All Articles by Lori

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Found at Reagan National: The perfect villian

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Reagan National Airport

My original intention was not to be writing today. I am in the process of packing and preparing for pitches at Romance Writers of America (RWA) Nationals tomorrow. However, I took a break to pick my oldest son up at the airport from a three week visit to his grandparents in Mississippi.

Upon arrival, a U.S. Airways representative directed me to the special services line for a pass to get by security to pick up my unaccompanied minor. When placed in the line, I was behind three other customers. The normal check in line was much longer and the man at the front of the line started yelling about how our line came from nowhere. I spoke to him, maybe I shouldn’t have, but I said, “This is a special services line, I’m just here to pick up an unaccompanied minor.” In my defense, I said it in a very polite way, not intending to inflame him, but to reassure him. It didn’t work.

He barked back, “I’ve been waiting 30 minutes and I have two young children that are hungry and crying.” I had observed one of their little girls just before he had sent her to the mother that was sitting somewhere else. She had not been crying.

I had not expected the rage that turned on me. I did get angry and said something about my child being left alone at the terminal (can’t remember my exact words), but at this point my tone was not nice.

When the people in front of me were finished, he jumped to the representative in front of me (the one he was not supposed to go to). She had no idea what was going on so proceeded to help him. I stood their stunned. This emboldened the people behind him to rush to the other special service rep before I could take a step closer. Now there was a group mob mentality that was determined I was in the wrong for doing what I had been instructed to do.

The second group that cut was promptly sent back to their other line because the representative had a limited scope of duties. She called me up, but I couldn’t speak because I was trying to hold back the tears. Getting my security pass took less than two minutes.

When I walked away, I looked back at the father. He wouldn’t look at me, but I know he heard me when I said “Now you’ve made a stranger cry today.”

So here is why he may be the inspiration for a villain in a future book. I can totally sympathize and understood where he was coming from. As a mom of four children that has traveled frequently, I know how difficult it is to navigate the system when you have whiny little ones pulling on you. But there is a point where you either cross the line or keep your emotions in check.

My daughter is taking a psychology class this summer and I’ve been lucky enough to read some of her essays. So this is my analysis of the event based on what I’m gleaming from her class. She has since told me that my interpretation is not reflective of the class as a whole, but it is based on the limited knowledge I have.

1. The father was the perpetrator.

2. I was seen as the weaker party.

3. The group in the regular line began to feel the effects of deindividuation, which means  these people were acting as a group and not individuals responsible for their own actions. Then their views became polarized based on their perception of the perpetrator’s and they acted out against the “weaker party”.

The father acted out of frustration, impatience and most likely hunger, but I’m not sure why he and his family had not eaten by 9 am on a day where they were catching a flight. (His obvious lack of parenting skills is a topic for another day.) There is a study that shows that lowered glucose levels lead to higher aggression levels.

I was the weaker party. I made myself a target by speaking up. I was acting out of fear because I was first afraid I would not be able to get to my son in time and then because of all the anger directed at me.

The group felt a diffusion of responsibility because they were no longer responsible as individuals and therefore saw their actions as justified.

I reached my son in time and all was well. But who knew I would learn so much about analyzing the perfect villain from my daughter’s class and a trip to the airport?

 

 

Entering That Grey Area

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The Twilight Zone – Wiktionary definition- a region in which surreal, supernatural or fantastic events occur

A place in-between or the gloaming; whatever you call it, it’s a place I thought I would never find myself. That grey area between being a novice and an expert. It’s that awkward spot when you’ve passed that initial learning curve and people expect you to know what you are doing. It can happen to anyone starting a new job or relationship, learning a new craft or a language.  Even parents of kids past that tough toddler stage are looked to as skilled in their duties and asked for advice.

We all know looks can be deceiving.

I no longer feel as if I’m new to writing, but I’m still a good distance from where I see myself heading. My dilemma is that I have grown, but at the same time other’s perceptions of me have as well. Can I meet their higher expectations?

It’s crazy, but some people think I know what I’m doing. It’s because I’m no longer afraid to sit quietly in the corner trying to decipher what others are saying. I’m an active participant in conversations on craft, marketing and social media. This gives people the impression that I know what I’m talking about and maybe I do. But I still feel like I’m winging it.

I thought once I had this knowledge and could participate and put myself out there I would be more confident. Leaving the newbie status would somehow put me where I belong, or at least where I want to be.  I’m finding that not to be the case.

A new wave of anxiety has gripped me. The fear that others will be disappointed in my results haunts me with each new endeavor. Not that I feel that way about my writing itself, I do believe I am growing and on track to one day soon be published.  (fingers crossed)

Is every stage of this journey just as terrifying as the first?

I am challenging myself in areas that scare the crap out of me, but I’m doing it. What frightens me the most is that people will see I’m currently in over my head. I am hoping that this is how I grow and that I’m doing the right things. Powering through the insecurities will get me to where I want to be. Right?

I am going to take that leap, push ahead and do my best to get to the next stage. An author friend and I are embarking on a new adventure. It will help us grow. It will help others that decide to join us. It will be a lot of hard work and a lot of responsibility, but I’m hoping the end result will be fun and worth it.

Soon, I’m hoping to say I have overcome these insecurities.  I am in the twilight zone, but despite the disorientation, I see fantastic things happening.

Mom, I broke the ceiling.

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Despite the gloomy rain that has canceled soccer practice, messed up my hair, made it difficult to drive home from the ER late one night and interrupted my dogs’ outside playtime, I am still optimistic. For me this week, there has been a silver lining to every cloud.

The week started out uneventful. I did the normal mom stuff and worked on my writing. Tuesday, my oldest child developed hives. We thought it was due to a new body wash she had been using, so I gave her benadryll and sent her to school. I missed one of my weekly writing groups to stay close to home. Instead, I went to the local library and sat in the quiet room. Those places are amazing, but eerily quiet. I felt guilty just unzipping my computer bag. As I was done, I peaked over my shoulder to confirm that I had not disturbed the dark haired college aged girl behind me or the balding man in kakis and button down shirt several desks down. I have found that these rooms produce a strong need in me to accomplish the task I set out with. No distractions. I now know I enjoy working at the library. 🙂

My daughter seemed to improve until Wednesday morning, when she woke with more hives. This time I gave her medicine and sent her back to bed. I did wake her and took her to school a couple hours later so that she could take a scheduled test. Not long before the school day was over, I got the dreaded call. She had worsened and I needed to go get her. I do have to mention that I was able to meet up with a new writing friend and get a lot accomplished in-between that time. She and I work well together, just the right amount of talk to work ratio. Love you, Harper Kincaid. 🙂 Back to the story, shortly before my youngest two got home, my daughter’s breathing became labored. My husband came home to watch the boys and I rushed her to the ER. Not really sure what we should do, I said we would sit in the parking lot at the hospital and talk if her breathing improved, but I wanted that reassurance of knowing help was close by if needed. Her condition had not improved, so we went in. I tried to stay calm and I thought I was until I noticed the trembling in my hands as I fumbled with my drivers licence under their new checking-in kiosk. Apparently, I do not follow directions well when stressed. I checked myself in instead of her.

One epinephrine shot, an albuterol treatment, tons of pills and five hours later, we were given the choice to admit her or monitor her at home. She had definitely had an allergic reaction. To what we are not quite positive yet, but we will see an allergist. The plus side to this is that we know and will be prepared when she goes for her first few weeks away from home this summer. My husband, daughter and I all know how to use Epi-pens now, so if your child has an allergic reaction at my house, I will know what to do. 🙂

Lastly, this morning while my youngest two boys were finishing breakfast, I walked into the office for a minute. My 9 year-old, who had been hurling a homemade stress ball around all morning, rushed in moments later. “Mom, I broke the ceiling.” I walked back in to notice chunks of dri-wall and drips of water splattered on the floor. Knowing it was an accident, I wasn’t angry. I tried to be the stern parent and hide my amusement by covering my mouth with a hand. Judging by the tentative smirk on my son’s face, I was not successful. Sure, it will be a pain to fix it, but we now know there is a leak somewhere up there. My son just helped us discover it early. 🙂

So, I’m exhausted, have tons of work to do and the rain keeps falling. But overall it’s a good week.

Character flaws and is this little cookie Innocent or Evil?

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I re-discovered this week that I have a major character flaw. A fondness for those cookies that my daughter has sold once a year for nine years. You would think by now I would understand that I cannot be trusted with a box of those things. I keep telling myself they are for a great cause and that’s why I continue to buy them, but am I lying to myself?

If I were in a contemporary romance, I would be the almost overweight heroine that gets snowed in with boxes of the one thing she can’t resist. Oh wait, no maybe that’s reality!

Characters need flaws. They are not interesting if they are perfect. I’m reworking my first book now, one of the reasons is my hero is too perfect. Can you imagine that, the perfect man? Sure my husband comes close to perfection but we are talking books here and the characters have to grow.  They need to have learned something on their journey and changed for the better. My protagonist has plenty of issues, she almost needs a therapist. But somehow it’s taken me longer to learn how to develop the hero’s shortcomings.

As my writing has grown, so have my skills at assigning character flaws. In Highland Deception, my hero’s great flaw is on the first page of the book! My heroine’s is not far behind. Their defects feed off of each other and they must learn to overcome them in order for a Happily Ever After to take place.

Will I ever learn to overcome my current flaw? I think I learned a lesson, but I’ve said that before. Am I doomed to make the same mistake year after year? Those evil little cookies keep calling my name.

What do you think makes the best character flaws in the romances you’ve read? Jealousy, self doubt, greed or a phobia? I would love to hear from you.

Lori

Hi, my name is Lori and I’m a romance writer who does not like Valentine’s Day

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Is there a  recovery group for that? How could I not be in love with what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year?

I think romance is directly related to either the time or the thought put into the effort. I am sure there are plenty of people that put lots of time and effort into planning a special day. But here is my take on the commercialized version of the holiday.

  • Stopping at the gas station or grocery store to pick up flowers, balloons and chocolate say to me, “Honey, I did not think of you until the last minute.” And, “I did not really think about what would make you happy. I did what society expects me to do.”
  • The giant teddy bear on tv or the chocolate scented one at the grocery store (yes they really do exist) are just plain creepy. Men, do you really want your woman snuggling with a stuffed animal instead of you?
  • Okay, I know most women love flowers. Maybe I’m crazy, but does anyone else have this problem? I can’t see the people on the other side of the table I want to talk to? I’m constantly moving them from location to location to get them out of my way!
  • Chocolate. Yes I do love chocolate, but I also love fitting into my clothes.
  • Wine. Maybe that’s the answer. No complaints there. But if you drink enough, you could probably forget about the lack of emotion behind your “pick up on the way home from work” gift.

One romantic thing my husband did recently was tell me he was going to take the day off from work just to spend it with me. It was not forced upon him by a manufactured holiday. It was genuine and completely unexpected. I look at that as my Valentine’s Day, because who out there with kids gets to spend the day alone with their significant other anyway? And if you are able to make it out, it’s to an overcrowded restaurant with overpriced specials.

And ladies, what do you do for your men? I don’t think the holiday is marketed as much toward pleasing them. I usually make mine his favorite meal (which takes three hours to prepare).

I would love to hear other’s opinions. Please give me your thoughts on Valentine’s Day. I know it must have some redeeming qualities. Please tell me why you love it. 🙂

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