Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dreams and writing in the middle of the night

You know how people say you should write your dreams in a journal because they tell your deepest desires, fears, etc? Well, I do write my dreams down. They're my stories. Freud and the psychology world can have a field day considering some of them!

My first published story - came from a dream that woke me up, would not let me go back to sleep until I wrote it down. At 3 o'clock in the morning! So, ever obedient, I got up, cranked up the computer and wrote the scene between Serena and Keith in his playroom. I emailed it immediately to Angela, whom I was working on something else with. I didn't remember sending it to her, but about noon the next day, before I'd had a chance to go back and tidy it up, I had a reply from her basically saying - drop the other stuff and go with this.

So, I learned - when the dreams grab hold of me, I get my butt out of bed and write. (The cats usually like this as they get breakfast much earlier.) The dialogue, the story flow, descriptions and emotions - somehow they all seem surreal, yet more real at the same time when you get up in the darkness. When things are still and the rest of the world is still asleep, the mind lets it all out and the fingers fly across the keyboard.

I'm not saying it's always written perfectly. I'm still not sure how many errors were in that first scene. But the flow is there. The thrust and passion of the story comes out and the characters speak loud and clear as my mind hasn't had time to fill up with other, more mundane things.

I didn't think I could duplicate that process in the daytime. It just seemed so special, so rare. But I found it this summer - during my June writing blitz. I learned how to take the nighttime dream phase and channel it into a focus in sunlight. Call it the muse, or a writer maturing, but the story rushed out of me non-stop and I had a hard time keeping up with it all.

And I loved every minute of it. It was a turning point for me on a couple levels. First, I realized I did have the discipline to sit down and write every day without getting caught up in the distractions of social media or computer games. Second, I'd discovered how to 'flip the switch' and channel it, work with the story and characters.

The first of the Carnal Connections series will be out soon. It's the first of many things - first in the series, first self-pub'ed, and first in a breakthrough I had as a writer. I hope you find yourself as lost in reading Sean and Jessica's story as I did in writing it.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Start!

Alrighty then! No caffeine and I'm galloping off like a herd of turtles. Yup, no specific direction at no speed. Sigh.

I've done quite a bit of preparation for my Month of Cleaning and Clearing. I went through all the cabinets, the fridge and the freezer. Tossed out what wasn't on the 'approved' list for October - okay, I ate the ice cream, because, well Fudge Ripple! And let things run out - like the creamer I love for my coffee. There were leftovers that I made into a slow cooker 'everything in the pot' soup. It's a bit bland, but delicious and filling and since I hate throwing away good food, I feel better about it.

I've reworked the grocery list to get this Friday on payday - lots of fresh veggies, not as much meat, chicken and seafood as I would normally get, but it's labeled organic, so I'm hoping it tastes better. The total should be about the same for not as much. I figure if I'm eating better, that's all right.

The Cleaning and Clearing mode isn't just in the kitchen though. I went through my make-up and overhauled it. I kept picking things up and wondering 'when did I get this?' Some things were months' if not years' old (I'm a semi-hoarder) so quite a bit went straight into the trash can I'd cleverly put by the dresser. It's not easy to do, but... to know that what I've got is new/freshly opened, stuff I like and will wear and, most importantly, is flattering, well, it's a good feeling. I'm looking forward to a more streamlined prep time tomorrow morning! No more fumbling around, muttering to myself looking for the color I want. It's all right out in front ready for me to choose.

Now, time for 30 minutes walking and 30 minutes of yoga, then writing!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New Start inside out and everything else

I'm charging forward in October and putting ME first.
Here's the plan -- 
I'm taking care of my body with only healthy foods - no sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, as organic as I can; thirty minutes at least of walking and yoga daily.
The yoga will be a part of the mental and emotional care. The other part will be ignoring politics and debates and people who demand I chose a side. I do NOT have to chose a side. The whole world has gone batshit crazy and it really doesn't want to be fixed. Everyone arguing is so insistent that they've the only right idea that they refuse to listen to anyone else - so you know what? I'm no going to listen to any of it. The world will keep right on spinning without me worrying about it.
And by the end of October I will have cleaned out everything I haven't used in the past six years since I moved east.
So, if you require your Facebook friends to follow your every political debate, and require action for every single thing in life - Bless you, but I don't have the time, energy or craps to give for it right now. I'm in the second half of my life and I'm, finally, going to put me first. I've been a daughter, sister, wife (albeit briefly) and mother/cousin/aunt all my life and I think it's time I figure out just who I am alone.
So, yeah, starting next Sunday - my posts will most likely be about my cats, writing, and the occasional idiot that crossed my path (okay, I live a stone's throw from the Potomac - so that'll probably be daily). And maybe, if I'm lucky, an epiphany or more about life.
Politicians and professional athletes can go jump off the Washington Monument for all I care right now.
Have a nice day. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Exercise reboot - take three

Sigh. Muscle spasms yesterday were soooo painful! I'm now restricted to walking and yoga. The doctor said she wished she had a camera to take a picture of my expression. She knows I want to avoid the middle-age, menopause middle and that I'm really trying to stay active. I tried to talk my way into doing the Denise Austin DVDs, other routines, anything... she just shook her head at every 'offer' I made. Then she dropped the kicker - walking only, no 'high impact' intervals at all. Well, that just had me practically begging for something more. So, she said there wasn't a step limit.

Win! I think. The Doc knows me and I think I just got played. In fact, I'm 99% sure she let me do all that to think I'd won with no step limit. I'm not sure I care. I can walk until the cows come home and finish up with yoga and the stretches she wants me to do.

I'll start with the aim of getting 6k steps a day for the first week. If my back feels good, I'll bump it up 2k the second week. Cross your fingers!

I need to redo my walking playlist for slower songs - I mean, when the Rocky theme starts, the feet have to move as fast as they can! Any ideas? Please post them!

I've pulled out all the yoga DVDs and books, again. And am going back through them to come up with my own sequences. Do you have a favorite? Anything that really helps your back and core?

So, here we go again - hoping the third time is the charm.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

the good, the bad, and finding a balance

Oooo, Abby was bad. *hangs my head* I went a week without working out. I could feel my back start hurting again, felt it in my body, but still didn't. But... I had two incredible brainstorms - the Hallow's End trilogy, which I've got outlined and bubbling about in my head, and the working title Seduced by His Song - about a singer/actor (think Justin Timberlake) who sleeps with a bartender (Sean and Jessica have slowly built up a sort of relationship over five years) who is caught in his hotel room the next morning - because he raved about his 'incredible night' on a radio program after he'd checked out. (Yup, inspired by Orlando Bloom's encounter). This is seriously the most flowing story I've done since Model Fantasy, which I wrote in the week between Christmas and New Year's.

Soooo - June is going to be all about finding balance in everything. What will help is being able to take 2 1/2 weeks of vacation from the day job and I can focus on writing and not juggling everything about real life. It's really what I'd like to do every day of my life and is my dream.

This is the plan (subject as always to the voices in my head!) - I'll get up at the usual work time - about 6am. Put on the workout clothes as soon as my feet hit the floor, take care of the cats, have a half cup of coffee while doing that, and do a workout - the workouts are going to be mostly Denise Austin's DVDs and some yoga thrown in. Which means by 8am, 830 at the latest, I should be at the computer ready to write. Writing until the stomach says 'yo, we're a bit empty down here', take a short break, and back to writing. Now, I've found that sometimes I need an exercise break, so I might pull on the sneakers and hit the treadmill for 15 minutes or so. And write all afternoon.

When the voices let up or the back screams 'enough!', I'll stop for the evening, do some sun salutations to stretch out (closely supervised by my cat yogis, mais oui), and relax a bit.

Now, this current inspiration - Sam Claflin is the model for the hero - Sean Livingston. No 'star' for the heroine - I have a perfume ad of a brunette up on the wall. Sean is a superstar - his ex-wife says he has three redeeming qualities - situational awareness of when to keep his mouth shut isn't one of them though. Jessica has worked in the super ritzy London hotel since she was eighteen, working her way from dining room waitress to assistant bartender/private room manager in five years. She has a few secrets that trickle out! Jess is one of the few Sean trusts - he knows she's figured a few things out about him, but has never said a word to the tabloids. When his foot-in-mouth moment lands her in trouble, Sean sweeps her off to a Caribbean island and a few other places. (I'm talking super steamy just about everywhere when these two are in the same room!) Oh, I've also got a few pics of couples horizontal on the beach and am playing Chris Isaacs' Wicked Games quite a bit!

Now, off to the day job, while the voices keep going...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

making progress day by day

Three weeks in and I'm rather proud of myself. I'm doing bellydance five days a week - Tuesdays and Thursdays are my early days in to the day-job so if I hit the snooze button I don't beat myself up about it. I keep a pair of sneakers and socks at the office and make sure I get in at least a 20 minute walk at lunch. The other five days, I do at least two DVDs, so an hour or so of dance on those days. I'm watching my portions, trying to cut out the sweets (that's a continuing battle!), and drinking water like a fish.

I've noticed a few things. As I mentioned on facebook, my hips and lower back aren't hurting as much. Bellydancing has really helped there. I didn't start out going full-tilt with the shimmies and hip circles, but gave my body a week or so to adjust and loosen up. And it's paying off. Before starting, I was in what I call constant awareness of pain in my back. Constantly going to the doctor... well, I don't have time for that, or the money. I am extremely reluctant to take pain meds of any sort. (I take a Claritin and my brain is fuzzy for hours, as if wrapped in cotton.) Yoga has helped in the past but I think I've found something that really works for me. Even if I don't lose any weight or inches, the decreasing pain and discomfort more than makes up for it.

Now, I am hoping I lose some weight and inches, of course. I took my measurements on May 1 and will take them again on the first day of summer. I'll post them so that accountability is helping me stick to it. 😃  No pictures though. I'm not that bold.

I've been going through drawers and the closet - lingerie, socks and workout clothes were done last week. Work/casual clothes the week before. It's so lovely to open up doors and drawers and know that what I'm looking at fits, is ready to wear and are things I want to wear. I'm still a bit amazed that I had so many socks that were that worn down in the heels, or how much I had that had elastic that was so stretched out. Those things alone were taking up so much room!

Then last week, things came to a semi-screeching halt - BRAINSTORM! The images, the voices, the characters - they took over and last Saturday I wrote. This week, if I was home, I wrote. I still got my dance in, and took care of the cats, but that's it. Writing Annie and Charlie's story was an obsession. Last Saturday I beat my personal record for daily word count - 11k in 33 pages. I'm absolutely loving this story - triplets, a mysterious town with a magical history, witches and ghosts, murder and sex. The hero is a NYC cop who moves to Hallow's End to escape his pain and the heroine is a triplet who comes into her magical inheritance. It's part of a series and the other two in the triplets are getting their stories ready.

Have a lovely week!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Reflection of the week

You know the saying 'attitude determines altitude'? Well, the words you use really influence your attitude altitude. That hit home in a big way this week. I was determined to fit in my workouts, at least one 30 minute session each day. The first couple days, I was like 'Ugh! I have to do my workouts. I have to get up earlier. I'm tired after work and I still have to do my workout.' By Tuesday night, I was worried that I wouldn't get through the first week, let alone to summer.
So, I started telling myself - I get to get up and dance. I get to go home and dance. 

Wednesday, I rolled over, ready to hit the snooze button and told myself 'get up to dance.'
Thursday night (I had to go in early), on the bus, I kept telling myself - you get to go home and dance.' Saying that, instead of 'workout', well, it worked.

Some people love workouts and have no problem calling them that. A sister-in-law is one of those people. She loves doing her workouts no matter what the time of day. I have to trick myself. That's okay. I got the workouts dances in and felt better both physically and mentally. Calling it dance changed how I looked at it.

Now, if it can just change my waistline by a couple inches...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Self Spring Cleaning

I've cleaned and cleaned, scrubbed the walls, sprayed at stains on the carpets, shaken cat hair out of blankets and curtains and washed them, and ... time to spring clean ME. I decided to do this over the weekend, laying out my plan - diet, exercise, clothes. Little bits at a time so by summer in SIX weeks, a happier, calmer, maybe a few pounds lighter Abby can greet the warmer weather.

First up - food and drink - the first thing to go was my glass of wine in the evening. Empty calories add up and I've no room for that! I pulled out (most) of the junk food, keeping a little for treats and putting them in inconvenient places - ice cream buried in the freezer and cookies way up on a top cabinet shelf (I'm short and getting to them will be a pain). Next came really thinking and planning out my weekly meals - I spent an hour or so on Sunday chopping, grating and dicing peppers, mushrooms and veggies while cooking mini ears of corn, a bag of brown rice and baking chicken breasts. I love a bit of salmon mixed in my scrambled eggs so I chopped that as well, plus spinach. Now - no excuses for not eating good-for-me food. I'm drinking water like crazy - at least 8 oz every hour. I'm looking at the frequent bathroom breaks as adding steps to my daily total. :)

Second was exercise. I'll be honest here - I get bored REALLY easily when it comes to exercise. All those long programs by the fitness experts? Yeah, they're great, but by the second or third week (I've managed to get that far a couple times) I'm bored and thinking 'what's next?' Especially the ones that repeat the same routine every day - really? BORING! I flipped through the binders (yes, multiple) of the exercise DVDs I have and decided to focus on bellydance for at least six weeks - I have the BellyTwins and Rania Bossonis. Through in some yoga and maybe some walking (Leslie Sansone's Punch up your Walk - four miles is a fave), and I figured there would be enough variety to keep even my hop-skipping brain engaged. Soooo - I started Monday with Rania's Hip Hop Hip Drop. That was enough to make me realize I needed to do this slowly or my back would go 'nope, no good. We're outta here.' I walked 20 minutes at work on Tuesday and this morning I did the BellyTwins' Basic Moves and then Hip Drop. Much better. I'm going to do those this week to get the body 'warmed up and ready' and hopefully not let enthusiasm get the best of me.

Third - clothes - sigh. And shoes. Double sigh. But  really, I don't need or wear stuff from five years ago? It's in the way and I can't get to (or see) what I really want to wear. Or can. (I've still got a bit of winter poundage to lose.) The plan - every time I see something in the wardrobe or drawers that I haven't worn in a couple years, can't wear or am 90% sure I won't wear, it goes in a blue plastic bag. Same for shoes. Right now, I have a bag full of shoes and a half-full bag of clothes. Goodwill will love me in a couple weeks!

So, would you like to join me? Let's Spring Clean ourselves and get ready for summer!

Friday, March 3, 2017

The weekend! Finally

Have three stories bubbling in my brain (yes, the voices can do that! lol) - two are paired up - in the first - the woman is a bitch and the man deals with her, she learns a lesson and in the second, the situation is reversed - the man is an asshat and the woman teaches him. And the third - it's the lovers kept apart by snobby relatives (his) and he goes searching for her, throw in an ice storm, an isolated farmhouse.... ;) I won't be able to write them this weekend, but I'll get the gist of it down so I can go back to it. And, so far, these are stand-alones (or paired) and not with any series currently in the works. Then again, the characters have this habit of going 'hey! guess what we're doing now?'. I'm just along for the ride.

I've received a few emails about Ally in The Master's Choice, mostly saying she's just too weak for them. I appreciate the feedback! What I was trying to show was a different type of strength in a woman. She's been through a lot - lost everyone in her family except a long-lost cousin and then was in a marriage to Kevin MacLauren (more to come on him!) - so I just wanted to show different ways women deal with situations. And she does stand up to JW and demand he be honest with her.

I love the messages and emails so keep them coming!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

lots of fun and news!

Absolutely gorgeous day - I've got the doors and windows WIDE open for the fresh air and breeze. Cats are in heaven - chittering as they run from window to window (using me as a launching pad on occasion) and generally exhausting themselves so I figure they'll crash in a little bit.
I've a light Italian meatball soup simmering in the crock-pot and have wheat bread dough rising to make rolls this evening.

With this spring-like weather, I feel like I should be doing my spring cleaning, but I'm restraining myself. Mother Nature has a warped sense of humor, so I'll wait. Sort of. I moved the sub-zero parka and the winter boots from the entryway coat rack to the hall closet. And did a scrubbing of the walls. Not full out spring-weekend effort, but enough where I feel like I satisfied my spring fever itch.

I'm in full writing mode - two scenes to do for IM4 - one VERY hot and steamy - Jake let's loose on Tina and ties her up, and she's loving every minute of it - and the 'here's why Allura has been doing what she's doing' - ooo, the men are NOT happy. And then there's Barden - who has a crisis of confidence. The next three for the Interstellar Matchmaker series are bubbling about in my mind - Bessie's brother, Adam, Copper Fire's police chief, does something he's NEVER done before and secrets come out of the fire. For six and seven, two of Tina's older brothers literally dance their women off their feet, but... let's just say true love's course is never smooth! And the eighth - you like time travel with a Wizard of Oz twist? Allura's last matchmaking effort sends an Andersson back to the fifties.

Annnnd, I've received a few emails about my first series - unnamed, any ideas? - and I've gone back to it - Possessing Penny should be ready for Angela, my amazingly patient editor and incredible cover artist - in a couple weeks. Plus, Claiming Claire with the menage of Claire, Paul and David and a bit of a mystery. And, in a future book - something I've never done - using people I know as secondary characters - with their permission and their input - talk about scene stealers though! I think you'll love them as much as I do though. More on that in the future.

Have a fabulous week!

Monday, January 16, 2017

A writer's year - less clutter

My goal is to post every couple weeks about what my characters have told me lately, how they've taken hold of their story and, well, made it theirs and not mine. A few posts about life, the seasons, and who and what have influenced my writing.

January - Like a lot of people, I see the winter months as a time for nesting, staying home out of the cold weather (most of the time. I mean, what is with Mother Nature this year?!), and prepping for spring. The past couple weeks I've focused on prepping for spring - going through more magazines than I realized I had, going through clothes, the kitchen, my craft supplies, everything I can. Just trying to simplify. It's not easy. I'm the type of person who holds onto things for years and just knows that as soon as I throw something away, I'll need it. Most of the time I don't, of course, and I'm forcing myself to do toss, toss, TOSS, things I haven't used in... well, probably years. I'm asking myself - do I need this or do I want it?, when was the last time I actually used it? and, oddly enough, why the heck do I have two, or more, of these if I haven't used it in so long? Does the darn thing work? All those questions organizing gurus tell you to ask - I'm actually doing it.
So, lots of trips to the apartment complex dumpster.

While the living room and my bedroom are mini unnatural disasters as I continue January's project, things are finally settling down. I hope to have it completed by the end of the month. And yet, I also hope to keep doing it at least a few hours every month. I can already tell the difference in, well, just the clutter. There really is something to the talk about how less stuff and things about makes you feel calmer.

My three cats were entertained as they supervised and in a few instances, knocked over stacks of neat magazine piles I'd made according to subject - health/fitness, food, house, garden, etc. - and then proceeding to stretch out to groom themselves and each other. Totally not helping, and delaying the entire project, but looking so content and adorable it was difficult to get too frustrated. They quite approve of the now empty baskets that previously held the magazines though. New napping spots are always welcome.

I've also been busy writing. The Interstellar Matchmaker series is bubbling along - Bessie's oldest brother Adam, the oldest of the Andersson cousins and Copper Fire's police chief, is next up. And then there's some fire and ice to deal with, and my twist on time travel to finish up the series. The characters in Beloved of the Beast aren't being still either - Unleashed's Wulfgar has a cousin who has three weeks to be wed, but the intended bride's family has secrets. (hint - clues are in Unleashed and the soon-to-be-released Claimed). It's my twist on Red Riding Hood, with Snow White next.

Stay safe and warm during winter storms and may Mother Nature bring us an early warm spring!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

No more negative

There is just too much negativity around us. I don't think I'm the only one stressing, over-stressing to be honest, about things I can do absolutely nothing about. World events, national troubles, etc. We're hammered with them 24/7 in this age of a non-stop news cycle. And it wears us down and exhausts us.

I remember when news was on for thirty minutes, maybe an hour if you add in local stations' contributions, a night. People would watch, tsk, wonder what would or could be done, and then returned to focus on their own lives. There might be great outpouring at noteworthy events - i.e. JFK's assassination (before I was born), the moon landing (I remember that) or other significant happenings. We weren't drowning in continual news, most of it terrible, horrific and tragic.

And then people go around tut-tutting and wondering why we're all so stressed out, trying to drown our sorrows with alcohol or drugs, over-eating, with medical conditions that our grandparents would have shaken their heads in bewilderment about.
Duh. Millions get spent on studies that tell the blazingly obvious.

So, first thing I'm doing is shutting off the news. I know - in this day and age, it'll be nearly impossible to do. But I am going to. I can feel the difference in my mood, the tension in my body, especially my neck and shoulders, and the doctor can certainly tell in my blood pressure.

I figure I'll still know what's going on. I'm not going to go around with earplugs or a blindfold so I'll still pick up on things, but... just imagine. Not being so mentally and emotionally exhausted because I'm so damn wrapped up about things I can do absolutely nothing about. Am I sorry that tragedies happened around the world? Absolutely. But I can't do anything to prevent them.

What I CAN do is focus on my corner of the world. I CAN focus on my mood, my emotions, and my health. I CAN care about the people I come into daily or regular contact with, and pay attention to what they're going through. I CAN do something in my local region to make the world better. Maybe, just maybe, if enough people do that, the positive will spread.
I am going to focus on the positive this year, focus on what I CAN do, and turn it into WILL do and then DID.