Some Quick Updates…

Hey, everyone…

I hope those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a great holiday. For those who do the whole Black Friday thing, I hope you got the deals you were looking for … and survived it injury free. 🙂

For the first time in maybe three years, I actually baked pumpkin pies. I’m not happy with the way my crusts turned out though so I’m going to experiment. If half butter and half shortening don’t result in a tender, flaky, pretty crust, I’m going to switch to all butter. This whole trans fat thing is ridiculous. I’m sure everyone who buys shortening knows it’s not a health food. If anyone has suggestions for ways I can make a nice crust again, I’m all ears – or eyes, or eyes since this is a blog and not a telephone. 😀 

Okay. So maybe it’s not quite that dramatic but my crusts are nowhere near as pretty as they once were.

The Coach’s Boys Christmas story? I’m still hoping it’s coming along. Bopping back and forth between present day and the year all but Sam turned fourteen is more of a challenge than I’d anticipated. But I’m determined to get it right – and hopefully published before Christmas. 

As for my J.J. Belding stuff…

I’m putting a prequel up in installments on Wattpad ()https://www.wattpad.com/user/JJBelding). I’ll put up two more over the next two weeks, then start posting the first story there too. I’ll be doing a Christmas party with the other guys in the Hemisphere group – with games and prizes. It ought to be interesting because when I say guys, I mean they ARE all guys. I’m the only girl.

Now for some pretty important news…

No, I’m not pregnant. 🙂

But I have banded together with a launch team of nearly a dozen other sweet romance authors. It’s so hard for indie authors to get any exposure these days – unless they happen to have a huge advertising budget. Most of us do not. So we’re going to lend our support to one another – and I hope you’ll give them a chance too. Like their books, they’re very sweet . I’ll update more about this in my next newsletter.

And even more important news…

We’re having a Facebook Christmas party later this month – with games and prizes (free digital books and gift cards). We’re hoping it’s a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing you there.

Now for a question…

Last year, Aria was all oohs and aahs over Christmas decorations. This year, unless there are lighted Santas and Frostys, or tons of lights, she really doesn’t care. Is that normal for a 2 1/2 year old? 

Okay. Gotta scoot. It’s time to get something around for supper. Personally, I’d be okay with oatmeal or eggs and toast. The kids, however, are not impressed with my meal suggestions so I probably have to do more than boil some water. Then it’s on to editing. 

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Read My Stories – Free!

At least some of them. I’m really starting to love Wattpad and am trying to add new parts to all of my stories weekly … for both my Kristy K. James and JJ Belding books. I’ve actually managed to update both two weeks in a row (quite a feat for me, lol) so I thought it was time I let all of you know about it.

I’d also like to ask a favor. If you read any of the stories there (and I really hope you will!), please take a moment to vote on each part and maybe leave some comments. I would love to get the notice of someone at Wattpad but without lots of reads, votes, and comments, it’s not likely to happen. So thank you in advance for your help. 🙂

My son says you don’t need an account to read stories on Wattpad but I’m not sure whether you can vote or comment if you don’t. If you do need one, they’re free – and there are millions of other stories there you can read for free too.

Here are the links to both of my Wattpad pages:

https://www.wattpad.com/user/KristyKJames
https://www.wattpad.com/user/JJBelding

Right now, for Kristy K. James, I’ve got:

The Daddy Pact (already free on Amazon) up – just one more part on Friday to complete
Brody’s Banshee, complete
Someday… maybe, complete
Erin’s Christmas Wish, the first two parts. I’ll be adding a new one every week until it’s complete too

As JJ Belding, I have:

The Secret, prequel for Haunted Depot: The Ghost Curse. Just one part right now but I’ll be adding more each week for the next three weeks when it, too, will be complete.

And then I’ll be starting The Depot, Book 1 in Haunted Depot: The Ghost Curse, and once that’s up, I might put the series Christmas story up. I’ll share the covers for all three here – because I’m loving them 🙂

 

I hope you like them as much as I do, and that those of you who like a little paranormal or urban fantasy with your romance will enjoy reading these stories as much as I’m enjoying writing them. And no worries. I’m a big chicken. They won’t be too scary. 🙂

 

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A Thanksgiving To Remember

Someday, I’ll start making lists again. I’ve been picking up things here and there for a couple of weeks – in preparation for Thanksgiving.
 
I assumed since the sugar canister is nearly empty, and since I only buy about five pounds a year (always near the holidays), I needed more. I forgot I’d picked up four pounds a month or so ago (in anticipation of holiday baking). Now I have nine pounds.
 
And if you count my gluten free baking mix, I have fourteen pounds of flour – after picking up a five pound bag of regular flour yesterday – after picking up another one about a week ago.
 
Crisco? Five one-pound blocks of the stuff – because I hardly use that either and forgot I still had two left when I bought the other three yesterday.
 
The can of pumpkin I KNOW I bought last week has come up missing somewhere between the checkout lane and home so instead of two yummy pies cooling in the oven, I have two empty, uncooked pie crusts wrapped and in the refrigerator until I find an open store in the morning. I’m assuming the errant can is under one of the seats in the van and since we’ve hit freezing a few times, I’m not going to use it when I do locate it. If it actually made it to the van.
 
Oh yeah. And I’m out of butter too. Why? Because C.J. doesn’t always throw empty boxes away and I assumed there was a full box.
 
What do I have? The turkey, everything I need for stuffing (which I bake outside the bird because I can make more things if the leftover meat doesn’t taste like sage and onion), about three hundred pounds of yams (okay, maybe four pounds – which will feel like three hundred after I’ve finished peeling them), whipping cream, cranberry sauce, and frozen roll dough.
 
But even if I wasn’t going to set the table with a full table tomorrow, including homemade pumpkin pies and rolls with real butter, even if I had to serve hot dogs or tuna sandwiches, I still would have the most important part of Thanksgiving. My family, a roof over our heads, food in the cupboards, fridge, and freezer, and all of the other blessings in my life – including all of you.
 

Thanks for sticking with me, supporting me, and encouraging me during a rough period of writer’s block.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who will be celebrating it … and Happy Thursday to those who will not be. God bless each and every one of you. <3

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I’ve Been Lying To You

Of course, I’ve been lying to myself too, coming up with a million reasons why I haven’t written much over the past year and a half. I’ve blamed fatigue from my thyroid, knowing full well it’s always been an issue – and it’s never stopped me from writing. Family obligations? I’ve had those all along too – and watching Aria has never been a 24/7 thing.

So what’s the real truth?

Probably a combination of those two things, the deaths of a few people I either loved or cared about over the past eighteen months, some unexpected stressors, and a few other things put me in a mildly depressed, very burned out place. And for more than a year, I was afraid I’d lost what it took to be an author.

I kept trying to write. Steven (book 2 in the Double M series), Weko1, the Coach’s Boys Christmas special, the Enza prequel… I’ve tried writing all of those – and more – but I’d get to a certain point, different for each one, and I’d be stuck. And I just could not write more.

I tried doing a challenge with another author – a short story, roughly ten-thousand words, every month for 2017. It took me until late July to finish and publish my first one. I even had trouble writing one short story.

It was crazy. So in a kind of desperation, I jumped on an opportunity this spring – writing in a fictional world with three other authors. The plan was to have five novellas written by the end of September. I had part of one done by then. I’d tried a couple of other ideas for a series of five stories but those didn’t get far. Then I thought, I’ll just do a standalone story and hope for the best. That was like pulling teeth but in a panic because I didn’t want to let the others down, I finally managed to finish it.

And then, and I’m still not sure where the idea came from, Haunted Depot: The Ghost Curse was born. And it’s like whatever was blocking me, whatever wall was there that made it impossible to write, it’s gone. I’m having more fun writing than I have in almost two years. I’m finishing stories – and it’s looking like the Coach’s Boys Christmas novella will actually be published this year. I’m also hopeful for Steven and Weko1. 

To clarify, I will continue writing sweet, contemporary romance too.

Now because the Haunted Depot series is urban fantasy, I’ve taken on a pen name: J.J. Belding. J.J. because it was my Yahoo nickname for several years, Belding because it’s the name of a city my family lived in when I was little. After much research, it just makes sense to keep the genres separate because some of you prefer my contemporary romance. I’ll be trying to add a link at the top of this website for J.J.’s website, which will just make everything easier for all of us.

In closing, for today, I’d like to share a couple of covers with you. The Ripple, the standalone story that was so hard to write, is due out on the 14th of this month and this is the final cover. The first Haunted Depot installment, along with a Christmas novella, will be available next month but I’m still playing around with what I want – but this is close to what the final version will be.

 

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Book Review: Hand-Me-Down-Princess

Because many – and I’d go so far as to say most – authors are kind of like artists in that they need to supplement what they earn from their passion (in my case, writing), I’ve decided to make more use of affiliate links. I’ll use them where applicable in blog posts and book reviews, which I intend to start doing a few times each month.

I’ve always been on the fence about doing this but with Amazon paying about .45 cents per 100 pages read in Kindle Unlimited (about $1.20 for a 300 page book), many authors have seen their incomes drop. Some are resorting to Patreon accounts and I’m just not comfortable with that. So I’ve chosen to give this a try.

That said….

***Warning – affiliate link(s) coming up. Explanation at end of post.***

Review of book 4 in the The Monarchies of Belles Montagnes series

Hand-Me-Down-Princess  by Carol Moncado

 

Since I started reading these books last November, they’ve been re-numbered. The first four were 1-4. Now they’re 4-7. So if it seems like I started in the middle, I probably did – but I didn’t know it at the time.

Also, I should probably warn you that these are clean, contemporary Christian romance novels. Don’t worry, in case you’re groaning with disappointment, they’re not preachy. They’re actually riveting, full of adventure, romance, intrigue – and danger. They kept me reading well past my bedtime – every single time I started reading one.

Now for the review:

This book begins with plain Jane princess, Jessabelle, about to marry a man she’s never met, second in line to the throne. Not the Crown Prince because he rejected her. So she’s feeling kind of unwanted. Malachi, Kai, her new husband, wasn’t anymore thrilled at their union than she but for such a young man, he really is a prince. Determined that she’ll never feel second best, he sets about making his new wife feel wanted.

Honestly, I kind of fell in love with Kai because for such a young man, he had me swooning out of the gate. He resented being forced to marry, yet he fulfilled his obligation. But then he decided he was going to be a good husband and make his bride never felt like she was second best to anyone.      

In the midst of all of that, they have to deal with the death of a loved one, a couple of shocking, decades’ old secrets, and life threatening danger. Through it all, Kai never once let me … um … I mean his wife down, remaining the hero I found him to be from the beginning. Yes, he had a flaw or two but for the most part, he’s the kind of man I like to read about in any book I pick up.

My rating? Easily, five stars!

Okay… Affiliate links…

First, let me promise here and now that I’ll never share links for books, movies, or products that I haven’t personally used and love.

Second, an affiliate link is a highlighted, underlined link to a product on Amazon.com – and FTC rules say anyone using them must disclose that fact. So, if you click on a link for a product, and then buy it or anything else that day (maybe longer in some cases), I will get a small percent of the sale. That percentage was 4-8% but I guess those rates dropped by about 20% earlier this year. So honestly? I don’t know what the new rates are – but probably closer to 3% to 6.5% now.

 

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Judgmental People

Given my hiatus from blogging, I hope you don’t faint because I’m posting twice in a matter of days. But I can’t help it. After reading an article about the photo shoot of a newly engaged couple. The scantily clad woman is plus-size and that, according to many of those who left comments, is not cool. Why? Because she’s overweight, I guess she has no right to expose herself to those who are offended by less than ‘perfect’ bodies.

Based on what I saw, most of these ‘perfect people’ failed to actually read the article. If they had done so, they’d have discovered that the couple did not share their photos. The photographer, as she often does with other photos, posted them on her Facebook page. They went viral from there, not because the woman was trying to get attention.

You can read the article here.

What offends me about these people and their ugly comments is that they don’t have a clue why this woman is plus-size. Does she have a wonky thyroid? Another health issue? Is she taking medication that makes it easy to put weight on but makes it nearly impossible to get it off? And let’s not forget about the cost of living.

[bctt tweet=”Food prices can impact weight” username=”@KristyKJames”]

One fast food restaurant offers a salad option instead of the sandwich. They’ll exchange the bun for a couple of handfuls of lettuce – and it will only cost an extra $1.50. Add a bottle of water and you’ll be paying about $9.00 for the lunch or supper. Just down the road, you can spend less than $4.00 on a burger, small order of fries, and a large soda. There’s no nutrition in this meal but the person consuming it will leave with a full belly – for less than half the price.

It’s a sad fact of life that budgets dictate how we live. Some people can afford quality foods, some cannot. But low incomes don’t always add up to weight gain.

Personally, I blame much of it on the chemicals other countries ban from their food supplies. Those same chemicals, however, can be found in almost everything we eat in the USA. Why? Because the FDA says okay.

I challenge anyone reading this blog post to do a little research on food additives and hormones added to our food supplies. To get those interested started, click here for an article on the CBS website. In a nutshell, it cites a study that says chemicals in our foods can cause metabolic syndrome and significant weight gain.

I wish those commenting on the couple in the photos would educate themselves before judging people who struggle with weight issues. Maybe then they’d join me in the ‘just not lest I be judged’ camp – which is where I try my best to stay.

If you’ve never seen the video, grab a tissue. You’ll need it.

 

 

 

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A Cheap Date

Date nights can be a challenge in this economy.  The cost of living means a good restaurant meal can cost an arm and a leg. And something as simple as going to see a movie? Yikes! If you buy a couple of sodas and popcorn, it can set you back $40.00 or more.  Ouch.

On top of all of that, finding time in our hectic schedules can be a challenge. And, if you have young children, babysitters to find—and pay. Double yikes there! But it’s especially worth it if you have kids because it’s easy to fall into a routine where you only see yourselves as parents.

But all couples need alone time.  Time to focus on each other, to shut out the rest of the world, the jobs, bills, responsibilities, and distractions like computers and cell phones. 

Of course, there’s that whole budget thing, isn’t there. Paychecks take quite a hit from rent or house payments, health/life insurance, utilities, and the grocery bill. Then you’ve got to fill the car(s) up and at $2.50 or more a gallon, holy moly!

Don’t be a statistic

You probably thought I was going to bring up divorce, didn’t you?  No.  I’m talking about the many couples who take one another for granted.  Sure they still love one another, but they’re not in love.  They’ve been together long enough that they don’t really see each other anymore.

If you don’t want that to happen to your relationship, take some steps to stop it from happening. Or to fix it you’re already there.

[bctt tweet=”Date nights don’t have to break the bank” username=”@KristyKJames”]

A walk in the rain can be very romantic – not to mention a whole lot of fun!  As long as it’s just not storming.  Best of all, it’s free.

Picnics are another option. Pack a basket (or duffel bag) with a couple of pretty plates, two wine glasses, napkins and real silverware.  Arrange for a family member or friend to babysit if you have kids.  Then steal your Romeo or Juliet away for a romantic picnic for two.  In a park, on a beach, or even your own backyard. The location doesn’t matter … as long as it’s fairly private.

Your menu can even be budget-friendly.  Wouldn’t it be fun to surprise the love of your life with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrot sticks, grapes, and some inexpensive sandwich cookies served on your best china?  You could fill a thermos with tea or lemonade, and there you go.  A budget date that costs less than $10.00.

No, it’s not a 5-star restaurant … it’s better.  Because you took the time to plan it, prepare the meal and, most importantly, share it with the one you love.  That’s what they will remember.  That’s what makes it romantic.

~~~~~

If you think that any of the suggested tips are a good fit for you, and you decide to give them a try, I’d love to know if you got the results you hoped for.  Although I can’t guarantee you’ll get any results, most people respond well to sweetness, consideration and attention.  Just remember, you will need to exercise some patience, and be consistent.  Anything worth having usually requires effort.

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Excerpts and Updates

In trying to get back into the habit of blogging again, I thought I’d share another short excerpt, another song from my writing playlist, though tonight I’m revising an outline. It’s always interesting when you’re partway through a story and the greatest plot twist pops into your head. That means some fast backtracking and figuring out how it’s going to affect the rest of the story. It’s going to be in a good way but it’s going to take some work.

Okay, so here’s one of the songs I’m listening to tonight because part of what I’m working on is a little sad – and the right kind of music puts me in the right frame of mind so…. Sad stuff it is.

~~~~~

And now for the excerpt for Steven, book two in the Men From the Double M series. A sweetheart, we first met him in Josh. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Steven sat in the waiting room, knees spread apart, forearms resting on them as he leaned forward, trying to ignore the fear that kept trying to take root in his belly. Across from  him, his sister sat with her head resting on her husband’s shoulder. Occasionally, their eyes would meet and he’d smile, hoping he looked more hopeful than he felt.

He’d never liked hospitals or emergency rooms and he especially didn’t like them when someone he loved had been brought there in an ambulance. Not that he had any experience with it. He wished he didn’t now.

When the call had come, shortly after lunch, he’d jumped in his truck and sped into town. He’d actually beaten the ambulance, had parked and was jogging toward the entrance when it came blaring in. In the space of a split second, he’d changed direction and hurried over there instead. He’d helped his mother down, wrapped his arms around her as they watched the paramedics pull the gurney with his father out.

He’d been banished to the waiting room shortly after that and had paced the long hall until Ainsley arrived from Lansing about half an hour later. Neil hadn’t been far behind and they’d all been sitting here for more than an hour now. Their mother texted that it looked like John Duncan had suffered a mild, possibly moderate heart attack.

“He’s not that old,” Ainsley whispered when he showed her the message on his phone.

And he wasn’t. Not even fifty yet, he seemed to be in good shape. He was trim and active, still farming almost two hundred acres and taking care of a handful of livestock—in addition to the milking business.

“He’ll be fine,” Steven told her because he couldn’t imagine the man who had raised them being anything else.

The fact that they didn’t know yet how serious it was—though it apparently wasn’t as bad as he’d originally feared—convinced him everything would be fine. A few weeks and things would be back to normal. He, his mother, and his sister would figure out what they had to do to keep him healthy from now on and that would be that. Steven wouldn’t have it any other way. He couldn’t. Not after seeing his father’s ghostly white face twisted in pain behind an oxygen mask. It was a sight that would haunt him forever.

“You don’t think he’ll die, do you?” Ainsley whispered, leaning closer to her husband. Neil put an arm around her shoulders and held her close as tears streamed down her cheeks.

“No. He’s not going to die.” And as the words left his mouth, he prayed they were true. He wasn’t ready to lose his dad. He wouldn’t ever be ready for that day.

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Roommates or Lovers?

I have a question for you.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy (Romeo) or a gal (Juliet).  What I’d like to know is this – how are your romantic gestures being received?  Are you even making romantic gestures? If grades were being issued, do you think would you receive an A+…or a big, fat F?  Maybe somewhere in-between?  Okay.  Yeah, that was four questions.

And here are a few more…

Does Romeo or Juliet swoon when you walk into a room, or do they even spare you a glance when you get home?  Is their voice all soft and mushy when you give them a call, or do they exhibit more enthusiasm talking to someone at tech support?  Are fireworks going off when you kiss, or does it feel like you’re locking lips with a cold fish?

If you’re living more like roommates than lovers, is there anything you can do to change it?

As a romance author, I find I’m a bit of an expert on – well – romance, and I say…there’s a good possibility.  If you’re willing to put forth a little effort.

I’m going to be sharing some low cost (or no cost) ways you can show your someone special exactly how much they mean to you.  Don’t worry, I won’t suggest that you stand on a busy street corner singing Only Words at the top of your lungs.  Although it’s a perfect song to describe what smart lovers have known since the beginning of time. Those words are nice to hear … but if they’re not backed by actions, they’re hollow and useless.

~~~~~

If you think that any of the suggested tips are a good fit for you, and you decide to give them a try, I’d love to know if you got the results you hoped for.  Let me know in the comments section below. Although I can’t guarantee you’ll get any results, most people respond well to sweetness, consideration, and attention.  Just remember, you will need to exercise some patience, and be consistent.  Anything worth having usually requires effort.

 

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A Very Special Offer!

Over the years, I’ve found that when you work from home, the people in  your life tend to think you’re not really working. How can it be a real job if you’re not punching a time clock? And if it’s not a real job, it doesn’t matter if they interrupt you, or expect you to do things your clock-punching friends and family can’t do. Or doesn’t want to do. 

So progress is a little slower than I’d planned for this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Of course, I tend to set goals that are hard to reach too so it’s no surprise that I did it again. But progress is progress and I’m still mostly on track. At least for Weko 1 and my novelette. Steven, the second in the Double M series, well… We’ll have to see how that goes.

But…

I want to let you all know about a limited time offer. I’ve put the whole Coach’s Boys Series  (average 4.6 stars out of 5 on Amazon) into a bundle and set a special introductory offer of $4.99. Yup. You read that right – only $4.99 for the whole series

 

So if you haven’t read the stories yet, this is a great time to do it. If you have and loved them, share this post and let other readers fall in love with Dan, Sam, Chris, Jon, Cal, and Ed too. But hurry because the price is going up in about two weeks. *Digital copies only*

Homegrown Heroes – $4.99, limited time only. Only on Amazon.com

 

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