Sunday Book Nook – The Lost Ones and Fire Bound

Book Nook

For 2020, I thought I’d do a regular spot on what I’m reading. As I like to curl on Sunday’s with a cup of tea and some reading, I thought I’d call these posts “Sunday Book Nook”. It’s just a glimpse into what I’m reading at that particular time.

Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. Doesn’t matter how I’m feeling – if I’m sick, or tired, or full of energy – or travelling – at work, at my folks, on holiday- or just at home, I LOVE to read. I can always read and always carry at least one book with me. Probably not a revelation considering I’m a writer!

Early last year I finally got a room in our house that is just for my books. It’s my ‘library’ with a cosy, comfy chair that I spent some time in every day. It’s my happy place.

To start off 2020, I’ve been reading The Lost Ones by Anita Frank and Fire Bound by Christine Feehan. A gothic story and a paranormal romance – awesome choices in my opinion.

books

The Lost Ones is a true gothic ghost story. I love a good gothic story and this one didn’t disappoint. I found it really atmospheric and eerie. What I did struggle with was the first 80 or so pages. There were a lot of places where it lagged in the beginning, not really gripping my attention, but there were snippets that showed me I had to keep reading. And I’m glad I did. If you like historical gothic ghost stories, this is definitely a book for you.

I’ve been reading Christine Feehan books for 16 (yikes!) years. I adored her Dark series when I first started reading them, but got bored after a while and stopped reading them. I was so excited when she started doing a number of different series. I recently found the Torpedo Ink series and as I’m also writing an MC romance, thought I’d give it a go. I LOVED it. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Torpedo Ink series and cannot wait for the next books to come out this year. One is out in January so I’m definitely going to treat myself to that if I hit my writing targets 🙂 Although part of another series, the Sea Haven series, Fire Bound has characters with links to the Torpedo Ink series (brothers).

It’s a great paranormal romance. Although at first I was confused – mainly because I was coming into the Sea Haven series near the end as Fire Bound is one of the final books – but as soon as I got into it, it’s well worth it. Sexy hero, strong heroine, paranormal abilities and a spy thriller story-line wrapped up with some hot sex – perfect read for a winter’s afternoon. Not as high on my list of favourites as the Torpedo Ink series, but it’s definitely reinforced my renewed love of Christine Feehan.

Up next for me, another gothic ghost story and one of my favourite reads of the last few years, The Silent Companions. It’s sooo creepy. I wouldn’t have chosen to read it right after The Lost Ones but it’s our book club read for a book club I run at work.

silent companions.jpg

Until the next Sunday Book Nook, happy reading!

 

Happy 2020! What do you have planned for the year?

Pink & Gold Simple New Year Social Media Graphic

Happy 2020 to everyone! It’s a new year and a completely new decade. How exciting.

I hope you all had a great festive period and got to spend time with people that make you happy. I took some time off over Christmas to spend with Mister Scarlett and my parents. As most of you know, my Mom has terminal cancer so it was a quiet Christmas with lots of laughter and some tears. But the most important thing was we all had a great time 🙂

This week marks the beginning of a new decade. I can’t believe where the time went! 2010-2019 was a great decade for me. Of course, there were some lows, but the highs were amazing.

I got published with Ellora’s Cave in 2011 – something I’d been hoping for since I started reading their books. It was a dream come true (for a while, but that is another well publicised story) and I met some wonderful readers and authors – you are all amazing!

I got married to a wonderful man who is everything to me. Loving. Handsome. A great friend and champion of my writing. I love him more than words can say.

We had some beautiful holidays in places I’d never been. Got a lovely new house and a garden where I can grow veggies and plants.

It also saw my lupus and chronic illness restrict what I can do. I had to drop my work hours to part time and then my Mom – my best friend – got cancer. We got the terminal diagnosis not long after, and I know the next few months are going to be very hard, but I’m still blessed to have her here.

Bokeh Lights New Year Quotes (1)

What are my hopes for this year?

Well, I’m on a regular writing schedule. Woohoo! So the motorcycle club romance trilogy I’ve been promising you for years will finally be released. I’m working on those books this month and by spring, the first book WILL be available on Amazon. I’m also going to submit the manuscript I wrote during #NaNoWriMo to the Mills & Boon Dare line. *Fingers crossed* you’ll see that some time this year!

pens

As a child, I always got a fancy fountain pen for Christmas and this year Mister Scarlett surprised me with one in my favourite colour. So there will be definitely be lots more writing.

I did the Good Reads challenge last year and managed to read 111 books. I’m not setting a goal this year for reading as it pressures me into the mentality that I’ve “gotta read”, but I am committing to one hour per day.

Other goals include increasing my strength and fitness. I love to go for walks, but since I’ve been ill that is so much harder. I’ve started exercise routines in the past that have crippled me over the weeks, and diets which have made me ill. This year is about strength. Emotional and physical. As with my writing goals it will be manageable. Slow and steady.

Finally, I got some circular needles for Christmas. I’ve never been able to knit in the round, so this is the year I want to learn 🙂 If you have any patterns for beginners, leave me a link below. I’ve already started and, after a shaky beginning, seems to be going well.

knitting

So to sum up, my goals for 2020 are:

  • Write and release more books with a regular writing schedule.
  • Manageable strength and fitness for my health
  • See family and friends more – make time for them
  • Grow my edible garden
  • Knit in the round

2020 is a new page, a new chapter. Let’s make it a good one 🙂

Let me know what your goals, hopes, resolutions. I’d love to hear them!

Writer Wednesday – writing year review for 2019

writer-wednesday

For the last #WriterWednesday of 2019 I thought I’d do a post on my writing year in review. It’s been a rocky one – ups and downs galore – but I’m happy to admit I’m ending 2019 on a writing high 🙂
So, let’s start with January.

In January I decided to get my sh*t together and create a plan (okay, so the plan didn’t come together until the end of January, but hey, it was still January!). I love watching YouTube videos from the author, Sarra Cannon. She has a craft channel called Heart Breathings. She is such a breath of fresh air with videos on the craft and the realistic life/goals of a writer. I love her because she is so generous to her fans – always creating work books for free – and not being constantly all about the hustle, hustle, hustle. She is real and talks about the real struggles of writing when you have other commitments – a job, family, school, chronic health issues.

She has a system called HB90. You plan your writing goals for 90 days at a time and be laser focused for those 3 months.

I could do this. It would give me structure and 90 days was a good period of time.

So I planned. I planned my 3 monthly goals.

  1. Increase sales and engagement
  2. Finish and release the first book in the Knights of Hell MC trilogy
  3. Plot and write first 3 chapters of a Mills & Boon Dare submission

Easy. Sustainable.

Err…not. I failed. Oh, for the first month I wrote, I promoted and then I got lazy. Life happened. I got sick. Mom got sicker. Work got crazy. Life got in the way and I didn’t make writing a priority. It came way down my list of commitments.

Lets skip to June. I did some editing and started that Mills & Boon story while I was soaking up the sun in Santorini with Mister Scarlett (who wouldn’t want to write in such a beautiful setting?!), but it never got past 1,000 words.

santorini

Fast forward to August. I’m writing here and there. Book 1 in the Knights of Hell MC trilogy, Sinful, is complete (first draft only though). I made the decision not to release it until the other two were finished. I did add some words here and there, but nothing substantial. All the while the sales on my old titles have dwindled to nothing.

In September, I release an old story with Totally Bound.

By the time November rolls around I’m determined to get my ass in gear and do NaNoWriMo. As I explained in my other post, due to numerous things, I couldn’t commit to 50000 words. It just seemed too…insurmountable. So I made my own goal – 30000. 1000 words per day. Again, I charted my progression in another post (but I’m happy to say I hit it!).

One thing NaNo did for me was create a manageable, sustainable goal. I had to commit to just 30-45 minutes per day to getting the words down. That’s it. Just 30 minutes.

And you know what? It worked! By the end of NaNo, I had 36000 words. I’m happy to say as of Saturday just gone, I completed the first draft of the Mills & Boon submission I’ve been wanting to write for so long. Whoop, whoop.

Compared to this time last year, I feel in such a good place. I’m not doing 1000 words per day now, but I’m aiming for 750 a day. Mister Scarlett asked me how I was going to be accountable to myself now that NaNo is over and that’s a good question. After all, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. I’m a known slipper. Always have been. There is always something else I can find to do – binge Netflix, read, scroll through Instagram, watch YouTube videos, nap.

So for the end of the year and first few months of 2020 I have a manageable, sustainable (you seeing a theme with the buzzwords here?) plan.

From now until 31st December – I’m working on an erotic Christmas romance that I started in 2018. 750 per day, and I want to try and hit 10000 words by the end of the month. That’s with taking the holidays off. I started on Monday and I’m already 4063 words in.

word count tracker

January 2020 – I’m going to finish the Knights of Hell MC trilogy. 750 words per day. 20000 word target.

February – editing the Mills & Boon submission, working on the synopsis and putting together a trilogy proposal.

See? A plan. Manageable. Sustainable.

One of the things I have found in 2019 is the joy of writing again. It sounds like a cliche, but I lost that for so long.

Some days it’s still hard, but there are the days when it flows and the words fly onto the page, and there is such a joyous feeling inside me when that happens that I can’t explain it to people. The consistency helps the words fly. If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the past year it’s consistency is the key to the words. The more I do it, the easier it gets (not always, but mostly). The writing has also been helping me, mentally, deal with a lot of stuff. It’s an outlet. A sorely needed one.

As 2019 draws to a close, there have been ups and downs, I haven’t published anything new, but I have lots of things coming together. The best thing about 2019 is I’ve rediscovered why I write. I’ve rediscovered the joy and that makes 2019 worth it!

I hope your 2019 has been everything you imagined. Let me know if you have any plans for 2020. I’d love to hear them!

 

Writer Wednesday – #Nanowrimo update

Writer Wednesday

It’s time for another Writer Wednesday post. This time it’s an update on how #NaNoWriMo is going.

I’ve been really quiet on my blog and on social media for the past few weeks because I’ve been writing. And *gasp, shock horror, blow me down with a god damn feather* I have been sticking to my word count and writing every day.

Remember the post I wrote back at the beginning of November? If you can’t, I’ll link it here . I set a goal of writing 1,000 words per day for the whole of November, with the aim of reaching 30,000 by the end of the month.

I’m happy to say as of 25th November I reached 30, 117 and I’m still going. Woohoo.

There has only been one day in the month so far that I haven’t written. That was due to being sick so I gave myself the day off – and didn’t feel guilty about it! All the other days, even on work days where I only had 15 minutes to write, I managed to get words down. Most days I reached 1,000. Some days only half that. Other days It hit 1,200.

The important thing for me has been consistency. I only had to write 1,000 words per day. That would take about 30 minutes or so. I broke it down into two 15 minute stints. Sometimes I’d write a little bit more – another 15 minutes or so, but never more than that.

For me, 30,000 words is nearly a whole novella. Although I haven’t finished my Mills & Boon Dare submission yet, I’m proud of the fact I CAN write a full novella in a short amount of time. This is the most productive I’ve ever been with my writing, but the most important thing is it has helped me remember the sheer joy I get from writing.

Yes, some days it’s been hard. Some days it’s like pulling teeth to get the words on the page, but I kept doing it. One word at a time. Other days it simply flowed. After each writing session I came away feeling elated. I love my characters. I love sitting down and creating imaginary worlds on a page. It allows me to lose myself and forget about whatever else is going on for little while.

Another important thing I’ve come to realise is how good a regular writing schedule is for my mental health. I’ve always found writing cathartic. Over the past 26 days I’ve found it’s had a positive effect on my mental health. With everything going on at the moment, the ‘side effect’ of writing has proven to be healing.

I need to write. I’d forgotten that.

With social media and keeping up an online presence (which is important, and I love each and every person whom I’ve met online), promoting my books, the admin side of the business, I’d forgotten the simple joy of sitting down to write. As J. R. Ward said “The work always comes first. Magic happens when you put the work first.” I’ve got this pinned on my board at home to remind myself that the writing, the stories, come first.

Although I set my own goal for NaNoWriMo, the month allowed me to find the joy in writing again. It gave me space and clarity to remember I can do this. I love doing this. I might not do 1,000 words per day from here on in, but I will set a regular word count for each week. After all, I know I can do it.

I just need to keep on doing it 🙂

Writer Wednesday – #NaNoWriMo

Writer Wednesday.jpg

I’m going to introduce a new feature for Wednesdays. I won’t be updating every week, maybe once a month (don’t hold me to that, I’m notoriously bad at updating my blog!) I’ll do a post called ‘Writer Wednesday‘. I’ll chat about the writing process, publishing, the practicalities of writing.  Let me know in the comments below if there is a particular topic you want me to cover and I’ve be happy to do a post on it.

Sooo, for this week’s ‘Writer Wednesday‘ I’m going to be talking about NaNoWriMo. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s National Novel Writing Month. You can visit the website for more info. The basic premise is you commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November.

I don’t normally do NaNoWriMo. I tend to keep my own schedule and committing to a certain number of words per day (if you do the 50,000 that’s 1,666 per day) just makes me antsy and terrified. But this year I decided to sign up. Go, me!

 

Nano

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, feel free to follow me 🙂

I decided to sign up because I really want to complete a rough draft of a submission for the Mills & Boon Dare line. This has been on my to-do list since April. I’ve started the story (about 5,000 words in already) and have it all plotted, but the Knights of Hell series has been taking precedence. I came to the conclusion I would NEVER get to this Mills & Boon sub if I didn’t do something.

So I signed up for Nano.

The terrifying thing for me is, I’m not an everyday writer. With lupus, a job, and a sick Mom, other things sometimes have to take priority. Added to that, my books have NEVER reached 50,000 words. Some have come close. I think Claiming Ruby comes in around 42,000. I’m not even sure I can do 50,000 words.

But I want to do this. NaNo provides a perfect opportunity to get in regular writing sessions and to have a whole community of support. That is one of the best things about NaNo – the community. There is an online forum for support, but also regular local writing sessions. Honestly, if you are looking to write that novel and want to stay motivated, NaNo might be the thing for you.

I signed up a few weeks before November 1st…and then totally freaked out. I can’t commit to writing 1,666 words per day. Am I crazy? Sometimes I don’t even do that in a week! Lately I’ve implemented a 15 minute writing stint every day where I can average around 400 words, and at the end of the week those word counts add up. But 1,666 EVERY day? Nah. I can’t do it.

And knowing me like I do, I’d feel like a complete failure for not meeting those word counts. No matter how sick I felt. No matter what else was happening, I’d still feel like a failure. And that would put me off sitting down to write at all.

Being a writer is easy you say? Pfff. Hell no. As well as figuring out a writing schedule and actually getting the ideas down, you have to deal with all kinds of guilt (but that’s another blog post).

Anyhoo, at the advice of the awesome romance writing community, I decided to set my own goal for NaNo.

30,000 words in 30 days. 1,000 words a day. I can cover this pretty much in two 15 minute writing stints. Easy, right? I’m already doing one 15 minute stint, another one and I would have 30,000 at the end of it.

It’s now 6th November and I’m hitting my word counts *whoop, whoop*

nano 2

I can’t give you my typical NaNo day. Sometimes I write for 30 minutes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon. Never at night as I’m just pretty dead after 6pm.

I write at my desk, in a coffee shop, at work on lunch. I write on my computer and in notebooks.

Bascially, I’m doing what I can, when I can.

Mister Scarlett asked me what happens if I don’t hit my word count one day. I’m not sure, but I’m determined not to beat myself up. If at the end of the month I don’t have 30,000…that’s okay. But I will have a big chunk of wordage that I didn’t have on October 31st and that is something to be celebrated 🙂

Wish me luck for the rest of the month!

Where do I get my ideas? The story behind my latest re-release, Owned by the Night

LustBites_TB_2019_OwnedbytheNight_1500x2400

I’m so excited that Owned by the Night, my erotic paranormal romance has been re-released with Totally Bound! It’s available from the Totally Bound site, Amazon or all good online bookstores for 99p/99c. A real bargain for such a steamy book 😉

In honor of the re-release I thought I’d share where I got the idea for this story.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is: where do you get your ideas from? It’s not an easy question for a writer to answer. Ideas come from everywhere – everyday things, news, movies, books, something someone said to me…

I tend to get a lot of story ideas, specifically “moods” of books, from music.

Owned by the Night is no exception. Actually, this story has a clear correlation to a specific song.

And that song is…Closer by the Kings of Leon. In case you’ve never heard the song, I’ve linked to a video on YouTube below.

Here are the lyrics:

“Closer”

Stranded in this spooky town
Stoplights are swaying and the phone lines are down
Floor is crackling cold
She took my heart, I think she took my soul
With the moon I run
Far from the carnage of the fiery sun

Driven by the strangle of vein
Showing no mercy I’d do it again
Open up your eyes
You keep on crying, baby I’ll bleed you dry
Skies are blinking at me
I see a storm bubbling up from the sea

And it’s coming closer
And it’s coming closer

You shimmy-shook my bone
Leaving me stranded all in love on my own
Do you think of me?
Where am I now, baby where do I sleep?
Feels so good but I’m old
2000 years of chasing taking its toll

And it’s coming closer
And it’s coming closer
And it’s coming closer
And it’s coming closer

I get such a dark vibe from this song. Always have done. I think I had it on repeat the whole time I was writing the story.

 

 

Listening to the lyrics, I came up with Kyrian and Allgera. A female vampire turning a male, one she thinks she can control, but ultimately ends up running from. Eventually, after thousands of years, he catches up to her and she finally gives into her desire to be with him.

 

 

Ohhh, think I just gave myself goosebumps 🙂 The story itself was originally called Closer but my lovely editor decided to go for something a bit more suited to the storyline. And thank god for that!

 

 

Owned by the Night is sexy and dark and full of possession and fangs. I’m so glad it’s out

in the world again.

 

I really enjoyed sharing where I get specific ideas for my stories. If you liked this post, and would like to know more about where I get my ideas, post a comment below.
You can purchase Owned by the Night at:
OwnedbytheNight_outnow

Gardens and the search for the perfect pizza dough…

Well, it’s been another eventful few weeks since I last wrote a blog post.

Our garden landscaping is now finished! It looks so pretty. It’s very low maintenance, with raised beds and tiles instead of grass. Exactly what I need with me having lupus. It means I have easy access to do some gardening and grow veggies.

What do you think?

Now the fun part starts 🙂 I haven’t had a workable garden for a while, so I’m doing my research on what is best to plant in containers, and what vegetables I can grow in a small patch. I’m already propagating chillies.

Mister Scarlett had some specially built food prep areas. He’s intending to get an Uni Pro pizza oven and become a pizza master! While we wait for the oven to be delivered, we’ve been experimenting with pizza dough and various proving techniques. I love cold proving (something I’ve only just discovered!). Here is our most recent attempt at pizza (my toppings were ham, mushroom and olives):

pizza

Do you have any good dough recipes we could try out?

On the writing front, I’m steadily working my way through edits on Sinful. The more I get into the story, the more I fall in love with Zeke and Grace. She is so feisty. Such a perfect match for Zeke despite their differences, but whew! they do go through the ringer! *evil laugh*

One thing I hate doing (and I do mean hate – it’s torture!) is writing blurbs. Now I’m self-publishing, all these admin tasks are solely my responsibility. Before, my editor used to help out. I truly suck at it, but I’ve been writing and re-writing the blurb for Sinful, so fingers crossed it’s okay.

That’s pretty much it for this blog post. I’m heading back into the writing cave…or maybe out into the garden…