The cocktail lounge I may very well have dreamed up

So, maybe you don’t have movie-star good looks. Maybe you don’t drive a luxury car or live in a fashionable part of town. You can still feel like a VIP. All it takes is reservations at Bar Smyth in Dallas, Texas.

Don’t look for a neon sign or sidewalk seating. The entry for Bar Smyth is completely unmarked—part of its mystique. Announce yourself using the small keypad next to a nondescript door and you’ll be buzzed inside.

Old Fashioned cocktailA dim hallway leads you to a narrow, warmly-furnished space that may have you checking the calendar to be sure you haven’t stepped back to a Prohibition-era speakeasy, or a Cold War-era covert rendezvous.

Menus? This place is too cool for menus

Your bartender visits your table with some questions, then disappears to concoct a beverage to appeal to your personal flavor profile. The results are surprising and exquisite.

My visit included two excellent cocktails. The first, shown here, was an Old Fashioned, crafted for me with grapefruit bitters, and tequila instead of bourbon. The second, a perfectly balanced Sazarac. (Hats off to Robert the bartender for choosing America’s oldest-known cocktail for me. I love a good Sazarac.)

Most of the others in our party preferred slightly sweeter drinks. Our bartender called on a variety of fruits, herbs and flowers to delight each of them in turn.

Bar Smyth sounds like fiction, right? For me, it sounded like my fiction—specifically Club Clandestine, in Going Native. Here’s how it breaks down:

Real vs. fictional VIP cocktail lounges

Club Clandestine (from my novel, Going Native)Bar Smyth (located on Travis Street in Dallas, TX)
Hard-to-spot entryUnmarked entry
Bouncer asks for passwordSecure, locked entrance
Dim stairs lead down to clubDim hallway leads to club
Speakeasy/Cold War spy vibeSpeakeasy/Cold War spy vibe
Unforgettable night of covert, erotic games in the arms of a sexy heroOutstanding cocktails in intimate setting, guaranteed to make you feel special

All told, a remarkable evening. And I confess I’m glad to have friends who can assure me it really happened. Otherwise, I might wonder if, like Club Clandestine, I’d created Bar Smyth out of my own secret imaginings.

Shall I meet you there?

Two more March events: Keeping company with amazing authors

Book cover of the sweet, sexy erotic romance, Going Native, by Sally FeltThe final two weekends in March see me taking part in big public events for readers.

Saturday March 23, 10am–5pm

Romancing the Books, free to the public
Bedford Public Library, Bedford TX

Join me and more than 30 authors and poets for a day of workshops, public readings, book signings and drawings for free goodies. At noon, I’ll be reading from Going Native.

Friday March 29, 6:30pm–8:30pm

Dreamin’ in Dallas book signing, free to the public
Doubletree Hotel, Richardson, TX

If you love romance, mark your calendar! I’m privileged to signing alongside such luminaries as Cherry Adair, Christy Craig, Meijean Brook, Lori Wilde, Shayla Black, Liliana Hart, Lorraine Heath and dozens of other incredibly talented authors. Sixty authors altogether! A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to support local literacy programs. Great books for a good cause. Bing the clowning dachshund adds fun to Going Native, a romance by Sally Felt

SWAG: One more reason to see me at the Dreamin’ in Dallas event

If you’ve read Going Native, you know one of the key characters is a dachshund named Bing… and he inspired my giveaways for this huge Friday night event. Stop by to say hi, and I promise you won’t go away empty handed.

Romance that lasts: vintage London Fog

The tag of my perfect (vintage) London Fog coat
You could say Violet (the heroine of Going Native) loves clothes a little too much, especially the clothes in her friend Giselle’s closet. To her, they represent romance, adventure, feminine power and sex. When she tries on Giselle’s clothes, she’s trying on Giselle’s life—and gets more than she bargained for.

There’s romance in my closet, too, in the form of a raincoat I bought more than 20 years ago.

I justified paying full price for it by measuring it against my list of requirements. And quite a long list it was. My perfect raincoat needed:

  • Career-appropriate appearance
  • Zip out liner
  • Single breasted
  • No belt
  • Neither beige nor black

Yes, I was an unapologetic perfectionist. Some requirements were practical, like the lining. Most were vanity, based on mistakes I’d already made. (I don’t look good in trench-coat tan, not many belted coats look good unbuttoned, etc.)

I looked high and low, unwilling to compromise. And then I found it. A grey-green London Fog with a floral print in muted purples. It fulfilled every requirement.

At rainbow’s end, I found rain-repellent happiness

As I pulled the coat from the department store hanger, I heard angels sing. This was love.

Detail of Sally Felt's beloved vintage raincoat.

Some garment love affairs are short lived. One season. Two. And I admit my trusty London Fog hasn’t always been the first coat I reached for every one of the 20-plus years since my ecstatic purchase. But it’s been a consistent player in the rotation. This winter it’s enjoying near-constant wear, partly because it’s been a perfect match to local weather and partly because a friend’s daughter knitted me an infinity scarf that’s an uncanny match, color-wise.

“Where did you get your coat? I love it!”

From a cost-per-wearing standpoint alone, it’s become one of the thriftiest purchases I have ever made. But there’s more.

The coat attracts groupies. Fashion-conscious women, who were toddlers when the coat was made, lust after its stand-up collar and shoulder pads. They dig its inverted back pleat and angular sleeve detail. They swoon to think there’s a coat that goes so perfectly with a purple purse and gloves.

It’s even possible they hear the angels sing, though I’ve not asked.

Is the thing fashionable? I haven’t a clue. I wear it because I love it and because it’s just so darned perfect. I don’t even mind the smug told you so offered by past-perfectionist me.

How’s your closet love life? Tell me about one of your longest-lived garments. Do you still love wearing it, or is the thrill gone?

February 1 with the Plotting Princesses and Groundhog Day

I’m a summer gal. So by the time we reach the end of January, beginning of February, I’m already desperate for warm temperatures and long, sunlit days and it seems they will never come. Maybe that’s why I love the 1993 film “Groundhog Day.”

As Phil Connor (the Bill Murray character) says, “You want a prediction about the weather, you’re asking the wrong Phil. I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”

I love it because, of course, it doesn’t last the rest of his life. He’s stuck. Feeling trapped and hopeless. And with Groundhog Day, he has a magical opportunity to change his outlook, his luck, his heart and ultimately, his life.

So does the heroine of Going Native. Come join me on the Plotting Princesses blog to talk about the courage to change.

When “good girls” go wild

Sally Felt models t-shirt reading, "Recovering Good Girl. Tempt me."Family expectations. Peer pressure. Poor self image. It’s easy to understand why so many of us wind up living life by someone else’s rules—being Good Girls. Do it long enough and it becomes a tough habit to break.

Ready to join Good Girls recovery?

Good girls don’t make demands or attract attention. Even the smallest steps toward independent self expression take courage. It feels like a crazy rebellion, rife with potential for dire consequences.

It helps to have a friend or role model who actively creates the life of her dreams. Someone to encourage us to say what we think and pursue what we want.

For Violet, the heroine of my sexy romance Going Native, it’s a free-spirited friend who lives the glamorous lifestyle of Violet’s dreams. In the book, Violet literally steps into her friend’s shoes for a month, learning what it feels like to live larger.

(Naturally, complications ensue. It’s a romantic comedy, after all.)

Bravery comes in all forms (and t-shirt sizes)

If you’re like me, still working to break the habit of second guessing yourself (or whatever Good Girl behavior is your personal bugaboo), I invite you to solicit support. Friends. Or a mentor.

Step out. Take a chance. Learn what sets you on fire. You are the only you the world will ever know (and I am the only me). Our voices matter. Solidarity for recovering Good Girls!

To get a t-shirt like the one I’m wearing here, visit my CafePress store. And if you’d like to read Violet’s adventures on the wild side, order Going Native from Ellora’s Cave or your favorite book e-tailer.

New year, new book release!

Book cover of the sweet, sexy erotic romance, Going Native, by Sally FeltWhen a clumsy redhead takes a walk on the wild side, expect one heck of a fall.

On January 23, my sexy romantic comedy, Going Native, hits the market. It’s an ode to long-suffering Good Girls who dream of romance and adventure. (Yes, I was one. Writing this book got me on the road to recovery.)

The blurb:

Going Native, by Sally Felt

Violet longs to break free of her good-girl persona. House sitting a Dallas penthouse loft makes a great start. From her first giddy step in her friend’s sky-high heels, she’s way out of her comfort zone, planting a tipsy kiss on a sexy neighbor. 

Eddie is in town to close a business deal—and lick his wounds after a bad breakup. But the clumsy, drawling redhead next door proves a Texas-sized distraction he can’t ignore. Violet’s demure one minute and suggesting clandestine sexcapades the next. Eddie can barely keep up. Or wait to see what Violet does next. 

But even when she learns he’s held the key to the future of her family’s business all along, Violet can’t go back to playing it safe. And what began as a champagne-fueled dare becomes a gutsy showdown her heart might not survive.

The grand finale of my 50th year (filled with 50 new things)

Given that Going Native is about a woman who tries on a risky exciting new persona, it’s only fitting this is the book I sold during my great 50-in-50 experiment.

I’m still compiling a list of all the new stuff I tried as part of my 50th birthday year, and hope to blog about it soon, but selling this book ranks high as one of the biggest new thrills. It began with a pitch in May, became a contract negotiation in July, a first peek at my cover in September, and edits, edits, edits. It culminated last week, the day after my 51st birthday, when my editor gave me a release date—January 23!

Going Native is available for preorder at Ellora’s Cave and will soon be available at your preferred book etailer.