Category Archives: Romance

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Let the Good Times Roll

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

It’s that time of year again when you see this phrase, “Laissez roller les bon temps,” bantered about as people, especially those in New Orleans, prepare for Mardi Gras later this month. Well, I’ve just experienced a week of my own good times rolling in. So good, I didn’t remember until just now, mid-evening on Sunday night, that I hadn’t written my weekly blog post yet for tomorrow morning. I thought I’d use this occasion to let you in on some of them.

A month ago, as I was waiting in the Des Moines International Airport to catch my flight to Chicago and then subsequent flight to Orlando to return to Florida after the holidays, at seven on a Sunday morning, I pulled up my email from my editor at The Wild Rose Press, Cindy Davis, indicating she was recommending to senior staff that my latest submission, Saved by the Salsa, be published. Two weeks ago, I received the contract. This past week, the signed contract was returned to me. Saved by the Salsa is on its way to publication! This is my third book with TWRP, my fourth to be published. So far, the experience of being told your baby is going to be seen and read by others hasn’t gotten old.

I’ll be talking about this book several more times in the next months leading up to publication, but let me give you your first taste of it here. This is the first of a three-part series about Sullivan’s Creek, a new housing development that is conceived in the rolling prairie of central Iowa. This first book explores how the design concept comes into being despite the issues faced by and between the two architects assigned to bring life to an amorphous idea spawned by an anonymous client. Lacey Rogers is a petite but well-endowed junior architect just beginning to make a name for herself at her firm who finds herself teamed up with the organization’s superstar, Jack Dalton. Though she’s delighted to have this chance to learn from the best, Jack questions why he’s been teamed up with this newbie, when he’s accustomed to working solo. Is he slipping? Is that the reason why he hasn’t made partner yet? Their different styles immediately threaten their continued work relationship; she believes in research and data, he lives by his wits and charm, drawing out and channeling the client’s desires in his designs. pred_ed_2013ebookpublisher

As delighted as I am with this piece of news, I’ve had a terrific weekend as well. Saturday, purely by luck, I came across the Iowa-Michigan basketball game on ESPN. I love my Hawkeyes, although I don’t always get to see their games, so I decided to keep this on while I worked on my manuscript. I’d heard they were having a good season, but I wasn’t prepared for this game. Maybe you like the nailbiters. I do, too, when my team prevails in the end. But I also likes me some runaways, where my team demonstrates its strength and talent. I got my fill with this game. Ahead by 27 points at one time, they finished up by 18. What fun.

Today was the topper. Out of the blue, I received a call from my son telling me he had news, I had a new grandchild. My granddaughter, Lauren Kristine, had decided to arrive early, twelve days early, in fact. This is my seventh grandchild, but each one is as special as the others. And it’s been almost seventeen years since a girl joined the family. Wasn’t it a lucky break for me that I already had plans with friends to hit the mall this afternoon? Two children’s clothing stores certainly benefited.  And she arrived on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Maybe we’ve got a little rocker in our midst?

Even if you’ve been struggling with snow and ice and sleet and cold temps or drought, I hope the good times are rolling in for you as well. And congratulations to The Wild Rose Press for being named Publisher of the Year for the sixth year in a row by Preditors and Editors.

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Buy Links

Driven to Matrimony              The Wild Rose Press, The Wild Rose Press Print

Amazon Kindle and Print

Nook

iTunes

iBookstore Print

Kobo

And He Cooks Too                The Wild Rose Press, The Wild Rose Press Print

Amazon Kindle and Print

Nook

iTunes

iBookstore Print

Kobo

All Romance

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Reunions

treadmillEver had one of those occasions with close friends where everything seemed to click and you came away feeling more terrific than you had in days? I e experienced one of those times this past weekend when I had coffee with two friends. One is spending this week on a short cruise with six high school girl friends, and we spent the better part of our time together hearing about her plans. Though she has gone on several cruises, loves them, and just got back from one two weeks ago, this was going to be the first cruise for some of the others in her high school group and she really wanted them to enjoy themselves (Editorial comment: Just avoiding an outbreak of the flu while on board would be a place to start.).

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

She shared her ideas for two list of questions she was planning as ice breakers to get conversation rolling. One was a list to which they could respond anonymously and the other was more open, like seven females who haven’t seen each other in years need any help getting started reminiscing. Although her discussion ideas were great, we, okay, I, couldn’t help coming up with additional ways to generate conversation. One of my questions was: tell us something none of us know about you. This wasn’t an original thought. Almost every guest interview on other authors’ blogs includes some version of this question. Each time I’ve attempted to answer it, I’ve struggled to find something not only unknown but also interesting. But it was fun to share some of my responses with these two friends, although the fact that I used to enjoy catching nightcrawlers after a recent rain, when the moisture drove them out of their worm holes onto the lawn and they were there for the taking, wasn’t as “earth”- shattering as I thought it might be.

Lake Superior as seen from the back of our rental.

Lake Superior as seen from the back of our rental.

A year and a half ago, I planned a reunion with my own high school friends. I couldn’t help but be reminded of it as I’ve listened to my friend’s current plans. Like her group, ours was comprised of seven. (Magic number? Probably not, just too difficult to coordinate many more than that.) We rented a house at Two Harbors, Minnesota right on Lake Superior in the North Woods. We didn’t need discussion questions to get us going. The first hour when all of us met at one friend’s home in Minneapolis was pure conversational bedlam. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in thirty-five years, and yet, it took no time at all to feel like we’d only been apart a few months. Those few days together were magical. Although we promised each other we’d do something like that again as we parted ways, even if we never do, we had that special time together, to feel young again, to renew connections and examine where we’d all gone with our lives. IMG_1226

Although I’ve made it to most of my actual high school class reunions over the years, this smaller, longer version was much more fun and memorable. I’d highly recommend it as a way of reliving your past.

Me relaxing by the lake

Me relaxing by the lake

Packing for our journey north.

Packing for our journey north.

As a writer, times like these are gold mines for future stories. No, my friends, if you’re reading this, I don’t plan any characters specifically based on any of you per se, but it’s wonderful to have these experiences to draw from when creating other characters and describing their friendships. Reunions can really reenergize.

Reliving the past around the campfire.

Reliving the past around the campfire.

Lots of talk in the hot tub.

Lots of talk in the hot tub.

DriventoMatrimony_7901_750AndHeCooksToo_7346_75076fbc-thesleepoverclause

Buy Links

Driven to Matrimony              The Wild Rose Press, The Wild Rose Press Print

Amazon Kindle and Print

Nook

iTunes

iBookstore Print

Kobo

And He Cooks Too                The Wild Rose Press, The Wild Rose Press Print

Amazon Kindle and Print

Nook

iTunes

iBookstore Print

Kobo

All Romance

 

The Sleepover Clause            Amazon Kindle and Print

Nook

iTunes

iBookstore Print

Kobo

All Romance

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Cruisin’

treadmillI just returned from a four-day Caribbean cruise. I’m very fortunate to live within an hour of the port, so cruising is a fairly common pastime with my friends and acquaintances here in town. This was my fourth cruise with the same cruise line and fourth cruise ever. It was also the fourth time to sail in this same general area. At the risk of sounding blasé about something not everyone is fortunate enough to experience, my most pleasant memories of the this trip surround being with my spouse and friends. There were thirty-seven in our group, but other than our group photo, the rest of the time we didn’t do anything as a large group. Not everyone made it for the photo, even.

I spent a good deal of my time on board playing Mah Jongg with four other members of our group. I especially enjoyed our day at sea. The water was fairly calm that day and very blue, a wonderful backdrop to our game. I even won enough games that I felt productive. Mainly, I was there to relax and help my husband celebrate his first week of retirement.

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

I also read. A lot. I’m a judge in writing contest and have several entries to review in the next month.

What I didn’t do…at all…was write, even though I lugged my laptop along. I had reached a point in my current manuscript where I needed to introduce the heroine’s mother and stepfather. Although they’ve been mentioned in the first book and now this one, the second in the series, and the mother had several lines of dialogue in the first, I still didn’t have her appearance clear in my mind, and I wanted to get that part settled before tackling the chapter where she and her current husband show up. She’s an actress wannabe who never quite made it on her own in the entertainment world. In her quest to make it big in Hollywood, she moved herself and her older daughter from their Midwestern home and divorced her first husband because his career aspirations didn’t mesh with hers. Uprooting her first daughter from their home in Iowa and trash-talking her roots to her second daughter, born on the West Coast, has influenced both daughters’ outlooks on life, setting the stage for both books, so it’s imperative that her appearance/her description embody the essence of someone who’d do this.

One of the perks of spending so much time with a captive audience of two thousand for four days is that I had quite a field of possible candidates to consider as models for the mother. Unfortunately, no one caught my attention. So now I’ve been thinking through various screen and television actresses in the fifty-five to sixty years old category. The closest I’ve come is the Governor’s mother, Jackie Florrick, on “The Good Wife,” and of course, that show isn’t on for another two weeks for me to check out my thoughts. I’d sort of pictured a blonde or a woman with silver gray hair, so maybe I’ll keep looking. Any suggestions? I need to land on someone soon, so I can get back to writing.

DriventoMatrimony_7901_750AndHeCooksToo_7346_75076fbc-thesleepoverclause

Buy Links

Driven to Matrimony              The Wild Rose Press, The Wild Rose Press Print

Amazon Kindle and Print

Nook

iTunes

iBookstore Print

Kobo

And He Cooks Too                The Wild Rose Press, The Wild Rose Press Print

Amazon Kindle and Print

Nook

iTunes

iBookstore Print

Kobo

All Romance

 

The Sleepover Clause            Amazon Kindle and Print

Nook

iTunes

iBookstore Print

Kobo

All Romance

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Approach and Pacing

treadmillDespite the title of this blog, I haven’t touched on my experience in my local fitness center much recently. So this week, my focus is back there. The other day, there were five of us. Rather than tackle the treadmill for this particular session, I went with the stationary bike. I just didn’t feel up to standing and walking but still wanted to get in some exercise.

I looked down the row of stationary bikes, treadmills and ellipticals. Two men, one older than the other, were working away on the ellipticals. The younger one appeared to have set a faster pace for himself, but the older guy was doing pretty well also. I am in awe of people who use the ellipticals. These are one of the most popular machines at fitness centers, probably because you’re working all parts of your body at once. I tried this machine once and scared myself silly. Don’t know why exactly. Fear of falling off? Fear of not being able to keep up with the pace and being unable to stop it? Someday I’m going to get brave again.

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Two women were on the treadmills. One had her earbuds plugged in and was fast walking. Without touching the side handles. You have to be pretty sure of yourself and your balance to walk this way. At least I have to be. My knee has gone out once or twice in the past, and had I not been holding on, I would have been down on the tread. The other woman is one of the regulars, there almost every day. She runs, not walks for probably a total of two hours each time; I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never stayed that long to time her other than when I returned once for lunch in another part of the center, an hour or so after my session ended, she was still there. Needless to say, she’s in great shape. Someday, I want to learn her story. Why she spends so much time at this.

While peddling away, I was attempting to plot the end of the my current writing project. Instead, my brain got caught up observing my surroundings, as I’ve just described. It hit me how this could be an object lesson demonstrating how various writers approach their work in different ways. Some, like the two men on the ellipticals, throw their entire self into their work at a fairly good pace while maintaining balance in all their efforts. The woman on the treadmill who was walking fast without holding onto the side handles was also throwing her whole self into her efforts, but she knew herself and trusted herself well enough to follow her own path without the usual guides to keep her upright.  And the runner? She exhibited endurance and speed, two qualities I’m striving for in my writing this year.

treadmill sidewaysSo there I was, sitting there on the bike, wondering if my exercise style in any way reflected my writing style. Well, I was there. One point in my favor. Although I’m not into the everyday dedication of my runner friend, my writing routine differs from my exercise commitment in that I’m at my laptop almost daily. So my analogy falls down there. But I have to say,  I went there telling myself all I had to put in was a good fifteen minutes. I wound up staying on the machine double that time. So endurance has creeped into my style as well. And endurance is one element I really need at the moment, as I struggle to steer my manuscript to an exciting conclusion.

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Thoughts from the Treadmill: Lost in Creation

This Wednesday, January 15, is the big day. Driven to Matrimony will be released worldwide. That means you’ll now be able to purchase it at other places than Amazon. As soon as I can find the listings, I’ll post them here.

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

I almost didn’t get this post written on time this week. I’ve been seated in front of my laptop most of the day working on my current manuscript in progress and totally forgot I needed to write this post. Isn’t that a delightful problem to have? Doesn’t happen all the time. When the muse is there, you run with her.

I’ve been working my way through a couple key scenes near the end. The first was when both the hero and heroine realize they can deny their mutual attraction no longer and get together, what should seemingly be one of the easier scenes to write. It’s the one the reader’s been waiting for. But no, it wasn’t, because I wanted it to stand out from other love scenes. I also wanted it to reflect their state of mind, not easy to do, when you’re describing the physical but trying to keep it cerebral.

Once I got through that scene, it was time to hit the one where the heroine discovers a secret the hero has been hiding her. Should have been fun, which it was, eventually, once I figured out what would trigger the reveal. You can’t just lay it out there. It has to come about in its own time, nurtured by a series of well-crafted, subtly hidden, at least from the surprise, clues.

So it was a productive day. I actually was able to put away the last of the Christmas decorations and do a load of laundry as well. Never made it outside, but when you don’t have anything else scheduled and the words and ideas keep flowing, you forget about all the other things you could be doing. cropped-office-cropped.jpg

Is what I accomplished ready for the eyes of others? Good heavens, no. It’s always a bit of a shock when I reread my words later, accompanied at times with cringing and at other times with patting my own back. For now, though, I try to avoid the temptation to go back over my stuff. Slows me down, and this is my year of productivity.

How about you? Have you started this year on a productive foot?

DriventoMatrimony_7901_750AndHeCooksToo_7346_75076fbc-thesleepoverclause

Driven to Matrimony                 http://amzn.to/1aowiJ2

The Sleepover Clause               Amazon ebook, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

iBookstore

Kobo

And He Cooks Too                The Wild Rose Press, TWRP POD

Amazon Kindle, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble Nook

iTunes

iBookstore POD

Kobo

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Turn the Page

My latest romance novel, Driven to Matrimony, will be released worldwide on January 15. Stay tuned for updated buy links.

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Happy New Year! While I’ve been confined indoors over the holidays due to very brutal winter weather outside, I’ve had time to think about the year ahead and what I want to accomplish. It is definitely going to be a year of changes. My husband will retire later this month. Our current home is on the market, and as soon as it sells, we will be moving into our new home, which is smaller and more compact with state-of-the-art built-in technology. There’s a new grandchild on the way. And Driven to Matrimony will be released worldwide on January 15.

Those changes on the horizon I already know about. It’s also time to “turn the page” on my writing career and move on to new aspirations. In essence, these are my 2014 goals or resolutions; I don’t know the difference.

Underlying everything else I do as a writer this year is my determination to be more productive, not necessarily spending more time on the laptop, but using my time more effectively to complete projects faster. I also want to be smarter about the way I complete them. I consider my writing style a hybrid of both plotting and creating by the seat of my pants. Typically, I lay out the basic points in a story (set-up, inciting incident, first turning point, second turning point, black moment, resolution and wrap-up) and then go from there. Once I finish the first draft, I put what I’ve got so far into a table by chapter broken down by scene to analyze what I’ve got. I also try to use Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict approach to laying out the story framework. This requires discipline – to make it as specific as possible from the start as well as continue to review and revise it as the story evolves.

Those steps constitute a great start, but it’s time to add a few more steps which, if tackled as I go, will save a lot of time later. The first additional step is to do a better job documenting the story facts: names and descriptions of all the characters, time line, dates, and any other pertinent information that may seem easy to remember now but will completely allude my memory bank in a year. To get started, I’m going to build a table for each current writing project.

Last year, as you may recall from prior posts, I took an online course on Scrivener taught by Gwen Hernandez. It’s time to start employing what I learned, but I think that will work best with a brand new project, and currently I’m revising a third draft of one project and am three-fourths finished with a first draft. So a brand new project is at least another month off.

I also need to do a better job organizing and filing promo documents. I just spent the better part of the day tracking down my most recent bio, excerpts from my new book, Driven to Matrimony, blurbs, contact info and buy links. They’re all over the place instead of in one easy-to-locate spot.  That tracking down time could have been better spent writing. So an hour invested putting this all together today, will hopefully save several hours in a few weeks or months trying to remember where to find something.

I’m sure there many more time-saving techniques are out there just waiting for me to find them. But for now, the above initiatives are more than enough to master.

DriventoMatrimony_7901_750AndHeCooksToo_7346_75076fbc-thesleepoverclause

Driven to Matrimony                 http://amzn.to/1aowiJ2

The Sleepover Clause               Amazon ebook, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

iBookstore

Kobo

And He Cooks Too                The Wild Rose Press, TWRP POD

Amazon Kindle, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble Nook

iTunes

iBookstore POD

Kobo

Thoughts from the Treadmill: A Year in the Life of an Author

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

Photo by Leslie Sloan, Ignite The Light Photography

2013 has been my first full year as a published author. It was both entirely different than any other year I’ve experienced and absolutely normal at the same time. In this post, I thought I’d share some of the highlights this year has brought me as an author.

January – Introduced to Amazon’s KDP program, which gave them a three-month exclusive with my first book with The Wild Rose Press, And He Cooks Too, prior to its worldwide release.

March – On March 22, gave my first presentation as a published author, “Rendezvous with Romance,” to a live audience at Stetson University in Celebration, FL. I was delighted that at least thirty people (okay, my friends) showed up to support me.  On March 23, And He Cooks Too went into worldwide distribution, so everyone who wanted a print copy or had a different e-reader than a Kindle, could finally enjoy the book. Also began this blog. Don’t know how much longer I’ll stay with it, but I’m committed to a few more months.AndHeCooksToo_7346_750

RT Barb at ExpoLate April – early May – Attended first Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City, MO, which included my first exposure to a large group of romance fans at EXPO13. To bring attention to myself, I dressed in a chef’s jacket and hat and bright purple apron. Did it work? Only time will tell, although I certainly got a lot of looks. I wore the same outfit a few days later at my first “real” book signing at “Romance in the Plaza.” That’s Crown Plaza, KC’s famous outdoor shopping mall.

Late May – Signed my second contract with The Wild Rose Press for Driven to Matrimony. I did a Sally Field with that one – “they liked me, they really liked me” enough to publish a second book.

July and August – Broadened my book signing experience with events at a Coldwater Creek store in West Des Moines’ Jordan Creek Towne Center, at Burlington Buy the Book in my hometown of Burlington, Iowa, and at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines. Thanks to all my friends for coming out and supporting me.

DriventoMatrimony_7901_750September – Driven to Matrimony went into Amazon KDP program.

October – Presented a twenty-five minute talk, “My Journey to Publishing,” to the Celebrators in Celebration, FL. Starting October 10, began a three-session class, “What a Novel Idea!” for Lifelong Learners at Stetson University in Celebration. Attended a fantastic weekend conference put on by the Ancient City Romance Writers of America in St. Augustine, FL.

November – Concluded participation in a three-session class on “Writing the One-Act Play” taught by Don Salvo at Stetson. Thanks, Don, for proving to me I could write a one-act in two weeks. Had so much fun putting it on for our audience. Especially loved the laughs. November also included the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance chapter’s “Super Saturday,” featuring my publisher at the Wild Rose Press, Rhonda Penders.

December – Fourth book back from editor with comments. No contract yet, but looking hopeful. Spent time over the holidays on rewrites.

Driven to Matrimony                 http://amzn.to/1aowiJ2

The Sleepover Clause               Amazon ebook, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

iBookstore

Kobo

And He Cooks Too                The Wild Rose Press, TWRP POD

Amazon Kindle, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble Nook

iTunes

iBookstore POD

Kobo