Who’s Ready for a Scavenger Hunt?

It’s that time of year again!

Night Owl Romance is about to launch this year’s HALLOWPALOOZA event, and once again, I’m one of the sponsors with my featured title, BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE.

There are over 100 prizes for eager book lovers, including book giveaways by participating authors, Amazon gift cards, and the Grand Prize, a Kindle Fire HD 8 with Alexa!

For more info, be sure to check out the Scavenger Hunt, happening October 11th through 31st over at Night Owl Romance.

The Back-to-School Balancing Act

Today I wrapped up Day 6 of my fifteenth year in education. Honeymoon period notwithstanding, I am already 99% less stressed out than I was at this time last school year.

I’m not exactly sure what’s got me feeling different. I definitely haven’t lessened my workload, having taken on some curriculum-related responsibilities at the district level that I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve slacked off on the past couple weeks.

(Word is I’m not alone in the slacking department. I think everyone’s gotten a bit behind. We’ll catch up.)

It’s certainly not due to a stress-free summer, because that has definitely not been the case. I feel like I barely had summer break this year. I had all these grand plans to relax with books, take a nap on my screened in back porch, take my daughter to the little local beach on Lake Norman. None of that happened.

So why do I feel so much better going into this school year, after a year that had me questioning my career trajectory?, I’d like to think it’s because I’ve started thinking very carefully about the level of balance in my life and the way I’m choosing to self-care.

I’ve take a few smallish steps toward ensuring that I not only keep a decent work-life balance, but that I also take care of myself and better manage my stress.

  1. No bringing school work home. One thing I’ve always sucked at, especially at the start of the school year, is bringing the school day home with me. In past years, it hasn’t been a big deal because I didn’t have a tiny person reliant on me. If I had to spend an hour or so grading papers or making presentations, whatever. No biggie.  But I need to protect my planning time at work, use my workdays to the max, and keep school work at school so I can devote my evenings and weekends to my family first, and then to my writing.
  2. Use a planner. This is a small thing. When I was in college, I was great about my planner. Assignments and tests and meetings and everything else were all written down. For a long time, I’ve valued a good desk calendar at work with upcoming important events jotted down from September to June. We have a family wall calendar that is full. But my personal planning game tanked somewhere around 2008, and I never really got it back. This year, I have vowed to turn that around. I bought a nifty 18-month calendar that not only has monthly and weekly pages – which are already filling up at an alarming rate – it has monthly goal setting pages and weekly exercises in self-reflection. And stickers! It comes with stickers, y’all!
  3. Eat better and sleep more. It’s been a struggle to step away from the soda and junk food (I type as I snack on Milk Duds), but I’m trying. I need to be more proactive in packing my lunch and making sure I eat a breakfast with enough protein to get me from 6:30am to 12:05pm (when I finally can sit down to shove my proactively packed lunch in my mouth in twelve minutes flat). Sleep is also essential to deal with, since my school day is shifted fifteen minute earlier. I’ve got to put a 10:30 bedtime in place and stick to it.
  4. Treat yo’self. Read a book that has nothing to do with work. Get a pedicure. Get my hair done. Soak in the garden tub. Play the piano. Snuggle those extra ten minutes with my child at bedtime – it’s as good for me as it is her, because we do have so little time together during the work week.
  5. Keep moving. I’d gotten into a good routine of taking a 20-minute walk right after putting Babycakes to bed, but that’s dropped by the wayside since school started. I guess I could argue that since my job isn’t sedentary that I shouldn’t stress too much. But I want to try and build in a solid time to exercise. If I can get the commute home done by 4:15 (possible most days if busses are on time and I’m in the driver’s seat by 3:50), I think I can squeak in a short workout of some sort as soon as I get home.

The work-life balance is important, and I’ve known for a long time that my balance has been way off. I feel like I can figure it out this year. I’m optimistic about my students, I’m excited for new idea and opportunities on the horizon, and I want to make these positive changes in my life.

So here goes the balancing act!

The Good Things That Have Come Out of July 2018

I’m going to flat out say it, and pardon my French. But overall, July 2018 has proven to suck ass.

In the hope of brightening my own spirits, I’ve decided to share the bits of good news that have surfaced this month.

Contests!

As you all already know, I was named a finalist in this year’s The Sheila Contest, run by the Valley Forge Romance Writers.

I placed 2nd in the Historical Romance category!

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Congratulations to all the finalists! I am honored and thrilled to be counted among you.

I also received word that I am a finalist in the TARA Contest‘s historical category as well, and am waiting with baited breath to get the final results of that, as well as a third contest I entered my post-Civil War historical into at the end of June.

A Signing!

Once again I’ll be participating in the Carolina Romance Writers’ Sip & Sign event, happening September 8th. Full information about the signing and event will be posted on the CRW website, but if you’re local to the greater Charlotte area, mark your calendar!

HE TAKES THE CAKE in Print at LAst!

It’s been a bit longer in the making than I’d expected, due to technical issues outside my or my publisher’s control. But at last, the print release of HE TAKES THE CAKE is available!

And please remember… If you’ve enjoyed an author’s work (and I’m speaking on behalf of all authors, not just myself), the two best ways to say “thank you” are to spread the word and leave a review on Amazon/B&N/Goodreads, etc.

Guest Blog – Rachel Brimble: Challenges of Writing Historical Romance for Modern Readers (Virtual Tour & Giveaway)

Today I’m hosting author Rachel Brimble, whose historical romance THE MISTRESS OF PENNINGTON’S  is now available. She shares a bit about the challenges of writing both contemporary and historical romances. Read on!

Challenges of Writing Historical Romance for Modern Readers

I’m often asked how I manage to write both contemporary and historical romances – do I approach each project in the same way? How much research goes into my historicals compared to my contemporaries? Which sub-genre do I prefer?

These are all valid questions, but the most important thing for me is that my lovely readers love every one of my books, whether contemporary or historical!

When I’m starting a new book of any sub-genre, I begin by focusing on the emotions of the protagonists. What do they want? Why? What happened in their past to make them the people they are today? What’s their biggest fear? They’re biggest life wish?

It’s by focusing on these things that the lines between writing contemporary fiction and historical fiction blur.

Once I’d decided on a department store setting for The Mistress of Pennington’s, I began researching the beginnings of these new, mammoth stores, the people who worked and shopped at them, the retail processes and every other detail I could uncover. Accurately portraying a bygone era is definitely the biggest challenge when writing historical romance for modern readers.

Why? Because readers READ!

It’s inevitable that, one day, a reader will know more about a subject than you. They might have an avid interest in the period. Might know more about the social climate at the time or be an expert in (help!) retail history. A writer cannot allow the prospect of a reader telling the world about an inaccuracy in your work to scare them away from writing the story bursting to be told. All they can ensure is that they do all they can to avoid making a huge, jarring mistake. Research is paramount.

Once I’ve done my research (and any that might arise as I’m writing), I embark on my historical novels in the same way I do my contemporary work. For me, it’s about the story unfolding, the development and changes in the characters, that all-important emotion and bringing the tale to a satisfactory ending that leaves my readers with a clear feeling of the period and an empathy for all that the characters have endured.

If I achieve that, I’m happy and, hopefully, I’ve overcome the challenge of writing historical fiction for the modern reader. 🙂

Happy Reading!

Rachel x

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

Read an Excerpt

He moved to walk away, and she reached for his arm before she could think just how dangerous such contact could be. He halted, and even when he looked at her fingers clutched on his forearm, she did not remove them. It suddenly felt important she touch him; that he understood she had care for what he said or asked her.

Even though the physical contact set her heart racing, she held her grasp. ‘Why do you ask me about your family?’

He closed his eyes and dropped his chin to his chest.

Disquiet whispered through her. What had caused such uncharacteristic hesitation in him?

‘Joseph…’ She slid her hand from his arm, ignoring the pang of loss that the break of contact brought. ‘If there’s something bothering you, please, share it with me.’

He slowly raised his head, his blue eyes full of irritation once more. ‘I will, but not here. Not on the street. I’d prefer to come to your office tomorrow.’

How was she supposed to wait until tomorrow? Her curiosity was rife. It was clear something had changed between them. Something, it seemed, of which she was the cause.

She nodded. ‘I’ll send a message to you first thing in the morning.’

‘Thank you. Until then, I bid you good day.’

He walked away, leaving Elizabeth with questions and words flailing on her tongue. She stared after him, fearful of the pull deep in her chest that Joseph’s concerns had somehow become hers. No good could come of such caring. Her only goal should be proving her worth and capability in Pennington’s and beyond. She could not allow one man, any man, to have such an effect on her.

She inhaled a long breath and walked towards Pennington’s doors.

Rachel is giving away a $25 Amazon/B&N Gift Card to one lucky winner. Click here to enter the rafflecopter giveaway now!

About Rachel Brimble

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s, will release in July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Write

you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

rs of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing,

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Links:

http://rachelbrimble.com/

http://rachelbrimble.blogspot.com/

http://www.twitter.com/RachelBrimble

https://www.facebook.com/rachelbrimbleauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RachelsReaders/?fref=ts

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

Summer Semi-Hiatus

In case you haven’t figured it out by the relative radio silence, I’m on something of a hiatus now that summer vacation has arrived.

I’m reveling in summer vacation. Three days into it, I’d completely lost track of what day of the week we were on, let alone the actual date. (But let’s be honest – most of the time I only know the date because I write it on the board every morning.)

Time to cook and bake? Yes, please. Hanging with Babycakes in SAHM mode? Check. Finally powering through a friend’s copy of Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager because I’ve lost track of how long ago I borrowed it? Working on that.

The need for the hiatus is work-related, though. I’ve joined a cohort of history-minded colleagues in a rewrite of our district’s secondary social studies curricula, whilst also planning to present with one of those colleagues at our August curriculum days. I’ve also picked up a couple freelance jobs, one of which is a pretty big project and will take up a big chunk of my writing time.

Travel to visit family is in there somewhere, as is working on, you know, my newest novel.

So if there’s a lot of radio silence from me over the next couple months, fear not. I’m just being productive.

Other Fun Information

No specific word yet on the print release of HE TAKES THE CAKE, but I do know it’s visible in the pipeline. Once I know, you’ll know, and there will be a chance at a BIG GIVEAWAY once everything is set in stone.

I’ve entered my post-Civil War historical romance in a handful of contests this spring, and have a couple others pegged for possible entry. This leads to the second coolest thing that’s ever happened to me, after landing my first book contract.

Final round results are supposed to be announced soon. This is a huge accolade, even if I don’t even make honorable mention. Good luck to all the other finalists in The Sheila!

The Renaissance Club (Virtual Tour & Giveaway)

The Renaissance Club

by Rachel Dacus

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Romance

Would you give up everything, even the time in which you live, to be with your soul mate? That’s the question my heroine, May Gold must answer in this time travel love story. And she has to answer it in three short weeks, on a tour of Italy. A college adjunct teacher, she often dreams about the subject of her master’s thesis—17th century sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies, she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man whose passionate art invented the Baroque style. But in reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and older boyfriend. She considers herself a precocious failure and yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit. May finds she has to choose: stay in a safe but stagnant existence or take a risk.

Read an Excerpt

 “Signorina, please. I cannot concentrate. Do you not have something else to do?”

His open arrogance was true to his time, an era when powerful men flaunted their status to the point of rudeness. Bernini’s fame, even at his young age, was second only to the cardinals and popes he served. His arrogance had been legendary.

“I thought the church was open today,” she said.

“It is not open to you, unless you are applying to become my assistant. But you will not be any use to me in that long skirt.”

She looked down. She had acquired voluminous folds of blue silk, a dress she hadn’t been wearing before. She felt air on her shoulders—her dropped-sleeves left them bare. “Well, not in this I wouldn’t,” she said, appreciating the rustle and texture. “But I’m not applying. I just want to watch you work.”

He said more gently, “Are you a traveler? You do not look Roman.”

“Yes. I’m a traveler. From a long way away. I’m with a group touring Rome. It’s our first day. St. Peter’s is so gorgeous, I can’t believe it. The Baldacchino is one of your finest pieces.”

Ignoring the compliment, he said, “If you are a traveler, then please travel to some other masterpiece. This church has many.” He waved her away and picked up the rod, checking the column once more.

Rachel Dacus will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the giveaway.

About Rachel Dacus

Rachel Dacus is the author of The Renaissance Club, a novel called “Enchanting, rich and romantic…a poetic journey through the folds of time.” Dacus’ book Gods of Water and Air is a collection of poetry, prose, and drama. Her other poetry collections are Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, The Pedestal, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.  Her fourth poetry collection, Arabesqueis forthcoming in August 2018 from FutureCycle Press.

Read more on her website: racheldacus.net

Follow on Twitter: @Rachel_Dacus

Buy links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Renaissance-Club-Rachel-Dacus/dp/1946143421/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-renaissance-club-rachel-dacus/1127621372

Scavenger Hunts, Socials, & Print Releases, OH MY!

Things have been pretty quiet around here since the  beginning of January, at least in terms of news and updates. (Real life? Busy as hell.) But I wanted to pop on tonight to share some stuff that some of you might be interested in.

Night Owl Romance Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt

I’ve participated in the Night Owl Romance scavenger hunts before, and if you’ve never checked them out, it’s a great way to find new-to-you books by dozens of authors, in just about every genre of romance you can think of. There’s truly something for everyone.

Once again, I’ve joined the fun as one of the Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt sponsors. Participating as a reader is easy. Just head over to Night Owl Reviews, check out the blurbs, and enter in the giveaway. There are loads of Amazon Cards to be won, and all the authors have giveaway swag on the line as well.

Personally, I’m giving away a signed print copy of THE ONE I’M WITH (U.S. mailing address only!).

The Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt runs through May 3rd!

Instagram At lAst

A couple weeks ago, the Carolina Romance Writers hosted Laura Russell to present some fantastic information on how to use Instragram for branding and marketing.

I think I technically had an Instagram account set up like two years ago, but I never used it. I’m now using it.

I can’t say I’ve really found my Insta-thing yet, mostly because I’m playing with out the dang app works. But I have a pretty fast learning curve, so bear with me for a bit while I find my footing.

He Takes the Cake Print Release

I don’t have an official release date yet for when HE TAKES THE CAKE will be out in print. But I do know it will be soon! Keep an eye on the blog, newsletter, and socials for the official announcement once I have it.

And of course, Writing

What’s down the pipeline for me, writing-wise?

Well, my post-Civil War historical is in semi-re-polish mode while I float it off to a couple of contests. I’ll be starting the next round of submissions over the summer, I think.

And remember Marissa’s three best friends from THE ONE I’M WITH? They deserve their own stories, so that’s what I’m currently working on. Absolutely no other information on that, because I’m about a chapter and a half into the draft of the first book. But any announcements in the future about that trilogy project will happen in the email newsletter and right here!