Monday, April 29, 2013

Struggling to Write

Lately I've been struggling to write, not just getting the words down on paper, but getting my butt in the chair in front of the computer. I'm not sure why. It could be that there's been a lot of stress and tension at the day job and when I get home from work the last thing I want to do is sit down and write.

I find myself sitting on the sofa and visiting with my mom and complaining about my day. She's a great listener so maybe that's why I do it. Once I get all the frustration and aggravation I dealt with all day off my chest, instead of writing, I read. Maybe I feel like I need the escape. I'm not sure. But then I ask myself if it is for the escape, why don't I escape into the story I'm supposed to be writing?

Last week my critique partner had a commitment so we couldn't meet and I didn't write a single word. Not one. And I'm already well behind in the word count of this manuscript where I hoped to be by this point. The week before I only managed to get 4 pages written. I felt like I was letting my critique partner down coming with so few pages for her to review.

I need to break out of this slump before it gets worse. The thing is is I'm afraid until things change at the day job (which doesn't look like anything will be happening any time soon), my writing will continue to suffer.

Friday, April 26, 2013

This I know for sure...

There are times when situations or things occur that I have no control over and can't really do anything about. As much as I hate the saying, "It is what it is," I'm learning that it's true which doesn't lessen that sense of frustration or aggravation. But I'm learning to try and let things go. Until things change or work themselves out, I guess I'll be gritting my teeth and trying to keep my temper. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Please Welcome My Guest...

Please welcome my guest, multi-published author Linda Swift. Linda divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Her first two books were published by Kensington. She writes historical and contemporary romance, women's fiction, short stories and poetry (available in e-books and print from Amazon and other distributors) Linda's publishers include Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery, Champagne Books, Whiskey Creek Press, Whimsical Publications, and Willow Moon Publishing. 

Tell us something about yourself both writing and not writing related.

I enjoy every aspect of writing except promo but my favorite part of the process is editing and polishing the finished manuscript. I also enjoy working with an editor and making suggested changes that fit seamlessly into the story. 

I enjoy cutting out designs in block printing, scraping green ware in ceramics, rearranging furniture, sorting closets.  

My favorite part of the process is editing too. Do you have a writing routine?  Where do you usually do your writing?

Yes, my writing routine is to write every spare moment I can every day. I have often thought I'd keep track of the number of hours spent writing for about a week and get an average, but I'm afraid to. I think I'd rather not know exactly how many hours I'm working. I live in KY and FL and my study both places serves as guest bedroom also. I have always used the guest bed as an "open" file cabinet. That makes information very accessible!

I love the idea of using your guest bed as an "open" file cabinet. I want to buy a dining room type table and use it the same way. First I have to have the room for it though. Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do?  Any plans in the future to write in a different one?

I write in a variety of genres now-historical and contemporary romance and women's fiction; speculative fiction short stories, and poetry. At the moment my focus is on historicals set in late 16th to mid-17th century England but I do hope to write a Regency some day and I'm thinking about a series of historical novellas.

I'm impressed by the wide variety of genre you've written in. How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?

If I have a block of designated time to write I don't get writer's block. It's only when I have interruptions and other activities occupying my mind that I can't get anything creative going. But in that case, I do some necessary writing-related activity such checking email, posting on FB, doing other promo.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

I was writing a short story and needed to know how to make a Molotov cocktail and how big it would have to be to kill four people. This was the days before I used Google so I had to check with law enforcement with the question. Today, I'd probably get arrested for asking the questions I asked! And even then, my name may have been placed on a list of suspects to be watched.

 I wonder what those law enforcement officers thought of those types of questions. What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

I was told by a creative writing teacher when I was writing my first short story that the narrator's voice should always be at the level of the characters in the story. I had been using my college educated voice to tell the story of a very uneducated man who was the only character in the story. I changed the voice, and the story won the Fiction Skills Scholarship Award at Indiana U. Writers' Con that year when I submitted it. So I've never forgotten this advice.

That's great advice. I've read books where child characters spoke like adults. What do you like to do in your leisure time?

My husband and I do ballroom dancing which I love. I also enjoy spending time in the condo pool and walking about two miles daily. But my best leisure time for myself alone is to read a good book.

I agree with you. My favorite way to spend my leisure time is with a good book. Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.   

Paula's husband left her to "find himself" and she goes back to college to  get certified to teach. She meets a retired Air Force officer there for the same reason and "finds" herself falling in love again.

Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I am putting a book back together that was "splintered" to make it a true romance. Now it will be a women's fiction book again with all its subplots that makes it a fuller, richer story.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I'd love to have readers join me on my FB page or my FB author page or both.  I'd welcome their comments on my books or any topic we might discuss.

Thank you for having me as your guest, Katherine. I've loved answering your questions today. You have a lovely blog and I'll be visiting again to learn more about you and your other guests.

That Special Summer
Published by Rebecca J. Vickery
 When Paula's husband divorces her to find himself, she is devastated. Adding to her hurt and anger, he joins a band and dates a sexy young singer. Forced to start over in the job market, Paula returns to college for a degree in Special Education.

As Paula struggles to cope, her shattered ego receives a boost when two men seek her company – Derek, a retired naval officer in college to qualify for a second career, and Greg, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist. Toss in a Professor with a huge misconception, a campus stalker, and her daughter's upcoming wedding, and Paula's new world becomes more complicated.
But once she unexpectedly finds herself, and falls in love again, starting over proves to be better than she could have ever imagined. 
www.publishingbyrebeccajvickery.com

E-book Available now for $2.99 at the following links:

For more information about Linda and her books, check: http://lindaswift.net or


Linda is giving away a digital copy of  That Special Summer to one random person who leaves a comment. If there are more than 10 comments, she will give away two copies so be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Benefits of Gardening

Now that the snow has melted and my yard is no longer a muddy mess, I'm looking forward to renewing my garden. I have a few perennials that come up every year (provided the lawn care guy doesn't weed whack them down to the ground which has happened in the past), but I also like planting annuals each new spring season. I have a few plants that I've grown from seeds that are almost ready to be transplanted outside and each year I buy some new type of flowering plant from our local public market to add to the garden.

I find gardening beneficial in a lot of different ways. It always lifts my spirits when I look out over the colorful blossoms. The coaxing of a fledgling plant into a thriving one is good for my soul and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I like the rhythm of digging in the dirt, placing a bulb or seedling, patting the dirt around it and moving on, repeating the process.

Working in my garden gets me outside in the sun and fresh air. It allows me to enjoy birds chirping in the trees, feel the soil crumble through my fingers. It also allows me to think, to ponder not just a weak plot or what my characters will do next, but what I should do in a tough situation. I've made some of my hardest decisions while planting flowers and pulling weeds. And in some small way, I like to think I'm adding to nature's beauty.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Please Welcome My Guest...

Please welcome my guest, Romance Author Rachel Brimble. Rachel writes a wide variety of romance sub-genres including suspense, historical, comedy, and contemporary.  She lives in England near the Georgian town of Bath with her family.

Tell us something about yourself both writing and not writing related.

My writing is entirely self-taught having left school at 16 to work in a bank – I learned through trial and error and online courses and now write for Harlequin and Kensington. I am very proud! (Like you couldn’t tell…)  :o)

I’m married and mom to two young daughters, I love to read, knit and walk the English countryside. The thing that makes me smile most often is when people continue to compliment my curly hair when no-one realizes I haven’t had it professionally cut for 15 years. My hairdressers are either my husband or eldest daughter hacking at it with kitchen scissors!

I haven't had my professionally cut in years either. My mom cuts it for me. She cuts most of my sisters' hair too. Do you have a writing routine?  Where do you usually do your writing?

I feel very blessed that I am able to stay at home and write around the kids and home. I work from 8.30-3.30 during the week and every spare minute afterward until 7pm and then it’s strict family time. The weekends are as much as possible without them noticing ;)

I usually write on the living room sofa with my big black Lab sleeping beside me.  :o)

Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do?  Any plans in the future to write in a different one?

I love romance! I love the feel good factor and watching two people grow and learn in order to be with each other and have their happy ever after. My writing gives me great joy and takes me out of the problems of real life every day.

I’ve no plans to try a different genre at the moment but if I were to try something else it would be crime – most likely cozy mystery.

What a great way to explain why you write romance. How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?

I write through it – always!! When you are contracted and have deadlines, you can’t allow writer’s block to enter your vocabulary. Time and again I’ve felt that a book isn’t working and I need to scrap the entire thing and start again. I haven’t the time, or the courage, to do that so I force myself onward. Following drafts can be used to sort out the mess.

Currently, my deadlines are my own but I feel the same way. If I don't write at least 5 days a week then I find myself not writing for weeks on end and that's no way to keep a writing career alive. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

Ohh, this is a difficult question…I haven’t really done anything strange in the name of research but I have used my real life experience of being rescued from the French floods in 2010 in my upcoming book with Harlequin in August. I have written a step-by-step record of what happened in the most terrifying 12 hours of my life. You’ll have to buy the book to see what happens… ;)

That definitely follows the old adage, "Write what you know." What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

“Allow yourself to write a crappy first draft” – best advice EVER!!!

What do you like to do in your leisure time?

See question 1, lol! I read, knit and walk as much as possible – any free time after that is spend languishing in a bubble bath or drinking far too much wine and eating too much food with friends and family.

Sigh, I can't remember the last time I was able to languish in a bubble bath...I'm so jealous. :o) Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.


The Seduction of Emily is a story of two people struggling to release themselves from the bonds of their parents’ decisions in very different ways. The heroine from a monetary decision, the hero from a need to avenge an act of violence on his mother.

Sounds interesting. I'll have to get a copy. Can you tell us a little about your next project?

My next release is out in June and something completely different – a sexy, romantic comedy from Omnific Publishing. Here’s the blurb:

There isn't a situation that can't be fixed by a coat of chocolate body paint or a liberal smear of Champagne Lick, right? Wrong!

Ever since her father was murdered by a gang of youths, Sienna Lloyd has named herself Potterford’s protector—her sexy lingerie shop is a place where the town’s women can visit and feel safe. But when that shop is in danger of closing, Sienna needs a solution that will keep her in Potterford, where she can always look out for her mother, friends, and clients.

The answer? Move the shop to her home at 16 Marsden Place. The problem? Her new neighbor, the delicious but seriously uptight Jack Beaton. Oh, and his four-year-old twin girls.

Jack has just moved to the tiny town of Potterford in a bid to start over. To build a new life that keeps his children safe from their violent and sex-crazed mother. So when he discovers his neighbor intends to open a sex shop right next door, Jack will do anything to ensure it doesn’t happen…including fighting every ounce of his attraction to the shop’s owner and his innate need to trust again.

Wow, sounds great. I'm going to have to put this on my list too. Anything else you’d like to share?

I LOVE hearing from other readers and writers. I am an avid Twitter fan and that’s where you will find me far too often throughout the day. Here are my links:


Rachel mentioned the book she wrote based on her rescue from the 2010 French floods that will be released by Harlequin later this year, but she didn't mention that she already has a wonderful book that's been released by Harlequin.  I'm posting a picture of the cover of that book - Finding Justice. I've read it and I highly recommend it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How I Became A Writer

Today I'm visiting Velda Brotherton's blog and answering that question and more.  Velda is also a historical romance writer as well as a fellow Wild Rose Press author.  Stop by her blog and check out the great interview questions she asked me.  Link:http://veldabrotherton.wordpress.com

Friday, April 12, 2013

This I know for sure...

Given the cold temperatures we had this week, it's hard to believe it's spring.  We had some sunshine but it's been colder than it should be for this time of the year.We had freezing rain yesterday and it's supposed to rain all day today so I guess you could say we're getting our April showers which lead to...May flowers. 

Well, it's not May yet, but I was happy to find this in our yard.  The grass hasn't quite come back, but we have crocuses. A beautiful bright spot in a dreary rainy day.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I just finished The Restorer by Amanda Stevens.  Wow! I can't say enough good things about this book. The setting and atmosphere alone make the book worth reading.  Of course a moody, broody police detective hero and a heroine who sees ghosts, not to mention a murder with many twisting clues also make this a great read.  I've just started the second book in the series - The Prophet - and am already enjoying it nearly as much as the first.  Looking forward to reading the third book as well. That one is titled The Kingdom.  I understand there will be a fourth book as well.  The books are known as The Graveyard Queen series.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Leave Me

This blog was originally posted on Rebecca Clark's Shy Writers blog, Once Written, Twice Shy (http://shywriters.blogspot.com/ )on January 11, 2012.  I'm sorry for the reposting, it's been crazy busy at work with taxes due. 

 I’ve always been shy around large groups of people.  Put me in a crowd where I don’t know anyone or just one or two people and I immediately become part of the wallpaper.

I’ve always wanted to overcome my shyness but would chicken out at the last minute when invited to group events or in the case of writing conferences, no matter how much I wanted to go, I wouldn’t register out of fear of not knowing anyone and being placed at a table full of strangers that I’d have to make small talk with. 

Then I met a fellow writer at a local writer’s group.  Jane was a wonderful writer, easy to talk to, and made me feel comfortable within minutes of meeting her.  A couple of years after we met, she talked me into attending New Jersey’s Put Your Heart In A Book conference.   I agreed to go if she promised me one thing – Not to leave me alone during the conference.  She promised and I registered for the conference, booked the hotel room we’d share, and made travel arrangements.  For the first time, I was going to attend a writer’s conference and I couldn’t wait.

Finally, it was time to go to the conference.  During our trip to NJ, Jane must have picked up on my nervousness.  She touched me on the shoulder and said, “I haven’t forgotten my promise.  You’ll be okay.”  Her words calmed me a bit, but I still felt like bats were playing ping pong in my stomach. 

The evening we arrived, there was a meet and greet gathering for all of the conference attendees.  We walked into the hotel ballroom and Jane began talking to everyone and anyone she came in contact with from the other attendees to the hotel staff.  She seemed so comfortable with them; it was almost like she’d known them for years.  Meanwhile, I hovered at her shoulder like a shadow, barely managing to utter a word. 

An hour later, she pulled me aside and said, “I have to go to the lady’s room.  I’ll be right back.”  I instantly responded with, “I’ll go with you.”  She looked me in the eye and said, “No, you mingle.” I opened my mouth to protest when she cut me off with, “I haven’t forgotten my promise.  You’ll be okay.”  I nodded but really wanted to throw my arms around her legs like a toddler and cry, “don’t leave me.”  She gave me a smile and headed toward the door without a second glance.

Not wanting her to come back and still find me standing in the corner, I gravitated toward the dessert table.  It was loaded with different types of chocolate confections.  One thing I did know was that chocolate always made me feel better.  As I stood at the table, deciding which dessert to try, a woman walked up and stood beside me.  “I hate these things,” she muttered.  “You hate chocolate?” I asked, the thought unfathomable to me.  She laughed, “God, no.  I hate these ‘get to know you’ things.  I never know what to say to a complete stranger.”  I smiled, probably my first real smile of the night. “Me too.” We chatted for a few minutes before we were approached by a young woman who looked pale.  Sweat beaded her upper lip.  “Hi,” she said before we could utter a word. “I promised my critique partner I’d introduce myself to two people tonight. My name’s Amy.” Her words came out in jumbled rush.  She pressed a hand to her stomach. “Oh, just saying that makes me feel like I’m going to pass out.”

My new friend scooped up a plate of chocolate truffles and handed it to me, took Amy by the arm, and said, “Chocolate will help.” She led the way to a small unoccupied table where we all sat down and ate the truffles.  

A short time later, I glanced at my watch and realized a half hour had passed and Jane hadn’t come back from the restroom.  I looked around the ballroom and found her chatting with a group of women.  She gave me a thumbs up sign, but didn’t come join me.  I was a little angry. She promised she wouldn’t leave me alone.  It was the only reason I agreed to attend the conference.

I held onto my smile and prepared myself to endure the rest of the evening until I could politely leave and hide out in my hotel room.  The funny thing was that the remainder of the evening wasn’t something to endure.  I started feeling more comfortable, my nervousness melting away.  I had fun.  I met Amy’s critique partner and two of her friends.  I met Carrie’s (the first woman to join me at the dessert table) roommate and found out most of us planned on attending the same seminars.

The rest of the conference passed in a blur of seminars, meals, and meeting more new people with Jane always at my side.  Not wanting to make either of us feel uncomfortable I hadn’t mentioned how upset I’d been that first night that she’d left me to my own devices, thinking I would bring it up on our way home. 

The funny thing was that as I sat there during our trip home, trying to figure out how to broach the subject without sounding accusatory, and ok, I didn’t want to sound like a spoiled brat either, I realized Jane had never really left me alone during the meet and greet gathering.  She may have not been by my side but she was there in the room and if I needed her, I could have gone and joined her even if it was only to be her shadow.  Instead, she’d given me space to meet new people while having the safety net of her presence in the room.

Unfortunately, our local RWA chapter disbanded a couple of years later.  Though we tried to stay in contact, I lost touch with Jane not long after that.  I never told her but I’m immensely grateful to her for talking me into attending that first conference.  I’m still shy around large groups of people, but I know I can hold my own in a crowd.  I’d still rather have a friend beside me though.
 

Friday, April 5, 2013

This I know for sure...

I had Monday off from the day job for the Easter holiday and I've been a day behind ever since. I keep thinking it's the wrong day which has caused me to be late for a dinner with friends, forget to blog this past Wednesday, do regularly scheduled things at work on the wrong day, and I've behind in my regular every day chores at home.  Who would guess a long weekend (which was very much needed and appreciated) would put me so far off my game? Despite all of this, I'll take the extra day off from work any time.