Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Care to Inspire Me?

It's the last day of 2014 so I'm in a bit of a mood. I was supposed to go a New Year's Eve bonfire, but now I have a massive head cold so I'll be staying home.

It wasn't a great year for me. In fact, when I did a quick mental recap, it sounded a lot like the lyrics of a bad Country song. 

I got divorced, I ended up at a hospital because of health issues, and my dog died.

Of course some good stuff happened, just nothing "great".

Needless to say, I'm hoping for better things in 2015. (The bar doesn't have to be raised very far in order for that to happen, lol.) But considering that instead of going to a New Year's Eve celebration I'll be staying at home, nursing a massive head cold, it's not getting off to a particularly auspicious start.

I usually post my goals for the year right about now,  but I'm not feeling particularly inspired, so I'm going to look to YOU for inspiration.

Tell me:

What did YOU celebrate this year?
What do YOU hope to accomplish next year?


Monday, December 29, 2014

January Writing Goals

'Tis the final week of 2014 and I plan to spend some of it preparing for my writing group's, the Saskatchewan Romance Writers, writing challenge. It started as a Book-In-A-Week (BIAW) kind of idea but has been reshaped into a writing challenge that allows us to work on whatever we want however we want for as long as we want within the month of January. It's also the perfect month because it can get really, REALLY cold here in January and we tend to hibernate when not forced to go out which is conducive to writing.

We host the opportunity for these marathon writing sessions two or three times a year. Generally none of us participate in NaNoWriMo. Varied writing styles and varied lifestyles make NaNo impractical and we're always in various stages of a project. But a core group of us love to write together, so to speak. We like to be encouraged, or pay it forward. We like to see how each other is doing and cheer or commiserate.

Everyone sets their own goal. Here's mine: 750 words a day.



I'm working on a new project. The third and final book in my Aspen Lake series. I have just over 11,000 words already. Another 23,500 will bring me to approximately the halfway point in the first draft. I like to write the first half of the book first and revise before going on to write the last half, or the next quarter of the book. This is what works for me. However, because I'll be using Scrivener I'll also be jumping all over the place as the mood or ideas hit. I love Scrivener because it makes it easy for me to do this. All I have to do is tweak it.

But in the end those are just numbers. I think you need to have a sense of the numbers or your projections for your work. A knowledge of your writing style and what works for you. Your timeline and when you want to finish. If I'm finding myself lost or uncertain at any point I don't keep writing for writing sake just to meet a goal. You have to go with your gut too. I may have to get out pen and paper and start working on 'what ifs' or different scenarios. It doesn't matter. It's all part of the process and leading you towards your end goal.

The main thing is we're writing. We're making writing an important part in starting off our year. How about you? New projects? Writing goals for 2015? For January? We love it when you share!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Coffeemas!

I was joking with a friend yesterday on FB.  I wished her a Merry Coffeemas (because we both have a deep and abiding love of coffee) and she said it ought to be a real holiday, sooo...

I'm taking it upon myself to declare the day after Christmas to be Coffeemas.  (Cuz, lord knows we probably all need coffee on the day after Christmas, and what better day to relax with a nice, hot cup of java?)

Most likely, right now, all your relatives have gone home.  You're still feeling full from yesterday.  The kids are wiped out from the gaiety of Christmas.  The pets are chilling after chasing bows and attacking wrapping paper.  Treat yourself to some of the dark nectar.

Take right now--this very moment--to forget the worries of 2014 and to ignore the what-ifs of 2015. 

Cuz Coffeemas is all about relaxing and enjoying and taking a moment for yourself. 

And should you doubt the validity of Coffeemas, we even have songs:

Juan Valdez is Coming to Town
Deck the Halls with Roasted Java
Silent Morning
Jingle Beans
Brown Coffeemas
Grandma Got Run Over by a Starbucks
Away in a Cafe
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Barista

How will you be celebrating Coffeemas today?  And if you're a non-believer, what's your morning beverage of choice?  (Because on Coffeemas, all beverages are welcome.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

To Be Read Pile for 2015

I don't know but somehow it got to be the 22nd of December. Am I ready for Christmas? No. But there's a whole 3 days left.

I'm in so much trouble.

Enough trouble that I stole a page from JB's book and started making lists. It works. I got every item on that stupid grocery list on Saturday. Even though I had to backtrack and forward track and it took me FOREVER.

But now I'm good to go and beginning to feel organized.

And have time to think about things like what books I want to read next year (in no particular order) while I listen to my favorite Christmas caroles.

Kylie Scott's Deep. The final instalment in her Stage Dive Series. Didn't think I'd like this series as much as I do. I got hooked on Scott by reading her Flesh series because, hello, zombies. And other sexy stuff. But not with zombies. I promise. Because that would be all kinds of wrong. Coming in March 2015!


One by one, the members of Stage Dive are falling in love. David, Mal, and Jimmy have all taken the plunge, and now it’s Ben’s turn—only he refuses to fall into that trap. The sexy bassist enjoys his no-strings-attached lifestyle. But when Ben is forced to keep the one girl he’s always had a weakness for out of trouble in Sin City, he quickly learns that what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay there.

Kit Rocha's Beyond Innocence from her Beyond Series tentatively set for Spring 2015. I don't know if I can wait. When I was talking about book boyfriends, I forgot about this series. And I CANNOT wait for Jared's story. Warning: Explicit Content. Very explicit.




The hero of this book is Ace's friend and notorious professional ladies' man Jared. The heroine is Mac Fleming's icy daughter, Lili. Who will melt first? Only time will tell.

Ashley Little's Anatomy of a Girl Gang. Might even be my book club pick for 2015! About a vicious girl gang that operates in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. The same setting of my latest release, Off The Grid.


A sharp and gritty novel told in six voices, Anatomy of a Girl Gang is the powerful story of a gang of teenage women in Vancouver called the Black Roses, a.k.a. “the city’s worst nightmare.” They are: Mac, the self-appointed leader and mastermind; Mercy, the Punjabi princess with a skill for theft; Kayos, a high-school dropout who gave birth to a daughter at age thirteen; Sly Girl, who fled her First Nations reserve for a better life, only to find depravity and addiction; and Z, a sixteen-year-old anti-establishment graffiti artist.

Cast out by mainstream society, the five girls lash out: they terrorize Vancouver with a raw, restless urgency, setting fire to the world around them to try to erase their painful pasts. As the Black Roses, they rob ATMs, cook crack on stoves, and savagely beat anyone who dares to harm them. Brutal and broken, they claw at the knot of darkness and violence that tightens around their lives.

Told in stark, vivid, and fearless prose, Anatomy of a Girl Gang is a narrative punch to the throat, a screaming, spray-painted portrait of urban gang culture. Ashley Little’s sophomore book is a brutal, unflinching story of lost girls struggling for power, voice, and hope. Winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.


There! A random sampling of some of the books I'm looking forward to reading in 2015.  What books are you looking forward to delving into?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Year End Reading Wrap Up

I'm a fairly indiscriminate reader. Heck, I'll read the cereal box if it's right in front of me.

Of course, I love suspense and thrillers - naturally, I'm a Killer Chick after all - but I'll pretty much read any genre.  In fact, I think my brain requires it.  I get... bored isn't the right word... complacent? if I read the same genre book after book after book. So, my reading tastes are all over the map.

Just to give you a breakdown, as of the creation of this post, I'd read 98 books this year.

Suspense/Thriller/Mystery - 36
Romance - 27
SF/F - 25
Nonfiction/Memoir - 6
Literature - 3
Historical - 1

Of course, that's simplifying things quite a bit.  And there are crossovers.  Paranormal anything can be tucked into SF/F, but I plopped those into Romance or Suspense, depending on their underlying theme.  Dystopian got stuffed into SF/F.  Adventure and Action got shoved into S/T/M.  Most of the historical novels I read got the same treatment as Paranormal, except for that one - which didn't meet Suspense or Romance. (Probably should've shoved it into Memoir.)

I expect I'll read at least two more books before the year's done.  (Because my Goodreads goal is 100, so I have to squeeze those last ones in, if I can.)  I expect those last couple titles will be a regular romance, and the new paranormal romance I've been saving.


I don't add in the data for any beta reading I do.  Most times, those books have already seen publication and made it onto my list anyway.  And I can't count my own books, for obvious reasons.  If I could, I've probably read at least a dozen more book-length manuscripts (if you count each read-through as a new read, that is).

What can I say, it's been a busy year.

Do you keep track of the books you read?  Have you ever broken it down?  I mean, if you're like me.  If you only read one or two genres, you probably wouldn't need to.  ;o)

What genre do you read the most of?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How I'm seeing life lately

I like to take pictures on my morning walk but lately it looks like this (feels more like Seattle than Florida)



So grey and dreary


But there ARE the occasional pops of beauty to be found


Not to mention the silliness of someone who loves to roll in the dirt at the dog park


She looks much better when she's clean


Tell me Killer Friends: What are YOU seeing lately?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Boyfriends

I’ve read many, many books were I thought the hero was incredibly appealing, sexy as sin, and worth getting to know better. Heroes that kept me up late into the night. Heroes I routed for, laughed with, cried over, and cursed at. 

I actually wrote this list a couple of years ago. But you know what? It hasn't changed a lot despite the number of books I've read between then and now. These are the heroes that have stuck with me. Maybe because these are also some of my favorite series. And maybe if you haven't given them a try you might want to check them out.

Here’s my list of favorite heroes:

Zsadist: A vampire in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series (Lover Awakened). Ruined, but not broken. To say he has issues is an understatement. He is one tortured soul. And as a reader, I find that so appealing.
 
Christian Hawkins: From chop shop bad boy to Special Defense Forces agent in Tara Janzen Steele Street series (Crazy Cool). Nicknamed Superman.   S U P E R M A N    Those eight letters say it all. And it's a reunion story - my favorite kind.

Sam Starrett: A tough talking Navy SEAL from Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series (Gone Too Far). He’s got a potty-mouth, a swagger, and a drawl. He's an elite warrior and good at his job. Too bad his private life is a mess. 

Cameron Quinn: One of the Quinn brothers from Nora Robert’s Chesapeake Bay series (Sea Swept). There’s nothing sexier than a man whose life has been turned upside down, trying to do the right thing, and making a complete hash of it. Cameron Quinn pulled me back into the world of romance.


And, no, I don’t want to know what this list says about me. Other than the fact that I obviously love to read romance.

How about you? Who are some of your favorite fictional heroes?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Derp

Talk about dropping the ball.  I've been so wrapped up with avoiding editing and trying to get holiday stuff done and getting distracting by life stuff, that I totally forgot I was supposed to post today.  I apologize to my fellow Killer Chicks, and to all the Killer Friends. 

This was understandable when I was deep in NaNo, but I should be over that.  I mean, I still have writer brain. 

If you're not a writer, or know/love a writer, it's a malady where you spend more time wrapped up in the lives of the fictional people in your head than you do with actual people, so you forget the niceties - like showering and cleaning and cooking and feeding the cats.

If you're familiar with the movie Romancing the Stone - Joan Wilder at the very beginning where she's searching her house for tissues until she comes across a note to buy herself tissues and ends up blowing her nose on that?  Yeah, that's me.  Sweatpants, no bra, beating me head on the computer, wandering the house in search of something and using something else instead, and occasionally wondering why my husband hasn't run off to find someone a touch more sane.  (Probably because he's got trader-brain - which is about equal to writer-brain - so we actually fit well together.)

So, forgive my writer brain.  I'll try to be more on top of things next week.  And if not, I hope to at least have a pretty picture to show you - like this one:


 (That's at Yellowstone, btw.  So pretty.)




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gold stars!

This weekend I was out shopping with a writer friend (yes, writers DO occasionally do things other than write and drink too much coffee) and since I'd given her a wall calendar for the holidays, she was looking for stickers to use on it to mark her writing progress.


Sort of like the gold star stickers some teachers used on their classroom calendars. (I never had one of those teachers, but I've heard about them.)

She asked me if I'd ever tried the method and I admitted I had, but I usually only got three days in before I forgot about the stickers, or stopped making progress, or gave up on my goals.

Now I make To Do lists. Lots of them. I have a daily To Do list. I have a weekly To DO list. Project lists, monthly lists, annual lists…Hell, I even have a bucket list.

But I don't use gold stars (or in my friend's case, cartoon character stickers).

I'm thinking of trying the Gold Star Method in 2015, but first I'll have to get a calendar and some stickers. Sounds like a good excuse to make a quick trip to the dollar store.


Tell me Killer Friends: Do YOU use gold stars to track your accomplishments? If you do, what do you use them for and what does your method look like? If you don't, what could you use a gold star for? 


Monday, December 8, 2014

Gathering Around the Christmas Tree

I'm neck deep in final edits for my upcoming release, Exposed. But I did manage to check a few  things off my Christmas to-do list. One batch of cookies baked. Some gifts bought. Tree trimmed.

Decorating our Christmas tree is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Each year we venture forth to the tree lot to select the perfect tree. Now the house is rich with the scent of pine, warm with the soft glow of lights, and it feels like Christmas. The ornaments that grace the branches are the closest I can claim to a collection. I'm not a big collector of things, but every year I try to add a new ornament or two. Each year I unwrap them and hang them up. Some come with special memories, some were gifts, and some simply caught my eye. Some I even crafted myself.





“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

Do you have any special holiday collections? 



Friday, December 5, 2014

Cleaning the Bathroom

I'm sure I'm not the only one who hates chores.  Cleaning is so tedious.  Sure, I love how it looks afterwards, when everything is so sparkly and fresh, but the act of cleaning?  Bleh. 

My husband feels the same way about mowing.  The back and forth, back and forth, pick up sticks, push the mower, avoid the trees, around the flowerbeds...  Afterwards, he always looks out over the yard and says "Yep, this is why we mow."  Because it always looks so pretty. 

Right now, I'm thick in the edits for the novel I'm self-publishing next year.  And it's like cleaning the bathroom after weeks of neglect.  You start out thinking it's going to be a simple thing.  But then you start, and you're cleaning this when you notice that, and everything suddenly looks so much messier than it did when you first decided to clean.  It makes you want to just throw the sponge down and walk away.  So what if it'll be better when you're done.  You're the only one who'll ever see it.

Except you won't.  Because unlike all the other times you've cleaned, this time your anal-retentive MOTHER-IN-LAW is coming, and she'll bring out the white gloves to run along your moldings.  (Mine's nice, btw.  This is an analogy.  Just go with it.) 

Suddenly every speck of dust is magnified 100x larger than it would be otherwise.  Your dust bunnies have taken on gargantuan proportions.  So you find yourself wanting to take a toothbrush to the tiles until the grout sparkles. 

So, you've got a choice.  Kill yourself trying to make everything perfect or give up entirely and hope she doesn't convince the world you suck - forgetting that you have another option: Do the best you can and if she finds a speck of dust in your otherwise tidy bathroom, thank her for pointing it out and go on about your life. 

Right now, this manuscript is a mess.  But it's not nearly as messy as it seems when I step back from it and get a grip.  It'll be shiny and tidy for my readers.  And if one of them finds something I missed, all I can do try harder next time.  All I concentrate on now is how pretty it'll be when I'm done.  (It's always prettier when you first get done - before you get a chance to notice how much cleaner it could've been.)

Now, if you'll pardon me, I have grout to scrub.  ;o)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

10 Gifts for Writers

Gift giving season is upon us. I know that it's probably snuck up on you since there aren't any ads to encourage you to shop or anything.

Or maybe you're the type who finishes shopping in July. If so, feel free to move on.

For the rest of you, here's a quick list of things I think writers would like to receive. Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments. Also, feel free to surreptitiously share those you think might need it.  ;-)

1 -- Caffeine

A writer can never have too much caffeine, it doesn't matter if their beverage of choice is coffee, tea, or soda. They want more to fuel the muse who is a demanding beast. They NEED more. So give them coffee or tea or soda. Or give them gift cards so that they can go drink and write in their favorite shop. Or give them both….THAT would be awesome.

2 -- Snacks

Like I said, the muse is a demanding beast and wants to be fed too. Find out what the writer in your life likes to snack on (chocolate, cheese, cookies, popcorn, licorice, pretzels, chips, nuts, WHATEVER) and get them some. For the gift that keeps on giving, get them a subscription to a Food of the Month Club (http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/wheretobuygourmetfoods/tp/The-Best-Food-Of-The-Month-Clubs.htm).

3 -- Time

We all need more time to write. You could buy a writer time by getting them a gift certificate for house cleaning, offering to do a job around the house that's usually their responsibility, or offering to babysit. If you really want to get them a lavish gift of time, get them a hotel stay where all they have to do is write and order room service.

4 -- Books

Writers love to read. Get them the best seller they've been eyeing. Or a gift certificate to their favorite bookstore. Or a subscription for audio books.

5 -- Writing stuff

What does the writer in you life need/want in order to write? A new keyboard? Pens and notebooks? A beautiful journal to dream in?  A calendar? A writing program?

6 -- Education

Writers love to learn. Get them a book on the craft of writing or a subscription to a writing magazine. Offer to send them to a workshop or conference.  Or if they really want to write a hot air balloonist who travels the country solving crime, get them a ride on a hot air balloon.

7 -- Call them a writer (or author, or novelist, or whatever it is they want to be called)

Whether they're a hobbyist or a professional, or someone striving to be a professional, the writer in your life works hard and needs to be acknowledged for what they do. Tell them (and the world) that they're a writer by giving them things like Writer mugs, t-shirts, jewelry, tote bags, bookends, plaques, posters, etc.  Just go to etsy, or Cafe Press or Zazzle and type in "writing" or "novelist" or "author" and a whole plethora of gifts will be just a point and click away

8 -- A life

Writers can't live by words alone…but many try. They need to get out and live in order to breathe life into the worlds they create. Take them to a movie, a show, to the botanical garden, rock climbing, kayaking, to a museum, to a paint-your-own place, bowling, etc. Basically get them out of their writing chair and into the world.

9 -- Things that make writing comfortable

Distractions are a writer's enemy. If your writer is often hot or cold, an electric blanket, small heater, or a fan can make all the difference in helping them stay focused on their work.  Or maybe they need a new chair or lamp. And some writers like to use things that help to get and keep them in the writing zone. Things like: scented candles and music (get them speakers for their writing area, or new headphones, or a gift card for music) set the mood for writing.

10 -- Your support

Writing is hard. Writing is lonely.
Let your writer know you support them. Ask how their project is going. Help them celebrate their successes. (In case you don't know, finishing a project or making a deadline is a great reason to celebrate.) Brag about what they're doing to others. Let them know you believe in their dreams.

Tell me Killer Friends: What kinds of gifts do you think writers want? What are the best gifts you've received?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Survival Toolkit

It’s December. How did it get to be December already? With the holidays just around the corner, a Mount Everest of shopping, baking, wrapping and cleaning to be climbed.

Ba Humbug!

I’m not really a Scrooge. I love all that stuff. Mostly. BUT, you do need a few essentials to see you through to the end game.

  • Holiday Music (all kinds)

To be blasted and used indiscriminately when doing any holiday activity
  • Vodka, so you can make truly awesome Caesars

To be enjoyed after all that cleaning. Or wrapping. Or baking. But especially after any type of shopping excursion.
  • A great gingerbread men recipe

            What are the holidays without gingerbread?
  • The movie Love Actually or The Holiday

            My favs! What are yours?
  • Cozy blankets and hot chocolate (or hot apple cider) (or wine)

            Needed for late night relaxation sessions after shopping, wrapping, or baking marathons
  • The right tape

Do not underestimate the importance of this one. It can make or break a gift wrapping session.

But most of all, A BIG STACK OF BOOKS! Nothing distracts from the craziness of the holidays like curling up with a book and escaping into the pages.

What’s in your Holiday Survival Toolkit?