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

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

Permalink to Tour Posts

Silence: Sword and Shield

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

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

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Just Be

©Sandra Boynton
The other day, while driving into town, I noticed someone down the road already had a Valentine's Day flag up in their yard. My first impulse was to grin, partially being glad they care that much about the day celebrating all things love, but also thinking that it's the middle of January. We barely got over the big Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year season.

I don't know about anyone else, but I need the downtime of January to simply get back to daily routines and maybe work on new ones at the beginning of the year. I love the holiday season, but much of me is glad when it's over.

I feel somewhat envious, at times, of those who can already look forward to the next holiday to celebrate. But...

How about just being?

Recognize each non-holiday day for what it is: an opportunity, a chance, a gift. Focus on it. Face it. Make the most of it. Regular is good. Normal is nice. We introverts know this deeply. Just let us be. Let us think our daily thoughts without outside things pulling at us, such as, "I still have do this or get this before (...) this day," or "How extravagant should I get and is it too much or not enough..."

Isn't all of that exhausting? Or is it just me?

Apparently National Nothing Day is a thing, and it's on January 16th. I have to scratch my head over that one. Wait, you made it a national day to be recognized that we don't have to recognize any This-or-That day or a holiday of some sort? Did whoever creates these things simply run out of ideas? There's a day marked for nearly everything under the sun until most of it honestly means nothing anymore.

I'm happy to not have to recognize any special thing most days. As a writer, some experts say to check those national day things in advance and use them as promo in some way...

Yeah... I'm too busy and too tired from daily stuff to bother. I rarely even bring up Valentine's Day, and for someone who writes love stories, that's a huge promo no-no. Shrug. I can only do what I can do, and I focus on today and on my self-imposed deadlines and goals. I just can't be that bothered by other people's "do this on this day" rhetoric. I haven't even finished my Christmas gifting yet. Maybe I'll do it for Valentine's Day. Same thought, right?

Here's to not celebrating anything today...

Friday, January 17, 2020

OTM 2009 Blog Tour - Home: That Special Fit

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Lindsay’s Romantics  Nov.19

[This blog was originally posted at the above link. You can still find it there.]

Permalink to Tour Posts

A big Hello to Lindsay and all the Romantics. Is it me or does that sound like a music group? 
I’m glad my blog tour, hosted by CRR Promotions, stopped here at the Pink Blog. As I try to adapt my subjects to each blog as possible, I searched my mind for a “special” theme related to my new book, Off The Moon, and came up with Home. Not just any home, but the right home, the home where our characters find a special fit.

How many of you have moved homes more than once? More than that? According to, my generation is that of the nomad. We’re risk-takers. We came from “an unprotected background” and have a tendency to be alienated. Trying to fit somewhere when you have the natural tendency to be a nomad can be difficult. Look at the way so many of us are constantly on the move. Few of our parents, other than those with travel jobs, strayed far from their home base and families. If they needed more space, they built on. Moving was rare once a household was established. And yet, it’s hard to find many of us who have lived in fewer than three homes during our lives so far. I’ve lived in ten different dwellings, but fortunately am now settled until I’m too old to maintain the place. Of course, things change and you never know.

 I’m one who believes a home chooses us as much as the other way around. It’s much more than a place. It’s a feeling. Of all of those places I’ve been, only two have been truly comfortable. Most were okay for temporary purposes. Two were near soul-killing. It was the place. I didn’t fit. Something inside when I was young told me the state where I grew up was not where I belonged. The east called out. As I settled in a place I chose, a place that felt comfortable, I made an incredible discovery: things that bothered me in those other places hardly have an effect here. My whole inner nature feels more at peace.

 So how do we relate that to our characters?

Ryan, my POV character, was an Army brat and talks now and then about having to move. He especially mentions one place he felt at home. It still calls out to him even though he’s grown up and has chosen New York City as his residence. He likes NY, not only because his job is centered there, but also because it reminds him of nomads (which he is, also). Residents go about their own business, not connecting to each other and not noticing that he doesn’t connect. He fits and he doesn’t, and it’s a comfortable place to be. He visits his brother’s family in Vermont now and then and enjoys the visit but remains detached from the place. It may be his family’s home, but it’s not his. He is never fully at ease there (for reasons beyond place but we’ll stick with place for this post) and relaxes upon return to his NYC loft.

And then he finds Kaitlyn, an unwilling transport to the city. She’s homeless and even more disconnected than Ryan. The difference is that she doesn’t deal with it as well as he does. She needs connection. She needs Home. Ryan senses it in her. It draws him in and pushes him away. As other people become involved in the decision of where she should be, against her will, Ryan has to choose to give in or to fight.

 “You can’t tell someone where their home is. Trust me, I know. I lived in lots of houses. Lots of towns. It’s only home if it feels like it to you, not because someone says it’s supposed to be. This one was her choice.”

 By the end of my stories, my characters not only find their special mate, but they also find their special place: their true home. I suppose I do so because it has been such a deep issue personally.

 How about your special place? I would love to hear Home stories!


Thursday, January 16, 2020

OTM 2009 Blog Tour - An Interview With Ned

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Lainey Bancroft  Nov.17

[This blog originally appeared at the above link. It is no longer available.]

Permalink to Tour Posts

Hi Lainey, it’s great to be here today! Thanks so much for being part of my first-ever blog tour.

I thought I’d shift gears today and do an interview with Ned. Ned has no last name we know of, but he’s been one of Ryan’s musicians for the past six years. My celebrity reporter, AK Avoxx, caught up with him at the beginning of our story, just after Ryan finds Kaitlyn and introduces her to his musicians. Ned is quite the talker. Let’s hear what he had to say:

AK:  Excuse me, you’re Ryan Reynauld’s drummer, isn’t that right?

Ned: Riveting Ryan? Yeah, I work for him. With him. However you want to say it.

AK: Which is it? Do you work for him or with him?

Ned: Some of both, I guess. He’s the boss. Sort of. I mean, it’s his name selling the records, but he’s not very ‘in charge’ if you know what I mean.

AK: I’m not sure I do. I hear he’s fairly demanding as to what he wants.

Ned: (laughs) Yeah, at times. But then, he’s got the talent, you know? The songs, the voice, the performance factor. Why shouldn’t he be? But he’s not what you think.

AK: No? And how’s that?

Ned: Sorry, can’t say that much. Just don’t believe everything you see.

AK: You can’t give us an example?

Ned: Example. Well. You know how it looks like he’s ‘demanding’ as you say? It’s not that. He is, with himself, but when people jump to do things the way he wants, it’s out of respect, not fear. Not intimidation, as I’ve heard going around. Ry’s one of the least intimidating people you’ll ever meet.

AK: Respect? Sounds like you have some respect for him, as well. Is that musical or personal?

Ned: Both. Great talent. Good guy.

AK: You’re close to him, other than the job?

Ned: I’ve known him for six years, but nah, not close, I can’t say. He’s not close to anyone he works with. Daws maybe, more than anyone. Everyone else is part of the job. Includes me, even if I do keep barging in on him. Some day, you know, people decide they need friends even if they think they don’t.

AK: Daws?

Ned: His bodyguard. Chief bodyguard. He sticks close to Reynauld and runs the rest of the team. Closest thing he has to a friend, I would say. Work-wise. He has a good friend he doesn’t get to see much. He’s just really choosy about them.

AK: Strange, as outgoing as he looks in public, I expected he would have a ton of ‘close’ friends, as well as all of his girlfriends. So are the stories true about all the girlfriends one after another?

Ned: After? (laughs) Ry doesn’t have girlfriends. His job is his mistress. He gets off on writing incredible songs, seeing the audience reaction, the record sales. The girls are part of the job, nothing more. Now and then one’ll try to hook him more but he’s good at getting out of it without too many bad feelings. And it’s not like he tries to start anything. They’re all over him. Works great for us. Plenty of leftovers for the band and crew, if you know what I mean.

AK: Yes, well … this is for a PG rated article, so we’ll bypass that one. The friend you mentioned? The singer everyone says he’s hooked to more than he lets on?

Ned: Sorry, can’t talk about that, either. Off limits. Even he doesn’t.

AK: Why?

Ned: (shrugs)

AK:  Okay, so tell me about this girl he’s been hanging out with recently. She’s not a girlfriend, either?

Ned: Kaitlyn. Nah. Tell the truth, I’m not sure what’s up with her. Not a girlfriend. Not one of his girls, so he says. Quiet kid. Won’t talk to any of us. Not usually the type he takes home. Not that he’s all that particular, but…

AK: Kid? There’s talk of how young she is, enough it has people wanting to know. How old is she?

Ned: Don’t know that, either. But nothing’s going on for anyone to worry about. Want a small inside secret about Reynauld?

AK: Of course.

Ned: Don’t believe what you see. He gets riled easily but he wouldn’t harm a gnat. Well, maybe a gnat if it annoyed him while he was working, and that’s because the gnat would have it coming. But seriously, he has a good heart, whatever you might hear. Anyone he cares about, he’ll stand up for however he has to. No one needs to worry about the girl around him. And I gotta run now. Have a studio date.

AK: One more before you go. You called him Riveting Ryan. I hear he doesn’t like the nickname.

Ned: (laughs) Yeah. No, he hates it. So you know, I have to give him a hard time. Someone’s got to and most are too afraid to do it. He’s got a temper. But you know, it’s like a baby kitten hissing at you. Funny, ‘cause maybe it can scratch but how much harm is it really gonna do?

AK: I’m sure he’d love that comparison.

Ned: I’m sure he won’t. Maybe don’t print that. On the other hand, print it. I’ll get a kick out of seeing his face when he reads it, if he bothers. He doesn’t much. He doesn’t pay much attention to anything printed about him.

AK: Interesting. I’d love to sit and chat more with you, so give me a call if you have time again.

Ned: Good luck with that one. I may get a gag order after this. (laughs and starts walking away) Hey, and make sure you pick up the next album ‘cause I have a feeling it’s gonna be something different. Later.

AK: So, we still have time left. Anyone have questions for Ned they’d like me to ask if he doesn’t get a gag order?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

OTM 2009 Blog Tour - Metaphorical Reality

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Sandra Sookoo Nov.15

[This blog was originally posted at the above link. It is no longer available there.]

Permalink to Tour Posts

Hi Sandra! Thanks for having me on your blog today. In honor of your “seeing is believing” theme, I thought I’d talk about metaphor and reality.

“The moon had no light of its own, and no warmth. Like the window, it could only throw back an imitation of what it saw. It made people believe there was a man within, that it had illuminating powers, when there were nothing but craters. Scars from being knocked around. Disguised by false light.”
-- from Off The Moon

I love metaphor. It reminds me of impressionist paintings and Seurat’s pointillism. It’s making one thing become something else, or it’s a hint of something. It’s poetic and active. Nearly breathing. Sometimes it’s so transparent you can’t help but see it; other times it’s subtle and missed unless you pay close attention. Either way, it’s one of the basic tools of writing and highly effective when done well.

Our characters are often metaphors themselves. They stand for something we want to say. Consider Edmund in The Count of Monte Cristo. Edmund is a very real character, full and complete. He is also a metaphor for rightful vengeance. Or Anna in Anna Karenina; a metaphor for social entrapment.

In the short excerpt above, and often throughout Off The Moon, the moon is a metaphor. I won’t say much about it at this point, for fear of giving the story away,  but Ryan tends to think in metaphor. It could be from his songwriting experience, or maybe he was a born poet. But just as things begin to appear differently within his own life, the moon and what it means to be “off” changes, as well. It is both a real object that draws conversation between Ryan and Kaitlyn and an enigma, sometimes like Kaitlyn herself. Other times like Ryan. It becomes a character instead of only a symbol.

Any of you who read or write poetry knows the beauty of metaphor. We can say something that sounds very simple and easy to understand and yet actually mean something much deeper. For instance, these are two lines of a poem I wrote recently (I’m not a poet. I play in it at times.)

Nature’s palette adds its own paint
shifting greens to golds

Simple. The poem is called September Whispers so it’s easy to see it refers to leaves changing in the fall. However, the leaves are only a cover, so to speak. Underneath, it refers to the aging process, with hair turning silver and newness becoming experience. Green often refers to inexperience. Gold to quality and richness.

There is much metaphor through Off The Moon, as well. Don’t worry, though, it’s much easier to understand than my poetry.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

OTM Blog Tour 2009 - Celebrities: Truth vs. Hype

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Nancy O’Berry Nov.13

[This blog was originally posted at the above link. You can still find it there.]

Permalink for Tour Posts

Hi Nancy! Thanks for having me today. :-)

So, any idea who Gerard is “with” this week? According to the tabloids, it seems he’s hooked up to a different girl about every week. He says he’s not hooked to anyone. What’s new in CelebrityLand?

One of the issues in Off The Moon is the difference between what we see and hear about actors and singers who have made it to the big time. We hear about the stalkers and restraining orders and anger outbursts, but what’s really going on? Do celebs actually have no right to privacy when they’re out and about?

In Wednesday’s blog post with Liana, I put up a short excerpt that included Ryan talking with his brother about how his celebrity status has affected his family. There’s much more to the story, though. When he rescues Kaitlyn and pulls her into his world, rumors fly and many of his decisions are made with regard to what fans and the press will think.

I’ve heard, sometimes first-hand, from big-name singers who had to deal with dashing through the airport in order to try to evade fans and how their spouses have been harrassed and even injured by fans who go over the edge. I also tend to read musician autobiographies and watch interviews and such. The situations in Off The Moon (as well as in my Rehearsal series) that deal with fans are real-life, not real but based on real events. They lose hair and get clothes torn and sometimes even cracked ribs from overwhelming crowds.

It’s not only hard on the celebrities, but also on those close to them. They’re never quite sure if someone wants to know them for them or to try to get to the celeb.

The other issue is: how much of what we hear is true? I know of publicists/managers who have changed facts to make singers look better, or worse. Celebrity reporters catch glimpses of things and turn them into stories based on a fact or two, but out of context or stretched beyond what it was. Everything on the outside appears glamorous and fun, when behind the scenes, they often have a myriad of problems most of us will never know. And shouldn’t.

Ryan gets thoroughly caught up in trying to “handle” the publicity when he lets Kaitlyn stay at his place. As they struggle to settle her issues, the added stress of what is said, true or not, complicates matters. Kaitlyn is suddenly faced with having her private life splayed all over the media because of his career. Even her most private, hurtful moments are revealed as she tries to heal.

I’ve heard many say celebrities choose that life and have to expect it. Is that true? Should they? I can say that if my name as a writer ever gets up there with Laurell Kay Hamilton, I’ll still expect to be able to maintain my private life. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), writers aren’t seen as celebs as much as singers and actors. If they were, maybe there would be a few included on Dancing With The Stars. Wouldn’t that be nice?

What do you think about celebrities and privacy and what we hear? Do fans have the right to flock to them in public? Do writers have the right to print half-truth articles that question intimate details? Do we really need to know who is dating whom this week? Is it true? How much do you think is true or manufactured?

Monday, January 13, 2020

OTM 2009 Blog Tour - An Army Brat

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Liana Lavarentz Nov.11

[This blog was originally posted at the above link. You can still find it there.]

Permalink to Tour Posts

Hi Liana! It’s great to be here on your blog! Since it’s Veteran’s Day here in the States and since I’ve enjoyed your talks about balance and wellness, I thought I’d incorporate those today.

Let’s start with a quick excerpt from Off The Moon. Here, Ryan is visiting his brother and is followed by a photographer looking for private moments. (slightly edited to maintain PG rating for the blog):

Ryan sighed. “I’m really sorry about this.”

“Not your fault.” Will called the dog back and stroked her to help her calm.

“How is it not my fault?”

His brother shrugged as though photographers hanging around his backyard was an everyday occurrence. “It’s your right to do the job you love. Not your fault the country is star crazy.”

“Not like I haven’t tried to feed into it, though. You know how much time and energy goes into feeding it? To grab as much limelight as possible to help sales? Part of me gets angry when they badger me like this, but then, I’ve never minded when it pay the bills.”

“Part of the job. We all have the right to support our careers. And don’t think I’ve always felt that way. I’ve had my share of being ticked off at the invasion into our lives because of it, but it’s not like we’re not used to being affected so much by a career. We grew up that way. More than most can understand.”

Ryan couldn’t argue that. Growing up a military brat and having to move every couple of years to wherever the Army said, like it or not, leaving friends behind, never with extended family around, hearing all of the political ramblers argue whether their parents were heroes or villains without knowing them and with no idea why they chose that life or what it was actually like on the inside … they were both well used to living on the outskirts of regular society instead of within it.

“You escaped it, though, decided to blend in. My choice shouldn’t affect you and your family.” He kept his eyes in the distance, in case the photographer decided to return.

“It’s not ever possible to not affect those around you with your choices. You know that. And you balance it well – your need with ours. 

Although he’s known as self-centered and self-serving, Ryan grew up with military parents. He  thinks of his life as growing up on the “outskirts of regular society” and it affects his overall outlook. Part of him resents the moving and he blames his lack of attachment on protecting himself. On the other hand, he has a lot of respect for his parents and the way they taught him to follow rules and to do chores and be a real part of maintaining the household. 

He spends his days doing what he can to grab attention and to perpetuate the rebellious independent wild child image for his career and even tells himself that’s what he is. However, his roots nag at him. During his rebellion and the crazy stunts, the side of him that’s more down-to-earth and family oriented helps to keep him balanced so he doesn’t go too far over the edge. He also does what he can to keep it from bothering his family, and his family in turn, helps to protect his privacy and gives him shelter from the craziness of his job.

I enjoyed playing with the idea of balancing “selfish pop star” with “serving military family.” Anyone who is or has been military or knows service members and their families well knows that “selfish” is the antithesis of what being military means. Although in recent years there has been a surge of support for the military, for too many years before that, they were severely underappreciated and even dealt with a lot of spite. Some sectors of civilian population still treat them that way. The true story of the school child during the first year of the Iraq war who had to sit in class and listen to his teacher talk about how anyone fighting there was “evil” haunted me. It still does. That’s where the hero or villain bit of this excerpt came about.

Ryan is haunted, also, by taunts he heard from the civilian sector as a child. He has trouble relating to anyone outside his career or outside military life because he’s never been part of anything else. His career both avoids and embraces his “outskirt” raising. Being a pop star keeps him outside regular society and he’s comfortable there. Many sides of Ryan conflict, appear to be opposites, but looking close enough, it’s a parallel to military life: fighting for peace, separating from those you love to protect those you don’t know,  vulnerability that creates strength and vice versa. It also balances him so well, he’s able to adapt to whatever situation he’s faced with, no matter how hard it is on him, physically and mentally.