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My Random Thoughts and Observations

My Book Boyfriends

My Book Boyfriends
My Book Boyfriends

 

A fun benefit that comes out of reading and/or writing romance stories is The Book Boyfriend. He's the guy you've always dreamed of knowing – you know the one: that perfect male specimen who rides in on his white stallion to save the day at the most perfectly timed moment.

 

Depending upon your preferences, he's charming, he dedicated, he's wealthy, he's generous, he's obviously drop-dead handsome, and hopefully… he's a lot of fun to be around. There are all kinds of book boyfriends. Some are paranormal heroes, some live in the old west; there are billionaires, bikers, bad-boys, alpha males, sports stars, movie stars… the list goes on and on and so do the genres.

 

I have a lot of book boyfriends. For years my family has "known" Sonny like he was a living, breathing member of our household. I first met Sonny in the late 80s when I wrote Bend in the Circle. Sonny's a cynical cop who will take you down or prop you up depending upon which direction the wind is blowing. He'd be hard to live with on a daily basis because he sees the world in black and white – and your shades of grey aren't going to change his mind about anything. And don't even think about telling him a white lie – you will not get away with it. But the upside with Sonny – when his vulnerable side surfaces, watch out – he's a tender teddy-bear who will have your back no matter the personal cost.

 

Sonny was my best book boyfriend for decades – literally. My whole family accepted Sonny as the invisible man in our house. He was always there! But life can be fickle, and true to life, when I met Ian in Something to Remember in 2018… my heart was stolen and I quickly forgot about Sonny.

 

Ian is a dependable and capable attorney. He's a savvy survivor with a heart of stone, but if you're lucky enough to wiggle your way into his inner most circle you'll discover his heart is actually full of soft putty. Ian gets into my head. The other day I teasingly smarted off to my dog and said, "Try and behave yourself while I'm gone." And then I laughed because that was Ian mouthing off to the dog, not me. Ian's a cool cat. He's a bit too arrogant and way too overly confident, but I adore his smug self because his soft side is so loving, and he's very dedicated to his loved ones. You can count on Ian. Period. Ian knows how to survive life, and he can put it all in order for you… if you've carelessly allowed your life to fall apart. Ian's my go-to guy. He never leaves my head.

 

For a minute – long ago – Connor was my guy. I met him in Travesty of Justice in 1996 – after my affair with Sonny but before I fell in love with Ian. Connor guilted me into trying harder. He made me want to strive to do better. He's mercilessly judgmental and not very bendable when it comes to accepting opposing views. But he's delightful in his wit and insightful in his perspectives – I'm challenged by the things that he says! He makes me think, and being guilted into being better, isn't bad, is it? Connor is like a mentor. He calls it like he sees it, but he means no harm when he tosses you a contrary opinion. He's delightfully Irish and delightfully old fashioned. And he'll make you scream with frustration as often as you smile with optimism.

 

Kris was my first book boyfriend. I met him in In Cadence Love. He's the one who opened the door for all of my other book boyfriends. Kris is bigger than life. He's a rock star who climbed out of my typewriter in the early 80s and has been in my heart ever since. He's a horribly chauvinistic Vietnam veteran who challenges my military beliefs and inspires my creative leanings. Kris is a poet and a fighter. He's a musician and a lover. He knows who he is and he has a purpose in life. And honestly, his chauvinism is romantic – and he can be taught about equality and women's rights. Kris is a keeper. I like revisiting him.

 

I've had lots of book boyfriends. Sometimes I juggle more than one at a time. (You can do that with a book boyfriend without getting yourself in trouble!) But I'm not the only one in my family who enjoys my book boyfriends. I have a sister who is literally in love with Connor. She talks about Connor like he's part of our family – and as I said before, everyone knows Sonny. Even the family members who have never met him! They feel like they know him through the rest of us because he's become such a part of our lives for so long. In fact, just the other day he unexpectedly surfaced in a telephone conversation. My husband recently read Bend in the Circle for the first time, and when he called me yesterday after leaving for work, he teasingly ended the call with, "I love you darlin'." That made me laugh because my husband has never called me darlin'… ever… but Sonny would call me darlin' – and that's exactly what happened at the end of that call – because Sonny was in my husband's head.

 

Book boyfriends can lift you up and give you hope. Their mistakes become forgivable, their intentions noble, and their dependability unquestionable. My book boyfriends always have life struggles. They're flawed and imperfect, and they definitely make mistakes that can make you cringe. That makes them human. And yet… they're perfect boyfriends with all of their imperfections. I love my book boyfriends.

 

Who's your best book boyfriend, and why?

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Why do I write what I write?

Life can be challenging. It can be filled with disappointment, frustration, grief, and fatigue. That seems especially true this year – 2020 has us all feeling weary! With a pandemic causing statewide lock downs, fires causing frantic evacuations, and crazy politics filling the sound waves against the backdrop of endless civil riots and daily protests – egads! Don't we all need an escape?

 

When I pick up a book by an author I trust, I expect to be taken on a journey that carries me away from here – from the chaos of my real life, into a place where good things happen – even if the escape to that good place is brief – even if that fictional world is filled with its own angst.

 

No matter the story, I expect to happily settle in for an interesting ride. Will I fall in love with a noble character? Will I love to hate a despicable instigator of drama and chaos? Will I want to scream, "No! Don't do that!" Where will I go and what will I learn? Will my world expand with unexpected knowledge?

 

Whatever the journey is – I can't wait to begin it. I look forward to meeting new friends and family and I hope that they will stay with me when I finally get to those dreaded words – The End. I know I will read faster and faster as the story progresses. I won't want to put the book down as I increasingly get sucked in. I will want to get to the end so badly to see how it all unfolds – and yet – I won't want the journey to be over – No! I'm not ready to let go yet!

 

Haven't we all read stories like that? Where we can't stop reading because it feels so good to be a part of the fictional tale that the author has woven in black and white words? These wonderful stories teach us something we didn't know; they bring vicarious new experiences with them; they make us feel enriched for the journey we've been given, and blessed for the friendships we've enjoyed – even if the journey only lasted for a brief fictional moment.

 

This is why I write. Romance novels and fictional stories provide a distraction from the rat race. I like where a good story can take me. This is true from a writer's perspective and also a reader's perspective. I love when I get a glimpse of a character in my head and an idea for a story that grows into a wonderful journey of love and heartache as fictional people come alive on paper, and events that happen to them feel like they're happening to me. When I walk away from that kind of story – the kind of books that I've written – the characters I leave behind stay with me long after I type – The End.

 

If I've done a good job with them – if the characters have done a good job speaking through me and coming alive – you'll also walk away from their story with a piece of them still inside of you.

 

That is why I write fiction. It brings people alive and provides a wonderful escape for you and me.

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Writer's Life

The childlhood memories of my children.
The childlhood memories of my children.

What is it like to be a writer?

 

My adult son recently texted this picture during a Saturday morning family group chat that perfectly answered that question. It literally made me laugh so hard that my head fell backwards with amusement (and admittedly, some remorse) when I saw it. That picture SO captured my life as a writer… and also the life of a writer's child.

 

I've been a writer all my life, but I didn't write my first story until the early '80s. (Now scheduled for release in May 2020.) I began that book with pen and paper. The pages were filled with neat cursive penmanship which progressively became messier the more pages I wrote in a single sitting, until the scroll became so messy it was even hard for me to read. I then moved onto a typewriter. This transition made the work easier to read but the process was still cumbersome when mistakes needed to be corrected, or edits needed to be made. So, I bought a word processor with a memory of about 450 words. Again, this improved my writer's life because editing became a breeze. I could now scroll backwards, correct, delete or insert to my heart's content. But the trick with this dandy machine was that I had to remember to regularly save my work onto a disk or the memory would freeze up and I'd lose everything that I had written since my last save. (And that's the subject matter for a whole different blog! How not to rant and scream and cuss in front of small children!) Similarly, if the machine by chance became unplugged, or we lost power for some unexpected reason, everything still unsaved, would be lost.

 

This takes me to my first Writer's Life story. When my youngest child was a toddler, I was busy writing one of the books in my Enduring Love series (Bend in the Circle, the first book in this series, is scheduled for release in Winter 2020). The main male character in this series is named Sonny. So… one day, my toddler was crawling around on the floor with our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Tramp. I was deeply engrossed in Sonny's life when my daughter and her pup crawled under my desk to play. Aware of what she was doing, but only superficially, I continued typing while glancing under the desk to eyeball my child's play. I thought I was doing a pretty good job as a stay-at-home mom, but truth be known, there were times when I barely kept one foot in the house while I deep dived into some faraway world created on my desktop. And that became evident when my daughter and her pup moved closer to the socket on the wall where my unpredictable word processor was plugged in. As I saw them move backwards, I leaned down from my work to make eye-contact with my sweet little angel and in my dearest mommy loves you voice, I said,  "Please don't let Sonny bump into the plug on the wall because my word processor will turn off and I will lose all of my work." My daughter looked up at me in visible confusion and said, "Who's Sonny?" I stared back at her, equally confused, and asked "Who's what?" I could barely process her confusion as my mind frantically raced through possible name choices for that dog… and her… Sonny, no; Alex, no; Jake, no; Sherelle, no; Jesse… oh, good grief!  None of the choices matched the faces staring back at me, I knew that - and yet, no other names came to mind. Finally, in silent and remorseful defeat I just desperately pointed under the desk and gasped, "Him! Get that dog away from the plug on the wall!"

 

And this was how my children learned to answer to any name I might call them.  

 

At some point thereafter, I moved onto a computer, primitive by today's standards, but so much better than that unpredictable word processor I had been using. Editing was easier, saving my work was easier (and faster), and the whole process was more secure from a writer's point of view. I no longer had to worry about regularly stopping what I was doing to save my work. I could just go and go… for marathon writing sessions.  But… this presented a new challenge for my children. I could now deep dive into my characters' lives and leave the tangible world of my family behind… for endless writing periods… almost without notice. (Just kidding!) (Sort of!). And that brings me to my second Writer's Life story.

 

One day I was again deep in my Enduring Love series when my children began to clamor around my writing desk, asking about dinner. But before I go on with that, let me provide a little backfill for you on the "writing process".

 

Most people have heard of "writer's block".  All writers experience it. When I experience it, I look at it as a sign that it's time for me to step away from my work and rejuvenate myself as well as my tangible living, breathing family, and also my fictional family. I use this time to let my characters breathe while I focus on my children and husband who have been patiently waiting for me to return to their world. Inevitably, the minute I return, the writer's block disappears, and I am slammed with new dialogue that I can't wait to unload. (A good writer always respects the gift of gab… you don't let it fall on the floor and leave it there for future retrieval. If you do, it will surely be gone when you return, and then – wham! The dreaded writer's block!)

 

So… back to my story. There I was, typing away at my desk deep in my characters' lives, unloading all that fresh dialogue while my three children clamored around me, begging for food. "Just a minute…" I told them in my loving but distracted mommy voice, as silent words flowed from my mind to my keyboard to my computer screen. My children became unusually insistent as my "just a minute" grew into multiple minutes with no ending in sight. "Mom… please! We're hungry," they whined.  I calmly nodded at their interruption with dignified grace and maternal patience, hoping for a reciprocal amount of patience from them. "I know you're hungry. Just another minute, please." I continued typing as I offered them this flimsy reassurance. "I'm almost finished here. And then I'll make dinner." The kids obediently obliged me for another set of endless minutes, but finally, the wait became too long, the hunger too demanding, and much less patiently they began tugging on my sleeves, tapping me on the arm, and begging more insistently, "Mom, when are you going to make dinner? It's almost midnight…"

 

And that is the life of a writer's child, and the life of a writer. (And yes, I immediately left the rest of the dialogue on the floor while I quickly located a frozen pizza to jam into the oven for them to eat before midnight. Apologies, apologies, apologies!)    

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Who do you want to be your friend?

I write characters I want to know in my real life.
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Sleepless Night, You Aren't My Friend

Hello darkness my old friend
You've come to taunt me once again
I can't recall my last good sleep
My racing thoughts could make me weep
Nighttime, nighttime, go away
I never liked this game we play.

 

The sound of silence fills my home
The noises say I'm not alone
Tinnitus ringing in my ears
The snores and creaks I do not fear
Nighttime, nighttime, go away
I never liked this game we play.

 

My clock has joined the midnight chant
The time clicks through its taunting rant
My sleepless night will end by five
And yet my mind is still alive
Nighttime, nighttime, go away
I never liked this game we play.

 

It's torture but it's my own time
I tell myself that life is fine
The sleep, I chase outruns my gait
But then I nod off way too late
Nighttime, nighttime, go away
I never liked this game we play.

 

The hours left are just a few
The darkness fades to skies of blue
My clock demands I face the day
It's time to rise and earn my pay

My sleepy eyes just want to close
Throughout the day I'll want to dose.


Hello darkness my old friend
Tonight, we'll do this all again

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Your Warm Embrace

Wrap me in your arms so I'll remember your embrace,
when I'm no longer able to stare at your face.
Speak with the laughter that sings in my ears,
so I can play it back later into the silence of tears.
Stand with your back to the howling wind,
so the fragrance of you can return like a friend.
Let your lips linger on mine,
in a gentle stalling of time.
I adored you before,
I love you now even more.

 

The hands of my clock push the hours away,
as I drag my sad loneliness through long empty days.
I look for you now through the mist of my morn,
And grieve through the night where my sadness is born.
I can't remember the feel of your face,
I long for the warmth of your protective embrace.
Your laughter is silent in my hollowed mind,
The scent of your body my memory can't find.
Come back to me love, bring a sweet morning kiss,
Put your hand in my palm because that's what I miss.

 

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Be Empowered by a Book

There is nothing as powerful as holding a book in your hand. You need only open the cover to feel the potential of another world, a better relationship, or good advice. Books can make anything happen. Open one today.
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The Gift of Positive Feedback

I often find myself waking early, even on a weekend when I had planned on sleeping in. In fact, it's been so long since I last slept in, I don't remember what year it might have been? Who was president, where did I live, and did I even have children then, or have I not slept in since high school? Those early wake up hours allow for a lifetime of quiet contemplation. My mind wanders, sometimes into dark places (I quickly try to escape!), sometimes into fictional lives (that usually forces me out of bed to sit in front of a computer to write it all down), and sometimes into happy zones (yes, I am satisfied with my life). And so was the case today. Against the backdrop of my husband's snoring, I thought about the gift of positive feedback; the kind that I've given and received throughout my life. Positive feedback is powerful. It can literally be life-changing.


I'm a writer. I've been writing fiction and romance novels since the early 80s. I love getting to know the fictional characters that come alive inside me. They become best friends. I laugh with them; I cry with them, I live for them, and they live because of me. But the process of sharing them with the world is terrifying. Writing is a vulnerable process because it is as deeply personal as it is visible. When I write, I fully expose myself in ways that I might otherwise hold back. I shed the protective cover that shields my soul from external criticism, and I vulnerably tell the truth. I use my inside voice on the outside – and I shout out loud with it. And in truth, regardless of my thoughts being veiled by the identity of a fictional character, everything I write comes from my heart and soul. It is as much me, as it is not me.


So, with my first published book now in the hands of unknown readers, I awaited the crushing blow of negative feedback. The kind that you've probably felt before; like at the end of a party that fell flat despite your best planning. It's the disappointment you feel when you present a gift that isn't well received. I remember as a child, I wanted a watch for my birthday. All of my friends had watches. But instead of a watch, I got a bathrobe. I was crushed, and unintentionally burst into tears with a hurtful sob of, "I wanted a watch!" I'm sure my parents were horribly wounded by my honesty.


As children our lives expand with positive feedback. As babies we need it to thrive. As young adults, the affirmation empowers us to set ambitious paths into unknown futures. As mature adults it replenishes parched souls depleted from the sting of repeated defeat. And as seniors the affirmation can make us feel relevant and worthy of life despite declining mental and physical health.


So, imagine if you can, the thrill of my first positive feedback on Something to Remember. It unexpectedly landed in my phone one Saturday morning. That book was so good! Bravo my friend! It came to me from an old friend who had purchased the book on Amazon. Wow! I couldn't stop smiling or re-reading the message. She liked it! My heart soared, and my confidence bloomed. And then more reviews poured in, from anonymous readers, and known readers. A colleague who raved about how good the book was; an acquaintance of my husband who followed him to his car one night just to tell him, Boy, your wife can write! The elderly friend of my mother, who handwrote a multiple page letter to my mom, detailing how much she enjoyed the book, even though she would not normally read romance novels, and would generally disapprove of the characters' actions! But she is eager for the follow-up novel! Wow! And then there are the five out of five, 5-star reviews on Amazon and the 5-star rating in goodreads. They like it! (translated: They like me!)

 

The gift of positive feedback is affirming, uplifting, empowering and encouraging. Thank you everyone for the positive feedback. So now I ask you: what positive feedback have you received that was life changing, and have you given positive feedback to someone else? How powerful can you be today?

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Never Give Up on Dreams

We all have dreams... at least, I hope that's true, because life without a dream would feel a lot like life without hope. But dreams can feel elusive and unattainable when they involve more than idle wishes.

 

I first dreamed of being a published author in 1984 when I began writing my first romance novel. I'd always known that I had creative urgings that were both distracting and hard to contain. I was artistic. I took art classes as a child and loved them. I played piano, clarinet, oboe, and guitar. I was athletic. I took gymnastic classes as a child – only until the teacher told my mother that I had a natural talent and my mother withdrew me from the classes, fearing I'd become a circus gypsy as an adult (which, admittedly, sounds kind of fun to me). And I've always liked to write a lot. I used to write poems and short stories all the time. I even wrote to-do lists just because I liked the process of writing things down.

 

I never finished that first book that I started. I met a published author who gave me some good advice: write what you know. So, I abandoned my first effort (about a baseball player- something I knew little about) and started a new story. It had a military theme, and as an army veteran, that made more sense to me. I also joined Romance Writers of America and met an author who had just published her first book (she's a very successful author today). That was inspiring to me.

 

Now, in 2019, I've published my first book. Dreams can come true - not always the way you hope or envision, but they can come true. It's been a long journey for me. Since starting that first book that I later abandoned, I've lived in Colorado, Oregon, Louisiana, California, and Germany. I've raised children and helped raise grandchildren (that'll be another blog!). I've attended funerals and weddings. I've laughed and I've cried. And through it all I kept writing. Not to be published (admittedly, I gave up on that dream for many years), but instead to let the characters inside me breathe and cry; they too, needed to laugh and raise children. And the process of writing gave me hope; it kept me hanging onto my dream even if it was only by the white knuckled grasp of my weakest palm.

 

And then one day I just decided to just put myself out there. It wasn't easy, but determination made it happen. And here I am… telling you that dreams can come true.

 

So now you try it… what's your dream, and what do you need to do to make it come true?

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