Yes, the glow of the candles was so bright that the camera didn’t know where to focus, but in my defense, my son’s candles were on there, too!
Any how, forget the candles already…the celebration got me thinking about my April release, Perilous Waters.
Stay with me. There is a connection!!
Although a number of elements in the story had been rattling around in my head for some time—namely the setting of a cruise ship, a plot involving stolen art, and an FBI hero—the plot came together during the Alaskan cruise my husband and I took to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.
So it shouldn’t have surprised me that “family” became a key theme of the story. Or that the celebration of important milestones, like anniversaries and birthdays, would cause the hero and heroine, Sam and Jennifer, to reassess the importance of “family” in their lives.
After all, birthdays and anniversaries are a natural time to pause and reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re headed and possibly how you’d like to change in the year ahead.
Not that Jennifer and Sam had ANY time to pause with someone trying to kill her, but you know what I mean.
They each boarded the ship purportedly to celebrate an important milestone. For Jennifer, she was there to celebrate her 25th birthday with her twin sister, a birthday which also marked the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. For at 25, they would finally gain control of the family art gallery bequeathed to them by their parents who’d died tragically when the girls were still teens.
In reality, Jennifer agreed to the cruise in order to get her sister away from the art gallery and the influence of the curator, who has also been their guardian and the estate’s trustee, in hopes of convincing her to agree to sell.
Sam, on the other hand, is purportedly there with his parents, his brother and young nephew to celebrate his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. He booked and paid for the trip for every last one of them. But in reality, he’s there to spy on, and ultimately arrest, Jennifer and Cassandra Robbins, his prime suspects in an art smuggling case.
He naturally invites Jennifer to spend time with him and his family, and for a woman who hasn’t enjoyed “family times” for many, many years, the allure is irresistible.
This was a scenario I could easily relate to.
Although I didn’t lose my parents at a young age, it sometimes felt that way. I was the youngest child by four years so by the time I was twelve, family vacations and evenings playing games together became a distant memory. I well remember how I fell in love as much with the idyllic-seeming family camaraderie of a couple of the guys I dated in my teens as the guys themselves.
Of course, Sam, being the God-fearing, honorable guy he is, feels terrible about how fond Jennifer grows of his family. Not that his emotions remain untouched.
Not by a long shot.
By seeing his family through her eyes, his appreciation for what he has, and what he’s been missing out on by choosing to live and work thousands of miles away from his family, begins to grow.
But…I can’t give any more away. You’ll have to read the book to see how he digs himself out of that hole.
Your Turn: What are some of the ways you have celebrated important milestones?
Giveaway & Specials News: Perilous Waters is available now directly from Harlequin in print or Epub, with free shipping to first time customers or on minimum orders, and… receive an additional 10% off their already discounted price with coupon code: SB14SL3
Today marks the end of another exciting winter Olympics and, once again, in Canada at least, national pride and spirit is at a peek. Many of us rose early to watch the final hockey game and celebrate our men’s team bringing home the gold.
Throughout the games, I loved watching the faces of athletes and their friends and family when they won. Sometimes they would beam. Sometimes they’d cry. Each one’s experience was different.
But there was no mistaking the exhilaration felt by all who shared in their victories.
It got me thinking about how as a believer…
Every morning should start with the arm-pumping exhilaration of being part of the winning team.
Because as believers we are!
As the apostle Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians: “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Cor 12:57-58 NIV )
And in his letter to the Philippians, he writes, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3: 13b-14 NIV)
Don’t let defeats weigh you down. Persevere through them, as we’ve seen our countries’ athletes do to reach these Olympics, knowing it’s not in vain.
I am delighted to introduce you to author Patricia Bradley and her debut romantic suspense, Shadows of the Past.
I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of this wonderful book for endorsement. Here’s what I thought:
“In Shadows of the Past, Patricia Bradley has created the perfect kind of mystery-novel-hero—emotionally wounded with a heart of gold. Add in a determined criminal-profiler heroine, an unknown stalker, and an eclectic collection of wonderfully developed secondary characters (aka suspects), and Bradley had me totally hooked. An outstanding first book in the Logan Point romantic suspense series. Looking forward to the next installment.”
Since I enjoyed Patricia’s characters so much, I invited her to drop by and interview one of them for us. But first some background on story:
Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve—the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she is stalking the truth about the past, someone is stalking her.
Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife—a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. With his estranged brother the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.
Okay, take it away, Pat.
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Sandra. I thought your readers might enjoy an interview with Taylor. This character literally popped into visit one morning during my quiet time and she told me someone one was stalking her.
Patricia: So, Taylor do you always startle people?
Taylor: Not on purpose, but I do seem to have that knack.
Patricia: What do you think of Nick Sinclair?
Taylor: Nick? At first he made me uncomfortable, the way he defended his brother. After all, I did accuse his brother of stalking me. But then I got to know him, and his loyalty to his brother touched my heart. I would have reacted the same way if someone accused my brother Chase of stalking.
Patricia: You seem so sure of yourself and your opinions. Are you always right?
Taylor: Usually. (she grins). Really? Not always, but enough that I’ll stick to my guns until I’m proven wrong.
Patricia: enough talk about guns. Valentine’s Day is coming up. What is your idea of a perfect date for that special day? And with whom?
Taylor: Hmmm. The last question is a no-brainer. Nick. He is one exciting man! Just thinking about him makes my heart beat faster. Not that I wanted to like him at first. Seems like when we first met, all we did was argue.
And for where? If it’s one of those rare warm days we sometimes get in Logan Point, Mississippi in February, a picnic would be sweet. But since that probably won’t happen, I think I’d like for Nick to take me out to eat at the Blues Espresso. We could listen to some really good jammin’, and he could play his harmonica.
Patricia: That sounds like a great Valentine’s date! Do you want to tell the readers if you and Nick have a future?
Taylor, smiling mysteriously. Nope. But the answer is in the book…
That was great! Thanks so much, Patricia and Taylor for joining us.
Blog Readers: I’m giving away a copy of Shadows of the Past. If you’d like your name thrown into the hat, please scroll to the bottom of this post and ask Patricia or Taylor a question about the story, or about herself, or her next book in the series…whatever you’re curious about. And click through the rafflecopter options for additional opportunities to enter, and…a chance to win an advanced copy of my next Love Inspired Suspense, Perilous Waters.
Here’s a little more about Patricia to whet your curiosity.
Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi and is a former abstinence educator and co-author of RISE To Your Dreams, an abstinence curriculum. But her heart is tuned to suspense. Patricia’s mini-mysteries have been published in Woman’s World, and her debut novel, Shadows of the Past, is the first of three set in Mississippi andwill release February 4, 2014. She will present a workshop, Writing 50,000 words in 30 days, at the Midsouth Christian Writer’s Conference in Collierville, TN on March 8, 2014
I’m delighted to introduce you to Sharon C. Jenkins, author of a great new resource for authors, Authorpreneurship.
I’ve invited Sharon to discuss one of the biggest challenges to authors–
An Authorpreneur is a sole proprietor of sorts. You are a one person “mean writing machine” with best-seller stars in your eyes and a pen in your hand. In other words, you are your own boss and your only employee. As a writer, that may mean holding yourself accountable to meet deadlines and honor a mandatory self-imposed daily word count in order to finish your manuscript on time.
Unfortunately, there is a common flaw that seems inherent to those skilled with ink and pen. Procrastination. For some writers, this tendency is due to the business of living. Deadlines take a backseat to everything else. In addition, there are other tasks required of you as an Authorpreneur that must get done in conjunction with writing. So how can you successfully navigate life and work? Let’s take an honest look at some tips that you can incorporate into your life to “git er done” (a common Texas slang for getting the job accomplished).
Writing is your job. Be it full-time or part-time; make it the #1 priority for that season of your life. You would not tell your boss that you couldn’t finish your presentation for an important client because you had to watch your favorite television show. Get rid of the clutter in your life– and that includes habits or routines that hinder your progress to honor your commitment and “git er done.”
Evaluate your time management skills by taking the Writers Time Management Test, and set a baseline for your “git er done” improvement plan. You can improve what you can measure.
Writers Time Management Test
Directions: Circle each statement in Part One and Part Two of the time management test that is currently a time management habit. Give yourself 2 points for each of the following habits that you have.
Part One: How Well Do I “Git er Done”?
1. I make a “TO DO” list every day, prioritizing the most important things at the top of that list and carrying over those things that did not get done to the next day’s list.
2. I have a daily calendar that I use to keep track of my scheduled activities and writing deadlines.
3. I have a weekly calendar that I use to keep track of my scheduled activities and writing deadlines.
4. I have a monthly calendar that I use to keep track of my scheduled activities and writing deadlines.
5. When I hit “overwhelm,” I take a break from my work area and come back refreshed and invigorated.
6. I schedule my availability to answer telephone calls or respond to e-mails around my writing schedule so that I can have uninterrupted quality writing time.
7. I use the electronic time management tools that are available to me on my cell phone and or computer.
8. I use sticky notes to remind me of what must be accomplished daily.
9. I am not afraid to delegate tasks to others.
10. I boldly seek out the resources that I need and make time for the necessary research in order to lend credibility to my work.
11. I have identified my best working atmosphere and have taken steps to create that sanctuary so that there are no hindrances in my writing environment.
12. I know where the calculator, calendar, and word count function are on my computer so that I can do my work faster.
13. I have identified when I am most alert and I schedule my time to write accordingly.
14. I use the sandwich principle. I schedule the tasks I don’t like to do between the tasks that I do like, so that I am inspired to work faster to get to the tasks I enjoy.
15. I have a budget to manage my money.
16. I am in good health.
17. I get enough rest, exercise, and eat healthy foods.
18. I constantly review my short and long term goals to make sure I’m on track to best seller status.
19. I keep God, family and friends as a priority in this process, not forgetting their importance in my life and striving for balance by not making unwise sacrifices to “git er done.”
20. I realize that “stuff happens” and I am flexible enough in my plan that I can make the necessary adjustments when it does.
TOTAL POINTS, PART ONE: _______________
Part Two: What Prohibits Me From “Gittin er done?”
1. I am so fascinated with social media that I would rather spend my time on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
2. I have over 5,000 unread emails that I’m waiting until my next vacation to read them all because I am afraid I might miss something.
3. As a generalist, I master of a lot of things. But I like it that way, because I can write about anything and I spend a lot of time doing research so that when I get ready to write my book, I can write a book that can reach everybody.
4. I use my “wait” time while at the doctor’s office and other places to wait for something to happen. After all, a little relaxation has never hurt anyone. Some people call it laziness; I call it conserving my energy for the next BIG opportunity.
5. I am a perfectionist and everything must be perfect before I can move forward on a project.
6. I have too many responsibilities that prohibit me from committing to anything for any length of time.
7. Everyone needs me on his or her team. I’m so critical to their mission that their organization would come to a complete stop if I didn’t volunteer. You’ve heard of the 20/80 rule; 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I’m part of the 20%.
8. I must keep my mobile phone close to me at all times because people are always trying to contact me. I might miss an important text, news item, Facebook post, or call. I check it every ten minutes, I feel lost without it.
9. Before I can write, I need some kind of inspiration. I often sit for hours waiting for my muse to visit me.
10. I enjoy writing so much, I write about everything and everywhere. I’ve got 50 boxes of stuff I wrote packed away in my garage. One day, I’m going to put it all into a book. Everybody tells me I should write one. I’m already halfway there; I just need to organize my garage to find everything.
11. I usually don’t wake up until noon. I’m a night person and I party or watch TV until the wee hours of the morning. I need my social time, it’s a priority in my life.
12. My work schedule is so overwhelming, I don’t have time to do much else, much less plan my day or prioritize my tasks.
13. I just can’t multitask. I can only do one thing at a time.
14. Yes, I am a couch potato and proud of it. I need to watch TV to unwind from my day when I come home from work. It keeps me sane and my spouse happy.
15. I am a habitual worrier, it takes up a lot of my time and causes me to have many restless nights, but I just can’t help it.
16. Being organized is not one of my strong suits. I can never find anything. But nobody’s perfect.
17. I keep everything in my head. I don’t need a calendar.
18. I take a break every chance I get, especially since they aren’t paying me what I’m worth.
19. I often take personal calls at work and I have frequent visitors. It helps my day go by faster.
20. My schedule is so chaotic. I can never seem to get it together, no matter how hard I try. I’m always double-booked and late for appointments and deadlines. I think I need a virtual assistant.
TOTAL POINTS, PART TWO: ________________
FINAL SCORE: Subtract Part Two from Part One
Part One Points: _________
Part Two Points: _________
What your final score means:
If you score between 30 and 40, you are excellent at managing your time. Feel free to write a book on Time Management.
If you score between 19 and 29, your time management skills are average. Periodically study the suggestions in Part One to either improve or maintain your time management skills.
If you score below 18, you really need to concentrate on improving your time management skills. The best way to fight procrastination is to maximize your ability to manage the time that is allotted to a task. This may take some practice on your part, but it will be well worth the effort. Remember, consistency is key; do something for 21 days and it becomes a habit.
Sandra back again. How’d you do? Be honest.
More About Sharon:
Sharon C. Jenkins is a literary project manager, author, motivational speaker and visionary who serves as the Inspirational Principal for The Master Communicator’s Writing Services. Formerly the managing editor of four electronic and print journals (business, community, health and wellness, faith-based) for one of the largest African American marketing and communications companies in Houston, she has also written articles in various national and local publications.
Jenkins is also the best-selling Amazon author of Beyond the Closet Door and has co-authored two other books, Songs of Three Sisters and Ready, Set, Succeed: Making Your Dream Come True.
Known as the Master Communicator, because she is proficient in communicating in multiple forms of media: radio, newspapers, magazines, and spoken word, her prevailing mission is to equip authors to live their literary dreams without emptying their bank accounts. She started this undertaking four years ago with the Desire to Inspire Workshops, which progressed to the 2010 – 2013 Authors Networking Summit, which were hosted in Houston and Detroit. Sharon can be found at: http://www.sharoncjenkins.com/
This past Friday I received the awesome news that my November Love Inspired Suspense, the yet-to-be-named firefighter story that we’ve talked about here before, looks good and will go straight to line edits. I only had to tweak a couple of things.
And as I read through the epilogue, I came to this line:
“Jake hoped he never stopped getting that fluttery feeling in his stomach every time he turned on his street since asking Kara to marry him.”
Do you know the fluttery feeling I’m talking about? Do you still get it when you think about the one you love?
My hubby has this way of smiling sometimes that gets me every time.
Anyway, for some reason reading that line got me thinking about our relationship with God.
I remember how eagerly, as a new believer, I devoured the Bible and every study book I could get my hands on. Just like the getting-to-know-you time of a new relationship. Then after a time the shine of the newness wears off a little. Doesn’t it?
Yet, when you persevere, you truly experience the truth and depth of meaning of Lamentations 3:22-23:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Now, my hubby happened to be away on business this past weekend, and although I honestly admit that after 26 1/2 years of marriage, I don’t experience that fluttery “new love” feeling every time he comes home, I sure did when he came home after being away…and driving back in a blizzard!
But while the fluttery feeling is fun, it’s the abiding love, the deep-seated knowing that this man, who’s seen me at my best and at my worst, is here for me no matter what.
Some authors LOVE dictation software and couldn’t produce a novel without it. Since twelve hour writing marathons can play havoc on my body, I wish I was one of them!
Why can’t it understand me?!
But my—albeit limited—experience has been that dictation software adds a whole new meaning to the “Creative” in “Creative Writing.”
Still…I was determined to try again when I heard that Mac’s new operating system—Mavericks—comes with a dictation software that is arguably better than Dragon’s Naturally Speaking for Mac, and best of all its free!
Now, I know the software is supposed to get smarter the longer you use it. But Mac’s version doesn’t appear (that I could figure out) to allow you to add words to its dictionary, so as soon as I started speaking my characters’ names, what it spit out got really interesting.
“Brian and David and Martha and Patti and Velma and Mary” came out:
Ron I am at David and aren’t fat and the and tell mom her and Mary
Obviously this is intelligent software and KNOWS I didn’t talk in a complete sentence so it tried to make it one!
I tried to use a command like “list” but it just typed “list”. So…
I thought to myself, I will try to teach it. I dictated a sentence and corrected its minimal errors, then I dictated the same sentence again, and again.
But it was as if the software started thinking this person cannot be an idiot [which as I dictated this paragraph, it typed “in yada” for “idiot”] and wanted me to type the same sentence twice. She must mean something else.
So as I dictated the same sentence a second time, it was typing it out correctly then all of a sudden, it started back spacing! As I’m talking!! And retyped something totally different!!!
Here it is for your amusement:
Original Sentence: Lisa and Melvin are getting married tomorrow.
Computer Attempt #1: A second out and will wait tomorrow.
Attempt #2: Are they set now thing will do tomorrow.
Attempt #3: Lisa and now thing will wear it tomorrow.
Puts a whole new spin on creative writing don’t you think?
At the moment, I’m hunkering down in my writing cave to finish the third book in my Port Aster Secrets series. And the blustery weather we’re having is a perfect compliment…as long as we don’t lose electricity.
Our internet service has been spotty for weeks due to a hardware problem on a 300 foot tower that no one wants to climb in -30 windchill temps. So…if I seem kind of scarce online, that’s probably why.
In the meantime, if you’ve never visited the Craftie blog, check out the serial romance we’re doing on Thursdays and Fridays between now and Valentine’s. A different author picks up the story with each new installment. It starts here: Her Secret Valentine part 1
Oh, oh, oh, and did you see the new pic in my sidebar? Got the cover art for my April release, Perilous Waters. What do you think?