Gracie’s Plan by Rose Lange, a review

gracie's plan
Gracie’s Plan by Rose Lange is a contemporary spicy romance featuring a hunky hero, lots of sexual tension and snappy dialogue.

Not many people get a second chance at love, but that’s just what Annabelle and her ex-husband Kade Hoffman receive as a parting gift from Annabelle’s recently departed Aunt Grace. Forced to live in close quarters, Annabelle and Kade must decide if they will continue to fight their attraction to each other or if they will repair their once happy relationship. Love’s road is never smooth, and Annabelle must confront her demons, an abusive past that has left her uncertain and afraid to love again. Though she tries to push him away, Kade isn’t ready to accept defeat. With his tender care, he helps heal old wounds and ignites a passion that was all part of Gracie’s Plan.

A quick, entertaining read, the story seamlessly progresses from scene to scene while still giving the reader dynamic fleshed out characters and plenty of steamy descriptions. Though the story has a satisfying conclusion, the reader is left wishing for more of Lange’s clever storytelling. A fun, sexy debut novel! Looking forward to future publications by Rose Lange.

A Writer’s Resolutions

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  1. Write, write, write every day.

To answer your question, yes, signing your name on a credit card slip for delivery totally counts as writing.

  1. Avoid social media when working.

No, you do not want to check your European castle board on Pinterest to help with ‘the writing process.’ You know you’ll only spend hours organizing your boards and dreaming about buying a castle you can’t afford  instead of using the board for historical accuracy like you originally intended.

  1. Look for inspiration in the world around you.

That means you can totally buy the French Firefighter Calendar and write it off as a business expense. Talk about inspiration for some sexy heroes! Hubba, hubba!

  1. Put the time into researching.

Calm down, Homeland Security. Just because you Googled it, doesn’t mean you really want to kill someone with exotic poisons, nor do you intend to forge a buttload of money using only your Smartphone and the color copier at Staples.

  1. Find a writing buddy or two and collaborate.

And if you get side-tracked by a bottle (or three) of red wine, some chocolate and the latest gossip about your favorite TV shows, just remember, it’s all part of the process.

 

Happy New Year to all my writing (and non-writing) friends! May your wit be sharp and your computers virus free!

I don’t mean to interrupt…

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I have a tendency to over-share. And blurt things out when others are talking. Oh, oh, oh! And sometimes I say what everyone is thinking but no one has the guts to say. Then there’s that awkward silence where I’m the recipient of baleful glares of offended individuals who act like I’ve suggested we hunt baby rabbits for sport instead of providing an honest answer to a question no one but me had the courage to answer.

Yup. I’m that person. It’s a problem, one that ADD meds have gone a long way to fix. While I don’t know if I will ever be ‘cured,’ life with ADD has given me a unique perspective on this idea of compulsion and what it means to act without thinking.

After a particularly embarrassing incident where I recounted to a casual acquaintance what happened to me while on the dentist’s chair with a mouth full of goo, (BTW, I puked all over the dental technician and bawled like a baby), I wanted to know what compels me (aside from the misfiring synapses in my brain) to act as I do. As it often does when I think about my thinking, I dissected the conversation I had with all the skill of a sports commentator asking a disgraced athlete how they feel after a major screw up.

Chet: (Don’t ask me why, but my snarky inner commentator is male and named Chet. I would have liked a Filipe with a sexy Spanish accent or maybe a Christophe who whispers French poetry to me when not making me analyze my actions, but I got Chet–a balding, middle-aged man with a nasal twang and a burgeoning potbelly. I’ve learned to live with the disappointment). So, you just alienated that acquaintance in an epic story fail. Tell me, Sara, how do you feel?

                Me: Well, Chet. I’m feeling pretty shitty about now. I can’t believe I told her I barfed all over the hygienist.

Chet: That was something to witness. If we look at your encounter on instant replay, you can see the exact moment when the expression on her face turns from polite interest to veiled horror. (Chet circles the woman’s face in red marker a number of times).

                Me: (I put my hands over face to block out image).

Chet: I think everyone is wondering the same thing right about now: Why did you tell her that story?

                Me: (I remove hands from face and shrug). She asked how I was. I answered honestly.

Chet: Classic rookie mistake. Most people don’t want to know how you are. They ask the question to be polite. You should have said you were fine and kept your mouth shut. (Chet places a big red X over my mouth). Easy win right there.

                Me: But I wasn’t fine. I felt awful. Besides, she asked.

Chet: Is she a close friend?

                Me: No.

Chet: I think it’s safe to rule out the possibility of her asking you how you feel ever again. She might even move to the other side of the street if she sees you coming. (Chet circles woman and draws a big arrow pointing away from me).

                Me: That’s not right. It should be acceptable for someone to answer with the truth.

Chet: You’re telling me you never lie. I find that hard to believe.

                Me: No…not exactly. (I squirm because, hey, we’ve all told a Little White Lie before).

Chet: So you do lie. What makes a person do that?

                Me: To avoid hurting someone’ s feelings or to spare someone you love a truth too horrible to contemplate.

Chet: What if you could only tell the truth? What would happen then?

                Me: I’d be alienated. People would avoid my company and the friends I do have would disappear.

And just like that an idea formed. What if someone was compelled to tell the truth? What would happen to that person over time? As I explored this concept, my heroine took shape, a lonely outcast shunned by a society that values deception over honesty. How had this woman survived given her strange compulsion?

This idea of never lying intrigued me and I explored the various emotional and societal ramifications of never telling a lie. Navigating social interactions would be difficult. My heroine would have to answer honestly and in doing so would find herself on the outside of what is ‘socially acceptable.’

How had that shaped her? Because no matter the compulsion–telling the truth, lying, or over sharing–our compulsions do shape who we are. They shape our thoughts and color our experiences. The trick, as my heroine and I have learned for ourselves, is deciding how much space to give those compulsions and whether or not to let them become who we are.

 

#Pitmad

If you have a twitter account and are looking for an agent, join in on what’s left of #pitmad today March 11th and pitch your manuscript in 140 words or less! If an agent favorites your tweet, then that means they want to see your manuscript. It’s fun seeing everyone’s tweets condensing their novels in so few words.

Here’s my favorite tweet (I have five I’m cycling through every hour).

Woo the girl. Find the traitor. Save the country. Too bad Tavis didn’t count on falling in love. #pitmad #R

Logic and the Creative Mind

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When I was in college, I remember taking a logic class as part of a requirement for my linguistics minor. Aside from my French Civics class that I took while living in France (given by the most boring little French man quite possibly in the world), it is the only other course in which I received less than a B.

Logical, I am not. There was this one theorem that my professor taught that went something like this:

A equals B but B does not necessarily equal A.

It made absolutely no sense to me. How could two things be equivalent but not? My professor tried explaining it to me. My husband has tried explaining it to me (using the example that all Jacuzzis are hot tubs but not all hot tubs are Jacuzzis). That made more sense than whatever my professor had been trying to get through to me. Finally, laboriously, a breakthrough came, that wonderful ‘aha’ moment when everything crystallizes into perfect clarity.

When I started writing I finally understood.

All writers are dreamers, but not all dreamers are writers.

A equals B but B does not necessarily equal A.

By their very nature, writers are dreamers. I firmly believe that. People who write have such a gift for elevating the ordinary to extraordinary and creating stories that inspire, excite, and provoke thought. It always amazes me how writers are able to take the same words that are available for everyone to use and arrange them in a certain way to make something completely unique and fresh. We all have the words at our disposal and there is no end to the amount of brilliant people in this world with novel ideas floating in their heads, so why doesn’t everyone writer?

That’s when I understood what my professor and my husband had been trying to tell me. You can be a dreamer and create elaborate stories in your head, but if you don’t write them down, can you call yourself an author? What about all those so-called writers who talk a big talk on Facebook or Twitter about ‘working on their novel’ but accomplish nothing? If they do not put their ideas on paper, then can they be called a writer?

Personally, I don’t think so, and it’s for this simple reason: it is intimidating to take that leap.

There is a certain amount of vulnerability that exists in taking that step from thinker to doer, from dreamer to writer. Putting words out for people to read is a lot like an open house–you never know who is going to come, what they are going to like or dislike or how they are going to leave the place when they are done. It’s daunting, which is why up until this year I was a dreamer, not a writer.

Since taking that step, though, I’ve come to realize something else about writing that has made it easier to open that door and let people in. While it’s true that writing allows for vulnerability, it also forges a powerful connection between writer and reader. Words have meaning and carry tremendous power. Knowing that my words have the potential to inspire, excite or provoke thought is enough to keep me going in spite of the possibility that those who come to my open house are going to trash the joint.

If you’re like me and you’ve spent much of your life as B does not necessarily equal A, make that leap of faith. Make A equal B and see your dreams become reality.

Economizing words, or “How I learned to say more by saying less”

This year as I was working on my novel, I entered several writing contests. Most of them were fairly prescriptive demanding so many words about a specific prompt. Regardless of the constraints, it was easy writing, and I was able to successfully complete several entries before summer had ended. There was one contest that I struggled with, however. The Museo de la Palabra, or Museum of Words, sponsored by the Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation was a definite challenge. Their goal, “to unite people by using words,” through fiction writing.  Sounds innocuous enough, right? The catch, though, is that all stories had to be 100 words or less.

Let’s be real for a minute. Brevity is not my strong suit. I like to write and have the tendency to be fairly verbose. There is something so intoxicating about seeing one’s thoughts written out for all to see that it can be difficult to get to the point. Yet here I was presented with a unique challenge–to create a complete story in 100 words. It was a struggle to find that one experience that could tell a story that was meaningful  in so few words.

In the end, I picked two experiences, snippets really, of what my students experience in their daily lives as they navigate life and culture in America. Since the contest is still being judged, I cannot share those with you; however, I can share my first attempt at writing micro-fiction. This story entitled, “The Translator,” is based on a real experience I shared with one of my students when I first started teaching. Since the contest specified fiction, I didn’t feel it would be fair to submit this work, even though it was pretty funny and is one of my favorite stories to tell. It did help me to narrow my focus on one particular experience and to practice economizing my words.

Enjoy!

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“A favor, please, maestra,” he begs, so when the doctor has quieted, he watches and waits.  My mind spins grasping at words, a synonym or a phrase that comes close.  I reject them all.  Desperately, I lower my clasped hands in front of my stomach and wave them back and forth like a snake.  A low “psst” emerges from my lips.  “¿Difícil?” I ask.  He reddens and shakes his head no.  When we leave, I tell him, “Let’s never speak of this again.” Later, I find that elusive word, “orinar,” forever destroying my dreams of translating. Defeated by urination.

If my characters were actors…

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It’s been almost a month since I’ve sat down to write anything of particular note. With the holiday season and inevitable stress that accompanies “the most wonderful time of the year,” there just hasn’t been time. That, and I have come down with the worst head cold I’ve had in a long time. Not only does my head feel like it has been stuffed with cotton, but I’m pretty sure that my brains have oozed out of my ears somewhere along the way. Most wonderful time of year indeed! Try most infectious time of the year, though I highly doubt Andy Williams would have sold many records had he sung that.

Rantings about holiday lyrics aside, I have been sick, and it was sometime this week in one of my fever riddled dreams that I suddenly became aware of a problem. I had left my characters in my second book in a rather uncomfortable situation. Though I hadn’t thought of them in weeks, I became instantly worried about them, knowing that both of my main characters are impatient and dislike being idle for large stretches of time. I so wanted to write and conclude the scene that I had left them in, but was too exhausted to even move from bed, let alone write my characters into neutral ground. I wrestled with this dilemma until a NyQuil and Sudafed induced hallucination came to me and whispered, Think of them as actors.

Grasping onto that thought like a sick woman to the last box of Kleenex in the house, I floated into a hazy slumber, comforted by the thought that my characters were merely actors awaiting a new script in their dressing room while I, the writer, took a much needed rest. I imagine their conversation went something like this…

Evie huffs loudly in her impatience and pulls on her wrapper. Twirling her long hair, which has been dry for ages at this point, into an expert bun, she approaches the door that Alfred had stumbled through so very long ago.

“Alfred,” she whispers pressing her cheek against the door. “Are you still there?”

Silence greets her whispered inquiry. Flinging the door open, she finds Alfred standing outside the door with a look of complete shock on his face, his arm slightly extended as if he were about to place his hand on the knob to reenter the room.

“What have you been doing?”

He remains motionless and silent.

Evie stomps her small foot. “Come on, Alfred!” she yells in exasperation. “It’s been ages since anything has happened, and I’m bored!”

“Unlike you, I’m staying in character,” he grits out through clenched teeth.

“What?” she asks incredulously. “You mean to tell me that you’ve been like that since She stopped writing?”

He nods his head slightly, but otherwise remains as he was.

“You have got to be exhausted, Alfred!” Closing the distance between them, Evie places a small hand on his extended arm, which, she notes, has begun to shake, and lowers it to his side.

“Damn it, Evie!” Alfred huffs, though he makes no move to resume his earlier position. Instead, he takes his other hand and massages his stiff arm. “I was ready to go for the next scene!”

She’s not going to be back for awhile, Alfred,” Evie pats his shoulder sympathetically. “I received a text message from Her apologizing for the delay because apparently, She’s been pretty sick.”

He whips his head around and pins her with a fierce glare. “How do you have a phone on set? This is a period piece, Evie. That means no phones or devices of any kind.”

“Look, Freddie,” she explains. “I know you’re this big shot method actor and have toured across the country doing Shakespearean theater, but I’m not. This is my first job, and I’ve been so bored this last month waiting for Her. You can be as authentic and disapproving as you want. I’m keeping my phone.”

Alfred sinks wearily onto the floor, his back supported by the wall of the room Evie had just left. “Did She say when we’d have new lines?”

“I think a couple of weeks at the most.”

“I could have been skiing in the Alps this holiday,” Alfred mutters under his breath.

Evie snorts highly doubting that Alfred could be coordinated enough to make it anywhere but down on his bottom, but quickly hides her amused smile at Alfred’s narrow-eyed gaze. Quickly changing the subject, Evie asks, “What do you think of the script?”

He shrugs. “Predictable at this point.”

Evie bristles at his dismissive tone. “I like it. Besides, you shouldn’t be so hard on Her. It’s only Her second novel.”

“I suppose, but you realize that we’re probably going to end up together by the end, don’t you?”

She rests her hand on his knee and squeezes lightly. Stifling a giggle at his startled jump, she asks innocently peering up at him from underneath her eyelashes, “Would that be so bad?”

Alfred coughs and flushes bright red. Drawing little circles on his leg above his knee, she can’t help asking impishly, “What did you think of that last scene?”

If possible, Alfred flushes even redder. Pulling his tie away from his throat, he manages to strangle out, “I did not realize that there was going to be nudity.”

His eyes skitter around, anywhere but to Evie’s face. “Why Alfred,” she laughs, “if I didn’t know any better, I’d say I made you uncomfortable! Here I thought method actors were prepared for anything.”

Gulping loudly, he pushes himself to his feet and strides stiffly away. “I’ll be in my dressing room. Fetch me whenever She gets back to work.”

Evie’s delighted laughter follows him down the hallway and is the only response he receives.