Life Changing

Gratitude and Positivity

 I’m often asked how I manage to stay positive in this crazy world. How I can ignore the horrors we’re bombarded with through social media and television.

This is my story.

Some years ago I worked twelve hour shifts on the receiving end of  9-1-1 calls.

I spent long hours talking to people having really, really bad days. Perhaps the worst day of their life. I listened to the horrors of fights in the background, to mothers screaming because their child’s life was in danger, to fathers demanding someone come and fix their sick child, to people angry because the ambulance was taking too long.

I had to tell people the ambulance dispatched to them had been diverted to someone with a higher level emergency. I talked people out of pulling the trigger. I gave CPR instructions over the phone.

And then at the end of twelve grueling hours I got in my car and drove home. Had a meal and tried to go to sleep so I could go back in less than twelve hours and do it again.

As you can imagine, sleep didn’t come easy. Sometimes it didn’t come at all. Sometimes I’d be lucky to sleep for a total of ten hours in every four day block. (That’s two, 12-hour-days followed by two 12-hour-nights).

As you can imagine this takes a great toll on the body and I needed to find a way to let go of my work day and clear my mind so I could get sleep on a regular basis—and I wasn’t willing to use medications.

That’s when I stumbled upon the idea of a gratitude journal. However, I wasn’t very good at sticking to the program and writing in it every day. That’s when I got the idea of doing it on facebook, so I was kind of publicly accountable.

It worked.

I mean it REALLY worked!

Driving home from a long dispatch shift, instead of reliving all the bad calls of the day, I would have to search for something I could write in my Gratitude post. It made me look around. I began to notice the sunrise, dew on the grass, a hawk soaring in the morning or evening sky.

Occasionally I would think back to a “good” call. To a person I talked out of pulling the trigger, or the wail of a baby who hadn’t been breathing when the call first came in.

And when I got home, before going to bed I would do my Facebook Gratitude post. And I started to fall asleep more easily.

I no longer work in ambulance dispatch, but I’ve never stopped my daily posts. They keep me focused. They make me search for the good inside the bad. They show me hope.

And they show me love, because people respond to my posts. Sometime it’s just a like, and other times it’s a thank you for being a bright spot in a stranger’s day.

I have learned to find some spark of positive in any and everything. Do I see the negatives? Darn sure, but I don’t let them have power over me. Even in the worst of times, I can, and will, find a positive.

I will find hope and I will find the positive.

Kathryn Jane, novelist, artist, educator.

Want to know what else I’m up to in my life? The books, the painted rocks, the workshops?  Click here to  visit my website.

 

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All About the Podcast

I love podcasts.

I’m not sure why, but when I’m cleaning the house, making dinner, and walking the dog I love to listen to my favorite teachers, motivational speakers, business specialists, and short stories. Since the New Year started, I made a list of new-to-me podcasters, plus one I discovered last year, that I’m determined to listen to (or finish listening to) this year.

I’ve added my list below and have included the descriptions found on the corresponding websites. I hope you find these useful and if you have any favorite podcasts you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

The Modern CEO with Amber McCue

~ “With pieces of your business flying every which way, your to-do list out of control (and possibly sprouting wings) and your brain is scattered across 1400 different tasks, priorities, reminders, emails, tweets, deliverables, marketing ideas, client conversations, customer inquiries AND that one person you were suppose to follow up with weeks ago (whoops), one thing is certain: If it is freedom you want it’s time for a change.”

Detail Therapy with Amy Landino

~ “Are your ready to go after the life you want? Are you looking for specifics on how to make it happen? Join award-winning YouTuber, best selling author, and entrepreneur Amy Landino as she seeks out successful people and digs into the details of their daily lives to find out what they did to better themselves.”

Buffering the Vampire Slayer by Jenny Owen Young & Kristin Russo

~”Buffering the Vampire Slayer is a weekly podcast in which your hosts Jenny Owen Youngs (professional musician and recreational Whedonverse aficionado) and Kristin Russo (professional writer and former goth teen) discuss Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one episode at a time. Every installment of the podcast also includes a new original song recapping each glorious Buffy episode! *wolf howl*”

TED Radio Hour by NPR

~ “A journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and new ways to think and create. Based on riveting TEDTalks from the world’s most remarkable minds.”

The Story Studio Podcast: Writing, Storytelling, and Marketing Advice for Business and Writers by  Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright

~ “Stories turn songs into symphonies, events into memories, and lives into legends. In our crowded world, “knowing your story” cuts through the noise so you can make your mark — whether you want to sell more books, increase profits, or just make a difference.”

The Creative Penn Podcast by Joanna Penn

~ “Writing, publishing, book marketing, making a living with your writing.”

Story Grid Podcast by Shawn Coyne and Tim  Grahl

~ “Resources and a step by step understanding of the Story Grid for beginning writers.”

Living Homegrown by Theresa Loe

~ “This weekly podcast is all about getting the best seasonal, fresh-picked flavor without having to buy the farm! Episodes alternate between instructional “how-to” and interviews with top authors & experts.”

The Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

~ “Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary.”

Spark Joy by Kristyn Ivey & Karin Socci

~”Spark Joy is the podcast dedicated to celebrating the KonMari Method and the transformative power of surrounding yourself with joy; and letting go of the all the rest.”

Create Your Empowered Self by Jeannie Hall 

(Yes our very own SOS sister Jeannie! I’ve been listening to her podcasts for a while now and I love them!)

~ “This podcast is all about empowering you to live your best life! By incorporating the principles of Law of Attraction, NLP, meditation, and other spiritual teachings, Certified NLP Practitioner and Creative Empowerment Coach Jeannie Hall will show you the way!”

Like I mentioned above, I’d love to hear what podcasts you love to listen to! I’m always looking for more. 🙂

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Gracealways defeats Reckoning.

Her acclaimed debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife.

EVERY DEEP DESIRE is available on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBound| Kobo|  Google

 

And adding it to your Goodreads TBR lisis also always appreciated!

Have you lost your mind?

by Kathryn Jane

I keep asking myself this question.

Why?

Because I’ve been told many, many times that a writer should always stick to one genre, yet in the span of just a few months I’m releasing four books, in three different genres.

Why?

Because I write what I want to write. What I feel. I don’t write to the market. That is, I don’t write a book based on how well that particular genre is selling, or because that “subject” is hot right now.

Nope.

Can’t do it.

I have always written for the sheer joy of it, and now, even though I have a following of readers who love my Romantic Suspense series–readers begging for the next book–I still follow my heart and write for the joy.

Somehow, that seems to work, and my readers are happy with my choices, so it’s a win for all of us.

How do I choose what will give me joy?

I don’t choose. Stories show up in my head as an opening scene and simply grow from there. Sometimes the scene is simple, sometimes complex, but they are always interesting.

MISSING, came to me as the simple, crystal clear moment when a mountain climber pops his head up over a ledge and comes face to face with a mamma bear and her two cubs…

 

DIAMONDS TO DIE FOR, began with two people sitting on a bench in front of a barn full of racehorses. It was early evening and all was peaceful, quiet but for the sounds of contented horses chewing hay, rustling about in their straw…

 

CALLISTA GOES COUNTRY began with a funny scene I can’t resist sharing with you.

“Get off!”

Under normal circumstances, Callista Fontaine was mild-mannered, adjusted easily to whatever came her way, frequently laughed at herself, and only once in a blue moon raised her voice.

But normal was gone and her life in the city but a distant memory. Here she sat—at the butt crack of dawn—doing something she had never in a million years dreamed of doing.

Milking a goat.

And the baby goat, which she actually—God help her—delivered into the world only a few days earlier, was dancing a jig on her hunched back while nibbling on the tendrils of hair sticking out from under her hat.

 

CATS: A Heartwarming Collection of Furry Tales, Volume #5  began here:

Rain dripped from the edge of the overhang, barely missing Eddie where he was hunkered down, waiting out the storm.

He didn’t like storms, and really didn’t like being alone while thunder rolled and rain pelted from the sky.

Water was beginning to cover the ground and creep up toward him, making him feel like he would soon be sitting in a puddle.

He should have left when the other cats did.

 

In total, two Romantic Suspense, one Contemporary Romance, and one Collection of Short Stories.

Have I lost my mind?

Nope.

And better still? I have a new opening scene tugging at me, and although I think it will be a mystery, I won’t know for sure until my fingers hit the keys and words become sentences…

Want to check out more books and other stuff I’m doing these days?  (Yes, I’ve just added more author services to my list, and I’m having great fun helping out my fellow writers.) Pop on over to my website: https://kathrynjane.com/

 

 

 

Marketing Strategies and #CoverLove #WritingTips @jacqbiggar

view of books in shelf

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Celebrating a New Cover!

If you’re an indie author, like me, you know there’s a lot more to creating a successful marketing plan than writing the book. While an engrossing story is important, it doesn’t do you any good if no one knows about it.

Editing, beta reading and critique groups are a good start and a necessary set of steps in order to make your book baby look the best it can (on the inside.)

But what do you do after that?

GET A PROFESSIONAL COVER ARTIST!

I can’t say how many times I’ve been turned off of what could have been an award-winning story because of a weak cover.

One of the first things any potential buyer is drawn to, whether online, a library, or in a brick and mortar store is a standout cover. It is critically important that YOU, as a hard-working writer, DO NOT skip this important marketing step.

Okay, you have your masterpiece and the perfect frame for it, now what?

I recommend creating 5-6 memes that you can switch out in your social media posts. Try Canva or Covers Sell Books, both are great. Yes, you need to play nice on Facebook and Twitter 🙂

Seriously though, having a strong social media presence is crucial if you want to get the word out about your books.

Next, set up a newsletter–you’ve been building up subscribers at the same time you’re building SM contacts, right? :)–and send it out with the big news. It’s recommended not to push your sales, so take the time to be personable. Your followers want to know you, share a piece of you and they will respond, trust me!

We’re doing great!

Books are selling, reviews are trickling in, but then as time goes by the initial excitement wanes, now what?

 

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

 

Placing your book on sale is a good marketing strategy. Not only do you regenerate interest in the product you’re promoting, but it often gains you readers for the rest of your backlist, as well.

Again, this is where your growing social media connections can count. Rather than shoving the sale in their faces though, use those pretty memes you made and share them on Twitter and Facebook group pages in your chosen genre.

I also like to book professional sites to share my sale, such as ereader News Today, Book Gorilla, and ebook Discovery, to name a few. Just make sure to decide on a budget beforehand, and stick to it. Keep in mind that while on the dace of it, your sale book may not pay out the cost of the fees, subsequent sales on all your books will continue for days or weeks after as your name moves up in Amazon (or other retailers) algorithms.

Another choice you can make is upgrading to a new cover. Maybe, for whatever reason, the old cover isn’t doing its job of catching the attention of new readers. This is a guessing game, of course, but sometimes a cover with brighter colors, or a stronger image can make all the difference.

I’ve decided to take that course of action with my 1950’s murder mystery, Missing: The Lady Said No. The title was clunky, so I dropped the Missing and added An Augustus Grant Mystery subtitle to define the series.

The original cover was dark and moody, and didn’t explain the era as well as I wanted it to.

 

Missing The Lady Said No eBook

 

The new cover is flashy, using a bright, bold color palette and an eye-catching image that does a much better job of hinting at the genre and storyline.

What do you think?

 

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Get your copy here!

 

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JACQUIE BIGGAR  is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. 

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site:

http://jacqbiggar.com

You can follow her on at http://Facebook.com/jacqbiggar, http://Twitter.com/jacqbiggar

Or email her via her web site. Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

You can also join her street team on Facebook: Biggar’s Book Buddies

Or her exclusive Review Crew: https://jacqbiggar.com/join-my-review-crew/

And sign up for her newsletter-

http://www.subscribepage.com/jacqbiggar

Planning

Are you a planner? Well, I am. I like to feel in control of situations, so I do lots of planning beforehand to be prepared for whatever might come. If I’m going to read scripture at church, I like to have the liturgy ahead of time, so I can practice. I like to know what we’re going to have for supper, so I know what to eat for lunch. I mean you don’t want to eat left over pasta salad for lunch if you’re going to an Italian restaurant for supper, right? So yes, I like planning.

Of course, I use it in my writing, but as I’ve written here before I seem to be morphing into something of a pantser—or plotser as I call my process. Planning with some freewheeling.

Are you completely in the dark about where I’m going? Hang in there. I’m about to get there.

photo(8) This is the screen shot on my phone. 

In three years, God willing, my husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Twenty or twenty-five years ago, I attended a 50th wedding anniversary at the Country Club for long time members of our church. It was quite lavish, great food and drink. People were dressed up. The kids of the couple put together a charming video depicting their parents’ lives. Right then, I decided that was how I wanted to celebrate our 50th when time came.

Flash forward a ton of years, and I’ve realized I don’t want to ask our kids to go to that much trouble when they are super busy. Recently, I’ve heard of several families who planned a family vacation for the parents’ 50th.  And I thought. Hmmmm. I’d love to share Maine with our family.  When I ran the idea past our kids, they thought that sounded great. Dates to be determined later, but summer 2021. There will be 9 of us on the trip.

photo(7) From a cottage off the Demariscota River. Prototype of setting for ACT OF TRUST.

I’ve already begun planning. Yes, I know it’s three years off, but great places book up more than a year in advance. And as I said, I enjoy planning. And that gives us time to save up. 😊 It’s not inexpensive, but it will be less than the big country club party. And it will give our kids and grandkids, who will be 12, 10, and 9 then, awesome experiences. Hopefully, when we’re gone, they’ll still want to make periodic trips to Maine. Or at the very least, they’ll look at pictures and remember a wonderful time with us. They won’t get these beautiful fall colors since we’ll be going in the summer.

This is near Boothbay Harbor. photo(11)

I can’t tell you how much joy I’ve already experienced in researching locations and places to stay. Well, mostly places to stay, because I’ve got the location nailed: Somewhere on the mid-coast of Maine. I’ve only shared a couple of my gazillion Maine pics, but you can see why I love it so much.

I began looking at Resorts—two especially. The first is The Samoset Resort in the Camden/Rockland area. http://www.samosetresort.com/about-us/  We ran across it on one of our trips when we were looking at a nearby lighthouse. It has some fun activities: pool, kid area, awesome views. Haven’t found exactly the right room arrangement but closer to time, I probably can.

Then I looked at Spruce Point Inn & Resort near Boothbay Harbor, a place we’ve stayed twice.

https://www.sprucepointinn.com/resort/overview/

Again, good activities, even lawn size chess. Our grandson and his father would love that. But I haven’t nailed down the perfect accommodations, yet.

Family trips work well when you have a good balance between separate space and together space. Recently, I ran across a HomeAway link, and I got to thinking about large houses. The two below are are possible winners.  I have to choose between ocean or river views and have eliminated lake views, because we have that now. 🙂 Leaning toward ocean, since that’s not as common for our crew.

https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p158384vb

https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p868993vb

The houses are less expensive than the resorts, but there might be more to do at the resorts. But I want to make sure we take car trips to see many of the wonderful sites up and down the mid coast of Maine. I love this area so much, I actually put a Mid-coast road trip in ACT OF TRUST.  I used it to show a growing attraction between the hero and heroine, but mostly just to showcase this beautiful state. 🙂

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Don’t know what we’ll decide on, but I have had a ball looking. Do you think I’m nuts for looking this far out? I mean, we might not be alive, or we could be seriously ill by then. Hope and pray not, but….  Are you a planner?  Love to hear from you.

Please sign up for my Newsletter on my website http://www.marsharwest.com

Contact me at marsha@marsharwest.com , and follow me on my social media sites.

https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ for my Blog

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https://www.twitter.com/Marsharwest  @Marsharwest

https://www.pinterest.com/marsharwest/

https://sisterhoodofsuspense.com/blog

 

 

 

Writing vs. Life

Do you set goals? For your job? For writing? For health?

Goals

Well, I have done that for many years. In the past I wrote about strategies to help with goal setting and carrying out the actions to meet those goals for this blog.

Those of you have publishers get your writing goals set by them. Those of us who are Indie Published, set our own goals. Or maybe you don’t. 😊 I’ve always had a date I was shooting for when I planned to release a book. (I pretty much need to have a deadline on almost anything I want to be sure to do—otherwise it just doesn’t get done.)

For the last several years I’ve published one book a year. Not nearly as many as some of you. Perhaps not as often as my readers would like either, but that schedule has worked for me. The goal for 2018 was to release Book 4 in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF SURVIVAL. I started writing it last year, but really struggled with the story.

Lone Star Love 200x300

Then I put it away to write the short story, “the Colonel & Her Major” for my writing chapter’s anthology in honor of our 35th Anniversary. Now it was only a 3500-word short story, but I’d never written a short story before. I discovered it had to be a romance and not a romantic suspense, which I write, because I couldn’t work the suspense into the limited words. So besides never writing a short story before, I’d never written a story with only romance before. So, it took a lot longer than you’d think for such a short piece. I just barely made the deadline. But I did make that deadline. 😊

Anyway, all of that pushed the book into the beginning of this year. The story is set in Wichita Falls, TX, where my husband and I went to college and where we have family living. One of our visits in the spring helped me with the setting. I plugged away until I now have about 35 thousand words. I know. Nothing on a 70-80 K book.

Then we got into the situation where we were selling our 75-year-old church building and buying a new (to us) one. Bob was the lead lawyer on this project and it’s almost complete. We are Presbyterians, and we operate from committees. We have a Session that’s the governing board, on which I sit, and then lots of committees. Well, I’ve taken on the role of the chair of the Relocation Central Commission. We have six committees working on various aspects of the move. It will take a lot of time, but it’s such important work, and I have the skills to do this job. Not everyone does.

IMG_5437 Current church, built for 1500 membership. Like so many main-line churches, our numbers have dropped to about 400.

That is not to say I’m doing this on my own. We have an awesome group on the central commission and people jumped at the chance to serve on the six committees. But I’ve taught meeting leading and chaired or been president of lots of different groups and organizations over the years. This process started several year ago when out of the blue a development company approached us saying they wanted to buy the building. Thus, began five years of wandering in the desert so to speak as deal after deal fell through. At any rate we’re a go now and have about three to four months of intensive work to make the move happen.

IMG_7683 Inside of new facility, a bit of a fixer-upper. 🙂

I gave myself permission to move the deadline for the release of ACT OF SURVIVAL from early fall to late December to even maybe early next year. I write best when I have big chunks of time to dig in. That just didn’t seem like it would happen over the next several months. I will eventually finish writing this book, get it edited, formatted and released. But likely it won’t be in 2018.

The three books in the series are:

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Have you ever had to push your deadlines? How do you feel about doing that? What kinds of things made you push the deadline? As a reader, how important is seeing a book from your favorite author yearly or more often? Love to hear from you.

Please sign up for my Newsletter on my website http://www.marsharwest.com Contact me at marsha@marsharwest.com , and follow me on my social media sites.
https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ for my Blog
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http://www.twitter.com/Marsharwest  @Marsharwest
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https://sisterhoodofsuspense.com/blog

 

Fear, Resistance, and Zombies: A Cure For All Your Writing Woes

Photo courtesy of Sharon Wray

E. B. White (author of Charlotte’s Web) said he admired anyone who “has the guts to write anything at all.”

I’ve always loved this quote because I’m a writer easily paralyzed by fear. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of zombies. I guess you could say I’m afraid of  just about everything. Added to that basket of worries is a horrible propensity for  perfectionism. So it’s not surprising that when I sit down to create something out of nothing that my stress about writing  books my readers will love turns into a paralysis that I have to fight daily.

Photo courtesy of Sharon Wray

Fear is a terrible thing. It prevents you from writing the books that’ve been pressed onto your heart (or living the life you want) and steals your joy. Add in the struggle with needing to be perfect, and a writer can send herself into a whirlwind of procrastination and sense-of-failure. And that’s just during the drafting phase!

While I’m no where near qualified to talk about these things in a professional way, I thought today I’d offer a few of the resources I use ALOT to get myself out of these cycles of fear-perfectionism-procrastination-perceived failure.

All of these resources are available in book, e-book, or podcast format. There are also YouTube videos and websites. And some of these sources are free!

Photo courtesy of Sharon Wray

Hopefully one of these resources will help, especially if you’re like author Cynthia Ozick who has to talk herself “. . . into bravery with every sentence, sometimes every syllable.”

Books

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

First published twenty-five years ago, The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. Perhaps even more vital in today’s cultural climate than when it was first published, The Artist’s Way is a powerfully provocative and inspiring work. In it, Julia Cameron takes readers on an amazing twelve-week journey to discover the inextricable link between their spiritual and creative selves. This groundbreaking program includes:

–  Introductions to two of Cameron’s most vital tools for creative recovery–The Morning Pages and The Artist Date
–  Hundreds of highly effective exercises and activities
–  Guidance on starting a “Creative Cluster” of fellow artists who will support you in your creative endeavors

A revolutionary program for artistic renewal from the world’s foremost authority on the creative process, The Artist’s Way is a life-changing book. This 25th anniversary edition includes a new introduction from the author.

 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

The Courage to Write {How Writers Transcend Fear} by Ralph Keyes

In The Courage to Write, Ralph Keyes, an author who has taught writing for more than thirty years, assures us that anxiety is felt by writers at every level, especially when they dare to do their best. He describes the sequence of “courage points” through which all writers must pass, from the challenge of identifying a worthwhile project to the mixture of pride and panic they feel when examining a newly published book or article.

Keyes also offers specifics on how to root out dread of public “performance” and of the judgment of family and friends, make the best use of writers’ workshops and conferences, and handle criticism of works in progress. Throughout, he includes the comments of many accomplished writers — Pat Conroy, Amy Tan, Rita Dove, Isabel Allende, and others — on how they transcended their own fears to produce great works.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.

Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.

Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

The follow-up to his bestseller The War of Art, Turning Pro navigates the passage from the amateur life to a professional practice. “You don’t need to take a course or buy a product. All you have to do is change your mind.” –Steven Pressfield TURNING PRO IS FREE, BUT IT’S NOT EASY. When we turn pro, we give up a life that we may have become extremely comfortable with. We give up a self that we have come to identify with and to call our own. TURNING PRO IS FREE, BUT IT DEMANDS SACRIFICE. The passage from amateur to professional is often achieved via an interior odyssey whose trials are survived only at great cost, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We pass through a membrane when we turn pro. It’s messy and it’s scary. We tread in blood when we turn pro. WHAT WE GET WHEN WE TURN PRO. What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out.

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

“There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us. Step one is to recognize this. This recognition alone is enormously powerful. It saved my life, and it will save yours.” — Steven Pressfield Could you be getting in your way of producing great work? Have you started a project but never finished? Would you like to do work that matters, but don’t know where to start?The answer is Do the Work, a manifesto by bestselling author Steven Pressfield, that will show you that it’s not about better ideas, it’s about actually doing the work. Do the Work is a weapon against Resistance – a tool that will help you take action and successfully ship projects out the door. Picking up where The War of Art and Turning Pro left off, Do The Work takes the reader from the start to the finish of any long-form project—novel, screenplay, album, software piece, you name it. Do The Work identifies the predictable Resistance Points along the way and walks you through each of them. No, you are not crazy. No, you are not alone. No, you are not the first person to “hit the wall” in Act Two. Do The Work charts the territory. It’s the stage-by-stage road map for taking your project from Page One to THE END.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

With insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to take the leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft: on writing from “first thoughts” (keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper), on listening (writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write), on using verbs (verbs provide the energy of the sentence), on overcoming doubts (doubt is torture; don’t listen to it)—even on choosing a restaurant in which to write. Goldberg sees writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend the value of their lives. The advice in her book, provided in short, easy-to-read chapters with titles that reflect the author’s witty approach (“Writing Is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger,” “Man Eats Car,” “Be an Animal”), will inspire anyone who writes—or who longs to.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Advice on writing and on life from an acclaimed bestselling author:
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our  family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

On Writing by Stephen King

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

Becoming a Writer recaptures the excitement of Dorothea Brande’s creative writing classroom of the 1920s. Decades before brain research “discovered” the role of the right and left brain in all human endeavor, Dorothea Brande was teaching students how to see again, how to hold their minds still, and how to call forth the inner writer.

 

 

Websites & talks

Author Jeannie Hall’s (yes, of my Sisterhood of Suspense sisters) website Writing in you Jammies provides links to articles and podcasts that help you work through fear, procrastination, and anything else that might be holding you back. Seriously, her podcasts are the best! 

Author Steven Pressfields website offers wonderful daily articles about how to defeat Resistance and finish the book your meant to write.

KM Weiland’s website Writers Helping Other Writers has great articles on everything writing related, including Fear and Resistance.

JK Rowling’s famous Harvard Commencement speech on the benefits of failure:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on Your Elusive Creative Genius:

I hope if you ever worry about things like fear and failure, or if you’ve ever hoped for the zombies to show up so you don’t need to finish your current WIP, these resources will offer some hope. And maybe a few laughs along the way.

Now I’d love to know if you have any go-to books or advice to help you get out of the fear-induced funk.

(Book covers and blurbs courtesy of Amazon)


Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.

Her debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife.

It’s available on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

Adding it to your Goodreads TBR list is also always appreciated!

You can find Sharon on:

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads |  Bookbub | Amazon 

Easter – so much more than a word

Easter.

Six letters.

Two syllables.

A simple sounding word with a nice visual balance.

A word tasked with conveying entire stories, and where a picture is often worth a thousand words, some words are worth a thousand pictures.

In our complex world filled with assorted and often dissimilar beliefs, Easter conjures up an amazing collection of emotions along with those pictures. 

Joy, love, excitement, anticipation and sorrow, are among the many, and just as dissimilar as a crucifix, white gloves, and a bible, are to chocolate bunnies, colored eggs, and vacations at fancy theme parks.

In celebration of Diversity,  the Sisters of Suspense Authors are sharing little bits of their Easters with all of us.


From Joanne Guidoccio:


From Kathryn Jane:

Easter means Spring to me. A time when the trees sprout new leaves, and daffodils push up through the ground to share their smiling faces with the world. Everything outdoors is new, and fresh, and holds the promise of warmer weather to come.DSCN7733 (2)


From Vicki Batman:

The world coming alive in the Spring.


From Sharon Wray:

“I hope you all have a Happy Easter.”


From Marsha R. West:

Eggs! A highlight of my memories of celebrating Easter when I was a child. My dad was an expert egg decorator. They were beautiful. Afterwards my mother turned the eggs into awesome egg salad. When we had daughters, I tried to do the same thing. Not sure I was successful, but it was fun. Now we have two granddaughters (and one grandson), and the Easter egg hunting tradition continues, but with plastic eggs. This year they will b filled with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Better for you than all that sugar.


From Jeannie Hall:

Pastel eggs and yellow ribbons

Pigtails, smiles, hidden treasure

Laughter on cherubic faces,

While sunshine, warm and gentle

Lights the way.


From Marian Lanlouette:

These girls and I have been friends since birth. I call them my cradle to the grave friends.




 

What does #holidayromance mean to you? #amwriting #RSsos @jacqbiggar

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Ahh, Valentine’s Day!

Though it may be way over commercialized, Valentine’s Day still fills even the most jaded heart with thoughts of how to celebrate a day meant for love.

Candy.

Chocolate.

Flowers.

That special candlelit dinner by the bay.

It’s no wonder romance writers pick Valentine’s and June for weddings as their favorite release dates!

Which made me wonder: do you like to read holiday romances at other times of the year? For example, Christmas stories. Do you sit on a warm summer beach and read about snowbound heiresses? Or, island getaway romances in the middle of a winter storm?

Are holiday romances a limited engagement?

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It’s release day for Valentine!

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Take two humans who pretend they can’t stand each other and one matchmaking canine and the fun is nonstop!

Val Hodgins is on the road to success. His architect firm handles some of the biggest contracts along the western seaboard. He doesn’t have time to babysit his aunt’s aging house or her pain in the butt dog, but when she falls ill with pneumonia he drops everything to go to her aid.

Sierra Johnson’s dreams of owning a catering company go up in smoke thanks to a bad choice in boyfriends. Now, she’s stuck working for a tyrannical boss, care-taking an aging townhouse, and being tormented by the owner’s aggravating, caustic, way-too-attractive nephew.

Will these two get over their prejudices in time to realize love comes without a price tag?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078QFJH4H

Universal: https://books2read.com/Valentine

Add to TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38088692-valentine

Excerpt:

Val opened the door to the brownstone and ushered Norma Jean inside. What a fiasco. He was just glad it was over.

“Thanks for accepting my apologetic dinner. My aunt’s dog isn’t usually so…”

“Cute?” she supplied, smiling as he helped her remove her wet coat. Of course, it had to be pouring when they left the restaurant.

“Troublesome,” he corrected. Though really, he’d only been living here a week, so what did he know?

“It’s strange I never saw him here before your aunt became ill.” A horrified look crossed her pretty face. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

He shrugged, uncomfortable. She couldn’t, he barely knew his great-aunt. “It’s fine, we aren’t that close.” He hung her jacket by the door. “Maybe next time we go out we can avoid setting off the fire alarms.”

He’d meant it as a joke, but when he turned and caught the hopeful expression in her sky-blue eyes he cursed his loose lips.

“That sounds amazing,” she sighed, then glanced down the hall. “Something smells good.”

Oh, hell. He’d left his roast slow-cooking while he took her out, but he hadn’t planned on the delay with the water sprinklers and the firemen who wanted to know what happened. He’d be lucky if it wasn’t beef jerky by now.

“Thanks,” he said. “I’m stocking the freezer for those days when I don’t want to cook after work. Do you want to join me for coffee and a sandwich?” he offered reluctantly.

She gazed longingly down the hall, but shook her head. “Maybe next time. I need to study, mid-terms are coming up soon.”

He sighed his relief. She was nice, and would make a great friend, but he wasn’t interested in anything else. He’d been burned by women enough to last a lifetime. He’d give love a pass.

“Okay, well… have a nice night,” he ventured, waiting for her to go up the stairs to her room.

She laughed softly and leaned close to brush his cheek with her cherry red lips. “Don’t try so hard,” she murmured, before sashaying away on the stilts she wore for shoes.

Val rubbed his jaw and strode down the hall. Maybe they could just be friends.

He entered the kitchen expecting smoke, and instead found himself staring at the shapely bottom of a woman bent over his oven basting his roast while the mutt who’d ruined his day sat nearby, a sloppy grin on its narrow face.

Now what?

 

Variety is the spice of life

Variety is essential in any long term writer’s career. 

When I started my writing journey at 33 years of age, eleven years ago, I fell in love with writing romantic thrillers. 

My first story was about a pair of young sisters who escape a dangerous, religious David-Koresh-type cult. The sisters run from a horrific past, looking for a new life states away from there hidden compound in rural Oklahoma.

The eldest, Lynea, falls for a college professor, bringing an element of hope and romance to the story. Lynea’s past is nightmarish and full of abuse, making her new romance difficult. 

At times the plot grows as dark and disturbing as an episode of Criminal Minds. 

This novel is called Violation of Faith.

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I loved the fast paced nature of that plot. And since you’re reading this, you probably like this suspenseful type of writing, too.

But one thing I discovered after getting published was that writing the in the same dark and intense vein for my second book didn’t appeal to me. 

I kept trying to write a sequel and couldn’t seem to make it work. But when I chose a lighter, sexier tone for a different project, I completed it quickly.

I also went from being traditionally published for my first novel to self-publishing my second project, which was a Christmas novella called A Midnight Clear. 

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It was incredibly liberating to be in complete control of my plot and editing. It left me feeling free and happy with my end product. 

My next four projects were of a whole other variety in that they were nonfiction ebooks called the Writing in my Jammies series. These were brief, easy to consume in one sitting self-help books with exercises at the end, written with spirituality and personal development in mind.

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All this variety – a dark and intense thriller novel to sexy suspenseful novella to little nonfiction ebooks – kept my creative muse very active in 2016.

In 2017, I found more inspiration in adding even more variety to my writing by creating blogs that corresponded with a recorded podcast. 

By adding the variety of audio content to my writing, I’ve discovered an entirely new audience for my writing. 

Listen to this post as a podcast

So now variety isn’t just igniting my creative sparks, it’s allowing me to use a fresh new medium to share my stories. It’s also making my listeners aware of my endeavor to serve as a Creative Inspiration Coach assisting other writers struggling with their muses. 

It’s as exciting as it is rewarding. 

Variety is a wonderful thing.

Another beautiful example of variety is the Sisterhood of Suspense. 

This amazing sisterhood of authors write everything from straight suspense to spine-tingling thrillers. Everything from traditional mysteries to supernatural romances. 

Some of the Sisterhood also write nonfiction like I do. 

This variety means we can offer our visitors, followers, and readers a uniquely wide variety of genres and voices.

That is the extraordinary gift joining together provides us as authors and you as readers. 

Variety

Variety

Not only is it the spice of life, it’s the joy of camaraderie, the combining of resources, and the ability to share individual talents and abilities with all of you.

If you’re looking for romance and mystery – or just really love Las Vegas – check out Pat Amsden.

For multiple romantic comedies featuring unique handbags, Vicki Batman is the author for you.

Want a romantic suspense with a tough alpha male or something a bit more supernatural? Look no further than Jacquie Biggar.

For emergency room romances, go to Sam Bradley writing as McKenna Sinclair. She also has her own long-running disaster podcast here.

Author Veronica Forand is where you’ll want to look for romances with thriller edges to them. 

If you like your romances to make you both laugh and cry, Claire Gem would be perfect for you. 

In the mood for a series of cozy mysteries, paranormal romances, or inspirational literature? Try Joanne Guidoccio.

Like a mix? Kathryn Jane writes novels full of mystery, suspense, adventure, psychic abilities, and romance often featuring animals. 

For contemporary romance and romantic suspense, be on the lookout for Mia Kay.

Marian Lanouette writing as Merry Holly is a multi-published author of both mystery and romance. 

Julie Mulhern writes mysteries, historical romances, and romantic suspense – including the Country Club Murders.

Want high emotional stakes balanced with a touch of humor? Check out Stephanie (S.A.) Taylor’s contemporaries and romantic suspenses. 

If you like your romantic suspense flavored with second chances at love, give Marsha West’s Second Change series a looksee.

Are stories of adventure, suspense and love your cup of tea, grab Sharon Wray’s Deadly Force series. 

I consider it a privilege to work with such a fantastic group of authors, and I know you’ll enjoy their books, as well. 

Jeannie Hall is a multi-published author, blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, and Creative Inspiration Coach specializing in helping authors reignite their creative sparks. You can find her (and her various social media links) at WritinginyourJammies.com