Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Goals in Review

Every year I sit down and reflect upon my goals for the year to see what I have accomplished and to figure out where I am going. This year has been pretty momentous in loads of ways. I've had to redo my goals at the mid-point due to signing my first contract. As always goals are flexible. They should be flexible because life happens, different roads become available to trod upon, and if we are too rigid in our thinking, then we won't be able to see the opportunities that are available to us. With that in mind here are my checkpoints at the beginning of 2013:

Writing Goals for 2013

*clean and organize office to get ready for the new year CHECK
*finish first draft LHD by end of January CHECK
*revise MINO by mid February. HALF-CHECK: partial is complete, but full was put aside. Will revisit in 2014
*check in with editor by Feb. 1 regarding MINO CHECK
*revise first three chapters of LHD and be ready to query to editor by mid February CHECK
*March: revise and query MAVERICK CHECK
*build query list for above three books: CHECK
*go to both readers’ luncheons and participate with Digging Out of Distraction basket CHECK
*brainstorm 2 new category books with CP CHECK
*write 2 new category books CHECK plus wrote one Novella
*Attend the RWA National Conference in Atlanta CHECK
*Attend Moonlight & Magnolias CHECK
*Pitch at both conferences if necessary NOT NECESSARY
*build name bible of all names I've used in my books STILL WORKING ON THIS
*maintain personal blog KIND OF LET THIS SLIDE AFTER SEPTEMBER 14
*add new feature to blog for recipe rut DIDN'T DO IT
*continue to build my brand name via social media, web page, professional presence in writing world CHECK
*coordinate the Linda Howard Award of Excellence for 2013 CHECK
*get a publishing contract CHECK
*continue building professional mentor relationships CHECK
*continue to streamline writing and business of writing with proper schedule STILL FIGURING ALL THIS OUT
*Review digital and e-publishers for submissions ONGOING
*take at least two master classes in craft; one with Margie Lawson CHECK
*judge at least two writing contests CHECK
*set Top 5 Priority List and review every quarter CHECK
*continue to analyze published books in my genre CHECK
*continue learning and growing in my craft with online courses and craft books CHECK
*attend chapter meetings which aid in my professional development and in my goal for achieving publication CHECK; AM PRO LIAISON FOR ONE, NOMINATING COMMITTEE FOR ANOTHER ONE
*be courageous, strong, and focused in pursuing my dreams and goals CHECK

In addition to the goals that I had at the beginning of the year, I also added new goals at the mid-point of the year to reflect the sale of THE MAVERICK'S RED HOT REUNION. 

*Write and complete my first novella CHECK; SENT IT IN NOVEMBER
*Continue building CP relationship: CHECK PLUS: CP HAS SOLD!!

I'm pleased with all that I have accomplished this year. Many wonderful things happened and I'm thrilled that I've sold. That shifted a lot of my focus and energy into a new direction. And, looking ahead to 2014, I will have to incorporate what I've learned about myself into building my career as well as managing my time more efficiently. 

What goals did you set this year? Did you accomplish them? Did you veer in a different direction? Do you even set goals? If not, why not?

Monday, December 23, 2013

When the Outside World Presses In

Hello Again! It's been 3 months since I blogged. A new record for me, but the Outside World has been pressing in and it's been occupying most of my time. In story writing world, that means the hero and heroine are dealing with challenges to their internal flaw and/or are busy fighting off the bad guys before they hit the Big Black Moment and fail to overcome the challenge to their internal flaw--everything goes to -- fill in the blank.

In my world, it means that I've had a lot of other things going on that have taken priority over blogging. A friend visited all the way from the Netherlands, I've written my first ever novella and brainstormed my sequel to the Maverick, and the Physicist and I have been going on mini-exploration trips. I've also been playing in different Cyber Playgrounds as my world has shifted from "before I sold" to "I have a contract to fulfill" and new people to meet in different Cyber Clubs. My paradigms have been shifting, and I've been adjusting. But now I need to regroup and look to the months ahead and figure out how to manage my time again.

Every year I use the holiday time to sit, reflect, and review my goals as well as the challenges that I will face in the upcoming year. First comes sitting. Really sitting and letting myself "be" in the moment. What's been working for me? What hasn't? What new internal changes do I need to focus on so I can improve as an individual? What external changes do I need to make to ensure that the internal changes will happen? Still mulling and letting these thoughts percolate over the next week.

Another big part of the holiday season for me is the time I get to spend with my family. We're a small unit and most of our friends and family live in other states and countries. This means we're just we-three, but we enjoy our annual holiday traditions. Some of them include making goodies, going to special movies as a family, creating a fabulous meal for Christmas and welcoming in the New Year with our annual batch of Kick A$$ Chili served up with all the fixings.

How do you ring in the holidays? Do you reflect and review? Do you try to find an area of your life that you'd like to improve?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On the Outside Looking In

My heroine has always been a team player and well-liked. But right now she's hurting physically and emotionally. She's on the outside looking in and she's having a difficult time moving past the pain and guilt. And if she can't figure out out a way to let the events that brought her to this point go, then she won't have the future she deserves.

Enter the hero. He's alpha all the way, but he's a good man. An honorable man. And a man who doesn't want to be tied down. He's had a huge responsibility since he was a child and he's finally free. Also, his world is miles away from the heroine's world. Still, he's drawn to her and he wants to help her let go of her wounds so she can have a future filled with happiness and love.

Foolish hero believes this future will not include him. Heroine foolishly believes this as well.

But this is a romance novel. They may think they're engaging in a holiday fling with no strings attached, but eventually they'll realize that they're each other's perfect match.

And my heroine will no longer be on the outside looking in. She'll be free, liberated, and transformed by this relationship.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Birth Order: First, Middle, Last, One, or One of Many?

I've been thinking about birth order lately because my novella's heroine is a middle child. My Summer 2014 Indulgence release has a heroine who is an only child. And my Margie Lawson Visceral Response manuscript's heroine is the last child in a family of many. Each of these heroines have different personalities and ways of coping with life, adversity, other people, themselves.

I'm one of two children. The oldest. Possibly the bossiest. But my brother grew up and became his own boss, runs his own company and is a take-charge guy in an understated way. So who's the boss now? The Physicist is one of two and the oldest as well. He's a take-charge guy, too. Coincidentally, my brother and my husband are the sign Taurus.

I'm a Capricorn. Locking horns is the name of the game here.

My daughter is an only child. She's got qualities of a first born child and a last born child as part of her personality. Some people think only children fit a stereotypical "spoiled child" picture. That couldn't be more wrong. I've met a lot of people who are only children and without exception each one of them have not behaved in a spoiled way. If anything, they are generous to a fault and very easy to get along with because they're probably used to navigating between two hovering adults. But that's just my theory.

My best friend in the Netherlands is from a family of five and lands smack dab in the middle of the clan. She's a great negotiator, arbitrator and knows how to take care of herself very well. She grew up and has four children; each one of them as unique as the snowflakes that fall in winter.

I'm not sure if birth order impacts personality as much as nature, nurture, life circumstances, and life experiences, but it's interesting to evaluate and understand from a writer's perspective.

So now I'm about to write a story about heroine who has always been stuck in the middle, a good kid with two parents who love her but were busy juggling the demands of running their resort, raising two other children, and loving each other. Sometimes she thought of herself as the "ride along chick." And sometimes being left to her own devices meant she could do what she wanted when she wanted to do it. She also likes being part of group, in the middle of a team and getting things done.

But now she has to face something that has rocked her world, and given her usual spunky optimism a cynical edge. If she doesn't figure out how to redefine herself, she could lose the one man who is perfect for her. Even though he seems completely, totally, out of her league.

I'm curious about your place in the family pecking order. Where did you fall? If you are a middle child or have raised a middle child, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Take a Breath, Pause, and Remember

So many years have passed since 9/11 impacted our country. Yet, I still remember the day as if it were etched in a mirror. We were living in Fairfax, VA and the Physicist was on his way to work, the College Kid was at school, and I was expecting a love seat to get delivered.

He called. Said turn on the TV. Twin Towers hit.

I listened. I turned on the TV. I watched the second plane hit during a live news report.

I heard the reports about the other planes, called the Physicist, told him to come home. He was on the phone with me when he heard the plane hit the Pentagon, saw the black smoke rising into the blue, oh so blue skies, and I cannot begin to tell you about my terror.

Shortly afterward, my love seat was delivered. The deliverymen, two big strong burly dudes, stood in shock in my living room as we watched the ongoing reports. I may have given them water, coffee, a hug. I don't know. I just remember standing there and feeling numb.

The College Kid was in the second grade. Some parents got their children and brought them home. But I let her stay in school where I knew her teachers and the administration would do everything in their power to protect her. Then I called my church, asked them to pray, and brought out the ironing board.

I ironed and I prayed. I ironed, ironed, ironed. I think I may have ironed my underwear. I know I ironed the linens. Each rhythmic swoosh across the fabric calmed my racing mind as I waited for the Physicist to return home. He did. Then we walked to the school bus stop together to pick up our child.

But so many people didn't come home. So many people didn't get to pick up their children from the school bus stop. And so many people lost someone they loved that day. My throat closes around that memory, the heat of tears prickle behind eyes, the sorrow squeezes my lungs as I write this now.

So now I take a breath, pause, and remember 9/11 by honoring those who were lost, those who responded to that horrific tragedy and were forever changed, and those who continue to serve my country by risking their lives every day for the sweet gift of freedom.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Road Less Traveled: Sometimes Slower is Better than Faster

Last Saturday the Physicist and I decided to go on a road trip to Birmingham. We had no particular reason other than wanting a nice lunch and a stopover at our favorite grocery store, Whole Foods (why can't Whole Foods come to the Madison/Huntsville area? Again a shameful plea on my part) to get cheapo wine and goodies.

Rather than take the freeway, we opted to take the scenic route and drove through small towns via Highway 31. The drive was lovely and stress free. Occasionally, we would have to slow down and stop when we entered the small towns that lined the route, but we didn't mind. It was interesting to see how these towns were doing along this route. Eventually we were dumped into the freeway via a forced entry and we were back to going fast, rushing past exit signs to towns that dot the state of Alabama's map.

The drive only added an extra half an hour to our travel time. It also afforded us a chance to look at something different than our backyard and our neighbors. But it also gave me a glimmer of nostalgia. Although I think freeways have made it easier for people to travel great distances, I wonder how this modern convenience has impacted local economies of the small towns we no longer travel through in our hurry to get from Point A to Point B.

The sight of some of the unkempt storefronts saddened me. As did the loss of the local flavor one gets from stopping at a local diner for lunch and being served by someone who isn't wearing a fast food uniform. Sure the fast food restaurants popping up at all the exits bring money to these towns, but I remember eating at many diners and little shops when I was a child. How many personalities have we missed truly meeting because of the anonymity of the Fast Food Uniform.

I'm not advocating going backward, but occasionally it's nice to meander instead of to dash. And I think the fine art of meandering has been lost to many of us in this country. Well, lost to many except for maybe teenagers, but even they are more busy and active in this time than when I was a kid. I guess I am just wistful for the times when we actually broke bread with our neighbors because we wanted to and not because a weather event like the 2011 tornadoes forced us out of our homes and into our lawns where we actually saw each other.

In a way, I think social media is to social lives what the freeway system is to small towns. Faster contacts, sound bites, and flashes of information have taken over sitting down and chatting over a cup of coffee while watching kids play in the backyard or run through sprinklers.

Though I appreciate speed, and I am the first to admit I'm not the most patient person on the planet (though the flip side of that poor character trait coin is that I get things done fast and on time and respond quickly to others -- take the bad with the good I always say), there are times when I just enjoy taking it a little slower. I like taking the road less traveled, picking up the phone and having a long chat with a friend, and taking the time to cook a meal or host a party where people actually come to my home and use my good dishes.

So do we turn back the hands of time and reverse all the modern conveniences of life? No. I would be lost without air conditioning, a car, my trusty laptop, and my many virtual friends in the cyber world. However, I suggest that seeking a balance which includes both worlds might be a good way of living.

So I choose to drive the road less traveled whenever I need a real person, real life, and real experience to recharge my batteries.

How do you recharge your mental and emotional batteries?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Motivation, Manuscripts & Mustard

So I am known to be a self-driven, motivated writer who pushes very hard to get her books written. And, for the most part, I can juggle multiple projects and manage the household without going bonkers. No wait. I fibbed. I do go nuts every once in a while, but I blame the moon in Venus rising or some other tidal wave pattern for the madness.

Here's the thing. I set high bars for myself. I want to reach the bar and exceed my expectations. No one is harder on me than I am. I am a task master who can't be tamed.

But life happens. Like moving the College Kid to College Town, USA. Or housework (which should be outlawed, but it keeps coming back to claim my time). Then there are friends, phone calls, long chats with the CK, other stuff like that and it's hard to get back on track.

Right now my motivation to finish revising a requested manuscript is super low because I've called it my "throwaway book." I don't know why I did that other than I thought one person would want it and wrote it for that person and poof--she wants to send it somewhere else. And double poof, I'm not sure I want it to go there. And triple poof, I have two other books that people want me to write and I'm under a contract to do so and these books are not anything like this current manuscript.

So how do I move on? I add mustard. Mustard spices up my life and my food and my manuscripts. Where do you put mustard in a manuscript? How does it flavor the words? Will the manuscript finally leave a satisfying taste in my mouth with the addition of mustard?

Heck yah! Here's the ticket. I signed up for an in depth course via Margie Lawson which is about Visceral Emotion and powering up your words. I am using this formally-known-as-a-throwaway manuscript to my in-depth homework. (And it's in-depth--ask my editing partners). And you know what? When I rework the manuscript as part of her homework, my writing starts exciting me again. And best of all, I think that it will energize the new books I have to write. I'm learning and writing and testing my writing muscles because it's a great way to bolster my motivation.

I probably won't finish the book by the end of August (which was my intention), but I will have a solid amount of it completed. And while I'm building my small town USA and beginning the process of writing my series of books I can continue to revise this manuscript now known as a potential-to-be-published story as part of my homework.

It's a win-win.

How do you add mustard to your manuscripts?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Life, the University & Everything Else

A lot has happened since I posted my last blog. Where to start? How to encapsulate it all? Um, I bow to the excellence of bullet points.

*Got a truck on Saturday with the Physicist. We were lucky to get it and to find the place that had the rental truck, but we got it. Strained the strings of our marriage license while hunting for the truck rental place, but we are still married.

*Married for another year. Celebrated anniversary on Saturday. Being lost and arguing about getting directions to the said rental truck place was not part of our anniversary plan.

*Loaded the College Kid's stuff onto the rental truck on Saturday. Again--just so happened to be our anniversary. No special meals. No take out. No presents. No cards. No time. That's real life over at the Glover House. Sometimes just doing tough stuff and getting through it unscathed is cause for celebration.

*On Sunday moved CK down to her new digs in her College Town, USA. Digs are decent. CK decorating with moss and fake tea lights whilst I scrub a nasty and dirty tub. Oh, and I vacuumed. The Physicist hung shelves and made bed frame. Two other CKs assisted in the move. Though it rained horrifically all the way down to College Town, USA, we were spared a massive downpour during the unloading of all the items.

*Took CK and her friends to fun restaurant that night. Fun listening to them talk about how "old" they were as they approach the big 2-0. Me? I'm considering every day that I get up out of bed a bonus day in this ol' life of mine.

*Left CK and drove to Hotlanta where we bought two chairs and two end tables at IKEA. We needed to replace the old furniture we sent to College Town, USA. Then we drove the truck to my CP's house and we've been here for two sleeps. A much needed respite from a busy weekend.

*CK calls on Tuesday, one day before classes begin--a call from the CK is never "good news." "What's wrong?" I asked first off. "I slept in my contacts and they were really dry and when I ripped them out of my eyes, my eyeballs started hurting really bad and I can't see." Me. "Take pain meds, and I'll find an eye dr." Found eye doc through our peeps in Hometown, USA. College Town, USA eye doc diagnoses corneal abrasions, prescribes medication, and follow up appt. in one week. Me? I'm just glad the eyeballs are fixable. Welcome back to Emergency Calls and Freak Outs and Handouts of Cashola.

*The Physicist and the Craftsman bonded over the grill. The CP and I brainstormed and worked on social media platforms. Much was accomplished. Wish we lived closer

*It's Wednesday and we're driving the rental truck home today. 4.5 hours in a yucky, bumpy rental truck with zero real music, uncomfortable seats, wheels that bumpety bump bump so much that your head feels like a rattle snake lives inside it, and we're both tired, sore and grumpy. Will the marital bliss never end?

*Keep Calm and Truck On!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Memories, Mayhem & Motivation

It's been a while since I've blogged. Frankly, I've been so busy this summer that my head is about to spin off my neck and what free time I've had has been spent doing the most important thing: writing. I've considered writing about my RWA National Conference experience, but there's no way to truly encapsulate how incredible that experience was for me.

Why? First I got to see so many friends and was inspired to go above and beyond my personal strengths as a writer. Second, I got to see friends who came all the way to see me and meet the writers. They had a blast and I really enjoyed spending time with them. Third, I sat at Lucky Table #55 where Eloisa James sat (and I was unable to speak to her because I was having a serious fan girl heart attack) and she won her first RITA. Fourth, I got to be a Golden Heart date with the awesome writer Gail Hart and we cheered on two RITA winners and two Golden Heart winners. Fifth, I was a Daphne date with Sharon Wray who won a Daphne and achieved highest overall score. Sixth, I was able to share in the best news ever:

My Critique Partner Pam Mantovani sold her first book to Belle Books at the National Conference.

Okay, that meant major screaming, a bit of crying, and lots of wine drinking to celebrate afterward. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was for her. We both sold within six weeks of each other. And we're both in the same boat. This is a dream come true and a great way to start the writing year.

But the writing has taken a serious hit because we've been so busy. The Conference definitely ate up a lot of time. The College Kid has been underfoot and quite frankly, if she's up and wants to spend time with me, I do. The Physicist has also been home more often and that has taken up time and impacted my ability to concentrate. Finally, the mayhem continues because we're gearing up to move the CK back to her college. There's a mattress set, a futon, a bookshelf, and an office chair in my bedroom. Her wing looks like a disaster area and needs serious gutting out. And there's a boatload of stuff stored in my attic and garage that we're moving to down south.

T-5 days till we hit the road. Loading the moving truck up on one day, driving down to the school the next, praying the key works on the condo door (don't ask), and moving her in. The following day we head to Hotlanta where we'll buy two chairs to replace the old love seat she's taking with her as well as to spend time with my CP and the Craftsman.

Then it's turnaround and head home again.

So all this stuff has impacted my motivation. I have to force myself to write a little every day on a story that I've pretty much vacillated between loving, hating, wanting to toss it away, wanting to save it for no other reason than for myself, and then I go through it all over again. Why am I revising this story? I have a request for it. I don't know if it will fly through the backdoor and succeed where others have failed. I don't know if it's going to pass the strict guidelines of this particular publisher's house and I have another set of stories to write that I know have to be written for the contract I signed in May. Still, this story is easier to deal with than writing a series prequel and a sequel, so I persist in writing it.

Bit by bit. There isn't a lot of time. Just a little. But I keep telling myself that if I only get a half an hour logged, it's better than nothing. So blogging? Well that has taken a nosedive, but I've decided to try to get one blog in a week and I'm shooting for a Wednesday Weekly blog.

Let's see if I stay on track.

How do you cope through the busy days of summer when you have projects that must be completed?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Break Out the Bubbly & the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Dakota Harrison's Debut Novel Exhale

Author Dakota Harrison

Hi Everyone! My dear friend and fellow Southern Magic Chapter mate hooked me up with a brand new author over at Samhain Publishing. Although I haven't met Dakota Harrison in person, we've been corresponding via email for several months. And I'm thrilled to have her on the Veranda as we discuss her debut novel Exhale released July 30, 2013 by Samhain Publishing. It's always fun to learn about how writers became published and what that journey is like for each one of them. So please join me in giving Dakota a warm welcome to the Veranda. 
And nibbling on dark chocolate while we chat about Exhale!

Hi Christine! Thanks so much for having me here today.
 I'm so glad you could join me. Tell me, what what is your favorite genre to write?
My favorite genres are Contemporary and SciFi/Fantasy Romance. I would also love to attempt writing a literary novel one day, I just need to find the right story to tell. My problem is that I love my happy endings!
 I am a big fan of Happily-Ever-Afters myself. When you write your happy endings are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
I'm most certainly a pantser, but I am learning (due to much prodding from more organized writer friends) how to incorporate some plotting.
 Plotting always seems to elude me. I try, but still the characters take me down interesting paths. I usually unwind with a glass of wine (or bubbly) after a writing day. How do you relax after a writing day?
I tend to write late at night. I have a young family and a busy home business so it seems to bet the only time I get that’s uninterrupted. So, I usually live on tea – most varying flavors – my favorite is Earl Grey, and Lemon when I don’t want caffeine. I also love a long bath with a good book. *vbg* Movies are a huge thing for me, too. I'm very visual, so a good movie really inspires and relaxes me.
 Oh, I love Earl Grey tea. One of my favorites.What do you read when you're sipping tea or soaking in the tub? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
I actually try to read across genres. I’ll try anything if it catches my interest, from romance, to hard scifi, to science texts, to manga, and everything in between.
 That's a wide variety! What is your current project?
I'm working on the sequel to ‘Exhale’. It’s nearly done, and the hero is a character introduced in the final chapter of ‘Exhale’ – Taka’s cousin, Shin. It’s set in Tokyo, and he’s a little more raunchy than I'm used to!
 Oh, that sounds deliciously spicy. Can't wait to see that cover! Any new releases? 
Yes! I have another contemporary romance coming out at the end of October, again with Samhain Publishing, about a woman running away from her past and the repercussions of the bad choices she made, running so far she changes continents.
 I love those kind of stories. Keep me posted about when it releases!! And it sounds so interesting. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
So many places! Overhearing a line of a conversation; a line in a song; characters in a movie that spark the ‘what if’ bug. I daydream a lot. I believe this is a huge part of my mental plotting technique. At least that way, if a plot line doesn’t work, I don’t have to delete anything!
 I consider daydreaming a form of writing. Now tell me, how long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
I was writing seriously for almost five years before I got that amazing email. I was so shocked I sent it to someone else to make sure I was reading what I thought I saw! The enthusiasm my editor showed for my characters was quite humbling.
 Ah, I can relate to the Amazing Email, too. A fabulous feeling to finally see that dream come to life. What advice would you give aspiring writers who are still trying to get published?
The biggest thing I would say is don’t give up, and write, write, WRITE! Even if you think what you’ve written is terrible, or the worst thing ever written in the history of man – Don’t. Stop. Entering contests took my writing to new levels, ones that enabled me to get my work in front of the right person at the right time. It took a while, from entering and doing poorly; to entering and finaling; from finaling to placing; then I finally started winning. And it was an important part of learning. All that feedback, all those well-meaning comments that sometimes completely missed the point of the story, but more often than not, they hit the mark 100%. Also, get yourself a group of peers – critique partners and the such – or even someone who you see as a mentor type person. Someone who may be slightly ahead of where you are yourself, or someone much further along. Then main thing is if you connect on a personal level as well as a professional one, you’ll have yourself the start of a support network, and likely the start of some wonderful friendships.
I'm a firm believer in the power of contests. And in surrounding yourself with a great group of peers who share your passion for writing. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
BOS – Bum-on-seat! I have procrastination down to a fine art. I work fanatically with a strict or tight deadline. Give me time/leniency/open-ended options, and I crumble. I need that rigid timetable to keep me productive. Give myself a timetable I hear you say? Nope! Doesn’t work. My subconscious works ways around it and ‘tweaks’ the timeframe. The first 20,000 words also are hard for me. Once I get past that magic number, I seem to fall into my rhythm.
BOS is a great way of putting it. I call it BICHOK. Butt in chair, hands on keys. :-) Either way, regardless of what side of the earth we live, we have to sit down and work on the writing. Great advice! And it looks like all the BOS has worked for you Dakota. Y'all, check out the amazing, super sexy cover of her new book Exhale and read the blurb. This one is a story that sounds like one I need to add to my TBR pile :-)

Gorgeous Cover!!
Release date ~ July 30, 2013
Samhain Publishing

Takeshi is finishing up a brutal double shift in the ER when a familiar—and bloody—face erases all thought of heading home. The broken body of the woman fighting for her life belongs to Gabby, his best friend’s mother. A woman he's loved since he turned nineteen, when he foolishly declared his love for her.

 She’s not dying today. Not on his watch. And not with a promise left unfulfilled.

Gabby has never forgotten the taste of the kiss Taka gave her under the mistletoe all those years ago. Or the silly promise that surely by now he’s forgotten. She’s wrong. Taka remembers. And she melts as he uses every trick in his highly trained surgeon’s hands to heal her—and rekindle the heat between them.

But there’s a secret lurking in Gabby’s past. And when it follows her all the way to Seattle, it threatens to drag the one man she loves into the nightmare she thought she’d left behind.

You can find Dakota Harrison here and because she's down under she'll be answering all comments in her Time Zone. How cool is that I have an Australian debut author on my blog? Pretty swanking cool!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Balancing Act: Writing and Yoga with Guest Author Samantha Hunter

Hi Everyone! Last week I blogged about managing my time now that life has taken an interesting twist. You can read about it here. As part of my ongoing quest to find the balance between the business world of writing and the writing world of writing, I've asked many published authors about their methods of staying in writing mode while attempting to juggle all the other aspects of being published: marketing, promotions, author loops, blogs, and so much more. One of the authors, Samantha Hunter, graciously offered to share her advice on my blog. Please join me in giving Samantha a warm welcome and learn how she balances her writing with the business side of writing which also includes juggling two publishing houses--Harlequin Blaze and Samhain--along with multiple projects.

Balancing Act: Writing and Yoga
Author Samantha Hunter

The idea of balance is such a pervasive one. It comes up in writing and work discussions all the time, but also in nutrition, exercise, money, and everywhere else in life. Everyone always wants to be in balance, to achieve that perfect, blissful state. In fact, how this blog originated was in a conversation where Christine asked me how I balance writing for more than one publisher (and in more than one genre). I’ll get to that in a minute. J

The theme of “balance” was a particularly rich one for me to think about in my current Samhain release, Bending Over Backwards (also an RT TOP PICK!). In that book, my overworked yoga instructor heroine may be able to hold a complicated pose, but she’s definitely not in balance in her life. My hero has also been thrown off balance by a tragic event that has changed his life forever – he’s just not sure how to get his feet under him again.

Just to be clear, I’m no yoga expert. Not by a long shot, but practicing has taught me a lot about balance. I only started practicing yoga three years ago. One instructor I like in particular is Jason Crandell. Mr. Crandell offers a key point of advice on his DVD as he guides viewers through Tree Pose. He says that balance is not a constant state – we constantly fall in and out of it (paraphrase). Even in the most stable tree pose, some part of your body might still waver and tilt, if only a little. That was such a key idea for me that it stays with me constantly. Balance is not an illusion, but it is momentary – holding it for any period of time takes practice, and falling out of it is inevitable.

As I have come to think of it, balance is a verb – we do it more than we attain it.

So, to answer Christine’s original question, a few of the things I do to have some balance in my writing life are:
Beautiful Cover! And you can win it!

1) I try to be clear about my limits and avoid things I know will get me in a bind.  I’m open with my editors about my schedules and abilities. I don’t say yes if I know I can’t do something, or if it will cause too much stress. I try to work within my strengths, while stretching to my edge – but not past it. Every now and then I end up in some kind of a logjam, but then I remember not to do that again the next time. ;)

2) I try to be in the moment. When I am writing a book, it is the book I focus on. When I am editing, I edit. I do one thing, one project, at a time in my writing, and it works (today I am only writing blogs). Each project has my full attention , and I think that’s how they come out best. When I split my attention, the work suffers. I couldn’t hold two yoga poses at once, and when I am in one, I don’t think about the last one or the next one. That way I can hold the pose better and pay attention to form. I’ve tried to approach my writing the same way.

3) I try to remember that every day is different. My yoga or my writing will not be the same tomorrow or next year as it is today. If you’ve written and submitted enough, you will get rejections and bad reviews. Your career will change in ways you can’t expect, for better and worse. There will be ups and downs. It’s inevitable that you will lose your balance. But you will also get it back again.

The key word in all of these is of course “try.” J  How do you try to keep your balance? Share, and I’ll give away a copy of BendingOver Backwards to one commenter. 

Samantha, thanks so much for visiting my blog today. I love the advice about remembering every day is different. So flexibility and reassessing one's goals is important. I also like the idea of working on one project at a time. I tend to layer my days, but maybe your way is a better way to approach my new writing journey. I'm going to try it and see if it works!