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!

Time to Hunker-Down

This past weekend in my neck of the woods it snowed. I spent Saturday in my PJ’s and robe doing laundry, and dishes, and adding more words to the new novel I’m working on.

As much as I’m not a fan of snow (I’m not the outdoor skiing, skating, snowboarding type), I do find benefits to staying inside. I call it my “hunker-down time” and it usually lasts through January and February. A time for me to write my stories (and read some as well). To explore worlds in my imagination that are more interesting and less frigid than my current world.

Sometimes I think we all need to hunker-down and relax especially after the craziness of the holidays. Take some time, maybe even squeeze a nap in here and there, and enjoy the snow…through your window while you sit on your couch drinking hot cocoa. With a good book, of course.

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?

Reflecting on 2018

It’s hard to believe that I am writing this on New Year’s Eve. Time never stands still. So as I sit in my comfy chair with my boy cat jockeying for position on my lap along with my laptop, I am reflecting back on this past year.

In 2018, I wrote three novels and released them in September, October, and November. It’s a crazy thing to type, but it’s true and I’m very proud of my accomplishment.

I still write my Monday blog and have been trying to spend a bit more time on social media getting to know you, my dear readers!

I also attended RWA Nationals in Denver this past July. That’s always a time to reconnect with my fellow writers and recharge my writing batteries.

I participated in an author panel at my local RWA conference in September. Such an honor to sit next to friends and share our experiences.

I was honored to be asked by a local library to participate in first page reads. Writers bring in the first page of their manuscript and I (along with two agents) got to comment on the pages. What an amazing experience with a great group of writers!

And now I’m starting to plan out my  2019 writer calendar. Stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on some things.

For now, have a wonderful and safe New Year.

Bring it on, 2019!!

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!

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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!