The Themes in Our Lives

I have a new post up today over at Operation Awesome about themes in fiction. I wrote it a week or so ago, and it’s funny how this idea of a central message keeps popping up in strange places. I went to a meeting last night of the Maryland Writers’ Association where I live, and the speaker — who is a playwright — touched on this, too. Her point was that every play she writes must have something universal running through it, something that anyone can relate to. The theme is what makes a piece part of the human experience, or identifiable to most people. I’m kind of obsessed with this concept at the moment — maybe it’s because I’m currently procrastinating like a BOSS. 

I started something new about two months ago. But I’m in that last third, that sticky part where you question everything in the last 20k words and wonder what the hell you’re doing. I always feel that way at this point in a book, but this one has been harder. Because this is a whole different kind of book. It’s not a romance, exactly. There is a romance in the story, but this is a different kind of story than the others I’ve written before. More literary, more lyrical. And that makes it harder because I don’t have any footprints to follow to get where I need to go on this one. My other books — the romances — generally contain some tropes, so those give me a lot of clues about what will happen. And romance usually follows a predictable arc to some degree. 

And I have to put the new thing aside because I’ve got a book due to Carina UK in October. And the second book in the Girlfriends of Gotham series publishes September 30th with Swoon, and I owe them the third and final in that series in December. And I’ve got a third Wine Country Book spinning around in my head and I know I need to get that bad boy on paper. And then there’s the new project that sits in the corner and seethes while I do all these other things. And I’ve got a shiny new editing project for one of my very favorite authors, Sarina Bowen. I’m diving into that this weekend and will have to constantly remind myself that I’m EDITING. Not reading for pleasure. But her books are… man, I just love them. 

Maybe that’s the theme in my life right now. Something in there – procrastination? No, more like planning. In my writing life and beyond, the end of summer seems like time for planning for all that comes when fall arrives. What’s the theme in your life at the moment?

A Busy Summer Ahead

The weather’s warming up, the kids are excited to get out of school (though really, I can’t figure out why… since I work, they’ll just be headed off to a different variety of “school”… but don’t tell them that!) Anyway, I’ve got a few commitments coming to an end, and am starting to look forward to some freedom.

I think I talk a lot — or at least I think a lot — about making choices to keep life in balance. I didn’t do a great job of that this year. I let work get very stressful, which isn’t my norm at all. I’ve been president of our local writers’ group, and also served on the PTA (mostly to become known around the school and hopefully earn my little troublemaker another chance or two before he gets suspended from first grade!!) But it’s been a lot. And I missed a publication date that I just couldn’t make because I’ve been kind of chronically stressed.

But I’m stepping down from the writers’ group and PTA ends when the school year does… and I’m looking forward to having fewer people counting on me.

I’ve got a new Wine Country novella coming out next month, and the second book in The Company series is well underway and slated for August. Wine Country 3 is already plotted, and the second Girlfriends of Gotham (Highballs in the Hamptons!) should be out in the fall. I have a two book deal with Carina UK that I’m excited about, but it’s looking like those books might be out next year, so it’s a bit on the back burner at the moment.

The point is, as other things are winding down, I’m getting a burst of energy to get back to writing. And I’ve even managed to make myself work out again. For a former personal trainer, the loss of strength training in my life has been kind of personally shocking…

I hope that you’ve got good things planned for the summer too!

Ten Days to ADAGIO!

I’m very excited about the release of my newest book and the first in a new series called The Company. It’s about a ballet company outside Washington DC, and there’s lots of drama (and sex…!)

To celebrate, I’ll be posting teasers and doing some giveaways over the next ten days… The giveaways will be on my Facebook page, so don’t forget to check that out…

Without further ado, here’s the cover of ADAGIO! I hope you like it… Go add it on Goodreads!

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Love is in the Air

Or it’s supposed to be, right? It’s almost Valentine’s Day.

As a grownup, I’m not sure what that really means to me. My husband and I have fallen into the stodgy mindset that this is a day created to sell cards and flowers. We will never again make the mistake of heralding the fine dining cattle call on Valentine’s night after a particularly horrible experience at Mr. A’s in San Diego many years ago. It’s not worth the price hikes, cold entrees and hovering wait staff pushing  you out so they can seat someone else at your table. It’s certainly not romantic… With all that there is to be negative and grumpy about on this day…why is it that I still hope he’ll walk through the door Friday after work with an armful of flowers or a box of chocolate? Why is there still some part of me that wants to buy in? Maybe I’m a romantic hypocrite.

Now that I have kids, there’s a whole other — very welcome — aspect to the day. I spent hours filling out Ninja Turtle valentines with the boys… Yesterday we rolled pretzel sticks in white chocolate, covered them with sprinkles and wrapped them up for the big guy’s class… today we’ll make heart-shaped cookies and decorate them for the small guy’s class. I love that they’re far too young to be jaded or put off by holidays that come with lots of glitz and goodies. It makes it fun for me to still be excited.

Actually, my life philosophy — when it comes to commercialized holidays, birthdays, or any other reason to buy a bunch of Hallmark crap and blow paper horns — is that if there’s an excuse to make a day special, shouldn’t we take it? Life can be long and dreary, I think… why not embrace any reason to make one stand above the drudgery of countless days that are all the same? Bring on the glitter and heart-shaped candies! (Now if I could just get the hubs to buy in, too!)

Do you have any Valentine’s traditions? Do you fall on the romantic side or are you more like the hubby, who thinks that he shouldn’t be told when to be romantic?

I hope you’ll share your thoughts… and come back this week for a fun V-day prize pack of awesome books and a gorgeous bracelet, courtesy of some of my author pals! Here’s a quick view of what’s up for grabs… I’ll post the rafflecopter tomorrow!

collage-2014-02-06

 

Love and Other Games on Sale!

99 cent sale for laog

The sexy winter Olympic anthology, Love and Other Games, from my publisher, Swoon, has a hot new cover.

 

I read this book when it first came out, and recommend it! Super fun shorts about the Winter Games… at 99 cents, it’s a steal!

To celebrate the new cover, the ebook is only 99 cents for a limited time! Pick up this hot winter romance on your Kindle, Nook, or Kobo.

99 Love and Other Games new cover

Love and Other Games is a collection of four sexy new adult stories centered around athletes competing in the Winter Games by Ana Blaze, Melinda Dozier, Aria Kane, and Kara Leigh Miller.

What readers are saying:

“It’s like a rom-com marathon with lots of sexy included. Who knew the Winter Olympics were so hot?” ~Book Nookie Reviews

“Four short stories full of lust, love and laughter. Each story was enjoyable to read and hard to put down.” ~Author Katie L. Thompson

“I fell in love with each one of these stories (and guys).” ~White Zin Bookends

 

The authors are giving away a nook and other prizes to celebrate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

So Close to “The End”

Life. Funny how I keep saying I’ll do certain things when life slows down. I’m probably late to the game here — I bet you already know this…but it’s never going to slow down. Or at least not for a lot of years.

I had things all set up the way I wanted them for a while. I worked 50%, volunteered at my son’s first grade one day a week, had a full day off on Fridays for writing… I went to the gym for an hour three days a week after my “real” job before I picked the Tiny Guy up from preschool… it was all going so well. Then I got an opportunity to work on a new contract. And it was really cool work, and the client was actually really appreciative and respectful. (In case you didn’t know, tech writers are not always considered critical team members — at least not in government consulting — and we’re often brought in at the last minute to clean up giant Word-related messes. I’m used to people not having much idea how long editing a 200 page document might actually take, or not understanding that reformatting a cut-and-pasted-ninety times file might take more than just a minute). At any rate, I dove in. I upped my hours to 60% (bye bye workouts)… and it’s been going well. And now they’re asking for more. The only thing I have left to give, short of putting my kids into some kind of before-care program, is my Friday. My writing day. My “mommy free day”…

My first grader was home sick yesterday and was sent home from the nurse with a fever today. When he told me that she said he should stay home tomorrow, I spooled up…I asked him (because speaking to a sick first grader rhetorically in an angry voice is completely appropriate…) if SHE was going to stay home with him, or if SHE had a plan for making up the hours I was already behind for this period because I stayed home with him yesterday.

And I realized…I’m doing something wrong. The whole point of my “flexible” schedule was to be able to take care of sick kiddos, to be sure that our house was marginally clean, to be able to volunteer at school and be present for my family. There is a good reason — a lot of them — why I don’t work full time. And having time to write, to do what I actually feel passionate about, is no small part of that.

There’s a conversation coming. I just have to have the guts to tell the people around me why I made the choices I’ve made in the first place, and stand by them. Wish me luck.

Oh, and also, tomorrow I will type the words “The End” on Book 2 of Girlfriends of Gotham! (And then I’ll have a LOT of revising to do…)