Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | By: HiDee

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Do you live your life as you breathe?

A scholarship donor posed that question at a banquet I attended recently.  She pointed out that there are two parts to breathing: 1) Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can.  Inhaling takes in oxygen that is vital for our bodies.  2) Now let it out.  Exhaling releases carbon dioxide so it doesn't build up and become toxic to us.  You must do both to survive.  

As a borderline asthmatic, I don't take breathing for granted.  Paint, perfumes, smoke, and cats are among the things that can trigger an attack, so I try to avoid those things whenever possible.  It's not fun going through the motions of taking deep breaths when you can only manage to take in a little air.  I know I'm not alone, but most people breathe without thinking about it.  I know I do when I'm not having problems.  

But do you live your life without thinking about it?

Hopefully not. 

Breathe in.  Living is exploring, learning, and experiencing. Take in as much as you can, and be open to new experiences.

Breathe out.  Give back.  Share what you've learned with others.

I try to breathe deeply of the writing life. 

Networking is important.  I belong to several writing groups and subscribe to too many writing loops, but I get something from all of them so I'm reluctant to give them up.  I participate in my writing groups by serving as an officer and volunteering as contest coordinator.  I edit a newsletter and co-host The Write Way Café blog.  I support fellow authors by visiting their websites and blogs, and follow them on Facebook and Goodreads.  And of course, I buy their books!

Life is a full-circle experience.  Some say you get out of it what you put into it.  So breathe in:  What are you learning?  What are you doing with your life?  What do you strive for?  What are your goals?  What have you accomplished and what are you working on?  

Now breathe out:  What are you giving back?  Are you sharing what you've learned and trying to help others learn? Are you setting an example for others to strive to reach their goals?  Are you sharing your accomplishments and encouraging others to share theirs?  What can you give that others have given you? 

Breathe in, breathe out.  Take in all you can, and then give back so others can follow in your footsteps.

Tell me what you think:  Do you live your life as you breathe?

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Friday, April 26, 2013 | By: Cafe

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | By: Lynn

Why Do We Say That?

I love words. Seems obvious, since I'm writer. I love the sound of a well-crafted metaphor, the flow of a description that really resonates, the hit from reading a word that just fits.

One of my favorite thoughts about the love of words was spoken by Archer Mayor. The thought was given a title and printed in The Writer years ago. It speaks to the writer's love of words.
The Music of Language
"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 and as necessary to me as writing and breathing."

It was my interest in words that prompted me to pay attention to a recent discussion about idioms that aired on public radio. The expert source for the topic was Christine Ammer, author of The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. According to Ammer, an idiom is a set phrase of two or more words with a fixed meaning that is something different from the individual words. It was clear in the way she talked about idioms that she has a love of words and their power to express. People who love words wonder where certain expressions come from, when they originated, and how they acquired the meaning they're given. For example, why do we say Break a leg, when what we mean is to wish good luck? According to Ammer, this expression dates back to a superstitious belief in spirits or sprites, who were believed to create chaos. To break a leg was a suggestion to fight the spirits.

Ammer pointed out that there is often a kernel of truth in the idiom, especially at the time it was first created, and that gives it weight. The use of idioms dates back centuries, she said, and are an enduring part of the public conversation. They express things succinctly because we all understand their meanings, even if they don't seem to make sense. We all accept that blood is thicker than water, and understand the reference to the strength of family bonds.

Sometimes idioms express a commonly accepted belief or attempt to sum up something inexplicable. The phrase absence makes the heart grow fonder is one of those kind of idioms. The expression originated in 1602 as a line in the book, "Poetic Rhapsody" and it is a statement that tries to explain the complexities of relationship. At the crossroads, an idiom that expresses the state of being at a decision point, dates back to 600 BC, as does Don't bite the hand that feeds you. And we may think of the idiom chasing the American dream as a modern expression that means the quest for prosperity, but it dates back to 1835.

Ammer said that the armed services have provided a wealth of idioms, as have the Bible and works by Shakespeare, who gave us sea change, meaning a radical transformation, in "The Tempest" in 1610, and It's Greek to me in 1601 in "Julius Caesar." It is better to have one bird in the hand than two in the bush originated from a Biblical Proverb that referred to mediaeval falconry and suggested that a bird in the hand (the falcon) was a valuable asset and worth more than two in the bush (the prey).

But Ammer said not all idioms are old. In selecting idioms for her dictionary, she uses several guidelines, but in order to qualify as an idiom a phrase must have endured for a number of years and must be a part of regular conversation. So the relatively new phrase "to go viral" hasn't made it yet into her dictionary, though it may in future editions. Some idioms have expanded their meanings over time. For instance, a Trojan horse, a reference to the wooden horse the Greeks used to surreptitiously enter the city of Troy, is understood to mean something duplicitous, but now also refers to a type of computer virus.

Getting to know the background on the idioms we use every day without thinking because they fit the occasion is a fun way to enrich language skills. So the next time you don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth or you refer to yourself as an empty nester while trying to avoid the elephant in the room, think about the crazy thing you just said.

Do you have any favorite idioms? Share?

Friday, April 19, 2013 | By: Cafe
You can do anything if you have enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes rise to the stars.
- Henry Ford
Thursday, April 18, 2013 | By: Cafe

Crimson Romance Authors Heat Things Up!



Crimson Romance authors love their leading men and are willing to fight for them. In celebration of Lover’s Day on April 23, we’re kicking off the first-ever Hot Heroes Faceoff.
     
The event will run each Tuesday for the next six weeks, in which two hot heroes will square off for your votes. The winning hero on April 23 will advance to the next round. On June 4 we’ll crown the hot hero for the summer and throw in some prizes here and there along the way!

Our first two heroes squaring off are Jordon from Save My Soul by Elley Arden and Chago from Seal of Surrender by Traci Douglass.

Here’s a little background on their hotties:
     
Jordon Kemmons wears a Versace suit like it's nobody's business. As a successful baseball agent, he's a tough negotiator who's used to getting his way, but he has a soft spot for free-spirited women who love him flaws and all.

Chago has always been the quiet one amongst his warrior Scion brethren—the brooding, immortal, Spanish combat expert with a hidden soft side. Still, his greatest joy comes not from the battlefield, but from tending the cattle herd on his remote Montana ranch.

Jordon and Chago are currently undergoing intense training with their authors and virtual coaches. How’s it going so far? Here’s what are heroes have to say:

“Honestly, I’m a little miffed she signed me up for something like this during the season,” Jordon said. “I have free agents who want to play ball. But then she talked about having a book to sell, and as a business man and competitor, I couldn’t argue with that. So here I am, wearing her favorite suit and promising to smile on queue. I didn’t promise to shut my phone off, though.”

As a combat expert, Chago was born ready for competition. When pressed, he stated he’s much too busy with running his ranch and saving the world to spend time preparing to be ogled. Brooding by nature and confident in his ability to handle any competition, his only response fit for print was, “Bring it on.”
      
Who will you vote for on April 23? Join us at:

http://www.facebook.com/events/339897632780350/

Join the conversation on Twitter, get updates on how the heroes are training and pick a team. #HotHeroFaceoff

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 | By: HiDee

What Books Represent You and Your Life?


My father-in-law's belongings were on the verge of being tossed out, his wife apparently uncaring that his adult children might treasure some of those belongings, especially now that their father is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's. He doesn't remember his children, let alone the belongings. So we rescued a minivan full of items to be shared with the siblings. Old tools, tool boxes, equipment, photo albums, and books. Hubby kept repeating "Mike and Frank (American Pickers) would love this stuff!"

There was one box of books that my father-in-law had kept over the years. Mixed in among the Bibles (my father-in-law was a minister), reference books, and high school and college yearbooks was one smaller tome wrapped in brown paper. The paper had obviously been wet at some point, and was tinted with faded red blotches. The top, bottom and opening side edges were yellowed and worn with age. As I pulled the book from the box, I realized the brown paper was not just any brown paper—it was Bradley's Tonal Papers (33 Beautiful Colors for Designing posters, costumes, room interiors and all "industrial art" work. Also for Paper Folding and cutting in Kindergarten and primary grades. By Milton Bradley)—something I've never seen before. I thought it was kind of cool.

Musty odors assailed my senses as I opened the book.  Several inscriptions grace the first blank pages on the inside:  "Practical and so usefull"; Loaned to: H.L. and B.L. – it helped us, B.J. and L.J. – very good. I kept turning pages and discovered . . . SANE SEX LIFE AND SANE SEX LIVING, copyright 1919. Definitely not a book I was expecting to find in a minister's holdings! But I guess ministers advise their parishioners on anything and everything. I admit to absconding with the book and checking it out. Google revealed it was re-released in 2007 by BiblioBazaar as a "pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality." It's also available through Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13161/13161-h/13161-h.htm.

These books were my father-in-law's keepers. They were representative of his life, his beliefs, and his interests. They were obviously important to him, or he would not have dragged them through numerous moves, including a period of time when they sold their house and lived solely in a motor home, traveling the country. I wish I could ask him what importance some of those books held for him.

I could never sell my home and actually live in the confines of a motor home, even though I wouldn't mind traveling the country in one. But what if I could only keep one box of books to take wherever I went? That it would have to be a large box is a given, but what books would I choose to be representative of my life?

The Bible would definitely be in my box. Black Beauty, The Black Stallion series, and Seabiscuit. James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small.  My unpublished book of poetry (Somebody's Dreams), written when I was a teenager, along with the poetry anthologies in which a few of them were actually published.  A selection of books written by my favorite authors—stories of adventure and growth,  hope and love; stories of families, friends, and lovers.

What books would I find among your belongings? What books represent you and your life?

Friday, April 12, 2013 | By: Cafe

Nobody succeeds beyond his or her wildest expectations unless he or she begins with some wild expectations.
- Ralph Charell

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | By: Lynn

The Allure of Alluring

Romance writers have a handle on what is alluring. I mean, we write about romance, something that features the delicious pull of attraction, the sweep of allure. Readers read romances for a variety of reasons, but probably a common expectation is the experience of being swept up in intense sensations that are based in pleasure, something that is inherent in things that are alluring. They want to read writing that evokes the feeling of being awash in sensations.

Dictionary definitions of the word "allure" use phrases such as "attractive and fascinating; tempting, able to arouse strong desire, entice, having an often mysterious or magical power to attract; seductive, fascinating, charming." It's interesting that these descriptions are fairly specific, yet not all things that fit the word "alluring" hold sway for everyone.

For instance, for many readers and moviegoers, the allure of a certain vampire and werewolf seemed obvious. From their unique physical characteristics to their glowering and intense personalities, the characters oozed attraction.

But not for everyone.

What is alluring is not universal. What attracts is tied to gender and sexual preference, society's influence, geography, and our individual experiences. What is perceived as attractive changes with fashion, mores, and the times. For example, many years ago, women wore bustles to enhance their allure, but if a woman of today wore one, she would probably get the cold shoulder. And even fundamental attributes, like power and wealth and strength and beauty, shift in appeal. A man who owned 40 horses and a few hundred acres may have held appeal a hundred years ago or so, but today would not be alluring simply on the basis of his property ownership. Today, allure would more likely be found in his ability to communicate well and his kindness. Okay, and maybe his well-paying job and fast car would be alluring today, too.

Still, some things never seem to change. Some things, like the effects of human chemistry, underpin even the action of allure. According to an article written for Psychology Today by Susan Carnell, Ph. D., being pulled into the sensory-rich experience of allure lies in a chemical effect of dopamine. Carnell writes that while not everything is understood about the workings of dopamine, it is known that it releases when we encounter a pleasing experience, thereby reinforcing the allure of whatever it is we just enjoyed, be it chocolate or the clean scent of our favorite loved one.

"Interestingly, dopamine also makes an appearance when we see or hear cues telling us that something we previously found rewarding is within reach … Its effect is to give us a helpful neurochemical nudge to stop what we’re doing and chase after the delight-producing object.," she writes.

Fascinating. But all I have to say is, thank you dopamine for linking heady pleasure with things I find alluring.

Here's a list of things I think have allure:

An amazing but distinctive metaphor
A good romance novel
The scent of a loved one's clean skin
A genuine smile
Men's spicy cologne

What do you find alluring? Share?

Friday, April 5, 2013 | By: Cafe

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. 
– William Wordsworth
Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Samantha Anne

Today, the Write Way Café welcomes Crimson Romance author Samantha Anne.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I’ve been writing stories and songs for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had a tale to tell, and those tales were usually reserved for sleepovers and weekend hangouts with my friends! I’ve been working on a Sci-Fi recently, but romance has always sort of come naturally to me. In my twenties, I ‘considered’ it for a long time, with my friends urging me to give it a shot. One day, I finally decided to ask myself, “What are you waiting for?” I wrote my first book “In Ten Years’ Time” and self-published with the help of PublishAmerica in 2008; it became the unfortunate victim of bad editing and I’ve had to wait out the contract so that I can revise it and try a 2nd edition. I cut my losses, learned my lessons, and moved forward. ‘Kirby’ is the first book since the experience that left a bad taste in my mouth – I’m so glad I decided to give this ‘published author’ thing another try!

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
‘Kirby’ was never actually meant to be a book – it started out as a screenplay that I began writing in 2001 or 2002. I compiled an entire folder of notes, character sheets, and even a couple of scenes – it ended up in a pile at the bottom of this blue bin that I use to hold all of my ideas so that I won’t lose them. I came across So You Think You Can Write last year and made a split decision to enter, using ‘Kirby’ as the book I’d submit. Starting with the notes I’d left in the blue bin for a little more than a decade, I converted the unfinished screenplay into a 58,000 word book in twelve days. I didn’t make it into the second round, but that didn’t stop me. I did a couple of small revisions and queried Crimson Romance – the contract was signed by February!

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
I think there’s always a little ‘real life’ built into the characters we write. Rachel definitely holds a few of my traits, and even a couple of experiences as far as her journey goes. And as for Joe, he’s pretty much dipped in fantasy, although I may have modeled our hero after a certain uber-hot tv werewolf! ;)

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
Considering I was writing this monster in less than two weeks… absolutely. My brain would shut down every few hours (I was working 8-10 hours a day with a goal of a chapter a day). It was such a delicate process; if the music wasn’t right, or if my chair was uncomfortable, the struggle would be painful. I had two options when that happened: power through or fail. Failure wasn’t an option, so I’d get out of my chair and walk through the house while talking to myself about the direction of the book. I’d rationalize Rachel’s reactions and talk everything through (rather loudly, I might add!) until it made sense and I could write again.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
I had a bit of a personal revelation while the book was going through the editing process. My first editor suggested that I scale down one of the character’s reactions during an argument because it seemed degrading and borderline abusive. It took me by surprise because I was only writing the type of reaction I’d seen in the past; I realized at that moment that I’ve known some real jerks in my day!

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, publishing; about second jobs and alter egos?
Being able to finish this book in the short amount of time that I did was a total affirmation. You see writers like Dean Koontz, Danielle Steel or James Patterson and they’ve got a new book every three to six months; it blew my mind that they can crank out a story that fast! Finishing ‘Kirby’ let me know it’s possible when you’re in the right frame of mind and can fight to remain focused. My new goal has become to keep the successful marathon that became ‘Kirby’ from being a fluke. I want to have more work out there and I want to be immensely proud of it.

I learned a hell of a lot more about the publishing process, and that the right publisher will care about their authors and make sure it’s all done properly. There’s a process to everything, and this time around I enjoyed every second of it! The last book taught me patience and gave me a stronger sense of responsibility for the quality of my work; this book put the fun back into writing. Since November of last year, I’ve allowed myself to dream of writing and being published again.

Second jobs and alter egos? Been there, done that! (smile) Having an alter ego allows you to test the waters in life or in certain situations that the ‘real you’ would be too afraid to try. One’s alter ego allows them to makes moves without fear of failure, because the alter ego is strong enough to risk everything. Think about some of the world’s most popular performers: Beyonce (alter ego: Sasha Fierce) and Christina Aguilera (alter ego: X-Tina) for example – they tap into their alter egos to put on stellar performances, and often lean on who they become when they hit the stage to protect the person they really are while exploring a more aggressive side of themselves.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
My writing space, for the moment, is the head of my kitchen table. Just until I can get a proper writing desk to sit in front of my living room window (I’m having a harder time finding one than I thought I would!) The table is right near a window, and the sun comes in pretty bright. It calms me enough to focus; plus, it’s right near the coffee maker!

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
The revision process bothers me the most, but I think it’s that way for most writers. My main goal is to get it all out on paper; I hate going back and finding errors. Not only is it time-consuming, but finding one actually makes me feel foolish (smile)! I ask myself the same questions when I’m revising: Really Sam? How’d you miss that? Why that mistake?

Another part that gives me trouble is actually the deadlines. Sometimes (ok, most times) a story takes forever to get out, whether it’s because of time constraints due to the day job or lack of focus. That’s why I’m so amazed by and in love with Kirby. I know I can handle a deadline now; the challenge will be to make the magic happen again.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
I love fantasy. The word fantasy is such a broad term in this sense, because in general I just like to escape when I’m reading. Because of my mother and her Pern fetish (see what I did there?!), I like Anne McCaffrey’s work and similar mythical tales. And (please don’t hate me), but I liked the Twilight series…most of it. I was obsessed with Harry Potter for a long time, and after reading Casual Vacancy, Jo Rowling remains one of my very favorite writers. Then of course I love Jane Austen; I fell in love with her work only recently! I guess if the book has an element that takes me out of mine or at the very least makes me laugh, I will probably enjoy reading it.

What are you working on now?
I’ve got another romance in the works; it should be fun! I hope to finish it soon, because I’m excited about re-submitting to CR. And also, how great is it to write a book, dream up a hero, and mold him into the kind of man that makes you tingle? I’m currently searching for photos to tack up on my wall to swoon at while I get my creative juices flowing.

Speaking of photos, I have also been considering adding a feature to my blog; I’ve been doing something on my personal Facebook page for my friends that might be fun to transfer to my author blog. It was just a photo feature I call ‘Dear Trophy Boyfriend’ – it was just for kicks, and featured Kellan Lutz (you know, my boo). I guess I’ll just have to see how well it goes over and whether or not I want to ‘upgrade’ it a bit. If I do decide to make it happen, my blog will never be lacking eye candy again!

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/
To learn more about Samantha, visit her at www.samanthaannebooks.com.



Rachel Sirianni is a twenty-seven year old native New Yorker with dreams of becoming an editor for Equinox Publishing, one of the top imprints in the city. And it seems she’s finally gotten her foot in the door, until one wild morning turns her fast track into an uphill climb.

Unable to pay her bills, she takes an unlikely second job to make ends meet and finds herself struggling to maintain two lives – her own, and that of her alter ego. Kirby is a sassy, imaginative, and extroverted fireball whom Rachel had no idea was lying dormant inside of her.

Enter Joe, a larger-than-life, brutally hot writer with a heart of gold. Rachel can’t seem to control herself around him, despite the fact that she’s sworn off men until she can get her career back on track. Their backgrounds and interests very nearly run parallel, and the Universe seems to keep pulling the pair together – in every aspect of Rachel’s life. What happens when two worlds collide, particularly where it concerns Joe? The ride of her life may just lead to love – or it could lead back to the drawing board.

Kirby is available at:
www.itunes.com
www.amazon.com
www.books.google.com
www.samanthaannebooks.com