Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Monday, December 30, 2013

In With the New!

By Kimmie Easley

It's hard to believe 2013 is almost over. This year has flown by for me, albeit a whirlwind of awesomeness. My husband and I bought acreage. I went to my first writing conference. My sweet girl turned the big thirteen. I made a plethora of amazing connections, many of whom I know will remain lifelong friends. Oh, and let’s not forget, I published my first book, Souls Set Free. *First of many*
  
With 2014 just days away, it has me asking. What’s next?

I’m sure the year will hold its fair share of milestones. The one I’m most excited about is the release of Gutter Princess, my new contemporary romance novel. Seeing it come to life has been a long road. It follows the story of Baby Jade, a New Orleans native trying to navigate her way through the underworld of exotic dancing and caring for an unstable mother when a very hot, mysterious, and unexpected love interest named Lucky drops into her lap. Actually, I guess it kind of happened the other way around. (Ba-dump-bump)

 

Gutter Princess, much like Souls Set Free, is about self-redemption. We all find ourselves, at some point in our lives, not liking who we are. Maybe we don’t like the rut we’re in, or the job. Maybe we’ve made mistakes, a wrong turn in a relationship, a financial blunder, or indulged in one too many cupcakes (if there is such a thing).

No matter what pitfall you find yourself in, the important thing to remember, other than the fact that it’s only temporary, is you’re the only one who can change it. I came across this quote by Barbara de Angelis, No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.” I know the sentiment is a little cheesy, but that doesn’t devalue its merit.  

Self-loathing is a miserable way to live. Life is too short to be unhappy, something Baby Jade has yet to understand.

 
So, as I anticipate 2014, I can’t help but think of the old cliché: New Year’s resolutions. Some don’t believe in resolutions, so far sake of argument; we’re going to call them goals. Here are a few tips I thought might help me achieve my goals for the year, personal, as well as professional, and I wanted to share!

1.      Be specific in your goals. Regardless of what you’re looking to achieve, be specific with your strategy.
2.      Make your goal public. Share your goal with friends and family, allowing yourself some much needed support and encouragement.
3.      Track your progress. This is especially helpful with financial and health related goals.
4.      Be prepared to change some habits. Yes, I said be prepared for CHANGE. *shudder*
5.      Write down your goals, it helps to visualize the outcome.
6.      MOST IMPORTANTLY: Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for past behavior. Forgive yourself for not getting it (whatever ‘it’ may be) exactly right. Forgive yourself if you fall of the wagon and hop back on. Stumbling is part of the journey.
  
This is where I see a lot of myself in my characters. Emma from Souls Set Free traveled a horrific road before forgiving herself and being able to find joy in her destiny. And Baby Jade’s story is definitely one for the books (hint, hint). It’s a daily struggle for some of us to remember we hold the power to our own happiness.
 

So for the next 365 days I will make every effort to choose happiness. To choose success. To choose to not only conquer the year, but also revel in my accomplishments. I will publish books, I will make lifelong friends, I will be a stronger mother and wife, and I will push myself to be better in all that I do.

Happy New Year’s to you and yours! CHEERS!  

  



Saturday, December 28, 2013

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” - Mark Twain and other Witty Quotes


I love a good quote and hope you enjoy this eclectic collection.
“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” ~Tom Clancy (1947-), paraphrasing Mark Twain
“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” ~Ingrid Bergman
“Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.” ~Savielly Grigorievitch TartakowerChessmaster
“A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” ~Frank Lloyd Wright
“Wit is educated insolence." ~Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’.” ~Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
“Destiny is not a matter of change, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." ~William Jennings Bryan
“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Never forget that it is the spirit with which you endow your work that makes it useful or futile.” ~Adelaide Hasse
“All for one; one for all.” ~Alexander Dumas (1824-1895)
“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” ~Alice Roosevelt Longworth
“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” ~Albert Einstein
“Its not the size of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog.” ~Mark Twain
“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” ~Edward Abbey (1927-1989)
“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” ~Napoleon Bonaparte
“After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.” ~Cato the Elder (234-149 BC, AKA Marcus Porcius Cato)
“When a man is wrapped up in himself he makes a pretty small package.” ~John Ruskin
“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist–” ~General John Sedgwick (1813-1864), last words
“I don’t feel good.” ~Luther Burbank (1849-1926), last words
“Ask her to wait a moment – I am almost done.” ~Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), when informed that his wife was dying
“99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.” ~Unknown
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, prepare to die.” ~Klingon Proverb, Star Trek
“The greatest strength is gentleness.” ~Iroquois Proverb
“Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” ~Proverb
“If you lose your temper, you’ve lost the argument.” ~Proverb
“Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” ~Chinese Proverb
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~Thomas Edison (1874-1931)
“All science is either physics or stamp collecting.” ~Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
“The only possible conclusion the social sciences can draw is: some do, some don’t.” ~Ernest Rutherford
“A witty saying proves nothing.” ~Voltaire (1694-1778) *To this I would argue ‘that may be, Voltaire, but it makes life a darn site more entertaining.’
“I would like to be able to admire a man’s opinions as I would his dog – without being expected to take it home with me.” ~Frank A. Clark
“As I get older I notice the years less and the seasons more.” ~John Hubbard
These quotes are from an excellent site:  http://www.tk421.net/quotes/
***All royalty free images

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

FAMILY. THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING.

By Brenda Chitwood

This has been quite a year. One year ago last July, my niece, her teen-age daughter and two little dogs moved in with me. ME! The spinster of the family. Sam, my Schnauzer, was content to be an only dog-child so he was not thrilled. I'll explain why later.

I've lived with just a dog pretty much since I started living on my own. My brother lives in another town on the other side of Ft. Worth and his daughter lived in East Texas. Over the years, we had only visited occasionally. She had family there and a busy life.

Well, not long after moving to a high stress job in the tiny town of Vernon, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  This called for a move to be closer to good care and family.  She packed up the teen and the dogs and I suddenly became mom and grandma in one day.

I love them all, but this was a huge change for someone who never had children and lived pretty contentedly alone, writing and staying busy with my friends. So, this was my life for a little over a year:


Clark is full blood Chihuahua and Nugget is a mix of Pug and Chihuahua and (I swear) beagle. My niece is a sucker for any lost animal.

 She found Clark on the side of the road as a puppy. We're pretty sure he is autistic. He lines up his food and barks at it. He has a multitude of  odd behaviors. Nail chewing and hiding under blankets. When not bathed regularly, he smells like old tacos. The dog whisperer would have his work cut out for him.

Nugget, belonged to an elderly man who passed away. No one took the dog so he was turned over to a shelter where he lived for several months before nuzzling into my niece's neck when she brought Clark in for shots. He squirmed around like a delirious puppy and licked her chin. He isn't dumb.

His ears are huge... like bat wings. He sheds about a pound of hair a day.  He is only about nine inches  tall, round as a barrel and struts around on short little legs. Due to a throat problem, he coughs, gags and sounds like an old geezer with a two pack a day smoking habit. He growls at being moved off the sofa when he is sleeping. (Which is most of the day.)  I found this  particularly interesting since the teenager exibited many of the same traits.

Ah, the joy of learning to live with a sixteen year old. NEVER wake them up any earlier than absolutely necessary. She had the timing down to the second for getting ready for school. Five minutes any earlier resulted in snarls and glares. Oh, FYI,  teenagers can live on Dr. Pepper, Spaghettio's and jars of dill pickles.

On the plus side, I know who Harry Stiles is and that Pink is not only a female singer but a line of clothing at Victoria's Secret.

I'm sure I was no picnic to live with, but we all managed to get through the year without any major battles, strangulation or screaming matches. I learned to adore the teenager in spite of little dramas like locking her keys in her car twice in one week, washing only one shirt in the washing machine because she needed it later and keeping my mouth shut when she wore her pj's to school occasionally.

We became even closer while my niece was going through surgeries, chemo, job loss and a difficult, non-supportive ex-husband.

I'm glad to say they are thriving. My niece has an excellent prognosis, a good job and a head of very thick, very curly hair. As for the ex, the best revenge is living a good life.

The teen spent a week last summer doing missionary work in Honduras and just returned from the Tiger Cruise on the Naval air carrier, USS Nimmitz. Her youngest aunt was returning from deployment and they allow family to stay on board from San Diego to their final destination in Washington.

Sam and Nugget have become good buddies.  Clark stays buried under his blanket, but I think he will miss them when they leave.

It's really quiet around the house, now, but  it was one of the best year's of my life. I'm thankful for being able to support her during this rough time and looking forward to the coming year. I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and a New Year that brings you love, laughter and joy.





Sunday, December 22, 2013

LYN HORNER SHARES HER INSPIRATION

By Lyn Horner

Seasons Greeting, Smart Girls! Thank you for inviting me over today. I’d like to tell y’all how I got started writing and why my historical romances follow a mystical trail into the Old West.

Have you ever had a dream about something that then took place after you dreamed it? I have on several occasions years ago. Those dreams made me believe in extrasensory perception (ESP) and eventually inspired me to invent characters who are blessed with such gifts.

I got the urge to write while living in the Chicago area. My husband was transferred there from Minneapolis by the company he worked for and I’d had to quit my job as an art instructor. Our children were very young, so I chose to be a stay-at-home mom after the move. In between cleaning house, changing diapers and wiping runny noses, I did a lot of reading, mainly western historical romance.

One day, after reading a poorly written book by a well known author who shall go nameless, it struck me that I could do better than her. I’d gotten straight As in English in school, hadn’t I? Ha! Little did I know how long it would take to hone my writing skills.

In Chicagoland stories of the Great Fire of 1871 often hit the airwaves on the October anniversary of the catastrophe. Fascinated by these tales, I decided to write about a young woman of Irish descent (many Irish immigrants settled in Chicago) who lived through the fire and later traveled west with her brother in search of a new life. I spent many hours at the local library digging for info about the fire and railroad travel in the early 1870s, since I planned for my heroine, Jessie Devlin, and her brother Tye to head west by rail.

Chicagoans rush for their lives across
the Randolph Street bridge in 1871
Another job transfer took us to Houston, and yet another brought us to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. By then my little story had grown into a 150,000 word monster which, as you might expect, no one wanted to publish. It did attract two different agents, but even after I whittled the manuscript down to 125,000 words, neither of them managed to sell it. Was I discouraged? You better believe I was!

However, along the way I joined Romance Writers of America, the local North Texas chapter, and met some terrific authors who encouraged me not to give up. During this period it crossed my mind to add a paranormal sub theme to Jessie’s story, and that’s where my belief is ESP entered the picture. The original story morphed into a series of three, starring a trio of psychic siblings driven by paranormal instincts.

Darlin’ Irish (Texas Devlins, Jessie’s Story) spotlights the heroine’s gift of second sight, an ability to look into the future, as I did in my long ago dreams.

Dashing Irish (Texas Devlins, Tye’s Story) reveals him to be an empath, capable of actually “feeling” others’ emotions.

Dearest Irish (Texas Devlins, Rose’s Story) stars sheltered baby sister Rose, who possesses the greatest gift of all, the power to heal with her mind.

White Witch, a prequel novella, carries Jessie, Tye and their father through the Chicago Fire. (It still fascinates and horrifies me!)

Fine, but how did the siblings come by their psychic talents, you might ask. The answer lies in my love of Celtic mythology. The Devlins, it turns out, are descended from an ancient line of Irish Druids through their mother, who taught them early on to hide their secret powers, fearing they would be regarded as evil.

There you have it, the logic behind my madness. If you’d like to share the Devlins’ adventure and discover how they put down roots in Texas, their individual ebooks are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and in print via CreateSpace and Amazon.

In Addition, a boxed set titled Texas Devlins 4 Book Bundle is now available exclusively on Amazon at a crazy low price thru New Years Day.




Excerpt:

Now let me share a brief scene from Jessie’s story, wherein her dream hero has a surprise for her. Let’s call it an early Christmas gift.

. . . . . .  Pulling on her shapeless hat, she asked David, “What is it ye want to show me?”
“You’ll see,” he replied with a mysterious grin. Catching her hand, he led her outside and down the porch steps, then hurried her toward the barn. The rain had slacked off to a fine drizzle but the ground was muddy underfoot.
“Slow down, will ye?” she pleaded breathlessly, struggling to match his long-legged stride and keep her skirts from dragging in the mud. “I don’t want to slip.”
            He immediately slowed. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking,” he said with a look of chagrin. He kept to a more cautious pace after that but didn’t say another word until they came to a halt inside the barn, facing a stall within which stood a comely, long-legged mare. Her reddish coat glowed softly in a beam of misty sunlight coming through a chink in the wall. Lifting her head, she eyed them calmly while chewing a mouthful of hay.
“Do you like her?” David asked.
“Aye, she’s beautiful.”
            “She’s yours.”
“Mine!” She stared at him in astonishment.
            He grinned broadly. “Yup. I’ve been meaning to get you a good mount, so I stopped by the Bayliss spread on my way back. They run horses on their range. When I saw the mare, I knew she was the one for you.”
            Jessie gazed mutely at the horse, feeling her eyes tear up. He had bought this beautiful creature for her!
Misinterpreting her silence, he said, “Of course, if you don’t like her, we can trade her for another.” He sounded disappointed.
            “No, no! I want no other,” she assured him. She reached over the top rail of the stall, offering her hand for the mare to inspect. The horse eyed her warily for a moment, then ambled over and daintily nosed Jessie’s palm, snuffling as she took in her scent. It tickled. Giggling at the sensation, Jessie rubbed the animal’s soft muzzle. David’s hands circled her waist, and she smiled at him over her shoulder.
“She’s the most marvelous gift anyone’s ever given me. I don’t know how to thank you,” she said tremulously.
            “I can think of a way,” he said, removing her hat. He lifted her braid aside and bent to kiss the nape of her neck, making her breath catch.


Author Lyn Horner

Lyn Horner grew up in Minnesota, where she married her high school sweetheart and had two children, a son and a daughter. After shuffling around the central time zone for several years, she and her family settled in North Texas. Now that their children are grown, she and her husband reside in Fort Worth along with several very spoiled cats.

Trained in the visual arts, Lyn worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor before she took up writing. This hobby grew into a love of historical research and the crafting of passionate love stories based on that research. Lyn published her first book in 2010 and has since published six more plus a Christmas short story. The recipient of numerous awards and complimentary reviews, she is now at work on her next book.
  
She loves to hear from readers. Visit her on any of these sites: