Tag Archives: Family

Go With the Flow

Normally my new year’s resolutions include very concrete goals. Measurable, cut-and-dry with no gray areas. Goals like ‘blog twice a week’ or ‘1000 calories per day, max.’

I’ve been that way most of my life. Planned, organized, driven and directed. I owe a lot of that to my parents, my discipline with diving, and of course my husband.

But I’m changing things up this year.

Because I have to.

Now, for the entire year, I have 1 goal:gowiththeflow

Go with the flow.

And mind the rocks.

Wrapped up in this 1 goal are a trillion little things to help achieve this. Not sweating the small things, don’t fight the rapids, take one day at a time, keep smiling… all those clichéd statements.

My mantra: I am not in control, and that’s ok.

Do what I think is right and see what happens. That’s all I can do.

Because when I think about, I already have everything I need. The things that make me a better person are already in my life. Why change that?

Happy Mother’s Day!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I recall so many great books that have strong maternal characters. I recently read one that was about a mother and her two daughters that had me crying on every other page, the emotional connections were so great.

I could never have guessed the amount of emotion I was capable of until I became a mother. Books, movies, even tv show episodes all affect me differently since my son was born. The greatest things in life are almost always the most challenging. But that’s because it makes you feel as if you’ve become the best you can be.

Books have a similar capability of bringing out those tremendous emotional connections. What novels with strong mothers and focus on families do you remember?

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there. Including to my mother, the best of them all (bias required!)

On a Roll…

The last three days have been exactly that- on a roll. And I’m lovin’ it!

Vacations really do work wonders. Before my vacation I averaged about 500 words a week on my WIP. In two days I wrote 1700 words. The following day I wrote another 3000. The story just flows from my fingertips, I can see my characters so clearly, it feels great. For months I struggled through scenes because I couldn’t see my characters, couldn’t follow which themes were most prevalent and back tracked time and time again.

Now my WIP is at over 75,000 words, and I’m expecting to end around 85,000 (first draft).

Now I feel like an Olympic runner, or swimmer (yes, let’s keep this water-based since my WIP is based on a water sport) in the middle of the Individual Medley, in the zone, and surpassing their best personal record.

I’m all giddy when I get to update the word count meter on my blog page, even if there’s only a 100 word difference since my last update. Seeing that bluish-purple bar approach the end is fantabulous and self-affirming.

Now I’m off to take a break and go swimming with my son, hubby, and parents. It’s a great way to relax my brain, beat the record heat wave hitting Texas and share my accomplishments with the main supporters in my life.

I hope everyone has such an awesome cheering section as I do because it makes all the difference.

Take it easy, stay cool, and keep writing forward!

Refreshed for More Writing

My vacation this past week was the typical summer family vacation: exciting, entertaining, full of laughter and joy, a breath of fresh air and out of the ordinary… and exhausting.

The typical need-a-vacation-from-your-vacation kind of feeling when you get home. I LOVED the break from the daily grind in Hilton Head and plan to go back. But I have to add it’s a great feeling to be back home and sleep in your own bed and get back to your normal routine (as a parent to a toddler, routines are essential).

I had hoped for a few brief periods of writing time on my vacation (while my son napped or was busy playing with his cousin), but that didn’t happen. Nap times seemed to disappear while on vacation, or were significantly shorter. And I can understand that; when I was a kid I wanted to spend every moment ‘on vacation,’ and napping just seemed like a waste of precious time. And when my son napped, we spent the time cleaning up the condo or planning for the rest of the day or doing laundry. Kinda like at home.

But now since we’re home and getting back into routine, I’d like to say I’m refreshed and re-inspired to continue with my WIP. And in a way I am. I thought about my story and characters, and scenes I’d already written, and the scenes yet to come and unfortunately I’m backtracking. Again.

New ideas sprang to mind throughout last week and I’m struggling to find a way to incorporate them into my work without a complete re-write. Complete re-writes scare the crap out of me. Makes me feel like the time I spent on the first version was a waste (even though my logical brain knows it’s not a waste) but it feels like one.

Changes to my character’s emotional growth, and even major plot changes.

So to combat this feeling, I move forward in my WIP with the new ideas and know I’ll have to go back and fix previous scenes during my revisions (and make note of it in my trusty “Revision” file.)

So, am I refreshed from my vacation to continue writing and actually get the first draft completed? YES I AM. I just hope my son will let me focus on it, instead of pulling on my arm to go back to the beach. Or pulling on my own arm for the sand between my toes.

Inspirational Settings

In a few short days, I’m heading to this lovely island with my family.

Guess which island? Nope- not in the Caribbean. It’s actually not even tropical.

Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

As I look at these photos knowing I’ll be playing on the beach with my son and hubby, it reminds me of the exotic and far away settings a lot of books have. I’m a big historical romance reader, so a lot of settings are in mist-covered castles all over Europe, all built against picturesque lakes, lochs, or cliffs. Those kinds of fanciful stories are a great escape from the every day life of toddler tantrums, runny noses, laundry, dishes, and fretting over potty training.

Then I compare these incredible settings to the ones in the stories I write. I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. And they all take place in North Texas. Hardly exotic. And it brings up an interesting question in my mind. How can I love to read about unique settings and be thrown into fantasy worlds, but I write about normal people in every day settings? They could take place in a Normalville in any state. But perhaps its because I view contemporary hometowns (like mine) as my strength. Perhaps writing in far away islands or mountains is my weakness. I don’t know. I’ve never tried.

But they say to write what you know. And I know my state. I know my surroundings. And when I close my eyes and envision the setting my characters live in, I see Texas. And they always tell you to write what you see. Maybe that means I’m not very imaginative. And I’ll be the first to tell you that, if I truly am not as creative.

But then I widen my scope (literally, as I sit here and type this), and think of the vacations and exotic places I’ve been. And I’ve been to several. Heck, I’ve lived in several.

Maybe if I steal away a few precious, uninterrupted hours on my vacation I’ll try to write a short diddy in one of these locations: Curacao, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Belize, or Honduras. I mention Curacao first because its one of my favorite vacations I’ve ever taken. Pure white sands and the most awesome scuba diving ever. I could write a contemporary romance in that spot any day. But now I just have to imagine the characters and the jaw dropping storyline.

Any romance author or editor will always say setting is crucial; like another character intertwined in the storyline with its own personality and flavor. And I’ll admit, characters aren’t my forte. In the stories I’ve written I focus on the plot first and think secondly on characters. Which is why my local settings aren’t as creative. It’s like a tertiary character to which I hardly give any thought.

So that’s what the back of my mind will focus on while I’m bouncing around Hilton Head Island with my family. Widening my scope to more creative settings.

What about you? What settings capture you in your readings, and if you’re a writer, what places do you see in your mind?

Family, Fun, and Fear?

Mardi Gras Readers (FRONT PAGE #1)

Image by Graham Blackall via Flickr

Thoughts rambling through my head today completely unrelated to my writing or querying endeavors.  But I had to put them on a page.

We’ve traveled to El Paso, Texas to visit my husband’s side of the family.  A cousin is celebrating her Quincienera and we hadn’t seen them for over a year.  We flew in today and the fun celebration is tomorrow: dinner, dancing and drinks.  All with family.  Fabulous trifecta.  And her theme is magnificent: Mardi Gras.  I’ve stolen a glimpse at her bouquet and the hand-made masks for her court (20 person entourage), and I’m so excited for her!  She will look like the most glorious and colorful princess I’d ever imagined.

But an unusual factor is included in my own mind for this weekend.  The Fear Factor.  A mere 800 yards away from where I’m typing right now is the border of Mexico and El Paso’s sister city: Juarez.  Most recently named as the deadliest city in the world.  A gruesome, bloody, vicious, and seemingly impossible war is raging in the border town where over 3,000 people have been killed in 2010 alone (over 10,000 people in the last 5 years) due to the drug cartel wars (battling each other as well as the police and federal forces).  My husband’s grandmother still lives in Juarez and refuses to leave, despite the urgings of her 7 seven children (my husband’s aunts and uncles).

It’s terrifying to think that almost half the city’s entire population has either fled or been grotesquely murdered.  And the other half are stuck in their homes and refuse to answer the door (just as terrified of corrupt police as they are of the cartels.)  El Paso has inadvertently become the refuge home for thousands.

While I hear about this on the news almost every day, physically here in El Paso its hard to understand what I’m seeing.  On the surface everything looks normal.  Like it always has for the last 8 years (since I’ve known my husband).  Things are more crowded- I’ve noticed that almost immediately upon touchdown of the plane.  And many of the cars in the area carry Mexican plates.  That’s normal with many visiting shoppers, families, and business folk traveling across the border every day.  But I see more of them than I remembered before.

But I see fear, or apprehension on many faces.  My husband’s uncles tell him not to go across the border.  For the first time in his life, my husband will not be able to visit his grandmother’s house as he’s done thousands of times before.  He spent summers there, still has (or had) dozens of friends there.  And now my husband, who knew Juarez like he knows his own facial features, is advised not to go across by his own family.  That certainly put the fear in me.  Not fear for myself, but fear for his grandmother.  His family.  The friends that may still be in J-town.  The lovable brotherly city of Juarez has become a literal hell on Earth.

I’m grateful for the life my husband and I have created for our family.  I’m grateful we’re able to visit his family and share these celebrations together.  And even more I’m grateful we live in the United States.  As screwed up as the U.S. is in many areas, and as frustrating as our Congress behaves, no matter how much I want to scream, scratch, and throw in the towel occasionally, we don’t have to live with the nightmare right across the border.  I don’t have to worry about a 15-year-old assassin with a penchant for beheading waiting outside my garage, or corrupt policemen knocking on my door for bribe money not to turn me over to the cartels,  or a newbie cartel member wanting to ‘make his mark’ every time I look out my window.

So as much as I complain about my own government and how they don’t listen and keep screwing things up and are only out for themselves, seeing Juarez only 800 yards away and knowing what’s happened, and what’s still happening, I’m going to shut up.