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Outside of Romance

What do romance authors do when not writing romance? You mean, other than living the dream with their real life hero? (**he, he**) They chase children to and from school, soccer practice, tennis–they cook, clean, garden and write children’s books. Children’s books?

Venetta, Dianne- Show Me the Green! (RGB)

Yep. This romance author does, anyway! And what a wild ride it’s been to publication. Completely different from writing romance where I create everything until the editing process (whereby I then change everything according to my editor’s sage advice), writing a children’s book involves artists and illustrations, a proposition that is more involved than first glance. I never realized how much work it would be to transfer my vision to someone else–scene by scene, image by image–the process can be overwhelming!

And time-consuming. But like carrying a baby for nine months, once you finally deliver, it’s a great feeling. Wonderfully exhilarating! You have no idea what the future holds, yet you’re excited by the mere anticipation of come what may. Your dream has finally come to fruition. Now, you wait patiently while others receive your baby and you look forward to their thoughts. Will they love it? Hate it? Ignore it?

That part is similar to romance writing. You work long and hard on your stories, and when you push your little masterpieces out into the world, you wait with bated breath for the outcome. Will they love them? Hate them? Ignore them?

But once all is said and done, all you can do is sit back, breathe a sigh of relief and (hopefully) say, “I love them.” And I do. Much like my romance novels, I love my new children’s series. Even if no one else ever reads it, I enjoyed the process of imagination and creation, the painstaking process of editing and formatting, and finally–the delivery. I loved it all. It’s what I do. I’m a writer. And because there are many facets to my personality, I now write children’s books. **sigh** Now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, I’m off to the races and back to the drawing board to craft that next novel… 🙂

Hello, Fall!

This morning, I woke up and greeted my children, “Happy Fall!”

Glum morning pouts returned, “It’s not fall, yet.”

“But it’s the 22nd. Yesterday was actually the cutoff, so I’m safe today.”

“My calendar says its tomorrow,” my teenage daughter replied.


Hmph. “Your calendar is wrong, or this is one of those off years. Either way, I’m celebrating today! Hot cider anyone? Glass of red wine by the fire?”

red wine by fire

Fall is my favorite time of year. Not only the cooler temps and fall foliage (leaves I get to enjoy on television), but it signals a change in pace. Gone are the unruly days of summer when life is a free for all with the kids home, bored, restless, but it’s also the time of year I get back in the garden.

squash going great

In Central Florida, September is planting month and boy, have I been planting! So far, I have black beans, red beans, lima beans, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, kale and peppers in for the new season. My okra and peanuts are finishing, making way for sweet onions, carrots, garlic and potatoes over the next weeks and months. Whew–doesn’t that just sound exciting?

How about you? Do you live where the gardens are going gangbusters right about now? If not, feel free to enjoy mine vicariously….at BloominThyme!


The Art of Drama

I have a confession to make. A few of my favorite shows have broadcast their season finales, and I’m not too sure how I feel about them. I understand drama and conflict–throw the hero/heroine into a hornet’s nest and watch them react. Got it. Make their life miserable just when they thought they had it all figured out. Wonderful. Perfect.

Only this season on Revenge, they killed off one of my favorite characters, the guy Emily was dating and should have been able to spend the rest of her life with once she exacted her revenge on the Grayson family. She achieved her victory but lost her man in the process. OUCH. I’m not happy. Yes, it’s the perfect circle of revenge–Victoria loses her man, Emily loses hers–but I don’t like it. I’m a happy-ever-after kinda gal. Granted, I probably shouldn’t be watching this show for HEA gratification, but I can’t help it. I enjoy watching the drama for tips on my own writing. But killing my good guy? What’s the matter with writers? Have they no heart?

woman pulling hair out_XSmall

My daughter has expressed similar outrage over Veronica Roth’s (I think it was her) killing of a main/popular character in one of her books. The author explained she did so for the express purpose of making readers FEEL the pain of death so as not to desensitize them (as so many are in today’s society), but still. I love her thinking, but don’t we read books for escape? For fantasy and fun and drama?

The Good Wife is another show that left me dangling with unease. Alicia and her law partner, Cary, are at odds over his betrayal. Their old senior partner, Diane, wants on board, and the Governor’s office wants Alicia as their new prosecutor. Great to have Diane on board–right after she turned down the same prosecutor job offer–but how is this going to work with Alicia and Cary at odds? I’m not having warm fuzzies. The betrayal is great for drama, but where’s the pleasure in having Diane on board with the new firm?

Sheesh. Maybe prime time dramas aren’t for me. Maybe I’m a lifetime specials kinda gal. I don’t know. I just find myself caught between a writer’s brain and a reader’s enjoyment. UGH.

Ever been here?


Cover Reveal!

So excited about my current series, Ladd Springs. Set in the eastern Tennessee mountains, this romantic mystery family saga has been so much FUN to write! A bit ambitious writing five books in a year, but a great experience. This current book (#4) centers on my a guy with a natural talent when it comes to the horses but an all too unfortunate lack of talent when it comes to making good, sensible decisions. But then again, he’s a man ruled by his passion.


When Troy Parker returns home, a pregnant Casey Owens rejects him outright asserting he lost his right to honesty when he abandoned her to pursue his fortune in Kentucky. Jimmy Sweeney, friend and ally to Casey, never cared for Troy and is more than willing to take part in her deception.

Jack Foster has a few tricks of his own, beginning with reconciling his daughter Felicity Wilkins with the Foster family. Her mother, Delaney Wilkins, wants nothing to do with family reunions, knowing some relations are best left buried.

But as time passes, lies unravel. Casey can no longer deny her feelings for Troy and confronts him about the pregnancy. Felicity is doing some confronting of her own now that she’s learned a disturbing truth.  Yet it’s Delaney’s confession that causes families to collide as folks take sides, shattering both past and future generations, ensnaring Casey and Felicity in painful complications for which neither is prepared…

Family feuds run deep and wide, threatening even the most solid of unions. Find out who survives the perils in this chapter of Ladd Springs…

What do you think? Now back to the keyboard for the final details of the explosive finale!

The Creative Side of Life

Creative people are a different breed.  And I should know.  I “is” one. 🙂  We don’t think like regular people.  Our brains don’t operate in linear fashion.  Well, I take that back.  Creative engineer types make think in linear paths, but I’m no engineer.  I’m a writer.  An artist.

From creative stories to pencil drawings, I’ve always had a penchant to craft, create, make up stories…  Over the years, I’ve won awards, earned recognition for my efforts.  I won the fourth grade writing contest.  The high school drawing contest.  It’s a natural gift that has come in handy–one I’m especially reminded of after a few hours spent reminiscing with my brothers.

“Remember the time we told mom…”

Yes, well, it’s been fun, nurturing this creative streak of mine.  And I love nurturing it full-time as an author.  While not always grammatically correct, my voice is my own.  It’s unique.  Like a finger print, you can read my work and hear me tell you a story, one I hope you’ll enjoy.  But as a self-pubbed author, I find my talents can be “stretched” at times.  Currently at work on creating the covers for my 2013 Ladd Springs series, I find honing the vision can be difficult to translate into words.

Ladd Springs_Book1-LG

And when I say I’m creating the covers, mind you, I speak loosely.  Very loosely.  I have one of the most fabulous artists designing the covers for me–namely one Jax Cassidy–and she’s simply amazing.  She has a great eye for covers, for color.  She sees things I don’t, comes up with ideas I’d never even think of, yet she allows me input into the process.

Therein lies the problem–or thrill!  Depending on which side of the conversation you’re operating from.  Like anything else, cover design is a process.  It’s small changes that make a big difference.  It’s an overall vision that must run consistent with your story, your characters, your fictional world.  Your readers must be able to relate.

For me, it’s a fun process.  Until my perfectionist brain cells kick in and my real life brain cells have to shut them down, that is.  Then, like the tiny weeds in my garden, I have to ignore the impulse to say, “One more 1/16th of an inch and by George, I think we’ve got it!”

Sort of like when friends visit my 400 ft. X 100 ft. garden.  They don’t notice the teeny-weeny weeds.  They’re taking in the entire effect, the overall beauty and grandeur.  Aesthetically pleasing, the leaves and fruits and vegetables appeal to a part of their brain that doesn’t even know what a weed is–can’t even compute the image.

There are days in writing and cover design when it behooves me to remember this little fact of life.  Give readers the “pop” of imagery, the overall emotions of your story–and then trust them.  They’ll open the book, move past the cover and lose themselves between the pages.

Anyone else know what I mean?  For a preview of my upcoming Ladd Springs series, go here.

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