Wednesday Wellness: Journaling

Welcome, Friends! I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesday’s as I noted many of my friends an creative types struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my journey as I explore mental health and self care, stumbling along the way!

Even before I was an author, I was a writer. I vividly remember when I was six years old, I insisted that my dad drive me downtown to buy a diary. I have always written in one form or another: journals, stories, blogs. (If you write a blog post and nobody reads it, is it a journal?) Did you have a pen pal when you were a kid? I had several. Some of those letters were epic, let me tell you! It was a form of journaling.

Currently I am journaling in no less than five journals. And that’s not even all of them! I can think of two more which I have only temporarily abandoned, and one more which I would like to replace. (Then there’s a really fun one I might want to start up again!) Let me explain.

Each journal has its own function and purpose. I can keep five journals simultaneously because each has its own design and intention. First, I’ll start with my daily planner. Sure, I use it to organize my future plans. But I also use it to keep track of what I do from day to day. See my posts on creative, decorative journaling and how it helps me manage my anxiety. #PlanforMagic Journal No. 1.

Journal No.2. This is my work notebook. Similarly, it is my list collection of daily activities, but at work. This is something i reference often something when I have a similar instance, and want to recall how i processed something. Recently, I changed the way I use it. I now refer to it as my Success Log. See my post here on how to keep a success log. Basically I now track what I did, instead of listing what I have to do. I find this mindset helps keep anxiety at bay. Of course, I till need to track my To Do items, so I write them on Post it’s and stick them on the facing page. This practice reminds me of the Word Banks that we used in creative writing in school. Use these words. Do these things. But it’s okay to keep moving them to the next day, accordingly.

Journal. No. 3. At my birthday brunch a couple of months ago, everybody gave me a journal. How delightful! My besties know me so well. Here is one of them. Isn’t it gorgeous? This one reminds me of Lucy’s journal in the TV series Timeless. I am using this one for traditional journaling, by this i mean recording feelings and processing difficult subjects. Like what, you ask. Oh just the basics, you know, inspiration and mortality…

Journal No. 4 is my book journal. This is a entralized place dedicated to my book writing. It is part organization, part freewriting, part collage. I cut and paste in images, doodle, list, the like. I have some larger worksheets that I fold and insert in the back. I may list questions that I have for further research. I may list websites which have been helpful to reference.

Journal No 5. I received this one as a gift. With my success with my work journal and my personal daily planner, I decided to try this one. It is basically an interactive goal-setting workbook. I appreciate how it guides you. This one is designed for career and professional goals, but I think I am using it more for personal goals. It is like having a personal coach in your back pocket. In the past, I have used Leonie Dawson’s guides for this purpose. Here is a link to the Acheivement Journal I am using now. Here is a link to the Life Goals workbook I have used before.

Not pictured: Gratitude Journal. Last year I used a guided gratitude journal that was in almanac style. I realized quickly that my daily planner (journal no 1) was the source and reference for completing my gratitude journal. Although you can use a gratitude journal daily, I found that I would often have Gratitude Sessions, in which I would sit in a cafe and open my daily planner to where I’d left off in my gratitude journal. I’d review the planner, taking one thing per day to write about in my gratitude journal. I found it to be a great way to savor my memories, as well as my coffee or tea! I began to look forward to my practice of self care in this way.

Travel Journal: I always encourage my children to keep a journal when we are on vacation, just as my parents did for me, when I was a kid. Last summer my daughter and I each created our own travel journals: smaller booklets with diary entries, weather tracking, memorabilia and photos. This is a good, first activity if you are overwhelmed by the idea of journalling, because it is contained and limited in scope. Read my post “Dear Diary” about how special it was to read my friend’s travel journal after she died.

Training journals: I keep a notebook for professional trainings I attend. I keep a separate notebook for personal development sessions- coaching, podcasts, or webinars.

Collage Journal: This was a favorite activity I started in 2011. The memorabilia and paraphernalia is what makes the collage journal magic. Here is a sample of my collage journal spread.

Bullet Journal: this is a modern minimalistic journal practice. It is very trendy now. I have seen examples that are simplistic habit trackers and goals/ lists, and others with ornate doodles and drawings. Usually done with a small journal with grids, you make a table of contents and may use a code. Bullet Journaling/ Bujo also has a cult following. This is another good introduction into journaling. This can be an “everything” journal, in which case you may need to replace it every month. Try it for 30 days. See if it works for you!

Do you journal? What kind of journalling do you practice?

Advertisements

Friday Friends: Yancy Lael & The Reluctant Owlet

Happy Friday, Friends! I love to introduce you to my creative friends and feature their newest creations. I’d already interviewed Yancy before, so I asked her to write about her writing journey. I think you’ll love getting to know Yancy. After reading The Fox at the Door, I was so excited to hear about her newest release ~ a picture book entitled The Reluctant Owlet. Take it away, Yancy!

My path to writing was not a straightforward one, something that still surprises me, to this day. It’s surprising because I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I loved writing and books since I was a very young child. 

By the age of 10, I was 100% certain of my destiny to become a writer. At the time, my parents decided to write a cowboy romance novel (a marriage of each of their favorite genres).They had decided to write under a pen name. They chose my first name and an old family name for their pseudonym: YancyJohns. They printed out business cards using that pen name; underneath the name was the word writer.

They had one of the business cards laminated and attached it to their new typewriter. When I looked at that card and saw my name and the word writer, I knew that was my destiny. 

I spent my teen years writing novels in spiral-bound notebooks. That’s right – handwritten. We only had one computer back then and I had to share it with five other people. So if I wanted to spend most of my time writing, I had to do it by hand. 

When I was 19, my uncle gave me his old laptop. It’s humorous to remember it now, that archaic machine that weighed close to 15 pounds. It was so large, it would never be called a laptop by today’s standards, but in 1996, it was quite sophisticated. I felt so lucky to have my own computer. I had finally become a real writer, clacking away at a keyboard that belonged solely to me. 

By the time I was 26, I had written four or five complete novels. I was quite proud of a few of them, though too afraid to send them in to publishers. (It wasn’t quite so important to get an agent back then.) 

One story really stuck with me. It followed a young man in his twenties who was trying to find a way to deal with a sister who had become an addict and was, by the time the novel started, in a coma after a car accident. When I was done writing the novel, I realized the character I had loved the most was the one in the coma – Mary Raedwolfe. I rewrote that book from scratch three times until it became what my readers now know as The Poison Box. But still, I was too shy to share it with others, so I left it on my hard drive, untouched, for many years. 

By my thirties, though I can’t really say I had tried very hard to get published, I was so discouraged with writing that I decided to pursue my Plan B – teaching. If I couldn’t write, at least I could help the kids in my community get excited about writing! I thought I was done as a writer. I thought I would get married and have kids and keep teaching and that would be that. It was hard to let go of my dream, but it just didn’t seem to be going anywhere. 

In 2010, I found that I wasn’t very satisfied with teaching. I needed to find another outlet for my creativity – preferably one that could supplement my teacher’s income. I’d always been very interested in nature and natural healing, and had struggled for decades with acne that I only ended up healing through homemade natural remedies concocted with herbs and organic oils. I knew I could help people dealing with similar struggles and feed my creativity by opening a bath and beauty shop on Etsy.

My little shop, Five Seed, was the joy of my life for the few years that it was open. I loved writing blog posts, product copy, and social media updates. I loved designing the labels and photographing the products in creative ways. And I absolutely adored mixing up different herbs and oils and waxes and turning them into finished, healing products. 

I truly loved being a shop owner at the time. It was such a rewarding experience, and a true balm for my heart during a tumultuous time in my family life. 

Unfortunately, my shop didn’t last long. In 2013, Etsy, prompted by the FDA’s new regulations, issued an edict that herbal shops could no longer talk about herbalism, healing, or even herbal folklore. Everything was off-limits except listing the ingredients in the products. As you can imagine, sales plummeted. The personality of my shop and educational aspect of it were lost. And really, who would buy a product with no listed benefits?

It took me a couple of months to really come to terms with what was happening, but ultimately, I decided to let the shop go. As the experience came to an end, many of my amazing, devoted customers asked me to share my skincare secrets in a booklet. I laughed, at first, at the thought of returning to writing…but eventually, the idea seemed like the only thing to do after the shop closed. Initially, I envisioned writing a short e-book. But as the months went by and I couldn’t stop writing, I realized that this was going to be a major project.

Once I was finished with the manuscript, I realized I had to figure out how to distribute it. I discovered Amazon’s platform and decided to start there. It took me almost a full month to format that book, but eventually, in October, I was able to release Soulful Skincare. 

Some women imagine what it will feel like when they put on a wedding dress for the first time. I, on the other hand, had always dreamed of holding my first book. And let me tell you, it was everything I had imagined. I was exhilarated. 

Somehow, I had become a writer. 

It wasn’t the way I expected. I had always thought I would get a publishing deal and sell a novel as my debut work. Who knew that the universe would trick me into writing a self-published self-help book about acne, instead? It seems so funny to me now.

Once I’d gotten up my confidence, I pulled out the old manuscript that I’d held on to for so many years – The Poison Box. I think that sat on my hard drive, mostly untouched for twelve or fourteen years! Can you imagine how trippy it was to open it again and decide to finish editing it and put it out into the world? That was a big step for me.

And then, like any writer would, I kept going. There’s no end to our stories, after all. 

My cousin’s untimely death prompted me to publish the journal I’d kept during my trip to France with her and my ex-boyfriend. Then I finished the project that I’d wanted to write as a companion piece to Soulful Skincare – a book about radically accepting the way we look. And then came the debut of my series of adult fairy tales (don’t get all hot and bothered – they are G rated but written for an adult audience). 

Then I achieved a huge milestone, a goal I’ve had for decades: Writing a children’s book! The Reluctant Owlet debuted earlier this year. This story follows an owl family – one I had actually observed in the woods in 2017 – as the youngest owlet faces her fears about leaving the nest. I’m so proud of this book. I loved sharing the story of these real-life owls with others. I’m proud of the artwork, which was based on actual pictures I took of the owls. And my brother even contributed photographs to the book, which makes it extra special. 

So here I am, knocking out an average of two books each year. An unconventional writer, I suppose, and admittedly, a struggling one. I have yet to be able to pay the bills with my work. 

But for now, it’s more important to me to tell the stories. I think the rest will come in time. I’ve just got to keep my head down and write what I’m asked to write. 

There’s no point in giving up, really. I’ve certainly learned that. I do love it, after all. Writing is one of the most important parts of my life. I couldn’t breathe without it, without my stories, without the characters who have become my dear friends. 

I think that’s really what it means to be a writer. That you’re willing to surrender everything to the stories that come to you. That you fight for every minute you sit in front of the blank page. That you put all your energy into completing the stories and getting them out into the world where they belong. 

There’s something of service about it. Or maybe just obsession. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’ll still be typing away over here, no matter what happens. Just like I imagined when I was 10 years old. I already saw my cosmic business card way back then and it said, simply: Writer. 

 

You can buy The Reluctant Owlet on Amazon

Read Yancy’s interview here.

Follow Yancy on Twitter @YancyLael

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

Happy 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?

 

 

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: Sarah E. Boucher & Midnight Sisters

Happy Friday, Friends!  I love to host authors and bloggers on Fridays.  it is my way of thanking the community which has been so supportive of me.  Today I am delighted to feature author Sarah E. Boucher, author of Becoming Beauty and Midnight Sisters, both fabulous interpretations of traditional fairy tales.  Welcome, Sarah!

06-07-16 Sarah B BW

1. So, what have you written?

I’m the author of two Young Adult novels, Becoming Beauty and Midnight Sisters. Becoming Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Bella, the Beauty character, is at least as beastly and entitled as she is beautiful. When she’s forced into servitude in the Beast’s household, she must learn to look past the Beast’s exterior to discover what true beauty is.

Likewise Midnight Sisters is an adaptation of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. The cast is crammed with mischievous noblewomen, their angry father, and a household full of servants. Jonas, a gardener who is smitten with the eldest of the ladies, must question everything he’s every learned and risk his livelihood to save Lady Ariela and her sisters from their father’s wrath and their own folly.

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

I’ve spent fourteen years working with kindergarteners and preschoolers. Education is huge with me. I’m always trying to plant the idea of becoming a reader, writer, and a lifelong learner in the minds and hearts of my students. Anyone can get a college education, whether or not their family can afford to send them. Take it from me, there are countless programs out there for those who are willing to work hard.

  1. Are you a Pantser or a Planner?

I’m definitely a pantser. Character-driven writing is my jam. I’m never quite sure where my whackadoodle characters will lead me, but I always know the adventure will be incomparable, and so much more fun than planning every last story detail. Call it luck, fate, or inspiration, but because I write like I do, beautiful patterns emerge on their own. It’s truly magical.

  1. Tell us about your love of all things British.

British movies and TV—especially anything that’s a period piece—are a huge addiction for me. Sherlock, Downton Abbey, The Great British Baking Show, Doctor Who, etc. I adore them all. That means I’m completely in love with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, and about a million other British actors. I’m also totally obsessed with Shakespeare and Jane Austen. Devouring their brand of literature and making a home in their worlds makes me feel smarter, like I’m part of a secret universe only a few others understand.

  1. What is one unusual thing about you?

Anyone might guess that I’m completely in love with fairy tales, but what they may not guess is that I have a pretty large collection of them in my home library. Also, even though I’m a grown up, I sometimes read them to myself at night, like my own personal bedtime stories. It’s just so cozy!

  1. Ranch or Blue Cheese?

If you’re talking about carrots or chicken wings dipped in either of the above, then the answer is ranch. All day long. Otherwise I’m one of those weirdos who usually goes for some type of schmancy vinaigrette, probably with berries or exotic peppercorns in it. Because I’m so fancy. You already know . . .

  1. What are you working on right now?

Another fairy tale twist is in the works! Rumplestilskin is the inspiration for my third novel. Elyse’s life is turned upside down when she loses her parents to illness and must seek employment in a new town. When she’s given an impossible task to prove her abilities, a mysterious stranger comes to her aid. A ball hosted by the crown prince draws near and demand for Elyse’s gowns grows. The stranger once again comes to Elyse’s aid and wins her gratitude. But is it enough to win her heart or will the crown prince claim it as his own?

I’m still in the early stages, but I’m loving this story! It’s a little Rumplestilkin. Cinderella, and The Shoemaker and the Elves rolled into one!

  1. What TV shows/ movies are you watching these days?

Other than Netflix I only watch superhero shows these days. That’s Arrow, because Stephen Amell is both beautiful and amazing and 100% to blame for my DC obsession. And Flash, because that entire cast cracks me up and I’m a little in love with Grant Gustin too. And Legends of Tomorrow, because most of that cast was on either Arrow or Flash at one point, so it was only a matter of time until I fell in love with Legends as well.

  1. Do you have a theme song?

Right now Sit Still, Look Pretty by Daya rings pretty true. Mostly because I can get really dolled up. The 50s are my era, my lovelies, and I will use any excuse to don red lipstick, a big dress, a crinoline, and pretty, pretty shoes.

Sure, I’m a pretty girl

Up in a pretty world

But they say pretty hurts

And I don’t wanna sit still

I’m a pretty girl

Up in a pretty world

But no, I won’t sit still, look pretty

 

Then, just when I look amazing, I open my big mouth and my personality falls out. I’m silly. I’m crazy. I’m witty and obnoxious. I’m honest. So no, I can’t sit still and look pretty.

Plus that sounds kind of boring anyway.

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

My journey has been vastly different from the picture I carried in my head when I was a girl. If I could talk to the young Sarie, I’d tell her to strap in and prepare for an amazing ride, because cool stuff is on the way and it will come from directions she’d never expect. Also, I’d give her a little life lesson I didn’t learn until I hit my mid-twenties:

Success doesn’t look the same for everyone.

About the Author:

Sarah E. Boucher is a lover of fairy stories, romance, anything BBC and Marvel, and really, really cute shoes. On weekdays she wears respectable shoes and serves as Miss B., the Queen of Kindergarten. On school holidays she writes stories about romance and adventure. And wears impractical super cute shoes.

Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young University. She lives and works in northern Utah. Her novels include Becoming Beauty and Midnight Sisters. Visit Sarah at SarahEBoucher.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Author Pic

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!