For the last few years, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, my friends, authors Caraway Carter, Jeri Bronson and Ellen Kosuda have picked a word to inspire us for the year. A word to help us reach reach goals. A word to hopefully make us better people. In 2020 my word was Focus. It turned out to be a really good word for me, especially during a year of isolation and chaos. I focused on two things. My writing and my health. I released four romcoms last year, and I lost 86 lbs. that I desperately needed to lose.
I had a hard time picking a word for 2021, and it wasn’t until late on New Year’s Eve that I finally realized what my word should be. FEARLESS. My word for 2021 is Fearless.
There are people who think I’m already fearless, but the truth is, I tend to work out of fear. Fear of not being good enough, fear of failing…fear, fear, fear.
So here it is March, and already I’ve found this a challenging word. Which probably means it’s the right word for me. Two weeks into the New Year I was seriously doubting whether I should be writing at all. Whether I should just walk away, enjoy the freedom I have now that my kids are home, and I’m not working. Cook, keep house and sew for grandbabies.
But that word kept popping up, and I’d push myself a little more…and a little more, until I’d pushed myself through that crisis of confidence.
The most fearless thing I’ve done this year, is to stay alone in our little house in Arizona, that’s in the middle of nowhere. Okay, not really in the middle of nowhere, but it kind of feels like it. I’ve never been alone before. Even when Hunky Hubby had to work out of town, I always had kids with me. And HH and I don’t like to be separated. But, I thought that time alone would free me up to get more work done. I was right. And while I missed Hunky Hubby, I really enjoyed those two weeks of freedom and I won’t be afraid to do it again.
And this week I conquered another fear. I submitted a romcom to a publisher, and I’ll be waiting anxiously for their response. I realized if they don’t accept it, I can publish it myself. I CAN DO IT MYSELF!!
Now on to my biggest writing fear. I have to finish Fascinator. Fascinator is my full 1920’s women’s fiction novel that I’ve been working on (or not) for several years. A friend told me a few years ago that I was the only one she knew who used writing to procrastinate on my writing. And that’s probably true. To a great degree, writing my romcoms, which are fun and light have been a way to procrastinate on my more serious novel, which for me is a test of whether I can really write.
So, time to pull on my big girl panties and woman up. I’ve got this. I’m FEARLESS. Oh, and my word for 2022 came to me this week. But I’ll share that later.
Do you ever feel like hold yourself back? What areas do you need to be more fearless? Or are you already fearless? Share your stories, I could use some inspiration!
Last month I told you that I was finishing #12DancingSantas the final book in the #HermosafortheHolidays series and it released this week, it’s on sale through Saturday, December 12th for 99 cents on Amazon. I can’t believe the series is complete! It’s like raising your children, when you’re in the middle of it, you’re so focused on the day to day business of feeding, teaching, bathing, schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, learning and adjusting as you parent…all of the things that come with raising kids, that you sometimes lose sight of how quickly they’re growing.
Then, suddenly, they’re all grown up.
It was a similar feeling writing this series. I’ve been so busy writing, revising, editing, learning how to publish and promote, and so much more that I’m still learning…
And now suddenly, this series is done. Well, except for getting the print books out.
So, #12DancingSantas is Brenda’s story. She’s a Hermosa Beach schoolteacher, and this year she’s watched as one by one, each of her friends have gone viral on social media, and found love. Then while attending the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Hermosa Beach Pier, and watching the performances, including one by twelve firemen on skates…also known as the Twelve Dancing Santas. Santa whisks by, sweeps her into his arms and gives her the most magical of Christmas kisses. And when he does, he drops a boot from the bag over his shoulder.
Now, Brenda and her friends must find the Santa who fits the boot, because while there are plenty of Santas willing to try (at least twelve to be sure) she has to find the Real Santa.
Like the rest of the series, the story is a light, fun escape that I hope will bring a smile to your face…and maybe even a laugh or two.
Since Brenda, is a baker, and so am I, I thought I’d share one of my family’s favorite holiday cookie recipes with you. And I promise that while I’m baking cookies and wrapping gifts, I’m also working on the next writing project. I’ll be back to tell you about that next time!
My oldest son, Gerrod, is my cover artist, and these are his favorite Christmas cookies.
Sour Cream Cookies
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
½ cup butter, softened
8 oz sour cream
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup butter
1 ½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar
Sprinkles if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl cream vanilla, sugar eggs, butter and sour cream until well blended. Add flour salt and soda and mix well. The dough will be sticky. Drop by large spoonful’s onto prepared pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until puffed and lightly brown on the bottom. Cool.
Mix ingredients for frosting until well blended. I like to divide the frosting and add food coloring. Frost cookies and use sprinkles to decorate.
Warning, this recipe can be a little finicky. They should puff up and become soft almost muffiny cookies, but sometimes they spread out and are thin. Don’t worry about it, they’re delicious either way. I like them best chilled in the refrigerator.
Happy Holidays whatever you celebrate, and best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year.
You can find me at:
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I’m in full holiday mode. My gift shopping is nearly done, I’ll do a little baking, but it will be limited this year, and I’m ready for Thanksgiving turkey and holiday decorating. Christmas songs are playing in my head.
In between wrapping gifts and writing, you’ll find me curled up reading holiday books. In my head Karen Carpenter is singing Sleigh Ride and I feel the same hope and wonder that I’ve felt every holiday season since I was a little girl.
And so of course, I’ve written a Christmas romcom, because after all…it’s Christmas.
#12DancingSantas is the last book in my #HermosafortheHolidays series, and as I finish it, I feel like I’m spending time with friends.
The whole series is set in my fictional version of Hermosa Beach, California, and is centered around a social media app called Framed. Framed is a social networking app similar to Instagram. Members have a profile and a ‘wall’ where their pictures and pictures that they are tagged in hang for their followers to see. Other members can comment on photos on your wall. Since the beginning of the year…or the beginning of the series, the heroines of these stories have gone viral on Framed for one reason or another.
This is Brenda’s story, and it’s a bit of a reverse Cinderella story. Brenda is a school teacher, who loves to cook. She and her friends are at the Hermosa Beach Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, they’ve just watched a performance by twelve firemen from the local beach city fire departments, dancing on roller blades to a medley of Christmas songs from classic to current. The performance has ended, and the girls are discussing how to spend the rest of the evening when one of the Santa’s skates over to the little group of friends, grabs Brenda, bends her back and gives her the most romantic and magical kiss that she’s ever experienced. But he skates off so quickly that she doesn’t get a chance to find out who he is.
As luck, would have it, a boot falls out of his duffle bag, and now Brenda is on a search for the man who fits the boot. With girlfriends, chocolate and mistletoe she just might find true love this holiday season…
#12DancingSantas is on preorder at Amazon for just 99 cents right now. I hope you’ll check it out!
In the meantime, I’m wishing all of you, good friends, chocolate (unless you’re allergic) and mistletoe this holiday season.
So, what about reward systems? Do they work for you? And if they do, how do you set yours up?
A solid reward system can work for so many things. Years ago, when I homeschooled my two younger boys, I made a reward chart for them. They got stickers for completing each task during the day, and they loved getting the stickers, but when they reached a certain number of stickers they got a small ‘prize’. It might be doing something special with Mom or Dad, getting to pick their favorite lunch out, extra video game time, or a small toy. When they collected a larger number of stickers, they earned another larger prize, usually a field trip somewhere special such as the local aquarium, or the zoo. This tiered rewards system was very motivating for the kids, and the rewards were really for both of us. We spent time together that wasn’t school related, and we had new experiences together.
Some of you know that I’ve recently lost a substantial amount of weight. In the beginning, I was rewarding myself for every 5 lbs. with a manicure, of course, the pandemic has changed that, and to be honest, once I hit a certain point, the weight loss itself became the reward, as well as fitting into smaller sizes! Not to mention, how good I feel, and the increased mobility that I have.
When it comes to writing, of course, finishing the book and having people actually read it is the ultimate reward, but sometimes you need those little incentives to get you to THE END. I used to reward myself with food, a piece of See’s chocolate for completing the day’s word count, dinner out for meeting a larger goal. I also justified dinner out by saying that it gave me more time to write. Obviously, in recent months I’ve learned that those rewards had created a different problem, and I needed healthier incentives.
But, I have another passion that I don’t get to indulge as often as I’d like. Sewing. And that has become my new reward. If I meet my writing goal, I’m allowed to sew, and when I finish the book, I get a new sewing toy! With my weight loss, I need new clothes desperately, so I better get writing! And I may even add new clothes (that I didn’t sew) to my rewards.
Oh, and sometimes a writing class or workshop with someone like Angela James is a reward! A reward that can make your next project even better.
How do you reward yourself for your accomplishments? What are your favorite treats? Or do you feel the accomplishment is reward enough?
In the middle of this pandemic, riots and protests, my husband and I decided to buy our retirement home, which will hopefully serve as a getaway place, until he retires in four years… so in the meantime I’m thinking writer retreat. But, gee, let’s add the stress of buying a house to the already chaotic situation we’re all living with.
And did I mention I’m finishing a book right now…well, I’m always either starting or finishing a book, so that’s not surprising. But finding focus during the unprecedented mayhem in my life, in all of our lives, isn’t such an easy thing.
And writing a romcom with all of the darkness going on sometimes feels like a disconnect.
And yet, when I need to escape, I’m turning to Hallmark Channel, or old television shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie, so maybe writing a romcom right now is not so out of place.
But finding focus, being able to escape to the peaceful little beach world in my head isn’t always easy. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block. If I can get there the words flow. It’s more an inability to detach from the real world…and stay detached.
Usually when I write, I plan long blocks of time to work. I schedule breaks at the end of each hour to stand up and move around, then I get back to work. But, my process has changed. Instead of writing for 3 or 4 hours with ten minute breaks each hour, I’m writing in little bursts. I’ll sit down write a scene maybe 15 to 20 minutes, instead of writing a full chapter. Then I get up to go do some chores…pack some boxes for our new home…sew some masks, any of the above sit down and write for another 15 to 20 minutes. It’s a challenging process, but then, everything is challenging right now.
I’m trying to focus on the good things. People coming together to help each other and their communities, to support each other, sharing resources, finding new ways to teach, work and celebrate. Human beings can be amazing. Those things make it easier to sleep at night, and to write about people
Well, I’ve been writing for nearly 20 minutes, so it’s time to do some chores…or pack some boxes…or maybe it’s time to look at pictures of my new house, lol. How are you finding focus in this challenging time? How are you distracting yourself from the stress? Share your tips and ideas. I could sure use the help!
There’s no Christmas like a Regency Christmas spent under mistletoe! New York Times Bestselling author Cheryl Bolen and friends invite you to discover true love in eleven deliciously steamy romances in this all-new holiday collection.More info →
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Investigative reporter Gemma Wade has been dispatched to her own personal purgatory—small town Marietta, Montana—to write a fluffy, romantic piece about the unprecedented spike in marriages there.More info →