Oh, Loretta


What seems like a long time ago, but is really only about six years, I was part of a writing group that met every Wednesday at the local library.  I lived in a semi-rural area, kind of like I do now, and the library was a great gathering place.  It had been built in an old grocery store that backed up to thick woods, and sat in a plaza with a very authentic Mexican food restaurant, and a Shell gas station.  That’s how it is in rural areas – things are tucked in the strangest places.

Our group was small – a couple in their 40’s who drove from the city out to our meetings, a 30-something woman who had just been published by The Wild Rose Press (my publisher, who I was contracted with in 2014), myself, and Loretta.

Loretta was by far the most interesting person in our group.  She was 84 years old and “finally living her dream of writing.”  She had wanted to be a writer all her life.  She was full of stories.  She was working on a “true” story that involved people at the local VFW hall bar, aliens, mad cows, swamp gas, and murder.  She would read excerpts to us at our meetings, and it didn’t take long for me to look forward anxiously to the next chapter of her story.  It was fantastical stuff, written in awful format, but the story was enough to keep you interested.  She even wrote a “short” story for our non-juried anthology, in which we published stories from our group and from another writing group in the area.  A Tongue in Cheek History of Jefferson County was published the summer before I moved from Missouri to Colorado.

One of the things we did as a writing group was to give ourselves challenges.  I wasn’t fully invested in my novel-writing at that point, but the writing challenges gave me some inspiration to work with.  Sometimes, I provided a prompt from my Write-Brain book, which had a lot of prompts to work with.  We wrote to “the first thing I noticed was the splotch of catsup on his white shirt,” and “Down in the swamp,…” But Loretta’s favorite writing challenge was the six-word challenge.  All of us would provide six words that needed to be used in a story, giving us 30 words to work with.

Loretta’s favorite “word” was “cobalt blue.”  Yes, that’s two words, but we’re talking about Loretta, and no one ever had the heart to call her on “cobalt blue.” Any time we did this challenge, that would be her first contribution.  She loved that phrase. And to be honest, it made is be really creative about our stories.

I was able to use cobalt blue, along with all the other words, in a story I wrote that deserves to be a whole novel.  I love that story, and the main character, Bernice.  If it weren’t for Loretta, I wouldn’t have that story.

I am pretty sure Loretta is no longer on this earth.  I have no way of checking, as I’ve lost contact with the people in that writing group.  But I will never forget Loretta.  Every evening when the sun goes down, and the sky turns that deep, colorful blue you get at twilight, I think of Loretta.  Any time I see a blue dish, or a young lady with blue hair, I think of Loretta.  When I think of writing fantastical stories with aliens, or I pass a VFW hall, I think of Loretta.

And when I read my short story, called “Bernice,” I think of Loretta.  The story is published online, and maybe you’ll take a click over and read it.

As always, I’d love to have your comments.  And is there someone in your past that you will never forget, where certain sights or smells or sounds will bring that person back to life in your mind, even though they are long gone?

***

Fairest of the Faire

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

Buy at Amazon (Kindle and paperback)

Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Wildfires, Monsoons, and Mojitos


This blog post is part of the Authors of Wild Rose Press Summer Treats and Reads Blog Hop! There is a Kindle Fire giveaway (see end of post!).

blog hop header

Wildfires, Monsoons, and Mojitos

I work, live, and create in Colorado.  Most people think that means I must live on the top of a mountain somewhere, and it snows year-round.

But Colorado is a diverse place.  I live at “altitude,” but not in the mountains.  Most of Colorado is higher than 3500 feet above sea level.  My town sits at 4,987 feet above sea level.  But the mountains, or at least the start of the foothills, are some 10 miles west of my town, and the highest peaks are 50 miles away or more.  I live in what is considered the “high plains,” but the mountains are pretty much in my back yard.  And I have been here five years, and have yet to see snow earlier than the first weekend of October, or later than Memorial Day.

Okay, so yeah, it can snow here into near-summer.  But like many areas of the country, our climate has its extremes.  When summer finally comes, we bake under a merciless sun.  And that whole thing about thin air and being closer to the sun?  That is all true.  Sunburns can happen in January.  I know, I’ve gotten a sunburn in January.

We’ve had several over-100-degree-days this summer, and I don’t care where you live, whether the air is dry or not, 100 is hot.  HOT. And with hot, dry air, and a blazing sun, and crazy pop-up high-based thunderstorms with lightning, we get fires.  Hot, scorching, mountain-burning fires that go for days.  This year, we have had several fires, and two are still burning madly, gobbling up thousands of acres of pine trees and brush.  Many of us are hoping desperately for an early monsoon season.  Monsoon here is when we get Pacific moisture moving up from the south, mixing with wind from the mountains, which creates intense bursts of rain that raise the humidity but also keep the ground wet.  Wet ground = no more fires.

But in the meantime, we are all looking for ways to stay cool.  Many Coloradans head uphill, into the moutains, where temperatures are 30-40 degrees cooler. That cool air comes with a nice breeze, but a warm sun.  It’s as close to heaven as one can come!  But if I can’t go uphill, then I look for shade.  In a dry climate such as ours, finding a nice tree to lounge under can make all the difference.  Add in a cool, refreshing drink, and suddenly that 100 degrees doesn’t feel so bad. I am blessed to have a shady yard, and pretty flower gardens, so hanging out in my favorite wicker chair in the back yard with a tasty drink in one hand and a great summer read in the other is one of the most relaxing things I can do.  And my favorite drink?  My own personal take on a mojito!

Susabelle’s Perfectly Cool Mojito

  • 10-12 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime, cut in wedges
  • 4 slices cucumber (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 1 1/2 ounces rum (I only use Bacardi Gold)
  • Ice

In a bowl or deep glass, place the mint, limes, and cucumber.  Mash vigorously with the end of a knife handle or wooden spoon to macerate and remove the juices.  Strain this mixture into a glass, being sure to press all those juices into your glass. Add the rum, club soda, and as much ice as you’d like.  Stir well.  Garnish with a lime wedge, cucumber slice, and mint sprig.  Enjoy!

(Mojitos are versatile and can be made with any number of cool summer ingredients. The only requirement is mint, lime, and rum. I’ve used melon – honeydew or watermelon – and berries as well! Experiment!)


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More Homework


Since my story is coming along slowly (and I’m a slow writer to begin with), these last few weeks have been spent doing homework.  When we last talked, I was making my way through Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon.  Since finishing that, I’ve been playing around with a GMC chart for each of the four characters in the book.  Using post-it notes and a white board seems to be the best way to do this, for now.  I can move the post-its around as I figure out what is internal and what is external GMC.  This has helped solidify what I already knew about the characters, but there is much more room to grow here.

William Bernhardt, Creating Character (part of the Red Sneaker series)To that end, I picked up William Bernhardt’s Creating Characters.  This book was recommended by a fellow author.  This book is part of a series of six books called the “Red Sneaker Books.”  Each is a short hit with good, concise information and exercises that can be done to help firm up your stories.  It covers things like plot, story structure, dialogue, style, and premise, along with the character book.  The appendices are loaded with examples, worksheets, and exercise you can do.  Halfway through Creating Character, I am finding that I need to give my characters more to do.  Every story, Bernhardt says, is “character driven.”  He points out some ways of adding detail that I hadn’t thought of yet.  Rolling this into my work with GMC is natural and enhances my ability to problem-solve through the difficulties I’m having right now getting my story written.

Of course, if I’m doing homework, I’m not writing, and that makes me feel bad.  Both Dixon and Bernhardt insist that you need to write every day.  This is so hard for me to do, with all of real life taking much of my energy and time.  There are nights I barely have time to get a shower before bed, with a school-age daughter and plenty of other things I need to do.  Last night I was up until midnight, taking care of laundry so someone would have work clothes, putting some more time in on a baby quilt that I need to make for someone, cleaning up the kitchen from dinner, waiting up for my daughter to get done with her event at school, etc..  And it’s spring.  My workload vastly increases during this time as the gardens need to be worked and planted, there is outside house maintenance to start working on, oh, and yes, my older daughter is getting married in June.  I have a junior bridesmaid’s dress to make for the younger daughter, and decorations to create for the wedding, not to mention scheduling all of the little details for the ceremony and reception.  And I get to run away to a conference for work at the end of March.

So yes, finding daily time to write is hard, but when so many tell me I need to be doing it, then I need to be doing it.  I’m going to take a real hard look at my schedule and see where I can put that time.  Even if it is a half hour, it will be better than no writing at all.  And I need to keep myself from doing things related to writing and calling it writing (like reading Berhnardt’s book and doing the exercises).

Have you read any of the Red Sneakers books?  Have you found them to be helpful?  Do you have book recommendations to help me get my story moving?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

 

Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

Buy at Amazon (Kindle and paperback)

Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Because I Don’t Give a &%*#


Baby covering its ears and cryingOkay, bear with me here.  It’s not what you think. Really.

Has anyone besides me noticed the ramped up use of the F-word in everything from Facebook memes to the titles of books to television shows?  I think I first noticed it a couple of years ago, but it has seemed to have gotten extreme.  There are now popular books out there with this word in the title, lots of memes floating around, and it just has gotten to the point where I can’t go more than a few minutes online without seeing it.  That being said, I still don’t think I’ve been desensitized to the word, and it bothers me almost every time I see it.

Not that I haven’t used that word in appropriate conversations.  I think many of us have.  And I am by no means a prude.  I write erotic romance, for goodness’ sake.  I have described things in my books that would make people blush.  So that isn’t what bothers me about it.  I think it started out being “edgy” to use the word.  A lot of young bloggers did it, and it sort of caught on.  But it’s not just the young ones doing it now, and it is definitely not “edgy” when everyone is doing it.

I’m a writer.  I make judicious and effective use of words to get my ideas across.  As a writer, the use of the f-word may show that I am uncreative, unimaginative, or lacking in vocabulary.  There may be very specific instances when the f-word is the right word to use, but that should be so rare that the word, when heard, should have a very specific purpose, and create a specific type of feeling or reaction in my reader.  When everything uses the f-word, it loses any effect it might have had in expressing emotions.  Are we really saying what we need to say when the only word we can find to use is the f-word?

I suppose some people have been normalized to it, so it doesn’t bother them the way it does me.  For me, I have not been normalized to it.  It is a specific word to use in very specific situations, but not blanket-used.

So, how do you feel about the use of the word?  I know I have friends who completely disagree with me, but I also can’t justify using the word extensively when I have so many other words to use, which say things with much more detail than one four-letter word.  What do you think?

Hauntings From the Past


The Transitive Vampire Book CoverBear with me…I know it isn’t the haunting season anymore.  Trust me, you’ll like this. 🙂

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging around some of my favorite haunts (aka, all the wonderful thrift stores in my town) and picked up an original 1984 copy of The Transitive Vampire.  It still had the dust cover on it, and the binding had not been cracked.  In other words, brand spanking new, yet older than the college students I work with at my day job.  31 years old, to be exact.  Let’s see…at 31, I was a mom and wife and working a full time day job and a part time evening job.  Kind of like today.  But I digress…

Why I didn’t have this book in my “writing books” collection, I am not sure.  It should have been right there along with Eats, Shoots and Leaves and Bird by Bird. How could I resist buying this book at the thrift store?  It was $2 on half-price day…what a bargain!

I’m going to digress again, here.  Because when I brought this book home, along with lots of other goodies from the thrift store, it sat on the dining room table for the rest of the day.  My husband saw it and said, “Transvestite Vampire?”  I almost fell on the floor laughing.  My husband is not much of a reader, and never a writer, as moving media is more his thing (television).  He saw the first part of “Trans” and went from there.  After I stopped giggling, I told him it was a book on writing.  He wasn’t very impressed.

From a review by Thomas DePietro in 1985:

The deliberately offbeat examples that form the body of this whimsical handbook of grammar may delight readers who savor the postmodern fictions of Borges, Barth, and Barthelme.  But these self-consciously hip sentences risk perpetuating what The Transitive Vampire tacitly acknowledges: many college-educated adults can’t parse a simple sentence.

Thirty years later, I think that is probably still true.  I work with students in higher education every day, and I see it still.  I know writing is somewhat of a talent, but it is also a skill, and needs to be practiced.  I always say essays are easy for me.  And that is true.  I was born with the ability to take a small kernel of information and form an entire treatise around it.  I can do it quickly, and I can do it over and over.  I was that kid in college whose first year comp professor recognized as someone who needed to put in a bit more effort, so she gave me lots of C’s and D’s until I worked as hard on my essays as my classmates.  I didn’t value her judgment of me at the time, but I do now. I needed to develop the innate talent I had to be an effective writer.

As soon as November is over (I’m still in the throes of writing my NaNoNovel), I’m going to be sinking my teeth into The Transitive Vampire.  What a fun read this will be.  I also need to finish How Not to Finish a Novel, which is pretty fun so far with some terrible examples of now NOT to write a novel.

And one more diB Dalton book sticker from 1984version before I go.  How many of you are old enough to remember B. Dalton Books?  Because this book has the original BD sticker on it, including the price.  Talk abut walking back in time! I spent a lot of my paychecks in B. Dalton back in the day.  Did you?

I’d love to hear your writing book suggestions in the comments.  Or your memories of B. Dalton.  Or your fabulous book store finds.

Why Romance?


Candy Heart KeyboardI am asked sometimes, why romance?  Why do I write it, and why do I read it?  Isn’t it silly?  How many ways can we write about falling in love, anyway?  How many love stories can possibly be out there?

As a woman who has gone through more than one romance, I can say that there are a lot of love stories out there.  Not all of them are happily-ever-after, but that’s actually okay.  If you get to fall in love more than once in a lifetime, then you have lived, and loved, a lot.  And don’t we believe we are increased, bettered, by love?  I know I do.

So why NOT romance?  Writing the stories that touch people’s hearts makes me happy.  I like reading happy stories, stories that end in fairy tale romance, so why wouldn’t I like to write them?

As I work on my second book, and struggle through the saggy middle of it, I try to focus on that core love story.  That story is what will keep me (and the writing) going.  Boy meets girl, and falls in love.  Girl is not so sure about boy, as she’s been burned in the past.  But she gives him a chance, then pushes him away, because she is scared.  There is a bad guy, and some messy scenes of the bad guy getting the upper hand, but through it all, the love story runs as a current underneath it all.  In the end, girl can no longer deny that boy has her best interests at heart, and she willingly admits she loves him.  It all ends Happily Ever After.

Real life doesn’t always offer us that, of course.  I’m not living my Happily Ever After, but it’s not over yet, so who knows, right?  Hope springs eternal.  And the escape of a good romantic read can make all the difference in our attitudes and dreams.  If we think anything is possible, then things will always look rosy and promising.  And there’s really nothing wrong with that at all.

What do you like about reading (or writing if you are an author) romance?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

Buy at Amazon (Kindle and paperback)

Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook)

 

Fiction Reading That Influences Writing


Bench made of books in a public spaceI read a lot.  I read articles online, I get two magazines each month (Mother Earth News and MaryJane’s Farm), and I have a stack of books I want to read in my closet, on my nightstand, and on my bookshelf in my office.  I have books on writing, editing, communicating.  I have books full of interesting and obscure words, books of funny phrases and colloquialisms, books of physical descriptions, and more than one dictionary and more than one thesaurus.  I have books of general fiction, short stories, women’s fiction, and romance.  I have books I can’t categorize.

How many of the things I read influence my writing?  Probably all of it, to one degree or another.  My magazines are mostly about gardening and cooking, and those are practical skills that I use every day, especially this time of year.  But I am also letting some of that “country” into my current WIP.  The non-fiction books help me with crafting my novels – how to build characters, how to write effective opening scenes, how to craft my sentences for maximum effect.  I’ve been writing for more than 40 years, but I always have new things to learn, new techniques to try, new ways of saying old things.

But what about all that fiction?  I am by no means a voracious reader, but I do read fiction regularly.  I also have “no patience for bad books,” as I like to say sometimes.  If a book doesn’t catch me in the first 50 pages, I’m not likely to finish it.  It will go to the discard pile in a hurry.  Since I read a broad variety of fiction, I feel I’m always stretching my wings with fiction.  I used to read romance exclusively – historicals wen I was younger, and contemporaries as I passed 30.  I still read a lot of romance.  But I read other things as well.  And I think all of those things help me to see a bigger world.  And sometimes, I get ideas about something I want to write, from some element of a story I’ve read.

To be clear, I am not lifting scenes from fiction I’ve read and using them in my own work.  As a “spiral writer” who writes around a small seed of an idea, that would be impractical to say the least.  But a scene in a novel, or a description of a place or person, might spark an idea that I will take into a novel that I am working on.  And I think that is one of the biggest values, for me, of reading fiction.

In a perfect world, I’d spend half my day writing, and half my day reading.  But I live in the real world, a practical world.  There is the day J.O.B., the gardens in my own yard I need to maintain, the cooking and cleaning required of any wife and mother, the crafts I like to do – sewing, crochet, and whatever else I fancy at any given moment.  There is time to spend with family and friends, and events to attend in my small-town-big-city.  By necessity, my reading time is limited.  But I still do it, and I know it influences my writing.  And that’s just as it should be.

Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

Buy at Amazon (Kindle and paperback)

Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Georgia’s Husband’s Sister’s Financial Advisor’s Cousin-in-Law


Have you ever read, or started to read, a book that had a dozen characters in the first chapter alone?  By the time you get to the second chapter, the relationships between the dozen(s) of characters becomes about as clear as a muddy lake.  By the third chapter, you’ve given up and the book goes in the pile to go to the second-hand store.  There’s just no way to keep up with that character tree, and still have enough energy left to understand the story.

I think it’s important to put a limit on exactly how many characters will be involved, be extremely cautious with their names, and only keep in the characters that truly drive the story.  While all of the ancillary characters my bring “character” and color to a story, if you’ve confused the reader with the sheer volume of them, your reader is going to give up and move on to something that isn’t so much work.  We read fiction for fun and entertainment. Reading is an escape. Why make the escape complicated?

I would venture to add that keeping character names distinct is also important.  If there is a Susan, Sandra, Sarah, and Sally in the same story, I’m going to forget who is who.  Distinct names for characters is almost as important as keeping the total number of characters limited.  The more the reader has to go back and figure out who all these people are, the quicker you are going to lose them.

The last point I’d like to make is to choose names for your characters that are easily pronounceable.  If the reader has to stop each time the name is shown, in order to pronounce it in their heads, again, you are going to lose their interest.  Making up a fabulous name that only you, the author, knows how to pronounce is definitely creative, but not conducive to keeping a reader.  Use traditional or at least easily pronounceable phonetic standards for your names, and reconsider the name entirely if you find yourself typing it wrong when you are writing the story.  Clarity and speed of being able to read the text are more important than a fancy and “unique” character name.

There’s nothing wrong with a good old Virginia, Katherine, Shannon, or Amelia as a character name.  The same goes for Stephen, Kevin, David, Austin, or Thomas.  Think simple.  Put the complexity in the story, where it will be more easily appreciated.

What character names have you used in your writing?  Do they have special meaning?  Tell me about it in the comments!

 

Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

Buy at Amazon (Kindle and paperback)

Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook)

We Might Be Old


I’ve been writing since I was a young teen.  It’s hard to believe I’m about to hit my mid-50’s, and have just published my first book through a traditional publisher, The Wild Rose Press.  I have a ton of fellow authors that I follow or interact with through my publisher.  And one thing seems to stick out – we are all old.

Now, don’t get all offended.  When I was in my 20’s, I could never imagine myself in my 50’s.  I’m sure that’s true for a lot of us.  We never think we’re going to get old in the first place.  Anyone older than us is “old.”  Right now, I don’t like to think of myself as old, because there are people older than me.  Heck, one of the authors I interact with frequently is 84 years old.  She just published her first book!

Goes to show you it’s never too late, right?

National Novel Writing MonthAlmost fifteen years ago, I discovered National Novel Writing Month, a rather nifty way to approach writing a novel.  For the month of November, 30 days, you are supposed to begin and complete writing a 50,000 word novel.  Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?  It is, but it’s also an inspired way to write.  The deadline is set for you, there is plenty of support through forums, pep-talk emails, and group write-ins at local coffee shops.  That first year, I started late (9th of November) and still wrote a 96,000-word completed novel by November 30th.  I didn’t know I had it in me!  Since then, I’ve written every year for NaNoWriMo, and “won” every time.

The last two years, I’ve volunteered as a “Municipal Liaison” for the Boulder County, Colorado, region.  This means I send out pep talks to aspiring “Wrimos” as we call ourselves, and plan local writing events.  We have a kick off party and a wrap-up party, and a half-way-there party.  One thing I’ve noticed about the Wrimos – they are predominately young.  High school, college age, up until they get married and have kids, they are doing this Wrimo thing.  There are few over-50’s at our events, and just a smattering of over-40’s.  Maybe a few in their 30’s. Of course, I am proud of the young ‘uns for taking on the challenge.  Their enthusiasm makes up for a lack of life experience.  But I am surprised there are not that many writers at my age level in NaNoWriMo.  Yes, we all have different responsibilities, including maybe families to raise, full time jobs to maintain, and other social activities that have nothing to do with writing.  That balance in having enough time to write and still live the kind of life we need to live can be difficult, even impossible.

I feel like I wasted so much of my life before I really took writing seriously.  And I wonder if it is the same for other writers of my age bracket and older.  Were we waiting for our kids to be grown and gone (I still have one at home who is just now in middle school)?  Were we waiting until financial security had set in, so we could afford to take the time to write?  What kept us from writing when we were young?  I was writing, of course, but not really doing anything with that writing.  For whatever reason, I didn’t start taking the idea of working hard toward getting published until I was 50.  I do regret that I didn’t start sooner.

But then, being a mature writer means I have some experience to write with.  Yes, I’m writing about much younger women than myself.  But I also know that the most voracious readers of romance novels are over 40.  I still read romance novels.  Romance novels sell, and sell well.  I shouldn’t be surprised that the writers are “old” like me.

In fact, I’d have to say “we rock!”

Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

Buy at Amazon (Kindle and paperback)

Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook)

I Make No Apologies


blushing emoji faceA few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast interview with author Marlow Kelly. She and the podcast host talked about why we apologize, or feel we need to, for being “just a romance writer.”  Readers, too, often apologize for reading them.  A shrug of the shoulders, an embarrassed smile, a redness in the face.

But the fact is, the romance genre sells somewhere between $1.3 and $1.5 billion a year.  That’s billion with a “B.”  Romance novels comprise about 17% of the fiction market, bigger than any other genre.  It is about the same sales as all sci-fi and mystery sales combined.

Yeah.  We’re here.  We’re reading, and we’re writing.  Why should we feel embarrassed about that?  We make the publishing world go around.  We earn publishers a lot of money.  Arguments are made all the time about romance being “just for women” and “junk food.”  This may be more a matter of the marginalizing of women than anything else, but the truth is, romance novels are consumed regularly and voraciously by women all over the world.  And women buy and read more books than men.

Thus, the thriving market for them!

I used to apologize for my writing.  I could be found saying, “oh, it’s just a contemporary romance” when people would ask me what I was getting ready to publish.  It is not “just” anything.  My novel took as much work to write as literary fiction.  There was research to be done to create the right setting, create believable characters, and write a plot that (in my case) contained a bit of mystery and suspense along with a standard love story and a Happily Ever After ending.  Writing is not easy.  Writing a believable story is not easy.  Writing characters that a reader will care about is not an easy thing.  Editing is not an easy thing.  Getting a publisher to look at a manuscript is hard.  Getting published is even harder.

I didn’t publish “just” a romance novel.  I published a romance novel.  Let me repeat that in my big-girl voice:  I WROTE AND PUBLISHED A ROMANCE NOVEL.  My novel will be read by women in many walks of life, with many different life circumstances, and for a few hours, I will have given them a romantic escape with my characters.  I didn’t JUST write a contemporary romance novel.  I WROTE A NOVEL.

I am proud of that, and all of my sister-writers should be proud of themselves as well.  No apologies, no blushing, no “just” anything.  Read what you want proudly.  And write what you want, proudly.

Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Excerpt:

“Who said anything about a relationship?” he said, standing up so he could tower over her again. “I’m just trying to have a little fun. You know, fun?”

If he’d been an animal, she was sure he’d have had hair raised on the back of his neck, he seemed so angry, and it struck her painfully. She hadn’t wanted to anger him or hurt him. She turned away from him and closed her eyes to tamp down the tears she knew would come if she let them. She crossed her arms over her chest, to hold in the pain. Being tired made her much too vulnerable.

“Yes,” she finally said. “I know about fun. Life isn’t always fun, though.”

“Princess.” His voice was soft, tender. “I won’t hurt you. It’s not in my plan.”

Despite herself, she felt the shivers of desire race down from her shoulders, down her arms and legs, and back up to that secret, soft place at her core. She bowed her head and gritted her teeth, hoping for the feeling to go away.

“And what is your plan, Gage?”

“It’s a simple plan. I want you to feel good. I want to feel good, too.”

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

Buy at Amazon (Kindle and paperback)

Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook)