Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

September 13, 2013

Dave & Melinda, Musings

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Friday13I’ve never liked the number 13.

And I’m not alone. According to Wikipedia, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., estimates that 17 to 21 million Americans are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history.

“Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed.”

I’m not THAT bad. But I am superstitious enough to avoid the number 13 whenever possible. At work, our computer system used to create a new version of a page every time you hit “save.” I’d keep close watch on that number, and when it hit “13,” I’d hurry up and do something else — even something as small as add a space to something — and save again. I was secretly convinced my computer would freeze up if I tried to work in the 13th version.

Same thing with photos. When I adjust them in Photoshop, I never set the brightness/contrast level at 13, for fear it’ll crash my computer. (Our system is old and slow, and has gone down for less.)

I secretly do a happy dance when a high-rise building doesn’t have a 13th floor. (I hate elevators enough without having to stare at a “13” button during the ride — unless they’re glass elevators. Strangely enough, those I handle much more easily. Maybe it’s because they feel airier?)

With my aversion to the number 13, you can imagine how thrilled I was when the calendar turned the page to 2013. I feared I was in for an entire year of terrible luck.

Now that nearly nine months of 2013 are in the can, I might have to change my tune.

Why? ’13 is turning out to be my lucky year — at least on the publishing front.


I made this Instaframe photo to commemorate the day I signed my first publishing contract.

I made this Instaframe photo to commemorate the day I signed my first publishing contract.

I’ve sold not one but three manuscripts, and will make my Turquoise Morning Press debut with DIVA IN THE DUGOUT the week of Oct. 15.

Sounds like triskaidekaphobia will have to join the dislike/distrust of black cats in my book of superstitions debunked. The photo above is of my baby, Destiny, who crosses my path all the time and hasn’t brought me any bad luck. (In fact, she was the inspiration for both Bree and Mike’s cats in OVEREXPOSED.) Don’t ask my why she looks stoned in that picture. I snapped it just last night, and she had no access to catnip.

For more about superstitions, check out today’s post at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.

And come back tomorrow for a My Sexy Saturday post featuring my most superstitious heroine, Erin Mannering, and her hero, Brad Kingston, who — please forgive me — puts the “stud” in social studies.

September 3, 2013



The power of love is a curious thing.

Make a one man weep, make another man sing …

— Huey Lewis and the News, “The Power of Love”

Like my man Huey, I believe in the power of love. That particular song was in the movie “Back to the Future,” but I remember being in the sixth grade and listening to Sports on cassette tape … on an endless loop. “I Want a New Drug,” “The Heart of Rock N Roll,” “If This Is It,” “Walking on a Thin Line,” “Bad is Bad” … They all bring back memories.

Thanks to YouTube, I just spent a good 15 minutes strolling down memory lane. Huey sure was good-looking, in that overconfident ’80s rock star kinda way.

Ahem. You might say I learned a lot about love from that album. Or not. I wouldn’t have a chance to put any of that knowledge into practice for years.

The power of love is strong. But the power of laughter is just as important. It lifts your mood, helps relieve stress and might even help you heal. Some experts say “laughter is the best medicine.”

Put love and laughter together and you have a combo that will win every time.

BizCardBackBorgeIt’s why I write stories with characters who don’t take themselves — or life — all that seriously. Sharing a laugh can bring couples closer together, help them smooth over differences, diffuse tension and put things in perspective. (I’m not the only one who feels that way: This article I’ve bookmarked for future reference talks at length about fixing relationship problems with humor.)

Many famous folks have said great things about laughter. I borrowed these from a list of laughter quotes compiled on Goodreads. They spoke to me — so much that I hope to put them on the backs of my next business cards.

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”

— Maya Angelou

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”

Mark Twain

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.”

Billy Joel

“Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.”

George Gordon, Lord Byron

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

Victor Borge

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”

Michael Pritchard

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

Charlie Chaplin

I just need to decide which look I should go with:

BizCardBackAngelouBizCardBackJoel BizCardBackByronBizCardBackChaplinDo you like the colored background or white? If I use the colored one, should I go with the top-bottom gradient (like in the turquoise card) or the left-right (like in the blue)?

I’m leaning toward the white background. It’s clean, simple and matches the logo.

I think I like the embossed look of the top two, though, with the words that appear to be jumping off the page.

Like I said on Facebook, I know just enough about Photoshop to be dangerous. I can do basic designs, but anything elaborate like a book cover or web design is better left to experts like Rogenna and Larissa.

So hard to make up my mind. Do you have a preference? Weigh in in the comments, please.

August 5, 2013


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reader-badge-2-pinkI was a reader of romances long before I started writing them.

I remember plowing through the stacks of Harlequin and Silhouette books Mom would bring home from the library, secured with a rubber band. (Apparently, the library thought bundles were more appealing.) My couch potato self spent many a lazy Saturday devouring two or three category-length titles in one sitting.

As I got older, the romance reading continued. With each book I finished, so did the conviction that I needed to be writing romance. I’d close a book and think, “I could write that. I could write something better than that.”

Ah, the overconfidence of the uneducated. Turns out that writing one — a good one, at least — is much harder than it looked.

But once I started trying, I never looked back. I moved from Indiana to Arizona in 1999, and in 2001 won a radio station’s “dinner with a romance writer” contest. That’s when I met Rita Rainville, then a member of  NARWA. I started attending the group’s meetings, joined RWA and discovered just how much I had to learn about writing romance.

Finally, in 2011, I snagged the coveted title of Golden Heart finalist … a sure sign I was mastering the craft. I was on the verge of the big payoff — publication. Still, it eluded me until this year.

Nowadays, it seems that I spend most of my free time writing romance instead of reading it. Whenever I get a few minutes not consumed by the dreaded day job, I feel the need to devote it to writing.

But August is National Read-A-Romance Month, not Write-A-Romance Month. That begs the question: “Why do I read romance?”

When I started reading them in middle school, I most likely read as a way to pass time. There’s not much to do in rural Indiana. I’m sure I also read for the sex ed. So much more fun — and informative — than health class. (Am I the only one who wondered what the guys were learning when they were sent to another room while we girls watched the same damn menstruation movie three years running?)

Of course, I could have passed time reading any kind of book. And did. I read a lot of Stephen King as a high school freshman. Then, my sophomore year, I discovered Anne Rice and devoured everything of hers I could get my hands on.

Still, I kept going back to romance. Those are the stories that draw me in and leave me satisfied. I’m not happy unless the characters get the ending they deserve. That’s one thing that drove me crazy when I read Gone Girl. The book was a real page-turner, but no one got what was coming to them in that book. (Link takes you to my weight-loss blog.)

Romance offers that happy ending. It allows the characters the happily-ever-after ending they need. I’d much rather see folks I’ve come to know and love get what they deserve.

Kristan Higgins, one of my favorite writers, put it much more succinctly in her post Monday. We read romance for the hope.

Most people in life don’t transform, don’t have a clearly delineated character arc that blossoms in the space of a few weeks or months as the outer goal is accomplished. That’s what makes a romance novel so gratifying, and uplifting…and hopeful. They did it. They’re our role models, and it doesn’t matter if they’re fictional, so long as they walk the walk of someone who was stuck, and afraid to try something different, and risked it all for love…and triumphed.

Do yourself a favor and read her entire post. It’s excellent — and just another reason to love Kristan.

I still remember the few minutes we chatted in the elevator at RWA Nationals in NYC in 2011. Me, a nervous first-time conference attendee, wearing my GH finalist ribbon and completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. Her, lovely and gracious and …

Okay, I mostly remember that we were staying on the same floor. I told her I loved her books. We commiserated over how the experts said rom-com is dead and declared we actually wrote funny contemporary romance … or something like that.

Long live the funny contemporary! And long live romance. May it continue to offer everything readers need.

July 26, 2013



You’ve probably heard the saying “Drummers do it with rhythm” — or some variation thereof. A quick search of Google revealed “Geologists do it in the dirt,” “Writers do it until their hands cramp” T-shirts and other products emblazoned with “Ham radio operators do it with frequency” and “editors do it with style.”

I’d like to add one to the list: Romance writers do it in fabulous shoes.

I didn’t go to RWA Nationals last week, but I saw plenty of pictures — and great shoes figured in many of them. Bestselling author Cherry Adair and Fellow Starcatcher (the 2011 Golden Heart class) Kimberly Kincaid are known for fabulous footwear. And just ask any of the Rubies about their shoe collections.

Naturally, when I prepped to have my official author photo taken this week, I had to dig out my own pair.

Gorgeous, right? The Boyfriend sure likes them … even if they make me taller than him.

Problem is, I can’t walk in the darn things.

I’m tall — 5 feet, 10 inches — so in heels I top 6 feet. And I’ve never liked being taller than all the girls and most guys in a room.

Consequently, I’ve never bothered to learn how to walk in high heels. I live in sneakers and flats.

It’s not that I don’t love pretty shoes, because I do. I have countless pairs of sandals and boots in my closet, in pretty  much every color of the rainbow.

And I can drool over Manolos with the best shoe horses in the stable … although I doubt I’d ever drop that much cash on anything that didn’t come with an electrical cord. Gadgets are allowed to cost most of a paycheck, not shoes.

On the rare occasions I do wear heels, my ankles wobble like a kid playing dress-up with Grandma’s clothes. Worse, I live in constant fear of falling flat on my face, breaking an ankle and/or exposing my underwear to the world.

Thank goodness none of those misfortunes befell me Tuesday. Maybe that’s because I actually wore flip-flops to our photo spot, then changed into the pumps when it came time to take the pictures. When we traipsed across the parking lot to a different location, on went the flip-flops again.

Now that I’m on the verge of — cough — romance superstardom, I probably ought to start practicing walking in sky-high heels. (Save the cards and letters. I know selling one manuscript does not a superstar make … but a girl can dream.)

My feet in their natural habitat. High heels need not apply.

My feet in their natural habitat. High heels need not apply.

Or maybe I can start a new trend. I hear Bedazzled flip-flops are all the rage … somewhere. Out there. At least in the unexplored corners of my mind.

Who’s with me?

Vive la comfy footwear revolution!