Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Makeup and Alternate Plans

Three months, people. Three months since I’ve posted a blog. Can someone please explain how in the hell I’ve been able to maintain my sanity without an outlet for the past ninety days? Because I sure don’t know how it’s possible.

But regardless, here I am today, ready to share all the news and stuff from the past few months. You ready for this? I mean, here goes.

I’m about to release a new book!

And that’s pretty much the gist of everything I’ve done since January.

In all seriousness, though, that’s moderately accurate.

Since Matt and I got back from D&D’s place in Florida back at the beginning of the year, my go-to activity has definitely been working on this new book. But, as the title of this blog post indicates, there has been something else going on recently. Makeup. And they tie-in together I promise.

A couple years ago, my sister started watching a handful of beauty gurus on YouTube. As she learned about tips and tricks for getting a flawless face, that is exactly what she got. I mean, my sister is gorgeous anyway, but she started using techniques and tools that amped up the flawless factor. Accentuated her best features.

I was impressed with her skill because makeup was always something that attracted me but I just never got it. Not really. So I focused on fun hair colors, clothes, shoes, to share my personality using this shell of my body.

In the last few years (ahem, decades), I’ve gotten away from makeup. Decided not to try anymore because it never came out looking how I thought it would in my head. And it was obvious I wasn’t really trying.

As my skin aged it didn’t seem to like the products I used to use. So I added the bare minimum of items to my “beauty routine” just to make me feel a tiny bit less haggard looking.

But as my sister learned, I developed a growing curiosity to give it all a try again. See if there were things I could do to this middle-aged face to perk her back up. Because, lord knows, perking up my ass and boobs again was a lost cause.

She shared a few of the videos that spoke to her, a few of the online tutors, if you will, who shared their experiences in a breezy way along with tutorials for application.

And I was pretty much hooked right away. Some of the gurus I discovered after those initial few have huge personalities, some more demure, some are even men (who, no lie, do better makeup than me, and are gorgeous, and, yeah). As I watched for a couple weeks I had an epiphany one day and shared it with my sister.

But I need to back up a little bit so this a-ha moment makes more sense.

Right now, I’m working on a whole new book series. The California’ Dreamin Series. The first book, Carol+ Chad 4-eva!, came out last September. Unlike my Shaw McLeary Mystery Series, I have a solid plan and path for this new series direction. At least for the first 5 books.

Carol + Chad introduces the reader to the various characters in California – some raised there, some Carol grew up with in Massachusetts who (like her) moved there in their younger days. Carol tells her story by writing in her diary. She documents multiple decades of times in her life over minimal pages.

But she also gave me a wealth of character development in those entries because even though she hints at her friends lives, only they can tell their own stories.

Book 2, Alternate Plans, will release in a couple days. It is the story of Deb Martin, before she meets Carol. A few years before she and Carol become roommates Deb had an entire life that I hadn’t yet told. It was time to share her story.

So, it only seemed right to do the same type of thing with all the other characters. And that’s where my makeup a-ha came into play.

Cherry, one of Carol’s childhood friends, is my slated story for Book 3. She’s a firecracker of a personality, a classic beauty, fashionista, and - A-HA! – a makeup artist.

When we last read about Cherry she was married and possibly still waitressing. But I didn’t get too specific with her in later diary entries so there was a whole lot of backstory filling in that needed done for this next manuscript.

It was as if I wrote her knowing there was a such thing as makeup gurus on YouTube and that she was going to become one right before my very eyes (eh, fingers?)! So Wendy and I spent some time talking out details of the phenomenon of YouTube and when people like that first started sharing tips. As we talked I saw my character’s entire path. The story only she could tell about the life of a YouTube sensation.


So makeup became my world for the last few months. And, not gonna lie, this might be the most fun research I’ve ever done for a book. I’ve learned an entire lexicon of terms, products, techniques, tools, you name it.

I’m still never going to be good enough at this to become a YouTuber (and I wouldn’t want to be anyway, behind the scenes is where I do my best work) but I have learned so much I feel like I can now write a truly realistic character story for Cherry. Plus, I found ways to enhance the bits I want to better on my own face and body. Win-win!

But her book isn’t even started yet so maybe I should back up again and talk about Book 2, Alternate Plans.

When Deb Martin moved away from her childhood home six months ago she swore to herself two things. First, she would always be there to help her family in times of need. Second, she would make it on her own. Without their money. Without using her given name to get ahead. But life has a funny way of backing up on a person and when Deb finds herself in a financial jam she knows her dad will help. If only he would call her back. While she waits, Deb meets a town full of people who love to help each other. Including one available, attractive guy, Adam. Despite her finding Adam moderately annoying, Deb has no choice but to accept his help. Could her unfortunate circumstance make her realize that on her own doesn’t have to mean alone?

I’m really excited about this book. My editors and beta readers helped this one go from meh to yeah! I can’t begin to thank them enough because I was about ready to give up on this one entirely. It makes me happy now to tell Deb’s story.

Ready for the cover reveal:

So cool. I love how it matches the tone of the book but doesn’t reveal too much otherwise. It’s available for pre-order now and drops this coming Friday, the 21st.

I can’t wait to get this one out there because, not only is it a story I’m very proud of but, that means I can get to writing the next one. Finally put all this makeup research to good use. Well, better use than just applying a face full of product every morning then walk into my office to go to work. Alone.

Because there is no rest for the self-publisher. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Opposite of Blue

What’s the opposite of feeling blue? There is no color equivalent to describe a happy emotion, is there? Not really. Not in the simplest of sentences.

For example, ‘I’m blue.’ is pretty much a full sentence. Two tiny little words and people know just how you feel – depressed, melancholy, forlorn, like the world has killed your inner child piece-by-piece for a full year.

But, say ‘I’m’ with any other color and it just doesn’t work to convey happiness. Red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, black, white, grey, mauve, chartreuse, hell even pink. None of them are happy colors on their own. Not like the word blue conveys sadness.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the past few days as even more of the heroes/celebrities/path-blazers of my generation have been snatched out of this plane of existence. All of us social media peeps can’t avoid the outcry, the memes, the articles that detail every blue detail of the past 365 days.

Silver lining? At least it wasn’t a leap year. Oh, wait…

366 days for the waves of ice cold water to slam into all of our brains. All but numbing us to the constant barrage of names thrown at us this year. Names we will never again hear used in present tense.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, John Glenn, Prince, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Glen Frey, Patty Duke, Harper Lee, Alan Rickman, Gordie Howe, Alan Thicke.

That list is just off the top of my head too, if you want a complete listing of all the amazing souls the world lost this past year you can check out this link, seems pretty comprehensive. Albeit way too long for my liking.

Awards season this year is sure to be a hoot as they spend a half hour per show honoring the fallen. In fact, this year has been so bad, some guy actually started a fund-me type account to order protection for Betty White. 2016 only has 3 days and about 14 hours left.

This year has been a true roller coaster in many ways. Since January, the world beyond my problems not only lost all those people but there was a year-long political campaign fueled by so much vitriol and hate that I almost guarantee anyone reading this who is on social media unfollowed and/or got rid of people they never expected to care that much about.

Views, primarily political made an appearance over here (and hereand here, and in 3 other places) this year. I wouldn’t think of that as strange except the last political related post I wrote before this year was in November of 2012.

And that post was the first since 2008. Yeah, this space isn’t usually a place I discuss world issues unless those issues are directly related to pop culture. (Like every fucking celebrity in the world passing away in a year, for example.)

This election got lost in the blurry lines between culture and pop culture. And, yes, those concepts used to be two different things. Not anymore.

And as if that wasn’t enough, radical people with issues and differing viewpoints on how to be a human, did some scary and shocking shit in a night club in Florida, in the streets of Dallas, TX, and in other countries. Many other countries like Belgium, France, Turkey, Germany.

We killed a gorilla to public outcry and tried to find an alligator like A Cry in the Dark was set at the Grand Floridian.

We watched enormous earthquakes impact Italy, Ecuador. An unconscionable hurricane hit Haiti and the United States.

By the time I got the news that Carrie Fisher had died it felt like emotional and mental whiplash. I just want to lie down now and take a big old nap from all this world shit until 2016 is over.

Because this year was supposed to be fucking awesome. The native people protected their sacred land and water. We had the first ever female nominated for President. Weed became legal in some way shape or form in all but 1 state that had it on the ballot this year. We had the Olympics. The Cubs won the World Series for goodness sake.

On a personal level, this year was pretty awesome. In fact, many super things happened.

I got to see my oldest friend and soul sister who traveled out here to visit us for a few days.
Matt turned 40.
We were fortunate enough to spend time with family we rarely see, as well as some people we saw a lot this year (another bright spot!).
My in-laws moved back to town.
We traveled to a beautiful tropical destination for a literal once-in-a-lifetime trip.
I got to celebrate my birthday in California at a Billy Galewood show.
We finished our final major renovation.

See? All awesome things.

So in 2017 I’ve decided to be more about the day-to-day wonderfulness, the personal victories and beautiful moments like the list right there. Because I’m done with the heaping pile of smelly trash that 2016 tried to become. Moving along. This is all behind us now.

Next year I’m going to be the opposite of blue.

Orange you glad?

Hmm, I agree, that’s weak. I’ll work on it. Next year.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, December 16, 2016

From the Front Lines of a Failing Author

It’s raining today. Started last night around ten-ish. After leaving Boston and moving somewhere with abundant sunshine I not only appreciate rainy days, I kind of crave them now. And this winter Phoenix doesn’t seem to want to disappoint me.

Thanks weather patterns!

Rainy days bring out the melancholy, no matter how cliché that might sound it is 100% true. They let me access that place in my head where I sometimes need to swim around in order to pull out the emotions necessary to craft a realistic fiction story.

Speaking of which…

The last update here was all about my cranky attitude and NaNo.

Well, I failed. In grand fashion.

29k words. Just over halfway to a win.

But, as always, the experience/journey is what everything is really about. Right? That’s what I’m going with because it makes me feel better about losing the challenge.

I lost only this one battle though, not the war.

Not a single word of all 29k words I typed during November made it into this book. The one that’s still in-process. The one I plan to finish writing by the end of 2016 and publish in early 2017.

After failing the NaNo challenge you might be wondering how I can say I’m going to publish “this book” in the next couple months.

During the first week of December I pulled an empty journal off the shelf, gathered my arsenal of black ballpoint pens, and sprawled across the sofa to tuck in and write.

So far I’m over 10k words. All by hand.

And let me tell you all, this is how I’m going to write everything from now on. I got away from pen and paper in favor of the much faster keyboard. But there’s nothing personal about plucking away on keys.

My main character, Deb, had no face and no discernable characteristics when I was blindly typing thousands of useless words. Editing that mess of shit would have taken me until 2018. And I guarantee the book would have made a complete 180 anyway so I figured it was better to just go with it and start over from word one.

Now, her character, as well as the MMC, side characters, and the setting, are firmly entrenched in my head. I can see it all. See them, who they are, where they are, their motivations.

Why does that matter you might ask? Because no author can craft a believable story, where characters portray unique voices, without essentially living in that character’s world.


And I don’t care what kind of book you write. From a reader’s perspective, if you can’t insert yourself into identifying with at least one character in a book you likely won’t finish reading the thing.

The important shit that makes a character seem more real. Relatable. That’s why motivations matter.

So, once again, I failed at NaNo but won at the challenge of producing a book. Almost. Not quite there yet but well on the way. I know I will finish this story because they are all but jumping off the page now.

And, aside from putting the wheels in motion to finish this book, I accomplished a couple other things while handwriting that I didn’t expect.

First, I developed a basic formula for all the books to follow. Now, before you ugh and roll your eyes the only thing I plan to formulate is the pace and overall structure of the stories. Because that’s the second thing I figured out. Every book in my California Dreamin’ Series (for now) will be based around characters you already know.

So, let me explain. As a teenager I always wrote stories that revolved around the meet-cute (despite not knowing what the heck that even was at the time) and the initial falling in love of the two main characters.

In Carol + Chad 4-eva! Carol talks about her life and the lives of those close to her. A huge, almost endless pool of potential characters.

If the stories about Jess, Cherry, Lara, Deb, and maybe more, were to be the focus of this series, I needed to figure out what part of their life stories I wanted to tell.

I started handwriting Deb’s girl-meets-boy story and it all clicked.

Every one of the people in Carol’s life had a someone. They were all in different stages of their relationships – some having just met before the end of Carol’s book but others had been together for a while.

But all of those people had to meet their person at some point. And that point was the 1990s, in California.


The proverbial lightbulb clicked on and it all made sense.

They meet, experience some type of conflict, eventually realize they’re supposed to be together, end up in happily ever after. Like I said, formula for structure.

But, just like Carol, all of those characters will struggle to get their HEA ending.

The conflicts will change from character to character, but they will always be there and in roughly the same timing.

Because the bud eventually falls off the bloom, right? No matter how hot they may be for each other at first, at some point they’re going to see the real other person and face a struggle to overcome that defines if they can make it together or not.

Just like life.

So now I’m filling in the blanks of Deb Martin’s life. Who was she before she appeared in Carol’s diary? Who is that boyfriend Carol mentioned her friend moved in with? How did she meet him, where, when, etc.?

Failing is never failing in this life as a fiction author. It’s only a chance to start again. Build a new life for the character. One that fits who they are, where they came from and where they want to go. No matter how disrupted they end up after falling in love.

On this mellow, rainy Friday, I’m looking forward to getting more of Deb’s derailment onto the page.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.