Monthly Archives: August 2015

Rolling with Change

My jaw dropped today when I realized it had been ten years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast. Apparently the past decade of my life came and went faster than the puff of smoke trailing behind the Roadrunner each time he outsmarts Wyle E. Coyote.1704813_s

Much in my life has changed since Katrina. I’m now staring down fifty instead of forty. My kids are catching up to me in height, and needing (or possibly wanting) less and less of my attention, too. I’ve discovered a new career, and my husband has changed jobs twice. Friends and relatives have married and/or divorced.

On a more global scale, we’ve witnessed a historic Presidential election, suffered through years of war, YouTube, FaceBook, and Google appear to be taking over the world, and the King of Pop died.

Pretty much everything has changed.

And today brought more changes to the Beck household. My eldest started high school, my youngest entered seventh grade, and I got a new editor (who I’m excited to work with, by the way). I’ll admit my kids and I began the day with a bit of anxiety about the new expectations and people we’d be partnering with this year. But happily, none of us met with disaster (not yet, anyway).

That’s the thing about change. The anticipation of the difference is usually much worse than the reality.

We’re trained, I think, to be leery of the unknown (“better the devil you know,” and other such sayings). But that fear can cause us to stagnate if we let it. And so, like I did this morning, I try to focus on the possible positive outcomes of change (new friends, new teachers, new leaf), because the thing I fear most is failing to thrive! Thriving requires growth, which in turn requires change, which means I best embrace each and every opportunity for change that comes my way.

And just because this post made me fondly remember Saturday morning Looney Tunes:

xo-Jamie

Family + Vacation + Silliness = Love

Can you tell from the title that I’ve just returned from my extended family’s annual trip to the beach?  This is the gang (minus three who couldn’t make it this year): Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 4.15.57 PMThese trips began many moons ago with my mother (and step-father), her sister’s family, their parents, and my brother and me. We’ve carried on the tradition for decades (although it still amazes me to now find myself being that in that middle-tier of the family tree).

Michael J. Fox once said, “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” I couldn’t agree more.

I grew up in Pittsburgh within a stone’s throw (literally) of two sets of cousins and one set of grandparents. The rest of my close-knit family all lived within a five-mile drive. Time changed all that, and now we are scattered across Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut, making large family get-togethers rare.

IMG_6295Of course, the Hilton Head Island beaches are beautiful (see?), the weather is reliably warm and sunny, and the rental homes fabulous as one could desire, but none of that is what makes these trips our favorite.

What makes them so special is the level of silliness we achieve together, and the life-long memories that creates. For instance, this year some of the dads decided to dress up in old-time bathing suits, glue fake mustaches above their mouths, and stroll the beach to the nearest resort hotel pool bar. oldtimersThey mimicked 1920s radio voices for the duration of the “show,” and needless to say, drew lots of attention, questions, and requests for photos. The kids were extremely amused and oddly proud, and it will certainly remain a memorable, if ridiculous, day in our lives.

FrostFrogAnother fun ritual is enjoying a meal at the Frosty Frog. Grown-ups like the frozen drinks (Fruit Loop is a particularly tasty one), and the kids like to dance to the live music with the restaurant mascot.

This year, my cousins and I decided to go out on the town and hit the dueling piano bar. My one cousin (a former rock singer turned elementary school teacher) ended up on stage belting out Janis Joplin’s Bobby McGee while the crowd cheered her on. Of course, that’s something the kids didn’t get to see, except via video the next day.Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 4.52.26 PM

Then there are the other traditions, like my cousin’s constant fishing along the coast. Often he’s caught rather large shark and stingrays. This year he got one big stingray, while an even bigger shark snapped his line. He did manage to reel this baby shark in for the kids to pet. Yes, my daughter found this all very entertaining, while I decided perhaps my body surfing days were at an end.kaylababyshark

So much in our daily lives is regimented, it is wonderful to get away to laugh and play and remember what it feels like to be a kid again. I’m grateful for this opportunity to relax with my cousins, and for my kids to form the special bonds of kinship with distant cousins. I hope we can continue our “family” vacations for decades to come, even if it means my kids will need to wheel me onto the beach. That might make it a little hard for me to participate in our annual family vacation video, but I’ll find a way.

I’ll end on that note, with the video we made this year, as a reminder to all to be happy with who you are and don’t let others tear you down:

xo-Jamie

 

The Joy of Romance

AUGUST 14TH UPDATE

GIVEAWAY WINNERS:  ROSE & GRETCHEN

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO STOPPED BY TO READ THIS POST AND ENTER THE CONTEST!  FOR MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO WIN PRIZES, SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER (SEE SIGN-UP TAB IN THE RIGHT-HAND SIDEBAR)

 

When Bobbi Dumas and Lorelei’s Lit Lair invited me to participate in Read-a-Romance Month as a derivative author via Lorelei’s RARM post, I was honored. When I learned the central theme of the month was “the joys of romance,” I knew this could well be the easiest blog post I might ever be asked to write! The real challenge would be keeping my response short and sweet. Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 5.52.52 PM

People often ask, “Why do you choose to write romance?”

My answer: I write romance because no mystery, suspense, sci-fi, fantasy, or crime novel contains more thrills, or evokes more emotion, than a journey to love.

And therein lies the joy of romance for me.

I defy any reader to pick up a well-written romance novel and not be whisked away on an emotional roller coaster that will literally awaken her body and rev up her heart while also stirring her soul. Like a good love song, a romance novel will engage its reader by tugging at universal passions that resonate deep in our chest: yearning for, finding, and/or losing love.

Who among us doesn’t enjoy reliving the butterflies of new love, experiencing the lump in the throat caused by a heroic grand gesture, and, let’s be honest, picturing that sexy hero? On that last note, many contemporary covers can also inspire quite of bit of “joy,” right? Yes, joyful would be an apt description of what I might feel if asked to sit in on a cover shoot with the open-shirted cowboy on Laura Moore’s Once Tasted cover…*coughs*

St. James Book One

St. James Book One

But all joking aside, an authentic, layered love story can provide hope when we need it, or catharsis, or the comforting knowledge that we are not alone in our own relationship ups and downs.

Romance novels connect us through our collective desire to be known, understood, and loved just as we are. In real life, that can be hard to find and too easy to lose. But with a romance novel, we’ll not only experience that connectedness for a few hours, but we’re also assured of a happy ending.

And truly, what greater joy could one take away from any book?

 

Author Q & A

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. Aside from the obvious (marriage, birth of my kids, publication of my debut novel), one indelible, joyful moment of my life occurred during a 28-day Outward Bound program (many moons ago), when I found myself dangling from a cliff on my first-ever rock climbing and rappelling experience. The odd combination of terror and mastery, set against a stunning backdrop of the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, provided quite a powerful feeling of success and possibility. To be pushed beyond what I thought I could do also taught me not to let fear dictate my decisions.

Sterling Canyon Book One, Coming October 6th

Sterling Canyon Book One, Coming October 6th

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy. As you might guess from my prior answer, one place that always brings me tremendous joy is traveling to the mountains, particularly the Rockies. The majesty of the peaks—whether sheer rock faces or slopes littered with fir trees—never fails to awe and inspire me. I love to hike or ski them whenever possible!

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy. My daughter’s singing. I’ve spent my life being a music lover, so I absolutely adore hearing her practicing piano and singing. When the house is filled with music, it is a happy place indeed.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy? So this one is a little weird, because sometimes I find joy and beauty in sorrow. I know…like I said, weird. A “relatively” recent book that has affected me this way is JoJo Moynes’s Me Before You. Oh, boy, did I cry. Rivers of tears. That “barely breathing” kind of pain in the throat. But underneath the sorrow, that story exemplified the power and beauty of the kind of love that understands, accepts, and encourages, which is why I think it’s such a best seller. Technically it may not be a “romance,” but for me, it was a wonderful love story.

Chris Pine

Chris Pine

A joy of choice ~ “pick your Chris” (Hemsworth, Pine, Evans, Pratt, Rock, or Plummer). This is a tough choice, but ultimately I think I need to go with Chris Pine because he’s got beautiful eyes, a very nice set of lips, and has a bit more of a refined look than the others (which I like).

GIVEAWAY! I’m giving away two signed copies of either of my books (reader’s choice) along with some little goodies. To be eligible to win, simply leave a comment to this post telling me why you love romance (the comment link is just beneath the post title). The little contest widget will pick two winners from those who choose to participate. I’ll announce a winner on August 14th (in order to give people time to read and participate).

Recommendations. Where to begin? My favorite romance subgenre to read is historical romance, and my favorite authors in that genre are Lisa Kleypas and Sherry Thomas. I’ve read all of their books and, if forced to pick favorites (an unfair and impossible task), must choose Lisa’s Love in the Afternoon and Sherry’s Ravishing the Heiress.

But recently I’ve also read a few good contemporary romance novels from newer authors: If you enjoy sharp humor and a whimsical story, try Tamra Baumann’s It Had To Be Him. Want heartwarming with a dash of sexy? Sara Richardson‘s No Better Man is for you. Other author’s to try? Gail Chianese, Sugar Jamison, Miranda Liasson, Jeannie Moon, Regina Kyle, and Sheila Athens.

Bio. Jamie Beck is a former attorney with a passion for inventing “realistic and heartwarming” stories about love and redemption, including Amazon Kindle store Top 10 best seller, Worth the Wait. In addition to writing novels, she also enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking, and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

xo-Jamie