Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Why Write (or Read) Romance?

With a handful of decades reading romance and now 10 years of writing it behind me, the question I still get asked most often is why romance?

For a long time, I would blush or joke it off. I spent years hiding the covers when I read in public (although Kindle has helped with that lol). But honestly, I am proud to both write and read this genre. I don't blush or stammer any more, but proudly proclaim my love for romance.

Even then, I still have some stock answers for folks depending on the way the question is asked. Here are my top 4:

It's my chances to put a little happiness in a world that has way too much of the opposite.
I can hardly stand to turn on the news these days. It is a rare thing that the stories don't display a world in chaos filled with hate and violence. By writing romance--stories inherently about HOPE--I am taking the creativity God gifted me with and putting a little happiness back into the world. Out of curiosity, what are you doing to make this a better place?

It makes me happy.
I write and read romance because it...wait for it...makes me happy. I love the interaction between the characters and their growth on the page. I love seeing how finding love makes them happy. And, again, I love the HOPE. For dragon shifters and cowboys and billionaires and nerds and outgoing people and shy people and people who are hurting alike, the opportunity is out there. Immersing myself in things that turn out beautiful and lovely is a wonderful way to spend some hours.

Why not? Why aren't you reading it?
Love is at the center of all relationships (or it should be). It's at the center of making babies (or it should be). It's not a female-only past time (guys do feel something other than lust, I hope). And it's not just escapism for women. Not when mysteries and action/thrillers are also out there. I don't see most men running around beating up bad guys and solving crimes. Just saying.

So if these books are about hope and reflecting something that everyone on this planet has the capability to experience, and most have a wish to experience it (traditional forms or not), then why not? Please explain to me why more people don't read romance? Maybe if more people did, this would be a happier, more hopeful world than it currently is.

Finally... The voices in my head won't shut up, so I give their mouths something to do. ;)
Come on. You always suspected writers were crazy. I'm just saying...you're right. To sit in front of a computer for hours/weeks/months/days/years torturing myself and my characters isn't exactly an easy task. Even so, I love what I do, and the people I get to meet because I do this, and the happiness it brings. So I guess I'll continue to sing the praises of love and romance to anyone who asks.

Writers and readers alike, what are some reasons YOU love to write/read romance?


giphy-4

Monday, March 18, 2019

What to Read by Elizabeth Alsobrooks


I read every day. Often, I read all day long, mostly professionally, less often for pure pleasure. I also write every day. At the very least, I write a dozen emails every day, and write information text, fiction, and meeting minutes and notes for research. So why is it I have such a hard time finding something fun and interesting and entertaining to read (as in I don’t have to edit this, just enjoy it), or to write about? So today I am writing about finding something good to read.


I read a blog that said the purpose of reading is to enrich your life, gain knowledge, get value by improving the quality of your life—not just to read for the sake of reading. Apparently they don’t read the label on cereal boxes or the text on magazines in the checkout line. That blogger’s take on reading set some lofty goals indeed, I’m sure, but as a fiction writer and someone who already read through thirteen years of college edification, I feel enabled to read just for fun if I damn well please. Literary fiction with a moral thermometer stuck up its bum is fine upon occasion but reading for entertainment and to escape social realism and politically correct fakeness, as in the intended bride in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America, "whatever you want, whatever you like," can be quite empowering in itself, not to mention a huge stress reliever.


So decide what you’re in the current mood to read, and here are a few ways to go about finding what you’re looking for, especially if you’re not looking to read a darker shade of what you just finished reading. People swear by such search tools as amazon’s lists, and their what else people who liked this product purchased feature.  There is the What Should I Read Next search engine, where you literally type in your favorite book of the type you currently seek and it will give you some similar picks. There is also StumbleUpon, that provides you with web pages you might like. You can read book blogs, book review sites, searching for the type of books you like that are being reviewed. Goodreads is a good source. Join a group that’s reading the type of book you are interested in and get some first-hand recommendations and opinions.

Once you generate some book lists, go to amazon or some other book site and read the blurb, to get the gist of the story-line. If that catches your attention I strongly recommend using the look inside feature and reading the sample. Nothing is more frustrating than hating the author’s voice or their chosen point of view and use of narration. I actually read a novel that I like, though it was in first person and that’s not my favorite narrative tense. However, when I got the sequel, the tense and writing style was so annoying that though I read almost halfway through (I’m a fast reader) hoping the story would capture my attention I just hated it and set it aside. The book was on the bestseller list. It was a sequel to a book I enjoyed, but I hated, hated, hated it. I actually no longer cared about either of the main characters and found myself hoping they’d get killed off to put me out of my misery. Should I have read the free sample even though I’d read the first book? Duh! Never again. Though that has never happened to me before, I learned my lesson and this was a big publishing company so the kindle was nearly 12 bucks! [When did paperbacks get cheaper than the digital version?]

So, buyer beware and read on! Read for edification, enrichment, or just good old-fashioned entertainment! Bottom line? Read what makes you happy!



Thursday, March 14, 2019


You can take the girl out of South Carolina, but I’m not certain you can ever take South Carolina out of the girl’s heart. I was born and raised in the red clay of a smaller town in the South Carolina Foothills.  Anderson is about halfway between Atlanta to the South and Greenville/Spartanburg to the North on I-85. Most people drive by never knowing it is there except for the highway signs. Or at least this used to be true.  Now Lake Hartwell ensures people stop for a day of swimming, boating, or sunbathing on the sandy beaches of the lake.  These beaches are manmade, hauling tons of sand to dump over the red dirt.

My favorite city, perhaps in the world, is Charleston.  Charles Towne as it was originally called was founded in 1685 by Charles II of England.  I’ve always had a special place in my imagination for this interesting monarch. Image result for Charles II jpg freeOld Rowley sired many a bastard but never an heir to the throne.  Now famous for its rows of pastel houses and the famous homes facing the Atlantic on the Battery, Charles Towne once was the essence of its founder.  I set one novel in Charleston, and this charming city always seems to infiltrate every one since in some way.

My favorite Charleston artist is Jim Booth, and I own his works of The Storm and Night Before the Storm which represents the Battery during Hurricane Hugo in 1989.  There were 27 fatalities of this storm in South Carolina alone. I visited Charleston months after Hugo hammered the coastal town, and the destruction was heartbreaking.

The Dock Street Theater, first theater in Anerica

Charleston is rich in history.  In 1861, the first shot in the Civil War was fired in the Battle of Fort Sumter.  Confederate troops under Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard fired on Fort Sumter and the U.S Army retaliated.

South Carolina also boasts Myrtle Beach, an entertainment mecca both for its beach and its carnival-like atmosphere, and Hilton Head of golf fame.

Whether you like the mountains or the beach, South Carolina offers visitors and residents alike southern grace and charm coupled with modern industry, for example, the BMW plant in Spartanburg.

Until last April when I returned to SC, I lived in Texas and love the Lone Star State.  I love Bluebonnets, drives in the beautiful Hill Country, and Blue Belle ice cream from Brenheim (about 2 hours from Houston).  If I’d lived in Brenheim or the Hill Country, I might have stayed, but then again, perhaps not.

In my heart of hearts, I am still a South Carolinian.  The state motto is While I breathe I hope. And with that thought I’ll leave you to make travel plans to beautiful South Carolina.

The book set in Charleston is Sinners’ Opera, the hero of which is Morgan D’Arcy, an English lord, a concert pianist…and a vampire.  My latest release isn’t set in Charleston, but it stars Morgan in a collection of short stories chronicling his romantic adventures over the centuries.  Morgan D'Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Wild Rose Press as well as other quality book sites, it is available in paperback, audio and eBook.

After you’ve booked your travel, curl up with Morgan D’Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody and take a stroll through history.  Reviewers have called Morgan:

 “…Morgan…is a tour de force of egotism, wit, sensuality, and talent…” ~Author Toni V. Sweeney
 “Morgan D’Arcy is a class act and the most arresting vampire I’ve ever encountered in literature or films.” ~ Historical and Paranormal Romance Author Beth Trissel

Blurb:  The greatest enemy of a vampire is boredom. Four centuries of existence have taught Lord Morgan Gabriel D'Arcy to fear nothing and no one. Humans and their weapons have little chance against his preternatural speed and arcane powers. Vampires are viral mutations of human DNA. Still, the Vampyre code requires secrecy, and he has learned to hide his nature from the world. The lure of mortality, of a life in the sun, puts Morgan again and again at the mercy of calculating human women though they fail to consider his charm and determination into the equation. However, even grooming a future bride from infancy proves to be fraught with heartbreak. And second chances are not always what they seem unless... you are Morgan. Immortality and beauty, aren’t they grand?

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlbRLTFQUHE&feature=youtu.be
You can find me:
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LNightingale - @Lnightingale
Web Site:  http://www.lindanightingale.com – Visit and look around. There’s a free continuing vampire story.
Blog:  https://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/ - Lots of interesting guests & prizes

Happy Thursday, everyone!
Linda

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

How Do You Kickstart Your Muse? by Diane Burton


Last week, a colleague posted on Facebook, asking for help. She was adrift, having lost her day job and searching for a new one has been frustrating. While she has the time to write, she can’t get motivated. She asked if it’s ever happened to anyone else.

My response and several others was an overwhelming YES! Been there.

So what do you do when your work-in-progress (any of them) doesn’t interest you. And no new idea is popping up. Several writers responded with suggestions. As I wrote my response, I thought this would make a great post. Most of us go through something similar. A time in our lives when we just don’t feel like writing.

The following writers offered suggestions:

Anne K. Stone
Tracy Ragap Keely
A frequent suggestion is to read. When the well is dry, you can't get anything out of it. Stress has a way of drying up creativity. Take this time to read—in your genre as well as in other genres. Try something new.

Follow Julia Cameron’s (The Artist’s Way) advice and write “morning pages.” Every morning, write three pages in longhand (pen on paper). Stream of consciousness. Vent about the job search, life in general. If you can’t think of anything to write, write “I can’t think of anything to write” over and over until something occurs to you. Another recommended book is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Since writing is a right-brain activity, try something left-brain: cleaning out files, organizing research, re-organizing notebooks, type up research notes.

Write for fun. Something crazy and wild. Something you’d never submit. Don’t worry about publication.

You know those templates that you get at workshops or are available online? Character sketches, world-building outlines, etc. Fill them out for your WIP.

Read movie blurbs (newspaper, Netflix, TV guide). Take the blurb of a movie you haven’t seen and start writing. Remember, it’s for fun. Or write Fan Fiction. Write an episode of your favorite TV show. (FYI, my high school girlfriend and I used to do that; with ourselves as the main character. 😊).

Write questions about your character (or the plot). If you can’t answer, ask another question. Interview your character. You get to play both roles, interviewer and interviewee (as the character).

Write a short story for Women’s World magazine. They have a Facebook group for potential authors.

Check out OneWord.com. A new word is presented each day. Write about that word for sixty seconds (or longer). That might stimulate an idea.

Watch movies. Binge watch a series. It’s passive, but possibly what you need right now.

Since you have the time, this is a good time to take a writing class. A couple of people recommended classes by Becca Syme, writing coach. If you belong to a writers’ organization (like Romance Writers of America) check their website for classes.

Watch YouTube videos that help your research (e.g., women in Elizabethan or Victorian times.)

Write one paragraph a day on your WIP. The lack of pressure may help you write more, but don’t force it.

Get a writing buddy and go to a coffee shop and write. No internet, turn off your phone, no distractions. Some writers use noise-cancelling headphones for even less distraction.

The best advice, though, was hang in there. Give yourself time to settle into the new “normal” (whatever that is). The desire to write will come back. It’ll take time.

My thanks to the lovely ladies who responded to our friend’s cry for help. We all want her to succeed. In the process, she’s helping all of us who go through the doldrums more often than we’d like.

What do you do to kickstart your Muse?




Thursday, March 7, 2019

How Not to Write a Book (or Do, If You Must; Whatever Gets You Through) by Jane Kindred

It’s been a full year since I turned in the final manuscript for Kindling the Darkness to Harlequin, and with the close of the Nocturne line, I no longer had a contract with deadlines to meet, so I was a bit up in the air about what to do next. When I finally started writing again in June, I thought I could do it at my usual speed, which is three months for a first draft, but September came and went, and by the end of October, I was only at the halfway mark. That’s when I decided to force myself to finish by doing NaNoWriMo and getting the second 50,000 words written in one month. And I did (just barely, with literal minutes to spare.) But then I was left with a disjointed mess.

December was spent doing a read-through to fix typos and glaring errors and adding comments on everything that needed work, and it took the first three weeks of January to get through all the blanks I’d allowed myself to leave so that I could keep moving forward.

To give you an idea of how that phase goes, here’s a sample I posted on Facebook one night:

Things I have googled in the last few hours while going through stand-in text in my manuscript (this covers approximately 20 pages and doesn’t include the numerous thesaurus lookups):

What it’s called when you put an arrow in a bow
How to nock an arrow
How to describe drawing a bow
How to draw a longbow
How to string a bow
Term for shooting an arrow
How fast an arrow flies when shot from a longbow
Average speed of a thrown stone
Average running speed for a human
How the weights on a cuckoo clock work
Origin and first use of the word “tornado”
Types of flowers that grew in Pompeii
Kinds of wild lilies
Where wild lilies grow
The parts of a door
The difference between a sill and a threshold
Classical architecture terms
Military unit names
Military ranks
Victorian-era military uniforms
Herbs for a glamour
Victorian undergarments
History of the corset
Images of shifts
First use of the term “beck and call”
Victorian women’s shoes
Swarming behavior of bees

That last one’s my favorite—it was for a single metaphor.

And those were just what I looked up over the course of a few hours one night. I did this for three weeks, because there were some 1,600 “check this later” placeholders. Imagine the confusion of the FBI agent who almost certainly has to monitor my internet surfing thanks to some of the even odder things I’ve googled for research in the past. Combined with my personal lookups for various diseases I’m certain I’m dying of at any given moment, including Ebola, it must keep them amused.

Once all the blanks were filled in or corrected, the real work started. I took all my comments and made a list of every continuity problem and every scene that didn’t work and went through it one by one. There were 56 items on the list. Here are a few of them:

The title sucks.
Fix garbage scenes with the Keepers.
Decide whether it’s highwaywoman, female highwayman, or just highwayman.
Change name of Yliastr?
Do any of the other spells mentioned come up again? If not, why mention?
Fix references to what Aoife recalls about the glamouring—was she enchanted or not at the time they did it?
Determine topography of Mount Öde.
Is magic an Undine thing? Or just Keepers? Are Keepers sorcerers? Did Aoife become a Keeper because of her interest in magical practice?
Uhhh…where are the rest of the Sylph?
Track timeline and make consistent.


Now, that last one, OMG. I had to stop and make another list just to figure out what I’d screwed up and how to get myself out of it. Here’s how that looked for the first three chapters:

Prologue
Some years ago, who knows how long
Aoife and Ismene sneak into a men’s club. The spell begins to fall.

Chapter 1
Day 1, after dark
Ygraine up to no good, meets Aoife on patrol.

Chapter 2
Same night
Aoife performs ritual, pretends she’s still under the spell to keep Eris from suspecting.

Chapter 3
Day 2
Supply convoy to depart in the morning.
Day 3, evening
Highwaymen jump the convoy and are detained.
Arrive in Farstone, Eris delivers payload while Aoife watches prisoners.

So far so good. There are a few glitches here and there over the next dozen or so chapters—but then we get to Chapter 26. And here’s where things really went wrong (the red is everything that’s essentially impossible given the timeline):

Chapter 26
Day 54 (should be day 59 and 60)
Ygraine and Eris set out for Goblin country with the two conscripts. (Make it clear that it’s been a week before the expedition was approved; add a day to the trip, and have them camp overnight.)

Timing goes haywire here. Hopelessly f****d.

Chapter 27
Day 60
Aoife meets Severin again.
“Days” pass. A ball is announced. (Delete)
Day 63 (should be 60)
Aoife finds out Arania is pregnant on the morning of the ball.
Day 54 (should be 60)
Ygraine and Eris head back to where they left the boys, and only half a day has passed. (Make it night, so this can come after scene above.) They camp that night on the way back to the front.
Day 63 (should be 60)
On the night of the ball, Aoife leaves early after receiving a message from Severin and meets Maebh. (Need to revise this scene since previous Severin scene has been deleted.)
Day 64 (should be 61)
The following day, the blood court is announced.


And it’s pretty much like that for the next five chapters. This resulted in a list of 18 major time discrepancies that needed to be worked out. (And this is also the sort of thing I could have avoided if I’d kept a calendar of the book or even better, actually outlined.) <pause here for laughter> I gave myself permission to leave all of these things until after the first draft was finished, because I knew I’d never get through it otherwise, but I think I’ve pretty much cured myself of ever working this way again. I’m not a plotter, by any means, but I usually have some kind of structure to what I’m doing. I’m honestly amazed I managed to make any of this stuff come together in the end.

It took me eight months, but it’s done at last. Now it’s with my agent. Just waiting to find out whether I’ve been way too hard on myself in suspecting this is the worst thing I’ve ever written or whether I should change my name and run away to Costa Rica and live on a beach.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Priorities by Diane Burton



How many times have you heard someone say, “I want to xxx (write a book, learn to dance, go to Paris . . .)” and they don’t. We all have reasons why we don’t do what we want to do. Not enough time (or money), other plans or obligations, whatever.

I’ve always believed that if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Or, at least try. You have to know what you’re getting yourself into first. Cost in terms of time and money, education, the requirements. Can someone do it for you (e.g., set up a trip to Paris or a website)? Or is this a DIY project?

At many book events, people stop by the booth and say with a sigh, “I don’t have time to read.” I find that so sad. That person is missing out on a world beyond their doorstep. Reading takes us to places we’ll never visit. For me, it’s space and other planets. Same for Australia or China. Too far, too expensive. But, I can read about those places and vicariously visit.

Or, they’ll say, “I always wanted to write a book.” In high school, my girlfriend and I wrote stories (now called Fan Fiction, only we didn’t know it at the time) in which we wrote ourselves into a current TV show and, of course, the hero fell in love with us. We never considered that would be the end of the show. LOL

Like many adults, I put away childish things (like writing), got a job, married, had a family. I still read like crazy, though. When my kids headed off to college, I decided it was My Time. And I decided to write a book. That was over twenty-five years ago. With the exception of a couple of years’ hiatus, I haven’t stopped. Writing is a priority.

I just mentioned a hiatus. My priorities changed. As much as I wanted to write, family obligations came first.

Ghandi’s quote makes so much sense. What we do, says what our priorities are. That’s the difference between what we say we want and what we actually do.

I came across that quote after I missed another posting date. I don’t like what that says about my priorities.





Monday, March 4, 2019

Flashing Through The Snow

The snow that's falling today is plentiful, but my thoughts of what to share with you today are not. 

It could be the multitude of changes in my life over the past few months, or it could be the recent losses I've endured that lead me to this piece of flash fiction I wrote about 8 years ago. 

 A few years ago I spent a lot of time writing flash fiction. These are tiny bites of stories, or ones that are complete with a limited number of words. You might find these types of stories in a magazine, or on a blog. They're often a challenge to write, but really work those writing muscles and make you realize how important each word is when you have to be concise to a very limited number of words.

So for those who have tired of the snow and cold of winter, I offer this piece of flash fiction.

Winter Solstice 


    "But the doctor said—"
            “I don’t care!” Marge pushed past John into their son’s room.
            “Hey sweetheart.” She smiled while kneeling to stroke David’s cheek. “Want to meet Mr. Winter in person?”
            David struggled to focus on her. “Really?” 
            “Yes.” Marge wrapped the comforter around him and scooped him up.  Walking over to the window, she nudged the wheelchair out of the way. “Look, he’s been waiting to meet you.”  
            David squinted at the glistening snowman.  
            John held the back door open as Marge exited with the bundle barely resembling their rambunctious six year old.
            She cradled her son while easing into the chair placed by the snowman. While pulling the comforter from David’s face, a breeze ruffled his sparse, blonde hair. “How does he look?” 
             David studied his frosty friend. “He’s missing something.”  
            “I know,” Marge pulled a plastic pipe from her pocket.  “You always put it in.”
            David smiled and she helped him grip the pipe.  Leaning forward, they pushed it into the snowy smile.  
            David’s smiled faded. “He won’t be here much longer.”
            Marge hugged her son. “You’re wrong. He’s part of everything.” She kissed David’s forehead. “The rain that makes the flowers grow, or creates a rainbow,” she traced her finger down his cheek. “Or cooling the Fall winds until the snow returns.”  
            “So…he’s not really gone.”     
            “No,” Marge looked into eyes that matched her own and pressed David’s hand to her heart as her tears fell and absorbed into the snow. “He’s always here.”

Do You Ever Write, or Read, Flash Fiction?



Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Nine Nifty Ways to Kick the Winter Blues to the Curb


I get the Winter Blahs every year. All the rest of the year, I am a cheerful, optimistic person.  I get a little gloomy in December and January, but it’s the middle of February and on through March when I bottom out. It started when I was a kid. Between then and now, I have developed a fairly robust set of countermeasures.

Light therapy and even medication are options if things get serious. At this point for me, I know the nature of this beast and I’m prepared.

1. Drink. Yes, sunshine in a bottle comes in many forms—some with alcohol and some without. Even if you don’t have a favorite alcoholic tipple, you should be drinking water. No sugary drinks do the job a clear, cold glass of water—actually eight glasses of water per day—will do. A little wine or (my personal favorite) Scotch can also chase away the blues for a little while, though moderation is the key lest ye find the demons double in number the next morning.

2. Exercise. Bounce around. Dance. Have sex. Walk. Whatever floats your boat.  Get the blood pumping and make the most of what little sunshine there is by doing it outside—except for the sex unless you live in a more liberal neighborhood than do I. Putting your body in a little physical stress takes your mind off the blues. Plus, if you set a goal (walk 2 miles, dance all the way through the song, or have sex in every room in the house) and you achieve it—you get that boost from a job well done to boot.

3. Do puzzles or play games. Yes, those video games take you out of your body and that’s what you want when you are depressed. Moderation is again the key. Use them as a reward for accomplishing one little thing. I mean, I get to the point where I don’t even want to shower when the blahs are bad. So I set the goal to do a little personal hygiene or house cleaning and then play a game when I finish. For instance, finishing this blog post will net me at least two games of Free Cell.

Note: taking a bubble bath while sipping wine and listening to music after which you reward yourself with a quality hour with the Sims checks a lot of boxes.

4. Listen to music. Upbeat music is the best, something salsa maybe. Being a Goth, I have musical taste similar to that of Morticia Addams, though I would add a set of bagpipes. I listen to classic rock along with traditional and modern Scottish stuff—The Red Hot Chili Pipers (yes, that’s pipers, not peppers. They are a bagrock band on a quest to prove any song sounds good when played on bagpipes) and Run Rig (a Scottish rock group from way back who sing some songs in Scots Gaelic.)

5. Steer clear of downers. If you have acquaintances or family members who gripe constantly, stay away from them in February and March. Tell them you have the flu or you don’t want to get the flu or you have been exposed to the flu—whatever it takes to get them off your back. I have one family member who loves to tell me about the latest tragedy he’s heard on the news in glorious detail. He especially enjoys stories where kids have been senseless killed by accident. I don’t need that right now, thank you.

6. Watch your diet. Some foods add to depression and some foods lift you out of it. Citrus fruit makes you happy—so do almonds and dark chocolate. Vegetables are light and generally make your tummy happy while heavy meats and pastries can bog you down. Too much sugar or bread leads to the blahs once the high wears off. Caffeine is a two-edged sword—take it easy and eat to avoid the jitters.

7. Watch silly movies or binge great TV series. I like monster movies like Tremors or Jurassic Park. Silly horror movies—not slasher movies, but really good scary tales. Nothing helps you forget the blues better than the feeling something is coming for you from the basement. TV series with multiple seasons make a wonderful diversion. Frankie and Grace are fun to binge or maybe old BBC shows like Midsommer Murders, Hamish MacBeth, Father Ted. I’m in season 2 of Murder in Paradise now.

8. Read. Grab a new author (I can recommend any number of them) and binge everything they’ve written. Or revisit a favorite classic. Or a classic you’ve meant to read and never have. Find a great story and jump in. You can hide there for days.

9. Plan for next year. I always plan to take a Caribbean cruise in February but I’ve never been able to follow through. I plan to go south for Mardi Gras or to the Keys, but it hasn’t happened yet. Still, the planning is part of the fun and maybe next year . . . . . Feel free to donate to my Sorchia’s Winter Blahs Prevention Fund.

I joke, but Seasonal Affective Depression affects—to varying degrees--around 20% of those living in North America. It’s a real thing and it really happens. Like any other kind of depression, SAD can limit the quality of life and can even manifest in thoughts of suicide. (In my case, it’s more like thoughts of homicide, but . . .) If you or someone you know gets SAD, be extra gentle and be vigilant.

Your turn! 

Do you get the Winter Blahs or know someone who does? 
What remedies seem to work? 
Even now, at the ripe age of mumblety-two, I still get caught short on some gloomy March days. 
What is your best emergency Blues deterrent?

BTW--I do a little writing to chase away the blues, too. This
year, I posted a serial story titled "A Cold Spring" on this blog and on my own blog, Sorchia's Universe. The story is finished and you can read the entire timey-wimey tale of witches and curses HERE.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Good Bones on Sale for 99 Cents

Still Moments Magazine Novel of the Year
on sale for 99 cents until March 1


Good Bones
by L. A. Kelley

If the living won’t get justice for the dead, who will?


No matter how challenging the case, psychologist Katherine Fleming never shirks from helping a patient confront a painful issue. Her keen powers of observation and compassionate nature have eased many troubled souls, but a homicide detective with a buried secret of his own stirs more than just clinical interest.

The first time Detective Jake Sumner spied the old house, he sensed the good bones. Little did he know the purchase of the property included an unusual tenant far from resting in peace. Can the new psychologist in town help him treat a ghostly trauma case or is his growing attraction to Katherine Fleming best left buried?  

With the aid of a mysterious white cat and a mystical mirror, Katherine and Jake join forces to solve a murder. Can they stop a killer from claiming the next victim or will their investigation only lead them six feet under?


Excerpt

Jake flicked on the light. Other than faded floral wallpaper, the single decoration on the walls was a large antique gilded mirror. The glass was old, dotted with hazy black splotches where the reflective silver coating had worn away. Katherine’s image was blurred and barely recognizable. She ran a finger over the window sill, and it came away covered in dust. “Your tenant is a lousy housekeeper. This room doesn’t seem as if anyone has been in here in years.”

“Yeah,” Jake murmured. “It’s not her thing.”
“I don’t understand,” said Katherine. “Where is she?” Without warning, the temperature plummeted. Katherine shivered, hugging her arms to her chest. “Why is it so cold?”
Jake’s lips pressed together in a thin, tight line, his gaze fixed on the mirror.
Click…click…click…click.
The lamp flicked on and off. Katherine’s pulse soared. “Detective?”
Jake glowered at the lamp, his face red with anger. He grabbed Katherine’s arm. “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have brought you here—”
The French doors slammed shut. From outside came a muted thud as the front door closed as well. Katherine shrugged off Jake’s grip. “W-what are you doing? This isn’t funny.”
“It’s not me.” He peered at the mirror. “I’m sorry, Dr. Fleming. This is a bad idea. We should go now.”
Don’t leave me.                          
“W-who said that?” Katherine turned around to face the mirror. Her eyes widened in horror as the black splotches slid toward the center of the glass. “Trick.” Katherine clutched at her shirt. “It must be a trick.”
The blotches whirled together. A misty shape formed. Arms…legs…now torso…now head…an image of a person appeared from inside the gilded frame. Facial features blurred beyond recognition, but the body was definitely female. Katherine’s legs refused to move, a scream died on her lips. Shaking, she raised a trembling arm. Instead of mimicking her movement, the reflection remained rooted in place. “T-that’s not me.”
A plaintive whisper filled the air. Help.
A blast of frigid wind whipped the curtains and knocked Katherine into Jake. With the sound of breaking glass, a vaporous arm separated from the mirror and reached toward her.
Help me…
“Out now!” Jake dragged Katherine across the room. He yanked open the parlor doors and shoved her into the foyer.
Please…
The unearthly plea followed Katherine out of the house.
Pllleeeaaassseee
Jake slammed the front door shut behind them. The muted cry faded away.


Author Bio
I write fantasy and science fiction adventures with humor, and a little romance because life is dull without them. I don’t write either sexy naughty bits or gore so your mama would approve, but do add a touch of cheeky sass so maybe she wouldn’t. The South is home; a place where the heat and humidity have driven everyone slightly mad. In my spare time I call in Bigfoot sightings to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. They are heartily sick of hearing from me.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Don’t Worry, Be Happy! Getting into a Healthy Morning Routine by Nancy Gideon

I’m a morning person. Always have been. When I began my writing career with a preschooler and new baby at home then later took on a full-time job, I quickly learned the path to accomplishing anything for myself meant finding the one of least resistance. That meant snatching up those hours unused by the rest of the family. For a stay-at-home writing mother, that was easy – when the kids were at school. But during those summer months and then with the 9-to-5s, I carved out a niche no one else wanted – those hours before daybreak. With the help of my Keurig, 4:30 a.m. was my best friend.


But for me, older didn’t mean wiser - it meant less energy. My daybreak inspiration came later and later until I found myself using those precious hours on Social Media and promotion instead of using them to create. I was stressed, exhausted and mentally on empty, dragging through the days, cranky, depressed and unproductive at the keyboard. Until a critique group weekend opened my eyes to how miserable I was. Though I dabbled in New Agey things like Tarot and energies, I never fully embraced them until sitting across from a spiritual reader who took my hands and said, “You are surrounded by negative energy and you need to take your life back.” Talk about a wake-up call! The other revelation from that weekend was the key to turning that energy around – surrendering a little more of that precious time to get back a huge return – a new outlook on life, energy to spare, calm in the face of any storm, and a great night’s sleep. By starting (and ending) each day with a few minutes of mediation to get mind, body and spirit on the same page, I discovered the best five minute (and growing) investment I’ve ever made. I’m back to taking on those early to rise days by storm.

The above was underlined by a series of uplifting articles on facing the light of day (and the rest of it) with an optimism and focus. Pop over to 49 Ways to Have a Happy Morning Now and you can thumb through them at your leisure, but here are my favorite takeaways.


The Power Hour!

It’s science backed (don’t take my word for it). By adding a “power hour” to the start of your day, you can focus better, accomplish more, and zen your way to creativity. Here’s what you pack into that first eye opening 60 minutes:
  1. Wake up earlier. Start in increments (go to bed 15 minutes earlier-rise 15 minutes earlier). You need that good night’s sleep so don’t scrimp there. Give your internal compass time to recalibrate by taking baby steps.
  2. Immediately stretch (for 2 minutes). That fully body yawn and overhead reach to embrace the day gets stiffness out and loosens muscles.
  3. Meditate (10 minutes). I started with 2 minutes and am working my way up. Meditation prepares your mind and rewires the brain to increase contentment, heighten awareness, lower stress, and improve the immune system. My path is simple. Start with an Intention (something you want to bring into your life or discover i.e. “Show me what I need to know to find the inspiration to write”)–then focus on four point/ four count breathing – in deep through the nose for four counts, hold for four counts, out through the mouth for four counts, hold for four counts and repeat, concentrating on the rhythm of your body. If thoughts intrude, gently push them away and go back to focusing on your heartbeat and breaths. This is one time an empty head is good thing!You can also use mediation apps to guide your relaxation. I was amazed by how my stress faded to a lasting calm that very first day. And I started sleeping like a rock.
  4. Exercise (15 minutes). Yeah, the E-word. Do this before eating.You can go with a high impact routine or low-impact walking. Both get the blood flowing and reduce sugar cravings. Bonus points if you can throw in fresh air outside (in a few months, maybe)! Try a yoga routine, hand weights, a stationary bike – whatever gets the heart pumping and joints jiving
  5. Set your goals for the day (10 minutes). Write them down - I use a paper planner that helps me escape social media distractions.Remember to make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and within a Time frame. Beginning the day with a purpose keeps you focused.
  6. Fuel up at the pump (10 minutes) with a healthy breakfast. Fiber, protein, fruits. Prime that engine for the day. It won’t run on empty.


Try an App to track your happiness – Say whaaaat? Here are a few: Happify, My Gratitude Journal, Headspace (meditation), Real Life Change (a portable life coach!), iMood Journal to measure and graph mind and body functions, Worry Watch to track and overcome anxiety, and even Daylio to emoji your way through the day.


Be consistent. Build up your successes. You don’t have to dramatically change your lifestyle overnight. Those steady, daily steps make the climb achievable (and they’re not so hard on the knees).And don’t forget to remind yourself WHY you’re making these changes so you’ll recognize them when they start showing up.

Finally, start your morning with Happy Quotes – Inspiration that gets the day going in the right positive direction. Here’s a sample:


Now, excuse me while I breathe my way into a focused day.

Ooooooom!
♚♚♚♚♚
Nancy Gideon on the Web