A Year of Enjoyment

I had a hard time titling this post, because the trips I’m discussing don’t fall under a single label. This fall I got to take 2 precious trips-small by other people’s standards but big to me-and I wanted to share that beauty with you.

Were they enjoyable? Of course! Relaxing? Definitely! But more than anything, they are precious memories that I savor as I attempt to calm the chaos in my life.

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The first was a trip to the Smoky Mountains-a girls’ trip, to be exact. I go every year with these particular women. Since we’re all authors, we write. We brainstorm. Talk shop. Share about our families, what’s going well and not so well.

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But we also play board games and laugh, which is good-I don’t laugh often enough. And we try to do something we’ve never done together before just for the sheer fun of doing it. This year we went to an Escape Room (and made it out with 20 minutes to spare!).

Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity
Marrying Mr. Darcy
Marrying Mr. Darcy

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As if that wasn’t fun enough, I also got to visit Cade’s Cove this year! I’ve been nearby before, but never made the trek over there. Absolutely gorgeous!

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Just a few weeks later, I went with my husband to a cabin on the lake for the weekend. We haven’t been away alone together in many years, so this was a very special treat.

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Its so wonderful to discover that after 20 years + we can still have interesting conversations, similar interests, and the ability to simply rest in each other’s presence. It was a quiet, reaffirming weekend.

What’s the most peaceful time you’ve had lately?

Dani

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WHAT I’M READING THIS MONTH

take-off-your-pants-cover

Writers Beware! This is a plotting method book that I’m trying to learn. I was already a plotter (so the pants were already long gone), so I’m hoping to add a little streamlining to my process. The book is quick, but not necessarily easy. If you’re interested in stepping up your plotting process, this book is perfect for you!

WHAT I’M WRITING THIS MONTH

I just turned in the proposal for my first Savannah Sisters trilogy, which will start next year with Harlequin Desire! I’ll be working on that, in addition to a short story that I hope to release next year.

Reining in the Billionaire, Dani Wade, Harlequin DesireThe start of my upcoming Kentucky Harrington brothers is now up for pre-order! Check it out on Amazon and B&N.

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A Year of…Movement

Making excuses burns ZERO calories per hour…

Fit is not a Destination, it’s a way of life…

I’ve often likened myself to a potato with legs. I’m not kidding. I’m simply a round woman in the middle, but my arms and legs are muscular and strong. Now I’m in my 40s and have fought several extensive health issues for more than a decade. It’s exhausting.

karate, exercise, active author, family
My son and I at one of our karate tests.

I started a karate class a year and a half ago, and proudly reached the level of green belt. I was finally making some headway when my husband got very sick last year and was diagnosed with Crohn’s after several hospital visits and a major surgery.

His care and juggling my family derailed me hard. If you’ve ever taken a break from exercise, you know how difficult it is to get started again. I’ve had quite a few starts and stops, but I have no excuse now not to be moving, except…it’s hard…and hot as Hades here in the South. But I determined to get moving, even if it was just a little at a time. I’m back in karate as often as my children’s commitments will allow (why do middle school football games have to be on Thursday nights??? And why must the band actually attend???). But I’m also doing a few other things:

  1. I have a very sedentary desk job. I used to try to stand for at least an hour per day and lift my keyboard/monitor with boxes. Then we got a new 2 monitor system with very short cords… But I’ve decided that even if I can’t stand for an hour, anything over 5 minutes is better than nothing. So anything that doesn’t require me to be staring at my computer screen is now a standing activity: opening mail, adding checks, checking batches… Some days it might only be 5 minutes, some days closer to 45, but its what I can manage without $500 for the type of standing desk that would lift 2 monitors.
Hoola hoop, exercise, active author
My custom Hoola Hoop!
  1. Hoola Hoop! Recently I got involved in a very unusual challenge. Some author friends and our kids went to a local art community and there was a woman selling hoola hoops. These weren’t just any hoops-they varied in weight and size so you could find the hoop that worked best for you (yes, the woman’s day job is as a research scientist. We have a lot of nerdy types here in northern Alabama.) Just trying it out was So Much Fun! So I splurged and bought one for my daughter and I to share. Now author Kimberly Lang and I are involved in a month-long Hoola Hoop Challenge on FB that you can cheer along HERE. We’ve started at 10 minutes per day and will be working our way up (don’t scoff-have YOU ever tried to hoola hoop for 10 minutes? It ain’t easy!)

Writing Playground, Hoola Hoops,  exercise

Once it cools down here, I can get back on the elliptical machine. I love it, but the garage is over 100 degrees during the day right now. But I know, as well as y’all do, that the more activity I can get in, the healthier I will be. It also helps calm my overactive brain, helps me focus and sleep better, and relieves stress better than anything else!

So what kind of exercise are you into? What keeps you the most motivated to move?

Dani

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What I’m Reading This Month

Hold You Against Me, Skye Warren, erotic romanceHold You Against Me by Skye Warren

Ah, the author who makes me like First Person Perspective.  🙂 I’m really not a first person reader, but I read one of Skye’s books for a book club and I’ve been hooked ever since. Her books are sexy, edgy, and make you holler “Oh, no he didn’t!”.  Dark, but exciting enough to make you gasp. Not for the faint of heart.

What I’m Writing This Month

Expecting his Secret Heir, Mill Town Millionaires, Harlequin Desire, Dani Wade, PassionThis month has been a hodge podge of administrative tasks (I’m getting ready for EXPECTING HIS SECRET HEIR’s release in September, plus the start of a promotional push for my Backstage Pass books the same month.), finishing up the draft of my first Savannah novella, editing REINING IN THE BILLIONAIRE, and writing on REIN’s sequel (currently untitled). So yeah…a little of this…a little of that…

#amediting

Busy days (or rather, nights) as I finish up content and line edits for BEHIND THE SCARS, and attempt to clean up my draft of my first Kentucky stables story for Harlequin (due this week).  AND I now have line edits due next week for Mill Town Millionaires book 4, Expecting His Secret Heir. Whew! Edits are not fun, but they are satisfying!

Behund the Scars

Needless to say, I don’t have SCARS up for pre-order. As a matter of fact, there may not be enough time to have a pre-order because I want it up for sale before I go to The RT Convention. In the meantime, here’s a peek at the cover to hold you over (hopefully). I love the cover, which I shared with my newsletter subscribers weeks ago. It really evokes the mystique and sexiness of this story!

Street Cafe At Night

If you’d like to get a sneak peek into the world of Cadence, TN and my Small Town Secrets series, don’t forget you can get SNOW BOUND for free when you sign up for my newsletter HERE, (normally a 99 cent value).

 

Dani

Epic Team Achievement

…a study in perseverance and teamwork…

I’ll admit that these days, unless it’s a milestone birthday, I don’t go all out for my kids “special days”. I’m a working mom with two jobs, a dirty house, and kids’ activities coming out my ears. They usually have a small sleepover, a family dinner, a store-bought cake, and the presents. (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this…)

But this year, my daughter caught me with her 16th birthday. We started planning but there were some things I wasn’t thinking about. Namely – the cake.

In my naïveté, I thought we’d order a pretty, usually yummy, cake from the local grocery store like we normally do. But Book Worm had other ideas. When asked about the cake, she sent me a YouTube link!

Let’s just say, it took me an hour to watch all of the videos associated with the cake she wanted made. And in her defense, she offered to make it by herself (but we all know how that would reflect on me, her mother – that just wasn’t an option). In the end, I offered to let her assist.

I feel kind of bad, because readers on my Facebook page were like, Great Job Mom! But this really was a team effort. Even my husband pitched in by going to get more ingredients from the store when we needed an emergency extra batch of icing. It took two days, but the final result did not qualify for a Pinterest fail board. Thank you, God!

birthday cake, cake au lait, Book Worm, coffee cake, Italian Buttercream

Lesson learned: Italian buttercream is awesome tasting! But epic birthday cakes are not on my list of things to be repeated – they make my feet hurt too much!

birthday cake, cake au lait, Book Worm, coffee cake, Italian Buttercream
Dani

Book 2 in my Small Town Secrets series is about to go live for pre-order! If you haven’t visited the small town of Cadence, TN, try it for free HERE with my novella, SNOW BOUND.

#amwriting 2 books at once

I’m in the home stretch of 2 projects—which is making sleep a rare commodity around here. Both are drafts.

#amwriting, romance author, first drafts

 

BEHIND THE SCARS, Small Town Secrets Book 2, which I’ve been promising to my beta reader since November…before life intervened.

DUET 1, working title for my next promised Harlequin project. I’m well over halfway on this one and making steady progress, which is good because it’s due at the end of the month.

writing, fireplace, staying warm

Oh, and production for the release of BEHIND THE SCARS and the upcoming BACKSTAGE PASS ANTHOLOGY is moving right along!

So bear with me, dear readers, and pray I finish with at least some hair left on my head…

Dani

Snow Days for Introverts

You know, I figured out a long time ago that I’m different… But some days I still have revelations about myself that surprise me.

School Closed, Snow Days, Family time, working mom

Last weekend was a “snow event” for Alabama. (for the record, we only need 1 inch of snow to get shut down the city – we got one to 3 inches.) now I have known many mothers through the gears to get very excited about all the fun things to do while stuck at home and having extended family time.

I’m not one of those mothers.

This used to make me feel guilty. After all, what mother doesn’t want to do fun things with her kids? Snow fights, movie nights, homemade hot chocolate and hot soup on the stove. Sounds idyllic- but I could never get the reality to live up to the pictures in my mind. About 12 hours in, I was dying to get out! And feeling horribly guilty about it.

I’ve finally realized there’s a reason for that urge to lock myself in my bedroom until it’s over: I’m an introvert. I’ve known this for a long time, but never connected it to this type of situation. Just because this isn’t a party with strangers or a drawnout dinner with a dozen people doesn’t mean I’m not affected by it.

People are people.

A lot of people would say, but this is your family. All that means is I can tolerate them longer than others… 🙂 but in the end, being in the presence of someone runs down my energy battery. And my battery already has a low charge because, since I started a day Job, I’m home alone about once every three months. For someone who is a true introvert, this is like a slow form of torture. Hubby provides me with a regular write out time, but I’m still in public (while he’s home with the kids – bless his heart), so it’s only a partial charge.

I’m lucky in the sense that my kids are getting older and don’t need to be constantly occupied. We all have our own interest and do separate activities. The difficulty is there’s very little getting away from each other.

How do I mitigate these feelings to a certain extent?

1. Alternate time with family and time in my bedroom (it’s the only place I’m usually and disturbed and the place I right when the family is all home).

2. Take extra long showers or baths (sneaky, but older kids don’t disturb me as much in the bathroom – thank goodness my husband taught them that at a young age).

3.  Proposed activities I really enjoy, like walking in the snow we darkness, building a snowman, or having a movie night.

So, are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you enjoy the cabin fever family days? (if not, don’t feel guilty! You aren’t alone…)

Dani

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Snow Bound, Small Town Secrets, novella, romance, cover artist

Cold Weather Soup Recipe

It’s finally cold here in Alabama. 🙂 Perfect soup weather.

Now, I love creamy soups, but usually have to skip them because of loads of white flour for thickening that doesn’t play well with my health issues.

But while hubby had to be on his liquids only diet, I searched for a cream soup I could use to make cream of vegetable soup for him, and found this one on FoodNetwork.com that is thickened with potato!

It’s really good, but if the flavor of onion bothers you, you might want to cut the amount used in half. Use it to make any veggie soup you like! It makes a great broccoli and cheese soup. Or add more potato for a creamy potato soup. Sometimes we just add bacon and cheese. 🙂

cream soup, winter, keep warm, vegetable soup
BASIC CREAM SOUP RECIPE
3 TBS unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 cups water or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups steamed vegetables, i.e. carrots, broccoli, spinach, or peas
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until tender without browning. Stir in diced potato and liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer until potato is tender. Stir in your steamed vegetable of choice and return to a simmer. Puree the soup in batches in a blender and return to saucepan. Leave 1 cup of vegetables not pureed if a chunkier soup is preferred (this can also be achieved by using a stick blender). Season soup with salt and pepper and finish with heavy cream. Serve warm with french bread and a salad.

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Kitchens

What’s your favorite soup for winter?

Dani