5 Simple Tips for Squeezing Writing Into Your Everyday Life

There are a thousand things that fill up a day. Some are wonderful, like time with family and friends. Some activities aren't so fun, like paying bills or doing the laundry. In the midst of so much to do, how do you find time to write? Below, I offer 5 simple tips for squeezing writing into your everyday life. Give them a try. In time, you will find yourself with a completed manuscript or a pile of blog posts and a little closer to whatever writing goal you want to achieve.

1. Write something everyday. It may not seem like much, but over time a little turns into a lot and one day you will have a finished first draft.

2. Don't wait for inspiration to strike. It's too unpredictable. When it does strike use it, but for all the times it doesn't, write anyway. Writing is the best way to create inspiration.

3. Make writing a priority. If you don't, no one else will.

4. In order to make writing a priority, you may have to sacrifice other things to the writing gods, like a spotless house or perfectly prepared dinners. Save the housework for when you are really stuck on a plot point and need to step away from the story and let it percolate in your subconscious.

5. Speaking of perfectly prepared, don't strive for perfection, strive for words on the paper. First drafts are rarely pretty, don't expect yours to be any different, just expect it to be done. You can always edit later, but that is another post for another time.

Fun with PicMonkey

I learned about PicMonkey during a workshop at the RWA 2014 conference in San Antonio. It's an on-line photo editing site that is super easy to use. I wish I'd known about it a long time ago.

I've been playing around with it a lot lately and I love the program. Right now, I'm using the free version to create graphics for Facebook to promote the release of my next novel, The Courtesan's Book of Secrets.


The program is one of the easiest photo editing ones I've ever used, and there is a lot that can be done with it. Also, the site offers great tutorials on all its features. I used the tutorial to figure out how to overlay one photo on top of another. The program also offers templates so you can create Facebook banners and other items. I'm no graphics whiz yet, but the more I play around with the program, the better I'm getting.

The free version is great. It does what I want it to do and I don't mind the little ads at the bottom. In the future, as I get more comfortable with the program I may upgrade and pay, but for now the free version works well. I'm having fun using it to create title pictures for blog posts and fun pictures to post on Facebook.

If you haven't checked out PicMonkey, then I suggest you do. It is a lot of fun and a great program.

The Glorious Twelfth of August

Labor Day is almost upon us, which mean so is the end of summer. Any kids haven't already started the new school year will definitely do so the day after Labor Day. No more carefree days of swimming in the pool, lying out in the grass and goofing off. It will be back to work for the kiddies and for some of us parents too.

In Regency England, the end of summer was August 12th, known as the Glorious Twelfth of August. Parliament closed up shop, and the fashionable haut ton removed the knockers from their front doors, packed up their carriages and headed for their country estates. Just as no one wanted to miss the season in London, which began with the opening of Parliament in the spring, no one wanted to be caught dead in London once the season was over.

The reason for this mass exodus from the city was the start of grouse hunting season. After a busy spring and summer of serving in parliament, or enjoying the less legislative delights of London, a gentleman looked forward to shooting birds, going fox hunting and a little well deserved time off. He also needed to spend some time overseeing his estate and attending to the many other duties which came with being lord of the manor.

For the ladies, the end of the season meant a break from the endless round of parties and social events in London. It also provided a little rest from the whirlwind of the London marriage mart. Mothers ventured back to country either happy that their daughter's future was settled, or frustrated that yet another year had passed without a marriage proposal.

For both men and women, social activities didn't end with the move to the country, but their focus shifted from more urban events to more country and family centered ones. The men would hunt, both sexes would ride, and friends and family would come for extended visits. All too soon, the Christmas season would usher in another round of dinners, parties and dances. Then, during the long days of winter, everyone would plan for their next season in London and the delights which awaited them.

Two hundred years ago, the end of summer meant the end of the hustle and the bustle. In the cold days of autumn and winter, people would enjoy the great outdoors, carefree days of walking the grounds and riding a horse, and the warm comfort of a comfy chair by the fire.

The First Social Network

October 24, 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental telegraph. The completion of the line meant that for the first time in history people could communicate and information could be transmitted instantly over thousands of miles. The telegraph changed the way the world did business and how people interacted with each other. Criminals who'd hopped the first train out of town could now be caught by wiring the police at the next stop. The way the stock market worked changed as brokers, investors and bankers all had access to real time market updates. News that used to take weeks to cross the country, or the oceans was now available as fast a telegraph operator could tap it out. 

On the heels of the business, news and law enforcement employment of the telegraph came the social use of such quick communication. The first "chat rooms" sprang up between different telegraph offices, and the operators forged lifelong long distance friendships. Many of the operators manning the more rural stations were women. They also communicated with other operators and sometimes they fell in love. One or two even got married "on-line" and novels were written about love on the wires.

So, if you're near a computer this week or updating your Facebook page, take a moment to stop and think about the pioneers who created the first social network. If you happen to be on Facebook this Friday, August 15th between 9am and 10am Pacific, why not join me at the Risky Business Facebook Party?

I'll be chatting with guests and giving away a great Harlequin prize pack including my upcoming release, The Courtesan's Book of Secrets and other great Harlequin stuff, including fluffy red Harlequin socks. They are so comfortable. If you're interested in joining me, follow the link below to sign up.


I hope to see you Friday!

Things I learned on the way to the Regency.

I love reading non-fiction history, which is a good thing since I have to do a lot of research when I write my novels. Right now, my focus is Regency England, the era of Jane Austen, Waterloo, Trafalgar, Napoleon, Byron and Empire waistlines. I love picking up interesting facts and tidbits from this time period.  Today, I thought I'd share some of those facts about the Regency, especially in regards to medicine. Here are a few of my favorite discoveries.

- Nitrous Oxide - Discovered in 1775 by Joseph Priestley and used by Dr. Humphry Davy in the late 1700s and early 1800s to get high. Dr. Davy suggested its use as an aid to surgery but no one picked up on the idea until the 1840s.

- Maternity Hospitals - They've been around longer than you think. Lying-in hospitals as they were originally known, began to appear in London in the mid-seventeenth century. The Queen Charlotte Maternity Hospital began its life in the early seventeenth century as the General Lying-In Hospital. It was renamed the Queen Charlotte Maternity Hospital in 1813 in honor of the Queen's generous patronage.

- Surgeons - By the Regency, improvements in surgical techniques and practices increased the reputation of surgeons. No longer viewed a simply barber butchers, they became a part of the established medical system, receiving and contributing to formal medical education.

- Antiseptics - Dr. Davy joins us again, this time as one of many scientists working to define the newly discovered iodine. Although people understood that vinegar, wine and thyme could stop wounds from becoming infected, the lack of germ theory prevented the widespread use of antiseptics until the late nineteenth century.

After discovering the above, I am once again very thankful for modern medicine.

If you're interested in the Regency era, my Regency romance Lady's Wager is currently on sale on Amazon for Kindle for $.99. Please check it out and have a great week!

Surviving Conference Week

Tips for Surviving a Conference      

Last week, I attended the Romance Writers of America annual conference in San Antonio. This is the second RWA conference I’ve attended. After an exciting week of meeting people, attending workshops and partying with publishers, I came home happy and exhausted. I also returned with a few tips to share with you about surviving a conference week.

1)      Pace yourself. You can’t do everything, so don’t try. Do what interests you the most and if you have to miss something, like a workshop, try and find someone you know who is attending it who can share their notes. You’ll get the highlights without stressing out about being everywhere at once.

2)  Sleep. You will have a long day at conference and then stay up late talking with your roommate and going to parties. Then you will get up early again the next day and do it all over again. Try and get as much sleep as you can, and don’t be afraid to go back to your room between events for down time.   

3)      Eat. Don’t let your energy wane by getting hungry. Caffeine can only carry you so far and it is hard to have fun when your stomach is growling. Pack healthy snacks and carry them in your purse to keep you going between meals.

4)      Network. Conference is all about meeting people so don’t be afraid to speak with someone in the elevator, or sit next to a stranger at lunch. You are all there because you have something in common. Talk about it, have fun and make some new friends.

5)      Business cards. Take any offered and pass yours out. No one can remember everyone they meet, but a business card with or without something written on the back can help.

6)      Learn. Everyone there has a slightly different experience than you, or perhaps experience you don’t have. Talk to them and learn from them then share what you know.

7)      Don’t overindulge. Depending on the conference, there may be events with alcohol. Remember, this is a professional event so you don’t want to be the sloppy drunk.

8)      Dress the part. This year I packed only dresses. It made getting dressed in the morning easy because I didn’t have to coordinate anything. They also helped me to look professional and well put together. I also packed flat but stylish shoes. You are on your feet a lot at conference so you have to be comfortable.

9)      Have fun! If you are in a new city do some sightseeing. Get together with friends, both old and new, and go to dinner. Smile and enjoy yourself. You will make a lot of great memories and be fired up to use what you’ve learned once you get home.

I hope these tips help you get through a conference week. I would love to hear about some of your suggestions. Leave them in the comments below!

4th of July Films

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy the great weather. Are you looking for a few good films to get you in the patriotic mood? Or maybe you just want something to watch while you relax after the BBQ and fireworks. Look no further. Here is a list of films for you to check out during the long weekend, so grab some popcorn, heat up a hot dog and enjoy!

The Patriot
I really enjoyed this film. Jason Isaacs is a great bad guy and Mel Gibson is a hero to root for. In many ways it is Braveheart set in America but it is still a great film.

A much gritter depiction of Revolutionary America, but that's what you expect from a movie staring 
Al Pacino.

John Adams
Are you stuck at home sick and need a marathon to help you celebrate the 4th? This is the mini-series for you. An excellent portrayal of one of the founding fathers by Paul Giamatti.

The Crossing
Jeff Daniels stars as George Washington in this film about the Battle of Trenton and the famous crossing of the Delaware River. 

Jefferson In Paris
Looking for something a little different? Do you love Merchant Ivory films? I do. This beautifully shot movie deals with Thomas Jefferson's time in Paris as the French Ambassador. It isn't exactly Revolutionary War but it is a gorgeous film.

Have a Happy 4th of July everyone!

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