I just returned from Long Island, after a weekend visiting first my daughter, then my cousin, topped off yesterday with a wonderful afternoon at Side Street Books in Patchogue, New York.

Side Street Books is a delightful Used and New Bookstore run by a warm and wonderful romance novel enthusiast, Diane Sander, who invited me to come speak to her customers and reading group. It seemed like a great excuse to visit my cousin Margie, who loves historical romance, but it also turned out to be a great afternoon meeting new friends.

There were about fifteen ladies who came to hear me speak, plus one token gentleman, Diane’s husband. My own personal rake, dh Jim put in an appearance, and Margie’s husband, as well. They didn’t last long, because there was a bar next door to the bookstore.

I told the story of “how I sold my first book” (see my interview in the archives) and I then just talked about lots of things. Like, how I almost got a cover model to come with me to the signing–Richard Cerqueira, the “hand” on The Wagering Widow and the very handsome fellow on the spine and inside cover. Unfortunately, he had a conflict. I also talked about how an author gets paid, how film rights work, and re-releases of books, what I did in England, how I developed my “Regency Voice.” All of the women there had read at least one of my books. A REPUTABLE RAKE was one of the reading group’s choices. I gave them each a set of bookmarks, Richard’s and mine, and a little rake of their own, a miniature garden tool. I gave away a Wagering Widow cover flat, signed by Richard, and a Marriage Bargain tote bag.

The ladies brought food. A tasty green salad, fresh fruit salad, and desserts. I had flan that was to die for! I truly felt as if I were talking to a group of friends.

I dropped names as much as I could, other romance authors I know, and did a fair amount of talking about Traditional Regencies, which Diane said are popular among some dedicated customers. These ladies attending the signing were more familiar with Regency Historicals, but I hope I encouraged some of them to try the trads. I saw Amanda’s books on the bookshelf, but I didn’t have a chance to search for my other Risky pals.

The ladies said nice things about my books, asked intelligent questions, and joked around, so that the time whizzed by. I’m hoping to return next year, after I have more books out.

Here’s a picture of some of the ladies and me in front of the store. Note my Marriage Bargain poster in the window.

And, naturally, somebody noticed my Phantom of the Opera watch, giving me the perfect opportunity to talk about Gerard Butler as Phantom. Alas, being so close to NYC, these ladies had all seen POTO on Broadway; some had even seen Michael Crawford in the role, so they were not really listening to me… But I at least planted the seed to go rent the DVD of POTO. Then they’ll know!

Diane (who is now going to unpack and do laundry)

PS I’ll add photos when Blogger lets me!