You don’t realize how much change matters until it happens

I was raised in a small town in South Carolina and have lived in this state all my life. I’ve traveled to other states, seen other places, and come to the conclusion that I’m pretty much a country girl at heart. Most of my favorite cities are southern cities and every time I go above the Mason-Dixon line, I have a good time, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Therefore, knowing that I’ll probably live in the south for the rest of my life I’ve come to just expect certain things.

Such as:

  • People will hug you despite your preference to shake hands. This bothers me, but I deal with it when I meet someone new and they say “We don’t shake hands we hug.” Fine, enter my 3 feet of personal space for a second.
  • College football is the only thing that matters when you live in South Carolina. Not that I care much either way, but just know that when you try to discuss the NFL you’ll get a lot of, “I only follow college sports.”
  • You’ll be asked what church you attend by strangers and new co-workers. Why my religious preference matters to you, I do not know, but, oh well, lets talk about places I can dedicate my Sunday mornings to.

You also get used to other things, such as seeing the confederate flag. It’s on cars, belt buckles, flying in people’s yards, etc. Though a part of my brain understood the flag is a symbol of some people’s heritage, for me it’s always been a sign that the person sporting that flag isn’t to fond of people like me. Maybe because of the KKK rally through my home town when I was younger and they had that flag. Maybe because when I worked the drive through in high school a guy called me a nigger, threw something at the window, and had a flag in his car. Maybe because people tell you about a guy who used to be in the Klan and rode around with a huge flag in the back of his truck, but it’s okay because now he’s not a part of that anymore. Who knows, it could be other things, but I’ll go with that.

So being from the south, seeing it everywhere, and knowing how much of a fight it was just to take the thing off the top of the state house and put it on the grounds, I’d just gotten used to the flag flying at my state capital. I resigned myself to it being there, never going anywhere, and that was just part of the burden of living in, and being from, South Carolina.

Then I hear on the news that the flag is coming down. That the house and senate voted to remove the flag (something I doubted would actually happened) and it’ll be gone by the end of the week. Tears came to my eyes.

Tears?!?

I’m not one who’s prone to tears … except when I’m pregnant, and I’m pretty sure there are no babies growing in this oven.

As I wiped my eyes it struck me that even though I was used to seeing that flag all my life, knowing that the flag would no longer be on the capital grounds of the state I grew up in and live in filled me with hope, pride, joy! I can’t explain the feeling adequately. I don’t know if I ever will, but what I do know is that as of this moment, I am proud to say I’m from South Carolina.

I guess you really don’t realize how much changing the status quo can matter until it actually happens.

What Makes a Guy Attractive

I recently read an article that said a man’s sex appeal increases if he plays the guitar. It quoted studies that show women were more likely to give a man their phone number if he was carrying a guitar case versus a gym bag or nothing at all. The study results were interesting, but not very surprising.

GuitarIt is pretty sexy when a man can play a musical instrument. I don’t think my old band nerd days are the reason I feel comfortable saying this. Just look at all the rock star romances out there, or the tortured hero in a historical romance who handles his frustration by playing the piano. Musicians in romance are cool.

But a man playing a musical instrument isn’t the only thing that increases sex appeal. It’s always sexy when a man is good with his hands (get your mind out of the gutter, lol), but I also think the items below (b/c you know I love a list) also can shoot a man’s sex appeal through the roof.

1. He can fix my car or change a tire. Picture how hot Branson was on Downton Abbey when he was wooing Lady Sybil while working on Lord Grantham’s car.
2. He can cook. The oh so sexy green-eyed chef from the movie Jumping the Broom comes to mind.
3. He’s smart. I mean really smart, like make me go Google something smart. And of course I’m picturing the 10th Doctor when I say this.
4. Power-but not in a skeevy manipulative way. T.I.’s song “You can have whatever you like” comes to mind . To say you want something and it’s immediately delivered. Sexy!
5. Humor, of course. I don’t need a research paper to know that Kevin Hart is cute because he’s so damn funny.
6. Confident without being arrogant. Think of that look Idris Elba gives that says “Yeah I’m sexy, and right now, it’s all focused on you” That’s confidence b/c an insecure man making that look would just be pitiful.
7. Artistic: Again it goes back to being good with your hands. Watching him handle the paint brush and bring life to a canvas is pretty darn sexy. And, “I want to paint you” is a pretty hot pick up line.
8. A good listener. Once, I had a crush on this guy mostly b/c when I talked to him he paid close attention. Eyes on me, questions at appropriate times, and his undivided attention. He wasn’t handsome in the traditional sense (red hair, thin, glasses) but the fact that he listened made him cute .

Where’s 9 and 10? Well, it’s cold and my mind is drawing a blank, so help me out. Give me two more things that make a guy sexy. Or give me a yea or nea to the items I listed.

Gotta Love Those Alpha Males

About a week ago, my hubby did one of his alpha male things.

Scenario: Doorbell rings and off I go to answer. He asks “Who is it?” I reply, “I don’t know. Some dude.”

The dude in question turns out to be one of our neighbors (who I’m ashamed to say I didn’t recognize) letting us know the lights were flashing on my car. Afterwards, my hubby does his alpha thing: “Don’t answer the door to a strange man if I’m not here.” I kind of chuckle and say that’s not really feasible.

Though in my mind I’m picturing going to the door in the future only to be greeted by some crazy guy, and realize that now I’ll probably be hesitate to answer the door for some dude.

This exchange, simple as it was, got me to thinking about independent women and alpha men. I love it when my hubby shows several of his I am man characteristics. I get a thrill when he shows strength. I’m impressed when he does “manly” stuff—seriously, I fell in love the day he changed the alternator on my car. But when his alpha tendencies lean toward giving me direction/advice, even when I know it’s because he’s trying to look out for me, I tend to laugh it off and sometimes ignore. Case in point: I still let the gas light come on my car after he gave a lecture on all the reasons not to do it.

Why do I do this? The same reason the heroines in romance novels ignore it when the hero says “wait right here” women today are raised to be strong, independent, and not to take orders from a man.  We figure we know how to take care of ourselves, and even when the men we love try to give advice, that independent woman nerve jumps up and we’re like “Okay, babe, I won’t let my car get past a half a tank.” All while the gas light is flashing.

And, if by some chance the alpha man in our life is right, it’s all good. He’ll be the first one to run to the rescue when we need a bit of help.

Don’t Grow Old Alone

The fun thing about getting to know a new person, is the possibility that they’ll say something you never expected. Usually, people don’t expect me to say that I write romance novels. And after two years of working hard at this, I’m no longer shy about letting that part of my personality out. Well, the other day I was talking to a male security guard and he said something unexpected.  After I dropped the writer bomb, our conversation went to life and relationships (not surprising), where he admitted to not being the best relationship guy when he was younger. That changed when he met his wife.

Cue the swoon of this romance writer’s heart. Isn’t this what we write about? Reformed rakes and players who give up playing the game? But that wasn’t the unexpected comment. I wasn’t expecting him to say that when his son’s ask for relationship advice tells them to not grow old alone and find a woman that they want to make feel special, secure and safe.

I’d never heard a guy say this before.

Comedians turned relationship experts, and the male bloggers out there dishing out relationship advice do not count.

This was regular guy that isn’t sitting on some sort of platform say something so simple but full of meaning. You know, as a romance writer I like to think that there are still good men out there who are raising other good men. Real life proof that romance novels aren’t full of crap and fantasies.

Do I think that this guy’s sons are perfect romance novel heroes? I don’t know them so I can’t answer. But do I think that these guys have a good chance of being what we write about, a guy willing to give up other women to make one special woman feel special, safe, and secure. Yes.

So, maybe I’m silly for being excited to hear this regular guy say this to me. But it did strike me that it was the first guy who wasn’t my husband say something like this. Proof that some men do want long term relationships. That’s worth highlighting.

When was the last time a surprising conversation?

What’s Going On?

At the SC Book Festival  in May with the lovely, Linda Lovely.

At the SC Book Festival in May with the lovely, Linda Lovely.

I realize my blogging has been sporadic over the past few weeks…uh…months, so I decided to check in and let you all know what I’ve been up to. I think my last check in was at the end of my crazy summer. Well, my hopes for the fall to slow down didn’t turn out the way I thought.

One bit of good news is that I got a new day job. I’m still a local government gal, but I had to pass along my green queen title. The new job will mean a learning curve and tons of new responsibilities, but I’m very excited about the challenge.

Then there’s the kids. I got over zealous and thought I’d sign my 1st grader up for lots of activities. Yeah…a few weeks of that helped me realize that more isn’t always better. So we’ve scaled back the after school stuff and will try to revisit again next year when my hubby finishes school.

Lot's of inspiration at the Carolina Panthers Training Camp ;)

Lot’s of inspiration at the Carolina Panthers Training Camp 😉

Sexy novella idea inspired by my ladies trip to New York.

Sexy novella idea inspired by my ladies trip to New York.

On the writing front, don’t worry I haven’t let that go by the wayside. I’ve been busy working on several projects, plus I’m doing a half-assed attempt at National Novel Writing Month. The original NaNo attempt was to complete a new book in my Henderson Family Series—check out my new Works in Progress Page for more info on that—when an idea for a sexy novella took over. So I put the WIP aside to crank out this 20-30 thousand word novella. I should be able to complete it by the end of the month.

I’m hoping I can have good news for everyone soon. And I’ve got an idea to post chapters from a novella I completed earlier this year here on my blog. But don’t hold me to that. 2014 may hit just as hard as 2013.

This has nothing to do with writing. I just can't believe there are still payphones out there!

This has nothing to do with writing. I just can’t believe there are still payphones out there!

Betrayal…It’s a Bitch

Blue HeartsSometimes in life a person you trust or care about may disappoint you. They may go so far as to outright betray your trust. I recently had a conversation with someone who was betrayed by their best friend. They trusted this person and allowed them into their home, only to have the friend try to sleep with their significant other. To top it off, instead of apologizing, the “friend” insulted them once the betrayal was discovered.

Needless to say these two aren’t friends anymore. I’ve been fortunate with my friends. They’ve all been supportive of me and my relationships. No one has ever betrayed me in this way, at least I don’t know of it. But I have been on that other side. I’m not proud of it, but I did betray a friend once. I was in high school and blame it on the young, dumb, and think I know everything mentality. Still, I regret what I did and I never want to hurt a friend like again.

I guess that’s why I write stories with an element of recovering from betrayal or loss of trust. I’ve lived it, and so many people around me have too. I like to show both sides of a story. Not to justify it, but just shed light that sometimes there’s more to a breaking of trust than meets the eye. It’s one of the reasons I like Shayla from A Heart to Heal so much. At the first glance she seems like a big ole mess, but upon further inspection, you see that she’s got major issues she’s trying to overcome.

Which brings me to my question, do you like stories of healing after a betrayal?

10 Things Worse Than a 1 Star Review

After publication there is this crazy urge to check your sales rankings and reviews daily. It’s an obsession that as an author, I hated to submit to, but couldn’t control. Well, recently I made aen effort to stop. No more checking Amazon ranking every few hours, no trolling for new reviews on all the review sites. Instead I’ve focused on getting back into my writing groove and tackle several outstanding projects.

Going on vacation in the middle of my self imposed hiatus helped tremendously. It’s hard to worry about book sales when you’re in a house with 5 boys under the age of 10.

One thing I learned while taking time away from all this, is that I’ve not only been much happier, but it puts things into perspective. There are things much worse than getting a bad review. For those authors out there who are suffering from the 1 star review blues, giving me the side eye and mumbling “yeah right”,  I’m telling the truth. Here are my top ten things that are worse than a 1 star review.

  1. Hemorrhoids
  2. Cutting your finger while slicing lemons
  3. A gnat flying in your eye
  4. Someone sneezing on your neck
  5. A fly landing on the last bite of a very good meal
  6. A car accident
  7. Going to jail…or prison
  8. Losing your job
  9. Discovering your man is sleeping with your dad
  10. Death

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather get the one star review than any of those above. Now you tell me other things that are worse than a one star review.

If Romance is Smut It’s All Smut

sex symbolsSo the other day another romance author admonished ABC News via Twitter for the headline they placed on an article. The title: Emerging ‘New Adult’ Book Genre Puts Smut Fiction on Bestseller Lists. Although I re-tweeted in support, I got to thinking. (Never a good thing)

If romance novels are smut, then we really need to call out all the other smutty outlets filling our minds with filth!

I mean, when you consider it, smut is EVERYWHERE!

Soap operas: Because really, there’s a lot of hooking up and sexing going on.

Night time dramas: Yep, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal are big culprits. Every time Fitz and Liv get it on in a closet is just filthy (in all honesty the follow up to that scene was wrong)

Sit Coms…sorry, you’re smutty too. Time to stop loving episodes where Penny and Leonard end up in bed. Gah, did we really subject ourselves to the filth that was hoping Eliot and J.D. would finally hook up on Scrubs? Read more of this post

Don’t Hate on Valentine’s Day

I don’t understand why people hate on Valentine’s Day. It’s not one of my favorite holidays, but I rank it far above St. Patrick’s Day (pointless) and would put it in my top 5. It’s one of those occasions that people either love or hate and I think some of that has to do with the person’s relationship status. I will admit the one year I didn’t have a Valentine my best friend and I called it a commercialist pagan holiday. Until the guy I had a crush on called me over to study and I said peace out to my friend and smiled for the rest of the day. Since that year, I have had a Valentine and I will admit that’s probably why I do like the holiday. Read more of this post

Does a Woman’s Number Matter?

Last week I asked what I thought would be a simple question on my Facebook fan page. Single woman, early thirties, has 15 sex partners: realistic, too high, too few? I asked this question because I got married in my mid-twenties and have only slept with one person since then. I wasn’t sure if saying a woman the same age as me with 15 sex partners would be realistic or not. The responses I got was interesting.

Some thought 15 partners was too high and a turn off for a person and/or character. Others said it’s realistic and almost unfortunate that it’s so realistic. One guy said realistic, but he wouldn’t want to be with her. Then I was asked why ask the question at all. Why does a woman’s number matter, and would a man’s?

Even though my question wasn’t asked with that particular thought in mind, I guess I should have expected it to go there. A few weeks ago, there was a post on Dear Author about slut shamming by women of other women in romance novels. It’s as if a woman who has multiple partners is either a slut or an undesirable character. Read more of this post

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