Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What I'm Up To and Why My Year Wasn't a Total Flop

Due to my divorce announcement halfway through the year, I've only completed writing one book the whole year, well, one that is publishable. I've written short stories and completed a few things, but nothing solid.

And it's the end of the year when my mind and body are tired, so I don't know if I'm going to get much writing done until next year.

I also set a reading goal on Goodreads which I have barely skimmed. So, quite a few of my goals this year haven't been reached.

I'm not being hard on myself. I have a very good reason.

Yet, I've managed to achieve some wonderful things like starting up my editing business and my Reiki business. And learning to cope with the divorce without crawling up into a little ball and ceasing to exist. And I've brought out some of my album books with the help of my editor, Zee Monodee. Last but not least, I've compiled the anthology - Second Chances. That was huge fun.

Anyway, the last few months I've done more non-fiction reading than anything else. I first read divorce coping books which were really good and useful, then recently I've navigated toward the dating advice books and podcasts which I'm drinking in. I want a relationship again. I don't enjoy being single. Sure, I do need to heal and take time for myself, and that's still possible, but I'm all ready to get going again and meet someone special.

The strangest part is that I feel like I'm a toddler learning to walk all over again. I didn't really date much before I got married twenty-odd years ago. It's a totally new dimension of life for me. But I'm learning a ton of new things. I'm learning all over again what to look for in a guy and what a good relationship should be like. I'm discovering what it feels like to fall for someone and then discover they're not right for me after all. I'm discovering what women should know about men and how much they should aim for being respected as well as loved. I'm also learning how to love and respect myself. I'm building up my self-worth. And although I don't feel like the divorce was my fault, I'm deeply aware of mistakes I made which may have led to it. It doesn't mean I'm a failure. A failure is someone who doesn't get up and try all over again.

I even signed up for a Relationship Psychology Course which is proving hard work but great fun. And I'm thinking, maybe it's a good thing that I'm not doing much writing at the moment. I'm in the learning stage - like a sponge soaking up info. All the things I'm experiencing and reading up about are going to help my romance writing. So, I'm not going to be hard on myself for not writing much this year. Whatever happens, I'll grow as a person and become a better writer. Sometimes we need to live a little to write better.

Maybe I'll write a dating advice book one day. 😉

What have you discovered in the quieter patches when your writing isn't going full steam ahead? Have you learned to go easy on yourself when life gets in the way?


Sunday, November 13, 2016

You Are a Real Writer

A few months ago I read a disturbing comment on a blog post by a writer saying that finally they got to hang around with real writers when they went to some prestigious event. Her words struck me right in the solar plexus, because they implied I wasn't a real writer, because I hadn't been published by a big house or hadn't won any literary awards.

I got to thinking about her words and realised they were never meant to offend anyone, but that they also came from a misconception of the idea of a true writer. A writer is not someone who has necessarily got it made in their field. Yes, the competition is fierce and the market is saturated. It's hard to stand out from the crowd. With the advent of e-books and platforms like Amazon and Smashwords, it's made it so much easier for people to publish books out in the world now from their own laptops at home. So, the emergence of writers all over the world has exponentially increased.

And yes, there are some terrible things out there. I've read books that needed to be edited by three or four editors before they saw the light of day, but weren't. I've read stories that make me want to fling the kindle up against the wall. Hence, nowadays, I have to admit, I've taken to reading books at the library. More for the reason that I find a physical book helps me to remain focused. I can feel and see how much further I have to go to finish the book. But, that's not to say I haven't read some amazing kindle books. Some of them have been the best books I've ever read. So, there's a lot out there. Could we call those very amateur people who decide they want to publish a book but never bother to get it edited, true writers?

Of course.

They've completed a book. They've sat down and spent hours pouring their hearts out onto the page.

Do they need to learn a thing or two?

Indeed, yes.

And don't we all?

But I refuse to take those words upon me that I'm not a true writer. Maybe I'll never get published by one of the big houses. I don't even know if I want to anymore. That's not my goal. Possibly I may never win a prestigious literary award. Now, that would be cool! But, hey, I'm a writer. I have a passion for telling stories. And I believe I can tell some really good ones sometimes. I've had a few readers and reviewers say that.

I want to urge those newbie writers who feel that they can't seem to get that contract or make any sales or obtain any reviews. Yes, you are a true writer. It's in your blood. If it consumes you and the stories keep burning inside your head, you're a true writer. Yes, you probably could learn a thing or two to improve your book. But you love the feeling of creating a story so much that you're willing to do that extra work to get there. Never break yourself down and say that you're not it. Was Van Gogh not a true artist because he didn't sell a single painting in his lifetime? Well, we all know the answer to that one.

Believe in yourself. You've been given this passion for a reason. You have a story or many stories to tell. Don't let anyone steal your voice from you. Don't ever take these lying words into your heart.

Write on, dear soul! You were made for this!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

An Anthology for Charity


I'm so excited. This is the first project I've been involved in where all the sales go to charity. Five romance authors have joined together to make a book full of sweet romances of second chances at love. I'm so privileged to have my story tucked in the middle of this book. And I've had the joy of compiling the book which I'm still busy doing. Second Chances - A Love Anthology will be available for pre-order on 20 November 2016 and for sale on 30 November 2016. All proceeds will go to Hope in Christ Children's Home right in my home town. And I know the wonderful couple who are running the home - they are dear friends of mine. They've made an amazing safe place for the kids where they can grow up with a normal, happy life.

To find out more about the book, we even have a website set up for the sole purpose of this anthology. Thank you to Leenna Naidoo who has done this big job with the help of Patricia Kiyono! I'd also like to give my sincere thanks to Pravina Maharaj who is doing the vital and wonderful job of promoting this book all over South Africa.

Here's the website link: https://secondchanceslove.wordpress.com/




Blurb:

Heartache...obstacles...missed opportunities...are all in the past.

What if we could start all over again? What if someone from the past offers a new opportunity at love? But what if we've messed up so bad that we're not sure it's possible? Find out if love can work second time around in this beautiful collection of feel-good stories by South African and U.S. romance writers E.A. West, Pravina Maharaj, Patricia Kiyono, Kathy Bosman, and Leenna Naidoo. All proceeds in aids of HIC Children's Home, Newcastle, South Africa.


Excerpt:

I'm posting an excerpt from my story, His Treasure.

Since Bridget had told him it was over, he’d turned into some kind of Cookie Monster with women. He chewed them and spat them out within weeks of their first date. Could it be something to do with the gnawing feeling of being not good enough? If Bridget didn’t want him, there must be something intrinsically wrong with him. They’d grown so close in a space of a few months, and then she’d told him “enough.” Her reasons still didn’t make sense. He’d bared his soul to the woman, but she didn’t seem to care.
Swallowing a sudden lump in his throat, he closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the tension release out of his clenched fists and jaw. He needed to forget her. He’d always been outgoing, had plenty of friends, been rather popular. Some quiet, studious, poetry-obsessed college student shouldn’t destroy his self-esteem so easily. Nope, she wouldn’t. He’d forget about her. He wouldn’t give her the joy of making him miserable.
“Why did you think I’d help you, though?” he couldn’t help asking Ebon. “You know I don’t talk much nowadays.”
“You’re still a chick magnet despite often acting like a forty-year old with six kids and no time for fun.”
He pursed his lips. He didn’t want to be a chick magnet anymore. Why did he have to be born with such good genetics—broad shoulders, tall, good hair, flat abs, “sparkling blue eyes” as the girls would say, and a charming, dimpled smile?
For once, he wished he could be like Ebon, plain and ordinary, medium-height, skinny arms, bit of a paunch, ash-brown hair. He looked at his friend and punched him in the arm.
“Hey, why did you wear that stupid golf shirt again?”
Ebon picked up speed and glared at the traffic in his way. “You don’t look any better in that stupid white T-shirt. What, you think you’re Adonis or something?”
Dale laughed and his mood picked up as Ebon joined him in cackling.
They soon arrived outside a chapel which seemed to be teeming with life. Several women had gathered by the entrance, all young and hip-looking with their skinny jeans, sleeked hair, and shiny lipstick. He sighed inwardly. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, after all.
“Too many chicks,” he muttered, but Ebon didn’t hear him. Instead, he headed for the entrance with a confident stride. The guy had suddenly grown in boldness. He’d hide behind Ebon, then.
He desperately tried to spot some male company in the crowd, but nothing. Maybe the guys were inside. How to weave through the crowd of girls? He saw a path and headed straight for it, for once not caring about introducing Ebon to everyone as he usually did. Once inside, he could breathe again and sucked in several calming breaths while looking for a place to sit. He found seating near the back. If Ebon complained, he’d say it was to get a good vantage point to see all the women. The plastic seat wasn’t too comfortable and the buzz from the doorway made his heart-rate climb again, especially seeing that buzz heading inside. He tried to take in the traditional décor of the chapel and imagine he lived in medieval times and had chosen to be a monk. A smile filled his face at the thought. His thirst for adventure wouldn’t make him a good monk, though. But the thought calmed him. Phew, he really had developed a dislike for girls.
The swarm came down the aisle and hovered around, giggling over their seat choices. One of the bees headed for the front and fiddled with the projector set-up. Fuzzy, dark-brown curls at the back of her head caught his eye and his palms grew sweaty. She looked a lot like Bridget. Great. Now the leader of the club was a Bridget look-a-like. Turning around, she scanned the room with all seriousness.
He blinked.

No-o-o!

The story will be available exclusively on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Spotlight on Colorado Cowboy Christmas by Jill Haymaker

Today, I want to welcome Jill Haymaker to my blog with her gorgeous cowboy Christmas romance called Colorado Cowboy Christmas. If you want feel-good, small-town romance, this is a real treat.



Blurb:

This Holiday season author, Jill Haymaker, brings you home to the small Colorado mountain town of Peakview, Colorado, where everyone has the chance of love.

Cynthia Welch has made a name for herself as one of Chicago’s top divorce attorneys at the expense of her personal life. Burnt out, she heads to Peaktop Guest Ranch for a couple of months of solitude over the holidays.

AJ Coulter, a cowboy from Wyoming, has been a loner and a drifter ever since his divorce and his teenage daughters leaving for college. He finds a temporary job at Peaktop Ranch as the head wrangler.

When their paths cross, Cynthia begins to question her life in Chicago, and AJ struggles to find a way to keep her in Colorado. Can the spirit of Christmas bring these two people from very different worlds together and help them find their way to true love? If you love small town romance in the tradition of Jill Shalvis and Robyn Carr, you're sure to love this small mountain town and it's tight-knit residents. If you love the Silver Fox heroes of Roxanne St. Claire, you'll love AJ Coulter.

Discover the true meaning of Christmas and Love in this wonderful holiday romance.


About the Author:

Jill Haymaker was born and raised in Indiana and Ohio. After high school, she attended Bowling Green State University before moving to Fort Collins, Colorado in 1975.  Ms. Haymaker has made her home in Fort Collins ever since except for three years in the 1990’s when she left to attend law school at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has practiced family law in Fort Collins for the past 20 years. She has three grown children, a son and two daughters.  She also has three granddaughters.
Jill has always had a passion for writing.  Colorado Sunset was her first full length romance novel her Peakview, Colorado series. The second through fourth books in the series, Breakfast for Two, Colorado Cabin in the Pines and Colorado Wrangler are also available at Amazon.com. Colorado Cowboy Christmas is her first Christmas Novella. She also has had several short stories published by Chicken Soup for the Soul, the most recent in the book The Joy of Less, on sale April 19, 2016.

When not practicing law or writing, Jill enjoys The Colorado mountains, horseback riding, gardening, long walks with her Shetland Sheepdog, Laddie, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. She enjoys their numerous sporting events. She is also an avid football fan and can be found on autumn weekends cheering on the Broncos, the CSU Rams, and the Huskers. She has a passion for working with high school youth- she is a youth group leader at her church, coaches a high school mock trial team and is a volunteer at cross country and track meets.


Buy Link:

You can buy Colorado Cowboy Christmas on Amazon.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Second Edition Reminding Me of You

The second book I ever got published is now out again - edited and with added scenes. I've learned so much about writing since then and I wanted to make my novella juicier and more grounded - it was a bit flighty first time round.

And the new cover is so stunning!


Blurb:

On Valentine’s Day, the day before Mia is to travel to London to start afresh, she meets the dark and mysterious stranger, Luke, in her friend’s card shop. He asks her to help him write a Valentine’s Day Card for his girlfriend. Then he disappears. Mia has fallen in love with him at first sight and can’t help thinking about him, but she’s planned to live in London for a while to experience the world. Once in London, she discovers that Luke had written the card for her. Her feelings for this romantic man deepen, but how can she pursue anything when she lives across the ocean and has no idea how to find him again? When she meets Bryn, a Welsh, Luke-look-alike, they travel to Paris together and strike up a friendship due to their shared loss of a love-at-first-sight romance. Feelings between Mia and Bryn blossom in the city of lights, but Mia can’t forget the “card guy.” What will Mia do when she finally gets his email address? Pursue the budding relationship with Bryn or follow her heart and find the guy who’d made her fall in love at first sight?


A New Scene Excerpt:

The sleek train proved a luxury to ride in and they reached the Museum of Modern Art in minutes. Bryn paid the entrance fee and they walked into a bright, upbeat place that, although not as elaborate and classic as the Louvre, proved to be a real treat.
Bryn led her around and showed her things as though he knew the place. It felt like a surprise to discover a place she wouldn’t have dreamed of visiting on her weekend Paris trip, and leaving Polly and Donald behind felt almost clandestine.
“Here’s Matisse,” he finally said as they reached the section with her art idol’s works. She walked around from painting to painting, wondering if she could capture the memory of the moment for later on, but felt rather inadequate. Bryn sat on a bench, watching her with interest.
“You don’t like Matisse then?” she asked, feeling bad about leading him on a detour.
“I can see something magical about his work. I like to sit and take them in all at once, not focus on one painting at a time. I’d love to get inside his head and see how he evolved as a painter and artist in his life. What inspired him, what drove him.”
She sat next to him. “That’s such a deep thought.”
“When you reach your thirties, you see how you’ve changed over the years—how your passions and desires have morphed. I also wonder what transition or transformation famous artists like Matisse go through. You can see his style has changed. As he aged, the colors in his paintings became deeper, richer almost. And his lines less defined, the human figures less generic. Like, when you’re younger, you’re so certain about things and seem to follow the crowd, but as you mature, the more you know, the more you realize, the less you know. And the more individualistic you become in your mindset.”
Mia couldn’t help snuggling up against him, her thigh touching his firm, manly one. She wanted to drink in his philosophical thoughts. The man put her to shame by highlighting her shallowness, but deep inside, she resonated with what he said. It made sense. So, maybe she wasn’t so shallow. Hadn’t she only ever been with mostly shallow men? It was as if they’d only touched the surface of life and emotions with her.
“I love the way you analyze the art. It makes it so much more meaningful.” She rested her head against his arm, unable to resist the close contact. He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close into the nook between his arm and chest. He didn’t bend to kiss her. It was as if he knew the timing didn’t work now. The moment was a thoughtful one—soaking in the atmosphere of the place, the beauty and majesty of a truly talented person’s life displayed before them, and he sensed that. Also, she couldn’t help drinking in Bryn’s energy through his contact. She felt a strength from him, a wisdom beyond his age, and she considered herself deeply privileged to have met someone like him.
A noisy crowd comprising several families with young kids broke the contemplative silence. Bryn pulled away, stretched, and walked with a limp to one of the paintings. She stared at him, shocked at the path which her thoughts had tread. Since when did she go for deep yet funny elf-like men? Ones who limped and spent so long choosing flowers for their mum? Had his similarity to Luke taken away her common sense? She walked to a Matisse painting and pretended to study it, but all she could think about was how it felt in his arms. And how the depths of her crush didn’t make sense at all.

You can purchase here:

Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo Books

Publisher Page here

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

14 Nights of Halloween Blog Hop and Giveaway

I'm taking part in the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway and Blog Hop. The task is to talk about our favourite spooky or funny spooky movie / book. So, here goes:

Well, I don't enjoy horror movies, so I'm going to go with my favourite spooky movies which are more fantasy - the Harry Potter movies. Although I loved the books even more - yes, I'm a potterhead - I thoroughly enjoyed the movies. They were enchanting. And who doesn't like sweet Daniel Radcliffe? Dreamy when he's older. All the characters are so real and so interesting from clever and dedicated Hermoine and bumbling but loyal Ron. And who doesn't love McGonagall and Dumbledore and dear Hagrid? The story is so magical and if you want scary, the last few movies in the series really keep you on the edge of your seat.

One of my favourite scenes is when Harry saves his own life using his patronus spell with the help of the time travel device. I think it's called the time turner.

I also belong to Pottermore and have a wand, a house, an Inverness house and a patronus. Mine is a dolphin.




It's that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the air is
getting cooler and the nights are getting spookier. Yes, it's time for
tricks and treats, goblins and ghouls, chills and thrills and huge
amounts of sugary sweets. But at the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog it's also time for the 5th annual Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway. Join Laughing Vixen Lounge and our bewitching co-hosts The Kids Did It, The Mommy Island, Herding Cats and Burning Soup, The Hopping Bloggers, Mama Smith's Reviews and Women and Their Pretties for a spooktacular Halloween event.






Enter to win a $250 Prize Pack filled with goodies from 10 wickedly
fabulous shops. All shops are offering Gift Cards or your choice of
item(s) so there will be something for everyone. Many of the shops have items perfect for any book lover along with lots of
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Visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge
blog daily during the giveaway for the Halloween Movie Marathon. Test
your movie knowledge with the Guess the Movie Game. Then try to solve
the Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt, if you dare! Each event will get you
daily entries in the giveaway plus a special giveaway for the Scavenger
Hunt. Find full details for these events HERE.




Guess which Harry Potter movie this quote is from. Write your answer in the comments below to enter.

“We’ve all got both light and darkness inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” — Sirius Black

And a question for you:

What is your favourite spooky movie / book? I'd love to know?


You can start by entering the Rafflecopter widget below. To
experience all the games, movies, shop features, giveaway info and all
around awesome fun make sure to stop by the Laughing Vixen
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The giveaway runs October 18th - November 1st and is open worldwide to
anyone 18+. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack and 1 winner will win the
Scavenger Hunt Prize Pack. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 7, 2016

Empower by Ashley Stambaugh

Today, I want to welcome Ashley Stambaugh who is talking about her urban fantasy novel, Empower. It's the third book in the Collide Trilogy. The excerpt looks very interesting! The first in the series is also on sale for the month of October for only $0.99!


You have to have the dark to see the light...

Blurb

Over a month has gone by since Melina won her internal battle between good and evil. She and the elders have been vigilantly waiting for Maura and Adelia to enact their plan, but there have been no signs of them anywhere. Then one day, Melina sees a Noxin demon lurking behind an old building. As more and more demons start to appear around town, she begins to worry that their plan may have already been put into play.

While Melina tries to figure out what the demons are up to, she starts to notice a sudden increase in her negative emotions, which in turn seem to be amplifying her powers. At first, she likes how strong it makes her feel. But when she realizes that her newly acquired demon powers are the cause of her sense of empowerment, she wants nothing to do with it. Even though she has reversed her demon powers to do good, she still sees them as coming from an evil source and fears that by using them the evil she fought so hard to overcome will rise up in her again.

But as the demon activity increases, and the people in her town, including all the people she cares about the most, start to display strange and violent behavior, Melina finally understands that if she wants to stop the demons and help her friends, she must embrace not only the good in her but also the bad. Because the only way to truly empower herself is by finding a way to use them together.

Excerpt

She turned to look at the front of her store and saw that the huge front window had been completely busted in, allowing the chilly winter air to blow right through the room. The rest of the store wasn’t in any better shape. Broken glass, splintered wood, and burnt, ripped up books and paper covered the entire floor. She felt like she should be having déjà vu, seeing as how her store had been destroyed by Noxin demons before, but there was a difference this time. She didn’t have her friends to help her pick up the pieces.
Before she was able to get teary-eyed again, she heard footsteps coming from behind her. She turned around and saw that Walter was back, and he had Phinneas, Cecil, and Helene with him. They all nodded at Henry, who nodded back at them, and then they all returned their focus to Melina.
“Hi,” Melina said as she gave them all a slightly confused look. “What are you all doing here?”
“I thought it was necessary to tell them what’s happening with you,” Walter said.
Melina pulled her robe a little tighter around her and turned her gaze down to the floor. She wondered if they were disappointed in her for not telling any of them sooner.
“Melina,” Phinneas said as he took a step toward her. “None of us blame you for feeling the way you do. The fear you have of your anger and of your demon powers is completely valid. But it’s nothing to be afraid of, or ashamed of. I’ve told you before, not everyone is all good or all bad. We all have good and evil in us.”
“Yes,” Melina said as she nodded her head. “I remember you saying that. But then you also said that we just have to choose which one is going to win, and I chose good.”
“And I’m so glad you did,” Phinneas said. “But just because you chose good and were able to reverse the demon powers to use them for good, doesn’t mean that the bad aspects of the demon powers aren’t still a part of you, too.”
“Melina,” Walter said as he took a step toward her. “To truly embrace all of your powers, you must accept not only the good aspects of them but also the bad. I can only imagine how strong it must make you feel when your emotions amplify your powers, but instead of fighting them and trying to stop them, feel all of those emotions and use them in a good way. Use them to empower yourself.” He paused for effect and then continued. “You have become a force to be reckoned with. You just need to learn to accept them and then control them.”
Melina’s eyes were filled with tears again. His words reminded her of what Lee had told her—that she needed to accept all of herself. She knew they were both right, but she still couldn’t let go of her hesitation and fear.
“But what if it makes me susceptible to being taken over by evil again?” She bit down on her lip as she stared over at Walter with eyes full of distress.
He gave her a reassuring smile. “I know you’re scared, but I also think that you know, deep down, that you’re not going to be taken over by evil again. This is just how the demon powers are going to work in you. We all experience negative emotions, Melina. But it's what we do after the emotions arise that matters. We can act upon those negative feelings and let them control us, or we can feel them, acknowledge them, but then choose not to act on them. And instead of letting them control us, use them as motivation for something good.” He was silent for a moment then said, “You have to have the dark to see the light.”
Melina sat quietly as his last words sunk in. She had never thought of it that way, but he was right. She had both light and dark in her, just like everyone else, but she just needed to make sure that her light always shone brighter.


About the author

Ashley Stambaugh grew up in a small town in Illinois where she and her two siblings created some of the best memories playing on their family’s farm. She stayed in the southern region of the state to attend college where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and also met her husband.

Now, she and her husband live in central Illinois and spend their time creating new memories with their two rambunctious boys. She also enjoys reading, taking long walks, and finding great bargains. When her sons are a little bit older, she has a great desire to travel with her family. Oh, and she also has a slight obsession with chocolate.

When she’s not busy chasing after her two young children or losing herself in a good book, you can find her curled up on her couch with her laptop, writing.


Social media links:



Purchase Links:

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