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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Year in Reflection

It's hard ot believe that we're coming to the end of another year. Where the heck did 2015 go? 

It's at times like these that I like to reflect on what happened in 2015 and see if there are any lessons I could take into 2016 and beyond. So, without further ado, here's what I learned in 2015:

1) Work smarter, not necessarily harder. Writing, unlike many professions, doesn't give an hourly wage. If there are two ways to do something, and one way takes twice as long, it makes sense to do it the shorter way. I know this sounds like a no brainer, but sometimes we do things the hard way just because we're familiar with them, or because we don't want to give up control of the process. Sometimes learning a new technique or passing a project off onto someone else can be the difference between keeping your sanity and losing it.

2) Collaboration is good, except when it isn't. There are two sides to every coin. Tackling a writing project with others can be fun and creatively stimulating. Sharing the promotional burden often brings in new readers, too. Working with others can also be frustrating, however. You need to compromise and adjust to other people's work habbits. This can and often does take you out of your comfort zone. If not managed properly, drama and hurt feelings can result.

3) It isn't always about the money. Okay, I'll admit that I like getting paid for my writing. I mean, who doesn't? That being said, sometimes taking on a less lucrative project because you find it more creatively stimulating can keep you energized. You may also learn new things that will help you down the road.

4) The internet is a powerful tool. Sometimes it's too powerful. Writing is a lonely process, and often we turn to the internet to find comraderie with other writers and readers who understand us. We also use the internet to research facts for our stories and learn industry news. While all of these things are great, they can also be damaging. Hours can be wasted falling down internet rabbit holes and getting caught up in the drama of others. The more we learn about other peoples' opportunities and milestones, the more likely we are to compare ourselves to others and fall short. All of this drains our mental energy and takes us away from the most important thing - writing books. Which brings me to my last lesson.

5) Balance is key. After months of suffering from depression and aches and pains, I decided to start going to the gym. I can't even begin to say how much this has helped me both physically and mentally. Spending time away from the computer has increased my output, if you can believe it. The adrenaline generated while at the gym carries over to my creative side, resulting in less writer's block and less difficulty with decision making. While I am still trying to perfect my writing schedule, I know that these small tweaks are helping me create a more balanced lifestyle that will keep mewriting in the years and decades to come.

So what new things are in store for 2016? Well, I've started out by offering two free reads to anyone who signs up for my newsletter! (Psst - you can sign up here.) I'm also going to release the next two books in the Black Towers series in January and March. I'll also be releasing a brand new X-Files-type paranormal series, which you can read about here, and much, much more. A lot of it I can'tmention quite yet, unfortunately, but if you sign up for my newsletter, you'll find out about my secret projects as soon as I'm able to spill the beans. ;)

Tell me, what was the big lesson you learned in 2015? I'd love to hear from you!

Suzanne Rock, Author
A lifetime New Englander, Suzanne married her college sweetheart and has been with him for over twenty years. Every summer she drags her husband and two daughters to Maine on a quest for the perfect lobster dinner. Every fall she can be found down in Foxboro, Massachusetts cheering on her favorite football team. In between those trips, she’s a chauffeur, a maid, a chef, an event planner, a hairdresser, a wardrobe stylist, a tutor and a sometimes masseuse. To keep her sanity, she often drinks copious amounts of coffee and stares at the blank screen of her laptop, dreaming of great adventures. Sometimes she even writes them down for others to enjoy.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year's Origins and Resolutions #RB4U #MFRWauthor #RomFantasy

New Year’s Resolutions have become a tradition with many people, worldwide. Like all traditions, it began somewhere though, so I decided to go looking for the origin of this custom and discovered some fun stuff!! Including the fact that this particular custom is a LOT older than I realized, it began at least four millennia ago!

In our modern day most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st, New Year’s Eve, the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and the celebrations continue into the early hours of January 1st, New Year’s Day. The most common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

Early New Year’s Celebrations:

The earliest recorded festivities in honour of a new year’s arrival date back 4,000 years, to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of the new year. They marked the occasion with a huge religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.


Did you know this fact I just ran across? In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. when he introduced his new Julian calendar.

Throughout the ages, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. Meanwhile, the first day of the Chinese new year occurs with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Back to January 1st, and how it’s become NEW YEAR’S DAY:

The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days, with each new year beginning at the vernal equinox. According to tradition, it was created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the eighth century B.C. A later king, Numa Pompilius, is credited with adding the months of Januarius and Februarius. Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today.

As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1st as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches and attending raucous parties. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1st as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25th (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25th (the Feast of the Annunciation); Pope Gregory XIII re-established January 1st as New Year’s Day in 1582.

NEW YEAR’S Traditions:

In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31st—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1st. Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, round out the feast in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere. In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)

In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 700-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds. Various towns and cities across America have developed their own versions of the Times Square ritual, organizing public drops of items ranging from pickles (Dillsburg, Pennsylvania) to possums (Tallapoosa, Georgia) at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

So there you have it – how it all began… Happy New Year to everyone, and may the coming year bless you with health, happiness, peace and love!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Years Resolutions by Janice Seagraves

I don't make New Years Resolutions anymore, but I do make goals for the coming year.

This year my goal is to self-publish two books: The first book is the sequel to my first published book-Windswept Shores: the Journey Home, and the second book will be Matrix Crystal River which will follow my series Matrix Crystal Hunters.

I hope to have at lest one of my contracted books published in 2016 in my Alien Heart Series.

Last year (2015), I had a list up where I could see it everyday that had all my goals for the year. I accomplished most of the goals, but not all. But it was a busy year for me. My daughter got married, hubby and I bought a home, we moved (my back still hurts thinking about the MOVE). Then my daughter had a baby, and my husband and I became first time grandparents. *grin*

This year I'll have to remake my list and place it once again where I can see it everyday. This helps me to stay on tract with my goals.

What are your goals or resolutions for the New Year?

Janice Seagraves's books:

Matrix Crystal Hunters:
Matrix Crystal Christmas:
Windswept Shores:

Janice Seagraves's Anthologies:

Weather Witch:

Werecat Love:

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Special Time of Year - Filled With Love and Blessings

I always struggle for ways to express how special and magical the season around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years is to me. Intertwined with the holidays are several family birthdays, which combine to make the time both too hectic to enjoy and impossible not to cherish. It's a constant struggle to remind myself to stop and embrace the hope beyond the hurry, the love behind the giving and give the season its due.
Nestled between Thanksgiving and New Years, Christmas represents both death and a bright new life. It is the death of heated days, the expiration of the growing season, a burrowing in of all that cannot function within Winter's frigid grasp. But its frosty embrace ushers in a new kind of warmth. It enforces a new closeness, a fresh reason to snuggle together and contemplate our blessings before a roaring fire or under a snuggly blanket. It's the season of love and hope because, though it comes at the end of one year, teetering on the edge of a brand new one, Christmas represents the glitter and beauty of giving and sharing...a time when peace on earth and goodwill toward men is more than a carelessly uttered cliche. It's a fond hope, a heartfelt wish, and despite our ongoing challenges, it's the goal we just can't resist reaching for...year after year.
I hope this Holiday season is everything you could wish for, filled with the only things that matter: family, friends, health and comfort. Enjoy the good will infused in the season and, if you can, take the time to appreciate the richness of your blessings.
Happy Holidays, Everybody!

Based in the Bedeviled & Beyond world, this fun collection of Christmas short stories will put a smile on your face and turn every day into a Hell-i-day!

#1.  Astra Takes out the Grinch: Astra’s been conscripted to deal with a hairy, green demon who’s stealing presents and creating havoc. The Big Guy has grown increasingly tired of the Grinch’s antics and, this Christmas, has called out the big guns.

#2.  Astra gets a Lump of Coal – Thumps an Elf: Astra is forced to spend Christmas in Satan’s backyard, helping the angels figure out how the green dragons are escaping Hell to terrorize the human realm on Earth. But in true Astra form, she figures out much more than that!

#3.  The Year the Grinch Stole Santa: Astra is determined to take Christmas off so she’s been ignoring the nearly constant calls from the North Pole to help them find Santa, who’s disappeared just days before Christmas. But Astra learns the hard way that Santa’s minions will not be ignored!

#4.  An Elvish Catastrophe: Astra and Darma are Christmas shopping at the mall when a pack of ninja elves invade the place and demand the execution of all faux Santas. Talk about little man syndrome…these ninjas have it in spades!

Barnes & Noble:

Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

If you haven't already connected, Sam would love it if you Liked/Followed her wherever you enjoy hanging out online. Here are her online haunts:

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Thursday, December 24, 2015


The theme for December is “Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.” I have many things I could add to this. However, it’s Christmas Eve, a magical time for me, and I hope for you.

I know most of you are extremely busy with last-minute shopping or parties, or family gatherings. Savor your time with family and friends. Hug them, tell them you appreciate them. The same for the furry members of your family. Hug your cats and dogs. I’ve lost two loved ones this year, and I’m learning to focus on what’s really important in life—the people and fur babies who mean so much.

Take time for yourself. Relax, put your feet up, preferably before a sizzling fire. Have some hot chocolate, a glass of wine, a hot toddy, whatever is your drink of choice. While you’re relaxing, read a romance to put you in a happy mood. I have several Christmas romances I think you’ll enjoy. And for delicious fun, there’s Entice Me Luscious Love Stories, the anthology I’m privileged to be part of with the talented authors of RB4U.



Monday, December 21, 2015

3 Things I Wish For You, by #RB4U Blogger @ReneeVincent

With Christmas just a few days away, we're reminded to reflect on our lives and the path we took to get to where we are. Are we satisfied with the way things turned out? Could we have done better? Are there things we should not have overlooked or blatantly ignored? Things we shouldn't have said in haste? Or done because we were to busy with our own lives to recognize a cry for help?

Each night, I find myself gazing at my Christmas tree, and I fall mesmerized by it's twinkling beauty. It's then that I contemplate what the special holiday season of Christmas is all about. 

It's about family and friends, and those precious moments we hold dear. I think of all the wonderful memories we made as a family. The vacations we took, the horseback riding trips we went on, and the beautiful laughter and conversations we shared in the saddle, around the fire, or gathered at the dinner table. 

I think about the fun we had with friends, the hugs we exchanged in support of each other, and the warmth of their valued company in the years past.

I also think about the people I've touched throughout the year. The times I made a difference because I took the opportunity to help out or give from the heart. Nothing demonstrates the true meaning of the holiday season like selfless generosity.

I believe that is why I love Christmas so much. I enjoy giving to others, to see their faces light up at the sight of their present. I love to make people happy, and gift them with a sense of belonging. I want to enrich the lives of others, and show what it means to be kind and gracious. 

With that thought, I'd like to give each of you something as well. Just like children who earnestly hope and pray and wish for that special something beneath their tree, I wish for you to be blessed with these three things:
  1. A lifetime filled with happiness, love, and peace
  2. The motivation to do something great with your God-given talents
  3. And the eagerness to spread joy to those who need it most in this world
Remember, peace cannot happen unless it first begins with ourselves. Find your peace, and give it to others this holiday season. You'll be surprised how rewarding it feels.

I hope all of you have a very blessed Christmas, no matter what holiday you celebrate, and a Happy New Year!

RENEE VINCENT is a USA Today bestselling author who also pens humorous, sweet contemporary romance (with a smidgen of spunk) under the name GRACIE LEE ROSE.

From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day (which now include cowboys) readers will be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.

Connect with Renee Vincent:

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Cheer and a touch of bronchitis!

In high school, seemed like I always got sick at Christmas. That went away during my child-rearing years, as I was exposed to so many bugs and never got sick, I thought I was human penicillin. Now, spending an evening with my Grands, and yes, I come down two days later with a horrible case of bronchitis. I nursed a sore throat and tickle along for a few days, until it finally took me to bed, and it wasn't fun like in my books.

I decided this Christmas to give my readers a couple of things they hadn't read before. Nashville SEAL is my novella as part of the Holding Out For A Hero Anthology on KU exclusive. I was allowed to also publish it stand alone, and I did an audio book as well as print version. Because Nashville SEAL is about a singer-songwriter, and my narrator, J.D. Hart, has been a singer-songwriter in Nashville, I took some of the stories he's told me and added my own imagination to create a fun read. This character even wrote a couple of songs (my talents as a songwriter are much less than that of a novelist). He wrote one, and I wrote one. Some of the lines J.D. sang in the audio book.

And then the cherry on top, J.D. sang "He's Got My Eyes," which was a song he performed in Nashville when he was a young Nashville star. I'm not sure how many audio books have the narrator singing, but this one of ours will be a gold standard, I'm sure. It has been selling very well, too. You can enjoy a clip here.

My readers are also getting another beloved character, Fredo, in a novella that comes out this next week, Fredo's Secret. I have gotten so many emails about this SEAL, who is not the most handsome of all my guys, but yet he gets the beautiful Mia, the most gorgeous of all the SEAL wives and girlfriends. He and Coop are an unlikely pair of Team buddies: Coop is a tall farmboy from Nebraska, drinks healthy drinks and no alcohol, Fredo won't eat anything green except cilantro and green chilis, and thinks getting his unibrow tweezed is unmanly. I had a lot of fun with Fredo.

Whatever your reading tastes, I hope that you'll support an Indie writer, buy their books for yourself or for others on your Christmas list. I hope all the blessings of the Season come true, and you have a sparkly New Year.

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.

Friday, December 18, 2015

#Authors - Don't wait! Schedule your spot now for 2016 on #RB4U!

Romance Books 4 Us is scheduling for guests in the upcoming year, but our spots fill up quickly so don't put off securing those spots that you need! 

Why post on RB4U? What are the benefits? 

We will promote your guest spot on the RB4U's TwitterFacebook and Google + pages. If you haven't already, please follow and join us on our social networking sites by simply clicking on their link in the previous sentence. Our blog receives thousands of visitors and has a balanced viewing of industry professionals as well as readers.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

One of my favorite books, built around the lovely idea of reforming a dedicated rake. Sure, it's been done before, but what theme hasn't? There's something so appealing in bringing the male sex to their figurative knees! And the Marquis was such a bad boy one wonders if it's even possible.

Here's an excerpt: (from when he's starting to realize he must change)

The entire house smelled wonderful.   The mulled cider was kept accessible through out the day, with everyone welcome to warm themselves when they came in from the cold.  Jared served himself and walked casually to lean against the wall, cup in hand.  He found it hard to believe this cold mansion could be so transformed. Everyone, guest or servant, was going about the tasks Abigail has assigned, and everyone had a smile on their lips.
By god but she’d make a wonderful Marchioness. And eventually, a wonderful Duchess.
She was perfect. And for the first time in his life, he was not at all certain he would win the one girl he wanted.
To his surprise Abigail turned from the garland she was twining around the staircase, and walked up to him.
“Jared, have you noticed the snow is falling more thickly?” Her eyes were as excited as a child’s. “We’re going to have a really white Christmas.”
He grinned. “Do you think it will be thick enough we’ll be forced to miss the Christmas service at the church? I’ll start thinking up pleasant alternatives if you’d like.”
Actually his mind was filled with one activity only. How to get her naked and in bed with him. He could hardly wait to bare every luscious curve and move on top of her.
She laughed. “You’re a heathen, aren’t you? Don’t worry, I’m sure we can make it to the church.” Her eyes lit. “Do you by any chance have a sleigh? Oh, I’ve got to go see.” 
He grabbed her arm. “I have no idea, but I’ll send a footman to find out. If we have one it will be half buried in some barn. You insane girl, you’re enjoying all this fuss and bother, aren’t you?”
She didn’t look at him, but she whispered a reluctant yes, and then spun away. Fleeing the room, and him.
He swore under his breath. He nearly gave up and went to his room with a bottle of brandy. But some niggling feeling kept him there.
It was not a nice feeling. A premonition of danger overtook even his lust for Abigail. Something was wrong and he didn’t know what it was. He searched the rooms until he found Abigail wrapping some small objects in glittering paper. She immediately stood and swept everything behind her.
“Go away, Jared. This is a surprise for everyone!”
What he wanted to do was scoop her up in his arms and carry her to his bed. He’d lock her in his room to keep her safe, if she’d only let him.
Instead he looked at with a grave expression she’d never seen.
“Come, Abigail. Something is wrong and I don’t know what it is. I want you protected. Let me see you to your room and you can lock the door behind me. I intend to have the property searched and want to know you’re safe while I do so.”
She put both hands to her lips. “Jared, you’re frightening me.”
“Then let me make you safe. I promise to consult with you in the morning, if you’ll stay in your room tonight.”
“Of course, Jared.”
Holding her hand tightly, he walked her to her door, planted a sweet kiss on each eye and then her lips, waited till he heard the lock turn, and left. At least Abigail had let him kiss her three times, even if they were only little pecks instead of the deep embrace he longed to give her.
It was getting too dark to search far or well, but at least the intruder he intuitively felt was on the property would know he was alert.
He gathered some footmen and made a cursory search of the property. They only found one possible clue, and that was some broken branches on a tree that lined up with Abigail’s window. Not given to accept this as coincidence, he gave orders to the men to cut down the offending oak, but to wait until Lady Abigail had appeared for breakfast. If she could sleep in, he wanted her to. No use both of them being so apprehensive.
In his uneasy state, he never thought that his being so concerned about the amount of rest someone else got was not like him at all.
Taking another footman, he searched the property again.  His heart sinking, he released the whole estate was vulnerable to a revengeful madman. Everything had been planned for recreation and leisure and there was simply no way to isolate any portion of it. His only choice was not a distasteful one. Be with Abigail every minute. Give no one else a chance to get at her.
Now all he had to do was persuade her this was necessary.

As you can tell this is pretty far along in the book, when the Marquis knows he wants to reform but we're not sure he can. Maybe you'll have to buy the book and see!
I've got five more books coming out at MuseItUp this next year, so you'll doubtless hear more of them.  It promises to be a productive year.


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