Writer Wednesday – Solo Retreat

In the fall I take an annual writing retreat and I find that it replenishes my soul.  This past weekend I treated myself to a Solo Retreat.  I didn’t travel to an exotic location or rent a rustic cabin, or even leave my house.

DH was gone most of the day on Saturday with a flight student, so I had the house to myself.  I set some goals for myself, to do classwork and write. I was taking two classes simultaneously – The Artist’s Way at Writer Zen Garden and Writing and Resistance: Overcoming Our Blocks to Success by MM Pollard at RWA Online.

My Retreat went like this:

  1. Slept in – I’m retreating so working on my own timetable.
  2. Coffee – I’m a bear without my coffee.
  3. Morning Pages – It’s part of the Artist’s Way
  4. Class Work – Basically Log on and do homework. However long that took.
  5. Lunch – On my lunch break I watched the latest YouTube videos by First Draught and Jenna Moreci.   I find this a great way take a break and learn.
  6. Meditate – I used the 12-minute Focus Meditation on Calm.
  7. Write for 60 minutes – I’ve been using the help of the 90-day novel by Alan Watt to help flesh out my current WIP.
  8. Read for 30 minutes- Along with Artist’s Way for class.  I’m reading The Art of Working by Jeff Goins that I checked out from my Library.
  9. Write for 60 minutes
  10. Read for 30 minutes
  11. Repeated Steps 8 and 9 until DH came home and we had dinner.

I accomplished my goal and was able to enjoy my One Day Solo Retreat.

Can you do this?  Sure you can.  It might be easier for me because I live on a farm and don’t have a day job, but this is doable for anyone.

Some recommendations.   Pick some goals.  Are you burned out?  Maybe you need to build more Meditation and Yoga into your retreat than I did.  How about a luxurious bubble-bath or painting your toes, etc.

I often listen to Pandora on the farm.  I choose stations based on mood.  I recommend outdoor time if weather permits.  I avoided the snowy sub-zero temps…hence some meditation planned into my day.

Regarding Food – If you love to cook, incorporate this into your retreat.  Plan a favorite meal to prepare.  If you live in a large city consider delivery so you can enjoy the experience and maybe treat yourself.  I like to cook, but I wanted to keep the time to myself so I picked up some fancier microwavable meals.  I picked up beverages I like, chocolates, and some snacks I love.

If you have other passions like painting, drawing, knitting, scrapbooking, or other creative pursuits into your retreat…especially if you have more than one day.  This is a chance to fill your creative well.  Who knows, maybe while you are coloring in a color book…that writer’s block will finally release.

I would caution against spending the day binging TV shows or even reading for pleasure. Not because these things are bad, but because they distract you from yourself. If you want to watch that movie you’ve never seen, or read a book, do it in the evening or maybe only for a couple of hours.

Ultimately a Solo retreat is what you make it.

Happy Retreating!

 

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AuThursday – Kathleen Rowland

ONIH Bannerkathy2(1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa.  My dad was the first psychiatrist in town and mother was a nurse.  I’m married to the love of my life who is a CPA.  Our five children have flown the coop.  We have four grandchildren and one on the way.

How do you make time to write? 

Writing is a fun emotional outlet, and I write about four hours a day.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes, and that happens when I have something else must do.  I am chairing a writers’ contest this year.  My chapter, OCCRWA, is depending on me.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

I love the combination of mystery and romance. There’s a time clock. Urgency adds to the impact of the entire book.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

Traditional with Tirgearr Publishing in Ireland. What an amazing publisher, and I feel so lucky with great editors and cover artists.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?

How does this affect your work? I’m an extrovert and people person. I like socializing with family, friends, and other writers.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Just do it.” I had to remind myself to find judges for the Orange Rose Contest before the date of publicizing the contest.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Take classes.  Join a chapter for writers. Maybe join a critique group if inclined.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/786656.Kathleen_Rowland

http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Rowland/e/B007RYMF7S/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1450835163&sr=1-2-ent

https://twitter.com/rowlandkathleen

https://kathleenrowland.wordpress.com/

http://www.kathleenrowland.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/romanticsuspense.kathleenrowland/

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

OneNightinHavanabyKathleenRowland200 (1)One Night in Havana

Through binoculars, Carlos Montoya had been watching Veronica when she’d had a conversation with a security guard from the cruise ship in question. As a part-time Cuban border enforcer, he was aware of all of the different ways dirt-bags smuggled crap into and out of Cuba. He worked this job to stop them.

Something made her nervous. Now onboard, he’d smothered a smile when she watched the action heat up across the water. Time for a bit of fun. She was a fish out of water when it came to drug transport via cruise ships.

He had his eyes where hers were, on tonight’s final loading of drugs across the channel. Some shady characters he’d encountered through the past few years made regular nocturnal visits. Each night, a variety of activities took place with a procession of scantily clad women. Not that he’d get an opportunity to try them out. He was stuck here on his boat until he nabbed the bad dudes. When this stint ended, he’d catch up with his grandmother’s tenant, a woman with an edgy, artsy vibe that suited her business of running a hair salon. If she weren’t available, he’d find a pretty vacationer looking for fun. Too bad Veronica would be heading home in twenty-four hours.

Tonight’s boredom had disappeared when his competitor in the black silk dress had dropped in and inched along to the back of his boat.

Carlos had stood inside and watched from the hatch as she leaned against the side of the cabin so close to the hatch, he could have reached out and touched her with a hand. Sometimes people under the influence stepped onto the wrong boat. There were plenty of drugs if someone knew basic operations. This wasn’t the case. She made her way to the back of his boat with purpose. She sat her adorable ass on an old life jacket for a perfect vantage point.

Veronica was a looker without the jaded appearance of the many women he’d seen wandering from her cruise ship. Most of the time she dressed in business attire, but her curves smoldered underneath. Her high heels fit with Cuban fashion. The moonlight highlighted her shoulder-length blonde hair. While scuba diving, he’d forced himself to look away from her long, bare legs for fear he’d run his hands up them and tuck his fingers beneath her thighs. At the restaurant, he’d enjoyed a little banter, but tonight he’d gotten another glimpse of her toned body as she crept across the deck. The short dress plastered against her and she hitched it up to move around. The light sway of her hips brought him to his knees. He shuffled around the cabin, his dick pressing against his zipper. Cruise vessels were being monitored by Border Protection, and he’d make sure no harm came to her. He glanced across the water and reminded himself to be useful.

It’d been the same since he and his buddy, Alberto, from the military police put two and two together. They’d sat on a rooftop deck of a bar overlooking the harbor, watching local criminals getting on and off her ship, the Ecstasy.

“That operation needs extra eyes,” Alberto had said with a swig of beer.

“What’s going on?”

Alberto had glared at him. “Crims are dealing from the cruise ships. Your boat has—”

“A perfect location?” The next day, with military cameras and other equipment installed, Carlos started his surveillance job. Same drugs, different participants and ways of operation. Stuck on his cabin cruiser with no company was tough on the libido. Before leaving in the early hours of the morning, he connected his recording device to a landline provided by the port authority. At his house, he filed reports, uploaded photographs to support his narrative, showered, and then changed into his usual garb.

Most days he taught students studying abroad in English at the University of Havana. Cuban students interacted with American, South American, and European exchange students. Socializing made them seek a better life. New hopes and dreams threatened to divide their insular Cuban community. Now, during winter break, he attended the Oceanography Conference.

Every session had been a snore until he’d learned Veronica was pitted against him for the same grant. Stiff competition brightened the experience. The daughter of the late Cephalopodiatrist, Ronald Keane, didn’t churn out an article a month for ten plus years without honing in on the power of eight. Octopuses changed shape and color at will, squirted ink, vanished through tiny cracks, and even tasted with their suckers. The predators reminded him of himself, but everything about Veronica put her in the guileless category.

Did she not know he’d invited her to scuba dive with a handful of judges to even out the playing field? He’d won a handful of grants. Networking was about making connections and building mutually beneficial relationships. Instead of joining the crew afterward for drinks, she’d assisted his eighty-year-old abuela off the boat and down The Malecón seawall. That day a cold front blew in, and massive waves crashed against her chances to expand her sphere of influence. Too bad Bela had lit on her like a sticky butterfly. His heart skipped with Veronica in the midst of a beat.

He was aware of the routine when anyone researched and wrote scholarly articles. She had to plan. Make predictions. Envision. Check data, and then double-check. On paper everything was perfect. But in reality, when competing for a grant, something went wrong. She didn’t sell herself. Perhaps he’d frostily point that out, later, somehow, and help her future efforts.

Movement on the deck outside his cabin brought him back to the present. Veronica stood and turned toward the dock, and he followed her silently to the front of the boat.

A guard in a light blue uniform stormed down the dock. Will she jump toward him?

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines-Day-Books-1I thought I’d share a few of my top Ten favorite Romance Novelists. There is a pattern here.  Most of them write historical and are either on my auto-buy list or I re-read them over and over.   They are however in no particular order.

Johanna Lindsey – I have a few Johanna Lindsey books I read over and over. “Defy Not the Heart”, “say you Love Me” and “Love me Forever”  I had to purchase Nook versions because I’d worn out the covers so bad.

Catherine Coulter – I cut my teeth on Ms. Coulter’s Regencies.  I’m not as much of a fan of her FBI series, because hey I like Historicals.  A few of my favorites are “Sherbrooke Bride” and “Midsummer Magic”.

KY BrideHannah Howell – I binged and have purchased the Entire Murray Clan Series, but my truly favorite Hannah Howell book remain’s “Kentucky Bride”.

 

 

 

Cathy MaxwelCathy Maxwell – Cathy Maxwell makes me cry in the very best way.  She has some stories where such sacrifices are made you can feel it.  Hence the crying.  I don’t have a particular favorite and have read them over and over, all I can say is keep them coming Ms. Maxwell, keep them coming.

 

 

indexTessa Dare – The first book I picked up by Tessa Dare was “When a Scot Ties a Knot”. Loved it, and was then forced to play catch up when it was the 3rd book in her “Castles Ever After Series” which lead me back to her “Spinster Cove Series”.  Ms. Dare has the right amount of heat in her stories that make me search out Mr. Holland.  So he’s a fan as well.  🙂

Maddy Barone – Maddy Barone writes a post-apocalyptic werewolf series, “After the Crash” which I  adore.  A few of my Read over and overs are “Wolf Tracker”, “Wolf’s Oath” and “Wolf’s Vengence”.  Thank god I have digital copies of these.

 

Kristen Callihan – I remember I was traveling for work and I was looking for something to read in my hotel room and purchased “Firelight” for 99cents.  Then began my binging of her “Darkest London” series.

 

Bec McMasterBec McMaster – I was waiting for the next Kristen Callihan book to come out when  I noticed on my Nook, people who bought “Firelight” bought “Kiss of Steel”, so I did and then proceeded to binge read her “Steampunk London” series.

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Blake – I love the “People who bought” feature on my Nook.  While waiting for the Baba Yaganext Kristen Callihan book or maybe it was the next Bec McMaster Book, I found Deborah Blake’s “Baba Yaga” series.  And subsequently fell in love with her “Broken Riders”

 

 

 

13273736Beverly Jenkins – I picked up Beverly Jenkins up at the Library on Audio Book and listened to “Indigo” on my daily commute.  Now I read her books as they come out. 🙂  It’s funny but I really dug the historical knowledge she put in her books, and found myself telling people, “Did you know the underground railroad did this and this.” Thank you, Ms. Beverly, for reminding me why I fell in love with the Historical Romance Genre.

Happy Valentine’sDay!  I hope you have a wonderful and teriffic day and curl up with a good romance.   I know I will.

AuThursday – Madison Micheal

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madison michael author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Actually I just rewrote my bio for my website to share more of who I am and where I came from. It sounded so dull before, and I am not a dull person. I am opinionated and not shy about sharing my thoughts. I love to give advice – unsolicited. I adore expensive shoes, bargains on everything else and long baths with a good book. I am addicted to the movies – at the theater. Currently I am acquiring a appreciation for opera and live theater. I love dogs but like to share my digs with cats.

I am originally from Chicago but I have lived on both coasts from Boston to San Francisco, with several stops in between. I spent my career as a technical consultant or manager for a huge software company, but I retired in 2014 and got away from the 9 to 5 life. I miss my coworkers but not the job. To entertain myself upon retiring I started taking classes including one on “How to Write a Romance Novel” and with encouragement from friends, the rest is history.

I am close with my family, reside in suburban Chicago and I love to travel. I am on the board of directors of Mental Health America of the North Shore because they do good work and a member of Romance Writers of America.

How do you make time to write?

I am very fortunate because I am able to write full-time.

What genre are your books?

I write contemporary fiction, usually with some steamy sex. That is my wheel-house so far in my

“Beguiling Bachelor” series. But I did just complete “Our Love is Here to Stay”, which is a time-travel story.

I love reading mysteries, literature, and romance in every genre, so I have sprinkled small pieces of these into my books where I can. My mother was a librarian. She taught me to love reading and respect writers of every kind. Every word I write can be traced back to her teachings in some way or another.

What draws you to this genre?

I grew up on Regency romance, and I am drawn there but haven’t braved the genre yet. Instead, I write more of what I know – current times and current places. I set my books in places that are familiar and I make my characters a bit older than in some romances. Women in their late 20’s and early 30’s and men in their mid-30’s have problems to overcome, responsibilities to juggle and they have sex. That is what I like to write about – their flaws, their journeys, their struggles and the wonderful ways they fall in love.

What are your current projects?

I have just completed the first book in a new series, the Billionaire B&B series. The book, “Desire & Dessert” will be published in a collection this spring, with at least two more volumes to follow. My Beguiling Bachelors will return this summer, and I am always toying with a short story or two.

I am very excited about another new project – a blog for romance writers. Today I blog for my readers, my story every Thursday and an introduction to another author every Tuesday. But begging next month, on Monday’s, I will begin sharing what I have learned about writing and indie-publishing. Am I THE expert as I begin my third year as a writer? Hardly. But I have learned tons about being a new writer that experts have forgotten. Sometimes it is the non-expert that new writers can relate to. I hope to share my wisdom with those people.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

My whole life I was an extravert, but once I became a writer, I became the complete opposite. Anyone or anything that takes me away from my computer is a disruption. That said, once I have made the break, the extravert in me rules again. I love being with my friends and family, networking with other authors and meeting fans. I just need that initial nudge to put down my writing.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

No feedback. No reviews. I send my books out there into the world representing my hard work and heart. They are a labor of love for me – my babies. When I have no idea how they are received, that leaves me wondering ‘do I write something similar? something different?” I don’t write only for me. I write for my readers and their feedback is priceless.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I speak with more aspiring writers than I ever could have imagined and I tell them all the same things – read more and write more. I tell them the different betwee a writer and a want-to-be writer is that a writer finishes something.

When I got ready to write my first novel I read tons of romances, paid attention to the covers, the titles, the back-cover blurbs, even the author bios. I wrote down words and phrases that I loved from my favorite books. This became my library of inspriration. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote, edited and rewrote until I finished my first novel, “Bedazzled.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I hope readers will visit me at www.madisonmicahel.net  where I have a blog and a wonderful giveaway for joining my insider group.

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Writer Wednesday – Put a Fork in my novel, I’m done.

when-im-done-im-done-and-today-is-the-day-i-have-made-that-decision-bc8b7There comes a time when you have to quit editing and declare a project done.  Move on to the next one.  I’ve reached that point with Courtesan.

I’ve done all I can with the novel.

I’ve layered and cut producing a novel of 54,333 words.

Does it mean there aren’t corrections to make?  Of Course not but I need another set of eyes at this point.  I’ve asked for some BETA help, to get that big picture feel, but I can’t continue edits without wrecking voice.

The good news.  This is ready to get looked at by an agent or editor.  In my opinion, any changes that need to be made will be to satisfy the readership, not me.  And that’s okay, I’m used to working with editors to make appropriate changes.    That’s part of meeting reader expectation.

Now its time to move on to Book 2: The Alchemists of Archangel.

Hopefully, The Courtesan of Constantinople doesn’t sit too long on my virtual shelf, trying to find a home.~Tina

 

 

AuThursday – Caroline Walken

How I make time to write

With little time during the week to write, you will find me camped out on my laptop from Friday evening until Sunday.  During the week, I may take the time to edit a chapter or work on flash fiction.

Additionally, I write the bulk of my novels during the winter, I hate the cold!  You won’t find me playing in the snow, I would much rather be cozied up to my characters!

 Writer’s block

I don’t know if we suffer from writer’s block or that like any form of work we become bored.  Creating a full-fledged novel may take you over a year.  It is easy to understand why we run out of things to write!  This is one reason I have started working on flash fiction, entering writing contests and similar exercises like these.  This keeps writing fresh for me, it challenges me and each time I learn more about the craft. 

 When I do have the opportunity to delve into my WIP then I feel refreshed and eager. 

 My Genre

I write fiction/romance and put the emphasis on fiction.  I like female characters that are strong and feisty!  I grew tired of reading about characters that relied on the male counterparts for the solution.  My girls will keep any man on their toes.

I do have a passion for the Roaring Twenties and the Gangster age of the Thirties.  My current WIP and two other books are set in that era.  I enjoy researching real places or crimes and weave them into the story.  It is just such an exciting time and let’s face it, we all enjoy a bad boy! 

Publishing

I am an indie author and currently publish through Amazon.  Similar to others, I queried traditional publishers and agents but at the time, the market struggled since Amazon had just come on strongly.  In the end, it came down to wanting to share my stories so alas, I went alone.

 I believe in time, this will even out and traditional publishing will come to appreciate what we as Indies have learned in our craft.

 Introvert/Extrovert

I am an extrovert, in addition to writing, I show horses and I work as a consultant in a field other than writing. 

 Motivational phrase

“You learn more from you failures than from your successes.”

Advice to aspiring writers

My advice to aspiring writers is to invest in yourself, reserve your time for writing and improving in the art of storytelling. 

 Invest in a good editor; there is a variety available for all price points.  No matter how well you comb your manuscript, it is like your child; you won’t see its faults. 

 If you work more than an hour to format your manuscript or work on a cover, find a resource to help you.  Writing should be your priority; you can quickly find assistance for these basic tasks and do so very affordably.

 Lastly, know that everyone gets a bad review, and yes, it will feel like a knife through the heart.  Take away any useful information there is and grow from it.  After that never read it again! 

 Links

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/author/carolinewalken

Facebook Link

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014819192480

Goodreads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16623832.Caroline_Walken

WordPress–

https://authorcarolinewalken.wordpress.com/

Twitter— 

https://twitter.com/caroline_walken

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Caroline’s book “From Nowhere on the Map”~Tina

AuThursday – Stanalei Fletcher

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Please welcome Stanalei Fletcher to the Clog Blog.

Thanks so much for having me today as part of my Blog Tour sponsored by Reviews by Crystal. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my writing world.

SF author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

-I was born in small town in Idaho and raised in an even smaller town, still in Idaho. It was there, through my school years, I had an inkling that I might have a bit of talent for writing stories. I’d even won a contest in high school for a short story.

How do you make time to write?

-Until recently, I struggled to get the time I wanted to write. I set aside Tuesday and Thursday evenings and as much as Saturday as I can get after my chores. But during NANOWRIMO this year, I committed to get up early every morning and write. It was such a success, that I’m committed make it my new routine.

What genre are your books?

-I’ve wrapped up a romantic suspense series. There are five books in the series and they were a blast to write. I also have time-travel story and plans for a contemporary small town series. All the books are romances.

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What draws you to this genre?

-I love romances. I love the promise a happy ending where 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2, it equals 3. It equals “us”. Where two people create a third, greater than two, entity. What other genre offers that?

What are your current projects?

-I’m currently working on the first book in a two book series for a contemporary, home town romance.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

-I am an introvert. It helps when I need to hole up and spend time alone to create stories. However, it’s a challenge when I need to market and put myself in group to network. I’m learning, but it’s still hard.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

-Great question! I’d have to say my grandchildren. It’s next to impossible to say “no” when there’s something involving my grandchildren. Whether it’s tending or baseball games, it’s challenging to write when the kids want me around.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

-The best advice I can offer aspiring writers is to study craft, study story. If you want to rise with the cream at the top, you need to learn how to write a story that reaches your reader’s heart and mind. Never stop improving. Stories are the stuff life is made of. Make yours worth giving up hours to read.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

-I can be found in a lot of areas on the World Wide Web. If you stop by my website here: http://www.stanaleifletcher.com/index.html, you can find all my other hangouts, including a place to sign up to join my reader’s club.

Thank you so much for having me here and taking time to meet your audience.