May 02

Finding My Tribe

Tribe (n): a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.

 

I remember the first time I went to a writers meeting. It was in the fall, circa 2007, at a sweet little restaurant about an hour from my house.

I was terrified. Sick-to-my-stomach, close-to-hyperventilating, certain-I-was-going-to-make-an-ass-of-myself, TERRIFIED. These women were writers. Real, honest-to-goodness writers. I was just a wannabe, with one not-so-good book under my belt. I wasn’t published, had yet to have even query an agent, and knew nothing about the industry. Or even how to properly format a manuscript. Certainly, I had no business being there.

But I screwed up my courage and went to a monthly MMRWA meeting, because I desperately wanted to be a writer.

They welcomed me with open arms. And when I say open, I mean it. Pretty sure I got a hug that day.

Discovering other people heard voices in their heads—which meant I wasn’t alone in my particular brand of crazy—was a gift and a miracle.

I found my tribe.

Now, over a decade later, that tribe meets once a year for a special Retreat From Harsh Reality. I’ve attended every year but one (when I was in Paris for a romance festival—they forgave me, lol). From 2008 when I was six months pregnant, to 2009 when my baby wasn’t even a year old and I had to cart around a breast pump all weekend, to 2014 when my first book came out and I received a plaque from the group in celebration, to 2015 when I received an Angel Award for service to the chapter, to this very weekend. April 2018.

The Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America chapter is my home away from home. My tribe. A small “social division” of romance writers in Michigan, who are part of a larger “traditional society consisting of [a] communit[y]” of worldwide romance writers.

We come from all walks of life and are at all stages of our careers. Some of us are pre-pubbed, some are querying. Some have self-pubbed their tenth book, some have sold their first. We write contemporary, historical, suspense, cozy mystery, sci-fi romance, and everything else you can think of.

Everyone is welcome. Everyone is appreciated.

And there are a ton of laughs.

At the Toot Your Own Horn ceremony, where everyone gets a chance to celebrate an accomplishment from the past year.

This year, our speaker was the incomparable Jennifer Probst. She’s funny, brilliantly intelligent, a wonderful writer, and slipped right into our tribe as if she belonged there. I picked up her craft book, WRITE NAKED, and then a romance novel, SEARCHING FOR DISASTER, because I simply couldn’t resist.

 

Jennifer, speaking on craft.

 

 

My roommate was a long time friend and critique partner, my fav-fav-fav Tracy Brogan, who I have known since those way back pre-pub years. We brainstormed current books, laughed over (fixed) plot holes in HIGHLAND SURRENDER and (fixed) character problems in A DANCE WITH SEDUCTION, snickered into wine glasses, and ate Doritos. (She politely shared the nacho cheese flavor. I hoarded and ate an entire bag of cool ranch flavor…Is that even a real flavor?!)

Our weekend snack table, courtesy of Tracy, because I was busy eating.

 

Meika Usher, my almost-weekly coffee shop compadre, received a first book plaque for SOMETHING SO SWEET, and we celebrated the May 2 release of her second book. I knew a few weeks in advance she would be receiving it, and it was the hardest thing to keep secret.

Courtesy Meika, cuz I forgot.

The Angel Award nominee was Diana Stout, who is professor, friend, don’t-forget-to-write heckler, cookbook author, chapter website guru, and all around deserved of the award.

Words abounded in the write-ins. Craft was discussed in depth during Jennifer’s presentation on WRITE NAKED. Raffles were won and lost and won again. Ideas were exchanged during the industry talk.

And many, many laughs happened around bowls of chocolate, glasses of wine, mugs of coffee, and pads of paper.

Sometimes life gifts you with a place you can belong without working at it. A place that sees you, in all your crazy glory. A place that pulls you up when you’re falling down, lifts you higher when you’re already on cloud nine, and most importantly, speaks your language.

MMRWA is my tribe.

 

 

Mar 31

Apologies, Dearest

My Dearest Blog:

I must apologize. I have neglected you.

I could offer reasons, such as I spent a few days in the hospital in January, and another ten days quite ill. I spent Christmas in the Keys. There is also the book I am writing, and the family I’ve been loving, and the workshop I taught, and the taxes I’ve been working on, and the new chemo I started. (PS Dear Readers, this goes back to the Franken-Foot issue, which I wrote about here.)

However, all of those are really just excuses for my poor attention to your lovely blogness. I promise, I shall do better in the coming days.

Please forgive this writer!

Your Favorite Blogger,

A

Nov 27

Release Day!

After much editing and writing and plotting, Jones has finally found his happy ever after! I’m pleased as can be to announce that THE LADY & MR. JONES is finally out. You can find it at all the usual places, my dears. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

She can never be his…

Born in the rookeries, the hard life is something Jones is all too familiar with. Saved as a young boy, he was trained to be a spy, one of the best–elite, in fact. He now spends his days serving His Majesty in espionage, hunting rogue spies. His latest assignment, though, has him tracking a fellow spy…

Cat Ashdown is a baroness. Nothing is more important than protecting five hundred years of heritage. She knows every detail of every estate that commands the largest income in Britain— yet her father placed her inheritance in trust to her uncle who is forcing her to marry a man she has no desire for. The baroness’s battle against law and convention leads her to Jones and results that are surprising … and possibly unwanted.

 

 

 

 

Entangled

Amazon     |     Barnes & Noble     |     Kobo     |     iBooks

 

“With an adventurous plot, an intensely sexy hero, and an appealing heroine, The Lady and Mr. Jones is one of my favourite romances this year!” ~Vanessa Kelly, USA Today Bestselling Author

“The plot is intriguing, the characters are likeable and their HEA is hard won; the book earns a solid recommendation.” ~All About Romance

 


Want to help an author out? I would be most appreciative if you could spread the word by joining my Thunderclap campaign. It takes about 30 seconds to add your Twitter or Facebook support, but it makes a big difference to this girl! Just click here: http://thndr.me/PQh2Ba

 

Nov 15

Goodreads Giveaway is Almost Up!

Just a few more days to enter the Goodreads Giveaway for

THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK

Be sure to hop on over and enter!

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Smuggler Wore Silk by Alyssa Alexander

The Smuggler Wore Silk

by Alyssa Alexander

Giveaway ends November 17, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Nov 12

My lap is empty, but my heart is full

The vet told me it was the last best decision I could make for my baby girl. The one that would close her eyes. End her life.

So it was.

 

She had a bladder tumor. She could not find the litter box. Sometimes I would wake up covered in her urine because she’d lost control in the middle of night—so I would change the sheets, my pajamas, and go back to bed.

She could not stop it, so I did not get angry. I just cuddled her, sighed “Oh, baby girl”, and did what must be done.

Now she is gone.

Puck. Pucker. Bak-bak. Old girl. Grumpy Puck.

She was mine, from 8 weeks old. Mr. Alexander locked me into a room with three kittens. Naturally, we went home with one.

Those first few months I carried her in my 1990’s overalls front pocket or in my arms to keep the older cats from beating on her. Once she’d been assimilated, she was into everything, full of mischief and fire and trouble.

Puck. From A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

She also followed me everywhere. Cuddled on my lap. Slept on my chest overnight. Curled up in the curve behind my knees when I slept on my side.

19 years, she did this.

At 17 years

 

At 7 years

She also took years off my life when she climbed onto the screen of my 6th floor apartment, knocked out the screen, and then clung to the brick until I rescued her. She took another year off when nearly got hit by a car racing across the road after she’d escaped from our first house.

She played with laser pointers and had the highest jump of any cat I’d ever seen. She came when I called, knew how to ask (demand) food or fresh water. If you petted her long enough she would drool with satisfaction, and when she napped deeply, she would snore.  She would patiently follow me around until I found a seat so she could jump up on my lap, find a comfy spot, and take a little catnap.

 

2015

Even more, she would let me hold her like a baby. Utterly trusting as I carried her about the house, whether she was three years old or thirteen or nineteen.

In the last days I would put her in the litter every few hours, just as if she were my toddler. I cleaned up after her when she used my bathroom rug or Mr. Alexander’s blue jeans instead. I fed her special prescription food for kidney disease—and she was excellent about telling me when it was time for food. She’d sit in the center of the kitchen, staring at me until I got out the can. Even if it took 10 minutes because I was putting dinner together, she’d stay there. Waiting for me.

And on the morning of her trip up the rainbow to the Great Kitty Playground in the Sky, I laid on the couch with her for an hour, letting her sleep and snore and drool with happiness on my lap.

When the moment came, I held her until her eyes closed. I wished her luck. And I let her absolute trust fill my heart.

Pucker was mine. She always will be.

But when I went to bed last night, there was no kitty curled up on my chest.

 

 

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