Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

It’s a Jungle (of corn) Out There!

Maybe you can weigh in on a debate my son and I have been having for the last month: soybeans or corn? When we moved to the country a little over a year ago, there were soybeans planted all around our house. We could see the neighbors’ homes in the distance and watch fireflies dance across the fields in late June and July. It was beautiful. Magical. Well, I didn’t realize it then, but farmers rotate their crops in our area, planting soybeans one year and corn the next.

It’s a corn year. And those stalks enclose us, leaving only the lane that leads to our house. Who knew that corn grew that tall? Knee high by the fourth of July, goes the saying. Well by July fourth it was well past my knee and was as tall as I am!

Here is where the debate comes in. I LOVE the corn. I feel like I’m sitting in the middle of my own private oasis with not another person for miles and miles. The fireflies still dance, but they’re in our yard now, and it’s not the thousands of twinkle lights like last year. But I love it. It’s beautiful and watching the corn form those ears that have gotten fatter and fatter has been fascinating. My son disagrees. He says it feels claustrophobic (even though we’re sitting on five acres), and he doesn’t like not being able to see past it. That reminded me of when we lived in Florida. We had a visitor from another state–a state where you could see for miles and miles. She said driving on the Florida interstate really bothered her…she felt claustrophobic (like my son) and said that having the trees on either side of her was BORING.

What? Boring? I couldn’t even fathom that.

Which made me wonder if there really are two distinct preferences: being able see outside of one’s own little spot, or the cozy sense of privacy that vegetation affords. So here is my informal piece of research. Soybeans or corn? Do you like feeling hemmed in on all sides by greenery? Or do you like wide open spaces where you can see the world around you?

I really want to know. And maybe next year (soybean year), I’ll be able to see the other side’s perspective.

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Gratitude

I’m trying to learn to be more grateful for what I have and for the things around me. I’m not always successful, but I figure it’s a process. I posted a blog about eight months ago about buying a house in the country. When we moved in, there were wildflowers blooming in almost all of the beds. I love wildflowers. There were daisies, black-eyed Susans, sunflowers, etc.  So when spring came this year that’s what I expected to see push up through the ground first.

It didn’t happen.

Instead, gorgeous daffodils raised their heads, followed by pink and red tulips. And some purple flowers that I’m not familiar with. All the beds were blooming and colorful. I was amazed. And oh so grateful. The people we bought the house from had planned well. And worked hard to make the flower beds beautiful. I don’t have the greenest thumb and wouldn’t know at all how to go about planting a garden so that it was in constant bloom. The daffodils have faded and the tulips blooms are slowly disappearing, but there are new flowers starting to show themselves.

spring flowers 3  spring flowers 2

So this morning, as I sit with my coffee and look out over our little patch of dirt, I’m grateful for the former owners and their green thumbs. I’m grateful for the flowers that are here now, and grateful for the wildflowers that soon will be.

What are you grateful for today?

Foods We Love, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Heritage Lost

I rely on the internet for information. A lot. More than I should. That was brought home to me when I opened a cabinet door I rarely use and saw a familiar sight: my mom’s handwriting peeking out of an old wooden recipe box.

I pulled the box down and opened the lid, and I was swept away on a wave of nostalgia. My mom has been gone for almost sixteen years and yet seeing her handwriting was so…her. I recognized it immediately. And it made me think. Have I done that for my children? Will they be able to one day look at something like a recipe and see the essence of who I was? recipes

I don’t know. And that makes me sad. If I want to find a recipe nowadays, my first instinct isn’t to go to that treasured box. Instead, I go online and try to find the best of the best of that recipe. How many positive reviews has it gotten? What hints do the reviewers give for making the recipe even better?

And once I’ve made that recipe, I’d be hard-pressed to be able to find it again. How have I come to this point and why? Maybe because I think it’s faster. But what about future generations of my family? Am I losing something in the process?

It could be that it’s time for me to slow down and leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that my children can find their way back to me. Don’t they deserve the same bits and pieces like the ones my mom left me?

I think they do. So I’m going to start thinking a little more about the way I do things. And hopefully one day, my kids will find a treasured recipe or a journal or a photo album that contains my handwriting.

Do you have a special way of passing something down to your kids or relatives? I would love to hear it. Or maybe there’s a special recipe you’d like to share. This is the perfect place! I’m taking notes.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Writing is Like Remodeling

So we remodeled our bathroom before selling our old house a while back. I know, you’re thinking we repainted and freshened things up a little bit. No. We RE-modeled. We took a minuscule bathroom that used to house a toilet and a freestanding plastic box shower (there was no sink) and completely tore it apart to make what became a walk in shower, housed our washer and dryer and was something that I loved to visit (for more than just the obvious reasons). It was a great selling feature when we sold it. What does this have to do with writing? Well, as we were going through the labor pains of this project, it made me think about how similar it is to my writing process. Especially in these ways:

bathroom-remodel-5
Our bathroom stripped down to the floor joists!
  1. I start with the kernel of an idea. It is like that original bathroom—rudimentary at best, with just the bare necessities.
  2. The idea has to be gutted…pared down to the foundations in order to build what will eventually house a finished story.
  3. Then comes the rebuilding—one step at a time, with each plot element in its place, until you’ve completed the first draft.
  4. Finally you arrive at a fleshed-out story—something you’re proud of. A story you’re happy to visit…and revisit!

    bathroom-remodel
    Finished at last!

So what do you think? There are all kinds of analogies for writing. I think decorating a Christmas tree could also be used: bare tree plus lights plus decorations, etc. Do you have any do it yourself stories (successful or not) you’d like to share? Or, if you’re a writer, are there any comparisons that fit your process? And here’s the latest finished project…er, I mean book.

9781335663344

Losing a baby tore them apart…

Can having another reunite them?

Losing their daughter left doctors Tucker and Kady heartbroken and when he couldn’t face trying for another child, it left their marriage in pieces. When they meet again at a medical event, their memories are reawakened—along with their scorching chemistry! But Kady still longs for a baby, and Tucker must finally face his fears if he’s to find happiness with her again…

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, New Releases, The Writing Life

Rainy Days and Mondays

Well, today isn’t Monday, but as I was writing this blog post, it was. And it was definitely raining. Most of the day, in fact. But, unlike the song, those kinds of days don’t “get me down.” I tend to like the rain. And sleeping to the sound of thunder is just bliss.

What wasn’t so blissful was the cold that went along with the rain, since we’re headed into winter, and the days are getting shorter. But what does make me happy is that I just got my story bible for the continuity I’ll be writing. And it’s a Christmas story. One of my favorite kinds of books to write! Did the editors plan it that way, hoping the festive lights and tinsel would light my muse’s fire? I don’t know, but I think it’s going to work. I’m very excited about the plot I’ve been given, and on Monday, I was busy setting up my chapters in Scrivener (the writing program I use). So, right now, it’s literally a series of twelve chapter headings and an expanse of empty pages. My imagination is running wild with how I can make this story my own.

Monday’s rain just added to my momentum, since I couldn’t get out and do anything. In fact, I drove to a nearby supermarket parking lot to get some peace and quiet, pushed back the seat as far as it would go and listened to the rain while I got my program set up. It was wonderful. Just me, the warmth of the car heater, and my still-to-be-written book.

rainy days and Mondays
The view from my car on a rainy Monday

And I can’t wait to start! I just came off a frenetic writing schedule and finally had time to stop and recharge my batteries. So just like the rain that was washing the thin layer of dust from my car, it cleared the cobwebs from my mind too. I’m ready to write.

I’m in love. With my characters. My story. My life. Even on a rainy, Monday morning!

To add to my joy, I just received the cover for my latest book. I love that too!

How about you? Do you like rainy days?

9781335663344

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Conferences!

I am getting ready to go to the Romance Writers of America National Conference. As I type this, I’m remembering my very first conference in 2009 as an unpublished writer. I had just finaled in the Golden Heart contest and had to fly from Brazil–where we were living at the time–to  San Francisco. I didn’t know anyone, other than my critique partners (and my online RWA chapter), with whom I had interacted online, but had never met in person.

San Francisco RWA 2009
Tina and the online critique group in 2009

It was a great experience, and several members of that critique group are still active and have become good friends. I have met so many wonderful people through the conference and it’s always a thrill to see fellow Medical Romance authors and attend all of the luncheons, workshops, and then cut loose at the fabulous Harlequin party.

It’s still a bit scary and overwhelming all these years later, but at least now I know a few more people and have made some wonderful lifelong friends!

I hope you all have a wonderful week and make some great memories!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life

Moving and Cornfields and…Snakes? Oh My!

We are in the process of moving into a new house in the country. On five glorious acres. Okay, so it’s not a vast estate by most standards, but when your old house has a garden the size of a postage stamp, it seems huge. And exciting. And like a scene out of The Sound of Music.

So a funny thing happened on my way to the country. This girl didn’t think things through completely. I mean, I am so thrilled to be able to have real egg-laying chickens. But then a friend cautioned me to make sure the chicken coop was secure against predators.

Okay sure. Predators. Like foxes and raccoons and other poultry-loving critters, right? No big deal.

But there are a few other creatures that evidently like to munch on eggs. I mean, they really like eggs. So if you know me, you know that I am not afraid of most animals and insects. I mean a grizzly bear might stop me in my tracks, but spiders? Or bees? Nope. Not afraid.

Until someone said the word sssssssssssnnnnnaaaa… <clears throat> Okay, let’s try that again. Until someone said the word sn…sn…sna… Snake! There, I said it.

I am terrified of things that squirm around on their bellies and lie in wait behind logs. Our new house has a huge barn (for the horses, right?). And it’s surrounded by acres and acres of the most beautiful cornfields imaginable. When this friend first used the dreaded “s” word (which I won’t attempt to say again), it was in reference to those cornfields. Because my husband mentioned wanting a pool. And this dear friend warned him that we might find things floating in the pool. Because of the cornfields, which you can see in the picture below.

back of house
The back of the house with its adjacent cornfield

Snakes. Why didn’t I think of this possibility before we signed on the dotted line? Because the place is beautiful and private, with a long gravel lane leading to the house. And green pastures on either side of it. So I will do my best to remember that those belly surfers are more afraid of me than I am of them. Oh wait. That’s not true. Because the very thought of them paralyzes me.

So that’s my sad tale. Don’t get me wrong, this house is a dream come true. Really, I can’t wait to move in and make it home. Every dream has its hiccup, right? So that’s my hiccup. Is there something that scares the bejeebers out of you? Sharks? Slugs? Things that go bump in the night? I’d love to hear what makes you squirm and shudder. Just so I know I’m not alone!