Monday, May 13, 2019

Harper Dell's New Book - Touch Me

I want to welcome one of my editing clients, romance writer Harper Dell. She has released two books in her contemporary romance series - Trust Me and Touch Me. We are putting a highlight on Touch Me, but I also recommend you read Trust Me. Her romances are hot! I love a series where each sibling is highlighted in a new book and you get to be a part of the family throughout. Although each book is a standalone and can be thoroughly enjoyed as such, I think it's even better to get deeply entrenched in their lives. You'll keep coming back for more. Touch Me has such a unique premise. And it's tackled tenderly and consciously. Not an easy feat. Oh, and you'll love following Skye's interesting job. But I won't tell you anymore. Don't want to give away spoilers.


BLURB

Her husband is gay. Her new man is gorgeous. One is her best friend. She’s falling in love with the other…

Everyone loves Skye’s husband Jaimie…and everyone knows he’s gay! Why are they together? Does she know he’s gay? Is she still a virgin? Will she ever need more?
 
Skye has to ask herself what a girl’s to do when she’s finally ready to explore her sexuality but her husband is gay. As Head Writer on a popular soap opera, she is drawn to the new stuntman on set. Zach Madrigal screams sex appeal and he screams danger. But though she’s found a hunky new man in Zach, she doesn’t want to lose her best friend.

Is Skye brave enough to navigate her way out of her comfortable marriage and face her own truth? Is her husband, Jaimie, ready to do the same? Does Zach need her as much as she needs him? And how will she handle a family bombshell her sister Hannah is about to drop on her? All this in between planning sister Brie’s engagement party, getting a promotion, and coming to the rescue of a forgotten diva. 

This is a standalone love story but is enjoyed best in the series.

Youngest Hanson sister, Skye, continues the family saga. Her siblings, twin brothers—suave Luke and hunky Brock, share their stories in future books, along with sister Hannah. Travel from a Los Angeles plastic-surgery office to a safari lodge in Africa, as you follow their journeys to love. Mom, Sarah, is the glue that holds them all together, despite facing challenges of her own. With Luke and Brock constantly at odds and Hannalore chasing a family secret, Sarah has her hands full. 

If you enjoy this book, take a tumble with oldest sister Brianna in Book 1 as she does everything in her power not to fall head over heels in love. 

Sexy, successful, stubborn and sassy, you’ll soon feel part of the family.


EXCERPT

“So how did it go with you and Zach and the fire?”

Zach was still watching her, a slight smile curling up his roughened cheek as he waited for her answer. 

“I…it was enlightening. I’ve been thinking seriously about putting what he taught me into action.”
This time Zach’s eyebrows shot up. He leaned back, rolling his chair slightly, folded his muscular arms, and widened his legs. She didn’t know if the move was deliberate or instinctual but she couldn’t help lowering her gaze. She felt a tingling in her core and quickly turned her attention to the opposite end of the table. “I think we can wrap this up. We’ve got some good ideas to work with. I want each of the storyliners to write up their scenes and mail them back to me so I can check for continuity. Let’s make great TV people.”

Everyone left, except for Zach, who didn’t say a word, just kept that smoldering gaze on her, until she finally felt she had to speak up. “I’ve got some actor briefings coming up. I like to do them while the ideas are fresh in my head, plus everyone’s too busy shooting during the week. You can’t stay here.”
“How’s the ankle? I was outside the boardroom when you arrived. I saw you limping in. You ran off so quickly yesterday. I could have helped if you’d just waited.”

Sure he could have. He could have lifted her up in those sinfully delicious arms of his and held her to his chest. He could have walked to the car, his arms possessively around her, until she gave in to her desires and took those lips in hers again. 

“Skye?” 

He interrupted her fantasy. Lord, how could she be fantasizing about the man while he sat here in front of her?



BUY LINKS

Amazon: Trust Me https://amzn.to/2E4GAoq
Touch Me https://amzn.to/2vTKRqk
Apple Books: Trust Me https://apple.co/2HehAwZ
Touch Me https://apple.co/2Jf8ylJ
Barnes & Noble Nook: Trust Me https://bit.ly/2E2YDv8
Touch Me https://bit.ly/2JGUvoD
Kobo: Trust Me: https://bit.ly/2W1bybl
Touch Me https://bit.ly/2JtYdBM

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Creative Spark

My kids and I have just watched a documentary on Netflix called The Creative Brain. I found it quite inspiring. The movie went into what makes us unique as humans - our ability to create. It talked about how creativity isn't about creating something totally unique - it's always building upon what we see, but bringing our own slant to that. They even spoke to a famous novelist who said that he never creates something totally unique. I loved that because, oftentimes, as authors, we feel like our work is so close to other stories in our genre. Yes, it is, but every book is unique. I know because I edit romance almost every work day. Sure, the tropes are the same - it's always about a man and woman finding love with each other, and oftentimes, the process of getting there is fairly similar, but the way it's written is uniquely done by each author, and each subsequent book they write. We bring our own unique life experiences to what we create. No one else's will be exactly the same. Every creation is valid. Each one is a piece of ourselves.

Recently, I posted on Facebook that I prefer a more beta man in real life and I prefer to write them. Alpha and beta are not great words and can be loaded and harmful in a way, but I didn't know how else to express my thoughts. Let's just say that I don't like a hyper-masculine guy. I like a gentle, kind, compassionate type of guy. I don't like the ultra-muscular types but prefer a man with a bit of flesh on him. Then several people commented that they wrote the alpha guys because they sell. And that is true. But I replied to one of the comments that writing is therapy for me and I don't want to write to make sales anymore. I think I became tired of trying to work out what sells and writing that, then finding out I couldn't get it right anyway. So, I will continue to write what comes from my soul, from my life experiences. Yes, I'd love to make sales, but after almost three years of writer's block, the only way to get the creative spark going is to write from my heart, from my feelings, from my experiences, and even more so write my deepest desires - what I want from life, from love, from relationships, from growing as a person. I want my characters to grow as people too - to become better people, just like I want to. I want them to experience the radical love that I want so much.

The documentary on Netflix showed us how vital creativity is to our well-being. It showed how prison inmates who were taught how to tap into creativity and to develop it, were much more likely to go on to live better lives. A struggling school came back to life when the teachers used creative expression and art to teach the students all the subjects.

That's why I continue to write. It's because creativity is vital for my well-being. Creativity heals depression, anxiety, listlessness. It gives us a spark. It makes us new. It teaches us about ourselves and about the world around us. Every time we create something, we are putting a seed of ourselves and our unique experiences out into the world. We are reproducing ourselves and changing the world. We are creating life. We are living.

Yes, it's not easy and we may fail many times over. They interviewed the script writer for Game of Thrones. He had failed many times before he succeeded in his writing. Yes, we may fail, but it is those failures which often propel us forward to our greatest successes. And it's in every moment, whether failure or success, that we are growing and experiencing life.

I want to take a risk, push the boundaries. Yes, I'm not always sure how, but I'm going to try it, one word at a time.

Monday, April 29, 2019

What No One Tells you about Menopause

Warning: rant below and probably only ladies will be interested.

Photo by Anderson Cavalera from Pexels

Why don't they tell us exactly what to expect when a woman goes through peri-menopause and menopause? I was just thinking about this on the weekend, due to a particularly bad "hormone-charged" few days. Or let's rather say, hormone-deficient three days.

When a girl becomes a pre-teen, she is often taken aside by a caring parent / teacher / youth leader, and taught all about her menstrual cycle and what to expect as she enters into puberty: what happens when you have a period and how you will feel, and what to do about it.

But no one ever sits down with a thirty-something woman, takes her hand, explains everything, and assures her that yes, it won't be easy, but she'll be all right as her body transitions into menopause. And gives her an idea of how she will feel and what will happen. All you hear are snatches of conversation from older woman complaining about hot flushes! And that they take hormone-replacement therapy, which apparently isn't good for you! That is the sum total of what I've heard my whole life except for one passage in a book by James Dobson I read years ago about what his mother went through at the time. That's it. (Please be aware, that I do not endorse James Dobson's ideas anymore - specifically about the LGBT+ and pre-marital sex, but this post is not about that.)

Anyways, I so wish someone had told me what would happen to my periods, and my body, and how that would feel. No one ever told me that my periods would get shorter and shorter, that the gap between them would get shorter and shorter and that I would feel worse and worse PMS during these short cycles, usually lasting 2 weeks out of the 3 weeks of the cycle. No one told me that this hormonal problem would trigger anxiety. No one told me that once the periods stop coming for a few months (and I felt amazing during that period), that when they do come back, you feel so sick on that period, and it's so heavy. And all these things are normal, according to a web link I found this weekend - yes, after all these years, I've found out that what I'm going through is normal! No, all you hear about is hot flashes. (Oh, and no one mentioned that when you go to the doctor multiple times to have your hormone levels checked, that they always say they are normal!)

I don't even know if I've had a single hot flash. I don't wake up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely. In fact, I generally sleep like a baby (yay), when I'm not anxious about something. Yes, my body temperature has changed the last few years. I don't feel the cold anymore and the heat is dreadfully dreadful. But I wouldn't call that a hot flash. Unless I'm having one permanent hot flash. 👿

No one told me that peri-menopause can last 10 years!!! Yes, it's lasted me years and years so far. I don't know when exactly, but I'd say close to 7.

Why don't they give us pep talks for menopause? There is a lot that a woman has to process. Not only the fact that she's coming face to face with ageing, but also all the effects on her body. And how to handle the hormonal dips, and the consequent affects on mood, and come to terms with her new self. And that it starts years before it actually ends. And that there are ways to cope, and you'll get through it in the end. And finally, when it's over, you'll be so happy to no longer have a period. (Okay, I haven't gotten there yet, but boy, am I looking forward to it.)

Note: Yes, I am trying out different supplements to help. I can't take too many soy isoflovanes because of my thyroid.

Anyway, I just want to say I'm grateful for my body. It's given me three amazing children. And it's leading me onto the next phase of life. I just need to learn to work with it in the best way possible. Anyone else had any harrowing menopause experiences?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

How I Use the Tarot to Help me Write

So, the last few years I've developed a bit of an obsession in my spare time for playing with and studying the tarot cards. I've found the tarot to be a marvelous tool for self-development and just to help me through things going on in my life. The tarot is a fascinating thing. I think the old-fashioned idea that people who read tarot are dolled up in multiple bangles, a dark headscarf, hoop earrings, way too much makeup, and reside in a caravan with a large crystal ball, in a darkened and spooky room, no longer applies. It's not so much a niche thing anymore and has become popular in the spiritual community, enjoyed by many people of all religions.

Besides offering me some personal spiritual guidance, I love using the tarot to help me plot my fiction novels, or to help me with characterisation and well, when I'm blocked.

For example, I started writing Book 2 from the last book I finished - When Love Blooms. I had grown a bit attached to a secondary character in the book (Collette's friend, Rachel) and wanted to write her story. I sat down with my notebook and pen and started the "morning pages" way of writing. I wrote the first three pages and then stopped. I couldn't bear to write anymore. It wasn't working. Something felt off. I was blocked. I knew it wasn't the book I wanted to write, but I still wanted to write about Rachel. So, I put it down and forgot about it for a few weeks, figuring that maybe I'm not going to write for a while again.

Today, I didn't have any editing and after a long weekend, felt quite a bit more rested than usual. I felt like writing Rachel's story, but how? I picked some tarot cards from one of my favourite decks. What I like about tarot is that it contains the hero's journey - it's a story in pictures. It follows almost everything about the human experience. And I like to choose a deck (I'm a bit of a collector) that has beautiful art that I can connect with. The deck I chose for my plotting had contemporary people in it. So, instead of looking at the particular meaning of the cards I chose, as they didn't really apply to Rachel's potential story, I studied the images, and suddenly I just knew what direction I wanted Rachel's story to go in. It would take her to the country near her friend Collette. I just knew this was the right direction for my book.

This isn't the first time I've used tarot to plot my book. I don't usually use it for the whole book, but it gets me started and gives me ideas. I used it to start off When Love Blooms. I also like to use it to get a glimpse into my characters, but not as often as plotting. The tarot court cards are good as they show different personalities. If you picked out all the court cards, you could choose a court card for each of your main characters. It would, of course, help to have a bit of knowledge of the cards before you start. There is a lot of free material out there to learn tarot. Biddy Tarot has a lot on her website, there are dozens of tarot YouTubers (Kelly-Ann Maddox has a free tutorial series on tarot), and well, you can always buy a kindle book on it. If you can't afford a deck, you can get some free mobile deck apps. But it's always nicer to hold the deck in your hands.

I used to think tarot was evil. Yes, some of the cards may not be easy on the eyes if you use the old-fashioned original Rider Waite deck, but you could always buy a more modern one. I prefer the more contemporary ones as the images are much more relatable. Cards like the devil and the death card don't actually mean the literal devil and death, but rather remind us that we don't have to be trapped in our negative or restricted thoughts, and that with every time we lose something or things change in our lives, something new and beautiful is born out of it, kind of like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

Here are a few pics of my cards, just so you can see.



Below is the inspiration I found for Rachel's story. Sorry the cards are so dark. So, in the first picture, there is a man at the door with a letter. In the second one, she's staring out onto the farm, wondering what to do, and the third, she is harvesting apples. I shall keep you wondering. I don't want to say too much about this story until I actually have it down on paper. Just feels like I'm jinxing it, lol.


Is there anything unusual that you use to help you plot your novels? I'd love to know.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

How The Artist's Way Broke My Writer's Block

I'm writing a blog post, in the middle of a very busy day and week, to share my excitement.

I have just completed a first draft on a novel after a very difficult three years where I only wrote one fantasy novel and one woman's fiction / romance and struggled with multiple writing blocks and major burnout, going over a year without writing anything new.

It all started when I began reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Her book is addressed to blocked creatives. It's an encouragement, motivator, and a bit of a workbook all rolled in one. It is a bit of religious book, but not in a pushy way, so even those who don't believe in God can benefit from it.

I haven't finished the book yet. It's not that easy to read for me. When I read a self-help book, I strongly dislike long lists of exercises to do at the end of each chapter. They distract me and weight me down. That's why when I first starting reading the book, I had mixed feelings - quite strong ones actually. I loved the way she worked on dispelling some myths that creatives have. But then she wanted us to write "the morning pages." She said we should write three pages of our thoughts or whatever comes to mind, every morning. I was so angry with her, but she insisted it would unblock us. I thought, "How on earth would I find time to do this? I battle to find time to exercise and sleep enough as a single mom of three, running my own freelance business." But I was desperate so I read on. At first, I assumed we should write our writing projects in these three pages. I actually didn't fully understand that it was three page of journaling or free-writing our thoughts to get in touch with our creative side.

I'd already started off a book for Nano and had written about 10K. I'd reached a block in the book and couldn't seem to go on. But I was determined to try this and this book seemed the best bet. So, I found an old notebook in the house, took out my black Bic click pen and began to write. I did do a bit of journaling, but I mostly wrote my book. It was hard at first, but then it flowed. I did it the next day. And the next. I wrote three pages by hand for about three weeks without interruption. A day or two of life getting in the way interrupted it, but then I got back on and wrote.

The key here was setting. I made sure I was in a pleasant setting that was conducive to creativity. I went to my happy spot - on my bed in my room. I sometimes put on soft, instrumental music, or other times lit a candle. I was in a relaxed spot, away from my computer (which I now associate with work) and just having fun. The words would flow. She stressed that we should do it first thing in the morning before our logical / left brain kicked in too strong, and I did start with that. I think it was essential that I did, but then circumstances changed in my life and I needed to get going earlier in the morning, so that no longer worked. But I made sure that before I started my editing jobs for the day and went into editor mode, I did my morning pages.

So, yes, even though my morning pages aren't the same as Julia Cameron's ones, they have worked for me.

I have since read some more of her book and am enjoying it except for the excessive exercises in it, which only overwhelm and guilt me. But I'm deeply grateful for "the morning pages" which got me out of my three-year writer's block.

So, I've written the whole first draft of my woman's fiction / romance. I have a huge job ahead of me - transcribing the writing onto the computer. It's going to take me a couple of months to get the words down. I admit that it's not the fun part of this way of writing. And I still have to give the book a thorough edit and send it out to beta readers before I work toward publication. But hey, the first draft is down and I love the story. That's what counts, isn't it?

Here is the tentative blurb so you have an idea what it's about. Bear with me as I wrote out a whole blurb one day and I cannot find it anywhere. And the title is still under construction.

Flower Fields

Collette's designs and puts together the flowers for weddings. She's a successful entrepreneur, but her business has been floundering in the last few months. She's helping her friend Rachel, who is a wedding planner, to beautify the bride Debbie's wedding. Rachel's in a panic as a key celebrity bridesmaid - Andy - hasn't arrived and she begs Collette to take her place, seeing she looks uncannily similar to the actress. Reluctantly Collette poses as Andy in the bridal party. Because she looks so much like the actress, a long-lost cousin called Jonas strikes up a conversation with her. He confides in her when he drinks too much and she discovers he's the new florist in town - her competition. Has he been stealing all her clients? They hit it off though, but Jonas (who prefers to be called Jonah) starts to suspect the woman he's attracted to isn't his cousin after all. He's angry, but intrigued. He'd like to see her again, but Collette isn't looking for a relationship.

Her business troubles make Collette look deep inside at her own unrest. No matter how crazy it may seem, she knows she has to follow her heart and her dream and move to the country to farm flowers. She approaches Jonah to help her out and merges their two businesses. They are drawn to each other as they spend time together. But Collette's past hurts come back to haunt her and going back home brings them all to the surface. And Jonah soon discovers that things in her business aren't what they seem - something is going on that could sabotage them all.

Flower Fields is a book of unexpected love, dreams, family conflict, and ultimately redemption.



Thursday, February 14, 2019

Self-Love on Valentine's Day for Singles (Or Anyone Actually)

Happy Valentine's Day. I'd love to share an excerpt from one of my self-love books as a gift for you this day. Even if you're single, the day can embody love for you - self-love and friendship.

Oracle Card Made by K. Bosman (c)

Taken from my first book:

Falling in Love with Me - 30 Days of Self-Love


I’ve always felt that the cornerstone of a good relationship is respect. If someone doesn’t respect you, they don’t really love you, do they?

But what does it mean to respect yourself?

This is a really hard one, but it’s so important.

Firstly, do you criticize yourself constantly? What would it be like if you did that to your partner, friend, or your child? Would they feel loved? Would they want to be around you? Not at all. Remember that you’re the only person who is with yourself 24/7, 365 days a year, all the years of your life. You’d better learn to get on.

There is nothing wrong with becoming a better person and working on your faults, but negative self-talk can be debilitating. You have to learn to celebrate all that you are and all that you’ve come through. You’re an amazing human being. You’ve accomplished so much so far in your life, or multiple lifetimes (if you so believe). You’ve overcome immense challenges and stuck it out through many trials. You’ve loved and laughed and cried. You’ve grown as a person, matured through the years. The deepest part of your being is pure love. That’s because you belong to The Universe which is also pure love. You are one and the same. The very deepest well of existence is love.

Sure, you’ve messed up. We all have. Maybe you’ve done some terrible things that have really hurt yourself and others. You did those things because you felt separate from love. They were a cry for help. It’s time to forgive.

If self-respect is hard for you, write a list of five things you like about yourself.
Then write a list of five things you are crazy about yourself.



Thursday, January 10, 2019

Why I'm Back to Writing Sex Scenes

Ha!

Maybe the title of this blog post makes you cringe.

Or maybe it makes you go, "Yay, at last!"

I don't know, but I have to be honest: this is me.

The last few years, my life has changed radically. Not just with the divorce, but in my whole way of seeing things. I think the divorce played a big part in it, but also coming out of a religion that I was in my whole life.

I started deconstructing from this religion about five or six years ago. I can't say the exact date as it was a very gradual thing at first. Then it became quite a big thing when I left the church and became agnostic and questioned everything I believed in. But I felt too lonely without a relationship with The Divine. So, I decided to believe anyway and began to pray again. That felt right. And after my marital separation, I went back to the church, mostly for social support. I mean, church people are really kind and caring.

But I didn't belong fully anymore. I didn't believe half the things they preached. In fact, most of it made me cringe. But I went for the fellowship. Eventually, I couldn't hide my true self anymore and it came out several years later - end of last year. I could no longer teach Sunday School because my beliefs were too different and too questionable. I'd evolved too much.

Being an Evangelical Christian meant that sex outside of marriage is wrong. You just don't do it. And if you do, you feel guilty, ashamed, and have a lot of fixing up to do on the inside. And things like erotic romance are just no! Not allowed. I started writing erotic romance under the name Vicki Ballante before I'd left the church. I justified it by always presenting my characters as married when they had sex. It made me feel like I wasn't sinning. But the writing never felt right. It didn't come totally naturally; yet I wanted to write sex. In a previous blog post I blamed my ex for persuading me to do it, but I take that back. It was purely my decision. Yes, he prompted the thought, but I thought I could maybe become a best-selling author and that my sweet romance wasn't cutting it in publishing. That, of course, isn't the best way to do it. I don't disregard those who write purely for money and success, but that's not how I tick.

Writing for me runs MUCH deeper than that. It's in my blood. The flow heals me and feeds me. I have to write. It's like eating. It's like breathing.

Anyway, after a two-and-a-half-year writer's block, things are starting to happen. I managed to write one fantasy novel in the time and one romance - Cat Therapy, which is a sweet romance. I love sweet romance. I love reading it and writing it. I think that the feelings between the couple are so, so important and sweet romance puts a highlight on the progression of the emotional side. I love that.

But sometimes, I like the tease of the sex scene. I love to see how the couple come together and how their chemistry works.
Thank you to pexels.com for the free pic.

As far as writing it goes, it's just been happening. I haven't been planning to write sex scenes, but they've just been happening. The characters have called for it. The romance has needed it. And...it's also part of my healing. It's part of letting go the shame attached to sex from my previous belief system, and it's healing my hurt from my marriage and my divorce. I think part of the reason I struggled to write sex scenes properly as Vicki is because there were things wrong in my marriage and I didn't see it. Now, after healing and seeing things in a whole new light, I've got a dream. A dream about a man who will be tender and kind and just what I need. And I'm writing the hero I want. The man I'd love to make love to one day. And writing it is so cathartic. It's glorious. And it's showing me who I am.

I think that's what's so beautiful about the well-written sex scene - it can show us what a good partnership can look like. How a good and loving lover can be. And I think that's why erotic romance always upset me. And the shame from religion.

Being sex positive is a new thing for me. I've always felt these twinges that it's wrong to write sex and it's wrong to read it. But now, this gentle peace and this sparkling excitement is rising up in my soul as I begin to embrace the truth that we are sexual beings and as long as we make sexual decisions that respect ourselves and others, we aren't shameful and bad human beings. It's not easy to believe this and I still have a long way to go to be totally free, but I'm getting there. One step at a time.