Author’s Getaway

A couple of weeks ago, I packed my bags and headed out of town. No hubby or kids. No girlfriends. No fellow authors. Just me, my computer, and my characters for 4 days. Like a writing retreat, but solo. At first, it always feels a little weird. But I've spent so many years writing out by myself or with author Ella Sheridan than I'm used to it. To feel the complete silence of the hotel room, and know that I wouldn't be interrupted was a relief. I've been pushing pretty hard over the past year, through working with kids in the room, scribbling notes at the day job, pushing through to write in short periods of time where its hard to immerse myself in my characters. Yeah, relief was an understatement. photo (24) I took Nate and Sara's novella with me. My goal was to finish it, which I didn't. But I made really good progress. Even more important, I was able to sink into the characters and reacquaint myself with them. Spend time thinking about what they would do and say, without the pressure to finish before someone needed something. I think this is a great way to refill our creative well. I talk often about "refilling the well" in terms of renewing our energy, etc., but this is about the creative part of our lives. It reminded me to find ways to reconnect with this part of my life also, which will improve my writing, and also my enjoyment of my writing. That was a happy thing! [caption id="attachment_1061" align="alignleft" width="150"]I wish this was my hotel room. Wouldn't that have been atmospheric? I wish this was my hotel room. Wouldn't that have been atmospheric?[/caption] Another happy thing is going on today! I'm sharing on 2 other blogs and I hope you will join me. I'm over with the Nice Girls talking about, guess what, refilling the well.  :) And my latest hero, Jacob Blackstone (The Blackstone Heir), is being featured on the USA Today Happily Ever After blog with some other chivalrous heroes. What's your happy thing today? Dani

Belle Meade Plantation

Sorry about the mix-up with the blog posts today! And of course I couldn't fix it because I can't get my phone to do the admin stuff here on Wordpress. But better late than never, right? I do hope y'all enjoy my little treat below! I went on a little writing retreat last week near Nashville, TN (more on that in next week's post). While I was there, I took a little side trip. I'd always wanted to visit Belle Meade Plantation, which is an historic plantation that reached its peak in the horse racing industry. As I learned when I was there, all the thoroughbreds who have run (and won) major races over the last ten years or so can be directly linked to the bloodlines of this farm. How cool! I love this type of thing, especially houses, so the trip was extra fun! My pictures aren't nearly as good as the ones on the website, but here's a bit of what I saw on this cool, windy spring day: [caption id="attachment_1053" align="alignleft" width="300"]Belle Meade Plantation, writer's retreat, historic homes, research Belle Meade Plantation-Main House[/caption]               The tour of the house lasted about an hour. What was really interesting was that our tour guides (yes, more than one!) all dressed in period clothing. Each set of rooms had it's own tour guide--all of whom were super knowledgeable and personable. I truly enjoyed listening to their stories about both the house itself and the Harding-Jackson families. [caption id="attachment_1054" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Belle Meade Plantation, carriages, historic homes, writer's retreat, research, stables One of the carriages on display in the original stables.[/caption] There were quite a few carriages and sleighs on display in the stable house, with descriptions of how they were driven and what their purposes were. [caption id="attachment_1055" align="alignright" width="224"]This is the dairy on the plantation, which was actually the second largest source of income, behind the thoroughbred stables. This is the dairy on the plantation, which was actually the second largest source of income, behind the thoroughbred stables.[/caption]                     Touring the grounds allowed me to learn about the dairy business (they were one of the major suppliers of butter and milk to Nashville), one of the original slave cabins, and the mausoleum. The Jubilee project on the grounds chronicles the lives of the 130 slaves who worked the land, and almost half of them that stayed as paid servants after the Civil War. [caption id="attachment_1056" align="alignleft" width="224"]Belle Meade Plantation, magnolia tree, historic homes, stables, research The doll house where children of the family played.[/caption]                     The grounds had some of the largest magnolia trees I'd ever seen. Considering all the storms we have around here, I'm amazed none of the ones still standing have been split. I bet they are gorgeous in full bloom. [caption id="attachment_1057" align="aligncenter" width="224"]The back entrance to the dairy. The back entrance to the dairy.[/caption] I also enjoyed the complimentary wine tasting. Though I'm not much of a wine person, they had a couple that I enjoyed, including a blackberry wine that was deliciously sweet. While I enjoyed the tour itself, I almost enjoyed my drive over there more. Because of where my hotel was situated, Google Maps took me through some back roads and quiet neighborhoods to get to my destination. The houses along the way were So Awesome! Both old and new houses were all unusual and fancy. Gorgeous architecture that created scenery all on its own. I just regretted that I had no one to drive so I could take pictures.  :) I hope you enjoyed my little trip as much as I like sharing it with you. Have you visited any historic homes? Places you particularly enjoyed? I'd love to hear about them! Dani


#amwriting, writer, romance author, woman with computer The first draft of Luke and Avery's book is almost done. We're on the homestretch, so there's no extra words for blogs. Be back soon! Dani

Book Boyfriends Cafe: Hot for Friday

This week I'm participating in Book Boyfriends Cafe's Hot for Friday! Today I'm sharing a Hot and Bothered excerpt from one of my Book Boyfriends with you today! Here's Colin from Beneath the Surface at one of my favorite times he was Hot and Bothered: Beneath the Surface, Dani Wade, Small Town Secrets The door to the bathroom swung open, and Emma stood posed in the frame, one arm draped up over her head along the wood, the other resting on her cocked hip. It would have been innocent enough if she hadn’t been wearing the short skirt and button-down shirt they’d picked up at the emporium. Colin pressed Play on the remote control before all the blood rushed from his head and left him stupid. One step and he was in serious trouble. Not only did she look different, she walked differently. As if someone had dialed up the sensuality level on her movements. Normally she had a slight sway to her hips that flowed down her legs, creating a womanly swing that sent him humming. Now she strutted, exaggerating her hips with an almost twist that accentuated the toned muscles of her bare legs. And the heels. Oh. My. God. What they did to her walk. He almost asked her to turn around so he could see what they did for her ass, but figured he didn’t want his head to explode…yet. Heat crept up his spine, and his heartbeat went into overdrive. As his gaze slid up over her incredible assets, he met her hooded gaze. The breath stopped in his throat. It was the same look she’d had while they were having sex. His body responded to the instant flash of memories. Lips open as if they were panting, eyes mysterious and heavy-lidded. She stared straight at him as she advanced to the beat of the music, not looking away or over him as he’d expected her to. She walked straight to the chair opposite him and swung a leg out to straddle it, facing away. The remote dropped to the floor at the flash of the curve of her ass cheek and the garter holding up her sheer stockings. He bit his lip to keep from groaning. His only wish was that she’d sat on him instead. Her body moved and twisted to the sensuous rhythm of the music, her hips gliding back and forth as if she pleasured herself on the chair. Breath bellowed through Colin’s chest. Holy shit. This woman had no need for training. Two seconds and she had him ready to shoot his load without even a touch. He didn’t look away from the movement on the lower half of her body, begging in his mind for the skirt to rise enough to give him another glimpse of her ass. It didn’t until she stood, swinging herself around to face him in one fluid movement. BENEATH THE SURFACE Too many secrets… Hidden in a quiet town along the Tennessee border, a secret gathering exists where the privileged fulfill their darkest desires. One of their members initiates a desperate act designed to bring home his lifelong obsession: Emma Hartwell. A past not forgotten… Drawn back to her hometown by the psychic connection with her twin sister, Emma must fight the stubborn silence of those around her in her quest to find her missing sister. Colin McIntyre hopes to make up for his past mistakes with Emma by helping her, but his own ties to the Gathering might be exposed along the way. Time is running out… Exposure could be dangerous for his family, along with himself and Emma. Can they fight the secrets and lies to rescue Emma’s sister… and their own chance at life-long love? Don't forget to check out these other Book Boyfriends at the Cafe! BENEATH THE SURFACE is available at Amazon and B&N.

Recipe: Warm Up With White Chili

As you all know, we've had some unusually wintry weather here in the southern US this year. And we're moving into our spring season, which always brings a ton of rainy days. There's nothing I love better on a cold, wet day than soup of some kind. Something about soups and stews warms me from the inside out. Comfort food. Green Onions, food, white chicken chili A friend recently raved about a chicken chili recipe she regularly made for family and after trying it myself, she should rave some more! This recipe made a full big crockpot for less than $20, not including spices – most of which I had on hand already. There was enough soup for me to feed two families and send leftovers home with everyone. In addition to the toppings listed, we served chips and salsa, and cornbread – this is the south, after all. Add a crockpot bags, and clean it was a breeze. I hope you enjoy. cornbread, food, white chicken chili   WHITE CHICKEN CHILI 8 cans White Northern beans 1.5 quarts chicken broth 2 to 3 onions, chopped 3 teaspoons garlic salt 8 oz. green chilies, chopped 3 teaspoons each ground cumin, oregano, coriander Pinch each of ground cloves and cayenne pepper Half teaspoon creole seasoning 10 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, cooked and diced—I just put in a whole package, which was about 6 large) Shredded Monterey Jack cheese and green onions, chopped Combine beans, broth, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Heat oil in skillet; add onions and cook until clear. Add chilies and spices, mixing thoroughly. Cook 20 minutes more, then add to bean mixture. Add chicken. Simmer another 20 minutes. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with cheese and green onions (or whatever toppings you prefer).      
Photos used with permission from Wikimedia
Onion photo from Jonathunder

Snow Days

We have some unusual weather here in the southern US recently. Our winter storms usually consist of 1 to 2 inches of snow that shut the city roads down for a day or so. This past week we got 8 inches of snow! Once it started coming down, roads were impassable in about an hour. Schools closed – even my evil day job closed (which never happens). Was I excited? Yes! About the snow? Well, it was pretty, so yes. But I was more excited about the time off. Snow Days, time off, evil day job Now, I know moms and dads in different circumstances weren’t as happy. My hubby, who has days off during the week, wasn't nearly as thrilled about more time spent with family. Poor thing, he's born the brunt of bad weather and sick children lately. But to me, the snow days were a gift. Here's why: 1. First and foremost, I hate driving in bad conditions. Closing everything down removes the worry that I would miss any more work because I was afraid to drive on the snowy roads. Not good, for my nerves, or for surrounding vehicles. (Aside rant: People who complain about Southerners not driving in snow should be thanking their lucky stars instead! Do they really want to be on the icy roads with someone that inexperienced and scared?) snowy road, time off, evil day job, walk in the snow 2. I get some unexpected SPACE to play with my writing. Whether it's catching up on words or just thinking, brainstorming, I can do it. Without guilt. Guilt comes in all forms and from all sources – evil day job, kids, hubby, family, etc. even from a dirty house. 3. It serves as a reminder to do fun things with my kids. We don't do a lot of “playing”. Most days, I work; they play. But with this unhindered time, I do extra things like take a long walk in the snow with my daughter, or build a horrible rendition of a snowman with my family. [caption id="attachment_1029" align="aligncenter" width="225"]snowman, evil day job, snow days It's a Reader Snowman![/caption] That's just a few of my southern writerly thoughts on Snow Days. What about you? Yay! Or boo! Dani

Musical Blast from the Past

Music provides a large amount of inspiration for me. I listen to music a lot, and often wake up with a song playing in my head. (I just hope it's one that doesn't annoy me. Nothing worse than a bad ear worm!) Every one of my books has a theme song or playlist. I use them to zero in on a particular character’s motivation or state of mind. Music also sets the mood for certain scenes or conversations. Nate & Sara, Backstage Pass Book 4, sexy couple Recently I ran into a snag with Nate's book (Backstage Pass Book 4) and realized that the heroine, Sara, didn't have her own song. So I started going through my music. Usually, I'll run across something that will just click, and I know it's right. But nothing came up for Sara. Then one morning, I woke up with a song running through my head – one I hadn't heard in many years, but I instantly knew it was Sara’s theme. Love this! Not slow or sad. Even though Sara’s past has granted her the right to be those things, she chooses to focus on the present. Working hard and enjoying life – preferably with the man who has treated her like a little sister for years. Here's hoping she gets him for an eternity, not just the weekend that he's offering. What's your favorite "old school" song? Dani

A Day of Rest

I'm about to embark on a treacherous adventure – one fraught with numerous areas of danger and opportunity for failure. Will I come out the other side triumphant – or not? I'm instituting a Day of Rest. kittens, sleeping cats, day of rest           sabin, sleeping kitten, rest   sleeping kittens, rest, kitty cuteness I know it sounds melodramatic (well, I am a fiction author, after all), but I really am worried this might be something I can't stick to. You see, over the past year, I've learned something about myself: I'm a workaholic. I will spend all day on the weekend in front of a computer – the sad thing is, I'm not always writing. As an author, there is always a push to do more in terms of promotion, outreach, and yes, getting more books on the shelves – yesterday, if not sooner. Don't get me wrong. As an introvert, I'm surprised by how much I enjoy interacting with readers online. Planning special events is so much fun. Heck, even just thinking of things to make you smile, well, makes me smile. But an author’s online presence today can be time-consuming. Add in an Evil Day Job, husband, kids, and cats – not to mention all the characters clamoring for attention in my head… Exhausting. The perfectionist in me won't let me stop. I'm afraid if I do, I'll never succeed. I'm also a little afraid that if I ever do stop, I won't be able to start again. There's a problem, though. I'll let you in on an artistic secret: the busier an author is, the more stress and concern on an author’s mind, and those characters? They Go Silent. It's an author's worst nightmare. One I've experienced too often lately. Yes, I can push through and get stories to work – but why do that when I can prevent it in the first place? Sounds easy, right? But I know myself too well. The siren call of the To Do list is loud, all encompassing sometimes. I'll have to build my resistance muscles. So if you don't hear from me on a Sunday, you'll know why. sleeping cats, cute kitties, author needs rest Do you enforce a regular day of rest? What usually gets in your way? What do you do to "rest" and rejuvenate? Dani  

The Blackstone Brothers are Back!

This time I’m torturing straightlaced, uber planner Jacob Blackstone has his life mapped out… His detour with impulsive KC Gatlin was a wild aberration…until he found out that she gave birth to his child. #bookrelease Mill Town Millionaires, Billionaires and Babies, Blackstone Heir, Dani Wade "I WANT MY SON." When Jacob Blackstone sees his former flame holding a baby with the Blackstone blond curls, the Southern millionaire knows the child is his. But why would down-on-her-luck bartender KC Gatlin keep Jacob's heir a secret? Now the bachelor who wanted a family on his own terms must rush to convince the fiercely protective beauty he's daddy material. KC must tell Jacob the truth about why she kept his son from him or risk losing her beloved baby. When the gorgeous mill owner suggests a trial run at domesticity, she can't resist. But is true love part of this baby deal? Follow the journey of the founding family of Black Hills, South Carolina. Amazon               B&N                    Harlequin