Straight Paths or Squiggly Tracks

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Do you remember the activity books we had as kids for those long car rides? The entertaining devices before video games, cell phones, laptops, and eReaders? The variety of pages had Connect the Dots, Color by Numbers, Find the Item, and Word Searches. Well, my least favorite pages were the ones with three squiggly lines like a big ball of tangled Christmas lights. You had to track each line through the maze a swiggles to find the treasure at the other end. I wanted that straight path to the prize. I thought those tracks needed to be smoothed out, which made more sense to me.

 

I love order. Lists are a joy. They give me purpose. As a planner, my goals were set from an early age…college and career with love and a family in the far distant future…but then I met Kraig (Hizzah!). My life path was starting to look like that activity page. Suddenly my nice straight path started to curve.

Well, I married shortly before I graduated from Nazareth College in Kalamazoo. My husband, Kraig, (Hizzah!) had always been an avid reader. From an early age, he visited the local library often. Reading was a big part of his life.

I didn’t start reading until I married him. In grade school and high school, I read the required books for reports. (Blah!) In college, I concentrated on my text books. (Ugh!) I just didn’t read for the enjoyment of it.

I remember after only a week into our marriage he had picked up his book after dinner and read it on the couch next to me while I watched TV. Every time I tried to talk to him, he’d sigh, set his book on his lap, answer my question, then pick up the book again ignoring me. I thought, “What the hell? I haven’t seen you all day, and you’d rather spend time with your book than with me?” I didn’t get it.

We sat a foot away from each other, but he was in another world. Well, I joined his world by reading his favorite series, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, thus starting my twenty-seven-year love affair with reading. From then on, books became a mainstay … an escape from the bills, the mother-in-law (ooh), and sometimes the husband.

Years later, the kids didn’t need my constant attention. I realized I had a little more time on my hands to read, but I also had an idea for a book. I wondered if I could write a story. I had only written research papers in college. Could I really write an interesting novel? As excited as I was to start, I had my inner critic. “You’re not good enough; you’re not smart enough. You didn’t go to school to be a writer, what makes you think you can do this?” Nudging me to try, Kraig (Hizzah!) helped me squelch that noise in my head.

I loved the process of researching, outlining, and writing. I was a demi-god who could make these characters do anything. (Waahaha) I learned quickly that like my children they didn’t listen. These fictional people were following their own squiggly path.

In my story, Taylor Valentine, who had her life planned out since kindergarten, meets the love of her life (Hizzah!) and her plan crumbles. What’s that adage? Write what you know?

As Taylor learns in Their Rigid Rules, plans are okay as a template, but sometimes you just have to embrace the journey no matter where it takes you because the lessons learned are priceless. My path lead me right here, right now with you. Thanks for stopping by.

Are you looking for a fun summer read? Check out Their Rigid Rules, the 3rd book and prequel in The Chemical Attraction Series. It can be read first or last in the series.

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The Aha Moment

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Even before I started writing, relationships have fascinated me, especially the married ones. I love hearing the How We Met stories. Couples enjoy sharing their unique history. Some say, I knew right away. Others laugh and say, I hated him at first. A husband once told me that he chased after his wife for a year before convincing her he was the one. The stories may seem similar, but none are the same.

Whether you’ve just met or you’ve known each other for years, there’s that single defining moment ─ the Aha Moment ─ when you realize you’re in love with this person. Your perspective suddenly changes, and you think, Why didn’t I see that before? Women have mentioned a small gesture from their one that fills them with pure joy. Warmth washes over you, goose bumps appear from a light touch, or your heart flutters with knowing.

My mom said she knew fifty years ago when my dad placed his hand at her back as they walked along a busy sidewalk. At a dinner party, Kraig held my hand under the table as we ate … an intimate gesture in a crowded room while reassuring me with his smile and dreamy blue eyes. ((sigh)) Oh, um, uh, what was I saying? Oh, yeah.

I think it’s one of the reasons romance novels are extremely popular. Who doesn’t want to feel that newness and excitement of meeting the one? It gives us hope that the unlimited possibilities are out there just waiting to happen to us.

In Their Rigid Rules, Stuart and Taylor share an initial attraction in a lecture hall. As Stuart struggles with his PTSD, he’s drawn to Taylor’s empathetic nature.

In Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction, Joe and Madeline felt an immediate connection at her Aunt Sylvia’s B & B. After a rocky start, they learn that their scars make them who they are and what they love about each other. The healing power of Love is incredibly profound.

Even after ten years of marriage, Matt and Eva Connor, another couple from Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction, are still crazy about each other. Soon, I’ll share their unique history of love, sacrifice, and devotion from their beginning in The Kindred Code.

In The Garden Collection, Brianna and Robert have known each other since childhood. However, they fell in love with the other at different times during their friendship. When Robert saved Brianna from her fifth grade bully, Brianna knew she loved him, but Robert didn’t realize he loved her until she was sixteen.

I truly believe there is nothing ordinary about any relationship. Do you remember that Aha Moment when you knew you found your one? Care to share? Or are you saving it for your own romance novel?

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Review of Eclipse Lake by @MaeClair1

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Eclipse Lake

By Mae Clair

Published: June 21, 2014

 

Blurb

Small towns hold the darkest secrets.

Dane Carlisle returns to his hometown fifteen years after leaving his criminal past behind, hoping to make amends with his estranged brother.

He didn’t count on falling in love with free-spirited nature photographer Ellie Sullivan, or for the discovery of skeletal remains to put him dead center in an unsolved missing person’s case.

Review

As a fan of Mae Clair’s other novels, I was not disappointed with Eclipse Lake. I enjoyed her vivid description of the sleepy town near Eclipse Lake. Although I liked the mystery and suspense, I loved the family dynamic even more. I’m a sappy sucker for a man with a healthy relationship with his son. The funny banter and touching interactions of the Carlisle Clan (Dane, Jesse, & Jonah) made me laugh and cry. Ms. Clair has done a superb job delving deep into the many levels of the Carlisle family. 5-Stars!!

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The Energy of Words and Actions

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Although this memory is dear to me, I debated whether to share it. However, the message outweighs my cringe-worthy embarrassment.

The origin of The Garden Collection has a bit of my own back history. When I was young, my family moved around a lot. Between 2nd and 5th grade, I attended five different schools usually starting in the middle of the year. As hard as it was to make friends, I started to wonder if it was worth trying, especially if we were moving again.

My clothes weren’t fashionable. My pants were a tad too short. My glasses were thick. I was shy and had an overbite … as nerdy as you can get. Surprise! I was picked on constantly.

Well, one day in 5th grade music class, our teacher told everyone to sing and sing loudly. Since I knew the song she played on the piano, I happily complied. By the chorus, not only were twenty students looking at me, the teacher stopped playing and openly mocked me with many of the students joining in. To say I was mortified is an understatement. I just gave the whole class more ammunition against me.

It was then that the popular boy spoke up. “Stop it,” he yelled. “She told us to sing loud.” All I could do was stare at him. That never happened before; the class actually stopped taunting me.

Well, it wasn’t the last time I was teased or bullied. It wasn’t even the last time that day. However, the mental snapshot has always stayed with me when I realized two things in that moment:

1) My feelings weren’t invisible like I thought; and

2) I mattered … to that one person at that particular point in time.

It changed the way I saw myself. He had given me a new confidence, and I built on that.

Well, my family stayed in that school district. He and I graduated from high school together. We didn’t really interact, but at a rural school, everyone knows everyone.

He inspired me to write a story about that moment. It’s not about him or me; it’s about the message that words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime. His certainly had.

I saw him with his daughter a while ago. I told him he inspired the story while his daughter listened. Surprised, he didn’t remember his kindness all those years ago. I didn’t expect him to. As awkward as that conversation was, I’m glad I shared it. His daughter left knowing her dad was my fifth grade hero.

I started to wonder if all those people who impacted my life in a positive way knew that they had. I try to share my appreciation whenever I can because the energy of words and actions affects us ─ good and bad. So, for all of the people who made a difference in your life, make sure you let them know. I guarantee you’ll feel great and it’ll make their day.

Learn more about The Garden Collection here.