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Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s work. I mean yeah, I read other things, but I have been “studying” other work. Is it just me, or does anyone else find themselves feeling a little “less than an artist” when they read someone else’s work that seems to just knock yours out of the water.

Of course I know that there are way better writers out there. And I love to read them. But recently I’ve been reading other writers who aren’t published. Just some work that they have “out there”, and I suddenly feel… unworthy. Like I shouldn’t have ever tried this. I don’t know… I hope I get over it soon. Because it’s affecting me in such a way where when I do sit down to work, I find that I can’t. And then I get depressed. Is that normal?

Until next time…

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So after going back to New Jersey for a funeral, and still not getting any time alone to write, I returned to Virginia.  Missing my favorite crazy uncle, and wondering if there is something wrong with me because I can’t seem to get anything onto paper.  I mean, I started the sequel to my first novel, and the timeline was to have it completed by March.  Well lets just say that it won’t happen.  Heck, it hasn’t happened.  So, I decided to give the sequel a rest and let my mind move on to other things.  I tried working on projects that had been sitting for a while, but all to no avail.  I think I read more of my own work in the past few weeks than I care to admit.  I would have rather been writing.

But then… it hits me.  Like a bright light, this wonderful idea for a story comes to my head.  But I don’t begin writting it right away.  I wasn’t sure if it was going to “stick”.  I had to make sure that it was something that was going to be around for a while.  (Yeah, like that sequel!!)  It actually came to me while I was in the bathroom.  Hmm… come to think of it, a lot of my ideas come to me in the bathroom.  I digress.  So as I was thinking of this wonderful idea for a story, it began to play out like I was watching it on television.  You know one of those Lifetime movies. 🙂  The idea stuck.  All day long, I thought about it, and I couldn’t get it out of my brain.  Then, for two nights straight, I had dreams about this story.  Characters and all.  I even know who would play the leading man… (should it ever make it to Lifetime)

But I still cannot begin writing.  Not yet.  I can ususally figure out how the story will end by the end of the week that I start thinking of the story.  I’m really close to a beautiful happily ever after.  Alas, I think my drought may be over.  I think I need to watch a few Lifetime movies.  I wanna be sure that no one has already taken this wonderful idea and ran with it. 🙂

Wish me luck…

Until next time….

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I’ve been writing for what seems like forever, and yet I still get those moment, those “seasons”, where I feel like I really have absolutely nothing to say.  I am in one of those particular “seasons.”  And I’m talking about right now while I am typing this, but I’m talking about as a writer of romance and fiction.  I usually have many stories and ideas brewin’ around in my head.  And I usually manage to get a few of them recorded so that I can work on them at a later date.  But lately, I feel like there is nothing.  No ideas for anything new, and even the projects that I have been working on seem “flat”.

 Another writer friend of mine, (we actually work together) mentioned being burnt out from the job, and it was moving over into his writing.  Maybe that is my problem.  Maybe some real rest and relaxation is what I need.  Maybe I should plan a real writing retreat.  I need to find out if he has recovered.  With so much going on in my (non-writing) professional life, it really could be the stress of job and home spilling over into my writing and causing this feeling of utter frustration.  I don’t like this feeling when it comes to my writing…

Ok, so here is the plan.  It just so happens that I will be leaving town tomorrow with my daughter to attend a funeral in my hometown of Willingboro, New Jersey. (Family reunions are always great breeding grounds for some interesting story ideas.)  Although it will not be the retreat that I would want, I’m going to have to use this trip to my advantage.  After the funeral, I will be in New Jersey for a couple of days.  I will have to make it a point to get away from everyone for a while and just relax.  I will clear my mind, rethink my ideas, and get back in the game.

We’ll see what happens…

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A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a co-worker who is also a writer.  He asked me how I came up with my stories and why do I work on as many as six at a time.  I never really sat down and thought about how I came up with my stuff.  I really just chalked it up to being blessed with an interesting imagination.  But then I really sat down and thought about it.  (Partly because he really wanted an answer.)  I thought about all of the stories that I had written published and unpublished.  I even thought about the ones from high school and college.  And it came to me…

The ideas for a story come from three things.  First thing would be a song that I heard.  Second would be a movie I saw.  Third would be a person either real or imaginied.  Sometimes only one will trigger the idea.  Sometimes all three come into play at one time.  Once I have the idea in my head, believe it or not, I actually dream about the story.  Not the entire thing, but different scenes will show up in my dreams.  And I’m not talking about just once or twice.  I will usually have about a weeks worth of dreams for any particular story, before I actually begin to write it. 

When I told my co-worker this, he thought that it was interesting.  I never really thought about it until he asked.  But that is probably how I can keep six different stories going at a time.  I’m usually dreaming about them.  Interesting…

Until next time… keep on writing… ’cause you know you love it.

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A Wanted ManPlease forgive the formatting…  Something went terribly wrong. 🙂 

Valerie arrived to the office first. She went in and went right to the elevator. After she stepped on and pushed the button for her floor, Cat stepped on right before the doors closed. Valerie looked over at Cat and her pregnant stomach and smiled.
“Good morning Cat.” Valerie said. “How are you feeling?”
“I’ll be glad when this is all over.” Cat said as she rubbed her stomach.
“This baby is doing a lot of kicking.”

“Did Mr. McKnight tell you that this was his baby?” Cat grinned as she pressed the button for her own floor.
“No he didn’t.” Valerie said. “But I do recall an e-mail that you sent to me about the baby.”

“I’m surprised.” Cat said. “I thought he told you everything.”

“Well, this was one thing that he did not tell me.” Valerie said. “But that’s ok. Mr. McKnight has some news for everyone.”

“Really?” Cat smiled. “Do you know what it is?”

“Actually yes I do.”

“Does it have anything to do with me?”

“Well.” Valerie said. “I’m not supposed to say anything, but yes it does.”

“Oh my God.” Cat gasped. “I knew he would come around. He’s gonna propose to me isn’t he?”

“I can’t say.” Valerie smiled. “But this news will impact you and the baby in such a big way.”

“I’m so excited I might go into labor right here.” Cat said.

“No sweetie, don’t do that.” Valerie said as the elevator stopped on Cat’s floor. “You cannot tell anyone about this news. Mr. McKnight will call you in for a meeting when he is ready to talk to you.”

Cat was grinning so hard that her face started to hurt.

“Thanks for the heads up Val.” Cat said as she stepped off of the elevator.

Valerie nodded as the doors closed. When they opened up again, she was on her floor. Jackson met her as she was coming out.

“How did you get here so fast?” Valerie asked. “I left first.”

“Yes, but I took the stairs.” Jackson said. “I’m faster than the elevator.”

“Well, how fast do you think we can tell Cat the news?”

“Why?”

“Well lets just say, we met in the elevator and she was informing me that her baby was your baby. I told her that you hadn’t told me but that you had some news for everyone. She automatically assumed that you were going to tell everyone that you were going topropose to her.”

“What?”

“I would not be surprised if she is down there right now telling everyone that you are going to propose to her.”

Jackson started to laugh as he and Valerie stepped into his office. He closed the door behind them, and then grabbed Valerie in his arms and kissed her.

“Oh my, Mr. McKnight.” Valerie smiled. “We haven’t told anyone about our marriage.”

“I don’t care.” Jackson said.

Valerie giggled as she wriggled her way out of Jackson’s arms.

“First I think you need to call Tyrone.” She said. “We’ll need him when we go to break the news to Cat.”

“I called him while I was on my way in.” Jackson said.

“He’ll be here at noon.”

“What do you think Cat will do?”

“Baby I don’t care.” Jackson said. “I have married the woman of my dreams.”

“You are so sweet.” Valerie grinned.

***

Cat could not concentrate that entire morning. Everyone wanted to know what her problem was.

“I can’t tell anyone.” Cat grinned.

“Oh come on.” A girl in her row said. “What’s got you all in a tizzy?”

“I think Jackson is going to propose to me today.” Cat squealed. “He’s finally come around and has accepted that this baby is his. He’s gonna wanna be a family.”

Another woman looked at Cat and raised her eyebrow.

“Did he give you any indication that he is even remotely interested in being part of this baby’s life?”

“In the beginning no.” Cat said. “But since he’s come back from his business trip, he’s ready to be a father.”

“Are those his exact words?” The girl that sat next to her asked.

“No, I spoke with Valerie this morning.” Cat smiled. “She said that Jackson will be calling me into his office to tell me something and that it will effect me and the baby in a big way.”

“So it really is his baby?” Yet another woman asked.

“Of course it’s Jackson’s baby.” Cat snapped.

“Look.” A fourth woman said. “Most of us in this department have been with Jackson at one time or another. We know that he was careful with us. There was no way that any of us were trying to trap him like that. I know if he wanted me, it would have to be because he loved me and wanted to be with me, not because I got pregnant. You’ve been scheming for a long time.”

“Who cares.” Cat smiled as she looked at the clock. “I’ve got him now and that is all that matters. He can afford to take care of both me and this child. If you guys schemed as hard as I did maybe he would be marrying one of you.”

The women just shook their heads as they watched Cat sit down at her desk and rub her stomach.

***

Valerie was in her office finishing up a proposal when Jackson buzzed her phone.

“Yes.” She said.

“Tyrone is here.” Jackson said. “Do you wanna come in?”

“Of course.” Valerie said. She stood and went through the adjoining door into Jackson’s office.

“Hey Val.” Tyrone said as he reached to hug Valerie.

“Hey honey.” Valerie said. “How are you?”

“We’ll see when this entire thing is over.” Tyrone said. “And by the way, congratulations. Cuz here hasn’t smiled like this ever.” Valerie smiled as she looked over at Jackson.

“So how are we going to do this?” Jackson said.

“I just say we call her up here and see what happens.” Valerie said.

“Is there some kind of plan or script?” Tyrone asked.

Jackson thought for a minute.

“Yeah.” He said. “Whatever you guys do, just follow my lead. And Ty, kinda hide behind the door so that she doesn’t see you when she comes in here.”

Tyrone grinned as he backed into a corner near the door..

***

When Cat’s phone finally rang, she just knew that it was Jackson calling her up to his office.

“This is Cat.” She said as she looked at the company’s caller i.d.

“Hi Cat.” Valerie said. “Mr. McKnight would like to see you now.”

“I’m on my way up.” Cat grinned. She hung up her phone and stood.

“All right ladies.” She announced. “When I come back down, I will be sportin’ a large rock on my hand and a grin on my face.”

“Whatever.” A coworker said.

“Don’t hate.” Cat said as she whisked passed everyone and went to the elevator.

***

“How was your business trip slash wedding slash honeymoon?” Tyrone asked.

“It was great.” Valerie said. “I wanna go back there again.”

“We will.” Jackson said.

“For fun not business.” Valerie said.

“We’ll go back for both.” Jackson smiled.

There was a knock at the door and Tyrone and Valerie looked at Jackson.

“Follow my lead.” He whispered.

“Come in.” He called to Cat.

“Hi.” Cat smiled when she walked into the office.

“Have a seat.” Jackson said.

Cat looked around the room and saw Valerie standing next to Jackson. She didn’t notice Tyrone standing off to the side almost behind the door. Her focus was on Jackson only.

“Jackson, please don’t get mad at Valerie for telling me that you had some news for me.” Cat said. “I nearly pulled it out of her.”

Jackson sat back in his chair and listened to Cat finish.

“Jackson honey, I am so glad that you have chosen me.” She

said. “I knew that you would realize that this baby was conceived out of our love for each other. Please don’t get me wrong, I was not trying to trap you in any way.”

Jackson was silent as he watched Cat. Valerie was using every ounce of dignity within her to keep from laughing.

“So, after saying all of that, I’ll be quiet so that you can propose to me.” Cat said.

Jackson began to grin. He looked at Valerie and then looked at Cat.

“Oh God I should have brought a camera or something.” Cat said.

Jackson stood up and went to his panoramic window. He stood there for a moment and then turned to look at Cat.

“When I told you that I was in love with someone else, did you ever find out who it was?” Jackson asked.

“Well it’s evident now that it was me.” Cat smiled. “You just needed some time away from me to get your head together. I can understand that.”

“Cat remember when you came to me and told me that you were pregnant?” Jackson asked.

“Yes.” Cat said. “You hurt my feelings when you denied it.”

“Well Cat, I would apologize for that.” Jackson started. “If the child was mine.”

Cat opened her mouth, but Jackson stopped her.

“But since it is my cousin Tyrone’s baby, I’m not going to apologize.”

“Who is Tyrone?” Cat asked nervously. “What are you talking about? I don’t even know anyone named Tyrone.”

“Then let me refresh your memory.” Tyrone said as he stepped from the corner and stared into Cat’s terrified eyes.

“Ty, if I wasn’t already in love I’d keep you for myself. Do you remember saying that? Or what about, when you told me that I reminded you of someone? I reminded you of Jackson. And you wanna know why? Because we are related, by blood. He’s my cousin. We used to play the same type of games that you played.”

“Jackson this baby is yours!” Cat said.

Tyrone and Jackson both held up test results.

“Cat, come clean now and save whatever little bit of dignity you think you have.” Tyrone said.

“Jackson I thought you loved me.” Cat said.

“Cat, I’m already a married man and have been for two weeks.” Jackson said. “When I told you that I fell in love, I was talking about the woman that I married.”

“Who?” Cat asked.

Valerie smiled as she held up her hand, showing off her four carat ring and two carat wedding band.

“What?” Cat nearly screamed. “She’s only your assistant.”

“No Cat, she is second in command of this entire company.”

Jackson smiled.

“Now.” Valerie began. “Would you like to start your maternity leave now or would you like to continue up until that actual date that you were going to leave?”

“Jackson I loved you.” Cat began to cry.

“No you didn’t.” Jackson said.

“What am I supposed to do about this baby?” Cat sobbed.

“You need to discuss it with the baby’s father.” Valerie said.

“You are going to be a mother now. Stop acting like a baby. You made this bed, you can lie in it.”

Cat looked over at Tyrone.

“So what are you gonna do?” She snapped.

“I’m going to sue you for custody of my child.” Tyrone said as he folded his arms across his chest.

“Do you really think a judge will allow you to take the baby?”

Cat asked. “You’re a photographer. You’re never home.”

“Cat, have you ever heard of TM Photography?” Tyrone asked.

“Yes.”

“What about TM Productions?”

“Yes.”

“And there is Ty Advertising in DC.”

“So what.”

“I own them.” Tyrone said. “I shoot pictures as a hobby. I

don’t need the money.”

“Why didn’t you tell me all of this?” Cat asked.

“Because I already knew what kind of woman you were.”

Tyrone said. “The same type of woman that I wouldn’t want my child to learn from.”

“All I wanted was someone to take care of me.” Cat said. “I wasn’t out to hurt anyone.”

“Cat you are selfish.” Valerie said. “You are selfish, sneaky, and manipulative. You tried to trap a man with a baby that wasn’t even his. And now it’s blowing up in your face. Deal with it.”

Cat swallowed.

“You know what?” She snapped. “I quit!”

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No, I’m not new to writing.  That bug hit me early in life.  I’m new to trying not to turn red when someone tells me that they’ve read my work.  And yeah… I’m new to “The Block”.  I truly appreciate the invite.

I started writing in fifth grade… cuz I had to.  But fell in love with it in seventh grade.  It became my passion in eighth grade.  And where I’m from, the eighth grade when high school started.

Born and raised in Willinboro, New Jersey, to a poet mother and musician father.  Well, mom was a homemaker by day.  And daddy?  Well, he was an engineer by day, but at night he was the best saxaphonist next to David Sanborn.  Anyway, back in the late 80s and early 90s, Willingboroclosed down all the middle schools and crammed the eighth and ninth grade kids in with the “upper classmen”.  That was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  Cause as an eighth grader, those other crazy kids gave me so much material, that I started getting requests for stories… from the upper classmen.  But only my best friend at the time was allowed to read ALLof my work.  Maybe because she and I, along with Johnny Depp and Richard Greico were the only characters in the stories.  (Am I dating myself here?  You do remember 21 JumpStreet right?)

Then there was the skater stage.  (Yes, Tony Hawk was around even back then.)  It was short lived, but my “skater” friends also gave me a lot of material.  Especially since I was the only “chocolate chip” in the whole cookie of friends at that time.

Then came sophomore through senior years.  People would ask me why I was writing if it wasn’t a homework assignment.  My answer was, “Why not?”.  See, I went to a high school where the thing to do was be into the “scene”.  And at Boro… (that’s what we called the high school at the time), there were lots of “scenes” to choose from.  I was part of a few, and as I look back on them now, I think I would consider them research.  I wasn’t popular by any stretch of the imagination.  But I had popular friends.  So when they went to a party… I went.  Strictly for research.  High school gave me lots of material.

College… *sighs and looks out of a window*  I didn’t finish college because I fell in love and got married.  But college is where my craft matured from the high school crush kinda stuff, into the… “Ok, I’m an adult” work.  Which brings me to the present.

I only began publishing in 2005.  I finally got the courage to ask a friend of mine to read over a short story and give me her honest opinion about it.  It was her push that got me out there.  And three and a half books later (I’m writing a sequel to one of them)… here I am… the new kid on the block.

My first published short story was “Nothing But Love”.  I published it myself.  Then came “For You Alone”.  That also was published myself.  But then, a short story that I was working on, became much longer than I was anticipating.  It ended up being my very first novel titled “A Wanted Man”.  And yes, I published that one too.  See, maybe I should have said this in the beginning.  I am not a very patient woman.  Any patience that I do have is only because I have a husband and a four year old.  There is no room for patience elsewhere.  So when I wrote my books and published them myself, it was because I wanted them out there an available.  I couldn’t sit on my hands and wait for someone to tell me that they did or didn’t like what they were reading. (I have the utmost respect for those who can wait.  I’m just not one of them.)  No, I probably will not make as much money as Zane, or Omar Tyree.  I write because I love it, not because I can get rich off of it.  But you can best believe, that I get just as much satisfaction when a book is completed, and I can say that I had total control.  Although, maybe about a quarter of their money would be enough for me.

Thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to be amongst amazing writers.  I am truly honored.

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