Tag Archives: love

CONVERSATIONS OF A THIRD KIND…


Dialogue is key in writing books.  And in parenting. Understanding dialogue, shifting through dialogue to pick up nuances, and getting to know a character.  Dialogue helps remind us we need to listen better. Instead of casually checking your Droid for messages, or glancing around the room, concentrate on the person you are conversing with. Study their face, gestures, expressions, and tone.  You will be taken to a whole other level. This is the level where you discover treasure. This is the level you discover who your character really is.

 I’ve had the pleasure of listening to my children over the past few weeks. Trapped for long weekends from slush and ice and snow, we played games and I watched them do a lot of creative play. My favorite times have been our conversations. It’s brought the concept of dialogue to a whole new level. Here are some highlights:

 Jake: Mommy, we learned about Dr. King in school. He got shot because of a bad man. Why?

Me: Well, Dr. King was a very brave man who stood up for what’s right. No one should be judged by the color of their skin, so he fought for what’s right. Some people got mad at Dr. King and a very bad man shot him.

A pause. Jake: Do people get mad at you, mommy?

Me: Yes, sometimes.

Alarm. Jake: What if someone shoots you?

Me: No one is going to shoot me, honey.

Jake: Was Dr. King scared?
Me: Yes, but he stood up for what’s right.

Jake: Do you get scared, Mommy?

Me: Yes.

Jake: You mean adults get scared too?

Me: Of course. Even adults get scared.

Pause. Jake: But if adults are scared, how are you supposed to protect me from monsters if you are scared too?

Me: Because Mommy is not scared of monsters. There’s no such thing as monsters.

Jake: You call men with guns monsters so there are monsters and they can shoot you.

Me: How about playing Candyland? I ask hopefully.

Jake: OK.

I promise to revisit this conversation when he is 7. I swear. Really.

 Me: What do you want to be when you grow up, Jake? You have to draw a picture for school.

His face lights up. Jake: I want to be a rock star chicken robot.

I struggle with this. Me: Well, they’re talking about a job. A robot and a chicken isn’t a job. A rock star is. How about something like a fireman or an astronaut?

Shakes his head stubbornly. Jake: Chickens have jobs because they lay eggs. Robots like R2D2 work. So I’m drawing all 3.

I have nothing left to argue with so I let him draw it. The picture was so worth it.

Joshie: Mommy, take this lifesaber. You are Obi Wan Kenobi and I am Anakin. We have to find Yoda and get the bad guys.

Me: Sigh. Can’t Jake play with you, honey?

Joshie: No. You.

I grab my sword and surrender. “OK who’s the bad guy?”

Joshie throws the stuffed Mario Brothers doll into the corner of the kitchen. “There. First we get Yoda in the swamp to help us.”

We trudge through the swamp (my kitchen actually looks like one) and get Yoda. I am instructed how to hold my lightsaber the proper way. Then Mario follows us through the caves to get to Darth Vader. The stuffed bunny comes out.

Joshie: First I get him, then you. We both hit him with our swords. Cool – we did it!  Now we drink our Capri Suns and jump on the bed.

Me: Mommy hurt her leg in the battle so I need to rest on the chair. I think Daddy is ready for a jumping contest.

Joshie studies my face for a bit then decides to believe me. “OK, mommy, good battle. You rest.”

I smile and grab my Kindle while I hear my husband’s groan in the bedroom.

My niece is 12 years old now but I remember this classic that has never left my mind. We were sitting on the stoop when she was 4 and looking at pictures. One came up with her mother pregnant.

T: Aunt Jen, how come I’m not with mommy in this picture?

Me: You are. You’re in mommy’s belly.

A look of pure horror overtakes her face. “Mommy ate me!! Gross!”

And my all time favorite:

 Joshie: Mommy, I love you more than the stars.

Me: I love you more than the sun.

Joshie:  I love you more than the whole universe!

Me: I love you more than the moon, stars, sun and whole solar system.

Joshie: Mommy, what’s the biggest number in the whole world?

Me: Infinity.

Joshie: I love you more than infinity and beyond like Buzzy Lightyear!

Me: You win, my love. This time you win.

 If we listen a bit better, there is buried treasure within each conversation. Humor, confusion, innocence. And most of all: love.

FREE SHORT STORY…


A gloomy Tuesday after the long holiday weekend.

How about a short story?

This one is one of my favorites. I’ve tweaked it for a few short story markets but have not made a sale yet. I give it to you, my peeps, and hope you will enjoy it. Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

TIME AFTER TIME

            The phone rang.

            I fought my way out from fuzzy tendrils of sleep and glanced at the bright red numbers on the clock. 3:00am. A chill squeezed down my spine when I reached for the receiver.  Calls past the witching hour always brought darkness. Accidents, sickness…grief, desperation..

            “Hello?”

            “It’s me.”

            His familiar voice ripped through my haze and left a bloody path of memories in its wake.  Oh, God, it was happening again. He was happening again.  My body tensed as if to ward off a blow.  I fought for breath and let out a squeak of my former voice. “Why are you calling?”

            “I missed you.  It’s been a long time.”

            Five months.  Two weeks.  Nine days.  Endless hours.  But I was different now.  I’d learned about myself and what I really wanted, needed from a man.  How many times had I shut the door on him and his empty promises?  Tonight, I needed to turn the lock and stand firm.  The final test had arrived.

            “I don’t want you to call me anymore.”

            His tone deepened to a dark, heavy pitch.  Steel sheathed in velvet that always wrapped me in a cocoon of warmth.  “God, I’ve thought about you.  Tried to get you out of my mind and go on with my life.  I know I promised not to call, but I needed to hear the sound of your voice.”

            “I’m sure there are plenty of other women who are dying to hear from you, even at this time of night.”  Bitterness leaked through, even though I strived for cold and breezy. How long had I convinced myself I could share him?  After all, he always came back.  We were soul-mates, or so he told me. There was no other explanation for the sweet hum in my bloodstream when he spoke, or the memories that struck hard and deep in the night.

            “I’ve never loved another woman.  Remember when I first told you how I felt?”

             A sticky Indian summer night.  Sneaking around the college campus and peeking into dorm rooms to catch an update of the Yankees play-off game.  His hands on my body as he stroked by back under my t-shirt and pushed me against the old oak tree.  Rough bark biting against soft cotton, his breath a warm rush over my lips as I heard dim shouts of “Go Yankees!” echoing in the distance.  Rain dribbled through the breaks in the leaves as the storm caught and held, soaking both of us. Piercing blue eyes held a mixture of experience, wisdom, and hidden pain as he looked into mine and said the words. I love you.  Funny, how every part of my life led up to that moment.  A turning point, a path less travelled.  I knew who he truly was and ignored the warning, believed I could change him like the long line of women before me.  But I gave the words back and he shouted his victory and swung me around.  My hair dripped in my face, my sneakers sloshed in the mud and I wondered if I’d ever be the same again. This man held a part of me – this lone self-described warrior who questioned the rules of society and dared to be different. I wanted to be his mate, the final one standing. I thought of marriage and happily-ever-after even as the other affairs continued; his pleading and begging for forgiveness and his warning that he’d always told me the truth. How could he be in the wrong when I’d known who he was?  How could I challenge his basic right to be his own man and use my grief as a weapon? He vowed to always come back.  And he had, but after so many times he’d come back to nothing but a shell of who I used to be – an insecure, scared little girl who couldn’t enjoy him because I always waited for the day he left.

            “I can’t go back anymore.”

            I was different now. The last time I walked into his art class, I waited for him to acknowledge my presence.  Our secret affair was always a double edged sword, especially around the other students. We played a game – he would catch my eye and nod, reassuring me I belong to him.  When he helped another student, he sensed my presence and always stopped to confirm my importance. That fateful day, his gaze had been riveted to the willowy blond as she splashed color on the canvas. Long elegant fingers wrapped around hers as he showed her how to hold the brush. He leaned close and whispered something in her ear, and her laughter danced in the air and shattered through me like a sunbeam on an icicle.

            And I knew. I knew I was trapped and would always be trapped.  I left then, ran away and refused to answer his calls.  I rebuilt my life on truth, stability, reality. 

            “I won’t ask you to go back,” he said.  I want us to go forward.  I’m ready for a commitment now.  I can’t sleep.  I spent New Year’s Eve alone this year, imagining you here with me.”

            Two years ago.  Frank Sinatra singing of blue umbrella skies as we slow danced in the candlelight, stopping to feast on a delicious array of cheeses, crisp crackers, tangy olives.  He made martinis and tipped the glass over my lips as icy vodka bubbled into my mouth and burned the throat. Then his lips followed, his tongue thrusting inside my mouth while he stripped me naked in the living room in the dark. 

            “Do you remember?” he urged.  “Do you remember my promise?”
            I will always come back to you.  Lying under a blanket on the carpet, limbs entwined, his words were more a punishment, a life sentence, than a lover’s promise. The reflection in the mirror was no longer me, already a shadow of the girl I believed I was, slipping away.

            Silence settled over the line until I forced the words out. “I have to go.”    

            “Not yet.” He talked then.  Instead of fighting, explaining, defending, he just talked.  Like I remembered so well – conversation stripped bare without niceties or hidden barriers. He wanted to change. He realized I was his true soul mate. He was no longer afraid of being with one woman. I was his future, his destiny, his true North.

            I listened for a long time, warm in my bed, safe in the dark. Listened as his voice wove a familiar spell of longing and completeness, and then he fell silent, waiting.

            My mind took up the old battle with my heart. I’d been strong these past months, living alone with the knowledge I would never be with him. Now, the faint hope arose, a tiny flicker as the past pulled at me like the heady scent of cognac to an alcoholic.  He never promised me faithfulness before; had never ventured into the idea of marriage or forever. How sweet it was to be in love!  How dull and gray and sobering the world was after heartbreak – like a long lonely road of nothingness, stretched ahead, with just the mantra of pride and strength pushing me forward.  I wanted to be strong for me, for my family, for my therapist. I wanted to pass this test but God, how long had it been since my body was pleasured by his lips, my mind drunk on his conversation, my life full again?  The anticipation of every minute, every phone call, until the world faded away under the stinging blue of his eyes. 

            The day we met replayed in slow motion in my mind.  The young girl I had been, seeking out an art class with the dream of setting the world afire. Twenty years my senior. Long dark hair touched his shoulders to mimic a modern day pirate.  Stinging blue eyes full of secrets and knowledge turned to mine as he said my name, and I knew. I knew he was the one, despite my snobbery at romance novels and love at first glance across a crowded room.  It was so much more than that – the feeling that another part of you had finally been found, my breath fuller, my vision more clarified and sharp, as a vampire might look back at her human life which had been fuzzy, my life shifted to Technicolor and I never wanted to go back. 

            He took a long time to approach me on a personal level. I stalked him with my youthful exuberance and passion. His fingers lingered over mine when he corrected my brush stroke. He sought me out after class with endless excuses, and we spoke of art and passion and dreams. He kissed me in the middle of the  work room. The scents of paint and cleaner and his musky smell filled the air. His lips gently took mine, but tenderness turned bold and he took me there on the floor – surrounded by white canvas and spilled paint and bright sun. He penetrated my body with bruising force, and I took every thrust and shuddered against him, complete. Drunk, alive, I moved into my second life.  He became my friend, my mentor, my confidante, and finally, my lover. 

            He became everything that kept me from a real life.

            I broke.  My whisper tore out of my mouth. “Please, don’t.”

            He knew.  Pride long gone, I waited and prayed for him to let me go. Wanted to crawl back under the rose colored comforter, sad but safe.  I begged God to spare me this one last time, wrangling mental bargains as I waited for my lover’s answer – closed my eyes and gritted my teeth, angry for giving him so much control.

            “I need you.” He paused. “Let me come up.”

            The words fell hard around me, then shattered into silence.  I took a ragged breath and for once, clearly saw the road in front of me.  How many times had I excused my behavior on reckless passion, or alcohol, or rash impulsiveness?  Tonight, I was stone cold sober.  If he came up, the cycle would start again.  He would ruin me, cut me into pieces, and leave me crawling for the door.  I’d feel alive again – food salty and sweet against my tongue, colors bright and vivid attacking my vision. But the payoff would be deadly.

            My mind whirled. Two paths flashed before me; beckoning, tempting.  I knew all of this and made my decision.

            “Come up.”

            I replaced the receiver and went out to meet him.

Inspiration…


I attended the RWA National Conference this year.

Inspiration comes in many ways.  There are so many things that can inspire on a daily basis but my favorites come in the forms of “lightbulb” events.  Those are the ones that make a difference.

On a writing scale, I was surrounded for 4 days by people who were both gracious and all talented. Our favorite icons took time away from their own writing to come and inspire others. I learned various information on craft and theme and dialogue. I learned about publicity and marketing. I met with editors, agents and writers. Throughout the whole conference though, there were certain nuggets of inspiration that has made a difference in my career and my life I’d like to share.

Writers inspire me. Writers who work hard. My icons such as Suzanne Brockmann, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard and Nora Roberts are my American Idols in the romance industry. I heard all of them speak, and they each write different type of books and had different advice for both the published and aspiring author but one theme pushed through them all.

Writers write.

They seem to have a pretty glamorous life. NYTimes bestelling authors who have money and fame  and  public adoration. But once you get to the nitty gritty, you realize they do the same thing you are doing every day. They just write. Some for two hours. Some for 4 pages. Some more and some less. The writing is not marketing or revising or editing. Just writing.

Not very glamorous, huh?

More like the commoner such as me.

They all took precious time from their writing to go to the RWA conference. Most of them admitted they stopped attending conferences because it took up too much time. As does blogging. Sure, they pay for a publicist, but they always honored the integrity of the job and their work: they write first. Then everything else comes next.

Nora Roberts  says she is her own boss and mean as a pitbull. There are no sick days or whiney days allowed because this is a “real” job and it doesn’t have many sick days or vacation days. I think once we begin demystifying and realize the most important thing is writing and getting new work on the page, we even the playing field. Nora Roberts had one line to write for when she began. We have many – new markets are actually opened thanks to e-books. I came away with a positive energy from all the editors and lines looking for fresh voices. They want to buy if it’s good. If we write enough, it will be good enough.

 RWA members inspired me. I was lucky enough to hook up with some fabulous women who seemed like my writing soul sisters. We shared wine and laughs and plot and suddenly it didn’t feel so lonely.  Everyone had different stories to tell about the market, or their struggles or their sale. We all had butterflies in our stomach at our pitch – and high fived afterward. These are people from Texas and CA and Atlanta and the Black Hills (shout out to Amy!). They inspired me to keep the friendship going and meet them next year at National. I feel more comfortable reaching out to new authors I admired because they were so happy to talk to me and realize I love their work. Everyone was gracious and enthusiastic and my networking “net” expanded more in these four days than the past year. This inspires me.

Disneyworld inspires me. At the laser show in Epcot, I watched the countries light up one by one. Crowds merged together in awe over the showers of sprinkles dripping from the sky, set to haunting notes of music that made my heart swell in all of the clichés I have ever written. I felt as if we were one in this world, and not separate.

Walt Disney inspired me. My girlfriend was able to do the back tour of Magic Kingdom and told me a beautiful story I need to share. There is a sculpture in Magic Kingdom of Walt with Mickey Mouse. Mickey is pointing down the road at something. If you follow, you will find a bench where Roy, Walt’s brother, sits beside Minnie Mouse. There is a space on the bench that is empty.

Walt Disney knew he was dying and only had a short time left. The story goes like this:

Walt Disney: “Mickey, I’m not going to be here much longer, old buddy. I need to leave but you’re going to be ok.”

Mickey:  “Don’t leave. I want to go with you.”

Walt shakes his head sadly. “No, you can’t come where I’m going, Mickey. But when I leave, I want you to walk over there.”

Mickey turned his head to where Walt gestured and pointed his finger. “Over there?”

 “Yes. Roy is going to take care of you. There’s a spot for you next to him and Minnie on the bench. This will always be your home, Mickey so never be afraid.”

I teared up imagining that scene. Love inspires me.

Books inspire me. When I read something where words sing and romance is hot and plot moves and I go into a fugue state into another time and place – I am inspired.

My children inspire me. They are loving and open to every new thing thrown their way. They may react with fear or trepidation or enthusiasm but they are present for every part of life and it inspires me to create the same present tense type of day for myself. My children make me to look at the world differently and strive to be a better human being.

When Jake was graduating pre-k, the teachers listed what each child stated he/she wanted to be when grown up.  I proudly skimmed through the notes such as firefighter, superhero, astronaut and doctor. When I got to my son’s name it read: Chicken robot. Yep. Chicken robot. My son did not just want a career – he wanted a whole new species.  After the initial rush of laughter and embarrassment, I realized how awesome my son was. Nothing held him back – his imagination and vision was vast and held no boundaries.

Love inspires me. Sacrifices for family, friends or a spouse.  Decisions to give up money and fame to pursue a passionate dream. Being brave to risk your heart being broken. Again. and Again.

Here’s to writing and following our passions and doing the hard work so we can then enjoy the good stuff.

Here’s to good friends who cheer us on even though they have never met us.

Here’s to the endless capacity of the human heart which sometimes disappoints but mostly awes me.

Here’s to inspiration.

Drop me a line and let me know what inspired you.

ROMANCE…


I write romance novels.

Most of you know that. Normally, romance novelists evoke various reactions, such as the raised eyebrow, the wonder regarding those sex scenes,  or the disdain of cliché writing. The basic theory most believe is that romance writers know all about romance.

When I was dating my husband, his best friend warned him away from me. “Don’t date her, man,” he said, shaking his head. “She’ll expect roses and pretty words and you’ll never live up to her expectations. She writes romance for God’s sake. Get rid of her before it’s too late.”

Of course, he ate those words when he gave his best man speech at our wedding.

But the philosophy was certainly interesting to me. I had different views on romance. When I was younger and single, I voraciously read every Silhouette and Harlequin book I could get my hands on. I was dazzled by the intense experience of that first kiss, the endless possibilities stretched ahead, the push/pull of attraction between a new couple excited me. I loved men who opened doors and talked about their feelings and whose touch could put me in a frenzy. I trembled at the thought of alpha males and dated my share of brooding, starved artistis. As I matured, I started looking for more values I cherished in a mate, such as respect for my individuality, a sense of humor, and interests that matched my own. Romance was courting, and great sex; meeting friends and family and not being able to keep our hands off of one another. It was drinking all night and eating cheeseburgers at 5:00am at the local diner.

There were some traits about my husband I was disappointed in. We danced horribly together. I would watch  couples glide on the dance floor, melded as one, sharing whispers of endearments and I would get jealous. My husband and I bumped along a few steps, he looked awkward and ready to be anywhere but in my arms, and usually had nothing to say while we danced.

He always walked ahead of me, which I always thought of as rude. He says I walk too slow for him. So I trot along behind him like a lost puppy while other couples stroll in the moonlight hand in hand. He is not affectionate in public, and even in our home, prefers to stay on his own couch, on his own side of the bed, and will drop me like a hot potato at a wedding, choosing the company of his buddies over me. But all of that was negotiable, and not enough for a deal breaker, so we fell in love and made a commitment to each other.

When my husband and I got married, later in life than most, we delved immediately into the domestic bliss of baby and house.  Our lives veered off course rather quickly, and my views of romance went with it. I found myself steeped in baby books, and became fascinated with anything to do with motherhood. Romance morphed into appreciation for a cooked meal, an extra sleeping shift, or the occasional night out with a girlfriend. My husband and I lost a bit of each other through this journey in order to gain the necessity of partnering to take care of a new life. We became a tag team, close friends, and fell asleep exhausted at the end of the day. Romance to me, at that time, was no sex. Just sleep.

Since the boys are now 3 and 5, I surprised him with a cruise for his fortieth birthday. I wanted to re-connect and be able to finish a conversation without young children interrupting. I was deathly afraid of missing the kids, so I booked a five night cruise and made plans for both sets of grandparents to watch them in shifts for the week.

The cruise was simply amazing. Even the flight to Florida was relaxing. I watched what I wanted, listened to music on my Ipod, and drank coffee. On the ship, we passed masses of families with young children while we happily skipped past, not needing to take care of anyone but ourselves. The sense of freedom was exhilarating. We ate five star dinners every night and drank cocktails all day long. We gambled in the casino, watched live shows, and did Karaoke. We watched bellyflopping contests and danced in the nightclub to seventies music without feeling silly and without needing alcohol for courage. We had sex in the middle of the day. We went horseback riding on the beach of Grand Caymans, drove mini jeeps through the jungles of Cozumel, and snorkeled on the coral reef hand in hand.

I re-discovered romance with my husband. Catching a glimpse of our old selves, we cherished the experiences and talked again like adults. The main highlight of the trip came in the Caymans. We were in a jewelry store which specialized in diamonds called the Crown of Light. The salesperson put one on my finger and the way it sparkled and caught the light made me literally gasp in wonder. I had never seen anything as beautiful as this ring. When the salesperson asked me if I wanted it, I laughed aloud and said it was impossible. She said nothing was impossible. I snickered and turned to my husband, who I assumed would pry the ring off my finger in three seconds and march me out the door before I got any of my impulsive ideas. And boy, am I impulsive. I am the type to spend all of our savings on a trip instead of the kids college fund and hope for the best.

Ray shrugged his shoulders and glanced down at the ring. “Do you love it?” he asked.

Wordlessly, I nodded my head.

“Then let’s talk price.”

My mouth hung open. I had a small fortune on my finger. “We can’t,” I said.

“Do you love it?” he asked again.

“Yes, but—“

“Then let’s see what we can do.” Matter of factly, he spoke with the store manager, who came to an agreement and then broke open a bottle of champagne. We drank three glasses and walked out with the Crown of Light on my finger. When I asked him why on earth he did this, he said simply, “Because I love you.”

God, that is romance. The ups and downs and middles.  We may have sucked at ballroom dancing, and he still drops me at weddings, but my partner in this lifetime is a different kind of hero than the ones I write about. And that’s fine for me.

This one is for you, honey.