Yesterday I celebrated fourteen years of marriage to my husband. Let’s pause and give 3159c98a24f7d326b2779dd10ef3e969thanks that I wasn’t celebrating being married to someone else’s husband. Although, to both be honest, neither he nor I are the same person we were fourteen years ago.

I count that as a blessing.

I know I’ve changed way more than he has. He’s my rock of Gibraltar. My constant. My axis when the rest of the world is a whirling dervish. He keeps me laughing—at the world, at the kiddos, at myself. And, unlike his previous wives, I enjoy our intimacy, which makes him a very satisfied husband. We’re well-suited for each other.

However, the passing stranger might question the strength of our relationship. We don’t hold hands. We don’t play smooch face in public. We don’t go on long walks at the beach and spend hours gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes over candlelit dinners. That’s just not our style. Case in point, the extent of our anniversary celebration yesterday was a brief text conversation:

Me: Looked at the calendar. Happy Anniversary! (smooch)

Him: Yeah, my Outlook reminder popped up. I didn’t get you anything.

Me: Me either. Want me to take out the trash?

Him: Yes, I forgot. (smooch smooch smooch smooch smooch smooch) You know where.

Me: Not sure what you mean. Better show me tonight.

Him: (smiley face)

I know what you’re thinking. As a romance author, I obviously draw from real life experience. And you threw up in your mouth a little, didn’t you? Lol. This is how hubby and I roll, and it works for us. Just like the googely-eye stuff works for other couples.

yoda-happy-anniversary-enjoy-your-day-you-willThat’s the beauty of it. Our “romance” is as unique as we are. Everyone’s “romance” is their own. A neighbor recently told us he and his wife were getting a divorce. “We’ve been growing apart; you probably noticed we don’t hold hands.” Uh, neither do hubby and I, so we don’t judge. My parents used to go out for dates on weekends, complete with my dad driving around the block and ringing the doorbell, corsage in hand. Hubby and I take “date days” to go out for a movie and some afternoon delight while the kids are at school. Some wives get all dolled up with clothes and makeup to feel sexy for their husbands. I know my hubby could care less what I wear, because he knows I’m just going to end up naked in the end.

Does that make us less in love than others? Does that make us less “romantic?” I don’t believe so.

A couple newly in love act and react differently than a couple who have been together for, say, fourteen years. As a romance author, “romance” is different for each of my characters, just as it is in real life. Don’t look at another couple and scoff at how their romance manifests itself, even if that involves googely-eyes. Celebrate love and romance. Celebrate theirs. Celebrate your own.

Speaking of celebrating, I have some smooches to collect. While I’m doing that, enjoy this Flinstone’s clip (when he remembers, hubby sings this to me 😉

https://youtu.be/knp9-GY6fHE

 

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Building my Wealth

Today is a fresh new day after spending my weekend at an author signing event. The logofolks who organized the Louisville Author Event did a fabulous job! As someone who has organized events, I know how much time and attention to detail was required of the Laslie family (Jennifer, Kevin, and even their offspring!), and I appreciated all of their efforts!

An author signing is a rather odd beast, in my opinion. To participate in one is a costly venture. The table fees, the travel, the hotel room if you are too far away to make it a day-trip, the meals—and that’s not even including swag items, raffle items, and even the cost of the books to be sold—they add up quickly. It’s common knowledge that an author rarely recoups their monetary investment.

1434735866394Take my own humble example from this weekend: I sold three books, at a profit of $4 per book. I gave one book away because a kind gentleman noticed my wine glass was empty and brought me another one. I reimbursed a friend $5 for the salad she brought me to munch on in between signing sessions. Not including any of the other things I paid for in order to be at this signing, I netted $3.

Well on my way to being independently wealthy, aren’t I?

But the point of attending an author signing isn’t about recouping costs, breaking even, or even making a profit (well, not for a lot of us, anyway). Participating in an author signing is one of the rare times we authors get to do the thing we love most besides writing: talk about our books and writing with people who also want to talk about books and writing.introvert-affiliate-marketing

It’s our own little Star Trek convention. Instead of Trekkies, we’re… Romancies. We get to geek out on writing with other authors. We get to talk about our books with attendees. We get to celebrate our genre in all its many-faceted glory with writers and readers (and even reader-friends-who-thought-they-were-along-for-the-ride-but-now-see-us-in-a-whole-new-light). And yes, we get to let our figurative hair down, make dirty jokes, dance like no one is watching (although surely someone is videotaping to post to Facebook), and be the persona we imagine ourselves being while we’re sitting in our jammies on our couch and plunking out our stories.

We get to be Cinderella for a day.

Well, at least I did, because I had some awesome shoes on!

The point of an author signing is more than just selling books. It’s more than filling our pocketbook. An author signing is the rare opportunity to fill our soul with the communal joy found in knowing we are among people who “get us.” We “get” each other.

I come away from an author signing with something priceless and precious: more friends who love the romance genre as much as I do!

So, yes, I am well on my way to independent wealth.

It’s Throwback Thursday, and I’m hankering for some of the movies I loved from the 80s. Maybe it’s because I was an impressionable teen and so many of these really hit home. Or maybe I just identified with Molly Ringwold’s typical pouty heroine. Or maybe I’m just sad my subscription to Teen Beat has expired. Regardless, the 80s teen movies had a je ne sais quois which subsequent generations will never fully understand. (“They just don’t understand me!” – said in my best angsty teen voice 😉

Using my all-time favorite, “Sixteen Candles,” as an example, let’s look at some of the things that make the 80s what they were. I stumbled upon an article on VH1.com which also talks about this movie, and brings up some interesting points. Click here for that article, or just read on for my own take:

  1. 80s teen movies seemed more real life. Teen movies from the 90s and on just seem 511b6d80ac6e6ecbe6b1914b0209938d_sixteen-candles-meme-memesuper-sixteen-candles-meme_600-390more… polished. Not that they are any more professional in their creation, but the characters in them seem more Hollywoodized (yep, that’s a word… in my book anyway). Characters from the 80s teen movies look like the director told the actors, “You know, just…wear whatever’s in your closet.” Their closet could have been my closet!
  2. It wasn’t just the pretty people versus the ugly. Or the cool versus the uncool. Rich versus poor. They all had characteristics I could relate to, even if I would not have been counted amongst their circle of friends in real life. And, if the 80s were really like the teen-parents-are-out-let’s-party scene from “Sixteen Candles,” then pretty much anyone could hang out without getting hassled or mocked. Just don’t knock over their beer can tower.
  3. They lacked the witty/sarcastic quip. So much of television today, especially teen-driven shows, rely on heavy sarcasm, the quick quip, the spoken “gotcha.” The adult figures in the 80s were not made to look like doofuses… even if they had their faults. The crises situations felt real, not overly exaggerated.

sixteen-candles-fist-t-shirt-hr-e1344841350112O.M.G. I just became that person, didn’t I? That person who thinks the things from their generation are so much better, interesting, meaningful, etc. I’m not saying teen movies since then aren’t good or funny or meaningful (hello, “Clueless” and “Super Bad”!), I’m just comparing, and finding that those 80s movies still have merit.

And not every child of the 80s feels the same way… my hubby has never even seen “Sixteen Candles” (gasp!) and prefers “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (which I didn’t even see until we’d been married for years). And I’ll be honest, a lot of the 80s fashion is something we’d all like to forget about. But then again, it sure makes for some funny memes!

Name some of your favorite 80s teen movies.

Unlike Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, my contemplation of housework usually results in a swift “not to ji829hxs564dda1e7c693147441587clean.” After all, I detest housework. Don’t get me wrong… I love a clean house. I just don’t like the thankless task of making it so.

However, with my new role of “unemployed,” I have lots more time available, and confess the thought of giving my house a thorough cleaning has crossed my mind. In a moment of temporary insanity, I even claimed “Clean the House” would be one of the first things I tackled.

Bless his heart, my husband kept a straight face and did not laugh.

Fortunately, he hasn’t held me to that promise. He doesn’t have to. The Springtime ant invasion—exacerbated by all the recent rain—has forced my hand.

2551510d7f3cee8f73a03d3d81ced3e3This weekend, I found myself in my shower, throwing Ajax against the walls like it was holy water, yelling “the power of Christ compels you” at the soap scum. A few hours later, the smell of Clorox and cleaner up to my elbows and a sheen of perspiration on my brow, my house was clean. I’d successfully exorcised the demons and dirt—and hopefully the damn ants—from my home.

What a sense of accomplishment! Not unlike overcoming some huge obstacle you’d prefer to simply ignore and hope it would go away. Nope, I took on that big ugly obstacle, slathered it with 409, and came out on the other side with a house as pure as these tired fingers could make it. I breathed in the fresh scent of Windex. I gazed in pride at the spotless rooms.

Then my husband walked in from cutting the grass and tinkering in the garage… and headed straight for the shower to “wash off the grime.”

Sigh.

Choices, Choices…

This is how my job search seems to be going…

Not sure that my potential employers are bare-assed Roman soldiers, and I’m no Vestal Virgin. But you get the idea. Looking through LinkedIn and a state-based job search engine, the choices are overwhelming! So many great jobs out there, I can barely narrow my search down. It’s truly an orgy of job applications and resume uploads!

Whew! I’m already spent 🙂

Come What May…

Road 2Last Friday was my last day of employment with the company I’d worked at for 18 years. A company merger resulted in the downsizing of my position, and today I find myself unemployed for really the first time in my life since graduation. It is a strange feeling. Part lost. Part sad. Part fearful. Even part excited.

While I would have been perfectly happy to continue working for that company, this forces me to contemplate the many possibilities which have been previously unavailable (or at the very least, way off on the sidelines of my busy life). People have asked me what I am going to do, and I feel like a kid in a candy store being asked to choose one scrumptious morsel.

I can’t decide.

Therein lies most of the excitement and fear. I’m giddy with options and terrified I’ll pick the wrong one. Being forced to re-do my resume after all these years—last time I job-searched, social media and blogging didn’t even exist…nor did many of the individuals who are also job-searching!—was an epiphany of sorts. I see on paper the many skills I’ve honed over the years and the many significant project I’ve handled successfully. It’s empowering to see it, and I can’t help but preen a little at just how much of an asset I am for a potential employer.

So I’m not afraid to tackle my impending job search. Neither am I afraid of where this unknown and unclear path of unemployment will lead. On this, the first day of the new month, I embrace my new adventure. Because, come what may, I know I’ll be fine.

My Life as Bacon

It’s no secret that I love me some bacon. And as I was preparing some Breakfast Heaven IMG_1113 (2)the other day, it occurred to me that bacon has more than a passing parallel with my life.

I, too, began as a slab of meat. Slightly processed yet still raw and unsavory, though full of potential. And let’s not even mention the distasteful pockets of fat.

But throw me on the hot skillet of Life, and it changes me. I become crisp, flavorful, and a little salty. I can stand firm on my own yet I’m still flexible. And those pockets of fat?… They make men salivate.

I hope my writing can also be a slice of bacon. While my initial attempts were limp and flabby, under the intense heat of scrutiny and editing and challenging myself to improve, it will become crisp and mouth-IMG_1114watering. Readers will want to chew on my stories, savoring my characters and extracting every bit of nuance and humor and thrill. I will become trendy and the world will clamor for more of me and panic at the possible threat of an “Ava shortage” –

Ooookay, maybe that’s taking it a bit too far, though I can’t deny it would be fun. Even if my life and my writing never become more than my own personal slice of savory heaven, I’m glad to have taken this journey.

A Long Time Ago…

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… A young girl sat in a dark theatre, spellbound by “Star Wars IV, A New Hope.”

With one slash of a lightsaber, I was hooked, my life forever changed. I fell in love with science fiction and fantasy—the boundless possibilities these imagined worlds opened up for a little Midwestern girl—and thought Han Solo dreamy in a scruffy-looking-nerf-herders kind of way.

I became an official “geek,” and have never looked back.BBj9prq (2)

A few (*cough*cough*) years later, I create my own new worlds through romance writing. To try and capture the awe and inspiration I felt as that young girl in the dark theatre (and that belly-butterfly feeling when Han Solo smiled), and share it with my readers.

So, as I weave my intergalactic tales, in a Star-Wars-meets-Firefly-without-Jar-Jar-Binks-and-with-a-LOT-more-sex kind of style, it’s my hope readers will experience the same profound elation I do when I enjoy a good tale of science fiction. And, when I craft my contemporary stories centered around the world of wine and spirits (yep, got a bunch of those percolating in my brain, thanks to my other passion), it’s my hope readers will glean some knowledge and enthusiasm about a world here on earth that often seems like an alien galaxy far, far away.

Or… If the only thing readers get from my books is a few hours to escape from reality and go on a fun, funny, emotionally-satisfying, romantic jaunt through space and alcoholic beverages…Well, I still consider that mission-accomplished!

Cheers!