Friday, August 29, 2014

This I know for sure...

My sister is a big believer in the power of positive thinking and positive affirmations. She writes out one or two that pertain to whatever's going on in her life at the time and hangs them on her bedroom wall where they are the last thing she sees at night and the first thing she sees in the morning. She finds at least one positive thing will happen or that has happened each day. 

Still feeling a bit down 5 weeks after Isabella's sudden death, I decided to take a page out of my sister's book and do the same thing. (I refuse to acknowledge I may be depressed even though it is one of the stages of grief.) I called my sister and asked her for help in getting started. She sent me a bunch of different affirmations she's used in the past as examples. I haven't written any affirmations out yet, but I plan to this weekend. 

I have started trying to find something good in each day, even if it's something as minor as "Hurray, it's Wednesday - only 2 more days before the weekend." I do try to find something more meaningful than that, but for those days when all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and pretend the world doesn't exist, that's as positive as I can be at that time.

I'm told being positive is an ongoing process, but soon it'll become as natural as breathing. I've only been practicing positive thinking for a little over a week. So far, I've found it's become easier to let go of or ignore those things that irritate me. Some days are harder than others, but I have noticed that in general I'm feeling a bit happier than I was. And I'm finding I'm looking forward to see what other changes being positive will bring.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Unfortunately not a good writing week last week. Worked extra hours at the day job which cut into the writing time so I only managed 10 pages of new material. I have this some extra time off for the Labor Day holiday so I hope to get some good writing time in.

News from the publishing world: Barnes & Noble is partnering with Google for same day delivery as a way to compete with Amazon. For those of us who hate waiting, this might be great news if it's successful. Link: Barnes & Noble - Google: Same Day Delivery 

Quote of the week: "The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity." ~ Amelia Earhart. To be a successful writer, tenacity is a must. If you let the first rejection you receive keep you from trying again, then you'll never reach your dreams.

Health news: According to research conducted at Loma Linda University, humor produces brain wave frequencies similar to meditation, which has been linked to better focusing abilities and less stress. One researcher stated laughter can act as a natural antidepressant. (Personally, I think it's a bit hard to find humor in things when you've suffered a loss or are going through a hard time, but even if you can't find anything to laugh about, there's always meditation to help release stress.)

Random things: This Friday, my family is going to our state fair. I've lived in the same state my entire life and have never been to this particular fair. I'm looking forward to spending some quality time away from the distractions of work, the internet, and the like. Of course, I'm also looking forward to sharing that last funnel cake of the summer season. 

Random photo of the week:

    
I was feeling a little down last week so I indulged in a favorite childhood treat -- Vanilla ice cream with Fruit Loop cereal poured over it. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Roses of Prose

Today I'm visiting the wonderful Roses of Prose and talking about getting lost. With my terrible sense of direction it happens a lot. :o)  Please stop by and tell me about your adventures when you've been lost. Link: The Roses of Prose

Friday, August 22, 2014

This I know for sure...

The calendar may say summer officially ends on September 22nd, but I always feel like the start of a new school year signals the end of the summer.

As the season draws to a close, I'm trying to squeeze every drop out of the good weather. We have a couple of day trips planned before school starts. Next Friday, we're going to our state fair. I've lived in the same state my entire life and have never been to this particular fair. I've been working in the garden, trying to get it ready for the coming winter. The tree in our front yard is already losing leaves so the raking has begun. It's one of the few fall chores I hate. 

I've also been trying to just enjoy the sun. Once winter sets in the days will become gray and gloomy on a regular basis where I'll be going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. This happens much too quickly as far as I'm concerned. It seems fall passes by in a flash and winter drags on endlessly.

Do you feel that summer ends when school starts? Do you do anything to enjoy the end of the season?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Another good writing week - 25 new pages of material. The end is in sight. I'm hoping to have the first draft finished by the end of the month or by the 2nd week of September at the latest.

News from the publishing world: While this article isn't technically about the publishing world, I thought it was interesting and worth sharing. Link: Who's Stealing eBooks?

Quote of the week: "The secret of getting ahead is getting started." ~ Mark Twain. I need to print this quote out and put it somewhere so that I see it every day. There are days when I get home from the day job that the very last thing I want to do is sit in front of the computer and write, but once I get started, the words usually flow. After I'm done, I'm really glad I made myself start.

Health news: According to researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Kentucky being "hangry" (angry because you're hungry) is a real feeling. When you're hungry, your glucose levels drop making it harder to rein in hostility. I now have an excuse to eat cookies. :o)

Random things: I've been trying to grow daisies all summer in a long trough-like pot. It's the middle of August and the plants are just now really beginning to grow. Before they were there, but not really doing anything. Because the squirrels seemed to like to dig in it at night, I put the planter out every morning before I leave for work and bring it in every evening. The last two days I've come home from work to find the squirrels have dug in the planter during the day! They've been digging up the plants and throwing them on the porch. I started out with 4 plants. I'm now down to 1, maybe 2 if I can get one of them to survive. It's so frustrating to have nursed them along all summer only to have the wildlife destroy them.

Random photo of the week:


 This is a photo from my nephew's last boxing match. He's pretty good. He won 2nd place in his weight class when he entered the Golden Gloves competition a couple of years ago. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Character Names - Vanilla or Something More Exotic

Naming a character can be difficult. It has to fit the time period if the story has a historical setting. It has to fit the world if the story takes place in the distant future or on a planet other than Earth. It has to fit the character. You don't want a strong alpha male named Leslie or Terry. Just as you don't want a geeky character named Lance unless there's a specific reason for it. In my opinion the most important thing about a character name is that it has to be pronounceable.

More than once I've picked up a book only to set it down and either give it away unread or take it back to the library because one of the main characters has a name that I have no idea how to pronounce. One name I came across looked like a bunch of consonants were jumbled together with a vowel mixed in. 

I don't mind unusual names if the writer finds a way to let me know how to pronounce it. One book I enjoyed had a strong secondary character named Naomi. I was reading it as Ni-O-Me which is how a childhood friend with this name pronounced it. The writer let the reader know the correct way to say the name by having the Naomi character correct another character's pronunciation of her name as Nay-O-My. Okay, now I knew how to say her name. Although I have to admit I still read it as Ni-O-Me. 

How do you feel about unusual character names?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Please Welcome My Guest

Please welcome my guest, Regina West. Regina West comes from a long line of romance readers. Anytime her mother and grandmother had a moment of quiet, they immersed themselves in whatever paperback romance they’d picked up that week. So it is fitting that Gina has chosen romance as her favorite genre for both reading and writing.

She grew up in North Carolina, spent a few years moving around the U.S., but has settled in beautiful Colorado. She spends her days working for a non-profit organization and her evenings hanging out with her two smartypants boys. In the middle, she manages to squeeze in writing, editing, classical guitar and knitting. Currently, she’s working on a six-book paranormal romance series.

One day, she hopes to leave winter behind forever and retreat to Tahiti to live in a yurt and while away the hours writing and sipping umbrella drinks.


Last month, when my birthday rolled around, I gathered a group of friends and headed off to see The Fault in Our Stars. After two hours of tears and tissues, we sat outside the nearby Coldstone to eat some frozen post-movie therapy and talk, which we did for a crazy amount of time, like five hours. We went from crying to laughing hysterically, and I was reminded once again how crucial the friendships of these women are for me.

We ranged in age from 15 to 50. Between us, we had single moms, women who had been happily married for decades, women who had taken major risks with their careers, women who had made the difficult decision to follow personal, unproven paths. We were a wealth of wisdom, life experience, and, best of all, femininity.

The same theme appears in my new novel The Long Way Home. It is a romance, so the relationship between the two main characters, Twilah and Aidan, is the crucial one, of course. But Twilah is also surrounded with rich, fulfilling female friendships just like the ones I have in my own life. At one point in the book, she suddenly realizes that these women have become her family, so much so that they sway her decisions as much as Aidan does.

It was important to me that Twilah and her friends reflect the unique bond that forms between women. While Aidan helps Twilah build a new life, her friends make that life whole.

 Blurb: Twilah Dunn has it all—an exciting life in Los Angeles and a thriving ad agency she owns with her fiancĂ©. Then she learns that her estranged father has died and her business partner is sleeping with her best friend. In one day, her perfect life unravels and the city she calls home is now anything but.

She returns to her hometown in North Carolina determined to sell her father's horse farm in order to buy back her business from her cheating fiancĂ©. But when she sees the farm’s dilapidated state, she can’t bear the thought of selling it that way. Against all reason, she puts her fast-paced, metropolitan life on hold and hires local cowboy Aidan Perry to help restore the farm to its former glory. She’s heard the rumors of his dark past, and she’s wary of mixing business with pleasure—again. But soon she can’t keep her mind, or her hands, off of him.

Can Twilah push through her fear and love Aidan? Will his past prove too dangerous? Has she really left LA behind or will it continue to haunt her? 

Buy Link: The Long Way Home

Regina can be found at any of the following: 
Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/reginawest 

 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What's up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): I had a really good writing week last week - 25 pages of new material. This is the most I've written since the death in the family three weeks ago. Some days it was harder than others to make myself sit at the computer after working the day job, but I did it anyway.

News from the publishing world: This may be old news for some of you. I have to admit I'd heard of the deal some time ago, but thought this article was interesting. Link: Sale of Harlequin

Quote of the week: "The secret of getting ahead is getting started." ~ Mark Twain. This a variation of what I told myself this past week when I really wanted to do anything but write.

Health news: For all you coffee lovers, according to research published by Neurobiology of Aging, caffeine intake can help defend against alzheimer's disease by combating the adverse effects of protein deposits in the brain.

Random things: Saturday night is family movie night at our house. We watch a wide variety of movies from animated cartoons to action adventure, to bio-pics, to comedies, to serious drama. Some of the movies are pretty good, some we decide as a group to turn off after 20 minutes or so because we don't like them. Even though we're not interacting with each other during the viewing, we each look forward to movie night as a way to spend time together.

Random photo of the week:

   How the men in the family handle a tear in their clothes.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Too Many Books

I go to the local library every couple of weeks or so. This past week, I went to two after I got out of work - one near where I work and one not too far from home. I intended only to get out a couple of books at each place. They're new releases and hard to get your hands on so I wanted to get them while I could before someone else snapped them up.

Somehow when I walked out of the first library I ended borrowing a total of 12 books instead of the two I planned on getting. From the second library I borrowed 14 books. While some of them were for my mom (she doesn't drive so she gave me a list of books she wanted to read), I have no idea how I'm going to manage to read all these books in the three week span you're allowed before they have to be returned. It's a good thing there's nothing on television worth watching in the summer.

Friday, August 8, 2014

This I know for sure...

My sister graduated from college with her nursing degree last May. She just passed her state board exam and is now officially a registered nurse. Right now you may be thinking, okay, but what does that have to do with anything.

She's a perfect example of perseverance. It took her fifteen years to become an R.N. In that time, she married, had three daughters, held a job, and took classes whenever possible. There were periods of time when she didn't or couldn't work toward that elusive degree. Sometimes it was years before she was able to take it back up. But she never gave up. Never decided it was too hard or was taking too long.

So on days when I'm feeling like my writing career is stagnating or not moving in the direction I want fast enough, I think of my sister and with time and patience and, yes, perseverance, she achieved her dream. And I can too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): I spent most of last Saturday working on edits to fix the problem I mentioned last week while continuing to move forward. I hope to have the first draft including fixing the problem completed by the end of August.

News from the publishing world: The winners of the 2014 RITA were announced on July 26 at the RWA National conference in San Antonio, Texas. The RITA is been called the equivalent of the Oscar in the Romance author community. Here's the list of the winners - RITA Winners by Category

Quote of the week: "You have always written before and you will write now." ~ Ernest Hemingway This quote reminds me that I can write even when it feels like I'm fighting for every word.

Health news:  According to the USDA, American adults ate on average 118 fewer calories per day in 2010 compared to 2005. During this time period, there was an increase in home cooked meals opposed to meals eaten at restaurants or as take out.

Random things: I've been spending a lot of time with my cat lately. He's helping me deal with the loss of my family member. I wonder if he feels/senses how I'm feeling because he's been coming up and butting his head against my legs much more often lately or he lays by my side and rests his paw on my hand.

Random photo of the week:    

 This is a photo of my cat - Petey. He's like his owner and hates having his picture taken.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Writing In More Than One Sub-genre

My first introduction to romance novels when I was a teen was through historical romances written by Kathleen Woodiwiss, Shirlee Busbee, Johanna Lindsey, Jude Devereaux. So when I decided to try my hand a writing the type of book I loved to read, it was only natural to write historicals. 

When I first started writing, I can't tell you how many times it was impressed upon me to pick a sub-grenre of Romance and stick with it. It didn't matter that I had ideas for stories that easily fell into paranormal, suspense, contemporary, or historical categories. I was told time and again I would lose readers if I jumped from one sub-genre to another. Pick the one I loved best and write those types of books. 

For a long time that's what I did, but then other characters started populating my head, telling me their stories that would in no way fall into the historical romance realm. I've written one contemporary, am finishing a second, and have jotted a good number of notes on a third. While I love writing in the modern era, I still love writing historicals too. In fact I hope to start writing Finch's story soon. (Finch is a secondary character in An Unexpected Gift.) 

Then I start thinking about that "rule" again and wonder if I'm doing the right thing. But then I think about writers such as Maya Banks who writes historical, suspense, and erotica. While I don't consider myself in the same league, she's a great example of being successful in multiple sub-genres. 

As a reader and/or writer, how do you feel about authors who write in multiple sub-genres of romance? Like it? Don't? Why?

Friday, August 1, 2014

This I know for sure...

I've received a number of condolences from various people during the last couple of weeks. I know the thoughts and feelings behind the words are sincere and heartfelt, but there are a few well used phrases, I wish people wouldn't say. 

  • She/he is in a better place. -  I understand what you're trying to say, but I will always feel that the best place for my loved one is to be with me in my life.

  • Time heals all wounds. - I don't think this is true when it comes to death. I don't think anyone heals from or gets over the loss of a loved one. You just eventually learn to cope with the loss with some days being easier than others.

  • At least she/he didn't suffer. - Is this supposed to make me feel better about losing the person? If the person did suffer before passing on, am I supposed to feel worse than I already do? Is that even possible?

  • "I'm sorry to hear about your loss" or "I'm sorry to hear of your loss." - I'm a literal person by nature so when someone says this to me, it immediately offends me. Why? Because the speaker isn't saying he/she is sorry for the loss that I suffered, just that they're sorry they had to hear about it - I'm sorry to hear of or about your loss.

Maybe I'm just being extra sensitive because the loss is so fresh and raw, but having been on the receiving end of these, I now know I will never utter them to someone who is grieving for the loss of a loved one.