I don't know about you but I love meeting my friends for coffee.

Sitting at a café is a treasured time to enjoy some java, chat, people watch, and catch each other up on all that's going on in our worlds. So, when friend and fellow Avon author Victoria Alexander suggested we meet at Caffè Florian in Venice, Italy, I was immediately game.

Seriously.

Okay, so there's a story behind this story. I didn't just hop on a plane to Italy because Victoria promised me some coffee “and perhaps something stronger.” But we did meet in Italy just this evening and wine--arguably being Italy's most famous beverage--we opted for that instead of coffee as we sat in St. Mark's Square and enjoyed a wonderfully warm and sunny October day in a mystical place.

By chance, Victoria and I were both in Italy at the same time, each of us in different cities. And by chance, we were both heading to Venice today. Me for a twenty-four hour period before heading off to Paris and Victoria for six days with her husband.

I was in Italy for the fourth annual Women's Fiction Festival in Matera. If you've never heard of it, please look it up at www.womensfictionfestival.com. It's a wonderful international conference with top-notch agents and editors from the US and Europe, not to mention fabulous authors. Barbara Samuels was in attendance, as were Ann Roth, Madeline Oh, Rachelle Chase, and many other authors from Germany, Italy, Sweden, and beyond.

The conference hotels and events are in the Sassi, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the 1950s, people were evacuated from their cave dwellings in Matera because the homes were deemed unsanitary and unsafe, due to the fact that the residents there were living the same way people had in the middle ages (i.e., no electricity and no modern plumbing). Given that, it's quite amazing that the Sassi is now one of the coolest and trendiest places in the world, with real estate prices far above anything else in the region and many parts of the country.

This was my first time attending the conference and also my first time in Europe. I've been taking in as much as I can, like visiting London, Rome, Venice and Paris. My daughter and parents traveled with me, so it's really been a blast. Victoria decided to go to cooking school in Tuscany, where she and her husband learned to make some delectable Italian dishes from scratch. Trust me, I'm all ready for the invite for dinner at her place after hearing her describe one fantastic dish after another while we sipped our wine this evening as the sun set.

We were both delighted that our paths would cross in Venice because, let's face it, it's a really cool place to meet for coffee. Or, as in this case, something stronger.

Check out the pictures:



of me and Victoria in St. Mark's Square,



my daughter chasing pigeons,



and of course, the world-famous gondolas.

I am definitely thinking about setting a book in Venice. Something contemporary, and sexy--which, of course, means I have to go back and do some serious research!

Speaking of books, the mass market edition of THE SWEET SPOT hits the stands this month from Avon and I'm really excited about this one. Not only is the story funny and sexy, the mass market cover is so hot, I had to make it my screen saver.

I hope you'll check out the book and, maybe next September, I'll be meeting some of you for coffee (or something stronger) in Venice, or maybe Matera. I certainly hope so!

Kayla Perrin