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Once is Never Enough

School. Ack! I remember being so excited to graduate because it meant no more school! I would be an adult and could make my own way. And that way certainly didn’t include any more school. Riiiiggght. We all know the many myths of adulthood and being finished with school is one of them. But it’s okay.

Young Girl Does Her Math HomeworkAs I’ve grown one of the things I’ve come to realize is just how much I don’t know. Ahh, I miss the days when I knew everything. It took a while before I could say it out loud, but I love learning. I really do. If my finances were to ever permit it, I’d probably be a professional student the rest of my life. Since I don’t see that in the near future, I depend a lot on technology to provide access to things I need to learn. Do you ever find yourself doing this?

If I want to do something different with one of the many programs on my computer the first place I go is usually YouTube. It can be Excel, Illustrator or anything in between. It amazes me how many people are willing to share their knowledge. I love it! If it involves writing, its online courses like those from RWA or SavvyAuthors. I really enjoy the courses at Lynda as well. Video has made it so I can watch them as many times as I need to understand the point, or reach whatever goal I’ve set for myself. Gone are the days when you get to see something once and if you don’t get it, too bad. I don’t miss them.

I love attending classes, but I find I can teach myself just as easily if the material is provided. What about you? Do you prefer a classroom setting, or does learning on the fly work for you?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in the fast lane of Atlanta for life in the slow lane, in the hills of Bluegrass Country. Her existence is never dull as she works to blend city expectations with country reality. When she’s not writing, you can find her relaxing on the deck with a good book, or cooking for family and friends, which is another story...

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New Tricks

Going back to school isn’t only for children. I don’t think we’re ever too old to learn new tricks (despite any sayings to the contrary.)

This month, my fabulous older sister gave up her extremely lucrative career as a mad scientist to move half way across the country and go back to school. Next month, she starts an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.

It’s a huge move and I’m madly jealous. I’d love to study writing full time.

Sadly, it’s not going to happen for me. Mainly because I like my life the way it is too much and right now, I live in Spain a long way from the nearest university.

But I love learning new stuff and I’m always signing up for online courses. Usually some sort of how to write course and lately I’ve studied:  Creating Conflict, Deepening POV, Improving your Platform and many more.

Recently, I’ve been branching out and have signed up to learn computer programming (in an attempt to conquer my technophobic tendencies) and a course titled: The Violent Universe: exploring the deadliest places in the universe, from black holes to supernovae. Can’t wait for that one to start.

Pool  2On the less cerebral side, when we first relocated to Spain I learnt loads of new skills. We moved into a somewhat dilapidated farmhouse and neither I nor my husband had any experience in construction (I was an accountant!) But we learnt as we went along and did all the work ourselves including building the swimming pool (and it’s still holding water ten years later—something that surprises me every day.) We also learnt to pick almonds, dry figs, make wine, drink wine (actually I was already pretty good at that one.)

 

My latest learning experience is barefoot trimming –probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever learned—at least physically. I have a mare called Gencianna, and I recently made the decision to have her go barefoot. After years of shoeing her feet were a mess and the last year has been a process of rehabilitation. She’s coming on really well but once she’s good, she will still need trimming every few weeks and I’d like to be able to do that myself. The most difficult part is learning to understand the hoof and know what needs to be done, but I have a fabulous woman teaching me and I’m loving the process of learning something totally new.

gencie2

So what about you? Are you learning anything new right now? Or is there anything, however frivolous, that you’d really like to learn?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

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New Release — Becky Lower

For all our Historical Romance fans… out September 1st, The Duplicitous Debutante.

roses2In 1859, ladies of New York society were expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a smooth-running household, and have children.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s agenda is very different. As the author of the popular Harry Hawk dime novels, she must hide her true identity from her new publisher, who assumes the person behind the F. P. Elliott pen name is male. She must pose as his secretary in order to ensure the continuation of her series. And in the midst of all this subterfuge, her mother is insisting that she become a debutante this year.

Henry Cooper is not the typical Boston Brahmin. Nor is he a typical publisher. He’s entranced by Mr. Elliott’s secretary the moment they meet, and wonders how his traditional-thinking father will react when he brings a working class woman into the family. Because his intentions are to marry her, regardless.

Rosemary’s deception begins to unravel at the Cotillion ball, when Henry recognizes her. The secretarial mask must come off, now that he knows she is a member of New York society. But she can’t yet confess who she truly is until she knows if Henry will accept her as F. P. Elliott.

The more time they spend together, the closer they become. But when Rosemary reveals her true identity to him, will Henry be able to forgive her or has her deceit cost her the man she loves?

~*~*~

lower authorpicBecky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west in the 1850s or present day middle America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com

~*~*~

Excerpt:

Harry Hawk and the Tycoon’s Daughter—Book Six in the Harry Hawk Series

Harry Hawk stared down the barrel of his Colt .45. A huge Sioux Indian was in his sights, but was holding the girl in front of him as a shield. Her eyes were as big as saucers as she struggled against the man, and she trembled as she kept her eyes on the end of Harry’s gun.

New York City, March 1859

Rosemary Fitzpatrick laid her fountain pen on the paper, oblivious to the blob of ink that fell from its tip and damaged the page. She picked up the letter she had received earlier in the day.

It was her own gun, and she was staring down the barrel.

The letter informed her that her publisher, Page Books, had been sold, as Mr. Page had retired. The new company, Cooper and Son Publishing, was sending an envoy from Boston to New York to meet with all the authors. And to decide whom to keep.

She read the words between the lines. And whom to cut.

She had never met Mr. Page. All their correspondence had been through the post. So Mr. Page had no idea one of his best-selling dime novel authors was a woman. F.P. Elliott was the name she’d come up with when she was only fourteen and submitted her first story, not once imagining she’d become one of Mr. Page’s most productive and popular authors.

She had only two days in which to find someone to impersonate F.P. Elliott.

Rosemary ran her ink-stained fingers through her hair as she pondered what to do. The logical choice, and her only real hope, was her older brother Halwyn. But he was married now and settled. And, despite the fact he loved his sister, Rosemary doubted he’d ever cracked open one of her books.

Well, it was worth a try, anyway. She hastily stood, removed her pinafore—which was covered in purplish-blue stains resembling bruises, but protected her dress—patted her hair back in place, and glided down the steps from her garret study in the four-story townhouse to the main level, where she encountered her mother in the drawing room.

“Oh, good. I was just on my way upstairs to find you. Do come in.”

Rosemary took a seat opposite her mother, who picked up the embroidery she had been working on. Rosemary took a moment to smooth her pale blue muslin dress and inhaled her mother’s subtle, comforting scent of lilacs before she brought her eyes up.

“Mother, I have a problem.”

Her mother glanced up from her needlework. “Well, if it’s a problem with one of your stories, I’m afraid I can’t help you. I don’t know where you get your ideas. Help yourself to some tea and a bit of Cook’s tangy lemon cake, why don’t you?”

Rosemary rose and poured herself a cup of tea, forgoing the cake. “Well, indirectly, it is about my stories.” She took a deep breath. “Mr. Page has retired and he’s sold the company to a Boston publisher.

Charlotte Fitzpatrick’s eyes locked on Rosemary’s. “Oh, dear.”

“Precisely. And the new publisher is sending someone to New York in two days to interview all the authors Mr. Page currently has under contract. They insist upon an in- person visit. Whatever can I do?”

Charlotte tapped her finger on her teeth for a moment, before her face broke into a smile. “We’ll just have to find someone to be Mr. Elliott! What about your father?”

“Papa’s way too busy to spend an afternoon impersonating me. I was thinking more along the lines of Halwyn.”

“Hmmm. I suppose either of them would be a good choice. They can certainly think on their feet. But has either of them read your stories? Do they know where your inspiration for Harry Hawk comes from?”

“No, I don’t think either of them cares. They merely pat me on the head and tell me they’re glad I have a ‘hobby’ that keeps me off the streets and away from the Bloomers and their demonstrations for women’s rights.”

“All right then. Here’s what I suggest. You can prepare a series of questions about your stories, not just your characters but also about your current contract with Mr. Page, and administer the test to both your father and brother. Halwyn and Grace are coming over for dinner tonight, so your timing is perfect. Whoever does the best on the test will be the one to impersonate your Mr. Elliott.” Charlotte clapped her hands together.

“Your idea might just work,” Rosemary replied as a touch of excitement washed over her. “I’ll compose the pertinent questions this afternoon.”

Her mother patted her hand. “Surely we New Yorkers can pull the wool over a Boston Brahmin any day of the week.” She set aside her needlework and picked up the most recent copy of Godey’s fashion magazine. “Now we must discuss the important business of your debut next month. That’s the real reason I wanted to talk to you.”

“Must I still go through with this archaic European folly?”

Charlotte fixed a level stare on her daughter. “It is neither archaic nor European anymore. Judging from its success in finding suitable partners for our young ladies of society since its introduction into American culture five years ago, I must say it’s a convention that’s here to stay. I let you talk me out of it last year, when you should have had your season, simply because I was exhausted from planning the weddings of your two sisters. But no more dawdling, Rosemary. 1859 has to be your year. You’re nineteen and must begin entertaining the idea of getting married. Besides, if the talk of war between the States evolves into actual battle, the Cotillion may be cancelled temporarily—at least until we take care of the Southerners and free all the slaves. You may not have another chance to find a husband for years.”

Charlotte pointed to a gown in the magazine. “Jasmine has already created a lovely white gown for your coming-out ball, but we must think beyond the dance, to the entire season. We’ll have a formal dinner in the weeks following the dance. How about a dress such as this?”

Rosemary placed a hand on her stomach, which now knotted with anxiety on top of her excitement. “Mother, I can’t think of dinners or ball gowns right now. My entire future is in jeopardy.”

“Quit being so melodramatic, for goodness’s sake. I’m quite certain your father or brother can come up with a solution, so indulge me a bit and let’s talk dresses. After all, having a wonderful season is part of your future, too.”

”I’m sure whatever you decide will be fine, Mother. I need to get to work on my questions for Papa and Halwyn.”

Rosemary’s stomach calmed a bit as she rose and went back to the garret to compose her test. Maybe her mother’s idea would work. Perhaps her father or brother could pull it off.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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I’m an office supply predator

20140905085424_kindlephoto-16632292Back to school sales

I am such a sucker for back-to-school sales. I mean, I know, all writers are. We can stock up on pens, and highlighters, and post-it notes. Same here. But, I enjoy them in a gleeful, cackling like a witch as I examine every bin, sort of way.

Story Notebooks

I always buy a five-star five-subject notebook every year to be my story notebook. Believe me, it gets used until the papers are creased and crinkly. Then I file it away, once the story is done “just in case.” Just in case has never happened. I’m not even sure what just in case is.

Sticky notes here, there, and everywhere

I buy post-its. But I don’t buy a pack of post-its (although I did recently acquire one of the Colors of the World collection; I chose Rio de Janeiro). I go through the bins, picking up and tossing pads (either into my ever-filling cart or back, like a fish that’s too small to eat). I’m a predator of office supplies.

One word: pens

I don’t think I am exxagerating when I tell you that I could never buy another pen and I would still have leftover pens when I die. Now, let’s all laugh at the idea of me not buying pens. I’m an addict.

In fact, I wanted to share a picture with you that I shared on my blog.

wpid-2014-04-15_11_21_55The box is to hold the little minutiae that I may need at any given time, that I need regularly enough that I don’t want to search for it when I need it.

These are the office supplies I pulled out. Four highlighters, two Sharpies, a pair of scissors, a pad of blue Post-Its, three pencils, and approximately seventeen pens. Let’s not forget, these are not all my office supplies. This isn’t from my desk, which holds more, or the kitchen, where I keep pens, Post-Its, Sharpies, and scissors for mailing, labeling, etc. This is from one container in one room of my house.

Those aren’t even a sliver of my supply.

Office Organization

I may need to start searching pinterest for office supply organization. In fact, I’ll leave you with this: how big is your stash and do you have a specific organization scheme?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. It's all about the story. Always.

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Getting Organized

Julie here! I’m in the midst of a Book in A Month Workshop led by Candace Havens. It’s a whirlwind to write and edit a book in a single month. Throw in a 6-month-old, a 6-year-old, and a job in marketing, and it would be easy for things to get out of control. Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tools for staying organized.

Writing: Along with a lot of writers, I love Scrivener. It’s a word processing program made specifically for authors. It allows me to rearrange scenes and chapters, make saves at different stages of the process, and keep all my notes and research in one place. I’d be lost without it.

Work: When I moved from a paper planner to an Outlook calendar (which is on my computer and my iPhone), I struggled with how to organize my notes. After a lot of searching, I finally found a notebook that I love. It’s called “Better than a Yellow Pad” made by Franklin Planner. It’s spiral bound, so it can lay flat for easy note taking during meetings. The pages don’t fall out like they tend to do with a traditional notebook, and it has a place for the date and a column for to-dos on the side of the page. It comes in two different sizes. I prefer the smaller one because it fits perfectly in my computer bag or my purse.

To Do List: Task Task is an app I use to keep and organize my to-do list. I can sort my list into categories like work, writing, home, errands, etc. It even syncs with my Outlook task list at work.

What tools do you use to stay organized? 

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

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The way to a man’s heart…

We’ve all heard it, I’m sure. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. As an author, I’ve taken this sentiment seriously and, if you read my first book, Can’t Shake You, you probably know what I’m talking about. My heroine, Carissa, on more than one occasion, either brings food to or cooks for the hero. This is a theme I’ve noticed myself following in coming River Bend books. Why? It’s probably mostly because I’m a total foodie, but also because I’m a small town gal and it’s part of our nature…our culture even…to shower our loved ones–especially the guys in our lives–with something to fill their belly with. Could be an ulterior motive. You know, more fuel for more activities and all that. ;)

In Can’t Shake You, Carissa has a Sunday tradition of making Chicken Pot Pie. It’s something she carried into adult life from childhood, much like we’ve probably all carried on traditions. Here is the link to the recipe I make at home. It’s perfect for fall…or any time of year, really…and it’ll warm not only the tummies of the ones you love, but their hearts as well.

Enjoy. :)chix

 

About Molly Mclain

Molly is a talker. Get her chatting about books (or book boyfriends) and she can go for hours. Socializing is her favorite part of blogging with a bunch of like-minded authors. It's like having coffee with your friends at all hours of the day. Molly also likes coffee. A lot. Blogging at HSG? It's a win-win in Molly's book!

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  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Out now from Ellora's Cave, HOW TO CAUSE A SCANDAL by Tina Vaughn *** Nina Croft's LOSING CONTROL is out! *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available. *** Congratulations to Julie Jarnagin now represented by Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency!