Writer.Chef.Romantic.

Oh, life is bigger

In Chef on September 21, 2017 at 5:00 am
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Chocolate cake filled with raspberry filling and pistachio buttercream. Sometimes I get to make new cakes at my new job!

Hi! I can’t believe it’s September, more than mid-September, and I haven’t blogged since May. WOWOWOW. My life kind of exploded in a good way, and although I’ve had so much to say and share, I keep falling asleep. When we put both our daughters in braces the same month, it became clear that we needed more money and better insurance. So I applied for full-time at the Wegmans bakery. Wegmans offered me a job as a bakery coordinator–yes, please!–so I got transferred to a new store and started on Memorial Day.

 

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I liked this cake (white with apple pie filling and cinnamon buttercream) but…

 

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It turned into this one, which my savvy managers think will sell better! It is also white cake, apple pie filling, and cinnamon buttercream, but we added a cinnamon glaze, caramel drizzle, and dried apple chips. We are going to call it “Apple-y Ever After! Of course!

I love the job and my new people, but starting any new job is rough. Last Saturday was the first Saturday I’ve had off since May. I’ve had to be more organized than EVER just to keep life rolling. I’m happy to say I haven’t lost touch with the book I’m writing, but it’s going sloooooowly. Slow is fine. Life is good. I’m tired. 

I’m also co-teaching a class two nights a week, which MAY have been a poor life decision because I literally have to explain to everyone dealing with me why I am a hot mess who can’t stop yawning and takes three full blinks to answer yes or no questions.

Work. Eat. Sleep. Write. Text. Write everything down. Yoga. Kiss the kids. Love the husband. Shower. (Don’t forget to shower.)

A new normal is emerging.

Happy September! I’m back! 🙂

bottoms-up-webOH! I’m making BOTTOMS UP free for a little bit, Amazon only. I’m experimenting with marketing on KDP Select. I suck at marketing! LOL. The new job threw a kink in my plan to improve my business skill set. I figured it couldn’t hurt. So if you haven’t read it, and you want to take a walk on the wild side, grab it and have a good time. 😉

 

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A Promise of Fire

In Romantic on May 17, 2017 at 9:18 am

The sun is out today, and I might not need a sweatshirt…maybe. It’s been a chilly spring. Brrrrrrr!

Anyway, here’s what’s on my mind today: a writer friend posted on FB about how she’s DNFing (DNF=did not finish) a ton of books lately. I’m in the same boat. Discoverability is really hard for readers AND writers right now. I desperately want good books to read, but I don’t know where to find them. I want readers to find MY books (which I think are very good, OF COURSE), but I don’t know how to make them get discovered other than by spending a ton of money on promotion that likely won’t work. (This is why I have a day job! I love my day job.)

It seems like the best way to make money writing is to publish a lot of books so that you always have something new to talk about on social media. However, fast books are often like fast food for me. They hit the spot, but I hate myself for reading them. For example, I just read a book by a popular and edgy NYT bestselling author. The writing was great. The voice and heroine were engaging, but the plot was THIN, people. The conflict existed only in the most basic sense: past relationships made them wary. At the end, the hero and heroine decided the problems keeping them apart weren’t really problems at all.

Oh.

Yes, I felt sick. And I wanted to post a review pointing out that although compromise is a good way to solve problems, the change has to actually be CHANGE, not just changing your mind. Anyway, it felt rushed, and I was annoyed. A good editor should point out all that stuff, so the author can beef it up. The book was almost good, but now I probably won’t pick up another one by that author. So now what do I read?

Honestly, I’ve been visiting my beautiful bookshelf and re-reading books I love. I’m awaiting WHITE HOT by Ilona Andrews and HEART ON FIRE, the third book in the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet. Have you discovered Amanda Bouchet? If not, let me introduce you. I was on FB and a friend recommended her first book, A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles). Because personal recommendations are one sure-fire way to find good books, I got it out of the library. I LOVED it, bought it on Amazon and pre-ordered the second book, Breath of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles) which I think was coming out a YEAR after the first (YAY! A slow book! And double yay because by the time I read Book 1, I only had to wait a few months for BREATH OF FIRE, Book 2). And now I’m waiting for Book 3, Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles). Another year, but January 2nd will be aaaaaaawesome!

So A PROMISE OF FIRE starts in a medieval-like times traveling circus where the performers have magic powers. Holy crap, what a great premise. As it turns out, the heroine has super-crazy jacked-up power and she’s HIDING from very mysterious bad people. She displays her power in front of a dangerous, sexy dude who throws her on his horse and takes off with her, and she spends the next good bit of the book physically TIED to him, so she won’t run away. The world building is awesome, the sexual tension is crazy. (Full disclosure, IMHO they should have gotten a lot busier, a lot faster, but I’m kind of book slutty that way.) There’s a huge mystery going on about her family (oh, I love that family shit) and her powers, and although it doesn’t get resolved in the first book, I did NOT feel cheated. The hook for Book 2 was baited in a non-annoying way. And the hook for Book 3 is AH-MAZING. I cannot wait.

And in the middle of all this book love, I did what I sometimes do when I find an author I LOVE: I wrote a fan letter. Bouchet’s book seemed to be doing really well. It had good enough buzz that people were personally recommending it on FB. And she writes for Sourcebooks Casa (who published my books SCRUMPTIOUS and LUSCIOUS). I wanted to reach out and say, “Great job! You are rocking your debut!” As a former debut author, I know how it feels to start this whole gig with high hopes, and I wanted to express my appreciation for everything she was doing to bring great books into the world.

GUESS WHAT???

She wrote me back, and I soon discovered she was as lovely and magical as her books. It’s the crunchy nuts on top of the turtle sundae when authors are personally awesome! So I asked her to say a little something about her books that I could share with all of you on my blog. Something inspiring. Or something about her inspiration. Because we all need that. We do. Here’s what the uber-talented Amanda Bouchet wanted to say to YOU:

Cat, the heroine in A Promise of Fire, is the real inspiration behind the novel and what ended up turning into The Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy. A feisty, dark-haired woman with magic to die (and kill) for was all I really had in mind when I started writing. I couldn’t get this character out of my head—spirited, snarky, powerful, but also damaged and with layers and layers of hidden doubts and fears. Cat herself and the opening circus scene, where her friends are performing with all sorts of spectacular magical talents, were so vivid in my head that I had to write something down. I had no idea where I was going with it when I started writing, but I knew there was a story there. In fact, I abandoned a paranormal romance I’d been working on for more than two years because Cat was so insistent that I tell her story instead!

And I, personally, am so glad she did. I highly recommend you buy all of her books and have yourself a wonderful time. Here’s a link to the series: The Kingmaker Chronicles (3 Book Series).

SO HOW DO YOU DISCOVER BOOKS? WHAT IS YOUR LATEST, GREATEST FIND? Please, for the love of all the book loving souls looking for great reads, share your wily methods and favorite discoveries! 🙂

My latest LOVE! (Planners, Personalities, and BIG ideas)

In Obliger on April 5, 2017 at 10:30 am

Hi there!

When I think about writing a new blog, there’s always this little person in the back of my mind (It’s not just a voice. It’s a whole person, rolling her eyes.) telling me no one cares about that topic. So I go on with my life without writing the blog because my life is crazy busy and super interesting (even if only to me). Of course, there’s another person (This one has her hands on her hips and is sighing and shaking her head SO SADLY.) who thinks I should blog at LEAST twice a week to build my author brand so I don’t disappear while I’m writing this monster of a book that eats my heart every day. So I go on with my life without writing the blog because that person is nuts and there are too many good books to read to spend that much time writing.

But I like to SHARE, so when I have something I think you guys might love, I blog.

So…one great thing that has made my life love-lier IS:

My Me & My Big Ideas planner. No. Really.

I’m not a planner. I’m not. (I wasn’t.) I’m not crafty. At. All. And I couldn’t understand why all my author friends were talking about stickers and posting pictures of their planners. It seemed so silly. My author friends are smart. And have super busy lives, and…stickers? Whaaaaaaat?

But then (in January) I somehow came across a Me & My Big Ideas Planner on the internet, and people, they have videos of each planner, so you can look through them and see all the inspiring quotes. Inspiring quotes are something I can really get behind. Because WORDS! My particular favorite in this planner is “No grit. No pearl.” But I also like the one about balance. Of course.

I really want to finish this book.

So I got to thinking, “What if I got a cool planner and put all the stuff I usually write on post-it notes each DAY, and kept track of my life in ONE place? And then what if I figured out a reasonable way to really focus and prioritize and delight in my writing projects with the whole YEAR in sight and not just one DAY scribbled on a post-it that ends up mashed and lost in a pocket somewhere? What if? What if I were somehow ACCOUNTABLE?”

The eye-roller told me I’ve bought planners before and I will waste money AND fail.

HOWEVER, I’m bigger than the eye-roller, and I’ve learned a little something about my personality type, thanks to that little trip to Palm Springs with my high school BFF last year. (Thanks, Erin!) I’m an obliger. Which means I find it easy to keep promises to others…but not to myself. (Find YOUR personality type here! There’s an article and a video with links to Gretchen Rubin’s site where you can take a quiz. See if it helps you reach your GOALS. It’s given me a lot to think about this year.)

So I found a way to make this planner thing work for my obliging self…by dragging my friend Jessica Topper into it. She’s not a planner, either, and frankly, she’s a little stuck on her book, like me. She said no, because non-planner people are resistant. But I was enthusiastic, and eventually she was as seduced and intoxicated by the idea of making things happen as I was. Plus, I made it an early birthday present, so she had nothing to lose. LOL. (See, there’s persuasion and then there’s bullying. I’m an Aries. It’s a fine line. But so is she, so it’s all good. I got her the same one I got myself because you should give other people things you want for yourself, right?) We decided to meet on convenient Sundays and plan/dream/brainstorm and keep our big ideas present in our lives instead of hidden on post-it notes jammed in forgotten pockets.

And I think it’s working! I have a long running list of things I check off or transfer from week to week. I write down the appointments and work things that usually hover in the back of my mind making me uncomfortable and I get them done. On the creative side, I can’t avoid the fact that I want to get the book done because there are all these cute little stickers cheering me on. It’s so easy for me to prioritize the work and family goals and ignore my creative goals (because they’re only important to me). Planning is helping me do ALL the things, and meeting my creative goals is DELIGHTING me, and talking to Jess makes the things HAPPEN. Don’t tell anyone, (especially the eye-roller) but I’ve planned to finish the monster book THIS MONTH.)

It’s Jess’s birthday today and mine on Saturday, so we are celebrating, planning, writing, having lunch, and going to yoga. Banner day! So happy birthday to us and to all the other April babies out there! Do you use a planner? Does it make you HAPPY? Which one?