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/


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.


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.


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.


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.