Gettin’ My Groove On

Proposal is IN! It’s Party Time! Just kidding! Last week, I finished my proposal for Zach and Sadie (Mill Town Millionaires Book 4) and got it sent to Awesome Editor. Next in the pipeline is Small Town Secrets Book 2, before Zach and Sadie’s full is due later this year. DSCN0675 But before that, I get to take a week off from writing. I try to do that between projects to “refill my well”. I still do lots of business stuff, but creatively I let myself off the hook. What do I replace it with? Oh, exciting stuff like cleaning house (it gets really messy on deadline) and watching TV/Movies. I also go on the hunt for new music. As you know if you’ve read my blog for long, music is a powerful fuel for my creativity and each of my characters have “theme” songs. But after a while, I get tired of what I’ve been listening to and need fresh tunes! So I fill up an iTunes card and go hunting… iTunes card, music, refill the well, While I’m refilling the coffers, I’d love for y’all to share some of your favorite music (new or old) with me! I’ll pick 1 commenter to WIN an iTunes card by Friday. Dani

Blessings Reminder

For some reason, this blog disappeared from my site during the night, so here's Take 2:   Have you ever felt like your life was on fast forward somehow-run to the grocery store, run to the school, run to work, run to karate class…And then one moment, you finally pause, and realize you haven’t talked to your friends in a while? That’s what happened to me this week! I’ve sure been missing all of my online friends! I’ve been working on a deadline for a month to turn in Zach and Sadie’s proposal (Mill Town Millionaires 4). Despite many setbacks, I was able to turn it in this past weekend. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this book! Fingers crossed Awesome Editor feels the same! The rest of the time, I’ve been focused on home and family. Recently my husband got pretty sick and had to go through a series of tests. He’s a pretty tough guy, so watching him suffer was hard. I also realized something very important—I rely on my husband A LOT. I like to think of myself as a capable person who gets things accomplished. I’m frequently emotional and often overwhelmed, but shit gets done.  J  Only now do I see how much of that is thanks to my husband. He’s often behind the scenes, keeping the kids and pets on track despite his own day job, so I can focus on writing as much as possible. I’m very lucky to have a spouse that supports my artistic and business endeavors. You’d be surprised how many aren’t. I’m not always quick to see the good that’s happening (glass half empty kind of girl). But even though it wasn’t fun, I’m glad for the reminder of how blessed I am. Twenty years ago, he had no idea what he was getting into, but he’s never looked at me and said, “I don’t think so.” I only hope I’m somehow repaying the favor. Now, I know there’s a reason all of my heroes have a touch of him in there somewhere… What blessings have you discovered recently? Dani

First Day of School

This year, our school system moved up our start time to make way for a fall break. I love fall break, but starting school so early is a bit strange.  :)  Still, we packed our lunch boxes and backpacks and sent the kids out the door yesterday to begin their new year of school. Maybe this is why fall feels like such a new beginning for me every year. This milestone means new teachers, new classrooms (and new school supplies!!!). Yes, I'm an office supply junkie, so I love back-to-school shopping. It's also a great time to start a new project! And that's exactly what I'm doing this year. I've started writing Zachary Gatlin's book, which will be a fourth in the Mill Town Millionaires series for Harlequin Desire. I've discovered that Zachary is very strong and almost stern. His heroine, Kenna, is also strong, but in her own quiet way. I love learning all the nuances of new characters! I hope I can share more of them with you soon. What about you? Are your kids still in the cycle of school starts? Or is fall simply another season for you? For those of you who are overseas, when do your children begin their new school years? Dani

Mondays…

Mondays are not my favorite day. I know a lot of you are the same. After all, weekends are a chance to catch up, unwind, have fun without watching the clock, and for me, write. Mondays mean back to the tough schedule of a day job, kids activities, and still, write. :) There are some precious moments during the week, but its hard, so let's have some funnies to add a smile to the day! Mondays   Mondays   Mondays Yep, coffee always helps! What's your favorite way to get through a Monday? Dani P.S. Don't forget to check out the A to Z blog challenge going on over at the Nice Girls Writing Naughty blog! Lots of fun during the whole month of April.

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

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

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  

Beat Stress: Take a Virtual Vacation

Sis and I were having a texting meltdown after she'd had one of THOSE days. You know the kind. When everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Yeah, THOSE days. These conversations make me feel kind of helpless, because there's not much I can say to help – and I feel like I should help. Without thinking, I finally told her to go online, and look at pictures from the place that she was vacationing at later this year.  To imagine herself being there, and how much she was going to enjoy it. [caption id="attachment_1003" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Dublin, Ireland, Dani Wade, vacation Dani in Dublin, Ireland park[/caption] It wasn't until then that I realized I've been doing exactly the same thing for a month. I got a bee in my bonnet that I wanted to go on a little weekend writing retreat, all by my lonesome, sometime this spring. While hubby was completely agreeable, the decision will rest on the same thing it always does – finances. So I have no idea if I will get to go, but I've been searching online for hotels, places to eat, walking trails – and with each picture, I feel calm and happy. That may be sad to some, but I consider it to be self–medicating — without the happy pill. I can take that trip any day.  :) [caption id="attachment_1004" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Dublin, Ireland, Dani Wade, vacation Store in Dublin, Ireland[/caption] If you could take a virtual vacation anywhere at all, where would you go? Dani