Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Lunch with Julie

Back in my Suzanne Ashley days, I was heavily involved with the local RWA chapter known as TARA - Tampa Area Romance Authors. I had already sold my first novel to Silhouette when I joined RWA. Wow, if only I'd known the resources available then. I'm not normally a joiner, but once joined, I have a tendency to want to do things my way.

Well, my way is the right way, you see. Ask anyone in my family and they'll tell you. So, pretty soon after joining, I muscled my way into....I mean, I was drafted to be the next president. The vice-president was a little five-foot-nothin' spitfire named Julie. I truly grew to love this young woman as I watched her grow as a person and a writer. She was fresh out of college, eager to take on the world and become a NYTimes bestseller. She had both the talent and the chutzpah necessary.

In those days, she was writing as part of a team with her friend Charlene. They had a magnificent novel-in-progress that was set in Tampa (if I'm remembering correctly) around the time that Flagler and his cohorts were developing the area. It was huge and rich and extremely well done for two girls barely out of school. I don't know whatever happened to that book or why Charlene kind of lost interest in it, but the result was the fabulously talented and successful contemporary author, Julie Leto.

Her first sale was to Harlequin, for whom she still produces those steamy things with the bright red covers. And she's really good at the steam, I promise you! I bet nothing in her laundry room EVER has to be ironed. She's also produced a huge stack of single title, paranormal and anthology books. And guess what - she's no stranger to either the NY Times or USAToday best seller lists.

Stuff happened in my life that took me away from writing for a while, so I hadn't seen Julie in more than ten years. It has been a while since we used to run around picking out clip art for the TARA newsletter and setting up Sunshine Saturday at the Marriott, me usually with my son in tow, Julie with her water bottle. She always had a water bottle.

Lunch yesterday became a three-hour gabfest while we caught each other up on what's been going on. With the exception that she was the one with the child in tow, it was as if no time had passed at all. We had a great time with lots of laughs. I'm sorry I let this bright light slip out of my life for so long, but I'm really glad we made the connection again. Julie is a sweetheart and a terrific writer. Look for her stuff. Buy it. She's really good. You can also catch her at You won't be sorry.

Have a great day!

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