Monday, December 2, 2013

Full steam ahead, or scale back??

The holidays are always a busy time of year. If you guys are like me, the weekends are jam-packed with parties and holiday merriment. It's such a fun time and we always make so many memories. In my opinion, life is meant to be enjoyed, and I will take advantage of every opportunity I can :)

But sometimes it is tough to find time for everything.

Last week I wrote Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. But then Turkey Day hit and it was just so hard to find time for myself. Now I stare down this week. My kids are off Thursday and Friday for parent teacher conferences. I always struggle to write when they are home. But on top of that, we're hosting an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party on Saturday. I have a ton to do this week.

So it makes me wonder what others do this time of year. Do you charge forward, full steam ahead? Or do you scale back and set a slower pace?

If I had a job outside of my home, I'd still have to go every day despite what I had going on in my personal life. I think many writers, including myself, treat their writing like a job outside the home and set specific hours for it. But since I do not work a traditional job, I enjoy the perk of making my own hours and taking a day off (or a week) when I need to. I've often heard the statement- "Real writers write every day." I consider myself a "real" writer even though I don't write every day. I have a family and a life. I adore writing, but everyone needs days off.

This week I definitely have to scale back, considerably. For the rest of December, I will still be moving forward, but I will not hesitate to take days off when I need. Cause I know come January, when the holidays and hoopla are over, I can get back on my horse. I have a very good work ethic and can pump out over 50K in a month when I set my mind to it. So I don't see anything wrong with taking it slow for a month :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ignoring your social media is worse than not having it to begin with

I have a HUGE pet peeve. People ignoring their social media. 

I know not everyone has the time to be online all day every day, but as a small business or a self-employed person like a writer/author, you NEED to check it periodically. If not once a day, then at least every other day. The world uses social media as a major way of communication. If you ignore it, you're ignoring possible customers. 

Little story here. A few weeks ago I was helping some friends collect donations for a fundraiser we were organizing. The proceeds went to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a VERY well-known hospital in our area, as well as the entire country. To save time, and to make it easier on us, I sent messages through Facebook to about 20 local businesses asking for donations. Guess how many responded. 4. The rest hadn't even read the message. (Love how FB lets you see when the message has been viewed.)

So…I don't know about you guys, but that leaves an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Regardless if they would have donated or not, all I cared about was a reply. I could have been asking an important question about their business. Business owners need to accept the fact that customers reach out to them in more ways than just the telephone these days. 

In my opinion, if you have no intention of keeping up with your social media, don't have it at all. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Technology in Contemporary Books

Tonight I'm hosting Chick Lit Chat on Twitter!! Come on by at 8 EST and use the hashtag #chicklitchat! Tonight's topic is technology in contemporary works!

My topic for tonight came from an old episode of Friends. I am a huge fan of the show and I'm in the process of watching the entire series from start to finish on DVD. In one of the early season's episodes, there was a big problem when some of the friends were supposed to be somewhere and they weren't and no one knew where they were and it turned into a huge problem. (I'm blanking on exact details, since I watched this episode a couple months ago.) But anyway, I sat here thinking to myself, "This would't even be an issue today since everyone has cell phones."

This made me think about technology, or lack there of, and it's place in contemporary work.

Obviously when this episode of Friends was made, cell phones existed, but not like they do in today's society. And even in later episodes--I'm now on season 9-- they all have cell phones, but they are old clamshell style. No smartphones. It sure dates the show. Which is perfectly fine for a TV series. But a book?

I see distinct advantages to leaving out as much technology as you can. Authors want their books to live on and be read for years and years to come. No one wants a reader to read it and think the same things I thought while rewatching an old TV episode.

But on the other hand, leaving technology out isn't the best option either. It's a part of our lives. Most people use cell phones, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, etc…on a daily basis, not to mention computers, TVs, DVD, DVR, the way we listen to music. All these things evolve so fast. Something cutting edge now will be outdated in two years. I even think about a newbie writer working on their first novel. Usually it takes a while…years even. By the time it's done, the technology in that book is most definitely outdated.

But technology is a part of life, and leaving it out can make a contemporary piece of fiction feel very unrealistic.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Author Spotlight! Meet Jennifer Snow!

Today I'm celebrating the release of Jennifer Snow's newest book, The Trouble with Mistletoe!

Such an adorable cover!!!

Jennifer sat down to answer some questions! I love getting to know authors!!

1: I see you write contemporary romance. Can I ask why? What do you love about it?

I love sweet contemporary romance because of the challenge of creating an emotionally impactful story without the steamy love scenes or the extra intriguing elements such as vampires. Just the love story of two people with ordinary problems told in a unique way.

Awesome! Love it!

2: You’ve written a few holiday themed books. I’ve always thought of writing one, but just haven’t yet. What draws you to that? 

I think Christmas is the most romantic time of year, so for me it’s the perfect setting for a novel. The themes of forgiveness and second chances and new love just seem so much more magical when set with a holiday backdrop.

Christmas is such a magical time! The perfect setting for this type of story!

3: Tell me a little of what inspired The Trouble with Mistletoe.

The Trouble With Mistletoe is a story about getting a second chance at love and I think there are many people who remember their first love…and perhaps some who wouldn’t mind another shot at it, so this story came from a ‘what if…’ moment.

Ah…the memories of a first love :)

4: I love a return home story, especially set in a small town. Do you prefer writing small town or big city settings? Why? 

I love both-I have a few stories set in New York and a new WIP set in Hollywood…but there’s something special about small towns-the sense of community that appeals to most readers. Small towns-for me-are more challenging to write as I try to make each scene exciting to read…so coming up with unique things for my characters to do instead of filling 380 pages with ‘kitchen scenes’ can be hard lolJ

I love writing both too :) I was just in Hollywood and decided I definitely have to write a book set there some day soon!

5: Doing anything fun to celebrate the release of The Trouble with Mistletoe?

YES! I am holding a murder mystery/cocktail party for my family and friends. The premise of the mystery is a book launch party where the author’s agent is murdered (sorry Stephany Evans lol) so it fit the celebration perfectly and it should be a lot of fun.

Ooooh! That sounds really fun!!!!

6: I love to learn about authors and what they do beside writing. What are your hobbies? 

I do some freelance contract work for several magazines as well as writing and then raising my three year old keeps me busy-he is my hobby lolJ

Ha! The kids definitely keep us busy!!

7: And how about some favorites! Feel free to explain!

-       Drink- Coffee-8-10 cups a day (I wish I was exaggerating.)
-       Appetizer- Chicken fingers
-       Band- I like a lot of solo country artists, but my favorite band would be Pearl Jam.
-       Song- Changes all the time, but currently it is Beat of the Music by Brett Elridge
-       TV show- Beauty and the Geek or Faceoff
-       Movie- While You Were Sleeping-nineties Sandra Bullock Christmas romance.
-       Vacation spot- Las Vegas-I try to go once a year for the shows and the exciting night life atmosphere.

Cool! I just visited Vegas for the first time this past summer! Very fun! And I'm all about 90's movies!!         

Thanks so much for being here Jennifer!!

Visit Jennifer's website for info on all her books! Click here!! And visit her on Facebook and Twitter

Check out an excerpt from Jennifer's new book!

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jennifer Snow

            Victoria’s gaze fell to his left hand. No wedding band. Her relief both irritated and confused her.
            “Well, we’re not actually interested in owning this store,” she explained. “My company’s client ran into complications obtaining a permit to build one of their own, with Legend’s still doing business nearby.”
            “Well, I guess they’re out of luck. I just bought the place and I plan on keeping it.” Luke collected the discarded packing paper from the new stock boxes. He crumpled the sheets and tossed them into a wastebasket near the counter.
She narrowed her eyes. “I’m surprised you’re interested in owning a run-down sporting goods store.” The Luke she used to know would rather remodel the old-fashioned buildings in the downtown core, not own a retail store in one of them. He’d always had a talent for designing and building things. When they were kids, his derby cars were always the best in the race and she remembered the lemonade stand he’d made for her from the wood left over from building his sister’s treehouse.
            “We haven’t spoken in a long time. Maybe I’m not the same guy you remember.” Pulling a Swiss Army knife out of his jeans, he tore into the remaining cardboard boxes, breaking them down.
Victoria had noticed the changes in him, despite her best efforts. Time had been good to him. He was bigger now, muscular and slightly wider around the waist. No longer the physique of a struggling, young, architectural student. His face showed signs of maturity, but the fine lines around his mouth and eyes only enhanced his looks.
Luke straightened and his gaze met hers. “Besides, this store has a history in the community. That means something to most of us.”
            Of course. Luke had worked in the store every summer when they were teenagers. His interest in preserving it made sense. “Okay, well I guess we should get to work.” She faked a smile, forcing her professionalism. She didn’t need or want any more time to get to know this man over again. What she wanted was for him to sign her contract so she could get out of Brookhollow. “I’ll have an offer by Wednesday, but we should go over the preliminary paperwork as soon as possible.” She scanned the store for a place to lay out her documents. “The major chain store interested in purchasing Legend’s…”
Luke turned off the lights and unplugged the strand of multicolored Christmas lights draped across the window. Only the glow from the pole lamp outside illuminated them.
 “Do you prefer we do this in the dark?” she asked sarcastically.
He slipped his coat on and wrapped his scarf around his neck. “I have dinner plans.” He stood next to the door.
The familiar scent of his musky cologne made her pulse race. She suddenly remembered the nights she’d fallen asleep in his T-shirt, when he’d been away at college. “Tomorrow, then.” She stepped out into the frigid air. “I’ll come by in the morning,” she said through the icy burst of wind and snow. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a silver monogrammed cardholder.  She popped it open with her freshly manicured fingernails and slid one of her cards free. Her hand shook as she handed it to Luke.
“Your card?” he asked.
 “It has my cell number on it.” Victoria’s teeth chattered.
“Victoria, this is Brookhollow.” He laughed. “I could stand in the center and call to you, and wherever you are, you’d hear me.”
The rich, deep sound of his laughter caught her off guard. Not at all the boyish laugh she remembered.
“What?” He asked, giving her a puzzled look.
Her cheeks heated and she looked away. “Anyway, let’s not test that theory. Use the cell number.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I like stats!

I have to say, I'm kinda nerdy about this kind of thing. I really love reading stats on certain things, especially the publishing world and writing. I love when agents and editors post their stats on how many queries they receive and how many of those actual get requested and how many actually get contracted. Fascinating stuff.

I'm also intrigued by writers and word count, maybe because I do it too. I keep track of every word I write. I love to track my progress and see how long it takes me to write X amount of words. I like to impress myself. I like to know what I am capable of. I think all writers should keep track and see what they can do, and what they could do if they pushed themselves harder. NaNoWriMo taught me I can write far more than I thought.

My newest book, the second book in my Classy 'n Sassy series, titled Size Matters, which was contracted by Simon & Schuster for their Pocket Star imprint, was officially started on July 7th, not long after I received word that the book was officially under contract. Before that I had an outline, a very detailed scene by scene outline, and maybe the first scene written, but that was it. I'd always hoped to write the book, so I was prepared. ;) But I did have to alter the outline a bit before I started. And of course my summer was hectic this year, as most usually are with two kids home for the summer, so I didn't get a ton done before we went on our family vacation, and I don't think much of anything when we came home, with getting ready for school to start.

Anyhoo.... here are the stats:

7/7-9/4 (1st day of school): 19,527 words.

That was a period of 60 days, with an average of 325 words a day! LOL! But obviously I did not write for many of those days--only 19, actually. So, I averaged 1027 words on the days I actually did write. Whew! That sounds better! But still far below what I am capable of.

Once school started, I was on a mission. I had an official deadline of November 1st. I wanted the book done by October 15th so I had time to edit and perfect it. I figured out what had to be done to reach that goal (1500 word a day, EVERY day) and I put my fingers to the keyboard.

9/4-10/8: 54,027 words

At that point the book was not actually done, but I needed to take a break and go back and reread the whole thing before I could write out the end. For some reason, I can never ever plot out the very end.

So, over that period of time--35 days--I wrote on average 1543 words a day. But I did not write every day, even though I tried. Life certainly gets in the way sometimes. :) Of those 35 days, I only wrote on 25 of them. That's an average of 2161 words a day.

Over 54k in 25 days. Not too shabby :)

But I also must note the retreat I went on during that time. :) Every year my RWA chapter goes away to an adorable B&B for the weekend for nothing by writing. It's awesome. This year we brought in a speaker for a workshop, and that was really cool. So for those three days, I did get more writing time than normal. I wrote over 8500 words just at the retreat.

The end of this book was tough for me, so it took longer than I had anticipated. But I got it to my agent and she read it, sent it back with some minor suggestions. I made them, resubmitted to her, and she sent it to my editor at S&S last night :) Man, that felt great!

Fingers crossed my editor likes it!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Museful Monday installation!

Today I'm over at Sandra Sookoo's blog talking about professionalism online and sharing the story of the incident that irked me and spurred the inspiration for this post!

Click here!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Everything is bad....m'kay?

Seems every single day I see posts in my Facebook and Twitter feeds talking about something else that is bad for you.

Sugar is bad. Sugar substitutes are bad.

Milk is bad, unless it's hormone free.

Gluten is bad.

Carbs are bad.

Fried foods are bad.

Any and all packaged processed foods are bad.

Red meat is bad. Meat fed with the wrong food is bad.

Even vegetables and fruits are bad...the ones that aren't organic. And now even those are iffy. I read an article where a farmer stated that no produce is completely "organic" and the pests and diseases on produce grown without pesticides can be just as dangerous as produce grown with pesticides.

All I hear/read everyday is how everything is bad bad bad. Makes my head spin. I have no clue what is good anymore. And I really have no clue what is best for me, my family, our future. But everywhere I look are people and articles telling me what I'm doing is matter what I do.

So this is how I live my life- moderation. With anything in life, moderation is key. I'm not gonna give up sugar, cause I have a crazy sweet tooth! I'm not gonna give up dairy. I love cheese! I won't give up carbs and gluten cause I cannot live without pasta and bread and crackers! I won't give up friend foods cause they're damn tasty! I won't give up processed foods cause sometimes I need something quick and easy. I won't give up meat because I like it. I won't give up fruit and vegetables, because, duh, they're good for you. But I try not to over do it on any of these things. I don't let my kids eat potato chips every day for snack and we rarely have soda in the house. I don't buy canned soup or Hamburger Helper and instead find recipes for homemade versions. But I do occasionally buy Ramen noodles and boxed macaroni and cheese. It's a cheap and quick lunch. I try very hard to feed my family healthy low calorie meals that are good for them, but it doesn't always happen. We like to go out for pizza every once in a while.

Part of it is a financial thing too. Organic, carb-free, hormone-free, organic-fed, non-processed foods are not cheap. Our paychecks only go so far. I can't afford to double my grocery bill. And some weeks are tighter than others. So I do the best I can and keep the bad stuff to a minimum.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Yet another reason......

......why I love writing and reading romance........

I never leave feeling sad.

So, last night we watched Gatsby. I'd been wanting to see it for a while. I've never read the book or saw any of the other movie adaptions, but I did know a tiny bit about the story. It was a good movie with a good cast and lots of pretty things to look at. That era fascinates me. But the movie left me feeing sad. It did not end happily ever after. And I am starting to realize I crave that when I watch movies or read books. I don't like walking away sad.

Click away now if you haven't seen the movie or know nothing about the story.

Jay Gatsby is a complicated character with many flaws. He's mysterious at first, but then we get to know a little about him. He's a man in love, who has done a whole lot to make himself into the man he wants to be, the man he's dreamed of being, the man he thinks she deserves. Everything he did was for her. To prove he was good enough for her. I loved the scene when he was getting ready to see her for the first time in five years....the nerves. So adorable! My romantic heart went all a flutter :)

I liked Daisy at first....I felt sympathy for her. A girl stuck in a marriage, knowing her husband is fooling around and unable to do anything about it. She still loves Gatsby too, and my heart swooned, hoping they would figure it out and be together...finally.

But she didn't love him. Not really. She let him take the blame for killing that girl, a chivalrous act that backfired and got him killed. And she'd had no intention of being with him. She walked away scott free. Nothing he did was good enough for her.

The movie ended and I just felt sad.

This is why I love romance. Love always wins out. I never finish a movie or book and feel sad. There is far too much sadness in the world....everywhere I look. I want to believe that there is happiness in our world. A cynic will say romance stories are unrealistic. I disagree. I believe true love exists. It's not always easy, but it is there for those who want to work hard for it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book settings- Big City vs. Small Town

When I sat down and started crafting my first book, I naturally set it in a city setting, since that is where I grew up. It was comfortable for me. I went on to write a few more books, also set in cities. The fast-pace excitement of a city setting fit the story.

I wrote a novella and set it in a small town. I wanted to try it out. And I liked it. It was interesting to see the drama that unfolded with the quirky characters you find in that setting. The gossip mill never stops churning! It was addicting and I went on to write a few more books set in small towns.

There is so much to love about a book set in a city, especially if it's a well known major city, like NYC. I set my Karma books there. There is so much excitement in a big city, so much going on. There are all kinds of ways the setting can affect the plot and characters. I have been to NY a couple times, so I can envision it from experience, but there is soooooo much online about NYC that the research is so simple to do. When you set a book in a real city, you have to make sure the details are accurate and with a big city, it's very easy to do. And I think readers enjoy reading about these places. They may be places they might not ever get to visit in real life.

Small towns are so fun to write about. I tend to completely make mine up though, and the crazy quirky people who live there. There is a certain charm to a small town, quaint and cute, but that doesn't mean there isn't drama. My husband grew up in a small town, and I see how everyone knows everything about everyone who lives there. It's hard to keep things secret, and that can definitely add to the drama in a book.

Tonight I am hosting this week's #ChickLitChat on Twitter and my topic is city vs small town. What we love, what we hate, how where we grew up or live currently affects our opinions. Come on by and share your opinions!! 8 PM EST, use the hashtag to join in!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

BIG NEWS!!! It's happening!

Back in like 2005 or so, when I started writing what ended up being a crazy 130,000 word monstrosity,  I had no thoughts of my writing future. I was just writing cause I had an idea and it sounded interesting and it was fun. I just wanted to see if I could do it. If I could write an entire book. And I did. It sucked--I later realized-- but I'd done it. It was then I realized I wanted to share my words with the world. I liked that people enjoyed the story I came up with. It made me feel really good and I wanted to keep doing it. Keep getting that high.

So I kept writing, and took each step I had to take to get myself where I needed to be to make this new dream a reality. I read, I learned, I made mistakes. But I never stopped moving forward. I kept on working. I knew my dream would come true if I just kept working hard. I could only get better, right? And getting better would get me where I wanted to go.

I knew 2013 was going to be a good year. On New Year's day came an offer of representation by my now agent Brittany Booker, for my new book- Try Me On for Size. It's really an amazing feeling when someone else believes in your book as much as you do. This book is different than anything else I've ever written, and it really shows my voice and style. Its sassy and sexy, but funny and heartwarming...and let's not forget dramatic. She sent it right out on submission, and it garnered lots of requests. But the rejections were all the same. So we made some changes. And that did it.

I'm so so proud to announce I have signed a TWO BOOK contract for Try Me On for Size and it's sequel, titled Size Matters, with Abby Zidle of Pocket Star, an imprint of Simon & Schuster!! TMOFS is estimated to release in summer of 2014 :) So so excited!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Learning the publishing business

Before getting publishing is a lot like going back to school. Check out my post about it!!

Click here!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I hate neglected blogs :(

I hate clicking someone's blog and seeing the last post was months, or even years ago. And here I am...doing just that :(

It's been a hell of a summer. That's all I can say. It's been one thing after another. Two kids keep me busy. I can't imagine what bigger families are like. Yikes! Do mom and dad ever get a spare moment to breathe? LOL!

Lots of exciting writing-related things going on too. I still can't reveal much yet, but let's just say, it's what I've been working the last 5+ years for. I still can't believe it's actually happening. Details to come soon. I promise!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Yum Yum Yum!!!

Today I'm celebrating my friend Sandra Sookoo and her newest release! Take it away Sandra!

Thanks for hosting me today, Stephanie, and thanks to the readers who’ve joined up as part of the Hollywood Dreams and Buttercream virtual blog tour. This is stop #4. Be sure to visit all stops to better your chance of winning swag!

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Sandra Sookoo. I write romantic fiction, but over the course of the last year, I’ve primarily focused on contemporary and Regency romance. My latest book is a sweet contemporary.

Let’s move onto the interview portion of this post!

SH: I know you're a foodie, so parts of this had to be a piece of cake to write! How fun was it incorporating the food into this book?

SS: Oh, it’s always fun when I include food in my stories… which I tend to do on a regular basis LOL I always tell people food and writing are my life, so that’s what I’ll talk about. The trouble with that is sometimes it makes me hungry.

SH: Did you do any fun research for this book? I assume cake had to be consumed to get the scenes just right ;)

SS: There’s always research, no matter what type of book I’m writing, but for this one, I had to research cake decorating, what sort of materials were used in that sort of thing, fillings for cakes, etc. Which is funny, because back in childhood, I either wanted to be a cake decorator or a writer. Since decorating cakes is way beyond me (unless you want them to lean or look like a hot mess) I chose writing.

SH: I see this is a sweet romance. You often vary your heat level. Which level is your favorite to write?

SS: That depends on what I’m writing. I’ll admit, there are times when writing hot sex gets to be wearing, but beyond that, I do think that sexual tension is needed no matter what sort of book I’m writing. I like to be able to give my readers enough choices to keep everyone happy.

SH: I know you like to bake, so what's your favorite dessert?

SS: Probably cookies or cheesecake. Would you believe I’m not a real big fan of eating cake? Usually, when I do make cake, I give it away.

SH: And I also know you're always cooking awesome things to eat for dinner (thanks to your Twitter posts!) Do you come up with the meals on your own or follow recipes?

SS: Much of the time I research recipes. I call up a few that look interesting, study the ingredients and the methods, then alter them to suit my tastes or those of my husband. Cooking is great because it allows for greater creativity. Baking is a science where one needs to be exact.

Here’s a quick recipe for chocolate buttercream:

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter flavor Crisco
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening with mixer and a paddle attachment until fluffy and light.
Add vanilla, powdered sugar, cocoa, salt and milk.
Beat until smooth. It should be fairly stiff but still spreadable. If too runny, add more sugar. If not smooth enough, add more milk.

Have I caught your interest? Here’s the blurb for Hollywood Dreams and Buttercream:

Sometimes the sweetest things in life don’t have anything to do with dessert.

Gwynn Flannigan wants respect from her father and freedom from her big, loud family. The icing on her cake would be to win a decorating competition hosted by her favorite food magazine writer. Cole Marshall's one outlet from the stress of business life is writing his Cooking in the Buff feature. Who cares if he never has time for fun?

The answer for them both lies in the deep freeze at Sweet Endings, the struggling ice cream shop Gwynn manages and the one property Cole needs to secure a big promotion. He’s stuck in Madrigal, Indiana to unravel a knot of family drama that drives him crazy.

Things heat between Gwynn and Cole on the competition floor when Cole’s alter ego is revealed.  Cake and accusations fly while dreams and goals are left crumbling. In order to balance family, business, and love, Gwynn and Cole will need to work together and become partners—in more ways than one.

You can purchase this book at the following locations:

Desert Breeze Publishing: Click here!

Amazon: Click here!

All Romance ebooks: Click here!

Barnes and Noble: Click here!

Ibookstore: Click here!

Have we connected on social media yet? If not, here’s my info. I’d love to talk to you!

Believing is Seeing blog:

Giveaway information on this post: One lucky random commenter will receive a Hollywood Dreams and Buttercream swag pak. Be sure to leave your contact information.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Making Plans

I'm a planner by nature. I thoroughly enjoy the process, whether it be for a vacation or a party, I really just thrive on organizing and researching, making choices, bringing everything together. Which surprises me that I started out writing as a panser, but in the end I did reform and become a plotter.

Thus far in my career, I have gotten by on making my own deadlines. I never had to finish a book by a certain date. It was all on me to make the plans. And I've been pretty damn good about sticking to them. It's really hard to be motivated to work hard to get something done by a certain day when no one is breathing down your neck. If you fail, there's no one to hold you accountable. But I do hold myself accountable. I mean, no, I don't reprimand myself or anything...that would just be weird. But I do feel pretty crappy when I let myself down.

I made a new plan for the rest of summer vacation and for the month of September. At the start of this week, I had four full weeks until we leave for our big California/Vegas adventure. I'm currently working on the second book in my Classy n' Sassy series. I don't have an official deadline for it, so I made my own. I want it done by September 30th.

In order to do that, I have decided to aim for 5,000 words a week until we leave. That's 20,000 over the course of 4 weeks. Now, my normal weekly goal is 10,000 words. But in the summer when the kids are home and we have activities and things going on, it's just not an attainable goal. I would be setting myself up for disappointment if I tried to reach that. So I made a far more accessible goal, and if I do more, fantastic. After those 4 weeks, we go on our trip, and I've allotted for recuperation when we get back. I plan to get back on the wagon on Tuesday the 3rd of September with a proper 10K a week word count goal. That should give me another 40,000-50,000 by the end of the month and should finish the book.

I also have a writing retreat in September. My local RWA chapter will be spending the weekend at a fabulous B&B. Last time we did this I wrote 11K+ over the course of 3 days.

So there's my plan! Do you make plans? Do you have deadlines put on you by others or just yourself? Are you good at meeting them?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Writer friends are the best!

I don't think I writer can truly succeed without a great support group. Writers support each other like no body else can! Check out my post today on Seeing is Believing!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Want some inside info??

Today I'm featured over at Sarah Says Read Romance! I'm talking about my book, A Bitch Named Karma, and some inside info on how it was born :) Check it out!!

Click here!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Changing your mind???

The older I get, the wiser I get. There is something to that old saying- With age comes wisdom. It's so totally true. That's not to say I make all the right decisions all the time. But I think I am becoming wiser in my old age.

And in this whole getting wiser thing, it's often happened where I have changed my mind about something. I learn, I grow, I realize things I once thought either don't apply anymore or I realize I was just wrong. Does that make me a hypocrite? I have seen people make declarations about many random things, to only do the opposite later on. Are they hypocrites too...or were they just closed minded before? As we get older do our eyes and minds learn to be more open?

The older I get, another saying makes more and more sense- Never say Never. (And no...that is not a Bieber reference in the least!) You never know where life is going to take you and things you thought you would never ever do, somehow don't seem so far-fetched anymore.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Denying Yourself

I've always tried to live my life in a way that makes me happy. I love my husband and my kids, but they are not my entire life. I need time for myself. I need to do what I enjoy, even if no one else does. I think it is very important to be happy. If you hate your job, look for a new one. If you hate your body, work hard to fix it. If you're in a bad relationship, kick the loser to the curb. If you feel bored all the time, try new things until you find something you enjoy. Life is short, far too short, to spend any of it miserable.

I know a lot of people who deny themselves things. I just don't get why. I'm always being told how it always looks like I am having so much fun. I am. I am always doing fun things with my family and friends. I do things on my own that don't include my family. I like enjoying my life. I like experiencing all the things that are out there. I want to fill photo album after photo album with memories. I want to be 80 and look back and say "Damn, I had a great life!"

I've heard so many people say, "I wish I could do that." Well, you can. Just go out there and do it. Let the housework pile. Throw away all cares about looking stupid. Get the hubby to pitch in more and watch the kids. Or get mom and dad. Time ticks away fast and before you know it, twenty years have flown by.

Monday, June 17, 2013


It's finally time to reveal the winners from my Big Fabulous Summer Giveaway Extravaganza!!!!!!

First of all, I want to thank everyone who entered!! It means so much to me. I NEVER thought I'd have over 1000 entries for this giveaway!! :) I greatly appreciate everyone who helped spread the word about it and helped me make this fun giveaway a success!!!

Second, I need to make sure I explain to everyone that I did set up the contest in a way so that every person had the opportunity to earn many many entries, and continue earning them the entire length of the giveaway. And I also allowed for people to win more than one prize. It did happen, so there are a few winners who won several prizes. All I can say is that these people earned tons of entries by pimping the contest over and over again! So, it really does pay to keep at it!

So here we go!!

- $5 GC to Amazon or B&N, winner's choice: Shadow Kohler

- $10 GC to Amazon or B&N, winner's choice: Kassandra Appel

- Digital copies of my Karma books- A Bitch Named Karma and Karma Kameleon (in whichever format the winner chooses): Jessica Nollkamper

- Digital copy of my book Paradise Cove: Shadow Kohler

- Digital copy of my book Soap Dreams: Erika Lang

- Bath and Body Works Pocket Bacs Hand Sanitizer! Five winners, scent selected at random- Margarita, Pink Lemonade, Flip Flop Fruit, Wildberry, and Island Nectar. (US only.) : Amy Cavanaugh, Lori Tinkerbella, Sheri Vidal, Lauren Seiberling, and Heide Simon

- Nail buffers and Cake Batter lip balm! Two winners! (Each will win one buffer and one lip balm. US only.): Shadow Kohler and Lauren Seiberling

- Nail polish and polish remover pads! Two winners! (Each winner will receive one polish and one container of remover pads. US only.): Stephanie Jacob and Shadow Kohler

- A cool water bottle and box of yummy single serving iced tea packets! (US only): Erika Lang

I'll be emailing everyone soon!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to Twitter

I can't say I'm a pro at anything. I'm not real sure how anyone can say they are unless they've spent a long time learning the ins and outs of a certain thing. And even then, can a person truly know everything??

But anyway, I do feel like I have a decent handle on Twitter, even if I don't have thousands of followers.

So here's my basic little Twitter How-To!

I know it can be real intimidating for those who have never used Twitter before. I'm the kind of person who likes to get in and just start using something, figure it out as I go. I have always been a hands-on learner. I get bored reading too much text. I often skim. Which can be bad. I know I miss things. Once I get into something and if I hit a snag, then I will go back and read and figure it out. It's probably not a great learning strategy, but it works for me.

The first time I gave Twitter a go, I didn't really get it and didn't have the time to figure it out. So it lost luster fast. I gave it a second try and that's when I really figured it out. Here's what I've learned:

- Twitter is social media-emphasis on social- and it only works if you mix up your posts. It's very encouraged to mix business with pleasure. People want to connect, not just read promo. People will pay more attention to your promo if you have a personal relationship first.

- In relation to the above, many people on Twitter are not there to promote themselves. They are just there to socialize. They're not going to follow you if all you do is talk about your business stuff.

- Reply to other people's Tweets. Converse. I know it's not easy to chat with someone with a 140 character limit, but the more you do it, the better you become at keeping your thoughts brief and getting right to the point.

- Have a few laughs! People are always posting funny things. Twitter can be for fun, not just business purposes.

- Share other people's links, but don't go crazy. It's great to help friends out, but whether it's your own promo or promo for someone else, it's still promo.

- Don't go into it thinking you have nothing to say. Everyone has something to say.

- Use the search feature. If you're interested in a certain topic, search it. You'll be amazed at what you find. If you love knitting, you'll find other Twitterers who also love knitting. If you're a fan of a band, you can find others who are also.

- Use Twitter to connect with local stuff. Follow your newspaper's Twitter feed. Follow local organizations and businesses, sports teams, etc... I get much of my news updates from my Twitter feed and find out about local happenings that way too.

- And lastly, go ahead and follow celebrities! They rarely reply to you, but it really is interesting to get a glimpse into their lives. If you're into that sort of thing!

So there's my simple guide to Twitter! Hope it was helpful! And if you wnat to come check me out on Twitter, click here!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ever read a book so moving.... makes you cry? And cry in public???

With the invention of digital reading devices it's easier and more convenient than ever to read anywhere you want. I think people read more on the go since devices are so easy to transport. People read on their phones too, and everyone always has their phone on them. Whether they're on their commute, at the gym, at the doctor's office, I think more than ever, people are reading in public.

And depending on what you read, some of these books can be pretty darn emotional. I openly admit, I cry at sappy movies. I cry at sad movies. And of course, books too. Sometimes the stories of the characters are so emotional and overwhelming, I can't help the tears. It's only human to be affected in this way. Sometimes the stories hit close to home. Other times they restore faith in true love and happily ever afters.

I often read at the gym, while on the treadmill or cross ramp. I hate cardio machines. I prefer getting my cardio in enjoyable ways like Zumba. But there aren't classes everyday, so I do get on the machines too. But the most I can stand without something to keep me entertained is 5-10 minutes. So I started bringing my Kindle. It really makes the time fly by. One day I started a new book. By the end of chapter one there was a horrific car accident and a character died. Have you ever tried to keep your pace on a cross ramp while holding back sobs? Not an easy thing to do.

So how about you?? Ever been in public reading and unable to hold back the emotions??

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Live Life to the Fullest!

I recently saw this quote:

"Live like you will die tomorrow. Dream like you will live forever."

It's very powerful for me. Life can be so so short. I've had several people taken from my life far too early. People who never got the chance to marry or have children. People who never got to see their children grow up. People who never got the chance to meet their grandchildren. I try very hard to make our lives meaningful. Make memories with our kids. Enjoy each other. I try to keep our stress at a minimum so we spend more time smiling than frowning. There's no guarantees in life and the people I love can be gone at any minute. I need to make the most of my time with them now.

I think it's very important to make memories, be silly, do things that some people think you are too old for. Live your life and have no regrets. I don't want to look back when I'm 80 and wonder what I did with my time. I want photo albums filled with memories and smiling faces.

Obviously, if we truly treated each day like our last, the house would never get cleaned and we would never go to work. :) But I think the sentiment behind this statement is to at least take part of every day and make it memorable. Even if it's only ten minutes.

And for me, part of life is dreaming, and dreaming big. If you don't dream and make plans, go after what makes you happiest, what is the point?? I don't want to just exist. I want to my life to be spectacular. I dream and do what I can to make those dreams come true. It's not to say I'm not afraid, but I push past the fear and just do it. I work hard and I'm making my dreams come true.

How about you? What does this quote mean to you?? Do you live your life to the fullest?? Do you have dreams and try to achieve them?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chick Lit Chat

I don't know if you all know this, but I am one of the hosts of Chick Lit Chat on Twitter!! What is Chick Lit Chat, you ask?? Well, let me explain! :)

A while back, I believe it was my good friend Jen Daiker from Unedited, wanted to start a chat on Twitter to talk about all things Chick Lit. If you are stumped on what that even is, it's a sub genre of women's fiction, traditionally about younger women in an urban setting. The stories are funny and sassy with lots of drama. The genre has evolved over the years, with older characters, moms, small town settings, and the title isn't quite used as much anymore, but there is still a HUGE following. Jen wanted to do something fun to bring together readers and writers to support the genre, and #ChickLitChat was born.

So each week on Thursday night at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time, we all gather on Twitter and chat. You must use the hashtag #chicklitchat to participate. There is always a host and a topic for the week, ranging from our favorite titles, to our favorite types of characters, to writing related topics about plot and dialogue. Every week is something new and every week we have a total blast! I love meeting new people who love the genre as much as I do. It's great for readers because they can meet authors and find out how our minds work! And great for authors, since we love meeting our readers!

So come on over to our chat this week!! Visit the profile for our headquarters- ChickLitChatHQ and give us a follow for reminders and updates to the chat. I'm hosting tonight!! See ya there!!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Big Fabulous Summer Giveaway!

It's been a loooooong time since I've done a fun contest! And with summer coming, I feel the need to celebrate and get ready for it!!! How about you?? I am so ready for a relaxing summer with lots of fun!

As a kid, I loved summer. I mean, seriously, who didn't? I think my favorite part was having nothing to do. Everyday was Saturday. My family camped seasonally at a family campground, and every weekend that's where we went as soon as my dad got home from work. I had lots of friends there and we always had so much fun. So many amazing memories of sunny summer days swimming in the lake, and warm summer nights with cute boys. ;)

So I want to celebrate summer and it's fun and freedom. No matter how old I am, I will always bask in the joy of warmer temps and lazy days!

The contest starts today and will run until June 15th! LOTS of time to enter and keep earning more entries! I'll announce the winners on my blog on Monday, June 17th! :)

And I know you're wondering...what about the prizes!!! Here is a list of what I have come up with so far! I will be adding more as time goes on. There will be lots of prizes, so many people will win! AND entrants will be able to win multiple prizes!! I plan on getting together some kind of grand prize too. I'll have to see what awesome things I can come up with! :) So, without further ado, here is the list:

- $5 GC to Amazon or B&N, winner's choice.
- $10 GC to Amazon or B&N, winner's choice.
- Digital copies of my Karma books- A Bitch Named Karma and Karma Kameleon (in whichever format the winner chooses).
- Digital copy of my book Paradise Cove.
- Digital copy of my book Soap Dreams.
- Bath and Body Works Pocket Bacs Hand Sanitizer! Five winners, scent selected at random- Margarita, Pink Lemonade, Flip Flop Fruit, Wildberry, and Island Nectar. (US only.)

- Nail buffers and Cake Batter lip balm! Two winners! (Each will win one buffer and one lip balm. US only.)

- Nail polish and polish remover pads! Two winners! (Each winner will receive one polish and one container of remover pads. US only.)

And I finally came up with a grand prize. It's nothing major, but it is something I really would love to keep for myself! So that gives it value, to me, anyway!

- A cool water bottle and box of yummy single serving iced tea packets! (US only)

And who knows...I may add more!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Some prizes are only available for continental US residents, as noted. I sincerely apologize for this. The shipping out of the States is just too much for me to swing :( If the winner for a shippable prize is outside the continental US, I will draw a new winner for that prize and offer the original winner a digital prize.

***All winners will be announced on my blog and notified by email. If the winner fails to reply within a week's time, a new winner will be drawn.

Official Contest Rules:

No purchase necessary. Digital prizes open to US and international, 18 and over. Prizes that must be shipped are only open to US residents, 18 and over. Contest open May 15th, 9 AM EST through June15th, 11:59 PM. Winners will be selected at random and posted on this blog on Monday June 17th at 9:00 EST. Winners will also be contacted by the email address they provided when entering and have one weeks to respond or an alternative winner will be drawn. Entry details posted above in Rafflecopter. Prize descriptions: $5 GC to Amazon or B&N ($5 value), $10 GC to Amazon or B&N, ($10 value), Digital copies of my Karma books- A Bitch Named Karma and Karma Kameleon (in whichever format the winner chooses) ($10 value), Digital copy of my book Paradise Cove ($1 value), Digital copy of my book Soap Dreams ($1 value), Bath and Body Works Pocket Bacs Hand Sanitizer. Five winners, (US only), ($1 value each, total value $5.00), Nail buffers and Cake Batter lip balm! (Each will win one buffer and one lip balm. US only.), ($2 value on each prize, total prize value $4). Nail polish and remover wipes ($3 value each prize, $6 value total. US only), Water bottle and iced tea mix, ($12 value. US only). Odds of winning are determined by number of eligible entries. All winners are final. Stephanie Haefner is not responsible for technical failures. Stephanie Haefner has the right to publicize the names of the winners on this blog. All digital prizes will be awarded via email. Shippable prizes will be awarded via USPS within a week of winner claiming them. Stephanie Haefner is not liable in the event the prize or contest/sweepstakes in some way impacts the winner negatively. Contest sponsored by Stephanie Haefner- Sweepstakes is being regulated in the state of NY. Void where prohibited by law.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boy things and Girl things?

I hate when people label things as only for boys or girls.

As a parent, I have always had the attitude that there are not boy things and girl things. I have always encouraged my girl to play with trucks, play sports, enjoy shows about trains, as well as play with dolls, play dress up, and take dance classes. I think the world views this as okay. People have no problem encouraging girls to be well-rounded. But boys, not so much. And this makes no sense to me.

My son has always been naturally drawn to things with wheels. He loves playing with cars, loves watching car races, loves riding his bike. But as the second child with an older sister, he has always been around traditional girly things. We've never discouraged him from playing with his sister's toy kitchen or her My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop figures. When it came time to start signing him up for extra curriculars, soccer was his first. He has always seemed very coordinated and likes running around outside and doing sports type things. It seemed like a natural fit. And so far, it has been. He no longer does soccer, but started tee ball this year. His sister dances and does theater camp, and he has never shown interest, but if he does, I wouldn't deny him.

My son used to say he didn't want to watch certain shows because they were "girl shows." They weren't. They were older kid shows geared toward tweens, like Good Luck Charlie and Shake It Up. I think he said that because they were shows his sister watches. Because he has no problem what so ever with Dora the Explorer, Doc McStuffins, and Sophia the First.

I'm sure people are wondering what I'd do if my son ran up to me with a tutu in hand and wanted to wear it. He's never done it, but I'd like to think I'd be open-minded enough to let him wear it. It's just a tutu. He's five.

Friday, May 3, 2013

If you ever want to sell on proposal....

When I started writing, I had no clue how to do it. I just wrote. There was a story in my head and it came out through my finger tips. But then I started learning there were rules. Basic rules about storytelling and characters. I read a couple books and found invaluable information. And I had to relearn all the grammar stuff I had forgotten. Boy was that tough!

I joined a writers group maybe a year or so after I started writing. The people were awesome and they really helped me figure out this writing thing. They helped me fix the things that needed fixing. They were great for bouncing ideas off of. And then we had a new member join our group. She was working on her novel, a mystery, and though she only had a few chapters written, she had the whole thing planned out. Every scene. At the time, that seemed so incredibly boring to me. I remember thinking it felt like all the creativity had been taken out of the process. I couldn't understand why someone would write like that.

Fast forward a few years....

I'd been through the publishing process a bunch of times. I'd written a few more novels. I'd met tons of people in the writing community. Many were pansers- people who write by the seat of their pants, like I did. And the rest were plotters, who plan their books, either in an extremely detailed manor or just a simple outline. I was a panser. And then one day a friend posted about her new book and how she was becoming a reformed panser. After selling several books to her publisher, they now only wanted a proposal before offering her a contract. She now HAD to write an entire synopsis for her future book before writing it.

That really hit home with me. I knew I wanted to someday sell to a big publisher. And if this is how big publishers did it, maybe I needed to take a serious look into changing my process too. So I decided to give it a try. A test. I decided my next book would be plotted out beforehand. I spent a couple weeks writing what was originally supposed to be a semi-detailed outline. But I ended up writing a very detailed outline, scene by scene. It was about 25 pages long, single spaced. When I finished, I started crafting the book. It took me only 35 days to write 82 thousand words. And not once was I bored or felt a lack of creatively. There was never a lull, asking myself "What's gonna happen next?" There were less plot holes. Since I had the book all planned out, it gave me the ease of just writing it and not having to stop and think about where the book was going. I already knew.

I am now a reformed panser! And proud of it!!

I know everyone has their process and everyone must do what works best for them. But I am honestly shocked by how at home I am with the new process I have adopted. My dream is to sell on proposal. I would LOVE to sell a book based on my ideas instead of spending months writing something that no one wants to buy. Fingers crossed that I get there!

So...panser or plotter? Any reformed pansers like me??? Were you shocked with the ease of the process once you started it?