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Welcome to my blog where I share my observations on life, family, writing, romance… and the occasional pet. 🙂

I did not attend the #womensmarch yesterday. Here’s why…

I did not attend the women’s march yesterday.
I am a romance author.
I like the color green.

From these facts about me, some of you probably feel you can stop reading. You know all you need to know to put me in a labeled box and walk away. I hope you won’t, because those statements are only a part of my truth.

Another truth about me: I’m an observer by nature. I tend to hang by the periphery, watch the players, assess the mood of the room, measure my words, and then speak. So I spent yesterday listening. I listened to speakers and demonstrators sharing their stories and reasons for participating and to the commentary that followed on social media. Some stories and messages resonated deeply with me. Others, quite honestly, didn’t. But I’m not here to cherry pick and discard those sound bites or placards that struck the wrong chord, because the broader message of the day–the fact that millions of demonstrators could demonstrate peacefully worldwide–speaks to the fact that even when we disagree on some matters, even when it’s hard to hear another’s truth because of how or what they say, we can be united behind each other as human beings. That, my friends, gave me hope.

You see, for  a long time, I have freely shared my daily frustrations and joys (and silly cat videos) with others on social media, but I’ve held back sharing my views on certain topics I feel deeply about for fear of causing offense. (Religion. Politics. The Coffee vs. Tea debate, to name a few.) But as I watched and listened both to the demonstrators and those chatting on social media yesterday, I realized a couple of things:

1.) I’ve been showing you my true self all along, and
2.) I am inordinately entertained by snarky internet memes.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to hold back on social media when my books were already showing you my world view. If you have read them, you know I find humor in human diversity and frailty, and I believe in the power of love. I don’t tolerate intolerance, and I enjoy the inherent irony in that statement. I give even my least likable characters motive and redeeming qualities, because I like to believe that even when I don’t like someone (it happens!) they aren’t rotten to the core. I write (spoiler alert) about everything from infidelity to teen pregnancy to gay marriage. My characters swear as much as they pray, drink and have sex as much as they pass judgment on others and stand on the moral high ground. They are imperfect people struggling to find love and purpose in an imperfect world.

I live in that world. You live in that world. But by attempting to sanitize the harsher or more uncomfortable truths from the ‘me’ I’ve chosen to share with others, I’ve gotten in my own way. And that was a mistake.

So today, I thank my fellow sisters (and brothers) who marched yesterday for giving me the courage to admit I am not always as neutral as Switzerland. Maybe that makes you uncomfortable. I think that’s a good thing. When we shy away from that which causes us discomfort, we’re often pulling back from a truth we’d prefer not to face. But you and I are alike, then, because I’m uncomfortable, too. I’m uncomfortable knowing that despite how safe and happy I feel in the comfort of my home writing this article, that human trafficking, drug addiction and racism still exist in this country. I’m uncomfortable with the fact that with parental consent, a thirteen-year-old child can be married in my state. I’m uncomfortable that rapists have parental rights in 22 states in this country. I’m uncomfortable that, as a white mother of a white son, I know privilege and safety other mothers, because of a fluke of our DNA, can never know. I’m uncomfortable self-censoring myself for the sake of ‘not making waves’ when I know my children are watching.

The truth is, I’m done hiding my discomfort. I’m tired of seeing complex problems and heartfelt concerns reduced to single issues, inflammatory sound bites, and name calling when respectful discourse could lead to real and lasting solutions. We need that discourse now more than ever, and I intend to be an active participant.

I may be an observer, but I am also a light, and I intend to shine that light for those who seek help and hope and, yes, humor for as long as I can. I will continue to write my stories, blueprints if you will, of how love and forgiveness and open-hearted listening can bring happiness and hope to an imperfect world, because that is the truth I believe in. You may believe I’m a rose-colored-glasses idealist with my head in the clouds, and that’s okay. That’s partly true, too.

And one last thing. A word about the color green. I love the color green, but if the whole wide world were nothing but green? I’d miss blue. And pink. And soft yellow. I’d miss rich brown and startling red. Do we really, honestly, want a world with no diversity? With no differing abilities and perspectives and faces? Green is comfortable and familiar, but I won’t thrive unless I’m challenged. (Also, if you and I were exactly alike, who would eat the edge pieces when we made brownies?)

No, I didn’t march yesterday, but I am so incredibly proud of those who did. I applaud those of you who had the courage to speak your truths and shine your lights in the world. You’ve demonstrated for me the importance of stepping out of the shadows, stepping out of my own comfort zone, and doing just that.

The Art of Giving Up

[This blog post originally appeared as a guest post on Courtney J. Halls blog on 3/2/16. Click here to see the original content and comments.]

I feel a bit hypocritical, I’m just going to put that out there. Because even though I’ve always believed that couples who break up should considerstaying broken up (there was a reason things didn’t work out the first time, right?) I’ve gone and written not one but two couples into my latest contemporary romance, DEAL ME IN, that get back together. <facepalm>

Oh, I agree there’s a certain ‘against all odds’ romanticism about couples who finally get it right. Not to mention, the eternal optimist in me gets to win out over the stick-in-the-mud pragmatist. But, I’m forgiving myself for these particular happily-ever-afters, because not only is writing that happy ending part of my job description, it’s not as if these couples part on Tuesday and are having make-up sex by Sunday. No, for each, the dream of the perfect life together takes a while to take shape… and a llama or two… and that’s a good thing.

I mean, let’s face it, if we achieved our happily-ever-after dreams right out of the gate and with little effort, I’d be a celebrated ice dancer right now, married to Ryan Gosling and living in a castle. I think we both know that’s not how my story has played out.

I didn’t marry the first man I dated. Nor am I working at the first career I ever tried. After years of querying agents and attending critique groups and writing… and submitting to editors and attending conferences and writing… I decided it was okay to give up on the dream of being a mega publishing success right out of the starting gate. Or being published by the age of <cough> 35. Because, even though I’d given up on those particular dreams, I wasn’t giving up on me.

So I let go of those old dreams and made new ones that included hanging out with cool fellow authors <waves at Courtney!> and writing stories I’d like to read, and I stopped worrying about those old dreams I’d outgrown. (Although if anyone wants to offer me a movie contract or six-figure book deal, call me!)

I don’t think you want to give up on dreaming either. At the end of the Facebook party celebrating DEAL ME IN’s release, I asked this question: If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you try? Dozens of people started posting.Open a bakery. Get a nursing degree. Write a book. (Go figure.) And all I could think was: What’s stopping you? Is the risk of failure worse than never having tried at all? And if your stick-in-the-mud pragmatic side doesn’t see how the numbers all add up, can your eternal optimist see how you can keep the spark of your dream alive until they do?

We’ve all been guilty of rewriting our goals when things didn’t go as planned. (New Year’s resolutions, anyone?) But that doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming. Or stop moving toward what we most want. Me? I’d rather get a little creative in the way I give up, because as long as I don’t give up on me, I always have hope.

So if you want to get back together with your ex? I’ll try to see the good you see in him. In the meantime, I’ll be scanning real estate listings across the pond, because a girl can dream, right?

Tell me. What are your dreams? What can you do to keep the dream alive?

Speed Dating & Love at First Sight

[This blog post originally appeared as a guest post on Christie Craig’s blog on 2/23/16. Click here to see the original content and comments.]

I Love You

Thanks, Christie, for letting me stop by! So, show of hands: how many of you out there believe in love at first sight? Did it happen for you that way, or were you more of a slow burn?

Romance writer that I am, I did not fall madly in love with my husband the moment I clapped eyes on him. It was more of a shrug of my shoulders, ‘he’s okay’ sort of deal. In my own defense, his hair was too long, he wore a ratty old concert t-shirt, and he was a microbiology major. I mean, he worked with petri dishes, people. What could we possibly have in common? But then we started talking. There was a spark. He wore his lab coat… Two decades, two kids and a houseful of animals later, I’m glad I didn’t let my first impression stop me from getting to know him better.

I actually love when characters fall for each other awkwardly and unevenly over time. It’s all well and good to be attracted to one another, but I prefer stories where the characters don’t mesh too perfectly, where they have to smooth each other’s rough edges a bit before they fit. Grace and Jeff from my latest novel, Deal Me In, are like that. It takes time to find the balance between her free-spirited nature and his straight-forward pragmatism. As teens, they fell for each other hard and fast–and just as quickly crashed and burned. Would that still hold true if they hadn’t met so young? Let’s pretend, for a little bit, that their history together doesn’t exist. What if Grace and Jeff meet as adults… speed dating? What would that be like, and would they still fall for each other? Let’s find out…

Grace: Hi, I’m Grace.

Jeff: Jeff.

Grace: So, Jeff, what do you do for a living?

Jeff: I’m a police officer at Sugar Falls PD. You?

Grace: I own Currents, the gift shop downtown. I like to say I bring balance and inspiration to the ‘thinkers, dreamers and peace travelers of the world.’

Jeff: Huh. I’ve seen it. You should have the landlord install a motion-sensitive spotlight. That back alley isn’t well lit.
Grace: I’ll mention it to him. So… what’s your favorite color?

Jeff: That’s your next question?

Grace: Yes.

Jeff: Orange.

Grace: Orange?

Jeff: What’s wrong with orange? I never go hiking in the backwoods without it. I’m guessing you like pink.

Grace: Red.

Jeff: Red, huh? That’s not a very peaceful color.

Grace: Red is vibrant and full of life. Plus, I look good in red. Next question: what did you die of in your last life?

Jeff: What?

Grace: In your last life, how did you die?

Jeff: Murdered in my sleep by a crazy chick who believed in past lives?

Grace: Aw, you have a sense of humor! I like that. Me, I died of a broken heart.

Jeff: Of course you did. All right. Seeing as we’re asking the off-beat question now, how do you like your steak? Rare, medium or well done?

Grace: I’m a vegetarian. But speaking of food, I could really go for some chili rellenos from that Mexican place out by Route 6 right about now. I missed lunch.

Jeff: Mmm. Can’t beat their beef enchiladas. Okay, if you were an animal what would you be?

Grace: I was going to ask that!

Jeff: Just answer the question.

Grace: A butterfly.

Jeff <frowning >: Butterfly? It has a life span of a gnat and can’t fly in the rain. Why would you want to be a butterfly?

Grace: They’re beautiful, and imagine how it would feel to be a butterfly. Like being a kite, only better. What would you be?

Jeff: An eagle. Like my tattoo.

Grace <leaning forward>: You have a tattoo? Can I see it?

Jeff: Now?

Grace: Why not?

Jeff: Our time is almost up.

Grace: No, it’s not.

Jeff: Yeah, it is. Look at the clock.

Grace <waving a hand dismissively>: No. Our time is only beginning. My arms are tingly. It’s a sign.

Jeff: A sign? You’re a fruitcake, you know that?

Grace: We are so seeing each other again.

Jeff: That’s called stalking. There are laws against that.

Grace: It’s not stalking if we both want it.

Jeff: Who says we both want it?

Grace: The fact that you keep looking at my cleavage.

Jeff <clears throat>: That’s a stunning, ah, necklace.

Grace: Thank you. So, seven o’clock?

Jeff: For what?

Grace: Our date. Pick me up at my shop. I’ll wear red.

Jeff: Why?

Grace: It’s my favorite color. Haven’t you been paying attention? Ooh! And can we eat dessert first? I love the Silver Birch Inn’s cranberry-orange cheesecake.

Jeff: How did you know I was thinking of the Inn?

Grace <shrugging>: I just know things sometimes.

Jeff: Really? What am I thinking right now?

Grace: That you can’t wait for our first kiss.

(Jeff didn’t answer, because he had been thinking about that. That and cheesecake.)

Jeff to himself as he leaves: She’s hot but she’s got crazy written all over her. This is going nowhere.

Grace to herself as she leaves: I am so going to marry that man…

Want to see more of Deal Me In? Click here.

30% off ALL OR NOTHING at Kobo

SALE!!!! Kobo is offering 30% off selected titles through Oct 26 including my very own humorous contemporary romance ALL OR NOTHING! Read anytime, anywhere, on any device. Use promo code OCT30 at checkout. Click here to go to Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/all-or-nothing-62

Find all the Betting on Romance books at www.cheriallan.com

Happy reading! ~ Cheri

SQUEE!! All or Nothing is a Golden Leaf Finalist!

It’s not every day you get to snoopy dance, so I’m going to take this opportunity to get my groove on. You see, I’m super excited to announce that my newest book, ALL OR NOTHING, has been named a finalist in the NJRW Golden Leaf contest (Contemporary Category) for excellence in romantic fiction! (SQUEE!!!) This means I get to schedule a road trip to New Jersey, which I’m looking forward to not only because I get to see a bunch of fun romance writing pals, attend workshops, schmooze, and (of course) attend the awards ceremony, but I also get to go to the Menlo Park Diner which, conveniently, is right down the road. Anybody who knows me knows I’m a gal who loves her pancakes… or cheesecake… or danish… (It’s ALL so good!)

So wish me luck! And if I win, I swear I’ll bring back cheesecake. 🙂

Luck of the Draw Summer Sale!

Splash into Summer Savings

Splash into summer savings with the first in the Betting on Romance series, Luck of the Draw. ON SALE NOW for just 99 pennies through July 3rd! If you haven’t picked this book up, what are you waiting for? (And if you have, never fear. I’ve got another great deal for you–a trivia giveaway for ALL OR NOTHING. Check out the details at www.cheriallan.com and enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card!) Feel free to share these great deals with your friends!

And the bride wore

Debut Romance: Skater’s Waltz by Peggy Jaeger

There are certain people who are like a sparkler in the room. High energy, vibrant, fun personalities you can’t help but want to hang out with. Peggy Jaeger is just that sort of person, and it’s been my absolute pleasure to get to know her over the last year. Her debut contemporary romance, Skater’s Waltz, just released last month, and she has another (yes, people, it’s a series!) coming out in May. Welcome, Peggy! Okay. Now to the good stuff…!  🙂

Skater's Waltz cover image

Skater’s Waltz – Book Blurb

Figure skater Tiffany Lennox is busy with rehearsals for an upcoming ice show when the only man she’s ever loved comes home after a two-year overseas stint. She needs him to see her for the woman she’s become and not the child he knew to ensure he stays home, this time, for good. With her.

For all his wanderlust and hunger for professional success, Cole Greer comes home wanting nothing more than to rest, relax and recover. He is delighted in being Tiffany’s hero and has a special place in his heart reserved for her. But faced with the oh-so-desirable woman she’s become, he starts questioning his determination to keep their relationship platonic.

When forced by the television network to go back on assignment, Cole – for the first time in his life – is torn between his career and his heart.

Skater’s Waltz – Excerpt:

One delicate auburn eyebrow rose almost to her hairline. “Cocky self assurance has always been one of your greatest assets,” she commented dryly.

Cole laughed again and pulled her down into a headlock.

“Snot nosed princess,” he said, knuckle-rubbing her head.

He’d been wrestling with her since she was a child. He’d taught her every subtle move to get the high ground, and in that moment she used the knowledge to her advantage. In one slick move, her arm came out across his neck, forcing his hold to loosen. When it did, she pulled her hand back and pushed forward, expertly flipping him in the seat.

To recover his balance, Cole leaned back into the couch, grabbed what he hoped were her upper arms, and shoved. In a heartbeat, she was lying backward along the length of the couch with him spread out on top of her.

Both were laughing and wriggling, each trying to get the upper hand.

Tiffany squealed, trying to twist her hips out from beneath him. “Let me go!”

“Not a chance. I know how your devious little mind works, and I taught you how to do this. The minute I loosen up, you’ll hip check me over the back of the couch. No, thanks.”

Tiffany burst out laughing. “You rat. That was exactly what I was going to do.”

“You know retreat and surrender are inevitable, Tiff. I outweigh you, and I’ve got the distinct advantage of your injury in my favor. Give?”

“Okay, you win.” She went limp beneath him.

The corners of his eyes narrowed as he smiled down at her. “You must be maturing,” he said. “You never used to give up so easily.”

When he removed one hand from her arm, she reached up to trace the outline of one of his eyes. Her finger moved from the outer canthus to his cheek, smoothing the skin she touched. “You didn’t have these little lines when you left.”

Cole stared down at her face.

Her finger roamed down to the corners of his mouth, outlining them, then on to the small dent in the middle of his chin. An impish grin fanned across her face. “I remember being little and wondering if I smoothed this line away would I be able to see inside you, like it was a door or some kind of opening to your insides. Dumb, huh?”

“Sweet,” he said, softly. “Little girl sweet. Never dumb.”

Her eyes traveled up to his and locked there.

“When I got older I wondered what it would be like to kiss it.”

His breath hitched.

“Would it taste like soap, left over from shaving, or would it be all spiky and nubby because you missed a few hairs. Or would it taste uniquely like you do. I still wonder about that.”

“Tiffany.”

Knowing what he was about to do, and to whom, should have sent him jumping off the couch, running in the other direction. Instead, when his head came down to hers all Cole could think about was how much he wanted to taste her again, how he wanted to lose himself in her, and how both those feelings somehow seemed right, even though he knew they shouldn’t.

Her body tensed as he inched closer. When his lips finally captured hers, she turned fluid under his hands.

Her smooth, small body slackened beneath him as his lips gently moved across hers, tasting them, savoring them. Releasing his grip on her arms, he leaned on his elbows and ran his fingers into her hair, cupping her face while holding fistfuls of the glorious mane.

 Author Bio

Peggy Jaeger’s love of writing began in the third grade when she won her first writing contest with a short story titled THE CLOWN. After that, there was no stopping her. Throughout college and after she became a Registered Nurse, she had several Nursing Journal articles published, in addition to many mystery short stories in Literary Magazines. When her daughter was born, Peggy had an article titled THE VOICES OF ANGELS published and reprinted in several parenting magazines, detailing the birth and the accident that almost turned this wonderful event into a tragedy. She had two children’s books published in 1995 titled THE KINDNESS TALES and EMILY AND THE EASTER EGGS, which were illustrated by her artist mother-in-law. While her daughter grew, Peggy would write age appropriate stories for her to read along with, and finally, to read on her own. Her YA stories are mysteries involving smart and funny 12-13 year old girls and an unusual collection of friends and relatives. They all take place in the 1980’s.

She has a Master’s Degree in Nursing Administration and had several articles published on Alzheimer’s Disease when she ran an Alzheimer’s In Patient care unit during the 1990’s

In 2005 she was thrilled to have an article on motherhood placed in the CHICKEN SOUP FOR EVERY MOTHER’S SOUL edition. She has won several awards in various Writer’s Digest short story and personal article categories over the years. Recently, she has placed first in the Dixie Kane 2013 Memorial Contest in the Short/Long Contemporary romance Category, and in the Single Title Contemporary Category, and third place in the ICO Romance Contest for 2013, and in 2014 she was a finalist in the Put Your heart in a Book contest.

A life-long and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Peggy has embraced the techno age and writes for three blogs, all detailing events in her life. One titled, 50 pounds for 50 years is a personal blog about weight loss, one about her life as an EMPTY NESTER and her most recent one MOMENTS FROM MENOPAUSE, a humorous and informative guide through this time in a woman’s life.

She also has her own website http://peggyjaeger.com where she writes about everyday life and how it relates to writing. Twitter is her current obsession, but she is never far from her Facebook pages.

In 2015 she will have her first two contemporary romance novels published by The Wild Rose Press: Skater’s Waltz, book 1 in the MaQuire Women Series, and There’s No Place Like Home, book 2. Four more are in the works for this series, in addition to her Cooking with Kandy series.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://peggyjaeger.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peggy-Jaeger-Author/825914814095072
Twitter: https://twitter.com/peggy_jaeger
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/peggyjaeger/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13478796.Peggy_Jaeger

Buy Links:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
The Wild Rose Press
Kobo 
Bookstrand
Also available on iBooks. Searchword: SKATER’S WALTZ by Peggy Jaeger

 

Is this when the miracle happens?

Happy Thursday! I’m guest blogging over with Peggy Jaegar today about miracles and my newest book, ALL OR NOTHING. Join us! For the complete blog post including excerpt, a book blurb, and gift basket giveaway details be sure to pop over to Peggy’s here!


There are two facts about me you should know: I have successfully crammed a loveseat into the back of a Chevette, and my final grade in high school geometry was 103%.

I share these two little factoids not to brag (okay, maybe a little. I even got the extra credit questions right!), but because it was with this inflated sense of mastery over spatial thinking and physics that I approached a particularly difficult application of ice and water shield several years ago. (Think rubbery sheets of contact cement.) Dearest Hubby and I were weatherproofing our newly framed dormer before the summer T-storms hit again. I was leaning through the narrow rafter cavity with a piece of ice and water shield (sticky side out) attempting to reach in a direction that would require: a.) one of my elbows to bend backwards, b.) my arms to stretch another 6-8 inches, and c.) me to develop x-ray vision that would allow me to see through a 2 x 12 rafter. I had struggled for probably ten minutes or so at this task when DH leaned close to my ear and whispered, “Is this when the miracle happens?”

I dissolved into convulsions of laughter and ended up sticking the ice and water shield to my forearm (which, BTW, I don’t recommend) because it was perfectly clear that as much as I stretched and pushed and struggled, the physics of the situation where not going to change.

In ALL OR NOTHING, self-made tech millionaire Ian McIntyre has just returned from filming a reality dating show. Unfortunately, he did not find a match. This is an ice and water shield moment for the show’s producer who spends the rest of the book trying to bend her elbows backwards getting Ian to fall in love and choose a fiancée so the show’s ratings don’t go down the toilet.

It turns out that the kind of woman Ian asked to be matched with isn’t the woman he needs (big surprise!) And it takes a loveable puppy, some persistent paparazzi and one spunky heroine to get him to see he needs to approach things differently. Cue the triumphant music and happy ending as the hero and heroine run through a sunny field toward one another…

You see, sometimes the miracle happens (don’t ask me how I got that loveseat in that car) and sometimes it doesn’t, but as writers we have a tendency to continue to shove and twist during those difficult times waiting for the fairy dust to sprinkle down from the heavens so our elbows will bend backwards and the scene will work. Chances are good, though, that we won’t suddenly realize we’re double-jointed, and it will take a whisper from outside ourselves to see that we need to take a new tack.

This is where I admit the third fact: If it weren’t for my lovely, talented and painfully honest editor, you would probably throw my book at the wall. In ALL OR NOTHING, I had a plot line that was not working. I knew this, and yet a part of me still hoped that, somehow, I’d pull it off. (Shh! Don’t say anything! I just need to stretch a little more!) Enter my editor who said (and I quote): “WHAT?!” If she’d had a red Sharpie, my manuscript would have been glowing. She hated this plot line and told me the two (Or twelve. Really, I lost count.) reasons why readers would go on to hate me and my heroine if I left it in.

She was right, of course. I was struggling so hard to make it fit, I wasn’t able to step back and see that it would never work. Once I pulled that plotline, all sorts of things fell neatly into place… like a loveseat into a Chevette.

This whole experience has reinforced for me the VITAL importance of having a critique partner, a plotting group, a good content editor or simply an honest friend to point out when persistence has morphed into stubbornness. Anyone that knows me knows I’m an optimist. I believe in happy endings and true love and that, somehow, the sticky pieces of life will magically fall into place. (Ta-da!) The reason I believe so strongly in these things, though, is because I surround myself with those who have the courage to whisper the truth in my ear when it needs to be said so I can reach my goals another way.

Now, I’m excited to share ALL OR NOTHING with the world, because I know it delivers the magic of a happy ending (with only fictional joint pain.) And I hope, if you do throw the book at the wall, you do so out of convulsions of laughter.

It does make me wonder, though… If I had left that ugly, unsympathetic plotline in, would you have thrown your book at the wall? How far does an author/character have to go to make you lose all respect for them to the point they become unredeemable? Depending on your answer, I may have to send my editor an extra large bouquet of flowers to thank her…