Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Life is all about balance, at least for me anyway. I strive to find the middle ground between what I want to do, what I should do, what needs to be done. I truly believe it's the best way to be happy. And my idea of balance is probably different from others...but I feel it's important to find your own balance and make your life as happy and stress free as you can :)

One thing people struggle with, especially moms, is the balance between careers and family. I'm lucky in that I was able to achieve the perfect balance, in my opinion, anyway :) I knew years ago that when we had kids, I wanted to stay home with them. Not a stay at home mom--not that there's anything wrong with that at all--but it's not me. I knew I would still need the satisfaction and accomplishment of a career. But I also wanted the accomplishment of raising my kids myself. Not that I see anything wrong with moms who choose to have a career outside the home and hire a caregiver for their children. But for me, the perfect balance was being home with the kids, but also pursing a successful fulfilling career. I was in a line of work that allowed me that luxury, so I took full advantage and worked from home. It wasn't without it's drawbacks, of course. I did earn less money than I would have staying at my job. But for me, the benefits outweighed the loss of income. I was happy, the kids were happy, hubby was happy. It gave our life a flexibility we wouldn't have had otherwise, especially with the work schedule my husband has--he doesn't have a typical 9-5 weekend off kind of job. For us it was the perfect balance. It's changed a bit over the years and I've changed careers, but it still works.

Another place in life I feel that needs balance is diet and exercise. Obviously it is not in anyone's best interest to eat fatty sugary foods all day every day. It leads to a slew of health problems. But in my opinion, eating what I like is a big part of being happy. I openly admit it- I love to eat awesome food!!!! I'm so not an eat bland food all day every day kind of gal. I like sweet things. I like rich things. I love cheesy things!!! But of course I don't eat them everyday. And I work hard finding new recipes to make and find things we love that are lower in calories and fat. I also go to the gym and exercise very regularly to keep my body healthy. Its good for my heart and off sets the splurge meals I eat occasionally. For me, it's a perfect balance.

Another area of life that needs balance is work and play. Working all day everyday is not good for you, and neither is playing all day every day. We need to work, but we also need to play. Work, obviously, we need to do to earn money to pay for the necessities in life. Play is essential for lowering stress and relaxation, our mental health. Finding the balance is sometimes hard. But I make time for fun, even if it means letting the dishes and laundry pile. I'll never get this time back with my kids. I'll never be this age again and able to enjoy everything. I don't want to be 80 and look back, regretting that I did not make enough time to enjoy myself and my life.

So, how about you guys?? Do you struggle with balance, or have you found it?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Social media makes us LESS social?? I disagree.

Today I came across this Tweet: "If you think that social media, despite the name, hasn't made us less social than ever... you've got rocks in your head."

I think I get what the Tweeter is saying...that people rely too much on social media to communicate and less on actual face to face conversations and phone calls. But I really and truly think social media has made me closer and more in tune with my friends and family.

First of all....Facebook has allowed me to keep in touch with family members from all over the country...even the world. My cousin's husband was stationed in Germany for three years. Facebook allowed me and my cousin to stay in contact and chat whenever we wanted. It's been a long time since we've lived in the same town and FB made it possible for us to become close. And now that she's in Hawaii for the next 3 years, I can still keep in close contact with her. I am able to be a part of my friend's daily lives who no longer live in this area. It allowed me to get to know a cousin I never really knew because she was born and grew up a few states away. Until FB, I had only even seen her a few times in my life. Now, in our mid 30's, I can finally consider her a real friend.

Secondly, I am a mom with a career and kids with activities who has friends with careers and families and activities. I do not have time to go have coffee with every one of my friends and family members each week to see how they are and catch up on their lives. As much as I would love to. Life is different these days. It's not like the 50's when most moms were home all day and could get together and chat. But you know what? I can hop on Facebook for twenty minutes and be caught up on all my friends and their families and what they're doing, have a few laughs, view some photos.

Third, social media has allowed me the opportunity to make friends all over the country and world, who I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise. Wonderful and amazing people. Sometimes you need to go outside your circle of friends to find the support and camaraderie you need. I am a writer and no one I knew in my day to day life did that. I found a writers group in my city from an online community. And they were great. I adored them. But still, none wrote what I wrote and I really craved kinship with those like me. And I found them. Social media helps people to not feel alone. There are people out there just like you, loving what you love, no matter what it is. And technology has allowed us to connect easily.

So, I don't know what you all think, but I guess I have rocks in my head. I am so so thankful for what social media has done for me. No, it's not perfect and it has its drawbacks, but when used properly, it is amazing. There has to be balance, just like all things in life. It should not replace all human interaction, but it is great for when face to face human interaction just isn't possible. But when you are in the presence of other humans, the phones should be put away.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Girly Book Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Girly Books Blog Hop! This one is all about location!!! Some books take you somewhere sexy and exotic while others whisk you to a snow-capped mountain. Big city, small town, secluded beach...lot of great places to lose yourself!

I tend to mix up my book settings. The newest book I just finished is set in a small town...where everybody knows everybody and that really becomes a burden on the main character...even though she loves her quaint home town. My Karma series takes place in New York City. It's bustling vibe and never ending excitement was the perfect backdrop for Lexi and her wild and crazy plans. Paradise Cove took place in Cancun. The warm breezes and heat really set the scene for a sizzling romance! Check out an excerpt!

Shelby woke the next morning, and after her eyes adjusted to the blinding sun, her gaze moved to the sliding patio door of the resort room she’d taken up residence in. She’d left the glass open to allow in the soft breeze and the lullaby of crashing waves. Was this for real? The tattered linen curtain danced as the salty scent of the ocean drifted in and she knew she would always enjoy these simple moments.

With the Espinozas having moved to their new casita, being alone at The Paradise Cove felt quite surreal. It was no longer a resort she vacationed at--it was her resort.

Shelby stretched and sat up, recalling the events of the night before. She’d lit candles and played soft tropical music.

After a dinner together on the patio of The Paradise Cove at sunset, Mr. and Mrs. Espinoza took one last stroll to the ocean’s edge. They’d held each other and kissed, as Shelby had sat by, watching them give a tear-filled goodbye to the home they’d known for nearly five decades.

Shelby hoped they were happy with their decision and vowed to make them proud of her and what she did with the place they loved. 

Hope you enjoyed that little scene!! I want to know what your favorite book location is! Do you like being swept away to somewhere tropical, or do you like fast-paced city settings?? All commenters will be entered to win a $10 Amazon or B&N gift card!!! Woo Hoo! Just comment below WITH a valid email address. Comments without an address will not be entered to win. :( Sorry. Earn extra entries by being a blog follower, Twitter follower and/or Facebook follower! :) Just let me know!

And hop around to all the other participant's blogs!! TONS of great prizes! Every comment will be entered to win the awesome grand prize!!! So many cool things in that!!! (Read above in the pic!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance

When I first started writing, I had no clue what to call it. It was just a story. There was love and romance. There was humor. The main character had stuff to deal with other than her boyfriend. There was a fun BFF and crazy parents. There was drama and tears and celebration. There was a whole lot mixed into my stories. But it's what came out of me and what I liked in the books I read.

And then came the time to categorize what I wrote. And it was chick lit all the way.

Back then (circa 2006 ish) the term "Chick Lit" was still acceptable. Agents still represented it. Publishers still wanted it. Harlequin still had its chick lit only imprint- Red Dress Ink. My dream was to have that logo on my book. Well, I came close, but nothing happened back then. And the chick lit thing started to fade. I was left wondering what to call my work. I still loved reading books like it and I knew many others did too.

So I started calling it women's fiction. But then people told me my story was romance instead. I was like "WHAT?" No way. I was not a romance writer. And it used to bother me. I guess I was naive back then and all I thought when I thought of romance was cheesy stories and Fabio on the cover. That was not me and not what I wanted for my career.

But then I started doing my research. And romance was not at all what I thought. And yeah, there was a place for me. Others were writing sexy, sassy, humorous books with drama and being published as romance authors. And with a little more time and research and getting my hands on lots of contemporary romance titles, I had embraced the genre. And now I adore it. It's smart and sophisticated but also fun and sexy. A complete escape.

In my opinion, chick lit is not dead. It's still out there and there are tons of us still loving reading it and loving writing it. But we do have to name it Contemporary Romance now. There really is a fine line between the two. Both are stories of women facing struggles in life and love. Neither is complete without both. But chick lit does not have the romantic relationship as the main plot, and romance does.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hard work pays story of "The Call!"

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen some vague posts lately about me being super excited and celebratory. Wouldn't take a rocket scientist to guess what it was all about :)

I got THE call! Well, it was an email for me, but just as fabulous! Kinda glad it wasn't an actual phone call or I may have embarrassed myself by screaming or crying or asking, "Is this for real?"

So let's back it up a bit and start at the beginning, if you're interested in reading the whole story. :)

Summer 2012 was FULL of submitting my manuscript and waiting. Lots of interest in my newest book, Try Me On For Size. I did Twitter pitches, I did blog events, I did all kinds of stuff. I participated in a fun Twitter pitch in August, Pitch Madness, I believe. I received three requests, two from the same agency. So out of respect, I sent it to the one who'd requested first. Rejection a few weeks later :(

Jump ahead to October. I saw on Twitter that the other agent who requested the MS was no longer with that agency. Sooooooo I Tweeted and asked if she remembered me and if it was okay to submit to her. She said yes! So I did. The next week was a flurry of emails. She loved the partial...wanted the full. Loved the full, but had a couple suggestions. If I was interested in making the changes, I could resubmit. The changes, in my opinion, were minimal and I thought they were a good suggestion, so I made them. Took me about a week. Sent it back and she confirmed. And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

It felt like forever.

I checked up mid December. I hated doing it. I hate looking clingy and impatient. I know how the publishing industry is. I know it takes time and there is always waiting. But I guess since our first few interactions had been so quick, the two months that had passed seemed r e a l l y long. But she was great and said she had been really busy the last few weeks before (she opened her own agency in November!) but she had some free time so she was definitely getting to it soon.

So then Christmas week came and I posted this post on December 19th. I remember writing it and wondering if the finding an agent thing was ever going to happen for me. I knew this was not something Santa could bring me.

The holidays were great. It was really a wonderful week for our family. And then on January 2nd, I sat down to work on my newest WIP. Checked my email and there was a reply from her. The dread set in. So many other emails over the last 6 years have all said the same thing....NO. My gut told me this was just another to add to the pile. I clicked on get it over with. It didn't start the same as the others and my brain wouldn't let me read it one word at a time. It skimmed it quickly find out what the email actually said. And it wasn't a no. It was a yes! Tears flooded my eyes and my heart beat a million beats a minute.

I replied right away with a couple questions, forcing my fingers not to type out, "I love you!"

And then I waited.

And waited.

Almost a week went by with nothing. I got really nervous. What if she changed her mind? So again I sent a message to check in. And as I'd hoped, she'd never gotten my email reply...lost somewhere in cyber space! Why does that only happen on important emails? LOL!

My agent (SQUEE!) is Brittany Booker of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. Everything was made official and I'm now even listed as a client on her website!!

So so excited!! HUGE thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years and helped me become the writer I am now!! Onward and upward from here!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday- No name book!

Just finished this book this week!! YAY!!!!!! But it still has no title :( Never even had a working title. Read my first six sentences and tell me if you've got any ideas!

If Deeni Martin’s life had sucked before walking into the coffee shop that morning, it sure as hell wasn’t getting any better. Scalding coffee dripped down the length of her body as she locked eyes with a yuppie jerk, also covered in Bean Brothers’ original roast.   

“Don’t you know how to look before you walk?”

His wide eyes narrowed. “Me? I was here first. ” 

I just now realized Six Sentence Sunday will be ending soon :( I haven't participated much, but it was fun when I did. Huge thanks to the organizers for doing such an amazing job!

To check out all the participants this week, go to the Six Sentence Sunday blog! Happy Sunday!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fiction versus non-fiction?

I'm wondering today if readers read one or the other or both.

Me personally, I adore fiction. For me, reading is entertainment and I want to be swept away. I want to go somewhere I've never been, experience something new, relive the feeling of falling in love, laugh, giggle, even cry. I want excitement, adventure, romance, comedy, drama...all in one book if possible. :)

I read non-fiction books on occasion, but honestly, its gotta be a topic I am completely passionate about or something I am interested in and need to learn about. I've tried reading biographies and such...and even when it was someone I really admired, it was tough. I ended up skimming. I really can't put my finger on what turns me away.

So, what do you read? Do you read both? Likes? Dislikes? What do you love about fiction? What do you love about non-fiction?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's that time of year again!!!

Do you make New Year's resolutions? Or at least set goals for the new year?? I always do. I just need to. I like having something to work toward. I like checking things off my list when I achieve them. I love the feeling of accomplishment!

I don't always make all my goals though and that is a bit disheartening. But I know I am human and if I truly did try my best, then I don't let myself dwell on it. I just try and work even harder.

I aim for balance in my life. Often as a work at home mom, I struggle with the balance between my career and my family. If I'm working, I feel like I should be spending more time with my kids and hubby. But if we're goofing off, I feel like I should be working instead. My plan for this year is to achieve more balance and spend less time on things that don't matter. Like housework ;) LOL!

I usually make a list of how many projects I want to complete in a year, but I'm not doing that this year. I did it last year and ended up switching focus and though I did accomplish several completed projects, they weren't exactly what I'd planned. I still consider it a successful year though. This year I just want to write more. Make more time for it.

Hope everyone's new year is off to a great start!