Monthly Archives: April 2016

Love, Grief, and Characters

We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in. — Ernest Hemingway

I just turned in the final Sterling Canyon book to my editor, which means it’s time to start a new series. Similar to my St. James series, this one will be a set of connected stories (tentatively, the Cabot novels) centering around three siblings in a somewhat dysfunctional yet loving family.

One theme that will be layered throughout the first book will be grief (personal and professional). I know. I’m writing romance, so why veer toward heavy sorrow? Why give both the hero and heroine a material, complex loss to overcome?

Well, because, to me, I’m writing a love story. And not all love stories should be witty, sexy romps filled with banter and white-hot attraction. In real life, some true love stories are borne from the worst circumstances, and are all the more memorable for it. Of course, whether or not I’m up to the challenge of writing that bittersweet yet compelling love story is yet to be determined. I hope so.

I also suspect there are readers mourning things in their lives–not just deaths, but other losses–who might be inspired by characters who overcome grief. In most of my stories, I aim to create realistic and familiar scenarios that readers can relate to and, even better, that challenge their perspective with regard to “the norm.” I love a good debate, after all. In my opinion, nothing teaches us more about ourselves and the world than when we are forced to consider an opposing point of view.9526624_s

Finally, how we handle grief says something about who we are. We can all agree that the basis of grief is a lost attachment. Some people choose to avoid deep attachments in order to prevent grief. Others may have had an unhealthy attachment or unresolved difference with someone from which they might forever struggle to recover. And finally, some may handle grief remarkably well because they focus on their gratitude for the attachment they had the privilege to enjoy for however long it lasted. In all these cases, you have a very different character in play, which gives me a lot of directions I can pursue in terms of character and story development.

Best of all, this kind of theme allows me to really explore the truth of Hemingway’s observation. I love that quote, not only for its simplicity, but also for its optimism. That is the goal–the endpoint–of any character arc, after all. From darkness to light. Hopefully by beginning at the lowest of lows, the high will be more satisfying.

Speaking of characters, if you’d like to help me build the foundations of new ones, share your take on grief. Have you seen someone handle it very well or very poorly? Do you have a process that speeds up your recovery time, or do you go dark and quiet for a while? Do you rely on faith or friends? Do you get angry? Let me know and you might see your note reflected in my new story next year.

xo-Jamie

 

 

12 Months of Beauty, Part 4

Hey Ho…Katherine here with the beauty updates on the two new products I mentioned back in March.

With spring here and summer knocking on our doors, I have found the perfect razor for you gals.  After over a month of using the SCHICK HYDRO SILK TRIMSTYLE, I’ve had a while to get acquainted with this 2-in-1 razor and bikini trimmer. Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.30.13 AMNote: before trying this product, I was a daily shaver.  You heard me right! I’ve been shaving my legs and under my arms daily for the last 30+ years until I found this little beauty.  Overall, this product has made shaving a slightly less annoying experience for me.

This razor gives such a close shave, I don’t need to do it daily.  Also, it has a moisture strip that, in my opinion, works just about as well as shaving cream. The razor glided right over my skin, removing hair quickly and easily with little irritation.  I usually get a lot of irritation when using other razors, especially the disposable ones. Due to habit, I did sometimes use shaving cream with this razor, and that works, too. Either way, you get a very smooth finish!

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.30.50 AMUnfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to sample the COMPLETELY BARE MOISTURIZING NO BUMP SHAVE GEL that I had wanted to test.  Why?  Because I couldn’t find it anywhere! I tried CVS, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens.  If you find it, please let me know where.  I would still like to try it (even though you really don’t need shaving cream with this razor).

I enjoyed the razor very much, and for this reason I would most likely be willing to purchase this product again.

 

As for the bikini trimmer…that was a winner for me too.

I haven’t ever used one before, so I have nothing to compare it to. As for the features, it has an adjustable guard to keep you from nicking your lady parts, which is good to have while you’re experimenting. You can also remove the guard, if you’re looking to get a closer trim. There are four adjustable lengths, but I didn’t really check those out.  I am a girl that likes a nice bikini wax, so this will not really replace that for me, but it does extend the amount of time between waxes (which is a good thing for the checkbook)! I’ll say that using a bikini trimmer can help you cut back on (or get rid of) the irritation you’d normally get with saving.  And if you’re completely intolerant of the pain you’d experience waxing, then this may be for you.

Another plus to add to the list of pluses-the whole thing is waterproof. I was highly skeptical of this at first. But when I turned on the electric trimmer after having gotten some water on it and safely avoided being electrocuted, it kept working.  Also, interestingly, the product twists open in the middle so you can replace the battery. One was included in the package, in case you were wondering. To date, I have not had to replace the battery.  Also, all of the trimmer parts are detachable for easy cleaning, yet another plus.

In summary, I would give this razor and bikini trimmer a 9/10 collectively. 

What’s up for May?  Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.14.08 AMI am out of the Hydro Boost Water Gel that I liked so much over the winter months.  So instead of purchasing a new jar, I am going to try the Best Night Cream winner, GARNIER ULTRA-LIFT MIRACLE SLEEPING CREAM.  This product contains hydroxy acids that smooth your complexion, and lavender (I love anything lavender) oil that soothes your skin —while you are snoozing!

I’ll be back in May to review this product and introduce one or two others from the list of top beauty products I mentioned back in January. Until then, enjoy the beautiful spring weather!

xo-Katherine

The Joy of Celebrating Romance Readers

I confess, I’m in a great mood despite the fact that snow is falling outside. Yes, snow in April. Needless to say, spring weather in New England is unpredictable. But I digress. My point is that I can deal with the snow because I’m still riding the high from the weekend thanks to dozens of readers, librarians, and bloggers (*waves to Heroes and Heartbreakers*).

The Pond House

The Pond House

On Saturday, my Connecticut Romance Writers of America chapter hosted its first annual “Spring into Romance” luncheon, (which was open to librarians, book sellers, and readers) at The Pond House. When we conceived of the idea months ago, we had no idea whether or not it would work. I admit, at first I had that sick feeling you get when you start to plan a party and wonder whether anyone will show up.

 

 

My beta readers

My beta readers

Luckily, we ended up with 97 guests (including some of our chapter’s authors). Those of us on the board were pleased with that turnout considering this was our first attempt to organize such an event. Our president, Jamie Pope, offered some welcoming remarks, and Kristan Higgins gave a lovely keynote address to the crowd. Spirits were high, I tell you. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that we loosened everyone up with a complimentary cocktail.

The Three Jamies!

The Three Jamies!

Those who came enjoyed a great meal, played a fun trivia game (although my table did not fare so well in this), and mingled with other romance novel lovers, all of whom got to take home a goody bag with free books, frames, wine glasses, and more.

 

 

But while all of that is very fine and made for a pleasant afternoon, what stuck with me was the enthusiasm of so many who were interested in meeting some of their favorite authors.

Authors Kristan Higgins, Erika Kelly and guests

Authors Kristan Higgins, Erika Kelly and guests

I really can’t describe how much having a reader tell you, “I love your books” means to me. It is what makes me sit at this desk day after day. It gets me through reading a less flattering review. It helps me quiet the self-doubt that starts screaming midway through any draft.

 

So, this post, like this past weekend, is my little love note to my readers.

Authors Sadie Hartwell, Katy Lee and guests.

Authors Sadie Hartwell, Katy Lee and guests.

I wish more of you lived in Connecticut so that you could participate in some of the activities my chapter organizes. In lieu of that, I appreciate your participation on my Facebook page, and cherish every single reader email I get (including the ones that tell me what should happen next in a series).

Author Gail Chianese and guests

Author Gail Chianese and guests

 

 

I know I speak on behalf of my chapter and all of my writing friends when I say that you, dear readers, are the reason we keep writing. Thank you for spending your time with our stories!

xo-Jamie