Let me brag for a minute…..

I hate doing this….braggin’ on myself. I wanted to write about my daughter and her first marathon but I already did that. So, I decided to brag on the one piece of good professional news I’ve gotten lately.

I came in 3rd place in the long contemporary category in the 2017 Pages from the Heart Contest.

YAY, me!

The last 2 times I entered an unpublished piece in this contest I  finaled as well and both those books went on to be published by Kensington/Lyrical Shine: Cooking with Kandy and A Shot at love ( which was originally titled Gemma’s Greek.)

The book that came in third this year is book 1 in my new Bridal series, so if history runs true to form…….you can finish that thought because I’m afraid if I say it’s gonna get published I’ll jinx it…

Duh! I just jinxed it!

Let’s see what the other authors in this #MFRWauthor blog hop have to brag on….

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, MFRWauthor, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women

A few words here, a few words there….#NaNoWriMo2017

I just realized NaNoWriMo 2017 is half over as of today. Thirty days has September, April, June, and November…. so yeah! Half way.

I know I’ve been plugging along and I’ve been checking on some of my NaNo writing buddies and they all are as well. I’m usually not so far in a novel as I am right now, something  I wanted to stop and think about for a moment.

I write fast. Like I talk, only without the hand gestures. ( heehee), but this year I’m halfway and already at over 40,000 words. You  need a 50,000 minimum to be an official Nano Winner. The NaNO predictor tool says if I keep my current word count up, I’ll finish by this Saturday, Nov. 18. That would be the fastest I’ve ever gotten words on the page for this event.

So what have I done differently this year to write so much faster?

Is it because I was so well prepped with an outline before I started? Nope. I always outline.

Is it because I’m so pumped about this new series that I can’t wait until I sit down to work each day? Kinda, but not the real reason.

So what is it you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya.

 

In the past ( like up until last month, Heehee) I sat at my desk for hours on end writing, thinking, cyber trolling, writing and thinking some more. For hours. Literally. This year I’ve been plagued with some heavy arthritis and other joint issues and injuries which make sitting for long periods painful for me when I finally get up. So I’ve been writing in times sprints of a half hour to 45 minutes every day. I write for, say, a half hour, then get up and do life stuff ( laundry, cook, run errands) then go back to writing again for about 45 minutes, then life stuff ( gym, channel surf, watch Real Housewives episodes – don’t judge me!) and then back to writing again. I’ve been uber productive doing this, evidenced by the word count. I think my brain  wants to write when I sit down because it’s been denied that while I’ve been life-stuffing. The words flow out and onto the laptop at record speeds and amounts.

Who knew productivity could be so high when times are limited? Well, probably a lot of people – like the ones who work full time and have to do NaNo in their sparse free time, but I certainly didn’t. I’ve always written under the edict BUTT IN CHAIR, FINGERS ON THE KEYBOARD, WRITE. (BICFOTKW)

Usually, I have a cramp in my butt at the end of the day from sitting so much. Not this month.

I’m amending my NaNo edict to BICFOTKWFTM : BUTT IN CHAIR, FINGERS ON THE KEYBOARD, WRITE FOR THIRTY MINUTES.

Heehee.

When I’m not writing or doing life stuff, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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Opinions are like a body part—you know which one!

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on author friend websites that start like this: “Just got a 2 star rating on my latest book. The reader really hated it. I’m out on a ledge! Send help!”

Well, maybe not that dramatic, but you get my meaning. The writer is upset because someone read and didn’t like their book and told “the world” through Amazon, or Goodreads, or whatever other venue they spew on. As a writer, I know how much this hurts. I wonder, do the readers know what this does to us?

Do they realize that reviews are the equivalent of  performance job reviews for us? And that just because a book didn’t resonate with them for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean it won’t with some other ( or thousands of!!!) reader(s)?

Do readers understand that places that sell our books like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, publish any and all reviews, not just the good ones? And that marketing plans, promotional updates, even placement decisions can and are made based on those reviews.

I had a person ( I use the term loosely) give me a 1 rating on a book that had nothing but 5 stars, stating I wrote the wrong story. I should have written the story of the subplot people as my main story. I wanted to respond to her review by stating, “No, bitch. I wrote the story I wanted to. If you thought it should be written differently, then you write that story, but don’t be bad mouthing me because you didn’t agree with what I wrote. How would you feel if I went to where you work and told everyone what a lousy worker you are? ” Now, of course, I didn’t do that. But I wanted to. I really did.

The whole review and rating system is cockeyed to me anyway. Most people who review it don’t even really understand the system. Think of it like you’re back in school. An A was 90-100, B 80-90, C 70-80, d 65-70 and anything below that an F. I’ve had reviewers write they loved the book but then gave it a 3. So, you loved it but it was only worth 70 points? And what does that 70 equate to, anyway? You can’t purchase 70 % of a book. Or 70 pages. Or pay 70% of the listed price.

See? The system is screwy.

I review new books for Netgalley. If I can’t rate a book as a 4 or 5, I don’t review it. It’s not because I’m basically a nice person ( because I’m not! Not even close.) It’s more that I know there was something about the book that didn’t resonate with me as a reader, but will, I’m sure, with someone else. I don’t think it’s my job, or place, to write a scathing review ( or a nasty one, or a snarky one). My books aren’t perfect and they don’t sit well with every reader, either. I put myself in the writer’s place when I’m reviewing and I know what a bad review does to my soul. I won’t intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings that way. The flip side is I’ve simply adored many books that other people rated 1,2, or 3’s and then wrote bad reviews of.

I recently replied to an author who was lamenting the poor rating she got on a book from a reviewer and was second-guessing her own writing ability. I wrote, “Opinions are like a**Holes: everybody has one, and reviews are basically opinions.” I meant it. One bad review does not end a career. It hurts the soul, deflates the ego, and causes tears, but ultimately, it’s just another opinion.

The kicker? as writers, we need reviews for marketing, promoting, and to get the word out about our books. Even some of the biggest bestsellers in history had some horrible reviews, though. And they still sold.

So. Reviews. A necessary evil for writers. My advice for bad ones? Develop a thick skin and laugh it off, because, ultimately, you published a book and the chances the reviewer did are practically nil, so you’re already ahead of the pack!

When I’m not reading my reviews, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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I get to do this and call it research! #ILoveMyLife

So yesterday I went to a bridal expo.

Hold the batphone, you say. Aren’t you married? Like, for a thousand years?

Yup, true.

Then why did you go to a bridal expo? you ask.

Research, I say. Research.

Let me ‘esplain.

For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m penning a new romance series about a family in the wedding business. To add some truthfulness into the narrative, I said to myself, “Self? Why not contact a wedding planner?” And then when I was driving to the gym the other day, I happened to hear a commercial about an upcoming bridal expo at one of my favorite places in New Hampshire, Alyson’s Orchard.

As soon as I got home I emailed the manager of Alyson’s.   I introduced myself, told her I wasn’t a bride-to-be (Not even close!) but that I wanted to do some bridal industry research for my new romance series. Luckily, she said, yes, I could come to the expo!

It was so much fun. I met some very lovely wedding planners, got some ideas about what’s involved in putting together a dream wedding nowadays – since I did get married a millennium ago, things have really changed –  and basically had a blast talking all things bridal with the vendors at the expo. One of my favorite people? Wedding officiant Jane E. Rokes. We talked for quite a while on all things officiant-related.

God, I love research!!!!

When I’m not out doing fun stuff, er I mean, gathering research, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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Being thankful means paying it forward…

 

Today I’m on Angela Hayes wonderful THANKFUL AUTHORS blog. CLick on the link to visit me and hear why I think paying it forward is something to be thankful for. ANGELA HAYES

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The day that changed my life

Another week, another interpretation of this blog title. Personal? Professional? Neither? Both?

Okay, throwing that virtual dart on the wall again I’m gonna go with professional.

The day I pick is the day I learned I was going to have my first romance novel published BY A REAL PUBLISHER!!!!

I was at the 2014 RWA conference in San Antonio – my very first RWA conference.

I’d already gotten the email from Rhonda Penders, publisher of The Wild Rose Press, that she wanted to see my entire manuscript after I’d come in first place in a contest she’d judged for unpublished writers. I’d sent it along about a month previously to an editor, who coincidentally, told me she would be attending the conference and thought it might be nice to put a face to my “email voice.” We decided on a date and time to meet.

At the appointed hour I made my way to the registration desk and met with the person whom I’d been corresponding for the past month. She was absolutely lovely. We discussed many things – the conference, the weather in San Antonio – but we skirted around the topic of the book she was reading for me. I thought that was a telling sign: she hated it!

Finally, I had to get to another course so I shook her hand and thanked her for being so kind and gracious in meeting me. Before she let me go she said when I got home I would be receiving an email that might make me happy. In a word, WRP had decided they wanted my book for their list. It took me a second to realize she meant they wanted to publish it. A loooooooooong-ass second. I was so silent, standing there, still holding her hand, I fear she thought I was having a stroke or some kind of medical emergency.

The moment dragged on and I swear I couldn’t form a sentence right then if I’d been jolted by lightning.

Suddenly, a group of women walked by, all laughing, and that noise jarred me out of my paralysis. I smiled – or I think I did – squeezed her hand, and thanked her. Again. Like, five times! She laughed, told me I was welcome and encouraged me to  get  along to my course.

I don’t think I did. If memory serves, I went back to my room and cried. For an hour. I cried so much I had to redo all my makeup before that evening’s event.

I honestly don’t remember much more about that day because all I did was replay what she’d said about publishing my book on a virtual and continual loop in my head.

That was 2014 and I was a naive addition to the publishing community. Three years later and I know a little more about what to expect after signing that contract.

But even today, every time an editor tells me they want my book for their list, I still feel like that naive little publishing-virgin and have my Sally Field moment.

 

It’ll be fun to see what the other writers in this blog hop have decided is their best day. Click on their links to read what they’d written for today.

 

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, love, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Skater's Waltz, WIld Rose Press AUthor

SO YOU WANT TO DO NANO?

Words from the wise about NaNoWriMo success.

Holland Rae, Writer

This post was originally published November 7, 2017.


Tips from a successful NaNo-er on how to keep sane, write well, and make your month count!

First of all, congrats! Your interest in doing National Novel Writing Month shows an excitement for writing and storytelling and a willingness to rise to the challenge of writing a whole book in a month!

NaNo is definitely a challenge, but whether or not you meet your personal word count goal, the experience is a great teacher and the camaraderie and excitement that come along with a month dedicated to writing are inspirational enough to make you want to continue all year long! I’ve completed NaNo four years in high school and three years in college. My senior year I came in at 46,500 and I’m still kicking myself, but that’s okay.

For those of you curious about what National Novel Writing Month is, the…

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#NYCStrong… Marathon day and every day

I had an emotional Sunday and the tears still swell up from time to time, but I want to write today about being a mother. Just as an FYI, I’m going to be waxing rhapsodic about my fabulous daughter, so if you were expecting something about writing or NaNo related,…sorry. Maybe tomorrow.

My lovely daughter ran her first full 26.2 mile marathon on Sunday in NYC. She’s run half marathons but never a full 26-er and one so grueling as the 5 borough trek. The marathon came on the heels of the terror attack that hit lower Manhattan last week and as a mama bear, my gut reaction was to tell her not to run it. I didn’t. I knew it would do no good if I did.

Let me ‘esplain.

My daughter is brave, brilliant, and beautiful. She’s also kind and considerate to all she meets and all she knows. She is civic minded, opinionated but fair, and is able to express her views in an articulate, sensible, opinion-swaying manner. Saying that, the girl has a backbone forged in titanium and is no body’s fool, doormat, or patsy. If I tried to get her not to run it would have been an effort in utter futility.

When she decided to run the NYC marathon as a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood I was several things. Proud was the first and most overwhelming. But I was also a nervous mama. My husband ran the NYC marathon 150 years ago ( heehee! Not quite, but it feels like it sometimes) so I knew how arduous the race course was. Add in that the weather in NYC on Sunday was horrendous – a chilly drizzly mist ALL DAY LONG accompanied by some spells of torrential rain, and I was worried about her health and well being. My nerves got the better of me on several occasions and I had to talk myself off a ledge or wind up in the medical tent myself – and I wasn’t running! My concerns about her health are not just nervous Nelly ones. This is the child who was born with an initial Apgar of 0, then 2 because she’d been laying on her umbilical cord and no one knew. This is the tween who was involved in a horrific car crash with me when she was 11 and had flashbacks for years about it and her injuries. And this is the young woman who lost more than half her blood when she suffered 2 arterial tears from a routine tonsillectomy.

I had my concerns for her health and safety, and baby, they were valid.

When she crossed the finish line and her friends and I all found our way to one another I completely lost it. I’m not the crier in my family – I’m the one who stays strong and focused when all others around me a  bawling. Not this time. I actually think strangers thought I was having a nervous breakdown when they passed us. All of the emotions I’d been holding in for the days leading up to the marathon – worry about another terror attack, concern about would she be able to finish the race, would she have any physical problems  or injuries( 26 miles, folks!), how was she feeling mentally while she did this challenging thing…All of the worry, concern, dread, and yes, terror, leached out in full-blown cry fest.

It was a release. A real release. Was I embarrassed? No. Was I afraid of being made fun of by strangers? Hell, no. What I was was relieved and so stratospherically proud of my little girl ( who, btw does not like being called that!) that I simply couldn’t contain myself. She didn’t mind the tears. It was a release for her too! She finished in the time she’d predicted, upright, and had done it for a cause that is near and dear to her soul. Without any undue or long-lasting injuries.

I’ve made many child-rearing mistakes during my daughter’s life. Said things I could cut my tongue out today for. Put undue and sometimes insurmountable expectations on her for achievement. Mistakes that, when I think about them today, should have forced this lovely creation to the dark side.

And still, with all those mistakes,  she managed to grow toward the light, into the most wonderful person I know, and my daily inspiration in how to live a good, caring, open-minded life.

Sunday, I was reminded why I wanted so badly to be a mom in the years before I was one, why I wished every night to be a good one, and prayed for a child of my heart.

And boy, wasn’t I the lucky one to get my wish…

If you need me, I’ll be here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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#NaNoWriMo 2017…progress?

Well, we’re almost a week into NaNoWriMo 2017. I’m doing well and so are most of my Nano Buddies. For a writer, I’ve always felt this event is a great way to either kick-start the writing process if you’ve been stalled, or a motivator to get you writing. Just committing to the continuous 30 days of writing makes anyone a winner in my book. I’ve had all four of the books I’ve written during NaNo go on to be published. Not too bad, right? My 2016 winner Can’t Stand The Heat will be released from Kensington/Lyrical Shine on April 4, 2018,

and my 2015 win, Passion’s Palette 

is available now for purchase.

So, if you’re participating in NaNo this month, Yay! Keep on writing and plugging away. Remember – it takes just 7 days for something to become a habit. Buy the end of this week you’ll be in the mindset of writing every single day and that will take you onward into the next months.

I can usually be found writing my NaNo stuff and interacting here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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Inspiration is close by….

So, after missing last week because I had nothing to contribute to the topic, I thought long and hard about this week’s prompt. Originally, I had an entirely different posting planned. Then the terrorist attack in NYC happened. I tell you this because of the person I’m going to highlight as my inspiration.

My beautiful daughter lives in Manhattan. Now, she lives nowhere near where the attack took place. But she was four blocks from it at a conference during the time it occurred. Sitting in my little cocoon of an office in New Hampshire, writing away, I knew nothing about the event until she texted. Once she did, I was all over the news wires like white on rice.

The text said If you hear about a shooting on the West Side, just know that *** ( her boyfriend’s name) and I are okay. Can you just imagine the ice water that sluiced through my veins when I read that? As I said, I immediately turned the news on and watched the entire event unfold — as most of America did — in real time. What in the world did we ever do before we had cell phone cameras?

My instinctual reaction was to tell my daughter to come home. Move from her apartment, give up her job, come home where it’s safe and sound and I know you are okay.

That, as I said, was my first reaction. I did no such thing, of course, because we’re talking about my daughter here. She’d already lived through the Boston Marathon bombings when she resided in that town. She’d sheltered in place with one of my nieces who was attending MIT at the same time,  and survived the ordeal a stronger, more determined person.

When I’d asked her to move home then so I could be assured she’d be safe, her response had been, “Then that lets the terrorists win because I’d be running away from my lifestyle and the life I’ve made.  Their goal is to instill terror so we bow down to them. I’m not moving. I’m not giving in. Aren’t you the one who taught me the Tao of NGU NGI?” ( Never Give Up Never Give In).

Well, yes. I was. It’s very humbling having your words tossed back at you, especially when they’re used to prove a point.

So.

This time, when terror struck, I knew better than to state my case for her coming home again. My daughter, who was born in a tiny town in Wisconsin, is a true New Yorker. She’s got the grit, the determination, the steadfastness I so admire in anyone. She will go about her living her life — as all New Yorkers do — more determined, more focused, more kick-ass.

Oh, and just to walk the walk and talk the talk? She’s running the NYC marathon this weekend. No crazed lunatic of a terrorist is going to make her change her life.

I guess it’s pretty obvious now that my lovely daughter is the person who inspires me the most. She inspires me to be strong, determined, steadfast, daring. She’s encouraged me to live outside my little box, explore the beautiful world we live in, and to make each day a testament to freedom and love. By living her life as she does, she’s setting an example to people everywhere, especially her mother.

Now, the other authors in this blog hop all have people who inspire them that they want you to know about, too. Click on the links below and visit them. Leave some love and pass it on. And be an inspiration to someone if you can.

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