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New Year’s Plans… Blech! (Contest)
Saturday, December 29th, 2018

UPDATE: The winner is…Michelle Levan!
*~*~*

I’m a planner by nature and education. I make lists. FOR EVERYTHING. That doesn’t mean I’m super-organized. It just means I track my achievements and know all too well where I fall short.

I teach a free goal-setting class every December to other authors, hoping that while I kick their butts to think about what they want to achieve that I’m inspired to do the same.

So far, I have listed everything I want to do writing-wise. I started out with a goal of making my life a lot easier next year with a sedate writing pace… Yeah. By the time I figured in everything I NEED to write, that easy plan went out the window. Crazy as it is, I have my 2019 writing plan mapped out. But work’s not everything, right?

What about real life? Family fun and obligations. Fitness goals (ha!). My artistic goals (paint for fun, re-open my Etsy store, produce something to sell…). Build my savings. Get ready for retirement (like that will ever happen!).

To get all my goals in alignment, I set up a Bullet Journal. I’ve kept one for about three years now. It’s time-consuming. A pain in the ass to set up and maintain, but everything I need to do is captured in one little journal book. That’s what I’m trying to wrap up today.

So, my question to you is whether you worry about the coming year. Do you plan? Set resolutions? Set up journals or calendars? Answer for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Melanie Jayne: This Writing Thing…
Friday, December 28th, 2018

I’ve spent some time this last month thinking about being an author and what it means to me. A few weeks ago an aspiring author was telling me she models herself after me.

What?

My career is a work in progress. The more I learn, the more I find that I don’t know a thing. Publishing is constantly changing and the demand for Romance is high, but so is the output from authors. I love that Indies have broken through the barriers and can give readers what they want and what they didn’t know they needed. The days of Gatekeepers are done and readers can find a story about almost any combination of partners and players. We are also faced with a tough economy, declining sales, sky-rocketing advertising costs, and a genre that is filled with many sub-par to downright crappy books. Everybody is entitled to their opinion and some feel the need to not only state in a review they didn’t like the book, but to attack the author personally.

So What’s A Writer To Do?

  1. You create a village of support. Find your tribe. This doesn’t happen overnight; you will gain and lose members of your circle. You hold on to those that are kind to you and then repay them with the same.
  2. You get over your damn self. This world is filled with ego. I believe that you have to have a healthy one in order to survive. However, diva-like ways are not acceptable. Think before speaking and then think again. Do not become a professional victim, instead be the one that others turn to for strength. Please know that in order to succeed and survive that you have to hustle every day.
  3. Give back. When I was starting this journey, I had author friends share great advice with me. I was disheartened to find that one of my favorite authors, and friend, was not helpful. In fact, she looked at me as someone who was trying to take money from her pocket. She is an award-winning author who hits lists with almost every book in no way was I her competition. I decided not to be like her. If you are new, ask me and I will try to give you a good and very honest answer. I’m a cheerleader—I want you to succeed because then I can enjoy your victories.
  4. Like REO Speedwagon says, “Roll with the Changes” (Google the 80’s band). Enjoy the highs and trudge through the lows. In this business, it can change within the next hour. Turn off social media, talk to your trusted friends, take a walk, love on your pet. It will get better!
  5. Get a Team and treat them well. In the beginning, I had “people.” It took me about two years to figure out that they weren’t giving me their best effort. So I broke up with them and I found other people. My Admanistrative Assistant dropped into my life because we both worked the overnight shift and were bored out of our heads. He read and wanted to learn more about how a book is created, and I have the talent of breaking a computer, so he taught me how to do things without making the screen go blank. I use two cover artists for different series and I adore them both. I speak their creative language and designing covers is a joy. Finding the right editor took time. I started with a highly recommended company, but the critiquing style nearly broke me. I lost my confidence and dreaded the day when the returned edits hit my inbox. When I finally had enough, I started looking around. The relationship with your editor is one of faith, guidance, and a good bit of hand-holding. I trust this person with my most intimate thoughts regarding my ideas. I took an online class and loved how the instructor handled some pretty zany ideas. She never said, “That sucks,” or “Are you insane?” Instead, she gently offered a different direction or explained how the idea could be better served. I mustered my courage and asked if she was taking on new clients, she was, and we are still together. She knows I will never handle commas correctly and I trust that she will make my story better, so I listen when she shares her thoughts. She is a nurturer and that is exactly what I need.
  6. Know when it is time. If you are unhappy, dreading “writing time,” or cringing anytime you think about your career—get out. Life is too short to do something that makes you miserable.

So yeah, I’m an Author. I love what I do even through the tough times, the uncertain times, the days where I reread what I wrote and wonder how I could have done it any worse. To me, all of that is part of the deal. The good outweighs the bad. Because of writing I have made friends all over the world, traveled to events where we discuss books, I’ve met artists that I admire, seen more than my share of stupidity, and listened to hurtful comments and wondered if I belonged. Still, every morning I wake up and look forward to sitting down with my laptop, sharing the scene that plays over and over in my head, and telling you my story.

Stay Strong and Remember what REO preaches.

 

Elizabeth Andrews: New Year, Fresh Start (Giveaway)
Thursday, December 27th, 2018

UPDATE: The winner is…SnarkyMom!
*~*~*

Hello, everyone! First I want to thank Delilah for hosting me today, for sharing her space with me. It’s always generous of her to do that, and always fun for me to be here. 

I have to admit, I’ve been looking forward to the end of this year. I thought I was looking forward to the end of last year, but then 2018 happened. The last couple of years have been rough here, but the challenges look like they are winding down, which is a huge relief. I’ve been anticipating the start of the new year for a fresh start. 

My fresh start doesn’t include New Year’s resolutions–I’ve never had much success with those. Instead I always set goals for myself (mostly writing, though I used to include personal things on those lists) and try to break them down into smaller, manageable bites that make it more likely I’ll reach those goals by the end of the year. Sometimes life gets in the way, like it has for the past three years. Some things you simply can’t plan for. 

I had high hopes for last year, even after the really lousy start we had. But if you’ve experienced loss, you know what happens: even when you think you’re good, or you think you should be better, grief has a way of pulling you under when you least expect it. 

So I am looking at next week, at the start of the near year, and am determined that the last couple of things we still need to wrap up will not slow me down. I have my writing goals fine-tuned (Thanks for that, too, Delilah! I do love the goal-setting workshop each December!), and I am almost ready to go. I have a few days left this year to relax a little before we turn the calendar forward–just the direction I’m aiming for. 

My list is ready, posted on my bulletin board here beside my desk in my home office, and tucked into my day-job tote bag where I will see it daily when I pull my things out to put on my desk there in the mornings. I did add some personal goals to the list this year (You know what else loss and grief can do? Screw up your day-to-day schedules, including meals and exercise.), so I can end next year in a much better place, writing-wise and personally, than this year or last year, or even the year before, before things went really haywire. 

I’ve had some really ambitious lists in previous years, must bigger lists that I managed to pull off, because things went my way in every conceivable circumstance. These last few years? Not so much. So my list for 2019 is a little smaller than I would like, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure. If I get more done, that can be a nice bonus when we get to this time next year. But honestly, I’ll be thrilled to check off everything on my goals list for the year, even if there is no extra. 

I wonder how many others are ready for the new year to begin, for your own fresh start? Do you have specific goals? A short list? A long list? Just a reading list? I have an electronic copy of my book Hunting Medusa and a gift card for either Amazon or Barnes & Noble to give away for one commenter. I’ll do a drawing via RandomResult.com for these and include entries for everyone who comments between now and 5pm EST on Friday, December 28, 2018.   

Happy New Year! 

About Elizabeth Andrews

Elizabeth Andrews has been a book lover since she was old enough to read. She read her copies of Little Women and the Little House series so many times, the books fell apart. As an adult, her book habit continues. She has a room overflowing with her literary collection right now, and still more spreading into other rooms.  Almost as long as she’s been reading great stories, she’s been attempting to write her own.  Thanks to a fifth grade teacher who started the class on creative writing, Elizabeth went from writing creative sentences to short stories and eventually full-length novels. Her father saved her poor, callused fingers from permanent damage when he brought home a used typewriter for her.  

Elizabeth found her mother’s stash of romance novels as a teenager, and—though she loves horror—romance became her very favorite genre, making writing romances a natural progression. There are more than just a few manuscripts, however, tucked away in a filing cabinet that will never see the light of day.

Along with her enormous book stash, Elizabeth lives with her husband of more than twenty years and two young adult sons, though no one else in the house reads nearly as much as she does. When she’s not at work or buried in books or writing, there is a garden outside full of herbs, flowers and vegetables that requires occasional attention.  

Diana Cosby: Inspired By Nature (Contest)
Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

©Diana Cosby 2018

One of the challenges of writing is creating new story ideas, or, if working on a rough draft, deciding what to write that day.  For me, regardless of the task, I find inspiration in nature.

There’s something amazing about walking in the woods, of the whisper of wind, or the tapping of a distant woodpecker.  As I follow trails through the forest, take in the squirrels chatting, the birds chirping in the trees, or other sites of nature, I relax.

With each path I choose, surrounded by nature, instead of struggling with my current story issues, new ideas flow through my mind.

How can you not smile when you see the quirky things that the birds or squirrels do, or watch fox kits play.

By the time I return home, I find myself recharged, energized to dive into the writing day to unravel any story problems, or, to work with my characters if they decide to be stubborn.

At the end of the day, I wind down by reviewing photos of nature that I took during my walks.  I’m always amazed by the incredible things I see in the woods.  Best, knowing that when the sun rises tomorrow, I’ll be out in the forest again and no doubt be inspired.

About the Author

A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.  Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series have been translated in five languages.  Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.  After the release of the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series and The Oath Trilogy, and the first three book of The Forbidden Series, she’s now working on book #4, Forbidden Realm, of the five-book series, which will be released August, 6th, 2019.

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

Contest

Contest:  ***ONE winner will be drawn from everyone who posts on my guest blog post on Inspired By Nature on Delilah’s blog between 26 December 2018 – 1 January 2019.  The winner will receive one of Diana’s mugs and a tote.

Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author
www.dianacosby.com
The Oath Trilogy
MacGruder Brother Series
Forbidden Series:  Forbidden Legacy/Forbidden Knight/Forbidden Vow/Forbidden Alliance‒Aug. 6th 2019/Forbidden Realm TBA

From my family to yours…
Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Not even a mouse…
Monday, December 24th, 2018

What a lovely day…

This year, the Devlin family decided to destress a bit. Christmas has always been: get up early with the kids, then rush to prep the Christmas meal. This year, my mom and my daughter decided that neither of them really wanted to cook. (Don’t look at me. I’m never in the equation when it comes to the big meals. I can manage a decent breakfast, but turkey or ham? All the fixin’s? Not in my wheelhouse, and not if you want to enjoy it. 🙂 )

So, we decided to go out, en masse, for a meal at a local restaurant on Christmas Eve. Afterward, we had the adults’ gift-giving (because Christmas morning is all about the kids), and then home for early bed. So, here I am at 8 PM, finally remembering to post. And it’s perfectly quiet. Peaceful. I think this became a new family tradition.

N.J. Walters: Holiday Traditions
Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

It’s funny how when you’re a kid, you think you’ll always have the same holiday traditions. We had a few unusual ones in my family when I was growing up. Every Christmas Eve, my father would bundle up in his parka, shovel off the back deck if necessary, and barbecue steaks. Now this was long before gas grills. It was all charcoal and lighter fluid. This was the 1970s, so barbecuing in winter was very rare. We’d eat early because all my parents’ friends would come to our house later that night. It was always a lot of fun.

Then there were the parties my parents threw every holiday season. My mom would be cooking and baking for days. The dining room table would be weighed down with food. There would be turkey, a roast of beef, baked ham, potato salad, fruit salad, Jell-O salads (it was the 70s), fresh rolls and butter. Guests would serve themselves and find a place to eat in the living room or family room. Looking back, it’s a wonder so many people fit into such a small space, but there always seemed to be room. There was always a Christmas fruitcake and cookies, mini chips and flings (not sure they still make those), open boxes of chocolates. My mom is an amazing baker and whipped up all kinds of yummy holiday cookies and treats. My father would tend bar, mixing all kinds of drinks. He’d also make up a huge bowl of punch that was always festive.

The Christmas tree always sat in front of our living room window. It was always my job to test the Christmas lights. In those days it was all chunky colored light bulbs and metallic reflectors in various shapes and colors. The tree was artificial, and in retrospect, it wasn’t all that big. But it always seemed so large and magical when it was lit and the presents were piled under it, just waiting to be opened.

Those days are long gone. My father passed away in 1982 when I was only eighteen, so I cherish those memories. But my mom is still here. She just turned eighty and is still going strong. She continues to bake fruitcake for family and friends every year, and we all love it.

New traditions have come and gone during different stages of my life. I think I cherish them more now because I’m very aware that times come and go. Situations change, as do relationships. But through it all, some things remain. I’ll spend time with my sister and her partner and my mother and stepfather, and on Christmas Eve you’ll find me at my brother and sister-in-law’s home. He’s the one who now fires up the grill to barbecue steaks and other goodies for us to eat.

Yes, traditions come and go, but the important thing is spending time with those you care about, whether that’s family or friends.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and I hope 2019 is the best year of your life.

Drakon’s Tear

Blood of the Drakon, Book 6

Dying isn’t an option. I’ve survived a kidnapping, and now I’m on the run from the Knights of the Dragon who want my gift. There’s nothing a dragon loves more than treasure. I’m Abigail Owens, and I can sense gemstones. When I find myself drawn to a beautiful stone bracelet at a tiny shop in Moscow, I can’t help but have it — even though I can sense it’s power. But I didn’t realize with this one decision I’ve just put myself in the middle of a war between the Knights and a Drakon.

I guess I’m just lucky like that.

The only person I trust even a little is Vasili Zima, which is weird since I’m not sure if he wants to kill me or protect me. I’m drawn to him in a way I hadn’t thought possible, and he feels the same way, or he wouldn’t be risking his life to help me. He’s wanted by the bad guys just as much as I am, and staying with me, well, there’s a hundred percent chance I’m about to get us both killed. But I will not be going down without a fight.

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K6F5WC8/
Entangled: https://entangledpublishing.com/drakon-s-tear.html
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drakons-tear-n-j-walters/1129819271
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/drakons-tear/id1441318340
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/drakon-s-tear

About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, 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.

Visit me at:
Website: http://www.njwalters.com
Blog: http://www.njwalters.blogspot.com
Newsletter Group: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/awakeningdesires/info
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/njwaltersauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/NJWalters
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/njwalters
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/n-j-walters