RWA Holiday Lunch
Cathedral Class Reunion 11-25-09
Port Clinton, OH
August 1, 2009
Book Fair &
Paperback Outlet, Warren, MI
Nov. 13, 2008
Writers on the River
Nov. 9, 2008
Nov. 1, 2008
Mystery Lovers Bookshop's 18th Birthday
Oct. 31, 2008
Akron & Massillon
Oct. 18, 2008
Barnes & Noble
Sept. 14, 2008
& Company, Kettering, OH Sept 10, 2008
Toledo Greek Fest
Sept 5th & 6th
Reader & Writer
Annual Valentine's Tea
February 2, 2008
Annual Holiday Lunch
on the River 2007 - Monroe, MI
by the Banks, Cincinnati, Ohio
Raven Grand Opening - Findlay, Ohio
Greek Fest 2007
Warren, MI 6/28/07
Barnes & Noble Signing
Lovers Bookshop's Festival of Mystery 2007
Memorial Library Visit Feb 17th
Writers on the River Book Fair - November 12th, 2006
More Starving Artists
Toledo Library Panel
Fiction Writers Annual Conference
The Pierre, NYC
RW's Inaugurual Conference September 23-24th, 2006
2006 RWA Conference
W-TLK in Cincinnati
Lori & Tony do LA...
Romantic Times 25th Anniversary Convention
Michigan Women's Festival 5/6/06
Festival of Books
Can't I Get Published?"
Soaking up the...rain?
Rollin' on the River
Okay, on three...
Schmoozing the local
Life is like a tuna casserole
Our kind of people
Express Tour BLOG
Valley RWA Holiday Lunch
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!
It was the morning before
Christmas, and outside the house, triangles were a ringing,
and everyone was a singing, including Lori and her sexy
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.
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’
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
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.
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!)
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)
can find recipes for Greek Xmas cookies melomakarana
and kourabeithes on our site at www.sofiemetro.com/recipes.htm
Cathedral Class Reunion
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 email@example.com to be put
on the mailing list.
Class of '79
Cris Gaytan Beck, Jim Beard, Rea DellaFlora
Class of '81
Amy Harrington, Angi Gaytan, Augie, George
Rios and Arnold.
Jim Beard, Sharon and Amy Harrington.
Amy, Jeanie and Cris.
Augie and his wife Dawn.
Me and Cris.
Augie, George, Angi, Cris and Robert Newman.
Rea and her husband Steve.
Rea talks Steve into buying her a Gangsta
Books 60th Harlequin Anniversary Celebration
Book Exchange - Port Clinton
August 1, 2009
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!
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!
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
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...
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,
Here's our photographic journal of this year's visit:
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.)
Here we are with Bad Barb, Diane, Tee and
We love chatting with Diane! She's such a
breath of fresh air.
Carol is a hoot!
Another pic with the gang, this time with
Annie next to Marilyn!
Yeesh! I should never have said anything to
Gay and Annie about the shoulder-leaning,
chin-reducing move. LOL
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!
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!
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
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
Lovers Bookshop's 18th
Birthday Halloween Bash!
Friday, October 31, 2008
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
Till next our paths cross, guys!
Kathy Sweeney has logged a fabulous connecting post
at Lipstick Chronicles. Check it out by clicking
Till then, order autographed copies of participating
authors' books by going to Mystery Lovers Bookshop's
great on-line bookstore by clicking here!
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
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!
Same time next
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
If you'd like an autographed copy of Working Stiff,
contact Books & Co. at 937-298-6540. But do
it quick! Supplies are limited.
Dear Christina Tomazini and manager Sharon
This was Renee's last event before retiring
to Connecticut. Warm thanks, Renee!
The Troy contingent came out en masse. That's
Mike, Dave and Sue (in red) of Around
About Books, and Dynamic Diane and new
Rebekah and Diane.
Mike with a book in his nose. Er, I mean his
nose in a book.
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.)
Jenny Spalding and her gorgeous daughter Emily.
Paula came in as envoy from Foul Play books.
Her other half David was in Cleveland at another
Good luck with your writing, Holly!
Thanks for coming out, everyone! It was an
absolute joy to see you. (Special mention
to Karen, whose daughter Charissa passed unexpectedly
That's Arita to the right. What a hoot!
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?
Tony enjoying a moment with Culture Booth
co-chair Joyce Anagnos-Hambou and Christos
Kamilaris, co-owner of Georgio's
Liz and Pete Theodorou and their beautiful
boys in dance costume.
Joyce's mom and Greek School teacher Dawn
(Avi), Toledo City Councilman George
Sarantou, and his daughter Chrissyl.
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.
Sergeant Mike McGee at the ready with a pen
in case we're away from our table!
Eddie, Virginia, Cindy, Gus and Bill.
Gorgeous Kylie and Heidi are proud of their
Neighbors Krystal and her dad Al came out
to say hello!
Women in Blue! Officers Joleen and Lynn make
an excellent Tony pita, doncha think?
No idea who this guy was, but he was a hoot!
to view earlier BLOG entries.