Good to be Alive

Posted on 03/4/16

I got hooked on this song leading up to the Oscars. It played with every commercial and damn the thing, it’s so catchy that when I heard the whole song (somewhere?!), I grabbed the title and downloaded it. Now I can’t get it out of my head, but then again, it’s Friday so yeah, it feels good to be alive right about now. Ask me on Monday and you’ll get a different answer, I assure you. At least this weekend I’m busy but it’s a good busy. Mythbusters finale on Saturday (sniff!), and Downton Abbey finale on Sunday (sob!). Lucky for me I just got hooked on Dollhouse. Thank you, Joss Whedon, for making me not want to get off the elliptical. No other human has that power, and I’m only on the first episode.

What makes you feel good to be alive? It doesn’t have to be Friday. Maybe you like Mondays. (You’re sick. JK…mostly.) Ice cream. Cat videos. Teddy bears. Hot men. That last one works for me, so if you have one to share, please do. I need the inspiration. :)




My best year

Posted on 02/17/16

I needed to see this today. It’s one of those “a picture is worth a thousand words of BS” days, so the timing is great. best kind of people




In the wee small hours…

Posted on 12/6/15

Much as it pains me to get older, once in a while I like to stop and look at the changes that have happened in my life. Sometimes you don’t realize things are changing but change happens whether you like it or not. Might as well embrace it for an adventure and roll with the tide.

Just this morning I got the email from my publisher with the draft cover art for my next book (my first with them; <3 you, Loose Id!), which also happens to be my Golden Heart finalist. The cover is fantastic and it nails the characters, though granted, I might’ve liked to see his tux collar open a little, but that’s just me. Ever wonder why men look better fully dressed and women are the exact opposite?

This time last year I was stressed out by my day job and, in every spare moment, writing my happy hands off to get my Golden Heart entry finished so I could enter the contest. This year I’m completely relaxed because I have a much better job that’s allowing me to take the last week of the year off, so I’m taking my kids up to NY to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and do some sightseeing in the city where we were all born. I haven’t had New Years Eve off in fourteen years so this will take some adjusting but I’m sure we’ll manage. ::wink wink::

But this year I’m not eligible for the Golden Heart because I took the plunge and self-published Heated Competition, followed by Tall Shadows. I’ve entered both in the Rita contest (RWA’s contest for published authors; still boggles my mind to think I AM one) and while I don’t expect them to have a ghost of a chance, I’m in it because I can’t imagine finalist day coming around and I don’t have a pony in the race.

There’s a certain calmness to it now. Getting ready for the Golden Heart was a panic because the manuscript needed to be finished and the first 50 pages polished to a fine sheen, if not outright glowing. (It was in GH prep that I became familiar with the term “polishing a turd.”) But with the Rita, the book is finished; it’s just a matter of going to the post office to mail the copies down to Houston. I’m even thinking, in looking at the cover for Indulge My Fantasy, how I’m going to enter it in the 2017 Rita because it has a 2016 pub date, as does its follow up, Save the Best for Last.

But that still feels odd. The book is done. I’m not frantically trying to piece together the last of the plot or even figure out the next few scenes because they’re done; it’s all been written. I’m not in a panic over the manuscripts (because they’re books) and I’m not in a panic over my job (because that was my old job). All this not panicking makes me feel like I’ve forgotten something. But maybe it just means my life has gotten better. Things are behind me but good things are coming.

Like Indulge My Fantasy, which releases January 5, 2016. (See what I did there?) Also a certain someone’s birthday, the irony of which isn’t lost on me. I’m trying to work up the courage to send him a copy. I mean, after all, he inspired the hero. Read it and tell me if you think you know who I have in mind.




It Never Stops

Posted on 08/30/15

I had a “come to Jesus” moment last night, but as always, it was a good thing. I reached the conclusion that I’m happiest when I’m writing. Something in the act of writing: new story, new words; editing; reading; fine-tuning. You name it, so long as there’s a story in front of me, I’m happy. I’m my best version of me when I’m writing.

This creates a small conflict in that I still need a day job to pay the bills—something I’m still seeking so if you need a writer, my contact info is up there at the top bar! Call me, maybe?—but writing makes me the happiest. If someone asks me who I am, I’d have to lead with “I’m a writer.” To say otherwise is to deny my identity. It made me happy to reach that conclusion. A writer isn’t just what I do. It’s who I am.

On the up side, I decided to use this internal/external conflict for my next project. I’m not starting it yet, though. In the inimitable words of my OB when I was delivering my first son (after 18 hours in labor), like my contraction, I’m going to “let it build.” (I still want to beat him upside the head for that.) Besides, I need to catch up on my life a bit first. This includes finishing a book I started reading in June. It’s on sale on Kindle now so if you’re so inclined, go look for Lara Archer’s Bared to the Viscount. You won’t regret it. Tell ‘em Caroline sent you. :)

But for now I can share the blurb of my latest completed novel, Tall Shadows. It’s not quite the same as the other books, and I think I worked a little harder for this one, but I like how it came out. You be the judge.

Holly Wallace has spent her life in a supporting role, managing her brother Adam’s acting career. When Adam has a mental breakdown, she knows from past experience that standard rehab programs won’t work for him. She finds an unorthodox program:  an asylum in the truest sense, to let him take a step out of society and rediscover himself. But when Holly finds herself attracted to the therapist caring for her brother, she once again has to take a step back and put someone else’s needs above her own.

Following the tragic death of his sister, Ben Crawford developed a program based on a nineteenth century treatment that allowed patients to heal themselves holistically. When Holly brings Adam to Ben, Adam’s status could be the boost his program needs. Ben could help even more people, except he comes to see Adam isn’t the only Wallace he wants to help because he’s falling in love with Holly.

Ethics is the one line Ben can’t cross, but if he doesn’t save Holly from herself, he could lose her to the Tall Shadows of her past.




Counting Down

Posted on 07/20/15

I’ll never forget the first time I went to an RWA National conference. I’d been to the NJRW conferences before, and I was told NJRW is like National only smaller. Expecting National to be a big deal, I rode into NYC on the bus from PA with knots in my stomach. After all, all the Big Names would be here. My favorite authors, not to mention a boatload of my best friends. New York was the place to be in June 2011.

The nerves I felt then were nothing compared to now.

This time I’m a Golden Heart finalist. I’ve gotten several emails from RWA about rehearsals, receptions, where to be and when. I have 2 dressy-dresses lined up and two gorgeous pairs of shoes. My agenda for 4 days is on an app on my phone. I have a last-minute shopping list because since the layoff, I’ve worn makeup 5 times and every time I thought, “I’m out of powder. I need some more” but I keep forgetting to get some.

It’s almost go time. Saturday night at 8, the big awards party begins, hosted by Lisa Kleypas. To say I’m nervous…might not be accurate. Anxious is more like it. Last night around 8 I thought, “Well, a week from now it’ll all be over, I’ll be home again, and we’ll know who the winner is.” But it’s the Monday before and we don’t know. And my heart is in my throat just thinking about it.

I love Michele Arris and Elle Mason like the sisters they’ve come to be, so quite honestly, yes, I’ll be disappointed for me if I don’t win, but I’ll also be excited for them if they do. We each have a 1 in 3 chance of winning, and yes, the Erotic category is a threesome. The irony isn’t lost on me. But I’m also proud that we’re the first finalists in the Golden Heart Erotic romance category. Hopefully we pave the way for more finalists next year.

I won’t be among them. I published Heated Competition in June so my time as a pre-pub is over. Next year I’ll try for the Rita awards but the competition there is fierce, and deservedly so. Those authors have been through the publishing mill, either independently or traditionally. They have readers and followers and fans. That’s the next rung in my ladder.

Here we go. Pics to follow. Meanwhile here’s one from my album. I’m sorry she won’t be there this year but it was so nice meeting Diana Gabaldon and fangirling for my mom. She’s SUCH a terrific person!

me n DG




Heated Competition – an excerpt!

Posted on 06/30/15

Just a little appetizer to get your palette started…

– – – – –

We danced a long moment, studying each other, assessing. His hand didn’t move and my grip didn’t let up. I never played Stratego as a kid but I wondered if this was what it felt like.

“What about that kiss?” I finally said.

“That?” His gaze dropped to my mouth, and his eyes took on a gleam that might’ve scared me if it didn’t set my estrogen on fire. “That was for me.”

It was nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t shiver right there in his arms while Bob Seger crooned at us from the other side of the room.

I looked away. I needed the respite. I would’ve walked away if I could. Hell, if I could, I would’ve gone for a run. It always helped settle my nerves and gave me time to get my head back on straight, but here? Here in front of him, I had to think on the fly. That wasn’t my forte, whereas playing soccer required him to deke and run, to kick and pass and think four steps ahead of the opponent. I might’ve felt like I was being played if my body didn’t enjoy the contact so much.

But hell, I’d been on my own for a few years now, busy up the wazoo with no time to play, and here at hand was the opportunity to relax and enjoy the attention. Maybe he wasn’t my type but Mark had been my type and look where that got me. Besides, I wasn’t looking for forever. Just like the song said, we had tonight.

I smiled and met his eyes again. “Did you like it?”

His expression flared hot for a moment. “Yes,” he said. Adrenaline surged in my system.

I cocked my head to one side, daring him. “Are you certain? Maybe you should try again, just to make sure.”

He laughed so hard, I felt it echo against my rib cage. “That’s a cheesy move, Ace, even for you.” I knew he was laughing with me, not at me, and the sound was rich and deep. It branched out inside me, heating me from my core to the tips of my extremities. My pussy went tight but I just smiled.

“Yeah, well, how else does a woman ask a man to kiss her in this day and age?”

Smile still on his lips, he shook his head. “Why would she have to ask? A woman like you can take what she wants.”

“True,” I said though inside I was shivering. “But why make it easy on you?”

He growled from deep in his chest, wolf-like, then crushed his lips to mine.




Gabe and Lindsey – coming soon! (Yes, I meant that)

Posted on 05/28/15

Change is good. That’s the mantra I keep repeating to myself when I feel like my whole life is a jigsaw puzzle with not just a few pieces but the box lid missing. Once again, the future I saw ahead of me has been erased, but this time I’m trying to look at it in a positive light. If I don’t have anything set in front of me, I can create it to be what I want, right?

I’m still adjusting to the “I’m a full time writer” concept but I’m starting to get attached to the idea. It’s not such a bad “new normal.” When one of the HR resource providers called to invite me to attend a “how to get ready for your next job” seminar, I actually saw it as an intrusion on my time. After all, I’m a writer now. I need to write, edit, brainstorm. (Nap.) I didn’t know how much of an intrusion it would be until I registered and found out it’s a 4.5 hour online class. I dreaded meetings over an hour, and this one overlaps lunch. I’m not looking forward to this but a) if it gives me story ideas, fine; b) if it gives me some skills to get started in another job (should I opt for one), also fine. And the c) I probably shouldn’t admit to: I’ll be crocheting the whole time. Seriously, I’m a tactile learner. If my hands are busy during a meeting, I’ll absorb more information. Would that my previous owners–uh, employers understood that if they would let me knit a sock during staff meetings, I’d have been a whole lot more productive.

But that’s business sh*t and I don’t live for that crap. Some people do. More power to you but it’s not for me.

I finished the first edits to Heated Competition last night, and OMG, am I excited about this story. I put an excerpt up on the Bookshelf tab—because I haven’t written the synopsis or blurb yet—and I’m just a little hyper about it because these two were fun to write. I lived with a lot of conflict in my real world so for a long time I avoided it as much as I could, often to my own detriment. Unfortunately, “Nice boy meets nice girl, they have a nice life and live happily ever after,” makes for a truly boring story. This was the first time I wrote characters in direct conflict with each other. They’re both Type A PE teachers, constantly trying to outdo the other one; whenever they’re together, they’re pretty much at each other’s throats, dressed or not. It isn’t until they realize that if they team up that they can win what they really want. Okay, so that’s the world’s worst blurb but it’s 8 a.m. and I haven’t touched my second cup of coffee.

I can’t wait to introduce Gabe and Lindsey to the world. I really have strong feelings about this story. They were a fun adventure to go on. I don’t think it just “has legs”.  I think this has wheels.




Railroad crossing

Posted on 05/18/15

It’s an interesting time to be me right now. On Cinco de Mayo, I was told that after 14 years, “we’ve decided to make a change.” (You’ll get that if you’ve seen “Bull Durham.”) My department head handed me a packet of folders indicating my termination date, severance package, and benefits. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, and for nearly two weeks I’ve been telling myself this is a good thing. I wasn’t happy there. It wasn’t fulfilling (and it sure wasn’t paying what I needed it to). This is my chance to find a job I love to do.

I decided to call myself a full time writer. After all, we all need labels. It took a few days to get rolling but I started writing 3k words per day until I finished “Heated Competition.” I’m going to read through “Indulge” first,  then start deep edits on “HC”.

I also have a ton of personal stuff to do. School events, medical appointments, you name it. This week has at least one reason each day for me to get out of the house. Not that I want to. Really, now that I have the time to write, I want to do it all the time. I believe it truly is the job I love to do, even though right now it pays nothing. I want to believe that it will be the career I’ve always wanted. Funny but I can’t even regret starting at it so late. I’ve read what I wrote at 20. It was god-awful. I’ve taken classes and I’ve written one million words. I don’t want to be a professional writer because I have to. I want to be a professional writer because it’s what I do.

Anyway, I’ve also had time to do things I wanted to do but didn’t have time for, like exploring the local park where I usually run. I’ve taken to finding trails off the main road and taking pictures.

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There’s a rail line that runs through the park. Conrail trains pass through on Sunday nights but not often during the day and I’d wanted to explore it. I knew the line ran to a street two blocks from my house, so I knew I’d end up home eventually, but along the way…? Sure, let’s take a look.

It was gorgeous and peaceful and secluded. I startled a nesting pair of ducks that had taken up residence in a large puddle alongside the tracks. They walked along ahead of me until I caught up with them, and then they flew off.

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Eventually the tracks let to a trestle that passed over the walkway I usually took into and out of the park. I thought, “Okay, fine; I’ve been here before. No problems.” I’m not good with heights or falling or bridges but as long as I didn’t look down and the bridge itself is solid, I’d be fine, right? Except the bridge isn’t solid. Between the wooden posts, I could see not just daylight but the stream twenty feet below.

I was frozen. Literally paralyzed by fear. I couldn’t move. I saw that drop down to the stream and everything inside me said, “Oh hell no. You shall not pass.”

I looked behind me. It was at least a half mile walk back to the nearest path to get back to the paved walkway. I could do it but geez, another mile? When the path home was right here in front of me? Don’t be a puss.

But I couldn’t. There were gaps. I might fall through one of them. (Seriously? I’m a grown woman. Those gaps are 3 inches wide at best.) Or I might drop something and never get it back. (Definite possibility. I liked my water bottle but it was replaceable. The phone would be more of a hassle, however.) Or I might crack one of the wooden boards and get hurt. Or really, just the idea of falling was scary enough. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even put my foot on the first board. I backed up and stood there, looking ahead at the train bridge, not knowing what the hell to do.

But then I took a few deep breaths. Well, shallow breaths. It was the best I could do. I coached myself, “Don’t look down. Just put your foot on the board and focus on the board. And the next board.” So I did. Very quickly. I’d have stepped on each board at a time but geez, that would’ve taken forever, so once in a while I did skip a board, all the while telling myself, “Only look at the board. Don’t look between.”

I got about halfway across and then, for whatever idiotic reason, I stopped. I didn’t look between the boards but I was frozen again. My brain said, “Oh for the love of Magic Mike. Trains can cross this bridge. YOU can cross this bridge,” and I started walking again.

When I saw the space between the slats were solid with dirt and rocks again, I trembled with relief and looked back. Holy mother of God, I did it. To this very moment I still can’t believe I crossed that bridge without peeing myself, but here I am at home with the pictures to prove it:

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The first is before I realized there were open spaces between the wood. The second was my, “Oh, what a pretty view there is up here!” pic, also taken in total ignorance. The third is the pic from the other mother f*cking side of the bridge where I would’ve whooped in celebration were it not for the fishermen below the bridge.

Lesson learned: don’t ever say you can’t do something. You can. Even if you think you can’t, you can. You just have to push past the fear and make it happen.

 




It’s Really Real!

Posted on 04/24/15

Proof that I didn’t actually dream it… (even though it’s a dream come true!)

May 2015 RWR pg 13

 

 




Having a Moment

Posted on 04/21/15

Being single sucks, but this piece of this poem? This is how I feel. If only he knew.

“…How many loved your moments of glad grace

And loved your beauty with a love false or true.

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you

And loved the sorrows of your changing face.”

Also, maybe this is why I start so many sentences lately with conjunctions.

Dammit, if I could only tell him.




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