Friday, January 27, 2017

Cheryl Bolen Asks Alpha or Beta Hero?

What kind of heroes do it for you? One school of thought has it that Alpha heroes rule. You know, those sexy billionaires who are strong, handsome, and powerful. Then there's the school of thought that likes a sensitive guy, one with a soft spot for babies and pets. This kind of hero can be a regular guy—like many of our husbands. Perhaps he's a fireman, who's heroic in his day job.

When I cut my teeth on romance novels many years ago, I loved the Harlequin Presents formula. Handsome tycoon. Shy, submissive heroine who's swept off her feet like a Cinderella. (After all, Cinderella was my all-time favorite children's story!) When I morphed over to historical romance, naturally I wanted aristocratic heroes.

So when I started publishing historical romances back in the nineties, my first hero (A Duke Deceived)  was a duke. My second (A Lady by Chance) was a marquess. Other books that have followed have names like My Lord Wicked, The Earl's Bargain, and His Lordship's Vow. You get the picture.

Now that I'm finishing up my second decade publishing romance novels, I've discovered something about myself that parallels with my creation of heroes. When I was junior high age—twelvish—the class bad boy who smoked behind the gym was attractive to me. (Wonder what those losers are doing now?) But by the time I started college, my taste in guys did a one-eighty. Glasses started holding appeal. I was no longer enamored by the goof-offs. I wanted a guy who was not only smart, I wanted a guy who was smarter than me.

In this age we live in, it's the smart Bill Gates' types—and yes, they wear glasses—who rule the world. Now in the twenty-first century, there's something sexy about a computer guru. 

Because of this mindset, my Regency-set historical romance Love in the Library, a Brides of Bath novel, features a nerd hero. It's a lot of fun to watch his slow awakening to the heroine and his confused emotions. Why in the heck are her kisses dominating his thoughts? And how in the heck can a kiss feel so . . . so wonderful? Of course, he's strong and, I think, heroic. My readers do, too. That book has a 4.4-star Amazon ranking after 58 reviews. 

Who else likes nerd heroes?-- Cheryl Bolen's latest release is Ex-Spinster by Christmas, a House of Haverstock novella. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Is Anyone Listening? @lcrandallwriter

What is Facebook?

  It’s a place to express ourselves and connect with others. It’s a place to promote our writing. It’s a place to reconnect with friends and family. I know that. But is social media of any sort providing us with what we’re really looking for? 

Granted, right now Facebook is on steroids. The election campaigning craziness played out on Facebook in a very in-your-face kind of way as people aired their opinions and attitudes in their posts. Lots of name-calling. Lots of telling what others should do or not do with their opinions. It reminds of the scene in the Lord of the Rings’ second book Twin Towers, when representatives from all walks of life congregated at the home of the elves to decide what to do about the ring of power. They all ended up shouting and raging and voicing their individual opinions. It was chaos. No one was listening.

So I wonder from time to time, what is going on in social media, really. I know it’s self-expression, and typically that is a good thing. Still, I can’t help but remember my version of self-expression that dates back to before social media came on the scene.

Dear Diary, Dad brought home a kitten today. I’m going to name her Margie.

Dear Diary, Jimmy kissed me on the playground today. The boys were chasing the girls and kissing them when they caught them. Some of the girls didn’t try very hard not to get caught. I was a little scared because I didn’t know if a boy kissed me if I’d like it, but I also didn’t want to be left out.

Yup, I had a diary when I was young. My mom gave it to me in fifth grade. It was about the size of a paperback, but it was gold and the pages were blank, just waiting for me to fill them. It also had a lock and key to go with it. It was a safe and secure place to tell my diary about my days and what I was going through.

The diary my mom gave me became my first of many. I gave my diary a name and “she” felt like my friend. When I didn’t dare talk about something or I felt no one understood what was happening in my life, my diary took it all without judgement or shaming.

  My relationship with diaries changed as I went to college, married, and had children. I didn’t have one. But at a point when life was over-the-top hectic, scary, and chaotic, my dear diary returned, ready to help me sort through becoming invisible and lost. Only in her reincarnation, she took the form of a journal.

With my first journal, I declared ground rules for my family, including my husband: never read it; never even pick it up. If you do, I’ll know it and I will never forgive you. That sounds dramatic, but in my defense I was going through some very hard stuff. I was desperate.

Within that private space, I poured out my soul. I had reason to do so on a daily basis. It served as a receptacle for my pain and my attempts at joy. I didn’t even make an effort to censor my words and write “nice” things when I felt anything but nice.

2-4-2000 Deedee called incessantly today, demanding in a voice fitting a banshee that Susie’s and Jenny’s snowpants were ruined while at our house over the weekend. I don’t know if I can stand the unrelenting intrusion in our lives, the criticism, or the manipulation. I want to go someplace so far I’d have no thought of her.

Journaling is therapeutic. My journals allowed me to express myself freely, with no possibility of judgment or discounting. It was private. It served my needs for not only self-expression, but of being heard, seen, and protected. I learned many things about myself through the honest exploration of my life. Journaling helped me grow.

Can I say that about what I read on social media? Does it challenge my beliefs; does it open up new thoughts and possibilities? I think so. There is potential for that. I feel that for most of us social media is a place where we let out what we’re feeling. We want the world to see us and hear us. We want support from friends and followers. There is a lot of that, as well. It could be a place where we argue, too, but the character of postings in my experience is not productive expression but rather critical judgement, and we feel compelled to defend our positions. Unfortunately, that isn’t true connecting and it’s not listening or being listened to, or hearing or being heard. It’s not private and there is no protection.

Don’t misunderstand, I post and I read social media. I love interacting with readers and learning more about them, for instance. I enjoy a lot of what social media offers. I just think we need to be clear with ourselves what we are seeking from social media. Because perhaps there are times when the only person who needs to hear, understand, explore, and accept what’s in your heart and mind is you. 

That is what can be found in journaling.

I'd love to know how you see social media. Share?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Liz Flaherty and The Lucky 7 by @JoanReeves #GemsInAttic

Welcome to the Every-So-Often 3rd Friday Lucky 7 interview.

Each month--don't hold me to this--I'll interview an unwitting victim subject and boldly go where no interviewer has gone before.

Well...that's the plan. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Let's hope it is. *g*

Today, I interview Liz Flaherty, our fearless leader.

Liz is the one who conceived of the idea of Gems in the Attic, a group blog by the authors of the now-defunct Precious Gems Romance. The romance line may be defunct, but the authors are still going strong--writing, publishing, and selling.

You can find Liz online here at Gems in the Attic and also at: Word Wranglers * Facebook * Twitter.

Liz's latest book is Every Time We Say Goodbye. Here's a blurb for you.

After the prom night accident that had stolen the innocence of his small lakeside hometown, Jack Llewellyn had run. The guilt—especially facing his high school sweetheart, Arlie Gallagher—had been too much. Now he had no choice. He was back in town, and on Arlie’s radar.

Arlie couldn’t believe that after all these years, she still had him under her skin. He was such a changed man…a responsible business owner, a single parent. Would he understand the changes she’d gone through, the secrets she lived with? She was ready to forgive him but was he ready to forgive himself? And did they have to say goodbye this time?

Add Every Time We Say Goodbye to your romance library. You'll find it here: Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Harlequin.

Now let's see how Liz handles the hot seat!

LUCKY 7 with Liz Flaherty

1. When you were 18, what did you want to do with your life?

Liz: Live in a city on my own, go to concerts, and write books. I had no idea what kind of books, nor did I think it was even a possible dream for a high-school educated farm girl. However, except for living in a city--on my own or otherwise--it worked out really well!

2. When you hit 40, what did you want most in life?

Liz: My first grandchild was born three days before my 40th birthday. I wanted more like her--and got them. I hadn't sold any books yet then, so I still wanted that, too. It took eight more years.

3. What is a character name you have always wanted to use but haven't?

Liz: Wyatt. I keep wanting to, but so far he hasn't shown up. I thought I had him for the story I just started, but no...I don't know yet who he is, but he's not Wyatt!

4. What genre would you like to try but haven't?

Liz: Really, none. However, I wrote one historical, and I'd love to write another one. I enjoyed it a lot. The research was more fun than the writing. It takes so much time, though, that I'm not sure I'll ever do it again.

5. Let's go to fantasy land. If time, distance, and other conditions of reality were no problem, where would you go for dinner tonight and with whom?

Liz: I'm not sure where, but I'd like for the food to be prepared by and explained by Julia Child. I'd like to have dinner with Louisa May Alcott, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Hillary Clinton. To thank them, and to listen to them talk to each other.

6. Still in fantasy land, in the book shown above, who would you cast as the heroine and hero to star in the movie version of the book?

Liz: My view of my hero and heroine is always Monet-like, never clear, and I want them to look however readers need them to look. For my own pleasure, I would choose Meryl Streep and Sam Elliot because they are so fabulous and so strong; age doesn't matter.

7. Last question before we leave fantasy land. When the movie based on your book wins the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, what will you wear to the Oscars?

Liz: Sweats, because I'll be watching from home or from some vacation spot. I love traveling, but I don't love glitz in any way, shape, or form.

I enjoyed Liz's answers very much and hope you did too, Readers.

(However, I definitely think Liz should attend the Oscars if that fantasy ever comes true!)

Tune in next month for another Lucky 7.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of sassy, sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers; audio editions at Amazon,, and iTunes. New print editions will finally be available in 2017.

Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free NL for writers with tips to help with the writing business, and WordPlay, an email list/NL for readers with new book and giveaway alerts. Subscribe to either and receive a free ebook. Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A new story @Liz Flaherty

I am between manuscripts. It is, bar none, the weirdest place in the world to be. I already went on and on about exactly how weird it is on Word Wranglers, so I will have to dig deeper for conversation here.

Since I am in the strange place I’m not going to write about, I thought I’d go ahead and talk about starting a new book. How do you do it? Do you have a routine when you start? What comes first in your stories? Do you start and stop and start and stop? For trad writers, do you write a synopsis and then hope you can write a story somewhat related to it? Do you have a bunch of Chapter Ones on your computer that you’ll likely never finish?

I’ve always been a pantser. Since plotting is excruciatingly difficult for me anyway, I just let the plot happen. Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes there is much kicking and screaming involved. Sometimes I end the book with great doubt there is any plot at all. So this week, since I had some time, I decided I’d try to plot.

I got through the first paragraph. But then…I don’t know what the hero’s name is yet, although Wyatt seems to be knocking at the door. Maybe Shoe. (My son played baseball with a boy whose last name was Shoemaker—they called him Shoe and I’ve always wanted to use it.) I don’t know who he is, what his flaws are, or even how old he is. How can I possibly plot? Can I just call him Hero? Of course not, because if I do that, I’ll have him climbing a mountain somewhere and, sure enough, he’ll end up being afraid of heights.

I do know the heroine. Sort of. We haven’t really met, but I know her name. That she’s divorced.

Oh, and I have the setting. This will be the third book in Lake Miniagua, Indiana. Since I invented this community, you could assume I know all about it, right? Well, no. Because when I hurtled into this new story on a plotless sled, the first place I came to was an apple orchard. The second was the library. Neither of these have ever been mentioned or even hinted at in the previous books. (I know, how could I possibly have already written two books without mentioning the library? I don’t know, but I did.) Most people I know who write series have nice, well-kept bibles about previous characters, settings, etc. I, on the other hand, have Post-it notes. Paper ones and ones on my computer screen. All colors. None of them make much sense.

Here, incidentally, is a picture of the Lake Miniagua the way it is in my mind, thanks to my friend Chris McGuire, who lives on Lake Manitou in Rochester, Indiana. See why I keep going back to it?

Chris McGuire

So. There. I have a heroine and a setting. The heroine has a half-sister who showed up because I wanted to use the name Royce. They are on the road from California and are just about to arrive at the apple orchard. Is that plotted enough? I thought so, too. Thanks for your input!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Release Day! A Breath Taken by Bonnie Edwards

Ah! Release day is a joyous day, filled with excitement and pleasure. After months of struggle and focus our book is as polished as it can be. A cover has been carefully chosen. The product description or blurb has been tweaked and revised. Finally the story is available to readers. 

Maybe some readers will like the characters or plot or writing enough to post a few kind words on a retailer’s site. Our hopes for our little gem soar!

Release day is also one of the great letdowns for those of us writing independently of a publisher. For this is the day we’re glued to our sales graphs and charts all across the globe. No matter how high we see those little lines stretch it’s never quite high enough. Release day is agonizing for those writers like me who dread overloading their social media with “buy my book” posts, blogs and memes.

But still, we need to do it. So here's a link if you're interested:                

Today I release my 5th installment of my erotic paranormal romance series, Tales of Perdition. 
In A Breath Taken the paranormal element is time travel, a change from the ghosts who usually create havoc in the living’s love lives.

The mysterious spirits of Perdition House are up to mischief again
 but this time lives are at stake. . .

Blue McCann wants a second chance to live. Drawn into a vintage clothing shop by a mysterious woman, she tries on an antique corset…and wakes up in 1913 in the body of another woman.

Dr. Colt Stephens has been attracted to a woman he first met in Perdition House. Unfortunately, he made the wrong assumption about her role in the famous, exclusive, “gentleman’s retreat.”

But now it seems by saving her life, he’s in her good graces and in her bed. She’s everything he’s ever wanted…even if she’s not the woman he thinks she is.

Can Blue McCann learn how to stay in this life she’s been given or will she have to return to the present where death awaits her?

In the 5th installment of Tales of Perdition, secrets are revealed and answers are found…

Multi-published author Bonnie Edwards has written novels, novellas and short stories for Carina
Press, Harlequin, Kensington Books and Robinson (UK) although now she publishes her work herself.
Sometimes her stories have a paranormal twist, likes curses and ghosts, other times not. But they’re always entertaining and guarantee a happy ending. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Contemplating an End to a Writing Career

How does someone know when to turn off the creative juices? Assuming, of course, such a thing is even possible. Is there a moment in time when you just say, “I’m done” or, “I’ve got nothing else to say”?
Having recently reached the twenty-year milestone in my career, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Given how late I started my life as a published author, I’m grateful for the many years I’ve had. And, based on contracts already signed, I know I’m not going anywhere at least through 2017 and most of 2018.

This year I’ll reach another milestone...twenty-five published romances (as I said, late bloomer, slow starter, etc.). That silly, but coveted, pin from Romance Writers of America will be mine.

So, again, I ask ... is it possible to turn off creativity? Or, will my head be plagued with plots and twists and the search for the perfect HEA long after I’ve traded my computer for a Kindle loaded with large print editions?

The publishing industry is not what it used to be. In some ways it’s better. In others, not so much. Finding a home for your work, especially if you’re already ensconced with a publisher, is not difficult. Self-publishing has now become a healthy portion of the market. However, making money is getting harder than it used to be. There are only so many readers with only so many dollars to spend. And at least 100 times more authors vying for those same dollars than when I began.

Promotional expenses have skyrocketed as well. Twenty years ago an author’s biggest expense was printing and mailing (yes, mailing) out a newsletter. Now, it’s Facebook party giveaways, blog tours, and hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of swag.

My first instinct is to pare down. Instead of writing for four publishers, choose two. Instead of checking out each and every submission call, concentrate on the genres that I enjoy writing the most. Put all my energy and focus into making these last few years more about quality than quantity.

When I retired from the outside world at the end of 2013, I paced myself for the year prior. I looked forward to making those last few months count and partied like a crazy woman at my retirement luncheon. Yet somehow, I think, retiring from this strange but wonderful career known as “romance author” won’t be nearly as easy.

In 2013, I published five books, in 2014 another four. In 2015 it was five again and then last year I managed four. (I think I’m seeing a pattern here.) With four books already scheduled/contracted for 2017, I believe now is as good a time as any to start planning for a second retirement.

While all you beginners, or mid-career authors, are (hopefully) setting goals and outlining strategic plans, I’ll be re-defining what I want to write and for whom. My goal as it stands now is to wrap it all up at 30 (another RWA pin!) and then sit back and relax.

However, writing is an addiction and I’m just not sure I can stop!

I’d love to hear from other authors. How long do you plan to write? How easy do you think it will be to retire?

Until my next visit to the blog, remember to be good to yourself...whether it’s writing that perfect book or reading it!


Friday, January 13, 2017

New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 by Jan Scarbrough

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution?

Most resolutions have to do with self-improvement.
  • Learn how to meditate
  • Learn something new each day
  • Start a hobby.
  • Play more
  • Eat fewer calories
  • Move more
  • Read more books

Gyms usually see an increase in membership during the first of the year, but it drops off a few months later. A few years ago, I started going to the gym. I started going to a Zumba® group exercise class. (Here’s what I learned doing Zumba.) I’m still at it, but don’t go as often as I should.

Resolution #1 – Go to Zumba twice a week, at least.

Another popular resolution is to lose weight. I’ve tried that one too. It remains a work in progress.

Resolution #2 – Eat more vegetables and fruits. I started eating more before Thanksgiving, and it has helped.

I admit I don’t make many resolutions. I do write down my writing goals, usually in the form of titles for books I want to write. So here it is! My first big goal for 2017 is to complete a book I started in 2016 called Nom de Plume.

For the first time, I’m revealing my wonderful cover at the Gems Blog. I’ll post more about the story once the book is finished. As my “work in progress,” Nom de Plume becomes my most pressing New Year’s Resolution.

What about you? Did you make at least one resolution this year?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

BIG  MAGIC    aka    Inspiration @kathleenlawless

Most non-writers truly believe that writers sit down and write when the mood or the inspiration strikes.  Impossible to explain how it's actually sit down and write ever day, even when the well is dry or I just plain old don't feel like it.

Don't get me wrong.  Sometimes inspiration strikes, my fingers itch for the keyboard and off I go, swept up in the magic.  The preceding happens less often than I would like, but it can and does happen from time to time.

I'm about halfway through Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  In the book Gilbert expands on a theory that really struck a chord with me.  She suggests how a myriad of inspiring ideas are floating through the Universe seeking a creative body to bring them to life.  When the right creative body latches onto the idea, the creator than partners with inspiration.  The two make a pact to work together.  This hold true, not just for books, but for anything creative including music, movies, painting and inventions, to name just a few.

However, should the creator renege and fail to bring the idea to fruition, eventually inspiration will simply float away, off to form a new partnership with a different creative body.

I love this theory!  Not only does it explain why other authors tackle a subject I once considered or played with till it fizzled, I no longer have to feel guilty about those books I started but never finished, or those characters who were conceived but never given birth to.  And yes, inspiration can be fickle.  Sometimes more than one person has partnered with inspiration and it becomes a race to see who brings it forth first.  Or best.  Think Beta and VHS.  Apple and Blackberry.  Facebook and MySpace.  Similar inspiration, different results.

For me, it is so great not to feel bad about those pages of scribbles and research that are collecting dust.  I know that inspiration found a better partner for that project.  Or perhaps will come back to me when the timing is optimal.  And for all those books I have finished and published, I know I was the right recipient for that inspiration at that particular time.

I can't wait to see what inspiration comes knocking next and what kind of partnership we form.  Inspiration is everywhere and it never totally abandons us, even when it might feel that way.  As Gilbert writes, it truly is Big Magic.  

Where do you find your inspiration?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Love at First Sight

     Do you believe in love at first sight? I was 15 when I saw Karl for the first time, he was 17. I knew at that moment he would be the boy I would marry some day. Yes, I realize how young we were. We dated, he asked me to marry him nearly a year later.
     We were told it wouldn't work. That was 47 years ago and our love is stronger for all the challenges we faced. Would I recommend getting married that young? No. If I had to do it all over again would I? Yes.
     Our 23 year old granddaughter flew to California to attend a marine dance with a friend who was stationed there. While she was at the dance, she met a young man named Sam. For the next few days they spent ever available minute together. When she flew back to Texas a few days later, she was in love. They called every chance they got. She flew out to spend a few days with him and met his family. When she came home, she wore an engagement ring.
     Everyone told her that they were moving too fast. Take your time, get to know each other.
     The day after Christmas, Sam flew in from California to meet our daughter and son in law. I'm pretty sure they wanted them to take things slower. Sam and Megan had their minds, and their hearts, made up. In a small ceremony with our daughter and son in law present, the justice of the peace married them.
     We had a little more time to get to know Sam, and I have to admit, I see why she fell in love with him.  He reminds me a lot of Karl. We already know why he fell in love with her. She's smart, beautiful and extremely talented.
     I don't guess it matters how old you are when you fall in love. Love sometimes doesn't care if you're 15, 23, or even 80. When cupid draws back his bow and lets his arrow go you'll be powerless to stop it. I wish for Megan and Sam a long and happy marriage. There will be rough patches to come but if they lean on each other, their marriage will only grow stronger.
     If you love happily ever after endings, check out my website If you sign up for my newsletter you'll be taken to a site to claim a free copy of my full length book, Southern Comfort. 
     I'd love to hear about how you fell in love with your sweetie in the comments below.


Best Wishes,

Karen Kelley   

Monday, January 9, 2017

Emerald City - My New Friday Night Date @MaddieJames

No better time than when it's cold outside to snuggle up with a book or watch a movie -- or perhaps cuddle with your favorite snuggle buddy! But this past Friday evening I didn't read, or watch a movie, or...ahem...snuggle. I watched a new television show instead.

Now you might say, "Maddie, what's so interesting about that? We all watch TV."

Yeah, but I don't. Not much anyway. I watch the news. I watch the Food Network. I get into Hallmark Christmas movies during the season. But honestly, there is not much on TV that holds my interest -- until now.

I watched the debut of Emerald City Friday night. I keep thinking about it. I've re-watched the beginning of it on, and will probably watch the whole darned thing again later tonight. I'm anticipating where the writers are going next and how soon can next Friday night get here? I haven't done this in a long, long time with a television show.

Could be because I've always loved Oz and all things Dorothy and the Wizard. I grew up in the era of the original movie, and remember I couldn't stay awake long enough to watch the entire movie for several years. It only came on once a year and man, was it a long year until the next time. When I was finally old enough and could stay awake long enough to see those flying monkeys, I almost wished I hadn't.

I don't like, never will like, those flying monkeys.

But those monkeys have nothing over the levels of darkness we've already experienced, and are only hinted at yet to come, in Emerald City.

Okay, so why am I impressed? The writing, for sure. Original story line? Eh, debatable. Original writing? OMG yes. You get the nuances of the original Baum story carefully crafted into a new and different plot. Hugely different plot. The original elements sneak up on you, run past you, and tease you once you realized they've presented themselves. The show is darker. It's adult. It's alluring. It's probably going to even be gory. But the characters and characterization are rich. There is depth already and we've only scratched the surface of their character.

And there are witches.
Need I say more. I like witches.

I've been plotting out my own witch series over the past few months. It's not a series that I can actually do much writing on right now because of other deadlines, but I jot down ideas, craft a few scenes, and am building this witch world little by little. Yes, I like witches.

The witches of Emerald City, although there are only two left (at this time), are not only potentially wicked, but I believe, will keep us guessing.

Yes, I am hooked into a TV show. I don't think that has happened since... Well, I honestly can't say.

By the way, I found an interesting article on The Wizard of Oz discussing copyright and public domain and learned a few things. If you are interested in that subject, here is the link.

Did you watch Emerald City? What are your thoughts? We've been having an informal discussion on Facebook about the show and I'd love to start one here too!

Maddie James writes romance -- but don't try to pin her down to one genre. She's only trying to silence the voices in her head. Find out more at

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year Resolution & Giveaway @JoanReeves #GemsInAttic

General opinion says that a New Year calls for new attitudes, new ways of doing things, and, hopefully, embracing new opportunities.

That concept is probably the reason we write resolutions--putting into words our hopes of making positive changes in our lives.

I've always written resolutions, sometimes calling them goals. I think it's good to have a plan to help you travel the road of life.This Year Is Different

This year I'm doing things a little different. Over the holidays, I thought a lot about the last few years. Basically, I've had 7 years that were...challenging...difficult. Heck, let's just call them hard enough to crush the human spirit. A time or too I thought mine might be crushed. I'm...weary. That's a good word. Weary seems to indicate a tiredness bordering on burnout.

With that thought in mind, I decided to make resolutions about renewal...about boosting my spirit. That may sound selfish, but I believe if you're not happy and healthy then you are of no use to anyone else.

This is what I came up with.

Viva La Difference

1. Get reacquainted with the hobbies I once enjoyed like painting and fashion sewing.

2. Spend time in my rose garden, soaking up the peace, beauty, and delightful aroma.

3. Relax more instead of pushing myself to fulfill unrealistic expectations.

4. Have more fun because life is short and unpredictable.

5. Spend more time with those I love and say no more often to activities that prevent me from doing that.

6. Workout more often rather than using that time to "get ahead" on the day's tasks.

7. Sit on the bench by the lake every day and enjoy the view.

8. Write more and obsess less about sales that have declined since I couldn't focus on my writing business.

9. Don't sweat the small stuff.

10. Always remember, it's all small stuff.

That's my list. Do you have a plan for your New Year?


Leave a comment with your email address and tell me if you plan any special life path this New Year.

That will enter you in my January Giveaway. If the winner chosen by random draw is in the continental U.S., the prize is a Journal featuring the cover of my latest romance Last Christmas.

Last Christmas is about love at first sight, heartbreak, revenge, redemption, and second chances is available at: Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords.

If the winner is outside the continental U.S., the prize is a free Kindle copy of my latest nonfiction book Friday Is Cake Day, a collection of 52 cake recipes from 3 generations of my family.

If you don't want to wait to see if you won a copy, you can buy it here: Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords.

Winner will be chosen on Feb. 1 and notified by email.

Post Script

Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon,, and iTunes. New print editions will finally be available in 2017.

Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers with tips to help with the writing business, and WordPlay, an email list/newsletter for readers with new book and giveaway alerts. Visit Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Kinder, Gentler @Karen Whiddon

I've gotten a few sweet texts and PM's from people saying really nice things.  Things like how I've helped them in some way and such.  How they appreciate me and are glad I'm in their lives.  Those messages made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Happy.  And I started thinking how maybe people made a New Year's resolution to be kind to others.  To say when you appreciate something, to find something good to say to someone else because you know it will bring them joy.

A kinder, gentler life.  I like that.  Especially in view of all the craziness and turmoil that looks to be coming in the year ahead.  I hope not, oh how I hope not.  I hope there is too much light to let in the darkness.

Having lived half a century plus a few, I no longer bother with New Years Resolutions.  Lose weight - yes, I'd like to, but I don't need a resolution.  I just need to do it.  Ditto for read more, exercise more, etc.  But I did an experiment for a week and tried to find one person to compliment a day.  A stranger's dress, another's hair.  Someone's hilarious comment on Twitter or Facebook.  The reactions made me realize how all too often, we're so busy we lose sight of the rest of humanity.  Such a small effort, but what awesome results.

I also try whenever possible to say Happy Birthday to all of my Facebook Friends.  I have a lot of "friends" whom I don't really know.  Readers, I guess.  Or friends of friends.  A few days ago, one of them sent me a note back saying how much she appreciated me saying Happy Birthday and made the comment "I love how you interact with your fans."  I have to say, this stunned me.  I never thought of it like that.  Still don't.  But again, an offhand comment made me realize how all the simple, small kindnesses can mean to others.

So if I were to make a resolution for 2017, it would be this.  Be more Kind.  More Gentle.  More appreciative.  Just a small flicker of light beating back the darkness.

I'M NO MATCHMAKER by Hannah Rowan

Reality TV overflows with matchmaking shows....The Bachelor, Bachelorette, Patti Stanger and her Millionaire Matchmaker agency. People are getting together based on one kiss from a stranger.  Parents are choosing spouses for their adult children.  Couples are marrying based on matches made by experts, who put together two people who meet for the first time at their weddings.

Online dating sites proliferate, with people finding possible partners after filling out questionairres about their interests and preferences .  Singles may find common interests on Facebook.  And then there are shorter-term connections made on apps like Tinder.

Romance writers take on the task of putting two people together in creative ways.  Maybe it's the boy-next-door, or the cop/soldier/FBI agent who's charged with keeping someone safe, or two people stranded on a desert island or in a blizzard.  The heart of a romance novel depends on showing how two people meet and how even the most unlikely couple discovers that they are meant for each other. 

So wouldn't you think a romance writer, in real life, would be able to zero in on what might make a couple tick and put together two people who are destined for each other?  Or who at least might spend some pleasant time together for a little while?

I've found that real life doesn't imitate art at all.  

On the home front, my daughter was horrified by the idea that the Pakistani man who owns the gas station down the street was embroiled in the process of finding husbands for his five daughters--a task he assured me was quite difficult, especially since the daughters had to approve of the men he chose for them.  She would not have been a candidate for the show Married By Mom and Dad.  In fact, nothing seemed to quash a budding romance for her quicker than Mom or Dad saying "He seems like a nice boy.

Our son, on the other hand, introduced us to many, many girls, but I'm not sure he paid the least bit of attention to whether we thought they'd make a good life-partner for him.

Oddly enough, both children, with no help from their parents whatsoever, found mates who fit them perfectly and seem to make them quite happy.

But in the friend department, every time my husband and I have introduced two people we think would click, the budding relationship generally came to an embarrassingly abrupt halt.  So much so, that whenever I find myself telling my spouse that "your friend would really like my friend" I have to stop myself before I intitiate yet another social disaster.

From now on, I plan to limit my matchmaking efforts to the characters in my stories.

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