Monday, December 30, 2013

Do I Drop the F-Bomb?

Many years ago, in my first Creative Writing class, I wasn't wowed by one of the other students like the instructor was. I have to admit, he certainly was easy on the eyes. Watching him read his short stories was...pleasurable - his hair had that who-cares-I-look-like-this-when-I-wake casualness, he always had a two day growth beard, his jeans had just the right amount of holes. And all of this long before it was stylish. But listening to his stories - nah, not so impressive. He used a heavy sprinkling of four-letter words, dropping the F-bomb frequently. This seemed to impress the instructor. I've always felt there are so many more descriptive words in the English language that the use of profanity just isn't needed.

Nowadays, profanity is expected in all forms of art. I avoided using them for a long time. It wasn't that I hadn't heard those colorful words or that they made me uncomfortable. I grew up with a father that worked construction most of his life. I think the only men who swear more than construction workers are sailors. At least, the saying "swears like a sailor" must be an indication. Eventually, in the name of realistic dialogue, my own writing became laced with a few four-letter expletives. I write contemporary for the most part, and all you have to do is stand in a shopping mall near a group of high school students to get the feel for contemporary language. Luckily, I don't write teenagers. I've been able to sprinkle the realistic dialogue with everyday guttural words but avoid the F-bomb.

Where am I going with this? My current work in progress has a character that keeps threatening use of the avoided word. So far, I've held him at bay with the alternative word friggin'. My husband just read my rough draft. He's not a romance reader but when I write a romantic suspense, he always gives me good feedback. He knows how to help me beef up the suspense. Well, this time he says I'm half-stepping. The guy's a murderer and crass. He wouldn't pussyfoot with his swearing. Ah man...really?

If my bad guy doesn't come off bad in a realistic way, I'm sunk.

So what to do? I've sent off a letter to my editor for some direction. My critique partners are mixed on their opinions. I'll be starting revisions in the next week so I really need to make a decision and go for it. I don't think my publisher would want to see %$#& just because I have trouble putting the word to paper.

Would love to hear any and all opinions on my dilemma from a writer's point of view as well as a reader's feelings on the subject.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Writing Saved Me by Katya Armock

Please welcome Katya to Fearless Friday. She has a touching real life experience I know you'll want to read.
Five years ago, I had a stable job that paid well and could draw the arc of my career in a logical, ordered way. I had it all according to many people’s definition of success. The problem was I felt incredibly depressed, stressed and angry. My body couldn’t take the insomnia, the repression of negative emotions or the fact I like to eat when I’m upset. I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Thank the powers that be for my husband’s diligence to see me through, a supportive friend and some unknown inner strength to change.
It didn’t happen overnight, but I took baby steps toward change, and that in and of itself lessened my burden. I started by asking my employer if I could work part-time. They agreed. I did this for about a year while I researched other options for a potential career change. I worked with the Enneagram, read The Pathfinder and took several courses through Landmark Education. I finally decided to pursue a degree in Veterinary Technology.
My ego made this a harder decision than perhaps it should have been. To be a vet tech, you get an associate’s degree. I already had a master’s in social science. It also paid a whole lot less than my current job. Yet I took a part-time vet assistant job and started back to school.
In many ways I loved what I was doing. Working with animals had been a hobby for most of my life and now it was my vocation. As the program went on, it became apparent that changing my life was not going to be such a smooth road. I didn’t excel at some of the hands-on work. I also suffered two injuries. The second was a bulging disk in my back that pretty much ended my career before it even really began. The physical work of restraining large dogs and standing for hours on end just wasn’t possible with the way my injury manifested, and after months of treatment and physical therapy, it was obvious that this was going to be a lifelong condition I would need to manage.
I felt like I wasted the last two years going to school for a degree I now couldn’t use and working at a low paying job. My ego reared its ugly head again, telling me I’d ruined my life. I fell into depression again. It didn’t help that I took a third shift office job that showed me that sitting and doing menial tasks ended in back pain too.
I started to think again about writing. I once dreamed of being a writer when I was in college. Back then I was a good deal less jaded than the demands of bills and my own expectations for a certain standard of living made me over the years. I had once enjoyed it just for the fun of the experience, but when I tried to turn it into a career, the passion became drudgery. With all I’d learned about myself and life, I began to wonder if I couldn’t try writing again with a different attitude. This time I’d do it for fun—and only fun.
I started out on a romance, writing off and on. I went to RT with a friend and found it invigorating. I completed my manuscript and entered it in my local RWA Chapter’s writing contest thanks to a friend who kept pestering me to just do it. Turns out I placed second and got some very helpful feedback from the judges. I decided to pitch it to some small presses. All four asked to see the manuscript and two offered me contracts.
A few years later, I now have two books published. Some days my ego runs rampant telling me I ought to try to make more money and push myself until my eyes or fingers bleed just to churn out books to sell. So far I’ve pulled myself back from the brink and remembered I’m doing this for fun, and the little bit of money I make is just a perk.
And I even found a way to use my Veterinary Technology degree. I also pet sit part-time, which is much easier on my back, lets me set my own hours, and still lets me work with animals. My degree has helped me market myself—especially to owners with older pets or those with medical conditions.
Is my life perfect? Nope. But I don’t expect it to be. Do I have bad days? Yes. I still struggle with depression and the difficulties of dealing with chronic pain and physical limitation. But I am blessed in so many ways, and for that I am grateful.
 Author Bio:
I like books that are funny and fun to read (and hot!) but also make me think or look at the world in a new way. My first two books, To Hiss or to Kiss and To Growl or to Groan, are steamy paranormal romances featuring a jaguar shape-shifter and an animal psychic. Book Three of the Hidden Lines trilogy is in the works and is tentatively titled To Snarl or to Snuggle.
These days you’ll find me writing, pet sitting, juggling a number of freelance gigs, and reigning as my home’s domestic goddess. I live in the Midwestern U.S. with my husband, dog and cats. Alas, I have, as of yet, been unable to teach my husband how to purr.
Her gift could save a missing girl…or destroy her relationship forever.

After receiving a troubling Tarot reading, Chloe just knows something big and bad is about to happen. Her ability to communicate with animals and shape-shifters is going awry, and her growing psychic abilities are beginning to scare her. Despite her unease, she won’t let anything interrupt her trip to Scotland to spend the holidays with her shape-shifter boyfriend’s family. Jorge is everything she’s always wanted, and the fire between Chloe and the passionate panther-shifter burns hot. But meeting his family has her nerves in knots.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Any Drugs in Your Bag, Santa

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
I do love the Christmas season, but have to be honest, this one makes the record books for all the wrong reasons. Oh wait - one very right reason - Sadi Belle and her very first Solstice/Christmas. My beautiful granddaughter is just nine months old, so much of the traditions meant nothing to her. But we sure had fun. She started to get the hang of tearing off wrapping paper by the third go round. She had a little practice. We do Solstice and Christmas, and keep in mind there are two sides to the family with separate celebrations which meant a few packages to unwrap.

Christie's homemade cream of broccoli soup on Solstice
Solstice was a lovely celebration, but I'm sure we would've all enjoyed it more if my husband hadn't been ill. All of our veggies were from our fields, as is our tradition. Christie made broccoli soup using what we froze during the summer. Our leg of lamb roasted in the oven surrounded by sweet potatoes, golden potatoes and carrots - all from our fields. We had a thankful, quiet Solstice.

Frank continued to worsen, so he missed going down to Phoenix for the family Christmas. I woke up Christmas morning sick, but I made the trek down by myself to deliver and pick up packages.The brunch was great but my energy waned and I left early.

We also have the battle to get enough out of our totaled car simmering on our minds. The first offer was ridiculously low. Only days before Christmas a woman in a mini-van ran a light and totaled our car. My hand is still recovering and luckily the only damage. I've never had airbags deploy. Quite a scare. The week before that accident, my husband was caught in a squall on Lake Mohave. He ended up in the rocks but not hurt. His boat on the other hand is undergoing $10,000 in repairs. Oh my...glad for insurance. He won't touch the water again for another six weeks.

The symbolic Solstice fire.
So...this has been an eventful Christmas season.We figure fate got it out of her system all at once at the end of our 2013. Jeez. Thirteen used to be our lucky number.

I hope your December was eventful in many good ways!

Monday, December 23, 2013

How I Love Templeton Cove! by Rachel Brimble

Please welcome Rachel Brimble to Muse Monday. She has a fun "getting published" story for us.
When Harlequin Superromance accepted my seventh completed novel, “Finding Justice”, it was one of the most fulfilling and happiest days of my life. When my agent told me four months later they wanted to contract a second book, I practically fell over in a dead faint!

The books were linked – set in the fictional town I created and loved. Templeton Cove is a UK seaside town and all the characters in my books so far, are British. When I learned British set stories, with British characters was a Superromance first, I was so damn proud J

So, of course, with books one and two contracted, I began to get excited that I could possibly have a series on my hands. As a huge fan of Nora Roberts’ trilogies and series, Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series and Jill Shalvis Lucky Harbor series, it has always been my dream to write a series of linked books where I can not just focus on the protagonists but the cast of support characters too.

Just this past May, I signed for books three, four and five. Templeton Cove is well and truly on the UK map and I really hope the series continues to run for as long as my ideas continue to form. The first in the series, Finding Justice, centers around Cat Forrester and Jay Garrett, childhood friends who are reunited when a mutual friend is murdered and Jay becomes the prime suspect. It turns into a race against time to clear Jay’s name…and fight his and Cat’s simmering attraction.

Book 2, A Man Like Him, centers around Chris Forrester (Cat’s brother) and Angela Taylor, a woman in hiding at the Cove.  When a flash flood means Chris and Angela appear on the front page of the national press in an embrace, Angela knows it’s only a matter of time before her violent ex-husband finds her…

I really hope one (or both!) of these stories catches your interest and leads you to follow me as I pen more adventures from beautiful and mysterious Templeton Cove!

Finding Justice blurb & buy links:

Old friends, new secrets 

Sergeant Cat Forrester lives by her own set of rules. When her childhood friend is murdered, Cat's world is thrown into chaos. Especially because Jay Garrett-a man from her past-is a suspect, and he needs her help to prove he's innocent. After all they once shared, how can she say no? 

The attraction flares between them, and getting involved with a suspect is a huge risk. But the more time Cat spends with Jay, the stronger the tug on her heart. He is the same caring, irresistible man she remembers. Yet she can't let her emotions interfere with the case—solving it is top priority. But as she digs deeper, she discovers Jay has secrets that may jeopardize any possible future together.


A Man Like Him blurb & buy links:

Changing her life...again 

After two years in hiding, Angela Taylor knows her independence is worth it. As long as she can escape her past, she has everything under control. Until a flash flood hits the park where she works, and hot Chris Forrester shows up the exact moment she needs a hero. 

Chris proves he can save lives-and weaken a girl's knees. But how can she make him understand that she's off-limits, that getting close to her will endanger his life? Her happiness or his safety: it shouldn't even be a choice.

Because when you love someone, you protect them, no matter the cost. At least, that's what Angela keeps telling herself....

Rachel’s bio:

Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK.  After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington--her debut was released in April 2013 and she has since signed for three more.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family and beloved black Lab, Max. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Monday, December 16, 2013


It's that time again, when the book is in edits, and I get the cover art from the artist. This can be the moment when I do the crazy dance of excitement or tears of disappointment trickle down my face. I've had it both ways.

When I published my first book, I had no idea how important a cover can be. I'd never purchased a book because of cover appeal. And since a cover had never influenced me, I didn't realize how much a cover can make or break a book.

I've been lucky enough to work with the artists on some of my books, but on others, all I've been able to do is make a vague suggestion and hope for the best. That method has not always made me happy.

Since I sort of fell into writing romance, I thought no way did I want the typical romance cover with some hunky hero and/or gorgeous heroine. What was I thinking? Ah, but I'm so much wiser now. I've embraced my genre. It also helps to have an artist that seems to know my mind better than I do at times.

I wish I could reveal my cover for my next book, The Art of Love and Murder. I've seen the prototype, and Rae has done it again! Yes, I'm doing the crazy dance of excitement. I'll give you a hint. The models are Jimmy and Ionica who are the models for this blog header and the main page on my web site. As soon as the publisher puts their stamp of approval on it, I'll post the cover.

Meanwhile, it's only two days until the worldwide release of Amanda in the Summer, my short eBook from The Wild Rose Press. Until now the book has been available only on Amazon. As of the 18th, Amanda will be available wherever eBooks are sold.

This beautiful cover is the handy work of the same artist, Rae Monet.

Buy Links:

The Wild Rose Press:


Friday, December 13, 2013

FEARLESSNESS by Mary Kennedy Eastham

I'm sure you'll all enjoy my guest today, Mary Kennedy Eastham. How fearless is she?

Thank you Brenda Whiteside for finally letting me have a go at one of my favorite words! Fearlessness reminds me of a quote I keep nearby for those times when I'm sensing I need to do something, that nagging something that may not be easy to do.

...The day came when
the risk to remain
tight in a bud
was more painful
than the risk it took
to blossom...

How do we as writers do that with our characters, release their fearlessness, making our stories more complex and memorable? Since actress Jennifer Lawrence at 23 was just named one of the most powerful women of 2013 in the latest issue of the Hollywood Reporter, it reminded me that we all need to HUNGER GAMES up our stories. Katniss Everdeen moves toward everything with zest and a fearless abundance of courage. She has her downfalls before hitting her stride but she never wavers. A life woven with threads of fearlessness doesn't come without some loss.

To give you an example from my own life, I am separated from my husband of 20 years. My heart tells me it's time to move on, sell my house, take my dogs someplace else, probably Southern California where I have some friends and where I'm hoping to connect with a more creative life than here in Silicon Valley, a place that is completely foreign to me skill-wise. But it's comfortable. My house is beautiful. And the mortgage is paid down to a place where it's very doable financially. But in spite of all my design tricks and talent, to include building a beach in the back yard, this is the house I shared with my husband. Just when I think I'm doing so well, a memory knocks me off-center and for that moment or afternoon I'm divorce mush. So there you have it, my occasional LACK of fearlessness!

We all look for solutions in our own life and with our characters. I've tried to break fearlessness down into baby steps. For me, that is making a January trip to LA to see what's what about renting a small house maybe or finding one of those temporary Residence Inns that takes dogs so I can see if this is a good plan for me.  The View is on in the background as I write this post. Actress Julianne Moore who has always said acting is a freelance gig so who knows if or where the next movie might be, shared this story with the panel. A few years ago, vacationing with her family on the beach, while her daughter was out playing ping-pong, she picked up her Hunger Games book and couldn't put it down. She called her agent and said, 'Get me in one of these movies.' In 2014, Julianne Moore is going to be in the next Hunger Games movie. Fearlessness is seeing an opportunity and just going for it. I wish this for myself, for my wonderful characters
and for all of you.

 For more info about my creative life and books, my amazing publishers keep an updated website for me at: