New Year, New Challenges

What?  It’s 2017 already?

I know you could have sworn we have only just had Christmas, but there are things to do now the New Year has arrived. My suggestion is that you slow down first. Don’t worry. I’m sure the hot cross buns will be in the supermarket next week. Like a deadline for a book the big day is upon us, and I for one am not ready but will still enjoy every part of it. This time of year can make people reflect on what has happened before they set their goals for next year. Goals are a great motivational tool but sometimes life can get in the way.

Others won’t but don’t worry. Hot cross buns are in the supermarket already. Like a deadline for a book, the new year is upon us. I for one am not ready, but will still enjoy every part of it. This time of year can make people reflect on what has happened before they set their goals for the year ahead. Goals are a great motivational tool but let me warn you that sometimes life can get in the way.

I was lucky enough to get books accepted and published this year, and also worked on the committee for the RWA conference in Adelaide, Australia. I wrote drafts of new books and pitched to publishers. What I didn’t plan were the major health issues for many members of my family, including myself and my three and half week old granddaughter who underwent heart surgery.

Sometimes when life throws a spanner in the works, it gives us a chance to reassess what we want and set different goals. So take this time to relax a little bit and enjoy life, friends, and family. Use the first month of the year to look at what you really want and above all do what you enjoy.

Bio Maggie Mundy Continue reading

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5 Secrets of True Love By Author Susan Hanniford Crowley

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This is a sculpture by Antonia Canova called “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss.” The photo was taken by Pufacz and was placed in public domain according to Wikimedia Commons.

The story of Pysche and and Cupid is told within the pages of Vampire Princess of New York as she visits the Louvre with her newly wedded husband. If you are ever in Paris and visiting The Lourve, to walk in Noblesse’s footsteps you will want to take the Visitor’s Trail called Mighty Aphrodite. Now on to the 5 Secrets of True Love. For those that have loved deeply and well, they are not secret just joyful memories.

Secret 1:
Love that is true is mutual. It’s not lust. Mind you, lust can be a lot of fun, but love means you care more for someone else than you do for yourself. Their safety, comfort, and happiness is all that matters to you.

Secret 2:
Love is tested by everyday trials. If something else is more important, it’s not love. If when you’re both beaten down, you turn to each other, then it’s love. If one is beaten down and the other remains true no matter what, then it’s love. The test of setting free and seeing if the loved one comes back to you is true.

Secret 3:
Passion takes on a new dimension when true lovers make love. You’re excited by that person but feel safe at the same time. There’s a strange internal harmony.

Secret 4:
Lovers act differently together than with other people. When you’re together, you feel passion or joy or serenity. This doesn’t mean you always agree with each other, but you respect each other.

Secret 5:
True lovers support each other in your dreams, hopes, desires, and future. You share in planning a future. You hold onto each other no matter what the storms of life brings.

My favorite way of thinking of true love comes from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
Note about the author: Susan has been married for 37 years and is a wife, mother, and grandmother.
Author of the Arnhem Knights of New York series:
Vampire King of New York, Book 1  and Vampire Princess of New York, Book 2
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ARIZONA CHRISTMAS

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Cold Arizona sparkled with lights, poinsettia trees and blazing sunsets. We were prepared with warm clothes, warm greetings and family hugs.

Arizona’;s JW Marriott’s Desert Ridge Resort & Spa underwater scene celebrated the holidays with a theme made from hundreds of pounds of glistening gumdrops, chocolate, sugary icing and tons of gingerbread dough that brought a parade of onlookers, and us! Met the main chef who explained they began this tedious work months ago, and took about three months to assemble. The pastry team, consisting of 10 pastry chefs, spent more than 400 hours crafting this year’s beautiful theme.

Super Chef

Santa Claus’s mailbox

The weatherman is calling for chilling temperature tonight here at home finally, after this warm weather we have had since our return from cold Arizona.

In spite of the weather, family warmed up our visit. It was great seeing our kids and other relatives. We were busy with sites and sounds of the holidays in Phoenix and Scottsdale. The lights sparkled, and the poinsettia trees are gorgeous.

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Reason #768 Why I Write Happily Ever Afters

Ugh, it’s gonna be one of those sappy, lovey-dovey posts. Yet another reason why I write happily ever afters. Prepare yourselves.

I’ve been married for 17 ½ years and it’s been pretty typical – ups and downs; mostly ups, which is certainly a bonus.

Anyway, fast-forward to the Worst Moment of Our Lives, which was March 15, 2016 (the suckiest year ever, by the way), when our son died. Over the course of the next few months, I heard, more than once, that the death of a child tends to increase the chance of divorce. This didn’t happen in my household (thank God). Interestingly enough, when I turned to handy-dandy Google, a quick bit of research showed that this particular urban legend wasn’t true. The divorce rate was not exasperated by the death of a child. In fact, the future of the marriage, after such a traumatic event, was pretty much a crap shoot.

Personally, I don’t really care one way or the other about statistics; I just don’t want my own marriage to fail. For any reason, but, frankly, especially for this one. Because I need someone to lean on, and while I have myriad of friends and family, they just aren’t…him.

My husband and I are different. Vastly so. He’s conservative, I’m not. He’s traditional, I’m not (except for Christmas traditions. I love Christmas traditions). When we got married, he was insistent I change my last name, while I was worried I would lose the identity I’d established over the previous twenty-six years (I changed the name and didn’t lose the identity, for the record).

Not surprisingly, we grieve differently, too. I am utterly emotional, a crying mess on a fairly regular occasion, whereas he likes to lock everything into a box and throw it to the bottom of the sea, and he gets really upset when those damn emotions surface… again.

And he has been my rock, in ways I could never imagine or expect (not that anyone remotely expects to lose a child). He not only lets me cry on his shoulder, he grabs me and sort of shoves my face into his shirt when I’m crying, which sounds weird but actually helps. He tells me all the time I’m not (insert whatever self-deprecating description) for feeling the way I do, even X number of months later (because some people think there’s a timeline on grief). He has never once questioned or criticized the way I have grieved. Am still grieving. Will probably always grieve.

Last week, we went to a funeral viewing for my cousin’s wife’s mother. We didn’t know her; we went to support my cousin and his wife. I grew up with my cousin, who is only a year older than me, and they have been married for 25 years, so she has been in my life for more than half of it. Plus, she’s a pretty cool person.

There were a lot of reasons my husband could have said he didn’t want to go, or at the very least, whined about going. He doesn’t know this side of my family particularly well; we don’t see them all that often, even though most live within an hour’s drive. We didn’t actually know the deceased. The funeral home was an hour away. Our daughter had basketball practice. It was the first day of his vacation. It was supposed to snow. The dog needed exercise. We’d just been through this and GAWD I wasn’t sure I was ready to step foot into a funeral home again.

You know what he did? Well, he didn’t question my decision to go. He arranged for his mother to get our daughter to basketball practice. He planned his day so he’d be ready to go at the time I suggested we leave, so we could get there, have enough time to mingle with the family and hug the bereaved, and get back with enough time to pick the kid up after practice. Not once did he complain or whine or bitch or even make any sort of remark about our relationship with these people we went out of our way to visit.

He dressed up, he listened to my directions to the funeral home, and he stood awkwardly in the background while I hugged and chatted with cousins and aunts and uncles I hadn’t seen in far too long, and he didn’t give me the stink eye or signal that he was ready to go, and he didn’t criticize a single thing about the day or the decision, even after we’d climbed back into our vehicle and headed to the school to scoop up the prodigy and grab a late dinner and head home to reality.

And because of all that, I think I fell a little more in love with my husband this day.

Holy crap, did I just write a sappy blog post about my husband?? I’m never gonna live this down…

PS – I don’t always write sappy blog posts. Check out my website for proof: http://tamilund.com/tamis-thoughts/

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The Write Resolution

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As I struggle through the first-round edits of my next novel, I realize that, again—just like last year—my New Year’s resolution really should be to write every day. This book should have been done months ago! If I had committed, and followed through, on writing at least 1000 words a day, it would have been completed in less than three months.

And 1000 words a day isn’t an unreasonable goal, at least for me. What happens is I get too caught up in the marketing aspect: Facebook posts, Tweets, blogs, updating my website. Fiddling with the next book trailer. Agonizing over the next cover image. This is all necessary, but in reality? I often use it as an excuse NOT to open that WIP manuscript.

Funny, but that’s the most painful step. Because once I actually open the document and read over the last few paragraphs I’ve written, I’m immediately drawn back into the story. Writing the next few sentences usually isn’t all that difficult.success-1909823_640

As every successful author and publisher will tell you, the best way to sell more books is to write the next one. I can tell you this is the absolute truth. Every time I’ve come out with another title, my debut SMP novel jumps in the Amazon rankings. That’s no coincidence. That is, as I’ve heard it called, the “funnel effect.” Once a reader discovers one of your books and likes it, they go out and look for other books you’ve written.

My goal is come out with three books a year. I did it in 2016, and by God, I’m doing it in 2017 too.

So this year, I’m committing to 1000 words a day. Even if I have to break it up into three segments: some before I leave for work, a few hundred on my lunch break, and the rest in the evening. Even if my Facebook friends start to feel neglected, or worry I might have fallen off the face of the Earth. Even if I have to trade in that after-dinner Bailey’s for a real, caffeine-loaded cup of coffee.

After all, I can always add the Bailey’s to the coffee . . .

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GOT YOUR RESOLUTIONS READY?

Good morning all.

This year has really flown by. And the holidays have come and gone. But not completely. Not yet. We can’t forget about New Year’s Day.

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That magical time between this year and next when we toss out the old and welcome the new. When we set goals for the future and make heartfelt promises to change something in our lives.

You know what I’m talking about.

IT’S RESOLUTION TIME!!

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Do you know the most common New Year’s resolutions people make (and sometimes fail)? I’m sure you can guess most, if not all, of the top 5. Ready? Here we go…

1. LOSE WEIGHT

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This usually takes the #1 spot in New Year resolutions. Everyone wants to look better and feel better. This resolution is entirely achievable with two simple (well, maybe not so simple) things:
A. EXERCISE
B. EAT HEALTHY

2. QUIT SMOKING

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This is a close second to losing weight and may be even harder. But with support and special anti-smoking aides, it’s a goal that is entirely possible obtain.

3. STOP DRINKING

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This is another health conscious goal which can be reached with the proper support system.

4. GET A NEW JOB

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Who wouldn’t want a great job that they can both make good money at and enjoy?

5. SPEND MORE TIME WITH  FAMILY AND FRIENDS

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I love this one the best because when it all comes down to it, these are the people that matter most. Not the money, not the success. But those people that you Love.

Now, that you know about the most common resolutions for New Year’s, what about some of less ordinary? These next ones may not be the top of most people’s list of achievable goals but perhaps at least some of them should be.

I’m talking about random acts of kindness. Helping your fellow man, making someone smile, brightening a person’s day. All without being asked to or profiting from it all. (Well except for the good feeling  of being a kind and caring individual. That’s a pretty good pay off. )

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LET SOMEONE GO IN FRONT OF YOU IN LINE

We all get busy during the day and many of us wait in line for coffee, lunch, post office, etc. So when you find yourself waiting in a line, let someone go in front of you. They will really appreciate the gesture and you’ll feel great having done your random act of kindness.

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DONATE FOOD TO VICTIMS OF DISASTERS

Many people are affected by natual disasters every day. Disasters such as fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and mudslides. You can donate canned food and water to people who need help.

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PUT CHANGE IN A PARKING METER

If you notice a car’s parking meter is about to expire, put some change in.

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DONATE YOUR HAIR

If you have long hair, you can cut your hair short and donate your hair to a foundation that uses it to make wigs for people with cancer.

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TAKE A FINANCIAL WEIGHT OFF SOMEONE’S SHOULDERS

Help someone who is financially hurting.

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SHELTER ANIMAL ADOPTION FEE

Many shelters have an adoption fee for their dogs or cats. Leave the correct dollar amount for that particular shelter and ask that they use it for a family that is looking to adopt a dog.

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TIP BIG

Give a tip that makes the waitress/waiter do a double take.

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THANK A VETERAN

Write a veteran a note thanking them for their service, and put it under their windshield.

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PAY IT FORWARD

When in line at a restaurant/coffee shop, etc., show your kindness by randomly paying for your own order AND the order of the person in line behind you, and expect nothing in return. This will make a person’s day, and will hopefully motivate that person to pay this act of kindness forward.

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PLANT A TREE

Trees are important to the world we live in because they help control the climate, filter the air we breathe, protect us from weather and create a natural, beautiful environment.

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THANK YOUR PARENTS

Have you ever said “thank you” to your parents or another person who raised you for everything they have done? If not, it’s time to. Surprise them with a card or letter, to let them know you appreciate them.

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BRING FLOWERS TO SOMEONE

Make floral arrangements for a senior center, nursing home or hospital. You don’t have to know someone to bring them flowers. Beautiful flowers will brighten anyone’s day!

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DONATE USED CLOTHING

Some families aren’t able to buy the clothing they need. So donate the ones you don’t use or want to those less fortunate.

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SUPPORT A LITTLE KNOWN AUTHOR

There are many new authors in the world and each one has their own unique voice. Why not buy one of their books and read their story? Be sure to leave a review after your done. One of the biggest compliments and highlights in an author’s life is a review. 

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DONATE BLOOD

The next time you hear about a blood drive in your area, make the decision to go and give blood. Or be proactive and find the local blood bank in your area set up an appointment to donate. Did you know that nearly 4.5 million Americans are saved each year by blood transfusions?

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ADOPT A SOLDIER

Raise a soldier’s spirits by adopting a soldier as a pen pal. Showing your encouragement and gratitude for the hard work they do will be greatly appreciated.

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PICK UP TRASH

Beautify your surroundings! Be kind to the environment and those around you by picking up trash when you see it lying around. It doesn’t matter who left it there, just pick it up!

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THANK YOUR POLICE OR FIRE DEPARTMENT

Stop and take a minute to think about all the work our police and fire departments do in your community. Every day, hundreds of men and women risk their lives to make sure that we are safe. How impressive is that? Why not tell these people how thankful you are for their services?

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READ TO THE ELDERLY

Living a long life is a great gift to those who receive it. There are many gratifying things that come along with old age. But why not give them a gift as well? Don’t like to read? That’s okay. You could do something else like play a game, talk, or watch a movie with them.

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        So, with all of these ideas,

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Whatever you decide to set your sights on, do it to the best of your ability and with your whole heart. And better yet, don’t just make goals for the start of a new year, make them all year long.

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Marisa Makes Memories

Rogue One. This could be the name of a historical romance book. But instead, it’s the title of the newly released film in the Star Wars anthology series breaking box office records.rogueone_onesheeta_1000_309ed8f6

“There be more Star Wars movies?” you ask.

“Yes,” according to Rolling Stone Magazine.

The promise of more Star Wars stories in production is good news for fans who had to wait 10 years between the third film of the prequel trilogy and last year’s release, The Force Awakens. Plans are for subsequent prequel releases in 2017 and 2019, and anthologies for 2018 and 2020, according to reports from Lucas Films.

The prospect of yearly installments of the space drama for movie buffs is as enticing as a book series from our favorite author in a year’s time or less. That’s because we can be impatient, insatiable – or just darn needy when it comes to getting our fix of great storytelling. Who wants to wait a week between TV drama episodes, for example, when we can binge watch them instead?

Whether on the big screen, small screen, local book store shelf, or as an e-book on Amazon, the time has come when writers must produce more complex stories, involving multiple series, quicker than ever before.

Take George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series on HBO, now filming the seventh season to be released in the summer of 2017. It will consist of seven episodes, not the standard 10. The series is outpacing the books it was based on – five tombs written over fifteen years with the last one published in 2011.game-of-thrones-season-4-trailer

Even Martin backed away from most of the hands-on duties he took on in the earlier seasons. He said he’s been focusing on writing his sixth and seventh “Thrones” books and is opposed to rushing them to match the series. Martin said he wants his novels “to stand the test of times for decades, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.”

His message was good storytelling shouldn’t be rushed. However, when storytelling becomes big business, and the public’s thirst for it is great, authors and scriptwriters are pressured to answer the 911 call to be successful.

If money is the best barometer of successful storytelling, then the Game of Thrones books and the Star Wars films have reached the pinnacle. Author Martin earned $51 million between 2013 and the end of 2015, according to Forbes Magazine. In addition, it has been reported that The Star Wars franchise has earned an estimated $42 billion from its inception. Of that, The Force Awakens was the fastest film to gross $1 billion dollars. It took just 12 days. That’s due in part to return of Harrison Ford as Captain Hans Solo and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.  star-wars-princess-leia-sixth-scale-hot-toys-feature-902490

Yet, as we mourn Fisher’s untimely death, she will continue to have immense box office power and will no doubt fuel the latest entry in the beloved franchise. Her character will live on in the Star Wars scripts yet to be written as fans eagerly await for her story to be told and your readers wait for yours.

As princess Leia would say, “May the Force be with you.”

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