Sunday, February 25, 2018

Stepping Back in Time by Nancy Gideon

A quick confession – My next release isn’t a paranormal. So why am I posting about it here? Because in getting it reissued, it gave me the ability to travel in time! TaDa! Time travel – paranormal, right?

SWEET TEMPEST, a historical romance set in the Regency era, was my first published book back in the ‘80s (!) written under the pen name Lauren Giddings. It was a learning experience. I wrote it (all 160,000 words!) by hand in a notebook while watching my 2-year old play in the sandbox, typed out the outline (I didn’t know it was called a synopsis. I’d never even spoken to another writer at that time) and the first three chapters on a Smith Corolla and mailed it randomly to names picked from the library copy of Fiction Writers Market. And got a letter back from New York asking to see the entire book. It wasn’t even typed! Out it went and in two weeks, I got THE CALL from Caryn Taylor Richman of Zebra Kingston. That was 68 or so releases ago.

Your first is always special. It’s the trial run that proves you’ve got the right stuff. After a second printing, SWEET TEMPEST disappeared off the shelves and I never thought readers would get the chance to read it again. Until I got the rights back and Tell-Tale Publishing asked to rerelease it in print and e-book. Now, here’s the time travel part.


How often do you wish you had a second chance to go back and revisit the past, to change things and make them better? Rereleases are like that. You remember those occasional stinging criticisms from readers/reviewers that urged you to improve your craft and now, you can address them. But should you? Should a rerelease return in pristine condition, warts and all? (SWEET TEMPEST was barely copy edited, going almost right from my typewriter into print!). I took the risk of altering the Time Space Continuum and got to work, using what I know now and applying it to what I was clueless about – and was readily acceptable – back then.

Somethings I left alone. I had no time to rewrite character motivation or plotlines, but I did do repair and cosmetic surgery in these areas (which I now apply to all final edits):
  1. Get the facts right. Back before Google or the internet or computers, for that matter, there was the library and locally, it was limited when it came to Regency-era details. Now, there are groups and chapters, endless blogs and search engines to find proper titles and currency rates for the time. Research is timeless. Facts is facts. Make sure yours are right!
  2. Reduce the flab. In this age of endless dieting, I now know how to trim the fat! Over 25,000 words worth. Unnecessary backstory later actively revealed in dialog, tedious descriptions of every rug and hallway, overweight sentences filled with cliched metaphors and similes and dialog tags, showing instead of telling – all of which add to unhealthy, lazy bulk in a book - deleted. Development of walk-through extras who serve no purpose to story movement - cut.
  3. Tone the sentences. I gave my text a rigorous workout, stripping away passive dead weight words like “was, is, are, were, and there was,” cut wimpy phrasing like “she felt, he realized, they tried to,” and pumped up the pace with active writing tense and power verbs that moved the reader along at a compelling tempo instead of letting them languish. Some proper wording was purposefully left to establish an age-appropriate feel.
  4. Gave Prose a facelift. The first page of my debut novel featured paragraphs containing three different points of view! Back then, who knew what a POV was, let alone DEEP POV. Writers (and editors and readers) have become educated in the last 30 years. Those head-hopping scenes where everyone from the butler in the hall to the cat in corner voiced an opinion are . . . things of the past. While I was at it, I updated formatting preferences. Hundreds of semi-colons were sacrificed. Spelling and wrong word usage errors were corrected for consistency.
If I’d had more time, I’d have done another pass, but I was content to let SWEET TEMPEST go with a few past blemishes as a reminder of its place in my professional growth timeline. Will those who read the original notice my behind-the-scenes makeovers? Probably not. Unless it’s that one unnecessarily mean Golden Medallion (now RITA) judge who would have made me give up writing if I hadn’t already been under contract. But then, without her comments, perhaps I wouldn’t have toughened up and learned and been able to make this journey back to the ‘80s to enjoy the process all over again. So, thanks Judge #3, you made the trip worthwhile!

SWEET TEMPEST is available for e-book preorder and will be (re)released February 28, 2018!

Happy travels fellow PNRers!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pre-Order Now!

A Fetching Robber, An Unscrupulous Rogue and A Daring Risk . . . to Die For

SWEET TEMPEST

By Nancy Gideon w/a Lauren Giddings

A crafty scheme that doesn't exactly go as planned . . . 

A Thief of hearts . . . 

A female of Tempest Swift's brains and beauty should be fending off suitors, not hiding in the shadows boldly robbing coaches. But lean times leave her with a family to provide for . . . until shot from her horse while making her escape. Waking as the pampered prisoner of a sinfully handsome gentleman has her pulse pounding for all the wrong reasons. His suggestion she be his mistress is shocking enough, but he has more on his clever mind . . .

A Desperate noble . . . 

Cut from a longed for inheritance due to hell-bent living, a foiled robbery provides Connor Amberson with an daring solution, passing off a ragamuffin thief as his long-lost cousin to win back his grandfather's favor. But producing the supposed sole survivor of a tragic accident stirs dangerous troubles, both from those hungry to inherit and within Connor's jaded heart, as his true reward becomes something he never expected . . . until about to lose it.

Nancy Gideon's debut romance, written as Lauren Giddings

SWEET TEMPEST

Sassy, Sexy and Sinister, and finally back in print!

Watch for the return of Bartered Bride, available soon.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nancy Gideon on the Web


Friday, February 23, 2018

The Witch Who Came to Dinner: Another Tall-Tale by Francesca Quarto


"The guest list must reflect our place in society.  We must invite only the high-born and well-connected, or our own standing will be in question."
Their "standing" as she called it, was already in question as far as her husband was concerned. He was reluctant to add more phony, posturing, narcissistic peacocks to their already long list of such.  If these represented the "cream of society" as his wife was constantly reminding him, he believed the cream had long ago curdled!  
"My love, haven't we sufficient to fill our table by now?  I do believe every Lord and Lady from within a day's journey, has been sent an invitation." 
He knew full-well, his wife would never change her adamant pursuit of even the lowliest of creatures if they had a title attached to their name.  She merely gave him one of her steely looks now, and he quietly withdrew to his study.
Sitting behind his empty desk, its gleaming walnut surface held only his dark reflection since he had turned the household affairs over to his young wife.  He was twice her age and looked the fool, he knew, to all his contemporaries,  but she was beautiful and filled with an extraordinary appetite for life.
These were qualities his first wife, Corrella, lacked in equal portion.  While he sat on his large leather chair he did what he did best; daydreamed.
Corella was a plain woman, well past her prime, if indeed she ever had one, when they married.  With her frumpy dress and shy demeanor,  there were occasions when visitors would shove their cloaks and hats at her, as she came to greet them, mistaking her for a servant and not the Lady of the Manor.
It always galled her husband, but Corella never seemed to take notice of the slights.  Her staff adored her and though their union brought no children to bear his name, her husband lived a quiet, if unexciting life, for the better part of fifteen years.  
It all ended in a mystery that was yet to be resolved to his satisfaction.  Corella went to call on an elderly villager who worked as their groundskeepers assistant.  His health was failing and true to her caring spirit, Corella packed a large hamper with provisions and set off alone in their small carriage.
​​​​​​​It was a blustery day in February, and she covered her legs in furs and told the stable boy he needn't go along as she'd be back before sunset.  They waited the noon dinner for her, then the evening meal and still, she didn't appear.  By full dark, her husband had staged an extensive search for her, arriving at the old man's cottage first.  There he learned his wife had never arrived.
That was two  years past and her husband's loneliness put him squarely in the sights of his second wife; that along with his vast estate and holdings.  Oh, the older husband welcomed, even enthused over the attentions of the beautiful young woman and when she suggested they marry so she could care for him in his declining years, he tripped over his tongue saying yes!
The dinner party lacked one more female to balance the table.  His wife interrupted his melancholic daydreams, saying he needed to think of someone who could add amusement to the party.
"Well my dear, there is that strange woman that lives deep in Farley Wood; she's a widow I hear and enjoys a reputation for having the ability to commune with those that have passed on.  Total rubbish, but..."
"She'll do nicely.  Have your man run this invitation over to her manse immediately!" she said imperiously, her sweeping gown giving finality to her command.
He sighed and did as she bid.
The following two days were hectic with activity and the evening of the dinner found the Lady of the House caught up in her toilette and picking and discarding gowns like fallen fruit in a colorful orchard.  Her elderly husband retreated into his study where he sipped a sherry and dwelled on the prospect of the rest of his earthly days. This required another sherry.
There was an insistent knocking on the closed door and he was startled out of his reveries. 
"Your Lordship, your first guest has arrived and her Ladyship is unavailable.  I'm uncertain what to do with the Lady."
Leaving the empty sherry glass, but enjoying a bit of after glow along with a slight twinge in his stomach, the master of the house went to greet the lady who arrived unfashionably on time. 
She stood with her slightly hunched back back to him, gazing into the fire that snapped and crackled in the hearth.  
"Madame, I fear we were unprepared for your arrival," he was saying as she turned.
Her hideous features nearly unmanned him on the spot.  He stepped back until his legs bumped into the small sofa and he plopped down like a country bumpkin rather than the country Squire.
She smiled at his disconcerted response, showing greenish teeth that appeared to have been filed to fine points.  Her swarthy complexion told of many days in the hot sun, with its leathery look and deep lines.  Her eyes were a bold black and seemed to study her host as if an appetizer before dinner.  Her hands were gnarled like an ancient walnut tree limb and the long fingers she intertwined as if in prayer, were tipped with talon-like finger nails, yellowed and hardened with age.
"Do forgive me Madame, I seem to have had a bit too much sherry without the buffer of food against its effects.  Can I assume you are our neighbor from Farley Wood?" he asked struggling to stand.
Her voice was like a carriage wheel turning without  benefit of oil, and now rough with grit and dust.
"I am Madame LaCroix, good sir, and my tiny estate, Farley Wood has sadly kept us from previous meetings.  But be assured, I know all about you and your dear wife.  In fact, I am pleased to do your Calling  this very evening."
"My...Calling?  I'm terribly sorry, Madame LaCroix, but I have no idea what you mean by that.  Perhaps you have confused this evening's event with another.  Tonight, we dine together in convivial companionship."
When she moved closer to him, he unconsciously leaned back further into the sofa.  She stood looking down on him, stretching her blackish lips into a terrible smile.
"You must allow me to perform this service sir, or suffer the rest of your days living with your shrewish young wife."
"Madame! You speak slander I fear!  Have you not come in answer to our invitation, or have you used this as an excuse to harass me?"
"You are a good man, my Lord, but simple in the ways of the designing woman you wed in your loneliness.  I am here to extend another chance for happiness to be yours. "
He had listened to this intently and wanted to refute her statement, but as he opened his mouth, the old crone blew a dark red mist from her own dark mouth into his startled face.  He breathed deeply in his shock and gulped for air, soon falling back and into a deep sleep.
The witch, for that was her proper title, swept threw the foyer in her black garb, past the startled face of the door maid and up the circular marble stairs.  Finding the rooms the Lady of the house occupied was simple; she merely listened for the constant complaints and hectoring voice and followed.
Throwing open the door and pointing to the lady's maid to leave, which she did, grateful to be free of her abusing Mistress,  the witch stepped over the scattered dresses, avoided the boxes or discarded shoes and came closer and closer to the stunned Lady.
"Wha...Who...How...?" the Lady stuttered weakly.  
The witch drew even closer to the gibbering woman, speaking in her gravely croak.
"I will now give you the freedom you want from your husband, just not in the manner you expected with his death.  For I've seen you slowly kill him with small doses of rat poison, put into his sherry, his hot milk at bedtime, you even planned a larger dose for this evening's meal, putting it into the plain wine he prefers, to your own exclusive tastes, so you and your guests would never be in danger.   
You have drained him dry of his joy in a life lived simply.  You are greedy for all he possess and give nothing to his pleasures, not even your cold bed.  I shall now take it all back from you with your own death."
As she moved closer, the Lady screamed out, "You can't do me harm..all will hear my cries." She immediately began caterwauling like a banshee on a spike, but no one came.
"They are all under my spell and now you pay." 
A dark red mist settled around the old hag and the beautiful young woman, but when it cleared only the young wife remained.  In body only that is,  since the witch took full possession of the lovely form, running her hands down the slim waist and smoothing the lace bodice with a lovely smile. 
Dressing carefully, she returned the staff to their own normal states and reentered the small room his Lordship sat upon the sofa.  He was staring at her when she entered and when she leaned over and kissed his cheek, he jumped to his feet as if stung by a wasp.
She came close to his rather stout middle,  getting on tip toes she  give him a deep kiss, his sherry flavored breath  filling her beautifully shaped nose. 
This time his Lordship staggered backwards and but for her strong young arms, would have collapsed onto the floor.
"Madame, this is...this ...what has happened to you?"
"Tonight we shall entertain our guests and when we are done with the lot of them you shall come to my bed chambers and I will warm your body."
Dinner guests began arriving before he could process all that had happened, especially the promise of the night to be spent in his beautiful wife's bed. 
He ate sparingly, but drank copiously, unnoticed by his suddenly adoring wife.  He'd already finished an extraordinary bottle of French wine and the server, knowing his love of the plainer bottle of red, poured until it too was finished.
The witch, in possession of the lovely body of the young wife, finally realized what had happened.
Before dessert was served, his Lordship was standing to give a toast to his beautiful wife at the end of the long table.  With his last words "my treasure" he fell over, squarely landing in his gold dinner plate.
The witch wanted nothing to do with being a Lady and soon after the funeral , returned to her natural habitat in the deep woods.  Waiting for another to stumble upon her door as the unfortunate Corella had done all those years ago.  
Not liking the plain, homely face and figure of the frumpy  Corella, the witch disposed of her and waited for something more appealing to continue her long, endless existence.  When the invitation came to attend the dinner at the home of the reputedly most beautiful woman in the region, well, it was irresistible.
Life can take such unexpected turns can't it?



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

14 Signs of a Great Romance

I know we're almost a week past Valentine's Day, but in the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to look at healthy romantic relationship today...

As a romance author, the entire point of my books is to create a romance between two (fictional) people which ends happily ever after. But what does a great romance look like?

Romance and all things romantic can be different for different people. Some think of romance as gifts and dinners. Some think of it as supporting each other through the daily grind. There's a reason why there are boatloads of books on Love Languages and communication between men and women. Because keeping a good relationship in the healthy and functioning category takes dedication and effort.

Rather than writing about my own opinion of a great romance, I thought I'd go with what various experts say are signs of a healthy relationship. Because, for me, a great romance isn't all flowers and pretty words. A great romance always has a happily ever after--in other words a healthy, productive relationship which lasts after the final credits or the book is over.

Think about your favorite romance novels or movies. Which of those romances embody many (or even all) of the following traits of a healthy relationship?
  1. You Communicate
  2. You Trust Each Other
  3. You Speak Your Mind
  4. You Like Yourself and Your Partner
  5. You Let Things Go
  6. You Make Joint Decisions
  7. You Talk to Your Partner Before Others
  8. You Support Each Other in Growth Opportunities
  9. You are Friends
  10. You Keep Your Individual Identity
  11. You Fight (Productively)
  12. You are Willing to Put "We" Before "Me"
  13. You Inspire Each Other to Be Better
  14. You Enjoy Each Other
HAPPY (Belated) VALENTINE'S DAY!

P.S. Personal addition to the list, sign #15: You don't wait for Valentine's Day to say "I Love You!"

Resources
14 Signs You're in a Healthy Relationship, REAL SIMPLE Magazine
6 Sure Signs of a Healthy Relationship, Psychology Today
8 Signs You're In the Right Relationship, Huffington Post
10 Signs You're in a Healthy Relationship, Life Hack
15 Signs You're in a Healthy Relationship, Glamor

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

St. Valentine

Wondering why it's Valentines Day?

San Valentino, officially Saint Valentine of Rome, is a widely recognized 3rd-century Roman saint commemorated on February 14 and since the High Middle Ages has been associated with love.
All that is reliably known of the saint commemorated on February 14 is his name and that he was martyred and buried at a cemetery close to the Ponte Milvio, north of Rome. It is uncertain whether St. Valentine is two different Saints. Because so little is reliably known of him, in 1969 the Catholic Church removed his name from the General Roman Calendar, leaving his liturgical celebration to local calendars. 
English 18th-century antiquarians, Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine's identity, suggested that Valentine's Day be observed to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia. This idea has lately been dismissed by other researchers. However, many of the current legends that characterize Saint Valentine were invented in the 14th century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer, when the feast day first became associated with romantic love.

Wishing you a very Happy Valentine's Day!

Linda

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#Valentine's Day and #Cupid by Diane Burton


In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of desire. Born of Venus (goddess of love) and Mars (god of war), Cupid represents the fine edge between love and war. He’s often depicted as a blindfolded infant with bow and arrow--blindfolded, because love is often blind. When his arrow pierces a human heart, the person is filled with uncontrollable desire. A little known tidbit is that he has two arrows. The sharp one is for desire. The dull one ends it. That just shows how capricious he (desire) can be.


In Greek mythology, his name is Eros, from which comes our word erotic. While the image we’re most familiar with is the infant, Greeks portrayed him as a virile, young man.

However he is portrayed, at this time of year, we’ll find Cupid on cards, as a stuffed toy, even a dragon. A long time ago, I bought this toy for my Hubs. While Hubs got a kick out of the dragon, he’s a bigger hit with the grandkids (as evidenced by his worn look. (He used to stand up straight.) He plays the Sam Cooke’s 1961 classic "Cupid."


"Cupid Draw back your bow
And let your arrow go
Straight to my lover’s heart for me.”


Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone and may Cupid help you find your true love.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Developing Your Abundance Mojo

We’ve all had those days when everything seems to just flow. Karma smiles at you and opens up a front-row parking space. You arrive at all your appointments on time—no, early. Some days are luckier than others, right?
But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?

The answer is quite simple. We live in a vibrational reality governed by the law of attraction, which states: that which I like unto itself is drawn.

Or, in the words of Albert Einstein: everything is energy and that is all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy, this is physics.


Wow. Match the frequency of the reality you want. So, if I want to attract abundance, love, money and success, how do I find that frequency?

I belong to a Ritual Muses group, and we’ve each committed to expanding our daily personal Goddess practice. I believe that is how we can also raise our own individual vibration.

Juliette Kristine, a personal manifestation coach, has written extensively on this topic. She has come up with some techniques to raise your vibration and attract more money and success. I’ve drawn from her ideas, as well as from our Ritual Muses discussions, to come up with a list of my own below.

But first, take some advice from one who is learning her lesson the hard way. In order to see results, you must start with baby steps, and then be consistent. I vowed to get up at sunrise to meditate and do my sun salutations. . I’ve been trying to do this for a week, and have only succeeded once. That’s because I had some other habits I had to modify first in order to be successful, specifically, getting into bed before 1:00am. As my baby step last week, I incrementally moved my bedtime schedule up two hours earlier. Now, hopefully I’ll be able to see those sunrises.

Here are some techniques and exercises to raise your vibration and attract prosperity.

1.    Reprogram your subconscious

 Every repetitive thought or belief has a corresponding neural pathway that in turn affects our energy and vibration. Science has brought to light the ability to measure the different frequencies including the frequencies of different thoughts.

Interestingly, negative thoughts like anger, worry, fear, feeling unworthy and guilt measure low on the scale, while positive thoughts like love, forgiveness, and abundance thinking higher measurements.

Our money vibrations are influenced by what we have learned about money from our parents and family. T. Harv Ecker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, says this is our ‘money blueprint,’ the very foundation that guides our unconscious and conscious decisions. To change it, you must first be aware of what your blueprint is. If you have a poverty mindset/vibration, even if you win the lottery, that money will not stick with you.

The various poverty beliefs—the thoughts and actions that determine your vibration: feeling unworthy, undeserving, blind spending, feeling obligated to a lifestyle, irresponsibility, etc.—will all contribute to the loss of the money and prosperity that comes your way.

Ecker says the key to changing your money vibration is to investigate your life and beliefs.

Questions to ask yourself as you investigate:
·       What are my automatic thoughts about rich people, money and wealth? Do I think money is the root of all evil? Do I think most rich people are crooked and that’s why they are rich? To become rich, do I think I must use people and take advantage of them? Is it morally unjust for me to be wealthy while others have nothing?
·       What are my greatest fears regarding having money and wealth? If I become wealthy, will people be jealous of me, or hassle me for loans?
·       Does the thought of having money make me guilty? Do I not deserve wealth? Does becoming wealthy depend on luck? Do I think I cannot become wealthy doing exactly what I love? Is it harder for a woman to become wealthy?

1.    Reset your personal Money Blueprint

There is scientific evidence of the neuroplasticity of the mind. It is physically changeable if you give it what it needs to change. 

Imagination, visualization, cognitive repetition, affirmations, meditation, and exposure to different thoughts, beliefs and life experiences in repetitive ways, all are methods to “plastify” your mind into a new way of looking at something.

So, once you have answered and analyzed the questions above, pick the top 10 statements/beliefs that you want to change. Write them on a piece of paper. Then create an opposing positive statement for each negative belief. For example: The original statement is “I am not good with money.” The new, positive statement might be, “I am a good money manager.”

Look deeply at your thoughts about rich people. Observe, and try not to let your mind engage in criticizing or judging. If you have a belief system that says, “I don’t want to be one of those greedy rich people,” you’re unconsciously blocking your ability to bring and manifest money toward you. Again, turn your negative thought into a positive affirmation.

2.    Start and end your day with a positive affirmation
Create a list of all the positive statements around you and money, wealth and prosperity. The more personal the better. Write them all down, or record them and put them on your phone or ipod. Play them or Read them out loud as you go to bed at night, and again during your first routine of the day, as you have your cup of coffee perhaps. If you do this while doing another activity, you engage several parts of your brain at once. The more you meditate on the new thoughts, the stronger the neural imprint.

Here are some sample positive statements to give you ideas:
* I am a good money manager
* My ability to earn money is expanding
* I am a magnet for prosperity
* Money comes to me easily and effortlessly
* I deserve prosperity
* When I am wealthy, my true friends and family will like me just as I am today

* I am a generous giver and a gracious receiver

3.    Raise your serotonin and dopamine levels
When your body is producing more serotonin and dopamine you feel more joyful and relaxed naturally. These positive emotions send a signal to the universe, and in turn, attract more good vibrations back to you. Hence my striving for morning sun salutations and meditation. You could also play with your animals, take a walk in nature, or whistle while sweeping your front stoop

1.    Nourish yourself

Skipping breakfast can give you sugar cravings and raise your cortisol levels, making you feel stressed and anxious. 

Whether you consider yourself a breakfast person or not, eat a small, protein-based meal in the morning. Pay attention to how it makes you feel the rest of the day.


4.   Meditate and Visualize

My favorite meditation is to work my way up my spine and through each chakra as I perform yoga stretches and positions. 

   If you have difficulty meditating on your own, www.Juliettekristine.com/mini-manifesting-ritual/ offers a free copy of a mini ritual to focus on your goals and bring your life into alignment with them.

Being clear and focused is incredibly important. To change your money blueprint, spend daily time visualizing yourself in a life where money is your friend as opposed to a source of difficulty.

Be patient. Give yourself the time to slowly make new choices in all aspects of your life that support prosperity. For example, if you enjoy good quality coffee, but Starbucks and Dutch Brothers is outside your budget, buy a bag of fabulous Kona roast and an inexpensive cream frothier and treat yourself to gourmet, luxury coffee at home. Tally the savings each month and put that amount into an account slated for investments.

And don’t forget to celebrate your wins! Whenever you have reached a milestone, whether it’s paying down a debt or saving $100, make sure to give yourself tons of applause, and add that feat to your list of affirmations.
We all deserve to have ease in life. You are worth it and your soul has value!


Sandy Wright loves to take ordinary characters and thrust them into extraordinary situations.
In her debut novel, Song of the Ancients, a Midwestern woman moves west for a fresh start. Instead, she becomes the prey in an ancient war to open an underworld portal buried in Sedona, Arizona's magical red rocks.
Readers interested in the dark side of our supernatural world will enjoy of this paranormal suspense series, written by a real-life Wiccan high priestess.
And look for Sandy’s new suspense, Crescent Moon Crossing, to be released in 2018.












Sunday, February 4, 2018

When Your Motivation Takes a Nosedive


By Maureen L. Bonatch


Do you ever have one of those days when as soon as you wake up you know it’s going to be a fabulous day? You have a smile plastered on your face, and you’re showing your to-do list you’re
Photo courtesy Unsplash cc Abbie Bernet
the boss and you feel as if you can tackle anything that comes your way today. 

Then you go to bed and when you wake up the next day you wonder how in the world you can muster up the energy to get out of bed. 

What the heck happened to all that awesome from yesterday? Just imagine how much more we could accomplish if only we could bottle up all that feel-good energy .

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Those New Year's Resolutions



We’ve made our resolutions. Like some of you, I told myself this is it, I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to exercise, and most of all I’m going to write, A few weeks later I’m still looking out the window like a cat sitting on the windowsill “I should be writing right now,” I tell myself, but I continue to stare out the window. As I gaze out into the grey wasteland, I’m also thinking about eating. “What can I eat?” For my new year’s resolution, I cleaned out the fridge, but there is that glimmer of hope that I left a box of Taquitos in the back on the right-hand corner of the freezer. To my great delight there, they were, hiding behind the frozen chopped kale. What was I thinking, kale, really?  As I look down at the box I’m saying to myself, “Do not eat that, you’ll just regret it later.” What does my conscious know? I open the box and place the deep-fried happiness on a plate, and stick it into the microwave.

As I watch it spin I’m at war with myself, don’t eat that, you’ll be sorry, but I justify it by saying, “There are starving children all over the world,” Now I’m obligated to eat those Taquitos.

I joined a gym a couple of years ago. I never went. Every week I would justify why I couldn’t go, but I would most definitely go next week. Nope. I kept the membership anyway, just in case I get motivated. Every month they would take money out of my account and I felt guilty for not going. There’s a theme here, guilt.

Last year I made a resolution to lose weight. So, I signed up for the Medical Weight Loss Center, and it cost a ton of money. With this program you have to practically dip into your 401K to pay for it.  I thought, now I’m invested.  I had to lose weight. If I didn’t, I just lost the money I could have bought a car with. (slight exaggeration).

At first it was great, very motivational. I’m excited, after four days I was in the honeymoon phase. I lost a couple of pounds in the first week, and I was ready to throw confetti. Week three, and I’m jonesin for a Twinkie. After every meal, or a snack, I started watching the clock, two hours before I could eat again. When I got to fifteen minutes before my allotted time, I was watching the clock like a freshman in highschool. A rice cake never looked so good.

I logged everything I ate. What a pain that was. I had to measure and weigh everything, and I had to show them my log. It was like a report card that I had to take to a parent every day, and if I had a low weight loss, my adviser looked at me with those accusing eyes that said, What did you do?
I
 squirmed, then blurt out, “I had some salt on Friday, ok. I’m sorry, I was weak.”

They would give me a condescending sigh, “Vicki, Vicki, Vicki, you know better.”

Properly chastised, I was contrite, my shoulders slumped, “I know, it won’t happen again.”

It was very effective, and eventually, I lived up to my commitment and hit my goal. Weighing in the last time was a big celebration for me. I got my picture on their wall to prove it.

What does this all have to do with writing? Well, it’s all about commitment. You have to work hard at it, and never give up. Even though you may be blocked, write something, anything that will get you back on the path, and reach your goals.


What are your goals this year?

Here's a little something I've been working on.
Life was draining from her like water from a pitcher that had been upended. The poison was spreading.
Looking down at the newborn child sleeping in her arms heart filled with sadness, she would never know her daughter, never watch her grow up. Tears welled in her eyes and ran down her cheeks. Her husband sat helplessly beside her. There was nothing he could do except watch the love of his life die.
“How can I live without you?” His voice cracked on a sob.
Weakly, she raised her hand and touched his cheek, wiping away his tears. “You will survive for our daughter’s sake.” She took a strained breath. “You must always keep her safe, keep her hidden until she becomes of age. She is a Light Bearer and as long as she lives her life will be in danger.”
“Shhh, you should rest,” he whispered.
“There is no time, my love. Soon I’ll be standing beside the Goddess.” Her husband bowed his head, more tears streamed down his face. She already mourned him. Lara looked deep into her baby’s blue eyes “The light is within her. She will need your strength, Manu. He touched a small curl of hair around his baby’s face. It spoke volumes about the love he had for his child.
It was becoming more difficult for Lara to breathe, she dragged in every breath. More than anything she wanted to close her eyes and let the Goddess take her, but not yet, she had to say what must be said.
“Take her away, Manu and tell no one where you’re going. Keep her away from the city.”
“I will, I promise you.”
It was a great effort slipping the amulet holding the light stone from her neck. “Give this to her when she becomes of age.”  She closed his fingers around it.
Worry furrowed his brow. “The moment she puts it on she will be discovered, not only by a Light Wielder, but our enemy, as well.”
“I have faith that whoever can wield the light will find her first.”
Lara was growing cold, she was on the brink of her death. “I will miss you. Our parting gives me great sadness, for you are the love of my life.”
“And you have been mine, my sweet Lara.”
The Goddess will watch over you, and have faith that I will always be by your side.” He touched his forehead to hers. “Take care of our child,” she whispered.
“With my life, I promise you.”
It was time for her to let go and into the Goddess’ loving arms. Gently, she placed a kiss on her daughter’s forehead and breathed in her sweet scent. “I wish you a good life, my dear heart, I will always love you.”
As her life slipped away she silently prayed to the light stone, keep her safe. Then her spirit slipped away and into the Goddess’ loving arms.

Friday, February 2, 2018

I know What You Like: 5 Things Romance Readers Lurve!

Last month, I shared some stuff I found about reviews—specifically how to use bad reviews for good. As I was perusing reviews for that piece, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern--a repetition of items reviewers praised if they were included or mourned if they were absent. So I came up with a list of things readers want—specifically fantasy readers because that was the genre I was researching, but I think these apply to any genre.

One: They Want Somebody to Love!

I read lots of gripes about female protagonists who came across as demanding, weak-kneed nellies who could never be satisfied and who asked the impossible of their male counterparts. And then there are the love interests who seem to have nothing else to live for than pleasing the woman. I know I’m writing fiction, but geez! Readers want fully rounded, believable people to love and hate and root for and root against. Even sidekicks and walk-ons need to be believable and interesting. Write every minor character as if he/she thinks the entire book is about her/him (I stole that from someone, but I like it.) Readers want characters they can identify with.



Two: They Want Something New

In my humble opinion, one reason the Romance genre gets a bad rap is the use of formulaic plots imposed by some publishers.  Readers want to be surprised and awed and gobsmacked. They want to read something that makes them say, “Holy sh*t” more than once. They want unique voices and quirky characters and nontraditional experiences. The good thing is that every one of us has a unique voice—no one sees the world exactly the way I do or the way you do. So if we are true to ourselves, we can’t help but write in some surprises that make our readers look at the world a little differently.

Three: They Want Something to Laugh At.

Readers crave a laugh, a giggle, a snicker to get them through the day, the week, the winter. The only way to test humor is to take your show on the road. Sometimes, you’ll hear nothing but crickets. As in stand-up comedy, it’s all in the timing. And it takes practice. My best advice about adding humor is to read humor. Read lots of it. Read until your sides ache from laughing. Even then, there’s no guarantee you will be able to reproduce it—in fact, writing humor is one of the hardest things in the world to do. You have to get serious if you want to write humor.


via GIPHY


Four: They Want a Plot that Moves!

Alas, readers (and my) attention spans are limited to the 150—now 280 characters of a Tweet. You have a bit more leeway in your novel, but a good rule of thumb is to treat each paragraph like a featured excerpt and each chapter like flash fiction. One of the best exercises I ever engaged in was a thing called Friday Fictioneers. Our glorious leader posted an image on Wednesday and it was the mission of every member of the group to post a 100 word or less story about the image by COB on Friday. Not a reflection or an image—a story with a beginning, middle and end. I learned so much about pacing and brevity from that silly little practice. Make every sentence do double duty and leave them breathless at the end of every chapter.

Five: They Want All the Loose Ends Tied in a Bow.

Don’t leave me hanging. I’ve been writing a series—a real series that involves the same story over three books. Naturally, books 1 and 2 end with some things left unresolved because the chilling conclusion to ALL THINGS is in Book 3. Turns out some readers hate that. I personally love it because books like that tend to be complex and twisted, but some see it as a ploy to sell more books.

 Well. . . .yeah.

But I’ve learned you better throw them bones in every segment of the series and you better end  the whole shebang with a big bang.  If the book is a standalone—the bow needs to be fluffed and carefully knotted with all things revealed at the end. I hate nothing much more than wondering whatever happened to the semi-conscious kitten the protagonist rescued from a slobbering alien menace in chapter 2. I mean, the world may be safe, but is that kitty okay?


via GIPHY


BONUS: They Demand Accurate Details

Ermurgurd. Do they love details. Those readers of historical romance will tear you a new one if your main character calls his neck band a cravat  before the 1630s. They are sticklers and they know what they are talking about. They also hate when you get a fact wrong—even in fantasy. I misspelled the name of a famous lady JUST ONE TIME and got dinged on reviews. The silver lining is that if you can accurately capture the period and the place, your credibility is made and picky readers will seek you out.

Did I mention your own pet peeve? Sing out! What MUST a book contain before you call it a GREAT READ?