Rolling With The Punches

Lori here today to talk about feeling overwhelmed. And then doing the thing anyway.

Last month, it seemed like the hits just couldn’t stop coming. My daughter had to have surgery that put her in casts on both legs, up to her knees. My dad was in the hospital twice for almost two weeks. And… there was a small glitch with my publisher. Without going into details, my trilogy (which only had 2 of 3 books edited and released) was suddenly mine again.

Long story short, I had to pay a good chunk of change to have the final book edited and copy-edited. I was able to design new covers (below) and the first two are widely available for purchase.

I’m in love with the new covers and can’t wait to reveal the final cover and release date later this month on my blog. (Hint: It’s this summer!)

Instead of just pimping out my books, though, what worked for me is really what this is about. I still love the stories, it was relatively painless to self-publish them, I enjoyed making the covers and I’ve gotten positive feedback on them. My daughter is doing great–she has these shoes that fit over her casts and, as long as there are no stairs involved, she can go anywhere. She always was one to roll with it. And my dad is out of the hospital and doing very well.

Life sometimes hands us a big bowl of lemons. It’s a cliche, but we’re often given more than we believe we can handle. But, do what you do to get through. I, personally, make lists and schedules. I figure a thing out from all the angles. Then I leap. That’s the fun part–okay, it’s all the fun part.

And I happen to like lemons. They smell nice and with just a smidge of sugar… lemonade.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Reading is Powerful

Recently, I got a lot of bad news. The kind that adds to my already not so great year thus far. When it rains, it pours and that kind of stuff.

I wasn’t sure how to cheer myself up. The books I’d been reading were all fine and dandy, but nothing of the page gripping caliber. Not since that lovely contemporary by Alyssa Cole earlier this year. So when I found myself out of Candy Crush lives, and wanting to do anything besides turn on the television or actually write words (avoiding writing like the plague at the moment) I opened up a book on my Kindle.

Side note: Before I started taking my writing seriously I reviewed books. One, because I liked it. Two, because I would get to read books from my favorite authors months in advance.

Back to the book, which is one of my review books for the month of May. I started it and immediately became enthralled. It’s been a little bit. I’d forgotten the thrill, the rush of emotion. The heart pounding and endorphin rush when the hero and heroine clash.  The anxious clench in the gut before the first kiss. The disappointment when they are so close, followed by the eager drive to read faster just to get to it. Beyond that, it’s the tiny bits of the story – the dialogue, the plot, the tropes, the active writing. Oh, and the conflict.

Regardless, somehow I forgot about those things in the last months of life events, publishing woes, and responsibilities. My , I fell into a rabbit hole of a story. Hours passed and I crawled into bed around 2am with still 50% left. 5 hours later I awoke and I wasn’t tired or exhausted. I was eager. Eager to dive in some more. Dive, drove, devoured is what I did. I finished the book in a little over 12 hours. Life interruptions influenced my finish time. Reaching the end, I was immediately eager to know the rest… and that is the power of reading.

What verbs do you describe with reading? What emotions do you like to experience when picking up a book?

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Choosing Your Destiny

It’s the 7th and that means your monthly dose of Lori. 🙂 Hi, y’all.

I’ve had a lot going on the last two weeks. My father was in the hospital for several days (he’s doing much better) and my youngest daughter had an extensive surgery that has left her in a wheelchair for the next 6 weeks. I’m overwhelmed.

And then I checked my email and I have content edits (that I’m paying for, by the way, so I’m on a tight deadline) and a galley to proof for a whole other book. On the plus side, this means the last Viva Las Vegas book, My Vegas Comeback, will be out in late summer and the second Infamous book, Ambitious, will be out later this year.

I know those things are going to happen because even though I have so much stress right now (seriously, I’m just a big ball of it), I choose to continue my journey. I choose to be a writer. I choose to focus on what matters to me. I choose.

And you can choose, too. Because there’s never a convenient time to chase our dreams (unless, like, you win the lottery–maybe? I think most of us would still find excuses.). You either choose this day to be a part of your success, your destiny or you choose to put it off one more day. And the problem with that, of course, is that we run out of one-more-days.

Anyway, I’ve got to get back to work. Remember that the first two stories in my Viva Las Vegas Series are fresh and available now!

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Reinventing One’s Self – #LynnCrain #AmWriting #NewRelease #MysticRealms

Yes, I’m back again and this time, I hope to continue to add a blog post a month. I’ve told anyone who would listen about how horrible last year was for me and my writing career. Since January, when my husband of thirty plus years was declared cancer free, I’ve been struggling to get back into the groove of things.

Writing is my life and I thought I had found some creative ways to keep the inspiration going but now, I’m not so sure. Since I’d always done writing in my days at home, my whole routine was thrown out the window when my husband would be home every other week for at least three, sometimes more, days out of the work week.

The work week was always my reprieve to do what I needed to do be it research, writing or promoting as I was wont to do daily. When he was home, he would kill my writing day, and sometimes the inspiration too, for long stretches of time. Now, I could always handle the weekend as I figured I could use a break as well. During that time, I would severely cut back what I did but would always get back into my writing routine once the weekend was over. Since he was home more during his treatments, my writing time was in shambles.

During his chemotherapy, I decided to keep the writing alive by taking classes that required me to write a lot. And I mean a lot. In both the history classes I’ve taken, I had to do a weekly paper, a mid-term, a presentation and the final. In the folklore and fairy tale class I’m taking currently, there is a weekly reading response where I talk about archetypes or the hero/heroine’s journey, a written in class response, a mid-term, a presentation, and a final that consists of me retelling a fairy tale. All I can say at this point is thank goodness I have to re-imagine a classic because as the saying goes…I’ve got nothing.

While I’m not one to despair, I’ve decided to pursue an MFA and the research on that alone is enlightening. But I have to say that running across two books by author Jeff Goins is a life saver. In his book, You Are A Writer (so start ACTING like one), he talks about how to fall into love again with writing. While there are many profound things within this book, the one that struck me most was in the very first chapter: ‘It ‘s a choice, writing is. One that belongs to you and me. We get to choose it (or not) every single day. So whether the world hears your message – whether you leave the impact you were born to make – is entirely up to you.’

Now the perfectionist in me wouldn’t quite agree with all that is said there BUT the realist knows it’s true. Sure, I didn’t cause my husband’s cancer nor did I necessarily like that he had to be home every other week, making my concentration lag. While I don’t have an office with a door yet, I do have rooms where I could have shut myself away and wrote, regardless of him being in the house. He might have found it rather mean, but it probably would have been more productive than burying my head in books just to make it through a hard time.

Good writing is born from trials and opposition many times and I missed my chance to use those to my advantages. The perfectionist in me wants to beat myself up for lost chances and things I can’t change now but the pessimist knows I’ll have other chances to make my mark with my writing. Frankly, I know that if I tag myself with anything but writer, I’ll procrastinate forever.

As I’m regaining the life of my writer self, I go back to an old adage I learned long ago: fake it until you make it. Jeff Goins has just made it a little easier for me by giving me a whole lot of inspiration in the book I mentioned above and the one next in line…Real Artists Don’t Starve…both books can be found on Amazon at very reasonable prices. And no, he doesn’t even know I’m plugging his books but I am also going to plug one of mine.

Earlier this month, I had a release within the anthology called Mystic Realms, and my story was called Avenging Aingeal. Now this story wasn’t written last year but several years ago and it was finally edited at the end of last year. Here’s the blurb for the anthology and my story as well as buy links. Also, I do believe that there’s still a $50 gift certificate up for grabs and all you need to do is to comment for you chance at one of these two blog posts:

https://darkestcravings.blogspot.com/2018/04/win-50-gift-card-with-mysticrealms-and_0.html

and

https://11threalm.blogspot.com/2018/04/win-50-gift-card-with-mysticrealms-and_80.html

What goes bump in the night? What causes you a fright? While the answers for each may vary, I promise that these stories will not leave you wary.

From vampires and demons to shifters and creatures that you’d never suspect, this set will leave you breathless in the best possible ways.

So, don’t be afraid. Come, step inside our realm. Allow the mysticism of romance in many shapes and forms fall over you like a veil of sweet, soothing, spine tingling comfort.

We promise…you won’t be sorry.

Aingeal Cochran is on a mission to save humanity from itself when suddenly she’s staring head-on at her forgotten past. Lukas Everhard must bring her up to speed regarding the real enemy before allowing himself to love her completely. In learning about her past and mission, Aingeal realizes the best is yet to be and she will do anything to protect those she loves. For Lukas, Aingeal is the mission.

Amazon   

See you next month!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Then vs. Now: 1950s version

Writing three stories set in 1958 was as much a challenge in many ways as it was fun and different. There was so much research to do, despite the fact that I’ve always loved the fifties’ movies and music. I had to learn the slang, the fashions, and all about old-school Las Vegas. I drew on books, websites, and people’s recollections. I thought I’d share a little then vs. now with you today because the second book in my Viva Las Vegas trilogy, My Big Fat Vegas Wedding, is on pre-order and releases Tuesday.

Cool It, Daddio

The way of speaking was very different. People spoke a little more formally in most instances and their slang was very different. We know words like dude, lit, and on fleek. We all know what these words mean–by definition, slang is a shorthand way of speaking that changes the original meaning of the word(s).

Back in the 50s, people didn’t say someone was crazy–they said loony. A depressing person was “bad news,” a cool person was “hip,” and a clock was a “face.” I looked at some of those words and the meanings have changed today (“deuce” was a 1932 Ford) and some have remained the same, like when someone is being a “drag.”

Be a Man

Gender roles. Wow, as much as we bemoan how women haven’t come nearly far enough in equality (and we haven’t), the 1950s were an entirely different beast.

Back then, women went to college mainly to land a husband (if they hadn’t already done so in high school). Their studies weren’t important because they weren’t really expected to work and, if they did, it was usually only until they were married. A woman’s place was in the home, making sure her husband had a hot meal and his slippers. (I’m sorry, but gag me–his slippers!? Okay, back to the post.) Check out Housekeeping Monthly’s “Good Wife’s Guide.”

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking.

Conversely, men were required to be masculine at all times. There was no place for crying or sentimentality in a man’s world. If someone stepped over the line, they were more likely to use violence to settle their differences. I’m definitely glad things have changed since then (albeit, again, not enough).

My Big Fat Vegas Wedding: Viva Las Vegas, Book 2

So, now, let’s talk about the book. It was fun to write alphas who could go a little farther into alpha territory without being a jerk because times were different. People had different expectations and ideas about what was acceptable. In this book, especially, my heroine is very much a woman of her time. Grace is classy, despite being poor, and has ideas about how to behave properly (which Dominic is constantly pushing her beyond). Here’s the blurb:

He needs roots. She needs money. A whirlwind wedding could solve all their problems…if it doesn’t bring the Vegas mob down on their heads.

Grace Winters needs a miracle in the form of cash. A young widow with a stack of bills and a dead-end job, she’d do anything to save herself, her son, and her mother from the street. Anything but gamble—the Vegas vice that got her husband killed.

Dominic Rosas needs a happy family—or at least the appearance of one—to buy out his father’s shares in the Lucky Star Casino, ousting the vicious man and avenging his sister. When he finds himself wildly attracted to a down-on-her-luck waitress with a stubborn will and a sharp sense of humor, a hasty marriage seems the obvious solution to both of their problems.

To Grace, Dominic seems too good to be true, a kind man with money to burn and an inner strength a world away from her gambling-addicted husband. They share a spark she’s never felt before, giving her hope that maybe this time marriage might work. But when she finds out he’s investing in the Lucky Star, the mob casino where her husband gambled away their future, the dream crashes around her. Dominic swears he can invest in the casino, avenge his sister, and keep her safe, but Grace fears she’s placed her bets on the wrong man—again.

Find it on Goodreads.

Want to pre-order?

Amazon | iBooks | Google Play | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

An Exclusive Excerpt

The house was small and old. The steps up to the porch were crumbling away. Dominic tried to get his pitch ready in his head, like he would for work, but the words all jumbled together. Odd, because he never got nervous before a big pitch.

Grace came back with two glasses. He took one and sipped because his throat had suddenly gone dry. Water with a faint taste of lemon did nothing for his parched throat. Somehow, he still pushed forward.

“I need roots,” he said.

“I don’t know what that means.” She shook her head. Of course she did, because that didn’t make any sense. He was starting at the end instead of the beginning.

He paused, trying to decide where, exactly, to begin. “Let me sum up what I know about you. Please, Grace.”

With a slow breath, she glanced inside the quiet house, then gave him a terse nod.

Okay, he could do this. “You’re a widow, trying to care for your son and mother. Your son is a handful, probably because he doesn’t have a father around.”

Her eyes flashed. He’d made her angry, but he was too far in to stop now. He went on. “You can’t seem to make ends meet, no matter how hard you try. And you always look fragile and exhausted. Am I wrong?”

“I’m not fragile. If I were fragile, I would’ve broken by now. But other than that…no. You’re not wrong. What is this?”

“Please, listen. Let me tell you about me. I have more capital—money—than I’ll ever use because my grandfather was brilliant at investing it.”

“How lovely for you.”

And, I’m trying to buy into the company my father uses for income because he tried to steal from my sister. Worse than that. He tried to have her put away.”

“I remember.” Her voice was soft as she picked up her untouched lemonade, then took a drink.

“They turned me down. They want me, but only if I’m married—a family man.” He took a deep breath. This was it. “I want yours. I want you.”

She stood, stumbling a little on the table legs. “That’s crazy. You should go.”

“No, it’s perfect.” He rose and took a step closer. “We each need what the other has. I can take care of all of you. I’ll buy you a nice house. You can pick it out. You said you didn’t want eventful, but I don’t believe you. You need eventful or you won’t make it.”

Still Not Sure?

You can read the first chapter here. Until next month, I’m wishing you all a happy and proper Spring (with maybe a little less snow?)

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Diversity in Romance #change #readingnewauthors

Greetings Readers

Welcome to spring. It’s officially the end of the first quarter of the year — where does the time go? Too many books and not enough time. Speaking of books, that’s what I want to talk about today, diverse books.

First, before I get started this is not a post on a soapbox, just a post about personal change. Over the last four years I’ve started joining in on the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I say how many books I’ll read and then through the course of 12 months I record via Goodreads what I read and what I didn’t.  One thing I noticed, I was reading the same authors. Now, don’t get me wrong, once I find an author I’ll mine their backlist or buy whatever they put out. But I realized most of the books I was picking up were by white authors.  Is this bad? I don’t necessarily think so, but in today’s climate, political and social I kept experiencing the same messages:

“Be the change you wish to see in the word.” – Gandhi

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could’ve been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change.” – Michael Jackson

Those words, they mean a lot and they come from a place of purity. That being said, one of my personal reading goals for 2018 is to read more books by authors of color. So, far I’m batting about 50/50 and I’ll admit it’s changing how I view other books. I’m looking for diversity in my stories now, looking for the melting pot we live in. I’m trying to be mindful of how I plot my own stories and educating myself in the process.

But back to the books, I’ve found some fun gems and new author’s to read.

Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory about a STEM heroine who falls for a Prince.

Mia Sosa’s Pretending He’s Mine with super hunky, sexy Julian a Hollywood agent and the best friend’s little sister trope. Too bad little sister Ashley is harboring a serious crush.

Alisha Rai’s last book in her Forbidden Hearts series, Hurts to Love You. It’s like diverse Dynasty and I ate it up.

Books on my radar:

  • Vanessa Riley’s first book in the Blackamoor Brides series, The Bittersweet Bride
  • Courtney Milan’s upcoming release, After The Wedding.
  • Hold Me by Courtney Milan
  • The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas
  • FIT series by Rebekah Witherspoon
  • The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper Huguley

Now that I’ve regaled you with my list. What’s on your TBR? Any diverse authors or stories I need to check out?

 

 

 

 

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

  • Our LATEST Buzz!

    Cyn D. Blackburn's Wrapped Up in You releases on November 13. *** The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series were released in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous was released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, A PROPOSAL & PUMPKIN PIE is on sale for .99 through Thanksgiving.