Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One Writer's 2014 Year Review

Let's be honest here. I make a list of goals every year. It's that New Year's tradition thing. Since I usually make an incredibly long list of impossible goals for myself, at the beginning of 2014 I decided to go easy on myself. My goal was to write 1000 words a day. This seemed doable since my writing days typically concluded with 2000 words.

However, the trouble I encounter each year is that I don't write every day. This year was no different. I'm a sporadic writer. I write great chunks for many days in a row and then a few weeks go by with nothing. There are many factors involved here...family and my own mind being the biggest two. I have 3 small children and a husband who worked a job that took him away from home for months at a time. Essentially, I was a single mother who occasionally lacks self-confidence as a writer. This is no excuse, I know. Many writers are in the same situation. Many succeed and many fail. I always feel that I fall somewhere in between.

This year, I've decided to look back on my year and celebrate my accomplishments. And for the benefit of other writers who share similar struggles, I'm going to share these with you.

Writing Accomplishments

For 2014, I created a new word count spreadsheet that I did my best to follow on my writing days. For the most part, I believe I did a good job recording my results although I know there were quite a few days where I fiddled around with a story and didn't bother to write the numbers down. This is something I want to improve on for 2015.

New Stories Started in 2014
  1. Contemporary Holiday Romance =7993 (completed)
  2. Paranormal Romance w/zombies = 65,317 (completed)
  3. Paranormal Romance w/aliens = 7329 (unfinished)
  4. Urban Fantasy w/zombies = 12,088 (unfinished)
Older Stories Worked on in 2014
  1. Historical Paranormal Romance w/ghosts = 12,160 (unfinished)
  2.  WWII romance = 2142 (unfinished)
  3. Historical Paranormal Romance w/witches (The Merriweather Witches: Book 5) = Sadly, this one I didn't keep track of since I jumped around in it so much.
That gives me a total of  107,029 of new words written in 2014. That's really not so bad. I'm happy with it though I did not succeed with my goal of writing 1k a day. Still, I've never kept a yearly word count total before so for my first year keeping track I think that's a good baseline to start.

But that's not the only writing I did this year. I also keep a dream journal where I write down all the strange dreams I have at night. Often, those dreams turn into stories themselves. And since this is the first year I transcribed my dreams onto my computer instead of a paper journal it was easy to add up what I wrote.

Dream Journal Word Count = 20,696

For a Grand Total of 127,725 original words written in 2014. Again, I'm pleased with this. That averages about 350 words a day. Far from my original goal, but considering I actually didn't write every day... Well, that's what I get.

What I did not add were the various blog posts or guest blogs that I wrote for this year. I could easily add that to the count, but that's a different kind of writing for me and I feel it should be kept separate. I know other writers like to add those words in with their totals.

Publishing Accomplishments:

Book Published in 2014

I had a new release this year! In February, I celebrated the world-wide release of The Witch's Thief - Book 3 of The Merriweather Witches.


New Contract Signed!

I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for The Witch's Kiss - Book 4 of The Merriweather Witches in early 2014. Edits and revisions were completed over the summer and this book is now due for release sometime in early 2015.


Book signing

November 1st I attended my very first book signing! Thanks to my friend and fellow author Ash Krafton for talking me into it! I had great fun and hope to do more in the future!
Photos courtesy of Ash Krafton

Personal Events in 2014
  • My husband got a new job that gives him more time at home - as in every night home! We enjoy a lot more family time now which my children adore!
  • I'm an avid genealogist. Unfortunately, this contributes to time away from my writing, but I've managed to discover many new branches on my family tree this year. I also worked on scanning family photos onto the computer and recording memories for my children. This is extremely important to me. 
  • My grandmother passed away on October 15, 2014. She is dearly missed! After suffering several years from dementia, I know she's happily reunited with her daughter (my mother) and her parents whom she missed. I wanted to include this here because she was a very important part of my life.

  • I'm pregnant with my 4th child! This kind of explains why for about 3 months I didn't have the energy to write or read or even clean the house. My first trimester was very rough on me. For a while, I thought I was just extremely depressed until I found out I was pregnant. That explained the lack of energy! This was an unexpected pregnancy. Although I always wanted to have a 4th child, my husband and I had come to an agreement that we were done having more kids. I gave away my maternity clothes and a lot of the baby clothes that I had been keeping over the years (just in case!). My surprise bundle of joy startled me with a total burst of shock and happiness! And it's a boy! He's due in April 2015! Now if only my husband and I can agree on a name...

So that's my year in a short blog post. In the next few days I'm going join a mass of other writers in declaring my goals and resolutions for 2015. Hopefully, I'll keep a better track record for myself during the year so I can post my accomplishments for next year! 

I'd love to hear about your writing, publishing or personal accomplishments as well! It's great to share good news!  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Spotlight ~ Rock Solid by @LisaOlech

by Lisa A. Olech

MAXIMO VEGA is a “rock” star! The media proclaimed him 'The Sculptor for the New Generation,' but he’s a reclusive artist ensnared by fame. Driven and intense, his isolation only adds to his mystique. Couple that with his smoldering good looks and rich Italian accent… Fans sigh his name.

EMILY BASKINS is a gifted graduate student at the Stoddard School of Art. To land an internship at the Vega Studio is her golden ticket. All she has to do is follow the rules. And stay out of trouble. Two things Emily has never been able to do.

As Max becomes trapped in the glare of the limelight, he discovers his greatest muse. He teaches Emily to breathe passion into clay and give marble a soul. But is their fiery relationship as rock solid as they believe? Or will a lie shatter the illusion?
Maximo Vega gathered his composure. He wore a black T-shirt, gray across the shoulders with dust, worn jeans, and heavy boots under a thick leather apron that reached to his knees. Hanging his head and bracing his hands on his hips, he was a study in frustration. The sleeves of his shirt hugged defined muscles of steely arms. And his hands…they were artist’s hands. Sculptor’s hands. Beaten by stone and scarred by tools. They spoke of years of rugged, blistering work.

He was tall. His shadowed jaw, rigid with anger, cut sharply against the tanned column of his neck. Maximo slapped the chisel on his leathered thigh. “I pay you. You find me good hands! Not idiota!”

“I’m sorry, Maximo. He’s gone. You’ll never have to work with him again.”


The great artist’s gaze slid over Emily. His eyes stopped at the white-knuckled hold she had on the large black portfolio.

He waved a hand toward her. “What are you?”

Emily’s throat slammed shut.

“A new intern possibly,” offered Dante. “She’s here from the Stoddard School of Art.”

Deep brown eyes the color of rich coffee, no cream, speared her beneath frowning brows. He flipped his hand toward the portfolio. “Come. Show me.”

Emily shot a look to Dante. He gave her a tiny nudge, like a parent pushing a frightened child toward Santa’s lap.

“Come, come, come.” He snatched the portfolio from her numb fingers, unzipped it and laid it open across a crowded worktable. He used the rag in his hand to wipe the sweat from his lip as he flipped through photos and sketches of her latest works.

“Nice. Hmm. No.” A nod for this one. A shake of the head for another. “Yes. This one is good. Good.”

He looked away from her sketches and gave her a hard stare before looking down the full length of her and back again in a slow appraisal. Emily released the breath she was holding.

“Let me see your hands.”

She held them out and he grasped her wrists and examined first her palms before turning them over. 

“Cold,” he said just loud enough for her to hear.

The smell of the heat of his body and the spice of soap drifted past her.


He lifted a quick eyebrow. “Good.”


Lisa A. Olech is an artist/writer living in her dream house nestled among the lakes in New England. She loves getting lost in a steamy book, finding the perfect pair of sexy shoes, and hearing the laughter of her men. Being an estrogen island in a sea of testosterone makes her queen. She believes in ghosts, silver linings, the power of a man in a tuxedo, and happy endings.
You can find her at:
www.lisaolech.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/Lisa.A.Olech.Writer, Twitter: www.twitter.com/LisaOlech

Friday, December 5, 2014

Book Spotlight ~ Dearest Darling by Andrea Downing @andidowning

Author:  Andrea Downing
Genre:  western historical romance
Publisher:  The Wild Rose Press

Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.
But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.
Excerpt: The mercantile was a marvel to her. A large store carrying about everything and anything someone could want out here. Barrels of apples, their perfume vying with the aroma of coffee. Rows of canned peaches and beans, brightly labeled. Bolts of fabrics and piles of overalls and blue jeans. Racks of handguns and rifles, cartons of ammunition. Rolls of chicken wire and shelves of implements, tools for farm and ranch and home. Jars of sweet candies and a stack of newspapers and books. Emily’s eyes were big with wonder and Daniel was rewarded to see it as she did, the color, the diversity, the spectacle, not just the practicality of things in a jam-packed shop with sawdust on the floor. And then he shook his head to remove the distractions, concentrate on the matter at hand.
“What can I do for you today, Dan? Not your usual day in town.”
His sideways glance caught Emily suppressing a smile.
“Dan?” she smirked.
He gulped a breath and ignored her. “Hey, Jason, how ya doin’? My cousin here is just out from New York, looking to make a new life. We wondered if there was any work going she might take up. And I do have a list, as usual.” He tried to put a cheerful, friendly note in his voice, something he was definitely not feeling.
The shopkeeper took the list and studied it, shaking his head. “No work as I know of. With summer coming, some things might open up. We always get folks moving in, mebbe starting up businesses, in summer. But nothing as yet. You might want to check back in a week or two. Or there’s the saloon. I heared Ben’s been looking for someone to clean up each morning, but whether you’d want your kin working there, well, that’s another matter.”
Emily stepped forward. “Where is it? The saloon?”
“No!” Damn woman. Daniel sucked in a breath. “You’re not working there,” he said more gently.
Jason’s gaze shot from one to the other. “’Course, I didn’t mean nothing by mentioning it. Mebbe shoulda kept my mouth shut.”
Daniel locked on Emily’s hard stare. Her anger was evident, but she stayed silent.
“Well. I’ll get this order together. Be about fifteen minutes. Can you wait?”
 “Sure thing,” Daniel said and grabbed Emily by the wrist. He dragged her outside after him, almost tossing her against the hitching rail.
“If it’s the only job?” She stomped her foot. “I don’t belong to you, you can’t tell me—”
“I can. And I am. You made yourself my responsibility...” They were shouting, and he lowered his voice, his gaze darting around. “You made yourself my responsibility the day you took those tickets and came out to me.” He let this sink in, reining in his own truculence. “You’re gonna do what I say, and I’ll make the dang decisions. You got that?” He waited for a response. “I said, do you understand?”
Emily crossed her arms. “You said, ‘you got that,’ not ‘do you understand.’” Smugness was written across her face, her lips a thin, tight line, her eyes round with the correction.
Daniel straightened. Then he laughed. And he laughed a little more. “Oh, heck.” He lifted his hat briefly, swept the hair out of his eyes, and set the hat back on his head. “How the hell did this happen to me?”
Bio:  Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born,  instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west.  Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest.   Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, another full length novel, comes out in February, 2015.

Links to Social Media:  WEBSITE AND BLOG:  http://andreadowning.com
Twitter:  @andidowning  https://twitter.com/AndiDowning
Linkedin:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=124888740&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic


Throughout Dearest Darling I cheered for Emily and Daniel, hoped they’d find resolution. Andrea Downing has outdone herself with this clever tale of crossed stars. Loved it, highly recommend it."  Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, award-winning author of The Dividing Season

"The romance was pitched perfectly, lots of "do I, don't I" moments, subtle looks and indecision that had me wanting to lock them in the bedroom until the sorted things out!

I loved the twists that appeared, they weren't obvious or expected. These led to a fantastic ending that left me satisfied with the story. That takes a lot of skill to pull of in just 26,000 words…

Overall I found this novella to be an adorable story and get away from life for a little while. It was an easy read to boot, allowing the reader to get straight to the story. Despite its short length, Dearest Darling had well drawn characters and a plot that felt complete and finished.

I give this a 5 for being a good all rounder."  --Laura of Lurking reads