Christina Cole Romance

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The Best Part

cup-of-coffeeRight now I have a jingle playing in my head. You’ve heard it before, I’m sure.

The best part of waking up, is Folger’s in your cup.

No, this isn’t a commercial, and I’ll pass on the coffee and enjoy a zingy cup of herbal tea for my morning wake-up. Those of you who do enjoy a hot, freshly-brewed cup of java can grab one now as we sit and visit.

So why am I singing the Folger’s jingle today?

Blame it on my little Question and Answer a Day book. Today’s question is a delightful one:

What’s the best part of your life right now?

Oh, there are so many good things in my life. I hardly know where to begin. Before I answer the question I first want to express my joy in finding such a beautiful question in this little book. Although it may appear to be quite simple, it’s truly profound. It’s the sort of question that sneaks up on us and makes us think.

We need to think more about what’s good in life. Too often we’re surrounded by negativity — news reports, frustrations, problems to solve — and it rubs off on us. We can’t ignore problems, of course, but dwelling on what’s wrong doesn’t help us find solutions.

It’s wonderful to sit here this morning in MLWR (my little writing room) and think of all the good things around me. I invite each of you to do the same. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever your favorite morning libation might be, take a deep breath, and focus on what’s right in your world.

The best part of my life is…

Oh, it’s so hard to single out one particular piece of what makes my life so good and say “this is the best.” I’m going to have to find a way to draw it all together and include all the joyful moments.

The best part of my life is…having opportunities to live fully each day, to be able to learn new things and share them with others, to celebrate every moment with family and friends, and to enjoy being who I am.

Today’s question brings time for reflection. It offers us a moment of gratitude and thanksgiving. Yes, I am grateful, indeed, for the wonderful life I’m living. I’m grateful for my family, and I’m grateful to each of you who pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and visit here each day.

I’m going to revise that little jingle now and say:

The best part of waking up is not what’s in my cup. It’s the people I share it with.

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Thank you for letting me share my mornings with you.

 

 


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Thank You

Yes, folks, I’m back, and I hope to continue posting regularly now. The last six weeks have been crazy ones, and I’ve learned a lot over that time. I’ve learned the importance of establishing priorities in our lives, the need for managing our time — and our emotions — and most of all, I’ve come to more fully understand the value of those simple words, “Thank you.”

Even during the bleakest, most challenging moments, at those times when the whole world seems to be crashing down around us, taking time to count our blessing and express our gratitude truly works wonders.

Does that message seem trite? It’s bandied about a lot, and because having “an attitude of gratitude” has become such a cliche “catch-phrase”, it’s easy to roll our eyes, mutter, “Yeah, yeah,” and go on.  After all, we’ve got problems to deal with. Real life isn’t so simple that a few little words will make a difference. Right?

Wrong.

Having an attitude of gratitude does make a difference in our lives. It affects not only us, but the people around us, especially when we show them — through words and deeds — how much we appreciate them.

Please, the next time your life turns chaotic, when problems seem to be flying at you from all directions and troubles are threatening to get you down, take a moment to step back. Look at all the good in your life. Look at the people who are there for you. Then, most of all, say those words aloud.

“Thank you. Thank you for being there. Thank you for all you do.”

 

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Today, as I return to the online world and begin blogging again, I want to say those words to every reader. Thank you. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for standing by me and showing your support. Thank you for all the thoughts, prayers, and good wishes you’ve sent to me and my family over these last few weeks. Please know that you are appreciated, even more than words can say.

 

 


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If Wishes Came True

“If you could wish for one thing to happen today, what would it be?”

That’s the question of the day from my little “Question and Answer” book. What an impossible question to answer! There are so many different levels from which it can be approached. My mind is filled with wishes, and choosing a single one requires setting others aside. It’s difficult, indeed.

To answer the question, I’m going to tke the noble approach. I’m going to make a worldwide wish that cancer didn’t exist, that no one would ever suffer from it, that no more friends or family members would be lost to it.

I wish today could be the day the medical community announced that cancer had been totally eradicated.

WishThere are, of course, lots of little personal wishes in my head. I’ll admit, the noble response was not my first. My first thought was a rather selfish one. I wished a small debt might be repaid. Then, reality struck. That little wish, I told myself, was never going to happen. It wasn’t worth wasting a thought on it.

Other insignificant little wishes quickly sprang up. Wishes are so easy! Some will surely come true; others, probably not.

I wish the weather would warm up a bit.

I wish I could sell a million books.

I wish I were finished with No Regrets.

I wish I had time to play a few games today.

I wish my sister were still alive.

Yes, truly I do wish my sister were here. She was one of those claimed by cancer. Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I were talking about one of my closest childhood friends — and a little scene from real life that found its way into Not the Marrying Kind. That friend, Mike Reeder, is gone now, too, another victim of cancer. So many good people have been taken from us.

I wish there were no illness or disease.

I wish poverty and homelessness would disappear.

I wish for an end to war.

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IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE WISH COME TRUE TODAY

WHAT WOULD IT BE?



DID YOU KNOW: Just an unbelievable little fact I stumbled across while researching for No Regrets. Did you know that in 1880, the legal “age of consent” in the United States was 10 years old?  WATCH FOR MORE LITTLE TIDBITS OF INFORMATION TO COME. 


 

THANKS FOR VISITING TODAY!

REMEMBER: Each comment on my blog during the month adds $1.00 to my Reach Out and Read pledge in May.


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Thank You!

 
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Just a note to all my friends, my family, and to readers I’ve not yet had the opportunity to meet. I want to let you know how much I appreciate each of you. I value your friendship, your encouragement, and your kindness.

Thank you to everyone who’s made the last few weeks very special ones. I’ve celebrated 1,000  Facebook “Likes” on my official author page, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with many of you at the recent “Snowbound Winter Release Event” through my publisher, Secret Cravings, and I’ve received a lot of positive response to the latest book in my “Sunset Series” of western historical romances.

Thank you for visiting my website and blog. Thank you for the comments you share with me. Thank you for stopping by my official author page, giving me those precious “LIKES” and sharing the page with others. Thank you for reading my love stories, and thank you for taking time to leave reviews.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO


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Reader Spotlight: Eve Bell

I love getting acquainted with romance readers. Even though we don’t always get to meet in person, it’s still rewarding to build friendships through the power of social media. I believe each friend we make has something to share with us, lessons to teach us, experiences that can enrich us.

Today, I’m pleased to shine a “Reader Spotlight” on a beautiful lady from Nebraska, the Cornhusker State. Please join me in welcoming Eve Bell.

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Eve describes herself as a hard-working woman, and with a husband, two sons, a daughter, an exchange daughter, their spouses, and seven grandchildren, she’s a busy lady, indeed. She also works as a town clerk and a grocery store clerk.  She shares her home with two “furbabies” of her own — two dogs — and her granddaughter’s rabbit.

I asked Eve what romance genres she enjoyed reading and what she looked for in a good story. Here’s what she had to say:

Currently I’m reading western romance, mostly historical but some contemporary, too. What I look for in a romance novel is a good story line with well-written characters. I like stories that have an easy flow, ones that aren’t jumping around all over the place.

Eve Bell

 

In addition to reading, Eve enjoys gardening, quilting, crocheting, and fishing. She has many fond memories of camping and fishing with her family while growing up. She likes to listen to country music and “golden oldies” from the 1950s.

She loves Christmas and considers her own family to be her most precious possession.

Just for fun, I threw out a few odds and ends of questions for Eve.  Here are the questions and her answers.

What’s something you dislike?    Mouthy, lazy, disrespectful people.

What’s your biggest fear?   Snakes!

What’s your favorite food?    Comfort food is my downfall, and a good steak!

What color is your bedroom?    Off-white with blue accents.

I asked, too, what her favorite quote is. It’s from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 12.

Eve Bell



I’m honored, Eve, to have you as my guest today. I look forward to chatting with you, maybe exchanging a craft pattern or two, and I do hope you’ll share a few pictures of your furbabies and that rabbit!

Thank you, Eve Bell!

 

 


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Blocks

BlocksI’m one of the “lucky ones”, I suppose. Although I hear writers from all genres bemoaning “writer’s block”, I’ve never been affected by the malady. I’m a writer; I write. It’s what I do. Sure, there are days when writing is easier than others, but even if I’m distracted, distraught, or downright puzzled over what to write next, there’s one sure way to get past the problem.

Sit down and write something.

 

 

It doesn’t have to be good. That’s what the editing process is for. The writing process is for putting words down, for capturing thoughts, exploring ideas, and moving forward.

Recently, I came across a little information about “Writer’s Block” that I found interesting. There are, I discovered, many different ways in which writers can be blocked.

  • What do I do now? Sometimes we can write ourselves into a corner. Sometimes we give a character a huge problem to resolve…and find ourselves at a loss as to how to proceed. Or we have scenes where we’re unsure whose point of view might be best. Yes, there are challenges in writing, but the answer isn’t to quit writing. When I come to these procedural bumps in the road, I just pack up and skip to a different part of the story. I trust that my subconscious will figure out a way to get around the problem. Sometimes the process of writing a later scene — or an earlier one — will give my brain a jolt, and I’ll have one of those “Aha!” moments. By setting things up differently, maybe the problem will disappear, or by heading for a different outcome, maybe the problem will be more easily resolved.
  • I’m all out of ideas! Sometimes the writer’s well goes dry — or so I’ve been told. We’ve all been told that there are only so many plots…and that they’ve all been used a thousand times. It’s simply not possible to come up with a wholly new idea. The fun of creating, I think, is to come up with fun new twists on old plots, to come up with new characters to act out those familiar storylines, to throw in random ideas and mix old stories together to come up with something that might not be completely new, but is totally different. If you’re feeing blocked creatively, check the web for random writers’ prompts. Open a dictionary and choose a word at random. Do the same with an encyclopedia, choosing a topic. Then look for a way to incorporate that into your WIP or into the story you’re planning.
  • What’s the point? My writing stinks! Oh, yes, this block is a pervasive one in the writing community. No matter how great our idea, no matter much we love a story, no matter how much we sweat and toil to bring our characters to life, at some point during the process — especially when writing a lengthy novel — we suddenly hate everything we’re doing. The idea, we realize, isn’t so clever. It’s silly. It’s dull. It’s boring. Characters? They’ve suddenly fallen flat. Their dialogue is a joke. That noble theme? Our meaningful premise? Somehow they’ve all lost their lustre. It’s all because of us, of course, because of our inadequacies. We’re not good enough to write such a complex story. We don’t have the skills to create memorable characters. We don’t know how to catch and hold a reader’s attention. In other words, plain and simple, we suck. Our writing sucks. Yes, we all feel that way from time to time, but if we keep writing, those feelings go away. We suddenly find ourselves turning a different corner and coming up with new ideas for the story, or a minor character suddenly steps up and grabs our attention. The excitement returns! The crisis is over. Of course, writing is an art and a craft, and there’s much to be learned. Set aside time to study. Learn about how to create characters, read up on writing dialogue, master the principles of suspense, conflict, and other essential story elements.
  • What’s was I doing? Oh, yes. Distractions. Sometimes it’s all but impossible to avoid them. Friends call. Family members need assistance. An unexpected sunny day can lure us away, or a gloomy day can put us in a dreaded funk that makes it impossible to do anything! There’s laundry to do, meals to cook, places to go. Most writers today don’t have the luxury of quitting their day jobs. Children need care, cars need tune-ups, there are appointments scheduled for doctors, dentists, and vision specialists. And…there’s more! Sometimes even the slightest little change in schedule can throw us off. We slept late. We missed our favorite television show. We spent a day in bed with a sore throat. How do we get back in the groove? And then, there’s clutter. Even though we usually might not even notice our surroundings while writing, there are times when something out of place can jar us. Oh, those magazines need to be straightened up. What’s that plate and fork doing on the desk? Well, those coffee mugs need to be picked up, and all those newspapers have to be thrown out. Actually, part of this is the creative process itself. Being creative usually does mean making a mess. Eventually it gets cleaned up. There’s no easy way to avoid distractions. It helps, I’ve learned, to laugh as much as I can, do what needs to be done, and yes, give myself an occasional break — after I’ve finished the day’s writing. The rule is “a sentence a day.” Some days, that’s all I write. Most days, however, I find that one sentence leads to another…and another…and another. When distractions happen, work around them. A sentence a day.
  • I don’t have time! This is usually a spin-off from the distraction problem, and sure enough, there are times when we don’t have enough hours in the day for everything that needs to be done. To be honest, though, such days are rare. We all have twenty-four hours in a day, and truth be told, we can always find time for the things that matter most to us. How important is your writing? If you can’t find time to write — a sentence a day, at least — maybe writing doesn’t really mean all that much to you. Harsh words? Yes. Life holds a lot of harsh realities, especially for writers. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. If you want to write, you’ll find time.

I’m writing this a 3:30 AM. It’s quiet around the house now, and for me, the middle of the night is an ideal time for writing. There’s nowhere else I need to be, nobody needs anything right now, and other than the mess I’m making, there’s nothing distracting me. I can focus. I can think. I can write.

Anna, the parrot, is covered and quiet. My husband is sleeping soundly in our bedroom, and a grandson is sleeping in the guest room. Last night, he and I watched Brain Games for several hours and had great fun learning about the tricks our minds can sometimes play on us. As we watched the program and talked about different things, we were also busy building things. Conner loves to create things with Lincoln Logs, Legos, and other building blocks.

He was awed when I told him about Ryan McNaught’s 190,000-lego recreation of the town of Pompeii.

Pompeii

Now, as I sit here thinking about writer’s block and building blocks, my brain is playing a game of its own, putting these two very different concepts together to create something different.

Why can’t writers’ blocks be used as building blocks?

I think they can be, don’t you? Look again at the blocks and what they represent. Look, too, at the possibilities they offer.

  • Stuck in a plot hole? Not sure which direction to go? Why not use this block to try out several different possibilities? The more options we give ourselves, the more likely we are to find what we’re looking for. So, write, write, write. Write a scene where your character takes one action, then write another where the character does the opposite. Write a dozen different scenes. Try this. Try that. Nobody said it had to be perfect the first time. Nobody said you got only one shot at creating a plot. Use the “stuck” block to build creative freedom and try off-the-wall solutions.
  • No ideas? This block is filled with possibilities. Use it as a reminder of all your interests, all the things that intrigue you, all the things going on around you. Grab a notebook and fill it with notes. What are your hobbies? What places would you like to go? Who are the most memorable people you’ve met? Jot down headlines from the newspaper that get your attention. Throw in random thoughts. Clip pictures from magazines. Use the “no idea” block to build your own Idea File and generate thousands of possibilities.
  • Writing stinks? This might be the best block of all to have in your collection. Use it to build your skills and hone your natural talents. Sign up for online writing courses. Visit the library and check out books on fiction-writing. Join a critique group. Attend workshops. Subscribe to writers’ magazines. Writing is both a talent and a skill. There’s always room for growth and improvement. Use the “stinky block” to build your future by giving you a solid foundation in writing.
  • Uh, what? OK, the distraction block is a tough one. It’s that one with the odd shape that never quite seems to fit anywhere. Consider it a block of challenge…or better yet, consider it a block that symbolizes your creative spirit. Make a special place for it. Take it out and play with it. Cherish it. You’re making a mess around you because you are creative. Celebrate that creativity. Use it. Keep writing, work around the distractions, and when you run out of clean socks, go do the laundry. Creativity is a gift. Honor it.
  • Make TimeNo time? Although this can seem like one of the biggest problem blocks, you can turn it into one of the biggest building blocks. Schedule literal “blocks” of time for your writing. If you can’t write for eight hours a day, can you manage four? How about two hours? Sixty minutes? No? Fine. Maybe ten or fifteen minutes is all you can manage…today. What about tomorrow? Can you pencil in a bigger time block? Do you have extra time on the weekends? How about getting up an hour earlier? Or maybe you could skip that night at the movies this weekend and stay home to write instead. You’ve got twenty-four hours. No, you can’t use all of them for writing, but use the “time block” to remind you that there is always time to do what you really want to do.

Now, it’s time for me to move on, get my day started, and turn my attention to my WIP. It’s going to be a very busy day. Later, we’ll drive Conner home, then we’ll head to our grand-daughter’s place about 40 miles away. She’s living in a house we own, and we’re in the process of fixing it up a bit. Today’s project will be moving a washer and dryer from the basement to the new upstairs utility room my husband has constructed.

Mason SurgeryLittle great-grandbaby had two medical procedures done yesterday, so he’ll probably be a fussy boy, and I’ll probably be running errands or doing other things to help his mommy.

Yes, it’s going to be a busy, busy day.

I’ve got cod fillets, potato salad, and mustard greens on the menu. I’ll be fixing dinner as soon as we get back home. I’d like to find time to watch the latest episode of “Project Runway  Allstars” — it’s recorded on the DVR — and I’ll need to straighten the house a bit. We still have Lincoln Logs, Legos, and assorted building blocks scattered all through the living room.

But, that’s all right. Picking up those blocks and putting them away can wait. Right now, I have a job to do. I’ve got a new romance novel to write.

I’m a writer. I write.


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Happy New Year 2015 – What’s Your Mission?

It’s been forever since I’ve posted any updates to my site. I’m so sorry for falling so far behind. Life’s been busy, and although I don’t expect things to slow down too much in coming months, I do hope to arrange things so that I have a little more time to spend online. I want to keep up with my friends, enjoy social media, and share news and information about the stories I’m writing.

I recently picked up a copy of a fun little book. It’s called “Q & A – A Five-Year Journal”.

Each day it asks a short question and provides a bit of space to record an answer. I’ve browsed through the book and have, in fact, answered a few questions, but with so much going on lately, keeping a daily journal — even with short entries — proved to be a challenge. I decided to set it aside until…yep, you guessed it.

New Year’s Day 2015

Hey, that’s today! So, yes, eager to begin, I opened the book and here’s the question I found:

What is your mission?

A short little question, and in many respects, a simple one with a simple answer.  My mission? To write. To share my stories with readers. To share, too, my beliefs about the incredible power of love.

Yet the answer didn’t satisfy me. It’s not that I don’t love writing. I do. It’s just that maybe the answer was too simple, too predictable. Coming up with the best answer required a little thought.

Yes, I plan to do a lot of writing in 2015, and I hope to reach more readers in the coming year. For me, though, the real mission is to do what I love in ways that bring joy and happiness into my life.  I intend to fully enjoy the experience.

In today’s world, writers not only have more opportunities through self-publishing and promotional venues, but also far more pressures and responsibilities than ever before. Thousands of authors are vying for readers, clamoring for attention, and spending every possible moment hawking their books, online and off. There’s a lot of noise out there, folks. Sometimes it’s hard to even hear myself think.

I don’t want to get caught up in it. I don’t want to fill my Facebook pages or Twitter feed with frantic pleas to buy, buy, buy. I want to talk about my stories, yes. I want to share excerpts, talk about themes in writing, and exchange thoughts with readers about love and romance, home and family, and all the things that give true meaning to our lives.

But I don’t want to cram my books down anyone’s throat. If I have to beg you to buy my books…well, something isn’t right.

I want readers to buy my books because they share my beliefs about the power of love, because they like the sort of old-fashioned stories I tell, and because they enjoy the characters I create and the settings I bring to life as I write.

My mission is to focus on bringing pleasure to my readers, to give the best of myself to each story I write, and to fully enjoy all that I do. That’s what I’ll be doing. On the other hand, I won’t be doing a lot of promotions. I won’t be running too many contests or sending out too many newsletters. I won’t be hounding readers to visit my website or badgering them to please, please, please grab a copy of my latest love story. Most of all, I won’t be stressing myself out by trying to do too many things at once. I won’t be rushing to keep up with appointments, interviews, advertising deadlines, and emails. I probably won’t sell a lot of books, but I’ll still enjoy telling my stories.

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Here’s wishing YOU the best in 2015.



 

What’s YOUR Mission?