Posted in Adventure, Teenagers, Uncategorized, Writing

Spring Break Is Here

spring mountains

I think this picture sums up this Spring in Northern California perfectly. After years of only getting winter from 6-10 am, this year’s winter is lingering. Yet, signs of spring are everywhere (especially my truck, it’s covered with pollen and tiny flowers that blew off my maple tree).

As an educator, I’m ready for a well-deserved and much-needed break. But I’m also a writer, so I’m hoping to make this a productive vacation. I have some research to conduct for a new series, and then I really need to make some progress in drafting the first book in the series.

You’d think that by my eighth book, drafting would become easier, or at least more efficient. Not so much. I’m trying to outline more, and in some ways it is easier. I know what needs to happen, but there’s still a lot of writing that needs to be done between plot points.

I took two days to go skiing with my family. I’m the last one to get into the sport, despite having gone to high school in Tahoe. The rest of them started young. I still remember taking my oldest up to Mt. Shasta when he was about three. At the time they still had a rope tow and he couldn’t get the hang of it, causing a major meltdown. Not good for the snow conditions. So my father-in-law took him back to our cabin and had him ski down the driveway. After a few runs, he was a skier. It’s taken me thirty years to get the hang of it. But if I’m going to spend time with my teenagers, I need to do what they enjoy. And trust me, I’m much better at skiing than video games.

This was from a few weeks ago. My kids don’t actually ski with me. But they’re more than happy to join us for lunch. If we’re buying.

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This is the view from the top. You can see Lake Tahoe, always a beautiful sight, especially when the lake is full.

We’re expecting another storm later in the week. Which will make the last two weekends pretty spectacular.

Then we’ll look forward to spending the summer on the river. We’ll catch a few baseball games. Hopefully we’ll spend some time at our family cabin near Mt. Shasta. And the cool part, is that all of this can be considered research for my books.

 

 

Posted in Baseball, Writing

Baseball Is Back!

I’m listening to baseball on the radio. It doesn’t matter that it’s only a Spring Training game. It doesn’t matter that by the end of the game, I won’t recognize many player names. It doesn’t even matter who wins or loses. Sure, I hope my team wins, so I can feel really good about their chances this year. But if not, it’s only Spring Training. It’s only the second game. There’s still a lot of baseball left.

There’s a lot of baseball left in the season. As in all of it. Excitement, struggle, romance. And there may even be a few tears along the way. No offense to Tom Hanks, but there is crying in baseball. And chills. And thrills. And disappointment. And hope. Always hope.

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Kind of like in a Romance novel. Each book starts out with the hope of a happily ever after. And for the author, hope for a bestseller. Oh, there will be struggles along the way. Can’t make it too easy for the characters, and it’s never easy for the author, despite what you see in the movies. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Just hard work, perseverance,  practice, coaching, mentoring, and a little bit of luck.

But like baseball, writing is something I can’t imagine living without.

Posted in Writing

Fiction Based on True Events

Every story comes from somewhere. No writer wakes up on a Tuesday and thinks “It’s time to write my next book. I’ll just roll my character dice and spin the plot wheel, then sit down at my laptop and boom! Bestseller.

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Nope, not gonna happen that way. Something sparks an idea. The idea turns into a story kernel. Then the hard work begins. The development of goals, motivation, and conflict. Coming up with the big black moment, and the smaller setbacks along the way. Figuring out how this happily ever after is right for these characters.

It’s always a little awkward when friends have read my books. Recently someone started reading Swept Away, which was sparked by a real-life event. My husband and his brother went fishing a few years ago and they pulled someone out of the river who had been swept into the rushing water. The rest of the story is completely made up, but people still ask if my husband is “Carson or Cody?”

In all honestly, there’s a lot of my husband in all my heroes. But also a lot of me. And who I wish we could be.

When Hunter Pence was traded to the San Francisco Giants, I got the idea for Worth The Trade. And while I adore his enthusiasm and charisma, the character of Marco Santiago is a figment of my imagination. Besides, Hunter found his own romance heroine and I wish him and Lexi a lifetime of love.

A photo of pitcher Barry Zito caught my eye. He was standing against a backstop with his guitar leaning against the chain-link fence. I knew I had to write a guitar-playing pitcher for Making A Comeback. But Nathan Cooper made a mistake. A big one that could have cost him his career. I needed my character to have taken steroids, despite the fact that the player who inspired him didn’t.

And while I might have had shortstop Brandon Crawford in mind when I first introduced Bryce Baxter, his character didn’t marry his college sweetheart and have three of the cutest kids in the National League like the real player. And by the time I wrote Earning A Ring, Bryce had become his own person.

I’m working on a book featuring a female ballpark announcer. I’ll research Renel Brooks-Moon, but her story is her own, and I’ll only use pieces of her experiences to create my character. And I’ll toss in some backstory inspired by a firefighter I saw sleeping in the laundry room of a La Quinta Inn where I stayed on vacation with my family. None of what happens in the book happened in real life.

I also want to write a small town series, set in a town similar to McCloud, California. But I will make up the town, the people, and the conflicts. The mountain is real, as well as the beauty, but I may need businesses that don’t exist. I’ll need to stretch the truth to tell the story. But I let you know up front that it’s fiction. I may create a hotel or restaurant that looks like one I’ve been to in real life, but what I really want is for the reader to picture one they’ve been to. Maybe it’s been a while, or maybe it’s their own weekly hangout.

The same thing goes for names. I work at a school and it’s impossible for me to use names that aren’t shared by students, staff, or families.

Of course, as a romance writer, I will occasionally get the wink, wink, nudge, nudge “So the love scenes?” Yes they are based on real life experiences, and other books I’ve read, and movies, and fantasies, and pure imagination. If the reader is trying to figure out which part is which, then I didn’t do a very good job with those scenes.

 

 

 

Posted in Books, Romance, Writing

What I’m Working on Now

Taking a quick break from edits on Diving In, A Swift River Adventure #3 to update you on new releases, sales, and upcoming projects.

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In Too Deep, A Swift River Adventure #2 will be out December 20, 2016

Swept Away, A swift River Adventure #1 is on sale for 99 cents until December 4.

I’m working on a proposal for a new series, a small-town romance series set in a fictional Normal, California, located at the base of Mt. Shasta. The former mill town and its residents is dealing with growing pains as tourism increases. Healing crystals, fly-fishing, and skiing are just some of the reasons people are coming to Normal. Love that’s bigger and more majestic than the mountain are reasons they stay.

I haven’t quite given up on my More Than A Game series. I have three more books in the planning stages. I have a third baseman, his twin sister who happens to be a better ballplayer than him, but chose to enter sports medicine, a groundskeeper, a ballpark announcer, a cocky new catcher, and a rookie infielder are all looking to score.

I’ve also updated my website.

And as always, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter and I’m trying to figure out Instagram.

 

Posted in Adventure, Books, Education, Road Trip, Teenagers, Writing

End Of Summer Blues

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My youngest son started his Freshman year of high school yesterday. His brother will start college in two weeks. And I will go back to work at the elementary school on Thursday. A lot of people complain about school starting so early. They didn’t go back until after Labor Day. The reason for the early start is to finish the first semester before Christmas break. Which means no studying for finals over the holiday. No major projects due the day after New Years. I’m good with that.

The hard part for me isn’t the day on the calendar. It’s all the things I was going to accomplish over the break. Cleaning out the closets, re-covering the patio chairs, redoing the second shower that has been unusable for months. Staining the deck. Finishing the second AND third books in my Swift River Romance series.

Add in a family vacation, which could be our last with our oldest son since he’s taken a job as a whitewater guide and will be working the whole summers for the foreseeable future.

Let’s see, what did I accomplish this summer? Besides catching up on my sleep?

I finished the second book, while we were on our family vacation. We took a road trip to Jackson, Wyoming. We were able to stay at our cousin’s place in Wilson, we took day trips to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and the boys were able to explore bike trails in the area while I worked in the shadow of the Tetons.

 

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And I ordered the parts for the shower, calculated the tile needed, and I’m in the process of trying to figure out what to do about the fact that the tile we have is about eight square feet short of what we need. And since the tile I want to use is about ten years old, it’s going to be really hard to get an exact match. I’m thinking I’m going to have to find something in a similar texture but a different color. Darker, maybe. Then there’s the demolition of the old tile and getting a plumber in to do the inside parts of the shower so I can tile the walls after ward. It’s going to have to be a weekend warrior project.

I attended the Romance Writers of America annual convention in San Diego. Had a wonderful time meeting other authors, taking workshops on craft and finding my readers, meeting with my publisher, and celebrating the world of Romance.

My fifth book, Swept Away, was released. This is the first of three books in the Swift River Romance series.

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I went through the editing process on In Too Deep, the second book in the series and I’m working on Diving In, the third book.

I’m working on a proposal for a new series.

We have taken a couple of trips down the American River in our ancient raft. We even got to see our oldest son while he was working and did our best to embarrass him by asking if he remembered his sunscreen when he paddled past us.

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We attended a wedding and a Bar Mitzvah. We’ve taken a couple of day hikes, gone swimming, and spent some time at our family cabin near Mt. Shasta.

So I guess it was a good summer, even if it felt too short. I have a feeling they’re only going to get shorter.

 

Posted in Books, Romance, Writing

Is It Possible To Have Jet Lag When I Didn’t Even Change Time Zones?

I’m home from #RWA16, or the 2016 Romance Writers of America annual conference. This year was in San Diego, at the other end of my home state. A short flight, but a world away. Part of me wants to stay in that world. A world where the weather was perfect. Not too hot or humid. A world where everyone smiled and made me feel like a part of a very special family. 2,000 attendees were all there to celebrate romance and learn how to further their careers. Because, yes, writing is a business. It’s not just something to fill our time while the kids sleep, or in my case, practice whatever sport they were playing that season.

Sure, many of us started out writing as a hobby, or therapy. I spent my high school years filling journals of bad poetry and teenage angst. Then I started writing stories. At first, they were only in my head, but I eventually started writing them down. And many years later, I admitted that I was a writer. I joined RWA in 2010, which is the date I attribute to when I became an author. My first book was published in 2014, the year I attended my first conference.

There is something special about finding your tribe. It doesn’t matter that they come from all over the country–and in some cases, the world. It doesn’t matter what size, age, race, gender (although the majority are women), orientation, or any other artificial means we have of separating ourselves from each other out in the “real world.” At RWA, we are all actively seeking happily ever after. Not just for our characters, but also for our books, our careers, and our genre.

Many of us are by nature, introverts. We spend the majority of our lives inside our own heads. Yet something magical happens when you find yourself among others just like you. You already know you have something meaningful to talk about. They know the struggle of being in the middle of writing a love scene and being interrupted by your teenager or a phone call from your mother. They’ve been through the rejection process, whether it’s from agents or editors or even worse, readers.

We are all romance writers, whether we write sweet small-town contemporaries, hot billionaire erotica, or seventeenth-century French historicals. We may have different opinions what type of books we consider our personal “crack.” But we all want a satisfying ending, and for Romance, that means HEA.

After all the workshops, chats, speaker presentations, and pitch sessions. After the publisher spotlights, book signings, and parties. After meeting my favorite authors (and my soon-t0-be favorite authors) and meeting my readers. After crying at literally every single RITA and Golden Heart award acceptance speech. After staying up too late and waking up way too early, I’m exhausted. But recharged. And ready to take my career to the next level.

But I didn’t take nearly enough pictures.

 

Playing with the Queen of Hearts

 

The view from my room.

 

At the Kensington signing
Posted in Books, Romance, Writing

Getting Ready for #RWA16

In twenty-four hours I will be getting on a plane for a short flight to San Diego. I know,  the All-Star game is tonight and the San Francisco Giants don’t play until Friday. I’m not heading south for baseball, although I wish I could take part in the festivities.

I’m going to the annual Romance Writers of America conference. This will be my second national conference and I’m really excited. With my fifth book releasing next week, I’ll be in good company.

I’m packed, mostly, except for the last minute things that I’ll need between now and then, like my blow dryer. And makeup. I will be wearing makeup and dresses and high heels.

I’ll attend workshops, book signings, and I’ll be signing on Thursday with several other Kensington authors, some of whom I’ve only met online.

I’ll try to post on my Facebook and Twitter pages, look for the hashtag #RWA16.

In the meantime, here are pictures from RWA14 in San Antonio.