Summer is Coming

It’s Friday morning. Early.

Not long ago, at this time of day, the sun would still be sleeping and my house would be quiet and dark. Not any more. The sun rises before me these days. And somehow that changes the energy of my day. My morning writing time feels more rushed, as though any minute a little one will wander downstairs all sleepy and grouchy at having to get ready for school. In truth, I have almost an hour before I should expect any significant interruptions.

But I am still distracted.

After today, there will be only two more weeks of school left and then the energy of our whole household will change. Everyone (except me) will sleep in a little later and wake up knowing there is absolutely nothing they need to get ready for. My DH, also a full-time student, finished his last final exam of the semester on Tuesday. Very soon his days will be spent out in the back yard, keeping an eye on the kids, and soaking up the summer sunshine and blue skies. Oh, and potty training our youngest. It won’t be much longer until we are diaper free!

My routine, however, remains the same. Get up early. Write. Go to work. Come home. Try to enjoy as much of the nice weather as possible. Still, it feels different. Hibernation season is over up here in the Northwoods. Late spring (because early spring is still just to cold) and summer are for getting out and about, seeing friends, going to concerts in the park, taking long walks with the kids and short jaunts to West Side Tasty Treat for ice cream after dinner. Summer is for late nights by the campfire or movie nights on the big projection screen my DH made for outside.

A bit more difficult to remember is that it’s also a time for writing.

I am about a third of the way into the first draft of book three in a series scheduled to release next year. I am so excited about this series and with the first two books already turned in to my editor, this last one will carry me through the summer and fall. The heroine in this third book is a feisty little thing who demands adventure and simply will not allow me to leave her dawdling for any length of time, which is a good thing with all these summer distractions.

Which reminds me…I had better get back to her before I hear little feet padding down the stairs.

Here’s to the long days of summer.

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Movie night in the back yard.

An Anniversary, a Poem, and a GIVEAWAY

September is the month of my wedding anniversary. This month, my husband and I will have been married for three years though we have been together for almost 14 and a half.
Anyone who has read my earliest posts on this blog, may recall that my life as a writer began with sappy adolescent poetry (no, I will not subject you all to any of my attempts). As I gear up to celebrate my marriage to a man I love more and more every day, I have decided to revisit my writing roots. Poetry was what first made me fall in love with the written word and love poetry specifically has a way of capturing the depth and breadth of emotion possible in the human experience.
So…in the spirit of love and romance, I am posting one of my favorite love poems.
(Keep your eyes peeled after the poem for information on how to enter for a GIVEAWAY!)

UNENDING LOVE

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times,
In life after life, in age after age forever.
My spell-bound heart has made and re-made the necklace of songs
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms
In life after life, in age after age forever.
Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together,
As Istare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.
You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount
At the heart of time love of one for another.
We have played alongside millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell–
Old love, but in shapes that renew and renew forever.
Today it is heaped at your feet, it had found its end in you,
The love of a man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life,
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours–
And the songs of every poet past and forever.
BABINDRANATH TAGORE – Indian 1861-1941

Do you have a favorite love poem? 
Post a comment here for a chance to win a print copy of Reckless Viscount. Winner will be chosen September 17th via random.org.
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RECKLESS VISCOUNT

When this scoundrel abducts an innocent it’s his heart in danger of being stolen.

London society sees Leif Riley, Viscount Neville, as a reckless charmer of wealthy women. No one sees his silent desperation to restore his impoverished ancestral holdings to their once-formidable glory.

When he spies a fresh-faced Irish lass at court, something beyond her slim, feminine form and hefty dowry quickens his pulse. Which only makes the truth—that a love match will never be his—too much to bear.

Pursued across the Irish Sea by a secret that could shatter her dream of a loving husband and children to cherish, Abbigael Granger has no time for handsome rakes. Yet she can’t deny how Leif’s stolen kiss illuminates her innocent body.

Awakening from a despair-driven binge, Leif is horrified to find that his impulsive abduction of Abbigael was no drunken dream. Yet while Abbigael discovers there are certain pleasures to be found in a rake’s marriage bed, Leif wonders if he can ever leave his scandalous past far enough behind to be the man of her dreams. Or if he deserves the heart she offers.

Warning: Contains a sexy Viscount skilled in the twin arts of lovemaking and seduction, a fair Irish innocent desperate to break free from the misery of her past and rumors of madness. A hasty abduction involving silk stockings, a skull-splitting hangover, and a roadside inn interlude could steal your breath.

 

Don’t forget to comment for your chance to win!!

 

Beautiful Dreamer

Several years ago when I decided it was time to make a serious go of this writing thing, one of my first tasks was to create time designated for this purpose. At the time, my oldest was just a toddler and I was expecting my second child. For a while I would try to sneak in an hour or so of writing in the early evening after I got home from work and before dinner. But this time of day was when I most wanted to reconnect with my family. Besides, my creativity was strongest first thing in the morning. So, my husband, wonderful man that he is, agreed to take on the morning parenting tasks on his own. This entails getting the kids up, dressed, fed, ready and out the door to school/daycare, giving me a couple hours to write before I have to get myself off to work.

This has been our daily pattern now for probably five years or so. I go into my office when the house is still dark and quiet. I do not have to close the door (most days) and I love it when each of my kids come to me for a morning hug and kiss before they go about getting ready for their day. Though my oldest daughter is starting to get away from that habit, my son still stumbles in with his eyes sleepy and his hugs warm and of course, there is my youngest… the little giggling monster who runs in to show me her dolly and lifts her arms to be pulled into my lap for a long squeeze before daddy gets her dressed.

Some days it is difficult to stay at the computer while the kids are starting their day. I try hard not to get drawn in by the drama of homework that isn’t done yet, socks that don’t fit right, missing gloves, or the dreaded cry “we’re out of cereal!” And no matter how much their daddy does for them every morning, there are some things they just have to come to mommy for. The interruptions are expected and I have learned how to shift my focus from my work to the kids then back again without too much disruption to the writing flow. But then there are days when the words are stuck in a jerky pattern and I can’t seem to get my thoughts to flow. On those days, I might have to close (and sometimes lock) my office door.

Every day I do this. Every day. Weekends too. I set my alarm and get up before everyone else to sit at my computer. Of course there are occasional exceptions that require I leave my little room and assist with the morning rituals. And it is always difficult around the holidays for some reason. But every day it is my intention to get up and get to work while the kids are corralled by their dad.  And sometimes, I feel a mother’s guilt for insisting to my family that my writing time is important…for giving my kids that morning kiss and hug and then gently shooing them from the room. I do my best to balance this out by being as fully present and available as possible in the evening hours when we all congregate back at home after work and school, but some days, it is still hard.

I hope that by committing to this practice of writing and staying the course I am demonstrating something valuable to my children. It has long been my dream to be an author, but it was not until I put in the necessary work and dedication that the dream started to come to fruition. This is what I hope my kids are learning as they find me at my computer every morning…that it is very often not enough to simply want something. If it is important to you…if it is your dream…you have to make it happen. You have to put in the time, the commitment, the effort and the occasional heartache to reach your goals. And if you do, no matter how lofty it may be, any dream is attainable. Anything at all is possible if you believe you are capable of making it happen.

My oldest daughter, a nine-year-old who is practically obsessed with animals of all kinds, has decided she would like to be a veterinarian when she grows up. A few weeks ago, she asked me what she could do now to start working toward this goal.

I don’t know if her inspiration to put forth this effort has anything at all to do with being a witness to my determination in making my dream come true. But I do know we are now volunteering at our local Humane Society so she can begin to learn what it takes to care for so many animals. If it gets her that much closer to achieving her own beautiful dreams, than it is well worth it.

 

Taylor’s Book Review – Warriors Series

Last year my daughter, Taylor (now 8 yrs old), began reading the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. Since that very first book, she has been a zealous and dedicated fan. She in now in the Power of Three series, which means she has read approximately 18 books, including a couple Mangas and a field guide. She has also introduced several other readers to the series, myself included, and has been a primary instigator in recreating the cat warrior’s world with several schoolmates during recess.

This review is based on her readings within the series to date. The questions are mine. The answers (and spelling) are all Taylor!

What book are you currently reading?

Power of Three, Book 3: Outcast

At this point in reading this multi-series collection, which character is your ultimate favorite?

Bluestar

Why?

Because Bluestar is kind and gentle and she was very gentle to Firestar when she was alive. (I really miss her.)

Is there a cat that you identify with more than others? (Which cat are you most like?)

Fireheart

Why?

Because Fireheart is compassionate and cares about other cats. If one gets hurt he makes shure they are okey even if they snap back at him just like me.

You have been known to act out the Warriors story lines. What is it about these stories that make it so fun to recreate?

Well, it is hard to explain, but making my own storie just sounds interesting.

Why do you think Warriors is so popular with kids and adults?

Well, other people might have other opinions but I like Warriors spicificly because I like that [it] has action and it is so detailed of what is happening.

If there was anything you could change about this series, what would it be?

Well for one thing I hate waiting till the next chapter to find out what happens so I would change that a little.

Please finish by telling us your Warrior name and clan.

I am Rockhead of RiverClan.

Thank you, Taylor!

Visit the Warriors website here:

http://www.warriorcats.com/warriorshell.html

Something New

I write Historical Romance. It is the sub-genre I most love to read and when inspiration strikes, it almost always leads me back in time. However, that is not to say that sometimes my imagination doesn’t take a little detour through more contemporary time zones. In my mass array of story ideas, I have a few snippets of scenes or characterizations that are firmly rooted in the present. One of these, I have recently encountered an opportunity to explore.

My local group of WisRWA members meets monthly to talk about writerly stuff. At a meeting a couple months ago, an idea sparked amongst our group to create an anthology. The plan is for each of us to write a short story in our own preferred romance sub-genre and put them all together in a collection. The stories would all have a common thread linking them together, but otherwise would be independent of each other.

What a perfect setting for me to try my hand at a contemporary story! Well, to be entirely truthful, my story is slightly historical. I have set it in the mid-90s when grunge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam ruled the airways and flannel filled the dance clubs.

I was a little tentative at first to start. Writing contemporary romance is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but that is exactly why I wanted to try it. It is time to stretch my writing muscles and expand my imagination a bit. And I must say that though I have just started on this little side project, it has been extremely satisfying… and nostalgic. How fun to delve into my own memories of that time and bring them to life. The gritty music, the bohemian attitude, the underground energy of Generation X. Love it!

And in case anyone is wondering… I also continue to work on my novel length WIP, a follow up to Rogue Countess (July 2012) and Reckless Viscount (coming soon).

Happy Writing!

My Little Pumpkin Seed

I find it hard to believe that it has been nearly 3 months since my last post, but the truth is undeniable.

Bad blogger!

My only excuse is that I have been writing. A lot. Which is a very good thing and my main objective after all. Reckless Viscount, the follow up to Rogue Countess, is deep into the editing process with my publisher and I have gotten a great start on my current WIP (working title: Rebel Marquess).

How have I gotten so much writing done?

Well my youngest daughter, who is now all of 5 and half months, did not adjust very well to daylight savings and for several weeks was wide awake and playful as early as 3:30 a.m.! Typically, I am grateful to get a solid hour of writing done in the mornings before having to head off to my “other” job. But during this period of adjustment, I found myself with a couple extra hours in front of the computer while baby girl shrieked happily at her toys. It took a while to get  used to rising so early, but how wonderful it was to feel so productive!

As the weeks went by, my little pumpkin seed shifted back to her usual schedule of waking up closer to 5:00 am so I have lost those extra hours. And now there is the hectic energy of the holiday season which tends to drag me out of my motivation to write. Needless to say, I have slowed down significantly in the last month … and I no longer have a good reason to ignore the fact that I have not visited this blog in far too long.

I think I will include in my New Year’s writing resolutions the intention to be a more prolific blogger.

Wish me luck!

noisy girl in the morning

noisy girl in the morning

*GIVEAWAY!* A New Anniversary Tradition

This past weekend, my DH and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Though married only a year, we have been together for more than 12. We have the house and three kids, the dog and the perspective of a couple that has already made it through times difficult enough to test our devotion to each other and we came out stronger on the other side.

Now, I could not say that we are a traditional sort of couple. (I did not wear white at my wedding *gasp*). But I do like incorporating certain traditions into my life. So when I found a list of the traditional wedding anniversary gifts listed by year I had to call my husband to clue him in to the fact that the traditional gift for the first anniversary is paper.

“So you want a ream of paper?”

No, dear. Paper just needs to somehow be an element of the gift. You need to get more creative than that.

“How about a card? It’s paper.”

Grrr.

So the day of our anniversary arrived and my DH came to me and asked if we were going to exchange gifts that day.

Uh. Duh.

Well, he hadn’t gone shopping yet. And… neither had I.

And this is a good example of how we tend to handle gift-giving between us. Last minute, “hey, whadya want?”, hand off in the shopping bag. Not for this, I declared. For our anniversary, if nothing else, we were going to set a tradition of putting some actual thought and effort into our gifts for each other. Why not use the list of traditional anniversary gifts as a guide, then find a way to make it meaningful? Some years one of us might come up with an elaborate gift while the other one settles for something functional. But over time, the hope is that it would even out. We even jokingly decided to award a token prize to the one who manages to pull off the best gift that year.

He went shopping first, and when he got home, I could tell by the self-satisfied smirk on his lips that he had done a good job. This made me a little nervous. I already had a plan on what I was going to get him; a large portfolio for his artwork and varying sizes of black paper (he has gotten into drawing white on black lately). Typically, my gift would easily have won out, but my DH finally outdid himself and me!

First of all, he had wrapped my gift in white paper and on the paper he drew a picture of our wedding rings. Encircling the wrapping was a swath of blue ribbon (the color of my wedding dress) made of silk.

Silk, he explained, was the traditional gift for 12 years.

What?!

Okay, I was willing to concede right at that moment. I didn’t even feel a need to open the gift when the wrapping itself was so thoughtful and romantic. He won.

But he did make me open the gift and … it was a Kindle Fire HD!

Now, I have been resisting getting an e-reader for a long time. I am one of those purists, I guess, who loves having a physical book in my hands. It is definitely something that I would never buy for myself, even though I had been imagining what it would be like to have hundreds of books at my fingertips.

And he knew that.

So, my DH won The Beet (the anniversary gift trophy) this year. Hands down!

Hmmm… the 2 year gift is cotton. That could be a tough one. I had better start thinking…

*** What are some of your romantic traditions?  

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free download of my debut novel, Rogue Countess.

Winner will be drawn September 29th using random.org.