Sunday, March 31, 2013

Linda Howard's 12 Steps to Physical Intimacy

Linda Howard identified the steps that a man and a woman follow when checking out each other’s level of attraction/sexual interest. In modern society, the woman “decides” when she is ready to move to the next level, but in a romance, it is often the man who asserts.
1) eye to body
2) eye to eye

3) voice to voice

4) hand to hand

5) arm to shoulder

6) arm to waist

7) mouth to mouth

8) hand to head

9) hand to body

10) mouth to breast

11) hand to genitals

12) genitals to genitals or mouth to genitals.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Today I am in sunny St. Thomas in the USVI! The hubby and I are on a week long Caribbean cruise to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary. As it so happens, today is the day. Fifteen years ago I walked down the aisle and married my very best friend. Since then, we've been through a lot: good times, bad times, difficult times, joyful times...but through it all, our relationship has strengthened and grown. My author bio says I'm married to my real life hero, and it couldn't be more true. Even with those times that aren't so easy in life, I really do feel like I've found my happily ever after.

Here in St. Thomas, I'm not sure what we'll be up to. More than likely we'll do some shopping. When we travel we buy a Christmas ornament from each place we visit and then write the date on the back. Each year when we decorate the tree, it's like a little walk down memory lane. So, an ornament will definitely be on the list. Maybe some jewelry...nothing fancy or expensive, just something simple. I could use a new anklet.

Perhaps we'll do an excursion and snorkel over on St. John, or take a guided tour of the island, or there's even an option to swim with the dolphins. I guess we'll decide what we're in the mood to do, and then do it. Perhaps we'll just explore on our own.

I'm hoping tonight is one of the 'fancy' nights for dinner on board. We're supposed to have two over the course of the week. My hubby doesn't like dressing up, (He's more of a cut off sleeves and shorts kind of guy.) but I can't wait to get dressed up. I got a beautiful new dress. One of those that makes you feel elegant as soon as you put it on. When we booked the cruise, we did list our anniversary for today, so maybe there will be a little something special for us even if it's not a 'fancy' night.

I'm sure I'll have lots to share when I return: stories and pictures gallore!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Flashes of Inspiration

It’s now almost apocryphal among my friends about when and where I first had the idea about my novel set in Egypt. The sundeck of a cruise ship moored at Aswan in the blistering afternoon sunshine combined with my visit to the amazing Valley of the Kings earlier in the week provided a wealth of ideas that eventually found their way into my novel ‘Her Only Option.’
Ideas can come from many different sources, and not necessarily as the beginning of a story. Sometimes (often?) you need those flashes of inspiration when you’re part way through a novel and you’re not sure what happens next.
They may come at the most unexpected times. Sometimes it might be something someone says that triggers an idea, or something you see on television. I’ve even heard people say they have dreamt the solution to a problem in a story-but that has never happened to me, as my dreams are usually a totally confused mish-mash that make no sense whatsoever.
Towards the end of last year, I put one story aside, as I wasn’t happy with it, even after a second re-write, once I got to about 50K words. I couldn’t define just exactly what was wrong, only that it seemed to be dragging as I struggled to get my characters from one event to the next. So I left it, and started to write a completely different story which so far (cross fingers etc) hasn’t become mired down at the 50K point.
Last Monday, having ended Chapter 16 on a small cliff hanger, I needed to work out the contents of an important letter – what should be included in it and what should be left out. I kept changing my mind, and so I distracted myself by starting to read one of the (many) unread books on my Kindle. The story happened to take place partly over the Christmas period.
I probably read about a quarter of it but then had to go out to a Social Evening with a group of friends. I was still thinking about the letter I needed for my next chapter, but then – in the middle of a game of dominoes, while I waited for someone to decide which domino to play – I suddenly thought of how to solve the problem of the novel that was ‘stuck’.
Maybe it was because the 'stuck' novel was simmering away somewhere at the back of my mind even while I was writing the new story. Maybe it was because my novel takes place partly over the Christmas period, even though it’s a completely different scenario from the one I had read earlier in the day. Or maybe it’s simply the crazy way my mind works at times! Whatever the reason, I'm always grateful for flashes of inspiration like that!  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

It takes a small town

My daughter is home again and healthy, two good reasons for celebration. But I am really excited that she's forging ahead with her sketch comedy series, 'Middle America.'  (She's one of these people whose creative juices flow non-stop. I can only offer her undying support and wireless Internet.)

Her show is about two German dancers who relocate their unique dancing skills to the booming oil fields of North Dakota and find their eccentric selves completely out of place in a conservative rural community. (She's the blonde.)

Our hometown newspaper surprised her by featuring her casting call on the front page of last Wednesday's paper: Filmmaker seeking 'non-actors' for new comedy series.

In the article, she asked for "flannel shirts and puppy printed sweatshirts" in a husband and wife team, an organist, a hotel manager, a quilting group, an outdoorsman and oil field workers. She explained why she wanted to film in our small rural town, and announced an open call.

Yesterday, nervous, she hoped someone--anyone--would show up.

Thirty-one people came from four towns. Some were eager for show biz discovery. Others thought it would be fun to act or be an extra.

She's been offered a good-sized space to build a set. Local businesses are lending props. Park Rapids appears to have been bitten by the film bug!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Last Minute Changes

I'm in the midst of trying to change travel plans for this coming weekend, so no 'real' post today. We're supposed to fly out to Miami and board a cruise ship on Sunday. Trouble is, now they say a storm is possibly heading for the Midwest. We're trying to get out on Saturday now, but it's Spring Break...Chicago to Miami...go figure there's nothing available that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

So, I need to head back to some travel sites. Wish me well!

Until next time,


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Word Count

Since January 1st, I’ve been taking part in the 100K words in 100 days. We’re now just over three-quarters of the way through. This is the 78th day and I’m 913 words over target. However, not all of that has been added to my current ‘work in progress’. Without checking, I hazarded a guess that I probably did about 500 words a day, and then I checked – actually approximately 37K words in total, which averages out at 475 per day (so I wasn’t far out!). It sounds slightly better when I say I was up to Chapter 5 at the beginning of the year, and am now on Chapter 16!
The other words have come from blogs, and this is really the only difference the challenge has made to my writing habit. I’ve contributed to the weekly topics for two Facebook blog groups, and also challenged myself each Thursday to click ‘Random Article’ on Wikipedia, and write about whatever topic comes up. This hasn’t been easy at times, especially when you get a topic like the ‘Eparchy of Pathanamthitta’ – check out my blog on February 28th for that one! I’ve also prepared most of my blogs for the April A-Z Challenge.
So why hasn’t this challenge had any effect on my novel writing? The short answer is that I don’t write quickly. Why not?
The first reason is that I agonise over sentences, and over individual words. I can’t turn off my inner editor, even though this is a first draft and I know I will be revising it all thoroughly once the draft is complete.
The second reason is that it is not plotted in advance! I have a ‘vague’ idea where it’s going and some of the scenes it will include, but not all, so ‘thinking time’ is part of the process. I ended one chapter, after there has been a power cut in the house, with an almighty crash from downstairs in the kitchen – and then had to decide just what had caused the crash!
I also wrote about 3,000 words for the current chapter which took me ages (definitely less than 500 a day on those) – and then realised why it had taken me so long. I simply wasn’t happy with it. I thought this chapter was the right place for this scene but eventually I realised it was the wrong place in the story. Maybe all the plotting in the world can’t beat that ‘gut’ feeling that tells you something isn’t right.
I am in awe of people who can write 2K or more words per day but I’m not one of them.
Here’s my question: how many words do you write each day? Do you write a very ‘rough’ draft first, and then spend time pulling it together? Or do you agonise like I do?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Breaking All the Rules

Anyone who reads my writing knows that I often write in incomplete sentences. It’s a technique I use more frequently in my blog writing than in my book writing, but sometimes, I’ll do it there too. Mostly with dialogue (see???).

Now, before you go thinking that I’m a bad writer, or that I had horrible teachers, let me tell you that that is not the case.

Growing up, I was fortunate to have some really great writing teachers. Up through middle school, I lived in one town and the teachers did a great job in teaching us the grammar rules. But they also taught us, or me at least, when it was okay to break those rules.

For example, as a child, I was told it was never okay to start a sentence with the word, “because.” Yet, because I read so many books, I saw plenty of writers who did just that. In the beginning, my teachers would correct me. But eventually, when they saw that I was doing it occasionally, and using correct punctuation, they let me break that rule, because it was obvious I knew what I was doing.

When I moved right before high school, I encountered teachers who were equally as good, yet less willing to break rules. My previous teachers had taught us a more organic, less planned, way of writing. My new teachers expected everything to be outlined and planned before we ever put words on the page. Unable to write that way, I quickly learned to write the paper first, then the outline. I’d hand in the outline, make any necessary changes to my rough copy and then turn that in at the correct time. It was the only way I could write.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten a bit snarky and that snark has found its way into my writing voice, which is why occasionally I will write in incomplete sentences. I usually do it to make a point or to draw attention to something. While I’m sure my English teachers might cringe, my early ones, at least, would probably understand my intentions.

I still make grammar mistakes--everyone does. But I firmly believe there are some rules you can break. The key is to learn the rules, and then learn when to break them!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Road Trip

Today I am in Springfield, IL for the Illinois Reading Conference. It's a fabulous conference...two and a half days filled with author spotlights and signings, workshops, sectionals, and more. It's always one of the highlights of my year. I come back energized and ready to head back into the classroom with lots of ideas to implement into my curriculum.

Another thing that makes the conference so wonderful is it's location. I love Springfield. It's not an exotic place. This year it won't even hint at being warm. And it's not the prettiest city in the world, but there's something about it. My first glimpse of the Capitol dome as we drive in from the highway is always exciting.

I think part of the allure is being surrounded by so much history. Everywhere you go you are literally walking in Abraham Lincoln's footsteps. And while I won't have time for sight-seeing on this visit, I'll pass by the Old State Capitol and Lincoln's law offices on my way to lunch Thursday afternoon. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is just down the block. His home, in the historic section of town, is within walking distance. Springfield itself is very walkable. Even on cold, chilly days it's nice to take a jaunt around town. Almost every street has a Looking for Lincoln kiosk. Statues of one of our most famous Presidents are everywhere.

And then just for fun, there's an R2-D2 mailbox on one corner. (I love R2-D2!)

Thursday night we'll head out of downtown into the outskirts and have dinner at D'Arcy's Pint...the cutest little Irish Pub you've ever seen.

All in all, I'm sure it will be a fabulous time!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Highs and Lows

My post today was triggered by a phone call I received in the middle of yesterday afternoon. It was from an acquaintance who bought the paperback of my latest book, ‘Dream of Paris’, last week. She said, “I’m just ringing to let you know how much I enjoyed your book,” and then said she wanted to buy all my other books too!
It occurred to me that this is one of the ‘highs’ of being an author. It’s always good to know someone has enjoyed my story.
Last week, my publisher drew our attention to the fact that it was ‘Read an E-book Week’ (with World Book Day in the middle of the week too). She asked if we were willing to offer any of our books for free or at a discount, and most of us agreed. I offered ‘Changing the Future’ free for the week and when Rebecca produced the full list of downloads, I was happy to see that CTF had the most downloads, out of 67 books by 32 authors. Another high? Yes, but far more satisfying was the message I received on Saturday from someone who had downloaded the book earlier in the week. She said, “It's charming, wonderful, brought tears to my eyes and gave me a wonderful treat on a dark, damp and dreary day...I was sorry to part company with your hero and heroine as I connected with them immediately. This is on my keeper shelf and one to return to - often.” That was the real high.
It occurs to me that writing can produce warm, fuzzy highs like this, which compensate for the lows we often experience. In fact, writing seems to be a whole series of highs and lows.
Think about your first draft. You’re on a high when you start it, full of enthusiasm, but then come the lows. The story isn’t going right, the characters aren’t right, your writing sucks – I’m sure we’ve all been through these troughs of depression.
Somehow, though, we get to the end, and then start on the revision, layering in of extra info, rewriting, editing words and phrases. There are the highs – the times when you think ‘Yeah, that’s good’; and there are the other times when you think totally the opposite and you’re tempted to delete the whole thing!
Acceptances and rejections are obvious examples of highs and lows. Edits from your editor? Well, those can be either, depending on how much or how little needs to be changed.

Then you see the cover of your book for the first time. An exciting moment – if you like it! If you don’t, then you have to hope your cover artist is open to negotiation! I actually hated the first cover produced for ‘Her Only Option’ but fortunately the artist accepted my suggestions, and her second draft was a great ‘Yess’ moment.
Then comes release day. Another high? Actually I tend to find it rather anti-climactic – and it’s followed by more highs and lows. Looking at sales figures and Amazon ranking can, quite honestly, make you wonder why you bother. On the other hand, good reviews and comments like the two I’ve had in the past week make it all worthwhile.
So, it seems, we have to accept the lows in order to experience the highs.
I recently read this from a friend on Facebook, Emmy Ellis:

Sometimes you want to give up, yes? Sometimes you wonder what the point is in slogging your guts out, writing stuff no one seems to read, care about, or even notice is there. An uphill battle where others succeed so damn much and others don't. There comes a point where you sit and think: I can't do this anymore.
This happened to me and countless friends. What I did was change my thoughts on what I was doing and why. I told myself it was a hobby. So, look at it like this, and it might just help you get through the rough patches.
It's the peace and pleasure you get from creating that's important. For a writer, there's nothing like the feeling you get from writing. Why give that up? Why deny yourself that pleasure? It's a gift to yourself, something no one else can give you or take away. You own it; it's yours. So do it. Make yourself happy. Just write, go to that special place inside your head and heart and know that this, THIS is what you were meant to do whether it gets you anywhere or not. It's who you are.

Thank you,Emmy, for allowing me to share this. It's definitely something to think about during those 'lows' we all go through at times.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Country Music

After many years, New York finally has a country music station again (94.7 Nash FM) and I’m happy. I like a variety of music for different reasons. I find classical music relaxing and could listen to Rachmaninov for hours. I like a 70’s and 80’s music for the nostalgia and today’s music because, quite frankly, some of it is really good. Rap is like poetry. Jazz is great for background and for rainy days. But country music is great for writing inspiration.

I don’t like all country music and some would say I’m not a true fan because I prefer the newer, crossover pieces than the legends or the twangy, blue-grass pieces. Most people think booze and trucks when they hear the words “country music” and some of it is just that. In fact, there’s a funny song by Rascal Flatts that talks about running the record backwards so that the man doesn’t lose his wife or his truck or his house, or whatever. But for me, country music is more than that and it’s inextricably tied to my writing (and no, I don’t write about cowboys).

Most country songs tell a story. When I listen to music, I pay close attention to the lyrics. It drives me crazy when people sing songs and get the words wrong—and it probably drives my husband just as crazy when I’m constantly correcting him. But I like listening to how people phrase things, what words they use, what descriptions they choose, how they order their words, etc. I listen to songs for their words in the same way that others listen to music for their instruments. Therefore, I pay close attention to the lyrics. And country music tells a lot of stories.

Many of those stories provide great inspiration for me. Sometimes, a song may resonate with me because it reflects the mood or personality of one of my characters. Other times, it provides a jumping off point for a story that I can write—Carrie Underwood has a new song, Two Black Cadillacs (at least, I think it’s new) that would make a fantastic murder mystery. On my website, I list songs that provide inspiration for each story I write, and many of them, but not all, are country songs.

Even the singers themselves provide inspiration. Many male country singers have deep voices and allow me to picture their voice for one of my characters. Add in the words they’re singing, and you have character development right there! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Summarizing a Life

This week, my dad's obituary was printed in his hometown newspaper and posted on their website. He was a naval intelligence officer during WW2, then a CIA political analyst. He soon embarked on a second career as a political science professor, giving, rather than gathering, information.

He was 94 when he passed, and few of his peers are still alive. A comment notes his people skills as a teacher, and how his stories made historical events come alive.

His obituary is factual, succinct, and (I'm sorry to say) bland. What if obituaries could read more like synopses? Put some jazz into them.

Peoples' lives have highs and lows, good times and bad. What if we wrote our life stories and left them for our families? Would they be shocked? Would they laugh. Shudder? Shake their heads?

Would they print them?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In the Mood...or Not

Lately I just haven't been in the mood to write. It's not that I don't have the time. Basketball season is over, and my evenings aren't quite as filled as they've been the past few months, but I just don't have the interest right now to sit down at my keyboard and pound out a story. I have several ideas floating around, and a few manuscripts that I've started, but it's just a lack of motivation, or more specificly, lack of interest to do any work on them.

Tuesday we had a snow day. A bonus day off of school! Always a nice surprise. When we got back yesterday, one of the other teachers asked me, "So, did you spend your day off reading a book or writing one?" Normally I'd take total advantage and spend the day on my laptop. But this time I didn't. I didn't open a book to read either. I spend the whole day watching making-of extras and a movie. It was great.

So, rather than be stressed and worry about not getting anything done writing-wise, I'm simply giving myself permission to take a little break. A small vacation if you will.

I'm sure the mood will strike me and I'll get back to it soon.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

'Filling In'

There are times in a novel when you have to ‘fill in’. You know what ‘big’ scene you want next, but you can’t leave the hero and heroine in limbo for a couple of days (or more) until they get to that scene.
If they’re not together during this time lapse, then it becomes a little easier. I’ve used several ‘devices’ e.g.
‘By the end of the week, she had serious doubts about whether she’d made the right decision…’
‘She asked herself the same question repeatedly during the next few days …’

‘She had more fun in the next few weeks than she’d had in a long time … ’ (insert a few examples, e,g, sailing, hiking , dinner together etc)
However, if the hero and heroine are together during that ‘time lapse’, I find it far more difficult to ‘fill in’. They need to ‘do’ something, but no-one wants to read about boring everyday things they might be doing – although I did read about five pages in one book about the meal the heroine cooked for her family (which had absolutely no connection with the main plot!)
In 'Changing the Future', my hero and heroine worked together at the same college. I didn't want all the ‘significant’ scenes and events to happen within a matter of days, but at the same time I couldn't use the ‘two weeks later’ phrase when they were seeing each other every day. I felt I had to fill in at least something about those two weeks, but without it seeming like a filler. It still has to add something to the plot, or the character development in some way.  
Sometimes I write a load of ‘filler’ – and then delete it all later! Other times my ‘filler’ turns out to have more significance than I realised when I wrote it.
Here’s a short excerpt from ‘Her Only Option’ . I needed Ross and Neve to have something to talk about as they walked along the quayside from the cruise ship to the motor boat across the Nile. I could, of course, simply have said 'They walked along to where the motorboats were moored and ten minutes later they were on the west bank of the Nile.'. Instead, I wrote this - totally off the top of my head:
At the end of the gangplank, Ross turned and held out his hand to help her onto the uneven stone steps. His touch sent delicious tingles to her nerve-endings. Part of her wished she could leave her hand within his firm grasp. Instead, self-consciously, she withdrew it when they reached the quayside path.
“How are we getting across to the West Bank?”
“I always use the same private motorboat. Elvis should be moored along here.”
“Elvis? Is that the name of the boat?”
Ross laughed. “No, the boat-owner. His real name’s Wasim, but he sings Elvis songs all the time—and I do mean all the time.”
When they reached the white motorboat with its green awning, Neve grinned at the name on the bow: Heartbreak Hotel.
So, with ‘Elvis’ singing to them, I got them across the Nile! And my young friend Wasim (who appeared out of nowhere in my mind) eventually played quite a big part in the later part of the story.
So, my task today is to find something for Jenna and Guy to talk about during their first evening in the Irish house they have inherited!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Delving Into Character

As a result of participating in the NJ chapter of RWA’s JeRoWriMo, which was a 30K word writing challenge, I was able to make significant progress on two of my works in progress. One of them, currently untitled, is the sequel to The Seduction of Esther, which was just contracted by Rebel Ink Press. Because the first book of the series is about to be published, I feel a sense of urgency to work on book two in the series.

My biggest problem with book two was that I didn’t know where the story was going. Prior to the challenge, I knew the main characters’ names (Josh and Miriam), I knew the theme of the book (freedom) and I knew the Jewish holiday around which the story would play out (Passover). However, I didn’t really KNOW my characters.

Forcing myself to write this story every other day (I alternated between this story and a different one) accomplished a few things. Number one, it gave me discipline. Number two, since I was kind of writing blind—without an outline and because I had to make my word count, rather than being inspired—my characters had the opportunity to jump to the forefront and crystallize.

For me, it was kind of like loosening my hold on what I thought I wanted the story to be about, and where I thought I wanted my characters to go, and allowing them to speak. As a control freak, for me, this is huge! J

One of my biggest challenges with this story was learning about Josh, the hero. He was the redeemed villain from the first book. In The Seduction of Esther, I think I did a pretty good job showing his progress from bad guy to good guy. By the end of the book, the reader understands why he’s done what he’s done, how remorseful he is, and hopefully understands and likes him enough at that point to want to read about him!

But other than the development from that first book, what did I know about him? What I’ve discovered, so far is that he’s a bit of an arrogant ass. And that arrogance stems from insecurity and a need to exert control over his life, when in the past, he had none.

Professionally, he is super confident in his abilities as an architect and prides himself on being able to understand what the client wants better than the client understands. When he messes up, it’s devastating for him. He not only has to fix what he’s done wrong so that his client will be happy, but he has to perfect it so that he can maintain his own self confidence.

He uses his skills as an architect to understand the people around him as well. He learns to find the hidden meaning behind other people’s thoughts and actions and desires. He’s intuitive and thoughtful and enjoys helping people. He thinks he knows best what others need and how to give it to them. While that can come off as high-handed, it also can be downright adorable, romantic and even sexy. Who wouldn’t want a man who will do anything to make them happy?

That’s what makes his arrogance forgivable. What makes him human is that quite often, especially in his personal life, he’s not perfect, he’s not able to carry through his plans for the perfect evening exactly. There’s room for the heroine to step in and there’s room for improvement. He’s not perfect, although he tries to be. And eventually, he’s going to learn to accept that perfection isn’t necessary. But it’s going to take him a while.

I’m still discovering things about him as I go along, but for me, it’s the psychological insight that makes it easier for me to write about my characters.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Learning from the Best

The more I learn about the craft of writing, the more I appreciate finely crafted stories in print and on the big and little screen. I especially like to study the pilots of television shows. Thankfully, reruns (and Netflix) make this possible.

For three seasons, I was a devoted follower of White Collar. The pilot episode is, in my opinion, a masterwork of weaving backstory with character introductions and plot.

Neal is a skilled forger plotting to escape from federal prison. The FBI agent who arrested him offers him a deal: work with him (on a short leash) to catch other white collar criminals or languish until he is an old man in prison. Neal is desperate. The woman he loves is in danger. She's also hiding the valuables from his last heist. He has to choose between the FBI agent offering him conditional freedom, saving his loot, and saving his love. He chooses her and escapes.

The television series I've become hooked on recently is The Big Bang Theory. The 2007 comedy pilot introduces four fully-developed characters, nerdy young scientists. Sheldon is a socially-stunted, egocentric physics genius. Leonard is short, insecure, awkward and smart, but not as smart as his roommate, Sheldon. Raj is an Indian-born astrophysicist who can't speak to women. His best friend Howard is a Jewish space engineer who tries every worst come-on line imaginable as he tries non-stop to get laid.

A pretty, but dumb aspiring actress from Nebraska moves into the apartment across the hall. Penny is a magnet for self-centered macho men and has just ended her relationship with a particularly obnoxious one. Leonard falls instantly in love with her. Howard immediately comes onto her. Raj tries, but is tongue-tied unless he's had a few drinks. Sheldon just wants to eat dinner. To impress Penny, the boys offer to get her television back from her ex-boyfriend, and find out he is six feet four with two-hundred pounds of muscle.

Well- conceived characters. A perfect opener.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Friend Brenda Margriet

I'm excited to welcome a new TWRP author to Heroines with Hearts today! Please help me give Brenda Margriet a warm welcome!

I'm not a sporty person. I recognize the value of physical activity in order to be healthy, but, let's be honest – it's way more fun to curl up on the couch with a new book and a snack.

I've come to realize I approach physical activity much like I approach my writing, in both action and attitude.

1. Over the years I've swam, jogged and worked out at gyms. Usually things are good for a few months, maybe even a year. And then I fall off the band wagon, and months and years go by as I promise myself that “next week” I'll get back at it. Same thing with writing. My first manuscript took more than ten years to complete. I would work on it for weeks, then something would happen and I wouldn't touch it again for months.
2. I much prefer to “have gone” to the gym than to get up and go. Same with my writing. I love it when I reach my daily goal. But getting those first few words on the page can be a challenge.
3. Getting into a routine is difficult. Falling out of a routine is easy. I try to write every day, and get to the gym three times a week.
4. Flexibility is important. The days I get to the gym vary each week, depending on the family's schedule. But I still go three times a week. And while I want to write every day, the reason I set that goal is so that, if life gets in the way and I can't write one or two days that week, I still have at least five productive sessions.
5. Some days, it's just not going to be easy. There are times at the gym when I think I'm going to die if I take one more step. And then there are times when my alloted minutes fly by. Same with my writing. It is vital to recognize the effort alone is worth it, even if you don't achieve everything you set out to that day.
6. Always keep the end in sight, but remember it takes a while to get there. During my jogging phase, I found a “learn to run 5K” program online. When I started, running for 1 minute would floor me. By the end of 3 months, I was able to keep moving (albeit slowly) through the whole 5K. Same thing with that first manuscript. Once I started working on it consistently, and didn't let anything sidetrack me, I had it done in a few months. My second manuscript took only 6 months to complete. Every day I write, every day I work out, contributes to the bigger picture.

Whether it is working out or writing, it is always fantastic when you can achieve your goals. That manuscript that took me more than 10 years to complete? It became MOUNTAIN FIRE, which was released January 9 by the Wild Rose Press. Maybe I should start training for a marathon...


A mountaintop mystery leads two conservationists to dangerous obsessions and violent passions.

Natural resources student June Brandt climbs Longworth Mountain for some alone time. But when Conservation Officer Alex Weaver arrives to look into the death of a grizzly bear, June is caught up in the investigation--and fascinated by Alex.

Alex is attracted by June's competence and coolness under fire--as well as her lithe body and honey-blonde hair. Although their mutual interest in protecting the natural wonders of the area brings them together, they soon realize they view love from very different angles. He offers passion and pleasure, but June wants more.

When one of Alex's colleagues is murdered, June and Alex must work together to find the poacher before other lives are lost. And Alex must look deep inside to discover if he can give June what she deserves.

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Thanks so much for joining us today, Brenda! I wish you many sales and much success with Mountain Fire.