Conversations With My Mom

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Dear Current Self,

Hi.

 Although you look really happy here and seem as if you’re waving to yourself or giving yourself a high five, I’m actually a little peeved with you.

GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, okay? You’re going to be out of a job at the end of the week. So how do you prepare for this? You go to the mall. You go to the mall and you go in Victoria’s Secret. You go in Victoria’s Secret and you spend THIRTY DOLLARS on three pairs of underwear. Nooooo, you can’t go for the ones that are 5 for 25. I know those were super plain and the ones you got were super pretty and you like pretty things, but practice some self-restraint woman! I think you should return them. I know you won’t, but I think you should. (They are really pretty, though……okay, you can keep them).

Next, we all make mistakes (see previous paragraph), so don’t be afraid to ask for help sometimes. I know you are fiercely independent and a little bit of your self dies each time you ask for help, but it’s alright to be a little vulnerable sometimes. “Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves,” says your favorite book (Wuthering Heights). And it’s true! So keep that in mind, will ya?

Finally, quit getting in your own way when it comes to doing things you want to do. You’re a dreamer, which is great! Why not makes those dreams a reality? Stop living inside your head, and live in the outside world where stuff actually happens. Look what you could be missing out on. Life? Love? The lack therof? EVERYTHING. Stop thinking so much and just do something….please?

Oh, and you know that cool thing you found where you can go live in France for three weeks (practically for free)? Find a way.

Sorry for all the tough love,

Hillary

I Miss Cassette Tapes

 

My first car was not a car, but a 1997 Nissan pick-up truck. It was green.  And that, along with the fact that I didn’t have to pay for it, was the only thing kind of cool about it. For starters, it had manual locks.  It didn’t have cup holders. It went up hills at five miles per hour. And last, but not least, the only two modes of listening to music in this thing were either the radio or cassette tapes. CA-SSETTE tapes. Remember those? Think back, think way back.

But I was crafty. I knew there was a way around this whole cassette tape business. First, did you know that in 2006 they still SOLD them? I remember going to f.y.e. and picking up In Utero for three bucks. (Nirvana phase. It happened).

Anywho, I realized that it was so simple! All I had to do was copy my CDs onto blank tapes using my totally rad 5 CD disc changer double tape deck super stereo machine. And that I did. I was able to make these really cool mixed tapes with all of the really cool bands that I had seen on fuse.  (No lie, I think I watched Steven’s Untitled Rock Show every. single. day.) Taking Back Sunday! AFI! The Used! Oh mah gaaahd Warped Tourrrr. (That music phase also happened).

At the time, this process was agonizing. I was a lazy, whiny baby. Life was so unfair. Poor poor pitiful me. I didn’t have to suffer for too long, though. On my 17th birthday my cool uncle had a CD player installed for his (favorite, obviously) niece.

Now that I find myself  living in a perpetual state of nostalgia, I miss the hell out of the cassettes….and making those tapes. I feel like when I make a mixed CD or playlist for myself (or someone else) I’m in this frantic rush to find the perfect songs. But when you make a tape, you’re forced to listen to each song all the way through, waiting for the perfect moment to press the stop button. And then it’s time to choose the next song, which will reside in the same place forever and ever. There is something so damn romantic about that for me. I’m not saying that isn’t true for a CD, but cassettes just have this….sound to them…this feel to them that is so different from digital.

….The first cassette tape I owned was *NSYNC’s first album. Don’t even get me started on how I miss the walkman I listened to it on.

How To Write A Romance Novel

5 easy steps to help you write the next Great American Romance Novel:

1. Select your characters (Female 1+Male 2 or Female 2+Male 1) 

  • Female 1: Strong and stubborn, yet disarmingly sensual. Owns a lingerie company. Probably a redhead.
  • Female 2: Fragile and intelligent, yet disarmingly sensual. Writer, painter, or photographer. Probably a blonde.
  • Male 1: Rugged tough guy with a soft side. His true feelings are dormant…until the right woman comes along to awaken them. Police Officer/Detective.
  • Male 2: Clean-cut lawyer with Mommy issues. Won’t take “no” for an answer…until the right woman comes along to challenge him.

2.  Select your setting:

  • Montana – Where love soars as high as the big sky.
  • Alaska – The temps are icy cold, but nothing can stifle the passion that boils between these two lovebirds.
  • Colorado – Here, love knows no heights, just like the surrounding mountains of majesty.
  • Louisiana – Hot. Sticky. Spicy. Not talking about the food.

3. Select your crisis:

  • Murder
  • Fire
  • Murder and fire
  • Stolen horse
  • Murdered horse
  • Trapped in an abandoned cabin

4.  The long road to love isn’t always an easy one. Choose your “love obstacle”:

  • Social status. It’s a tale as old as time. She’s too “uppity” and he just isn’t good enough for her.
  • A mysterious past. What’s he hiding? Why’s he getting all Don Draper up in this piece with all these secrets? When she asks him about his family, why does he freeze up? WHO IS HE AND FROM WHERE DOES HE HAIL?
  • Single parenthood. Does she really want to let someone else in? Her baby daddy was such an asshole. Therefore, all men are assholes.

5. Choose when your two main characters decide to get it on:

  • At the very start: Hot and heavy. A little too hot and heavy? How do they feel about this? They didn’t think it would be so hot and heavy. CONFLICTED EMOTIONS. SO HOT. SO HEAVY.
  • In the middle: They just can’t fight the feeling anymore. (This is most common, because there is still time for one of them to eff things up and then they can make up and do it again)
  • At the end: Fi-na-lly! (This one is very rare, but doable. Too much build up. Don’t keep the reader waiting too long)
  • Never: YEAH RIGHT. GET REAL.

I would know nothing about the Romance genre if it weren’t for Sandra Brown. And I wouldn’t know about Sandra Brown if it weren’t for my Mom, whose books I used to sneakily read before I was “old enough.” Thanks Sandra and Mom, you taught me everything I know.