Monday, March 23, 2015

Birds and Breakthroughs

I've been working on a super secret project. I've kept it (mostly) to myself because it is out there. Way far out in left field out there, and it might suck. I'll admit it. Right now it is a tangled web of really beautiful individual silken strands. It also might contain some bug carcasses and other yuckies. This is what first drafts are for, I've heard.

My writing partner and I met today to talk about some pieces we've been working on and also to discuss Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I'm not going to get into the play by play of the book...I will only say that it was awesome, inspiring and depressing, and so authentic that I couldn't put it down. My WP said that it "spoke to her" and I felt the same. In fact, the book--or Ms. Lamott-- whispered in my ear while I was driving my daughter to karate. I'd been struggling with my tangled mess to the point that the bug carcass I referred to earlier might have been me. I was totally stuck. My character was this blank, unidimensional victim, and even if all the tragedy and her journey were heart-wrenching and pretty, I was pretty sure no one would give a shit. There I said it. This is what happens when you have little ones and hold in all your swear words all day. You write naughty novels and swear in your blog. Back to my car revelation. I just knew. The answer came flying out of some dark space inside of me where it had been secretly fermenting into something fizzy and delicious like kombucha. And I had it.

I had my solution. I could see that with one big twist of a single strand everything fell into place. But I was afraid. I'll admit it. The twist was big. It was painful and even a little bit controversial. But it had to be done. When I got home, the words flew onto the page. They came in that cathartic purging way. Still I wasn't sure. Then I got an email from my WP. She sent me a short piece she'd just written about a character who goes through the same experience I had just written. Now, I am a deep believer in signs. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (also awesome, read it). I think the universe lets us know that we are on the right path. So to me, this wasn't a coincidence.

 Picture by Jonnie Andersen (unaltered)

I like to think it was a sign.
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Reading on the Road

 Every time I go away with the family, I delude myself about how much reading and writing time I will have. My kids always require a "cuddle until I fall asleep" approach on the road, and since I am eternally sleep deprived from my late night writing sessions (okay and my binge watching of various series on Netflix), I generally pass out before they do. On family trips, audiobooks are my friend.

Tomorrow, I'm headed out of town to Great Wolf Lodge with my family and this time, I plan to actually read. I'm hoping the waterslides will have a soporific effect on my children, allowing me time to look at actual books instead of worrying about entangling us all in my headphone's wire.

I'll be bringing along: James Scott Bell's Super Structure
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Simply Irresistible (Lucky Harbor #1) by Jill Shalvis

Oh, and my monokini. Never thought I'd be saying that, but there it is. My (cringe) monokini. I can't forget that.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Totally Random Tuesday: 10 Random Facts

This poor blog has been neglected--horribly neglected. Mostly because I've been sick all winter, and I fall asleep while putting my kids to bed every night because of this, so all my other free time has been redirected to taking Nyquil or some other Quil and working on my WIP.

1. My current bookshelf looks something like this.
I'm at the point where two storylines are converging and it's awesome. Loving this book so far.

Case Histories

My writing partner gave me this book after a conversation we had about my WIP. I'm just getting into it and it's awesome. There's something about someone sharing a book they describe as "well-loved" that is such a gift. And it's a physical book, which I love.

2.  I could moonlight as a private investigator.  The other day I solved a mystery in my life that has been troubling me for literally 10 years. I also binge watched a lot of Veronica Mars earlier in 2014.

3. After a particularly bad break-up many moons ago, I decided to join the CIA. This involved me trying to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese. I now have the abilities of my five-year-old after she watched 10 episodes of Ni Hao, Kai Lan.

So obviously, that didn't work out.

4. I don't like conflict. I dropped the English part of my double major in college instead of switching to a minor because the former didn't require my advisor's signature. I'd gotten a bad grade on a paper I'd just written in her Victorian Lit class (I usually did very well) and I was mortified. I couldn't even think about facing her.

5. I love movies most people think suck. Conveniently, so does my husband. Right now, one of my all-time favorites is Decoy Bride.
I'm pretty sure it is rated 1-star on Rotten Tomatoes. Whatever, it is awesome and so are Scottish accents.

6. As a child, I loved reading so much, I would use the dim red light of my clock radio after my parents removed all brighter sources of illumination to facilitate sleep instead of reading. I still will stay up all night to finish a book I am really into. And I'm impatient--sometimes I skim. <cringe>

7. I love the beach. In my dream world, I would live with my family in a cottage on an isolated beach somewhere and dig for clams, write, and have tangled, salty hair every day. There would also be a lot of bonfires, rubber boots, and romance. Basically, a Ralph Lauren ad meets Gift From the Sea. 
Anne Morrow Lindberg's work is genius by the way. Actually, maybe I just want Ralph Lauren's house from long ago.
 Perhaps this is because I worked at a Ralph Lauren outlet store during summers in New Hampshire. As an aside, our code for a shoplifter was "Ralph is in the building".  Good quality clothes, though. I still have pajama pants I bought there nearly 20 years ago, and they are still in comfy perfect condition.

8. I am a highly-sensitive person. I can't stand the feeling of flour on my hands or the feeling of the inside of my Kindle cover. I can't stand big crowds or loud noise.  And I still feel pained when I think about some of the mean things people said to me when I was 15 years old.

9. I am the proud owner of a cuckoo clock. Thank you, Mom!
Something about it just makes me feel happy. 
Feeling happy, yet?

10. For as long as I can remember, Sundays make me feel down. I cope with this by making plans to redecorate our house. I do not follow through on these plans. Curtains are ridiculously overpriced and also I don't really like shopping. But a girl can dream. Right now, I am in the process of mentally converting our suburban North Carolina home into some sort of coastal homestead.

That's all for now. In my next post, I will be talking about my next work in progress. It involves a little revenge plot and is a romance. But first, I've got to finish up the literary fiction piece I am working on.  Don't worry, it is full of love, even though it isn't a romance.  And I think the end is in sight.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

I've had a little trouble keeping up with the blog. Too many projects, too little time--and too many viruses as well. In normal fashion, I have solved this by starting a whole other blog. Bess Kingsley is my pen name for romance. And this blog is my place for all things romantic. I also write other things, and in real life I walk around as someone less glamorous. Maybe my real life is sometimes less romantic, but it is full of stories. So if you want to hear about my other work, or read essays about my crazy personal life, then head over to A Book With a View.  My first post is part of a series I'm writing about how I once dated a con artist. True story.
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Free Romance Novel Finds for the Holidays

Here is the first installation of free romance stories for your holiday reading. Perfect for whenever the snow is coming down or you're resting after all the cookie-eating. Best of all, these are free romance novels and stories, so no need to worry about spending dough on yourself.  Happy Holidays!

First up is a Hanukkah romance called Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

You can get it here:

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Frozen: a Winter Romance Anthology BlogTour

Thanks for coming to the next stop on the blog tour. The holidays are right around the corner and so is all the great music that brings to mind good times with family, romantic evenings in front of the fire, delicious food and too much eggnog, mistletoe and twinkle lights. Just one song can transport you. 

Music is a huge part of my writing process. Every story I write gets its own playlist of songs that have moods and words that inspire me. Today I present to you my playlist for Falling on Ice, my story in Frozen: a Winter Romance Anthology.  I really love this playlist and I hope you do too. It's a great mix of songs that fit Sam and Jake's journey. 

Ice sculptor Sam McLeod, during hard times. She's lost her boyfriend and business partner and she's on the brink of losing her business after a competitor steals all of her clients. But Sam is tough. She is not going down without a fight. Her last chance is to take top prize at the Annual Ice Sculpting National Championship held in her hometown of Rigby, Alaska.

Formerly famous Jake Pane fled the New York art scene and came to Rigby to reinvent himself and his art. He wants back in, and all he has to do is show everyone that he can produce something new and amazing. In the meantime, he's taking the ice sculpting world of Rigby by storm.

When Sam slips and falls off of an icy ladder at Nationals into the arms of Jake Pane, it seems like the last thing she needs. Nothing good could come out of getting romantically involved with her competitor. Or maybe together they can win the greatest prize of all.
My story is the final piece of a beautiful anthology. It is preceded by 10 stories written by 10 talented authors. Check them out below, along with links to find the book.

The Ice Hotel Wedding Test
Charmaine Pauls
Jess and Derrick have been together for twelve years. When Jess finally gives Derrick an ultimatum, tie the knot or set her free, he proposes a bizarre test to decide their destiny.

South-African born Charmaine Pauls is a gypsy at heart who loves to look at the world through the lens of her camera. Before taking up writing full time, the novelist worked in public relations, advertising, journalism and marketing. She resides in Chile with her husband and children.

Love Thaws a Frozen Heart
Valerie J. Clarizio 
Casey is hell bent on getting Noah to sign divorce papers. Hiding out at his camp, Noah is hell
bent on not signing. Procuring a snowmobile, Casey sets out in a blinding snowstorm to find
him. After crashing, she is near death when Noah finds her. Will a few cabin-bound days cause
either of them to change their mind?

Valerie Clarizio grew up in the north woods in a house full of brothers. She can hunt, fish, and survive in the great outdoors with the best of them.

Lord of Ice 
April Marcom 
Jack Frost gave his heart to Lilly the day she was born, making her the perfect leverage for a fire
spirit whose heart is set on becoming Lord of Ice.

April Marcom is a teacher, author, and mother of three who enjoys the slow, peaceful life of the countryside.

Frozen Moments ('A Waiting For Dusk' story)
Nancy Pennick 
Drew keeps proposing. Kate keeps saying no. It’s their little game. Can the holiday season
change that? Kate has lost her best friend, and Drew does his best to cheer her up in this
delightful story of love and memories.

Nancy Pennick had a great career in teaching, before finding a second calling as a writer. She loves to travel, garden and have a good cup of tea nearby.

Frozen In Time
Christina Kirby 
Lizbeth travels the world as a freelance photographer and answers to no one. After her last relationship, that’s exactly how she wants her life to be, easy and all her own. 
Jonas is staying at his family’s cabin while he deals with the loss of a fellow fallen solider. He wants nothing more than to be left alone and to avoid Christmas. Neither plan on spending Christmas with a
stranger or finding the person who’s exactly what each other needs.

Christina Kirby is a stay-at-home mom who loves books and traveling, though with two small kids the love of books is more convenient.

Frozen With Possibilities
Rhonda Brutt 
A resort on the shores of Lake Superior in the middle of December was not exactly what Tiffany
had in mind for a mid-winter vacation. But when she agreed to accompany her progressive
grandmother on this frozen trip, she discovered that life is filled with possibilities, if you only go
after them.

Rhoda Brutt lives in the Minneapolis metropolitan area and enjoys swimming, concerts, and making up excuses to get out of cooking.

Frozen Heart Thawing
Nicole Angeleen 
In the depths of winter, Thomas Everett grudgingly meets his betrothed, Nila Sarvani, the
daughter of a powerful sheikh. The passion they share takes them both by surprise, but the
ruthlessness of American business threatens to tear them apart. Nila must decide if her dreams
can be realized if she allows herself to fall in love.

Nicole Angeleen is a writer from Shawnee, Kansas. When she is not writing, she spends her time on the beach, traveling, and being a rabid and obsessive sports fan.

Frozen Dreams
Elena Kane 
In a world surrounded by snow and magic, Cara finds herself grossly out of place. Ridiculed by all, she lives her life in terror from perpetual bullies until she runs into a stranger in town. 
Ben is everything she always wanted, but never expected. Better yet, he sees past her differences.
Could Ben be her dream come true?

Elena Kane is a country girl living each day to the fullest; creating characters that touch the heart and stick with you.

Her Frozen Heart
Tara Fox Hall 
Alaric has always loved the winter season, second only to his love of spells and sorcery. When
his beautiful neighbor Cassandra reveals she’s a natural witch, he’s instantly smitten, even as he
despairs of attracting her interest. Is there hope for a magical couple who thrive in different

Tara Fox Hall divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, 
chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice. 

The Thawing of Holly’s Heart
Marilyn Gardiner 
What happens when a single mother meets an old friend and, despite the conviction that she
will never again open her heart to another man, finds herself falling in love?

Marilyn Gardiner has published in many newspapers and magazines, taught a creative writing class, tutored adults learning to read, and volunteered in the public school system. Her book shelf holds eleven published novels, and two more not yet published.

You can find this wonderful anthology here:

Satin Romance


Barnes and Noble

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Five Random Facts About Me

I'm trying very hard to be good.  And that means finishing edits on Chasing Storm and working on getting past this 40,000 word sticky point that I am in in my current work. I love writing romance, and while love is a very strong theme in this new WIP, it is definitely not a romance novel. It isn't coming easily. It's painful. I've started my typical late night show watching avoidance. I'm not ready to share. So I thought I would share a few things about myself instead.
Without much further procrastination, here goes:
Five facts about me:

1) I use my delightfully dirty mind to write contemporary romance novels. But I write other things too. I have written (and desperately need to finish revising) a YA novel. I finished it before I started using Scrivener and it is just a monster to try and fit it together. I also write literary fiction too.

2) I once went on a beautiful trip to Costa Rica with my husband and now I only have a taste for coffee from there. Right now, I'm out of my CR coffee and am drinking some Kona blend from target. I'm sorry, Hawaii. It's not you, it's me.

3) I'm 35 and wish I had a pony. Actually a horse, but I also insist on calling all horses "pony". I have a 5 year old, so I believe this is acceptable. True horsepersons probably find this irritating.

4) My favorite desert is Baked Alaska. Of course, I am now allergic to almost every ingredient in it, but a girl can dream. Now I eat frozen grapes and strange hypoallergenic cookies. My life is rich and fulfilling.

5) For a large portion of my youth, I was in love with Spot Conlon from Newsies. Never fear Brooklyn is here. Pardon me, I just realized that I need to go buy my husband a slingshot. And a cane. And a newsie cap.

Bye for now,
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