Thursday, January 23, 2014

Question of the Month: the Leap of Faith Edition

January is the month of fresh beginnings, but some of them can be a little intimidating. This month, please tell us about a time you took a leap of faith that worked. 

Laura Drake: Mine would have to be in 1980, when my little sister and I had decided that Detroit was dead, and we left home with everything we owned packed into our two Pintos and moved to California, sight unseen. Looking back, I can't believe we had the guts to do it, but it sure worked out well!
Geri Krotow:  After graduating from the Naval Academy, earning a Master's Degree, and nine years of a successful naval career, I decided to resign my commission to raise my son, have another baby, and pursue my dream of writing. I'm blessed I had a husband (who went on to serve 27 years active duty) who was supportive of my dreams. I'd say they've come true! Certainly not on my timeline, or always how I pictured them to, but often much, much better and joyous.
Claire McEwen: I've taken a lot of leaps but my scariest one, with the happiest ending, was when I left my career to stay home with my son.  I had my dream job, working with all the schools in my district on reading and writing instruction, and I'd worked so hard for years to get there.  Plus, we owned a house that we couldn't pay for unless we had two incomes.  But I could tell that my son wasn't doing well in daycare.  And I wasn't doing well either!  My job took so much time that I rarely saw my baby.  I was getting really depressed about it, so I finally got up my nerve, quit my job, and we sold our house and moved to a rental.  

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made!  I soon learned that my son wasn't doing well in daycare because he had a few developmental delays that needed to be addressed.  It took a lot of appointments with specialists, and exercises that I would never have had time to do with him if I'd still been working. Because I quit and had time to give him the help he needed, two years later he was at all his age-appropriate developmental milestones.  He caught up!  And he is such a happy little boy now as a result.

And the other benefits of taking that leap of faith?  We moved to a beautiful town by the ocean and bought a house near the beach.  And I had time to write!  So I finally got the chance to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer.  I was so scared to quit my job, to take that leap, but it truly changed my son's life, and mine as well.

Cathryn Parry: Every time I sit down to write a story, I feel like I'm taking a leap of faith.

(When a story gets sent out to the world, it's another leap--different, but still scary!)

Vicki Essex:  The biggest personal leap I ever took was asking a certain charming, charismatic, intelligent and too-cute coworker of mine out to a movie. Fourteen years later, my husband still tells me I made my own luck by asking him out. 8 )

Anna Sugden:  LOL I seem to have spent most of my life taking leaps of faith – with career decisions and in my personal life. The interesting thing is that they all worked, though perhaps not as I expected them too. Whether it was changing a career path from business to primary school teaching or having the courage to admit my feelings for my best friend (who is now my wonderful husband!) or submitting my first manuscript, taking that first leap has always been scary. But the results have been worth it every time!

Jennifer Lohmann: When I graduated from college with a degree in economics, everyone expected me to follow all the other econ. majors to the investment banks or consulting firms, which I thought sounded completely soul-sucking. So, I applied to teach English in Shanghai, packed all my stuff to store at my parents' houses (where much of it still resides, to their dismay), and left the U.S. When I arrived to meet a friend of mine in Hong Kong for a trip up to Shanghai, I spoke no Chinese and only brought a backpacking bag and small duffel with me. My friend traveled with me to Shanghai, helped me buy supplies for my new apartment, and left for the rest of her research trip. That year was one of the best years of my life and an experience I will never forget.
Tara Taylor Quinn:  I feel like my whole life is a leap of faith, or one leap after another.  There are moments that stand out as testimony to me that I can trust my heart and continue to leap.  One of those came ten months ago.  My cousin and his wife were visiting us in Arizona.  They wanted to climb the Superstition Mountains.  I’m an in-line skater.  Not a climber.  But I figured I could put one step in front of the other.  And then I found myself on side of a mountain that was as smooth as ice and almost completely horizontal.  I hadn’t yet reached my goal – the top of the peak I was on.  I hugged that mountain, scared to death.  I had no idea how I was going to get down.  The side of the mountain was warm.  Something told me I could trust it.  So I quit analyzing, followed my heart and climbed to the top.  As I stood up there, looking out over my world – the Phoenix valley – I knew I’d just been told that I could face the challenges weighing my heart.  I just had to trust and follow my heart.  And slide down the mountain on my backside!
Joan Kilby:  My big leaps of faith usually involve travel. When I was twenty-four I set sail on a six month voyage from Vancouver to Hawaii, Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands and back again on the sailboat my dad built in our backyard. He was a dentist who grew up in the prairies but he learned celestial navigation and how to sail in his forties, not to mention how to work with fiberglass and how to wire, plumb and rig a boat. I guess he took a bigger leap of faith than anyone which was a real inspiration to me. After that trip, nothing much has ever fazed me.
Pamela Hearon: My greatest leap of faith would have to be when I got married the second time.  The first time around, I'd married my high school sweetheart whom I'd known my entire life.  He turned out to be a much different man than the boy I thought I knew so well.  We divorced after ten years and one child.
A year later, I met a great guy also divorced with two children.  He was the most genuine person I've ever known, but a nagging distrust of happily-ever-after kept me doubting if love could actually last forever.  We dated for two years, and when he finally asked me to marry him, I said yes.  During the wedding vows, fear gripped my throat.  What if ...?  I took a giant leap of faith that he was everything I thought he was.  This time, I wasn't wrong.  We've had 28 glorious years together--and I'm looking forward to 50 more! 

And now, dear readers, tell us - when did YOU take a leap of faith that worked?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Top 10 Things I’ve Heard As a Romance Writer/Reader

I've been working in the romance publishing industry for over seven years now, and with three published books and three more on the go, I frequently encounter the same questions, accusations and truisms with many people I meet. Here are my responses to the top 10.

1. Where do you find the time to write?
You don’t find time. You make time for what’s important.

2. How do you write a book?
BICHOK: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. Finish what you write. Treat it like a job. Learn the business. Learn the craft. Perfect it.

3. Have you ever met Fabio?
No.

4. Writing romance is just a formula, isn’t it?
I think of it more as a recipe. Like, there are all kinds of soups you can make, but most recipes have a few traits in common. We don’t all like or make the same kinds of soups, either.

5. Are you aroused, like, all the time?
No, I’m dead below the waist. (And why would anyone think this was an appropriate question?)

6. How do you read that stuff?
Diligently and with respect.

7. Are your characters you?
About as much as your mother, father, best friend or criminally insane third cousin is you.

8. You’re an author? You must be rolling in it.
The closest thing to "rolling in it" is when I empty my change jar onto my mattress and pick out the quarters so I can tip the pizza guy.

9. You must have really high standards for men. That’s why so many romance readers are single, you know.
There’s nothing wrong with having high standards. Just ask my husband.

10. I’ve always wanted to write a romance book. I never read that stuff, though.
I’ve always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I hate kids, though. Think that’ll be an issue?



What do you get asked as a romance reader/writer? How do you respond? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Checking In on those Resolutions

It's mid-way through January.

Yoga classes at the gym are still filled with new faces and there is no parking to be had. The weight benches and elliptical machines are all filled. Going through the check out at the grocery store, I notice more fruits and vegetables in people's carts and fewer bags of potato chips (excepting the day before NFL playoff games, of course). Some authors and I on Twitter are practicing #frugal14 and so far, not a one of us has cheated.

But, this is a time of flux for those resolutions. Some of those people in the yoga classes will stop coming next week. The fallen will be replaced by people who aren't starting their resolutions until later in January and many of them will taper off when we get into February and March.

I will probably crack and break a #frugal14 guideline. Hopefully the shoes will be cheap.

For those of you who have made resolutions, now is a good time to check in on them. Have you started them yet? If not, when do you plan to start? If you started them, are you keeping it? And if you've already broken your resolution, can you forgive yourself enough to try again?

I'll go first. My only big resolution is #frugal14, which really boils down to more mindful spending. Before I buy new clothes, go out to dinner, etc, I need to stop and evaluate what I have. Do I *need* new shirts for work? Do I have food at home I can cook? The goal is not to never spend money, but to stop spending money with little forethought.

How am I doing fifteen days in? Okay. I did spent money to make my own chicken water heater, only to discover that my coop is so predator-proof that I have no way of running a cord in it. That was a waste of $20. But, I MADE the heater for $20 rather than spending $40 to buy one, so the mistake wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Of the questions I ask above, I think this, "And if you've already broken your resolution, can you forgive yourself enough to try again?" is the most important. It's so easy to think, "well, I skipped the gym today so the whole cause is lost and I guess I'll never go again for this year." After my chicken water heater experiment, I was able to pull back and regroup around #frugal14. In past years, I've not always been good about that.

Now it's your turn. Do you make resolutions and, if so, how are they coming.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kris Fletcher's Winner!


Colleen C, you're my winner! Shoot me an email (kris@krisfletcher.com) with your contact info and your choice of prize (either a $10 gift card -Amazon, B&N, or Chapters Indigo - OR your choice of one of my books -  A Better Father, Now You See Me. Or, if you're the patient type, an advance copy of my July release Dating A Single Dad, which I should have in June).

Thanks so much to all of you for your suggestions. Now my problem is one of abundance - a very good dilemma, indeed. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's For Dinner?

Dear Readers, I am in need of help.

(I know, I know - we re all well aware of THAT. :-)

Next weekend I will be fortunate enough to run away from my family - er, go on a writing retreat with my
dearest friends in the world. We do this twice each year, and after doing it for many many times, we have it down to a science. We know who is bringing the exercise DVDs, who is providing the wine, and who will be introducing us to funky new teas and organic potions. We know who is an early riser and who needs space to plot with Tarot cards and who can't  pick the movie unless we want to end up with The Big Lebowski :-) And where we really shine - other than our page production, of course - is the food.

We have a system here, too, of course. Each person is responsible for her own breakfasts and one group meal. (We also each bring some salad parts and snacks, because seriously, is it even legal to have a writing retreat without chocolate?) At meal time, the person in charge is responsible for everything for that lunch or dinner: planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and clean-up. And then she is DONE with cooking for the remainder of the retreat. Is that not the most awesome system ever?

I'm signed up for Saturday night's dinner, and here's where I need your assistance. I've cooked all my favorite meals for these ladies already (I told you we've been doing this a long time). I need something new to prepare. The caveats:
  • no mushrooms, green peppers, fish, extreme spiciness, or cilantro
  • if the basketball game goes into overtime, people may be eating on the sofa. So nothing too messy/fork-dependent.
  • soup and tacos are already being prepared by other people
  • some hardy souls will still be sticking to their New Year resolutions, so nothing too decadent (translation: nothing from the Pioneer Woman site)
  • and above all, it must be easy, because I have a boatload of work to get through on this retreat. 

Hit me with your suggestions. If you have links, all the better. In return for your help, on Saturday I'll choose one winner from the comments to receive either a $10 gift card (Amazon, B&N, or Chapters Indigo) OR your choice of one of my books (including, if you're the patient type, an advance copy of my July release Dating A Single Dad, which I should have in June).

Thank you, thank you. I can't wait to see what deliciousness is about to be unleashed.
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