Books · Life · My Books · Writing

Happy Birthday Elvis Book Giveaway!


A lot of you know that I love Elvis. I have since I was a little girl and my grandma used to play his records on her record player. I’d sit in the floor next to the speakers and be lulled to sleep by his smooth voice.

When I decided to write a book series set in Memphis, I HAD to tie Elvis in somehow:


In All Shook Up, the main character works at Graceland. The characters even run in the Elvis Week 5K that I run each year!

In Can’t Help Falling in Love, one of the characters has some interesting Elvis memorabilia.

Such fun to put a little Elvis into those books!

And since today would’ve been his birthday, I’ll celebrate by giving away a set of books to one lucky winner!

To enter, just leave a comment telling me your favorite Elvis song/movie/story and be sure to leave your email address. I’ll choose a winner on FRIDAY, JANUARY 11.

Holidays · Life · Writing

Be Present


I struggle each new year to do a proper amount of reflection versus a proper amount of looking forward. And once again, I’ve come up with a “word” for the year. Actually “words” is more appropriate:

BE PRESENT

Maybe I should call it my new mantra or something, I don’t know. But whatever I call it, I know it is how I want to live the next 12 months.

I’ve spent a LOT of time over the past few years not being fully present in my life. I’ve spent an awful lot of time thinking ahead to the next item on my “to do” list or being sidetracked by an email or text message when what I should be doing is focusing on the PERSON in front of me. That MUST change.

Looking back over 2012, I have to say it’s been a pretty good year.

Highlights:

1. Six book releases this calendar year. It’s been a real roller coaster. That I don’t plan to repeat. 🙂 Seriously, I’ve been thrilled with each release, but there has been a price. I’m not going to lie…I burned out. I cried and moaned and complained and swore that I couldn’t do it. In the end I did. I learned that sometimes being a “real” writer means sitting at the desk until it is done. Even when it hurts. Even when your eyes go bad and you have to get glasses (which I did). Even when you have to say “no” to a lot of fun stuff. So I learned a lesson. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Note to self: set limits. Life is really not a race.

2. Wonderful times with friends and family. There have been concerts (Willie Nelson, Celtic Woman, Carrie Underwood, The Civil Wars, Huey Lewis and the News) and get togethers. There has been a lot of laughter and a lot of stories shared and a lot of yummy food consumed. I am blessed beyond belief by the wonderful people in my life.

3. I ran 4 races this year and although I’m slow, I’m developing a real love for running. Wonders never cease!

4. I’m back in a marketing role at my job. Pausing here to say that loving your job makes your whole life better…

Goals for 2013 (besides BE PRESENT):

1. Continue to run. I say it every year…but I’m so hoping to do a half marathon. We’ll see if this is my “lucky” year.

2. Learn to relax. I take things WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. At least I know it though, right?

3. Travel. 2012 is the first year in a long time that I didn’t travel much. (quick trip to Dallas, but that’s about it) I am hoping 2013 will be full of new places and adventures.

4. Organize my house. (side note: I am a clutter bug and paper seems to multiply around me)Is it terribly wrong that sometimes I pray that God will let me end up marrying some fabulously organized man who will love to keep me organized and yet still be able to put up with the inevitable clutter I will collect? A girl can dream…

5. Read for pleasure. I miss reading. I just don’t get to do it as often as I used to. My shelves are FULL of wonderful looking books just waiting for me to open them.

6. Write something new. And by “new” I mean in a different genre. Not that I’m leaving romance behind…just that I’d love to try something else. I have many, many stories in my head just waiting to come out…and SOON.

So there you have it. My “welcome 2013” post. New years are always a bit daunting to me. Full of wonder. Filled to the brim with the unknown. I have a love/hate relationship with that. Because I know there will be some wonderfully amazing things that will happen this year. And there will also be some horrible, heart wrenching things. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes. There will be a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

And I suppose that is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

Happy New Year, friends. May 2013 be your best year yet!

Books · Life · Summer · Vacations · Work · Writing

On a Break



Arnie has no problem relaxing…even on my laptop!

I’m a huge FRIENDS fan. I own the whole series and still watch even though I can pretty much say the dialogue along with the characters. Remember when Ross and Rachel were “on a break” and that became something of a catch phrase?

Well that’s kind of where I am right now.

On a break.

Me and writing. We are on a break.

See, I’ve taken on too much over the past few years. This year alone, I have 6 published works releasing.

That means I’ve been on a constant deadline for a very long time. And that was a real blessing–I’m fully aware of that. I’ve been so blessed to get the opportunity to write those books. I love each of them dearly and can’t wait for readers to read them. I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it, except for those long sleepless nights toward the end of each deadline when I fear that I’ve lost the ability to write.

But a few months ago, I took a hard look at my life–and I didn’t like what I saw. My super wise grandmother told me that she feared I was WRITING about life instead of LIVING it.

Yikes.

And the truth is, she was right.

Somewhere along the way, between working full time for NFT and writing on a constant deadline, I’d become a shell of a person. I regularly missed family dinners and get togethers and reunions with my friends. I rarely went anywhere. My excuse? “I have to work. Sorry. Maybe next time.”

Even worse, I realized that when I did get together with my family and friends, I WASN’T PRESENT. Not really. My body was there, but my mind was with my manuscript. The tension that I carried with me, knowing I was running behind (as I always was) on a deadline prevented me from really enjoying those moments.

There was always a little piece of me that thought if I wasn’t at work, then I should be writing. Or editing. Or working on galleys.

And that piece kept me from being fully present in my own life.

From fully being able to have a good time and live in the moment.

How awful!

So I’m on a break. Sure, I have galleys for two more books that will be due soon, but other than that, I’m taking some time off. Time to live. Time to enjoy life. Time to unpack my house that still has boxes in every room because I haven’t had time to unpack even though I moved months ago.

So for a couple of months, I’m on a break. A friend told me recently that I needed to learn to relax. You know what? That is exactly right. I don’t relax very well because I always have this idea that there is something else I should be doing.

So I’m going to  take time to smell the roses. I’m going to sit in my backyard and read books. I’m going to watch movies. I’m going to paint my kitchen. I’m taking a tap and ballet class for fun. I’m going to cook new recipes. I’m going to spend more time with my family and see my friends as much as possible. I’m going to stop taking myself so seriously and laugh a little bit more.

And when I come back to my laptop, things are going to change. I’m not going to let myself get overloaded again. I’m going to be more selective when it comes to saying ‘yes’ to projects. Even better, I’m certain my little self-imposed sabbatical will make my future books better.

I think I’ll come back inspired and eager to get back to work. I already have some book ideas brewing in my head that I’m sure will need to come out soon.

But for now…

I’m on a break.

Books · Life · Writing

The Gift of Time…and a Leap Year Giveaway

If you could give me ONE THING that would be the most helpful to me, it would be the gift of time. I think that’s probably why I think Leap Year is so neat. An extra day in February and thus an extra day of 2012 is exactly what this writer-on-a-deadline needs to stay sane. (I could really use an extra week, but I’ll take what I can get.)
I was born in a Leap Year–so maybe that’s why I like them so much. 🙂

I look back on 2012 and it is already zooming past. Between a full time day job, three book deadlines, and a home renovation, I feel as if I’ve barely slept.

Time is certainly marching on.

So I’m totally reveling in February 29th. An extra day. The gift of time. Granted, I’ll be working. But if I could, I’d spend the day drinking coffee and reading a good book. Maybe on a balcony somewhere that overlooks the ocean. I can practically hear the water lapping against the shore now. Then I’d meet up with some friends and linger over a delicious dinner at a nice restaurant where we’d laugh and talk and forget about schedules and deadlines and how busy we all are. Then I’d turn in early and be lulled to sleep by the waves. Perfect. Day.

If only.

How about you? If you could do anything at all with your “extra day” this year, what would it be? No limits. One day to spend how you’d like.

Put your answer in the comments (along with your email address) before midnight on Sunday, March 5 to enter to win a copy of my new book, A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina.