Back to everyday life.

I always feel such profound sadness when my kids go home after a visit. It was a wonderful week. Our son-in-law was a real sport for coming, in spite of his broken foot. Havasu in August with a cast is no fun, but he toughed it out.

I enjoyed my pool time with the grandkids and our daughter Elizabeth, and telling Addison and Evan stories at night. They don’t want me to read to them—they want me to make up adventure stories where they are the main characters. It is a bit of a challenge to come up with new stories each night where mermaids, giants, and dragons are all included in each story.

I loved seeing how Addison and Evan bond with their GG —my mom, their great-grandma. They both adore her, and each morning they would race out of their room and ask me if they could go see her. They didn’t want to wake her up if she was still sleeping.

This was the first trip where the grandkids stayed in the house with us, while their mom and dad stayed alone in the cottage.

Elizabeth and Joe took off for Phoenix over the weekend, so they could go to a Cubs game. The grandkids stayed with us. Elizabeth and Joe don’t get much adult time away from the kids. Wish we could help them out more.

But now we all go back to our regular lives. For me, it is wrapping up a book and starting a new one. For our daughter it is the busy life as mother, wife and graphic artist. Her plate is especially full at the moment as Joe is hopping around on one leg.

They left early this morning. I’ve put away the blow up bed I bought for Evan, stored the toys back in the closet, and returned our home to one that is strikingly adult–the only toys in sight are dog toys.

But when I came out to the cottage a few minutes ago, I was greeted with something cheerful–something my grandkids left behind. The water picture paintings they made when their folks were off to the baseball game.

The paintings are hanging on the cottage refrigerator, just a few feet from my desk. I think I will leave them there.

Spending time with some real characters!

This week while The Ghost and the Bride is off with the beta readers, I will be spending time with two young people who inspired my character Evan MacDonald. Readers know young Evan as the police chief’s youngest son, who, like Danielle, can see ghosts.

The inspiration for that character came from my two grandchildren, Addison and Evan. I gave Evan MacDonald my grandson’s first name, and I made him the same age as my granddaughter.

The description of young Evan MacDonald was inspired by my grandson. Yet, I don’t think my Evan can see ghosts. Although…if you look at the photo (taken last year), maybe Evan has just stopped to chat up a spirit.

Even Sadie questions this review…

Every once in a while, a review left on one of my books catches my attention for its absurdity. The following review was left on one of the books from my Haunting Danielle series.

“I haven’t been able to finish this book yet as once again, someone is being blamed for murder. Same old same old…”

You might assume I find the review absurd because the Haunting Danielle series is in the cozy mystery genre. And in a cozy mystery, people generally get murdered—and people get blamed for murder. Therefore, slamming a cozy for having a murder, is a bit like slamming a cookbook for having recipes.

But that is not the reason—it was because, in this particular book, no one was murdered, therefore, no one was blamed for a murder.

Oops…did perhaps the reviewer review the wrong book?

Book Festivals & Book Signings

Unlike many of my author friends, I haven’t done many book signings. To be honest, I’ve never done an official book signing where a book store or similar venue hosts an event where I am the main attraction and people come specifically to see me and buy a book for me to sign—or in some cases, stick around while I read passages out of one of my books.

Book signings just don’t happen—someone needs to plan them. Typically, that someone is the author or someone working on the author’s behalf. When it comes to this type of promotion, I tend to be a little shy. I know I should do them, but I spend much of my time in front of a computer as opposed to putting myself out there with the public. As with many writers, I am a bit of an introvert.

However, a number of years ago I was asked to speak at the local museum regarding my family’s experience at Havasu Palms. That speaking engagement led to several more locally—with the hospital axillary, the genealogy society, and the Colonial Dames. While I wasn’t there to pitch my book and give out signatures, those speaking engagements were the catalysts for me writing Havasu Palms, A Hostile Takeover.

I have participated in several local shopping events—where I set up a table with my paper books and meet the public. However, none of those are primarily book events. The person set up in the table next to me might be selling oil paintings or homemade soap—or even real estate.

Living in Lake Havasu City, Arizona—a fairly isolated area—there aren’t many opportunities to participate in book festivals. Before the eBook revolution, I did participate in two local book fairs, which—if memory serves me—was hosted by our local writer’s group—or perhaps it was the community college?

Payson Arizona recently hosted a Book Festival, showcasing Arizona authors. I didn’t participate as an author, but I did go to show support to one of my author friends, Susan Haught. The above photograph shows Susan’s table at the festival. It was a nice event, and I enjoyed seeing the books from all the talented Arizona authors. Maybe next year.

Pretty shoes, princesses, and granddaughters…

Sorting through posts from a now defunct blog, I came across this entry I’d written on February 10, 2013. I decided to share.

I resist the temptation to re-sock my granddaughter’s feet after she tugs off the knit footwear. It is amazing she kept them on all night and throughout breakfast. The fact we are in Kodiak, Alaska in winter, and it is snowy outside, makes no difference to her. After all it is warm in her house.

I try to convince her slippers are more comfortable than the pretty dress shoes she insists on wearing, yet I quickly realize my notion of comfort is not hers. When I arrived, she was wearing a red patent leather pair, each shoe adorned with a red ribbon rose. One of the gifts I brought her from Arizona was a glittery purple pair, which immediately became her new favorite. A couple of days ago her Grandma Marcie sent her pink patent leather shoes with bows. The pink ones are now her favorite. After all, they go with her tutu.

Did I mention she loves wearing a tutu? After she removes her socks mid-morning, off comes her pants.  Oh, she leaves on her underpants, but any leggings or outer pants are removed. If given a choice of what to wear in the morning, chances are she will ask for a dress. Yet, she feels a tutu is a suitable alternative.

My granddaughter is just three months shy of her third birthday. As she clomps around the house in her pretty patent leather shoes – no socks – wearing a colorful clean knit top, a tattered pink tutu, with cartoon Disney underwear peeking out from beneath the ragged netting fabric, she tells me she is a princess, and I believe her.

Our granddaughter has quite the fascination for princesses. I suspect she has every Disney book and movie pertaining to princesses. She has the Disney princess figurine collection and the larger dolls. She can tell you which one is Belle, Ariel, Beauty, Jasmine and a few others I am not familiar with. She can spend hours chattering away with her princess dolls, speaking for them as she creates her own imaginary world of make believe.

I suppose there was a time in the 70s I might have been horrified at the thought of my granddaughter having such a fascination with princesses. Yet, I am probably more a feminist today than I was 40 years ago, and frankly, I see nothing wrong with her love of all things princesses.

As long as my daughter and son-in-law haven’t signed her up for Toddlers & Tiaras (something they would never do) I see nothing wrong with Addison’s princess phase. I learned over thirty years ago—when our son was a toddler—that young children simply like what they like.

I am not concerned our granddaughter will grow up believing the only way to find true happiness is by snaring Prince Charming. I suspect the examples set by her parents will have more impact on how she views life than a make-believe cartoon world.

More Haunting Danielle audiobooks!

It’s official! Tantor Media has purchased the rights to books 4, 5, and 6 in the Haunting Danielle series. For those following the story via audiobook format, you can expect the audiobooks to be released in upcoming months. As soon as I have specific release dates, I will let you know!

Can we talk about sex?

If you’ve read my Haunting Danielle series, you’ll know they’re G-rated. I like to say they’re books you can comfortably share with your teenage daughter or grandmother. Whatever Ian and Lily might be doing behind closed doors, I leave to the imagination of the readers.

But I also write books under the pen name Anna J. McIntyre, and they tend to be R-rated. Coulson’s Lessons is the first book I ever published under Anna J. McIntyre—yet it is actually the third book in the Coulson Family Saga (formally The Coulson Series.) How is that possible?

The Coulson Family Saga includes five books. I first wrote Lessons over twenty years ago. At the time, I never intended to write a saga, that came later, after my characters came to life for me, and I wanted to go back in time and explore their history.

My mother has always said Lessons (now Coulson’s Lessons) is her favorite book of mine. She has read it at least a half a dozen times. But she read it the other night—it had been a couple years since she last read it—and she told me she needed to stop telling people it’s her favorite.

After questioning her, I discovered it was still her favorite, but she had forgotten how much sex was in the book. Mom is 89 by the way. She claims it is still her favorite, but would prefer to keep it to herself. Umm…please don’t mention this blog post to her.

But she is correct, of all my books, Coulson’s Lessons is the heaviest on the sex. Recently I read a review from one of my Haunting Danielle readers who mentioned they enjoyed Coulson’s Lessons, but might have liked a little less sex.

It’s a valid point. If I were to write the same story now, it would probably be less explicit. However, I don’t believe any of the sex scenes were gratuitous. After all, the story is about a married woman who has an affair—and the lessons she learns and the choices she makes for her family. It is a story about a woman the world has on a pedestal as the perfect wife and mother, who has a secret she keeps for a decade—and it is only after the death of her husband does the world learn of her infidelity. So perhaps I wouldn’t tone it down, if I wrote it today.

The Coulson Family Saga touches on a myriad of topics—homosexuality, infidelity, loss, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, rape, family values, loyalty, marriage, forgiveness, and hope.

It wasn’t until I finished the last book in that series did I realize it was ultimately about the women—and how they persevered.

Many readers who read just Coulson’s Wife, the official first book of the series, find the bittersweet ending of Mary Ellen’s story unsatisfying. They want the happy ending.  I don’t think the ending is necessarily sad. Mary Ellen, in her own way—for her time—found contentment and fulfilment in her life.

But sometimes that true happy ending takes several generations. I believe it did for the people of Coulson.

(We have given Coulson Family Saga a facelift, with another round of editing, fresh covers, and it’s now available in a book bundle for one price. The books in this series are also in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, so if you are a member, you can read for free.)

 

A Writer’s Work Space

I wrote my first book sitting at the counter of the Havasu Palms store, in the summer of 1969. I was fourteen at the time. When not working on my book, I was waiting on customers.

To help you get an idea what that counter looked like, I’ve included several pictures of the store. To call it a primitive structure would be an understatement. (The attractive woman behind the counter, waiting on customers, is my mother.)

We didn’t have computers back then, and since I first learned to type during my freshman year of high school, I was never much for writing longhand. That first book was written on a manual Royal typewriter that had once belonged to my grandfather.

These days I require a bit more quiet when I write. After I left real estate and turned my attention back to my writing in 2008, I was very happy in our home office. Posted below are a couple photos of what that looks like. What was not to like, surrounded by books, with both my cat and dog constantly by my side.

But then my husband Don was laid up for several months after surgery and decided to start working from home (he’s an associate real estate broker). I had to start sharing my office. It’s not that Don and I hadn’t shared an office before. For a number of years, we were a real estate team and were constantly together. But, as it turned out, while I didn’t have a problem sharing my office with one of my four-legged family members,  I didn’t do so well with a two legged one. I needed quiet and solitude when creative writing. Reading passages aloud didn’t work out well when one’s office mate is on the phone talking to a client.

Don’s mother—my mother-in-law—passed away just a few months after Don moved his office home. She had been living in a guest house we had built for her, in the back area of our property. That’s where I work today (see photo below).

My mother-in-law Doris was a big believer in angels. In fact, she collected them, and after she passed away, we had each of her nieces and grandchildren each pick out an angel for themselves. There are still a few in the guest house, including one sitting on my desk, and next to it—which you’ll see in the pictures I included.

I often say my success of the Haunting Danielle series might partly be attributed to the intervention of another angel—my mother-in-law Doris—whose home I work in each day.