what’s happening with me …

When March arrives, I think of St. Patrick’s Day and then of the phrase “The luck of the Irish.” Surprisingly, that phrase did not originate in Ireland!

According to Edward T. O’Donnell, an Associate Professor of History at Holy Cross College, “During the gold and silver rush years in the second half of the 19th century, a number of the most famous and successful miners were of Irish and Irish American birth….Over time this association of the Irish with mining fortunes led to the expression ‘luck of the Irish.’ Of course, it carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these fools succeed.”

The double-edged nature of luck has always struck a chord with me. Often when we attribute success to luck, we inadvertently undervalue the effort that went into reaching a particular outcome. That said, most people would argue that you can never have too much good luck. Some covet symbols—horseshoes, four-leaf clovers, acorns, a rabbit’s foot—

hoping those things will call upon lady luck. Luck is also something we wish each other with regard to everything from work, to recovery, to love. We might even pray for it at crucial moments.

But does “luck” really exist? What of phrases like “You make your own luck” and “Luck is preparation plus opportunity.” Certainly some of us have advantages from the outset, and there will always be the occasional examples of “sheer luck” (like a lottery ticket win). Still, I tend to believe that we create most of our luck with our choices and our effort. Perhaps the fact that I’m an American mutt (Italian, English, German, Slovenian) and not Irish explains mixed feelings about luck. Or maybe I have to think this way because it would be disheartening to work so hard if luck truly happened willy-nilly, regardless of effort.

In any case, luck—specifically, bad luck—plays a role in my upcoming release. The protagonist in The Promise of Us had the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the

wrong time and taking a bullet to the hip. That injury left her with permanent nerve damage and ended her promising tennis career. It also left her and her parents with an unhealthy level of worry about bad luck. The story is largely about her journey to embracing life, risk, and love again. I hope you will enjoy it.

For now, I’ve got to get back to writing my 2020 release, IF YOU MUST KNOW. I’m having a ball writing the two sisters in the story. Before I go, let me leave you with my sincere wishes of good luck in all your endeavors.

XO    Jamie

4 Photography Tips from a Pro

I want to thank photographer Jane Beiles, who not only helped me better understand her job so I could write Logan’s character in The Promise of Us, but has also generously agreed to give us all a few tips for better pictures. She informed me that the word etymology of the word “photograph” is “to write with light” from the Greek words “photo” and “graph,” which makes her contribution to this edition quite a nice pairing!

Jane graduated from the University of Michigan with a business degree and minor in Art History. After professional training at ICP in New York City studying architectural and food photography, Jane started her eponymous firm in 2011. She shoots architecture, interiors, food and travel and is a regular contibutor to the New York Times. Her images have been published by Elle Déor, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Conde Nast Traveler, the Washington Post and dozen of other national and regional publications. Recent career highlights include contibuting to the Rizzoli publication “The Best of the New York Times Home Section”, photography for the Elle Decor A-list and a trip to Denmark to shoot “36 Hours in Copenhagen” for the New York Times Travel section. This is one of her gorgeous photos (for more, follow her on Instagram), and here is some of her advice:

4 Pro Tips for Better Photos
(how to “write with light”)

Whether you are equipped with the latest Canon or an iPhone, paying attention to a few simple principles can help anyone take better photos.

1. CONSIDER YOUR LIGHT
Every type of light has a different “temperature,” meaning how warm (towards yellow) or cool (towards blue) the quality of the light is. Be aware of the type of light and take photographs in conditions that are favorable. For example, a room lit by fluorescent lights will have a very blue quality to it, which is not flattering to skin tones. Soft daylight, especially in what is known as the “golden hour”—the time just following sunrise or leading up to sunset—has a soft warm quality that helps subjects be seen in their “best light.” Bright sunlight, as lovely as it is to experience firsthand, is not ideal for photography since the harsh contrast can create strong shadows. If you need to snap a shot at noon on a bright day, look for an evenly shaded area without strong contrast or dappled shadows. Natural light, free of camera flash or electric lights, is my favorite form of photography.

2. LEARN TO USE YOUR SELF-TIMER
Since I specialize in still life subjects such as home interiors and food, I often shoot with a tripod that allows a sharp image with no camera movement, which could cause blur. The act of depressing the camera shutter or even hitting the button on a mobile phone causes some movement that can detract from the final image quality. Even if you’re taking a selfie with an iPhone, familiarize yourself with the little clock icon which gives you 3 or 10 seconds warning before the capture so you’re not struggling to pose and hit the button at the same moment.

3. MAKE THE LEAP TO TWO DIMENSIONS
Every photo is considered a form of abstract art since you are taking a three-dimensional reality and interpreting it in a two-dimensional medium. As a result, what looks wonderful in real life—with space—may be overcrowded when flattened into photo format. Take a moment to adjust your subjects (humans or otherwise) to avoid strange juxtapositions—a step to the side by the photographer or subject can avoid issues such as a tree growing out of a head or an unintended photo bomber in your family holiday card photo.

4. BACK UP! BACK UP! BACK UP!
Take it from me—mother of three children—that accidents can happen that will compromise your digital library. When my three year old discovered magnets and tested one out on my—gulp—computer’s hard drive—I learned the hard way to make sure to back up images. If you keep your photos on a device that could be lost, damaged or stolen (such as a laptop, desktop or phone), you need to back up your images to ensure that your treasures aren’t lost. Dropbox is a great cloud solution and has a handy phone app so one can easily access and share images from anywhere. I also recommend Backblaze as an online backup, which seamlessly runs in the background while you work on your computer.

Have fun and enjoy WRITING with LIGHT!

Reading Recommendations

Tamra Baumann’s Plotting For Murder
A chef whose matchmaking mother has left her a puppy, a bevy of single men to choose from, and a bookshop dedicated to whodunnits, must work with the sheriff who once broke her heart to save her food’s reputation and to solve a crime—whether he wants her help or not!

Shelly Alexander’s It’s In His Forever
Red River’s most eligible bachelor has been keeping secrets…

Donna Kauffman’s Lavender Blue
In the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains lies a small town with a big heart—and a chance to begin again…

Glendy Vanderah’s Where the Forest Meets the Stars
In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.

Reading Recommendations

Tamra Baumann’s Plotting For Murder
A chef whose matchmaking mother has left her a puppy, a bevy of single men to choose from, and a bookshop dedicated to whodunnits, must work with the sheriff who once broke her heart to save her food’s reputation and to solve a crime—whether he wants her help or not!

Shelly Alexander’s It’s In His Forever
Red River’s most eligible bachelor has been keeping secrets…

Donna Kauffman’s Lavender Blue
In the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains lies a small town with a big heart—and a chance to begin again…

Glendy Vanderah’s Where the Forest Meets the Stars
In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.

 

The Promise Of Us

Chapter One

 
Claire would rather stand naked in the middle of Sanctuary Sound’s town green to expose her scars than start this conversation with Steffi. She’d dismissed her father’s warnings about going into business with a friend, certain that she and Steffi could weather any dispute. After all, they’d managed a workable solution to the Peyton problem when Claire couldn’t have imagined anything more difficult. Apparently, her imagination hadn’t worked hard enough. This current mess, Steffi’s beloved 1940s bungalow that had exacerbated their remodeling company’s financial troubles, proved that a personal bond was exactly what made partnership conflicts so sticky.

Before taking her seat, she leaned Rosie—her worn rosewood-and-ivory cane—against a chair at the dining table. Overhead she heard Steffi’s boyfriend, Ryan—his heavy footfall on the bathroom tile, followed by the sound of the waterfall showerhead at full blast.

While Steffi poured them each a mug of hot chocolate, Claire inventoried the recently renovated interior for the millionth time. They’d tested six blends of “Espresso” and “Jacobean” stain before settling on the darkest one for all the floors. A gray glass-tile backsplash and white quartzite counters had been splurges. The assortment of modern lines and rustic, antique finishes might inspire a Town & Country feature, but that didn’t make the project any less fiscally irresponsible.

“Did you highlight your hair this morning?” Steffi grabbed a can of whipped cream from the refrigerator. “Strawberry blonde’s tres chic.”

“Thanks.” Claire threaded her fingers through the front of her hair self-consciously. The impulsive decision had more to do with Peyton’s impending return than with a desire to be stylish.

Peyton Prescott, the other part of the childhood triumvirate Steffi had named the Lilac Lane League. Peyton. For the past eighteen months, any mention of her name had nicked another piece of Claire’s heart. Bad enough that she’d swept through town and bewitched Claire’s then-boyfriend, Todd. Worse that Todd then ran off with Peyton on her travel-writing adventures. Betrayal by a man sucked. Betrayal by a man and a former bestie—although Peyton obviously hadn’t been a true friend—was excruciating.

PREORDER NOW

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events & invitations

events & invitations

Another reminder that you can join me (and MANY more authors) at Booklovers Con in New Orleans in May. Here are the four events I’ll be participating in (in addition to the Book Bash signing). Prizes, books, authors, and readers…what could be better? Hope to see you there!

BLC19 Hyatt Regency New Orleans
This is Us (Women’s Fiction Workshop)
May 16, 10:00am—11:30am

Project Runway: Bridesmaids Edition
May 16, 11:45am—1:15pm

Team Trivia
May 17, 1:30pm—3:00pm

Small Town Romance Reader Carnival
May 17, 3:30pm—5:00pm

The winner of this month’s Birthday Bunch gift box is:

Jennifer Cowan

Congrats!

*I’ve added a new feature to the Birthday Bunch, but it only works if I have your birth month and day. If you haven’t already done so, please update your newsletter subscription by putting your email address into the form on my Contact page and then choosing the popup that says: Click here to update your profile. You’ll then get an email that tells you how to update your preferences. Thanks!

Let’s wish a happy birthday to the March Birthday Bunch!
Kim Adams, Patricia Adams, Nathathida Adireksarn, Valerie Baca, Sharon Baker, Andra Baley, Brenda Barozinsk, Jeanette Barretto, Catherine Bates, Sarah Behmlander, Dana Buessink, Kelley Blair, Cheri Boyd, Dorothy Cardon-Daily, Sallie Charnet, Gail Chianese, Katheleen Ciambella, John Clark, Debbie Corey, Jennifer Cowan, Terrill Curtis-Ocampo, Dot Day, Jeanne Dembenski, Cathy Dianora, Donna Draper, Patty Duplechin, Lisa Evans, Lorelei Frank, Patricia Fredrickson, Gretchen Gionti, Deb Goff, S Golding, Nancy Goodart, Kelly Greaver, Candy Grigsby, Jane Haertel, Brenda Hahn, Misty Handa, Bette Hansen, Michele Harvey, Amanda Hash, Gina Hester, Debbie Houk, Susan Hummell, Trisha Jeffrey, Karen Jernigan, Wanda Jones, Nicole Kirsche, Nathan Lamirand, Carol Luciano, Joyce Lynne, Stella Mallory, Barbara Markley, Leandra Massey, Ruth McNeil, Janice Mess, Kellie Metzker, Penny Mooney, Heather Mulvihill, Linda Myers, Patricia Myers, Kathleen O’Donnell, Susan Parkes, MaryAunn Patterson, Kay Patton, Sandra Rankin, Debbie Riel, Cecelia Rodriguez, Jill Roper, Allyson Rowley, Katheleen Schassler, Dawn Schlauderaff, Margie Shaw, Robin Sliker, Jane Squires, Gale Sroelov, James Swack, Kat Taylor, Connie Thompson, Angela Torres, Latricia Townsend, Elizabeth Urgelles, Beth Wagner, Toni Watson, Nicole Watson, Patty Weaver, Monica Webster, Rhonda Wilson, Janetta Wisniewski, Heidi Wood, and lindalatina33, cdsut7, sraineyd, vackeen, sheilamiss56, kazzie47, atram345, and molinda!