FRIDAY THE 13TH

My mom is superstitious, so she has always told us to be careful when that ominous date occurred.  Her birthday is on the 13th of November, and we like to tease her when it falls on a Friday.  But, it wasn’t until 1980 that Friday the 13th became more than just a harbinger for bad luck.  The movie with the same title was released on May 9th of that year.

It was almost forty years ago (OMG), but I still remember going to the theater to see this slasher hit.  For those days, it was pretty graphic and a different sort of horror film from the ghosts, werewolves, and vampire movies I’ve been a huge fan of since I was a little girl.

I won’t lie. It scared the crap out of me. But, I loved it. Through the years that film has provided my family with numerous party themes. The movie was filmed at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, which is a Boy Scout’s camp located in Hardwick, New Jersey I recently read that fans of the movie can take tours of the camp and even spend the night on special occasions. How fun (and scary) would that be?

Tonight I plan to pop the cork on a bottle of wine and watch this classic old movie again.  Jason Voorhees was never better than he was in the original film as far as I’m concerned.  Happy Friday the 13th.  Stay safe.    

THE PROMISE

Part One

It’s just two little words.  I promise.  You say those words so easily, usually without thinking of the depth of commitment they might entail.  You might promise you won’t flake out on your friends the next time they invite you to go somewhere.  Maybe you make promises to yourself that you’ll stop eating junk food or that you will exercise every day.  Most promises are easily broken or forgotten.  But, there are some promises that when made, weighs heavy in your heart, like a thick mire that continues to grow until it consumes all of you.  It’s a promise you know you can’t break. A promise made to someone on their dying bed is that sort of devout pledge.

Four and a half years ago I made a promise to my dad that I would take care of mom, which meant not putting her in a nursing home.  It was the last thing I would say to him before he took his final breath, other than how much I loved him.  I promise. Those two little words would be the start of an undertaking that has been like nothing I’ve ever imagined.  To say I was completely unprepared and naïve would be an understatement.

Both of my parents have always had an abnormal fear of being put into a nursing home. Years ago they made a pact with each other that if either of them ever had to go to a nursing home, they would commit some horrible act so that they could die together.  I would always get furious whenever they started talking about this, and would leave the room because I didn’t want to hear this insane talk from them.  But, not before I would tell them I would take care of them when they got older so they didn’t have to worry about it, anyway.  It’s the kind of thing you say when you can’t imagine it will ever happen. 

Mom and dad had been married for sixty-six years when dad unexpectedly passed away from congestive heart failure.  I thought he was superman and he would live to be a hundred years old.  Mom, who had always been the frail one, and was several years older than dad, was the first one I expected to lose.  They had always taken care of each other, but after mom had a stoke fifteen years ago, Dad took over most of the household responsibilities.  In retrospective, I know that had mom gone before dad, he would have executed his plan to be with her.  So, I guess it was a blessing he went first.

The heartbreaking day dad passed away was also the day I became a caregiver.  Friends and family are constantly telling me what a saint I am for taking care of my elderly mom, or else they tell me I’m crazy not to put her in a nursing home.  Well, I’m definitely not a saint, and although, I do feel little crazy most of the time, I’m not certifiable…yet.  I am just a daughter who made a promise to my dying dad that I would take care of mom. 

To be continued…

For my amazing dad.  I miss him so much. 

Being a caregiver has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  When it’s over, I have no doubts I will look back and know it was also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  But, the day to day reality of caring for a ninety-five year old senior is overwhelming at times…most times.  For a while, I’m going to write about those intense feelings in this blog.

 Even though I started this blog to promote my book writing, I feel that writing about this difficult period in my life will be therapeutic for me in all aspects of my life. I’m not going to sugar-coat the struggles mom and I have on a regular basis.  But, I am NOT looking for sympathy here, even though I’m sure there will be some poor-pitiful-me posts in this series.  However, if you’ve ever been a caretaker for someone, whether old or disabled, and you have advice for me, that is always greatly appreciated.  Thank you for sharing this challenging journey with me.

SWITCHING GENRES

Is it a mistake to try to take your writing career in a different direction if you are already established in one certain genre?  If you’ve been following my crazy writing life throughout the years, you know cowboys and Indians are my first love, but I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing something in the horror genre, too.  After eleven Historical Romances, I finally decided to give it a go.  I spent (or wasted) three years completely obsessed with trying to write a paranormal contemporary romance about vampires.  This project was in completely new territory for me. Everything I had written up to that point was about the Old West, a subject I had been enthusiastic about my entire life.  I had a really hard time finding my ‘contemporary’ voice, but once I finally found it, creating my vampire fantasy world was the most fun I’ve ever had while writing a book.  Unfortunately, I have been trying to find a publisher for this book for over a year, and that hasn’t been any fun at all.  Excuse me for a second while I toot my own horn here, but I just don’t get it?  In my humble opinion (and also in my daughter’s opinion) this vampire book is the best thing I’ve ever written.  Okay, I know, we don’t really count.

My plan was to write a series of at least three vampire books about the ‘Blood Clan’ that I was introducing in the first paranormal contemporary romance.  But whenever I try to work on the second book in this saga, I feel like I’m wasting my time…again.  If the first book never sells, why should I be writing a second one?

I’ve tried to write a new historical.  I keep wondering if it’s the genre I really should stick with because I’ve had a measure of success with my first eleven historical romances.  But, every time I try to work on the historical I start to feel guilty about spending my limited writing time working on something other than the second paranormal.  What if a publisher finally wants to buy the first one, and I’m not ready with the second book in the series?

In an attempt to try something entirely different and to get my mind off of my obsession with the paranormal book, I started writing a contemporary erotica, but after the first fifty or so pages I decided this genre just isn’t for me.  Although, I  loved writing the love scenes in my previous books, I’ve decided I’m just a bit too old fashioned to compete with the new and totally uninhibited writers of erotica, which by the way, I do love to read.  Instead, I’ll just continue to write my mildly explicate and beautifully romantic love scenes, while being totally jealous of all those writers who can write really explicate (and sometimes really raunchy) sex scenes that make me quiver and sweat in all ‘those’ places.  So, basically my attempt to venture into another unfamiliar genre was just another waste of my time and energy.

Rejection is the bane of a writer’s existence, but I have to admit, I was a bit spoiled.  Until the past year and the four rejections I’ve received for the paranormal, my first eleven books were published without a single rejection.  Of course I know how lucky I was, and perhaps now I’m paying my dues.  As a writer I’ve learned I have no choice but to be patient, because everything in the publishing world takes an extremely long time to accomplish.  But, it’s still hard to wait anywhere from four weeks to twelve weeks after sending out a query or the entire manuscript—no wait, it’s far worse than hard—it’s downright agonizing to wait so long just to get a form rejection email, or a quick reply from an editorial assistant that they are no longer reading vampire submissions.  Speaking of long, I guess I have no one to blame but myself since it took me too long to write my vampire book and the market is no longer hot for books about this subject.  But, I can’t help but ask myself, did I also make a drastic mistake by trying to switch genres when I was already an established author in another genre?

Now here I sit confused about what direction to take my writing career at this point in time.  It’s been so long since I sold a book (four years) I’m beginning to feel like I’ve lost all my writing mojo.  Every time I post something about writing on any of my social media sites I feel like a has-been who has no business even having a writing site anymore.  I know I just need to keep writing, but should I keep working on another historical romance or the next paranormal contemporary romance in my series?  I love both genres, but I can’t write two books at the same time.  Of course, this wouldn’t even be an issue if I would just sell that darn vampire book, but until that happens (positive thinking here) I have to figure out which genre I can be the most passionate about writing right now, and I need to do it soon before the last of that mojo-thing is completely gone.  Decisions…decisions…

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WHITE OWL

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!!!,
This review is from: White Owl (Kindle Edition)
This book was simply wonderful!!! I couldn’t put it down and was so good I read it twice!!! A native american version of Romeo and Juliet. It’s a must read! The writer wrote in such beautiful description I felt as if I was there!

A Ute warrior will risk his honor and his life to claim the redheaded beauty who has captured his heart.

http://t.co/5oDWpAljjJ

WHITE%20OWL[1]

BLACK HORSE

Adopted by the Sioux as a young child, Meadow thinks of herself as one of the People, until a white visitor to their camp notices her pale coloring and begins to question her background. On the verge of consummating her vows with the virile young chief who’s captured her heart, she is torn from the life she loves while he must risk his freedom to rescue her.
 
5.0 out of 5 stars Black horse, January 1, 2014
This review is from: Black Horse (Kindle Edition)
I do not ever spend a whole day reading a book, but this one I could not put down! A page turner to remember! I have read many books by many authors in my life…but this is the best I have ever read! This author is a genius.
 
Excerpt:

“What do you think will become of us?” Meadow asked Black Horse as they continued on their endless journey.

A heavy sigh echoed from the war chief before he finally spoke. “I wish I could tell you that everything would turn out the way Wakan Tanka meant for it to be for our people…that our bellies would always be full of buffalo and sweet berries and that the white men would go back to their own lands and leave us to live in peace on the lands that have belonged to us since the beginning of time. But that is apparently not what destiny holds for us. We will continue to fight with our enemies, and every single day will continue to be a struggle for our people. Yet, in spite of all of that—and because of all of that—we will always, always find a way to survive. We will have many children so that our people will never fade away completely, and most of all, we will love one another with a passion that cannot be equaled until we take our last dying breath.”

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BT8WB2M/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

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TEXAS ROSE

December 9 is a special date for me.  It is the anniversary of the day I sent a query letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters of my first manuscript, TEXAS ROSE, off in the mail to three publishers in New York.  I remember that day like it was yesterday, although it was twenty-six years ago.  As crazy as it sounds, I even remember what I was wearing on that day so long ago.  Nine days after mailing off those packets of precious words, I received a letter from one of those publishers; one day later, I received another letter from a second one, and few days later, I got a phone call from the third publisher.  As hard as it is to believe, all three of those publishers wanted to see my entire manuscript and all of them offered me a contract within days of reviewing my complete book.  My first venture into querying publishers for my first manuscript, and I did not receive one rejection.  It’s rare that I mention this little bit of information, because most people act like I’m making it up.  But, I swear, it’s the absolute truth.

I chose to sell my manuscript to Kensington Publishing for their Zebra Romance line of paperbacks.   December 30—just 21 days after I sent out those first queries—I was cooking French toast for my children’s breakfast when the phone rang.  A woman with a very distinct East Coast accent was on the other end, and she was telling me that she was an editor with Kensington Publishing, and they wanted to buy my book.  Holy crap!  Of course, I said YES!  The French toast was forgotten after I hung up, and while I jumped around cheering and fist-pumping the air, until the entire house began to fill with smoke and the smell of burning bread.  It’s a story my children still like to tell at gatherings.

Now, all these years later, I’m spending this day reflecting back on all the happy moments, and less than happy moments, of my literary career.  I could write a dozen blog posts about all the mistakes I’ve made where my writing is concerned, but I want to celebrate TEXAS ROSE today.  This Historical Romance made number nine on the paperback bestseller list and the beautiful cover won an award for the cover artist.

TEXAS ROSE, which I had originally entitled, FORBIDDEN TRAILS, was a story that was almost never told.  I had written it when my oldest son was just a baby, but I was afraid to show it to anyone because (gasp) it had some rather explicit love scenes in it, and back in the 1970’s there were not too many books with eleven sexually candid love scenes in them.  Yes, I overdosed on sex in that first book.   The entire 523 page manuscript was hidden at the back of a book shelf for nearly ten years.  Occasionally, I would get it out and read it, and dream about seeing it as a real book on a real bookshelf in a real bookstore.  But, my husband at the time told me that probably all bored housewives wrote trashy romance novels, so back into hiding it went.

One day I happened to mention my secret manuscript and writing ambitions to a close friend.  She demanded to read it.  I was nervous, but dusted it off and let her have at it.  Her reaction was more than I ever could have imagined, and it was her enthusiasm that finally gave me the courage to seek my goal of becoming a published author.

The manuscript went into the trunk of my car with the plan to revise and edit all of it at the local library where no one would know what I was up to.  This was before I even had a computer, so everything up to this point was done on a typewriter.  But, in my trunk, a full bottle of brake fluid spilt on the stack of pages and nearly all of the manuscript was close to being unreadable.  I was crushed and certain it was a sign that I shouldn’t be wasting my time with this book.  I now had three children to raise and that very unsupportive husband who would get angry every time I even mentioned my writing.  “No way was I giving up,” said my friend who had read the manuscript and encouraged me to find a publisher for this book.   This wonderful woman took that pile of red stained smeared mess, and with a magnifying glass, she retyped every single word of that book.  I knew her unselfish devotion to my writing was the real sign that I was not meant to give up on my dream, and I will be indebted to Roseina Whitecotton for the rest of my life.

TEXAS ROSE is a sprawling tale of love, lust and greed among the Texas cattle barons in the late 1800’s.  My heroine, Lisa Parker, is basically my alter ego.  Every emotion, desire or fantasy I’d ever had up to that time in my life was poured into her character.  Her hero, Buck Randell, was my ultimate fantasy man.  Although I feel my writing has vastly improved (I hope), Lisa and Buck will always be my most special couple, because they were my first, and you know what they say, your first will always hold a special place in your heart.

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THE DEATH OF A MANUSCRIPT

Revisions.  That part of writing where—after you’ve celebrated writing ‘THE END’ and thought you were some big shot because you did finish a whole book; you imagine your name on the New York Times Best Seller List, and start picking out the stars you think should play your hero and heroine in the movie version–you then go back and rip the guts out of your first draft.   Now, you are standing there with nothing more than bloody entrails of what was so recently your ticket to fame and fortune.

Wait?  You didn’t really think you were finished just because you wrote those two final (THE END) words, did you?  Ha!

Cowboy Up, Cupcake.   This massive operation isn’t over yet.  Hook up the heart monitor, because the writing process isn’t for weaklings.

Sure, you’ve birthed a complete manuscript, but it’s only a pitiful little skeleton of what it needs to be before you’re ready to send your brilliant creation out into the cold cruel world.  Take that scrawny baby, print it out and get a new bright red pen.  For me, the printed version looks nothing like or reads nothing like the version on the computer screen.  Then, pour some wine, or make a pot of coffee, grab lots of chocolate and settle in for the slaughter.   With knife—er—I mean, pen in hand read those words like you want to slash the fricking life out of them.   That’s what an agent or editor is going to do if your manuscript isn’t up to par when you send it out to them.   They don’t care that every word of your incredible work of genius was lovingly written with passion and devotion.   Don’t make them gag on your words because you were too anxious to give your masterpiece its wings, and didn’t complete the entire (painful) writing process before letting it fly.

At this early stage of the revision cycle I’m really excited to start reading through that entire rough draft for the first time.  Usually, it’s been a long while since I initially began writing the book to the time when I’m ready to do revisions, so it’s somewhat like that feeling I get when I’m going to see an old lover who used to make my toes curl and my socks roll up and down.  I’m all giddy and excited at the possibility of seeing him again after such a long time; I’m fantasizing about taking a hippity-hoppity skip down lover’s lane.   But, then he shows up, a total loser now, and fatter than I am, and I’m not so turned on any more.   That’s usually how I’m feeling about my first draft after a few chapters, too.   As I hack through page after page with gory red marks, notes in the margins, and huge what-the-Hell-was I thinking question marks, my enthusiasm quickly wanes.   I wonder why I had been so excited about this book, because seriously, it’s total crap.   This is where self-rejection sets in, and I’m truly my own worst enemy when it comes to my writing career.

About this time, I also start avoiding the wounded pile of red slathered vile like it has a sexually transmitted disease.   I stop bragging to my friends and to random strangers on the street about my new book.  Instead of working extra hard to fix all the problems with the poor bloody babe I’ve just shredded to bits like yesterday’s recycling, I start running blindly into the dark.   I spend my nights trolling Pinterest, cyber-stalking Facebook friends, cleaning out my Yahoo emails, and writing blog posts about revisions.   I listen to old songs I never really liked all that much.   I’m just a hot mess.

This lowly period could last a day, a month, forever.   Fear of failure is a paralyzing  emotion.   If you give into it, you will absolutely fail.   So, let yourself wallow in self-pity for a short span of time, but not long enough to let your evasiveness take control of that dream you had of publishing this book, or it will remain just that…an elusive dream.   Get a shot of penicillin and get your butt back to work.

The next phase of this major surgery really isn’t as bad as you might think.  You’ve already found the major issues such as where your heroine has blue eyes like the azure sky in one scene and hazel like the desert landscape in another scene, or you hero’s father is named Harley in the beginning of the book and Jack about mid-way through.  You’ve wrote everything from ‘puke’ to ‘you suck’ on all the scenes that really did suck and made you want to upchuck, and wrote ‘good job’ on the scenes that were so good you just had to point that out to yourself.   Now, you merely have to sit down in that chair in front of the computer—you know, the one that has started to resemble an electric chair that you must avoid at all costs—and just do it.   Stitch up all those jagged wounds you made with that evil red pen, sooth your baby’s pain, and let the healing begin.

Wow.  This second draft is so damn good.  Who knew you could write like that?  Who should play your hero in the movie?   Get real.

It’s time to get out the scalpel and do another major surgery.  Yeah, that’s right, round two.  Not as painful as the deep cuts of those first revisions, in my humble opinion, but equally as important.   I’ll talk about my next revision phase in another blog post.  I hope you’ll stop back by and join me.   Bring wine or coffee, lots of chocolate, oh yes, and a mirror.   Guess you’ll just have to wait until next time to find out what we’re going to do with that mirror.

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MY WILD ‘SECRET’ NIGHTLIFE

There’s a ankle-length dark green trench coat I wear when it’s not cold enough for a heavy winter coat.  Every time I slip it on, I feel like a secret agent and I have a little fantasy lasting a couple of minutes about a passionate rendezvous with some sexy James Bond type along the white sands of the Riviera.  This morning, as my mind filled with images of gentle waves lapping up on the shore where my fantasy lover is sensually rubbing oil into my wet sun-drenched skin—still aglow from our recent lovemaking—it occurred to me that I really do lead a ‘secret’ double life.

By day, I’m just a typical average type person, doing mundane everyday things at the office job that pays the bills, running errands on my lunch-hour, rushing home in the evening to do the normal type chores that finish off the remainder of my day.   But, as the last glow of the hazy twilight fades from the darkening sky, and night-time encompasses my little corner of the world, my wild ‘secret’ nightlife begins.

On a typical night, you’ll find me meeting a tall dangerous stranger at some exotic locale, or maybe engaging in some perilous journey sure to lead to a night of sweaty animalistic sex or sweet tempestuous love.   I might spend the entire night helping to cover up some dastardly deed, or maybe even (gasp) kill someone off.   Whatever my nightlife has in store for me, you can be assured it’s going to be the polar opposite of my daytime activities.

Do I work for an exclusive high rolling escort service, you might ask?  A fast talking pimp down on some seedy street corner?  Am I really a double agent who works under the cover of darkness and only pretends to live a normal type life in the glaring light of day to conceal the secret life I really live?   Ha!

I’m just a writer.

When I delve into this exhilarating world I create with my wild imagination, I become those electrifying characters I’ve conceived,  and I’m living their bigger than life escapades.  There is no place I’d rather be, well, unless I could live the ‘real’ adventures, of course.   Sigh.   But, oh baby, here in my secret fantasy world the possibilities are endless!

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WRITING AND RANDOM THOUGHTS BLOG POST

I found this article on a great site: Writing and Random Thoughts and it really struck a cord with me.  For weeks I have been trying to decide what I should do about the money Dorchester Publishing owes to me and the two books I wrote for them, which are basically lost to me…I can’t even get copies for future events, but after reading this it sounds like there is nothing I can do.  Authors are just “above pond scum” when it comes to the legal issues of a publisher going bankrupt.  Wow, I really feel special now!

http://rehunter.org/2012/03/08/what-happens-to-authors-when-their-publisher-hits-the-wall/

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