Goodnight, Sweet Prince.

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I was at work last night when one of the ladies I work with told me Robin Williams had died of an apparent suicide. I was stunned. I still am. I knew he had his issues with drugs, alcohol and depression and was surprised he would take his own life. But, those who have had to deal with suicide of a friend or family member all know, sometimes there is no sign. Or if the signs are there, you don’t recognize them until after their loved ones are gone.

I remember watching Robin Williams on “Mork & Mindy” and also on “A Night at the Improv”. He was a brilliant comedian and actor and I felt he deserved to win an Oscar much sooner than he did for “Good Will Hunting”. He was also a kind and giving man. He did a lot of charity work, like “Comic Relief” in the 80’s with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, two more of my favorite comedians. He also entertained our troops overseas, and helped raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

One of his albums, “A Night at the Met” was and will always be my favorite. I had memorized it and that album and Bill Cosby’s “Himself” were running through my mind during each contraction during the birth of my son, Alex. It got me through the pain. It helped me feel better and like other times in my life, it felt good to just laugh.

My prayers to his family, friends and fans. He will be missed. Goodnight, Sweet Prince. Parting is such sweet sorrow. RIP Robin Williams.

Robin Williams on Golf: http://youtu.be/pcnFbCCgTo4

 

Happy Birthday to me!

It’s my birthday and I’ll laugh if I want to! LOL!

Most people dread their birthdays.

I’m grateful to be 45 years old today. Most of that is because my maternal grandmother died at the age of 44 from cancer. Much too young, leaving behind 10 children and a husband. I’ve thought of my grandmother, Mabel Jones, a lot over this last year, hoping she was looking out for me from above, so I could make it to this birthday. Thank you, Grandma Mabel. I made it!

I have to reflect back on this year and what I’ve learned. I’m so happy to be at this point in my life and so grateful for many things.

I am so blessed to have a life partner, Quint, who loves me for me. He and I have been through a lot this year, including another job change, this time for the better. He’s been loving, kind, supportive and patient. My Mom and I agree, he’s a saint! Especially for putting up with me for 18 years! LOL!

I don’t know what I would ever do without him and I don’t want to find out. He gets me. He also pushes me to become better, as a person, a partner, a mother, and as a writer. Thanks to him, I have two books up for sale on Amazon, and I’m working on two more. Thanks, honey. I appreciate your love and support.

I’m also grateful for my son, Alex, who is now out of state and working hard. I’m so proud of all he has accomplished this last year and also glad he calls me about once a week to say, “Just thought I would call and let you know I didn’t get blown up or anything!” He’s always saying stuff that makes me laugh and I’m so proud to be his Mom. I also can’t take all the credit. I had a lot of help with raising him. Hilary Clinton says it takes a village to raise a child, and I may not agree with her politics, but I do agree with her on that. I’m so grateful to all of my family and Quint and his family for helping me raise a wonderful son, who is now a wonderful man.

I’m grateful for my brother, Andy and his beautiful wife, Lisa, who have blessed me with a beautiful niece! Annabel Christina Ruiz-Crawford was born in March, and my arms ache to hold her! They will be visiting in September and I am so excited to meet the newest member of our family. 🙂

I’m grateful for my sister, Kelley, for reconnecting with me over this year. We started having lunch once a week or once every 2 weeks, just the two of us and I love the time we share, catching up and laughing. She has blessed me with two nephews, Patrick, now 18 years old and a recent high school graduate, and Cannon who is 8 years old, and makes me laugh. They both amaze me. 🙂

I’m also grateful for my bonus sons: Jesse and Andy. You all have been so great and I love you all like an “evil stepmother” should. (Ha,ha!). Thank you, Jesse and your lovely wife, Patrice, for Ava, Lilly, and Easton, and letting them call me Nana Laura. I love watching them grow up and become such beautiful little people.

Thank you, Andy and Rachel, for letting me be a part of your wedding and I look forward to the day when you become parents (remember, free babysitting!). I’m so happy for you both and know you will have a wonderful life together.

I’ve also been blessed by many friends, some I knew before I moved to Minnesota and became “Laura Crawford”, and some I met online.

Fantasy Author Sandy Lender, you are my sister from another mother! I love you lots and hope to get back to Florida sometime soon, but I can’t wait for you to visit us here in Minnesota so we can visit Walnut Grove. Let’s make that happen soon!

Gale Sparks, you always make me laugh. You have the best sense of humor and I am in awe of the art you do. You truly are a Redneck Renaissance Man. I hope someday to meet you in person.

Jamieson Wolf, thank you for being my friend and being so encouraging. You truly are an inspiration. 🙂

Maria J. Shevlin and Vicci Kaigan, you and I have to get together one of these days at a book signing somewhere! Just saying! Thanks for all your love and support over the last few months. I so appreciate it. 🙂

It’s the greatest experience to chat with NY Times Bestselling Authors, like Hugh Howey, Jasinda Wilder, Liliana Hart, Tara Sivec, and Denise Grover Swank, all of them have been so encouraging and helpful as I navigate through this self-publishing career. If you haven’t read, “The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing” yet, and are wanting to become a published author, go get your copy now! I highly recommend it.

I’m grateful for the local authors I have met in real life, through my writing critique group. C.S. Yelle, Mike Olson, Bruce Hooker, Marty Meyer-Gad, Heather Savage (who writes as H.K. Savage) and is also a publisher of Staccato Publishing, Beth Ann Erickson (my writing coach, mentor, and Queen Bee of Filbert Publishing), and David Holmes. You’ve helped me keep writing and perfecting my stories and your advice has been invaluable. Thank you everyone for all your help.

I have my work family to be grateful for at SuperTarget in Rogers, and now at Sam’s Club in Maple Grove. You have all been so great and made me laugh on the days when I felt like crying, and I miss those I left behind. I’m also blessed to have a great team at Sam’s who have helped me through some tough weeks. Thank you everyone for all your help and support.

Since it is my birthday and I might start a small fire if I had candles on my cake, I will be telling you my birthday wish here.

My greatest birthday wish is to have everyone do something nice for someone else, some small thing to pay it forward. Smile at someone, hold a door open for someone, help someone carry or load their groceries in their car. Tell someone they look nice. Leave a large tip or pay for the car behind you in the drive thru or the gas pump next to you, if you can. If you have a favorite writer, buy one of their books, one you haven’t read yet. Leave a review online on Goodreads or your online retailer (Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, etc.). Or, send them your review of the book and recommend it to some of your friends who might enjoy it. It will make their day! Believe me! 🙂

Here’s to another great year! 🙂

Writing Group

Tonight was the monthly meeting of the writing critique group, and I get so energized when I get home, I can’t sleep. I had a few critiques, constructive criticism on my Red Riding Hood book, but listening to other authors and the fact they have some of the same issues I do, well, I can identify with them and it makes me feel like I’m on the right track. I’m not alone. Which is why if you are thinking of becoming a writer, or publishing your work, as scary as it is, you need to let someone else read it.

I know I was terrified! I was not sure of myself at all and thought my story was ok, but not great. I got great feedback and now have visions of screenplays dancing in my head. It went from one book to a series, and now I’ve been brave (or crazy) to think I can write a romance series. How about that!

It’s also great to read other writer’s work and give them positive and constructive feedback, especially if it will help the other writer improve their work. The appreciation in person also makes it immediate and makes me feel good.

It just makes me one step closer to publication. Nothing you write will ever be perfect. That’s why you need to edit, and read it out loud, so you know what works and what doesn’t work. Then rewrite it again. 

One word at a time. One story at a time. One book at a time.

It’s a process, and I love every bit of it!

Happy Anniversary!

Ok, I’m a day late, but I still have to write about it.

Eighteen years ago, on March 25, I went on a first date with the love of my life, Quint.

We were set up on “blind date” on March 19, by a mutual friend and her husband. We met for the first time at their house for their son’s confirmation open house. I was nervous, and excited. I decided a couple of weeks prior to “ask” God, the Universe, whatever for a man, a good man, who would be a positive influence on my son and be there for me and spend the rest of my life with me. I got the idea from Dr. Gray, who wrote the “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” books and he had made an appearance on a talk show called “Mike & Maty”. What he said really stuck with me. He said if you want something different in your life in terms of relationships and you seem to keep attracting the same type over and over again, you need to make a list of what you want out of a partner and settle for nothing less than around 80 percent of what is on that list. Hmmm.

So, I made a list. I wrote it all down, folded it up and put it away. One night after working at the plastics factory (I worked from 4pm to midnight), I got home and sat out on the deck with my dog, Eesha, and while she did her nightly patrol, I looked up at the full moon, listening to the ducks and the geese out in the pond behind my parents yard. I was living with my son at my parent’s house because I couldn’t afford a place of my own yet, and I was hoping to someday go to college, get a degree and move out.

Looking up at the moon, the song, “Find Me Somebody To Love” by Queen came into my head and I prayed, asked, begged for the man on my list to arrive and soon or I was going to become a “nun”. I asked for the strength to raise my son as a single mother to the best of my ability if the Man On The List didn’t exist. I was tired of being alone. I was willing to give it up, if it was not meant to be, and just find a way to deal with being alone.

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. About a week later, my friend came up to me and said, “There’s someone I think you should meet.”

“Right.” I said. But I felt something tingling in my arms and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

“No, really. He’s a really nice guy. He’s single and I think you two would really hit it off. Come over to my son’s open house for his confirmation to meet him. What can it hurt?” she said.

I thought about for a couple of minutes and said, “Ok. I’ll be there.”

The day of the open house, I walked from the entryway to the kitchen and he was standing there in a dark blue t’shirt and shorts. It said, “Bayfront Bluesfest” on the shirt and he was talking with my friend’s husband. He was tall, but not too tall, had short brown hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He was a big guy, barrel chested and he had really strong looking legs. He looked at me and smiled. I smiled back, then grabbed my friends arm and pulled her into the bedroom.

“Are you crazy?! He’s gorgeous! He’s not going to have anything to do with me!” I was wishing right then I was a size zero!

“You will be fine! Just go talk to him!” she said and pushed me out to the kitchen.

We were introduced and I shook his hand and felt something like electricity go right up my arm to my heart. A little voice in my heart said, “Hello. I’ve been looking for you.”

We talked and shared information and when everyone else had left, we were the only two guests left. I went to the door, he walked with me and as we put our shoes on, we talked about meeting again for a date. I left and got in my car and drove home. Then it hit me.

Shit! I never gave him my number! I started crying. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I walked into the door at home and my Mom saw it was me.

“Why are you crying? Was he ugly?” she said.

“No! I’m an idiot! I just met the love of my life and I didn’t even give him my phone number!” I said.

“So, call your friend and get his number and call him!” she said.

“Who are you and what have you done with my mother?” I said.

I called my friend and she said she would get his number and bring it to me the next day at work.

She did. It was written on a slip of notebook paper in brown crayon. (I still have it).

I called him on my break and we started talking. We talked every day that week and decided to go on our first date that Saturday (the 25th).

Our first date started with lunch at a local restaurant. I found out he liked seasoned fries with ketchup. We talked about kids, movies, television shows, work, our families. Then he asked if I had seen “The Lion King” on VHS and I said, “Yes, but I could watch it again.”

He then invited me to meet his parents (he was living with them at the time, too), and we went to his parents house. I met them both and his Mom had been sick and watching him hug her and dote on her in their kitchen was so endearing. My mother said you can always tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his mother. This spoke volumes about the kind of man he is, then and now.

We went downstairs and watched the movie and talked and then went to dinner at the steakhouse in Princeton. He was kind, funny, we had a lot of things in common. We came back and listened to music (he had a huge album collection) and I read his palm. (Thank you again, “Mike & Maty”). Then he kissed me.

That was it.

I was ruined for any other man.

I might as well have just reached in, pulled out my heart and put it in his hands right then. It’s been in his safe keeping ever since.

We found out later there was a ten year age difference (he’s ten years older than me), but to tell you the truth, he and I are perfect for each other. Age is just a number anyway.

We’ve been through a lot over the years, good, bad, ugly, sad, but we’ve come through it together. I’m grateful for each and every day I get to spend with him and I feel he deserves sainthood for putting up with me this long! He’s been a great lover, friend, father to my son and to his three boys, and influence on me, supporting me in my writing career and other career changes that have happened since we met.

He’s a wonderful grandfather, too. 🙂

I’m forever grateful to Kathy, my friend and her husband, Bob. Bob passed away a few years ago, sadly, but Kathy is still close by.

I tell people who are afraid to go on blind dates to have an open mind. I tell them my story, our story, and say, “You just never know.”

 

 

Interview with Author Eric Roberts (Eric Thornton)

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Today I have author Eric Roberts (he publishes under the name Eric Thornton) for an interview. We met through the group “Wild With Wilder” on Facebook and I asked him if he would like to answer a few questions for me. He was kind enough to answer, so without further ado, here is my interview with Eric.

1. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing a little over 2 years now. But in a way, I’ve always been writing. I write gay, lesbian, and straight fiction (mostly romance).

2. What do you read and does this help you in the writing process?

I read a little bit of everything.

Mostly I read a lot of Jessica Sorensen, Jaci Burton, Sylvia Day, and David Baldacci.

I am a huge Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan so when they have a new one out I’m all over it.

It does help with my writing process. Through reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz, I learn what kind of detail people enjoy and how much detail is enough to keep the story going.

With Jaci Burton, and Sylvia Day, I learn how to write romance in the fun enjoyable way with a good dose of sexuality.

Jessica Sorensen and Jaci Burton also teach me about pacing with my writing. If it has a good pace to it and doesn’t leave out anything the reader wants to know, then I know I’ve done my job right.

3. Do you outline or do you just write and see where the story takes you?

I most definitely write and see where the story takes me. Honestly, I think I know where the story is taking me but just when I think I have it all figure out the story gives a left turn that surprises me. So honestly, my stories are very much character driven.

4. Who inspires you as a writer?

Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Sylvia Day, Jessica Sorensen, Jaci Burton, TM Smith, Pelaam, and so many more. Every time an author I like brings out a new one, they inspire me to push forward and then some. I’m friend with Pelaam and TM Smith so I always get a good dose of encouragement from them. Also I have fans that encourage me on a daily basis to keep going. They help me out and keep me up when I’m feeling quite down. It is amazing.

5. What have you published so far? Are you self-published or a traditional published author?

I have published over 70 short stories. Lately I have been turning those short stories—slowly (it is a major tough process let me tell you)—into longer stories. I recently published “1 Warning” (a gay thriller), “Odds Are” (contemporary gay romance) and a few other short stories.

All my books are under the name Eric Thornton.

As for the publication, I am a self-published author because I don’t like the constraints and limitations on mainstream publication. It would be too much of a hassle and a major stress overload for me.

I self-publish so I can have some fun and write under no deadline—though I do set deadlines for myself sometimes.

6. If you could have lunch with one of your heroes, who would that be and what would you eat?

I would have lunch with my hero Jaci Burton. As for what we would eat…I think we would have grilled chicken sandwiches and pasta salad for a side. She is such an amazing author and though she lives relatively close to me I have never met her but I do want to.

What is next for you? Do you have any book signings coming up?

At this point, I have over 12 books (good stories) that I am working on at any point.

Right now, I am closing in on the ending for 2 books: “Now and Then” (a gay contemporary romance) and “Changing Faces” (a gay thriller). Both of them are solos, but they hold dear to my heart and soul, and I think the readers will enjoy them just as I have been when I write them.

And as for book signings? I have never done a book signing but I would love to if I ever had the chance. I think it would be a great experience.

I am working on writing a few more straight romances. It helps to always do a variety.

Thank you so much Eric and best of luck in your writing and publishing career!

You can find out more about Eric Roberts (Eric Thornton) and his books on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, and on his website.

 

Inspiration: Why I Support Indie Authors

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Last week was a hard week for me, full of ups and downs, but on Friday, something cool happened. Jasinda Wilder, in case you don’t know, released a new book entitled “Falling Under.”

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This was the one year anniversary she and her husband, Jack Wilder, pushed the button and hit the bestseller lists with a book called “Falling Into You.” The next book, “Falling Into Us” did very well, but this book, “Falling Under” was written as a gift of gratitude to their fans, the readers. They did this with no press, other than word of mouth on social media and through the blogosphere.

Brave? Yes!

I call it Ballsy as Hell, but what struck me most, is in her group, Wild With Wilder, the atmosphere was so celebratory and everyone was in a feeding frenzy to get their hands on the book and read it! It got a little nuts on Friday morning when it slowly, ever so slowly, made its way to be accessible to the masses.

I did something I have never in my life done. I got into a meme battle on Thursday with one of the members of the group to promote the book. After all, there was not a single bit of press out there to announce this book was coming. No title, no plot blurbs, not a peep anywhere. I had to help my girl, Jasinda Wilder, out. After all, I would hope when I am part of the indie published family, they would help me out. (Soon, everyone, very soon! I will be announcing it to the universe very soon!) That golden rule thing, you know. 🙂

Now, let me explain. We posted some cool pics with some witty sayings to promote the book coming on Friday, and I had the most fun! But in the end, I came out making a friend, and we’ve been posting things back and forth all weekend. Very cool. I can say, I have met some very awesome people on the social media, including Facebook. (Sandy Lender, Gale Sparks, Hugh Howey, Liliana Hart, Beth Ann Erickson, Billie A. Williams, just to name a few, and yes, most of them are writers).

And who knows? We might get to meet in real life at a book signing or something, either Jasinda Wilder’s or mine!

It was nice to just play, to go back and forth. To make people laugh and help out a wonderful lady and her husband, who a year ago, held their breath, took a gamble, and said a few prayers as they pushed the button to a bigger, brighter future. It could have gone the other way, but it didn’t. It payed off. When I first saw their story on the CBS News, I was cheering for them and got onto Facebook to find them that very night. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

I told my honey, it is the coolest thing to chat and email with a New York Times Best Selling Author, a USA Today Bestselling Author and a Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author (all rolled into one) and her husband, Jack, who is also a writer, and have them answer a question or respond back to you and be so damn nice and just grateful!

I want that.

I want to inspire people like that.

I want raving fans like that.

I want to give and receive like that!

And my honey wants that for me, too. God Bless him. He’s put up with me for what will be eighteen (18) years with my writing obsession, my self-doubts, my fears and my ups and downs.

He’s been so supportive of me being a writer, because at this point, I can’t give it up anymore than I can stop breathing. So, why not give it a shot? Why not push that button and see what happens?

If they can do it, so can I.

I may not be as successful. Or, what really gets my heart racing, what if I am? What then?

First, if I do hit it big, my honey will get his hot rod! A 1969 Chevelle SS.

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More than anything, I would do my best to follow in the footsteps of Team Wilder and be as kind and generous to my fans as they are to theirs.

The thing I took away from this weekend is they probably don’t need to ever publish another thing as long as they live.

They may have everything they may ever need for themselves or their family, so it isn’t about the money.

That’s not why they published “Falling Under”, (or I’m assuming it had nothing to do with the money they would make), but the reason they did it, or I BELIEVE they did it was to say “Thank you” to all of us who read their work, love it for what it is, and review it and share it with the world.

Thank you, Jasinda Wilder and Jack Wilder for giving me something to aspire to.

Because of you, both of you, I didn’t give up.