Friday, January 31, 2014
Ron was feeling confined and kind of blue today, so we got to talking about funny things that have happened. He reminded me of an incident years ago that had the neighborhood talking for weeks. It even made an old Harlequin Newsletter when I was invited to share an example of how art imitates life - or, in my case, life imitates art.
I've never been petite, but in my forties and fifties, I was a formidable woman. Our children were all on their own, Ron was taking a print-making class at the college, and I was about to head to town to have my keyboard fixed. (Yes, it was that long ago that we still fixed them because they were pricier than they are now.) It was raining, I was going to walk to town, so I put on my raincoat and took my wallet and keys out of my purse to put them in my pocket so I had less to carry. Well - those of you who have cats will understand this - one cat wanted in, one cat wanted out - and when I finally left, I had the keyboard, my wallet, but no keys.
I didn't realize I was keyless until I got back home and couldn't get into the house. Two of my neighbors have copies of our keys, but neither was home. Ron wouldn't be home for two hours (still no cell phones in common use yet) and there was not a window unlocked. What to do?
I wandered around the outside of the house, thinking. What would one of my heroines do? Then I noticed the dog door on the back porch. Ah, hah! One of my recent heroines couldn't reach her grandfather and saw through the window that he'd collapsed. She gained entry through the dog door.
It did occur to me that my heroine was a size 6 and I wasn't. But the dog door was purchased to accommodate a Golden Retriever - not the biggest dog, but good-sized. And it was either go in through the dog door, or wait two hours for Ron on a rainy front porch. I got on my knees.
The dog door was placed about six inches off the floor because the dog had long legs. I should also mention that the year after this event, I had breast reduction surgery - and lost 4.8 pounds. Okay. I pushed my way in. With a little wriggling, I had the upper body through! I was excited, telling myself the worst was over, this was going to work!
Until my hips got stuck. I tried to think small and force myself forward. Not happening. Finally deciding that positive thinking wasn't going to get me inside, I tried to back out. But I couldn't. I tried to push forward, to wriggle back. Nothing. I was well and truly stuck. I could imagine my neighbor across the back yard calling the police to report something strange protruding from the Jensens' back door.
With my knees on the back porch, and my hands on the floor of my kitchen, I was determined to remain calm and think. Then I heard Amber, the Golden Retriever, awake from her 'nobody's home' slumber at the sound of something in the kitchen. She was the dearest, sweetest, gentlest dog - unless she encountered a threat to her family, then she became Cujo. I could hear her running down the stairs, a deep growl in her throat - Thrump! Thrump! Thrump! Grrrrr!
My biggest fear was that I could be eaten up to my elbows before she realized it was me. So, as she raced toward me, I shouted, "Amber! Hi, Amber! It's Mom!"
Thrumping! Grrrrring! "Amber! It's Mommy!"
She raced across the floor, skidded on the tile and came flying toward me. I braced myself for the worst. But she stopped an inch from my face, looked at me in confusion, the recognizing me, slurped my face once, then went to her food bowl.
Great. I made a mental note to attach a key to her collar, should this ever happen again.
Now really uncomfortable and anxious to get my knees and my hands in the same room, I craned my neck far enough to see the bolt on the door. Mercifully, it wasn't a lock that had to be turned, but a bolt that just had to be slapped open if I could . . .just . . .turn. . . . sideways . . . I did. I slapped the bolt. The door opened a few inches and I crawled with it, still stuck, only one hand now on the floor because I'd turned sideways to reach the bolt. I don't think any device used during the Inquisition could have inflicted as much pain.
Finally, I was able to back out of the door. I sat on my knees on the back porch for a few minutes, wondering if all that had really just happened. It had. I had the abrasions on my sides to prove it for a good long time.
Moral of the story : If you lock yourself out of the house, wait for someone with a key, even if it's raining.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I don't think I've ever looked forward more to the first day of Spring than this year. There's only 49 more days until we reach March 20th, and it couldn't come any sooner!
The warm touch of the sun as it beats down on gardens starting to show signs of life. The scent of dirt after a Spring rain. The chirp of birds in the morning. The first pale green blades of grass pushing up on the lawn. I'm looking forward to all of these.
The poets often wrote about Spring. It's a season of rebirth and renewal. Of hope and resurrection. A young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love. We move from gray, cold days to those filled with bright warmth. While April may have their showers, we know that the pay off is the beautiful flowers in our gardens when we head into May.
So yes, I'm looking forward to Spring. While the colder weather has given me more opportunities to stay inside and enjoy my favorite books, I'm ready to trade in my winter coat for my jean jacket. I'll even welcome the Spring rain if only to splash through the puddles.
What are you looking forward to?
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Monday, January 27, 2014
Friday, January 24, 2014
Thursday, January 23, 2014
2. If you answered YES to both questions, then it's time to reach out. Be sure to keep your initial contact light and casual. Don't put pressure on him and, most importantly, on yourself. Leave a Facebook message such as, "It was great to see your name on Facebook! How are you?" The way he responds will give you a lot of clues on whether or not to go forward. If his answer is short, like, "I'm good. Hope everything's well with you." That's not a good sign. Ideally, he'll ask you questions about yourself and sound enthusiastic to have heard from you. If so, that's your signal to take things a step further.
4. All systems go? Time to suggest a low-key meet-up like going out for coffee or something neutral. You don't want to put too much of yourself out there until you are sure he's interest in a renewing his romance with you. Another idea would be to suggest a restaurant you both enjoyed, an art gallery you used to frequent, an activity, like biking or skiing, you both enjoyed. Going back to places that hold good memories will remind him of the great times you had together and rekindle old feelings.
6. Don't get carried away yet! Think about why things didn't work out the first time and look for signs that things will be different now. If you broke up because he spent too much time partying, notice how he acts when you're out. Pay attention to how much he drinks. How much does he talk about going out? The bad habits and routines that drove you apart should be done to make this retro romance a lasting one. Take things slow and most of all, trust your gut.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I never told many people (I guess I'm telling a whole bunch now lol), but I had surgery a few weeks ago-nothing serious, just an outpatient procedure-and for the first time in my life I was on drugs-a lot of drugs lol as they prepared me to be wheeled into the operation room. Let me just say here that I usually take nothing-no vitamins, no regular medication, a Tylenol for a headache maybe once every two months, that's it, so the meds they injected into my I.V. hit me hard.
And in my silly, confused, VERY relaxed state I realized two things about myself-One-I talk way too much and Two-I married the most romantic man in the world. Here's how it happened-the realization I mean...
Once the drugs started kicking in, my nervousness about going under for the first time disappeared completely, they could have told me they were about to remove a leg and I would have helped them do it. So, of course, I start talking-mostly about all of you lol. I bragged about Heartwarming and how wonderful the books are, I was Amy and Rula's personal publicist as I made each of the nurses promise to buy a copy of your books this month, and I talked about how much I love LOVE.
One of the nurses turned to my husband and said-Wow, you must be quite the romantic if you're married to a romance writer. And she asked me-Is he the inspiration for your books?
Immediately I laughed and said-Are you kidding-this guy is the world's most unromantic man. (Debbie Macomber claims to have him, but really I do).
She said-What? You mean you don't run her a bath and leave rose petals on the floor as a trail?
He said-Nope, I'm the guy with the vacuum cleaning up the mess.
And right then in my fuzzy state-I realized just how wrong I am when I say he is not romantic.
He may never have given me flowers or candy or stuffed animals that would have found their way to a garbage can anyway...His wedding proposal was as practical as it can get-'We're here at Tiffany's in Las Vegas, we may as well just buy the ring now. Just keep it on and I'll pay for it.' And he doesn't interrupt his super stressful, busy workday to call me just to hear my voice...
He does so much more! He believes in my writing ability much more than I do, allowing me the option to stay at home and write if I choose. He bought every superhero costume available in kid size and adult size so he can dress up like superheroes to play with our son. A work-aholic when we met, he no longer works past five so he can be home for dinner with his family. And when a plot idea comes to me as I'm dozing off and too lazy to get up to write it down, he does! You really can't get much more romantic than that.
That's when I also realized that the heroes in my books ARE inspired by him. For whatever reason-readers are loving Luke Dawson-the hero in The Trouble With Mistletoe and now I realize why-like my husband-Luke has an undying love for the heroine, one that never falters or fades, despite the crap she puts him through and he shows it in deep and meaningful ways. I never consciously modeled him after my husband, but now I know why I love both of them so much:)
Our one year anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks, I guess that's why I've had all of this on my mind...thanks for letting me indulge:) Sorry for babbling on and on...maybe those drugs haven't quite worn off yet lol.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Sunday was church. My son had a lesson about Adam and Eve in his third grade classroom. Adam and Eve gets taught a lot so it's rare for my son to reflect on his lesson. Sunday, however, a plot line caught Mike's attention. In a way, for Mike, Adam and Eve became Rose and Jack (I wanted to turn the conversation to Noah, because surely I could do a comparison with Jack and Rose and Noah and Mrs. Noah, but I don't DON'T wanted to picture Leonardo as Noah. Kate as Mrs. Noah is fine with me, but Leonardo...no no no.)
Back on topic.
My son asks as we're driving home, "Mom, if Adam and Eve hadn't sinned, would we be naked today?"
This is what I get for telling him to LISTEN in class.
"Ah, maybe." (Bad visual)
He's not done. "Mom, if Adam and Eve hadn't sinned would all the people on the Titanic have been naked when the ship went down?" (Hmmm, a remake of the Titanic with a Hair component. One word: ICK.)
So, yes, you can someday expect this conversation to appear in a book by Pamela Tracy.
And just in case you needed one more chuckle. My son got a lego Bible for Christmas (Really someone has taken the Bible and illustrated the stories with lego characters.) He's flipping through it and comes to a photo of a lego man laying on the ground with another man standing over him holding a sword. My eight-year-old carefully sounds out the word under the photo: cir cum cise.
He looks up at me, points, and says, "Mom, this is just wrong."
What new and improved plot ideas did or do or will your kids give you."
Monday, January 20, 2014
Me, to Flynn from Summer Kisses: What's up with your hair? Shoulder length? Baseball cap? Do you have dandruff? Enough with the hat already - it's been two books now. Let's give it to someone.
Flynn: Don't. I look like my dad and I don't like it.
Me: Lots of people look like their parents -
Flynn: He went to prison for robbing a bank.
Me: Forgiveness, Flynn. That was a long time ago. Kathryn (my editor) doesn't like clichéd grudges.
I won't tell you what he said to that, but I was a bit shocked. It was one of those I'm in the writing zone moments that you wish came more often. That's when characters come alive.
Me: Flynn, talk about your holiday and any new year resolutions you made.
Flynn: I stayed in Harmony Valley. I know, weird for a bachelor to stay in a town where nearly everyone is over the age of 65. Someday soon, I'm going to get a life and see the world. But for now I like it here. And, of course, I live with my Grandpa Ed, who's slowing down and needs some help. He raised me after my dad...
Me (jumping in quickly): Readers may not realize you scored a big pay day selling a farming app. What've you been doing with your days now that you don't have to worry about money?
Flynn: I've become the town handyman (shhh, don't tell my college professors). I don't get paid and I don't usually charge anyone for materials either.
Me: I'm so proud. Talk more about your work about town. What's the oddest fix-it job you've had?
Flynn: It's a toss-up between adjusting Mr. Mionetti's TV antennae so he can watch Dancing With the Stars - how old school is that? - and repairing Roxie's chicken coop. Those hens are escape artists!
Me: You and Grandpa Ed have been trying to attract more people and businesses to Harmony Valley. What's your pitch?
Flynn: Besides being able to walk to work and a zero crime rate? You can be yourself here and celebrate life. We've got retired race car drivers and Broadway chorus girls, ex-spy masters and retired sailing captains. Life here goes no faster than Grandpa Ed in his walker, but where else can you find a beer belly serenade during Indian summer? Or pumpkin bowling to award the Harvest Queen crown? I may want to see the world, but I know for certain I'm coming back here to stay!
And there you have it - my constantly smiling, Heartwarming February hero. My thanks to Flynn for stopping by today (he talked to me in between plugging a leak in Agnes' bird bath and fixing a leaky faucet at Mae's house). What do you think? Is Flynn living in my basement? Or is it "the girls"?
Saturday, January 18, 2014
So, Amy, where did you get the idea for this novel?
Tell us briefly about "The Call!"
I was standing outside of Panera Bread with my daughter, waiting for my mother, who was meeting us for a girls only lunch. My youngest son had just called me from home, already wondering when we were going to be back because he was bored. In the middle of that lovely conversation, my mom showed up and Victoria called almost simultaneously. I told my son to go bother his brother and took Victoria's call. There was some jumping up and down (much to the embarrassment of my daughter) and lots of gesturing to my mom so she knew to whom I was talking. It was pretty much the best phone call I ever received, especially because my mom was there and she has truly been my biggest supporter in all this.
In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?
How long did it take you to write?
What is your favorite scene?
Who was your favorite character and why?
It's a tie between Big D and Mimi, Summer's grandparents. I love her grandfather's quiet, gentle demeanor. He is both wise and loving. Mimi is sort of this strange mix of my grandmothers and my husband's grandmother. She loves to tease Summer, but there isn't anything she wouldn't do for her granddaughter. Mimi and Travis have similar arcs in this story. They both love Summer but to be worthy of her love, they have to let her go.
What do you plan to work on next?
I am working on a three book series featuring three sisters. Each sister gets her own love story. I don't know how much to say, but I plan to tug on lots of heartstrings and all three books may require a tissue warning. The first one is tentatively titled, THE BETTER MAN, and centers on a young widow and her son, who happens to be a selective mute since his father passed away. As a social worker in my other life, I have seen the struggles both parent and child go through when there is an anxiety disorder such as this one. I can't wait to get them all written and out there for public consumption!
What are you reading for pleasure right now?
Friday, January 17, 2014
It's said that the verses below were written on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, India and widely attributed to her. They seem, though, to be based on a composition originally written by Dr. Kent Keith, a dynamic speaker and writer whose mission is to help people find personal meaning in a crazy world. Mother Teresa appears to have rewritten the second half of the verses in a spiritual way. I'm presenting both because their generosity is amazing, and good models for all of us.
MOTHER TERESA'S -
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
DR. KENT KEITH'S 'The Paradoxical Commandments'
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Thing big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Today our ‘contestants’ are Amy and Rula. The Weather Girl and The Promise of Rain. A fated match if there ever was one :).
All you have to do is guess which of the following statement are true for Rula, Amy or both. Leave a comment listing the statement # and your answers in order. Later this evening, the correct answers (and winner) will be posted in the comments. The person who guesses the most correct answers will win one copy each book—The Weather Girl by Amy Vastine and The Promise of Rain by Rula Sinara—plus bookmarks! If multiple people tie, they will be pooled in a random drawing of one winner.
1. Had an umbrella hanging on her Christmas tree this year...just in case the forecast promised rain.
2. Loves rainy weather.
3. Has a large collection of monkeys.
4. Once performed modified CPR on a frog drowning in her pool. Frog lived.
5. Has an obsession with Tupperware and Office supplies. Organization rocks!
6. Hates the smell of scented candles and crayons.
7. Loves weather and natural disaster movies like Twister.
8. Her heroine is always looking for an adrenaline rush.
9. One of her characters was orphaned.
10. Two of her children were born on the same day four years apart.
11. Has never bought an umbrella.
12. Has visited seven countries.
13. Her favorite season is spring.
14. Has scratched a rhino behind the ear to keep him relaxed.
15. Her debut book includes a helicopter flight.
16. Her debut book includes a hot air balloon ride.
17. Her heroine takes bucket showers.
18. Celebrated the first day of 2014 with a debut Harlequin Heartwarming!
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
|My first music crush|
I tend to listen to music when I write. Maroon 5 has helped improve my mood when suffering from some terrible writer's block, and the song "Lunatic" by Andy Grammer was my theme song while writing The Weather Girl.
Sometimes a song gives me an idea and sometimes I hear that perfect song that matches what I already have written down. I love creating a playlist for my stories. The Weather Girl didn't have any musical inspiration, but it does have its own soundtrack. Of course, there are lots of weather-related songs out there that make the cut simply because they have a weather theme. "After the Storm" by Mumford and Sons. I love, love, love "Rainy Zurich" by The Fray. But my favorite is "Brighter Than the Sun" by Colbie Caillat. It would definitely be Travis and Summer's song!
A good song can bring a scene to life in a writer's mind. It can set the tone for the book or create the perfect mood for writing in general. I am currently hooked on the song, "Say Something" by A Great Big World. It is the song for a new story I am getting ready to write. Every time I hear it, I picture a pivotal scene playing out like a movie in my head with this song playing in the background. It makes me that much more excited to write it!
Do you have a song that reminds you of a certain stories? Share your music inspirations with us!