Friday, May 27, 2016

The End of Homeschool (probably)

It's a long, hard road, this child-rearing thing. We're not done yet by a long shot. 10 more years and the baby will be graduating from high school. That's far-distant future.

But right now, I'm about to have a freshman and a junior in high school and a third grader. Now, the junior works hard. He procrastinates like crazy, but he does the work eventually and does a good job with it. The third grader kind of slacks off some, but apparently not to the same point her brothers did in Montessori.

But the point of this post was to talk about my beautiful soon-to-be-freshman. That's the homeschool boy. The subject of a post from November, "Some of the worst weeks of my life: a school story."

It's been a wild time. There are so many interesting personalities in homeschool, from the ultra-religious, to the ultra-hippie, to the free-thinking people. And, as a friend said recently about yet more tension in our homeschool group: Homeschool moms have strong personalities. What a nice way to say that! But yes, myriad reasons to homeschool: from religion to lack of religion, from allergies to disabilities to busy schedules, from not-fitting-in to not-wanting-to-fit-in-with-the-wrong-people.

Right now, my son's math, science, and art classes he took outside the home have ended (very successfully, I must say), so all we had left is history (finished the textbook last week) and English (spelling and root words to last a lifetime). So the last few days, we've been mostly goofing off. He can read all day, just not play on his iPod or on the computer. (Though today he apparently has been. I was out at the local history museum, seeing the vintage quilts with another homeschool mom whose son was going to take a nap at around noon. The two boys are supposed to get together later and finish the solar car they started the other day.)

And so it's ending not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Three and a half years, y'all. Time and money. Curriculum and classes were mostly paid for by the state through the homeschool charter, but I still spent a lot. I didn't have a job during most of it other than writing. I couldn't keep up with the proofreading work I was doing from home, when this adventure started. I should have found an evening and weekend job, but that was the time I had to spend with the other kids and my husband. 

It was also my writing time. So I could have been earning money, but the plan was to write and try to get the first books out there and make those earn money. And it was selfish, because I need quiet, alone time.

I have learned a lot about myself, my kid, and his curriculum. It had been a long time since history and science. And we read some things I had read a long time ago and hadn't appreciated. I mean, Canterbury Tales is a comedy! Who knew? I relearned all of Algebra this year, which is less exciting.

We confirmed he's dyslexic this year, though I've been working under that assumption since we started. One person said he's also ADD, but not far on the spectrum. Turns out dyslexia isn't only seeing letters and not being able to understand them. There is a host of other things frequently linked to dyslexia, several of which my son does. He needs to practice more with the speech-to-text program and needs to keep reading. 

In August, he will be going to a regular public high school. I'm not ready, but I hope he is. Fingers crossed.

But every so often, my daughter makes noises about wanting to be homeschooled.

Coming soon: COVER REVEAL for The Chevalier. And I'm thinking that will be on the same day as my NEW AUTHOR WEBSITE launches (Don't bother looking at the old one: it's crap).

And I've got those two fabulous 17th century French romance novels out. 

Indispensable Wife

Honorable Officer

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Now and upcoming

Hello, my followers! 
I've finished up my contemporary, New Adult, maybe-more-chick-lit-than-romance novel. I did my part in proofreading galleys for book 3: The Chevalier. I hope to find out the pub date on that soon and then I'll roll out the pretty, pretty cover. Because it is PRETTY.
And then I had a crisis of confidence and had to retreat and read for a few days. And I posted about it. And all of you who struggle with depression or anxiety or other mood swings..... yeah, I know. I'll be dipping in and out for a while, trying to not get too stressed. More exercise, fewer carbs, focus on the positive.
So anyway, I'm thinking what's going to happen next. Most likely, I will be editing and then submitting Book 4, which has as its hero one of the secondary characters in Chevalier, though he's not part of the de Cantiere family. And this might turn into a novella, because it's already not very long. (Book 5 and 6 are about the next generation of de Cantieres, late in the 17th century.)
Also, I should be hearing soon what's going to happen to Book 3.5, a novella with Henri and Marcel as the leads, set immediately after Chevalier.
And I'm working on editing the New Adult one, writing blurbs and synopses and stuff, and I'm going to start querying and pitching and all that fun ("fun?") stuff.
And I'm pretty sure the second New Adult book is going to be structured on the Rolling Stones' Hot Rocks. Which means it will be more masculine, edgier, with less love story and more but shorter chapters. (20 songs instead of 14!). Or it might be Simon and Garfunkel Central Park concert, though I think that's book 3. And maybe a different S&G collection, because I need Cecelia to break a heart and she's not on the CD I have.
So with my homeschooling journey with my middle child coming to an end (barring surprises once he actually starts high school), I've got a full plate writing. Though I'm probably going to have to find a day job and keep writing part time. And more on the end of homeschool in another post...

In the meantime: THE HONORABLE OFFICER is out. Introvert brooding hero. Introvert frightened heroine. Extrovert toddler.

Monday, May 23, 2016


I've been going downhill over the last few weeks.

No, let me start earlier than that:

I've suffered from depression for years. Before it was ever officially diagnosed as depression. Back before they first came up with Prozac. When I had my first baby (in a new country with no support network), I sought help for post-natal depression, but they didn't want to give me an SSRI because I was breastfeeding. After I had my second baby, I was OK until after we moved from one country to another and I didn't know anyone, and I was starting all over again with no support network. At that time, they prescribed something else that made me a zombie, because, again, I was still breastfeeding.

Since then, I've been on SSRIs twice. They made me physically ill for the first few weeks going on them, maybe made a difference for a while to pull me out of the depths but did weird things to my body and brain, then made me physically ill when I tapered off them.

I've had counseling twice, but don't feel like it resolved anything. It was also hellaciously expensive and hard to schedule around.


I've been going downhill over the last few weeks.

I've been immersed in writing, which has been a good thing, but it means everything else in my life has been falling apart, because my energy is limited. And I can tell myself that I was just too busy to sort laundry, but really, I didn't write *that* much every day. I have even slacked off on making my kids do their chores.

But I've been crying in my car at sad songs.

I've been less willing to do anything.

Stuff I like to do has gotten less interesting.

I'm angry all the time. Then I feel guilty about being angry.

So when I finished my latest rough draft and collapsed in joy, I sort of kept collapsing.

And then I looked at the sales numbers for my latest book. And then I spent most of the weekend in bed, reading.

So if you need anything from me, keep asking.

And go buy my books, read them, love them, REVIEW THEM AT AMAZON AND GOODREADS.

Indispensable Wife
Honorable Officer

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Big writing day(s)!

TODAY: I deleted a whole bunch of words, wrote a net of only 600-ish, but two of those words were "THE" and "END".

So I'm done with my first draft of Chill. Or the Little Chill. Or College and Chill. Or... well, I'm not great at titles. It's New Adult romance, but with more of an ensemble cast, focused on one person, her two close friends, and their new boyfriends.

I'm very happy about this! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Other cool writing stuff:

YESTERDAY: I finished my galley proofread. It's going to be perfect (HAHAHA).

And I still have the unchanged PDF ARC on my computer and I'd love some early reviews/possible quotes. Leave a comment or contact me through my profile or at my email.

Because The Chevalier is amazing! Emmanuel is the youngest in his family, much younger than all his siblings. He was raised by his mother when his parents became estranged. His mother is an angry, angry person, so Manu learned that from the cradle. Finally, when he was an adolescent, his dad took him back and instead of bringing him home, he handed Manu over to his sister and her husband. (The sister and husband are the hero and heroine of The Indispensable Wife)

And now he's all grown up and raising horses. And being generally misanthropic.
(And this is a draft of the blurb. I thought it was the final, but when I pointed out a typo, my editor said, "Oh gosh, didn't I send you the final final?" And then I had a couple of tiny suggestions to change the final final. So soon we'll have a final final final.)

Emmanuel, Chevalier de Cantière, youngest son of an influential baron, is happy raising horses far, far from his complicated, interfering family. When news comes his mother is deathly ill, he races to her side only to find she has recovered and left, leaving behind her companion.

Catherine de Fouet blends into the background, saving up so she’ll never have to wait on waspish, scheming old ladies again. She has no interest in a resentful young gentleman who never visits his mother, no matter how broad his shoulders or how intriguing the wounded soul behind his handsome face. She just needs to get better and get to Versailles and the baronesse.

But the baronesse is not merely ill, someone is poisoning her, and Catherine is a suspect. Catherine rebuffs an influential courtier who attempts to woo her with bad poetry and blackmail. When all else fails, he picks a fight with Emmanuel.

The Chevalier de Cantière wants more than anything to protect this woman whose prickly exterior hides sweetness and passion. Instead of escaping from his family, he needs them to guide him through court intrigues and fencing matches. He needs them almost as much as he needs Catherine.

And of course, before it comes out, you'll want to catch up with Manu's older siblings:

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Believe me, I'm grateful for being healthy. But I seem to spend a lot of time exhausted and a lot of time with an upset digestive system.

I'm grateful for kids who can get themselves ready for school (and even for the youngest, whom I carry from her bed to the couch every morning and for whom I still pack a lunch) and who can entertain themselves and feed themselves (but again, the youngest....).

I'm grateful that they are all healthy and sorry I brush them off so much so I can remain seated or go lie down for a while. I don't feel even a bit guilty, though, about the times I tell them they can feed themselves. I've made a lot of meals over the years and two of them are teens: they know how to balance a diet, even if they don't always choose to. And my husband can help the youngest.

Because my old doctor didn't like my new insurance, I'm overdue for all those doctor visits we middle-aged ladies are supposed to have (though with everything I've seen about the lack of need, statistically, for mammograms without symptoms or history before a certain age *or* for PAP smears after a certain age, I'm not sure I need those right now). I certainly need to get checked for diabetes and thyroid issues. And probably food allergies. While the addition of copious quantities of lactase has improved my issues greatly, I still am sick a lot.

And even when I did go to my doctor last, I was assured that everything wrong with me was peri-menopause, which was both reassuring and frustrating as far as diagnoses go. Could we do something about some of these symptoms? Because they're slowing me down. I've never been a high-energy person and always been an introvert who often would rather stay home than brave the outside world. But if my thyroid levels are low and my blood sugar is not regulating itself, those are pretty important. And I should have my heart and cholesterol checked.

Getting older is not for the weak.

Of course, I'm writing all this sitting in my front room/family computer room in my pajamas, avoiding going to the library, which would (apparently) be too raucous for me to deal with right now. I mean, I'm saving my energy for later, when I need to take my youngest to a birthday party. I might go to the library then. Hmmm...


Oh hey.

Go buy my books.

Read them.

Love them.

Leave a review. Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, wherever.

Book 1: The Indispensable Wife
Book 2: The Honorable Officer

Sunday, May 8, 2016

I'm sorry this will be gross

You know what I really want for Mother's Day?

1) Peace on Earth,. Or at least in my house. No fighting for one whole day. No crying. No bossing and angry tattling.

2) Whoever poops, flushes. And if it doesn't go down, they use the plunger.

3) Quiet. Not totally related to "peace" necessarily, but for them to not be making noise for an hour, even happy noise.

4) Cake.

5) Or brownies. Brownies are fine.

6) Chores done without nagging.

7) Kisses.

8) Or hugs. Hugs are fine and there's less contact, especially for squeamish teens.

9) Someone to make my meals. Someone to take the initiative to start a meal and choose what to eat and make the meal. Whoa Whoa! That's asking a LOT.

10) Go play outside. Really. Sunshine, not too hot, you need the exercise. GO.

So anyway...

Happy Mother's Day to all you people who have fulfilled a maternal role in the life of another person! Or animal! All you nurturers out there :)

And to all those who had awful moms, I wish you peace.
And to all of you who wanted to be moms, but couldn't for whatever reason, I wish you healing.
And to all of you who did your best, but your kids went off the rails somewhere along the way, I wish you love.
And to anyone whose child died...there are no words, no healing power of mine strong enough. Love, peace, healing.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Diversity (again???)

I've been thinking a bit about how I write diversity, coming from the direction of a white person with non-white and gay friends and family. And yet I don't have many non-straight, non-white people I hang around with. To be honest, I don't have many people I hang around with. I'm a total introvert, have social anxiety, and maybe a touch of prosopagnosia.
Oliver Sacks wrote this article for the New Yorker back in 2010.
You can argue that he was a brilliant man, but apparently he wouldn't recognize you, no matter what you argue.
Or else my social anxiety makes it hard for me to look at faces long enough to remember them. Or maybe my social anxiety makes it hard for me to retain the faces, since my brain has already gone bye-bye before time comes to store anything in long-term memory. Heck, I can't even remember someone's name three seconds after the introduction. Doesn't matter what you look like.


It seems like I don't know very many minorities in real life. Is it because I come across as uninteresting? Or because I come across as disapproving and possibly racist? I'm totally not, I promise. I'm well aware that people have different pasts and upbringings and challenges to face in life, sometimes based on exterior signs of difference. So I'm not color-blind. I try to be nice to people, but I'm weird and awkward. With everyone. So if you're nice to me (but not too nice until I know you better), I'm nice to you. Otherwise, I'm probably staring like a deer in the headlights. and I'm either silent or talking too much.

I've just been thinking a lot about all the characters in my Work in Progress New Adult novel, who are mostly white. The main character (because in spite of the ensemble nature of the cast, there is one), is part Puerto Rican, but she doesn't much claim that part because it's her dad, who has had almost no contact with her ever (yet he shows up in the middle). A couple of the main cast are gay. Some minor characters are POC (People of Color), but they're minor. And I feel bad about that...

I loosely based this book on the Big Chill soundtrack and even more loosely on the movie, with its ensemble cast of college friends. Talk about lack of diversity. Jeff Goldblum is Jewish and....Glenn Close has curly hair? Even the few minor characters we see are white. Anyone who has any aspect of their sexuality shown is straight.

Essentially, I feel like I'm going to mess up the representation of people I don't know enough about. I haven't had long talks with my non-white non-straight friends and family about race and how they've lived with our US society with its deeply-ingrained racism and anti-gayness. I think Twitter has given me as many things to think about (or more) than real life conversations. Maybe I don't engage on a deep enough level.

Or maybe I'd rather ask: how are the kids, what are you up to these days, how's it going, and OMG did you see this?

So I feel like a fraud. What else is new?

Essentially, I feel like I should be writing more diverse characters, but I also feel like I don't know what I'm writing about and don't want to be insulting. And people discuss this sort of thing on Twitter all the time and yet I don't know what to say when I'm actually writing. I'm too self-conscious, I guess.

(Not so fraudulent: I have two French 17th century historical romance novels out, The Indispensable Wife and The Honorable Officer. And another one coming...soon I hope. We're on galleys now and I have a pretty pretty cover for it.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


This is an article for my local RWA newsletter. I've decided to get braver and publish more articles. I know the editor has an open policy about publishing just about anything the chapter members throw at her. And, uh, I am the editor so why would I turn down my own work when I am happy to get things from others?

Do you remember the first time you sat down with the intention of writing a novel? Wasn't that brave?

Or maybe over-confident and naive?

There have been a hundred moments of bravery in my writing career. A thousand moments.

When I finally finished a book at about the same time I joined the RWA (bravely admitting I wanted to be a real, live romance author), I was so pleased with myself that I pitched to an agent who presented to the chapter. I haven't looked back at the story in years and years, but she probably read the synopsis and the first few pages and said, "Oh HECK no."

I queried some other agents and edited that thing and had my brand new critique partners read it. And eventually, it and the two sequels (one of which I really want to glean the story line from and rewrite) went in a drawer. They're archived on a thumb drive somewhere.

Sometimes after a rejection, negative comments from a critique partner, or bad review, it is an act of bravery to get back to writing.

And then another act of bravery to show it to your critique partners. And another to query agents and publishers. Or to send it to an editor of any sort. This might be the bravest thing any writer does: showing their work to an industry professional.

And then, there's a chance that it will be published. Your mother/daughter/sister/best friend/worst enemy might read it. And they're all judging you. And then you send it out for reviews and many of them don't even open it. Most never review it. Then someone does and....they don't like it.

("Don't read your reviews!" they all say. But when you have exactly three reviews, which is a problem in itself, you might take a glance...)

But we bravely--or naively--keep writing anyway. "Maybe this next one, I'll figure out the essentials of the main character before I reach the end and have to edit them all in!" "Maybe this time I'll get the plot points in all the right places before the third round of edits!" "Maybe this time they'll love me!"

Aye, there's the rub.

Because all our acts of bravery and creation and more bravery and distribution are supposed to lead to someone reading what we write. And we all want to be loved. Or at least we want to be read.