Adventures in Dressing Myself

It's the time of year when I go on a hunt for the perfect dress to wear to the Romance Writers of America RITA awards ceremony (kind of like the Oscars for romance writers).

So far, I've stuck to solid colors, kind of a plain-but-dressed-up-with-jewelry style. 

Here are pictures from the three years I've gone with my fabulous writing tribe:  Roni Loren, Jamie Wesley,  and Genevieve Lynne

2012

2012

2014

2014

2016*

2016*

*You see that thing in Roni's hand? That's a RITA! Because she's awesome. 

**We all have weird smiles in this one because the hotel dude didn't seem to be able to work a phone camera. 

This year I wanted something a little flashier. Maybe a little more daring (at least for me.) So, I ordered this dress. 

This is not me. This is some awesome model. 

It came in yesterday. It has more gold on the roses than I’d like and I was worried it might be a size too small. But, it fit well, hid my tummy, showed off my legs. Everything I was looking for in a dress except when I pulled it down over my chest, I noticed that it “accentuated my assets" a little better than I'm normally comfortable with. It accomplished this with a thin band that should have been at my waist but was across my rib cage, making each breath an adventure. 

 I modeled it for my older teen first (who is the resident fashion guru). She gushed about how cute it was and how flattering. She liked it so much, I was debating how much I enjoy breathing and if I could make it through a few hours without doing that. I mean, when a fifteen year-old compliments your style, you got to consider your options. 

I had her unzip the back (ahhh, oxygen!) and made my way back to my room. 

At this point, I discovered a universal truth about tight dresses and large chests. Pulling something down is much easier than pulling it back up. 

I couldn't push the whole dress down because it's fitted and wouldn't stretch over my hips. I couldn't pull it over my head because, well, there were obstacles. 

Basically I ended up with the dress half over my head, trying to squish and pull at the same time. All while having panicked thoughts of being trapped in the dress forever or, at least until I lost consciousness from lack of oxygen to my brain, which might have been slightly irrational. 

It probably looked very much like this, just without the frogs. 

It probably looked very much like this, just without the frogs. 

 I  was already picturing being cut out of my fashion choice by paramedics when  I heard my youngest daughter's voice.

"Mom, are you okay? Do you need some help?" 

Bless you, child. Bless you

I held things in place while she pulled it over my head as if I were a two year-old. 

So, if you see me at RWA this year, please, please say hi! I love making new friends, will probably talk way longer than I should and will be happy to pose for a picture in my nice, safe, plain dress that won't attack me after the RITA ceremony. 

How he won my heart with a hammer...

My Prince Charming

What makes a moment romantic?

                 If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably already heard this story. I like to telling it again around Valentine's Day to remind everyone that romance isn't all chocolate, lingerie and semi-precious stones. It's about listening and showing your love, even if it involves household tools.

                  Despite appearances, the picture above is FAR from one of our most romantic moments. Some day, if you have a few hours and enough money for margaritas, I will tell you about that day and the unromanticness (Yes, it is a word. I don't care if the rest of the world doesn't acknowledge it). No, our most romantic moment involves a hardware tool and my soon-to-be husband was nowhere in sight.

                 I met my husband two weeks after I moved to Texas. We met at a church we were both visiting for the first time. He asked me to lunch after the morning service ( an interesting story in itself, but I'll save it for another time). After the evening service, we ate ice cream at a park. I will add here that one of the top ten most romantic moments was when he turned to me and said, "Do you like to read? Because I just finished this great book. It's called the Notebook. I think the author is Nicholas somebody." (Insertme swooning here).

                 After our official first date the next Sunday, he made a comment about the bareness of my apartment walls. I responded that I had never noticed I didn't own a hammer and nails until I moved into the apartment alone. We went on to talk about other things and I didn't even think about it again.

                The next day was a Monday in every sense of the word. I taught middle school at the time and let's just say all of my students were very much seventh graders that day. I remember wanting to cry when I pulled up to my apartment because my head was throbbing, as were my feet, and I lived on the second floor. When I finally dragged myself up the stairs, something was leaning against my door.

 A silver hammer with a shiny red bow. 

And that, my friends, is all it took.

So Tell Me Your Story. 

What is your most unconventionally romantic moment? Got big plans for Valentine's day? Ever swoon over a tool (no innuendo intended!)? 

Jumping

Five years ago, I posted

this

about jumping into the world of querying and pitching. 

FIVE.YEARS.AGO. 

The daughter I mentioned is now a teenager. The teenager I mention is probably married and raising her own kids. Well, maybe not, but it's possible.

And, me?

Until a few months ago, I was still standing on the end of that diving board.

I didn't jump.

I was pushed.

Now, all I have to do is make sure I cannon ball and not belly flop!

And this one time at band camp...

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Like I said yesterday, I'm at ASL Teacher Camp this week. Okay, that's not what it's really called. But, that's pretty much what it is.

So, tell me your best camp story. Pranks, homesickness, sneaking out of the cabin and meeting that special someone (not that I ever did that!)

You know, this one time at band camp....


Spoiler Alert

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

My oldest daughter, who is much older now than in the picture above, made a confession last week that forced me to reevaluate everything I thought I knew about this sweet child.

SHE READS THE END OF A BOOK FIRST.

I fear I have failed as a parent.

I blogged before about

her reading obsession.

 She is almost never without a book. Takes two or three with her for any kind of overnight stay and, when we recently changed the sheets on her bed, I found she was sleeping with FOURTEEN (!) books every night. 

The child is by all definitions

a reader

.

But, she reads the end first! 

Shocked and confused by this admission, I took my argument to the best place for public opinion.

Facebook.

Me: Michelle just confessed that she reads the end of books first...I don't even know her anymore...

Male Childhood Friend #1: 

I do too! If I don't like the ending, why invest my life in the story? 

For me, reading fiction is an escape from reality. If I don't like the destination, I'd rather not buy the ticket!

(WWHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTT?? Not by the ticket?

Isn't that what the whole reading experience is about?)

Fellow Mommy Friend:

Funny! [Her daughter~same age as mine] reads the last book in a series...what's wrong with their generation?!?!?

Male Childhood Friend #2: 

I've always read the end of books first... Agree with [MCF #1]

 on this one.

Me:

 [MFC #1]while I have to admit on the surface your argument has substance...It's just wrong. wrong. Wrong. WRONG! 

 You, too,[MFC #2]

. (I say this with love, of course!).

Is this some kind of widespread epidemic of which I have lived blissfully unaware? Do YOU read the end of a book first? Is there some kind of 12 step group I can get my daughter in before this gets out of hand?

Why Do You Remember?

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


There either is or is not, that's the way things are.
 The colour of the day. The way it felt to be a child. The saltwater on your sunburnt legs. 
Sometimes the water is yellow, sometimes it's red.
 But what colour it may be in memory, depends on the day.
 I'm not going to tell you the story the way it happened.

 I'm going to tell it the way I remember it.
Charles Dickens ~ Great Expectations

My husband and I had a conversation recently about first kisses. He doesn't remember his. 
I'll pause for a moment and let that sink in. 

HE DOESN'T REMEMBER HIS FIRST KISS!

How does that happen? He couldn't even with confidence remember the first time he kissed ME!*

*Disclaimer: I am married to an amazing man who supports me fully in everything I do. I can forgive the fact that he has let a moment on Sept. 21, 1997 at approximately 10:14 pm while slow dancing in my apartment to a local country station playing from my mini-stereo slip his mind.*

His explanation was that he "didn't catalog the information for future reference."
Then, he mumbled something about women never forgetting anything

But, my mind was already working. Why do I remember so well? 
I'm sure part of it is about being a girl and living for those kinds of moments, but I believe there is much, much more. 

I don't just remember my first kiss. I remember everything about it. Where I was standing, the butterfly army in my stomach, praying my mom did not choose that moment to walk into the kitchen. Everything. Just like I do so many other tiny but huge moments in my life.

But, I wonder how much of it is because I'm a writer. I love the story of each moment. I love hearing how other people met and fell in love. I love passing those emotions on to my readers and sharing the experience of moving through it together all over again. 

So, tell me your story. 
Do you remember the tiny but huge moments of your life with vivid detail? Were you cataloging it all for future reference? 

If you're in the mood for some nostalgia, you can check out this post about Remembering the Good Old Days (It's worth the click just to see my 1989 hairstyle!)






HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO RONI LOREN!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Today, I am breaking out the virtual champagne and throwing imaginary confetti for my friend, the FABULOUS RONI LOREN!

Roni is awesome. I'm a total fan of her Loving on the Edge series, especially Melt into You (Hmm, Jace and Andre....*insert dreamy stare here* Oh, sorry. Were we talking about something? Oh, right, the blog post.)

Um, as I was saying, her new release
is the first title in Roni's new eserial.
  A new installment will be released every week over the next eight weeks. 

I have been totally looking forward to this because 1. It is about Andre's sister. He is in the very first scene ( *insert fangirl squee) and 2. It will be longer than her regular novels, which I love, but always want to read more!


So, CONGRATULATIONS RONI!!!
Here's to a terrific release day. 

From the author of the Loving on the Edge novels comes a story of a good girl who discovers that once you dare to cross some lines, it’s hard to turn back…
On the night of her graduation, innocent veterinary student Cela decides to play a game of Never Have I Ever with the two hot neighbors she’s been quietly crushing on for the last year. Always the prim and proper student, Cela thinks she’s earned a wild night before she has to move back home under the watchful gaze of her family. But what starts out as a simple game is about to take a very sensual turn...
Ian Foster is tired of playing games. With his membership to The Ranch, an exclusive BDSM resort, and a musician roommate who brings home groupies with a taste for ménage, Foster has a life most guys would kill for. But lately, his need for dominance is no longer satisfied via one-night stands. He craves the full surrender a woman—a submissive of his own. 
But when his quiet, sweet-as-sugar neighbor shows up at their door with a bottle of tequila and an invitation, Foster decides he and Pike may have time for one more fling… 

And a few questions for the Roni fans out there.
What book is your favorite? 
What character would you love to spend an evening with? 
What character would you be terrified of spending the evening with?





Welcome Taylor Lunsford

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
Welcome

I met Taylor through twitter. I am very excited to have her with us today to discuss her novel 

Welcome, Taylor. Tell us a little about  Need You Now.
Need You Now is the story of Melody Carr and Caine Maddox, two childhood friends who had a fling in college that went south. Mel’s finally moved back to their hometown of Unknown to start her medical practice. Lucky for her (or unlucky, depending on your perspective), Caine’s now the mayor and he still carries a torch for her.

Caine’s got his work cut out for him trying to win Mel’s trust back. The town doesn’t want her there and the local gossip blog can’t stay the hell out of his personal life for even a day. When the animosity brewing in town turns to vandalism, Caine makes sure Mel knows he’s not going anywhere. Keeping Mel’s stubborn-as-hell self safe from whoever’s targeting her may be the only way to convince Mel he’s playing for keeps. Getting Mel to trust him again is going to be the hardest fight of Caine’s life, but he’s determined to prove the to her that she needs him by her side.

And, it's the first in your series. Love in Unknown. I love that it is set in Unknown, Texas. How did you come up with that setting? Is it a real place? 
Haha, so Unknown actually started out as just a placeholder for the town name because I kept drawing a blank when I tried to name the town. At one point, it was going to be called Fortune Lake, but then my critique partner and I voted that Unknown had a quirky charm to it that stuck. I even managed to come up with a romantic origin for the name that’s revealed in the books.

Unknown is not a real place. It’s based off of bits and pieces of small towns in Texas I’ve visited during road trips with my family over the years. Most of it is based off of Georgetown, TX where I went to college, especially the square. McBride’s Books, which plays a big part in the second book (Ready to Love Again) is based off of the bookstore I worked at during my junior year.

So, tell us more about you. What's your favorite thing to do when you aren't writing? 
There’s a time when I’m not writing? Oh. Yeah. Maybe a little bit. LOL. Between my day job and writing, I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do I like to hang out and watch movies with my friends. If I’m really procrastinating writing, I’ll knit or get some harebrained idea of how to redecorate my apartment.

What's craziest thing you've ever done for love? 
You know, that’s a tough one. I’ve never actually been in love. I got a tiny bit singed by romance in high school, so I’ve spent the last few years focused on school and work (I’m only 24). Rather than becoming jaded with romance, I focused in on my writing and sharing my hopes for romance with other people.

The town gossip causes issues for your hero. If you could have an outrageous rumor spread about you to the world, what would it be? 
Hmmm….I think it would be that I work as a covert Interpol operative who is dating someone I can’t name, but who may or may not be third in line for certain throne (for the time being. He’ll moved to fourth in July).

What's next for you? 
What’s next? Whew, it’s going to be a busy year. Up next is a short story in the Love in Unknown series called We Own The Night, which should be out in June. Book 2 looks like it’ll come out sometime in July and Book 3 will be in October if all goes as planned. In between, I’ll also have a series of short stories coming out that center around the siblings of Jane Austen characters and their roads to love.

How can we get to know you better? 
If you visit my website, you can find a great page that tells you anything you could possibly want to know about my Love in Unknown series, including links to the people I’ve cast as all my characters and a playlist for NYN (http://taylormlunsford.com/love-in-unknown )
You can find me on twitter as @writertay. 

I also have a great Pinterest board set up for the Love in Unknown series (http://pinterest.com/writertay/unknown-tx/ )



The Worst Prank Ever

No Makeover Monday today. The Easter Bunny brought me a horrendous sinus infection. Hard to organize with a 50 lb weight on each cheek. Instead, I decided to rerun the post below. We buried my Dad on April Fool's Day nine years ago. This just seems to fit. 

The Worst Prank Ever

or 

How to make your daughter cry in 30 seconds or less

Dad sometime in the 80's

When my boyfriend and I abruptly dropped our plans for the Fourth of July and made the three hour trip to my parents' house. I'm pretty sure my Dad already knew what was coming. Especially when mom and I announced we were going shopping and leaving the two of them alone.

First, Dad tried to encourage Scott go shopping with us. When Scott insisted he would rather stay and hang out with him. Dad decided there were a few "chores" that needed immediate attention around the house.

Like cutting down a tree in the back pasture.

So, as I drove away with my mother, knowing full well Scott was going to ask my dad to marry me.

My Dad was smiling, waving and revving a chainsaw!

My mother promised me that Dad would not kill Scott and hide is body in the back pasture. I wasn't so sure.

Dawn and Scott 1997

 A little less than an hour later, my Mom and I were strolling through the mall, heading for the wedding dress store when her cell phone rang.

Checking the display she said, "It's your Dad."

I was all smiles when I answered. "Hi, Daddy!"

Dad was loud, but he rarely yelled and usually did not cuss when talking to me. 

"What do you mean this S.O.B wants to marry you?" He was yelling.

I laughed at first. "Well, you know. He kind of likes me."

Dad got louder. "Well, I told him no. I told him he was not welcome in this family. He told  me to go F*&# myself and took off. He's walking to town right now!"

At that moment, I burst into tears in the middle of Dillards.

My mother took the phone while a very sweet cosmetic counter lady comforted me with a box of tissues. Through the my sobs, I heard my mother saying things like "Well, what did you say?" Pause "What did he say?" Pause. "Why is he walking? Why didn't he take his truck?" Pause. Longer Pause. Longer Pause.

Mom and Dad early 80's

Then, my mother's face changed. She stepped behind a makeover screen, which offered no real sound protection and let loose with a string of insults, ending with "This is your idea of a joke? Your daughter is crying. Crying. Right now in the middle of the store." Then she turned to me, "It's a joke, Dawn. It's a joke. Everything's fine."

I took the phone, through the tears and uncontrollable shaking, I was able to hear my Dad's booming laugh and the words, "I'm sorry, baby. I thought it was April Fool's Day!"

I could barely speak to him or my future husband for the rest of the weekend. Although, my husband disavowed any knowledge of a plot to tease me. He swears he was in the bathroom the whole time. Yeah, right.

So, how did the conversation really go?

Scott: I'm  sure you know why we're here... I want to marry your daughter.

Dad (putting down chainsaw) : Well, if you know her well enough to want to marry her, you know if that's what she wants, there's nothing I can do to stop her. So, welcome to the family. Want some ice tea?

Scott: Thank you. Tea sounds good.

Dad (Patting Scott on the back): Let's call Dawn.

 Miss you, Dad.

Guest Post: Feeding the Muse



Guest Post: 

Feeding the Muse

So we’ve all had creative moments in our life inspired by something. Maybe it was a painting. Maybe it was a passing car. Or maybe it was that car chase racing down I-35 the other day.

I’ve had those moments. But really? That’s not exactly what my muse loves to be fed. It gets me the initial idea, yes. But my muse wants stronger stuff than a passing car or a painting to sustain me for a book. In that case, I turn to a very important fuel:


I know what you’re thinking. Who needs a freshness seal? That bag was gone in a week, but it got me through 23,000 words for the first week of November. I kept telling people, the book demanded it. No one believed me, I don’t think, but it’s true. Sometimes, you’re coasting along, writing away, and you stop. You have to ponder a scene for a while.

Now I’m highly OCD. I have nervous ticks that drive people up a wall. Especially when I’m trying to think. My fingers need to do things or I tend to destroy things that are around me. I also tend to grind my teeth together when I’m concentrating. My dentist hates me.

The book demanded Twizzlers at first, as evidenced by the picture up there. The good thing about Twizzlers is that they are relatively low calorie. Of course, that really doesn’t matter when you’re like me and finish off the bag inside of a week. They’re also chewy so I can sit there and grind on a Twizzler instead of my teeth. Not saying that it’s better… in fact, my dentist still hates me.

There’s a lot of me in my heroine in Off Her Game. Valerie doesn’t pig out on Twizzlers like me, but she needs to be busy. And that’s a big thing when someone suddenly has a huge lifestyle change, like losing a job. I drew a lot off my own personal OCD experiences. It’s never been debilitating for me. But I’ve always been aware of it. And while Val might not be as aware, she does know that she has her own oddities.

All this to say that I highly recommend candy as a way to feed the muse. I can’t tell you how many messes I’ve coaxed myself out of with a bag of Twizzlers. In fact, I’ve got another two pound bag in the kitchen for when I’m ready to hit the next half of my current WIP. But right now, that book wants Hershey’s Cookies n Cream and Elton John (music is an entirely different post, because if I tackled it now, Dawn would never invite me back…)

Sigh. The muse is never satisfied.

Thanks to Dawn for having me over today. 

So, it’s y’all’s turn now.

 Have you ever been attacked by a hungry muse while writing? What was the food of choice? Talk to me.
~~~
Off Her Game is available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble for pre-order. Releases March 25, 2013!
Penalty Number One: Men
Making time for men and relationships doesn’t fit into Valerie Chase’s game plan. This crisis-counselor-turned-cocktail-waitress knows the score—Men are a distraction. But when a certain hockey player tempts her wild side, part of her wants to indulge in a little harmless fun.
Penalty Number Two: Desire
As the star center for the Texas Highlanders, Darren Moran’s good looks and deadly determination make him a fan favorite. But after the previous season’s disaster, the last thing he needs is to let some woman crawl under his skin. But… Valerie is different. She brings out the best in him—both on and off the ice—and he’s not about to lose her.
Penalty Number Three: Passion
When the game moves to the next level, Darren and Val have got to call timeout. An unplanned romance is a game-thrower, a sinful temptation that neither of them can afford. After all, there’s no way to have order in matters of the heart when the penalties tally up to an ejection from the game.
~~~
Suzan Butler is a romance author with a penchant for Dr. Pepper, ice hockey, and world domination.  She lives in Texas under a not-so-secret identity with two monsters, writing books and planning the next step in her evil plans into the twilight hours of the night because that’s when it’s quiet in the house.
Visit her online on her website and subscribe to her newsletter to keep up with all her new releases.

The Myth of a Carefree Childhood

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


The Myth of a Carefree Childhood

I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that read: 
I just want to be 10 years old again with no worries in the world. 
If I remember correctly, it was accompanied by a picture of a child on a bike, riding with no hands, or some other heart-swelling image of nostalgia. 
Several comments followed about the carefree, joyousness of childhood. 
Youth is wasted on the young and similar cliches. 
The same faulty rhetoric people feed teenagers when they declare, 
"Enjoy high school. It's the best years of your life."
Trust me, if high school was the best years of my life, 
I would have snapped and gone running naked down the street a long time ago. 

It's all lies. 

Because, you know what? 

I live with a ten year old. 

A smart, beautiful girl who does well in school, has close friends, as well as  a strong family that loves her fiercely... And, she worries about everything
Not just about how she looks or if her favorite Disney Channel couple is going to stay together. 
She worries about the little girl who stole her snack from her locker because
 "Why would she need to steal food, mom?" 
She worries about her friends when others tease them. 
She worries about the boy her sister likes not being nice enough for her. 
She worries about what the country will be like for her children. 
(No, I'm not exaggerating.)

The idea that childhood is this blissful, free of stress, time is absurd.
 At no other point in your life are you in such confusing situations 
with such little control over your own destiny.  

I remember laying in bed at night, unable to shut off my mind. 

My mom probably remembers having to call my third grade teacher at home  because I couldn't stop crying. The teacher had made a boy stand in the trashcan as a punishment during class. I was so humiliated for him that I couldn't sleep and so scared of getting the teacher in trouble, it took my mom a good hour to get out of me why I was sobbing uncontrollably. 

That's the carefreeness of childhood. 

When adults look back through the rose-colored glasses, they discount the overwhelming pressure of that time in a child's life. 


By the time I was my daughter's age:
  • My parents were separated for the third or fourth time.
  • I had lived in three states in three years. 
  • I knew what drugs were.
  • I knew what alcoholism looked like. 
  • I had sat at the graveside of someone I loved. 
  • I had vague information about what sex would be and the thought was pretty terrifying. 
My life was far from stress-free. And, I wouldn't consider my childhood to be "bad". It just was. 

Children deserve for adults to respect the their emotions, ease their fears with out belittling them and offer empathy and compassion. 

Not just a patronizing pat on the head and a wistful, 
"Oh, when I was your age..."


So, tell me your story. 
Do you remember your childhood as all sno-cones and games of tag? 
Do you think people romanticize those early years? 
Is high school ever the best years of someone's life? 
 













Musical Misunderstandings

Tell Me Your Story

Musical Misunderstandings

    On a recent car trip, I decided if I had to hear Taylor Swift croon one more I'm-his-best-friend-but-secretly-in-love-with-him-let-me-cry-on-my-guitar-oh-he-loves-me-too! ballad, I was going to throw myself on the pavement at 75 mph. 
    To save me from highway suicide, my husband put in some  more mature, yet kid-friendly music. That's when this song came on. 

My girls started singing along and Scott and I exchanged a look. 
This was going to be one of "those songs."

One of those songs you sing as a kid and have no clue they are any thing but innocent. One of those songs that make you call your mother when you're older and say,

 "Do you know what this song is about?" 

Yep, it's happen to me. I was exposed to a variety of music growing up. My parents were never into oldies. They listened to Hank Jr., The Eagles,  and people like Joe Ely. My uncle liked to show me off  (and win bets with his friends) because before I was in elementary school, I could identify songs by The Who, Peter Frampton and Little Feat.

 He did get reprimanded by mom when I was belting out Angel in the Centerfold in the middle of Pizza Hut. 

But, my AH HA moment came driving home from college. I hit an old country station and a great song from my childhood poured from the speakers. 


No one wants to go down to Tucson in the summer

So this time the boss chose me 

(See, he's a hard-working man who's ready to do a job no one else wants.)

I've been sort of restless yes he thought it might help if

I got away from my wife and family

(He's been stressed. Needs a break. I can respect that.)

There's been no other woman since the mother of my 

children

And in each and every way she's a lady

(He's faithful. Loves and honors his wife)

Now there's one that I'll remember a sultry night we spent

 together

(Remembering an old flame. Playing the "highlight" reel. It happens.)

And she satisfied the love inside of me

Go on and send me down to Tucson and I'll get the job done

(Good man. Send me down, Boss. I'll take care of it!)

And call up the one whose love is free

(Huh?)
She may be easy and I love my lady

(Whaa?)

But the lady don't satisfy the love inside of me

(He's CHEATING?!?!?! *Insert sound of childhood

 innocence shattering here.*)


So, tell me your story.
Ever had a song you loved but were clueless about the meaning? 
Ever had a "What?" moment like me? 

It's Over! Goodbye 2012!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

It's Over!


Happy 2013!
     I won't bore you by going back over all the reasons 2012 was not a good year for me. I will just let out a deep sigh of relief and let you know that 
I am so glad it is 2013! 
(which has to be one of the THE most reliable sources on earth, don't you think?)
 promises good things for me this year: 

You've been preparing for the breakthrough and surge in success, so you'll be more than ready to take your rightful place in the limelight. All areas of your life receive the benefits and blessings of Jupiter for the second half of 2013. Your confidence is sky high and you feel more optimistic about life and your future than you have in ages. All of the suffering, heaviness and loss of 2012 will quickly become a thing of the past as you embrace the amazing opportunities being showered upon you in 2013.

Limelight here I come!

So, tell me your story. 
Do you have high hopes for 2013
or was 2012 a banner year for you? 
What'd you do to ring in the New Year? 
Kiss anybody good? Real or imaginary? I don't judge.
You can read my past NYE exploits here. 



HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT FIRST DAY OF THE NEW YEAR!



    

Where have you been?

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Where have you been? 
Or the story of how life slapped me in the face and I quit blogging for a while.
By Dawn Alexander


 If you're still reading this blog, thank you. I've been out of touch for a while. Paul A. Shortt got a month long feature for his new release and if you look past that you will see that I missed the entire month of October.

 Honestly, I thought no one would notice until this weekend when the president of my RWA chapter said, "I keep stopping by your blog and that man's still there."

So, if like Jen, you've been dropping by and seeing Paul alot. I thank you for continuing to check in.

I wrote in September about getting myself together. Everything was under control.I was ready to start writing, blogging, playing on social media. 

I was ready to be me, again. 

Then, October happened. 

Sometimes, just to let you know you ain't running nothing, as my dad would say, life backhands you.

Five deaths in 9 weeks. 

That's where I've been. 

Two family friends, two high school students and one cousin, who is being laid to rest today.  

All with their own stories that they don't get to tell anymore. 

I am making a proclamation that this year is done. 

No one else can get sick. No one else can be hurt. No one else can die. 

2012 has not been a pleasant experience. I have high hopes for the year to come. 

I just have to get there...with this little thread of sanity I am clutching intact. 








      

      


Happy Release Day To Paul A. Shortt

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Happy Release Day! 





Welcome back to the blog! I looked back at your first interview from August of 2011. So much has changed for you since then!

Thanks for having me again! Yeah, things have come along a lot. It's been a really exciting time.

First, tell us about Locked Within.

Did the inspiration for this book come from any particular source? 

I had seen an increase in the amount of books where the hero was some powerful supernatural creature. I wanted to try something different, where the hero was just a man. Sure, Nathan Shepherd gains knowledge from past lives through the course of the book, and learns how to harness the power of being reborn, but compared to his enemies he's just a mortal. He has vulnerabilities and has to use his wits to get by.

Reincarnation has always interested me. The idea that we've been here before, and will be again, is kind of comforting. One thing I hadn't seen much of was a setting where reincarnation was considered the norm, and it was assumed that most people had been reborn at least once. Although Locked Within features conflict over the matter, it's still a world where reincarnation forms a central point in the development of the supernatural society.

Locked Within is set in New York City. I know you recently took a trip there. Had you visited there before writing the book? Where did you visit that is mentioned in the book? 

My wife and I had our honeymoon in New York 4 years ago. The book was firmly in my mind at the time, and had been for many years, but I hadn't started writing yet. We spent 2 weeks in Manhattan. Between that and our week there earlier this year, we still haven't seen or done everything we wanted to!

I've visited several places that appear in Locked Within. The New York Public Library and Riverside Park in particular play important roles, and Grand Central Station appears as well. There's also a bar called Druids in Hell's Kitchen which pretty much serves as the location for a disused bar that features in a particular scene.

Can you describe the feel of holding a book with your name on the cover? ('cause some of us are still waiting for that, you know!)

There's no one feeling that can really describe it. Excitement. Fear. Giddiness. Pride. Fear. It was more than just a feeling of accomplishment; it was also a sense of responsibility. I'm a professional author now, I've achieved my lifelong dream, so I have to work even harder than ever to stay here. 

But at the same time, yeah, I've achieved my lifelong dream. It's amazing to look at the book, feel the pages, smell the paper, then read my name on the cover and think "Wow, I did this."

So, you are doing a live book launch as well as a virtual launch on Twitter (which I think is awesome.) How is that going work? 

The live launch is being held in Hughes and Hughes bookstore in Dundrum, which is near Dublin. The store is doing an amazing amount to promote the event and we've already reached 100 confirmed guests on the Facebook event. I can't wait!

The virtual launch will be the following night. I'll make sure to start it at a time when people from the other side of the Atlantic can make it. I'll assign a Twitter hashtag for people to use so that anyone who's online can join in and chat about the book. 

And, do I understand correctly, that you are already working on a sequel? Tell us about that and when we can look for it. 

Yeah! I've actually been working on it since last year. I'm currently in the middle of a hefty re-write before sending it back to my publisher. Originally my plan was to write 6 books about Nathan Shepherd, but after thinking things over, I decided to shorten the series into a much more manageable trilogy.

The sequel, Forgotten Cause, continues Nathan's story and has him facing not only the consequences of his actions in Locked Within, but also actions taken in his past lives. He comes face to face with an old nemesis, and a woman who could be an ally, lover, or a traitor. If the manuscript is accepted by my publisher and the editing goes well, we should be on course for a release date in 2013.

Last, on a personal note, tell us about the twins! 

Hehe, yeah, those two are currently kicking lumps out of my wife's insides. As you may know, last year we had our first baby, a boy named Conor. We lost him after only three days. It was a really hard time, the worst we could possibly imagine, but we had our friends and family to get us through.

We knew we wanted more kids, so when we found out Jen, my wife, was pregnant again, we were thrilled. You can imagine our surprise at the first scan when the midwife said "I think that's another fetal sac." It was small, less than half the size of the larger one, but there was a definite heartbeat. The midwife was concerned we might lose the smaller one. My wife said that as soon as she saw the heartbeat on the monitor, she knew the second twin would be fine. At the next scan Twin 2 had caught up completely and now the pair of them are weighing in well above the average, even for single babies!

We're expecting them to be delivered by c-section on the 28th of December, but based on their size they could decide to come early. It's been a pretty incredible year. Our lives are changing in big ways and I can't wait to see what's next!


It has been awesome getting to know Paul through his writing journey. 

What else would you like to know? You can leave a question in the comments, or if you have minute, leave him a note of congratulations on his first release. 


Jody Hedlund: Secret #11

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Welcome

Jody is awesome and I am so excited to have her sharing secrets with us today! Before we get to the juicy stuff, I absolutely have to recommend her latest book: 
I may or may not have devoured this book in basically one setting. I read the first two chapters on the treadmill and had every intention of only letting myself read it in the mornings while I was working out. Yeah, that night I stayed up until my eyes wouldn't focus getting it finished. So much for my reading-to-improve my thighs plan. 
But, the book was just that awesome! 
Enough about me!
Today is about Jody.

Secret #11: The area in my life I'm the most inconsistent.
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Overall, I count myself a very self-disciplined person. I  water my plants every Monday. I set my coffee maker every night before going to bed.  I always get up early. I write a certain number of words per day.  I pay my bills on time. I respond promptly to emails. 

Yes, I'm consistent and self-disciplined with most of my life.

But I'm terrible at being self-disciplined in one particular area. And that is exercising regularly.

I have good intentions when it comes to exercising. I always tell myself I need to exercise more and come up with plans. But for some reason, I can't seem to stick with those plans for very long.

Last winter, my goal was to walk with my Leslie Sanone DVD each weekday morning for approximately twenty minutes. I started out walking most mornings. But then occasionally I skipped because of an early morning headache or because I had too many emails to respond to. 

And once you get into the habit of skipping occasionally, it becomes all too easy to skip more regularly, until you're hardly doing it at all anymore.

Then I went in for a yearly doctor's visit and discovered that my blood pressure is borderline high. As I evaluated ways I could work on getting it down (without having to take meds), I learned that exercise was one way to work on lowering blood pressure. 

So, once again, I vamped up my efforts to be more consistent with exercising. Over the summer, I tried to take a twenty minute power walk every weekday morning before the kids woke up. And I realized it's a beautiful, cool time of the morning, with very few people out—mostly just me and my dog.

I realized it's easier to stay consistent with something if you plan it into your schedule for the same time every day, eliminate excuses, and just do it whether you feel like it or not.

Even with all my resolutions, I still find myself missing days now and then. But I'm getting better at becoming more consistent at this area in my life where I've always been completely inconsistent.
Maybe one day, I finally get there.

How about you? In what area of your life do you struggle to be consistent?

Publisher's Weekly calls Unending Devotion " A meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."

To celebrate the release of Unending Devotion, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Leave a comment (along with your email address) to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. Giveaway ends Friday, Sept. 21st. A winner will be chosen on Saturday. 
For more secrets about Jody and additional chances to win her newest release, visit her Events Page to see where she'll be next in her "Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund" blog tour.
Also join in the Pinterest Photo Contest she's hosting. Find more information about it on her Contest Page.
Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:

Getting it together

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
My younger daughter, age 4



So, I've been hiding. You may have noticed from the lack of a Friday Plot Swap (usually my favorite post). Also, I've spent very little time on twitter or Facebook. It's not that I've become anti-social. I just got stuck.

RWA Nationals pretty much knocked the wind out of me. The complete opposite of what I expected. I blogged about that here. I received awesome support and feedback. Which I appreciated while I was cleaning out my closet instead of editing. It still looks really pretty. You can see the pictures here.

Before I could make myself jump back into writing, I started a new job.

But, I think I've finally got it all together. I am excited about writing again. I'm excited about blogging and I am SOOOO ready to do some plot swapping. Have I got some stories for you!

Since it is Tuesday, tell me your story. Have you ever had to take a break and regroup? What worked best for you? Did you even notice Fridays have been dull and swapless?









Interview with an old friend

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Welcome
 My friend,

Sean and I go way back. I mean, big-hair-and-blue-eyeshadow kind of back. Talking about me, of course, not him. He never had big hair. In fact, we had a serious discussion about what pictures would and would not be shared for this post. You see, there was this play where he played a priest and I played, well, a ditz basically. My best line was "I like his hair...so much." What is that? 

Anyway, Sean is now an entertainment reporter as well as a writer-in-waiting novelist. Of course, I had to have him for Tell Me Your Story Tuesday. 

Let's get to know my friend, Sean. 
 
 Ah, the glamorous life of an entertainment reporter. It's all free movies, champagne and prestige, right?
 Being an entertainment writer is a great gig if you can get it.  I am published in the Moore Monthly and I am read by literally dozens of people every month…dozens! Sure, I see movies early and for free but there is a downside.  People don’t know about the pounds that I have packed on eating extra-butter theater popcorn two to three times a week, do they? I suffered the worst of Adam Sandler for my readers. I saw “Jack and Jill”. I watch those bad films so you don’t have to. It is a public service.

 How did you get into this?
 A friend of mine once gave me the advice, that when you are in a meeting where you clearly do not belong then just act like you do. I took this advice when I was asked to meet with the editor of the Moore Monthly. We had made an acquaintance in social media and he had been impressed with some freelance writing that I had done for a site called OKC.net. I had written a story about taking my young children to the annual Flaming Lips New Year’s Freak Out and titled it “The Family Who Freaks Out Together”. 

My unique angle on covering the show impressed him and I found myself having lunch with him. I was terrified at the prospect that this was a sort of job interview veiled as two guys eating sandwiches. Now, I had published freelance but this was a possible regular gig. I was nervous but took my friend’s advice and acted like this was the sort of thing that happened to me all the time. It worked out and I am now a professional entertainment writer. I have parlayed that in to becoming a member of the Oklahoma Film Critic’s Circle, a recognized professional society for film criticism.  Which, I have used to get more freelance writing work.  I just keep having meetings and pretending that I belong there.

 What do you look for in the movies you review? Do you take notes or rely on your own memory?  Do you like to have company for a discussion afterward or do you prefer work alone?

 Movie studios and promotional companies offer free screenings for the press and for “word of mouth” hype. Usually, these screenings are a few weeks before the actual release of the film and are used to build a buzz around a production.  These screenings are for the press but also for an audience of people who win tickets on the radio or receive them through some other promotional source. When I see a movie, it is in a crowded theater of people so I can gauge their response and measure it against my own. I don’t take notes. I do varying amounts of research beforehand but go see the films the way that any movie-goer would. I bring a friend or my children if it is a family film.  I get popcorn and candy.  I experience the movie.   
My work starts once I am walking out of the theater and I start to distill from my immediate impressions that recommendation of what to expect from a film. I relate my biases upfront and then try to present as balanced as possible a review. I am not picky when it comes to which films I will see. I keep a calendar of all the screenings I can possibly attend and then attend as many as I can. If I do not write about a movie for my regular column then I will usually write something freelance for another outlet about the film. I will see anything because every movie that I see is potential income for me.

 What is it like to leave the theater knowing you are going to write a negative review? Do you feel guilty at all or is all business? 

  Too many critics seem to me to be professional contrarians. I try to be balanced in my criticism of a film. In the end, I am such a fan of film that there is very rarely a movie that has nothing redeeming in it to me. If there is only one worthwhile performance then I will not fail to mention it. Movie-making is a marvelous thing to me and as a critic, I can be like someone watching prestidigitation at a stage show and trying to guess at how the tricks are done and pointing out the wires. In the end I still want to be amazed. I still want it to seem magic.  I still appreciate the art of making-believe. I mean as a writer, I appreciate the magic behind the creation of worlds from whole cloth.  I have such a reverence for film and every part of the process.  I hope I show that in my criticism.

 You also write fiction. What genre? Tell us about one of your work in progress. 

 I am not sure. I call myself a speculative fiction author. I am writing in the genres that I am drawn most to read. My fiction is some combination of horror and sci-fi, maybe the horrors of science (although my science is as much psychological and social science as anything else).  Hanging a name on a story and categorizing it is limiting it to follow certain tropes or expectations. It has been suggested to me that I write slipstream fiction. I am not quite sure what slipstream as a genre really is exactly but I like what Bruce Sterling wrote about it: "...this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility”. I get that.  Out of place or out of your mind is sort of what I am shooting for in the atmosphere of my writing.

 What authors have shaped your vision of what you want your writing to be? 

I am currently reading through everything in our local library written by Philip K. Dick. Immediately before that, I was rereading the short fiction of Lovecraft. I have very few books as I tend to pass them on quickly but I am literate and an autodidact so I consume the resources of my library voraciously.  I would probably say Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut are huge influences on my thinking and writing right now. However, my overall vision is colored by piles upon  piles of yellowed pulp  science fiction and fantasy novels that my parents had collected.  My first advice to anyone who likes to write besides ‘Just write’ is to read. Just read.

 As of now, you are unpublished in fiction. How do you keep yourself motivated and writing ? 

 I have published very little in fiction (a few short stories in independent small press magazines). I have written however quite a lot. I spend most of my week working on freelance journalism.  After the freelance journalism work is written, I take time every day for my fiction.  The time varies on my workload. I am starting to feel a pull in the direction of submitting my fiction work and investigating places to publish (and self-publishing options) especially as I get close to finishing my novel.  I really feel like it isn’t hard to get motivated to write, it is hard to do the work of getting that writing seen by others and making a living from that writing. That is daunting. The writing is the easy part in comparison. The process of submitting that writing and getting it seen is what takes motivation. 

 Where do you see yourself going in your writing path? Five years from now, what do you hope to have accomplished? 

Writing. I want to be writing. A few years ago, writing was a hobby for me. I was a retail manager for a big box store. I hated my job and I used writing as an escape. I was stuck in a profession that I found tedious and I was absolutely “adequate” at. I decided not to settle for being mediocre and feeling trapped. There was better money in retail but my heart was in writing. That sounds like a bold choice and may be the best move of my life if I can somehow make writing my career. I am a freelancer. There is a certain grind to freelancing but it doesn’t pay a lot and you have to really work it to make it work. The five year plan is to make the most of every freelance opportunity that I have and to start taking more “meetings that I don’t belong in” with fiction editors.  Keep working on my craft and keeping my fingers on the keys. If I am really living the dream, then I am going to combine this freelance journalism gig with a fiction writer gig. Ultimately, to be a working novelist and write to support myself would be the dream fulfilled. Any way that it happens, I am going to keep writing.

Thank you so much for doing this, Sean. It was such fun. 
You can find Sean at his blog:   http://verynovel.wordpress.com/ or like his Author page on Facebook.

You can also ask him questions in the comments here. Feel free to ask him about me in high school. He may know where some of the bodies are buried, but I've got pictures, so I ain't scared!