Need Creative Energy? Try Some Think Time

Do you have enough time in your busy day just to think?

Authors need that uninterrupted time to let the imagination roam free.

Most of us don't have an hour or two to sit and do nothing but think. Normally, we're doing something else while we try to cook up plots and characters.

Free Time? I Don't Think So

If you work outside the home, chances are your lunch hour is your only "free" time. During that hour, you're probably wolfing down a sandwich while you run errands or maybe try to write a few hundred words or make story notes.

If you're at home, there are always clothes to wash and fold, meals to cook, dishes to wash, etc. The list of things you can do while you think is lengthy so part of your brain is thinking about the task at hand while the other part is trying to dream up plot elements.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

Every week I drive my daughter to the hospital for PT and/or to doctor appointments. I've never thought of these many hours away from the office as "wasted" time because I always bring work with me to do while I wait in the various reception rooms. Plus, it gives us both a chance to be together.

When I'm waiting, the only problem is the people who always want to know what I'm doing when I have notes laid out, and I'm typing on my Alpha Smart keyboard. I want to shush them, but I always answer. Unfortunately, they think that gives them permission to start a long conversation with me!

I'm always surprised by the number of people in hospital waiting rooms who bring nothing with them to occupy their attention while they wait.

I'm a good southern girl so I can't ignore them or answer impatiently because it's rude. So I end of wasting that precious time block and feel frustrated and anxious by the time I escape from them.

Think Time

When January rolled around, I thought about all those hours spent in waiting rooms since 2016 when we began this long medical road. I kept trying to write, get words down, but that left me frazzled. I realized the times I'd done nothing but think and make notes had been far more productive.

Think time is precious. That's when your imagination comes up with fabulous ideas, plot twists, bits of dialogue, and other gems. It boosts your creative energy.

Now I look forward to those waiting room times. I take a notepad to jot down the brilliant results of a brainstorming session. Instead of feeling frustrated because I didn't write a thousand words while waiting, I feel refreshed and fired up.

Takeaway Truth

If you feel frazzled rather than focused, try a think session. Set aside a block of time each day or evening--even a 10 to 15 minutes session of doing nothing but closing your eyes and thinking about the book you're writing can work wonders for your creative energy. Try it. Let me know if it helps.

Valentine Release Just Around the Corner

I'm priming my taste buds for lots of dark chocolate, but I wouldn't say no to milk chocolate or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Yes, it's that time of the year when it's okay--maybe even required--to eat chocolate. I just love Valentine's Day, don't you?

Valentine Romances

There's more than chocolate to Valentine's Day, and I don't mean gifts of sexy lingerie, bling, or roses. There are Valentine Romances, and I've got a great collection of 12 romances just for you.

Sweet and Sassy Valentine

A dozen of us put together a romance collection and dedicated it to the Hopeful Romantic because that's what romance authors really are. We believe in love, romance, and commitment.

This Valentine romance collection by 12 New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors has something for everyone: sweet romance to blistering hot romance.

With 12 books for only 99cents, you can pick and choose what you want to read!

Discover new authors or revisit favorites, that's what box sets are all about.

Pick up Sweet and Sassy Valentine today. This collection is an Amazon Exclusive.

By the way, sign up for my mailing list and receive a free ebook. The download link will be sent to your Inbox. You'll also be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Takeaway Truth

What are you giving your beloved for Valentine's Day?

3 Tips To Grow Your Audience

Today I was exchanging emails with a friend. She wants to get more involved with advancing her writing career this year.

I gave her what I thought were 3 simple tips to gain some traction and grow her audience. Of course, we all know that simple doesn't mean easy, does it?

These 3 tips might be of interest to others who are starting out or looking to advance so here they are for you.

3 Simple--Not Easy--Tips To Grow Your Audience

1. Have a mailing list and grow it.

Start a subscription newsletter so you have a mailing list targeted specifically to readers who like romance or whatever you write.

Grow this list and nurture it. Participate in newsletter building events. Make contact with your subscribers enough that they don't forget you but not so often that you're bugging them.

2. Publish as often as possible.

That's a tough one. Sometimes life just interferes, but try very hard to write every day. Those paragraphs accumulate into pages and then chapters and then books. I once read an article Andy Rooney wrote. He said, "Four pages a day ends up being a book in 3 months." Adopt a minimum quota and meet it every day, Monday through Friday.

3. Build name recognition.

Marketing specialists used to say someone had to see your name 9 times before they remembered it.

In today's short attention span world, that number is probably doubled or tripled so get your name out there often.

Blog, comment on other blogs, participate in Yahoo Groups devoted to writing and publishing, review anything and everything you buy on Amazon, write newsletter articles for your RWA newsletter if you're a member of a chapter, guest blog when you get a chance.

Takeaway Truth

If only those simply things were actually easy, we'd all be mega-successes, wouldn't we? I believe the key is to consistently take action. Do something every day to follow these tips. Sometimes the tiniest things can yield big results.

Learn Money Management From Quotations

I've been doing a lot planning this month--planning books I'll write, planning trips I want to take, planning the garden I want to plant--so it seemed appropriate to throw in a little financial planning too.

Darling Hubby and I met with our financial planner today. We talked about a lot of things.

As I look back on it, I'm reminded of some quotes I've collected along the way. There's a lot of wisdom in these quotes.

Maybe young people just starting out should be given a small volume containing some of these. It might keep them from blowing their money if they took the wisdom to heart.

Money Saving Tips From Quotations

Too many people spend money they buy things they don't impress people that they don't like. ~ Will Rogers

Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this. ~ Dave Ramsey

Every time you borrow money, you're robbing your future self. ~ Nathan W. Morris

You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you. ~ Dave Ramsey

Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs. ~ Zig Ziglar

Never spend your money before you have it. ~ Thomas Jefferson

The habit of saving is itself an education; it fosters every virtue, teaches self-denial, cultivates the sense of order, trains to forethought, and so broadens the mind. ~ T.T. Munger

Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.” ~ oe Biden

If plan A fails, remember there are 25 more letters. ~ Chris Guillebeau

Takeaway Truth

How many of these do you believe in or follow?

Review: Life Below Zero

While we were at our house in the country, we binged watched Life Below Zero, a reality series that originated on the National Geographic channel and is now on Netflix.

The weather was lousy, and the series was compelling in a "train wreck" kind of way.

I was working on my laptop, creating infographics for the new box sex Sweet and Sassy Valentine that contains my Valentine romance, and Life Below Zero provided an interesting soundtrack to my work.

This series debuted May 2013 and is still going strong. Life Below Zero follows people who live in or near the Arctic circle in Alaska as they basically spend the majority of their time trying to find enough food to feed themselves and avoid being killed by wild animals or the weather or the frozen tundra in which they live.


The first season which we watched follows 54-year-old Sue Aiken, Chip and Agnes Hailstone and their 7 children, Jessie Holmes, Andy and Kate Bassich, Erik Salitan, and Glenn Villeneuve who appeared late in the first season.

I won't even get into the horribly frigid weather these people endure in roughly-built cabins without running water, heat, electricity, etc. What we consider the bare necessities are luxuries that are bought by running fuel-fired generators for limited amounts of time.

The season was fascinating in what these people have in common. (1) They will do anything to continue living up there. (2) None of them can speak a sentence without every other word being f*** or that word used as an adjective, adverb, noun, or verb.

Here's an example: "That f***ing son of a bitch f***er f***s me every mother f***ing day." There are usually also a few GD's and lesser curses tossed into every sentence spoken. They all talked like that.

It got to the point where Darling Hubby and I started calling it "speaking Alaskan." We'd even say something, then say, "Pardon my French" then we'd laugh and say, "I mean, pardon my Alaskan."

The Arctic Circle Diet

Let me begin this section by saying I am not opposed to hunting. I grew up in the South and just about everyone hunts. My husband, my dad, brothers, cousins, etc. Even some of my girl cousins hunt. So I've eaten game meat.

That seems tame compared to what these people hunt and eat. If it moves on four legs or flies, they try to shoot it. I get it. That's subsistence living. Raccoons, muskrats, beavers, bear, caribou, birds--if it moves and it's not a person, they'll shoot and eat it. I'm not judging them for that.

BUT, the men in my family would no more eat a raw heart pulled from a bird or small animal than they'd curse in church. They also wouldn't eat most of the animals these people eat, but we have access to supermarkets.

The grossest scenes possible are these hunters slicing up the carcass and chowing down, and I do mean eating the carcass--every possible piece of it which I won't go into here because I just ate and don't want to lose my dinner thinking about it.

Like I say, intellectually I understand why they waste nothing, but I sure don't want to watch it on TV.

The People

Of the people in this reality show, I want to comment on one of the married couples Andy and Kate. Andy was such a foul-mouthed vulgarian with a hair-trigger temper that I began wondering how Kate could say she'd fallen in love with him. What was there to love? He treated her badly and verbally abused anything and anyone in his path.

Episode after episode, he railed and ranted and cursed. I thought, "Why would any sane woman stay with that horrible man?" Interested, I looked it up on the internet and learned that Kate finally left Andy in 2016. They're now divorced.

Takeaway Truth

Life Below Zero is compelling in the characterization provided by these people, and it's a study in survival and subsistence living the way people on the frontier lived a few hundred years ago. That makes it interesting research for someone writing a period novel or a novel about wilderness survival.

A Moment in Time Romance Short Story Series

In case you missed me, I'm back and wearing my SlingWords writing and publishing hat.

For the last 2 weeks, I've been working on a new book as well as tweaking cover art and manuscripts for the ebooks in my A Moment in Time Romance Short Story Series.

With that done, I started uploading the files to all the ebook channels I use: Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and its channels (the library channels, etc.), and Draft2Digital and its channels such as Apple iBooks, Inktera, Tolino, Scribd, 24Symbols, and Playster.

To date, there are 3 short stories in this series as described below. The links embedded in the titles are to Kindle shops. I don't have the other links yet.

Just do a search at the other booksellers I listed, and you'll find these ebooks.


This first story in the series should be free at all ebook sellers. (Even though I set it as free some Kindle shops, like in Canada, still charge for it. Unfortunately, I have no control over that so I apologize if they still charge for it.)

LuvU4Ever. That's what was engraved on the gold heart David gave Noelle when he proposed. David and Noelle have been married 10 years.

He promised to love her forever? So what happened?

"I told you to never call me at home."

Can nine little words destroy love? This year as Christmas approaches, Noelle faces the biggest decision of her life. Will she choose payback? Will she choose love? Or will she just walk away?

Last Chance New Year

Cheyenne Smith, better known as C. A. Smith to her co-workers, decides New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to give in to insanity and throw herself at Luke Harper, the man she loves, and hope that he catches her. Will he?

This romance short story has David and Noelle Morales, featured in LuvU4Ever, playing matchmaker for Cheyenne and Luke.

The third story in A Moment in Time "stars" Cheyenne's friend Chloe. All of the stories planned for this short story series will be connected to characters in previous stories, but each is a "stand-alone" so you don't have to read them in order.

Blame It On Chocolate

This is my Valentine romance short story.

Chloe Elliot was the good girl. She’d never been a hell-raiser. Never gotten drunk, used drugs, smoked pot, or slept around. She didn’t even curse!

Since her dad was the son of a minister and the oft-elected mayor, and her mom was the elementary school principal, she'd had no choice but to live a life above reproach. Truthfully, it really hadn’t been that difficult. Until Hunter Cole returned to his home town.

The Bookworm and The Player will be the next short story in the series.

I have a few stories on the drawing board for this year, and this is one I particularly like.

I've been playing around with cover art for it. The sample at left shows 1 of 3 designs I've done. I haven't decided which I like best.

I'll publish this story when I finish this wedding romance I'm writing.

If you'd like to stay updated on what I'm writing and when it will be published, sign up for my mailing list.

The Naughty List

This romance short story is finished, but it's a Christmas story.

Between holiday guests and getting sick, I just didn't get this published soon enough so I decided to waiting for Christmas 2018.

What have you been doing since the year began? Whatever it was, I hope you've been enjoying the year.

I have been because one of the things I enjoy most is writing, and I began the year with a new book. I truly hope I can write more this year than in the last two so wish me luck.

Takeaway Truth

There never seems enough time to keep up with all the tasks required by self-publishing. I often say I need to hire an assistant. This year, I may do that.

Attention Authors: Judge A Book By Its Cover Closes Soon

That's right. This year's JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER CONTEST 2017 (JABBIC), sponsored by Houston Bay Area Chapter of RWA, closes in 7 days. Have you entered yet?

This is JABBIC's 13th year as the biggest, best book cover contest around! Enter your cover and be seen by booksellers and readers alike!

Your covers will be judged by booksellers around the world, and the winning cover in each category will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April 2018 Romance Writers Report, the official publication of Romance Writers of America, as well as on our web site.

Even if you don't win, there's still a benefit for you. Your book cover will be seen by thousands of romance readers, other romance writers, and the judges. Since art is subjective, your cover may be the favorite of many who will be interested in your book simply from viewing the cover! That's because while the booksellers are judging, JABBIC opens the Reader's Choice portion of the contest. That's when the public gets to look at the covers.

The Reader’s Choice Winners from each category will be featured on the Houston Bay Area Romance Writers of America web site. Each year thousands of readers log on to view and vote for the JABBIC 2016 covers during the Reader's Choice portion of the contest!




Entry Deadline: Entries must be received by January 15, 2018

Entry Fee: $15

Eligibility: Published in 2017

Enter: The cover of your book, novella, short story or anthology published by a traditional house, self-published, ePublisher, or POD during 2017

Entry Format: Electronic files (JPG or GIF) only

Categories: Contemporary Romance, Historical, Romantic Suspense, Science Fiction, Sexiest Cover, Fantasy/Paranormal, Young Adult, and Inspirational

Judges: Booksellers around the world

Top Prize: Winners will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April 2018 Romance Writers Report

For more information, entry form and rules, visit the Contest Website or contact Contest Coordinator Leslie Marshman at judgeabook @ hbarwa dot com (be sure and adjust URL).

Takeaway Truth

Winning this prestigious contest is a feather in any author's cap so enter today.

Writers, Make This Your 2018 Mantra

I love writing, but there's a vast difference between writing and publishing.

We who write and hope to make a living doing that often feel as if we're treading water--barely keeping ourselves from drowning in this huge sea of millions of books as we compete for a reader's attention.

It's easy to yield to the feeling that you'll never make enough to pay the electric bill much less make a living at this. That's a terribly depressing thought.

When I find myself thinking negatively, I make a conscious effort to stop it. Immediately. I think it's too easy for negativity to invade your thoughts and discouragement immediately follows.

I'd like to give you some ideas or truths that I wrote back when I started this. You may have heard all these before from different people, but I encourage you to read this again, print it out in a huge font. Make a poster of it and hang it where you can see it every single day.

Internalize these thoughts. Make them your Writing Mantra, not just for 2018, but for the rest of your career. I have.

My Mantra

Ebooks are forever because shelf space is infinite.

You'll always be selling once you're published and your ebook stays available.

Ebooks are here to stay.

Ebooks AND print books will always be in demand as long as people have the desire to read.

Ebooks are global. There are more than 50 countries where your ebooks can be sold when you distribute through Apple via one of the aggregators like Smashwords or Draft2Digital. A few here and a few there can add up to some nice sales.

Sales fluctuate. Get used to it. Christmas sales can be huge; middle of summer sales can be discouraging. New books can hit big--so can old books.

Being an ebook writer/publisher is a marathon, not a 100 meter sprint.

I’m a writer, and I’m in this until the day I die.

As long as I continue to write good books, I’ll find readers.

Takeaway Truth

Smile and remember to enjoy the journey.

Sign up for my Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways, plus, you'll receive a free ebook just for joining.

Review: Christmas in Eastport by Susan R. Hughes

I've been catching up on my reading and thought I'd post reviews as I read.

Actually, today's review is for a book I read back in November when it was first published. I posted a review for it on Amazon, but they didn't publish it.

I don't know if that's because I'm in the U.S., and the book was published in Amazon Canada--although that shouldn't matter.

In the hundreds of reviews I've posted to Amazon over the years, this is the first time that has happened. So I thought I'd post the review again here.

Christmas in Eastport by Susan R. Hughes

I love just about anything by Ms. Hughes. I keep raving about her Christmas romances because they're topnotch--Hallmark should be knocking on her door for story ideas.

Susan R. Hughes has a way with characters. She creates flawed people, but at the same time she makes them people we understand and subsequently root for.

In Christmas in Eastport, her latest Christmas romance, Carly Nolan is living a life that's out of control. She's unhappy, and it shows. When she reluctantly returns to her hometown, she runs into her first love.

Just when you think this is going to be a quick happily-ever-after story, the author turns the tables on you. Carly and Mitch must work for that HEA--just the way real people must.

If you're a fan of New Adult fiction, you'll love this book. If you're a romance reader, you'll love it too.

Takeaway Truth

This edgy romance is only 99 cents so get Christmas in Eastport today.

Make Minutes Matter

I usually post a New Year message, but this year I'm getting a slow start.

As each year draws to a close, I always look back--often wondering where those 365 days went.

That leads me to analyzing how I spent my time. Time, like money, is a commodity we all have so I try to determine if I received value in return for the time I invested in various activities.

I recommend you do the same. Analyze how you spent the days, weeks, and months of the past year. Was your time spent wisely?

If you're not happy with what you find, make a plan now to do things differently. In fact, figure out what didn't work last year. Make notes. Write down what you want out of life this year.

Notice I didn't say set goals? Goals have a rep for being impossible to keep. So just write down what you want. In fact, write it down and create a campaign as carefully as the Allied Forces planned D-Day.

Points To Consider

1. Know exactly what you want.

2. Know what it takes in terms of time commitment to achieve what you want.

3. Know what you need to learn in order to attain what you want.

4. Know what you may have to sacrifice to get what you want.

5. Know the steps you need to take to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

How To Break Down the Steps

1. If you want to achieve something by the end of the year, then what do you need to do each month to make that happen?

2. What do you need to do each week to achieve the monthly step?

3. What do you need to do each day to achieve the weekly step?

4. Every day, ask yourself 2 questions. What do I want to achieve this year? What do I need to do today to make that happen?

Every day, do at least 1 thing--no matter how small--to work toward achieving your year-end big thing, regardless of what it may be.

Takeaway Truth

You can increase your wealth, dollar by dollar, but you can’t ever add more minutes to your day. Always spend your minutes wisely.

Happy New Year 2018

I crawled to the computer to post this. The Reeves household started the New Year sick. Yep. Both of us.

I wanted to wish the rest of the world peace, prosperity, good health, and happiness in 2018.

We'll be pursuing those worthwhile goals too. As soon as we recover from sinus infection, bronchitis, and upper respiratory illness.

In the meantime, be sure and shop the book specials posted in December.

Santa's Book Shop: Ebooks by bestselling authors.

Celebrate Boxing Day: Box Sets by some of the most popular authors around.

Just check the price on the ebook's webpage to make sure it's still at the price listed in the holiday posts.

Takeaway Truth

Happy New Year!