Those Three Magical Words

blog napRecently someone said to me she had sex for three hours. As a romance writer my reaction should have been one of awe or amazement. In reality, I couldn’t think beyond several sarcastic responses.

I stared at her and wondered how a woman gets three, uninterrupted hours to do anything! I have to hide in the bathroom to get three minutes to myself. Even then, as soon as I’m out of sight, all hell breaks loose in my house. Everything could be calm and perfect and I swear the moment I sit on the toilet the most asinine things happen on the other side of the closed door.

Was that woman a witch and she cast a spell on everyone she knows to leave her alone? One thing I knew for sure, she wasn’t married with children because no wife likes her husband that much. And no mom can get away for that long.

Which brings me to my second thought…Three hours! Do you know what I could do with three hours? My whole life could change with three magical, uninterrupted hours.

I could take a nap.

I could watch two, maybe three episodes of a long list of television programs I have recorded.

I could match up all the socks with a mate.

I could finally do one of those deep conditioning treatments on my hair.

Shit, I could rule the world with three full hours of time.

Mostly I wondered what keeps a girl going for three hours. Yes, Yes… I write sexy scenes. I can give a few guesses. Maybe some clarification is needed. There are only three words in the English language that can get me excited for three hours…

Graham Cracker Crust

Where has all the fun gone?

IMG_9160Recently on a family camping trip my son asked if grown-ups stop having fun when they become adults. As I sat there by the campfire with a beer in my hand and eating chips and guacamole I thought fun was had by all. However, his question disturbed me. My husband looked at me curious of the answer too.

I told my son adults just have fun in different ways than kids. We outgrow certain things like jumping on rocks and wrestling in the dirt with our siblings.

Yet that didn’t seem like a complete and acceptable answer.

Do we stop having fun? Or does the meaning of fun change?

Certainly the meaning of fun changes, but does the new kind of ‘fun’ hold the same lighthearted joyfulness our childhoods brought? Is wandering an art museum, something I love to do, fun or enjoyable? I cannot admit that the two are always the same. But for my kids, the two are the same. They have two switches, fun and not-so-fun. Wandering the Louvre is not fun for my boys.

On that same camping trip we took a mighty bike ride. We rode up a mountain for a lifetime. It was tough work but very enjoyable. We stopped several times and laughed about silly things, took selfies, and admired the scenery. It was good family time and highly enjoyable.

The fun didn’t surface until we began the long downhill ride. That part of the ride was exhilarating and dare I say, fun! When we reached the bottom, we all admitted that the uphill trek was well worth it for the ride down.

I consider myself a ‘fun’ mom. I hike, swim, laugh, joke around, insert gads of sarcasm into our lives, ski, skate, bike, dance, travel, play games, and enjoy life. So how is it possible that looking at me my son wondered where all the fun went?

If I had answered him honestly I would have told him taking naps is fun. Drinking a fine wine is fun, but I don’t want him thinking drinking alcohol is fun; though we adults know it is. Laughing with my friends is fun. Road trips with my girlfriends is fun. Buying new shoes is fun. Finding the time to sit down and read a good book is fun.

Or wait…. Are all those things enjoyable?

Stifled by Love

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Stifled by Love

We all know the cliché, opposites attract. Maybe this is true. However, I’m constantly wondering if a relationship of opposites can survive.

Romance writers thrive on the success ability of two estranged individuals, opposite in every way, coming together and finding everlasting love. Heck, many of us have lived the classic saga of girl meets boy, boy is all wrong for girl, but girl and boy somehow cannot live without each other.

My concern is, how do boy and girl make it? How can their differences thrive instead of becoming stifled?

I believe the relationship can flourish if the differences are accepted and even celebrated. Let’s take a creative person married to an uptight person for example. Said creative person has always immersed herself in a community and career that centered on her free spirit and creativity. Her spouse however, cannot accept her creative outlets and constantly undermines her artistic nature. Undoubtedly, her spirit, no matter how committed or in love, would suffer from the lack of support and badgering negativity. Her choice for love would also be the very thing killing her.

This scenario is occurring in marriages and relationships every day. In my opinion, most people learn to accept the ruin of their creativity and end up losing sight of their dreams and true self. Hence, depriving the world of their creative gestures and work.

I am not stating opposites cannot cohabitate and flourish happily. I’m simply stressing the importance of ensuring you’re able to explore your individuality and special talents within your relationship. Stifling one aspect of a person hinders their growth and suffocates their voice.

 

Save The Reviews

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Let’s talk reviews. Reviews are by far the most coveted gift given by readers to indie authors. So what is this I hear about Amazon removing reviews? Yes, Amazon is on a quest to remove reviews that they feel are somehow misleading because the reviewer is in some way connected to the author.

I’ll be the first to admit, I have a few friends in my personal life I ask to read my books and review. But only a few, not enough to make an impact. Now that I think about it, none of them have gotten around to reading or reviewing my latest release.

Are their reviews biased? Well, I hope not, but it’s possible, after all, they will ask me to pick up little Johnny from soccer or feed their cats when they are out of town. Again, I express the low number of personal friends I have asked to read and review my books. Maybe I just don’t have as many friends as other authors? Maybe there are authors out there receiving 50 plus reviews from their bingo club or the PTA??? If that’s the case, are the offenders so countless that Amazon feels the need to police the review process?

Personally, I do not feel I’ve ever been misled by reviews. Oh, except that time critics gave the movie The Holiday terrible reviews. I absolutely loved that movie and I was close to skipping it because of the reviews.

I heard some musings that an author with a small multitude of five star reviews must be hocking reviews at the local Starbucks because no way could anyone like a book to the tune of 45 or more 5 star reviews. Could they? No really, could they? Well, I believe they can. There is such a thing as a ‘good book.’ Look it up Amazon peeps. If you are stuck, I can give you a few suggestions.

One aspect about being an indie author I was unaware of is the importance of making contacts through social media. Indie authors work tirelessly on social media to create connections, network, and make friends to gain supporters and readers. Through this process many folks become our friends and ‘pimp’ (yes that’s a book term) authors and the books they love. And yes, these pimps are considered friends. So will Amazon remove their reviews too?

I do worry about my precious reviews. I don’t want anything to happen to them. One thing that concerns me is the fact that I happen to love sugar-free strawberry gum. What if someone who reviews my books loves the same unique flavor of gum? Can Amazon find out? Will they accuse me of wagering for reviews at the grocery check-out? I sure hope not.

Please Amazon, leave my pretties alone.

My Fear No Longer Rules Me

thNWEB3RN3The dedication in my newest release mentions taking chances when fear is present. I’m certain most artists suffer the same fear I am experiencing; the fear of inadequacy and rejection. Logic speaks to me. Hell, logic has knocked me in the head. I know art is subjective and not everyone shares similar tastes. My fear is not very sophisticated and doesn’t carry over through many dimensions. No, my fear is simple. I fear that my fans will not like my second attempt to woo and entertain.

I think fear paralyzed my fingers for nearly a year. In fact, I know it took a giant leap of faith to feel the fear, and do it anyway. The initial leap was wholly the result of my friends and fans offering support and little nudges. I made a promise to tell a story and I had to follow through.

Putting on paper an entire new set of characters was a challenge. My first main characters were large and filled the space on the pages. Not all characters can perform the same. I was mostly concerned with the fact that I didn’t necessarily deliver the alpha everyone is expecting. I had to stay true to my vision of him and not the overwhelming dimension the romance world is demanding.

I pushed a boundary and showed a side of the newest craze that isn’t discussed. I spoke of a lifestyle and not a trend. I suggest that lifestyles ebb and flow with the characters involved and the circumstances they encounter. Even if etched in stone, over time, the elements of nature will encourage change.

As with any artist, my vision will be criticized and scrutinized, or at least I can hope I’m worthy enough of such musings. Though, as a hopeful person, I hold my breath to learn if my work is once again liked.

Nevertheless, by releasing my second book, my fear no longer rules me.

CreateSpace, Lightning Source, Ingram Sparks, Oh my! Why large box retailers won’t shelve my POD.

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Print On Demand is a popular way for indie authors to offer their books in print. This however, does not mean bookstores will shelve your book. Many authors do not understand, and often ask, why?

Let’s say an average large box book retailer carries 60,000 titles. Linear footage in a store is limited, so retailers work tirelessly to utilize space with books that sell. A store is in constant flux of managing underperforming titles.

I’m not saying indie books won’t sell. In fact many would sell.

An algorithm is created for each store. For example, let’s take a classic like Lord of the Flies. A store will carry X number of copies of Lord of the Flies based on sales. Once the number of books falls below the recommended quantity, the system will automatically reorder. Certain times of the year, a title like Lord of the Flies will sell beyond the recommended quantity, like for local summer reading programs, or a movie release. The store staff or home office staff will increase their order quantity for seasonal and market fluxes in sales. But they know, with a strong title, they will sell through their stock at some point.

Forecasting sales for new releases is more challenging. If a misjudgment in the forecast occurs, the store can return the overstock of titles back to the publisher after the preliminary release period.

If both bookstores and publishers have improperly forecasted sales for a title, then the publisher may approve of a discount at store level to move the title. Otherwise the publisher would get inundated with returned copies of the book, and then have to sell it to a discount retailer, or mark it down to a bargain title and send it back out.

Still, indie authors wonder what all this has to do with their titles? The main factor in this process is that the books are returnable to the publisher so the bookstore does not have to take a hit on their margin profit by discounting the book. Print on Demand books are not returnable to the distributor or publisher, hence offering higher risk. Once a bookstore puts that book on their shelf, they own it forever. If the book underperforms, the store takes a loss.

There are ways around this for special events such as local book signings, but for the most part, large retailers will not stock Print on Demand books.

This is not necessarily the case for indie bookstores or your local bookstore. Some bookstores will shelve Print on Demand books because local demand is high. Many may also work with the author or publisher on consignment.

Some Print on Demand publishers, like Ingram Sparks, use Ingram for distribution. This means your POD can be ordered through major book retailers’ sites. This does not mean your local Barnes & Noble will shelve your book.

Trust me, as an indie author, this news is disappointing to me too.

However, more and more readers are shopping digitally for their books and offering your title in multiple formats through multiple retailers is good sense for self-promotion.

POV or Head-Hopping in Romance Novels

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I’m from the school with the belief that head-hopping is a weakness in writing. A good writer should achieve character depth and complexity with a single POV. Especially in romance writing, authors are head-hopping more and more. Some authors even write entire novels to demonstrate multiple POVs.

I must admit, my stringent idea about POV has slowly changed. Though, I don’t believe I will ever be a fan of publishing consecutive novels in different POVs.

In my first book, Without End, I head-hopped in the last several chapters. The dastardly short-cut, as I always thought, fit well when the original character couldn’t narrate for herself. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. Readers enjoyed getting inside the head of the male character. Do I think they fell deeper in love with him? No, not necessarily. I do believe my readers built a greater appreciation for his struggles and embraced his drive to let go of the past and surge forward. Maybe some readers felt a stronger bond between the hero and heroine.

One belief I strongly accept, is the fact that book boyfriends are more popular now than they’ve ever been. Authors take immense care choosing muses and models for their covers. Book boyfriends drive sales, and it’s likely, fans love to hear directly from them. So maybe a little head-hopping is good?

My current WIP includes head-hopping. I’m growing as a writer and I need the little-added push to build my characters. Early in the writing process for Without Words, I asked some friends their opinions about multiple POVs. I didn’t receive a negative response from anyone.

Admittedly, BB Bartholomew steps up and gives readers his narrative early on in the book. He makes several appearances. The result? Readers get a firsthand glimpse of his struggles and personal growth. Through the use of head-hopping, we get to see an authentic and raw quality that would have otherwise been lost.

My point? What’s old can become new and vice versa. In the world of writing and publishing, it seems the rules are in constant flux, and readers’ tastes could care less about stuffy rules.  I will continue to open my mind and try new techniques.

I’m Changing My Name From MOM to DAD

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I swear there is a radar installed in my ass that sounds an alarm whenever I’m out of sight from my kids. In fact, the pitch is detectable by dogs and children, exclusively.

At birth my sons had small, indiscernible sensors, imbedded somewhere under their skin. And thanks to my great luck, they were updated with the deluxe sensor that has a location sensitivity setting, designed to send a pulse of panic through their bodies whenever I’m using the toilet or taking a shower.

However, my husband was, ever so fortunately, excluded from the radar enhancement. I can walk out of the room and within moments, my kids will holler for me, even when their dad is a foot away. The lucky bastard is totally oblivious and immune from the absurdity. Besides the fact that he has positioned himself as the most incapable human on the planet, to avoid anyone asking him to make a damn grilled cheese sandwich.

We recently went camping and one afternoon we were outside enjoying the view, watching the sun set, building a fire etc… I walked into our camper to use the bathroom and before my ass hit the toilet seat, my kids were in the camper frantically yelling my name as though I’d gone missing for hours. They suddenly, had to have snacks and drinks, which of course they could not find.

I’m beginning to believe my husband sends them after me. Maybe he too, has the separation fear?

And at home, I can be in the kitchen cooking, feeding them, and doing dishes for an hour. Then, the minute I sit down, they will ask for something. Who does that? They even have the nerve to act as though it’s the end of the world if I don’t respond immediately.

Well, this mom is too smart for this abuse. This is the twenty-first century, we can land space probes on comets for God’s sake! Certainly there is a device to override the ass radar. Until I find it, I’m changing my name to Dad.

Multi-tasking Men, Myth or Reality?

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It’s a matter of opinion, the true capabilities of men to multi-task. My husband once said to me, “You’re asking me to do a thousand things.” No, I was asking him to complete two tasks. Hardly a thousand.

Shortly after my first son was born, I went back to work. I held long hours and often had to work overnight for merchandising or inventory. Once, during an overnight at work, I had to leave my son with his dad. I believe he was around 6 months old at the time. When I got home in the morning, I darted to my son’s room. He was awake and cooing at the ceiling. I picked him up to find, no diaper. The diaper was so heavy and full of urine that it remained in the crib, like a concrete block.

My husband’s excuse was that the diaper wasn’t full yet, when our son fell asleep the night before. Oh yes, why change a less than full diaper, when you can leave it on, and the diaper will remove itself? Seemed logical… to a man.

The next great discovery occurred when I went to give my son a bottle. He choked and I noticed a lot of milk was pouring through the bottle’s nipple. After careful examination, I discovered that the nipple opening was cut and enlarged. The brilliant excuse for the gaping hole in the bottle was that my husband added our son’s cereal to the bottle, shook, and fed. I still cringe at the thought of our baby trying to suck the cereal through the bottle, before he enlarged the hole. Likely, the effort caused some sort of permanent damage or herniated his balls.

I can get my two sons fed, ready, geared up, and out the door in time for games on Saturday. I’m even capable of packing snacks and brewing fresh coffee for our to-go cups. Not to mention, organizing all the sporting equipment. The truly shocking fact is that, I can do all this in under an hour.

Meanwhile, my husband and sons are God knows where, doing God know what. They can barely get themselves in the car before I rupture an artery screaming like a wild banshee. Then, when we are finally on our way, they act exhausted, as though they’ve had a stressful morning.

Don’t get me wrong. They help. I can ask them to do anything and they will do it. But it must be one request at a time, task, by painfully slow, task. Sometimes it’s more taxing to call orders like I’m a waitress at The Waffle House, than to just do it all myself. And I don’t even get a waffle when it’s all over!

So I ask, are they only capable of hearing one thing at a time? Are they really unable to follow through with 3 or 4 things at once? Or are they just doing it to create an illusion of helplessness?

I often wonder.

In their defense (and you know I’m talking about all men, husbands, sons, brothers etc…because hell, at this point, let me just group them together), I do believe they have a way of simplifying tasks and making work less arduous. Skipping the diaper changing and poking holes in the bottle are proof of that fact.

The baby and husband survived. Though, it was unfortunately, early training that likely stuck. Like father, like son.th (2)