Casting the Characters

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My next book, Rancher’s Redemption, is due to hit bookstores in January 2015. The date might change yet, but so far, that is the information I have. But this means that things are starting to move on the editing side!

First of all, I needed to find some “visuals” for the cover artists to use. They need to know what my characters look like, and while I have a great mental image of them, I needed to send them pictures. We are advised to choose pictures of actors who look similar to our characters, so that’s what I did.

My heroine, a nurse and a city girl, is Nicole Kidman. My hero, a rancher who has just discovered an unnerving secret about his father, is Dean Cain. (You just have to imagine a cowboy hat on his head…)

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The title for Rancher’s Redemption is going to change. Titles are hard to choose because so many are already taken. I believe that Rancher’s Redemption is pretty close to the title of another recent release, so I’m going to have to find another one. This will be a long process that consists of me wandering around with a piece of paper and a pen, jotting down ideas as they occur to me, then emails flying back and forth between my editor and I. When we come to a consensus, you’ll be the first to know!

 

Massively Pregnant Goats

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Nothing says spring like massively pregnant goats.

Seriously.

I found this page on Facebook, and I’m now officially hooked on it. I’m waiting for this gorgeous mama goat to give birth, and every day a new picture of Butter Icing is posted as we all wait with bated breath. When will the kids arrive? And perhaps more importantly, how many are in there??

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If you’d like to follow the drama of these adorable goats, you can find them on Facebook at Hawks Mtn Ranch Pygora Goats. As for me, I just can’t look away. Not only are these goats the cutest little creatures I’ve ever seen, but it’s the dose of Spring we’ve all been waiting for up here in Canada.

We’ve been melting–which is a beautiful, beautiful thing–but we’ll still get snow a couple of more times before the warm weather actually sticks. So I make do with the gorgeous Spring weather that the rest of you are enjoying.

And this goat just makes me happy, so I thought I’d share her with the rest of you. Drop by Hawks Mountain Ranch on Facebook–you’ll find yourself hooked, too!

Reins between your teeth

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Success. We all measure it differently, depending on what we’re hoping to achieve. I remember when I graduated my BA in English Lit, I was convinced that graduate school was the only way to go. My family was pretty educated, and I didn’t want to be left behind. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’d feel more excited about a published novel than I would about a graduate degree. So I decided to focus all of my energy on getting there, except for the barest minimum required to keep myself fed and my rent paid.

It did pay off! I have been writing and being published for ten years now under the name Patty Froese. HIS UNEXPECTED FAMILY with Love Inspired is my 13th published novel, so while I’m new to Harlequin, I’m not new to writing books.

Novel-writing isn’t about raw talent… although talent has to factor in there, of course. For me, I just don’t give up. I keep at it. Day in and day out, whether I’m getting good news back from editors or not. And by sticking to it, I’ve gotten better and better at what I do. Angela Lee Duckworth (in a great TED talk) calls that “grit,” and I like the word. It reminds me of John Wayne.

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You’ll be seeing more of me in Harlequin. I have another novel coming out with Love Inspired in January 2015, tentatively titled RANCHER’S REDEMPTION. But more than that… I really want to work with Harlequin. I want to grow here. I want to climb here. I want to bring you story after story that tugs at your heartstrings. There is literally NOTHING else I want to do!

So in my little world, I feel like I’ve succeeded. I’ve succeeded in the areas that matter to me.

Let’s not measure ourselves by someone else’s yardstick. Do what you love, and in my case, that means letting someone else drive the BMW or climb the corporate ladder. I want to write romance novels, and I want to do it with everything I’ve got, John-Wayne-style. I don’t want to just ride, I want to ride with the reins between my teeth to keep my hands free. Because if you’re going to do something, you might as well be all-in, right?

John-Wayne

If I smile and nod, it doesn’t mean I heard you

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I’m half deaf. That’s my undiagnosed estimation of my hearing, but I definitely have a problem with hearing things. For years, my husband thought I was just being passive-aggressive when he’d say something and I’d say, “What? I can’t hear you.” But I was serious! I couldn’t hear him. And I thought he was being equally passive-aggressive when he’d say it again in exactly the same tone, just a tad bit lower than I could make out. It isn’t everything–just certain frequencies, I think–like the frequency of a human voice.

StudearringWhen I talk to friends on the phone, I’m a yeller. I holler away in joyful exuberance. I figure if I can’t hear them, they must have trouble hearing me, too.

We have a habit that we always pray before we drive, but when my husband prays, I really can’t make out what he’s saying. I know he’s done when he puts the car into gear. And once we start driving, when my son says something to me in the back seat, I can’t hear him unless he raises his voice. My husband can hear him the first time.

It’s amusing now that everyone understands that Mommy is half-deaf. It was way less amusing before we were all on the same page with that. Ironically, I’m also one of those people who need quiet, so I’m loathe to fix my hearing issues. If noise levels that are normal to me right now can be overwhelming, God help me if I got hearing aids! I’d love to hear more of what my family says, but I’d hate to hear more of the general racket of everything else around me.

I figure that a little bit of hearing difficulties are good for my writing. I can focus that much easier without hearing all the pesky noises that everyone else does. Pins dropping? I don’t need that. I find them just fine when I step on them. ;)

If you found me mummified…

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I’m not a big jewelry person. I have my wedding rings. I own a string of pearls, but don’t wear them often, and I have a locket. I have a couple of rings–one was a gift, and the other I bought for myself when I graduated from college. None of it is very costly. That’s the extent of my jewelry collection.

I can’t think of a good reason why I’m not much of a jewelry person. I think it’s mostly because I’m such a sentimental sap. I’m the type of person who sees romance behind everything, and wearing a piece of jewelry just because it looks good with an outfit isn’t good enough to my sentiment-addled brain. Every time–and I mean it when I say “every time”–I put on my locket, I think something like this:

“When I’m an old woman, I’ll give this locket to my great-granddaughter, and she’ll treasure it because I wore it every single day of my adult life.”

Or, if I’ve watched Bones or Castle, I’ll think,

“If my body was found mummified in a cellar or something, they’ll know it’s me by this locket, and they’ll know who was dearest to my heart.”

(So if you happen to stumble across a mummy with this particular locket around it’s neck, double check to make sure I’m still alive and kicking, would you? ;) )

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In my current Work In Progress, I’ve added a family heirloom–a diamond pendant. I think it’s gorgeous! And I have to say, I could be convinced to wear diamonds “just because.”

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So what about you? Do you have a piece of jewelry with special meaning? I’d love to hear about it!

Wishes

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Ten years ago, I was a starving artist. I didn’t actually starve, because I was too good at managing my nickles, but I lived on the cheap, wrote like crazy and thought to myself, “I’m really ready to find someone to settle down with. The single life is lonely.” Ten years ago, I was still writing my first published novel.

If ten years ago, I could have had a little peek into my life right now, I wouldn’t have believed my good fortune! If I could have had a peek into this moment right now, where I’m sitting by my desk, laptop computer on my lap, updating my author blog while my son colors pictures at the kitchen table… If I could have overheard a quick phone call with my adoring husband who calls just because he misses my voice… If I could have seen this, I would have hardly have dared hope it could come true.

Day Dreams by Paul Fischer

Day Dreams by Paul Gustav Fischer

What I have right now, was only a wish ten years ago. Ten years ago, I would have said, “If I could be married to a great guy, maybe have a child, and be writing books–that would be perfect. I wouldn’t ask for anything ever again!”

It’s good to remember that. Because sometimes, I find myself looking at the people around me, envying what they have just a tiny bit. I see bigger homes and think, “Wouldn’t that be nice…” or I see people shopping and I think, “I wish I could afford that right now…” or any other little thing the Joneses are up to.

It’s not a good thing to envy the Joneses. My biggest wishes, my deepest longings, have already come true. Everything else is just the cherry. It’s better to remember that.

What did you wish for that finally came true?

Watching basketball with romance novelists

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My husband likes basketball, and I like cuddling up with him, so from time to time, we’ll sit together and watch a game. He’s watching for the regular sport-related things, but my brain spins just a little differently, and I sit there wondering about more interesting things.

For example, if you’re a 7 foot tall man who isn’t a basketball star, how do you fit into a Toyota? Those guys are massive. I can’t imagine trying to fold one them into a regular sedan! What if you’re a 7’5″ accountant with a mortgage and two kids. What if you can’t afford to drive a Hummer that will let you sit comfortably?

And once we get Ordinary But Very Tall Joe into a vehicle, where does he buy his clothes? And how does he fit behind his desk? Would that be intimidating to his clients who sit like school children on the other side of that desk?

It isn’t that I worry about these things exactly, but I do wonder. Not every tall man is coordinated enough to make the cut at the NBA… And perhaps there are several who like numbers much more than sports… so what do they do?

707px-Shaq_@NBA_All_star_gameThe other thing I wonder about is the relationship status of the players. Not that I’m interested in snagging them for myself (I have a husband who completely satisfies me), but relationships are intriguing on any level. There have to be a good number of them who are married, but you can’t tell unless you Google them because none of them wear wedding rings.

What if there was a married player who wanted to wear one? Are they allowed? Is it one of those things that’s considered uncool to the other players, or is it a danger, somehow? Like in woodworking, you’re not supposed to wear jewelry because it can get caught in machinery and you could lose your ring finger in the bargain. Is a wedding ring a danger on a basketball court? Or just in the locker room?

I suppose the moral of the story is not to watch sports with me if you’re an avid fan. I don’t pay attention to the right things. But if you’re married to me, I’ll cuddle up next to you. That’s got to count for something!

I used to be smarter…

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Mothers compartmentalize. It’s what we do. It’s how we waggle a warning finger at a misbehaving child, talk on the phone and unload the dishwasher at the same time. It can be hard to think straight when you’re doing so much at once, and I swear, I was smarter before childbirth.

I was! I had deep thoughts. I thought about women’s rights, morality, culture, the ways novel-writing styles have changed over the last hundred years… Thoughts. I swear. I had them. And they weren’t interrupted by, “Young man, get off of that!”

Now, as a wife, mother and novelist, I do have deep thoughts, but they take me by surprise. I don’t see them coming when I’m in the mom-box. There I can be in mid-lecture about manners at the breakfast table, and I’ll shove back whatever brain wave was coming at me, because lectures must not be interrupted. As a mother, what else do I have in my arsenal, if not a lengthy lecture?

Then, when the lecture is complete, feet have been removed from the table top and order once more reigns, I realize that there had been a thought in there–an idea, a realization about something, and I’ll know exactly what I need.

Quiet.

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Just a little bit of quiet, all to myself, to hear myself think again. Because beyond the mom-box, there is still a woman with thoughts and ideas, and while my life experience might have changed, molded and developed some of those ideas into much different shapes than they ever were when I was 22 or 25, those thoughts are still there.

That’s when I say, “Tell you what, kiddo. Mommy needs some quiet time to herself, and you watch a little TV, okay?”

TV–his sorta-rare luxury, and my guilty short cut.

And I pull out my computer and open up my manuscript to that beautiful blank page.

Time to write.

Percolating

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Photo by Krista

Photo by Krista

Things I do while percolating that new story:

1. Cook–it’s a nervous habit. When I feel uncertain about anything, I tend to cook up large batches of food as if I were preparing to feed an army.

2. Teach my 5-year-old something new. My son is filled with questions like, “What cracked the sidewalk?” and “How do helicopters land?” Seriously, how did parents do this before the days of Youtube?? Any of you who DID, you have my eternal respect!

3. Stare at walls. It’s a rare and beautiful luxury–never take it for granted!

4. Decide that we really do need to paint the walls. And mentally try to procrastinate that.

5. Get abnormally social.  My friends, who might be mildly alarmed at my increase in social contact, know I’ll sidle off soon when my plot is sorted out in my head.

6. Eat. That’s related to all that cooking.

7. Lure my husband home. Again–the cooking. ;)

And while my husband is eating and chatting with me about his day at work, I’ve been known to callously interrupt him with,

“Wait! Wait! I what if the family was against it from the beginning, but in the middle where–”

“Are you even listening? I was telling you about that guy at work.”

“Yes. Sorry. I’m listening. Continue.”

And I scoop up him up a second helping. Because after he’s finished telling me about his day, he’ll patiently listen to me while I bounce ideas off of him. Then we’ll cuddle up on the couch together, his arms around me and my head on his chest, and we’ll blissfully stare at that wall together.

Pragmatic Romance

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Valentine’s Day is over, and if it’s not your favorite time of year, remember this: chocolate is now on sale!

Photo by:  Nieuw from nl

Photo by: Nieuw from nl

I’m a romantic, but I’m also pragmatic. The only thing I asked from my husband for Valentine’s Day was a love letter. No flowers. No chocolate. No stuffed animals. Just a piece of paper (any paper!) with his words on it. And he delivered! His love letter was the best gift he could have given me. I melted.

Over the Valentine’s weekend, I also made good use of my time and submitted my nanny story to Harlequin American Romance. This one, I finished in record time because I had some revisions to my Love Inspired manuscript that needed to be done by a deadline, and I didn’t want to stop writing on the American Romance novel. So I poured it on and finished both. Both are now submitted, and the waiting begins.

Waiting might not be the fun part, but I’ve got another book idea percolating, so I’ll survive. This one, I’d like to aim for Harlequin Heartwarming. Heartwarming romances are sweet, but they’re also a little longer, so this book will take more time, more planning, more thought. Percolating a new story is pleasant–it’s like the scent of coffee wafting through the house. It’s not in the cup yet, but anticipation is sweet.

Photo by: Jason Walsh

Photo by: Jason Walsh

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