Tag Archives: #Writinglife

An #interview with A HUNDRED KISSES #author Jean M. Grant

I’m pleased and delighted to introduce you to another new writer to me today, JEAN M. GRANT . Jean is one of my Wild Rose Press sistahs and her first book, A HUNDRED KISSES is available now. SO, sit back and learn a little sumthin’ sumthin’ about this new author you’re sure going to be hearing about.

 

Jean, The Writer

  1. What drives you to write? I’m a sucker for happy endings that I can control. I love beautiful landscapes and to escape into fictional worlds. I am a daydreamer and it extends to the written word.
  2. What genre(s) of Romance do you write, and why? Historical, with a supernatural twist. I’ve considered a time travel and contemporary, too (those manuscripts are on the planning phase as I work on the prequel to A Hundred Kisses).
  3. What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why? Historical, contemporary, time travel. I also dip into women’s fiction, mainstream, thriller.
  4. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day? I don’t write every day as much as I would like to. I write in nooks and crannies, morning, day, and night. I usually go through a stretch of heavy writing for a few days or weeks, and then I need to take a break for “life.” Then back to it again. It’s hard to write for a few minutes here and there; I like to allot big chunks of time. The worst thing for a writer is to get interrupted in the middle of a great scene! You lose the flow.

5. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table? Most writing is done on my laptop at the kitchen island/counter or dining room table. Sometimes the couch. Rarely my desk. Not the most ideal places for proper back and wrist position though.

  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 tunnelvision? I am pretty good at filtering, as many times, I have my young children running around. I love to have music on. Sometimes the music must get turned off and I work in complete silence for particular writing projects or sections of work.
  2. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not? I listen to a variety of music, depending on what I am writing, and what the scene (or project) is about. The music matches the mood. A good deal of Enya gets me through, but I mix it up with some Ed Sheeran and Maroon Five, as well as movie scores-type of music.
  3. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP? I had written three historical romances (unpublished; dare I say as practice, over the years) in 12th century Scotland. For my current book, A Hundred Kisses, I decided to jump ahead a century and apply the feedback I’d received from beta-readers, agents, editors on the first three. I really learned a lot from those manuscripts. I honed my skills. I also threw in some magical/supernatural elements to the current book. And that’s how that one came to be! My current WIP is a prequel to A Hundred Kisses, about the heroine’s mother. It’s got Vikings and more magical elements, too. I also have a Women’s Fiction/Mainstream book I am querying to agents – about a widowed mother on a journey to locate her missing child, after a natural disaster, with her other high-functioning autistic son at her side. That book is inspired by my own parenting journey, while being a work of fiction. And yes, she meets a man with his own tortured past along the way, so there is a romantic element!
  4. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why? Plot. I love stories. I do love to connect to characters, feel their emotions. But for me, I am a plotter, so that comes easier. I always have ideas! Then I need to assign characters that suit those ideas.
  5. What 3 words describes you, the writer? Patient, Resilient, Daydreamer (Peggy here: LOVELOVELOVE those 3 words!)

Jean, The Person 

  1. Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing! I love to travel. I love to hike and tackle mountains big and small. I have a weakness for green rolling hills. I also love sharks and have a degree in Marine Biology.
  2. Who was your first love and what age were you? T.C. from early elementary years
  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….my hike through Abel Tasman in New Zealand (I picked this over other more grueling hikes, because who wants to repeat over and over those torturous hikes that left me limping for days after?!)
  4. Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando? boxers
  5. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be? Chapstick/lip balm. I would die without it.
  6. What three words describes you, the person? Daydreamer, nurturer, resilient
  7. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? Daydream Believer (aka Cheer up Sleepy Jean) by The Monkees (Peggy here: We could be BFFs. My all time fav group is the Monkees, in fact, my wedding song is I’M A BELIEVER)
  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? Claire and Jamie Fraser (both). Why? Why not? J Sexy Scot and strong-willed English nurse. What would we do? Hmm, not sure. Hang out at some standing stones or by Loch Ness?

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

  1. Favorite sound – water or rain, birds chirping at 4:30 a.m.
  2. Least favorite sound – cars idling
  3. Best song every written – Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny
  4. Worst song ever written – Barney’s theme song ( Peggy here: I can’t stand that song!!!)
  5. Favorite actor and actress – Kit Harrington and Ewan MacGregor, Emily Blunt     
  6. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead) – I’d actually like to just have dinner with (not be) The Rock, Dwayne Johnson for one day. Silly, right? He seems like an amazing, funny, nice guy. If I could be somebody for a day, it would be my oldest son, who has Asperger’s/ Autism. I want to feel, see, and experience life through his eyes.
  7. What turns you on? – coffee and sweets and my husband playing with our kids
  8. What turns you off? – mean people
  9. Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date (here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) – I’ve not had too many first dates so I am not sure what to put here!
  10. What’s your version of a perfect day? – writing at sunrise, then a daytime hike through some breathtaking place (New Zealand and Scotland top the list), finished with a frothy latte on a porch with a remarkable view (lake, ocean, mountain); all with my husband and kids of course

And now, for a little treat, here’s an excerpt from Jean’s debut novel  A Hundred Kisses

Blurb

1296

Two wedding nights. Two dead husbands.

Deirdre MacCoinneach wishes to understand her unusual ability to sense others’ lifeblood energies…and vows to discover if her gift killed the men she married. Her father’s search for a new and unsuspecting suitor for Deirdre becomes complicated when rumors of witchcraft abound.

Under the façade of a trader, Alasdair Montgomerie travels to Uist with pivotal information for a Claimant seeking the Scottish throne. A ruthless baron hunts him and a dark past haunts him, leaving little room for alliances with a Highland laird or his tempting daughter.

Awestruck when she realizes that her unlikely travel companion is the man from her visions, a man whose thickly veiled emotions are buried beneath his burning lifeblood, Deirdre wonders if he, too, will die in her bed if she follows her father’s orders. Amidst magic, superstition, and ghosts of the past, Alasdair and Deirdre find themselves falling together in a web of secrets and the curse of a hundred kisses…

Excerpt

She sensed no colors in the murky, lifeless water, and it was freeing. All breath escaped her. Muted visions passed before her eyes—her mother, her father, Gordon, and Cortland. Just a moment longer, she thought…

Suddenly, a burst of warm light invaded her thoughts as air filled her lungs. Red-hot hands burned her shoulders and ripped her from her icy grave. She breathed life into her body. She coughed, gagging on the change.

Muffled words yelled at her.

Oh, God, so hot. His fingers were like hot pokers. Her head pounded as she slowly returned to the present. Heat radiated from her rescuer. Somebody had pulled her from the water.

“Wh—?”

“Hush, lass. You nearly drowned.”

His voice was as soothing as a warm cup of goat’s milk on a winter’s day. A red-hot glow emanated from his body. Never before had she felt such a strong lifeblood, and it nearly burned her. She struggled in his arms to get free. She blinked, only seeing a blurry form before her. “Release me!”

She splashed and wriggled, and he did as told. She clambered to the shoreline. Numb and shaken, she began to dress. It wasn’t easy as she fumbled with slick fingers to put dry clothes over wet skin. She instantly regretted her naked swim. She pulled on her long-sleeved white chemise first.

She faced the forest, away from her rescuer. He quietly splashed to shore. His lifeblood burned into her back. He wasn’t far behind, but he stopped. She refused to look at him until she was fully clothed, not out of embarrassment of her nudity, but for what had just happened. He released a groan and mumbled under his breath about wet boots. His voice was not one of her father’s soldiers.

When she put the last garment on, her brown wool work kirtle, she squeezed out her sopping hair and swept her hands through the knotty mess. She fastened her belt and tied the lacings up the front of the kirtle. Blood returned to her fingertips, and she regained her composure. Belated awareness struck her, and she leaned down and searched through her bag for her dagger. She spun around.

She gasped as she saw the man sitting on the stone-covered shoreline, his wet boots off. Confusion and the hint of a scowl filled his strong-featured face. She staggered back, caught her heel on a stone, and fell, dropping the dagger. Dirt and pebbles stuck to her wet hands and feet, and she instinctively scrambled away from him.

His glower, iridescent dark blue eyes, and disheveled black hair were not unfamiliar. Staring at her was the man she had seen in her dream—it was the man from the wood.

Buy Links: Amazon // WildRose Press // B&N // Kobo

More about Jean:

Jean is a scientist, part-time education director, and a mom. She currently resides in Massachusetts and draws from her interests in history, science, the outdoors, and her family for inspiration. She enjoys writing non-fiction articles for family-oriented and travel magazines, and aspires to write children’s books while continuing to write novels. In 2008, she visited the land of her daydreams, Scotland, and it was nothing short of breathtaking. Jean enjoys tending to her flower gardens, tackling the biggest mountains in New England with her husband, and playing with her sons, while daydreaming about the next hero to write about…

You can find Jean here:

Website // Twitter // Facebook 

 

I hope you enjoyed meeting Jean as much as I did! Jean- thanks so much for joining me today and much success with A HUNDRED KISSES.

 

23 Comments

Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, love, Romance, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press

Thoughts and ramblings….

Sometimes I seriously wonder why God put the desire to write inside my heart. Some days, like today, I question the logic of what I’m trying to accomplish with writing.

Is it a test, to see if I can be dedicated to an end product?

Is it supposed to get me motivated to live a better life? Be a better person? Practice better faith?

Should I be feeling frustrated, incompetent, and inadequate? Are these emotions necessary for me to experience in order to get to the finish line, literally, and write the end?

Or is it all about the journey, the roadmap, the ups and downs that will eventually get me there?

Whatever the reason I have the desire to write ingrained in my soul, there are days like today, when the words won’t come, the dialogue is cliched, and the syntax is unrecognizable as English, that I question WHY.

Why am I doing this to myself?

Why am I making myself crazy and heart-sick?

Why am I wasting my time chasing a dream to commercial success that appears all but delusional from my perspective?

Just at that moment I’m ready to chuck my laptop out the window I remember the real reason I write. It’s not for commercial success. It’s not because I like seeing my name emblazoned across a book jacket ( although that is nice!). It’s not because I’m so conceited  I want to jump up and scream “Look at me! I can write” just for the attention.

No. I write because all these stories swimming around in my head are begging to be set free. I write because I love to. I simply, uncategorically, love to. There is nothing else in the world that gives me such joy and pleasure as penning a perfect line of dialogue or a description that gets heads nodding in recognition when they read it.

So. Please excuse my subtle rant. I’m off to write now.

While I’m writing, you can find me here if you need me : Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Romance, Strong Women

Back to normal ( I hope!)

I’ve been radio – or in this case, computer – silent for a few days as I try to get my life back to normal after my week away. Seven whole days to be gone from home is a long, long-ass time. In addition to all the day-to-day stuff I had to catch up on (grocery shopping so we wouldn’t starve, doing piles of laundry so we’ll be clothed and not naked in society, paying bills so our electricity and internet won’t go out) I also had to get my writing back on track.

Deadlines to honor. Editors to appease.  Words to put on the page.

I wrote a little in my WIP while in Atlanta, but I mostly just penned my daily blog and did some LIVE videos on facebook in between workshops and networking and traveling. Check out the videos portion of my Facebook page to see what you missed.

But now it’s back to work. Literally. I need to get two books finished by the end of July when I head off to Orlando for RWA 2017 and hopefully have both ready to be presented to my editor. Plus I’m writing a new wedding series and trying to eek a little room in for that on most days. And it wouldn’t kill me to get back on track with getting Planet Fitness every day again. My butt is starting to get chair-spread again. Oh, and I knowknowknow I’ll be getting two books back any day from two editors for final and galley edits.

And please, I don’t want to think about all the books I’ve got to review for Netgalley and Goodreads.

Does this sound like I’m complaining? I hope not. I really love my life. Lovelovelove it!!

I just wish, sometimes,  there were 30 hours in every day instead of 24.

Looking for me? Here I am:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

1 Comment

Filed under Author, Foodie, Life challenges, love, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

#RT2017 day 1, reflections

Yesterday was the first day of RT in Atlanta, and it was an abbreviated day. No morning sessions, or parties, or anything until 2:30 pm. I got my name tag, figured out all the rules and regs about the book signing, etc. I look a little cock-eyed in this picture, but I’m official, so that’s all that matters.

Since I’ve never attended an RT convention before, I attended what was called  RT CONVENTION VIRGINS. Yeah. It’s just like it sounds. A packed room full of people ( writers, readers, bloggers, industry folks) who have never….experienced RT before. You thought I was going to say something dirty, didn’t you? Admit it!. Anyway. It was an hour filled with stuff you need to know to have a good RT experience. The number one thing all the presenters said that will make your experience memorable and worthwhile? Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.

Yeah…I know. Maybe it’s the nurse in me but I thought this was just something common sense-y everyone knew.

Apparently not. Stories of people fainting while standing in line or getting urinary tract infections ran the gamut during the talk. Okay. So, of course, I drank. A lot. But I do anyway.

The next thing on my agenda was something called Naughty and Nice. Hosted by a bunch of authors, it was supposed to be an hour of mingling with cover models, sampling Peach bellinis, and tasting dark chocolate. I say supposed because I never got into the event. The one thing I wish the VIRGIN committee would have told me was that you need to line up, like, an hour before the event starts ( hence the fainting, dehydration, yadayadyada). I got to the event space at 4:50 for an 5:15 start and already the line was into the next state. They only admitted 150 people and I was, like, number 482. So, yeah…didn’t get that experience.

Two sessions down and I’m feeling a little…let down. But not to worry. CINEMA CRAPTASTIQUE was on the agenda with the amazeballs Damon Suede. This one was a blast, peeps, especially since I helped stuff goodie bags for the participants and was able to include some of my swag!Anyway, the movie that was watched was the turkey GLITTER starting Mariah “I’m a DIVA from Hell” Carey. Damon ran commentary the entire time the movie was on and I can tell you I needed to change my underpants when I got back to my room because I laughed so much I peed a few times! ( all that f**king water to keep hydrated!)

Today is jammed packed as it’s the first full day of the event. I’m meeting with a potential Literary agent, attending a few classes and then a big party tonight that my publisher KENSINGTON is co-sponsoring called ROMANCE ROCKABILLY. I’m sure I’ll have lots to tell about that on tomorrow’s blog!

I’ll be posting pix and live Tweeting during the event so you can find me here if you’d like to experience RT life vicariously!!:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

Leave a comment

Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, love, Lyrical Author, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

A little more ranting about #AirTravel

So, today is day 1 of RT2017. Registration is later and then activities and classes begin…more on that, well, later.

But first. After a long ass hauling day of travel ( see the previous blog) which saw me arriving in Atlanta, I made it to my hotel after waiting almost 30 minutes for my scheduled shuttle bus – don’t even ask! – up to my room and when I opened one of my suitcases, I found this:

Really??!!

The placard this was in was the luggage I had all my book swag and makeup in. Did the TSA really think I was going to commit mayhem with my business cards? Cause rampant panic with the handpainted shopping bags I painted MYSELF to give out during the FAN-tastic day event? Maybe they thought I’d knock someone out with the extra books I brought just in case I ran out at the official book signing, and not have any left for the Sunday event? Hmmmmm? I know – they probably thought I could do physical harm to someone with my eyeliner pencil.

Rid-ic-u-lous!

Post-911 air travel really sucks wind. Loud and badly!

Oh well. At least they didn’t confiscate anything. I would have really been pissed if my deadly mascara or eyeliner wouldn’t have been where I packed them.

This will be – I promise – the last rant for the week.

While I’m in Atlanta at RT, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

Leave a comment

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

RT 2017 Bound

As I sit in the airport and wait – patiently, which is not my strong point! – for my plane to whisk me away to Atlanta, GA and my very first RT Convention, I am struck by several thoughts.

  1. It took forever to get to the airport from my house!!! I don’t remember it taking so long before, but it was probably because the main road I have to travel on is one lane and it was “rush hour” traffic this morning. Which, in all honesty, is a ridiculous moniker for New Hampshire, but…. By the time I got to the airport, during a ride my GPS told me would take 75 minutes, it actually took over 2 hours and I had to pee sosososososososo bad!!! Plus I had to walk from long term parking because the bus had just left when I arrived and the schedule said it wouldn’t be back for 20 minutes. WE all know how much I hate to wait, so…
  2. It is so much HARDER to travel via plane now than it used to be in the pre-911 world. I know we are almost 16 years past that horrible time, but I’m one of the lucky ones who can remember when you didn’t have to get undressed to get thru security, when you could carry a filled water bottle through the viewing machine and not have to spend $5.00 to get a new one on the other side of the security line. I remember what it was like before the lines to go through the security check took about 5 minutes instead of 50. I also remember what it was like before I needed to have an invasive xray prior to getting through the line. And since I’m ranting,  I remember what it was like to not have to throw away $60.00 face cream at the beginning of the line because I forgot to pack it in my stowed luggage and it was now over the ounces limit to bring on board the plane. Seriously, was anyone every subdued in the air by Estee Lauder Renewal cream???
  3. I remember what it was like to be able to stretch my legs out in the plane and not feel as if I wasn’t going to be able to stand due to lower leg blood loss when I finally stood at my destination. Or get a blood clot from immobility.
  4. I remember when we got food- edible food – on flights. Now I consider myself lucky if I get a pack of five peanuts.
  5. I remember what it was like for me to go to my very first romance writing conference, RWA in San Antonio, 2014. I was sososososo excited, even with all the above bulls**t at the airport. I was going to a conference of my tribe, my peeps. Women ( and a few men) who loved reading and writing the same kinds of books as me. I can’t tell you how accepted I felt. Probably for the first time in my life.
  6. Now, as I embark on my very first RT, I’m remembering how excited I was at the 2014 time and I can truly say I feel the same way now as I did then! New experience, new writers to meet, new fans to develop, new bloggers to – hopefully – make a  favorable impression on.
  7. So, despite all the complaining in numbers 1-4, I am really happy I’m going on this trip. It’s a long ass haul from where I live to Atlanta, and I’m doing it solo, no hubby-wingman with me, no members of my RWA chapter to sit on the plane and commiserate with. Just me and my laptop…my ipad….my cell phone… and the dozens of books I uploaded to my kindle.

Follow me as I blog and tweet about my RT experience here:  Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

3 Comments

Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, Lyrical Author, Pet Peeves, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

The Art of Packing (for a Conference)

I tend to be spoiled. Yeah, I know: shocker. For someone who spends 94 % of her day in her pajamas with her hair in a messy bun and no makeup, you kinda doubt that. But it’s true.

And it’s never so true as when I’m packing for a trip away from home.

You all know how much I love my home. I rarely leave it – and I know, I just know, that sounds weird, but it’s for no other reason than I love to just sit and read or write during the day and all my friends still work at outside-the-home-jobs. I just happen to work inside my home.

Anyway…back to packing. Because I’m home all the time I have everything I need and want surrounding me, so it stands to reason when I go somewhere for a day or two or seven, I take all the stuff I love with me.

Yeah. I’m that girl.

The one who packs more toiletries than clothes, more shoes than underwear, more accessories and makeup than will be needed, just because I want to make sure I have everything, everything, I could possibly need.

For my very first RT conference next week, I’ve just started packing and already I’m having anxiety sweats. Not only do I need to bring enough clothes for 7 full days – and probably 2 clothes changes per day because of themed parties in the evening – since this is a reader’s conference basically, I need to bring swag. A lot of swag. More swag than I’ve ever traveled with before where I had to actually get it all on the plane.

Plus, I’m doing an independent book signing on Sunday so I have to bring copies of my Wild Rose Press book(s). On the plane. In luggage. Luggage the airlines now weigh and charge you for.

See my dilemma?

How can I possibly bring all that swag PLUS the necessary stuff I absolutely need like my makeup, toiletries, clothes, shoes, laptop, electronics, etc? I’m traveling alone, no hubby wingman to help, so that means I not only have to pack all that stuff, I then have to schlepp it through parking lots and airports all by myself and keep track of it. ( Did I mention that I’m really spoiled?)

Arghghgh. Well, back to the problem, I mean, packing. Wish me luck.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

Getting ready to Rock and Roll; #RT2017 #ConferenceTime

 

In a few days, I’ll be leaving for Atlanta for my very first RT BookLovers Convention. For those who don’t know, RT (Romantic Times) is a major romance industry trade magazine – now e-zine -and every year they hold a conference that is attended by almost 600 romance writers and thousands of romance readers. This is, for lack of a better phrase, a totally READERS convention, whereas RWA is more ( I think) of a writers conference.

Anyway.

This will also be the first time I am doing a book signing for my new publisher, KENSINGTON/LYRICAL and I simply can not wait. For years I attended book signings as a reader just so I could meet and totally fangirl my favorite authors. This year — I am that author. It still amazes me daily to say and write that.

In addition to the Kensington signing and author meeting, I am also taking part in the grand book signing for the event. I received the floor plan for this and has luck would have it I am at a table right by the entrance, not tucked away in a back alley somewhere. Yowza!!! Now I know I don’t have a big name – or even a little one – yet and that any “fans” that attend will not be looking for me per se, but it would be nice to sell a book or two and garner a few new readers and reviewers, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’ve never been to Altanta but I’ve heard it’s a fun town and I know the RT gurus have planned numerous day and night trips in addition to all the themed parties for everyone, so I’m sure to be able to find something to do. My day is jammed packed with scheduled classes and meetings already, and I know pop-up events are a big thing at this conference, so I’ll be adding to the list daily.

And, of course, I’ll be blogging and live tweeting about it, too, so stick around and stay tuned.

in 2014 I attended my very first RWA conference. I got a book deal at that one and made the decision to retire to devote myself to writing full time. I’ve never looked back, so it will be interesting to see what this conference hold for me.

While I’m in Atlanta at RT you’ll be able to find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

1 Comment

Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Editors, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Netgalley Reviewer, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, Uncategorized

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

So, Dancing with The Keene Stars 2017 has come and gone and this year was one that will go down in my memory banks and diary as one to remember for the rest of my life. For so many reasons.

Project Graduation is an event held in our town’s high school the night after the kids graduate. And yes, I did just call them kids. They are. All under legal age, mostly 17 and 18. And what do 17 and 18 year old kids like to do to celebrate, test boundaries, and prove their cool factor is off the charts? Some drink and/or engage in illegal drug use. Project Graduation provides every single graduate a safe haven for the entire night after graduation, and engages them–not in illicit, illegal behavior — but good, fun, funny, and memory making behaviors with their fellow graduates. It is a smoke-free alcohol-free, drug-free night where the kids (!) are locked into the high school and not allowed to leave without a parent picking them up and escorting them out. Keeping them off the streets and at parties where they could get into potential trouble is one sure fire way of keeping every graduate alive to get to the next stage of their live. In the 100 days between high school graduation and college start-up more kids this age die in alcohol and drug related ways than at any other time. That pre-frontal cortex of theirs hasn’t fully developed yet, so they still make stupid decisions thinking they are sound ones. Project Graduations helps keep this number down with a goal toward eliminating it from the statistical curve.

Now. PSA complete. Back to DWTS.

I saw my first DWTS show four years ago when it was brought to my town as a fundraiser for Project Grad, and I wanted to participate within the first 10 minutes of the show. I actively – and I mean ACTIVELY pursued a spot on the next year’s roster and was -Yippie- given one! I was a STAR! I thought I knew how to dance before being picked. Yeah…not so much. The 8 weeks of preparation were grueling and oftentimes frustrating. I’d just undergone surgical removal of a melanoma from my stomach and was in constant pain, worried about my deep incision line, and frustrated because I wasn’t doing well in practice. When all was said and done, I loved the experience.

The next year I was a judge.

This year I was partnered with a STAR and the Gods above gave me the perfect one. I call him my brother from another mother, although in truth I could have agewise been his mother! We were in sync from the first 5 minutes of meeting. Every rehearsal was a shear joy – physically testing – but shear joy.And when all was said and done, we came in first place both nights!

The backstage moments of the competition, though, are the memories I’ll cherish the most. All 20 dancers formed a solid wall of friendship and camaraderie, knowing we were doing something good for the community and for our kids. I met community leaders I’d never met before and found some true, lifelong friends among them.

Volunteerism is a facet of this country that more people aspire to than actually engage in. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of not knowing where to go to offer your time, your money, or your expertise. I’ve always thought that to have a strong community, you need to be engaged in that community, so ever since my daughter started school I volunteered for room mother, snack mom, to be a chaperone on trips, etc. She’s been out of the house for 10 years and I still feel a responsibility to my community to give back. Participating in annual 5ks for local charities; attending auctions to raise money for school upgrades. Heck, even saving the box tops on tops of cereal boxes all contribute to making my community a better, safer, healthier place to live and grow. Hence, Dancing with the Stars.

So. I said this last year when I wrote my after-dancing blog experience and I’ll say it again this year: VOLUNTEER. There are so many opportunities within your community to make a difference. And believe me, you may not think you’re making a big one, but you are. For me, keeping that one kid who had the idea to go to a graduation party, drink, and then get behind the wheel of a car to head on home off the road makes a huge difference. Just think of all the people effected if he crashes and dies: his parents and loved ones, friends, anyone else involved in the crash and their loved ones and friends, the response teams, medical personnel and grief counselors pulled in to care for the survivors, and the kid himself who has just now lost his future. All because he wanted to go to a party and celebrate his high school graduation and didn’t make wise choices about drinking.

If I am asked to perform or judge next years’ DANCING WITH THE STARS fundraiser for our town high school, you can put money on the fact I will say “Hell, yeah!” Whether I dance, judge, or just sell tickets, it will be one of the highlights of my year.

When I’m not dancing you can find me here:

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Author, community advocacy, Contemporary Romance, Dancing with the Stars, female friends, Friends, Life challenges, Project Graduation, Strong Women, Uncategorized

Story inspiration; #MFRWauthors #BlogChallenge Week 14

 

Everywhere I look I find inspiration for stories. It doesn’t take a great deal of action or thought on my part, actually. I’m a naturally nosey person and I tend to eavesdrop on conversations that don’t involve me; watch strangers interact with people when I’m shopping; I even pay attention to how people react with one another when I’m on line in the grocery store. Little snippets of conversation, a careless wave of a hand while someone is speaking, and I’ve got a story jarring to be told shooting forth from the back of mind.

Like I said, I’m nosey. Not in your face ask you a million questions nosey and annoying, but I’m the kind of person people – strangers – talk to. I’ve got “that kind of face” I guess. Really, I could talk to a rock if I needed to. And it would probably answer back. This makes me sound like a harpy or a gossip, but I’m not. I don’t go forward and seek information from people – it is divulged to me willingly and without my asking. And just BTW, I’m that gal who people trust with secrets. So…just saying.

So, my writing process starts with people. I see people ( Now I sound like an M. Night Shamylan movie!), I watch them, and I build stories around them. Character always always always comes first. My husband has commented – frequently, I’ll add- that I tend to stare at people when we’re out in public, like at a restaurant or when we’re traveling. Some of my most influential character descriptions have evolved from watching how people behave when they’re on an airport check-in line. Think about the last time you traveled and were waiting….waiting…..waiting on that check-in — and then the security — line. You will see all kinds of human behavior just chockful of character insights.

So. First I see a person, imagine them as a character, then give them an imaginative ( my imagination) background. From there, a plot will form.

Here’s a quick example – and this really did happen. I was mall shopping one day and decided to have lunch so I hightailed it to the mall Pizzeria Uno. Love their grilled chicken salad. But I digress… As I was waiting for my lunch to arrive my eyes took a tour of the other lunch patrons. I saw this: 3oish man and woman across from me. Their body language said they were involved in some kind of an argument – he kept drumming his fingers on the table, she was looking down at her drink, a scowl on her face. They were dressed in business casual, so I assumed they were on a working lunch break. Here’s the snippet of conversation that drifted my way once my salad came:

Him: you need to deal with this. Today. Don’t waste any more time.

Her: Stop pressuring me. I’ll get it done. Just back off, will ya?

Him: Stop being such a bitch about it and just take care of.

So. What did I learn from this conversation? Nothing, really. But my mind went into hyperspace and overdrive at all the options available. Was she a whistle blower? Was he a corrupt banker? Was she pregnant and he was her baby daddy and her boss? Her married boss? Were they doing something illegal? Immoral? Unethical? Dangerous?
See? This is how my mind works.

Now, in all reality, they could have been a young married couple who were still waiting to get their cable television system installed and he was getting mad she hadn’t called the cable company to light a fire under their installing asses. Who knows?
My point is, this is how my writing process works: see a person, imagine them as a character, devise a back story and then a plot for them.

Easy peasy, right?
Yeah…not so much. But it is fun people watching!

 

Since this is a BLOG HOP, click on the titles/names of the authors below to find out what their writing process if like. You put 1,000 writers in the same room and you’ll get 1,000 different responses!

11 Comments

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