Monday, April 30, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Tentatively titled, And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake, I really like this book. Love the characters and it has been a fun book to write. Not all books are like that, but this one has--thank goodness! However, as it always is with my drafts--it looks like swiss cheese right now. Missing scenes, no love scenes, and a lot of XXXs where I need to insert . . . something!
On top of finishing the draft, I added into the mix, the kids Spring Break. We headed off to Hawaii to stay with my dear and wonderful friend, Jane Porter and spent an idyllic week on the beach. And that is where is I got the draft done. If you think the writer's life sounds perfect, know this: we always have work hanging over our heads and it goes with us everywhere.
No rest for the wicked.
After returning from vacation, I've had to immediately start prepping for the Washington Romance Writers Retreat, where I am the opening speaker and giving a workshop. These things take time to write and prepare, so the life of a writer is also about being able to shift gears from one thing to another and back to the first. So as I write this, I am once again packing, gathering pages to bring with me to work on, and of course a couple of books to read.
Now one thing of note happened in April that I must share: my upcoming book, Along Came a Duke got a starred review in PW. I couldn't be more proud. This is one of those moments where you take a deep breath and look at the email twice and then say, "Shut the Front Door!"
Here's the link, and for those of you who love digital reads, Along Came a Duke is being offered for pre-sale at $4.99 from Kindle and Barnes & Noble and most every online purveyor of ebooks. See you May 29th!
Saturday, April 28, 2012
“Wow,’ she said, taking in the laden plates on the outdoor dining table. “Not sure the Bolly is good enough for this.”
“Don’t get too effusive, it’s only burger and chips.”
“Not your average burger and chips.” They were home-made bean patties, ripped-from-the-plant salad and freshly dug new potatoes cooked then crisped up something yummy. Her mouth watered, her appetite suddenly screaming. “You cooked all this?”
“I’m a single man, living alone,” he drawled. “You didn’t think I could cook?”
“Veggie, I know. Not bad for a beef farm boy, huh?” He popped the cork and poured the champagne into two glasses – frowning when that was enough to empty the bottle.
She picked up her fork and took a bite of the patty poking out from the toasted roll. Oh, wow. “You really made this from scratch?”
“Your amazement is insulting.”
She chuckled, a trickle of warmth flowing back into her chilled body. “I’ve never met anyone who makes veggie burgers like these. From scratch. Not even me.”
He pulled his phone from his pocket and swiped the screen a few times. “Okay, I got the recipe online. Here.”
She angled her head to read the page he’d pulled up. “The Heganator?” She didn’t just giggle, she squealed. “Hegan?”
“Yeah, cool recipes for the hot vegan male,” he turned the phone back to study it oh, so intently. Then he peered over the top of the phone, eyes twinkling. “I think it’s really written by a woman. Apparently hegans like burgers and barbecues.”
“You’re hot but you’re not a hegan,” she said, almost all her old flirt tone back.
“But I can cook like one on occasion.”
“It is amazing. I mean that in a good way,” she looked at him and her teasing smile died. “Thank you.”
Her heart was beating too hard. She couldn’t remember when someone else had cooked dinner for her. When someone had gone to so much trouble and thought. Someone who bothered to understand what she preferred to eat and not eat. Certainly not her lame ex-boyfriend. The joke died from his eyes too – leaving them warm and gentle and so deep...
She dropped her knife so she had the excuse to break away from that acute, wordless communication. Surely she was reading the wrong messages. It wasn’t caring she was supposed to see in him, it was supposed to be all carnal. But for a weird second there everything had gone upside down and inside out.
Friday, April 27, 2012
***Hannah's winner is Ev! Ev, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing info. Thank you!***
Thursday, April 26, 2012
***Julianne's winner is Wendy! Wendy, please email me at email@example.com with your mailing info. Thank you!***
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
|Mona at 16|
Last month I told you about her romance with Jack the photographer and the moment when I first saw real, live, grown-up romance on the day Mona and her friend Helen opened their own real estate office.
I can almost hear why you're thinking. Wow! Early 1960s and she was living the Gloria Steinem/Betty Friedan dream. Mona was smart, sexy,and independent. She thought nothing of jumping behind the wheel of her gigantic, snow white, Chevy Biscayne and driving across the country alone to San Diego, just because she could. Well into her seventies, she was driving the Florida-to-New York trail twice a year. She was five-foot-two and weighed maybe one hundred and ten pounds but the woman was fearless. Except for her brief marriage, she lived alone her entire life and loved it. She walked city streets at night and didn't blink. She was probably one of the strongest human beings, both physically and mentally, that I have ever known.
But I found out much later that when it came to love, my sassy and ambitious aunt was a geisha at heart. Love makes us all a little crazy. That's a given, isn't it? When you're wildly in love, you're not thinking clearly. In fact, you're lucky if you're thinking at all. The same woman who had a cleaning service come into her apartment twice a week, the same woman had her laundry done by professionals, the same woman who didn't take orders from anyone, cleaned her boyfriend Jack's apartment twice a week, ran over to walk his dog every afternoon, and made sure he had a nutritious meal waiting either on the stove or in the fridge when he came home each night. Or early morning, depending on what he'd been up to. You see, Jack liked Mona but he didn't love her and no matter how many dishes she washed or how many dog-walking miles she racked up, nothing was going to change that fact.
A few years into their relationship, he told her he was in love with someone else. And Mona continued to clean his apartment. Then he told her he was engaged to marry that someone else. And Mona continued to walk his dog. Finally he said the wedding was next week and maybe it was time she gave back his key. And she did.
Jack's marriage didn't last but his friendship (and maybe more) with my aunt Mona did. Same as her friendship with her ex-husband.
And the dentist who lived with his sister Tillie. But I'll tell you about him next month.
here and here and here.
P.P.S. I apologize for taking so long to send out last month's prizes. I promise you they'll go out this week.
P.P.S. I'm giving away e-books this month. Ten commenters will each receive a copy of The Marrying Man for their Kindles.
P.P.P.S. Barbara E., you are my March winner. Please drop me an email at barbarabretton AT gmail DOT com with your full name and mailing address and I PROMISE I'll send out your prize ASAP.
P.P.P.P.S. Here's what I've been up to.
The second time they met, she set fire to her bathroom.
The third time they met, they fell in love.
Annie Galloway isn't looking to fall in love again. Sam Butler doesn't want a home and family of his own.
Too bad fate has other plans . . .
A SOFT PLACE TO FALL is a 100,000 word contemporary romance, previously published by Berkley Books.Available now for the first time as an e-book.
Click here to read the first chapter.
The Edge of Forever, an award-winning Harlequin American, available for the first time in e-book form.
OPPOSITES ATTRACT . . .
But can a night of passion turn into a love that lasts forever?
Meg Lindstrom is a struggling photographer who drives a limo to make ends meet.
Joe Alessio is a best-selling author of fiery historical romances who hasn’t written a word in months.
They don't have a thing in common until Meg falls at his feet one sunny October afternoon and Joe realizes he’s finally met the woman of his dreams.
But first Joe will have to convince Meg that her dreams really can come true . . .
Click here to read an excerpt on Amazon.
Monday, April 23, 2012
***Judi's winner is Kathleen! Kathleen, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing info. Thank you!***
Sunday, April 22, 2012
***Opal's winners are - Anne, Shelley B., and Chrisbails! Ladies, please email me at email@example.com with your mailing info. Thank you!***
Saturday, April 21, 2012
I know it doesn't sound thrilling or exotic but I realised recently how hectic my life has become. Even weekends seem fully booked with a range of commitments, including writing, and taking a whole afternoon off just to enjoy myself is a real treat.
I grew up in a family who loved getting out in the bush to walk, camp, picnic or just drive and find out what was around the next curve on some quiet dirt road in the country. I always loved the sense of exploration, of being somewhere tantalisingly new, and still have memories stored of forgotten valleys and homesteads glimpsed on a weekend jaunt, which seemed romantic and alluring in the late afternoon sun.
Recently a dear friend, Anna Campbell, came to visit from interstate and we spent a Sunday afternoon driving up to the Hunter Valley of New South Wales (Eastern Australia for those not familiar with it). It was a perfect autumn afternoon and we were pleased with ourselves as we'd worked hard over the weekend and felt we deserved the treat of an afternoon escape.
The Hunter Valley is renowned for its vineyards, its coal and its horse breeding. We focused on the vineyards but no, we didn't stagger from vineyard to vineyard, tasting all afternoon. We were far too busy soaking up the gorgeous day and the terrific scenery. These top two pictures are the view from Tyrell's Vineyard towards the Brokenback Range and then from the Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard, not far away.
We managed to fit in a scrumptious late lunch at a local cafe, and it was wonderful not to cook or clean up afterwards (one of my fave things about a country drive). After all, if you're having the afternoon relaxing from the usual range of chores, time in the kitchen can't be a priority. Isn't this a lovely setting for a meal? Needless to say, we didn't want to move.
One of the things I enjoyed about our drive was the chance to see some of my fave places in the area. We only tried the wine at one vineyard and I chose Tyrrells. It's impossible to choose one 'best' as there are so many terrific producers in the area. But from here there are marvellous views and I've got a soft spot for the old vineyard, one of the oldest in the area. Instead of being all polished and new, the buildings are old and weathered. When you enter the area where the vats and barrels are stored you walk on old hard-packed dirt floor. It's unpretentious and down to earth and about the reality of wine-producing, not just the glamour.
To finish the afternoon we drove to the sleepy hamlet of Wollombi, one of the oldest in the area. We drove along a scenic river valley, past the cave where ages ago a bushranger (outlaw) had hidden from the police. There's not much of
Wollombi to see but the old buildings are worth a look and so is the gorgeous, peaceful old cemetery where some of the first European settlers to the area are buried.
Returning home very late in the day we were tired but satisfied and best of all, someone else did the cooking! Wonderful. We got fresh air, terrific scenery, some delicious wine, great conversation and a glimpse into the past in some wonderfully peaceful valleys. We felt refreshed and ready to tackle the work of another week.
How about you? Do you enjoy the pleasures of a Sunday drive? Are you a picnicker? Camper? Do you seek out markets or craft stores or antique shops? Or do you prefer to stay at home to relax? What is your favourite place to escape on a weekend?
This month my new release UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH is released in the UK (Australia in May and North America in June). To celebrate I'll give away a copy of UNDONE to one person who leaves a comment. You can read about it or read an excerpt on my website or here at Amazon.
Friday, April 20, 2012
I wanted to give you a little preview of my soon-to-be released collection of essays, titled NAKED MAN ON MAIN STREET. Hoping I'll have it available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com and iBookstore within the next week or so so please look for it!
Years ago when I worked as a publicist on Capitol Hill, my overlords were always blathering on about how, as an assistant press secretary to a United States Senator, I was one of an elite group of only one hundred such people in the world — as if to impress upon me the gravity of my position (when in fact I think it was more like they were rationalizing why the pay sucked so much, as in: “There are a lot of people in line for your job, sister, so stop bugging us for a living wage!”).
This is how I’m choosing to view my experience witnessing a stark naked dude quite literally on Main Street, bent over nonchalantly trying to tie his beat-up Converse chucks: I’m among the elite few ever to have been granted such a unique opportunity. I mean how many people have actually found themselves in this bizarre position (shy of someone living on an obscure island in the South Pacific where everyone might wander around naked)?
As a writer I’m an obsessive observer. Some might just chalk this up to ADD, as I’m perpetually distracted from the probably-more-important by whatever far-more-irrelevant is happening around me: quirky behavior, peculiar mode of dress, and other generally weird stuff. My family mantra as it refers to me is: Look! A butterfly! Usually said in my direction accompanied by a pronounced eye roll. No one thinks I’m paying attention; I am, just maybe not to what I should be. So perhaps I’m just more likely to notice the naked man while I’m driving, rather then the car in front of me (though in my defense, the bus blocking my way inevitably led me to gaze off to my right just in time for that perfect epiphanic moment), but I seem to encounter this sort of weirdness in my life more often than others, and frankly I can’t help but write about them. Material, as they say.
So…Naked man on Main Street. Really? This really happened?, you ask. Yep, it did. One of those strange but true things I’ve stumbled upon over the years, something so bizarrely unexpected, I couldn’t help but write about it. Because that’s what I do. I write about stuff. I don’t write epic narratives about great men. I don’t write compendiums of literary discourse that will issue Pen-Faulkner awards my way. I write about nothing. And why not? It worked for Jerry Seinfeld.
I’ve always found that nothing makes the most interesting subject matter. The stuff we all deal with, the day-to-day experiences that have a universality to them that make them fun to share and to empathize with and to just feel better knowing others have dealt with that same nonsense as well. Not that you’ve all encountered a naked man bent over tying his sneakers at ten in the morning while tooling along a city road as I was so lucky to have done, but still.
Once at a writers’ conference I shared a panel with two illustrious literary fiction writers. Their books had received rave reviews from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and a host of other highbrow vetters of all things important in the world of letters. My novel was titled Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. You can imagine how many such publications chose not to review my book. A reader in the audience asked a question about our choosing to write on the panel’s particular subject matter, marriage. I responded that I like to write on themes of universality and like to share this with others, thus I presume (hopefully not wrongly) that others like to share their experiences and impressions as well. One of my fellow panelists, an MFA professor at an elite private university, scoffed at writing to the universal, making a point of saying that he teaches his students not to do this.
Meh…whatever. It works for me.
So about that nude dude. I’d left a morning meeting and was headed home. The little local university bus was virtually parked smack in front of me on the main road. I couldn’t drive around him illegally to the left without risking powering into oncoming cars. I’d hoped to slip to his right but a parked car blocked my egress. So instead I sat in the road cooling my heels, wanting to get home and not wanting to suck in exhaust from the idling bus before me. Out of boredom I glanced over to the sidewalk. It was then that I saw him: pasty white beer gut and other appendages just out there for all to not admire. I wrestled with whether or not to continue seeing him: it’s sort of creepy to stare at a person without any clothes under such circumstances (then again, when isn’t it creepy to stare at a naked person, really?!). But stare I did. While wrestling with whether to whip out my iPhone and snap a picture and immediately upload it to Twitter and Facebook. I didn’t. But I chose, however, lock my car doors, stuck as I was right there, a mere ten feet away from the guy. I sort of regretted not having captured the image for posterity (his posterior! For posterity!); it would’ve been great for a laugh over drinks with friends. But out of respect for the mentally ill, which I presumed he was (because who else would drop trou like that? Granted I live in a college town, and maybe at three in the morning after a wild weekend you might see a thoroughly snookered frat boy doing something so stupid, but aside from that, nada). But oh, the amusing conversations I didn’t get to capitalize on via Twitter and Facebook with that one.
But I did sorta stare. Well, more like peek. How could you not? If you think I might stare a little longer at a dreadlocked guy at the gym contorting himself into bizarre bodily poses dressed in street clothes covered with paint (yes, he’s a regular), or at a woman whose entire visible part of her body is tattooed right up to her chin, well, you can rest assured I couldn’t easily remove my eyes from naked man, if only for the shock factor. Besides, the bus driver hadn’t taken it upon himself to get a move on either; likely he and his passengers were equally transfixed. But I looked around me and realized that only the riders of that bus and me were witnesses to this event, so I figured I might just wanna keep an eye on things, just in case…
Nudey stood tall, a middle-aged man with straggly mouse-brown curly hair (and here you thought my gaze was fixed downward!). He sort of wandered in a circle as if doing the hokey pokey, right in front of a closed restaurant. It was like he didn’t know what to do now that he’d denuded himself of his exterior layer. But then it came to him — his aha! moment: tie your shoes. So he bent down to do just that, mooning me to my chagrin, while he better affixed his ratty black hightops to his feet. As if at that point adorning any part of his body with protection and/or adornment mattered. Once securely fastened to his feet, he stood and paced like an expectant father waiting for the verdict on the sex of his child.
I wondered if I should call the police. But assumed surely the bus driver must’ve already done so — why else would he be stuck in park right there? I wanted to share my weird experience with someone, but how do you do that without actually videotaping it? I wanted to be sure he didn’t have a gun (and felt relief in realizing he had nowhere to hide it under the circumstances). But then I wanted to leave. Because there is only so much you can do when an unstable middle-aged man decides that the best thing to do on a Tuesday morning is to be unclothed in public. So when the bus finally started moving onward, I had no choice but to follow suit. By then someone who’d come out of a nearby bakery was coercing the guy to don his garb.
I tried to imagine how the arresting police officer would handle this: being particularly careful of where he grabbed the guy as he tried to cuff him. Did he line the back seat of the police car with a blanket, protecting the sanitary integrity of the thing? Or did he have to actually dress the guy, down on this knees, front and center, zipping him up like you would a small child? It made me especially glad I wasn’t a cop. Or someone tasked with talking a naked man off the ledge, figuratively. Life’s complicated enough without adding that into the mix.
I hope as you read these selected essays you’ll get a few laughs, find something interesting, maybe even something that reminds you of your own life experiences. Enjoy!
please visit me on twitter and Facebook here and here
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
***Laura's winner is Dina! Dina, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing info. Thank you!***
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
This year has seen one of the driest springs on record. Last week, fires were breaking out all over New Jersey. One fire, in the meadowlands, set the fragmites on fire like piles of crumpled paper and sent huge black plumes into the sky.
Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.