Resolution: Keeping Sane When Everything Falls Apart.

New Orleans in 2005 and 2015

New Orleans in 2005 and 2015

So everything fell to sh*t last week. I made a stupid assumption that if I worked hard, I could control the outcomes in my legal practice, my writing career, my family life. NOT TRUE.

I’m not God. I’m pretty much on this rollercoaster called life and am unable to stop the worst of life from destroying people I truly care about, the work I give my heart to complete, the relationships I think I have a grasp on. As I struggled with one disaster, another bit me in the ass. At one point, on a plane to New Orleans where I was supposed to enjoy a carefree weekend, I scrambled to make something work out, to fix one of the tragedies that was beating me down. I couldn’t bring anyone back from the dead, but I could resurrect my story, and I could tighten the bonds with the one person who matters more to me than anything. The plane hit the tarmac as I tried to pull a brilliant idea from my exhausted and emotionally void brain. I fell asleep in a hotel and woke with no motivation, not ambition.

Instead, I roamed the streets of the city alone for two days. Drinking coffee, watching the city that had been completed devastated resonating with life. Tourists walked through the French Quarter headed for beignets and coffee as though nothing had ever interrupted life here. Yet this city had gone through a hardship of biblical proportions. Hard work and faith brought the city back from complete destruction (only 15% of the city was inhabitable at the end of the Katrina). Time had also healed many of its wounds.

Did I have time? Had I already used up too much of it chasing the wrong dreams? Had my priorities become so twisted that what really mattered in life had fallen from my radar screen? Suffice to say, I was unsure whether to head back to bed and hide under the covers or dive into a mountain of work to fix whatever was wrong in my life.

What pulled me out of my funk? Hours on the phone with my girlfriends from every corner of the country and a few hours at a coffee shop with one of the dearest of writer friends.

Now that I’ve had time to think about all that life has thrown at me, I’m ready to accept my limited role in things that happen and move on. I can’t change the past, but I can learn from it.

I’m headed back to work this work with thicker skin, a refusal to back down from challenges, and the love of an army of friends who have my back and my heart.

I care about the braided life I’ve created with law, writing, and family, and I do make a difference in the world. I just can’t guarantee all HEAs in life, although maybe I can in my stories.

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.

New Jersey Romance Writers Conference 2013, Part 2

One of the best reasons for going to writers conferences is meeting some of my favorite authors. At this conference, I was honored to speak with Eloisa James, Jane Porter, Terri Brisbin, Rebecca York and Kathy Kulig.

These women are not only amazing writers, they are amazing people. Perhaps that’s what makes them amazing writers.

I love my job!

-Veronica

With Eloisa James

With Eloisa James

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With Jane Porter

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With Rebecca York

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Kathy Kulig

SEALS ON CAPE COD

by Veronica Forand

This is a picture of a seal. Actually, it’s an attempt by me to immortalize the seal in a photograph. I failed. Seals are tricky. They evade the camera as much as they evade capture from the great white sharks circling the area.

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I stayed calm and waited for the exact right moment.  Patience is my middle name, after Delusional and Quirky. The dark blob of the ocean floated toward the boat. And I waited. The seal lifted his head above the water, winked, and then descended before I had a chance to shoot it. IPhones are not made for action shots. IMG_0406

Everyone else on the boat returned to their seats. Not me. I stayed in the bow and watched, waited, swore a few times, and kept tapping the screen of my phone to prevent it from shutting down.

“Come on you slippery little mammal. One shot. Is that so much to ask?”

The boat started motoring away and I dropped my head in defeat, wiping a tear from my eye. On the horizon, the floating rodent popped up and, if the engine on the boat hadn’t created background noise, I would have heard the seal’s laughter.

But I had the last laugh. I hit the camera button and shot the mocking beast.

Don’t mess with me. I always get my man (or seal).

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Next time, I’m taking a video. They can’t hold their breath forever.