Five things I thought about during my morning run:

1. Man what a night, up and down with these crazy headaches. Finally, the medicine kicked in and I feel a huge relief.
2. Tess went back to school After a week of Spring Break, she became sick on Saturday night. Took her to the dr. yesterday. Strep.
3. Saffron.
4. Malice Domestic. I am excited, nervous, but I can’t wait to see my friends that I’m staying with.
5. Scrapbook of Shadows. What’s up with that? I need to check in with my editor today. I turned it back in. I’m not sure he’s had a chance to look over it yet. I feel like I should be getting copy edits soon.

A Real Happy Ever After in My Cozy Mystery

So many mystery writers do a great job of adding a little romance into their stories. As came up in one of the panels I was on at the Virginia Festival of the Book, readers love those relationships. I like them, too. In the my next book, SCRAPBOOK OF SHADOWS, there are some surprising new romances. But if you are looking for that kind of romance in a mystery, you should definitely steer clear of my first book, SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS. Most of the women in my book are married and more of the focus is on the women and the relationships between them, rather than their marriages, although that does sneak in from time to time.

It’s that “sneaking” that has gone over a particular reviewer’s head. (And while I don’t respond to most negative reviews, I felt that I should address this issue.) This reviewer said my book wasn’t a cozy mystery because there was no romance. A lot of cozies DO have romances, but if it’s a prerequisite, it has completely escaped my study of the genre—as well as my editor’s. That said, there IS a little bit of romance in my book. It just happens to be between married people. Imagine that.

Annie and Mike Chamovitz have obstacles to overcome in their relationship because they have money problems and they have two toddler boys. Parenting can wreak havoc on relationships. Annie and Mike find time for each other—even after their evening is interrupted by a child who needs to be rocked to sleep, for example. Mike is still waiting for Annie in their bed when she returns, tired, but still wanting her husband.

This is the real stuff.

It’s also in the memories they’ve built as a couple, the way he told her when they dated: “We are about so much more than sex.”

It’s also in the way he not only ignites her body, but also her mind, making her want to be more.

It’s also about the way she pours herself into making his favorite spaghetti sauce, preening over it just to make sure it’s good enough for the man she loves.

It’s also about the way in which he calms her when she almost loses her temper with the boys and tells her that she should get out of the house by herself.

And the way he manages his work schedule so that she can work on her articles.

But it’s also about the little bumps that they have in their marriage. She has agreed to stay at home with the boys and give up her journalism. Yet, she finds herself pulled back in. Mike grapples with this, tries to support her, yet isn’t happy about it.
They find their way in the muddle of their lives—standing beside one another through the money struggles and the daily weariness.

Once again, this is real stuff. This is what the years of dating, hearts and flowers, and passionate embraces gets you. This is what we all want. This is a real happy ever after. Even with the messes and joys of parenthood, the struggle to find time as a couple, and the wondering if bills will get paid, there is love and yes, a bit of romance.

So while when it comes to reading, I will agree that some things are in the eye of the beholder, but this one thing is not. Look again. Readjust your glasses. You will find not only romance, but also love.

The Unexplainable

I love it—the unexplainable, that is.
Here’s the thing: so much about this life that’s enjoyable is unexplainable. The pull you feel to study engineering, your longing to live in a certain part of the world, or the time you’re walking down the street of a huge city and your eyes suddenly find another person’s and you just suddenly know, in the midst of the crowd, that this person will have some meaning in your life. Maybe you can explain some things, but this? Nah.
It’s the same with the “paranormal.” I find it fascinating for so many reasons. I would be a skeptic and often am—except that I’ve had some unexplainable things happens to me in my life. None of which I will go into here. (Sorry.)
Intellectually, one of the many things I find curious about the paranormal is how it really cannot be proven. I know about the paranormal investigators and so on and even watch some of those shows. But I never see or hear what they are talking about. And when I do there’s an explanation—mice, a weird air current in the room, and so on. But. When things like this happen to you, you don’t exactly need proof, do you?
But, as I said, I love the unexplainable.
This is why I use the paranormal in my books. I’ve been asked about the paranormal element in my first book, SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS. Is Bea’s husband really haunting her? Or does she just miss him so much that she imagines him? And if that’s the case—how powerful is this thing we call imagination? Can it make something seem so real that we actually wield it into existence? I wonder.
I’m not a “paranormal” writer, meaning I don’t have paranormal characters (like werewolves, vampires, fairies, and such) in my books. But what I try to do is entertain possibilities. In my next book, SCRAPBOOK OF SHADOWS, there will also be a bit of a paranormal element, treated much in the same way. It’s a different situation and element, completely, but it does entertain possibilities.
As a reader, how do you feel about that when you’re reading? Do you want hard cold answers? Or is okay to leave some unanswered questions?

P R O C E S S

One of our first poses in last Yoga class was plow. Imagine the old “bicycle” exercise except that your feet are not in the air, but on the floor behind your head. Yep. You have to be careful in this pose or you can seriously hurt a number of places on your body—your neck, most particularly. As I was reaching to get my toes to the floor and realizing it wasn’t going to happen last night, my Yoga teacher said, “It doesn’t matter if you get there tonight or in your next lifetime. What matters is the practice, the process. You simply can’t muscle your way into this.” Once again, I am struck by how often what comes down in Yoga class is a reflection of my life. For the past few days, I’ve been trying to muscle my writing—because my daughters are on summer break starting next week. For the most part this muscling business works for me. I give myself early deadlines so that if anything goes wrong further into the process, I have plenty of time and space. I wanted to have SCRAPBOOK OF SHADOWS to my editor this week. (When is it due? February 2012. Crazy, I know.) My self-imposed deadline is just not going to be met this time. And yesterday I realized I’m okay with that. I’m done muscling my way into anything, especially my writing. The process, right now, is so clearly calling for distance. I’m going to use it.

Five things I thought about during my morning run:

1. Scrapbook of Shadows, the second book in my series. I read it over the other day, fine tuning it. It just felt kinda long to me. It’s just over 76,000 words and usually I have a hard time making 70,000. So I mentioned it to a friend and she said it didn’t feel long, but maybe I needed to tweak the tension a bit here and there. And I have. It was only a sentence here or there. Now, I do have a little rewriting to do. I’ll tweak more after that.

2. I want to have it ready for my publisher before my kids are out of school for the summer. I may not turn it in. But it at least needs to be ready. Um, er, at least in my mind. A friend of mine asked me when it’s due. When I told her next year, she said ,”Nerd.” LOL.

3. The thing is who knows how long the third book will take. And I do have work my schedule around my daughter’s lives–which is as it should be. So this gives me a bit of breathing room in my schedule.

4. Reverse triangle kicked my butt last night and I feel it in each stride.

5. I am still having problems getting up certain posts on this blog. I am frustrated.

Five things I thought during my morning run:

1. Running with the Wii is not my favorite kinda run. But it’s pouring and I can’t get to the gym.

2. But I do like the way it tells you how many miles you’ve run right on the screen. 4.5 miles this morning. Great start to a LONG day of rehearsals and plays.

3. SCRAPBOOK OF SHADOWS. I am deep into it. A day away from it and light bulbs are not just going off, but flashing all the time. Calm down, brain, please!

4. But here’s the thing, with just this little bit of space away, I’ve hit on some key elements that I think the book is missing. Taking into consideration the kind of edits I’ve gotten on the first book, I think I know where to go. Just not sure how to get there.;-)

5. So, after spring break (this coming week), I’m going to spend half my day on it and half my day on the romantic suspense I’m writing. Plan.

Five things I thought about during my morning run:

1. Rainy mornings. They are good over the weekend when you don’t have to get kids on the bus.

2. Tech week for the Wizard of Oz. Pretty rough this time. Both girls are in rehearsals this week for different things and we are going five different ways. Until Sunday.

3. Monday is spring break. And we are going to need it.

4. So tonight I am on carpool duty. I’ll be in Staunton or 4-5 hours. I’ll be looking for shoes. Have time to kill? Find some shoe deals.

5. Taking a deep breath and getting back to revisions on Scrapbook of Shadows. Having a hard time concentrating. But I set myself up for this–it’s a complicated plot–much more so than my first book. So, I will keep this in mind for the third one. 😉

Five things I thought about while walking the dog:

1. Okay. So what’s going on with the author page is the FB doesn’t have it’s act together. I sent invites to everybody. Evidently some of you got them, some did not. They may be caught in your spam. Once you send the invites out, you can’t resend. That kinda bites. I don’t want people to think I didn’t invite them–and at the same time, I need as many people as I can get and don’t want to keep hounding. But here’s the page again. Just in case you are interested.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mollie-Cox-Bryan-author/160250297352980

2. Yellow snow patches everywhere. Ewwww.

3. It’s not as cold as I thought it would be. I’d go for a run–but I have an appointment at the gym this afternoon for a fitness test and an orientation.

4. Eric thinks the guy who was doing straddles and splits the other day was a show off. “He was probably showing off for you.” I doubt that–but I like that Eric thinks it. 😉

5. Done with the second-ish draft of Scrapbook of Shadows. Though I know I need to write more. I need a break from it. So, when I get a chance I’m playing around with a romantic suspense idea. Fun. And HOT!