Minus the lip gloss

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Remember how I said I’d cut my hair? Well, I did it.

I’ve also started the official edits for my American Romance entitled SAFE IN THE LAWMAN’S ARMS. (And yes, I get to keep the title!) This one is due out in February 2016.

The editing is exciting. I’m forcing myself to wait until Monday to start working on it, but it’s awfully hard to share photos of my editing. Or how fun it is to get into that stage of things. I’ve also filled out the forms for the art department… which means someone will soon be putting together a cover for me. I cannot wait!

I’m also halfway through the rough draft of my second American Romance which is set in the same fictional town of Hope, Montana, so when my editing is done on the first book, I’m back to work again on the next book. I love having a nice pile of work in front of me. It keeps me happy. Left to my own devices with no deadlines, I tend to get jittery.

Very soon, I’ll also receive the edits for my Love Inspired novel, entitled A SECOND CHANCE AT FOREVER, due out in March 2016. And that is what my writing life looks like right now.

However, none of that photographs well.

Instead, I’ll show you my new hair style taken Sunday after church. ;)

DSC03963And picture it hunkered in front of a laptop… minus the lip gloss and pearls.

Balcony Gardening

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Your local romance author is starting a balcony garden. :)

I wasn’t going to do one this year since we were thinking of traveling and the thought of coming home to dead plants was rather depressing. But since our travels won’t work out this year, that frees me up for some gardening!

This year, I’m planting cherry tomatoes, peas, oregano, cilantro, basil and banana peppers. Some things, like the herbs and banana peppers will come inside when it starts to cool off again, and I’ll attempt to keep them going indoors.

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Growing things just makes me feel relaxed. I like the routine of watering and caring for the plants. It’s soothing. It’s homey. And it’s space-efficient! ;)

Once those planters are all green and leafy, I’m going to feel very successful.

Happy Spring, everyone!

I can feel it coming…

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I’m one of those people who tends to get her hair cut in spontaneous bursts of rage with her hair.

In the past, I’ve shaved my head… well, not down to the skin, but down to #4 on the buzzer. I’ve always loved super short hair, but at this point in my life (ahem, no longer quite as thin…) I don’t look as good with the short, short hair. So I can’t just waltz into a hair salon and say, “Take it ALL off! I’m done!”

short_hairstyles_Charlize_Theron_16(And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t look like Charlize Theron in the end… LOL!)

I have thick hair that is is a weird mix between curly and wavy I’ve worn it long and straightened for a few years now, and the heat and styling is drying it down to straw.

So I can feel it coming… that final, exasperated trot down to the hair salon, and I need to be prepared. A hairstylist friend of mine suggested that I start looking for cuts that I like now… apparently, I’m not the only one who does this. ;)

So here are a few cuts that I like.

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All very nice hairstyles, and most of them on Hilary Clinton… I’m not sure what that says about me! I’m not political, I swear.

So this is my rather shallow preoccupation at the moment. I’m sorry. I should be thinking deeper thoughts, I really should! And I will again.

But apparently, today is not that day. ;)

 

 

A little experience…

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426px-TirednessParenting is like falling in love. When you have a child, it feels like the first time anyone has felt the things that you’re feeling. No one’s baby is prettier. No one’s toddler is smarter. And you’re pretty sure that you’re going to be a better parent than anyone else in history by the virtue of your love.

I’m pretty sure that new parents are just as smug as newly married couples. “We’ll never fight, because we just love each other too much to be disrespectful. Right, Sweetie?” “Our child will never defy us, because he’ll know how deeply we love him every moment of his life and his deep sense of security will root him into a mutually respectful relationship with us.” *Eye roll.*

And then you move from “little kid” parenting to the “big kid” stuff, and you realize that other people walked this path before you, and thank God for that! At that point, you don’t want to be better than anyone. You just want someone to tell you that it’s normal and you’ll survive it!

I won’t get into the ins and outs of stumbling upon this whole new phase in my child’s development, but I will say that I’m so glad for our church’s ladies’ Bible study.

I don’t go often–truthfully, it falls right in the middle of my Thursday morning office hours, and after dropping my son off at school, I don’t normally want to hustle back out again. I want to settle in with tea and write… which I normally do.

But there are times that I just need some female companionship–preferably of an age to have done all this before. And the best place to find that is the mid-week ladies’ Bible study. When it’s the first time you’ve ever experienced something, it feels good to have a woman twice your age chuckle knowingly and say, “Oh, yes… I remember those days.” Because when someone remembers going through what you’re currently going through and manages to laugh about it, it means that it isn’t the end of the world.

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And that’s a relief.

I’m grateful for the women in my community. So grateful. We need each other. At the very least, I need them! I’m so past the stage of things where I think I know it all. I don’t! But I’m lucky enough to know some women who have walked this path before, and that counts for a lot.

Mapping it out

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I’m currently working on the rough draft of my next American Romance novel set in Hope, Montana. Writing one book in a particular setting isn’t too hard. The second also isn’t much of a challenge, but by the time I get to the third, I’m going to be glad I did this map!

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First of all, certain locations are going to be needed repeatedly, like food stores, the ice cream shop, the police station… And if you have these places hopping around, being across from the bank in one book and on the edge of town in another, things start to fall apart pretty quickly. This map might not be fancy, but it’s going to be a lifesaver!

I also have a collection of Hope, Montana facts that I keep adding to. It’s important to know not only where things are, but who owns what shop and their histories. Townspeople make a place more real, and if I can revisit certain characters, it’ll just be fun! But this author needs to have it all written down for a quick refresher.

And that’s what I’m up to! Writing. Mapping. It’s a great life!

 

Mother’s Day

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This Mother’s Day weekend, I thought I’d show you both ends of my life: I’m lucky enough to have both a wonderful, supportive mother, and a child of my own. Motherhood has made me appreciate how much my mom has done for me over the years. Today, she is still one of my biggest supports.

So without further ado, this is the Mother’s Day gift my first grader made for me at school (which just melts my heart) DSC03940   And my mom holding me as a baby. <3 I don’t know if you can tell from my son’s drawing, but I look a LOT like my mom. ;)DSC03942

Mothers of the Year don’t happen by accident… they learn from the best! ;)

A very happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of you!

Canadian spring ;)

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Canadian spring is also a writer’s paradise! When this is happening outside, you are perfectly happy to sit indoors with a cup of tea and write your next scene. You can trust me on that. ;)

DSC03937Today, I caught up on some blog posts, finished up a scene I’ve been working on for a couple of days while I toasted my toes in front of our faux fireplace, and stared out the window at that mucky misery, feeling grateful to live here. Yes, it might snow in May, but there’s no place like home.

And NOW, I have to start supper. My husband will be home soon, my son’s homework needs my attention, and my office hours are officially over.

Have a wonderful day! And if you get the chance, check out A FIREFIGHTER’S PROMISE in your local bookstore!

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The weather is significantly better in the book. ;)

Still a threat

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I read a Momastery post, and if you haven’t discovered Glennon Doyle Melton, it is high time you did! Very girl power, and I think we could all use a little girl power, no? ;)

Anyway, she wrote about how we women take pride in being a serious threat to each other. Not violently, of course. I’m willing to bet there are very few female fight clubs but there certainly is an epidemic of women starving themselves to be “beautiful.” And most of that pressure didn’t come from the men… It’s a sneaky kind of fight that is waged woman against woman. We want women to look at us and think, Crap! She is so much better than me,  as if by making another woman feel lower, it changes something.

But if you think about it, what does it do for us? And what does it say about us that we want to make other women feel insecure and lesser by simply stepping into a room? If you think about our pooled intelligence, creativity, persistence and wisdom, pitting us against each other is such a tragic waste of our resources.

We’ve been conditioned to compete in everything from how we parent our kids to that ridiculous, undying fight to look as young as we can for as long as we can. And a woman feels like she’d won something when another woman sees her as a threat. (Yes, I’ve still got it!) But if you take all that drive to win and succeed and channel it differently, big things could happen. Glennon puts it this way:

I do not want to be a threat to you. I want to invite you to join arms with me and together I want US to become a REAL THREAT TO what needs changing. I want us to be WARRIORS together—for love, truth, peace, justice, children, the weak, the poor and the needy. I want apathy and fear and violence and poverty to SHAKE IN THEIR BOOTS WHEN THEY SEE US MARCHING TOGETHER TOWARDS THEM.

Perhaps when we get old enough and wise enough, we can see more than the men we want to entice and broaden our view to see the world that we want to change. I’m not your enemy. I’ll never flirt with the man you love, and I’ll never try to make you feel less than me. Together, we can do big things, ladies, and I think we are still a major threat!

There is a whole generation of girls who are looking to us (sideways, cautiously, never wanting us to know it) to see how this whole “womanhood” thing is done. We need to show them something better. We need to show them what they can do–give them some ideas about how to use that wealth of talent, drive and bravery that they wield!

You. Me. All of us. Let’s be stronger and wiser. Let’s be kinder and braver. And let’s pull together as women and threaten the hell out of the things that need to be stamped out.

NOT each other. Heavens no, not each other.

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Oh, the agony ;)

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My friend turned me onto “Into the Woods”–but not the 2014 movie, the Broadway musical. I just loved it! The most memorable part is the two princes waxing eloquent about the exquisite agony of not getting what they want.

“Agony! Beyond the power of speech. When the one thing you want is the one thing out of your reach…”

hqdefault“Agony! Much more painful than yours! When you know that she’d go with you…. if there only were doors.”

LOL! It’s really worth the watch. These two princes are in love with Cinderella (who has run off at midnight) and Rapunzel (who is stuck in a tower.)

We romance novelists use this technique all the time. We put our characters through misery and agony, dangling their heart’s desires just out of their reach. I also use this in my parenting–albeit in a slightly more mocking tone–where I tell my son what exquisite agony is his being a much loved child of two parents who insist that he eat his vegetables. ;)

And when you think about it, most of our problems fall into this category. First World Problems. Oh, the agony of not getting our way. When we tone down the orchestra and actually look at things, our lives are pretty good!

Bursting into show tunes kinda puts things into perspective, you know? ;)

 

When you ask where my ideas come from…

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If you live in the prairies like I do, you’ve passed those old sagging, ghostly buildings while you drive on a straight stretch of flat highway, or take a side road in hopes of finding some address your GPS won’t even register. Out in the middle of some field, there are barns with their roofs dipping inward, or old farm houses with empty windows, staying upright by some miracle. I’ve always wondered what was inside them, but of course, you don’t simply traipse across someone else’s property…

scott glarlockThe above photo is of photographer Scott Garlock while he looks through some old letters he found inside an abandoned house. He does what we all wish we could–searches out old buildings and goes inside to take pictures of the relics that are left. Old letters, vintage calendars still on the wall, suitcases covered in dust in the corners, and pairs of shoes that still sit in careful pairs beside the stairs. He photographs these disintegrating treasures and slips away again, leaving everything undisturbed. And perhaps the best part of his photography are the descriptions he writes for each photo—his imagination breathing life into a scene that’s nearly moldered away.

10384353_1583851665164359_6369133248698848594_nIn his words:

“Unfinished Business” A lone dust covered suitcase patiently awaits a reunion that will never take place existing as a memorial and tangible evidence there will always be unfinished business. (2015)

Photographer’s Notes – Residing in the ruins of an old Warren County, NC farmhouse, a dust covered suitcase exists as a memorial to a final chapter written in the life of a hardworking soul. It is believed that the old farmer who called this old place home fell suddenly ill and either he or his family were preparing for assisted living or possibly an extended hospital stay when things became more dire and final…

Here are a few others that struck me. They are pictures swollen with story, hinting at lives lived long ago.

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If you’d like to see more of his amazing photography, either follow him on Facebook like I do, or pop by his website.

Some people ask me where I get my ideas… well, they start in places like this!

Many thanks to Mr. Garlock for granting his permission for me to post these photos.

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