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!
Giphy.com

 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.
Giphy.com


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).


Monday, 19 September 2022

#RWAus22… Baby, we’re BACK!

Over a month ago now, #RWAus22 wrapped up in Fremantle and, as usual, I’m only now getting to wrap my head around the absolute whirlwind that was our first fully national, in-person conference in THREE YEARS! #RWAus19 in Melbourne was SO LONG AGO!

This year, I’m blogging my takeaways for Breathless in the Bush, and those takeaways can, for me, be grouped into three main headings: Decisions, Consequences, and Character.

Check out why these three headings below.

#1 Decisions

International guests Becca Syme and Zoe York both talked at various times about decisions, and how those decisions then impact on writing, and writing careers.

One of the fundamental skills Becca teaches is to ‘question the premise.’ I can hear you all asking what that means, so, to illustrate, here’s an example from Becca’s book, Dear Writer, You Need to Quit (which I have bought in actual book form, read twice, highlighted and it now lives on my desk):

Good writers write every day.

But, do they?

Here’s another one:

You can’t edit a blank page.

But, can’t you? (And, sorry to all the La Nora Stans who are stoning me in their heads right now for challenging this one. I love La Nora too, promise)

Becca’s whole perspective is about finding what works for you, given your particular bundle of strengths and characteristics and ways of doing things. To stop making decisions about how you do things based on how OTHER people do them and make decisions that WORK FOR YOU. And, if you want more about that, check out Dear Writer, You Need to Quit by Becca which is an easy, and FABULOUS read.

Similarly, Zoe also talked about not just doing what everyone else is doing and thinking that will build your career. She talked about not seeking ten-word answers (i.e. the easy answer) but asking better questions (see the three minute scene from The West Wing here which explains this way better than I can, and you can watch the BRILLIANT Martin Sheen doing the BRILLIANT, albeit pretend, Josiah Bartlet). She also talked about questioning the goals of the person giving you advice and making sure that their goals align with your goals before making the decision to TAKE the advice.


#2 Consequences

Following on from Decisions – we have consequences.

Another message I took away from the conference was to be aware of where I expend my energy.

Becca uses the idea of energy pennies to illustrate this idea: imagine you have a finite number of energy pennies to use for each day, and every decision you make expends a certain number. One penny when you decide what you have for breakfast, twenty to process all the negativity when you start scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, even more when you start fighting with posters, whether online or in your head.

The limited number of energy pennies you have is why you need to make good decisions! You don’t want to be expending energy on decisions that aren’t the right decisions for you, or for your writing career.

#3 Character

And then, decisions and consequences come together in your CHARACTERS!


We were lucky enough to get a two-fer when Maisey Yates and Jackie Ashenden presented their Driven by Character session. Maisey and Jackie are both great - #BFFGOALS – and they talked some about the push/pull of decision and consequence as driving characters along.

They also talked about those decisions and consequences having to be in accordance with the character’s character (i.e. what makes them them), and those decisions and consequences having to have emotional ramifications.

You know, it all sounds so easy when I write it in one little paragraph but… This stuff is hard, and this session was a great reminder.


And, finally, the Award Winners

Last, but not least, CONGRATULATIONS to all of the RUBY award winners for 2022 (list here at the end of Amy Andrews’ latest Booktopia blog), and to the EMERALD (Carrie Clarke) and SAPPHIRE (Tanya Nellestein) award winners.

If you were there, tell us below what were your take aways from Conference? If you weren’t there, do any of my take aways resonate for you?



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. You can also get her latest - Catch and Kiss - in the It's Always Been You charity anthology (proceeds to breast cancer research) here.


LOVE TO LOVE: the book I’m reading, Ainsley Booth’s PRIME MINISTER, book one in the Frisky Beavers Series (Ainsley is also Zoe York!). This book is fabulous!

LOVE TO LAUGH:

LOVE TO LEARN: From Becca Syme. Her Write Better-Faster courses, and Need to Quit books are the BOMB!