Saturday, October 23, 2021

Freedom from and Freedom to by Lucy Monroe

 Freedom.

When Judith offered a chance to guest blog with Romancing The Genres and told me the theme for October was Freedom, I could not say no.  Why?  Because I've spent a long time building freedom from… and freedom to… into my life.

Freedom from debilitating deadlines.  Freedom to write the stories that burn in my heart to be written.  The worst part about realizing those freedoms were gone was that I had done it to myself.  I had signed too many contracts for too many books.  I had agreed to revisions that gutted my spirit as deeply as they gutted my stories.  No one forced me into those situations.  No one.  I don't blame publishers, editors or my agent.  Why would I?

I am a grown ass woman and I made my own choices, but when I realized those choices weren't working, it was also up to me to fix that.

Fixing it came at a high cost as any kind of true freedom so often does.  However, I now turn books in early because I can.  I write stories that matter to me and when someone thinks they should be gutted, I pull the book if I don't agree.

It's an amazing feeling to know I'm on the path I'm meant to be on, but also that my journey down that path is set by me.  I appreciate every one of the publishers I have worked with and continue to work with.  I am grateful for all I have learned from my editors and agents along the way.

But all of that has led to a new sense of freedom for me, not just a feeling, but a hard fought for reality.  Again, not without cost.  Pulling a book is no easy thing.  Trusting the process when sometimes it leads to what feels like failure?  Not easy.  But worth it.  Because the alternative is stifling the very creativity that has brought me this far.

My hero in my current release has a newfound freedom and what he decides to do with it is pretty darn great, if I do say so.  Duty and an old promise forced him to let go of the only woman who ever mattered.  He's no longer under contract to marry another royal, but can he convince Emma that freedom means they're meant to be together?

HIS MAJESTY’S HIDDEN HEIR

Harlequin Presents

ISBN-13 : 9781335568106

ISBN-10 : 1335568107

The prince is in for a shocking revelation in this secret baby romance by USA TODAY bestselling author Lucy Monroe!

The mother of his child…

…and wearing his crown?

Prince Konstantin can’t forget Emma Carmichael, who vanished after a wedding contract forced him to end their relationship. A surprise meeting five years later shocks Konstantin—Emma has a son. Unmistakably his son.

Emma wants Konstantin in their son’s life—yet she’s wary. She’d had no choice but to walk away; his family hadn’t deemed her worthy of being his princess. But as their reunion stokes the flames of their passion, can she trust that this time their bond is strong enough to prove them all wrong?


About the Author: With more than 8 million copies of her books in print worldwide, award winning and USA Today bestseller Lucy Monroe has published over 75 books and had her stories translated for sale all over the world. 

While she writes multiple subgenres of romance, all of her books are sexy, deeply emotional and adhere to the concept that love will conquer all. 

A passionate devotee of romance, she adores sharing her love for the genre with her readers.

Learn more at https://www.lucymonroe.com/

Thursday, October 21, 2021

What FREEDOM means to me...by Peggy Jaeger

 This month's topic is FREEDOM, a word by its very definition that can be a lightning rod for heated debate. Because of this, I chose to write about what freedom -- in my eyes-- means to me - and should mean to all of us.

1. The right to make my own decisions about my body, my finances, and my political party. 

I was born in the century where women first were granted the right to vote, given access to medical and safe birth control, and allowed to possess credits cards. That last one may sound weird, but up until 1974, married women were not allowed to possess credit cards since they were still considered by major companies as property of their husbands, and thereby fell under their husbands' reign. The EQUAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITY ACT of 1974 granted married women the right to obtain credit cards separately from their husbands. This, in turn, granted them reign over their own finances.

2. The right to read what I want, watch what I want on television and in the movie theatre, and listen to the kind of music I want.

I also grew up in an era that saw many states ban certain books from schools and libraries because they were considered salacious and potentially damaging to school-age children ( and some adults!) The list of the most banned books of the 20th century can be found here: banned books. I am proud to say I have read every single one of them.

In 1968, a voluntary movie rating system was instituted to help parents decide if a movie was appropriate for their children to see. I was 8 at the time.  

In 1975, the television academy began programming shows geared toward families, called the Family hour. This one hour of programming each night was meant for television shows to refrain from violence, foul language, and sexual content. I was 15 at the time. 

In 1985 warning labels began appearing on records ( the vinyl kind!) indicating that the lyrics or subject matter of the songs within the album may not be appropriate for children.  I was 25 at the time.

I am 61 years old now and thankfully, none of those restrictions apply to me any longer. I have grown into an age where I can read, watch, and listen to whatever I want without any governmental or parental interference. I am free to explore the artistic side of nature without restrictions. 

3. The right to think the way I want to think and to say what's on my mind without threat of punishment.

Again, until recently, women were expected to think and vote the same way their husbands did. In the past, if a woman's opinion differed from her husband's - or society in general - her husband could have her  arrested, prosecuted, and jailed. 

The advent of the Women's Movement of the 1960s proved women had thinking, functioning, logical minds and could make their own decisions without the need for a man to oversee or man-splain issues to them. Women began speaking out on topics historically only vetted by men. Our voices grew louder and stronger and today there are more women representing others in government than at any other time. While shouting FIRE in a crowded space is still illegal ( and should be) we are now afforded the right to speak our minds, protest peacefully, and engage in verbal discourse without the threat of being incarcerated for having an opinion.

4. The freedom to be who I am and live the life I want to without censure, threat of violence, or death.

If we've learned anything since this country was founded, it's that all people ARE NOT created equally in the eyes of society. The disenfranchised among us continues to grow daily; children are mistreated and abused; the elderly are warehoused; people of color are killed in the streets for no other reason than they are not caucasian. The indigenous people of this country are treated as non-entities. Veterans are forgotten.

To be a truly free nation, none of the above would occur. 

Freedom, through my eyes and in my mind, means we are all truly EQUAL in society, government, and everyday life. No matter what color our skin is, what our religious beliefs are, where we fall in the voting spectrum, and how much money we have.

Our government sends our military all over the world to fight for the rights of people to experience freedom.

Wouldnt it be wonderful if that fight began here, on our home soil, and with our own citizens, first?

Peggy Jaeger writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can't live without them.

Visit her at peggyjaeger.com



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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Freedom Takes On A New Meaning

 Here in Melbourne, we are currently the most locked-down city in the world - but that ends on Friday and Melbournians will be re-experiencing 'freedom' - and I can't wait to get back to things that we always took for granted. 

While I have taken full advantage of the time spent at home over the last few months to put all my time and energy in writing and all the 'business' that goes with it, I'm hanging out to :

Go out to dinner! There have been various 'celebrations' that are deserving of a yummy meal cooked by someone else, and with no dishes to wash. We have a street in Melbourne, Lygon Street, that is wall to wall Italian eateries and I'm hanging out for some delicious gnocchi with some Pinot Grigio or a nice Rose followed by a sweet, cold gelato. 

While we're there, maybe take in a movie at the independent cinema that is in Lygon Street as well. I'm not a fan of the big Hollywood movies and usually prefer the more obscure (often foreign) movies. We're probably all Netflixed-out after so much time at home, but I still love a good movie on a big screen. I have no idea what movies are out at the moment, but it'll be lovely to sit in comfort with a 'choc top' ice cream and some popcorn.

And back to a 'real' ballet class. This romance author has been a ballet student most of her life (and qualified as a ballet teacher quite a while back) and recently went back to adult ballet classes only to have them become Zoom classes. While this was convenient and a bit of a novelty, hanging on to the kitchen bench instead of a proper barre has its drawbacks. So now we'll hopefully be getting back to the studio.

Also, the Romance Writers of Australia conference was rescheduled from August to December and I'm soooo looking forward to that! Getting together with so many like-minded people is always inspirational and motivational - and just a good excuse to get away and stay in a nice hotel and have fun with writing friends. Last year's conference didn't happen at all, so it's extra special this year (and its the association's 30th anniversary).

And of course the biggest freedom we'll get back is being able to visit friends and family again! While my children don't live in my city anyway (so seeing them regularly isn't a part of my 'normal' life anyway), just being able to make a date for a coffee, or lunch or dinner or just and chill out with my bestie to talk writing and binge something on Netflix will be so fabulous. It's friends and family who have got us through this time and just to be able to hug them again and have face-to-face conversations is going to be fantastic. 

With all these new 'distractions', I'm going to need a double dose of perseverance to keep this butt glued to the seat so my writing and writing-related activities don't suffer - but I might allow myself a full day of just going 'out and about' to get it out of my system!

So, five sleeps to go and you'll probably hear the cheering in Melbourne from wherever you are!


 

Check out Andra's latest release (A Firm Hand) and all her books on her Author Page. 


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Freedom of Mind ... by Delsora Lowe

Anything artistic takes a creative mind—obviously. But, creativity-inspired work takes so much more. It takes years of studying and honing a skill, whether it is writing, painting, weaving, pottery, cooking, or…

Sauteeing farmers' market swiss chard

Having said that, artistry also takes concentration. And to concentrate, the mind must be free to explore.

These last few years have been daunting, in that the problems of the world seem to overtake the creative part of the brain and shut it down. At least it has for me. Freeing my mind to create has been tough.

In order to attain freedom of mind, I’ve had to shut off the things that cause me anxiety. And those stressors can vary from day-to-day. Whether it is the news or dealing with family issues or catching up on the never-ending barrage of email or keeping up with social media, even if it is fun—all those things can put one in overload mode.

Add in your creativity priorities and deadlines, and the stress can become overwhelming. Finding other creative outlets that don’t have timelines or expectations, is a good way to jumpstart the creative parts that have shutdown. For me, it was the simple idea of grabbing a few sheets of computer paper and my ten different-colored sharpies and scribbling out a drawing of flowers in a vase. I am not an artist, even though everyone else in my family is. But I had fun creating what I call Kindergarten / Picasso-Inspired-Abstract. And even though it was the only creative thing I could think to do in my marathon, TV-induced haze of procrastination, IT WORKED!

Find something to distract you that will jump-start your creative mind. Cooking, which for me starts with a random set of ingredients to create a new recipe, has always been a relaxing and creative endeavor. But push yourself out of your comfort zone, whether it is buying an adult coloring book and a set of bright-colored pencils, picking up knitting needles after thirty years of not knitting, pot gardening on your deck, trying a ZOOM belly-dancing class (yes, I did that and what fun!,) trying something new and creative is a great way to free up, and jump start those stagnant brain cells.



So, my advice, as all of us try to get back into a more “normal” life pattern, whether it is resurrecting our creative mode, or jumping back into in-person work or meetings or social events, is to pinpoint potential stressors, and limit yourself. And not only do this for the things we must check off our lists. Do so as you ease back into the joys of life and discover a new, fun distraction.

And most of all, define your own freedom. I’m usually an outgoing, social being, but this last year of isolation has diminished that part of me. So, I’m easing back into interacting in-person, in order to save my brain from the overload shock of dealing with real people.

Having said that, there is nothing more that energizes me then running into a friend in the grocery store parking lot and just getting to yack, yack, yack for a few minutes. Or talking to a farmer at the farmers market about their wonderful offerings and getting ideas for recipes. Or hollering “over the fence” to a neighbor to find out how their chickens are doing or their garden grows or their kids or dog is faring.

Enjoy your new creative outlets. Have fun setting your new boundaries. Recognize your limitations that may have changed. And take back your freedom in whatever way works for you.

What tricks do you use to free up your brain?

The Love Left Behind

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Left-Behind-Hartford-Estate-ebook/dp/B08L5N5DS9/

Books2Read   books2read.com/u/mglVqK

~ cottages to cabins ~ keep the home fires burning ~

Delsora Lowe writes small town sweet and spicy romances and contemporary westerns from the mountains of Colorado to the shores of Maine.

Author of the Starlight Grille series, Serenity Harbor Maine novellas, and the Cowboys of Mineral Springs series, Lowe has also authored short romances for Woman’s World magazine. Her new novella, The Love Left Behind, will release in late fall, 2020.

Social Media Links:
Author website: www.delsoralowe.com
Facebook Author page:
https://www.facebook.com/delsoraloweauthor/community/
Amazon Author page:
https://www.amazon.com/Delsora-Lowe/e/B01M61OM39/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Books2Read Author page:
https://www.books2read.com/ap/8GWm98/Delsora-Lowe
BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/delsora-lowe-93c6987f-129d-483d-9f5a-abe603876518
Goodreads Author Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16045986.Delsora_Lowe
Instagram: #delsoralowe / https://www.instagram.com/delsoralowe/

Photo Credits:
Exploding Brain -
free clip art brain exploding - Google Search
Belly Dance- Free Belly Dance Silhouette, Download Free Belly Dance Silhouette png images, Free ClipArts on Clipart Library (clipart-library.com)
Crowd:
free clip art crowds of people - Google Search

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A Gift of Freedom By M.L. "Matt" Buchman

In preparing this post, I had assumed, as I write military romantic suspense and political conspiracy thrillers, that I’d be writing about the defense of freedom and those who choose to do  so in their daily lives. 

But I didn’t because that lead me to the idea of the country I was lucky enough to be born into and our incredible freedoms here in the United States (and the horrifying threats that have arisen of late striving to squelch those freedoms). That being a dangerous subject in this day and age (as we’ve all learned by the friends we’ve lost to the current divisiveness), I thought perhaps not.

I therefore, and not surprisingly, turned my thoughts to publishing. There I considered writing about the reversion of rights from traditional publishing back to the author and what that could imply about freedom. My mind went there with reason.

I recently managed to recover the rights to my thirteen trad press novels all at once. (That’s roughly 1.2M words!) These novels represent the front end of the 42-novel and 70-short story Night Stalkers / Emily Beale Universe. I’m now free to fix the myriad early writing habits, the gross traditional editing failures, as well as the covers that have always made me cringe. I also gained the freedom to rebrand and control the marketing of these books. A huge and overwhelming task, but also a lifegiving freedom. (The relaunch will begin next month in November.)

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First-ever peek at the new covers

But the definition that intrigued me most as I prepared to create this post was referenced to the King James Version of the Bible: Exemption from fate.

The very first card my wife ever gave me was back when we were courting illustrates this point. It is a Quint Buchholz painting of a man laying down his own tightrope as he walks it into the unknown sky. Head up, looking forward. “Completely emblematic of who you are,” she said, or words to that effect.

I’m one of those people who sees “the box” and despises it thoroughly. In corporation after corporation, during my thirty-odd years as a crisis project manager, I confronted “the boxes” that firms had built. “We’re structured like this, so we have to do things this way.”

My job was to ask Why? “If you were to think of your business this way, you could leverage your skills in a whole new way.” I was an efficiency and effectiveness expert, and (when I was lucky) I brought along innovation as well.

Traditional publishing is in severe crisis and collapse because they failed to change with the times. The Big Ten became the Seven, the Six, the Five, and lately the Four (chose to count them as you will), headed for the big black hole of non-existence just as they’re already collapsing through non-relevance. 

They forgot how to innovate (if they ever knew), then they lost how to be effective, then finally anything other than inefficient. Their inflexibility is often blamed on their size. Yet I worked with a Fortune 100 company on the road to bankruptcy that restructured itself in three years into a high-profitability venture, once again climbing the charts. (I had only a very minor role in restructuring their IT department over six months, but it was impressive to watch.)

Less impressive to watch is that I see indie publishing falling into the same patterns lately, “Well, I have to do it this way because that’s the only thing that works.”

I am no brilliant success. I’m a strong mid-list author. I make a better living that I ever did in corporate, but neither am I a millionaire. Yet I’m told, sometimes daily but usually more often, that there’s a formula, a prescribed path that will etch out a silver-lined or gold-patinaed future. 

There used to be a hundred of this different “perfect” paths but lately I’ve seen a convergence toward a prescribed methodology. Whole conferences have practically become cults paying homage to one path or another. I see people walking the narrow paths of others because “That’s the real way publishing works.”

From my seat, what worked was celebrating my freedom from that “fated” path. I explore that which fascinates me. I’ve built a career of looking for what’s outside the norm yet utterly intriguing.

For example: Against all advice, except my wife’s, my current thriller series stars a high-functioning autistic heroine. Miranda Chase is the premier air-crash investigator. The aircraft crashes (which she totally understands and investigates) constantly trap her in political conspiracies she can’t begin to understand. But she must solve them to survive, which she does by being her brilliant self. 

https://miranda-chase.com


Had I listened to the fates, I would still be writing military romantic suspense for traditional publishing—long past the time any joy might have leached away. Now, when I do go back to my MRS, I have a great time with it. I’m alternating series between the two. I do a quartet of thrillers, then a trilogy of military romantic suspense, then back to thrillers. 

BTW, traditional would never let me have done this at all. And indies now often shout that I’m ruining my: Also Boughts, my marketing, my career, and everything else on the planet. The only ones not complaining are my wife and my fans. Gee, who should I be listening to?

Indie publishing is not about the “box”, or chasing the market from one genre to the next, or how many Facebook ads you can afford. That is what the Fated would have us believe. Instead, I’d suggest looking up, looking around, and discovering the incredible freedom that allows each of us to celebrate what we will. Begin by asking about what path you want to build across the sky.


USA Today and Amazon #1 Bestseller M. L. "Matt" Buchman has 70+ action-adventure thriller and military romance novels, 100 short stories, and lotsa audiobooks. PW says: “Tom Clancy fans open to a strong female lead will clamor for more.” Booklist declared: “3X Top 10 of the Year.” A project manager with a geophysics degree, he’s designed and built houses, flown and jumped out of planes, solo-sailed a 50’ sailboat, and bicycled solo around the world…and he quilts. More at: www.mlbuchman.com.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Freedom To Choose

 

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of sci-fi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. One of the things I have loved most about being an indie author is the freedom to choose what I write, when I publish, working with an editor and cover designer who I love and adore (and who has a real talent for turning my random asks on covers into something truly gorgeous and sometimes something totally unexpected yet perfect), and not having to write to trends. Of course, that has its downside. I'm certainly not a best seller! 

But I don't think I could write any other way. And it's led to me writing all kinds of things I never imagined I would write, like a zombie romance and a paranormal holiday romance. And I fought writing that zombie story for weeks!  

In the end, you have to do what makes you happy. Or at least whatever will make the characters shouting in your head shut up! 😆

And so in honour of the season, her are the two stories I mentioned, both perfect for Halloween.


Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising...from the grave...

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems...

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

A YA zombie story, previously published by Lycaon Press, 20th August 2014. Warning - contains bad language and moderate gore.

When love comes home...

Twelve months ago, Hal's world crashed and burned, taking the love of his life with it. He's waited all year for that one special night when the souls of the departed come home, hoping his candle will summon back one in particular to heal his broken heart. But the forbidden knowledge he's learned could call something far worse, and put more than his own soul at risk...

A Paranormal Romance short story.

Book links.