Category Archives: Life challenges

The Declutter Challenge…

Recently on Facebook, I saw a post that was shared hundreds of times called THE DECLUTTER CHALLENGE,  a 30-day challenge to get rid of clutter and stuff in your life. A random sampling of the days’ tasks includes: purging 2 kitchen cabinets (day 7); cleaning out your wallet (day 9) and your purse ( day 10); cleaning out the freezer ( day 18); donating unused toys ( day 25). The challenge ends on day thirty with the simple task of CLEAN. I guess what you clean is up to you, but I took it to mean, clean your house.

This challenge, naturally, got me to thinking about how I could declutter my writing.  All writers have catch words or phrases they like to use, especially when writing dialogue. If we actually wrote how we spoke, the readers would be bored out of their gourds. For instance, would you seriously want to spend money on a book where every dialogue started like this:

#1. Hey, Bill. How are you?

#2. Fine, Jim. How are you?

#3. Can’t complain. How’s the family?

#4. Doing well. Yours?

#5. Same, same. So how, about those Red Sox?…

you get the idea. This is drivel. We may speak like this in real life, but in fiction, it’s a death knoll.

So that’s one way to declutter your work: check the dialogue. Can you get the idea across without all the folderol of “hi, how you doing’s?”

Another way I know I personally clutter up my writing is by using too many extraneous words to convey my thoughts. A quick search of my current work in progress yielded this:

the use of THAT – 89 times

the use of To her/to him/ for her/for him -56 times

the use of adverbs ( the bane of my writing existence) 91 times. EEK!

I really need to work on decluttering these words, don’t I! Hee hee

Other things that writers should declutter are phrases like “seemed to,” “tried to,” “began to.” Writing is much stronger and moves quicker when sentences are declarations and use an active tense.

For example: Her natural, spicy scent seemed to surround her body.

Better example: Her natural, spicy scent of ginger and peach, surrounded her.

Other words that can probably be eliminated a fair amount of time and still allow the sentence to convey what it needs to are:

move, push, reach, bring, pull, went, brought, press and came( to denote going  or coming from somewhere)

It’s a good practice to utilize the SEARCH for options in your word processing program to nit pick and eliminate words you use excessively after your first draft is written. This will make the editing process more about the story line and capturing what you intended to say instead of needing to remove excess words.

Oh, about that 30-day Declutter challenge. yeah, I survived for three days. Then I was exhausted. Maybe I should develop a 12 month declutter challenge. You know…do one thing a month instead of 30 in 30 days? Thoughts? LOL

When I’m not decluttering my life and my writing, you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Life challenges, Pet Peeves, Strong Women, Uncategorized

A visit to CRW…

Yesterday, I visited the Contemporary Romance Writers blog and gave a few tips about conference going.  Here’s the link: 

If you can’t access the link, here’s the article in its entirety

Memories from a first time RWA conference attendee. . .

(and what I learned to do- and not do – for the next conference.)

~ By Peggy Jaeger

In 2014 I attended my very first RWA conference in San Antonio. Not knowing what to expect from the conference, I’d gone with the idea that, as a trying-to-get-published romance writer, I was going to go all in, attend every workshop on craft and publishing, listen to every professional chat, set up as many editor and agent appointments as I was allowed, and basically do everything and see everything offered.

What’s that old saying: you make plans and God laughs? Yeah. Describes me perfectly.

The reality was so very different from what I’d planned, that it was almost comical.

First of all, there was no way I could attend every single workshop I wanted because so many of them overlapped or were at the same time as the others. I hadn’t realized I could see the full schedule on line before going, so I’d just assumed I’d be able to see what I wanted. Nope. Lesson learned? Plan ahead. Read through the online listing (now that you know it’s there!) and consider each class/workshop/chat for what it will bring to you as a writer. The conference is available on audio you can purchase, so if you miss classes, you can still hear their useful info when you get home.

I signed up for the Agent/Editor appointments. You were allowed one of each, so I scrolled through their names, saw a few big time agent names I recognized, then the publishers I knew about and made my choices. Again, God must have been chuckling big-time at my choices. Why? Because I hadn’t done any research on the people I was going to speak with. The Agent specialized in historical romance and YA. I write contemporary adult romance. The editor was from a house that was acquiring only through agents. Double flub on my part. Lesson learned? Research. Every single one of those agents and editors had a link to their websites, agencies, and publishing houses. If I’d done my due diligence and clicked on the one I wanted to meet with, I would have known before choosing them that they weren’t going to be interested in me or my work. Along with that, do not bring twenty typed copies of your manuscript to give to potential agents/editors. They don’t want to be schlepping a ton of unnecessary stuff home with them. This is the age of email and attachments.

Since this was my first RWA I had no idea all the “stuff” (and by stuff I mean swag and books) you receive at the conference. Every publishing house gives out complimentary books during their spotlight events; every breakfast, lunch and dinner has a guest speaker who also leave a book or two on every chair; the Goodie room is chock full of swag, free books, and just…stuff. I brought one suitcase with me that was already stuffed with my own stuff. Now I had over 6o free books and no room. Shipping them would have cost about $100.00. Lesson learned? Bring an extra bag/suitcase. You will be happy you did.

Again, since this was my first conference, I wanted to promote myself as a professional, so I brought nice clothes and outfits and shoes to go with them. Because I’m short all my shoes are 4 inches or above. If anyone has ever spent 12 hours in five inch heels you know the kind of agony I was in each and every night. Lesson learned? Dress appropriately, but comfortably. Kitten heels would have been fine! You want to make a good impression, especially on agents and editors, but you don’t need to look like you just stepped out of the pages of Vogue, or like you just crawled out of bed after a binge-drinking night at the hotel bar.

Realize you are going to see and possibly meet some of your all time favorite authors. It’s okay to fan-girl. It’s not okay to stalk. I stalked Nora Roberts at my first conference. The moment I saw her across the hotel lobby I simply lost my mind. She was on her way out of the building for a cigarette break. I am ashamed to admit this, but I followed her. It was like I was in some kind of trace. I knew what I was doing was illegal in 50 states, but I had no will to stop myself. When she stopped outside and lit up, I stood in the vestibule behind the glass doors just…watching her smoke. After a minute I realized what I was doing and snapped out of. Then I spotted Jill Shalvis on the escalator going down while I was going up. I jumped off and headed back down and followed her into the hotel coffee shop. Again… I was in a trance, I swear! Lesson learned? Be prepared to meet your writing idols but don’t do anything you could get arrested for!! When I spotted three twenty-somethings at the Literacy signing squeal like pigs when they met Jayne Ann Krentz, it drilled that lesson home.

One of the best things I did at the first conference was attend the RWA First Timer’s presentation. It was filled with helpful hints about how to get the most out of the conference without feeling overwhelmed, or as if you missed something. I highly recommend setting aside the two hours of the class and fitting it into your schedule.

This year the conference is in Orlando/Disney. In July. Florida in July is not a time frame for curly haired gals like me, so this year will bring its own set of problems and concerns! But I’m still going because I don’t want to miss the exciting, informative, and fun events and classes being offered. I’ll just need to pack an extra canister of hairspray.

Or maybe more than just one extra.

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader’s Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and is a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Website/Blog || Twitter || Amazon Author Page || Facebook || Pinterest || Goodreads  || Instagram

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, research, Romance, Romance Books, RWA

A little something new…Guest Hostess Karen C. Whalen

Today, something a little different. I’m turning my blog over to one of my Wild Rose Press sistahs, Karen C. Whalen, for the day. Karen has new book out in her culinary cozy mystery series, the dinner club murder mysteries, titled  NOT ACCORDING TO FLAN. As a writer, Karen is going to talk to you today about that wonderful thing every writer needs to establish in their stories and between their characters: CONFLICT.

She’s also giving you a litte sumthin’ sumthin from her book, so stayed tuned to the end!

Please welcome, Karen C. Whalen.

Conflict has been called the most important element in fiction, an essential crafting tool every writer must master. Novels demand conflict and tension to compel readers to keep turning the pages.

Adding conflict was the subject of a writing exercise in a workshop I attended a few years ago. The first step was to jump to the middle of our WIP (work in progress). My middle was at page one-hundred. Then, we were instructed to add conflict on that very page by having the characters argue. They were not to have a nice, gentlemanly disagreement, no. The characters had to insult each other and call one another names. The instructor required a knock-down fight of the blow-out variety, not a puny squabble. When I started the assignment I wondered how in the world my main characters could argue. They were friends in a cozy gourmet dinner club in a cozy murder mystery. How was I going to toss in the kind of verbal exchange that would endure to a final draft?

I started reading the scene on page one hundred. Even before I finished the page, an argument popped into my corrupt and depraved mind. I let it all hang out, the taunting and the mud-slinging, all of it. The scene was much improved. The conflict added depth to the dialogue, enhanced the theme of the book, and brought the characters to life. Even I wanted to read to the end to see how the characters resolved their issues.

Why? Because in real life friends do not talk to each other that way. Friends don’t insult each other; they don’t call each other names. Friendships, in reality, are fragile. But friends think those angry thoughts, they just don’t say them out loud. Not if they want to stay friends. Admit it, you’ve played such an argument out on the pages of your imagination many times. The reader’s fantasy is fulfilled in the conflict on the written page.

Not only do readers crave the conflict, they need a satisfactory resolution as well. End results are impossible to control in real life, but the creator of the characters can control the outcome. At the end of my new and improved scene, the first character apologized to the second character who said, “No, I totally see your point of view.” Not every clash of character is going to resolve this way, nor would we want it to. At least not every time. But, hey, wouldn’t our lives be wonderful if we could resolve our arguments so happily?

That’s not reality. That’s why it’s called fiction.

Like everybody else I had a best friend growing up. We were best buds from grade school to high school to college. We swore we’d always be best friends. And you can guess what happened. She said I said something that hurt her feelings. I don’t even remember saying what she said I said. As I said, friendships are fragile. And how I would like to rewrite that dialogue!

And I can.

I can create my own comfy world in my own cozy murder mysteries. My characters are friends, good friends. When they argue, they kiss and make up (usually) and the reader keeps turning those pages to make sure.

In the last part of the writing exercise, we were instructed to examine every page of our WIP, every single page, not just every scene, and add conflict to each page, to create a page-turner, can’t-put-it-down novel.

When I heard that, I wanted to punch out that instructor. Not really, because he was so right. And besides, I live in reality where people restrain themselves most of the time. But in fiction, there are endless opportunities for confrontation and clash…and conflict.

Blurb: NOT ACCORDING TO FLAN

Jane Marsh wants to shake off the empty nest syndrome, plus the notoriety of the death of her first and second husbands, by starting over in a new place. She sells her family home to move to a far northern suburb of Denver. At the same time, Jane’s dinner club is undergoing a transformation, and a new man—a gourmet chef—enters her life. But, things turn sour when, on the day Jane moves into her new home, she discovers a dead body. She cannot feel at home in this town where she’s surrounded by cowboys, horse pastures, and suspects. Not to mention where a murder was committed practically on her doorstep. How can she focus on romance and dinner clubs when one of her new friends—or maybe even her old ones—might be a murderer?

Excerpt :

Slam! Chink. The brown packing box fell off the dolly with the tinkling sound of glass on glass. Jane sighed as the mover stacked the box labeled “kitchen” back on the dolly and thumped down the basement stairs with it.

Never mind. She’d sort it out later. She slipped outside into the warmth of the early September, blue-sky, Colorado day to check on her puppies sniffing around their new territory in the backyard. Leaning over the deck railing facing the lot to the east, she gazed into the bottom of an open excavation where a basement was being poured. Someone had parked a tractor down in the dirt, and near it a white cowboy hat lay on the ground. A man’s hand stretched toward the hat’s brim. Had someone fallen into the pit?

Jane bounded down the deck stairs and out the wooden gate, only stopping for a moment to secure the latch. She rounded the corner of her new house and rushed to the adjoining lot, pausing near the edge of the concrete that formed the basement’s foundation.

A man was shoved against the corner of the foundation wall. His torso and legs were partly covered with dirt. The cowboy hat concealed the top of his head. His left hand almost touched the brim, as if he were about to take off his hat and say “Howdy do.” A large manila envelope lay a foot or so away from his other outstretched hand.

On the envelope tall, block letters spelled out: “Jane Marsh—welcome to your new home.”

Jane’s hands flew to her throat. “Ethan,” she breathed.

Her eyes took in the three cement walls rising out of the dirt floor and at the rear, a crumbling slope of dirt spilling into the pit. Starting toward the back slope, she hesitated. The soil might not be stable. She lifted two planks, plunked the long ends of the boards into the pit, and climbed down.

The smell of turned earth filled her nose as she skirted the tractor, a small, front-end loader. Falling to her knees, she lifted the cowboy hat, then dropped it. She felt the man’s wrist for a pulse. It wasn’t there. Then her hand moved toward the envelope with her name on it, but she drew back.

After yanking a cell phone out of the back pocket of her worn jeans, she punched in 9-1-1. “A man fell into a construction pit… I’m pretty sure he’s dead…no, he’s beyond help.” The dispatcher asked for the address, and she gave it to him in a shaky voice. “Yes, I’ll stay on the line.” The makeshift bridge was harder to get back up than it was to get down. After making it to the top, she crossed the lot and rushed through her front door.

“Caleb!”

“Yeah? Whatzup, Mom?” Her grown son appeared from the kitchen. He was almost a foot taller than she, but with the same slim build and a cap of the same rich brown hair.

“Ethan Valrod. The construction manager for the builder. He fell into the basement pit next door. He’s dead.” Breathless, she took a deeper breath to stop her ears buzzing and her heart pounding.

“What the?” Caleb’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.

“Ethan Valrod’s dead. I’ve called 9-1-1 already and they told me to stay on the line.” Jane lifted the phone to her ear, but the operator was silent. Legs shaking, she led the way, and Caleb followed her out the door.

Her son stationed himself on top of the foundation, hands clenched to his sides, while taking in the sight below. She plucked at his sleeve. “Are you going down to look?”

He nodded his head and descended the plank. In only a few moments he was back, dragging her by the elbow over to the concrete curb where they sat together facing the street.

After hearing a voice spluttering from the phone, Jane spoke into it. “I’m all right. I’ve got my son here with me now. We’ll wait together.” She hit the mute button and shifted the phone from her right hand to her left.

Caleb slid a folded piece of paper out of his tight jean pocket and handed it to her. “I forgot to give you this.”

In a tremulous voice, she read out loud, “Mrs. Marsh, I stopped by to give you a welcome packet with the keys. I’ll come back later.” Ethan Valrod’s signature was scrawled across the bottom. She gazed into the distance for a moment.

Caleb lifted his hands, palms up. “It was on the counter when I got here. The movers set a box on top of the note, and I didn’t want it to get lost, so I put it in my pocket.”

“Okay, thanks.” Swallowing hard, she darted a quick glance over her shoulder, but no one else was around. “It looked like someone used the tractor to cover the body with dirt.”

“I noticed. And there were marks on the ground, like someone rolled his body into the corner first.”

“Did you see the blood on the tractor bucket?”

“Yeah.” Caleb gave his mother a pop-eyed stare and she returned the look.

Her ears seemed sharper than usual. The dogs barked from the other side of the fence. A plane’s engine droned from overhead. Police sirens approached from the next block.

Buy links:

Book 1: Everything Bundt the Truth

Wild Rose Press // Amazon // B&N 

Book 2: Not According to Flan

Wild Rose Press // Amazon // B&N

A little about Karen:

Karen C. Whalen is the author of a culinary cozy series, the “dinner club murder mysteries.” The first three in the series are: Everything Bundt the Truth, Not According to Flan, and No Grater Evil. Her books are similar to those written by cozy authors Jessica Beck and Joanne Fluke. She worked for many years as a paralegal at a law firm in Denver, Colorado and has been a columnist and regular contributor to The National Paralegal Reporter magazine. She believes that it’s never too late to try something new. She loves to host dinner clubs, entertain friends, ride bicycles, hike in the mountains, and read cozy murder mysteries.

You can connect with Karen here:

Facebook // Website // Twitter // Goodreads // Amazon

 

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Filed under Author, Cooking, female friends, Food lover, Foodie, Friends, Life challenges, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Labels and Titles and Slang….

We’ve become a society of label-ers. You know what I mean: everything, every person, every action, has to be categorized and labeled. For instance, who ever heard the term “Dad Bod” until a few years ago? I’ve heard it hundreds of times recently. The latest was on a fashion tv show. The hostess said to one of the male  models, “You’re really rocking the dad-bod.”  I know she said it as a compliment, but it had just enough snark and dig to make it really an insult.

Mom-jeans is another one of those labels that blows my mind. Again, I don’t think it’s meant to be insulting – just a descriptive word for high waisted jeans usually worn by women other than size zero teenagers – but it comes across as being so snide, you know it really is an insult.

 

Here are a few other labels for people and things that I’ve heard in my lifetime, and again, they are just this side of nasty when said:

going postal // chill pill //  chick  flick //  playa // wife beater // cray-cray // Barney-bag // hippy //  preppie //  yuppie //  D.I.N.K

How many of you recognize and know those?

How many of you wish you’d never heard them?

 

Yeah, me too!

Why do we put labels on everything and everyone? Why can’t we just say, things like, “Oh, yeah, Jennie” instead of “Oh yeah, Jennie. She’s that preppie chick, right?”

Why can’t you have a bad day and have someone ask, “How are you feeling?” Instead of saying, “You’re acting cray-cray today.” Or even worse, “You’re going postal, babe. Take a chill pill.” That one really burns my hide!! ( See what I did, there?! HeeHee)

I realize that these catch phrase labels are ways to shorten really in-depth thoughts and descriptions. I get that (did it again!)We’ve become a society that communicates in letters (BTW, WFT, TTFN, LOL) and shortens our verbal interactions to pithy descriptors. I know I’m getting older – and hopefully, wiser – but I long for the days when I could have a real conversation — a face to face conversation — that was a true imparting of words and information, not a drive by shooting ( Did it again!) of quick blurbs and bullet points.

Maybe I am getting just older and not wiser. I don’t know. Think I just need to chill? (heehee)

When I’m not waxing prolific about society’s intellectual downfall, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Pet Peeves

Some Girls Like It Hot Facebook Hop

Welcome to the Some Girls Like It Hot Mega Gift Card FB Hop, where you can enter to win a gift card at every stop. With over 100 authors participating, that’s 100+ chances for you to win.

In the event of a broken link in the hop, you can always find the complete list of authors and links to their FB pages here: http://somegirlslikeithot.blogspot.com/p/the-hop_29.html

For this hop, I’m giving away AN E-COPY OF COOKING WITH KANDY. Please read and follow the instructions below very carefully. I don’t want to have to disqualify anyone!

  1. Like my FB page and this post.
  2. Follow me on TWITTER
  3. Comment below this post: I Love Hot Guys!

Winners will be chosen at random when the giveaway closes at 12 pm EDT (9 am PST) on June 12.

Kristina Knight is the next stop on the hop. Visit her/his Facebook page for a chance to win another gift card here: Kristina Knight FB page

BONUS GIVEAWAY! If you visit every page on the hop and enter all 100+ giveaways, you are eligible to enter to win an Amazon Echo Dot or Kindle Fire. Here’s the Rafflecopter:

http://somegirlslikeithot.blogspot.com/p/bonus-giveaway-for-facebook-hop-visitors.html

*******Have you entered our two grand prize giveaways? That’s right, we’re running two big giveaways at the same time. Enter for your chance to win a Kindle Fire HD 10” tablet ($299), plus additional kindles and Amazon gift cards.

Giveaway #1

http://somegirlslikeithot.blogspot.com/p/the-hop.html

Giveaway #2

http://somegirlslikeithot.blogspot.com/p/june-9-12-giveaway.html

Good luck and have fun on the hop!

Facebook giveaways are in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. By entering this giveaway, participants release and indemnify Facebook from all liability. Information collected is not collected by Facebook.

List of Participating Authors and Links to Their Facebook Pages

Cheryl Matthynssens* https://www.facebook.com/dragonsgeas
Melissa McClone* https://www.facebook.com/MelissaMcCloneBooks/
Hunks to the Rescue* https://www.facebook.com/HunkstotheRescue/
Olivia Wildenstein* https://www.facebook.com/owauthor/
Nancy Segovia* https://www.facebook.com/segovia.nancy/
Tamara Ferguson* https://www.facebook.com/Tammysdragonfy/
Emily Leigh* https://www.facebook.com/emilyleighbooks
Constance Phillips* https://www.facebook.com/ConstancePhillipsRomanceAuthor/
Cynthia A. Clement* https://www.facebook.com/CynthiaAClement/
Cailin Briste* https://www.facebook.com/cailinbriste/
Enigmatic Books** https://www.facebook.com/enigmaticbooks/
Elizabeth Rose* https://www.facebook.com/Elizabeth-Rose-Author-515495781845391/
Gayle Parness* https://www.facebook.com/GayleParnessAuthor/
Marie Booth* https://www.facebook.com/marieboothbooks
Alyson Hale* https://www.facebook.com/AlyHaleAuthor
Victoria Pinder* https://www.facebook.com/victoriapinder1/
Jody A. Kessler https://www.facebook.com/Jody-A-Kessler-USA-TODAY-Bestselling-Author-230863640353761/
Astrid Arditi* https://www.facebook.com/Astridarditiauthor/
Amy Knupp* https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyKnupp/
Jennifer Allis Provost* https://www.facebook.com/copperraven/
Stephanie Queen** https://www.facebook.com/StephanieQueenAuthor/
Stella Marie Alden* https://www.facebook.com/stellaMarieAlden
Jenna Barwin* https://www.facebook.com/jennabarwin/
Joanne Dannon https://www.facebook.com/joannedannonwrites/
Siera London* https://www.facebook.com/authorsieralondon/
Felicia Beasley* https://www.facebook.com/feliciabeasleyauthor/
Venom and Vampires* https://www.facebook.com/VenomAndVampires/
Sidney Valentine https://www.facebook.com/sidneyvalentineauthor/
Mia Ford* https://www.facebook.com/authormiaford/
Michelle Jo Quinn https://www.facebook.com/MichelleJoQuinnAuthor
Romance Author Quinn https://www.facebook.com/RomanceAuthorQuinn
Saint Brothers Series https://www.facebook.com/SaintBrothersSeries/
Soraya Naomi https://www.facebook.com/sorayanaomi.author
Sarah Williams* https://www.facebook.com/SarahWilliamsWriter/
Katie O’Sullivan https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatieOSullivan
Josie Litton** https://www.facebook.com/josielittonauthor
Debbie White https://www.facebook.com/DebbieWhiteBooks/
Christa Paige** https://www.facebook.com/ChristaPaigeAuthor/
Stacy Gold** https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStacyGold/
Kris Michaels* https://www.facebook.com/Kris-Michaels-746901612054241/
Margo Bond Collins https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins/
Peggy Jaeger** https://www.facebook.com/PeggyJaeger.Author/
Kristina Knight* https://www.facebook.com/KristinaKnightRomanceAuthor/
Elizabeth SaFleur* https://www.facebook.com/elizabethsafleurauthor
Lynda Haviland* https://www.facebook.com/lyndahaviland/
Jeanne St. James* https://www.facebook.com/JeanneStJamesAuthor/
Sophia Knightly* https://www.facebook.com/sophiaknightly/
Eden Rose* https://www.facebook.com/EdenRoseSmooches/
Sydney Aaliyah Michelle* https://www.facebook.com/SydneyAaliyahMichelle/
Laura Marie Altom* https://www.facebook.com/LauraMarieAltom/
SorchiaD* https://www.facebook.com/SorchiaD
Stephanie Julian* https://www.facebook.com/author.StephanieJulian/
Jennifer Wilck https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Wilck-201342863240160/
Sheila Seabrook* https://www.facebook.com/SheilaSeabrookAuthor/
Lana Campbell https://www.facebook.com/foreverandanight.lanacampbell
Erica Lynn* https://www.facebook.com/Erica-Lynn-Erotic-Romance-Author-1671551313094553/
Whitley Cox* https://www.facebook.com/CoxWhitley/
Amy L. Gale* https://www.facebook.com/Amy-L-Gale-540928695977160/
PG Forte* https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPGForte/
Lila Felix* https://m.facebook.com/AuthorLilaFelix
Melissa Belle* https://www.facebook.com/authormelissabelle
Laura Greenwood https://www.facebook.com/authorlauragreenwood/
Lumi Daoi* https://www.facebook.com/LumiDaoiAuthor/
Nikki Lynn Barrett https://www.facebook.com/NikkiLynnBarrettauthor/
Josie Riviera https://www.facebook.com/Josie.Riviera
Amanda Uhl* https://www.facebook.com/amandauhlauthor
Jacquie Rogers* https://www.facebook.com/JacquieRogersAuthor
Victoria De La O* https://www.facebook.com/victoriadelao1/
Lane McFarland* https://www.facebook.com/LaneMcFarlandAuthor/
Lauren Wood https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLaurenWood/
Calinda B* https://www.facebook.com/CalindaBauthor/
Ashlyn Chase* https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAshlynChase/
Deb Marlowe* https://www.facebook.com/DebMarloweAuthorPage/
Elisabeth Barrett* https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethBarrettAuthor/
Angelica Kate* https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009904514836
Bailey James* https://www.facebook.com/authorbaileyjames/
Holly Cortelyou** https://www.facebook.com/HollyCortelyouAuthor/
Ashlee Price* https://www.facebook.com/AshleePriceRomanceAuthor/
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“After a hurricane, comes a rainbow”

I put the title in quotes because it’s from the Katy Perry song Firework.    The reason I’m quoting that song today is because I need to say something about what’s been going on in the UK for the past 2 weeks.

While I won’t address the atrocities–they’ve been given enough coverage by the mainstream media–I do want to honor the courage, strength, and fortitude of the British people. A people, so kind, so good hearted, so friendly, that their uniformed police officers don’t even carry guns to police the populous.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit London and the UK several times with my daughter and husband. London itself is a metropolis filled with thousand-year-old English history but is a veritable Babel of languages and cultures all living, working, existing together. And every single Englishman I’ve met on my travels, no matter what their color, religion, or political party affiliation, has been polite, courteous, friendly, and–to use a British euphemism–Brilliant. One of my brothers-in-law is from the UK and he is just as kind, loving, and,  yes (again!) brilliant as his homeland mates.

During World War II when Britain was getting bombed and gassed by its enemies, Winston Churchill told his people “..never flinch, never weary, never despair.” That well known British stiff upper lip and backbone of steel has served the people of the UK well for generations and will continue to do so.

The outpouring of love for the people of Manchester and the victims, families, and citizens of the London attacks, from around the world is an example of what never giving into evil can accomplish; of remembering that love is unbreakable like a diamond whereas evil is like a deadly virus that must be isolated, treated, and eradicated for the good of all.

In a game of rock, paper, scissors, love is always the rock, the winner. Love crushes everything else – every evil, every terror, every atrocity. Love always wins.

Always.

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Wonder Woman and mad men….#WTF??

Just read an article about a group of men who are super pissed that many theaters around the country hosted WOMEN ONLY screenings of the new WONDER WOMAN movie this weekend. I don’t want to copy the article in its entirety, so here’s the link. Men were tweeting that this is discriminatory and that they think someone should sue the theater chain holding the all female screenings for sexism,  gender discrimination, and male bashing which they equate to a hate crime.

Seriously?

With all the horrible shit currently happening – the Manchester and London bombings, North Korea’s nuclear tests, the US’s pullout of the climate accord, not to mention healthcare, welfare, hate crimes, and EVERYTHING ELSE important, some men are complaining because a movie about the first and only FEMALE SUPERHERO is catering to a female-only clientele? For real?

My only comment to these misguided, misogynistic men is, get a friggin’ life!

Male superheroes abound. Every weekend of the summer it seems a new male superhero movie opens up. Tony Spark (Ironman), Thor, SpiderMan, Batman, Captain America, the list goes on and on. And lest these knuckleheads who are protesting say something stupid like “what about Black Widow? She’s a superhero.” Yeah – a SECONDARY CHARACTER superhero. THAT’S IT!  There’s no movie in which Black Widow is the end all- be all. No storyline that a major movie company funded for her.

Diana Prince is the first female superhero to have her very own big budget, top studio-made movie. She is the star, the storyline is hers and hers alone.

The back story is hers. She’s female, she’s the protagonist, the movie was directed by a woman, and the cast features some of the baddest-assed women in entertainment today ( Anybody watching HOUSE OF CARDS want to debate that point about ROBIN WRIGHT?) This movie is showing girls everywhere, all girls – from toddlers to teens to middle aged and beyond – that girls have power. Girls are smart. They can think deductively. They can make a difference through their strength, their intellect, their courage, their compassion. This movie is a prime example of female empowerment in its purest form – and it relies on Diana Prince’s sense of inner humanity and her desire for the downtrodden of the world to have a voice. SHE is their voice.

 

I can’t possibly believe these men feel threatened in any way by the movie houses catering to women only for this release. Men, unfortunately, still rule the world in every way. They make more money than women for doing the same job, they hold the vast majority of political offices in the US and abroad, they manage most of the major corporations on the planet. Why are they so pissed off about a movie theater chain catering to a women-only audience for a few days?

Do they think that the message in the movie — that WOMEN — can fend for themselves, physically, economically, emotionally, and defensively without the help of men, is true? That a  society where women rule with peace and understanding, yet physical acumen, is a threat?  A potential future event? Are they so scared of a woman who believes it is her duty to right the wrongs generations and eons of men have thrust upon the world, is a bad thing?

Or are they just acting like bratty children who want something someone else has and can’t have and feel left out?

I’m gonna take a wild guess and say those same male protestors didn’t vote for a woman in the 2016 election…. just saying.

Oh, and BTW, the movie grossed $100,000,000 + in its opening weekend. That’s a huge chunk of change. Hollywood ( male dominated and run Hollywood) take notice. Again…just saying.

 

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Book Pet Peeves…I’ve got a million!


Dialogue that doesn’t ring true to the characters. Misplaced modifiers. Sex just for sex sake. Hunky guys who don’t know they are. The alpha whose entire personality and being is changed overnight by the love of a good woman.

The list could go on and on and…you get the picture. I’ll pick one just for space saving sake ( that way this blog won’t be 50,000 words long!)

The one that really gets me is the last one. You’ve got an alpha male who basically is a walking, talking, take-no-prisoners-be-the-leader kinda guy. He rarely smiles. He’s built like a combat tank. He vows never, ever, EVAH to get close enough to anyone that he’d feel any kind of emotion for them. Your basic misanthropic hunkadoodle. I have a writing friend who calls these types of guys ALPHAHOLES. Perfect description.

Enter the heroine. In 250+ pages she does one thing  – it could be anything from biting her bottom lip to punching the hero – that miraculously changes everything that has gone into this man’s internal makeup for 30+ years. Overnight. One thing.

And he’s a changed human for the rest of his natural days. He’ll never again be the silent, sacrificing all for the mission, defender of the world at the sake of his own happiness kind of guy. His entire demeanor changes. His way of thinking evolves. Overnight.

Overnight.

I’m just not feeling it, peeps.

I read a lot. A LOT! And I’m a wicked fast reader. I’m a Netgalley reader/reviewer, plus my Kindle has more books loaded onto it than I think it was constructed for. I can read a book a day – and not the Harlequin 200 paged ones, either. I just finished the hardback version of COME SUNDOWN by Nora Roberts in a day and that baby topped out at 468 pages.

So, I read a lot and I’m a widespread reader. I’ve seen an awful lot of these silent but deadly alphas written lately by traditionally published and self-published writers. Some of the story arcs make sense and give a reason the male transitions his entire makeup when he realizes his love for the heroine – many do not. Actually, A LOT do not.  There’s no justifiable reason this guy turns from hating mankind to kissing babies in the street and adopting orphan kittens. And that just burns me because people don’t change over night. People, basically, if truth be told, don’t change. I understand this is fiction and we have a great deal of literary license when it comes to characters/people. I get that and believe me, when it’s written correctly, this situation can happen in romantic fiction.

 

Give me a redeemed criminal who’s rehabilitation is believable, that there’s a legitimate reason he went straight( JD Robb’s Roarke, for instance ) and I’m hooked. Show me how a wounded soldier who thinks he has nothing to live for works through that emotion -logically – with the heroine and I’m hooked( Marianne Rice’s WOUNDED LOVE for instance).

Don’t just give me an alphahole and have him change overnight because the heroine is spunky or cute or a ballbreaker! That just doesn’t ring true, folks. Not in romance, and not in life. Not in my experience, any way. IF you like these types of heroes and stories, then YAY. Have fun reading them. I don’t and when I realize I won’t get that hour or two I invested in reading an implausible character back, well, I’m not a happy camper.

‘Nuff said….

Because this is blog hop there are a bunch of other writers who have their own peeves. Stop by and visit them.

 

 

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Commencement…a funny word for the end.

My facebook page has been deluged for the past two weeks with happy  pictures of graduations, both high school, and college. I love sharing in the excitement and joy of all my friends and their families at these monumental achievements.

These young people have so much in store for them, ahead of them, and concerning them, their futures, their successes, and –let’s be honest — their disappointments, too.

I can clearly see the days I graduated from high school, nursing school, college, and then from my Master’s program. Clearly! At each, I remember certain emotions of the day that seem almost prophetic now.

High school: “Thank God I can get legally get out of the house now!”

Nursing School: “Thank God I can get a good job now!”

College: “I did something no one else in my family has ever done – graduate from a school of higher learning! Thank you, God, for giving me the strength and fortitude to do this.”

Masters: “Done! Now I can get married knowing my formal education is done!” ( I never wanted a Ph.D., so I knew I was stopping here.)

I was 27 when I got my Masters degree and married the man who gave my life meaning.

I’m now 57 and all I can think about is how fast those 30 years went by.

Marriage, moves to different states, childbirth, back to work, family obligations, deaths, more births… yadayadayada. Those 30 years flew. Really. Flew by. If the insurance statisticians are correct and the average American born woman lives to 79 years of age, I’ve already lived more than half my life. Way more.

People call this The Second Act of your life. What you’re supposed to do now, since you’ve gotten all the obligatory things out of way, are the things you’ve always wanted to do. Travel, invest, take up those hobbies you never had enough time for before now. Retire, learn to do the things you’ve always dreamed about learning to do. In the great scheme of things I shouldn’t be writing – that should have happened in the first act. But…it didn’t. The writing career I wanted– the one where I could financially support myself with my writing and have it be my primary job, my career, my way of existing — didn’t happen when it was supposed to. No. It happened when I turned 55. Way after graduation. Way after my life was already settled.

At my college commencement, the speaker asked the graduates to evaluate their education. Did it prepare us for the future we wanted? Did we feel we were adequately informed and prepared for what was in front of us? Did we feel we could go out into the world and change it?

My answer was a resounding NO to all those questions. Looking back now, I’m changing that to “HELL, NO!”

Life is longitudinal. You keep moving on that line, having some success, having some failure, reformalizing goals and aspirations, but always moving. Sometimes the line moves up, sometimes down. Sometimes it just moves straight and steady from one point to another without fluctuating. But it always moves and we are always learning.

Our education doesn’t end simply because we’ve been given a piece of paper that says Graduate. No. We are lifetime learners. I learn something new every day. Every friggin’ single day. And yes, some of it I wish I didn’t know!

If I was giving a commencement speech the one thing I would emphatically tell the graduates if this: This is not the end of your education, of your learning, your schooling. Nor is it the beginning. It’s simply part of a continuum. Meet every day as a new challenge, a new learning experience. Keep your eyes, minds, and hearts open to new things, new thoughts, new ways of doing something. Don’t be static. Be dynamic instead. Embrace the new while learning from the old. Plan for the future, yes. Please do that. But don’t forget about the present. Enjoy it, don’t just look at it as a means to an end. Don’t NOT do something you dream about doing because you’re worried you might fail. Do it anyway. Failure is a form of learning; people tend to forget that.

 

 

Learn something new every day. Every. Day. You don’t want to get to a certain age in your life and think: “I wish I’d done that.  I wish I’d gone after that dream. I can’t now because it’s too late.”

It’s never too late, especially for a dream.

I really think Mother Teresa said it best:

I can usually be found learning something new every day here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Autocorrect…and why I hate it

A negative blog title for sure, but there’s a reason. The other day I got a lovely GIF from an absolutely lovely friend with a birthday wish. The GIF was funny, so I texted back right away. The beginning of my text was ” HAHAHAHAH”. Or it was supposed to be. Somehow my finger slipped and I wound up typing this “HAHAHAHAHFGAHA” Since I was in the grocery store at the time and not paying attention, the autocorrect feature on my phone changed what I wrote to something Horrible. Truly. A word that I never use, hate to hear, and wish didn’t exist. I’m not going to write the word because I hate it so much but look at this HAHAHAHAHAHFGAHA and try to figure it out for yourself. I have no excuse except I wasn’t paying the attention I should have been before I hit the SEND button.

Needless to say, when the friend who received the text saw what was written, the word that was added, that person was hurt, mad, and probably a million other emotions I can’t begin to imagine. Saying I’m sorry doesn’t seem enough. Not really. I hurt this person – something I would never do, consciously or intentionally and for that I am to blame for not checking before I hit send.

Why am I blogging about this? The reasons vary but the main one ( aside from owning that I did something so stupid!) is because, as writers, I think we need to pay closer attention than ever before when we send something out to an editor, an agent, a publisher. Check everything. Every line. Every word. Every punctuation mark, to ensure what you have written is what you want to send. For my indie friends who self-publish this is uber important. I’ve read two self-published books lately ( not from friends!!) where I spotted several incorrect word uses, punctuation problems, and even missing words. Traditionally published authors need to be hyper-vigilant, too, esp. before copy edits come out. I read an ARC from a very well known writer recently that I won in a GOOD READS contest and there were quite a few sloppy edits. I know this will probably ( hopefully) be fixed in the final copy before widespread release, but you never know.

As writers, we want to not only make sure our words are correct – that they are truly the words we meant to pen – but that we are making the impression we want to make. What does it say to a Literary Agents who reads a manuscript that has numerous typos, misspellings, and incorrect grammar use? One thing it tells her/him is that representation won’t be coming from them. Same with a publishing editor. A PE reads hundreds, if not thousands, of items per week. If she has two manuscripts, one filled with mistakes, one perfect, you can pretty much guarantee unless the imperfect one has the potential to be the next Harry Potter, she’s gonna pick door number 2. Do we really want our chances at publication to become a choice between a pretty perfect, clean manuscript, and one that…isn’t? I certainly don’t, and after this little incident I’m writing about here, I’m being ubercareful with everything I write then send.

I can catch mistakes much more readily when I type them on my laptop than when I type on my phone. My laptop doesn’t automatically correct words it thinks are wrongly used. My phone does. I simply keep forgetting that, which is why I need to be  extra attentive when sending something from my phone.

Learn from my mistakes, people! Your phone doesn’t think for you- although it’s trying to. That’s the purpose of autocorrect in my humble opinion.  DO NOT LET automation take over. I feel like we are closer to that day when robots rule the world than ever before. Maybe I’m being overly dramatic ( ya think?!)… but, just saying.

I truly long for the days when we actually wrote out messages in letters and on note cards. I believe we were better spellers, communicators, and interactors. We established eye contact with the person we were communicating with and were able to interact on a more human level, one to one.

Technology, though, is here to stay. Okay. So I’ll embrace it. But I’ll be checking it more and more to make sure what I want to say is what is actually being said and not CORRECTED by a non-sentient entity who can not emote, think for itself, and has no soul.

Just saying…

 

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