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Fun, sexy reads

Fun, sexy reads

Looking for fast-paced, sexy romantic suspense with military heroes? Blind Fury (#1) is a hot friends-to-lovers story in D.C. Blind Ambition (#2) is a sexy, second-chance romance on the run in the Caribbean.

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Scrivener Training for Everyone

Scrivener Training for Everyone

Need help with Scrivener? I provide Scrivener training to individuals and groups all over the world through online courses, in-person workshops, and private training sessions.

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Resources for Writers and Scrivener Users

Resources for Writers and Scrivener Users

A great reference for new and experienced Scrivener users, a guide to software and apps that help with productivity, and essays on every facet of writing from the Writer Unboxed contributors.

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Fun and adventure in the western C States

By now, you probably know that traveling/exploring is my thing. As much as our budget will allow, anyway. After our Boston-to-Sacramento move last summer, we’ve slowed down a bit, but here are a few of our latest adventures in sightseeing.

In April, we celebrated a belated anniversary (22 years!) in Stinson Beach, California. This little town—population 600—is nestled in a gorgeous cove on the Pacific Ocean in Marin County, about 20 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 1. It backs up to Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods.

Stinson Beach with old log on sand

Stinson Beach, looking northwest toward Bolinas

view of the mountains from a park in town

A view of the mountains from a town park near the beach

cottage living room

The cozy cottage we rented up the hill, with a view of the ocean

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach after the weather cleared

While there, we drove up the coast a few miles to the adorable town of Bolinas, which sits just off the northern tip of Stinson. You could wade across, but there’s no bridge, so the drive is about 20 minutes around the inlet, where we saw seals lounging on a sandbar.

homes on a green hill in Bolinas

Homes in Bolinas

row boat in the water

An inlet in Bolinas, just off the northern tip of Stinson Beach

Gwen on edge of rock at ocean

Bolinas, just up the coast from Stinson Beach

Mid-May, we flew to Colorado for a friend’s retirement from the Air Force. Colorado Springs never disappoints, with its towering peaks, thick forest, and red rock. We even got snow! On Friday, we ran through our little rental home’s neighborhood and happened upon a back entrance to the Garden of the Gods (GOTG) park.

Gwen in Garden of the Gods park

Garden of the Gods, camera facing southwest toward Pikes Peak and Manitou Springs

red rock and a green field in GOTG

More Garden of the Gods

On Saturday, we hiked through Red Rock Canyon Open Space with friends, only a mile or two from GOTG, with fabulous views.

view of mountains and red rocks

A view of GOTG (top right on horizon) from the Red Rock Canyon Open Space

red rock surrounded by trees

Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Last summer, while waiting to close on our house, we hung out for a week in Redding, California (among other places). Since my oldest son had gone back to college for the summer term, he missed out. So, during his short pre-internship stay at home at the end of May, we took him north to see the amazing volcano that rises 14,179 feet above sea level at the southern end of the Cascade Mountain Range (i.e. Mt. Shasta).

hills and mountain over a lake

Mt. Shasta peeking over the hills around Lake Siskiyou

Gwen in front of Mt. Shasta view

Closer to Mt. Shasta on a hike up Spring Hill

Mt. Shasta framed by trees

Shasta framed by pine and manzanita from Spring Hill

We also checked out the impressive Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River in the heart of Redding at Turtle Bay.

Sundial bridge over the Sacramento River

Looking west toward the Sundial Bridge (taken July 2016)

Sundial Bridge, facing north

On the Sundial Bridge, facing north (taken July 2016)

spire of the bridge

Spire of the bridge from below

Sacramento River, facing west

Looking west from the bridge, up the Sacramento River

Been on any cool trips lately? Have any fun travel plans for summer?

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman poster with 5 versions of WW

courtesy of DC Entertainment

When I was a kid, Wonder Woman was my favorite superhero (still is). I wasn’t a comic book reader, but I adored the live-action show with Lynda Carter, and my old vinyl record that had a couple of audio episodes.

I marveled at how well she could run in that asinine costume, which by today’s standards would be downright staid. But even more, I loved that she was stronger than the men, highly intelligent, and feminine.

Costume aside, what girl wouldn’t want bullet-deflecting bracelets, a magic tiara/boomerang, a lasso that forces anyone in its snare to tell the truth, earrings that let you breathe in outer space, and an invisible jet? Add incredible beauty, superhuman strength and speed, telepathy, and the ability to speak any language, and, hey, where do I sign up?

And now Wonder Woman—and every girl/woman she inspired—gets her own feature film starring Gal Gadot as Diana.

Anyone else counting down the days to June 2nd?

Scrivener project setup best practices, and SIWC

One of the Scrivener questions I get asked frequently is, “What’s the correct way to set up my project?” Check out my answer over at Writer Unboxed.

By the way, if you’ve missed any of my old Scrivener posts—or just want to go through the archives—they’re all available on my website under the Scrivener Help tab. Or you can click here.

Anyone going to the Surrey International Writers Conference in British Columbia, Canada in October? I’ll be there! I’m excited. Not only have I heard good things about SIWC, but it’ll be my first international speaking engagement.

Happy May Day!

(Dis)connected

© Thorsten | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Do you ever wish you could disconnect from the Internet? We are plugged in via social media, on-demand television, virtual helpers like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), smart thermostats, email, our cars, online banking, and more. We don’t even realize how dependent we are until the connection goes down or we lose power.

Smart computer systems, using access to immense amounts of data, can use our browsing history to recommend new products, guess that we’re pregnant before our own family members, and predict the fastest route from our home to the beach at 5pm tomorrow.

How did I live without all this technology in the first half of my life?

And yet, I sometimes miss that disconnected life. I sometimes envy those who have managed to let it all pass them by, even as they become disassociated from mainstream society. Last year, I found myself almost jealous of the characters in the dystopian novel Station Eleven because they had no obligations to a small glass and metal rectangular object through which an astonishing amount of my life plays out.

I’m not a Luddite by any means. I love technology. I love having two-click access to almost any information, and the ability to turn on my lights with a voice command or “visit” my far-flung family members via FaceTime.

But sometimes, I need to disconnect. I need to go into my backyard, walk the dog, take a hike, or go to the beach, and live screen free for a while. Not just screen free, but instant-access free.

The problem with on-demand everything is that the minute we think a question, we can run off and answer it. But maybe it would be better to merely ponder it for a while. Enjoy the quiet act of thinking without distraction. To stew in our thoughts without always feeding our eyeballs with information.

I’m reading a book (on my iPad, of course) called The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. It talks about the types of innovations we can expect to see in the future, and how we’re only going to be more integrated. There are a lot of exciting things coming.

But I’m still going to need a break from it all.

Even now, I feel better when I take some time out of my day to unplug. This is one of the reasons why I run. And do yoga. Or brainstorm with—gasp!—paper and pen.

I don’t want to ditch my devices and move off grid, but I am trying to purposely schedule sanity breaks into my day. I imagine they’ll be even more important as we march inevitably forward into the connected abyss.

What are your thoughts on our expanding connectedness?

Facing the blank canvas

blank piece of paper on a table with pens and coffee mug

© creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The ability to write anything is scary.

I liken it to being given a blank canvas and told to “Paint something.” It’s paralyzing. But if the same person gave you the canvas and said, “Paint a tree,” you’d probably think for a minute about what a tree looks like to you, and then dive in.

In that way, parameters can actually free up your creativity rather than stifling it.

Once I know how my story starts, then I know which path I’m on. I might take some unexpected detours along the way, but I’m not switching mountains halfway through. (Unless, maybe, killer plot twist?)

I’m trying to work on the next book in my Men of Steele series, and this is where I remember how messed up my process is. No matter which method I use, I end up starting the story about 50 different ways before I figure out how to get into it.

I do have a few constraints to help me out. I know I’m writing romantic suspense, and that it takes place within the world of my Men of Steele series. And I know who the hero is.

But if a character can be stubborn, Kurt Steele is the worst. I’m not one of those writers who believes my characters have control, but once they form in my mind, that’s pretty much what I’m stuck with. (See Scott Kramer of Blindsided, who came to me as a Marine scout sniper, even though I’d been researching and writing Air Force PJ heroes.)

I’ve tried to write Kurt’s book several times now, and he doesn’t cooperate. At all. This time, I’m determined to write him a happily ever after, but I may turn gray doing it.

Wish me luck!

If you’re a writer, have you ever struggled with a particular character’s story? Got any suggestions?