Friday, July 28, 2017

Monday Morning Blahs? by Cheryl Bolen

The worst Monday mornings of my life were the six years I taught middle schoolers language arts. I was so unhappy knowing I had to face those pre-pubescent students for the next five days that I cried all the way to work. Every. Single. Monday. The years when I worked as a journalist were much better, and my Mondays were really busy planning and writing the weekly edition. But, still, Mondays were a huge letdown from the weekend.
            After selling to a New York publisher, I quit my day job to write full time (not because my writing income was all that great, btw). And a funny thing happened. Mondays actually became my favorite day of the week! My husband was back to work, the house was quite, and I was hot to get back to my story. I love writing. I love that I have the good fortune to be able to earn money doing what I best love to do. I  know, I wrote for more than two decades for newspapers, but that wasn't the same. Now I was crafting my own stories. I was my own boss.
            I could work in pajamas or yoga pants. I could go to the grocery store if I needed to. I was able to throw clothes in the washing machine while I was working.
            I still think it's the perfect job. Even though my husband has retired.
            Unfortunately, his retirement has thrown my schedule in a hopper. In fact, I no longer have a schedule. In the two-and-a-half years since he's retired we have been to Europe five times. We've been to California three times, New York once, Las Vegas at least five times, and we take short trips nearly every month to gamble in Louisiana. In addition to this, 11 months ago, we bought half interest (with our son) in a beach house on Galveston Island. Needless to say, we're seldom home. I was writing two novels and one novella a year. Not anymore. While I've written several novellas, I have only completed one full-length novel in those two-and-a-half years. (And I finished one novel started earlier.)
            When we are home, I try to write on a schedule. I edit on airplanes and on long car trips. But  the only time I am able to write fresh pages is when we're on a sea day on a cruise. Then I make myself write new pages. Then I reward myself with a trip to the ship's casino at night.
            There's another way my husband's retirement has affected my schedule. There are no more Mondays. Every day is Saturday.

            And sometimes I miss those Mondays.--Cheryl Bolen's newest release is a Regency romance titled Miss Hastings' ExcellentLondon Adventure

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Muscle Memory in a New Life @lcrandallwriter

I worked as a freelance writer and editor for a long time. I loved it.

It was exhilarating to me to live the lifestyle of a freelancer. I got to write. I got to edit and help direct a community spotlight magazine from the planning stage of each issue through to production. I got to interview tons of very interesting people from all walks of life. I did stories on olive oil production and sourced an olive oil producer who lived in Italy. I reported news as it happened to community members who were affected by the goings on of city councils, university administrators, researchers, and so much more. Those projects were things I would work on past quitting time because I enjoyed them and was driven to do the best writing and reporting I could do. When I added fiction writing to my group of endeavors, everything got more intense, just trying to fit more into an already hectic life.

Doing those things I loved kept me supercharged. Even so, when my husband and I prepared to move to another state, I felt relieved that I would be able to focus on my fiction writing. I let go of all my clients and savored the idea that I would be able read for pleasure, hike, and chill on the couch with my family. But what I didn’t know was that my mind and body wouldn’t automatically relax into my new life. The supercharged nervous system and the active mind I’d been living with continued. Like the muscle memory of a golfer’s swing, my body and mind remained tense, ready for reacting to whatever may come up.

It’s true that writers are always working. We’re open to input of any sort, knowing we may find something very useful for our writing. My mind does that naturally, but my work enhanced that capacity until there was little rest.

So now it’s been a little more than a year since I cut back my work, and I’m still on task almost all the time. I’m working on short stories and a new series that I’m enjoying. My head is full of more ideas for writing. I have no plans to quit writing. But I would like to be able to relax thoroughly. I’m not complaining about the great opportunities I’ve had to do the things I love. And true to my passion to express myself in writing, whether on a blog, in a journal, or in a novel, I have new news to report.

That news is it takes time to learn a different, less driven life. This was unexpected. I want to stay productive and let my body and mind know it’s okay to let things be. To take some time to refuel in a new way and naturally float in spaciousness. But it’s going to take awareness and finding a new balance. I think I can do what I love and find peace.

What do you think?

photo credit: © Anankkml

ID 27473460 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Nom de Plume, Book 3 of the Bluegrass Homecoming Series

When the dream of happily-ever-after is shattered, sometimes another door opens.

Sometimes life doesn't turn out like we dream. Then we must take a leap of faith and take a second chance on capturing the dream.

This is what happens to the hero and heroine in Nom de Plume, the third book of my Bluegrass Homecoming series.

RELEASE DATE: July 31, 2017 — Grab your preorder now for 99 cents!

Devoted homemaker and mother C.B Lyons hadn’t known she was living a lie, right up until the moment when she caught her husband cheating. Betrayed and then divorced, with her dreams of a big, happy family smashed to pieces, C.B. takes her toddler son to Heritage Springs, Kentucky, to be near family. Typing manuscripts for a famous romance author seems like the perfect job until she discovers the hidden truth about the reserved, reclusive writer.

Madison Mallory is a best-selling romance author with a secret. “She” is a “he.” The original Madison is actually in a nursing home. Her son, Jamie Madison, is determined she’ll have the best care possible. Even if that means quitting his job and taking up his mother’s pen name to keep the romance—and the money needed for her care—flowing.

Writing about romance is one thing. Making it work in real life is harder for Jamie. C.B. has good reasons to distrust men, especially sexy ones with piercing blue eyes. When C.B.’s ex wants his family back, can the author and his assistant find a way to write their own happily-ever-after ending?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cover reveal @Liz Flaherty

Available for pre-order now, the 2017 stories from Christmas Town, Maine. This is the fourth year for Christmas town, and I think we writers get more invested every year. I hope the readers do, too! Below that you'll find the buy links and  an unedited smidgen from my story, Miracle on Joyful Street. Thank you for coming back to visit us!

Amazon                                     Barnes & Noble                                        Kobo


People called Dallas Blessing “Marian the Librarian” from the time she started going to the Christmas Town Library after school. She’d been in the second semester of kindergarten and the only books she could actually read were the ones on shelves under the window seat. The sign on the wall those books were reserved for “K-3,” but by the time she entered second grade, she’d finished all of them and was reading from the section that was categorized for “4-6.”

Sometimes she had to look up words in the red Merriam-Webster Dictionary that lay open on a table in the adult section. There was a paperback dictionary at home on the same shelf as the phone book and Old Farmer’s Almanac, but she loved the big, hardback edition the library offered. She’d determine the definition for “juxtaposition” and then end up reading the whole page.

Her grandparents, who’d raised her from the time she’d become their foster child at five, and Gloria Bright, the library director, thought she was a prodigy. At least until she failed long division. That was when they had to accept that instead of being gifted, Dallas was just quirky.

“There’s nothing wrong with quirky,” Grandma Grace had insisted as she and Granddad taught Dallas to jump Double Dutch on the sidewalk in front of the house on Reindeer River where Dallas still lived. “Failing just because you never tried, now that’s just wrong.”

The library closed for Thanksgiving weekend—it was the only time of year it didn’t open for four consecutive days. Not that it made much difference in the scheme of things. She always spent the whole weekend clearing paper pilgrims and turkeys off the bulletin boards and replacing all the autumn books and movies on the holiday shelves with Christmas ones. She hung fairy lights everywhere and set up the seating area so Santa’s Saturday morning visits would be cozy. She put up the tree Pat Nolan would have delivered on Wednesday night and set out the ornament-making supplies at the tables in every department. People might not come to the library with the intent of making a stocking or a felt snowman to put on the tree, but they usually ended up doing it anyway. It was one of Dallas’s favorite traditions. Of course, she loved them all. Christmas, and Grandma Grace—widowed these last ten years—were what kept her in Christmas Town, Maine.

It bothered her sometimes, that she really had turned into the stereotypical Marian. Not that she disliked her life, or even being single, although the truth was that as friendly as everyone in Christmas Town was, its residents tended to travel in pairs.

Friends plus the patrons at the library, along with Grandma Grace, were all the family she really needed, but sometimes at the end of the day, when she went to bed in her neat little brick house in its neat setting on the inside of a curve in the Reindeer River, she longed for...clutter.

She laughed at herself, looking around at the toys and books left there after the afternoon’s rousing Dr. Seuss read-a-thon. She always kept the kids extra time on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, because it gave their mothers and caregivers time for last-minute stuff they needed to do in preparation for the next day. 

There was plenty of clutter here, even if the rest of her life was far too neat. She cleaned the toys as she put them away, wondering how librarians had ever managed without pre-moistened wipes. Her hands stilled as the knowledge that the library probably wasn’t going to exist all that much longer sank in. It did that several times a day, and each time was more painful than the last.

Sitting in a rocking chair with the resident doll in her lap, she straightened the toy’s yarn hair and red print dress. Raggedy Ann had been a gift from her father and had lived in the library since the first time Dallas accidentally left her there.
It had all been so long ago.

She shook the melancholy thoughts off. No matter what the new year promised—or threatened—the holidays loomed joyfully in front of her. Holidays were good for quirky people.

With a wry smile at no one, she reflected that quirky didn’t look any better from the vantage point of thirty-three than it had twenty-some years before, and it was a good deal lonelier. “Every time I make a new friend,” she’d told Ellie Griffith, who managed the Fingers and Feet sock shop, “she gets married on me or has a baby and I’m back to washing my hair and clipping my toenails on Saturday nights because once again there’s no one to go to the movies with.”

Ellie had laughed with her and refilled their wine glasses, but she’d already been engaged to Pat Nolan, and there weren’t that many more girls-only Saturday nights.

“Dallas, is that you?”

It was tempting to ask who else would be dressed as a Dr. Seuss character, complete with red-and-white striped stockings, but since the library was still technically open and the voice was somehow familiar, she restrained herself. She got to her feet and went to the desk. “Yes, it is. May I help you?”

The visitor took off his stocking cap and smiled, his teeth bright and straight through his beard. “It’s me. Shea Nolan. Ellie and Pat asked me to come by and pick you up for supper. Ellie said not to take no for an answer.”

The Nolan boys’ parents had passed on some pretty impressive genes. Shea, the oldest, was also the tallest. His black hair and neatly trimmed beard, along with dark brown eyes surrounded by lashes so long they tangled with themselves, made her heart do a hungry and completely un-Marian-like leap.

Not for the first time. The man was the only person in the world able to render her speechless just by smiling at her. And he smiled a lot.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lucky 7 with Connie Vines by @JoanReeves

 Please welcome my guest today bestselling author Connie Vines who wrote under the name Addison Murray for Precious Gems Romance.

Now she writes as Connie Vines.

She has been a member of Romance Writers of America and the Orange County RWA for decades and is the President of the GothRom Chapter of RWA.

Published in romance, historical, young adult, non-fiction, and fantasy, her novels have won the H.O.L.T. Medallion, Orange Rose, and the Award of Excellence.

Her Rodeo Romance Series, novella series and anthologies are available through her publisher, BLW, in print and e-book. Connie lives southern California with her husband and an adorable little dog name Chanel.

Connie Vines and the Lucky 7

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

Coming from a career military family, I knew I didn’t wish to continue the nomadic life-style. I was still undecided about a career. However, I still wrote my ‘stories’ while I was enrolled in business classes. I lived in horse country and loved my horse and my poodle. Animals were and still are important in my life.

2. When you were 40 what did you want to do with your life?

At that point in time I realized I was a writer. I was working in education (publishing in children’s magazines), married with two sons in high school. I was a member of RWA, and involved in my local chapter (Orange Co. Chapter). I was also finalizing my novel for Precious Gems and my YA historical novel.

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

Athena. An ancient Greek name and the name of one of the mythological goddesses, and therefore, a little difficulty to plunk on a character.

(Note from Joan: My daughter's name Adina is a variation on Athena.)

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


I believe this appeals to me because there is a Victorian Regency tone, yet there are advanced devices and the thought process of the hero/heroin is more modern. Dracula, Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes were among my fave reads as a teen and can easily lend themselves to be reborn Steampunk fiction.

I am not ashamed to admit that I really liked “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman” movie (I don’t care that the reviews were negative). It would be challenging, as a writer, to work a story around the ‘limitations’ of the Victorian Time Period to produce a novel with unlikely setting: the wild west, or time travel –in the case of Dr. Who.

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?

I would dine with Elizabeth Cochran Seaman—better known by her pen name Nellie Bly, an American journalist. She was also a writer, industrialist, inventor, and a charity worker who was widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. She was a pioneer in her field, and launched a new kind of investigative journalism.

Where would we dine? I wasn’t able to locate a specific restaurant in 1880’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I did find some recipes that I think would be "cutting edge" dining. Champagne Strawberry Soup, Baked Crab Cakes, and Egg Custard Pie.

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 and why?

For my heroine, Meredith, I would cast Claire Coffee. She played Adalind Schade in the television series GRIMM. I appreciated the way she could play a likeable character after being completely evil the first several seasons. She also exhibited the dry humor and savoir-faire.

Viktor. I caught the movie Dracula Untold on television in 2014. Though the reviews were only average, I thought Luke Evans played the part of a tortured hero with depth and great sex-appeal. A Welsh actor with theater and movie experience.

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

Since Kate Middleton wears her gowns by changing it up a bit, I will do the same without the fear of being labeled too thrifty.

I would wear my black R & M Richards, evening gown. The gown has a retro feel due to the classic floral bead-work down the front and flapper cut of the dress changing to black tulle from knee to ankle.

Shoes. Never skimp on shoes, is my motto. Christian Louboutin or Valentino would be perfect—except for the price and the heels being impossibly high. So, I would select an Inc. International Concepts evening pumps (which look a great deal like the Valentino).

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow

Alive, Steampunk novelist Meredith Misso worked hard at living the perfect SoCal celeb life. Now that she is a Zombie, it’s all about the make-up, non-vegan lifestyle, and her soon-to-be ex, who somehow managed to Velcro himself back into her life.

Novella length: “Quirky, Sassy, and Fun! ~Authors Den Review,

Thanks, Connie, for joining us today.

Readers, the next book in her Sassy & Fun Fantasy series will be available in October!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Seasoned Characters, Second Chances, and Small Towns

Romantic love doesn’t happen just once when we are young. Humans have a great capacity to love many things and people. And sometimes life doesn’t go like we’ve planned in our youthful dreams. When that happens, we deserve a second chance. By that time the second chance comes along, we may be participating in what has started to be called “seasoned romance.”

Did you know there’s a closed group on Facebook with seven hundred readers and writers of “seasoned romance,” defined as “love stories with heroes and heroines in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. Sex and love can get better with age.”

Maybe because I’m “of a certain age” and have had many second chances, I like to write seasoned romance. My Bluegrass Homecoming series are just stories.

Enter grandmother Grace Baron. In the prequel to the series, she meets small town lawyer Howard Scott, who has buried two wives. The novel Secrets is the story of Grace’s daughter Kelly. I wrote Secrets a few years ago when I got the idea to write about a woman approaching her fortieth birthday. I wanted to submit the manuscript to a traditional publisher, but was advised, at the time, this publisher did not like forty-year-old heroines. Since then seasoned romance has become more popular.

For today and tomorrow, Secrets is free at Amazon Kindle. Take advantage of this offer to read a “sweet” romance about seasoned characters, second chances, and small towns.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Of conflict and...not conflict

Nan and Me 
"I need to write a blog," I whined to my friend Nan Reinhardt, "and my mind is blank." 

I couldn't see her, but I know her well enough to know she rolled her eyes. Then she suggested, "Talk about conflict...or lack of it. Is it necessary?"

As a frequent beta reader for me and an in-demand editor, she knows I hate conflict. That I'm not good at it. That I--gasp--don' t think it's necessary for a good story.

Maybe I should back up there. It probably is necessary. Some. For me, whatever conflict I come up with is going to be internal and it's going to be peripheral, not central. The other part of that is that I don't care if it gets resolved or not.

Because few of us go into our happily-ever-afters without any conflicts on the relationship plate. Nor would we want to, because some of those things are integral to the plots of our life stories. My husband is a musician. A large percentage of my unhappiest moments in our marriage have been related to that fact. Yet music is as much a part of him as writing is of me, and the musician is the guy I fell--and stayed--in love with. Along with those unhappy moments have been 46 happy years.

External conflict? It's wonderful from those who do it well, not so wonderful from those who don't (yeah, that would be me.) I'd just as soon have the protagonists in a book I read spend the pages getting to know each other in the way that's going to bring them together and working together toward a common goal. That peripheral conflict that keeps them apart? I'd rather they learned to live with it than got rid of it altogether.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Social Media and Me by @BonnieEdwards

Back when I started writing romance it was bandied about that romance writers were early adopters of new technology. We liked personal computers before the general public did.  We embraced email and bulletin boards years before other casual users. We were always looking for ways to connect with each other mostly, not readers. I recall very early on that publishing houses were appalled to learn that we’d banded together on the internet and shared information. (Egad! The sky was falling.)

Why then do so many of us fail at social media? And when I say “us” I mean “me” specifically.  But maybe others in our merry band of bloggers will admit to a minor hesitation to embrace SM. (See? Acronyms are the new thing – some of them I admit I cannot decipher.)

The other day, I agreed to read and critique a manuscript by a relatively new author. In exchange, she’s coaching me with some new SM sites. Well, new to me, anyway. The rest of the world seems to be all about Instagram and Snapchat and all sorts of apps and applets to help with both. Sigh…

I was a relatively early adopter of Twitter but I lagged behind with Facebook. And yesterday I finally signed onto Instagram. Excited to share another new thing, I tried posting from my PC. No go. Then I went to HootSuite (been using it for years intermittently) and tried from there. Still no go. My SM coach gave me some advice.

Turns out you can’t post to Instagram from a PC. It’s strictly a mobile thing, so phones or other handheld devices are the weapons of choice. I eventually had to email my picture to myself and post from my iPad. Whew! All that just to post what I’d already put up on Twitter and Facebook.

Which brings me to writers keeping in touch these days. I’m involved in several boxed sets with various authors which means trading files, checking in and otherwise staying in touch for deadlines, release dates, and promotion etc.  It is extremely rare that we email each other. We keep in touch through Facebook groups and private messages. And Dropbox.

Just about the only things I get in my email inbox now are ads and a couple of Yahoo loops I barely read. Sometimes family sends along a joke or two.

Dare I say that email is dead? If it’s not, it’s gasping its last.

Back to my photo on Instagram. I’ve just joined a group of some 200 authors who are tired of all the negativity we’re bombarded with. We want to encourage positivity.  Every Monday, we’ll be posting inspirational quotes, pictures, memes or whatever on all sorts of SM sites. 

I think it appropriate to share this week’s theme: Finding Joy in Simple Things. This is my first Instagram post and my first shot at sharing some positivity. The group is called #upbeatauthors and you can find us just about everywhere!

And yes, I walk every day in the woods. I need to just to keep my SM stuff straight in my head. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Write what you know they say

Novel writers are told to “write what you know.” I suppose that’s why I write books set in Kentucky and enjoyed my vacation last summer to Montana where I visited the setting of my Montana McKenna series.

Yet, I don’t need to always stick with what I know. I’ve also gone back in time to write a book set in 1283 England and 1890 Louisville.

In the same respect, a few of my heroines are characters with occupations or lifestyles that I have known: single mom, teacher, stay at home mom, and grandmother.

But most of my heroines have lives I’d love to know. Take a look.

  • Pet psychic
  • Owner of a thoroughbred horse farm
  • Movie star
  • Country music singer
  • Daughter of a millionaire
  • Thoroughbred exercise rider
  • Bookstore owner
  • Veterinarian (my money went to Auburn so my daughter could become one)
  • A rancher’s wife and dude ranch owner
  • A rancher’s daughter
  • Clerk in a fly-fishing store
  • Saddlebred horse trainer
  • A medieval lady 

What about you? Would you like to suspend disbelief and become one of these heroines? What other fantasies would you like to explore?

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