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My interests are varied and I'm likely to write anything from funny to poignant to informational, so my blogs are organized by topic. Just choose your favorite topic on the left. I'd love to hear from you in the comments section or go to Contact and email me privately if you like. Thanks for coming by!page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
4/20/2016 9:46:43 PM
10 Reasons Women Should Listen to Audiobooks
Studies have shown that if you have a job, a husband or a child, your brain needs a vacation every 6 days. If you have all 3, that number drops to every 2 days.
Okay, I made all that up, but I’ve had jobs, husbands and kids, and I think it’s pretty accurate.
Unfortunately, I can’t take a vacation every couple of days, so I take a lot of what I call “brain-cations” with audiobooks and, I have to say, they are the best (non-alcoholic, non-pharmaceutical) attitude adjusters I’ve found.
Here are some times I’ve used audiobooks to keep me from losing my (easily lost) mind.
1. Waiting. I can’t stand it. I’m type A and, if you’re a mom, you can spend all kinds of time waiting in afterschool car lines, sitting at soccer practices, etc. But with audiobooks, you can just stick earbuds in your ears, click the Audible app on your phone, and still appear to be watching little McKenzie kick the ball into the goal. (Or, in my case, watch little Sisi stand waaaay back on the field and never get near the ball, even though she insisted she wanted to be on the team until after I paid for the enrollment, the cleats and the shin guards.)
2. Commuting. When I was a single mom in the middle of a divorce, I ended up teaching English as a Second Language at 2 different schools, one of them way, way across the city. Audiobooks took the stress out of the commute and kept me from thinking about traffic, lawyers, and my angry ex. You really can have a commute that feels like a nice break, instead of a miserable chore. I did.
3. Air travel, road trips. If you have to travel distances to work or fly, audiobooks are awesome! You can plug your phone into the Aux port in your car and be surrounded by the story. Or, on a plane, you can put on your noise-cancelling earphones, close your eyes, and pretend you’re not sandwiched between the snoring business man on your right and the obsessive talker on your left.
4. Loathsome activities. For me, it’s being in the kitchen. In my childhood fantasies, when I grew up, I lived in a huge house alone in L.A., except for a cook/housekeeper I saw occasionally, and I never set foot in the kitchen. As a teenager, I liked to design layouts of my future, quirky house. Looking back, I realize I never included a kitchen in my “blueprints.” Nowadays, when I’m making dinner—which, admittedly, isn’t that often—I find myself getting angry. Yes, angry. I have no explanation for this, but I do have a remedy. Listening to audiobooks keeps me from turning from kindly Dr. Jekyll to “say something about my food and I’ll stick a fork in your eye” Mr. Hyde. Do you have a loathsome activity or is it just me?
5. Exercising. (For some of you, this may come under the last category. Sometimes it does for me.) I’ve listened to audiobooks while running on the treadmill and time passes much more quickly than it does when I’m listening to music, even though I love music.
6. Migraine mode. A lot of women suffer from migraines. These monster headaches leave me almost completely incapacitated, since I’m blinded by light, sick at my stomach, and in terrible pain. Audiobooks actually help distract my brain and give me something to do other than stress about all the things I’m not getting done because I have a freaking migraine!
7. Research and Learning. Whether you want to be more successful at work or learn how to handle personal finances or (like me) keep up with what’s happening in the genre you write in, audiobooks are awesome because you can get your learning done even when you can’t stare into a book.
8. General Type A. As a Type A personality, I constantly feel like I’m wasting time doing things like folding clothes and sorting socks when I should be writing or reading or multi-tasking in some way. Audiobooks can make you feel like you’re multi-tasking and take the annoyance out of mindless chores by engaging your brain in something more interesting.
9. Mood Issues. I don't want to be mean to my family, but sometimes I'm just exhausted and frustrated. I’ve found comedy shows and other fun stuff in audio form, including the great content in the new "Channels" section of Audible. Sometimes, I even listen to certain authors before I start writing to get my brain into a loose, funny mood. If you need a mood boost before facing your boss, your kids or your husband, this way is even faster than pharmaceuticals, and definitely safer than happy hour if you’re driving.
10. Need a reward. Sometimes when the writing is going slowly, I feel frustrated and want to quit for the day (often at 11 a.m.). I tell myself, if I finish writing the scene, I get to listen to an audiobook chapter while I eat lunch. Or, if I’m feeling hermitty and don’t want to leave the house to pick up necessities, I remind myself that while I’m in the car, I get to listen to the audiobooks I’m “reading.” By the way, I can see you right now through your electronic device and you really look like you could use a reward. You deserve it.
(I’m a Type A overachiever. You didn’t really think I could stick to 10 did you?)
11. Validation. Sometimes I just need to hear that other women are having the same thoughts and struggles that I’m having and it’s truly not just me and my character flaws that make life hard. For this, I like books written and performed by female comedians who are often working while wanting to be awesome wives and the best moms ever and feeling they are falling short. Maybe you don't need number 10 because you are soooo organized and awesome and you've got it all together. If so, imagine me sticking my tongue out at you right now. (Ha! It was a raspberry! Got you in the face!)
I guess I can honestly say audiobooks have changed my life. I feel like I get to go on a brain-cation for at least a few minutes every day, stepping into a different place and time without the dangers I’ve often encountered with actual time travel. (Okay, that’s really Claire from Outlander, available in audiobook, by the way.)
If you’ve decided you want to become an Audible member and want to make my audiobook No More Mr. Nice Girl (masterfully acted/narrated by the fabulous Susannah Jones) the first book you choose at Audible.com in the U.S., get my audiobook free. If using Audible.UK.com you can get it free by ciicking here.
I’ll give away as many free codes as Audible gives me. (I have 2 more books coming in May & June.)
To learn other advantages to being an Audible member, like secret sales (Shhh!), go to my Why Audible is Awesome post. I had no idea about all the member advantages until I actually joined, but I’ll gladly spill the beans to you.
3/27/2016 12:33:51 AM
Never Take the Short Cut
So, this is how it happened, from idea to Castle to meltdown to other meltdown:
Several years ago, when I turned onto the "short cut" I was taught to take to Corpus Christi from Houston, I thought about how creepy and desolate the road looked in the dark, the same thought I'd had many times before.
But, this time, I started thinking about how it would suck to have car trouble on that road and be all alone. I'd been reading a funny mystery series by Harley Jane Kozak around this time, so I guess my thoughts wandered off in that direction. I started thinking about other reasons a woman could be on the side of that road and what could happen under those circumstances.
While I was finishing No More Mr. Nice Girl, I kept coming up with ideas for that "short cut" book and making notes about it.
I already knew I didn't want to write a book in which the comedy came from the heroine being stupid and bumbling most of the time and a guy constantly having to rescue her from her silly self (even though I'd enjoyed some series like that). I really like smart people. I want to be around smart people. And I would be spending a lot of time with these characters if I wrote this book.
I also liked the idea of a duo--heroine and hero--with a relationship more like Rick Castle and Kate Beckett have in the TV show Castle. Both are smart in their own ways. Sometimes she rescues him. Sometimes he rescues her. Sometimes they rescue themselves or each other.
By the time No More Mr. Nice Girl came out, I had a bunch of notes and portions of scenes written, so I decided to go ahead and start officially writing my mystery series. (I'm not sure when, exactly, it became a series in my mind, but I actually had notes to go in about 6 different books by then.)
Then, one day, I was working on Dead Men Don't Chew Gum, trying to figure some more details out--unlike romantic comedies, mysteries need things like clues and red herrings and dangerous action--and I asked myself, "What the hell were you thinking? Why would you assume you could write a mystery and then tell everyone you were writing a mystery? What do you know about writing mysteries?????"
Actually, I think this happened several times while I was writing the book, and sometimes the feeling lasted for several days.
Apparently, I worked through it because I sent it out to 3 times as many beta readers as I did my last book, expecting them to find major holes in the story. They didn't. Only a few minor, easily fixable things.
Whew! (A hundred thousands words is a lot for me to keep straight.)
They did tell me it was funny and romantic and the mystery kept them guessing. However, yesterday, while in the middle of writing the 2nd Martin and Owen Mystery--Dead Men Don't Eat Quiche--I freaked out again and asked myself, "What the hell were you thinking? Why would you assume you could write a mystery and then tell everyone you were writing a mystery? What do you know about writing mysteries?????"
But such is the roller coaster confidence of a writer, and today I pulled myself together and got back to work.
Meanwhile, in case you are wondering, here are the answers to some likely questions:
Are these mysteries funny like your romantic comedies?
Yes. My beta readers who have also read my romantic comedies tell me that Dead Men Don't Chew Gum is very funny. My editor claims it's the best book I've written (but I'm not sure she's trustworthy, so you can read the sample to see what you think).
Is there romance?
Yes. But the romance starts in the first book and develops over several books.
Will you write more romantic comedies that are not mysteries?
Yes. In fact, this series has inspired more romantic comedies because there are several secondary characters who I think deserve romances. One appears in Dead Men Don't Chew Gum and others are mentioned but don't appear until the second book. In fact, I count at least 5 characters I already know of from this series that should have their own romantic comedies. One of them will actually meet up with a friend of Dillon's (the one who made him his millions) from No More Mr. Nice Girl. I wonder what you call that. A double-cross-over?
Are you as crazy as some of your characters?
Okay, first, imaginary reader, that was kind of rude. Second, once one is a published author, she gets to be referred to as "quirky" or "eccentric," not "crazy." It's a rule. And, third, yes I'm pretty crazy...um, I mean, quirky.
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Click here to view or buy Dead Men Don't Chew Gum.
1/11/2016 6:07:39 PM
Tacos, Torches, and Trump Has Some 'Splaining to Do
I’ve been unable to travel much the past few years, but now that my migraines are under control, I made a whirlwind trip to Corpus Christi with my daughter and Mr. Nina.
What I learned (or re-learned):
1. Carne guisada tacos are love wrapped in a tortilla.
2. My relatives are still hilarious! Some because they’re witty. Some because they’re characters. Some because they know how to tell a story for the most dramatic and humorous effect. Or maybe they’re all all-of-the-above. It’s hard to be sure with everyone talking at the same time.
3. The torch is being carried on by a new generation. At my daughter’s request, we stopped by to see my cousin’s daughter who shares some of my daughter's interests. We laughed so hard at her story of what she went through to land her husband—if I’d taken notes, I could have had a movie script—we didn’t want to leave and felt like we should have paid a cover charge. (I’d already gotten one thing from her that’s written into my upcoming book: Dead Men Don’t Chew Gum.)
What Mr. Nina learned:
1. He can happily eat Mexican food for every meal.
2. That my family is full of good-hearted people whose jobs and/or spare time often involve helping, teaching, caretaking, and even lifesaving. He was impressed by their huge corazones (hearts).
3. His easy-going stepdaughter who has been his buddy for the past 8 years will turn on him, give him the death stare and speak to him in a tone of voice he’s never heard before if he eats the pan dulce (Mexican pastries) she picked out instead of the ones he chose.
She wanted that empanada, damn it!
What my daughter learned:
She may be capable of violence after all, and if she is, it will be triggered by someone eating her damned pan dulce!
On a side note, Mr. Nina was kind of insulted that there were Mexicans everywhere in Corpus Christi and no one tried to rape him. (Donald Trump really set him up for disappointment on that one.)
All in all, it was whirlwind, but it was fun and maybe a bit inspiring. You never know what nuggets from from real life will turn up in my stories!
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