Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Romance’

The Soul of the Matter: “It is good we are dreaming…”

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

I love Emily Dickinson’s succinct word choices. Because of them her poetry can mean exactly what it says, or a world of other things can bloom from her writing depending on the reader’s state of mind. It inspires me that she reportedly spent days, weeks, months, even years choosing and re-selecting just the right words to convey emotion and sentiment and life into her poetry.

There are those who don’t connect as much to the darker themes that flowed from her creativity. Some find her approach jerky and caustic and truncated before full understanding can evolve from the images she conjures. Particularly in a poem like this “dream” one I selected a phrase or two to set off a particularly turbulent moment in Christmas on Mimosa Lane. But for me, it’s forever magical each time I dive in:

We dream—it is good we are dreaming—
It would hurt us—were we awake—
But since it is playing—kill us,
And we are playing—shriek—

Granted she loves herself some punctuation, and I’m a writer who would avoid all em dashes and colons and semi-colons in my work if I could. But I don’t think it’s as simple as her trying to enforce the rhythm she wants the reader to follow. I see a broader brilliance in what she’s doing. An encapsulation of theme and purpose, allowing us to take away small bursts of understanding, even if we don’t continue to read the rest of what she offers.

ED understanding

It IS good we are dreaming.

Dreams can protect us from reality. We all dream and wish we didn’t have to wake. And shouldn’t the goal be to play and shriek and face what we fear might kill us, in those places we go to in our dreaming minds?

Where else would it safe (good) enough to deal with all that we need to, in the hopes of understanding ourselves enough once we return to avoid the very things we feel threatened by?

I’ll share just one more stanza from this poem to give you a better idea of why I selected a few snippets from it for COML:

What harm? Men die—externally—
It is a truth—of Blood—
But we—are dying in Drama—
And Drama—is never dead—

This is a kind of reversal for me, where she takes the very safety of the dreams that protect us, turns them on their ears, and begins to show us the harm of ONLY living in dreams. (more…)

Hope for the Holidays: What we think we know…

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

We think we know people. We think we understand what places and seasons and even holidays mean to us. Then in an instant something shifts that changes our lives forever. We see so much of that these days, on TV news and the Internet and social media. Lives changing with so little warning the new directions they take are riviting and heartbreaking AND inspiring to watch. What do I see when I look at scenes like this? Hope. I see people learning how to come together and become stronger for the community and families they’re making stronger…and learning how to hope in the midst of what should be breaking them.

hope hand candle jar

Holidays can be hard, especially for people who need that “perfect” holiday experience more than others. These are times when we’re looking for a shining light to lead us. We’re wanting a reason to believe. We’re hoping…and praying we won’t be disappointed.

Those are the holiday stories I see and try to tell. The ones where heroes rise out of difficulty and find a way to keep fighting and wanting and believing. As much as pure escape would be nice, it wouldn’t be my ideal. Reality is always there, and I’m looking as a reader and a writer for a reflection of what life is really like when it’s hardest, and THEN what it becomes when we push our way through a difficult time to that rewarding, hopeful moment when we’ve proven to ourselves and the ones we love that everything actually is going to be okay.

hope rhinestones

Christmas on Mimosal Lane is built that way. It’s not a straight ride from a page one to a happy ending. (more…)

The Soul of the Matter: Not knowing when the dawn will come…

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

“Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.” ~~Emily Dickinson

This poem opens so many windows in my mind, which is why I selected it to lead the first chapter of Mallory Phillips’ story. She’s lost and running and yet searching so hard for a home to call her own, just like Polly, the little girl who barges into her life one chilly fall morning.


The world (and Polly) barrels into Mallory’s life, whether she’s ready or not. Her chance has arrived to open her heart and truly believe in the power of change and redemption and transforming herself by letting others in so they, too, can be all they were meant to be. And all they’re meant to be to her.

Like many of us, Mallory’s tried and failed in the past. She’s feeling like the emptiness inside her is all she’ll ever really know. She’s living in the midst of a beautiful world she’s fought so hard to make a home in, and like Emily Dickinson Mallory’s feeling just as alone as she ever did, unable to connect with the people and places and holiday beauty around her.

Except she can’t NOT identify with Polly’s longing for her mother. (more…)

What does love look like to you? EXCERPT!

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

A romance writer trades in love. Human relationship is the arc of BUSINESS. But beyond the spines of happily-ever-after, what does love really look like? My books tend to challenge the “box” that romance novels live in for most publishers,  because what’s driving me to write seems to be the antithesis of a book that’s all about love. Love looks messy to me at first. Challenging. Broken. Because the repairing and struggling and conquering and cleaning up of all that makes us human inspires me to write. More than anything else. More than writing completely ”happy” characters.

love hands ocean

So when I tackle things like a sweet Christmas novel or a lovely beach read (Book 2 in Seasons of the heart is out next summer), I end up giving a little girl the life-changing loss of no longer having a mother. And I make the one person in the world she can talk to a woman who triumphed over something very similar when she was a child…or did she?

love hand

Love, to me, is who we are when we can’t pretend we’re happy, or when we meet someone who challenges our brokenness and DON’T look away. We don’t back off from helping another soul in pain, because of the damage remembering our own weaknesses can do to our souls. We stick. We fight. We heal ourselves, even the yucky stuff we’ve fought for so long not to look at, because that’s the only way to help someone else fight, too.

love cards

Anyway, that’s the light fair I’ve poured through Christmas on Mimosa Lane ;o)

It IS a bright and touching story.Readers are already responding to the uplifting, hopefull message I’ve woven through it. BUT, it’s what love looks like to me, so it’s not going to be a smooth ride. Those sorts of stories just don’t do it for me.

Here’s a taste…

Here’s hoping this is what love looks like to you, too! (more…)

The Soul of the Matter: “Hope is the thing with feathers…”

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Emily Dickinson charmed me with the very first poem of hers I read as a little girl: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul…” There’s something about the way she puts words together that mesmerized me. There’s a loneliness to her thoughts, but also a bravery. A sense that isolation drives her to create, but that she’s also dreaming of the day she’ll be set free. Her internal journeys spoke to mine, I guess, and they still do today.

hope with birds

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.

Do you see what she does here?

Hope feather

Hope is alive, even when it’s merely a captive in our hearts. It may not have a voice yet that we can hear, but it won’t stop. It won’t be silenced. It’s perched and waiting to soar just as soon as we’ll let it. (more…)

Franken Berry ROCKS! Sharing the wealth ;o)

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Yes. THAT Franken Berry. I grew up in a magical world where sugary cereal wasn’t unhealthy and letting your kids eat an artificially colored cold breakfast wasn’t a call for DEFAX and strawberry goodness was a princess surprise every morning that my General Mills employed father could produce a box of this delicacy on our kitchen table…


So when writing my first mainstream women’s fiction/contemporary romance, when I needed a way for a wounded woman to reach out to and connect with a hurting little girl who doesn’t think anyone understands what it’s like to be her, Fraken Berry became the first  pink, magical link between them. Sometimes it can be such a simple thing, a different kind of listening and understanding, that makes all the difference in the world. Christmas on Mimosa Lane is full of tiny windows like this. Connections where lives meet and deepen and share and maybe come undone just a bit more, so they can expand together and become more than they’ll ever be alone…

“Franken Berry?” Mallory blurted out, not above bribery. “When I was your age, it felt like Christmas morning every time I ate it. Strawberry flavoring and refined sugar and bleached corn flour…Crunch and sweetness that will make your back teeth smile.” And it could only be special-ordered from the manufacturer’s website a few months out of the year, since most stores no longer carried it. But for Polly, Mallory would break into her secret stash. “Ever had any?”

Polly shook her head. “My dad says healthy food only. I need to eat healthy to stay healthy.”

She stepped closer, and Mallory considered grabbing her. Except grabbing at kids who were hell-bent on running only made them more certain that they’d never be safe.