50 Resolutions in 50 Weeks Before I’m 50: Resolution 1 Update

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I’m a goal fanatic. Give me a goal, I’ll set off on the journey with zeal! So the first resolution was a piece of cake.

Journaling is not hard when there is no word count that I have to meet. So on a few nights, I wrote one or two sentences and put down the pen. I’m trying to write about positive things so I can count my blessings, although occasionally, I’ve written about issues that have come up that I need to work out like staying up way too late and never waking up in time to exercise.

My biggest problem is the anticipation of other resolutions coming up over the next few weeks. If I’m going to force myself to exercise more, I need to rest now. If I’m going to be placing restrictions on my diet, now is the time for ice cream. If I’m going on a tighter budget, I should spend now.

I haven’t decided the content of Week 2’s resolution, but I’ve it narrowed down to a few things that could help me step closer to my zen self. I’ll tell you all on Monday!

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50 Resolutions in 50 Weeks Before I’m 50: Resolution 1

In one year and a few months, I’m turning fifty years old. When I was younger, I’d always envisioned my fifty-year-old self as a wise, organized, completely together woman. Now that the age is closing in on me, I’m not quite where I thought I’d be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m closer to that wise super woman than I’d been at twenty and thirty, but bad habits are still running part of my life like the best friend I’d adored in high school, who was constantly dragging me into fun, but completely destructive directions.

I have just over a year to make myself the person I’d always longed to be. Although a solid New Year’s resolution might be able to help me with my exercise and diet, I need something more drastic. So I’ve decided that I’m taking on a new resolution each week for the next fifty weeks. If it all works out, I’ll hit my second half century as the person I’d always thought I was capable of being. If not, I’ll have to sit back and acknowledge that my previous goal was unachievable and I won’t feel any regrets for at least trying.

I’ve decided the best first resolution is to journal everyday. There have been times in my life where I was successfully writing in a journal every day. That was years ago. I miss the comfort of a daily thought about how my life is going on any set day. So I’ve bought myself a leather journal and am ready to go.

I’ll update you on my progress on Friday. Have a wonderful week!

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Romance Writers Weekly: Story Ideas

This week we’re delving into the origin of story ideas. If you’ve come from Fiona Riplee‘s blog, welcome!

One story idea that came to me as a gift from someone else is the story of Alexandra Northrop from Untrue Colors. She was the reason the book was written.

I had written two books about wealthy sisters who must overcome huge obstacles. When I pitched them to an agent, she told me to add a third sister.  Trilogies sell better. The problem? The books were already written. So I added an estranged sister in Europe. she refuses to come home. The first two books never sold. That left Alex alone in Europe, away from her family. Why?

Untrue Colors was a blast to write: Here’s an excerpt:

Alex sat in her favorite booth in the back corner of the Yellow Dog Pub with a Coke and a cup of pumpkin-and- Gruyère soup and pulled out the book Matisse, Father & Son from her backpack. One of the students she’d met offered to check out books for her from the library, and she devoured every one she could lay her hands on. She’d created a comfortable yet temporary life in Oxford. She dressed as one of the students at the university, lived at a youth hostel, and earned money by helping a pub owner clean up after closing. Still, she felt far from safe.

“Gabe, how’s the soup?” Matt, the owner, asked.

She’d become used to being called Gabe West. Gabrielle, her mother’s name, had been the only name she could think of when she’d arrived in Oxford. West reminded her that her family was across the ocean in Boston. Since moving to

Europe eight years ago, Alex had kept in sporadic contact with her family. Since meeting Luc, she’d had zero. They didn’t need to become mixed up in her problems. Luc was too dangerous.

She took a spoonful and savored the first taste of her main meal for the day. “You outdid yourself.”

“Glad to hear it.” He sat across from her, his wise blue eyes framed by laugh lines. “Listen, love, some bloke has been poking around the local pubs asking about an undocumented French art lover with a pert little nose and an air of desperation. Never did hear you speak anything but English, but thought I’d give you a heads-up.”

Her spoon dropped into the bowl, splashing some soup on the table. She clasped it again as though it was an accident and raised her eyebrows to appear interested in Matthew’s statement, but not too interested. Her body tensed, ready to run away from this sanctuary. Had they found her? 

***

Alex in Paris

Alex in Paris

Continue on to read what Leslie Hachtel found as an idea that eventually came to light and see you next week!!!

 

 

2016 Booksellers’ Best Winner

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I attended the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference last week in San Diego. What a great opportunity to meet with my agent, editors, and my friends. The highlight of the week was learning that my novel “Untrue Colors” won the 2016 Booksellers’ Best Award for Romantic Suspense.

I also did a book signing there with over 400 other authors including many of my favorites. If you are near the Orlando area next July, come on out. It’s such fun and all sales are donated to support literacy.

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Romance Writers Weekly: All in the Name of Research-Locations

Welcome to Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Tour. A.S. Fenichel provided our topic for the week! What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in the name of “researching a book?”

largeI’ve been fairly active all my life. I can ride a horse, shoot a gun, ski down mountains, and have gone scuba diving with sharks. I loved sailing as a kid, prefer hiking outside to the Stairmaster at the gym, and have finished 2 triathlons. I’ve worked on a road crew, as a loader at UPS, as a waitress, at the Massachusetts Statehouse, at the United Nations in Geneva, and in tall skyscrapers for huge corporations. My experiences help me with my writing, but most of them came long before I’d decided to be a writer. I’ve never decided to climb a mountain for a book.

I’m very efficient at computer research, but when it comes to locations, I prefer visiting. There is nothing like taking in not only the sights and sounds of a foreign culture, but also the attitudes of the people. The physical push of a crowd on the Champs Elysee in Paris, the smell of spilled beer at a beer garden in Munich, the style of the people of Tokyo, and the tranquility of the Fiji Islands.

There are very few locations I’ve written about that were not described straight from my memory. One place I never visited, however, is North Korea. My novel True Deceptions has a significant amount of scenes in the countryside there. I do not have a desire to visit North Korea, especially having published a book where businessmen are executed by the North Korean military. My research came from articles, photographs, and a study of Google maps to plan my hero and heroine’s escape.

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The second location I wrote extensively about without having visited was Columbia. I set the location of the third and final novel in the True Lies series on the property of a drug cartel in the Andes Mountains. I researched the area again by Google, but I also found many documentaries about harvesting opium for heroin. The films provided some knowledge of the sights, smells, and dangers of living in such a place.

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Future locations I’d love to visit include China, Russia, and India. I can imagine entirely new environments to explore. New tastes to discover, new sights to see, and new people to understand.

Where would you go if you had the opportunity?

Travel to J.J. Devine http://definingjjdevine.weebly.com/ramblings-of-a-writer to read about her research.