Thursday, April 28, 2016

Happy? Birthday?

As always at this time of year, starting with my husband's birthday in early April and continuing through my own birthday in early May, I start to think of my life and where it is and what I've done in the past year. It's a bit like New Year's Resolutions, but more individual.

So where am I now that I wasn't last year?

Well, my French novels are being published, so that's a HUGE thing. The publisher isn't huge and I'm not a household name (yet!), but it's huge for me. Holding a paperback of my book (two of them so far) in my hand is just heart-stoppingly amazing.

Next step: getting them in bookstores.

Baby steps! Baby steps!

*Deep breath*

I love my French books a ton, of course, but the last six weeks or so, have gone off the rails and am writing a contemporary New Adult (college-age) romance. And I love it. So watch this space for the agony of pitching and querying...


Sadly, my efforts at staying healthy haven't paid off. I've still been walking but not as much. And once I stopped eating carefully, the weight started back on. So I'm working on that. I also need to get to a doctor, because I think I'm pre-diabetic, which would mean that I gain weight faster *and* when I gain weight, it will only get worse. Why do our bodies betray us so?


And what else? Really, a lot of the time I feel like I'm just hanging on by my fingertips. I mean, a whole year. What did that self-help inspirational author say? 'The days are long, but the years are short." Something like that. So I try to get stuff done in those long days and it all adds up to a quick year.


I'm coming to the end of my homeschool adventure with my middle child. He's going off to "real" high school next year. I think he'll do well as long as he settles in. It's always possible that I will homeschool him some more later if things go awry, but ohhhh, I'm ready to have more writing time and maybe get a part time job so I'm still available for Kid Duty and yet have a steady income.

(And if you'd like to know why I, who never ever wanted to homeschool, kept my kid home for three and a half years? Well, here: Some of the worst weeks of my life: a school story So if you're coming across this as a desperate parent, let me tell you: I've been there. You can do it. Maybe not as homeschool, but there are choices and alternatives. You and your kid WILL MAKE IT. It might suck really badly for a while, but chances are good.)


I need reviews! And I need more people to read my books!
Honorable Officer for Amazon Kindle
Indispensable Wife for Amazon Kindle

Honorable everywhere that I know about.
Indispensable everywhere that I know about.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Necessary Distractions

When I write--when I'm really writing or editing or proofing and really into it--I tend to not blog as much. And it's not that I don't still spend way too much time on Facebook and Twitter (That's Facebook and Twitter, for those who don't follow me yet), but I do more reading, forwarding, and replying and not so much musing and initiating. Or I ask research questions that could possibly be answered by Google, but without the nuance that others can give me. (Or because I'm right in the middle of something and will come back to research more deeply later).

This month, I've been doing Camp NaNoWriMo, which they host a couple of times a year to keep us writing even when it's not November. Since I was already writing something, it seemed like a good time to add a little speed to it. Camp Nano has the benefit of you being able to choose how many words you think you can write and/or time you can spend on edits. I signed up for 30,000 words and passed that on day 21. So I took a couple of days off for life, going to my local RWA chapter meeting, and reading, and am back in it to try to finish.

But really, I haven't spent more than an hour or two a day on writing, except for a couple of days in there where the story was coming, but I had to keep researching. Or I had background noise which kept bugging me. Or, like yesterday, I had to get up to stir my soup several times. (Dhal soup with butternut squash in it. And I made naan bread. I'm not a great cook, but I do like spices and bread.)

So of course yesterday, I spent a great deal of time adding a scene about a third of the way through the book and haven't gotten into the confrontation that will lead to the Black Moment. And then the Black Moment, then the resolution, then the denouement.

You see, I'm generally mostly pantser, as I've pointed out before. In other words, I get a few ideas and start writing and see what happens. This time, I started out with a structure. I had been listening to my old CDs in my car and had the soundtrack from The Big Chill in the rotation. And one day, all the vague ideas I'd been having about writing something contemporary and maybe something New Adult coalesced. And, as I blogged a couple of weeks ago, I based the story on the soundtrack. There are fourteen songs in this version of the soundtrack (there are a couple of other versions) and that's what I have to work with. It's an interesting experience.

And now I want to write a series based on Greatest Hits albums and Soundtracks.

So anyway, I have a two week Blog Tour going on through Goddess Fish Promotions. Today I'm at BooksChatter. Drop by to comment and to enter the gift card giveaway!

And go buy the book! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

CONFESSION: Ten reasons I'm not a good Californian

I've been here for thirteen years, and there are things I just haven't adapted to.

1) I don't have a tan. Or blonde hair.  

2) I don't have a tattoo. (Needles? NO WAY.)

3) I've never even tried to surf, though I live 2 hours from the Pacific.

4) We're also 2 hours from Tahoe and have taken my kids skiing exactly once (and I didn't ski).

5) I will never get used to the summer heat here in the Inland Valley.

6) I don't like avocados.

7) I miss seeing normal blue jays. And cardinals. And seasons.

8) I don't like beige houses.

9) Perfect, green lawns don't particularly interest me. In fact, they make me angry in this drought.

10) No matter your political leanings, Governor Jerry Brown is a tad weird. Not as weird as saying "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger" though.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Movies and Musical Muses

Just yesterday I watched The Big Chill, that 1983 hit with an ensemble cast of lesser-known, 30-something actors. Like Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, and Jeff Goldblum. They all have things in their IMDB bios before Big Chill, some big roles in big movies, but the success of this movie must have been a huge deal for them. All the actors I've clicked on have been acting ever since, even the people I didn't recognize and whose other movies and TV work I haven't seen, that I remember.

Oh, and Kevin Costner played the dead friend, but they deleted all his scenes. So that's an interesting bit of trivia.

I was a young teen when the movie came out and saw it a few years after that. I loved the soundtrack right from the start, though--from before I saw the movie. It wasn't my first introduction to Motown and Aretha Franklin, but it was probably my most sustained listening experience. I don't know which of my friends had the album, but she (and it probably was a she) taped it for me. Back in the days of cassette tapes. I'M OLD.

It was one of a very few cassettes I took with me when I spent a year in France on AFS after high school. So it holds a lot of nostalgia for high school, a particularly difficult year (and rewarding, but really difficult), and a million emotions for me. That and Simon and Garfunkel's Central Park concert are the two I recall from France off the top of my head.

Anyway, the Big Chill was by, about, and for people who were slightly younger than my mom (she was fixed in her musical tastes before the Beatles and all done with college and settled down before Woodstock), and much younger than my dad (who is a big fan of Beethoven).

Which is my way of saying this is 100% apex of Baby Boomer ex-Hippie Yuppie-ness. And their lingering obsession with drugs and free love. No "Just Say No" for these people! It's all 1982 hairstyles and ugly sweaters. There's a joke about one character's husband not cheating on her for fear of herpes, but silence about AIDS.

Most of the characters are Mary-Sue-Ish. They are doctor, lawyer, TV star, run a chain of stores, successful writer for People magazine, wife to a rich and powerful executive of some sort. Even the drifter drug-user (they all are, but he's constantly taking something and sharing with his friends) was successful until he lost hope. Pretty much only the dead friend could be seen as a "failure" and the drug guy takes his place with the guy's cabin and girlfriend at the end of the movie. (spoiler alert!) There aren't just regular people in there, the ones who have some average job or an actor who's still trying to make it--they're all superlatives. No mention, either that for a woman to get into a law school in the late 60s/early 70s was still really hard and that she probably faced a lot of sexism.

It's trying to be a search for meaning, but the poster's promise that we need friends to keep us warm is not really kept, I think. They have a nostalgia weekend and people take drugs and sleep together who really shouldn't and then everyone goes home with vague promises of keeping in touch. ("I promise I'll answer your letters this time") So I guess it's realistic in that way.

I figured as a teen that it would make more sense to me from an adult perspective, because it's one of those movies I watched and found a little pointless. 

I watched it yesterday and still find it a bit pointless. I guess maybe that's the point? You have friends, you remember the good old days, you sleep with a friend without emotional repercussions (??), you go home.

Except the soundtrack.

The soundtrack is still amazing. 

Which is why I'm basing the manuscript I'm working on now on it. I'm working in "Harold, don't you have any other music, you know, from this century?" 

Because my main character loves this music. Her grandparents are the one who liked it and though she hated living with her grandparents for a while, she was better off there than with her mom. I think. There's more to it than that, but I'm only halfway through the book (and am writing a blog post instead of writing) and things are still evolving.

But for now, my published works are based in 17th century France. Including the book that just came out, The Honorable Officer. So go forth and read something less Motown and more Moliere.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Get your links here! Happy Book Birthday to me!

OUT NOW! Go get it!

Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
The Wild Rose Press
All Romance ebooks 
Amazon UK 
Amazon Germany
Amazon France
Amazon Australia

The Wild Rose Press

He’ll do anything to save his daughter, even fall in love.

France, 1668

Hélène de Bonnefoi’s spirit has been squashed by the ever-critical aunt and uncle who raised her. Serving as nanny and stand-in mother to her cousin’s child has saved her from the convent, especially after her cousin’s death. When suspicious accidents threaten the toddler, Hélène overcomes her debilitating near-blindness to seek the help of the child's father, a colonel in Louis XIV’s army.

Jean-Louis, Colonel de Cantière, has spent his life proving his worth, integrity, and honor, first to his family and now in the army. When his daughter’s caretaker appears in his camp during a siege, claiming someone is trying to kill the girl, his loyalties are sorely tested.

Hélène must convince Jean-Louis the threat is real. But the true danger is to the heart of a shy young woman who has always loved her cousin’s husband from afar and to the colonel’s desire to resist complicated emotions.

And if you haven't read Book 1, The Indispensable Wife, well then catch up. We'll wait for you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Honorable Officer - Excerpt #3 (TOMORROW, Y'ALL!)

He was sure they would win this battle and overwhelm the town’s medieval defenses. Modern cannons trumped stone walls rather easily. Pitifully easy: pitiful for the residents of the city, most of whom probably didn’t care at all which king ruled over them as long as they could plant their fields when the frosts ended. They—and his soldiers—were surely as eager as he to end the winter’s campaigns and return home.

Jean-Louis heard the soldier standing guard confront a man. A courier, a tall adolescent with a floppy hat, came into the tent and bowed low. Jean-Louis nodded.

The courier’s voice squeaked in excitement. “There’s a lady coming to see you, Monsieur le Colonel.”

A lady? Jean-Louis scowled, which sent a flicker of fear across the boy’s face. Wars had hinged on kidnappings and ransoms before. He wondered if his family would pay his ransom if this was a trap. His father would. His late wife’s parents were as rich as Croesus, but they wouldn’t want him back. “What sort of lady?”

“Not the, ah…mistress type, I would say. Sort of clumsy, in an ugly dress. Someone’s servant? She didn’t sound like a servant. At least that’s what Jouvet said. He spoke with her and is riding next to her carriage with her outrider.” The boy shrugged, then froze, as if he had been warned about the insolence of shrugging when speaking to officers.

“And her name?” demanded Jean-Louis.

“She would not give it, mon colonel. Jouvet took pity on her and did not press for it. She said she is from your wife’s family.”

“What do they want with me?” Jean-Louis nearly laughed at the thought of anyone from his late wife’s family wishing to see him, especially at any risk to themselves. “Was it about my daughter?”

“That was the whole message, Monsieur le Colonel. Jouvet said she seems to be blind?” The courier didn’t appear to believe it.

Jean-Louis dismissed the boy with a flick of his hand and a scowl. From his wife’s family? He couldn’t make it out—barely had space for it in his thoughts—but figured he would see in a minute. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Anxieties and research and writing

So instead of working toward 1000 words in a contemporary New Adult novel today for Camp Nanowrimo, I've been googling for info about the incidence of eating disorders in the LGBTQ population.

And there was this frightening bit of info from the National Eating Disorders Association:
  • Compared to other populations, gay men are disproportionately found to have body image disturbances and eating disorder behavior (STATS). Gay men are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population but among men who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.
So while I had a feeling this was the case, based on little evidence, it seems someone has studied this.


I've also been thinking a lot about ADHD and promiscuity, which leads into the slut-shaming of one of my characters. She went a little crazy her first year of college and is still flirtatious and chatty and LOUD, so she's still living down the rep she earned. Even though she knows she shouldn't be slut-shamed, she's anxious about it and does it to herself to an extent. She has a sense of fatalism about every relationship, that it's going to fall apart and it will be her fault. Here's part of an interesting page about treatment for ADHD through music (and I made her musical before I found this page):

Social difficulties of ADHD women
ADHD Women and girls also face a lot of social problems like the following
  • Appearing uninterested because of poor listening skills
  • Displaying Poor management or expression of anger or moods
  • Bragging or being outspoken and appearing self involved
  • Forgetting appointments or being late
  • Failing to show interest by not remembering or checking with their friends about their feelings or reactions to events that have occurred in their friends' lives
My main character, though, is a people-pleaser. She's extremely loyal to those who are loyal to her. She doesn't trust men (for some valid reasons), though she wants to and realizes that she will never have a stable relationship at this rate. She gets so wrapped up in doing things for her friends that she doesn't prioritize herself. Is that co-dependent? I guess it is when someone else takes advantage of her, right?

There's also a secondary character (tertiary, even, because he hasn't even appeared on-screen yet, but he's part of the reason one of my characters is depressed), who's a narcissist.

If I keep going I'll have most of the DSM-V in my short novel.

Which is fine, because one of my characters is majoring in psychology.


And my historical romance novel, The Honorable Officer (Book 2, Chateaux and Shadows) will be released THIS WEDNESDAY!

Pre-order, read it when you get it, review it, make my day!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday fun time!

Friday was our fun, busy outside-the-house time.

Today is my stay at home and recover time. Which is fun and quiet. I have my oldest teen up, my middle child and husband still in bed, and my daughter off to a Girl Scout thing. The cats are fed and taking a nap. All that eating wears them out. Later, I'll go to the library. Big plans.

I felt much better after my Lurgy day on Thursday, so was the one who took two of my kids to San Francisco. The eight-year-old girl and the thirteen-year-old boy. One of the boy's homeschool-not-at-home class teachers set up a field trip, so the Exploratorium was affordable, which it usually is not. Not that you shouldn't go there if you at all like science and especially if you have kids, but it's expensive and a full-day commitment to noise and constantly being around people.

But the exhibits are AWESOME. It is an amazing hands-on science museum with all kinds of things to explore and do. It ranks as one of the best science museums in the country and definitely way up there with places like COSI in Columbus and Science and Industry in Chicago (that place has hands-on stuff, right?). Plus the setting down at the SF Bay piers can't be beat, especially on a sunny, warmish day like yesterday.

Someday, we will even go when it isn't a madhouse. When I am very rich and can rent the museum just for us and a hundred friends. And can afford to have my private yacht drop me off right at the pier to take me to my helipad and fly me home. Yeah.

View from the biology area at the bay end of the museum. The Bay Bridge is to the right and the island is Yerba Buena, known best as the tunnel in the middle of the Bay Bridge.

Daughter doing her goofy-face over-enthusiastic thing. The exhibit had a prism and a light sensor that could pick up infra-red, which spiked on the computer screen.

Son at lunch acting goofy. Yes, I have trouble getting non-goofy pictures of my kids.
Picture of...nothing. The walls are glow in the dark and a huge flashbulb goes off every 45 seconds, leaving shadow pictures on the wall. But taking a picture of the shadows in extremely low-light conditions (between flashes) is something my phone camera cannot handle, so I had to use my flash... It was way fun, especially when it wasn't too crowded. We were in there for a good quarter hour.
We left at three, trying to beat the San Francisco rush hour. It took 40 minutes to go 1.3 miles to even get on the Bay Bridge. 3 lanes of traffic had to funnel into 2 and to be joined by cars from all sides and then we had to funnel into 1 lane and then merge with another line of cars and then finally get into the left lane of traffic on Hwy 80. Holy cow. The light would go green and ONE car would get through for each lane. Then cars (mostly expensive cars...) would come speeding up the disappearing lane and want to merge. And I was doing breathing exercises and trying to not get ragey. Then there were several slow-downs on the way back up to the Sacramento area. We stopped for dinner halfway home to breathe and because the teen boy was hungry.

We should have stayed with our friends who were there for a couple more hours in the museum, then got dinner on the piers, then drove home after rush hour. But that would have meant four more hours of people and crowds and aching feet and we were already beat.

My kids and I played Twenty Questions and the alphabet game and another game where we had to think of things with the same first letter as our name to take on a boat.

Then I taught them the game "I'm going on a trip and I'm going to take an Apple" in which you have to remember all the other things (alphabetically) that everyone is taking and recite them before adding the thing for the next letter. "An apple, a beet, a clown, a dog, an Eskimo (with a disclaimer of how that's not the correct name for the First Nations people in the Arctic areas of Canada, Alaska, and Russia), a fish, a giraffe...." It's pretty hard, even with the alphabet mnemonic.

So really, it was a no-writing-at-all day, but a nice diversion.

And a reminder of why I don't live in a city. Though I guess if we lived INSIDE SF, we wouldn't have to deal with rush hour. Of course, we'd have all 5 of us in a one-room hovel, at those prices.

And now back into writing!