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wendy walkerI’m feeling very guilty these days. Yes, I know. This is hardly uncommon among mothers, especially working mothers. Still, when I sat down to write this blog for Working Girl Reviews, it was guilt that was on my mind.

Here is the source of this mind-consuming guilt. I love my work. I love writing, editing, thinking about what to write. I love working in pajamas from my bed or out on my little patio. I love the progression of a novel, from the little aha! moments that come while I’m carting the kids around or taking a long run in the woods, to seeing my book in a store. I love meeting people, writers, readers, bloggers and reviewers. I love talking to book groups about the issues my characters face, and even the author events that give me massive anxiety but always seem to go just fine.

I love my work. This should be a good thing. A gift, really. And what’s even better is that my work gives me a great deal of flexibility to be with my kids when they’re out of school. But another summer has come and gone, and I realize that I am the only mother among my peers who is jumping up and down with glee. Indeed, the other moms are lamenting the loss of carefree, unstructured days with their children, lounging at the pool or beach while their kids play with their friends, and sleeping in.

When I think about summer, I think about checking my BlackBerry while standing in line for a ride at Playland, sneaking interviews and twitter updates, and scrounging like a scavenger for time to meet revision deadlines. This job that is very manageable during the school year, is suddenly at odds with my other job as a mother. From May until September, I do a kind of mental gymnastics to give my three very energetic boys enough fun and exercise and mental stimulation, while still keeping my career afloat. Wherever I am, there is a part of my brain pulling me toward my desk.

A good friend of mine called the other day to catch up. She’s a partner at a very big law firm and has an awesome career. Lately, she said, she’s been swamped at work. When Friday night comes around, she feels like a new person. Her weekends are spent with her kids, hiking and exploring. We talked about how cute they are at these ages, and how precious this time is because they are growing up so fast. And while I agreed with all of that, I felt this pit in my stomach that for too much of the time I spend with my kids there is a part of me longing to work.

There it is. I’ve admitted it. I love my kids more than anything. And there are moments with them that are so spectacularly wondrous they eclipse any and all satisfaction that comes from work. Still, on a day to day basis, I am bitterly torn between them and my desire to pursue my career.

How is this to be reconciled? I ask myself this every day. For most of the year, I have it figured out. I belong to my job from 9-2, and I belong to them from 2-9. Given the morning hours to work in a steady and concentrated way, I can be totally present for my kids all afternoon and evening. I drive, cook, clean, supervise homework, get them to bed. We play outside and have bon fires and soak in the hot tub. And work is neatly tucked away. The year flows by and soon it’s winter, then spring. May eventually comes again, and the chaos is upon me.

I wonder many things about this. I wonder if it would be different if I worked in an office year round, if I had no choice to make between work and kids. I wonder if I’m going to wake up in 20 years and kick myself for pulling out that BlackBerry at Playland and not being fully present every chance I got. I know plenty about the dilemmas women have balancing work and family from editing a book (Power Moms) for Chicken Soup for the Soul. There is no perfect solution, and guilt abounds.

I have been a stay-home mom for eleven years. My career as an author used to be nothing more than a pipe dream that gave way to every demand the family had. I wrote whenever and wherever I could, but never when anyone or anything needed me. When that dream became more of a reality with my first book deal, I let it come in a little more, carving out time with babysitters so I could finish a chapter. Now, ten years later, it has become a career that I could easily work at day and night. My second novel, Social Lives, was just released and there is a movie deal in the works with the producers who made the Twilight series. Running through my mind are all the ways I could be promoting the novel, spreading the good news.

School started last week. As my kids dragged themselves out of bed early, I tried hard to mask my excitement. It wasn’t that I wanted to be without them. Yet I can’t deny that I was looking forward to the glorious treat that was coming my way. Time. Now that it’s here, I will make good use of it. And when it’s gone, I will savor my children who will soon be gone as well. Round and round it will go. I’m not sure I will ever figure any of this out. Maybe it’s enough that I can write about it.

Wendy Walker

http://wendywalkerbooks.com

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jean_pike_208_thumbThe girls at WGR are thrilled to welcome multi-published author M. Jean Pike! Jean, thanks so much for agreeing to chat with us today.

 

1.) I noticed on your Authors Den website that you grew up in a big family in a very small town. Has your upbringing impacted your writing, and if so, how?

 

I think everyone’s upbringing impacts their adult life to some degree. Growing up in a family of six, you learn a lot of important life lessons very early on, like how to share, how to be a good sport, how to stand up for yourself, and mostly that it’s not always about you. Growing up in a small town, I learned to use my imagination to keep myself entertained. We had our church, our school, and a two-block business district that pretty much rolled up the sidewalks at five o’clock. Books were my favorite source of entertainment and I developed a love of reading and writing at a very young age.

 

2.) Who is your favorite author of all time, and who has influenced your writing the most?

 

John Steinbeck and John Steinbeck. No one has ever described their characters more aptly, or turned a phrase more beautifully.

 

3.) How did you get started as a writer?

 

I started writing poetry and short stories in high school just for fun. Somewhere around age thirty I realized I wanted more out of my writing than just personal entertainment. I spun my wheels for awhile in a vicious cycle of writing, submitting, and rejection letters. After a couple of years of that, I decided it was “now or never” and took a writing course through Long Ridge Writer’s Group. It was the best investment I ever made in my writing. My instructor showed me how to improve upon my strengths and overcome my weaknesses and my writing finally started to sell. With more than two hundred short stories and inspirational essays in print I decided it was time to move on to novel writing.

 

4.) What is the best part of the novel writing process?

 

I’ll be struggling along, inch by inch, page by page, and then suddenly, usually out of the blue, the story turns a corner and my characters start talking to me. I love that! After that point the story usually takes on a life of its own and often takes unexpected twists that surprise even me!

 

5.) What’s the worst part of the writing process?

 

That hazy, scary in-between place that begins around Chapter Five. That place where I go from, “I have the greatest idea…” to “Oh, God. I have absolutely no idea!”  

 

6.) Tell us a little bit about your newest novel, Shadow Lake.

 

I’ve been criticized because some of my books, though love stories, did not contain traditional “happily-ever-after” endings.  I tried really hard to do that in Shadow Lake. That’s not to say that the characters don’t have their moments J A contemporary romance, Shadow Lake takes on some very contemporary themes; depression, suicide, divorce. My characters are flawed people facing some very tough struggles, and I think that gives Shadow Lake the quality of realness that I strive for in all my stories.

 

7.) Say Shadow Lake was going to be made into a major motion picture and you got to choose the actors! Who would play Shane Lucy?

 

Oh dear! I don’t think anyone watches less movies than me. I’m pretty far out of the loop when it comes to who’s hot and who’s not these days, but the first person that comes to mind is a young Richard Geere (Think An Officer and a Gentleman!) 

 

Who would play Emma?

 

For Emma I would choose someone whose beauty is the natural, down-to-earth kind. I’m picturing a redheaded Gwyneth Paltro!

 

8.) What’s next in the Love on the Lake Series?

 

The second book, Strange Magic, will be a paranormal romance of the ghost variety. I’ve strayed from the paranormal genre in my last two books and I’m so enjoying getting back into all things spooky!

 

9.) Where can readers go to find out all the latest MJP news?

 

Readers can visit my website at www.freewebs.com/mjeanpike or my blog at http://mjeanpike.wordpress.com. I also keep a site at Authors Den featuring news, reviews, and a number of my short stories, poems and inspirational essays. http://www.authorsden.com/jeanpike

 

Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Jean, and best of luck with the Love on the Lake series!

 

 

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lizanew_smallWGR is thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know award-winning poet and author E. G. Parsons. Elizabeth, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today.

 

1.) I noticed on your website that you have quite a diverse collection of published books on the market: historical, paranormal, suspense, poetry, even a young adult title. What do you most enjoy writing, and why?

 

If I had to choose one, I’d have to say suspense. My first book was a suspense thriller and then I switched to romance. My romance novels always have an element of suspense because I’ve never been able to get away from that angle in a story. I can’t explain why it’s my favorite. It just seems to come more naturally for me when writing.

 

2.) Our reviewer was very impressed with your knowledge of the 1800s in your novel, Black Rock. How did you go about researching that time period, and did you enjoy the research?

 

I think all writers as well as readers have their favorite time periods and for me it’s the 1800’s. I’m not sure I’d want to give up all my modern conveniences and travel back to live in that era, but it would certainly be tempting. My love for that time in history has resulted in my having a good knowledge of that way of life, but I did have to research some things for Black Rock: A Time For Love. I made use of my local library and the Internet for researching things like famous outlaws and transportation. Train travel was very popular back then. You could travel all the way from the east coast to the west coast by train, but I needed to find out if it was available for the area in which my novel takes place. It was a hard find. Took me a couple of weeks just to find that one thing, but I loved it and found myself getting sidetracked by all the other interesting things I found.

 

3.) Your bio says that you come from a large family. Has your upbringing impacted your writing? If so, how?

 

I do come from a fairly large family and now have an enormous extended family. Knowing intimately such a large and diverse group of people has definitely had an impact on my writing, especially when it comes to characterizations. My family moved around quite a bit when I was growing up and I think all the different locations and cultures was great fodder for the imagination. 

 

4.) What is your favorite way to spend an afternoon?

 

If the weather is nice, I love taking long, leisurely strolls along the creek bank with my husband. If it’s a little too cold for that, I love curling up under my favorite throw in front of a roaring fire with a great book or with my hubby. J

 

5.) Say Black Rock; A Time For Love is going to be made into a major motion picture and you, as the author, get to select the actors! Who would play the part of Roxanne? Collin? The dastardly Brad Wellman?

 

Kate Beckinsale for Roxanne. Most people probably associate her more with movies like Underworld, but I saw her in a Jane Austin movie with very little makeup and she was fantastic. For Brad, Maybe Matthew Davis or Mark Wahlburg with lightened hair. I’m not sure about Collin. Most of the male actors I love are a little too old to play a thirty year old or they’re British. Maybe Orlando Bloom or Josh Jackson.

 

6.) Who, in your opinion, is the greatest romance hero of all time?

 

Hum… I don’t think I could pick just one. Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind or Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice or Darby in Waiting For The Rain or my own Ambrose in Captive Fear or…well you get the picture. I’m a push over for a great hero. J

 

7.) On your website it says that you live with your husband, sons, and a boxer named Charlie. Do you ever feel outnumbered by the male presence in your home?

 

Oh, yeah. J There are days when just the sound of another female voice on the phone is reason for celebration. It’s hard to let my very romantic, female side have free reign when I’m always being out voted by the males. But they’re all generous about letting me have my way, so it’s okay.

 

8.) You spent your childhood living in both Florida and Michigan. What’s your best memory of each state?

 

Playing on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan and stuffing my face with big, purple, frost plums. In Florida, the Atlantic Ocean and having the everglades as my back yard. Both wild and wonderful places to grow up.    

 

9.) In Black Rock, Roxanne and Colin were brought together by supernatural circumstances. How did you meet your own real life hero?

 

Nothing as dramatic as that. LOL. We met online in a yahoo chat room. He lived a thousand miles away and I say it was fate, he calls it fortunate circumstance. Whatever it was, I’m grateful.

 

10.) Are there any new E. G. Parsons books in the works?

 

Winter of the Heart came out in January and like Black Rock, it’s a paranormal historical. At present I’m working on a contemporary women’s fiction titled Then Comes Spring.

 

11.) Where can readers go to find out all the latest EGP news?

 

You can visit my site at http://egparsons.com or my blog at http://elizabethmeltonparsons.wordpress.com

 

Anything else you’d like to share?

 

I’d like to thank WGR for the fabulous review of Black Rock: A Time For Love and for the great interview.

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