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So You Think You Want To Write?

10 Things Writers Should Know

books at home

People have a misconception that writing, in general, is easier than it is. Pardon me while I burst the proverbial bubble here. I’m going to set the record straight (buckle up your pants or your seatbelt and get ready). I’ve included some helpful links as well.

Following is a list I’ve drafted of ‘things to keep in mind’ if you decide to jump headfirst (or continue) into the game of writing. Trust me, it’s an axe-grinding, balloon deflating, uphill job. Until it isn’t. More on that later.

HARD WORK IS REALLY PERSISTENT LOVE

1. Do you like mowing the lawn? Washing the dishes? Cleaning out the garage? Didn’t think so. Remember this: writing is not a hobby if you’re serious about it. It’s a JOB! And jobs require time and work. If you don’t LOVE writing, now might be the time to reassess your commitment.

THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS

2. First off, writing is a business. Sure, it involves creativity and a well-developed imagination. But if you’re going to succeed you’ll need to understand the difference between creation and remuneration. Very different sides of the brain operating here. Obviously, you should avoid vanity publishers like the plague. Check Predators & Editors and Absolute Write. Don’t go in blind and foolish. Legit publishers should pay you for your work, not the other way round, unless you’re big into charity. Or working for free. You’ll need to pay for a domain name, business cards, spend money on giveaways and print books. It adds up! Keep your day job if you have one.

OWN UP TO YOUR WEAKNESSES AND LEARN

3. Your manuscript is perfect, I know you think that (we all do). It’s a shining jewel. A masterpiece. You may wonder why the world hasn’t discovered this fact yet. Ding dong. Anyone home? You probably think you’re the best driver and housecleaner too (if you are, lead the way). There are very good writers in existence. A few excellent writers. But there are more mediocre writers and certainly crappy writers abound. You may have a knack. You may not. How to know? Have you taken any writing courses? Did you flunk English in high school? How long have you been working on your novel? Has anyone read your WIP? All great things to keep in mind.

Kind of like other aspiring greats. Remember Gustave Eiffel? His creation was abhorred by the citizens of Paris in the beginning. But he knew he was on to something. So, if you really believe you’ve got the goods, make sure you do a damn good job of it before you send it out to the masses. Start by reading oodles of books. Take writing classes. Google writing tips. Learn all you can up front about writing and publishing. Spend time editing your WIP. Not a grammar scholar? This site is a lifesaver for grammar rules and tips: https://www.grammarbook.com/.

MINGLING IS REALLY IMPORTANT

4. There seems to be a prevailing belief that writers are solitary, weird people. Well, I’m sure some are. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but the truth is that’s a myth. You need to put on your smiley face and work at networking. There we go, that word work again.

Socialize, socialize, socialize! That means attending book signings, conferences, plugging in to various social media platforms, blogging, etc. Don’t be shy. Comb your hair and come into the light. A good mantra: time to sparkle, time to shine, time for another glass of wine!

PUT ON YOUR PROFESSIONAL HAT

5. Maintain a professional image. Get rid of your ‘lucyloveslarrydotcom’ domain name. Unless that’s the title of your book. Establish a brand and keep it consistent. If you happen to write erotica on the side, maybe use a pen name and a separate site. Consider getting a professional head shot and make sure your social media sites are similar and recognizable.

During emails and communications with publishers, editors and other authors, be mindful of your tone. Slinging accusations or bad-mouthing people is a bad idea in general. People talk, emails can be shared. Be yourself; just not your sloppy self when you’re lying in bed in pyjamas drinking beer and eating popcorn.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

6. Just as when you learned to drive, or cook or change a tire, your parents, spouse, and teachers lined up to tell you how wonderful a job you did. Or how you screwed up and ‘need to do it all over’. When you finally get that query letter sent off, or finally get a contract or land an agent, be prepared for a whole bunch of feedback. Consider yourself lucky if you do. Unless you’ve been writing for decades with dozens of well-paying books under your belt, you’ll need feedback. Probably lots of it. This is where it’s a good idea to remember those tips I mentioned on professionalism.

You may discover your writing needs a lot of improvement. Embrace the criticism. It means someone has spent time looking over your work. You’re ahead of the game already. Then move on to the task of improving your skill based on that feedback you just gained.

BALANCE IS A FENG-SHUI, YIN-YANG SORT OF THING

7. So now you’re in the groove. You’ve got a website, a WIP, a blog, an offer on a finished manuscript. Celebration time! No rest for the wicked. This is when it’s time to get your game on and roll up your sleeves. Writing is full-time, all year long. Morning, noon and night. In fact, things can speed up quickly at this point. You’ll be so busy working on edits, building your social media and responding to emails you’ll barely keep your head above water. Don’t fall apart and decide now’s a good time for an extended break. You’ll need to keep focused for a long time. That cover reveal needs to be announced, those blogs need to be written, edits must be done by . . . you get the picture.

Avoid crash and burn-out! Early on, you’ll need to balance writing with the mountainous task of maintaining social media. Pick the ones you like the most, don’t fret over the rest. You’ll be most effective if you enjoy what you’re doing. This is when family and friends will wonder if you’re ever going to stumble out of your cave. Please do, once in a while. Writers become absorbed and enmeshed in their literary worlds but real life needs to continue. Don’t neglect your closest relatives and friends. Parcel in time for non-writing endeavors. Breathe in. Breathe out. Then get right back in the saddle.

SAVE YOUR PENNIES FOR A RAINY DAY

8. What’s life without dreams? Not so great, I’d say. We all have ’em. Dreams are important but they don’t always come true. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try. If you expect to hit the jackpot like JK Rowling or EL James, you’re going to have a hard landing. I don’t know the exact percentage, but let’s roll the dice and say . . . maybe 1% of writers become rich and famous. Not great odds.

Most likely, you’ll need to have money in your pocket and view writing as something that takes hard work that just might pay off big in the long run. It’s a strange concept to absorb. I emphasized earlier that writing is serious and it should pay you. That’s true. But I didn’t say all jobs pay well.

MIND YOUR MONEY

9. On the topic of money, once you earn some through writing, you’ll become part of a select group. However, plenty of people are waiting in the wings to make money from your slave labour. You may suddenly find your inbox filled with requests from all sorts of business people. Some will want you to buy their (numerous) self-help books about writing. Be wary of publishers seeking submissions from you directly—in exchange for subscribing to their newsletter. People will offer to review your books for free, so long as you pay first to be on their ‘list’. Reviews should not be bought and while it is difficult to get them, keep searching before you hand over money for a review. Contests abound. Some are prestigious and legitimate. Others aren’t. Research online contests before you pop a check in the mail. Here is a great link offering tips to avoid contest scams http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Writing-Contest-Scams.

Finally, companies who offer workshops will be calling. Check  your local writers’ groups first, they may offer free courses on the same subject. All in all, it’s your decision where your money goes. Just be aware that the doorbell will ring constantly with those seeking to take some of it.

SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE

10. Remember that chocolate you found in your lunchbox at school? Your friends peering over your shoulder wearing bright, expectant smiles? Don’t be the kid who doesn’t share a piece of chocolate.

Writing and publishing may appear as a cavernous, world-wide-web of authors with no end. Yet in some ways it’s a small nation like other industries. And similar to other careers, it’s a good idea to help out other writers when the opportunity arises. Inviting fellow authors to guest blog on your site is a great start, as is offering to provide a critique for someone’s WIP. Tweet their new releases, vote for their books, provide helpful answers to questions they have. Helping another person will not be forgotten and their appreciation, knowing the time you took out of your day to help, will rebound when it’s your turn.

Boxing Day Madness?

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How many of you venture out to stores to shop on Boxing Day? I’ll admit, I headed to the mall this Boxing Day for the first time in many years. Usually I’m sipping Coronas or margaritas on the beach during the Christmas holidays. This year my family stayed home to enjoy a white, snowy Christmas.

Which meant I’d be home for shopping on Boxing Day and the choice of whether I should or shouldn’t battle the mall on this famous Canadian day after Christmas.

Amazingly, we found a parking spot. In less than five minutes. It was either timing, karma, luck, or whatever you want to call it. There were no honking cars, raised fists, or anything at all. Well, maybe a big grin plastered on my face and my husband’s. We couldn’t believe our luck after all.

After walking about twenty steps inside the mall, we were hit with frenzied shoppers. Wait, maybe not frenzied, but certainly busy. The line-ups weren’t bad (except Starbucks naturally). People were polite. I suppose the fact I was huffing along with a bright blue cane didn’t hurt (I broke my leg in a freak accident recently). I scanned the sea of faces and honestly, everyone looked . . . smiley and happy. Truly. Okay then.

This was turning out to be not so bad after all. We meandered through a few stores and made a few purchases and I have to concede that we did save some money. There were deals to be found.

So, was it worth the trip? This time round it was. Maybe where I live people are just exceedingly polite, or maybe most Canadians are shopping online, like I usually do. I dunno, but the experience was calm and enjoyable. Given that the last memory of shopping on Boxing Day in Vancouver wasn’t so . . . pleasant, this was a refreshing surprise.

Will I do it again? Perhaps, if I’m in town for Christmas. I still prefer heading south and avoiding shopping altogether. But if I am around for another Christmas I’ll certainly consider braving the trip to the mall.

If I can’t encounter any cantankerous, rude shoppers, I can always sit back and watch You Tube videos of customers fist fighting over bargains. I could.

I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas, wherever you call home, and if you’re a bargain hunter there’s still Black Friday . . . in another year!

 

 

My Ten Favorite Books

Hot on the heels of my ’20 Fabulous Gifts For Writers’, I thought I’d share My Ten Favorite Books. This is the perfect time of year to hunker down with a cozy throw, a good read and a warm fire.

I love to read and generally I make it through fifty or more books each year, in many different genres. My reading list is eclectic – encompassing everything from horror to autobiographical accounts.  One common thread linking these great stories? They’re stories of human survival.

Most of these titles are familiar literary classics. The reason these books made my Top Ten list is because each book left an impression with me long after reading The End. Whether the emotion was outrage, shock, joy or fear,  these stories resonated long after I turned the final page.

My Top Ten Favourite Books

1.)           Left To Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza

2.)           The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyle

3.)           The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

4.)           The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

5.)           Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody

6.)           Lord Of The Flies by William Golding

7.)           To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

8.)           The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

9.)           It by Stephen King

10.)        Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

The other notable factor in choosing titles for this list is the descriptions of the settings were superbly written. I lived in the jungle alongside the family of missionaries in The Poisonwood Bible and I cried at Betty Mahmoody’s separation from her child as though I were in that locked room with her. I stumbled through the canyons of California and the wilderness of Alaska, inhaling Christopher McCandless’s desperate search for life even as he was losing it as the days passed. I have always believed  a sign of a good book is the ability to get lost in it, for a moment or for several hours.

We can all relate to the desire to help or save someone, and most of us would relish the opportunity to visit some far-flung exotic place, despite a bit of danger. This is often referred to as ‘armchair traveling’. So come along for a few minutes and I will share with you why I love each of these titles in a bit more detail and why some of these books inspired me to visit the very places in which they are set.

  1. Left To Tell

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A true account of a young woman’s struggle to live during the genocide in Rwanda. While not light reading, the impact of this woman’s strength, against all odds, is a classic portrayal of survival.

2. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

boy in stripes

A fictional tale of a German soldier’s son, living alongside a concentration camp. The setting, while stark, is less important than the story of forbidden friendship, told simply, with a harsh and shocking lesson.

  1. The Poisonwood Bible

poison bible

I have always loved the idea of Africa. Exotic jungles, wild animals, and people whose lives are both mystifying and inimitable. A land of extremes in every sense. This is a fictional story of a family of missionaries whose lives are forever changed when they settle in the jungles of Africa. A real saga of life, religion, death, and culture wrapped up in wonderful storytelling.

  1. The Glass Castle

glass castle

Based on the childhood of journalist Jeanette Walls, this is a story of a girl whose childhood could be described as anything but normal. Beautifully written and at times hard to believe. Her childhood unfolded in the vast dry desert land of Arizona and wound up in the misty coal mining towns of Pennsylvania. Gritty and absorbing.

  1. Not Without My Daughter

not without daughter

Another true tale. Betty Mahmoody marries an Iranian American doctor and they travel to Iran for a holiday. Only she doesn’t realize that her husband has become radicalized and has no plans to return to America. A television movie was subsequently made starring Sally Field, depicting this brave woman’s fight to save her daughter. Recently, her daughter, Mahtob, released her own account of that frightful time in Iran.

  1. Lord of the Flies

lord of flies

A literary classic, this is the fictionalized story of a group of British boys who crash land on a deserted island and quickly form a tribe. A shocking tale of survival of the fittest and how even the innocent can change under life and death circumstances.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird

mockingbird

Often given out to high school students as required reading, this is a finely crafted novel of life in the American south in the 1930’s when racial segregation dictated life for everyone. Another classic.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale

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A dystopian view of the future of American society. True to form, Atwood’s storytelling takes literature to another level, leaving the reader horrified and turning the pages as quickly as possible. Finely written and imaginative. The main character’s struggle for freedom will have you rooting for her survival against a tightly controlled authoritarian regime.

9. It

It by King

While I don’t always lean towards horror genres in my book choices, I do like elements of fear and mystery. This book, however, is classic horror, written by the master of this genre. The story follows a group of suburban teenagers in  Maine as they run from their nemesis – a murderous clown.  As the clown materializes in sink drains, in schools and in the woods, this book will keep you awake all night long.

  1. Into the Wild

into the wild

Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young graduate who leaves everything, and everyone, behind. His body is later discovered in a bus in the wilds of Alaska. His life story was brought to the big screen in a movie by the same name. A gripping story that is as hard to understand at times as it is to put down.

I’d love to hear from readers and other authors  as to your favorite reads!

Sizzle In The Snow Final Newsletter

The time has flown by and my contribution to Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection has been a rewarding team effort. I’d never had the experience of publishing a short story, nor publishing as part of a collection involving many other authors but it turned out to be a positive and rewarding project.

I’ve learned a great deal from my fellow authors and once again, I’m proud to be a published author with Soul Mate Publishing. This steamy, romance collection of short stories is inspired by Christmas and each story reflects passion and romance with  delightful Christmas themes.

Our book hit the Top 100 on amazon.ca and continues to be a popular read for romance readers looking for some Christmas sizzle!

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December 15, 2015

SIZZLE IN THE SNOW: A SOUL MATE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

Eight steamy romances by eight Soul Mate Publishing authors . . .

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BUY NOW

Buy Link

This Christmas season, Soul Mate Publishing and editor, Char Chaffin, presents Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection, an anthology now available on Amazon and Soul Mate Publishing. The featured authors and their stories include:

Welcome to our eighth and final newsletter in celebration of the release of

Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection.

Inside you’ll find great decorating tips, recipes and cocktails, excerpts, craft ideas, song links, holiday memories, and personalized cards and poems by the authors!

xmas girl


Book Corner

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We promised a sneak peek, so here goes . . .

Author Amy Deason shares an excerpt of her short story, Second Chances: A Christmas Story!

Octavia turned and was headed out the door when she stopped, looking back over her shoulder, her mouth turned up in a smile. “I just thought you might be interested to know that Michael Dennison is the coach.”

Grace stopped in her tracks. “Michael?” she asked, her heart skipping a beat.

For a moment, she forgot to breathe. Michael Dennison. Good Lord, that man had been hot. Tall with an athletic build, dark brown hair and incredible blue eyes, he caught her attention no matter where she was. Or he used to the last time she’d seen him, several years ago when she’d been down here for a visit.

“I see you remember him,” Octavia laughed, topping in the doorway and turning back.

“Of course I do. How could I not? But wait, he’s the basketball coach here? I thought he moved away to the city.”

“Oh, he did, but he got divorced three years ago and moved back. He’s got a little girl, Nicole. Actually,” Octavia mused, tilting her head, “she’s about the same age as Gracie. Hey, maybe they could become friends. And no, before you ask, I don’t think he’s involved with anyone. Yet,” she drawled out, her intention crystal clear.

Grace could feel her face heating up. “Come on, you don’t seriously think he’d be interested in me do you? I mean, he was so good looking . . .”

“And you’re what? Chopped liver? Give me a break.”Octavia rolled her eyes dramatically. “I know for a fact that the man had the hots for you for a long time. I doubt that’s changed. Oh and one more thing…”

“What?”

“If I were you, I’d find that charger for your phone. I have a feeling that you might be getting a message pretty soon,” her friend replied mischievously. “Well, gotta go. See you tomorrow about five.,” she said, dashing out the door before Grace could say another word.

“Mom, Lee won’t get out of my room!” Grace yelled, her voice traveling down the stairs.

With a sigh, Grace started up the steps and heard Lee giggling hysterically.

Oh man, she thought, I’ve got to find that charger.

 


 

 

Cocktail Corner

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Busy shopping, wrapping and socializing? Kick back with a festive cocktail!

Recipe shared by Kim Hotzon:

Cuban Mojito

Recipe = single serving

  • 2-3 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar, or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup ice cubes, or more as needed
  • 1.5 – 2 fluid ounces white Bacardi rum
  • 4 1/2 ounces club soda

Place mint leaves, lime juice and sugar in bottom of a glass and muddle with a spoon until mint is crushed. Fill glass with ice cubes. Pour rum and soda over the ice; stir. Serve with stirring spoon and garnish with fresh lime wedge.

Optional: Muddle fresh blueberries, raspberries or blackberries in with mint, lime and sugar for a refreshing switch to this classic cocktail. 

Optional: Replace club soda with 7-UP for a sweeter, fizzier drink.


Holiday Memory Corner

clip art xmas trees

What do you do when you’re poor and don’t have the money for a Christmas tree?

Authors CD Hersh share their unforgettable holiday memory . . .

 

 A Paper Christmas Tree

CDHersh-IBM Christmas Tree

Years ago when we were recently married college students, we were in that predicament. Not only did we not have a tree, we didn’t have much floor space to spare in our on-campus studio apartment. What we did have was access to hundreds of discarded, rectangular, IBM punch cards which Catherine liked to turn into paper wreaths. So, we got creative.Using the IBM punch cards, some staples, a few cardboard rounds, and some string, we created a one-of-kind, paper Christmas tree that we hung from the ceiling. After the holiday was over we pitched the paper tree (we had no storage room either), but the memories of that first Christmas tree linger—unique and precious like our love. 

CDHersh-IBM Christmas Tree wth presents

We put the Christmas cards we received in the center of the wreaths as decorations.


Recipe Corner

Recipe Corner

Company coming over? Author Tina Susedik dishes up her favorite holiday recipe:

This is a recipe that was a favorite of my siblings (there are seven of us) as we grew up. I made it a few times for my husband and kids, but I’m the only one who ever ate them, so I stopped. Last year we were at one of my older sisters’ for a Christmas party. To my joy, there they were, sitting right on top of other bars. She said she was the only one who ate them, but since several of us siblings were coming, she made them. Ah, the joy of sitting with her, dipping the bars in hot chocolate, just like the old days.

Fruit Nut Sheet

Ingredients

1 cup chopped English walnuts

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 cup seedless dates – cut into small pieces

1 cup flour

3 eggs

1 tsp. baking powder

Powdered sugar

Beat sugar and eggs together. Dredge dates and walnuts in flour/baking powder mixture. Add to sugar and egg mixture. Pour into shallow, greased baking pan. Bake for 1/2 hour at 300 degrees. Cut and shake bars in powdered sugar until coated.

These tend to get hardened after a time, so dipping them in coffee or hot chocolate is a fun way to soften them up.

 

Music Corner

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Listen up! Cheryl Yeko shares her favorite holiday song:

 

Song Title: O’ Holy Night

By Susan Boyle

 Song Link: https://youtu.be/JxCO5BGQIcs

  

 

Craft Corner

Craft Corner (2)

Looking for a simple craft to do with your children or grandchildren? Feeling crafty?

Crystal Firsdon shares an easy to do, festive DIY craft:

When I open the ornament box every year and see pictures of my family and how they looked 2 or 5 or more years ago, I love it. Photo ornaments are my favorite, and so easy to make yourself. I take a favorite family photo from the past year, or my kids’ school pictures, and glue the picture to the cover of an old Christmas card. I cut out the shape I want the ornament to be out of the card, punch a hole in the top, string some ribbon through the hole, and voila! Instant picture ornament. Getting it laminated will help keep it safe.

You can also glue the picture to some cool wrapping paper, then glue the wrapping paper to a piece of cardboard or other sturdy backing. And of course, there are lots of pre-made kits out there where you put the pieces together and then insert your picture. Those are great, too.

 

Decorating Corner

Decorating Corner

Time to bring out the mistletoe! Author Beth Carter has a great decorating tip!

Fill a glass bowl with a bag of cranberries. Add water. The cranberries will float to the top.  Add several white tea lights. These will also float. Enjoy this natural, pretty holiday decoration!


Holiday Card

What’s a holiday without a personalized card by one of your favorite authors? Author Ryan Jo Summers shares her holiday wishes:

Ryan Jo card

Of course, as authors we love our readers, and we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to offer swag, free books, and a grand prize which was awarded to one lucky blog/newsletter follower!

Congratulations to our grand prize winner Brooke Patricia! Several other winners were chosen for free gift cards, books and prizes!

 

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Thank you to everyone for joining our Facebook Launch Party on November 19th!

Missed the Facebook party? You can now purchase a copy of Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection!

Sizzle In The Snow Buy Link

Follow the authors’ blogs for a sneak peek of this wonderful collection!

20 Fabulous Gifts For Writers

20 FABULOUS GIFTS FOR WRITERS

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The month of December has arrived, along with the pressing need to purchase gifts. I hate gift shopping. A lot. But it’s something that must be done and I worry endlessly about giving a ‘meaningful’ gift. I try to avoid gifting friends and family with things they’re not going to use or things they may dislike. Writers, unless they have another passionate hobby on the side, can be difficult to buy for. So I came up with this list of 20 fabulous gifts for writers. Do you have a writer on your list? Check out these great gift ideas with literary appeal.

1. Word games. Did you know several classic board games feature editions specifically for book lovers?

Jenga and Scrabble both offer book lovers editions. Other fun word games for writers include Bananagrams and Boggle.

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2. Leather journal notebook. Great for logging emails, websites, dates for book signings, or perhaps plot points for their next great masterpiece.

leather journal

3. Calligraphy set. The author on your list can practice his/her signature for their next book signing.

calligraphy pen

4. Humorous gifts. Writers have great humor. Literary toilet paper? Lettered bookends? Perhaps a literary umbrella might make them smile.

shakespeare umbrella

 

 

 

 

 

5. Book tote bag. Your writer friend can stash his/her favorite reads beside a desk or bed for easy access.

book tote bag

6. Travel gifts. It can be tedious and mundane for writers to find inspiration within the same four walls and so those lucky enough to travel for their research, consider gifting them with items that suit their travel needs. Luggage tags, travel guide books, and even a nice duffel or weekender bag would be a sure hit.

luggage tags

 

7. Literary flip-flops. Yes, there is such a thing! Bet they’ll be the only ones on the beach sporting these!

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8. Books on writing. On Writing by Stephen King, poetry books, Writer’s Market, or Guide to Literary Agents, would definitely be appreciated. Writers love to read, especially about how to write.

king

9. Anthology collections or literary classic gift sets. Whether they’re into reading classic literature, or steamy Christmas romances, boxed gift sets or anthologies are a nice gift and will provide many hours of enjoyable reading.

SIZZLE IN THE SNOW_500x750 (2)classic romance

10. Elegant pen set. Yes, most writers save their documents on their laptop or tablet, but some prefer to record their notes in a journal. A nice pen to write with would be a thoughtful and useful gift idea.

elegant pens

 

11. Books,calendars and poetry games with inspirational quotes. Sometimes writers get the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. Or their creative juices dry up. A simple inspirational quote can bring a smile and get him/her writing again. This ‘happiness’ magnetic poetry game is a cute gift idea.

poetry kit

12. Thesaurus. While words of similarity and related meaning can be looked up online, sometimes  writers find themselves without internet connection, maybe while camping, or hiking or sitting on the beach. Think they’re not writing? Think again! Writers write everywhere and a thesaurus at the ready will be used. Guaranteed.

oxford writers thesaurus

13. Idea Paint. Now this is a cool idea that is sure to please the creative writer in your life.  Allow them a wall and the freedom to go crazy. I promise, they will. They’ll have the storyline, plot, chapters and character descriptions all laid out on the wall. Just make sure it’s a wall in an obscure place unless you don’t mind the scrawl!

idea paint

14. Vintage gifts. Old, time-worn notebooks, journals, key chains, mouse pads, anything that has a distinctly vintage look to it. How about an antique typewriter from an antique store? Writers will love this!

vintage typewriter

15. Items with literary quotes or images. Mugs, eyeglass cases or pencil cases, pillowcases, etc. The list is endless.

hemingway mug

 

 

 

 

 

 

16. Kindle reader. Writers like to read and get deals just like anyone else. A Kindle reader is a sure-fire way to delight your favorite author this Christmas.

kindle ebook device

17. Credit card chip reader. If your author friend is planning a book signing, this little gem is a life-saver. Instantly allow customers to scan and pay for their books using their credit cards. This device is easy to use and set up. It does not record or keep any personal data so people’s credit card numbers will be secure. Great gadget for those book signings and craft fairs when it’s time to sell those books!

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18. Keyboard for tablet. This makes writing that great novel so much easier when not at home.

tablet keyboard

19. The Writer’s Tool Box. This is the perfect gift filled with ideas and games for those suffering from writer’s block!

writers toolbox

20. Book jewelry. From charms and pendants to earrings and bracelets, book jewelry is a popular item for writers and readers and anyone who loves books and jewelry. Whether you decide to purchase online, or craft something yourself, these items are delightful and whimsical and would make a great stocking stuffer.

book necklace

For these and other items, please visit the following websites:

http://www.amazon.com

http://www.cafepress.ca

http://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca

Sizzle In The Snow Hit Top 100 On Amazon!

Amazon Best Sellers List

Like all authors, I always get excited by wins, awards, any recognition really. My short story, The Snow Bird, is part of an anthology featuring eight steamy romances and Christmas themes. Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection (Soul Mate Publishing) was published on December 2, 2015 and quickly made it into the Top 100 in Genre Fiction/Literature & Fiction/Anthologies on amazon.ca. Thank you, Canadian readers!

Sizzle In The Snow is a great Christmas romance collection and a perfect gift for Christmas!

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Sizzle In The Snow – Newsletter #7

December 5, 2015


SIZZLE IN THE SNOW: A SOUL MATE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

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Eight steamy romances by eight Soul Mate Publishing authors . . .

SIZZLE IN THE SNOW_500x750 (2)

BUY NOW

Buy Link

This Christmas season, Soul Mate Publishing and editor, Char Chaffin, presents Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection, an anthology now available on Amazon and Soul Mate Publishing. The featured authors and their stories include:

Welcome to our seventh newsletter in celebration of the release of

Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection.

Check your inbox every ten days for each newsletter. Inside you’ll find great decorating tips, recipes and cocktails, excerpts, craft ideas, song links, holiday memories, and personalized cards and poems by the authors!

xmas girl


Book Corner

clip art books

Author Beth Carter shares a sneak peek of her short story, Santa Baby!

SANTA BABY by Beth Carter

Unlucky-in-love Brooke Woods finds herself with a Christmas delivery and it isn’t from Santa. When her boyfriend leaves her for their neighbor, she heads to the nearest bar, meeting hunky, nice guy Anderson Bradley.

The two only exchange first names, and their hot fling leaves them both wanting more but their anonymity makes that impossible. Brooke never thought she’d end up in a hospital pregnant at Christmastime.

Will a Santa Baby bring the new mother and father together or tear them apart?

 


 

Cocktail Corner

mocktail pic

 

Busy shopping, wrapping and socializing?

Kick back with a festive cocktail from CD Hersh!

Mocktail recipe:

Cranberry Sangria by the glass (original recipe by C.D. Hersh)

For each 8-ounce champagne glass you will need:

1/4 cup brewed Hibiscus Watermelon tea (we use Republic of Tea brand)

1/8 cup brewed Chamomile honey and vanilla tea (we use Twinings brand)

Sparking apple cider

1 rounded TBS jellied cranberry sauce (smooth or whole berry)

Fresh fruits (grapes, whole cranberries, pineapple chunks, peeled sliced star fruit, or peeled kiwi—or fruits of your choice)

Short skewer or sizzle stick

Directions:

Thread fruits on a skewer or swizzle stick and set aside.

Place teas and cranberry sauce in the glass. Mix until sauce is dissolved.  Fill glass with sparkling apple cider. Enjoy!

Mock Champagne by the glass (original recipe by C.D. Hersh)

In an 8-ounce champagne flute, place ¼ cup white grape juice and 1/8 cup Chamomile tea. Fill glass with regular or diet ginger ale. To give the drink a holiday flare, add a slice of star fruit and a couple of whole, fresh cranberries to the glass before adding the liquids.


Holiday Memory Corner

clip art xmas trees

Crystal Firsdon has an unforgettable holiday memory to share . . .

Holiday memory

This holiday memory is more of a true story that’s been told for years. At 2 years old I was too young to remember when this happened. The story goes . . .

Christmas Eve in my family has always been celebrated at my maternal grandparents’ house with my mom’s side of the family. After a long evening of church, dinner, and presents, my parents brought my sister and me home only to discover someone had broken into our house by kicking in our back door. They ransacked the house and stole all our Christmas presents! (Side note: Yes, they ransacked the house, but the house was already a mess when they broke in. My mom was so embarrassed about the mess that when the police came, she blamed it all on the burglars—even the clothes thrown all over the bedroom floors.)

Christmas day was always spent at my paternal grandparents’ house with my dad’s side of the family, and by morning they had all heard what happened. My aunts and uncles snatched some of their own kids’ presents, changed the tags, and gave them to my sister and me so we’d have gifts to open from Santa on Christmas day.

A few days later the police caught who did it. They came to our house with a garbage bag filled with what they could recover, including a red velvet robe for my dad. (It was the 70’s, don’t judge.) I remember hearing stories that when they caught the man, he was wearing the robe. Nobody remembers if that part is true or not but my mom said the robe had obviously been worn when they got it back.

Luckily, none of my own Christmases that I remember have been that dramatic. I’ve grown up with that story and will someday pass it on to my own children when they’re old enough that it won’t scar them for life.


Recipe Corner

salmon basil

Company coming over? Author Ryan Jo Summers dishes up her favorite holiday recipe: Basil Halibut Steaks

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. Bake: 20 min.

MAKES: 4 servings

Basil Halibut Steaks

INGREDIENTS:

6 plum tomatoes, cut into 1-1/4 inch slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Water

4 halibut steaks (1 inch thick)

 

TOPPING:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 cup soft bread crumbs

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped ripe olives

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (1 each) equals 739 calories, 36 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 141 mg cholesterol, 492 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 87 g protein.

Directions

1.    Place tomatoes on a baking sheet; drizzle with oil. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and place on the baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until edges of tomatoes are lightly browned and garlic pierces easily with a fork. Place tomatoes and garlic in a food processor or blender; cover and process until smooth. Add vinegar, basil and water to achieve desired thickness; set aside.

2.    Place halibut in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Combine mayonnaise and mustard; spread over fish. Combine bread crumbs, basil and olives; sprinkle over mayonnaise mixture and press down gently. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork. Spoon tomato sauce onto four dinner plates; top with fish. Yield: 4 servings.

 

Music Corner

music bell

Listen up! Tina Susedik shares her favorite holiday song:

 

Song Title: Mary, Did You Know?

By Pentatonix

Song Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE

  

Craft Corner

Craft Corner (2)

Looking for a simple craft to do with your children or grandchildren? Feeling crafty?

Amy Deason shares an easy to do, festive DIY craft:

My DIY craft is not very expensive and is totally cute and fairly easy to make.

· Shadow Box 

· Scrapbook Paper

· Vinyl Lettering

· 1 1/2 packages of bells (any color, multiple colors might be festive)

**Your shadow box doesn’t have to say Jingle Bells. You can have it say anything you like: Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Let It Snow, etc. And for the interior, you don’t have to use bells. You can use whatever you want. The possibilities are endless. 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Apply vinyl lettering to the outside of the shadow box.

2. Place box upside down and fill with bells.

3. Trim paper to approximately 9″ (9.25″ might actually work for the shadow box better).

4. Place trimmed paper behind the bells and close the box.

There you go, now you have a beautiful Christmas craft to enjoy for years to come.

 

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Holiday Card

What’s a holiday without a personalized card by one of your favorite authors? Author Kim Hotzon shares her holiday wishes:

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Of course, as authors we love our readers, and we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to offer swag, free books, and a grand prize which was awarded to one lucky blog/newsletter follower!


Congratulations to our grand prize winner Brooke Patricia! Several other winners were chosen for free gift cards, books and prizes!


Thank you to everyone for joining our Facebook Launch Party on November 19th!

Missed the Facebook party? You can now purchase a copy of Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection!

Sizzle In The Snow Buy Link

Follow the authors’ blogs for a sneak peek of this wonderful collection!

Release Day! Sizzle In The Snow!

Today is an exciting day – it’s release day for Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection (Soul Mate Publishing). My short story, The Snow Bird, is one of eight short romance stories, all with Christmas themes.

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This is my first short story to be published and it’s nice to be able to finally share my story with you.

Excerpt:

THE SNOW BIRD, by Kim Hotzon

Lauren, a young single mother, is struggling to keep her children fed and a roof over their heads as the holidays approach.

Christmas is looking bleak until a sexy and wealthy property developer unexpectedly shows up in town, offering to repair her roof . . . and a whole lot more.

Along with The Snow Bird, there are seven fantastic stories in this collection. A little bit of suspense and a lot of romance.

Buy Link

New Release by Author Cynthia Gail

What happens when you merge an iconic city with a wonderful holiday? You get a beautiful book! A Christmas Paris by author Cynthia Gail is a contemporary novella.

Seeing that I also have a Paris themed novel coming out in 2016, I jumped at the chance to feature her new novella. Paris is a city I adore and consider myself fortunate to have visited.

Read on for a blurb of A Paris Christmas and check out the gorgeous cover!

AParisChristmas_1400

Heat 3.5

Contemporary novella

Pricepoint 99 cents.

BUY NOW:

http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Christmas-Cynthia-Gail-ebook/dp/B018LGRH32/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1448631900&sr=8-13&keywords=a+paris+christmas


 Website:  http://cynthiagail.com/

Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/CynthiaGailRomance

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CynthiaGailBook

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6564818.Cynthia_Gail

Billionaire Nicholas Adrien Rousseau works seven days a week. He lives on a schedule, doesn’t like surprises, plans his days, and outlines his goals. Until an irresistible blonde slides into the backseat of his Mercedes, mistaking him for the driver of the car service provided by his company, Bridal Bliss.

Bella Rose is late for the airport. The opportunity to turn Creative Couture into an International marketing firm is a dream come true, but if she doesn’t catch the last flight home to the states, she’ll miss Christmas Eve with her family.

Two strangers with an attraction that could melt an iceberg, are stranded in the heart of Paris, the city of light and love. When Bella throws caution to the wind, deciding to accept the spontaneity life has thrown her and enjoy the journey, she never imagines it will lead to the man of her dreams. Adrien realizes too late that by hiding his identity, he could lose the one woman who loves the man and not the money.

Sizzle In The Snow Newsletter #6

November 25, 2015

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SIZZLE IN THE SNOW: A SOUL MATE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

Eight steamy romances by eight Soul Mate Publishing authors . . .

SIZZLE IN THE SNOW_500x750 (2)

BUY NOW

http://www.amazon.com/Sizzle-Snow-Soul-Christmas-Collection-ebook/dp/B0186SCT74

This Christmas season, Soul Mate Publishing and editor, Char Chaffin, presents Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection, an anthology available December 2 on Amazon and Soul Mate Publishing. The featured authors and their stories include:

Welcome to our sixth newsletter in celebration of the release of

Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection.

xmas girl

Check your inbox every ten days for each newsletter. Inside you’ll find great decorating tips, recipes and cocktails, excerpts, craft ideas, song links, holiday memories, and personalized cards and poems by the authors!

Book Corner

clip art books

We promised a sneak peek, so here goes . . .

Author Cheryl Yeko gives an excerpt of her short story, Christmas Eve Surprise!

She swung her legs back around and gave his chest a hard shove so she could get down, but he didn’t budge.

“Move,” she said with a glare. Trying not to admit to herself how good it was to see him again. He hadn’t changed. Except his crystal clear blue eyes were now clouded with worry. His full mouth pinched, a tense expression on his oh, so handsome face. His wavy dark hair was shorter than she remembered, but his sexy square jaw still looked as stubborn.

Staring into her eyes with a determined look, Steve slid three fingers between the buttons of her winter coat and lightly rubbed her belly. His other hand tucked a loose curl behind her ear. “Afraid not, sweetness. We need to talk.”

Her breath caught at both the feel of him touching her, and the sound of the endearment she’d thought never to hear again, bringing back all kinds of wonderful memories. But the hurt from his abandonment ran deep and she focused on that, and not on how great he looked or how good he smelled.

“There is no ‘we’ and I have nothing to say to you.”

Liar! She’d spent the last six months, two weeks, and a day thinking about nothing but what she would say to him if she ever saw him again. But now that he was here, standing before her, all she could think about was how she’d missed him, and how she wanted to run her fingers through his dark, wavy hair, just like she used to.

Pathetic!

But the way he looked at her with those piercing blue eyes still made her insides quiver and her breath catch. His well-muscled body was just as powerful as she remembered. And that mouth . . . God, the things he could do with that mouth.

The babies took that moment to start moving around again, and her belly undulated under his fingers. Dropping his gaze, Steve sucked in a deep breath and took a small step back. He brought both hands up to cradle her belly on the outside of her coat as the babies continued to play.

When his gaze rose to meet hers his eyes were filled with wonder, and just like that, her heart expanded with a feeling of love and affection for him.

Before she thought better of it, she said quietly, “I’d like you to meet your sons.”

 


 

 

 Cocktail Corner

hot toddy

 

Busy shopping, wrapping and socializing?

Kick back with a festive cocktail!

Recipe shared by Crystal Firsdon:

I don’t drink but once every few years or so. The last time I drank was because I went to a wine party and found myself in possession of a bottle of wine afterward. It took me a month to drink the darn thing because I only had one glass every Saturday evening for 4 weeks. And by glass, I mean coffee mug. I don’t own a wine glass. The only reason I was able to get the cork out was because I found a very old Swiss Army knife of my husband’s that happened to have a cork screw on it!

So for my Christmas cocktail, I asked my mom.  Here’s what she gave me:

Hot Holiday Toddy

1 shot of rum

5 oz. ginger ale

Mix it in a holiday themed mug and microwave for 20 seconds.

Repeat every half hour until you’re in the holiday spirit.


clip art xmas trees

Holiday Memory Corner

Amy Deason has a heartwarming holiday memory to share . . .

My husband and I started dating in January of 2011 and by June of that same year, we knew that we belonged together. So in October 2011, we moved in together. One of my most favorite holiday memories is of Christmas 2011.

It was wonderful. The children and I baked cookies for Santa while Shaun kept sneaking in and stealing them.

 

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Snuggled together on the couch, nibbling Christmas cookies and drinking got cocoa, we watched Christmas specials including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, It’s Christmas Charlie Brown, and A Christmas Story.

Before bed, gathered on the floor beside the Christmas tree that we had decorated together, Shaun read The Night Before Christmas. Tucking the kids into bed, we knew they were so excited for Christmas morning. And we were too. We had a wonderful little family.

The next morning, the kids ran into our room and pounced on the bed, their voices happy and excited. We wanted to sleep in but there was going to be none of that with 3 kids on Christmas morning. What were we thinking, sleeping in?

One by one, we took turns opening presents and I, of course was taking a million pictures. While the kids and Shaun (the big kid that he is), played with all of the toys, I made a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bacon, and eggs.

It was one of the most wonderful and special moments of my life. One that I will carry with me forever.

 amy deason pic 2

I hope that everyone has at least one holiday memory like this.

Merry Christmas,

Amy Deason


Recipe Corner

Company coming over? Author Kim Hotzon dishes up her favorite holiday recipe:

cranberry sauce.jpg

 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

1 12 ounce bag frozen or fresh cranberries

1 cup white sugar

1 cup orange juice

lemon zest

Rinse cranberries and place in saucepan along with sugar and orange juice. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook mixture, stirring constantly, until cranberries ‘burst’, about 10 minutes. Lower heat and continue stirring until mixture thickens (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place in serving bowl. Garnish with lemon zest. Serve at room temperature. *Leftover cranberry sauce can be refrigerated for several days afterward.

Music Corner

music bell

Listen up! Ryan Jo Summers shares her favorite holiday song:

 

Titles and Song Links:

Gloria Excelsis Dao link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLS6qZt9WLQ

Sleigh Ride https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OATi34PKNPw

 

Winter Wonderland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5daQbThsDU

Snoopy vs The Red Baron  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxzg_iM-T4E

  

Craft Corner

Craft Corner (2)

Looking for a simple craft to do with your children or grandchildren? Feeling crafty?

Beth Carter shares an easy to do, festive DIY craft:

My DIY is filling Pringles cans with home-made cookies and wrapping the cans with festive Christmas paper. I saw this suggestion on Facebook and think it’s a great idea!

beth craft

 

 

Decorating Corner

Decorating Corner

Time to bring out the mistletoe! Tina Susedik has some great decorating tips!

 

Decorating Idea: This one is very simple. Find a pair of skates – or like I did, use one that hasn’t seen ice in years. Tie the top of the laces together for hanging. In the skates, place pine cones, pine branches, holly, berries, etc. to decorate. You can use real or those found in craft stores. Hang on a door. I place mine on the wall beside our entryway door.


 

Holiday Card

What’s a holiday without a personalized card by one of your favorite authors? Authors CD Hersh share their holiday wishes:

CDHersh-Card-1

 

Of course, as authors we love our readers, and we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to offer swag, free books, and a grand prize which was awarded to one lucky blog/newsletter follower!

Congratulations to our grand prize winner Brooke Patricia! Several other winners were chosen for free gift cards, books and prizes!

Grand Prize

Thank you to everyone for joining our Facebook Launch Party on November 19th!

If you missed the party, don’t worry! You can still enter giveaways and pre-order a copy of Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection by visiting and following the authors’ blogs! Follow the authors’ blogs for a sneak peek of this wonderful collection!