Guest Author: Karen Booth and Seasoned Romances

Karen Booth

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had read Bring Me Back, a seasoned romance by Karen Booth. Karen is the founder of the Seasoned Romance group on Facebook, and since I love reading and writing about mature characters I asked her a few questions about the Seasoned Romance group and her book.

 

How did you decide to write Seasoned Romances?

I write romances about characters of all ages, but as I close in on fifty, writing “older” characters is becoming increasingly important to me. I started writing my first book, Bring Me Back, soon after I turned forty. I had no clue what I was doing, but I was committed to the idea of rocking forty, and I figured this was a good way to do it. In the book, my heroine, Claire, is thirty-nine. She’s a single mom. Her teenage daughter will be moving on to college in a year. It felt like an interesting and relatable time in a woman’s life.

But here’s the thing—since I was a new author, and did not know every last unspoken rule of romance, I had no idea that a thirty-nine year old heroine was too old. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me. Imagine my dismay when I started sending this book—the book of my heart–out to publishers and agents, only to rack up rejections based on the ages of my characters. I got a decent amount of feedback from these folks, which isn’t always the norm, but the general consensus was that it was a great book, but the characters were too old, especially Claire (they didn’t seem to take issue with Christopher being 45, which just shows you how sexist publishing can be). One acquisitions editor went so far as to tell me that nobody wants to read about “old people having sex”. Again, Claire was 39! Not old!! Not even close!! It just made me really mad.

I ended up publishing Bring Me Back the first time around with Turquoise Morning Press. They loved the age of my characters, and so did readers. I got so many emails from people saying they were so excited to read books about characters their own age. It was wonderful affirmation. When Turquoise Morning Press shut its doors (very gracefully, I must point out…not all publishers go out with class and respect for their authors), things in my writing life had changed significantly. I had eight or nine books out, I had a multi-book deal with Harlequin, and I had an agent. So, I asked my agent about shopping it, thinking that it was nearly five years later–surely things had changed, right? Nope. One last round of rejections, based on age. So, I said screw them, and self-published. It’s gone very well. Readers want these books. I know it. Publishers are just slow to adopt, which is frustrating. Romance is capable of being a force for change and it should do a better job of representing all women and accepting that we all age. Every last one of us. That doesn’t mean love dies at the same time.

 

What inspired Bring Me Back?

I had the original idea for Bring Me Back in my head for nearly eight years before I wrote a single word of it. I had small kids at home, and although I was a working writer, I was focusing on non-fiction for lifestyle publications and newspapers. I didn’t think I had it in me to write fiction. But back to the idea…just like Stephanie Meyers got the inspiration for Twilight from a dream, I had the same experience with Bring Me Back. It’s just that she was wildly successful with the product of her dream, and my project brought me 129 rejections. And happiness! So there’s that!

I was in the Caribbean when I had the dream, on vacation with my husband and our 18 month-old daughter. (She’s about to graduate from high school, so this was a long time ago.) My husband had just had a brutal year at work, and his boss (who had been our boss when my husband and I worked together), offered us his villa in St. Barts for two weeks. It was amazing (and the villa ended up in the book). The second or third night there, I had a very steamy dream about John Taylor from Duran Duran. Now, he was without question, the biggest celebrity crush of my youth. But I hadn’t really thought about the man in years. The band was in a bit of a dead spot with their career, and yeah, I had kids to worry about. He just appeared out of nowhere. It was the strangest thing. I woke up dazed, wondering what would happen if a woman met the rock star crush of her youth, but twenty years later, when everything in both of their lives was totally different.

It’s a modern fairytale in many ways—I put a very relatable woman into a dream scenario and let her figure out a way to make it work. The love story between Claire and Christopher is the central arc, but the relationship between Claire and her 17 year-old daughter, Samantha, plays an important role in the book. So does the strained relationship between Claire and her father.

 

What kind of research did you do for Bring Me Back?

As luck had it, I really didn’t have to research much of anything for Bring Me Back. I spent ten years working in the music industry, so I knew that side of things very well. I started out as an intern and worked my way up to executive. The final post I held before leaving to be a full-time mom was licensing music for film and television. I went to LA every month, and the company I worked for was bought by Disney, so I spent a lot of time on the lot in Burbank. It was crazy. My husband had an even longer career in music (that’s how we met) and although he has a marketing and advertising agency now, he still manages a few artists and provides advice and support to countless musicians. We have a lot of friends who are legit rock stars. We both have a good cache of backstage stories. In my experience, rock stars are regular people for the most part. Of course, many of them are “on” twenty-four hours a day. The whole world is their stage.

 

Bring Me BackBlurb for Bring Me Back

He’s 6’4” of sexy British music legend. Twenty years ago, she was his adoring fan. Now her career depends on unlocking his secrets, but he’s about to unlock her heart.

It’s more than a lucky break when music journalist Claire Abby lands a Rolling Stone cover story with British rock star Christopher Penman. Claire spent her teenage years fantasizing he was her boyfriend. In person, Chris is everything Claire feared—off-the-charts sexy, ridiculously charming, and utterly nerve-wracking. He’s not about to discuss the rumors he’s dodged for a decade. She must earn his trust and unearth the truth, but she never banked on the heartbreaking secret behind it.

His blockbuster story is her first priority when she returns home, a nearly impossible task when Christopher starts calling and flirting. There’s no denying his wit or his buttery British accent…and once she agrees to see him, It’s beyond anything her teenage brain ever imagined. But when Christopher’s painful past repeats itself, can Claire save the man she could never forget?

 

Bio: Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl, transplanted in the South, raised on ‘80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation with rock ‘n’ roll led her to spend her twenties working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. Now a married mom of two, Karen rarely stays up late in rock clubs anymore, but she does get up before dawn to write steamy contemporary romance. You can learn more about Karen at https://karenbooth.net.

You can find Karen on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Posted in authors, Guest author, Patricia Kiyono | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Heartfelt Suffering

We are asked to discuss Spring Allergies this week and, well, I don’t suffer from them.

Never mind, I do suffer from them because everyone around me suffers from them.

[I do have medication and food allergies which are a real problem, and allergies can come out of nowhere. Pain meds never worked well on me, and then I became allergic to them. I have had to go through post- surgery, kidney stones and injuries with no pain meds. I have had to turn down procedures and surgeries. Besides narcotics, I cannot take ibuprofen and Macrodantin. I am allergic to brown rice, but not white. I became allergic to amoxicillin and eggplant late in life. I am allergic to all forms of artificial sweeteners, which is a real pain now that I am a diabetic. Thank God for stevia!]

But back to seasonal allergies:

My brother was the only one in my family when I was growing up who had seasonal nasal allergies. My mother made the mistake of picking wildflowers and bringing them into our apartment and found out the hard way.

My husband gets hit pretty hard with them, as do my sons. #1Son got socked so hard when we moved to KY that he had almost continual nosebleeds for months the first year. Our family doctor said he would become acclimated to the allergens and the bleeding would stop. It did, but he still suffers, as does his oldest daughter, who has been known to get nosebleeds as well. #2 Son also has seasonal nasal allergies, as does his son.

It has been a real battle for us all, finding medicines for them that will keep working without knocking them out.

I constantly tell the kids to blow; I can’t bear sniffling. The Locals here sniffle and snuffle all the time. They seem to think it is less rude to do so than to give a quick ‘blow’ in public. Newcomers, including our late priest from Boston, offer tissues left and right to no avail. Father Christ used to say he wanted to take tissues, hold it to the people’s noses and say, “Blow, blow”, like most Easterners do with little children.

So coping with seasonal allergies for me includes:

Keeping nosebleeds to a minimum: [wet, cold washcloths across the bridge of the nose helps; in extreme cases, another one across the back of the neck will usually stop the flow.]

Keeping a large supply of decent tissues: I prefer Kleenex brand, with Puffs a close second. If noses are raw and the kid can tolerate it, I go with a box or two of the ones with lotion. (There is always a picky kid who doesn’t like the feel or the smell!)

Finding a non-drowsy daytime medication: Their doctors have had to switch them between Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra. Often, one will work for a while and then lose it effectiveness. One or another has been helped by the addition of Flonaz or Nasonex.

Realizing that hard-hitters (‘makes ‘em drowsy’) meds are acceptable, indeed, preferable at night: Benedryl for some, Chlor-Trimeton for others. My mother thought that anti-histamines were terrible for a person and they were outlawed around her. I used a sample of a children’s formula on my first son when he was very little, and was suffering greatly. He slept soundly and felt so much better when he woke that I came to believe that the break from sneezing, blowing and coughing relieves the irritation, which makes the body less susceptible to the irritants.

Clean air: Running the heat pump, air conditioner or air cleaner, (which we bought out of desperation).
When the a/c or heat pump aren’t running, a dehumidifier helps to keep the mold and irritants down when it is damp.

Of course, it is paramount to keep any and all filters clean.

Keeping the lawn mowed, (despite how much I love the wildflowers and groundcover flowers).

And, as much as I love them, not having bouquets of my flowers in the house. (#1 Son and his oldest daughter nearly choked on the perfume of the vase of lilacs I brought in last year. The bush is on the far side of the house, where I cannot readily see the flowers, but where they cannot bother the allergy sufferers.)

So, my nose does not suffer in the Spring and Fall, but my heart does for those around me.

Posted in Family, Life, spring, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Now I’m a Believer

Yep… Allergies are Real

By Jeff Salter

Goodness knows, I have several OTHER medical issues, but I never had the curse of ALLERGIES as a kid. [What little I even heard about allergies made them sound distant and esoteric — I don’t recall knowing any kids who had any.] In fact, to my best recollection, all the common plant allergies were lumped into a convenient category, HAY FEVER. And that made little sense to me, because I imagined most people were able to come and go in a typical day without encountering any hay.

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, medicine was an entirely different universe than it is now. Back then even the most ordinary things like decongestants and anti-histamines (and certain ointments) were available only by prescription. [And since no prescriptions were advertised, only the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists knew their names (or what they were for).] Conversely, in that same era there were tons of over-the-counter products which did little or no “good” but were widely used — like Castoria (the more “refined” version of Castor Oil) and Carter’s Little Liver Pills — and (oddly) apparently un-regulated.

contac

One of the very first products I recall seeing advertised (on TV) was the miracle drug CONTAC — it purportedly “cured” colds and hay fever. If you were dying with the flu, those ads seemingly promised that one capsule would enable you to leap from your sick bed and carry on a full day of work and play — and put you in a great mood, to boot. And if you suffered from “hay fever” – whatever that was – this product would cure you as long as you popped another capsule every 12 hours.

Something cleverly overlooked – or more likely HIDDEN – by the advertisers was that CONTAC did not “cure” anything. It was merely a decongestant that temporarily assisted with your ability to breathe. In other words, it merely combated the SYMPTOMS of your illness or condition. That was a distinction lost on me back then… and (evidently) still lost on most of the consumer public even today.

Looking back on it, I suppose CONTAC was the earliest popular OTC daily “maintenance” medicine. Nowadays, daily maintenance drugs seem to be the norm. [Don’t get me started]

Before I digress too far, I was only trying to point out that (as a youngster) I did not experience allergies, didn’t know anybody who had any, and there were NOT 1001 products on the marketplace to combat them.

Then I got married.

Yeah, my wife had allergies. In fact, she came from a whole family of allergies to certain foods and/or plants. On both sides of her family, she had legacy allergies. Yet I remained a scoffer.

Until I spent the night at my Aunt’s and Uncle’s house (in Biloxi) and their cat decided to sleep on the pillow next to my face. [Though that cat slept on top of the television all day, I had been given use of the cat’s nighttime sleeping room, it seems.]

Anyhow, I awoke the next morning with a raw throat and totally congested nasal passages.

Got home after that Keesler AFB Drill Weekend and announced to my wife, “I’m a believer. I’m allergic to cats.”

Fast-forward several decades.

Now there are 1001 OTC products for allergies… in addition to ever more new prescription products to combat one or more symptoms.

And, apparently in the cruel way that karma rears up and slaps you down, I’m now apparently allergic to NUMEROUS things: including cigarette smoke, gluten, artificial sweeteners, and MSG.

So, these days when other people whine about allergies, I no longer scoff. I just put my arm around their shoulders and commiserate. Then I pull out my list of allergies and we compare notes.

Question:

Are YOU allergic to anything? For how long? What do you do for it?

[JLS # 328]

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Hay fever

Spring time allergies are not something that I suffer from like so many others do. My middle child had one year where he suffered from hay fever in a bad way.

 

About six years ago in the middle of the summer Quinlan got sick. He had itchy eyes, he was sneezing, he had a headache that we couldn’t get rid of, and after a day outside his temperature spiked. When his fever got to 104 and I couldn’t get it down I called the nurse’s hotline. She stayed on the phone with me for about twenty minutes until we got the fever to come down. The next morning I took him to the doctor and she informed us it was hay fever. She prescribed allergy medicine and even with that he had symptoms off and on through the rest of the summer. The next summer it was not as bad. It took about three summers before they took him off allergy meds and he hasn’t had a summer as bad since then. It’s more bearable for him now. Those summers where his hay fever was bad he got to the point where he didn’t want to go outside.

So while my family doesn’t have to deal with spring time allergies we do have to deal with hay fever in the summer.

 

If you suffer from allergies when does it rear it’s ugly head for you?

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Spring Time Allergies

Until last year I never had any problems with spring allergies. One year in junior high, I had fall allergies. My mom wasn’t big on giving me medication so this was the first time I had to learn how to swallow a pill.

Last spring, however, my kids all came down with some kind of infection. They would be ‘off’ for a day and wake up sometime during the night with a horrible earache. The older two recovered fairly normally. The youngest took longer. She would be fine for a few hours and I would wonder why I kept her home from school, then she would burst into tears because her ear hurt so badly. We eventually discovered that she had an ear infection.

I had some of this crud and it seemed to go away after a few days. Except I had a strange headache for the rest of the summer. It felt like I had fluid in my ears and that the fluid in my head was toxic. It would come and go. I would feel cruddy for an afternoon and feel better then next day. I finally went in to the doctor and was given antibiotics for a sinus infection.

It got somewhat better, although the side effects of the antibiotic were pretty nasty. At least the headaches got better.

Fast forward to Christmas. The headaches, etc. are back. Allergy medicine is helping.

I’ve had a strange thought that the allergy is triggered by chocolate. It’s possible, but I’m not desperate enough to test the theory yet.
Posted in Joselyn Vaughn, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Sniffles and Sneezes and Coughs, Oh My!

Allergy to pollen concept. Young woman in protection mask with bunch of flower.

This used to be me. Well, I didn’t actually wear the mask, but I sure felt like I needed one.

This week our resident hound asked about springtime allergies.

Growing up, I suffered greatly from those seasonal maladies. I’d take all sorts of medications for sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and runny nose. I accepted these conditions as a fact of life and attributed them to heredity, since my mom and youngest brother also suffered. Dad used to complain that he should have bought stock in the facial tissue company.

As a child, playing outdoors never held any attraction for me, partly because proximity to plants made things worse. It was much more comfortable to stay indoors. My hobbies and passions were all things I could do indoors: music, reading, sewing, and teasing my baby brother.

When hubby and I bought our first house, we planted a garden. I’d never done that before, and I wanted to try. But taking care of it meant I had to go outside, which I didn’t like. There were bugs out there, and stuff that made me sneeze. The venture wasn’t successful. Occasionally, I’d have plants inside the house to spiff things up, but they didn’t survive either. Every time I remembered to water them (which wasn’t often), I’d sneeze, and then I’d have to grab a tissue. By the time I finished emptying my nose, I’d forget about the plants.

While I was pregnant with our second daughter, we experienced an unusually hot spring, which led to an unusually hot summer. She wasn’t due until the middle of August and I guess I kicked up quite a fuss. We had central air put in so that I was easier to live with. But in addition to being less cranky, I noticed fewer problems with the springtime sniffles.

Several years ago, my doctor prescribed a low dose of an allergy medication as a maintenance drug to take year-round. I faithfully swallowed those pills twice a day. That seemed to work quite well. When the next spring came around, my symptoms were much less severe, and that encouraged me to embrace the idea of “maintenance.” I continued on that plan for many, many years. I also took shots after enduring tests that told me I was allergic to most plants and several foods.

Eventually, the doctor weaned me off the shots. And somewhere along the line — I honestly can’t remember why or when — I stopped taking the allergy medication. And for some reason, I’m not suffering like I used to. Maybe I outgrew my allergies. Or maybe the shots and the pills cured me. I have no idea what happened and I really don’t intend to pursue an answer. I’m just choosing to be thankful that I can breathe through my nose and don’t have to keep a box of tissues handy all the time.

But I still can’t handle plants. They don’t make me sneeze any more, but they need more attention than I’m willing to give them.

Does spring time give you the sniffles?

Posted in author's life, Patricia Kiyono, spring | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Review and Recommendation: The Septimus Heap Series

It’s a “Free Week” at 4F,1H and it also happens to be Holy Week, the week before Easter. For me, that means plenty of house and food prep. This year finds me doing less and moving slower than I normally would, but still enjoying myself…and I still find it busy.

So this week, I would like to give a quick review of a charming series of books,[please don’t let the next part stop you from continuing], which I have read on the advice of my grandson:The Septimus Heap series.

This delightful series is marketed toward the “Tweens”, ( post kiddie, pre-YA), but unless the kids reading them are really astute and mindful, they will miss a great deal of the nuances, personalities and humor within the lengthy books.

(I believe that other “Seniors” would find them as enjoyable as I have.)

The book page count sometimes into the 600s, but are such enjoyable reads, you never dread the numbers, but the ends. My grandson zipped through them when he was 13, and was not in the least self-conscious about picking them up from the junior book section.

English author Angie Sage has created a world with people who were human, but their world is not ours. Although it is another ‘boy wizard’ series, it has very little in common story-wise with Harry Potter. (That is not to imply that I do not love the HP novels and movies.)

As in the Potter books, evil is always evil, honor, friendship and family are to be maintained, help and forgiveness are a norm. However, Sage’s world is gentler.

Beside the enjoyable humor within the books, there are few truly evil people. The ones who seem bad are often misguided or are converted one way or another. (One terrible character has his memory wiped. Because he was indeed terrible, the ‘good guys’ replaced his thoughts with the understanding that he wants to join the circus to become a buffoon! With the way it is told, it is a LOL moment.)

Adults and older children would get much more out of the subtle hints given throughout the storyline and the continuity of the characters’ characters than younger readers. The situations, surroundings and personalities are incorporated so seamlessly within the series that I seldom saw the significance of many of them until their revelations, and that is one of the best recommendations I can give for any story. Far too often, the plots are all-too obvious to me.

I cannot even begin to describe the artful, and almost continual, dry humor added throughout the story.

I hope that if you have a child in your life who likes to read, you will consider reading this series with them.
If you have a child who doesn’t like to read or has problems reading, I hope you will consider reading this series to them.
I hope you will consider reading this series for yourself.

I wish all of our Christian readers a Happy Easter!

Posted in authors, book review, Books, characters, childhood, Family, favorite books, free week, imagination, reading, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 8 Comments