Authorpreneur Dashboard – Maris Parker

Maris  Parker
Cedar Ridge

Cedar Ridge


Sometimes the Universe has a weird sense of humor. What else could account for Jessica Hayes ending up stranded in a tiny northwestern Wyoming town without her cell phone or wallet full of credit cards? All she’s ever wanted is to prove she could be an asset to her father’s company. She’s so determined to get her rightful inheritance that she even accepted a marriage proposal from Warner, the man her father is grooming to take over the family business. But Warner wants a behind-the-scenes wife, not a business partner, and leaving Jessica behind in Cedar Ridge is just the beginning of what he’ll do to get what he wants. Plus, the last thing Jared McKendrick needs is a damsel in distress to rescue. Still burning from his fiancée dumping him for another—richer—guy, all his attention and every spare moment is dedicated to keeping his family’s ranch running, profitable, and out of the hands of the aggressive developer who’s been buying up all the property around Cedar Ridge. But then his mother up and offers Jessica the use of their phone and a place to stay, and neither of them have a clue that it’s Jessica’s father who’s been trying to push them out of their family home. Warner is doing his damnedest to keep Jessica out of his way, but the real monkey wrench in the works is the growing attraction between Jared and Jessica. Can she convince him to sell without falling for him completely and before he realizes who she really is? Can he figure out a way to keep his ranch and convince her to stay? Will it be Warner or the Universe who gets the last laugh?

Book Bubbles from Cedar Ridge

Don't Let the Beautiful Day Get Away

Busy as I am trying to get the follow-up to Cedar Ridge done—or at least get the first draft out of my head and into a Word doc—I’ve still been trying to take time to enjoy autumn. The leaves are gorgeous this year, vibrant shades of yellow-gold, lush orange, and fiery red. And the days … I think only fellow autumn-appreciators can understand how the energy of the days seem to feed the soul. So, how am I making the most of the season? I've been doing a lot more baking, for one thing. Cooler temperatures allow for that, you know, and what gets you in the mood for fall more than the spicy-sweet scent of fresh baked cinnamon rolls and pumpkin-apple muffins? And don’t forget zucchini bread. Friends and family who garden report mixed success this year, but zucchini always abounds, am I right? That's perfect--I have the most amazing recipe for zucchini muffins. Since I only break it out in the fall, I welcome bumper crops of the green squash so I can bake my heart out and freeze the results for future enjoyment. Oh so good with a cup of coffee on a chilly morning or a rainy afternoon. Feel free to message me if you’d like the recipe—I’m always happy to share!

Dream a Little Dream

There are four seasons where I live and autumn is my most favorite of them all. I don’t care that the days grow shorter or colder. I use it as an excuse to climb into cozy jammies and brew up a pot of coffee or tea any time of day just for the comfort of it. And, in my jams and with a steaming mug at the ready, I’m perfectly set for hours of curling up in the big chair next to the fireplace with a book, my furries in attendance, of course. Lately, though, I’ve allowed myself a little indulgence, one that I haven’t done a lot of in many, many years: daydreaming. It feels like a luxury because we’re supposed to be busy and productive 110% of the time, right? Crimony, I’m trying to get my next book completed and ready for the editor by the end of this month, and be ready to dive right into book number three by Monday, November 1 (that’s 2021, y’all). *freaked out emoji* That pressure alone feels like enough justification for taking a break and a breather and letting my mind off the leash. Exploring what-ifs that may never make it into a book, and may never materialize in my life are satisfying all the same in their freedom.

The Guy You Love to Hate

Yes, we’re talking Warner again. A villain’s villain. When I decided to do this week’s post on another of his chapters, at first, I wondered what I could possibly say about him that hadn’t already been revealed. It’s true, I may redeem him at some point in the future but, for now, he’s still King Jerk. But then I remembered something: that everything works together for the good. It's not just a truth, but a useful writer's tool. Essentially, even those who seem to do their damnedest to hinder you end up helping in some way—sometimes in the biggest way possible. I don't consider that a spoiler. If you think about it, it’s the thread in every Happily Ever After romance you’ve read, and Cedar Ridge is definitely an HEA. The challenge for the author is using the villain’s dastardly deeds not necessarily against him (though sometimes that's an interesting twist), but for the good of the heroes and heroines, for the good of the overall story. The fun part is letting them do their worst, then coming in to clean it up. I haven’t even started thinking about a story line for Warner’s book yet, so I won't give it another mention. Right now, let’s just keep enjoying Warner Barkley as he is: the guy we love to hate.

Who You Gonna Call?

Who would you call in a real emergency? A spouse? Parent? Sibling? Friend? Everyone’s gotta have someone, right? That person you can count on no matter what’s going on. And you don’t want it to be someone who will get all judgmental on you. When you’ve hit rock-bottom, the last thing you want to hear is, “I told you so!” You need the person who doesn’t just close their eyes to your mess, they choose not to let it affect their love for you. Like Bernard Meltzer said, “A true friend is someone who thinks you’re a good egg, even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” And who among us isn’t cracked—slightly or more? No matter who the person is, no matter where they come from or where they’re going, there’s always going to be quirks and baggage. When I was writing Cedar Ridge, I had to give Jessica an ally, someone she could at least talk to, if not turn to for help in getting out of her predicament. He’s a good egg himself and thank God he was trustworthy. Will we see more of Kendal in future books? I’m already thinking of ways to bring him to Wyoming…

Finding My Way

I’ve really enjoyed writing these little insights over the past few weeks. I’ve used writing prompts to get a lot of them started. There’s so much I want to tell you about my book, my writing, the process … and at the same time, I’m stumped for material most days. I feel like I’ve used up my creativity on my next book and I got nothin’ left for a post. These is one of those days. But! I’m finding my way. Looking at what other authors put out in their blogs. Mostly, the ones I enjoy best are the ones that don’t seem so formal. You know? Not over-thought or pre-planned too much. One great was an author basically saying, “I don’t have much to say but I still wanted to check in. So—hi!” Okay, so I won’t ramble here. Just checking in. I usually write posts on Sundays and today my to-do list also includes baking a peach pie and making fettuccine, so I gotta get busy. Just checking in. Just saying “hi!”. :)

A Very Bad Day

We’ve all had ‘em. The days from hell that just won’t end. The alarm doesn’t go off. You forgot to set the coffee maker. The last bagel has green fur growing on it. Halfway through the day, you realize your underwear is on inside out. And, you’re late for every appointment on your schedule because, let’s face it, the domino effect got activated first thing with that alarm malfunction. To top it all off, unfortunately, the natural reaction for any red-blooded human being only makes things worse. Copping a bad attitude puts out negative vibes that just attract more mishaps because negative thinking narrows your viewpoint, so all you see is the bad. When writing a very good story, though, it’s vital to give characters very bad days. The more bad days, the better, actually. What’s interesting about someone who never stumbles once? I could work with one very good day, followed by a week, a year, a month, of bad days. That makes for an interesting story. You want to keep reading to find out if the main character digs herself out and, if so, how she does it. The misadventures of someone trying to tip their world upright again is where the entertainment comes in.

The Power of Words

While I was writing Cedar Ridge, one of my writing partners commented that I’d created the perfect villain in Warner Barkley. “I love to hate him!” she said with a wicked chuckle, and I so appreciated that. It meant I’d done my job. I’d created a character using words in such a way as to affect how the reader felt about him. That’s powerful stuff! Recently, in not totally unrelated news, I was informed that Billionaires are hot storylines for romance novels of all subgenres, including rom-coms, as the Cedar Ridge series is. AND! I was further advised to steer my series in that direction. I gotta be honest. As small as Cedar Ridge is, there aren’t a whole lot of billionaires in the area. Okay, there aren’t any. As I was mulling over the idea of how to work an ultra-rich guy into the mix, Warner popped in to remind me of how wealthy he is. In fact, I guess it turns out his net-worth has grown over the last couple of months. Sounds like a solution to my dilemma, yeah? Maybe. But now there’s a new one. I need to use the power of words and language to turn him from a guy you love to hate into a leading man you could love. Stay tuned...

Love Comes When You Least Expect It

Isn’t that always the way? You really, really, really want to find love, but it eludes you. You’ll see it everywhere but in your own life. Friends pair up while you go on disappointing date after disappointing date, never finding The One. Letting go of expectation is the key. It sounds contrary, but turns it’s a completely unromantic, scientific way to attract your heart’s desire quicker. In his book "Real Magic," Dean Radin, PhD, calls it “effortless striving.” It’s a state of passionately, obsessively desiring something while at the same time remaining unconcerned about when or how it’s going to come to you. I won’t get into the physics of it (and, yes, believe it or not, physics do apply here), but your passion and emotion around the issue give your desire weight that activates a gravitational pull that causes the answer to that desire to come to you. But anxiety around who, or how, or when acts like deflector shields that stand in the way, blocking your desire from coming to you. It’s the reason why, when your desire is weighted down with a little healthy fantasizing and minimal obsessing but then you set aside worries and anxieties around it, you’re most likely to run into that desire when and where you least expect it.

Take a Chance

There’s a time and a place for playing it safe, but sometimes you gotta take a chance. A few years back, I was working in an office, a “safe” job that came with good benefits and a 40-hour work week. The people were great, but the work so lacked challenge that I was completely bored. So, I began freelance writing on the side. The extra income was just a bonus. The real motivation was doing something I loved and soon, I started wondering if I should take a chance on freelancing fulltime. I knew if I made the switch, I’d no longer get paid just for showing up. I’d have to hustle to keep the money coming in, and there were no guarantees that the magazines and websites I was writing for today would have work for me tomorrow. Well, obviously, I did take the chance. Those first few years, I worked harder than I ever had before—and I was also happier than I’d ever been before. And, after a few years, my writing aspirations took another direction. I started writing a novel with the goal of publishing it. Thank God I took a chance on my dream. If I’d played it safe, I wouldn’t have had the incredible experience of writing a book that so many have enjoyed.


“The Universe has your back.” It’s hard to believe sometimes, when things go spectacularly wrong. In those instances, it’s easier to believe the Universe is playing a colossal joke with you starring as the butt of gag. And if you’re not looking for the silver lining, you’ll end up trudging along with that poor-me victim mentality that’s become as comfortable as your favorite pair of fleecy jammy pants. It’s a concept I ended up exploring kind of by accident when writing Cedar Ridge. I hadn’t set out to write a book about Divine intervention or serendipity. I just had an idea about putting a privileged rich girl in a tough situation and seeing what happened. Turns out, what happened did so for a reason. Who knew? What’s more, the timing was serendipitous in my own life. After years of working on Cedar Ridge in snatches of time here and there, wedged in around work, family, and other obligations, the world went a bit crazy, and I found myself in my own tough situation. BUT! I also suddenly found myself with ample time to finish my book. Lesson learned: possibilities and silver linings abound, if you look for them. It’s like a treasure hunt sometimes, but it makes it easy to believe that the Universe really does have your back.

Disruptions and Distractions

Disruptions and distractions—the stuff of nightmares for control freaks everywhere. Even for those less OCD people, these two words have negative connotations. Both indicate interference—in a plan or of focus and concentration. But what if we looked at disruptions and distractions in a different way? Welcomed them as just the things that might be needed to get us on the right track. In Cedar Ridge, Jessica Hayes’s “ideal” life is disrupted when she’s left behind, stranded in a small town. And then (because being abandoned by your fiancé isn’t enough conflict for a good story), she’s served up with a magnificent distraction in the form of a sexy cowboy. Oh my. Could things get any worse? Different people would certainly respond in different, individual ways, and Jessica’s first response is to try to make the best of the hand she’s been dealt. But the longer she stays in Cedar Ridge, the more she realizes maybe the best thing to do is embrace the disruptions and distractions. If everything happens for a reason, they could be the key to the life she’s always dreamed of living. After all, life happens not despite of disruptions and distractions, but in the midst of them.

Taking Stock

Everyone sets intentions and makes resolutions on January 1st, but how many routinely take stock? The process of looking at our lives to see what's working and what's not could save time and probably a boatload of heartache and yet, so often, we only take stock when we’re forced to. Jessica Hayes, the main character in my new novel Cedar Ridge, is the perfect example. She’s gone along, accepting the status quo because it seemed that’s how she would accomplish her goals. Forget about the fact that most of her life is spent doing things to please others or further their agendas, such as accepting a proposal just because it’s from the guy her father wants her to marry, and giving up on doing anything fulfilling, because living her dreams won’t make anyone happy but Jessica. It’s only when she finds herself ditched at a convenience store outside a tiny Wyoming town, does she take a look at her life and, even then, she still takes her sweet time determining what’s working and what’s not. Maybe if she would have taken stock a little sooner, she could have avoided the trauma and drama of getting dumped on the roadside. Then again, if she’d done that, she wouldn’t have found her HEA, and I wouldn’t have a newly published book.

Cedar Ridge



Book Bubbles from Cedar Ridge

A Glimpse Into the Future

Cedar Ridge has only been out for a month, but I'm already working on the next book in the series. There's no title, yet—not even a working title—but the story line has been circling around the outskirts of my brain, waiting for its turn to be told. Even while I was knee-deep in writing Cedar Ridge, Laney Redford, a sweet brunette waitress at the Rusty Spur, was pestering me to write her story next. So, once this book was out and well on its way, I had to put my focus on Laney. I’m only eight or nine chapters in, and a few things are changing already from my original outline, but I can tell you that Laney is a hardworking gal, with an eye on buying out her boss and eventually owning the Silver Spur, Cedar Ridge’s only bar. Because of her focus on her goal, she doesn’t have time for romance, and certainly not with any of the musicians that come and go playing the Spur and playing the love ‘em and leave ‘em game … until Ryder Blake comes along, fresh off a 2nd place win on a televised talent show, then all bets are off. I’m having a blast writing these two and hope you enjoy reading their story once it comes out.

Cedar Ridge

Book Bubbles from Cedar Ridge

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