Summer is finally here!

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It’s official.  It’s summer! Sound the horns, fly the flags, shoot the fireworks. It’s my favorite season.  I soak up those euphoric feelings from that sunshine! I live in a state where it loves to rain, but in the summer, sunshine is king and I’m it’s loyal subject and worshipper.

To commemorate the occasion, I thought I’d share some song titles that pay homage to this glorious season:

“Summer Sunshine” by The Corrs
“Summer Hair = Forever” by The Academy Is
“School’s Out For Summer” by Alice Cooper
“We Say Summer” by All Time Low
“Summertime” by Bachelor Number One
“Surfing USA”, “Surfin’ Safari” and “California Girls” by the Beach Boys
“Summerhouse” by Better Than Ezra
“Hey Summer” by The Bigger Lights
“Summertime” by Bon Jovi
“Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams and Bowling For Soup
“Summer Scarves” and “Summer of ’89” by Butch Walker
“Wet Hot American Summer” by Cobra Starship
“Summer Song” by Forever The Sickest Kids
“Summer Nights” by John Travolta/Olivia Newton John
“Summer Love” by Justin Timberlake
“Til Summer Comes Around” and “Long Hot Summer” by Keith Urban
“All Summer Long” by Kid Rock
“Summerboy” by Lady Gaga
“Last Summer” by Last Prophets
“Indian Summer” by Mandy Moore
“Summer Paradise” by Simple Plan
“Our Last Summer” by ABBA
“End of the Summer” by Theory of a Deadman
“The Red Summer Sun” by Third Eye Blind
“Summer Love” by We The Kings

Hmm, that reminds me… I need to make a summer playlist.  Enjoy!

Book Lament

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So I’m reading my third book in a row that is just so so.  What happened to excitement? To not being able to put a book down because you are so enthralled with the characters? I haven’t found that with my last four books . . . “The Edge Never”, “The Edge of Always”, and the current book I’m reading, “Wallbanger.”  Prior to that I’d started to read “Beautiful Bastard” and that was way too much way too fast. I’m finding these other books just the opposite:  not enough soon enough.  There has to be a happy medium, right? Maybe I’m just being picky or hard to please because these books are best sellers, but I know I can’t be the only one thinking, “eh, they’re okay” as I read them.  This current book, “Wallbanger” showed promise early on.  It’s funny and witty and well written and the characters are fun but now that the two main characters are “just friends” who show signs of interest but are not going any further with it (at this point, I know they’ll end up together eventually), I find myself, thinking, “Come on.  Really?”

Maybe it’s because I can’t relate.  When I was in the dating world, I knew by the first date if the person was going to go the distance. There was either chemistry or there wasn’t.  And if there was chemistry, I wanted to go full board, all out romantic with them.  No taking it slow, being friends first.  I’m not saying that hasn’t worked for people, I’m sure it has, it’s just that it wasn’t how I was.  The guys I was friends with were friends for a reason–there was no chemistry between us, at least on my end.  I knew a few guys who wanted more but I didn’t.  And maybe it’s better to be friends first, but for me, I dated them if I wanted them, simple as that.  With my husband, it was instant chemistry.  After our first date, I knew I would marry him and two years later we did marry.  You either know or you don’t.  I guess I just don’t understand those people who are friends for years and then suddenly chemistry sparks and they want to be more.  I don’t get it, but to each his own.

And that’s not to say I wasn’t friends with my boyfriends.  I was–we were each other’s best friend, but that was AFTER we begun dating.

Anyway, back to “Wallbanger”, I’m halfway through and finding myself wanting to speed things along to get to the part when they’re actually together.  I hope it’s not one of those books where they get together at the end.  To me that’s just too much build-up and not enough release.  Kind of reminds me of “Sleepless in Seattle”.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s one of my all-time favorite movies, but the way they got together at the very end of the movie was well, frustrating.  At least for me… and there was no sequel… It looks like there is a second book after “Wallbanger” which I’m sure chronicles the relationship of Simon and Caroline but right now with the friends thing, it’s driving me crazy.  I do have to say they are pretty darn cute though.  There is hope for this book.  I find it more interesting than “The Edge of Always” which I still haven’t finished by the way.

Well, that’s my take.  Feel free to have your own opinions.  🙂

The Banff Springs Hotel

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Doug&CindyBanffI was doing research for my book last night and came across something interesting.  The characters in my book are going to be at The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Canada which is the hotel my husband and I honeymooned at in March of 1992.  I was looking for a photo of the outside so I can describe it and although I have some of my own, I wanted a current photo showing what the outside looks like now.  As I was perusing the photos on Google images, I found information about this hotel being one of the Top 10 scariest hotels.  I guess it’s haunted.  I had no idea.  I don’t believe in ghosts but I thought it was interesting that I found this out over twenty years after staying in this hotel for a week.  It is a beautiful hotel. My research at the time had only told me that it’s Scottish castle from the 1800s.  My husband and I enjoyed exploring all the ancient rooms with old time decor and furniture.  We had a blast there. Outside is just as breathtaking and the town was easy to walk to and quaint.  It was one of the best times of my life and I’m thankful I knew nothing about it’s haunted past.  I also discovered photos of Marilyn Monroe there.  Funny what you don’t know when you don’t have internet.  Anyway, I’d love to go back but don’t know if that will ever happen.

“The Eyes of Alexander” playlist

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You’d really be able to identify with these songs if you read my book, but even you haven’t here’s the playlist for Xander and Aubrey’s story:

“Extra Ordinary” – Better Than Ezra
“Extraordinary Girl” – Green Day
“You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC
“Passage” – ExitMusic
“Sonata No. 2” – Paul Galbraith (Johann Sebastian Bach)
“To Make You Feel My Love” – Billy Joel
“Heart-Shaped Box” – Nirvana
“Lacrymosa Requiem in D Minor, K. 626” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning” – Frank Sinatra
“Reflection” – George Winston
“Concerto in F Minor RV 297 op. 8 No. 4” – Antonio Vivaldi
“Look What You’ve Done” – Jet
“Juicy” – Better Than Ezra
“Desperately Wanting” – Better Than Ezra
“I Want Your Sex” – George Michael
“Hysteria” – Muse
“Comfortably Numb” – Pink Floyd
“Kryptonite” – 3 Doors Down
“Sherlock Holmes” – Sparks

Books & Buttons

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“…and my books are like friends that I come back to at night.” ~Cynthia Batten

I just finished watching for the second time, “The Curious Life of Benjamin Button”.  It’s one of the few academy award movies that I loved.  I was enthralled from beginning to end both times I’ve watched it.  It reminded me of “Forrest Gump” in the sense that Benjamin was a man struggling with an ailment and he had struggles in his life, too.  But he also had joys and those are what he tended to focus on.  I loved watching the movie from Benjamin’s eyes and the way he found joy in almost everything in life.  It made me want to be more optimistic and more appreciative of things I take for granted or don’t give credit to.  And although the ending was sad, it was still triumphant because for the most part, he lived how he wanted to live despite the hand life had dealt him.

Anyway, after watching that movie, I turned off the television like I do most nights and got on the computer and the above quote was born out of feeling the sense of coming home to my writing.  I can once again meet my characters on the page and mold and shape them however I want.  They are my friends and I’m happy to share them, but right now, I must get back to them.  🙂

Sell, Sell, Sell…

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ImageSo I finally got back on Amazon this weekend and ending up listing 18 items.  Two of them were textbooks my son Noah graciously gave me to sell.  I was going to list them on ebay but never got the chance.  One of them just sold on Amazon for $99! I’ll get about $86 of that, but still, that’s awesome.  And of course I’ll give Noah a percentage.  I hope the other textbook sells soon.  I’m kind of addicted to ebay and Amazon, especially when I get sales.  Ebay has been slow for me… sales just trickling in here and there.  I just sold a cable cover for $11 I’d bought for $4, but I need to be thinking big.  I want to be one of those sellers who are selling $100-$500 a week, especially since I got laid off… oh right, I hadn’t mentioned that.  My boss gave me a two-week (technically slightly over since I talked him into letting me stay until May 15th) layoff notice.  I totally get it. This business is slow… (the commercial and residential appraisal service industry) and I’ve been bored a lot at work.  Previous to that he’d cut my hours from 31 to 12 a week.  Ouch.  Hard on the paycheck but I’m fine with it.  I really just want to stay home and be an entrepreneur.  I’ve been doing that for years but now it’s time to ramp it up and start selling those high end items.  I’m looking into unemployment to supplement my income, too.

I went to an Oregon ecommerce Meet-up meeting on Saturday to learn about selling on Amazon.  It was very informative and I got to meet some fun people.  I plan to go to more of those meeting in the future.  A few of them go to auctions in Woodburn.  One such outing was today but I couldn’t go since I’m working.  I guess they go all the time so hopefully I’ll get to go and learn the skinny on buying at auctions since I’m an auction virgin, lol.

I’m so happy we’re getting 80 something degree weather this week! Enough of the rain, clouds and cold… I’m not a native Oregonian when it comes to the weather I prefer.  Nope.  I’m a Cali girl through and through.  I’ll take the sun without the smog though, which is what we’ll get this week.  It should be beautiful.  And then I can clean my garage and see what else I can find to sell.

ebay store:  www.battenrougebargains.com

Amazon store:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/shops/storefront/index.html?ie=UTF8&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&sellerID=A17A42F9Q1BPKA

For the Love of Writing…

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Isn’t that a movie? “For The Love Of The Game” I believe is the title I’m searching for.  Obviously I’ve taken creative license with the title but you get the gist.  When you love something, you live it.

I love to write.  I thrive on it.  I’m thankful I’m good at it because my once hobby has become a way to make a living. Well, let’s be honest, I’m not making much money at it right now.  I’m not on anyone’s best seller list (that I know of) but I don’t care.  I do it because I love it not because I have to or need to. Would it be awesome to make beau coup bucks doing what I love? Well, sure and I’m promoting my current book to do just that, but in truth I’d write anyway.

I recall the line from the movie, “Sister Act II” where Whoopi Goldberg’s character says to Lauren Hill’s character, “If you can wake up in the morning and think of nothing else but singing, then you’re a singer.”  Well, that’s how I feel about writing.  It’s a part of me and without it I’m not me.

So last night instead of watching my regular Wednesday night shows, I sat down at my computer and spent hours re-writing and editing the first draft of my book and this time instead of stopping to do something else, I kept at it until I was finished.  It was close to one in the morning, but I finished! The first draft at least.  I was floating on air, filled with a deep sense of accomplishment and I actually enjoyed it! Let me clarify… as much as I love to write, I do not love to edit.  Editing can be tedious and well, tedious.  It’s boring trying to spot the typos and fragments and grammatical errors.  It’s not all that fun to delete words or change sentence structure, meaning or context either.  It’s my least favorite part but it’s also a necessary evil.  So when I flew through the last three chapters last night with relative ease, it was liberating.

So now what? I start all over again.  This 103,670 word (currently, that WILL change) novel will need to be read again and again and again and maybe yet again until I deem it perfect to be published.  Thank God for my beta readers.  They catch things that I do not.  Their eyes see things mine totally miss.  I’m grateful for them and could not live without them.  They put the shine on my otherwise tarnished product.

The exciting part is that I actually get to write again! A few months ago, I wrote several pages of the last novel of this three-part trilogy, but it’s all fragmented, in bits and pieces and I now need to fill in the blanks; make sense of A and C by inserting B.  It’s fun but also daunting.  This means that there is no room for writer’s block, uncertainty, indecision or “not being in the mood”.  I must surge forward and write and write until my fingers figuratively bleed and the words “The End” are typed for the final time.

In the words of Demi Lovato, “This Is Me” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aside

Meet my main characters

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So I just read a blog post about the author’s book’s main characters and thought I’d share my main characters, too.

Let’s start with my first book, “Fire In The Mix”:

Veronica Hunter

This is a picture of a Victoria’s Secret model but this is how I pictured Veronica.  Veronica is fiery, outspoken and independent, but she’s also somewhat innocent, damaged and lost.  Deep down all she wants is to feel worthy and be loved.  She hides behind the wall of hurt she’s created because of a man she’d deeply admired and respected crushed her dreams, but most importantly, her heart.  She won’t give in, even when the same man waltzes back into her life as if nothing happened.  She’s stubborn and resolute that he won’t stomp on her heart again.  But with time, Gabriel Savage opens her eyes that he’s changed and she can finally let the ice walls melt and her hardened heart thaw so she could finally obtain what she’s always wanted.

Gabriel Savage

This is my Gabriel or I wish he was! Another photo I “borrowed” from the internet.  Gabriel is a bad boy rock star. Women adored him and threw themselves at him.  He was used to getting what he wanted.  He took and didn’t care who got hurt.  It was his life–music, women and partying and it worked for him–for a while.  It had taken him to the top–his band and music were world renown, but there was always something missing and he didn’t know what it was until he ran into Veronica Hunter again.  He couldn’t remember her or their past at first–there had been so many women over the years–but when it came back to him, he knew that he’d have to atone for his past sins so he could have a future; a future with her.  If she’d only forgive him.

There are some other characters–Veronica’s ex-husband, Toby and her ex-best friend, Darcy and current best friend, Maryann and Gabriel’s best friends, Mitch and Jesse, but I’ll let you read the book to find out about them.

Fire In the Mix can be purchased on Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AQJ6XYC

Moving on to my current romance novel, “The Eyes of Alexander”

Aubrey/Aubriana Windsor

Aubriana300 The first photo on the left is a photo of Elizabeth Harnois from CSI and the photo on the right is a stock photo I’m using for my book cover.  I picture Aubrey to look like Elizabeth, but have the hair style and color of the model on the right. Aubrey is naive, innocent and gullible but is also independent, headstrong and not afraid to speak her mind. She’s not ready for a relationship yet because she’s concentrating on obtaining a career in the publishing field. But that all changes when she develops an overwhelming attraction to the man who interviews her; the wealthy owner and soon to be boss, Alexander/Xander Ayes.  Working for him, she’s suddenly faced with dealing with a man who’s complicated and cruel at times, and she won’t let him get away with it.  It’s an ultimate struggle between professional and passion, respect and desire, changing his harsh ways and learning how to grow up, and suddenly having a life she’d never dreamed was possible.

Alexander/Xander Ayes

This is the beautiful Australian model, David Gandy aka Alexander/Xander Ayes.  I wrote my character around this photo. This is Xander to the tee. He’s beautiful yet complicated, a man ravaged by his past, changed into a sometimes heartless, but brilliant boss and a insecure and damaged man by his cruel, abusive father.  He’d worked hard to become the successful businessman he was and he had no problem getting women, but he kept an arms-length from them, not wanting a marriage like his parents.  But when Aubrey Windsor exploded into his life, everything he’d known for a certainty was now uncertain.  She changed everything. Her beauty, her unfiltered mouth–she wouldn’t allow him to bully her like he did without everyone else–and the way she made him want to change, to be a better man for her. Her love transformed him into everything he’d never thought he could be.

I won’t share on Aubrey’s best friend and sister, Natalie, Xander’s best friend, Max or anyone else because again, you need to read the book.

The Eyes of Alexander can be purchased here:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA3J0NW

Writer Reader or Reader Writer?

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I need to be reading more.  As a writer, it’s imperative to be an avid reader.  It helps you to broaden your figurative horizons, hone your craft, and sparks ideas in your brain.  It also makes you smarter.  Yes, there have been studies.  No, I don’t have the statistics but I believe it.  I read that you can become an expert on a subject just by reading about it.  Well, I’m not sure that’s true–it’s all about how much you retain, but I do believe that you can increase your comprehension of many subjects depending upon what you read and how often.

I’m stuck “reading” a book right now that I only pick up occasionally and read a few pages here and there because it’s not grabbing me.  I will finish it eventually, but I’ve been too caught up in my own writing to accomplish that any time soon.  So maybe I need to read something else or something simultaneously that really grabs my attention? While perusing the “shelves” on Goodreads or Amazon or someone’s book blog, I find myself saying, “I want to read that and that and that…” and so on.  Mind you these are all romance novels, but that’s kind of my thing.  Not historical “bodice ripper” novels, but contemporary, smart, up-to-date yet old-fashioned love stories. Stories that are unique and fun though.  They can’t be unoriginal or unimaginative, they need to have that spark between the main characters that makes the reader (me) want to keep reading and reading until the last page has been turned.

I know I should branch out and read other genres like the classics or something educational, but I just can’t muster up the desire to do so.  Right now I’m reading what I write.  It’s my genre and I’m sticking to it.  For now.  Things change and I hope that in the future I’ll learn to go where I hadn’t dared to go before… into another realm, something new and different and exciting for me, but right now romance fulfills me so why change?

Now here comes the dilemma… time.  I’m a full time wife and mother, a part-time office manager, a part-time writer, a part-time ebay seller, a part-time blogger, a part-time proofreader/editor (or hoping to become one), part-time Internet freak (including emailing and researching), part-time house cleaner and home organizer, etc., etc.  All those part-times add up to full time where I don’t have a whole lot of time left to read one book, let alone two books.  But it can be done.  I’m a night owl.  I stay up late and can cram it all in. Oh and I also have “my shows” I’m addicted to watching on a daily basis.

But when it comes to reading, I need to challenge myself because when I see those book covers and read those synopsis’, I want to delve into those pages.  But will I? Only time will tell.