Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Cat Therapy Release and Giveaway


Cat Therapy is now available on Amazon as a Kindle and Print book.

I'm offering a rafflecopter giveaway to promote my book. The prizes are a signed copy of the print book of Cat Therapy, a catnip pouch for your beloved cat, and a polymer-clay cat necklace. The prizes will be posted to you when the rafflecopter ends.

I'm also looking for reviewers to read my book. My reviewers will get a beautiful cat coloring and sticker book with a book of cat images and quotes. You can enter this on the second rafflecopter below. All you have to do is show me your receipt of purchase and your review on Amazon. Prize is not dependent on how many stars you give my book. You just have to have read it to the end and reviewed it honestly.

These two giveaways will run until the end of March to give you time to read the book.

You can buy the book here: Amazon

Cat Therapy is a tender and funny women's fiction and romance novel about healing, love, and cats—lots of them!

Two-times divorcée Cherry Smith is quite happy with single life. Well, a little lonely at times—until she gets given four more cats to add to her two. When the kitten needs some shots, she visits the new vet in town. Dr. Jeff Clark turns out to be even more handsome than what she's heard. But Cherry can't let him distract her—she's been burned too many times by attractive men. Jeff makes her feel uncomfortable, especially when he seems to disapprove of her having six cats. To pacify him, she tells him that she's running a cat therapy hotel. As she ponders the lie, she realizes what a fantastic idea it is, especially since she has to move out of her home. With the help of her friend Delia, they set up a bed-and-breakfast facility.

People come from far and wide to enjoy the love of her cats, including a gentle widower named Seb, who needs help with his grieving son. Maybe she should rather date Seb. He'd make the perfect husband. And, much to her irritation, Jeff keeps checking up on her cat therapy hotel. How can she get rid of him? When Cherry is swept away by the trials and joys of her cat therapy hotel, she has to learn what she wants most in life and the true meaning of love and friendship.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

We Need to Get Rid of the Stigma of Mental Illness

Mental illness is just an illness. We are so blessed to live in a day and age where there are advanced drugs and ways to treat people so they can live close to normal lives. There are so many people who are walking around with undiagnosed mental illnesses, who are not getting the help they need because they see it as a weakness. But sometimes, the chemicals in our brains just go out of sync for several reasons. There is nothing weak and bad about seeking out medical help in this area.

The last few months have been quite stressful for me because of battling with strange physical symptoms. The doctor couldn't work out what was wrong with me and did several tests. She eventually booked me into the hospital to get an MRI on my brain and to do some other tests. The MRI came out clear and I did mention that I was very anxious at the time - the day of the MRI, I couldn't stop crying and felt really low and just had a feeling this was psychological. They sent a psychiatrist to look at me. She prescribed some anti-anxiety medicine and I felt strangely better except for rather sleepy. They discharged me but sent me to a special place called Nuture for about a week. This place was amazing. I got to see a psychologist and psychiatrist every day and listened to various up-building talks about handling stress and being more assertive. The vibe of the place was amazing. The other patients and I grew so close even though we'd only known each other a few days.

In the beginning, I was a little resistant to the psychiatrist giving me meds which were a long-term solution to anxiety and also a mild anti-depressant. But she managed to convince me the necessity of it and that she would watch the symptoms. Then the root of my issue with taking meds came out when I was talking to the psychologist. It came from other peoples' ignorance pushed upon me about mental health and medicine. When I was going through my divorce, I entered into a rebound relationship with a guy and one of the things he said to me was that he didn't date women who were on meds, that he didn't like the way they acted. I seemed to remember he described them as if they became like these robots with no emotions. Because I really wanted him to take me seriously and date me, I thought "I'm sure I'll manage going through this stressful time without meds. I'm surviving." But the body has only so much stress that it can handle when it eventually reaches a point where it needs some assistance. Turns out this guy was a player anyway and I was so stupid to hope I'd get a healthy relationship with him.

A few months after the conversation with him, I was a victim of crime where I was living and it sent me into a spiral of anxiety. I went to the GP for something out of desperation and he prescribed a really strong anti-depressant that made me feel awful - I felt numb and everything seemed to close in around me. There was another man I was in contact with and who I dated for a while. I told him about it and he said that any type of mental-health medication is bad for you. So, I promptly went off them and tried to handle things without the help. We did manage to move over to a safer area and my anxiety eased.

But then this last year, I've had one stress after the other. I never wanted to take medication and tried the natural route, which works a bit, but not enough. So, in the end, I'm glad this whole thing happened and I managed to work with a professional who knows how to treat me. I'm already starting to feel better. I have my moments but the meds do take almost a month to start working fully.

It's just so sad that I was subjected to the ignorance of others with regards to my health. I never wanted to be this weird robot of a person. But I've never felt like that on the latest medicine. I was made to feel like half a woman for needing help. I know that I've suffered anxiety most of my life. In fact, it started as a teenager. I've needed this for years, but the stigma attached to getting help with mental illness often stands in the way of getting the help we need. My psychiatrist said that 1 out of 4 people suffer from anxiety disorder. Yes, I know that there are ways to work with it without meds, and I've been working so hard on those for the last few years (like meditation, self-love, exercise), but sometimes life becomes one stress after another and you struggle to keep up. Part of self-love is being holistic in our treatment - using all the ways to work together to bring us to wholeness and happiness. Finally, I've found the missing link.

I hope that the message comes out strong that we should be open to all ways to heal our mental health. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you are not a weak or bad person. It just is. It's like having a low thyroid or high blood pressure. It's not a sign of weakness to seek help but rather of strength and wisdom. It took me three years to realise this. Or let's say 30 years really. I hope no one has to suffer that long.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

My Up and Coming Sweet Romance / Women's Fiction

I'm so excited as Cat Therapy is heading towards formatting with its publisher, Black Opal Books. That means it should be coming out soonish. I have no idea when and I don't have a cover yet, but it's been such a lovely feeling working on the final edits. I read through the book yesterday, even though I was supposed to be having a rest from editing, but I wanted to get it done as next week I'm getting stuck into some editing jobs again. I try not to do much reading over the weekend as I need to rest my mind and eyes. I put it on my kindle. I always seem to find errors that way that I never pick up when reading it on the screen.

I signed a contract for Cat Therapy last year August, but there were some changes happening in Black Opal Books and some of their contracted books got delayed, mine being one of them. The wait was so hard. The book had been through the mill already with a challenging overhaul. It's had so many changes made to it, but I have to admit that I'm really happy with it now and that's rare for me - I'm overly critical of my own work.

I have been so indecisive on what genre to promote this book as. It's got a strong romance threading through it but it also has other stuff, so it reeks of women's fiction. I don't know if you've ever read Katie Fforde. She usually writes a story about a woman who has some life-changing and growth experiences in her life and places a strong romance in her novels. Well, it's like that. I wouldn't say my style is the same as hers, but it kind of reminds me of her books.

It's a book for cat lovers and those who want to learn about the magical love of cats.

Here is my latest blurb:

Cat Therapy is a tender and funny women's fiction / romance novel about healing, love, and cats—lots of them!

Two-times divorcée Cherry Smith is quite happy with single life. Well, a little lonely at times—until her elderly friends give her four cats. She already has two cats and a dog. Can she handle six cats? When the kitten needs her shots, she visits the new vet in town. Dr. Jeff Clark turns out to be even more handsome than what she's heard. But Cherry can't let him distract her. She's been burned too many times by attractive men. He makes her feel uncomfortable, especially when she tells him she has six cats, and he seems to disapprove. To pacify him, she says that she's running a cat therapy hotel. As she ponders the lie on her way home, she realizes what a fantastic idea it is. With the help of her friend Delia, they set up a bed and breakfast facility.

People come from far and wide to enjoy the love of her cats, including a gentle widower named Seb, who needs help with his grieving son. Cherry should really go for someone like him, but when the impossible Jeff Clark keeps wanting to check on her business, she can't help wanting to be with the man who takes her breath away. Friendship with him wouldn't be a good idea because she likes him too much and it's way too soon after his divorce. They just can't seem to see eye to eye either. Maybe she should rather date comfortable Seb. When Cherry is swept away by the trials and joys of her cat therapy hotel, she has to learn what she wants most in life and the true meaning of love and friendship.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Does Loving Yourself Mean Not Caring about Your Health

I've written a lot of posts about body positivity lately. And I got to thinking: What if you thought I didn't care about health? So, I thought I'd do a little post about how to focus on health and still love yourself as you are. The two aren't mutually exclusive; in fact, they go quite well together. Because our mental / emotional health affects our body too.

Health and morality do not meet. You are not a bad person if you are struggling with something in your body, or how to balance things in your physical life. But, hey, don't we all want to have that energy to pursue the things we love? If we can do a few things to make ourselves feel healthier, why not?

Anyway, these are my little health tips. I'm not a pro at this, but these are little, happy, casual, balanced ways I look after my health:

1. Take time to prepare a healthy meal every mealtime. Yes, it's an effort, and with a busy life, it can sometimes be hard, but you'll find that if you fill yourself up with healthy foods, you're less likely to fill up on fast foods or unhealthy snacks. You can still have the snacks, because oftentimes, it's the prohibition that makes us binge more, but you'll crave them less (or less of them) when you are already full and nourished. I still snack, but the snacks don't make the bulk of my nutrition. And healthy foods don't have to be boring foods. Spend that little extra on those gorgeous berries for your breakfast cereal. Colour your plate. You're worth it. (I struggle with quite a few food intolerances and allergies. At times it annoys me as I can't eat sweets and chocolates or many processed foods anymore. My doctor said it's a good thing, and I've been thinking, really, maybe it is. 😊)

2. Keep moving. This one is so hard if you're spending your whole day at the office behind a screen. That's why I like to go for a walk on the beach most weekends. If you don't get to move as often as you want or at all in a week, don't give up. Try your next free moment. The most important thing is to find a form of exercise you enjoy. It's when we do things we hate or just endure, just in the name of health, or to look good, we can't sustain them long-term. Find something you love doing where it doesn't even feel like you're exercising, like dancing, or walking in a favourite nature spot. Have a break or two in the middle of your work day - do some stretches or walk around a bit. I like to go to the garden, look or tend to my plants, and sit in the sun. (See point 5)

3. Don't let pursuing your health become your main focus in life unless that's what you do for a living or you're on a mission to nyx chronic illness. As soon as it takes up too much of your time, you are getting out of balance and your mental, emotional, and relationship health will suffer. If you need to focus on it for a while to get things back on track, great, but don't let it become an obsession. This is something you have to be careful with food. I know I've had a tendency to get orthorexia (becoming obsessed with healthy foods) in the past. It never helped me and it made me more sick. Food should be a pleasure and a joy. We affect our nutrition oftentimes more with the thoughts we have about the food we are eating than the actual food. Studies have shown that if we feel guilty about eating something, we don't get the full nutritional benefit of the food. All food has some nutrition in it. Let's be grateful for every morsel we get.

4. Sleep. Yes, I know, it's so hard to get enough of this bugger. I'm a night owl; I relate. But even if you take a nap as soon as you get home from work, or in a quiet spot in your lunch hour, why not? Best thing is to try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. If you can't, try to catch up a bit on the weekend. I know they say that doesn't work, but I think it certainly helps. Try not to overcommit yourself on weekends and week nights. Another thing I did was download this app on my computer called Flux and on my phone called Twilight - they take the blue light off my screens. The blue light keeps us awake at night. If you get out into real sunshine during the day, you'll also sleep better at night. I think one of the surest ways to mess up your sleep cycle is to not get enough calories in your diet and to overexercise. If you find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to pee, you most likely are not eating enough or resting your body enough from movement (unless you're pregnant, of course). It's a sign that your metabolism is slow. A good way to check whether your metabolism is fast enough is to take your temperature first thing in the morning. I think it should be above 98.6F (37C).

5. Get outside in the sun and fresh air. We miss out on so much in our modern lifestyles. We need sunshine. We spend too much time indoors. Find something you enjoy doing outdoors and make a plan to do it at least once a week, if you can. If you're like me and can't drink dairy milk, watch your Vitamin D levels. I have to take supplements.

6. Try to avoid eating lots of processed meats. As nice as they are, they should be a treat every now and then, not the main meat that you eat. Eating less meat helps our planet and our bodies, and even more so cutting out those ones that have been processed. There are so many interesting meals you can make with just veggies or with healthier, lean meats. (But don't feel guilty if you have that ham pizza; the guilt is worse for you than that bit of ham.)

7. Watch the fats that you eat. Good fats are things like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado. Try to avoid processed vegetable oils, especially fried at a high temp.

Anyway, I'm guessing you know all this already, but I hope I gave you the feeling that working toward or maintaining our health can be a self-loving thing that is not weighed down with self-loathing and shame. That is my intention. It should be fun.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Self-Love When It's Hard

So, I write a lot about loving yourself, even when it's hard, in my second book, that should be coming out in a few months. It's not always easy to love yourself, but the key is to love yourself even when you aren't being very loving toward yourself. Sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't. Let me give you an example of my own story.

I'm in the middle of perimenopause - that trying time when the body is transitioning into menopause. It's not an easy thing to go through. The symptoms it's causing make me feel really low about myself at that time of the month. I literally feel ugly and hate my looks. It doesn't help when I have a tendency already to compare my weight to others. It's something I've learned from our culture. It's sad really.

I saw a nude painting of Helen of Troy in a movie I watched a couple of weeks ago. She was supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world at that time, and she looked a lot like me nude - full hips, rolls in the tummy area, tree-trunk thighs - you get the picture. It's really, really sad that nowadays you're pretty much unpopular and regarded as unworthy, lazy, and unhealthy if you're not slim. I could go into the health behind it, but I'm not going to now. That's a whole other post.

Hans Baldung 1545 (Not Helen of Troy)

Anyway, because being slim is regarded as beautiful and worthy, especially for women, when you're the fattest woman in the room, you feel kind of horrible, no matter how much you love yourself when you're at home, doing your thing. It's harder to love yourself when the culture screams at you at the top of its lungs continually.

So, I went to my dance group social on Monday. I shouldn't have gone because on the first day of my period, I really don't feel well physically. But I had FOMO (fear of missing out). Anyway, it was such an odd day with a lot going on and not feeling well, and I don't have a full-length mirror, so the outfit I chose wasn't a good pick. I only figured that out after the fact. I went there and danced to some of my favourite songs. It's something I love doing. But I began to feel sick and had to leave early. I pushed myself a bit hard, despite feeling sick, just to prove to people in the room that the fat girl could also dance. Not a good reason to push yourself. The next day, the first thing I saw in the morning was a video of us dancing. I looked like a blob / rock amongst elegant trees. Everyone else looked graceful and lovely and I was this round ball on the screen with spindly legs and arms sticking out. I was horrified. I was so embarrassed. I wished I had worn something slim-fitting, to make me look less huge. I began to go through scenarios in my mind - judging myself and hating on myself. It was NOT AT ALL EASY to love myself. And the hormones were pulling me down into the pit.

Image by https://pixabay.com/users/diefototipps-190751
Just as animals come in all shapes and sizes, so do we.
Should we shoot the hippo and the seal because they are fat? Just saying.

What did I do? Not much except go watch some videos from my favourite fat-positive nutritionists and tell myself that this will pass. That I will soon feel better about myself, that next time I will wear something more flattering. But then I judged myself for not loving myself enough to have to wear something that was culturally more acceptable. This morning I thought - no, I can still work hard to wear something that makes me look thinner - there's nothing un-self-loving about that. We live in a culture that rejects us for being fat. What's wrong with working as hard as I can to make it easier on myself? (I'm not talking about dieting here. Yes, you are welcome to diet, but I'm no longer dieting as that is what made me go up three dress sizes after feeling sick as anything.)

Once my hormones were no longer persecuting me the next day, I felt better about myself. I felt tender toward myself. I concentrated on self-love in my morning meditation. I felt at peace again.

Now, having written a self-love book makes me feel all the more that I should be an example of self-love and not have these wobbles. But they happen. Often. And the key here is to love myself through it - to be gentle with myself as I grow in self-love. Will I ever feel okay about living in a bigger body? I don't know. I doubt I will. I have read so much material by fat-positive activists and coaches - they all struggle. Yes, they've made strides, but they still have bad days. It's so hard when society works against you - when you get looks, when you get rejected. Yes, I believe things are starting to change. As the health-at-every-size science research makes inroads into mainline medicine, things will start to change. But there is a tide that we are working against. And maybe in this lifetime, we won't get there, but things will get better - I believe it.

Another way that I slipped in my self-love this last week was overworking and not taking time out. So many things were happening around me, and they took over. It's so hard to put yourself first and nurture yourself when life throws you one challenge after another. You feel exhausted, depleted, and you've lost touch with that inner connection of love and peace. But it's never too late to find it again. As we grow in self-love, we learn how to make that connection again and again. We learn how to spring back sooner. We become more and more aware when we fall away. We begin to develop this self-love barometer inside our souls that speaks to us when we're going the non-loving route. Yes, it doesn't happen straight away. And I doubt we'll ever have it down to mastery. That's why we need to be gentle with ourselves. Accept that sometimes we neglect ourselves in the pursuit of money, helping others, putting out fires. It's part of life. The key is to say to yourself, "This too shall pass. Well done, you are doing so well despite it all. You're getting there."

I had the most glorious weekend where I let myself drink in the things that feed my soul - reading a good book, resting, walking at the beach, watching a favourite show. When you do get that chance to unwind and put yourself first, you'll come back to that sanctuary that you've made for yourself. It will now be a familiar spot; you will crave it and know how much it helps you. You'll be renewed and things will fall into place again. You'll be more mindful of when you do get out of balance.

You are a self-loving being. You can do it. Even if you fail, pick yourself up, and get onto the love-train again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

I've Been Getting Crafty

Okay, it was quite a while ago, but I got crafty. I enjoy water painting. It's a relaxing pastime for me. I'm not particularly talented. Or let's say I'm not aiming to sell my paintings as they're practice and experimentation. It's more like a meditation for me. I paint to relax my mind. And my arty daughter usually loves to join me any time I bring out the paints.

Being a lover of tarot and oracle cards, I decided to make a little oracle deck to go with my self-love book. So I cut out oracle-card shaped pieces of watercolour paper and painted patterns or backgrounds on them. Then I used a calligraphy pen to write the messages. The messages come from my book - I've used the affirmations at the end of each day.

I did a video showing off my cards for the first book. I have put it on Facebook as it's too large for Blogger. Here is the link to my author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathy.bosmanauthor

And here are some pics of a few of the cards.

You can find my book on preorder here: https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Love-Me-Days-Self-Love-ebook/dp/B07W9FJ36K

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Excerpt from Falling in Love with Me

I can't believe my book is coming out in a few weeks. The last few weeks have been one challenge after another. Life doesn't always show sympathy and make our paths easy. But here I am - still standing.

I would love to share an excerpt with you from my self-love book, just for you to get a taste of what it offers.

This comes from Day 4 - Respect Yourself

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 you 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.

My book is available on preorder on Amazon and Smashwords here:


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Stages of Writing and Publishing a Book and a Cover Reveal

There are about eleven stages in birthing a book out into the world:

1. Thinking up an idea.
2. Writing the first draft.
3. Reading through and editing the first draft - maybe rewriting stuff.
4. Sending to beta readers and fixing.
5. Deciding what to do with the book and going ahead with it - self-publishing or sending out to publishers.
6. Getting that contract or editor to work on your book.
7. Going through the editing stage.
8. Designing a cover or working with a cover designer, then doing the cover reveal. (This stage could be done at the same time as stage 7.)
9. Formatting the book and starting off your marketing.
10. Book release day!
11. Marketing, marketing, marketing...

I'd love to know what your favourite stage is. I'm more and more feeling like writing the first draft is truly the best part. There's something about that tingle of first creation that's so powerful, so beautiful, like the first few buds of spring after a long winter. Getting a new cover is another high moment. I think my worst stages are definitely 5, 7, and 11. Marketing being the worst. I hate pushing myself out there. I'm excited to talk about my book, but after going through the editing stage, I've lost a bit of that starry-eyed wonder toward it. Now I see it too critically. It's hard to take that editor's eye off it. Marketing isn't my strongest point. I know it's so important though. I would prefer someone else to do it all for me. But, in the end, I'd say all the stages are special in their own way and part of the wonderful and sometimes gruelling process.

Anyway, I have hit the cover-reveal stage of my self-love book. I'm so excited as I absolutely adore this cover that my daughter Laura made. She is so talented.

Falling in Love with Me

30 Days of Self-Love

Do you struggle to like yourself? Do you battle with negative thoughts about your body, your worth, or your personality? Do you wish you were like someone else? What if you could learn to love yourself? Falling in Love with Me is a book full of nuggets of wisdom on how to love yourself, even if the world keeps on telling you otherwise. In thirty days, you can grow your self-love muscle and change the way you speak to yourself in your head. And maybe become a more peace-filled and happy person.

Falling in Love with Me is written in a casual, intimate style without the clutter of academic jargon and multiple exercises and worksheets. It's a self-love book that can be read as your daily companion. Each day's write-ups are short and sweet but pack a punch in whispering those loving thoughts right in your ear, like a dear best friend who always has your back. Born out of grief, this book shows a way to heal your broken heart and bring you back to love.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

BR to Four Foxes, One Hound - Commonalities in My Stories

I follow this amazing author blog called Four Foxes, One Hound. It's comprised of five authors who share parts of their lives and about their writing and books. The theme this past week has been Commonalities in My Stories. The authors have listed the common themes or threads in the books that they've written. So, I couldn't resist doing a BR - Blog Response. 😊 You can find Jeff Salter's one here. He went into huge detail. I don't know if I can match that, but I'm going to try to list a few things.

Four Foxes, One Hound

Major Characters

Most of the time, my main character is a heroine and she's usually into something that she's really passionate about, which is her career in life. Or she changes her life around to follow this special dream. For example, in the Wedding Girls Series, with Clean Reads, they were all into things to do with weddings. Kiana sold wedding gowns and sewed bridesmaid dresses on the side; Elaine made wedding cakes; and Rachel ran a wedding chapel on a cruise ship. In my Creators Series, with Decadent Publishing, Tessa ran an art gallery and painted these secret paintings of her dream of having a kid; Rowena was a ballet teacher; and Alicia was into photography but suppressed her desires because she carried so much shame.

Usually my heroines are more introverted, but not always. They often aren't looking for romance. They've either given up or are jaded from a broken relationship, or they're too busy with their lives.

My heroes are generally kind, gentle, giving types. Maybe too perfect. I could probably develop them more.

Secondary Characters

The heroine usually has a best friend who helps her along the way. Sometimes she gets a story in the next book, e.g., the book I'm writing at the moment is the story of Colette's best friend, Rachel, who features in When Love Blooms, which has just been contracted with Black Opal Books.

I do have grandmothers, aunts, cousins, work colleagues, or siblings. But most of the time there's a best friend around.

In Cat Therapy, it's Delia, who comes alongside Cherry to help her run her Cat Therapy Hotel.

Main Themes

The usual theme of my books is finding love, but in my later, more recent books, I've tried to thread in a women's fiction theme, as well, where my characters have discovered things about themselves and grown as people. The love relationship isn't the only focus. For e.g. in Cat Therapy, Cherry learns about self-love and how to heal from heartache. In the book I'm writing at present, my heroine learns the importance of balance and taking time to rest and renew. In my short story, Ghostly Tours, the heroine learns the importance of forgiveness of the past. In Reminding Me of You, Mia learns to listen to her intuition.

Other Things that Come Up

I find a lot of my books feature cats as pets: Wedding Gown Girl, Cat Therapy, and now my latest book, In Full Fruit.

I also have a thing about magical shops / items. This features in my Album series which I have taken off the market until I fix up Book 1. I wrote a magic shop in my first ever novel, The Shoe Shop, which is pretty awful, lol.

I'd love to hear what common threads you have through your books.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Shame vs Self-Confidence

Whew, it's been quite a week. I don't know if it's to do with the lunar eclipse and new moon energies. Probably a little. Anyway, in my journey to self-love, I've been quite aware that self-confidence is a big part of it, but I haven't felt quite ready to write about that one. Maybe it's because I know that I need to work on this one big time.
Thank you to Vinicius Altava on www.pexels.com

As I now practice a more earth-based spirituality, I like to work with the moon phases and one of the things I do is set an intention on the new moon for what I want to increase in my life. The previous new moon, I set the intention to work on my self-confidence. Little did I realise how much I would need this and how much it would be tested. Everything was going okay, until a few days ago.

I went to a social outing with a group of my dance friends on Saturday. The ladies were getting more and more relaxed as they downed some glasses of wine. I love the taste of wine, but I just can't consume much at all, and because I'm pretty much a total lightweight, I don't drink any alcohol if I have to drive home. But, I have a tendency to pick up the vibe of a place and wine makes people more relaxed, so then I become more relaxed. The ladies were starting to talk openly about themselves, so I jumped in and told them something very personal about myself and also about my healing journey from my divorce. The responses were mostly positive and supportive, but not all of them.

I went home reeling. I was so embarrassed. I wished I hadn't said anything. I didn't know how I was going to face my group of friends the following week when I went to dancing. It had taken me a year and a half (as an introvert) to start to feel relaxed and open with them. Now, I felt like I was almost back to square one.

That night, as I tried to fall asleep, I had a weird headache on the left side of my head. I eventually fell asleep. The next morning I woke up and after only being awake for a few minutes, I got something in my right eye, or so I thought. It was so uncomfortable and no matter what I did, I couldn't seem to get it out. I rinsed with water; I even watched a sad movie to make me cry it out. Nada. Nothing worked. I immediately thought that it may have some spiritual significance to what I was going through, but I wasn't sure what. The eye problems got worse until finally both eyes were itchy and scratchy.

Fast-forward to last night. I had returned home from the dance lesson feeling so annoyed with myself. I'd been so awkward and uncomfortable with my friends. Most of them were treating me the same, but there was this uncomfortable feeling. It came mostly from me, but a bit from them. I did not have a good time; although I loved the dancing. I came home determined to work on myself. I knew my self-love had taken a nosedive.

I thought of one of my favourite self-help teachers, Brene Brown. She's a vulnerability researcher who did a TED video that went viral.

Anyway, she talks about vulnerability as though it's a good thing. That reminded me that I'd been incredibly brave on Saturday sharing a vulnerable part of myself. It had taken immense courage. I wasn't the loser and bad person and idiot that my mind or "their supposed thoughts about me" were telling me. I was a braveheart. Brene says that vulnerability makes people beautiful. And so it does. (I've written a chapter on this in my self-love book.)

She also talks about shame. The biggest barrier to self-confidence is shame and letting it get to us. When we allow others' thoughts or 'supposed thoughts of us' make us feel shame, then we lose confidence in ourselves. Shame is basically the message that we are not enough. And that's how I was feeling.

Last night, I went out to look at the lunar eclipse. I said a prayer for release of all my shame. I reached out for self-confidence and for self-love. I felt something beautiful and loving. I also acknowledged how it was my own thinking that had caused the problems with my friends - my own listening to the lies about myself.

This morning, I woke up with a notification on my phone from the meditation app I use. Someone, who had put up a guided meditation I did a few months ago, thanked me for a review I'd posted on their meditation. I clicked on the review and decided to just look up the meditation teacher. Right at the top of her page was a course on Self-Confidence and Help with Social Problems! What? I knew it was a miracle that I'd stumbled upon this. I did the first lesson of the course. We had to write down things that had happened to us in our lives that had taught us to be ashamed of ourselves. There was that shame word again that I'd listened to the night before on YouTube with Brene Brown. How amazing is that? I wrote down those things. Then we were to forgive those who had caused the shame and not think too deeply about each thing, but to just release them. I did that. We were supposed to crumple up the paper into a ball. I did that. What a release I felt.

Anyway, a few hours later, I realised that my eye was totally healed. How incredible is that? I believe it had a link to how I was seeing myself (and a bit of allergies). What do you think?

I'd love to write more about self-confidence. I will in the future, because it's something I've struggled with a lot in my life. Being introverted does not mean I have to suffer with this ailment. I can overcome it! And so can you.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Spotlight on Angels in Darkness

Today I want to welcome to my blog fellow Clean Reads author, A.R. Conti Fulwell. We are putting a spotlight on her book, Angels in Darkness, which is coming soon! It is an Historical, Inspirational Romance. Wow!

Author Bio

A. R. Conti Fulwell holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Malone University and a master’s degree in Education from Walsh University. Her storytelling journey began many years ago when her mother showed her the magic of rewriting fairy tales. She claims it is the cure for insomnia, or at least it was for her. Influenced by the greats – Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, T. S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Amanda resides near Canton, Ohio, and can usually be found curled up with a book, a pen, and paper, or behind a camera shooting a short film.

Short Blurb:

Relentless and refusing to be beaten, Piero Catone is looking for a rematch. Convinced that Lina’s love is the only thing that will save him from himself, he sets off to win her at any cost. Lina, now the Princess Clarice Angelina d’Orsini wife of Lorenzo de Medici, will not be strong-armed so easily. When Piero’s plan goes terribly wrong, he finds himself faced with a straight-forward decision: Will he follow the light or surrender to the darkness?

Short Excerpt:

“And what is this cruel joke? This man who can answer all my questions is laying right here, unconscious. Why are you toying with me?” Carità stifled a sob, feeling her insides clench as if rung like a dirty rag.

And suddenly, she stopped.

The man on the table grasped her hand, and it was all she could do to breathe.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ARContiFulwell/

Instagram: @arcontifulwell

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/arcontifulwell/

Snapchat: @arfulwell

Website: https://arcontifulwell.com/

Blog: https://arcontifulwell.wordpress.com/

Friday, June 7, 2019

What to do About Love

This is a personal post about my dating and love adventures after marital separation and divorce. I think everyone's story is different, but we all have a story to tell and maybe we can grow and learn from each other's.

As soon as my marriage looked like it was totally unsalvageable, I found myself embroiled in a messy rebound relationship. (Yes, in hindsight I feel terribly guilty about this as my divorce hadn't gone through, but I knew the marriage was over. You just know. I had tried absolutely everything I could think of to save it but nothing had worked.) It sounds cliche to have a rebound relationship, but I think it's quite a common thing, especially after a long relationship where you aren't used to being single and are petrified of the prospect - I'd been married most of my adult life - nearly twenty years. I wouldn't recommend a rebound relationship to anyone, but I think in some ways I needed to go through it. I needed to know that a man wanted me in some way, even though it really wasn't the way I ultimately would like. I needed to know I could still be with someone else. The relationship ended when I realised he couldn't be trusted and I'd ignored some huge, nasty red flags. I discovered how bad my judgement was when I was desperate to find someone to fill the hole my ex-husband had left.

As soon as the marriage crumbled, I also foolishly went onto dating websites. I think because I'd seen how a dear family member had found a beautiful love very soon after her divorce, I thought it was possible for me. So, I went on a few dates with guys, even a couple of second dates, but none of them were right for me. About a year later, I found myself in a relationship with the handyman who came to the house where I was staying. It started when I confided in him some difficulties I was having. Of all the relationships I've had so far, I think he was genuinely one of the nicest. He really was a great guy. But I knew he wasn't right for me and I actually broke it up with him. I felt so bad, but I knew it wouldn't work. That was a plus for me - that I had the strength to end something instead of clinging onto a relationship for fear of being single. After that, I began to realise that I wasn't ready for dating and relationships. I decided that I would wait two years from my separation (when I knew the marriage was over) before I started online dating again. I would work on self-love, healing from my divorce, and finding myself. It was good and deeply healing.

When the two-year mark came along, I went back on the dating websites. I even paid for a couple of months' subscription for one of them. The first time a guy messaged me, we got on quite well and we decided to meet for a walk along the beach. He was polite, friendly, nice. I was hopeful, but still not sure. There were a few concerns. For one, his divorce hadn't gone through yet. I decided to give him a chance so we went on a second date. That one went even better but there was one glaring conflict with us - a religious thing - one I couldn't get over. When I told him that I read tarot cards, he mentioned something about living our lives right so we didn't go to hell. Although the tone of voice he used was soft, I just couldn't reconcile with his way of thinking. We also hit a few communication snags later on. So, I ended it with him. For some reason, that took so much energy out of me and I promptly deleted my profiles off all the sites. I sought spiritual advice on what direction to take in my dating life. I began to feel like I didn't want to meet my future love online. For some reason, it didn't feel right. I couldn't explain why; it was just gut feel. So I trusted that in my social and outside-the-home activities I would one day meet someone.

At a spiritual group I went to a few months back, I met a guy I liked. I messaged him a few weeks later to try to strike up something. Hey, it's now the modern thing for ladies to reach out too. So, I took that bold step. It didn't end too well. He showed no interest. But at least I'd tried.

When my kids went to their dad a few weeks ago, I had much more time to myself, time to think, silence, and solitude. After a week, I decided to go back on the dating sites. This time I wasn't desperate to find anyone as I was mostly happy on my own, but I figured that my kids are getting big now and would soon be heading out on their own. It was high time I started looking for someone. We're told by dating coaches and I'd seen many articles online saying that if we didn't make the effort and get out there, meeting people online and arranging dates, that we wouldn't meet anyone. We couldn't leave it up to chance. We had to be proactive. I still wasn't sure if online dating was my thing - I pretty much knew it wasn't my thing, but I went ahead and signed up on Tinder which is the only free decent one in my country. I trawled through about 50 photos of men in my area, and probably liked about a third to a half of them. I was careful, but also tried not to be too picky and to keep an open mind. The next few days, I waited for some likes back - Tinder lets you know. Nothing. Not a single one. Then the one night I was going through more of them and something happened. I cannot explain it, but it just felt really, really wrong in the deepest part of my being. It felt fake, it felt unnatural. I was shopping for men. It was like I wasn't seeing the men - I was seeing an outward shell. And they were seeing the same with me. And my outward shell wasn't enough for them. I know my worth. I know I'm an amazing person - beautiful, kind, interesting, and intelligent. I felt that I wasn't being valued and neither were they. I also felt in the deepest part of me - my intuition - that some of those men were not good types at all. You couldn't see - you couldn't pick up their vibes because you're not there with them, feeling their personal energy, but I knew it inside. I felt like I dodged a bullet - a really dangerous one - as I deleted my profile the next day.

I stayed  a bit longer on two more apps - Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel. For some reason I don't get a bad vibe / feeling with these ones. I have no idea what I was picking up on Tinder that one night, but it was seriously way-out-there freaky bad. I have now gone off all the apps again.

I have come to the conclusion, the last week or so, that I'm not meant to date or be in a relationship at this time in my life. It hasn't been easy. There are some days when I want someone really badly. I want someone to kiss and make love to; I want someone to talk to when my kids aren't here; I want someone to share life's ups and downs with. But there's another part of me that really wants to continue on this exciting journey of discovering myself and revelling in my freedom as a single person. Solitude has no longer become my worst enemy. In fact, sometimes I relish it. The silence is like a beautiful presence. It's in the silence and solitude that my connection to the Divine is so much stronger. And I really want to build that connection. I don't want anything to come in the way of that.

Will I ever date again? I'm pretty sure of it. I believe there will come a time, but it's not now. I just know in the deepest part of me - my intuition / gut feel - that it's not the right time.

Before I met my husband, things were kind of similar. I wasn't like other young women - dating different men, getting seriously into relationships, and breaking them off, and starting again. I used to feel out at times, but it never happened. It was weird. It was like I had this bubble around me. I wouldn't say I was particularly ugly. Yes, I was shy and not your ultra-contemporary sex goddess, but I was attractive in my own way. But it was like I wasn't meant to date. With every guy that I was interested in, I would hear this little voice inside me say, "no." The only person I didn't get this with was my ex. It was really frustrating, but I knew it was my intuition protecting me from something. And I'm getting the same thing again. I often see guys I like and then I often get, "no."

I don't know why this is so, but in a way I'm glad. I don't want to go through all the stress of online dating. I belong to several dating advice groups on Facebook and I hear so many stories of people and all the problems they have with online dating. I think of the few problems I've had so far, and I just don't have the energy for it. I feel that we are the stewards of our own energy. I sincerely believe that some people are meant to go through lots of dating to grow as people and discover who they really want. That sometimes they need to go through some difficult relationships. But that doesn't mean it's for everyone. I've sometimes wondered if it's my own fear of getting hurt again that's stopping me. It may seem like that to an outsider looking in, but deep inside I know that's not it. I know it's just not the right time.

So, I'm at this point now where I'm surrendering to The Universe. I'm not going to control how it's going to happen. I'm just going to trust. In the right time and in the right way, the best type of person will enter my life. For some reason, I'm being kept for them. I'm not into purity culture or "keeping yourself pure before marriage" but I do believe that relationships require an energy exchange and I believe my soul is protecting me from relationships that may be harmful to me until I'm strong and ready enough to handle more.

At the moment, I'm just following my intuition and pursing the things that mean a lot to me and which give me happiness and peace. There is love all around me and it doesn't always have to come from romance. The Universe is romancing me all the time. And it's beautiful. I'm on an exciting adventure of discovery, and I'm loving every moment.

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.


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.


“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. 


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


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


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.