Sunday, January 21, 2018

Plot Twists

Lacey London, best selling British author, recently posted this quote on her Twitter page. I think it describes my life perfectly.

So, I'm moving on. The actual move part of the equation didn't go exactly to plan, but Mary and I made it through the snow and right now are scouting out homes in North Carolina. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of upending my life, I'm calling the experience "research" and I'm sure bits and pieces of it will show up in my writing from time to time. 

On to my next adventure!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

One Last Kick In The Teeth

As a native Ohioan, I thought I knew everything about snow when I was growing up. But I was away from Lake Erie when I lived here in my youth and had not experienced lake-effect snows. Here's Wikipedia's explanation of the phenomenon: Lake-effect snow is produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when a cold air mass moves across long expanses of warmer lake water, warming the lower layer of air which picks up water vapor from the lake, rises up through the colder air above, freezes and is deposited on the leeward (downwind) shores.

To say my move didn't go according to plan would be an understatement. My movers decided to delay my departure by a day, and then waited until the snow really began to come down to start packing. I had a premonition about this and booked a room at a nearby hotel for the night, but still it was a white-knuckle 4-wheel drive for ten miles.

So yesterday, I decided to take off in the morning, heading out of Ohio and barreling southeast as fast as my car could take me. But Ohio wasn't done with me yet. A band of lake-effect snow hit hard and fast on the Ohio turnpike, cutting visibility down to zero for what seemed like miles. One last kick in the teeth, slap in the face, whatever euphemism you prefer.

After way too many hours in the car, and with Mary faking sleep so she wouldn't have to get out and pee in 16 degree weather with howling winds and snow pelting her, we arrived at my friend's house in Virginia. The first leg of the trip is complete. Where the adventure will take us next is still up in the air. But the migration has begun.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Down To The Wire

How appropriate that my final full week in Ohio paraded temperatures in the single digits. As if I needed a reminder of why I'm moving. Of course, North Carolina got pelted by snow this past week, too, so it's slowed down my search for a new home.

For the moment, and probably for the next few weeks, I'll be a homeless person. Just me and Mary, hanging out in our car and on the streets. No, not really. But things haven't gone exactly as planned. My dad had a saying when faced with adversity. "Everything happens for a reason." I hear his voice every time my plans don't work out and I start to panic at my situation. Everything will work out, and I'll have a wonderful story to write when the time is right.

Which leads me to today's blog topic: Mail Order Brides. Can you imagine the strength of character each of these ladies had in order to even contemplate moving to a strange land, to marry a strange man, and live the remainder of her days carving out a life without the support system of a family and friends? How bad must their circumstances have been to even think becoming a mail order bride would be better? No wonder it's such a hot trope for romance writers.

I feel absolutely spoiled by my change of venue. I can research the part of the country where I've decided to head, visit several times beforehand and take the pulse of the town, even locate new quarters and begin to put down roots. All without the anxiety of having to marry a man I've never met.

Not that meeting a new man is off the table. I am a romance author after all.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Moving Pieces

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know I've been trying to sell my home here in Ohio for quite some time. It all began one snowy night a year ago when a young couple came to my door asking if I was interested in selling. Being young and this being their first attempt to buy, they had not a clue what came next. I got them going in the right direction, but the care and maintenance of a house this size overwhelmed them and they moved on.

The house sat on the market for months and occasionally I got a nibble. Then, a few months ago I had an agent come through who was previewing several homes for her out-of-state clients. I never heard back from her, so I had my agent take it off the market and out of MLS. A few days later, the agent knocked on my door, telling me her clients were flying in that weekend specifically to see my house. So I let them come through, and I'm happy to say they bought the home.

So, two times I've had total strangers come to my door to inquire about the house. The beginning and the end. Kismet, I'd say.

Where to go from here is a giant puzzle I'm trying to come to grips with now. I was headed down what I thought was a solid path, but it blew up on me a few days ago. So now I've decided to take my time, rent an apartment for a couple months, get to know my new town and then decide which direction I should head.

Why am I telling you all this? I'm glad you asked.

This whole process of selling and buying is exactly how I write my novels. I always have the beginning and the end figured out before I start putting words on the page. The rest of it is where problems begin to develop. I have a modest outline that I follow with my stories, but sometimes I head off in a different direction and have to rein my story in. When I find myself going in a direction and it's not working, I stop, reassess, think things over and come up with a new plan.

Which is where I'm at now with my life. I am stopping, reassessing, thinking things over and will come up with a new plan.

Each time I begin a new story, I'm filled with excitement and hope. As I move through the first draft, I find myself really beginning to care for my characters and the setting into which I've placed them. Now, with my life, I'm also filled with excitement and hope. A new chapter is unfolding before my very eyes, and I'm eager to see which direction I'm eventually going to head.

I'll be sure to let you all know, once the pieces fall into place.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

It's been a fun couple of weeks showcasing my friends' Christmas stories. I'm sure you'll agree that there's been something for everyone. Thanks to all my author friends for sharing and my hope for each of them is big sales in their stockings in the coming year.

Since I feature my siblings so much in my Sunday blogs, I thought I'd end the year by showing you what we all looked like on Christmas morning, 1955.
I'm the one holding my head. Rather appropriate, I'd say. Pat's got her back to the camera, the twins, Buzz and Sherrie, are the babies, and Cathe's on the couch. It's funny how little we've changed since then. 

Unlike the past Sundays, there will be no promotion of Christmas titles today. It's a time for getting together with family, for creating memories to last a lifetime, for getting new story ideas from your friends and siblings. I hope each of you has a very Merry Christmas. Get out there and enjoy yourselves!

And, oh, if you need a book for your new Kindle, Winning Violet releases tomorrow, Christmas Day.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

My Christmas Present To Myself

You know how the season can be–filled with buying goodies and packing them into the car for the trip to Grandma's house. Well, I'm doing the same thing, only with an entire house.

That's right. I sold my big old house in Ohio, something I've been trying to do for months. Now comes the fun part–throwing out all those things I have no intention of paying to truck to North Carolina and buying a new home for myself. All very exciting, very exhausting, very worrisome. I'm about to be homeless. Me and Mary on the streets together.

Now is not the best time to be promoting a release, but that's exactly what's happening. The wheels never stop, they just slow a bit with all this other activity. Winning Violet, the first book in my new Regency series, releases on Christmas Day.
Here's a bit of a taste:

Everything’s coming up roses for an English miss and an American gentleman in this delightful new series from the author of the Cotillion Ball saga!

After British soldiers killed his wife and child during the War of 1812, Parker Sinclair vowed to never set foot on English soil. But as Thomas Jefferson’s landscaper, one must sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice. The last thing Parker expects to find is an educated English beauty who can teach him so much more than how to plant a magnificent garden.

An expert at cross-pollinating roses, Violet Wilson’s dreams of becoming the first woman recognized by the Royal Horticultural Society are fading because she’s afraid to leave the quiet solitude of her family’s nursery. Distrustful of men after a traumatic encounter, she’s not keen on disrupting her routine to help the American landscaper, but she soon blossoms under his kindness and respect.

As they fall in love, can this shrinking Violet take the risk of leaving behind all she knows for a new life with Parker? Or is he considering a different ending altogether?

If that's piqued your interest and you want to read more, here's an excerpt:

“Now comes the fun part.” Violet picked a small brush from her apron, carefully wiping it free of any lingering pollen. A blush crept into her cheeks as she explained the next step. “I load my brush with pollen from the Scotch rose and brush it over the sticky surface of the pistil. The sticky part is called the stigma.” With a few deft strokes, she brushed a small amount of pollen onto the plant.

Parker observed her carefully. “I should be writing this all down. Although it’s very similar to humans and how they reproduce, so I get the gist of it.” Her cheeks bloomed even pinker, as he suspected they would. Time to change the subject. “Is that all? One time and done?”
The tinge in her cheeks grew deeper, almost a reddish hue. “Oh no. Once is never enough. I have to stroke on the pollen at least three or four times to assure it’s taken hold.”
“I see.” Parker stroked the leaves of the Lady Banks as his mind conjured up images best left alone. 

Want to find out what happens to Parker and Violet? It's being released on Christmas Day and would make a wonderful gift for someone, even yourself. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

There's Still Time To Order Your Christmas Books--Week Six

Are you getting in the holiday spirit yet? Surely, you need a book or two.  To satisfy all our tastes, I've decided for all of November and December, I'll be featuring some of them here. Your choices today are: something for the dog lover in the family,  a historical romance collection, a war hero contemporary, a slightly paranormal Christmas story and a culinary arts temptation. Something for everyone!

Scrooge & the Secret Santa: Book 4 in the Klein's K-9s Service Dogs series
By Marcia James

Police dog trainer, Patton Carter, has nothing but bad memories of holidays spent in foster homes as a child. When a car crash lands him in the hospital and a knee replacement requires rehab, he hires physical therapist, Faith Harmon, to live in his house over the holidays as a combination therapist, caretaker, and dog-sitter.
As a part-time therapy pet teacher, Faith has had run-ins with the Patton at Klein’s K-9s. But the pay he’s offering for the six-week job is too good to pass up. She agrees to move into his house with the stipulation that he won’t continue to disparage the important work of therapy animal handlers and their pets. She never anticipates that their biggest conflict will be Christmas.
Patton soon learns the difference therapy pets can make in the lives of patients like himself. But will he be able to open his heart to love and the spirit of Christmas before he loses Faith?

Christmas Kisses
Various Authors

Take a break from the hectic holiday season and immerse yourself in historical romance with this collection of timeless Christmas Kisses. From USA Today Bestselling and award-winning authors, this set includes stories by Lana Williams, Elizabeth Rose, Emma Prince, Laurel O'Donnell, Barbara Monajem, Hildie McQueen, Amanda McCabe, Anna Markland, Eliza Knight, and Catherine Kean.

A Hero Grinch For Christmas
By Samanthya Wyatt

Dani will not allow The Grinch to hide from Christmas. She will cure Hunter of his nasty mood, even if it kills her. But who will save her from his passionate kisses.

War hero, Hunter Armstrong, has seen enough devastation to last a lifetime. At the end of his latest Army term, he accepted his discharge papers and never looked back. His uncle’s home is tucked away in the majestic mountains, a perfect place for him to hide from Christmas and his own memories. But he can’t hide from the delectable Dani. The last thing he needs is a female in his life. But this one has the face of an angel and eyes you could drown in.

Dani Wimer left the Colorado Mountains and relocated in the bright lights of New York City. Every December she returns to the village of Wyattsville. When a hunky military guy enters her aunt’s shop, he seems lost and angry. His scowl is intimidating, but that doesn’t bother the spunky girl who celebrates the holidays like it’s Christmas every day. She decides to put a smile on his Grinch face and ends up losing her heart in a passionate whirlwind.

Wrapped Up In You
By Erin Bevan 

Princess Jenny Claus has thirty suitors to choose from to take on the role of Santa and her husband, and only three weeks to do it. When an outsider crashes into and destroys the toy factory, her Gala and the prospect of Christmas for children everywhere are ruined.

Logan Moss awakens from his plane crash, suffering from partial amnesia. Surrounded by a world he always considered make believe, he has a hard time accepting his new surroundings. Except for one snow princess who he’s deeply fascinated with. And when Logan realizes she only has three weeks to pick a husband, he begins to feel compelled to be that man. Problem is, he can’t remember if he has a wife.

With Christmas getting closer, Jenny has to make the hardest decision of her life...duty or love.

Believe in My Heart 
by Maria K. Alexander (a Tangled Hearts standalone novella)

This holiday, love is on the menu.
Culinary arts student, Hope Mastriano, is down on her luck. Homeless on Thanksgiving Day, she’s caught trying to break into her cousin’s apartment by her sexy boss and lifelong secret crush.
Since getting dumped seven months ago, head chef Vinnie DiFrancesco has been in a frustrating holding pattern. He returns relaxed from a retreat, but his life is sent into a tailspin when he offers Hope, the event coordinator at his family’s trattoria, temporary housing. 
With the trattoria’s traditional Italian Christmas Eve charity dinner slated to be featured on a local TV segment and things heating up in his apartment, the two must set aside their different visions to make the event a success. When a computer glitch threatens their plans, Hope proposes a risky solution. Vinnie must believe in Hope and his heart in order to secure the future of the restaurant and make it a Christmas to remember.