Five for Friday: Q4 Full Speed Ahead Edition

If you've been thinking 2017 is a pretty spectacularly crappy year, take heart: it's almost over. Say what? Yep, you read that right. Quarter Four Approacheth. 

I did my Q4 re-prioritizing yesterday, and it was just what the doctor ordered. (I shared a little bit about it as part of my #ReadWritePlan post on Instagram.) Especially since I was just coming off some away time in the mountains, it was the perfect time to reflect and reassess. 

Last week saw me at the WFWA (Women's Fiction Writers Association) Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico, meeting new friends and spending time with old ones. I took a class with Lisa Cron. . . and taught one of my own--though "taught" might not be all that accurate. Mary Chris Escobar and I co-presented a hands-on workshop session on building blogs (hi!) and websites. 

The whole week was craft- and life-affirming (I met my mom down in the mountains for a little girls' getaway after WFWA...it was fabulous) and I cannot wait until my ten-year plan is complete and I can have a home in the mountains! (But first, I've got to sell a lot of books--or maybe marry a billionaire.)

So to stay on track with that life-affirming high, here are my #5ForFri. I hope they bring joy to you, too (how could they not since they're all about books?!): 

  1. Julia Kelly's newest historical will be out October 9th and if you haven't preordered it yet, I don't know what you're waiting for. It's stylish and sexy. The Look of Love (The Matchmaker of Edinburgh Series). 
  2. And speaking of sexy, Madame de Boudoir (aka Laura von Holt) is launching the fiction part of her mer-pire (mermaid empire) in October, too. My alter-ego is building out her website and artwork for her covers, so you won't want to miss out on when she unveils them. 
  3. I'm all caught up with Lindsay Emory's WOMEN WITH BOOKS podcast episodes, thanks to a week of road trippin. Super eager for more conversations with my favorite authors and new-to-me authors. Make sure you check it out while you're doing the dishes or strolling 'round the neighborhood to get in your steps. 
  4. Last week while I was in New Mexico for WFWA, I got a bunch of great women's fiction book recs. I'm starting with two STAR AWARD nominees: Barbara Claypole White's ECHOES OF FAMILY and Julie Christine Johnson's IN ANOTHER LIFE. (When I publish my women's fiction novel, I suppose I'll have to add in my middle name, won't I?) 
  5. There's still time to enter to win BOOKS, and a Kindle Fire, and a May Designs gift card in our #ReadWritePlan extravaganza. You didn't even have to post anything to the September Planning Challenge--there are lots of ways to enter. But hurry because it ends soon. 

Five for Friday: Feelin' the Fall Edition

I'm feeling all things fall today--even though it was 100 degrees again in Dallas yesterday (yuck!) after a week of lovely, temperate weather. And though I took August off from official #FiveForFRI posts, I was definitely busy enjoying the small, everyday beauty of life and loved ones. 

And speaking of, my list today is full of love...

  1. I've been taking romance novels, games, coloring books, and puzzles to the Dallas Public Library. (They've been coordinating drop-offs for the mega shelter housing Harvey evacuees.) Our community so amazing, and I thank every single person who sent books or money for wishlist items for me to drop off. Romance offers love and hope, even in the darkest of times. And, as always, I'm so grateful to be a small part of Romancelandia. 
  2. I'm relaunching my stories from the One Week in Love anthologies as standalones in the Destination, Love series, and Julia Kelly/Blake and Alexis Anne are, too. It's been a love fest on Slack and email as we send new covers and excerpts back and forth, remembering how much fun we had writing these together several years ago. 
  3. Y'all, my sweet Dallas friends and I just nailed down the date for our annual Friendsgiving celebration. We've been friends for about a decade now (though it seems inconceivable!) and we always try to get together during the holiday season--no boyfriends (though all are now husbands)--for an evening of merriment. It's possible I did a happy dance in Starbucks when the last RSVP came in. 
  4. And Lindsay Emory and I were able to get together again today for a Ladies Who Lunch--which we should really re-name because it's more of a power-lunch/hashing out plans for glorious world domination than ladies of leisure getting together to gossip. 
  5. Today included ART! I'm a proud member of the Dallas Museum of Art, and I was able to get advance tickets to the new Yayoi Kusama exhibition. It's more of an experience than art exhibition, and if you live in the Dallas area, I highly recommend seeing it! 

There's nobody I'd rather be locked in a dark, mirrored room with for forty-five seconds than you, Lindsay. Unless Chris Evans is available. In that case, you're on your own, Linz.

Romance Goes Viral: A Post-RWA Wrap Up

I’m just waiting for the mirror to crack from side to side. (Yes, that’s a super nerdy reference to “The Lady of Shalott.”)  But I feel the first stirrings of the dreaded Con Crud. Extreme lethargy, that weird inability to focus my eyes, and worst of all, the slight soreness at the top of my throat. Ah, the curse is come upon me! 

I realize this is where all of my friends who couldn’t make it to Orlando this year are cackling in barely-disguised glee. I’d do the same.

And I was so good: took my supplements and vitamins, probiotic-ed the heck out of my gut, plus I diffused magic essential oil blends in our hotel room. But Con Crud is a powerful force.

You know what else is a powerful force? Community. Romancelandia. Love. Hope. And do you know what #RWA17 was all about? Yep. All of those. 

I feel like singing and dancing—even though I don’t feel like singing and dancing at all because of the stirrings of Con Crud. I missed half of the sessions I wanted to go to (thank you, conference recordings for filling in the gaps!), I didn’t broker any multi-million dollar deals, and I certainly didn’t win any awards (except possibly: best sparkly caftan), but my time at con was just what I needed. 

Time with my people, serendipitous meetings with friends who used to only live in my phone screen, and connecting with total strangers (I know), is only part of what makes a conference a wonderful experience. (And I shouldn’t write “a” conference, because we all know that the RWA Conference is something special and unlike any other professional conference I’ve ever attended.) 

It's Romance New Year today.

And I love Romance New Year... A fresh start with that glowing ember of hope in my heart—and possibly a low-grade fever—and a renewed sense of purpose. Whether you attended RWA or not, you can celebrate today. 

What we do is so important. And in a world (and profession) that is often so hopeless, it’s beautiful to be reminded of all the Very Excellent People in our community and the incredible virality of our community.  (No, I’m not talking about Con Crud.) 

There’s nothing more powerful than the hope of an HEA. 

Be you a reader or a writer, that hope burns in us all. Hold fast to it. 

If you feel like your spark is fading, I encourage you to watch Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Beverly Jenkins’ acceptance speech. (FFD about 57 minutes in. And have tissues on hand.)