Friday, April 27, 2018

What I Did to Alleviate My Aching Back

My office --- with the ugly black chair that saved my back

© Cheryl Bolen
After three years in my custom-made desk chair for which I paid $700, I was in agony. I'd had the chair semi custom made. The manufacturer offered options of all types of wood, including one painted ivory--which I chose to go with the cottage-style decor of my office, a sun porch. I was given the option of furnishing my own fabric, which I did. I chose a rosy color with piping made of a pale plaid that picked up my cottage colors. It was all very feminine.

I'm an empty nester who spends 12 hours a day writing--and emailing and surfing the net. (Please note, that to compensate somewhat for this, I start every morning at the gym or with a long walk.) When my beautiful chair was just three years old, I got to where I could not sit down. Seriously. My back was in agony.

I told my husband the sight of my desk chair made me sick.

So I went to the archives of the email loop for the now-defunct PASIC (RWA's Published Authors Special Interest Chapter). I knew they had previously discussed the best office chairs for those of us who make a living writing with butt in the chair eight plus hours a day.

The consensus seemed to be an ergonomic Aeron chair manufactured by Herman Miller. So I investigated them on the internet. Everything I read was positive. Except the price. With the lumbar feature, it was $719. Hmmm. Barely three years previously that's what I'd paid for my pretty office chair with made-to-order wood finish.

Of course, I could no longer sit in it.

I kept going back on line at looking at the ergonomic chair. It looked kind of like a giant black spider. Not pretty. Hmmm.

By then I was writing in the recliner with my laptop because my back hurt too bad to sit at my desk. I really don't like writing on a laptop.

I told my husband I was going to order  the Herman Miller Aeron chair online. He did not like the idea because he was worried about returns, especially if my back still hurt once I had the new chair. I told him the company I was buying from offered a full refund for up to 365 days – and if you saved original packaging, they would pay shipping, too.

Then I pulled out my trump card. That month was the most spectacular month I'd ever had as far as earnings. In fact, I made more that month than I'd ever made in an entire year before. And I sold my first book in 1997!
What could the man say?

I waited impatiently. It was more than three weeks before my ugly chair was delivered. The minute I sat in it, I knew I was going to be all right.

It's been six years now, and I have to say that was the best $719 I ever spent.

I've learned a valuable lesson. Aesthetics are not all important. When you earn your living writing at a desk, you have to take care of your body. Take frequent breaks. Get up. Most of all, don't be fooled by a pretty chair. – Cheryl Bolen is the author of three dozen Regency-set historicals. Her last full-length book was Miss Hastings' Excellent London Adventure.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

It's Hard to Let Go by @lcrandallwriter

I love writing, no matter what I'm writing. I've done my fair share of reporting on school board meetings, lost turtles, the latest in nanotechnology, community arts, and why a candidate wants to be mayor. But writing fiction is my soft spot. I feel so connected to things like flow, creativity, and heart while writing, so it boosts my spirit, even when the writing is challenging.

I also fall in love with my characters, and don't want to let them go.  My Fierce Hearts five-book series is an example of me not letting go. I think fondly of my characters and I've written two short stories spin-offs regarding the colony of were-lynx featured in the series. Today I'm thinking of Asia Blue, the adult child of an alcoholic mother, and Conrad Pike, a rich son of wealthy parents, and a were-lynx with an empty life. These are the heroine and hero of Heartfelt, Book 3 in my Fierce Hearts series.

Here's the blurb:

The daughter of an alcoholic single mother, Asia Blue learned young that if she wanted to survive, she'd have to take care of herself. Tough and independent, she never encountered a challenge she couldn't conquer...until Asia discovered she was a were-lynx. Befriending sexy fellow were-lynx Conrad Pike and finding a colony helped her adjust to the startling revelation and get through college.

Now an investigative reporter, Asia faces an entirely different sort of problem when her mother goes missing and she suspects the mysterious Nexus Group...who seem determined to wipe out her colony. She reaches out to Conrad, now an investment banker and serial heartbreaker, for assistance, and they must once again join forces to save their colony--and her mother.

Will this strong-minded duo risk opening up their hearts and owning up to their long-simmering attraction?

Find Heartfelt on Amazon and other retailers. I hope you feel the characters' pain, their passion, and their triumph.

Do you have any characters you wish authors would return to?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Author Confessions: Reviews by @JoanReeves #GemsInAttic

Let's Talk About *shudder* Reviews

You may think this post is where an author mentions her best book review ever--or maybe her worst. Both of those guesses are incorrect.

Instead, let's be honest and tell readers how we really feel when we get a nasty review.

This post about what an author would like to say to the reviewer who left a review or a comment that was, well, mean.

We've all seen the movie Mean Girls. Do you think those mean girls grow up to be snarky reviewers? *LOL*

Bare Your Authorial Soul

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. We've all been told that, probably by our parents when we experienced our first "word injury," but the truth is that words do hurt.

Leo Rosten said: "Words sing. They hurt. They teach. They sanctify. They were man's first, immeasurable feat of magic. They liberated us from ignorance and our barbarous past."

Wow. Words do all that! You notice that in that quotation, the second power Mr. Rosten attributes to words is that they hurt. Sometimes, when I read reviews--not just my own so I'm not whining--I'm a little shocked at how some people get off on leaving hurtful comments. I guess they rejoice in exercising the power of anonymity that the internet grants.

The authors who participated in this do not name the book that bears the puzzling/hurtful/unearned review. The covers shown are some of their other books for your consideration.

Joan Reeves

I'll be brave and kick this Author Confessions off instead of going last as I usually do. I have to be honest. The review really didn't hurt my feelings. I guess I've reached the point in life where stuff like that doesn't bother me, but it does puzzle me.

As an author, I always look at reviews from the standpoint of: Will this review make a browsing reader into a buying reader?

Joan's Latest Book
The title of the review wouldn't compel me to buy the book. I probably wouldn't even read the review. I'd just move on to another book.

I had a glowing review on a romantic comedy described as a romp. The reader wrote about how funny it was, how the characters were delightful then gave the review this title: About as deep as a puddle.

Huh? That's like saying, "Oh, what a pretty little girl." Then slapping the child.

To the reviewer, I'd say: "I don't understand why you read a romantic comedy and expected it to be--what? Dramatic and deeply profound rather than the lighthearted, fun, and entertaining break from reality that it seemed to be for you?"

Lynn Crandall

Lynn is the author of Dancing with Detective Danger.

Both broken, can these former lovers trust love again?

My Puzzling Review

Overall, I enjoyed this book. There were a couple of plot points that didn't work for me, but as a whole the book is written in an easy-to-read style. I was particularly intrigued with the story about Sterling's sister and her dead husband's ghost. I liked the romantic side of that, but my more practical side kept arguing the point that it's not a healthy way for her to live. It did add an interesting element to the story though and the overall theme about love.

Sometimes reviewers make me wonder if they read the book. Sometimes I want to ask them why they read the book. Maybe the blurb was good or maybe they didn't actually read the book.

To this reviewer I would say, I'm glad overall you enjoyed the book. But do you understand that most people have dysfunctional beliefs and defensive patterns they have to work through? Do you understand I portrayed loss in an imaginative way because the book is fiction?

This book received another review that was so critical and harsh it really perplexed me how the reviewer managed to read the whole book.

I'd done my research with experts, so I could have gotten quite defensive and all finger-pointy. But I still loved the characters and their story, so I just shrugged and said, Oh well.

Nancy Fraser

I love the April topic!

Nancy is the author of Eye of the Pharaoh.

Will an unexpected trip to 1920's Egypt be their downfall or, will an ancient guardian keep them safe?

What would you say to a reviewer who left a puzzling or hurtful review?

Hmm ... that’s a tough question. I was raised with the old adage, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” so I’d likely say nothing.

I’ve learned you can’t please everyone all the time.

I’ve also seen far too many authors respond to snarky reviews and, unfortunately, hurt their career in the process.

If the reviewer’s comments were truly puzzling, I might privately ask for clarification ... and I stress “privately.” As for hurtful, I’d pull up my big-girl panties, pour myself a Bailey’s over ice, and do my best to ignore it.

Bonnie Edwards

Bonnie is the author of Finding Mercy

Bonnie Edwards, Earthy, Irreverent . . . Lovestruck

My Experience With Reviews

Sometimes puzzling reviews do more to sell books! Like: "This book is full of sex." (thanks for mentioning this on my erotic romance title) And "This book is long..." (thank you for saying it's not too short!) So I guess I find the silver lining in most less-than-stellar reviews. At least, I try to.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter: and Facebook: and About Me:

Liz Flaherty

Liz is the author of The Happiness Pact.

Best friends since they were born on the same day Tucker and Libby form a pact: she’ll play matchmaker to help him find the woman of his dreams and he’ll lead her on the adventure she desperately needs. 

I don’t read too many reviews anymore—unless someone messages or emails me and says, “Did you see—” in different tones of aghast, and then I go look. But this one was on my second book.

It was two stars, and the reviewer said, “I didn't really enjoy this book. It seemed rather childish. I don't get the five-star rating others gave it but if you like really dumb stories - go for it!”

Ouch. Oh, ouch, that “dumb stories” thing hurt. Years later, it still hurts. And I guess what I’d say to her is, “I’m sorry you wasted so much time not only reading the book but coming up with something scathing within the constraints of your vocabulary to say about it. I’ll bet it took you weeks.”

So, maybe she was right about the childish part. 😊

Kathleen Lawless

Kathleen is the author of Callie's Honor.

Callie was glad her husband was dead. Except now she has a new man to deal with. 

Puzzling Review

“Lawless develops well-drawn characters and amusing dialogue in a story that sizzles with constant sensuality and passion. A satisfying resolutions completes this superior sexual novel.”

And then I get 3 out of 5 stars which drags down my average. I really wonder what this reviewer is looking for. Or is 3 the new 5?

Bottom Line

Authors really try to learn from reviews. I've seen a lot of glowing reviews lately that have 3 stars. Is Kathleen correct? Is a 3 the new 5 when it comes to reviews? What do you think, Readers?

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. All of her books have the same underlying theme: It's never too late to live happily ever after. She lives her HEA with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State.

Visit Joan online: Blog * Amazon * BookBub * Facebook * Twitter. Want a free ebook of one of Joan's popular romance novels? Just click here to sign up for Joan's mailing list.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

About revisions... @Liz Flaherty

I wrote this about four years ago, but since I haven't changed my mind the least little bit, I'm re-using it. If you've read it before, thanks for your patience!

Oh, my gosh, I love revisions.
Last week and the week before, when I talked to my editor—a couple of times; he had a lot of things to tell me—I kept saying Really? in a squealy, whiney, don’t wanna do it voice. I know I did. Not that I’m proud of that particular voice, but since I’ve been hauling it around my whole life, I may as well own it. And I said, at the ends of these conversations, “Okay, I can do this. Thanks for the help.” And then I hung up and looked at my laptop and said Really? in a squealy, whiney, thankfully silent voice.         
          Then I went to work. And I have had, it must be said, some of those stone days John Denver sang about. I have stared at the screen of my laptop until dust motes danced merrily before my eyes before settling into the bunnies under the desk. I have chewed my thumbnail down to an uncomfortable nub. I have done laundry before I had a load, washed dishes by hand, and cooked meals when there were leftovers to be had. I have thought, I can’t do this. I may as well call and renege. Because I...just...can’t.
          I also had some days that were diamonds. I had lunch with friends, dinner with
friends, saw some of my kids, went places with my husband, sewed on my youngest grandchild’s quilt, and laughed every day. More than once. And I wrote some, revised some, thought Maybe this will work. Didn’t call and renege or even want to.
          And then there was this morning. It is Sunday, when I never work on the manuscript, when I look at Facebook and email and maybe work on a weekly column or a bog post and then go to church.
          Except today I didn’t go to church, because all of wonderful sudden, it worked. No maybe about it. Nope, it really worked. This does not mean my editor will be as thrilled as I am. He may say No or Try again or What were you thinking? I can’t control that. But for now, it is fist-pumping time, because of course I can do it—I just did!
          I love revisions.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Carriages for history buffs by @BonnieEdwards #GemsinAttic

In January I visited the Coach Museum in Lisbon, Portugal and took some photos of amazing coaches, carriages, sedan chairs, and more. If you read this blog regularly you'll recall my gushing fangirl blog in January about my year with Elizabeth Hoyt.

Hoyt regularly takes her characters out in carriages, sedans, and phaetons. I was overjoyed to find these beautiful specimens on display. 

Royal Carriages were often wedding gifts from a bride's family.
I don't write historical romance, so I wasn't doing actual research, just gawking in awe, so I didn't take notes of the years these were built. But at least one of the carriages in the museum was from the 1500s.

It was interesting to this car buff to note the sizes of the wheels and how the suspension changed to leaf springs from leather straps. All very cool to this untrained eye. 

Some traveling coaches even had beds that folded out from under the seats. Another photo I have shows a small round table inside the coach, presumably for playing cards or eating a meal.

A Phaeton.
The Phaeton seems like an early version of a sexy, little sports car meant to attract women, as much as anything. This one looked maneuverable, lightweight and more easily handled than something as heavy as a duke's carriage. Note the small rear seat for a chaperone or maid or footman. Also the driver's seat was raised, presumably so the driver had a good view of the road. 

On this golden Royal carriage, the rear wheels are huge and the front quite small. The small front wheels helped with turning this land barge. (really...what else can you call it - it's massive)
The weight of the statuary would require a team of eight,.
Coachman, in my mind, had to be highly skilled and rather well-paid to keep these monstrous vehicles on the road. 

All the carriages had the coats of arms painted on the doors.

 Ornamentation came from paint rather than plaster figures.

Sedan chairs, built for one passenger, also announced the wealth and standing of their owners with gold and gilt. Sedan chairs had to be light enough to be carried by footmen.

See the plainer chair in the background.

Multi-published author Bonnie Edwards lives with her husband and pets on the rainy coast of British Columbia. Her earthy, irreverent, love stories sometimes have a paranormal twist, like curses and ghosts, other times not. But her books always entertain and guarantee a happy ending.
With four ongoing romance series (Tales of Perdition, The Brantons, and The Christmas Collection) and contemporary family novels in her newest series, Return to Welcome, she rarely spends a day without writing. She has written novels, novellas and short stories for Kensington Books, Harlequin Books, Carina Press, and Robinson (UK) although now she publishes her work herself. Look for more exciting releases throughout 2018…
For more info and sample chapters:
Sign up for her newsletter:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Audio Books in the House!

So, how does one spend a rainy Saturday morning when the urge to write hasn't begun tapping you on the shoulder?

You pour yourself a hot cup of coffee (or tea, if that's you preference), and mull through a handful of auditions from voice actors who've applied to narrate your latest book.

One of my publishers, The Wild Rose Press, has recently entered the world of audio books. All authors were given the opportunity to submit their current book, or books from their back list, for consideration as an audio book. So far, over two dozen author have taken advantage of this new venue, myself included.

Because I'm already published in audio through Decadent Publishing, I knew exactly what to expect in the first phases. I put five of my Wild Rose titles up for audition and, much to my delight, got multiple auditions on all of them. And, even more exciting, the auditions came rolling in all at once. So, there I was, curled up in my reading chair, coffee firmly in hand, and my laptop next to me ... just listening ... one after the other after the other.

My conclusions:

  • It's really weird to listen to a perfect stranger interpreting the words you've written.
  • Nobody knows the characters the way you do and, nine times out of ten, they don't sound anything like you imagined.
  • Male narrators are preferable when the majority (or all) of the book is in the hero's point-of-view. They're also more adept at narrating romantic suspense. The danger to the hero and heroine sounds more ominous with the help of a deeper voice.
  • You receive more auditions on novellas than full-length novels.
  • This was a great way to spend a gloomy morning!
If you'd like to know exactly what an audition sounds like, you can listen to a sampler of Do You Want Me, one of my Decadent Publishing titles, by clicking on the link.

And, though I can't share the audition files on the new books, I can give you a hint of what's coming next. I've chosen a wonderful gentleman narrator for Time and Again, my futuristic/time travel/romantic suspense from The Wild Rose Press.

On the lighter, sexier side, I've also chosen a male narrator for my erotic romance novella, Kilty Pleasures.

My vintage (1960's) sweet romance novellas, BewitchedOnly Yours, and Paging Dr. Cupid will all be narrated by women.

As both authors and readers we owe it to ourselves to expand our experiences. Personally, nothing beats the feel of a book in my hand. However, I also know that audio books (especially short novellas) are a great way to pass a long drive or workplace commute.

I'd love to hear reader/author opinions on audio books? Do you listen? And, if so, when?

Until next month, happy reading, writing and...hopefully...listening!


Friday, April 13, 2018

Once we didn’t have ebooks: a little history by Jan Scarbrough

In June of 1998, I appeared in a feature called “Books of the Future” in Today’s Woman, a magazine distributed free to metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky, and southern Indiana. My book Tangled Memories had been a finalist in the 1994 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest, but I’d never sold it to a traditional publisher. Back in the day, that is all you could do with your manuscript.

Enter epublishing. I signed a contract with a small press to publish Tangled Memories. (A quick Google search finds the small press no longer has a website.) Of course, I made no money or sold any books. The technology was primitive, to say the least. Here’s how the Today’s Woman article described ebooks at the time:

You will be able to download the book with Adobe Acrobat Reader (free from and print it on your printer or read it on your computer. You also have the option of receiving a CD version via snail mail (for $5 versus $4 for downloading), but you still have to load it into your computer to read or print.”

ARGH! The dark ages!

Here was my take on ebooks from the article (notice we called them ‘e-books’ then):

“E-books aren’t for everyone,” said Scarbrough. “However, some readers are tired of the same topics and are looking for a change. E-publishers are in a position to provide the change because they aren’t restricted to what a market department dictates. Also, e-book readers are being developed, and I bet our children or grandchildren will be using them in school someday. However, I won’t buy one until they come down to about $50!”

Fast forward to 1998, and four important events happened: 1) the first dedicated eBook readers were launched: Rocket Ebook and Softbook; 2) the first ISBN issued to an eBook was obtained; 3) US Libraries began providing free eBooks to the public through their web sites and associated services; and 4) Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

BTW, a Rocket eBook cost $499 at the time.

I got my rights back and signed a contract with another small press that published Tangled Memories as a paperback.

But the publishing world kept changing. Here’s what “The History of eBooks” said happened nine years later:

2007 changed the world of reading forever with Amazon’s launch of the Kindle eBook reader in the U.S. and the launch of the iPhone by Apple. In 2009, Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook, and Sony linked with libraries via the Overdrive digital network to enable library patrons to borrow eBooks from their local library.

Soon after that, self-publishing became viable, and the book publishing scene was changed forever.

Today I self-publish Tangled Memories. It is available as a paperback from Amazon. This link will take you to a page listing twelve digital stores where you can purchase a copy of the book.

What about you? Do you read ebooks or do you still like your paperbacks?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Colorful Characters @kathleenlawless

Colors are infinitely interesting.  Most of us have one or more favorite colors; colors that we respond to and colors that we like not so much.  Colors can not only evoke a mood or a memory, advertisers would kill to know your favorite color.  Publishers aim for the popular color choices when designing a book cover.  I suggest you not let Facebook know your favorite color!
Recently my boss put us through a color test, the theory being that by knowing our true color he can get the most productivity from us.  I won’t say he succeeds at this, because I don’t believe it’s in his personal color make-up  (no empathy) to do so.  But as a group we were reduced to 4 colors.

Thus, fresh from my day at the office, I decided to color code my characters. 

Blue’s strength is authenticity.  Blues are emphatic, adept at motivating and interacting with others.  They are romantic, affectionate and supportive.  (as a romance novelist, I am a true blue)  We hug a lot.  I love cards.

Orange’s strength is skillfulness.  They are adventure-seeking, spontaneous, competitive.  They love tools and they learn by doing.  Stunt drivers would definitely be orange.  They never buy cards

Gold’s strength is duty.  They are loyal, serious and practical.  They juggle details, work hard, and respect authority.  Golds make great soldiers and police officers.

Green’s strengths is knowledge.  Greens are analytical, conceptual, independent.  Their head rules their heart.  They are uneasy when their emotions try to take over.  Your accountant is most likely green.

Of course everyone has splashes of each color in their make-up, but one color dominates.  And think of the possible conflicts.  An Orange, always on the search for adventure and taking risks, matched with a Gold who respects the rules and is sensible and practical. 

A Green who believes that feelings once stated, are obvious, conflicting with a Blue who thrives on small gestures of love and appreciation.    The possibilities are endless!

Then I had further fun with some archetypes. Warrior-Orange.  Librarian – Gold.  Conflict!
Freespirit – Orange.  Schoolteacher – Blue.  Conflict!   You get the idea.

I believe the more tools a writer uses to develop a character, the more multi-layered and authentic that character becomes.  It may not make it into the book but my characters all have a birthday and a horoscope, a name that matches their personality in numerology, an archetype, and now a color.  By using all these pieces to weave together a whole, I try to create a character that strikes a chord with my reader.  A character they can relate to and care about.    

For more on your color personality check out the booklet called True Colors, Keys To Personal Success, with the simple test to determine your color.   Perhaps it will even help you deal with that difficult coworker or cantankerous relative.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Don't Think Too Much by @lcrandallwriter

My brain is a perpetual swirling thoughts-storm.


The moment I wake up in the morning my brain starts spitting out tasks I need to do attend to: Shower, check email, make coffee. Then comes the picking apart. Do I know what happens next in my WIP? Have I given the characters enough depth? No, I haven't. Oh my, what now? Can I figure it out? Maybe I should take a day off, or maybe I should do nothing today but work on the book.

Whew! I get worn out before getting out of bed. All of that brain activity could freeze me at my computer with crickets for story ideas. I employ various counter-active methods. Pictures of fierce Wonder Woman on a wall in my writing space remind me to be strong. Sayings and quotes also posted around me remind me that the first draft is supposed to be crap; following my passion will give me pleasure; and that no one said writing is easy.

Some of my heroines and heroes display the overthinking process when overwhelmed. Here's an example from my book, Nutcracker Sweet.

“Hi Noël.”
A man stepped out of a small grouping of trees and stood in her path. Her heart jumped into her throat.
“Who is there?” The man knew her, apparently, but she couldn’t see his face. His face hid in the darkness of a hood. She slowed her steps.
“It’s Simon, Simon Conner.” He remained in the middle of the sidewalk. “I saw you walking. I hope I didn’t scare you.”
“Oh, Simon. Hi.” Closer now, she could make out his face, and the tension in her body eased. “I guess I didn’t recognize you outside of my office.” She chuckled. A quaver in her voice might have conveyed fear, but maybe he didn’t notice.
“I recognized you.”
His words were simple, succinct. Why did they make her shiver? She stopped beside him and peered up into his face. “You haven’t been to see me lately. How are you doing?”
“Do you mean am I drinking, using, or harassing my wife? I don’t see any point to meeting with you if you can’t help me find a job. Without a job, I can’t pay child support. No child support, no seeing my son.” He took a pull on his cigarette and let it out slowly.
“No, I’m not referring to those things. I’m interested in how you are. But if you want to talk, call my office and I’ll be happy to listen. Do you still have the phone number?” Noël patted her pockets, fully knowing she wouldn’t find any business cards. She stomped her feet in the light blanket of snow. “Boy, it’s getting colder out here. Call my office, please, Simon. Have a good evening.”
“I’ll see you around.” He dropped his cigarette and smashed it under his foot.
She saw the cigarette smolder in the snow because she hadn’t turned her back on him. Start walking, Noël. Calm your imagination. He’s not going to drag you off into the bushes. She pivoted, slamming her feet down one step at a time. Her steps echoed around but they were the only ones she heard. She would not look over her shoulder, not until she reached the downtown.
“Mind if I walk with you?” Simon strode up to her side, keeping pace.
Her stomach knotted. “Oh, no, of course not. You’re going into town?”
“Guess so.” He shrugged and grinned.
A crazy-dance of thoughts swirled in her head. He had punched his wife’s face purple. He had demanded Noël negotiate visitation for him. Stop it, just stop. Her clients were not her enemies. But the alcohol wafting off Simon and his closeness triggered weakness and helplessness in her. Instinct clamored, get away, get help!

Right now my best advice for myself and perhaps for anyone is Don't Think Too Much. Stop right there. Admit it, you're thinking about it. Okay, that's normal. Just don't spend too much time on it.

Really, it's good advice. Thinking too much can stall any project. Stalled projects can became haunting reminders of failure. No more pleasure in writing. Little progress. Just stop thinking and assume without dissection that you have what it takes to bring the story, the painting, the song, the dinner, to life in your own uniquely spectacular way.

Dr. Rick Hanson discusses overthinking in an article for Psychology Today.

When your thought processes are tired, it doesn’t feel good. You’re not relaxed, and probably stressed, which will gradually wear down your body and mood. You’re more likely to make a mistake or a bad decision: studies show that experts have less brain activity than novices when performing tasks; their thoughts are not darting about in unproductive directions. When the mind is ruminating away like the proverbial hamster on a treadmill, the emotional content is usually negative – hassles, threats, issues, problems, and conflicts – and that’s not good for you. Nor is it good for others for you to be preoccupied, tense, or simply fried.

A busy, creative mind can produce wonderful things.
Just don't think about it too much. 

Image credits © Publicdomainphotos
ID 106388611 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
ID 109908921 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gems' Publishing Schedule

Jo Ann Ferguson shares this with us every month and I'm not quite sure why we haven't posted it here before, but if you want to keep up with the Gems In the Attic, here's what we've been doing!

February 2018
* Gerry Bartlett REAL VAMPIRES: WHEN GLORY MET JERRY (Real Vampires #13) Dragon Lady Publishing

March 2018
* Becky Barker UNDERCOVER LOVE Indie

May 2018
Jo Ann Brown A READY-MADE AMISH FAMILY (Amish Hearts #5 re-release 2-in-1 with AMISH REFUGE) Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown AMISH HOMECOMING (Amish Hearts #1 re-release) Harlequin Love Inspired

June 2018
Jo Ann Brown THE AMISH SUITOR (Amish Spinster Club #1) Harlequin Love Inspired 

August 2018
Liz Flaherty NICE TO COME HOME TO Harlequin Heartwarming 

October 2018
Jo Ann Brown THE AMISH CHRISTMAS COWBOY (Amish Spinster Club #2) Harlequin Love Inspired
Liz Flaherty “The Dark Horse” in CHRISTMAS TOWN Anthology TBA

November 2018
* Gerry Bartlett TEXAS LIGHTNING (Lone Star Suspense #1) Kensington Lyrical Liaison
Jo Ann Brown AN AMISH PROPOSAL (Amish Hearts #6 re-release 2-in-1 with AMISH CHRISTMAS JOY) Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown AMISH CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS (re-release 2-in-1 with HER AMISH CHRISTMAS SWEETHEART) Harlequin Love Inspired
* Jo Ann Brown A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS (Sanctuary Bay #2 re-release in large print) Harlequin Love Inspired Historical

January 2019
* Jo Ann Brown AN AMISH ARRANGEMENT (Amish Hearts #7 re-release 2-in-1 with AN AMISH NOEL) Harlequin Love Inspired

February 2019
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA  (Hearts of Amish Country #15) Annie’s Fiction

* Gerry Bartlett TEXAS TROUBLE (Lone Star Suspense #2) Kensington, Lyrical Liaison
* Gerry Bartlett TEXAS TOUGH (Lone Star Suspense #3) Kensington Lyrical Liaison
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA (Amish Spinster Club #3) Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA (Amish Spinster Club #4) Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA Harlequin Love Inspired
Karen Kelley WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS (The Good Girls #3) Sourcebooks Casablanca

Friday, April 6, 2018

Audiobook Popularity Surging by @JoanReeves #GemsInAttic

Joan Reeves Audible Author Page
Audio books. Is it one word as in audiobooks? Or is it two words, i.e. audio books. Either is used in today's world so I'll do the same here.

Recently, I read a statistic that said the audiobook market grew more than 20% over the previous year. That's a lot.

A few years ago, I interviewed a librarian who purchases for a large library system. He provided stats for ebook and audiobook purchases by libraries. It was staggering at that time.

Authors and Audio Rights

Sometimes, I interview authors and one of the questions I ask is: Do you listen to audio books, and do you have any of your books in audio? I've always been surprised that nearly all of the authors do not listen to audio books nor do they have their books in audio. If you're an author, you're missing a golden opportunity.

As an Audible author, let me just say that ACX/Audible has always been very helpful and supportive in my audiobook endeavors. Recently, Audible set up author pages for those of us who produce through ACX. Here's my Audible Author Page.

Audiobook Popularity Growing

Audiobook popularity keeps growing because readers don't have enough time to read! After all, book no longer means a printed copy. With an audiobook, you can get your work-out in and "read" a book you've been dying to dive into.

You can commute to work and enjoy a novel. Take a trip and listen to the latest hot romance or mind-boggling science fiction.

I put my ebooks into audio with ACX as soon as I could get them up and produced. The first year they were out, they each hit the bestseller lists on audio and garnered me more in royalties than my ebook sales.


I've always listened to audio books. Had them on cassettes, then CD, then iPod, now my cell phone. (I buy through Audible so I can listen any number of ways.) I was absolutely thrilled to have audio editions of my books produced. I worked with actors who were amazing. Most of them aren't just voice actors. They're on Broadway, off-Broadway, television, video games, and movies.

Felicia Greenfield the narrator of Just One Look, may be better known for her roles in House of Cards, Homeland, or her other TV and movie roles. I was very lucky to land her as a narrator. She brought my romantic comedy to life! She is amazing.

Holly Adams voiced The Trouble With Love, Old Enough To Know Better, and Scents and Sensuality. Holly is multi-talented and works in movies, TV, Broadway, and video games. She's simply incredible and even went to Afghanistan to bring theater art to children there.

Award-winner Christine Padovan who narrated Romeo and Judy Anne is another multi-talented actor.

The talented Nicole Colburn brought Nobody's Cinderella to life with all of its sparkling repartee.

Robin Kohn Glazer, who narrated my romantic comedy Still The One, was the voice of Lucy in the 1970's Peanuts animation film.

Leah Frederick turned in an incredible performance for Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones.

Audio Today

I'm in the process of updating the covers of my existing audio books. I've tweaked the ebook covers through the year and changed a couple of them so now I need to do it for the audio covers too.

Stay Up To Date With The Latest Books
I plan to list my newer books on ACX this year. It takes a bit of time to get a listing up.

You must create an audition script, write marketing copy for your book and yourself, audition narrators who are interested, and a bunch of other details.

When the recording is finished, I listen to every chapter, comparing it to the actual manuscript to make sure there are no "voice typos" or mispronounced words like the name of a Texas town.

If "real life" will just be calm for a few more months, I can cross this task off my to-do list!

Audible Offer

If you're not currently a member of Audible, click here for an Audible Membership Free Trial.

Click for more information about Audible Membership Benefits.

I hope you'll try one of my audio books that's already been produced. Just visit my Audible Author Page to see a list and click to listen to a Sample before you buy. Enjoy!

Joan Reeves lives her Happily Ever After with her Hero, her husband, in a book-cluttered home in Texas. Visit her Amazon Author Page for a list of her books. While you're there, click to Follow her.

To receive a free ebook (download link sent to your inbox) and be the first to know about new books and giveaways, sign up for Joan's  mailing list.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

MEN NEED US--I THINK by Hannah Rowan

My husband and I like to go out to listen to bands, most often a Doo Wop band that we like.  From time to time he’ll mention how romantic a particular song is.  When I actually listen to the lyrics, mostly written by men, I can’t help but notice a common thread.

First, they are madly, crazily in love with a woman.  She has beautiful eyes.  She makes him happy.  He can’t live without her.

And then, apparently, she takes off with another man.  He wants her back.  He must have her back.  Life as he knows it is over.  He’ll never be happy again.

She done him wrong—so why does he want her back?  I find this baffling.

At other times he’s the one who’s done something bad.  Something so bad she walks out the door.  But please, please, he begs…come back!  He made a mistake.  He won’t do it again.  He’s in misery.

Please understand that I’m looking at this from the perspective of a woman of a certain age.  I have no idea what goes on in today’s romantic relationships.  But this whole idea arouses my suspicions.

I work with elderly people, and often I’ll mention something to one of the men, and he’ll say “I don’t know.  My wife always took care of that.”

Surely these men aren’t bemoaning the loss of their true love because—who will do the laundry and make dinner?  That can’t be right.

In our books we often have the commitment-phobic alpha male who must be tamed and coaxed into sticking around, and yes, I know romance novels are fantasies, but lately I’ve been wondering if this is an accurate representation of the male mind or if they’ve got us all fooled.

Monday, April 2, 2018

So, What Are You Working On Now? By Connie Vines

This question was poised to me during a reader/author mixer at a local public library several weeks ago.

I know blinked several times (my expression revealing that scanning-through-my-brain-for-a-coherent-response-look) before I formulated by reply.

“Did the reader mean, today?  What I should be working on? Was it acceptable to read from my work-in-progress list on my iPhone? Probably not.  Was she interested in my current focus on promoting my YA historical novel?”

I smiled and spoke about my Westerns and Fantasy Series for my publisher BWL Publishing, Inc. 
Since my current novel, “Tanayia—Whisper upon the Water” is about a heroine who is Nde (Apache), and “Tanayia—Un Murmullo Sobre el Agua” (the Spanish version).

 Questions were asked about Native American culture, Powwows, and food.

Food? How to cook the food.  What did acorn soup taste like?  Can you share your Frybread recipe with me?

Why is everyone asking me about food?

One of the readers said she made the Not-For-Sissies Chili Recipe featured in “Lynx” Rodeo Romance, Book 1, in her Instant Pot and love it.

Did I have an Instant Pot?

I shook my head.  I assured the reader the device sounded like a life-saver for family meals.  However, even with my full-time job in education I was only preparing meals for two.  I managed quite well with a crockpot and convection oven. 

Umm. . .remember the aquatic creature feature in the Oscar winning movie, “The Shape of Water”?  Huge, buggy-out eyes?  Well, this was what my audience visual was—not having an Instant Pot.  Not having the Instant Pot seemed some sort of deal breaker with this crowd.

Rallying, I said I was working on adapting some of my character featured recipes to  an Instant Pot.

This created a buzz in my corner of the room. 

So, are you working on your cookbook now?

Mentally, I shouted “What?  Of course not. . .”  Aloud, I said, “not a cookbook. . .it’s more of a pamphlet. . .”

It appeared everyone was happy.

Almost everyone, anyway.

 It seems I’m working on an additional project.

Please stop by and view my latest book trailer: “Tanayia—Whisper upon the Water” and my other novels too!
Connie's Amazon Author's Page

Happy Reading & Writing,


Readers/Authors if you have a favorite recipe or two, let me know.  I already have 20 family recipes from readers to include in my upcoming cookbook. 

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