Friday, December 15, 2017 | By: Cafe
These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
- Najwa Zebian
Thursday, December 14, 2017 | By: Cafe

A Writer's Treat: The Retreat by Jami Gray


The Write Way Café welcomes Jami Gray. Author of Beg for Mercy, Book 2 in her Fate's Virtues series, she offers tips for taking a break.

Ah, the scent of wood smoke and rain tells me another year is gearing up for the fall and it’s time for a well-earned break. You know the kind, the type you use to reward yourself for surviving another round of new projects, writer conferences, pitch sessions, the merry-go-round of queries, new releases, and the never-ending whirlwind of life in general.

My reward of choice is the Writer Retreat. A chance to go off alone or with other like-minded individuals and spend uninterrupted days of living in my head.  This year I get to disappear to a cabin north of my desert dwelling where the dust is filtered out by the green things known as trees and I’ll hole up with my writing partners. We’ll disappear into our laptops, rising only to refuel with caffeine and/or actual food, then sink back under the creative waves. I can’t wait!

I make it a habit to take time each year to devote purely to my writing, and it’s never easy.  Last year was a wash because my schedule just couldn’t support me ghosting. Trying to find the time is your first challenge, and before you clear that hurdle, the second one is nipping on your heels, how to pay for it. Most writers hold a day job, because it’s the one that pays for the nifty roof overhead, so doing a retreat is…well…a treat.

While I’m not the guru of retreats, I can share a few ideas to help spark your own. There are tons of options out there: train rides across the U.S., cruises, themed hotels, retreats in exotic locales, or just getting away all by yourself. Whatever route you choose, I urge you to take one each year. Trust me, your creativity will love you for it.

Normally such an adventure requires I ban together with my critique partners. We locate desirable shelter, generally a cabin hours from the desert sun, hopefully with enough beds so we aren’t flipping a coin for the futon. We utilize Vacation Rentals by Owner (aka VRBO) and keep our requirements basic: beds, electricity, and a functioning kitchen and bathrooms. If there’s no internet, all the better, then no one is tempted to sneak online. We plan on three days and then all bring various foodstuff, enough so we have one big meal together each day, the rest of the time we forage. Coffee is a must, and so is chocolate, but the rest is up for discussion. Significant others are banished. Phones are put on silent. For all intents and purposes, we no longer exist for the world at large.

It’s a beatific existence and many words are conquered. Late night conversations create unforgettable memories and for those three blessed days, we live the life of a WRITER. Once we return from our creative mountain, our creativity is back in session and ideas are bouncing all over the place.

Then there are the solo retreats, where the stars align and suddenly you have a day or two at your disposal. I wish I could tell you that staying home works, but I’ve found it never does. Too many “to-do” things lurk in the corners waiting to pounce. Slipping away to a hotel, or if you’re the intrepid type, hiking out to a secluded corner of nature, works well. The further away you get, the less likely those in your life are to hunt you down with pesky questions. 

Regardless if you retreat group-style or solo, the whole point is to get away from the daily pressures of deadlines, word counts, family obligations, school commitments, job pressures, and whatever else has piled on top of you in the last few months, so you can take a moment to recapture the excitement and joy of writing. 

Burn out doesn’t discriminate, and writers suffer from it all too often.  It’s easy to say, “I can’t”. Trust me, I get it. There’s always something coming up for payment, a commitment you can’t get out of, or the fact you’re feeling guilty for not spending time with the kids (even though they barely look up from their computers/phones). Yet, I’m begging you, if you get a chance, even if it’s just a few hours, take it and run. I promise it will be worth it in the end.



BEG FOR MERCY, Fate’s Vultures #2, coming February 2018

     Choosing a side has never been so dangerous…
     The world didn't end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.
     An assassin by trade, a loner by nature, Mercy is sent to infiltrate the Cartels and unmask the identity of their new silent partner. Instead, she discovers a darker plan threatening to crumble the entire Southwest and ends up with a hefty bounty on her head. Still, she’s determined to stop the impending attack at any costs, even if it means partnering up with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures.
     After enduring a brutal, blood soaked lesson on the savagery of civilization’s scavengers, Havoc is well acquainted with the consequences of battling predators. But as a member of the nomadic band of arbitrators known as Fate’s Vultures, he’s determined to cement the necessary allies to oust the biggest threat looming on the horizon. When an enigmatic woman crosses his path, her secrets and troubling loyalty light the fuse on an unexpected craving and his insatiable curiosity.
     In order to trap a common foe and derail an impending threat, Havoc and Mercy must turn the tables to hunt a predator. Can an assassin and a mercenary find their balance on the thin line of loyalty, or will it snap under the weight of their wary hearts?

Jami Gray is the coffee addicted, music junkie, Queen Nerd of her personal Geek Squad, Alpha Mom of the Fur Minxes, and award winning author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams, and her latest Romantic Suspense series, Fate’s Vultures. She writes to soothe the voices in her head. 

Her upcoming release: BEG FOR MERCY is the second in her Fate’s Vultures series and hits shelves in February 2018. Catch up with LYING IN RUINS, available wherever ebooks are sold.

If you want to hunt her down, she can be found lurking around the following cyber locations:

Website     Facebook    Twitter      Goodreads     Google+     Amazon Author Page



Tuesday, December 12, 2017 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: The Last Christmas on Earth by Augustina Van Hoven

Augustina Van Hoven
www.augustinavanhoven.com


Coming soon!


What would you do 
if you had to choose 
between your life’s dream 
or your soul mate?


The Last Christmas on Earth is a prequel for my series, A New Frontier, coming out in March.  Scott Southerland is an engineer aboard the colony starship Halcyon.  The ship is currently in dry dock going through final fittings and testing for its trip to a new world.  Harper Castille is a botanist specializing in cloning vegetable plants.  They are both looking forward to their new lives on an alien world but someone has other plans.  How do you choose between your lifelong dream and your soulmate?


Buy links coming soon!



Augustina Van Hoven was born in The Netherlands and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two dogs and three cats.   She is an avid reader of romance, science fiction and fantasy.  When she’s not writing she likes to work in her garden or in the winter months crochet and knit on her knitting machines.  

@augustinavhoven     FaceBook     Pinterest





Friday, December 8, 2017 | By: Cafe
You can't think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.
- John Rogers
Thursday, December 7, 2017 | By: Cafe

Adventures with Naughty Nana by Saralyn Richard

The Write Way Cafe welcomes Saralyn Richard, who shares background on her book, Naughty Nana, and tips for writing children's books.

Naughty Nana is a children’s picture book about an Old English sheepdog puppy who “just wants to have fun.”  Written for three to eight year olds and the people who love them, it explores the age-old question of why some puppies or some kids choose to be naughty.




I wrote the book when my real-live naughty sheepdog was at the height of her wild phase.  Nana’s nicknames were Princess of Pandemonium and Duchess of Destruction.  I resorted to keeping a list of her acts of mischief.  When the list exceeded two legal pad pages, I thought of turning it into a book, and a star was born.


Cute, but wild and crazy Nana, the Princess of Pandemonium



Vividly illustrated by veteran artist Rebecca Evans, the book is narrated by Nana herself.  Since its publication, Nana has become a divapup, entertaining young audiences at book readings and birthday parties.  I never dreamed Naughty Nana would receive as much acclaim as it has.  We have fans throughout the United States and in the U.K.  One young reader dressed up as Nana, her favorite book character, for Diversity in Action Day at her school.  Another sleeps with Naughty Nana under her pillow every night. 



What are the keys to a successful children’s picture book?
  •        A compelling, relatable character,
  •        An understandable plot, simply told,
  •        A positive message,
  •        Vibrant illustrations and cover design,
  •        A liberal dose of humor, and
  •         In the case of Naughty Nana, a fluffy and lovable living example of what it means to be not-so-naughty-anymore.
For more information about Naughty Nana, including reviews and shopping, see www.palmcirclepress.com/bookstore or like the Naughty Nana page on Facebook. 



About Saralyn:  Mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, has been a teacher who wrote on the side. Now she is a writer who teaches on the side. Some of her poems and essays have won awards and contests from the time she was in high school. Her children’s picture book, Naughty Nana, has reached thousands of children in five countries.
     Murder in the One Percent, soon-to-be-published by Black Opal Books, pulls back the curtain on how the privileged and powerful rich live, love, and hate. Set on a gentleman’s farm in Pennsylvania and in the tony areas of New York, the book shows what happens when someone comes to a party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket.
     When she is not writing, Saralyn likes going to movies and concerts, traveling, and walking on the beach with her husband and two dogs. She is an avid reader and is working on her second mystery.

Website     Facebook       Twitter       Goodreads


Tuesday, December 5, 2017 | By: Cafe

Christmas is a State of Being @lcrandallwriter


I’m not going to say it. Christmas is----days away. I’m not going to say it. I want you to just enjoy your day today, and not get all bunched up about an impending holiday and all the preparations that go into said holiday.

I’m thinking Christmas, when we really enjoy it the most, is a state of being. We tell ourselves we’re supposed to be filled with good cheer. Ho, Ho, Ho, and all that. We’re supposed to enjoy our gatherings with family and friends. We’re supposed to buy gifts and enjoy gift giving. Those things are not bad, they’re good. And yet, sometimes the season feels fake; it’s in our mind but not our heart. We have to muster up enough pleasure in traditions to care very much. Where is the joy in our hearts, the sense of peace on earth, the satisfaction of making others happy?

I say, it can become less than joyful when our state of being is something else. And sometimes our state is troubled or going through the motions, wishing we were genuinely peaceful.

Noël Hartely, the heroine in my newest release, Nutcracker Sweet, is facing Christmas in a state of grief and sorrow. Christmas everywhere is a blast of frigid air, because the first anniversary of her sister Regina’s death is upon her.

Christmas magic is not there either for the hero, Jonah Grant. As a firefighter, he should have saved Noël’s sister. Her death haunts him, now more than ever.

Here’s an excerpt from Nutcracker Sweet:

Ringing in Jonah’s ears drowned out all other sounds in the grocery story. He backed behind a shelf of pistachio nuts and pumpkin and chia seeds to gather his composure. He was the last person Noël would want to run into. No, there wouldn’t be any small talk between Reggie’s sister and the fireman responsible for Reggie’s death.
His pulse raced. Get a grip, man. If he could make his feet move, he would march out to the street and keep marching until he could disappear inside Cranberry Cove Fire Station Four.
But he stayed still, letting his body come back to life. This wasn’t the first time their paths had nearly crossed, but each time he had gone through the same whole-body shut down. He couldn’t ever escape what happened that night at Reggie’s house when her wood stove had caught fire.
It was a firefighter’s nightmare, his dad had said, himself a former firefighter. But the words hadn’t helped because the facts remained that he’d gone into the fire and a young woman died anyway.
He shook his head. No, he couldn’t go to the memory pit right now, not here. He peeked around the shelving unit and caught a glimpse of Noël as she headed toward the bread aisle. This was his chance. At six-foot-four, he felt like the green giant as he moved away from his hiding place. Briskly, his head down, he strode down the aisle toward his escape.
“Excuse me, could you help me get that box of crackers on the top shelf?”
The female voice sounded familiar and he looked up, ready to assist the woman. His heart stopped. Please floor, open up and swallow me now.
It was Noël Hartley, standing two feet away and asking for help. She blinked, twice, and swayed a tiny bit. It was a very quiet sound, but he heard her gasp.
“I’m sorry.” The words just fell out. “I mean, sure.” He couldn’t move.
She held his gaze, silently, for a full, frozen minute. “Hi, Jonah. Do you mind?” She pointed to a box of seven grain, sea salt crackers. “Please? I’m five-foot-six, but that’s a tall shelf.”
She had to justify asking for help? So she was nervous, and that made him sick. He grabbed the box and handed it to her, his arms were heavy logs. “Just one box?”
She slanted her head, and his pulse sped up. Cute was not a strong enough word to assign to her face. Cad.
“No, two would be better.”
He gave her another box and paused, their eyes meeting again. His mouth went dry. Words, where were his words? Nerves rattled in his head. “I came in to get something for dinner, but I don’t know…” He let the sentence drop and studied the shelves. The boxes blurred into a mass of indistinguishable colors.
She chuckled lightly, and it steadied his rambling thoughts. “Me too. I have to pick up things for a dinner, anyway.” She chewed on her lip, drawing his attention to them.
His heart ached for her. The apologies he had made to her and her family just after the fire were the last words he’d spoken about the tragedy with them. His words had been so inadequate that thinking of them now he felt his skin blanch. He lifted his gaze and found Noël searching his face.
“Jonah,” her expression got very somber, “I don’t hold any hard feelings for you. Don’t feel uncomfortable for what happened.” She dropped her gaze, but not before he saw her pain. Then she perked up. “It’s been almost a year. I’m fine. I hope you are too. Now, I need to finish my shopping. Good luck with finding your dinner.”
So we’re going to gloss over everything wrong. She was not fine, and that crunched his heart.

A death near the holidays is truly awful. But other things can be awful, too, and detract from what we want to feel. Family issues can be difficult, even at Christmas. Finances can create drudgery when all we want it to give our loved ones hearts their hearts’ desires.

No matter, I believe we can become that state of being that Christmas means to us, it may take a little centering, a little pausing, a little reflection but it’s there it in your heart.



To see how Noel and Jonah find it peace and meaning at Christmas, find Nutcracker Sweet on Amazon  http://a.co/cgykR3J . For visuals relating to the story, find my board on Pinterest.https://www.pinterest.com/lynncrandallwriter/nutcracker-sweet-a-short-story/ .

 



Friday, December 1, 2017 | By: Cafe
As a writer you try to listen to what others aren't saying...and write about the silence.
- N.R. Hart