Harlequin HO!

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I was very happy to meet my American Romance editor today! I’m currently in Toronto, and I got to take a tour of the building and meet all sorts of people who work together to bring Harlequin books your way. They were incredibly kind, gave me a tour and generally made me feel loved.

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My editor has been a voice on the other end of the phone ever since I got “the call,” so it was such fun to meet her in person. Here is a picture of her next to some vintage Harlequin cover art–because there is nothing more fun than vintage Harlequin cover art!

IMG_1983And here is Yours Truly, doing the same thing with Royce of the Royal Mounted. ;)

IMG_1986They made me a sign!

Patty and DanaPatty and Kathleen

And here is me, one more time, in the old reception area.

IMG_1984 The visit is not complete without a moment in that reception area. :)

And now, I will kick back and relax… sort of. I have new book ideas percolating. Guess what I’ll be doing on that long flight home again? ;)

Behind the scenes

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My American Romance editor took to Twitter to post some behind the scenes pictures from a cover photo shoot… and guess whose book was being shot?

That’s right! We have an unofficial shot of our handsome Sheriff and his little charge from SAFE IN THE LAWMAN’S ARMS which is due out February 2016. Isn’t she just adorable? And isn’t my editor just a treasure for snapping a picture for me? (She’s promised to send me some better quality ones when she gets a chance, so when that happens I’ll share them with you, too.)

Apparently, they brought in three little girls–all with blonde curls–for the shoot so that if one got tired, they could swap in another. But give three little girls some ice cream, and I think your chances of getting some great shots are pretty high!

I can’t wait to see the finished cover and see what they do with it!

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A pro with a tooth guard

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So, apparently, I’ve been stressed.

As in stressed enough to grind my teeth during a cat nap, and break a filling. I woke up with a sore tooth, a filling stuck in the back of my throat (I swallowed it) and a realization that I need to calm the heck down.

I need to relax already! Deep breathing. Letting things go. That kind of thing. I highly doubt that any of the things that stress me are worth dental work.

V0011505 A reluctant girl sits down in the dentist's chair. Reproduct Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A reluctant girl sits down in the dentist's chair. Reproduction of a drawing by B. Thomas, 1920. 1920 By: Bert ThomasPublished: 1920 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

That night, I lay next to Mr. Johns in bed, our air conditioner humming away at the window, and *thought* I looked perfectly normal.

Mr. Johns: What’s the matter?

Me: Nothing. Why?

Mr. Johns: You look like you’re thinking really, really hard.

Me: Oh. Well, I was thinking about how I want to end this book… and the Andy character–I mean, he needs to be more sympathetic. He shouldn’t just be a complete ass, you know?

Mr. Johns: Sure.

Silence. Because my stress wasn’t coming from work. I love writing romance novels—they’re my release. I get stressed when I don’t have one to work on, which isn’t the case at the moment.

Me: And I’ve been kind of stressed about __________________________ (all those little things you have no control over and should probably not sweat, but for some reason do until your husband reminds you not to.)

Mr. Johns: Yeah, I get it.

Me: Plus, I lost that filling, my stomach is still recovering from that gluten I got the other day and I’m pretty sure I’m hormonal.

Mr. Johns: Yikes.

Me: Be thankful I’m still functional.

Mr. Johns: I am. *pause* I think I’m getting a cold.

And he did—a real doozy. So for the next 24 hours, I put him to bed, brought him medicine, cooked him tempting meals and made hot tea with honey. Seriously, you’d marry me, too, next time you got a cold. I’m a pro…. a pro with a tooth guard that I apparently need to remember to put in every time my eyelids droop. Sexy.

With any luck and a small miracle, I won’t get his cold, because if you add a cold into the mix for me, my good humor—which besides looking deep in thought, has been pretty constant—will be gone. I’ll curl up and abdicate all adult responsibilities.

You’ve been warned. ;)

A reason to believe

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I’m a woman of faith. I believe in a lot of things: God, goodness, a happy ending, true love. None of these are logical conclusions. Looking at the world around me, it’s easy to think that the overwhelming evidence points to the contrary.

I don’t need to go over that evidence. You’ve seen it, too. Just reading the news is enough, frankly. Recently, we had to have the internet safety talk with our son because we want to protect him from things he can’t un-see. The world is so very full of things that we can’t un-see.

So why believe in goodness and that happy ending? Why believe in God or in a soul-mate, for that matter? Truthfully, I wanted to—I needed to—and instead of waiting to be convinced beyond a shadow of doubt, I had to find a reason to believe.

There is a whisper. But I couldn’t convince you if you didn’t want to hear it. A person can’t be argued into it. If you raise your voice, you drown it out.

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It’s like a buttercup in a garbage dump. There’s a lot of garbage, yes, but that buttercup has more meaning in the midst of all the trash and rot. There is evidence for soulmates, even though hearts get broken. There is evidence that love is stronger than hate, even though hatred and ambivalence are so prevalent. There is evidence if we care to see it, and with that evidence comes hope.

If you have the reason to look for it, you can find the flowers in the trash heap, the Happily Ever After after all those kissed frogs.

If you have reason to believe.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
~Raold Dahl

The Snarky Choir

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I don’t know about you, but I have a little choir of dissenting voices in the back of my head–voices picked up over the years whose tinny criticisms follow me like a snarky little choir.

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Pleasing all of those voices is impossible. It involves turning my self into a pretzel and then some. Look young. Look successful. Excel in a career. Keep a spotless home. Nurture. Develop some snark. Serve. Be ever available. Look rested. ACT rested. Smile! Say yes. Be nice. Stop being so nice. Let your personality shine. Don’t intimidate. Be proud. Be humble. Be strong. Be meek.

I’m pretty sure all of us women have those voices cackling in the background, and turning them off isn’t so easy, because those voices belong to people we know, respect, and even want to please.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about this very topic, and we both said the same thing: What kind of woman do *I* want to be?

For me, I want to embrace being a Fully Grown Woman. I don’t want to waste my time on chasing youth when I could be chasing experience, accomplishment and hard-won wisdom. I don’t think I should have to look as young as possible, be as thin as possible or be as available as possible. I’d rather have people remember me as an honorable woman who loved deeply, worked passionately and got enough sleep.

Oh, and who ate a full meal. Seriously, ladies. At this point, if we don’t deserve a full plate of food three times a day, then WHEN? ;)

Forget the snarky choir… We have one kick at this bucket, and we’d better make it a good one. The choir can kick their own.

A schedule is a schedule, after all.

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I’m a scheduler. It’s not very romantic or exciting. I don’t wait for the magic of summer to hit us–I plan a schedule for our day.

There are reasons behind this–the boring parenting kind that I won’t burden you with. ;) However, every morning we have scheduled in a walk. It is written in permanent marker on a piece of paper taped to the wall. That’s very official stuff. On that schedule, I have added in some work time for me… See how this works? Otherwise, I can kiss goodbye any writing!

Here are a few pictures from this morning’s walk.

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That is my son scooting off in the background. ;)

That is my son scooting off in the background. ;)

I find our town really cute.

I find our town really cute.

And now, it’s time for me to get some editing done. A schedule is a schedule, after all!

 

Making friends

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Today, I stumbled across this TED talk. It was so moving that it teared me up! Zak Ebrahim is the son of one of the bombers from the World Trade Center. He was raised to fear, hate and live opposed to everyone else in his American home, but even with that upbringing he chose a different path, and he discovered that we aren’t all so different from him after all.

This is a timely message, I think… There has been so much fear and negativity in the media. Even on my Facebook news feed, I see people from different walks of life posting angry, political, opinion-heavy messages that insist that their way is the only way to see things. Anyone else is wrong–or worse, despicable.

If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that ideas and opinions only go so far, until you have a human being in front of you. It changes things–for most of us, at least. Making a friend can make all the difference in the world.

Mr. Johns was right

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So this summer, I had decided to grow food. It was going to be amazing–we’d plant a small balcony garden and we’d grow fresh peas, some herbs, some peppers…

“Why not just plant flowers?” Mr. Johns asked. “I like flowers on a balcony.”

But no! I had IDEALS, people! I was going to show my child where the food on his plate came from, show him those beautiful life lessons that country kids glean from the simple experience of watching a seed grow. My town raised child would not miss out on those simple pleasures. He would eat the very peas we grew… standing in the dewy morning coolness of a morning… on the balcony.

We were going to grow FOOD, blast it! And then we were going to eat it. It was going to be amazing.

Well, one by one, my planters failed me. As it turns out, there’s a reason why people tend to grow their vegetables in an actual garden and not in small pots on their porch. My peas were looking decidedly anemic, despite all their direct sunlight, plant food and doting love they received.

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So I tore them out and put in some flowers. The flowers look equally anemic right now, having spent their entire existence from seed to wilting plant in the Plant Center outside the grocery store. But I have high hopes that they’ll perk up.

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Flowers know how to live in pots. Peas, apparently, do not. Mr. Johns was right, but sweet guy that he is, he tends to just go along with my schemes until he is proven right in the end.

Me: That’s it! I’m going to take out the peas and put in flowers. The magazines and inspiring internet memes were wrong.

Mr. Johns: And…?

Me: You were right.

Mr. Johns: Amen!

Me: Mr. Johns, this is not church. *scowl*

Mr. Johns: *grins*

Binge-watching Netflix

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House_of_Cards,_season_3,_promo_imageI’ve had a week off. It was necessary after finishing up a rough draft of a novel and then coming down with a summer cold. So while I nursed my cold and let my brain lay fallow for a few days, I finished up the last season of House of Cards that I was watching on Netflix.

Binge-watching House of Cards while taking cold medicine can make a girl rather paranoid when it comes to politics! I don’t really have anything else to say about that… just that the last episode of Season 3 left me seriously horrified with Doug! I saw it coming with Underwood, but — I digress! This isn’t the point.

In my writing, I’ll be editing a proposal I’ll be submitting in the next few weeks to my Love Inspired editor. I’ll also be doing the final edits on two books coming out in 2016. With any luck, I won’t have any more colds or flues to battle while I do it.

In my family life, I’ll have my 7-year-old with me, and we’ll get going on our summer activities until Mr. Johns gets home at night. His summer vacation starts tomorrow at 3 pm, and I’ve been looking forward to this time together. In a way, this will be slowing down–something I knew I’d have to do during July and August all along–but it’s going to stay busy regardless! My son will make sure of that. ;)

And that is the update! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the summer experience in the Johns’ house, where the summer might be short, but we’re going to make the most of it. :)

 

 

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