Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Speeding Ticket

Authorial Mom Sarah here. And it's confession time, and I have to tell you something. I'm so ashamed.

I got a speeding ticket. While driving.

Oh, but that wasn't the worst of it. No, the worst of it was that my 96-year-old grandmother and 6-year-old son were in the car.

I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. Well, maybe certain Middle-East dictators who shall remain nameless.

So here's what happened. I was transporting The Kid to St. Louis, where he was going to spend a fun-filled week with his Mimi and PawPaw. The benefits of this were obvious--he would get to eat Drumsticks at 9:30 at night and get whatever toys his little heart desired. And when that got old? Water guns in an 89-degree hot tub. The good times never stop!

But it wasn't just for The Kid's benefit that this trip was being undertaken. You see, my wonderful sister was marrying a wonderful man on Memorial Day weekend in St. Genevieve, MO (which is about a 6 hour drive for us), and we were all invited. (Details on that later!) My Gram is the only surviving grandparent. Did I mention that she's 96 years old? Well, she can't travel with as much vim and vigor as she used to. So I was also going to take her down to my Mom's house (Hi, Mom!) in order to break the long drive into more manageable stretches. So there was that.

But that wasn't the best part. The best part was that I was going to get a little mommy vacation. For four wonderful days, it was just me and my husband. If we didn't take The Kid down, I'd have to take time off of work. That would cost me money. And time is money. It was worth it to me. I was working on line edits for both my own book, A Man of His Word, and my grandmother's book, Eleanore Gray. I needed the time.

So there we are. The Kid and I drive down to Gram's house, we load in eight (count them, EIGHT) of Gram's bags into the car, and head out. First, we leave the driveway. Then we turn left, take an immediate right, and find ourselves cruising down a hill. Gram is, um, talking to me enthusiastically (read: yelling at me), and The Kid is demanding I open his water bottle. I'm mentally gritting my teeth about the fact that I have two more hours in the car with this fun-loving pair.

Perhaps I just wanted to get to the passenger exchange site faster. Perhaps, in twisting to retrieve the aforementioned water bottle from The Kid, I depressed the accelerator more than normal. Perhaps I just had it coming--I haven't had a speeding ticket since about 2 months before my own wedding, nearly 10 years ago. Some would argue I was due.

Whatever the twist of fate, I look up to realized I'm going 42 miles per hour on a residential street as I pass a cop car. Oops.

There was that optimistic 10 seconds after the cops passed me where I thought, "Not it," as I brake with enthusiasm. Then I seen them turn around in my rear-view mirror. This is where the delusion sets in--maybe they just got another call and they're responding to it, right? That little bit of madness lasted for about 4 seconds--right until the lights came on.

The moment those lights flashed, I knew that I was, in fact, "IT." I pull over and curse my luck. Meanwhile, The Kid is cheering--yes, actually cheering--in the back seat. He thinks this is awesome. Field Trip Cool. He's bouncing in his car seat--hey, at least he was fully buckled at all times--telling me what's happening in real time. "Mommy, the cop is walking up to the door! Hey, there's a second cop! He's walking up on my side!! Mommy, the police are HERE!" Cue excited giggling.

At the same time, though, Gram is going the complete opposite direction. She's not quite in tears, but she's getting close. I haven't even handed over the license and registration, and she's 'shoulda, woulda, coulda'-ing me. "I should have made you look at my flowers. You should have gone the other way. I shouldn't have given The Kid that water bottle." And so on, and so on, and so on.

The Kid was correct. There were two uniformed officers there to bust me down to brass tacks. Collectively, they weren't as old as I am. I think they were still in Jr. High. Really. The one taking my info was perfectly polite, but his partner stood on the passenger side of the car, legs apart, arms crossed, GLARING at my little-old-lady Gram and happy young son. Apparently, those two had a real dangerous, Bonnie-and-Clyde look about them.

So I got my ticket, get back in the car. I hear about how the last time Gram got a ticket--while my grandfather was still alive, so we're talking late 70s here. She had to pay $30. She offers to pay my ticket while I locate the fee list on the darn thing. Turns out that going 45 in a 30 (I was speeding, so I didn't feel that arguing the 3 MPH was in my best interest) will set you back $125 these days.

Upon this revelation, Gram gets closer to tears. I decide this is a 'teachable moment' for The Kid and explain that she will NOT pay the stupid ticket. I made the mistake. I will accept the consequences, etc. etc. etc. I will pay my own speeding ticket (thereby negating the monetary gain of taking The Kid down early so I wouldn't have to take the day off). Needless to say, I'm not in an especially good mood.

But I'm not going to let it ruin the rest of the trip. We are GOING to Mimi's house, by God, come Hell, high water, or traffic infractions. We get as far as Bowling Green (half an hour south) before Gram reveals that she was so excited about the trip that she didn't eat breakfast, so we stop. While I'm opening honey for The Kid's chicken-like nuggets, Gram cuts me a check for $100 and shoves it in my purse. The rest of the way down, I hear the shouldas, couldas, wouldas. The rest of the trip is uneventful, and the passenger handoff is smooth. Freedom comes with a price, after all.

Later, my Mom emails me to say that, during a quiet moment, The Kid pulled her aside and whispered, in a real happy, conspirator whisper, "My mommy got a speeding ticket."

All I can say to that is, thank heavens school is out. Otherwise, I'd be the highlight of Show-and-Tell.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Authorial Interview with Genevieve Graham

Authorial Mom: Please help me welcome Genevieve Graham to the Authorial Moms blog! Tell us a little about yourself. How many kids do you have? How old are they?

Author Genevieve Graham
Genevieve Graham: Thank you, Sarah! I’m honoured to be here - oops, did I spell that wrong? Nope. That little ‘u’ is in there because I’m up in Canada, and I still use British spelling.  :)

I have been a stay-at-home mom for about 14 years, and before that I was in advertising and marketing, living that fast and hectic life. Before that ... well, I got a Bachelor of Music In Performance, playing oboe at the University of Toronto. How wild is that? No, I no longer play (though I do teach piano to the local kids around here), but it was a great experience.

My wonderful husband and I have two beautiful daughters: Emily is 13 and Piper is just about 11 (going on 20). We moved to a small town in Nova Scotia three years ago in an attempt to leave the rush of the city far behind. It worked! We love living in the middle of nowhere.

AM: What do you write? How many books have you written/published? How old are they?

GG: I write Historical Fiction, with a good healthy mix of romance and adventure. My first two novels, Under the Same Sky and Sound of the Heart are being published in January by Berkley/Penguin US. I’d love to tell you where you could buy ‘em, but they’re not out yet! I’m presently working on #3 in that series, and I have another series I’m working on after that.

AM: Tell me about a typical day. How do you write with kids around? Or do you have to ship them off to school or grandparents’ houses to get anything done?

GG: I’m up and at ‘em by 5:45 a.m., kids fed, lunches made, frenzy complete by 7 a.m., when they’re climbing on the school bus. They get home around 3 unless they’re at some kind of extracurricular thing.

I’m extremely fortunate in so many ways. The first is that my husband is incredibly supportive. Since the first time I sat at a keyboard and tapped out a few pages, he’s been behind me, encouraging me every step of the way. He’s at home now, and has taken over the house duties, so I can basically type away uninterrupted for hours! (This is also fortunate because nobody wants my cooking. Really.) The other amazing thing about my family is that our daughters are proud of what I do. We’ve shown them that this is my office, this is where I work, and we’ve explained that in any other business I would have to be out of the house and they’d see me far less. They respect my space, they brag about my books and my editing business to their friends, and they have both become really impressive writers and editors in their own fields!

AM: Start them young! Did you write before you had kids, or after? What changed with your writing when you had kids?

GG: The only thing I ever wrote before my novels were notes like, “Please excuse Emily because she has a doctor’s appointment...” About six years ago, at the spring chicken age of 40, I sat down and started typing. I had just finished reading some incredible writing and felt hollow without the characters when the series ended. So I decided I needed to create my own little worlds. That way the characters would always be around.

AM: Wow, what a great motivation! How old will one or more of your children have to be before they’re allowed to read your books?

GG: My first series is definitely not for my girls. Not until they’re probably sixteen or so. But I have tried now and then to write a little something for them as well. I wrote them each a silly Christmas book a year ago, and they’ve been demanding more ever since. Guess I’d better get to that ... I have another YA book in mind - my first YA novel. We’ll see ...

AM: I think your daughters should win some sort of awesome award for being so supportive. Becoming an author means having a public persona. How do you combine motherhood with the demands of a public life? Do you feature your kids, keep them shielded under pseudonyms, or leave them out of the equation entirely? Have they asserted their opinion(s) on this matter?

GG: Right or wrong, we have done nothing about the kids with regards to this new life of mine. So far we haven’t really had to make any decisions, since we’re still waiting for the first book to be out. But so far, the girls are fully involved in the process, even though they can’t read the actual books yet. I will open up a separate Facebook page when the books are out so that our family photos won’t be on there, but other than that, we’re not too concerned.

AM: Most Moms I know have a limited amount of free time. Give me a few reasons why they should dedicate some of that time to your characters. What’s in it for us?

GG: I’m biased, but I find my characters fascinating. And when they are in my head, I am given the amazing gift of seeing life through their eyes. My characters are people like anyone else you might see (um, as long as you’re living in the mid-1800’s), with insecurities and fears, and it takes extraordinary circumstances for them to overcome those things. I deal with difficult subjects sometimes because I am unwilling to soften up the reality of the times.

I don’t write predictable, quick reads. I aim more for the epic, the sweeping drama, but without petticoats - my ladies mostly wear homespun, my gentlemen are wrapped in heavy old plaids. What surprised me most was when my girlfriends passed the books to their husbands, who normally don’t read, and neither spouse could put them down.

AM: That’s an amazing reaction. Now comes my favorite question: Let’s have a little fun with fill-in-the-blanks. “The floor of my kitchen is so ___ you can ___ it.”

GG: Really? Um ... The floor of my kitchen is so cold you can skate on it.

AM: Funny! What’s up next for you?

GG: Oh, I’m so glad you asked! While I’m working on Book #3 (and others), I am also a busy editor. I have edited novels for authors around the world, in every imaginable genre, and learn more with every experience. Anyone interested in what I might do for their manuscript can email me their first page and I’ll send my suggestions for free. My email is gsawchyn (at) ns (dot) sympatico (dot) ca.

I’m also really excited to be going to the Romance Writers of America conference at the end of June. It will be my first ever writers’ conference and I’m hoping to have coffee with the world famous Sarah Anderson ...

AM: Now I’m blushing! We’ll definitely have coffee—or some other delightful beverage (hint, hint)! Until then, where can we find you and your books online?

www.WritingWildly.com is all about my editing, and www.GenevieveGraham.com is my writing website. Please come visit!

AM: Genevieve, thank you so much for stopping by and chatting today. Please come back and share about your journey with us!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Authorial Mom Ann Charles

Authorial Moms:   Welcome to the Authorial Moms blog! Tell us a little about yourself. How many kids do you have? How old are they?

Author Ann Charles
Ann Charles: Thank you for the having me here, Sarah. A little about me:  I’m a full-time technical writer by day and a full-time fiction author by night (almost makes me sound like superwoman, huh? I want to wear purple tights, though!). In between, I am a wife and a mom of two young kids. My husband keeps me fed and my gray hairs colored, and my kids keep me laughing and grounded—there is nothing like having to wipe your child’s hind end to keep you from getting too big for your britches. My life is crazy busy, and my head often spins so much I am unsure which way is up. But each day is full and fun, and all of the insanity makes for great fiction. I’m sure all of you author moms can relate.   

AM:  What do you write? How many books have you written/published? How old are they?

AC: I write humorous mysteries mixed with romance (or “sex,” as I tell the guys) and paranormal. I have written eight full manuscripts, but only the last five are publishable. The first three were all about learning how to write (and how to NOT write)—in other words, they suck and aren’t allowed out in the light of day. I’m currently working on my ninth story, which is book three in the Deadwood Mystery Series. As for actual published books—Nearly Departed in Deadwood is my first published book. Whew! Lots of numbers there. I feel like I slipped into the body of my old math teacher. We should find a way to make this paragraph into a story problem and have a test at the end of the article.

I started writing in the mid-nineties. The first three books were written before 2000. The remaining ones came after 2002, when I finally finished with my college degree and had time to write something other than two-page papers on this, that, and anything else my teachers instructed. Nearly Departed in Deadwood was written in 2009. I wrote the second in the series, Optical Delusions in Deadwood, in 2010.     

AM: Tell me about a typical day. How do you write with kids around? Or do you have to ship them off to school or grandparents’ houses to get anything done?

AC: Warning—this answer may cause drowsiness. Do not read while driving ... My typical day is pretty normal. I work a full-time day job as a technical writer, so the morning starts out with dragging my butt out of bed around 6:00 a.m., checking email and Facebook/Twitter, and then getting the kids up and moving. My husband gets breakfast going while I get the munchkins dressed and ready for school/preschool. Then I head to work and play technical writer for eight hours, but my brain is constantly dabbling in fiction during long meetings and on “slow” days. I go home in the evening, hang out with the family until the kids go to bed around nine, and THEN I get to start working on writing. I usually stay up until around 1:00 a.m., then crash and start over again when the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. By Friday, I’m existing solely on caffeine and sugar and look like an extra from a zombie flick, minus the craving for brains. Saturday morning, my husband keeps the kids busy so I can sleep in and return to looking somewhat human. The weekend nights are major writing time, too. Then Monday roles around and I’m back to the weekday grind. Someday I hope I can drop the day job, but that’s far into the future at this point.

AM: Did you write before you had kids, or after? What changed with your writing when you had kids?

AC: I wrote both before and after. What changed was how much sleep I got a night. I used to sleep closer to seven hours a night, but now I average five hours. Also, I have to juggle a lot more, and I find that I deal with guilt issues if I have two writing-related events during a week that keep me away from my family. Since I work during the day, being gone in the evening is tough on all of us, so I have to be very picky about what writing events I attend. I used to participate a lot more in local writing chapters, serving in volunteer positions. Now I just can’t. There is no time for that, which is a bummer, but I figure in time that will change as my kids reach the age when they want nothing to do with me because I’m so uncool. Then I’ll happily be “lame” and hang with my writing friends again.

AM:  How old will one or more of your children have to be before they’re allowed to read your books?

AC: Twelve seems like a good age. By then, they’ll have heard all of the swear words plenty of times that I use in my stories. But we’ll skip the sex scenes for a few more years after that. Maybe I’ll lie and tell them that the sex scenes are all about their father and my love life and scar them for life. LOL! Ah, it’s so fun to be a parent sometimes. 

AM:  Becoming an author means having a public persona. How do you combine motherhood with the demands of a public life? Do you feature your kids, keep them shielded under pseudonyms, or leave them out of the equation entirely? Have they asserted their opinion(s) on this matter?

AC: I call my kids “Beaker” and “Chicken Noodle” in public, whether they like it or not. J Those are some of the nicknames I gave them as babies, and they roll into my writing life perfectly. I want to shield them as much as possible, which I think most parents understand. They are too young yet to have a vote on how they are represented in public, but I’m sure my youngest, Chicken Noodle, will make her opinion know before too long. She’s a chip off the old block, and I feel very sorry for her poor, poor father. 

AM:  Most Moms I know have a limited amount of free time. Give me a few reasons why they should dedicate some of that time to your characters. What’s in it for us?

AC: Laughter, and lots of it. I love to laugh, and my hope is that I get a smile or a chuckle or more out of you while reading about Violet Parker’s crazy life. Kids make us all a little crazy. In between the yelling and cleaning and snuggling and yelling some more, we all need to decompress and share some laughs. Also, Violet is a mother of twins, so her struggle with raising her kids is something with which many moms (and dads) can identify with, grin about, and shake their heads over.

AM:   Let’s have a little fun with fill-in-the-blanks. “The floor of my kitchen is so ___ you can ___ it.”

AC: “The floor of my kitchen is so freakin’ cold you can chill champagne on it. But on a miserably hot summer evening, it’s wonderful to lie on in in your bra and underwear.”

AM:  In what way have you turned into your mother? How are you coping with it?

AC: My mom has always been a kick-butt saleswoman and a wily entrepreneur, so I’m trying to follow in her shoes. She’s been one of my biggest advocates in the writing business, and she’s constantly teaching me lessons on salesmanship, marketing, and promotion. I bow to her skills. That being said, I also now catch myself saying some of the same things to my kids she said to me, and that makes me groan. Things like, “Don’t you talk back to me,” “Give me that look one more time and you’ll be sorry,” and “Keep it up and I’ll give you something to cry about.” Dang my kids for bringing out that side of my mother in me. LOL! 

AM: What’s up next for you?

AC: Besides promoting the second book in the Deadwood Mystery Series, finishing with writing the third book, and then plotting book four, I might try to get a few extra hours of sleep here and there. I also have an Arizona Mystery Series—the first one is called Dance of the Winnebagos—that my publisher is working on getting out there in a different format. We’re considering something audio. This book was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Contest about five years ago, and we decided it would be a good “in between” book to put out while I continue writing the Deadwood Mystery Series.

AM:  Where can we find you and your books online?

AC: You can find me at www.anncharles.com/deadwood. I am also at www.anncharles.com, but that site is about to go “Under Construction” while we give it a facelift. 

I am the co-owner of www.1stturningpoint.com, a website where authors can go to teach, share, and learn about marketing and promotion. Also, I’m at www.plotmamas.com once a month and http://blackinkwhitepaper.wordpress.com/ twice a month.

You can either just go to my websites Buy Links page: http://anncharles.com/deadwood/?page_id=769

Or click the following links:


·         Amazon
·         Barnes & Noble
·         Sony Reader Store
·         Smashwords
·         Diesel eBook Store

Print Books:

·         Amazon
·         IndieBound
·         Barnes & Noble
·         Powell’s Books
·         Borders
·         Romance Books
·         (Bookstores & Libraries) Also available through Ingram

AM:   Ann, thanks so much for stopping by today!