So, I just received the ARC for my twelfth book with Soul Mate. There is nothing to compare to the release of a new book, and release is the right word for so many reasons including the release of worry and tensions that have built up in the crafting of the novel. Seeing it come out is (dare I say) orgasmic.
It also releases me to concentrate on my next work, but it’s also got me looking back on what I’ve accomplished over the past eight years. Yeah, I’ve been with Soul Mate that long. I signed my first contract in 2012 for my book Son of Thunder, which came out the following year.
And yup, I have more stories planned for this series as well, but at least the three book story arc reached a satisfying conclusion. I was even able to add my Soul Mate Tree book, Between Venus and Mars, to this series before I was once again distracted by:
So, there you have it. All the books S. C. Mitchell has published with Soul Mate.
“But wait,” you say. “That’s only eleven books.”
Well, in every family there’s that red-headed stepchild that maybe they want to hide away. But today I’m coming clean.
At one point in my career I was playing around with erotica and erotic romance, you know, to help beef up the sex scenes in my real books. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.) So I created a pen name to keep his stuff separate from mine. He even had is own login on my computer to keep his stuff separate from mine, and yes I still think of him as a different person.
As most of you know, my day job (until recently) was in the area of scientific research. Naturally, I am a stickler for accuracy in research when writing my novels. Never have I cherished the ability to research more than now. A broken arm prevents me from writing. It prevents me from doing a lot of things 😦 At least I can still research for my next book.
How important is research in our books? I read an article recently about readers who have thrown down books because the authors got certain details wrong in the history of their novels. One reader claimed that a discarded Dunkin’ Donuts cup in the gutter distracted her, since there had never been a Dunkin’ Donuts within the vicinity of the novel’s setting. I, myself, have thrown down a very well-known novel by Deborah Harkness because she had her character claiming that “there was no way the vampires could track me by my hairbrush because I pick each and every hair out every day after brushing my hair. All of my DNA is removed.”
No disrespect, Ms. Harkness, but I am calling you out . . . bullshit. I am very familiar with DNA analysis. Unless her heroine ran her hair brush through the dishwasher after using it every morning? There is no way all of her DNA could be removed from the brush.
Good thing, this. Because all I can do now with a broken wing is read and research. Not that I mind . . .much. I love research! I just wish I could put both hands to the keyboard and make my novel a reality. The doctors say it will be at least three months before this will be a possibility, and that’s if I don’t need surgery.
My point for this post is this: if you don’t research every little detail that you include in your books, a reader will call you out. It may be only one reader, or it may be a whole boatload of them. Don’t take the chance. Do your research. Make sure that if your character buys a McRib in 1994, McDonalds really was serving it in 1994 (didn’t research this, so don’t call me out on it.) Remember, I’m doing all of this on voice to text, which, at least at this point on my iMac, isn’t ideal. Again, please excuse all typos that I have not caught.
Get the details right. If your setting isn’t authentic, you will lose credibility with your readers. *sigh* I will have plenty of chance to be sure my details are right in the next few months for my upcoming novel.
I missed my last scheduled blog. I don’t know why. I think I didn’t set a reminder and just forgot!
But, the last time I did blog, I mentioned our rescue kittens. They are going on six months now. We kept the two I mentioned. The Princess – who is really a demon in disguise. I’m not kidding. If something is broken or fallen down, she is behind it. And my orange buddy. He’s so chill and only cares about snuggles and food. They’ve been fixed and protected from vermin. My Freddie is ginormous. He’s got a good two pounds on all of them. They are hysterical, but equally annoying. Toilet paper, cups, sleeping…oy! But we love them.
The past week has been really bad for writing. I haven’t managed a word, though I am involved in a great class that is forcing me to be in my wip, so that’s at least something. And I will get my writing mojo back! Likely this weekend!
This month is super crazy around here. Like I have a calendar and a list. And a migraine about all of it!
Well… my sister has been in the hospital. They are throwing around the “C” word. Seriously, I cannot lose another family member. We’re at one a year for the past five years and I am done. Plus. It’s my sister. And just no!
The day job has not changed. Well, it is changing, but those changes don’t help me yet. That Man wants me to put my notice in. He says I am not myself and that it’s an effort for me to do the things I love to do. (like write. or stay up past 7pm) I have spoken this to the “powers that be”, and we’ll see if the results actually happen.
There are other things that I can’t speak of. I can’t explain them without breaching privacy or confidence. And there are three separate things that make me wake up at 4am and have a panic attack.
The estate is also still a thing. I have had to spend every night this week doing stuff for it. The good news is that we’re almost done with some of it. There is also a lot of frustration, but from what I understand, that’s how it is. I am so ready to be done.
That Man and I are going on a trip this week. We will see my aunt and uncle, who are more friends than not. It’s going to be a quick trip, but good. We’re buying their camper, which will be awesome for us. We’re driving it home, which is about 1100 miles, so that’s a bit stressful. I am excited though!
We have about six weeks until our vacation. I cannot wait. We missed last year. It’s the beach, in an awesome beach house, with many of my favorite people. It’s relaxation. Reading. Good food. Good conversation.
Is that some kind of balance? I can’t say, but it does feel like it to me. I do my best to focus on the good stuff and deal with the bad…
It is what it is. Right?
I hope you are all doing well and that your stressors are few. Keep on writing and keep on being you!
It’s been a great summer and my posts have all been scheduled while I’m on vacation. I’m writing to you from camp in Downeast Maine. The sun is shining, and the mosquitoes are fresh, trying to bite me all the time. I’ve been working on my blog www.LifewiththeBadge.com mostly, but I did read a short book about writing in 15 minute bursts. Everyday. No exceptions.
The book was short and sweet, but the point was that if you write 15 minutes for 365 days, you’ll have 5,475 minutes or 91.25 hours of writing time. If you write 1,000 words an hour (some of us write more), you’d have 91,250 words written by the end of the year. If you’re books are 40,000 or under, you would have two books completed in one year just writing 15 minutes a day.
I know I could do with writing two books in 15 minutes a day chunks of time. There is some planning that has to happen before the actually timed 15 minutes takes place, but for the most part, it’s a 15-minute sprint. The book was called “The 15-Minute Writer: How to Write Your Book In Only 15 Minutes A Day” by Jennifer Blanchard.
A year ago, I met up with some authors from New England in New Hampshire and one woman explained her strategy for putting her butt in the chair every day. She set a timer for 20 minutes each day. For some reason this clicked for me. I jumped on her bandwagon and finished two books that had been languishing on my computer half done. It took less time using this method and concentrated effort, than it would have had I just waited for the mood to strike me.
So, my call to action for all of you, is to try the 15- or 20-minute approach to writing this week. See how it works for you. I’m recommitting to the writing every day for 15-minutes. The 20 minutes seems daunting right now, but perhaps after a week or when my youngest and my husband go back to school, I’ll bump it up to 20 again.
We can all commit to writing 15 minutes if our goal to be a published author. Even when the sun is shining and the boat is waiting to be taken on the lake. We can commit to writing after dinner, before the card games start, or in the morning before everyone is demanding something of us.
Square dancing . . . do you know how to square dance? The name comes from what my son says is four couples arranged in a square.
I learned how to do this kind of dancing when in high school. It has become familiar to me again because my son, CPA, public accountant, Paul Ingis, for his beloved hobby, is a square dance caller. His son Stephen, now twenty-one, began with his father when he was only eleven, and now
Stephen is a caller and has earned a tidy sum for college. Stephen and I discussed all this recently. I got curious as to the origin of square dancing and to ballroom dancing as we know it today where partners hold each other in dance. What’s the history? Here’s what I discovered . . .
The waltz, with its modern hold, began in England circa 1812. The dance was met with opposition because . . . you guessed it . . . the impropriety associated with the closed hold. But guess what, all dancing has a closed hold of some sorts. Even in square dancing, when partners swing each other. The swing is a traditional square dance move (call).
Now, wait a minute, while reviewing the history of dance, I realized that I cannot stretch this into ballroom dancing, my favorite, and dance history. It would take a couple of blogs. So, I will stick to square dancing and maybe follow up with the ballroom dance another time.
Paul said that the square dancing that he knows is modern or western square dancing. It began in New England with the first settlers, who brought their own folk dancing with them from their homeland. The variety led to men interested in boiling down the steps, who would develop dances and routines of their own, including dances for groups, specifically for four couples. So there we have it, square dancing and its director (or caller) developed.
This type of new dancing served as recreation and social contact with neighbors. The only requirements were a wooden floor, music and a caller, and anyone who could make the calls to keep it organized. It could take place in a barn, somebody’s living room, the town hall, and later, the grange hall. There was always someone on hand who could play the guitar, a fiddle or an accordion.
However, as the population became more urban it also became more cosmopolitan. Booming trade brought to our shores new fashions, new music, and new dances from other continents. The new dances became fashionable, and square dancing was displaced in our mushrooming cities. It survived only in isolated areas in the individual style peculiar to that region. In time, differences among these regional dances became so pronounced that a square dancer from one area often would not be able to dance in another. Square dancing seemed slated for oblivion.
But—it was revived by Henry Ford in the early 1930s as part of his early New England Restoration project. Others got interested and modernized it with more modern music, rather than the hillbilly band with its whiny fiddle. As square dancing moved into urban centers, articulate and professional callers were the norm. Nametags, worn by all dancers, put everyone on a first-name basis creating instant informality and fellowship. Square dancing had regained its old appeal in a modern setting and it spread over the nation. Today, this wholesome recreation is enjoyed by millions of Americans and others around the world. Wherever Americans have gone, England, Germany, Australia, Japan, etc., they have introduced square dancing with enthusiastic participation and applause.
Modern western-style square dancing is vibrant and growing. New ideas and dynamic choreography are introduced each year, insuring that square dancing will continue to be exciting. The music is fabulous. Always upbeat, new, tap your foot music. It’s for everyone, all ages, even the handicapped. Imagine? It’s fun to learn and move on to advanced groups. In the beginning, you learn a number of basic moves (calls) in various combinations. Knowledge and practice of the basic movements are learned in a series of weekly sessions. There are ‘barn dances’ for the newbies, mainstream and higher levels when you are ready. The challenges are creative and fulfilling when it all goes smooth.
Paul and family attend square dances all over the country whenever possible. They enjoy people, dancing, and camaraderie. He keeps up with the square dance community, to stay in tune. Paul uses his own music when he teaches and calls. He uses a wide variety of music beyond the expected country style, including rock and roll, show tunes, easy listening, jazz, and even classical, and his dancers love it!
The average dancer remains in the “Mainstream” and “Plus” levels of square dancing for four to five years. In order to extend this period of activity, “Advanced” and “Challenge” levels of square dancing have been developed. These additional levels of square dancing have maintained the interest of many dancers and have extended their dancing years.
I used to think all of those blogs on gratitude and having gratitude journals was well, sort of mumbo jumbo. I hadn’t really bought into until a few years ago. I guess the wheels have to fall mostly off the bus for me to try things sometimes. In the winter of 2016, not only were the wheels off the bus so to speak, but I was also in a ditch covered in mud.
But, now I believe that proverbial ditch was one of the best things to ever happen to me. Perhaps having some mud on your face helps you gain perspective, and things that seemed so important the day or week before become ridiculous. You also realize there is so little you can control other than your mindset. So, if you find yourself marred in a ditch as of late, I have some advice for you: find gratitude and savor it. Even if your gratitude is as small as a mustard seed.
In January of 2017 after a surgery I had never expected or wanted to have, I found myself wallowing in my own self-pity. Annoyed with myself and the situation, I took out an empty notebook work friends had bought for me to help me whittle away the hours as I recovered. I drudged it out after I read an article on gratitude. I wish I could remember where I’d read this advice I’m about to give you, but it alludes me. Perhaps it was all the pain medication. But, I remember I followed its advice and wrote: a) the date at the top of the page b) four good things in my life and c) four wishes/prayers/goals for the day.
Just focusing on the present day was the first gift I received from this daily activity. It anchored me in the moment and gave me something to focus on working towards for that day. Tomorrow didn’t matter; neither did yesterday. Being present and focusing on only 24 hours lifted a weight from me that I remember feeling down to my gut.
Finding four good things in my life and four wishes, goals, or prayers for the day also helped me remember all of the many blessings I had and that the malaise I was feeling moments prior was a small part of my life. After completing this on that first day back on January 27, 2017, I completed it the next day and the next. Soon, the malaise and self-pity grew smaller and my gratitude greater as if I too had been a Grinch and then finally let my heart grow back to the size it should have been and beyond.
Focusing on those wonderful things I did have helped me have more energy and joy in my life which translated to me being a happier and better human being in every aspect of my life. So, I challenge you to find a piece of paper, part of a napkin, a journal, anything you can write on and try out this exercise for today. Then, maybe try it again tomorrow. I truly believe a bit of gratitude can get you anywhere you wish to go: out of a ditch, on a new journey, to the stars, and to a thousand places you never thought you might venture. Focusing on life in small 24 hour bites helps you savor all the beautiful gifts you have that day and celebrate joy.
So, what are four good things in your life? What four prayers, goals, or wishes do you have for yourself today? I’d love to read your comments or see photos of all you are grateful for. Here are a few of mine: my husband, my rescue pups, my writing friends, and my health.
Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense.
After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and
Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She
writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.
When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on
the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest
Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her
beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter
@JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.
Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing,
is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and
was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished
Like a lot of people, I’ve spent an approximate total of thirteen months of my life daydreaming about that perfect marriage proposal. Sometimes the fantasy involves firelight and chocolate, while other scenarios feature a stage, hot spotlights, and the din of five hundred people chanting “Say yes, say yes!” Oh, and I’m not gonna lie – there’s been a flash mob or two in there. And maybe Mary Lambert.
However, rereading my novels, I realized my characters aren’t quite so creative when they broach the topic of nuptials. At the end of Hunted Past, my shero tells my hero it’s about time they got hitched. Hunted Dreams ends with my hero gently popping the question after stumbling upon a big ol’ secret. Sweet, but, you know, not that creative. I mean, where are the clowns, the fireworks, the dancing chickens? Where’s proof of all the brain power I devoted to this?
Apparently I lack the ability to spin my wild, wacky, and occasionally tacky plans into usable fictional situations. Sure, I know thirty make-believe people dancing to Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” while the novel’s hero brandishes a two-carat emerald is just the tiniest bit cheesy, but honestly, who hates a little bit of cheddar in their romance? Besides, if movies can do it, so can romance authors, amiright?
Below I’ve listed a few ideas, but I’d love to hear some of yours, whether lived, written, or imagined.
1. The Classic: This involves all the usual suspects: Candlelight, music, flowers, and chocolate. Set the scene, complete with a trail of candles and/or rose petals that lead to a ring.
2. The Mile-High: Flying is super miserable. The only thing that can rescue a flight? Asking a flight attendant for permission, grabbing the mic, and popping the big question. Yeah, okay, I totally stole this from The Wedding Singer.
3. The Delicious: Create a fortune cookie that features The Question. Pop it on a plate after nomming some tasty wontons. That said, please never have your characters stick a ring in food. Am I the only one who finds that nauseating?
4. The Performance: Anywhere a microphone exists is an opportunity. Attending a local musical performance? Watching a play? At a rally? Ask someone beforehand if you can nab some stage time. I admit this comes directly from one of my fantasies. I publicly perform poetry, and it’s occurred to me that a super nifty proposal could involve a public performance of a romantic poem that ends with some magical words.
5. The High-Tech: I have a couple of ideas in mind. One involves making a website that details the couple’s love story and leads to a proposal. Yeah, all right, I researched and it’s been done, but that doesn’t diminish the awesome, geeky appeal. The other plot involves something like writing a short story that mirrors the couple’s, one that ends on a particular cliffhanger, uploading it to a Kindle, and then asking the other partner to take a gander at this awesome new story.
Kitschy, cheesy, and gimmicky? You betcha. Too much for fiction? What about real life? Your thoughts: Bring ‘em!