Writer Words

Putting Myself In Books

A lot of advice for early writers is write what you know. Obviously we hope authors like Stephen King aren’t writing from personal experience, but I think it’s much deeper than the story that a writer connects to.

For me, there are a lot of characters I’ve written that I felt I had very little in common with the situations they were in. But every character has a little bit of me in them.

I’m not going to list all the ways I’m like my characters, but I will tell you how I came up with some of them.

Names are important to me. I’ve always been fascinated by the origin of a person’s name. Is it a family name, or that of someone important to the parents? Is it a name the person loves or hates? Does the person go by a nickname? Who chose that nickname? All those things fit into defining a character.

For me, I was named after two saints. My family is Catholic and when I was adopted, my parents named me for two saints. It has defined me in some ways, and I know the names of my characters define them.

Appearance is another big one. Most of my women are overweight women. They’re characters I can relate to because I’m not a small woman and never have been. I couldn’t find a lot of stories about women I could relate to, so I started writing them. Now it’s more popular to have characters of different sizes, but these are the women I relate to, so I’ll keep writing about them!

Little things like religion and music tastes and families are all factors I take from my personal life. I’m Catholic, like many of my characters. I listen to country music (hello Kate Maddox). I have a brother and a sister so I understand what it’s like to have both and can relate. I do struggle writing only children, but between friends and other family, I’ve gotten a good picture of what that’s like. But most of my characters are similar to me in more ways than one.

Writing people that I share no similarities with is tough. That’s not to say I’ll never write characters that aren’t like me, just that it’s more of a struggle. Opposites Attract has been more of a challenge than I expected because I’m exclusively in the head of the men. Boy, are they hard to figure out! But I’m enjoying the challenge. I’ve been to Hawaii, but it’s been a long time. So I’m doing a lot of research about the area, the language, and the culture. It’s all new to me, but I’m loving it. It’s definitely making me anxious to go back!

One day I’ll get back there, and then maybe I can write more stories about Hawaii. It’ll feel like it’s a part of me again!

What parts of you would you incorporate into a character?

Ten Romantic Gestures to Spice up your Weekend

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away. Most people will celebrate a little early, especially since Valentine’s Day also falls on Ash Wednesday for Catholics like me. It’s also a Wednesday, which isn’t always conducive to a night out.

Valentine’s Day might be a contrived holiday, but it’s also a chance to show the person you love how you feel about him or her. Flowers and candy are nice, but there are so many other things you can do to bring some spice to your weekend. Have fun!

  1. Wear something sexy. I know, it’s been done. But how often do you drag out the lingerie or wear something a little nicer, a little sexier, for your other half? I know I rarely do. Usually I’m in my yoga pants and a t-shirt and my comfy cotton undies. There’s nothing inherently sexy about my clothes, but they’re comfortable. If I’m trying to bring in a little romance, changing things up always gets his attention!
  2. Go dancing. Or stay in and dance. My hubby is not a dancer. It took some convincing to get him to dance at our wedding. He is very self-conscious about dancing, so we don’t dance much. But we can put on some music and dance around the apartment after the kids are sleeping.
  3. Get him something special. I asked for suggestions on Facebook a few days ago. There were a lot of great ideas, and what I loved was they were real. Little things that we could do or I could get for him. It doesn’t have to be big in order to be special, and I was reminded of that a few days ago.
  4. Act out a scene from a book. You guys know what I write. Maybe it’ll be a little inspiration!
  5. Leave him a note somewhere you know he’ll see it. I get up with my hubby every morning and help him out by making him a sandwich while he cooks his breakfast. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to start putting a note in his bag some days. I know he’ll smile when he reads it.
  6. Say I love you. It’s simple, but do you say it? If you do, get his attention and say it when you’re looking into his eyes. If you don’t say it regularly, still get his attention and tell him honestly. Remember the first time you told each other? It’ll still have an impact. Along the same lines, tell him something you love about him. He’d love to hear it.
  7. Cook him a nice dinner and offer yourself as dessert. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that suggestion! You know what to do! If not, go back to #4.
  8. Do something neither of you have ever done before. There are tons of date ideas all over Pinterest. Look up some ideas and do something new. There are also lots of free date ideas if the budget is a concern (and let’s face it, it always is).
  9. Do something you know he enjoys. We all have different tastes. Has he asked you to go to a movie that you’re really not into? Or maybe he wants to tell you all about something he’s excited about. Whatever it is, give him a chance to share something that he likes. It will bring you closer.
  10. Make him a playlist. Do you remember when people used to make mixed tapes for the one they had a crush on? Maybe that’s just me, but I certainly made a couple and had a few made for me. It was nice to hear the songs the person thought of when they thought of me. You can still do that. We were in the car last night and Devin Dawson’s All On Me was playing. My nine year old sang along with it, but at the end she asked if that’s how daddy was with me. If I could put everything on him if I needed it. Even though he doesn’t like country, it would be one of the many songs I’d put on a playlist for him. (If you don’t know the song, you can listen to it here.)

Hopefully you can take at least one of these ideas and have a fun weekend! If not this weekend, do it next. There’s never a bad time for romance!

Do you have any tips to share?

Getting to the HEA

It’s a rule in romance that every story has to end with an HEA, or happily ever after, or at least a happy for now scenario. I like to break rules a lot of the time, but this is one of those rules I will never break. I can’t tell you how many times I read a Nicholas Sparks book or watched one of his movies and cried. I mean, really, who hasn’t?

Getting to that happy ending isn’t always easy, though. Sometimes the characters have to lose what they want the most. Sometimes they have to give up completely. And they always have to change. If the love story was as simple as two people met and fell in love, it would be a short and boring book.

We want someone to root for. Someone we see ourselves in. Someone who needs people in their corner.

I do my best to make each of my stories believable. I don’t want you walking away thinking this would never happen in real life. We all go through challenges and struggle to figure out our love lives. Love is one of the most difficult, confusing, and rewarding things any person can ever experience. I’m fortunate that I get to make people fall in love every day!

But getting to the happily ever after means going through those challenges, facing the difficulties, and battling the confusion to get the reward. Some of my favorite stories are the ones that don’t feel completely hopeless but make you doubt. The hero overhears something and misunderstands. Or the heroine finds out he’s been hiding something. Or there’s something outside the control of both of them that tears them apart.

Our challenges tell us who we are. It’s in that where we find opportunities to be better. We can always be better people, and novels help us to see that. We find parts of a character that we see ourselves in, and believe we can change the same way the character did. We can find that same love. We can have the things we really want. There’s always hope.

In real life, we don’t have the luxury of turning the page and finding out what happens next. Instead, we have to write our own book. We have to decide if we’re going to give him another chance, or if we’re going to be the first to call after a date, or if we’re going to grovel for forgiveness when we screw up. It isn’t set. It isn’t easy to make these decisions. It’s painful and heartbreaking and so worth the reward when we get it.

Keep pushing toward your reward! It’s worth it!

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One Month Down

At the end of 2017, I shared my goals for this year. I’m a big believer in accountability, which is why I shared my goals. I’m also a big believer in the statistics that say over half of people have abandoned the goals (or resolutions) by the end of January. I figure one way to make sure I don’t do that is to share each month how I’m doing.

Damn is that terrifying!

In case you forgot, these were the goals I shared with you…

  1. Publish 8 novels and 2 boxed sets
  2. Pay off debt
  3. Eat, exercise, and lose weight
  4. Publish audiobooks and app
  5. Develop 3 workshops
  6. Stick to a budget
  7. Save

I’m only one month into the year, but I think I’m doing fairly well so far!

  1. This goal has been changed a little. I’ve decided to publish 6 novels and 3 boxed sets this year. I’ve published one new boxed set so far and will have my first novel of the year published early next month. I’m on track for that one!
  2. We still have debt. I don’t imagine that will ever change. But we’re moving in the right direction there, too. I’m feeling good today about our debts.
  3. I read or heard somewhere (honestly can’t remember where now) that when we make resolutions to start doing something like going to the gym three times per week, it’s really tough. Not because it’s that hard to go, but because if you weren’t going much, the increase to that frequently is a massive change. So I started my goal with going to the gym once per week for January. I’m happy to report I’ve been doing that! So I’m on track. Next mont I’m going to make an effort to exercise twice a week (either at the gym or home).
  4. I’ve done nothing. You knew my streak had to end somewhere! The app will come first, but I haven’t had time to work on it this month.
  5. I completed one workshop so far, and even taught it once! I have a second workshop well under way but not done yet.
  6. Budget is like a four letter word for me, except I usually like four letter words. I don’t like this one. BUT we started using cash in January. We said if we don’t have it, we won’t spend it. We still spent a little more than we should have, but we were tremendously closer to our budget than usual. The surprise for me was that I loved it. Hubby hated it, but I loved having cash. It made me feel like we were secure knowing there was cash in my wallet every day. I’m definitely going to keep doing that. One note, we didn’t go with cash for groceries and gas. But those were never our problem areas so it worked!
  7. This one kind of goes with our budget and debt. We’re making progress. Are we where we want to be? No. But it’s only been one month. We’ll get there!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the first month of the year went. I know we still have a few more days, but I don’t expect much to change. Unless hubby takes some cash and buy a winning lottery ticket! If that happens, I’ll tell you about it next month!

How are you doing with your goals so far?

You know you love it!

I”m so excited to have the Big & Beautiful boxed sets on sale this week! If you haven’t read these stories yet, you’re missing out!

The first book in the series, Chubby & Charming, is always free. Go grab your copy today!

To make things even better, you can get the first boxed set for only $0.99! Read all about Claire, Lexi, Addi, and Sam falling in love. Four books for only $0.99!

The second boxed set is on sale at Kobo for 40% off through January 29. Use code BOX40 to get the discount!

And the third boxed set is finally available! You can read all the Big & Beautiful stories for less than $20!

Go grab them all now!

Chubby & Charming
Big & Beautiful Boxed Set 1
Big & Beautiful Boxed Set 2
Big & Beautiful Boxed Set 3

Chubby & Charming at Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | B&N | Smashwords 

Boxed Set #1 at Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | B&N | Smashwords

Boxed Set #2 at Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | B&N | Smashwords

Boxed Set #3 at Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | B&N | Smashwords