International Women’s Day, March 8, is a day to celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness, and to highlight gender parity gains. Parity is defined as: Equality, the state or condition of being equal, especially regarding status or pay. International Women’s Day is a celebration of how far we’ve come, as well as a chance to improve our situation.
Love on the Line, my fourth novel, is the story of a women’s struggle to find balance and equality in a career where women are rare; where her size and even her appearance, can derail what she hopes to achieve.
Andrea is fresh out of college, from a small town, and has never been away from home. Her estranged grandfather, Buck, offers her a job as his assistant engineer building a pipeline, and she jumps at the chance to try something different. But there’s more to the story. A long-standing rift has divided her family, and Andy is anxious to find out more about her grandfather and his job, without alienating her mother. She also doesn’t expect to be attracted to a coworker.
Our story as women isn’t about just our career choices, but also about being accepted, and balancing our work, our family, and our relationships. In the book, Andy, encounters plenty of resistance, but she also finds a way to contribute her unique point of view and keep a sense of her femininity, while becoming an accepted and valuable member of the team.
It’s fairly easy to find things we want to accomplish in this life, but being a woman throws us a different set of challenges, be that finding a bathroom, being smaller in stature, or even being denied positions of influence. So how do we cope, while still making progress toward our goals? We keep working at it! We offer our unique perspective and give a hand up to other women. We speak up and we participate, no matter who thinks we should not.
I hope on March 8th you celebrate the achievements of women world wide, as well as the women in your life. Take this day to see us ladies as a vital force in the universe, continually moving forward. Celebrate our unique abilities, and speak up and be heard!
And don’t forget to read Love on the line. :)
Leaning into the electric drill, Katherine watched as the screw unwound from the corroded metal trim edging the vintage camp trailer. She stopped just short of the screw dropping, to expertly slip one hand under the drill. The screw fell into her palm and she reached to open her hand over the plastic yogurt container on the rolling cart, then turned her attention to the next screw in the long row.
Burt wiped his hands on a rag and shuffled across the garage. “That trim is more delicate than it looks,” he said. “I don’t like to let it sag while I work.”
Another screw dropped into the container and Katie straightened, leaning back to survey her work. “Makes sense,” she muttered, unable to keep from cringing at the million screws left in trim of the 1954 Anderson trailer. Even though she was catching on quickly, she’d likely still spend most of the day simply removing trim. Burt had explained that this was the first step of removing the outer skin of the camper, and it had to be done.
Three days ago when they started, she’d been shocked to learn they would be stripping her newly purchased camper down to the wood studs. Somehow the word restore didn’t seem like it should mean completely disassemble.
She dropped another screw into the yogurt cup, determined to pick up her pace. The more Burt told her about trailer restoration, the more she wanted to get on to the next step.
Puffing out a long breath, Katie wiped her forehead once more. “Half the joy is in the ride,” her mother used to say. “Slow down, don’t just focus on the finish line or you'll miss everything along the way.”
With a frown she leaned into the drill once again. Her mother was gone, and the work needed to be complete so she could get this camper down the road. Her new glamping park wasn’t going to build itself.
Hometown Girl Again- COMING SUMMER 2018!
“That looks good to me,” Bobby said, tilting his head to one side. His breath wafted around him then was wisped away in the stiff breeze.
Chad pulled the rope tighter across the truck bed, wondering if he should make another pass across the Christmas tree for good measure.
“Seriously, I’m ready to go, it’s cold,” Bobby continued with his teeth chattering. “We’ve been out here for hours.”
Stepping back to survey his tie-down job, Chad scoffed. “It has not been hours.”
Bobby pushed up his thick glasses with the knuckle of his red index finger, offering only a sniff in response.
Chad decided the nine-foot tree was secure, so he motioned for Bobby to get in the pickup. Julia would be pleased that he’d found a nice tall, full Christmas tree.
Soon the truck was heading down the dirt road of the Christmas tree farm toward the highway. Chad glanced toward the little man in the passenger seat. “Are you warming up?”
Bobby shrugged and shifted in his seat, holding his fingers out to the heater vent.
Chad arched one brow and glanced both ways before pulling onto the highway. Bobby had been antsy all morning, something was up. “Who put a burr under your saddle?” he asked.
“A burr?” Bobby asked, scrunching his nose.
Chad shook his head, resigned to let Bobby be Bobby.
Finally the truck pulled up in front of the restored Victorian home that Chad and Julia called home. The passenger door flew open and Bobby jumped out almost before the truck came to a full stop.
“Slow down Bobby!” Chad hollered, concerned about the little man. But Bobby was already around the back of the truck untying the ropes holding the Christmas tree. By the time Chad put the truck in park and caught up, the ropes were a tangle of knots.
“What the—” Chad started, but he knew better than to expect an answer from Bobby. Pulling a deep breath in through his nose then blowing it out his mouth, he worked to remain calm. Bobby was definitely in fine form. Ready to try again, he took the tangled rope from Bobby. “Go on inside and see if Julia is ready for the tree.”
“Okay!” Bobby cheered, then sprinted across the snow-covered lawn, leaving deep boot prints behind him. With a clatter he was across the porch and through the door, dropping the gingerbread-trimmed screen behind him with a bang. “Miss Julia…” his voice rang from the house.
About the time Chad got the rope untangled and the tree freed, Bobby was back.
“She’s ready,” he wheezed, holding one hand to his chest as he gasped. His breath puffed around them like a cloud.
Chad opened the tailgate and motioned for Bobby to get the top of the tree, then he gave the trunk a good hard tug.
Misunderstanding Chad’s instruction, Bobby ran behind him to the other side of the truck bed, completely missing the top of the tree as it slid off the tailgate and onto the ground.
The jolt of the tree dropping to the driveway caused Chad to jerk to a stop and nearly drop the trunk end. “Bobby!” he bellowed.
“I got it, I got it,” Bobby cried, bending down, but he couldn’t seem to find a good handhold on the prickly tree.
Chad glanced over his shoulder, working to keep a hold of the weighty trunk. “What are you doing back there?”
Flustered, Bobby finally tugged the tree up from the driveway and tucked it under his arm. Wanting to make up for lost time, he hurried across the yard, passing Chad in the process, pivoting them to face the wrong direction.
“Bobby!” Chad thundered, clomping a hole in the snow as he spun, grunting and grappling with the tree truck.
“Sorry,” Bobby called, continuing his momentum to run a full circle around Chad until the older man was once again in the lead and they faced the house.
When they reached the porch, Chad paused to heft the tree up and head up the steps, but Bobby didn’t stop. Shoved from behind, Chad fumbled up the steps, barely managing to keep his footing and carry the tree. “Bobby, stop!” he thundered, bringing the other man to a stop just before the tree trunk rammed through the screen door. “What is the matter with you?” Chad shouted over his shoulder as Julia hurried to open the screen door.
“I’m cold,” Bobby grumbled, dancing from one foot to the other. “Let’s get this thing inside!”
Chad glance d at Julia and rolled his eyes, then gave the tree a solid tug to fit the fat bottom branches through the doorway. Bobby rushed in behind him like a caboose, and Julia closed the door.
Julia pointed toward one corner of the living room turned flower shop. “I have the spot all ready.”
Before Chad could take a step, Bobby rushed forward, causing the men to drag the tree over the back of the sofa.
Julia worked to cover her grin as boots shuffled on the hardwood floor and the men grunted and cussed, wrestling the tree back into position. In the corner, Chad bent to place the trunk of the tree into the stand Julia had prepared. Grunting and straining under the tree, he tightened the screws. "How does it look, is it straight?" his muffled voice called, and only his rear end showing under the branches.
The second the evergreen was upright, Bobby turned to Julia. “Can we have those cookies and hot chocolate now, Miss Julia?”
Julia grinned. “Sure, come on into the kitchen.”
Bobby let go of the tree and hurried toward the kitchen, gabbing excited to Julia about finding the tree.
“Bobby? Julia?" Chad called from under the tree…
Gloria pulled up behind the house and puffed out a long breath. Her shift at the spa had been a busy one and her feet ached like the dickens. Tugging her keys from the ignition, she shook her head, remembering Beatrice’s visit that afternoon. Lizzie’s mother had a way of dominating the scene.
As she stepped out into the chilly November evening, Gloria chuckled at the thought of Beatrice marching into the spa like a bomb hitting its target. The woman had the tact of a steamroller.
A gust of wind whipped a lock of curly red hair into Gloria’s face, making her shrug deeper into her coat and pick up her pace toward the house. No sleeping dogs obscured the back step tonight, she noted. Fergus must have let them in to sleep in the mudroom. “What a softy,” she murmured, shaking her head.
Cautiously she stepped in, navigated past the sleeping dogs, and closed the back door, keeping the creeks to a minimum. Tiptoeing, she headed through the living room and quietly opened her bedroom door. Snoring sounds came from her Grandfather's room across the hall, so she relaxed, relieved that she'd not disturbed his sleep.
In her room, she shook off her coat, then used one toe to pry the other heel from her winter boots. Dropping onto the end of her bed she huffed out another long sigh as she watched her stocking-clad toes wiggle, enjoying freedom from the heavy boots.
It was guilt-free crafting in her mind, because she needed a planner. It was practical. Unlike her card making, which had to be vigilantly controlled or the time and funds spent went wild.
She flopped back onto the bed to stare up at the cracked ceiling. Christmas was starting to pop up everywhere, like flowers in the spring. Soon the community would be eyeball deep in decorations and holiday activities. She loved Christmas and normally looked forward to the hubbub and chaos, but this year…
See more about the upcoming pageant craziness, along with a whole new Hometown Series romance in the novel Christmas in Smithville, coming soon to Amazon.
The sewing machine hummed and buzzed and Gloria bent closer, watching carefully as she fed the fabric past the flashing needle.
“There!” she exclaimed in relief as she held up the child size dress. All she had left to do was the hem, and it would be finished. The old clock on the mantle dinged, announcing that she didn’t have time to waste, so she folded up the dress and tucked it into the box by her feet with the others. This was the last dress for the package going to the homeless shelter in Uniontown, and once she hemmed it, she could concentrate on Christmas sewing.
“Christmas pageant…” she muttered under her breath, worrying again about the upcoming gathering.
She'd heard talk that Smithville was considering a pageant to earn money for a new community center, and she was sure she’d be asked to make costumes. Although she loved sewing, it would definitely take a huge bite out of her own Christmas sewing time, not to mention shopping, card making, and baking time.
“Who am I kidding,” she huffed, knowing full well that she wasn’t bothered by the time it would take. It was the other women at the meetings that had her on edge...
My latest book, Love on the Line, is the story of Andy, a woman who chooses to work building a pipeline in the rugged mountains of West Virginia. Why did I write about this? I wrote it partly because I was inspired by the experiences of my own daughter who entertained me with many of her personal experiences as a pipeliner. But I also wrote it because I too chose to work in a male dominated field back in the day. Some of the struggles of women in these fields are upsetting, but many are inspiring and funny, thus perfect material for the kind of books I love to write. Just because not many women choose to do it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, right?
More than any time in recorded history, women are choosing to work in male dominated fields. Every day you come across a woman truck driver, firefighter, or pharmacist. And even though it’s become commonplace, many fields stick with their traditional titles such as policeman, draftsman, and even garbage man. Given this plus the infamous glass ceiling, why would a woman choose to spend their entire career fighting an uphill battle? There are a million reasons, but overwhelmingly, the answer I find is “because I want to” or “because the job appealed to me,” or “My dad and grandpa did it, why shouldn’t I?”
When was the idea planted for women to take the jobs they wanted, even if they were traditionally considered only suitable for men? Some would say with Eve, but both folklore and history are filled with women who not only worked at the jobs they pleased, they ruled societies: Joan of Ark and Cleopatra, to name a few. In Victorian times, women who wrote were forced to use a male pen name or work without recognition. But the women of my grandmother’s generation were forced to work at jobs considered appropriate only for men during world war II. They worked everywhere from factories to the fields. Sadly, after a taste of the liberation a paycheck affords a person, these women were expected to quietly step back into the kitchen once the men came home.
My mother’s generation, were blessed with not only their mother’s experiences, but all manner of modern conveniences which allowed them to clean and cook and generally care for their families in a fraction of the time it took their mothers. Many of these women took it upon themselves to “have it all” and step out into the working world, and not just as nurses and schoolteachers. Their bravery gave the women of my generation the encouragement and conviction that we too could plan a career. However, we quickly learned that we couldn’t be super mom and have a demanding and time consuming career without a shift in attitude, and this shift had to come from the men. The change had to happen not just because of the aforesaid glass ceiling on the job, but because we needed help at home.
Do I think only women who work have value, and somehow women who don’t work away from home are lesser somehow? Of course not! In my lifetime I have been a stay at home mom, a sick in bed mom, a full time student mom, an employed full time mom, and a retired mom. All of those words we put on women are pointless when you realize that we are in this together, and we should be supportive and understanding, no matter what roll you chose.
So, take a moment this summer to grab a copy of Love on the Line. Then curl up in a corner with a cup of coffee and prepare yourself for a heartwarming story filled with feminine strength, challenge, bravery, friendship, and romance.
Do you like romance novels? If so, do you like the story line where the poor sweet heroin needs to be rescued or saved by the handsome hero? I’ve read my fair share of these books, and sometimes they’re fun; especially on a hormonal day, or if you’re feeling vulnerable. but on the whole I want a story that feels bit more realistic.
Okay, granted, it’s a romance novel, so realistic isn’t going to happen per se, but I want to read about a woman who could be real. Someone I’d like to have coffee with, not a woman that wants to go in the dark basement, alone, with a killer on the loose. Nor do I want to read about a woman who needs (or wants) a man’s money.
Having said all that, what makes a female character in a novel more realistic? I’d say, first of all, she has to be at least a little bit moody, because lets face it, as women, we are a moody group. Not in a bad way, but in a keeping-things-interesting kind of way, right? And this woman needs to be able to change her mind for no sane reason, just because things aren’t feeling right. Then if she wants to, she can change it back!
Next, I like a woman with a plan. A lady who knows what she likes and needs, or at least thinks she knows. That is the fun part, because when it comes to romance, most of the time we are attracted to men who are not what we think we want or need, am I right?
And finally, I like to read about a woman who has to make allowances and let herself fall in love. She has to consider changing her career plans, or her financial goals, or she has to realize she has some hang-up that she needs to get over. Because let’s face it, that’s how love really works for women in this day and age. We have to face the fact that we will never fall in love with the perfect guy, at the perfect time, on our way to the perfectly planned ending. Love is messy and confusing and painful, in the most delicious sort of way. Love for ladies in the new millennium is gut wrenching, and tedious, and as wonderful as ever.
So here’s to romance novels with leading ladies who saves themselves, so they can ride happily into the sunset with a man they’ve never dreamed of!
As I prepare to launch my new romance novels, The Girl Power Series, it’s given me the opportunity to think about what it means to be a woman in the twenty first century. Women now days have endless lifestyle and career options, thanks to the strong and ingenious ladies of centuries past, but what do all the opportunities open to us really represent? How have the changing times altered women’s perceptions and concerns?
In the last two or three decades women face different obstacles than generations before, or do they? Surprisingly, I see my daughters struggling with some of the same issues that I stressed about. How can I afford to further my education? What types of work do I enjoy? What are my careers options? What type of relationships do I want? Do I want to have children, if so when? How will I manage birth control? Will my baby’s father/my partner stand by me and be a good provider of love, support, and time? Will I be able to manage relationships and my own needs? How will I manage a work schedule and family/relationships? Will my career path interfere with my relationships? I’m not sure if my mother or her mother worried as much about career options, but this meant they must have been much more stressed about their relationships and how the men/partners in their lives supported them and their children. Girls way back in my day were taught to have a career as a plan B, just in case things went south with their husband’s career. Now our careers are plan A.
If we have more possibilities these days, how has that affected us? Once again, the answer is a bit surprising because, from what I can see, one of the outcomes of having so many options seems to be added stress. Sure, I now have the ability and opportunity to become a neurosurgeon, but how will that choice cascade down through all my other concerns about relationships and family? Will I be accepted in that field as woman? Even though women now realize, and even envision, being better educated, well traveled, and making far more money than our mothers or grandmothers may have dreamed, that doesn’t make it any easier to do so while balancing the demands of a family. Plus, as we are learning, women’s health is a big part of being successful. And due to our unique and finely tuned balance of hormonal and feminine needs, it takes time, money, and effort just to stay healthy.
With all this in mind, I started writing The Girl Power Series. As with my other books, I like to find the humor we encounter along the way as we plod through life, career, family issues, and love, but I also enjoy writing about ladies who are learning about themselves as they go. Oftentimes, we women are our own biggest enemies when it comes to falling in love. Add the fun of dropping a strong-willed leading lady into a rewarding career that is still managed by the good-ol-boy network, and watch the sparks fly!
Enter Andrea, the main character in the first Girl Power novel Love on the Line. She can’t stomach even one more day of graduate school. She’s not sure what her problem is, but she knows she needs to get out of the classroom and into the world. Her estranged grandpa Buck as offered her the opportunity to join him engineering a pipeline through the mountains of West Virginia, so uncharacteristically, she takes the bait to try her hand at working in the untamed forest, also snagging the chance to learn more about the grandfather her mother despises. Follow Andy as she finds hidden inner strength, finds family secrets, and earns the respect of her coworkers in a wilderness where few women dare to venture. Laugh at her silly mistakes and cheer for her successes, as she finds her way in what has always been considered a man’s job. And I dare you not to fall for the cocky, handsome, hardworking-hunk of man who draws her eye.
Looking forward, I plan to continue the series with more stories about women finding a way to make their mark in unexpected places. If you have ideas of better yet, personal experience that would make a great story line for a book in the series, please send me a note. I’d love to create a fabulous and romantic tale based on how you survived and thrived in an ever-changing world!
Love a good romance novel? Me too! Let’s take a look at those of us who buy, read and maybe even write romance novels, and see what makes us tick.
According to sources such as Romance Writers of America, Nielsen Books & Consumer Tracker, romance novels are a multi-billion-dollar industry, holding over thirteen percent of the literary industry total sales. Think about that for a minute. Cook books, self help, travel books, non-fiction such as biographies, current events, and history, crafting, religion, how-to books, all of those books and yet romance stands strong as an established market in the literary world. There must be something magical about a great romance to be so competitive, but then we knew that, didn’t we!
It probably comes as no surprise that eighty-four percent of romance novels are bought and read by women ages thirty to fifty-four, but it may surprise you to learn that fifty percent are still sold in paperback form, followed closely by e-books at forty percent. Or maybe it would shock you to learn that sixty-four percent of those ladies read more than one romance novel each month. Maybe not. I know most of my readers read my books within just a few days. We can all agree that nothing is as fun as a fantastic page-turner that you just can’t put down.
What are the top romance subgenres we love to read? It appears that no matter whether you like your books in print format or e-book, suspense is a key factor. We all want a happy ending, but we want a little anticipation as to how that will happen. The most popular subgenera type appears to be contemporary romance holding around fifty percent of the market, followed by a relative tie between historical romance and erotica. Paranormal, young adult and Christian romance hold their own as well, in the twenty to thirty percent range.
According to studies, we like to read about friends turned lover, soul mates facing their fate, second chance love, secret romance, and first love; in that order. We also want to read stories with strong hero and heroine leads, reunited lovers, love triangles, and of course, sexy billionaires. Again, no big shock there for those of us in the romance world.
What other types of books do romance reads like to buy? It appears that we also have a taste for mystery, general fiction, and cooking/food books. Want to feel old? Stats broken down by age show that a majority of older readers buy mysteries, and younger readers buy young adult and erotic fiction. Once again, not too shocking, especially for those of us inching up there in age, it just makes sense.
In this age of Amazon Prime, how do most romance readers purchase their books? According to the stats I found (some were admittedly a few years old) most of us still find books in bookstores, but more and more ladies are beginning to buy books online. Many of us still us the library, and a growing number of women are downloading books in e-book form. Some of us trade books we love with friends, relatives or book clubs, while some busy ladies are reading books on their phone. When I was a young mother I belonged to a book subscription and got books in the mail each month. That was always a happy day, followed by several days of ignoring housework. Now days we have the option to subscribe to e-books or audio books as well.
What makes us choose one book over another? According to most stats, we love a romance with a good story, followed by reading anything by our favorite author. Price and reviews come into play next, followed by reading books because they are a part of a series. The trailing reasons we select a book are the back cover blurb, cover art, social media recommendations, bargains, and endorsements.
What do you think is a fair price for a book? Pre e-book, the only free books I ever read were from the library, but now free books are everywhere. Even books that are normally priced, are sometimes offered free or for less than a dollar in e-book form. According to sources such as Amazon and Neilson, most of us consider six dollars a fair price for a romance novel. I know my novels are priced under five dollars in e-book format, but due to the price of printing, my paperbacks run closer to ten dollars. These days it’s hard to be competitive in the print market unless you are a traditionally published, well-known author.
So there you have it, the world of romance novels according to statistics. Does this agree with your preferences? How do you find good books and why do you choose the ones you read? I’d love to hear from you!