Finding Valentine’s (Every) Day

It’s hard to believe that Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. As a romance writer, in many ways it symbolizes the genre wholeheartedly and I feel like I should pay homage to it.

But I would argue that romances give us the chance to celebrate love every day of the year. I have had people ask me why they would want to read a book were they already know the ending.

I argue that you might know that the couple will end up together, but the true romance and excitement of the story is HOW they end up together. What obstacles – whether internal or external – do they need to overcome to find that special someone?

That’s what makes romances interesting to read.

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day. And those variations also apply to the romances we pick up and read as well. Each one has a different flavor or nuance that takes us on the journey to that HEA. So enjoy your Valentines whenever the mood strikes you.

 

Cake Usurper

There is something to be said about tradition, even when it comes to our birthdays. Growing up, I can remember getting my favorite treat for my birthday. For years, my favorite birthday treat was a mocha ice cream pie from a Friendly’s Restaurant in the neighboring town. I can remember when they stopped making that pie. I felt a little bit like a part of my memories and childhood went with it.

From there I moved on to other treats until I landed on a yellow cake with coconut frosting, and it has been my birthday cake for years.

This past week, my father celebrated his birthday and when I asked him what he wanted as a treat, he said that he already had gotten the cake. It was the coconut cake – MY coconut cake. Do I have a patent on this cake, or do I own the company that manufactures this cake? No. Am I being melodramatic when I told him that he needed to find his own birthday cake? Maybe.

Was it over the top when I called him “usurper of the cake” – okay, yeah that was a bit much.

But I think there is something to be said about the small things in life that are tied to important events, like birthday memories.

The same can be said for stories. The ones that resonate with us are the ones that bring up possible memories, or more likely emotions that we can then relate to at a personal level. That make us become part of the story and experience it as a participant rather than an observer. Hopefully you’ve found an author who can provide you with that inclusive feeling – like when you take the first bite of your birthday treat each year.

So this week, we celebrated my father’s birthday, coconut cake and all, and I only called him “usurper” once or twice while enjoying a piece of my…I mean his birthday cake. May you also enjoy your own sweet treats this week, whether it be cake or stories…

Sleepy Time

As an author, I have to find time to think about my books. For me it’s not just sitting down and writing it, it’s also thinking through some of the main points of the book. Even though I’m not a true plotter that outlines the story, I still have to pick a direction and go!

Thinking about the characters and the general plot is often done when I have a spare moment – in the shower, on my daily commute, etc.

But I have found for me that the best time to come up with those great character developing moments and pivotal scenes is first thing in the morning when my alarm has gone off and I set it for snooze, or I know that I can stay in bed a little bit longer on the weekend.

That is when the ideas come to me since I’m not bogged down with to do lists, and social media, and my day job. My psyche is free to explore options I wouldn’t think about if I was fully awake.

I call it my sleepy author time. And I treasure it.

So if you’re trying to work through something, try thinking about it when you first wake up. You never know what you might come up with!

In-Between Scenes

I am working on my newest novel and I am always excited when I start writing a book because the brainstorming and idea-generating is fun. The beginning of the book is also fun because I am introducing the characters and laying the groundwork for the story.

And of course the BIG scenes are fun – the first kiss, the first fight, the first love scene, the big battle against evil, the resolution – all wonderful and exhilarating to write.

That shouldn’t be a surprise since life is the same way. We love the BIG life events – weddings, births, anniversaries, parties, holidays.

But what we don’t necessarily get excited about are those “in-between scenes” or day-to-day life events we live. And I have to remind myself of that when I feel like I am slogging through them as I write.

But these scenes are important. They lay the background for the characters and the plot that will take the reader through the book. You can’t only have the larger-than-life scenes in a book. The story needs to be grounded, much like we do in our own lives. And the little things discovered in these scenes become a sweet resolution in the big scenes as well.

What makes the big scenes in books and big events in our lives so special is that they don’t happen every page or every day. In reality, we need the big and the in-between to keep our balance. So back I go to write my next in-between scene. May you find the same balance in your life too!

Clean Sweep

There is something cleansing about starting a new year. You finish out the long holiday season to start fresh with a new year.

For me, I always do what I like to call “the purge” at the end of the year. I go through my house and determine what I no longer need. I pack up clothes for donation, go through my pantry and throw out anything with an expiration date, look through all my things to determine if I really need it anymore, or if it can go into the storage totes I have my annual garage sale items stored in. And of course, there is the annual cleaning of old bills, and other documents.

Once I do all of this cleaning, I feel ready to face the new year and that goes for my writing too. It’s like sweeping the cobwebs out from the corners of my brain as well!

I’ve started working FOR BETTER OR FOR WOLF, the fourth book in my wedding planner series and I’m looking at my whole writing schedule for the year – time to plot some of it out now. Sounds crazy, right? But it worked for me last year 🙂 (says the girl who wrote three books).

So many things in 2019 to look forward too. And all because I’ve made a clean sweep of things!

What do you do to prepare for a new year?

Celebrating the Holidays with your “Framily”

On this Christmas Eve, it’s time to celebrate traditions with family and friends. And the amazing thing that I’ve learned the longer I live on this earth is that traditions are as unique as the wonderful people who surround us. Even more astounding, they can change and develop as new people become a part of our lives.

Family isn’t just the people who share our DNA (although they are pretty darn special in themselves). Family is who we chose to open our arms to bring into the fold. I have referred to these special people (friends) in past blogs as “Framily”.

So during these very special days, take a moment and remember what is really important (and I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t what’s under the Christmas tree).

Tell them you love them and hug them a little tighter. And make your own traditions!

 

Celebrating the Holidays – Writer Style

It’s hard to believe that half of December is already gone and the holidays are upon us. I have been wrapping presents, decorating, watching holiday movies, and eating cookies for a while now. This past week I invited my coworkers over for a party. Appetizers were devoured and games were played – they are a competitive bunch!

But the holidays are about friendship and family and frivolity too. Instead of getting stressed out about the holidays, we need to embrace them and what they mean to us, right?

Last week, I was at the store with a friend and we found the Santa hat I’m wearing in this picture. But it’s not just any old hat, no sirree. It is Santa with some bling! For those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that I don a tiara to celebrate my kickbutt writer princess book release days. Well, when I saw this hat, I couldn’t pass it by.

I mean, can’t we all celebrate our kickbutt princess status at any time? I think so. Plus,  the Santa hat is appropriate since I am still offering IN SICKNESS AND IN ELF, the first book in my Paranormal Wedding Planner series, for 99 cents. Ho, Ho, Ho!

Buy:  Amazon    Kobo     iBooks    B&N

Time for Some Attitude – Holiday Style

Intrigued? Let me explain. I think that the holidays can be a wonderful time. But they can also be a difficult time for those of us who are now “grown up”. (Whatever that is supposed to mean…)

Even for me, a writer who spends time creating characters who come to life on the computer screen, I need to take a leap of faith.

It ultimately comes down to attitude. Something my friends and family will tell you I have in abundance.

In this instance, I’m talking about that extra special “Holiday Attitude”. Case in point – the saying I have on my mantle!

It’s a funny quip, but I think we can learn from it. We all have to believe in something or someone. Whether that’s Santa, or a friend, or neighbor, or ourselves for that matter.

Find it in your heart to believe, believe, believe.

And maybe it will help you remember what it’s like to be a kid again – a kid who doesn’t get underwear for the holidays!

 

Release Day: Demons Are Forever

Book Three in The Realm trilogy is heading out into the world today! As usual, I am sharing my release day kickbutt writer princess picture with you! Tah, dah!

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I am so excited to share Sergei’s story with you. Both Misha and Aleksei are larger than life and I love their personalities (and don’t worry, they both play large parts in this book) but there is something special about Sergei.

Sergei sees himself as a disappointment to his family, but they set him straight like good families are supposed to. And that’s another reason why this story is special – yes, it’s about Sergei finding purpose and love, but it’s about the importance of FAMILY.

I hope you enjoy this book! It has been a wild and crazy year – especially releasing a new book a month for three months (whose idea was that, anyway?).

Take a look and if you missed the first two books, Misha and Aleksei are waiting patiently…

And before I sign off, today is Veteran’s Day in the States and I have to take a moment to mention the men and women who have served and continue to serve in the armed services. Thank you.

Order:  Amazon  iBooks  Nook  Kobo

Halloween Treats (Excerpt) Coming Your Way!

Last week, I celebrated Halloween with parties and costumes! This year, I dressed up as a Minion. What do you think?

I got a kick out of it and the costume was like wearing a warm hug all day long.

I also bought something appropriate for celebrating the Halloween season. In the past, I have had trouble not buying Halloween decorations. This year I controlled myself (for the most part) until I saw this pillow.

Now how could I walk away from that? I am the Queen of Halloween – self appointed – but still true.

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And as the Queen of Halloween, I am giving you a treat today (better than a trick, I think).

Attached below is an excerpt from DEMONS ARE FOREVER, the third book in my Realm Trilogy that releases one week from today on the 12th!

Chapter 1

Sergei Chesnokov was a demon without purpose. A pathetic admission, especially for someone two hundred forty-five years old, but true nonetheless.

The bell sounded, announcing that the plane had taxied to the gate and passengers could leave their seats, and the people around him leapt into action. Always the same–everyone trying to wrestle with bags that were too big and should never have been in the overhead to begin with, then jockeying for position to rush off the plane to their newest adventure, only to have to wait for their connecting flight or ride.

Sergei used to be like them, traveling throughout the world for the past century to experience everything it had to offer, and using his camera to capture it. So much anticipation. Hell, he had been one of the first to cross the ocean on a commercial flight. There was something about being the first that appealed to him. Maybe being the third son played into it. Growing up, he had never been the first to do anything…except disappoint his father.

“Is everything okay, sir?”

The plane was empty, the flight attendant looking at him with concern. “Yes. I’m fine. I’m not in a rush, so I decided to let everyone else get off first.”

She smiled. “It is a bit crazy, isn’t it?”

Sergei pulled his backpack out from under the seat in front of him and stood. “Yes.” He grabbed his appropriately-sized duffel from the overhead as well.

She walked with him to the front of the plane. “Is Chicago your home?”

Chicago. He’d forgotten where he was for a moment. Nonstop traveling did that. “No. I’m not home. Have a good day.”

The teeming crowd of people had him stopping in the middle of the terminal to get his bearings. He hadn’t been in the States for a while now, and it always took a few days to acclimate to the craziness. Next step was to grab something to eat and then figure out where he wanted to go next.

Sergei pulled his phone out and switched out of airplane mode. In seconds, it beeped, telling him he had a voice mail. He frowned at the name—Irina, his grandmother. She insisted that he call her on Sundays if he was in an area that actually had cell phone service.

The call came in an hour ago – five pm on a Tuesday. His stomach twisted. Something had to be wrong.

Sergei hurried over to the wall, dropped his duffel at his feet, hit play, and listened.

“Sergei, you need to come home. Aleksei is in grave danger. Call the following number and talk to Kyle. She’ll pick you up at the airport and explain everything. Please, Grandson. Your family needs you.”

Sergei’s chest tightened. What kind of message was that? What had happened to his brother?

He called his grandmother’s cell, but it went to voice mail. Then he listened to her message again and wrote down the number for this Kyle person before rushing to the ticket counter. Luckily only one person stood in front of him. He studied the flight screens while he waited. A flight to Cleveland left in less than an hour. Stepping up to the counter, he booked a seat on the plane even though the ticket agent said he would have to run to make it.

Ticket in hand, he ran toward the gate and yelled for them to stop before they closed the door. He clambered onto the plane, stuffed his duffel into an overhead, and dialed the number his grandmother had given him. The person answered on the second ring.

“Sergei?”

“How—”

“Irina gave me your number before she left. Where are you?”

“I’m in Chicago, and just got on a plane for Cleveland, so I should be there in an hour.”

“Good. I’ll be at arrivals waiting for you. I’ll be in a black van.”

“What’s going on, Kyle? Where’s my grandmother?”

“Your family is trying to help Aleksei.”

Sergei let out a breath at the use of present tense. “So he’s not dead.”

“No. I’ll explain everything to you as soon as I can, but it would be better to do it in person.”

Sergei gripped the phone tighter and opened his mouth to argue.

A flight attendant stopped beside him. “I’m sorry, sir. You’ll have to turn off your phone now.”

“I’ll call you when I land, Kyle.” Sergei hung up the phone and flipped it into airplane mode as the plane taxied down the runway.

He leaned against the headrest and rubbed his hands on his jeans.

“Are you okay, son?”

He hadn’t been paying attention to anyone when he boarded, and he turned to look at the older human female next to him who’d made the comment.

“I’m fine.”

“Are you afraid to fly?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Are you traveling for work?”

He wanted to ignore her questions, but he had been taught to respect elders, even though he was older than she was by at least a hundred years. “I’m visiting my family.”

“Ah. Families are both wonderful and stressful. I hope your trip home is a happy one.” She picked up the book in her lap and thankfully began to read.

Home. He didn’t have a real home anymore. And now the family he had for all intents and purposes abandoned was in trouble. His grandmother had been telling him for a while now to come home, but he always made excuses. Now he didn’t know what awaited him.

He hadn’t spoken to either of his brothers in a long time. He had little in common with his older brother, Misha, and the last conversation he had with Aleksei had ended in an argument. What if those were the last words they would ever speak to each other?

Sergei ran his hands over his face. He had a lot to make up for. He just hoped he wasn’t too late.

So did that entice you??? The Queen of Halloween hopes so!

Releases November 12th – PreOrder:  Amazon  iBooks  Nook  Kobo