Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Joy of a (nearly) empty Nest?

Two days ago, I farewelled my middle child who was embarking on the greatest adventure of her life—moving to live and work in London. If I said I hadn’t been eagerly awaiting this day, I’d be lying. From the time each of my children turned 18, I’ve been looking forward to having an empty nest.

I couldn’t understand parents who were mourning this new state of freedom in their lives. Didn’t they love not having to pick up, clean up, nag at, plead with their adult child?

But, many of you will protest, “My child went off to college at 18.” Unfortunately, in Australia, we don’t have this happy tradition. Very few city dwelling kids leave to attend college in another city altogether. This is partly due to the geography of this continent—the same size as the contiguous United States—and partly to the demographics—we have a population of only 21 million. And 85% of that measly 21 million people live in the most densely populated 1% of the continent, clinging to the eastern coastline.

Here endeth the school lesson, but I’m sure you can see from these figures, Tertiary education for the majority of Aussie kids isn’t all that far from home. More’s the pity. L

All efforts to move my children out of home have fallen on deaf ears, exacerbated by their father who’d be only too happy for them to stay forever, along with assorted spouses they might gather along the way, and resultant children of their own!

It took me several years to realize I’d made a huge blunder in announcing that there’d be no boomerang children in our household. Once they left, that was it! The locks were being changed, all their cr*p was going with them, or to the tip if they left it behind, and I’d be happy to see them on a weekly basis.

The problem was, they knew I was serious, so they refused to move out. None of them wanted to waste “dead money” on rent and I had to agree with them.

Consequently, our home, although large, was filling daily with their possessions, the worst offender being daughter #1. Her stuff not only crammed her own bedroom but spilled out into the playroom and bathroom adjoining it. It flowed down the stairs and into my study, the family room, the unused formal dining room and the spare room which unofficially became her study in an effort to curb her need to mark her territory. I was at my wits end tripping over all this rubbish while her father seemed to revel in how “homey” our house was.

Finally, in desperation, I went condo hunting for her, found the perfect location, and ensured it was large enough to accommodate all her stuff.

I signed the contract (we have the same name) called her up and said, “Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of your own home. When are you moving out?”

After she recovered from the shock (and realised I wasn’t kidding), she promptly put in tenants. It wasn’t until a year ago that she finally made the move into her own home (aged 27). What a joyous day that was! It took several weeks to completely move all her rubbish (er, possessions) to her new home, including 3 huge moving boxes full of shoes! Imelda Marcus had nothing on her.

And last week, I was eagerly counting the hours until #2’s plane soared into the skies, leaving me with only one more child to dispose of –er, make that—encourage to soar with the eagles (cough).

That was, until she was saying goodbye to our Lab, and it suddenly struck me, she might never see Freddie again.

This was it. Final! She’d said she was leaving forever and until that moment, I’d been happy with her decision, excited for her, delighted that her lovely Dutch boyfriend would be meeting up with her in London to help her find a flat.

Suddenly overcome with emotion, I wanted to plead with her to stay, just a little longer. Surely at 24, she was too young to be leaving home forever?

As I watched her plane disappear into the clouds, I felt as if a family member had died, I was so bereft. Back home, the house was silent, yet only hours earlier had been filled with her happy chatter, her excitement at seeing her boyfriend after so many months apart, what she’d do in London, the places she’d visit in Europe during her holidays.

Even Freddie’s joyful, waggy-tailed greeting at our return from the airport couldn’t lift my spirits. I hugged our son rather enthusiastically when he arrived home from work that evening. He looked startled. I couldn’t voice why I’d done, it, I was still too choked up.

I suppose I’ll eventually get used to my middle child not being here, but in the meantime, it’s made me realise that maybe empty nests aren’t so great after all?

How do you feel about empty nests? Do you have one? Are you looking forward to having one? How did you cope?


Thursday, April 08, 2010

April showers...

I love them because I love writing when it’s raining. I also love how the rain has been turning the grass and trees so green again. Of course that makes me want to go outside and play, which I'm going to be doing at the end of the month when I attend the Romantic Times convention in Columbus, OH. This will be my first time attending the convention, and I’m really excited about meeting up with my writer friends that I don’t see nearly enough. I’m also excited because I’ve heard many readers attend the convention, too. I love meeting readers at book signings, so I’m really looking forward to, hopefully, meeting more!

I’m also a little nervous about attending the convention – for the usual reasons: Will my daughters get themselves up for school? Will my family eat while I’m away? Will anyone remember to feed the cat and the dog? I’m also nervous about going because I’ve heard the convention can get a little crazy. It sounds fun but exhausting too!

Has anyone – writer or reader – attended the convention before? Please share your experiences to calm my nerves!

Thanks & Happy Reading!
Lisa Childs

PS: Please remember my hunky hockey player's book is available this month!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Give it to Me Straight... by Megan

Today is a busy day for me. Work as usual, then I'm meeting with the manager of the hotel where my RWA chapter is holding a workshop this month (Margie Lawson comes to St. Louis!), which I'm coordinating. Then my favorite part of the day: MORWA's critique group meeting.

When other writers say they don't like the concept of critique groups or partners, I'm baffled. No feedback? I shudder to think about it. How do you know if you're getting the story to the reader with emotion but not melodrama, or if the humor works, or if what's so clear in your head is clear on the page?

I love feedback, and no, what I receive isn't usually glowing. But because my group cares enough about good writing to help me improve my writing, they point out where they think I've gone wrong and possibly what to do about it.

My first ms written for publication (aka, my learning book, which will never see the light of day again) was set in Atlanta. Not knowing whether it sounded like the South, I sent it to a writing contest in Atlanta, the Maggies, a very prestigious contest I was in no way ready to enter. I lucked in to finding a great contest and the most honest and helpful feedback ever! The judges very politely hated the book--and rightly so. :) It was an angst novel (full of whiners). I entered the Maggies every year when I started a new story.

My critique group is terrific (and I only use the possessive because I belong to it, not because being the moderator means I own it). I love seeing the fledgling writers leap from the nest and try their wings. Some crash to the ground, but they're gently helped up by the critiquers and sent back to their nests to try again. I especially love when a person's critiques get better because her/his writing gets better too. I call it osmosis--the knowledge used to critique seeps into the writing, improving the work.

I'm not reading tonight, but I look forward to my next turn. My writing is so much better because of the input of my critique partners and this group. Every new book goes before them. My first published book, Marrying the Boss, had quite a few presentations in different forms before the one that captured the feel I wanted. I changed the beginning and the characters and the entire dynamics of the relationship before I was happy.

Some writers say they don't want others messing with their Voice. Or changing their story. Or giving them doubts about their writing. All plausible concerns. I guess I'm too, um, strong-minded as my mother calls it (since I got it from her) or stubborn as my husband labels it (since he has to deal with it daily) to let anyone change my story in ways I don't want. They can suggest, but that doesn't mean I have to accept their suggestions. My Voice is just me, and I doubt anyone else could change that. Give me insecurities about my writing? I have so many already, a few more would hardly register on my radar. But those insecurities don't extend to feedback. Give it to me straight--so I can make my writing better! My skin is thick enough.

So, which personality type are you? Do you want to hear about your flaws so you can improve them, in writing or other aspects of life? Or would you rather not have anyone messing with you, and just figure it out on your own?

BONUS: There's no wrong answer!

Megan Kelly

Monday, April 05, 2010

Breaking News


An April 2010 Mother’s Day Release from Harlequin American


Two novellas in one book featuring authors Rebecca Winters and Dominique Burton who are the first Mother and Daughter in real-life to write for Harlequin American.

I’m proud to announce that Dominique Burton is my talented daughter!

This is her first published novel. At the moment she is under contract to Harlequin American for two more novels that are linked to A DAUGHTER’S DISCOVERY (from A MOTHER’S WEDDING DAY).

Watch for her next stories out in 2011.

As a young girl with a writer for a mom and three brothers, I lived in the imaginary world of books and movies like Anne of Greene Gables and Indiana Jones. Most of the time I was writing and acting out my own stories with Harrison Ford as my hero. Not too shabby for a seven year old!

I’m a lover of Europe who at twenty got the wild notion to buy an around-the-world plane ticket. For six months I circled the globe on my own, traveling to Singapore, Australia, living and studying in Italy, learning about ancient cultures in Egypt, floating down the Nile, watching animals on safari in Kenya, scuba diving in Tahiti and having a blast. I graduated with honors from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in History.

I now live in South Jordan, Utah, with my two amazing children. If I’m not writing romances or young adult stories, I’m reading or out running. A few years ago I had the privilege of running the Boston Marathon.

Please write to me at or visit my website at

This is a picture of me, Rebecca (Burton) Winters, when Dominique was only two years old. The love for writing has to be in the genes. When she came quietly into the dining room in the morning with her blanket and bottle to peek on her mommy who was typing a manuscript, this is what she saw.

Just call me the proud mom.

Rebecca Winters