Cracked Open

Oceanside, CA. I miss you! Photo © Ev Bishop

I’ve just returned from a very restful, inspiring, sun-drenched, sand-filled, saltwater-soaked vacation in Newport Beach, California.

I loved playing in the white sand that was hot under my feet. I adored wearing flip-flops as I tripped along the boardwalk, knowing friends and co-workers back home were in their winter gear, suffering fresh snow and below freezing temperatures. (Sorry guys!) And it was very special to spend do-nothing-but-have-fun family time with my husband, nieces, sister, stepmom, and daughter. The biggest impact of the trip, however, came from the ocean.

I was amazed by her. Awed.

Obviously, living where I do, I’m already familiar with the Pacific—but let me tell you: her waters are very different up in northern British Columbia than they are in southern California.

I spent a lot of time playing in the surf, being knocked down and getting up again, being dragged back into deeper water as the ocean readied to send another wave, and, most fun of all, swimming out over my head, beyond the crash line, where even the hugest waves were just starting as rolling swells. Above me, the sky was so blue and just . . . huge. And all around me, as far as my eye could see, was water. Since it’s California’s “winter” too, there weren’t a lot of locals in the water. Sometimes, for hours, I was the only one.

And maybe it was the salt pulling things out of me, the same way soaking in Epsom salts releases toxins. Or maybe it was because it was the first time in far, far too long where I didn’t have anywhere to go specifically or anyone I had to see, and my mind was deliciously free and uncluttered. Or perhaps it was the sounds of the ocean working to bring the tide in or out, the sea birds calling and swooping about, blotting out any noise in my head . . . But whatever the reason or combination of reasons, something deep inside me cracked open, and I had one of those strange epiphanies, where you can see so clearly where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you want to go next.

Sometimes it’s easy to lie to ourselves, to make excuses for why we’re standing still instead of moving forward, to justify our reasons for sticking with things that are no longer a good fit.

I found that out there, salt-crusted, saturated and awed by the unmitigated power, depth and magnitude of the ocean, it was impossible to be false with myself. I might as well have tried to keep the surf from crashing, or the sand from pulling away beneath my feet in the after effects of the waves. But it wasn’t a negative or self-condemning sort of feeling. I didn’t beat myself up for work not done or goals not accomplished. And it wasn’t merely a giddy, momentary flash of newfound enthusiasm (though I did feel those lovely bursts too). The feeling was a deep sense of readiness, of quiet resolution and surety. A sense that change is coming, and instead of fighting it or being afraid of it, I was going to welcome it and move with it.

I kept waking up my first couple of nights home because I missed the sound of the surf—and I’d only been away eight days. I’ve carried the decision I arrived at in the waves with me, however, and while my suntan’s receding, my resolve hasn’t waned.

I’ll be making some exciting announcements the next two months or so. In the meantime, if you can somehow sneak away to a beach—ocean, river or lakeside—to do some thinking and dreaming, I highly recommend it.

So good for what, if anything, ails you. Photo © Ev Bishop

Author’s Note: I have NOT just returned from a sunny beach vacation, but a photo from the 2015 trip I shared about above just popped up as a FaceBook Memory, plus showed on my website as a “past post you might enjoy.” I can take a hint! I do need to have some ocean time again soon, but for now, this was a good reminder and refresher. . . ahhhh!

And the bit about “having exciting announcements to make in the next few months” is absolutely current too! Stay tuned for a big reveal on April 1st—no fooling!)

Can’t get away for a soak in the sea right now, but still craving a little escape? Look no further than INVINCIBLE SECRETS, a 9-novel set brought to you by me and 8 other bestselling, award-winning Authors’ Billboard authors. Book your getaway now! JUST .99 or FREE on KU.

Diana Gabaldon and me

Is there someone in your life who made a huge difference even though you’ve never been introduced? Well, I have and her name is Diana Gabaldon.

Photo courtesy Variety – Terrence Patrick

How did she impact my life on such a grand scale? It started with a gift. My eldest daughter gave me a paperback book for Christmas. On it was a little handwritten tag. ‘The story of the most perfect man in the world.’ Yup. Outlander, the story of a time traveler and the man she fell in love with.

The story reignited my fascination with time travel that H.G. Wells had lit when I was a teenager. When checking her website to see if she had more books, I noticed we were born the same year and both attended the same university at the same time. I wondered if she had endured the same jerk I had for Freshman English. Until he came into my life, I loved writing. What stuck with me, though, was her declaration that if you love to write, WRITE!
My passion to create stories had returned. What would happen if I fell into Outlander? I couldn’t get that idea out of my head. Little themes kept sprinting through my head, twisting through forests of elaborate scenarios, bumping into encounters between her fictional characters and mine.
So, overcoming the literary passion-gutting of my Western Literature professor at NAU thirty years earlier, I started to write again. Working full time and with a daughter in school, all I had were late nights and stolen moments for my new obsession. Of course, I couldn’t use Outlander, so I created a different fictional time travel story. The premise remained the same, though: an older woman is rejuvenated and awakes in a different time, interacting with fictional characters from her favorite romance novel.
I didn’t publish anything for a long time, but I did keep writing. Did I even want to be published? Well, sort of. I wanted my novels to be available to my daughters and granddaughter (no male heirs). Being published had to be the best way to do that. Photocopies and journals were easily lost. Searching library systems for Nana’s name would be easier.
I had four books written before I published my first one. The first two in the series still weren’t ready to be shared and I knew it. I cringe when I look back at my early drafts. But you know what? The passion kept me going. Now if I reread my stories, I smile with pride. I didn’t give up. I didn’t think I’d ever finish that first book (now free), Naked in the Winter Wind but I did. Right now, I’m working on number thirty-one. Take that, NAU Professor!

No matter who inspires you, take that kernel of desire and work toward your dream, revel in your passion. Do no harm and be respectful, and who knows, maybe you’ll be an inspiration to others, too!
Thanks, Diana!

Love living the life of the rich and famous but without the debt or paparazzi? Check out ALL THAT GLITTERS: GLITZ, GLAM, AND BILLIONAIRES. See if your Mr. Marvelous is in here.

Seasonal Changes And Genre Swapping #MGTAB

While we step into Autumn and adjust to its whims, I’m reminded of the changes a busy author can embrace or forgo, when it comes to her writing.

For those of you who don’t know me, I began my professional writing career penning within the romance/humor genre around 2010. My first successful novel Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems began as a journal I’d been keeping when I was contemplating entering a relationship with a possible boyfriend. Originally I’d thought to publish the story as a nonfiction piece, until a workshop leader at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference suggested I present the story as fictionalized nonfiction.

Many months later, and after my marriage to Joe, I self-published Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems which won several prestigious awards, and for that I remain humbled and grateful. Although I soon penned a sequel called The Sugar Ticket, unbeknownst to me, my muse was about to turn traitor and venture into uncharted territory.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G767LJY

“From the award winning Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, the beloved Cindy and Jay DeMatteo return in the sequel The Sugar Ticket, a tale that chronicles their marital journey as they attempt to alleviate a sour past and embrace a sweeter future together. Enjoy their light-hearted humor and occasional rants, while they meet their daily tribulations head on. Cheer them on as they face the most fundamental challenge of all: Staying in love forever.”

When I was invited to join the Author’s Billboard three years ago, the opportunity to work with these talented, award-winning, bestselling novelists presented the opportunity to embellish my RomCom comfort zone, and explore other avenues such as suspense, mystery, and sexual innuendo. However, the comedian that encompasses sixty percent of my muse continued to insert hints of humor into all of its endeavors, while taking chances on genre swapping – which according to many in the writing industry claim is a big no-no, and confuses a reader’s fan base.

Example: Turning Up the Heat – A genre switcheroo and FREE this weekend:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075L4FSWL

“Mark and Malibu are happily headed towards matrimony, until an old adversary sabotages their plans with a devious scheme. TURNING UP THE HEAT has the perfect recipe for every reader’s taste. With Romance as the main ingredient, add a pinch of Suspense and a dash of Mystery for an Unforgettable Main Course that’s sure to satisfy your reading hunger.”

So, my point is when an author sticks with her dynamic and original genre of choice, the success rate of her series/novels is probably greater than mine, and well deserved. I may be a ‘genre-hopper’, but at the end of the day, I’m still penning comedy in all of my stories, whatever their current label, and having fun doing it, too.

Speaking of dynamic reads, catch up on one of our Christmas collections, to put you in the mood for the Holidays. Sweet and Sassy Christmas – A Time for Romance –

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076GBDV98

“Some are Sweet and some are Sassy. Eleven holiday romances to captivate and seduce. NYT & USA Today bestselling authors have joined together to bring you tales from early America, abandoned puppies, military heroes, doctors and more. Get a warm drink, find a comfy seat, and enjoy an armchair cruise into the world of Christmas lovers and their unique stories.”

Oh, and if you haven’t already taken advantage of The Author’s Billboard Contest, please do so – We’re giving away Gift Cards, eBooks and other prizes! Just click on this link to enter: http://authorsbillboard.com

Happy Autumn, Everyone!

Glass Gems in a Teacup – Memory Aids

For all of us, there are certain things you need to do each day. As you get old, or just really busy, and the days start melding together, some things become so automatic that you can’t remember if you did them or not. One of these things is getting enough water to drink. If you don’t have enough water in you to hydrate your body, you get deep wrinkles and dehydrate. It’s one of the reason old people look so old. Coffee and tea actually rob the body of water, so you can’t count cups of tea as water. Even fruit juice doesn’t hydrate as well as plain water.

I found that when I got to the end of a day, I didn’t know if I had drunk more than two or three glasses of water. When I didn’t drink enough, I’d get terrible cramps in my legs during the night. I tried a checklist, but would forget to check it off. Finally I devised a system that worked well for me. See if you like it. I use it to keep track of other things too. You might want to show this idea to your elderly relatives, who tend to forget things that have become routine.

I bought clear flat glass gems from the craft store, the kind used in flower arrangements. Depending upon the size of your water glass, you will want 6 or 8 of these. I prefer the flat gems to regular round marbles, as they don’t roll off the counter. Also the clear gems remind me of water, so I know what they are for.

Next get a small container, like a teacup, and something to put under it, like a candy tray, small basket, or a large saucer. Since this is going to sit out on your counter, you want something pretty that looks like a work of art. Here are some sample containers.

When you finish drinking a glass of water, toss a gem into the cup and refill your glass with water. Set the full glass beside your counting display. When you’ve drunk that water, you toss in another clear glass gem.

I have other glass gems that are colored that I use to indicate when I’ve taken my vitamins or done some exercise.

A small slip of paper in the cup reminds me of what color I use for each thing.

The next morning, dump out all the gems and start over again. This is fun and easy to do and keeps you from looking around for a pencil every time something needs to be checked off. A full cup of gems in the early morning means you haven’t had any water so far that day, and is a better reminder than a piece of paper with a checklist on it.

Let me know if this idea works for you.

In one of my pioneer Trahern books, Ruth Trahern knew she wasn’t “The Prettiest Girl in the Land,” but she wanted a husband, and set out with her rifle and a stray dog to find one. Ruth could take numbers and make them dance. She figured there must be some jobs for a woman who could calculate in her head, so left the Tennessee mountains to find a job which would take her to California, where she hoped to find her a man. This book is free on Friday, May 31. .