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Tales from Iceland…

So. I’ve been on radio silence for the last week because I’ve been vacationing with the family in Iceland.

Yes, that Iceland.

Why Iceland, you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya.

I’ve mentioned before that my daughter and I no longer give one another birthday presents, instead opting to give one another experiences. Last year we went to trapeze school, so this year, I decided I wanted a trip for my b’day. My daughter went to Iceland for work a few years ago and loved it. I am a rabid fan and watcher of all things Housewives related and last year the OC girls went to Iceland and it looked beautiful. So, I said, why not go there this year? Daughter said yes, hubby said yes and we invited my niece ( who’s also hubby’s Goddaughter) to go with us. Hubby would be in charge of our itinerary, and daughter would reserved our lodgings. She did good, too. We AIRBNB’d at a farmhouse in Reykjavik.

Too cool.

Now, over the next few days I’ll give you a feel for what we did, but first I want to tell you the things I liked and didn’t like so much about Iceland.

Liked first:

1.The people

2. The roads

3. The venues we traveled to

4. The airport

5. The cleanliness of the country

 

The things I wasn’t too thrilled about:

1.The water smells like rotten eggs ( sulfur)

2. The weather is awful. All the time.

3. The price of things is waaaaaaaay ridiculous

4. You can’t go to the bathroom in a public place without having to pay.

5. it’s light out, literally and truthfully, 24 hours a day – no nightfall at all while we were there.

And now for some clarity. On the things I liked list:

The people are so friendly, they ALL speak English ( so yay!!) and they genuinely seem happy. The roads are amazing. Single lanes both ways, but not one pothole, dirt road, divet, or detour anywhere we traveled. You can see what they spend tax money on plain as day. All the places we went to visit were great! The airport was super clean,  accessible, and made sense to a foreigner ( me!). This is the cleanest country I have ever been in. No garbage, no litter, no homeless, no druggies.

Now, the negatives.

The country was formed when a volcano exploded so there is lava rock everywhere. Because of this, they are geothermal. The water comes from the underbelly of the lava so it smells like sulfur. Big time. I held my nose every shower I took. It rained everyday. All day. And never got above 50 degrees. I will never complain about the prices of things in the US again. A hamburger cost 29 dollars. A 16 oz. diet soda was 5.5o. Lunch routinely cost us 100.00. LUNCH! The kronur is 100 to 1 US dollar. 5 dollars is 500 kronars. Ridiculous. Also ridiculous is that you have to pay to pee. Everywhere. The public restrooms cost us 200 Kronur per pee each. I’m sorry, but there are some things in life that should be free: air, water, dirt, and the ability to pee. My daughter told me that this is a big thing in Europe = paying to use the public toilet. I stopped drinking completely when I found this out, Really. I was practically dehydrated, but I didn’t have to pay to pee. Everywhere we stopped I told my girls, ” find out if you can pee for free.”

A word about the perpetual light. It’s a real thing. There were blackout shades over all the windows in the house we stayed in, but it really didn’t make that much of a difference. At 2 oclock in the morning it looked like 3 pm outside. Very unsettling to the psyche.

Overall, I enjoyed the vaca, despite the few negatives. Would I go back? Probably not. It was a one and done for me. But I’m glad I went and saw the land of the midnight sun. Which is a thing. Really.

 

 

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In praise of girlfriends

Writers, by definition and practice, are solitary creatures. Days can go by, especially if I am on a deadline, where the only person I will see all day is my husband before he leaves for work in the morning and then when he returns 14 hours later. If I didn’t make myself go to the gym I’d have zero social interaction. The only people I would  converse with all day are my characters, who aren’t, you know….real.

Most of my dialogue gets written with text-to-speech or Dragon, so the sound of a mechanical, robotic, voice coming at me for hours is kinda weird. Cool, but weird, too.

I know. Crazy.

This cloistered existence is not healthy mentally, physically, or spiritually. Not by a long shot.

Ever.

Which is why I am thankful for the girlfriends I have.

None of my close gaggle of friends are writers, and sometimes that’s a good thing, others, not so much, but having them in my life means I get out of my attic, interact with people I adore, and step away from the fantasy land and make believe people  I’ve created for myself.

Don’t get me wrong: I like being a hermit and in another lifetime in a galaxy far, far, away  I probably was one. But to actually sit and chat, reconnect, and gossip, with girlfriends who knew you when, is marvelous. They get me through the humps of plot points just by randomly mentioning something. They give me insights into what’s going on in the world  by telling me how their millenial children are faring. They bombard me with new character ideas ( and they don’t even know it!) when they tell me about crazy co-workers, or people they’ve come in contact with.

But they do so much more.

They keep me sane.

They keep me human.

They keep my feet on the ground.

They keep me centered.

They are shoulders to cry on, arms to embrace me, and a soft, safe spot to land when I need to jump off a ledge.

Thank God my for girlfriends.

when I’m not out with my girlfriends or being a hermit you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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Attending your High School reunion…yes or no?

So the other day I got an email inviting me to my 40th High School Reunion.

Yeah, I know. That was my reaction, too. I was like, 40 years??!!! You’ve got the wrong chick, dude. I graduated, like, a minute ago.

Um. No. No, I didn’t. The invitation was correct, much to my disgust. I really did graduate from high school in 1978.

Egads. Where did that time go? That’s best left for another blog post, I feel.

Anyway, the invitation.

I’m gonna be honest and tell you my gut instinct was to delete the email. I haven’t gone to one reunion yet and seriously, don’t plan on ever going to one. High school was an absolutely miserable 4 years of existence for me that basically just dragged on until I could graduate, get the hell out of there,  scream “See ya, soul-suckers,” at my classmates, and start the life I’d been dreaming of. Why, oh why, would I ever want to go back to revisit that horrible time?

My teen years were not, to be brutally honest, my glory days. I was grossly overweight; wicked smart; the teachers liked me because I was smart and the kids all hated me for the same reason. I had no friends to hang out with during or after school. Needless to say a boy never liked me as a girl. In truth, no boy even ever pretended to like me so that I would help them with their homework, or study for a test. It kind of makes a huge statement when a guy doesn’t even pretend to be nice to you so he can get something out of it. Think about that.

I wore thick, ugly, cheap eye glasses because we couldn’t afford anything nicer; I’d never been able to have my ugly, mal-aligned teeth straightened because we couldn’t afford braces; and my last name was different from my mother’s during a time that wasn’t the norm. Most of my clothes were bought at the Salvation Army or GoodWill, and my hair was not what it is today: namely sleek and cared for. Back then I went completely gray at 16 and had begun dying my hair using crap over the counter products that would lead to my loosing all my hair years later. Again, a blog post for another time.

So. High School. Not my favorite part of life.

When the 10th reunion invitation came in the mail ( and yes, it came via pony express because no one had email in 1988) I tore it up and tossed it immediately. I was 28, newly married, and couldn’t be bothered reliving those horrific days.

When the 20th came along, I was 38, a mother and couldn’t even think of leaving my young daughter or my husband for a weekend in which I’d feel all those feelings of inadequacy again. Same thing when the 30th rolled around.

I did toy with idea of going to the 30th though, but it was for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t to reconnect with old friends ( didn’t have any, remember?) No, if I was going to go it was purely to shove in the faces of everyone who’d been mean to me  back then what my current lifestyle was. Gone was the obese, myopic, shy and scared teenager of old, replaced by a thin, confident, contact lenses wearing, spouse of a famous and revered doctor and a respected member of my community. I’d sat on several boards of directors; I’d gotten my Masters degree; I was a many-times over published non-fiction/magazine article writer. I was a success. And I wanted to go to rub their noses in it. I wanted those cliquey- uber popular, cool-set girls to choke on all the nasty names they’d called me, gag on the times they’d whispered and laughed about what I was wearing, and to basically feel less than, just as they’d made me feel all those years ago. I wanted all those boys who’d never noticed me to, well, notice me now!  I wanted to tell them: see? Look what you missed out on, dude. You could have had all this! But…I didn’t  because those were the wrong reasons to go. I’m not a spiteful person, or at least, I try not to be. If I’d gone with that attitude I figured I was mimicking all that bad high school behavior I despised, so I stayed home instead.

 

Remember I told my initial reaction when the 40th invite came was to delete it? I didn’t. I let it sit in my email box for a few days before I opened it. Then I clicked on to the electronic RSVP. Attached to the invite was a list of people who’d already committed to going. I scrolled through the hundreds of names and you know what? I didn’t recognize one of them. For the women, the maiden and married names were listed, so I was able to see the name they’d had back then. Not a single name -nor picture – was familiar. I dug out my high school yearbook from the old trunk I’d stashed it in years ago and put the back-then faces to the names and faces on the rsvp. Still, no recognizable ones. I started to think about what I would do if I did, in fact, recognize someone who’d been mean to me back then. Time and wisdom are amazing, because it dawned on me that I’d feel nothing. Nothing acrimonious, nothing negative. These people don’t mean anything to me. They didn’t then and they don’t now. So, I asked myself, why? Why would I go? Why would I give up a weekend to sit and visit with people who mean nothing to me? It would, in all honesty, be a waste of my precious time. Time I could spend with the people who do mean something to me.
The answer is : I Wouldn’t.

I deleted the invitation after ticking off the RSVP box that said:  NO/Will not attend.

It was the right thing, for me, to do. It will be interesting to see how I feel in 10 years when the 50th rolls around.

Hmmm…. another blog post for sure about that.

I can’t be the only person on the planet person who hated high school, nor can I be the only one who’s never gone to a reunion.  Thoughts? Stories? Comments? Feel free to comment below.

 

And if you’re ever looking for me, I’m usually here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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#MFRWauthor Blog Challenge. Character profiles

I’ve talked a great deal about how much of a people watcher and relationship voyeur I am in previous blogs on my website.  I have to admit, people watching is the best way for me to develop characters. Watching how strangers  act, listening to how they talk and treat others, how they speak, the gestures they make, all go toward making a character more life-like on the page.

But what happens once I see and know the character I want to write about? Well, then I do an indepth profile of them using a worksheet developed by ONE STOP FOR WRITERS and authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. One Stop is a paid membership service to their on-line support system which lists thousands of characteristics inherent in the human personality. Many of you may have heard of their breakout book THE EMOTION THESAURUS.

I own this book in print and believe me when I say it’s dog-eared, yellow markered up, and used almost daily. I also own an ecopy of it so I can always have it with me when I’m working and not home. To go along with this book I also have copies of the others in the series:

      

Each of these books is an excellent, must have reference book when writing anything emotion-worthy and characteristic-driven about your characters.

I also have a Book Bible for each book I write that lists all the characters, their physical characteristics, their relationship to one another, and their GMC’s. Because I write so many book in series, this is a fabulous way for me to ensure I never give a character green eyes in chapter one and brown eyes in chapter 8. Plus, if I’ve killed off their beloved cat in backstory, I can’t show them petting the cat in chapter 2. My mind is so chockfull of “stuff” that trying to remember each detail is just a wee bit of  a hardship for me. Having it readily available at a few taps of my fingers is paramount in keeping everything flowing smoothly.

Character profiles have come a long way since the times when just listing the physical details was the only thing important. Readers are invested in their fav characters and series and have looooooooooooong accurate memories when it comes to the minutia. If you have any doubt of that just ask anyone who is a long time soap opera watcher about the backstories of any of the main characters. They will give you chapter, book, and verse in major detail. Why do you think it’s called a “show Bible?” ( see what I did there? Bible…chapter, book, verse?)

Heehee.

Since this is blog hop, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.

AuthorBlogHop

Looking for me? here I am:

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and one last shameless plug: Check out my new AUDIOBOOK version of 3 WISHES, available now at Audible // Itunes // and Amazon.

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Books are like children: I hate to pick favorites…but

How is it possible this is week 17 in this blog challenge??? I used to laugh when people said “time flies,” but you know what? No lie!! It does.

Anyhoo.

Today’s challenge is to write about your favorite romance genre to read or write.  Mine is the same for both. I am a dyed in the wool contemporary romance lover, writer, devour-er. There are sosososos many fabulous Contemporary authors out there to choose from to read ( me among them. HeeHee!) that I’ve never gotten tired or bored once with finding new talent and storylines to inhale. And by inhale I mean, READ.

I’m a live in the present kinda girl – in life and books, apparently. Planning for stuff gives me agita. I’ve never been one to live in the past. I have a hard time suspending my disbelief of vampires, warewolves and ghosts. I’m not into whips, chains and ball gags ( I actually gagged thinking of that last one), and time travel gives me a headache. Although I have a friend who writes time travel really well and makes it easy for me to understand.

So that leaves me with the here and now. Reading about people living in the world today, with all the struggles, problems, and conflicts that abound from doing so is pleasurable to me. I like knowing that a gal who could be me is finding her way in life and love. Not to knock any other genre because they are all fab, but contemporary is it for me.

Let’s see what the other authors in this blog hop are saying: links

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Hopeful, part II. Hope springs eternal.

SO, back in November 2017, I wrote this blog about this picture and said when I had news I’d post the picture again as a shot-out:

Hopeful

Saturday night the premise of that blog came true. I signed a contract for the publication of my 4 book Match Made in Heaven series, with book one titled DEARLY BELOVED.

Yay!

After a bit of a dry spell, I now have 5 books on my docket ( the 5th being BAKED WITH LOVE, A SAN VALENTINO CHRISTMAS STORY) which will be published between 2018 and 2019. As you can assume, I’ll be posting oodles about all these books over the coming 18 months.

Once again I have proven ( to myself, at least) the power of putting thoughts and hopes and dreams into intention. I bought that ornament as a talisman, to remind me to keep my dream of publication alive. It’s been sitting on my desk since 11.29.17 and I look at it every time I am typing.

And, once again, I am reminded of my favorite self motivation book, The Little Engine that could: I thought I could, so I did!

It’s a good day.

IF you want to get in touch with me or just see what else has been happening in my life, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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Dear Diary….

Not too hard to figure out today’s topic, is it? Many of you know – because I’ve mentioned it ad nauseum – that I’m a lifelong diarist. It’s what first spurned me on to be a fiction writer. My childhood was so rife with strife that I used my diary to invent stories about girls who had adventures, loving families, who were smart and pretty and liked. Stories and characters that were so different from me. Mixed into the pages of those stories were actual diary entries about my life at the time.

I’m 57 years old and I still write in my diary most days.

I was about 6 when I got my first diary as a birthday gift.

I can’t remember who gifted it to me but it was one of those old girly-girl kinds with the lock and key. Of course, the lock broke within a week and I lost the key ( hey – I was  6!) so everything I wrote was open to viewing if my mother ever found it. She probably did because she was a world-class snoop. Anyway. The diary had about 120 pages and at 6 I filled those up within a few months. At 6 my penmanship was huge and one, brief entry could take up most of a page.

Fast forward to the teen years.

I’d evolved from the cutsie diary to a more angst-filled one. I’d doodle for hours about things that happened to me and in the world, about how I felt at the time (fat and lonely, mostly), and I still wrote stories about other girls who were not fat, lonely and unhappy; who had friends and boyfriends and were popular in school. The entires were pages upon pages, and since my penmanship was now indicative of a teenager, I was able to write more on the page. Emotions ran rampant throughout these diaries. Negative self-worth, anxiety about weight, feeling as if I didn’t belong anywhere because I was so different. I also started chronically the major events of the day that were unfolding during this time as a footprint of history. Events like Kent State, the Pentagon Papers, President Nixon and impeachment, the bicentennial, the first test tube baby. Emotions ran high across the pages. I was a girl who felt adrift in a world that was changing so rapidly I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t even know how to.

I left home for college and the diaries from those years are full of ramblings about crazy diets, all night study sessions, my flirtations with alcohol and unhealthy life choices, and my desire to make a difference in the world as a nurse. I devoted ten pages to when President Reagan was shot, detailing where I was ( in clinical) and what I was doing when the news broke (washing a comatose patient). My writing voice was getting stronger with every entry, more individualized, more…me,  and I could see a real progression in the fictional stories I added. I could also see the change in me as a person. From introverted and shy, the kind who never spoke her truth or gave a voice to her feelings, to strong and capable. An activist for change. A young woman who wanted better in all aspects of her life. ( I am woman, hear me Roar!)

When I was engaged in the process of getting married (at 27 ) my diary writing entries from that year are full of anticipation, expectation, and a unease. Would I be a good wife? Mother? Would I lose myself in the process of joining with another? There were no stable marriages/relationships in my family history. Everyone divorced, cheated on one another, drank and was generally miserable. Would I be able to break that mold? Would I know how to?

 

Then, when I had my daughter, I stopped writing in my own diary and now devoted journals to her. I documented every aspect, every hour, every milestone of her growing years.

       

She laughs to this day when she sees that I have a scrapbook and coincidal diary for every year of her life from birth until she graduated from college.

 

This is the time in my life I started putting all that lifelong storytelling to use. I began writing for magazines about motherhood and the nursing profession. It wasn’t fiction, it was real life, but the storytelling lessons I’d utilized since that very first diary came to full fruition and served me well.

I still write in my diary most days, only now that term has changed, like the times, and it’s called a journal. It even has a verb attached to it, as in “I’m journaling today.” Gone are the plain lock and key diary varieties, now replaced with inspirational covers and daily motivational saying on the pages.

I could use my computer to journal. There are about a thousand apps for journaling and diary entries, but I don’t. I’m old school when it comes to recording my thoughts, desires, dreams. I like the feel of a pen scratching across the pages of a book of my own. I like seeing how my thoughts, ideas, hell, even my penmanship (!) has changed over the decades.

I’d like to think that someday my grandchildren and their children will read what I’ve documented, get a feel for the person I was from a child to an adult. I like to think that my diary entries, the chronicling of a space in time, was relevant…interesting…worthwhile.

I’d like to believe that everything I’ve archived and recorded could – and will – in some way, give a greater understanding of the life I’ve lead.

 

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If it’s Tuesday, it’s time for #MomentsfromMenopause

My other person, #MenopauseMama, has a new blog post up today. I need a second job to pay for my menopause skin issues. Check it out. Moments From Menopause

When I’m not complaining, you can find me here, not complaining!

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An oldie but a goodie…

Author and Wild Rose Press sistah, Brenda Whiteside had been reposting some of her favorite blogs from the past. I was lucky enough to be included in that list and here’s what she shared today:

I Can’t Dance.

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5 things on my #BucketList

Lovelovelove this challenge this week!!!

We all have (or should have) dreams, wishes, desires that we want to accomplish/do someday. Just like the movie it was named for, these dreams are called our Bucket list.

I will admit, mine was an empty list until 2 years ago. Up until then the only thing I wanted to do was make it through the day, upright, healthy, and fairly unscathed.

Then I got a book contract….and retired from the work force.

And then I allowed myself to dream about what I wanted for my future. I’ve narrowed it down to five because that’s all the blog post allowed for, hence the title!

In no real order, the top 5 things I have on my bucket list are:

Visit Hawaii – and not just visit – take a helicopter flight over the islands, swim under a waterfall, climb the Road to Hana

Visit the Great Barrier Reef before it erodes away.

Skydive with my daughter. She’s already done it so I figure, go with an expert!

Make the USA bestseller list – this one is a little farfetched, especially since I’ll need a runaway bestseller in a category that’s glutted ( contemporary romance) but hey! It’s a wish list, so why not?

Open a charitable foundation – the concept of to whom much is given, much is expected rings sosososos true to me. I have been blessed. Spiritually. Career-wise. Financially. I want, one day, to empower others the way I have been. By paying forward my blessings, I can accomplish this.

I can’t wait to see what some of the bucket list items for my fellow blog challengers are. Click on their links to find out:

 

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