I've been road tripping, and remembering how I love these long, long stretches of driving time.
I know, right?
Home to college was a 2000 mile trek, and I had it all planned out. Get up early on day 1 so I could end the day just over the Texas border, in Las Cruces, NM. I had a favorite truck stop there. I loved having a favorite truck stop in Las Cruces. Day 2 meant a few brief hours watching the changing landscape and skyscape of the New Mexican desert. When I was lucky (so: if it was summer), there would be lightning storms traveling long distances as I watched. Day 2 ended somewhere in Arizona, and I had to get up early enough to skirt most of LA before traffic there got bad. The rest of Day 3 was several hours on I-5, past farms and more farms and stockyards and farms, then a quick jig over towards the coast and campus.
This trip began with those I-5 hours, and it was very much a "the more things change" situation. The billboards about water rights were focused on almonds instead of grapes, all these years later, but the streams of trucks in the right lanes, hopscotching cars in the left lanes, were just the same. I was as tickled now by the signs showing almost equal mileage to San Francisco and Sacramento as I was back then.
We had audiobooks and podcasts and music to stream on our phones instead of my collection of mix tapes (thanks, all you ex-boyfriends for the mix tapes!). We had GPS instead of AAA maps. We had a hybrid so our stops were dictated by human more often than automotive needs. But we had "road buddies" - those cars you're always passing or who are always passing you, depending on who stopped for how long. We had the sun slanting in at bad angles through the windshield. We had drive-throughs and tailgaters and speed traps and the road. The long, unfurling road, and the way time stretches into a matter of miles rather than minutes. A pit stop in 36 miles. Gas in 80. 216 more before we stop for the night, and 700 to go when we arise the next day.
i told my son, as we rolled north on 5, about my interstate college commutes, but my love of the road trip began much earlier. When we were young, my parents would load the 4 of us kids and a cooler of peanut butter and grape jam into the station wagon or Suburban and head out for a few summer weeks. The big trips were all around the eastern states one year, then the western states two summers later. We saw so many Capitol Buildings and monuments and Holiday Inns. I cried at mountains (still not great with heights, though I admire them from afar.) I gaped at redwoods. I won my share of games of Murder in the Dark, and "guess when we've gone a mile" and the License Plate game. (I know now it was my share. Back then I thought 1/2 was reasonable, not 1/4.) Mom took the whole time off to drive us, but Dad returned to Houston to work for part of these trips. You better believe she fielded a high number of "it's just you and these four kids for HOW LONG?" comments.
So when I set out to drive a few hundred or a couple thousand miles, I'm undaunted. I grew up with a great road map.
Mom: better than AAA and GPS combined.
Writing Let the Good Times Roll was a challenge, and not just because I transformed Chloe from antagonist (in Eye of the Tiger) to main character I spent every moment longing for Cajun food, and for New Orleans.
(Well, I wrote part of it while visiting New Orleans, so I wasn't longing for much then. Except for more hours to explore and eat and walk and talk and eat and eat and eat. Lucky me!)
As I do for all of my books, I created a Pinterest page full of the images that inspired me for this novella. Before you check it out, a warning: you will long to visit New Orleans for yourself! (As an alternative, read Let the Good Times Roll!)
Feel so so sorry for me. I'm recently returned from New Orleans.
I had to go. It was research.
(It was also so I could chaperone my son's field trip, but don't tell his band director that was my primary motivation.)
You remember Evan's mean sister Chloe from Eye of the Tiger? You didn't think she deserved her happily ever after, did you? Well, I am more forgiving than you. (I am probably not more forgiving than you.) (I admit that writing her comeuppance was fun, and not just because it gave me an excuse to visit New Orleans.)
Let the Good Times Roll will be available very soon! Subscribe to my newsletter and you can be the first to know when it's published.
Eye of the Tiger - Book 3 of Melanie Greene's Roll of the Dice Series, on sale everywhere 2/29/16 (#FunFact: 2-29 is Bachelor's Day! What a cruel trick for me to play on Evan.)
Check out some of the inspiration pins for Natalie and Evan on my Eye of the Tiger Pinterest board. You'll notice a certain obsession with outward appearances with these two. What will happen to them when they start to focus on what's inside, instead? Buy Eye of the Tiger to find out!
Roll of the Dice, Book 3 - Natalie's story is now available for pre-order!
Order now, and TIGER will leap onto your e-reader on 2/29 (#FunFact: 2-29 is Bachelor Day. This doesn't bode well for Natalie's matchmaking mom!)
Warning: contains several silly, lewd limericks. (Evan is a charming, light-hearted man--or is he?)
I'm excited for y'all to read where Natalie's roll of the dice is taking her, whether she's ready for it or not.
I love fairy tales. Back in college, one of my classes had us write a modern take on a Grimm's fairy tale, and I've been exploring them ever since. But it wasn't until I heard about Decadent Publishing's Beyond Fairytales line that I thought about doing it again, as a romance this time.
They gave me Grimm's The Griffin - it's a fun tale with three brothers (including the requisite simpleton youngest), a sick princess, a series of impossible tasks, and a rather grim end for the king who didn't follow through on his initial promises.
I flipped it around so the female character was the underestimated one who wins against the odds, and set it in the fictional Texas hill country college town of Jackrabbit. I had a great deal of fun playing with the fairy tale tropes, the themes of the story, and giving my prince a happy ending.
I hope everyone has fun reading it! And visit my Pinterest board for Feather in Her Cap to check out some of the visual inspiration for this story!
Happy New Year! I'm so excited by the crazy amount of work I've lined up for this year.
First up, the latest ROLL OF THE DICE novel, EYE OF THE TIGER! I'll go on about Natalie and Evan's story at greater length once I've recovered from the virus-that-doesn't-want-me-to-work, but for now I'm excited to share the gorgeous cover (designed, as always, by the talented Killion Group.)
The other novels and novellas on the cards for this year are going to be such fun to work on...so long as I don't get too obsessed by my new favorite distraction, Instagram. Come follow me! You'll surely never tire of well-filtered shots of my gorgeous dog.
I hope your plans for 2016 are energizing enough to keep your spirits up even if you, too, have the virus-that-thinks-you-should-sleep-lots-more-and-forget-words-halfway-through-saying-them.
I'm consolidating my various giveaways into one handy form!
You like free books? Free audiobooks? Review copies? All of the above? Just subscribe to my newsletter and you will get to pick one of my books, free.
(Share this with others, that would make you a superb human being.)
(You are already a superb human being.)
I've mentioned my love of audiobooks (maybe more than once. It's a deep love. A Happily Ever After kind of love.)
So you can imagine how excited I was to get the notification that RETREAT TO LOVE's audio production - read by the stellar Amy Rubinate - is now available!
Would you like a FREE COPY? Of course you would! Sign up for my NEWSLETTER below and you'll be automatically entered in a drawing for it.
As usual, Amy did a beautiful job bringing my story to life, and I know you'll enjoy hearing her narrate Ashlyn's journey to the FireWind artists' retreat, and her emotional journey as she confronts a family secret, and finds an unexpected love.
Check out the sample, then head to Audible or iTunes to put RETREAT TO LOVE in your ears!
One of my favorite parts of writing is generating backstory. This rich history of what happens before Page One adds depth and richness to the characters, even if it doesn't make it into the finished book.
In creating the world of RETREAT TO LOVE, I wrote a story about how Ashlyn's Gran and Pappa met. It didn't fit into the novel, but their relationship has a massive impact on how Ashlyn views the world. I'm excited to share their earliest days with you here.
Enjoy IRISH CHAIN, and check back here soon for an update on the RETREAT TO LOVE audiobook!
Writing is a journey undertaken by the mind in conjunction with the soul....