How to Cope With Holiday Frazzle

I’m so stressed. On top of the holidays, I’m preparing for a sale next month of my first book, Infamous, and the release of the first book in my Viva Las Vegas trilogy in February. Compounding that, all three books will be released within four months.

I’m stressed.

But, then I realized we’re all stressed right now. The holidays are enough to push anyone over the edge. Presents to budget for (and then wrap–who has the time?), holiday dinners to make or attend, family members who maybe aren’t people you’d really rather deal with. The list is as long as Santa’s naughty list.

So, instead of just complaining about it (which I totally just did–sorry!), I thought I’d compile a list of things to instead of obsessing about what to buy your Uncle Mike.

  1. Color–Everyone seems to be doing it now. Adult coloring books are all the rage. If I had to recommend one, it would be Jenny Lawson’s You Are Here. She’s fabulous, her books are enlightening (though she drops the f-bomb more than a couple of times), and her drawings are enough to draw you in and make you forget for a moment that you. are. so. stressed. Plus, the American Art Therapy Association says that while it doesn’t replace therapy, it can reduce stress effectively.
  2. Practice gratitude–It’s so easy for us to succumb to the mountain of worry that the holidays bring. But, there are good things, too. We know that, of course, but knowing it and getting it are two different things. Say thank you or start a gratitude journal wherein you write down two or three things you’re grateful for each day. It really can make a difference.
  3. Live in the moment–At the end of the day, this is a time for family and memories. Don’t be so busy recording or taking pictures that you forget to just take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Just bask in the warmth of the fire, or your kids not arguing, or baking with a family member. Just… let it wash over you.

I’m no expert, but for me, these are ways to let go of some of the anxiety I experience about the myriad of things I need to do. I hope they help you out, too.

P.S. If you’d like to know about sales or release dates, sign up for my newsletter here.

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.

The End is Near…

Sounds so ominous right? But honestly, I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by. As soon as Thanksgiving hits, I immediately find myself in panic mode because it signals the end of the year is just around the corner. And every year it seems to come faster and faster. As I reflect back on the year I’ve had, I’m pleased with what it has brought me. I packed up and moved my boys and I to a small town in Utah and it has made a positive impact on all our lives. I mean, just look at that scenery…gorgeous!

I released a new book that I am in love with that is set around the holidays and introduces readers to my new fictional town of Serendipity, Texas. The characters in this series really speak to me and I can’t wait for the second book to come out.

I adopted two little fur babies and gave them a forever home. Kona was my first and she brought so much joy that when the opportunity to take in a another, I brought home Maui. They are a handful but so much fun!

All in all, it has been quite a successful year and I am thrilled to be where I am. It’s taken a long time for me to get to a point where I could say that. So tell me, how was your year? Share your proud moments…your accomplishments…your little thrills.

About Kinsey Corwin

Kinsey Corwin, a contemporary romance author who really is drawn to small town stories, beaches, and cowboys (I know, that is quite a mix). She is a single mom of amazing boys, a fan of kitchen experiments, a lover of country music, and a dreamer.

Wishing you a Bittersweet Christmas…

I’ve never been a huge fan of holiday stories. But this year, for some reason, I had the urge to write a Christmas story. This was around September, and I asked my publisher, Entangled, if I wrote a Christmas novella, could they get it out in time for Christmas?

They said yes. Yay!!! It was pretty short notice. So a huge thank you to everyone at Entangled, particularly my fabulous editor, Brenda Chin, for working so hard and so fast.

Bittersweet Christmas is based in the world of my Order series (paranormal romance, vampires, werewolves, fae – you name it, the Order has it) and it’s a little lighter than my usual stories (only one person dies, and honestly, they really, really deserved it) though I have to admit that my version of Father Christmas isn’t your usual cuddly Santa Claus.

Bittersweet Christmas releases on 27th November and it’s available for pre-order right now at only 99 cents.

BITTERSWEET CHRISTMAS

Orphan Liam Ryan isn’t asking for much this Christmas–just his Uncle John. And he’s counting on Father Christmas to find a way to make that happen.

But when Father Christmas tosses Liam’s letter, claiming that the kid is asking the impossible, his daughter, Winter, takes over. Half-pixie, Winter, longs to do something important with her life, starting with getting a job at the Order of the Shadow Accords, the organization that polices the supernatural world. When she discovers Liam’s uncle works for the Order, it seems like fate.

Savaged by werewolves and bitten by a vampire, no one knows what to expect of John Ryan, but it won’t be anything good. So there’s no way he’s getting involved with his nephew…or anyone else. Worse, he’s getting a babysitter over the holidays. But when he meets irrepressible Winter, all that matters is whether she likes her guys to be naughty or nice….

Do you enjoy holiday stories? What are your favorites. Let me know for a chance to win an ARC of Bittersweet Christmas.

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.

5 Super Fast Dinners during #NaNoWriMo #amwriting

Hi, all! Jennifer here

I am not participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but wish everybody who is GOOD LUCK.

I know writing is your focus right now, so I thought I’d share some really easy and fast dinners you can make this week so you can afford to squeeze in more writing time. These are all recipes I have tried and have made more than once, so you KNOW they’re yummy.

  1. Greek-Style Shrimp Scampi  Want to make it gluten-free? Instead of pasta, use spaghetti squash!
  2. Cheesy-Penne with Broccoli Super fast! And low fat, too.
  3. 20 min Chicken Enchiladas So quick because it uses rotisserie chicken!
  4. Sloppy Joe sliders Not only done in 20 min but kid friendly too. Serve with a side salad!
  5. White Bean Soup with Kale and Chorizo  I make this with smoked Kielbasa instead of smoked chorizo and it was YUM

Are you hungry now?

Hope you try a few of these recipes!

(But first, get your word count in!)

Until next time,

Jennifer

XOXO

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH.

Shamed

I’m not one to post pics of my kids on the blog, typically. But this kid–holy moly–he has put me through the wringer today.  And when the end of the day came, I could’t help get a bit introspective. I’m not a helicopter parent, by a long shot. I like being able to hear my kids outside, but I don’t ever feel like I need to be right there “handling” things, resolving fights, or just making sure everyone’s playing nicely. I like the kids to learn a bit of autonomy, and I definitely want them to learn to fix their own problems. You’d be surprised at how conflict resolution happens when adults aren’t there to mediate.

All that being said, my little guy went missing today. We were all relaxing and hanging out at the house. Windows were open and sounds could be heard wafting in. Knowing my husband was downstairs and around and getting lunch, I slept for a wee bit–maybe 30 minutes. When I woke up, I took stock, went next door to check on the kids, as I knew my daughter was over there and assumed my little guy was too. But he wasn’t.

And that funny panicky feeling started in my chest. I looked through my house, every room and closet and even the bathrooms. Back outside, I started calling for him, thinking he might have gone to play with another neighbor friend. My friend across the street started helping right away. And I started knocking on doors. I was freaking out about the “back to [fucking] nature” area behind the houses. What if he’d decided to take a hike? It seemed unlikely, he hadn’t been one to wander off so far, but there was just no guarantee!! This might have been his first time. I went back in the house and looked again–every closet and every corner. Outside, my circle grew…and another neighbor guy joined in.

Until about twenty minutes later, I knew I was going to have to go back to the house. I needed to call the police. Walking back, I continued calling his name, but by the time, I got back to my street, my voice was silent. My friends, next door and across the street, were standing in the street. And then my husband walked out of our house.

“I found him. He’s under Virginia’s bed, sound asleep.”

I cried. In the street.

I’m not a helicopter parent. But for the first time in a long time, as this day ends, I keep seeing the “unconcerned” people from the other next door. They’re new to the neighborhood so maybe that’s why they just sat out back while I frantically searched. There was a funny feeling in my gut, though. One I’d never had before…

Shame.

They were judging me.

It felt like it.

And though I’m still not going to be a helicopter parent, I’ll probably be a sheep dog parent for a while, circling around.

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.

It’s NaNo Time!

Hi guys! Okay, I admit, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve posted here. I would love to tell you I’ve been doing something amazing, like a book tour, but that would be a big, fat lie. I am simply lazy about blogging.

In any case, my favorite season is here, which always brings me new energy–weird, I know, given that winter is coming. Autumn brings beautiful colors, cooler weather, sweaters and boots, my birthday (hurray for cake!), squirrels eating pumpkins I never get around to carving, Thanksgiving (a food-centered holiday which is, of course, my favorite), and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  If you don’t know about NaNo, it’s an event in which  thousands of writers all over the world commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November. NaNo’s website provides advice, pep talks, and word counters, and local NaNo groups provide write-ins where you can meet actual people outside of your house and write with them.

I love NaNo, because it gives me the impetus to get a lot of words on the page, words I then massage for the rest of the year to turn into a book. Eventually.

Last night, I was on a panel of writers who have “won” NaNo (reached the 50K word goal) at the Cuyahoga County Public Library (such wonderful support for writers there!), sharing experiences with other writers who want to do the same. I came up with a list of tips I thought I would share with you.

1. Plan, just a little.

Some of us are planners, some of us are pantsers, and others are somewhere in between. No matter which one you are, do at least some planning. Have some details ironed out before November 1, such as:
• What is your setting? Contemporary, historical, futuristic, fantasy? City or small town?
• Who are your main characters? What are their overarching goals? What motivates them?
• If you’re writing historical fiction, have you researched the time period? If you’re building a new world, have you ironed out the basics, such as names, languages, places, technology, etc.?
• Map out the main events in your novel, the main turning points, so when (not if) you get stuck in the middle, it’s easier to get yourself back on track.

2. Discover how fast you write.

I learned this tip in an online class I’m taking this month called “How to Write Fast,” taught by Peter Andrews. (Super helpful, and I’d recommend it if you see it anywhere–check out his blog too.) Do this before you start: set a timer and write for 15 minutes. Write anything—a description of your dog, a dissertation on the weather, a synopsis of your story, whatever—just write for 15 minutes. Do not edit as you go. When the timer goes off, count the words you wrote. Multiply by four. That’s the number of words you can write per hour. That gives you an idea of approximately how much time you need to devote per day to write 1,667 words.

For example, I wrote 425 words in 15 minutes, which is 1,700 per hour. At that rate, I only need to write one hour each day to reach my NaNo word count. When you look at it that way it seems far more manageable and easier to schedule. Admittedly, it can be harder to write that fast when you’re trying to figure out where your story is going next, which is why #1 above is helpful.

3. Turn off your inner editor.

Seriously. Turn that sucker off. If you try to polish every scene during NaNo you will NEVER FINISH in time, or possibly at all. There will be plenty of time to polish later.

4. Write with other people.

I find writing with other people—whether in person or virtually—to be the single most helpful thing I can do for my productivity.
• Go to a NaNo write-in.
• Sprint with NaNo on Twitter (@NaNoWordSprints).
• Get together with friends to write in person and/or start a chat group on Facebook Messenger for sprints.
Savvy Authors has a sprint room; membership is free.
• My local RWA chapter, NEORWA, has an online workshop during NaNo for sharing ideas, sprinting, etc.  It’s free and open to anyone; you just need to register, which you can do here.

5. Winning isn’t everything.

Sometimes even if you plan, schedule, turn off your editor, and write with other people, the words just won’t come. I have done NaNo six times. I only won twice, and neither of those books has been published. I didn’t win with the three books I have published.  Do try to win, because it’s awesome and fun and feels fabulous, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Like many other things, NaNo is simply a tool to help you get words on paper. It doesn’t work for everyone.

My tips will almost certainly conflict with that of other folks, but no one technique works for everyone. Please feel free to share your own tips in the comments, and happy autumn!

 

About Marin McGinnis

A lawyer in real life, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian era romance and mystery. She’s spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She’s been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and has one teen-aged son. They all live together in a drafty old house with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete.

While her very first book will languish under the bed, the next book, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next two books, Secret Promise and Tempting Mr. Jordan, are also available from Wild Rose Press.

Marin currently serves as President of the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America and is hard at work on the next book.

You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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    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.