Maumee Valley
RWA Holiday Lunch


My Big, Fat
Greek Christmas


Rosary Cathedral Class Reunion 11-25-09

The Book Exchange
Port Clinton, OH
August 1, 2009


Maumee Valley
RWA Valentine's
Tea 2-14-09


Macomb Book Fair &
Writers Conference


The Paperback Outlet, Warren, MI
Nov. 13, 2008


Monroe Writers on the River
Nov. 9, 2008


Boo
ks-A-Million Grand Opening
Nov. 1, 2008

Mystery Lovers Bookshop's 18th Birthday Halloween Bash
Oct. 31, 2008


Akron & Massillon
Oct. 18, 2008


Toledo Barnes & Noble
Sept. 14, 2008


Books & Company, Kettering, OH Sept 10, 2008

2008 Toledo Greek Fest
Sept 5th & 6th



2008 Reader & Writer
Get-Together


MVRWA's Annual Valentine's Tea
February 2, 2008


MVRWA's Annual Holiday Lunch

Writers on the River 2007 - Monroe, MI

Bo
oks by the Banks, Cincinnati, Ohio
11/3/07


Ohio Library
Council Convention
10/12/07


Writers Live
Medina, Ohio
10/11/07


Stately Raven Grand Opening - Findlay, Ohio
9/22/07

Toledo Greek Fest 2007

Greece Fires

Schlachter Family
Reunion 2007


Sofie's Souvlaki &
Tzatziki Recipe


Books & Co
Kettering, OH
7/10/07


Paperback Outlet
Warren, MI 6/28/07


Toledo Barnes & Noble Signing

Mystery Lovers Bookshop's Festival of Mystery 2007

Herrick Memorial Library Visit Feb 17th

MVRWA's 2007
Valentine's Tea


Monroe Writers on the River Book Fair - November 12th, 2006

No More Starving Artists
Toledo Library Panel


Don's Books,
Kokomo, IN


Columbus Fiction Writers Annual Conference
Oct 13-14,2006


More Than Words,
The Pierre, NYC
October 4-5,2006


Ottawa RW's Inaugurual Conference September 23-24th, 2006

2006 Toledo
Greek Fest


HOTlanta
2006 RWA Conference


W-TLK in Cincinnati

Warren '06

Lori & Tony do LA...

Toledo Borders

Worthington Tea

Romantic Times 25th Anniversary Convention


Books & Co.
Kettering, Ohio
5/12/06


Foul Play Mystery
Books 5/10/06


Michigan Women's Festival 5/6/06


Mystery Lovers
Festival of Books
4/24/06


"Why Can't I Get Published?"
Toledo Library
4/8/06


Troy Book
Lovers Festival


Tea, anyone?

Soaking up the...rain?


Rollin' on the River


Okay, on three..
.

Schmoozing the local press...

Life is like a tuna casserole

MBA

Our kind of people


Baklava Express Tour BLOG

Photo Album



Dee's Diary

Isabel Swift's
BLOG

Plot Monkeys

Robin Gorrell's
BLOG

Soapbox Queens






Maumee Valley RWA Holiday Lunch
Biaggi's Perrysburg

There's so much to love about the Holidays, and right up there in on the list is getting together with great friends. We thoroughly enjoyed catching up with fellow MVRWA members at the annual Holiday Lunch. For more info on the group and our members, click here!
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Left: Jim Duncan, Sloan Parker, and income Chapter Prez Connie Phillips. Right, Tracy Madison, outgoing prez Olivia Charles and Shay Lacy.
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Jill Kemerer, Connie Phillips and Katrina Beal.

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Barb Nagel, Patty Beegle and Shay Lacy.

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Linda Szymanski, Lesly Banton.
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Katrina Beal, moi and Patrice Kavanaugh.
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Shay brought along this 'blast from the past' pic. See the blue flag denoting our National RITA Award nominee status? Tony complained because two books made the finals in two different cats, but all we got was one flag. LOL


It was the morning before Christmas, and outside the house, triangles were a ringing, and everyone was a singing, including Lori and her sexy spouse…

Kales Yiortes. That’s Happy Holidays in Greek. And, no, I’m not using the generic greeting in deference to Chanukah and Kwanza (although we wish everyone a warm and wonderful Holiday Season). Rather, there are so many individual celebrations that fall inside the Greek 12 Days of Christmas that I’d be here all day writing them out, so Happy Holidays should about cover it.

Ever since I (Lori) was introduced to Greek mythology, I wanted to be, well, Greek. Since that wasn’t possible, I did the next best thing and married one (becoming Greek by, um, injection, as one Tampa radio host put it). My first Greek Christmas experience came when I was twenty-two and actually in Greece. Talk about diving head first into the deep end of the baptism pool. I was raised Catholic in a place where menorahs are as common as Christmas trees, and icon kissing is frowned upon at best, sacrilegious at worst. But in Greece where the population is 99% Greek Orthodox…well, to say that the Holidays are celebrated to the nth degree would be understating things a bit. Then again, over the past twenty some odd years I’ve been married to Tony aka Adonis (yes, that’s really his name and he’ll always be my own, personal Greek god), I’ve come to understand that for the Greeks, to breathe is to live, and to live is to break plates.

At any rate, in the States, the only time neighborhood children come knocking at your door is at Halloween and during the Girl Scout cookie fundraising drive. So imagine my surprise when very early Christmas Eve morn the celebration began with groups of children from age three up standing on the stoop ringing triangles (you get the occasional bouzouki, which is cool, and every now and again gypsies will happen by with clarinets and the whole nine), and heralding Christ’s birth with a traditional kalanda (Greek xmas carol) while you stand beaming and encouraging them to speak up from the open doorway. Tradition dictates you give them something, and while once cookies might have done the trick, now money is the way to go, with the cutest of them getting the heaviest coin. (This is also done on New Year’s Eve morning, with a kalanda proclaiming Agios Vassilis’ coming.)

On the third Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three live hens, two wild boars and lamb’s innards on a silver tray…

The true festivities begin when you return from midnight mass to break the two-week Christmas fast, the house filling up with family (Tony’s parents’ place in this instance [we lived two floors up from them that year]), the table laden with food and huge bottles of wine ready to be poured. The first thing I learned was to try not to name the food being piled onto my plate (well, okay, it actually took me some time to learn this; call me squeamish, but lamb intestines is so not on my list of favorites), because to have goat meat served up beside whole roasted baby pig is not only common but the standard. And if you’re dining with the Greeks, you HAVE to eat. They stop just short of force-feeding it to you, but their methods are just as effective as saying “open wide.” This is the point where you really appreciate their custom of knocking back wine like shots of liquor and are ready to elevate tsatsiki (a very strong garlic-cucumber yogurt sauce) to a key spot on the food pyramid.

As an American in Athens, I, of course, thought I was completely prepared for what would transpire on Christmas Day. I mean, how different could the celebrations be? While the caroling children should have given me a clue, at the time I didn’t speak Greek well, so I went armed with decorations, shopped for a tree, and put gifts for everyone underneath it. Imagine my surprise at the family’s surprise when I gave them each their wrapped packages. You see gifts, if any, are exchanged on New Year’s Day, even for the kids who are visited by Agios Vassilis (Saint Basil), who rings in the New Year.

Interesting, really, that the word “commercial” doesn’t exist in the Greek language. While taking a box of melomakarana, kourbeithes, diples or any other Greek Holiday sweet either homemade or sold at corner bakeries (about the only thing open during this time, including gas stations, which can prove challenging), is traditionally presented to the day’s hostess, there really is no gift-giving outside the immediate family. This proved a bit of a culture shock for me…until I understood that the money they would have been spent on gifts is instead used to fill the table with food and wine for the length of the twelve days. A tradition that sets a joyous tone, the giving coming by way of love from the heart, and with warmth provided by family and a blazing fire that keeps the Kalikantzri at bay (evil sprites Tony always imagined as miniature red devils complete with pitch forks, horns and tails, that play mischievous pranks if you don’t keep a fire going during the entire 12 days. Okay, this one caused a nightmare or two for me).

And so began a fun and dizzying period of unidentifiable food, free-flowing wine and activity that didn’t stop until January 6th.

Ah, and then there was the dancing. When was the last time you went to your in-laws for the Holidays, ate dinner, then moved all the furniture out of the way so everyone could dance until their feet hurt, or until the wine ran out, or both? From Christmas Day on, imagine a nonstop line of joined hands and happy feet moving over a carpet of broken plates while traditional bouzouki music flows from the houses to fill the streets. Opa!

And the traditions I learned that first Greek Holiday Season… There are so many of them, it’s so difficult to pick my favorites, but I’ll give it a shot. First, Christmas dinner is begun with Christopsomo, round Christmas sweet bread that’s crossed three times before cutting by the head of the house, a piece given to each diner. Another similar custom is the cutting of Vassilopita, a round New Year’s cake that has a coin hidden inside. Whoever receives the piece bearing the coin is said to have extra luck for the year. (This is done in each house and later at businesses, with “the cutting of the Vassilopita" a bit of a post-holiday party in the case of the latter, often times including the families of the employees so the season can stretch to February or until lent. Gotta love the Greeks!)

Then there was Foton or Epiphany, the celebration that officially brought a close to the 12 Days. Huge tanks of water were placed outside all the churches and blessed. A good cup in hand, I visited the church across the street with Mana (my mother-in-law), bringing home some of the holy water and, using a sprig of fresh Basil, she sprinkled it throughout the house to both cleanse and bless it for the New Year (one year a priest came to do this). Including everyone inside. (The first time my late mother-in-law – bless her soul -- did this, I think she was a bit upset with me because I really got showered. Kind of reminded me of a scene from the Exorcist and it was all I could do not to thrash my head back and forth and cry, “It burns, it burns!” Ahem. Sorry. I probably will burn for that one. In Greek Hell.)

In all seriousness, until I experienced the Holidays in Greece, the 12 Days of Christmas existed as only a song for me. As a writer, I’ve got to appreciate the symmetry of the celebration. You have your beginning by way of Christmas, your middle via New Year’s, and your end with Epiphany. As a human being, this time of family togetherness and high spirits left me in awe and ready to face the New Year with a bag full of happy memories and, well, all partied out.

So if Tony and I could wish you three things from the Greeks, they would be good health, the warmth of family (whichever way you define it), and a very strong stomach.

Kala Christouyenna kai Kali Xronia! (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)

You can find recipes for Greek Xmas cookies melomakarana and kourabeithes on our site at www.sofiemetro.com/recipes.htm


Rosary Cathedral Class Reunion
Tony Packo's
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009


I can't tell you how great it was to see everyone! Talk is of doing this again next year, so if you didn't make it now, definitely plan on coming out then! Send me an email at toricarrington@aol.com to be put on the mailing list.
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Class of '79
Cris Gaytan Beck, Jim Beard, Rea DellaFlora McAninch
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Class of '81
Amy Harrington, Angi Gaytan, Augie, George Rios and Arnold.
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Jim Beard, Sharon and Amy Harrington.
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Amy, Jeanie and Cris.
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Augie and his wife Dawn.
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Me and Cris.
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Augie, George, Angi, Cris and Robert Newman.
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Rea and her husband Steve.
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Rea talks Steve into buying her a Gangsta Packo's hoodie...


Don's Books 60th Harlequin Anniversary Celebration
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The Book Exchange - Port Clinton
August 1, 2009

When The Book Exchange owner Annette Fitzgerald contacted us to participate in a multi-author signing at her Port Clinton outlet (they have another in Clyde, Ohio) we jumped at the chance to take part in an event so close to home that included old friends as well as new. Then in the weeks leading up to the signing we traded countless tweets with "Netti," and knew that we were going to have a blast. We were not disappointed! And can't wait until the next time!
Go to http://www.thebookexchange.net for contact info so you can order signed copies from any or all of the authors that participated!

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From left to right: Mike Fitzgerald, Holly Jacobs, Annette Fitzgerald, moi, Tony and Susan Gable.
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Netti!
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Authors in the house! Holly Jacobs, Sandy -Whorter, Susan Gable and P.J. Grondin.
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Rosemary! That's her in the middle next to her dh George. She's writing a new fantasy series called Brytewood under the pen name Georgia Evans.
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Annette schmoozing with authors Tom Schafer and Carol Ann Erhardt.
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Author Mandy Roth.
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Author Shiloh Walker.
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Jen!
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David, Sandy and Connie stop by to chat.
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No, this is not Sofie Metro's Lucille. At least not yet! First she has to convince Porter to stop tinkering with her "Sheila" and turn her into a hot mama!
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Maumee Valley RWA Annual Valentine's Tea
Saturday, February 14th, 2009
Sanger Branch Library, Toledo, Ohio

We love this annual local event! Besides giving us a chance to enjoy our fellow chaptermates and longtime friends, it's an opportunity for our group to open the doors to everyone and anyone interesting in reading or even writing romance. For more info, visit www.MVRWA.net. Hope you enjoy the pics!
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The gang's all here! Well, almost. I couldn't attend, but Tony more than made up for the absence.
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Jim Duncan, HH & Silhouette author Denise Lynn and Leisure author Tracy Madison.
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Macomb Book Fair & Writers Conference
Mount Clemens Library
Saturday, February 7th, 2009

We were delightfully surprised when fellow author and reference librarian Karen White-Owens contacted us to keynote the 4th Annual Macomb Book Fair & Writers Conference. It's been nearly a decade since we first met Karen and her darlin' husband, Gary at a Toledo event and this invitation was the perfect excuse to see what all she's been up to (which is a tremendous lot! Check out her personal site at http://www.karenwhiteowens.com/). We had a magnificent time and were honored to participate in this growing annual event. Make sure to mark your calendars for next year! Karen is already working to make it even bigger than this year's...
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We loved catching up with Book Fair chair and phenomenal author Karen White-Owens and her dh Gary Owens.
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GDRWA prez and dear friend and author Patti Shenberger and Deborah.
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Shots of the audience...
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It was great to see Gay! She (along with her partner Annie) owns Paperback Outlet in Warren.
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Gay and inspirational author and pal Gail Gaymer Martin.
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Julie of Little Professor, Gary Owens and Renee.
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Gay, GDRWA prez and dear friend and author Patti Shenberger . There's Renee in the front!
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Sylvia Hubbard shared her extensive Internet Marketing expertise.
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Myspace Friend Karen and new friend Sharon swap stories with us.
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Julie (middle) of Little Professor Book Center in Fenton handle Fair booksales.
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Cheryl of Little Professor was a tall, refreshing glass of sweet tea.
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Dr. Isaiah McKinnon shares his incredible experiences as Detroit Police Chief with a captive audience.
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Our son Tim (right) and his friend Jason enjoy some outdoor time on a rare spring day.


The Paperback Outlet
Warren, MI
November 12, 2008

At this point the gang in Warren is more family than friends. And our annual visits resemble potluck dinners. We kick back and snack while talking books and life and enjoying each other's company. It's a good thing we don't live closer or else we'd be tempted to do this every month. Unfortunately my hips are already wide enough, thankyouverymuch!
Here's our photographic journal of this year's visit:
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The gang's (almost) all here! Back row from left to right: Alicia, Lynn, Sandy, Diane, Gay and Marilyn. Front row: Yvonne, Deanna and Lisa. (Missed are previous owner and longtime friend Betty Schulte, Mary and Celia.)
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Here we are with Bad Barb, Diane, Tee and Terrific Tabitha!
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We love chatting with Diane! She's such a breath of fresh air.
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Carol is a hoot!
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Another pic with the gang, this time with Annie next to Marilyn!
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Yeesh! I should never have said anything to Gay and Annie about the shoulder-leaning, chin-reducing move. LOL
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This is the booty we went home with! Tee and Tabitha provided the homemade (delish!) banana bread, the beautiful handmade haircomb and the Hoops & YoYo card. Sandy brought us fresh honey and honey butter from her beekeeping next door neighbor. Yum! Thanks, guys!


Writers on the River Book Fair
Ellis Center, Monroe Michigan
Sunday, November 9, 2008

This was the 10th anniversary of the Writers on the River Book Fair and we were delighted to help celebrate the important milestone. Under Bernie Smith's capable direction, the Fair has grown in size and scope, including many local authors of nearly every genre. We love catching up with old friends, and making new. See you all again, same time, same place next year!
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The lovely Bernie Smith.
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Jane!
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"Uh oh, here she comes again with the camera..."
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Gail Gaymer Martin is a one-woman promo machine!
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Boy, they're starting younger and younger every day!
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This year the Fair set up a special section for Young Authors. Now how's a body supposed to compete with this spectacular talent?
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The raffle baskets are always a huge draw.
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The music trio really created a sense of occasion.
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More young authors!
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This is Tara Michener's first book!
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Gail Martin!
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Pastor David Claassen's first ever booksigning!
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Dear friend and fellow writer and MVRWA alum Barb Nagel's sister Bernie (to my right), is thoroughly enjoyable! This year she stopped by with her daughter and grandchildren. What a beautiful bunch!
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Melinda to the left is a 17-year-old phenom who knows exactly what she wants to be (a remarkably imaginative writers), and Darlene is a multi-talented artist in her own right who proves that we're all young at heart.
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Heidi McCraw may have traded in her librarian tag to go back to nursing, but she never fails to stop by for a catch up.
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Fellow MVRWA member and friend Brigette Ostas.
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Paul Harrington and his lovely wife were our signing neighbors this year.


Books-a-Million Grand Opening
Fairview, OH (Cleveland)
Saturday, November 2, 2008

When Books & Co.'s Sharon Kelly Roth originally proposed we attend the Grand Opening of this, the first Books-A-Million in NE Ohio, we leapt at the chance. And, boy, are we ever glad we did! We had a great time helping celebrate this momentous event. Warm thanks to Gennita *, Carla Reardon and the whole gang for making us feel part of the family. May your future be bright and prosperous!

Pick up an autographed copy at the store or call 216-706-5018 to reserve one. Hurry, supplies are limited! Oh, and did I mention that they make great gifts?
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Books-A-Million District Manager Juneda Mahavixay was a delight!
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That's store manager Carla Reardon to the right, and Mike.
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We got a kick out of Sondra. Too bad we didn't bring our video cam or we'd have footage of her newly learned bellydance moves!
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Paul was giving Tarot readings. Interested in having him read for you personally or at your party? Give him a call at 216-978-2144 or 216-221-5051.
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The Two Cancers! Meg and Rita kept us in stitches.
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Aptly named Scarlett!


Mystery Lovers Bookshop's 18th
Birthday Halloween Bash!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Oakmont, PA


We adore Mary Alice and Richard and the entire gang at Mystery Lovers Bookshop and loved taking part in their 18th Birthday celebration. eHarlequin.com's "Rae" surprised us by popping up for a long overdue visit (it's been much, much too long!), and after the official booksigning, and changing of a flat tire (not ours, but Becky's, Rae's friends) we had a great time indulging in Bitch wine and talking politics.
Till next our paths cross, guys!

Kathy Sweeney has logged a fabulous connecting post at Lipstick Chronicles. Check it out by clicking here.

Till then, order autographed copies of participating authors' books by going to Mystery Lovers Bookshop's great on-line bookstore by clicking here!
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The authors: Tony and I, Marcia Talley, Ellen Crosby, and Donna Andrews.
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Rae! eHarlequin.com hostie and fellow author Heather Rae Scott is next to Tony, her gorgeous and oh-so-young daughter is beside her and her friend and neighbor Becky next to me.
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That's Richard Goldman to the left.
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Kathy!
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Becky.
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Rae!
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Portage Lakes Branch Library &
St. George Oktoberfest
Akron and Massillon, Ohio

When longtime Greek-American pal Kathy Andrico invited us for a visit, we jumped all over the chance to hike through her neck of the woods. The day was full of laughter and fun...and lots of food! Warm thanks to everyone who made our visit a memorable one.
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The Hamburger Station offers up delectable fare!
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The staff at the Portage Lake Library set up a great spread and made us feel welcome.
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Hmm...I wonder if he's telling the gator story...
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One of our MySpace Friends Angel!
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Kathy's BFF Tina.
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Joyce Ann McLaughlin surprised us!
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Loree stepped in when Sue fell ill.
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Kathy and I enjoying the Greek Fest!
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Aren't the adorable?
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A fellow Piriotisa!


Barnes & Noble
Toledo, Ohio

Local signings are the time to catch up with friends old and new, turning the event into a party! Of course, this year we had to compete with the "Move That Bus!" final filming of Extreme Makover Home Edition just a mile or so away (the Toledo episode airs in November and the Frisch family is wonderfully deserving - a local fire station where Aaron works was also updated. Click here for a peek at local coverage), and the gusty remnants of Hurricane Ike (two of the hurricane-related deaths occurred in Ohio). Who knew?

Stop by Barnes & Noble -- or call 419-472-6164 to reserve or order -- your signed copy. Quantities are limited, so hurry!
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Kim is part of the family that owns Toledo's Jo-Jo's Pizza! We thoroughly enjoy talking with her.
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Fellow MVRWA chaptermates Barb Nagel, Jennie Moening and Rita Shake.
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Manager Ryan took great care of us.
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Jim Duncan, Jennie, Tracy Madison (her 1st book A Taste of Magic is out in March!), Rita Shake and Connie Phillips.
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Tony and I trade places.
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Janet's back!
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Jill Kemerer (to the far right) is a new and wonderful addition to MVRWA! Her parents and gorgeous children came out for a 'hello.'
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FOX 36 Camerman Chris stopped by after Extreme Makeover for a chat. (Warm thanks to another fellow MVRWA-an Wendy Sheridan for arranging for the interview.)
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Chris, full frontal. Well...yeesh, you know what I mean!
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Lauren was buying Working Stiff up front, not knowing we were signing!
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Ryan and Matt (not pictured, Bruce).


Books & Company
Kettering, Ohio
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Visiting Sharon Kelly Roth and Christina Tomazini and the gang at Books & Co. has become a wonderful annual tradition for us and feels a bit like coming home, really. We always feel so welcome and our appearances more resemble personal visits than professional engagements. Is it any wonder, what with a fantastic group like this?

If you'd like an autographed copy of Working Stiff, contact Books & Co. at 937-298-6540. But do it quick! Supplies are limited.
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Dear Christina Tomazini and manager Sharon Kelly Roth.
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This was Renee's last event before retiring to Connecticut. Warm thanks, Renee!
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The Troy contingent came out en masse. That's Mike, Dave and Sue (in red) of Around About Books, and Dynamic Diane and new author Rebekah McCoy.
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Rebekah and Diane.
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Lovely Sharon.
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Mike with a book in his nose. Er, I mean his nose in a book.
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Another Troy buds pic along with Jenny Spalding. (Check out Around About Books' Annual Book Lovers Fest to be held March 13 & 14th, 2009! We'll be there bearing baklava.)
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Jenny Spalding and her gorgeous daughter Emily.
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Paula came in as envoy from Foul Play books. Her other half David was in Cleveland at another event.
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Good luck with your writing, Holly!
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Thanks for coming out, everyone! It was an absolute joy to see you. (Special mention to Karen, whose daughter Charissa passed unexpectedly last February.)
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That's Arita to the right. What a hoot!
Same time next year?

The 38th Annual Toledo Greek Fest
September 5-8, 2008
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral

This was our third year signing at the event, with a portion of the proceeds going to the church. An excuse to be surrounded by fellow Greek-Americans, eat Greek food, watch the talented dance troops and listen to Greek music performed live by The Levendes? We're so there! Warm thanks to everyone who stopped by, and to Joyce Anagnos-Hambou and Maria Papps for making it happen. Same time next year?
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Tony enjoying a moment with Culture Booth co-chair Joyce Anagnos-Hambou and Christos Kamilaris, co-owner of Georgio's Cafe International.
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Liz and Pete Theodorou and their beautiful boys in dance costume.
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Joyce's mom and Greek School teacher Dawn (Avi), Toledo City Councilman George Sarantou, and his daughter Chrissyl.
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Aren't they magnificent? Maria (far right) and Laurie (far left) made our day. Maria's mom Julie stands next to her. Their family is from the Greek Island of Chios.
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Sergeant Mike McGee at the ready with a pen in case we're away from our table!
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Eddie, Virginia, Cindy, Gus and Bill.
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Gorgeous Kylie and Heidi are proud of their heritage.
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Neighbors Krystal and her dad Al came out to say hello!
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Festival Chairman
George Sarris.
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Father Chris.

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Women in Blue! Officers Joleen and Lynn make an excellent Tony pita, doncha think?
 
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No idea who this guy was, but he was a hoot!
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