk and laugh with friends you only manage to catch up with infrequently is a sign of true friendship. Love your fantastic books.
Cheers, Margaret Waving from Melbourne.

Virginia said...

Hi Annie, congrats on your new releases! I do have a special friend like that and we don't see each other often but it is so fun when we do! I got a nice little card from her this morning that had a package of tea and a quilted coaster in it. It was so nice to here from her!

Ebony McKenna. said...

Hi Annie,
I'm so pleased you had a great time at our meeting - I think the reason there is no chocolate in the photo is we'd probably eaten it all by then.

I have velcro-bonded with the MRWG - I would not be where I am without them.

Cheryl Wright said...

Hi Annie,

It was so wonderful having you at the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild (MRWG) meeting.

Everyone is still talking about your visit!

From my perspective, it felt like we were old friends, when in fact we'd never met before.

I hope you'll come and visit us again next time you're in Melbourne. (And next time, I'm definitely coming to Brunetti's even if I am diabetic!!)


Fiona Lowe said...

So sorry I missed you when you were down. The cakes look fab and the books will be wonderful as always :-)

Annie West said...

Mary, it's great, isn't it? When you find someone who shares a passion of yours it's a great feeling. We've got new neighbours and I just discovered they're great readers - not romance but lots of other things. We've had a wonderful time discussing books.

Annie West said...

Serena, you need to be careful or everyone will be after you to take them to Brunetti's. Sigh - that would be so hard...

Hope the trip to Ballarat for the Queen exhibit was as good as you'd hoped. I'm sure you all talked and laughed all the way.

Annie West said...

Hi Margaret, it's lovely to see you here. I didn't mention you in the blog as you'd escaped the photo...Devious woman.

Hope you're having a great weekend filled with fantastic books.

Annie West said...

Oh Virginia, your friend sounds like a doll! How nice to get such a thoughtful gift out of the blue! I bet catching up with her is a real treat.

Annie West said...

Hi Ebony, it was great to catch up with you in Melbourne, and to see 'Ondine'. I'm so looking forward to its release!

You could be right about the chocolate having disappeared. Of course I, the epitome of self control (ha!) didn't eat much but when you use chocolate as a reward for meeting your month's writing goals, it's a great incentive to get working and then to indulge. What a brilliant idea.

Annie West said...

Hi Cheryl,

It was such a fun day with the MRWG. Possibly because it's such a warm, friendly group, yet so focused. You must be thrilled to be part of such a group.

I'd love to call in again sometime - and not just for the choccies!

Annie West said...

Aw, gee, Fiona, thanks for the kind words about the books.

It would have been nice to catch up in person. Since I got back home I seem to have been frantic too. Next time I'm going to be more organised in the hope we can actually see each other!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Annie,
It was lovely meeting you at the MWRG meeting, thank you so much for saying suchnice things about us.The pleasure was all ours.


Annie West said...

Hi Margaret,

This is great - I'm getting to 'see' a lot of you Melbourne girls all over again! Thanks for your hospitality on my visit. As you can see, it's stuck in my mind.

Sue A. said...

When I meet up with old friends, you want to share one of the other things you miss and that's usually a favorite eatery. And of course you want to catch up on all the gossip!

Annie West said...

Hi Sue,

You sound like a girl after my own heart. That's just the way it is. I love finding somewhere cosy for a good natter, and if that happens to involve scrumptious goodies, I don't object.

Elvina said...

Hi Annie, glad you enjoyed your Melbourne visit. It was great to show you around Brunetti's and the MRWG.

Next time you're in Melbourne, we can organise another cake fix for you and you can join us at the MRWG meeting.


Annie West said...

Elvina, that's so tempting. How could I possibly resist?