Random Musings

The last time I did a “Random Musing Sunday,” I talked about serial killers wearing my skin as a prom dress.

Not this time. Today’s general musings are the things I’ve learned over the course of the last week.

The weekend, we had Thanksgiving in the United States. A day that is typically reserved for family and friends, and a day when we give thanks for all that we have. So while this is rather belated, I thought I’d list the top six things I was thankful for this weekend.

1. Friends. We went over to a friend’s house this weekend, and the kids played together while the adults chatted and cooked. It was fun and the kids enjoyed themselves. To top it off, there was no drama. My friend even said she was glad that we were coming over, because she didn’t have to worry about cleaning her house (probably because my house is messier. I don’t try to hide the fact that my house is a bit chaotic. But yeah, if I’m coming over, don’t worry about cleaning up. I don’t care).

2. Going out to the middle of nowhere to cut down a Christmas tree is fun, and a great way to spend the  morning of Black Friday. Lots of exercise and fresh air, and the kids slept the whole way back. It was awesome.

3. I am thankful I didn’t participate in Black Friday. Yes, the deals are fantastic. But I’m not going to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go shopping. There is nothing on the face of this earth I need that badly (except a great book contract. I’d get up at 4:30 for one of those. Unfortunately, I don’t think they can be bought. As much as I would like to go shopping at HarperCollins or Kensington Publishing for a contract, something tells me that’s not how it works.)

4. I am thankful for the husband and the kids. They are sweet and funny, and it was fun spending the last four days with them. They are not number four on this list. They are the  light of my life and the reason my heart beats. They are the reason I get up in the morning (and not just because Chewy likes to get up at 4:00am), and they are the last things I think about before I go to sleep.

5. And finally, I am thankful for the little things, things that might not always look like blessings. I am thankful for pants in husky sizes. I am thankful for shoes that light up, cute boots, and, weirdly, vegan cookies. I am thankful for just barely missing out finaing in the last contest I entered. I am thankful that I sold my first book, and that it comes out December 14.

6. Last, I am thankful for the weird, attention-deficit muse. I learned this weekend that I am her bitch, and I may as well do what she tells me. She might lead me away from where I thought I should go, but I should know by now that when she takes me for a ride in a direction I’ve never been, it’s going to be fun!



Friday Night Book Reviews

As promised, here’s the review for Jamie Brazil’s Prince Charming Inc.

Here’s the back cover copy of the book:

From long haul drivers to plumbers, matchmaker Elyse Tobin refurbishes and retrains men, then sells them off as husbands to wealthy San Francisco socialites.

Womanizing lothario Nick Salvatore is a millionaire restaurateur with looks, charm, and wit. He’s the man Elyse models all her fixer-uppers after, the man who seduced her three years ago, and the one man in San Francisco she wants nothing to do with despite his ongoing efforts to woo her.

But, when Elyse’s latest groom goes south, the IRS audits her, and her home is about to be foreclosed, she discovers the one man she can count on is the one she’s spent years avoiding.

Sounds like a lot, right?

That’s because it is a lot.

There’s a lot of story in this little book. But the thing about it is, it never felt like too much. This book was fast-paced and fun, and, though it does require a little bit of that “willing suspension of disbelief” we talked about in college, it was worth it. There were several “laugh out loud” moments (and I rarely laugh when I’m reading, even when I think a book is hysterical. It’s just the way I’m built). The heroine is quirky and cute; the hero a reformed lothario who is every woman’s fantasy. He was mine, anyway.

Incidentally, the food porn in this book was amazing. I haven’t had a bite of cheesecake in years (allergies. Oy, weh), but I swear, I wanted to swim in a sea of cheesecake (and have Nick Salvatore join me there) after I read this book. I was actually a little tempted to load myself up with Benadryl and go ahead and have a piece!

This is a really nice contemporary romance. If you like contemporary romance with quirky, flawed, believable characters, this book is for you.

Recommendation: Recommend

Next week’s review: BJ Scott’s Highland Legacy


My Muse has ADHD

My muse has been busy… Just not in the way I want her to be busy.

She’ll offer up ideas for random scenes in the middle of a manuscript and then remind me that my intro needs work. She’ll then offer up another scene from the middle of a different story entirely. Then she’ll start singing songs. It’s… tiresome.

Sample conversation between my muse and me.

Me: Hey, muse, let’s get to work.

Muse: Are you at that again? So. Tiresome.

Me: Yeah. Come on.

Muse: Here, write this.

Me: Uh, that’s from the middle of a story I haven’t started yet. Can we do a beginning first? Just a really good first chapter?

Muse: Do an outline. Oo, oo, maybe you could write this.

Me: That’s a totally different story.

Muse: Hey, don’t you judge me.

Me: No judgement. Just trying to figure out what we’re writing. So, which one are we writing?

Muse: (Singing) Her name was Lola. 

Me: Our book’s about a showgirl named Lola?

Muse: No, dummy. Oh, what do you think about a romance revolving around food trucks?

Looking west across 50th Street at pizza truck...

Me: Funny idea, but we don’t write contemporary. There’s that whole thing about how you like to pepper my manuscripts with dead bodies. I had to take three out of my historical because they didn’t fit. Not sure death and mayhem are good for a book about food trucks.

Muse: Hm. Maybe just a severed limb?

Me: Yuck. No.

Muse: Your loss.

Me: So… What are we doing?

Muse: Writing about how I like Barry Manilow. Oh, what do you think about cranberry-orange chutney?

Me: Are we writing about it?

Muse: No silly. We’re making it.

I go ahead and make the cranberry-orange chutney. It’s delightful. 

Me: I made the chutney. Now let’s get to work.

Muse: Oh, Mandy!

Me: I think I’ll take a nap.

So tell me, how do you control an unruly muse?

Another Guest Blog

Today I’m blogging over at the Soul Mate Author’s Blog, where I will discuss missing muses, Barry Manilow, and what I’ve done in pursuit of the muse.

I cleaned the  house.

I know, I half expected to be struck by lightning just writing that down,too. I’m pretty sure hell just froze over, anyway.

One thing for certain, I finally understand something my creative writing teacher once said to me (this was years ago. Flannel was very popular). He said that, when I don’t have a topic, I tend to be silly. But then, I once wrote a story where I intentionally made everything into a Freudian image. I mean, it was so over the top no one could read it through. It was intentionally bad and pretty stinking funny.

I called it Thor’s Mighty Hammer of Love.

So yeah, he’s right. I do devolve into silliness. In my defense, I bet he never had Barry Manilow on constant replay between his ears.

So yeah, I’ll blame it on Barry.


Friday Night Book Reviews

Well, I’ve decided to try my hand at book reviews. I’ve done a few of them on GoodReads, but I thought I would try it here. I get more space here (or maybe, because it’s my blog, I feel like I have more freedom to write what  I want!)

Anyway, a little bit about me as a reviewer: I read everything. I’ve read everything from Sophocles to James Joyce to Salman Rushdie to Johanna Lindsay and David Sedaris (yes, I understand that they are wildly disparate). I read trashy romance novels (see here for my definition of trashy), literary fiction and memoirs. I read nonfiction and, occasionally, poetry. I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade, mostly because I like to read to my kid, but I want to read something that will be interesting to me. (Because it’s all about me, don’t ya know?)

So, for my first review, I thought I’d start with something a little out of the box for me. Contemporary categorical.

For those of you who know me, I tend toward historicals and paranormals, and the longer they are, the better. So, to start with a contemporary categorical is somewhat of a step outside my comfort zone. But I’ve tried to branch out a bit, and I’ve decided to start with this book.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I met this author at a conference I recently attended. She was really nice, so I picked up her book. The back cover sounded interesting, and because I was determined to try new things, I bought it.

WIthout further ado, here is my review for Natasha Tate’s An Inconvenient Obsession.

He loved her, lost her–and now he’ll have her once more…

The Carrington’s family island is up for auction… (Damn, I wish *I* had one of those)

Now, that’s an invitation Ethan Hardesty just can’t refuse. This groundskeeper’s son turned global entrepreneur has it all. All, that is, except a piece of the Carrington estate–the island that holds all his most pleasurable and painful memories.

Ethan doesn’t count of the beautiful Cate Carrington handling the transaction–and providing him with the perfect opportunity to take her into the bargain. But toying with the woman who was once the girl he loved and lost soon turns from a game into an all out obsession.

Fun, huh? Rich people obsessed? Alright, I’m game.

What I didn’t count on was liking these characters as much as I did. From the back cover, I rather thought that Ethan would be a wealthy lothario–the  handsome man-slut who is charming and witty and funny and takes nothing too seriously. What I got in Ethan was so much more than that. I got a dark and twisty hero with some serious flaws. Yet those flaws never seemed over-the-top. Skirting the edges, maybe, but never enough that I ever lost sympathy for him (being honest, those flaws made me like him even more). As for Cate, our heroine, it would be so easy to be unsympathetic… Beautiful and rich? But in Cate, we have a heroine who is scarred both literally and figuratively. And it’s those scars that make her so endearing.

Oh, and the sex scenes? Totally hot.

I detest star ratings, I really do, so I won’t be assigning apples, or robots, or stars or hearts. But I will say this: if you like contemporary romance, An Inconvenient Obsession should be a book on your “MUST READ” list. Because trust me, if it could keep me riveted (she who prefers her heroes with fangs), you will fall in love with these characters.

Recommendation: Highly recommended.

Next week: Jamie Brazil’s Prince Charming Inc. (Another contemporary? Wow, I’m seeing a trend!)


I am such a girl (and not in a good way)

Yesterday, my husband took me out shooting.

This was my idea, because I thought it would be fun for us to go on some sort of “date” where we did something he likes for a change. And he likes guns.

Now, he’s in law enforcement, and we have guns in our house (it’s an occupational hazard). They’re all locked up, always have been, so it’s not like I have to worry about the kids getting into them. We have more gun safes in this house than… well, anyone else I know.

But for all that, I DO NOT like guns. Never have. Ergo, I am a giant pansy, and I have accepted this about myself.

Top 5 things that happened at the gun range:

1. When the people in the bay next to ours began firing automatic weapons, I just about crapped my pants. No, seriously. It was a good thing I didn’t eat that morning.

2. My husband’s gun scared me. So much so that once he told me to holster it, I wouldn’t even take it off, because I didn’t want to touch it again. Oddly, the bigger gun, the .45, I liked better. It reminded me of how I used to flirt with M when we started dating.

3. Six cups of coffee before going out to the gun range that’s out in the middle of the freaking desert? Not a good idea. Just believe me on this one.

4. I think I was meant to live in the Old West, because honestly, revolvers are cool. At least I can shoot those.

5. M doesn’t always buy the “But I’m a girl!” excuse. Most of the time he does, but this time he retorted, “Many women like guns, and are better shots than men.”

My response? “Yeah, but they’re badasses.”

Which, clearly, I am not.

The Heart of a Writer

My thanks to Brooke Moss, who inspired this blog post. In today’s post, she talked about how she’s been getting grief from friends and family who don’t understand how busy she is as a wife, mother, and published author.

While I’m still awaiting publication (next month!), I can relate. After all, I have two kids and work full-time. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve gotten grief for not having time for anyone anymore. It started when I first had kids, and then got worse when I went back to work full-time.

I live a tightly regimented existence between the hours of 6AM and 8PM. I don’t really talk to my friends during those hours because I’m either getting ready for work, at work, or actively doing something for the kids. Playing with them, doing homework, coaching soccer, taking the kids to their various lessons, cooking dinner, or trying desperately (and futilely) to bring my house back from the brink of chaos.

It is a very… busy… life.

And then, to make things more interesting, I decided I was going to write a novel just over two years ago. So now, my days are regimented from 6AM to midnight.

I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands.

My friends (the ones who “get me”) understand this. I will make time for my friends, absolutely, and if one of them really needed me (and you know who you are), I would drop everything to help them, because honestly, they don’t ask.  So when they do ask, yeah, I know it’s important.

Earlier today, during one of my fits of guilt, the husband and I were discussing my time, or lack thereof. I was telling him that if I invested the same amount of time on a second job that I have with the writing, I could have us out of debt. I’d never be home, and I’d hate it, but I would do it.

And do you know what he said? He said he knew I’d give up the writing if he asked me to. And then he followed it up with this kicker, “But I wouldn’t ask you to do that, because you’d be giving up the only thing you’ve ever had that was just for you. You’ve wanted this since you were ten years old. Who am I to tell you no?”

I wanted to cry, because he’s right. That man knows my heart. If he asked, I’d give up the writing. Just like my grandmother before me. And if I did that, I would spend the rest of my life… missing something. Eventually, I would tell my granddaughter about the stories I tell in my head to help me go to sleep. I’d tell her how I’d never been free to write them down, and she would feel sorry for me like I felt sorry for my grandmother all those years ago.

I was fifteen, and to this day, I wonder if that’s the only real conversation I ever had with her.

I sometimes wonder if she told me because she thought I might be the only person in the family who really understood. I never thought of my scientist grandmother as having the heart of a poet, but I guess she did. She gave up that heart because my grandfather told her it was a waste of time.

A waste of time.

My husband supports every crazy idea I’ve ever had–and I’ve had a bunch. When I told him I wanted to write, he got me a giant monitor so I could see it, because we didn’t know how long my vision would last. He’s taken me to conferences, driven me two and a half hours over the hill so I could attend meetings, read all my contest entries, and helped me choreograph fight scenes. He’s done all of that, while less supportive people have done nothing more than roll their eyes and suggest that I give up writing altogether to focus on cleaning my house or relaxing, as if the latest episode of Maury Povich is somehow more important. (Aside: is that show even still on?)

People who don’t write don’t understand what those kinds of suggestions do to those of us who do. When they tell me to stop wasting my time, they don’t understand that they’re not helping. That they are, in fact, attacking the very essence of who I am. Those people, who deride the “weird writer types,” are attacking me, because I am a “weird writer type,” whether I write down the stories in my head or not.

So when I don’t call, don’t freak out. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’m so busy I can hardly see straight. At the same time, I don’t need all sorts of unwanted advice about how I can achieve balance by giving up the one thing I have that is mine–writing. When you do, you are telling me I should give up that which makes me me. 

I am not ashamed of who I am.

I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a teacher. I am a friend.

I am also a writer.

And there is no shame in that.

Follow Up–The Monster Dating Game

The follow up to The Monster Dating Game can be found here.

Today, I’m guest blogging on Brooke Moss’s blog. Stop by and check out the dark side of dating monsters (since we did the pros of dating my friends Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman). Apparently, I’m a person worth stalking. And all this time, I thought my high school stalker was just bat sh*t crazy!

Hope to see you there!


Congratulations on the November Releases!

Congratulations to everyone who has a book coming out this November from Soul Mate Publishing! To all of my friends out there, check out these reads!

Highland Legacy by BJ Scott

Love by the Book by Angela Scavone

North Star by Angeline Bishop

The Swan Cove Murders by Donna Shields

When Hearts Collide by Kendra James

A Run For Love by Callie Hutton

Promises to Keep by Char Chaffin

The Secrets on Forest Bend by Susan Muller

Congratulations to those of you with books coming out! Mine’s up next month!


Chivalry is Dead… Because I Killed It.

Sunday is my day of general musings, the day when I consider all the things that have occurred to me over the week that I haven’t had the chance to really think on yet.

This week, when I was grocery shopping, I had not one, but two different men offer to help me get my groceries in the car or to take my cart from me and put it away for me (he didn’t want it–I watched him put it away after he took it).

My first thought, with the guy who wanted to help me with my groceries was, “Ohmigod, he wants to kill me and wear my skin as a prom dress!” (It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again) And because I thought this, I glanced down at my dry, flaking skin and politely refused, telling him, “Oh, no thank you. I got this.”

With the second man, he just wanted to put my cart away, but I figured he must want my cart. Totally cool. So I gave it to him and thanked him. He put it away, waved to me, and got into his car and left.

And I was left scratching my head, somewhat bewildered.

Did I look like I couldn’t handle putting a cart away? Do I exude the “I’m frazzled and vaguely incompetent” vibe? Did I just happen to run across two really nice men? Oh God, have I become the little old lady the boy scouts help across the street?

No, no, honestly, their offers were super sweet. I’m just not used to people I don’t know offering to help me out. It actually made me a little edgy.

When I got home that night, I told the hub what had happened. And the first question out of my mouth was, “Do they really think I’m so grossly incompetent that I can’t unload my own groceries? No one offered to help me out when I was fat, had an infant and a two year old, and honestly could have used the help.”

I needed help then; I don’t necessarily need help now.

I said as much to M, and he said, “They were hitting on you.”

Of course, I thought this is complete BS. I was hit on once by a meth head on a bicycle (long story, but I think he hit on me because I look like I might have a cookie in my purse). I know what it looks like to be hit on.

They were just being nice, right? Because if I was being hit on, it was the most subtle come-on ever. Granted, when the meth head asked me to coffee, he stared at my boobs the entire time. I was actually afraid he was going to hurt himself, the way he stared at my boobs while circling me on his Huffy. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a head do that, except in Poltergeist. I’m pretty sure that’s not… natural.

And the man before that was my husband, and let’s face it, I was twenty and he was… ahem… less than subtle.

Anyway, I think it’s sad that, when a man does decide to be chivalrous, my first thought is that he’s going to kill me, eat me (not in a good way) and wear me (again, not in a good way). No wonder chivalry is dead.

Girls like me may have killed it.