Yearly Inventory Time

Happy New Year’s Eve, chick-a-dees!

I suppose it’s something that comes of getting older – and it’s rather cliche – but the time has gone by so quickly I barely even noticed we were already here. December 31st. When I was a kid, years were eternal and I didn’t realize how fleeting they were, what ethereal little creatures (or fickle little monsters, your choice) they can be.

So it’s time to take stock. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions and I never have been. I’m more the ‘if you want it to happen, start now’ kind of people, and let me tell you, this wreaks havoc on my procrastination ways. You might be telling me by way of your screen – um, you can’t be both – but I’m here to say it’s possible. Oh yes. It doesn’t make sense, but I’m nuts that way.

In honor of the 12 months that are on their way out, I have compiled a list of life’s lessons I have learned this year.

1. It’s okay to take a plunge once in awhile. It’s nerve-wracking as all hell, but there’s nothing like taking a risk to make you feel like you’re taking charge of your life.

2. Don’t throw a Halloween party with people whose idea of a costume is to copy whatever it is you’re going to wear. There were two nerds at the ball this year. Yes, there are photos. No, I will not be sharing unless legally required to in a subpoena. (p.s. It’s a lot of fun to dress as a nerd for Halloween.)

3. Ask for help. Even if it’s a small thing. This is one I struggle with because I think I’m She-Ra, except I’m not blond. Case in point – two weeks ago, I helped my friend at a winter festival to raise funds for the Special Olympics. At the end, we had to pack up the booth. Packing up an awning is kind of like performing brain surgery in my honest opinion. I tried lifting stuff that was way too heavy and ended up with a bruised arm, a deep cut on one finger, and a bit of humiliation because, you know, naturally, people like to watch a person making a fool of herself.

4. You may not always be right, but neither is your mom. I love my mother. And she’s an intelligent, caring, savvy person. But as I’ve come to know her as an adult, I’m realizing that sometimes she is just plain wrong. And it’s okay. Before, I had to take her word for it even while rebelling because she had some years and experience on me. But she’s human, too. And can I say, it’s a relief to know it wasn’t  just me being a bratty teenager. She can be wrong…and once in a blue moon, she’ll admit to it!

5. I love the resilience of the human spirit. There has been tragedy in this nation and others this year. But there are so many stories of people going out of their way to help others. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of the NYC police officer who bought shoes for a homeless man, and also of the kindness in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

6. Confucius say – you will get gray hairs. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you don’t want them. But it’s going to happen. It’s just something you have to deal with. Get over it. This is what I tell myself, anyway, and sometimes it works.

7. I really want people to know the difference between there, their, they’re and your and you’re.

8. Make a plan and stick to it. I have a dual nature where I can be extremely patient, but then go and do something impulsive. These are my flights of fancy. It’s great to have them, but sometimes you do just need to make a plan, and put it into action. You’ll be happy you did. Which leads me to…

9.  Have flights of fancy. I threw a birthday party for my brother this summer at the beach and I decided to make it a wig party because I’d been to one and it had been great. Someone should have reminded the grinning fool (i.e. me) that wearing a wig in June in the midst of heat, humidity, and heat is tantamount to sticking your head in the oven. Alright, I exaggerate, but it was pretty darned hot. Bless them, they all went along with it. What good sports, huh?

10. Don’t buy clothes that are not your size, thinking you’ll fit into them at some point. Now, I know there are some people who think this is a way of motivation, kind of like The Secret – if you put it out into the world, the world will hear you. No. It’s a waste of money. Same thing with shoes. I bought some cute boots a size and a half larger because they didn’t have my size and they were too great a deal to pass up. I fell. I do that sometimes.

11. Open yourself up to new possibilities. By the time we’re adults (real adults not technical ones), we tend to think we know ourselves completely. That’s why it’s a surprise when you discover something new about yourself. I discovered I might like to write a YA book, when before, I was firmly of the opinion I only wrote a specific type of story. I now count a YA trilogy as one of my works in progress.

12. Give at least one compliment a day, and make it genuine. This was sort of an experiment for me this year. As humans we want praise for our work, but don’t always realize that we should give praise as well. I’ve complimented friends and family on simple things like ‘hey, that color looks really good on you’ or ‘those chocolate pretzel sticks were delicious.’ You’ll see the light in the eyes of the person whom you complimented. Little things like that count.

There are a lot more things I’ve learned, and some I keep re-learning or remembering. I can’t wait to see what 2013 has to offer. One non-resolution I’m trying right now is to get back to that place in my writing where I write without fear. My friend sent me another writer’s post and she speaks of this, and it’s true. At some point I started writing in a way that took other people’s opinions/criticism/suggestions into way too much consideration. And this is not to say I don’t appreciate that because I can always learn and grow as a writer. But this is about writing in that space that leaves the fear of disappointing out of the equation.

Anyway, may you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and an even better year in 2013!

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Sunday Funday

I’ve mentioned before how I love holiday movies, and seeing as we’re in the home stretch for Christmas, I’ve been watching more than usual. Love Actually may be cheesy, but I love cheese! Hugh Grant always looks so proper, so I get a kick out of his dancing scene because dancing around the house is something I do on the regular!

Phin’s Hot Cross Buns

Hi all! The Avon family has put together a fun month of recipes to celebrate the holiday season over at avonromance.com. This is how it works – for each day of the month of December, an Avon author will submit a recipe that one of their characters loves, up until the 24th. Today is my turn! Head on over to see how to make the hot cross buns that Phin loves so much in “War of the Magi” in Five Golden Rings. I’ve had a lot of fun looking at the recipes from other authors – I’m even going to try some of them because they all sound amazing. Happy cooking, people!

(Oh, and I tried a recipe by Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, so if my buns don’t look like hers – and they don’t – don’t hold it against me!)

Deck the Halls with ROMANCE!

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Avon is ringing (get it, rings, five golden rings…no? ok, never mind) in the holidays with their “Deck the Halls with Romance” event which promotes romance stories with a holiday twist. If you go to http://deckthehalls.avonromance.com/, you’ll find tons of stories from your favorite authors. And since you’ve probably been busy shopping for others, why not stop by and browse, and pick up a lil’ sumthin’ sumthin’ for yourself. You know you deserve it. (I’m assuming you’re all on the nice list, but even the naughty deserve good reading material, right?) I’ve followed my own advice and have picked up Lori Wilde’s The Christmas Cookie Chronicles series. I had the family kids over yesterday for my annual Christmas Arts & Crafts day, and I’m a little cookie-d out, but this series is just what I’m looking for – cookies with all the fun but none of the fat.

On a minor tangent – as of December 18th, FIVE GOLDEN RINGS was ranked #41 on Barnes & Noble’s Top 100 List

and

#5 on Nook’s Under $5 romance page

and

#20 on the bestselling romance books page 

If that doesn’t deserve a Woo Hoo!, I don’t know what does. I’m so grateful to all those who have purchased the book for all the great holiday stories, and I can only hope (and pray, and jump backwards five times, and fast for a month) that everyone enjoyed it. 

 

 

The Next Big Thing BLOG HOP

Romance Writer Rock-Star Karen Erickson tagged me to join in on The Next Big Thing fun! As part of the process, romance authors tag other romance authors to answer 10 questions, and post their responses on their respective blogs. Confusing? Not really. Read along.

 What is your working title of your book?

 The Midnight Kiss…I think, lol. It’s the first in a three-book series I’m writing.

 

 Where did the idea come from for the book?

That’s a hard question to answer. I can never really explain where the ideas come from, they just do. I guess I wanted to write a story about two tight-knit siblings and place them in a town where they only really have each other to relate to. Plus, the series has a ‘kiss’ theme.

 

 What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary romance

 

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I love this question! This is a game I play when reading other books. I’d love to get into ALL my casting decisions (picture me in a director’s chair with a plethora of 8×10’s in my hand) for the series, especially since I picture the hero in the last book of the series as a H-U-N-K of the First Order, but I’ll contain myself.

Sebastian and Adriana are the protagonists in the first book, and hmm, I guess I’d go with someone like Garrett Hedlund for him and Camilla Belle for her. A little different on both counts, but close. This question is so hard!

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What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After learning distressing news, a man with a sensitive soul embraces his rogue streak on New Year’s Eve with a mystery woman, resulting in a kiss that will change his world and hers.

 

Will your book be self-published or published by an agency?

We’ll see. I’m hoping to have it picked up, but if not I’ll self-publish.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s still a work in progress. However, it’s going quickly.

 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Not really sure. I’m sure there’s something like it, though.

 

 Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Really a lot of things – especially with Sebastian. I love reading stories about the strong, masculine type. But I thought, where’s the story about the nice guy, the guy who’ll be sensitive to a girl’s needs? So that was my main inspiration. Plus! Friday Night Lights, the tv series. I want my town to be like the one in FNL…well, minus all the insane football mentality.

 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

– It’s set in Texas, so you KNOW there are going to be some big personalities on hand!

– It’s set up in a way that focuses on the entire series’ story, not just the two lovebirds. But don’t    worry, they’re front and center.

– It’s a story with a lot of heart.

 

This is where I would tag five other authors to participate, but since the holidays are around the corner, I’m going to wind it down here. I’d like to thank Karen Erickson for inviting me, along with Sandra Jones and Viv Lorret from the Five Golden Rings anthologies.

RELEASE DAY!

FIVE GOLDEN RINGS, an anthology of Christmas themed stories is officially on sale today!

I couldn’t be more excited, although to be honest, the reality of this hasn’t really set in yet. The other stories in the anthology are sweet, entertaining, and dare I say it, sexy!To follow along with the authors of the other stories, keep track of the BLOG Tour this week. 

12/10  Novel Reflections

12/11  Books-N-Kisses

12/12  United by Books

12/13  Book of Secrets (which btw, sounds like a great title for a book)

12/14  Book Tart 

 

Have fun touring the blogs and HAPPY RELEASE DAY!

One Writer’s Homage to O. Henry

Based on the title of my novella, you might have deciphered that it’s a play on O. Henry’s classic Christmas tale “The Gift of the Magi”. And just in case you’re thinking a sci fi/fantasy book named “War of the Magi” somehow got mixed into the romance pile, let me quickly reassure you that there are in fact, no dueling wise men to speak of, although now that I think about it, wouldn’t that be an awesome book? Three powerful kings at war, their gold weapons designed to incapacitate a city with the pungent smells of frankincense and myrrh. And now I’ve lost you. Sorry about that!

For those of you who haven’t read O. Henry’s story, I’ll summarize by saying it’s a tiny lasting portrait of true, selfless love. And that’s why I love it – it’s a simple message but a resounding one that is especially relevant in our modern age. We could use a little bit more consideration and kindness these days, but most especially at Christmas. I’m guilty of it, too. We get so caught up in what we think is important that we forget the modest, easy ways of love, and not just romantic love. (You can access the story at Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7256).

These themes must have been lurking at the back of my mind because as I started penning an outline for a holiday-themed story, elements of the other tale kept finding their way in. The idea was simple – I wanted to have a woman break out of her safe, routine life in order to do something grand, and perhaps a little bit madcap. What would a man do when confronted with a woman on the verge of the doing the extraordinary? Be scared, for one thing! But also, find out just what motivated her choices, and discover the woman inside the good intentions.

I didn’t want to hit the reader over the head with heavy-handed comparisons. I made a conscious choice not to provide a ‘version’ of O. Henry’s tale; I really tried to create my own story, with a few subtle hints at the other.

Nods to O. Henry’s story

2012 “War of the Magi”

1906 “Gift of the Magi”

Ginny’s unruly hair is a constant source of annoyance for her. Phin, however, likes it. The young wife in this story sells her beautiful, long hair in order to buy a gift for her husband.
At the beginning of the story, Ginny stares out a window at the object of her desires. At the beginning of the story, the young wife stares out a window in despair at her poverty.
The story takes place in 1908, two years after O. Henry’s version was published. I wanted to allow enough time for O. Henry’s story to exist in Ginny and Phin’s world even if they never mentioned it.
Phin has a pseudonym, unbeknownst to most of the townspeople. O. Henry was a pseudonym. The author’s given name was William Sydney Porter.
Phin is a newspaperman. O. Henry worked for a newspaper before reaching renown for his short stories.

So there you have it, the Easter eggs – let’s call them Christmas ornaments for the occasion, shall we – behind my little ol’ story. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you all enjoy it, as well as the other romances in Avon Impulse’s Christmas anthology, Five Golden Rings. Happy Holidays!

P. S. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to perform one selfless act, à la Ginny, this holiday season. I’m going to resolve to do the same. If you undertake this mission, I’d love to hear all about it!

Holidays are for family…and holiday movies!

I’m a sucker for a good movie, romance or otherwise. But there’s something about a holiday movie that has me counting down the days after Thanksgiving in anticipation. The Hallmark Movie Channel has done a great job recognizing this need in a lot of us (because I know I’m not alone in this). They have twelve new original movies coming out this holiday season, and I’m looking forward to many of them. You can go to their website and find out what they are and when they’ll premiere.

I thought I’d dedicate a little time to those movies that get me every year, no matter what, and to ones I’m looking forward to this year.

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A SEASON FOR MIRACLES – starring Carla Gugino, David Conrad, Patty Duke and a pre-Parenthood Mae Whitman

It doesn’t matter what time of the year this movie is on — I. WILL. WATCH. IT. No joke, Hallmark ran it sometime this summer and I got swept up all over again. If you’ve never watched it, you absolutely must. It’s a heartfelt movie with feeling, fun, and festivities. It takes place in a small town (I love stories set in small towns) with quirky characters and a dashing police officer. Need I say more?

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HOLIDAY AFFAIR – starring Cynthia Gibb and David James Elliott of JAG fame

Speaking of FAME, I just learned that Cynthia Gibb was in the first three seasons of the original FAME tv series! I love this movie for its simplicity and heart, and because it is a remake of the 1949 film of the same name with Hollywood heavy-hitters Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum. The newer version deviates a tiny bit from the original, but they are both lovely films. I love when love stories/movies/life center around children because I find that you learn  so much about a person based on how they treat children. Some of the best romance novels I’ve read have had children as an integral part of the plot. I’m sure you can think of some of your favorite authors who have done this to perfection.

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CHRISTMAS WITH HOLLY starring Sean Faris, Eloise Mumford, and Lucy Gallina

This one is set to premiere at the end of this week, and I’m excited! The film is based on Lisa Kleypa’s book Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, the first in the Friday Harbor series. I am one of the many who likes to imagine romance novels made into film. I pretend I’m a casting director, and consider who would make the best (insert character name here). I’ve seen the previews for the movie and it looks like it’s going to be another wonderful addition to my holiday movie collection. Lisa Kleypas can do no wrong – I’m always entertained when reading her historical novels and her newer contemporary stories. The ones set in Texas are my favorite of her contemporaries.

I could go on and on…as I mentioned before, I love movies. But I’ll leave you with these last holiday films that are not exclusive to the romance genre. They’re classics, and for good reason. Christmas in Connecticut (the Barbara Stanwyck version), Miracle on 34th Street (any version), and my all-time fave, for sentimental reasons, White Christmas. I think I’m almost to the point where I can recite verbatim all the dialogue and musical numbers. Little movie trivia – did you know Rosemary Clooney was only 26 at the time they filmed the movie, while her love interest Bing Crosby was 51?

The holidays are definitely times best spent with family, but late at night, when everyone has gone to bed, make yourself a steaming cup of hot cocoa and cuddle up to one of the many movies this season has to offer. Indulge, why don’t you?

Hello

CHAPTER 1 – In which I say ‘hello’.

Hello out there to you denizens of all things romance. I have a passport to be here, and in fact, have been a citizen of this land for many years. Once upon a time, I happened upon a LaVyrle Spencer book in my high school library, and upon reading a few pages, looked up with an expression I can only describe as “Eureka”. Now, I know that’s not a real description, but you know what I mean. Cue the beam of spotlight, the angels singing on high, the feeling of discovery. I was home. I read the book in record time, as if fearing the librarian would recognize what I had in my grubby hands and take it away. She didn’t do that, and thus, my relationship with romance and ‘lady fiction’ as one friend once called it, began. My aunt – who shall remain nameless – supplied me with several of her own treasures and it wasn’t long before I had a collection of my own. (It took me awhile to realize there was steamier stuff out there than LaVyrle Spencer – but she’s still a fond favorite:)

Let me share with you what I love about ‘lady fiction’.

  • It’s literature with a heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love all types of literature. But I find that literary fiction is very…literary. It doesn’t make me laugh, or sigh, or get all tingly with the consistency of a well-written romance novel. 
  • It gives me the opportunity to live out a love story with people (characters) I come to know and care for. And when it’s a series, oh boy! I get a chance to dwell in those communities/families/towns for several books. Bridgertons, anyone?
  • I love love stories! I get caught up, I absolutely do.
  • It’s a break from reality. A lovely, steamy, dreamy break.

And most importantly:

  • 532150_512450288786702_1359054603_nRomance novels are not just about romance. Within the pages of your favorite romance author’s book, you’ll find slices of life that  are sometimes so relatable, you’d think the author knew your life story. Yes, sometimes the stories are a little out there to spice up a plot, but the feelings are real. The pages are full of families fighting or uniting, of parents worrying, of men and women at desperate points in their lives. And yes, some are just plain fun, and that’s part of life, too. 

So you see, I’m a writer, but I’m also the biggest fan. So this is my hello. It’s great to be here, and you’ll be hearing from me soon. Happy reading!

 

I’d love to read comments about what YOU like about romance novels.