10 Lessons I Have Learned From Life

I’m happy to welcome author Erin Pemberton. Today, Erin shares ten life lessons and her new release, The Prophecy.

1. Life is hard, don’t make it harder by making stupid decisions. As a teenager, I thought I knew best and I thought I could get away with playing around with no real consequences. I was wrong. Being a teenager is hard, going to college right after high school is not easy either. Being a single parent while finishing high school and then going on to college is even harder. You have your whole life ahead of you, make wise choices.

2. It’s okay to say no. I am one of those types of people who like to help out others despite what I have on my plate. Through many stressed out days and lots of hard lessons, I learned that it’s okay to say no when you already have a lot going on. In fact, when you do, your work will reflect it in the fact that you’re able to give more attention to the things you’re already taking on. They’ll be of better quality and you’ll be happier with the results.

3. Marriage takes two. Through two failed marriages, I realized in my third one, that it really does take two. You have to be willing to put your spouse’s needs ahead of yourself and make them a priority. By both of you doing this, everyone’s needs are met. Even when you have kids, your spouse needs to come first. Because when the kids are all gone, you’ll still have each other. Better to enjoy life with your spouse than to resent life with them.

4. It’s okay to let your kids fail. This is something that I struggle with daily. It’s unnatural for us to let our kids fail. However, how will they learn to live life if you’re constantly taking over for them? Last fall, my son was failing three out of five classes in high school. After trying to put him on a homework schedule, emailing teachers daily, and more screaming matches with my son than I care to admit, I finally looked at him and said, “I have two jobs, a husband, and five kids. I cannot and will not fight with you on this anymore. If you fail these classes, you’ll have to take them again. If you pass, that’s one more step toward your goal of going to Shawnee State. I’ll help when you need it or ask, but otherwise, I’m tapping out. Fail or pass, it’s on you.” By the skin of his teeth, he passed and he’s done so much better this year with keeping up to date on all his assignments. It was a tough lesson for us both.

5. It’s okay to ask for help or to let others lead for a change. As a preschool supervisor, I struggle with feeling like I need to accomplish everything our program needs in order to make it a great program. However, I’m finding that by creating teams and letting others take on leadership roles, it works out so much better for everyone. Not only do we end up with so many more ideas than I could ever dream up, but by sharing the role, I find my stress level goes down considerable and my team members value me more.

6. Take time for you. Whether it’s sitting down and reading a good book, doing yoga, or taking a mini vacation with my spouse, finding me time is critical being able to do as much as I do on any given day. I can recharge, I give myself permission to think of something other than work, and I’m ready to hit it again when I do come back.

7. Hobbies are for you. Something I struggle with as an author is asking other people to read my books. It’s not because I don’t want others to read them, I just don’t like asking what they thought of the book. I find that when I start valuing other’s opinions of my work more than I value my own opinion, my hobby or writing changes. I have a tendency to focus more on what other’s think and how I can make the world happy versus just writing because it’s something that I enjoy doing. When you find a hobby, don’t let anyone tell you how to do it. Make it yours.

8. Don’t let anyone stop you. If there is something that you want to accomplish in life, by all means, get it done! We can come up with a world of excuses, but the truth of the matter is, you’re the only person holding you back. Stop it and get it done!

9. Light will always defeat dark. As I mention in several of my books because they usually have a dark/ light battle going on, the light will always defeat the dark even if you have to search the darkness to find it. Hang on because around every dark corner, there is always light waiting for you.

10. Life without God, is not much of a life. God is the light in my world, my marriages, my parenting, and my work has all failed when I turned from him. By keeping him the center of my life, not only am I happier but I find myself blessed even when things are tough.

Blurb

In a land plagued by war, King Dorvin and Queen Shiara are expecting their first child. They are excited until the good fairies tell of a prophecy; that their daughter is the key to winning the war against the Shadow tribes. To protect her, mages of the kingdom create a tower to keep her and her guardian hidden until her eighteenth birthday. When Ella turns 18 she leaves the tower, only to find that her parents are dead and the Shadow tribes now control the kingdom. Trained as a warrior, and aided by the good fairies, Ella must now bring her subjects together and prepare for the final war.

Excerpt

“If you don’t tell me your name, you’ll find out the hard way,” Ella responded calmly even though butterflies were carrying out their own battle in her stomach. The magic was showing her just how far she could throw him with its use. She was beginning to think of it as a whole separate entity within her mind.

Just as she pulled her arm back in preparation of launching him through the night sky, he shouted “Erek! I’m called Erek.”

Ella, bemused, smiled serenely at him as she placed him none too gently back on the ground. “That wasn’t so hard, now was it?”

Erek mumbled something under his breath but made no attempt to say anything else.

“What are we going to do with him?” Ella asked, turning to look at Tia.

Tia, ignoring Ella’s question, took a step closer to Erek, grabbed the rope that bound him, and pulled him toward her. “What do you mean we’re trespassing on your land? This land belongs to Dorvin, king of Fablina,” she hissed, apparently taking care to spit in his face as she talked.

The ugly smirk appeared on his otherwise handsome face, a mirthless laugh consuming him. “My tribe killed and replaced your king seventeen years ago. This land belongs to the Shadow tribes, and you are as good as dead.”

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

Author Bio and Links

I’m just a small town girl, living in Ohio and making up worlds for my characters to live in. A preschool teacher by day, I live with my amazing husband while dreaming of walking hand in hand with him on the beach just searching for seashells. Together, we have five incredible kids, who are starting to make their way in this world as they take on college, high school, and elementary school. I love Christmas, the beach, seashells, painting, reading anything fantasy related, and in my very little spare time, creating new worlds for others to enjoy.

Website | Goodreads

Giveaway

Erin Pemberton will be awarding a $25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Enter here.

Follow Erin on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


10 Interesting Facts About Jennifer Wilck

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Jennifer Wilck. Today, Jennifer shares ten interesting facts about herself and her latest release, Waiting for a Miracle.

Here’s Jennifer!

1. I’m an only child. I loved all of the opportunities I was given growing up, due to the fact my parents only had me—horseback riding lessons, ballet, any college I wanted (within reason)—but I always wanted a sibling. I thought The Brady Bunch was the perfect family. It wasn’t until I had two daughters that I realized there’s no such thing as a perfect family, and it’s the imperfection that makes each family unique. I love how my girls get along, and I also love how they disagree and are each their own person. As a writer, I often include a child in my stories, but my heroes and heroines will definitely have children of their own—either naturally or through adoption. In Waiting for a Miracle, my heroine is unable to have children of her own, but wants to foster them. The hero is a single dad and is happy to support her dream.

2. My stories usually start out with a snippet of a conversation that I hear in my head. Sometimes those snippets are in the hero’s POV and other times they are in the heroine’s POV. It’s my job to figure it out and then build a story around that conversation. In my book, Addicted to Love, I “heard” the black moment first. Start at the end and work backwards? No problem!

3. In my other life, I wrote for technology magazines. As an English major, I tried to turn the techie mumbo-jumbo into something regular people could understand. However, in the real world, I’m not technology proficient. My husband used to laugh because I could explain why something worked, but couldn’t actually do it! I have several friends who work for major technology companies, so when I needed my characters to have particular jobs, I was able to interview them.

4. Most of the children in my stories are based in some way on my own girls (please don’t tell them that). And some of the character quirks are theirs. For example, Claire, the six-year-old girl in A Heart of Little Faith, loved the game Trouble. My oldest daughter and I used to play that game for hours!

5. My favorite characters to write are the meddlesome but loveable mothers or grandmothers. In Addicted to Love, my heroine, Hannah, lives with her grandmother, and she is one of my most favorite characters of all time (soon to be displaced by the grandmother in my current WIP, though).

6. I love writing both Jewish and non-Jewish contemporary romance. I think it’s important to represent all types of people in romance, and as a Jewish author, I can bring a unique perspective to my writing. There are always cultural elements that I include in my Jewish romances, and the stories revolve around more than just Hanukkah. Some of my biggest fans of my Jewish romance are a group of Catholic ladies who absolutely love the Jewish elements.

7. One of the best aspects of being a writer is that it has forced introverted me to be more extroverted. I have to toot my own horn a lot more than makes me comfortable, but I’m getting better at it. I’ve made contacts at local book stores and libraries, and despite my shyness, I love talking to readers about books—either mine or others I’ve read.

8. I love trying new foods. I was encouraged as a young child to eat a variety of adult food, rather than typical kiddie fare, and I think that has made me more adventurous as an adult. As long as it’s not alive, isn’t an organ, and isn’t any form of insect, I’m willing to give it a try. I include lots of food in my books, as well. There’s a great food scene—chocolate—in Five Minutes to Love, that was so tempting while I was writing it that even now, thinking about it makes me hungry.

9. In general, I prefer it to be quiet when I write. Music does inspire me, but if I write while listening to it, I’ll get distracted. The need for silence also means I stagger the times when I write based on who is going to be in my house when. Although, now that my girls are in college, my house is much quieter ad I’m able to write when the inspiration hits, as opposed to when they are out of the house.

10. My favorite trope to read and to write is Beauty and the Beast. I love damaged heroes and strong heroines (not necessarily beautiful ones), and I love adding a psychological component to my conflicts. I hope a reader gets a wide range of emotional responses when they read my writing, just as I want to get the same benefit when I read other authors.

Blurb

Benjamin Cohen, widowed father of six-year-old Jessie, is doing his best to hold it together through order and routine. The last thing he needs is his matchmaker mother to set him up with her next door neighbor, no matter how attractive she is.

Rachel Schaecter’s dream of becoming a foster mother is right within her grasp, until her meddlesome neighbor tries to set her up with her handsome son. What’s worse? He’s the father of her favorite kindergarten student! She can’t afford to let anything come between her and her dream, no matter how gorgeous he may be.

Can these two determined people trust in the miracle of Hanukkah to let love and light into their lives?

Excerpt

Six-year-old bodies were good at many things— bouncing, hugging, and racing. Rachel was thankful they were also good at hiding her surprise. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine her favorite student, and her student’s father, would be at her neighbor’s house the same night she was invited to celebrate Hanukkah.

She met the hard gaze of Jessie’s father across the room. Eyes narrowed as if he suspected her reasons for being here. His broad shoulders were stiff. His jean-clad muscular legs were spread apart in a solid stance. Square hands fisted at his sides, and one of them held a menorah. Did he plan to throw it or club someone with it?

Giving Jessie a last pat, she rose. With an arm around Jessie, she extended her other hand to her father. “Happy Hanukkah.”

“Ms. Schaecter.”


“Mr. Cohen.”


“Oh, please,” Harriet said, “Such formality between you two. Rachel, this is my son Benny. I mean Benjamin.”

Benny. Rachel filed the information away for later, along with his flushed skin at the nickname. Interesting.

“And Benjamin, this is my neighbor, Rachel. We’re not at a school event. You can call each other by your first names.” Harriet pointed at Jessie, who gripped Rachel’s hand so hard, Rachel’s fingers lost their circulation. “Except for you,” Harriet added. “You have to call her Ms. Schaecter.”

Jessie giggled. “Yes, Grandma.”

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Bio

Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.

She writes contemporary romance, many of which feature Jewish characters in non-religious settings (#ownvoices). She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Where to find Jennifer

Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram | BookBub


How to Interact with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

I’m happy to welcome ASL Interpreter and author Kelly Brakenhoff. Today, Kelly shares valuable tips and advice about interaction with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Here’s Kelly!

As an American Sign Language Interpreter with more than twenty years of experience, I’ve worked in college classrooms for fifteen different majors. I actually attend classes with the deaf students and overhear both the most inspiring and the most inane professors you could imagine. The academic world is the setting for my Cassandra Sato Mystery Series because it’s such a ripe environment for murder and mayhem. Today, I’d like to share tips and advice for anyone interacting with people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and for writers who want to write about a character with a hearing difference.

1. USE the words “Deaf or Hard of Hearing” when referring to a person who was born deaf or hard of hearing or who lost their hearing later in life. Avoid using the words “Hearing Impaired” because calling someone impaired isn’t a positive description and can be offensive. My Deaf friends sometimes say, “I’m not hearing impaired. You are sign impaired.”

2. In your job, or when interacting on social media, consider whether your content is accessible to people with hearing differences. Caption your YouTube videos, please. Auto-captions are horribly inaccurate. Captions are very easy to add manually before you upload your videos and YouTube provides step by step directions on their help pages. An alternative is to provide a written transcript.

3. Not all deaf people can lipread. They do not have special visual superpowers because they can’t hear. Lipreading is hard and even the most skilled people catch an average of 30% of the conversation. Try turning off your TV volume and watching the news. How much do you understand what the announcer is saying without the volume?

4. People who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing are interested in more than just their ears. People who are born deaf don’t know anything different. They aren’t necessarily upset that they don’t hear music, birds, etc. They can drive. They have families. They can be doctors, lawyers, etc. Many of my friends say, “I can do anything except hear.”

5. Regarding technology: People who use hearing aids and cochlear implants are not cured. They use technology to maximize the benefit of what hearing they have left. Once the device’s batteries die or they remove the technology to go swimming, shower, or to sleep, they are still deaf or hard of hearing.

6. If you’ve met one deaf or hard of hearing person, you’ve met one deaf or hard of hearing person. Each person is an individual with different skills, needs, and communication styles. Most Deaf/Blind people can either see some or hear some. Helen Keller was very unique in that she didn’t see or hear at all. If you don’t know how they like to communicate, ask. Don’t be shy or afraid to approach them. Even fingerspelling your name and knowing how to sign “please” and “thank you” is appreciated.

7. Where can you learn American Sign Language and how hard is it to learn? Check out your local community college, or school continuing education program. Some churches with a large number of deaf members have classes or clubs and would welcome you. Learning ASL is just like learning any second or third language like Spanish or French. With practice you can learn everyday phrases for conversation, although it takes years of study to become fluent.

8. How can writers understand what it feels like to have a disability if they don’t personally experience that disability? For example, I’m short and left-handed. Neither of those are disabilities but thinking about it helps me write accurate characters. Could I imagine how it would feel to be turned down for a job because I’m short? Would I feel angry and frustrated because there’s nothing I can do about my height? As a left-handed person, do I understand what if feels like when the whole world is set up for other people and not for me? Yes, I do. Do people tease me or was I bullied as a child for being small? Yes. Use those feelings when you write characters who aren’t like you. Your feelings are real and universal, even if you experience them to a smaller degree. Amplify them for your story.

9. Should you use a sensitivity reader on your writing project? In my second book, I was worried that I’d gone too far by choosing controversial topics. I wrote strong dialogue for my Deaf characters, but I didn’t want them to come off like jerks. When I showed those sections to my Deaf friends, they overwhelmingly said, “Yes! This is exactly how we feel.” A friend gave me more stories to illustrate the point. One of those stories ended up in the book. I’m very grateful for their viewpoint and advice.

10. What’s the big thing I wish people understood about deafness? As a group, deaf and hard of hearing people are tired of always being the ones to bend to the majority of people who can hear. They feel like hearing people rarely bend to accommodate them. An example of how you can be more accommodating to people with differences is found in my children’s picture book, Never Mind. Duke the Deaf Dog doesn’t like it when people tell him “never mind” when he asks them to repeat something he missed. Maybe we could all be more patient instead of brushing aside people who have a hard time keeping up with the conversation.

Kelly’s Books

Buy Links

Death by Dissertation | Dead Week

Bio

KELLY BRAKENHOFF is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends. Her first novel, DEATH BY DISSERTATION, kicked off the Cassandra Sato Mystery Series, followed by DEAD WEEK. She also wrote NEVER MIND, first in a children’s picture book series featuring Duke the Deaf Dog. She serves on the Board of Editors for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf publication, VIEWs. The mother of four young adults and two dogs, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.

Website | Facebook Page | Goodreads | BookBub


10 Facts About Frost Fairs Upon the River Thames

I’m happy to welcome back Caroline Warfield and the Bluestocking Belles. Today, Caroline share ten interesting facts about frost fairs and their new release, Fire & Frost.

1. The Little Ice Age produced a climate fluctuation that caused colder than normal temperatures worldwide from the mid 14th to the mid 19th centuries. It wasn’t a true “ice age” as in the age in which glaciers covered much of the world, but England endured a series of severe winters.

2. In addition to climate changes, differences in the river Thames at London compared to know made it more likely to freeze. The piers of Old London Bridge, for one thing, caused ice to jam up effectively producing a dam. Between 1600 and 1814 it was not uncommon for the river to freeze solid for up to two months at a time.

3. There are reports of activity on the ice dating from the 14th century. We know that in 1563 Elizabeth I ordered an archery field set up on the river.

4. The first fully documented frost fair occurred in the winter of 1608 when the Thames froze for six weeks.

5. Between 1608 and 1814 seven major fairs took place, but it is believed numerous more minor events occurred.

6. The winter of 1683-1684 was particularly severe. Lakes, rivers, and even the sea around the southern coast of England brought commerce to a complete halt.

7. Charles II visited the frost fair of 1684 and enjoyed an ox roasted on the ice.

8. The last and by most accounts largest, occurred in 1814. Temperatures dropped below freezing every night between December 27 and February 7. By the end of January creating a solid surface from Blackfriars Bridge to London Bridge.

9. Between January 25 and February 1 crowds began to gather and stalls and business sprang up on the ice. Tradesmen of all kinds hawked their wares. Fires were set up to keep warm, cook, and even roast full sized sheep. Rum, gambling, drinking tents were reported. Carriages drove up and down the ice. Dances took place. Games such as skittles and bowls were held. Paintings show swings, sled rides and skating. Not least, an elephant was walked the length of the place.

10. Folks prized one souvenir in particular, a printed ticket to prove they had been there. As in previous fairs, printing presses were set up on the ice to satisfy demand, and all sorts of ephemera was printed. The great fair ended February 5, 1814. It was the last one.

About Fire & Frost

In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice in pursuit of love to warm their hearts.

Love unexpected, rekindled, or brand new—even one that’s a whack on the side of the head—heats up the frigid winter. After weeks of fog and cold, all five stories converge on the ice at the 1814 Frost Fair when the ladies’ campaign to help the wounded and unemployed veterans of the Napoleonic wars culminates in a charity auction that shocks the high sticklers of the ton.

In their 2020 collection, join the Bluestocking Belles and their heroes and heroines as The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans pursues justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with five interconnected Regency romances.

Buy Links

Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Amazon (US)

You can find more about the authors and the individual stories here.

Bio

Award-winning author of family centered romance set in the Regency and Victorian eras, Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Her story, Lord Ethan’s Courage, appears in Fire & Frost.

Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter | BookBub | Email



10 Ways to Build Writer Resilience

I’m happy to welcome mystery author and executive coach Melissa H. Blaine to the Power of 10 series. Today, Melissa shares valuable insights and advice about building writer resilience.

Here’s Melissa!

What’s the bravest writing action you took today?

Creative work is filled with failure and setbacks. Rejections. Bad reviews. Publishers closing. Declining sales. Unsupportive family and friends. The list could go on. Every time we fill up a page with words or put paint to a canvas or pull images into a design we are taking a risk. Because creative work like writing is subjective, nothing that we create will be loved by everyone. Likewise, our writing or other creative work always includes some of ourselves in it. We’re not just laying our work on the line; we’re laying bare a piece of ourselves for the world to see and judge too.

Building resilience is important for writers as we navigate the challenges. Being able to bounce back from adversity is a skill that we can develop and nurture—one that will keep us writing when things look bleak or we don’t believe in ourselves. We may not feel brave or resilient or tough, but finding the paths ahead make us all of those things every day.

Looking to nurture your resilient spirit? Here are ten ways to find resilience in those challenging moments.

1. Acknowledge the Emotions

Emotions happen. As humans, we’re going to feel disappointment, anger, doubt, shame, and hurt when setbacks happen. Identifying and acknowledging what we’re feeling can not only be a healthy response but also help us move forward. By accepting the emotions, we give ourselves that chance to learn how to manage it in healthy ways and the acceptance can take away some of the destructive powers that negative emotions can have. Did a writing group member take a snipe at you that made you angry or upset? Acknowledge how you feel and why you feel it. Our emotions can be complicated creatures so getting to the bottom of things might reveal truths that help us move forward.

2. Find the Comeback Stories

Whenever we face a setback or a challenging event like a rejection, it can be easy to feel alone or to compare ourselves to other successful writers. The truth is that all of us struggle at some point. Look for the comeback stories in the people you admire or see around you. Maybe they have their own string of agent rejections or have had their publisher close the doors. Finding the stories of others who have gone through what you’re experiencing can not only make you feel less alone but also reassure you that the rejection, setback, or bad review doesn’t have to be the end of your story either.

3. Take the Big Picture

Setbacks, rejection, and bad reviews can feel like the end of the world. In the moment, it can feel like we won’t recover or that there’s no way forward. Taking the big picture can help you focus beyond the moment. Maybe your dream agent didn’t love your book, but there are many other agents out there who might love it. A missed deadline can be defeating in the moment, but might not even be noteworthy in five years. Try to see above the fray. Will this matter in two months or two years? Does it really close off the paths forward or do you need to shift a little to find a way through?

4. Use Your Strengths

Everyone of us has character strengths that we draw on every day. These include positive traits like hope, humor, curiosity, perseverance, and bravery. When negativity seems like it’s hanging around us like a dementor waiting to pounce, consciously using a character strength can help you summon your patronus to banish it away. Learn to recognize your signature strengths and you’ll get better about being about to call them up to help you rebound. Imagine that you’re on a writers’ panel at the biggest conference of the year in front of your favorite author and you fall getting into your chair and then spill a glass of water down the front of your shirt. Disaster? Maybe not. You call up your humor strength, crack a joke, and your favorite author invites you to lunch.

5. Look for the Lesson

Whenever we fall flat, it can be difficult to peer into the dark and look for the truth. We’d rather hide or blame it on someone else. It’s OK to take some time, but don’t forget to look for a lesson in there. Does that hurtful bad review have a grain of truth in there that can help you improve the next book? Is the feedback from your critique group the same week after week? Is that typo that haunts your dreams a symptom of rushing through things or not hiring a copyeditor? Finding the lesson can help you improve and grow, as well as giving you good practice in learning from the adversity.

6. Fall Forward

We all fail. At some point, something isn’t going to work or go our way. Falling forward means that we take what we’ve learned through the failure and fall forward with growth, new insights, and better skills. What we try might not work, but it can move us forward, if we let it. Maybe that story you wrote isn’t garnering rave reviews from your critique group, but you gained experiences and new insights so you’ll fall forward from where you started. If you fall forward, you use those experiences and insights to help you succeed on the next step.

7. Write Your Own Comeback

What if you could write your own success story? Try journaling about your next steps and successes in the future. Writing down what you’re feeling or where you want to go can help give you perspective about what’s happening. Research has also shown that talking to yourself in the third person or as “you” can help people perform in stressful situations better than if they use “I.” Give it a try in your journaling. It can help reduce feelings of shame as well as help us be more objective in our feedback to ourselves.

8. Build Your Community

We can’t always choose who we interact with but finding your community can help you foster resilience. Look for people who you can trust to both give you honest answers as well as who want the best for you with no strings attached. Your inner writing circle can have an effect on your self-talk so it’s good to be choosy and find your people, including the people that you hire and entrust your work to like editors, coaches, and marketers. Lean on your community in those moments when you need support and a boost up. That’s what friends are for, after all.

9. Use the Muse

Those hard moments can drain our creative well. It’s not unusual to find your creativity flagging along with your spirits after you read that not-great review or your book isn’t selling well. Sagging creativity then feeds into the negativity because if you can’t write, you can’t find your way out of the pit. Bolster your muse by doing something new, taking yourself on an artist’s date, or getting in some quiet time. Your muse might not make a sudden, dramatic appearance, but a new idea or story will eventually start itching in your brain. Give yourself the space and use the muse to pull yourself back into writing.

10. Delete the Doubt

Whenever those setbacks happen, imposter syndrome likes to show up right behind them. We doubt our ability to write, to be a writer, to succeed as a writer. Deleting the self-doubt that tries to keep us from moving forward can help us bounce back quicker and easier. If we believe that we are resilient and brave, we’ll act more resilient and brave. If we know how to kick self-doubt to the curb, we can find that healthier, stronger relationship with ourselves and our writing that lets us skip over some of those challenges like a pebble on water.

Online Course

Is doubt holding you back from writing or publishing your book, blog, or dissertation? Writing is hard; doubt makes it harder. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Delete the Doubt is an online course designed to help you learn to use good doubt productively and banish the bad doubt from your writing life. When you embrace the good doubt, you’ll be able to use it—because that’s where creative genius happens—and spot when good doubt starts to turn to self-doubt so that you can stop it in its tracks before it stops you. Through the course, you’ll develop your own roadmap for deleting doubt so that you can draw on the strategies that work best for you. Choose the Delete the Doubt course option that works best for you: course only, two-month course program with weekly group coaching and discussions, and premium three-month course with 1-1 coaching sessions each week.

Get 50% off any course through February 17, 2020.
Visit this website and use the code prelaunchhalfoff.

Bio

Melissa Haveman (aka Melissa H. Blaine) is a mystery author, Michigander, and executive coach. She has almost eighteen years experience as a developmental editor and writer, and she’s also served as the Director of Content for an academic publisher. She’s taken hundreds of writing projects from start to finish, working with experienced and beginner writers alike.

Melissa is the owner of Creatively Centered, an executive coaching business that specializes in making remote work, work. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the SinC-Guppy chapter, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group (GRRWG), as well as the Center for Executive Coaching and the International Coach Federation.

Her sociology degrees have led to many hours researching gravestones, urban legends, and how villains are created in history. When she’s not in front of her computer screen, Melissa is off hiking with her (hell)hound.

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10 Authors on my Keeper Shelf

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Helen Johannes. Today, Helen shares ten of her favorite authors and her latest release, Lord of Druemarwin.

Here’s Helen!

Ten Authors on my Keeper Shelf—in no particular order—and what makes me return again and again to their work…

#1 – Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Breathing Room, First Lady, It Had to Be You, etc. – Complex, fully realized characters whose sometimes wildly inappropriate actions are always properly and expertly motivated and who have a deep and authentic backstory.

#2 – Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid, Gemma James (A Share in Death, Bitter Feast, etc.) series – Careful world-building, engaging characters that have become a family, and seamless interweaving of past and present so that the anatomy of a crime can be traced to the root cause.

#3 – Elizabeth Peters, The Amelia Peabody mysteries – The creation of characters, relationships, and settings sufficient to sustain a thoroughly fascinating series set during the archeological heyday in Egypt.

#4 – Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Heroes of Olympus series, Magnus Chase series, etc. – Can’t-put-it-down pacing, humor, wildly imaginative world-building, great characters whose strengths are also their flaws, and—not to be forgotten—terrific chapter titles.

#5 – Jennifer Crusie, Faking It, Welcome to Temptation, Agnes and the Hitman, etc. – Fascinatingly flawed characters who fail at love at first but keep trying—in often hilarious ways—until they get it right.

#6 – Louise Penny, Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series – Amazing ability to lure the reader into a story with apparently ordinary words that nonetheless resonate and make the reader care and care deeply about these characters.

#7 – Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum series – Humor, pacing, snappy sentences, an unmistakable voice, and something never fails to explode.

#8 – JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings – Incredible world-building, vast scope, great and memorable characters, and a mind-blowing ability to weave all the threads of an enormous plot together over three epic books.

#9 – Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick – Hook openings, flawed but immediately engaging characters who find a way to confront their demons and heal their wounds, effective dialogue, and fast pace.

#10 – Dick Francis – Spare, tight writing, intense action scenes, moral conundrums realistically handled.

Give me great characters and a strong sense of place, throw in some action, humor, and a mystery to solve or crisis to avert, and I’m likely to pick up your book. And because these elements please me as a reader, I try my best to incorporate them into my own writing. Well, except for the chapter titles; I bow to others’ greatness there.

*************LORD OF DRUEMARWIN*************

PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance

Tag line: In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?

Blurb

Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.

Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.

With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.

Excerpt

“Raell, now is not the time—”

Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.

“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”

The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—

“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”

Buy Links

Amazon | Nook

Author Bio

Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.

Other Books: The Prince of Val-Feyridge | Bloodstone

Where to find Helen…

Blog | Author Central | Goodreads | BookBub | Email


10 Things I Have Learned from Being an Athlete

I’m happy to welcome paralympian, speaker, author, and disability advocate Tricia Downing. Today, Tricia shares ten lessons learned from sports and her new release, Chance for Rain.

Aside from looking for love, my character Rainey Abbott, spends her time split between the ski slopes and the race track, chasing her athletic and competitive goals. One of the reasons I wrote Rainey as an athlete is because sports have been such a great part of my life, teaching me about overcoming obstacles and staying in the game even when things get tough. Sport has taught me:

1. The quicker you forgive yourself (and your mistakes), the quicker you get back in the game. How often have you beaten yourself up for making a mistake, not accomplishing a goal or doing something that you later thought to yourself, “Well, that was a dumb thing I said/did?” I think one of the greatest keys to success is to acknowledge a mistake (“yeah, THAT happened”), let it go (this is the hard one, because most of us tend to continually roll mistakes over in our minds), set a new course and refocus on the goal. The faster you can cycle through those steps, the faster you will get back on track.

2. You have to feel like a winner, even before you get to the start line. I have been an athlete nearly my whole life and I can tell you about the races I won or did well, and how the key was going to the start line believing that anything was possible. I can also name the events I went to doubting my preparation, my abilities or fearing my competition. Guess what? Those were the events that ended poorly. We are only as good as we believe ourselves to be.

3. Saying the word TRY is like having one foot on the track and one foot off. How many times have you said, or heard someone say they were going to “try” to do something? Once that word slips from between your lips, it builds in an automatic loophole…one through which you can escape to save face in case you don’t make it. Most of the time when we are worried about failing it’s not even about us. We wouldn’t be as afraid of failing if it weren’t for what we thought other people would think about us. Sports have taught me that whatever you’re going after, you have to own it to get it.

4. Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to help you achieve a goal. Here’s where athletes and writers definitely have something in common. Whether it’s writing down my workouts, my successes or things I need to work on, my journal keeps me focused on what I am doing and working to accomplish. The same goes with writing. You can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment when you go back and see all that you have written and the ability to get words on paper. To everyone who says, “I could never write a book!” I say, you just have to sit down and start.

5. To Ride My Own Race. I think this is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. A fellow racer once said it to me, and I’ll never forget. There are so many things we don’t have control over. We spend time comparing ourselves to other people on social media, trying to be someone else, not thinking we’re good enough. But each one of us is on Earth experiencing our own journey and the most important thing we can do is honor OUR UNIQUE path and let it unfold. You can’t ride someone’s else’s race…only your own.

6. To take control. Resistance is typically due to fear. But if you’ve outlined your stretch goal, reverse engineered it and know where you’re headed, it’s time to take action. Think of a challenge you’re facing or a goal you have. What bold steps would you take if you knew you couldn’t fail?

7. To Be kind to myself. Have you ever listened to the voices in your head that tell you, you aren’t good enough? That you don’t have the talent to be a writer, a musician, a doctor, an engineer? Those words that we say to ourselves are often exactly what we get in the end. As an athlete I haven’t perfected the never-talk-negatively-to-yourself habit, but I am highly aware of it and when those bad thoughts seep in, I work to chase them out as quickly as they surfaced.

8. Consistency is a must. Whenever you want to be good at something or see the fruits of your labor, it takes discipline and regular attention. As an athlete, I know that if I don’t practice regularly my results mimick the effort I have put in. Same thing goes for writing. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

9. Work hard, do a little more every day, stay patient and don’t give up! I think this lesson explains itself!

10. When things get difficult, take off the dark lenses and try looking through some rose colored glasses. How do you do this? Here are a few suggestions: 1) As my Grandmother would say, “always count your blessings,” 2) Let yourself dream. Get out of your head or your body for a little while and think about the possible positive outcomes to your situation. Start by saying, “What if…” 3) Create a power statement that you can say to yourself every time things get tough for you. For example, “I am strong, able and nothing can get me down,” or “I am on an adventure, and will embrace the uncertainty because good things are going to happen.”

Blurb

Elite athlete Rainey Abbott is an intense competitor on the outside, but inside, she feels a daunting apprehension about her chances of finding true love. Her life as a downhill skier and race car driver keeps her on the edge, but her love life is stuck in neutral. A tragedy from her past has left her feeling insecure and unlovable.

Now that she’s in her thirties, Rainey’s best friend Natalie insists she take a leap and try online dating. Rainey connects with brian85 and becomes cautiously hopeful as a natural attraction grows between them. Fearful a face to face meeting could ruin the magic, Rainey enlists Natalie to scheme up an encounter between the two where Brian is unaware he is meeting his online mystery woman. Rainey is left feeling both guilty about the deception and disappointed by something Brian says.

When they finally meet in earnest, Rainey’s insecurities threaten to derail the blossoming romance. As she struggles with self-acceptance, she reveals the risks we all must take to have a chance for love.

Excerpt

“Sometimes going shopping is work,” Natalie announces as we head back to her house after a morning at the mall. “You can’t be creative when you’ve been jammed up in an office for five hours. You have to get out for new ideas to come to you.”

“I love how you can rationalize almost any of life’s indulgences,” I say. Nat turns and winks in response to my playful smirk.

“Life is too short to deny yourself all self-indulgent behavior.” The words hang in the air slightly, as we both know it was an off-handed comment, but our minds go immediately back to the event that reinforces her words.

“Yes, life is short.” I say this in a way that reassures her that her comment was taken in the spirit it was said, rather than meant to dredge up bad memories. Though I can’t help but elaborate on the subject. “Do you realize I’m only six years shy of my mom’s age at the time of the accident?”

“Yep,” Nat answers a bit too quickly. “I do. And I also realize something else. Your mom was thirty-eight, married to the love of her life and had two charming young girls.” I quickly realize I have given her the perfect segue into a lecture that has been constructed, rehearsed, and delivered to me many times in many different iterations over the past ten years. Now, as if she is attempting an intervention while we drive down Colorado Boulevard, Natalie blurts out, “Rainey, it’s about time we found you a man.”

“Why? Are you getting tired of hanging out with me?”

“It’s not that,” she says. “It’s just. That. It’s time,” the words spit out of her mouth. It’s obvious she wants to punctuate her points. “You can’t keep running away from it. You’re an incredible catch—beautiful and charming to be around. Athletic. Everything most girls would die to be.”

I know she is keenly aware of my resistance, but I get the feeling she isn’t going to fall for it today. But I also can’t ignore my feelings or my truth.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Author Bio and Links

Steve and Trish

Paralympian, Speaker, Author, Disability Advocate

On September 17, 2000, Tricia Downing went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for mobility. Her life was changed forever, but Tricia’s competitive spirit and zest for life continued on. Making the transition from able-bodied cyclist to an athlete with a disability, Tricia has completed over 100 races, including marathons and triathlons, since her accident. She was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championship twice. Additionally, she was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tricia’s professional life has been immersed in sports as she earned a master’s degree in Sport Management in 1995 and worked at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was the press officer for the USA Table Tennis team at the 1996 Olympic Games.

She has received many sports accolades, including the USA Triathlon Physically Challenged Athlete of the Year (2003), Sportswomen of Colorado—Inspiration (’03), Triathlon (’05), Hall of Fame (’12) Awards, the 2006 Most Inspirational Athlete from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the 2008 Courage Award from the Tempe Sports Authority.

As a community leader and disability advocate, she was a member of the 2013 class of the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction. She also received the 2019 Inspiration Award from Craig Hospital for outstanding community contribution from a Craig Hospital “graduate.” (Craig is a world-renowned spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation hospital) Tricia has truly excelled despite her life-altering injury.

In addition to her sports pursuits, Tricia has taken an active leadership role in her community as a peer mentor to others experiencing spinal cord injuries, she founded Camp Discovery (and subsequently The Cycle of Hope non-profit) dedicating 10 years to helping female wheelchair users gain confidence and self-esteem through a yearly sports and fitness retreat. Additionally, she serves on the board of USA Shooting, which is the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of shooting.

Tricia published her memoir: Cycle of Hope—A Journey from Paralysis to Possibility in June 2010, with the second edition released in January 2017. In August of 2018, she published her first fiction novel Chance for Rain.

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Giveaway

Tricia Downing will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Tricia on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.