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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Do You Suffer From Writer's Guilt?


When I decided to become an author, I also made a conscious decision to quit feeling guilty for not having an immaculate house, not keeping up with the latest television shows, not dressing in the height of fashion, limiting my attendance at social events, and not driving the flashiest car.

However, I did not abandon my family, they have always come first. Eventually, my near and dear came to accept my decision. I will admit it took longer for some of them to understand, but others were with me from the very beginning.

Getting rid of guilt is important for creativity because guilt kills imagination.

I found an excellent blog post on the topic of writer's guilt. If you suffer from this malady go to:

http://www.writingandwellness.com/2015/07/21/10-ways-to-kick-writers-guilt-to-the-curb/

Read it, and then get back to writing. :-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Little Snow


We haven't had much snow in New Jersey. There was one storm in November that caused massive havoc because the road departments were not prepared for it. Other than that, there have been a few minor dustings of snow. Today we received a small amount--about two inches in our area. It's been a mild winter--so far. However, winter is not over so we could get more snow dumped on us. Or we could have a nor'easter. I was twelve with the  Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 hit and I remember it well. We watched the water rise in the lake behind our house as the bay flowed into it. That caused chunks of marsh grass to tear away and float along, pushed by the wind and water. In hindsight, that storm was not as bad as Superstorm Sandy, but at the time it was the worst thing I had seen--but, of course, I was only twelve. 

At any rate, with the snow for inspiration I decided to write another Christmas story. I'm more than one third finished, but the deadline is May if I intend to hand it in. So I've got to knuckle down and write. However, life is forever getting in the way. Our refrigerator died yesterday after eleven years of faithful service. I went to grab a popsicle out of the freezer and the popsicle was no longer frozen--neither were the vegetables or the hotdogs. 

Hubby and I ran off to buy a new refrigerator. Nothing fancy, just basically what we have. Hopefully, it will be delivered tomorrow. Meanwhile, our food is outside in a box with a heavy paving stone on top so nobody except maybe Sasquatch can get into it. Despite the snow, it isn't below freezing tonight. In fact, it should warm up tomorrow, which is why I hope the refrigerator arrives on time--before the temperature outside goes above forty. 

Otherwise, I guess we'll have to buy some ice and pack the food into a cooler.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Guest Post: Rocks, Robes, and Pillow Cases

Today I am honored to have as my guest Pamela S. Thibodeaux. She has a touching Valentine Day's romance story for us all. 
Rocks, Robes, and Pillow Cases
As a romance writer, I’m always thinking of ways to make my heroine or hero swoon. Sweet words and sentimental gestures seem to come easily and naturally in novels. But what about in real life? Is there such a thing as genuine romance, a dedicated soul mate, or a true romantic partner?
Yes, there is!
My husband was a very sentimental man with a kind, romantic soul you’d never expect of a law enforcement officer. We always did little things to keep the passion alive in our marriage. Notes in the lunch box or on the coffee pot, glass of wine and hot bath after work, dancing in the kitchen or on the porch – or better yet, alone on the houseboat. Unexpected gifts, tiny stuffed animals saturated with his favorite cologne or my perfume to carry in our vehicle, teasing remarks, and sensual innuendos were the norm around our house. I still have many of the cards and notes he gave and a several pages in a photo album are filled with the Love Is cartoons he cut out of the newspaper on a regular basis. But the one event that stands out in my heart is the day he gave me a rock.
No, not a diamond – a rock!
One warm, balmy evening early in our courtship we parked under an overpass and took a walk along the railroad tracks. Holding hands and sharing dreams. Taking me by the hand, my lover encouraged me to sit beside him on the ground. 
“My love is like this rock,” he said, picking up a stone and placing it in my hand. “It’s strong and solid, it’ll never change, it’ll last forever, and there’s not another one like it in the world.”
That’s a moment I’ll never forget. I mean, seriously – what man or woman thinks like that? I know I’d never thought of love like that before and I’m a romance novelist! 
But think about it…like snowflakes, no two rocks are alike. However, linked together snowflakes and rocks, like hearts, can create something strong and solid and secure.
Only One other has expressed His love in such enduring terms: strong, solid, unchanging, everlasting. He is known by many names, one being the Rock of Ages.
My husband passed away in August, 2009. I had no idea how to go on when all I wanted was to curl up with him in my arms, to see his smiling face and hear his beloved voice. To feel his heart beat against mine.
But I couldn’t.
All I had was an empty bed, a vacant pillow, memories of amazing love, and two rocks sitting on a shelf.
In the process of making funeral arrangements and discussing what to do next, I decided I wanted to have his picture put on the case covering his king-sized pillow. My son-in-law wondered if the desire was normal. My son worried that this would bring me anything but comfort and make things worse not better.
I had no way to assuage their fears or assure them I’d be fine. All I knew was I needed to hold onto his presence in the bed where we lived and laughed and loved for so many years and clinging to those rocks or his robe just wasn’t cutting it. 

A friend bought me a package of iron on transfers and I set to work immediately. Anticipation beat a tattoo in my heart as I placed the sheet in the printer and set up the photo per the specifications. The concerns of my loved ones kept cadence with the iron as I transferred the picture onto the cloth. The first attempt wasn’t all that great. Placed too high on the pillowcase, the edges didn’t seal well and after only a few washes the image deteriorated. The second time around, I paid a little more attention to the details and was rewarded with a beautiful, glossy depiction. 
Everyone has their own way of dealing with grief and things they cling to … a cherished photo, a sprinkle of cologne or perfume on his or her favorite shirt, dancing alone to your special song. I did all those things. I slept wrapped in his robe, robbed his dresser of pajama pants and T-shirts and his closet for long sleeves and coats – after all, the closest thing to being in his arms is having his flannel shirt or hunting jacket warm me when I’m chilled.
At nearly ten years, sometimes I feel as though I’m still muddling through the transition from wife to widow to individual. I’ve done away with his things including the pillow and case which I gifted to our granddaughter. The robe went to our grandson who will never know his Paw Paw except by the stories we tell. I buried our wedding bands at his gravesite, but the rocks we exchanged will never be given away. They have a special place in the shadow-box created to house important mementos of his (and our) life and serve as a constant reminder that true love does exist and real romance beats what you’ll find in novels any day.




* * * * * * *

Look closely at the cover….
Recently I visited Animal Kingdom @ Walt Disney World in FL with my family and one of the most breathtaking sights is the Tree of Life / garden. Within the trunk of this huge tree are carvings of every kind of animal. You can view it from any angle and take a dozen different pictures and each time, see something more and/or different.
What does this have to do with a book cover? You ask.
Read on…..
I’ve always admired the covers Pelican Book Group creates for their titles and when I first received the cover for Love in Season, I thought – how sweet, but a closer look revealed a whole lot more than a couple on a bench in front of a lovely tree. 
If you took a passing glance, look again….
What do you see?
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are all depicted within the leaves and branches of this tree!
It takes an amazing eye for detail to pick something like this for a book cover.  Thanks to Nicola Martinez for creating such a beautiful work of art for for my collection of romantic short stories centered around the four seasons and four love-oriented holidays!
*see photos of the Tree of Life/Garden Here: https://www.wdwinfo.com/Photos/AK-treeoflife/pages/DSC00093.htm

Fun Fact: For quite some time I wanted to put together a collection of short stories that centered around the 4 seasons and 4 holidays that focus on love and family (Valentine's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Since I already had several stories at PBG, I mentioned this idea to my editor, the amazing Nicola Martinez, and she loved it. I submitted two previously unpublished stories to round out the collection, along with those Pelican Book Group had already published, and viola! Love in Season was born.
Blurb: Anytime is the perfect time for love. 
In this anthology, author Pamela S Thibodeaux brings together eight of her most beloved romance stories—one for each season plus four holidays that revolve around love and family. 
Includes two brand new stories!
TinyURL (kindle): http://bit.ly/LoveinSeason

TWEET: Anytime is the perfect time for love. Author @psthib brings together 8 #romance stories — 1 for each season + 4 holidays that revolve around love and family. Includes two brand new stories! #christfic #mustread http://bit.ly/LoveinSeason

Story Blurbs:
(Winter) Winter Madness: Sienna has survived what most succomb to - the death of a spouse and child and has maintained her faith despite her troubles. William has never met anyone who actually lived out what they say they believe. Is it true love between the faithful optimist and broody pessimist or simply winter madness?

(Valentine’s Day) Choices: Best-selling novelist and songwriter, Camie Rogers has penned numerous accounts of the secret love she holds in her heart. Country-Music Superstar Kip Allen has changed from the shy, humble boy, to the epitome of “star.” Can the two rediscover each other after one night of his Home is where the Heart is Tour?

(Spring) Cathy’s Angel: Single mom Cathy Johnson is tired of running her life alone…what she needs is a well-trained angel to help out. Jared Savoy gave up the dream of having a family when he discovered he is sterile. Can a confirmed bachelor and the mother of four find love amid normal daily chaos?

(Easter) Lilies for Sandi *NEW!* Sandi and Brett did everything backwards. They got pregnant before the wedding and had a baby instead of a honeymoon. Since, Brett has resented the fact that his dreams of a football career have been cut short and wonders how long it’ll take God to forgive him for his mistakes. Sandi has played second fiddle to Brett’s dreams and desires to the point of not knowing herself any longer and fears her marriage will never be a true one because of their failures. Can two hearts broken by unfulfilled dreams find healing, wholeness and restoration? 
(Summer) The Big Catch *NEW!*Karla and, the love of her life, Jeff, have uncovered some uncommon ground: The Great Outdoors. For the life of her, she does not understand his love of fishing and how he can spend so much time doing so. Will she come to love the sport as much as he or will his passion for a rod and reel tangle up their relationship?
(Fall) A Hero for Jessica: Anthony Paul Seville is known as the ‘most eligible bachelor’ in New Orleans, possibly even the entire state of Louisiana, but finds himself alone—completely and explicitly alone. Jessica Aucoin is a writer on her way to fame and fortune, but is haunted by a man from her past. Will the “champion” lawyer and the author of romantic suspense find love written in their future?  
(Thanksgiving) Review of Love (Newly Edited/Revised/Lengthened!): Jason Stockwell has been commissioned to interview Kylie Erickson and to review her books. Only problem is, she won’t give the time of day much less an interview to someone whose type of writing she deems not worthy of respect. Can they suspend their judgmental attitudes and find true love?
(Christmas) In His Sight: Grade school teacher Carson Alexander has a gift—a gift that has driven a wedge between him and his family. Worse, it’s put him at odds with God. Feeling alone and misunderstood, Carson views God’s gift of prophecy as the worst kind of curse…that is until he meets Lorelei Conner, landscape artist extraordinaire, and perhaps the one person who may need Carson and his gift more than anyone ever has.  
Lorelei Connor is a mother on the run. Her abusive ex-husband has followed her all over the country trying to steal their daughter. Distrusting of men and needing to keep on the move, she’s surprised by her desire to remain close to Carson Alexander. Through her fear and hesitation, she must learn to rely on God to guide her—not an easy task when He’s prompting her to trust a man.
 Can their relationship withstand the tragedy lurking on the horizon?

Author Bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!”™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Links:
Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com   
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1jUVcdU

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Guest Post: Kimberly M. Miller and Her Latest Release FORGIVING TESS

Way back in October 2017, I read Picking Daisy, a debut novel by Kimberly M. Miller. I loved it and wrote a review, which you can read on Goodreads. It was a charming tale, full of heart and compassion. 
As it turns out, Kimberly M. Miller has written another romance and I am honored to have her as a guest on my blog today. She is a writing and film professor by day, author by night. She enjoys watching movies, making jewelry, and creating fun stories for her readers. Currently, Kimberly has two published novels, Picking Daisy and Forgiving Tess, but she looks forward to bringing more romance your way soon!
She's offered us all a treat today--an excerpt from Forgiving Tess. The book already has many wonderful reviews. So sit back, relax, and enjoy.


Excerpt from Forgiving Tess


The doors squeaked open and Tess Carson stepped outside where a wave of heat hit hard, making her want to dive back into the air-conditioned safety of the bus. She wondered whether her skin was melting as sweat trickled down her arm and dripped onto the pavement with a sizzle.
Tess was annoyed at everything and yet trying desperately not to be. The trouble was that her life, the humidity, the stiff-backed bus seats, and especially Uncle Stu—who’d dragged her along on this mission trip—seemed bent on reminding her of all that continued to war against her. It was the first time she’d been away from Maple Ridge in nearly two years. She wasn’t sure she was ready. Not that she was given a choice. Uncle Stu made sure she was coming along, otherwise, he promised he wouldn’t bail her out again.
And she believed him.
“Come on, let’s get settled.” Uncle Stu walked by, his backpack shouldered on one side of his body. He wasn’t a tall man, but his presence made up for it. He was kind, firm, and lately the only person remaining who was willing to give his niece another chance.
Tess drew a deep breath, certain her hair was rapidly turning to thick and unruly frizz in the humidity. As if she cared what anyone thought of her appearance anymore.
“I still don’t get why you hate me,” Tess muttered as she tugged her backpack higher on her shoulder. While she didn’t care that she’d left a majority of her minimal wardrobe at home, it did bother her that this pit stop after graduation from nursing school meant she was forced to wait even longer to begin applying for work that would take her away from trouble and into the rest of her life.
It was a move she needed desperately.
“That’s not how you change, mouthy,” Uncle Stu said, using his nickname for her—one, he insisted, she deserved.
Humph. Tess never cared much for Uncle Stu’s wisdom, no matter how right he always was.
“I can change without frying to death.”
Stu glanced at the group of people from his church who volunteered to go from Pennsylvania to the small town near Cocoa Beach to help build a youth center for their sister church there. Tess slowly followed him toward the bunkhouse.
“You aren’t going to fry to death,” he muttered. “And I’d stop complaining. Nearly everyone else took time from work-some of them vacation time that they could be spending laying on a beach instead of working near one.”
Tess searched her uncle’s deep brown eyes and nodded. Everyone else danced around the subject instead of getting to it, but not Stu. He told Tess the truth and refused to hold back even when it was hard.
Maybe that was why she trusted him.
“You’re right. I’m working on it. Scouts honor.”
Stu nodded and reached out to give her a big hug. “Love you, kid. Come on.” He started walking toward the large building in front of them. They’d arrived at a church complex that was a neighbor to the church in Cocoa Beach where they were going to be helping rebuild a youth center that was badly damaged by a tropical storm. A neighboring church offered to allow the use of its activities building to feed the workers, who would sleep in bunkhouses around back. Since it was only a short walk to where they’d be working, it was a great set up.
Tess followed her uncle until she realized she’d left a bag in the cargo hold of the bus. “I’ll catch up,” she said. “I forgot the extra Bibles.”
Stu nodded and kept going as Tess turned and ran back to the bus where several members of the team were divvying up their luggage. She hung back, waiting for a chance to grab her bag. She wasn’t likely to make friends with many of the people on the trip, which was better anyway. Tess had burned a lot of bridges in the last few years, and making amends was difficult. Besides, if she didn’t make friends, there would be no problem keeping them.
“Need a hand?” a deep voice asked behind her. Tess turned and found herself facing a broad chest. She raised her eyes and was stunned to find the familiar blue eyes of her childhood friend Joshua Thorne, a man she hadn’t seen in over twelve years.
What was he doing here?
Tess was certain her heart stopped beating and her knees went weak. She drew a breath in an effort to find strength.
Inwardly she groaned. Those sweet dimples were even sweeter now.
Josh lived next door to Tess and her family for seven years of their childhood, and he’d been best friends with Tess’s brother, Brody. The boys played on softball and basketball teams together—and of course a little football too, while Tess, who was five years younger, trailed after them trying to keep up. But the friendship was so much more. They’d hung out together. And if there’s anything to be said about kids, the real learning and bonding takes place in those moments when you’re doing nothing. That’s when you’re doing everything.
In a flash, Tess remembered that his birthday was August tenth, he loved her grandmother’s blueberry muffins, and he hated when Tess taunted him about his terrible pitching record from his sophomore year. All in all, not bad for not having dreamt of him in so long.
And he’d once entered her dreams every single night.
Tess’s mouth opened but she was unable to form any words. Instead she stared up at him stupidly, thinking that he’d gotten even more handsome since he left—when he was eighteen and heading to college and she was mourning the loss of the boy she was certain would one day be her husband. He’d been a cocky boy, followed by a gaggle of giggling girls who were certain he was in love with them all. It made Tess so jealous that she’d gotten into more trouble than she wanted to remember ruining his dates as only smitten teenaged girl could.
Tess worked to say something, cursing herself that the words still refused to emerge. Surely Uncle Stu knewabout this. Why hadn’t he warned her?
“Um, hi…” she said weakly.
“I’m guessing Stu didn’t tell you this is my church?” Josh asked with a smile. Tess shook her head. Why did it appear as if he’d walked straight off a movie set? She swallowed hard, now wishing her hair didn’t looklike she’d taken a bath with her toaster.
“He… didn’t mention it,” she said softly. Josh nodded as Tess turned to grab her bag, glad for the distraction. Her childish love for him was the stuff embarrassment was made of— complete with foolish homemade gifts and ridiculous gestures. Surely he remembered it all as well as she did. Her stomach tied itself in knots as image after image of her pranks played in her mind. It was pointless to hope he’d forgotten.
Reluctantly, Tess turned back to find he was still smiling. “You lookgreat,” he said, eyes twinkling.
So, he was a liar. At least he wasn’t completely perfect. There was some solace in that.
Tess shook her head. Had he grown after he left for college? Staring up at him was giving her a painful neck cramp. 
“Your dimples lookgreat too,” she said, cursing herself when Josh laughed. She blew a stray piece of hair from her eyes and continued, hoping he would quickly be distracted by something. Maybe a flash hurricane would make something fall on her. “What…? I mean, you go to church here?”
“Kind of. I’m the youth pastor.”
Tess’s stomach sank. Another score for him, another strike for her. “Youth pastor? Wow. Congratulations, that’s… impressive,” she said awkwardly. “Um… yeah. So, I better go. I’m sure I’ll catch you later.”

Find it at Prism Book Group, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book distributors.