Growing Up and Moving On by Stacy Eaton

Thirteen years ago, I sat in the high school gymnasium and watched my son cross the stage for his diploma. I remember sitting there thinking about the day that his sister would do it too. It seemed like it would be forever and a day before my sweet little girl was crossing over that stage. This past week, that forever and a day occurred, and my daughter graduated.

My son went on to join the Navy, and now has a devoted wife and two beautiful children. I haven’t seen him since the pandemic hit, and I have yet to meet my granddaughter in person, but that is coming very soon.

With my daughter graduating, I find myself rather reflective these days. I guess that is natural to think back on those earlier days when they were young. As much as I wish I could stop time, I know I can’t and I have had to recently undo the tight leash I had on my daughter so that she can now spread her wings and fly on her own soon. Now that high school is officially over, college is just around the corner and we are in full swing of preparing for that with orientation later this month.

With her heading off in August, that leaves the nest empty, and I’m not sure exactly how to feel about that. It will be a new world where it’s just my husband and me on a daily basis. It’s a good thing that we like each other. For thirty-one years I have had a child under my roof, and now that will change.

But that’s okay. Like I wanted my son to succeed, I can only dream of what my daughter will achieve, and hope that she will find everything she has ever dreamed to have.

I guess with her gone, I’ll have more time to write, and I look forward to putting more of myself into my work. One of the books that I’ll be working on is Mission: Courage. It is the fourth book in the Rise Again Warrior Series. A series that is emotional and intense and deals with what our military service members go through once they return from war.

To find out more about the series, visit my website!

Personal Development by @AngelaStevens13

Lately, I have been focusing on personal development in my art work, expanding my skills, and really trying to extend myself. I invested heavily in some amazing tutorials and the payoff has been phenomenal. I am now exploring much more complicated scenes and am finally coming to grips with digital painting and overpainting, which I have been wanting to learn for years. Here is my first ‘painted from scratch’ effort.

Ladybug Angela Stevens
It’s no Rembrandt, but I’m loving it! And the added bonus is that my personal development quest is keeping me sane during a major writing slump. 

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

The lack of motivation and inspiration for my writing started as a niggle, manifesting as fewer words per day, then missed writing days, which turned into missed writing weeks, and now sadly, missed writing months! I no longer wake up, grab my laptop, and start writing before I have had my first cup of tea. It’s frustrating and I’m not sure how to make it come back. I started to beat myself up over it, and even made myself sit at the computer and stare at the screen for hours on end. ‘I don’t believe in writer’s block; this is a discipline thing,’ I said to my apathetic self, but shaming didn’t help either. 

So, I tried distraction in the form of digital art tutorials. If I couldn’t be creative in one way, then perhaps I could in another. What do they say, every cloud has a silver lining? Or was it more about, making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Either way, I shifted my mindset. ‘I can’t write’ became ‘I am taking a break to work on personal development.’ 

It still sucked that I was not putting pen to paper, but I was being kinder to myself, and it convinced my internal demons that I wasn’t wasting time.

Just When I Wasn’t Looking

A few weeks ago, I was looking at the book covers on a fantasy series of mine that has been out a while. It is under my Sadie Collins pen name, and book 1, The Wolf You Feed, was the second book I ever wrote. I have always wanted to have more illustrative covers for this series, so as part of my writing procrastination personal development, I decided to finally tackle this and create new art work for the books. The plan was to let my imagination run wild and create a scene out of each book.

Here is the one I created for the first book. It depicts Tore, the central character, meeting with his father, the old school, austere, Lycan clan leader.

Personal Development Angela Stevens
Boy did I have fun! I spent way too much time on these, but in my defense, there are 6 books in total in the series, and then two boxed sets, so almost two weeks building each of the core scenes wasn’t so bad. They look so pretty, and I’ve finally uploaded them to Amazon! 

Vargr Clan Series

A Glimmer of Hope

While creating these scenes, I remembered that a couple of years ago, I’d started a seventh book for the series. Deadlines for other books, and a heavier emphasis on my romance stories, meant the book was pushed aside and forgotten. Curiosity got the better of me and I dug it out of my files. Maybe there was enough there for a short story that I could put on my website.

I was surprised to find that I had 50 thousand words. Hmm, not a short story then. Honestly, I was astounded that I had put the thing away with so much of it written. Before I knew it, the day had passed and I’d read through the whole lot. Then something happened… I began typing. A couple of days later, I had written a new chapter. It was like pulling teeth, slow and painful, and I really didn’t want to do it, but it was a chapter. A few days after that there were several more chapters. 

I’m proud to say, I finished the story… all 82 thousand words of it.

It was not plain sailing; in fact, it was quite the struggle. I really had to push myself to get there, and I can’t say I enjoyed the process. There was a lot of deleting, a fair bit of soul searching, and more than once, I stared at the blank page for hours on end before giving up for the day. But I did finish, and I am now knee-deep in the editing process. 

My writing slump isn’t over yet, far from it. I still can’t get myself to start something new, but I have finished drafting this book, and I have set myself a deadline to get it published. The pre-order goes live Sept 1st, so I have to get all the editing done. It is a glimmer of hope, and I am calling that a win–albeit a tiny one.
  

Blood Ties Angela Stevens

Learned A New Skill

This last book is called Blood Ties, and the opening scene involves my skinwalker warriors hunting an escaped mishipeshu, a mythical creature that is part panther with dragon scales on its back. It has a serpent-like tail and a mane of black feathers, oh… and horns. A kind of Heinz 57 type creature. Needless to say, Deposit Photos was decidedly lacking in photographs of such animals. Okay, no problem.  I could create my own fantastical creature. I am tickled pink how well it turned out. Below is the mishipeshu that appears on book 7’s cover.

Mishipeshu Angela Stevens

So the moral of the story? Personal development is not writing procrastination; it is exercising my creativity, and it’s well worth the investment. It might not have rid me of my writer’s block, but I am one step closer to finding my way back. I’m just hoping the second step comes soon.

A Visit to Istanbul and Ephesus

My first trip to Turkey took place in the nineties. We stayed at the Hilton on the Bosphorus, also known as the Strait of Istanbul. This narrow, natural waterway located in northwestern Turkey forms a continental boundary between Europe and Asia.

Breakfast and lunch in Istanbul consisted of baklava, kadaifi, loukoumi, and other delicious sweet pastry, accompanied by a bitter Turkish coffee.

This first picture shows a panoramic view of Istanbul with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia– a Byzantine Basilica that was transformed into a mosque.

We spent three days discovering the huge city on our own and took two guided tours to visit the palaces. Our first guide welcomed us on the modern tourist bus and casually asked if our room had a balcony. When I said, “Yes,” he replied, “Have you heard strange noises coming from the Strait at night? They are the late concubines’ sighs and moans.”

As we looked at him, confused, he explained that the Ottoman Empire was ruled by a Sultan. The Sultan’s mother, the Vadim Sultana was the most powerful woman in the empire and the only one not wearing a veil. She was in charge of his harem. The Sultan’s first wife was the kadin and her first son the heir to the throne. Having accomplished his royal duty, the Sultan indulged in as many concubines as he wanted — often more than a hundred. Most were foreign beauties captured as slaves. When a Sultan died, the new ruler made space for his own harem by getting rid of the former group of concubines. The women were shoved into sacks weighed down with heavy stones and tied with ropes, and then thrown into the Bosphorus, screaming and crying. I couldn’t sleep well that night.

Here are pictures from the Topkapi Palace.

The Topkapi Walls

One of my favorite memories of Istanbul was my two-day visit to the Grand Bazar where I bought several souvenirs: a hand-made bedside rug with the tree of life, a copper pitcher, and small Turkish coffee pot called kanaka, and others…

I never went back to Istanbul, although we booked a cruise in 2016 that included this unique city, the ship canceled the stop because of unrest at the time. Instead we docked in Kusadasi that we have already visited.

The highlight of Kusadasi included a guided tour to the historical city of Ephesus where we saw the ruins of the Library of Celsus, the temples of Domitian and Hadrian, the Great Theater, and the temple of Artemis, the multi-breasted goddess of fertility. St. Paul preached against her shrine, and wrote his Letters to the Ephesians there.

St. John the Evangelist wrote his Gospel in Ephesus. Tradition says that the Virgin Mary and John lived in Ephesus during their final years.

The day in Kusadasi ended with shopping and a break at a café for coffee and pastries.

I didn’t write any book set in Turkey yet. Maybe some day… But I would like to offer you two romance novels I particularly love:

LOVE in the ER In the past, her work in the ER brought her pain and frustration. Can it bring her love and a needed closure now?
LOVE on the SLOPES: Gabriella hides her pain and limp. Dr. Nathan saves her from a ski accident and dates her. Can he win her love and rebuild her knee?
IRRESISTIBLE – SPRING INTO LOVE
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SWFH93Y
International: https://books2read.com/IrresistibleSpring
Love at First Sight… Your eyes meet, and just like that, you know that you might have met THE ONE.
SPRING INTO LOVE with STEAMY STORIES From New York Times & USA Today Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors.
UNFORGETTABLE LOVERS
Nine incredible tales – from Sweet to Spicy – for your pleasure. Read about the UNFORGETTABLE LOVERS you want & need in your own life. http://mybook.to/unforgettableloverz

How Baking is like Writing #WritingTips #writingcommunity #amwriting @jacqbiggar @mimisgang1

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Do you like to bake?

I’ve had my share of ups and downs when it comes to the world of cooking. It’s long been a standing joke in my family that all they have to do is follow the smoke to our house and they’d know I was cooking.

And the thing is, I actually kinda, sorta, enjoy working in the kitchen.

There’s nothing better than the aroma of fresh baked bread, or peanut butter cookies, or chocolate cake, or…well, you get the idea.

I always connect those aromas to my childhood. We walked home from school and never thought twice about seeing my mom busy baking for the family. Often, there would be warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies on the counter waiting for our grubby little fingers, a roast in the oven tempting our taste buds, and a welcoming smile on her rosy cheeks.

She made it look so easy.

Then I grew up and realized just how much work went into those tasty treats we took for granted. My efforts were much more like Lucy’s:

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this.

I equate baking to writing.

How, you say?

Some people are naturals. Anything they put on the page comes out sounding fresh and entertaining—perfect.

IMG_2728

But when you cut into the heart of it, the center may seem underdone, lacking in flavor—mediocre.

How do we overcome this to become true culinary chefs in our writing instead of merely cooks?

Maybe if Lucy had admitted to being overwhelmed, her boss might have offered her a few tips and a little guidance.

I’ve found the writing community to be kind and generous with information, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I think one of the things that helped me the most is my critique group. I belong to a local group of ladies who are invaluable. We meet once a month (pre-Covid) and share chapters by email the rest of the time. Their insights and editing have made my books shine!

You have to be a little bit brave. Just like when you put the ingredients of your baking together and nourish it to completion, you have to send them out to be consumed. Your book is waiting for hungry minds to give it a taste.

It’s not always easy taking criticism, and yet, it’s so rewarding when that pan comes out of the oven and your family’s eyes light up with joy.

If you never try, how will you know what you can accomplish?

Check out our new release coming June 1st!

IRRESISTIBLE – SHH…IT’S A SECRET BABY (Irresistible Romance Book 8)

International: https://books2read.com/IrresistibleShhItsASecretBaby

Recommend us on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/irresistible-shh-it-s-a-secret-baby-irresistible-romance-book-8-by-jacquie-biggar-and-jen-talty

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Shh…it’s a SECRET BABY…

Some parents would do anything for the sake of the kids they love.

Here’s your SPECIAL DELIVERY of SEVEN BRAND-NEW, NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED STEAMY STORIES from New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors.