Our Pages

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Turning a Corner

So, as many of you probably know, my day job is as a public librarian. Besides providing reference services, computer assistance, and helping people find their next favorite book, I schedule author reading and book signings. It's one of my favorite parts of my jobs and I've had authors from Laura Florand to David Halperin to Laurent Dubois.

This week, I was looking at my calendar and I realized something: I was going to be the guest speaker at multiple libraries this year.

When Reservations for Two came out in February, 2013 my library hosted a reading for me, which was awesome. My mom flew into town for the program, I gave away periogi as a prize, read some from my book, and we sold out of all the copies of my book we'd ordered. Many of the library patrons I see every day came out to support me; I was so touched. We're doing one again in June for my release of Weekends in Carolina (which is set in Durham, where I live).

While I am thankful my library is so supportive of my writing career, my upcoming guest speaker programs are different because I'll be speaking at libraries where I don't also work. On Saturday, February 15th, I'll be in Wilmington, North Carolina. On Thursday, March 27th, I'll be at the Cameron Village Regional Library in Raleigh, North Carolina and on Saturday, March 29th, I'll be at the Southeast Regional Library in Garner, North Carolina. And then on Saturday, April 26th, I'll be at the Person County Public Library in Roxboro, North Carolina. On top of Lady Jane's Salon (RDU) in March, a program at the RT Convention in New Orleans in May, and two programs at the Romance Writers of America Convention in San Antonio in July, I'm feeling both exhausted just thinking about it and like I turned some mythical corner from always a bridesmaid to suddenly a bride.

I'm excited to be promoting my books, of course, but mostly I'm excited to talk to readers. Talking to readers about books is one of the things that drew me to public librarianship (away from law librarianship, which was my original plan). And I'm being invited to do this!

If I'm sounding a bit big for my britches, don't worry, reality will set in soon--probably because my dog will throw up on the couch or something equally as glamorous will happen (as I type this, my cat just barfed on the floor--thanks, cat!). In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my big head for a moment.

Actually, what I'm really going to enjoy is one of those moments where you feel like you've turned a corner in your life and the road you're on now is similar to the one you were on before, but you feel a bit steadier on it. These moments can happen in all different aspects of our lives. Like when you're learning to cook and create your first delicious meal with no recipes. Or the moment when you realize the complicated hand drawings in "how to knit" books are making sense. Or after a month of dog training, your dog actually sits the first time he's given the command.

Maybe the corner was more of a veer right than a hard right, but it was still progress.

What about you? Is there a time when you felt like you turned that corner?

One commenter will win a e-copy of my January release, A Promise for the Baby. You have plenty of time to comment. I'll draw the winner on February 14th (also the date I turn in my next book).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Talk to Me by Sidney Bristol

There are a lot of times when I’m writing a book and it feels like all I’m doing is dialogue. I have these two characters who are just talking heads, flapping their jaws, getting nowhere. Then I step back and look at what it is they’re saying—and I see the story they are telling, not just what they say—but how they say it. And that’s where the magic is, how there’s one story going on with words, and another with the heart.

A few years ago I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 exam to determine my top five strengths. The exam is the culmination of years of study to develop this test and catalogue the basic core strengths. One of my top five was Communication, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that one of the things I enjoy dissecting the most is the dialogue of a story.

As humans, we don’t always say what we mean, and we can’t always say what we want for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s just plain not appropriate, and other times we don’t know how to ask what we want. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do was find the words to ask for a raise. I’ve been in more life threatening situations, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever been so scared and nervous as when I broached the topic to a former boss. ((I got the raise, btw)) I am also one of the most awkward and verbally impaired people when it comes to talking about my feelings, but yet I can write them out just fine. On the flip side, stick me in front of five thousand people and I’m just fine. ((True story))

Recently I was going through edits for my next romantic suspense book, Hot Tango (Good Guys Wear Black #1) and as we were going over the excerpt for the book, I found myself stopping to reread the scene from beginning to end. The story is about a married couple who has lost the spark, not because they aren’t attracted to each other or have fallen out of love. They’ve lost the ability to communicate their desires. The scene in question is how the wife, Tanya, attempts and fails to have a conversation about their love life with her husband, Cole. I love the scene because it touches on their desire and pushes them to be openly frank with each other in a way they’ve never been. The book is erotic in nature, so you can imagine what they discussed. ((You can read the full excerpt here))

There’s something sexy about the way heroes and heroines talk to each other. Sure, most of the dialogue in the books we love would never happen off the page, but isn’t it fun to imagine it playing out in your head? The well timed jibe, the off-the-cuff remarks, the sultry things they say to each other—it weaves a spell around not just the characters, but us as the reader.

Is there a bit of dialogue you love?

Okay—so how many of us can almost recite the proposal scene from Pride and Prejudice? I can.

Those words stick with us, they spin dreams in the readers they touch and inspire the mind to wander—usually when I’m doing something important where I should be paying attention, and yet I think about those moments captured in my mind of a hero and what he said. Or is that just me being a chronic day dreamer?

Words have power, it’s not a new idea, but it’s one I think gets lost in the hustle and bustle sometimes. Even for us writers, we forget that it’s not just the story, it’s what the characters say that’s important. Case in point? I was looking for a dedication quote to use for my upcoming release from Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, and I just couldn’t find anything that fit. Nothing clicked with the story.

And then…I found it.

The perfect quote.

“It's not until you lose everything that you can truly appreciate everything.” – Belle in Beauty and the Beast
It can never be said that Sidney Bristol has had a ‘normal’ life.  She is a recovering roller derby queen, former missionary, and tattoo addict. She grew up in a motor-home on the US highways (with an occasional jaunt into Canada and Mexico), traveling the rodeo circuit with her parents. Sidney has lived abroad in both Russia and Thailand, working with children and teenagers. She now lives in Texas where she splits her time between a job she loves, writing, reading and belly dancing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

So Little is Known

This Friday marks a new debut for me.  No, I don't have another book coming out.  Instead, the show I am directing opens. I had co-directed before but this is the first time I am flying solo. The play is A Piece of My Heart, written by Shirley Laura, suggested by the book by Keith Walker.

Kieth Walker had interviewed 26 women and wrote their stories, or let them tell the own stories, and published them in a book by the same name. Shirley Laura used these stories to write a stage script by the same title, and wrote the stories of six women who served in Vietnam: A Navy Nurse, 2 Army Nurses, a WAC, an Entertainer and a Red Cross Worker are the three women portrayed.  The story begins at the dedication of the Wall in Washington DC in November, 1982 and then the women take you back to where they were in their lives when the decided on a career and/or were sent to Vietnam.  We live through their experiences during the time over there and the aftermath of when they came back until we are at the wall again. It is near impossible to read the book or play without crying. They were amazing women that so much is not known about.

Auditions were in October and we have been rehearsing since November.  I have a fantastic cast and the creative process of watching this grow and develop has been amazing.  It should be noted that I also have two guys in the show. They represent the "American Men" and between the two of them portray about 26 different guys.  Each time they appear it is for a short bit and only to add to the story the woman is telling.  A friend put it best that these guys are more props for the women than parts.

We have heard of the casualties, the fighting, and events like the TET Offensive from Vietnam, but many reading this blog were probably not even born yet.  I grew up with Vietnam on the news every night. It was a way of life, but I was too young to truly understand what was going on.  I did lose a cousin in Vietnam. He was only 19 and I was six at the time.  I barely remember him, but I remember the funeral and my mother getting the telephone call that he had been killed.  There are some things that are etched in our brains forever, no matter how young you are.

I spent a good deal of time researching nurses and the Vietnam War because it is important to me that this play not only tell their story, but honor them, and all men and women who serve our country wherever they are sent.  Before reading the book I knew very little about the women who served during Vietnam or even earlier. It seems the news always portrayed the guys, but women were very much a part of any conflict or war.

As we were designing the set, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted, but there were obstacles to overcome.  The first being that the show is being performed in the round, so the actresses are surrounded, on all sides, by audience.  The blocking had to be so that they are turning and moving so one side of the audience is not blocked for too long of a period.  The second obstacle, the nurses never leave the stage. Even though props are at a minimal, they had to have them "stashed" somewhere where they could get to them when they were needed.  I wanted footlockers (none of the props are huge).

I was having a hard time finding the right footlockers.  I am a bit anal about wanting things to be historically accurate. Nothing drives me crazier when something is so obviously out of place.  I understand sometime you have to accept being close and most things could pass, but I aim for accuracy whenever I can.

Tonight, my stage manager brought in her grandmother's footlocker from WWII for me to use.  All of the stickers and markings are there and nothing is more perfect.  This is yet another era of women serving that I know nothing about.  When my stage manager began telling me that her mother had been one of the nurses to first entered Auschwitz, I was in awe. I couldn't not even begin to imagine the horrors they saw when they began treating the survivors. I am sure it stayed with them their entire lives. I had no idea nurses when into the camps as they were liberated and I am beyond honored that her family is allowing me to use this item in my production.

Many times I am stuck in the Regency Period because that is the era I write in and I've spent countless hours researching the period.  Yet, when I read books like A Piece of My Heart or hear stories about the nurse who arrived at Auschwitz, I realize how much history I have left to learn.

Have you ever read or heard an historical fact or story that has taken you by surprise?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

One Rogue Too Many is Here at Last!!!

Yesterday was the release day for One Rogue Too Many, the first book in my new series, Rival Rogues. There is nothing more exciting, or more anxiety-producing, than offering up your work to readers. I always hope every story I write will be loved by one and all, even though I know it's highly unlikely. That's what makes the world of romance so wonderful. There is something for everyone. But I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little more emotionally invested in this book's reception. You see, I've dedicated the story to "My darling girl".

If you happened to read my interview at Mary Chen's lovely blog, Buried Under Romance, this week, you already know my daughter served as my muse for One Rogue Too Many. (I won't repeat the story, but feel free to check it out. Mary does a great job with interviews.)

My daughter loves being part of the process of creating my books. She asks me to tell her about the characters and plot as I begin to write it. She likes to suggest names. (I didn't go with Hector in place of Sebastian, but I think she has forgiven me.) She'll sit beside me on the couch with one ear bud in her ear and one in mine listening to "Alex" read the manuscript as we listen for missing words or typos. Of course we skip the sexy parts. She doesn't even like smooching in her stories. And she doesn't hesitate to give me feedback on the covers. "Those men should really button their shirts."

It was a lot of fun to work on today's blog with my sweetie. She learned to use a really cool presentation program through school and was eager to help me create one for Lady Scribes! We hope you enjoy this brief glimpse into One Rogue Too Many. (You can use the arrow to advance to the next part manually, or you can set it to automatically run by clicking the clock at the bottom right. 4 sec is a bit too fast and 10 sec is a bit long, but there is nothing in between.)

So there you have it. I won't be turning in my pen to make movies anytime soon, but we had fun.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you would like to be entered into a drawing to receive a copy of One Rogue Too Many, please let me know in the comments section & include your email address so I can reach you if you win.

And now for a exclusive sneak peek for Lady Scribes readers:

The baron glowered at Anthony, panting. Blood trickled from a cut on his lower lip and he swiped his sleeve across his mouth. Slowly he straightened and jerked his waistcoat back into place. “Bloody Philistine.” Thorne passed by him on the stairs, his head held high like he was blasted royalty.

“This isn’t over,” Anthony called then followed him. He wiggled his fingers to battle against the stiffness setting into his knuckles. Damn, Thorne had a hard head.

Silence hung between them as they left the building. They walked side by side down the alley, the fog surrounding them.

“If we are murdered by thieves, I blame you,” Thorne said.

Anthony came to a halt while Thorne kept walking. “If you had kept your damned mouth shut, we wouldn’t be here.”

Thorne retraced his steps and stopped in front of Anthony. “Someone must look out for Lady Gabrielle’s interests. Were you planning to tell her?”

So he did know what this was about and he wasn’t denying his part.

“I’ll still tell her,” Anthony said through clenched teeth, “but this isn’t about Gabby. I can’t have people speculating about my daughter’s origins. She’s an innocent girl.”

“So is Lady Gabrielle.” Thorne moved closer, his perfect nose begging to be knocked out of joint. “She should be aware of any scandals associated with her future husband.”

“That’s hypocritical, given your father’s history and Miss Thorne’s unfortunate situation.”

“Don’t you dare speak ill of my sister,” he growled.

“I have nothing but the greatest respect for your sister. You, however, are despicable.”

Blood continued to drip from Thorne’s lip, lending him the appearance of a savage animal when he bore his teeth. “You think I’m despicable? Well, I have never kept my past a secret from Lady Gabrielle. Can you say the same?”

“My past is my concern. And if you ever spread tales about my daughter again”—he thumped Thorne’s chest—“you’ll have more than a bloody lip when I’m finished with you.”

“I would like to see you try. Without the advantage of surprise, I would make short work of you.”

Anthony scoffed and continued the long walk down the alley. Thorne fell into step with him, both of them sullen.

Angered by the other man’s presence, Anthony walked faster. The baron stepped up his pace and pulled ahead.

Bollocks! Everything was a contest with the jackass. And Anthony was damned, because he wanted to beat Thorne more than ever. He increased his speed until he was at a walk-run. The baron’s head snapped toward him when Anthony came up beside him and broke into an easy jog. So did Anthony. By God, he wasn’t going to lose to the ungrateful bastard.

Not for the first time, Anthony regretted the day he’d come to Thorne’s defense at Eton. Thorne had become a target for bullies who thought his father had bats in the belfry. Anthony must have been mad himself to intervene. Not only had Thorne been unappreciative of Anthony’s assistance, the baron had been trying to prove his superiority ever since.

Thorne broke into a run, his boots slamming against the cobblestones.

“Come back here.” Anthony dashed after him.

He grabbed for and caught the hem of Thorne’s coat to slow him. Throwing his arm around his neck, he jostled for control. The baron fought back, twisting and bucking, until they banged into a wall. Thorne threw his head back and connected with Anthony’s nose. Cursing and wrestling with Thorne, he tried to slam him to the ground.

“Who goes there?” a shaky voice called from the fog. “I have a firearm, and I will use it.”

They froze.

“It’s only Thorne and Ellis.” Anthony released the baron and Thorne snarled at him. “You have nothing to fear. Lower your weapon.”

A muted light traveled down the alley. When the gentleman and his footman reached them, he held the lantern high, blinding Anthony.

“Have you been fighting?” a much too cheerful voice asked.

Anthony groaned under his breath. “Ledbery. Fancy meeting you this fine evening.”

“There’s blood. You have been fighting, haven’t you?”

Thorne shouldered past Anthony harder than necessary.

“Who threw the first punch?” Ledbery asked.

Thorne jabbed a finger in Anthony’s direction. “He attacked me and I assure you, it was unprovoked. He should be carted off to Bedlam.”

Ledbery’s smile fell. “Damnation. Were there any witnesses?”

“Only half the occupants of the Den,” Thorne spat.

Ledbery cursed again. “What’s the matter with you, Thorne? You have the temper of the devil himself. I had money on you throwing the first punch.”

Anthony didn’t have time for any more of this nonsense. He started down the alley toward his carriage. “Remember what I said, Thorne. The lady wants nothing to do with you. Steer clear of her.”

When Anthony reached the end of the alley, Thorne’s voice floated from the fog. “She will.”

Monday, January 6, 2014

What do you say?

This month is tremendously special to me. One; it is the month I will bring my two daughters into this world and the second; today, is the day I will bring my memoir into the world. In many ways, it is very apropos. I've not shared this with many friends or family, but I'm scared of the uncertainty of my delivery. Having given birth to my son, who is the heart of my memoir, I learned that life too often gives us the unexpected.

And I'm fully prepared for the unexpected in my delivery. Oh, close friends and family keep assuring me 'you'll be fine'...and I will. Because having my son with Down syndrome, well my life is better than fine--it's joyous. Yet there in the back, front, and side of every portion of my brain are the thoughts about these girls. Do they have any surprises in store, as Rory did? How will I handle it if they do? How will others handle it if they do? My husband and I are so fully prepared, we've even spoken with the doctors about how to handle our delivery and the discovery of any potential diagnosis.

With my due date imminent, it has brought me back to the day of my son's birth.

So, I take you into a part of my memoir where I reflect on how I, and those around me, handled the news of my son's diagnosis. 

What Do You Say?

            There was a custom when employees at my school had a baby. An email would go around. It would read; “____(Names) welcomed _____(fill in baby’s name) at ____(fill in the date and time). The baby is _____(fill in height and weight. Mom and Baby are doing well.
When I was trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, I would get pains of longing every time I read those emails. I imagined an email going around with the name of my child. His or her height and weight.
            So the morning I had Rory, the first phone call I made after my sister, was to my principal. It had to be close to seven in the morning, and I’d given birth not even six hours earlier. But I wanted my email. I wanted my phone call. I wanted my friends and colleagues to know that "On September 29th, at 12:25 in the morning. Christi and Douglas Caldwell welcomed Rory Celestino Caldwell into the world. He had come in weighing 7 lbs ½ an ounce and was 19 ½ inches long. Mother and baby were doing well."
            That phone call was made before I met Rory’s pediatrician. Before the suspicions of Down syndrome. Before the confirmed karyotype screening. I got my phone call.
            I’d learn later that the email hadn’t made it around to the entire school. It had somehow, uncharacteristically only been sent to the social studies department. I didn’t even get my email.
            When you have a baby, the feelings you want people to have are feelings of joy, excitement, happiness. When you have a baby and learn your baby has a disability, those feelings you yourself have of joy and excitement are all tempered with fear, sadness, and grief.
            The day Rory was born, I remember the almost tangible cloud hovering over the doctors, the nurses, the visitors I received. There were no genuine smiles, only forced expressions of happiness. You could see it. The brittle lift of the lips that could almost be shattered if they so much as moved the wrong way.
            Reflecting back, I wish people had smiled. I wish they had celebrated. I wish they had congratulated me and meant it. Because, ultimately any child’s life should be celebrated because their life is no less special, no less perfect.
            Instead, I find myself becoming the subject of what a person wants least in the world—pity. It is there from family, friends, and it is never spoken aloud but there are the silent sighs of relief--unbreathed in your presence, but with them when they’re alone—that it wasn’t them.
            I find myself hating the thoughts that I was surely the source of gossip.
            I remember sitting in my kitchen, in front of the computer, trying to write an email to one of my good friends who’d gone through fertility treatments the same time I did, pondering what I would say to her. What would I say to my colleagues who’d only heard my phone call reporting that all had been "perfect?" I was at a loss. I just wanted to say, my beautiful little baby is perfect and tell them of all he was doing. Tell them how I was doing. Yet, there was the reality of introducing the fact that my child has Down syndrome. How do you do it in a way that it doesn’t become the focus of your child’s birth?
            I had this vision in my head of people finding out the news. "Did you hear? Doug and Christi’s baby was born with Down syndrome.” There would be gasps, there would be gossip. Maybe some people jumped on the Internet to research Down syndrome. It was probably juicy morsel of information to most of the people who learned our son had been born with Down syndrome. To us, however, it wasn’t gossip—it was our life. It wasn’t, like it was for strangers, a conversation we had, and then moved on from. It was the rest of our lives.
            I went through a series of emotions in sharing Rory’s diagnosis.
            When I learned Rory had Down syndrome, there was a part of me, which felt inclined to share that information with anyone and everyone I spoke to. But by anyone and everyone, I meant strangers. Not my friends or family. Those people I didn’t know how to tell. I went on a walk with Rory when he was just a week old, and my neighbor came out to congratulate me.
            “He has Down syndrome.”
            I remember her genuine shock. Her mouth opened. She stumbled over her words; she didn’t know what to say.
            We had to go to our local hardware store….because, as though we didn’t have enough stress in our life, we were trying to sell our house. A worker came up to me and was oohing and aahing over my baby. I felt the need to tell her of Rory’s diagnosis. “Really?” She sounded surprised.
            Doug’s Uncle Louie owns an Italian restaurant. When we first brought Rory home from the hospital, both Louie and Doug’s sister, Sara, sent trays and trays and trays of food to us. One of the deliverymen came in with the order.
“He has Down syndrome.” I don’t even remember if he said anything.
            There were people I didn’t know how to tell. I didn’t know how to tell my friends and colleagues.
            I didn’t know how to tell my extended family.
            I didn’t have the energy for it.
            I had wanted to send around birth announcements. Yet…my grief, my confusion consumed me. I never got to send those announcements. Rather, I failed to send my announcements. That is my fault. I just didn’t have it in me.
            I wasn’t ashamed of my son. I was torn. I wanted my uninterrupted joy. I wanted my son to be celebrated. I didn’t want people to whisper about "Christi’s baby." I didn’t want people to feel bad. As sad as the news of Down syndrome was to me, I didn’t want pity. I wanted people to just see my son as they would any baby.
            I didn’t want people to have to weigh their words. I didn’t want people to say they were sorry. Because sorry implies mistake. Rory wasn’t a mistake in any regard—just the opposite, really.
            The feelings of telling everyone, of sharing that personal piece of information, faded as the weeks and months passed—as I came to know my son. I came to appreciate him as a little miracle. It was in the way my fingers itched to hold him every moment of every day, the way I’d wake up each morning like a child at Christmas and rush to his crib to see him smiling back. Suddenly Down syndrome wasn’t such a big deal; it wasn’t a big deal at all. It began to feel odd mentioning Rory had it, because he was so much more than Down syndrome. He was laughter. He was smiles. He was ticklish—from his toes to the crevice in the inner portion of his upper leg. He was a hard worker.
            We made the decision as parents that to announce Rory had Down syndrome was to let it define him. And that wouldn’t be fair to Rory. It wouldn’t be fair to any child for that matter, to define them by something they happened to be born with. He isn’t a Down syndrome baby, as many people who are unfamiliar with people-first language say—he is just a baby…who happens to have Ds.
            I would learn later that unless you have a child with a disability, that such silence won’t make sense...

What I Wish It Had Been....
At some point, I'll deliver my twin girls. I don't know if they'll have a surprise in store for me. But whether it is me, or someone else you know in life who gives birth to a child with special needs, the best advice I can give is the following:
~Just smile and laugh and be happy. Celebrate the life of the child(ren) because all life is great and should be honored. 
~Anything you would do for a woman who gives birth to a typical child...do it for the mother of a child with special needs.
~Visit them either at home or at the hospital. (And again, do so with smiles and laughter). 
~Don't pity the family because it is an emotion no one wants. 
~And, if you're feeling generous, bring them food and balloons... : )  

About the Memoir:
Uninterrupted Joy: Memoir: My Journey through Infertility, Pregnancy, and Special Needs: January 2014

The following journey was never intended for publication. It was written from a mother, to her unborn child. The words detailed her struggle through infertility and the joy of finally being pregnant. A stunning revelation at her son's birth opened a world of both fear and discovery. This is the story of one mother's love and hope and... her quest for uninterrupted joy.

Dr. Brian Skotko Co-Director Down Syndrome Program, Massachusetts General Hospital says:

"On an exasperating quest to have a child, one mother finds perfection where she least expects it. This book is an emotional companion for any couple feeling alone, with their faith shaken, after receiving a postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome for their child."

Links to Purchase:
Amazon (Kindle Edition): http://amzn.to/1lJos0L  
Barnes and Noble (NookBook): http://bit.ly/1bJuc4Z 
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/196TDm0 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Triumph, trials, and blessings ... looking forward to 2014

My email reminder that I had a blog post due on January 2nd was a surprise. The post was on my calendar; I should have known it was coming. But I didn't. So, I was trying to decide what to write about for January 2nd and "A Year in Review" seemed like it had to happen. Blog post at the beginning of a new year--who wouldn't write a post that reviewed their year?

The sticking point (and there's always a sticking point) is that I'm a private person and my year in review requires me to mention some personal things. I hemmed and hawed and even created other new posts in my mind, but a new year is all about facing things that scare you, so here it goes.

{deep breath}

2013 in Review

By all public measures, 2013 was a fantastic year. The triumphs part of the year is pretty obvious. Professionally, I went from having ZERO books published in 2012 to having two books published in 2013. And, A Promise for the Baby is out this month, Weekends in Carolina is scheduled for June and I'm writing book five (Book five! Can you believe it?). It seems like I went from being just another person pounding the keys to having books in Walmart overnight.

The trials part of the year is less public, and yet also painfully obvious. While I was publishing romances, my marriage fell apart. This also seems to have happened overnight (though like writing, I'm sure it took time and effort). I have been having to learn to talk and think about myself in a different way and I have not always been successful at it.

But the trial also comes with blessings. I am surrounded by really wonderful people. Before this year, I would have been able to say they were great, but I'm not sure I really felt how blessed I was in every atom of my body and down to the very core of my soul. I know that now. I hope it's a lesson I don't forget when all of this passes.

Looking forward to 2014

What does this mean for me in 2014? I'm sure there are still lots of changes to be had. I'm learning how to be by myself. The opportunities and challenges of my new life are tied up in one another; I hope to be worthy of them both. Professionally, while at times it has been hard to sit down and write about two people falling in love, writing and reading romance has been a constant reminder that I do believe in love and the joy of sharing your life with another person.

I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but I'm toying with the idea of one this year. I'd like to be better about concentrating on my blessings and less on my struggles. Congratulate myself more on my successes and castigate myself less on my failures. Be a kinder, gentler person both to myself and to others. That seems a worthy goal. I'm not sure how to measure it, but it is something I can reach for. If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

So, what about you? Share your triumphs, trials, blessings, and hopes for 2014. We can count those blessing together.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's hard for me to believe

It’s hard for me to believe I’ve gone and done it again! I jumped! Right into a new genre. Well, maybe jumped isn’t the right word since it took me almost two years to write this book. I dipped my toe into the urban fantasy/paranormal romance waters and found the temperature to my liking.

I’ve always been a firm believer that a writer should not limit themselves to one genre if they have another story in another genre that they want to tell, and that’s what happened to me. One night my husband and I were talking about Greek mythology and he was telling me how Sirens would lure sailors to their death, according to legend. By the way, this conversation started because I had a question about a ship route for one of my Regency books! Who says Regencies and paranormal books can’t share common elements! Anyway, the next day I was working out and listening to a band called Mother Love Bone. The song “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns” came on and the idea for my new book Echoes in the Silence popped into my head.
It was a tiny seed of an idea that grew and planted serious roots. I was in the middle of writing my second Regency novel, so I made some notes and shelved the idea, but I never could quite forget it. One day, when I needed a break from writing Regencies, I brought my notes out for Echoes in the Silence and started writing the book. I wrote about half the book, before my Regency books really started to take off and I had to shelve the paranormal/urban fantasy book to make time to promote my Regencies and write the next book.

Life is weird, and I am constantly reminded of that. When I had basically decided I’d probably never get back to finishing this book, I found myself on an unexpected trip to New Orleans with my husband. This book is partly set in New Orleans, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do research for the book! I got so many great ideas while in New Orleans for Echoes in the Silence that I went home and shelved my Regencies to finish writing this book!

It took nearly a year and a half to see it published, and life interrupted many more times, but what I’ve come to learn is sometimes you just can’t ignore what your heart tells you to write. This book was released two days ago, and I hope that you readers will love reading it just as much as I loved writing it.
Here is a little blurb:

The saying Love Kills could be the epitaph on Alyse Estes’ tombstone if only she could die. An immortal descended from a mythical Siren race, she’s fated to find her soul mate in the race of her sworn enemy, the Cordisi. As if that’s not troublesome enough, she's also destined to bear him the daughter who will eventually kill him. Alyse knows just how inescapable the curse can be. After all, she killed her own father. But all of her attempts to make a perfectly normal, perfectly respectable, perfectly safe life for herself come tumbling down when she meets Maximillian Rheinhart. 

One graze of Max's hand brings the reality of her dark past―and her darker future―rushing to the surface. He's mysterious, alluring, unaware Alyse is a Siren...and he wants her. Death roulette is not exactly the kind of foreplay she wants with love, but Max is a force of nature. He's everywhere―at the law firm that just hired her and the club she goes to, in her inexplicably, realistic daydreams and the dark nightmares that haunt her sleep―and he's very convincing. He's also the Cordisi whose father is a Hunter intent on wiping out the Siren race.

Despite her efforts to resist Max, he captures her heart. She has one chance to save herself and the man that she's come to need, but to guarantee Max's safety, she might have to lose his love or succumb to what she’s fought all her life―accepting the Siren within.

And here is a sneak peek!

I felt like a naughty school child who’d just been purposely cruel. I wanted to apologize and offer comfort, a sure sign of trouble. I had to get away from Max. I shoved off from the ground and yelped as a piece of glass dug into the same damn cut.
He whipped to his feet and grabbed my hand. “I’ve got it.”
“No shit.” I tugged. “I’ll take it back now.”
Instead of releasing me, he tightened his grip. “Just let me get the glass.”
Before I could protest, I felt a tug and the glass was gone. My heart pounded from his touch. I tried to jerk my hand away, but no dice. Physically, he was much stronger. “Please let me go.” Damn. Why did my voice have to sound breathless? I cleared my throat. “I can take care of myself.”
He traced a finger beside the deep, bloody gash before releasing me. “Looks like you could use some help.”
Part of my warped brain liked his offer. I’d never had help in my life. I didn’t count my mom. Her help had kept me deadly. This was a nightmare. I couldn’t allow myself to contemplate any offer from Max. Today he offered help, but tomorrow he might smile pleasantly while killing me. “I don’t need any help.” I bit each word out.
He cocked his head. “You know, I’ve said those exact same words.”
“So.” I jutted my chin out. Screw pride coming before a great fall.
So I just realized how idiotic I must have sounded,” he drawled.
My brain registered the offense and my mouth dropped open.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Max and Alyse were so much fun to create! I especially liked that I could use songs I love to help me think of scenes for the book. Do you love music? If so, do you have a song that has helped you get through a hard time or reminds you of a really good time in your life? One lucky commenter will win an ecopy of my new book! Be sure to leave your name and email with your comment.

You can find Echoes in the Silence (The Siren Saga) Book One at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Just click the links and it will take you straight to the book to buy it. 

Happy New Year!