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Guest Blogger: Margaret Ethridge (Contest)
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

The best laid plans…

Thanks so much for having me here, Delilah!

I’m perked to be here with you all today. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty hyped-up over all. This is a very exciting time in my life. You see, my kids are grown and stepping out into the world, and that means my husband and I are empty-nesters for the time in our marriage… Uh-huh. Life is good.

But all these changes have me thinking about plans in general. At last, my husband and I are making plans for just the two of us. We chuckle because it seems our children’s plans change with the wind, but that’s to be expected at their age. When I think back on who I was and what I thought I wanted when I was in my early twenties, I marvel at how far I strayed from my plan.

Here are a couple examples:

The plan: Marry somewhere around twenty-five, first kid by twenty-eight, done having kids by my early thirties.

The reality: At the age of thirty-two, I married a man with two children from his previous marriage and raised them as my own.

The plan: To become super-business-woman like Tess McGill in Working Girl and live the big city dream with Harrison Ford.

The reality: I stumbled into a career I didn’t even know existed when I was in my twenties and married a small-town guy from the south who bears a striking resemblance to Sheriff Woody from Toy Story.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. At. All. Although my life has taken a different path than the one I envisioned when I was a young adult, I have no regrets. So far, it’s been pretty darn awesome. That realization got me thinking about how lucky I was to have the nerve to jump out of line.

By letting go of “The Plan”, I lived my life instead of programming it.

The conflict between dreams and reality is a central theme in most of my novels. In Contentment, Tracy Sullivan almost flushes her idyllic life down the toilet because she can’t let go of her old dreams. Commitment was the story of Maggie McCann, a woman who discovers unanticipated happiness in a change of plan. Spring Chickens focuses on a couple brave enough to take a chance on a second chance at happiness. Even my paranormal romances, Paramour and its sequel Inamorata, feature characters who must learn to let go of the past in order to move forward.

Was it my plan to weave a common theme through every novel I’ve written thus far? *snort* Not at all. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even realize that I had until I was explaining the premise of one of the books to an acquaintance this past weekend. How cool is that?

Tell me, what plans have you changed when the prospect for something different came along?

I’d be happy to give one commenter their choice of any story from my backlist (including the steamier stuff I write as Maggie Wells,
but you have to promise not to tell my mom).

If you’d like to check them out, here are the links to my webpages:

15 comments to “Guest Blogger: Margaret Ethridge (Contest)”

  1. Evelyn Jules
    · June 27th, 2012 at 9:14 am · Link

    Excellent post! I think it’s so cool that all your stories are connected by a common thread. I had plans too. I planned on having seven children like Maria von Trapp. I planned on being married by the age of 25 to a tall, handsome, charming, curly-haired jock. I still think I’ll find him, but it’s taken an extra four years so far. My career plan took a drastic turn in 2010 when I went back to university for a second degree. But despite the many unexpected pathways I’ve taken, I couldn’t be happier with my life as it is. 🙂

  2. Cynthia D'Alba
    · June 27th, 2012 at 9:55 am · Link

    Great post, Mags. I love this.. “By letting go of “The Plan”, I lived my life instead of programming it.” What a valuable lesson.

    I had a “life plan” but honestly, I reached it too quickly in my 20’s. Since then, I’ve looked for the forks in the road of life. Looking back, I sometimes wonder if I’d have gone left instead of right back in (insert some random year), how my life would be different. I never dreamed I’d be writing, nor living on the lake, and I didn’t even meet my husband until I was 26.

    If I’d have planned my life, I’m not sure I would have put me where I am now, which is too bad. My life is awesome!

  3. Fedora
    · June 27th, 2012 at 11:45 am · Link

    LOL, Margaret/Maggie! I had a similar life plan, which I managed to blow completely all on my own. (DH likes to tease me that if I’d made up my mind the first time we went out, we would have stayed on track with my original timeline, but well… I was young and foolish ;)) Looking forward to getting acquainted with your stories–thanks for sharing your bookshelf!

  4. Megan Mitcham
    · June 27th, 2012 at 11:46 am · Link

    You aren’t joking sister! Plans go to pot when real life gets involved and I’m glad they do. Interesting things happen then. You find out what you’re made of.

    I never thought I’d leave Mississippi. Sure, I’d have traveled, but not live somewhere else. No way. Hahaha. Yes way! And all over this great country of ours.

    I thought I’d teach for twenty years and pull a lovely (and rather young) state retirement. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Thank goodness!

    Three cheers for adventures! :mrgreen:

  5. Deb Carter
    · June 27th, 2012 at 1:41 pm · Link

    Will be looking into your books as I’m always reading. I don’t think I had much of a plan except to live my life fit into a mold that my mom had planned for me. Yes getting married and having kids and even being a hairdresser like my aunt. It was never my plan because I felt I didn’t fit in with that life style. Real life joined the army and served for ten years and realized I was a lesbian while there. but back then it wasn’t excepted so that path was closed. So after army went to school for engineering but dropped out when real life lead me down another path to working as manager of a video store. Now real life has shown the real path I think is going to be it. I’m out as a proud lesbian and starting to write erotic lesbian stories as well as I have a kids book in the works among other ideas for so many more stories to come. We never know what the future holds for us all and that is what makes writing so great because we can change the types of stories we want to go after.

  6. Margaret Ethridge
    · June 27th, 2012 at 1:54 pm · Link

    I’m on the road today, so my answers may be a bit sporatic, but I will answer!

    Evelyn – By taking a turn you made a new plan. One I’m sure you will rock! Thanks for stopping by! :mrgreen:

  7. Margaret Ethridge
    · June 27th, 2012 at 1:56 pm · Link

    Cyndi – It’s so true, and a huge hazard for me. I am a planner. I map out every trip I take to run errands. Letting go is hard, but sometimes absolutely necessary. I’m so glad you’re happy with the twists and turns life has tossed your way! 8)

  8. Margaret Ethridge
    · June 27th, 2012 at 1:57 pm · Link

    Fedora – half the fun is blowing the plan to smithereens! *hands over dynamite* Thanks so much for your comment!

  9. Margaret Ethridge
    · June 27th, 2012 at 1:57 pm · Link

    Megan – I’m so glad your life took the turns it did. Otherwise, we would never have met. It’s fate, I tell you…Fate! 🙂

  10. Margaret Ethridge
    · June 27th, 2012 at 2:00 pm · Link

    Deb – Everyone has to chart their own course, you are proof positive of that. Our choices make us who we are, and we make our choices. We only get one go at this thing, so why not go for it? Thanks so much for your comment!

  11. Laurie
    · June 27th, 2012 at 2:29 pm · Link

    When I was a little girl or a young woman did I say to myself, “When I grow up I want to be mowing lawns for a living.” Nope, not in the least. I may not live an exciting life but the life I do lead is pretty darn good. I just have to look into the face of my smiling grandbaby to know that.

  12. Margaret Ethridge
    · June 27th, 2012 at 2:50 pm · Link

    So true, Laurie! Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan, but if we play our cards right, it’s better! Thanks!

  13. ELF
    · June 28th, 2012 at 1:05 am · Link

    Flexibility is important anyway! I have learned that one makes plans and dreams…and then life goes off on another angle. You can waste time regretting past opportunities or you can ‘make lemonade’ with what you are given. Thanks for visiting.

  14. Mary Preston
    · June 28th, 2012 at 3:14 am · Link

    My life certainly never went TO PLAN, but I have to say I’m probably a lot stronger because it didn’t.

  15. Margaret Ethridge
    · July 3rd, 2012 at 2:18 pm · Link

    Thanks for your comments, everyone! My friends at picked a winner and the name selected was: FEDORA!

    Congratulations! Please email me at mkethridge1 (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know which backlist title trips your trigger, Fedora!

    Thanks again for hosting me, Delilah! You’re a doll! :mrgreen:

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