Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's my birthday week!

I admit that while growing up my birthday, or that of any of my brothers, wasn't a special deal in my family. Because of that attitude I worry that perhaps I didn't give my children the attention their birthday deserved. I do know, however, they each appreciated the fact that the one aspect of their birthday that I observed is that their siblings had to take on their assigned  chores for the day :)

Yesterday, I and The Craftsman enjoyed a lovely day with our children and grandchildren, celebrating in advance my birthday. I love my children, and am immensely proud of the adults they have grown to be. I love the fact that, despite their differences, they are close and are willing to spend a valuable off day not only but to spend the day spending time with me.

This time last year I admit I saw little to celebrate my birthday. I had reached the end of the road, as far as I was concerned, in my writing career.  Now, I'm facing the approaching release of my first publication.!

Today I had to do the final edits of my manuscript...when I read over the acknowledgements and got to the part where I mention my children I had tears in my eyes. 

I hope they'll be pleased with the book - and with the words that don't even come close to thanking them for their love and support.

I know, no matter what, that I love them, and their father, beyond words.

Maybe it's not so hard to face a birthday after all!

Friday, July 4, 2014


Yes I'm celebrating the 4th of July.  As a devoted, patriotic American I love this holiday!  I feel so honored and proud of the fact that I live in the United States. 
Today however, I really celebrate the release of my critique partner's debut novel this past Monday!
Christine and I met and became critique partner under circumstances that can only be explained as fate.  I know you're going to love her -- and this book.  It might be her first but I can promise it will not be her last.
Hi Pam!
Thanks so much for hosting me on what I know is one of your favorite days to celebrate: INDEPENDENCE DAY! I’m so happy to share the day with you and talk about my writing process. 
1) Who or what has had the biggest influence on your writing?
I have to say that the romance authors who have entertained me throughout the years with their books gave me the desire to write my own romance stories. And then when I finally got brave enough to write my first book and get in involved with the Romance Writers of America, I learned that these incredible authors are also mentors, teachers, coaches, and examples of how to grow as writer and become published one day. The generosity of those who have gone before me is incredible.
2) What aspect of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
Next to developing characters and the ideas about the story, I’d say revising is my favorite part about writing. I don’t write a great first draft (or second or third or fourth...). That’s the way I get to know the characters and the story elements better. Then when I dig into the revisions, I find ways to layer in the subtleties and stuff like clothes, setting, senses, etc. It’s fun playing with the story and finding ways to make it stronger and better even when the answers aren’t always easy to dig out.
3) What has been your biggest surprise since you sold? 
The doubt and fear that I had to push down before I sold still exist. I’m still the same person who worries that she’ll let down the editor, the readers, myself. If anything, I think it’s worse now than before I sold. So that battle continues daily. The other huge surprise has been the awesome support I’ve had from the most incredible people behind the scenes at Entangled Publishing. Everyone from the publisher to the authors to the editorial and support staff has been gracious and kind to me as I embark on this new journey as a newbie author.
4) Generally, which comes first – character or plot?
I’m all about the characters first. Then I like to loosely plot the emotional turning points of the story. I think that the emotional highs and lows are truly the essence of the romance story/plot.
5) What are 3 pieces of advice you would give new/aspiring writers? 
A. Remember that this is YOUR journey and don’t feel like you have to rush to get to the finish line. There is NO finish line. There are just new paths to travel. Enjoy the journey, and make friends with people you can trust now and in the future. 
B. Learn your craft. Study, write lots of words, go to conferences, and absorb all the knowledge you can absorb.
 C. Have fun! Don’t lose sight of why you started writing before and after you get published. This writing gig is a gift, precious and wonderful, so enjoy yourself and celebrate every milestone big or small. They all count!!
Now y’all know I LOVE to celebrate—heck I celebrate writing every day with a nice glass of wine on the veranda. Today one lucky commenter will receive a free copy of my debut novel THE MAVERICK’S RED HOT REUNION.
Now let’s get the hot dogs and burgers on the grill, watch the fireworks, and celebrate the Fourth of July!!!
Here’s a little info about The Maverick’s Red Hot Reunion
Can he satisfy his craving without losing his heart?
Corporate Maverick Zach Tanner returns to North Carolina to rebuild his dying friend's resort. He's got the money, the power, and the will to transform Sweetbriar Springs into a premier spa for the glamorous, but he doesn't count on the woman he once loved…and lost…to handle the construction contract. Zach thought he'd buried his desire for Kennedy five years ago. He was wrong, and now he’s determined to satisfy his craving...
Construction company owner Kennedy Gibson is eager to restore Sweetbriar Springs, but when she realizes Zach is her new boss she's terrified he'll learn the truth about their breakup so long ago. She vowed never to hurt him again, but she can't deny the passion he reignites in her. She wants to believe she has a chance for a different future with him, but will her secret threaten to destroy their red-hot reunion?
Buy Links:
Christine’s Bio:
Born in the Netherlands, Christine moved to Canada where she spent her formative years. Then she married her Texan Alpha Physicist, moved to the United States and she has lived both south and north of the Mason Dixon line. Now Christine resides in Alabama with her husband, two insane cats and her wonderful daughter. She enjoys finding the silly in the serious, making wine out of sour grapes, and giving people giggle fits along with heartfelt hugs. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world, cooking gourmet food, and desperately seeking a corkscrew.
Christine loves to meet new people.                  
Facebook Page:
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

While visiting family last weekend my sister in law, an English teacher, mentioned she didn't know if she could abide the isolation necessary to be a writer. You know, all those hours shut up by yourself in order to find the words to convey the thoughts and feelings that are pushing at the edges of your heart and brain. I agreed with her that writing can be very isolating. On the other hand, with the internet now there are countless ways to connect with not only other writers but readers as well. It could be argued that the internet in fact is more of a deterent - c'mon, we all know how easy it is to become distracted while playing around with social media.

Many authors are planning to attend the National RWA Conference in San Antonio, TX from July 23-26. Many of them, if you asked, would claim to be introverts and enjoy the privacy of sitting in their office creating worlds, expanding plot devices and introducing readers to intriguing characters. If you were to stand off in a corner of the lobby, or lobby bar, during that conference, you'd be tempted to believe all those claims were just so much fiction.

I'm not fortunate enough to attend this years conference but I have in the past. There will be much laughter, many, many hugs and smiles as authors greet friends, many of whom they only see this one time a year. Readers will smile with delight at meeting so many of the authors who have given them countless moments of book pleasure. Everyone will be hurrying from one event, workshop or appointment to another, trying to cram as much information into the day as they can.

When I attended my first National Conference, I pleaded with my friends to not abandon me, that I was shy and couldn't visualize myself on my own. They now tease me unmericifully that I was so very wrong in my assumption. I am thrilled to say I met some wonderful people at those conferences. It's not just about making connections from a professional standpoint. It's about connecting on every level, it's about giving and receiving encouragement, celebrating accomplishments and commiserating disappointments.

I'll take all of that - even if from a distance!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lessons from a weekend

As I mentioned I attended my first ever Reader's Luncheon this past weekend.

It was preceded by a day and a half visiting my critique partner, Christine Glover. As always, Christine's warmth, friendship and boundless energy have fueled me to plunge back into the new manuscript I've started. Her generosity also extended to an advanced birthday gift in the form of her college kid designing the graphics for my newsletter. The CK did an amazing job!  I can't wait to have some news - like the reveal of my cover! - and let you all see how sleek and polished it looks. Provided, I took good enough notes and can remember how to utilize all the neat little tabs and inserts that the CK showed me. She has promised to include a link on this page so if you're interested you can sign up for my newsletter -- after she returns from visiting Mickey Mouse!

The CK also started on a new banner for the street team that Christine and I have joined forces on. Christine is more social media savvy than I so she has graciously included me in this venture. It should be a positive force for both of us.

The Reader's Luncheon was lovely. The ladies of the Heart of Dixie chapter of RWA were warm and welcoming. I had the pleasure of sitting at the table of authors Carla Swafford and Susan Carlisle, who treated us with multiple goodies! I met readers and authors alike, made some new friends, connected with old ones. I listened, learned and was entertained by Eloise James' insightful, empowering and humorous speech. I had a lovely dinner with author Kelsey Browning and so enjoyed the opportunity to get to know her better...she is a wealth of information and support.

I came home tired but had a lovely day with family to celebrate Dad's, including my wonderful husband The Craftsman, who indeed is a fabulous father.

Now, it's Monday and back to the reality of juggling this writing journey with a day job.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nerves and anticipation

This time next week I'll be packing to go to Alabama. Not only will I get to spend some time with my critique partner, Christine Glover, but I'll be attending my first Reader's Luncheon. Sponsored by the Heart of Dixie Chapter of RWA, their keynote speaker this year is Eloise James. Registration is still open so if you considered attending but were afraid it was too late, you still have time. Here's the link if you're interested:

This will also be my first appearance at a reading/writing event where I'll be attending as a Published Author. I'm excited but also a little nervous. I've scoured my closet looking for the best outfit and comfortable but stylish shoes. I've got business cards, Post-It notepads and pens with my name and logo in addition to other giveaways. Christine and I also have assembled a Debut Author Basket that will be one of approximately 38 raffle baskets. I look forward to meeting all the readers, reacquainting with some authors and meeting others.

Hope I see you there

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Time is on my side.

Last week while my critique partner, Christine Glover, was here we discussed our current work in progress, critiquing and brainstorming as needed. We also spent time shopping for items to include in our Debut Author Raffle Basket that we're assembling for the Heart of Dixie Reader's Luncheon in June. We did some other social media activities and rounded out the days by attending an intensive one day workshop given by Margie Lawson.

We talked about future activities we'd like to attend. We went over prospective dates for more writing-get-togethers, we discussed strategies about social media and other business related matters. I even managed to squeeze in a doctors appointment. Throughout all of our talks, we both mentioned how life had gotten more complicated and crowded.

After Christine left on Sunday I wanted to take the time to regroup, maybe take a nap. However, everything that I'd let slide during her visit had to be handled. Laundry needed to be washed, clothes ironed. Yard work needed attention. Shopping had to be done so there were groceries for this week. I have a quilt to finish. Another on the way. And,  not just because he'd cooked for us the past four days, I wanted to spend time with The Craftsman. No, I do not loan him out.

Then it was time to venture back into the real world via the Day Job, where everything that had piled up while I was away had to be handled. I want to get a hair cut. I need to scrub bathrooms and vacuum floors.

Did I mention that I've received my first revisions letter?

The hours have become more precious.

For the most part the revisions are minor, with only a couple of difficult decisions to be made. My editor has invited me to call or email her with any questions or simply to discuss options. That is such a wonderful source of support. That doesn't mean, however, that I take this task lightly. It does mean that some tasks will be delayed, some social events missed.

I just have to find the best way to balance all the time.

How do you manage everything that life throws at us?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Family Blessings?

This past Sunday the family gathered at our house for the annual Easter fest. There was laughter, way too much food, more than a few adult beverages consumed and the fierce competition of our annual tournaments. People, there were trophies at stake :)

This was our fifth year for the The Craftsman and I to host the Easter family gathering. In preparation, on Saturday, we ran errands in the cold damp weather and then, again in the cold damp weather, tried to ready to outside for the projected sunny, warmer temperatures. Let me say that whatever we did to prepare was relatively minor when compared to the number of people who were coming....including children the count totaled 24. In the family into which I married, everyone contributes, thus the way too much food.

We laughed, often at each other. The longer we talk, the louder we get. There were some serious discussions, some quiet moments and yes even a few disagreements. We pry into one another's personal business with unrepentant audacity. We are, after all, a family of individuals, all raised to be strong and independent.

I'll be the first to admit there are times, for various reasons and an assortment of those strong individuals annoy or distress me. As I'm sure I do to and for them. In the end, however, I'm so blessed and grateful with the sure knowledge that at any time, for any reason, if I need one of them they will do everything within their power to help.

And that, in this every-changing world, is a blessing beyond words.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Coming Full Circle

I attended my first writing conference more years ago than I care to count. But so much has come from that day.

I attended because, shortly after we'd moved to Florida, the Florida Romance Writers caravaaned to various bookstores throughout the state. They came to the bookstore closest to where we lived. At the time I was finishing up the first book I wrote so naturally I was curious about meeting 'real' authors. They were all lovely, gracious and friendly. They signed my purchases, gave me bookmarks and other assorted promotion items. There were flyers about the Fun In The Sun conference to be held in February. I took home all the paper, put it on my desk and frankly gave little thought to most of it.
Until the day I went out to the mailbox and discovered confirmation of my conference registration.
That evening The Craftsman, who traveled in his job at the time, made his daily call. "What's new?" he asked. "Well," I answered, and went on to explain about my confusion over the unexpected registration. A moment of silence sat between us before he said. "I signed you up. It's my Valentine's Day gift for you."

Needless to say I was stunned. Pleased. Panicked.

I was actually going to have to go out in public and confess my secret of trying to write a book? Yet, how could I not after The Craftsman made such a wonderfully supportive gesture?

So, I went. Having no idea of what to expect, fearing I'd sit there all day with no one to talk to, looking like the lone wart on a frog.

Instead I walked into the large banquet room, sat at a random place. And the lovely blonde sitting in front of me turned around and introduced herself.

I made a friend for life.

As a result of that day, Pat Van Wie became my first critique partner. She became, and remains to this day, one of my most ardent supporters. She's an excellent wordsmith and taught me much about pacing among other things. She moved, I moved, but we always kept in touch. There were times when months would go by and we'd not hear from one another, then for whatever reason one of us would reach out and we'd pick right up as if we'd just spoken days earlier. She became a published author long before me, first with Harlequin Superromance, then Bantam Loveswept and then Bantam published her mainstream suspense books.

Now she's an editor for BelleBooks.

This week I learned she is now my editor.

So, while now the critiquing will be somewhat one-sided, I eagerly look forward to once again having Pat read, review, and strengthen my writing.

Friday, March 28, 2014

As I've mentioned The Craftsman and I have finally made progress on a long-awaited DIY project.  Last weekend I painted the room. Until we moved into this house, I had never done any of the painting in any of our houses. At a very young age, while working on a service project, I experience the horror, not to mention the resulting splatter of paint, when I let the paint roller continue to spin after I moved away from the wall. :)

However, in the last dozen or so years, between our house and helping out assorted family members, I've made up for lost time.

My favorite part of painting is the 'cutting in'. You know, the outside edges of windows and doors, along the ceiling and floor. It's the detail work and I see it as a challenge to get that line as straight as possible. And avoid getting it onto the ceiling or baseboard.

Anyway, this past Sunday I was on the last wall of the half bath when The Craftsman poked his head inside. "You know you're going to need another coat, right?"

I sighed. One of the reasons he's The Craftsman is due to his attention to perfection. But, yes, in this case I agreed with him and set about adding on the second coat.

At some point during the application of that second coat, I thought about how painting has much in common with writing and especially revising.

By time I was done applying that second coat, the room looked much better. Never have I revised a manuscript and not believed it was better for having taken that second pass and layering more detail. It was a richer, smoother read. Of course every time I hand over a manuscript to my critique partner there is a small part of me that thinks "Okay, this time I've got it right." Only, you guessed it, for her to point out the parts of the manuscript that needs a second coat, thin areas where the characters and/or the plot isn't as defined as it should be. Or where the plot should be cut a little closer. Sometime adding that second coat can be difficult because it's harder to see where you've already layered on, perhaps added too much, or where you still need to apply more. It helps to have that second eye looking at it, seeing the imperfections, telling you which spots you overlooked or missed.

For the most part, however, the manuscript - as this particular room did - is a more beautiful project for having taken the time and effort to make it shine.

Sometimes it takes a broad stroke, sometimes a dab here and there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Like most everyone else in the country, I am so ready to be done with winter and am looking forward to spring. Especially after a Saturday such as we just had. On this Saturday, during a family gathering, the weather was perfect enough for us to sit outside on the deck, enjoying company, celebrating milestones and warm weather along with laughter and good conversation.

Sunday, however, brought cooler temperatures and rain. I'll be honest, on Sunday I was glad for the excuse to stay inside. The Craftsman and I worked on a home improvement project that I came up with back in October.  Up until this point we've either had other obligations or, for two weekends, the weather was nice enough to concentrate on outside tasks.

I'm so blessed with a wonderful house and, rare in this area, a bit of land. That means yard work. A lot of yard work.

That means balancing life, with all of its obligations and indulgences, with the writing life.

This is an exciting time for me. After all the years of work and angst over whether or not to continue on this path, I'm approaching the release date for my first book. But with that excitement comes obligation and committment. There's the edits for this first book, another book to plan and write, exercise, social media postings and promotional tasks. A quilt to complete. Throw in all the domestic chores that go hand in hand with maintaining a home and the hours fill up quickly.

How do you manage to handle obligations with relaxation?

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's almost been a year since I began this blog site and I admit I've been slack about posting the way I hoped to do.  Well, maybe not. The Craftsman will tell you he isn't much of a talker, and then add that he doesn't have to do so because I talk enough for both of us. Some days I actually let him get away with that nonsense.

If asked, I would describe myself as basically shy. If I'm around people that I'm comfortable with I can hold my own in conversations although I still tend to stand along the perimeter and observe rather than jump in and call attention to myself. Which is why this social media/promotional area is one of my weaker links.

Maybe the roots are in my childhood. Raised n the south, as an Army brat, I was constantly warned against making a pest of myself. I can recall going to a friend's house and as she announced that she was going into the kitchen to get a drink and did I want one, all I could think of was to tell her no. It never occurred to me to say yes, I would love something to drink. I didn't want to be a nuisance.

I'm approaching the publication of my first book -- in July of this year!

While it is something I dreamt of, hoped for, worked toward, now that it is approaching I'm nervous.
I want to be an adult, a professional, and handle the promotion as such. In today's world, I understand the publishing industry requires me to have a hand, at times a solo hand, in promoting my own book.  

Yes, I love this book. I'm thrilled and beyond proud that someone else thought it was good enough to publish. Of course I want people to buy it. I hope they will enjoy it. I'm terrified they will not. I want them to buy any other books I may be fortunate enough to publish. But I'm also scared to stand up, call attention to myself and say yes, please, please, please buy my book.

I've studied how some of the authors that I admire to see how they handle promotion. I've collected pens, note pads, magnets and bookmarks. If you ever go to a conference, there is an abundance of items. Some of these have enticed me to buy a book or read a new author. Other times, well, to be honest I just wanted the item because I thought it would be useful.

I'm more than happy to promote my fellow authors, either by way of Twitter, Facebook, word of mouth or attending book signings. Will I ask them to do the same for me? I know I should. What's more I know if I ask they will do so gladly and without reservation. Still, it's going to be hard for me to take that step.

What kind of promotional items appeal to you?

Oh...and please, please, pretty please buy my book when it come out :)