Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ah, the end of summer...

Yeah, I know. Technically, summer isn't over until September 22. We got married on September 21 because it was right at the joining of summer and fall - all the gorgeous colors of fall with the lovely temps of summer. Our wedding day delivered on that and then some.

But today is the very last day of summer vacation for both my kids this year. Until now, I've always had one at home in the post-kiddo years and summer ends when it gets too cold to wear shorts. Now life will turn the page because school schedules and activities will dictate such. It's yet another reminder about the difference between being a parent and being a kid.

On that note, I had an interesting experience yesterday when we went to the kids' ice cream social - a.k.a. the thing they do to convince the kids to come meet their teacher and see the classroom before day one of the school year. A fellow Pre-K mom was having an issue. You see, they require us to drop off and pick up our kids for Pre-K in this district - not enough 5-point harnesses to go around on the buses. And since I stay at home with my kids, this isn't an issue for me. But I've known more than one family who couldn't do it. This mom and dad were those people. Some days, they'd be okay, but others, probably not. They can get her there, but can't necessarily stay until the 8am hand-off. It meant that their little girl would have to skip going to Pre-K. Which is a shame. So I volunteered that I could sit with her in the morning while we wait for the teacher to take responsibility for our children. It's no big deal, really. I have to be there anyway and I'm just hanging out with other parents. Besides, it might give my son someone to hang out with in the morning.

The catch is that she'd need me to be there around 7:30am. Which, if you knew how hard it was for me to get my daughter to Pre-K on time, would make you laugh. And my husband said he didn't think it was doable for me. But here's the thing: two years ago, I had a toddler at home and a pre-schooler who was NOT a morning person. In the two years since then, my daughter has gone from being a pre-schooler to a 1st grader. She went to school full-time last year and took the bus every single day. A bus, by the way, which arrived at 7:02am. My daughter became a morning person because she didn't have a choice. My son, well, he's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed within five minutes of waking in the morning and he's no longer a toddler - he can put on his clothes and shoes and can even buckle his own carseat. Not that he always does, but he can.

For the 14.5 years I've known my husband, he's always craved flexibility in his life. He likes variety in his lunches and dinners, won't watch too much of any show, might spend hours or days doing any one thing only to abandon it later for months, years or forever. He's the epitome of the saying, "Variety is the spice of life" and there have been times when it gets frustrating. A few years ago, he indicated that he thought we needed to have a schedule. Implying, of course, that I was the one who prevented that from happening.

The reality has always been that I'm naturally inclined to that sort of thing. I'm a creature of habit. I adapt easily and can make changes without much difficulty. But I tend to find things I like or that work and keep with them. In fact, I am my most productive when I'm doing something that has become rote. I like variety, I like new things and am not afraid of them, but I don't need it. My husband wants to be that person, deep down. He wants to want a schedule that's rigid. He wants to be steadfast. But it's not who he is. He likes the idea, but he isn't self-motivated to keep with it if there are other options available and no one is asking it of him. "I hope I die before I get old," The Who once said. That doesn't mean before you age, it's before you start acting like an old person. And I'm convinced that his psyche correlates rigid schedule = sameness = boring =old. The challenge to our schedule, therefore, will and always has been, my husband. Despite what he thinks.

So, back to helping out the Pre-K mom. Like I told her, I've been thinking lately that I need to do better at getting up early and carving a routine for myself in the morning instead of late at night. My husband has just made it easy for me to avoid it. And the truth is, he wants me to be that person because it forces him to do it, too. Have I been procrastinating it all these years? Yes. I don't know why exactly. I suspect it's a combination of things. Rebellion against the rigidity of a childhood where there were 5 kids and little money. Putting off becoming my parents because I don't want to feel old - a refusal to have the mantle passed. And a spouse who says he wants one thing but acts the opposite.

Life is about to get real. Two kids in school, even if one is part time, is a whole new ball game. Every year of their lives things have changed. They aren't necessarily easier, just different. I'm not convinced that it ever really levels out. And that is going to have to be enough variety for us. Because if we're going to be good parents, good people and happy, then we have to stop being college students or post-college grads who live by a whim, and start acting like the parents we've been for the past 6 years. For real now.

This one simple offer of help to another family has the ability to do more than I think either myself or my new friend realize. My husband, as I may have mentioned, isn't fully convinced that me being a writer is da bomb. I know people have their opinions on that and I get them. I have mine, too. But what it comes down to is that if he thought I could do it and still be a great mom and a great wife, he'd be my biggest cheerleader. I guess he thinks I haven't shown him it's the case. By offering to help one little girl get a head start on her education, all it's costing me is maybe a half hour in the morning when I don't get to sleep later. But it has the potential to do so much more.

I spent the last year nurturing my inner writer so that she has the confidence to trust the muse and the ability to polish the work when it's done. Now I need to find a better work/life balance. I've known this for a while. My husband is at his wits end with me about it sometimes. Doing this one thing has the potential to make me a better mom, a better wife, a better homemaker, a better person and a better writer. It might save my marriage and even my sanity. Not that either are in jeopardy, but I'd rather get ahead of the problems I know are lurking.

So thanks, fate, for putting us in each other's paths last night. "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca. My mind was prepared and I saw the opportunity. My friend said she didn't know how to thank me. I told her the best thing she can do is pay it forward. I know I'd be grateful to someone who did something for me like that. Hell, I'm sure there are more people than I can count who have been that kind of friend to me over the years.

The best part of it all is that I realized that I knew her from somewhere, that she looked familiar. She could have been anyone I'd seen around town - I have that sort of memory for names and faces. But I offered because it was the right thing to do, not because I was convinced that I knew her. Turns out, later that night, I figured out why she looked familiar. She's my brother-in-law's sister. I'd only met her a few times in the years since my sister got married, but we've met before. Now I guess I can't feel so bad that we left late for school shopping yesterday or that it took forever in line at WalMart and we got to the ice cream social a little later than we had planned.

There are a lot of cliches about making the best out of this life. Sometimes, you have to stop reading them and start living them instead. And sometimes, all it takes is recognizing an opportunity when you see one.

Even if it means the figurative end of summer.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Return to civilization...or something

We're finally back from camping. Well, technically, we got back around 3pm, but I've been de-camping - doing laundry, unpacking, making dinner and bathing children - since then. Had time to peruse Twitter briefly and then moved to FB. Whoa. When you're gone a few days, it piles up fast! We had WiFi at the campground, but the signal at our site was crap and we were too far from the lodge area to merit going there just to get online. It was enough to walk there to use the bathroom. Note to self: camping is still fun, even with small kids, but, um, gotta be more strategic in choice of campground and site!

We had a great few days. Saturday was mostly a travel day, but we also took the kids for their first trip up Mt. Washington.

Sunday we met MIL, BIL, SIL, and their two kids at Santa's Village in Jefferson, NH. We had a blast and got an adorable picture of the four kids with Santa. We ate pizza that night at a place near our campground, Catalano's Main Street Pizzaria & New York Style Deli,
in Carroll, NH, and it was, hands down, some of the best pizza I've ever had. DELISH! (BTW, hubby and I often gauge the success of a trip on how yummy the food was). Sunday night was our s'mores night. Of course, we eat s'mores regularly around here. Last year, hubby got a small fire pit for Father's Day and we've been using it to make campfires and s'mores at home ever since. But we had to make them at the campground at least once. The other two nights, the kids were too tired.

Monday, the four of us went to The Whale's Tale in Lincoln, NH - it's a waterpark. The kids had a great time and the weather was actually pretty decent - not as hot as we'd hoped, but not cold, either. After, we ate dinner at a local place called The Common Man. We'd been to a different branch before and loved it. The food this time did not disappoint. Made it back with daylight left and had time to hang out together while the kids dozed in the car. Finally had to make them get up and change into pjs, then go to sleep in the tent. Spent the rest of the evening hanging out at the campfire with the husband. The sky was filled with stars and it was a gorgeous night - perfect evidence for why it was that we went camping in the White Mountains in the first place.

Today, we got lucky and managed to finish packing the campsite just before the rain let loose - it was misting toward the end, but we had a good tree canopy over our site and it helped protect us a little for the load out. Even with a stop at Dunky's (that's Dunkin' Donuts for you peeps who don't know) and a furniture builder (looking for a stool to fit daughter's vanity - weird size), plus a trip to McD's in Farmington for a late lunch, we still got home around 3pm. I was never so happy to drive into my driveway. Man, camping wore. me. out. And we only went for 3 days!

On a hilarious note, I kept thinking about Shannon Stacey's first Kowalski book, Exclusively Yours. I was sure I'd see ATVs with Kowalskis speeding by me at any moment. And I wondered which cabin was the one where Joe and Kerri stayed. LOL. If you haven't read the book (or any of the series), you probably won't get it, but trust me, it was funny. Mostly because they were camping. In NH. At a place a lot like the one where we stayed. I'm not kidding. And you should totally read her Kowalski series. I especially love Sean and Emma.

So, the trip wasn't completely devoid of writing. I loaded the PDF of my latest draft for Only One (Ward Sisters Series Book #2) on my Kindle and spent some time editing. I had my laptop, but once I realized how far it would be to travel to the stupid lodge to power up, I only turned the thing on long enough to download our pictures. But I used my Kindle to make notes to myself and it'll be back to work soon enough. Hubby is still on vacay, so probably not as much this week. Boo. Hiss. Good thing I finished Back to December before his vacation. Yes it is. Stories keep churning in my head, however. And I'm excited to get back to writing. Every once in a while, you have to recharge the batteries somehow.

My new Facebook cover photo is me on top of Mt. Washington, highest peak in the Northeast. If you've never been there, you should go sometime. You drive the not-quite 8 miles to the top and ascend about 5,000 feet (the peak is at elev. 6,288 ft above sea level, but the base isn't exactly at sea level). If you're wondering whether the road it steep, it is. VERY. It's a scary ascent because it's a barely-two-lane road and sometimes there is a cliff next to you. My 4-yo son had a panic attack at first (not unlike me on my first trip about a dozen years ago). We all made it up in one piece and it was worth the drive. We'd both been twice before - once together and once each with someone else (him with his family, me with my boss for work) - and we'd never seen good weather at the top. Saturday, the weather was clear and nearly limitless views at the peak. Unfortunately, it was also 60mph winds (Mt. Washington holds the worlds record for the strongest ever recorded wind speed at 231mph) and between the wind chill and the cooler temps, it felt like it was about 34 degrees. Yes, I said 34. Lucky for us, we heard word while at the visitors center at the base and changed into pants, socks and sneakers. I had a wind-block fleece (it works!) and the kids wore long-sleeved T's over their short-sleeved T's with sweatshirts on top of that. And we were still cold.

Anyway, hubby says the pic looks photoshopped. It's not; that's me braving the wind for a decent shot on top of the mountain because no one ever takes pics of me and I wanted a cool one to post on my site. Those are the Presidentials behind me - just below where I'm standing is the Appalacian Mountain Club's hut, Lakes of the Clouds. And by just below, I mean about 1,200 feet lower in elevation. I hiked down to that once for work - one of the coolest things I ever did for that job. If you've never seen the White Mountains in New Hampshire, you should. If you live in New England and haven't seen them, what are you waiting for? My son said he'd like to walk up next time. In a few years, we probably will; that boy has an adventurous spirit, he just likes to be in control of his adventure. Guess I've got to condition him to make some smaller hikes first, then we'll tackle Mt. Washington together. I miss hiking. It'd be cool to have a little hiking buddy, since daddy's knees don't much like hiking these days.

Well, despite the fun of the last few days, camping doesn't lend itself to great sleep when you're tenting and lying on a sleeping pad. See, I'm nice and gave the hubby the self-inflating air-mattress-like sleeping pad. My hip is not thanking me (I'm a side sleeper). Ow. Glad to have my bed back. Time for a few more chores, a nice hot shower and sleep.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to December is LIVE!

It's official! Back to December is now LIVE on Amazon! I'm ecstatic. So, head over there and make an author feel good about herself. Tell your friends, tweet it to the world, spread the news. And I'll sit here and try not to think too hard about the fact that now my writing is no longer just for me. It's thrilling and terrifying all at the same time!

Meanwhile, I thought we were going to the beach today, but that's not happening. For one, the temps are supposed to hover around 70 - not exactly ocean weather. For another, my husband called and informed me that a whale carcass is being devoured by Great White Sharks off the coast of Boothbay. Say what? Yeah, don't think we want to give the kids a fear of the water when that's a very, very rare occurrence. Jaws wasn't real, people! But damn if that's not freaky. Aaaand now I'm reading that this isn't as unlikely as I thought. Lovely. Jawswasn'treal. Jawswasn'treal. Jawswasn'treal. If I say it three times fast, it makes it true, right?

With the beach and even the lake not in the cards (too breezy), that means I'm going to be painting. It's good painting weather. And now that the book is out there, I need to work on some other things for a bit. I want to whine and say, Do I have to? But if I'm going to get my husband to let me be a writer without the look of disdain, I need to pull my weight. And I've been skimming the surface as I made the push to get this first book published. The first time you do anything new is always the hardest. I learned so much over the past nine months. Now I can take those lessons and get the next story out there more efficiently.

I've set up an author page over at Amazon: amazon.com/author/pattikorbet (this link won't be live for a bit). And I'll have one at Goodreads soon, too. If you were already my friend on Goodreads, my page will merge with my author page so you'll automatically be friends with my author page. If not, you can find me there - my profile name has been changed to Patti Korbet (it used to just be my first name), so just look for me and friend me now. I added Back to December on Goodreads this morning.

I hope you all enjoy Back to December! Stay tuned for teasers and updates about Book 2.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

This is it...

It's official; I uploaded the file for Back to December to Kindle just a short time ago. When it's live - meaning available for purchase - I'll let you all know here, at Facebook and on Twitter. To say this is a long time coming is a ridiculously immense understatement.

But time moves forward and while this book is finally ready to make its debut, the rest of the series still needs to be finished.

While I waited on my final edits - the last read through by my mentor/editor/aunt, author Laurie Breton - I worked on the concluding story in this series, Better Be Home Soon. When you read Back to December, you'll meet Emily's family, including her youngest sister, Charlie. Little sis' engagement is what gets the ball rolling both in Emily's life and in this series. It only makes sense to tell Charlie's story last. But get this: when I started the story, I thought I knew what was going to happen. And then I was writing and BLAM! Nope. Wrong, sucka!

Did I mention before that I subscribe to the Stephen King philosophy of writing? At least to an extent. Like Maine's most successful author, I believe I'm the vessel for the story. That it's my job to uncover the fossil and piece it together. The more I write, the more I understand this to be true. The last 24 hours while I wrote for Charlie, that could not have been more evident. Here I was, writing bits about Charlie and Dan in Back to December, and guess what? I still hadn't found the overall arc for the series nor had I found a solid story for their entry. But I've found it. And I love it. And you know what I love more? That those hints about Charlie and Dan make so much sense now. Love. That.

So, next on the agenda is Liam's story. It's called Only One and you'll see a sample at the end of Back to December in the form of the prologue. Liam, as you will soon discover, is Emily's bodyguard. But he's so much more than that, both to Emily and in this series. His story is done, but there are significant edits left and I suspect it will be some time before we get it uploaded.

For one, my editor has her own book to write. Her fans will thank me for that. It means a lot of writing for her and a lot of reading/editing for me.

Fortunately, I can do both at the same time. For another, I learned so much this last time around and I plan to send a much more thoroughly edited draft to Laurie before she makes her suggestions this time.

Meanwhile, I'm pooped. We had a fun evening with my inlaws to celebrate my MIL's birthday. The kids had a fantastic time playing with their cousins, I got some yummy Bloody Marys and a scrumptious, hard-shell lobster. It was a lovely way to spend a summer evening. But I'm tired. So I'll read until I fall asleep and pick up writing and promoting in the morning.

Thanks for being on this journey with me! The ride isn't over yet! It's just getting started...

Friday, August 2, 2013

That was Christopher

One of my favorite characters in Back to December is Christopher, Rob's stylist. He was so fun to create. He'll make additional appearances later in the series, particularly in Only One. Here's Emily's first meeting with him:

The force of nature that was Christopher immediately enveloped Emily as soon as she opened the door. She didn't even get past the entry. All of a sudden, a 6'3" man, black as night with platinum, spiked hair, sculpted muscles under his tangerine orange cashmere sweater and dark, fitted jeans, was barreling toward her like the Basilisk in Harry Potter – a slithering freight train. The deep, yet feminine voice was disconcerting, to say the least.
Oh! Look at you! You're like a little Kate. We can work with that. Though, Rob is so much more handsome than William, thankfully.”
He winked and stole a look at Rob that said he thought Rob was much, much more than handsome.
“Quick! Let's get that coat off you so I can see your curves.” He yanked off her wool trench. “Twirl for me. Slow. Good. Uh huh. Uh huh. Well, we'll have to make sure we put you in something that slims your hips a little and doesn't over emphasize your tush. Can you take off the pants so I can see your legs?”
Emily looked at Rob. He was stifling a laugh. He gestured, as though to say, Well, go on. You heard the man. She rolled her eyes as she shook her head at him and took off her shoes and pants.
“Okay, now put the shoes back on. Yes, honey, I'm serious.” Em hadn't said a thing, but apparently, Rob wasn't the only one who could read her expressions. She obliged, to Rob's amusement.
“Niiiice. Excellent. You've got fantastic gams. That means we can put you in anything without worrying about your legs. Looks like you'll need a wax, though. And now that I see your hips and tushy without those pants on, we might be a little better off there than I thought. Do you work out? Yoga? Pilates?”
“Yes. I haven't in a few days, but usually I do both a few times a week.”
“Well, it shows. I'm sure we can do some tailoring on those pants to help your figure. I'll send someone over to pick up everything and we'll have it back before you even realize they're gone. You've got it, girl, you might as well make the most of it while you're still young and it's all real. Now, let's see those boobies.”
“You're kidding.” Rob was having a hard time containing himself.
“No, honey, I'm not. It's strictly professional. I don't get any personal enjoyment out of it, if you know what I mean.”
Em sighed and took off her blouse and her camisole. She was standing there, in her stockings, bra and thong, wearing three-inch heels. She felt like a stripper. Rob's expression had turned from amused to aroused. She gave him a dirty look. Just you wait, mister.
Oh, excellent! 34C?” Christopher asked as he felt her boobs. She didn't know what else to do, so she nodded. “And totally real. This we can work with. I think I've got the perfect dress, but I'll bring a few others, just in case. I'm never wrong, though.” Rob was shaking his head, mouthing, He's not.
Christopher was grabbing his coat and his handbag. Emily had to laugh to herself that the most shocking thing was that he had a handbag.
“Wait, don't you need to take measurements?”
Oh, honey. No. If we were having a dress custom made for you, I would. Or if you were really fat, just to make sure I brought a big enough size. But you'll fit all the samples. We'll alter as needed. We'll have our first fitting on the 27th and then we'll do the final fitting on the 31st. Okay? Okay.” He kissed both her cheeks, waved a cute little wave to Rob, said “Tah!” and was gone.
Emily was standing there, in her underwear and shoes, baffled, mouth hanging open, when Rob's arms came around her.
He nuzzled her ear and said, “Sorry about that. I should have warned you, but there really is no way to explain him until you see it.”
She turned to look at him. “What the hell was that?”
That was Christopher.

What was that?

We're approaching the official Back to December publication date. In honor of that, here's another sneak peek...

This is just after Emily's first encounter with the paparazzi. It's also her first encounter with Rob's family and his staff, when she meets his brother, Rick for the first time.

Emily sank into the seat and turned to face front, startled when she noticed for the first time that someone sat across from her and Rob. It was the man from the club entrance. Somehow, that seemed wrong. She looked at Rob for an explanation – by now she realized that she could silently communicate with him, her face was apparently so readable. He smiled his lovely, dimpled grin.
“Emily, this is Rick Deacon. My bodyguard and my older brother.”
Rick said hello, smiled at her and stuck out his hand for her to shake. She took it and just stared at him, idly pumping his hand. While there was a vague resemblance between them, if Rob hadn't said Rick was his brother, she would never have guessed. The man was huge like a pro wrestler, with bulging muscles and an imposing presence. Brown eyes observed her instead of Rob's potent blue and the hair was shorter and lighter in color. One thing he shared with his brother was the dimpled, naughty grin. Rick's smile widened.
“She's a talkative one, Rob.”
Emily shook her head. “I'm sorry. I'm just...I'm still a little stunned by all that back there. What the hell was that?” She looked at Rob for an answer.
That was the paparazzi.”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Almost there...

Today, I finished my last round of edits for Back to December. Okay, finished is relative. I completed my post-redline edits and began my final read-through. Of course, I found things I wanted/needed to fix in the earliest chapters. Somehow, I was either drunk or sleeping when I completed those edits, because I missed some really obvious stuff. I'm being a little hard on myself, but there were certainly things I should have caught.

Anyway, despite the fact that I'm nearly done with the actual body of work, there are still things to do before publication, including final cover art and then dealing with all the items that will be easier after the first time I self publish. I still have some things to set up at Kindle, I should convert my Goodreads page to an author page, blah, blah, blah. Right, that's the boring stuff but it's required. Like I said, first time stuff that will be less of an issue for subsequent books. So, not really 'done' but 'done', you know?

Since we're a few days away from the official release, I figured I'd post another sneak peek. I'm not telling when this part takes place. That will give away too much of the story. But here you are:

Rob said, “Care to dance?” He knew it would take her mind off things to be in his arms again, and she was immediately grateful for his presence. She nodded vigorously.
They stood at the same time. He took her hand and led her to the dance floor. Taylor Swift's Back to December played and he swept her into his arms. Em chuckled as she remembered what she said to him that first night at dinner.
“What's so funny?” he asked, as if he didn't know; she told him the same thing when they first danced at the gala.
“Oh, I don't know. Just recalling how I insulted both your dancing and your acting skills in the same sentence once upon a time.”
He spun her out and back and when he caught her he said, “Have you revised your statement, then?”
She laughed. “Absolutely. You're a fantastic dancer. The acting, I don't know...”
He pulled her closer. “Watch out, or I'll tickle you.” The fingers of his left hand, which were on her back, crept toward her ribs.
“Rob!” she said under her breath. “We are in a public place. Don't forget that.”
“Oh, right. Standard protocol in place, ma'am!” he mock saluted.
She laughed. “Thank you. For making this so much easier. And for helping me laugh. You've always been able to make me laugh.”