Christina Cole Romance

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Tweet, Tweet

Are you on Twitter? I am, although I don’t actively keep up with tweets going by. I don’t see how anyone could. All the same, it’s almost a matter of pride with me to say that I was on Twitter before most folks — my children included — had even heard of it.

Yes, I post regularly to Twitter, but only because my account is connected to my Facebook page. Anything I post on my Facebook timeline goes out into the twitter-sphere as well. I’m also “following” a lot of folks on Twitter, but seriously, folks, who’s got time to sit and read hundreds of messages as they scroll by?

All the same, I must confess I’ve had a lot of fun on Twitter. I remember the “duck” game. Oh, how I laughed. It’s the simple game of taking a famous quote and replacing a word with “duck”.  Imagine, for example, Teddy Roosevelt proclaiming, “Walk softly, and carry a big duck.” Or, for laughs, former president Bill Clinton informing the world that he did not “have sex with that duck.”  I remember contributing Richard Nixon’s immortal words: “I am not a duck.”

We kept the game going on Twitter for days. It was great fun.

NietoAnother Twitter-fest that kept me hanging on was the time Mexico’s presidential hopeful — and now president — Enrique Pena Nieto — fumbled on a television program when asked to name a few of the books that had influenced him in his life. He couldn’t think of any other than the Bible, and he managed to confuse a few authors’ names.

But that was only the beginning of his problems.

His teen daughter Paulina turned to her Twitter account and using very offensive slang terms and racial slurs, attempted to defend her father. Her tweet went viral then spun off into thousands of hilarious tweets, such as the game of “Books Pena Nieto Should Read.” My favorite? “How to ruin your father in 140 characters or less.”

The daughter’s boyfriend also jumped into the fray, Paulina made her apologies, and her Twitter account quickly disappeared. You can read about it here.

LA Times – Reporting from Mexico City.

And then, of course, there’s Alec Baldwin. I stopped “following” him long ago after yet another of his Twitter rants. He’s still at it, I see.

Alec Baldwin Arrested In New York – Turns to Twitter

So, why am I posting about Twitter? It’s because of today’s question in my little Q & A a Day” book.

In 140 characters, or fewer, summarize your day.

Yes, technology today is everywhere, and the Internet Culture now influences virtually (no pun intended) all we do.

My day is just beginning, but I suppose I could tweet my plans…in fact, I just did. If you follow me, you’ll find my little post:

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Thanks for visiting today.

Follow me on Twitter @KCChristinaCole

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Make a Mess!

Creativity

I say these words over and over because they’re so very true. I don’t recall the source, but I do remember when I first heard them. I was sitting on the living room floor, surrounded by a mess of papers, drawings, art supplies, books, and snacks as I worked on a project. Yes, creative people make big messes.

It was then as I began the “cleaning up” process that I fully understood this little saying. As I sorted through ideas and inspirations — keeping some and discarding others — my mess turned into a completed project.

I approach fiction from this perspective, too. I make a huge mess with story ideas all over the place. I scribble notes on odd scraps of paper. I grab research books to keep close at hand. Putting a story together does get very messy indeed.

For what it’s worth, my current project — The Sheriff Wore Skirts — is a disastrous mess at the moment. Even though I began with a synopsis for the publisher, now that I’m working on the story, I’m seeing new possibilities. New characters are emerging. New complications and conflicts are happening.

What do I do?  I let it happen. It’s wondrous fun.

To me, it’s much like working a jigsaw puzzle…only first, I have to create all the pieces.

I won’t use them all. As with any creative project, I’ll find myself throwing away things that aren’t needed, sorting out what’s right for the story, getting rid of ideas that don’t fit. Gradually, the mess will be picked up. The research books will go back on the shelf. The little scraps of paper will be tossed aside. A finished manuscript will come together, ready to go to the publisher.

Don’t ever get discouraged when your creative efforts result in a huge mess. That’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s a process, and making a mess — the bigger, the better — is the first step toward success. Celebrate all the mixed-up, confused ideas. Scatter the pieces of your own puzzle around so you can look at them from different angles. Pick things up and play with them. Enjoy the mess!

Then begin the cleaning-up process. Throw away or set aside things you know you don’t need. Find what’s most important and build around it. Add in possibilities that might work. Discard ones that don’t work.

Slowly and surely, as you clean up the mess — whether it’s an art project, a poem you’re writing, a recipe you’re cooking, or any other endeavor — you’ll see a beautiful creation shining through.

 

 


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Playing by the Rules

I’ve been browsing through The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, written by pyschologist Linda Edelstein. It’s an interesting book, and I’ve enjoyed reading about various adult personality types.

I’ve always believed that understanding is a key component of good relationships — in real life and in fiction, as well. So from time to time, I’m going to share a bit of information regarding Edelstein’s basic personality types. Perhaps this knowledge will help us build stronger relationships — and for the writers among us, create realistic characters.

Today, I’m sharing a few thoughts about conformists.

Conformity2The conformist believes in following rules and regulations, going along with others, and acting in a responsible manner.

Conformists are staunch supporters of law and order in society, and generally consider themselves to hold high moral standards.

Life with a conformist can be comfortable. These folks don’t like to “rock the boat” or make a fuss about anything…unless someone goes too far afield of their traditional beliefs and values, in which case the conformist can become rigid and dogmatic. They will then insist on upholding what they perceive as “right”.  They can be extremely intolerant, demanding that others conform to their way of thinking.

There’s a bit of interesting history behind the word, Conformist.

In England, Conformists were individuals whose religious practices were in line with the requirements of The Act of Uniformity. These acts — there were several — established rites and rituals for the Church of England, specifying prayers books to be used and the order of services performed.  Those who opposed the acts were called Noncomformists.

Today the words have come to mean anyone who “goes along with the crowd” or one who “marches to a different drum”, respectively.

Our society sends very mixed messages about conformity. We place children in classrooms and teach them to behave in very specific ways. We give them rules to obey.

  • Sit at your desk.
  • Raise your hand to ask a question.
  • Walk in single file as you leave the classroom.

At the same time, we speak of individuality, the need to recognize our own uniqueness, and the importance of learning to think for oneself.  Little wonder we’re often confused about who we are…and who we’re supposed to be.

Overall, despite our efforts to teach it and instill conformist values in our children, conformity gets a bad rap throughout history.  Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke out against it.

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So did President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

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Conformists rarely stand out in society. They’re content to follow others and can make valuable assistants, always well-versed in “company policy” and willing to do what’s asked of them.

In fiction, we find two kinds of conformists. We sometimes see a character who is intent on following all the rules — to the detriment of their own happiness. My latest release, “No Regrets“,  features a shy young woman who, in the words of the hero, is stuck being…

“…the prim and proper Miss Richards, the quiet little mouse who never disturbs anybody, has never once told a lie, and who would never think of breaking any of society’s rules.”
We see the overbearing conformist at times, too, in the guise of a well-meaning parent or a moral leader. As conformists, they often join others in their intolerance.  I’ve included these characters in my stories, too, most notably the women of the “Ladies’ Charitable Society” in my fictional town of Sunset, Colorado.  Here’s a quick look at the ladies, from “Keeping Faith“.
Not only Mrs. Gilman, but all the other women as well wore black. They reminded Tom of a bunch of crows perching in the parlor, hovering about, ready to peck the eyes out of him and his mother if they made a wrong move.
Maybe conformity is best treated as a useful tool, not as a way of life. There are times and places where perhaps it’s best to go along,  to do what’s expected, and to accept little things that aren’t really worth making a fuss about.

Yes, rules are important. So are laws.  Sometimes we do need to follow others…so long as they’re leading us in the direction we want to go.

When all is said and done, the most important thing is knowing who we are and living our life fully.
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Clothes Make the Man…or Woman

poloniusFor the apparel oft proclaims the man.

–William Shakespeare, Hamlet 

 

When Polonius gives out advice in Hamlet, much of it should probably be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Polonius was a bit of a blow-hard, a fellow who loved the sound of his own voice.

His immortal words have been transformed into the more modern adage that “clothes make the man,” to which Mark Twain once added, “Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

I’m not sure about that, but all of that’s a bit beside the point. The real question for today isn’t about the influence we wield but simply about the clothes we wear. More to the point, the clothes we love.

Often on Facebook, question games go around. Example: The last thing you ate plus the color you’re now wearing gives you your rock band name.  I usually end up with Plaid nachos. Hey, it’s kinda catchy, don’t you think?

If clothes really do make us who we are, I’m a comfortable, casual homebody. I love wearing baggy old T-shirts and flannel PJ bottoms. Yes, that’s me. It’s exactly who I am.

Today’s question from my little “Q & A A Day” book is this:

What’s your favorite article of clothing?

PJSI’d have to say my comfy, cozy plaid flannel PJ bottoms.  Years ago I bought one set (the ones on the left) and I loved them so much, I ordered a second set (the ones on the right.) I found them in the Lakeside Collection catalog, and would gladly order more if they had different colors.

I also like my Mickey Mouse T-shirt, my worn-out old sneakers, and, when the weather turns cool, an old sweatshirt that once boasted of the glories of Missouri but whose colors are now so worn you can’t read much of anything.

Obviously, to me, comfort is far more important than fashion.

 

 

What’s YOUR favorite article of clothing?

What do YOUR clothes say about YOU?

 

 


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What’s for Dinner — This One’s a Keeper

I recently came across a recipe that looked so good…I had to clip and save it.  It’s from Taste of Home, my “go-to” site when I’m browsing for menu ideas. Of course, I added in a few ingredients and a bit of extra spices.

Last weekend when my daughter came to visit, this is what we enjoyed for dinner. It quickly disappeared. My husband’s rating: “You can fix this anytime you want.”

My recipe is below. It serves four.

Sausage-Spinach Pasta Supper

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Ingredients:

4 Sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 Onion, chopped

2 Garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cans Chicken broth

8 ounces whole-wheat thin spaghetti

16 ounces fresh spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped

Mushrooms (Fresh or canned)

Italian seasoning

Red pepper flakes

Parsley flakes

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Seasoned pepper

6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a large saucepan, cook the sausage, onion, and garlic in oil over medium heat until sausage is browned; drain. Add mushrooms and sautee until tender. Season with Italian seasoning, as desired.

Drain, then add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Gradually add in spinach. Cook and stir until pasta is tender and spinach is wilted.

In a small bowl, combine flour, seasoned pepper, and cream. Stir until smooth. Slowly add to pasta mixture.  Bring to boiling again; cook and stir until thickened — about 1 or 2 minutes.

Pour into serving dish and sprinkle with parsley flakes and red pepper flakes, if desires. Serve with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

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Yes, this one’s definitely on our “keeper” list. My husband is already asking when I’m going to fix it again. Soon, I’m sure. With breadsticks and a light green salad, it’s truly a wonderful meal.

Thank you for visiting today.

What’s the most-requested recipe in your kitchen?

Please share!

 


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A Thought for Today: The New Way to Happiness

 

 

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Try something new every day.

One of the best ways to create excitement, energy, and happiness in your life is to follow this simple advice.  Each day, do something new.

There’s a incredible joy that comes from trying something for the first time, whether it’s a new food, a new activity, or a new route to work. We make discoveries, we expand our horizons, we broaden our mind through each new thing we do.

Feeling stuck in a rut? Try something new.

Got a problem to solve? Try a new approach…or a new attitude.

Looking for a dream? Try turning in a new direction. You might like what you find.

Sure, there’s comfort in familiarity and old ways have a place in our life. We need to balance them with a daily dose of “new”. It will keep us alive and keep us always looking ahead.


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A Thought for Today: Little Things

 

 

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Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.

We’ve been brought up in a culture that says “bigger is better”.  We tend to look down on and scoff at “little things”.

In truth, it’s the little things in life that can bring us the most pleasure.

A little smile.

A tiny hand holding ours.

One quiet moment in the midst of a busy day.

So often in life, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Gathering your courage and taking one chance can be enough to set you on the course to your dreams. One step forward along the path will move you closer to what you want for your future.

One positive thought can change your life, and one kind word can change the life of another.


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Back to School? Already?

the-3-rsIt’s only August! Mid-August, in fact. Yet already schools are open and students are boarding buses each morning, heading off to learn “readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic”. Although, to my mind, it’s still a bit too early — when I grew up, school never started until after Labor Day — I do look forward to the beginning of each new school year.

I’ve always loved walking into stores and seeing school supplies lined up. Oh, the notebooks, pencils, and pens! The colorful binders and folders!

Yes, I was one of those “nerdy” kids who loved school. Of course, back in the day, we weren’t called nerds or geeks.  I always got excited to think of all the new discoveries I would make and all I would learn over the coming year.

I still get excited by learning, and that’s why the end of summer and the beginning of school always thrills me. As autumn arrives — officially — and the air grows cool and the leaves turn colors, my excitement will continue to grow.

For me, this time of year is a signal to settle down, get into a regular routine, and turn my mind and attention to what I most enjoy doing — writing.  With that “back to school” attitude in my head and that same excitement in my heart, I can come into MLWR (my little writing room) each day with a burst of enthusiasm.

What can I learn today about fiction-writing and story-telling? What new possibilities will I discover as I’m putting scenes together? What ideas might suddenly come along?

My current project is The Sheriff Wore Skirts —another title in the “Sunset Series”. These are stories of life and love in the old west, with an ever-growing cast of characters who’ve become near and dear to my heart. At present, the manuscript is about 34,000 words, so there’s still much to be done before the story goes to the publisher in November.

Here’s a short little “tease” from the opening of The Sheriff Wore Skirts:

How long did a broken heart last? Nearly a month had passed since Sheriff Caleb Bryant’s best girl Molly had run off with another man – his former deputy, Hank Goddard – and his heart hadn’t yet begun to heal. Now, Hank and Molly were home again in Sunset.

Worse still, she was standing right in front of him.

Even though this is the project I’m actively involved with, it’s not the only project I have “in the works”. As a writer, I always have dozens of ideas lurking around, and that’s where all those colorful binders and organizational folders come in very handy.

The key to writing a novel is keeping it organized. There’s a great deal of information a writer needs, even if it doesn’t all go into the story. There’s research information, details about characters — their appearance, their background, their goals, their motivations — and there’s various settings we have to keep in mind. Writers often create timelines of events, of course, or outlines of a story’s scenes. As a writer of historical fiction, I also keep calendars from the years a story takes place so I know for certain what day of the week things are happening. For what it’s worth, I always check the moon phases, too, so if you’re reading about a gorgeous full moon as my lovers stroll hand in hand, you can be sure it really was full that particular long-ago night.

In the same way as a novel needs organization — a binder is great for this — future ideas also need some sort of order. I keep a stack of folders nearby, and when new ideas come to mind, or when I suddenly “hear” or “see” a scene from a new story, I can quickly jot down my thoughts and file them away.

So, what it all means is that this week, I’ll probably be stocking up on “school supplies” — even if I now call them “writing supplies”. I’ll be doing a lot of “readin’ and ‘ritin'” and even a bit of “rithmetic” as I keep my characters’ biographies up to date. Let’s see, just how old is little Kitty Barron now?

Oh, is that a school bell I hear? Guess that means it’s time to begin my day. Readers are waiting for the next book. Time for me get busy.

Thanks for visiting today!

Which of the “Sunset” books is your favorite?

 


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Turn Around

Have you ever made a mistake? Sure you have. We’ve all made more than our share of mistakes. It’s an inevitable part of life.

I’ve been giving mistakes a bit of thought over the last few days as I’ve worked on a video trailer for The Wrong Woman, my western historical about a fellow who sets off to get revenge on his greedy brother but instead gets a woman who changes his life. His plan was to steal his brother’s fiancee and hold her until he got what he was owed, but somehow he managed to steal the wrong woman.

Mistakes are forgivable. Some, of course, are easier to forgive than others.

Are there times, though, when we might be able to make changes in our lives and prevent a lot of needless mistakes from happening? I think so.

Much of the advice we get in life involves keeping on. We’re continually admonished to hang on, to keep going, to stay the course. But, what if that course is wrong? What if we’ve taken a wrong turn or have gotten ourselves stuck in a bad situation? What if we’ve truly come to a dead-end?

kanevapic2The answer should be simple. Turn around.

Although the virtues of patience and persistence are often touted, there’s little virtue in digging in and becoming entrenched in a bad situation.  If the path you’re on now isn’t taking you anywhere — or, worse still, if it’s leading you into danger or discomfort, stop, turn around, and get your life back on the right track.

How?

Willie Nelson offered this advice:

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.

Nick Carter said:

One of the most important things I did to turn my life around was to realize and to accept that from this minute, that’s all we have. Everything that happened behind us, we cannot change so you might as well look to the future.

Whether it’s counting your blessings, letting go of the past, or making any other change in your life, the most important thing to remember is that it’s never too late.

No matter how far we’ve gone down the wrong road, we can always stop and turn around.

 


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New Resolutions?

k2-_77d96879-c52e-453f-ab60-ca61b22078b4.v1I think my Question and Answer book is a bit mixed up. It’s only August, yet it’s asking me about resolutions. I’ve heard of “Christmas in July”, so maybe they’re thinking we should have “New Year’s Day in August.” It makes sense in a somewhat crazy way, I suppose.

Here’s the question as it’s posed:

What is your resolution for tomorrow?

Throughout my life, I’ve had a tendency to do things backward. I think being left-handed has something to do with it. Most people, I presume, use this little journal late at night before they shut out the lights and go to bed. Not me. My habit is to grab my journal early in the morning soon after I wake up.  Like I said, yeah, I do a lot of things backward.

So, I’m revising the question a bit. I’m going to think about today and what I’m setting my sights on to accomplish.

sandiego

First on the agenda is a bit of housecleaning. Daughter Liz and her husband are moving to California later this month. Before she leaves, she wants to visit with family. She lives about two hours away from us now, and she’ll be driving up early on Friday morning, spending the night here, and then visiting with her sisters nearby. She wouldn’t care if I cleaned house or not, and if the guest room is a bit messy, it wouldn’t bother her in the least. As long as she gets some of Mom’s cooking — and a few popsicles — she’ll be happy. All the same, I want to straighten things up a bit, sweep the floors, and do a little dusting and polishing.

Second on my “to-do” list is writing. I have two more western historical romances under contract with Secret Cravings Publishing, and deadlines have a way of sneaking up. I’m currently working on The Sheriff Wore Skirts, and I’ve reached the point in the process where things are coming together, ideas are developing, and sitting down to write each day is wonderfully fun.

Third will be cooking. Today I’m planning one of my personal favorites. Salmon patties with creamed peas and potatoes. I’ll probably serve it with a spicy tomato drink and toss up a green salad, too. Hurry, dinnertime! I’m hungry already.

Of course, I’m hungry now because I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. I slept late this morning — almost 5 AM. My husband didn’t wake me until he was ready to head out the door. But he did leave breakfast for me. So now that I’ve checked my Question and Answer book and have officially got this day under way, I’m going to go grab a bite to eat.

Happy Wednesday

What’s YOUR resolution for today?