Monday Mayhem – My stories, at the core

Last week, I asked what you expect when you open one of my books. Your responses were so moving. Thank you. You let me know that I am indeed already hitting some of the key points in what I want to write.

I spent a lot of time in 2016 examining my work, and trying to identify the elements I think are essential to what I wanted to say – what’s known as a writer’s core story.

(This may freak those of you who know me out, but I’m posting a picture of fruit:)

Trying to suss out one’s core story it a little like nibbling at an apple (or so I hear). I started with reviewing some of my books and works in progress as a whole, then began to examine certain elements in small bites. When I got down to the center, I had a better handle on the parts that were so important to me that they re-appear in novel after novel.

Here’s what I think my core story is:

Heroines: Powerful, independent, unapologetically sex positive, and feminist. Their journeys mostly involve examining, adjusting, and reestablishing their expectations of life and love.

Heroes: Confident and strong, but not the stereotypical Alpha male. They appreciate complex women and are up to the challenge.

My emphasis is almost always on character growth and reinvestment in themselves. In my books, women are not always relationship seekers and men do not necessarily flee from commitment.

Humor will always be an important part of my writing. I require moments of it in all forms of entertainment – even the most gut-wrenching dramas. To swipe a quote from Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” It’s true. If I can move a reader to one or both-or even at the same time-I consider it a win.

So how did my vision match up with your expectations?

Well, we got the humor bit down. A couple of you mentioned tears, strong heroines, and guys who are up for meeting their match, so I must be doing some things right.

This is the interesting thing about being a writer. The themes we tackle in our work grow and evolve as we do. If you’d asked me in 2011 if I considered myself a feminist, I may have hemmed and hawed a bit, shying away from the label. Now, I wear it proudly. Sex-positive? I never really thought much about how we view and judge female sexuality. The norms and constraints simply were what they were. Yeah, um, no.

But we’ll talk more about those topics in another post.

My point is, life is all about evolution. Conscious or subconscious, I’ve been seeing some shifts in my own work over the last year or two. Thanks so much for your replies last week. Your feedback is vital to me. After all, I’m telling these stories in hopes that you will connect with them.

As we type, I’m working on a few different things. I have sent the first book in the upcoming Play Dates series to the fabulous Julie Evelyn Joyce for critique. I’m inching my way toward the end of the draft on book #2 and hope to have it done by the end of the month.

Just for fun, I’m participating in a 1 page per day challenge for 2017, and for that I’m playing with something entirely different. There are a bunch of current and aspiring authors participating. It’s not too late to join in. There’s also a super secret Facebook group where we babble about what we’re doing. If you want to participate, tag me. 🙂

So now you know what I think I should be writing. This time I’ll ask a different question: How do you think I’m measuring up? Are there areas where you (as a reader) think I’m falling short? Maybe one or two where I hit it out of the park?

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Monday Mayhem – Hello, December!

Well, here we are! It’s December. NaNoWriMo #8 is in the bag, and the 1st draft of Play Dates #2 is 4/5+ done!

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I started tracking my #31brightspots this week. I’ve been sharing them on Twitter and FB, but here are the highlights so far:

12/1/16 Walking in the door and hearing this guy squeal, “Moogie!” Day = made. #31brightspots

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12/2/16 – Fodder got me Labrador socks! Now he’s taking me and Sally to Sonic! #31brightspots

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12/3/16 – “Writing” at Panera with Kim Ward McPhersonParker KincadeLacey Thacker Meislohn, and Brinda Berry. My bright spots for today! #31Brightspots

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It’s not too late to join in. Just pick a bright spot (no picture required) and share it with the world!

Now that we’re into December, I’m in full blown planning mode for 2017. I’ll probably be doing some updating around here, so if there’s something you would like to see from me, please let me know!

Happy Monday, my friends! Hope you have so many bright spots it’s hard to choose!

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Monday Mayhem – Thankful

It was Thanksgiving in the States this past Thursday. If you read the news (and my Twitter feed), you’d think that there was little to be thankful for in America, but I think we can all agree that the media skews things a tad, right?

Right.

Yes, there are things happening that no one likes, but there are so many more things happening that are good. Family and friends spending time together, neighbors helping neighbors, and all of the many, many blessings that we enjoy – food, shelter, clothing, Netflix, bubble baths, nacho cheese Doritos, books…

The month of November was a rough one – I won’t deny that. There’s an ever-growing cadre of us who believe all of 2016 can go and stuff it now. I even gave up putting slips of paper in my happiness jar sometime around April. It wasn’t that good things weren’t happening. It’s just that they kind of got buried under the headlines.

But I’m going to try to go out on a high note. I have until Wednesday to squeeze in my NaNoWriMo numbers. I’m over 45k as of this writing, and should be able to make it again. If I do, I’ll post my winner-winner-chicken-dinner badge here next week.

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The end of NaNo means Thursday is December 1st. Yeah, I know, duh. But this is the last month in what many of us consider one of life’s crappier years, so I’m going to try to see it through as in the same way I hope to start 2017 – full of positivity.

For the month of December, I’m going to try to write one happy/positive thing down each day. Doesn’t have to be anything big or monumental, just bright spot. When I prepare this post on Sunday evenings, I’ll update you on what I’ve collected, then put it all together in the end. I may even tweet a few, just to counteract all the other stuff in my timeline.

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31 days of bright spots. Should be totally doable. I bet you can too. Who wants to play along?

P.S. In case you missed me blabbing all over the place – LOVE & ROCKETS released last week. Please read. Please review. Please tell your friends to do the same. *puppy dog eyes*

P.P.S. I can’t even with the Gilmore Girls yet. Still processing so much of it, but let me just say: Like Lorelai, I’m happy. So happy I haven’t even had a single fanfic idea. Thanks for making my life easier, ASP! *ducks and runs*

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Monday Mayhem – A positively Gilmorian giveaway

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I’ll LOVE & ROCKETS ya, tomorrow! It’s only a day away!

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Can’t wait for you to get to know Darla and Jake better!

In the meantime, I am still toiling away at the NaNoWriMo goals. I’m up to date and should finish on time. I have to admit, it’s been hard this year. The day job is super busy. As you know, there’s some birthday-ing going on around here (Fodder’s is tomorrow! Tomorrow! I’ll Love & Rockets him tomorrow!), there’s Thanksgiving on Thursday, and the year’s most anticipated event on Friday.

No, I’m not talking about Black Friday.

No, not even thinking about the (so-called) Battleline Rivalry game between Arkansas and Mizzou.

I’m talking Gilmore, and you know I am talking fast.

That’s right, this Friday, my pal Lulu and I will be snuggled in on my sofa with a smorgasbord of junk food, ready to live a year in the life with our beloved friends from Stars Hollow.

I CANNOT WAIT!

To celebrate, I’ll offer a little prize. Comment on this post with your favorite line from Gilmore Girls (any episode, any season, any character) and I’ll draw one name for a signed copy of LOVE & ROCKETS.

Did I mention that Darla is a spunky single mom of a brainy teenaged daughter? No? Yeah, well, you know how it is….

Now go forth and comment! I’ll pick a winner Friday, November 25th!

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Monday Mayhem – It has begun

Here it is, November again. That means it’s NaNoWriMo again!

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This is my 8th go-round with NaNo, and each time it proves to be a formidable foe. This year, I’m working on book #2 of my new Play Date series (working title: Easy Bake Lovin’)

I’m just over 12k in and cruising right along. Check back with me in a week or so, I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune by then.

I love this challenge. It’s crazy and it’s a killer, but there’s nothing like chasing a number.

Wish me luck!

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Monday Mayhem – News edition

So, I’ve been sitting on this for a couple months:

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Official Announcement
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Unofficial-but-fun newspaper headline

That’s right! NaNoWriMo is about to start and I’m heading back into the cave to start work on book #2 in this series!

So if I don’t see you… Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll be back next Monday with an update!

Have a great week!

And Happy Halloween from my tiny-face pumpkin, Pumpito!

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Monday Mayhem – Deep Fried Edition

It’s Sunday evening. We’re just home from the state fair. Every thing I have eaten today has been deep fried or smothered in butter.

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Welcome to October in the South. This is my true love, turtle funnel cake.

We did visit the Rabbit Exhibition, but did not bring one home with us. While it was wonderful to pet those twitchy little noses and rub soft cheeks, we still miss our TimBunny. It’ll be a year this week, and he’s still the most troublesome pet we’ve ever adored.

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I’m enjoying my October downtime, but now that we’ve passed the halfway point in the month, I’m starting to ramp up again. I’m revising book one in The Series Yet to Be Announced, and playing with character worksheets for the project I hope to take on for NaNoWriMo this month.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting very still, popping Tums like candy.

Happy Monday to you all!

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Monday Mayhem – Sprinting

It’s going to be a bust week!

First off…did you see this?

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Pretty, huh? Mark your calendars for April 4, 2017 or pre-order now at your favorite e-tailer!

Secondly, FLIP THIS LOVE is on sale for $.99 this month!

Nothing draws a magnate like a steel magnolia...

Third – I’m giving away this adorable journal to one of my newsletter subscribers. If you aren’t on my list, enter your email address in the space on the sidebar >>>>>

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FOURTH!!! I’m sprinting to hit deadlines this week. I’m polishing up RANSOMED HEART (Silver Foxes #2, 2018) and scrambling to complete a novella for submission. Wish me luck!

And fifth – If I’m not downing a fifth of something boozy by the end of the week, it’ll be a miracle.

How about you? What’s happening in your corner of the world?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Fielding curveballs

So yeah, busy, busy week!

Received first round edits on A BOLT FROM THE BLUE from editor and she LOVED it! Yay! Always such a relief. Particularly this time, because I had to turn this story around so quickly. The only other person who has seen it is Jewels, and we all know she’ll say anything for a PayDay bar.

As with every manuscript, I had one word in particular I abused until my intrepid editor screamed for mercy. This time, I was enamored with the word ‘it’. We won’t talk about how times I had to rework it.

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The back cover copy isn’t officially official, and there’s no cover art yet, but here is a sneak peek at what they’ve cooked up so far:

True love, like lightning, never strikes twice—or does it? 

As a free-spirited young woman, Hope Elliot was desperate to escape her snobbish high society family. So she ran off to Paris, where she lived for twenty-five years. Now widowed, she’s come home to settle her family’s massive lakefront estate. But before she can put her mother’s house on the market, it needs a major renovation. Enter master electrician Mick McInnes, a traditional guy who’s about to turn her life upside down . . .

Aside from the fact that Mick is hopelessly attracted to his latest client, Hope represents everything he doesn’t want in a woman. She’s ridiculously rich and adventurous, yet she doesn’t seem to know much about the real world. Besides, his policy is to never get involved with clients. But he can’t seem to resist the Chicago heiress’s sizzling advances—and soon enough finds himself in her bed, feeling like a teenager once again. And like teenagers, the two of them will just have to convince their families that opposites can not only attract, but they can also make the perfect match . . .

Then Wednesday, the big news about my new deal with Sourcebooks broke in Publisher’s Marketplace:

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Whoo hoo! Danny and Kate will be coming to you digitally and in mass market paperback next fall! Just in time for college football season!

While I was celebrating the announcement, I couldn’t help thinking about how happy my mom would have been to hear that some of my books will be shelved in brick and mortar stores. Thursday marked six months since her passing, and while I try not to dwell on sadness, I’m all too aware that I am still grieving.

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It has been quite a year. More downs than ups. It seems that all year long my family and friends have been dealing with hefty doses of sadness, topped with mountains of worry. But through it all, we laugh and tease and do what we can to lighten the load a bit. There are days, and then there are days, you know? But, as Mom would have reminded us, this too shall pass. On her repeated instruction, I’m trying very hard not to let my little heart grow weary.

Throughout the week, I’ve watched the Olympics. While I’m not crazy about NBC’s coverage, I never tire of hearing the athletes’ stories. I have also been working on a magazine article and a short story I hope to submit for an anthology. It’s a bit of a cat and mouse caper, and I hope it plays out well.

This week, I clean house because company is coming! Be on the lookout for photos of our antics next Monday!

What’s on your agenda this week?

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