Eclipse

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Well I got to see it! Not full, didn’t want to brave the traffic for Charleston or Columbia, so we headed to Asheville. Beautiful view and no traffic. We did come up a day early to escape what traffic might be in the way on Monday.  We didn’t have a high tech camera but the view through the glasses was spectacular

It’s just the two of us here in the incredible home of friends who are out of town this weekend. It’s like a mini-honeymoon for us. We did come near here for our honeymoon 38 years ago.

Had a pretty good dinner at Asianna a Chinese buffet. We don’t usually do buffets as we can’t do them justice, but this time we indulged ourselves, then came back and sat on the deck watching the sun go down with a glass of wine.

    

Today we lazed around waiting and watching the clouds roll in. We did get to see quite a bit, but there were a lot of the white fluffy clouds cutting off our view off and on. The temperature dropped a bit (to a very nice degree) and the light got very eerie. The bugs came out as though it was dusk, so I got a lot of mosquito bites but stayed out anyway.

It wasn’t really quiet here, we could hear cheering and horns honking but everyone seemed to be in a good mood.

We’ll stay here again tonight and go by Bat’s Cave tomorrow on the way home. That’s where we actually stayed on our honeymoon, in a log cabin, and we’d like to see it again.

All in all a very nice mini-vacation. Many thanks to T&K for the use of their home!

 

P.S. Don’t forget Small Changes comes out August 31!  

Cousin’s Reunion 2017

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34th year! Hard to believe we’ve kept it going so long. The attendance varies but we have a super time. 

We were disappointed that Carolyn and Ron Steele were unable to make it this year. She’s also an author, so I was especially anxious to meet her. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for next year! Please check Carolyn out here. Also hoping for Robert and Barbara, and Mada and Lawrence next year. Without David, Robert and Ron not a lot of “Steeles” there.

Having Carolyn would have been three authors attending! Carolyn, my sister who writes as PK Corey and me – What can I say, a talented family. 

Not too many of the next generation there this year. They’re all busy with young families and full time jobs, while so many of us are retired or have accumulated extra vacation over the years. Just so they know they’re always welcome! 

 

 

 

 

Wanted to share a picture of where it all started – this is Grandmother and Granddaddy’s 50th anniversary celebration.

See you all next year!

RWA 2017

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I’m home and happily exhausted. The 10.5 hour drive each way took a toll, but look at all the books I brought back. I see contests in the near future.  

Had a wonderful time and mostly stayed inside due to the heat – but it was July in Florida. Plus with so many incredible presentations to attend no time to go out. My only problem was in deciding which of the presentations to see.

Wednesday through Saturday was full. Just some of the sessions I attended included Mark Dawson on Savvy Marketing, Kristen Painter and Roxanne St. Clarie on Self-Publishing in an Ever Changing Market. The PAN Keynote was Faith Salie on the Approval Junkie, a panel on the secrets of self-publishing, and a high energy session on Burnout Prevention with Emily Foster and Amelia Nagoski.

The Golden Hearts luncheon was separated from the Ritas this year which I found to be very enjoyable. A full list of the winners is here – Golden Hearts and Ritas.

Linnea Sinclair, Cindy Holbby and Stacey Kade led Boldly Going: Writing Science Fiction Romance. Got to attend Writing Great Sex Scenes with Patience Bloom, Flo Nicoll and Kathleen Scheibling, but missed Cattle Ranching for Dummies, Unsucky Blurb Writing (need this one!), Indiana Jones in the Ballroom, and How a Lady Does it: Sex in Historical Romance.  Need to clone myself for the next conference.

There was a lovely party given by Soul Mate Publishing for their authors – and one of the best meals I had the whole conference in addition to meeting so many new (to me) authors.  

Also got to see so many authors I admire and follow. Fangirled on Suzanne Brockman and Virginia Kantra. Got to talk a little with Heather Graham – told her that I’d been compared to her on a review of Wraith’s Heart and thanked her for the boost in sales. Saw Katharine Ashe, Samantha Chase, Elizabeth Langston, Sabrina Jefferies, Cyn Haydn, my incredible editor from Soul Mate Publishing, Char Chaffin, and of course roomed with Nancy Lee Badger. 

Beverly Jenkins won the Nora Robert Lifetime Achievement Award and gave the greatest speech.

Lots of  Hearts of the Carolina were there as well – Kate Parker, Davida Samenski, Laurel McMacken, Jennifer Delamere. There weren’t enough hours in the day.

Attended the Leadership Breakfast with Nancy on Saturday and learned a lot more than I had even considered about what RWA does behind the scenes for authors and chapters. Gave me a new appreciation of the work of the organization.

If you haven’t been to a conference yet, put it on your schedule – Denver in 2018. If possible, it’s an incredible experience.

              

 

 

Decorating

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I’m creative in my own way. I mean I am a multi-published author. But then I go see the homes of young women in my family and I get jealous.  

Turns out, I have no decorating gene.

Went to see my niece’s new home this week – she’s been in it less than two months and it’s completely decorated with pictures on the wall and beautiful touches everywhere. 

I cannot say the same for my place. The gene just passed me by.

Visited La Daughter’s new apartment a few weeks ago and had the same feeling. Why don’t I know about these beautiful little touches?

La Daughter-in-law even has a Etsy site where she makes these lovely little touches that add so much. Check it out here – HoneycuttCo

Okay, none of these women write books but dang where they would sit to write them look so good! Not showing you my office, no way. Six months here and pictures still sitting against the wall in some areas rather than being hung. And while I decluttered to a fantastic level, there’s still more I could get rid of . . . Sigh

Oh well, they can come here and decorate for me any time!

At least I have this…

 

Visiting Dallas

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It was an iffy start to any trip–first sat on the runway in Greensboro for over an hour due to electrical problems, and after it was repaired had to go back to the gate to finish the paperwork (really!), so arrived in Atlanta about 18 minutes before the connection was supposed to take off. Ran to the gate to find that flight was also delayed due to weather in Dallas, so they hadn’t started boarding. And despite Scary News, everyone was patient, cordial and helpful. A stranger on the plane looked up what gate I needed to run to in Atlanta and let me know I might make it since it was delayed as well.

Should mention the hotel, not the best I’ve stayed in but not the worse. A known chain and the people were very nice. The free breakfast was one of the best I’ve ever had. But there was that mouse in our room . . . They moved us immediately to a much larger room, but the bathroom was half the size and there was no shower curtain. I’m sure the person at the desk was so unnerved by the mouse (I know I was) that he forgot to report the shower curtain. Hope we didn’t make too much of a mess.

But the good stuff was excellent. Had beautiful yellow roses for Texas waiting for me. Got to see La Daughter and her partner and their new apartment. It was so nice!  Much better than mine at their age and the neighborhood was charming – walkable to pubs and stores and still a neighborhood feeling. (Bette, recognize the table? And the mirror is hanging on the wall to the side.) A little name dropping here, but we got to meet and visit with James Hime, Edgar Award Finalist and author of Where Armadillos Go To Die among others, and his lovely wife. They are the parents of La Daughter’s partner so even more in common with them than I would have guessed. 

Dallas has some incredible restaurants and I feel like I tried them all. I’m not the kind of person who thinks to take a picture of their meal (and wouldn’t have embarrassed La Daughter in front of his parents in any case) so I have no pics of the meals, but trust me they were incredible. Had grilled scallops over corn risoto at Season 52, garlic shrimp at Javier’s, and then Sushi Zushi as a few examples.

I’d never been to Dallas before but the one place I wanted to see was Dealey Plaza. I was 10 when the world turned upside down there. We walked it and saw the book depository that even though I’d never seen personally, was so familiar to me. I was very surprised by the emotion the site brought up. I would have thought that was long in the past but it was more present for me that I could have guessed.  

Have a lot of traveling ahead of me this fall with RWA Nationals, Moonlight and Magnolia’s conference, a beach trip with the grandson and this was a great start. Even got in some writing (yes!), so it was a great kick-off to summer.

All in all have to give the visit a 9.7+. It was wonderful seeing where La Daughter lives and of course getting to meet such wonderful people. We’ll be back.

Meet Natasha Polak

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Please welcome Natasha, a brand new author from Rebel Ink! You’re welcome to ask her questions and connect through the comments!

  • You are going to be new to many of my readers. Tell us about yourself.

When I’m not writing, I love sharing in experiences with my family and friends, hosting get-togethers or traveling with them, and going to events. In my quiet time, I always love reading a good book, conducting genealogy research, trying new recipes, playing guitar, gaming, browsing Pinterest, and listening to music. I love singing in the car, and you’ll find me listening to my favorite artist – Sir Paul McCartney!

  • Tell us about the book that’s just come out. 

Elaina Ellis would do anything to protect her family – even if it means keeping secrets from them.

Elaina has always been a dutiful daughter. When her father suddenly dies in the summer of 1905, she begrudgingly leaves the safety of her life in Philadelphia to return to her hometown. Once there, Elaina encounters the very man responsible for her leaving her home to begin with, as well as a newcomer she distrusts—a man who seems determined to stand in the way of her future.

When the newcomer turns out to be yet another man in town Elaina feels she must answer to, she’s all too glad to leave him, and everyone else in her small, narrow-minded town, and return to Philadelphia, where she feels she belongs. Convinced that no man should dictate the course of her life, she expects to find solace from her grief and pain in the big city, but is sorely disappointed when everything starts to fall apart.

Will the secrets she harbors be her undoing? Will she ever truly find a place she can call home?

  • What started your love of writing?

Honestly, fiction writing started as a means of entertaining myself during an extended trip overseas with my family when I was 8 years old. With nothing else to do, I would dream up alternate endings to my favorite television shows. So many times, I would think about what the characters were up against, and how they could have done things differently, and create new storylines accordingly. I did love books at an early age, and if anything, I’d considered myself a poet or a lyricist back then. I was 12 when I began aspiring to become a writer by profession, which was also actually when I first got the inspiration for The Ellises!

  • Do you write in more than one genre – tell us a little about each one and the book you’re working on in each.

Fiction as a whole of interest to me; however, the older I get the more important I find inspirational fiction to be, which is why A Place to Call Home is just that, and I could think of no better way than to have it be my debut novel. Writing historical fiction is also a first for me, but it is something I enjoy as a reader and as a genealogy fanatic. I do have other storylines from contemporary inspirational fiction, and Christian Chick Lit in mind as well.

  • Have you attended any writing conference or classes. Tell us about some that and some that have been especially helpful.

I haven’t, but plan to in the future! When I was a senior in high school, I enrolled in a freelance writing certification program on the side, which is how I got my career off the ground and landed two completely different writing gigs that have helped shape what I do most – I wrote (non-fiction) website content and had my first article published in a Christian magazine.

  • Are you a member of any writing groups?

No, but I plan to be!

  • How attached do you get to your characters? Do you know what happens after the book ends?

I see elements of my characters in myself or others in my life, so I frequently am thinking of how my characters would think or act to a given situation I experience, which leads to thinking up new ideas. I have to get into “character mode” and when I do, I envision myself as each of the characters in some way. Usually I know what happens after the book ends, but it sometimes can take a little while for me to envision it. When I do, it’s the lead-in for the next storyline.

  • Describe your perfect writing day.

The perfect writing day to me is when I can be in a scenic setting overlooking woods or water, where I have uninterrupted time to write as soon as I wake up and have the most energy to be creative. Having free access to food and drink as the mood strikes is essential, because writing sure makes me hungry and thirsty!

  • Could you tell us the one question you wish people would ask about your writing and don’t forget the answer.

Where do your inspirations come from?

 

NATASHA L. POLAK (nee Kohlhoff) writes and copy-edits non-fiction articles as well as Inspirational fiction, Inspirational Historical fiction and Christian Chick Lit novels, and is the founder of The Barbie Girls Project.

Her earliest writings were poems that appeared in school publications and local newspapers. Since then, she has successfully written and edited for a variety of websites, newsletters, and in-print magazines for over 20 years.

In addition to her debut fiction novel, The Ellises Book 1:A Place to Call Home, she has also authored the e-book “10 Toxic Ingredients That Should Never Touch Your Face” for Trevida.com in 2016, self-published a devotional “Love, God” in 2009, and was a contributing writer with “The Wise Guides: The Fan Navigator to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway” in 2008.

Originally from Boston, MA, Natasha spent her childhood in Manchester, NH, but has resided in Indianapolis, IN since her teens. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have one daughter and a cat whom they refer to as their second child.

Contact her at Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram

Girls Again

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I know you’ve seen these ladies before – it was Roommate week for catching up. These are the strong women that helped raise me and have been there for me for more than forty years. College roommates, we’ve stayed together, raised our families together and still love each other. It’s kinda nice. 

The week was low key, just visiting and reconnecting in person rather than electronically. Since I’m now settled in my new place most of the activities were here and surrounding eating, but it’s a treat. We did go see Wonder Woman and we all loved it – strong women are what we’re about and a woman director finally got a super hero movie right! There was some shopping but not as much as you’d think. We’d planned to sit by the pool one day but it turned cold, so we stayed in and watched other movies, like Wild Oats and shared grandkid pictures. As college kids that activity never occurred to us.

We toasted our daughters at dinner last night – all have turned into strong women as well, with different adventures than ours, but strengthening as well and all have turned into lovely young women we can admire and learn from ourselves. The good thing is, they also know each other and are in touch – maybe not as much as we are, but they know they’re out there if needed and are family as well.

Okay, back to editing and writing, but with renewed strength and grounding and maybe even a little inspiration. Thanks, girls . . .