Sunday, June 29, 2014


Several years ago I decided to begin to write a story centered around a creature. By doing that, I knew I was entering a crowded, expert field that had been successfully creating vampires and werewolves, witches, and all the rest of the occult cousinage for many, many years.

Wiki Commons Source
Still, why not? I had had a notion to write a sequel to Red Magic. Unlike the other novels I’ve written which are full-on historical fiction, Red Magic  was cross-genre in at least four ways, because there are elements of fantasy, history and adventure as well as the old-fashioned romance at the core. Moreover, if you end a story with the birth of fraternal twins-- in this case, a girl and a boy--there is an obligation to write a follow-up around them. It’s an ancient story-teller's convention, probably well-established by the time the Greeks dreamed up Apollo and Diana.   

Okay, so all well and good, but almost immediately I was stuck again. The tall, dark hero and his red-headed sister I already knew something about—their loves, loyalties and a few of their day-to-day human problems. The question remained: into exactly what sort of creature would my hero morph?

Personally, vampires alarm me. It seems to me there are enough scary people in the real world who fit into this category without making up fictional ones who are going to (somehow) become the love interest. On the other hand, I’ve always had a soft spot for werewolves, but there sure are a lot of them howling at the moon already.

I decided to step back a pace. Why not try something less limiting? Going after the all-encompassing “shape-shifter” idea seemed a way to make an unusual hero who wasn’t boxed into a particular set of conventions, such as drinking blood or only being active after dark. If the hero/creature could become different animals, his metamorphosis could be different every time, which would definitely give my imagination a work-out. Like the boy Wart in The Sword in the Stone, my hero could sometimes be a carnivore and sometimes a herbivore, sometimes four-legged, sometimes winged, as the need and/or inclination arose.

I'm nearing the completion of Black Magic now. If I can just keep my "fanny in the chair," it should be done within the next month and ready for a stern edit. For me, it's been quite an experience, a crazy road trip out of my usual historical writer's comfort zone. 

More about all my books at:


Friday, June 27, 2014

Connie Vines was wondering, "Do fictional characters Pick-up the Habits of the Writer?"

Do Fictional Characters Pick-up the Habits of the Writer?

Saturday,  June 28, 2014
Years agoI located an article about Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind.  Apparently, there was a great deal of press about how she hid sections of her novel beneath couch cushions, this was her very first novel etc. All of these statements may have a ring of truth but Margaret Mitchell was a journalist. 

Whether you agree or disagree with the premise of the Pulitzer Prize winning book or the screenplay or the resulting Academy Award Winning Picture, you cannot argue the fact she created exceptionally real characters.   It has been nearly 80 years since the book was published and nearly everyone in the U.S. (and who knows how many other countries) recall ‘something’ about Scarlett and Rhett.

Interviews tell us that MM would sit in front of a mirror and watch how her earrings (earbobs) moved to help in her descriptions.  She said she had every detail in her mind before she sat down at the typewriter. She also had relatives who lived during the era of the Civil War.

In MM’s case this may have been true. Her character may have been pieces of herself and her life.
However, in my case, I’m not so sure this is the case. 

Yes, my heroines and I may have many of the same interests.  Rachel Scott, my heroine in Lynx, Rodeo Romance Book 1, has many of my physical attributes at her age.   Amberlynn Maddox, my heroine in Brede, Rodeo Romance Book 2, is knowledgeable about Native American works of art. 

(These are WIP that I plan to pitch to my wonderful publisher: Books We Love.  Surprise!)

However, in one of my current WIP, Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow, I seem to be picking up Meredith, my heroine’s habits.  I am beginning to wear disposable latex gloves when I wash my hair (why, I don’t know).  I keep a food diary online and I carry on conversations with Siri (which is very difficult to do).  And, lastly (I hope), I keep purchasing hand lotion.  Do I need all this hand lotion?  No I have a place to store extra hand lotion (besides my desk at my day gig)? No.  Will I keep purchasing hand lotion?  I hope not.

Now on to my anthology, Gumbo Ya Ya—for women who like romance Cajun & Men HOT & SPICY.  Five stores in one book.  Doesn’t this mean 5 times the crazy habits for me?  It would seem so.  Beignets and café au lait, should I be having these type of dreams?  Perfume, I’m obsessed with perfume and I’m worried about gators.  Seriously?  I live in SoCal.  I really don’t think the L.A. river is going to become infested with gators in the next, say . . .million years or so. Then there’s the heroine who works in day time TV.  Well, I do have the beginnings of a three-act play on my hard drive.

Anything else?  Time Travel to the 16th century and werewolves (contemporary)--so far, nothing to report on those two topics. Which is good news to me.

Now, Rand Rodeo Romance Book 3, oh, boy—do I have stories to tell!

Thank you for stopping by to read my guest post to the Books We Love Blog.
Happy Reading,
Connie Vines

A taste of the Middle Ages, by Vijaya Schartz

People in the Middle Ages seemed much closer to nature than we are today. Surrounded by forests, they bathed in rivers, or communal baths in castles before dining, in order to allow the guests to clean the dust of the roads and meet each other before the banquet. Did I mention that the baths were for both genders at the same time. Of course, that was in France, before the Catholic Church slammed down on public nudity... which later led to the spread of diseases.

This kind of research is fascinating. I had to visit the castles of Forez and speak with the curators of each museum to find out about all these details of early medieval life. Hope you enjoy discovering them in my latest release.
Here is an excerpt of Chatelaine of Forez, set in France in the eleventh Century, from the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy romantic series. The heroine is bathing in a sacred spring. Enjoy!
Only $2.99 in kindle 

Chapter One

March 1028 AD - Forez (now in central France)

Melusine stopped singing and shuddered in the cool water. Someone was coming. Fast approaching hooves trampled the underbrush. She straightened and gripped the well worn sides of the rectangular stone basin. Birds and insects had ceased their chirping. Through the trees, a single horseman on a black stallion galloped up the forested path to the sacred spring where she bathed.

How had he crossed the magic barrier she'd erected down the hill? Could he be an immortal like her?

She glanced at her blue robes, left in the middle of the clearing, at the foot of the tall, standing stone hugging the statue of the Great Goddess. Too far away. No time to step out of the catch basin and retrieve them. With a flurry of the hand, she wove a quick invisibility spell and willed the water around her to still.

Her heart stumbled for a beat or two. This could be the blessed day the Great Goddess had promised her. The day she finally met her former beloved... Sigefroi. Although, in his new incarnation, he wore another name.

The horseman emerged from the curtain of trees, impossibly tall, dark, muscular, in black leather gear, a crossbow across his back. A sword slapped his thigh, and a hunting knife adorned his belt. Half a dozen bloody hares hung from the back of his saddle. Definitely not her beloved Sigefroi. What now?

The stranger glanced at her, raised a dark brow and nodded a salute from the saddle. A restrained smile touched his lips. How could he possibly see her through the invisibility spell? But he'd already crossed her privacy barrier. Fae blood definitely coursed through his veins.

Melusine shrunk into her chilly bath, dreading to face him naked.

It could be worse. It could be the first Wednesday of the month, when the curse made her a serpent from the waist down. In this increasingly Christian land, discovery in ondine form could cost her to burn at the stake.

Since the local Christians avoided Pagan shrines, however, the stranger must be of the old faith.

She took a deep breath and made her voice as formidable and intimidating as she could. "Who dares violate the sacred spring of the Great One?"

"Count Artaud of Forez." The deep baritone rang loud and clear.

Melusine's heartbeat faltered. Not an immortal, but worse. "Artaud of Forez?"

"I own this land, and methinks you are the one trespassing." He dismounted with surprising agility for his size, sliding off the saddle like an acrobat.

Melusine scrutinized the young man. According to the Goddess, Artaud had inherited the soul of her late Sigefroi, but how could it be, when they looked like opposites. Where Sigefroi had been wiry and fair, with gold reddish hair and a clear gaze, Artaud had broad shoulders, straight black hair, a hale face, and a dark, brooding gaze, as deep as a lake on a moonless night. Both looked fearsome, but in different ways.

Count Artaud led his prancing stallion closer to the large rectangular basin where she bathed.

Dear Goddess! Heat crept up Melusine's cheeks. She gathered her legs and encircled her knees with her arms for modesty. "How dare you!"

"My horse is thirsty." His voice held a subtle challenge.

The black stallion snorted as its master freed him. The beast drank noisily from the far end of the long basin.

Count Artaud cast her a sidelong glance, his swarthy, square face unreadable. "The Great One would want to quench an animal's thirst."

"Only a Pagan would know the Great One respects all creatures as equal." Melusine kept her voice even, but anger gripped her insides. How could this Artaud hold the soul of her beloved? He was a cold, dark stranger, not her fiery knight of old.

His brow shot up. "I fear you have me at a disadvantage, my lady. I have never seen you at court or on my estates. Who might you be?"

Although she'd known they would soon meet, Melusine had no ready answer. An ondine? A cursed immortal? The woman you are destined to marry? The love of your past life? The enchantress who might bring your doom? She couldn't find words he might accept, even less understand. While she remembered their lifetime together, he did not.

No sympathy softened the neutral face as his dark stare pierced her. He removed his black leather gloves and sat on a jutting stone next to the well worn edge of the old basin. "Devil got your tongue?"

Visions of hellish creatures flashed upon Melusine's mind at his mention of the devil. Christians believed in the devil... and Christians wanted her dead.

"Melusine..." She cleared her choking voice. "My name is Melusine."

She fancied her first name innocuous enough. Better than Melusine the Fae, immortal, cursed by the Great One, excommunicated First Lady of Luxembourg, the love and the bane of your past existence.

"Lady Melusine..." He rolled the words on his tongue. His dark, liquid eyes softened and unfocused slightly. "An unusual name for an unusual woman."

"‘Tis an ancient name, my lord." Tempted to prod his mind and find out what he thought of her, she stopped herself. If he could see through her spells, and Fae blood coursed through his veins, like Sigefroi, he would be impervious to her magic... but not to her charms.

Changing tactic, she smiled and relaxed against the hollowed stone basin, exposing her submersed nudity through the clear water. "I hear you have done well, Lord Artaud. Your lands of Lyon and Forez thrive, and your people consider you a fair and wise ruler."

He cast her a sidelong glance, then shifted his gaze to the statue of the Great One dominating the clearing. The quenched black stallion walked away a few paces and grazed the luscious grass of the hillock.

Awe widened his eyes as he faced her again. "What else have you heard about me?"

Although Melusine had kept her promise not to spy on Artaud, she knew a few things about him. "The river gold makes you richer than any king. So does the trade on the pilgrimage road to St Jacques of Compostella. Travelers speak highly of your hospitality."

Bird trills and the chirping of insects had resumed, and the sweet scent of wild flowers filled the air with vibrant life.

"What you hear is true." He faced her but kept his gaze at eye level. "I'm also a Pagan count ruling over Christian barons. That alone can get you killed these days."

"Then we have much in common, my lord." Melusine smiled seductively. "Only a devout Pagan would visit the sacred spring and the shrine of the Great One. Why else would you come here?"

He barely cracked a thin smile. "To water my horse."

His jest bothered her. So did his cool response to her charms. Hard as she tried, Melusine could not see in this man any remnant of her past love.

Had she waited these few decades for naught? Had the Great One tricked her? No. The Great One never lied. Still, even though Melusine did not intend to share this stranger's fate, she should warn him of the dangers threatening his rule.

She trailed her fingers on the water surface, blurring it. "This hill is not just a sacred shrine from time immemorial, Lord Artaud."

His dark gaze alighted upon her with a new spark of interest. "State your meaning."

"‘Tis the site of your future castle of Montarcher."

Suspicion narrowed his eyes. "How do you know of my future designs?"

Melusine's heart skipped a beat. "The Great One sees and knows all, my lord. You must build your castle in haste to face the coming dangers."

A muscle in his square jaw jumped. "What dangers?"

"Your enemies are gathering." Melusine didn't know the future, only that Artaud would need help. "Many envy your riches, my lord. Others resent your faith. But from here, you can fend them off."

"Why here?" His tone held curiosity.

Melusine straightened and gazed in the distance. She was destined to protect him, but she felt naught for this stranger. "This is a sacred site, my lord. From here, the statue of the Great One will bless and protect all your lands."

His brow rose and his eyes softened but still stared at her. "Truly?"

Melusine shrank under his scrutiny, wishing she wore clothes. "Truly, my lord."

"Thank you for the warning, my lady." He rose and whistled. His stallion trotted up to him. In one light vault, Artaud landed in the saddle.

Melusine's heart jumped. Had she done right, or had she spoiled everything? In any case, she must speak with the Great One. There must be a mistake. She could never love this dark, brooding man. He was not her long lost love.


Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tricia McGill’s Other Passion

I have two major awards sitting on a shelf in my home. One is the Romance Writers of Australia’s Romantic Book of The Year which I won in 2003 for Traces of Dreams; now republished at Books We Love as Remnants of Dreams. The other award is The Family & Community Support Award I received in 2008. It was given in recognition of my “valuable contribution” to my local community.

My husband died suddenly just months before our 40th year together. He was my staunchest supporter of my writing but sadly didn’t live to see my first book published. Only those who have lost a dear partner or husband will know the feeling of absolute wretched loneliness that engulfs you once the initial grieving period eases. It was then I looked for some interest outside my circle of friends and family and came upon the wonderful organisation I have volunteered with now for over 14 years.

So it is that my spare time away from my writing is taken up with my community work. We provide computer equipment and subsidised wireless internet connection at a very reasonable fee to disabled or housebound people on low-incomes. We help a wide range of people from all ages who have a variety of disabilities and illnesses. No matter what, they are an amazing and inspirational lot.

Just as an example we have one lady who is 92. Her husband was disabled by a massive stroke, but could type using one finger. Bert was a writer and over the years had penned many short stories and a few poems by hand. He would then painstakingly type them up using his one usable finger and his wife would edit them (after a fashion). That’s where I came in. I edited these amazing stories which told the story of his life mainly. In due course I collated his stories along with others from the people in our program and edited then published them. We eventually ended up with three books of their stories, comments and poems. Unfortunately Bert passed away some years ago but his wife still uses her computer and emails me regularly. 

             Find Tricia McGill’s books at Books We Love here:              

Remnants of Dreams is available here on Kindle: 
Remnants of Dreams moves from the horrors of the 1914-1918 war to the 1990s, and paints an unforgettable picture of a changing world and of working class people in North London whose only riches are love and the knowledge that they did their best.

Alicia's indomitable spirit sustains her and her large family through two wars, illness, death and loss. From her mother's example Sara finds the courage to escape an intolerable situation and forge a new life in a new country. 

Mystic Mountains (Settlers book 1) available here on Kindle:

In the early 1800s the penal colony of Botany Bay was an unforgiving and harsh place. Isabella O'Shea is transported to New South Wales for wounding a member of the British aristocracy who raped her, so it is understandable that she loathes members of the upper class and the system that punished her; sentenced her to seven years transportation. 
Tiger Carstairs is rich, ambitious and English-so is it any wonder she is determined to hate her new master. Tiger dreams of making a new life beyond the aptly named Blue Mountains, so called because of the perpetual haze of blue surrounding them. 
Mystic Mountains is a story of courage and persistence-traits that were essential for the settlers who carved out a new life in a raw land where suffering and heartbreak were commonplace. 
Isabella and Tiger face tragedy and many hardships in their quest for a new life in this untamed land.

Distant Mountains (Settlers book 2) coming soon at Books We Love.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's a Dirty Job...

By Jenna Byrnes

Research can be so tedious. Long hours spent on the computer, checking and double checking facts.

But I digress... which I do easily, when I'm researching online. It doesn't take much at all for me to wind up looking at pictures when I'm supposed to be checking facts. Not just those pictures. Lighthouses, inns, prisons, small towns, names -- I love looking through lists of names!

I think back to the olden days when a person had to go to the public library to look something up. I used to digress there, too, wandering up and down the aisles looking for titles that piqued my interest. I stumbled upon Go Ask Alice at the library, and I must have read it a dozen times or more. What that has to do with this post, I have no idea. My mind associates it with the library, I guess. I continue to digress, and yes, I like that word.

Before we had the library, most of my research was done in the set of encyclopedias my parents bought--or should I say, started to buy. The version in my house ended when JFK was president, so I had to guess about anything that happened after 1962-ish. The books were better than nothing, and I remember thinking my family was lucky to even have them.

The internet has made 'research' more accessible to the masses. Of course, you have to know what to believe (If it's on Wiki, it must be true?) And you have to know where to look. Occasionally when I get a little too technical with my keywords, I open up a whole 'nother world of stuff I might never have known existed. Sometimes, I use that back button on the browser and scoot right out of there. But sometimes, like a train wreck, I just have to look. Before I know it, my writing time is over, and not a lot has been accomplished.

Bottom line, research is not my favorite pastime. I do what I have to do, but try not to get mired down in the muck.


Catch my spicy "Hot Under the Collar" m/m boxed set of erotic romance on sale now for only $1.99. Seven complete novellas and one short story, no cliffhangers!

~ Jenna Byrnes, Page Scorching Erotic Romance


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Diane Scott Lewis, the flummoxed author-on early women's rights!

On Women’s Rights, gasp, prior to the 20th century:

Back in my naïve days as a fledgling author, I joined critique groups to better polish my historical novels. My story, which took place in 1815, had a young woman who tried to stand up for herself in a typical male-dominated environment. I researched, and was surprised how many women advocated for "women’s rights" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

But the man in my group objected, saying women never asked for rights until the twentieth century. What did he think we were doing all those centuries when most of us had minds of our own?

I found many people shared this narrow view.

When I came across an actual treatise on a female who sought her due in the seventeenth century, a woman now forgotten by time, I had to blog about her.

Mary Astell, a school teacher from Newcastle upon Tyne, England, published Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest, in 1694.

She was born in in 1666 to an upper middle-class family. Her father was a royalist Anglican who managed a coal company. As a woman, she received no formal education, as the culture of the time felt girls didn’t require any learning outside of the domestic realm. Fortunately for Mary, starting at the age of eight, she received an informal education from her uncle. Her uncle, an ex-clergyman, was affiliated with the Cambridge based philosophical school which based its teachings around radical philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Pythagoras. Heady stuff for what was called, the feeble brains of women.

Mary’s father died when she was twelve, leaving her without a dowry. Her family’s limited finances were invested in her brother’s higher education and Mary and her mother were forced to move in with her aunt. After the death of her mother and aunt, Mary moved to Chelsea, London in 1688 where she was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of a circle of influential and literary women. These women helped Mary with the development and publication of her treatise.
Mary Astell was one of the first Englishwomen to advocate that women were as rational as men, and just as deserving of education. Her Serious Proposal presented a plan for an all-female college where women could pursue a life of the mind. In 1700, Mary published another work: Some Reflections upon Marriage. She warned, in witty prose, of the dangers to females "...of an ill Education and unequal Marriage." She urged women to make better matrimonial choices because a disparity in intelligence and character may lead to misery. Marriage should be based on lasting friendship rather than short-lived attraction.

She was known to debate freely with both men and women, and particularly for her groundbreaking methods of negotiating the position of women in society by engaging in philosophical debate rather than basing her arguments in historical evidence as had previously been attempted. One of her famous quotes stated: "If all Men are born Free, why are all Women born Slaves?"

Mary withdrew from public life in 1709 and founded a charity school for girls in Chelsea. She died in 1731, a few months after a mastectomy to remove a cancerous breast.
So when reviewers—or readers—criticize a novel for promoting a heroine who acts "before her time" remember that women have been seeking liberation for centuries.

Resources: "Astell, Mary." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2011.

My current release, Ring of Stone, called a "true historical epic" depicts strong women in the eighteenth century, one who strives to become a physician before women were allowed, and uncovers shocking secrets in a small Cornish village.

Visit my website for information on my novels:


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Fine Art of Procrastination



Victoria Chatham

I’ve been thinking about this article for nearly a month. The words, like the tide, have flowed into and out of my brain while I have been gardening, driving, doing laundry or
walking in the park. At no juncture have they actually made it as far as the page until now.
Oh, before I write anymore, just let me go and get a cup of coffee. And the mailman has just arrived. What could he have brought for me today? Caffeine fix and my curiosity satisfied, now it’s time to sit down at my computer but before I start writing I’ll just check my e-mails. A quick glance at the clock tells me I have time for one round of solitaire, spider solitaire that is. Recognize the pattern? Yup, it’s that painless, non-invasive but infuriating malady with which many writers are afflicted.
Why do we procrastinate? There is a plethora of suppositions as to why we do it. Fear of failure, fear of success, poor time management skills, being an adrenalin junkie and sheer hedonism are the most recognizable of them.
At one end of the scale procrastination can be no more than a nuisance but at the other end, and depending on the weight we give it, it can be so frustrating it results in depression. As with many habits, procrastination may well have its roots in childhood. The more authoritarian the household, the more possibility there is that at least one of the offspring of that household will rebel from the strict rules with which they grew up. Once free of parental restrictions, and never having been taught how to make structured choices, procrastination then becomes a habit as that person constantly puts off doing things simply because they can. Personal procrastination is one thing but a habitual procrastinator, particularly in the workplace, can become highly unpopular if their habit constantly shifts responsibilities on to others.
Procrastinators are frequently perfectionists and perfectionists can be highly self-critical. Their fear of failure holds them back because, if they can’t write to the best of, if not beyond, their ability, then they won’t write at all. Or, their first line, sentence, paragraph, page, chapter has to be perfect so they will diligently write and re-write usually to the point that they never finish what they began.  They may consider that they do not or cannot write as well as someone else.  Sadly, it might never cross their mind that the authors they so admire may have started out from the same point as themselves but instead of saying ‘I can’t’, they said, ‘I can’, and so took the first step on their particular writing pathway.
Fear of success can be as debilitating as the fear of failure for some writers. They know success in the form of getting their first book published will take them out of their comfort zone, and do they really want that? As much as they might yearn for professional recognition and the thrill of holding their own book in their hands, they know their time will then not be their own. There will be revisions and copy edits and galley proofs. There will be deadlines to meet and editors to answer to as well as making time for parents, husbands, children, pets, jobs and friends. The prospect of juggling all that, and possibly jeopardizing relationships in the process, can be too daunting for some so, again, fear gets the better of their ambition and halts it in its tracks.
The question must also be asked, ‘how fast can you really write?’ Time management skills become crucial for a writer, especially if the writing has to be sandwiched between the daytime job and family life as previously mentioned. How long does it actually take you to walk your dog? Do you allow enough time for the weekly trip to the grocery store? How long does it take you to read and revise your work? Some writers have mastered the skill of being able to write in a small block of time, even twenty minutes or less.
One writer I know uses her twice-daily commute to write, scribbling diligently to the rock and roll motion of the train. During her lunchtime she transcribes her notes at her office and then e-mails them to herself to add to her manuscript at home in the evening. She devotes her week to her job and her writing and then relaxes and socializes at the weekend. A procrastinator, on the other hand, may well take the view that they can write nothing worthwhile in twenty minutes. If they can’t sit down at the keyboard for four (or more) hours straight, then they may consider it is just not worth the effort so they do nothing.
We all know the adrenalin junkie. That’s the person who lives life on the edge. The person who barely makes the bus stop on time in the morning, who scrapes into the office a whisker past their start time and with some tale or other as to why they are late, the person who hands in their project at the last possible moment or, for reasons best known to themselves, begs another hour or two because ‘a light bulb just went on’ and they have just had their best idea yet and they know the boss is going to love it.  Then there is your typical ‘pantser’, someone who just sits down at the computer and lets rip with a furious burst of writing because they just have to finish this chapter or get that article out and with precious little time now in which to do it.
Hedonism is my particular brand of procrastination and it’s taken me a long time to admit it. A glass of wine and a lively discussion with a friend or group of friends beats the loneliness of the long distance writer. A clear blue sky and balmy breeze beckons irresistibly. I love the great out doors whatever the time of year. I get my best ideas when I am walking or working in a yard with my fingers deep in the soil. I find research fascinating, digging up some obscure fact that may or may not be useful at some time or another. Shutting myself off to actually sit down at my computer and write is almost torture but there is enough of the writer in me to keep me at it.
Is there hope of overcoming procrastination? As with any problem, recognizing it is the first step in dealing with it. Procrastination is a habit and one habit can be replaced with another although, as Dr. Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D, associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago says, ‘Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up’. Buying a planner might work for some and clearly not others but there are many tricks and tips to re-program oneself and develop new work habits.
Can’t work in a messy environment? Clear just enough space on your desk or tabletop and work there. Ignore the fact that the living room needs vacuuming, there’s a pile of ironing in the basket or the bathroom needs cleaning. If you must clean or iron, do it after you have completed your writing project. Consider you haven’t done enough research? Work with what you have got. If you do research for the sake of it, however interesting it may be, you will end up with far more information than you need. Believe me – on this subject I know well of which I write. Don’t have enough time? Decide for how long you will write and on which day. Set a timer if necessary. Make the decision and stick to it. Holding yourself back because you’re not sure how to set up a scene or make the most of dialogue? Get a good craft book or ask your peers. Be kind to yourself as you progress. Reward yourself for each successful step you take, whether it’s a walk in the park, a glass of wine, decadent chocolate or a candlelit soak in the tub.
And for this procrastinator? Right now my reward for completing this article is a glass of red wine.

Victoria Chatham's latest release is On Borrowed Time, Book Two in the Buxton Chronicles Series. Find this title here:

and find Victoria here:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Then and Now by Jude Pittman

December 31, 2008, a date I’ll never forget.  My mom, Lillian, my husband John and myself, spent our usual quiet evening watching the ball drop in Times Square – where it’s 2 hours earlier than it is here in Calgary, Alberta. Then off to bed.  I took a quick shower and when I ran the sponge along my left side, I felt something strange on the side of my breast.  

Mom had breast cancer when she was in her early 50’s, so I’d always been aware of the risks, but at 65 I wasn’t really thinking about it too much – or I hadn’t been until I felt that lump.  It was the size of a golf ball, and when John felt the same sized lump, we both knew life was about to change.  Boy did it ever.  By the end of February I was recovering from the surgery that removed my left breast, and in May I started a rigorous round of very aggressive chemo-therapy.

 (Chemo is not glamorous)

Biopsy results had revealed that my cancer was what they call “triple negative” a virulent, fast growing cancer that was very difficult to treat. In fact, if chemo didn’t work there weren’t likely to be any other options.  The good news was that we’d caught it so fast there was no lymph node involvement – a fact that probably saved my life.

I’ve now passed the five year survivor mark, and I’m four years out from having a breast reconstruction – using my own body fat.  I’m one of those who rejects almost anything put onto or into my body that isn’t self-propagated, so an artificial implant was not even to be considered.  We’ll just skip right over that pain and all the nasty little side roads, like stitches that wouldn’t heal and reopening wounds.  The really important thing was I survived and I felt great.  Oh, and I still kept working at my full‑time job as a legal assistant right through it all.  Thanks to the awesome lawyers that I worked for and a husband who took care of anything and everything I needed in order to keep me well.

Fast forward to 2014. Not only am I feeling great, but last month in company with three other awesome women, I’m a proud representative of the Province of Alberta as team provincial ten pin bowling champions.  Considering that five years ago I didn’t expect to ever lift a bowling ball again, this is an amazing experience for me.  I haven’t checked, but at 70 I’m probably one of the oldest 10 pin provincial champions they’ve had, but didn’t want to inquire and draw too much attention to that fact.  I don’t know what the rules are, but wouldn’t want Bowl Canada to decide I was “too old” for the team.

2014 Alberta men’s and women’s provincial ten pin champions.Jude on the far right.

So, as this blog is posted (thanks Jamie) I will be in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan bowling against the other nine provinces for the Canadian National ten pin bowling championship.  Wish me luck, and I’ll be sending Jamie an update.  As long as I play well and don’t let my team down I’ll be smiling like a Cheshire cat just to think what I’ve been able to do in these extra years the Creator saw fit to grant.

Publisher and author

Jude Pittman is part of the publishing team behind the very popular Canadian publisher, Books We Love Ltd.  

Publisher Jude and Marketing Manager Jamie longed to see authors treated like the professionals they were, and after years of acting as promotion agents for a large number of well-known authors, they decided it was time to take Books We Love to the next level.

Both Jude and Jamie are romantic suspense and mystery authors, and they believe in treating authors the way they like to be treated.

Jude's mystery series, Deadly Secrets, Deadly Betrayal and Deadly Consequences (featuring P.I. Kelly McWinter) as well as a special edition, Jude Pittman Triple Threat, have all been published by Books We Love and are currently available at Amazon in electronic or print formats. Jude’s latest work, a novella entitled, Bad Medicine is also available at Amazon. 

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