Thursday, February 8, 2018

Something's been bothering me...

A few days ago, I was chatting with a friend of mine and mentioned that I'd joined a new group on Facebook.  We talked about it for awhile, the pros and cons of being a member, and then I mentioned the name of the organizer.  My friend's reply was that she'd heard from so-and-so that the organizer is not a nice person and I should be careful in my dealings with this person.  My immediate response was "Thanks for the head's up."

I'm ashamed of myself.

My immediate response SHOULD have been - "Thank you, but I reserve judgment until I get to know someone."  Because I do.  I appreciate my friend's concern.  She's looking out for my best interests.  It seems that nowadays, especially on social media, you can't be too careful with whom you interact.  And, I've dealt first-hand with some who've turned out to be less than good people - in my opinion anyway, though plenty of others would dispute my viewpoint.  Hell, there're even some out there who don't like me!  I know, shocker, right? 

But it seems that, as a society, we're quick to form our opinions based on how someone else thinks or feels about the subject.  And that bothers me.  As my mother can attest, I don't like anyone telling me what to do or how to feel or what to think.  There's a reason I'm an indie author.  I like to make my own decisions, even when they come back to bite me in the ass.  I'm not disregarding the wisdom of paying attention to a cautionary tale, but I do believe we should form opinions based on first-hand knowledge.

Another shocker - we aren't perfect.  There's not a single one of us out there who hasn't made a mistake (or two, or twelve) at some point in their life.  A mistake that hurt other people, whether by chance or intent.  A lapse in judgment for which they are trying to make amends.  We all want a second chance, don't we?

Maybe this person did do the things being talked about.  Maybe it was their intention to deceive.  Maybe they're a nasty person.  Or, maybe, it was a misunderstanding, poor communication, or they just plain got in over their head.  I don't know.  I wasn't there.  That's not the point.  The point is, we should each form our opinions based on our own experiences and interactions.

Think of the worst mistake you've ever made in your life.  Is that one transgression how you want others to view you for the rest of your life?  How you want them to talk about you to their friends?  I don't.

This isn't a post in defense of that organizer.  As I stated, I don't know the person, have had zero interaction with them, had never even heard the name until I joined the group, and, to be honest, may never get to know them.  But until that person directly harms me or someone I'm close to, I'm going to reserve judgment on their character.  It's how I want others to treat me.

You have the power to make up your own mind. 

Trust your instincts. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

It's that time of year...

I've lost people in my life.  Both sets of grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, and more furbabies than I can count.  But none have affected me as deeply as the loss of my father.

It'll be six years mid-February since my dad died.  Six years since I've heard his voice or felt his arms wrapped around me.  No...that's not true.  Dad visits me once in a while in my dreams and there are times, I swear, that I feel him hug me with the same strength and love he possessed when he was alive.  I love those dreams, for I truly believe his spirit is dropping by to say hi.

The man Dad was made me the woman I am.  His strength, his perseverance, his affinity for animals, his smile.  I miss him so damn much!

Some years, the anniversary of his death doesn't bother me much.  Oh, sure, I get a bit teary, but I'm able to go about my business without too much emotional upheaval.  Others, like this year for some reason I cannot fathom, send me into a tailspin. 

I'm moody, depressed, sad beyond belief.  I've been dreaming of him almost every night for more than a week.  Is he trying to tell me something?  Convey some message he thinks I need to know?  I'm listening, Dad.  I am.  Or has he merely stepped up his visits because he knows I'm having a hard time of it this year?

Dad died before I began writing.  He never had the chance to hold one of my books in his hand or read one of my interviews.  For those of you who don't know, my pen name is a tribute to him - his first name is Raymond.  Also, Abby's Heart is dedicated to him, as I released it on the second anniversary of his death.  My dad is so much a part of my writing life and I can only hope that I've made him proud.

I love you, Dad, and I miss you so much!  Thank you for being the person you were and for being such an influential part of my life.  You were a good teacher, an incredible role model, and a great friend. 

You still are...

Monday, January 15, 2018

On writing authentically...

I've read several posts and articles lately suggesting that authors should be 'writing for the reader' and letting reader expectations dictate the plot of the story.  Now, I don't discount the importance of keeping readers happy.  Without them, our books would be nothing more than words on a page.  What I disagree with is the notion that authors have a responsibility to pen their stories following trope-specific guidelines, and never veer from the script.  How boring!

The way I look at it, I owe my readers an engaging, entertaining story; one that elicits feelings of joy and doubt and suspense and love (in the case of my romances).  But I also owe them something else.  Honesty.  They deserve to know that the words they're reading came from the depths of my soul, not from some how-to manual on writing the perfect book.

It's okay to shake things up, take a chance, go in a different direction with your manuscript.  Will some readers hate it?  Possibly, but let's be honest.  Does every single reader out there love what you write anyway?  Judging by the 1- and 2-star reviews on some of my books, that would be a HELL NO!!  Do you run the risk of alienating readers by writing authentically?  Of course, but see my first question.  It's impossible to make all of the people happy all of the time, so take risks, take a chance, write in a new direction rather than writing to the market.

Now, before the comments start rolling in that I'm trashing other authors, let me be clear - I'm not.  I believe, and have always believed, that each writer should create the storiy that speaks to them.  It's not my place to tell anyone what words they should or shouldn't send out into the universe.  Lord knows, I don't let anyone tell me what mine should be.  But I hate seeing new authors who've yet to publish ask for advice and be told "you should be writing X, Y, and Z.  That's what readers expect."  How about giving readers something they don't expect?  Some twist that only you can devise because it's part of who you are.  Stop trying to make your books be exactly like all the others out there and rather let the words flow through your soul to the paper (or keyboard, or dictation device.  You get my point.)  Be you.

One thing I've never been successful at is conforming to - well - anything.  My historical western romances aren't historical enough.  My contemporary romances are neither sweet nor erotic.  None of my books fall squarely into a specific genre, and while that presents a challenge finding readers, I'm satisfied with the stories I've told.  They are exactly what they're supposed to be.  Mine.

Stop worrying about creating the story readers expect.  Instead, give them a story that they'll love because it came authentically from you.  Be bold with your words.  Be confidant that what you write will find an audience.  Love your words because they truly are a reflection of you.

Now, go write that book!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Redefining the term 'blue-haried old lady'...

There was a time in society, in my lifetime, as a matter of fact, when it was unheard of for a woman over the age of 50 to dye her hair electric blue.  Come to think of it, it wasn't that acceptable for women under the age of 50, either.  I'm so glad those days are over!  One of the things I enjoy about growing older is how the norms have changed - for the better, in most cases.  But even if society (or my peers) have a problem with it, I don't really give a damn, because I've decided life's too short not to try new things.

I've wanted to dye my hair blue for a few years, but I refrained.  One reason was due to my upbringing. (I can't imagine either of my grandmothers sporting a non-conventional 'do, although I think they both would've rocked the look!)  The other was how I viewed myself as an adult.  I told myself it was silly; dyeing my hair one of the colors of the rainbow was something teenagers do, not mature women.  But you know what?  I'm still going to be 50 if my hair is blue or brown or silver or if I'm bald, so what in the hell am I waiting for?

As you can see by the pic, I was conservative with my dyeing endeavor.  The color is subtle.  There are two reasons for this.  One, I didn't want to do too much until I could see what it would look like.  And, two, I'm too lazy to bleach my hair first.  The dye would've shown up a lot brighter if I'd followed that step.

It's okay, though.  I'm happy with it, and, next time (yes, there will be a next time) I'll make the effort to strip some of my natural color from my hair before beginning the dyeing process.  Or wait for more silver to grow in.  Either way works for me.

In the meantime, I like my new look.  It makes me feel rebellious!  I know, I know, it doesn't take much. lol.  Hey, at least it's not permanent like a tattoo!

So, which term are you going to redefine in 2018?  Time's not going backwards, you know.  We're all getting older, whether we want to admit it or not.  Might as well try something you've always wanted to do.  It's okay to start small.  You can't get much smaller than a half dozen, 1/2 inch blue streaks in your hair.

Maybe I'll go with purple next time...

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018, oh, how I've yearned for you! 

As years go, 2017 wasn't all that terrible, but it also wasn't the best on the books.  So I'm viewing this new year with high expectations.  Time truly does go by in the blink of an eye, and I need to make the most of it.  For instance, it seems only yesterday that I embarked on this writer's journey of mine when it's actually been more than four years.  I loathe thinking that another four will go by leaving me to wonder if I could've made better use of the seconds, minutes, hours each day bestows upon me.

I have big plans this year.  Huge plans.  Epic.  And I'm determined to accomplish them.  Better yet, I WILL accomplish them!  Because the sand is slipping through the hourglass faster than any of us imagine, and in a heartbeat, I'll be looking back on my life, evaluating the choices I made.  I don't want 'wasting time' to be one of them.

Don't wait to live your dream.  Take the first step.  Set things in motion.  Get the ball rolling.  Whichever idiom works for you, use it to take charge of your destiny.  Your life won't change overnight.  It might not even change much in four years.  But the time will go by anyway, so you might as well spend it working at what you love most.

Here's wishing everyone realizes their dream in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


I'm excited to announce the release of Under the Mistletoe, the final book in the Celebration series.  For those of you familiar with the town of Celebration, this is Frankie's story.  For those of you unfamiliar with the town and its residents, think Christmas Hallmark story! 🎄

Frankie Denton liked his life exactly the way it was.  As the owner of a successful auto repair shop, the idea of adding a wife and kids to the mix never crossed his mind – until the day the sassy redhead he’d met at a friend’s wedding informs him she’s pregnant, a result of their one-night stand.  Resolved to do the right thing, nonplussed when she declines his marriage proposal, he sets out to prove he’s not only husband material, but father material as well.

After spending an exhilarating night in the arms of the sexy mechanic she met in Celebration, Roxie Malone discovers she’s expecting.  Embracing the prospect of motherhood, determined to raise the baby on her own, she’s shocked when Frankie steps up, demonstrating time and again that he’s eager to be part of their lives.  But she has first-hand experience that fathers don’t always keep the promises they make, and she’s hesitant to put her trust in a man she hardly knows.

Frankie has a lot to contend with in order to win Roxie over; a jealous friend who wants to marry her himself, a complication with her pregnancy, and a misunderstanding that threatens to drive them apart permanently.  Faced with the possibility of losing the family he never knew he wanted, he scrambles to find a way to convince her they should be together.  With Christmas just around the corner, will he get the gift he wants most?

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Frankie, Roxie, Joe, Monica, Loren, and Madison, along with Fran and Bill, and Celeste, are some of my favorite characters I've written to date.


Get your copy here, and thank you for your support.

Until next time...

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Writer's block - the truth is out there...

I've read several pieces lately discounting the authenticity of a phenomenon known as writer's block, the authors of said blog posts and articles stating emphatically that no such thing exists.  That's fair.  Those authors are entitled to their opinions on the subject. 

Here's mine...

My definition of writer's block is when I, as the author, am no longer able to advance my storyline. There may be several reasons for this.  I may have lost my 'train of thought' in regards to the direction I was heading with my story.  I may be experiencing outside stressors that have absolutely nothing to do with writing (health issues affect me this way a lot).  I may be grieving over the loss of a pet, or worried about how to pay an unexpected bill, or preoccupied with an upcoming event.  Whatever the reason, the words stop coming.  This is my writer's block.

I read one post where the author suggested writing anything to keep up the flow, it didn't matter how bad it was.  I read another where the author recommended writing a grocery list to keep the momentum going.  Yeah, well, I hate to tell you, jotting down that I need to pick up fabric softener the next time I'm at the store doesn't give me the a-ha moment it apparently does for some.  When the words stop coming, that's it.  There're no more.  I can sit and reread my manuscript over and over, but once the spark's gone, I've found there's nothing I can do except wait for my battery to recharge.  And you know what?  That's okay.

 I wrote my first book in 18 days.  I had a few moments where I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with the story, but I figured it out rather quickly and continued on.  My second book was written in 22 days.  Again, a few hiccups but nothing that shut down the word factory.  My third book...oh, well, that's when I got my first taste of writer's block.  It was frustrating.  No; it was infuriating!  I knew I could write, I knew what I wanted to have happen in the story, but my creativity dried up.  The words I typed were nonsense, not advancing the plot in the least, and I began to doubt what I was doing.  I mean, wrap it up, call it quits, never type another word again, doubt.  I cried; I cursed; I tried to force the words from my brain.  Nothing worked.  Then one morning, I woke up and it was as if the skies had cleared.  I was full of ideas, and better than that, I was full of words; words I couldn't get down on the page fast enough.  I'd beaten my writer's block!

Until the next book. 

And the next. 

And the next.

For me, this mental absence of creative thought and ideas is something that happens often, no matter how well my plot is thought out.  I become word-stupid, where even the simplest of expressions hold no meaning.  I've learned that the best way for me to overcome this block is to wait it out.  That's all I can do.  Wait it out.  Sometimes, the wait is days; other times months.  I have one manuscript I haven't touched in three years.  I've recently had some brain activity on that one, a few ideas churning about, but I know I'm not ready to pick up where I left off.  Not yet.  What I have done is quit beating myself up about it.  For one thing, it does me no good.  Stress impairs my thought processes regardless of where the stress originates.  Worrying about not being able to write doesn't help my brain reset any faster than it normally would.  And maybe, by not stressing over not being able to write, I'm allowing my cerebrum to find an alternate route around the blockade.

So, to those who say writer's block doesn't exist, my response is this - I'm happy that you're not afflicted by such a debilitating occurrence.  Not all of us are as lucky. 

And to those of you who are - my sympathies.  I've been there and know what you're going through.  Never fear, though; you will get past it.  And it doesn't hurt to try some of the suggestions put out there by the non-believers.  Just remember, what works for one may not work for another.  Of course, there's no harm in writing that shopping list. 

You need peanut butter this week anyway, don't you?