“Hard to be with”

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Every once in a while, I come across a meme that drives me so crazy I have to blog about it. It’s happened again. ;)

I’ve seen quite a few different varieties of this one: basically, the premise is that a woman has every right to be mean, difficult or witchy, and the man simply has to be grateful that he has the pleasure of being with her. (As un-pleasurable as it might sound!) The idea seems to be that “true love” puts up with all sorts of misery because it sees beyond bad behavior.

10580194_950268768340093_4901545370257555156_nFirst of all, I think this goes against what we actually want. We want a lasting relationship, someone to grow old with. We want a man who loves and supports us, who adores us even when we’re sick or going through a hard time. But being difficult doesn’t actually build that kind of solid relationship. If one side of that relationship gets to be the difficult one, what about the other side of that relationship? What does he get from this, exactly? You get out what you put in, and, frankly, a pretty face isn’t enough.

The thing is, we all have choices. We have choices about who we date, who we marry and who we stay married to. Ideals are one thing, but practicality is another, and people don’t tend to stay in a marriage where they aren’t cared for. No one has to be with us. No is forced into a union and shackled down for life. A relationship takes work, time, patience and devotion–on both sides. In a relationship, both people have to want to be there.

If a man treated a woman shabbily for any length of time, we’d call it abusive and cheer her on to leave the relationship. So what about the man who is being treated shabbily because the woman is “hard to be with?”

Two difficult people stomping around and hurting each other aren’t ready for anything as precious as a lifelong commitment. There shouldn’t be any pride in being “hard to be with.” It doesn’t prove a man’s worth by putting up with it, either. Being difficult isn’t a great achievement. But loving each other so well that your partner couldn’t imagine life without you–that’s something admirable.

A Voyeuristic Balloon

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We’re being haunted by a balloon. It’s the helium variety–one we got my son to celebrate his birthday, except the creepy thing follows you! Scientifically, it probably has to do with air currents, and the fact that I have a few different windows cracked to air this place out… but there is nothing more alarming than feeling something touch your shoulder and turning around to a head-level balloon!

DSC03784My son wanted to have it in his bedroom at night, and we had to tell him a definitive No. If I had any hope of sleeping without being woken up several times at night by the terrified screams of my child, that balloon had to be allowed to wander the living room and let us sleep in peace.

DSC03783So there you have it–what I’m up to besides working on a proposal for a series for Love Inspired. Me rattling away on my keyboard–boring to hear about. A malevolently lurking balloon–moderately more interesting! LOL!

DSC03782Don’t look now, but there’s a balloon hovering over your shoulder… ;)

A new contract!

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I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that I’ve been offered a two book contract from Harlequin’s American Romance line. That means that I’ll be writing for both Love Inspired and American Romance in the future. But no worries–you’ll be able to trust my American Romance titles to be clean and sweet. While American Romances don’t have the faith element, they do champion heart and home, and I’m excited to start contributing to their line of books.

My first novel with them is due out January 2016.

 

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This isn’t MY cake, but I’d definitely choose it to celebrate! And as always, if you need a suitable excuse to eat cake, you can feel free to use this new contract. ;) Because I care.

A lot more like a circus than you’d think!

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With a book about to be released, a manuscript submitted and waiting on the edge of my seat to hear back about another manuscript which I should hear about any second now…. I’m in a weird limbo.

I might try and make novel-writing into a 9-5 sort of job for the sake of my family, but it isn’t. It’s more like a traveling circus, where you put down your stakes and pour on the energy, bring out the clowns for the length of one novel, then shove it all back into a box and move on again.

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Don’t get me wrong–I love this! I’m just not a very graceful in-between person. I love having a book on the go, and when I’m sitting around planning (or waiting for the answer to hit me), it feels awkward. Fingers to keyboard is a lot more comfortable than wandering my house talking to myself, saying things like, “So why? Why does she need him?”

I can procrastinate like a pro when I have a book set up and ready to write! In fact, I have a lot going on this week. My son had a birthday, I have family coming from out of town to help us celebrate, and we’ve all gone down with one truly appalling cold that’s left us run down and medicated. So if I had that book primed and ready to roll, I’d sit back in complete comfort–or as much as this cold will allow–and forget about it.

But I don’t. So I can’t. I do NOT have a big pile of work waiting for me right now. So how can any logical person expect me to rest?

That is the neurotic mind of a writer. We’re the tortured sort. If life doesn’t torture us, we torture ourselves. ;) So don’t be alarmed. I’ll be fine. It’s this kind of twisted work ethic that creates the soothing stories you read before sleep. LOL!

Photo by Usien

Photo by Usien

Giveaway!

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In preparation for my next book release, I’m holding a book giveaway for A FIREFIGHTER’S PROMISE through Goodreads. This book is being released May 2015, but you can enter now to win a free copy for yourself, or for your mom! (Just in time for Mother’s Day, of course!) If this is for your mother, write “For Mom: and her name” in the Company Name line of the ballot. I’ll include a card giving you full credit for the gift. ;)

So if you’d like to win a free copy,

CLICK HERE!

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Good luck! I’m giving away 5 copies. The draw will end April 15, 2015.

 

 

 

 

Awash in Books

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I just submitted my manuscript for A SECOND TIME AT FOREVER… just in time to get a springtime cold. This is how it works for me–I work hard, and then my immune system craps out on me. I recover for a few days, and then I pour it on for a new project. I don’t think my body likes this arrangement, considering that it keeps throwing me under the bus with illness, but I carry on anyway. ;)

Right now, I’m starting a proposal for what I hope will be my first series. This one will be about a police department, and it’s slowly starting to take shape in my mind. It’s fun to start with something brand new–a new town, a new group of people. I confess I’m geeking out a little bit! I’m going to make a nice big map so that I can keep track of where everything is in my fictional town. I’ll have to keep track of all my details: shopkeepers, townspeople, ministers, store names…

And today, I received my big ol’ box of A FIREFIGHTER’S PROMISE, which hits bookstores May, 2015. Yay! So I’m feeling productive… and awash in books. So stay tuned for a giveaway soon!

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Less than sportsmanlike…

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Do you see that rainy misery outside? That’s called writing paradise! You wish you could be so lucky as to look out a window over that melting pile of dirty snow IN MARCH! I’m in northern Canada, and there are places in the United States that are hip deep in snow right now. I don’t get to feel smug often about weather, so allow me this. ;)

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Anyway, this would be writing paradise if I didn’t have my six-year-old at home with a tummy bug. So instead of pouring it on for my deadline, I’m making soft porridge and playing checkers with him.

The only problem is that he no longer trusts me to let him win.

Our first game of checkers, the game ended with me having three kings… which inspired me to sing “We Three Kings” heartily while I wiped the board with him.

“Good game, sweetheart.”

Maybe not really sportsmanlike on my part. Sorry. :(

The next game, I felt bad for my earlier enthusiasm, and kept giving him chances to jump me.

“No!” he’d say. “If I jump you there, then you’ll jump me back!”

So we kept moving our pieces, him scared to jump me, and me trying really hard not to win again… And we ended up like this:

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No joke! The mother of all stalemates.

Parenting at it’s finest. ;) Now you have two things to envy me for: a pile of melting, dirty snow, and my solid parenting strategies.

Happy Monday!

The weight of a heart: writing bad guys

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Bad guys are definitely fun to write, and my current work in progress has a doozy of a bad guy. Now, romance novels don’t always need bad guys to keep them moving, the focus on the relationship being enough, and this guy developed almost by accident. I needed my cop hero and the journalist heroine to have something to work on together, and in he stepped.

Now, fictional bad guys are much like real life bad guys in that they have two vastly different sides to their characters. If you think about it, even Hitler, who is arguably the most evil man we know of, had a personable side. I’ve read articles where people who worked as bodyguards to Hitler said he was fun and laughed and joked with them. They honestly liked him. The other side to his personality was horrifically cruel–all bundled up into the same person.

In writing, maximizing that dichotomy of character is key in showing just how “bad” a bad guy is: the warm smile right after a vicious sneer, for example, or the extra-kindness before doing something particularly cruel. Abusive people, in real life, tend to show this same kind of flip-flopping behavior, keeping their victims off balance with volleying kindness and cruelty. It’s the inconsistency that makes us nervous. It’s that inconsistency that makes them dangerous.

 

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People are often described as having “a good heart.” Hearts seem to be weighed differently than actions by the people closest to them. Motives are taken into consideration. “He didn’t mean it. He was upset because…” or “She only lied because she was trying to protect him…” In these situations, bad behavior is mitigated by “the good heart,” or the motivation. When actions become intolerably cruel, however, actions weigh more than hearts, and flawed characters become villains. That’s the realm of “bad guys.”

But never fear–I’m a firm believer in that happy ending, and the bad guy meets a suitable end. ;) Also… someone gets married, but sssh… I don’t want to ruin it!

…then you give him a badge and a gun…

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Today, I got to meet a police officer (who is so much fun, that I’d make her my new friend if it wouldn’t seem oddly suspicious…) and toured the police station, as well as a police cruiser. I had a fabulous time!

First of all, I got to get a mental image of how all the parts and pieces go together. Cops episodes just don’t do that for you, and if you watch enough of them in a row, you get a real appreciation for how much it would hurt to be taken down and hand-cuffed. That does not look comfortable! I’m not ashamed to say that I would cry. (I’d also take my hands out of my pockets when asked, for the record.) ;)

That’s not the point here, though. My contact with the police has always been friendly. I’ve never even been pulled over before. My six-year-old likes to make conversation with the cops running speed traps when we go for walks, and they are really kind to him. They’ll stop and chat, answer his questions, listen to him tell about his day at school. I like the local law enforcement to recognize us–and our town is small enough that it’s actually possible.

Anyway, this wasn’t a Cops episode or a speed trap conversation, this was a tour of an actual, working police station. I got to peek into holding cells, learn a few scanner codes and sit in the driver’s seat of a police car.

And do you know why? Besides research for this current book I signed a contract for, I’d like to pitch a cop series to my editor (I’ve already received a warm reception on the idea) and I need to make sure I have my details straight. There is just something about a hero in uniform, you know? Strong, protective, sweet, maybe a bit of a wounded past… then you give him a gun and a badge, and it’s a winning combination!

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?

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