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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My Grandmother’s Watch

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In the early 1960’s, my father gave his mother a watch for her birthday. It wouldn’t have cost much. They were a farming family with twelve kids, so there wasn’t a lot to go around. But my father, who would have been under 10 at the time, had wanted to give her something special, and he bought this watch.

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My grandmother died when I was about 6. I don’t remember much of her. I know she had a hard life. From what I understand, she had a step-mother who hated her when she was a child, and she suffered from mental illness much of her life. The treatment back then was shock therapy. She raised twelve children and was widowed quite early. Her children loved her, but keeping up a relationship with her was difficult. Her illness wasn’t her fault, but the effects of it still linger.

Time has a way of softening all those edges, though. The memories are not mine, and a granddaughter she hardly knew from a marriage she disapproved of now owns her watch. I take it out from time to time and look at it, wondering about the life my grandmother led. Not all stories are happy ones. Not all stories are easy.

I don’t have a daughter of my own, so one day I hope to pass it down to my own granddaughter, and she will have a watch that was worn by her great-great-grandmother.

In my mind, she’s in Heaven now. The illness that plagued her for a lifetime is now gone. Her mind is clear. The pain and anger were wiped away, and perhaps–at least I like to think–she’d be happy to know that I have the watch her little boy gave her one birthday.

Lurking in book stores…

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Being a real, flesh and blood author is incredibly awkward. Being an online author–chatting, posting pictures, that sort of thing–is much easier. In real life, I just tend to get awkward.

Yesterday, I decided to go find my book in an actual store. It’s very exciting, but I feel a bit shy when I go out on a mission to find my book. So I slip into stores trying not to be noticed, and I’m SURE plain clothes security guards have their spidy senses tingling at the sight of me. I’m a lurker. I sidle up to the Harlequin shelf, looking for mine…

The first store didn’t have any of mine left–yay!! So I had to go to a different store across town, where I found my book on the shelf, snapped a photo, then slipped away.

DSC03914Because what would I say to someone? “Hey, I wrote this!” And then they say…. What, exactly? “Good for you!” or “That’s great.” And I say…. ??

I don’t know the response for that.

You see? Very uncomfortable. Kind of weird. I have no idea how that conversation would go. So I lurk. I sidle. I snap selfies. I run away.

If YOU’D like to lurk in a store and sidle up to my book on a bookshelf, now is your chance to do it! It’s in the stores–and you won’t look as weird as I do, because you’d just buy it all naturally, looking all normal and unruffled.

If anyone asked you about it, you could just say, “Yeah, I’m buying this,” and they’d say, “Do you want a bag with that?”

See? Normal. Not awkward at all. Don’t take that for granted! ;)

 

 

Your “Aww” moment for the day

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Love stories just make me happy! And here is a great one–about Brazil’s tallest man, plagued with self-doubt, but overcoming it all to fall in love with a girl who just took his breath away… At 5 feet tall, she comes to his waist.

This “gentle giant”, as they call him, is just so sweet! And I love the little detail that his mom had some trouble adjusting to sharing him. It certainly isn’t ideal for the groom to have over-protective parents, but it certainly isn’t unheard of! LOL!

Opposites sure do seem to attract. I always expect to see something like “Brazil’s tallest man weds Brazil’s tallest woman,” but nope. Brazil’s tallest man falls head over heels for a teeny tiny lady who I’m sure has enough personality to make it all work. And that just seems to be the way things happen. If the match weren’t an unlikely one, I doubt we’d get behind it so enthusiastically. And somehow, I think the unlikeliness of it all fuels the lovers, too.

The path to true love never did run smooth… and if it did, young people would still pass it up for the unlikely rebel who horrifies their parents. ;) Human nature.

 

A 1950’s Housewife

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I recently read an article about a woman who decided to become a 1950’s housewife for a week. It caught my interest because I just love 1950’s dresses, and I love being at home. I am a full time writer, which means I work from home. All day, every day. I absolutely love being at home. While some people would go nuts being cooped up all day, I thrive on it.

YLF_087We joke about 50’s housewives because times have changed so much, but there is a sort of allure to the good old days. Back when “girls were girls and men were men.” But could I, as a modern woman, really hack it?

I might work from home, but my work keeps me planted squarely in front of my keyboard. I’m not beating rugs or preparing roasts. I use modern appliances. And I sure as heck don’t rise earlier than my family and have my pearls on before they wander out of their bedrooms.

That said, I have been boiling up my own laundry soap. We grind rice to make gluten-free flours. (Granted my husband does the actual grinding. It’s hard work!) I haul my own clothes washer apart if I figure I could fix it on my own. I’m not averse to doing it myself, and I like having a pretty home. I also tend to have a meal on the table when my husband gets home from work. Except, once I’ve cooked, he does the dishes, and if I had to both cook and do all the cleanup, I think I’d get resentful pretty quickly. My son has heard me say, “I’m not the family maid!” more often than he can probably count.

Photo by:  Lars Nordin/Nordin Nilson, Nordiska museet

Photo by: Lars Nordin/Nordin Nilson, Nordiska museet

As much as I love the fashion, I don’t think I’d pass muster as a 1950’s housewife. My housekeeping is downright sloppy compared to June Cleaver, and I don’t think I could survive the corsets. Squeeze me into one all day, and you’d have yourself one snappish little wifey! And then when you see the advertising of the day…

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…and I know there is no going back. I like to breathe. I like to write books. I really like having opinions! I also wouldn’t have stayed married very long if my husband expected me to serve him anything at all on a platter.

But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Those dresses are still gorgeous, and I love a set of pearls. ;)

The hazelnut mochacchino and the poop in the tub

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Suzanne Heintz got tired of being asked when she was going to settle down and get married, so she created a fictional family of mannequins and started taking all sorts of “family” photos with them. She’s an artist who explores image. It’s really worth checking out! I find the photos intriguing because she does all the classic poses–except her family is obviously made of fiberglass. But really… not so different from the photos we put out there of our own families!

I think we’re all pretty image conscious in these days of social media. Our families have become a sort of badge. We post cute photos of the kids, a “totally spontaneous!” picture of the hubby kissing us, which only took about four takes to get right, because frankly we looked a little jowly in the other three… We put it out there as proof of— I’m not even sure what it’s proof of. Our value? The fact that we’re loved? Proof that we’re doing this thing called life “right?”

There have been different waves going through Facebook. At first, everyone posted absolute perfection until they made their friends want to gag. “Sally Mae just loves her dance class! Here she is trying to tie her own slippers.” “Greg says I’m cute first thing in the morning. Don’t know what he sees! LOL!” “A perfect Fall morning… enjoying the sunrise with a hazelnut mochaccino.”

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Then people did gag, and the wave changed. Then it turned to Realism–pictures of dirty laundry, a messy counter, kids covered in peanut butter and ruined pedicures. I’m not perfect, we proclaimed. I’m not perfect at all! Look at what a mess I am! I’m surprised I’m allowed to keep my kids! My husband? Heck, we fought for three hours this morning over burnt toast! I’m totally down to earth and real.

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So we silently judged our “real” friends on social media and truly wondered why their children weren’t taken away. Except that wasn’t “real”, either. It was just the worst moments of the day documented for our pleasure. The poop in the tub, the burnt meal, the guilty looking dog.

And now? People are a lot quieter on social media now. We don’t share as much. We keep a little more to ourselves. We close the doors more often and enjoy those perfect mornings and snuggles with those we love in privacy. We no longer glamorize our messy homes. We just carry on, and post a message to a Facebook pal, finalizing plans for dinner.

I think we learned that when we put ourselves out there to be judged, 50% of the people will pat us on the back, and the other 50% will judge us. It doesn’t matter if you post perfect pictures or “real” pictures. I doesn’t matter if you think your kid’s joke was cute or not. You will never make 100% of the people go “Awwww….”

Ever.

But do you know what we can do? We can just be us. I’m pretty sure I was given that advice in my school days— Just be yourself! It might not be such bad advice to revisit. I like you and you like me. Good enough. :)

Happy Weekend!

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Some quick updates for you:

firefighter's promise cover1. My Goodreads giveaway has 5 more days until the draw!  So if you’d like the enter, or if you’d like to tell someone about it :) , the countdown is on.

2. A FIREFIGHTER’S ROMANCE is now available for pre-order on Amazon! So, if you’d rather buy a copy than take your chances on a giveaway, you now CAN! :D

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! After a busy week of writing, I’m settling in for a weekend of reading. Hope you do, too!

 

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A few “family” photos

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The quotations are necessary, because these are sorta family photos…

For my son’s 7th birthday, my father booked him an airplane ride. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate for us to have this ride while my dad was here, but we finally managed to get ride of the miserable weather for our flight today! Here are a few photos of our family trip. I’m cautious about posting pictures of my son online, and my husband is a computer guy and absolutely REFUSES to have his photo online… So you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you that he really does exist! LOL!

So, without further ado, my family:

My son walking out to the plane with the pilot.

My son walking out to the plane with the pilot.

Yes, I'm cold! It's about 5C/41F.

Yes, I’m cold! It’s about 5C/41F.

My husband is in the blue sweater behind me. This is as close to a photo of him as you're likely going to get! LOL!

My husband is in the blue sweater behind me. This is as close to a photo of him as you’re likely going to get! LOL!

My little guy in the copilot seat. He LOVED this!

My little guy in the copilot seat. He LOVED this!

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The scene of our prairie landscape. No snow! But also no green yet... Give us time!

The scene of our prairie landscape. No snow! But also no green yet… Give us time!

We had SUCH a great time! I wish I could show you more direct pictures of the guys who fill my heart, but I can’t. At least you can know that they exist, they are mine, and they inspire every book. <3

SIDEWAYS!!

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Canadians talk a lot about weather, because weather MATTERS. I’m serious. This is not small talk. This is important. This is the line that is drawn between us and our plans for the week… Namely, a scenic plane flight we’ve been looking forward to for WEEKS!

Every single time our scheduled day comes along, either the weather or the flu season kicks up a fuss. This is today:

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This is also the forecast for tomorrow. I don’t think you can see it, but that mix of sleet and snow is actually blowing sideways.

All I want is the regular sun and cold that greets us in our prairie winter! Cold is not an issue, but the driving sleet kinda is… And I want our plane ride!

Anyway, my desires aside, our birds seem to be enjoying that sideways blowing misery, because every time the wind really howls and the sleet whips by perpendicular, they dance around and chirp excitedly. Being flight animals, you’d think they’d have a deeper sense of horror. They do not.

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My whining aside, I hope you all enjoy your Easter weekend, with much better weather than ours. With any luck we’ll get some decent sun for a flight over the town. And you can be assured that I’ll take pictures. ;)

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