Whoo-whoo!

Whoo-whoo!
Bittersweet Gets Recommended Read!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Broken Heat Pumps, High-Stakes Testing, and Biting Dogs

Sometimes, life gets in the way of the best of plans. When my newest book released at the beginning of this month I thought, great! I’ll get a plan together to promote it, do some book giveaways, some guest blogging and all those other fun things.

Screech…. That would be the sound of the train derailing.

Somehow, my publisher didn’t get the word that the release date for my books was right in the final week of two simultaneous graduate level courses in which I had papers due…in each class…at the same time. Hey, that was okay. I got the papers turned in…just in time to have to push hot and heavy into prepping my high school students for their End of Course Writing exams. I’ve analyzed more reasons, evidence and counterarguments in the last month than I really want to see—at least until next semester when we’ll do it all over again.

So, while I was deep in the middle of reviewing parallelism and using specific vocabulary, I woke up one morning and thought, “Gee, it’s cold in here.” However, with a terrier curled against my back, I didn’t think too much about it, until I finally stumbled into the bathroom where I could hear the outdoor portion of the heat pump running madly, but couldn’t feel any air blowing out of the vent.
Not good.

The final distraction to promoting Broken Heart came from this cute guy whose picture you see here. Sweet face, soulful eyes. In fact, this is the little cutie who likes to curl up to my back at night. He is also the dog that my son takes great pleasure in teasing. This is not a good thing. Said cute, cuddly, worshipful Jack Russell Terrier is also a former abuse case. His previous owners saw fit to toss him out a car window, which is how we ended up with him. We quickly discovered he has real fear issues with men. It took him two years to warm up to my husband. He blows hot and cold with the teenager.
Which is why I usually find myself saying: “Get out of his face. He’s going to bite you.”  I don’t even stick my face in this dog’s face, and he thinks I walk on water, dance on the moon, and need to have him lying near my feet or sitting on my lap whenever I remain motionless for any length of time.

However, teenagers being the way they are. I don’t know what I’m talking about when I say: “Get out of his face. He’s going to bite  you.”

Which is why I spent Saturday evening wiping up blood, soaking a prized T-shirt in cold water, and examining my son’s upper lip to decide if it needed stitches or not. I refrained from being the first one to say: “I told you so.” My spouse took care of that.

My teenager’s gone to school with an ice pack this week.

All I finally said was: “I’m sorry this turned into such a painful lesson son, but I hope you’ve learned it this time.”

And he said: “I have. I don’t want to repeat it.”

Which just goes to show you, teenagers can learn something.


So, where does that leave me with promoting Broken Heart, which—if I do say so myself—is a darn good story? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of it. To be fair, I'll give away two copies. So I'm going to hold off and hold the drawing on November 9th.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How far would you go to help Family?

Broken Heart, book 4 in my series about the Barlow-Barrett family brings at least part of the family together. Stacey gets help from all of her brothers when she finally decides to stand up for what she wants. How families function, or don't, is a theme that runs through this series. Here they are, a family that could buy and sell most of us several times over, but few of them seem to have happy lives.

In book 2, Balancing Act, the hero and heroine are both people devoted to family. Seth has stepped up to run the family business, and Tessa will do whatever she has to in order to protect her younger brother, even if the price is her shot at love and happiness.

How far would you go to help family? Leave me a response and I'll enter you into next week's drawing for an e-book copy of Balancing Act. Remember, I'll be drawing each book in the series...10/20 will be Remember Me, and on 10/27, I'll draw two winners of the newest release, Broken Heart.

This week's winner of Bittersweet is Dawn. Congratulations!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Do You Need Money for Happiness?

When I was a kid, there were plenty of times that I thought,"Everything would be great if only we were rich." It was usually those moments when I wanted something I couldn't have, or I would have to save my money to get what I did want. As an adult, I can appreciate those lessons my parents taught me about learning to work hard for what I want in life. So thanks, Mom and Dad for making me save for six years to get that pony.
Over the years, I have met enough people with money to realize that having wealth isn't a free ticket to a life of infinite happiness. Just look at the news that hits the Internet every day, and anyone can see that. Sure, that person pulling in millions might not be wondering if there will be enough money to put gas in the car until the next paycheck, or if they have enough food in the freezer to cover what they can't buy fresh in groceries, but there are some problems that transcend a family's net worth.
The four books (so far) in the Barlow Barretts' series touch on some of those issues. Anna, in Bittersweet, struggled with the issue of never feeling as though she fit in. Seth, in Balancing Act, struggles with living up to his role as the eldest son--when  his heart's in a different place. In Remember Me, Brandon discovers how life in the limelight can turn ugly, and in this latest book, Stacey faces some of the biggest challenges of all. She's done her best to be the perfect Barlow-Barrett, but it's not enough. Even worse, she faces domestic violence in a marriage that's unraveling.

Broken Heart was a tough book to write, but as I started exploring exactly what kind of story Stacey might have to tell, it occurred to me that the way she'd led her life was simply too good to be true. Nobody had a life as perfect as hers seemed to be, unless they were a Barbie and Ken doll in one of my childhood games.Since I pretty much write by the seat of my pants, it surprised me what issues began to emerge in Stacey's life.
I have to thank my editor, Dianne, for making me go back and rewrite Jace, Stacey's husband. He's not a likable character, and there are people who will feel he doesn't get all that he deserves, but he has a story not unlike Stacey's. Like her, Jace's life has been all about keeping up appearances. It's his reaction when he can no longer do that that becomes the problem.
You know, I'd like everyone to have a chance to get in on this series from the beginning, so this week I'm offering readers a chance to get a copy of Bittersweet, book 1 in the series. All you have to do is leave a comment on whether you think having money makes life hard or easier. I'll draw a winner and announce it next Sunday when I'll do the same with book two, and so on. Pass the word.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Fresh Look at the Bard

In my "real" life, when I'm not writing, I teach high school English. That includes trying to help students unravel reading Shakespeare. I think I do a pretty decent job at helping them understand it. After going to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, I now see how much richer that experience could be if my students could actually see a play staged.

While I was at the Romance Writers of America Conference in Atlanta last week, I joined some friends at the Shakespeare Tavern just down the street from the conference hotel. What a great experience! We laughed our butts off. Anyone who knows me, also knows I have never been a fan of Shakespeare's comedies. I now understand that's because all I was doing was reading them.

While I thought everyone did a great job, I have to give kudos to the actors who played Bottom and Puck. When I've read this play in the past, I simply found these characters annoying, but seeing how the actors interpreted them on stage was fantastic.

If you're heading to Atlanta, the Shakespeare Tavern is definitely worth a visit! Oh yeah... the food's good too.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

All I can say is Wow!

At the risk of sounding like the wide-eyed newbie author...I am attending my first Romance Writers of America convention. After finishing my first full day here, I've had the chance to gawk at some of my favorite authors -- Kristan Higgins, Robyn Carr, and Jayne Anne Krentz. I listened to a really powerful and motivational speech by Cathy Maxwell at our keynote luncheon and left it really uplifted. It was great to find out that even authors I consider to be "Super-authors" have some of the same jitters I do. It's humbling to see so many men and women who've come here not only to hone their craft, but help others do the same. So a big thank you to all the people who are taking time out of their lives to help the rest of us figure out how to work our way through the world of a writing career. The sessions I've attended have already helped me get a better handle on who I am as a writer...and where I want to go. As Angela James said this morning in the spotlight on Carina Press "There is no one right way" to publish. What we should be looking for is the best way for us...and that means matching our strengths and weaknesses to find the right fit with a publisher. In the end, we all come away winners. I think Robyn Carr had the right idea too when she told writers in the contemporary chat audience that rather than planning a series arc too far in advance, writers should concentrate on making the book they're working on the best book it can be. And to my husband who wondered if we should really spend the money on this...oh yeah...definitely!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Remember Me -- How Can I Forget?

Over the years, I’ve been in car accidents, navigated through forests with a compass and a map, slept in houses built before Columbus sailed to America—I’ve even been airlifted off a mountain in Switzerland. I have plenty of life experience upon which to draw for writing. However, the heroine of Remember Me presented me with a brand new challenge. You see, Lucy is a stripper. Well…not only have I not done that (and be thankful for that because I would probably fall off the stage or tell the first guy who tried to tuck something in my G-string what he could do with his fingers before I ripped them from his knuckles)but I had never even been in a strip club when I began the Lucy and Brandon’s story. So…I turned to my friend the Internet. I researched laws regarding strip clubs for this particular geographic area, read as much as I could about salaries and pay. I watched videos on the Internet, including how-to videos for pole dancing—yes, they’re out there(yawn)—but I was still not quite comfortable with the results because I had not actually been to a strip club, and wasn’t sure I could accurately convey the atmosphere. That’s where my ever helpful research assistant, my husband, came in. While his checkered past did include personal experience with strip clubs (gasp!), he was more than willing to make the sacrifice by accompanying me to one because God knows, I wasn’t going anywhere near one alone. The experience was fascinating, and seeing the women actually performing gave me a whole new level of respect for the strength it takes to be truly good at the job. I also discovered that most of these women had other jobs outside of working at the club—quite a few working as fitness instructors of some sort. In the end, I also learned that my research had been pretty solid. I tweaked a couple of things in my story in order to paint a more vivid word picture, but overall I’d done okay. Most of the strippers I talked to would be the first to tell you that the amount of money Lucy makes is way more than they bring home, but that’s the best part about writing fiction—all things are possible.