Friday, December 27, 2013 | By: Cafe
Mistakes are lessons of wisdom.
                                   - Hugh White
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 | By: Cafe

The Write Way Café would like to wish you and yours 
a very Merry Christmas!



Friday, December 20, 2013 | By: Cafe
Help someone who can't return the favor.
- Author Unknown
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | By: Lynn

Love Your Writing

It's Christmas time and I could talk about Christmas traditions, Christmas magic, Christmas spirit. The season offers a lot of opportunity for reflection.

But what I'm going to discuss is a Christmas book, The Littlest Angel, and its impact on me years ago.

According to the front page of the book, The Littlest Angel was written in 1939 at the request of Screen Guild producers, who asked Charles Tazwell to "write something" as a backup plan if one of the guild's productions fell through. The crisis that it was created to avert never happened but the story aired on a Christmas radio show. In 1946, the book was released by Childrens Press of Chicago. The story was presented in various forms over the years, from radio, to book, to magazine, to record, to a Hallmark Hall of Fame production in 1969.

A brief summary of the story:

Many, many years ago, a four-year-old boy entered heaven. From his first step into paradise he upset the heavenly peace with his behavior and fairly unangelic antics, though he tried to do what was expected of him. But mostly he missed the things on earth he had enjoyed – trees to climb, streams to fish, and caves to play in – and he longed for the sun and the rain and dark of night and light of dawn.

When he learned of the homesickness the littlest angel was suffering, the Understanding Angel sent a messenger to procure a box of the littlest angel's treasures from earth, and from then on the boy was a happy and angelic angel.

As the birth of baby Jesus approached, the heavens were excited and all angels gathered to place gifts for the holy infant at the feet of God. Even the littlest angel had found a suitable gift and placed it lovingly in the pile of gifts. But when he saw his unsightly box among the other glorious gifts, he felt embarrassed and wanted to take it back and hide it.

When God's hand moved over the selection of gifts, he stopped at the box from the littlest angel. The littlest angel was so afraid as the box was opened and everyone including God saw the gift he offered. It was nothing, he thought. It was simply a butterfly with golden wings, a sky-blue egg, two white stones, and a tooth-marked collar once worn by his dog. He was miserable. To think he'd believed these simple things would be fitting gifts for Jesus.

But God singled out his gifts as the gift that pleased Him most. And the rough, unsightly gift began to glow, rise, and shine brilliantly over the stable where the baby Jesus was born. And all men called it the shining star of Bethlehem.

The message of this book gave me a confidence boost when I was young. It came back to me as an adult, still powerful, and reminded me to be myself and not judge my writing so harshly. We writers give from our hearts and hope others enjoy the stories we create as much as we enjoy writing them. It's important to love our own stories.

I wish you all the blessing of self-actualization, free from harsh self-judgment, this holiday season. May you see the beauty in your gift.

What books have not only entertained you but given you useful insights?





Friday, December 13, 2013 | By: Cafe
I think that sometimes the beauty in art is not in the image itself, but in the delayed reaction of the viewer. It is beautiful if it inspires deep emotions in the viewer, including disdain. And partly, too, the beauty is in the courage of the artist—the willingness to explore his or her inner world.
-Rod MacIver

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 | By: HiDee

Ten Gift Suggestions for Your Favorite Writer

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve reviewed Christmas lists from family members on an almost daily basis. Shop, and double-check the list. Shop again, and double-check the list. What can I cross off? What do I still need to find? 

It’s a stressful time for me. You see, I have a Murphy’s law kind of relationship with Christmas shopping. Family members provide their lists to make it easier, but can I find what’s on the lists? Of course not – that would be too easy! The stores either don’t carry the items or they are sold out. Hubby doesn’t understand why it takes me so long to shop. When he goes shopping, I swear the things he’s looking for just magically appear. If I wasn’t also shopping for him, I might drag him along to do all my shopping!

In case you have a Murphy’s law relationship with shopping, too, here are ten suggestions that shouldn’t be difficult to find for YOUR favorite writer! 

1. Amazon gift cards – Who can’t find something they want on Amazon?

2. Moleskin notebooks or blank journal notebooks – I was just a young girl when I received my first “nothing” book. The lure of blank pages was strong, and I filled them with poems and stories. Now I use them to jot down ideas for characters, settings, and plots.

3. Pens – Even though many people have smart phones, laptops, or iPads, I don’t know a writer who doesn’t love a good pen. Sometimes the ideas flow easier with a pen than they do to a keyboard, at least for me.

4. Post-it notes – I love post-it notes! There’s a huge assortment available: small, medium, large; yellow, pastel, or bright colors; lined or unlined. www.knockknockstuff.com has a variety of options with fun sayings. 

5. Tote bag – I never leave home without a book, and at least a small spiral notepad and pen. Instead of cramming them in my purse, I carry a tote bag. There’s plenty of room for a larger notepad, printed manuscript pages for editing, and even my Kindle Fire. 

6. Portable hard drive and/or USB drive – We all need to back up our work. A USB drive is great for taking files between computers, but a portable hard drive is a better way to back up our manuscripts in case we have computer problems.

7. Office supplies – A calendar-style planner, file folders, pocket folders, binder clips, 3-ring notebook or binders, colored index cards, a whiteboard and dry erase markers are some of the office supplies that come in handy for writers working on their projects. 

8. Manicure – Writers’ hands get a workout, whether they type or write by hand.  A hand massage is often part of a manicure.  I never dreamed my hands could feel so relaxed, but after I used a gift certificate from a co-worker to get a manicure, I decided it was something I should try to do more often!

9. Chocolate or favorite beverages – What better way to bribe the muse when she’s not cooperating?

10. Time – Every writer wishes for more time to work on their projects. In lieu of buying a gift, what can you offer your favorite writer to give her more time? Does she have kids? Offer to watch them for a couple of hours so she can write uninterrupted. No kids? Offer to run errands for her while you're our running your own. 

These suggestions are all a few of my favorite things. What would you add to the list?
Friday, December 6, 2013 | By: Cafe
It is always your next move. 
                         - Napoleon Hill
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Christi Caldwell

Today, the Write Way Café welcomes Christi Caldwell.

How did you come to be a writer?
I had to write a story in 5th grade for a statewide test. I wrote this vivid shipwreck story. I still remember the day my teacher called me up. His mouth was hanging open. He held the paper up and said; “this is amazing”. To me, however, it wasn’t work the way that my peers had seen it but rather, fun. From that moment on, I began writing story after story in my room about  imaginary worlds.

That said; as an adult, it has been a journey into finding the confidence to put my work out there to the public. One of my critique partners, a dear friend, and brilliant author said to me; “I’m going to give you a kick in the pants. It’s time you publish all this great work you have.” So, I am.

Your memoir is very honest and engaging. What did you draw from to share your personal story?
Actually, Uninterrupted Joy never started out as a memoir. I began journaling so that my future child or children would understand what my experience to bring them into this world was like. When I  learned I was infertile, I had a million questions for my mom about her reproductive years and she really didn’t have any information for me. I remember thinking that I wanted some kind of document so that my children could not only learn from, but share in the experience that went into bringing them into this world. My intent in writing changed upon my son’s birth when I learned he had Down syndrome.

What were your goals in sharing your experiences?
Oftentimes, moms and dads of children with special needs are put on this pedestal and made to feel saintlike. I remember when my son was born, crying. A lot. And so many people made me feel guilty for crying and being angry and afraid. I wanted to share my experience so people realize that it’s okay to feel those sentiments; that most (if not all of us) have been there--but the important thing is to not get dragged down in despair. You have to dig deep within yourself and find purpose and determination to give your child every imaginable opportunity.

What kinds of things do you consider your best supports in writing this book and others?
My husband is the key support that allows me to even sit down and write. Being a full time teacher and mother, there would be no time in the world for me to pursue my dream as a writer unless my husband allowed me to do so. He has become the full-time cook and household cleaner just so I can write. And there are so many times when he’ll send me away for a night to a hotel so I can do nothing but write, eat, and sleep.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them?
I had made the decision to publish Uninterrupted Joy several years ago…but things held me back from doing so. The memoir is a very candid look into my personal life and my relationship with friends and family members. For a long time, part of me balked at sharing such intimate details. I began blogging over at Lady Scribes where I freely wrote about my fertility struggles and the joy in raising my son, so gradually, I began to feel more comfortable in sharing the part of my life that is represented in Uninterrupted Joy.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
Not to sound cliché (which means I’m about to be cliché), I look back at my journey to motherhood and marvel at my evolution as a woman. Before I was pregnant, I believe there was an element of naivete that went with my dreams of being a mother. I imagined it wouldn’t be hard. Silly, I know, right? But when the struggle to become pregnant is so hard, you can’t imagine anything being more difficult.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, and about people in general?
The memoir really forced me to look at myself and the person I was. It highlighted a great deal about my strengths, my weaknesses, and my relationship with others. It is hard to have to confront the reality that before my son, I was not nearly as good a person as I thought I was. That is probably one of the hardest things for me as a mother to a child with special needs.

What are you working on now?
My usual genre is historical romance set in the Regency time period. Believe it or not, I’m working on two full length novels both belonging to different series. I feel like it’s wrong of me to admit that! The first series I’m working on is The Broken Betrothal Series. Book 1; Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride will be released in February.

In addition to that series, I’m working on book 2 in my Brethren of the Lord Series which is kind of a Jane Austen meets Bourne Supremacy. Book 1, Mistress of Deception is complete and I’m nearly finished with Book 2…which is as of now, untitled!

What is one thing about yourself people would be surprised to learn?
Hmm…after writing Uninterrupted Joy, I kind of feel like I’m an open book! LOL Sorry for the poor, intended pun. Since the year I concluded my memoir, I underwent eight more rounds of fertility treatments and am now miraculously pregnant on my tenth and final IVF cycle. I’m having two little girls who have been giving me a whole lot of trouble already!

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
My dream job has always been being a mother. I’ve been so blessed to finally be a mother…that if I wasn’t a writer, there is nothing else in the world I would rather do than be home with my child and future children.

CHRISTI CALDWELL blames Judith McNaught's "Whitney, My Love!" for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her notes and pick up her laptop to try her hand at romance. She believes the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing them before crafting them a well deserved happily ever after!

Christi makes her home in southern Connecticut where she spends her time writing her own enchanting historical romances, teaching history, and being a full-time wife and mother!

You can find Christi at:
http://christicaldwell.weebly.com/
Twitter:  @ChristiCaldwell
https://www.facebook.com/christicaldwellauthor


COMING SOON!
Uninterrupted Joy
Memoir: My Journey through Infertility, Pregnancy, and Special Needs
-- January 2014


Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride 
-- February/March 2014



Links to buy Christi's current work:

A Season of Hope --Regency Christmas Novella



Winning a Lady’s Heart (A Danby novella) -- Available Now

Author's Note: This is a novella that was originally available in A Summons From The Castle (The Regency Christmas Summons Collection). It is being published as an individual novella.



Friday, November 29, 2013 | By: Cafe
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | By: Cafe

Happy Thanksgiving!

As Thanksgiving approaches, the many things I have to be thankful for have been on my mind.

I am thankful for my family and close friends, for traditions we share.  I am thankful for my home, for food and shelter, and I pray for our local families whose homes and lives have been devastated by the tornadoes that cut through Central Illinois on November 17th.  I am thankful for good health, and for employment when so many others are without.  I am thankful for the ability to use words to touch people's lives.

I am thankful for things too numerous to name, but those are a few of the important things.

Here are The Write Way Café, we are preparing for family get-together's this week, and wanted to share some of our traditions with you.  We invite you to share your family traditions with us, as well!

My family tradition is simply to gather with family for a mid-day meal. After our bellies are stuffed (and they will be!), if the weather is decent, many of us will venture outside and take a walk through the woods that surround my mother-in-law's house. We'll enjoy visiting with family members because as our kids grow up, it's harder and harder to get everyone together. We'll draw names for our Christmas gift exchange. But by far, the most popular tradition is guessing how many pieces of candy are in the three jars my brother-in-law always brings with him. Whoever is closest wins the jar. Let's just say, competition is fierce for those jars!

This Thanksgiving celebrate your family traditions but think about making an alternative to the green bean casserole found on many tables this time of year. Lynn's family enjoys this version of green beans.

Green Beans with Herb Dressing

6 green onions, chopped (I don't use these, but make this recipe your own)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
Adjust measurements to suit your  "crowd."

Place green beans in a steaming basket and steam over boiling water for 5 minutes, or to desired tenderness.

Meanwhile, mix together in a bowl, the ingredients to the herb dressing (everything but the beans).

Place steamed green beans in a serving dish and pour dressing mixture over, toss. Serve.

We are thankful for your support of The Write Way Café, and we wish you and yours a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013 | By: Cafe
You must discover what writing is for you. I have never thought writing was fun, but have always found the music of words utterly beguiling, as necessary to me as eating and breathing.
- Archer Mayor

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | By: Lynn

Embracing My Pantser Brain

Standing in the kitchen pouring my coffee one recent morning I realized I was more excited to get to work on my current WIP than to read on in the novel I was into. That moment of realization felt delightful. I'm a pantser and a writer with self-doubts. It is much more likely my inner editor would start my day reminding me I have nothing to bring to the page, and as a pantser who doesn't have an outline to consult, I might agree. That can put a damper on any possible excitement about my writing. With this new experience of anticipation, I asked myself, "Hmm…what's going on here?"

The happy truth was that I was more interested to explore the story of my hero and heroine than to read what was happening in Jim Butcher's Grave Peril, a book I was really enjoying. I was intrigued to discover how each of my characters was going to develop, what obstacles they would face, how they would survive the dangers in the story, and how they would come together in their developing relationship. I wanted to know those things, and the only way I would find out would be to sit down at my computer and write. This is how a pantser finds the answers to those kinds of unknowns. Reaching this point where interest was stronger than fear signified a milestone for me.

As a pantser and a writer with self-doubt, facing the blank page takes courage and faith that the story will unfold. As a pantser, I don't know everything about all the elements of story when I begin. That's where self-doubt can really get a grip. And that's why I've admired writers who outline, make storyboards, plot out an entire book, and know, well, to me it seems like when they write, they know everything I don't. They have a lot of structure to build from. My story reveals itself as I write. There is structure but it's loose and fluid. I do my homework, just as any writer does. That means I feed my inner pantser with thorough research and character bios. I brainstorm scene possibilities and write loose descriptions, then put them in one of three parts: beginning, middle, or end. Pretty simple structure and not a whole lot to go on day by day until the story has taken shape.

So, why not change? If writing as a pantser feeds fear, why don't I learn to become an outliner, a plotter? Rather than rely on the story to flow organically from the ethers, why not begin with a solid structure of concrete information?

The concept sounds great but it doesn't fit. That method is just not something that comes naturally. And according to award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin www.KathleenBaldwin.com, it would be counterproductive for me to attempt it, because whether a writer is a plotter or pantser is a result of how his or her brain is wired.

"God didn't make us one size fits all," said Baldwin, who has a background in psychology. In college, she participated in ground-breaking research on the science of creativity. "I have several close friends who are NYT/USA Today bestselling authors who I know for a fact are full-fledged pantsers. It's a matter of honing your craft so thoroughly that you can create dynamic, exciting plots subconsciously."

Baldwin's latest release, Diary of a Teenage Fairy Godmother, is out now, and her workshop titled The Secret Life of Pantsers has endeared her to many an author because it helped them celebrate their inner pantser, freeing their creativity. Baldwin said pantser vs. plotter is usually a matter of degrees, though some writers are heavily one or the other. But pantsers should ignore suggestions that in order to succeed at writing they need to do formal plotting.

"Everyone plots, it's just a matter of when," she said. "A pantser needs to plot on the fly so she can stay enthralled with her story. Her creative psyche requires a challenge in order to operate optimally. …A pantser must have the confidence to make mistakes as she hunts down her story. It's a great adventure for us. Wrong turns are simply part of the adventure."

Though I still think longingly of an in-depth outline as a wonderful tool for creative writing, I have embraced my pantser brain and take pleasure in learning as I go. I get all sparkly and invigorated when, as I soldier through, I discover I'm writing interesting stuff. So, regardless of the writing method – pantser or plotter, write straight through from beginning to end or edit as you go -- it's better to write with a method that suits you best. Seeking advice is a helpful means to improve skills every writer needs to tell a satisfying and well-crafted story. It's a way to gather information and see what fits. But ultimately, the surest way to write your best book is to understand your process and trust it.

So what are you? Pantser, plotter, something in between? What are your struggles? What are your joys?

This post was first posted in Savvy Authors.

 
Friday, November 15, 2013 | By: Cafe
Sometimes a man can meet his destiny of the road he took to avoid it.
- from The International

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | By: HiDee

Earning My Way

We recently attended the local racetrack awards banquet in support of my daughter and her 9th place finish this year in her dirt-track racing division. Prior to the banquet, some comments were made that really bothered me. Someone told me they didn’t feel like she "earned" 9th place because she didn’t win any races, didn’t even finish in the top ten in any races this year. She earned points by racing regularly (although not every week) and by finishing her races, which is more than some of the other drivers did. Does that make her any less deserving?

I know my daughter. She’s passionate about racing, and has been since she was a toddler. Racing is all she’s ever wanted to do. It’s different from the other activities she participated in over the years. In other activities, she wanted to do well but she wouldn’t give 110%. She wanted the glory without the guts. Racing has been different, to some degree. She’s worked hard to get where she’s at. Has she given 110%? I don’t know, but I do know she’s trying. She doesn’t always get it right, and she’s still learning. But she must be doing something right because people see potential in her and she is improving each year. Does that make her less deserving than someone who is more experienced and winning races?

That depends. She’s living her dream, which is more than a lot of people can say – myself included.

My dream has always been to be a published writer. I’m twice my daughter’s age and then some, and I’m not there yet. Some would say I only played at being a writer while raising my family. Maybe they’re right, and maybe not. It’s a matter of priorities. I’m a fiercely loving and supporting mother. My kids would tell you I’m overprotective, but hey, that’s who I am. I’ve spent years juggling their events. Writing took a backseat, but it was always there for me in one form or another.

Now that my youngest is a senior in high school, I soon won’t be able to use the excuse of school or sporting events to avoid writing (yes, sometimes I do avoid it). My priorities are shifting. Hubby would like to claim more of my time for us, and it’s important that I nurture that relationship. But I also need to nurture my dream, to push through the fear that has dogged me through the years: what if I become a successful writer and it changes me or it changes my life?

I’m participating by writing and editing, by taking workshops and studying my craft. I don’t always get it right, and I’m still learning. But I need to take a lesson from my daughter and put my passion for writing to work for me, because I’m not a published writer. . . yet. Does that mean I haven't "earned" the title of writer? I don't think so. I may not be living my dream but I am chasing it.

Saturday, November 9, 2013 | By: Cafe

Ribollita Soup

When the chill is in the air, warm soups soothe our body and our souls. Ribollita soup dates back to the Middle Ages with its origins in Tuscan. There are many recipes of this soup, but all of them include inexpensive vegetables, cannellini beans, and bread. When I make it I don’t add the full ½ head of cabbage or the full bunch of Kale; I add diced chicken and I prefer to dip my bread.

Ribollita Soup

Warm ½ cup olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 diced carrots, 2 diced celery stalks, 2 chopped potatoes, and 1 diced onion. Season with salt and cook, stirring, 7 minutes. Add 3 diced tomatoes, 1 bunch shredded Kale, and ½ head shredded savoy cabbage. Add 6 cups chicken broth and boil. Decrease heat, cover pot, and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Stir in 1 15.5 oz. can of cannellini beans. Brush slices of bread (can be stale or just some hearty bread) with olive oil and bake at 375 degrees until crisp (5 minutes), flipping once. Put 1 slice in each bowl and pour soup over.

Friday, November 8, 2013 | By: Cafe
Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.
- Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Melinda Dozier

Today, the Write Way Café welcomes Crimson Romance author Melinda Dozier.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I’ve read category romance books since I was a teenager. Ever since I was thirteen, romance writing has been in my blood. I have fond memories of sitting on my bed with my BFF from high school, writing sweet romance stories and sharing them with her. I even went as far as composing music and playing it to accompany my chapters (I was an avid piano player back then). Through the years, it stuck with me. As I sat on maternity leave with my youngest child several years ago, I decided that I could write as well as the authors I read. So, I gave it another shot. So glad I did! My first full romance was published last year!

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
For Breaking the Rules, the idea stirred in my mind for a few months. My characters started forming and they spoke to me in dreams. I sound crazy, right? So, I started to map out my ideas, creating my characters and the book just fell out of my fingertips. I’m usually a “pantster,” so planning just that little bit was a huge feat for me. Like most of my work, I send it off to critique partners. Since I live out of the country in a Spanish-speaking country, I found a great online critique group (www.critiquecircle.com) who supported me through this process. Finally, I submitted my work to one of my dream publishers, Crimson Romance, and voila!

Where did the idea for your story come from?
All of my stories stem from characters. In Breaking the Rules, Colin spoke to me through my actual brother-in-law. Like Colin, my BIL lost his wife in a tragedy a few years ago, leaving him lonely and a single father. I wondered how hard it would be to date again and to actually find romance when he least expected it. So, I created Colin – a sexy, single father widower who was too busy for love. Hope knocked him on the butt and opened his eyes anyway.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
Harbor Bay, Florida is a fictional beach town taking after St. Petersburg, Florida. I lived in the Tampa Bay area in 2007 and have fond memories there. Immediately, I knew that this book would be perfect in that atmosphere. I loved writing several beach scenes!

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Although I based Colin’s character on my brother-in-law, they really are nothing alike. When it comes to my heroine, Hope, I have to say that she is just like me! I am a hopeless klutz and I work in a middle school, though as a teacher, rather than an administrator. Hope is also a romantic with a huge bucket list that Colin helps her with. Shhh … No one knows, but many of her items on the list are the same as mine!

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, and about school administrators and doctors (what kind of doctor is Colin Calaway)?
Hope is extremely clumsy and has broken many bones. Luckily, I haven’t, so I had to research about fractures and hospital procedures. I also had to decide on Colin’s profession, and what better job than an orthopedic surgeon, one Hope would have to visit or see in a clinic.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Always the endings. I become attached to my characters and I never want to say goodbye.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
Reading is my first love, so I have so many favorites! My favorite authors are Jill Shalvis, Kristin Higgins and Shannon Stacey. I love their humor and way with words. I eat up every one of their books!

What are you working on now?
My latest novella was just released with Swoon Romance – Love and Other Games: Trouble with Gold. If you like winter Olympics and hot athletes, you should check it out.

I’m also finishing a novel with a working title of New York Minute. This is a hot, spicy romance about a very shy, introvert who is taken out of her shell by a sexy, Argentinean rocker. Stay tuned for more!

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
Definitely! I dipped my foot in New Adult and I really enjoy reading that “genre.” I am also joining another group project that is a bit historical (1940’s) and paranormal at the same time.

Thanks so much for having me today! I love to hear from readers. Find me on twitter at www.twitter.com/melindadozier or comment below: Tell me what is your favorite rule to break?





A forbidden love affair in the past has led Hope Robinson, a middle school principal, to Harbor Bay, Florida, where she commits herself to play by the rules. This can be difficult for a perpetual klutz, who—even strapped in a cast—has to uphold a competent attitude at all times.

Luckily, she has Dr. Colin Calaway on her side, a widower and father of a student, who is ready to give love another try. When Colin convinces Hope they should explore the connection between them, a steamy romance develops, though it could destroy them both. They must decide if their jobs—and their hearts—are worth the risk.

Links:
Crimson Website: http://www.crimsonromance.com/upcoming-releases-romance-ebook/breaking-the-rules/
Blog: http://melindadozier.blogspot.com
Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A_ow8MRw1M

AMAZON: http://goo.gl/o3Chm
B&N: http://goo.gl/m97R22
iTUNES: http://goo.gl/T94cX
KOBO: http://goo.gl/PtCZX

About Melinda:  Melinda Dozier lives in Guatemala, Central America, with her husband, three boys and German Shepherd.  She enjoys being the queen of her household and dreams of being pampered fully by her boys once they’re grown. Learn more about her at www.melindadozier.com.

Friday, November 1, 2013 | By: Cafe
When ideas come, you can use them or lose them; you can put them down on paper or risk letting them fly away. 
– Kevin Hall, author of “Aspire”
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | By: Lynn

Influential People

When I was in fifth grade, many years ago, my art teacher took me aside one day and told me she thought I had artistic talent. She wanted to talk to my parents about enrolling me in classes at the local art school. I don’t even remember her name, but that teacher influenced my life in ways she'll never know. She "saw" me and believed in me, and for that I saw myself in a kinder more positive light.

The list of people who have had an impact on my life is long. It includes people who helped me in positive ways and those who hurt me. Both helped me define myself and grow into the person I am today, a work in progress.

As a writer, I especially appreciate the influences that helped me become a better writer. An editor at a newspaper who gave me a chance when I had mainly passion, but not a lot of experience. Under his training, I learned valuable lessons about writing a good lede and the importance of writing concisely. My husband, who has never wavered from believing in my abilities, even when I didn't. Writers who have encouraged me to write through blocks and see possibilities in my latest WIP. And people who have helped me see blessings and opportunities in difficult people and circumstances. Even when I didn't know how important writing would be to me, influential people were helping me to discover who I was and how I wanted to express myself in the world. That's why my children are at the top of this list. They helped me open my heart and appreciate the marvel of love in a much bigger way.

But not all influential people have been walking, breathing individuals. Many good insights in my life have come from fictional characters. Thank you Kelly Armstrong, for instance, for writing women protagonists who had problems and "flaws" that needed self-understanding and room to blossom into useful qualities. And another thank you to Jim Butcher for writing really fun books about a wizard – 'nuff said – but also a character who saves the world over and over again and still suffers feelings of self-doubt and imperfection.

My list of influential people continues to grow, just as I do. And every day is an opportunity to be a positive influence in someone's life, whether we know it or not.

Who is one of your most influential people? What gift did they offer you?

 
Friday, October 25, 2013 | By: Cafe
No two persons ever read the same book. 
– Edmund Wilson
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 | By: HiDee

Seven Lessons from Nancy Drew

My kids and I used to spend hours playing the Nancy Drew computer games. The games were a great way to spend some quality time with my kids, and were educational as well. We learned about movie sets, theatre, the old west, Hawaii, the Mayan culture, and Paris, among other things. The fun method of learning also seemed to stick with the kids. A number of times they would point out something they saw on TV and remind me that they learned about it when we played Nancy Drew.

But the kids weren't the only ones learning. Here are seven things playing Nancy Drew games taught me about writing.

1. Talk to people. Ask questions - everybody has different interests and you never know when someone you talk to might share a tidbit of information that will intrigue you. Don't assume your neighbor Bill is an uninteresting person, just because you never see him doing anything but working in his yard. He might be an inventor who works in his yard to unwind.

2. Make phone calls. Don't be afraid to call someone who might be able to help you. For example, if you're interested in Mayan culture, don't be afraid to call a museum and ask for information or even a tour of their collection. You might be surprised what you learn!

3. Keep a notebook. Write down ideas, thoughts, quotes - even odd things that don't seem to make any sense at the time. Things written here may provide ideas for a new story, or even a quirk for one of your characters.

4. Check out your surroundings. Explore new places. Use your senses to become aware of your location. And if you're in a familiar place, look around. Take notice of little things that you never really paid attention to before. Pretend you're a curious kid and see what kind of mischief you can get into!

5. Call your friends. Good friends will be there to ask questions, offer suggestions and support. Check in with them often!

6. If you mess up, try again. Maybe a scene just isn't working, but you can't put your finger on why it's not working. Try rewriting the scene from another character's point of view. Learn from your mistakes and improve your writing. Be tenacious.

7. Never give up!

Parts of this post are excerpted from an article originally written for Romancing the Prairie, newsletter for Prairie Hearts RWA.


Saturday, October 19, 2013 | By: Lynn

Happy KDD, Nancy C. Weeks!

Congratulations to Nancy C. Weeks! Her book, In the Shadow of Greed, is a KDD today!

In celebration of this opportunity, Nancy is sharing a bit about why she wrote about cyber crime. Nancy, take it away!

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Nancy C. Weeks, and in writing In the Shadow of Greed, I dredged into the complex world of cyber crime. While I don’t feel I have a technical bone in my body, I have a great respect for those who do. My heroine, Dr. Sarah Tu, epitomizes the dedication the field of cyber security requires to protect information and systems from the growing threat of cyber terrorism, warfare and espionage.

Sarah’s character also represents the struggle all of us have balancing our professional lives with our personal lives. I wanted the readers to not only fall in love with her heart, but be in awe of her mind. I knew I wanted her to be as comfortable in her chosen field as she was breathing. But like most of us, I wanted her personal life to be completely out of control. I also wanted to throw her ordered professional life right smack into the middle of her personal life and see what would happen.

In order to do that, I needed an external conflict, an enemy.

To find my conflict, I began an extensive search in science magazines and news releases from F.B.I and the Department of Homeland Security websites, researching everything from the threat of robotics in international espionage to the code breaking threat of quantum computers. Then one day, my son, who was beginning his master’s degree in cyber security, told me about botnets. He said that they were one of the greatest threats to our national security today and the one thing we are ill-prepared to defend.

Of course, I had never heard of a botnet, but the word intrigued me. I crawled into my research cave and read everything I could find on botnets and malicious malware. I found my enemy.

What took me completely by surprise was that by developing Sarah’s character for In the Shadow of Greed, I discovered that I had been completely ignorant of an entire culture of people, who like Sarah, work tirelessly to make my world safe.

In Sarah’s line of work as one of the leading cyber security analysts in the world, she has dedicated her life to helping the United States government discover hidden messages, decrypt secret codes, help the military communicate in secret, provide anti-terrorism intelligence, and insure that the internal network of Noran Defense Systems is protected. Sarah would be very familiar with concepts like IT security, secure authentication methodologies, and encrypted network communications.

My heroine is a fictitious character and Noran Defense Systems doesn’t exist. However, there are brilliant computer scientists, cyber security and intelligence analysts, and engineers who dedicate their lives minding our fences, constantly monitoring our virtual perimeters, and holding back potential threats to our identities, to our data integrity, and to our national security. They may not fight on a soldier’s familiar battlefield, but left undefended, the battlefields they defend can ruin lives and hold the world's economy hostage.

So the next time you ask someone what she/he does with the government, and they say they work with computers, don’t roll your eyes because you think they have the most boring job on the planet. Thank them for to keeping you safe. In my mind, they are our new unsung heroes.

This post is reposted from the Crimson Romance editor's blog.
Now for a book blurb:

Brilliant cryptologist Dr. Sarah Tu races against time to block the most dangerous Internet malware ever created, a botnet called QUALNTO. While Sarah is closed off in her computer lab, her sister, Hanna, is brutally attacked and left in a coma. As Sarah reels with guilt over not being there for her sister, a web of deception closes in threatening her and everyone she loves.

Hanna’s condition is misleading. In her coma state, she is able to build a psychic bridge with FBI Special Agent Jason McNeil. Her cryptic messages plague Jason to keep Sarah safe.

Tough and street-smart Jason McNeil doesn’t believe in visions or telepathic messages, and he fights the voice inside his head. His first impression of Dr. Sarah Tu is another stiletto wearing ice-dragon on the war path―until he witnesses her façade crumble after seeing her sister’s bloody, tortured body. Jason’s protective instinct kicks in. He falls for Sarah―hard.

When an extremely dangerous arms dealer and cybercriminal discovers that Sarah blocked his botnet, he kidnaps Sarah. Placed in an impossible position, will she destroy the botnet to protect national security or release it to save the man she loves?

Find In the Shadow of Greed at http://amzn.to/H2kPpo.
Friday, October 18, 2013 | By: Cafe
Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it. 
– David Sedaris
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 | By: Lynn

Stop the Insanity of Negative Self Talk

You know what you want, it’s bringing it to life where you stumble and stutter. It happens to all of us. Whether trying to lose weight, get fit, or create and sustain the desired writing career, we all wonder why we can’t get what we want, sometimes or all the time. If you’re like most people, when you’re struggling with reaching your goals, you may try harder to whip yourself into shape. Unfortunately, if that involves negative self-talk, you may be undermining your progress.

Negative self-talk can seem like the logical thing to do. We procrastinated and didn’t get the number of words written that we planned. Cue negative self-talk: “I really wanted to get 1,000 words written tonight. I just can’t stay motivated. I’m so lazy, so easily distracted. Why can’t I focus?” With all that “feedback” coming at you, pretty soon your subconscious may decide striving to meet goals is just not worth the risk of the onslaught of self-inflicted hurtful words. Trying to fuel your goals with negative thoughts is like trying to make a cake with garbage. You won’t necessarily achieve the results you’re striving for if you’re focusing on your failings, or more appropriately, spinning your humanness into character flaws. The motivation you need to achieve your goals needs energy and enthusiasm. It’s fine to be realistic with yourself and require accountability. But supportive self-talk will more likely inspire you to face the empty pages and bring to life what you want.

Positive support, through ups and downs, is what your fellow romance writers and RWA chapter members can provide. I know I’ve been the lucky recipient of supportive and encouraging words from fellow writers. When I’ve felt discouraged, words like “You’re a good writer. Don’t give up,” have helped me process criticism and discouragement and get back to writing.

No matter what you encounter, there is always hope if you choose to find it. Encouraging words are more likely to inspire the hope you need, the energy to persevere, and the positive vibes you need to build on.

Where do you find positive input for reaching your goals?
Friday, October 11, 2013 | By: Cafe
If you cannot find happiness along the road, you will not find it at the end of the road. 
- Author Unknown
Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | By: HiDee

The Writing Life

Whether we write with an electronic device or the old fashioned way with pen and paper, “what if” is a staple of the writing life.

Asking “what if” fuels our ideas into full-blown plots, creating twists and turns that hopefully catch readers attentions and refuse to let them go. It leads us down winding paths of thought, inviting us to think outside the box and generate problems or solutions that we haven’t previously considered. Asking “what if’ is what makes our stories flow.

But at some point, the question becomes personal for most writers. And it doesn’t have the same effect as when we use it as a writing tool.

When “what if” becomes personal, the focus is on negativity. The word “if” often indicates restrictions, conditions, or excuses. Sometimes “if” is full of regrets. It takes hold of our brains and paralyzes us.

For some writers, it’s about the actual writing. What if I can’t pull this off? What if I publish and nobody likes it? What if I’m a one-book writer?

For others, it’s about the residual effects of writing. What if my family isn’t supportive of my writing? I’m not good at promoting myself, so how will I ever promote my writing? Or what if I am successful – then what happens?

Can you hear the fear, the uncertainty in those questions? There is enough negativity in the world without focusing on the fear. While it’s natural to have self-doubt, you can’t let it consume you, or you’ll never know what you might have been able to accomplish. You have to get a grip on the negative thoughts and use them to your advantage.

How? Let’s start with “what if” we turn those questions around and put a positive spin on them? Ask yourself: What if readers love my books? What if I’m hugely successful? What other opportunities might I discover? Can I make a difference for someone?

None of us are perfect. We all have room to learn and grow, and we have to find the balance that works for us.

Believe in yourself and your abilities. Be aware that “if” is smack-dab in the middle of  “life” and we all have to face it. So go on – ask “what if” – and change not only your character’s lives, but also your own.

Which "what if" is your worst fear, and how can you turn it into a positive thought? Please share.

Friday, October 4, 2013 | By: Cafe
A writer's job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as memories.
- John Irving
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 | By: Lynn

The Writing Life

A number of years ago I realized, decided, declared that I wanted to be a writer. Now, years later, I marvel at "being" a writer. My writing life has been interesting, painful, and fun.

Since writing my first clips as a volunteer for a non-profit group, I have been able to carve a career out of writing. I've written for local, regional, and nationally distributed publications about a range of topics. I've interviewed local firefighters and police officers, college presidents and politicians, scientists of international renown, as well as parents, animal lovers and boy scouts. I've had two romance novels published and a third is scheduled for release December 16. I'm excited about things I've been able to accomplish in my writing career. It's all been extremely fascinating. And at times terrifying.

The waiting to learn the outcome of all your hard work can drive a creative like me crazy. Self-doubt can be a hard rock in my stomach that points out I don't know what I'm doing. Less than happy reviews and rejections can feel very personal, like a global statement about my ability. But on the other hand, crafting an article or a scene that feels right is joyful. The writing has saved me over and over from despair, because the process of writing is both excruciating and life-saving. Though sometimes it's hard to sit down at my computer to write, I can always count on writing to be there, I just have to get over whatever is in my way.

Writing for me is more than a career. It's a life. As with probably all writers, elements of writing are always with me. Everywhere I am, writing is with me. It shapes how I see the world. It has been an initiation, of sorts, to a way of accessing inspiration and keen awareness. When watching a movie or television show, my notebook is always beside me, ready for me to scribble something interesting that pops into my senses. In public, I'm frequently a step back from what's happening around me as an observer of human interaction.

For me, the writing life presents a fascinating way to experience life. Writing is an expression of me. When I ride my bike, I take in all the sensations of the riding; my physical state, and the scents and sounds and temperatures on my skin. When I see a large spider in my kitchen sink and carry it out on a paper towel, I set it on the threshold of my back door, then, very in the moment, I tell it, "On my porch or in my backyard, but not in my sink." When a small, young cat wanders into my yard, nearly emaciated, I do what I can to feed it and get it into a home. All the emotions, all the ins and outs of my life get catalogued as not only my experience, but as information to draw on when writing.

The writing life can be exhilarating while gut-wrenching, joyful while scary, and it's one I am very grateful to live.




Friday, September 27, 2013 | By: Cafe
Be yourself.  Be true to that, to your heart.  Patience.  See what happens if you step back instead of bounding forward. 
– Nora Roberts
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 | By: HiDee

Support Is A Two-Way Street

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.
– Allen Saunders

Life has been more stressful than usual lately. I’ve got too many proverbial irons in the fire – some by choice and others not – but I’m doing my best to cope. My mind races with thoughts of who, what, when, where, why, and how the heck am I going to get it all done?

A popular modification of the serenity prayer comes to mind:  Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know where I should hide the bodies. 

Yes, I like that idea! Bury the bodies. That will take care of some of my problems. . . until I land in jail for murder. I would not make a good prisoner. Can you imagine how difficult I would be if I couldn’t have my daily dose of books and chocolate? PMS would pale in comparison.

We learned a long time ago that we don’t always get our way. But even as adults, it’s not easy to accept.

Being a member of the sandwich generation, I often find that my life is not my own. My youngest is a senior in high school, and definitely not the social butterfly his sister was four years ago. He is passionate about soccer, so we’re on the go to his varsity games several times a week. That will be over before any of us are ready, so I’m not really complaining. Mixed in for good measure, on both sides of the family we have aging and health-challenged parents who demand more of our time. It’s a rare day that we have to ourselves, and hubby and I usually have different ideas about how we want to spend that time, which results in more conflict. Throw in work upheavals, and I recently had the perfect recipe for feeling sorry for myself. 

Then a friend called under the pretense of inviting us to a backyard celebration for her son, who had just graduated from boot camp and would be leaving in three short days. I asked how she was doing and she hesitated a second too long. We talked for about fifteen minutes and she insisted she was fine so we said goodbye. But my friend needed me – I could feel it in my gut. I hopped in my van and drove to her house, only to find her sitting in the dark on her patio, wrapped in an old chenille robe, bawling her eyes out. She didn’t have to explain the pride and fear warring in her heart; I just knew. I wrapped her in my arms and cried with her. When she was spent, she simply said “I knew I could call you.” 

Those were powerful words, a boon to my feeling-sorry-for-myself soul. I was needed.

We all need a support system. Sometimes it’s just someone to vent to, someone who will listen and empathize without judging. Sometimes, we need someone to gently steer us in the direction we need to go. Other times, we need a swift kick to reboot our mindset. Surrounding ourselves with people who can fill these roles is important.

Writers, by necessity, have solitary spans of time. We talk to ourselves, answer ourselves, even argue with ourselves. But we still need the support of our family and friends to cover for us when we are deep into writing on a deadline. We need the support of other writers to help us work through stuck plotlines or stubborn characters who just refuse to cooperate. We rely on other writers to understand how we think, why we struggle, and to help us navigate the path to publication. And then we need the support of readers once we are published. 

But in the end, support – like life – is a two-way street. You have to give to receive. 

How have you been supportive of someone in your life?  How has someone helped you? Please share.
Friday, September 20, 2013 | By: Cafe
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.  No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
– Robert Frost
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Andrea Cooper


Today, the Write Way Café welcomes Crimson Romance author Andrea Cooper.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
     I’ve always had stories and characters running through my mind. As early as I can remember, I had kids ask me what we were going to play. I set the plot, characters, etc. However, I didn’t start writing novels until my late twenties. I wrote poetry from my teens until my mid-twenties. It was after reading a Christian historical romance, which to me was illogical, that I tossed the book across the room, frustrated. Then I decided to write a story I would like to read; and to give the characters and story ideas in my head a place to manifest.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
     I wrote this book and the second book, Son of Dragons, and third book, War of Darkness in this trilogy within months after watching the movie Underworld in the theaters. These three books are the fastest of anything I’ve written so far.
     My path getting this book published was a long one. I was not aggressive in sending it out to publishers. I would send out an inquiry once or twice a year—sometimes waiting another year before trying again.
     I didn’t do any extra research for this novel. Since this is a fantasy/paranormal world, I let my imagination have free rein. On my historical romance, I had pages of research and still had to look up a few things during the editing process.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
     The character, Brock, came after I watched the movie Underworld in the theater. The tone and combining of werewolves and vampires just got my imagination going. I thought, everyone knows what happens when a vampire bites a human (or in the case of the movie a werewolf), but what if the victim is Elvin? From the answer, Brock came to me. He repeated lines that are in the book over and over in my head while I was at work until I had to take a break and write down what he was saying—so he’d stop repeating and say something new.
     Shortly after this, the premise of the story came to me. Everything else in the story developed as I wrote it. I don’t outline (unless the characters and I are lost) since both of us hate it. Besides, either me or my characters will get us unstuck before the outline is done.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     I created the world of The Garnet Dagger as a fantasy story. I love history and fantasy novels, so it was the perfect way for me to combine the two. Although, I do like contemporary novels and love some Urban Fantasies (like Kim Harrison, Yasmine Galenorn, etc.), I am drawn to older time periods.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     My main characters are completely imaginary. They may have slivers of me, either the good parts or the parts I’d rather not admit. The few times I have tried to base a character on a real person in fragments, they take on a life of their own and no longer resemble the original blueprint.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
     This trilogy flowed out of me. The second book, Son of Dragons, I wrote in less than three months while working fulltime. At the time, my secret for not hitting blocks was only being able to write on my lunch and breaks while working, at home late at night, and on the weekends. My job took little mental capacity, since I’d done it for years, so I let my mind wander while I worked. Before long, I’d have a scene, dialogue, or character that would make me want to take a break early.
     Now, since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I have even less time. And my four-year-old and ten-month-old don’t understand the concept of a coffee break. So I write whenever I have time. If I do get stuck, I find something else to do that I do not enjoy. I dislike cleaning (but love a clean house) so by the time I’ve finished, the story is begging to take over.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
     Every time I write, I’m surprised. I know the beginning, basic idea, and the ending (ish), but the journey there is new. Whenever a character learns something, 98% of the time, I’m discovering it too as I write. To me, it’s one of the best parts of writing. After writing this trilogy, I was surprised that so many people have liked the characters and their story. So much so, that I’ve gotten lots of questions on when book two and three will come out. Although I have all the books written, I’m working on revisions and with beta readers now.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, and about the paranormal activity of vampires and witches?
     I learned that I need feedback from others (readers and other writers) to make my stories better. I revised The Garnet Dagger for years, but there came a point when I felt like I was going in circles and did not know how/what would make the story better. It wasn’t until I received the first edits back that I saw some of my weaknesses and some of my strengths. I learned through this process that I’m blind to my writing, but can find ways to improve another’s easily.
     Since Brock was an Elvin, instead of a human, before he was bitten by a vampire, I merged attributes of both. Vampires crave and live on blood, but to tweak this, I had Brock be sustained by the life essence of others. However, his touch is deadly—so he struggles with harming others and self-preservation, which also means the saving of his people. He has weaknesses, he has to drain others to survive, and he is susceptible to hypothermia (which is why Celeste had to wake him when he was unconscious in the snow).

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, because these were the first fantasy books I had ever read. Sad thing is, I didn’t read them until I was an adult and married to my husband now (who introduced me to the books). Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to read or watch anything that had magic, paranormal, or mythical elements or creatures. Not even Disney. Needless to say, those were the books that I craved. Only this year did I read one of Tolkien’s books and I have George R.R. Martin on my TBR list as well.
     The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop. I love her world and how she explains why men are the way they are.
     The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, I just love the intensity of the main characters and that they make mistakes, but somehow find a piece of Happily Ever After for now.
     The House of Night series by Kristen and PC Cast. Yes, I know it’s YA, but it’s addictive. I like that it doesn’t talk down to the reader, and always increases the stakes with each book.

What are you working on now?
     I am working on revisions to both the second and third books in The Garnet Dagger trilogy. A new book idea for a YA shifter (possibly a series) has taken over all the creative space in my head, so I’ll see where it takes me. It’ll be my first YA book, so I’ll see how it turns out. I also have several unfinished novels that I want to complete.


Everyone knows what happens when a vampire bites a human…but what if the victim is Elvin?

Forbidden to cross the Elvin barrier into human lands, Brock cannot sate his curiosity. Cursed by a vampyre bite that forces him to feed on the life-essence of others, he is unable to touch another without taking their life. Chained by prophesy, he must find a witch, pierce her heart, and draw her blood for his cure.

Celeste must escape the monks who have held her prisoner for years. Her magic has been kept dormant by her captors. An ancient powerful Warloc craves her powers. If he succeeds in devouring her magic, she and his world will die.

When Brock falls in love with Celeste before realizing her demise is his cure, will love triumph over his desire to be healed? Will he risk everything to save her from a Warloc, an oath breaker, who also wants her dead?

About Andrea:  Growing up in Houston, Texas, Andrea has always created characters and stories. But it wasn't until she was in her late twenties that she started writing novels.  What happened that ignited the writing flame in her fingers? Divorced, and disillusioned by love songs and stories. They exaggerate. She thought. Love and Romance are not like that in the real world. Then she met her husband and realized, yes love and romance are exactly like the songs and stories say. She is now a happy wife, and a mom to three kids (two boys and a girl).  Andrea writes paranormal and historical romance. When not writing or reading, one may find Andrea dancing in Zumba.  She believes in the power of change and counting each moment as a blessing. But most importantly, she believes in love.

The Garnet Dagger Book Trailer  http://youtu.be/ISi0u9LoseM
Viking Fire Book Trailer:  http://youtu.be/m1bPZ3nUyzs
Twitter: @AndreaRCooper
Author Website: www.AndreaRCooper.com

Buy Links:
The Garnet Dagger Amazon: http://goo.gl/rMEJ59
The Garnet Dagger B & N: http://goo.gl/Qp5i6A
The Garnet Dagger iTunes: http://goo.gl/s1Cugp
Viking Fire Amazon: http://goo.gl/71VAsf
Viking Fire B & N: http://goo.gl/EvBxwf
Viking Fire iTunes: http://goo.gl/fQuKBd

Friday, September 13, 2013 | By: Cafe
If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. 
– Jim Rohn
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | By: Lynn

Romantic Gestures Matter

Google "romantic gestures" and you'll find tips for using special efforts to infuse a relationship with romance. Parenting suggests 15 ways to show someone you care, and reminds that taking care to do so is important to keep the "spice" in a relationship.  AskMen offers a list of gestures that are sure-fire for getting into a woman's bed, and acknowledge that women take these gestures, or lack of them, seriously.

"Women notice everything – and I mean everything," writes Oliver Jameson, relationship correspondent for the AskMen site. "They are masters at detecting details and their meaning. So even the smallest gesture, when done earnestly and thoughtfully, will not only be appreciated, but can earn you serious bedtime points."

While romantic gestures typically are part of dating life, they shouldn't go away after marriage, even in a long-term marriage or relationship, or be directed only at women. Men are romantics, too. They want to be appreciated and acknowledged for being important in a woman's life. I get this on authority of several important men in my life, including my husband. And though the AskMen article, "Top 10 Small Gestures That Turn Women On," seems shallow and self-servicing, it hits home in suggesting that lovemaking is an important element in an intimate relationship. It helps people engage not just physically but emotionally, or at least offers that possibility. So why not keep the romance alive?

The occasional romantic gesture is nice, but regular and genuine expressions of love help build an abiding feel-good structure that can sustain us individually and as a couple. According to AskMen.com, romantic gestures have a life-span, so the feel-good of any given gesture will diminish.

"Even the most spectacular gesture will wear off, and there is not a single romantic gesture that will get you off the hook forever."

'Get you off the hook' seems like the wrong way to think of a romantic gesture, but it does remind me of my son while dating in high school. I asked him what he and his girlfriend were doing for Easter and he sighed heavily, referring to just having done something romantic for Valentine's Day, and asked, "Am I required to get a gift for Easter, too?" Kind of sad.

So inspiration for romantic gestures can be organic and very personal. I've told my husband repeatedly, 'Write me a poem and I'll love you forever.' Still waiting for that. Romantic gestures in movies and TV are often grand and might be classified as something that would promise life-time benefits.  A rich man surprises his love with jetting to Paris for dinner and dancing, for example. Who wouldn’t like that? Well, any woman who suspects shallowness or lack of investment in the gesture. Maybe we women are cynical, but I tend to think we want something real over showy.

I've thought about the importance of romantic gestures mainly because my husband is such a romantic and I tend not to be so much. Please, there's laundry and soccer and work and writing to focus on, so it's easy for me to get caught up in the mundane of life – there's plenty of it to take my energy and my thoughts. But even for me, life can get pretty dry without a nod to the value of a romantic moment. A moment when things stop and I stand there with my husband when he's brought home flowers for no other reason than he loves me, or he helps me capture tiny kittens to reunite with their mother for a trip to their new home. These things show me he has a tender and loving heart.

I'll never forget one of his most romantic gestures in our long relationship. It took thought and preparation and making himself vulnerable, all things that remain endearing to me today, many years later.

A little background: When my husband and I married, we joined two families that totaled five children. The children from each side were very young, from 7 down to 3. We dated but we were both very into our lives with our children. Our honeymoon was short. We dropped into a life that was very family-centered. But one night I came home from work to find a nice outfit and corsage lying on the bed. He had made reservations at a favorite restaurant. He told me, though we hadn't had the dating and excitement of a long engagement, he wanted to make sure we remember to make time for special moments for just us – sans kids and the mini-drama of uniting two families.

This gesture on his part stays in my heart, as much a part of my feelings for him as anything he's done since. 

What is your most romantic moment with a loved one? Have you seen any really super romantic gestures in a movie or TV show lately? Share??