Tag Archives: #amwriting #amblogging

Life is a lesson unto itself

 

I will admit this freely: I hate a preachy book. You know the kind. The book that just bleeds with not-so-hidden messages for the reader. The book that condescends to the reader, the author making sure you know he/she is so much more educated than you on the topic.

It even happens in romance books. I read a book years ago by an author who I won’t name ( and never read again!) whose secondary character was basically a doormat and let every person in the book walk all over her because she thought that’s how she deserved to be treated since she was a bastard. All through the story, her internal dialogue droned on and on about how she was unworthy of ever finding love because of this. In the end, she winds up alone and caring for the heroine’s two children. The life lesson I took away from all that drivel, and the one I really think the author intended: bastard children don’t deserve happiness.

Yeah…that’s why I’ve never read anything by this author again.

When I set out to write a book I don’t automatically think about the life lessons that should be incorporated into the story. For me, I think the story itself and how the characters move in and out of their lives, should decide this. Looking back on my books I can objectively say these have been the basic life lessons I’ve written about:

  1. Trust is earned. Every day. (First Impressions)
  2. Everyone deserves a second chance at love. (There’s No Place Like Home, The Voices of Angels)
  3. You can’t be all things to all people and you are stronger when you let people help you  (Cooking with Kandy)
  4. First Impressions aren’t always the correct ones (A Kiss Under the Christmas tree)
  5. Forgiveness is a gift (3 Wishes)
  6. Family is more than just the people you are related to (Skater’s Waltz)

I don’t preach in my books. That’s not my job. My job is to entertain the reader. If the reader gains any insight into her own life, or sees parallels within it from the storyline, then that’s a good thing. What isn’t a good thing is if I’ve insulted the reader by presenting a situation or a problem that may be comparable to something in their own life, and then telling them this is how the situation should be solved. No. Not gonna happen.

Life lessons are important. No one is denying that. I just don’t want to get slapped in the face with it when I read. And, I also don’t want to be the one slapping!

I’m sure the other authors in this blog hop are just chock full of life lessons, so why don’t you hop on over to their sites and see who they handle writing these lessons in to their own books.

 

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

RWA – from a different viewpoint

Today, I’m over on the Contemporary Romance Writers blog talking about the upcoming RWA conference. I’ve include dthe text here if you don’t want to follow the link.

Here’s the text:

A few weeks ago, I blogged about what to do if you’re attending the Annual RWA conference for the very first time. Being a first-time attendee can be daunting and overwhelming. So many fabulous courses to choose from; the amazing publishing spotlights; the free books, oh Lord, the free books. That moment when you realize your favorite author of all time is in the same elevator as you.

It’s all heady stuff and those of us who are conference veterans know the feeling well. Which is why I want to concentrate on us old timers today and what I think our responsibilities should be when we attend the conference.

My very first RWA was in San Antonio in 2015. First timers are given an actual stick-on to place on their name badges stating they are first timer conference attendees. Like everyone else, I attached my badge banner after registration. I was standing by an escalator nervously trying not to look conspicuous and awkward in my solitariness the next day, when author Shirley Jump approached me and introduced herself. She stated she was an RWA Board Member and asked how I was liking my first conference. She asked what I wrote, was I published, what chapter did I belong to, all questions that engaged me in conversation and put me at ease. She was absolutely charming, lovely, and (if you’ve never seen her) gorgeous. She made me feel so special, I went about the rest of the day feeling less like a fish out of water.

Knowing that she took the time to reach out to me, a total stranger, to welcome me to RWA and to encourage me to take advantage of the parties, courses and workshops, gave me such a feeling of acceptance and belonging.

The next year, as a seasoned conference attendee now (LOL) I remembered that encounter and did the same thing Shirley did: I reached out to several people who had first timer banners on their badges. I introduced myself and then engaged them in conversation about their experience the same way Shirley had.

It felt marvelous to reach out that way. I met three women who were much the same age as me, who were at that point in their lives where they wanted to devote themselves to their writing more and were attending the conference to network, see what was happening in the industry, and take advantage of some of the fabulous workshops and courses. They even asked me advice on publishing. Imagine. Me!

Ego-boosting stuff to be sure.

Every year since then I’ve made it my business to connect like that with first timers. And every year I’ve made more writing friends because of it.

Every one of us who write has at one time or another felt that solitary, awkward, what-am-I-doing-here feeling. RWA is a supportive community of writers in all phases of their publishing careers and we should embrace one another on all those levels. A smile and a word of encouragement go a long way when someone is feeling out of place or overwhelmed. So, I’m challenging all of us RWA seasoned members to reach out this year to a first-time conference attendee and welcome them into the community we all love so much. You just may make a novice writer’s day. And conference.

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA

Mini-NaNoWriMo…#SummerWritingChallenge, #WordCounts

As the Secretary of my chapter’s local RWA, I’m always thinking of ways I can help get the writers in my group motivated. Okay…let’s be honest: I’m always thinking of ways I can get myself motivated to write and I just use them as the excuse!

I write every day. I’ve mentioned that ad nauseum in this blog. But just because I write every day it doesn’t’ mean I wake up every morning with happy butterflies swarming around me and snow-white unicorns frolicking in the living room, thrilled to start the day’s writing session, my brain filled with award winning ideas and storylines. There are mornings ( a lot of them, truth be told) where I am just brain-fart dead and thinking of what to write makes me queasy.

So…in an attempt to get myself to finish the two books I have due, I’ve promoted a summer Mini-NaNoWriMo session with my NHRWA chaptermates.

I mustn’t be the only one who needs a fire lit under them during the summer days because a whole passel of them are writing along with me.

The rules are a little different from the month-long NaNoWriMo of November. We have 2 weeks – not 30 days; we can set a daily word count, a weekly one, or a total two-week count of any choosing, not the standard 50,000 words dictated by the NaNo-Gods. There is no official website to track progress, just a little ole’ Google.doc where I’m keeping track of everyone’s counts.

Easy peasy. No pressure.

I’ve got motivational memes lined up, words of writing inspiration and motivation saved in a NaNo folder, and I’m going to have little writing sprint sessions throughout the days to pushpushpush, I mean, HELP, my fellow writers. And ultimately myself!

My goal is my standard 2500 words per day, so after 14 days I should have………….(sorry, math isn’t my thing) 35,000 words. We’ll see how that goes.

Pray for me!

When I’m not trying to motivate myself and others 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, NaNoWriMo, New Hampshire, NHRWA, RWA, Strong Women

Be it ever so humble…

I’m going to bet that the other authors in this blog chain are writing about fabulous places they’ve visited like Hawaii, Australia, Ireland, Bimini. All places that evoke images of sandy beaches, lush and verdant fields that go on for days, tropical temperatures and a slow, relaxing lifestyle. I was all set to write about someplace I’ve visited like that too. Until I realized something….I don’t have to visit other locals and write about the beauty of the land and the people.

I can write about where I live, one of the most beautiful places in America.

Growing up in New York City, it was a long-running joke that if you wanted to see a grove of trees, visit Central Park. Joke though it may have been, it was based on reality. Living in an urban setting is many things: exciting, fast paced, cultural. What is was not, to me, was beautiful.

Fast forward 30 years. Looking to relocate, my husband accepted a job in New Hampshire. I’d never been to the upper New England states before and had no idea what the region “looked like.” We moved in the summer. My first introduction to a Fall in New England was one of the most eye-opening encounters I’d ever had – and it solidified in my mind the move we’d made was the correct one. Colors I couldn’t even begin to identify and name surrounded me.

 

We bought a house in the woods and I think I spent more time just gazing out the bay windows at the trees turning colors than I did unpacking.

The town I live in celebrates Autumn in a number of ways: apple picking, a pumpkin festival, decorating the main street with fall themed items such as corn stalks, pumpkins ( again!) just to name two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For years we celebrated the PUMPKIN FESTIVAL where our town donated lit jackolanterns. It’s with pride I tell you we hold numerous Guinness World Records for lit pumpkins in a defined setting. For years, people from all walks of life and literally from all over the world, came to our town during the festival to add their name and pumpkin to the tally.

There’s even a cottage tourism industry in this neck of the woods called Leaf Peeping Season.

 

From September until November you can drive up any of the highways that connect New England to our sister Canada, and watch the leaves – literally- turn colors before your eyes. Artists from all over the world come to our neck of the wood to try and capture the beauty of the colors, hues, and shades of out trees as they wind down for a nap during winter.

Dorothy Gayle went searching for her heart’s desire and found it in her own back yard. That’s the way I feel about this blog piece. There are so many gorgeous places on earth to travel, but when it comes down to selecting a favorite, I’m choosing my own back yard.

 

Be it ever so humble…..

Now, I’m sure the other authors in the blog hop challenge have equally as spectacular places to show you, so please visit their sites. Who knows? You may just find your next vacation destination.

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, There's No Place Like Home

A sweet summer treat with #author Margaret Ann Spence…

Talk about a summer treat! Strawberries, a fab new writer-friend, and new release all rolled into one!  Today I’ve got one of my Wild Rose Press sistahs, Margaret Ann Spence, visiting with me and she has a brand new book that released TODAY, titled LIPSTICK ON THE STRAWBERRY. What a fabulous, fun title!! Read on and find out about this lovely writer, then stick around for a little sweet, strawberry goodness as she gives you an excerpt from the book.

Margaret, The Writer 

  1. What drives you to write?  Can’t help myself, I’m afraid. If I don’t put words on paper every day I feel weird.
  2. What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why? Everyone wants to love and be loved. I like my romance a little more textured, so I write stories about women with “romantic elements.” That’s what RWA calls women’s fiction.
  1. What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?  I love contemporary and historical. The characters have to develop and change in relation to what’s happening to them and to the world around them.
  1. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day?   I’m a morning person. Caffeine is needed to jump-start the brain cells. After I read Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, I realized “morning pages” do really work. That is, grab a cuppa and write longhand in an exercise book for half an hour. Seems to free up something.
  1. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table? Well, given my response above, you may not be surprised to learn I am writing this on my laptop propped up on pillows in bed. You will not ever receive a photograph of this. However, later in the day I will sit on the couch or a comfy armchair. With a laptop you can write anywhere. I do make an exception of airplanes. Travel is so uncomfortable today I can’t write on a plane. But the most productive authors do take advantage of that otherwise wasted time.
  1. Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel vision? I get fairly focused but don’t like distractions. Then again, my kids are grown and it is blessedly quiet around here most of the time.
  1. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?  No. I don’t listen to music because I do find it distracting. What calms me is a peaceful view out the window of my garden.
  1. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?   My WIP – at an early stage- involves a botanist, an animal rights activist, and a medical researcher. It’s amazing what scientists are learning about genes – that plants and animals share so many and yet there’s so much diversity. As a gardener, I’m fascinated by new research that seems to indicate that plants communicate with one another. So I started to think, if animal rights activists believe eating meat is wrong, why is eating plants better? Of course everything eats everything else. The questions started to spin around in my head, and I thought of a conflict between the characters and started to plot it out.
  2. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?  In the case of the WIP, I had the core of the plot based on an idea. But in my debut novel, Lipstick on the Strawberry, published by The Wild Rose Press July 5th, the character came first. This character was in conflict with her family, particularly her father. Family life is full of conflict. I think in order to achieve independence a young person must strike out positions that are different from her parents’. But in a strict, respectable, and religious family, how can a daughter break convention without causing a rift? Shaming shadows a person, thwarting relationships until it is really confronted. That’s partly what I wanted to explore. Then I added food, for fun. My heroine is a caterer. Food is sensuous and messy and delicious, and a contrast to the cerebral. Plus, I made my heroine English because I wanted to play with the perception that British food is terrible and to show it can be good.  So, to the title: Photographers do weird things to make food more visually appetizing. They spritz a cake with hairspray, decorate a pie with shaving cream, and swipe a pale strawberry with lipstick to make it glisten. When I learned that, I knew I had my book title. My caterer, Camilla, always felt unable to live up to her family’s expectations. She finds that beneath the veneer of respectability lie imperfection and secrets.

  1. What 3 words describe you, the writer?  Writing: Helps me think. In more than three words, this means, I often don’t know what I think till I write it down.

Margaret,  The Person 

  1. Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing.  I love to travel, and when I was young did a lot of crazy things that were more foolish than brave. One time, in a youth hostel, a girl asked for volunteers to help smuggle her cousin out of East Germany. I put my hand up, only to have it smartly smacked down by my friend Gail who had more sense than I did.
  2. Who was your first love and what age were you?  I was eighteen and rebellious. My boyfriend and I would not have worked long term.
  3. If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and….    That’s a really great question. When I was in my twenties and living in London I signed up for a Peace Corps type of organization, thinking I must improve on my partying lifestyle. I didn’t hear for months and then got a notice informing me to bring lots of mosquito repellant because I’d be sent to help build a road for the people of Lapland. To be honest, I had to look up where Lapland was. It is in the Arctic Circle. I imagined myself up there, battling mosquitos while doing hard labor for a pittance and unable to return. I turned down this “job” offer. I sometimes think, what if I had gone up there? Could I have done some good? Or would I have been a victim of my own naivite?
  4. Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando?  For what? Why do they have them on at all? On the other hand, I love little guys in diapers, too.
  5. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be?   My lipstick! I have dark hair and pale lips make me look ghostly.
  6. What three words describes you, the person?   Love babies, books and bright colors. (not exactly three words, I know.)
  7. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? I’ll have to stay up late enough to watch Jimmy Fallon. But I understand he talks about his kids a lot so we should sing Father and Daughter by Paul Simon.
  8. If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?As a kid I loved Little Women. Because she had the same name and was also the oldest of four siblings, I totally identified with Meg. Of course the conventional thing was to love Jo because she was the brave one who dared to be different. But there it is, I was Meg. As it happens, one of my own children lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and I’ve visited the Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott. So I’ve often imagined living there, picking apples, playing the spinet, even sitting up there in that tiny upstairs space where Louisa did her writing. We’d sit up there and chat about writing. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy all represent bits of Louisa May Alcott. Her characters are really alive to me.

I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:

 

  1. Favorite sound Children’s laughter. 
  2. Least favorite sound Ring tone on a cell phone in a theater.  
  3. Best song every written Lady in Red by Eric Clapton. Sexiest song ever! 
  4. Worst song ever written By December 23, Jingle Bells is the last song I want to hear.                                                                       
  5. Favorite actor and actress Actor: Ethan Hawke. Actress: Meryl Streep without question, followed by Cate Blanchette. Ever notice how male actors often just play themselves, over and over, while these two actresses blend themselves into the characters they’re playing, like chameleons. Maybe because women are trained to hide their true feelings?
  6. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? (It can be anyone living or dead)   At the moment I am enthralled with Emma Stone’s performance in La La Land. So I guess I’d like to be her the day she realized she’d nailed the tap dancing.   
  7. What turns you on? Someone with a sense of humor.         
  8. What turns you off? Someone who takes him or herself too seriously.
  9. Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”)  “I hate when people are late.” Not only does it put the recipient of those words on the defensive – did I keep you waiting? – but it indicates a mean and judgmental person. Should have feigned a headache immediately.
  10. What’s your version of a perfect day? Planning, cooking and eating a wonderful dinner with friends, preferably on a patio with a water view. With or without the view however, there’s sheer sensual pleasure in setting a beautiful table, gathering and arranging colorful flowers from the garden, the sound of music selected by the music maestro of the house, my husband, the delicious waft of dinner from the kitchen, the hugs when the friends are greeted, the evening getting off to a great start.

 

Blurb: Lipstick on the Strawberry

Estranged from her English family, Camilla Fetherwell now lives in the United States and owns a successful catering business. Returning home for her father’s funeral, she reunites with her first love, Billy, whom she hasn’t seen since her father broke up their teenage romance.

Billy seems eager to resume their love affair. But after one blissful night together, things take a turn. Camilla suspects her father may have led a secret life, and when Billy reveals something he, too, has discovered, her apprehension grows. Billy holds her heart, but their relationship might be tainted by what her father hid. A reunion seems impossible.

Her life feels as splattered as her catering apron. As she watches her food stylist make a strawberry look luscious with a swipe of lipstick, Camilla wonders if a gloss has been put over a family secret? Can she and Billy survive what’s underneath?

Excerpt:

My fingers searched the back of the drawer and felt something glossy. I pulled, and saw in my hand a colored photograph of a woman who looked to be about the age I was now. She had hair the color of fallen leaves. Only the woman’s shoulders were visible below the head. Her blue and green scarf reflected the color of her laughing eyes. In the background was the blurred green of a field. I flicked the photo over. The penciled initials N.B. were the only notation.

A cold prickle ran down my back as I stared at it.

I tucked the photo into my pocket. How peculiar was it to find this woman’s image stuffed in the back of a drawer? Daddy had gone to pains to hide the picture.

In one hand, I lifted the plastic bags of trash, picked up the passport in the other, and went to find Tilda.

“Would you mind if I went home and rested?” I asked. “I feel a headache coming on.”

“Yes, of course. What did you find in there? Oh, good, Daddy’s passport. I’d like to keep that. How thoughtful of you. Anything else of interest?”

I turned so Tilda couldn’t see and fingered the pocketed photo. The letters N.B. intrigued me. Was this just the acronym to remind our father of something important? Or did it mean something else?

“No,” I said and hurried toward the door.

Buy Links:

Amazon /// Wild Rose Press // B&N // Kobo

A little more about Margaret:  

Margaret Ann Spence was born in Australia and has made the United States home for many years. In Lipstick on the Strawberry, she takes as backdrops Boston, Massachusetts and Cambridge, England, cities she’s lived in and loved. Lipstick won First Place, Romantic Elements Category, in the 2015 Beacon Contest, sponsored by the First Coast Romance Writers.

You can find Margaret here:

Facebook // Twitter // Blog& website // Goodreads //

Peggy here: Margaret, thanks so much for joining me today. Your book – and you! – sound fabulous! Much luck and keep writing.

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Food lover, Foodie, Life challenges, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

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

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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The Happiness challenge…

 

I was conducting research the other day — okay, full disclosure: I was scrolling through Facebook– when I came across a shared message called the HAPPINESS CHALLENGE.

 

It’s a little difficult to read here, but some of the things to do on any given day are: Go for a drive with no destination; watch a funny movie; take a nap;  start a new book( my favorite one!)

Has it really come to this? do we need to challenge ourselves to be happy? To schedule something to do to try to smile? To find our joy again? To experience bliss?

Unfortunately, I think we do.

So many people trudge through their days just existing. Work issues and stress, getting the kids to school on time – or any of their overscheduled events, trying to live a healthy lifestyle in a fast-paced world, family issues, the destruction of our economy…our environment…our way of life.

It’s enough to cause any happiness we can garner to take a seat in the wayback of the car. Remember the wayback? Not the second seat, or the third seat in minivans, but the one in the station wagon that faced the opposite way from where you were going? The one that, as a kid, you loved to ride in?

The very first item on this list is a NO SOCIAL MEDIA DAY. I’m all for that one. My question, though, is can it be done? ( remember – I found this challenge on face book!) Psychiatrists are actually espousing now that there is such a thing as social media and device addiction. If this is true, it’s a pandemic in teens and kids, for sure.

Item number two is CALL A FRIEND ( not a text). Does anyone remember that our phones are – first and foremost- PHONES? What do you do with a phone, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you: YOU CALL PEOPLE. You actually speak to them. It’s a sad commentary on our humanity that we can’t devote any time to looking at one another and engaging with each other face to face instead of device to device.

A really sad commentary!

 

Down the list is another of my favorites ( in addition to START A NEW BOOK!): NO COMPLAINING ALL DAY. Think about that one….yeah. I know. Can you do it? What would happen if you suddenly let every little piddly – and all the big puddly – things that stress you out and piss you off – just ….go? Not engage in the negativity of complaining about them? Keep your cool? I think you’d find inner happiness pretty fast because your soul would appreciate the quiet!

If you think you need to be challenged to get your happy back, click on the link above and read the article about the happiness challenge. If this resonates with you, then, a. I feel bad for you, but b. here’s a way to fix it.

This is the way I think we should all be going about life every day. Every. Day. Every friggin’ day!:

I’m usually pretty happy in  any of these places:

 

 

 

 

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#Celebrating some good news.

Just found out that my Wild Rose Press book from last Christmas holiday season A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest from the Contemporary Romance Writers RWA chapter! I’m one of 3 finalists in the Contemporary Romance – short division.

Can you just say “YOWZA!!!”

I am uber-stoked. A KISS came in 3rd in the NECRWA 2017 Reader’s Choice awards, and now this!!! My little romance writing heart is all aflutter today. And probably will be until July 28 when the winners are announced at RWA2017.

Yikes! I need to get to the gym so I can fit into a nice dress for the announcements…

See ya……………………

But before I go, if you haven’t read A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS yet ( and why not???) here’s a little taste:

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind. Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not. Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

 

Excerpt:

At twenty-four I still lived under my parents’ roof, had no full-time paying job other than helping my father with his business books and those of a few of his business associates, and my love life was nonexistent.

It wasn’t that I didn’t get asked out or date. I did. Often. Plus, I was perpetually being set-up by the aunts and uncles. I’d had a steady boyfriend all through high school, but we went our separate ways when we each left for college. My choices had been limited in recent years to guys I met in college–who were all looking to score, not forge a lifetime commitment—and then in accounting school who were, for lack of a better word, boring and absorbed either in numbers theory, finding jobs after graduation, or in just getting into my pants. The men my extended family routinely set me up with were mostly thick-necked, uneducated, wiseguy wannabes who wanted a conventional Italian bride they could keep barefoot, pregnant, and cooking.

So. Not. Me.

I needed to make some decisions about my life and make them soon. First, pass the exams and get licensed. Then, look for a real job so I could afford to live on my own. This one might be the hardest to accomplish since my parents were old-school thinkers who believed girls should stay home until they were married. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go from their house to a husband’s house, and never experience what it would be like living on my own.

Lastly, I wanted to find the one special guy I could commit to. A guy who’d be family oriented like me, want kids, the minivan, a house in the ‘burbs, the whole family-comes-first-and-always mentality I’d been breastfed on.

I wasn’t too picky. Obviously, I didn’t want him to look like a troll, but nice looking wouldn’t hurt since I’d be spending eternity staring across the kitchen table at his face. A good-paying job would be nice in a career where I didn’t need to worry he’d make one wrong move and wind up as fish food in the Meadowlands marshes.

Don’t laugh: have I mentioned my Uncle Sonny?

BuyLinks:

Amazon // Wild Rose Press//  Kobo // Nook

When I’m not celebrating, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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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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