Taking the hit for the reader

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Writing a Christmas book in January is a different kind of challenge. If you recall, I have two Christmas novels coming out at the end of this calendar year–one with Heartwarming and one with Western Romance. I wrote one of them during the 2016 Christmas season. That was ideal–I was already there emotionally, as was pretty much everyone else. It’s easy to write Christmas during the season, but this novel (the second Christmas release for 2017) will have to be written this month, weeks after the tree has come down.

Fortunately, I live in a winter wonderland, so at least I have a nice, snowy winter outside my window for inspiration, and being the big Christmas fan that I am, I’ve managed to summon up some belated Christmas spirit.

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Most of the Christmas novels you’ll be enjoying come October, November and December won’t have been written during the season. We authors take that hit for you, so that your reading can be pleasurably timed.

It’s winter. I can do this. 😉

I haven’t been hugged yet, or anything!

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Hugs are good for our health. That isn’t really a newsflash, is it? We’ve known it for a long time where it concerns babies’ health, but it applies to us women, too. Hugs raise the levels of oxitocin in our bodies and lower cortisol, the stress hormone. This is particularly good for our cardiac health. The beneficial effects of hugs are more strongly noted in women–which doesn’t surprise me in the least!

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In the Johns house, you’ll hear me say, “I haven’t been hugged yet, or anything!” on a daily basis. That’s the cue for my husband and son to come give me a squeeze. The ten seconds it takes to give someone a hug really doesn’t affect the daily schedule at all, and no matter how much rushing about is happening, I’m pretty sure that ten seconds can be spared.

Hugs bond us. They improve our health. They’ve even been shown to boost immunity so that we get sick less often!

So if you haven’t hugged someone lately, go find the curmudgeon you share your home with and give him a squeeze. Or your dog. Or your cat. Or that particularly huggy lady at church… It’s good for us!

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Would you rather…

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I love this game! I really want to know which one you’d choose, too.

Okay, well, considering that I’m one of those people who would have died very early 500 years in the past, I’m going to have to go with 500 years into the future. I tend to land in the hospital for random things–complicated childbirth, gall bladder removal… I’m also relatively certain that strep throat would kill me without a nice round of antibiotics. I’m just one of those slightly fragile people who’s only around because modern medicine keeps me here. I’m not sure what I’d find in the year 2517, but I’m hoping the medical situation would be better than 1517!

So what about you? Which would you rather?

A finicky writer

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It’s very difficult to dedicate yourself wholly to your work while your family is on vacation. I have deadlines coming up, so I couldn’t take the first week of January off of writing. (Nor did I want to, truth be told. After taking the week of Christmas off, I was really ready to get back to it.) I’m a bit of a finicky writer. I can’t stay sane without writing, but I also require silence in order to do it. The answer? The library!

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So that is me finally conquering that first blank page for a Christmas novel that will be released end of this year. I use the Silent Room at our local library, and shut the door. When I came back home to my vacationing family a few hours later, we were all happier for it. 😉

January is a busy month writing-wise, but it’s easier to handle when I get the apartment to myself for six blissfully silent hours a day. So by the time this posts, we’ll be back to our regular routine around here, and it will be wonderful!

Anyone else glad to be back to routine again after the holidays?

It’s here!

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I’m so excited to remind you that A BAXTER’S REDEMPTION is now available for sale everywhere you buy books online!

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Has she really changed? 

Former beauty queen Isabel Baxter returns to her hometown, scarred after a near-fatal accident. But in high school, she was the fantasy of every teenage boy in Haggerston, Montana, including James Hunter. Even though James was too far below her social circle to be noticed…

Now her father’s attorney, James isn’t ready to forgive Isabel for the part she played in his own family tragedy. Yet she seems eager to make amends and prove herself capable of being more than a pretty face. Has the girl he once worshipped—his boss’s daughter—grown into a woman James can respect…and maybe love?

 

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Beauty that is earned

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My grandmother died in her fifties, so I never did see what she’d look like as an old woman. My mother is sixty this year (yes, she had me young!), so she isn’t exactly elderly yet, either. And I am the spitting image of both my mother and grandmother. Those were some strong genes… But I have no idea what these genes look like in their 70’s or 80’s. I don’t know why this has become such a preoccupation with me, but it has. I wish I knew!

As a result, I’m intrigued by how people age. Take Helen Mirren, for example:

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Helen Mirren is more beautiful today (in my opinion) than she was in her youth.

Take Judi Dench:

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She’s the same.

Youth IS beautiful–it always has been. But there is a different kind of beauty that shines from deeper down in more mature women that makes me stop and think I want that. It’s the kind of beauty that is earned. It’s not about features or makeup so much as it’s about who she is, who she’s chosen to be over the years. Its accumulates, and then shines through the eyes.

My mom has that kind of beauty. It starts deeper down, and the older she gets, the more visible it is. She’s worked hard, loved hard. She’s achieved, too! But life has softened and deepened her in a way that only time can do. You can see the difference in our eyes, can’t you?

My mom and I

My mom and I

Maybe it’s Maybelline? Maybe not! Maybe it’s decades of experience, perseverance and passion! Maybe it’s a life of loving well. And a little face cream, my mother would argue. You can never go wrong with a little moisturizer. 😉 She’s practical that way.

 

If your New Year’s resolution is to be a full-time writer

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I think we all know which option I chose–working really hard for myself. But the problem of how to support oneself while working in the arts isn’t new. I’ve been asked how I do it, and while every writer’s path is different, I do have some experience in getting from point A to point Full Time Writer.

There are a few different options on how to do this:

  1. Work a steady, full-time job and do your artistic endeavors in the evenings and weekends. The benefits to this option include health insurance, a regular flow of money through your bank account, and significantly less worry about your future. The cons include the fact that you use your best energy on a job that you have probably grown to hate because it sucks you away from your first love, the artistic endeavor.
  2. Work a steady, part-time job and do your artistic endeavors in the rest of your time. The benefits of this option include more time to work on your art, a regular flow of less money going through your bank account, and a real dedication to make your art start paying already. The cons include a lack of health insurance and people’s tendency to mistake your part-time job as your career identity.
  3. Apply yourself fully to your artistic career. Once you’ve done Option 2 for a little while and you’re making enough off of your artistic endeavor, you can quit the part-time job and be a full-time writer/painter/juggler/whatever. Quite honestly, it all comes down to how much you think you need to live comfortably! And that’s a personal line. The pros are that you are finally fulfilling your dreams and can say, “I’m a ___” with complete confidence when people ask what you do. Because they always follow up with, “No, I mean, what do you do for money?” The cons are that you are now floating all of your financial needs with your artistic income that can be very irregular. So that big check doesn’t buy you anything special–it goes straight into the bank for the lean periods that you know are coming. But worth it–so worth it!
  4. Marry someone willing to provide a steady full-time income while you provide the fluctuating full-time income off your artistic endeavor. This works very nicely, and the pros are probably obvious. The cons are that people start trying to do the math to figure out if you actually make a full-time income, or if you’re making it all up. Because who actually knows how much a writer/painter/juggler/whatever makes? Not them! And in the eyes of people you probably don’t like anyway, you might lose some credibility. But since you don’t pursue your artistic endeavor to impress the skeptics, this probably doesn’t matter.

So these are the realistic options for supporting yourself on your artistic income (as I see it.) Am I missing any options?

How would you make it work?

 

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas is around the corner, and I’m going to be taking a full week off of writing. And this isn’t a theoretical week off, either, where I end up doing a bit of writing in the corners anyway.

Photo by Matt Reinbold

Photo by Matt Reinbold

It’s hard for writers to take time off. It’s like parenting… there is always something you could be doing, should be doing, or wish you’d already done. And when you’re trying to relax, you’re thinking about your work. Like moms who sit down with a hot cup of tea, and before they take their first sip, they say, “It’s too quiet. The kids are up to something!”

There is no rest for the writers.

However, this writer is going to snuggle up with her husband and son, hang out with her parents, watch a pile of Christmas movies and surround herself with more food than she can possibly eat. And her computer is going to stay firmly turned off the entire time. 😉

So a very Merry Christmas from the Johns home to yours! I wish you all the joy that this season can offer.

And a week off. I wish for each of you a real, relaxing, festive week off.

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The UPS man arrived!

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Look what arrived this month! My very own copies of THE COWBOY’S VALENTINE BRIDE. This is the story about Brody, the soldier whose fiancee married someone else while he was away fighting. You’ll remember him from THE COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE. He returns home wounded, and the only private nurse available is his ex-fiancee’s sister. I know some of you were excited to hear his story!

This one hits the shelves February 2017…

 

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And if you’d like a better view of that cover:

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A very Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you manage to steal a little time to curl up with a good book.   ❤

Would you rather…?

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My answer is that I’d rather teleport anywhere.

It would save a ton of money on gas, I could visit family across the country any time I liked and be back by supper time, and I could go find a nice sunny beach when the weather gets miserable here.

Plus, I don’t think I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts. First of all, we kind of have that already on Facebook… I’d say that I’d be afraid of hearing people’s real thoughts about me and not being able to handle that harsh reality, but I don’t think there would be very many actual thoughts that concerned me, personally, at any given time. Mostly, people think about their pets, what they’ll eat next and politics.

I mean, reading minds does have the potential of giving me all sorts of new story fodder… and that IS tempting, but I like quiet. Reading minds seems like it would be noisy all the time, and that would make me grouchy. I’d rather make up what’s inside people’s minds.

Teleport! My final answer.

What about you? Which would you rather?