So, why fantasy?

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in rewrites the past two months, kicking book 1 of a new fantasy romance series up a few notches before my agent starts shopping it around for the perfect publishing company home. She wants more weird, more crazy, and I freaking love that—I’ve got plenty to pull from, trust me. But as I’ve been rewriting and letting my imagination run wilder, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my inner critic has surfaced a few times.

“This is too far out there…you’re gonna start scaring off your friends and family.”

“Will anyone even read this?”

“Is that goblin too short?”

Doubt, second-guessing—it’s all part of the creative process. (Heck, it’s all part of life in general…) Thankfully, most days I’m able to douse those flames by writing a witty dialog between characters. Enough laughter, and I’m off and running with the story once more. Other times… well, that’s where my writer friends come to the rescue. They talk me back from the ledge, tell me to go with my gut and, most of all, have fun.

And THAT is the answer to why I’ve started writing fantasy romance: because it’s fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I have fun writing contemporary romances too. Writing anything fiction, really. Sometimes even nonfiction stuff. But when I get the chance freedom to throw in magic and mythical creatures, it gives my imagination free rein. If I get to build the world my characters live in, that means I get to make the rules. I also get to decide who’s allowed to break them and how.

Is it easy?

Hell no! Making up stuff only works if I make it believable. Flying imps? Talking trolls? Bouncer yetis? Cool stuff, but if I don’t make them well-rounded, don’t have their words and actions match their environment, then it’s just a handful of 2D creatures stamped on a page.

Ah, but if I make the troll heart-broken because his woman left him, now I’m digging deeper. And if his heartbreak is delaying my heroine’s escape and now she’s got to deal with him while trying to save her own neck, well, now it’s getting interesting. Add in that the troll smells to high heaven and needs to be deodorized…and either my readers are gonna ask “WTH?” or start to laugh.

…please laugh. Please, please laugh…

With this book, there’s been plenty of self-amusement. As a writer, that’s my litmus test for a book—if it amuses me, then I’m more passionate about getting it right, about making it funnier, sexier, wittier. I keeps me invested.

Am I nuts? Yeah, maybe.

But only in my books. 😉

And don’t worry—I’m not ditching the normal sane realistic contemporary romance writing (my next Bliss book ON THE MEND is due out this October, more details to come!) Instead, I’ll be writing both, having fun mixing it up a bit.

Because hey, life’s short. Gotta have fun while we can, right? 😉

Happy hump day, everyone.

Kyra_sig1

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Turn it Off

I don’t know about you, but I think about things. A lot.

Things I have no control of, and things I do. Things that won’t matter 5 days—or 5 years—from now, and things that will. Things that I should be doing, things that I shouldn’t. Things I wish were happening, things I wish weren’t.

If you’ve followed my blog the past few years, you’ll notice this is a reoccurring theme. Apparently I haven’t quite gotten this under control yet. And man, it’s exhausting.

Sometimes, all that thinking is a great thing—when I’m working through projects at work or when I’m pondering the plot for my next book. Definitely great when I’m writing. Other times, it can really wear on you. Or worse, steal the joy you could be having in any given moment.

I was mowing last night (oh, the joys of summer!) and as usual had my earbuds in, trying to tune out the day and get lost in the mindless trek back and forth across my yard. And it worked…sort of. But all too often, my mind wandered right back to where I didn’t want it to. Back to the land of “what if’s” and “why’s”.

And then…breakthrough. What triggered it?

I focused on something else.

There’s a tree in my backyard I love, but it’s getting a bit big for its britches. Once a year or so, I’ve got to trim its lowest branches, because the farther they grow, the heavier they get and the lower they hang. After ducking around them a mow or two (oh, let’s be honest – at least half a dozen times), I get fed up and bring out the loppers. I do so love those loppers…

The branches were thicker than I’d realized, and trimming took some doing. But soon enough it was mission accomplished, mowing path cleared. And as I was hauling the large, victim branches back around the side of the house to break down and dispose of, I felt a surge of accomplishment. Of confidence.

Silly? Maybe, but you know what? I’m owning it. The action I took, it was all mine. I saw, I came, I conquered. And I won’t have to duck for another dozen months or so while I mow.

Even better, it shut my damn brain off for a while.

Thinking can be a wonderful thing, greatly beneficial at times. But when thinking starts eclipsing doing (or living in the moment) then we start selling ourselves short. Shifting my focus and rolling up the proverbial sleeves worked last night, and helped pull me out of my funk. It’s a trick I need to try and remember.

Sure, I try to catch myself before my mind wanders too far down the rabbit hole, but it’s not easy. And because habits can certainly be hard to break, it seems I have some work ahead.

Guess it’s a good thing I like to be challenged. 😉

Happy Tuesday, everyone. And to all my American readers, happy Independence Day tomorrow!

What Shapes Them?

Shapes.

Nope, not talking about physical attributes (tall, petite, rail thin, built like an ox) today, but rather what shapes a person. Or, more specifically, fictional characters. But since they’re just the book/comic/movie version of us, it really applies across the board.

Have you ever read a book where you just couldn’t connect to a character? Maybe they were too negative, too positive, too much of a push over, too much of a bully. That isn’t necessary an indication that they were written incorrectly—some people we just don’t connect with. And that’s okay (so long as they weren’t the main character that we were supposed to fall in love with and cheer on for 200+ pages).

But have you ever read a book where you were like, “Wow, this character is (insert less than desirable characteristic here)”? They were dull, boring, said and did the same (annoying) thing over and over, not the brightest bulb in the box. Predictable.

*Yawn* Close book, reshelf, DNF (do not finish).

DNF?! As an author, that’s the last thing I want to see happen!

And yet, as a reader I’ve been there. If the character isn’t someone I can root for, or find even remotely interesting, I have a hard time plugging away until THE END. So as a writer, I try to make sure to give my character’s current state of mind sufficient thought. And that state of mind is determined by WHAT SHAPES THEM.

The first item that comes to mind may be their past, and that’d be partially right. Our past most definitely shapes us, and so should it shape our characters. What did their childhood look like? Did they have two, one, or no parents in the mix? Single child, or were they one of a gaggle of siblings? Did they have a creepy next door neighbor who barked at them to stay off their lawn, or sweet grandmotherly type who always invited them in for cookies? Were they the class clown or class nerd? Super jock, or super flop?

Ah, some of you are cringing at the memories, others are reveling the glory days. See? Your childhood shaped you. They should shape our beloved fictional characters, too.

So, what else shapes us, and in turn, our characters?

The present? Again, partially right. The mess that a character is currently facing most definitely shapes their actions, their decisions, their mindset, their mental and physical health, their level of freedom. While the past is an important piece of who a character is, it isn’t the end all, be all. It also doesn’t have to hold them prisoner. Painful as it may be to step out of the shadow of their past, characters written well who choose to grow and stretch toward new hopes and dreams will have devoted readers at their side, cheering them on as they stumble toward a better tomorrow.

Which brings up another piece of what shapes characters: the future. Or, as many of us so often devise, their expectations of how the future should or shouldn’t go. Whether a character is an optimist or a pessimist (or an insistent “realist”), they expect their lives to go a certain way and when it doesn’t, ack! Disaster! As a fiction author, it’s my job NOT to give them what they want. LOL At least, not until they’ve gone on a story-long journey and stretched and grown.

You want a cookie? Nope, that jerk of a coworker snatched it out from under your hand yet again.

Want the cute guy down the street to notice you? Oh, I can do that…but you’re probably not gonna like the scenario (insert evil author laugh here).

Goal setting can be great, but setting ourselves up to always meet them can be detrimental. Because guess what? Life happens, and not all goals/expectations are met. Be prepared for that, and you won’t walk around feeling gipped all the time. Same goes for characters—if they’re all “woe is me” for 200 pages, you’d better darned well believe that book is going in my DNF pile. Just as in real life, fictional beings need to keep their whining to a minimum.

And chew on this: sometimes what we end up with wasn’t what we wanted…but turned out to be something even better. Hmm…

Okay, so we’ve gotten past, present, and future covered. What else shapes a character? Oh, only about a million other things.

 

Location, climate, season, weather, the economy, their finances, employment (or lack thereof), hormones, age, stage in life, major life events…the list goes on and on. And while not all of these defining pieces need to necessarily be put on the page (or put on with great detail), they do need to be in the author’s mind if the character is to jump off the page. Otherwise, they’re just a flat, 2-D character relying on ink to move their story along, not heart.

But pull it all together, and you’ve got a beautiful, believable, relatable character you’re readers can hold near and dear. *starry-eyed sigh*

 

How about you?

Authors—what do you use to shape your fictional darlings?

Readers—what were some of the things that shaped your favorite characters?

Do tell, inquiring minds want to know. 😉

Have a great week, everyone. I’m headed back to the writing cave to keep shaping my current motley crew of characters…

The Good, the Bad, and the Oops Don’t Label It

I’ve been reading a book in between bites of lunch the past week on how to find joy at work. Now, let me pause right here and say I’m not unhappy with my day job–this book was a Christmas gift given to our staff a few years back. Yep, just now getting to it. Have you seen my TBR list?!

Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m not the fastest reader, either. Not a good thing for someone who spends so much time writing and having to re-read and edit their work. But… oops, I did it again:

I labeled something as “good” (or really, in this case, “bad”).

So? Well, this book I’m reading (which I am not going to name, because honestly? I’m not sure I’m fully buying into its message just yet) is pretty upbeat. Like, annoyingly so. Ha, so if you think MY blog is upbeat, this is like taking a bowl of Frosted Flakes and adding a few more cups of sugar to it. Kinda hard to choke down at times.

In all fairness, the first few chapters were easy enough to follow. Trying to see the best in situations, trying not to get too focused on the difficult/petty stuff, cutting people some slack (we don’t know what struggles they’re walking through), yadda yadda yadda. But then the author suggested that we stop labeling life events as good and/or bad aaaaaand they lost me.

No labeling? Ever?

Have to meet with a coworker you can’t stand? Don’t say it’s bad, it just is what it is.

Need a root canal? Don’t label as bad, it could lead to other opportunities.

Car breaks down? Don’t think of it as bad, it’s just how life goes sometimes.

Uh, no. Sorry. Even upbeat me is struggling with this one. Some things in life are really good, and some are really bad, no matter how you spin it.

HOWEVER….

As alien as this concept is, it HAS slowed me from making snap decisions. I’ve been trying to catch myself when I feel a label slipping into my thoughts, and then double-checking it.

IS it horrible that I have to meet w/ a coworker I don’t particularly care for? It doesn’t have to be I suppose. I mean, I could always picture them with a banana sticking out their ear or something to distract myself from overthinking.

A Root Canal?!?!

IS getting a root canal a bad thing? Sorry, I’m still going with hell yes on that one. LOL But it WOULD give me the opportunity to get my nitrous oxide fix, so there is that…

IS my car breaking down a bad thing? Well, let’s just hope it doesn’t. But if it does, please at least let the tow truck guy be cute…

But this works on the little things, too. Here in Indiana, our weather has been nuts all year. Winter forever, spring for like a day, and then wham! summer heat. Now we’re stuck in a monsoon or something. Last weekend, the rain began. And while I love cheering from the soccer sidelines, I’d prefer to do it without juggling umbrellas and rain gear. So when I woke to the sounds of thunder and pouring rain, I groaned (and silently hoped the games would get cancelled … we have a built in rain out date, after all.) Alas, the games were only postponed.

BUT, rather than label the upcoming outing as a bust before I rolled out of bed, I decided to reserve judgment on it. I mean, why waste energy building up this crappy image of how the walk from the car to the sideline will be a sloppy, soggy mess and my shoes will get soaked so maybe I should just wear flip flops but no I shouldn’t do that because it’ll probably rain again and then I won’t be able to run as fast to get back to the car and by then we’ll all be soaked and I’ll need to put a towel down on the seats in the car and oh man, my son’s stinky cleats are really gonna smell now and……..

See how exhausting that negative thinking can be? Instead, I turned my brain off, drank my coffee, got the youngest out the door, and you know what?

The sun came out.

Even better? They won their game.

Now, in my mind, the outcome (sunny day) WAS good. And, being the competitive sort that I am, the win was too. So I’m giving myself a bit of creative interpretation with this book I’m reading to say, if it’s good, it’s okay to acknowledge that. But maybe instead of assuming the worst, or assuming less-than-good, we just … stop assuming. Let what comes our way, come our way. How we choose to react is up to us.

And really, isn’t that the hardest part of all?

Or maybe the hardest part will be me finishing this book, but I’ll give it a try. Who knows, maybe there’s something else tucked away in there that will give me more ah-ha moments. Maybe not. But trust me, I won’t call it good or bad. I’ll just call it done. 😉

Have a great week, everyone, and watch your labels. They just might be causing you more grief than necessary…

I’m Singing in the…Car

Photo by William Christen on Unsplash

Some people were born blessed with amazing singing voices, some can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Me, I’m somewhere in between. That leads to a lot of singing when no one’s around—so I don’t have to watch them cringe—or singing at church because I know there the crowd will drown me out. (Besides, after listening to a number of tone-deaf people there over the years, I’ve decided God must enjoy the discord.)

So, yeah, if you pull up next to me at a red light, my lips are probably moving. Thumbs are probably drumming, too, but that’s a story for another day.

With a 30+ minute drive to and from work each, singing helps pass the time and clear my head as I transition from home to work and vice versa. It also lets me play around with harmony.

Ah, sweet harmony.

See, growing up, I discovered early on that I didn’t have Whitney Houston’s pipes. Nope, my choir teachers quickly pegged me as an alto, and shuffled me over that “that” group. Already being a big of an odd duck out, I just accepted it and moved on. (Except when I was home in my room, where I tried and tried to hit Whitney’s notes… Apologies to my family, I didn’t have a car to hide in back then.) It wasn’t long before I discovered my mom was also an alto, and realized she was singing something other than the main melody at church.

And so the challenge began. Not with my mom, of course, but with trying to feel my way through the harmony.

Honestly, that’s kind of how I look at life—feeling my way through the melodies and harmonies. Just like I don’t have sheet music in front of me for every song that comes on the radio, I also don’t have a roadmap for what lies ahead. I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight / tomorrow / next week / next year, and that’s if I’m even lucky enough to see those dots on the timeline. And though not having a clear view of the future can be entirely frustrating at times, I try to catch myself in those moments and remember to focus on the melodies and harmonies of today.

Not everything is rainbows and unicorns, angelic melodies and tinkling bells. Too much of that, and I think we’d be bored stiff anyway. But add in some harmony, and life takes on a whole new sound. Strike the right balance of melody and harmony, and joy is sure to follow.

Ha, balance. Now there’s a topic for another day…

Happy Tuesday, everyone, and sing away!

Romance Where You Least Expect It

I don’t know about you, but we’re a movie family. When life is spinning a million miles an hour, nothing helps settle us better than the big screen. Or, if we’re home, the much-smaller-than-big-screen living room television. Grab a few blankets, do up the popcorn, and we’re good to go.

This weekend, to break up the monotony of my oldest studying for this week’s finals at school, we were chipping away at the Rocky movies. Admittedly, this all started when my youngest selected trumpet as his band instrument of choice several months ago. And what better trumpet-screaming movie theme song is there than Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now”?

(Yep, you know just sang that in your head…it’s okay, let it run for a few bars…or a few hours. And for the serious trumpet diehards, your mind probably switched straight over to Maynard Ferguson’s version. You’re welcome LOL)

It’s been years since I’ve seen Rocky, so it was fun seeing Philadelphia through Stallone’s eyes. That lead to many questions from my youngest (Why are they setting trash cans on fire, Mom?!) and many “here’s what’s going on” explanations from me. All good, all education on some life-skills level I guess, but then came the lesson I didn’t see coming: the romance.

Yo, Adrian!

Now, this isn’t the first movie that I’d seen as a kid and completely missed the romance in. Sound of Music? Totally a romance. (What?! It’s not just about a gaggle of singing kids?! Nope.) And while Rocky is nothing like Sound of Music, they both highlight a couple who saw past their differences to find the last thing we all expected: love.

I must admit, the romance part was lost on my youngest. He was bored through the kissing face scenes, which I’m sure is how I was at his age. It’s probably why I don’t remember there being a love story in the movies at all. Now that I’m older, though, I’ll admit—I totally swooned in that scene where Rocky takes Adrian back to his place for the first time.

“I wanna kiss ya. You don’t have to kiss me back if ya don’t feel like it.”

And there Adrian is, scared out of her mind, and yet reveling under his attention, his touch. Hell, swoon nothing—I damn near teared up it was so innocent, so intimate.

So real.

Romance is out there, all around us. In today’s crazy, everything at our fingertips, orchestrate the image of our lives through social media posts-kind of world, I worry sometimes that it’s getting lost in the shuffle. How many moments of connection—snuggling, talking, dreams sharing, soul searching—are missed while we’re checking our Facebook feeds, or posting crazy cat pics on Instagram? Actions, remember, speak louder than words (and tweets/posts/chats).

And I’m not just talking bouquets of roses or boxes of chocolates, either. Heck, Adrian didn’t even get a ring when Rocky proposed to her. Did it matter? Did she even bring it up? Nope, because she was too busy reveling in the feeling of being loved. Romance isn’t about things, it’s about feelings. About lifting one another up, making each other feel appreciated, feel loved, when they need it most. About sharing fears because they trust the other person to keep them safe and guide them through life’s struggles.

About growing and cultivating an emotional connection like no other.

As crazy as it may sound, Rocky was a wonderful reminder of what I want to keep weaving into my own stories, the kind of emotional connection between two characters struggling to make something of themselves without losing themselves along the way. Of love, and the romance it inspires.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to prepare for the cold war questions that are sure to accompany Rocky IV. And oh, will the kids be upset when they see what happens to Apollo Creed. But hey, I’ll just point out that he went on to make many more great movies. Happy Gilmore, anyone? 😉

Have a great week everybody, and keep your eye out for romance—you never know when, or where, it’ll appear. Because it’s out there, I know it is.

Grief, Joy, and Perspective

I’ve now attended two funerals this spring, as two dear friends have each lost a parent. It’s heart-wrenching to see them go through the pain of loss, and to know the struggles their loved ones faced as they neared the end. If you’re like me, you wish you could do something, wish you could help take the burden from them, but you can’t. All you can do is be there for them.

And that’s no easy task, either.

As I took a seat in the first funeral, I found myself thinking back to when my father-in-law passed. Admittedly, I was an emotional mess that day, and was so grateful when my young niece crawled into my lap and snuggled in for the duration of the service. She was like my own personal living, breathing teddy bear, there to cling to when the sobbing kicked in. (Sorry, Claire Bear, I know you got a little soggy that day.)

Might be the longest I’ve ever seen her sit still, come to think of it. But, I digress…

Yesterday’s funeral was different as night and day from the one last month. One church was tiny and traditional, the other vast and contemporary. One group gathered was aged, their attendance calm and quiet, the other group younger, the tears and pain more vocal. Yet each served as a reminder to this truth:

Funerals are hard.

I don’t care how well you knew the person, or if you even knew them at all. Funerals are just hard. But in the midst of the grief, of the crying and/or struggling not to cry, there’s a story unraveling in each service. Hopefully, of a life well lived, a family member well and truly loved. One of past joys, and an eternity of them waiting for us.

It’s those stories that offer us peace…and perspective.

Every journey is different, every life uniquely lived. But it’s how those individuals lived their lives that sets an example for the rest of us. After all, actions do speak louder than words.

So as I sat in the service yesterday, in complete awe of the woman we were honoring, I found myself wondering if I was living life right. If I was being the best mom I could be, the best friend or family member I could be. If I was consistently there for the people who needed me most. If my faith and trust in “the big plan” really ran as deep as I’d like to think it did.

Really, I don’t know.

But it’s that perspective, the pause a memorial service brings, that can help us slow down from the rat race of life and reassess. It’s a subtle reminder to be kind, to love those who love us and even those who don’t. To stay true to ourselves, to our morals, to the things we believe in.

To make our lives truly count and set the example for others, just like those who came before us did.

Not everything in life is easy, no one I’ve met ever promised it would be, but there’s always a lesson to be learned along the way. So keep learning, keep loving, and make the most of each day. How better a way to honor loved ones lost, than to do exactly that?

Eight is Great! Isn’t it?!

As I sit at my computer on the eve of book release number eight–after spending 20 minutes fixing the WiFi router update snafu…seriously, who clicks “update” on a night like this?!–instead of looking ahead, I find myself circling back to some of the “truths” I’ve learned along the way. And, as I’m often asked many of the following questions, I figured what the heck, why not share?

Please note: these answers are my own. Every author is different, as are their experiences. Sort of. Not really.

Truth #1: Nothing in this industry happens quickly. In my early days, I would hit “send” on a query letter, or a submission to a publisher, and literally stare at the screen willing a response to pop up. Ah, those were the good old days…(not!) Over time, you learn to click “send” and redirect your energies elsewhere while someone on the other end chooses whether or not to read/respond to your submission. Hopefully, they will. Meanwhile, there’s laundry to be done, dinner to be cooked, kids to annoy cuddle, and a hundred other books waiting to be written.

Truth #2: No, I cannot quit my day job. Will writing every launch me into that blissful worry-free financial atmosphere? One can only hope. Meanwhile, there’s laundry to be done, dinner to be cooked, kids to annoy cuddle, a hundred other books waiting to be written, oh, and a day job to be worked.

Truth #4: Writing allows you to break the rules so long as you make it believable. Probably my favorite of the truths, and why I toggle between contemporary and fantasy romance.

Truth #3: (You didn’t really think I’d shun 3 altogether, did you?) That old saying about needing thick skin if you’re going to be an author? Yep, pretty much true. Some people are better at it than others, and even the ones fairly good at it have their ups and downs. But at the end of the day, you choose what you want to allow to define you. If you let the one not-so-glowing review ruin your day when there’s a dozen much more complimentary ones beside it, well, that’s your choice. Me, I’d rather keep cranking out more books…and shooing the cat off my keyboard.

Truth #5: “Oh, you write romance?” Insert eye roll. Yes, I do. No, it’s not for everyone. No, my books are not 50 shades of anything. Most of my back list is maybe 3 or 4 shades of something at the most. A few go higher. But if you want 50, I’ll point you in that direction. Trust me, I know people. (P.S. I’ve been known to kill off a few people in my novels. Eye roll any harder, and the next one just might be named after you…)

Truth #6: Speaking of knowing people…the online writing community is, for the most part, an absolutely fantastic, supportive group. Yes, there will always be the one or two hooligans who try to tip the apple cart for a bit of publicity (just look at Twitter right now, hashtag Irefusetogivethistopicanyextraattention). But some of my current closest friends are fellow authors, several of which I’ve not met in person, and I don’t know where I’d be today without them.

Truth #7: Writing and working and momming…it ain’t easy. But then, no one ever said it would be. Doesn’t make me want to write any less. And though the kids joke about Mommy going “type, type, type” they still see me plenty. Can’t write when they’re around anyway. (I need quiet! LOL) The truth of the matter is this: if you want to write, you’ll make time. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me over the years, talking about this book they always wanted to write, but who has the time, right? Yes, who indeed? *smh*

Truth #8: Darn near every book title I’ve come up with has gotten axed at some point along the way. And while I understand the marketing behind it, digging back through old files can become quite confusing at times. Redeeming Grace? Sand Dollar Hearts? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wayward Knight?! It’s a good thing I have numbers in front of all those names, or I’d never keep them all straight. So if you’re starting to write a book but hung up on the title. Let it go…let it go…

And because it’s now May 8th (thanks to the router faux pas) and book 8 should be landing in my Kindle any minute, I’ll stop there. Gotta leave more truths for book 9 (due out later this summer) and 10 (fingers crossed that one finds a home soon…it’s a huge fan of Truth #4). Many thanks to all of you, many of which have watched my collection grow from nothing to now. Hopefully, there’ll be many, many more truths and novels to come.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

What Exactly is Exacting?

Many moons ago–8, actually, if memory serves–I went on a daycare field trip with a handful of other crazy enthusiastic parents. Our destination? The Indianapolis Children’s Museum. After more hours of chasing after rambunctious toddlers than my weary brain could count, myself and another mom who’d carpooled together loaded our kiddos in the car and headed for home. Once we’d found our way out of Indy (hey, TG–I bet you don’t get lost down there so much anymore lol) we started talking books. And writing.

And wouldn’t you know it, we both loved to write.

The trip home went way faster than the trip to Indy, TG and I volleying back and forth about our works in progress, my book I was pitching to publishers, her several books that she’d written for pleasure. By the time we made it back into town, we’d become good friends and steadfast writing buddies.

Fast forward several years to where both of us had a few published books under our belts. TG, whom you may have come to know as Anita DeVito, was working on a story that’d clawed its way into her psyche and refused to let go. It had an awesome name, a cool reference to some psychological stuff I was trying to wrap my head around, and her same wit and fantastic collection of supporting characters. What it didn’t have was a romance focus. So what did TG aka Anita do, being her usual self?

She wrote it anyway.

After countless walks together, chatting it up about plot and character behavior, about how the story could end (or not), about how the sequel might go (or not), about how many books there may be in this series (or not), well, there’s a lot I’m not at liberty to tell you. Lol! However, what I can say is this: TG aka Anita is a passionate, brilliant writer who puts her very soul into each and every book. She’s also one of my favorite authors to read. Romance or Thriller, her voice is there, though it may have a darker hue to it in some stories than others.

So if you’re looking for something different. Something…fresh and maybe a little “other side of the tracks”, do yourself a favor and check out TG Wolff‘s newly released book EXACTING JUSTICE. It may be her first thriller-type crime novel, but I’m certain it won’t be her last.

How do I know this? I’ve already read the next one…and it’s one helluva ride too.

As for EXACTING’s original title, well, you’ll have to ask TG about that. What happens on author walks, stays on author walks. 😉

Happy reading, everyone.

About EXACTING JUSTICE:

In the war on drugs, a deadly new front has opened…

An unknown killer is waging a war on drugs. The murders are horrendous but with a silver lining—now stop signs are the only objects lingering on corners in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Half the city calls for the police to end the killer’s reign. The other half cheers the killer on, denouncing the tactics but celebrating the progress police haven’t been able to achieve.

The gritty details of Cleveland’s drug underworld are nothing new to Homicide Detective Jesus De La Cruz. Two years earlier, Cruz worked undercover narcotics and was poised for a promotion that would have placed him in a coveted position within the drug organization. The deal went bad. Now he has a new face, a new job, and a new case.

The killer moves through the streets with impunity, identity still unknown. Demands for progress from his superiors, accumulated grief of the victim’s relatives, growing pressure from the public, and elevated stress from his family quietly pull Cruz apart. With no out, the detective moves all in, putting his own head on the line to bait a killer.

You can find all the details and buy links at Down & Out Books.

Spring has Sprung…Maybe

I don’t know where you all are from, but here in NE Indiana, spring has been largely…absent. Tardy. Stubborn as hell to leave winter’s side. This weekend, though, we appear to be turning the proverbial leaf.

And it’s about darned time.

Last night when I found myself with sun, mid-fifties, and a bit of kid-free time, I headed outside to find my zen. Yep, you guessed it – pulling weeds. In this case, rogue grass.

I know some people abhor the idea of sitting/kneeling hunched over for hours on end, ripping plants out of the soil (which, by the way? Here in Indiana, our soil is clay…and not the colorful, fun Play Doh kind, either). But me, I love it. Pulling weeds grounds me, no pun intended. The repetitive motion frees my mind to wander and ponder. Tonight, the pondering centered around, well, grass.

Sort of.

Every spring I head outside and pull grass that has “crossed the line” into my flowerbeds. I have many such beds–some are little islands amid the green of the yard, some snuggled up beside my home’s foundation–but none are immune to the sneaky little blade runners that snake their way under my mulch and stone. When I was younger (and man, do I hate that I’m starting to use that phrase more and more often) it used to frustrate me to no end when I’d see grass pop up where it wasn’t supposed to. I’d go running for my gloves and trowel, and quickly remove the offender and as much of its roots as I could.

And did that diligence keep my flowerbeds pristine and grass free?

Nope.

Grass, it grows. It doesn’t have an agenda. It isn’t sneaky, and really can’t know where my “lines” are. Over time, I’ve come to accept that. If it grows where I don’t want it to, I just remedy that with a bit of elbow grease. Of course, my back doesn’t like that I’m still spending so much time outside yanking grass from the not-so-beloved clay, but when my flowers bloom and the beds’ edges are neat and tidy, the view is worth it.

For a day or two, anyway. You know, before more rogue grass appears where it shouldn’t. 😉

Life’s kind of like that. You have these images in your head of what you want to see, how you expect situations to go or people to act, when really very little of those outside influences are in your control. So rather than curse the speed bumps, you accept them for what they are. Doesn’t mean you can’t do some pruning along the way, but meltdowns simply won’t change a thing.

Dig in, clean up. Reshape, maintain.

Step back.

Enjoy.

Happy spring, everyone.