Many Hats #audiobookgiveaway

Somewhere I’ve talked about this before, maybe it was in a phone conversation, but I’d like to discuss it again.TOO MANY HATS-

Authors wear many hats. The truth behind them could be so many hats you’d think they were a Russian spy or actor. The variety and number vary, but typically include the parent hat, the day job hat, the chef hat, the secretary hat, the laundry hat, the merry maid hat, the chauffeur hat, the tailor/seamstress hat, and the personal assistant hat.

Due to the wide variety, and the need to change hats multiple times during the day, fashion faux pas can occur. In fact, not too long ago I wore my personal assistant hat everywhere and signed up for all the things. This earned me a PTO President hat.

That being said, in ways I’m a hat collector. I like to add to the collection so my hats become diverse and knowledgeable. You could say I have an addiction to hats, which can hurt me at times. Ultimately, like any good collector, I have to decide when there is no more room on my shelf, or closet, or in the spare room I keep for all the hats. My husband has even commented that maybe I need to have a garage sale. 🙂 It can be challenging to decide which ones should go and which should stay. The big, fancy shiny ones are harder to maintain, but look so pretty when I wear them. The plain jane hats, those every day things, I can’t get rid of them. I need them as much as they need me. So where do I begin?

Tell me dear reader, how many hats do you wear? Which hats do you recommend giving away? How horrible are these analogies?

One commenter will win 1 audiobook from my backlist.

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.

Her latest release is a series of erotic BDSM Contemporary romances called, Desperately Seeking Submissive, which are available in Audio and Ebook. She writes stories where passion and strength collide.

 

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.

Looking backward, looking forward.

My nine-year-old son loves baseball.

He plays on a AAA team, which means nothing to me, but means something to my husband.

When he was nine–and for most of his youth into college and a little beyond–my husband, Billy, played baseball. He was a State Champion pitcher who got drafted into the majors at nineteen. But back then, there was no such thing as a pitch count for young players, and by the time he was twenty, his body was worn out. Even today, at the age of 47, he has problems with his rotary cuff. He did the thing he loved until it broke him.

Now Brady is playing. He’s not a pitcher–he’s a catcher. This is possibly by design (my husband’s) or maybe because Brady loves the position. It’s the most important position on the field, come to find out. He has to be aware of the positions of all the opposing players on the bags (that’s baseball jargon for “bases”–I didn’t know that either, once). If someone tries to steal a base, he has to see them and make snap decisions on where to throw the ball–and be on target. He can’t overthrow his intended baseman, because then the runner can move on to steal another base.

He also has to be aware when he can’t stop a pitch; when he goes running to get it, he also has to have eyes on the field to be sure to stop runners.

And then, there are other times when he just needs to be in the game and with the program. My favorite is when one of his team’s young pitchers are wobbly and walking batters; Brady looks so serious as he lifts his mask onto the top of his head and marches out the the mound to talk to them. He doesn’t take long, and he never fools around. Usually, he’ll pat the other player on the shoulder as he talks to them, and he looks right at them with such a grown-up expression on his face. Usually, this exchange works to calm the pitcher down and get them to throw strikes. Later, when I ask him what he said, he tells me things like, “I told him to take a deep breath and just play catch with me. Don’t worry about the batter.” Or, “I told him to follow through, just like we practiced.” Wise counsel from someone who needs reminding to brush his teeth and to use deodorant.

His coach has told us that he’s the best player in the league, and in fact, some of the “major” league coaches are scouting him. (Not the major majors, you understand. But the coaches of the older kids. My husband and Brady know what this means–I’m just in the stands, cheering when everyone else does.) Baseball has become something that means so much to both of them. Billy has volunteered to coach the young pitching “staff” and with amazing patience, teaches them the physical mechanics of pitching and how to strategize their pitches. Brady has  gained confidence and leadership skills he’s not even aware of, and has developed a focus that has helped him in school and other places because of baseball. And it’s something both of them, father and son, can share and discuss and analyze–man to man. More than a game, it’s a common link for the two of them.

As I sit on the bleachers, I’m  watching: Billy, looking backward through this current experience and reliving the golden, glory days of his youth, and Brady, looking forward and planning for his future in the game. Me? I’m just here in the present, looking forward and backward, and enjoying the view. I never understood what was so good about sports, but I think I’m finally starting to understand.

 

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

I’m planning to fail. Several times.

“Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.” -Martha Beck

I really like this quote–it makes failure seem less frightening. In fact, it makes it seem like a positive thing. I’d never thought about failure as part of my success, but now that I have, I know I can deal with it.

One of the things I always tell my kids is, “We learn by our mistakes,” meaning that it’s okay to do something stupid once in a while if, in the end, you’ve learned something from it. For example, over the winter my nine-year-old decided he didn’t want to wear his heavy coat to school. Instead of fighting with him about it, I let him make that choice (though I did warn him I didn’t think it was a very wise decision). So he went to school and when he came home, he talked about how cold he’d been at the bus stop and during recess. But, you know, he’s never gone without a coat since. In fact, he’s sure to wear a hat and mittens as well as a warm jacket on cold days because he never wants to experience that level of discomfort again. No nagging on my part, and a lesson well-learned for him.

In a sense, this quote is similar. It gives me permission to fail and learn by my mistakes. It’s especially poignant for me right now because–for the fourth time in my life–I’m doing Weight Watchers. In the past, I’ve gone off the diet at a certain point for whatever reason, and then–because of my failure to stick with it, I consider myself hopeless and regain the weight I’d lost. But by using Martha Beck’s philosophy, I won’t give up completely as I have in the past. Instead, I can give myself permission to relax, accept the failure–briefly–and then return to my healthy eating and exercise plan.  If I do this, I’ll be able to succeed in spite of my failures.

How can you apply this quote to your life?

 

 

2012-08-22 17.19.33

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

My Writing ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #PCers

Saying-#1-Resized

I really must apologize for not doing the blog for the last two months. Sure, I have an excuse and a valid one at that but it’s still no reason for not letting you know what was going on.

Recently, I moved from Vienna, Austria back to my hometown in Nevada. Now this may be a temporary move at best but still, like any move, it is a whole new experience. Frankly, I don’t know what I expected because my youngest, his girlfriend, his best friend along with his girlfriend all live in my house.

And I asked for very little when I returned. I wanted the smallest bedroom, a corner of my wonderful office and the walk-in closet in my office. Right now, I feel lucky to have a bedroom. Needless to say, I’m going crazy without a place to write and no place to hang my clothes as my husband has the very small closet in the bedroom. I figured since he had all the suits for work, it was the only solution.

Right now, I’m cranky, unreasonable and argumentative when I really don’t want to be. I live in chaos with 3 dogs, 5 cats and 5 other humans in a house that doesn’t have enough room for all of us. Did I mention, there are only two bathrooms as well?

So, it doesn’t leave much in the way of writing. I don’t have a dedicated place and I’m trying to keep the spark alive by working on my dining room table. Sometimes it’s fine, others it reminds me of the total chaos I live in when the dogs start playing under the table and actually move it. Add to that the cats who start running and the dogs take chase. All in good fun of course.

Except for Harry. Most of the time he’s fabulous with all the critters. My youngest’s cat, Gatsby, and he are great friends. Until the other dogs start playing with him too. Then it becomes a free-for-all that tells me I’m going to lose my mind.

Then I think of some well-loved movies and I know it will be okay. I remember the scene in The Christmas Story where the pack of dogs come in and steal the Christmas bird. Yeah, my home looks like that and when I calm down, I can see the hilarity of the situation. Or how about the many funny scenes from the movie, Yours, Mine and Ours. It doesn’t matter which version you get, it’s all much the same.

The point here is that while my writing reality may suck, the opportunity for ideas and stories and just living life abound. Don’t get me wrong…I loved my life in Vienna for it’s ordered manner and calm…I hated it because I was 7000 miles away from my immediate family and 4500 from our nearest relatives who live in New Hampshire. I wanted to figure out a way to successfully combine them and this is what I got.

I guess in my quietness, I forgot that life isn’t calm, nor as ordered as I was used to. Life is messy with all its foibles and ugliness and just plain chaotic nature. Life ebbs and flows, like a river. Sometimes it’s raging and makes great canyons, others it’s a meandering ribbon that brings life to the farmland but can flood when the sky opens and sometimes, it goes down to a trickle to die a slow death. Yet somehow, it has lived a full, rich life by just being.

Even though, life is throwing me a few, or a lot, of curves I remind myself every day of the wonder of being here in the chaos, surrounded by family and friends, feeling the awesomeness of where I am as I gather more story ideas for the day where I can again sit at my desk and write all day.

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.

End of Summer Funk ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #amplanning #PCers

By this time next month, fall will have begun and summer will be fading into memory. But in this moment, I can say I have what I call an end of summer funk.

It’s the time right as school starts, when one is planning out their next moves and how to accomplish them. It is also the time of new beginnings, maybe it’s the end of a special summer or even just starting a new school. Every fall, something begins and something ends.

This year, it has made me reflective and almost sad. My kids are all grown and out of the house, we’re in Austria as life moves on. I noticed it in the pictures of my grandkids at their first day of kindergarten. They were full of happiness for new adventures. Full of those things that had somehow slipped away from me over the hot summer.

With the heatwaves here in Europe, I felt a little more defeated and aimless in my efforts. Then I saw the boys and realized that maybe I wasn’t so aimless but more lost because of my lack of focus. Heat with humidity does that to me. And I just didn’t realize how much until this year. But somehow, somewhere, I know I was thinking along the right path because of a few steps I’d taken earlier in the month.

Before any of the above happened, I had a moment of clarity where I ordered planning materials designed to help me focus and maintain my momentum. I have a lot of writing to do this fall through next spring and unless I can keep on task, it won’t get done. Now this is hard because I can’t use anything from here because it’s all in German. I don’t know enough of the language to think in it and that’s what one needs when using a planner.

I was in luck as my husband’s work was having a working group where a lot of Americans come to Vienna for updates and training. These are people I knew well and who frequently deliver things I can only get from the US. So I went on a hunt for a planner that would do a writer justice. Now, this will help me plan my time, my projects and my priorities, which always seem to get skewed this time of year. When I do a plan then work the plan, I stay focused and on track.

While I’m a pantser at heart, doing this type of focusing will always help me write better. Once I’m on this track, I will start doing outlines that help me in general. I tend to deviate away from most outlines because my characters talk to me differently when I actually do the writing but at least I have an idea of where I’d like them to end.

Yeah, characters sometimes – wait, revise that – many times will not go where I think they should go. That is the number one reason I will remain a pantser because I can’t force them to do what I want any more than forcing my kids to do something either. Characters are living things and if I can just plan little things, names or likes or dislikes, I’m at least ahead of the game.

For me, it is the life planning of my day, what projects I want to do and how I plan to do them is what keeps my writing career on an even keel. And I was extremely blessed to have found something at Amazon from the group Tools4Wisdom called a Month-Life-Planning-Agenda because that’s what I needed. I was immediately impressed with the cover because it’s a trail through an autumn forest. I love walking through places like that.

Planner-Cover

Then I looked at the pages and saw a Goals page where I could put in my individual projects, namely books, into perspective. This would help me tremendously because I could plan for the whole year. And for me a year runs from September to August because I guess I’m still on the school year or government plan. It just seems to work better for me.

Goal-Page-#2

The next page I saw was the Essential Goals page. This page is gold because it lets me name a number one priority for the month then I can add some other smaller items to be finished. Every item is accompanied by a why and how accomplishing that goal will add value to my life. While I’d never thought of my writing in that manner, I could see where it would be beneficial to my overall plan.

Goal-Pages

Then comes the daily pages where you actually set out to do the work. The time increments are in 30 minutes and start at an early 5 am then don’t end until 9 pm. Just perfect for a writer since we do work at all times of the day. Now, you can also flip that so it starts at 5 pm and doesn’t end until 9 am. It all depends upon when you work best. I work best first thing in the morning then I get a second wind later in the afternoon. Normally, I need my coffee first before I do anything. Weekends you have hour increments and not as many.

Day-Pages

Each day has a place for Top Priorities, Secondary Priorities and other. You also have a section for Vision, Purpose and Action. All these are necessary if you want to remain focused and totally on task. This is something I definitely needed as I’m always at my best when I plan. So I ordered it.

Priority-Page

The bad thing was that I had to wait a couple of weeks before it would be hand delivered to me. I decided I’d use those weeks for reading, watching movies or shows, critiquing and trying to do some organization. This plan worked pretty well since it was still very hot. At least for a while, then the rains came. Sigh.

Finally, the day arrived where I was getting my planner. My anticipation level was high and I wanted to get my hands on it to get planning. The first thing when I got it was I marveled at its size as it was twice as big as I thought it would be. This is good since I wanted lots of room to put items down. I felt energized and somehow accomplished. I was holding in my hands the instrument needed to take my writing career to an even higher, more focused level. I loved the feeling just holding it gave me.

I thanked my friend for delivering it and put it in my backpack. Pulling it out once I was in my office, I realized I needed to clear a larger space for it. When my planner is open next to me is when I get the most from it so that I can frequently refer to it when I see myself deviating from it. Yes, there will be some days that it’s going to be too structured for me as I’m more of a free-bird type person. But for the long haul, this was definitely the way to go for me as it has already pulled me out of my funk, forcing me to embrace a wonderful well-planned future.

What about you? Do you need to plan major things out or can you accomplish your goals with little forethought? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ll keep everyone updated at my weekly blog column just how using the planner is going, My So Called Writing Life, and hopefully, some of you will join me there.

Until next time…

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.

A New Year’s Reflections

Here it is January again, when one’s thoughts turn reflective. Last year around this time I posted some wishes for 2014, so I thought I’d check in and see how I did.

1. I will send out my queries. . .

In 2013 I won two contests, and one of them included a request for a partial and a full manuscript of Stirring Up the Viscount.  In January 2014 I sent the partial, waited six months, and received a “sorry, but you’re too dark for me” rejection. Which stung but kind of amused me.  In July I sent off the full MS to two other editors, and received two offers. I accepted the offer from The Wild Rose Press, and January 2015 will end with the release of Stirring Up the Viscount. Woot!

2. . . .and finish writing my second book.

I did this too, in December, and started writing a third.

3. I will attend the NEORWA conference in May and present a pitch to an agent.

Okay, didn’t do this, but this was because (a) there were no agents at the conference last year; and (b) it was my kid’s birthday and he would have killed me if I spent the weekend at a conference.

4. I will blog more regularly this year. Maybe.

I did this too, and started a new website. I also blog every month here.

5. I will upload that pile of old photos into Ancestry.com.

I uploaded some of them, but now I’m not entirely sure where I put the rest….

6. And exercise. I should probably exercise.

Um. No.

It is safe to say that, writing-wise, 2014 was awesome. 2014 was far from perfect in other respects, however, but I have high hopes for 2015.  My goals include publishing my second book (fingers crossed my editor likes it!), finishing and submitting two more books, going to RWA Nationals in New York, and going to England for *ahem* research.

And exercise. I should probably exercise.

What are your hopes for 2015?

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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