It’s finally time. It’s been so hard to keep to this to myself, but now that preorders are available– enjoy!
Hey friends. I’ll be at the Sandy, UT Barnes and Noble this Saturday from 1-4pm signing books. I’d love to see you, signs some books, or just chat! It’s a great chance to get some Christmas shopping done; there should be around 40 other authors at the signing. Come say hi, grab a hot chocolate, and enjoy the weekend!
After straining my calf in a pickup volleyball game last night (yeah, I still think I’m eighteen), Mark gallantly carried me from the car to the house, which involved a flight of stairs. It brought to light two things:
There was way too much huffing coming from him when he carried me up the steps, like an offensive amount of huffing… but then he set me up in bed, wrapped my calf with an ace-bandage, and brought me medicine.
Sometimes I wonder what the secret to a happy marriage is. I have one, but why? How? Last night shed some light on this subject. Maybe the secret is life. Life throws nonstop curve balls, and maybe all that matters is that we swing, that we try. Maybe romance is all about swinging, trying to win it for the team. Whether that’s carrying your post-four-children wife up a flight of stairs or smiling through the pain of a silly I’m-not-eighteen-anymore leg injury, we have to swing.
We can’t ever stop, or we’ll strike out.
Enough deep thoughts for your Friday night. Let’s get down to the point of this post: I’ll be down a lot this next week
writing, I mean recovering. Enjoy your weekend!
My great-grandmother and grandfather referred to their respective origins (Poland and Croatia) as ‘the old country’. They didn’t like to talk about it, and they didn’t like people asking questions. Some of it was privacy, and part of it was wanting to forget, wanting to leave it behind. Before she died, Stella shared a few things of the old country. Those stories touched my heart, and from an early age, I wanted to share them. It feels surreal that I get to do so in a beautiful novel in 5 months from now. I can’t wait for you to read it and fall in love with their courage and strength.
Excitement is overflowing around here for my new book, The Forgotten Girl. It won’t be available until February, but preorders will be happening soon, and to kick it off, I’ll be releasing some beautiful photos with quotes from the book. Along with that, will be another book trailer. And I promise, it’s so awesome! Amanda Conley Photography did INCREDIBLE!
I’ve been down for the past week recovering from jaw surgery. What a doozy, I tell you.
Someone texted me last week, “Was it as bad as you thought it would be?”
It wasn’t the right moment for such a question. I was on strong meds, barely able to squeeze a condiment bottle of tomato soup between my numb and dysfunctional lips. My jaw bone throbbed, resulting in an excruciating headache, and my neck and lower back were aching from the anesthetic and surgery. It might sound like I’m being a tad bit dramatic. But I’m not.
It took every ounce of restraint to respond rationally. It was a concerned family member, for goodness sake. But I couldn’t help add a touch of snarky. “Well, the doctor cut off half my face and screwed it back together, and it feels like it.”
Anyways…back to what this post is about. NETFLIX.
Netflix has really come through for me during this time. It’s been my shoulder to cry on, so to speak. I have spent more hours than I could count binging on series and such. And I’ve come to understand a fundamental truth– Romance movies, or rather romance stories, are not created equally.
Romance stories (at least the ones I’m going to discuss) fall in 1 of 2 categories:
So, in an ode to all that is good in the Real Romances, I’ve compiled a list of my TOP 10 WHOLE WHEAT ROMANCES, accompanied by their less worthy, less effort-watching partner, the WHITE BREAD ROMANCES… Let me know if you agree, and heaven forbid, I hope I don’t misplace one of your beloved stories….But remember, we all have weaknesses (one Little Debbie type snack). I’m a self-proclaimed expert now, thanks to my broken jaw and countless hours of binging.
DRUM ROLL… in no particular order…and with clips for your enjoyment…Whole Wheat vs. White Bread…
Far and Away vs. P.S. I love you
Like most girls, Ireland holds a piece of my heart… and so it would seem any romance with Ireland would be the real deal. Not the case, not the case. While P.S. I Love You brings the waterworks, it isn’t in a good hormonal-cleanse sort of way. Nope, it’s in a cry ‘til your sick sort of way. And nobody needs to do that. Watch a real love story– not the heartbreak of one. Also, it’s one of the actually good Tom Cruise films.
Pride and Prejudice vs. Lost in Austen
Not all Austen adaptations are created equal, but I’m wise enough to avoid that debate. *cough, cough* That aside, there are numerous spinoffs of Austen’s work. Don’t fall for it, don’t go for the lazy attempts. Go for the real thing, the real stories with real characters and real lessons vs. the fantasies of a fourteen year old girl who RUINS everything about this beloved tale. Darcy was made for Elizabeth.
While You were Sleeping vs. ANYTHING on Hallmark during the Holidays
If you need to go for a lighthearted romance, that’s fine. There can still be merit in romcoms. But let’s talk about Hallmark. I know… I know… I KNOW. I do it, too. Every holiday I find myself fall prey to the promise of lighthearted Christmas miracles and romance heroes (usually some retired baseball player or beyond handsome small town homeboy). I love them. I really do, but they end in a predictable way. I recommend a Christmas romcom alternative– perhaps While You were Sleeping.
Anne of Green Gables vs. When Calls the Heart series
Historical series have my heart. I, too, have watched When Calls the Heart. It felt so harmless at first… but then the series kept going on and on and on and on… until the plot got forced and the real romance was lost. It only took one watch of Anne of Green Gables to remind me of why it trumps all others… hopefully this clip will convince you, too.
Age of Adaline vs. The Lake House
Age of Adaline surprised me. It shouldn’t have. I adore Blake Lively. But anyways… if you happen to be in a mood for time-defying romance, please, I’m asking you to choose Age of Adaline over The Lake House. Please.
You’ve Got Mail vs. She’s All That
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are classic. Their on-screen chemistry is so real, and I can’t help but love them. Any of the 90s romcoms– She’s All That, Never Been Kissed, etc, they have NOTHING on the classic Ryan-Hanks stories. They resembled fast food. Don’t do it. There’s a better choice.
Tangled vs. Snow White
I had to put a Disney in here, because I love Disney. If you want your children to think love is about a chance meeting at a wishing well, followed by true love’s kiss… be my guest. But, I’d opt for the real kind of love– the type Flynn Rider offers Rapunzel by sacrificing himself to free her. Mmmmhmm.
Sweet Home Alabama vs. Twilight
If you are craving a love triangle, there are a plethora of options. If you need something that transcends reality also, you’ve still got options (Just Like Heaven). Reese Witherspoon brings a realness to her characters that’s absent from any character of Twilight. And, you won’t have an indulgent hangover the next morning.
How to lose a guy in 10 days vs. Anything Nicholas Sparks
I know this one is controversial. But with the exception of The Notebook (and even that one is debatable…I’m not a huge fan), Sparks’ stories are indulgent, weak love stories. They almost all seem to deal with infidelity or affairs and infatuation. It’s rarely worth your time. If you’re looking for contemporary, opt for a Kate Hudson or, dare I say it, Matthew McConaughey flick. My husband would die of he heard that (he can’t stand these type of rom coms). But it’s true. You’ll get more of the real thing than you will with Sparks.
Under The Greenwood Tree vs. Titanic
A privileged lady with different options… will she choose the rich one or the poor one? It’s a classic quandary. But, if you want one that is based on real love and in real life time, choose this period piece Under the Greenwood Tree. You won’t regret it, and you won’t be covering your youngen’s eyes.
“I’m writing books. They’re still a work of fact and fiction and will continue to be. I think it’s an interesting place to work.” -James Frey
“A play is fiction- and fiction is fact distilled into truth.”
In the near future, I’ll be teasing more about The Forgotten Girl. It’s not set to release until February, but I’ve been working with a talented photographer (and dear friend) to create a book trailer and still photos. The main character, Stella, was based off my great grandmother, and consequently, much of what happened to her in her life.
But it’s fiction.
It’s important to remember that as a writer, my book becomes my canvas, and the story I tell often becomes different than the one I set out to paint. I believe most authors– at least the really good ones– use personal experiences and emotions to tell their stories. That doesn’t mean they have experienced all that their character has. It just means that good writing has to come from a place of authenticity. I never immigrated to the United States to escape servitude like Stella. But I have felt trapped in situations, places so dark that I felt I would suffocate. That’s the place I found when I wrote this book. And, I’d venture to say that most authors try to do the same. They find a place in their heart, perhaps a spot of shared emotions or lessons as their MC, and they stay there. They pull from there, and they try their hardest to write truth into every bit of fiction. I know I try.
I recently finished another rough draft. It’s historical fiction (Yep…I can’t seem to stray from that). It’s yet to find a name (or a contract, for that matter), and it is raw and jumbled. However, between the lines and messiness, lies truth beneath the fiction. I put so much of me into the pages– in the same way I did with Stella’s story. The plot, the characters, the actual things that happened– total fiction. But the feelings and growth that happens to the main character Elle (and the growing pains she experiences) are as real as could be. So much of them are what I experienced. I know I’m not alone, and I hope to connect with younger readers (high school girls), as well as those like me (the ones that survived the whole growing-into-yourself thing).
Fiction isn’t really fiction, when you see it for what it is: a way for writers to share their truths they’ve found along the way.
About once a month (sometimes more), we pack up the kids and head to the city. We love our small town, but there are some things it lacks… namely a Costco, Winco, Panera Bread, Chipotle, Ross, tj maxx, Hobby Lobby, Joanns… I could go on. These city trips, though necessary and fun, can sometimes drag on and on, and on and on.
Mark starts to go crazy after the fifth store… rightly so. Dragging four kids around stores all day has its own set of challenges, like peed pants and screaming children… and maybe a frazzled hair, screaming lady.
I can always tell when Mark is DONE. The DVD player comes on, Costco spoils are dispersed, and Mark sends me into the stores alone, while he tries to keep it together with kids. This was the case last time. My oldest needed new shoes. I popped into Ross, found some shoes (only adding a couple impulse buys), and headed back to the car. I was proud of how fast I was in and out.
The car was parked near the front. Ain’t no car like ours– a maroon suburban, named by my second child (who was three years old at the time) “Little Sis”.
I pulled the door open, and my eyes instantly fell to the cream colored interior.
My eyes flashed to the man in the driving seat. He had a mouthful of food and a surprised expression. His thinning hair was light, his skin color a far cry from my swarthy Mediterranean husband…
“Hello,” he said, half nervous and half mocking.
That’s when I saw “Little Sis” charging down the parking isle, my knight in shining armor behind the wheel.
I promptly screamed, slammed the door, and ran to our car. I think I said, “sorry”, “oops” or something… but I’ll never know. It was a blur. I opened our car door, the familiar black interior, along with my husband’s choked laughter, my only welcome.
That’s true love. He laughed the whole way home… as did I.
What kind of freak am I?!
I’m sure that other guy laughed about the crazy, screaming lady, too. …at least that’s what I tell myself at night. And what mark tells me. Lest you think mark planned such an embarrassing mishap, he likes to remind me what happened on his end…
It was the BABY’s fault… or so he claims. He couldn’t stay stationary without tears. So he circled the parking lot, trying to keep everyone happy. He had his route, watching and waiting as he circumnavigated. About the fifth lap, he saw me bee lining it. He had seen the burb’s twin… it was only a split second… he knows me too well… and he knew what was coming. He stepped on the gas to save me from imminent disaster.
He reached me just as I slammed the door. He recalls my “girly, flailing arms” as I ran (his words, not mine), and the way my every look screamed utter embarrassment.
… but instead of asking me what happened, or if I was okay… he only laughed… and laughed…because he knew EXACTLY what had happened.
I could go on and on. There are so many perfectly ridiculous characters. I believe in humor, and sometimes when the story is too serious, or the pacing is too fast, we writers have the chance to create a character that makes an audience smile. So, this post is dedicated to all those weird characters that make stories more interesting, bring a smile to our face, or make us inwardly cringe (sometimes because we recognize a little bit of our awkward selves in them).
For those of you that are rolling your eyes, you should probably stop reading this post. Now. For the rest of you, enjoy.
Here’s to our favorite weirdos.
If you’re anything like me, publishing can feel intimidating, impossible even.
One resource that changed everything was this.
I can’t remember who told me about this book, but I am forever grateful. Each year, a new edition comes out, and it’s important to have the current edition. There are also many versions– an edition for novels and short stories, children’s writing and illustrating, poet’s market, literary agents, and even a gold deluxe version.
Below, I’ve posted a couple pictures of mine from 2015, when I first started trying to get my writing published. If you were to flip through my copy, you would find folded corners, tabs, highlights, notes in the margin. THIS BOOK IS GOLDEN.
So, what is this amazing resource, and why do you need it?
Well, for starters, this book is a great introduction to the publishing world. There are helpful articles written by successful authors and those in the industry (aka people who know what they are talking about and how to navigate the publishing world). From my 2015 edition, there are articles entitled Writing Strong Scenes, Capturing a Reader’s Interest, The Business of Fiction Writing, Breaking in, It has Merit, but..., and many others.
There are also sections listing many, many literary agents (what they are looking for, how to submit, etc.), magazines, publishers (how to submit, what they accept, genres they are seeking, etc.), Contests and Awards (I need to reread this section…), and conferences and workshops.
Hundreds of pages, all of which are helpful. And, I should add, I have no affiliation with this book or amazon. I just love it, and wanted to pass it on to all of you.