Posted in Writing

Summertime Blues

Ah the lazy days of summer.

I’m one of the lucky ones who gets a break from my day job in the summer. Twelve weeks of sleeping in , impromptu trips to the beach, and getting long stretches of uninterrupted writing time.

Or at least that’s the idea.

The first few days of summer break I need to simply recharge. But that sleeping in thing? Doesn’t happen most days. But instead of jumping in the shower, gulping down my coffee while I check my email before heading off to work, I can enjoy a second or even third cup of coffee. I can actually follow links from Twitter instead of simply retweeting so I can look at it later . I can spend more time researching what my characters might drive, wear, or eat.

After a few days of wearing my pajamas until noon, making lunch that doesn’t have to be microwaved, and getting a workout in in the morning, I need to tackle those chores I don’t have time for during the school year, and especially during ski season.

I cleaned out the garage. Organizing the ski and rafting gear so I can reach things. My husband likes to put things in the rafters. He’s 6’3″ and maybe needs a step stool. I need a stepladder to reach the second shelf in my kitchen cabinets. I still have a couple of boxes of shredding to do, but that’s time consuming and hard to do while typing at the same time.

My oldest son, the raft guide, was home for the first few weeks. With the epic snowfall this winter, the rivers were running high until mid-June. Too high for most people. So he didn’t have a lot of work. Just “training trips”, which means a group of guides go out and run the river just for the experience. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a job they would do on their days off just for the experience?

My youngest son got a job. I’m happy for him, but there goes my “hey, you wanna go to Tahoe?” companion. We made it up just once so far. And since he’s taking a week off for his last year of summer fine arts camp, we won’t have a family vacation this year.

The worst part of having the summer off is that my husband does not. He gets a week off. And a couple of days for the 4th of July, which we spent at the family cabin. Working. His dad ruptured his Achilles tendon, so that left all the weed eating, roof clearing, and general maintenance chores to my husband and 16 year old son. I started to organize the kitchen but realized with renters it’s futile.

But the good news is that I got to do some research for my next book. It’s set in a small ski resort town similar to McCloud, and I got to spend one afternoon at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park getting inspired (and sunburned) while my guys rode the mountain bike trail.

Now I’ve just got to figure out how to get my hero and heroine together, break them up, and then give them a happily-ever-after that’s as spectacular as the view.

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Posted in Adventure, Romance, Teenagers

Test Driving The Empty Nest

lakecoupleI recently celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. We pulled out the photo album, stopped by the winery where we held our reception, and took a little walk down memory lane. We were just a couple of kids with our whole future ahead of us.

And that future included kids. Two boys kept us on our toes for many years. Little League games, swimming lessons, road trips, and field trips kept us moving. We are fortunate to have family nearby and we only paid for a babysitter outside of daycare once.

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Now our boys are grown. Well, my teenager might add an inch or two, and he definitely will fill out in the coming years, but the boots on the ground hard work is mostly behind us.

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Our oldest son is basically living on the river this summer. He’s a whitewater raft guide and is living down in Lotus with the other guides who travel from all over for the season. He needs to do this, and we need to let him, but I miss him. He’s a great guy.

My younger son went to Oregon for the weekend with his grandparents for my niece’s graduation. So my husband and I had the house to ourselves. What did that entail?

A surprise party for the first of his high school group to turn 50. Then we went to Costco, as one does on a Saturday. We stopped by another party hosted by another of his lifelong friends and were home by 9:30.

We did some stuff around the house and then went for a hike. We wanted to take the dog, but she has a bad knee and were worried it would be too much for her. We drove up to our winter home, Sierra-At-Tahoe, and parked outside the gate. We hiked up to the top of the resort, finding four quarters, a penny, two cell phones, two walkie-talkies and several beer cans. We put a few in the recycling can at the top, and carried the rest back down.

We had a lovely picnic and enjoyed the view. The hike was a good incentive to stay in shape as we move into the next phase of our lives. Especially since our golf game is atrocious.

Last night our teenager took us to the movies to see Incredibles 2. It was super. We loved it. We also enjoyed watching the young families enjoy the movie. Especially the dad who watched most of the movie from the aisle, with the three-year-old who didn’t want to stay in her seat. I had a boy who would get up and walk out when he was done–about halfway through the movie.

I also really enjoyed the short film before the movie. I bawled, like I did at the beginning of Up and Toy Story 3. And I totally got where the mother in the film was coming from.

They don’t tell you what to expect when your kids grow up. Sure, there are dozens of blogs about graduation, and dropping your kids off at the dorm. Plenty of tips on what your kids need for the next step, but what about us? How do I prepare to only buy one gallon of milk at a time? Or do laundry twice a week instead of every day? And what even is the point of Costco if there are only two people in the house?

Fortunately, we still have two more years of high school. Maybe longer if my husband stays on as the ski coach. And I have my kids at the elementary school, and while they keep growing up on me, I get new ones each year.

I have my writing, too. I will always have that. And someday, my husband will be my assistant, lugging my suitcase full of books, taking pictures of me with my fans, and inspiring my belief that happily ever after isn’t a fairy tale at all. It just means different things at different times in our lives.

Posted in Books, Romance, Writing

My First and Last RT Booklovers Convention

Since it was just over the hill (if you can call the 7k foot summit of the Sierras a hill), I had to go to this year’s RT Booklovers Convention. It’s a fan-friendly book convention for Romance authors and readers. I haven’t attended in the past since it’s held in May. Anyone who works or has children in public schools knows that May is a crazy month.

I made it up a few days into the conference, driving up Thursday morning. Except for getting stopped for construction/tree removal, driving Highway 50 without traffic is fun. There were times when I had the whole road to myself, as opposed to a Sunday afternoon during ski season.

I ran into my friends from Sacramento Valley Rose chapter of RWA. Actually, I sought them out. Anna J. Stewart and Melinda Curtis write for Harlequin Heartwarming, so I stopped by the end of the Speed Dating with Harlequin Authors. I also met Heatherly Bell and Reese Ryan, both who felt like dear friends by the end of the conference.

And that’s the main thing about going to writer’s conferences, is the connections made with other writers. I finally got to meet Ida Louise Johnson, who I “met” on Twitter because we’re both huge San Francisco Giants fans. I met Jannine Gallant, a fellow Kensington author.

I reconnected with Rochelle French, Cyndi Faria, Virna De Paul, and Stacy Finz. I met Tess Thompson, Tamsen Schultz, Claire Marti, Jenni Marts and so many others.

I went to a workshop from Maisey Yates, and I swear, she could read my mind as to exactly what I needed to hear.

I took some photos, and I apologize to anyone who viewed the video of me dancing.

With Heatherly Bell.

Ida Louise Johnson and me sharing a love of Romance and #SFGiants.

Getting ready for the Giant Book Fair.

Hit the jackpot!

Posted in Books, Romance

Great Minds Think Alike, At Least When It Comes To Titles

bookshelvesOver the weekend, Romancelandia was all atwitter (and to some extent, aFacebook) over the news that a certain author decided to Trademark the word “Cocky” and sent threatening letters to other authors who used the word in their book titles. It even has a hashtag #Cockygate. And it’s fascinating and frightening at the same time.

I found out that many of my books have the same or similar titles as other books. When In Too Deep, the second book in my Swift River Romance series first came out, it was mistakenly included in Kira Sinclair ‘s SEALs of Fortune Series. I immediately contacted my publisher, Amazon, and the author to work on clearing up the mistake. I also bought her book. Because, hey, we obviously both have great taste in titles. Turns out there are a lot of books with the title In Too Deep, including books by Jayne Ann Krentz,  RaeAnne Thayne, and Tracey Alvarez.

Jill Sanders and I share at least two books with the same title. Swept Away and In Too Deep.

Other authors who titles books Swept Away include Robyn Carr, Candace Camp, and Mary Connealy.

I also share the title Diving In with Gretchen Galway. 

Simone ElkelesMelissa Kantor, and Tricia Drammeh also wrote a book called Better Than Perfect.

I just wanted to share some of the books by authors who have great taste in book titles. The thing about readers, especially Romance readers, is that they can never have too many books.

(I have linked the Amazon pages for the authors mentioned. I’m sure many of them are also available on other platforms, but I have to get back to writing the next book).

 

 

Posted in Adventure, skiing

Hitting The Slopes

Sunday was my last day on the mountain this ski season. Despite not getting any significant storms until March, it was a great year.

I grew up in Tahoe but didn’t ski until recently. I went once in Junior High. My husband was a lifelong skier and he dragged me along a few times in college. I could keep up with his mother, but she broke her leg in 2000. My kids started skiing around age three and quickly outpaced me. Especially when I only went once or twice a year.

But last year I broke down and got a season pass. It’s so much more cost effective than buying a daily lift ticket. I had bought a pair of skis off the wife on one of the snowboard coaches. She was even nice enough to ski with me while our husbands coached the teenagers.

This year, I skied mostly with the ladies. We started out as ski team moms but soon became friends. You form a bond with someone when suspended dozens of feet in the air on a cable. I’m not completely over my fear of heights, but riding the lift over and over again every weekend helped. And last year, we had epic snow, so it wasn’t that far down.

My oldest son worked as a ski instructor this year. He was great with the kids. We would catch up with him and his group of 7-12 year olds and you could see the smile on all their faces, hear the enthusiasm in his voice when he we encouraging his students. And he was still smiling when he got of work. He loves his job.

Of course, it’s easier to learn a new skill when you’re only three feet off the ground. It was much harder for me to learn as an adult. Especially when I was one of those students who learned things quickly as a kid. Academic things. Not athletic things. I knew in my head what my husband was trying to tell me, but I couldn’t make my body do it. And he’d been skiing for so long, he couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just relax and stop snow-plowing.

Skiing almost ended our marriage a few times. But in the long run, it has made it stronger. At a time when many families see their teenagers and adult children less and less, we got to spend more time together as a family. The forty-five minute drive up at 6:30 am, and the hour and a half drive home were times to chat, sing along to Tom Petty, and stop off at Squirrels for our ritual snacks.

My younger son won’t ski with me, but he wears a bright, vintage ski suit, so I am able to spot him from the lift and yell embarrassing things to him. Sometimes he even acknowledges me in the lodge. Usually when he wants some food.

I can’t keep up with any of my boys, but they’ll wait for me at the bottom. And when I’ve made it down the slopes with the wind in my hair, or rather in my face, because I’m wearing a helmet, I feel a sense of exhilaration. Before it was mostly fear and fighting gravity. But most of the time, I feel like I can fly. But I also know I can stop, and most of the time I manage to stay upright.

So until next season, the skis are back in the rafters. Ohh, that means it’s almost rafting season.

 

Posted in Adventure, Baseball, Books, skiing, Whitewater rafting, Writing

What Season Is This?

Yesterday was Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. Every few years it falls during Spring Break, so I get to enjoy it as the National Holiday it should be. I watched parts of at least four games. I was very excited to see my beloved San Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in a pitching duel that was somewhat unexpected. Oh, everyone expected a close, well-pitched game between top Lefties Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw. But when Bumgarner was hit in the pitching hand late in Spring Training, his Opening Day start went to Ty Blach instead. He outdueled the multiply Cy Young winner, at least on this day.

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And that’s what I love about baseball. It’s never what you expect. At least, the best moments never are.

But it’s also ski season. Finally. Here in California, Winter took her sweet time coming. December was cold but one of the driest I can remember. Several of the high school ski races had to be postponed or combined. The teams to the north of us had to come 250 miles or more to race on the last day of the season so they could qualify for the state championships. We finally got a lot of snow this month. The local resorts are calling it Miracle March.

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But now the weather is warming up and we’re torn between getting up early to hit the slopes before it gets too slushy or sleeping in and taking on the river. My sons did a midweek trip on the South Fork of the American River, so my oldest could sharpen his skills before he makes the transition from ski instructor to raft guide.

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As an author, I’m often working on books that take place in different seasons. It’s always a challenge to try to get the details of sun-ripened blackberries on the river in July when I’m sitting in front of the fireplace in December. Or trying to describe the way the snow swooshes under my skis when it’s 98 degrees in August.

But that’s the wonderful thing about books. They can take you to another time and place, whether you’re reading them or writing them.