Friday, August 15, 2014

The Writing Muscle

I'm having my first meeting with a personal trainer today. I used to do this years ago, and it helped me get into some awesome physical shape. Because so much of my day is spent on a chair in front of a big screen, and due to my age (for some reason the years don't stop flowing past), I need this now more than ever.

I plan to babysit grandkids tomorrow. If my new personal trainer doesn't kick my butt, I'm sure my grandkids will polish me off nicely.

So this reminded me of what we have to do to stay sticky, relevant and unstoppable as a writer. Certainly the excited fans who love our books helps. The community of other authors who enthusiastically travel along the same path, and the collection of shared associates to help us do what we do can spur us on and keep us motivated. But, ultimately, the writer has to do the basics every day. I'm going to outline some of them here today.

1. Develop a daily writing routine. I recently read Manage Your Day-To-Day, a collection of essays edited by Jocelyn Glei, which discusses setting up a routine each day based on your own body's most creative rhythms. I recently began leaving the mornings open to write first thing. I've stopped scheduling Dr. appts, critique groups or other meetings during that most productive time for me. I try to stay off the internet until so many words have been placed on the pages, or until so many pages of edits are completed. My mind just works better creatively in the morning. There are actual physical reasons why this just makes sense. Everyone is different.

2. Write even when I don't feel like it. Here is where the amateur is separated from professional writers. The professional trains every day. We used to say in the other coaching and training field I was in for nearly three decades Tiger Woods knows how to golf, yet he trains intensely every day. Only way that muscle is developed is to push it a little. Do it when it doesn't feel good. Most writers underestimate how important this is. The public thinks the writer gets "inspiration" and then writes. Most of us doing this with any kind of success know that the inspiration comes later, in the polishing or editing.

3. Slow and steady wins the race. Ever watch chickens lay eggs? They have a routine set up to support this activity and they rarely deviate from it for good production. In sales, a few routines things can propel an average seller into a mega seller. In writing, we are talking about turning out a volume of quality work. Some people write fast but have no quality. Some have high quality but no volume. No matter what end of the spectrum you fall, learning to stretch and develop slowly in the areas we need improvement works.

4. Occasionally push hard to blow out all the carbon. Like cleaning clogged drains, I find having deadlines is good. Sprinting, working hard and fast brings more intensity to my writing life. Sitting back and waiting for the muse to descend upon me is like waiting for a 3 year old to want to be potty trained. A good kind of stress is actually healthy. If it wasn't, we'd never enjoy sex, raising a family, maintaining long-term friendships or relationships. We'd never run marathons compete in contests, play games.

5. Occasionally do something stupid, or something new. I don't think it matters which we do, as long as we mess with our own routine now and then. Kind of like sprinting or pressing through a deadline, learning to be flexible and well rounded is a healthy trait to develop, and it doesn't happen on it's own. Practicing randomness, even foolishness, can be a good thing. I've got several things on my bucket list I want to accomplish that will probably not make any sense to anyone but myself, and have nothing to do with writing. But they are part of the person inside me who likes to break out of boxes, throw caution to the wind, and experience (healthy things mind you) just for the experience of it.

6. Ask for help. As has been recently written about in the news, if you are struggling, don't be so closed you can't ask for help. This is probably the hardest part for an independent, creative thinker to do. Stay plugged into your community. Get people to help you through the rough patches so you don't have to go there alone. Get advice from those you trust, always. Never think that you stop learning and know that needing others around you is actually a healthy thing. You don't have to trudge through the ice and sleet and pain, especially alone.

I'm sure you could add one or two things onto this list. I'd love to hear about them. Everyone who comments on today's post will receive the kindle version of Game For Love: SEAL's Goal, if they leave their coded email in the body of their response. Life is a game, afterall. We never really win or lose, we just run out of time.

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Steaming Into August

Autographed Books are Awesome!

I'm still working my way through the awesome pile of autographed books I brought back from the RT Booklovers Convention 2014. Today's hot pick is...drumroll...WRECKED by Shiloh Walker. I was hooked beyond the point of no return when I read heroine Abigale's revised life plan after her fiancé Roger dumps her:

1. Stop worrying so much about the future.
2. Call Roger and tell him off.
3. Flip off the next photographer you see.
4. Get a tattoo.
5. Have a torrid affair with a hot guy.

If you're not smiling, that's just wrong. If you've never had at least three out of five of these items on your own to-do list, that's even more wrong. There was just no way I could put the book down after reading that list. :-) Here's the back of the book blurb:

WRECKED by Shiloh Walker

"Friends make the best lovers and soul mates in WRECKED. A beautiful look into true and enduring love..." Carly Phillips, NYT Bestselling Author

In the nineties, Abigale Applegate and Zach Barnes were the most beloved sitcom child stars in the world. Then they grew up and left Hollywood behind...

Whatever happened to Abigale Applegate?

She's been wondering the same thing.

With her Hollywood dreams long gone, Abigale now has a nice, neat, uncomplicated life--until the day her perfect fiancĂ© needs to talk. Dumped, a little more than shattered, and totally confused, Abigale turns to Zach, her best friend since forever, to help her pick up the pieces. He does it with a gift--a copy of Wreck This Journal. She can vent her frustrations, and sketch out a new plan. Zach just hopes he's part of it. Because he's been in love with Abigale his entire life.

When the journal falls into Zach's hands, he discovers Abigale wants a new man. And fast. Nothing more than a hot distraction. Zach has a strategy, too. He's going to be that man. It's his last chance. Abigale might be out to shake up her life, but Zach's out to reinvent it. Now, all he has to do is convince Abigale that life can go as planned.
Available now on Amazon!

What I'm Writing

I'm also excited to announce that I just returned the galleys edits to my publisher for TRAIL OF CROSSES, book two in the Lost Colony Series.
TRAIL OF CROSSES is a smokin' hot historical romance based on the Lost Colonists of Roanoke Island. Scheduled to release September 9, this book is all about our knife-toting Jane the huntress who is sick to death of the London social whirl and its colorful array of dandies. Don't even get her started on the deplorable fashion of wearing cod pieces.  
Jane is hell bent on changing her stars as a working class spinster to something better in the New World. If only the Roanoke Chief Wanchese -- fierce warrior and sometimes renegade -- wouldn't keep interfering with her plans. On top of everything else, why does the blasted man have to be the most gorgeous creature she's ever laid eyes on?
Bewitching Book Tours is hosting the launch festivities and blog tour. Stay tuned for details! In the meantime, you may stalk, follow, befriend, like, or otherwise engage me at:

Twitter: @jografford
YouTube Book Trailer:
Highlighted Author: Author Page:

Happy August, y'all!!
Jo Grafford

Friday, August 1, 2014

Bella Andre's Game For Love and The Beautiful Game: SEAL's Goal

I was totally honored to be asked by Bella Andre to write for her Game For Love world in the new Kindle World platform, something that has just been launched in July. All of the stories in this world will revolve around sports stars, either former or existing. Since I've had such success with my SEALs series over the past couple of years, I decided to write a series about a professional soccer player who decides to become a Navy SEAL. I intend for this to spread out over 3 novellas. This first one was just launched yesterday, and already has become a Hot New Bestseller, and soared to #3 in Romance.

Here's the blurb:   

Professional Goalkeeper Patrick Harrington comes home to the U.S. from England to attend the funeral of his best friend, Navy SEAL Ryan Rosen. Ryan's fiancee is the girl who got away, the one he's been in love with ever since he set eyes on her in first grade.

Stephanie Carter's world turns on it's axis when Ryan is removed from her life, but not from her heart. Ryan's best friend, Patrick, becomes her path to healing the Trident-shaped hole left behind.

Compassion leads to passion as they find the possibility of a life together neither one planned, or ever dreamed could exist. Will Patrick's decision to join the Teams destroy their love and will her heart be able to handle a second loss?

I really liked exploring these two, both of them grieving over the loss of their best friend. Since the three of them had known each other from the first grade on, I got to write some scenes full of Middle School angst, that I just loved. The term "Veeger" comes into play, and I'll let you read the story to find it. 

I'll try to give every commenter a free download. Leave your coded email in your comment, if you want to try the download. Enjoy this little excerpt:

She was aware that Patrick sat motionless but was watching every strand of hair fall forward, every pucker and ripple of her blouse, every tear that coursed down her cheek. She tried not to notice the electric tension in the front seat, or the way she started to feel his heat as he leaned forward, raised her chin with his thumb and forefinger, and, before kissing her, said, in the sweetest apology she’d ever heard, “I’m sorry.”
His kiss was even more intoxicating than the last one. He wasn’t going to linger, so as he pulled away, she leaned into him and kept their mouths close. “It’s not your fault,” she whispered back while she studied those eyes the color of a summer the sky.
She felt a tightening in her belly, and her clothes felt restrictive. It was heavenly to close her stinging eyes, which intensified the ache in her lower abdomen. Patrick kissed her eyelids, one by one, and then repeated it, as if applying some healing agent.
She didn’t expect to hear his breath in her ear, or to hear as his tongue wetted his lips, the nibbling sounds of little kisses under her ear, behind it, and then down her neck. She had never touched or even been this close to his forehead, or inhaled his musky man scent and allowed it to wash over her.
She became putty in his hands, and the slow unwrapping of her soul when his fingers found her breasts and squeezed made her feel tethered to him. He was her shelter in the storm, the safe island in the middle of a raging emotional sea, and for right now she’d take it, this one little taste of passion. The glow in her chest reminded her of the promise of another sunny day, regardless of the tragedy of the day before.

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.

Sharon’s NYT and USA Today bestselling novels are almost-erotic Navy SEAL stories of the SEAL Brotherhood. Her characters follow a spicy road to redemption through passion and true love. This series continues with books 7, SEAL Of My Heart, releasing in July 2014, and book 8 scheduled in the fall of 2014. All of her SEAL Brotherhood Series are available in audio book. She has maintained an Amazon top 100 author status in Romantic Suspense for since the end of 2012.

Sharon lives in Sonoma County, California, with her husband and two Dobermans. A lifelong organic gardener, when she’s not writing, she’s getting verra verra dirty in the mud, or wandering Farmer’s Markets looking for new Heirloom varieties of vegetables and flowers.