Saturday, August 28, 2010
I have a confession to make. My life is crazy!
Most writers I have met and/or blogged with are punctual about their blogs. They put them in cue to be posted right as the day changes. I marvel at their ability to be so on top of their lives…
Then, there is me. I have five wonderful children, ranging from fourteen to three. I have recently remarried and now have gained three remarkable children. Along with the five kids, I have two dog children.
I have been a little under the weather with a kidney stone operation. I had a mace like ball stuck inside me. They had to put me under and catch it with a cage. It took me a few days to recover. I hope none of you ever get one.
Then as soon as I felt, a little better one of the dog children, a four year old Bichon Frise named Beauty,escaped. The terror and fear that gripped my heart at the loss of my dog is one that I never want to experience again. My mom and family all got into gear. We drove the neighborhood for hours, called shelters, and I just cried. Finally my mother and I went to the closest animal shelter in the area. They said they didn’t have a dog that was small, cute and fluffy. I begged, “Please can I just go back and see if a dog came in while you were out?” I fell to my knees as I saw my little Beauty sitting in a kennel. I just sobbed and hugged her.
The officer then informed me she had a charge against her. I looked at her thinking she was crazy, “How could my little white dog have charge?” I walked out of the pound fifty dollars poorer and a court date to face. Apparently my dog went to my eight year old son’s elementary school to find him. It’s only two blocks away. She had been running in the halls causing quite a commotion. Her charge was, “running at large.” I am still laughing about it.
Now I’m a finding pre-school for my three year old daughter. It’s amazing how two hours here and then two hours during nap time can help finish books. My main problem now is the curse of all mothers. The battle with potty training. I’m almost there.
So to all of you out there, who read books and or write them, please excuse my tardiness. I’m working hard on my next book and loving it. It’s about Jake’s twin brother, C.J., who is the sexy firefighter in San Francisco.
I want to thank my editor Kathleen Schiebling who has so much patience with a new writer and a young mother. Thank you for finding the story in my manuscript and making it work.
I couldn’t do any of this without the love of my amazing, superhero husband, Brad- I love you. And mom, you know I wouldn’t be here without you.
Friday, August 27, 2010
This summer was the 100-year anniversary of the 1910 fire that devastated three million acres of wilderness in Northern Idaho, Northeast Washington and Western Montana. Within that wilderness were many small towns that were damaged or out-right destroyed by the fire. Eighty-seven people lost their lives. The small community of Avery, Idaho was near the epicenter of the conflagration. Somehow it survived, no doubt due to the sheer stubbornness of the people who lived there. Coincidentally, Avery is the town where I lived for several years in my childhood.
In celebration of the anniversary—and memorial to all who perished—many events were planned around the area. Avery had their own weekend-long commemoration. Friends of mine asked me to contribute books for an auction to raise funds for the small museum there. I gladly agreed and, with the assistance of many wonderful writers at the recent Romance Writers of America conference, put together a bag of autographed books.
Avery was an interesting place to grow up. The political, philosophical and even social differences between the “railroad” folk and the “forest” folk could have divided the community. But a place as small as Avery demanded that everyone work together. We all lived so close to one another—the narrowness of the valley made it impossible to have it any other way—and forced proximity built strong friendships.
I have so many memories of the closeness of the community. Potlucks, parties or just a night’s gathering at the Pub were common. There was softball in the summer and Bridge or Pinochle tournaments in the winter. The entire town came out for the annual Christmas play at the school. They returned another night for the church pageant with the same kids now dressed as shepherds and angels. Both events were held in the school gymnasium, the only place big enough for us all. Plus, it boasted the only stage in town. One year, instead of separate plays for each of the classrooms, the teachers decided to put on “A Christmas Carol.” With thirty-six students in the school, there were just enough of us to fill all the roles.
Memories of that small town have influenced my writing tremendously. I know how aggravated you can be with your neighbor one day, yet extend a hand to help him without question the next. A small community is like a family that way: you don’t get to pick them, but you wouldn’t trade them for anything. Envisioning the details of a small town on the Chesapeake Bay was the easy part of writing the linked books that I’ve just finished. Avery prepared me well.
If I were to write my autobiography, it might begin: Once upon a time, I was a part of this community in Idaho called Avery. In many ways, I still am.
If you’re ever in Northern Idaho, plan a trip up the St. Joe River. Way up the river, just before the blacktop ends, you’ll come across Avery. History lives there.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This is a picture of my office a week before I turned in The Daddy Catch. I have to admit, the last few days before I turn in a book are crazy busy. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve charted my progress throughout the process. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve stuck to “the plan.” Or if I actually finished writing ahead of time. Those last few days still lengthen into thirteen, fifteen, and sixteen-hour stretches.
As you can see in the photograph, piles of paper grow on my desk top. The box of revisions below it overflows. The calendar practically shouts the day’s assignment. And I can never find a pencil because they’re always buried under the last print-out—the one with all the yellow stickies and heavy marks. As for housework, forget about it. Dinner comes from the only restaurant that still delivers at ten pm.
Of course, the most important thing that happens the week before delivery is that I fall in love with the book all over again. Yes, I loved these characters from the very beginning. I've loved their story, loved telling it. Most of the time, though, I write and revise piecemeal--one chapter, one scene, one paragraph at a time. Doing that, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture.
But that last week—it’s magical. I cozy up in a chair and read the story from beginning to end. Little gems appear. I polish them. I see patterns and themes I wasn’t aware existed. At the end, there’s that “aaaahhh” moment when I'm sure this hero and heroine have the happily-ever-after they deserve.
And then…I deliver the manuscript, fix the world’s most understanding husband a celebratory dinner and clean my office.
See? All ready to do it over again.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
That’s not to say I’m not inspired by the things I see and hear. If you read my July release, Firefighter Daddy, you’ll remember that the heroine, Rory, has a black and white cat named Buick.
I’ve never met a cat called Buick, but years ago I knew someone who had a cat named Evenrude. He didn’t purr quite as loud as a boat motor, but he was loud! However, Evenrude was a tabby, not a tuxedo cat.
More recently my neighbor had a black and white cat named Pete. Here’s a picture of Pete, taken one Hallowe’en on my neighbor’s front steps.
My family loved Pete, so when we decided to get a cat of our own, we fell in love with this black-and-white beauty. Her name is Imilie.
I guess you could say the cat in Firefighter Daddy is three real-life cats—Evenrude, Pete and Imilie—rolled into one. However, his name, Buick, came entirely out of my imagination and if you want to find out where that came from, well, you’ll have to read the book.
As an aside, and so as not to cause any hard feelings between the two felines who rule the roost at my house, here’s a photo of Lucy, our other cat.
Lucy hopes to inspire a story someday, too.
Until next time,
PS: Firefighter Daddy is available at eHarlequin.com, Amazon.com, and in Canada at Chapters.ca.