Mea Culpa! My Top 5 Common Writing Mistakes

Quick Writing Update
I’m busy working away on my non-fiction book on Guinevere – three research books away from writing. I’m going to try to do my own cover and format that myself. Right now I’m thinking a summer release. I’m also researching for Mistress of Legend. I already have some great new ideas on how to improve the draft I have. I’ll probably be writing on that one in late February. I’ll get back to more book-related blog posts around that time.

I’ve also decided to take a break from social media (Facebook and Twitter) for a while. It’s just not fun right now with all the political stuff. I’ll still be on my FB author page, Instagram and Pinterest, if you want to interact. If nothing else, this will give me more time to read/write.

On to the Blog
This week’s blog challenge is “Sorry, Editor! My Common Writing Mistakes.” No one is perfect (even though I like to think I am). No matter how hard I try, there are some mistakes that I make over and over again. My poor editor and proofreader are probably so sick of them. To compile this list, I went back and looked at previous edits to see what they pointed out.

  1. Comma splice – This is by far my most frequent offense. My proofreader is probably sick of writing “Comma splice. Em dash or ellipsis recommended if you want to pause for effect.” Here’s an example of a line I did wrong: “We didn’t have much experience seeking out the spirits; usually they came to us, and privately at that.” It should be “usually they came to us – and privately at that.” I seem to think commas are enough of a pause when they don’t really function the way I think they do in these cases.
  2. “Was” phrases – Because I write in past tense, I have a tendency to say things like “I was walking to the door when it suddenly opened from the other side.” Many times that can be better phrased as “I walked to the door…” The “was” makes the sentence more passive. I have to break myself of that habit.
  3. Forgetting “had” – Again, because I write in past tense, I sometimes forget that when you are talking about the past in a past-tense book, you need to use “had” to indicate the action took place in the past. For example: “My suggestion of a theme had come at the end of a long brainstorming session…” My tendency is to want to write “My suggestion for a theme came at the end…”
  4. Redundant phrases – I think a lot of people have problems with this, partly because of the way we speak. It’s common now to say things like “she was just a tiny little thing.” You really don’t need both “tiny” and “little” since they both mean the same thing. My most common mistake here is “sit down on the chair.” Where else are you going to sit, but down? You can sit up, but when you’re talking about being seated, down is the only way you can go, so you don’t really need that word.
  5. Typos/misspellings – I used to be an okay speller, but as I’ve gotten older and learned to rely on spell check, I’ve gotten bad at it. Part of it is because we don’t always say words the same way they are spelled. Plus, there are some words I have a mental block against, like “convenient.” Typos are more of an early draft thing, but sometimes they make it into the published book. (Eeeeek!) Missing words tend to be most prevalent, I guess because I’ve read it so many times I see it as it is supposed to be rather than how it is. Also, my brain moves faster than my fingers so sometimes not all the words make the transition from mind to keyboard. I seriously love readers who point out the typos they see so I can get them fixed.

Plus, every writer has tics that show up in a book. In Madame Presidentesss, everyone smiled and nodded a lot. In Been Searching for You, people pointed with things a lot – pens, forks, etc. In Daughter of Destiny, I kept emphasising Morgan’s red hair to the point that my editor commented something like, “OMG, she has red hair. We get it.” Whoopsie.

 We all write in some form or another, whether it’s in email, social media, blogs, for our jobs or for books. What are some of your bad habits? Please tell me I’m not alone!

Gimme More! Shows I Binge-Watch

I don’t watch much TV. In fact, the only reason I even own a TV is to see weather reports during tornado season and traffic reports in the winter. I have turned into my college English professor (he didn’t own a TV, which at the time we thought was crazy). I prefer to use the time to read, research or write.

Needless to say, I don’t have cable. The few shows I do watch are through Amazon Prime on my Kindle Fire.

orphan-black-image-orphan-black-36398134-1280-920Orphan Black (BBC America)
I wasn’t sure what this show was about for the longest time, so I avoided it, but one of my co-workers finally convinced me to watch it and I was immediately hooked. I won’t say what the main plot point is in case you haven’t seen it yet, but I can confidently say, there is nothing else like it on TV. I mean, the lead actress (Tatiana Maslany) literally plays 14 characters and she is so good that you forget that they aren’t actually different people. I binged the first two seasons over a single weekend. Starting with season three, I had to watch week to week just like everyone else. Unfortunately, the upcoming season is its last. Should be a good one because they have so many questions left to answer and loose ends to tie up. But they better not kill off Cosima. If they do, the fans will revolt. Or at least I will.

Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon Original)
mozartI love this show because not only is the writing fabulous, the acting is great and the music is amazing. An intelligent show that promotes the arts! FINALLY! And who would have thought the symphony could be so scandalous? The show is based on a book, which was based on real-life. If I ever get the chance, I want to read it. I need to add it to Goodreads.

I watched the whole first season in one weekend. The second was pretty much the same. I was worried when the third season started in December that it might be getting a little old, but the writers are doing better than ever. I will watch as many seasons as they can keep witty and fresh. Any show with Bernadette Peters is worth watching in my book, and Gael García Bernal (Rodrigo) and Lola Kirke (Haley) have become two of my new favorites. Saffron Burrows fascinates me for some reason, and even Malcom McDowell grew on me. This one is a must watch for any classical music or theatre lover!

Good Girls Revolt (Amazon Original)
good-girls-revolt-tv-show-on-amazon-season-1-canceled-or-renewedThis show follows a group of women working at the fake publication News of the Week in the late 1960s. They decide to secretly band together to file a gender discrimination suit against the magazine because they aren’t allowed to become reporters. Only men can be reporters; women are stuck as their researchers and don’t get bylines even if they rewrite the articles and/or do most of the work. The general plot is based on real events at Newsweek that changed women’s roles in the workplace across the country. But the producers admit to taking lots of liberties (probably the sex and drugs) with the characters. It’s a really great period show and I’m glad it introduced me to actress Genevieve Angelson (who plays Patti), whom I now adore. Amazon shocked fans of this show by cancelling it, even though it is one of their highest rated originals ever. I will never understand that decision. But I also can’t say I HAD to have another season. I enjoyed this one – watched it in 2 or 3 days – but toward the end it was getting a little much.

Murder in the First (TNT)
mitf_s2_g_coverI started watching this police procedural because Kathleen Robertson is in it and she’s my inspiration for Mia in Been Searching for You. I was also interested because Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter) was in the first season and I hadn’t seen him in any other role at the time. Man, can he ACT! One of the unique things about this show is that each season follows a different major murder case from start to finish. The first was about a tech billionaire (Felton), the second about a school shooter (with a subplot about a drug dealer) and the third was about a drinking and driving hit and run involving the DA. And just as I was writing this, I found out there won’t be a fourth season. Excuse me while I go sit in the corner and cry. This was one of the best shows on TV! Please go back and watch it, especially the first season. That is some fabulous, edge-of-your-seating writing and wonderful acting.

I also really want to see Blindspot. I saw one episode on my flight back home from Oxford and was hooked. I just haven’t wanted to spend the money on it yet.

And I will watch any Property Brothers’ show when I’m at my parent’s house, but I haven’t gotten myself to buy any seasons yet.

These aren’t out yet, but I will be binge-ing them as soon as they start, just based on the pilot episode. All are Amazon Originals.

The Last Tycoon
the-last-tycoon-amazonBased on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final book, this show “follows Monroe Stahr, Hollywood’s Golden Boy as he battles father figure and boss Pat Brady for the soul of their studio. In a world darkened by the Depression and the growing influence of Hitler’s Germany, The Last Tycoon illuminates the passions, violence and towering ambition of 1930s Hollywood.” I loved it because the sets, costumes and cinematography are top-notch and the storyline is utterly enthralling. I also have a thing for 1930s Hollywood/New York lately. Something about the glitz and glamour reels me in. The acting is great too, although I really want to introduce Lily Collins’ eyebrows to a pair of tweezers. My new fascination is Jessica De Gouw, who plays Minna, the late wife of the lead character. She’s going to be the inspiration for one of my characters someday; I can tell.

zZ: The Beginning of Everything
This show is based on the novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, which tells the life story of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. While I liked the book, I LOVED the pilot of the show. I think it gives the story the drama and fun the book sometimes lacked. Oddly enough, I don’t normally like Christina Ricci, who is in the title role, but she is PERFECT for this role. Can’t wait to see more!

The Collection
collectionI haven’t even seen a pilot for this, but the trailer looks amazing. Here’s Amazon’s summary: “A gripping family drama and entrepreneurial fable, set in a post-war Paris fashion house. It exposes the grit behind the glamour of a rising business, spearheaded by two clashing brothers. The atelier staff survived one war, but others loom; rivalries and romances pitting family against family, protégés against mentors, the past against the future.” I love shows  about the fashion world (yes, I loved Project Runway when I had cable) even though I’m not particularly concerned with fashion in my own life. I’m hoping this is going to be a great period piece chock full of drama.

Highston
highstonJust when you thought I was all about serious or period shows, I throw this one at you. It’s about a boy named Highston (God, do I hate that name) who not only hears voices in his head, he sees them as celebrities and imagines them as his friends. In the pilot, it was Flea from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. And OMG is this show hilarious. It’s also way too relatable for writers.

As I was gathering images for this post I also came upon Flesh and Bone, about ballet dancers, and Maison Close, about brothels and prostitutes in late 19th century France. May have to give those a binge as well.

What are your binge-worthy shows? What else do I need to see?

Couldn’t Do It Without My Family

My dad and I at Penned Con in September 2016

My dad and I at Penned Con in September 2016

This weeks blog challenge theme: How my family survives my writing.

They make it sound like living with a writer is a tough/bad thing. *bats eyelashes innocently*

Seriously though, it’s really me who couldn’t survive without them.

I’m lucky to come from a really supportive family. The only ones who really have to live with my writing daily are my cats (and they aren’t complaining) and my mom. Poor woman has to endure every idea I’ve ever even thought of having – and we talk every night. But I’ve been like that since long before I became a writer so it’s safe to say she developed coping mechanisms long ago. From what I can tell, she just listens (or at least pretends to), provides feedback when I need it, and cheers me on. If she’s ever complained, I’ve never heard about it. It might help that she drinks. So does my grandmother. (And so do I.) We’re all Austrian (I’m first generation American on that side) so wine runs in our blood.

My dad is quietly supportive. If you were lucky enough to make it to Penned Con back in September, you may have seen him at my booth, giving out swag and talking up my books. He’s quite proud of me. 🙂 And if you know him IRL, chances are good he’s talked you into buying a book. (He’s a magnificent hand-seller!)

The rest of my family is supportive as well. My writing being a serious career pursuit was a tough sell for my grandparents (on my mom’s side), but even they have come around to be cheerleaders for me.

I certainly can’t complain.

(And this was the most awkward blog subject I’ve ever had to write about. Thanks, blog challenge.)

Better question: How do all of you put up with me? 

Yes, I’m Obsessed with More Than Books (or these are my favorite things)

What do you mean not everyone keeps tons of makeup in a Caboodle from the 1980s?

What do you mean not everyone keeps tons of makeup in a Caboodle from the 1980s?

I get rather caught up in the research blogging and book stuff around here, so in an attempt to show you the more personal side of me, I’m going to try to complete Marketing for Romance Writers’ 52-Week blogging challenge. Every Friday, I’ll use their prompt for the week to tell you something about me.

This week’s theme is “A Few of my Favorite Things.” I’m limiting myself to five for the sake of brevity.

  1. Crystals – I know we’ve talked about this before, but I collect crystals. I love just to look at them – pretty, shiny – but I also meditate with them and believe in their healing powers.  I have a bunch of jewelry with various stones. My favorites? Selenite, moonstone and citrine.
  2. Makeup – Did you know that if I wasn’t a writer (or a history professor), I’d want to be a makeup artist? I’m not an artistic person – I can’t draw or paint or sculpt – but the things you can do with makeup amaze me. When I was 12, I took modeling classes at Barbizon (yep, child of the ’80s here) and one of the things we learned, besides that I am way too short to be a model, is how to properly apply makeup for everyday wear, as well as color and black and white photo shoots. I was hooked. Then when I was a sophomore in high school, I was on the makeup crew for a play. (Greasepaint is disgusting, but it was still fun to do special effects makeup.) I’ve played around with my own makeup ever since, but never actually pursued formal training. At the moment, I have around 50 eye shadows, 20 eyeliners and 15 lipsticks, plus all the other stuff: brushes, bronzer, foundation, etc.  Favorite brand: MAC, but I’m also getting into MBA Cosmetics and hoping to try out Storybook Cosmetics when their first line comes out.
  3. Cabins, Cottages and Tiny Houses – This started when I stayed at Hedgebrook, a writer’s retreat on Whidbey Island, about two hours outside of Seattle for two weeks. There is something about the small space that I find comforting. Living in one also taught me that I don’t need much to survive and I became somewhat of a minimalist. (But I do require indoor plumbing and internet access.) I also loved the wood-burning stove and despite my irrational fear of fire, I hope to have one someday. I’d rather spend my money on experiences than a large house, so a tiny house or a nice cabin would be fine by me. (Says the girl who wants to live in Chicago. Maybe I should amend that to a small apartment downtown?)
  4. Castles – On the other end of the architectural scale, I’m obsessed with castles. I have been since I was very young. When I was 11, I was fortunate enough to spend 3 weeks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with my mom and grandmother. I tried to count the number of castles we saw, but there were so many (literally around every turn) that I lost count somewhere around 120. My favorite ones I’ve visited are Neuschwanstein Castle and Heidelberg Castle, both in Germany.
  5. Miniatures –  Collecting miniatures and building huge doll house versions of my books is going to be my eccentric old, rich lady hobby someday. I think I like them because I can visualize worlds and stories in them, just like I do with my books. My grandmother actually made several miniature shadowboxes when I was young. But the best display I’ve ever seen is Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I could stare into that thing all day long. If you get a chance to buy/read the book about the castle, you’ll learn just how rare and valuable some of the pieces are. It’s amazing.

What are some of your favorite things? Do we have any in common?

2017 Goals and Word of Year: Write

Created with Canva

Created with Canva

Happy 2017!

I was originally planning for my Word of the Year to be “savor.” I wanted to have a year to sit back and relax, to enjoy the fruits of the whirlwind that was 2016.

However, all that changed on Christmas Day, when I found out my cousin passed away unexpectedly the night before. She was only six months younger than me and she and I were the best of friends when we were little, so it hit me very, very hard. She’s the first relative that has died that I was really close to (no offense to the others) and the first person near my age. It really made me realize how fleeting life is and how we aren’t promised the 80+ years we tend to take for granted, so I changed my focus.

I have this horrible fear that I will die or something will happen to my brain (like a stroke or something) before I can get all the stories in my head written. That’s why I’m going to push myself this year to write my little heart out, which you will see reflected in my goals below. It’s also why I chose the word “write” as my Word of the Year.

2017 Goals

  1. Write and publish at least two books. This includes Mistress of Legend and a non-fiction book about Guinevere that I’m currently working on. The latter won’t be long, but it will be a synthesis of all my research. I’m really more putting it out for fun than as a money-maker. I will also release an ebook bundle of the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy once Mistress of Legend is out.
  2. Write Isolde and Morgan’s stories for 2018 publication. I’ve been wanting to do this for years now and it just feels right to make this a year of Arthurian legend. Doing so will keep me in the mindset and help the books have more continuity and consistency. Also, once those books are done, I can move on to other time periods and subjects without guilt that this one isn’t finished.
  3. Continue to attend conferences and speak. I am finding that I love to speak and teach, so I want to do this as much as possible. I have seven events between March and July, so this is shaping up to a good start. Some of my events are for readers, while others are for writers.
  4. Turn some of my blog posts/presentations into online classes. For those who can’t come hear me speak or who want to learn more, I’d love to start offering classes. This may be a stretch goal for 2017, but it’s been on my mind a lot, so I want to list it.
  5. Continue to learn about marketing and indie publishing. This is an ongoing goal because things keep changing and I’m of the opinion that you should never stop learning.
  6. Break even on expenses incurred in 2016 and 2017 by the end of the year. Running any business, including indie publishing, comes with it’s fair share of costs. I’m publishing less and plan to do less marketing this year to help accomplish this. And of course, hopefully I will see increased income from my books!
  7. Lose 30 lbs by my 20-year high school reunion in September, which means exercising regularly and eating right. All this “butt in chair” time writing and editing and such has led to a huge weight gain for me. But more important than the number on the scale are my health and self-confidence, both of which will improve as I lose weight.
  8. Reignite my social life. I’ve really let this slide over the last few years in favor of my writing career, but now that that is established, it’s time for me to find some balance. Luckily, I have some new friends (Mia and Greg, I’m looking at you), so hopefully I will have people to do things with. I already have tickets to finally see Rent live, so that is a step in the right direction! (Those of you who have read Been Searching for You know that Rent is my favorite musical. Can you believe I’ve never seen it on stage?) Bring on the concerts, musicals and plays, ballet, and anything else that sounds like fun!

So, there you have it, my plans for a busy, but hopefully balanced year.

What are your plans for 2017? What’s your Word of the Year?

Looking Back on my 2016 Goals

2016 was a hard year for so many people, so I feel like no matter what I say here I will sound ungrateful. Part of me feels bad that it was a great year for me personally. But a bigger part says STFU, embrace your success and be thankful. And I am. I did so many things I never would have imagined and am so proud of the books I released. (If I don’t sound like it, it’s because I’m going through a lot and feel kind of flat right now.)

I just looked back at my goals for 2016 and started laughing. I did very well and some and deplorably on others.

  1. Enjoy the whirlwind of releasing four books in under seven months – I don’t know if “enjoy” is the right word for all that craziness, but I did survive it. And I did have fun, but it was a heck of a lot more work than I thought it would be. While I have proven it can be done, I don’t recommend that schedule to anyone. I’m glad it’s over and am so proud of what I accomplished! I’m even more proud that the books are out in the world and in the hands of readers.
  2. Write at least one new book (two is my stretch goal) – Not so much. You can totally tell I didn’t know how much work I had cut out for me when I wrote this goal. I didn’t write anything new this year. I did edit a lot and I have started on the research that will form the basis of a book to be published next year, but that’s it.
  3. Continue to market my books and learn about self-publishing – This one I actually did really good at. Talk about a crash course! I read what feels like a million books (and have about a million more to go) and tons of blog posts. but I learned the most through doing. Indie publishing is all about trial and error. This will be an ongoing goal, as it is a never-ending learning process, especially as the industry keeps changing.
  4. Exercise on a regular basis and eat healthy – I was so bad at this. I am ashamed to admit how bad. I haven’t exercised in about a month now, and not much before that. Some it is time, most of it is laziness, and a lot is that I can’t find any kind of exercise right now that interests me. I used to dance, I really want to get into yoga but so far I’ve been bored, and I’m too out of shape for the boot camp I used to love. I’m not really a taking classes kind of person, but right now DVDs/YouTube isn’t working for me either. That HAS to change. Suggestions?
  5. Nourish my spirit – This kind of fell by the wayside too. I did work with a life coach this year, which was an amazing experience on many levels, so I think that counts. But I need to make daily prayer/meditation a regular practice again, as well as taking time off to refill my creative well.
  6. Take time to have fun – I had a ball at the conferences and book signings I went to this year! While I can’t say I really did much outside of the writing community for fun, I wouldn’t trade the great experiences this year for anything (although I could have done without American Airlines losing my luggage and not reimbursing my expenses. I’m still sore over that, can you tell?)

For those who don’t know, this year has come to a close on a sad note for my family. My cousin, who was only six months younger than me, passed away suddenly on Christmas Eve. She and I were very close when we were young, so this was a great shock. I’ll talk more about how this affected me (grief, obviously) in my January 1 post, but I wanted everyone who had a rough year to know I understand how you feel, at least to an extent (and that’s without getting into politics).

Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to kicking 2016 to the curb and welcoming in 2017. I’ve learned so much this year, but it is time to move on.

I wish you all a wonderful remainder of the holiday season and a Happy New Year!

2016 – In Review and By the Numbers

Image purchased from Adobe Stock

This may well be my last blog post of 2016, unless something else comes up, so I thought it would be a good time to look back on this wacky, wonderful year – as my boss at my day job calls it “The Year of Niki.” To be honest, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to stop and enjoy it. I haven’t let the successes sink in. So, this is going to be as much of an experience for me and it is a wrap-up for everyone else.

Books published: 4
Print and ebook: 4
Audio book: 3
Awards won: 13
Media appearances: 26
TV: 2
Radio: 6
Podcasts: 2
Print articles:  16
Speaking events: 10
Book signings (outside of speaking events):  5
Blog tours: 6
Blog posts: 90 (82 on this blog and 8 others I didn’t re-blog from Spellbound Scribes)
Guest posts/interviews: 90
Daughter of Destiny: 24
Camelot’s Queen: 18
Been Searching for You: 17
Madame Presidentess: 25
Other/General: 6
Travel destinations: Bellingham, WA; Chicago, IL; Schaumburg, IL;  Oxford, England
Books read: 89 (including two beta read books, but the year is not over yet and I’m aiming for 100)
Pages read: (according to Goodreads): 29,792

Ah, I think I now know why I’m so tired! I had no idea I did all of this! Wow. And this is with a full-time job and no assistant. Yeah, I’m crazy. But it proves I live my mantra, “Dreams don’t work unless you do.”

I haven’t formally set my goals for 2017 yet, but I already have 7 events planned between March-June. I know you will get at least two books from me in 2017 (Mistress of Legend and one smaller, non-fiction book. I’m hoping possibly a Chicago Soulmate book as well – we’ll see.) And 2017 was supposed to be my year to slow down…

I hope all of you have wonderful holidays, no matter what you celebrate, and in case I don’t blog again before the end of the year, Happy New Year! Thank you for all of your support over this crazy year. It really means so much to me and is what holds me up on the days I’m so exhausted I can’t see straight or am down for one reason or another. You are all wonderful!

My First Radio Interview

Speak up talk radioQuick update on something I think you may want to know about. I was on Speak Up Talk Radio today and you can listen to my interview. It was my very first radio interview, so I think it went pretty well.

If you are a writer, I highly recommend checking them out. Pat, the host, regularly hosts authors of all ilks. The only cost is a $25 donation to charity, the pillowcase project, which sends handmade, one-of-a kind pillowcases to homeless Veteran shelters and women’s shelters. To me, that’s well worth it.

Getting to Know the Person Behind the Books: Nicole Evelina

So I will get back to historical posts next week, but I decided to steal this idea from Dianne Sylvan and do something fun to help you get to know the person behind the books. She calls this State of the Author.

Here we go. These Days I Am…

Rocking Out To: I’m on a Lana Del Ray kick right now, listening to her first album, Born to Die, over and over. I think it has something to do with the coming summer. That album always makes me want a martini and a cigarette (and I don’t smoke). Getting to listen to it poolside with a drink is heaven. I also just realized she has a third album out that I need to check out. (Couldn’t get into the second one.)

And as always, Kill Hannah is on constant rotation.

I’m also listening to a ton of audio books. My latest are the books in the Selection series by Kiera Cass (I’m on #4 The Heir, so far the first one was the best. Not sure if #4 and #5 will add anything to the overall story) and At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (It’s one part day in the life of a pioneer family who settled in the swap, one part Signature of All Things. Not sure where the story is going.) Plus, I’m slowly listening to first pass recordings of Camelot’s Queen.

Wearing: My usual business casual clothes to work and shorts and a t-shirt or tank top on weekends. It’s definitely sandal weather around here. I’m also big into crystal jewelry in the last few months. I like feeling the properties of the stones working on me throughout the day.

Eating:  Everything in sight. So not good. I’m trying to get back to healthy again, but it’s hard. I’ve been eating a lot of seafood because I love it and now that it’s fresh fruit and veggie season, I’m hoping that will get easier. I need to get back to exercise too, but that’s a whole different story…

Drinking: Fruit infused water. I drink plain and sparkling water all the time (I can’t do anything caffeinated), so this is a nice change. My mom got me into this. Yesterday was strawberry-lemon-mint. Today is blueberry-lime-cilantro, which is so refreshing. Lots of recipes on Pinterest. I can’t wait to try something with the apricots and nectarines I have in the fridge.

I’ve also been on a vodka kick. No idea why. And summer is perfect for Sauvignon Blanc.

Tweeting: I’m having a love-hate relationship with Twitter right now. I know I need to do it, but it seems like every day there is some new thing that gets everyone all upset. Some of the things are justifiable, but others are just plain stupid. So I try to ignore that, talk to friends and RT what I think is important.

I’m on better terms with Instagram and Pinterest right now. That’s where you’ll find me the most.

Watching: Orphan Black! I am so obsessed with that show. And Murder in the First comes back in like a week and a half. I am so excited! I also watched three movies this past weekend, the first ones I’ve watched in ages:

  1. The Duff – Cute, but totally predictable. The actress I watched it for (Skyler Samuels) wasn’t even in it much, but I did find a new actress I like who could totally play Mia in Been Searching for You (Bella Thorne).
  2. Pitch Perfect 2 – Very good, but still not quite as good as the original. But I liked how it wrapped everything up. They do not need another one.
  3. Deadpool – I am so NOT a superhero person, so this was the right kind of superhero movie for me. I loved how self-aware and irreverent it was. And it was hilarious. But also very violent (it gave me nightmares!)

Making:  Myself take a break. It’s hard for me to go from the warp speed of the last few months to backing down to normal. I’m trying to pretend every weekend like I’m on vacation to help quiet the constant thoughts that I should be doing something book-related or at least figuring out which book is next. I know it should be Mistress of Legend (Guinevere’s Tale: Book 3), but I have three other books pulling at me. My brain feels like a tangled ball of thread right now.

reading-listReading:  A lot! It’s nice to have time to finally read books I want to read. I bought a ton of them at the conferences I was at, so I’m trying to make it through the ones I’ve started in the last few months. (See list at the right.)

Oh and I just finished beta reading for my friend Lyra Selene. She is the most talented writer I know, y’all. I can’t wait for you to get to read her stuff. I’ve gotten to beta three books for her, all some form of fantasy, but very different, and they are three of the best books I’ve ever read. Her latest, Amber & Dusk, should be on the best-seller list!

Cooking:  After a month of eating on the go, it’s nice to be back to cooking again. I made a great mussel and pasta dish the other night and a lovely Caprese salad last night.

Playing:  With my cats. And my daily games of Free Cell and Solitaire on my Kindle. I need to incorporate more fun in my life!

Smelling:  Sunscreen when I lay out. Herbs in my cooking and water infusions. Lavender water spray for good vibes and peace.

Following: The presidential election (and I HATE politics). I have a vested interested in tracking Hillary’s progress because I’m writing about Victoria, and Trump scares me. No comment from me on who I personally favor…not a debate I care to get into. (Nor do I want to hear about your political views.)

Disliking:  Mean people on the internet. But that’s a given. The verdict in the Stanford rape case. People who are abusive to animals and others. People who are famous for no reason.

Needing: My brain to shut off for a while. See the “Making” section above. More time. And a patron would be nice.

Wanting:  Money, but don’t we all? 🙂 A vacation that actually lets me relax. I love the conferences I’ve been to, but they are go, go, go.

Pinning: I’m finally getting back to regular Pinterest time, which is good because for me, it’s very relaxing. According to Pinterest, I have 24,413 pins and 100 boards. No, I don’t have a problem, not at all…

Here are some of my most recent:

Pinterest-board

Admiring:  Victoria Woodhull and all the amazing women throughout history who have fought for our rights as women. Anyone who has the guts to join the military. The support of the writing community, both online and off.

Missing: A sense of balance and a clear path forward. It will come.

Giggling at: These two pictures:

crown

Those of you who know of or who have witnessed by obsession with crowns will get why that one is totally me.

I know I said no politics, but I have to share this. It made me snort. Twice.

trump

What about you? What’s your “State of the Blog Reader?” Anything you want to share?