Monday, July 29, 2013

The Queen's Feast

  I love this time of year! It’s restaurant week, aka the Queen’s Feast, here in the Charlotte area. Certain restaurants in Charlotte (known as the Queen City), and the surrounding areas, offer three (or more) course dinners for $30 per person. This price does not include tax or gratuity. This is a great way to sample the local flare of some of the areas hottest upscale restaurants.

  Every year the Charmed One and I like to sample at least one or two different restaurants during this ten day event. The other night we sat down and scoped out two different restaurants. After careful consideration we chose one and made reservations. Saturday night we hopped in the car and drove to our dinner destination, Nick’s Steak and Taphouse.

  *This is not a restaurant review, trust me!*

  We like to sample different restaurants for when people come to visit. It doesn’t happen too often, but it is good to have a place or two in the back pocket for such occasions. Apparently here in Podunk we don’t have a restaurant good enough to participate in such a cool activity. I believe the closest restaurants were about twenty miles away.

  Part of the reason we chose this particular restaurant is that it is in an old 1920s theater. It was beautifully restored. The old brick walls warmed me. They have a large screen where old movies are always playing. An upper balcony offers more seating. The kitchen is open air so you can watch the food being prepared. The atmosphere is charming.

  If you follow me regularly you know I love the city of Savannah, Georgia. One big reason I love that city is because of its rustic beauty. It is a city that has old buildings, old cobblestone streets, and historic charm. I love when things are restored instead of just torn down. I love imagining the stories the old walls can tell. I could imagine many stories after sitting in that restaurant for a couple hours.

  It is a good thing we went too. Just an hour before we left the Charmed One received a call from The Dad. It seems The Dad and his wife will be stopping by for a very surprise visit this coming week. Charmed and I have been together for ten years and this will be only the third time we will have a get together with The Dad. I love them to pieces, but this is the man who constantly calls me Shelly. *sigh* Honestly, I’ve been Kelly all my life. I’m kind of used to it. I really don’t answer when I hear someone say Shelly! Don’t get me wrong, I want to see them, it's just I want to wear a name tag when he’s around. :)

  Now we have somewhere new to take them. The food was good, the service spectacular. And the craft beers they had on tap will be just enough to help me get through an evening with someone named Shelly. 
I couldn't help myself!

 Does your area host a restaurant week? Do you like experimenting with new restaurants, or do you stick with what you know? Do you have any advice for me when trying to subtly correct my name? Should I just let it go and fall into a third personality? :)  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Romance Writers Atlanta- Part 2

  Now, for the continuation of our Hallmar... Oops. This is not a Hallmark movie. Okay, back to reality. If you are just stopping by I highly suggest you read my previous rant, that way you will be familiar with what I'm talking about today. This is the second of two about my trip to Atlanta. The trip of all trips. The trip I still find myself shaking my head over. So, without further ado, here is the second half of what I call the Time Of My Life.

  After leaving the meet and greet with the authors of The Goddess Blogs I went and got in line for the literacy signing. If I had to guess there was easily 500 people in line in front of me. While waiting though I met Golden Heart nominee (Paranormal genre) Tara Sheets. She was a beautiful and wonderful person who I thoroughly enjoyed talking with. Then the time came. The doors swung open and the fans flocked into the ballroom that held 450 authors. I walked in and tried to figure out my plan of action. Table after table held authors of various romance genres. Most went alphabetically, with some of the more famous authors having special spots at the far end of the ballroom.

  The first author I kind of fell into was Carla Neggers. I met Mrs. Neggers two years ago at a book signing she had in Savannah. When I walked up to her she recognized me instantly. After trying unsuccessfully to remember my name, then admitting she’s horrible with names, she told me she remembered meeting me in Savannah. Unbelievable. We talked for quite a while about writing, the publishing industry, and Ireland. She has a great personality, and is another one of those people that I could have talked to for a long, long time. During that conversation another woman walked up and started chatting with us. Carla introduced me by saying, "Kelly, this is my friend, Stella Cameron." Wow. As far as I'm concerned Stella Cameron is another power house author. What a privilege.

The lovely Jill Shalvis!
  Next I went to my fave, Barbara O’Neal. I’ve won many autographed books from TGB, but I have never won one of Barbara’s. It also gave me a couple more minutes to talk to her. If you ever get the chance I would highly recommend reading one, or ten, of her books. She is the most descriptive author I’ve read. Her voice is phenomenal. I’m humbled that I got to spend time with this lovely, brilliant, kind woman. Thank you, Miss Barbara for making me come out of this shell a little bit.

  I then sought out another one of my favorites, Jill Shalvis. Other than TGB I do visit Jill’s blog almost daily. I loved her from the get-go. She’s another phenomenal writer. She’s funny, and her voice is outstanding. She told me to wear the tiara, it went well with my shirt and eyes. Unfortunately the photo is a little blurred, but I don’t care. I was in another world. This is just the evidence.

She's tall, but she had heels on too!
  I met and got autographed books from Robyn Carr, Susan Mallery, and Candice Terry. Last but not least I found myself in line for the talented Kristan Higgins. She was funny. And tall. Right as this picture was snapped she was trying to lower herself to my level.

  The one and only Nora Roberts was there as well, but her line was very, very long. I think just standing ten feet away from her was good enough. Any more and they may have had to pick me up off the floor!

  The day started off with me visiting the beautiful Georgia Aquarium. It ended with me sitting on cloud nine. What an experience it was to meet some of my heroes. It was a day I’ll never forget. It was one of the best days of my life.

  Have you ever heard of any of these authors? Have you ever gone to a big book signing?  What was one of the best days of your life? 

Weekly Planting Information (W.P.I.)- The most important thing I have to say about gardening is this:

Having good soil is the key to successful vegetable gardening.

If you take the time to nurture your soil, you will be rewarded with healthy crops and a beautiful garden environment. Crop rotation is great for the soil. Using organic fertilizer, organic weed controls, compost, and mulch will all add to your soil as well.



Monday, July 22, 2013

Romance Writers Atlanta- Part 1

    Back-story: I go to a blog called The Goddess Blogs every day. The Goddess Blogs consist of ten wonderful authors who take turns blogging about whatever their little heart’s desire. I’ve gone there almost daily for a couple years. In that amount of time, if you look hard enough, you can kind of get to know people. To my surprise one of the authors from TGB sent a friend request to me on Facebook. Wow. I was shocked. I still am to this day, and now we follow each other on Instagram, as well. I think of it as a very cool cyber-friendship.

  If you follow along you know I went to Atlanta last week to attend the Readers for Life Literacy Autographing. I was super excited to meet some of my favorite romance authors. Before the signing though the authors from TGB held a little meet and greet of their own.

  As promised I now give you the story of how this became one of the best days of my life.

  I stepped up to the door and heard many voices coming from inside the room. The latch was flipped to keep the door open a tiny bit. I hesitated and took a deep breath. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I would hate myself if I wasted it. One more deep breath and in I went. My nerves were working overtime. I was anxious yet hesitant. When I looked up and saw how many people were in the room I wanted to turn and bolt right back out the door. Then one person smiled, and another waved. I looked around the room and locked eyes with the one person I so desperately wanted to meet. My mouth was as dry as the dessert. How my body moved at all is still a wonder, but the next thing I knew I was standing right in front of my cyber-friend, and author I look up to, Barbara O’Neal.

  I felt a goofy grin growing on my face. I think I even reached out a hand to shake hers as I introduced myself. (At least my brain was somewhat functioning.) I remember saying, “I’m Kelly Watson.” Miss Barbara replied with a kind smile, “I thought that was you. I love your pictures.”

  Now, if I were smart I would have replied, “I love your books.” But I’m apparently not quick, I’m thick. My response was, “Thanks, yours aren’t so bad either!” I guess I'm lucky that at least a somewhat understandable sentence came out of my mouth, but I spoke the truth. I would like each and every one of her pics she puts on Instagram, but I don’t want to seem… Dorky? Stalker-ish? Nerdy? You get my meaning. We spoke for a while, the whole time I was thinking don’t say something stupid, don’t say something stupid. I tried not to let my nerves show, but I think it was about impossible not to see. We talked a little about writing, and she asked what workshops I would be attending. I think I saw a flicker of disappointment cross her eyes when I told her I regretfully had to leave the following day and could not attend any workshops. Maybe it was my own disappointment I saw reflected in her eyes. I know a beginning writer needs all the help they can get, and a few of those topics being covered I would've loved to gobble up, but right now I'm getting a business off the ground and could not be away any longer. 

  Time went on and I mingled with a few people. I even signed an autograph for a woman on Sabrina Jeffries street team. When I looked at the autographs of all the Goddesses I told her I couldn’t put my name on there with them. Not yet anyways. She laughed and turned it over and had me sign the back.

  I met some people I see responding on TGB. I met some other authors that popped in. I talked briefly with TGB authors Madeline Hunter and Lori Austin. I think I even caught a glimpse of author Rachel Gibson. Author Claudia Dain’s personality overwhelmed me. I liked her before I met her, now I like her even more. As time dwindled away I made my way back to Miss Barbara. I had to be a total fan girl and get a picture, but we ended up in another conversation. My nervousness slipped away and I started to let the enormity of the moment hit me. This is something that I may never experience again. I tried to store away every conversation, every laugh. When it was time to go I asked the lovely and talented Christie Ridgway to take a picture of Miss Barbara and I. That even turned out to be a funny little episode. Five pictures later we finally got one that worked for Miss Barbara. I’ll show you the one that worked for me. Oh, and Goddesses wear tiaras!
My favorite...
I think this was the one Miss Barbara liked!

  This is the first of two of my rants about this trip. Please come back Thursday for more about Barbara, and the actual literacy signing.

  Who is one of your favorite authors? Have you ever had the chance to meet someone you look up to? Are you one who never lets their nerves show?


Thursday, July 18, 2013


  I made it! I am in Atlanta, and by the time this is published I will have been to the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing. I’m sure for Monday’s rant I will have many stories to tell. For now let’s just say that I am here and I am trying to find some green inside this concrete jungle.

  I don’t want to overdose you on my little trip so let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about music today, okay? I’m not the techiest person on the planet. A couple weeks ago while visiting a friend I noticed this tiny speaker that was emitting sound as clear as day. When I inquired about it my friends told me it was playing the music off their iPhone. How cool!

  My MP3 player has been… misplaced. I did have my music on a cloud though, so I just put them all on my phone. Can you see Kelly stepping into 2013? It just so happens I have been listening to a lot of music lately, so I’ve been downloading songs to boot. Now we went and bought one of those neat little speakers, and at any given time you may see me dancing and singing throughout the house. Thankfully the neighbors are far enough away that they can’t see this, because it is funny.  
I may look like this when I'm into it!

  I listen to just about everything. Since starting this writing gig I realize that many writers have a “playlist” they listen to while writing. I’ll admit that during my first book I listened to Breathe (2AM) by Anna Nalick a lot. Broken by Seether was my song of choice for my second book. I guess I’m more of a one song type of person when it comes to my preference. For me it is hard enough to find one song to fit my thought process! I do find it amazing that certain songs go hand in hand with novels.

  When I actually listened to the words of this next song I couldn’t believe how they fit into the story I’m writing at the moment. The song is entitled Clarity by Zedd, featuring Foxes. Not all aspects of the song are perfect, but I’d say 95% goes. If you haven’t heard it here is the link to the video. (Sorry about the commercial in the beginning.)

  For fun I’m also listening to Phillip Phillips, The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, and Mumford and Sons. Oh, and P!nk. I’m always listening to P!nk. If I stray to country I go toward Carrie Underwood, but I will say I haven’t listened to much country the last couple of years. Some of my older rock favorites are AC/DC and Aerosmith, stuff like that. Then, if you really care to know sometimes I listen to Irish music!

  What is on your playlist? What is your music genre of choice? Do you know if your favorite authors use playlists? Are you techy?

W.P.I.- I have been fortunate enough to see many butterflies lately in my flower beds. Plant nectar rich flowers like beebalm, butterfly weed, cardinal flower, coneflowers, daisies, Joe Pye weed, milkweed and mallow to attract butterflies to your garden. These are just a few examples of plants that attract butterflies. To learn more visit your local cooperative extension office!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Atlanta or Bust

  Hello, everyone! How are you? Can I just say that you look nice today? Really, you do!

  The last time I talked to you I told you all a little about myself. One thing I didn’t tell you was that I have self diagnosed myself with having anxiety. It has progressively got worse over the last couple of months. I don’t know what it is. I just hate to leave the house. Sadly, I must leave the house so I deal with the symptoms. Why am I telling you this now?

  It is Sunday afternoon as I write this. For the past couple of weeks I have been mulling an idea around in my head, but couldn’t quite see how I could make it happen. This afternoon that all changed. As of Tuesday morning I will push my anxiety to the max when I, Kelly Watson, will brave the great wide open until I reach the HUGE city of Atlanta. By myself. That’s right, I have to put on my big girl pants, brave driving in seven lanes of traffic, and explore Hotlanta with no one but me to keep me company! And deep down I’m excited. Well, I’m not excited about Podunk Country Girl becoming Sophisticated City Girl, but I’m up for the challenge. Just don’t let anxiety know. ;)

  Why Atlanta? *an evil grin takes over my face*

  For Christmas I received a membership to the RWA (Romance Writers of America.) The RWA is a phenomenal group that is dedicated to helping romance writers through networking, advocacy, and education. Every year they have a conference where they hold workshops, have an awards banquet, and have a “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing. More than 400 Romance authors meet with and sign their books for fans. The proceeds from the book sales go to literacy organizations. I imagine you can guess where this conference is this year? That’s right, Atlanta. 

  We’ve had a lot going on over the past couple months here. I like to say we have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment. I really didn’t think this dream of mine would come to life. Every day that drew nearer my want to go grew. Finally today the Charmed One eased my fears, and I booked the room. I will be attending the Literacy Autographing and maybe one other get together. Let’s hope those fears stay away.
The first author I will seek out!

  I’m so excited. I am chomping at the bit to meet some of my favorite romance authors such as Barbara O’Neal, Jill Shalvis, Robyn Carr, Lori Austin, and Carla Neggers. (Yes I’ve met Mrs. Neggers before, but I’d love to meet her again!) These are the writers I look up to and hope to join the ranks of one day. These are my rock stars!

Author extraordinaire Jill Shalvis.
  Let’s just hope my friend Anxiety doesn’t rear its ugly head!

  Maybe I’ll have some good stories for you come Thursday!

  Do you suffer from anxiety? Do you ever travel alone? Have you ever been a part of any groups or organizations?  


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beware-This Is The Real Me

 Something has set me off. I’m just going to forewarn you. So yea, I’m a red head and I’ll be the first to admit, I have a temper. But that is me. And that is one thing what makes me who I am. Maybe it’s time to introduce you to the real me. The real Kelly. Beware though, I’m only me, and I cannot be everything everyone expects.

  My name is Kelly, and I live in North Carolina. Do I like it here? Eh. It’s a take it or leave it. I long to be somewhere else, but that will happen later. Sometimes I get extremely frustrated by being here. Honestly some people here think they are living by the rules of the past, where blacks were treated worse than dirt and not really regarded as human. The somewhere I long to be is more open to human behaviors and lifestyles. People’s minds are more open to seeing life in more than just black and white.

  I don’t see in black and white. I see many colors. I see cheery yellows and rejoice in them. I see lush, vivid green and smile. I see darks like gray and black and feel my mood change in the tiniest of ways. I see all people as human, no matter their color, sex, or lifestyle preference. Since I’ve started writing I try to see more than what is on the outside. I want pieces of what is inside. I want to see a mother’s love for her child in her eyes. I want to see tears of joy, or sorrow. That is a small part of me.

  I, Kelly, am extremely shy. The Charmed One tells me I have come a long way in that department, but I tend to wonder. Ask any of the people I used to work with. Some people have even mistaken me for being mean because I am so quiet. Trust me when I tell you, I’m not mean, unless you make me that way.

  I’m very personal. Not very many people know the whole Kelly. I don’t feel comfortable with many people knowing the real me. It’s an acceptance thing with me. I guess in a way I feel that if people knew the real me they wouldn’t accept me. I also know that is not fair on my part, but I’m sorry. My heart has been hurt enough in the past to make me this way.

  Here are parts of me. I love nature and animals. I do want to be a writer in the worst way. Sometimes when I post a picture or write something on a social network my words may not be the most descriptive. I’m sorry. Every time I sit and write a blog or a novel I try and pour my heart and soul into it. If I’m not perfect on something social networking wise- sorry, I’m human. To the person who dropped me from Instagram after I posted a picture of a shot and beer I was drinking the other night because it was the two year anniversary of my brother’s death- I’m sorry. I like to drink. That is a small part of me. Every picture I posted until that point was either of places I’ve visited or flowers. Sorry to give someone another actual piece.

I loved kayaking... on land!
  Here’s more of me. I grew up in a rural area in New York. I had three older brothers, and most of my neighbors were boys. If I wanted to fit in I had to learn how to play sports and be tougher than most other girls. I don’t wear frilly dresses. This is the first time in my life I’ve had long hair. Take from that what you may. Many other people do. I try not to assume. I have no idea what happens in someone else’s life behind closed doors.

  I love to make people laugh. I’ve even been honored with such dubious awards like the Class Clown! I like sports. Hockey is my favorite of all. As a matter of fact the hero of my second book is a hockey player dealing with post concussion syndrome. That book is a contemporary romance. That’s right I love to read and write romance. I also love to garden. The heroine of my first novel owns an ornamental tree and shrub nursery. The research for that one consisted of eight years running a nursery. Again, this is just me. Since leaving that job I have gained ten pounds. Am I happy about that? NO. My BF’s husband saw me and said, “Wow, you’ve gained weight.” Yep, thanks for the reminder.

  Beware- I am just me. I cannot be anything more than that. I may not be a true writer in every sense of the word. Yet. Give me time. I may be not what you expected, but do you see things in black and white or color? I may be against things you stand for. If that is the case I am sorry. I’ll miss you if you don’t come back.

  I try to be a good, kind person all day every day. I realize that everyone has their own story, and their own lives. What happens behind their doors is their business. I try to accept people for who they are as an individual, even if we don’t agree on every subject. I know that nobody is perfect. I’m far from it, and never strive to be perfect as an individual. I’m flawed in many ways, and admit to it.

  There’s my rant. A little get to know me session that maybe I went too far on. Oops.

  Do you have times when you just want to scream because something sets you off? Do you let things get to you, or do you brush them off? Do you see a lot of prejudice in your area of the world? Do you know me any better? Do you want to know less of me?

W.P.I. - Did you know some herbs can help to ease health issues or prevent bigger health problems? For example, peppermint is used often to help indigestion. Used in a tea it can help ease sore throats and nasal congestion. Lemon balm has been used to treat tension, anxiety, and restlessness. Herbal remedies have been used for centuries. When is the last time you used an herb for an ailment?  


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Flag Men (Happy 4th of July)

  Happy 4th of July everyone!

  For all of you that visit me from another country- Happy Thursday! J

  So for this holiday I decided I wasn’t going to give you all precious facts about the day like- More than one in four hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July are estimated to be originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to about 19 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2011, more than one-fourth of the nations estimated total. North Carolina and Minnesota are also home to a large numbers of pigs. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service) No, I’m not going to do that, I’m making this an Independence Day Women’s Only Blog! Well, men can read it, but after about another paragraph you will probably want to close your eyes. So men, consider yourself forewarned.

  Why be so giving? I figure many of my female counterparts may be stuck in the kitchen, preparing food for a picnic, getting children ready for a parade, or carnival, etc. So I wanted to give just a couple minute reprieve from the hustle and bustle of this holiday. I would like to introduce you to three very patriotic hunks. I originally wanted to set this up like the old game show The Dating Game, but A) That would show my age a little, and B) There really is no way to ask these contestants a question. Instead I bring you Independence Day Hotness…

  First let’s meet… This is… Oh my! Really do we care what his name is? This is patriotic hottie (do peeps still say this word?) Number 1. Good thing the flag is big because I can’t seem to take my eyes off of the mass of manly muscle. Who’s ready for a swim?

  Next up we have this man who apparently got cold. I love a man that has a flag handy to wrap up in when the temperature falls. Of course, wouldn’t you rather wrap yourself up in him?

  Finally we have a real life hero and true patriot. This hero lost his leg to a roadside bomb while serving in the Marines. He has made the best of it and persevered through it all. This, my friends, is Alex Minsky. The tattoo across his knuckles says optimist. I call him awesome. His new life is that of an underwear model. I just want to say, “Thank You!” You, Sir, are a true inspiration.

  There you have it, my Independence Day present for all of you. Sorry if any guys joined in on this madness, buy hey, it is me using my freedom of speech! Enjoy your Independence Day and be safe everyone!  

  Happy 4th of July. What's on your agenda for today? Which is your favorite? Do you like tattoos?