“I love to see a young girl go out and grab life by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” ~ Maya Angelou
Like so many writers, my inspiration often comes from bits and pieces of real life. As part of my research, I’m a voracious people watcher. Which hasn’t always been a comfortable thing. For example, I used to be intimidated by those women I’d see out in the world who seem to have it all together – all the time.
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You know who they are, the well-dressed babes floating into the upscale stores at the mall, while you share a corn dog with your kids on a bench, spitting on a Kleenex to wipe the mustard off the four-year-old’s chin and barking at the eight-year-old to get out of the fountain before security arrives. You sit there in your discount store garb, looking with longing at those modern day princesses, and suffer the sting of inferiority over their utter confidence, stylishly streaked hair, model thin bodies, and perfectly made up faces belonging on magazine covers...
And you hiss with jealousy…or is that just me?
Okay, I’m taking artistic license here. These days, I’m actually a grandmother — a really young one — and no longer easily intimidated. My kids are grown and life has calmed down somewhat since those days at the mall. I admit, I clean up nicely when I take the time, but I lived the corn dog existence I just described, and those years weren’t pretty, believe me. They were, however, instructive and liberating. Somehow through the chaos of raising my little family, my fascination for perfection became less important as I discovered life is messy and learning to cope in the world of not-so-perfect not only builds character, it makes you strong.
My epiphany came in the middle of a women’s clothing department as I stood witness to the horror of two women. Both had lost track of their child. Can you say nightmare? If this has ever happened to you, you know how scary it can be. My oldest turned 30 last month and I’m still mad at him for hiding in that rack of robes when he was four. The little $#*%!
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After freezing like a deer in the headlights, the princess fell apart, racing through the department and pleading for help at the top of her lungs. In contrast, Miss Jeans calmly hushed the toddler on her hip and opened her mouth. “Marco!” she called out. For a second there, I thought she might be having a mental breakdown, until, from the other side of the department a child’s voice called back, “Polo!”
It was a thing of beauty, I tell you, and I still chuckle at the memory.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all Princesses are helpless in an emergency, any more than all Plain Jane’s are a force to be reckoned with, but at that moment, I made two startling realizations. First, that whole, don’t judge a book by its cover thing is good advice. And second, strength is sexy, no matter the package it comes in.
Mac writes contemporary romance with a side of sass. You can find her strong heroines and larger-than-life-heroes where ever books are sold or at her home on the web at