Tag Archives: friends

On Girlfriends, a weekend away, and how not to take a selfie

I did something I rarely do this weekend: took off for a girls birthday getaway. Busy work schedules, life and geographic dispersement makes it difficult for me to hang out with my girlfriends as much as I’d like to. So this past weekend three of us finally managed to plan an entire two days of away time, just us, to hang, eat, exercise, shop, eat some more, and shop until we dropped.

Did I mention we shopped?
The first warm and sunny weekend of Spring allowed us to visit Newburyport and Portsmouth, NH, two gorgeous New England-y towns, rife with fun, food, tourist sites, and – you guessed it – shops!

From an old fashioned General Store that had more candy than even I could eat (!) to a housewares store that featured some of the best tea towels I’ve ever read:

   

 

Remember the specialty store SPENCERS? I haven’t seen one in a while now, but I found what I think is an upscale Spencers –  lots of funny stuff but not so dirty ( and by dirty I mean sexually explicit!)

When we weren’t eating and shopping we were walking along the beautiful coast line New Hampshire possesses. Yes, we are mostly landlocked, but we do have several miles of gorgeous coastline. And it was during our attempts at getting selfies with the beautiful water and sky horizon that I learned a valuable lesson about taking selfies, namely: I can’t!!

My girlfriend in the middle looks like one of those fashion DON’Ts from the old Glamour magazine back page, but that’s really my hand holding the camera up. This taught me that in future we need a selfie-stick to take pictures when we are looking toward the sun. And what’s with the prune face on me?? I think I was talking but who knows.

These are better, no?

One of my favorite places to shop is a bookstore. Any bookstore, and boy did we find some good ones. Here are a few of my newest Must-reads:

          

    

 

What a relaxing, fun, stress-free getaway! This was truly the theme of the entire two days:

I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my girlfriends…and I don’t want to ever consider it.

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Why #writers need to #recharge.

I’ve been going at 120 miles per hour the past 3 months – ever since the New Year. I’ve got two books in final edits and galleys, I’ve got three more I’m working on for release at the end of this year and hopefully the beginning of 2018. I’ve committed to blogging more and am going to the gym 5-6 times per week. I’m doing a presentation at a conference next week, in addition to traveling 4 major times this year  ( airplanes, people!) to other conferences. I’ve got a brand new book out  TODAY and am doing promo for it as well.

This is all in addition to my normal life stuff. You know: cooking, cleaning wife-ing

Oh, and I’ve got Dancing With The Stars in 15 friggin’ days, so practice, practice, practice!

It’s only the beginning of April, but I feel like I’m burnt out already. Or I did, that is, until this past Saturday. Saturday night I did something I haven’t done in a long, looooooooooong time: I went out with friends.

Thank God and all that’s Holy for friends.

These friends don’t write.

These friends are all my age ( give or take a few months).

These friends all have children the same age as I do.

I have a history with these friends that doesn’t include plot lines, story arcs, or Capezio dance shoes!

And these friends keep me grounded while at the same time recharging my soul.

It was so wonderful to spend a few hours just talking about nothing and everything. I didn’t think once about how terrified I am of giving my presentation to a (hopefully, fingers crossed) large audience next weekend. I didn’t for one second agonize over a line of dialogue that I just couldn’t get right. I didn’t think about my feet, sore, and huddled in Merrel’s because they were so swollen from dance practice.

I didn’t do anything other than simply be, have fun, and laugh.

My hermetic existence is a given. I accept that I need to spend long stretches of time alone just so I can get my stories on the page.  I know I let world changing events float by me without so much as even a comment or a consideration just so I can finish a chapter. I get that sometimes I’m grouchy and pale and my eyes look like they’re bleeding because I spend countless hours staring at a computer screen. I accept all this and I go with it.

But it felt so blessed GOOD to not think about anything other than the conversation drifting around me.

God gave the world so many wonderful things. Free-will; faith; chocolate; wine. But the best thing he gave us was each other. People. Friends.

If you haven’t talked to or seen a friend in a while, call them TODAY! Not email, not a text, Actually put your mouth to the phone and speak to them. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

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

And as an added reminder, TODAY is the day COOKING WITH KANDY is released. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet ( and that begs the question “why not?”) here are the links:

Amazon //B&N // Kensington // Kobo // Apple // Google 

 

 

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Filed under Author, Author Branding, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Dancing with the Stars, female friends, Friends, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, love, Lyrical Author, New Hampshire, Project Graduation, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

Does it make a difference where a #writer writes?

I live a solitary existence during the day. I write from home. It’s quiet, I can hear myself think, I don’t have to get dressed if I don’t want to, and I can talk out loud in my character’s voices when I’m creating dialogue without the fear someone will call the crazy police and have me carted off.

desk

I know writers, though, who actually write out in the…wilds. Or in this case, civilization. In coffee bars,  sandwich shops, at the local library. Places that have, you know, people, milling around. I’ve never written anywhere that wasn’t isolated and private. Even the library with its noise restrictions is too loud for me because…you know…whispering!

I’ve got a scientific background, so one day I thought I’d put it to rusty use and do an experiment as see how this other creative faction, well, creates.

I actually got dressed – makeup too! – packed up my laptop and ventured north to a popular gathering place in my neck of the northland: Panera.

panera

 I’ve been in Panera any time of the day and I know it’s always crowded, so the time I began my experiment didn’t factor in. Just for transparency sake, though, I got there a little before 10:30 am. After the morning coffe/bagel rush and before the lunch crowd pressed in.

The place was – as usual – packed, but I found a single booth off in one corner under a window overlooking the busy parking lot. Because I couldn’t just sit there and observe without eating something, I ordered a bagel and a soda and when it was ready, settled down to try and do some work. I was at a critical point in a WIP  plot line and needed to get through some emotional dialogue.

Laptop on and file opened, I took a sip of soda, a bite of bagel, and then put my fingers over the keyboard, ready to see what magic I could make.  Ready to see if I could make some magic without getting distracted, in actuality.

Know what?
Yeah, you’ve probably already figured it out. No magic.

Just when I thought I had an idea, I got distracted by the loudly whispered argument ( well, fight really) going on in the booth behind me between two college-somethings. It was a little difficult to navigate through all the college slang speak of you’s knows, and multiple likes every other word. Plus. neither of them knew how to complete a phrase without adding f**king to the word descriptors. I was able to get the gist of their heated dissertation, though, after a few minutes. Apparently, Freshman A hooked up with Freshman B’s main squeeze at a drunken frat party and now  both these young women had  a date at the school health center for “tests.”

Just when I thought punches would be thrown, one of them got a text and then they both zipped out of there right after.

Back to writing, Or trying to.

I got an entire paragraph down before I heard the squealing, high-pitched scream of someone being vivisected. Or at least I assumed that’s what was happening to the toddler  I spied out of the corner of my eye. He’d thrown himself down on all fours, writhing and pounding his puny fists into the faux marble decorated flooring, his lungs proving he’d have a busy career as an opera singer one day.  tantrumHis gaunt, anorectic looking mother,  red-cheeked and mortified, stood over him coaxing and cooing  him to stop. The more she tried to comfort him the louder his wailing pitched. All patron eyes were zeroed in on these two, rubbernecking the tantrum, myself included. I wondered why no one came to the poor woman’s help and dragged the little brat up by his Baby Gap jeans, giving him a good tongue lashing at the same time, but then I realized that most well-intentioned people didn’t get involved these days because of frivolous lawsuits and backlash.

Eventually, the little bugger got tired and momma was able to pull him up ( I would have yanked!) and led him out of the eatery.

Back to writing – or trying to.

Ten minutes later a very loquacious and vivacious group of three women around my age and garbed in what looked like workout wear ( spandex leggings that barely came to ankles; multicolored track sneaks over tiny socks, and skin tight racer back tops) sat down in the booth in front of mine and proceeded to talk.

working-out

A lot. Like, non-stop. They spoke over one another, trampled on each other’s sentences, guffawed at what they were saying-loudly!- and generally seemed to be enjoying one another’s company. They stayed for over an hour, much longer than the time it took them to eat their salads, just…talking. About anything and everything.

I’d now been in Panera’s for over two and a half hours and had written exactly 76 words. My usual rate for that amount of time is at least 1000-1500, easy. At this point, I felt it was safe to conclude I wasn’t one of those lucky writers who could block all extraneous noise and commotion from my creative subconscious. I wrote better-certainly MORE- when I was alone, it was quiet, and I had no distractions, so I went back home and proceeded to write 10 pages by dinner time.

And even though I proved my hypothesis ( I can’t write with distractions!) I will admit this: being out in the wilds, er, civilization, even for an abbreviated time, helped me hone in on varying speech patterns for age-appropriate dialogue, gave me a new appreciation for how well behaved my daughter had been as a child ( I need to call her to tell her how much I love  her!) and made me thankful I have girlfriends like those 3 women I listened to who- just when I need it the most- kidnap me from my self-imposed isolation and hermit-dom, and bring me back into the living fold.

Now, back to writing. Alone.

When I’m not doing social experiments you can usually find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

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Filed under Author, Characters, community advocacy, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Friends, Life challenges, love, New Hampshire, Pet Peeves, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

Of #Romance and #book-signings…

 

toadstoolSo yesterday I was privileged to have a book signing for my latest release, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS  at the ToadStool Bookshop in my home town.  For two hours I got to chat and catch up with a bunch of old friends – some I haven’t seen in quite a while ( Brian, I’m talking about you!) and I met a few new ones as well. It’s always a crap shoot for a relatively unknown author to embark on a book signing because you just never know if ANYONE will turn up. One of the store managers has told me in the past they’ve had signings for authors and one or two readers/buyers may show up, but there have been more times where no one has. I think I’d need to be talked off a ledge if that happened to me! Luckily, I’m still here today, writing this, so you know it didn’t.

toadstool1

Another fly in the ointment to drawing potential new readers in is the Romance Novel aspect of my books. Again, from the people who work in the shop, Romance is not a big seller for them. They have a beautiful section for their offerings, and all the big names are represented ( plus, little ol’ me!) so it’s not because they don’t stock the books. It’s more, I feel, people who don’t read romance as a general rule go out of their way to stop and buy one. Well, that’s something I hope to fix and change just by being a continual face and vocal presence in my community. Earlier this year I did a radio spot with one of our local talk-radio DJs – a guy who just happens to be a wonderful fringe friend. Don’t ask me to explain that because it’s too complicated and involves HIPPA rules and regs! Anyway, after that spot many many people approached me and told me they weren’t romance readers, but were willing to give it a shot since I’d written the book. This may be the only time MY NAME was the draw for a new reader, hee hee. I’m happy to say I know several people since then who’ve said to me, “I never read a romance book until I found out that’s what you write. Now, I love them.” They’ve gone on to explore other romance genre authors because of that, so in a very real way, that’s my PAY IT FORWARD moment.

lovebooks

It’s not easy to find new readers, especially since the Internet now rules the planet. The Toadstool is the only brick and mortar retail book shop in my area. There are a few secondhand book shops ( which I love!) but this one is the biggest and has recently relocated to a much better, more foot-traffic laden location. In fact, yesterday during my two hours, the shop was wonderfully packed with holiday shoppers. And they weren’t only shopping, they were BUYING! This gives me a warm and tingly feeling for several reasons. It tells me people still like the feel of a REAL book in their hands. It tells me people still read! Actual words on a page, not listen to a podcast or scroll through a computer. It tells me people still give books for gifts – and that makes me the happiest. I always feel if you give a book as a gift for anything – holiday, birthday, just because – you are giving someone a few hours of escape. A few hours spent in contemplative reflection. A few quiet, stolen hours to just sit back and be entertained. Now that’s a true gift.

So, again to all the wonderful readers and friends who came out to support me yesterday ( Pun included since you bought books!) a very heartfelt THANKYOU! I hope whoever you purchased the books for – Mom, Sis, Daughter, Girlfriend, or just YOU – that the stories make you happy and give you the hope and promise that everyone deserves their own Happily Ever After.

thank-you-message2_edited-1

When I’m not out promoting the Romance Genre, you can usually find me here:

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

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Filed under A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Candy Hearts, Characters, community advocacy, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Friends, Life challenges, love, Netgalley Reviewer, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

The Power of Friends… in Literature

Where would Nancy Drew be without George Fayne? Where would Huck Finn have wound up without Tom Sawyer? Scarlett may have derided her, but Melanie Wilkes was her best friend hook, line,  sinker and soul. What about Elizabeth Bennett and Charlotte Lucas? Without Charlotte, Lizzy may just have wound up married to the horrible Mr Collins. Charlotte did her a solid by marrying the little worm. Harry Potter,  Ron Weasley and even Hermione,  were the best of ‘mates. And dear God, could we have had Sherlock Holmes without John Watson?

In my last post I talked about my friends and what having them in my life means to me. Literature is  chock-full of besties and we are all better for having shared in their friendships, albeit second  hand.

Friends in literature serve so many purposes aside from simply being  “a friend.” They are foils for one another’s characters; sounding boards for ideas, problems, and resolutions; cheerleaders and soul soothers, and best of all, the true  friend will always steer you in the right direction when you are going the wrong way, tell you if you have spinach in your teeth, and hold your hair back when you need to vomit. This last one is literally and theoretically!

My two favorite books of all time are Gone with The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Both are rife with the beauty and detail of friendship. In both, the main characters of Dorothy and Scarlett need to find their way: home and in life. The TinMan, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow all help Dorothy face trials, tests,  and tribulations in order to find her way back  to Kansas, to Auntie Em’s loving care, and to discover her heart’s desire. Scarlett is Melanie’s opposite in every way, except in their love for Ashley, and in  this opposition of character details, each woman brings out the best in the other. Despite what many historians have postulated, I really do think Scarlett’s road to redemption begins when she brings Melanie back to Tara after the birth of Beau. She risks her life to make sure they all get home safe and sound. Whether you believe it is for a selfish reason, such as ensuring Ashley knows Scarlett helped his wife, or  – like me – because deep down Scarlett was truly a good and loyal person, their relationship ( Scarlett and Melanie’s) is the strongest and most enduring in the novel.

When a writer creates friends, he/she needs to know what each friend brings to the relationship table. It’s simply not enough to have the main character have friends. They serve purposes, both positive and negative, and these purposes enrich the novel and the character’s quest. They play off one another, spark ideas between them, and – such as in the case of Holmes and Watson – better the lives of the people surrounding them. Ron and Hermione show Harry Potter that people do care about him -not because he is a wizard – but because he is a person with feelings and desires, just like they are. Sharing triumphs, failures, tears, and joy are just some of the emotions friends go through together.

Think about your favorites books. What are the friend relationships like? Is the book made better because of them?  What does each friend bring to the relationship table for the main character? When you write, think about these facets. Your book will be richer for it, and sound more true-to-life.

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The Power of Friends

I don’t have many friends, but the ones I do have are keepers for life.

Oh, I have friends on Facebook, and followers on Twitter and Pinterest. People, even follow this blog ( thanks so much for doing so!) But real honest to goodness, give you a kidney if you needed it friends are few and far between.

But that’s okay. Like I said, the one’s I have are keepers.

As an only child, I grew up mostly alone. Parents at work all day and into the evening, I spent a great deal of time at the local library after school. The head librarian knew more about me than my family did. Books became my true friends. Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, even Miss Marple where the people I shared my life with. It sounds sad, but it wasn’t. I loved being in the library surrounded by words. It was so much better than being in school surrounded by bullies who taunted and tortured me verbally because I looked different, was different, had a different last name than my mother ( this was the 60′ and 70’s – not too many divorces yet among the populous). Books were my friends, their characters my peers and teachers.

Okay, so maybe it was a little sad, but believe me, I never felt like it was.

When I got older and my outer shell of protection hardened, it was easier. I was still different than most, but I started to discover people who were similar in their  own differences to me. Book readers; smart kids; creative kids. Kids who didn’t care what people thought about them. Kids who would stand up for me, and me for them, against the bullies and clique’y kids. All the knowledge I’d gleaned from those books I’d been surrounded with helped me discover the person I truly was. The kid on the inside who lived on the outside and wanted nothing else but to belong.

In a word, me.

No longer did I wait until people sought me out – I started pursuing them. I started actually making friends, putting myself out there and trusting that I wouldn’t get hurt. And if I did, well, then, I’d chalk it up to life experience.

I’m still that same kid on the inside. Still know I’m different from most, think differently than the norm. But the people who are close to me now, the ones who truly are friends in every sense of the word, are the ones who are most precious to me.  They share my highs and my lows, give me strength and receive it from me when they need it, and they celebrate the person I am, differences and all.

It’s been said that words have power. My power comes from within, but also from my friends. And they make me feel very powerful indeed.

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, female friends, Friends, Romance, Strong Women