New, super-motivational desktop wallpaper!

I’m trying to get back into the habit of taking at least a couple walks during the day. I spend way too much time sitting, and it shows and even more, I hate the sluggish, lethargic feeling that’s suffused my recent days… weeks… okay, months.

To make myself walk, I’m pairing walking with podcast time. (I’ve also been reading Gretchen Rubin’s “Better than Before,” which is all about habit building and dealing with your shitty habits. She talks about this idea of pairing, to make less-exciting or pleasant tasks more enjoyable by pairing them with something you like. I love podcasts, but I’m behind on many of my favorites because writing and listening to people talk just don’t work together for me. So: I’m pairing the two.)

ANYWAY. I listened to an old podcast of Tim Ferriss’s, where he interviewed Cheryl Strayed. And their conversation reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about writing. Anyone who knows me at all will immediately understand why I love it so much:

Perfect. And very, very me. And I have no design skills whatsoever, so I popped over to Canva to use one of their templates to make this perfect little desktop wallpaper, and now it graces my work computer. (As opposed to my other computer, which is for scrolling Twitter and playing Warcraft. I can’t have those distractions available to me when I’m supposed to be working.)

I love it. And it makes me happy. If you want it, you can either save, then right-click the image above, or I made the file public on Canva (to download, click “use as a template” and then click “download” at the top of the screen) so you can download it and use it on your computer and be motivated, too. 🙂

Enjoy!

Release day traditions (and gratitude!)

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The day after a book release always feels like a holiday to me. The week or so leading up to a release tends to be stressful, so the day after it’s out there in the world usually feels as if there’s a weight that’s been lifted. This release day was less stressful for me than many others, mostly, I think, because the StrikeForce series is a project I’m working on because I find it fun. It’s like play. It’s certainly my hope that at least some of you guys will love it as much as I do, but there wasn’t the overwhelming “oh my god everyone is going to hate this!” obsessive worry that I usually have before my books come out. A New Day, even though it required a complete rewrite after I had the first draft mostly done, and then a second complete rewrite, was a joy to work on. I hope that comes across in the reading of it.

Anyway. What I’m taking a while to get around to saying, aside from the fact that I have my 15th book out in the world,  is that the book did much better, sales-wise, on release day than I was expecting it to. You guys amaze me, over and over again, by continuing to come with me on these weird little trips I take us on. There really are no words, in any language, that could explain how much that means to me. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

How I Spent Release Day

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We saw a lone swan at the pond. He ignored us entirely.

It’s a release day tradition now for my husband and kids to get me out of the house so I don’t just sit, staring at Amazon rankings all day. Yesterday, (after stopping by Starbucks and grabbing coffee in those much-maligned red cups… the horror!) we went to one of our nearby Metroparks. We hiked through the woods and the kids played on the playground. I think that fall, even after most of the trees have shed their leaves, may be my favorite time to be in the woods. There’s a kind of quiet, haunting, whispery feeling to it all. You can see the latticework of bare branches overhead, the bright scarlet stalks of red twig dogwoods. You can hear the breeze rattling through the rushes in the swampier areas, and, of course, there’s the ever-satisfying crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet. Not great for actually seeing much wildlife, but we did startle a deer, who bounded away from us in that ballerina-like way deer have.

After that, we stopped by one of my favorite thrift shops, then the craft store where I found some awesome fabric remnants featuring sunflowers and roosters. I think I’ll turn it into a valance for the window over the kitchen sink at our house up north. And we stopped for an early dinner, and then came home and I read and played Warcraft and hung out with the kids. All in all, it was a great day.

What’s Next?

It's still warm enough here that we have a few dragonflies hanging around. Apparently, this one is named Maria.

It’s still warm enough here that we have a few dragonflies hanging around. Apparently, this one is named Maria.

So, what’s coming up next? I’m a good bit of the way through the second StrikeForce book, which should be out in January. I’m trying to make more progress on Shifted Fate, which is the Hidden side-story I’m working on for my newsletter subscribers. (Yes, lovely subscribers… I haven’t forgotten about it! We’ll get back on track, hopefully this week.) And then there is the new serial here on the blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I may also have a little surprise up my sleeve for the holidays. We’ll see.

Thanks, as always, for reading and for being so supportive. Have a great day!

Yarn Along: Double Crochet!

Double crochet doesn’t seem all that complicated, but for one reason or another, the last time I tried learning to crochet, I just couldn’t quite get the hang of it. Of course, a large part of the problem was that I (a lefty) was trying to follow instructions for righties.

I know. Duh.

Anyway, my whole goal with this crochet thing is to eventually make a granny square afghan. And to do granny squares you have to do lots and lots of… you guessed it! Double crochet.

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Thankfully, my husband found a great video on double crochet for lefties on crochet.org, and then I found another one Youtube from Crochet Guru. Between the two of them, I’m finally getting it! So the past few crochet sessions have been spent practicing my double crochet. Next week’s goal is to make my first granny square. Wish me luck!

So that’s this week’s yarn. This week’s read is Karen Abbott’s Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, which is a really good read despite the fact that I read the first half a few months ago and then it got lost on my towering TBR pile until now. If you like history, women’s history, Civil War history… this is for you. I swear I’ve gotten a good couple dozen story ideas just in the time I’ve been reading it! 🙂

Check out more yarn alongs over at Small Things.

Week In Review – Greenfield Village, Editing, and Other Miscellany

It was a good week.

The first week of my quest to get healthier and shrink a bit went really well, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. (And thank you for your support and kind words in the comments and on Facebook!) Other than that, here’s what I did this week, and what I’m looking forward to next week.

Writing!

I did not get a ton of writing done this week. I made a bit of progress on Shifted Fate (you will have a newsletter installment on Tuesday!) and am finishing up the Hidden prequel short story I’m writing. That story will be available in an anthology with a bunch of my urban fantasy author pals, including SM Reine, Jovee Winters, Annie Bellet, Christine Pope, Colleen Gleason, and many others. I’ll share more details as we get closer to the release date — so excited for this one!

So not much writing, but there was editing.

So. Much. Editing.

I have feedback on Shadow Sworn from most of my beta readers, and it’s all been very positive. Of course, there were things they pointed out and things I was unhappy with as well, and those things are being fixed in this final pass. Edits will be finished early this week, which means I get to focus on THE NEXT BOOK! Yay!

Reading

I started out the week reading Amanda Quick’s Garden of Lies and I loved it. The end frustrated me a bit, but overall I really enjoyed it.

After that, I read Entwined, which is a novella from Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. HIGHLY recommend checking it out, and after reading it (I think it was one of my one-click freebies or something) I ordered the first two novels in the series from my library. Anxiously awaiting reading them!

I was clearly in a historical mood last week, so I decided to take another shot at Dragonfly in Amber. I started it after I finished reading Outlander a few months back, and then I set it aside, not because I didn’t like it but because I got started reading other things. Anyway, I’m reading it again, and the same scenes made me cry as the first time around.

Home and Family

We went to Greenfield Village early in the week, which is one of our favorite places to visit and the weather was absolutely perfect. I ended up buying this adorable Mason jar salt and pepper set at the gift shop, and my kids teased me about hoarding salt and pepper shakers. I don’t know what it is. They’re just becoming one of those things I buy lately. 🙂 That top photo in the collage is one of the gardens at Greenfield Village — I want mine to look like that someday.

PicMonkey Collage

I made decent progress on the afghan I’m crocheting for my daughter, though I didn’t work on it much the last few days. Sunday is always a good crocheting day, so I expect I’ll add at least a few more rows to it during the day. It’s also bread baking and yogurt making day. I love Sundays.

The summer garden is dying down, and we’re getting the fall garden going now. We sowed lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, beets, and turnips, and I’m looking forward to all of it. As much as I love tomatoes and zucchini, I’m equally happy with kale and spinach. And cooler weather. Amen.

And of course, there’s the demon basset, who is her usual dippy, demonic, majestic self. 🙂

Next Week

Next week, I really get to dive into the next book. I made good progress on it before I started editing Shadow Sworn, so I’m looking forward to getting back to it. I’ll be talking about it more as time goes on. 🙂

Finishing up editing and getting Shadow Sworn laid out and ready to go is always fun, so I’m looking forward to that as well.

Have a great week, all! <3

 

 

Yarn Along (Finally!)

I’ve been reading Ginny’s blog, Small Things, for quite a while now. Her photos are gorgeous, and it’s just one of those blogs that makes me happy every time I visit. Anyway, one of the things she does on her blog every Wednesday is host what she calls a “yarn along” — she shares a photo of her current knitting (or crochet) project, as well as the book she’s currently reading. I’ve wanted to participate, but never had crochet projects to share.

I’m finally working on an afghan for my oldest daughter, so I get to do a Yarn Along post this week! It was one of my little personal goals for this year, so I’m happy to finally be able to participate.

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This is my first afghan. It’s a pretty simple pattern (really, “pattern” is almost too complex of a term for it) that I found over on Dream a Little Bigger by Allison Murray. She calls it a “Six Hour Afghan” but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to take me a bit longer than that.  🙂 It’s a little over 1/4 finished now.

As for the reading, I’m currently reading Amanda Quick (A.K.A. Jayne Ann Krentz)’s The Garden of Lies. It has everything: mystery, a feisty, take no BS heroine, a brooding, mysterious hero, a Victorian London setting, and some pretty magnificently steamy writing, as well. I’m really enjoying it, and I think this may well lead to an Amanda Quick reading binge.

It was the perfect time for me to start a crochet project: I finished Shadow Sworn (yay!) and I’m starting both a diet and our homeschool year (yikes) so I need something kind of soothing to do in my downtime. So far, this project (and this book) fit the bill perfectly.

To see more Yarn Along entries, stop by Small Things every Wednesday. 

Gardening, Reading, and Plotting (mwahahaha…)

I seem to have gotten out of the habit of doing my weekly updates. What a surprise, eh? 😉 I think part of the issue was that I was planning them for Friday, and I now realize that Friday just doesn’t work. Maybe Wednesdays will work. Or maybe not.

Blogging is always the first thing to fall by the wayside when things get busy. That feels wrong to me, really. I think I’m falling back on Facebook and Twitter too often and then I end up ignoring my blog.

Anyway. Here’s what I’m busy with this week.

Writing:

I am on schedule to finish Shadow Sworn by the end of the month, and that feels great. Shadow Witch Rising was a nightmare to write, partially because it was the first non-HIDDEN book I’ve released and I had myself psyched out that everyone would hate it. That particular stress is gone, but Shadow Sworn has its own complications. Mainly, it’s a much darker book, and it’s a bit draining emotionally, despite how much I love writing it.

I’m also making good progress on Shifted Fate, which is the current newsletter story I’m writing. That one has been a lot of fun to work on. I suspected it would be.

I always have a side project I’m working on in addition to my two main ones (I can’t work on one project at a time. When I do, things don’t go well. It seems counterintuitive, but that’s just the way it works for me) and in this case it’s a fantasy romance that I’m really excited about.

Reading:

Oh, the reading. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Right now, I’m reading Sandra Byrd’s Mist of Midnight, which is gothic romance. Not a genre I’ve read much, but I can easily see becoming obsessed with it. If you have gothics you love, please let me know in the comments — I’m not sure what to read next. Of course, the lovely Grace Draven released The Brush of Black Wings yesterday, and I’ll be reading that as well! I’m in research mode for another project I am considering, so I’m reading quite a bit of Detroit history right now. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve read the following:

  • Detroit Across Three Centuries by Richard Bak
  • Hidden History of Detroit by Amy Elliott Bragg (HIGHLY recommended, as is her blog, Night Train to Detroit.)
  • Motor City Mafia by Scott Burnstein
  • Detroit’s Infamous Purple Gang by Paul Kavieff
  • The Violent Years: Prohibition and the Detroit Mobs by Paul Kavieff (currently reading)

Are you sensing a trend here? 😉 We’ll see how it all goes.

Life Stuff:

Besides reading and writing, I’m trying to get into a more regular exercise routine (ugh). The kids have been busy with their summer classes, and the demon dog continues to be evil while also being disarmingly cute. There has also been quite a bit of gardening, and I’m really happy with the way the garden’s looking right now.  


 

We’ll be seeing Ant-Man on Friday (who else is planning on seeing it?) and then Saturday is my birthday!

I guess that wraps it up for this week. If you have any gothic romance recommendations, please leave them in the comments! Thanks!

Reader Question: My Collections

I got an email from Sherrie last week. She said:

“I read the Hidden series and loved it all! I noticed that you mentioned Molly collecting things like pottery, and then in Soulhunter you mention collecting again with E and her shirts. Is this something you’re interested in? If so, do you collect the same stuff Molly does? I’m a junker myself, though I tend to like more rustic items….”

Sherrie caught me. 🙂 I don’t have any huge collections, but I do have several small collections of certain things. Of course, the fun thing about a collection is that it only gets bigger with time!

So, the two main things Molly collects are McCoy pottery and old milk glass. I have some of both. I only have two McCoy pieces (both flower pots) but I have a larger milk glass collection. I have a mix of vases, bowls, mugs, and tea cups, as well as a perfume bottle (that might be the next thing I start collecting — vintage milk glass perfume bottles!)

The McCoy thing with Molly is mostly based on childhood memories. In two of the houses I grew up in, I remember pottery which, I only realized as I got older, was McCoy. There was a baby bootie, and a donkey with a cart, and a few others that I remember being both in my room in our first house and then, later, in the bathroom of the house I spent most of my childhood in.

pottery collage

The milk glass, I collect mainly because I think it’s pretty, and it’s pretty inexpensive, so if you’re starting a glassware collection, it’s a good way to go.

Aside from those two things I have in common with Molly, I also collect (a small collection, for now) Pewabic Pottery (made in Detroit!), vintage Pyrex bowls, and Lincoln Beautyware canisters. I also have a lot of comics, though most of them were technically my husband’s from his childhood and teenage years, plus the ones we’ve bought since I started getting into them.

collections collage

The only other thing I collect is really a more recent thing, within the last few months. I love going to thrift stores — that’s where I’ve found most of my collection pieces, and I always looked through the aisles of picture frames and artwork. The past couple of times we’ve gone, I’ve ended up purchasing small pieces of art, one of a kind items that were most likely done in art classes or something like that and ended up selling for $1.99 at the Salvation Army. I’ve started hanging them in my office, and they make me happy. I guess maybe it’s the idea that someone, at some point, put work and thought and creativity into creating these things, and I want to be surrounded by that kind of energy or feeling when I’m writing.

So, those are my collections! I have fun answering questions like this, so if you ever have anything you’re curious about, whether it’s about my books or me, send them along — it’ll give me things to blog about between book releases! 🙂

This Week: 4/13/14 Edition

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Wildlife Interperative Gallery, Detroit Zoo

This was a busy week, but it was a good one. Here are a few things that I did, read, watched, and liked this past week.

Stuff I Did:

  • I sent the beta readers for Strife their copies of the book. We are getting close! There is still proofreading to be done, and I’ve already received a lot of very helpful feedback.
  • I worked more on Forever Night. 10,000 more words, and this one is done as well. (By the way, I put it to a vote on Facebook, and it appears that you guys are up for an extra installment of Forever Night this week. You’ll have it in your inboxes on Friday. 🙂 )
  • I started jotting down notes for the fifth Hidden book. I’m planning to get right to work on that once Forever Night and the revisions on Strife are finished.

Stuff I Read:

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  • Right now, I’m reading Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics. I have said before that I’d love to write comics some day, but even if I didn’t this book is absolutely full of great writing tips. I’ll have a post up about that this week.
  • I also read an ARC of Katie Reus’ Sinful Seduction  (which I loved and will be reviewing later this week) as well as Vivian Arend and Elle Kennedy’s All Fired Up, which was a fun, steamy read.
  • I also received my trade paperback of volume one of Greg Rucka’s Lazarus, which is just amazing. I have all of the issues in volume one in single issues as well, but I love being able to sit and read an arc from beginning to end, and this one was amazing.

Stuff I Watched:

I’m not a big TV watcher. Other than Agents of SHIELD and Detroit sports, I don’t watch much TV. We saw Captain America 2 last Friday, and that was so good I wanted to see it again immediately. Cap and Black Widow were great as usual, but Falcon was my favorite part of the movie. And Bucky. There are a few scenes in there where he looks so menacing (the scene from the trailers with Nick Fury’s SUV, especially) that I swear I need to write someone like that. Loved it.

Stuff I’m Listening To:

Lots of Rihanna, because there are several songs of hers that just kind of work with the feel I’m trying to go for with Forever Night. I need to get to work on putting together a book five playlist eventually. That’ll come once I start getting into outlining and getting more of an overall feel for the book.

Stuff I Loved This Week:

  • Warm weather! It was gorgeous here, and we spent a lot of time outside, including a visit to the Detroit Zoo. My garden is looking so much better, and we have tulip and daffodil foliage popping up everywhere.
  • Aerolatte Milk Frother. I may have mentioned once or twice that I have this coffee habit. And I like frothy things. So my husband ordered this as a little surprise for me, and I love it. I’m using less milk and half & half and my coffee has this gorgeous, frothy foam on it. A little sprinkle of cinnamon on top, and it is perfection.
  • BETA READERS! I have a great group of beta readers for Strife, and I’m not just saying that because they like what they’re reading. 🙂 They have already given me so much great feedback, and it has been a huge help. I think I love them.

So, that’s it for how I spent the last seven days. This week, I’ll be finishing Forever Night and working on revisions on Strife. I hope you all have a lovely week!

 

Weekly Miscellany, 12/29 Edition

I hope those of you who celebrate had a nice holiday! Things have been busy around here. I cooked a lot, ate too much (ugh…) and had a great time relaxing with my family. I also binge-read most of Charlaine Harris’s “Southern Vampire Mysteries.” I love that series. Love it. Except that I kinda want to smack Sookie. She never should have let Quinn go. (I haven’t read the last 2 books yet. Don’t tell me anything either way if you have.) Continue reading

Weekly Miscellany, 12/15 Edition

A while back, I was semi-decent at writing weekly posts about things that I’d read or seen that inspired me or otherwise interested me that week. Partially because I enjoy posts like that when I see them on other’s blogs (Natalie over at Radish Reviews does a great Friday Linkspam post each week that can keep me reading for hours…) and also to share those things that are (maybe) influencing me creatively.

Also….it’s a handy way to organize links I might otherwise forget. (I am ridiculously disorganized at times. I “organized” my daughter’s school stuff a few weeks ago, and have since spent days searching for one of her workbooks. It was in its nice, new spot. Organized.)

First things first: Broken: Hidden Book Two is available NOW on Amazon!! 

 

All right. So here are a few things that interested me this week:

1. My favorite thing this week was this video of Charles Bukowski’s “Roll the Dice” from the Poets & Writers website. Totally inspiring, and something I’ve found myself listening to quite often.

2. Mining Delray’s Scrap: This article and video actually appeared on the Free Press website a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been on my mind since. It happened to appear exactly when I was trying to figure out what one of the characters in my current work in progress did to make ends meet. So, thanks to this showing up at exactly the right time, Damian in my Perdition Lane series mines scrap to get by.

3. Assumption Grotto Catholic Church, Detroit.

 Photo courtesy of Andrew Jameson, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Jameson, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

I’m currently writing a scene (for the upcoming Hidden short story I mentioned yesterday) that takes place here. I went to midnight mass at Assumption Grotto once with my husband’s family early in our marriage, and I was amazed by the majesty of the church. I have a church thing, even though I’m not religious in the “organized religion” sense of the word. Go figure.

4. Currently reading: Write. Publish. Repeat. by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt. Really, really good read for indie authors. I also have Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 sitting here, but I haven’t cracked it open yet. Soon!

5. Blog love: Night Train: Detroit by Amy Eliott Bragg. This is, hands-down, the best Detroit history blog. I’ve been reading it for years now, and I never fail to learn something about this city. She’s doing a series in which she’s visiting every Detroit cemetery, and each post has been fascinating. She also recently did a post about Rembrandt Peale’s gargantuan painting, “Court of Death,” and how it will (or will not) be affected by any upcoming (rumored) art liquidation by the city.

All right. I think that’s it for now. I hope you’re all having a great weekend!