#5forFriday: London Living

It's been a couple weeks since I've done a #5forFriday because things have been a little hectic what with moving countries and all, but I'm settled in and back! 1) I'm living in London! After what felt like months of preparation and waiting, I finally arrived, jet lagged and slightly disoriented in my new city. More than a week later, I'm mostly settled in and enjoying exploring my new city.

2) I turned a book in! The second book in the Matchmaker of Edinburgh series hit my editor's inbox yesterday afternoon. I celebrated by pouring myself a big glass of wine and watching the British soap opera, Emmerdale.

3) I got interviewed! C. Steven Ellis from The Writer's Mind interviewed me just before I left for London, and now the interview is live. You can watch it on YouTube or download the episode on iTunes.

4) I'm reunited with my dogs! Nick and Nora, my family's bichons, have been the stars of my Instagram and Instagram stories for the past week. They even helped me edit — sort of.

Someone decided to read over my shoulder while I edit...

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5) I went dancing! I've been a swing and blues dancer for more than ten years and that means that no matter where I am in the world I can always find a friendly community of people who love blues. Since I only know a few people in London, I took myself out dancing on Tuesday and met a great group. Not a bad way to kick off my first week in a new place!

Heroines, Choosing Happiness, and Why I'm Moving From NYC to London)

In a month, I'm going to be uprooting my life in New York City and moving to the United Kingdom.

I will do this to be living closer than a plane ride away from my parents for the first time in my adult life.

I will do this because my sister and her boyfriend will be only an hour away and I want my lady movie watching buddy back.

I will do this for adventure and a promise I made to myself a long time ago to do something that scares me to death every decade or so.

I will do this despite the fact that I'll leave behind friends and a life I've cultivated in weird, wonderful New York for nearly nine years.

I will do this without the security of a day job, giving me the chance for the first time in my author life to write full time for a little while.

I am excited and eager and trepidatious.

What I am not is uncertain about my choice.

My mother often tells me with a laugh that I'm just like my father. We mull over something as important as a life change or as simple as a new gadget for months, researching and weighing pros and cons. We learn everything we can about whatever it is that's caught our imagination. Recently this has led me to become a casual expert on:

  1. Running clothes and training guides (This obsession started a year ago and has not let up, leading me to be somewhat angry with my runner friends who didn't warn me that my laundry would soon be all running clothes and one morning a weekend would be devoted to long runs, often done in the cold and rain because you need those miles in the bank)
  2. Social media and content marketing programs like CoSchedule (Welcome to the sexy behind-the-scenes world of being a working author)
  3. External audio recorders (Podcasting)
  4. Shipping books internationally (My extensive research library is moving to London which is...a challenge)

My father and I will read, collect information, and take notes until one day we're ready. Like a flip being switched, we make our decision and rarely look back. It's as though steeping ourselves in all of that information has infused us with the ability to say, "Yes, that's exactly what I want."

It would make sense that this brand of seemingly contradictory dragged out decisiveness appeals to me. It's similar to the way that heroines in romance novels come to the realization that they are both in love and deserving of it.

The heroine spends the entire story getting to know the hero by talking to and interacting with him (or he does with him in M/M or she does with her in F/F). She might meet family or friends, see him on the job, or watch him at play. Often without realizing it, she's gathering information about the sort of partner he'll be letting that process in her subconscious until she's ready to choose.

All at once she knows. He's the one. It's Elizabeth realizing Darcy has saved her sister. Cher announcing "I love Josh" in front of the fountain in Beverly Hills. It's in the ah-ha moment we spend the entire movie or book waiting for.

Other people—even the hero—might try to move our heroine onto another path, but she's certain. She's chosen the love of the hero, just as she's chosen her own happiness.

This may I'll be choosing my own happiness as well as family and adventure. I plan to share bits and pieces of my move and subsequent settling in to the city I write about—even if the timeline is about 200 years off—and I hope you'll take the journey with me here as well on Instagram and Facebook.

Running in London

For me, the holidays mean packing up my suitcase and heading to my parents' house in London. After growing up in LA, it's home base now and I've been enjoying getting to know the city I've visited a lot but never lived in. Last spring I picked up a new, healthy habit: running. A year ago, I would have jokingly told you that I only run when I'm being chased, but now I've been lacing up my shoes four or five times a week to hit the park or the treadmill. I decided to bring running shoes with me because I wanted to keep the momentum going through my vacation—plus I thought it would be a fun way to see the neighborhoods around the house in London.

I like running in parks because I don't have to stop for red lights, and I'm lucky enough that the house is close to four major Central London parks: Hyde Park, Kensington Park, Green Park, and St. James's Park. They're all interesting in their own ways, and I wanted to run in all of them to see a bit more than I had while wandering with the dogs who are cute but not great running companions.

Meet Nick and Nora, the family's adorable but dirty bichons.

Hyde Park, the biggest of the parks, is probably familiar to most historical romance readers because it's the site of Rotten Row where gentlemen of the ton use to go to exercise their horses. It's still used as a bridal path, but I stuck to the outer loop of the park which meant I got an excellent view of the Italian gardens at the top of the Serpentine.

Italian Gardens in Hyde Park

Hyde Park is situated right next to Kensington Park, which is where Kensington Palace sits. During my visit I made sure to run by the statue of Queen Victoria that stands outside its gates because it was carved by the queen's daughter, Princess Louise, who is providing some of the inspiration for the heroine in the first book of my next historical series (it's too early to give all the details away about that one, but you guys can be the first to be in the know when by signing up for my newsletter).

Green Park is a small park that sits right across the street from Buckingham Palace, and below the Mall is St. James's Park.

My sister and I goofing off outside Buckingham Palace

I ran through Green Park, down Constitution Walk, and into St. James's Park on a bitterly cold morning last week. (It was so cold that when I ran into my sister, her boyfriend, and my Dad walking the dogs, my sister pointed out that my hat had frosted over.) There's a beautiful pond in the middle of the park that you can run around but sadly I don't have photos of because it was so cold my phone died. (See?) The ducks and geese looked at me like I was crazy, but it's so pretty out there that it was worth their judgemental looks.

I also made it down to the Embankment near Westminster Abbey and ran along the Thames River, which is also wonderful. I'd have photos for you, but again, cold.

For more photos from my London trip, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

Photos: London and The Governess Was Wicked

"This room, with its green-and-white wallpaper and big bay windows looking out over Onslow Square, would continue to be the center of her world until Cassandra was old enough to wear her hair up and marry." —The Governess Was Wicked

I love books that are strongly grounded in their setting. I want to hear the rush of traffic and feel the breeze from the subway (disgusting though it may be) when I'm reading a book set in New York City. Likewise, if a book takes place during a London winter, I want to know that the characters are chilled to the bone from the damp that sets in around autumn and doesn't leave until spring.

It was important to me in writing The Governess Was Wicked that readers feel that my characters really do know their way around the parts of Central London that make up their whole world. Here are just a few locations readers will encounter:

  • The Nortons' home in Onslow Square in South Kensington with its beautiful, perfectly symmetrical houses.
  • Dr. Edward Fellows lives in the just-becoming-fashionable neighborhood of Chelsea on Sydney Street where a bachelor doctor could have had his office with rooms above
  • There's Mrs. Salver's Tea Shop in Pimlico, a working class neighborhood where people who served the wealthy in Mayfair and Belgravia would have lived
  • Elizabeth sends two very important letters from a huge hotel just off Rochester Row near the bustling travel hub of Victoria station
  • And finally the book ends in Lady Crosby's Eaton Square home

Since my family lives in this area of London, I asked my father, a talented photographer, to take some photos to show readers a little of the world of The Governess Was Wicked. Enjoy this virtual stroll through the streets!