Who Are We?

The NovelFriends are four writers who met through Wisconsin Romance Writers and initially became bonded by our love of books. That connection has expanded, grown, and deepened into true friendship over the years. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you, so follow the blog and join in the fun - we're always happy to have more NovelFriends!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Good Friends, Good Food...Great Weekend ~ Donna

I had such an amazing weekend that I'm still on cloud nine! What's that? Oh, of course. I'm happy to tell you all about it...

Friday, I met for plotting & coffee with three of my closest friends, who also happen to be amazing authors. Fellow NovelFriends Jamie Kersten , and New York Times Bestselling author Stacey Joy Netzel (Yep, I said NYT Bestselling, people!). And we were lucky enough to be joined by author & publishing consultant Virginia McCullough. We chatted, plotted, chatted some more. Until real life reared its ugly head and I had to head home. (Disclaimer: Donna loves her family very much!)

Saturday morning, we all drove down to Milwaukee to join our sister WisRWA (Wisconsin Romance Writers of America) members for their monthly chapter meeting. Stacey and I spoke on a panel about indie-publishing, along with Edie Ramer, Leigh Morgan, and Mary Hughes, all incredible authors who found success with indie publishing. We were honored to be asked, and enjoyed the meeting very much. I even learned a few things myself!

After the meeting, the four of us drove further south to Racine, Wisconsin to have lunch with another dear friend, Mary Jo (award-winning author Casey Clifford). Mary Jo and her dashingly handsome husband, Jim. As soon as we walked into their stunningly beautiful condo (I'm on a roll with the adjectives...LOL), Jim showed us all out onto the balcony, which overlooks beautiful Lake Michigan, to take tons of pictures. I felt like a rock star! Though it was their energetic little dog, Oreo, who stole the show. Isn't she gorgeous?

I love all these gals dearly...

 Stacey & Mary Jo
Jamie & Mary Jo
Virginia & Mary Jo
After (a gazillion) photos were taken by all, we were treated to a tour of their three-story condo, which as I already mentioned, has a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. I now have office envy, bathroom envy, and husband envy! We were also thrilled to meet her charming son.
We chatted for a while, then Mary Jo served a delicious yet light lunch of chicken salad (chock full of dried cranberries, celery, and cashews), fresh fruit, and yummy rolls. But the grand finale? Mary Jo served us the most delctable Better Than Sex Pumpkin Spice cake, and heavenly Lemon Bars! I'm stealing Stacey's picture since I didn't think to take one myself (I was too busy stuffing my face...LOL).
Thanks for reading about my awesome weekend! I hope everyone had just as nice a time as I did. :-)
~ Donna

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ups and Downs ~ Stacey

Since I last posted, there's been a lot going on. The younger kids started school (yay!) and my oldest flew to Fort Benning, Georgia to begin Army Special Forces Basic Combat Training. (BCT) Yes, it was an eventful beginning to our September.

Labor Day 2013--we had a family dinner to send him off
and took a bunch of pictures.
In addition, we're still working on the remodeling in our house. Currently the bathroom is limping along. Yesterday, our 10yr old Arabian, Bullet, was supposed to head about an hour south for 2 months of training. His ship-date got postponed to today. I joked that he and Cody would be going through Basic Training together and had intended to do my monthly post on that. And I still am, but it doesn't quite mesh as well as it was supposed to.

Bullet has no idea what's in store when he starts his BCT

Because for the down part of my day, I got a call from the trainer that one of his girls who does a lot of the riding was injured today and he was going to have to delay. I wish her a quick recovery, and now I'm bummed Bullet won't be off just yet. I was really looking forward to riding him in a couple months.

Oh well, because...for the up part of my day, we got a letter from Cody! 

I grabbed my mail on the way home from the dentist--oh yeah, there was another down. Fillings. 1/2 frozen face. Then on to the eye doctor, who said I'm borderline needing bifocals, and that's normal between ages 40-42. Well, I'll be 41 in October, so I guess, yay me, getting old on schedule.

So anyway, I grabbed the mail, saw there was a letter to "The Netzel Family", and then sat in the van in the garage to read it. Nope, I didn't care if the milk in the back seat got warm--letter came first. He's doing okay so far, he now knows how to make his bed (lol), and he says he looks funny bald. It was great to hear from him and he even made me laugh out loud when he told me how the shot in his butt hurt like hell.

I read the letter to the kids when they got home from school and they laughed at the line: "I'd love to see Morgan try to have an attitude here."

Anyway, he hasn't actually started BCT yet, he's still in the reception stage, where they're waiting for the rest of his class (battalion?) to arrive. I have no idea when he'll start, but when he does, that's when his 16 wks and 3 days begin to count down until we can see him again.

So, that's it from me. Next month I hope to be telling you all about my new book out, but in the meantime, I'd love to hear what's GOOD in your life these days??

~ Stacey

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Best of Romance (at least for me) - Jamie

I'm pretty sure if you've found this blog, you know that I love reading and writing romance because I love the happily ever after of those stories. Want to know what else gives me those warm fuzzy feelings?

I love reading the announcements for anniversaries celebrating fifty years or more of marriage, especially the ones that share how the couple met. In this day where long term marriages seem to be something of a rare species, when I stumble across one, especially one that sounds like it has been through plenty of ups and downs and survived, I always pray that my husband and I will someday be one of those couples.

I actually met one of this amazing couples in person at the eye doctor
one day. I wasn't too sure about them at first, but as we started talking I realized how much they still loved each other after 72 years of marriage. Their marriage survived while he served the country in war, when they lost an adult child to cancer, and other illnesses, but they still live together in their own home and are able to lovingly tease each other as they waited. They were a hopeless romantic's dream come true.

Speaking of marriage, I have always loved Billy Crystal but I was recently reading an interview with him and after I read his comment about marriage to his wife, I think I will love him forever. He was asked if he had any advice on how to stay married to the same woman for 43 years? "There are no secrets. I'm no Dr. Phil. But we laugh a lot. Janice has always made me laugh. As I write in the book, I can't bear to think of life without her; I want to go first because I don't want to miss her. I'd like to think there is a heaven and it starts from the happiest day in your life. I'll be 18 and Janice Goldfinger will walk by me in a bikini, and I will follow her and it will start all over again."

And, of course, some of the very best romance in my opinion still comes from fairytales. When real life tales of romance seem to be in short supply, I turn to my favorite animated classics to get my Once Upon a Time / Happily Ever After fix. There are several that I enjoy, but none that I love as much as I do Tangled. I like Flynn/Eugene's quick wit and Rapunzel's determination even when she is afraid. You see this couple actually spend time together, talk to each other and grow to care for one another. I've long ago lost track of how many times I have watched this movie and I can guarantee you that I will watch it many more.

There are many other little things that give me warm fuzzy feelings about love and romance too - but this blog couldn't possibly cover them all. Most of them have to do with my husband and a special look he will give me, or when he takes my hand, or I remember the night I met him and he gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek...

What is one of your favorite romantic inspirations? This hopeless romantic would love to know.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School by Delia

Today is the first day of school and for the first time in forever, this means more to me than the return of peace and quiet at my house.  It's time for me to go back to work.  Last winter, about halfway through the school year, I was hired by our district to do administration work for our school lunch program.  I only work on days when we're feeding kids, so the last day of school was my last day of work and the first day of school means back to the daily grind for me as well.

I say I do admin work, my husband refers to it as my "torturing children" job.  See, I've got the attitude that if you're going to do a job, you might as well have fun with it.  I've told kids that we've implemented a new school rule that if they owe lunch money, they have to eat lunch sitting on the floor under the tables.  I say this with a smile to the little kids, but love delivering that line with a dead serious face to the older kids, just to see their reactions.  As school was winding down last spring, I told the kids that the last day of school was going to be "Sing-along Thursday" and instead of telling me their student number for me to enter into the system, they were going to have to sing it to me.  I heard a wide variety of musical styles that day, including numbers being rapped, an opera version and one kid even sang his to the tune of Smoke on the Water - you've gotta love a kid who gives the proper respect to Deep Purple.  I've got a whole bunch of new torture ideas in mind for the coming school year as well as making the lunch menu a little more fun - we're having spARGHetti on International Talk Like a Pirate Day with a side of Walk-the-Plank garlic bread and I'm really looking forward to lunch on Halloween.

Life is too short to not take advantage of fun opportunities when they come your way.  If an opportunity comes your way that doesn't seem very enjoyable - you've got to make it fun - otherwise, what's the point in getting up in the morning?