Wednesday Wellness: Planning Ahead for the Holidays and Gift-Giving

listHappy Wednesday Wellness, Friends! I started writing about wellness as I noted that so many of my friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my wellness journey!

I haven’t always liked to plan. I’d been spontaneous all my life, until becoming a mom.  Then I started seeing the value of planning, researching and mapping out. I discovered the crafty stickering planning community. I still love the shiny sparkles of whatever whims, though, and the stickers really help!  (Read more about my planning here.) Yes, organized chaos is a too a thing.

I just dusted off my 12 year historical gift giving spreadsheet, as I do every September.  I review the prior year for completeness, copy and paste a new year, and clear the contents.  I also add any new recipients, and sadly, hide anyone necessary. I don’t actually delete anyone, I just hide the row.  I may need to check what I got beloved Aunt Barbara before she passed away, as it may be a good idea for somebody else in the future. I also study last years budget vs. spend.  If I spent less for somebody, maybe that’s my new budget.  If I spent more on somebody, maybe that’s my new budget!  My niece became a teen this year, so her new budget is now the same as her older brother.  See?

This is a gift-giving list, reference, and budget, all in one. My own family has a ton of birthdays September through January, so I track those here, too. Many times as my own children approached certain ages, I’d scroll back and look at what I got my godson when he turned 12, for instance. Or, where did I get that musical teapot that all two year old girls seem to love?  Scroll back- and I see the store and the price.  Have I already given so-and-so my favorite book?  Scroll back to that year I gave most everybody the same book… oh look, so-and-so wasn’t on my list yet at that time.   See what I mean? Super helpful.

Here is a snapshot of a clean year.  I started on Excel, but I moved it to Google Sheets last year.  (I blacked out my budget so that my dear family members won’t see what I’ve budgeted for them.) But you can see from this template what I’m doing.  Many of my family members have two entries for their two occasions.  So I start shopping in September, and spread my shopping budget over ten paychecks (through January).

Pro-Tip: Enter your spouse and children’s gifts in white font, so they won’t see it on the printout.

list

Nota Bene: Creative Gifts. Two years ago I made necklaces for my best friends and sweet cousins. So last year I made a different kind of necklace for them.  Earlier this year, my daughter and I made her a memory quilt using her favorite t shirts that she had outgrown.

quilt

We made this Memory Quilt together!

As my godson approaches college age, its something I’d consider doing for him.  But I may outsource such a big project.  This may change my budget.  Or, I may bookmark that for his Graduation. I’m learning how to knit, maybe I will knit scarves and give some out as gifts!  Oh hey, I WROTE A BOOK THIS YEAR! maybe I can give somebody on my list a copy of my book.   (Maybe I can afford to outsource that quilt after all.)

I hope you enjoyed learning about my planning tool.  Let me know if you try it this gift-giving season!

How do YOU organize your shopping?

 

 

Advertisements

Book Tour: Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown (Guest Post)

Friends, Readers and Writers- welcome Aimee Brown, author of chicklit romcom Little Gray Dress has written us a delightful spot on her story’s location. Check out her post below!

Little Gray Dress Banner

Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown Book Trailer

Guest Post Header

How I chose Portland, Oregon for the setting in Little Gray Dress

Portland Oregon is a city near and dear to my heart. I grew up in a tiny town about an hour and a half south of Portland called Sweet Home, Oregon. (That’s right, it’s not just in Alabama.) As a kid I always loved going to the city for events, zoo trips and shopping. As an adult my husband took a job as an EMT for a Portland based company in 2005. We moved our family the 90+ miles north and settled in NW Portland.

A lot of the book takes place in the West Hills (the same one mentioned in Everclear’s ‘I Will Buy You a New Life’ song (video below)– he is from Portland!) & NW Portland as that was my side of town and I’d know it with my eyes closed. I also threw in other areas of PDX along with the fabulous downtown area and airport.

https://youtu.be/W05cPXpUHGI?t=1s

I’ve spent a lot of time all over downtown doing everything from concerts at the Crystal Ballroom to the Saturday Market, Waterfront festivals (waterfront pictured below), even spending hours upon hours at Powell’s Books. Downtown Portland is unlike most cities I’ve been to. There is so much diversity in the people, shops and events, and it’s so busy in the downtown areas 24/7.
portland

I remember my first time in Oklahoma City and discovering that hardly anyone was downtown walking the streets checking things out. That was SO weird to me having moved from Portland!

Some of the hotels downtown PDX are simply breathtaking as well. I knew I needed to have Evan & Hannah’s wedding in one of them. I actually used Google for this part to see what hotel’s are popular for swanky weddings at this point in time and came up with the Hilton Executive Tower in downtown Portland. It sits right in the center of the city across the street from the Portland Town Center. I may make up the rich life but I’ve never lived it. I’ve not ever actually stayed there but you better believe I’d be up for a free night now that I’ve given them some free promo. 😊 I’m kidding… kind of. LOL

I absolutely couldn’t write about Portland without including the airport and it’s once infamous ugly carpet (pictured below). They’ve since changed the carpet to something a little more modern but still similar to the old and even though it’s not the legendary one from the 80’s (maybe before?) it’s still pretty popular on Instagram. pdx

I also included a beach town I’ve always loved visiting and that is Lincoln City, Oregon (pictured below). I’ll admit, I’ve mostly visited Lincoln City for it’s fabulous outlet mall but it’s really a fun beachy town with a lot to see and do. The hotel in the story, however, isn’t real. oregonbeach
I have a feeling because I know Portland well and grew up in Oregon that most of my books will be set there. It’s what I know and it’s a state that doesn’t get a lot of attention as settings in books. The Pacific Northwest is gorgeous, green, rainy and full of my family and friends. That alone makes using it as a setting near and dear to my heart.

I’ve no doubt I’ll throw in the random places I’ve lived over the last eight years like; Reno, Nevada (and the gorgeous nearby Lake Tahoe), Norman, Oklahoma (& surrounding cities) and Helena, Montana (& possibly some of its great National Parks.).

It’s been a lot of fun talking about places I’ve loved visiting over the years like Dallas, Texas & Tahoe. I’ve been moving around the country with my family, following my husbands job for just about eight years and I’ve had so many experiences that will likely make appearances in my future books. I’ve had such a great time going down memory lane from visiting the old Cowboy touristy town Virginia City (where Samuel Clemens was a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise Newspaper in 1863) dozens of times while living in Reno to the May 2013 EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma (just a few miles from my own home in Norman) destroying a lot of my friends homes. While neither of these events is in Little Gray Dress, you never know where they might end up.

I’m excited to memoralize, honor and include so many of these places and memories in my books as a piece of me that can entertain you while you read.

Friday Friends: Jenny Burke

Happy Friday, Friends!  It is my honor to host authors, readers, and book lovers on Fridays. Today I am delighted to introduce you to author Jenny Burke! Jenny writes fascinating fiction AND creates beautiful jewelry.  I am ordering some earrings and I can’t wait to read her books!

DRAGON DREAMER BANNER DIVER J.S. Burke COME READ #1.jpg

Welcome, Jenny!
1.So, what have you written?

First, thank you for inviting me to be on your marvelous blog!

I’ve written two stand-alone books in the Dragon Dreamer series. There are two books in the Crystal Science educational series (used in school systems). I’ve nearly completed an adult coloring book with the fantasy snowflakes that my dragons grow in the winter clouds.

The Dragon Dreamer books have clean science fantasy adventure. They’re layered for readers age 9 to 99. This series of stand-alone books can be read on many levels. One reviewer wrote that the Dragon Dreamer story has a “profound human message.” Another mentions a 2-yr-old obsessed with the octopus heroine Scree. He’s made a Healer bag like Scree’s and wants to be an octopus for Halloween. Several reviews recommend these books for all ages.

 

2.What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?

I love art, science, math, writing, music, history. I work to protect the environment and I support “being” rights. We’re “human beings”, an octopus is an “ocean being”, dogs and cats are “furry beings”. All beings deserve to be treated with consideration.

3.Are you a Pantser or a Planner?

I do some planning, but I’m more of a pantster. My characters tell me their stories and I write them.

4.Tell us about your love of marine biology.

The sea is vast, beautiful, exotic, and much remains unexplored. I decided when I was eight years old to become a marine biologist, so I studied science and math. When my science funding fell through, I supported myself as an artist to get my degrees.

I love marine biology! I’ve conducted research onboard ships and while diving; my research papers are published in science journals. This career is a good fit for anyone with many interests!

The Dragon Dreamer books share my love of the sea and allow me to be more creative. Arak, a misfit golden dragon, loves “the smell and taste of sea spray, the rhythmic sound of the waves, and the remarkable colors. Sunrise waves were purple and rose. Sometimes the sea sparkled like a field strewn with cut diamonds.”

5.What is one unusual thing about you?

Art is my first love. I drew illustrations for my research papers and cartoons for my Crystal education books. I painted the covers for my Dragon Dreamer books and drew a fantasy flake or illustration for each chapter. I’ve made a line of jewelry based on the Dragon Dreamer books. So, I must like Art as much as Science. Both are based on patterns.

6.What music inspires you?

I love Pachelbel’s Canon played on the harp! This is tied to many memories.

7.How many books did you read last year?

I read about 20 books; not as many as I’d like to read! I also read perhaps 100 articles to learn more.

9.What are you working on right now?

I’m drawing more fantasy snowflakes for my coloring book and writing Book III of the Dragon Dreamer series. It’s fun to see the world through the eyes of a dragon or an octopus!

10.What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?

I watch “Dr. Who” and re-runs of “The Big Bang Theory.” I like things a bit off-beat and with humor, when possible.

11.Do you have a theme song?

Perhaps “Octopus’ Garden” by the Beatles. J

12.What is one thing you would tell your younger self?

Start writing sooner!

13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Thank you Denise and everyone who stops by and reads this!

BIO:
J. S. Burke is an author, artist, chemist, teacher, and marine biologist, studying creatures of the dark abyss and diving on coral reefs. Her stories blend imagination with real science and author experiences. She lives in Georgia with her family and rescue companions.

The Dragon Dreamer series grew from her years at sea, a fascination with the alien, intelligent octopuses, and a love of dragons. This science fantasy series has flying dragons, an undersea world, and unexpected friendships.

Crystal Geometry has hands-on activities that use the angles of beautiful crystals to explore chemistry and geometry. Crystal Colors has math and science activities with shells, crystals, and a huge fossil shark’s tooth. The sea finds a way to enter.

 

 

MEDIA LINKS:

Author Website: http://www.jennysburke.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8283255.J_S_Burke
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-S.-Burke/e/B00NVRVHWE/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jenny-S-Burke-721518861218158/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheDragonDreamr
Google+: https://plus.google.com/109374949212770892369

BOOK LINKS FOR THE DRAGON DREAMER:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Dreamer-J-S-Burke-ebook/dp/B00K9DHTU2/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dragon-Dreamer-J-S-Burke/dp/0996042504/
Amazon CAN: https://www.amazon.ca/Dragon-Dreamer-J-S-Burke-ebook/dp/B00K9DHTU2/
Amazon AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Dragon-Dreamer-J-S-Burke/B00K9DHTU2/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22886684-the-dragon-dreamer
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dragon-dreamer-j-s-burke/1120629824
ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-dragon-dreamer/id933034842
KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-dragon-dreamer

BOOK LINKS FOR DRAGON LIGHTNING:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MA1ZOJ6/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Dragon-Lightning-Dreamer-Book/0996042563/
Amazon CAN: https://www.amazon.ca/Dragon-Lightning-Dreamer-Book-ebook/dp/B01MA1ZOJ6/
Amazon AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/Dragon-Lightning-Dreamer-Book-ebook/dp/B01MA1ZOJ6/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32598789-dragon-lightning
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragon-lightning-j-s-burke/1124857029
ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1166420789
KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/dragon-lightning

 

Wednesday Wellness: Rebalance

Hi, Friends!

I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, because I noted that so many of my creative friends struggle with wellness, as do I.  Join me on my journey as I muse and make mistakes.  And some discoveries along the way.

It has been a while since I posted on Wellness.  I worked really hard on completing my book and launching it.  The soft launch and book tour went really well. And then I got a little overwhelmed.

Which means I need to practice some self-care.

Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is to NOT write a blog post.  It sounds counter-productive, but it’s true.

Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is to Not Eat That Cookie. But sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is to Just Eat It, Already. Sometimes I need to crank up the 90s angsty music and sing along, but not if it’s going to make me grumpy the rest of the day.  Sometimes I need to watch TV with my husband, but not if it will keep me up past my bedtime.  Sometimes I need to skip going to Mass, and instead take a long drive to go see the Harp Twins perform live in concert. You get it.

Sometimes it is time to rebalance.  You know how you should look at your 401k allotments once a year to see if you need to rebalance. Anyone?  Well, sometimes you need to do that in your life, too.

I have just discovered creative planning.  I happened upon this subculture of crafty planners on instagram and on Facebook.  Now my readers know, I am an INFP and I had always preferred spontaneity to planning, until becoming a working mom.  Then I discovered the value of Plan, to have Fun!

I used to scrapbook, and I also do collage journals.  I am currently using the Leonie Dawson Shining Year planner– which I think is really fantastic for planning goals and achieving dreams.  Imagine my delight when I happened upon a planner community that uses creative embellishments in their planners!  TA-DAH! And a choir of angels sang.  Or, Ewoks.  Allelu- Ta-Dah! Yub! Yub! (original release, people!)

As I looked at my weekly spread for this week, and I noted that all the entries were for my kids ‘  activities.  It’s softball season, and there’s also band practice, drum lessons, 3rd Grade Musical, mentor sessions. It’s a lot to coordinate. And don’t get me wrong, I love it.  But sometimes seeing it all written out like that, makes it painfully obvious.  I need some Me Time.

journey

So I am going to see my favorite massage therapist during my lunch, today.  And maybe pick up some Kombucha on the way back to the office.

What are YOU doing for yourself?

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Friday Friends: Dylan Quinn

Happy Friday, Friends!  I have been featuring authors, bloggers and readers on Fridays for the past year.  It is my way of giving back to the community. Let’s hear it for #humanswholovebooks! 

Today I am delighted to feature author Dylan Quinn, who not only has a new book coming out, she has a special free offer TODAY.  Gemini is free on Amazon today. Be sure to click on over to download Gemini (link below). Welcome, Dylan! 
image

1. So, what have you written?

What haven’t I written? Lol. When I was five, I would sing songs and make up stuff as I walked to and from school. From there I started writing songs, poems, and short stories. In college, I wrote for the school newspaper and was eventually promoted to editor-in-chief. I got my journalism degree and started freelancing for online news magazines. And finally, in 2015, I finished Gemini in FIVE weeks, my first full-length book and have written two since then, Perfectly Flawed, a RS novel, and Origin, the follow-up to Gemini.

2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?

Music. It’s my first true love. I was a vocal music performance major and on the road to becoming a singer when life intervened, and my path veered off in another direction, but I sing and listen to music every waking minute and can’t function without it.
And writing. It’s more than just a hobby or a career. I was one of those people who felt invisible, but writing gave me a voice. I found myself when I started to write.

As for causes, one is empowering women. I was raised by a single mom, and I’m a single mom. Women feel like they have to do it all, be it all, and have it all. It’s exhausting, and I see women at each other’s throats rather than supporting them. Woman up and stick together, ladies.

Finally, my youngest son has Autism. It will always be something I support and care deeply for.

3. Are you a Pantser or a Planner?

While I do occasionally attempt to plan out my books, I’ve found that pantsing is the way to go. Of the three books I’ve written, only one was plotted, and TBH, I had SO much more editing to do for that book than I did the pantsing books. That said, I’ve since retired from major plotting. I do have scene ideas in my head that I try to come up with, but I often find myself creating supporting characters on the fly that end up having HUGE roles later in the stories, as well as random scenes that evolve into huge plotlines. That totally happened in both Gemini and Origin! So yeah. Pantsers unite!

4. Tell us about your love of Moscato and chocolate-covered strawberries?

I’m known for having a major sweet tooth, and Moscato D’asti (sweet fizzy beverage fun) and chocolate-covered strawberries are my fave celebratory snacks! I eat my CCS like I eat pizza… I peel off the top (the yummy chocolate covering) first, then move on the juicy strawberry hiding inside. Yum.

5. What is one unusual thing about you?

I can sometimes control my dreams. As in, I can fall asleep thinking of something and dream about it. And I write about it! For reals.

6. What music inspires you?

OMG, SO much I can’t even! I have playlists for everything. When I’m writing a fighting scene and need something upbeat, when I’m writing romantic schmexy scenes, and everything in between. I love hard rock, to alternative, pop and top 40, folk music and even musicals like Wicked… Boom.

7. How many books did you read last year?

I was an intern for Entangled Publishing last year, so I probably read about 20 for them? As for myself, I’d say between editing and reading for fun, add another 15-20? So yeah. Maybe 40?

8. Ranch or Blue Cheese?

Ranch.

9. What are you working on right now?

I have to start by saying I’m a wicked multi-tasker, so at any given moment, I have multiple projects in the works. I’m currently writing Genesis the final segment of Cade and Zoe’s story in the Eternal Sacrifice Saga and planning all its companion novels/novellas I hope to publish in the next few years (about 6-7, including a spin-off series!). I’ve started writing a sexy contemporary romance series (w/suspense) and I’m editing book 1 and planning its follow-ups as well as spin off ideas. And finally, I’m doing character development and research for a contemporary romantic suspense standalone I hope to release before the end of the year. Whew. I’m tired now!

10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?

Well, The Vampire Diaries are always somewhere in the background (what can I say, I’m a hardcore Damon Salvatore fan) and when I have time, I find shows that I can use for research. Revenge and Royal Pains (I’m starting a series based in the Hamptons next summer!) Movies, I’ve been watching gambling shows like Twenty-One and Rounders (more research). Whenever I need some inspiration for fighting scenes, I watch John Wick and for romance, I watch Crazy, Stupid Love or The Time Traveller’s Wife.

11. Do you have a theme song?

It’s a total tie: Woman Up by Meghan Trainer and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished from the wicked soundtrack. *drops mic*

12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self?

Trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut.

13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Just a message… Your voice matters. Sing it, baby!

* * *

Gemini is the first novel in my Romantic Contemporary Fantasy Series, Eternal Sacrifice. There will be three more full-length novels and three novellas to be published between now and August, 2017.

Title: Gemini
Series: Eternal Sacrifice, Book One
Author: Dylan Quinn
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance/New Adult Romance
Themes: Family, mythology, angels and demons, coming of age
Heat Level: Mild (See author’s note below)
Publisher: 621-Phoenix Publishing
Release Date: June 21, 2016

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gemini-Eternal-Sacrifice-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B01DVNQQSW/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8#nav-subnav

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29847798-gemini

Message from the author on heat level:
Gemini is not your typical NA/steamy read. It’s a romantic coming of age story that shows the natural progression of Cade and Zoe’s relationship. That said, there is plenty of romance and sexual tension between them, and the heat level will increase as their relationship evolves naturally throughout the series.

Dylan’s Social Media Links:
Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

dylanquinnMeet Dylan Quinn:
Since sneak reading her first big girl romance at the age of eleven, Dylan’s been addicted to Happily Ever Afters. Playing pretend with adorable book boyfriends and their strong leading ladies often keeps her sleep deprived, though she seldom complains about dreaming in dialogue.

With juxtaposed interests, Dylan writes it all ~ Character-driven romance in YA, NA and adult, from sticky sweet to taboo heat. From Urban and Contemporary Fantasy to PNR, and Contemporary to Romantic Suspense. Nothing’s off limits.

When she’s not writing guilty pleasures, Dylan plays stage mom to her daydreamer offspring and her furbaby kitty Loki. This music fangirl goes nowhere without her beats and playlists. She has an affinity for Moscato and chocolate-covered strawberries. Dreams of singing on the Voice with Adam and Christina, and fantasizes about getting trapped in Mystic Falls with Damon Salvatore.

 

image
Two Souls. One Sacrifice.
His love was worth dying for
Is their love worth dying for, or is five incarnations more than one soul can take?

Gemini Description:
Northwestern University senior Zoe Adams has spent her fifth incarnation on the run. Abused and abandoned by those she once trusted, Zoe turns her back on a duty her soul accepted lifetimes ago to focus on a music career in this one. Until her Gemini Twin Soul’s untimely arrival forces Zoe to choose between a love she can’t remember and a life she’s always dreamed of.

Cade Adams has waited twenty-one years to reclaim his beloved soul mate, but his elation is short lived. As Zoe struggles to let go of her human life, demons from Cade’s past threaten the Gemini, and he finds himself living on borrowed time.

With more than just the fate of their reunion at stake, love becomes an Eternal Sacrifice Zoe and Cade may not escape.

gemini1

Fashion portrait of young beautiful pretty girl posing against lilac bushes in blossom

Gemini Excerpt published with permission © 2016 Dylan Quinn

Cade
While I held her, every nerve woke from its slumber. My heartbeat increased, a hum of electricity coursed through me. Just being near her was intoxicating.
I wanted so much to kiss her lips, but I wouldn’t. Not until she wanted me to. Until her body spoke to me.
“So what can you tell me?” she asked. “What’s the plan?”
“The plan is you get to know me. The way all relationships develop.” I released her just enough to see her eyes. “We spend time together, and your heart will answer the rest. And when you so choose, I am yours—heart and soul.”
Although in time, she would understand that I already was.
“What’s the catch? Other than giving up my life here and going to Aravot? I need all the information if I’m going to make a decision this big.”
“There is a reason you cannot be privy to all the secrets of this life. This must be a decision made by your soul. No logic can go into choosing love.”
Her eyes narrowed, irritation returned.
“Well in case you’ve missed the past millennium, people today don’t just fall in love overnight. Life’s not a Disney movie.” She pulled away.
I let her go, and pushed my hands into my pockets.
She was right. Unions in modern times were complicated. There were many variables humans considered in choosing a mate and Zoe, although the same soul, had different experiences during each lifetime. I could not force her to love me or to choose our life together, as much as I wished that I could.
Each of her lives was a lesson for me as well—in relinquishing control. All I could do was trust in her heart and our love. Trust her soul would remember me.
“I realize all things in life are a choice. I would never force you to love me. And I would never choose my happiness over yours, but yes. I am hoping your heart will choose me.”
Her shoulders relaxed, eyes softened, but never left mine. Her breathing slowed, and her lips parted slightly, just enough to send my heart racing.
My Gemini mark began to pulse. To burn.
I wanted to kiss her. She wanted to kiss me.
After thousands of years loving Zoe, I could read her body as if it were my own.
The flush of her cheeks. Her forehead glistening with perspiration. The way she leaned, shuffled her feet, inhaled short breaths. Her gaze drifting between my mouth and my eyes. The tilt of her head. Her parted lips parting, skimming them with her teeth.
Searching her body for what Raz called her ‘tells,’ I first glanced at her eyes. They were always so telling. They skipped about my face.
Her breaths became shallow, lips parted. A pink flush spread across her high cheekbones as she leaned toward me, shifting nervously between her feet.
Should I kiss her? Part of me was unsure, but my body betrayed my wits.
I had waited twenty-one years for this moment. I could wait no longer.
I stepped closer, inhaled her sweet scent. Lessened the space between us.
Her eyes grew wider, lips parted. Waiting.
I could nearly hear her heart pulsing erratically.
She gave her answer.
“My greatest desire is for you to find happiness.”
I stepped closer. Picked up a long strand of her dark locks, and tucked it behind her ear. Ran my fingers along her jaw. Gently grasped her chin, stroked her bottom lip with my thumb, then shifted toward her.
“You have no memory of our life before this. But I’ve seen us together.” I wrapped my arms around her waist. Pulled her closer, our lips just fractions apart. Our gaze frozen.
“And I will always. Choose us.”
I leaned in, her soft breath blew against my cheek. I pressed my lips to hers. Gentle. Soft. Trembling.
The tingling sensation I had missed so much returned, ran rampant through my body.
I pulled back, not more than a centimeter, to gauge her response.
Her eyes remained closed, lips parted. Waiting for my return.
I brushed my lips to hers, gentle then deeper. They parted further still, and I edged my way in, exploring her sweet mouth.
My body shuddered, a searing heat rushed through me—through my chest, my arms and tingling within my muscles.
Every fiber of my soul, now burned for her. Alive from her touch.
Zoe fell into my embrace, let go of all the tension she’d been holding. She wrapped her arms around my neck, pressed her chest against mine, and tangled her fingers through the hair behind my neck. Moved them down my cheeks, then to my shoulders and waist.
The exploration of her soft fingertips brought my body to life. My soul. Everything woke inside of me.
She pressed her kiss deeper into mine, soft at first, then fervently, as if this was our last.
Her walls were breaking down—the pain replaced with a longing for our love.
She would soon remember everything, and I would have my Chayah back.
Our souls converged as one.
Zoe broke our kiss. Pulled back and gasped for a breath. Slowly, she opened her eyes.
Minutes passed. She relaxed, hands still holding my waist. Her gaze drifted up, peered at me through ebony lashes.
Tears slid from her glistening green eyes. “It’s you.”
I placed my hands on her warm cheeks, held her gently. Gazed into her eyes, breezed my whisper of admission across her cheek.
“It’s me.”

 

Click here for your free download of Gemini!

Friday Friends: Katie Oliver &What Would Lizzy Bennet Do?

Happy Friday, Friends! I started hosting authors and booklovers on Fridays as a way of giving back to the wonderful book community. It is my pleasure to feature author Katie Oliver today.  I started reading her book on my recent vacation: What would Lizzy Bennet Do? And it’s fabulous Austenian chick lit fun!  Welcome, Katie!
image1. So, what have you written? – I’ve published nine books to date – three books in the ‘Dating Mr Darcy’ series, three in the ‘Marrying Mr Darcy’ series, and three ‘Jane Austen Factor’ books. My first book, Prada and Prejudice, was a number one bestseller and went on to sell well as a paperback.

Currently I’m working on a new story more in line with my earlier books and having great fun writing it. Two female characters cross paths with two sexy (but very different) men, and there are lots of misunderstandings, laughs, and, of course, romance…

2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart? – Homelessness. People going hungry when perfectly good food is thrown out every day. And I don’t understand people who are deliberately rude or unkind. Like the bumper sticker says, mean people suck.

3. Are you a Pantser or a Planner? – I’m about evenly divided between the two. I’m a planner in that I plot the overall story arc in advance and sketch out my characters’ traits and motives/goals; but everything else I make up as I go along. It’s the best of both worlds, really.

4. Tell us about your love of Jane Austen? I came to Jane Austen a little late. I think I was in my late thirties before I saw the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, which led me to finally read the book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It was amazing. Well-crafted. And it was brimming with wisdom, emotion, and comedic moments. Jane Austen had a rare gift for capturing not only the quirks and foibles of the people in her corner of the world, but of humanity at large. Her works are timeless and universally appealing and will always remain so.

image

5. What is one unusual thing about you? If I didn’t write, I’d love to design and stage home interiors. I could really get into that…choosing the color palette, furnishings, artwork, rugs… Bliss!

6. What music inspires you? Music that evokes a feeling or emotion does the trick. I like pretty much anything by the Clash or Talking Heads, Bonnie Raitt, and Joni Mitchell. Definitely Joni Mitchell. A Woman of Heart and Mind and River are two particular favorites. Salisbury Hill by Peter Gabriel is unforgettable. And of course, I can’t leave out Depeche Mode.

7. How many books did you read last year? Not as many as I wish! Writing makes for less reading time, unfortunately. But I did read some great books by Bill Bryson, Patrick Taylor, Lynda Renham, Lauren Weisburger, Curtis Sittenfeld, and a few others. And I finally read The Secret Diary of Lizzy Bennet – and loved it!

8. Ranch or Blue Cheese? Um… Neither. Does that make me weird?

9. What are you working on right now? I’m writing an American romance set in Texas about a divorced couple who reconnect several years later. I’m also working on resurrecting an old Regency I started years ago and never finished. I’m kind of all over the place writing-wise right now.

10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days? Master Chef, Fixer Upper, Property Brothers (I’m on a home/DIY kick at the moment), and binge-watching Beach House Bargain Hunt. I’ve followed the soap opera, General Hospital, off and on since 1982. And I never tire of a good SpongeBob SquarePants episode.

11. Do you have a theme song? Hmm…as a writer, it would be I Will Survive. For my own theme song, I’d choose Silver Spring by Fleetwood Mac. I love that song, and the lyrics really resonate with me.

image12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self? Lighten up and let it go. In a year, or six months, or even a few days, it won’t matter. So don’t sweat it. And don’t beat yourself up over mistakes you’ve made. We all make ’em. Learn from them and move on.

13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today? If you want to be a writer, go for it. It’s an amazing thing to get published, to be interviewed, to hold your first book in your hands. But know that it’s also a hard road. Develop a thick skin to cope with the inevitable rejections and bad reviews you’ll receive. Be prepared to promote yourself. Get an agent if you can, because he/she will open doors that are closed to un-agented writers.

Most importantly, connect and engage with your readers via Twitter and Facebook. Edit your work ruthlessly. Be polite, and always thank those who take the time to help you. And write the very best book you can.

image

Website/blog: http://katieoliver.com/ko/blog/
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/katieoliver01/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7565829.Katie_Oliver
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@katieoliver01
Carina UK/Pink Ink blog/website – https://pinkinkladies.wordpress.com
BIO:
Katie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband and two parakeets.
Katie’s been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. With her sons grown and gone, she decided to get serious and write more (and hopefully, better) stories. She even finishes most of them.
AMAZON UNIVERSAL BUY LINKS:

THE JANE AUSTEN FACTOR series

What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? – myBook.to/WWLBD

The Trouble With Emma – myBook.to/TroubleWEmma

Who Needs Mr Willoughby? – myBook.to/WNWilloughby

DATING MR DARCY series:

Prada & Prejudice – myBook.to/Prada

Love & Liability – myBook.to/LoveandLiability

Mansfield Lark – myBook.to/MansfieldLark

MARRYING MR DARCY series:

And the Bride Wore Prada – myBook.to/ATBWP

Love, Lies & Louboutins – myBook.to/LoveLiesLouboutins

Manolos in Manhattan – myBook.to/ManolosinManhattan