My internal life is WAY more interesting…

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I don’t know what it is about writing a first draft, but it makes me hungry! It must use up some vital store of vitamins or something, because after a week of hard writing, this weekend I ate… and ate.

I was so hungry, that I was tempted to just eat sugar by the spoonful. Relax–I didn’t do it. I don’t want to rot my teeth out or get diabetes. But that’s some serious hunger, which was satisfied with a massive chicken dinner, heaps and heaps of mashed potatoes (which is the diabetic’s equivalent of a bowlful of sugar) and half a package of cookies.

Photo by Jon Sullivan

Photo by Jon Sullivan

And that is all the news I have to report! Your local romance author has eaten her own weight in mashed potatoes and gravy.

This is what you get from me at this point in book writing. There is all sorts of drama happening in my book, but I can’t tell you what’s happening with my characters without spoiling the plot for you, so you are stuck with the actual happenings of this author’s life. Which doesn’t amount to much when I hunker down in front of my keyboard all day.

Sorry about that. :/

But if you get seriously hungry at some point, may I suggest some mashed potatoes?

First Kisses

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Photo by: Michael L. Baird

Photo by: Michael L. Baird

First kisses are awkward affairs… except for mine! ;) It’s just bad form to have an awkward first kiss in a romance novel, unless that awkwardness is somehow endearing and melts away pronto.

My first kiss with my husband was at the streetcar stop in front of my home in downtown Toronto. Mr. Johns was dropping me off after a date, and he caught my hand as I was about to turn and leave and he said,

“Will you kiss me?”

So in the light of a streetlamp somewhere near midnight, I came back to where he was standing, rose up on my toes and kissed him. I think I did a rather good job of it, because he still mentions that kiss sometimes!

Some people choose to share their first kiss on their wedding day. Others catch it on the doorstep after a date. Some ask permission. Others simply see what will happen. Regardless, it’s a story ever couple tells!

Where was your first kiss?

Waking Mr. Johns

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The other evening, my husband went to bed before me. He was wiped after a long day at work, and I was still buzzed from my day of writing. So he went to bed, and I watched a murder mystery on TV.

In the show, the sleuth was in love with Woman A. Woman A was marrying someone else. Woman B is a wonderful woman who loves the sleuth dearly, but she’s not Woman A. So the sleuth tries to love Woman B, while all the while loving Woman A in spite of himself. It made me feel really badly for Woman B! (If you recognize this, then we’re both PBS fans!)

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So I turned off the lights, checked the locks and puttered off toward bed. I crawled into bed next to my husband who was snoring deeply. But I got to thinking… Wouldn’t it terrible to be the Plan B? I knew I wasn’t… but what if things had turned out differently, and I was?

This is how a novelist’s mind works when she really should be sleeping and is staying awake in bed instead. She works herself into knots, replotting her own story. What if?? I decided that the only way to untie this unrealistic knot was to get some reassurance. So I snuggled up to my husband’s back. He didn’t wake up.

I kissed him. Nada.

I patted him. No luck.

I rolled over and put my back against his. Nothing. I reached back and smacked him harder.

Mr. Johns sputtered and moaned.

Me: Oh, are you awake?

Him: Uhh…. Yeah….

Me: So, I was just wondering, honey… Am I the love of your life?

Him: (garbled) Yup.

Me: The one you’d measure everyone else against if I were to die an untimely death?

Him: Of course, baby. Soul mates.

Me: *smile*

Him: *snore*

Because men have a very hard time saying the right thing when they are half asleep, unless the right thing happens to be the true thing.

Being married to me must be interesting. Mr. Johns finds me intriguing, but that’s because I was created for him. (He was born first.) Or you could say that God created him for me before I was even born. Regardless, we were made for each other, so when I wake him out of dead sleeps to ask him What If questions, he doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, the next morning, he doesn’t seem to remember.

That might be lucky. ;)

 

My tail bone wasn’t harmed in the making of this blog post

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Outside, the sidewalks were shiny with ice. Shiny! If you live somewhere that freezes, you know what that means. White with ice means it’s like an ice rink. SHINY with ice means that it has a slick of water on top. It’s a bit suicidal.

When I dropped my son off at school, the kids were going down like bowling pins on the slick of ice in front of the door. It was actually pretty comical, all these snowsuited kids just tipping over into piles. If I’d fallen, I would have considered it less comical. I have further down to go… and I’m less bendy than they are.

So walking home after dropping my son off, I decided to take the short route (instead of my usual long walk meant to ensure that this sedentary author actually gets a bit of physical exercise) and count the teetering, slipping, back-wrenching wobble back home as cardio. You know, like when your heart speeds up at the thought of landing on your tail bone. ;) It counts–I swear!

Photo by Trevor Rickard This isn't my street, but you get the idea!

Photo by Trevor Rickard
This isn’t my street, but you get the idea!

Anyway, I did arrive home, tail bone intact, and settled in to write. I’m working on a book tentatively called A Second Chance at Forever, which has a deadline that is coming up quickly! I’m loving this book, and I hope you will, too.

I don’t have time to fall on my tail bone right now. I have to sit on this tail bone and get my work done. So there you have it. The life of a writer. Inordinately worried about the health of her tail bone. ;)

All About that Bass

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Valentine’s Day is over, the pressure is off, and the chocolate is on sale!

With that in mind, I feel it my duty to remind you of a few simple facts:

1. You’re gorgeous! When you walk down the street, there are people who look twice and think, Wow!

2. Your heart is your most beautiful feature–no matter who you are. Kindness is prettier than snark.

3. I like you. <3

So I bring you the smooth jazz version of All About that Bass… to be watched while munching on chocolate. ;) This just puts me in a good mood!

 

A chewed over Bic pen

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I signed my newest book contract with a chewed over Bic pen.

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If this were a scene from a novel, it would have been a fountain pen that once belonged to my grandfather. Maybe a mother of pearl pen that was given as a graduation gift by my mother. In books, these things are much more picturesque than in reality. In reality, the big things in life unfold in tiny steps that we hardly notice until we’re looking back on them and see the pattern. If we knew that scratching our phone number on a scrap of paper would be the beginning of an epic love, we might have chosen our writing tool more carefully.

Or maybe not. When time is of the essence and your Happily Ever After is at stake, you grab whatever is closest.

With Valentine’s Day, there is the expectation of grand gestures, but sometimes the most romantic things are the little things that happen every day with the ordinariness of a Bic pen. A close squeeze, a soft kiss, the same old words repeated over and over again until they become as comfortable as old slippers. Love you, honey. Love you, too.

Ordinary. But perfect.

I wrote to Bic, and I told them that I’m an author who signed her latest contract with her trusty old Bic pen. I didn’t explain all of this to them, because I didn’t think they’d really care. Someone in a customer service department emailed me and said that they’d like to send me some samples.

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I was touched, because while this was probably something that meant very little to whomever was working that desk, a collection of ordinary pens makes me happy. These are the pens you don’t get upset to lose. You buy them by the fistful and end up with one left after a week.

“Where are all the pens? Seriously!”

They are the pens you grab for a grocery list or a love note. These are the pens you snatch up to sign a contract without even thinking that perhaps you should have grabbed something prettier. These are the pens of real life. Not a fountain pen. Not a treasured keepsake.

Sometimes it isn’t about an epic gesture, but about all the little things that combine into something extraordinary. Like chewed over pens, a dashed off note, a coffee date or a book idea jotted down on a napkin.

You never do know what beautiful things lay curled up underneath the ordinary!

There is so much winter left!

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I don’t believe in being cold. Cold was for when I was a twenty-year old, dashing across a snowy park, trying to get to my next class. Cold was for when I cared about how I looked when dashing across that snowy park, lest someone see me… Oh, twenty-year-olds… I was so resilient and dumb. ;) Warm is for when you no longer care, or for when you realize that fashion should be reserved for the indoors, and it should make allowances for several layers of clothing.

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I love living in the cold, Canadian North. It’s very good for writing because no one actually wants to go outside when it’s blustery and minus some unholy number. Sitting at your computer while the ice inches up your window panes just feels cozy. I also love having a huge, warm coat, because while I am out in that cold, I don’t feel a thing.

While I start thinking springtime thoughts starting about January 1, the reality of the situation is that winter has barely started. We have about 3 months left… Our winter has been ridiculously warm so far, but we’ve had a few cold stretches that make that parka my favorite fashion accessory. That’s three months of long johns and hot tea, parkas and cranking up the heat to compensate for whatever travesty is happening in the weather outside.

The next time you see THAT coming down the sidewalk toward you, wave! It’s probably me. :)

Putting down my Jane Hancock

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As you know, A SECOND CHANCE AT FOREVER was accepted for publication by Love Inspired Harlequin. This is really exciting for me. Seriously, contracts never get old!

So here I am on the auspicious day… a picture taken by my six-year-old who asked, “How come you’re putting on makeup?” as if it were the rarest thing he’s seen in his young life. It might be, and it was only lip gloss.

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And this is the main event:

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The contract is signed with my trusty old Bic pen, and I’m locked into a delightful agreement where I will finish writing the book within six weeks and deliver it to my editor.

The above goofy look on my face? That’s what Happy Author looks like!

PS. My son wanted me to include his photography skills, taking pictures of his Koala Brothers plane set. So here is his contribution of the day, besides taking a picture of his mom. :)

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You can’t un-see it

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I’m a person without a filter. Most people can watch the news and feel a bit of a personal distance from the tragedies, but I can’t. My solution has been to stop watching the news. It might sound shallow, but I’ll surf the Yahoo news for pleasant stories and celebrity gossip. It’s about all my poor heartstrings can handle.

I recently came across an article that said that we should be careful about what we allow into our minds. Violent images actually change us when we see them, and after seeing enough of these horrors, we actually have a lower ability to feel sympathy for the victims. And there is no un-seeing it. You have to live with that image in your mind for the rest of your life. One click of the mouse, and you are stuck with it forever.

I once watched a TED video by a guy recounting war tragedies in Afghanistan, and there was one that broke my heart so badly that I turned everything off and just cried. It was horrible. I still think of it from time to time, when I desperately don’t want to. It pops into my mind. I can’t make peace with it. It’s torn my heart in a way that just won’t heal. I can’t un-see it! Do I really need to know the worst horrors that humanity is capable of in order to sympathize with the victims?

indexNow, this idea of guarding what goes into our minds is not shocking for Christians. This is part of our faith. Whatever is pure, whatever is right, whatever is of good report… But we also believe in helping those who need it, and not turning our backs on the suffering. So how do you balance it all?

I don’t have the answers. If I did, I wouldn’t have a loop of that TED video going through my head when I try to sleep at night. I CAN’T balance it all. So I err on the side of protecting my heart and mind. I choose the beautiful and the noble and the right.

And the rest? I give to charities who help. That’s the only solution I can come up with. I put my money where my heart breaks, and I pray.

 

 

A small matter of a few hundred years

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I’m old enough not to subscribe to fashion’s body ideals, but I do recall a time when I’d look down at myself and wonder why I couldn’t be more like so-and-so. So this is for all those young ladies who still try to fit into the ideal…

It’s not worth the effort! In fact, there was a point in history and a geographical location that idealized the exact assets that you’re sporting!

Me? My sweet spot in history is the Italian Renaissance. I would have been hot stuff! ;) If I were interviewed, I’d say, “I just eat when I’m hungry. I don’t know what to say. I roll out of bed looking like this!” Women who were tall and lithe would look at me with envy. How could they achieve my perfect measurements? LOL! And if they’d just wait a few hundred years, they’d get their turn at being “effortless perfection.”

The envy is silly. They ideals are silly. We’re all beautiful and we don’t have to be cookie cutouts!

What about you? When did your body type and fashion ideals collide?

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