Gratitude Practice

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My week, and subsequently my weekend, was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Anybody who has ever tried to run their own business, or who has to submit themselves to regular public scrutiny can probably relate pretty well to the way things went for me last week.

I had a few confidence shudders. A few squealing belts under my hood that wanted attention. Fortunately I have a pretty great support system. The mechanics of my life stepped in and told me what the trouble was, I listened to their expert advice, even if I didn’t want to pay what it cost in self-reflection. In the end, I chose the path of GET THE FUCK ON WITH IT.

After the tears and the fears started to wane enough to see a clear route, I stopped to reflect on gratitude. I see a therapist and she has me do this thing, which as it turns out is a pretty good thing – at least for me. That thing is writing down acknowledgments and gratitude. The acknowledgements are for the things I have done that day. Little pats on my back to myself, even for small things. Because face it, when you’re in a depression, or stressed and feel a bit like you’re failing – even small feats of organization, house-cleaning, or work can feel like mountains. And when you do big things you can sort of pat yourself on the back for, it helps lay a solid foundation for the direction you are headed. So–ALL GOOD STUFF!

The gratitude portion is just anything I am grateful for. It reminds me that no matter what I might be stressed about, or hurting from, or worried about, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes, on days that are rough, all I can manage is things like “easy access to telephones and email.” Among other little things that are actually quite important, like having enough food to eat and a roof over my head. Sometimes these things show up even on days that are a bonanza of good news, just because I remember a time when having those things was much harder.

Anyway, what I did was–instead of meditating on what didn’t go right–I meditated on what DID go right, or at least the parts of my day that were good. So here is what I posted on Facebook.

Good things that happened today – aka practicing gratitude:

-Will made me breakfast in bed. Then went out and got me pads and chocolate.
– Will and I got a little dressed up and looked pretty fly. Wore my new pendant Bridget made.
– Went to Baltimore, saw our friend Barry, had some of his spiced apple cider with caramel schnapps, got my fortune read, got some valuable feedback, enjoyed the Halloween decorations.
– Jade got to see two shows today thanks to Audrey. It makes my heart so happy when my friends are good to my babies
– The sky was amazing the whole way home from Baltimore.
– Stopped at Trader Joe’s and got some tasty food. An attractive woman with curly hair came up to me and flirted with me. She really digs my hair, and called me a silver fox and meowed at me. Lol
– We got home and my Hillary swag was here and I tried on my new shirt and it fit great and looks cute and Will complimented me several times. Kissed me and told me I’m cute.
– Amber sent me some sweet texts.
– Got a wonderful video from our granddaughter – who loves her little Halloween card we sent her.
– Will made me a Nasty Woman (see recipe further down my wall) – but used the cute highball glasses my sister gave me instead of a tumbler – which elevated the Nasty Womanness of the cocktail.

That’s a lot to be thankful for.

Red Archer & Raven Heights Radio

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When Erica asks if it’s been a year at the top of the program I kept thinking it hadn’t been that long, but it’s because we did a Christmas Special last year – which you should totally check out. It’s family friendly and done in the style of an old gumshoe radio drama.The Hound and the Hedgehog Part 1 & Part 2. I adapted a script from a short story William Hardy wrote for me as a present several holidays back. It really had been about a year since we talked Red August, though. I really need to get out to RHR more often!

In this most recent episode Erica asks me some interesting questions and I go on a bit a couple of times trying to find my footing about what I want to say. After the recording I thought, “Damn, I rambled too much.” But after listening to the episode, I felt a lot better because what ends up happening is you can hear that I’m working it out.

The topics range from how I do my Scottish related research, to what I think of Trigger Warnings, and where I get the material for my sexy scenes. Will talks about the editing process and has some other insights as well regarding love going from overwhelmingly passionate to more comfortable.

So, check out the latest episode of Raven Heights Radio – Neon Waxing Philosphical, Episode 178 – Reflecting on Red August, Introducing Red Archer

You can find out all of the places to order my books at www.hlbrooks.com.

 

 

Baltimore Book Festival Confessions 2016 – Part 2

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Last weekend I was a vendor at the Baltimore Book Festival in Maryland. I’m a Maryland resident and not too far from Baltimore, so I thought it would be a good book event to try out.

My most difficult task has not been the hours upon hours of making graphics, layout and design of the book cover, coming up with marketing, keeping up with social media, even writing the books, going to events and so forth. The most difficult part of this has been finding my audience. My book comes off as a YA at first glance. The female protagonist in Red August is sixteen at the beginning of the story. She’s fairly confident, but has her body issues. This isn’t a trope to me. This is a reflection of myself at about 13 years old, so I know there have to be others who can relate to that. The character is extremely hormonal and sexually interested. This is where I think I lose some of the more YA-oriented folks. They are looking for Twilight and I have given them Twilight, but with more adults, strong female characters of varying ages, and erotic scenes. Detailed erotic scenes. There is also the distracted thinking and judgment that comes with the hormones of adolescence as I recall them. Let’s not forget, this is a Paranormal Romance Adventure book, so besides adolescence in general for her hormones, there are other reasons. Reasons. Anyway, my hope was to come across some readers who I could maybe chat with, answers questions, and find the audience who wants my work. The book festival delivered in that way. Had I been in a section that was more dedicated to my genre, I think it would have been an even more successful endeavor. We were a jumble of genres and even had a beauty pageant table in our tent, for some reason.

When you enter the Tablers Tent you sign in and select your table. It’s a long bowling-alley style series of tents with tables along each side. I mention ways I felt this wasn’t the best set-up and could be improved in the other post. Just a little helpful feedback, not trying to be whiny about it. Anyway, we selected a table about middle of the alley. We were lucky enough to be right at a vent so we could enter and exit behind our table and weren’t literally walled in, being forced to use the exits at either end of the alley. Here you can see Will eating a quick lunch outside of our vent and in front of the Visitor’s Center.

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I want to just say that I really LOVED being so close to the Visitor’s Center, so I hope that it’s in the same spot next year.

Nearing the end of the day I really needed to get up and stretch, so I went for a quick walk to check out the event. It was quite a large event with booths surrounding the harbor. I also took a swing by the Maryland Romance Writers tent to listen to some of the panel talk about writing Romances. At the moment I was there the discussion was about researching history, how difficult it is to make sure you get everything correct with non-fictional characters, and what terrible things a writer’s browser might give up if ever forensically investigated by the FBI. All true things. I could relate to these ladies for sure. It would have been nice if their tent was closer to ours, but I was pretty excited to see the Red Emma’s tent right outside of ours. I would have liked to have spent part of the day in there!

The event was heavily attended, a real plus. It was nice weather, also a big plus. There were plenty of food and book vendors. Plenty of portable toilets. And the Tablers Tent looked looked as though all of the vendor tables were full. There were volunteers that were polite, helpful, and checked on us regularly and brought us water. They could relieve us at our table for a short while if need be. A long list of events and activities were posted throughout the event in the form of large signs. A nice big glossy map to give to attendees. A pretty good event rating overall in my opinion. I hope next year they try to attract book bloggers/vloggers and reviewers.

During the event we were seated next to Rosa Pryor-Trusty and her husband Shorty – who were just wonderful to talk to. It was nice to have some really funny, smart companions to chat with during the slower moments.

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This is a photo of Rosa and me after a long day. We still look like we could take on the world, don’t we? LOOK OUT WORLD!

I met a couple of other authors at the event as well, though I wish I’d had time to meet all of the other writers that were in my genre. Natasha Lane came down and stopped by my table and we talked shop – though I didn’t realize she was a fellow writer at the beginning of the conversation. I’m hoping that if I collect enough cards of nearby women authors we can have the occasional salon. One thing that has struck me about the other women authors I’ve met, is how important the writing is to them. How it’s something they have to do, like any art you are driven to make. There is also an edge of enthusiasm, that despite the odds being against us being able to make a living this way, that is inspiring.  Women supporting women achieving their dreams. We are stronger together.

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It was a long day, and I am grateful to have had Will’s help. I couldn’t do this stuff without him.

Celebrating Women

I will be a vendor at the Celebrating Women event in Prince George’s County at Marietta House Museum. I will have my novel and coloring book available.

Red August copies are $14.95, the coloring book is $8.99 – descriptions and photos at the end of this post.

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I’m lucky enough to know two other fantastic area women artists who will also be vending at the event, Bridget of BDevlinDesigns, and Mary of Scribbles In Stitches.

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The event is meant to showcase the talents of women artists and entrepreneurs.

From the website event page:

September 17th – 11am-6pm

Celebrate women of many talents – artists, and entrepreneurs.  Shop female owned food, wine and craft vendors.  View artists’ demonstrations and enjoy readings, plays, music and more. $5 per person entry – children 5 and under are free.

Please come by and support area artists and businesses!

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Red August Description.

What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? Or that the love of your life was something other than human? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl—even though she has been having disturbing and erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her bookish, charming father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her New York City apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, and the rambling Victorian house where he grew up. There she meets a wise woman with a gift for herbal medicine, the gentle old man who keeps the house in repair and the grounds thriving, and her new neighbor: an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who seems to know her better than she knows herself, and fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins to coax her feisty Scottish grandmother out of her self-imposed catatonia that a strange tale of werewolves and hunters emerges—one in which the man of her dreams may be her family’s oldest enemy—in this modern-day telling of the Red Riding Hood story.

 

Fairy Tale Fortnight Event and Giveaways

I posted a few posts back about an event by The Book Rat and A Backwards Story – Fairy Tale Fortnight.  It’s pretty much just an awesome online celebration of fairytales.  Please go by and see what they are featuring, which by the way includes some contests for free stuff.

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Which also includes a contest to give away five e-copies of my book Red August, which is coming out in August.

Go directly to that part of Fairy Tale Fortnight HERE.  That page features a Safe For Work excerpt from Red August that can only be found at the Fairy Tale Fortnight page.

Below is the book synopsis or blurb.

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Writing Process Stuffs

If you have suggestions and software you’re excited about, be sure to leave a message in the comments!  I want to know all about it!

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I was talking with a friend about some of the writing process stuff I do.  This was pertaining primarily to publishing novellas and novels.  There are a lot of great tools out there for writers and some of the software is technically advanced and helpful.

You can go old school and send out query letters to agents and publishers – you will need a copy of Writer’s Market.  Or, you can do what even some established authors are doing and switch to self-publishing. In recent years independent publishing has had quite the boom.  That’s pretty good for people who are anxious to just get their stuff out there or who don’t want to wait for replies or who are just sick of rejections.  But remember, publishing on your own has its own set of problems, too, as you will find in my friend’s blog HERE.

I am always curious about the processes of other people.  In the e-book version of  Water for Elephants there was an author Q&A that was wonderful.  So, in case anybody is interested in what my process is for novels it is very simple.

1 – I make a notebook.  In the case of Red August, I used a cheap composition notebook and decorated and made a pocket in the front.  I divided it into three sections for notes on all three books in the series.  This is helpful not only before writing the books, but during the editing process as well.

2 – I draw “props” that are in the story that might get complicated.  Like August’s wooden box that is full of treasures. So when I revisit the item later, I can be sure to remember all that is in the box and what it looked like.  I make family trees, so I can keep track of births, deaths and the years and ages people should be and the way they are related to each other.

3 – I write in Word.  Here are some links to the proper formatting of manuscripts:

http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/what-are-the-guidelines-for-formating-a-manuscript

4 – I give myself deadlines.

There is usually plenty of research that goes into writing a novel.  For me, there was a lot of time spent looking into original Red Riding Hood stories as well as werewolf lore and Celtic traditions.  If the piece is set in a specific era that has an atmosphere I want to convey, there is usually research related to that as well.

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Shenanigans in Publishing

I keep up with what’s going on in the self-publishing market, for obvious reasons (oy, with the research, can’t a girl just write something?) and I wanted to share THIS ARTICLE just because it’s the strangest article I’ve ever read.  At first I thought it was a satire article – in part because photo looks so staged and in part because…just…so.many.things.

Even as I’m about to post this, I double-checked to make sure it wasn’t the plot of a weekly evening soap opera.  An interesting read even if you aren’t in the book world.  But especially if you’re in the romance and erotica book world.  And also, anybody who follows Amazon and their shenanigans.

Can’t we all just play nice?

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