GIVEAWAY & GUEST POST: Author Lucie Ulrich

Just Do It!

by Lucie Ulrich

Okay, so I totally stole that line from Nike, but it fits my life. I never set out to be a writer. I wasn’t born with a passion for books, so writing one never entered my mind—until I hit my forties. Before that, I had other goals in mind.

Goal 1: Work for an airline (like my father) and see the world. Thought I started at a security checkpoint (pre-TSA), I eventually was hired by Continental Airlines. I didn’t see all of the world, but I saw enough to feel accomplished and satisfied. Goal met.

Goal 2: Be the best stay-at-home mom I could be. Staying at home was something my husband and I agreed to long before we had children. It came with ups and downs and a good number of struggles, but we made it work. This is not a statement against working mothers by any stretch. It was the right (and best) decision for me. Goal met.

Goal 3: Home school my children. Now, this plan came out of nowhere. You have to understand that back in the mid 80’s, home schooling was a new concept, and one that was not always well-received. I had no plans to go that route. My husband and I had visited a private school which we felt would work for our daughter. My neighbor decided to homeschool her kids, which I thought was crazy. Guess that’s what I got for thinking. Lol! Honestly, I got into the shower one day with the potential school on my mind and came out knowing I needed to give home schooling a try.

My poor daughter was my guinea pig. In the end, she went from a home school setting, to a public school, to a private school, back to home school, and finished her final two years at a private school. My son was home schooled from kindergarten through the eighth grade. I knew enough to know I wasn’t prepared, or willing to teach his high school years. I did prepare both kids to the best of my ability, and had a great time doing it. Goal met.

Goal 4: Write a novel and have it published. This one came about slowly. As a member of my church’s drama team, I was happy acting in skits and plays. A few years in, the writing bug bit. Long story short, I took over as writer and director, which brought me to a similar positing at the private school my son attended—all the while, novels were being birthed in me. From the time I penned my first (not-so-great) book until the time I had one published, eleven years passed. My plan was to be published by the time I was 50. Yeah, didn’t happen until I was fifty-eight, but it DID happen. Goal met.

All of my goals came with ups, downs, frustrations, joy, laughter, tears, and lots of hard work—but they did come. I’d love to hear about your goals—the ones reached and those still in the working or even dreaming stage. Two dreamers will be chosen to receive an e-copy of any of my books—winner’s choice.

Interview

Thank you, Lucie for that great post. I absolutely believe in setting goals – goals in life, goals for the year, for the week…you name it. I feel more accomplished when I have goals.

Now, lets talk about your new release! Congrats, by the way 🙂 First, can you tell us a little about your novella?

Mountain View Lodge brings back a secondary character who took on a life of her own in The Starlight Inn. Tillie Spencer started as a somewhat nosy, little old lady, but turned into a mysterious, little old lady who quickly became one of my favorite characters. Tillie travels from hotel, to inn, to lodge, imparting her advice—whether welcomed or not. In MVL, she finds herself in North Carolina during the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day—Autumn’s least favorite holiday. But Valentine’s Day isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning.

Intriguing. I love reading more about a character that is so endearing.

What was the inspiration for Mountain View Lodge?

I love the mountains, and I love North Carolina, so it seemed the perfect setting. Originally, I wanted to write a holiday series, so Valentine’s Day was the logical next holiday after Christmas. In the end, however, I opted for the travel aspect over the holiday one. I’m not a huge Valentine’s Day fan, myself, so I incorporated that into Autumn’s character.

You are speaking my language! Mountains, North Carolina, someone who’s not as keen on holidays…

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m currently working on two new books. The third Tillie Spencer novella (not yet named) takes place at a small hotel on the East Coast of Florida. Will single-father Drew and new hotel manager Abby find romance? They will if Tillie has anything to say about it. And Tillie always has something to say!

The other book is a full-length novel I’ve titled Memories in the Sand. Yes, it’s another beach story. Lol! Widow, Finley Long cherishes her memories with her late husband, knowing she needs to move on. Zach Palmer is trying to figure out how to move forward with his life. His wife wants a divorce, but an accident puts her in a coma before anything is done about it. While his interest in Finley grows, he questions whether or not God has other plans for he and his wife.

Best of luck with your books. They sound interesting! Thank you so much, Lucie, for sharing a bit more about your book. I am eager to give my readers a better view of your novella. So, without further ado, here it is:

Mountain View Lodge: A Tillie Spencer Novella

Enjoy an Excerpt

Coll remained silent. He stared after the lady until she disappeared into the crowd of partygoers. The sound of Autumn’s chuckling drew him back to the reason he was here. He focused on his companion. “How long have you known that lady?”

“I met her yesterday.”

“She’s . . . interesting.”

“Interesting is one of Tillie’s many characteristics.” Autumn eyed his attire. “You look very nice, though I still prefer the kilt.” She sighed deeply. “There’s just something about a guy in a plaid skirt and knee socks.”

“In that case, allow me to escort you to a room filled with guys in skirts and socks. You can ogle to your heart’s content.” She laughed, and he liked the way it sounded—like a spring breeze, light and airy.

“I’m not going to lie, after that amazing wedding, I just knew I had to get a glimpse of what the reception would be like. Thanks for keeping me from looking like a curiosity seeker.”

“Thank you for not making me go alone.”

Minutes later, Coll found himself seated between Autumn and Chloe, the young girl who’d played the flute. Along with everyone in the room, he applauded when the bridal party was introduced and waited out the hoots and cheers when the newlyweds entered. A portion of his heart fractured when the newly-married couple stepped onto the dance floor for their first dance. Why had he agreed to attend the reception? This wasn’t where he wanted to be. It was one thing to be paid to play during the ceremony, quite another to sit through all the toasts and accolades. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and his palms went clammy.

Autumn touched his arm. “You okay? You look a little pale.”

He focused on Autumn, making sure he seemed at ease. He’d asked her to join him and would make the best of it. “I’m fine. Guess the last couple of days have caught up with me.” She looked doubtful but didn’t say anything more about it.

When couples were invited to join the bride and groom on the dance floor, Autumn stood and held out her hand. “Come on.”

Having no desire to dance, Coll hesitated, but could hardly refuse her offer. He rubbed his palms on his slacks. “I’m not much of a dancer.”

“Neither am I.”

Her smile brightened his mood. He pushed his chair back and stood. Taking her small hand in his, Coll walked in the direction of the dance floor.

“Not that way.” Autumn led him toward the exit.

“Where are we going?”

“Anywhere but here.”

Buy Link

Kindle Select: http://amazon.com/dp/B07BMRDQVD

More About the Author

Lucie Ulrich is an award-winning author of inspirational fiction. Her books are filled with faith, family, forgiveness, and a little humor to round things out.

A former drama teacher and performing arts director, Lucie now enjoys going on photo shoots with her husband and taking long (or short) road trips. She continues to find inspiration as she and her husband explore the four corners of the United States.

Connect with Lucie and her books

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inspywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucieUlrich

Website: http://lucieulrich.com/

THE GIVEAWAY!!!

As Lucie mentioned above, she is offering a GIVEAWAY! Two lucky winners will be chosen to receive either an e-copy of Mountain View Lodge or their choice of another of her books (e-copy only). Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

BALANCE IN WRITING: Your Schedule

Life is Crazy. I am a momma of three young children (ages 8, 7, and 4). Two of them have special needs. Then I have the house to take care of, the groceries, the laundry, the cooking…you know the regimen.

On top of that, I coordinate a ministry that I am passionate about. It requires me to maintain a separate blog, facilitate communication between leadership members, write a monthly newsletter, and update power points. I am also increasing my speaking engagements.

I am thrilled about the opportunities that are opening up for me. But it takes planning and preparation time.

I also need to market for 8 books and I am working on writing 3 and researching 1 right now. Maintaining my newsletter, street team, social media, constantly educating myself on the craft of writing….

Basically, I have a lot on my plate. To keep all this going, it takes organization and planning. A LOT of organization and planning. And I know I’m not the only one. There are others of you who have even more on your plate. Some of you have all that and a full time or part time job!

So, what are some tricks to manage it?

First, you need goals. If you have spent any time reading my blog, you know how I feel about goals. They give you something to work toward and help you know when and what you have achieved each week/month.

So, sit down and set some goals.

Writing goals:

  • What will you write this year?
  • How long will it take you to write that?
  • Pencil in those writing sessions each day/week
  • Set your deadlines for rough draft and self-edits

Marketing goals:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your writing?
  • How will you accomplish that?
  • What is your target audience?
  • Where is your audience?
  • How will you reach them?

Appointments:

  • Make sure to mark appointments in your calendar
  • Include exercise and things like devotion/quiet times in your calendar (if it’s not in my calendar, I will not make the time for it)
  • Make time for date nights, time with your kiddos

Time for YOU:

  • Just know as you plan your week/month that you will need leeway to have time with friends
  • And plan time for you/rest each day; even if it’s 30 minutes to read or just relax with a TV show

Make your TO DO list for the week:

  • write everything down that needs to be done in the week
  • dream big
  • include writing goals for the week (whether number of scenes, chapters, or word count)
  • include these other areas mentioned above
  • include “due dates” for the items on the list

Distribute TO DOs among the days of the week:

  • look at your schedule each day and make an even distribution of items, taking into account what you have going on each day
  • make sure you have REST time each day

Prioritize list for each day:

  • pick the three most important tasks to be done each day
  • if those get done, you have accomplished much; doing more is icing on the cake

Set TIMERS:

  • I set an alarm at noon, if I haven’t already started writing/editing, that is my cue to drop what I’m doing and start then
  • I also use timers to manage tasks – I’ll do housework for 15 minutes, I’ll do social media for 15 minutes (can you tell 15 minutes is my “special increment”?)

Build a really good planner:

  • Intentional Moms has a great planner that works with these principles and you can download the planner so you can print it out, add your own sheets, add on different packets (you can take the printed out stuff to FedEx Office and have them spiral bind it for about $5
  • Susan May Warren’s “My Story Matters” planner has great guidelines for setting goals for writing and marketing
  • Plum Paper has great options for building your own planner and adding sections and whatnot

 

SPOTLIGHT: Author Krysten Lindsay Hager’s “Can Dreams Come True”

I am pleased to welcome back author Krysten Lindsay Hager. She writes Contemporary YA Fiction. Her characters experience everything I wish I had as a teenager. And without being fantastical or beyond believable. She keeps it real. What more could you want?

So, without further ado, let me step out of the way as I introduce you to her newest release, Can Dreams Come True!

Can Dreams Come True (Book One of the Cecily Taylor Series)

Cecily has always had a huge crush on singer Andrew Holiday and she wants to be an actress, so she tags along when her friend auditions for his new video. However, the director isn’t looking for an actress, but rather the girl next door—and so is Andrew. Cecily gets a part in the video and all of Andrew’s attention on the set. Her friend begins to see red and Cecily’s boyfriend is seeing green—as in major jealousy. A misunderstanding leaves Cecily and her boyfriend on the outs and Andrew hopes to pick up the pieces as he’s looking for someone more stable in his life than the models he’s dated. Soon Cecily begins to realize Andrew understands her more than her small-town boyfriend—but can her perfect love match really be her favorite rock star?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Okay, if I wanted to do a good job in this music video then I had to become this character and show how she and Andrew were soulmates who would recognize each other just by walking by.

Andrew got into position and the director yelled, “Action.”

Andrew and I began to walk toward one another. He glanced away from me and then right as we got closer, he gave me an intense, longing stare which almost took my breath away. I lost all focus and forgot what I was supposed to do. It was like time was standing still and we were the only two people in the world.

“Cut!” Dimitri said. “Perfection. You absolutely nailed the look, Cecily. Let’s try it again, but this time the focus will be on Andrew’s angle.”

My face felt warm as I walked back on my mark to go again. How did I get my look so perfect when I hadn’t done anything intentional? Andrew’s gaze had been so overwhelming I had forgotten everything I was meant to do. Then it hit me—my look hadn’t been an act. Whatever I did in the scene was how I actually felt in the moment and if Dimitri said it was the perfect look then it meant I must have been showing my true feelings for Andrew. How embarrassing! Did people think I was acting or was my stupid kiddie crush apparent to everyone now? Andrew would probably take the security guys aside and tell them there was a stalker present and to quietly escort me off the premises without making a scene. The whole crew would laugh over how the dumb star struck kid got caught up in her obsession with the pop star. I never should have done this. At least before I had the fantasy, now Andrew was aware of my existence and instead of remembering the connection we had earlier, he’d see me as just another fan.

Buy Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon IN: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/Dreams-Come-True-Cecily-Taylor-ebook/dp/B079S3KJSH

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/can-dreams-come-true-krysten-lindsay-hager/1128104849?ean=9781621357469

More About the Author

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True? True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for childen/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist.

Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton.

Connect with Krysten and her books

WEBSITE: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/krystenlindsay/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/krystenlindsay/

AMAZON BIO: https://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1518310668&sr=8-1

 

BALANCE IN WRITING: What Does Your Body Need?

I don’t know if you’ve heard before…but writing takes a physical toll on your body. I know it may not seem like it. I mean, all we’re doing is sitting and typing on a keyboard, right?

If you really think about it, the challenges come to light. If you aren’t set up ergonomically, you can develop carpal tunnel issues, there can be posture concerns, the fact that we are sedentary for extended periods of time (still but for our fingers moving as if to fly off our hands)…these are just a few.

Ergonomics

“Ergonomics” technically means “the study of people’s efficiency in their work environment”. However, we generally understand it to mean the proper function of our work environment. Which does produce efficiency in that it reduces work place injury, leading to higher performing workers.

Let’s think about your keyboard (which is by far the thing of focus when we talk about ergonomics for all who work at a computer screen). What is the most ergonomically sound way to posture your keyboard and hands/wrists to prevent wearing on those ligaments and tendons?

An ergonomic keyboard is one built with the goal to reduce muscle strain, thus reducing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Many “ergonomic keyboards” are built with a V-shape, keeping the hands at a more natural angle for your posture. But some think that reducing strain, rather than maintaining a certain posture, is more important.

Other suggestions for body position include: have the keyboard 1-2 inches above your thighs and keep your mouse and keyboard in such a position that they are shoulder width apart. The idea is to keep your elbows close to your body. This puts your arms and torso in a less strained position.

Posture Concerns

This has become particularly important for me. A few weeks ago, I was experiencing an increase in the frequency of migraines. I am a chronic migraine sufferer. And I take two pills daily to prevent them. Still, I started to experience 3-5 a week instead of the 1-2 a month we had reduced them to. My doctor took an x-ray of my neck to see if there was anything of note. And we found something a little off topic for the migraines, but something of concern.

I had degeneration (early arthritis) in my neck. Now, I won’t share my age (what lady would?), but I have not reached 40. I am, as my doctor put it “waaayyyy too young to have this kind of thing to this degree”. His thoughts? The long hours spent writing. My posture. The fact that my laptop was typically at chest level, leaving me looking down, created a problem for my neck curvature. This also aggravated the muscles at the base of my neck. Now I have two problems: degeneration and muscle spasms. So, I have revamped my work space to fix the one issue and I am working on making those muscles happy again.

How did I fix it? I raised my monitor and swiped my husband’s blue tooth keyboard. I already had a large monitor that paired with my laptop in my office. It is large enough that I am not looking down. And when I work downstairs, I have one of those portable laptop desks to set my laptop on, at eye level, and type on the “swiped” bluetooth keyboard. Now, my neck is more properly aligned.

I was also warned to use a small pillow behind my lumbar region to create better posture for my upper back.

Sedentary for Extended Periods of Time

An easy answer to this is a standing desk. But the world is discovering that, while it fixes some problems, it can bring on its own. Some of those can be solved by securing a standing desk mat or one of the contraptions that you roll your feet on to stimulate blood flow. My chiropractor even mentioned a balance board to keep from standing in one position for too long.

Another way to get in activity would be to set a timer on your writing sessions. I know we don’t want to do this. Get up every 30-45 minutes, get some water, go to the bathroom. Perhaps do 10 squats while your at it 🙂 Maybe take a longer break at lunch and take a 20 minute stroll around the neighborhood to increase circulation. A fresh wave of blood flow to the brain will only increase your creativity.

In Conclusion

We already knew that we had challenges as writers. And balancing life, home, commitments, sometimes another job, and our passion for writing is no easy task. But we also have to consider our bodies and the physical demands placed on us, and how we can reduce strain, injury, and bad habits.

Something to think about.

Happy Writing!