Mistletoe Key: A Christmas Romance...in June?

Most romance writers will tell you it's hard to write Christmas romance novels. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, production schedules usually mean we're scribbling sexy snowball fights and cozy kisses by the fire in the dead heat of summer. 

And let's face it, it's hard to make imaginary people want cuddle when you're sitting in front of a fan, sweating in your office because it's 100 degrees with 97% humidity. There's only so much Burl Ives on repeat that can put you in the holiday spirit when all you want to do is stand spread eagle in front of the AC vents. 

Or maybe that's just me. 

Enter Mistletoe Key. . . 

Ah, Mistletoe Key, Florida--our sunny, romantic island where it's perpetually Christmas in paradise...and kissing Santa Claus is encouraged. 

Except it's not paradise for my heroine, who is a total Ms. Grinch. But don't worry, Hunter "Blue" Bowen, bona fide hockey god, is gonna turn her frown--and her whole world--upside down. 

If you took a peek at last Friday's post, I teased Mistletoe Key and the BOOK IN A WEEK (BIAW) competition Lindsay Emory and I are starting this week. (Okay fine. It's not a competition.) 

Come this Sunday, June 25th (ahem, exactly six months until Christmas), we'll be starting our BIAW project. And it's absolutely perfect because our holiday books are set in the Keys, so maybe I'll figure out some way to make humidity sexy. (It's like method writing, right?)

It's been SO DIFFICULT to hold off writing until June 25th. But I'm a Rule Follower. So no scribbling until at least 12:00:01AM. 

Because the nature of BIAW means I'm drafting so quickly--with huge word count goals each day--I won't have time to sit and daydream. <sigh> That means no pantsing--can't go by the seat of my pants with this one. I had to <gulp> plot it. Beat by glorious beat*.

And because I had to meticulously plot the book, it means I'm dying to write Blue and Kelly's first kiss. (Okay, I'm excited to write their meet cute too. But their first kiss, man. It's gonna be a doozy.) 

So keep your eyes on my social media as Lindsay and I start this BIAW thing. I won't be crazed at all, I'm sure, with all of those huge word counts in front of me. If you need me, I'll be looking just like this inspiration pic for Kelly, totally glam and put together at the Halliday Inn** for a business lunch. (Don't mind me, gleeful author, over here in the corner rubbing my hands together plotting all the ways Blue is going to completely unravel Kelly, the grinchiest of all the Mistletoe Key residents.) 

OH! And before I forget. I think Lindsay is going to share some of her pages AS SHE WRITES. (Say whaaaaaat?) Don't expect that from me. BUT, you might want to expect some flash giveaways as I'm scribbling away on my flash draft. Ho, ho. ho. 


*If you're a romance writer writer and haven't bought yourself a copy of Gwen Hayes' ROMANCING THE BEAT what are you waiting for? 

**The super-fancy (yet to be named) family on Mistletoe Key got sued for naming their inn the Holiday Inn, duh. ;)

Five for Friday: Have You Lost Your Mind (?) Edition

Okay, I'm kind of cheating because some of this Five For Friday gloriousness happened yesterday afternoon. However, once you hear that I spent over half my day driving home for Father's Day, you can't really blame me too much for relying upon near-past events to round out my list. 

But I'll start with the actual Friday stuff for journalistic integrity: 

  1. I'm settled in in my #satelliteoffice here at Haughton House with sweet poodle-brother Max keeping an eye on me plus the cupcake by my side. (Reader: I need that cupcake. Today was a doozie.) Oh, and this reminds me. What is perfect with a cupcake? A cup of earl grey. Hold the line, I'll return shortly. 
  2. Ah, that's better. Continuing on. I got in some great incubation time while driving west today. It was like being in the shower (where 83% of all my great ideas happen)--but not, for obvious reasons. I even managed to record some of them with voice dictation without them ending up too weird and illegible AND I squeezed in a few hands-free calls with some business partners and my mermaid mogul life coach glitter boss extraordinaire, Laura von Holt. And I cannot wait to share some of this genius with you, but a few aren't my secrets to tell, so I'll wait. Patiently. Gah. 
  3. Three total strangers complimented me on my dress today. (Uh, which in the interest of full disclosure was the same one I wore yesterday.) 

Which leads me to numbers four and five on the list that actually happened yesterday (in the same dress) but were so fabulous they totally have to count for today. 

I met sweet Bodhi the Giant (pictured below with his big sister). 

My design alter ego Romanced by the Cover gave local writing bestie Lindsay Emory's brand a little facelift and we spent yesterday getting everything all set up and transferred over to her new site. (It's really purdy, you should check it out...once you've finished reading this blog, natch.)  

BUT it didn't end there, my friends. We also used our face-to-face time to do a little world domination scheming and plotting. Literally. Because we have both lost our darn minds and are going to write A BOOK IN A WEEK. 

*Let the record show: Lindsay was the first to lose her darn mind and decide to write her Christmas book in a week. But since we're going to be releasing our books within a week or two of each other this fall, I somehow got roped into the BIAW experiment too. 

**Let the record show: "I somehow got roped into the BIAW experiment too" is code for FOMO ALERT. And also maybe a little friendly competition. 


Not that it's a competition. At all. Not that Lindsay Slacked me a picture of her FB announcement (Exhibit A, to the right) because I can't log on to FB, or anything. :) 

Y'all, I can't wait to share with you more about Mistletoe Key and our books--and the books to follow that will be set in the same world!--and the process of writing the first draft of my Christmas book (set for a November 13th release!). 

After yesterday's #DreamDoDominate meeting, I'm beyond excited to see how these characters I've dreamed up fit with the other residents and tourists of Mistletoe Key, Florida--our sunny, romantic island where it's perpetually Christmas in paradise.

Except it's not paradise for my heroine, who is a total Ms. Grinch. But don't worry, Hunter "Blue" Bowen, bona fide hockey god, is gonna turn her frown--and her whole world--upside down. 

Make sure you're following Lindsay on Facebook (and all her other social media, for that matter). From what we chatted about yesterday, I know she's plotting out a love story that's gonna knock your socks off. 

OH YEAH. I GET TO MAKE A MAP!!!!!! #5ForFri bonus. ;)


Five for Friday: Quick and Dirty Edition

My beloved MacBook Pro is out of sorts, so this #5ForFri is coming at you quick and dirty from my phone. (Lordy, I hope there's autocorrect.) 

You know you like it dirty: 

  • I washed my car yesterday (to get rid of west Texas road dust and bug guts) which means I Am The Goddess of Rain. It rained off and on most of the day and is now gloriously un-hot here in Dallas. Not cool by any stretch of the imagination, but a pleasant 70-something. <happy sigh>
  • Speaking of pleasant: even though Photoshop decided to hijack my computer today, I did spend a delightful day working at the library in my favorite spot. Just not doing the work I'd planned on. 
  • Also a burrito. But in a bowl. Because health. 
  • And while I'm praying for my computer's return to good health after uninstalling and reinstalling...and reinstalling...and reinstalling Photoshop & Illustrator, I'm choosing self-care over worry tonight and reading a dang romance novel. Or two. 

Five for Friday: I Am a Badass Edition

It's barely past noon here at Haughton House and I've already done so many badass things, I don't know what to do with myself the rest of the day. (Just kidding. I have lists of lists.) So without further ado...

Five beautiful, badass things for today:

  • I just finished updating the HBIC Nation site with specific info on our first Book Club pick: Jen Sincero's YOU ARE A BADASS AT MAKING MONEY. I'm wrapping up my reading this weekend so I can be super fresh for the discussion because we are super pumped to be discussing money, honey in a safe space. Join us 6.7.17 at 7pm Eastern. (More deets here.) 
  • I'm wrapping up my time here at Haughton House and preparing to go back to Dallas. It's always a little bittersweet. And even though I'm going back with a HUGE intention set to do some Summer Cleaning (spring cleaning is so passé), I'm taking back some treasures from my father's mother's house--including some furniture and super dainty teacups. Now to make space so they don't have to live in storage very long.
  • Brownies. Today's list of beautiful things would be incomplete if it didn't include these tiny brownies with buttercream frosting on top that my mom gets at Wal-Mart (I know) and I swear they are made by actual fairies because they are always so light yet dense and rich and fudgy and oooooooh, I'm going to have to grab another one on my tea break.
  • Speaking of tea breaks, you should totally take a break and watch/listen to this chat with Julia Kelly about writing romance, the writing process, and I'm not giving away my favorite part of the interview, but I bet you can guess it once you hear it. (And no, it's not Julia's glorious hair; although, I do so enjoy Julia's hair.)
  • COVER REVEALS! I'm always beyond giddy when my clients (finally) do a show and tell with their covers. (I've been sitting on these secrets FOR MONTHS.) Take a peek at Alexis Anne and Andie J. Christopher's pretties: 

Five for Friday: Cloak and Dagger Edition

Secrets. Secrets. Secrets. I've got em. I keep em. 

My top beautiful moments for today are alllllll about the secrets. But I'll give you a little hint: 

  1. I could fill the top five spots on my Romanced by the Cover work. Doing lots of projects for people I love. AND I AM LOVING IT. We are talking hot historicals, sexy contemporaries, some westerns, branding projects, web design. All the (secret) pretties all the time!
  2. I have a SECRET MANUSCRIPT on my eReader right now and it's so good I'm having to use it as my reward to get through the administrivia of the work day. I'm only allowed to read it for 30m before I go to bed. . . but I snuck some in this morning. Because I'm a rebel. 
  3. This time last week, I was on vacation with my mom (and that was a beautiful thing), but I'm delighted to be back in my secret satellite office at Haughton House and taking care of business like an HBIC
  4. I made a bomb-ass Arnold Palmer this afternoon. My secret? Brew one old-fashioned Lipton tea bag with an earl grey (I typically use TAZO) and mix with lemonade of your choice. (Today, we went to HAPPY HOUR at Sonic, so I had fancy lemonade and amazing ice.)
  5. Finally, I'm doing some big soul work taking Laura von Holt's CIJourney course. It's eight weeks of pure magic...and a lot of hurty inner work. But it's beautiful. Today's assignment unlocked some secret stuff like whoa. 

What secrets do you have? My lips are sealed. ;)

Gifted and Talented

Birthdays. Mother’s Day. Graduation. There’s a lot going on this time of year. And if you’re on my list, you may or may not be seeing something similar in the near future. Just saying. (You should probably stop reading now, Mom.)

It’s not coming out until August, but there’s no law against IOUs. Julia Blake’s (aka Julia Kelly) CHANGING THE PLAY is only $1.99 on pre-order right now. So maybe also pick up one of these while you’re at it. (I loved my paperwhite--why did I ever get a Voyager?)

Word on the street: you can get the ban.do rose agenda monogrammed this year! I'm also fond of the upbeat reminder that YOU'RE KILLING IT. 

And if you’re grabbing one of the ban.do beauties to give someone, you should probably also grab one my favorite multipacks of pens. The Le Pen (quite unfortunate moniker these days) or the Staedtler Fineliner are glorious felt-tipped pens. I love them. (Yes, I still love my FLAIR PENS. But sometimes you need a thin profile.) Also, make sure you aren’t greedy like I am. The super multipacks of the Staedtlers don’t come in the fabulous plastic carrying case. So stick with the 20-something and not the 36 or 48. 

Now that I'm putting this together, I realize it's basically a list of everything you should get me. #SorryNotSorry. 

Sugar Paper

You know I love pretty paperie. And graduation is a super great time to give stationery. (Thank you notes make especially good gifts, don't you think? There’s no excuse not to get one in return that way.) Sugar Paper is all about millennial pink, but these stellar cards on a gorgeous dove grey are my favorite. Now if they’d only make them in rose gold foil...

And while you're at Sugar Paper...take a look at this pretty little doo-dad. My mom keeps a well-stocked desk, but I think her stamp dispenser is a lame plastic one—we might be changing that this year.

The best gift you’ll ever get is amazing skin and non-hurty joints. Lindsay Emory got us all on the collagen train, and I adore her for it. If giving a jar of powdered bovine…stuff...isn’t your idea of a great gift, well, order some for yourself. Your marionette lines will thank you.

Oh, and grab a giant bottle of this while you’re at it. (Don’t let that gorgeous blue tint scare you. It really does sink in beautifully.) Retinol can be scary, but this is so nice on my super oily and sensitive skin. Have a college grad in your life? Give her the gift of stopping the clock. She'll thank you in 15 years. 

But what's a gift edit without a gift for you, eh? Remember, our HBIC Nation philosophy is that everyone should get free stickers if they want them. So head on over and claim your free stickers. And, if you're so inclined, grab up a super rad tee or tank for HBIC livin. 15% off during launch week (ends 5.11.17). 

HBIC Nation: The Origin Story

It started with glitter. 

No, really. I'm not just saying that. It really did. 

Okay, maybe I am just saying that, but glitter is totally involved

If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, you might recall the grand adventure I took in February, meeting up with five of my darling writer friends in the rolling hills of Virginia. (It was glorious.) It basically started there. Or, rather, with the planning of the retreat.

You see, I was never an athlete--except for that long, long ago season my sorority was Flag Football Champion--but I love jerseys. They're just so darn cool. They say, without any words necessary, "hey, these people are together." 

And the six of us? Oh, we were SO TOGETHER. We'd taken to calling ourselves HBIC on our slack channel, so that was an obvious choice for our retreat swag. (PS: HBIC = Head Bitch in Charge)

But you can't just design a jersey, no, you need a logo, and, if you're me, you also need a printer that will screen print your jerseys in GLITTER INK. (Thank you, CustomInk. I love you.) 

But you can't just have a jersey. You need coffee mugs. And stickers. AND A MOTTO!

Check and quadruple check. Oh, it was SO HARD TO KEEP THEM SECRET. The grand unveiling around our farmhouse table was kind of like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, I'm not gonna lie. (Except with booze. And candles.)  

HBIC Coffee Mug

And then, as is wont to happen when six badass women get together, they start thinking. And they start finishing each other's sentences. And it isn't long until they're putting together A PLAN that had been inside of them all, just waiting to blossom into magnificence. 

And that, my friends, is how HBIC NATION began. 

Our little community of creatives is so strong. We are all the things for each other: tech support desk, water cooler gossip, BFF, cheerleader, task mistress, and content experts. And today, we are opening up HBIC Nation to all of the wide world. Because every HBIC needs her team in place. 

Our mission is clear. Our vision is strong: HIBC Nation is a place to learn, share, and grow your creative empire—plus have one heck of a good time while doing it. 

Come see what we're all about. Join our community...and get prepared to transform your creative life with other creatives from all walks of life. HBIC Nation isn't just about community (though that's freaking awesome). HBIC Nation will offer exclusive content and mentorship opportunities, both online and in person. 

What are you waiting for? 

Oh, oh! I almost forgot. We've got a 15% off deal in our teespring store that's good for launch week. (Show your HBIC pride!) Make sure you click this link as there aren't any places to add the promo code at checkout. <3  http://teespring.com/hbicnation?pr=LAUNCHLOVE

And if you want FREE STICKERS (and who doesn't), email one of the HBICs here and we'll send some to ya. 

Check out the other HBICs and what they have to say on their blogs and/or social media about our super duper faboo launch week:


Five for Friday: Banana Pants Edition

Okay, mabye not banana pants, but close enough. (You'll see.) A bit NSFWish. (Although it's a very tasteful toile de jouy.)

Today's #5ForFriday is a pictoral*:

*If you're viewing this on your smartphone, turn it sideways to make the captions magically appear. <3