Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

To Emote or Not to Emote

I tend to read a lot of artist/writer blogs, the juicier the better. Because I’m not physically in high school anymore–or even in my twenties or thirties–I get a vicarious rush reading about an individual’s personal and professional trials: deadline pressures, the angst of parenting, difficulties (physical and mental), irritating moments that ruin one’s day, pep talks, who hates Jonathan Franzen today, or good old-fashioned frivolity (Housewife chat?). I’m both impressed and a little horrified at how a person can put so much out there for anyone to see. What did we do before blogs and social media? It’s so tempting to read everyone’s thoughts and then I want to emote myself. There is a lot I have to say! Fair warning, some of it is superficial. You caught me in a moment. Yesterday, I was agonizing about events in Rome, circa 31 B.C–don’t get me started. Here goes:

I’ve switched from Cheetos to White Cheddar popcorn as an evil snack. Sam loves it, too, so we get two bags. We feel like giant hogs afterwards.

Ranting on FB (about life, politics, Israel/Iran/Palestine, climate change, Obama) annoys and fascinates me. I have an appreciation for the need to connect, preach, and spread information. I’m doing that right now, see? Hey, I wouldn’t be married without Facebook. Sadly, I don’t recognize some of the people I thought I knew and I now know people who have mostly been strangers (it’s all good-ish).

No one has noticed this but I’ve been weening myself off television and reading more. I read for my day job, but currently feeling that reading day and night means stronger eye muscles…or blindness. Right now, am flying through The Sun Also Rises by The Hemingway He kinda writes like a five-year-old, Andy Cohen’s memoir (awesome), The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (you must read), The President’s Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy (who knew Harry S. and Ike could get along!), and Come Dancing by Leslie Wells (addictive, especially if you love the 80s)…11051892_1555249804734476_5339737004723344042_noh, and a biography on Charles Manson (I don’t know why…).

Because I drove with my husband to Rochester, New York, last weekend for his business, I rewarded myself before the trip with an iPhone and three secret cookies from Fika. With my gadget I was able to take cool selfies. Furthermore, if I get to see Duran Duran in concert, I can finally take a good picture of my boys! I hear the iPhone is also used for calling, but I am not good at using phones. The Candy Crush is too small for me to see.

Starting to feel that editing on paper is inconvenient and yet I don’t want to do the first edit on screen. Will I make the transition? This could be exciting news for trees.

I struggled with depression in the second half of last year. It made me a little too quiet, but I know how things shift from light to dark, dark to light–and even shades of grey (see how I got that in there?). The world is lovely again in all its forms. When I go outside, I don’t feel terror, just an appreciation of sunshine, the taste of coffee, people hanging out in my local Pain Quotidien. Notice how this gets sandwiched between lighter stuff.

I put hot rollers in my hair now, which makes me feel 100 years old, but the outcome can be splendid and slightly Mad Men if I brush vigorously like Betty–or it could be senility setting in. Am now looking around at women and wondering who secretly uses hot rollers. Fess up!

Trying very hard to accept that “awhile” and “fairytale” might be one word. This seems wrong to me.

After 30 years, I’ve stopped running. Now I walk or do the elliptical, which begs the question: Will I join a walking club and wear fussy gym clothes from Athleta? Am I someone now worried about joints and my back? Will I start doing yoga?

At 46, I should be all 1962853_664713946900219_800430870_neasy breezy about how I look, but last night, I had second thoughts about my purple pants from J Crew. Nah, they are awesome.

I recently had 10 minutes where I had no work deadlines. Now I’m swamped again. I’m not complaining at all, just observing the tides of my industry. The busier, the better.

My love/hate for CNN grows strong in both directions. I love my Anderson Cooper (very much), but hate the editorializing of most of the other anchors. Just deliver the news, please, without the moral outrage and incredulity. Sometimes, this compels me to a more conservative station. I like my headlines dry and without emotion!

Yesterday, someone sent me a fan email for Romance Is My Day Job. It put a huge smile on my face.

Shameless Promotion

Romance Is My Day Job Arrives with Juno

IMG_2508My author copies of Romance Is My Day Job arrived today and I got that giddiness every writer has when seeing tangible proof of her story. I’m very lucky I got to experience this five times with the same book: hard copy, audio, Polish version, Thorndike large print, and now paperback! That’s a lot of giddiness for 309 pages. Is there a better boost during what will be–potentially–one of the worst blizzards in New York history?

I added to the joy–ignoring my no dairy, no sugar, no gluten–with some Ben & Jerry’s (salted caramel core) and pecan sandies. If you crush the cookie on the ice cream, you have a perfect dessert, except for the lack of whipped cream. Then I remembered my secret Reese’s Peanut Butter stash. Am I prepared for this storm or what?

Tomorrow, as the storm is underway, the paperback should be on shelves. I’m hoping to trek over to a bookstore to find it.

Shameless Promotion

Romance and Veterans Day

131111114234-08-veterans-1111-horizontal-galleryIn 1994, I was reviewing books for a romance journal when I discovered Merline Lovelace, who took up romance writing after a long career in the United States Air Force. She’s written historicals, thrillers, contemporary romances, category romances–pretty much every kind of romance you can imagine. Her characters always feel like real people, as if you could bump into them and they’d be like, “Hey.”* Also vivid are her story’s settings. Wanna go to Egypt, the Amazon jungle, the Czech Republic? Not a problem. If you know Merline, you understand her deep love of travel, and in her romances, you get to go places. The best part, for those of us who fear flying, is you don’t actually have to endure the actual hassles of travel because Merline describes her exotic destinations so superbly.

Twenty years later, I found myself reading one of her novellas and feeling that same joy. Just in time for Veterans Day. Thank you to all those who serve our country–and also to those who gladden our hearts with love stories.

*They’d only have time for such small talk after escaping from evil people, hacking their way through the jungle and, after days, finding a raft on which they could make love and return home to live happily ever after.

Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

My Solo Week or Good Times with Puzzles and Pizza

936645_1460868874172570_7362638582314441128_nI pride myself on being a loner, but I can’t fool myself any longer. I am a loner + 1. “Co-dependence gets a bad rap,” Sam says when I point out that we’re always in the same 1/4 of the apartment. I didn’t think I’d be able to tolerate living with another person. Now, I don’t relish extended periods by myself. So when he planned a trip overseas (one I didn’t want to take at all), I braced myself for the inevitable worrying, bad sleep, and television marathons. For the first twelve hours after his departure, I celebrated madly and relapsed into old habits. Here’s a sampling of my week:

1.The second he left for the airport, I turned on Bachelor in Paradise and stuffed my face full of takeout food–two things I can’t share very much with Sam. He feels both are unhealthy. I feel they’re deliciously toxic–and a nice break from being so perfect! The next morning, though, in my sugar and bikini coma, I began to realize he was on a plane to a place that is not having peaceful times. When I got home from work, I started looking at his Facebook photos and pictures of us. What if he didn’t come back?

2. I noticed the silence after a day. It made me somber, but no worries. This time I didn’t want to cry and play FreeCell all day. Please, I’m sophisticated and instead played Candy Crush for hours. I kept reminding myself that I’d lived alone like this for twenty years, with my own schedule, my own responsibilities. I wondered how I’d react if he didn’t come home. My imagination filled with worst case scenarios. I did not watch the news, but made progress on The Goldfinch.

3. With marriage comes bargaining. Yes, he could go overseas for a week if I could get a kitten. If I used my time wisely, I could get little Cliff or Dolly immediately. But I soon learned that you can’t just drive to a farm and pick up a kitten. In NYC, you have to investigate shelters/pet stores/ASPCA, fill out forms, and get a house visit (all completely understandable). Having lost two cats, I was reluctant to begin the process even though I desperately want a kitten (not an older cat since we just finished caring for one). With my mother’s help, I went to my first “cat truck” and saw several I could have adopted. The truck was too crowded so I left after a few minutes. I’ll try again this Sunday.

4. Sam and I talked via FaceTime, the way we did during our courtship, before we reunited in person (as described in Romance Is My Day Job). It’s heartening to be able to see a loved one who’s so far away.

5. It would have been a good opportunity to catch up with friends, but I went even further underground than usual. There was also some denial that I was alone for the week. Ten years ago, I went out with my friends every Friday. How life has changed. It made me sad. Then I played more Candy Crush.

6. On the weekend, I spent seven hours working on this wild puzzle and watching One Tree Hill (seasons 5-7) and Sex & the City (seasons 1-3). Then I spent seven hours doing the same thing the next day. Needless to say, I felt dizzy afterwards. I was scared that my mother would catch me red-handed (she has a key), though I think she’s aware of my hibernation habits…and where I get the cupcakes.

7. I’v10154130_1420895221503269_7061014535412761438_ne lived in a couple scary places, but NYC hasn’t been one of them. Despite this, I set up booby traps and a chair up against the heavily locked door. Just in case. Getting to sleep was a problem the entire time.

8. The hideous nightwear came out of hiding, especially if if I stayed in the entire day. One time, I did leave the apartment in my nightgown to get a slice of pizza (also something Sam wouldn’t do, unless it’s whole wheat, which I find completely nasty). I was a little embarrassed halfway down the block, but no one noticed. It’s New York.

9. The giant and urgent pile of work I needed to do got done–including three books to edit, one short story, three revision letters, and two proposals.

10. I cleaned 1/2 of the living room with the Swiffer, but then I ran out of Swiffer strips. Since it’s only going to get dirty again, why bother replenishing? Will clean again when he starts sneezing.

11. Every morning, once more in denial, I made enough coffee for two people. It was wasteful, but I think I will do this for the rest of my life–well, except for the fact that he usually makes the coffee.

12. On the seventh day, I realized that it had been a good week overall–even with the agita, obsessive puzzling and insomnia. Sometimes, you need a week. As I went through my routine, I got excited that there would soon be that vivacious presence I’ve gotten so used to these past five years.

He’s home, I’m relieved and happy. And now it’s time to get serious about that kitten.

Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

Romance’s First Book Club

Bible Group Reading TogetherThis past week, I attended my first book club for Romance Is My Day Job–and in Manhattan, where so much of the story takes place. If my computer hadn’t crashed the day after, I would have posted the details sooner.  And if I hadn’t been worried about my soon-to-crash computer, I would have thought to take pictures.

You might remember that last Tuesday in NYC, it was painfully humid. I wheezed and sweat buckets all the way to my destination. I met seven intelligent, vibrant women, and we chatted about the book, partook in refreshments, and laughed a lot. After this two-hour book/me/Sam/romance-fest, I knew I wanted to do many more of these. What a total blast!

These readers really discuss their books (for fifteen years now), and with me, didn’t hesitate to ask hard questions about:

1. My family dynamic now

2. Are Sam and I still happy? The realities of happily ever after

3. Why did I write in the present tense? Wouldn’t past tense be more natural?

4. Why did I put that awful event toward the end and not sooner?

5. How did I feel exposing so much about my life?

6. What’s next?

7. The reality of meeting someone in person after “meeting” over a computer

8. What is my responsibility in the string of failed relationships?

9. How Sam feels about The Book (we have a song: thebookthebookthebook…thebookthebookthebook, repeat)

10. As an editor, did I have a hard time being edited? (no, it was awesome!)

11. What is the bigger message?

In addition to the experience of meeting these women, I loved the surprise on their faces when they saw that I’d brought Sam–the hero of my book–along. Having him there allowed them to hear another side of the story. It was such an enjoyable night. Discussing books–all books–is an addiction for me. I love to know what people are reading and make lists upon lists so that I can add to my own ridiculous To Be Read pile.

Thanks, First Book Club (Jackie and friends!).  Now I will back up my computer. Again and again.

Romantic Life Lessons, Shameless Promotion

Going Back to High School

Two weekends ago, Sam and I went to our high school for his 30th reunion. There was no pressure for me because I’m still in the bloom of youth (by two years). But to be honest, I always get jitters when I go back–or when I step out of the apartment. Also, as it is for many, my high school years were mixed–yet ones I remember vividly as happy, with great friends, teachers, and a feeling of home (dorms are cool). The campus is still gorgeous with its hills, fields, beaucoup de brick buildings, and what seems to be a thriving community. The teachers don’t seem to age either. Seriously, my math teachers look the same. How is this? I’ll assert that they all drink (or inhale?) a serum that keeps them young. Even the headmaster, who was a teacher in my teens, seems boyishly energetic. It kind pisses me off now that I think about it.

But I digrphoto (4)photo (10)ess (antphoto (7)i-aging makes me do that). Sam pretended that he wasn’t excited to go. Popular people do that, downplay how awesome it is to make a grand entrance, especially when you were/are so cool. Sam was very excited as evidenced by his racing down the highway many hours before we had to be there. At his last reunion, Sam put cucumbers on his eyelids. I wondered what kind of crazy hijinks he’d pull off this time. He and his squeaky clean BFF joked about doing something impish, but I knew very little would happen aside from closing down the hotel bar, maybe with some giggling over throwing a bucket of ice on a sleeping Sam in olden times. Middle age tempers those pranks. Sam did wind up tormenting the alumnae from Westover, who were staying at our hotel. He told the Westover ladies to “Get over it.” Get it? He also tried to keep up with the hotel shuttle to the class dinner, doing some entertaining zig-zags for those on the shuttle (while I turned green).

During the day we strolled around the school. After the parade of classes, we ate a buffet lunch in the revamped cafeteria where Sam and I first danced. As the reminiscing continued, I inhaled a few lemon bars, thinking how nice Sam’s class is. And just as I got lost in more sugar and caffeine, I turned to find two Tafties from Ohio, introducing themselves and telling me that they were reading Romance Is My Day Job for their book club. What a thrill! These two ladies made my weekend extra-special.

I floated thereafter, both on the compliments and instant gaining of body mass, and did as Dr. Oz would do, walk it off and explore (my own rare prescription). The main building entrance looked exactly the same: same tile, walls, offices, which was comforting. I rejoined Sam outside, and he reminded me to wear my sunblock. At one point, Sam’s other BFF lay down on the grass. Sam did the same. They held hands. Students strolled by, probably wondering who were these crazy old guys? Hijink accomplished.

Along with others from Sam’s class, I stood in line at the school store, eager to buy a Taft tote bag (because I don’t have enough of them from romance writers conferences). In front of me were much younger alumni, saying “oh my god, I need like need this coffee mug. Don’t you need a coffee mug? I need a coffee mug…” over and over. Even with this, I stuck it out in line for a good twenty minutes. Others bailed. I got my tote bag.

We went to a memorial service for Sam’s classmates who left us way too soon. My own class has lost too many and thinking about them made me grateful to have known them, and to have the life I have right now.

I took lots of pictures–of where Sam and I first danced, my dorm, the basement where one could easily sneak away from a dance, the Latin classrooms, and of course, my favorite couple.

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