Romantic Life Lessons

The Blooms: Amateur Starspotters

Most of my loved ones know how obsessed I am with celebrities, and yet you won’t see me interrupting their lives* or asking for a selfie. That’s where my husband comes in. We are a team.

sampayshie

I’m the one who spots the celebrities, and I gauge whether it’s too dangerous to point him/her out to Sam. Once I mention it, Sam will tap the star on the shoulder and burst into a song of love.

Call me the one who hides in the bushes while he makes his approach, say to an unsuspecting Will Arnett. Yeah, I did that. Sam acted as if they were old rugby friends until the jig was up and the man rushed away. My husband managed to get in an “I love your work.” And he really does.

More recently, I hid in the cheese section of West Side Market, wondering if Sam would wind up in jail. Instead, he got a selfie with CNN host Richard Quest.

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Sam is a delight, though you have to admit, my restraint is admirable, especially when you consider that my mother lives on the same floor as two megastars. Do I knock on their doors? Never. It’s a very Remains of the Day relationship where I am Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson is Star 1 and Star 2–except they don’t know I exist. My mother refuses to do the neighborly thing and invite them over to meet her daughter.

I can forgive her because every month Sam and I have a new celebrity adventure. In November, we went to see the Broadway version of Network, starring Bryan Cranston, Tony Goldwyn, and Tatiana Maslany, among many others. We had tickets on the stage, which meant we were very close to the celebrities. It was a thrill, and not just because Bryan Cranston is The God of Acting. Sam and Tony Goldwyn had a moment (Sam always gets his moment).

Last week, Chris Meloni “liked” my tweet, headline news that I promptly texted to my brother. Soon after, at an office lunch in Tribeca, I noticed John Heilemann, the MSNBC commentator and co-creator of The Circus, at a nearby table. Sam would have gotten a selfie, but I am not an interrupter. Plus, my boss was sitting next to me. It was tough enough to keep from tweeting about it. Eventually, I couldn’t resist.

Hopefully, in the new year, more stars will cross our path. They will be lucky to encounter Sam. Just ask Sonja Morgan, from The Real Housewives of New York. My husband accidentally called her “Nyla” but he got a good pic.

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*I did approach “Nyla” because she was standing alone at a party, looking around. Who am I kidding? I had to say hello to her.

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Real-Life Romance to Become a Book: Did This Really Happen to Me?

sampayshieMy love of romance began with The Love Boat and that flirtation between Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner in Wonder Woman. I consumed stories more feverishly when Nici, my high school BFF and future matron-of-honor, handed me my first Harlequin Presents circa 1983–when I was negative 10 years old. There were a few detours before I wound up editing romance novels full-time and–shockingly–finding a hero of my own.

My husband and I have a great love story, but I didn’t consider writing about it for public consumption, aside from the occasional mention on social media. Even though we got to meet Anderson Cooper and appear on the Rachael Ray Show, I still thought, we are far too boring. Secretly, I wrote a few versions of our romance with the intention of stowing them in my closet, along with my many pairs of black shoes and questionable knitting projects.

Late last year, I was telling someone about how Sam and I reconnected, and it hit home how uplifting our story is. It’s about finding love after you’ve given up (and the irony of editing romance through nasty breakups). One of the reasons why I read romance is that the stories make me happy. Of course, I want to write my happy story. In February, this book sold to Dutton and will be coming out early next year. It details my growing love of the romance genre, running parallel to my decreasing interest in real-life romance–until Sam.

I still can’t believe this happened to me, even though I spent the last five months writing and writing. I can’t believe it to the point where I haven’t said much except to a few friends, colleagues and family. Well, until now! What an extraordinary journey this has been.

Please pinch me.

Romantic Life Lessons

A Romance Editor Meets Her Own Prince Charming

Let this story be a reminder that you never know what’s around the corner or when Mr/Ms. Right will appear. Having read romance novels for thirteen years and serial dated/monogamized for twenty-five, I gave up on true love. The weird part was that I didn’t much care. A girl is just fine by herself (I still believe this) and I didn’t relish the idea of more romance, making more small talk and waiting for the vanishing act/the red flag/other shoe to drop. It had happened a million times before. Dating in Manhattan was feeling too much like a greasy buffet.

Then out of nowhere, when I didn’t care (August 10, 2009), I got a Friend request from a familiar name. The popular boy from high school, a few years ahead of me, that fun, adorable class clown. I realized his appearance in my life had to be a divine gift. This “Friending” began a four-month whirlwind correspondence, though I proceeded with some caution. That “knowing he was The One” feeling one hears about–I finally had it! Suddenly, those romance novels didn’t seem so implausible.

Here is our story told in a few different places:

The Rachael Ray Show

The New York Times wedding section

The New York Times wedding video