Thursday, November 27, 2014

Remembering To Be Thankful


In the hustle and bustle of the season, especially now that stores are open on Thanksgiving Day, it's way too easy to loose site of all of the many things I have to be thankful for.

So in the spirit of remembering what today is all about, here's my list:

  1. The chance to spend this day with my amazing family and friends as we cook and share a special meal together.
  2. The country I am privileged to live in. Despite it's flaws, we are basically a people with very generous and giving hearts.
  3. The beauty that is California - though I am sure that each of you find beauty in your own states.
  4. A roof over my head when so many in our country and world must do without.
  5. An abundance of mouth-watering food that make both our dinner table and my tummy groan.
  6. But most of all, I wish that everyone could share my good fortune.

May today and the rest of the year be one of joy and thanksgiving!

Bonnie

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Can I Really Love You?


Fantastic author and fellow member of the Yosemite Romance Writers of America, Cora Ramos, sent out a blog tour challenge to the group. The week of November 17 is my week to pick up the gauntlet and share information about my first book, “Julia’s Star” which was published in August 2014.


Reader Review:
Bonnie hit it here in her novel... with the kind of characters I like in a Romance novel...strong, capable woman who can also show her vulnerable side and ultimately let love conquer her resolve. A man who knows how to cultivate his lady's talents and also treat her like a Queen, never giving up on his vision of the two of them becoming a lifelong couple. Throw in a ranch and horses and you have me hooked! A fast read. Love her phrases! She knows how to use the English language! Couldn't put it down and the characters stay with you for days. Definitely recommend it! I Want more! Hopefully she repeats some of the supporting characters and we learn more about them! Can't wait for her next book!

 

Join me as I explore the following questions:

  • What is the teaser description for your book’s story?
  • What is the main conflict that each of your characters faces?
  • Why did I want to write this story?
  • What is my writing process?


What is the teaser description for your book’s story?

You chug along life’s highway, minding your own business, and all of a sudden - wham - something smacks you upside the head.  For smart and sassy widow, Julia Marlowe, it was something as simple as a flat tire that landed her squarely in the path of swashbuckling film star, Jason MacKenzie, who slams into her life with the force of an 18-wheeler.   

She doesn’t want to like the guy.  The lifestyle he represents stands contrary to everything she believes in.  He has that Hollywood ‘love-them-and-leave-them’ attitude written all over him – but despite her best intentions, he has a way of getting under her skin.  Besides, her kids like him and so far he hasn’t flinched at tarantulas, errant goats, space aliens and the chaos an active household creates. 

Then again, there is the little matter of his ex-wife, Barbara, who clings to Jason like plastic wrap on steroids.  Further complicating the situation is the 200 mile distance between the places they call home.  She has no desire to live in his world but can he possibly live the country life after the bright lights of the big city?  Can she trust a man who only has to smile to make millions of women’s hearts go pitter-pat to give her the happily ever after ending she seeks?

 
What is the main conflict each of your characters faces?

Julia met the man who would be her husband while she was still in elementary school – the brother of her best friend. They grew up together in a small California town and eventually headed off to the same college. Brian was really her only boyfriend – good, sweet, dependable Brian. Until he was tragically killed in an automobile accident, she didn’t understand how much she counted on his guidance and steadying influence. Sure she had her own career as a successful writer but Brian had always been there to help make those big decisions. Now, the responsibility for the well-being of their young family, was all hers. Enter film star, Jason MacKenzie, so different from any man she had ever known. The attraction is definitely there but she has to decide if she can trust him with her heart and if they can mesh their two very different lifestyles.

Jason married the wrong woman for the wrong reason in his first marriage and was devastated by the experience. He wants love and wants what his parents and sisters have found in their relationships. He also knows that people are drawn to him for what they think he can do for them or to give their careers a boost. He eventually realizes that Julia is the life partner he has been looking for but now he needs to convince her that he is not the person she thinks he is.


Why did I want to write this story?

I love to explore the human condition and why we make the choices we do. Most of us are much more comfortable  dealing with the familiar. When faced with new situations and personalities, it’s not unusual for us to question ourselves and look for options that will take us back to what we know. Julia has to decide if she has the courage and strength to venture into – at least for her – uncharted territory.

Jason is rightly suspicious of people’s motives for wanting to get to know him. He wants to find a lasting love but his first foray into matrimony didn’t end well. He needs to learn to trust what his heart is telling him again.

Finally, this story gave me the opportunity to explore how we all deal with our pre-conceived notions about other people. We all have our biases but it’s whether or not we let them hold us back or whether we move forward in spite of them.


What is my writing process?

I start with a very brief story concept and then spend a good deal of time getting to know my characters. I have a very detailed characterization worksheet that helps me visualize what my characters look like, where they grew up, what their childhood was like, what are their favorite foods, where did they go to school, what are their hobbies, what their education was like and the chance to delve deeply into their personalities. Thanks to the internet and all the fantastic images from around the world, I also put together an image board of places that my characters will visit or live in as the story unfolds. Of course, if possible, I love to visit the places I write about so I can bring more realism to the journey they take as  they become a couple. Research is another important component of my process as I strive to make the situations and choices my character make genuine.

 
You can purchase a Kindle or paperback version of “Julia’s Star” at Amazon.com

Monday, September 22, 2014

52 Ways to Tell Your Guy He’s Special


 
This has been floating around for a few years but it’s such a fun, personal way to share your love for your special someone that I thought it was worth sharing with my romantic friends. The project will definitely take some time, but as you reflect about all of the ways your main squeeze makes your life a little brighter, I’d be willing to bet that the time passes quickly.

Your goal will be to come up with 52 different reasons why you love your man. You will need a deck of playing cards, lots of imagination, paper to write or print your reasons on, some glue, scissors, paper punch and one or two binder rings. You can make your own template or purchase one at the 52 Reasons I Love You website. Do a search on 52 Reasons I Love You images for more great ideas.
 
Once you complete the project, why not plan a special dinner or romantic outing where you can present him with this thoughtful symbol of your love?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Did The Washer Eat My Socks?


 
Washing machines are enough to make a person believe in the supernatural.  Did you ever wonder how you can put 5 pairs of socks into its bowels and retrieve only 3 1/2?  And how about all those extra pieces of ‘little people’ clothing that mysteriously find their way into your dryer? To be fair other moms are probably washing some of my children’s clothes.

It only seems fair to me that if the machine requires a diet of socks as well as electricity to maintain its life, then the manufacturers should list that information in its specifications.  Perhaps then my husband would know I’m not purposefully trying to make his life miserable by losing half of his socks.  The least it could do is take the entire pair rather than just one sock from each set I sacrifice to its gluttony.

The up side to these phenomena is the children’s clothing that strangely materializes out of thin air.  I know my children’s friends don’t leave my home naked.  They always appear to be fully covered when they depart after a day of play.  So where do these extra garments come from?  My children always deny any knowledge of who the true owner of these extra items might be.  They’re more than willing to believe the machine made them.  But they also believe in unicorns and fairies too. 

Looking at the situation philosophically, I should be thrilled that the vagaries of the washer provide lots of interesting coffee klatch stories.  At one such meeting I suggested that each of us put lost and found boxes on our front porches.  This way we could all mix and match our offspring’s outfits whenever we stopped by for a visit.  We could experience the pleasure of shopping without having to pay the piper.  The idea generated a lot of enthusiasm. 

Perhaps washing machines are really produced by fairy godmothers.  Having witnessed the price of children’s clothing these godmothers have taken pity and created a device that turns socks into kids wear.  Something like turning straw into gold.  Not a bad trade.  Now if I could just get my washer to produce designer brands. . . 

My husband may never get all his socks back but what we save on the purchase of children’s clothing will more than compensate him for new ones.  I wonder why Ripley’s ‘believe it or not’ has never picked up on this story.

 
From “Life At My House” by Bonnie Phelps.  First published in 1989 as part of a column I wrote for several California newspapers.

Monday, August 25, 2014

You’re My Sunflower: The Importance of Friendship


Probably the most famous of friends!
 
So why do I compare my friends to a sunflower?  Because they make me smile.  That’s what friends do – at least most of the time.  Sure there are those times when you wish they wouldn’t be quite so quick to deliver a reality check – but again that’s why we love and depend upon them.  Friends motivate us, commiserate with us, share our joys and sorrows, tell us when the outfit we’re wearing is just not right and let us know when we are behaving like a horse’s … well, you get the picture.

A simple Google search on the importance of friendship turns up thousands of links to information on the subject.  “Fifteen Reasons We Need Friends,” an article written by Susan Krauss Whitbourne in “Psychology Today” has a great recap of the book, “Friendfluence” by Carlin Flora.  While I haven’t read this book yet, it sounds like one that I will add to my reading list.  According to the piece, some of the topics covered in the book are:  friends influence us more than we realize, close friends support us through thick and thin, friends help us define our priorities, couple friendships can help our own relationships, friendship is a two-way street and friends can give us vital life skills.

In “Julia’s Star,” other than the romantic angle, friendship is a key theme.  I had a lot of fun exploring the role that friendship played in the lives of my characters and hope you learn something about your own friendships along the way.    

I’d love to hear from you.  Please share how your friendships have made a difference in your life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I’m So Sorry for Your Loss


 
In my contemporary romantic novel, “Julia’s Star,” the main female character is a widow with young children.  In order to better understand what my characters are going through, I do extensive research into the specific life situations they face so I can portray their reactions realistically.
 
In the United States, we tend to be uncomfortable dealing with death and in many ways behave as though there is a stop watch on the grieving process.  ‘It’s been three months since your loved-one died now it’s time to get back to normal.’  Unfortunately, since talking about death and recognizing someone’s grief is basically a taboo subject most of us have no idea how to deal with the situation. 

We don’t know what to say or what to do to help our friend or family member get through the grieving process.  That is why the bereaved so often hears the platitude, ‘I’m so sorry for you loss.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do.’  Typically the grieving person has no idea what he or she needs so responds with ‘thank you’ and then keeps their grief private.  Julia is lucky because she is surrounded by supportive friends but like so many of us is unprepared for the depth of emotion and the uncertainty that what she is feeling is normal.

One of the books I read on the subject was, “On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, an early writer about the grieving process.  She identified 5 stages of grief that individuals go through – though later in life she clarified that it is not a simple step-by-step process and each person experiences the stages in different orders, different intensities and for varying lengths of time.  You can find a good recap of Kübler-Ross’s findings at the website PsychCentral.
 
If you are interested in learning more about the history of grieving and a fascinating discussion of Kübler-Ross’s work, check out the 2010 article in the New Yorker, “Good Grief” by Meghan O’Rourke.


Other Resources

“How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies” by Therese A. Rando

“I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping, and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One” by Pamela D. Blair Ph.D. and Brook Noel.

“I Never Know What to Say: How to Help Your Family and Friends Cope with Tragedy” by Nina Hermann Donnelley

 
How have you coped with the death of a loved one?  What did you find most comforting and/or helpful?  What other resources do you recommend?