Saturday, September 29, 2018

My best September 2018 purchases

I made two great purchases this month, both of which I'm super pleased with. As a tea-lover who only drinks non-caffeinated brews, it was time to restock, so when I went shopping a couple of weeks ago I took a long stroll down the tea aisle at my local grocery store. My kitchen has one small drawer dedicated to tea, so I usually go for assortments to minimize the big boxes containing only one kind. But, there were two kinds of tea I couldn't resist buying this time and they're so good I don't mind drinking them every day for the next month or longer.
One is Bigelow Sweet Dreams, a "blend of chamomile & mint to calm & soothe). 
The other is Bigelow Benfits Ginger & Peach. The aroma and flavor of this one is absolutely fantastic! I love it :)

My second, and perhaps even better, September purchase is Erik and the Gods. This is an adventure book written by a Danish author named Lars-Henrik Olsen. Although I have attempted to teach my kids danish, they're not fluent and they definitely wouldn't be able to read a book like this in the original language. So I was thrilled when I found an English translation on Amazon. 
The plot involves a 13 year old boy's adventure to save the world with the help of Thor's daughter. If you're interested in Nordic mythology, you really ought to read this book which is kind of along the lines of diving into a Percy Jackson or Harry Potter in terms of the age group it's targeting. It provides a lot of really interesting facts about Nordic Gods woven into the intrigue of the story and has won numerous awards including the English Pen Award. This story provides the reader with accurate information which is oftentimes slightly different from the Hollywood representations you encounter in the movies. Definitely worth a read and a book I'm so glad I own.

"An exciting and original introduction to one of the greatest of all mythological universes." - Daniel Hahn, Oxford Companion to Children's Literature.

The Norse Gods have been fighting an endless war with the Giants and now they’re growing weak and losing their powers. So the God of Thunder, Thor, travels to earth to find help. He asks Erik, an ordinary teenage boy, to go on a secret mission to Asgard and the Land of the Giants.
Together with Thor’s daughter, Trud, Erik must risk all venturing to the Land of the Giants to rescue the Goddess of Youth and her magic apples, the only thing which can revive the dying Gods. But time is running out. Can they rescue the Goddess and prevent Ragnarok, the End of the World?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Featured Author - September 2018

This is a new feature I've decided to add on a monthly basis in order to give some attention to my favorite romance authors. To kick things off, I'm going to feature Caroline Linden who I had the pleasure of meeting in May when I joined her for a book signing in Maryland. 

Mia Sosa, Caroline Linden and Sophie Barnes in Maryland, May 2018

We had a great time together - Caroline Linden has a fantastic sense of humor which is definitely reflected in the novels she writes. Her current series, Wagers of Sin, involves some serious high stakes gambling, brilliant dialogue and characters you'll wish you were spending an evening playing cards with. I've read the first book in this series though not the second - alas - since I'm way behind on my reading schedule what with edits and such, but it is definitely on my tbr list. 

The first book is called My Once And Future Duke (February 27th, 2018) You can read my review of it HERE and check out the blurb below the stunning cover image:

What happens at the infamous Vega Club …
Sophie Campbell is determined to be mistress of her own fate. Surviving on her skill at cards, she never risks what she can't afford to lose. Yet when the Duke of Ware proposes a scandalous wager that's too extravagant to refuse, she can't resist. If she wins, she'll get five thousand pounds, enough to secure her independence forever.
Stays at the Vega Club …
Jack Lindeville, Duke of Ware, tells himself he's at the Vega Club merely to save his reckless brother from losing everything, but he knows it's a lie. He can't keep his eyes off Sophie, and to get her he breaks his ironclad rule against gambling. It he wins, he wants her—for a week.
Until now.
A week with Jack could ruin what's left of Sophie's reputation. It might even break her heart. But when it comes to love, all bets are off …

The second installment in this series, is called An Earl Like You (August 28, 2018)

When you gamble at love...
When Hugh Deveraux discovers his newly inherited earldom is bankrupt, he sets about rebuilding the family fortune—in the gaming hells of London. But the most daring wager he takes isn't at cards. A wealthy tradesman makes a tantalizing offer: marry the man's spinster daughter, and Hugh's debts will be paid and his fortune made. The only catch is that she must never know about their agreement.
You risk losing your heart...
Heiress Eliza Cross has given up hope of marriage until she meets the impossibly handsome Earl of Hastings, her father's new business partner. The earl is everything a gentleman should be, and is boldly attentive to her. It doesn't take long for Eliza to lose her heart and marry him.
But when Eliza discovers that there is more to the man she loves—and to her marriage—her trust is shattered. And it will take all of Hugh's power to prove that now his words of love are real.
If you hop on over to Caroline Linden's website, you'll discover the following: 
Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer code before discovering that writing fiction was far more fun. Since then, the Boston Red Sox have won the World Series three times, which is not related but still worth mentioning. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages, and have won the NEC-RWA Reader's Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, the NJRW Golden Leaf Award, and RWA's RITA Award. She lives in New England.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Being an author isn't enough. You also have to be a publicist.

For those of you looking to get published and who think all you need to do is write a great book, you'd be wrong. Not to discourage you or anything, because in my opinion there's nothing better than being an author. It's my ideal job. But it's also a ton of hard work - and that's without considering the writing.
One of the biggest jobs you'll have to take on as well, is the publicity one. If you think a publisher's going to do all of that for you while you sit back and watch your book rankings rise, think again. Sure, a good publisher will push your book because it's in their interest to make you be as successful as possible, but you have to help. For me, doing publicity for my books takes up just as much time as writing, if not more. It also costs a fair bit, so you'll need to set aside a budget and figure out the best ways in which to spend it so your book receives the attention it deserves. Over the years, I've had a lot of terrible experiences with promo opportunities I paid for without getting any results. That sucks, but with time, I've narrowed it down to a few key places I consider reliable.
They are: BookBub (super expensive but worth it), Bargainbooksy and Many Books, which are both great for promo stacking, and Booksweeps, which is great for growing your mailing list.
Now, back to all the extra work I was talking about before. A lot of authors choose to hire assistants (often virtually) to help out with this and while tempting, I really don't want the extra expense because I'd rather put that money toward advertising.
So here's a list of everything I can think of that happens after I've spent about five hours of my day writing and/or editing.

  • Update my website for each new book and event - I built my website myself and saved a few grand on hiring someone to do this. Was this something I knew how to do beforehand? Not at all. But I figured it out and so can you!
  • Update newsletter for the next mailing
  • Find appropriate images for weekly FB posts and schedule those posts
  • Post an image to instagram at least once a day with hashtags
  • Write a blog post at least three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
  • Create memes, quote cards and banners for new releases and/or promo events
  • Set up giveaways on Promosimple
  • Order promotional bookmarks - I do this through Printrunner
  • Mail promo material to my amabassadors
  • Make sure my ambassadors receive an ARC of any upcoming releases
  • Set up promos on various websites (BookBubBargainbooksyMany Books)
  • Create FB adds
  • Write blog posts and answer interview questions for tours
  • Review other authors books as a way to boost traffic on my blog
  • Correspondence - respond to emails, FB comments and other online messages.

Now, since I'm also self-published as of November 2017, there are a few additional things I have to add, like:

  • Set up Goodreads giveaways - this is no longer a free service, but it is pretty effective in terms of spreading awareness for a book
  • Procure a book cover
  • Publish book on Amazon KDP and Createspace (these are currently in the process of merging) and via Draft2Digital (B&N, Kobo, iTunes etc)
  • Set up a blog tour - I use Indiesage
  • Contact bloggers to request reviews and to make them aware of the tour - a very time consuming process but one I consider necessary
  • Run a giveaway on Librarything in exchange for reviews.

And that's about it, I think. There are probably other little things I'm forgetting at the moment, but all in all, this is a pretty accurate list. Granted, I don't have to do all of it every day, but each item does take a fair amount of time. 
Again, this is not meant to discourage, but it is something to keep in mind and, I think, good to know in advance. And if you're passionate about writing, you won't mind putting in the extra effort to get your book noticed. You'll want to do everything you can in order to make it happen!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Regency period medicine and the inspiration behind Florian - the physician in The Illegitimate Duke

One of my favorite things about being an author, aside from sharing my stories with readers, is all the wonderful information I find while doing research. Writing The Illegitimate Duke allowed me to dive back into Regency medicine, an area that first caught my interest seven years ago when I started work on There’s Something About Lady Mary. What intrigues me just as much now as it did back then, is discovering how advanced some physicians and surgeons were in the past. They weren’t all the blood-letting quacks so often depicted in the movies. For instance, I bet it would surprise you to know that the first successful heart surgery on record, was performed by the Spanish surgeon, Francisco Romero, in 1801! Granted, he ‘only’ worked on the lining of the heart in order to drain excess fluid, but he did this twice without either patient dying. And don’t forget that this was done at a time before anesthesia, which is really quite amazing. Unfortunately, finding information on Francisco Romero wasn’t easy. It required a bit of digging and eventually I just stumbled upon him by chance. If you do a search for ‘history of heart surgery’ or ‘first heart surgery’ etc. other more recent surgeons are credited, which in my opinion is rather unjust.

Delayed acceptance of discovery happens in all areas of science, of course, but it always happens in the field of medicine with great poignancy, since there the human costs of dropping the technological ball are usually great. – Alcor. Life Extension Foundation

Similarly, Charles Kite and William Buchan were medical pioneers who ought to be household names. Instead, other people are more famously known for discoveries and claims these men made long before anyone else. I bet it would surprise you to know that the first cardiac defibrillation was given to a three year old girl on July 16th 1774, long before Jean-Louis Prevost and Frederic Batelli demonstrated the use of defibrillation in 1899. When Catharine Sophie Greenhill fell out of a first floor window, an apothecary pronounced her dead. Thankfully, a neighbor named Squires, an amateur scientist, arrived on the scene twenty minutes later with an electrostatic generator and proceeded to pass electricity through her body. History records that after giving her several shocks to the chest, her pulse reappeared and she began breathing again. Eventually, after a short time in coma, she recovered fully.
This incident is remarkable and this is where Charles Kite comes in, because he took note. As a member of the Humane Society (still in existence today and originally named The Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned), he not only advocated the resuscitation of people in cardiac arrest by using bellows as well as oral and nasal intubation, but also developed his own electrostatic revivifying machine. This used Leyden jar capacitors in a similar way to the DC counter shock of the modern cardiac defibrillator, which makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? I mean, we’re still talking late 18th Century here since Kite received a silver medal for his work in 1788.

In The Illegitimate Duke, the hero, Florian Lowell, is a very progressive man of medicine who has traveled the world and likes to keep up to date with new discoveries. Through him and his conversations with the heroine, Juliette Matthews, it is my hope that Charles Kite will be brought to people’s attention and remembered for his extraordinary contribution to both science and medicine.
The same can be said about William Buchan. I have used his book, Domestic Medicine, as the foundation for Florian’s knowledge about hygiene. He even lends the book to Juliette and advises her to read it. This is because it really aggravates me when the wrong person is acknowledged for an achievement. While the Hungarian physician, Ignaz Philipp SemIgnaz (1818-1865), did find the connection between the handling of corpses and puerperal fever in childbirth, he is not the first person to discover the significance of hand washing, even though his finds in this area did result in greater attention to cleanliness in operating rooms.
Because here’s the problem with that theory: William Buchan wrote about the importance of hand washing in Domestic Medicine, first published in 1772, where he says: 

Were every person, for example, after handling a dead body, visiting the sick, etc, to wash before he went into company, or sat down to meat, he would run less hazard either of catching the infection himself, or communicating it to others.

Buchanan also mentions the importance of cleanliness aboard a ship where escaping an epidemic would be difficult. In this context, he advises that if infectious diseases were to break out, cleanliness is the most likely way to prevent it from spreading. This includes the washing of all clothing and bedding used by the sick as well as fumigation with brimstone or the like.
In The Illegitimate Duke, Florian applies these methods during a typhus outbreak. He uses tar water instead of brimstone, however, and cleans the quarantine ship with a solution of lime, as implemented by the Edinburgh Infirmary and advised by practitioners of the Royal Army and Navy during the early 19th Century. Furthermore, inspiration for the treatment of typhus was found in the Edinburgh Infirmary’s insistence that patients be stripped of their clothing, given haircuts to remove lice (which would have been helpful since typhus was spread by lice, though this wasn’t known until Charles Nicolle made the connection in 1903) given a bath and in some cases rubbed with mercurial ointment.
Florian also uses morphine, a narcotic that wasn’t commercially available in 1821 when the story takes place, even though it had been produced in Germany by pharmacist Friedrich Sertürner in 1804. I like to think that Florian corresponded with Sertürner who happily supplied him with morphine after Florian carried out his own tests. This attention to detail and willingness to stay apprised of medical advancements is what makes Florian such a wonderful physician and hero.
When asked how he came by his profession, he responds:

“Saving lives is a never- ending struggle against the evils of the world. The things I have seen have changed me in ways I am not always fond of. When I began my apprenticeship, I was sixteen years old and used to a life of leisure and luxury. Seeing a boy my own age lose a limb that first day was shocking. I confess I fled the operating room to cast up my accounts.”
“And the boy?”
“He died three days later from infection.” Florian’s voice was strained with emotion. “I made it my purpose then and there to discover the best methods of medical treatment and surgery. Forced to complete my apprenticeship in order to be admitted into Oxford, I dedicated my free time to reading medical texts and interviewing not only other physicians, but anyone I could find who had traveled abroad and born witness to successful surgeries.”

Since Florian had the funds to attend university and I don’t go into detail, this doesn’t really convey how easy it was to gain a medical education and start your own practice prior to 1815. Apprenticeships for physicians, apothecaries and surgeons were extremely popular. No examination was required at the end, which lead to a huge imbalance in student competence, depending on who the teacher had been.
Like Florian, many aspiring physicians did attend university since this added an element of prestige to their profession. But obtaining a degree did not require the sort of hands on experience one might expect. It focused mostly on writings of physicians from classical times such as Hippocrates and Galen and on the student’s ability to defend two theses before the Professor of Medicine in Latin. Shockingly, however, it was quite acceptable for the student to pay someone to do this for him.

Some of this leniency changed after 1815, at least for the apothecaries who were now obligated to adhere to the Apothecaries Act. Enforced by the Society of Apothecaries and requiring qualifying examinations, its main features were:
       The Society of Apothecaries became the main examining body for entry into general medical practice
       A five year apprenticeship was compulsory
       The holder of the Licence of the Society of Apothecaries (LSA) must be willing to dispense physicians' prescriptions
       The LSA was compulsory for all who dispensed
It seems that because of the lack of regulations during most of the nineteenth century, ridding the medical community of quacks and ensuring high levels of skill, was an uphill battle. Even so, there were some remarkable physicians and surgeons who were truly dedicated to their work and to their patients, such as Charles Kite and Franciso Romero. These are the men on whom Florian is based – on the men who saw medicine as a vocation instead of simply a way in which to make a living.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Easy peasy lasagna

I've always loved a good lasagna while my husband has never been particularly crazy about it because he always feels as though there's too much tomato sauce. With practice, however, I've managed to perfect a simple lasagna recipe that isn't too heavy on tomato sauce and doesn't even require stirring up a bechamel sauce. That doesn't mean it doesn't take time since there is some prepping and the lasagna still needs to be baked, but the final result is one that even my husband enjoys now while both of my kids are crazy for it. In fact, all I've done is modify the recipe on the back of the fresh lasagna pack I bought and create a filling that gets my kids to eat their veggies without even realizing :)
Oh, and did I mention that it's vegetarian? Fear not meat lovers! The Gardein beefless ground meat is so good everyone's shocked to discover there's no meat in it. This dish is a success every time I make it!

Approximate time: 2 hrs


  • Fresh lasagna (as pictured below)
  • cooking oil or butter
  • A mixture of chopped vegetables. (My preferred options are: 1 squash, 2 carrots (grated not chopped), 1 red bell pepper, a large onion, some celery and mushrooms). Whenever I'm out of some items I compensate with canned sweet corn and/or carrots.
  • Gardain beefless ground meet - 1 pack
  • Your favorite pasta sauce - mine is either Classico Sweet Tomato & Basil OR Wholesome Pantry Italian Herb
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Grill Mates Brown Sugar Burbon spice
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 packs of sliced cheese - I use Muenster (this is so much simpler than grated and allows for an even cheese covering)


  1. Prepare all your vegetables (I like to put them all in a big bowl as I do so). Put some cooking oil or butter in a large enough wok or pot and cook at medium heat for about ten minutes while occasionally stirring.
  2. cover the bottom of a large oven-safe dish with some of the pasta sauce
  3. Add the remaining pasta sauce to your vegetables and bring to a simmer
  4. Add the beefless ground meat, bring to a simmer and wait for it to defrost. Stir well!
  5. Add the heavy cream
  6. Add the brown sugar bourbon, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
  7. Leave to simmer for about 10 minute
  8. Start layering your lasagna by placing lasagna on top of the pasta sauce, put one third of the vegetable filling on top, arrange cheese slices on top and repeat: lasagna, filling, cheese, lasagna, filling, cheese, lasagna, filling cheese.
  9. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hr in the middle of your oven at 375 F. 
  10. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes
  11. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Writing The Love That Saved Him

Part of the reason why I really wanted to get into self-publishing, is because it allows me the freedom to publish some of the stories the publishing houses aren't interested in, either because they're difficult to market or don't fit the right slot at the time when I submit the manuscript. After offering this story to Avon and later to Kensington Press, and having it declined, I decided to go it alone. I knew it wouldn't be easy, simply because the story, being the contemporary one that it is, would not appeal to many of my readers. Still, I was determined to try for the simple reason that this is one of those books that had to be written. I can't really explain it any other way. All I can say it that the subject matter haunted me until a plot began taking shape inside my head. I started envisioning the characters and how to develop them over the course of the story. Their goals became as clear as their tragic backgrounds and scenery. So one night a couple of years ago, I sat down and wrote the first chapter. It would take another year and a half to complete the entire first draft of the book, not because I got writer's block, but because I had other projects under contract with my publisher. So this became a side project I occasionally worked on when I had time to spare, because just as I had to write it, I knew it had to be published so other people could share in Pierce and Sarah's journey. I've lost a lot of family members and friends to cancer over the years, including my aunt and my cousin. I was ten years old the first time I heard of a family friend passing away because of this awful disease. It shocked me to realize that such a thing was possible and that this friend's illness had progressed so fast. The idea behind The Love That Saved Him, is to shine some light on the devastating effect cancer can have while reminding people how important it is not to let it destroy those who have to go on without the people they've lost. It's about valuing life, finding beauty in simple moments and recovering from pain through friendship and love. 
Of all the stories I have ever written, this is probably the closest one to my heart, because it resonates in too many ways to count. I hope you enjoy reading it, and while I know it's not a historical, it is a cozy read filled with deep emotion and a little bit of gold-mining fun to lighten the mood. Hopefully you will give it a try and if you enjoy it, write a review. If you do, then I thank you. All reviews are greatly appreciated :)

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Love That Saved Him - Goodreads Giveaway - ends soon!

I'm giving away 50 e-book copies of The Love That Saved Him on Goodreads! This giveaway ends on September 17th, so enter now for a chance to win a copy of my first contemporary romance. This story is all about overcoming loss and having the courage to open your heart and learning to love again. It goes on sale October 2nd. Please see below for a longer description and buy links.

He needed escape…
Suffering from the recent loss of his wife, Pierce Jackson leaves behind his corporate job in New York City and heads to the Klondike. There he meets Sarah Palmer whose eighty-five year old gold mining grandfather wants to lease the most dangerous part of Pierce's property. The last thing Pierce wants is to fall for Sarah. But as they start working together, a bond begins to form, and Pierce must eventually ask himself if he can overcome guilt and heartache and welcome the love of another woman into his heart.
And found a new beginning instead.
Sarah has a lot more on her mind than starting a relationship with her handsome new neighbor. But as she gets to know Pierce, she begins to wonder, what if? Encouraged by her matchmaking grandfather whose biggest wish is to see her settled, Sarah finds herself swept up in the most unexpected romance. But with shocking family history unfolding and a gold-mining expedition that could go wrong in so many ways, there's a lot for Sarah and Pierce to take care of before they can find their happily ever after.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Love That Saved Him by Sophie Barnes

The Love That Saved Him

by Sophie Barnes

Giveaway ends September 17, 2018.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What I'm watching

Although a lot of series are restarting now after the summer, my husband and I were scrolling through viewing options on Amazon Prime a couple of months ago when I pointed to a fun looking image of a nerdy guy and a sexy woman that screamed romantic action comedy, and said, "why don't we try that?" My husband stared at me for a second, then said, "Chuck?" He stared at me some more. "You haven't seen Chuck?" I shook my head and my husband hit play. Apparently this was one of those shows that had been on a few years ago already - the sort he'd watched by himself because I hadn't been interested...Yeah, there are a few of those, like Psyche, which I'll mention again below.
Fortunately, my husband hadn't seen the first couple of seasons, so I didn't feel too guilty about having him watch it again with me and while I wasn't entirely sure what to expect or how good the show was going to be, I soon became addicted.
Here's the gist: A Buy More (i.e. Best Buy type store) employee whose life if fairly dull and ordinary, is suddenly the CIA's most important asset after having all of the CIA's intelligence downloaded into his brain. His handler, Sarah Walker and an NSA guy, Casey, become his partners, joining him on secret missions and saving the world with Chuck often wondering what he got himself into.
It's funny, romantic, action packed and creative. The plots are interesting and always full of surprises, so I'd say there's a little bit here for everyone. Secondary characters are really strong too and allow for some compelling sub plots. There's Chuck's sister and her boyfriend + Chuck's childhood friend, Morgan, who also works at the Buy More and all the crazy Buy More employees, all of whom have to be kept in the dark about the CIA's secret operations and the base that's located right beneath their feet.
So if you're looking for a great show to binge watch, this is one I would definitely recommend along with Psyche and Castle. They're all built on the same premise of an ordinary guy getting thrown into unusual circumstances in which he has to find the skills with which to cope while a more experienced female counterpart backs him up.
There's also a cuteness factor because of the comedy and the romantic interest between these men and the bad ass women on their teams. Of course there are also the annoying moments where you wish the hero would be a bit more adept at matching the heroine's skill set, but since they have other talents (like Chuck being a whiz at computers), it doesn't matter so much if they're not martial art pros. BUT...what is fun with Chuck, is when the program downloaded into Chuck's brain gets an update and he's suddenly able to tap into that kind of knowledge, like how to use a gun, do kung fu or speak another language, but for that you'll have to make it to season 3 - no cheating!
I wish there were more shows like these on T.V. Or maybe there are and I just haven't found them yet.
So give it a try if you haven't already and if you have, share your thoughts in the comments below. Did you enjoy Chuck, Psyche or Castle? Are there other similar shows out there that you'd recommend?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Getting back in the swing of things

The kids went back to school last week, leaves started falling off the trees two days ago, my editor emailed me her review notes for my next release yesterday, so I can no longer pretend I'm still on summer vacation, no matter how much I'd rather doodle in my bujo, lounge about reading romance novels or watching T.V. 
It is officially time for me to get back to work, which is no easy feat since I've really enjoyed taking time off with my family. 
Writing, I always find, takes practice and requires routine. Whenever I take a break from it and get out of the habit of putting down 3-4,000 words per day, it is incredibly hard to get back into the swing of it. 
But, I now have a deadline looming on the horizon, so here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to grab a cup of coffee, plant myself in my favorite writing chair and turn off the internet to disable all social media notifications, incoming email distractions etc. Then I'm going to take a deep breath and dive right into chapter one of the monster before me. And yes, it is a monster right now since it needs a complete makeover. But I'm determined. You do not manage to write more than twenty books without being willing to take on an uphill battle - ask any author and I'm sure they'll confirm this. It's part of the reason why most people who say they want to write a book, never do. Because it's hard, but at the end of the day, it's also incredibly rewarding to know that you've built a new world and placed characters in it. 
I realize this, and that is the part I look forward to - the goal I know I can reach since I've done it before. I will turn this beast into a beauty, put ribbons on it and make it sparkle. So if you're struggling with your own story right now and trying to make it work, pulling your hair out with discouraged frustration or trying to overcome writer's block, know that you're not alone. I'm in the boat with you, but rather than sit and despair over how far away the shore is, let's pick up our paddles and row. That way we'll get there eventually - little by little - one word at a time.
And here's the interesting part - the truth - at least from my point of view: As soon as I actually start, I get sucked in and the edits miraculously get done by the deadline and sometimes even before. Because an author's persistence goes hand in hand with passion for the stories they write. We immerse ourselves in them and savor the process of turning them into the gems they are destined to be. If we didn't, our jobs would not be possible and we'd find something else to do instead. So take a seat and accept that summer is over and there's work to be done. Open your WIP or start a new one. Give yourself a fixed set of hours per day or daily word count. When you reach it, offer yourself a reward, like an hour with your favorite show, magazine or book, a bubble bath or some other treat. Then take a deep breath and repeat the next day and the day after that. Before you  know it, you'll have reached your goal - that elusive place that seemed so unreachable weeks before. And when you do, don't forget to congratulate yourself for your achievement, because you've done something most people wish they could do, but don't.

- Never Give Up. Just Keep On Writing -

Friday, September 7, 2018

My best August purchases

Because it was summer vacation and I got to travel with my family, I picked up a lot of great things this month. My favorite items are probably the ceramics from Spain. Going back there to visit after moving away twenty three years ago, I really wanted something with sentimental value. The pieces I found were bought in the closest village to my childhood home, so I couldn't be happier and have since used both while entertaining guests at my home in the U.S.

Another purchase I'm happy with, and one which has changed my life somewhat, is my bujo journal. After a bit of research I decided to go for a red Minimalism Art journal

It was quite a bit cheaper than the Moleskin and Leuchtturm and the quality is really good with an option for either ruled or dotted paper. To go with it, I bought some Tanmit dual tip brush pens and Cra-z-art colored pencils which were on sale at my local grocery store in the 'back to school' section. 

I know everyone recommends Tombow and Prismacolors (LOVE Prismacolors after using them at my design job years ago), but they're also a lot pricier, so since I wasn't sure if this whole bujo thing would be a passing hobby or something I'd stick with, I chose to go cheap to begin with. 

What are your best August buys? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

If you're looking for a forbidden love romance between employer and employee with some stellar secondary characters in supporting roles, then take a look at Tessa Dare's latest release!

When Alexandra Mountbatten arrives on Chase Reynaud's doorstep seeking employment as a clock setter, she is shocked to discover that he is the very same man she developed a crush on months earlier after bumping into him at a bookshop. To her surprise, she quickly realizes that their encounter did not impact her the same, for he doesn't even recognize her. Instead, he convinces her to become the governess he so desperately needs for his two unruly charges and in spite of trying to avoid such employment, Alexandra eventually relents, leading to close proximity with Chase and the sort of temptation that could end up breaking her heart.

Chase is a duke's heir and one of London's most notorious rakes. With no intention of ever marrying and producing an heir or forming an attachment, he makes every possible effort to keep his wards and his new governess at arm's length. But Alexandra has something else in mind and Chase soon finds himself taking his wards out for excursions and becoming increasingly involved in Alexandra's life. While he continues to struggle with feelings of unworthiness and pushing the people nearest to him away, he gradually opens his heart and allows himself to do what he dreads the most, which is fall in love.

A wonderful addition to The Duchess Deal and a thoroughly enjoyable read!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Making a comic to advertise your book

Starting my bujo opened up a whole new world of inspiration and as I was thinking about ways in which to be more creative with advertising for my latest release, I decided to try making a comic - yes, this crazy idea just popped into my head and refused to be dismissed. So I spent some time online looking at how to simplify faces for cartoons and ways to add detail. The hardest part was actually coming up with some text that wasn't too long and which would give people an overall idea of what The Illegitimate Duke is about while encouraging them to buy the book and read it. I'm not sure how successful I've been with this last part, but since it is my first attempt at making a comic, I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, though I will say it did take a lot of time!

For a step by step on how I put it all together, here is the rough text I was trying to work out along with a rough image draft to figure out how many frames I'd need and to give myself an idea of how to draw the characters in each frame:

Next, I  laid the frames out in my bujo, which was fairly simple because of the dotted pages, and then I sketched in the images and text bubbles. This part took the longest.

Finally, I went over everything with my fine point sharpie, which is my favorite bujo pen because it doesn't bleed through the pages and the ink has a nice smooth quality to it.

Hope you enjoyed. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Have you made a comic or do you have other original advertising ideas you'd like to share? Please feel free to share :)