Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lunch Period

You know how it was when you were in high school? You could actually feel wrinkles developing in your brain as you concentrated on what was being taught to you. Or you were involved in test after test without relief.

Until lunch time came.

That 45-minute period was the highlight of the day. You got to eat, first and foremost. Second, you got to socialize with your friends. Third, it was just down time, give your brain a rest time.

That's what I'm about to do. Take a lunch period break. I just turned in book 6 in the Cotillion Ball Series, so while I await a verdict on its outcome, I'm going to kick up my heels for awhile. I've got friends coming into town for several days in May, I've got a chapter conference to go to, which is always a good time to socialize with friends who speak my language. I'm going to eat good food and give my brain a rest. With three books being released so far this year, I think it's time for a break. And having friends coming to visit gives me a really great excuse to clean the house within an inch of its life--something that has been woefully neglected in light of releasing three books in four months' time.

So, if you hear someone giggling manically from the confines of my house, I haven't gone over the deep end. I'm just kicking up my heels.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Symbolism

As a romance writer, symbolism is of tantamount importance. It ties a story together and brings us, and the reader, to a logical conclusion.

Growing up in the Lutheran faith, I attended years upon years of catechism classes, so I'm very familiar with the use of symbolism in the Bible. The Easter story is my favorite. As a child, I thought "If Jesus would only turn his back on the course he's taken, his life could be spared." But then, of course, all the symbolism--the water turning into wine, the never-ending fishes, the stone not being able to keep Him in the tomb--would have been for naught.

I had my own bit of symbolism happen the other day. I had just written "The End" to my next historical. This time it's Rosemary's turn. She's a writer, long before the days of the typewriter, and her ink-stained fingers proved her undoing. With my head still in my story, I had to go put in my hours on my grocery job, which is restocking greeting cards. I went to the designated store, wrote down my start time in the log book, loaded my cart full of boxes from the warehouse, and rolled them to the card section of the store. I cut open the box and started to pull the plastic off the cards when I noticed ink on my fingers. I thought the pen I used to sign in had leaked, but a quick check proved it to be still intact. There was no explanation for the ink being there. Fortunately, the greeting card company had to foresight to provide each of us with a hand sanitizer, so I cleaned the ink off my fingers before I began putting away the cards. But it puzzled me for hours.

When I got home, I realized the symbolism my day had. I can't turn my back on the course my life has taken either. I'm a writer and, even though some parts of it are tedious, the sheer magic of having a story come together is still so cool to me. Rather than having the ink stains be my undoing, they freed me. I'm cutting back even more on my grocery job and will be able to spend more time putting my stories together.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Karaoke Bride

I began writing a guest blog post last week. The question I have to answer is where I write. Fairly simple question, I thought as I began to put my post in order. All of my writing is done in my study. It's a lovely room, and I have a very strict order in which my stories get written.

The better question is where am I when I get my ideas for my stories. Take Friday night, for example. I had written a contemporary about a man who was an ex-bull rider. He had a vintage Indian Chief motorcycle with a suicide clutch stashed in his barn. The person who gave me all the information about the motorcycle is a man who I became friends with forty years after we first met. He still lives in the small town where we grew up and went to school. And I have only one way to get hold of him because every Friday night is karaoke night in one of the local bars in this town. The same people show up every Friday, sit in the same seats, and sing the same songs. I've been dragged to karaoke night a couple times now, and fetched my notepad out from my purse when this man showed me the picture of his motorcycle. I wanted to know everything about it.

The book has now been released. The Road To Comfort features Cyclone Kelley, a man who made his fortune as a bull rider, but at great cost to himself. I have a book signing coming up next month, and thought if I could get a photo of this man's vintage motorcycle, it would make a great postcard to promote the book. My problem was the only way I could get in touch with him was at karaoke night.

So, I twisted the arm of my sister, and voluntarily drove 1-1/2 hours to get to the bar where people sing to canned music every Friday. It was the first time I really wanted to enter karaoke night. The only problem? The bar decided a week ago that karaoke wasn't paying the bills and pulled the plug--literally. There was now no way to get hold of this man.

My sister and I drove around town for another half hour or so, hitting every bar we came to, trying to find where the crowd had now moved on to. I told her it reminded me of when we were in high school and would cruise around town searching for the action. But it was always one step ahead of us, as it was this night. We finally drove home, empty-handed.

Except for a title of a story. The Karaoke Bride. The problem is, it sounds like a paranormal, and that's one genre I don't write. So, if anyone wants to claim my brainstorm of the evening, help yourself. I'll look forward to reading The Karaoke Bride. Oh, and if anyone knows how to get in touch with this man with his vintage Indian Chief, please let me know.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Step Forward?

I finally did it. Bought myself a new computer. The old one still worked, but I spent more time watching the little ball circling around than I did accomplishing actual work. Plus, some of the software programs that were necessary to my job as a writer could not be supported on the old boy. So, a new boy came into the house on Tuesday--another Mac. Since I'd been using a Mac for thirteen years or so, I figured my learning curve would be small.

Boy, was I mistaken. Even though I impressed the folks at the Apple store by knowing the note that chimes when you start up a Mac is G minor, the improvements that had been made to their computers in the past thirteen years boggled my mind. But I brought the 21st century version of Mac home, fired it up and began importing my files from the old boy to the new. That's when the trouble began.

I won't bore you with details. Let's just say I have the Apple technical support team on speed dial. We're becoming great friends. I wonder, in the course of our conversations, how many times they roll their eyes at my inane questions.

I'll get it--eventually. I'll be able to retire the old boy to the closet in a fitting ceremony, remembering all the stories we created together, raising glasses of champagne as he exits the position he's held for years, front and center on my desk. The new boy, all sleek and shiny, with a retina display and  memory to spare, will start behaving himself and become my friend. The Apple people themselves say "Sometimes to take a major step forward, you have to completely change direction." So, I took them at their word, and plunged myself, and my work, into this decade. We're still a work in process.

But, in my moments of frustration this past week, I wonder--Did I take a giant step forward or two steps back?