Monday Mayhem – Shake it up!

So…life took a couple of turns for me last week. I turned the first book in the new Play Dates (Kensington/Lyrical 2017-2018) series in to my editor, and, I turned in my two-week notice at the day job.

While I’d love to say I’ll be writing for a living, that’s not the case…yet. What it came down to was the need to make a choice for happiness. And, extreme caffeination. For that reason, I chose to try something new. I’m going to work for our local Coca-Cola distribution center.

As Fodder pointed out, the only job that might have been a better fit for me would be some sort of quality assurance for at Steak ‘n Shake. 😉 Mm. Steakburgers. *sigh* A girl can dream.

This is another big step for me, but one that I think really highlights my evolution through my 40s. I went into this decade of my life with a lot of “somedays” in the back of my head. You know the kind. They sound a lot like, “Someday, I’ll write a book.”

My adventures in publishing have given me so much more than a sense of personal accomplishment. I’ve had to learn to accept and embrace criticism and rejection. I don’t like either of those two, but I can deal with it. And because I can, I now have the courage to make choices based on my potential for happiness.

The main thing I’ve learned in this decade is that life is too short. There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see Someday. All we have is THIS day.

So, do something risky today. It doesn’t have to be big, or life altering, or even thrilling. Just take a chance, make a leap, do something that makes this day different from all the others. If it doesn’t work out the way you hoped, try something else.

Life is a series of chances, not a one-and-done.

The only true failure in life is the failure to make an attempt.

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Monday Mayhem – Missing you

I wrote the big mother/daughter relationship post last week because I knew I couldn’t do it this week. Today, I don’t want to dissect my relationship with my mother.

I just miss her.

This is the rough week.

On February 8th of last year, we lost Jewels’ mom and our friend, Joyce.

My dad passed away on February 9th, 1998.

Saturday, February 11th will mark one year since my mom went to join him at the big cocktail party in the sky.

Yeah…I’m not a big February fan in general.

Luckily, a snafu in scheduling and some other real life distractions will keep me busy, so I have the perfect excuse to hole up for a few days.

So, go call your mommy or daddy, if you can. Kiss your loved ones. Cuddle a puppy. Or kitty. Or bunny. I’ll be back next week, and we’ll muddle through the rest of this month together.

xoxo

Mags

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Monday Mayhem – Our heroines

Most women share a common source when it comes to learning what it means to be a woman – our mothers. In some cases, we learn by example; in others, we get a cautionary tale. But all in all, I don’t think there’s anyone who has more of an impact on how we are shaped than our mothers.

I look like my father. Same eyes, nose, chin, and mouth. Same sinuses. (Thanks, Daddy.) Robert E. used to like to say I was created in his image. But there were times when he’d look at me, shake his head, and say, “How can anyone who looks so much like me, act so much like her?” My mother and I shared the same sort of no BS, straight-to-the point attitude toward life. And we weren’t shy about expressing our opinions – popular or not.

Last February, one of my best friends and I lost our mothers within days of one another. Julie’s loss of her mother, Joyce, was shocking and untimely.

Julie and her mom were best friends. They told one another everything, hung out like girlfriends, and were squarely by each other’s side at every twist and turn. They were pals. Just like Lorelai and Rory…the early days.

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After suffering debilitating strokes and all the accompanying complications, my mother’s passing was one of those heart-breaking blessings.

Suzanne and I were not like Julie and Joyce, or even Lorelai and Rory. There was definitely more of an Emily and Lorelai vibe, minus the overt animosity.

We didn’t talk about anything personal, if we could help it. But that didn’t mean we didn’t love each other. In a weird way, it was just the opposite. Mostly we kept quiet to protect one another from being confronted with things we did not need or want to know. Things that would worry, upset, or hurt the other.

I don’t think people ever quite get over losing a parent. We lost my dad 19 years ago, and I know we all still miss him deeply. But mothers and daughters…there’s no human relationship more complex, more fraught with pitfalls and packed with joy, than the constant push-me-pull-you that goes on between mothers and daughters.

No matter how old we are, we will always, ALWAYS, have moment when we wish we could call mom and ask her what to do. It doesn’t matter if nine times out of ten we went out and did the exact opposite of what she advised. That’s what makes the mother-daughter dynamic the relationship most worthy of ‘It’s Complicated’ status, in my opinion.

Soon, Jewels and I will pass the one year mark since that god-awful week. Since then, I’ve had no less that four other girlfriends lose their mothers as well. Each time, my heart ached.

For them.

For me.

For all the things we didn’t get a chance to ask and all the news we didn’t get to share.

Or not share.

You know, for their own good.

 

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Monday Mayhem – March on

Feminist.

A word that many women, including myself, have been reluctant to own. Over the past few years, I’ve grown more conscious of my own of my place in the world. Like many people who’ve reached the mid-point in their lives, I’ve been examining my priorities, and the impact I make as a woman, as an American, and as a member of the human race.

Though this self-exploration, I became less afraid of calling myself a feminist. I do admit that sometimes I felt the need to add some over-explaination to something that should be self-evident, but I’m making a mindful effort to stop doing that.

Feminists believe that women are equal to men.

Full stop.

Nothing more, nothing less. Equal.

I guess if there’s one good thing that came out of 2016, it’s that women are becoming more vocal in their belief in equality. Others can call us what they want, but we know who we are.

We are women. Some of us are Americans. We are human beings deserving of respect.

I marched here in Little Rock on Saturday. It wasn’t the biggest march to take place, but it was still a hell of a lot larger than the organizers expected. And in a ‘red’ state, no less.

 

It was moving, so moving, to be part of this peaceful and positive assembly.

Best of all, my husband was by my side.

Because the strongest heroes are the ones who know how to love a strong woman.

And if you find yourself mired in the morass, remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

 

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Monday Mayhem – Fresh Starts

I’m still working on finishing the draft of Easy Bake Lovin’ (Play Dates #2), but with the start of the Build a Book 365 day challenge I gave myself permission to play with one of the Silver Fox ideas I have rattling around in my head.

Meet Leonardo Sbaraglia. He doesn’t know it, but he’s currently serving as my hero inspiration. I promise, I will try to do him right. Ahem. I mean do right by him.

Finding photographs of heroes and heroines who fit the images in my head is not always easy, but I knew the minute I saw him, he was my man. More specifically, the man to model my hero, Dominic Mann on.

I’ll be sharing pictures of people who remind me of my characters as the year progresses. We have a lot of books coming in 2017-2018. I hope you’re ready to meet them all!

How about you? Do you picture famous people portraying the heroes and heroines as you read? Care to share some thoughts?

News and notes:

In case you missed it, LOVE & ROCKETS received another fabulous 5 star review! This one from Epilogue Book Blog. Check it out!

Also, GOING DEEP (Coastal Heat #1) and A WILL AND A WAY (Worth the Wait Romance) are both on sale for $0.99! Tell your friends!

Snowed in? Give LONG DISTANCE LOVE a shot. You won’t regret getting to know Jack and Ellie better!

 

 

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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 – First Christmas

I confess, I am writing this post way early. You see, this past weekend was my first Christmas of the season. As I type this, I’m plotting and planning for the 9 hour ride to see my family. Chaos will ensue on Saturday, then we drive back Sunday. I figure I probably won’t have the energy to post when I get home, so here I am, writing like it’s Monday on a Thursday night.

How’s your December going?

Mine has been incredibly busy. Major changes at the day job this month and next month will keep me hopping. I’m also doing the behind the scenes stuff for the Play Dates series starting next fall, and one day hope to actually finish the book I started writing in November.

Oh! And I re-released Long Distance Love! Look at this gorgeous cover. If you haven’t read Jack and Ellie’s story, you need to. Grab your copy today!

Amazon ~ Apple~ B&N ~ Smashwords

Other bright spots this week included some quality time with a dog and her chicken:

And my friend, Kendra, gave me a Tribble!

Okay, it’s just one of those puffy keychains, but I like to think it’s a Tribble. What’s bright and shiny in your world this week?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Eeep! It’s December!

Yeah, so super fast post because it has been a super crazy week and I am super tired. I’ve been keeping up with my #31brightspots, though I admit some days have been a little darker than others. Here are a few highlights:

Long, frustrating day at work, but I came home to this

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Tacos make everything a little better.

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Truth.

Lolled in my warm bed with a hot book on this cold morning. Now, lunch with my girls.

Best way to spend a Saturday morning, in my opinion.

And the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon is with my Diamond State Romance Author pals. Here’s a picture of me and Brinda Berry. I may or may not have been squeezing her knee under the table. A lady never tells.

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And Sunday was spent preparing for Christmas. The house is decorated outside and in. Any my little angel helped his doting granddad put his Great-grandma Willene’s angel atop the tree.

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As I type this, we’re just home from attending a living Christmas tree concert and ready to collapse. That was my jam-packed week. What happened in yours?

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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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