As I’ve said before, I’ve been pulling cards on Sundays to try to make it part of my planning process. On Sundays, I update my work and personal plans to ensure I record what I accomplished and didn’t, before turning my sights on the coming week. It’s not that I “believe” in the tarot, but the practice reminds me of aspects of my life I wouldn’t otherwise consider when I set my plans. So, onto this week’s card…
Wands! I love wands. Let’s just look at the picture first. Here we have Jason of Greek mythology. If you remember, Jason was sent on an impossible mission to retrieve the Golden Fleece by the king who had usurped his father’s throne. Knowing he’d face many dangers, Jason formed the Argonauts, a group of heroes, to accompany him. In the end, he defeated mythical beasts and supernatural warriors to take the fleece. This picture depicts him carrying the fleece while his warriors appear dressed for a celebration behind him. So, what does all that mean for me? I think it means I’ll conquer some beast this week and that everyone around me will give me attagirls. I have no clue what that beast might be, perhaps it’s a small one (meeting all my goals? cleaning my office?!).
Maybe I should consult the book… Okay, I did pretty good. The card represents triumph and recognition from others. As for Jason, he’s not quite done. He still has to deliver that fleece… Hmmm.
Y’all have a wonderful week. If you’re bored, you can always come see what’s happening here. 🙂 ~DD
Eight days to Christmas in the Devlin house! My daughter has all her gifts bought and wrapped. I bought my last gift last night online. I have ALL my gifts to wrap. Does anyone LIKE wrapping gifts? That’s the thing I procrastinate over. If I could, I’d pay one of the kids to do it for me. I know—bad Nina! Anyways, I have some editing to do today. Some WRAPPING (if I can make myself do it), a bunny cage to clean, maybe a fish tank to freshen… I think I’ll skip making my bed because I might try to slip back into it for a nap (something I never do, but it really sounds kind of wonderful right now). I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Good luck with the contest!
Solve the puzzle, then tell me how you’re getting ready for the holidays for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Nowadays, we take for granted when women operate in public spaces. Many had to be the firsts to make the accomplishments women enjoy now possible. Sarah Jane Woodson Early was one such first.
Sarah Jane was born free in Chillicothe, Ohio on November 15, 1825. Her parents were formerly enslaved but were freed before moving to Ohio. They founded the first black Methodist church west of the Alleghenies. They also founded Berlin Crossings, a flourishing black farming community which by 1840 had its own school, stores and churches and served as a station on the Underground Railroad.
Since many of the Woodson’s eleven children went on to become ministers and educators, it comes as no surprise that Sarah, their youngest, chose a career in education. She enrolled in Oberlin College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1856. This made her one of the first black women in the US to graduate from college.
She taught in black community schools until Wilberforce University hired her to teach English in 1858. While denied the title of professor, teaching at Wilberforce made her the first African-American woman to hold the position of college instructor. When the college closed in 1862 because the Civil War started, Sarah taught in black public schools. The African Methodist Episcopal church purchased and reincorporated the college in 1863. Sarah was rehired in 1866 to teach English and Latin. This time she was officially given the title professor. In 1868 she left Wilberforce to teach at an African-American school for girls under the auspices of the Freedman’s Bureau in North Carolina. That same year she married Jordan Winston Early, an African Methodist Episcopal minister who had been enslaved. She taught wherever he preached and served as the principal of several schools in four different cities.
Although she retired from teaching in 1888 and with her husband moved to Nashville, she did not retire from activism. In 1888, the Colored Division of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union elected her to a four-year term as national superintendent. In this role she gave over 100 speeches. She was also an active representative of the state’s Prohibition Party. At the 1893 World’s Congress of Representative Women, she was one of only five African-American women invited to speak. In 1894 she wrote The Life and Labors of Rev. J.W. Early, One of the Pioneers of African Methodism in the West and South, a biography of her husband.
She died in 1907 at the age of 82. I read one article which stated that by the time Sarah retired she’d taught 6,000 children. I hope the life I’m leading through my writing will one day have such a ripple effect.
For a chance at a $10 Amazon card, comment on Sarah’s story or share a hope of yours about having an impact in your world.
One Breath Away by Michal Scott
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more. Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex. Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
Excerpt from One Breath Away…
The surprise of pleasure curved in her smile.
He gestured with his chin toward the pantskirt’s drawstring. “Is that bitty string the only thing keeping your pants up?”
She squirmed under his teasing gaze. “That’s all it has to do.”
“Looks kind of flimsy to me. Think it’ll hold if you help me with this last post?”
He pointed toward a column of wood. Somehow snapped in two, the top half of the post dangled from a fence rail while the bottom half peeked from the ground. The replacement he’d just finished chopping lay at his feet.
“What kind of hand do you need?”
“More leverage to pull that broken post out of the ground. I’m thinking if I tie one end of a rope to the post and the other end to your rear axle, I can shift it.”
“All right.” Mary slid to his side of the wagon then stood.
He raised his arms. “Allow me.”
She frowned and looked at him hard. “Allow you to what?”
He laughed. “To help you down.”
She fisted her hips. “Do I look like I need help? I’m no weakling.” She shooed him away and took a step. Her bootlace snagged on the edge of the seat. She shrieked and toppled into his arms.
He laughed. “Definitely not a weakling. Just clumsy.”
She clapped a hand to her throat and leaned back as far as his grip would allow. “Put me down.”
“Be careful when you tell a man to put you down. He might get the wrong idea.” He leaned forward so they were nose to nose. “Or the right one.”
She stilled. “I mean put me down so I can stand.”
His obedience pierced her with disappointment. She slid down his front and bumped against the proud welcome of his cock. She jumped back, embarrassed.
He looked down then spread his hands in apology. “Please forgive me, Miss Hamilton. You have an effect on me I just can’t hide.”
Mind mapping isn’t some futuristic, governmental plot to take over our minds. So, why am I thinking about it if it’s not anything to do with the plot of a new book?
Mind mapping is something I like to do every year to kickstart my annual planning activities, and I thought I should share it here for anyone who’s interested in giving it a try. Yes, I start with a plan every year. Doesn’t mean I follow it very well, but I do like to have some idea what I want to accomplish—a goalpost, I guess, to aim for.
I even used to hold online mind-mapping workshops for other authors before I ran the annual “Write 50 Books a Year” workshop with my sister, Elle James, through our old teaching website, Roses Colored Glasses. I miss those days, and having a group to guide through the processes gave me a kick in the pants to complete it myself. Since we closed the doors to RCG, I haven’t given up my process entirely, but I do find it harder to start. Mind mapping was something I started in November, and then moved into my detailed annual planning in December, so I could start January with a boost of energy and pie-in-the-sky goals.
Mind mapping isn’t just for my writing. I use it to organize my life. It helps to prioritize my efforts. So, while I’m not leading a group eager to map out their work/life balance, I thought I’d share a little of what it looks like. Maybe it’s something you’ll want to try. Below is some of the text I used in my workshop, but first…
So, for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me whether you love making plans and whether you use the New Year as your kick in the ass.
I’ve found mind mapping is a terrific brainstorming tool for all sorts of things—book plots, vacation plans, grocery lists… I know, I get obsessive about organizing tools!
I’ve been collecting some cool things on Pinterest about vision boards and mind mapping. You’re welcome to hunt, but I do have some specific sites I’d like you to check out listed below, because the sites will give you a great starting point for understanding what a mind map is and how to start yours.
As for what you need in the way of supplies for mind mapping, all you really need is paper and something to write with. I like to use watercolor paper in a large, desktop size, great Micron fine-line and medium tip pens, and watercolor pencils for color—because I like mine to be pretty—but that’s just me!
Where can you start learning about mind mapping? Here are my recommendations:
At the time, I was struggling with the storyline and the characters… Nothing seemed to click in spite of my repeated attempts to outline a general direction for it all. I’d re-written the first five chapters half a dozen times; I’d re-outlined the story the same number of times (no small feat for someone who leans more toward pantsing than plotting).
I couldn’t pants this book. Not entirely. It’s the second book in my Silver Cyborg Series, so I couldn’t just let it wander toward an HEA for my two characters and be content. The overarching story from Book One had to continue and advance and get to a point Book Three can take it in for a goal (weak sports-reference here ;-).
Apparently, I couldn’t plot the book, either. So was mired and stagnant.
BUT, then everything finally clicked. The muse hit, the planets aligned…something happened. Honestly, I credit the savage approach I took to the story over this past summer. I shredded the thing. Mercilessly. I switched things around. I cut tens of thousands of words. I turned entire chapters into alternate POVs. I was ruthless: if it didn’t move the story or characters forward, no matter how pretty my prose, I dumped it.
The experience was a lot like a plumbing blockage, to use a crude analogy. Over a year of plugging away (plunging away) to get something moving rather than merely swirling and churning, but I now have a brand new, shiny book. Tin Toy is LIVE TODAY (tosses confetti and blows party horns)!! And I’m already a few chapters into the third book in this series, Tin Soldier. In fact, I have a prelude to Tin Soldier as an entry in Delilah’s upcoming anthology: Boys Behaving Badly: Silver Soldiers. And I’m also working on my second dragon shifter story.
Whatever blockage had my writing stuck, it’s gone, and my writing is finally flowing (and in the right direction)! I gotta admit: I’m very relieved. 😉
Since I have a brand now shiny book today, I’m giving away three Kindle versions of Tin Toy to random winners that I’ll choose on Monday, December 19th. Comment with something you struggled with that finally went right for you this past year.
UPDATE: The winners are…Beverly and Pamela Reveal!
Maybe you only know me through my bounty hunter books or the Brotherhood Protector stories I sometimes write. I’ve been a full-time author for more years than I care to admit, so there’s more on my backlist if you’re interested in checking out my older titles. Plus, if you love a sexier story than I tend to write now, you’ll really dig these. Hot cowboys? Lava-hot sex? What’s not to love? Read the excerpt below and comment for a chance to win a free download of any one of my six Texas Cowboys stories. They’re available in eBook and gathered together in two print volumes.
Following her husband’s death, Maggie McDermott faces the onerous task of running the family ranch. She’s through mourning her husband and the children they never had. The problem? She doesn’t know the first thing about running a ranch, so she knows she needs a capable hand. When Daniel Tynan applies for the position, she’s flooded with guilty memories of the time she tempted the younger man.
Daniel is more than willing to show sweet Maggie the ropes. His gentle ways melt her heart, and his sensual passion burns away her inhibitions. He may be younger, but he’s not without the right kind of experience…
An excerpt from The Cowboy & the Widow…
Danny Tynan was all grown up.
Maggie had noticed that fact right off. She’d hidden in the house like a coward when he arrived that morning, watching him through the curtains as Reggie greeted him with a handshake and a manly slap to his shoulders.
And such broad shoulders they were, too. Something else she’d noticed. He’d been tall as a teenager, all elbows and knobby knees, but anyone looking at him then would easily guess he’d grow into a handsome man.
He’d far exceeded her expectations.
Dark brown hair curled in careless, spiked waves around his head. Thick eyebrows shadowed blue eyes that could melt a woman’s heart in a single glance. Those features hadn’t changed.
What had changed took her breath away. He turned and stood with his back to her, feet braced apart. She took the opportunity that presented itself, letting her gaze embrace the breadth of his shoulders, the narrow indent of his lean waist, the small round globes of his buttocks, and thighs that looked sturdy and powerful…
If she’d thought him distracting when he was young, he was lethal to her peace of mind now.
Not that she’d ever acted on her attraction when he’d stayed at the ranch all those years ago. Although she’d entertained lurid fantasies where she’d played teacher to his youthful sexual education, she’d studiously ignored his adoring glances. Still, she hadn’t been able to resist deepening their connection, by appealing to a young man’s endless appetite…
For food, that is. She’d always loved to bake. Used it when she needed to work out her problems—a kind of “kitchen” therapy that soothed her restlessness when she hammered a slab of steak or kneaded a loaf of bread.
And she’d needed that release during the years of her marriage to Douglas. For while her husband had been ideal in many ways, he’d left her unfulfilled in two.
The man had never given her an orgasm, had never even realized the need to provide her passion. He’d provided her a roof, a purpose, given her a home to transform into her own haven.
Not a handsome man, he’d still managed to impress her when he’d begun to court her. Promising her comfort, protection—family. Something she’d craved since she’d been left alone in the world.
And although he’d tried to fulfill the promise of giving her a family, that was another hole he’d left in her life. He’d been sterile. When they’d discovered the fact, he no longer thought it necessary to use her body. What was the point?
When Danny Tynan came to the ranch, she’d met a good-looking boy, about to be a man, and a very sexual creature—if the state of his bedding was any indication.
Perhaps the hormones raging in his young body had affected her, for she began to feel those stirrings again. The ones her husband’s neglect had buried. She’d felt shame for her feelings, for the yearnings that tempted her to leave open a button or two at the top of her blouse to tempt him to peer inside her shirt, to wear shorter shorts to feel his glance rake the length of her legs.
That was as far as she’d allowed it to go, because she hadn’t trusted herself to do the right thing.