Monday, October 28, 2013

Stop Shaking the Orchid

I feel a bit like Higgins from Magnum, P.I. No, I’m neither portly nor balding; I’m growing orchids. And they haven’t died yet. This is amazing when you think of it, because I’m not good at growing plants. They need water, and I tend to forget that. Or I leave them outside too long and they freeze from cold or burn in the sun. Or I follow the directions exactly and they still die.

But these orchids seem to grow in spite of me. And they’ve rebloomed—twice!

I’m supposed to cut them back once the last blooms fall off. I check the plant every day. I shake it to get the flowers to fall off. And—I think just to spite me—they remain on the stalk. So now what do I do? Do I wait until they fall off on their own? Do I cut the stalk back now? I love the beautiful flowers, but sometimes I’m too busy thinking about the next step, and too afraid of killing it, to really appreciate them.

In that way, growing my orchids is a bit like figuring out the priorities in life. I’m often stretched too thin trying to get my kids from one activity to another to stop and appreciate what they’re actually doing.

The piano lesson has to end on time or we’ll be late for the next activity—except, she’s playing the music so beautifully, I need to stop and listen for a moment.

You need to stop talking so that we can leave—only, you’re actually telling me something important and I need to listen to you.

So I think I’m going to practice not shaking the orchid and try to appreciate the present a bit more. Plenty of other people are late to activities and I haven’t seen anything terrible happen.

The blooms are pretty, so I might as well enjoy them while the plant is still living.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sexy Firefighters, Jewelry and Books, Oh My!

I spent the past weekend at a writer’s conference, the New Jersey Romance Writer’s Dream Big – Write Now Conference. There were two days worth of speakers, workshops, networking and lots of fun.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Romance writers are some of the nicest and most supportive writers around. We think, write and talk about love all day long. It’s almost impossible to be mean.
  • When you “know” people on Twitter and Facebook, you’re greeted like a long-lost friend when you finally meet in person.
  • If you squish on an elevator with a large number of people, someone is probably going to make a comment about the elevator getting stuck. If those people are romance writers, that comment will quickly devolve into a group brainstorming session about firefighters. Sexy ones. Without shirts. If this concerns you, you may want to take the stairs.
  • No one warned me that I should have a script ready for when famous romance authors (like, seriously famous ones—Eloisa James, ConnieBrockway) stop at my table during the book fair and ask me about my books. As a result, I sounded like an idiot.
  • However, if you want to meet famous romance authors, find the breakfast table with the coffee. They will carry their cups around the room looking for a place to sit and you’ll end up with awesome tablemates (VirginiaKantra)!
  • Wear statement jewelry. They’re great conversation starters, especially if, like me, you’re a bit shy.
  • Want an autograph from an author but you have their book on your Kindle/Nook/iPad? Have them sign your leather cover.

 It was a great conference—I can’t wait until next year!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Welcome, Michelle Lowhorn!

I'd like to welcome fellow Rebel author, Michelle Lowhorn to my blog today. She's a brand new author and I'm so happy to have her join me here!


 I’ve always said that I’ve got the two best jobs in the world, mother and teacher.  Now I can add a third, romance author.  Becoming a published writer is a dream come true.  I’m so grateful that Rebel Ink Press is taking a chance on me and publishing my work.  Schooled Book 1 in The Teacher Series is being released today and I’m feeling both excited and nervous.  I’m thrilled that something I’ve dreamed about for most of my life will finally happen.  And anytime you take a chance, you can’t help but worry.
   When I decided to actually write a book, I decided to write about what I know.  I’ve read hundreds of romance novels in all different genres, so I must be an expert about romance.  Right?  Since I’m a full time elementary teacher, it just seemed natural to write a series about teachers.  Oh and I added suspense and my dry sense of humor into the mix. 
    My husband, Randy, and I live in Texas with our two teenagers, Jessie & Nate.  Since I’m very familiar with the towns around Fort Worth, I decided to use them for the backdrop of my series. 
    Voila, The Teacher Series was created!
    Then came the difficult part, I sent the first and second book to the publisher.  I prepared myself for rejection and checked my email a hundred times a day.  One week later, Rebel Ink Press sent me the dreaded email.  Before I clicked the button, I told myself that it didn’t matter if they liked the books or not.  It was in the morning when I opened the email.  Once I realized they were offering me a contract, I started yelling as I ran around the house.
    Since that morning, I’ve learned so much.  I really had no idea what the process entailed.  I guess I thought that I wrote the book and the publisher did everything else.  Boy was I wrong!  Even though the last couple of months have been stressful, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. 
    I’m so blessed to see my dream come true.

Here’s the blurb.

Feisty fourth grade teacher Emmelynne Johnson is fiercely independent and has a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush.  While hiking at an area national park, she finds herself lost and alone.  Just when she thinks she’s found her way, she unknowingly witnesses a brutal murder sanctioned by a local crime boss.
Colt Christianson, homicide detective for the Fort Worth Police Department, is known for his dedication and willingness to do whatever necessary to solve crimes.  Still grieving for his late partner, Colt is called to investigate a murder that has connections to his partner’s death.
When the killers attempt to silence the only witness, the detective switches roles to become her protector.  Together they’ll be forced to fight two battles, one against the killers and one against their burgeoning mutual attraction.

Here’s the excerpt.

“This is my police car, not my personal vehicle.  I spend a lot of time in this car and I end up eating most of my meals sitting in this very seat.  I don’t know the last time it was washed because it isn’t my job to wash the car.  I solve crimes for a living.  I’m not in charge of maintenance.  If it would make you feel better, I can ask my superior for the name of the person who’s responsible for the upkeep on the vehicles.  Maybe you can chew him out.”
“I certainly doubt the city would pay for a worker who only washed cars.  That would be a complete waste of public funds.  My guess is the rest of the police force takes pride in their vehicles and cleans them out once in a while.  Based on the condition of your car, I’m not confident you’re competent to solve this crime.”  Crossing her arms in front of her chest, she turned to the front of the car and ignored the detective.
Taking a deep breath, he dropped it in gear and backed out of the drive.  “My car may not win any beauty pageants, but it’s comfortable and functional.  That’s all that matters.  Would you please give me the address of where I can drop you?  I hope it’s close by.”
Now she’d done it.  For some unknown reason, she always rubbed people the wrong way.  She really didn’t try to piss people off but she just couldn’t control what flew out of her mouth.
 “They warned me that you were a handful but I had no idea,” the detective commented a short time later.  “And here’s a thought, how on earth can you be a teacher when your vocabulary would make a sailor blush?”

To purchase her book:

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's Her Turn Now

We’ve entered the Bat Mitzvah Circuit, Round 2. Round 2 because it is now my younger daughter’s turn.

All of her camp friends, Hebrew school friends and some of her school friends are now having Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Most weekends are taken up with at least one event. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a few weekends off. Having survived it the first time around with my older one, I’m pretty confident I’ll survive this one.

However, I have learned a few things.

      1)   Even though I’m glad she has friends, I’m starting to dread opening the mailbox. However, not opening it is bad for our credit rating, as the bills won’t get paid. The mailman will also start to get annoyed. Better to just grin and bear it.
      2)   Don’t bother buying socks, sweatshirts or pajamas this year. She’ll receive a pair of socks—much cooler than any I can buy on sale and in bulk—at every event she attends. She’ll also receive sweatshirts and pajama pants as favors.
      3)   Use the opportunity to plan weekend or day trips. If I’m going to have to schlep to DC, I might as well enjoy myself! The same goes for a day in Pennsylvania—the farmland is beautiful this time of year.
      4)   Use the time with only one kid to enjoy some mother/daughter, father/daughter bonding time. It doesn’t happen often!
      5)   Let her go to as many as she wants (when possible). It’s a rite of passage and it only happens. It’s her chance to enjoy herself. Don’t be “that” mom if you don’t have to be.
      6)   Be proud when she stresses the importance of the service. It’s about way more than a cool party, and if she gets it, that’s awesome!
      7)   When she understands she can’t attend every single one, let her make the decision about what ones to skip. They’re her friends, let her differentiate—it will make it easier when it comes time to create her invitation list.

Most importantly, realize this is a situation with a definite end in sight. Yes, it will pass. Wine and chocolate will help (don’t they always?). In the meantime, I’m gasing up the car and getting ready for the next road trip.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Judging A Book By Its Cover

Once again, I exhibited at the Collingswood Book Festival this weekend. It was my third year doing this and I had a lot of fun. I met nice readers and writers, and even sold some books.

But by far, the most interesting part of the day was watching people’s reactions to my tent display, which I upgraded from last year. This year, I reproduced the banner on my website ( as an actual banner that I displayed hanging in front of my table. I made my book covers into large border prints that I displayed so that anyone walking by, from any direction, could see them.

As I sat at my table, I watched the people pass and look at my displays. Some of them sneered, as they could obviously tell I wrote romance and quite clearly, it wasn’t for them. Usually, the ones who sneered were women walking alone. Women with children seemed to sneak a peek and continue walking, as if they were afraid to expose their children to my books. Or maybe they didn’t want their guilty pleasure discovered. Women and men, well, they were interesting. The women often took a cursory glance and continued their conversations. The men, however, looked a lot harder and longer at my displays, turning their heads to see all the differently angled displays. It was as if they were getting a peek into a hidden world.

Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of friendly people who said hello as they meandered by and plenty more who stopped to look and to chat (also a couple of weird ones, including one man who wanted to know what typeface my book was printed in, and then tried to argue about the race of one of my cover models). We had some great conversations and I really enjoyed getting to meet them.

There was even one woman who came to my table this year and told me she’d read my first book and wanted to read more. She even described the book she’d read with enough detail that I knew she had actually read it. My husband likes coming with me to the book festival because there are a few authors he likes to repeatedly visit, and it was really cool to be “that author” for someone else.

Once again, it was a terrific experience and I’m looking forward to next year. And hey, at least I know my signs made an impact! J