Expectant

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Wow, I feel like an expectant mother with her first ultrasound scheduled.

Just got word from my publisher that I should have a peek at my cover art for Frankie’s Heart by this weekend!!

It’s like after months and months of living with this “child” inside my head, I will soon be able to see it’s face!

Can’t wait to see what Black Lyon Publishing comes up with this time.

Stay tuned. I know you’re going to love it…

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A Hundred Years from Now

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise, if you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time at all, that I love old photographs. I love to drink in all the details and try to invent stories to go along with what I see. Or think I see.

A hundred years from now, if this picture should still be around, I wonder… what will people look at it and see?

They might look at the woman and the young man and note a similarity in the shapes of their eyes, and conclude that the young man is her son.

They might invent a story in which the young man, from New York, finds himself in Ohio on business for a few days, and that he calls his mother and invites her to lunch.

They might look at the woman’s smile, and see in it how happy she is, and how she will treasure the memory of this perfect day, this unexpected blessing, for a long, long time to come. They might guess that she looks at this young man, her boy, and is reminded of a little child who brought her jars of crickets and dandelion bouquets. Of years of cheering in the stands at football games and wrestling matches, her heart swelling with pride — even when he didn’t win. They might guess at how amazed she is that this boy, her boy, in what seems the blink of an eye, is now an amazing young man.

They might imagine that he means the world to her.

And they will be right.

Shopping for Characters

I love going to the grocery store.

Oh, not after I’ve worked all day, gone to the bank, put gas in the car, and packing the pantry is one more thing on my to-do list. I like to go in my spare time.

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I enjoy wandering the aisles, checking out the produce section with all of its interesting colors and textures. The baked goods aisle, with a dozen kinds of dinner rolls, pastries and pies. Some stores have an entire aisle of coffees; Dunkin’ Donuts, McCafe, and many I’ve never even heard of. You can get regular cans of coffee, K-cups, or flavored beans to take home and grind yourself.

Grocery stores are wonderful places where I can usually find everything I need. Including characters.

I’m always in need of non-essential “people” for my stories; those walk-ons that every story needs to fill space and add interest.

I have found the tired out, stressed out mama who drags her cart through the store, a toddler in the front who is on mama’s last nerve with begging for things, and the overindulgent grandma who caves and indulges her grandchild’s every whim.

Would you like a popsicle? Let’s get two, one for you and one for grandma…

The starting out couple happily stocking up for their first home, consulting each other over every item, and the couple with matching heart tattoos who can’t seem to add a single item to their cart without a fight.

Fine, get the big box, then. We just won’t get milk this week…

Depending on what my story calls for, I try to see these people through my character’s eyes.

I am the young woman, six years married, who longs for a child.

I am the grandmother in Arkansas, who rarely sees her grandchildren in Vermont.

I am the thirty-something single woman who cannot fathom how you get from matching heart tattoos to squabbling over the price of ground beef.

Grocery stores are wonderful places where you can usually find just what you need. More than fresh strawberries, cake mixes and coffee, they are a rich source of everyday people doing life. Places where you can stock up on countless varieties of scenarios and dialogue, free for the taking. All you have to do is show up.

Identity Theft

My characters take a lot out of me. They take my time and my creative energy. They gobble up hours and hours of my sleep. And sometimes they even steal my identity.

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It’s strange to see your memories play out in someone else’s life. It can be embarrassing, sometimes painful. But I guarantee the scenes that touch a reader most deeply are those that contain an honest to goodness, real life experience. One that made the author laugh out loud, cringe in embarrassment, or write through eyes blurred with tears. Reviewers often refer to my stories as emotional. I take that as high praise.

The benefits of writing through your painful memories are twofold. Firstly, the hard, painful life lessons we all have to learn — the truth — albeit well disguised, makes for good reading.

Secondly, writing through experiences that have impacted me deeply is therapeutic. I’m always amazed, when I sit down to write, at the things that come tumbling out. The experiences, some decades old, that I never really resolved, present themselves for consideration. Giving those experiences to my characters helps me to distance myself and see them from a new perspective.

And it’s always interesting to see how life turns out the second time around.

 

Surrounded

I find this picture to be extremely creepy. Especially the woman on the far right.

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There is no explanation written on the back, no clue as to who these people are.  Maybe whoever took it intended to throw it away. I’m so glad they didn’t.

This ruined picture gets my wheels turning. This family, out for a fun day of sledding, unaware they are surrounded by spirits. Cue the eerie music. I feel a ghost story coming on!

Struggles of a Non-Fashionista Romance Writer

I can take an empty room, dress it up, add color, and make it beautiful. If I had the funds, I’m sure I could make my old fixer upper worthy of the pages of House Beautiful. But when it comes to dressing up myself — I admit it, I struggle.

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I admire people who wear clothes well. I have friends that dress like living, breathing mannequins. I’ve never quite been able to get there. Try as I might, it seems I’ve always got a missing button or a wrinkle in my skirt. And white clothes? Forget it. I even managed to slop on my wedding dress.

The truth is I take a lot more care with dressing my characters than I do myself. In Frankie’s Heart (Coming this July!) my heroine, Frankie Bonetti has a closet full of beautiful clothes. Capris and colorful skirts and all the latest Lula Roe. Having relocated from Cincinnati to tiny Port Arthur, she sometimes has trouble deciding on the right outfit for the right occasion. She looks to me to make sure she is appropriately outfitted.

What’s a non-fashionista romance writer to do? Thank the Lord for fashion blogs and online catalogues from places like Kohls and Christopher & Banks. If not for them, Frankie might show up everywhere in jeans, flip flops and an Ohio State tee shirt.

This Beautiful Day

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If I ever want to write a scene that is filled with lovely surprises, I will look back on today and have all the material I need.

Teacher Appreciation Day started with a steaming cup of McCafe coffee, compliments of the school. It was not only a delicious way to start the work day, but since I got up late this morning, it was exactly what I needed.

In the classroom, I was presented with flowers. My favorite thing. A bold purple petunia that brightened my desk all day long, and a gorgeous Lavender Patio Tree that will grace my front porch until fall.

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Thank you for the beautiful plant.

Thank you for being my teacher.

Oh, child. The pleasure is mine…

For lunch we were treated to subs from Giovanni’s and plates full of home baked goodies, compliments of the parents.

Thinking back over the day, I realize that I am the one who’s thankful. So very thankful. God has provided me not only with a school to work in, but the best little school in Ohio. With people who started out as co-workers and became dear friends. With the beautiful hearts of the children I am privileged to work with and watch grow up. They teach me so much!

One of my favorite bible verses says that every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights… (James 1:17)

Thank you, my Father, for these thoughtful gifts. For this show of appreciation. For this beautiful day.