Carina Press is looking for your story

Carina Press has made two big calls for submissions recently. Carina is the digital first imprint from Harlequin. They publish books in a wide variety of fiction genres including contemporary romance, steampunk, erotic romance, gay/lesbian fiction, mystery, science-fiction, and fantasy, among others.

In the past, Carina has required a completed manuscript and a detailed synopsis for submission. Recently, Carina announced their first-ever call for proposals. If your book meets a few important criteria, you could be in luck, but hurry! The deadline is July 13th and there are a few conditions:

That’s it, so what are you waiting for? Submit your proposal today!

New Anthologies from Carina in 2017

Carina has also announced a call for submissions for 5 anthologies to be released in 2017 both as anthologies and as novellas. The requested word count is 25,000 to 40,000  and genres:

  • A Jewel Thief, Capers and Heists Anthology
  • Alien Love: A Romance Anthology
  • Sexy Shifters: A Male/Male Romance Anthology.
  • Sexy Shifter A Het Romance Anthology
  • Too Taboo: A Forbidden Erotic Romance Anthology

Submission dates vary by anthology but start August 1st with Too Taboo and end October 4th with the Capers and Heists anthology. Decisions are offered approximately 3 weeks after submission.

Details can be found on the Carina Press website.

Good luck and make sure you let us know Carina accepts your work!

What are you working on this summer?

Big Magic and Get to Work

I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and while it is a book intended for “creative souls.” It really hits home for writers. She talks about creativity and harnessing the spirit needed to bring forth a creation.

big magicIn her book, Elizabeth tells the story of having a great idea with a South American plot for a book. This was an idea that had never been covered before (involves people from Minn., murder, and developers) and she “just felt” it would make for a good book. Problem was she kept putting it aside, things interfered and the story never got told.

One day she meets Ann Patchett and they embrace – soul sisters in writing. A few months later, they have lunch and Ann tells Elizabeth she is working on a new book about South America.

“Well isn’t that funny,: said Elizabeth, “I was working on an idea like that, but then let it go.”

Ann asked Elizabeth to describe her plot line and it turned out to be the *exact* same plot line that Ann was working on.

Co-incidence? Trends? Timing? Who knows? But you have to admit, it is a little woo, woo hair raising.

Elizabeth uses this as an example of Big Magic (as in there is a creative force that surrounds us.) She puts forth the intriguing idea that creative ideas can “visit” us and then choose to leave if we don’t nurture them.

I’ve seen this in my own writing. I’ll have a great idea for a story, not be able to devote the time to give to its “birth” and then I’ll see that someone somewhere else picked up the ball and ran with it. In a way, this philosophy of “visiting ideas” makes it easier – it falls into the “if you love something let it go, if it was yours…” It’s a way to make lemonade out of lemons – guess that idea was never really mine to keep.

But it’s also a cautionary tale. Great ideas need to be nurtured and they need work, lots of work. If you have a fantastic idea then you absolutely need to set the time aside to work on it so that it can grow and mature.

Because if you don’t it’s very likely that someone else will.

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

Breathing and Writing

Meditative breathing helps me regain my concentration.

Meditative breathing helps me regain my concentration.

I once heard Malachy McCourt begin a commencement address memorable for its brazen wisdom. “If you’ve got one foot in the future and one foot in the past,” he said, “it means you’re pissing on the present.”

I was reminded of this vivid image as I was lamenting the tasks still on my To Do (set up an interview, draft an article) while anticipating a visit from my nieces and their kids. Lamenting the past or lamenting the future wasn’t going to help me get this post up. Writing requires being present in the here and now.

Over the years, I’ve developed three fail-safe strategies to bring my mind to bear on the work on my desk regardless of what’s going on at home.

  1. The first method is journaling. Sometimes, I just narrate how I arrived at work – telling the stories of the hurdles I had to jump, which can be anything from scheduling an appointment for my 91-year-old dad to mopping cat barf off the kitchen floor. Other times, I list all the things I need to do at the end of my workday. Listing these tasks helps me see which are essential and which can be delayed if I run out of time. I always run out of time. Happily, there’s no expiration date on housework, which never goes away.

2. The second method is to go for a walk.  There’s something about the rhythm of walking that shakes loose my ideas and empties the noise in my head so I can hear the voice that will inform my prose. I’ve walked thousands of miles in pursuit of concentration. Walking has the added benefit of keeping me fit.

3. In the past year, I’ve been learning a third and highly effective method of calming myself into focus: meditation. I’d failed at meditation many times: I could barely sit still and I could never empty my mind. And then, in an outgrowth of my yoga practice, I’ve learned that I didn’t have to see a blank screen behind my eyelids; all I have to do is pay attention to my breath.

We breathe from the moment we’re born until the moment we die; it’s how we stay alive. Most of the time, we don’t pay any attention to our breath– until we notice we’re holding it, uncertain what to write next. That’s when we run low of oxygen, starving our brain and robbing our blood, paralyzing our lungs and forcing our pulse to gallop until we gasp.

But meditation – simply paying attention to inhaling, then exhaling – is naturally calming.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Meditative breathing brings me back to the present. In the absolute present, I don’t worry about what I’m going to make for dinner, even though there will be fifteen of us at the table tonight. Instead, I can think clearly and mindfully about the task at hand (crafting this post) and make the best use of the time I have at my desk.

Do you have a method for focusing your concentration?

Deborah Lee LuskinDeborah Lee Luskin is the author of the award-wining novel Into the Wilderness, a story of middle-aged lovers, set in Vermont in 1964. She blogs Wednesdays at www.deborahleeluskin.com

 

 

 

Writers and Their Creative Outlets

Let Your Creativity SoarAs writers, we’re creative. Our muses love words and help us get stories onto a page.

If your muse is like mine, it enjoys exploring other creative outlets. There’s something about doing a different type of creative activity that can enhance creative energy. Being creative in more than one area of our lives can enable us to use creative energy throughout our day.

I feel that my writing improves when I do something that requires the right side of my brain. Some creative ventures lead to new story ideas, others help with a work in progress.

I find it’s all about being in the moment of creating something that enables the muse to jump up and down with excitement and churn the creative pot.

Here are some other-than-writing creative outlets I have tried:

  • Pottery – I have to mention this first because it’s the one thing I can think back on and still laugh about. I was not at all graceful like Demi Moore’s character in “Ghost”. Not even close. No matter how much I focused or how much water I used, or how much I begged the clay to ‘work with me’, I had nothing to show after my 6-week class. The hand print in plaster from kindergarten remains my best work in that area!
  • Soduko puzzles – addicted to these for years and I love the challenge of them. I can be stumped on an Easy puzzle and breeze through a Challenging one at times. It’s all how the creative connections are made at any particular time.
  • Musical instruments – I used to play the piano and guitar. I’m grateful for the lessons, the years of playing, and the challenges that came along with matching notes on a page to activities the hands and fingers were doing with how it sounded. (My fave music to play was jazz and blues.)
  • Photography and drawing – B&W film photography and pencil drawing gave me a lot of time with my muse. As I focused on turning what I saw with my eyes into a picture on photo paper or drawing paper had me doing a lot of introspective thinking about writing — what I think I write isn’t always what ends up on the page.

What creative outlets do you enjoy to keep your creative energy moving and flowing?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Nurturing Your Writing Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links June 26

The house may need new shingles and paint, but at least we have some cheerful flowers to brighten the door.

The house may need new shingles and paint, but at least we have some cheerful flowers to brighten the door.

Last week, Deborah published Weeding and Words, a lovely  post in which she used weeding her garden as an apt analogy for editing her writing. Like Deborah, I have been spending some time tending to domesticated flora, and – though I am much less ambitious than she when it comes to gardening – I am very much enjoying the experience. This being my and my daughter’s first spring/summer in our new home, we are starting small – some hanging baskets for the front door, a tiny vegetable garden in the yard, and a modest planter of annuals on the back stoop.

This little, raised-bed garden was my daughter's idea, but it's kind of growing on me. (Pun intended!)

This little, raised-bed garden was my daughter’s idea, but it’s kind of growing on me. (Pun intended!)

It occurred to me as I was lugging the watering can from baskets to garden to planter, all the while ruminating on Deborah’s weeds and words post, that the gardening analogy applies as much to the writing life as it does to the writing itself.

If you want your writing life to thrive, you must tend and nurture your writing practice with care and intention. You cannot simply throw a few seeds in the proverbial dirt and hope for the best. You must create the right environment in which your writing can grow. You have to establish a regular practice of weeding and watering, and make sure your tiny seedlings get enough sunlight and warmth. You might even need to talk to them kindly to encourage them to grow.

Though they will only last the season, I can't resist buying a few beautiful annuals.

Though they will only last the season, I can’t resist buying a few beautiful annuals.

At the same time that you are working hard to cultivate your writing, you must – as Deborah said – do some weeding. In the case of the writing life, you must weed away any distractions and negative influences: your inner critic, fears, indecision, perfectionism, and anything else that threatens to strangle and choke your writing. Take a page from the weed’s playbook and practice focus and resilience. Beat the weeds at their own game.

Above all, have patience. You may have grand plans and ideas, but every garden takes time to grow. It takes time not only to find and place the right plants, but also for those plants to take root and begin to flourish and bear flower and fruit. Try to temper your expectations so you aren’t too hard on yourself. Remember that the mighty oak grows from a tiny acorn, but the journey from acorn to towering oak is a long one without any shortcuts.

_jamie sig


Books I’m Reading:

book harounReading time has been scarce this week because my client project workload has been keeping me extra busy. The only ways I’ve been able to fit in any reading at all are a) reading to my daughter at bedtime, and b) listening to an audio book while I drive and do chores.

The bedtime story I’m reading my daughter is the first in Salman Rushdie’s two-part series featuring the Khalifa family of storytellers and adventurers. My daughter and I just finished the second book –  Luka and the Fire of Life – and now we’re going back to read Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Both of these books have been re-reads for me, but I’m enjoying them at least as much as I did the first time around. (Truth is, I don’t really “know” a book until I’ve read it multiple times.)

In addition to Rushdie’s wonderful characters, whimsical writing, and mastery of language, I love these books because they are about the power of stories. They are about the way stories feed our souls and help us build and interpret the world around us. Though he may have written them with children in mind, there are many excellent lessons for readers of any age, all delivered with a satisfying serving of entertainment and delight.

··• )o( •··

My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:

CRAFT

PUBLISHING & MARKETING

INSPIRATION

THE WRITING LIFE

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin be soft

Here’s to growing where you’re planted, nourishing your writer’s life with care and intention, and always believing that the world is a beautiful place.

.
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Friday Fun – Which Summer Movie Are You Waiting for?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: ‘Tis officially summer, the season of sun, heat and BIG movies. What summer “BLOCKBUSTER” are you waiting for?

LL HeadshotLee Laughlin: We are a Disney family, and our dog Dory, got her name after jumping or ungracefully falling into a pool to play with the kids mere hours after we got her. She’s a collie. Collies don’t generally like the water, but she seemed ok so long as she got to play too. She took one other dip that summer, but now that she’s six, she’s not so interested in swimming.  My daughter is also a HUGE Ellen Degeneres fan, so our summer movie is Finding Dory. I am also looking forward to Ghostbusters with the all female team.  I was intrigued by Bad Moms, but when I found out that it was written and directed by men, I decided to pass. Hollywood needs to bridge the gender gap and that would have been the PERFECT vehicle to do it.

photo of Julianne HolmesJulie Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes: I am behind on movies, and need to see the new Captain America movie. Will confess that I love summer blockbusters, so I also looking forward to Ghostbusters, and the new Star Trek movie. All movies on hold until my book is in my editor’s hands. But looking forward to catching up!

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: There are five movies on my wanna-see list – three are already out, one is coming in late summer, and the last one isn’t actually a summer movie because it doesn’t release until November. The chances of me actually seeing these in the theater are slim to none, but I’m not giving up hope yet. There’s something about seeing stories on the big screen that brings just a little extra magic to the affair. Anyway, here – in no particular order – are the five most top-of-mind movies for me:

  1. Alice Through the Looking Glass – The second installment in Tim Burton’s interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s timeless (pun intended, given the theme of the movie) classic.
  2. The Lobster – “If you fail to fall in love with someone during your stay here, you’ll turn into an animal.” Surreal story concept featuring Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell.
  3. Swiss Army Man – I looked up this preview after seeing Daniel Radcliffe talk about his role on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon. “Bizarre” doesn’t begin to cover the premise of this movie about a dead man with magical powers who helps rescue a shipwrecked man; but if the trailer is any indication, the story also has a lot of charm, home, and humor.
  4. Pete’s Dragon – This updated version doesn’t seem to have much to do with the original Disney animated classic, but I’m still curious. My daughter will probably refuse to watch it because it looks like the dragon is (at least temporarily) in danger, but we’ll see, Maybe  I’ll be able to convince her that it has a happy ending. (Does it?)
  5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – I know it’s not a summer movie, but I couldn’t overlook this prequel to the Harry Potter stories. I hope it delivers.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson: I really want to see fun movies like The Secret Life of Pets, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Suicide Squad, as well as Independence Day,  X-Men Apocalypse, Star Trek Beyond, Legend of Tarzan, Jason Bourne, and any Marvel-related movies.

I saw The Lobster based on its description and because Colin Farrell was in it and, well, it’s the first movie that I’m still trying to figure out. Surreal is a good word for it.:)

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: You know, I’m not really one for movies (with the notable exception of any James Bond movie staring Daniel Craig.) Too often you end up paying an arm and a leg and then you are trapped for a few hours in a popcorn-smelling chair forcing yourself to stay because you paid for it, damn-it. 

I tend to watch movies at home on the television where I can pause  when I need to go to the bathroom or abandon them all together (well that was a clear waste of electricity.)  Movies I’ve recently watched that I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for include: The Martian, Mad Max, Neighbors 2, 10 Cloverfield.  Movies I’m glad I did watch include: Brideshead Revisited and A Walk in the Woods. (I tend to be behind everyone else.)

Movies seem to be very long these days and I find myself getting bored. To be honest with most movies, I’d rather read a book instead. Although I have to say that The Lobster intrigues me and if it shows locally I just might go out and  watch it.

 

How to Write an Excellent Book

 

Quick post today because some of the best advice is often short and sweet.

Last week I had the opportunity to see best selling author Joe Hill at our local Barnes & Noble. We were treated to a reading, a sing-along (complete with kazoos), and an open discussion/question session. It was truly a delightful and informative evening.

Note: if you ever have the opportunity to see a visiting author, please grab it with both hands, you won’t regret it.

During the discussion/question period a young girl in the back row raised her hand. “How is it that you can always write so excellently?” she asked.

Joe thought and then replied. “The answer to that question is that I don’t write excellently. My strategy is to write one good sentence and then follow that up with another good sentence and then another one. Pretty soon I have a whole pile of good sentences and that’s my book. I’ve never been perfect. I just write one sentence at a time.”

This is what you get to do when you write one good sentence after another

This is what you get to do when you write one good sentence after another

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.