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CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS

Home at Last

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Did I have a GREAT trip to Arizona?

Is this the face of a tyrant?

You bet. No cancelled flights. No runway delays. And no wrong turns. Yay. I’ve been dying to get out of the house, too …kind of like Rollie, the little potato rocket pug I had the pleasure of doggie sitting.

He loves outside! I love his cuddles. And my kiddos loved taking a Las Vegas break from the rigors of a startup business. Yes, my oldest and youngest are wrangling a startup. We like challenges in this family. Work hard. Play harder.

Tired eyes, crazy hair, and a mask to hide the rest!

In the absence of grandchildren, young Master Roland–Rolando if you’re in a mood–put me through my paces. Not sure I could handle actual little people running around. Puppies are exhausting. (I’ve reached that play hard, poop out harder stage. LoL.) The wee spud took plenty of naps. Me, too. Easy enough to do in a sun drenched yard with no one the wiser. I miss his conspiratorial snorts already.

What have you been doing during 2020 zombie-time? Digging into a new business? Visiting family? Indulging hobbies?

Delicious to the touch!

I just delivered the crochet blanket I’ve been working on forever, too. Homemade gifts aren’t rushed. If you like this one made of Bernat Velvet Yarn, click the picture for the pattern available at Yarnspirations. The plush yarn is a joy to work with and heats your lap while you work. My computer is pulling that duty now but its time for bed. Jet lag has to end.

Write on!

 

 

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Author Interview Author Recommendation

Melanie Waterbury, first-time author, full-time woman, wife, mother, and devoted daughter.

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Who hasn’t talked about writing a book someday? I mean, seriously. At every party I’ve ever been to, with the exception of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey soirees, I’ve been entertained by those who “say” they want to write a book or will–someday.

Not to be confused with
writing a book!

Someday never comes as today is where we’re at, no matter what our wishes for the future. (That’s no slam against dreams or those who, for whatever reason, prioritize life and leave off those elusive words. Writing a book is no easy thing. Try it if you don’t believe me.

But I digress. My way and you know it. On to introducing Melanie Waterbury. Woman, wife, mother, and devoted daughter. Here’s a gal undaunted by life’s variety and the need to dig in her heels if she wants to accomplish something. (A successful marriage is no easy thing either :^)

Sweet INSTA-LOVE just when you need it most!

Her first novel–a novelette if we’re getting technical–is on the way. But Healing her Heart for the Holidays, included in SNOW IN LOVE: A sweet holiday romance collection, is NOT to be missed. Not if you’re into INSTA-LOVE and the magic that comes with close proximity and delicious misunderstandings at a stunning bed-and-breakfast. Add a dash of snow and overworked hero, and I’m snorking it down like gooey buttered popcorn.

Seriously, though, the hooks are there. But so are the tenderest moments and a heart-wrenching reality of what it means to overcome hardship that’s ongoing. You don’t want to miss this collection. At .99 cents for Melanie’s debut and seven additional sweet romance stories–mine included–you really can’t afford to. Even if romance isn’t your thing, this collection is nothing short of an instructional that, YES, it CAN BE DONE!

Onward. Being a recent home schooling empty nester, I’ want to know about family. Are they a help or a hindrance, Melanie?? I’ve avoided that question myself by way of the 5th amendment. (Don’t want to incriminate myself). But how about you?

Well I have four kids, so they are definitely a distraction, and possibly part of the reason I haven’t published anything until now. I love them, they are my life, but of course it also makes it hard to get dedicated time that I won’t be interrupted during to write.

You know that even if Dad is right there, they’ll come find you for whatever they need. Which of course means they know you’ll be able to help them and will help them, but still!

I hear EVERYTHING you’re saying, woman to woman. What’s your solution, Melanie? There are countless like us who, despite our beloved burdens, want to reach our goals sooner rather than later.

I’ve started trying to get up earlier than the kids to get things done but with two early risers, and of course they are the 4 and 2 year old, that’s not really a thing. Still, I’ve been managing to get things done around the chaos, especially since I’ve really committed myself to doing this.

Bon Bons–STAT!

Okay, so a combo of true GRIT and legitimate work arounds. Can’t be easy getting up earlier as I’m sure your work load demands far more wakeful hours than not. No bon bon eating chaise fainters in your house–mine neither, although I always fantasized about being Camille.

But now that you’ve broken that barrier–publication!!!–what’s on the horizon for you, Melanie? Books? Projects? Whatever? (Warning. Emptynesting former home-schooling moms tend to be nosy and pushy about encouraging others to reach for the stars!!)

Oh my gosh, I have a million things I want to do! But the one I grabbed at first was a romantic suspense I’ve been playing around with for a while. It’s about an action film start who is targeted by a fanatic cult and the female security specialist hired to protect him. It plays at insecurities about masculinity, and with both characters being an alpha there is some fun ways to go with it.

You had me hooked at fanatic cult. Masculine insecurities pings my radar, too, as again, helping others reach for the stars is what real women do. At least in my circle. No wonder we’ve gravitated toward the same tribe. So do tell, Melanie. More deets, please! How does this new suspense compare with Healing Her Heart for the Holidays?

I’m a John Wick WATCHER for sure. Bring on the BA hero and heroine who can take down and I’m there!

It’s definitely steamier than the novella for this collection as both hero and heroine are naturally more physical characters. And the fight scenes! My Dad raised me on action flicks so I love writing a fight scene. There’s going to be a lot of them, so if you like action and steam and high stakes danger, you’ll probably find this a good read.

It’s tentatively titled Chased Down, and I’m hoping to have it out shortly after the New Year.

Wow. A worthy goal and I LOVE your timeline. New Year, new career!

Okay, total fluff question next, Melanie. I always like to ask. Probably because I can never seem to answer myself. But what would you do if you won the lotto? A BIG LOTTO?

Looks GREAT to me!

 Oh I would buy a house. That’s our dream right now, to buy a house that’s big enough for our family. So it would be a big house but not a monstrosity. And we’d take a vacation to Hawaii because my Mom always wanted to go and my parents were trying to get a trip together as part of her bucket list, but she got too sick too fast and they couldn’t make it happen for her. So, my siblings and I have all committed to going in honor of her. Sorry, that’s a little sad, but it’s true.

Demure dynamo!

That’s not sad but a tribute to your mother’s successes. She obviously stirred love and loyalty in the hearts of her children. A very beautiful thing. Like the image I have of your mother–right now–being SO proud of your accomplishments. All of them. I know I am.

If you’d like to learn more about Melanie Waterbury, please, follow her on:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/melanie.waterbury

Twitter @MLWaterbury

Thank you, Melanie, and thank you readers for checking out the latest at Ann Malley Books. As always, feel free to follow me here for updates, inspirations, cationary tales, book news, and assorted rambling. You know I’m good for it.

If I can help one person avoid the pitfalls I’ve wasted too much time exploring, I’m GREAT. You reading my work is pure gravy, although I’ll admit I’m an addict. Some habits are impossible to break.

With shared prayers and well wishes for all of my readers. I’m SO grateful for each and every one of you who, I hope, is striving for his or her dream right this second!

Write on!

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Author Recommendation CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS Holiday Musings

Merry Christmas~and the very best of the season’s greetings to ALL!

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Let me start by saying THANK YOU for the well wishes, prayer, and positive thoughts offered for a happy family reunion. Las Vegas was the bomb. A complete success and an entree to more of the same–warm family gatherings where “being there” for each other is the top priority.

In between Black Jack successes — the Grinch is seriously blessed in this way — slot machines, “Staying Alive” with the Australian Bee Gees, and Beetles LOVE (an utterly amazing experience at the Mirage one must witness to believe), our family moved forward to a new understanding. A new bond of acceptance, support, and mutual appreciation. (That happens when you get old. LoL.)

Much like my experience here with my extended writer’s/readers community. Being real is so much better than the false fronts we too often come to believe we need. (I still have some old habits to shed, but I’m working on it ;^)

So here’s a taste of the fun we had:

It was “Club MO” that was the real success. The make-shift disco where we could “relive” the ’70s in boogie-nights fashion. LoL. If you get the chance to go–GO!
If you’re “into” Beatles, you’ll dig this. If you’re not, you’ll be awed by the visual, audio, experiential buffet that supplies something for everyone–even the marvel-seeker who has to see things to believe them!
Clara Bow–the “IT Girl” flapper of the ’20s–would turn heads today. And how! Visiting the Mob Museum’s speakeasy taught me something of my grandparent’s world–times change, but people don’t. If liquor ever got outlawed, I just may turn to bootlegging–it’s in the blood!

Of course, there was plenty of GOOD EATS! We dined at Sinatra’s at the Encore (The Vegas must have for the Paisan in all of us) and Gordon Ramsay’s Steak House at the Paris–if you’re into MEAT, this is the place to go. And the Mob Museum–a relatively new addition to the Vegas experience–proved to be highly educational.

The colorful display of softcover, hard-boiled mystery novels from HARD CASE CRIME in the Mob Museum gift shop touched my core.

FABULOUS introspection and character development. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

I absolutely love the straight-shooting, first person narratives of what “could” happen to a regular Joe in a big, bad city. HARD CASE is dedicated to revisiting the era of pulp fiction classics, providing reprints of cult classics from authors like Donald E. Westlake and new infusions by today’s talented authors–Stephen King to name a more popular contributor.

Books are a lot like people. You may not relate to every one, but each has a unique something to offer. A tale to tell. A lesson to teach. A voice Taking the time to listen–sans judgement–can be the best way to grow and find that elusive peace that we all seek this time of year. And all year round.

Thank you all. Merry Christmas. Peace be to you. And blessings for one all–all year long.

Write on!

Categories
CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS

To Burn or not to Burn!

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Wegmans where are you???

That’s my question. It all began – well, recently anyway – with a Friday fish quest. Youngest kiddo and I – that’s Nick aged 20 – set out early to Wegmans. A great place for food if you don’t get lost and hungry on the way. Needless to say, yours truly, driving our red Dodge Ram sans GPS got lost. I’m not admitting for how long, but it took me a while to heed Nick’s encouragement to retrace our route and head for Harris Teeter. Virtually down the street, a straight shot albeit a long one. (My son would make an excellent hostage negotiator, psychiatrist, etc., etc., etc. Brag off.)

What makes a good fish go bad? No comment — who am I to judge fish behavior?

Anyway, afternoon came and Greg—my beloved mattress thieving Grinch—fried up our catch of the day. Gak. That was my reaction coming down from my writing lair to a cloud of unmentionables. How could it be? The fish looked good. Nothing like the lurid aroma wafting up the stairwell crept over the counter when the fish-man smiled and wrapped it up. Like a good soldier, though, I proceeded to eat what was set before me. (I always do having been the youngest of eight.) To my delight, my husband admitted the fish was awful. Gag worthy. Both the tuna and the swordfish steaks. Thank God, my effort to down the stuff ceased. But…

The Grinch may be a brown-shoe sailor at heart, but he wears suits now–every day!

How could this be? I’d tried so hard to bring home the proverbial bacon. Suffice to say, after I trotted plastic wrapped lovelies out to the garbage can, I was burning. Not angry so much as frustrated. The house wreaked. The reminder of my failed quest lingered and I wasn’t going to stand for it. Greg wasn’t either. Getting lost all the time is bad enough, but when your husband barks Lysol like a Navy emergency drill it doesn’t make mom happy.

So, after the disinfectant, I lit up. That’s candles. Plumeria, Violet Fields, Honey Something, and a double-discount blue discount thingie that transformed everything. I was in control. Maybe out of control considering the odd combo of scents driving bad fish back to the sea. But it felt GREAT. It smelled fabulous. It still does as I’m on a burning roll.

But I ask you. Is it the benefits of aromatherapy working its magic here or am I simply gleeful about having a positive effect on my environment? To burn or not burn is now the question. Greg is on the verge of hiding candles. (He won’t admit that’s what he was doing when he removed the two I had on the kitchen counter and relocated them to places unknown until I asked.) Older daughter—Melanie my self-care angel—suggests the solution is a DIFFUSER.

Say what? I can get those lovely scents without reaching for my extendo-flex Bic lighter? I’ll be finding out. That is if Melanie decides to send that diffuser she insists will keep both Dad and I happy. The closet full of candle jars awaiting repurposing is overcrowded.

What do you use? Candles? Diffuser? An open window? What? Inquiring minds—those that rarely rest—need to know if only to mellow out and…

Write on!

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Dishing with Di

Dishing with Di: Home is where you hang your heart!

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Follow that flank steak!

America is a mobile nation.  We’re a people of wanderlust.  The reasons why vary.  Some are sound, some forced on us, often as a matter of survival.  Many tribes of the first people of America roamed along with the game they needed to feed themselves.  The Pilgrims braved an ocean voyage to get here, and pioneers moved ever westward to see what was over the next hill, the next valley.  Some wanted the adventure, some were seeking riches.  For the most part, all sought a better life.

Mainers are a slightly different breed.  Don’t get me wrong. Mainers want adventures, riches, a better life, and tend to find it–they make it in their own backyard.  Mainers sink their roots deep and rarely let go.

Try keeping your floors clean in a sod house!

My maternal great-grandfather had a severe case of wanderlust.  He was born in Maine.  As a young man he traveled to Ohio, married a local beauty, and off they went to Nebraska–by oxcart.  Their first two children were born there in a sod house.  Next they moved to another sod house in Colby, Kansas where they had two more children. 

I suspect great-grandmama was pregnant on the return to Maine since her fifth child, my grandmother, was born 16 months after her fourth.  They stayed put at least another six years as my Gram’s baby brother was born in the same town as she.  But great-grandpa still had itchy feet, and while he kept the family in Maine, he moved them a couple more times until he finally settled at the farm where I currently reside.

The farm is under the stewardship of great-grandpa’s grandson who was born and raised here.  Next door is my mother’s cousin, born and raised on the farm Gram’s baby brother owned.  That’s 94 years on the same parcel of land.  Another cousin, once or twice removed but dear to my heart, lives within two miles of the house where she was born and raised.  A childhood friend has always lived within a twenty mile radius of where she was born.  Another cousin lives in her grandmother’s house, around the corner from where she grew up.

You get the idea; once those roots are sunk, they go deep.

So, what’s an Oregon girl doing in Maine?           

I asked myself just that when it seemed Spring had forgotten New England last year.  When the humidity of summer turned my brain into a gelatinous mess, I begged the question again.  And, yes, I’ve experienced summer in the South.  Still, humid weather is rare in Oregon, especially in the southern part that’s been home to me for the majority of my life.

The boy next door–hello!

But I started life in Maine.  I was born in the same city as McDreamy actor Patrick Dempsey.  A couple decades before his time, but what’s a few years. Thirty IS just a number. LoL.  But by the time I was two, my dad had gotten a job in Boston, MA.  He went past Harvard on his way to work each day.  Paul Revere’s house was around the corner; Faneuil Hall a couple blocks away, as well as Breed’s Hill. 

Before all that history could sink in, Dad was transferred to Pasadena, CA, home of the Rose Bowl, and off we went. The Rose Parade occupied most of the city throughout the year, land of palm trees, and non-snowy winters.  I never became a typical SoCal girl.  Never surfed, didn’t speak valley, but I did learn to drive on those crazy freeways, which are even crazier today.

Married, with children, and after vacationing in southern Oregon my husband thought we should move there.  I thought we should move to Maine.  (What did I say about Mainers?) But Oregon became my home and I love it.  We had a few acres where we raised yearling steer, fattening them up over the summer on the rich grass of our pasture.  Not only did I learn to install irrigation pipe, but how to balance and move those 40 foot suckers to water that pasture.  I gardened and canned and loved the view of orchards spread around me.  And, realized much of my life reflected my Maine roots.

When in Maine make tennis racquets!

I’m happy with my hands in the dirt, be it growing something edible or food for the eyes and soul.  Sure, many of those who came before me had other occupations.  My great-uncle–C.A. Thompson– ran a hand-made wooden tennis racquet factory.  (The building still stands, housing a craft store!) A grandfather, uncles, and cousins who worked in the paper mills.  A grandfather and great-uncle who delivered mail.

The Rogue River

Oregon often makes me think of Maine, with much higher mountains. We have four actual seasons, with some slight differences. 

Spring comes in March, just like the calendar says so my favorite flower, lilacs, bloom a month earlier than in Maine.  Summers can be blistering hot, but dry.  All too often, too dry as noted by the number of wildfires.  Fall is gorgeous with clear blue skies on warm days, cool nights bringing a taste of frost, and leaves turning lovely colors.  Winters are rainy and cold (a matter of perspective!) with a touch of snow now and then.  There’s always snow on the mountains surrounding the Rogue Valley, having it on the valley floor is another matter with its own set of problems.  The snow doesn’t last for months and we never have to endure Mud Season.

People wave to each other as you pass by.  Neighbor helps neighbor.  Community activities bring us together.  Just like in Maine.  Some have deep roots in the West, but it’s a fact they’ll never be as deep as the East.

“MY” old house!

My daughter grew up in Oregon.  My grandchildren were born there.  It is home.  So, why am I 3,300 miles away? This was the first move that was my choice.  Sure, I bought a house after my divorce, but I remained in the area that was home.  People talk about bucket lists, and living in Maine was on mine. 

Moving to ME for ME!

I’d thought about it for over 40 years.  Could I rely on reincarnation to make that dream come true?  Seemed a better idea to take the chance and do it now.  You’re more apt to regret something you didn’t do, than something you did.

Moving across the USA I’ve connected with a network of cousins.  I’m learning more about those who came before me.  Discovering  the joy of driving down a twisty road with autumn leaves providing a canopy overhead.  Smelling the pines as I step into the woods.  Feeling the salt breeze on my face as I watch waves crash against the rocky shore.  Watching the snowflakes drift and swirl in a winter dance.  Hearing the snowplow making the road safe for us to travel.

Hey, cuz!

Much of that I could do in Oregon, except for the cousins.  Nor had I previously heard a snowplow.  My maternal roots can be traced back to the mid-1700’s.  It is these cousins who have welcomed me with open arms.  Cousins I barely knew and have become very dear to me.  Through them my circle of friends has grown.  Plus, I’ve had time with a childhood friend, time we never before experienced except when tweens.

There’s also the matter of the series I write, Men of Maine.  Never hurts to have a fresh eye, along with the other senses, on a locale you write about. (I wouldn’t say no to spying Patrick Dempsey up close and personal ;^) Still, my heart yearns for those loved ones in Oregon, and I will return.  My roots are spread wide as well as deep.

My daughter summed it up best: Maine is my spirit animal, Oregon is my home.

Write on!

Categories
Dishing with Di

Dishing with Di: Multi-published author Diana Tobin reveals the roots of inspiration in time for Christmas.

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Diana Tobin–perfect for the holidays!

Hey, Guys. Christmas is coming on like a freight train. My mind is reeling with things to do–and memories of Christmas past. I’m scheduled for a mini-family reunion in December, too. Las Vegas here I come. Bright lights, big city as the saying goes. So much to plan.

And the perfect time to recommend Di’s Christmas romances. Take it away, Di, and tell us again what brought you to pen your two holiday tales:

A few years ago I was privileged to have a Christmas story I’d written published, titled SANTA NICK.  I wanted to share with others the things my family and I did to celebrate the holidays in southern Oregon. 

The fun begins at Thanksgiving at Medford, Oregon’s Craterion Theater Gingerbread Jubilee.  This is not only a treat for the eyes, but also the delicious aroma of ginger and sweets amidst all the oohing and aahing. 

That same weekend the nearby historic Jacksonville, once the county seat, trims the town with cedar garlands, white lights, and a magnificent tree. Victorian carolers roam the streets as you enjoy cocoa or hot cider and warm up with roasted chestnuts.  Kids of all ages want a visit with

Father Christmas and often he can be spied walking about town, his faithful elves following.  For many years a man brought his matched pair of Belgian horses to pull a wagon giving rides around town.  Hearing the bells on their harnesses always brought a smile.

Providence Hospital’s Festival of Trees is usually held the first weekend of December, an annual fund raiser for this place of healing.  Trees are decorated in a variety of styles, colors, themes that can’t help but get you into the spirit of the season, not to mention wanting to try some of those ideas at home.  I twice had the honor of helping to decorate a tree for this event; once for the bank I worked for the year the festival came to Medford.  Again for the Southern Oregon Spartan Jr. Hockey team.  Entertainment, prizes, and a visit with Santa round out the festivities.

Naturally, there are school concerts and programs to attend as well as those put on by local theater groups.  A drive around the valley to see the many light displays homeowners put up is always a must.  The baking, too!  I like traditional cookies as well as trying a new recipe.  Exchanging baked goods with friends while trying not to sample too many at one time is tricky.  Christmas Eve I always baked what was traditional in my family, walnut roll for Christmas breakfast.  This is ground nuts mixed with honey and raisins and rolled up inside a bread dough–a legacy from my Slovak grandmother.

I don’t really have a recipe. (Isn’t that always the way with family traditions?) But here goes:

SLOVAKIAN WALNUT ROLL

Ingredients: A basic sweet roll dough, chopped walnuts, raisins, and honey.

I finely chop the walnuts, add raisins, and honey, so it’s a sticky mixture. Roll out the dough like for cinnamon rolls, spread nut mixture, roll up and bake. Maybe 375* @20-25 min. YUM!

We can’t forget the shopping, the wrapping, and placing all the goodies under the tree.

But, I write romance.  I like those happy endings, no matter how much the couple suffers getting there.  So, I needed more than just fun holiday traditions.  Remembering what a friend of mine had to deal with got my writer’s brain spinning.  She was pregnant with her second child when her husband was killed in an auto accident while in the company of another woman.  A woman he was giving more than a lift home.  I had my heroine, Jenny.

Jenny’s marriage was nearly doomed from the beginning when she becomes pregnant.  Impending fatherhood does little to improve the marriage, which is proven when her husband is killed in a car accident while with his latest mistress.  Jenny is doing her best to raise her daughter, Faith, but has to deal with a ditzy interfering mother-in-law.

Getting into the spirit of the season, Jenny and Faith decide to have a fun day in Jacksonville where they meet Father Christmas, aka Nick St. Clair.  Nick pretty much falls for the two females on sight, but Faith’s Christmas wish clinches it: she wants Santa to bring a husband for her mother.

Nick knows he’s the man for the job.  He wants to be a loving husband to Jenny and a father to Faith, but first he has to help heal Jenny’s heart so she can accept the magic of Christmas and Santa.

As for my friend who inspired this story, she, too, got her happy ending, a number of years later.

Earlier this month my second Christmas story was published, CHRISTMAS WISHES, which is part of my Men of Maine series.  Single mother, Claire, wants to give her daughter, Grace, the best Christmas ever by starting their own traditions.  Dr. Marc Baxter is more than willing to help by sharing his family’s traditions, along with some ideas he has for them to celebrate being together.  The cover of CHRISTMAS WISHES shows Claire wrapped in a quilt I made.

Both are available at Amazon now:

http://bit.ly/DIANATOBIN

I hope you enjoy both of my holiday books and I wish you all the best for the season and the New Year!

THANK YOU, Di. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, or both, there’s much to glean from seasoned women sharing their stories and all the ingredients that make for a complex, satisfying life.

Write on!

Categories
Author Interview

Sit-down with Diana Tobin: Series star of Fire Star Press

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It may be drizzly outside. Snowing. You may be reeling from Black Friday blow back or tucking into Thanksgiving leftovers. But a sit-down with today’s guest, multi-published Fire Star Press romance author and dear friend Diana Tobin, is exactly what your weekend needs if forging ahead with a smile and success is what you’re into.  

Her latest book, Christmas Wishes: Men of Maine Book 6, a contemporary tale with a personal connection to Di’s Webster, Maine roots, is due out December 4th. (Pre-order on Amazon.)

“Quiltmaker Claire Stone and her young daughter, Grace, are newcomers to the small town of Webster, Maine. Erasing the past is something Claire is determined to do, for divorcing her cruel ex-husband was the only solution to save herself and her daughter—and she’s never regretted it. But when she meets handsome Marc Baxter, the attraction is instant, and she begins to realize what she’s missed in life—someone to care for her…someone to care for.”

Who couldn’t relate to Claire’s dilemma? Small town dramas are anything but small and often the most moving as they strike close to home . . . and heart.

Di knows all about hearts. That’s what comes from meeting challenges and never surrendering. And while reading up is great, its Di’s penchant for passionate living that lends itself to the complex characters, compelling tension, and meaningful characters that keep readers turning pages.

Carpenter’s Wheel Quilt

Her quest for continued improvement has resulted in some fine quilts, too. And critical takeaways on what strong women—when faced with life’s lovelies—should do to create a better sense of self. Inside and outside the world of fiction.

So who is Diana Tobin?

I’m a grandmother, mother, aunt, cousin, friend, writer, and crafter.  Yes, they’re listed in order of importance.  Family is everything to me, whether it’s through blood or friendship. Career-wise I’ve been a banker, teacher’s aide, cake decorator, secretary, and published author.  It’s that last one I’m most proud of. (I love that about Di.)

You write romance, but what is “your” message?

My message is this; with love, being honest with yourself and those you care about, you can accomplish most anything.  Love can bring about miracles.  It doesn’t cure everything and sometimes isn’t enough, especially if you’re the only one feeling it. But we all need that hope, that feeling, that someone, that knowledge that some being loves us. 

This means you need to love yourself.  Know you are worthy of what others give to you.

I write romance because I like happy endings.  I thought I’d grow old with the love of my life in a place my children and future generations would want to come home to.  That didn’t happen for me, mostly because the “love of my life” turned out to be something entirely different.  I give my characters their happy ever after.  Fortunately, for me, I have a wonderful daughter, son-in-law, and amazing grandchildren.  And, with each book, I have a hero I can dream of. (And so do we, Di. Thank you. Lending hope and the example of happily ever after is an effective love that often supplies where others fail.)

How does family play a role in your work?

Family means a lot to me, which I’ve pretty much stated.  We don’t always like who we’re related to, maybe we don’t even love them, but family is the foundation.  We can choose to accept our foundation as our due, or punishment, depending.  Or we can use it to learn from, appreciate what we have, and improve upon things.

I’ve used many family names in my series.  My characters don’t reflect their namesakes as much as paying homage to those who came before me.  Starting with my first published book KISSING COUSINS.  The heroine is named Augusta, the name my mother grew up with.

Give us a quick rundown of your body of work.

My work is about ordinary people who are extremely lucky to find THE ONE for them.  Sometimes I have to hit them over the head before they realize it, but they end up with that one that makes everything else worthwhile. I’ve seen relationships like the ones I write about, so I know they aren’t all fiction.  That being said, I do incorporate things that have happened to me, or others, and expand on them.  Many around me say or do something then look at me and ask, “Is that going to end up in a book?”  My answer is always a smile (or is that smirk?) and reply, “It’s possible.”

Take us through your writing day, your process.

I consider myself an undisciplined writer, although I’m always thinking, and wondering, questioning even when my fingers aren’t on a keyboard.  When I’m doing the actual writing, I have an idea where things will go, but often my characters don’t pay attention.  Since it’s their story, I usually go where they lead.  There are times I write until my body protests. At other times, I’m beating my head against the proverbial wall, hoping my fingers will make words magically appear. 

In all fairness, these past 18 months have been more about absorbing the setting of my series.  The scent of the air, how it really feels to be trapped in a blizzard, the joy of driving down a twisting road with trees hanging over it, seeing deer scamper through the woods.  A squirrel peering through the window, begging for a treat.  The sound of a snow plow going down the road in the dark.

What has Di’s Maine Men taught you about yourself?

I’ve learned I know more about the state of my birth than I thought, but I now have a greater appreciation for Maine. Mainers are a hardy breed; they have to be to endure winters that last toolong and a spring that zips into summer. Mainers are steeped in tradition; some good, some not so much.  Westerners are also hardy.  Think of those pioneers traveling across rivers, dry desert land, and over mountains. But I think westerners are more open to new ideas, or maybe we’re just crazy enough to try first and think about it later.

My daughter summed it up best.  She said Oregon will always be my home (I’ve lived there the majority of my life), but Maine is my spirit animal.

What would you like other women to know/learn?

Women, especially my generation, were taught to take care of others before themselves.  We need to move ourselves up the line.  No Prima Donnas, no need to be self-centered, but we must realize we matter. What we think is important.  I believe our daughters and granddaughters have a better handle on that.  Let’s make sure they don’t lose their self-worth.

What’s next on your horizon? Include crafting adventures, daytrips, we want to know it all!

After moving to Maine I’ve been learning to quilt.  In fact, one of my quilts is on the cover of my next release, CHRISTMAS WISHES. (Available for pre-order on Amazon!

I assumed, incorrectly, quilting was only about the blankets to keep us warm. It’s that and more: table runners, bags, purses, wall hangings, whatever you can imagine.  I’ve discovered I like to do hand applique. 

Totes Anyone?

I’ll continue sewing.  Let me just add that quilters are among the most welcoming of people.  Willing to share ideas, tips, even fabric.

(Di just learned how to make fresh wreaths today!)

My trips around the state will continue, as weather allows.  I’ll never see enough, but will do my best until I return to my family in Oregon.

What would you recommend to new writers/established writers?

I’m going to recommend to writers what my hero, Nora Roberts,told me years ago: join Romance Writers of America.  This group is an excellent source of learning and networking.  Read, read, read, and then read some more.  Read the genre you want to write for.  Read other genres tokeep your brain stimulated.  Write the story in you.  Not what your friend saysto write, or your mother, or the man on the street.  Be open to ideas, suggestions, but remember that you have to write what’s inside you.  Listen to those voices in your head.

Where can reader’s best connect with you? Social media, etc.

I have a Facebook page: Di’s Maine Men, where I talk about my books and experiences in Maine.  You can also find my books on my page at Amazon; Amazon.com/author/dianatobin.

So now you have the skinny on Diana Tobin. An insight into the active pursuit of HEA that, whether you’re a writer, reader, or both, you can follow. She’s got me thinking. She always has. Thanks, Di.

Write on!

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Feed me, Seymour!

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No, we’re not talking Little Shop of Horrors. Not yet anyway.

My kidlings—even when newly sprouted—sensed when mom needed a break. Especially from the game of seeing who could get me to go ballistic first. Sadistic? Maybe. I sure thought so at the time.

WARNING: Homeschool horrors will trickle out on this writer’s blog.

And yet my offspring’s mood-meter helps me to no end. (Could be the kids just want the brownie dinners that result from such episodes. All that chocolate gooey-goodness, spiked with walnuts and a frosty glass of moo. Oldest daughter Melanie is a self-care guru for good reason. Being reared in the trenches does that ;^)

Yesterday, that instinctive savvy helped me tackle driving anxiety and head to the Smithsonian Art Museum. (Nick, my youngest, needs to prove he was “at” the museum for a college survey in art history. Oh, the blessings of needs must.)

I’ve been there before–needing to go where I’d rather not. I’ve navigated roadway pretzels from California, Oregon, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, New York and everywhere in between. Driving on the wrong side of the road in Ireland nearly got me creamed long before midlife. And yet, without fail, the D.C. beltway hits me like a night terror—zooming off unfinished bridges, traffic jams that morph into Black Hawk terrorist extractions in broad daylight, etc. But I digress.

I did it! We did it!

I told the goddess–and our somber clad predecessor–to buy their own lunch. I’ll feed myself by facing fears and doing something fun. With people who still love me despite all that togetherness. Yeah!

The traffic wasn’t too bad either. (Easy to say now when I’m not in it.)

The kiddos had fun.

Middle child is still engaged in covert ops which precludes her from being featured in any of my blog posts. Go figure. There was no aversion to hopping in my back seat, though. (It’s all about stages, people.)

Anyway, it was fun. I’m glad I went. I want to do it again. I NEED to do this again. Maybe take the Metro. That’d be blog-worthy…or just my way of sharing the journey of getting past what bugs you so you can do what you feel like.

Write on!