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The Great Capitol Crimes Writers Workshop

If you’re in Northern California and looking for an inexpensive, one-day workshop for writers, check out The Great Capitol Crimes Writers Workshop in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento) on April 22nd. It’s sponsored by the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, but the topics are relevant for any fiction author.

The lunchtime keynote speaker is New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

And, I’ll be there, talking about—what else?—Scrivener. 😉 I’ve cut back on appearances since the move, and this is my only scheduled in-person workshop (so far) this year. Maybe I’ll see you there!

SINCC conference flyer

By the way, if your group or conference would like a Scrivener presentation, contact me about putting on a one-hour or half-day workshop. I’m also available for group presentations via teleconference.

Making time to read

stack of books in front of flowersDespite all the detours I took getting here, I’ve wanted to be a writer since at least 7th grade. Maybe it’s because I was such a huge reader. Like bring-home-14-books-a-week-from-the-library-during-the-summer huge. Like never-not-reading-something huge. Like up-too-late-reading-under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight-on-a-school-night huge.

(Who’s with me?)

I was constantly immersed in stories, to the point that my friends made fun of my vocabulary. (Because, apparently, no one uses words like risqué in middle school.)

Even while working full time for someone else, I probably read at least a book or two a week. I read on my lunch break, at the gym, while waiting for my boys at sports practice, on weekends, and after the kids went to bed.

Somehow, I managed to have a life and still read.

And then I started writing, and the more I got into it, the less I read. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I was using that time to write. And because I felt like if I had the time, I should write. Or do something else “productive.”

But if I’m always writing and never reading, how do I know what’s going on in the world of books? And how am I refilling my creative well if I’m never immersed anyone else’s words and ideas and style?

Okay, well not never. But there were whole weeks that went by where I didn’t crack open—or power up—a single book that wasn’t for story research or writing education.

For someone who got into writing because she loved stories, that seemed ridiculous. I had two main problems.

  1. I had no office hours. This is the ongoing dilemma for those who work from home. We’re never not at work, and if we have downtime, we feel like we should be filling it with work. One of the few things I miss about working for someone else is that when I came home in the evening, I could relax and enjoy that time guilt-free.
  2. I didn’t make reading a priority. I was making a lot of things happen, but sitting down to read when I could be cleaning, or writing, or answering email, or sorting my socks felt like playing hooky from all the things I should be doing.

I haven’t completely solved number one, but I am getting better at giving myself permission to ignore my office after dinner.

Number two has been easier. I simply added reading to my daily to-do list, and created a goal on Goodreads. Once something is on my list, it’s no longer a guilty pleasure, it’s a must-do.

“Fun read” has its own checkbox right alongside things like working out, writing, and all of my business to-dos. I hate unchecked boxes, so now I find ways to fit it in. I’m back to reading on my lunch break—this newer thing I’m trying where I don’t eat in front of my computer…

I read in the evenings when my husband returns to studying after we eat dinner and watch a show together, and while flossing/brushing my teeth.

Sometimes, on the weekend, I’ll sit in the living room or on the back patio, and get lost in a book for hours. Crazy, right?

Last year I read a little over 60 books—both fiction and nonfiction—against a goal of 52. This year, I’ve already finished more than 20 toward my goal of 75.

I’m pretty sure I’ll smash 75, and enjoy every minute of it.

Are you a big reader? Is there something in your life you’d like to fit in? What’s holding you back?

16 free romantic suspense books

[UPDATE 18 April 2017: The promotion is over, but my book, Blind Fury, is still free at all online retailers. Many of these others are as well.]

Looking to try some new-to-you authors risk free?

Thriller author Mark Dawson has launched a new free ebook site called The Book Locker and I was lucky enough to get Blind Fury showcased during its very first week.

The Book Locker lets you search free books by genre, and new books are featured each week. Blind Fury—along with fifteen other freebies—is listed under romantic suspense, but you can click the Genres button at the top of The Book Locker page for great reads in just about any genre you can imagine.

Book Locker RS pageI hope you find some gems!

BLINDSIDED is out now!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

What better way to celebrate than with a new romance? I hope you love Blindsided as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂

Blindsided cover

SHE’S RUNNING FOR HER LIFE
Framed for espionage, reformed hacker Valerie Sanchez has no choice but to run. Worse, when the proof of her innocence is destroyed, things turn deadly. Can she trust the sexy terrorist hunter who mysteriously turns up to protect her, or is he the real threat?

HE’S HOT ON HER TRAIL
Former Marine sniper Scott Kramer’s job was supposed to be easy. Follow the hot computer geek who stole plans for classified weapons until she meets her buyer, then let law enforcement take over. But when Valerie becomes an assassin’s target, Scott’s gut says she’s innocent. Now, he must risk his life—and his heart—to keep her safe.

💕

Get Blindsided now in ebook or print at your favorite retailer, and check out my book page for fun facts and an excerpt.

Amazon | NookiBooks | Kobo

It’s new-release party time!

party bannerTo celebrate our new releases, five of us are throwing a Facebook party on February 13th and 14th, and giving away lots of cool prizes. Grand prize is an Amazon Echo, Kindle Fire, and 3-month Audible subscription, and we’ll have lots of other great giveaways too.

prizes graphic

Want to get in on the fun? Click here to join the party now and Facebook will remind you on Monday. If you can’t make the scheduled time, you can always pop in after. All comments on February 13 and 14 (EST) are eligible to win. Feel free to invite your friends. I hope to see you there!

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter before Monday to be eligible for a chance to win a digital copy of Blindsided in my subscribers-only drawing next week. Thanks!

A Scrivener Story Genius template and an iOS course

Story Genius and Scrivener

Story Genius book and Scrivener logo

If you’re a fan of Story Genius by Lisa Cron, I published an article at Writer Unboxed on Sunday about how to use Scrivener to work through the Story Genius process. I also included a Scrivener template—reviewed and approved by Lisa Cron—that I created to go with it.

Even if you aren’t familiar with Lisa’s book—which I highly recommend for all types of fiction writers—you might find the discussion of how to set up a project useful/interesting. 😀

Scrivener for iOS Training

iOS Welcome Screen

Love the idea of using Scrivener on your iPad or iPhone, but need help? I offer private training on the iOS version, but if you’re looking for a budget-friendly and incredibly thorough online course, you can’t go wrong with Steve Shipley’s new Udemy course.

Steve is a Scrivener super user who built the course with Scrivener for Windows developer Lee Powell. The class is on sale now, with an extra discount through the end of March if you use the link above.

I hope your writing is going well, and that the groundhog is good to you tomorrow!