Are You Branded?

Writing a book? That’s hard.

Figuring out the author site, the social media thing, the marketing? Hahahaha. I think this is true of many authors (and other artist types), but it is more true for some of us than others.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

To counteract my tech unsavvy, I have leaned upon my children. This month I asked Megan to help me with a logo. Just a simple one. She is good at it. It would be fun, right?

Apparently, I didn’t understand what is involved in creating a logo. Megan had assignments for me, and tests. Okay, they may not have been tests; they may have been questionnaires about branding. So, I have expanded my view of my work, my image, my brand.

I found that in branding terms, I am foremost a Creator. Then pretty equally, I am also an explorer, and the girl next door. How does that work? I’m a writer. It’s simple, right?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, trying to get it straight in my mind. This is how I’ve started thinking. Maybe you have some more insight you can share.

First, an obvious statement: I write clean regency romances. Someday I may write in other eras or other genres, but I know there will always be a romantic element in any story I write. I just love relationships. I believe in love as a power. I write about love. That’s me, the writer. (Creator).

However, a writer is only one part of who I am and the life I live. Is the writer so very different from who I am as the neighbor, the friend, or part of a family? In some ways certainly, but one constant is that relationships are important to me. I believe love is a power. I’m in love with love. (Is this the explorer? The girl next-door?)

I may write alone, but you are always there in my thoughts. Who are you? What does your journey look like? I know you have a lot of interests and responsibilities. I think you must have a sense of humor. You like the power of words to help you to see the world through someone else’s eyes. You care. And you love love too. It’s not a lot to know about you. I’d like to know more. Part of why I write on this site is because I’d like to build a relationship with you. I’d like for you to know me, and I’d like to know you better.

So, then I find myself asking how do we intersect and interact? What relationship do I want/can I build with you? And how? (Probably the girl next door thing)

Add the element of my books, as if they are a separate entity. Often they seem to have a life of their own. The characters and their experiences and the themes have a part to play. I try to write about people who are learning new things, often about themselves. I need my characters to grow and change over the course of their story. They are going to make mistakes and do stupid things, but they are going to love deeply. And love will conquer all. Factor that in.

Finally, there is the experience that I want you to have when you read. Some descriptors are: entertained, charmed, hopeful, relaxed, renewed. I like the words whimsy and delight.

All those pieces will hopefully come together in my “Brand.” And I may get a logo. I will be changing my site–different colors, different look. (Watch for changes). It will still be me writing romance, but hopefully everything I do here will reflect all of it–who I am, who you are, the books, the characters, the reading experience (and the characters’ experience), and mostly the relationships (of you and me and of the books and characters). And hopefully it will reflect our belief in love.

Photo by Susn Matthiessen on Unsplash

How Do You Remember the Good Stuff?

Last Weekend was EXCITING! Really it was wonderful. I published the second novel in my Illusions series.

We also had a family reunion. Health kept my father from attending, but all my siblings were there. Most of their children (and ours) were there. Most of their grandchildren (and ours) were there. We have not been together for–well, I can’t remember the last time. We talked, we reminisced, we played games, we took family pictures in a cow pasture. It was so much fun.

Photo by Chris Boese on Unsplash

But, and I hate that so often there is a but.

While we were gone, our basement flooded–a lot! Two of our sons pulled back the carpet, vacuumed the water, and started the fans. Then they came down to the reunion.

Then on the way home, another son had car trouble. So, we stopped at the cabin and spent the night. The next day we loaded his car on the trailer and started home together.

The story isn’t finished. On the way home, our pick-up threw a rod. I hate that I know what this is. I hope you never find out. I will tell you this: The pick-up is dead. The only way to fix it is to rebuild the engine or replace it. (And it is an older, high mileage truck. It’s not worth doing).

Photo by Jo Van de kerkhove on Unsplash

This meant that another of our sons had to come to the little town about 40 miles from home and hook the trailer up to his vehicle and tow it home.

We got home and the basement had flooded again. And today, with the help of one of our sons, we get to go and pick up the useless pick-up.

And I haven’t even mentioned the cost of this little weekend. Nor the fact that I somehow left my phone at the cabin, nor the complaint of one neighbor that caused the city to send us a notice about parking our trailer, when it’s not at the cabin, by the side of our house.

Two paragraphs about some really great things. Seven about some really awful things. But the good things were amazing, and look at how lucky we are to have four of our five living sons available and so willing to give us a hand. That has to be added to the good things, doesn’t it?

Still, I find myself thinking more about how to work through and recover from all the bad luck, and not nearly enough time remembering the good stuff.

How do you do it? Because, let’s be honest. Somehow this bad stuff will pass. We’ll fix the basement. We’ll live without a pick-up for awhile until we can save some money and find one we can afford. (We gotta have one while we’re renovating the cabin). Life will go on, and mostly our life is pretty wonderful. So how do we remember that? How do we think more on the connections with our family, and our achievements, and the kindness of friends and neighbors (who offer to help and loan us their chains and come-alongs)?

I’m sitting in my very comfortable living room in my really beautiful house, with a computer on my lap, and I’m writing. That needs to go in the good column. I am pretty healthy. In a few minutes I’ll go into the kitchen and eat. There is food in my kitchen–plenty really. We have a car. We have work we enjoy, mostly. We have family and friends. We have a lifetime of rich experiences and joyful memories.

Bad stuff happens, sure. And this isn’t anywhere near the worst we’ve experienced. But we have so much good in our life. I want to remember that, even in the midst of the difficult times. How do you do it?

So Excited to Introduce:

Book Two of the Illusions series went live this week!

I’ve become so fond of Amelia over the last few months. I’m hoping you will enjoy getting to know her and her bold, brash Mr. Jones as they break some rules, get into some trouble, and discover each other and the answers to some important questions.

Spend Some Time With Me In the Regency Era

Mad King George III was deemed unfit to rule Britain in 1811, and his son took over as prince regent. Then when George III died in 1820, the regent became King George IV. So technically, the Regency only lasted nine years.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Culturally, however, what we consider the Regency Era spans a longer time period, from about 1795 during the French Revolution (in my mind I see images of that horrifying guillotine) to 1837, when Queen Victoria took the throne. The Regency was more than a change in royalty. It marked the end of the Georgian’s more pious, reserved society. The Prince Regent, being so very different from his father, was kept entirely removed from politics and the military. He channeled his energy into other pursuits, and it showed.

This period saw huge changes in politics, societal structure, and science–this was the beginning of the industrial revolution–but also huge changes in culture, architecture, art, literature, and fashions (the hooped skirts and powdered hair of the Georgian age gave way to the ‘classical’ high waisted dresses of the Regency). In many ways it was a period of cultural refinement, elegance and extravagance—a frivolous and ostentatious age.

And opposite the excesses of the rich was a horrible, crushing poverty and squalor. Gambling, drinking, thievery, and prostitution were rampant in the rookeries of London.

To give you some idea of what was happening, here are some Regency events:

  • The end of the French revolution (May 5, 1789 – Nov 9, 1799)
  • The Napoleonic wars (May 18, 1803 – Nov 20, 1815), which provide the background to my Illusions series
  • The war of 1812 (British impressing American sailors)
  • First vaccinations against smallpox
  • Lewis and Clark expedition

Some names you might recognize:

  • Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (defeated Napoleon at Waterloo)
  • Jane Austen, obviously
  • Lord Byron, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley (Percy Bysshe), William Blake–those romantic poets
  • Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein
  • Mozart and Beethoven
  • Mary Wollstonecraft writing about A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • William Wilberforce and the other social reformers of the Clapham Sect (I love the movie Amazing Grace about these people).

Though the cultural/social restrictions for women were still very real, during the regency women began to challenge old preconceptions and conventional thinking. It’s part of what makes Jane Austen so current even today. Change was everywhere. Exciting things happen in those in-between times. It sparks my imagination and gives me some latitude when creating my brave, strong female characters.

Join me for a little time in the Regency Era! I believe you will love it.

Discussion Questions: The Secrets We Keep

The Secrets We Keep Photography: Chez Nous Images

In every romance novel, the overarching theme is ‘Love Conquers All.’ Do you believe this statement? What are some ways you have seen this theme played out in real life? In interpersonal relationships? In parenting? Societal challenges? In questions of the soul?

In The Secrets We Keep, are there other underlying themes, unique to Liza’s story? What are they?

At the Beginning of the novel, Liza claims she has good reason for her secrets and lies. She claims the same thing at the end. Are her reasons different at the end than at the beginning. How?

Is she right either time? Does she have good reason? Are lies ever acceptable? What might constitute good reasons for lies? Are they ever acceptable?

What makes Liza begin to distrust Robert? What effects does her lack of trust have on their relationship?

Even though Liza believes Robert is doing despicable things, she loves him. Have you ever been in this situation? How does she show her love? How do you show  love for someone who is doing something you believe is wrong/harmful?

Liza is a very instinctive person. She doesn’t always look ahead and weigh the consequences of her actions. What are the strengths in an instinctive personality? What are the weaknesses?

When is Liza bravest? When she faces her enemy and danger? Or in some of her personal, private decision?

Liza spends some time “walking in other’s shoes,” or in this case wearing others clothes. Does that change her insights into those others’ lives? How? How do you “wear other’s clothes” in our day?

How does ‘Love Conquer All’ for Liza and Robert?