March was… It’s hard to describe. Crazy busy, super annoying. Big happy wins and crotchety pain-in-ass (literally) setbacks.
On the health front… I started the month still recovering from a busted tailbone, but by the third week, I sat comfortably (with a donut, still). My hand (last September’s fall) is still wonky and I met with the ortho guy who said the continued tightness and swelling are all normal, and if I keep doing my hand exercises, I should, someday, be able to curl my fist again and open a damn jar. Good news on the medical front? I had my second COVID shot and my dd had her first! Now, we have the 16 and 17-year-olds scheduled, too. We’re slowly getting there, but still masking and distancing, and will continue to do so until they have vaccines for the little ones.
On the work front… I finished writing Hardmanand published it! Woot! Thanks to everyone who read it and left a review. Reviews are so appreciated! I also completed 5 editing projects, two of which were loooonnng. They kicked my ass, but they are out the door! I got the rights back to some old books I published through some traditional houses a while ago, so I added them to my work schedule because they need a refurb, and one set of stories needs a readthrough because I want to write more in the series. To say the least, I’m super stoked.
On the art front… I am still slogging through the #100daychallenge, although I’m about ten days behind. Here are some of my favorites so far…
I completed my April calendar yesterday, and it already needs some fixes. I think April is going to be that kind of month—one where I have to be fluid and roll to evade the bombs and sinkholes. The big thing in April is that I have to write a book and publish it. Yeah, I haven’t written page one, but I generally do best when I’m running on adrenaline, and a hard deadline gooses me into creativity.
That book is Hot SEAL, In His Memory, and it’s going to be a hard one for me to write because it deals with the loss of a friend and a husband. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy…
As for editing gigs, I presently have two scheduled, but I had that many scheduled for March as well, and look what happened! So, I’m hoping I’ll have the first couple of weeks pretty free to dive into my new story.
On the homefront, I’ve begun work to get the green scum out of the pool. That’s always a weeks-long thing. I can’t wait to swim!!!!! And my dd is putting in a garden. We’re hoping it does well and that we have a summer full of lettuce, cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries, peppers, and more! I love admiring the “fruits” of her labor, but diggin’ in dirt is not my thing. I’ll maintain the pool, thank you very much.
And I plan to catch up on the art challenge, too. I’m getting better at it, I think. But the purpose is to connect with my creative center. Writing has become a job in my mind. I need to find that spark again.
So, I’d love to hear whether you had big wins in March and plans for April! Chime in for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Do you hear He-Man’s voice shouting that? Never heard it? I’ll fix that!
We lost power at 2 AM. I noted it and rolled over to go back to sleep, thinking that like 99% of the outages we have out here in the sticks that power would be back on in a couple of hours. At 5 AM, I woke up again, and the power was still off. Since I was the only one up, I put on some shoes and carried a flashlight down our long driveway to see whether I could see any lights across the road from us. Nada.
So, I called the power company, knowing that someone had to be the first person to notify them when there’s an outage or nothing gets done. I was the first. At hour number seven, I called back to see if they had any idea when power would be restored. They didn’t have a clue because a large pole went down in a swamp due to the storms we’ve had lately, and it wasn’t going to be an easy job to fix it.
Nice. A pole in a swamp. Who does that?
I had a good idea which swamp they were talking about, too. About a mile from us, way down the hill, is a place called Clear Lake. I think something was having fun naming it because it’s anything but clear. It’s a swamp. And it spreads outward every time it rains. Alligators live in it. In fact, about four years ago, a 10-foot gator took a stroll through an adjacent rice field. The kids love to fish there because they can watch the gators swim by when it’s warmer.
Anyway, we had to dig the generator out of the shop and start it up. We ran cords to the refrigerators. We have two. One for storage in the basement and one for the most-used items in the kitchen upstairs. With seven people in the house, we have to keep a lot of food on hand in case, you know, snowmaggedon or floods keep us cut off from town.
I know I sound like a complete hillbilly, but that’s country life. We love it. While the power was out, my SIL and dd headed to the store to buy vegetable plants for the garden they’re putting in. Yesterday, they were working on fencing to keep the horses inside. We had an incident the other day where some old fencing went down during a storm, and the horses ended up running through the ditch next to the highway to get to the green grass in our front yard. They’re penned in a small pasture now until the new fencing is done, but it’s raining today, so too wet to do any more fence work along the lower edge of the property where the ground is, you know, swampy, from the rain.
Anyway, the power is on again. Like a miracle. The day is shot so far is work is concerned, but I thought I’d pop my head in the door and tell you about my day. I’d love to hear about the weather-related issues you face on a regular basis.
The explosion of streaming services—Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, or any of the many others—has changed how we watch shows, miniseries, and movies. With so many options to choose from, there really is something for everyone.
This past year, many of us have been isolating more due to the pandemic. Until this happened, I never really binged on shows. It’s fun to not have to wait to see an entire season, or an entire series.
My Personal Top 5 Picks
The Mandalorian—The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the epic adventure of a lone gunfighter—the Mandalorian. When a job goes sideways, he’s left with the care of a baby Yoda. (There are currently two seasons.)
WandaVision—If you’re a fan of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) this series is a must-see. It takes place after the movie Endgame and gives us a glimpse into the life of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. If you’ve watched sitcoms from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, there’s pure magic in the early episodes. If you find it confusing at first, hang in there. It will all make sense in the end. Absolutely brilliant! (There are 9 episodes in total.)
(Both the above series are on Disney Plus. I don’t have this service, but my brother and SIL do. Thanks to several snowstorms and overnight stays, I was able to watch both series.)
The Witcher—This series follows the adventures of solitary monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. In his world, it’s sometimes the people who are more dangerous than the monsters. Henry Cavill is spellbinding as Geralt. (There’s one season, so far, with more to come.)
Bridgerton—Like so many people, I was curled up this past Christmas Day binging on the series that brought to life The Duke and I, the first book in the historical romance series of the same name, by Julia Quinn. I devoured all 9 episodes in two days. Brilliant ensemble cast! I can’t wait for season two!
The Old Guard—This original Netflix movie, starring Charlize Theron, follows a group of immortal assassins who are trying to protect their identity at the same time as a new member is uncovered. Action-packed and original, I can’t wait for the sequel. I love a movie where a badass woman kicks butt.
I’ve watched many documentaries, series, and movies. There really is a lot to explore. I’m looking forward to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney Plus. What have you been watching?
Blood of the Drakon Series
And if you feel like binging on a paranormal romance series, why not check out my Blood of the Drakon series. Drakon’s Promise, the first book in the series, is FREE.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Psst! Check out yesterday’s post.
I haven’t closed out all of those open contests! Enter now!!
I’m just poking my head in the door. Lots on my plate (what does that mean, anyway?) to do today. I need to make words (write-write-write, or at least come up with a page–I’d be happy with one!), edit a boatload of pages, and do some organizing in my bathroom cabinets. Gah. I hate housework. Did I mention I convinced the 12-year-old to be my housekeeper by offering her a monthly “salary”? Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts, but for now, it’s awesome!
Anyway, I’m sharing a puzzle. Hope you love it. The subject is mice because, with the recent cold spell we had, at least one mouse took up residence in our house. We set those humane capture-and-release traps. Nada. Then we went for the old-fashioned snap-traps. And ta-da! I hope he was the only one. The cats (all five!) were too fat and lazy to catch him. 🙁
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me a mouse story. Pet, pest? How did you rid yourself of them?
It’s Saturday, and I have some ground to cover this weekend to catch up on my schedule! Why did I fall behind? It’s kind of a mash of post-COVID-shot-malaise (there was a bit of fatigue associated with the shot, nothing big), plus the post-book-release-exhale (which is a real thing for me, folks!), but it’s time to step it up because I have a new book to whiz through this month, plus several editing projects. It never ends, and weekends aren’t weekends when you’re self-employed!
So, today, I will be editing and starting the new story. As well, I’m behind on the #100daychallenge, which is an art challenge I take on every year to get my creative juices going. I’ve been posting my paintings online, which is nerve-wracking because some of them look rushed and slapped together, but some of them…? I really like this one. I think it will earn a frame. 🙂
And I still have to promo Hardman, which is my latest release if you didn’t already know. It’s a fun, action-packed story with two very deserving-of-each-other characters. The story was a joy to write because my heroine is a “prickly pear” of a woman. Only Hardman can see her soft inner self, which is as it should be when he’s her perfect match…
Is your weekend book boyfriend Pierce Hardman?
Remember, the book is out there now!
Click on cover to get your copy now!
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me what your weekend looks like!
Hello and bonjour, all, once again. It’s officially spring, and that is always a plus, but especially this year when Canada apparently lost its weather and sent it this way. Us southerners just about lost all our grits, and let me say, honey, y’all can keep that white fluffy and slippery stuff up north. We do just fine without it here, thank you very much. **closed the front door**
Blogging weekly can make coming up with new topic ideas a bit challenging sometimes. I decided to do an internet search for potential topics and nothing few off the screen at me. So, of course, I did the next logical thing and got on the phone and started ringing up my posse of partners in crime who are known to lead me down forbidden paths. They suggested that I write about something that I am passionate about. Well, I love reading. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that if you’re here reading this, you’re also a reader and lover of books. Therefore, I’m banking today’s topic is one that is relatable to all readers and that is how to create a reading nook.
Now, most readers probably already have reading nooks in their homes. However, maybe you’re considering revamping yours or perhaps you’ve moved and have not had a chance to create one. Or maybe you’ve never had a reading nook and have just plopped down to read wherever was convenient or available. On the other hand, maybe you’re simply curious how others design their nooks. If any of these reasons apply or interest you, keep reading while to get into it.
Dedicate a space. First things first. The first step in creating a reading nook is deciding where it will be located. It can be a corner, a spare room not in use, a converted closet, or even outside under a favorite tree. The location does not much matter as long as it makes the reader happy and is conducive for reading. Areas that are very noisy, have poor ventilation, or have diminished lighting may not be ideal reading spots. And since I brought it up…
Lighting. There are many options available when considering a light source. Lightening can include overheads, lamps, candles (scented or unscented…which scented one may add a bit of ambiance and/or set the mood), string lights (a.k.a., fairy lights), or natural light from a window or skylight. My bestie has his reading nook on his back deck and frequently uses his firepit as light. And then there’s my other friend who uses a bookmark with a pin light because he enjoys reading in the dark. I remind myself here that there are no right and wrong ways to a reading nook and that it is all personal taste. I’ll leave it at that…no judgment. Moving along.
Seating. No reading nook can exist without a place to sit. Well, I suppose some people may want to stand and read for hours, but my guess most people would prefer to curl up with their book. Now, most people know that I’m a pantser when I write. However, when I blog, I research before I begin writing. That’s because when I’m writing novels, I don’t expect to be done in a week and I have time to make notes to research as I go or later when I find that something that I’ve written isn’t jelling the way it should. Blogging, on the other hand, does not afford me that same luxury. I have a set schedule which means I don’t have much time to toy with ideas. The kiss of death to any blogger is beginning a post and getting lost halfway in or realizing there’s not enough material for a post. The latter is the reason I decided to create a list of items that would go into a reading nook before I began writing, and the first item I thought was chair. But as I thought about it more, I realized that not everyone has a chair in their reading nook. Some people enjoy stretching out their legs and would appreciate a bench, loveseat, or settee. A good friend has a hammock in hers. (She calls it a long swinging chair, but it’s a danggone hammock that she has inside.) Whatever one chooses, make sure that it is one that you find extraordinary comfortable.
Ottoman. Many people get comfortable by propping their feet up. An ottoman is a great solution for several reasons. Not only will it serve as a footstool, but it can also add an extra zing to the décor depending on the style selected. It can be a splash of color, shabby chic, electric, retro, new wave, Victoria, or whatever flair floats the reader’s boat. It will personalize the space. Additionally, some have the added bonus of being storage units. The great thing about ottomans is they are relatively inexpensive and are sold in multiple venues. Great deals can be found at outlets, flea markets, and garage sales.
Book storage. On the topic of storage, let’s discuss it. If one is reading physical books, he/she will need a place to store them, hence, shelving units and/or bookcases. This practical area may also be an accent in the nook. Several collection addition books have stylish covers with shiny foiling that will brighten any room or space. Shelves can be adorned with other items such as bookshelf dioramas, figurines (e.g., Funko Pops, Magnolia Lane collections, pieces from literary subscription boxes, travel souvenirs, photographs, vases/jars, etc.). The arrangement of books can also play a role creating a cozy environment. For example, some readers arrange books on the shelves by color to create a rainbow or ombre. In this method, books of the same color or similar shade are grouped together on the same shelf to create a look that is visually pleasing. However, be warned that arranging books in this method may make finding particular books complicated if the reader has a large collection. Another display idea would be to have a mixture of books placed vertically and horizontally to create variety and interest. Storage doesn’t have to be boring. On the contrary, in a reading nook, book displays should be fun, cozy/welcoming, and highlight the reader’s personality. It should be a place that the reader wants to spend the day there reading.
Let me add that there are so many shelving options such as built-ins, swinging shelves, baskets, cubicles, bookcases. For a more custom shelving look, consider mix-and-matching several styles of shelving that have a similar aesthetic. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram have loads of photos that can generate inspiration. Online sites such as Wayfair and IKEA have many affordable options to choose from. I’m a strong advocate of supporting small and local businesses. Etsy and businesses in your community also may stock shelving that may interest you.
Table. If you were wondering when I would get to listing a table here it is. It is not far down on the list due to being unimportant. A table, in my opinion, is an indispensable element in a reading space. First, it’s a great place to have a lamp, but also, it’s where a reader can set his/her snack, beverage, phone, clock, or basically anything that will fit on the top of it that the reader does not want to hold, deposit on the floor, or lay on the seat.
Blankets. Throw (see what I did there?) in a dash of cozy with a swanky or flocculent blanket to snuggle in while reading. Who doesn’t enjoy something incredibly soft and gentle caressing his/her skin? (Uh… I take it back. Don’t answer that question and pretend I didn’t just ask.) Blankets will add color and character to a nook without taking up much room. Versatile in color and size, blankets can be draped across furniture, rolled into a pillow moment, or folded neatly and tucked out of the way. And if you have a pet, they may want to curl up in it, too. Throws and blankets range in price from very inexpensive at the dollar stores to expensive chunky woven ones found in high-end boutiques. One can be found in everyone’s price range.
Plush pillows. Over the years, I have learned that decorative pillows are very polarizing. Either people love them or hate them. There does not seem to much of a “meh” category for them. One thing is for certain and that is that pillows can change to look and feel of a room. Something about them seems to “complete” an area. On interior decorating shows, one of the last items brought into the room as a “finisher” are pillows. They are placed on couches/sofas, chairs, windowsills, and even the floors. Basically, at least in my opinion, if there’s an open space, a pillow can go there. Like blankets and throws, decorative pillows come in a variety of shapes, sizes, fabrics, colors, and prices. A person may want pillows in their nook solely for décor or for a more functional use and prop their head or feet on. Or perhaps they put it behind their back for support or sit on if the chair or surface in their book nook is hard and/or uncomfortable.
Plants (if you’re earthy). If you’re someone like me who does not have a green thumb, are low maintenance, or have a reading nook located in a space with limited natural light (unless you have succulents) you may want to consider an artificial option. However, plants are a great way to bring color into an area and create a feeling of freshness and homeyness.
Electrical outlets. Recently, a significant ice storm event struck the area. In preparation, one of the things I charged was my e-reader. I get teased sometimes because I’m told that e-readers are passé and antiquated. But let me tell you, it came in handy when the power went out for four days. My e-reader holds hundreds of books, maintains a charge like crazy, allows me to read in the dark, and frees me from having to use power (and space) on my other electronic devices. So, to my e-reader haters, I politely stick out my tongue. On a more practical level note, having an outlet is convenient. It allows readers who prefer to read digital books on devices other than e-readers (e.g., telephone, tablet, laptop, etc.) to keep charged as well.
Storage space. You may want to have things in your reading nook that you don’t want to leave out in the open. A friend who recently began wearing reading glasses stated that she constantly is losing pairs because she leaves them wherever she takes them off. As a result, she has several pairs. She keeps on pair in a desk in her reading corner. She reported that she never takes them from that spot to ensure they are always there whenever she is in the mood to read. However, she does not leave them on the table or on the desk because she does not want anyone to move them or for them to get knocked off accidentally and broken. She also states that it keeps the area looking tidy not to have a lot of clutter on the desk.
Everything else. Reading nooks are personal spaces. Anything the reader wants to put in them is a go.
Time. Understand that creating a reading nook may not all pull together and happen overnight. It may take time to decide how you want your space to look or to find items to put into it. In today’s economy, you may not have the extra cash to purchase the items that you want. A friend decided that he wanted a very classic, retro type of reading nook. He is very particular about what he put in his space, as he likes unique items with history. He finds items to include in his nook from antique shops and estate sells. As a result, his nook has developed slowly over time.
As people grow and interest change, they may want to change the look and feel of their reading space. There is nothing wrong with this. This is especially true with young readers. As they mature, they prefer that their space grows with them.
So, that’s all that I have. I hope the information presented here was helpful. What are your thoughts? Was this post helpful? What advice do you have on the subject? Did I omit something that should have been listed? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. If you like this post, please click the like button and share it. If you’re not following me on Creole Bayou blog, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.
And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.
Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him. Grab your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.
Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.
Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone multi-protagonist, gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.
For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. I discuss all things Creole, Cajun, recipes, trivia, psychology, mental health, self-help, beauty, writing tips and, of course, romance. There’s a little something for everyone.
Sometimes, outrage motivates you. Sometimes, pleasant surprise. My African-American women photo collection started because, out of thirty-six history cards of famous African-Americans, only six were women. My discovery of classical composer Florence Price was a pleasant surprise.
I was a classical music fan from a young age. My mother had a five-record collection of Strauss waltzes that I probably wore out on our old hi-fi. Then playing pieces like the Poet and Peasant’s Overture on clarinet in junior high school seeded a love for classical music deep in my heart. I learned all I could about European composers like Debussy and Stravinsky and Vaughn Williams. As I got older I developed a love for the classical works of American composers like Aaron Copeland and Leonard Bernstein. Now, thanks to my year-long quest, first for quotes on democracy, then music and songs to keep hope alive through 2020 and now into 2021, my musical horizons have broadened yet again. Swimming in the pool of African-American classical music and jazz composers during Black History month, I discovered African-American female composers.
I’ve been swept up away by the classical works of Margaret Bonds, Zenobia Powell Perry, and Undine Smith Moore. I learned of modern works by present-day women like Valerie Coleman, Valerie Capers, Pamela Z, and Hannah Kendall. I’ve been floating along in the wonder of expanded knowledge about women musicians with whom I was already familiar, women like Hazel Scott and Eva Jessye.
Learning about the life and work of Florence Price has been one of the pleasant surprises of 2021. On my favorite classical radio station alone I’ve been introduced to no fewer than seventeen of this amazing woman’s work. Her titles range from the predictable, Sonata in E Minor, Symphony No. 1 in E Minor to the poetic, Memory Mist, Moon Bridge, On Quiet Lake to the whimsical, Goblin and the Mosquito. I’d always known about the seminal event of Eleanor Roosevelt enabling Marian Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the Revolution wouldn’t let her sing at Constitution Hall. But I only learned this year that Anderson closed her recital with Price’s My Soul’s Been Anchored in de Lord.
Born in 1887, Florence came from a family of firsts. Her father was Little Rock, Arkansas’s first black dentist. She had her first piano recital at the age of four and at age eleven wrote her first musical composition. At fourteen she went to study at the New England Conservatory for three years. By 1927 she had divorced an abusive husband and moved to Chicago where her work found support from the music director of the Chicago Symphony. In 1932 she won first prize in the Wannamaker music contest. She became the first African American woman to have her work performed by a major American symphony when on June 15th, 1933 the Chicago Symphony performed her Symphony No. 1 in E minor. As a kid when I was learning about Stravinsky and Copland and Bernstein, I should also have been learning about Florence Price. But better late than never.
I’m always moved when I learn of women who achieved as Florence did, even though they didn’t receive all the accolades they deserved in their lifetime. So for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments the name of an unsung woman you feel the world should know more about.
Better To Marry Than To Burn
Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…
A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.
Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.
Excerpt from Better to Marry than to Burn…
Caesar looked at Queen. His eyes glistened with unshed tears. She swallowed hard, unnerved by the sight. Her lips trembled.
Reverend Warren smiled. “Caesar, you may kiss your bride.”
Kiss? Queen flinched. There’d be no kissing in this marriage. She’d promised to be his wife for two years with sex provided at agreed upon intervals. At the end of two years that requirement would end, and she’d be free to live as she chose. She could go anywhere she pleased, especially with the respectability of missus before her name and Caesar’s promised severance. No. This coupling made them business partners. Business partners did not kiss.
She extended her hand to seal their arrangement. He returned the handshake, but instead of releasing her, his too rough fingers imprisoned hers and pulled her to him. With his other hand, he captured the back of her head and secured her mouth to his.
A squeal of surprise parted her lips. His thick tongue swept into the shelter of her mouth. The assault ambushed her with pleasure and vanquished her resistance.
Her hands rose, as if of their own volition, and pressed against his chest. The firm muscle beneath his shirt coaxed her hands to linger, to explore— however discreetly—the muscle beneath her palms and fingertips.
Caesar broke off the kiss.
The embrace didn’t last more than a few seconds, but Queen swayed, robbed of reason and resentment.