Interview by Kenya!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kenya. She was a member of my writers group, and hopefully will be again when she returns to Alabama.  YAY!

She has this wonderful group on Facebook called The KGB:  The Ks Grown & Sexy Book Club.

She sent me the following questions to prepare for the interview. There were some great questions. To make sure my mind wouldn’t go blank, I filled them out and even cheated on the video interview by glancing at them.  LOL!

So if you want to join her group and check out the video (plus many other authors), here’s the link. The KGB.  Lots of fun!

Who are you and what genre to do you write?

Female legs and revolverCarla Swafford AND I WRITE ACTION/ADVENTURE  ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (lots of car chase scenes and running around – think James Bond); and recently I’ve delved into hockey romance!  LOVE Hockey! GO PREDATORS! What romance book popped your cherry?
Oh, my, I was young. Around 12. Roberta Gellis, Bond of Blood.  Got it because it had a horse and knight on it.  I didn’t understand the sex scene until I reread it years later.  Still love the story though it has stretches of history information.  One thing about older romances, they go into more details than necessary.


What was the last romance book blew your mind?

The most recent one was Kerrigan Byrne’s The Hunter.  I actually listened to the book through Audible.  It’s a regency but different. The hero was to kill the heroine (that’s not unusual in the type of books I read). Maybe it was the narration mixed with the writing and hero who wasn’t pushy, but a here-I-am, take-me-as-I-am sort. He didn’t try to change for her or be an ass. It struck the right notes for me that I bought it in paperback so I can read it the old fashioned way. Maybe get a better idea of what was about the book that I loved so much it.  I rarely buy paperback anymore.   

How did you get started writing romance?

Back in the eighties, my favorite authors took their time in writing books (I understand that), so I got tired of waiting and decided I have a good imagination, and instead of waiting for an author to write the book I really want, I would write it myself.  Took me a few years, between kids, a full time job, and life, I finished it, but it was horrible and I knew it. I had no idea how to go about improving it. So I wrote another one. The first was a historical romance, and I thought a contemporary would be easier. LOL!  It was a romantic suspense.   Horrible again. But it didn’t take as long to write.  Not long after that I found out about RWA.  I joined in 1993.  

Which one of your heroes would you risk it all for?

That’s a good question. For I love all of my guys.  I guess I’ll have to go with my favorite, Jack, and sadly, his story got cut short. His is in a novella (Circle of Defiance), but he shows up in all of my Circle books. He’s funny, loves his cat, made sure his brother married the woman his brother had loved for so long. He keeps falling in love with women he can’t have, until Katerina (a mob boss’s daughter), and he loves to recite poetry when he’s in a romantic mood.  He shaves

Female legs and revolverhis head and has tats and piercings all over his upper torso.

If there was an apocalyptic disaster what is your weapon and what character in any book would you want by your side?

Olivia St. Vincent from my book Circle of Desire.  She can kick butt and is a great shot with a sniper rifle.

What was your best fan moment as a fan girl or as an author?

Oh, how to choose. I’ve been fortunate to meet most if not all of my of my favorite authors.  I have to say, Anne Stuart. She’s so much fun.  One of the writers in my RWA chapter knew her well enough to ask her to be a speaker at one of our luncheons.  I was appointed (like I begged to be appointed) as the contact to pick her up at the airport. Anne Stuart was having a problem with a knee, so she had airport assistance in bringing her in a wheelchair to where I was to meet her.  There she sat in her wheelchair coming up a gangway and I stood in a crowd of people waiting. I held a sign that said, “Anne Stuart:  I’m your number one fan.”  She started laughing when I turned it for it read “I don’t own an ax.” (Referring to Stephen King’s Misery.)

Favorite trope to read and favorite trope to write?

Favorite Trope to READ:  marriage of convenience (historical Romance or contemporary). Thus why I wrote JAKE: A Southern Crime Family novel.
Favorite Trope to WRITE:  I guess most people who read my books can tell, most of my books have something about protecting family, especially younger 
siblings.

What do you have on deck next?

Presently writing a second book, Fake Play, in the Atlanta Edge Hockey team’s world.  I love it when a heroine goes to Las Vegas to party and turns up married to the hero and doesn’t remember a thing (or close to it) the next morning.

But my latest book for sale is JAKE: A Southern Crime Family novel.  It’s that favorite trope of mine.  Marriage of convenience. 

In your own words tell us about this book?

Female legs and revolverJake is the eldest of three sons to the meanest man in Marystown, Alabama. Someone has killed the old man and they have to find the murderer.  When he’s shot at during the funeral, he chases down a suspect that turns out to be Angel Tally. Angel is the granddaughter to the patriarch of the Tally family. She proceeds to tell him he has to marry her. He doesn’t believe her. But he can’t help remembering the time in high school when she stole his wallet, and he gave her a spanking.  She remembers too, and wants to experience his hand on her ass again. She’s always had a thing for him, but she needs to take care of her teenaged brother. Protect him from the life she lives as a collector for the Tally family and far away from the crazy Whitfields. Jake has a secret to protect and having a wife is not in the cards, especially a dangerous, untrustworthy Tally.  Then his father’s will is read.  It does appear he and Angel will be marrying. Otherwise, all of his plans to go legit will go to hell with his father.

What prompted this series & these particular characters ?

I had to think about this for a little while. Let’s say when I was growing up, most of the heroes I watched in the movies and TV where anti-heroes. Like Jack 
Nicholson in Easy Rider, Marlon Brando in The Godfather, and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. I think that’s why I read and write guys who are not necessarily nice guys. Though in the end, they are often on their knees begging for forgiveness or promising a good time. Anyway, because I love bad boys (and married to one), I decided to write a book about a family of bad men. I set it in the south because those are the type of guys I know.

What was the challenge in writing these characters?

The challenge is showing they can be assholes without making the readers (and their love interest) hate them. I have to show they are the way they are because of their upbringing. They are trying to improve their life. Especially Jake. We are yet to see what Sen and Ethan think about Jake’s plan for their father’s businesses.

What is your writing process like?
I used to write and write and write and then go back and change and correct and get frustrated all the way through. I would hate the book before I got through. It made me a slow writer. But when I was writing for Random House, they wouldn’t let me just provide a paragraph on what I want to write next (Like HarperCollins Avon had) and go with it. They asked for an outline. OUTLINE?! So I took Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat (for screen writers) book and used his beat Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00009]sheet to make my outline.

I realized two things. It helped to get my ADD brain to concentrate and make the plot work without having to tweak it over and over again. And helped me to write the story faster. Working full time (and during the summer that is usually around 50 hours a week) and doing all the other things a woman has to do, I can write a 60,000 to 80,000 book in 5 months. That’s doesn’t include editing by the outside editor though. I would like to point out I do not necessarily follow the outline all the way through the book, but if I get stuck, I can look at it and I’m off writing again.

Readers often want to know where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

From reading other romance books, movies, news reports, gossip, magazines, etc. I have a vivid imagination. Usually it’s only a scene or character that strikes my fancy and I decide I have a better idea, or different way to present something or someone. (Christy Reece’s Second Chance with the hero being manipulated by the bad guys through a drug lead to me writing Circle Danger and heroine under the influence of bad guys’ drugs.)

Best thing about writing romance and being an author?

Hearing people say they love my books and want to read more. It’s like hearing people say your child has great manners and was brought up right.

Two things people would be surprised to know about you?

noSXAHh6TCK0nRukrY0c2gI was RWA’s Pro Mentor of The Year in 2015
I was first author to be pulled from the slush pile when HarperCollin’s started Avon Impulse

Where do you write or favorite place to write?

At my desk at home.  Working full time, I often write whenever/wherever I have the time.

Your favorite type of heroine to write; your favorite type of heroine one to read?

I like all types, read or write.  She can be a bitch if she has a reason (logically) to be one and finds her softer side and wants to improve at some point in the book.  She can be a wimp as longs as she develops a backbone when she never thought she could. In other words, they grow as a person.  Just as a perfect heroine (goody-two-shoes and all) must show her flaws along the way to being a real person.

Who is your favorite author right now?

Louise Bay. Love her sexy men.  Especially the English ones.

What’s on your keepers shelf?

Linda Howard, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lorraine Heath, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Ashley, Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas.
Most recent of course is The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne,


Who is your all-time favorite book boyfriend?

John Medina.  Linda Howard’s book titled ALL THE QUEEN’S MEN.  It put a spark in me to write CIRCLE OF DESIRE.  Nothing alike except they’re both Romantic Suspense and dangerous men.

What is your all-time favorite book?

I just don’t have it in me to say one. They are usually the books I read more than once.  Linda’s book I mentioned before; because it had all the things I like in a romantic suspense: mystery, danger, action, sexy moments, humor, and a good twist.


Then Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Autistic hero); Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice (Asian hero); Megan McKinney’s Lions and Lace (Irish hero); Lorraine Heath’s Lord of Wicked Intentions (Hero has issues about being touched);  Candace Camp’s (written as Lisa Gregory) The Rainbow Season (Bad boy married good girl in turn of 20th century).  I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting.

 

Newly Designed Website

How do you like my newly designed website? I should’ve been writing but the way my website looked after changing it about a month ago really bugged me. So I worked on it all afternoon until 2:30 a.m. in the morning. I think I finally got it right and love it. What do you think?

If you’re wondering, it’s a template provided by WordPress. They have some great offers and no they are not paying me to say that. But I believe in saying up front if I had help and I sure did.

Now for me to get back to writing. That’s what I really love. Some good news to come soon. Probably by next weekend.

You Are Important For Real

So you never thought to do this, but I bet someone you know has thought about it or has tempted it or done it. So please copy and paste on your social media, everywhere.

Did you know that if you text 741741 when you are feeling depressed or suicidal, a crisis worker will text you back immediately and continue to text with you? Many people, especially younger folks, do not like talking on the phone and would be more comfortable texting. It’s a free service to ANYONE!

This text crisis line works in all states in the continental United States.

Or if you do want to talk with a human, call 800-273-8255.

So good to know for yourself, loved ones, coworkers, etc.!!! Asking for help is so brave and so worth it ❤️

#SuicideAwareness
#YouAreImportantForReal

If you are elsewhere, please insert your country’s phone numbers and website.

Want more info, check out the website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

And yes, suicide is on the rise in the USA.

Click here to see how it affected me.

Have You Lost Your Marbles

marblesWhen I was a kid, boys played with marbles. Girls played with jacks. I felt we girls got gypped. Marbles were so pretty. Thankfully, I had a male cousin who was cool enough to teach me how to play.

My sister used to love to heat marbles in a pan. It cracked the glass. Looked rather pretty, but it always made me sad.

Then it became popular to use marbles in clear vases to have flowers to stand straight. Awesome. Oh, yes. I have quite a few.

Now I have three grandsons and the middle boy LOVES marbles. Maybe next time he comes over, I’ll teach him how to play.  I think he’ll like it.

In The Fast Food Lane

In The Fast Food Lane

parking spaces

Like many Americans I love to eat fast food and most times, I enjoy walking in and taking it easy before heading back to the day job. One thing I noticed is all fast food places have skinny parking places. Really? What are they trying to do? Keep us from coming inside? Make us use their drive-through?

My car has a ding on the passenger door because of those stupid parking spaces, but I want to eat inside. I don’t want to make a mess in my car.

And of course, like every eating place I’ve ever been to, fast or formal dining, the restrooms have only one to three stalls. What’s up with that? I had to wait in line the other day for one out of two stalls provided. Women have to move clothes a lot to take care of business. Not just a zipper and undies. So it takes time.

I do say, I get tickled seeing men stand in lines for the restroom at an ice rink. Probably because there are often more men than women attending. Oh, yes, I loved walking straight into the restroom during a hockey game. No wait. Awesome!

Another reason to love hockey!

Love and Hate of the Outlander Series (Books)

outlander
http://ew.com/tv/every-ew-outlander-cover/march-4-2016-issue

First, let me say I LOVE the character Jamie in the book and TV series. His character is well-written, manly man with emotions and all the charm of what an American can imagine a Scotsman would be. He’s the only reason I listen to the books or watch any of the TV series. There is a small possibility I would have READ the full series just for him, but only a small chance. Nine hundred plus pages of one story is way too much to me, and really I can’t believe I listened to the series through the third book. Audio is the way to go. Davina Porter is a wonderful narrator.

Nevertheless, so many times I screamed at the audio (in my car alone) for the narrator to hurry the f**k up. The person pattered on about some of the most obvious and boring crap when all I wanted to know was what the person had to say or did or she/he would just die.

Personally, I could’ve deleted one-third, that’s being lenient, and the story would be the same and so much better.

Claire is a woman who lives in the now even if it was more than 200 years before she was born. I get so tired of her believing she must be the one to jump in and solve everything. She never thinks of the consequence beyond her need to be in control. Some would call her a strong-willed woman, personally, I thought she was totally self-centered. There’s a difference between brave and stupid.  Claire was often stupid.

I think extremely long books are like soap operas. You get tired of all the angst and nothing going right. You need a break and it takes, if you’re lucky, hundreds of pages before the author thinks to lighten things up. I began to feel bad for everyone in the book along with myself. It is sad how Jamie meets trouble after trouble. No one has that much to go bad, but I understand why the author had to do it. If you’re going to write nine-hundred pages, you have to have something bad to happen over and over and over and over again. Yes. I could’ve dropped a couple of those overs, but I wanted to show how unnecessary they were to make a point. Hell, I could’ve cut half of this post.

Once again, that’s why I don’t love long series with the same lead character.

Latin names of plants, diseases, etc. WHY?! I couldn’t care less. Only interested if that was my field of study. I love history, but I read non-fiction for the details.

There. For almost two years I held up this post because I wanted to see if I changed my mind. Even the TV series didn’t help me do that. I fast forward in Claire’s scenes because she irritates me. All I can say is the only reason Jamie stays with her — when she’s in his time zone – ha! — is because she’s a good lay. There has to be reason.

Of course, what do I know? Just my lowly opinion. Millions of people love this long-ass series. They’re best sellers. Congrats to the author. I do believe the author is a talented writer, and I’ve heard the storytelling improved as the series went along. But life is too short for that much angst between the same two (or twenty) characters, and there are many wonderful — shorter, like 80,000 to 100,000 words — stories out there to read.

Besides, I have to save time to write my poor, pitiful short stories (60,000 to 80,000 words).  LOL!

I Love Bookmarks!

bookmark back Brothers of Mayhem
The back of my latest bookmark

Bookmark for Brothers of Mayhem
The front of my latest bookmark

I want to mention something I feel strongly about. When my writers group’s luncheon was over, I went to the large trash can to throw away an empty box. I looked in and to my horror were LOTs of bookmarks, booklets, post cards, in other words, paper promo out of at least two giveaway bags. I wonder if those readers noticed a card had a code for a free ebook? To those readers, they thought of it as trash, but to the authors who provided the material that represented money.

But let’s not think of the authors who sent the paper promo to help you decide on what to buy, let’s think of the other readers out in the local area or your area who would have LOVED to have a bookmark or information about a local reader? If you were the reader(s) who did that, please be nice and not throw them away at the luncheon, instead go to your local library and ask them if they are interested in them for their readers? I bet they would be thrilled. Plus they would love to talk with you about the luncheon and who all you met. A good way to make a friend.

Do you have any other suggestions?

The Beast Inside

I’m screaming inside right now.

That’s what happens when you hear news you don’t want. As a reasonable human being with manners, you know you should never scare the people around you. You should grin and bear it. Never let people see you cry or be upset. Otherwise, you’ll have to explain what happened. When you explain, you relive the devastating reality. Then people give you platitudes you can live without. Usually, they say those things because they believe it’s the proper thing to do. So in other words, they say the words to make themselves feel better.

All you can tolerant is someone who will talk about the nice weather. So you keep your mouth shut and manage a faint grin.

Most people do not understand how I feel, so I rather not hear their opinion or receive their sympathy. I keep the screaming inside until I’m numb and can come to terms with the person I am, not the one who I thought I was.

Yet I move on.

What Did You Say?

Beautiful Woman Enjoys CoffeeSo you’re planning to speak to a group of writers. Most guest speakers will give a little spiel about themselves.  All good. Be sure to tell the things that have relevance to what you’re going to talk about. Sure, you can include a short little story about that time you climbed a mountain, but make sure it’s funny or interesting. Otherwise, drop it.

So you want to enlighten your audience on how your company or organization came to be? Or how the industry changed over the last few years. Be sure to keep it short. Chances are you’re telling your audience what they already know.

I have found that I rarely hear a speech that inspires me. When I do, it is usually because they have told me something I didn’t know, and/or I find it to be of use.

If I can read your slide(s), and they follow along with what you’re saying without adding anything, then they are defeating the purpose. You’ll bore your audience.

You’re probably asking, what should I do?  Of course, follow the major key points on the slides, but colored in between the areas with more information or explanations in your speech. In other words, be sure to explain (in an interesting way) publicwhy those key points are important.

Include “real life” points. That’s when I love hearing about the speaker’s life and their experiences. Or maybe their friend’s or information about a stranger’s experience that’s been verified. Or a funny or emotional, fictional the-moral-to-the-story point. If you’re not funny (personally, I’m sarcastic, not funny), place unexpected pictures or comics in the middle of your slides. It will wake your audience up. Be sure to keep it relevant, borderline relevant is okay.

Be sure to keep your pace steady, but take a couple seconds in between points. Breathe. Do not over explain. Modulate your voice. NO!  Not into a monotone. More into a good rhythm. Stopping and going in a middle of a sentence will make the audience wonder if you know what you’re talking about. UNLESS, you’re using it to make a point or draw attention. Do be sure to practice the presentation. And it’s okay to be excited at times about what you’re talking about. Try to smile though most of the speech. It will come through in your tone.

picture
(Don’t be a dinosaur)

Do you stand behind the podium? Do you stay in a chair? NO! Get up. Move around. Use your hands. Wave them around on occasion. Like everything in life, do not overdo. Spread the love in various ways.

The most important thing to remember is DO NOT READ YOUR SPEECH.  🙂  Print out an outline of the key points you want to tell the audience. If you’re near to being blind like me, blow up the print. And again, practice your speech.

Love My Shirt

img_1260For those who don’t know, I love hockey. See the jersey my husband’s cousin and his wife got me? I LOVE IT! I promise, Dan, I’ll get hubby to take my picture when I wear it. I’ve worn it at home a couple times already.

I have three favorite hockey players on the Nashville Predator’s team: Forsberg, Johansen, and Arvidisson. So I cherish my Forsberg jersey. It’s fantastic! I have tickets for a game this month and will be wearing it proudly.

If you don’t know, my love of hockey blossomed only a little over a year ago. Hey, I am a southern girl and most people in the South do not watch it, but I have to point out it’s becoming more popular each year down here. What with the Nashville Predators (Go Preds!) and the two teams in Florida. But people ask me all the time, why?

Think about it, college football is king in the South, but football has never caught my interest. I swear I’ve tried.

I love NASCAR (I haven’t turned in my Southern Belle card yet) and 48 Jimmie Johnson (yum), but the fast cars no longer hold my attention like when Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was alive.

Truthfully, I could tell you all the things that led me to it, but mainly, I’ve found that I enjoy it for many reasons.

The fast pace:  The NHL players hit speeds of 20 to 30 miles an hour during 60 minutes of play, broken up in 20 minute periods. Each player will be on the ice for spurts of one to two minutes. Usually adding up to 15 to 20 minutes of play during the whole game. That doesn’t sound like much? Let me see you run with anywhere 15 to 25 pounds of equipment for that long. And that’s with someone chasing and slamming into you.

The strategy:  Think of it, they have to figure out how to get that little puck around that huge goalie and into the net while everyone else is wanting to take it from you. Teamwork is a major part of winning. Of course, that’s all true of any team sport.

The athletic stamina:  Re-read what I said in “fast pace” above.  OMG! Those big men on thin blades, falling or being pushed down or into the boards (the sides of the rink) and then jumping up as if nothing happened. They freaking amaze me.

The fights: Of course, I do get a little excited — no matter how sick it sounds — when a good fight breaks out, even if they are only shoving at each other. Men will be men, and I love celebrating that, especially since it is in a controlled environment. (Though I don’t care for boxing if you’re wondering.) Besides, next year, those same men could be traded to the same team and be best buds. I swear, that’s one of the things I love about men. They know how to prioritize.

And I’m not a violent woman, though I write about violent men all the time in my books. Maybe there’s something deep inside I’ve never been aware of until I got older. Neither here or there.

Graceful, healthy men:   Yes, all things come down to men in my interests. I’ve come to terms with my hang up, so everyone needs to get over it.  *smirk*

Let me enjoy my sport. I’m proud that I finally picked one, and I personally think it’s the best.

Letter to Realtors

our-house
Picture of our house years ago

In the next six months, hubby and I plan to sell our house of 23 years and move closer to the grandkids and our moms.  Presently, we’re around an hour away and the traffic between the families are getting worse each year.

 
So we’re moving into the country on the other side of the city, and we’re a little excited about it. And if you’re wondering, NO, WE ARE NOT DOWNSIZING. Why do people keep asking that? If we lived in a huge house, I could understand it, but we don’t. I had to tell people, if we move into a smaller home, I will have to strangle my hubby.

 
We have already started looking at homes in the areas we’re interested in. I have to say some people have poor taste when it comes to decorating their homes, while others are borderline hoarders. With that being said, hubby and I plan to donate the majority of our attic to the Good Will. We are presently forcing our daughters to take their childhood stuff that was stored in said attic into their homes. Now they are donating all of their precious memories they asked us to keep. HA! I knew it.

Anyway, we’ve already learned a lot about what we can expect for our money. And wow, there is a lot for the realtors to learn about taking pictures of those homes. So here’s my letter to the ladies and gentlemen selling homes (same goes to the “for sale by owner” sellers).

Realtors, when taking pictures of the houses you have for sale, remember the following.

1. Invest in a good digital camera. Heck, even some (expensive) phones have pretty good cameras in them now. Please have your children, niece, nephew, grandchildren show you how to use it correctly. Then the picture won’t be blurred or too dark.

2. I don’t care what the shower curtain looks like, or the beautiful foyer table. Close ups of those will not sale the house. Those items will be going with the original owners, unless the house comes furnished. Then I will throw away the curtain (yuck, germs), and sell most or all of the furnishings.

3. Similar to number two, but reference house fixtures staying there. Don’t take up-close pictures of the commode (double yuck), sink, dishwasher, or light fixtures. It’s amazing how I can tell what they are by looking at a picture of the whole room.

4. Speaking of dark, take the pictures during the day and not a cloudy day or late evening. Open the curtains. Dark rooms are depressing and I don’t want a depressing house. Or invest in a photographer’s light. Check Ebay or Craig’s list. Photographers are selling them all the time to upgrade or get out of the business.

5. Why are you showing pictures of trees and bushes? Be sure the outside of the house is in the picture if you do. One picture will do for that area. Not ten of the same spot from different angles.

6. Diplomatically, ask the owner to take down family pictures. We must imagine living there with our family pictures. This includes their favorite team’s memorabilia to make it look less obsessed. Of course, the same goes for their turtle collection.

7. Two pictures of the same room from different angles are fine, if you must. But please, I don’t need individual pictures of the window, closet, built-in shelves, and overhead light (see #3 above). I’ll come and visit the house if I’m interested and check them out.

What would you add?

Out of My Control

There are times I have to say it over and over again. Oddly, I think about John Malkovich’s character saying “It’s beyond my control.” He was using it as a manipulation to drive another woman nuts. I use it to keep myself from going crazy worrying about things I have no true control over. I keep moving. I keep trying to look at the brighter side.

On my dad’s death in 2014, I’m sure he thought he left his affairs in order. He had a will and divided all his possessions between his three children. Easy-peasy.

Uh, no.

Dad had/has a loan on his house and market (flea market type building and land). The market has a buyer for it, but will take years to clear up. Long story. Today, we finally received a couple offers on the house. Another long story.

See, in 2007, my dad had a stroke. He owned a trucking company (he sold afterwards), and he and his co-driver had stopped at a rest stop in Virginia when it happened. If he had cooperated with the EMTs that were called in and gone to the local hospital, he probably would have recovered at least 80% to 90%. Heck, who knows, maybe in 100%. But he refused and waited until he arrived in Alabama before going to a hospital. NEVER DO THAT. Go immediately to the hospital. Have someone drive you or call 911 and tell them you’re having a stroke. Don’t worry if you’re wrong. Just do it.

So because of the stroke, he had numbness on his right side, and in turn, problems with falling and not being able to get up. And he had difficulties with speaking. He could talk, but every few words or so wouldn’t come out. He’d get so frustrated.

All of this was very hard for him. He loved working and talking, and suddenly he found he couldn’t do those two things.

I have to mention. My dad walked with a cane (his right side remained numb). Since his mouth wouldn’t work correctly (as he liked to say), he talked slower and with a stutter. I can’t tell you how upset I became with service people in restaurants and stores. They would talk to him as if he was a child or dumb. He wasn’t. People have to remember, just because a person has a problem talking, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re mentally deficient.

He continued to have physical problems. I believe toward the end, his depression grew until his being unable to work, unable to communicate, and unable to replenish his funds pushed him to do the only thing he thought would make everything better for everyone. He walked out of his home into the side yard and shot himself in the head.

In the year and seven months since then, I’ve worried about so much. I guess my biggest worry is that other people I love will begin to believe this is a solution to all their troubles. To me, it appears suicide can be contagious. Over the last thirty years, I have had three relatives on the same side of the family to commit suicide.

Please believe me. Your troubles might end, but you have created many, many problems for those left behind. For those who love you. For those who care about you. There will be a hole in their lives that can never be filled. They’ll wonder over and over again,”if only I did something different.” Tell them what’s happening. They would want to know. I swear.

Anyway, if you ever think of ending your life, be sure to call 800-273-8255. One of the great things about the Internet is how you can search out ways to move you from such dark thoughts. But why not talk to a live person who is trained to help you?

If you had a love one to have a stroke, be sure to click here and read the number one killer. Depression.

If you had a family member or love one who committed suicide, be sure to read this.

It’s a horrible thing, but you don’t have to be alone. Find the right people to talk about it, especially if the rest of the family or friends try to ignore it or say stupid things like, it was for the best. No. It wasn’t.

Anyway, I felt it was time for me to talk about it. I have a couple friends I told after it happened. Otherwise, only my family and I have talked about it and very little. I just hope and pray others will never have to go through it.

Why did I pick today to tell you about it? Because it’s my dad’s birthday. He would have been 85. I rather celebrate his birth. And if I can help one person, it will be worth typing the extremely personal details above.

Happy birthday, Dad. I love and miss you.

Head Explodes

Angry, Frustrated WomanYep. Some days I feel my head will explode from all that I have to do and remember. I’m sure you’re the same way. So much information is thrown our way each day. Heck! Each second! I think all the information we receive in some ways makes us aware but not really smarter. So we have to decide what is important and what isn’t. So over the years I’ve narrowed down what I watch and read.

I’m looking forward to retiring from my day job. Then I can empty my head of all the useless (will be after I leave) information and make room for what I love. Reading and writing romance. Improving my craft, learning new ways to promote my books (if you don’t know they exist, how would you know to read them?), and so many interesting facets to being a published author.

One of my big drawbacks is my self-confidence. I believe a lot of authors have that problem. So something I read today I have to share with you. It got me to thinking. (HA!)

From Wizard of Oz
Wizard: Not having fear isn’t brave, it’s foolhardy. Any real hero knows fear.
Cowardly Lion: I’ll tell you one thing though, so does a real coward.
Wizard: The difference is a hero masters his fear.

So here’s to mastering my fears.

~~

On January 15, I will be at the Romance Magicians’ blog.  Come by and see me!

What Model Of Alpha Do You Want?

tumblr_myfffeXLM61srko8to1_r1_500Reviews are a double edge sword. Authors want and need them to get the word out about their books, but reviews with low ratings and pure hate for a book are not helpful in my opinion. The reason I say it that way is that I had a well-known blogger tell me even horrible reviews can help sell a book. You know, everyone wanting to see if a book is really as terrible as everyone is saying. Heaven forbid, if that ever happens to me. I’m all for the positive hook.

Anyway, reviews per se is not what this post is about.

Occasionally, I read reviews from some of my favorite authors. Why you ask? Whenever I’m feeling down about my writing (what the fuck am I doing?) and need to see even my favorite NYT bestselling authors have a handful of disparagers among their hundreds of five star reviews. Yesterday, I was looking at an author whose publisher had released her backlist in ebook. So thrilling because now I can get copies for my iPad and the paperbacks can stay on my shelves in good condition.

On one hand, I was surprised by the many one stars (and anger) for books I love of hers. As I read the reviews, the main theme appeared to be the way the heroes treated the heroines.

See, from 1970s to 1990s, it had been popular for the heroes to be what I call supreme alphas. It started with the bodice rippers (literally, and by the way, I freaking hate that term for current day romance in general). Yes. Historical romances were queen in the beginning and the heroes thought nothing of ripping the bodice off the heroines. It was so different from what women had been reading before then. I can get into the dynamics of the sexual revolution and birth control and woman finding out they loved sex when there was little fear of pregnancy (only 2% to 9% fear as pills are 91% to 98% effective), but that is still not what this post is about.

In my dear favorite author’s earlier books, the heroes bossed and took over the heroines’ lives as if the women had no sense at all. At the time, and to a point nowadays, I love reading books with those types of heroes. But from what I’ve read in other articles, reviews and in general conversations with twenty- to thirty-something readers, they do not want a hero to act that way. In real life, I wouldn’t either, but, folks, this is fantasy. Anyway, onward and upward…

I thought that was interesting considering how many readers love kinky doms (BDSM), demanding billionaires, and dangerous bikers (MCs). So I compared the differences and realized in most cases, the older romances with dominating males, the heroes came across as cold and unfeeling at least until the end. While the new wave alphas show tenderness and often sweet talk their heroines, they are the same type of heroes, but they have smoother edges.

Both have pluses and minuses. I have found that sometimes when I’m reading a new author’s male point of view, the guys sound a little girlish. More of how the author wished a male would be. From what I know of most men, they are straightforward in speech and action and rarely think about how so-and-so feels about something. They believe they do what must be done and not worry overmuch about it. They have gut feelings and realizations. Not all of that touchy, feely, (I’m not talking about sex) I-have-to-talk-it-out stuff. Of course, there are the exceptions, but they are usually the villains.  HA!

Oh, if you’re reading an old romance, be sure to keep all of this mind. Hopefully the publisher (or author, if self-published) will show the original published date. It would be best in the end. Fewer rants by readers. Geez!

My Thoughts on Self-Publishing

Hidden Heat_SwaffordYep. My thoughts. Doesn’t mean they’re written in stone or scientifically correct, this is mostly just what I read and heard from others, and personal experience.

Sadly, I believe that the majority of the people who self-publish are like the thousands of people who went to California or Alaska to strike it rich. No. The gold wasn’t spread across the ground in nuggets. No. You couldn’t sit there and expect things to happen. Yes. There are people waiting to take your money and give little in return.

First a fact, I asked my editor and agent a simple question. Since the self-publishing boom, have you seen a decline, same amount, or increase in submissions? My agent said it was the same amount, while my editor said it had increased.*tumblr_myfffeXLM61srko8to1_r1_500

I truly thought it would be less. So often I hear from those who are self-published that they will never go through a traditional publisher. God bless America! I think it’s great they have the choice.

But from the information my agent and editor kindly provided me, I understand that to mean writers still prefer the traditional route. No surprise there.

I know I prefer going with a traditional publishing house. Yes, I do have two novellas (short books) I self-published, and will probably do it again in the future for the heck of it. Overall, I rather have a publishing house handling/paying for the editing, cover, and distribution.

To me, self-publishing took too much time away from what I prefer to do: to be with my family and write. (I have a full time day job.) Plus to self-publish a book correctly, it takes money. I spent $500 per novella to prepare them for publication.

I’m sure there are dozens of stories out there about a person who didn’t pay for editing, did their own art work and published it only on Amazon and made thousands of dollars. Yet, at the same time those dozens have to be compared to the thousands upon thousands of people who self-published with little to no success.

Woman Reading a DiaryThink of it this way, in 2013, there were 11 MILLION books for sale on Amazon (includes nonfiction). Presently, there are over 900,000 Kindle books. I like the playing field to be stacked in my favor, and personally, being published traditionally does that. Another way to do that is to improve my writing. It takes constant work.

Nothing is perfect. Nothing is easy. As Ray Bradbury said, “–hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.”

And goodness, I do practice.

If you’re interested in checking out my books, click on a link below.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo Books
All Romance Ebooks

*Random House use to be an agent only publishing house until they started Loveswept back up (2011) as an e-book imprint. Now you can submit to Loveswept without an agent.