Saturday, April 14, 2012

Critters, Babies and Mid-Year Resolutions!!

Hubby and I at Easter dinner . . . 
In Los Cabos, because Little Terry was working as the waiter!!

What a week!!!  Let's see, in the past seven days we've done taxes, had a super sick kiddo (thank goodness she's now on the mend), discovered a new critter gnawing his or her way into our house, had a prom to find a suit for, celebrated Easter at a Mexican restaurant, got Daisy trimmed for warmer weather, discovered our two-year-old stove is breaking and four-month-old fridge is on the fritz, said some pretty major hellos and goodbyes, toss in a sprinkling of family drama, and in case that wasn't enough, today, on what was supposed to be me and Hubby's fun afternoon casino date, we both left the Osage as big sad losers.

In the midst of all of that, I managed to squeeze in some writing, but not nearly as much as I'd've liked.  Part of being a writer is tackling lots of questions--where do I get my ideas?  How long does it take to write one of "those" books?  Are you rich?  And the one I struggle with the most--how do you summon creativity and romance on demand?

Each New Year's Eve, when I'm trotting out my tried, true and often failed resolutions, along with losing bunches of weight, I always vow that this will be the year I don't let outside issues interfere with my writing time.  Why am I bringing this up now instead of back in January?  Because it's only April and here I am, already sweating the little and not-so-little things that take up valuable space in my mind!!

Meanwhile, poor Tristan needs me to help him come to grips with his ex's remarriage and cross-country move with his son.  Then there's Brynn--feeling thirteen months pregnant while single-handedly raising a sullen six-year-old and dealing with the fallout of her murdered superstar baseball-playing hubby having hidden secrets more devastating than she feels capable to bear.  Their problems make mine seem silly, so why can't I put their issues front and center?  Why does yet another squirrel or raccoon dining our house take center stage in my head when Brynn's baby is due any second??!!  See?  I must learn to set priorities, people!!

Okay, so I'm taking a deep breath and vowing that next week my fictional characters are going to feel far more real than the usual chaos ruling our home.  If an appliance breaks, I'm not going to let it get a rise out of me.  If anyone has drama, they'll need to make an appointment!!  As for all those pounds I'm supposed to be losing, I'm already down twenty . . . should I go for twenty-five? :-)


Friday, April 13, 2012


I am!  Those around me will tell you I am one of the most superstitious people they know.  If I say “knock on wood”, you can rest assured, I will physically knock on wood.  When I sit down at a table to eat, the blade of my knife must face away from the plate.  I will casually flip it over before my patootie ever hits the chair if it doesn’t.  And, my grandmother taught me, if you enter someone’s home, you must leave through the same door, or bad luck will strike.

I do have my limits.  I don’t throw salt over my shoulder for fear it will get in my dog’s eyes.  But if I see a black cat cross before me, I will turn around and go in the opposite direction. 

Triskaidekaphobia defined me perfectly.  That is the very real and morbid fear of the number 13.  So, it’s ironic that my very first blog for Harlequin American Romance is today, Friday the 13th.

Just to give you an example of the extent of my fear, a few years ago when I finished planting my spring flower beds, I stopped to literally smell the roses.  I counted 13 rose bushes.  That couldn’t possibly be right.  I counted and recounted.  How could this happen?  I’m more careful than this!  In a panic, I called my mother.  “I can’t believe I planted 13 rose bushes!”  Her response, “What do you want me to do?  Drive over there and pick you up so you can get some more?”  YES!  And she did.  I couldn’t trust myself to drive.  I already tempted fate by planting 13 bushes.  Who knew what would happen if I got behind the wheel of a car.

I have gone to unbelievable extremes to avoid the number 13.  Yet somehow, in a bout of extreme exhaustion, I submitted my first manuscript to Harlequin on December 13th.  I didn’t realize my error until March 13th, when I received THE CALL from my wonderful editor, Kathleen Scheibling.  When I looked back and saw my submission date, I nearly fainted.  Could it be the ever evil 13 wasn’t so bad after all?  A few days later, when Marin Thomas asked me to blog for American Romance, I was over the moon.  She asked me to choose a monthly blog date and low and behold, the 13th was available.  

I firmly believe everything happens in threes.  Being here, with all of you on Friday, April 13th completed the circle.  My irrational fear is replaced with confidence and positive energy.  I know this is sending a fit of laughter through those who know me best.  I would never even leave my house on Friday the 13th, let alone celebrate the date.  That CALL was one month ago today – so now every 13th reminds me of what I’ve accomplished so far.  And to boot, my first book, tentatively titled Double Trouble, will be out in the first half of 2013.  Too bad they don’t release books on the 13th of the month.

While I’ve overcome my Triskaidekaphobia, I do have other superstitions when it comes to writing.  My biggest one…I Love Lucy must be playing on television when I write.  I can barely hear it, but it has to be on.  If it’s not, I can’t concentrate and I feel my work won’t be any good.

Yes, I’m quirky, but what writer is perfectly in their right mind?  But I’m also curious – I can’t be the only one out there with writing superstitions.  I’d love to hear about yours.

Happy Friday the 13th

Amanda Renée

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cue the Marching Band

You’d think that I’d be used to it by now. After all, Rodeo Daughter is my third book for Harlequin American Romance. Yet, I can’t deny it. When I open the front door and see a box from Harlequin on the porch, I get goose bumps. Truly. Goosebumps. I only wish I'd known the books were on their way. I'd have hired a marching band to accompany the UPS man on his way up the sidewalk.

Opening the box, pulling that first copy of a book—my book!—from it. Well, that makes my tummy all a-flutter. What’s the first thing I do? Yes, I know. I should start contacting reviewers and sending them advance copies--that's why I get these books ahead of time, after all.

But for a few minutes, I can't resist. I fan the pages and inhale deeply. There’s nothing like the smell of a freshly printed book. Especially when you’ve poured your heart and soul into it, the way I did with Rodeo Daughter.

I guess that’s because Amanda and Mitch’s story included so many aspects of my own life. No, I’m not a lawyer. Or the divorced single parent of a four-year-old. But growing up on Florida’s east coast, I looked forward every year to the big Silver Spurs Rodeo in nearby Kissimmee. I spent the intervening months mucking stalls at a local riding stable. Each weekend, I plodded down dusty trails on horses that wouldn’t know what to do in a barrel race. But at night, I dreamed of becoming a rodeo star.

Rodeo Daughter is the closest I’ve come to achieving that dream. The heroine of this book, Amanda Markette, rode her way to a gold buckle in Las Vegas before walking away from the professional rodeo circuit to earn a degree in family law. After spending years performing in one arena after another, Amanda longed to put down roots. She swore that, if and when she ever married, home and family would be her number one priority.

His career is lead prosecutor Mitch Goodwin’s number one priority. He stands on the brink of achieving all he’s ever wanted when the DA plans to name Mitch as his successor. But the last person Mitch expects to represent his ex-wife in a custody suit for his adorably head-strong daughter is none other than Amanda Markette, the girl he fell head-over-heels for one summer at rodeo camp. And when a playground mishap forces Mitch and Amanda to spend time together they walk an ethical tightrope as old feelings come to the surface again.

I hope you enjoy reading Amanda and Mitch’s story as much as I loved writing it. Rodeo Daughter is slated for release in early June.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


HAPPY EASTER everyone!!

We had a big family Easter yesterday. Today we’ll go to
church and have a quiet lunch at home to recuperate from all the sugary treats.
I had my marshmallow chocolate egg, well, maybe more than one. So I’m good.

I don’t have much to blog about except to congratulate Tanya
Michaels for her RITA® nomination for A Mother’s Homecoming. My book,
The Texan’s Bride, was also a finalist so I’m happy happy. It’s a Super Romance though. Still happy. Our wonderful Senior Editor Kathleen Scheibling edited both books. Yay for Kathleen!! Wish us luck on July 29th at the Romance Writer’s of America conference in Anaheim California.

Enjoy the holiday! And the treats.