Photo: Shakespeare and Company, Paris 2003

Mandy at Shakespeare and Co in Paris '03

Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise adorns one of the walls inside Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, and this phrase encapsulates the warmth of the store’s heritage. George Whitman was the owner at the time this picture was taken in 2003 and now his daughter Sylvia carries on her father’s legacy. There are beds throughout the store where struggling writers are welcome to spend the night.

Last year when George Whitman passed away, I turned my house upside down looking for the picture of me in mom jeans and a huge shirt standing in front of a bookstore I waited my entire life up until that point to see. Tonight the picture fell out of a photo album I haven’t glanced at in probably a decade, and I almost cried. This picture was my ultimate Paris souvenir, and it’s been missing for years.

The day I finally got a chance to visit Shakespeare and Company was a milestone for me. I hobbled around the store, my left foot in a walking cast due to tripping over a tree root in my front yard, and broken foot or not I was determined to see what I always thought of as my Mecca, a place where book lovers, writers, outcasts, and whomever else wondered in the doors received a warm welcome, a place to sleep if needed (in exchange for work at the store), and stacks and stacks of books piled in every corner of the dimly lit shop to peruse. I really wish I would have taken pictures of the interior of the shop with my disposable camera I used on the trip, but I was too overwhelmed and living in the moment. Ah, the days before iPhones and Instagram.

Here are some more pictures of Nate and me in France way back in 2003:

Yes, there are horses on my pants. 2003 was my year of unfortunate wardrobe choices.

Yes, there are horses on my pants. 2003 was my year of unfortunate wardrobe choices.

With Nate in Normandy

With Nate in Normandy

Silhouettes of Nate and me an artist literally cut of us in less than five minutes in Montmartre.

Posing for my half of a portrait of Nate and me.

I surprised Nate with tickets to Moulin Rouge for his birthday. The show was gorgeous and like taking a trip to a bygone era.

I surprised Nate with tickets to Moulin Rouge for his birthday. The show was gorgeous and like taking a trip to a bygone era.

The above pictures are just a little bit of what Nate and I did while we visited France. We spent days touring through art museums where Nate wheeled me around in a wheelchair to see my favorite paintings and sculptures in person, eating delicious food, and walking through beautiful parks. At one of the parks we saw the coolest mechanical puppet show. I could go on and on…

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Mandy Does RT Booklovers Convention

A couple of weeks ago I attended the absolute most exciting publishing industry convention I have ever been to. It’s called RT Booklovers Convention. I was a first time attendee, and I went because I was giving a workshop called 10 Ways To Improve Your Author Blog during the conference. I was shocked when I got to the conference. Immediately upon arriving at the hotel I knew I was in for a an awesome few days.  My room key had the cover of Jaci Burton’s book One Sweet Ride on it. From the moment I received the room key on I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. I was immersed in the land of romance, and it was awesome.

From the fun and informative reader and writer panels during the daytime to the dazzling nighttime parties, I could not get enough of the convention. Oh, and did I mention how awesome it was meeting up with new and old friends in the bar between parties? It was so nice to see familiar faces and make new book lovin’ friends.

Perhaps the best part of the conference was getting to see the readers’ smiling faces when they got a chance to talk with their favorite authors. I think involving the readers is what makes this conference special. I met so many budding authors and voracious readers during the few days I attended.

Carol Stacy and the entire RT Staff did an amazing job organizing the convention.  I occasionally contribute reviews to RT Magazine, and I relish any time I get to spend with the ladies I normally just get to talk to on Twitter and by email. One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to hear Kathryn Falk, the founder of RT Magazine speak at the 30th Anniversary Ball. (She told a hilarious anecdote about Fabio. I’m still laughing about it.) Most of all hearing Kathryn and the writers being honored at the ball speak reminded me of how far the Romance genre has come. It made me incredibly proud and a bit weepy to hear the authors reminisce about the barriers they broke through when they got their books published.

I definitely plan to attend RT Booklovers Convention next year in New Orleans. It was an experience I never want to miss!

The following are pictures from the conference:

RT Booklovers Convention Hotel Decor

Pictured Above: Elevators decorated with book covers! Honestly, all elevators should be decorated with book covers. Above right is my room key for the conference.

RT Booklovers Convention Swag and Books

Pictured Above: Amazing author and super sweet friend Tiffany Reisz gave me an ARC of The Mistress and pretty much made my week by doing so! The rest of the photos are author swag and hilarious buttons I received at the conference. I only brought five or six books back with me because I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit more than that in my luggage. Somewhere in the above photo collage you might spy a photo of me surrounded by hunky cover models. Yes, that happened! lol

Above are some pictures from the parties. I finally got to meet Tiffany Reisz at the Men of Romance party. She is so nice and so damn talented. Yes, that’s me dancing with Andrew Shaffer. I think we were trying to dance sarcastically or at least I hope that’s what we were doing. I hope I don’t just look like that when I dance. Haha. The Ellora’s Cave party had awesome swag at every table. I was super bummed that the lava lamp wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, but I did leave it as part of the hotel cleaning service’s tip.

Above are random pictures of me throughout the convention. I think my feet hurt and I sat on the stage at one point looking sad. I randomly decided to dress like Steven Tyler one of the days. (But I did rock a Kingsley T-Shirt with the Steven Tyler look.) Me wearing a headset getting ready for my workshop and finally making a sad face with Andrew Shaffer. I uh can’t remember what the sad face was for. I think it was because I had to fly out the next day and miss the rest of the convention.

Above is a picture of me giving the workshop I was at the convention to present. I got this picture from the Flickr page by RT Book Reviews. If you’re interested in seeing more pictures from the convention, you should definitely check it out!

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Photo: Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I have more than ever to be thankful for: family, friends, and all of the awesome people I’ve met through blogging. I thank my lucky stars every day for all of you.

Pictured Clockwise from top: Me with the bike my sweet husband Nate got me for my birthday. He noticed I was looking at bikes online and surprised me with it. It’s a Schwinn. Pee-Wee Herman had a Schwinn! Coming Soon: Mandy’s Big Adventure!, Nate and I at a Saints game, The kids and I hangin’ out in the library.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

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10 Things To Buy A Book Lover

!0 Things To Buy A Book Lover

Wondering what to get your bookish friends for a present? Well look no more! I have some suggestions. Everything from eReader covers to books your friends won’t want to miss are included in this quick list. Enjoy!

  1. New York Times Easy Books NOOK Cover, $34.95, Barnes & Noble
  2. Poe A Tree T-Shirt, $24.95, Novel-T
  3. Stardust: The Gift Edition by Neil Gaiman, $17.51, Amazon
  4. The Great Gatsby iPhone Case, $35.00, Out Of Print
  5. Ereader Cover, $20.00, Etsy
  6. The Bell Jar T-Shirt, $28.00, Out Of Print
  7. Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine, $10.95, Amazon
  8. A Hologram For The King by Dave Eggers, $13.44, Amazon
  9. The Rumpus Book Club Membership, $25.00 a month or $250.00 a year, TheRumpus.net
  10. Book Junky Pillow, $28.00, Etsy

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Photo: Waiting For My Prince To Come

I am a huge fan of Erotic Fiction author, Tiffany Reisz’s series The Original Sinners, and my heart belongs to a certain character in that series by the name of Kingsley. That’s me, in the photo above, wearing the Team Kingsley shirt I purchased from The 8th Circle Gift Shop. I love that it has a fleur de lis on it, because I can also wear it to Saints games! Haha

#TeamKingsley fans have reason to rejoice, because I heard book three, The Prince is supposed to give some of Kingsley’s back story. The official release date for The Prince is November 20, 2012. Click here to pre-order a copy of The Prince from Amazon today. Click here to follow Tiffany Reisz on Twitter and here to check out her website.

More about The Prince by Tiffany Reisz:

Exquisite pain is one thing–

mortal danger is quite another

Wesley Railey is young, handsome and still the object of Nora Sutherlin’s tamest yet most maddening fantasies. He’s the one Nora can’t forget, despite her on-again, off-again relationship with her first and most dangerous lover, SØren. Wes is also horse-racing royalty in Kentucky, and on his arm notorious Nora mixes with very aristocratic company-the likes of which a New York City dominatrix would ordinarily never meet. But they’ve got their own dirty secrets: Nora discovers a chilling scam run by rival horse owners with mob ties and violent methods for keeping people quiet.

But Nora is no simpering Southern belle, and her dream of fitting into Wesley’s world is running up against her bone-deep instinct for survival-and SØren’s relentlessly seductive pull. Before the end, new enemies will strike as surely as old flames can still singe…. (Summary provided by Harlequin MIRA.)

FTC Disclosure Statement: I receive a small commission from any purchases made by clicking through the Amazon links throughout the site.

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