Friday, June 30, 2017

This I know for sure...

It's really nice to wake up in the morning and see the possibilities in the day instead of waking up filled with dread because of people you're forced to deal with every Monday thru Friday.  Yes, the change in my day job situation, while less money, is so much better.  I guess it's true in some instances that money isn't everything.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  I had a couple of unexpected items pop up last week that cut into writing time, but I did manage to get revisions on the first 10 pages of Spellbound completed. 

Quote of the Week: "Don't worry about money so much. Creativity will take over where the money leaves off. In this and other ways the ends will find their own magical way of meeting." ~ Unknown

What I'm reading: I'll be starting It Started With A Kiss by Ella Quinn. This will be the first book by Ms. Quinn that I'll have read. I'm looking forward to it.

Random Thoughts: I had a reminder of how short life can be this week. It made me more determined to stop wasting time when I should or could be working on my writing.

Random Photo of the Week:

   It's not really a photo, but is exactly how I feel when it comes to math word problems.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer - The Best Time for Ice Cream

Like most people I eat ice cream year round, but for some reason it always tastes better during the summer. On rare occasions we will get soft serve ice cream from a local ice cream parlor, but for the most part our ice cream treats come from the freezer section of the grocery store.

Wanting to try and make my own ice cream, I purchased an ice cream maker a few years ago. I used it a couple of times, but it seemed more trouble than it was worth. The bowl of the ice cream maker had to be in the freezer at least 10 hours before you wanted to use it, and I always, always forgot to put it in the freezer in time to be able to use it on the day or time that I wanted.

A friend and I were discussing my attempts at making ice cream over the weekend and she told me about an ice cream recipe she found in a magazine, but it gave an online source for the recipe. She said she's made it a few times. It doesn't need an ice cream maker and is relatively easy to make. She emailed the recipe to me with the website information. I thought I'd share it with you though I haven't tried it yet. I'll be doing it next weekend for the 4th of July holiday. If you decide to try it out, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

No-Churn Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream

3 cups cold heavy cream
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hand-crushed graham crackers (about 4 whole crackers) (Be careful not to get the cinnamon ones. Use regular graham crackers or it will throw off the taste of the ice cream.)
1 cup cherry pie filling

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream in a large bowl on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract until fully incorporated. Gently fold in the graham cracker crumbs. 

Transfer half of the mixture to a large 10 x 5 inch loaf pan. Drop 1/2 cup of the pie filling by spoonfuls over the top, then swirl with a butter knife. Add the remaining cream/milk/cracker mixture, then swirl in the remaining 1/2 cup of pie filling.

Freeze until for 4 hours, then remove from freezer and cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 more hours.

Makes 12 servings. Can serve with any remaining graham crackers you didn't use in the recipe.

(My friend also used raspberry pie filling when she made it the second time, if you're not a fan of cherries. I'm thinking you could also use almost any type of fruit pie filling like strawberry or even lemon.)

Friday, June 23, 2017

This I know for sure...

"The sun turns the heart's agitation into tranquility." ~ Ma Lihua, Tibetan writer

The above quote was Tuesday's page on my page-a-day calendar. I read it and then stopped and re-read it. The quote struck me because it's very true in my case. I find I'm always happier or seem in a better mood when it's sunny. I love the late spring and summer where the days are longer and filled with sunshine, for the most part anyway.

The gray, dark days of winter set in here about mid to late October and usually last to late April-early May. By the time those early spring days come around, I'm thrilled to see even the tiniest bit of sun during the day. Every year the month of March is the longest, hardest month for me to get through. I think it's because winter has been dragging on for so long and because I know spring is coming.

Do you find a sunny day improves your mood?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Last week I went through the pages my critique partner made comments on and put them in order, gathered and arranged my notes on the characters and story, then printed out the manuscript to have everything ready to dive into the revisions this week.

Quote of the Week: “The transformation you desire is as possible as you are committed to making it happen.” ~ Unknown

What I'm reading: I'll be starting Torn by Cynthia Eden tonight. It's the 4th book in the LOST series. I'm reading the series out of order, but haven't felt lost in the two other books I've read. I'm guessing this will be the same.

Random Thoughts:  I've decided not to do any container gardening this year. I just didn't feel up to fighting off the squirrels this summer. I am keeping my flower garden going though. I spent the weekend weeding it and will be putting in a few annuals this coming weekend.

Random Photo of the Week:

                     Somebody trying to keep his belly cool in the 90 degree heat.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Please Welcome My Guest

Please welcome my guest, Historical Romance Author Donna Dalton.

Donna lives in central Virginia with her husband, two sons, and a grandson. An avid reader of historical romances, Donna uses the rich history of the “Old Dominion” State for many of her story settings. She enjoys reading stories where characters overcome life’s challenges, where family is everything, and the power of love helps them succeed. You can visit her at or on Facebook at DonnaDaltonbooks.

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

I started writing at a young age, probably the same time I learned to read. I remember creating a children’s book about vegetables that had arms and legs and could walk and talk. I even illustrated it. Maybe I should dig it out of my mother’s treasure chest. It could be a best seller <grin>. Along that same vein, I love to garden. I have flower and herb beds tucked in every possible spot in my yard. Digging in the soil is very relaxing for me and is a great cure for writer’s block.

I might have to ask for advice on how you keep squirrels and rabbits out of your garden. Do you have a writing routine?  Where do you usually do your writing?

I do my best writing early in the morning. My brain seems to be the most cooperative after a good night’s sleep, a hot cup of tea, and a healthy breakfast. I write at a desk in a dining room that I converted into an office. I can look out the window at my beautiful flower beds.

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

I have always loved reading historical romances, so it’s no wonder I find that genre the most interesting to write. I have written a couple of contemporary stories, but I always go back to the historicals. With my latest book, I have woven in some paranormal elements. That was fun and I will probably continue writing stories along that line. I do have a historical fiction percolating in the back of my head. So many ideas, so little time.

I agree. I have more ideas than I can keep up with. How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?

When writer’s block hits or I have an uncooperative muse, I go out into my flower gardens and dig. Getting my hands busy seems to get my brain in gear. I can’t count the number of times an idea emerged while my hands were deep in dirt.

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

Ha. Not so strange to me, but it was awkward for my husband (no, not that, lol). I needed to know the placement of my hero’s hands while he was picking the heroine off the floor (she had taken a tumble on a buckled rug runner). Hubby was helpful, but I guess I weighed more than he thought. We both ended up on the floor, laughing at each other.

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

The best writing advice I have received was from my favorite historical author and friend, Joanna Bourne. She said the best way to improve your writing is to just keep at it. Write, write, write. Sage words from a sage woman.

Definitely good advice. What do you like to do in your leisure time?

In my leisure time, I enjoy working in my yard, talking long walks, and spending time with my wonderful grandson.

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

Magic In Her Eyes is a western historical that has paranormal elements. It is loosely based on the movie Father Goose with Cary Grant. I loved the interactions between the gruff military man, the tight-laced guardian, and a handful of mischievous match-makers. It was fun to write and I hope fun for my readers.

I love that movie. Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I am currently working on book two of The Gifted series. Moira Devlin was rescued from fanatical townsfolk at the end of book one. Five years later, Moira has been asked to take over as healer when the town physician dies unexpectedly. Moira realizes it is time to venture out into the world and trust people again. Unfortunately, she hits a roadblock when the handsome Dr. Anson Locke arrives to take over the practice. He considers her potions nothing more than deadly snake oils. When folks start coming into the office, complaining of unexplainable sicknesses, the two must work together to discover what is making everyone ill.

Sounds interesting. Anything else you’d like to share?

I enjoy stories about characters overcoming life’s challenges, the importance of family, and the power of love helping them to succeed. I try to incorporate these elements in my own stories.
Meredith Talbot has a secret. In fact, she has nine secrets – her own and those of the eight orphans at Seaton House, a home for children. Each of them has a special talent that if exposed would get them labeled as witches. It is her responsibility to protect the children and their secrets and keep them safe from persecution. Marauding Indians force them into a nearby fort where their safety is threatened by fanatical townspeople and a captivating army officer who try to unmask the children's extraordinary abilities. 

Lieutenant Preston Booth has one goal – to serve and protect his country. The military is the only life he has ever known. It’s the only life he wants. When a child is abducted and Preston goes after the culprit, Meredith has a vision of what will happen to him. 

Does she risk everything by exposing her gift? Or keep her secret and risk losing him forever?

“Do you also have an aversion to being touched?”
Meredith looked up and met his taunting gaze. It was a challenge she couldn’t ignore. She hefted her chin. “Not if I have given permission to be touched.”
One corner of his mouth twitched. Surely that wasn’t a smile. From what she’d seen, the most his lips could manage were frowns.
He held out his hand. “May I help you into the wagon, Miss Talbot? In the name of expediency?”
Straw rustled behind her. One child hummed. Another thrummed on the wagon boards. The children were getting restless. She could contain herself long enough to be lifted onto the wagon.
     “Very well. I give my permission.”    
     His hands curled around her waist. Heat seeped through her blouse and branded her skin. Her stomach started doing odd little summersaults like the ones she’d seen Chinese acrobats perform at a local fair. So much for containing herself.    
     His grip tightened, and he lifted her up and onto the wagon bed as if she weighed no more than a rag doll. His hands lingered a moment before he released her. Gray-brown eyes fused with hers. A strange connection churned between them like the rush crowding the air before a storm. 

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Friday, June 16, 2017

This I know for sure

I mentioned in an a post a week or so ago that I made a major decision regarding my day job that resulted in a few changes. There are a couple of drawbacks, but the positives far out weigh the two negatives. 

One of the big positives is my stress level has dropped to practically non-existent. I can't express how nice it is to leave the office at the end of the day and not dwell on what happened that day or what might happen the next day when you arrive.

While I knew my stress level wasn't healthy, both mentally and physically, I didn't realize how much of a toll it was taking on my writing (or lack thereof) until said stress disappeared. It's amazing how much better you feel and how much writing you can get accomplished when you're not under constant pressure and able to get a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  As stated in Monday's post, I've decided to set the manuscript I've been fighting with for the past I don't want to say how many months aside. This week I'm working on revisions of a manuscript I have nearly three-fourths written. By starting out revising what's already written, I should be able to get back into the characters' heads and pick up the threads of the story so I can get it completed.

Quote of the Week:  "The things you want should match up with the things you’re willing to do to get what you want." ~ Unknown

What I'm reading:  I Dared the Duke by Anna Bennett. This is the second book in the Wayward Wallflowers series.

Random Thoughts:  Summer has finally come Upstate NY. We went from high 50's to low 60's and rain last week to high 80's and 90 degrees with sunny skies this week. It's amazing how much a sunny day versus a rainy day affects my mood.

Random Photo of the Week:

Popcorn is my usual go to snack. While I usually eat it plain, my sister bought me this to try.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Moving On

As many of you know, I've been struggling to finish revisions on a manuscript. I've been working on it for longer than I want to admit.

I've been using the excuse of not getting the revisions completed on everything from working extras hours at the day job, having appointments or other commitments crop up during my regularly scheduled writing time, and for the last few months being so stressed out by the day job that when I finally got home, I just wanted to veg out with a good book instead of working on my own. Thanks to changes in my work situation, I've been stress free for the last two weeks. I can't say I won't have any stress in the new situation, but it will be considerably less and should happen only rarely.

Finally feeling like I could get back in my groove and get these dratted revisions completed, I settled in last week to get some serious work done. Only to find that I was just as stuck as I was before. I took this past weekend to really look at the manuscript. It turns out that maybe stress and other commitments weren't the reason I wasn't moving forward on the manuscript.

I believe I've been struggling with it because there are at least two serious issues with the book. It will take a major overhaul and rewrite to fix the problems. After spending so much time on it and just now realizing the problems, I feel like I've gotten too close to it, a sort of can't see the forest for the trees kind of thing. I've decided I need to set it aside for a few months so I can come back to it with a fresh perspective.

Friday, June 9, 2017

This I know for sure...

I'd been under an incredible amount of stress at my day job from early March up to the week of Memorial Day. I knew it was affecting my ability to sleep at night and causing near constant headaches during the work day. (I'd get a headache just before I had to leave home in the morning and have the headache the entire time I was at the office. Almost as soon as I walked out of the building in the afternoon, my headache would disappear.)

What I didn't realize was how much it was affecting my writing. I had a lot of things crop up unexpectedly that took up my writing time, but I also found myself finding excuses or reasons why I couldn't work on my manuscript on the days I had the time. When I did sit down to write, I would usually only manage a page or two of new material. I had a hard time getting the story flowing in my head much less on paper.

I recently made a major change in my day job and took the week of Memorial Day off to decompress and destress. While the decision I made regarding my day job wasn't ideal and definitely had significant drawbacks, I'm feeling considerably less stressed. I'm sleeping better at night and haven't had a headache in nearly two weeks. I'm also feeling hopeful that the change will get back me on track with my writing.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  I'm back to my regular writing time this week so I'm hoping to get a decent amount accomplished.

Quote of the Week: "The secret of success is constancy of purpose." ~ Benjamin Disraeli

What I'm reading:  Into the Firestorm by Kat Martin. This is the third book in the BOSS, Inc. series.

Random Thoughts:  Last night on the local news broadcast, the meteorologist stated it's going to be a wet, cool summer. While I wouldn't mind a summer with temperatures in the 70's instead of mid 80's with high humidity, I'm hoping the "wet" part of his forecast for the season is off. I look forward to summer every year and don't want it to be a washout.

Random Photo of the Week:

    Somebody got a little too close to the camera just as I snapped the picture.