Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Another Excellent Moment in Parenting: The Travel Edition...

It's amazing how time erases the bad memories, takes the edges off the horrible moments, the bitter turns. Four years ago my husband and I packed up our five year old and two-turning-three year old and went to New Zealand for seven weeks, to tour around in a camper. A teeny tiny camper.

I have a few really rough memories of this trip. But just a few. There was the night Lucy attacked Adam's face like some kind of feral wombat. There was the street corner in Queenstown when I walked away from my melting-down daughter and truly considered leaving her there. There are minor moments of irritation and exasperation, but largely my memories of that trip are wonderstruck. They are rosey and exuberant and even the bad times seem funny now.

Which is why we signed up to do it again. This time in England. 20 days, a nine year old and a seven year old and a teenier-tinier camper.

We got home from this "vacation" last night and so the bitter turns are fresh and this is what it's like for twenty days in that camper - it's like traveling with terrible roommates.

Like the worst roommates.

Roommates who don't cook. Or carry their own garbage. Roommates who constantly borrow money without paying it back. Roommates who never clean up or when they do - their clean up requires another clean up. Hours spent in campground kitchens trying to dam the rivers they've made on the counters.

Roommates who, when tired and hungry just sit down on the floor of the pub and pout. Roommates who really really don't want to see another castle unless there is a gift shop at the end of it (so they can borrow more money) and then if that gift shop is closed will wail so loudly, flounce so hard - everyone around them will stare, mouths agape, proving definitively that my roommates are the loudest things in England.

And Wales. And Scotland.

While hiking through Wales, behind a waterfall, even -  my room mates wanted to talk about their Halloween costumes.

In the middle of a tour through underground tunnels and caverns beneath Nottingham castle - truly one of the most amazing and cool things we did - my roommate wanted to talk about why Voldemort didn't have a nose.

One of my roommates only ate eggs and hamburgers. For twenty straight days.

But my other roommate ate everything - haggis, blood pudding. Mussels fresh from the sea.  And both my roommates wrote in their journals and drew amazing pictures of the places we'd been. And they really got into the rugby we watched. They stood transfixed through a tour of the World War II war rooms in Dover and a Viking Village and a turn-of-the-century factory.

They know quite a bit about Richard III.

Everyday they walked at least five miles, sometimes as many as eleven. Chatting the whole time - cheerfully.  They talked to strangers and asked questions.  They shook hands with people and a lot of the time I was really proud of them.

One of them wants to live in Cardiff. The other in Edinburgh. Both of them want to go to Japan in four years to do it all again.

I can't say I'm ready to do that this morning. But give me some time.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Get It Together Blog Hop!!! An attempt to organize the Writing Life....

I love organization. And I love office supplies. Highlighters. I really love highlighters. And lists. Lists are my favorite things.  There’s a point in every book when the fog clears and suddenly I’m able to make lists of all the scenes coming up. Lists of the big changes. The character reveals. It’s a huge breakthrough moment every book. 

But I can never start with a list. 

And I love the idea of all those things making writing easier. I mean, I’m prepared for that. I really am. I have ALL THESE HIGHLIGHTERS. 

Sadly, my books start with a mess. And they are written in an even bigger mess.  

For some reason, the better it’s going, the more chaos I need.  I end up working at my dining room table.  (check out my Instagram account for what that looks like). And then when it’s really going well I write in my daughter’s bedroom. (Again, I instagramed that – don’t tell my daughter).

Last year I was rewriting The Truth About Him – and the rewrite was good. Hard, like crushing. Like  don’t-shower-for-days-who-needs-pants? kind of hard. But I was really pleased with how it was going.  So, everyday I found myself on the old couch in the play room with all of my kid’s toys stacked beside me. This pile of toys would fall down on me through out the day and I’d shove it away – not put anything away because that would mess with the chaos. 

My husband called it my hamster cage.  I called it my hamster cage.  My hamster cage was magic.

But it’s September and that means the kids are back to school and I finally have these days back after taking most of the summer off reading great books and getting new ideas. And while organization doesn’t help me write books it does get me motivated to do it. The way going shopping for school supplies made me excited for the school year - getting out my calendar and planning ahead makes me excited for the work to come.  It creates a framework around the chaos - makes the chaos seem like a good idea. A safe place. Something normal. 

I'm looking forward to the rest of these blog posts and getting some tips and ideas but mostly seeing how everyone else frames the mess and chaos of their writing life. 

There's an amazing giveaway attached - and anything organized by Lexi Haughton is about the most amazing thing - so you're going to want to enter this!!

And here are the rest of the participating authors! 

Monday, August 31st

Tuesday, September 1st
Wednesday, September 2nd
Thursday, September 3rd
Friday, September 4th

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Who is Dylan Daniels? bonus material and EVERYTHING I LEFT UNSAID preorder thank you contest!

Hey! I'm so thrilled about the fantastic early press Everything I Left Unsaid  is getting and I wanted to let you know that I'm planning some special stuff for Everything I Left Unsaid and The Truth About Him.

First of all - I'm running a preorder Thank You Contest. If you've preordered the books, fill out the forms below and you're entered to win a $50.00 gift card to the e-retailer of your choice.  I know these books are a little pricier than my others - so it's just a way of saying thanks!

Everything I Left Unsaid:  http://goo.gl/forms/oqJYVwtJHf


The Truth About Him:  http://goo.gl/forms/rZjxTMhl5o

Also I STRONGLY urge you to sign up for my newsletter at www.molly-okeefe.com  Not only do I send out my The Author Is newsletter with fantastic (if I do say so myself) interviews with some of my favorite writers, (often with giveaways and exclusive excerpts) but in between the October release of Everything I Left Unsaid and the November release of The Truth About Him - I'll be sending out four Dylan Daniel's flashback scenes so readers will get a glimpse into the events that formed my mysterious hero. 

So - preorder and fill out the form and then sign up for my newsletter so I can send you delicious bonus material!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Another Excellent Moment in Parenting: Music Lessons or The Unfair Comparison

My husband is a self-taught drummer. His father is a self-taught drummer. Adam grew up with music and people playing music. He went to concerts at a young age - the Bee Gee's was his first one.

I played the clarinet (badly) for one year. And the hand bells in a church bell choir (which I think probably gives you a pretty good idea of what kind of kid I was). And I grew up in a house with one Crystal Gayle record.

All of this to say, in matters of music education, I leave the heavy-lifting to Adam. And Adam wanted the kids to learn how to read music and so we put our son in piano. He didn't love it, but he really seemed to 'get it.' So we were encouraged.

However over the summer our son started to really get into music and he had some pretty eclectic taste - Peter Gabriel, The Talking Heads, Kiss and Bruno Mars. He didn't want to play piano anymore, he wanted to play bass guitar. Probably because he wanted to be Gene Simmons.

Whatever, he was making choices and so we went with bass in the new year.

We have a very wonderful music school in our neighborhood and the bass teacher is a pretty funky guy who plays in a jazz band and tours with a blue grass band and I can't quite meet his eyes because he's cute. And our son really likes him and he seems to like our son  - so yay! High fives all the way around.

Adam and I take very little convincing that our son is going to be a very cool bass-playing kid. He was probably going to be a musical genius. How could he not? We were doing everything right!


A few months went by - things seemed great. Adam and I got in the practice of dropping our son off at the lesson and running errands. So we weren't hanging out outside the door of the lessons. Practice at home was going pretty well. Not that I know, really, anything about the bass guitar. Hand bells, sure... bass guitar, not so much. But it seemed to be going well.

Until one day I dropped our son off and then went to pick up our daughter to a friend's house.  As we climb the steps to the house I hear this amazing classical piano music. And I think - well they are amazing parents too, playing classical music while the girls probably color or something.

I knock on the door, the music stops and the eleven year old sister to my daughter's friend answers the door. I am stunned. Shocked - I had no idea she could play like that.

I'm invited in by the girl's grandmother and I ask to hear another song. The grandmother goes and gets me a glass of orange juice, some cookies and a box of Kleenex (I think she's politely telling me I have a booger and quickly blow my nose.) She selects a song for her grand daughter to play. I sit. The girl begins to play and...

It's insane. It's powerful and passionate and HARD. Her little-girl fingers are all over that piano, they are a blur. And she's eleven.

By the second bar I'm in tears. And I can't stop. I am clutching tissues to my face. Guzzling orange juice to replenish my suddenly drastically depleted liquids.

She makes a little mistake and that somehow makes it worse. Because she's so gifted but she's also eleven. The grandmother turns the page of the music and then leaves her hand on the girl's shoulder and she's clearly so proud. And I cry harder.

The song ends and the girl turns to me and I clap and apologize because I am a snotty teary mess.
"It's all right," she says, "It happens a lot."

Because she's eleven. And she's got a gift.

I left that house, eyes swollen, my pockets full of Kleenex,  literally aglow with the beauty of the world. With the power of music. In love with kids and their untapped talents. In love with my own kid, who was on that same musical path. Who I was sure - utterly convinced - was only moments away from such an impressive display.

I went to go pick up my son and I was early so I would get to hear a bit of his lesson. And I was excited about that. Excited to see my son's growing relationship to music and to his individual talent and taste as a young artist. I was excited to listen through the door as he struggled and practiced and got better. I told myself to be realistic. To not make unfair comparisons.

I thought I was prepared.

I let myself into the basement where the studio was and I was barely through the door when I heard the teacher's voice saying. "Hey, hey buddy...please. PLEASE! Stop rolling around on the ground."

He couldn't be talking to my kid. Could he?

I peeked through the window in the door and there he was - my musical prodigy - rolling around on the floor, singing the KISS classic - I Want To Rock And Roll All Night, in a strange duck voice.

Right. Yes.

We got home, had a long conversation about how to behave in lessons. And after we put him to bed Adam and I had a long laugh. What else are you going to do?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What's Happening For Me in 2015!!

Oh! It's a busy busy year, folks.

In May, I'm SO THRILLED to be a part of Brenda Novak's amazing fundraising efforts for Diabetes Research. She has three anthologies coming out; SWEET DREAMS which features ten new romantic suspense stories, SWEET SEDUCTION which will have all new erotica from your favorite erotica authors and SWEET TALK with all new contemporary romances from yours truly and some of the hottest names in the genre!

 Look at the amazing authors involved in SWEET TALK!

You can preorder copies here and here and here !

My story is about two childhood friends falling in love over five Christmas Eves. I pretty much love it to pieces.

In the fall/winter of 2015 I have a new series coming out with Bantam. Book 1 is called EVERYTHING I LEFT UNSAID and book 2 is THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU.

This is the story of a woman on the run from an abusive husband who finds a cell phone and starts a very exciting, but very dangerous relationship with the man on the other end.

More details to come.

And, for those of you waiting for more of my historical western series - the wait is almost over. This summer I will release book 2 TEMPTED, followed quickly by REDEEMED.

Phew - that's a lot of stuff. Through it all, you can sign up for my The Author Is...  newsletter . Every month I interview one of my favorite authors, about their books and their process and careers. There are usually books given away - it's a pretty cool thing. Here is the schedule!

January - Cecilia Grant
February - J. Kenner
March - Brenda Novak
April - Nalini Singh
May - Carolyn Crane
June - Megan Hart
July - Joan Johnston
August - Coutney Milan
September - Deanna Raybourn
October - Jill Shalvis

Saturday, January 17, 2015

That one time (actually three times) I tried to start a food fight

When my brother was in High School he was kicked out of school for starting a food fight in study hall. Apparently he threw my mom's knox blocks (jello squares for those of you who didn't grow up with my mom) across the room and all hell broke loose. There's a good chance he'll comment on this blog and say this isn't at all right, but that's what I remember.

And more than remember, I dreamt about it. I fantasized about it. I created an 80's pop sound track for it. I recast my brother as Judd Nelson. (It was an easy switch, they had the same mullet). Starting a food fight just seemed so cinematic. So perfectly high school.

I was not the kind of kid who could start a food fight. I was not that brave. I had a terrible throwing arm. I was terrified of getting kicked out of school. I was weirdly self-conscious.

But I wanted to be. I wanted to be that kind of leader, that kind of bad-ass. The kind of kid who knew just when a knox block was needed.

Flash forward to college.  I spent a huge amount of time in college at my best friend's house. The Kavanaugh house was an incredibly happy place. There was singing, and parties and turkey dinners. Hijinks and practical jokes seemed to abound. JK had two brother's who always seemed to be Up To Something.

For Christmas one year JK's dad took her to get a fancy new hair cut and a new wardrobe. I think I was actually waiting at her parent's house for her to come home, like the lame best friend with nowhere to go. She arrived, totally beautiful and transformed,  decked out in new clothes with a great hair cut and we hung out in her kitchen and laughed and laughed. We were both giddy and silly and for some reason in my mind, it seemed like the PERFECT time for a food fight and I smeared red jelly frosting in her hair.

This was...twenty years ago and I remember her face perfectly.

She was horrified. And hurt. And FURIOUS.

It was a stupid idea, I realized it the second my fingers left her hair. It was the exact opposite of the right time for a food fight. And there was no way I could explain that for a second I kind of felt like we were in a John Hughes film. I could not have gotten the situation more wrong.

The next year, my best friend had moved to Chicago and I met Adam, my now husband. It was spring or maybe early fall and we were at a school-sponsored party. Which meant it was a little stiff, a little lame. There was a keg of beer no one was drinking. And those sumo wrestler fat suits in a bouncy castle. There was a table of food. Carrots with ranch dip. Chips with salsa. A band, I think.

Honestly, it really felt like it NEEDED a food fight. If a food fight started it would have been epic. Memorable. We would talk about it for years. It felt like my moment. So I took a chip, covered it in salsa and flung it across Adam's shirt.

He was horrified. And confused. And not at all entertained. I tried to make my case but he wasn't having it. He cleaned up his shirt and we went to go see a movie.

I have no idea why I've been thinking about this. My hairdresser the other day was talking about how the really embarrassing moments we have in our lives are painfully internal. They rarely involve a room full of people pointing and staring, but are instead those horrible stomach-churning moments when you realize how painfully out of step you are with what's happening around you.  I love embarrassing moment stories. I have a couple, shined to a high polish. But they're easy, really. I'm not really that embarrassed.

These food fight things, though...I'm still cringing.

And you would think after these two terrible food fight attempts, I would give up the dream. But no.

The next year, at my five year high school reunion, I threw a handful of cake at Brian Cater and instead of being horrified, his eyes lit up and he grabbed a handful and threw it at me and it was on.  I had my moment. A giant cake food fight. Organizers were not pleased. And it was a mess.

But it was perfect.