I survived.

So, I had the brilliant idea to do  National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) once again last month.

And, I won!

I’d dance like Meryl, but I’m so damn tired. My brain melted into a pile of goo the second I’d typed out The End. December will hopefully be a quieter month, even though I have two novels to edit.  Editing is slightly easier than writing, but I still I loathe it.

My NaNoWriMo novel, One Last Heist, turned out brilliantly. It had all the twists and turns I’d hoped for, and some I never expected. It’s now in the hands of my capable betas, and I won’t worry about it for a little while.

My relationships with friends and family appear to have survived the madness. I did have to bribe my dog with many treats to forgive me for being chained to my desk. =) NaNo can be a trying adventure with words.

This year the words flowed far better than they have any other year. I’ve participated in the November madness several times. Each one feels a bit different. One Last Heist definitely had my muse’s full attention, and I didn’t necessarily struggle with my daily goals with the exception of one day early in the month.

I can’t wait to share Mack & Toshiro’s story with everyone next year.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned through NaNo is I can’ only manage it once a year. I’m never going to be an 8k word a day author.  I barely manage 800 to 1000 words on an average day. It’s more about keeping myself steadily making progress.

But once a year in November, I indulge in a bit of insanity, and some of my best work has come from it. (After the Scrum, The Caretaker, and now One Last Heist.)

And now, I can take a nap…several naps.

Did you take part in the NaNo madness? How did you do?

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Release Blitz: Randi Perrin

Author: Randi Perrin
Title: Virtue and Honor
Series: Earthbound Angels, Book 3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: July 29, 2017
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Cover Designer: RMGraphX
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Angela Waters juggles two high-stress jobs: nurse and earthbound angel. On a rare girls’ night out, she intervenes and saves the life of Mason Kearney, a stripper with southern charm and a secret. It’s a move that will force her to contemplate why in all the heavens she puts up with the injustice of being an angel, which leads to a bombshell that challenges everything she’s ever known.

In the midst of falling for the Alabama boy, she’s in for the fight of her life when a demon, hell-bent on taking her wings, shows up at the most inopportune times.

With a family of angels rallying behind her, she’s sent on a mission to learn everything about them, herself, and evil, to save all the earthbounds from an untimely demise.

Can Angela survive with her heart and her wings intact?

 

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Randi has spent her entire life writing in one form or another. In fact, if she wasn’t writing, she’d likely go completely and utterly insane. Her husband has learned to recognize when the voices are talking in her head and she needs some quality time with an empty Word file (the key to a successful marriage with a writer).She lives with her husband, daughter, and four-legged children—all of which think they are people too.

A pop culture junkie, she has been known to have entire conversations in movie quotes and/or song lyrics.

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Blog Tour: Taming a Jackaroo

Title: Taming a Jackaroo
Genre: Aussie Cowboy Romance
Release Date: June 10, 2017
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
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City girl and serial non-dater, Affrica Clarke travels to Boulia, Australia, to investigate the environmental impacts of the local mining company. Unless she proves herself and wins that promotion, she’ll lose so much more than a pay rise. Yet everything goes wrong the moment she lands in the outback. With no research equipment, only skimpy clothes packed by her best friend to help her score a date, and a tight deadline to submit her report, she’s screwed. So when a sexy cowboy offers to play chauffeur, she’s all over it. But she’s there to shut down the mining activities, not fawn over the guy who’s supporting them, no matter how sizzling the attraction between them.
Billionaire jackaroo, Sam Preston tempts fate as an adrenaline junkie, living each day as if it were his last. Angry and wounded, he’s in town to sell his cattle ranch to the local mining company and be done with his past—until he meets hapless city-chick Affrica, who has no clue about surviving in the desert. Sam doesn’t know how to stop being a daredevil even though Affrica reminds him of the happiness he once had.
Can Sam let go of the past before he loses the one person who’s finally breathed new life into him, or is it not possible to truly tame a jackaroo?

 

 

 

Bet You Didn’t Know This About The Australian Outback!
by Sidney Valentine
I’m a huge research buff and learned a great deal about the
Aussie outback when I wrote my novel, Taming A Jackaroo. The story is based in
rural Queensland in a very remote town called, Boulia. This place is renowned for
the mysterious Min Min light. It is said to be a small glowing orb that follows
you in the outback.
So today, I’m sharing some amazing details I discovered
about this phenomenon in Boulia, Australia.
The Min Min
light is named after the small settlement of Min Min, located in outback
Queensland close to Boulia – an Aussie town also renowned for camel racing and
on last count (2011) had a population of only 230 residents.
Numerous
accounts from 1838 have described a light that follows travelers. They are said
to be fuzzy, disc-shaped lights that are often white or change colour from
white, red and green. Some have been described as dim, while others were bright
enough to cast shadows on objects nearby. One account even described Min Min
lights keeping up with a moving car!
Aboriginal
myths that pre-date European settlement have also described these lights.
According to some Aboriginal Australians, these sightings of Min Min lights
have increased due to the growing presence of Europeans in the outback. Many
believe that the lights are the spirits of their ancestors who cannot rest
because they were murdered by European settlers. According to folklore, if a
person chases the light and manages to catch it they will never be seen again.
There are a
number of theories to explain the Min Min light phenomenon. Bioluminescence;
optical illusion and gas have all been put forward to explain the lights. Yet
there is still no clear explanation for their existence. 
Glowing
orbs have also been described in other countries, such as the will-o’-the-wisp
ghost lights found in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales. In Mexico, there are
glowing orbs known as brujas, believed to the souls witches.
Did you
know?
 Thirty-six
sightings had occurred between 1950 and 1959.
References

 

 

 

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Sidney Valentine is an Aussie girl who loves everything about traveling. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and spends her time exploring the wild outdoors. But she always carries with her a writing pad in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. While she works in marketing during the day, she never stops writing her romance stories set in Australia as a way to rejuvenate from the bustle of the real world. She is often found at local coffee shops with her laptop, writing about people falling in love.

 

Not a Romantic.

“How do you write romance when you’re not a romantic?”

A question my husband posed to me a few days ago. He’s not wrong. We’re certainly not overly sentimental, not in a mainstream or stereotypical kind of way.

We don’t do flowers–I’m allergic.

We don’t do jewellery–I very rarely wear it.

Our ‘dates’ usually involve either long drives or long hours playing multiplayer video games together (Elder Scrolls Online or Battlefield 1). We rarely eat out at restaurants as not only do they overwhelm me, but we hate leaving our dog, so we usually pick something up to eat in the car.

Yes, we’re that kind of pet parents.

My husband, though, has far more romantic moments than I do.

He leaves love letters in my writing notebooks.

I find them all over the place. He picks random pages in my journals and notebooks to write them in. It’s sometimes, days, months, or even years before I find them.

He’s always done it since before we even moved in together. I have over twenty notebooks and journals with no idea how many of them contain love letters. It’s an exercise in self-control not to simply hunt for all of them.

I love the idea that at any point of time while I’m writing a novel there might be such a lovely surprise for me.

Maybe, we’re more romantic than we thought.

What’s the most romantic thing someone’s ever done for you?

Blog Tour: Curves in the Road



Author: Amy K. McClung

Title: Curves in the Road
Series: Southern Devotion, Book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 6, 2017
Designer: Claire Smith

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Living in Nashville with his daughter, Katelyn, single dad Derrick Collins’s main goal is to provide a good life for his daughter. With no social life to speak of, he knows it’s time for a change. He just needs to find the perfect woman who will complete his happy family. The problem is he’s already met her and let her go.

Mary Jane Evans’s life took a path she could only dream of. Though leaving her home in Nashville meant saying goodbye to childhood friends, family, and the first man she ever loved. Now she has to choose if she will return or continue her new journey.

With a decision to make, is it possible for two lost loves to find their way back to each other or are there too many curves in the road?

 

The Most Difficult Parts of Writing Curves in the Road
by Amy K. McClung
In the first book of this series, For the Love of Gracie, there were a lot of intense moments involving difficult issues to read (or write). I wanted Curves in the Road to have a more lighthearted feel about it, but to keep to the theme of the Southern Devotion part of the series that involves lifelong friendships full of loyalty and selfless acts. The group of friends in this set of books is special. They’ve been through so much together and stayed strong. The hard part was having people remember how special the group is.
Mary Jane, to some, may appear selfish at times, but when you stop and consider the actions she takes, they show her selflessness has no bounds. She puts everyone else’s happiness in front of her own. As a writer, our characters play out in our heads showing us their story. I could see Mary Jane’s clearly and knew what decisions she wanted to make and why. Another difficult aspect was taking her voice from my head, putting it on paper, and making sure the reader saw the same point of view as I did and didn’t interpret it in a negative way.
In most of my books my favorite characters tend to be male. Of my female characters though, I relate the most to Mary Jane. She’s a plus-sized woman which alone brings up insecurities in life, something I’ve experienced for many years. To meet a man like Derrick who never makes her feel anything less than beautiful was a rarity for her. Then to work so hard to prepare for the opportunity for a dream internship and have it land in your lap the same time you meet the man of your dreams, it’s a decision I don’t envy.
In the beginning of the story, the strength of Mary Jane choosing her career over love didn’t make her selfish or uncaring; it shows her bravery. I want people to see her in the light I do. To see each sacrifice she makes along the way to benefit someone in her life. From the start, she puts her happiness on hold. I hope when people read this book, they see Mary Jane as the loyal friend, the courageous ally, the beautiful person she is. It’s not to say she isn’t without flaws, or that her decisions make the most sense, but she tries. As human beings, the only thing we can do in life is take chances and hope for the best.
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 Southern Devotion Series 
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Amy McClung was born in Nashville, TN. She is the second oldest of four girls and occasionally suffers from middle-child syndrome. She met the love of her life online in August of 2004, on his birthday of all days, and married him in September 2005.Currently they have no human children, only the room full of colorful robots that transform into vehicles and the large headed Pop Funkos who represent their favorite characters. Collecting movies, shot glasses, Pop Funkos, and dust bunnies are some of her favorite pastimes.

Amy began writing in September of 2011 and independently published her first YA novel, Cascades of Moonlight, Book one of the Parker Harris series the following May. Her first book was a means of therapy for her, enabling her to escape reality for a while during a difficult transition in her life.

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The Anatomy of a Relationship

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At the root of any romance novel is the relationship between the main characters, we tend to approach reading (and writing) them with a particular formula already set in our minds. Like most things in life, anything straying outside of the norm jolts us out of our fictional daydreaming. It takes a bit more effort to understand and appreciate the beauty of them.

From the outset, I knew Elaine and Alim from The Misguided Confession wouldn’t fit the standard mould. Their romance is real and built strongly by the both of them. It’s just not like others.

Elaine is quirky, offbeat, autistic, and romantically different. She expresses her emotions in a way some might find unusual. Her relationship with Alim might be considered equally eccentric.

Of all my characters, Elaine has the most in common with me. As we’re both autistic, I modelled many of her interpersonal struggles after ones I had faced with my husband. Well, minus the creepy zealot who wreaks havoc on Elaine’s world.

In the process of writing The Misguided Confession, I wanted desperately to stay faithful to showing the truth of a relationship between an autistic and a neurotypical (or non-autistic). It’s not typical. It’s certainly not easy, but most definitely real—real love.

Love is often a finicky business.  Alim learns early on, as did my own husband, that often a relationship with an autistic requires a healthy amount of compromise. Elaine feels emotions deeply but doesn’t always know how to identify or express them.

They soldier on together. Their souls and hearts meeting in ways they never imagined possible. Maybe it’s not typical, but it works for them. It’s deep, meaningful, and special.

My hope is when readers approach the novel—along with Elaine and Alim’s relationship—they do so with open hearts and minds.

Love is love, after all.

Love is love.

 

Why Elaine and Alim Belong Together.

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On paper, as individuals, I suppose Elaine and Alim from my upcoming novel, The Misguided Confession, don’t have much in common. They come from completely different worlds and backgrounds. Opposites do attract, but it’s not immediately apparent when you see them on their own.

As the only living heir to a wealthy and connected Moroccan export dynasty, Alim had the best of everything growing up. He’s well-educated and well-travelled. The quintessential posh businessman who lives in Armani suits and has a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.

Elaine, as the adopted daughter of a merchant marine and his wife, grew up a wee bit rougher. Being both autistic and a cougar shifter, she has frequently struggled in her life to find her place. Her mannerisms and speech have always been misunderstood by the neurotypicals around her.

On paper–they don’t work.  And yet, they’re brilliant for each other.  Their romance is sweet and genuine.

Given his upbringing, one might expect Alim to be a spoiled and driven by money.  He has infinite patience with his mate and approaches Elaine on her terms. Their romance moves at her pace, not his. He loves her as she is, never seeking to change her as others might’ve done.

She is autistic and has worked hard to accept herself.

Alim often struggles to understand, yet they find stumbling along together is far better than going it alone. They compromise, him more than her, admittedly. He never begrudges her need to be herself–to find her own way to deal with life in a world built for neurotypicals.

S0–why do they belong together? To be trite and cliche–love conquers all. Patience, laughter, and lust help as well.