Monday, November 30, 2015

It's That Time of Year

With the above title, I'm betting most people would think the topic of this post would be holiday shopping and the all encompassing To Do's that come along with them. While I could write a post about that, I'll save it for another day.

Today, I'm going to talk about goal setting for the coming year.  I'll be honest and admit with roughly 31 days left in 2015, I will not be meeting two of my goals. Two of the most important goals that I set nearly a year ago. It's more than a little depressing.

I could use the excuse that I was still grieving the sudden loss of a family member in the beginning of the year and lost too much time to make up. While I was definitely grieving, I'm almost certain I could have made up for the lost time in the later half of the year. Or I could say my work hours changed in January and gave me little to no time to write, but that excuse doesn't really stand up either. There are numerous writers who work long hours and still find time to write. And my work hours changed in June giving me back my writing time. I could probably list a few more excuses, but in the end it doesn't really matter why I didn't meet those goals. The fact is I didn't.

So one of the things I want to keep in mind when setting my goals for 2016 is to make sure I keep them realistic, meaning I build in time for unexpected things that crop up where no writing gets done. I want to make sure I don't set too many goals that there's no way I can accomplish them either. I've started a list of things I'd like to accomplish by the end of 2016. This list is quite long - about 15 things. As we move closer to the end of the year, I'll refine the list, combining some and eliminating others (saving them for future years perhaps).

As I work on my list, breaking it down from a few overall goals, to quarterly goals, to monthly goals, I started wondering how other writers set their goals. I'd love to hear your processes and how you get back on track. I'm always looking for ways to refine mine.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

                          I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Writer's Lament

I've always been an avid reader. One of my favorite childhood memories is my mother taking my siblings and myself on bi-weekly trips to the local library. I think my love of reading is what led me to become a writer. But becoming a writer has, in a sense, ruined me as a reader.

Things that I may not have noticed as a reader jump out at the writer in me. It's almost as though I can't turn my writer's editing brain off when I'm reading for pleasure. My mom and sister and I often read a lot of the same books. When I ask them if they noticed something that jumped out at me, 99% of the time they say they didn't notice the item which leads me to believe it's the writer's brain noticing the issue that the reader's brain doesn't.

Here are three examples that came up in books all three of us read recently, but that they didn't notice:
  • In book #1, the heroine is pulled over by the local sheriff. The heroine (who the reader knows has a troubled past, just not the details of the past) has stolen property she's trying to put back so her relative doesn't end up in jail. The sheriff asks the heroine if she wants him to read her her rights or does she want to recite them with him. Now that leads me to believe she's been arrested quite a bit if she can recite her Miranda rights. In the very next paragraph, it's stated the heroine had never been arrested before much less spent the night in jail. Huh? If she's never been arrested before and her profession has nothing to do with the law - she's a nurse, why would the sheriff ask her if she wants to recite her Miranda rights with him as though she's been arrested so often that she would know them by heart?
  •  In book #2, the heroine slams the side of her fist on a table to emphasize the point she's trying to make. A couple of sentences later, she rubs her hand on her pants because the palm of her hand is stinging. Huh? The palm of her hand never made contact with the table. She hit it with the side of her fist/hand.
  • In book #3, the author ended every line of dialogue with he or she said regardless of what the line of dialogue contained. For example, "I love your new dress." Sarah said. Or "Where did you buy your dress," Sarah said. My writer's brain immediately said, no, no, no, 'said' is wrong. It should be 'asked' because Sarah asked a question. I was so distracted by the use of the wrong dialogue tag every time a question was asked that I couldn't read the book.
Have you ever read something in a book that pulled you out of the story? Or was so bothersome to you that you couldn't read the book? 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Feel like I made great strides this week. Edited and revised 3 chapters this week.

Quote of the week: "What you do today can improve all your tomorrows." ~ Ralph Marston

What I'm reading:  Played by the Book by Lucy Arlington. This is the 4th in the A Novel Idea Mystery series. I really enjoy this mystery series.

Random things: I mentioned in last Friday's post that we were going to a gingerbread house exhibit over the weekend. They had some really amazing entries. 

Random Photo of the Week:


                    Here is just one of the entries from the gingerbread house exhibit.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Writing...or Not

There have been times when I haven't written when I'd scheduled myself to. Sometimes it's because of family related things, work related things, sickness, and/or the loss of a loved one. And sometimes it's because I just didn't have the energy that day.

On those days when I didn't make my daily page count, I would usually feel guilty that I allowed something to interfere with my writing time. Then this week I stumbled across a blog post written by J.H. Moncrieff titled Writers, We Need To Stop Saying This.

It made me feel like it's okay if I don't make my page count every day as long as I'm doing my best. I think the same concept can be applied to everything we're attempting to work on whether it be writing, exercising on a regular basis, watching our weight, etc. So if you're struggling with any of these, know that we all are or do at one point or another.

Friday, November 13, 2015

This I know for sure...

This weekend we're going to the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY.  The museum has a gingerbread house exhibit every year. The gingerbread houses are made by professionals, local businesses, boy scout troops, and your every day average person and families. All of the creations are for sale by silent auction. The winning bidders are notified on the last day of the exhibit - December 16th.  The proceeds help support future restoration projects of the museum which was George Eastman's home.

I've always wanted to go see this exhibit, but would never think about it until it was too late to go. It would usually come to mind when I'd read in the newspaper about how successful the exhibit was that year. This would, of course, be after the exhibit ended.

The same thing happened last year. Determined to go in 2015, as soon as I purchased my 2015 planner I made a note in the month of October to go to the George Eastman Museum's website to find out when the exhibit would be. I'm looking forward to going and I learned that this year is the 20th anniversary of the exhibit so I'm kind of glad I haven't gone before.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Please Welcome My Guest

Please welcome my guest, Romance Author Shanna Hatfield. Shanna Hatfield 2Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real.
When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
This USA Today bestselling author is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Romance Writers of America, Sweet Romance Reads, and Pioneer Hearts.

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

Writing: The excitement of creating happy endings is one of the most wonderful things about writing sweet romances. The characters aren’t just names on the page. They become close friends as their stories evolve.

Non-Writing: Three of my favorite things are roses, chocolate, and my husband (lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller).

Do you have a writing routine?  Where do you usually do your writing?

My office is my writing haven. The walls are a soothing spa green, and I keep it neat (for the most part) to keep distractions at a minimum. Two years ago, I quit my day job so I plenty of motivation to treat my writing as a full-time career. Typically, I spend 8-10 hours a day six days a week in my office writing, editing, or marketing by books.

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

I’ve always been a hopeless romantic so it’s a natural fit for me to write sweet romances. I enjoy writing both historical and contemporary. If you asked me to choose a favorite, I couldn’t - I love delving into history and playing with modern-day “what if” scenarios. I’ve also written two humorous books based on true stories from my life. And I’ve done one mystery romance. I would like to try my hand at writing a medieval romance and I’ve got plans for a children’s book in the works.

How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?

Bills are a good motivator (LOL!). Seriously, I’m motivated to keep writing because this is my job, my career, my source of income. It’s also something I absolutely love getting out of bed and working on every day. When I finally started writing my first romance novel, I discovered what I was always meant to do. In those moments when I need an extra dose of inspiration or motivation, I read through notes I’ve kept from fans that touched my heart.           

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

Hmm… covertly photographed cowboy cabooses at rodeos. Honest-to-goodness, it was all in the name of research for a book that will be out for the 2016 holiday season. It was a tough job, but I somehow survived. (Wink, wink)

What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

Write what you know. My childhood was spent on a farm around cowboys, horses and cattle. It’s a great background for my western romances.

What do you like to do in your leisure time?

Read! I love to read. I also enjoy baking and experimenting with recipes. I have a hot glue gun and am not afraid to use it and I’m something of a Pinterest junkie.   

Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.

I have two new books releasing Nov. 12.
            Capturing Christmas (Rodeo Romance, Book 3)
Life is hectic on a good day for rodeo stock contractor Kash Kressley. Between dodging flying hooves and babying cranky bulls, he barely has time to sleep. The last thing Kash needs is the entanglement of a sweet romance, especially with a woman as full of fire and sass as Celia McGraw.
            The Christmas Vow (Hardman Holidays, Book 4)
Adam Guthry returns home to bury his best friend and his past, never expecting to fall in love with the woman who destroyed his heart.

Can you tell us a little about your next project?

My next book will continue the popular Grass Valley Cowboys series with Ben Morgan’s story. I had so many people request his story, who am I to tell them no. The book should be out at the end of the year. Look for The Cowboy’s Last Goodbye (Grass Valley Cowboys, Book 6)

Anything else you’d like to share?

Now through December 24, ten percent of the net proceeds from all my book sales will go to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. JCCF provides financial assistance to rodeo cowboys who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries (which happens more often than you’d think) until they can get back on their feet. It’s am amazing organization. The two books releasing this week help kick off the promotional campaign to raise funds and awareness for JCCF.

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Katherine. I so appreciate the opportunity.

You're welcome. Thank you for doing my interview. 

2015-Cowboy-Christmas-Blog-Tour

Welcome to the 2nd annual

Cowboys and Christmas

Blog Tour!

Raising funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

Ring in the Holidays with a Helping Hand

JCCF logoNovember 1 through December 24, ten percent of the net proceeds from all Shanna Hatfield book sales will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period. Every book purchased during this promotional period adds to the donation total. Don't forget to add books to your Christmas lists!

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

~*~ 
New Releases
To kick off the second annual Cowboys and Christmas Blog Tour and the JCCF campaign,
 two brand new holiday romances will release Nov. 12!

Capturing Christmas CoverCapturing Christmas is the third installment in the sweet holiday western Rodeo Romance series.
Life is hectic on a good day for rodeo stock contractor Kash Kressley. Between dodging flying hooves and babying cranky bulls, he barely has time to sleep. The last thing Kash needs is the entanglement of a sweet romance, especially with a woman as full of fire and sass as the redheaded photographer he rescues at a rodeo.
Determined to capture the best images possible, rodeo photographer Celia McGraw is fearless and feisty. Not one to back down from a challenge, her biggest risk isn’t in her work. Danger lurks in the way her heart responds to one incredibly handsome stock contractor. Will Kash and Celia capture the spirit of the season?
Pre-order your copy today! http://amzn.to/1FC8ZQj



Teaser


“Someone like you should be smart enough to know better than to do something that stupid, Miss McGraw.” The man frowned at her as he held her across his lap, riding over to the fence, out of the way of the horses and the men on horseback behind them.

Too stunned to reply, Celia gulped and continued staring at him, gradually comprehending she hadn’t been killed.
At least she assumed she hadn’t died, unless angels wore dusty cowboy hats, dark blue chaps, and were breath-stealing handsome.

Those engaging eyes bore into hers, making her heart skitter in her chest while an entire bushel of butterflies burst into flight in her stomach.

She observed her rescuer. He sat tall in the saddle and had muscles to spare, or so she presumed from the way he easily hoisted her off the ground and onto his horse. A hint of light brown hair peeked out from beneath the brim of his hat. The pale blue shirt he wore almost matched the fascinating shade of his eyes.

Celia experienced the most unreasonable urge to run her fingers along the stubbly expanse of his cheeks, down his square jaw, and over his strong chin. Mesmerized by his full bottom lip, she inhaled a deep breath and nearly choked.

The very scent of him hinted at a lethal combination of freshly fallen snow, a warm winter fire, and sweet seduction rolled into one incredibly enticing package.

Rodeo-Romance-Block-for-web 
Get all three books in the Rodeo Romance series!

The Christmas Vow CoverThe Christmas Vow is the fourth book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series.
Columbia River Pilot Adam Guthry returns to his hometown of Hardman, Oregon, after the sudden death of his best friend. Emotions he can’t contain bubble to the surface the moment he sees the girl who shattered his heart eleven years ago.
Widow Tia Devereux escapes her restrictive life in Portland, returning to the home she knew and adored as a girl in Hardman. She and her four-year-old son, Toby, settle into the small Eastern Oregon community, eager for the holiday season. Unfortunately, the only man she’s ever loved shows up, stirring the embers of a long-dead romance into a blazing flame. When her former father-in-law, a corrupt judge, decides he wants to raise Toby, Adam may be the only hope she has of keeping her son.
You can pre-order your copy today for only $2.99! http://amzn.to/1KQHhvI



Teaser

 No. Her fear was for the big, loveable lunk who’d scared her half witless when she saw him tumble off the roof. 
 
“I believe that’s exactly the point.” Adam’s lopsided grin revealed his dimples and made her mouth water for want of his kiss. Aggravated with herself, Tia aimed her fury at Adam. “The point is your recklessness might get you or someone else horribly injured.” She turned around and strode toward the kitchen door. “I insist you…”

A snowball caught her square in the back. Mouth hanging open in surprise, she spun around and glared at him. Adam worked to form another snowball, ignoring her scowl. Incensed, Tia surrendered to the need to stamp her foot. “How dare you!”

“Just like this.” He grinned and lobbed another snowball at her, catching her on the shoulder. Bits of snow sprayed into her face and hair.

“Oh! You are in for it now, Adam Guthry!” Tia bent down and hastily formed a snowball. With unmistakable precision, she threw it at Adam, hitting him on the chin.

He spluttered and returned fire, barely grazing her arm as she twisted away at the last second. Peals of her laughter filled the quiet December afternoon and drew Toby outside as she and Adam continued to throw snow at each other.

“Mama?” The little boy’s lip quivered. “Did you send me inside so you could play without me?”


    
Hardman-Holidays-block for web 
Don't miss out on the Hardman Holidays series!

Guest Author Sign

You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party, Thursday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more (many of the giveaways will stay open until the following morning)!
Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty2
The talented guest authors joining in the celebration include: 
10 a.m. - Carmen Peone 
12:30 - Rachel Rossano 
1:30 - Dani Harper

Grand Prize Photo

Enter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, Wrangler Tote Bag, Rock & Roll Cowgirl T-shirt, autographed books, chocolates, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. Winners will be randomly drawn and announced Nov. 16. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes2

Where to Find The Books

The Christmas Cowboy Cover 
Start the Rodeo Romance Series with The Christmas Cowboy.
christmas bargain cover 
Travel back to a time of grandeur in the old west
with the Hardman Holidays series.
The Christmas Bargain begins the popular series
and is available free for a very limited time!

                                                   Find Shanna’s books at:
Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:
Make sure you sign up for her newsletter to get the latest on new releases and exclusive giveaways!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Too Many Journals?

I'm always on the look out for a new journal. Not that I keep a journal per se. I do keep a gratitude journal where I write down at least 3 things every night before I go to bed that I'm grateful for that day. But keeping a record or an every day accounting of my day or week, I've never been very good at doing that.

I use journals to jot down story ideas, separate journals for characters, scenes, and ideas for each book I plan to write or am currently writing. I have one that's full of quotes that I've collected over the years. I must have at least 10 or 12 journals that I haven't used and yet, whenever someone asks what I'd like for a gift, I always include a journal as an option. And I hate to admit it, but I have a few that I don't think I'll ever use. They're so beautiful that I want to keep them looking fresh and new.

I have one that my nephew's fiancee gave me that's made of elephant manure. Sounds weird, but it's actually one of the most unique gifts I've ever received. The elephant manure is gathered from elephant sanctuaries in Thailand. The manure is then cleaned of anything that isn't fibrous material, then boiled for 4 to 6 hours in extremely hot water to ensure any bacteria is destroyed. It's then blended with other fibrous material such as corn stalks, pressed into paper screens to form the sheets, then laid in the sun for several hours until it's dried. It's then cut and bound into various paper items. (I got all this information from a card that came with the journal.) I display it on my coffee table. While I don't think I'll ever use it for its intended purpose, it's definitely a conversation starter.

Do you find yourself collecting journals or other items that you already have more than enough of?

Friday, November 6, 2015

This I know for sure...

We experienced a beautiful Indian summer this week in Upstate New York. It was bright and sunny and 68 degrees on Tuesday, even sunnier with a high of 78 degrees on Wednesday, and just as nice on Thursday with clear skies and 75 degrees.

What's the weather like today you ask?  Overcast, pouring rain, 45 mile an hour winds, and an estimated high of 48 degrees. There's nothing like the reality of fall to make you miss the summer that just ended. :o)


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  I've made it to the halfway point in revising my manuscript. Now I'm sure I'll be able to have it completed by the end of the year.

Quote of the week: "Do something today that your future self will thank you for." ~ Unknown

What I'm reading: Rules of The Game by Lori Wilde. I wasn't sure I was going to like this book when I first started it, but I hung in there and started enjoying it after the first few chapters.

Random things: I've started Christmas shopping. Ugh! It pains me to say that since it's still a few weeks away from Thanksgiving. I don't normally start gift shopping until after that, but I came across a great sale on paints, brushes, and canvas that I couldn't resist purchasing. I have two nieces who are quite talented painters and usually have art supplies on their requested gift lists.


Random Photo of the Week:

         Somebody's cuddled up against the cold as he recovers from his neutering surgery.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Please Welcome My Guest

Please welcome my guest, author Casi McLean.

Hi Casi, 
Tell us something about yourself.
Ha, be careful what you ask for. LOL. I had three names before I was three years old. How? I assume that would be your next question. I found out a few years ago my mother disappeared with my sister and I. She just took off with us in tow in the middle of the night. I don't remember, of course, because I was too young. I remember we moved all the time, though. I never had a chance to make friends before we packed up and moved again. I guess I thought everyone did that.

The hard part was not understanding why. My self-esteem dwindled. I believed my biological father abandoned us––me––and if my own father didn't want me, I must be worth very little. That premise dictated my childhood. My mother wouldn't talk about my father, except to say, "You don't want to know him, Casi. He's the kind of man who pulls wings off of butterflies."

I worked so hard to please people thinking if I could make them happy, I would earn more value. In high school, I dated boys who wanted me, with little concern about my own feelings. Note: It's worse to get dumped by someone you didn't choose. Most of my life I searched for validation in how others felt about me, always trying to please, bending my life around everyone close to me.

As an adult with two almost grown boys, I finally unraveled the secrets and lies in my past, and that changed my life. I realize now the bully reflected in my mirror validated my poor self-image; kept it thriving.

I was lucky though. A lot of people live that way a lifetime and never realize why. That's what fuels my fire––my passion. I guess you could say that's my brand, it's who I am. I challenge myself to help people realize their value and potential––to live their dreams.

My website is all about love: Romance Writing with HEAs and always a bit of inspiration and encouragement tucked into the pages. Authors Bare All is another segment that evolved from my passion. I feature authors sharing life events that have changed them, and love advice rooted in their lives, so they can encourage others too. The quotes I share throughout my website and on social media inspire too, and the tabs on my site all reach out to help others. 

I guess I've taken up a lot of space on your first question. LOL. I'll try to be brief from now on.

Do you have a writing routine?
No. Except I try to carve out time every day. Not because I should, but because writing is a part of me.

Why do you write romance?
think I answered that one, or maybe I live vicariously through my writing. Few people know I've written a memoir––with all 5-star reviews on Amazon. That was my first publication. I recently bought back the rights from the publisher and plan to update and re-release the journal soon. I also have some nonfiction books in the works and a course on my website, Directing Destiny, that addresses how people can change their lives. 

But my real love is writing romantic suspense. Stories that have twist endings to stir readers imagination with oh my gosh, that's awesome or what if ...

How do you stay motivated?
It's odd, but I've never felt unmotivated. I guess I feel I'm making up for lost time since I started my writing career later than I would have, had I followed my early dreams. Or maybe I'm a neurotic type A personality. I just love what I do. :-)

Tell us about your current release.
 Beneath The Lake is based on the eerie lore attached to a man-made lake just north of Atlanta GA. The ghost town submerged beneath Lake Lanier reportedly lures victims to a watery grave. In my story, Lacey Montgomery's car spins out of control and hurtles into the depths of the icy, black water. But she doesn't die. Instead, she awakens in the arms of a handsome stranger, in a place she’s never heard of –– 34 years before she was born. 

When the 2012 lawyer tangles with the 1949 hunk, fire and ice swirl into a stream of sweltering desire.You'll have to read Beneath The Lake to find out if the couple discovers the key to the mysterious portal before time rips them apart. If they don't, their star-crossed spirits will wander forever through the ghost town buried beneath the lake, which would totally lead into book two in my three-book series. LOL.

I'd also like to share my Beneath The Lake book trailer, and my contact information:
Find me:
Website: casimclean.com
Twitter: @casimclean
Facebook: Casi McLean
FB Author Page: Casi McLean-Author
GoodreadsCasi McLean
Amazon Author Page: Casi McLean