Monday, 19 December 2022

MIRANDA'S CHRISTMAS MUSINGS

Hello my darlings, it's CHRISTMAS! I just love it: the music, the tree, decorations and lights, the excited faces on the children (and maybe a few adults, eg. me), church, the food, oh my gosh, the food, social get togethers, romantic Christmas movies (definitely addicted), the gifts and cards, oh my. I'm a total Christmas tragic. You?

I always start my Christmas reading early. It gets me in the mood and totally sparks joy, so why not? Here's six of the best festive reads I've found (and there's heaps more waiting on my Kindle).

I truly loved The Christmas Spirit by Debbie Macomber. You all know I love her annual Christmas story, and this one kicked off the spirit of the season for me. Two single friends, Peter - a small town pastor, and Hank - a pub owner, impulsively decide to 'swap jobs' just before Christmas, each convinced they work harder than the other, and maybe a little concerned their busy lives have prevented them from finding romance. Ha! Cue frantic-ness with two lovely romances to enjoy.  

Picture credit: amazon.com


One Christmas Knight by Kathleen Creighton is a blast from the past, first published in 1997 but making a charming comeback. It's a sweet story about a pregnant woman who - yes, you guessed it - goes into sudden labour when she's driving through a blizzard. A soft-hearted trucker stops to help, and he is totally fabulous the way he copes. All the love here! A baby and Christmas!

Picture credit: amazon.com

Scrooge and the Girls Next Door by Melanie Jacobson was LOL fun, a wonderful grumpy/sunshine Christmas story. The grump is awful at the beginning, totally uptight, but I'm pleased to report there's much less grump by the end. Imagine my delight when I realised this is a series, I'm totally getting the other stories. Loved this one so big.

Picture credit: amazon.com


Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan is an absolute delight. Get a big extended family and various assorted others and snow them into a big Scottish mansion at Christmas, and it's a recipe for disaster. No, wait, a recipe for romance, right? RIGHT? Ha, read it and see. All the feels in this one. I do love Sarah Morgan's ability to make me care so much. Ah, Christmas. 💝

Picture credit: amazon.com

I promised you six books, but wow, I confess that Life Has Rushed Past and I still have two more I'm absolutely dying to read before Christmas. Think I'll make it? The first is Mistletoe Kisses by Nana Malone, and isn't the cover absolutely divine? A brooding billionaire (nice) gives our heroine a reason to love Christmas after she's been dumped by some loser we don't need to care about. Yes please. 

Picture credit: amazon.com

I've been hearing a lot of buzz about Viola Shipman, so I've just picked up his book A Wish For Winter. According to the blurb, it's a book for people who love books about books, missed connections and the magic of Christmas. With a mysterious Santa in there somewhere. Tick, tick, tick, tick, wow, can't wait.

Picture credit: amazon.com

Because I can, I'm going to add one extra. Many of you know Robin Lee Hatcher for her stunning award-winning book The Shepherd's Voice. It's how I discovered her, and I've been a faithful reader ever since. So, ta-da! here's A Carol For Christmas. I'm so looking forward to it.

Picture credit: amazon.com


Ah, readers. So many books, so little time, but I hope and pray you do have time to sit down and enjoy some festive reading. You deserve it! Give yourself a little Christmas gift: read a book.

Be kind, be careful, be the best you can be. 

Merry Christmas precious people, and may you have a bright, shining Happy New Year!

Love from Miranda xxxx

I love to love:    you guessed it, ALL the Christmas romances. 

I love to laugh:  at unexpected humour in books. Scrooge and the Girls Next Door did that to me.

I love to learn:   what your fave Christmas authors/romances are. Do tell!


Monday, 14 November 2022

What's Keeping You Going in 2022?

As I sit down to write this blog it's 9:02 pm the night it is due... publication is but a short three hours away, so it needs to get done.

Also open on my screen is the short story I mention further below (the one that's due to be published in January) which is not finished. That deadline sailed about six weeks ago and I'm embarrassed to have missed it. The publishers are GREAT, don't get me wrong, but it's not a good feeling to know that you've not met a commitment. For those who've taken the Strengths test with Becca Syme, I'm a #1 Responsibility, so missing a due date bites hard. I've sworn to myself it'll be done tonight.

And, I don't know about you, but I feel a bit like a mouse running on one of those little wheels... I'm working the day job, recruiting to replace two members of my team, managing lots family stuff, sitting down to write only almost falling asleep at the desk, trying to figure out how we're fitting everything in around Christmas and I'm TIRED! Pretty sure I'm still processing 2020 and we're almost into 2023! 

I just want to take to my bed with a good book or twelve and pretend the world doesn't exist until the New Year rolls around and we're all inspired to begin with a clean slate.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu. Author's photo

But that's not possible! 

Instead, I decided to plan a holiday. 

I mean, a holiday to Hawaii (who doesn't love Hawaii) is definitely something to look forward to, right?

And I've spoiled myself booking a four night stay at Volcano House with an extra special room overlooking Halema'uma'u Crater (part of the Kilaeua volcano). I CANNOT WAIT!

I also decided to give myself a little grace.

We are all only human, and we can only do what we can do. 

I'm trying to focus on the important things at work, and I'm looking for opportunities to ask for help. And I'm making sure I get a little fun every day - #WillowsDiner (link below) helps a lot with that!

All that being said, I'm still working on getting through one day at a time and so I thought this would be a good place to crowdsource some other ideas. 

Tell me below, what's keeping you going in 2022?

A little shameless self promotion

Dearest Breathless Readers, today I’m finishing my blog with a little shameless self-promotion, introducing you to The Billionaire Fling, a short story anthology which launches in January 2023.

My story – One Night with London’s Most Eligible Bachelor – is in the anthology with more than twenty other shorts from best-selling and award-winning authors.

This is an international anthology, organised by The New Romance Café/Romance Café Publishing and it is particularly close to my heart because all proceeds from sales of the anthology are donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Both my mother and sister have had breast cancer, and my sister (in the wedding dress!) is still fighting it, so anything that brings us closer to a cure is worth it in my book!


If you want to buy, The Billionaire Fling can be pre-ordered here.

Champagne, sports cars, private jets: these powerful billionaires can buy everything but love. 

With the world at their command, how will they cope with the one person who wants their heart, not their money?

Strap on your red sole stilettos, pop open the champagne, and dive into our billionaires' glittering happy ever afters.

Over twenty titillating stories from USA Today best-selling and award-winning romance authors in a spicy billionaire collection curated by The New Romance Cafe, with ALL proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Kristine Charles writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories, and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at
www.wordsbykristinecharles.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram via Linktree.

LOVE TO LOVE: holiday planning... when I need to escape, I spend five minutes looking up something new to see or do in Hawaii. Bring on my trip in February!

LOVE TO LAUGH: Check out @saruh2themax on Instagram (or TikTok). Her #WillowsDiner videos are THE BEST. They cheer me up every day!

LOVE TO LEARN: from Sarra Cannon. I'm starting to think about my plans for next year and I'm using Sarra's HB90 method (which, in short, has you plan in 12 weekly chunks with a focus on what tasks move you towards your goals). If you want to check Sarra out, her YouTube channel is great. 

Monday, 10 October 2022

Rekindling One's Creativity

 

Rekindling One's Creativity

By Jayne Kingsley

So, it's been a year. Quite a few, really, but let's not delve down that rabbit hole. I agreed to write this blog months ago; fresh into a new year for which I had grand romance writing and kick ass life plans. January rolled into February, and I started a new career path by returning to university, naively thinking I could handle full time study, kids, a house, being an awesome wife, and writing romance.
HA!
 
I have a confession. I haven't written a word of romance since February. In fact, I haven't read a romance novel in over two months and quite frankly feel like my creative skills have packed up, dusted their brain space a little and trotted off to Bora Bora to soak in the sunshine and sip mimosas all day long. And I'd like them to come home now, please!
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 But how does one switch from writing carefully crafted and extensively researched academic reports and essays back into the wonderful world of creative writing? My brain is full to the brim with behaviour management skills, literacy blocks, and mathematically rich lesson plan sequences, (I'm retraining as a teacher btw, so yes, I really DO need my creativity back to keep up with my future students) but creatively I feel ... almost numb.
 
I miss writing romance. I miss reading romance, the type that draws you in and shakes your very core. I miss my tribe.
 
Regrettably, the university year still has a few months before I'm freed from its clutches for this year, but I decided to hunt for a few tips on adding a little more balance to my days, hoping that by doing so my creativity will naturally follow the golden path back to where it belongs (one can only hope; Bora Bora and mimosas are a pretty temptation to leave).

Tip 1:Mindfulness

I'm sure you've heard of it. It's the practice of being present in the moment, being aware of our thoughts and just taking a beat. My daughter, Miss 7, does mindfulness at school, and asked me to install the app Smiling Minds. It's free (no, this isn't some weird third-party promo I promise!) but I gave it a go and well, I'm a bit of a fan. Finding just five minutes a day to sit and soak in my thoughts, listen to the world and be present can only be described as a delicious treat amongst the hectic schedule that is my life. I highly recommend this one. 

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Tip 2: Colouring

I guess this is linked to mindfulness, since adult colouring books are still a huge trend, but I'm putting it separately as I feel they deserve their own time allotment. I love drawing, and it's another activity that I need to find more time for. It's peaceful, and ever so rewarding to see colour bloom across a once blank page. I even have a few colouring apps on my phone now. Not as blissful, I'll admit, but they do hit some of the criteria.
Buy here

Tip 3: Daydreaming

This is perhaps the one that I am lacking the most. I used to lie in my head, characters nattering to be written, ideas appearing thick and fast for yet another story I wanted to write. Now I daydream about having already handed in an assignment and receiving a distinction on my last maths exam. Sad, but true. I used to have a lot more time alone, where I could go for a walk and let my mind wander. These days, not so much, but it's a good goal that's certainly going on my list.
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Tip 4: Dancing

Dance like no one is watching, and if they are, tell them to come shake their booty too! I love to dance, and I make it a habit to try and fit in at least one danceathon with my kids each week. It's fun, it makes you smile, and it is good exercise to boot. All things that can help one's inner creativity find its way back to the surface.
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I'm sure there are loads more tips for bringing a spark of creativity back, but these are the four that I plan to start incorporating into my life. I'd love to hear if you have any suggestions?

I love to love... watching kids movies with my girls during school holidays (Let It Go rendition anyone?)
I love to laugh... at my terrible attempts to learn the floss dance move.
I love to learn... how bees make honey. We've just bought a beehive so bring on more learning! (Okay, I may be my own worst enemy).