Rather intense hobbies

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I was always a person with a rather intense hobby: building a second career in a creative field. I worked a day job to pay my bills, but my evenings, weekends, days off and pretty much any free hour was devoted to building my writing career.

It paid off! I now write full time, and I’m able to devote my regular working hours to my passion instead of my off hours. And I love it! But I noticed that I no longer have a hobby, and I’ve felt this obligation to find one. My brain is used to having something rather intense waiting for me in the evenings. The problem is, I have pretty limited interests. I’ve done a lot of creative hobbies for a short period of time, but none have stuck: crocheting, quilting, painting… I even sewed a china doll once.

I went for coffee with my Harlequin author buddy who lives down the street, and she made me feel better, because she’s the same way: besides writing, she doesn’t have anything else to distract her, either. I’m not alone in this! My evenings and weekends might not involve intense focus anymore, but that’s okay! My day job provides all of that for me now. I suppose it’s all part of learning how to simmer down and just enjoy the fact that I get to write for a living now.

I’m just going to enjoy it. I’ve always said that balance was overrated, but working during the days and spending evenings and weekends with my family is actually the most balanced my life has ever been!

It just feels weird. LOL

 

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A box of books. :)

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Look what came in the mail! I love getting boxes of books, and this time it was my April copies of THE TRIPLETS’ COWBOY DADDY. You’ll have to forgive me looking like death warmed over. Believe it or not, I put off taking this picture because when the box arrived, I was in bed with the mother of all colds. So the picture below is actually an improvement. My husband had to go pick up the box for me, and he even took a day off of work to take care of me. It was the kind of cold that gave my 8-year-old a bit of a sore throat, and that dropped me like a plague victim. It wasn’t attractive. 😉

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Anyway, my suffering aside, the books arrived, and I’m just thrilled to have them in my hot little hands. You’ll see them on the shelves in April, and I hope you’ll pick up a copy!

Stay healthy, everyone!

 

A monocle and a bow tie

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A friend of mine is a big Beyonce fan, and she posted some words from a Beyonce song called “If I Were a Boy.” You can see the song here, if you’re curious. Anyway, the premise of the song is a girl singing about how if she were a boy, she’d understand women a whole lot better, and she’d be able to provide the understanding that a woman needs.

bt217I write romance novels, and that means that I have to write from both the heroine’s perspective and the hero’s. The hero’s point of view is harder, and it takes me asking my husband all sorts of questions because men are just wired differently than women are. I’m reminded of that every single time I try to buy my husband a gift, because I used to shop with the “If I were a boy, just for a day…” mindset. And it didn’t work! Because if I were a man, I’d probably wear a monocle and a bow tie. I’d have monogrammed handkerchiefs and I’d smell ever so faintly of ladies’ moisturizer, because I really do love the feeling of soft, well-moisturized skin… In essence, I can’t stop being who I am, and if I were a boy, just for a day, I’d be an emotional wreck.

Which is why I don’t write my heroes with “If this were me” in mind. I write them with “If this were Mr. Johns, how would he react?” Men aren’t tougher versions of women–they’re a whole different species! They approach problems, emotions and challenges differently. They’re more likely to clam up and stare you down than they are to just open up and let it all out, like we are. They want to feel strong, successful, capable of defending the woman they love. The testosterone that courses through their veins does more than broaden their shoulders and deepen their voices, it affects absolutely everything about them. And I have to say… there is nothing more attractive.

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It’s also one of the lessons I’ve learned in nearly twelve years of marriage–don’t buy him that really cool gift I found that I think is so fantastic (an Edgar Allan Poe styled fountain pen!), because he won’t see it the same way. Love isn’t saying, “If I were him,” Love is remembering the tool he mentioned when he got all excited and pointed it out in the hardware store. And then wrapping it really obviously, because I know he hates surprises.   ❤

TGIF?

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Because I work from home, a work/life balance can be a challenge. When you work in the exact same room where you relax, your brain can get some mixed messages. It also doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a workaholic by nature…

So this is how my weekends normally go:

Friday, I fantasize. I’m tired, but I have a certain number of hours left to work (read: time when I’m alone without interruption) and am determined to make the most of them. I spend all of Friday writing hard and looking forward to my weekend off, which I’m sure I’ll thoroughly enjoy. Netflix. Naps! It’ll be glorious.

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Saturday, I’m in denial. My brain hasn’t turned off yet from my writing week. It’s hard to just stop, and I figure that if I can do a bit more writing, I’ll be able to get ahead and it will be a good thing, right? Unfortunately, Saturday is also busy, and my time goes into my family, cooking, groceries, etc. But before I go to sleep Saturday night, I make a secret vow to sneak off and write on Sunday. And every single Saturday, I’m positive that I’ll follow through on that.

Sunday, I crash. I don’t care how fervent that Saturday night vow was, I’m wiped come Sunday morning. I put my feet up, and all those Friday afternoon fantasies come into fruition: Netflix and napping. Period.

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So how about you? Do you transition into a restful weekend a little more gracefully than I do?

The map that started it all

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I’m currently writing a Christmas novel for my Hope, Montana series with Harlequin Western Romance. The Hope, Montana books are all set in the same town, which makes for fun writing. I get to bring back previous characters, walk my characters down the same streets, and generally have a lot of fun with it.

Back when I started the series, I took a big piece of paper and drew a map. It’s one of those necessities so that you don’t get lost in your writing later on. At the time, my son was in first grade, and the red markered words on the page are his addition from a spelling test. LOL!

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So there you have it–the map that started it all. It’s a little tattered, but holding up all the same.

This book is coming along nicely, by the way. I think you’ll really like it… 🙂

Gifts from a practical man

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Mr. Johns is an incredibly practical man. Opposites attract, what can I say? But when it comes to gifts, he tends to look for something that I can use. An item of clothing, something for the kitchen. But there have been a few times that he’s gone against his more practical instinct and bought me something sentimental–and those are gifts I remember!

  1. Love letters. Mr. Johns does not like to write, but for me, he’ll sit down about once a year and pen a love letter to me. I keep them all in a box on my dresser, and when he’s at work, I’ll sift through my little collection and reread them. Nothing is quite so sweet to me as his words on paper!img_3377
  2. An engraved clock. One anniversary, I pointed my husband in the direction of an engraving store and told him to get me something from there. He did–he bought me a clock (a nod to his practical side) that he engraved with the Swahili word “Nakupenda,” which means “I love you.” It was one of the first phrases he taught me when we were dating. I’ve cherished that clock for years!img_3378

This month, I have a Valentine’s Day novel on the shelves of your local bookstore. In this story, Kaitlyn slips a Valentine’s Day card–the silly, vintage variety–into Brody’s bag just before he leaves for boot camp. It was a standing joke between them, but that card turned into something much more meaningful to him over the next year, so that when he returned home with his leg shot up, he was a different man than who left…

***

valentine-brideBrody Mason needs a nurse. As soon as he can walk again, he’ll leave Hope, Montana, and go straight back to the army. But Kaitlyn Harpe? That’s adding insult to injury. Not just because she’s a daily reminder that Brody’s fiancée, Kate’s sister, married his best friend while he was fighting in Afghanistan. But because Kaitlyn had kept the truth from him.

The Kaitlyn he knew before he deployed would never have perpetuated a lie like that. But this new person—the confident, beautiful woman with hidden depths in her eyes—is nothing like the shy, serious girl he knew. This Kaitlyn troubles him. Because Brody is starting to wonder if he proposed to the wrong sister…

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The dancing farmer

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Jay Lavery uploaded this video on Facebook for a joke with his friends, and then it went viral! He had to take out the music (since he was warned by Sia’s lawyers… sigh!) but you can see his dancing here.

Totally made my day! This farmer has rhythm. Enjoy.

 

If you want to see it with the music, click HERE.

Now that’s a hero!

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I stumbled across this story, and while it happened something like 5 years ago, Staff Sgt. Eddie Peoples is the kind of guy who would make a great hero in one of my books.

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Mr. Peoples was back from deployment, and he and his two little boys were in a bank when a robber came in waving a gun around and demanding money. Mr. Peoples was no ordinary bank customer that day. He was used to a whole new level of danger, and he wasn’t scared. He told his boys to get under chairs, and he proceeded to put furniture in front of them. When the robber threatened to shoot one of the boys, and Mr. Peoples finally got mad.

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He followed the robber out into the parking lot where he blocked the robber’s getaway vehicle. When the robber got out of the car and put a gun against his head, Mr. People’s grabbed his wrist and promptly took him down.

When asked about it later–if he were afraid–he said no, this was just a regular bad guy. He was used to war, which is far worse. Mostly he was just angry.

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So that day, two little boys got to watch their daddy save the day!

This is the video, if you’d like to see it. It really is worth it to hear Mr. People’s describe it himself.

Shameless self-promotion

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So this month, A BAXTER’S REDEMPTION was released. I loved writing this book, and I’ve gotten really great response from readers who enjoyed it just as much as I did, it seemed! That’s a great feeling for a writer. We pour so much of ourselves into a book, that having readers really enjoy it makes it all worthwhile.

So if you haven’t had the chance to read it, you can still pick up a copy!

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But I also have another release coming in February! This one is for the Western Romance line, and it falls into my Hope, Montana series. If you’ve been waiting to find out what happens to Brody Mason, your wait is over!

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Brody Mason needs a nurse. As soon as he can walk again, he’ll leave Hope, Montana, and go straight back to the army. But Kaitlyn Harpe? That’s adding insult to injury. Not just because she’s a daily reminder that Brody’s fiancée, Kate’s sister, married his best friend while he was fighting in Afghanistan. But because Kaitlyn had kept the truth from him. 

The Kaitlyn he knew before he deployed would never have perpetuated a lie like that. But this new person—the confident, beautiful woman with hidden depths in her eyes—is nothing like the shy, serious girl he knew. This Kaitlyn troubles him. Because Brody is starting to wonder if he proposed to the wrong sister… 

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This one will be on the bookshelves for February wherever you buy your Harlequins. I can’t wait to go book stalking. 😉