Monday, May 30

One more day

by Liz Flaherty 


Pretend if you will that today is May 29 instead of the 30th. Because the 29th is the 45th anniversary of the day Duane--also known as the boyfriend, the roommate, and "honey"--and I got married.

We were 23 and 21. He was just home from Vietnam and I was a single mom long before it was fashionable. I used to say my son did the actual proposing, because the second time he met Duane, Chris spouted "dadadadad" and took off walking. He was 10 months old and quite capable of choosing his own father, thank you very much.

Two more children followed. We were like a lot of other couples from our generation. We raised our kids and worked the same jobs for 30-plus years whether we liked them or not. We bought our second house in 1977 and we're still living in it. I'm pretty sure my melamine early-marriage dishes are still in a box in the attic.

We worked different shifts for years so that the kids usually had an available parent. It was lonely then, and hard, being married but alone. The kids played sports so that we spent years on the bleachers. They went to college, married the people who became three more kids of our hearts, and offered up the Magnificent Seven, our grandkids.

We've had days and nights and years of laughter. He's the biggest supporter of my writing career and I'd rather hear him sing and play the guitar than anyone else. We can finish each other's sentences, feel each other's pain, and say "I love you" just by having our eyes meet.

But I still hate that he loves TV and is a terrible listener. He still hates that I'm a marginal housekeeper and totally incapable of mowing grass in either a straight line or an elegant curved one. We've had snarling days of not liking each other, silent days of not liking each other, days when the only reason we were married at all was because our kids thought of us as a unit. We've been bored sometimes, we've been mad, we've gotten imaginary divorces on our long separate drives home from work, but when we got to the house we were so glad to see each other we thought we might as well stay married at least one more day.

Oh, yes, one more day. Thank you, Lord, for one more days. It's been 45 years of one more days. It is those days and the moments within them that are the true definition of Happily Ever After. I am grateful, I am blessed, I am lucky. I get to spend my life with my hero and he gets to spend his with me.

I'm aware I wrote about the Happily Ever After last week and that I said Happy Anniversary to Duane then. You have my apology for repeating myself, but not really. I will never tire of reading and writing Happily Ever Afters. Or of living one.

Have a great week.


Saturday, May 28

Jumping into the Abyss – or becoming a FT writer

The Wranglers are happy to welcome author Zoë Mullins to the round corral this weekend.

I think I knew as soon as my first book was published that I couldn’t do two careers well. Either my writing suffered (because I can barely produce one book a year with my current job) or my work would suffer – and I couldn’t let that happen.

Nearly a year into the business of being a published author I gave my notice. This day has probably been a lifetime in the making, but never think it was easy.

In preparation for this, I spent the winter developing my strategic plan. That includes just what you think it might.
       ·         Vision
·         Purpose Statement
·         Goals and objectives
·         Critical Success Factors
·         Marketing Plan
·         Timeline/Schedule
 
For instance, one of my goals is to branch out into other genres – not that I don’t love sexy contemporary stories meant for 18+ – but I equally love cozy mysteries, and paranormal romance. I have never written a cozy mystery but I have two full-length paranormal manuscripts ready for editing. That’s the easier genre for me to go after this year.

One of the most important parts of the plan, for me, was the last point – the timeline. If I’m going to be writing more or less ‘full-time’ then I need a way to hold myself accountable. It’s too easy to let yourself off the hook. You are your own boss – you need to know when to crack the whip.

In addition to the strategic plan, I had to think about three other things. 
      ·         What was I willing to sacrifice to make this happen? Whether that’s a winter vacation or a weekly latte – I know there will be a time that I need to go ‘without’.
·         What’s the contingency plan? I have transferable skills and used to run my own consulting business. I am starting now to put the word out that I’d be looking for some freelance work to supplement my meager literary income.
·         And finally – who will be my support team? This may be family, friends, fellow writing colleagues. It’s important to have people to reach out to when you begin to doubt yourself. These are the people who will make you leave your office for a coffee, and just as likely to remind you to get back to the job of writing and get off of Facebook. 

Having thought about all of this, doesn’t make the decision any easier. There are still plenty of days when I wonder what the heck I was thinking, but you can’t let yourself or others talk you out of your dreams. If you want something, you have to go after it, and trust that, to paraphrase the poet Max Ehrmann, the world will continue to unfold as it should. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

About Zoë Mullins

Zoë is an Atlantic Canadian author of contemporary, historical and paranormal romance. After two decades of working in corporate communications, Zoë decided to refocus on the kind of writing she loved – steaming hot romances with strong, independent heroines.  When not at her desk or with her laptop in the gazebo, you can find her at her spending time with her husband (of nearly 20 years) and their three K9 fur-babies. Zoë has had two books published over the last year – Winning Cait and the latest Tempting Sophie, as well as a novella A Risk Worth Taking. 

Zoë’s latest novel, Tempting Sophie, is an erotic romance. Though definitely meant for those 18 and older, Zoë believes that even the sexiest scene has to move along the plot or reveal something about the characters. In Tempting Sophie, we have a woman who felt like there was very little in her life that she was in control of except her sexuality, then cancer threatened even that. She retreated into herself and pushed away the people, the man, who loved her. The story explores what those who love her are willing to do to get her back.   

If you want to learn more about Zoë and her works, check her out at:

Twitter: @zoe_writer 


Buy Links:

Ellorascave.com
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Kobobooks.com
Barnes & Noble
Allromanceebooks.com

Friday, May 27

Make-up and Monikers

So, I’ve started wearing makeup again after a long hiatus. Make-up had been part of my daily routine off and on throughout my life, but when my hubby told me “Why do you put that stuff on your face? You’re beautiful without it”… Well, I was perfectly happy to reallocate those ten minutes toward sleep.

That was several years ago.
Not me. But you get the idea :-)

Recently, I’ve been trying to reconfigure myself, for lack of a better term. I’m trying to eat better, exercise, style my hair instead of just pulling it back with a clip a-la high school, etc. So adding makeup back in to my make-me-the-best-me-I-can-be program seemed like the adulting thing to do. I’ll confess, it’s taken some getting used to. I cover my face with foundation to even out my ruddy complexion and hide the little varicose veins on my cheeks, only to have an even-toned stranger staring back at me in the mirror. I apply eye liner and mascara, and suddenly there is a sultry-eyed vixen with lashes a mile long. Then I swab some colored gloss on my lips, and look out Jennifer Aniston, there’s a new gal on every man’s list! (Can I get three snaps in z-formation, please?)

However, that new gal isn’t me. Well, she is me, but I don’t feel like her. Not yet anyway.

I’m going to have to wear my new face for a while before it feels natural. Before I’m accustomed to the new and improved me. And I was surprised the new me has been met with a bit of resistance by my family. Hubby didn’t notice the new look at all, until he caught me washing my face one night and wondered what I was doing. When I explained, he asked me why I was doing it. When I explained, he looked askance and muttered something about okay if that’s what I want as long as he can still kiss me without having to taste a bunch of icky make-up. *eye roll* Don’t you worry, Romeo.

Then my children looked at me and asked (with no little amount of alarm) why was I wearing makeup. When I explained, they didn’t seem convinced and said beauty comes from inside. Though I was thrilled to hear my own words to them repeated (thus proving that they actually listen to me sometimes), I tried to point out that women of a certain age can benefit from the beauty-enhancing properties of makeup. They still didn’t seem convinced, and the next morning exclaimed, “You’re still wearing makeup?!”

Still? No, this is a new application of makeup for the day.

*huff* You’re pretty without makeup, Mommy. (Bless their hearts.)

Again, not me. But all Romance Writers are this
glamorous and gorgeous, aren't we?
I’m writing this because I see some parallels between my attempts to redefine my looks and what some might experience when defining (or re-defining) themselves as romance writers.

While my family has been nothing but supportive on the romance-writing front (case in point: kiddo told teacher “My mom isn’t one of those ordinary moms. She’s an author!”), the concept of being a romance author still took some getting used to, much like my new face. The mantle of “romance writer” can feel awkward at first. Even among my very supportive and welcoming fellow romance writers, it took a while before I felt comfortable with the term. Before I was confident that the term “romance writer” didn’t need to be followed with disclaimer words such as “hack,” “wanna-be,” or “poser.”

When I finally decided it was time to go public with co-workers about my writing proclivities, being a “romance writer” was again nerve-wracking and awkward. And I don’t blame this entirely on the “romance” aspect of my writing, even though we romance authors can experience our fair share of condemnation from misinformed observers. No, my nerves were a result of the inherent vulnerability which comes from letting everyone in on a very personal, meaningful aspect of my life, and hoping they don’t condemn or mock my art, my heart. The “coming out” turned out better than I had feared, and I am now more comfortable wearing that moniker… so much so that I barely pause before I claim to a stranger “I’m a romance author.”

So, like wearing a new hairstyle or new clothes—or makeup—wearing the title “romance author” isn’t always an instant fit. But that does not mean you should shrug it off and walk away. Keep trying, and it will soon fit you like a worn pair of shoes (or mile-long eyelashes)!

Thursday, May 26

The Ice Cream Cure

 
by Margie Senechal
 
Yesterday, I had a killer headache. And that got me thinking about ice cream and the role it played in my childhood.

The first thing you should know is my Dad loved ice cream. Often at night, he had a small bowl--as he was diabetic--before he went to bed. He ate mostly vanilla but there were times when he'd have me or one of my sisters run down to the nearest DQ. Peanut Buster Parfaits all around.

My first actual memory of ice cream was when I was around six and we lived in Norfolk, VA. My dad was in town and we walked to an ice cream place. And I say my dad was in town because for the two years we lived in Norfolk, he spent more time at sea than actually being stationed on base.

I ordered a strawberry cone. It was probably the first time I'd had anything other than chocolate or vanilla. And remember, I'm old so this was before Ben and Jerry's. When I bit into that cone, I bit into the biggest frozen strawberry ever. And from that moment on, strawberry ice cream was my favorite. However, I never relived that experience and no other strawberry ice cream ever lived up to the memory of my first cone.

After Virginia, we moved to Iceland and I don't remember ice cream at all there. Oranges with sugar, yes. Icelandic pancakes--aka crepes--yes. Fish, yes. Lobster for the first time, yes. But, no ice cream.

Two years later we returned to the states and settled in Washington State following my dad's retirement from the Navy. I was nine and a half when we moved to Vancouver, sandwiched between my great, great aunt Marge, and my maternal grandparents. Ice cream for us was the common denominator. 

If we wanted to get Aunt Marge a treat, it was a banana split. Grandma and Grandpa almost always had ice cream in their freezer--however, you wanted to get to it before it developed the "protective ice coating". In the summer, Dad broke out the cranking ice cream churner and made homemade ice cream.

During awards season, Dad made us chocolate malts with Breyers Ice Cream--after their debut--and Carnation Chocolate Malt mix. I still do that with my girls. It's tradition, after all.

And the ice cream truck. My sister, Debbie, and I spent our summers outside. There were times we--and our neighbor and bf, Louise--were at the top of the cherry tree and we'd hear that beautiful song. We'd send Deb to stop the truck while Louise and I went to our respective houses to grab coins. Eighty percent of the time we'd come up empty as our families didn't have a lot of spare change lying around. By the end of the summer, Popsicle Joe sped down our road going about eighty to avoid being stopped for nothing.

And now finally, I come to the Ice Cream Cure. I don't remember how this actually started, but sometime during our childhood, Dad told us that ice cream cured headaches. 

So, whenever we wanted ice cream--especially if we were in the vicinity of O'Brady's or Travel Burger--both now defunct, but back then they had the best and biggest twist cones--someone came down with a head ache.

And yesterday, as I was leaving to take Jordan to the Humane Society where she volunteers, Mike told me to grab an ice cream sandwich for my headache as it was the only ice cream in the house.  Dad would be so proud.

Wednesday, May 25

Peek Into Billionaire Cowboy 2!

It's release week again, WordWranglers! The second book in my Billionaire Cowboys trilogy (Connor and Miranda's story) released on Monday!! That's the cover over there. Isn't is a little bit sexy and dangerous and ... pretty? I love it because it says Las Vegas to me...and you guys know my love for Vegas!

The trilogy is set in Las Vegas (naturally), and the characters split time fairly equally between the Rocking R (the brother's ranch) and their downtown Las Vegas businesses.

And here's a fun thing: to celebrate the release of book 2, you can pick up the first book, What the Bachelor Gets, for only 99 cents for a limited time!

Buy What the Bachelor Gets: Amazon  B&N  iBooks

Here's a little peek into What the Heiress Wants:

She tidied the break room and rinsed out the coffee pot. She went to her office and filed her copies of the new designs. She flicked off the light. Put her fingers to her lips.
She could still feel him against her. The firmness of his mouth, the feel of his tongue in her mouth. How her breasts had flattened against his chest, and the way the hair at his nape tickled her fingers. At least twenty times since last night, she had pushed thoughts of the kiss away, and they kept coming back.
It will fade. The memories will fade with time.
It had only been one day. A volatile, dramatic day. And, really, her reaction to that first kiss was likely rolled into his asking her to help with the redesign. His acceptance of the new health plan. For the first time, someone was taking her ideas seriously. That someone had kissed her. It was all related.
Wasn’t it?
Through the thin pane of glass in her office door, she could see Connor’s closed door. He would still be in there, working. There was one way to figure out if her reaction to his kiss was based on physical chemistry or on his listening to her ideas and treating her as an equal.
Miranda swallowed. This was a very bad idea.
She needed to know.
Before she could talk herself out of it, Miranda marched across the hall and opened Connor’s door. He still sat at his desk, tapping away at the keyboard. She didn’t give him time to react. Miranda walked across the room, turned his chair to face her, and put her hands on either side of his beautiful face. His blue eyes widened in surprise, and his pupils dilated. Her palms tingled.
And she kissed him. His lips were firm against hers, but for a split second he only sat there, as if stunned. Then his arms wound around her waist, and he pulled her down to him. Chest to chest, sitting on Connor’s lap, Miranda sank deeper into the kiss. She put her arms around his neck. He traced the line of her jaw with the tips of his fingers.
Miranda opened her mouth to him, and Connor pushed his tongue inside. He tasted like pizza and soda, and Miranda thought it was the headiest combination she might ever experience. She leaned her head back, and his mouth found the sensitive spot beneath her chin as his hands began playing along her ribs the way they had played against the keyboard a few minutes before.
Sensations zinged along her nerve endings. Connor’s hands at her ribs. His mouth on her throat. She could feel the bulge of his erection beside her hip. It was a powerful feeling, knowing she had this effect on him.
The phone rang, and the sound was like a bucket of icy water from Lake Mead being thrown over her head. They were at work. He was her boss. He controlled her employment, her salary, nearly every aspect of her life in Las Vegas. This was inappropriate on so many levels.
Miranda pulled back, putting a few scant inches of space between them. “This wasn’t a good idea.”
“It certainly wasn’t a bad one.”
“No.” She shook her head and motioned her hands between them. “I thought maybe my reaction last night was a combination of you validating my ideas and the late night dinner.”
“It’s called chemistry.”
She couldn’t have this conversation still sitting on his lap. Still feeling his hardness against her hip. Miranda stood and then smoothed her hands along her skirt. “Regardless …” She backed away until she felt the doorknob at the small of her back. “You said it was my decision. And my decision is that this shouldn’t happen again. I’m sorry.”

You can pick up your copy wherever ebooks are sold: Amazon  B&N  iBooks KOBO