Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign

 I've been pushing to get the hardcover edition of Moondrops & Thistles out for the 30th anniversary of the end of Desert Storm. It's hard to believe it's been that long already. Time flies when you keep busy.

Being busy means I did not get it ready to publish by today. It is getting close. I'd rather have it later than I wanted and as right as I can get it than to meet my own deadline. I do have the front cover ready. Want to see it? I can at least do that today.


What do you think?

I've done some revamping of the story since the paperback came out ten years ago (also hard to believe). If you've read the original, you likely won't recognize much change, if any. Some descriptive detail. Some adding. Some deleting. But the same story of a decorated Desert Storm soldier running into a fiery spark of life in the middle of the dark pouring rain just when he needs it most. 

My plan for today was to continue working on this story, but when I woke up, my Rehearsal characters were yelling at me to give them some attention. And the internet was out. Okay. So. Change of plans. I ignored the connection issue and worked on Rehearsal Book 5 until after lunch when I decided to take a break and paint a bit instead. When I turned my playlist onto shuffle, because I need my music to paint, the first song that played was So Into You, one I had just mentioned (again) during my writing session. I took it as a sign that I did what I should have when I listened to my instinct to go back to this book for today. Then a couple of other songs passed and I tried to rewind to that one and clicked it one too often and then had to restart it. Sighing, I chuckled when another one from the series started.

That felt like a knock-her-in-the-head-if-she-won't-listen sign. I've had so many doubts about this series/serial/saga that was my first begun major writing project and may end up being the last, too, as slowly as it's coming along and with the sequel and prequel in mind. And... maybe a first for me: a mystery that's related. I strongly felt today that I was being told to just keep going with it. There's a reason the story has been so invasive throughout most of my life. Even if I don't know what it is.

Sometimes we don't know. Sometimes we get signs and ignore them, to our own detriment. Sometimes, though, we listen. And we learn.

One of the three main Rehearsal characters believes strongly in signs, until she thinks maybe she doesn't, and then has to regroup and reconsider.

Where these signs come from is anyone's guess. I do believe that, like Daws when he is sent exactly what he needs when he needs it and is ready to recognize it, the willingness to see the sign is what matters most. Being open to hear what we need to hear matters. Being willing to change what we thought we believed helps us grow.

Much of my work revolves around just that. Simple, maybe, but also very complex and not easy to accomplish. 

Coincidentally, these two books getting the same post space actually works well. They do get connected eventually. Those of you who have read the book that spawned the Daws (Sergeant Fred Dawson) character (and thank you for requesting more of him), Off The Moon, have found the connection. At least part of it. ;-)  Like life, everything gets connected, around my series/serial/saga, that is.

Even a Desert Storm soldier in 1991.

#DesertStorm30


(Side note: Off The Moon first came out in 2009 and Moondrops & Thistles in 2011. M&T is set 9 years earlier. They are related, but can be read in either order. M&T goes back and explains the connection between Daws and Ryan, which will be explained further in a Rehearsal book. Confused yet?)



Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Not-Talked-About Heart Issue We Should Talk About

What I see when I get dizzy and
lower my head...

   Let me start by saying I'm really a very private person. That might sound odd for a novelist, but sharing my thoughts, ideas, and opinions is a very different thing than sharing ME. I mean, sharing personal stuff, like health stuff. I don't, really. It's generally not professional, but beyond that, it's intrusive. Thoughts and opinions are things I've learned and experienced. It's different. It can change over time (and should). It's fluid. It's meant to be shared. My health is personal.

Other than that, I don't like to hear details about people's health issues ad nauseum. I don't. Not because I'm callous, but because I'm intuitive/sensitive and I prefer not to focus on things that can go wrong.

However, in recent years, I've learned I have had a health issue likely all of my life that I didn't know about. It involves the heart. After being diagnosed after a medication sent me to the ER with severe long-lasting palpitations where the nurse who seemed very disinterested asked if maybe I was having a panic attack and treated me like I was wasting her time, my doctor, at the follow-up, actually looked at the EKG results enough to find the problem:

Long QT Syndrome

Have you heard of it? Probably not. It's an electrical issue with the heart where it takes longer to recover between beats than it should. Research I found calls it rare, but I tend to think it's less rare than it is undetected. There are two types: Inherited and Acquired. Acquired LQTS is generally brought on by medications, and when the meds stop and time passes, it heals. With any luck, it doesn't cause a heart attack first. Inherited LQTS does not heal. It's life-long. Many never know they have it. 

The first symptom is often death.

Read that again: the FIRST symptom is often death. 
(source: https://www.healthline.com/health/long-qt-syndrome#causes)

Back when I was in school PE class and we were all forced to run a mile around the track on a semi-regular basis, I always ended up walking in between. Because it hurt my chest. It hurt enough to be scary. So fine, I was marked as lazy or too out of shape or whatever, when really, I wasn't too terribly out of shape, considering. I grew up in dance. I bicycled a lot. I walked a lot. I swam. I played softball. However, I could not run any distance at all. And no one gave a thought about figuring out why I shouldn't be able to.

You know all of those otherwise healthy young athletes who suddenly die of heart attacks and no one ever knows why? I'm no doctor, but I have a strong educated opinion on that.

So what I want to know is: WHY do we not hear about it? Why are athletes not screened for it? It causes death. In young people. Not many, thankfully, but unnecessarily. My stubbornness to not give in and run when I knew I shouldn't turned out to be a good thing.

In the past two and a half years, I've been doing walking challenges, trying to stay fit and healthy. They're meant to be running challenges, but I don't run. I hate to run. Always have. However, last summer I thought maybe I'd worked up enough to give it another try. Slowly, I worked up to a 17.3 minute mile by mostly walking but running some in between. And for about a week afterward, I was sidelined. It hurt. And it was scary. I think I might have liked to run if I could, but thankfully, this thing was discovered, albeit rather embarrassingly, and so I walk.

And I avoid strong meds. I avoid too much caffeine. I drink plenty of water. I add a bit of potassium when I think I should (research this on your own, but when I was in the ER, they gave me potassium because it was very low and it worked well). I don't push workouts too hard. I also did the medic bracelet thing to alert anyone who needs to know not to give me Zithromax (a very big no, no for LQTS, apparently) or other high-risk drugs. I let a very small circle of people know in case they needed to know.

But it saddens me that this is not being talked about. February is heart health month and the whole focus is on cardiovascular disease, which everyone is well aware of already. It's important, since heart disease is America's number one killer. I'm glad it's highlighted. However, other heart issues also need to be highlighted. So, at the end of heart health month, I decided to break my personal silence. I'm good. I'm taking care of it. I'm body intuitive so I know when to back off, etc. I just really want to make more people aware of it so they can find out how to deal with it.

Awareness matters. We have awareness months and days for everything under the sun, most of which most of us are all very aware of. Maybe we could start concentrating just a bit more on things we aren't so aware of.

If you know a young person, or not-so-young person, who talks about their chest hurting with exertion, or who gets dizzy upon standing, or who faints for no obvious reason, don't ignore it. It's a very easy check by EKG. And it's easy enough to work with if you KNOW what you're working with. 

Do the research. You can start here (I had to search for it on the site):
https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/about-arrhythmia/conduction-disorders

---------------

CAVEAT: I am NOT a medical professional or anything close to that. This is not medical advice. This is a plea to be aware of Long QT Syndrome with a bit of opinion mixed in. I am a novelist, after all. 

Now returning to my irregularly scheduled writing and life related posts.



 

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Do It Anyway


 I detest the cold.

I mean, I truly detest the cold. I get cold easily and don't warm up again easily. The only way I can get to sleep in the winter is by letting my electric blanket warm me, mainly my feet, and then turning it off. Otherwise, my cold feet will keep me awake most of the night. They Do Not Warm Up by themselves. They refuse.

I also don't like the dark. I like light, preferably sun light. I use day time bulbs to imitate it, since here in cloudy West PA, sun is a limited commodity. Too much gray and dark makes me cranky and tired.

As you can guess, winter is not my favorite season. The days are too cold and too short. 

However, I've been on a walking challenge for the past year and a half. More technically, I've just started my fourth 100 extra miles walking challenge. That "extra" is a big deal. I'm on my feet a good bit these days taking care of a lot of little ones, most of whom would usually be in school during this time of the year, but due to events, are cyber schooling instead. So they're with me while their parents work. Add in the 4 yr old and 1 yr old, and that's a lot of regular daily steps. It's been much harder to get those extra steps in, because ... well, I'm tired once their parents take over. I'm no spring chicken any more.

I'm also holding my own for my past-middle-age-arthritic-easily-broken body. Eh. It is what it is, right? It's all good, as Pete the Cat would say. 

Last year when it got cold, I moved my walking inside to my treadmill because ... well, COLD!

I've done some of that by now, too. Still, walking outside feels better. I love the fresh air. I love the view of nature, watching for things I haven't seen or things I have that are worth paying attention to again.

I've learned something funny about myself recently: I think I'd like to run if I could. I can't. Not an excuse for not wanting to work up, just a reality I've had to face after trying to work up.

I've learned something else, too: I don't really mind walking in the cold.

That's what I did tonight. It was 30 degrees and the sun was starting to set, but while waiting for my granddaughter to enjoy her dance lessons (they don't want us waiting inside now, due to ... well, same thing), instead of sitting in my running car to stay warm as some do, I walked. Now, I prepared with long underthings and two pairs of socks. And I didn't walk fast since the road was wet and, in places, slippery, and I can't take an unnecessary fall risk. But I did walk. Half a mile. No record, except for me to walk in 30 degrees, voluntarily.

It was refreshing, really. And it's good for the immune system. I think a lot of us get in trouble with illness because we hide in heated houses/offices/etc all winter, and indoor air just isn't very healthy. It isn't.

So many people took to parks and sidewalks this spring, more than normal. That's a good thing. But maybe we should do more of it this winter, also. Trust me, if this naturally lazy cold-hater can do it, probably most people can. Even five minutes here and there. Step outside. Get moving. Breathe deep.

And whatever you hear from without or within, just do it anyway.

(Those lines in the photo above, they're from a stroller. I wasn't the only grandma out there tonight.)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Be the One Who Says It's Worth the Struggle

 


I know; it's been a while again. I haven't quite known what to say, I guess. Like many, I was thrown way off this year. I'm still thrown off. My concentration level is low. My survival instinct has taken over. It's hard to let your mind think deeply and creatively when you're in survival mode. Others have said it better, but the arts need a stable and thriving environment in order to grow, to achieve. They're always the first to suffer in hard times. A lot of us small/indie authors have found our book sales dropping to the floor, or nearly. Mine had just been picking up well with the better economy before this thing hit.

I'll admit it. I nearly stopped writing altogether. The book I started three years ago has been mostly sitting, stalled. I did do edits for a 10-yr-old book, with a new fancy cover... and then I let it sit rather than promoting it. I have no impetus to promote when so many are trying to survive. It felt wrong. It also felt unmanageable.

What I did instead was to return to my fine art. I've been painting. I haven't done a whole lot of painting. Sketching was always my medium, particularly in charcoal. But I find I'm taking to a bit like a gasping fish finally reaching the water. Maybe I headed too far down the wrong path. Or maybe I just desperately needed a breather during all of the madness, something different, something just for me.




Years ago, when I ran into an old classmate and he asked what I'd been up to, I told him about the books I had published, and he said, "You're not doing anything with your art?" Obviously, that hit me hard enough to still be thinking about it often.

Sometimes, maybe survival means finding a new path, or an additional path.

Because of the masks and social distancing mandates, my two first-grade grandbabies are cyber schooling. We're not afraid of the virus. We're afraid of the physical and social aspects of the "preventative measures." We don't want them afraid. We don't want them feeling alienated and dehumanized. We don't want them fussed at because they want to actually play with other kids, as they should be doing. We don't want them breathing in moist air on fabric that will gather and hold everything, while preventing actual fresh air they need. So, they are here with me. I'm guiding their work rather than doing my own work. I have a house full of chaos rather than free days to do what I want/need. It will stay that way until they can be normal kids again. 

Writing novels needs concentration. It needs quiet time to think. Since that's rare right now, I'm doing what other things I can instead, including a complete refinish of the porch swing with faded, stained, and tearing fabric, plus rusting metal. It's now repainted and mostly reupholstered, a job that requires a LOT of hand sewing. I may get it done just before it's too cold to use it for a few months.

As one of my hobbies, I'm a very amateur gardener, meaning I enjoy playing with growing things but I'm not terribly good at it. In the spring, I'm always gung ho to get out there and repot stuff, buy new stuff, browse local nurseries and plant catalogs, and get my winter-weary hands dirty again. Often, I even start seeds inside before it's warm enough to put them outside, just because I'm ready for spring and I want to see the little growth of the little plants that also are filled with hope.

And... then I get busy and tired and ready to move on to the next project, and some of my little plants get forsaken... like the tray in the photo above. They started well, most of them. They said, okay, plant me now, and I said, yes, soon... and then I didn't. My husband even put together a real garden area for me in the spring, fenced off to keep the deer out. Some of it did very well. I did the whole companion gardening thing and the tomatoes loved it, so we've had plenty of nice tomatoes, some onions and peppers, a few beans before we lost those to something. The cabbage got eaten but it's coming back. I have three tiny butternut squash and some celery I need to bring in. 

Last night, we had to cover it up for a frost warning. Sigh. I also threw an old sheet over the basil and parsley plants on the back deck. I wasn't a happy camper about frost already, so I was a bit grumbly about it. And then, I find that flat of things I ignored for months out beside the herbs, and the one little aster growing beyond all odds.

Aster is my birth month flower. It felt like a sign. Okay, life is tough, things aren't as they should be right now, but you can still thrive. That little plant is not in the asters section. It's in the cilantro section. I guess that's where it decided to grow instead of where I put it. 

My head said, Be That Little Aster. Bloom where you need to bloom. Hold on and just wait till the right time and then rise.

So I'm painting. I'm also writing here and there. That book will be finished when I get it finished. Other stories in progress will come along.

Yes, I need to get the porch painted, as well. I'll get there.





To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
(Ecclesiastes 3) 



Monday, January 27, 2020

Off The Moon 2009 Blog Tour - The Inside Scoop

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: The Pen Muse  Dec 1



Hello and thanks for having me here today as the last stop on my whirlwind tour! Since this is the end, I thought I’d talk about the inspiration behind the story.

All of my books revolve around the arts or an artist of some kind. I grew up surrounded by artists and it seeped into who I am enough that it flowed through to my characters back when I first started creating characters. I was in my early teens, or maybe even my pre-teens, when I wrote my first character sketches onto paper. Most often, the inspiration for them came from music, either from a song or album, or from musicians. I’m music obsessed. I always have been. The first things I wrote were musical plays based on songs from music books in my grandma’s library. So it only made sense that my first real characters were musicians. My Rehearsal series (2006 & 2008) was inspired by an actual band.

Next, I moved to a story about a young artist who refuses to call herself an artist for fear she can’t compare with her professional artist husband. That was a touch autobiographical. It can be highly inspiring to grow up around professional and could-be-professional artists, but it can also make you wary of trying to “compete” per se. That story became my first published, “Finishing Touches” (2003) and it’s set in my hometown area.

Now, with “Off The Moon,” I’m back to a musician. Unlike Rehearsal, which starts with the band playing local clubs and trying to get going, Ryan Reynauld has already made it to the top by the start of the story. He’s popular enough to need a personal bodyguard as he walks around New York City, and he has his life set up the way he wants it. He is the only POV character in the book. This is the first time I’ve used only a male POV in a novel. “Finishing Touches” is all in Jenna’s viewpoint, and the Rehearsal series varies between the three main characters (different scenes for different characters – I don’t head hop). 

I didn’t at all plan for Ryan to be the POV character. My original intent was for Kaitlyn to take that role. It was her story that first formed in my head. The premise was based on quiet types – those of us who aren’t comfortable speaking in public or even in small groups. I wanted to focus on what it was like inside the head of such a person. Of course, I had to build her background as to why she felt that way, and her story grew deeper than I expected. I also wanted a way to pull her out of it, at least to an extent, and that’s where Ryan came along.

The viewpoint problem started as Ryan’s character grew in my head. He’s actually based (lightly) on a current pop singer whose lyrics I adore. It was the idea of who he was behind the scenes and how he became such a poetic soul to write such gorgeous lyrics when his outer appearance is so opposite that. It was entirely too intriguing and started to take over the story and I knew he couldn’t be only a secondary character to Kaitlyn. I had the thing in my head somewhat plotted, with the plan to alternate between Ryan and Kaitlyn, when I decided to use the story as my 2007 Nanowrimo novel, just to get it started.

A funny thing happened, though. Ryan hijacked the story and kept it for himself. He was too strong to fight.



Friday, January 24, 2020

Off the Moon 2009 Blog Tour - Interview with Daws and Ryan

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Steph Burkhart  Nov.29
Original Post



Hello! Today I’m welcoming back my celebrity reporter, AK Avoxx. He’s managed to not only get the infamous Ryan Reynauld on the interview block again, but also his bodyguard Fred Dawson, better known as Daws. I hear he had an interesting time juggling both together, especially as Daws is not known for talking to reporters other than to tell them to back off. Take it away, AK!

AK:  Ryan? Wait, Ryan! Can I catch up with you again for a minute?

RR:  Hey AK, I’m kinda in a hurry. Schedule with my publicist..

AK:  I was just talking with Ned and thought I’d bounce what he said off you.

RR:  (turns) Ned? (note a slight eye rolling) Why?

AK:  Happened to run into him and he was glad to talk.

RR:  Yeah, I’m sure he was. What do I have to argue this time?

AK:  Other than comparing you to a baby kitten, he actually focused a lot on the respect he has for you.

RR:  (throws a glance at Daws when he chuckles)  Uh huh, sorry, I have to run and I’ll talk to my drummer about the kitten comment. You could maybe not print it.

AK:  Tell you what. I won’t print it if you’ll give me a few minutes. 

Daws:  Sounds like blackmail.

AK:  Not at all. Only an offer. So what’s with the girl? The one usually by your side now?

Daws:  No comment. As he said, he has a schedule to keep. (starts pushing Ryan along)

AK:  Hear she’s related. (moves around in front of Ryan, pushing his luck with Daws) That true?

RR:  How about we talk about the new album? Isn’t that what people want to hear? Do that and I’ll give you a few minutes.

Daws:  Reynauld, you’re already late. We gotta get moving.

RR:  Yeah so they’ll deal with it. (eyes AK) Work for you?

AK:  Guess if that’s my only option. So how’s it coming along?

RR:  Like pouring molasses with a hangover, thanks for asking.

Daws:  Don’t print that.

RR:  Why? It’s truth, but it’ll come along as always.

Daws:  It would come along faster if you would get to the studio and quit jabbing.

RR:  Hey, I made a deal with the man.

Daws:  And you like to hear your own voice. One minute, Reynauld. Only one.

RR:  (grins and returns to AK)  What else did you want to know about it?

AK:  Is the girl hanging around slowing your progress?

RR:  Has a girl ever slowed my progress? (shrugs with a grin) Have a dozen girls at a time slowed my progess?

Daws:  Reynauld. You want him to print that?

RR:  Why not?

Daws:  Give the man something he can use and let’s go.

RR:  All right, don’t get your shorts in a knot. (ignores a glare from his guard) The album. No title yet. Still floating a few songs around we’re unsure about.  But we’re in the studio a lot so there is some progress. It should work out to something buyable.

AK:  Should?

Daws:  It’s coming along well. You know he doesn’t talk up his own music.

AK:  So how about you share more since he doesn’t say much about his works in progress?

Daws:  As always, good songs, deeper meaning than most bother to get, and Mac’s producing again. The songs are floating around because they’re all recordable. It’s a matter of choosing which to put on this one.

RR:  How about you two sit here and chat and I’ll go on to work?

Daws:  (grabs Ryan’s arm as he turns) Try your own version of that instead of making it sound unbuyable, which Patricia will not appreciate, by the way.

RR:  So it’ll give her a challenge.

Daws:  You give her enough challenge. And everyone else, too.

AK:  Speaking of, what was that stunt about the other day? With the girl and window ledge? Actually a stunt or more than that?

RR:  Hey, didya see the press I got from it? Well worth the fine. Might have to try it again in some way, or something as spectacular. Sure beat my impromptu bridge concert. Nice fine on that one, too. Didn’t expect people to stop driving!

AK:  Traffic jam for two hours. I’m sure that was a good fine. Next time you plan a stunt, give me a call, would you? 

RR:  Hey, you know they aren’t planned in advance. They just kinda happen last minute. More fun that way. I’m sure something else will come up soon if you wanna keep tailing me.

Daws:  (shakes his head) I have to find a better job.

RR:  Yeah, you know I keep you from getting bored. (shoves his arm)  Been more than a minute, I think.

Daws:  Well over. 

AK:  So you’re really giving me nothing at all about the girl living with you?

RR:  Well, for the record..

Daws:  Reynauld, no comment. That’s all you need to say.

RR:  No, I have to say this. She’s staying at my place, not living with me. In the spare room. Not mine. And that’s all I’m saying at this point.

AK:  At this point? So possibly…

RR:  Hey, if I decide to say more, I’ll have Patricia give you a call. But I gotta go.

AK:  Thanks for your time and I’ll wait on that phone call. (watches Daws push Ryan through the crowd of girls that had formed around them during the interview)  There you have it, straight from the kitten’s mouth. A possibly buyable album slowly on the way and a girl in the spare room. There has to be a better story behind all of that.


Official Off The Moon Website with Buy Links


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Off The Moon 2009 Blog Tour - Author Interview

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: CRR  Nov.27

Permalink to Tour Posts


[This was a Release Day post where I asked FB friends to ask questions and used them as an author interview.]


~~ How does a struggling author cope with struggling?

Chocolate. And coffee. ;-)  Okay, in all seriousness, I’m a big believer in balance. There are many, many downs that come along with writing -- from not-so-great reviews to downright rejection -- and there are days I feel like standing up, turning off the computer, and never opening my Word program again. Of course, reality sets in and I know that’s not an option. So I let myself sulk a bit, then yank myself up by the boot straps and remember WHY I’m doing this. It’s what I am. The downs are just part of the territory and the ups will return, especially if I go into my ‘special’ file, which means the place I store not only my good reviews but also some very sweet words I’ve been offered along the way about my work.

I also walk away temporarily enough to balance my writing life with the rest of my life. I garden. I read. I chat with my family. I do yoga or aerobics. I watch a very few fun TV shows. I blast my music. I email friends and play online (yes, sometimes I play, it’s not all work).

And I constantly remind myself that with every down comes an up if I only stay in it long enough to allow it to come.


~~ How do you write what you feel compelled to write without editing and/or changing it to 'please' people?  In other words, how do you stay true to yourself in your craft?

This is probably much easier for me than it is for many writers, because I’m an indie. I don’t have restrictions or guidelines I have to follow in order to be accepted for a contract. 

On the other hand, there is always the issue of knowing, “Hey, my family and friends may read this and wow, this is … uh, kinda intense/embarrassing.” That thought does cross my mind, but then, I don’t write actual sex scenes, so although if I thought about my sensual scenes and family members reading them, I would be a bit embarrassed, but it’s not horribly embarrassing. I’ve learned to pretty well block that out of my head while I’m working on a book. I turn the outside world off and BE my characters. It’s their story, not mine. Some of my viewpoints are there, but so are some viewpoints I don’t agree with because my characters would. I like to present both sides of things when I can and like most literary fiction, I focus on the questions, not the answers. So if I’m talking about religious or political issues, for instance, I’ll generally have characters with differing ideas as to how they feel about it. I can still put my own feelings in there, but it doesn’t become preachy or know-it-all. 

I consider this being true to myself because I know I don’t have all the answers anymore than anyone else does. I do have a lot of questions and thoughts and opinions. If it makes readers consider things in different views, that’s a very positive outcome, even if they don’t agree with mine. ;-)  I find myself not pulling as many punches as I grow as a writer, though, and I think that’s a good thing, also. It’s a certain confidence that we all hopefully learn as we go with whatever career we’re in.

That doesn’t mean I don’t wonder about whatever reactions might come. I often do. I just keep going because that’s what feels right.


~~ How do you shut out your life and concentrate on writing?  Don't you find all the interruptions taking over sometimes?

It’s funny, when I first started writing novels instead of only dabbling with notes and scenes and such (13 years ago!), my kids were very young and I was writing everything long-hand and then eventually typing it into the computer my husband pushed me to use. Most of my work was done in the living room on the couch or at the computer desk where I could keep an eye on what was going on. With a three year old who liked to climb out his bedroom window and over the 6 foot privacy fence to find friends, or up the fence to the roof (honestly), my head was always first on him. It had to be. Much of my actual story planning was done while washing dishes and cooking and such. I got little progress done on paper in those days, other than nights when my husband came home and dinner was out of the way and I would escape into my bedroom and close the door with my loose-leaf paper and pencil. Even then, I was often interrupted by someone just saying hello. I couldn’t make them understand that a simple thing such as that could make me lose whatever I had in my head to say next.

Most of my writing life has been much the same, in between kids and jobs and moving. It used to drive me insane at times because my story was fully formed in my head and finding time to get it down was near impossible. Much of my actual work time was at night after the day job and dinner and clean-up and the kids were settled. At one point, after I stopped handwriting and started typing directly into the computer (much, much faster!), we were in military housing and had one very small room that served as living/dining/den, as well as hearing the kids next door thumping up and down the stairs. I was finishing my degree at the same time and had no choice but to learn to block the noise out. Over the years, I’ve also come to where, instead of being frustrated when something pulls me away and I lose what I was about to write, I can be mid-sentence, stop to answer a kid, and turn right back and keep going without skipping a beat. I had to teach myself to do it. Now I even write with my son playing his drumset over my head and hardly even notice it.

Writing, though, is how I jump out of my own world. It’s at the point now I have to remind myself to BE where I am in real life instead of where my characters are. I hardly go anywhere or do anything without my characters coming along, and I’m constantly picking up possible character traits or story lines when I am focused on the real world around me.


Thanks so much to Judah Raine for the fantastic tour she set up this month, and to all of my very gracious hosts!



Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Off The Moon 2009 Blog Tour - Family Relationships

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Lizzie Starr  Nov.25
Original Post

Permalink to Tour Posts


Family Relationships
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Hi Lizzie! 

Thanks for having me at your blog! I read one of your posts on someone’s blog the other day where you mentioned how your Keltic books inadvertently became a family saga. Today, related to that thought, I’m going to make a bit of a confession about my new book that I haven’t yet. In time..

Family is a huge theme in all of my novels, either with direct involvement or with family background that affects a character’s thoughts or actions. Sometimes both. In “Finishing Touches” Jenna marries young to escape her parents who have little to do with her. In the Rehearsal series, Susie loses her mother young and her father, who she adores, travels for work, leaving her with a friend of her parents she can’t connect with. One of the main male characters is nearly smothered by his single mom and the other escapes home to get out of a situation that gets out of hand. All of these characters show the results of their family lives within their current stories. There is also interaction with certain family members within the novels.

Like Lizzie, my original intent was not to build a family saga, but the Rehearsal series is becoming one, as well as focusing strongly on romance and friendship. In fact, it’s becoming such an invasive theme, that not only will one of its characters be the MC (main character) of the sequel, but she also jumped into Ryan’s story as I was writing it.

Here’s the confession: Dani, Ryan’s best friend in “Off The Moon,” was pulled from the Rehearsal series. She actually pulled herself in, as I had no intention of doing so while planning the book. As Rehearsal begins in 1974, and this one is a contemporary, Dani grows up not only in the world of music, but also with readers who follow my work. References to bands in “Off The Moon” come from the series. It’s not at all necessary to read the series in order to follow “Off The Moon” but the whole background story is available for Dani and Raucous. I should say it’s currently half available. Two of the series of four are out. The third is my next book-to-come.

Back to Ryan and family, his brother is a prevalent minor character and the loss of their father in Ryan’s teen years makes the brother relationship different than it would have been. Will is six years older and has taken over as a father-figure through the years. Now that Ryan is an adult, they have to readjust. Ryan’s relationship with his mom is also an interesting one. As his personality is very two-sided, so is the way he reacts to his mother, as well as to most of the authority-type women around him.

Kaitlyn’s relationship with her family is even more complicated, but I can’t say much here for fear of giving away the story. ;-)

What do you, as readers, think about family backgrounds in novels? Do you like to see them? Are they interference to the story? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.


Official Off The Moon Website with Buy Links


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Off The Moon 2009 Blog Tour - Silence: Sword and Shield

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Sandy James  Nov.23

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Silence: Sword and Shield
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Hi Sandy! I’ve been following the incredible success of your books and am glad to be here today to chat with you. They are still on my TBR list. Following this tour, I think December will get to be heavy reading month. ;-)

So far, I’ve been focusing largely on Ryan, my mc/hero. I want to turn things around today and start delving into Kaitlyn’s story.

As I mentioned at my last stop with Maryann, Kaitlyn has had a very traumatic life for still being so young. She’s a teen, which is a boundary push for romance, while Ryan is in his mid-twenties. I may have just lost readers, but I should say that I do not write graphic scenes and Ryan does nothing illegal, if that pulls anyone back.

We all deal with different types of trauma by different means. I know one of Sandy’s books deals with the Iraq war and a hero recovering from that experience. Kaitlyn is dealing with the effects of a different kind of war and is very much in the post-traumatic stage when Ryan meets her. She’s had incredible loss in several parts of her life and feels she has nothing left. Ryan’s job throughout the story is to convince her she’s wrong.

The way she deals with trauma is to become nearly silent, pulling into herself as a means of protection. Ryan is a talker. In fact, he rambles just to ramble. This opposite way of dealing with his own issues makes for an interesting comparison and pulls Kaitlyn in immediately. Even though she doesn’t have any POV during the story, we clearly see her study him as he rambles, picking out what he’s actually saying, or not saying, in between the nonsense. Ryan, in turn, has to figure out what Kaitlyn is thinking by what she doesn’t say.

At first appearance, she seems opposite of most romance heroines. Strong, independent, in control women dominate the current romance scene. And why not? Women are indeed taking their places on stage now instead of being controlled and background as they were in the past. However, not all strong, independent women need to be outspoken and aggressive. Strength and control have many faces. One of them is silence.

Refusing to talk is Kaitlyn’s shield. It protects her from anyone seeing too far inside. It is also a very sharp sword. As a fairly silent person myself, I’ve seen how it can frustrate someone talkative who needs that constant communication. It also frustrates Ryan. The more frustrated he becomes, the more silent she is – her only way of controlling him and the situation.
As it turns out, Kaitlyn is actually a very strong heroine who does take control as she needs. In fact, she’s so far my strongest heroine. She knows what she wants and is willing to risk everything to get it. There is a much larger point made in this novel: don’t underestimate the quiet people in your life. Most often, there is a lot more strength behind it than can be imagined.

Take that as a warning. ;-)



Monday, January 20, 2020

Off The Moon 2009 Blog Tour: Pushing Boundaries

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Maryann Miller  Nov.21
Original Post

Permalink to Tour Posts


Pushing Boundaries with Trauma and Genre
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Hi Maryann! It’s great to be here to talk with you and your readers today. Since your blog focuses on the absurdities of life, I thought I’d talk about Pushing Boundaries with Trauma and Genre. 

I’m a big fan of mainstream/literary fiction: those authors who delve deeply into the grittiness of life – John Irving, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Joyce Carol Oates. They don’t pull punches. They write what they’ve seen in some manner. And they write about some of the biggest societal issues of their individual times. They’re social historians.

On the other hand, I’m a romantic at heart. I like happy endings. I enjoy exploring what makes us choose one mate over another and what holds us together or drives us apart. When you mix those genres, there are bound to be crossed lines.

Up to now, my novels blended the two without much line-crossing. Finishing Touches can nearly be called a sweet romance, although I push it just far enough to call it sensual. Its biggest line-cross is that there is only one POV – the heroine’s. Otherwise, the story reads quickly and deals with loss and personal exploration, but mainly with relationship building. It ends happily. My Rehearsal series is fairly light, although each one gets heavier as the characters grow up, and includes both heroine and hero POV, plus the antagonist’s viewpoint. Its biggest line-cross is the length: each book is quite long.

My most recent, Off The Moon, is a true boundary pusher. It is still romance, with the necessary “girl-meets-boy, separation of some kind, happy together ending” story line. However, unlike most contemporary romance heroines, Kaitlyn is not strong, independent, and sure of what she wants. (Or is she?) She’s very quiet. Ryan often has to try to figure out what she means from her cryptic words. She’s also very young for a romance heroine. This is part of the story conflict that leads to the mainstream approach of exploring cultural issues. How is age of consent determined? Who decides when it’s proper and when it’s not? Where does that line between right and wrong meet and cross? In current society where so many of our teens are having children while they still are children, this issue is foremost in many minds. Why are they starting so young? Is it hurting them? What are they looking for?

The story is gritty. It deals with loss and abuse and trust issues. There are references to casual sexual relations, although none is shown more than a hint. Mental care issues come in to play, as does health care and single parenting.

As I was writing the story, I was often in a quandary about where it was headed. I allow my characters to go where they need to go, to tell their story as they need to tell it. This one took a very deep turn as Ryan’s voice pervaded and I kept stopping to think, “Oh, but romance readers won’t expect that, or possibly appreciate it.” Still, his voice wouldn’t silence. Neither would Kaitlyn’s. They had things to say and it had to be said true to their stories.

Kaitlyn has a lot of trauma in her past by the time she meets Ryan. There were times I thought I’d pushed it too far, had given her too much to deal with. And then I would catch bits of the news, real events I had trouble believing would actually happen. Life is absurd, indeed. Fiction might need to make more sense than life in some ways, but it should also reflect it. 

Did I push the boundaries of romance fiction too far while merging with mainstream this time? For those who want light and quick, probably. It’s not a quick read. It includes not only scenes necessary for the plot, but also Ryan’s musings about the plot issues. For those who enjoy very deep, full characters with full backgrounds and family histories, I think it isn’t too far across the line. Boundary pushing readers will understand. Maybe they’ll even see themselves here and there.

It does have a happy ending, as will all of my novels. Even if life doesn’t always.


Off The Moon Official Website with Buy Links