Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fairytale Booksigning With Nora Roberts and Sherrilyn Kenyon to Celebrate Release of Awaken the Highland Warrior

By Anita Clenney

We all know that the writing business is tough, whether you're just starting out and waiting for The Call or a veteran author, as I learned in my retreat this weekend at the published authors' roundtable discussion. Getting published opens up another set of fears. What if it doesn't sell? What if I can't write another book as good as the first? What if it gets bad reviews? How am I going to promote? What is I can't stay published? And for me a biggie was, what about booksignings? I imagined this nightmarish image of me sitting in a big bookstore, my face pale, looking like a deer in headlights as people walked through the door and past my little table. My experience was anything but.

First, let me start with the day before. My dear friend and critique partner, Dana Rodgers and I headed to Boonsboro, Maryland, where Nora Roberts husband's bookstore is located. What a drive. It was gorgeous, the storms from the night before were fading away. And in the midst of my celebrating, let's all remember the families of those who lost so much. Such a tragic thing.

But this trip had been planned for a long time, so we arrived in Boonsboro. Turn the Page is a small, quaint bookstore owned by Bruce Wilder, Nora's husband. Across the street is Inn Boonsboro, Nora's gorgeous Inn, with each room named after the characters from a great story. It was incredible. The rooms, the d├ęcor…the toilets. They did everything from open by themselves to drying your nether regions, after washing them of course, and I’m not kidding. The Inn was gorgeous. The picture above is the back of the Inn. The front is so near the street, they don't really use the doors.

Inside our room, the Jane and Rochester, there was a copy of Awaken the HighlandWarrior waiting, with a letter asking if I could please take a moment to sign it for the Inn's library. "Oh, I think so, Nora." And there was a bag of heather-scented bath goodies for me. We roamed the inn, checking out the library and dining room before heading outside. I've never seen a place like Boonsboro. It was a cute, small town. I've seen cute, small towns before, but no matter what store we entered, they treated us with amazing hospitality. That evening, we met some wonderful fans who were staying at the Inn. They had flown in from Florida and Chicago just to meet Nora. We spent some time together laughing and talking, and now they're fans of mine as well as beta readers.


On the day of the signing, a short, adorable woman popped into the dining room with the announcement that, "They kissed. It's done." We had no idea what she was talking about until she mentioned the royal wedding. Dana and I were already living a fairytale. We also had no idea that the woman was Shauna Summers of Bantam Dell. People make all kinds of crazy excuses to get an audience with editors, and there we were, alone in the dining room chatting with her and didn't even know who she was. We watched people lining up outside the bookstore, some waiting for hours to get inside. I honestly expected that it would be awkward because I'm unknown. I figured I would only sell a few copies, but I knew I would have fun anyway since it would be a great experience.


I was shocked to see people coming through the line with Awaken the Highland Warrior in their hand, asking me to autograph it, autograph their tote bags, even store paper bags, and some wanted photos with me. I can't even explain the feeling of stopping everything so I could stand up and take a picture with a fan. Incredibly amazing. There were so many wonderful readers and all those great writers, like Alix Rickloff, next to me.


Needless to say, I was stunned when the books in front of me disappeared. I still can’t believe I sold out. Apparently Nora Roberts' table was quite excited about it. I heard she was surprised but pleased because debut authors never sell out at these booksignings. The bookstore manager was shocked as well. She scrambled to see if she could locate more copies elsewhere in the store, but couldn’t. It didn’t hurt that Dana was there with me. They let her sit next to me. She chatted people up and I’m sure a few bought books just because she sold them on how great she thought the story was. I’m telling you, all writers need a Dana. And an agent like Christine. I wouldn’t be here without her.


Then a reporter from Hagerstown MD showed up asking who was Anita Clenney. Me, he was looking for ME!!! He interviewed me and even quoted me in the article. Well, he quoted other people too, but hey, I’m a debut author and he mentioned me first! And how totally cool that when they did the author photo shoot, there was yours truly between Nora Roberts and Sherrilyn Kenyon, with Kristan Higgins behind Nora. A little nobody like me can’t ask for more than that. All in all, it was a fairytale booksigning. And just in time for the release of Awaken the Highland Warrior. It's out!!!! All the hard work has paid off and now it's here. I'll give away a copy to one commenter.

Here's an excerpt from Awaken the Highland Warrior.

She knelt at his feet and tugged on one boot, then removed the other, taking great care not to use her vantage point to see what he did or didn’t wear under his kilt.

After she gathered a first-aid kit, thermometer, damp washcloth, and towel from the bathroom, she left it by the bed and went to the kitchen for soup, bottled water, and an ice pack for his head. She started from the kitchen, when a crash sounded from her bedroom. Gripping the tray, she ran down the hall, coming to a halt in the doorway.

He was naked, sprawled face down, feet sticking off the bed, as bare as the day he was born. The lamp was overturned, his clothes piled on the floor next to his dagger and boots. He’d tried to turn the covers back, but now they were trapped underneath him. Bree set the tray on the table beside the bed.

He wasn’t the first naked man she’d seen, but he might as well have been. Taut skin covered muscle so defined it made her want to weep at the raw beauty. Several faint lines ran across his back and shoulders and a couple along the side of his hip. Scars.

Bree gave one lingering look from thick, dark hair to sexy feet, then averted her gaze and poked his shoulder with her fingertip. “Faelan, wake up.”

He didn’t move. She took one more look, leaned down, and shook him again.

He grunted and flipped over, pulling her flat against him. He rolled again, and the air whooshed from her lungs as he slammed her into the mattress, his forearm braced against her windpipe. “Druan,” he said, looking through her, “stop the war.”

She lay still, trying not to panic. “Faelan. Let me go,” she wheezed. When he didn’t, she tried to put her knee into his groin, but with her legs pinned under his it proved as ineffective as it had in the crypt. He groaned and moved his arm from her throat. She was so busy sucking in air she didn’t notice his fingers threading through her hair until she calmed enough to realize he was still on top of her, stomach to stomach, where her shirt had ridden up. Her legs, bared by shorts, were tangled with his. His skin felt hotter. He had a fever. And that wasn’t his dagger rubbing against her thigh.

His head lowered, damp hair brushing her cheek as he whispered strange words that made every cell in her body sizzle. Gaelic? His look was more alarming than before, as if she were water to his thirst. This was a look she could die in, a look that made her want to trash logic for a slim chance at bliss. His lips touched hers.

She was too stunned to stop the kiss and too captivated by the feel of his mouth on hers to pull away. The soft nibble, a mere testing of flesh against flesh, deepened to lips parting and a flick of his tongue. Just when she thought she’d lift off into space, he raised his head and blinked at her, then rolled off so fast she grabbed fistfuls of the quilt to keep from falling off the bed. She sat up, too dazed to move, and tried not to gape.

She’d thought the back view was good…

He lay next to her, his chest rising and falling, covered with the most beautiful tattoos, mystical, like some sort of ancient text. The symbols started below his collarbone, coming to a point above sculpted abs. A necklace lay in the center, held by a brown leather strap. Something inside her shifted, a memory edged in, then slid away. She dragged her gaze from his tattoos and forced herself to concentrate on his face. It held no threat, only remorse.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“You were dreaming. You have a fever.”

“Need rest,” he mumbled, eyes drifting shut.

“Wait. Do you need a doctor? Food?” She started to stand so she could cover him, but he grabbed her hand. The tingling started again.

“No doctor…rest…disease…”

“Are you sick?”

“Find it…destroy…”

Bree leaned closer. “Destroy what?”

“The world…stop…war.”

She felt a shiver creep in, but he was asleep. She pulled the sheet over his lap and checked his temperature. High, but not dangerous. She put the ice pack on his head, cleaned the blood from his face, and then moved the cloth down the thick column of his neck and over the symbols on his chest. She wasn’t brave enough to clean the smudge low on his stomach, next to the faint line of hair that disappeared below the sheet.

Another scar crossed his left bicep, larger than the others. She ran her finger along the raised ridge, wondering what had put it there. Chill bumps appeared on his skin and rose on hers as a faint sound echoed in her ear, like the distant clink of metal. She turned her attention to his necklace. It was unusual, round, about the size of a silver dollar. She couldn’t identify the metal, but it looked old. She touched it. Warm, like the vault had felt just before she opened it. Symbols were engraved on the front, similar to the ones on the treasure chest and the disk. Warning bells rang in her head.

How could the symbols on his necklace look like the ones on the treasure chest and the disk? Her disk?

Faelan’s head jerked against the pillow. “Sorry.”

Was he apologizing again for choking her? For kissing her? Stealing her treasure?

His hands gripped the covers. “Father…shouldn’t have sent them away…”

Sent who away? His father? Was this Druan person his father? “It’s okay,” she said, stroking his arm, but all this talk of disease and war was making her uneasy.

His hand unclenched and reached for hers. He pulled in a quick, shallow breath and calmed. Dried blood covered the cut on his palm. Picking up the washcloth, she wiped away the crust exposing a thin, pale line. A scar.

Her throat went dry. She dropped his hand. Less than an hour ago, she’d watched him cut it with the dagger. No one could heal that fast, except a superhero. Or Dracula.

I'll give away one copy of Awaken the Highland Warrior to a commenter.


65 comments:

  1. Oh, you! I have a zillion, bajillion questions: What war? Why the scars? Who's Druan? Who was sent away?

    You could not have chosen a better teaser! And big congratulations on the fabulous signing--of course you sold out! When does the sequel come out, and how many are in this series?

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  2. Anita, loved the excerpt! Thank you for sharing your booksigning adventure. What a memory to treasure.

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  3. Now that's getting your feet wet with a BIG BANG!! Congratulations on all of it. Love the teaser, the cover and your Nora story! Don't come down off that cloud for a while! You deserve it!

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  4. Hi Grace. I love teasers and cliffhangers. :) The next one comes out in November. Thanks again for the advice you sent me earlier on the signing at Nora's.

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  5. Tracey, I'm glad you liked the excerpt. I love suspense and cliffhangers.

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  6. Yeah, Anita!!! That sounds like the best place to do a book signing ever! Congratulations!!!

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  7. Thanks Carolyn. It was a darned good first booksigning experience.

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  8. I love it when people share booksigning adventures! The room you were in, the treatment you got is just awesome, now that is a kind off in anyone would enjoy staying!! And wow you met Nora Roberts and Sherrilyn Kenyon!!

    You saved the best for last though! That excerpt intrigued me in so many ways, thank you for that :))

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  9. Terry, I swear it was like a dream. I felt like a celebrity.

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  10. Leontine, thanks so much for stopping by. This Inn was so beautiful. The copper tub was gorgeous. My friend and I got one of the last rooms and it had one bed so we had to share. It was so big, I didn't even know she was there. You could've fit an entire family in it.
    The whole weekend was just great. A memory that will last forever.

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  11. Anita,

    What a great experience! Congratulations on a successful book signing, but I'm not the least bit surprised. This is the second teaser I've read, and your book sounds amazing.

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  12. Anita, thanks for sharing your wonderful experience!!! What a fun time! I wanted to come to the signing as I only live 40min away, but I was doing the March for Dimes walk. Isn't the B&B breathtaking??? Jane Eyre is my fav book, so the Jane and Rochester room would have been my pick too :) I haven't stayed there yet, I'm hoping the hubs and I can stay for a night over the summer, without the kiddies!

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  13. OMG, Anita!!! That sounds absolutely AMAZING!!!

    I was born and raised in Maryland, and I am embarrassed to say that I have never heard about the Inn!!!! Oy! I am going to have to change that! hmmmm, my anniversary is coming up in two weeks!

    How cool is it that you were the first person the reporter asked for!! Woohoo! And you sold out!! Double WOOT!!!

    I LOVE the excerpts from AWAKEN the HIGLAND WARRIOR and CANNOT wait to read it!!!

    You go girl! So happy for you!!!

    :O) Andrea
    astnider@verizon.net

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  14. Looks like you had a blast! Congrats!

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  15. Can't wait for the book.

    And there is nothing quite like your first TTP book signing. I think it's worth writing the book just for that. LOL.

    All the best,

    Lavinia

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  16. What an amazing booksigning!! Sounds like you had a blast! I loved the excerpt!

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  17. Wow, Anita!!! What a fabulous excerpt. Yep, I'm hooked and need to read more. ;) Great teaser.

    I love your Nora story, you definitely launched your book in style.

    Congrats!

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  18. Great excerpt, and what a great booksigning memory! A stay at Inn Boonsboro is on my 'someday' list. And a signing at Turn the Page? Wow, what a dream come true! Congratulations!

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  19. I've been in Nora's husband's bookstore already. It is very quaint. Your description of Boonsboro is very accurate, too. I once dated a guy from there--'nuff said. My son lives in Hagerstown, so all in all, reading your signing story was like revisiting home. What an experience you must have had. Keep the memories in your heart and thanks for sharing them with us. Much success. Love the excerpt!

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  20. Sounds like you had a dream come true experience! Thanks for sharing and letting us re-live it with you.
    Amelia

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  21. Congratulations on that great book signing experience.

    Enjoyed your excerpt but my curiosity just kept growing as I read it! Such a tease... :)

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  22. Wow! What a fantastic first book signing! I loved that story, but I loved the excerpt even more. Loved the situation, the characters, and the writing. Can't wait for more!

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  23. What an awesome signing! Congrats on a stellar launch!!

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  24. Loved reading about your experience, Anita, and it was so much fun coming to see you at the actual signing--I am so pleased I got my two books before you sold out, too!! All the best, Karen

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  25. What a cool book signing event! Now I want to visit Boonsboro!

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  26. Wow! What an experience, Anita! I'm so envious! I'd love to do a signing with Nora Roberts!

    Introduce me sometime. (grin)
    Hey, it never hurts to ask.

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  27. How utterly awesome, Anita. I bet you couldn't get that grin off your face through the whole experience. Thank you so much for sharing this thrilling ride you;ve taken on the road to success. Selling out is quite a feather in your cap! Congratulations...

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  28. What a great signing! Nora is always so wonderful--I wish I could have gone to the retreat this year, but alas it wasn't in the cards. Love the excerpt, now I gotta go buy your book!

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  29. Sounds like you ladies had a wonderful time. I have never been to a book signing but have always wanted to go. Thankd for sharing it with us.

    lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

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  30. Samantha, I'm glad you liked the teaser. Sometimes it's hard to know which one to use. I love cliffhangers so I have a lot. :)

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  31. Eliza. I didn't know you were that close. I wish you could have been there. I know they were doing the March of Dimes walk. I heard about it on the radio.

    I love the Inn. We didn't see any other rooms, other than on the website, but Dana and I were just in love with the Jane and Rochester. Dana wanted to live in the bathroom, it was so pretty. We both want to go back with our husbands. It was amazing reading the guest book entries. There were several people who had stayed in the room who had come there to celebrate their forty and fifty something anniversaries. I thought that was very cool.

    There is a Girls Night Out at the bookstore on March 16th. Apparently it's authors and artisans. They'll have things for sale, jewelry and books. She said my books would be on a table for sale. I was told to bring all the girlfriends I wanted. You should come. It's 6:30 - 9:00, I think.

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  32. Andrea, I didn't know about the Inn until a few weeks ago either. I didn't know about Nora's bookstore until a couple of years ago.

    You should go for your anniversary. The rooms are pricy ($255, was the cheapest, I think) but worth it. They also had suites. I think those were $285. It's just beautiful and it's the friendliest town I've ever seen.

    It was a great experience and I do plan to go back. Read my comment to Eliza. There's a Girls Night Out. You should come if you're in that part of Maryland.

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  33. I agree, Lavinia. It's worth writing the book just to get to sign at Turn the Page. :)

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  34. It was a blast Cheryl. I was so dreading signings, so this was a pleasant surprise.

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  35. Thanks Nicole. It was a lot of fun and I hope I can go back sometime for another signing. I'm so glad you liked the excerpt.

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  36. Colleen. It was a great launch. Now I'm spoiled. Just wait until I'm sitting alone at a Borders with no one there. :) I'll be wishing I was back at Turn the Page.

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  37. Tamara, if you can get there, go. It's great. There's a library inside and they offer wine and cheese in the evenings. It was just fun all around.

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  38. Hi Vonnie. Your son is close by. The reporter was from Hagerstown. It's so gorgeous in that area. Just the drive was wonderful. You're right, the bookstore is very small and quaint. But I couldn't believe how friendly everyone was. Dana and I kept looking at each other and saying "is this real?"

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  39. Thank you Amelia. It really was just perfect.

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  40. Thank you Lil. Glad you liked the teaser, and I do love to tease with stories. :)

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  41. Thank you so much Joanne! I really like that particular excerpt.

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  42. Thank you Catherine. It was a wonderful launch. A great experience.

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  43. Thanks for stopping by Karen. Here and at the signing. It was great to look up and see you in the line of strangers. And it was great to visit with you at the retreat.

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  44. It was awesome Shana, especially for a newbie signer.

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  45. Ashlyn, it was a lot of fun. Every now and then I would look across the room and think, "I'm signing with Nora Roberts and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Am I dreaming?" And then to have a fan stop me to get a picture taken with me was icing on the cake.

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  46. Thanks Paisley. It was wonderful. The next booksigning is in Martha's Vineyard over Memorial Day. My agent has something set up with a panel and booksigning. I get to stay at a bed and breakfast and hubby is going. It should be fun. I think I'll just stop after that, before I get any bad experiences.

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  47. I missed you Robin. I had hoped you would be there. You always make anything even better.

    I had talked to Nora briefly at the WRW party in Orlando last year. I sat next to her, but this was so cool to see her in action and to know I was there signing too. At her husband's store. Awesome.

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  48. Virginia, it was so much fun. I did feel bad for the people who stood in line so long. There were people from all over the place there to see Nora. And some of Sherrilyn Kenyon's fans were dressed as characters in her books. It was great.

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  49. Wow Anita your book signing sounds like every author's dream come true. What a wonderful way to start your career as a debut author!

    That excerpt definitely makes me want to see what happens next. You left a cliffhanger! Who the heck is Druan? LOL

    Congratulations on your new release!

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  50. Oh, I really enjoy debut authors. I've found so many "books of the heart" that way. I'm also a huge fan of highlander books - my favorite. How wonderful that your first signing was so memorable. Congratulations!

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  51. Wow, it doesn't get much better than this. Mega Congratulations on the sales. I'm going to a book signing at B&N Saturday and will look for Awaken The Highland Warrior.

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  52. Stacie, I love cliffhangers. Druan is very important to the story.

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  53. Catslady, glad to see you over here. I love highlanders, too. This was such a great experience.

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  54. LDee, that's awesome! I had someone on Twitter just send me a picture of my book at her Barnes and Noble. It was very cool.

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  55. WOW! That is a fairytale book-signing. The romance community is so gracious. Congrats on your debut! Can't wait to read it.

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  56. Olivia, you're exactly right. None of this would have happened if the romance community wasn't so supportive. Everyone involved with the signing, from Nora and her husband to the other authors to the bookstore manager and asst. manager were all incredible.

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  57. Congratulations on the fantastic signing - what an amazing experience! The excerpt is a real teaser - sounds like a great read!

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  58. Anita, what an honor to be intermixed with the elite. And to sell out? I would be giddy with excitement. What an amazing experience for a new author. You'll be handling these things like a pro before you know it.

    Great excerpt!

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  59. Anita,

    What a fairy tale weekend! Wish I could've been at the book signing, but I'm so excited to crack open my copy of Awaken the Highlander.
    -Lynne

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  60. I would love to come Anita! Is it next March? or did you mean May?

    That is so cool about the room! I've seen the girls night out thing too, it looks like so much fun! And the romantic hubby night, looks like fun too!

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  61. Wow, sounds like such a fun and cool experience. And the inn looks fabulous.

    Great excerpt!

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  62. Well, after reading the excerpt, I'm really in no mood to go to work! :-)

    Thanks for sharing your day with us!
    Leah

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  63. Huge congrats Anita! And I LOVE your writing. No wonder you had people lining up : ) I would have been too!

    I found you through Goodreads. Love that site! Looks like I've found another new author too : )

    Hearing about Nora's beautiful B&B just gives me another excuse to visit some time. Sadly, New Zealand is so far away!!

    Please put me in the draw to win too if you don't mind sending overseas : )

    clarksnelson@clear.net.nz

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  64. Am I too late? Would love to win ur book :D

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  65. Congrats on your successful signing, Anita! I loved that you called it a fairytale. :}

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