Saturday, August 25, 2012

Higher Learning

It's been a busy month at my house! One of those times when plans for multiple ventures converge at the same time in a perfect storm of chaos keeping me away -- by virtue of distraction -- from the things I'd rather be doing, like writing. But it was in the interest of helping my two handsome sons find their passion in life that I gladly made that sacrifice. (Really, it was convincing the impatient voices in my head to give me a break that was particularly difficult!)
Having two kids in college at the same time (One freshman, one junior.), evokes two primary responses: The first is - as any parent of college bound children will agree, financial panic.  As we sort through the FAFSA applications to figure out who pays for what, thankfully that is finally settling down. Second, having reached the monumental milestone of having raised our tiny babies to the age of independence (ROFLMAO! Most parents will see the humor in my response.), where do they go from here? What does their future hold?
Whether it is the flesh and blood children that we create from our bodies, or the characters we breathe life into with our well chosen words, we sincerely want the best for them. Even our antagonists, have to have a back story that explains why they are so twisted so we can make sense of their behavior!
For me, my first and favorite protagonist, Adrian, began much like that of a child. In the beginning, he was everything I thought I wanted -- Handsome, successful, living a life very different from my own. But as he grew, a darker side of his personality began to emerge, angry outbursts, foolish choices, unfortunate trials and all, making him all the more well rounded, interesting, and hopefully wise.
In hindsight, creating Adrian has been much like raising another child, a child I hope will go out into the world and touch the life's of those he crosses paths with.
As I look over my  complete manuscript- or as complete as it can be as it creeps closer to publication, I find an unlikely parallel between Adrian, and my boys. Like parents as well as writers, we do our best with what we have to work with, but as they grow in to mature ( Rolling on the floor again...) individuals, we have to know when to let them go to find the life that was meant just for them.
Our children will always be our children, as our characters will be part of us as well, but our greatest achievement is in watching them go out and make a difference in the world carrying a little bit of ourselves with them.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Living Vicariously

Living Vicariously...

This week, my son, Zach, is traveling with friends in Spain and Morocco. How cool is that?
Oh, how I wish I could be there to share the experience with him. But since I cant, I'll just have to live vicariously through him. And that got me thinking... Isn't that what readers do when they immerse themselves in a good book?
As writers, we use our imaginations to create places to go and characters we/they want to meet or even be!
We get to take ideas and use our intellect to craft words in such a way that they evoke images and stir emotions in the minds of others. How cool is that?
So, while I await the return of my son, I plan to keep busy writing, dreaming, envisioning my own paradise. It may not be quite as exciting as a trip abroad but at least you don't have to deal with jet lag and TSA!

Don't forget to visit my novel page at

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Forced Writing and the Meaning of Life

Busy... busy... busy...
Even this time of year, when we should find ourselves with more leisure time to persue our passions ( of all kinds...lo.! ) life has a way of getting in the way.
I envy writers and artists of all kinds who can be so regimented and set aside what I call office hours to work on their craft. Me? I am what they call a "pantster" -- think of Julia Robert's line in Pretty Woman when she said, "I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl!"  Ask anyone who knows me and they'll agree!
That's not to say that I can't meet deadlines and get to work on time, it's just that my muse has a twisted sense of humor ( like me!) and she pops up at the most inconvenient times, like:
When I don't have time to work on it just then  (usually when I'm getting ready for work or even working with a client!)
When I'm trying to sleep - they just invade my dreams... though that's not always a bad thing...LOL!
And, when I'm driving! That one calls for a notebook or digital recorder to be always at the ready.
Some days are prolific, but others feel like no matter how hard I try I can't seem to get the thoughts on the page. And if I force it I just end up  re-writing it again later.
I recently added a fresh set of eyes (Thanks Erin!) to my beta readers  and with her unique experience, she has given me some new insight -- namely the issue of forced writing.
Having made her way through the first five chapters, she had two main things to share:
1- She loved the story and cant wait to read more! ( Always a good thing!)
2 - She could spot almost immediately where I was forcing my writing. She said that the parts where my voice told the story were very evident and fun to read, but here and there there were what I later found to be connector pieces that interrupted a natural rhythm or broke the emotional connection with the reader. Very insightful stuff! Being a pantster I don't write chronologically so this is very important information for me to hear and take into consideration!
As much as we hate to hear criticism - this is the kind that works! It points out both good and bad, but most importantly, things that aren't working or carrying the story forward. After all, that is what we are - story tellers! By hearing these kind very objective critiques helps us get better at what we do and there by enjoy the process more.
I don't know if there is a way to harness my muse ( which makes me think of the term herding cats which is all the more funny because I call one of my cats my mooze ) and make her behave in a more accommodating, ladylike manner -- after all, she is part of me -- but by learning to recognise when she's taking a nap, or busy with something else, I should instead-- when practical -- join her rather than fight her so that when we wake up, energized, both of us will be on the same page -- and that is what it's all about, isn't it!
Visit my Novel page at

Monday, May 14, 2012

Magic, Intention, and the "Law of Return"

Ive been busy... really busy, and admittedly a bit overwhelmed. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity with my family, my work... and of course my craft.
In my novel, my character, Adrian, writes in a letter: "Its been said that once you set something in motion, nothing will stand between that intention and it's final conclusion. This became for me an abject lesson in be careful what you wish for."
In Adrian's tragic context, that lesson changes his life in a profound way. I'm happy to say that such mystical examples of cause and effect, don't have to be tragic!
Since my last post, I attended a writers conference where I met some of the most incredible and amazing people -- not just women -- and came away inspired way beyond my already vivid imagination! Being in the company of so many both unpublished and published ( in various mediums ) writers, hearing inspiring tales of challenges and successes gave me the fuel to take my obsession to the next level!
When you are on an uncertain (read - seemingly far fetched) journey, like the experience of trying to make sense of the voices in your head when they won't shut up unless you write their story, it's easy to question your sanity. It's even harder when people look at you like you are certifiable when you dare to state that you believe in your work and it's future success. Frankly, I stopped listening to the naysayers a LONG time ago and chose to surround myself with supportive friends of like mind.
I believe in cause and effect, statements of intention, and directing your energy toward the positive pursuit of what ever you believe in -- dare I say...Dreams!
These days, it seems like, no matter where I turn, at each and EVERY crossroad, just when I feel doubt peeking over my shoulder, a new person or resource appears to guide me to the next touchstone. I cannot deny the powerful sense of divine intervention that has been following me lately.After the last few years, it is a welcome change!
As I write this, I am in the process of assembling my manuscript package to send to two notable literary agents who recently requested my work. Yes... I said requested. ;0)
Do I think that those requests are a guarantee to success? Of course not! But I'm also not above believing in miracles.
As I bask in my glow of positive energy, I also want to see the other people around me find their own happiness and success. I believe that in sharing your good energy, you attract more for yourself and everyone around you... So, I humbly call on the "law of return" to cast my wishes for happiness and success to the heavens with the best of intentions and the belief in a power greater than myself!
Okay.. I'll get off my soapbox... for now!

Friday, April 20, 2012

One week to go before DESERT DREAMS!
 I am sitting here on my laptop in the midst of fine tuning a few parts of my manuscript for A Price Above Vengeance. ( I'm beginning to wonder,  are we ever really done? Probably not until I hand it over to the publisher!) I am also working on my "pitch". With my brain still spinning from finishing our taxes at the eleventh hour, I am now struggling to condense 100k words into about 40! Pretty tall order. But when I'm not sure I can  do something, I turn to my friends of like mind --  my writer friends and test readers.
My husband would joke and say I'll use any excuse to meet them for coffee or wine but truly it is the people in my inner circle that get me through the days when I doubt myself. Not sure if that is a writer thing or a woman thing, but I think we all have them. Friends are who we turn to when we need a leg up in life, a fresh perspective, and even a shoulder to cry on -- as well as being able and willing to do the same for them in their time of need -- and we all need it now and then!
I have been called a hopeless romantic, and not just because I write in the romance genre. I've even been accused of being jaded because I've been fortunate enough to be in love with the same man for the last 30 years ( married for almost 27!). Perhaps they are right, but it's important to remember that a good romantic story isn't just about the magic of falling in love and the HEA -- writer lingo for happily ever after. Its all of the in-between -- the cake under the icing  if you will-- even if it's not always as sweet as we would like. Those challenges define our strengths and reveal our weaknesses so that we can become stronger the next time the storm blows our way... and they always do.
In the process of today's edits, I am reminded that, as Adrian and Gwinn are in the midst of a serious confrontation, it is those difficult times that help to build the trust that is the foundation of any relationship -- whether romantic or platonic.
Ultimately it is the people we love that show us by their actions, commitment and of course... LOVE how valuable we are. They help us find and keep our objectivity so that we can (re) focus on the big picture, look back at how far we've come, and envision the brightest future possible.
Hopeless romantic or not, I think it is within each of us to create our own happily ever after by pursuing our Desert Dreams, no matter what they might be.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I've always believed that, in life, there are no accidents. Whether good or bad, even the truly aweful things we are dealt in life become part of who we are. They make us stronger, giving us the perspective we need to appreciate what we have,they restore our humanity and show us that, in spite of what we think when were in the midst of our grief, the world around us isn't a completely hopeless place.
Those close to me know all too well that the last few years have certainly challenged my personal belief in the goodness of the world around me. I still have moments when my mind goes back to the rage I felt at the string of injustices that fell upon my family and I till I was certain I would break. But, now, I have the strength to push back, to cast away the the need for vengeance and trust that the universe will take care of itself -- though maybe not as swiftly as I might like. I refuse to waste any more energy waiting for justice. That negativity no longer serves me, and if Im am honest with myself, it never did except to become catalyst to something altogether unexpected. This is the ultimate example of making lemons into lemonade.
Injustice. Vengeance. Belief. Trust. Though I didn't see it at the time, it is now, in hindsight, that I know without a doubt that those themes wove thmselves into my writing as a form of therapy that even Freud himself would be impressed with.
In this quote, he said: "Words have a magical power that can bring either the greatest joy or the deepest despair... Words are capable of arousing the strongest enotions and control all of man's actions."
In my writing, I found a voice for those emotions, bringing them to life within the characters that could do the things I never could;  by finding redemption, and in the end, seeing that justice is served even if only on the page. Sadly, in the real world, justice is a false precept --ultimately unattainable and unrealistic within our current culture. But I've made peace with that... for now.
Throughout this journey, there have been friends, both old and new, that have amazed me in their unwavering enthusiasm and support of what is important to me. Those are the people who inspire me every day to stay the course and live the best life I can.
In the last few months, I have had the pleasure and privilage of joining a group of writers that share my passion for the craft. They assure me that the voices in my head that distract me with their chatter and keep me up at night don't mean I'm crazy or delusional, becuase they hear them too. I have learned that they are just  part of the magic of writing fiction and that in listening to their story, I have discovered a part of myself that I never knew existed. For all of my friends -- including Adrian and Gwinn -- I am grateful.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Are Secrets?

Alice came to a fork in the road.

“Which road do I take?” She asked.

“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.

"I don’t know?" Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Since I was a small child, I have always identified with the ever curious Cheshire Cat.
Like some twisted archetype, that character epitomizes the ultimate observer - watching silently but  tempting us with that tantalizing glimmer in his eyes, holding tightly to his secrets, kindling our curiosity about what those secrets might be.
In old Sicily, they called it Omerta. The code of silence. Break that code and... well, you get the picture.
La Cosa Nostra certainly had their ways of enforcing that code, but what about the rest of us? I like to think that we live in a more civilized culture... but sometimes I wonder!
My definition falls more within the normal realm... Confidential. Shared only by the initiated. Containing information that, if disclosed, would pose a threat to ones self or others.
Human nature tells us that it is the "We want what we are denied" instinct that drives our curiosity and compels us to keep asking questions until we find what we seek.
In my day job, I hear all about other peoples secrets. Some scandalous, some irrelevant, few of which hold my attention for more than a few minutes before they are lost to the cacophony of my busy workplace. And of course, it would be unethical to disclose such confidential information.
It's been said that truth is stranger than fiction but, when I want to hear a juicy secret, I like to sink my teeth into a really good book.
I love a story with compelling - and usually hot - characters that drive my curiosity and make me desperate to know more. Where they live, what they look like. And a good imagination always paints a more vivid image than even nature can create - and that's half the fun!
But, the most compelling question for me is: what motivates them to do what they do?
Why do they have no conscience - or better yet - why are they tortured by it... or not?
What are those life changing dilemmas from the past that make someone who seemingly has everything to live for not want to live to see another day? You get the idea.
Gorgeous characters are all well and good - they capture or attention - but its the fatal flaws that make a good character - and therefore, a story - interesting to me. The ultimate dilemma - why do people do what they do?
Every book - even the electronic kind - has a cover that is designed to get our attention. Beautiful pictures, elegant graphics, dramatic colors make us curious enough to pick it up or click on it.
What lies behind the window dressing? The only way to find out is to read the book and discover their secrets.
But... if the secrets in the books you find no longer hold your attention, what do you do?
You let your imagination run amok and write your own!
And that is how I landed here!