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“I’m not reading any more romance novels!”

So I declared to my husband, after I disgustfully (if that wasn’t a word, it is now) quit reading a romance novel about 70% through.

I added, “And I’m done writing romance novels!” On top of getting frustrated with other authors’ books, I’d been struggling to rewrite my own romance novel, and continuing to hit brick walls.

A day of thought later, I realized that I didn’t really mean what I’d said. Not completely. I meant, there is a type of romance novel I no longer wanted to read or write.

You might be thinking, “What do you mean? Romance is romance. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. That’s the formula romance authors have always used, and will use until the end of time.”

No, that’s the formula romance authors used to use. I suppose some of the older romance authors still use it. It’s a good formula, because it allows for a lot of leeway during the unfolding of the plot. Things can get interesting. And, shock of shocks, be realistic even while being interesting.

But during the past few years, a new romance formula has popped up. I call it the “Frustrate the reader with unrealistic people and plots romance formula.”

Here’s how it goes: The man and woman have reasons they could never consider dating, or dating this particular person. Those reasons are sometimes stupid, sometimes valid. But the main characters are attracted to each other, and by some wild circumstance are thrown into each others’ world where they go between giving into the attraction and resisting it for all they’re worth.

That’s the first half of the story, and usually, I can deal with it. I’m willing to give a romance author I haven’t read before a chance to redeem herself (or, rarely, himself) and make a twist that gets me really engaged in the story.

But about halfway through the novel, it takes a turn that makes me want to get the main characters together in a room, grab their necks, and slam their heads together. They each begin to constantly make wrong assumptions about each other and each other’s actions. Often, the woman is convinced she can’t possibly be attractive enough for the man to actually want her.

If I had a dollar for every romance I’ve read where the female protagonist thinks this…

Regardless, for chapter after chapter the author drags the reader through the grueling unbelievable world of two people who refuse to communicate their true feelings, their fears, their dreams for a relationship with the other person to work out. Instead, they become more and more tangled in a web of misunderstandings.

This can be done in a comical way, and adroit romantic comedy authors accomplish it. But most of the time, this formula is annoying and frustrating, with much of it being unrealistic. I feel like the authors add misunderstanding after misunderstanding simply to add to their stories’ word counts. The never-ending, repetitive plot line certainly doesn’t add any interest to the story.

I’m done reading such books, and done writing such books. I want to read about realistic people with realistic problems, solving them in realistic ways. It should come as no surprise that, therefore, such is the kind of book I want to write.

Note that I didn’t say real. I said realistic. You can write a fantasy that has a lot of realism to it. What I mean is, I want to be able to relate to the people and the plot.

This “Frustrate The Reader Romance Formula”? I just. Can’t. Relate.


Just In Time (week in the life)

Once upon a time, there was an author who sorta kinda promised to write a life update post on her blog every week. Then, something happened.

The second week, she forgot about her commitment until the day before.

So she took three pictures and decided that her second life-update post would be much shorter than the first. And she and her readers all lived happily ever after.

The end.

LOL, I did forget about this post until yesterday, but I’ll use the weather as an excuse, too. For a couple of days, I was very sleepy and my brain didn’t want to do much of anything.

Speaking of the weather, that’ll do for an update this week.

The rain has gotten ahead of itself

Remember how last week, I told you we’d received six inches of rain in two days? Well, this past week, we got another 1.2 inches. Our average annual rainfall is about fifty inches.

Do you get that? In the span of a week, we got 1/7 of the average annual rain for our area!

But wait! That’s not all!

And then, it got cold.

You want pictures? I’ll give you pictures.

Yesterday morning, November 1, 2019, our son walked out the door and said, “It’s not that bad!”

Uh, see the frost on the grass? Notice what he’s wearing? Or, maybe better said, not wearing?

Now, he did get cold a couple of minutes later, but I had to take this photo because I missed the opportunity yesterday when he was running around outside in 45-degree weather, also in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.

Next up, a close up of the frosty grass:

The frost on J’s car:

I know, I know: you Northerners (or “Southern” northerners along the east coast) have already been seeing frost, perhaps even snow. But the average first frost for our area – southeast Oklahoma – is November 1, so Jack Frost arrived right on time! It wasn’t hard, just around thirty degrees, but it was cold enough to kill my tomato and pepper plants.

Well, time to practice the guitar for a few minutes while B is outside playing. I’ll try to do better for next week!


Happy Author’s Day To Me…And You?

According to the calendar our bank gifted us last December, today is Author’s Day. So, if you are an author as I am, happy author’s day!

Today also marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. Those who have been considering writing a novel but not yet ventured down this grueling, yet incredibly fulfilling, path, are challenged to write the first draft of a novel this month.

I’ll probably never do that.

But, since I just used the word “never,” God is going to make sure that one day, I do it. 😉

Anyway. I say that because, thanks to my eye issue which is commonly referred to as Irlen Syndrome, I can only write so many words a day. Even though I use a NEO2 (previously known as an AlphaSmart word processor, and which is no longer being manufactured, waa), after a while my eyes get strained after looking at the screen and reading the words I’ve been writing.

Yes, I have tried writing without looking. I make a ton of mistakes, and have to go back and fix them which equates to the same amount of screen-looking time.

Generally, I go for 2,000 words per day. Now, there being thirty days in November, that comes out to 60,000 words if I were to pound out that word count every single day.

Though Pine Mountain Secrets comes close, I’ve never written a novel that was only 60K words. Most of my novels are over 70K words. And if a person wants to seek a traditional publisher, they need to write over 80K words.

Hear what I’m saying. I’m not saying that if you want to join the NaNoWriMo challenge, you cannot unless you can produce at least 2700 words per day in order to have the entire novel completed by November 30. Let’s not pick nits. If you can write enough every day to have forty or fifty thousand words written by the end of the month, you’ve completed half a novel. You’ve got some serious momentum going, and, likely as not, you’ll be motivated to finish it.

It’s not against the law to continue writing into December to finish a novel begun in November.

I’ve actually recently started rewriting a novel that I’d published a year or so ago. It ended up being a bad story with mediocre characters, I finally realized. I may not have ever realized it if it weren’t for the first review it received.

Two stars.

Yes, I threw a fit when I first saw it. Railed on about how the reviewer’s comments were insulting an unjustified.

Nothing like the passage of time to make an author see her story objectively, and to realize that the two-star reviewer had actually been generous with her comments.

As usual, I digress. The point is, I will be working on a novel this month, but for the past couple of days, I’ve come to a stand-still. The main reason is that I’ve got about a dozen different story lines running around my head, and they’re distracting me to the point of irritation.

So in honor of Author’s Day, and Novel Writing Month, I’m going to spend a few days jotting down plot summaries. I’m going to get those consarned ideas down on paper so that they’ll quit floating in my head.

And then, back to the novel.

Which, barring a miracle, I won’t finish by the thirtieth. But who cares? I’ll be having a blast creating.


I’m trying something new. I’m going to see if I can stick to publishing a weekly “week in the life” update, which will consist of non-writing related events from my life during the past week. The purpose is twofold: first, it’ll make sure I post at least once a week; and second, it’ll give my readers a peek into their favorite author’s 😉 life.

Let’s begin with…

…the Great Micro-Drone Haircut.

If you read this post, you know that J and I recently purchased a micro-drone for our son. These smaller-than-adult-hand toys are intended for indoor use, so the other day, he was flying it around indoors.

I was sitting at the table, eating lunch, when suddenly something light impacted my head and began whirring angrily in my hair. A second later, and I knew I was going bald.

One of three or four tangled knots of hair my husband had to cut off the back of my head in order to free B’s drone.

B had accidentally flown the drone into my hair. And in his panic, took a good five or ten seconds to realize that the smart thing to do would be to turn it off.

So the four tiny propellers kept going around and around, winding my hairs around them. J had to cut the thing out with scissors.

Yes, I know a photo of the drone in my hair would have been much more interesting and social-media worthy. But J was busy cutting it free, and B was so worried that he’d destroyed the drone only the second day after he got it that I didn’t want to bother him with fetching the camera. So you’ll have to be happy with the knot of hair picture.

The good news is, the drone still works, and I actually didn’t lose all that much hair.

But we have a new rule in our house: when B is flying the drone inside, Mommy must put on her hat!

It happens when you have a tile floor

I knew this was going to happen someday. I mean, I knew it. I knew, one day, I was going to drop my glass liquid measuring cup onto our tile floor. The next two photos show it after I’d tossed it into the trash.

I have a two-cup measure that we’re using for the time being. But it, too, is made of glass. The next Amazon order, there will be a plastic cup measure in the cart.

Soggy, boggy

This is how much rain we got in a forty-eight hour period. Can you see the number 7 a bit up from my finger, where those little lines are to mark off tenths of an inch?

Yep. Six inches. In forty-eight hours.

Please don’t let us have another autumn/winter/spring like last year! Oh please oh please oh please!


Finally, I started taking a 5-HTP supplement a couple of days ago. It’s too soon to tell how well it’s really working, but I have a feeling that in about a month I’m going to be screaming toward the sky, “WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!”

Click here to read about why I started taking it. And feel free to share, in the comments, one of the highlights of your week! 🙂


Early Morning Adventures With An Excited Kid

It all began two or three years ago when B lost his micro-drone. It was his own fault, he’ll admit now. J told him not to fly it so high because it was a windy day, but B wanted to get it as high as he could.

And the wind whisked it away, out of reach of the remote control.

It was a tragic day, but J and I decided we wouldn’t replace it because B had to learn the consequences of his actions.

Fast forward to a few days ago. His interest in his larger drone re-ignited, but it wasn’t of good quality and no longer would fly very high or very long.

I talked to J, then we talked to B. We would be happy to buy him another drone, if he thought he was going to start playing with it again. The next day, I was ordering another micro-drone from Amazon, which is due to come tomorrow from the writing of this story. We figured he’d learned his lesson, and since losing the first micro-drone he’s matured. Now that you’ve got the background, let’s get into the adventure…


“I can’t sleep.”

I happen to already be awake when B makes this announcement from his bedroom at around three in the morning. I think J is awake, too.

(In case you have no idea why J and I should be able to hear, from our bed, B calling us from his bedroom, watch the following video which is a tour of our tiny house.)

I’m not terribly shocked by B’s way-too-early announcement. After all, he spent half the day yesterday wandering around restlessly, and warned us that he was going to have trouble sleeping.

Still, I don’t welcome the interruption.

I’ve been lying on my left side, and turn my face up so my voice won’t be muffled. “That’s not our problem! We’re trying to sleep!” I scold, then turn back over.

If J hasn’t been awake, he is now.

Silence for a minute. Then, my Mommy Sympathy descends. I should do something to try to help him sleep. So I ask, “Do you want Daddy to put some lavender on the bottom of your feet?”

Why do I volunteer J’s services, you might ask? TMI coming up…

…We sleep in our birthday suits.

And it’s a lot easier for J to slip on a pair of shorts than for me to get properly covered if B needs tending at night.

“Might as well try,” comes the reply from over the loft above the bathroom.

Without a word, J gets up and does his fatherly duty.

Not five minutes after J slips back into bed: “I need to go poop!”

It’s not B’s habit to need to defecate so early in the morning…unless he’s super-excited about something. As a Highly Sensitive Person, he has a sensitive digestive system that is affected by strong emotions.

I groan and roll onto my back yet again. “You’re supposed to take care of that yourself.”

See, here’s the thing: since we live in such a small house, to turn on the one main light in the middle of the house when it’s still dark is to ruin any hope of sleep for anyone for the next hour. So I’ve instructed B about how to turn on the light in his own room, then take his flashlight into the bathroom so he can turn on the bathroom light, then use the flashlight to help him wash his hands in the kitchen after.

“Sorry,” B says. Some rustling, then, “My flashlight doesn’t work.”

I can’t see, but I’m sure J rolls his eyes as he rolls out of bed, trudges to the bathroom, and flicks on the bathroom light. Then he goes into the kitchen to plug in the lamp.

He hasn’t even made it back into our bed when B declares, “Never mind. I don’t have to go anymore.”

I squeeze my eyelids with a sigh.

More silence. Then, “I’m nauseous.”

Please don’t let him throw up. Please don’t let him throw up, I pray. Because in the past, a bout of excitement-provoked diarrhea has led to a bout of puking, and vice versa. Then I tell J, “Give him the empty peppermint oil bottle to sniff.”

I guess it works, because he doesn’t complain anymore about being nauseous. And the light above his bedroom goes off.

Finally. I might get a little more sleep before it’s time to –

Light back on. “I need to go poop again. Hurry! Before the urge goes away.”

With a groan, J gets out of bed and turns the lights on that he’s turned off minutes before.

B climbs down out of his loft bed and has success this time.

Somewhere in there, I manage to doze off for about half an hour. But B never does get back to sleep.

And I remember the real reason it took us so long to replace the lost micro-drone:

B gets excited at the prospect of a new toy. When he’s excited, he loses sleep. And if B loses sleep, so do we. 

PS – B would like everyone to know that “It was the worst night of my life.”