Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Saving Summer

Yay! School's out, no more teacher work days, and soccer is over (at least for another week or so). This is me doing a happy dance:

And then it hit me. I'm not free to do what I like. I have kids. Two of them! 

Can't write because the kids alternate between being wound up and thoroughly bored. Can't relax because daytime TV is seriously lacking in the quality department. Can't clean because a) hubby took vacation time and b) the two small beings who live with us have turned into whirling dervishes destroying everything in their wake. 

So what's this teacher~writer~mom to do when school's out?  GET EVEN. 

This summer I'm getting smart. I'm putting my teacher training to good use and setting up . . .  (cue melodramatic super villain music) . . . 


Each pint-sized human who lives under my roof (myself included), has one of these lovely forms posted in their bedroom. It's a thing of beauty, ain't it?

No TV time until their morning routine has been completed and verified by me. They each must be showered, deodorized, and have shiny teeth and an even shinier bedroom before they receive any electronics time. For additional electronics time, they may do a math assignment on the computer via TenMarks, read a book for 30 minutes, force mom to exercise, and do extra chores around the house (like feed Igor, our ofttimes slightly neglected tortoise). 

Surprisingly, all has gone well so far. No big complaints from either small humanoid AND our house is pretty well clean by now. They ask prior to turning on  the television or vegging out in front of Mindcraft. Better yet, when I say TV off . . . they do it! Without whining! How great is that?

And, as if that wasn't enough . . . 

To help avoid all the annoying questions I get a million times a day, such as . . .

"Where're we going today?"
"Can we go to the ice cream shop?"
"Are we gonna do anything fun?"
and my personal favorite, as it always comes at 8 a.m.,
"What are we having for dinner?" 

I posted this sign right outside our bathroom. Now the kids know exactly what's on the docket for the day. Only problem is, now they bug me about when we're finally going to run our errands.

Summer's only just begun but I have high hopes I'll survive. With my new routines in place, I just might tackle every task on my house repairs chore list AND still have enough time left over to finish writing Assassin P.I. 

So what about all you moms and dads out there. How do you survive summertime with your kids? Any tips you care to send along? 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Romance Weekly: #LoveWriteChat

It's time to get chatting with your favorite authors about what else? ROMANCE! Each Tuesday, you can join in the conversation as a slew of romance writers spill the beans about their lives and their craft. You can also follow us on Facebook and on Twitter by clicking on the links. And, don't forget to enter our contest before you leave.

If you hopped on over by way of Katie O'Conor, welcome! This week's questions come to us courtesy of author Jami Denise.

When writing your novel, do you know how it’s going to end before you write, or do you write from start to finish?

Let's be honest. Of course I do. Romance books must end with a satisfying Happily-Ever-After (HEA) kind of ending. Or at least a HEA for now ending. It's kind of expected. There's nothing worse than getting invested in a fictitious love story only to have it end with a polite hand shake as the two lovers part ways. Ugh. Talk about pent up sexual frustration!

For the most part, when I begin writing I have a general idea of the story's framework in mind. I might have a clear idea of the ending scene, but how I manage to get there is anyone's guess. For example, with Assassin P.I. I know there will be a big shoot-out at the end. I can even visualize the action of the scene, along with the accompanying soundtrack and foggy setting details, as it plays out in my mind. But I have no clue how my characters get to that scene, that specific moment in time. I have to write the story from start to finish to figure that part out. 

How do the people you know impact your writing? Are you influenced by friends and family for your characters? 

No way! I value my life far too much to risk it.

I'm afraid I'm wouldn't alter my characters enough and then I'd be left with a room full of pissed of friends and family members. It might make for some very tense moments at the Christmas dinner table. No, thanks. I'm much safer playing with all the characters who inhabit my imagination.

Describe the hero in your current WIP in three words.
Only 3?! You're killing me here, Jami. I supposed Jack from Assassin P.I. could be described in 3D's. He's a DANGEROUS yet DEBONAIR ex-DETECTIVE.  And with a bit of luck, time, and a better work ethic, I just might finish this WIP by the end of summer.

Forgive me while I go slink back into my writing hole. I promise to reemerge in time for next week's #LoveWriteChat. While I get my butt back in gear, I want to introduce you to author S. C. Mitchell, whose novel, Son of Thunder took 2nd place in the FUTURISTIC-FANTASY-PARANORMAL-TIME TRAVEL category of the 2014 WisRWA Write Touch Readers’ Choice Award Contest

Scoot on over to S. C. Mitchell's website to see how he tackles these same three questions. See y'all next week! Oh, and don't forget to enter our blog hop contest

Monday, June 16, 2014

Super Dad

I hope you all got the chance to spend some time with the fabulous Fathers in your life this last weekend. I spent the weekend at yet another soccer tournament with my family. That makes for a grand total of 5 tournaments over the past 4 weekends with 2 different teams. Just in case you were counting. Lord knows I am! 

While I enjoyed spending the weekend with my husband, who just happens to be a fabulous father himself, I missed seeing my own father on Father's Day. If you've followed my blog for a while, you may know how close I was to my mom before she passed away a year and a half ago. But she wasn't alone in raising me and my three siblings. She had a bit of help from my dad.   

Mom & Dad ~ photo taken by me ~

Dad's a good ol' country boy. Born in a farming town, Dad's idea of mowing the grass was to plow it under with a tractor we had sitting around. As a former cop, his green thumb feared nothing. He tackled snakes with the same finesse as he did with pesky gophers. 

And boy, did he have a sense of humor. My older sister loves to tell the story of Dad taking her to school dances in the back of his black and white patrol car. Thankfully, I was spared the same horrifying social death. By the time I was born, Dad had retired and gone back to work as a truck driver. 

Looking back on my childhood years, I've come to understand just how spoiled my little sister and I truly were. My parents doted on us, so much so that we were convinced Mom and Dad would be terribly lonely if they didn't have one of us with them at all times. Come Saturdays, when it was time to run errands, my sister and I would split up. One went with Mom and the other with Dad. My poor parents never had a free moment to themselves. 

About 12 years ago, Dad had a debilitating stroke which left him permanently paralyzed and suffering from dementia. He'd already had 3 heart attacks and a triple bypass. Before Mom passed, we really thought we'd lose my dad. He'd been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and his health, what was left of it, was rapidly declining. Within less than a two week span, Dad improved and Mom suddenly was gone.

Though he now lives in a convalescent home, and has no memory of my mother's passing, I am grateful everyday that he is still in my life. He constantly supported my many crazy artistic endeavors and instilled in me a true love of learning. He, alongside my mother, kept me grounded in a time when it could have been very easy to let my whims carry me away.

I will forever be grateful to my father for making me who I am today. Thanks Dad!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Romance Weekly: #LoveWriteChat

Welcome back! Sorry I've been such a slacker recently. School and soccer have been sucking up all my time. Both are just about over as of this weekend, so I promise to be better next week. This week's questions come from Kim Handysides, and boy, are they good. Let's jump right in. 

1.  What’s your ideal: alpha or beta and why? 
Yikes! You mean I have to choose between them? Can't I just have one of each? Or how about both traits all rolled up in one hot guy? 

In my experience, both literary and real life, every man believes he's an alpha male . . . even when he's not. Take this cute guy for example. He looks tough but would rather roll over and let you scratch his belly than take down an intruder.

Usually alpha males are swoon worthy, make for a hot date, and even hotter sex. I love a tough guy who's in control but has a heart of gold. His people skills might need to be spit shined on page 1 of nearly every romance book I've ever read, but by the end, he grudgingly does the right thing and turns out to be a big ol' softie. Alpha males make for the best book boyfriends. 

But in reality . . .

Beta males are the ones you want to marry. There's a lot less stress and jealousy involved. As an added bonus, they typically go out of their way to keep their woman, and/or family, happy. Fortunately, I married a beta. Just don't tell him that. He thinks he's the alpha in the relationship. Gotta love the man. 

2.  Do you have a male buddy or mate you use for confirmation or inspiration when crafting your heroes? 
My next hero, Mateo, will be loosely based on a male friend I recently reconnected with. He's a hot military guy with a very romantic heart. Think 6 pack, tattoos, and sultry smile. Mateo will be a wounded ex-Marine who tries to throw his weight around in all the wrong places. Sophie, the principal of a local school, won't back down and orders Mateo to serve something even worse than detention . . . community service at her middle school filled with rowdy, hormonal pre-teens. Will hormones get the best of Mateo when placed in close proximity to Sophie? Can she heal his wounded heart?

Beyond that, no. Even asking my husband to read my manuscript is embarrassing for me. 

3.  What does any hero have to do to win your heart?
I'm a total sucker for a rough around the edges hero with a strong protective nature. Any man who rescues a woman or a child is a good guy in my book. Then again, I am a romantic at heart. I love reading stories about cowboys, and guys with a badge. Who doesn't like a hot guy with a crooked smile and a dirty mind?

Next up on your weekly blog hop is Jeana E. Mann. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Romance Weekly: #LoveWriteChat

Writers, especially of the romance variety, can be an interesting breed. Just how different are we? Keep on reading to find out!

For those of you who are new to the Romance Weekly blog hop, each Tuesday a rowdy horde of romance writers spill all the intimate details about their writing process.  This week's questions come from Victoria Barbour. If you found me by way of J.J. Devine, welcome. I hope you'll enjoy your stay.

Alright, it's time to dig in and get our hands dirty. You ready? Me, too!

Question #1:  Have you always written Romance?
Actually, no. I have dabbled in writing short plays and stories for kids. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing at the time, and have some pretty hefty edits to make before any of those stories see the light of day again. 

My mom was the one who encouraged me to write romance. When I was a teenager, vacations were filled with camping, fishing, and reading. Dad and my sister fished while Mom and I read. As soon as my mom was done reading her book, she'd shout, "DONE!" and chuck her romance book at me. It became a contest to see who could read the fastest. She really fostered my love of reading, and later writing. Over the years, Mom  dropped not-so-subtle hints that she thought I should try my hand at writing a romance story. I supposed she figured I'd had enough disastrous romantic mishaps of my own to keep me writing for years to come. I guess Mom's always do know best, huh?

Question #2:  How do you deal with critiques about the romance genre?
Shortly after I published Redemption For Liars, a female co-worker and I somehow found ourselves on the topic of romance novels. She was telling me that her friend had been reading "one of those trashy smut books". 

I had to laugh. "You do realize that I write those trashy smut books, right?"

She looked completely baffled. "No, you don't. It's not the same thing."

But it was. Call them what you like: smut books, trashy stories, or bodice rippers, I'm proud to call myself a romance writer. 

Question #3:  What’s the one thing about our genre you’d like people to know?

Writing well is tough to do. But writing romantic suspense is downright damned hard. Don't believe me? You try developing two different main character POV's and their love saga, and then balance that with a villain and his/her mystery or suspense plot. Two different story arcs have to be seamlessly woven together so that one can't exist without the other. It ain't easy!  

Even simple story lines take a ton of work. The amount of research, world-building, and character development can be a daunting task. It's not as simple as just tossing two characters together to see if they fall in love. There has to be some semblance of believability to it, which can be tough to do. Every detail has to be thought out and then worded just so. Women want to feel as if they are the one falling in love, like every feathery kiss is igniting their own skin. They don't just want to get to KNOW the main characters, they want to BE the main character. 

You know, now that I think about it . . . In a roundabout way, we keep wives horny and marriages together. No need to cheat when you can read a book to get the same feelings! 

Ok, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but there's got to be some sort of statistics out there to back me up. 

Well, that's it for today. Come back next week for another healthy dose of Writer's Weekly. Up next on the Blog Hop is Eden Ashe. Oh, and don't forget to enter the Romance Weekly Giveaway for a slew of prizes, including a Kindle Fire preloaded with a ton of free e-books for your reading pleasure. Click on the link below to enter.