Nope, No Stress Here!

Believing in Wishes came out last week. After a bit of a snafu at Amazon, it’s finally available. So what’s next? Edit the next book in the series? Plot out Book #3? Research marketing opportunities for this book? Am I doing enough to get it in front of readers? Toggle back and forth between my reports on KDP and my reports on Draft 2 Digital? Have I sold anything yet? What’s my Amazon ranking? Any reviews yet? Nope? Hit refresh.

But then I’m also trying to get a freelance writing business off the ground. Because, you know, steady income. A paycheck that means I get to keep self publishing. And this requires its own research, networking and lots of writing. The kids are only gone for a finite amount of time, and then chaos descends on Casa DeCuir. So work time starts…NOW! Are we stressed yet? What should I work on first? What is most important? If I spend time on X, I’m taking time away from working on Y. How do I prioritize?

My walking buddy, Luna. Carries her own poop bags – which we didn’t need this time!

Take a breath. In Believing in Wishes, Olivia gets in touch with her creative side as she spends time outdoors, in her new town. She finds inspiration in the grove behind her house. So I took a page from her book (literally), asked the dog if she’d care to join me (she wouldn’t have missed it for the world), and got out to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine.

Here’s me pretending I’m all artsy.

It’s almost November, and living in the Seattle area, a sunny day is a blessing not to be missed. When we drive from place to place, we miss a lot of what zips past our car windows. Stretching my legs (okay, at times I was being dragged), feeling the sun on my face and taking in the beauty around me was just what I needed. I left the earbuds at home. No distractions. I wanted to be open to inspiration.

Japanese Maples look AMAZING this time of year!

And I’m glad I did. I reminded myself that I have a job that allows me to be flexible. If I need to, I can write in the car. I can do edits and proofing (and have!) from a folding chair at the back of gymnastics. I can read books on craft and learning the business of freelance writing in the waiting area at piano lessons or under a cozy blanket at the end of the day. I don’t need to feel as though a giant clock is ticking down until my work day is done. And I can make one task fill two functions. Like this blog post. I’m letting the world know about my new release…AND…I’ve got new material to use in my portfolio. Bam!

It’s a…wait for it… Late Blooming Rose. Ha! Ya see what I did there? No? Then you haven’t caught up on my back list. Get reading.

Will I still get stressed? Yeah, ‘cuz that’s just me. Apparently I like taking on more than I can handle. Or maybe I’m learning just what I am capable of. I wrote a book that traditional publishing wouldn’t touch, because it has matchmaking fairies. I could have shoved it under my bed and concentrated my efforts on writing something they DID want. But I wanted it. I wanted it enough to give it life. And if I want something badly enough, I make it happen.

This Writer Is Always On Call

Most jobs come with a schedule. 9-5 is probably the most common. Some people punch a time clock, others just show up, put in their time and leave. If I had to describe my work hours, it would be easiest to describe them as ‘on call’.

I write for a living. So you’d think I can set my own hours. Show up at the keyboard, pound out a few pages and call it good. Right? Except it doesn’t work that way. At least not for me. I’ve read a lot of advice on the craft of writing that you should force yourself to sit down – and the words come out. Apparently my muse never got that memo. (Or she did and she’s too busy laughing hysterically to give it any credence.)

Don’t get me wrong. I prepare. I plot like there’s no tomorrow. I know what has to go into the scene I’m trying to write. I know the POV, I know the setting and I may even know whole snippits of conversation. But if it’s not ready to come out my fingertips…it’s not ready. No amount of sitting (or chocolate bribes) will get those words to flow if they don’t want to.

Here’s how my creativity works on call. I plot and plan and set up the scene…every weekday morning after the kids leave for school. Sometimes it comes right then. I write for a few hours, the scene is done. I call it a day. But sometimes (more often, lately, than not) it doesn’t. And I have to get up and do something else. Fold laundry, walk the dog, run a few errands. I’m giving it time to percolate.

I never know when it’s going to hit — that moment when the stars align and everything falls into place. It could be just an inkling, or it could be a fully mapped out, word-for-word scene. It starts in my brain, then my whole body is buzzing. My fingertips literally start wiggling. I can feel the words right there on the ends of them! The urge to run to my computer is a compulsion I cannot control. Nor, do I dare deny.

Now, unlike a surgeon who is on call…my situation gets a little more complicated. Have I mentioned I’m working on four books at once? Can you imagine an on-call surgeon with four different specialties? They’d never know if they were being called in for an appendectomy, a face lift, a c-section or brain surgery. I wait for the muse to strike, but I never know which book she’s going to hit me with. Keeps me on my toes.

Either I’ll keep my mind busy enough to ward off dementia, in my older years, or my sanity left the minute I decided to devote myself to a writing career. We’ll just pretend it’s the former. Ignorance is bliss, after all.

Anyone else have a schedule that requires them to be available on a whim? Tell us about it.

Um…Yeah…No.

Reading is subjective, wouldn’t you say? What is on one readers “auto-buy” list just won’t be another readers cup of tea. I read all kinds of romance, but I especially love time travel. And a creepy house with some mysterious backstory that the hero and heroine must discover in order to put ghosts to rest and get their own happily ever after? Gimme some of that!

I read the first 50 Shades book. Had to. I mean, everyone was reading it, so I had to see what the hype was about. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure that last part out… Hurting for pleasure. Um…nope.

Back when Interview With A Vampire came out (the movie), I couldn’t get enough of vampire romances. After Twilight (again, the movie, because…Taylor Lautner!) I was all about wolf shifters. Johanna Lindsey sucked me in to historical romance (I still don’t know the difference between regency, victorian, etc.). I’ve experienced an obsession with Highland warriors, long hair and (swoon!) kilts.

But there are subgenres and tropes that just don’t do it for me. Billionaires. Don’t ask me why. I feel weird enough as it is. But to me, there is nothing sexy about a three-piece suit. I know, I’m a freak, right? A sexy Greek Tycoon wants to take me out on his yacht? I should be packing my bag already. Nah. Now a scruffy dude in a tight white t-shirt and a tool belt? Yeah, baby! You picked up a pizza for dinner? And picked me flowers? Oh, you are getting lucky tonight!!!

What about all the other shifter books that have come out? Dragon shifters are HUGE. So clearly there is a market for them. But I’m sorry, all I can think about is scales and teeth and…ew! I did a search for shifter romance and saw that horses are a thing. I’ve heard of “hung like a horse”, but literally? Oh, hell no! And I bet everyone has seen the dinosaur romances. Yeah, probably shouldn’t even lump them with shifters, as it’s women with…dinosaurs. No shifting involved. But I’m lumping all the non-humans here.

The last one I’ll take a pass on – royalty. When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to be a princess. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a mom. I’ve never followed Kate and William. She’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. And I’m sure theirs is a true fairy tale romance, but it’s just not my thing. I’ve tried binge-watching Reign. I wanted to love it, but…eh. Guess I’m just a practical peasant. 😉

Okay, I’ve told you some of the subgenres that I love, and those I’ll pass on. Now it’s your turn. What are your “auto buys” and what do you do your best to avoid? (You can say small town romance. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings.) The great thing about romance is that there is something for everyone. And there is no wrong answer. When the right authors and their particular readers find each other – it’s magic! They get each other. The writers are writing what they are passionate about and the readers are gobbling it up and clambering for more — which fuels the author to write faster — which gets the book in the hands of the reader faster. Wait…I went off on a tangent, didn’t I? Subgenres. Favs? Not faves? And…go!

I Should Be…

 

I should be writing but…

I’m doing an emergency load of wash for Big Sis, who HAS to wear her green pair of pants today. I’m researching ideas for Little Guy, because he wants to ENTERTAIN everyone at the science fair this year. I’m helping hubby go door-to-door passing out flyers for the cub scout food drive because it was pouring too hard when he took the scouts out on Saturday.

I should be exercising but…

It’s raining…again. The treadmill sounds like it’s dying. I’m bored with my playlist. My workout clothes are now too small. My sneakers pinch my pinky toes.

I should be cooking better dinners but…

That huge bag of fish sticks is going to get freezer burned if I don’t use it up. The more effort I put in, the less everyone eats. My knives are dull, I can’t chop anything. I’ve gotten used to putting dinner on the table in less than fifteen minutes, thanks to Uncle Bens microwaveable rice. I hate cooking — I hate spending any amount of time in my kitchen. I hate my kitchen.

I should be doing laundry (the dishes, picking up) but…

There are only two more episodes of the latest Netflix addiction to watch. I’m drowning in my stack of TBR books – paperbacks and Kindle. It’s my turn on Words By Post (I play 12 games concurrently.) No one is home, it’s quiet and I don’t want to ruin the silence by running all sorts of chugging machines.

I should be promoting my books/brand but…

Does anyone really see it anyway? I feel like I’m pimping myself out – it’s way too uncomfortable. I’ve spent my life avoiding attention, so “Hey, look at me!” is not a concept I’m familiar with. I start helping other authors promote their books instead. I start one-clicking MORE books for my TBR pile while I’m on Amazon. I spend time talking to Disney and Tolkien fans, instead of potential readers, on Twitter.

I should be enjoying a glass of wine at the end of a long day but…

I’m herding Big Sis out of the steamy bathroom–where she’s spent the last 45 minutes using up my hot water. I’m listening to Little Guy’s latest “what if” story that involves dogs that can talk and walk on two legs, when he’s supposed to be sleeping. The dog waited until I sat down to tell me she really has to pee. When I got up to let the dog out, the cat stole my spot on the couch.

 

What’s My Motivation?

Have those of you who work outside the home ever called in and said “Sorry, just not feeling it today. I’m going to stay home and play games on Facebook all day. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” Of course not. That would get you fired. So those of us who work from home should be subject to the same rules, albeit enforced by ourselves, rather than a boss. Right? Except writer brains don’t work like other brains. Some days (okay, in my case, weeks) the words just aren’t there. The urge to sit down and get creative is just…missing.

And because I see all these posts on Facebook about the super-productive authors with ten kajillion projects going at once, the ones who have charts and schedules for which blog post comes out on which day, and how many thousand pages they are going to edit on which book and all the new book contracts they’re signing this week…I feel guilty. I’m not working hard enough. Heck, I’m not working at all, so let’s call a spade a spade. I’m a fraud. If I’m not writing, I cannot call myself a writer.

Guilt turned to panic. I haven’t had a new release out in over a year. My readers are going to forget my name. They’ll have moved on to the next author who actually releases on a reliable schedule. Then panic to hopelessness. What’s the point? The first book in my latest trilogy has been rejected repeatedly. Why even finish the series? Does anyone really want to read this? It may be the book/series of MY heart, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is going to fall in love with it.

Writing can be a very solitary existence. And it’s easy to forget that there are others out there who might be going through the exact same thing I was struggling with. So I reached out. And it felt so good to talk with another author who knew just how I was feeling. She told me it was okay, healthy in fact, to give myself permission to take a break. To refill the creative well. She suggested I put a time limit on it, a deadline that would force me back into my chair and getting back to the business of storytelling.

I started to get excited. I thought about all the walks I was going to take with the dog, snapping pictures along the way. I thought of all the plant nurseries I was planning to visit, because something about nature and flowers is connected to my writing. I can’t explain it…it just is. I picked up a book I’d promised to read and review. I told myself that it was okay to put someone else’s book first for a change. I queued up Netflix and looked for a new bingeworthy series.

 

But while I was busy telling myself it was okay to step back, I was already feeling the stirrings of something new. And, let me tell you, the floodgates have truly opened wide. My head is full of blog post ideas, new series’ ideas, people I want to contact, publishers I want to query. I’m considering self-publishing for the first time in my writing career. This excitement — a reason to scramble out of bed in the morning and get to work — it had been missing for a long time and I was worried it would never come back. But I am so thrilled that it did. Yeah, it’s making me a little bonkers because I haven’t laid everything out in a “first this, then that” type of pattern, but I’m enjoying figuring out what fights its way to the top. Today the blog post. Tomorrow a little research, perhaps. But I’m back, baby! I’m not a fraud after all. Just a creative person who was in a bit of a slump. It happens to all of us, and it’s not the end of the world.

I Can Do This!

believeThat’s my new mantra. “I can do this!” Because I can. I learned the hard way. We found out in June that Home Depot refused to do our flooring project until we hired a contractor to put in sub-flooring (something they neglected to mention at the onset of the project). We were completely broke and out of options. A neighbor came over, took a look and said “Oh, yeah, we can totally do this.” Now I’ve used a hammer to hang a picture, but that’s about it.

12Fast forward to August. I put in my OWN subfloor. And instead of backing off and letting Home Depot take it from there, I kept going. I laid my OWN flooring. I learned how to use a few different types of power saws (what a rush!). Instead of a hammer, I got to use a nail gun – three different sized ones. I wore knee pads and measured and snapped, messed up and fixed it. I visited Home Depot for the supplies (oh, the irony!) and got good at choosing just the right lumber. I went to bed covered in paint and aching from every muscle in my body.

We still aren’t done. The landing and the stairs needs to be carpeted. I ripped up the old carpet and padding but we were hoping to find someone who knew what they were doing for this stretch and wouldn’t mind working for pizza and beer. Unfortunately, we were only able to find someone to talk me through it. And back in June, I would be terrified at the prospect. But now? Bring it on. I can do this! That’s on the agenda this weekend.

thisI had no idea that this mantra was going to carry over into my writing life. In July I went to RWA Nationals for the first time. I was scared spitless to pitch to the editor and agent I’d lined up months ago. What if they hated my story idea? It IS pretty different…for me. So I researched pitch sheets and one sheets. It was a little risky, and they might not even want to read it, but you never know until you try. But I did it. And both sessions went so well that I felt incredibly empowered. Both the editor and the agent asked for a full. I’m still waiting to hear back, but I am staying busy and not worrying about things I have no control over.

I-did-it_1Yesterday I was plotting out my next book with a friend. I realized I was staying very safe with the plot ending. It was time to step outside my comfort zone and go places I’d never had the nerve to go before. It was scary to think about, but at the same time…exciting. Now. I’m ready to take my writing to the next level. I’ve learned a lot about myself this summer. I’ve learned not to be afraid to try something new. Because, if there is one thing I’ve learned this summer, it’s that I can do this. 🙂

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The Writer’s Life

roryreading

Remember on the Gilmore Girls, how Rory always carried a book wherever she went? Had to wait for the bus? Pulled out her book. Waiting for someone to get done somewhere? Got in a chapter or two. I love that. And I subscribe to that. I try to keep a book in my purse or in my car, because you never know when you’ll get the opportunity to read for a few minutes.

brainwritingThat’s the reader me. The writer me always carries a story around as well. Except that it’s in my head. And lately, my brain is flipping back and forth between three different stories. It might sound weird if you aren’t a writer. Distracting, to say the least. But it’s really not. It’s just…me.

9scyehtqxhPart of my brain is always disengaged from my current surroundings. Sometimes that’s a tiny part, or sometimes, like when I’m nearing the end of a book, it’s huge. A part of me crying out to get back to my “other” family, the world of my own creation. I see that light at the end of the tunnel, getting bigger and brighter. A little voice whispers “You’re so close – don’t stop now!”

Last night I was at the casino, celebrating a friend’s birthday. A huge group of us were sitting at a table at the buffet and I wonder how many of them realized that in my head, I was writing. Today I have so many things on my list of chores, that it would take a miracle to be able to sit down and work on my book. But I’ll be thinking about it. Part of me will be spending the day with my characters. Because I’m SO close.

thLGSPNW5VTomorrow morning, hubby will take the kids to school. I’ll sit down with a cup of coffee (and a couple of Hershey’s kisses – don’t judge!) and breath a sigh of relief. Because I’m home. I made it through our time apart and now we can continue our journey. There are people in my life that worry about me. And that’s fine for them. Writers are a different breed. I’ve accepted that. No, I’ve embraced that. It’s what I do. It’s what I am. And I love it.

Write Faster, They Said… It Will Be Easy, They Said…

panicYou know that scene in movies where someone is staring down a long hallway and they need to get to the end of it quickly, but the faster they run, the longer it gets and the slower their steps seem to be? They might as well be walking in place. That’s how I feel, writing this current book. And the kicker is, I’m writing faster than I’ve ever written before. So why do I feel like I have nearly nothing to show for it?

blurWriters are told that if they want to stay “in the game”, they need to produce new material every few months. A new book, a novella, something to retain the interest of their readers. There are SO many authors out there and SO many books, that if you can’t keep producing something new, your readers are going to look elsewhere.

My last book came out in November. I had gotten used to deadlines, working with Crimson Romance. So this is the first time in a long time that I was on my own schedule. I started my current WIP for NaNoWriMo, in November. Sure, I got almost 35k words in, but this thing had so many problems that I threw it aside and refused to even look at it until January. Then it took me weeks to figure out what the heck was bothering me so much about it. I’m back on track, but I lost months of work time on this project.

Writer panic.

haNow I’m writing almost every day. Trying for a scene a day. Not quite NaNoWriMo word count, but productive. And then I start paying attention to all the new releases. Wait, didn’t that author have something out last month? A whole trilogy in a few months’ time? How the hell do they do that? I can’t compete with this! What’s the point? Why am I even trying?

Breathe.

Readers might not even realize the pressure that authors face to write fast, faster, fastest. Some authors rise to the challenge, stretching their writing muscles and going for it. Some go at their own pace and are happy to make any sales because they’re doing what they love. I’m that little hamster in the wheel, trying like hell to get at least three books out per year, like a good little writer hamster. I want to be noticed. I have big dreams that start with best sellers’ lists and conclude with my books being made into Hallmark TV movies. I don’t have the luxury of writing a book or two over my lifetime if I want these dreams to come true. I need to write, and I need to write often.

So what do I do? How do I take pride in accomplishment at having put in a hard days’ work? I’m currently on chapter seven, out of probably twenty. I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in the book, that there is so much to go. Yet I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing this thing since November. I know I’m good for a scene, maybe a part of another, in one good work day. I can’t squeeze out any more than that.

I’ve read the advice out there: “If you want it badly enough, you’ll make time for it.” Um… making time. But my creative brain doesn’t work like most people’s. I have peak hours of operation. My muse takes off after seven PM or so. She might come back by five AM, but she refuses to sit up all night, drinking coffee and pounding out words while the rest of the family sleeps.

cartoonwriterSo yeah, I’m panicking. I am trying to finish this book, and as much of the next in the trilogy for Nationals this July. I set a goal to sign with an agent this year. But they don’t want to read my published books. They want to know what I have for them to sell. What am I working on next. How long does it take me to produce a new book? Am I worth their time and effort? Am I? I’m trying like heck to be.

Anyone have any coping strategies? (Besides alcohol?) How do I maintain a steady pace and still produce enough books to make an agent, readers and potential editors happy? How do I do this and keep myself happy? Because what is the point of writing books for a living if you aren’t happy while doing it? Yoga? Meditation? Cute baby animal videos? How do you keep from cracking under the pressure to be more than you are?

 

Inside a Writer’s Brain

writer_brain2

Some of you are going to be able to relate, nodding your heads and going “Exactly!”. The rest of you are going to be weirded out, and probably more than a little scared. But this is what being a writer is like. We’re a bit different than most people.

twilightwritingmeme

I hear voices. No, they’re not dead people. They are very much alive – in my mind. They hold conversations that have absolutely nothing to do with me. I feel like I’m eavesdropping in my own head. And nine times out of ten, they start talking when I’m not ready to sit at the keyboard and get it all down. Usually when I’m just falling asleep or just waking up for the day. Or in the car while I’m running errands. They love to visit me in the shower.

inside-my-head-the-world-is-more-interesting

Now here’s a dilemma that is fairly recent. I have multiple projects vying to have their stories written, and they all think they should go first. I’m in the middle of book one in a new trilogy. Not only are the characters from the first book helping me write the current scene I’m working on, but they’ve jumped to other parts of the book that I’m not even ready for yet. Then there are the other two leading ladies from books two and three. They think it’s helpful to drop little tidbits about their backstories and what they’d like to see coming up in their own books. I can work with that. The other day I figured out who I would write my monthly short story (exclusive to newsletter readers) about. Yesterday was all about catching the zippy dialogue between the hero and heroine.

poem

I’m taking a course on strategic planning. I had mapped out a course of action that involved setting work hours. Okay, toss THAT out the window! I may set work hours. And I may work those hours. But this writer brain doesn’t turn off–ever. I have notebooks all over the house. In the car. A waterproof one in the shower (no joke!). I have a little notebook in a fanny pack (don’t judge!) for when I’m walking around the neighborhood or to get the kids at school and the gem of an idea strikes. Because if I don’t write it down the second it comes to me, it’s gone.

Bottom line: I feel like I’m paying rent in my own brain. It’s mine. But it’s really not. Isn’t there a saying about pets and homes? “It’s their house, they just let me live there.”

If you need me, I’ll be slaving away at my keyboard, racing to finish one book before the next one comes along. And btw, if you can relate, drop me a comment and commiserate. Because, while this is a pretty cool problem to have, it is EXHAUSTING.

MartianHeadExplodes

A Writers Retreat On A Budget

I’m lucky enough to stay home all day with the kiddos and write. But my office is currently in my bedroom. Hubby and the kids leave for school and work and head down the hall to my bedroom. Sure, I have some really productive days. But I have more days that are filled with distractions like laundry, keeping the dog busy (she can’t throw her Frisbee herself), trips to the kitchen for more coffee…you get the picture.

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Now we’re also lucky enough to have a huge storage shed in our backyard. Up until recently it was filled to the rafters with junk. But a couple of trips to the dump have taken care of most of that. It’s a few steps from the deck. It has four walls, a roof and a door. It is… perfect. Okay, not move-in perfect. The fluorescent lights burned out long ago. It would need insulation if I’m going to use it year-round. A new paint job on the outside. A massive cleaning job on the inside — I refuse to share my new workspace with spiders! And, not that I’ll see it from where I am working, some pretty new landscaping in front.

Here’s what it looks like right now (okay, a few years ago and a LOT more moss on the roof at present) There really IS a window, btw. On the left hand wall:

storageshed

So I’m reading up on tutorials on how to install insulation and drywall. I am woman, hear me roar, right? 😉 No reason why I can’t do this on my own. Throw a rug down on the cement floor, drag my desk and printer table in, cover the walls with the kids’ artwork (it’s not a proper workspace without it) and voila! New home office.

Now, to make this the perfect writing retreat, it has to set the mood before you even step inside. I’d love a pathway from the deck right up to the front door. Flagstone or something that won’t interfere with mowing the lawn on either side of it. And flowering shrubs. Something to break up the monotony of the (mildewed) siding. I wonder if hubby will let me paint it pink. Pretty please? Light pink, with brighter pink flowering bushes in the front. A scattering of wildflowers on the ground in front of that. How gorgeous would that be???

As I wait for the weather to warm up (and dry out), I am spending a lot of time on Pinterest, getting ideas. To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. I’ve even been to Lowes to check out prices on batting and drywall, see if I can find some decorative trim for the outside and just generally get in the DIY spirit. Too. Much. Fun.

idealhomeoffice

Okay, if my writing retreat looked like this, I would probably never leave.

 

homeoffice

Kinda stark, but functional, right?

 

cottage

How super cute is this? With a front porch? Too impractical for my home office, but lovely to look at.

workshed

Hadn’t thought of a birdfeeder, but somehow that seems necessary now, don’t you think? We get some stunning Stellar Jays that visit us in the spring. Now if I could attract butterflies and hummingbirds too…?

pathway

Can’t do the gravel, but I definitely need a path leading up to my workspace. My daily commute. Leaving my personal world behind as I begin to focus on my work day. I like that.

Have any of you made this type of dream a reality? I would LOVE to see photos of your own writing retreat. I’ll post pictures as I get my own space up and functional.

Spring fever — I HAZ IT! 😀

People Watching – a Writer’s Perspective

eyesonyou I’ve got my eye on you. Yeah, you. I’ve been watching you for some time now, and you didn’t have a clue. Nah, I’m just teasing. Well … partially. I people watch. It’s part of the writer gig. We can’t help it. People fascinate us. Mannerisms, clothing styles, the way people interact with each other – or the way they studiously ignore each other. Hair styles, hair COLOR (hey, it’s all fair game). For the record, I wish I had the nerve to get one streak of bubblegum pink in my hair. I’d totally rock it.

I have to wonder if people would make a conscious effort to change their behaviors if they knew they were under the microscope, so to speak. The person who enters a store (or exits) only to stand in everyone else’s way while they, what, collect their bearings? Interesting. Or the not-so-happy family at Disneyland, that are spending their precious quality time screaming at each other, instead of enjoying their vacation. (Okay, admission: Hubby and I people watch at the Disney parks and can’t help but giggle when we discover one of these free shows.) 😉 I know. We’re terrible people.

People watching has its disadvantages too. The guy picking his nose at the stop light? Where’s my eye bleach? Wardrobe malfunctions. Litterers. It’s amazing what people will do when they don’t think anyone is paying attention.

kittywatching

And then there are the moments worth watching out for. The ‘pay it forward’ moments that make you tear up and give you the warm fuzzies. Folks treating each other with kindness. Reaching out a helping hand. Offering up a friendly smile and a hello. Parent/child bonding. Human/pet bonding. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a good dog-spoiling moment.

bonding
Even if I’m not jotting things down in my handy-dandy notebook, you can be sure I’m taking it all in and filing it away for future reference. Whoever said “Life is not a spectator sport.” didn’t know any authors. So if you walk past me on the street and I’m squinting at you, it’s not that I don’t like you. I’m just trying to decide which of your facial features would look best on my next hero or heroine. peoplewatching

Just remember, you never know when someone is studying your movements. Be kind. Look for a garbage can before you throw that wrapper on the ground. And for God’s sake – use a tissue! Just because you are in your car does not mean other people can’t see you. *shudder*

Okay, now it’s your turn. What is your favorite people watching moment? The good, the bad or the eye-bleach moments?

Book Reviews 101

reviewmeme3I made myself a New Years’ resolution this year that has been much easier to keep than dieting. It’s fun, it’s easy and it feels good. For every book I read, I leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s that simple. There have been one or two that I chose not to review, not because the author didn’t deserve a review, but because the author didn’t deserve a poor review. Some books just aren’t for us, and that’s okay. Some books probably could have used a lot more professional help getting them ready for publication. But as a fellow author, I don’t think it’s my place to chastise them in a public forum.

quoteIn talking to readers, I have found that the biggest reason they site for not leaving a review is fear of getting it wrong. They think there is a format. They must first summarize the book. Yes, several professional reviewers do this. No, it is not necessary. After all, that is what the book blurb is for, right? The gist of the review is to tell other readers what YOU thought of the book. Why did you like it? What didn’t work for you? Don’t give the ending away. That just spoils it for everyone. And don’t trash the author. They wrote that book out of love and passion for writing. So it wasn’t your thing. It still came from their heart. If you must express your misgivings, do it in as kind a way as possible. We’re all adults here.

A lot of readers don’t realize this, but the more reviews a book has, the more chances it has for marketing opportunities. Which is really unfair, but an established way of life. So the bestsellers, which don’t need any help, get all the promo spots, while the struggling mid-listers and those of us still in obscurity beg for reviews on the street corner. Authors can list their books with Ebook Soda and the Fussy Librarian if they have at least 10 reviews for their book. Know what? Out of five books I have on the market, ONE has enough reviews to actually list it with these email subscription sites. And those were mostly begged off friends and acquaintances. Heck, I’m not even qualified enough to tell you what an author with enough reviews can do for their books. The more reviews, the more possibilities to get your books before more readers.

wordofmouthI just finished a book last night. PARIS TIME CAPSULE, by Ella Carey. It was fabulous. And I want the world to know about it. So I wrote a review. http://www.amazon.com/review/R30M8U22S0TTUZ I posted it on Goodreads and Amazon. I pinned her book cover to my Pinterest page “Books I Recommend”. I tweeted the review link. Am I doing this for myself? No. But I felt passionately enough about how awesome that book was that I wanted others to discover it. I learned about it on Facebook when another author mentioned how she couldn’t put it down. Word of mouth, people. It’s the biggest marketing tool out there, and it starts with reviews.

reviewmeme1It’s simple, really. When you finish a book (preferably if you know you can give the author at least 4 stars), click “write your own review” on Amazon. Imagine you’re talking to a friend, telling them about this great book you just read. Why did you like it? What was a really unforgettable scene? Was it a character you absolutely fell in love with? Was it the author’s writing style? Did you want to keep turning the pages? Did you want to forgo sleep, hide from your family, ignore the household chores? Say that! It doesn’t have to be long and thought out. It just has to be honest. And no one cares if there are typos in your review. You are the reader, not the author. Something made you buy that book (or borrow it) and you’d be helping countless others if you shared your experience with them. There are SO many choices out there now. We need all the help we can get, as authors – to be discovered, as readers – to find the next great book escape.

Authors: Share your thoughts on what it means to receive a review for one of your books and help others to understand the importance of even the briefest review on Amazon.

Readers: If this doesn’t convince you to write at least one “test” review for a book you’ve read, tell us why. If I can’t help you craft a review you feel comfortable posting, I am sure there are countless others out there who can.

And to those of you who have ever taken the time to leave an author a review, thank you from the bottom of my heart.readingmeme

 

If I Could Write Anywhere

It’s summer. The kids are busy with their various camps. Folks are coming back with stories from Nationals. We aren’t due for our mini-vacation until the end of August. I’ve taken the summer off from writing to focus on the kids and a few projects around the house. But I’m restless. I want to write. I want to get away and write. So this morning I took a little virtual getaway to research some fun locales and play a game of “If Money Were No Object”. Here’s what I came up with:

Seriously, writing in peace would not be an issue here. Getting up the nerve to get in a tiny boat to row over, might be.

Seriously, writing in peace would not be an issue here. Getting up the nerve to get in a tiny boat to row over, might be.

I could spend all winter testing out the views from each window in this massive cabin.

I could spend all winter testing out the views from each window in this massive cabin.

I love reading books set in Ireland but never felt I could write one, never having been. Dump me off here and I have enough inspiration for a dozen books, at least!

I love reading books set in Ireland but never felt I could write one, never having been. Dump me off here and I have enough inspiration for a dozen books, at least!

And if we're going to exotic locales, Paris is a must for a romance author. Keep the cafe au laits coming, garcon!

And if we’re going to exotic locales, Paris is a must for a romance author. Keep the cafe au laits coming, garcon!

This would be perfect for my fairy series. If I sit quietly, who knows who might show up for a visit?

This would be perfect for my fairy series. If I sit quietly, who knows who might show up for a visit?

I'm not sure if I'd want to travel to this writing spot, or move in permanently. It's just...perfect.

I’m not sure if I’d want to travel to this writing spot, or move in permanently. It’s just…perfect.

Another pricey getaway, but well worth the $$$. Santorini views from a balcony. I'm picturing a tall, dark and tanned hero for the book written from this spot.

Another pricey getaway, but well worth the $$$. Santorini views from a balcony. I’m picturing a tall, dark and tanned hero for the book written from this spot.

And for a more permanent writer's retreat...a cabin for the backyard. I would LOVE going to work each morning!

And for a more permanent writer’s retreat…a cabin for the backyard. I would LOVE going to work each morning!

Write all morning, play all afternoon. Now *that* would be the life. Occupation: beach bum. I like the sound of that.

Write all morning, play all afternoon. Now *that* would be the life. Occupation: beach bum. I like the sound of that.

I don't know about this one. Part of me wants to write, but another part wants to curl up and read the day away. Ahhh...

I don’t know about this one. Part of me wants to write, but another part wants to curl up and read the day away. Ahhh…

What would your favorite writing retreat look like? Describe it in the comments. Or leave a photo. I’d love to see it.

Always My Hero – Release Week Fun

Now available on ereaders everywhere!

Now available on ereaders everywhere!

When I announced the cover to Always My Hero, I added a description about the characters. I’ve done excerpts on a couple of other author blogs, and will be sure to promote them as soon as they are up. So today I thought I’d do something different. Here are a few fun facts about Always My Hero, and Scallop Shores in general:

1.  My original idea for the Scallop Shores series involved three books. It wasn’t supposed to be about the town, so much as it was about three best friends. Trapped in Tourist Town was the first. Always My Hero was the second and the third was a half-formed idea that never quite took shape.

2.  To get a better feel for my characters, I posted pictures on a giant whiteboard on my desk. I’m still trying to figure out the name of the actor/model that I chose for Ryan. I’m posting the picture below, and if anyone knows, PLEASE enlighten me! Bree’s character I based on Alexis Bledel, Rory Gilmore if any of you are Gilmore Girls junkies.

Ryan33.  Always My Hero is the first book I’ve ever sold BEFORE I wrote it. It’s also the book that took the shortest amount of time to write. Amazing what a deadline will do for productivity.

4.  Wynter’s Journey is a re-write of the very first book I ever wrote, about ten years ago while we were still living in San Diego and baby #1 was napping. It was never meant to be part of the Scallop Shores series.

5.  Always My Hero was started when I was pregnant with baby #2, but when morning sickness took over, all writing fell by the wayside…for a few years.

6. Next year will mark twenty years since I have lived in Maine. Holy crap! We’re heading back for a wedding this fall and that will be the first time I’ve visited in almost seven years. So all my inspiration for Scallop Shores truly comes from memory. I imagine my hometown has grown considerably and that makes me so sad.

7.  If you’re planning on attending Emerald City Writers Conference this year, I will be donating a “Scallop Shores” themed basket that will have lots of goodies from my trip to Maine. (Sorry, no actual lobster, but maybe a stuffed animal?)

8.  I hate coming up with character names, street names, business names, etc. So if you went to York High School with me, or you are just from York, Maine, see if you recognize any of the names in my books. I never use full names of anyone I actually knew. So thank you to all those who helped me get over that pesky naming hurdle.

9.  I had originally named the series “Lobster Cove”. I LOVED that name. But then my editor discovered a real town in Maine with the same name and it caused inconsistencies with my first book, Drawn to Jonah. Apparently the real Lobster Cove was a lot farther away from New York City and could not be reached in the four hours I said it took by car. Dang. So I held a contest on Facebook and chose a new name. The winner got her name listed in the acknowledgements in Drawn to Jonah. Sigh. I still miss Lobster Cove.

10.  There are several sexy new bachelors introduced in Always My Hero, leaving an opening for more books in this series. If you read the book, I’d love to know who you’d want to see getting the next Scallop Shores book.

So did you learn anything new? Did you have a question about Scallop Shores, or about writing Always My Hero that didn’t get answered? Leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Examining My Bucket List

bucketlistThe kids and I were in the car the other day and pull up next to a convertible at a red light. “Now THAT is on my bucket list,” I sighed. “What’s a bucket list?” My six year old wanted to know. “A list of things you want to do before you die,” volunteered his sister. Which naturally led us into a discussion on what we’d add to our bucket lists.

I should probably add that the ideal place to ride in a convertible would be the shore.

I should probably add that the ideal place to ride in a convertible would be the shore.

#1 – Now let me clarify – I do not want to own a convertible. I just want to ride in one. 43 years old and I have never ridden in a car with the top down. I think there is something very sad about that. So if anyone out there has a convertible, lives nearby and wouldn’t be mortified to see me waving my arms in the air and laughing like a lunatic, can I hitch a ride?

This also makes me want to go back to Hawaii.

This also makes me want to go back to Hawaii.

#2 – And this one has been on my bucket list since I was a kid. I want to swim with the dolphins. Seriously, how cool would that be? Their skin looks so slippery. They are incredibly intelligent. They rescue humans in the ocean. And this one isn’t as hard to achieve as one would think. We were just in Hawaii in April. Had we wanted to spend the money and the time, we could have looked up a place for a nice little meet and greet with Flipper. Some day I’ll get the whole family on board and we’ll say ‘screw it’ to the expense. You only live once.

Breathtaking, isn't it?

Breathtaking, isn’t it?

#3 – Okay, the next item is SUPER expensive and really hard for me to justify the expense. I want to ride in a hot air balloon. Just once in my life because, quite frankly, it might end up terrifying me. But the views! OMG. I almost crossed this one off ten years ago. Then we found out I was pregnant with my daughter. First time pregnancy jitters had me nixing this as too dangerous. Yeah, totally regret that now.

Now you all want to go out and hug a panda, don't you?

Now you all want to go out and hug a panda, don’t you?

#4 – Another animal theme here. Both kids have expressed an interest in working as a vet. I jumped on this one! “Okay, so here’s what you do: you go to vet school and instead of opening your own practice or working with boring cats and dogs, you work with exotic animals.” “Why?” they want to know. “Because then you can get a job at a zoo. Once you work at a zoo, you can invite your old mom in to cuddle babies.” Lions, tigers, pandas, chimps… I’m not picky. I just want to hold an exotic animal. What? Too weird? They were rolling their eyes at me too. Sigh.

So there are some of my bucket list items, some easier to cross off than others. Little Guy wants to eat ice cream every day for the rest of his life. Big Sis put “get published” on her bucket list. Yes! That’s my girl. 😀 What’s on your bucket list? Leave it in the comments below. The three of us are always looking for new and exciting ideas.

 

Giving Myself Permission To Be A Kid

300003aLast summer I was under deadline to finish a book. This past fall I signed a new contract that kept me busy through April. Then in May I got the bright idea to submit a story for a collection whose deadline was ridiculously too close for comfort. Deadlines = stress. They also create a crazy writer mom – just ask my kids. Sure, they love when I order pizza for dinner. But they prefer to eat that pizza with a loving, snuggling mother, not a distracted animal who may or may not bite.

I had planned to write a Christmas anthology over the summer. A self-imposed deadline this time. I also have three different series at various stages of plotting, inside my head. It can wait. It can all wait. My ideas aren’t going anywhere. In fact, the longer I wait, the more insistent they will become to jump out of my head and onto the screen. Anticipation can be a good thing.3000038

Instead of writing this summer, I am giving myself permission to take these precious few weeks off. I’m going to spend time with my kiddos. I’m going to look at life through their eyes. Yeah, I’ll still do laundry and cook dinner. Can’t get away from some adult responsibilities. And I’ll take advantage of other adult perks–like being able to drive us to our next adventure.WP_20150621_003

I think we’ve gotten off to a great start. We’ve created fairy gardens for the front yard. We built a sand castle and discovered a hermit crab and some freaky gelatinous substance that may or may not have been alive. We’ve charted new trails at the park that must be explored. We rode the Ferris Wheel on the Seattle waterfront. And we went out for ice cream.icecream

The kids are signed up for some summer camps. Last year I would have used this time to hole up in a coffee shop and write my heart out. This year I’m recharging my creative batteries. I have no idea WHAT I’ll do with my free time. But it will be relaxing and fun and something that I can look back on once I’m in my writing groove with fond memories, knowing I made great use of my time. A blanket, my Kindle and a quiet trail in the woods – perfect! Watching the dog stick her head out the car window in absolute bliss while we go for a summer drive – even better!

When the kids go back to school and I go back to work, the creative juices will be flowing. I’ll have all kinds of new memories to be able to use in one of my books someday. And maybe I won’t take on quite so many writing projects for the following school year. Because, like my children, I’m not a big fan of Crazy Writer Mom either.

How about you? What are your big plans for this summer? Anything that is making your inner child jump up and down with glee?

Counting Down To Summer Vacation-Can We Stop The Clock?

Help Button“Mommy, how many days until we get out of school for the summer?”

Pshhh, ages and ages. I check the calendar. Less than six weeks. Okay, don’t panic. Don’t let them see you’re scared. Where the heck did the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was doing the ‘back-to-school’ dance all through my blissfully empty house.

Back in September I had just submitted a book proposal to my publisher. I had a clear cut schedule of the days I would write, my day to volunteer in the kids’ classrooms and a day to run errands. I had everything neatly written in a calendar. I had a system. I had a plan.But once the kids get out of school for the summer, my plan gets turned on its ear and I need to push myself that much harder to get my word count in each day.summermeme

Now don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my kids. I’m a little obsessive about getting out of the house with them and making memories that they’ll be able to share with their own children some day. My own mother suffered from agoraphobia while I was growing up. This meant that she preferred to remain in the safety and comfort of her own home. It meant my sisters and I had to look for things to occupy us within our neighborhood. We couldn’t afford summer camps. One week out of the summer, our friends’ mom would drive us each morning to bible camp. So when my kids start to utter a whiny “I’m bored”, I probably take it a little too personally.

Last year I spent a lot of time tweaking and scheduling so that I had camps lined up for both littles–at exactly the same time. Makes sense, right? I actually got a decent amount of writing in that summer. This year I went with a different approach. I consulted the kids and let them choose the summer camps they wanted to attend, not giving a flip whose landed on what week. So, while most weeks are filled with some sort of camp (mostly of the three hour variety), only one week has them going at the same time. Which means that I’ll drop one child off for a fun day or afternoon filled with activities, socialization and some sort of take home craft to display, and one child will remain with me…bored.kidsbeingbored

Which brings me back to the ‘pushing myself’ bit. And the obsessive mom trying to make sure her kids are having fun. I wish I could say that I am flexible enough to write whenever. Midnight, and the rest of the house is asleep? No problem! But my creative brain turns on about six AM and turns off about…aw heck, five PM. So yeah, I’ll be the dork mom on the playground, sitting at the picnic table with my laptop, hoping that if my child falls off the equipment, they can drag themselves over and somehow pull me out of my scene in order to let me know we need to pack up and head to the emergency room. I’ll get hateful looks from the involved moms who remembered to pack snacks, apply sunscreen and actually chat among themselves. But the alternative is forcing my kid to find something to do at home, which gives me mommy-guilt hives that I refuse to deal with. It’s a trade off.

Will I do this every single weekday during the summer months? Heck no! They’re only young once. Just as I get obsessed about needing to fulfill my word count, I also dig in my heels and find excuses not to write. If the weather is gorgeous, I’ll pack ’em up and head to the beach. Maybe take a ferry ride across the sound. Ice cream is always a great way to make summer memories, especially if we’ve had to drive a bit to get to someplace we’ve never tried before. The zoo is always a favorite destination. All work and no play makes a dull mom. And I may come out of it with another book, but I’ll have lost the memories my kids spent making with everyone else. It’s all about striking a balance. I’m trying to let the kiddos take the reins this year and hoping that we all get what we want out of this summer vacation. And trying not to panic.

I need to embrace this quote, this summer.

I need to embrace this quote, this summer.

 

Author Swag – Promote Your Brand

This stuff's for keeps!

This stuff’s for keeps!

It’s that time again. Conference season is gearing up. Whether it’s RWA Nationals, RT, RomCon, Romanticon, ECWC or any of the numerous reader and writer events throughout the year, now is the time to figure out your budget for swag. You don’t have to plan to attend, either. If you can’t afford the conference fee, consider donating swag to the goody bags and giveaway tables. Your brand can travel the globe, even if you can’t be there to hand it out.

Many conferences have started to “go green”, meaning they will no longer accept paper items, such as bookmarks, trading cards and book covers. But it doesn’t mean they won’t accept ANY paper. Think outside the box! Door hangers, notepads, sticky notes – if it’s useful and reuseable – it’s acceptable.

A yummy recipe and a spiral notebook

 A yummy recipe and a spiral notebook

And while you’re thinking outside that box, here’s your chance to really stand out. Lots of people donate pens. Think useful but think UNIQUE. You want to be the author whose swag stuck out and people remember for years to come. Write erotica? How about condoms with your brand on them? Definitely one of the more memorable pieces of swag I remember seeing. (Sorry, no picture here – had to ditch that one before the kiddos got into my goody bag in their search for chocolate.)

If you have the budget for it, there are lots of reasonably priced places to find promotional items that you can customize to suit your own brand. 4imprint, epromos, positive promotions and even Staples offer a range of products that will help your brand reach more people. Magnets, clips, water bottles, binders, stress balls, you name it. Choose something conference attendees are going to want to hang on to.

So many choices!

So many choices!

My first foray into author swag was more of a DIY project. The little girl in my debut novel loved fairies and fairy gardens. So I put together a seed packet with my cover on it. I bought a large jug of seeds at Home Depot. I found a place online that sold little white envelopes in bulk. I ordered stickers with my cover on them from Staples. Then I called on a group of friends, had a seed stuffing party and voila! (Make sure you make it worthwhile by feeding your helpers. I ordered pizza.) Uniquely me, and hopefully something that the attendees of ECWC 2013 still remember. 😉

My DIY swag

My DIY swag

Think about your brand. What would best represent it? Are your characters chefs, bakers, etc? One author gave away pie servers. Very memorable! One author always includes dogs in her books. She donated the most adorable stuffed animal dogs with her logo on a tag around their collar. There are so many things we can do. We’re authors–imagination is our forte!

I’ll even tell you about my own idea for this year–if you promise not to steal it. I write sweet, small-town romances. So, I thought sweet … chocolate! Get it? I’ll be ordering some personalized M&M’s. It’s so awesome, because I can carry my brand further. I am all about pink and they have a few shades. Woot! They have the most amazing business card cases that you can fill with the M&M’s, but that’s entirely out of my budget. But I’m handy. I’ll figure out a way to package them and make them look pretty for the goody bags.

So come up with your swag pieces that scream your brand in a bold and memorable way. And then come find me. Yeah, you had to know I had my own agenda in here somewhere, right? I’m the 2015 Goody Bag chair for the Emerald City Writers Conference. If you’d like to donate to ECWC’s goody bags, email me at: ecwcgoodiebags@gmail.com.

For some more great ideas on author swag, check out Carmen Cook’s blog posts on author swag ideas from RWA Nationals and ECWC:

http://carmencooknovels.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html

http://carmencooknovels.blogspot.com/search?q=swag

http://carmencooknovels.blogspot.com/search?q=rwa+nationals+swag

http://carmencooknovels.blogspot.com/search?q=rwa+nationals+swag&max-results=20&by-date=true

Got enough ideas to get you started? Okay, now go forth and be creative! Bring me something amazing. I’ll be waiting. 😀

 

 

Learning Life Lessons From My Children

reminderSometimes we get into a funk over discouraging news or things that didn’t work out exactly how we’d expected them to. Just because we aren’t kids anymore doesn’t mean we won’t pout over times that didn’t go our way. I was having one of those pity-parties-for-one when my 10 year old helped me realize there was a different way to look at the situation.

Writing is hard. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. And that’s just to get the book out. Then add in the promoting and marketing of the book, of your brand. It seems petty to whine that it will likely be many years before I qualify for PAN, when some authors are still struggling to get that first book published. So today I am going to write myself a list to remind myself why I am grateful to be an author.gratitude

1.  I get to do what I have dreamed about since I was in 8th grade – tell my stories. I’m going to concentrate on continuing to tell them to the best of my ability and not worry about who is actually reading them.

2.  The excitement and joy that comes with a new story idea is a heady rush. It fades over time, so it’s important to remember the feeling — because it will come again — and it is amazing.

3.  I am meeting so many great people that I never would have met if it hadn’t been for being published with Crimson. And while I may never meet some of them in person, just talking with them on social media has made a huge impact in my life.

4.  I have an outlet for my weirdness. I get to be an introvert and not have to make excuses for it. I can embrace it. 😀 And there are others like me!

5.  My work clothes are whatever I happen to have on — which on most mornings is a bathrobe or pjs. How many people can say that?

6.  I do not have a work commute unless I CHOOSE to leave the house and head for the nearest Starbucks, Panera or Cafe Ladro. And this excursion would cost me maybe a ten minute drive at most.

7.  Release day. It’s like my birthday, Christmas and every holiday rolled into one. I have memorized all my books’ release dates – they are my book babies, after all.

8.  Covers. Whenever I get depressed about sales (or lack of sales), I go to my Amazon author page and look at all the pretty covers. Those are mine and no one can take them away from me.

9.  Swag. I get to design cool stuff to give away to readers. And readers LOVE free stuff. And giving stuff away makes me feel good. Giving it away in person forces me to interact with people — and that’s a very good thing.

10.  I can Google/Bing myself. How awesome is that? I have made some amazing discoveries doing internet searches of myself. 😉 Seriously. Someone made a video of one of my books and posted it on YouTube. I wouldn’t have had a clue if I hadn’t come across it on a search engine. Made. My. Friggin’. Month!

*** And most of all, I am grateful for the support of my family. Their love and enthusiasm keep me inspired. Their patience when I am under deadline and serving cold sandwiches or cereal for the third night in a row humbles me. I couldn’t do it without you guys. Hugs, sloppy kisses and hey, I’m gonna cook you a proper meal tonight! <3happy

10 Things About Me (the Author Me)

There. I differentiated. That means I have a whole other blog post (or two – I could split it into 10 things about me as a person and 10 things about me as a mother.) Woot! Hey, thinking up blog material is hard stuff! 😉 So today’s list is strictly things about the writer side of my life. (Does that make it sound like I have multiple personalities? Hey, I’m a writer – I DO have multiple personalities!)

At my first book signing last summer.

At my first book signing last summer.

Here we go:

1. The first piece I ever submitted was a short story for Woman’s World magazine. I *wish* they’d used form letters back then. Brutal!
2. I’ve been known to dream entire novels in my sleep (and they are DARK!). Nothing I’d write because they really are disturbing and not sweet, happy-ever-after books, so why I dream them, not really sure.
3. When I get stuck and need inspiration, I head to the shower. Something about the water drumming on my head gets my ideas going again. I even have my handy dandy Aqua Notes so I never miss a thought.


4. At a book signing for Dean Koontz, I asked that he sign it “good luck with your writing.” To which he started a discussion. OMG! Super nice guy and he very sincerely wished me luck.


5. I used to write *NSYNC fan fiction. I turned one of those into a full length novel and sold it to Crimson Romance. Five of Hearts is my best selling book to date. And I thought I was the only one who’d go for it. Still amazes me…


6. My dad had this weird policy that he would never read a book by a woman author. So when I was a kid, I made it my mission to get published one day, so that I would be the FIRST woman author he ever read. Unfortunately, he passed away before I got my first contract, but I’d like to believe I would have been the one to change his mind.


7. While I love my work space at home, I have been known to write in the car, at gymnastics, basketball practices, every coffee shop in town and nearly anywhere I have to play chauffeur for the kids. Having ‘littles’ makes me flexible, I guess.

8. When it came time to discuss whether or not I would choose a pen name, hubby reminded me that our last name is already recognizable in the Hollywood community (my father-in-law was the production designer on Top Gun, Ghostbusters and Sister Act, to name a few. And my grandfather-in-law won Oscars for his set design work on The King and I, Cleopatra and more.) He insisted I didn’t want to risk offending anyone by NOT using my married name proudly. So there ya go.

Big Sis spending time with Great-Granddad, Big John's, Oscar.

Big Sis spending time with Great-Granddad, Big John’s, Oscar.

9. I have been writing romance for about ten years now, with a niche in small town contemporary,  on the sweet side with a cast of quirky characters that you’d love to spend time with if you knew them in person. However, I have been obsessed with fairies for almost as long. And I have a series brewing in my head, to that end. Part of me is incredibly excited to start working on something so completely different. And part of me is looking for any excuse NOT to embark on an adventure so far out of my comfort zone.

10. Hubby is incredibly supportive of my writing and my latest celebrity boyfriends. When I was writing Five of Hearts and he knew I was using a photo of Chris Hemsworth for inspiration, he bought me a Thor action figure to place on my desk. When he learned I also had a thing for Chris Evans as another certain Marvel superhero, I discovered a Captain America flash drive in my stocking that Christmas. Love him (the hubby). He’s a keeper!

This guy has a special spot on my desk.

This guy has a special spot on my desk.

Saving the day - one manuscript at a time.

Saving the day – one manuscript at a time.

So that’s a little bit about the writer side of me. Yeah, I stole the first seven directly off my Facebook page. But we have already established that I am lazy, so there ya go. Kudos to everyone that got through the whole post. You rock! Anything completely surprise you? Anything you expected to see but didn’t? I’d love to hear from you.