Posted in Books, Random, Teenagers, Uncategorized

December Birthdays and New Releases

While everyone else is busy with holiday shopping, office Christmas parties, and decorating and baking, I’m trying prepare for the release of my 6th book In Too Deep (A Swift River Romance #2) on December 20th.

I also have the next round of edits on my 7th book, coming out next fall. Oh, and get the proposal finished for the next series.

But I got a little sidetracked by my birthday last Monday.  We had a simple celebration, dinner with my husband and two sons. Then my mom came into town and took me to dinner the next night. And we had a Christmas party on Thursday. And on and on it goes.

As I get older, and my kids get older, I have found the joy in doing and buying less. I’m happy with a nice dinner and maybe a warm pair of socks. And the giant barrel of cheese balls my son’s bought me. (Although at least one of them helped me eat the whole thing).

My kids are happy with less, as well. They needed new ski equipment this year and we went ahead and got it now instead of waiting to put it under the tree. Because, hey, there’s snow. And they have already gone up enough to have paid for their passes that we bought them at the end of last season.

I see some clothing and gift cards making their way into the stockings and under the tree. And Hot Wheels, because they are a tradition in our family ever since my oldest was two and would get extremely excited to get a new Hot Wheel.

I wish I could get half as excited by anything as he was over a new car or Thomas train when he was little.

The only thing that comes close is getting a great review on one of my books. Or hitting a bestseller list. That would be a great gift. Even getting a message from a reader telling me that they enjoyed my books is much more meaningful than some trinket or knick-knack or even jewelry.

But I’d be okay with a nice dinner out, a bottle of Boeger wine, and of course books by my favorite authors.

 

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Posted in Random

Back To The Future or Blast From The Past?

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet today, you know today is the day that Marty and Doc went “Back To The Future” to from 1985. You’ve probably seen comments about the lack of flying cars or hoverboards (which I’m still not sure if they exist or not), and the ones about the video phones and computer glasses. So some of the predictions came true and some did not. And unless they pull off a comeback of epic proportions, I don’t think the Cubs will win the World Series.

But what I find interesting about all of the buzz is that I’m experience my own form of time machine. Taking me back to the 80s.

My teenage son bought a 1982 Mustang. It’s pretty much in original condition and boy does it transport me back in time. There are push buttons to change the station on the tape player. If I only had my cassettes of Journey, Billy Squier, Loverboy, Men At Work, John Cougar, and Van Halen. But there is Jack FM, that plays the old favorites, Stone In Love, Everybody Wants You, Working For The Weekend, Jack And Diane, and Pretty Woman. Not to mention I Love Rock ‘N Roll, Eye of The Tiger, No One Like You, and 867-5309. All of these songs are now “Classics?”

And the clothes. It cracks me up to see some of the clothes the high school kids are wearing. Leggings with oversized shirts. The plaid. The neon. Throw in some really big earrings and even bigger hair and we’d be right back in 1985.

If the 80s nostalgia wasn’t enough, there is a new Star Wars movie coming out. I was a kid when Luke first learned of the Jedi. I was in 2nd Grade the first time I dressed up as Princess Leia. I will probably dress up as her again this year. I still remember the way I felt when I heard the opening credits and read the words, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” I used to practice falling forward on my bed like R2D2. I cheered when Luke’s last shot made the direct hit to blow up the Death Star, and I was in shock when we all found out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father.

I watched the videos and DVDs with my kids. We went to see the prequel trilogy in the theater and while my kids enjoyed the modern special effects, I tried to convey just how spectacular the original trilogy’s special effects were to those of us who had never seen anything like it.

My 13-year-old son likes to listen to the movie soundtracks on the way to school. There is something to be said for starting your day off feeling like you’re ready to conquer the galaxy.

Posted in Random, Teenagers

Downsizing Christmas

stockings

It started the day after Halloween when I saw my first freshly cut Christmas tree tied to the roof of a car. I became a scrooge. I did not want to even think about Christmas. Actually, I love Christmas. I love the time with family. The singing. Watching classic holiday movies. The lights. Getting a tree. The story of Christmas itself.

It’s the Christmas shopping I hate.

Starting November 1, I was bombarded with messages about Black Friday sales and emails about one day only deals. The debates over whether or not stores should be open on Thanksgiving. The constant barrage of advertising for things I have no intention of buying, diamonds, a fancy new car, razors. Why is it that women are supposed to want diamonds and the guys get a new disposable razor? I’ve never been able to figure that out. My husband and teenage son each have an electric razor, and my 12-year-old doesn’t need one. Yet.

My teenager has a car, so his stocking will be filled with gas cards, car care products, and maybe a gift card to Taco Bell or In N Out. I’m debating getting each of the boys two of their own towels, so the rest of us don’t have to hunt for all the towels wadded up and used only once in each of the boys’ rooms.

The twelve-year-old? I have no idea what to get for him. He’s outgrown most toys and he has too many video games as it is. He likes to draw, but he already has tons of markers and posterboard. There may be more of the same under the tree.

The thing is, I don’t want to buy any more presents that get tossed aside in the race to open the next gift only to go unopened or unused. I don’t want to have to find a place for thoughtful, yet unnecessary doodads.

I want to give gifts that people will enjoy. And even use. I would rather give less things and more experiences. My boys will be spending a lot of time on the slopes this winter. The boys will be racing and my husband will be coaching the ski team. They’re going to have a great time. I’d like to get them something that will enhance their experience.

I guess I should start shopping.

Posted in Random, Uncategorized

Ready Or Not, Christmas Is Coming

Christmas ornaments

Christmas is next week. And I’m not ready. You know those people who always come up with the perfect gift? Thoughtful, unique and useful.

That’s not me.

I never know what to get my loved ones. Or I come up with a great idea, but can’t find it. Like the year my oldest son was about three. All he wanted for Christmas was a “man-deer.” He’d watched Bambi hundreds of times and wanted one of those lighted deer lawn ornaments. But he wanted a buck. We couldn’t find any. He also wanted a Jackalope, but they’re a little pricy for a four-year-old.

One year, he wanted a Tonka bulldozer. You know, the metal kind you can build roads with in the backyard? Well, they only had the plastic talking kind that required batteries. The kind that would break if played with outside. That year eBay came to the rescue. But it was a little scary, not knowing what kind of condition the toy would be in. It was fine. Just what he wanted and we still have it. It’s rusty and covered with sand, but both boys got plenty of use out of it.

The boys are older now. Fifteen and eleven. I go down the toy aisle and feel sadness. My babies have grown up. They prefer video games and music downloads to toys. The youngest still likes Lego’s but the Thomas the Train set will go into storage for our grandkids.

Like many people, I feel that Christmas has gotten too commercialized. Expectations are set too high. Diamonds, the newest smart phone, a luxury car. None of those things will be under our tree.

stockings

But that’s ok. We’ll spend Christmas Eve at my In-laws. We’ll have a nice dinner, good conversation and the kids will be sufficiently spoiled by their grandparents. We’ll come home to find our stockings overflowing with goodies, we’ll unwrap more presents than we swore we were going to get for each other. We’ll probably watch at least a little of A Christmas Story before heading to the Bay Area for Christmas Dinner with extended family. More conversation, food, wine, and presents. We’ll sing The Twelve Days of Christmas and realize that the best presents we could have is simply being present for each other.

Posted in Random

Surviving 2013

I was going to write a post about the unlucky number 13. About how bad 2013 sucked and all the things that went wrong. I could have made a list of bad luck, bad timing and bad moods.

But then I realized a lot of good things happened this year, too.

In no particular order:

I got to see Angel Pagan’s inside-the-park walk-off home run. http://wapc.mlb.com/play?content_id=31198219&topic_id=8878828

My son made captain of his JV football team.

My husband got a new job that he enjoys.

We were finally able to refinance our mortgage. Saving a little money each month is always a good thing.

I found out I’m not allergic to bee stings, even though they hurt like crazy.

I have amazing co-workers who are incredible educators. I realize every day how lucky my kids were to go through their elementary school years with such talented and dedicated teachers and support staff.

I make a difference in the lives of children.

I get the same holidays off as my own children. A week off at Thanksgiving. Two weeks off at Christmas. Spring Break and summer vacation. So I’m not getting paid, but you can’t put a price on having that time, even if we’re all doing our own things.

I signed my first book contract. And my second. After countless rejections, (ok, I did count them, it’s more than some, fewer than others), I found an editor who loves my book. And a publisher who is willing to take a chance on me.

I started a blog, created a website and am making strides toward building my author platform. I’m not as terrified of the marketing side of writing as I was before. With the support of fellow authors and my family and friends, I think I will find an audience that isn’t related to me.

I finally finished the backsplash in my kitchen. It only took seven years? I don’t know. But it looks nice. Except for that one grout line that’s kind of crooked. But if I splash enough tomato sauce on it, no one will notice, right?

My husband does the laundry. Talk about being a lucky girl. He also makes my coffee and the kids’ lunches. He knows when to leave me alone and let me write and when to drag me out of the house (and out of my head) to enjoy what time we have left with both kids at home.

Yeah, I’ve got it pretty good.

Posted in Random, Road Trip

Lost In Suburbia

I have a terrible sense of direction. I can’t judge distances or give directions. When I started my job as yard duty for parent drop off, parents asked me how to get to the back parking lot. I’d been driving my own kids to that school for a decade and I could not remember the name of the street I drove down 180 days a year.

I resort to grunts, gestures and pointing, trying to describe how to get somewhere in my town where everything is actually uphill both ways. Don’t call me to get directions to my house, I’ll just come downtown to meet you.

My son had a doctor’s appointment with an allergist. Our new insurance isn’t local, so we had to drive to Roseville. I have never, ever, gone to Roseville without getting lost. I can’t find the mall. Part of the problem is that I try to avoid freeways whenever possible. Especially since the GPS takes me several miles out of my way to get on a road that has a bajillion stoplights to backtrack to where I’m going. There has to be a shortcut. And there is. But there are also about a bajillion shopping centers that look exactly the same. And they all have the same stores, and restaurants. So I turn in by the Game Stop to check my GPS only to find out I’ve gone too far. But I can only make a right turn and there is no U-turn, so I take a left, into another shopping center with a Game Stop and a nail salon and a Starbucks. But I have no idea how to get back on the freeway, and do I want to go North or South to head West? Or is it East or West to head South? And why is it that I hit every light green when I want to check my GPS to see if I’ve gone the wrong way?

I actually had to pull into a 7-11 to ask for directions to get back on the freeway. But the clerk was like me, she couldn’t give directions without making the motions. The guy behind me offered to have me follow him. Which was a good thing, because there were three different right hand turning lanes. I would have taken the wrong one and ended up in Sacramento before I could have turned around.

I made it to the freeway and was able to meet my husband for lunch. I decided to stop at Target. Then I got lost again trying to find my way home. Do I go North or South to go East before I can go South? It wasn’t until I got to the river that I felt like I knew where I was going.

I’m just thankful for Amazon, so I don’t have to try to find the mall.

Posted in Random

A Time For Giving Thanks

Iy have been so supportive of me and my writing. They might tease me about being attached to my laptop or my need to send them away occasionally when I have to get some focused writing done. They also know when to drag me out of the house to stay in touch with the real world.

I’m thankful for the family cabin where my kids have spent many holidays. New Years, Fourth of July, Presidents Day and this year we will spend Thanksgiving there with their grandparents and two of their cousins. As a kid who moved a lot, I am so glad my kids have a second place to call home.

Soldier Meadows and others 019

I am also thankful for my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I honestly think I would have given up long ago if I hadn’t taken the leap and attended the Sacramento Valleyll Rose chapter in June of 2010. I felt like a Kindergartner who’d just mastered my ABCs in a room full of real writers. Especially when they asked me what I write. I’ve learned so much about the craft and business of writing and I’ve met so many amazing people who are also writers. I have stepped out of my comfort zone, attending workshops and actually going up to talk to the presenter afterward. I’ve gone to retreats, rooming with people I’d never met before. Continue reading “A Time For Giving Thanks”