Mr. Lucy and Marketing Guy Rick are important members of #TeamLucy. They are also long-time buddies and “talkers” who missed their in-person meeting during the pandemic lockdown.

Please enjoy the minutes of a meeting to discuss putting a book on sale.

• Rick arrives.
• 15 minutes spent discussing whether to order dinner.
• 10 minutes spent ordering dinner.
• Lucy is invited to join the meeting. She stupidly agrees.
• Lucy asks what dates she can tell readers that The Worst Best Man will be on sale.
• Rick asks if Lucy has discovered the flashlight capability of her watch. She has not. She can barely tell time on it. Rick discusses his daughter’s superior technological grasp of the same watch.
• Mr. Lucy refills the cat water fountain and wonders where our food is.
• Cleo makes an appearance and prances across the table.
• Food arrives.
• Lucy asks if we’ve decided when to put the book on sale.
• Rick reminisces about Chinese food that he ordered recently.
• Mr. Lucy and Rick compare notes… on Chinese food.
• Rick expresses concern that Lucy’s newsletters are “a little long”.
• Lucy expresses concern that Rick’s face is “a little dumb”.
• Mr. Lucy intervenes and suggests we discuss the title for Lucy’s next book.
• Lucy tells Marketing Guy Rick her title and why she thinks it’s the BEST, FUNNIEST TITLE IN THE HISTORY OF LUCY BOOKS INCLUDING GRUMPY GRUMP FACE. Rick looks vaguely approving. Or concerned. Lucy can’t tell. Mr. Lucy has concerns.
• Lucy gets up and does some chores. She’s been sitting for three hours.
• Mrs. Marketing Guy Rick calls and asks if he’s coming home or if he moved in with us. Rick assures her he’s coming home right now.
• Mr. Lucy twirls his beardstache like a villain while Rick talks about fireworks.
• Lucy exits the meeting and goes to bed.
• Mr. Lucy and Marketing Guy Rick agree on sale dates for The Worst Best Man. Spoiler Alert: It’s on sale now.

Between books, Lucy has decided to learn new hobbies to keep her brain fresh. This time it’s watercolors! Lucy and her friend Laura are competing in a “duck-off” to see who painted the best duck. Stay tuned to see what the judges decided!

Lucy’s offering is on the right, what do you think?

Man. I grossed myself out with that headline!

PANTSING VS. PLOTTING
First, I’d like to say that I have an intense dislike of jargon. When people say things like “not in my wheelhouse” around me, I break out into hives and start dry-heaving. When it comes to writing, one of the first things another author will ask you is if you’re a pantser (you write by the seat of your pants without knowing where the story will lead) or a plotter (you systematically outline your story in detail before you start writing). I do both and neither. So there. Label THAT! 😂

An idea will come to me from any number of inspiration sources: my bored imagination, a heart-warming story on social media, a “what would that be like?” question that arises after being made aware of a weird situation. Back in the olden days (pre-2020) I’d eavesdrop on conversations in restaurants. Anyway, inspiration strikes and my brain immediately throws it in a pot and lets it simmer.

The longer an idea has to simmer, the better for my writing process.

BARELY LEGIBLE HANDWRITING & SPREADSHEETS
Once it’s time to actually start working on a book, I grab my handy dandy notebook and a pen or 7. I like to handwrite the early stuff because it seems like the physical writing out of the words embeds them into my brain differently than typing. Like there’s more of a physical connection to the ideas if I’m scrawling them in barely legible handwriting?

I like to start by writing out a quick overview of who the characters are, what their story is, and what the conflict is. Then I dig deeper into character sketches for the hero and heroine. I figure out things like what foods do they like, what their relationship with their family is, what do they think they want out of life, what do they look like, who are their friends, their pets, their co-workers, etc. At this point I create a spreadsheet which I call my Book Bible. That way all the essential information is stored in one place. This sounds incredibly organized and it would be if I were a normal person, but it’s really a hot flipping mess. I end up naming the same character two different things, or changing their eye color or their age, etc.

MAKING CASUAL BRAINSTORMING A THING
Next comes the brainstorming. I sit back and wonder how all this stuff works for and against the characters. How it keeps them apart and what needs to happen for them to overcome their obstacles. All of this goes in the notebook in a stream of consciousness. With grocery lists and to do items scrawled in the margins. Doodles in the middle of paragraphs. Notes to myself.

Keeping it casual is my way of tricking myself into thinking I’m not working. I’m just playing around, having fun, eating candy in a beanbag. No big deal. No pressure.

Which is why I never do this part of the work in my office. It’s on the couch, or in the giant beanbag (if Cleo the cat is willing to share), or outside on the deck. My office is for concentrated work or yelling at Cleo to get off my desk.

IT’S RAINING MEN… AND WOMEN… AND PLOT TWISTS

Once I feel like I’ve got a handle on the storyline and character basics, I pull up my copy of Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. It’s a simple breakdown of the things that should happen in order for the plot of a romance novel to be satisfying to the reader.

Then I plop myself down at my desk, open my notebook, and start a new Scrivener project. I use Scrivener to write all my books now because it lets me organize by chapter and keep all my notes in the same project as my manuscript. To be fair, I only use something like 4% of the program’s capabilities. (I’m not a paid sponsor or an affiliate thingy person. Just a fan of the program.)

It’s at this point that I start to outline. I put my scene/chapter notes in and include any bits of dialogue that enter my head. Make notes of anything I need to describe or reinforce within the scene. Figure out whose point of view I’m writing in. I’ll go through all of the “beats” of my story and do this, plus whatever other scenes come to mind.
Other resources that I find helpful for planning my stories include:

• 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron
• Lounging in Mr. Lucy’s office talking to myself while he tries to focus on work
• Drinking alcohol

Even after all of this work, I’d be willing to guess that the outlined scenes are only 50% of what actually ends up in the finished story. When I’m actually writing those plotted scenes, others pop into my head. Most of my books are a half and half of carefully planned storyline and spontaneous inspiration.

There you have it. My pre-writing process. It takes anywhere from three days (way too short) to two weeks. I usually get too excited about the story and start writing earlier than I should which messes everything up. Stay tuned for Part 2: How I Actually Write Stuff! Spoiler Alert: It involves a lot of staring off into space.

Lucy had a newsletter with some very important content this week. Here’s what she had to say:
EXPLAIN LIKE I’M 5
Every once in a while I tiptoe on over to Reddit. There’s a subreddit called Explain Like I’m 5. I love the concept of breaking down complex things into bite-sized nuggets that make sense.

I applied that concept to two things that I thought could use a little clarifying this week. Please bear with me in my gross oversimplifications.

Why “All Lives Matter” Isn’t a Helpful or Healing Response to “Black Lives Matter”
Let’s start with the basics.

I like apples. Actually, I prefer them in pie form. But whatever. For this illustration, I like apples. Now, does me liking apples mean that I automatically don’t like pears, tomatoes, avocados, or heaping plates of spaghetti? Definitely not. Do I need to clarify all of the foods that I do like when I am singling one out? Guys, I’m not a picky eater. If you wanted me to clarify all the foods I like, we would be here for days.

Are you with me so far?

Cool. Let’s move on to a more nuanced metaphor.

Imagine your house is on fire. You are standing in your front yard staring in horror as your home, the place you’ve raised your family, celebrated holidays, enjoyed midnight snacks, and fallen asleep watching NCIS reruns is burning to the ground. It’s hot. It’s smoky. It’s devastating. Can you picture it?

You and your family are standing there with tears in your eyes and a mixture of fear, rage, and gut-wrenching horror is simmering in your gut.

The fire department arrives in a flurry of lights and sirens. But just as they start to unroll their hoses, I arrive.

You: *mournfully* My house is on fire.
Me: Yeah. Uh-huh. That’s nice. Excuse me, chief? My house is very important and so are the rest of the houses two blocks away. I need you to go hose them down first to make sure they stay safe.
You: What the fudge is wrong with you, lady?
Me: *ignoring you* It’s really very important that you acknowledge all of the other houses that aren’t on fire right now. And I need you to do it first. Before you address whatever this mess is *waving a hand in the direction of where nearly every happy memory your family made is turning to ash*
You: Listen, ma’am. My house is on fire right now. It deserves the priority attention.
Me: What fire? I don’t see any fire. My house is very important. My neighborhood is very important.

I can’t take credit for the house fire metaphor. It’s something I saw shared on social media. But I took it and ran with it.

When I say Black Lives Matter, I’m never, ever saying your life doesn’t matter. You matter very much to me. However, I am choosing this moment to put my attention on my black friends, loved ones, and readers to show them the love and respect and hope I have for them. To say “I see you. And what’s happening to you is not okay with me.”

Black Lives Matter. ❤️

What Does White Privilege Mean?
Let’s start with what white privilege doesn’t mean…
it doesn’t mean that your life isn’t hard
it doesn’t mean that you haven’t worked for and earned what you have
it doesn’t mean that you signed up for it or that you pay a monthly subscription fee for special privileges and want to keep them all to yourself
What it does mean…
All “white privilege” means is that the color of my skin hasn’t made my life harder.

That’s it.

White privilege means if I was in a 100-meter race, I would start at the starting line, but my black friend would start 50 meters behind me.

White privilege means if a cashier thought I was trying to pass a counterfeit bill and called the police, I know I wouldn’t end up dead. When I go for a run through my neighborhood, I don’t have to wear my college gear to prove that I’m an “upstanding citizen”. I don’t have to take children or dogs with me to appear less threatening. I. Just. Run. [Please check out this post, by the way.] I didn’t sign up for it or ask for it. I was just born with it. Just like my snot green eyes and my stumpy fingers.

Sure, there are dangers that I face as a human with lady parts. But those dangers don’t come from the amount of melanin produced by my body.

I hope both of these explanations helped! I know that they are oversimplified and there’s a very large chance that I misspoke somewhere in those ramblings. But I’m learning right along with you guys and hoping to do better, be better. Together, we can build a safer society. Together, we can all stand at the same starting line. I LOVE YOUR FACES! ❤️

Well, folks. Plan H732B finally solved the problem. I’ve been feuding with a cardinal named Pecky for weeks. He began his assault on our windows in March and we tried everything.

Fake owl cookie jars. Photos of our nieces and nephews. Printed pictures of other birds taped to the windows. Closing the curtains. Taping up strips of aluminum foil. Lying in wait and then running outside with a spray bottle. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

Thanks to Mr. Lucy’s Amazon ordering skills, Pecky now lives (and poops) in the trees in the backyard. Not on our deck. Unfortunately, the solution keeps scaring the crap out of me…


Yep. All it took to get Pecky to stop pecking was four of these rubbery little nightmares sinisterly draped around the deck. The neighbors have almost gotten used to me screaming every time I step outside.

Lucy and Mr Lucy woke up the other day to a fawn on their lawn! It stayed there for a whole day before they were able to get it moved to the fence row behind their house to be reunited with it’s mama. It was so sweet!

Fernando the Fawn

Welcome to Fake Professor Lucy’s Life Hacks for Hermitting Amidst Chaos 101. (That title probably needs work) In my five years as a full-time author, I have achieved expert-level status in staying at home AND dealing with things that are terrible (though usually on a much smaller scale than what we’re currently dealing with. For instance, 1-star reviews and cat butts.

Please allow me to offer you my most helpful tips (that I only sometimes adhere to myself).

1. Build a structure. Not that chicken roost you’ve been meaning to put up in the backyard. I mean a loose schedule or a REALISTIC to do list of items for your day. This is the ONLY way I get crap done. I break my lists into Work, Home, and Personal. I try to make these lists the night before so I wake up with a plan already in place. (Helpful Hint: Don’t do what I do and decide you’re suddenly going to get up an hour early, write 8,000 words before noon, rearrange the laundry room, learn 100 signs in sign language, and teach Cleo to clean her own litter box in one day.)

2. Get some quality time. If you’re anything like me, this situation is aggressively stripping away all the things we thought were essential. If you’re hunkered down with your family, use this as an opportunity to have real conversations, to goof off together, to remind yourself of how lucky you are to have each other. (Helpful Hint: It doesn’t have to be eight hours of quality time. That would actually be quantity time, which is more annoying.)

3. Pencil in privacy. For those of you who suddenly find yourself surrounded by people in your own home, it’s also important to prioritize “me time” for each family member who needs it. You can attempt this in a couple of different ways. Have a “sanctuary” room that each person gets sole access to once a day. Or, like my brother and sister-in-law do, send the kids to their bedrooms for Quiet Hour, during which they aren’t allowed to ask for snacks.

4. Stay connected. Reach out when you feel like it. Video chat with family and friends. Give Zoom Happy Hours or Netflix Viewing Parties a try. Or check in with someone who lives alone. A neighbor. A relative. A stranger on Facebook (non-creepily, of course).

5. Don’t wear jeans. This tip is self-explanatory.

6. Give yourself permission to do nothing. This is a traumatic time on so many different levels. Don’t feel that you HAVE to get all of your house projects done or edit your inbox down to 0 or suddenly master 8th grade math. One of the most important things you can give yourself (and your family) is rest. It’s okay to sleep in. It’s okay to spend the day/weekend binging Parks & Rec episodes. It’s okay to take some down time after YEARS of being over-scheduled and under-rested. Rest is good for the soul and the immune system. Take the nap. Snooze the alarm. Burrito yourself in the blanket.

7. Ingest the happy. Okay. I’m definitely not saying begin binge drinking. And I’m not saying eat only deep-fried Twinkies. I’m also not not saying don’t drink or eat Twinkies (or maybe I am. I got confused by the double negative). What I AM saying is we are fueled by what we consume. This also applies to what we watch, listen to, and read. If you are following the news right now or drowning in negativity and just plain dumbness on social media, I highly encourage you to ALSO make sure you’re consuming beautiful, positive, happy things. Because as tough as this situation is, it has not erased baby giggles, sunrises, and fat puppies biting their own tails from this world. It is absolutely imperative that you give yourself the chance to be immersed in beautiful, happy things every single day. In fact, the worse your day is, the more important Tip # 7 is. So, cue up those sitcom re-runs. Make fart noises with your children. Curl up with your favorite happily ever after. Seek out the light, the happy, the funny. Because that is what fuels your spirit. That and alcohol and deep-fried Twinkies.

My family has a tradition that prevents us from celebrating birthdays in public venues like restaurants. I don’t know when or why we started it, but it’s been going on for years. Seeing as how I hit 40 this week, I thought I’d give you a behind-the-scenes peek at Score family birthday shenanigans!

The kids pretend they hate the tradition, but their cute little voices really add a new level of horrificness to the song. P.S. That’s Mr. Lucy behind the paper plate ?

There will be some people in your life who will judge you or question you or be completely confused by your sadness over the death of someone you never met.

That is their problem, not yours. So don’t feel like you need to apologize for being genuinely sad or happy for someone you don’t know. That actually makes you a really great human being.

And it means that Luke Perry was really great at his art. Because you connected with him through his roles. You rooted for him.

I hope someday when it’s my time, when I am dragged kicking and screaming and maybe a little drunk and full of tacos from this earth, that people I never met will feel sad. That I will have had a positive impact on them even without being at their dinner table or living in their neighborhood. I want that for all of us. I want our reach to extend beyond the circle of people we see every day. I want us all to matter well beyond our kids and cats and coworkers.

Your ability to care about others beyond your circle is one of your greatest talents. The fact that you can get up at 5 a.m. with me to watch a royal wedding, or cry over a fictional character who doesn’t exist anywhere but your head and the author’s heart, the fact that you can mourn the death of a child of a friend of a friend of a friend makes you beautifully, wonderfully human. Despite what Twitter and the news say, we are compassionate, loving, and beautiful.

Now, let me tell you why I am so sad over Luke Perry. His role as Dylan McKay on 90210 imprinted pretty fiercely on me. This was my first TV experience of watching a regular girl (Brenda) from a regular place (Minnesota) catch and keep the eye of the bad boy. The unattainable, devastatingly attractive, no-on-can-have him, can’t-stop-thinking-about-him guy. Not only did she catch his eye, she unlocked him to find a good (I’m totally ignoring the Kelly fiasco here), vulnerable man who loved her. Now, THAT is my kind of catnip when it comes to a love story. The regular girl unlocks the unattainable guy and they live happily ever after… again, minus Kelly.

Over the decades since that show, I’ve always thought of Luke Perry fondly because of the impact of his art.

So maybe it’s not Luke Perry for you.

Maybe it was Grace Kelly or Bernie Mac or George HW Bush or Mr. Rogers or the elderly lady who lived down the block that you always meant to visit but never got around to it…

My point is, there are people out there we don’t know that we can still be profoundly happy for and sad over. Those people won’t be the same for everyone, but as long as we’re not crapping all over someone else’s exaltation when a Kardashian has a baby or their devastation when their favorite poet passes away, it’s all good. It’s all beautiful. And it’s all worthy of feeling. Feel your feelings. Don’t apologize for them.

Oh, and you all better be clutching tissues someday when I head off to that great book signing in the sky.

Note: I originally posted this wall of text on Luke Perry in my reader group on Facebook.

Mr. Lucy and I are back and badder than ever after an adventure in the Grenadines. We hoped on this ship here and bounced around the Caribbean island chain, soaking up the sun, rum, and camaraderie.

The SV Mandalay.

We were on board with 30+ other fine folks, sailing the high seas looking for adventure. Most of our vacations together could be labeled comatose what with our lounging, our snoozing, our sipping, and our staring off into space. So this one was a serious shift in gears for me. But it was so worth it. And it really made me appreciate how great out house and bed and bathroom that doesn’t have the shower head mounted directly over the toilet are.

Our cabin.

But this trip wasn’t about luxury and relaxation. In fact, I got sick twice (BAD—I barfed coffee) and Mr. Lucy’s day-long hangover took us out of commission for a third. We got home late last night and I’m still rocking back and forth like I’m on the water! However, despite all that it was one amazing trip!

Ahoy the sunset.

I learned some important things:

  1. My life needs more adventure that pushes me out of my comfort zone.
  2. The people living adventurously laugh more and look 20 years younger than their comfortable counterparts.
  3. Youth has nothing to do with how well you live your life. Most of the other passengers were close to if not over 70, strolling the rolling decks with a rum punch in each hand.
  4. Everyone has a story. One of my favorites is the opening pick up line that launched a decades-old marriage. “Hi! I’m Urs. Want a fish?” That was followed by a Swiss man dumping a dead salmon into the unsuspecting arms of a woman who at the time was in love with a piano tuner. They were married four months later.
  5. Some people have very violent reactions to motion sickness meds (me) and become convinced they are going to die (also me).

The view from Carriacou.

This trip was a lot of travel. Planes, ships, vans, and one long-ass car ride home at 2 a.m. Thankfully all of the planes had movies and TV. I watched:

  1. Black Panther: one of the best movies I’ve ever, EVER seen in my life and I don’t even like super hero movies!!! It delivered on every level and from a storytelling perspective it was perfection! If you have the chance, watch it!
  2. Bad Moms Christmas: a surprisingly heartfelt sequel.
  3. Pitch Perfect 3: Nothing will beat PP1, but I still love those aca-bitches.
  4. Under the Tuscan Sun: a rewatch for me.
  5. A rerun of the Kardashians after my touchscreen stopped working.

You’re probably more interested in the books I read, aren’t you? :) I approve these priorities. I also approve the following books!

  1. Engagement Rate by Annie Dyer (awesome beginning to a new family series)
  2. Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley (funny, reminiscent of Stephanie Plum!)
  3. Sophomore Slump by Alan Lee (hardboiled, smartass PI mystery)
  4. The Brightest Star by B. Cranford (I started this one on the plane home and haven’t finished it yet, but it’s a second chance story and you know I love those!)

I also learned that our asshole cat Cleo is ONLY AN ASSHOLE TO US! All week I was bombarded with texts from our cat-sitting friends sharing videos and pictures of cute Cleo snuggling and playing pleasantly with them. She didn’t stab a single one of them in the face! Not even once! WTF, Cleo?

Cleo pretending to be sweet.

Anyway, we had an amazing trip and are happy to be home! Blue Moon #6 is with the editors for its July release and tomorrow I’m starting a new project! I think you’re going to love it! xoxo