Tag Archives: Thought

Pew, Mind Blown, a #MondayBlogs

What happened to me blogging every Monday? Where’s the love? Where’s the romance?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Deadlines. Deadlines are what happened. It’s tough to publish a book every two months even if those books are more novella than a novel. What hasn’t been a book signing, a family reunion of some sort, or a ball game (I brake for the Toronto Blue Jays,) has been me with my butt in the chair and writing. It’s rather grueling to write historical romance and goes something like this:

Patrick gave his horse to the stable hand at Fort Leaven…..wait. What did they do with horses at Leavenworth in 1866? Google, horses at fort leavenworth1866. Nothing. Okay, assume there are stables… Fort Leavenworth. Grabbing his saddlebags…no, would he have saddlebags? Google, army officer saddlebags? Crap. Army officer saddlebags 1866. Eh, no. Again, we punt and assume there are saddlebags. Where was I? Oh, right, Grabbing his saddlebags, he went to the…..crap. They’re not BLQ (bachelor living quarters) or were they? Google, history of army blq. Okay, not an answer.

See? Okay, so this is the hard way. The easy way would be to read all the research first, then write. Maybe. I’ve been to Fort Leavenworth, Fort Larned, and Fort Dodge many times but there’s only so much that’s been carried forward from history. The land has been cultivated and modified into something the early trail riders wouldn’t recognize.

So yeah, when you add the historical accuracy to the spelling and grammar, writing well and engaging the reader, making an ongoing hook to keep the story flowing and interesting, and managing interruptions of all kinds that pull you out of the world you’re writing? It takes time.

I do have two other topics in this makeup post. Romance: My husband has been a darling this past week. We were out getting out the votes for the midterms when I tripped on a dodgy sidewalk. I’m an expert at stumbling and catching myself but when the second foot comes forward to hit the same thing my first foot caught? Boom. I literally landed on my face. My husband ran and brought our vehicle to me, brought every bandage from the drugstore along with ointments, aspirins, and wine when needed. I’m fine, and the injury looks far worse than it hurts. I suppose if I had to be housebound with a black eye, a deadline week was the best time to happen.

Second topic? A writing tip. Okay, when I hit submit to Santa Fe Woman on Friday, I was free at last. Free to play computer games, go shopping (my eye and face looked a lot better by then), and even better? Read! I had a new story in a genre I LOVE but don’t write in to read. Yay!

I already have an author who I worship in that particular genre and made grabby hands for the new author in the same genre. They are worship author equals author A, and new author equals author B. Okay, B was good. I read her first book in the series and loved the world, the couple, thought the sex happened a little too soon after traumatic events, but I’ve been married 24 almost 25 years. My perspective is different. Author A tends to wait longer for her naughty stuff even if the attraction is instant between the couple.

Still, I did love author B and will, of course, read more. But it got me thinking about something. Why will I read the grocery list of A as soon as she writes or types it and I don’t mind waiting when B does the same? Why the hero worship of one and not the other when most things about their work are the same with the same elements?

I was laying in bed thinking about this before going to sleep when it hit me. Emotional events and the point of view. Boom. I’m going to make up the events, so they’re fiction, but here goes. Let’s say, and I’m going to use situations NOT in these authors’ genres, that a train’s boiler explodes when our hero is nearby and hurt. The heroine comes up on the scene and begins to help him with his near-fatal wounds.

Author A would have the hero’s point of view during the explosion. We would feel his fear, surprise, and pain during the event. Then, when the heroine arrives, we’d switch to her point of view to feel her fear, surprise, and empathy for the hero’s injuries. All the feels.

Author B happened to do the opposite, and I bet I’ve done this in my books, too. She wrote the explosion in the heroine’s point of view when she arrived. Then, in a bit of a tell, not show, we got the hero’s point of view during the heroine is caring for him scene. So we missed out on the initial shock from him of the explosion, and we missed the fear for the hero’s life from the heroine. We do feel, but superficially.

I’ve always known point of view matters. The same story told by different characters ends up being vastly different. I use this in the last half of Undesirable and the first third of Uncivilized. Undesirable is through Sam and Marie’s point of view. Uncivilized is the exact same events, conversations, everything, but through Del and Ellen’s eyes. Words in the conversations are identical, but the feelings surrounding them are vastly different. Making sure the dialogue perfectly matched was tough but I had a blast with writing those books because of the point of view shift.

So there you have it! Part of what I did on my summer vacation! By the time you’re reading this, I’m getting ready to or on my way to Florida for a conference. I plan on learning more and meeting people I’m in awe of while there. The husband and I are crossing off Cape Canaveral from our bucket list. Should be fun!

Comment below with any concern, questions, or even random thoughts.

Alone vs Lonely: A #mondayblogs post

Alone is pretty easy to define. You’re by yourself, a party of one, and the time where a team does have an I in it.

Lonely? Not so easy after all. Where alone is a state of being and a tangible, lonely is so much more ethereal. Everyone has heard of being lonely in a crowd and has probably experienced the feeling at least once in their life. Very few have never been the new kid in a classroom, even if they have to wait until college.

But now, Valentine’s Day is looming. All that red and pink reminds some of us how lonely being in a partnership can be. Surprisingly, I never felt one second of loneliness in the time during my husband’s deployment to Kuwait. How did we manage to stay in touch and still feel the love? Communication.

Chitchat during a war is different now that it was as recently as a couple of decades ago. In 2003, we had international phone calls once a week and email all the time. Skype and other video conferencing were new, and mail was okay but slow. I did happen to send him care packages of things he mentioned missing. With the once a day check-ins and weekly chats, we probably talked more than most busy couples have a chance to under the same roof.

How to combat this? In knitting (one of my fave hobbies), there’s a saying of “Take time to save time.” We’re supposed to do a test knit to make sure the stitches per inch is accurate. For a marriage or any other relationship, I’d say block out your time to interact with each other. Make doing so a priority and necessary for each of you. Both people must care because nothing’s sadder in a couple than being the one hand clapping.

If you’re the one initiating and not getting a response, there are a few things to try on your own.

  1. Kick it old school and write a letter by hand. Then rewrite in case you were angry about having to write one at all to get their attention. I know I’d have to.
  2. Text them a kiss. Emoji or your lips in a kiss, either work.
  3. Stop off on the way home from wherever and grab their favorite anything. No reason or occasion necessary.
  4. A phone call can be a problem for some to give or receive. We’re lucky because I’m my own boss and my husband’s workplace isn’t a pain about phone calls. I know I always love hearing his voice instead of a robocall or telemarketer. So speed dial if you can.
  5. Sex it up! Oddly enough, this wasn’t effective for me in the first couple of decades of my marriage, but this third decade is turning out to be very unusual. <-not a complaint! Everything I do now is a turn on when it never was during the early years. What do I mean by turn on? Well, for you, it may mean wearing the sexy clothes as a normal instead of a special occasion. Wear the boxers with lip kisses or the red teddy in the evenings. (Now that I think about it, our kid is older and not around as much. Sexy is a lot easier with just us in the house. LOL! Light bulb moment, right?)
  6. To get around the kids might know/hear sexytimes issue, letting your significant other pick the sexy unders you wear. This makes the undressing time after the kids are asleep a lot more fun, too.
  7. Find a similar activity you enjoy. We like long walks in the park and watching Canadian television shows, but our finding these likes didn’t happen overnight and haven’t been constant. In the beginning, we liked the Civil Air Patrol and dining out. Clearly, our tastes have changed through interest or necessity. We still have separate activities, but the ones we share are a lot of fun, too.

 

Photo0087[1]

It’s all fun and games until someone needs CPR.

Finally, if none of these ideas brings you closer together or you’ve been there, failed that, you know what to do. Talk to a professional. My job is to write about a fictional couple’s conflict and communication problems. So far I haven’t had a character seek counseling, but you never know. A story might make it necessary someday and if you need it, take advantage of the help.

Next Monday: Answering FAQ’s because my husband needs me to do so on my new website. You won’t even notice the switch except everything is much prettier.

A #MondayBlogs About Smug Marrieds.

Single people and the theory of relativity. How are they related?

Very simple. There’s a reason the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side,” exists. Earlier in the week, I’d read something about married people being condescending toward singles. As if being married is the ultimate goal in life and you’re not a real person unless hitched to someone else. Add in the recent political remarks about some countries being much better than others, or some people weighing less or more than others, and the Theory of Relativity covers everything. No matter where you are, how low or how high, someone either wants to be where you are or would do anything to keep from being in the same place.

In my point of view, I think there’s a lot of jealous people out there trying to upsell being chained to one person. Seriously. No marriage is 100% wine and roses, and if someone says theirs is? They’re lying, delusional, giving in to their spouse, or all of the above. Married people see a single person and remember back when everything in life wasn’t a committee decision. They could eat what they wanted or not at all. Sleep the hours they prefer or not, and not be hassled about it. When you start counting everything else needing a “discussion” with a partner? You know what I mean.

man putting wedding ring on woman hand

With this ring, I chain thee to me forever. Get me a beer.

Meanwhile, singles are looking at marrieds, envying the whole partner setup. As a married, it IS nice having a best friend and business partner. There is a shared income, shared responsibilities, and a “In case of emergency” contact. I could add in the terrific sex part, but my husband would become flustered and turn nine shades of red. Let me leave it at he’s adorable and admirable.

Like everything in life, both sides have their pros and cons. I think the main thing anyone should do is embrace where they are right now. Things always can and do change, often when you don’t want them to.

Side note: All this assumes you are satisfied with your current situation. If there’s abuse, depression, or serious issues, get help and don’t delay. Life is short, and there’s no reason to tolerate the intolerable.

Next Monday: Answering Frequently Asked Questions.

My Husband Wears The Romantic Pants in This House.

You’d think the resident romance writer would be the one remembering anniversaries, wouldn’t you?

Nope!

Every year since 1993, I forget the day my husband proposed to me. Every. Single. Year. So I wake up on December 10th to flowers and a mushy card about how he’s glad I said, “Yes!” He doesn’t wake up to anything but my snoring.

Maybe I need to get all of us “It’s what day???” people in a huddle and talk about ways to remember significant events.  I asked my husband just now how he remembers and he said, “I just do. It was a big step in my life.” He adds he’d be traumatized if I’d said no. I can imagine since he had us fly to Magic Mountain ski resort to ask me. Best proposal ever and he’s such a romantic.

For the rest of us in the memory challenged department, I have some hints and helps.

  1. The obvious: Put it on your calendar. Not the pretty one on your fridge, but the one where you grab all your social media birthdays. Set it up to reoccur every year and voila! You’re set.
  2. See #1. Kidding! Mostly. I have Cortana as my assistant, thanks to Microsoft. No matter what your assistant’s name is, you can set up a reminder for the occasional dates. I’d use this feature for anniversary dinner reservations, but not for the day itself.
  3. Make it special. Plan ahead, plan for every year to have the same fun tradition and you won’t forget the day again. I need to pick an extraordinary thing to do for my husband on our proposal anniversary beyond the usual, “Oh crap! It’s 12/10!”

Now that I have an idea of what to do next year, how about you? Do you remember special days in a way I’ve not listed? Comment below and tell us how it worked or works for you because I could use the help. ❤

Hey baby, in the mood for a quickie #MondayBlog ?

This is the US’s Thanksgiving holiday week and National Novel Writing Month. How are those two related? One is a time for family, and the other is time for a panicked meltdown.

Okay, maybe they’re a lot more related than I thought. If you’re single and staring at the green Jell-O salad with carrot strips, wondering if your mom is right and you should settle down with someone, anyone, I have your solution.

Before you ask, no. This fix, though as powerful as, does NOT involve duct tape. Leave it at home this time. Instead, I’m giving you something to guarantee you have a significant other by Valentines Day if that’s what you want.

What do you do for this matchmaking miracle?

Write a list of what you want in a partner. Be specific. Be greedy. List every attribute that’s important to you. Does your person need to like dogs, or cats, or both? Write it down. Do they have brown eyes, blue eyes, or one of each? They’ll be a little tougher to find, sure, but list it. The list is more powerful when handwritten, but typing is fine, too.

I know you’re tempted to blow this off as all mythical hoo-ha stuff and I totally understand. Write the list and magic happens? Whatever. The science and psychology behind writing down the attributes you want in a forever or even temporary partner is real. What happens is when you come up with what you need, this action gives your brain a pattern to match.

Don’t believe me? What about when you start researching a new car? You want a red Honda and what happens? They’re everywhere now and more so than ever. Actually, no they’re not. You notice more of them now because that pattern is in your head. There’s a quick way to break that because now that’s all you see out there, and it’s not by saying, “I want to stop seeing red Hondas everywhere, dammit!” Just think of green Land Rovers or yellow Ford Mustangs. There! Fixed!

In seriousness, this list idea works for more things than silencing the, “Who are you dating now, dear?” crowd. Writing a list for anything you desire helps lock in what you want and tells your brain to start looking around for what you’ve listed. It’s pretty awesome and powerful as well.

Comment below if you’ve used this technique and it’s worked. Follow this blog if you want more romantic #MondayBlog posts in the future.

Romance after 50? Is it possible? Here is what I know for sure. #MondayBlogs

Once upon a time, I was a teenager who read copious amounts of romance novels. Ah, love. Full of longing, conflict, and the inevitable happy ending. Every new relationship was a rosebud waiting to bloom.

Um, no.

Even with the optimistic point of view, seeing my parents manage their real-life marriage kept me grounded. A truly successful commitment took work and compromise and I knew nothing was perfect. In fact, my father often said if two people never argued, someone was giving in. I vowed to never knuckle under to some knuckle head.

Fast forward to my fifties and all of the lessons I learned about love? I can see why older men go for younger women. Someone in her twenties is far more malleable than a woman in her fifties or even forties. My personal example?

While married to my first husband, I was twenty-one when he said he wanted a vasectomy because he didn’t want children. If I wanted to have a baby, he continued, I’d have to have one with someone else. His proclamation to my until-death-do-us-part mindset was as if a doctor said I was sterile. I was heartbroken.

If my husband said such a thing now? He wouldn’t, because he’s a far better human being than my ex ever will be, but if he did? My older and wiser self would say, “Challenge accepted and I have candidates picked out.”

There are several more examples of a boyfriend giving me orders while I scrambled to be a better person for him. Ah, youth. So how does a woman who’s outgrown the wide eyed optimism about relationships make her own life more romantic? My answer was to marry a romantic man, but I know that can’t work for everyone.

Going forward in this new #MondayBlogs series of mine, I’m digging deep and exploring how to bring out the love and romance in life for everyone. A life of love, fulfilling relationships, and happiness is possible for people willing to reach for more.

How to Fire an Employee in 5 Easy Steps.

Firing someone isn’t as easy as some reality shows might depict. Sure, it’s fun to think about being a strong executive able to dismiss someone on a whim.

In reality? Your showing someone the door has real world consequences that those with empathy know all too well. I’m assuming your employee has a problem OTHER than a terminally ill relative, or they were the one with a terminal illness, a serious loss in the family be it a person, pet, or home, or a severe injury meeting all of the above criteria. I would add, as a former military spouse (he retired from the Army Reserves and is great, thanks!) that losing a loved one to deployment could affect your staff member’s work ethic as well.

All of the above may not be legally protected by Labor Laws, and that doesn’t really matter until step four. I’ll assume you don’t want to be a Worst Boss of the Year by firing your employee after their father dies of cancer on the same day as their dog was run over on their way back from saying goodbye to their deploying spouse.

How does someone let a problematic employee leave for “greener pastures?” Here you go.

  1. If empathy and caring about your employees are problems for you, don’t worry. There is a real and legal reason for NOT skipping step one’s empathy and emotional quagmire. Start a paper trail now, because if the person really is a liability to the company, a paper trail will keep you from being sued for unemployment. You’ll want to sit the problem person down and have a talk with them about what’s going right and what’s going wrong. Emphasis on the wrong. Have a checklist, a signable checklist, for how the awry behavior will change in the immediate future. They sign, you give them an atta girl or atta boy, and the behavior is corrected, profits rise, and we’re all happy.
  2. But, if nothing changes? You will yet again sit them down in a private area and ask what was unclear about the first meeting, in a kind and direct way. They explain or excuse, you listen and reintroduce the checklist as a reminder.
  3. And then that didn’t work. Fine. Bring them in again, again ask what was unclear and is it clear now that they’re on a probation of sorts? They’ll probably mumble yes, promise to change, you shake hands and voila! Problem solved.
  4. When nothing has worked so far? You gave the person three chances/warnings and documented what was said and promised. I would say you bring them in and give them two weeks. Except, I was in Information Technology for most of my cube farm life and forewarned gives an angry employee a chance to set up retaliation. Instead, follow your company’s procedures for termination. If you are your own CEO of a large enough company for Human Resources, why are you reading this? You’re too busy, and it’s why you have an HR. If you’re like me, the CEO of a tiny empire, the legality of terminating is a problem. Especially when it comes to being sued. Review the termination for cause for your state because no two states are the same. Set up your legal defense and reasons for showing your employee the door.
  5.  The firing itself. By this time, what kind of person your employee is won’t matter. They’re a detriment to the company and must go. Which is fine. Some people are round pegs trying to fit into a square hole and need to be pushed to find a new place. Others are problem children with no desire to grow as a person. Either way, you’ve tried to warn them in steps one through three, done the legal homework in step four, and now have to meet with them privately. If necessary, have your boss or HR rep sit in. Again, if you’re the head of your company, have a plan for your safety when terminating a hot headed employee.

I’ll admit, I’m a small business owner and firing someone would mean they all but begged to be fired. My empathy is off the charts. For this post, I’ve kept in mind that larger business owners might not know everyone and even if they do, they don’t care what happens when a person is pink slipped. Everyone is different, and that’s fine.

Even if you don’t care about your terminated people, you’ve spent time and money training them. There are anti-discrimination laws. Hiring new replacements hits you again in the time and money department. No one wants to waste their resources or be sued. Follow the first three steps, set up by following the fourth, and help your company’s growth and profits by following through on the fifth step.