Sending Your Baby Into the World

My veteran author friends tell me this feeling will never really go away. You come to love your characters as you write them. Care for them, guide them through the challenges they face.

Then you send them out into the world.

As a debut author, the idea that people I don’t know are reading my book is both exciting and scary.

Exciting because this is why we write, to tell stories. To entertain. To inspire. To enlighten. Or even just to let someone have a small respite from the reality of their lives.

Scary because. Well, it feels to me the same way I felt when I watched my (then) teenage son back out of the driveway, driving by himself, alone, out into the world.

While I know everyone has different tastes in reading material and my book won’t be for everyone, just like a mother, it’s hard to let go and let Sadie and Wyatt make their own way out in the world.

But reviews like this help. A lot! Thanks Kathy Altman for the amazing review!

Book Cover Front

I think they’ll be just fine.

The Older Woman and The Fine Art of Not Giving a Fuck

20089_723200641118205_8713578094530833430_n

I’m hearing more and more young women (and men) using the phrase, “I don’t give a fuck”.

I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.

I’ve heard young women throwing the phrase around like it’s this week’s bae or fleek.

But I see them giving fucks about EVERYTHING. Constantly. They GAF about those K-people on TV. They GAF about the person who cut them off in traffic. They GAF about the random stranger who said something rude to them.

They are bleeding GAFs.

Helen-Mirren-quote

What, exactly, is not giving a fuck?

It is a skill. A skill most refined in mature women who have seen a thing or two in their lives. Who have lived through several life altering events.

The biggest misunderstanding is that not giving a fuck means that you don’t care.

No. Not at all. It means you care DEEPLY.

But you ONLY care deeply about the things that matter to you. Traffic? No fucks. Latest celebrity scandal? No fucks. My granddaughter? ALL THE FUCKS.

My friend TOJ (The Other Janet – Janet Edens Conover) once said she saw her GAFs as a trust fund she was born with. The older and wiser she became, the less she was tempted to throw them away. She needed to save her GAFs for important stuff.

Judi Dench

To truly not GAF, you must know yourself. Intimately. You must be emotionally and intellectually honest with yourself. You must be able to forgive. To move on. To not carry forward the burden of fucks you wasted in the past. You will not be afraid to speak your mind because you know how precious your fucks are and you will not waste them. No matter how hard people try to make you give one.

12027770_905141342888663_2651021203707791144_n

Know your circus.

Happy New Year!

2015 was a long strange trip. From the excitement of learning my way around the Harlequin publishing house. Having a real life editor and deadlines and watching Spying on the Boss move from an offhand statement to a real life book.

Then there were the floods. All the grown upping I had to do to deal with that.

And for a finale to the year, in the space of five hours we learned the Fella needed four new tires for his car, the washing machine died, and the back porch caved in.

But all that is the past.

Tonight at midnight, while the world is celebrating the New Year (well, while Eastern Standard Time is celebrating), I’ll be celebrating the release of my very first novel.

So here’s to 2016! As Pedro would say, “May all your wildest dreams come true.”

Amazing News!

Just got the best email from the senior editor at Harlequin Superromance!

Beginning with the January 2016 releases, Superromance paperbacks will once again be available from Amazon. And they’re Prime!

So excited for this. I know the editors at Superromance really fought hard to get us back in print on Amazon and I believe Barnes and Noble will be following suit shortly.

Breaking News!

As we draw closer to the January 1 release date, more options for purchasing Spying on the Boss are popping up.

The newest is that paperback copies are now available for preorder on the Harlequin website!

All purchasing option links are on the “Buy the Book” page here. Along with links to buy my book as part of a box set with three other amazing Harlequin Superromance writers.

I am planning a Facebook release party with at least one other Super writer, hopefully more. We’ll have give-aways and prizes.

More soon!

And Then the Doorbell Rang

I knew it was going to happen soon. Somehow, in my imagination, it happened differently.

The UPS guy was extra hot in the brown shorts uniform. I was in a cute little outfit, hair and makeup ON FLEEK. The doorbell would ring. I would jump up and down and clap and laugh. UPS guy would valiantly rip the box open for me, light would pour from the box, clouds would part, sunlight and rainbows would appear and trumpets would sound.

YOUR BOOKS ARE HERE!

12189018_1498442030452620_5079921265439391329_nWell, the boxes arrived. The doorbell rang.

What I didn’t foresee is that this would happen as I wallowed in my bed, day sleeping after a night shift, not wanting to get up but knowing I should because I didn’t have work that night and if I slept all day, I’d be up all night.

My fantasy didn’t include me stumbling down the hall, pulling on yoga pants and a paint splattered tank top. Nor the fumes and dust as the UPS truck sped away. Nor my shrieking at Molly to GET BACK IN THE HOUSE!

12004063_1486629824967174_9069274620410041890_n“I was just trying to help.”

This was not the book delivery I dreamed of! Where was my hot UPS guy? Why did I have morning breath and need coffee??

I texted The Fella: You need to come home right now.

I attached a picture of the boxes.

He texted me back: Are those your books?

No, they’re Maisey Yates’ books. I stole them from her porch.

And he refused to come home RIGHT THEN.

And now, I had two hours. Two hours to sit there and look at the boxes. Should I open one? Just to see? Just to have a quiet, private moment. Me and my book?

Somewhere around the second cup of coffee, common sense returned. I needed a shower. Some attention paid to my hair and clothing choices. So when The Fella got home to record this momentous moment, I didn’t look like…well….*me* me, but *AUTHOR* me.

12219508_1498442057119284_42090984345599177_n (1)Molly still trying to help.

Everyone asked me how it felt to hold my book for the first time. I felt a lot of things. Joy, relief, excitement, fear.

But the number one feeling was: validated.

I am a writer. I can do this.

 

 

So, It Happened Like This

I was writing a series set in the North Carolina mountains and it had gone practically no where. People liked it. It did well in a few contests. Got a few nibbles from publishers and agents.

But pretty much nothing.

This all coincided with a complete overhaul at my pay-the-bills job that left me frustrated and unhappy and feeling like nothing I did was for what I *loved* anymore.

Alternate job opportunities became a frequent topic in our home. As in, “I’m going to quit and become a nutrition counselor.” “I’m going to quit and be a vet tech!”

Then something happened. I was fooling around on Twitter. I can’t remember who all was involved, but someone was tweeting about the maid her agency sent over. It was a guy. And he was cute. And we were, of course, egging her on to sneak a picture to show us.

I looked over at my Fella and said, “THAT’S what I should do! Quit and start a cleaning company with all gorgeous hot man maids.”

And, bless him, the Fella got up, kissed me on the forehead and said, “You don’t know anything about running a cleaning company. But you know how to write.”

And there was the little bit of sand that would irritate me until it became the pearl.

Sadie from Spying on the Boss was made up from that point. Wyatt, not so much.

Wyatt and his poor deceased sister, Maddie, were actually from a short story I’d written years ago based on the time my family was stationed in Japan.

Wyatt was devoted to Maddie and as a very young boy, promised her he’d always look out for her. Now this devotion was transferred to Maddie’s daughter, Juliette. Or Jules as Wyatt likes to call her.

Here’s a snippet of how Juliette came to live with Wyatt:

He didn’t miss Victoria, not really. His love for her had been squelched in a single moment.

She had gone with him to Asheville after Maddie’s death. He’d found Jules stunned and scared in the care of Maddie’s best friend, Kate. She’d put her little arms around his neck and told him her mommy was dead. He remembered sinking to the floor, Jules in his lap as they cried together. After her tears tapered away, she had whispered a question to him. “Who’s going to take care of me now?” He’d told her he was. A movement in the doorway caught his eye and he saw Victoria standing there. The words ‘Victoria and I will’ died on his lips at the expression on her face. Horrified. Furious.

That night, they’d argued. She told him to let Kate keep Jules. She told him she had no intentions of starting their marriage with a half grown kid. She told him he had no business even trying to take on a young girl. She told him to leave Jules here and return to his – their – life. He’d listened to her with a dizzying sense of stunned relief. It was as if a mask had slipped and he was seeing into her soul. And it was ugly. When she said if he was going to take custody she might as well leave him, he told her to go home and pack her things. To be out of the house before he and Jules came back.

 

So when Wyatt, to whom family means everything, meets up with Sadie, to whom family means pain and abandonment, things are going to get really messy.

 

 

Snippet Sunday

I’ve shared the cover art for Spying on the Boss at my Author Facebook page and you can see it on the “Buy the Book” page. But I wanted to share a bit of the story of that scene with you.

My author friends will be aware of the Art Fact Sheets, or AFS, as I’ve learned they are called. For Harlequin, this is a long…very long…very detailed form in which you describe up to four main characters.

You also pick out three scenes and describe them down to the time of day, mood, clothing characters are wearing. These sheets are what the art department uses to design

This dish washing scene that made it to the cover was actually my favorite of the three and the one I hoped Harlequin would use.

Here’s the rest of that bit of the story. Some set up: Sadie has a family style dinner for her crew of hot man maids once a month. This scene takes place after all the guys bug out to go to whatever hot guys do on a Friday night. Molly, the company’s older office manager, knows Sadie has some feelings for Wyatt….

 

Molly picked up a bag from the counter. “Okay, then. Sadie, the pots are in the dishwasher. You need to finish up the plates and silverware. Everything else is done so I’ll see you Monday, y’all have a great weekend. Bye.”

Sadie put her hands on her hips as Molly scooted out the door. “Well, bye.” She turned to Wyatt as he walked in to the kitchen. “She could have said she didn’t want to wash the dishes. Sheesh!”

She went to the sink and began to fill it with hot water and poured a generous dollop of dish soap over the plates stacked there. “Julietta is reading Jack a book.”

“Guess I’m on dish duty with you.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I want to. Owe you for the dinner.” He stepped to the double sink. There were two dish drainers on the counter. “Wash or rinse?”

“I’ll wash. I hate rinsing. It’s boring.”

They stood side by side, washing and rinsing. He could hear Julietta’s voice lilting in a sing song as she read to Jack. He was overly aware of Sadie’s body next to his. The brush of her shoulder against his arm and the accidental bump of her hip sent ripples of heat through him. She handed him a plate and their fingers touched so he held on for a moment. She looked at him, her eyes wide and blue, her lips parted. God, she felt it too.

Her head swiveled back to the sink. “I hope it was okay I painted her nails.”

“It’s fine. But I may have to hire you for girl stuff lessons.”

She smiled and shook her head, making a tendril at the side of her neck sway. The urge to push it aside and press his lips to the tender spot at the base of her skull went through him. And then work around the column of her neck to that spot where her pulse was fluttering. And then… He tore his gaze away from her neck and shifted against the growing pressure in his groin. You gotta stop this.

“I’m probably not your best bet for that kind of stuff.”

“No?” He tugged a plate from her fingers and playfully bumped his shoulder against hers. He couldn’t help it. He wanted to see her blush. “What are you my best bet for?”

She drew in a sharp breath and peeked up at him. He got his blush and resisted a smile. He turned towards her and leaned in. One kiss. Just one. So he could go on with his life with the knowledge of how those lips would feel against his. As his mouth approached hers, she turned to him and tilted her face up to his. He let his hand touch her waist, ready to pull her closer.

“We can’t do this,” she whispered.

He stopped and let his hand fall away. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. But we can’t.”

She couldn’t do it because she believed he was an employee. She wouldn’t break her own rules. He shouldn’t do it because when the truth came out, it would hurt her even more. Jack’s nails clacking down the stairs gave them a moment to step apart before Julietta burst into the kitchen.

“Uncle Wyatt? Can we get a dog? I’ll walk it and play with it and everything!”

Back in Business

After some technical difficulties (I am not tech savvy in the LEAST), I think I have this site working again.

Current post flood situation: Both Jason and I had our cars totaled by the insurance companies. I’ve already replaced Old Blue. I haven’t decided on a name yet. Old Blue was a reference to what Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” called the rifle he wanted. I’m thinking Stevie for Stevie Nicks, the White Witch. Or just the White Witch. What do y’all think?

Stevie

All my flood claims have been approved. I’m just waiting on the checks. Then I can get the AC and duct work replaced. And of course, the 80 degree weather is lingering.

But for the most part, we are back to “normal”. I’m working away on the second Cleaning Crew book. Working title Josh’s Story. (Original, I know). I am planning a Facebook book release party for January 3. The book release is January 1, but I’m thinking that won’t be a popular day for a party. Hahaha. At least one other Harlequin Superromance writer is going to join me, hopefully more, and we’ll have some fun prizes to give out.

Also starting to look at the live and in person book party. This will be later in January to give those who want to purchase a paperback copy of the book for signing time to order and receive it. Very early in planning stages, but contacting some businesses in the Avondale area where the book is set and several scenes take place.

I’ll be updating plans here and on my Facebook pages. Hope to “see” you at one or both of the parties!

Phase Two

I lived through Hurricane Hugo. And now, the 1000 year flooding of 2015. I know this: there are three phases to disaster recovery.

Phase one is the pull-together phase. Immediately after, neighbors, friends, the nation pull together to help each other.

Phase two is the OMG, I’m so sick and tired of all this differentness and want life to return to normal.

Phase three is the return to new normal. New because nothing is every really the same.

I’m at phase two. I’m tired of dealing with insurance people. I’m grateful I have all the insurance I need to cover the damage done.

But.

There’s always a ‘but’.  I have no AC and it’s the South and it’s still very warm. The humidity level is approximately 100% due to the flood water under my house. My car is dead.

My nice, neat, financially sound plans of two weeks ago are in shreds. Having a home on a tidal creek is no longer a bonus that will raise the value of my home, it’s a liability. Do I buy a new car and get into a payment or find a beater for what the insurance company gives me for my poor old Blue?

It will all work out in the end, but for now, I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m mourning the things lost. I’m beating myself up for mourning because others have lost more. I’m tired of being a grown up and having to talk to people. I’m an introvert. I want to crawl into my own brain and write. I don’t want to call people. I don’t want to smile and talk to insurance people.

I want my old life back.

But I know it’s gone and I have to adjust from here.

Annoying, but doable. I just have to keep moving forward.