Illness: A Blessing in Disguise?

In November of 2019, my body gave me lots of signs that I needed to pay attention to my health.

I had two choices: succumb to fear and the very dark places your mind likes to go or realize…I have no information other than they’re running some tests and I need to go on with my life. I chose the latter. I lived in this weird state of “it’s probably nothing, it could be somethingbut my kids need a snack and help with homework right now so I need to be a mom and not freak out. Besides, there was a birthday and Christmas to plan.

My husband became unusually quiet and more helpful than he usually is – which was a bonus. Extra help? I’ll take it.

I will always remember that in between time as a loop of go to the doctor, get some more information and then wait for another test…go to the doctor for results, but they need more information so wait for another test…and so on. In the meantime, I focused on my mental health, my emotional health and my faith in order to truly complete each step of my physical health journey in a way which would ensure to bring my body back into balance and ease.

I am recovering from surgery and waiting for more results to see what happens from here. I have a general overview of things – but in this process I’ve learned specifics come when the time is right. Talk about a lesson in SURRENDERING!

So why am I sharing something so intimate about my health? Because I cannot believe what I have learned!!!

This time at home has offered me the opportunity to writeCapturing a Countess’ Heart is up on Amazon (.com and .ca) and Kobo for pre-order and will be live on April 28!!!

I have time to read and to meditate – to learn about my spirituality in ways I hadn’t been able to before. For once, I don’t feel like I’m stealing time in order to do the things that fill my cup. I am being cared for by all of the people I love and most of all I am learning compassion and self-love in a deeper way which I will take with me for the rest of my life and hopefully pass on to my children.

My physical yoga practice is so different. I have been on my mat every single day since my surgery. I have modified my practice and I have been in the asanas I struggled with the most – stillness in savasana? Camel that is merely looking up without the effort to reach my heels? And I have learned that ease, love, compassion, and breath will bring my body back into balance. (I am aware that I will probably keel over the first time I attempt a power yoga class when I am well…but that’s a problem for another day).

I have learned gratitude; to ask for help; to receive help; to receive the outpouring of love with a feeling of worthiness.

Each moment has become more sweet. Losing my father in my twenties taught me to always appreciate and enjoy life…perhaps, somewhere along the way of having kids, managing a career and a marriage some of that lesson was lost…Life has a way of making sure we stay true to the lessons learned…

This time at home has afforded me so much on my path to full health, and I can’t help but think, perhaps this forced journey to health was a blessing in disguise.

Finding Ease When Things Get Difficult

Yet, again, I find myself taking a lesson from my yoga mat and applying it to the real world.

In yoga, we refer to Sthira/Sukha. How strength and softness can exist simultaneously. You can feel both the hardness of a pose and you can melt into it’s difficulty with breath. With softness. With ease. And, voila. You’re not struggling any more. Difficult pose…muscles not happy…and you’re just fine.

Well, I’ve taken this concept and brought it to my writing life. As a soon-to-be indie author, there is so much I’m learning. And, so much, I know I don’t know, as I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past.

One of the things which I was doing a very good job avoiding was marketing. And, while I know nothing about marketing, I know enough to understand I need a platform through which I can communicate with lovers of historical romance. Enter Facebook and Instagram.

The trouble is…I really struggled with how to go about it. I normally use these two platforms as ways of keeping abreast with the lives of my family and friends. Not for building an audience or a business.

I’m not a business executive. I have no idea how to do this or where to go! I’m just a woman with a book who thinks other people will enjoy reading.

So, I whittled my immense fear of marketing down to this simple and basic concept: I just want to meet people who love to read, write and discuss historical romance, whom might hopefully enjoy reading my book too!

It is a good place to start. The other marketing stuff will come when it is time for it to come. So far, I’m happy to say, I’ve met some lovely people on-line whom I hope will one day enjoy my book. In the meantime, I’m enjoying communicating with them and trading stories about our reading and writing journeys.

Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so hard. After all, it’s just about people. People reading and writing great historical romances. And, now I am one of those people.

Find me on Instagram @carynemme

Find me on Facebook Caryn Emme

Find me on Twitter Caryn_Emme

Hope to connect with you there too!

Summer Reading List

My reading lists are not long because I have been forced to face reality: I am a working mother of two children who is also trying to publish her first book.

I’ve tried extensive summer reading lists and have failed miserably at them. My kiddos and hubby are home all summer long.

In the past, I have really struggled with sharing my summer reading and writing time with my family. Part of my personal growth has been to accept that this season with my children is short. It won’t be long before they’re out the door or their friends are over in search of entertainment outside of mommy and daddy.

So, I’ve learned to appreciate the slower pace of the summer. I’ve come to truly love my time at home with them because it is precious and fleeting. I’ve also discovered there is nothing more romantic than watching my husband care for our kids and our family. He steps up and takes care of us all summer long. I cherish our summers together. However, as our children are just a little bit older, I’ve noticed I get a little bit more time to sit…even if just for twenty minutes at a time!

During those moments of down-time…of lounging in the shade while the kids splash in the pool, instead of reaching for a dose of Insta…I’ll reach for one of these instead:

Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn are my all-time favourite historical romance writers and I’m reading Steven Neil in support of #IndieApril…yes, I realize it’s June…but see above for reasons my reading is slow.

There are some non-fiction reads I’ll throw on the list too since my journey into yoga and self-knowledge is now a part of me. But, these three will certainly satisfy my thirst for romance for the next couple of months.

What will you be reading this summer? Share below…I may just start an autumn TBR now ūüôā

Review: The Duke’s Disaster

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The Good:

  • The novel began with a bang – a really great concept with lots of tension and promise for a wonderful¬†novel
  • Noah Winters is a great alpha
  • Thea Collins is a believable heroine with an interesting backstory
  • Noah’s support of Thea near the end is touching (expected, but nicely written nonetheless)
  • I wish I had more “Good” because I really wanted to like this one

The Meh:

  • Plot moved at a snail’s pace
  • Noah was so lovable I had a hard time believing he wasn’t nice, even though we were repeatedly told he wasn’t, his every action was that of a nice, thoughtful person
  • The Winters’ family history was difficult to piece together
  • The minor characters did not enrich the story
  • I didn’t find their inner conflict compelling enough to keep them from HEA sooner
  • While the sweet breakfast routine was a nice way to show the couple getting closer together, it, like everything else in this novel, became stale rather quickly

Overall:

  • I wouldn’t recommend this novel, but I have a feeling it was a poor introduction to the writing of Ms. Burrowes
  • The¬†conflicts were not complex, or perhaps were not developed enough – I’m not sure what it was but I was unable to connect with the story and characters
  • Simply put, it was a boring novel – many a time I found myself closing it and loudly saying “Oh for crying out loud!”
  • The final scenes of violence were not very believable
  • Save yourself the time and perhaps give another of Grace Burrowes’ novels a try, I know I will.

Thanks for reading!  Any comments on this or another Grace Burrowes novel?

Summary from Goodreads: ¬†Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year’s crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another’s proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead. ¬†Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her?

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Glue Readers to Your Story #amwriting

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free stock photo from pixabay.com

The inciting incident in a work of fiction is what gets the plot moving.  Think of it as the first flashy set of fireworks that leads into an awesome display which lights up the sky and sets up the crescendo at the end.  In other words, it will also lead directly to the climax.

A superb inciting incident will keep your audience glued to your words, reading at warp-speed with the driving desire to finish your story.  And this image is what keeps our fingers flying on the keyboard, right?

Here are five suggestions to help you make your inciting incident heart-stopping:

  1. Immediately place your protagonist in a dire situation where a decision must be made and there is precious little time in which to make it.
  2. Force your protagonist to compromise on her ideals Р give your reader hope that this compromise will lead her to a bright outcome.
  3. Give your protagonist the opportunity to feel pain – allow him to be uncomfortable, hurt, vulnerable – give your audience a reason to root for him.
  4. Allow the villain free reign and control to show the strength in the protagonist, the refusal to give in despite towering odds.
  5. Forget the introduction altogether and begin the novel with the inciting incident Рstart your story with a bang!  The rest can be filled in throughout the rising action.

There are many ways to keep your readers engaged.  Obviously, voice and style are key.  However:

  • We live in an era designed to take our audience’s attention away.
  • Readers are also quite savvy and images/settings/backstories that once took pages or even chapters to create can now be created in a paragraph or even a sentence!

Therefore, it is essential to keep the plot moving.

I hope these suggestions help to spark your creativity and perhaps inspire you to try something new with your writing.

Would love to hear from fellow writers how you navigate your inciting incident and where you place it, first or later in your novel?  What works for you?

Thanks for reading!

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Slow Going on The Duke’s Disaster

Was super excited to read:

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When I started, I felt like: (cue the chirping birds)

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My surroundings are of course not quite so serene, but you get the idea.

A few chapters in and I’m feeling more like:

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I don’t want to feel this way…and I will finish the novel fully hoping for a reversal in my experience. ¬†This is my first Grace Burrowes book and I want to really like her works after going through an impressive list on goodreads. ¬†Not to mention there are two more of her novels sitting in my e-reader.

Do you have a suggestion for plowing through a book that has you feeling a little let down? Would love to hear how you rally yourself to the finish!

Thanks for reading!

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Note: photos are free stock photos from pixabay.com

How to Plot Your Romance Novel #amwriting

Every word counts. ¬†I tend to skim and skip passages when I feel the plot of a novel is not moving. ¬†So I try to put myself in my future reader’s shoes (or, eyes) and make every effort to ensure the plot is not stagnant.

My notes as an English teacher inspired me, as did the blog of author Nikki Owen, to use the tried and true plot graph in order to achieve this goal.

PLOT

For an explanation of each plot point see: how-to-plot-a-novel

Please note, I used this method once I had a very good understanding of my protagonists’ motivations and backstory, not before. ¬†Knowing my heroine and hero first helped me to plot their story.

The following steps might help you organize all of the wonderful ideas buzzing inside your head:

  1. In point form, list the main ideas of your novel
  2. Then, use the graphic above to plan where the main ideas should fall
  3. In point form, on the triangle, write down what will happen at each plot point in the novel.
  4. Then repeat this process for each chapter Рdraw a triangle, label the plot points, then write what will happen in the chapter at each plot point.  This will ensure you have a clear goal for each chapter which includes a climax and a way to flow into the next chapter. (NOTE: ensure to use only the front of the page, keep the back blank for notes later on)
  5. And voila! ¬†Novel done. ¬†Haha! ¬†Kidding – if only it were that easy ūüėČ ¬†You won’t have a finished novel, but you will have a clear outline of each chapter when you sit down to write. ¬†And, since each chapter has been outlined on a separate sheet of paper, you may reorganize the chapters before you start writing.

In order to accomplish the above I bought a cheap notebook to keep my ideas together:

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I found that this process helped me to stay focused during precious writing time (which is hard to obtain with marriage, career and children). ¬†Also when other ideas came to me as I wrote I could jot them down on the blank side of the page. ¬†If it was an idea which didn’t fit into the chapter or the novel as a whole, I was able to set it aside (after writing it down of course) for future books.

I hope this helps you on your writing journey!  Please remember, every writer has her or his own process and this might not work with your style.

I’d love to know how other writers plan and plot out their works. ¬†What do you do when you start to write a novel?

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Review: Falling Into Bed with a Duke

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The Good:

  • Minerva Dodger quickly became one of my favourite heroines because she knows herself and is beyond strong.
  • Ms. Heath creates a female protagonist who is confident in every aspect of her life and relationships – except, in love. ¬†This is something that many women of the modern age experience. ¬†The biggest lesson Minerva Dodger delivers is to remain true to yourself.
  • Her counterpart, the Duke of Ashebury, is everything one looks for in a male protagonist. ¬†He is arrogant, gorgeous and powerful. ¬†Naturally, he is considerate and thoughtful as well. ¬†Watching him fall in love with Minerva is a definite treat since he is so unaware that it is occurring.
  • I really enjoyed the minor characters too – very well defined without distracting from the romance. ¬†I particularly enjoyed Minerva’s friendship with BFF/sister-in-law Grace Lovingdon and her relationship with her parents was both strong and tender.
  • I also liked the way Ms. Heath created her world and gave us just enough back story to understand the context in which Minerva and Ashe moved without huge info-dumps.
  • And the ode to Dickens’ Miss Havisham and her clocks? C’mon! That was pretty cool.

The Meh:

  • I tend to skim over too much description about the angst. ¬†While angst is a necessary component of a character’s development in a romance novel, I quickly get bored of extensive analysis of emotions. ¬†I also find that modern readers easily understand a character’s predicament – once it’s been stated, is it necessary to go over it again and again?
  • Having said that, there were times when I skimmed or skipped entire passages where too much rambling was occurring. ¬†“Does he love me? Why is he spending time with me? Is Minerva really Lady V? etc. etc.” Again, this is my reading quirk and there are many readers out there who love the analysis as the protagonists evolve.

Overall:

  • This novel is a beautiful read.
  • I loved reading the evolution of Minerva and Ashe’s relationship.
  • I especially loved Minerva’s realization and acceptance of her own beauty on her terms. ¬†And, Ashe’s realization that his feelings extended well beyond sexual attraction for Minerva.
  • Ms. Heath had me cheering for these two from the very beginning.
  • If you’re looking for a well-written book with a strong heroine give this novel a try.

Favourite Lines:

“‘I could suffer through [my father’s] disappointment much more easily than I could suffer through not gaining retribution for being wronged.’ A corner of her mouth hitched up. ‘On the other hand, I might just kill you myself.’ She gave a quick nod. ‘Probably would. ¬†I’d find immense satisfaction in it, come to think of it.'” (Minerva to Ashe in Chapter 3).

“‘Dear God, how can you possibly believe there is any part of her that is equal to nothing?‘” (Ashe to Jack Dodger in Chapter 20)

Did you read Book 1 of the Hellions of Havisham? ¬†If so, let’s chat about it! ¬†Thanks for stopping by.

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Summary from Goodreads: ¬†After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires‚ÄĒand draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair. ¬†A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure?

Giddy Over New TBR

I spent five minutes browsing Kobo and this is what happened:

I decided to get started on on my goodreads¬†TBR shelf and looked up Lorraine Heath’s Falling into Bed with a Duke. ¬†And then of course, Grace Burrowes’ books were on sale at 2 for 3. And while perusing Pinterest, Melissa Foster pinned that her Lovers at Heart is free at Kobo…and ta-da! A new TBR list at my fingertips.

Can’t wait to dive in. ¬†Is there a TBR list you are giddy over? Please share & thanks for reading!

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Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

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Hathaway (Book 1) image courtesy: kobobooks

 

The Good:

  • Cam Rohan – can a writer bring to life a sexier alpha male protagonist?!? This guy is HOT!!! ¬†Rich. ¬†Clever. ¬†Perceptive. ¬†Considerate. ¬†In control. ¬†Suave. ¬†The list is endless…
  • Introduction to the Hathaway clan is superbly handled by Ms.Kleypas – it is a big family. ¬†Each Hathaway is portrayed so that we know their role in the family and have some insight into the trials of their eventual love story.
  • The fact that the Hathaways are considered outcasts gives so much opportunity to learn more about Victorian society than just the ways of the ton.
  • Setting and minor characters are richly described
  • The central romance of the book is so beautifully written – how can Amelia not fall for Cam?

The Meh:

  • Amelia’s struggle to finally accept Cam. ¬†Her angst seemed without foundation – it wasn’t believable to me that she found it so difficult to say yes. ¬†But this was such a small part of the book that it didn’t stop me from reading.
  • Leo…what a train wreck…except, this will make his HEA tale all the more delicious.

Overall:

  • If you love romance and reading a strong, sexy male lead – this is the book for you!
  • I also really loved the strong relationship and love in the Hathaway family – Ms. Kleypas creates strong female characters who support each other instead of tearing each other down and I love that!
  • Finally, the strong sense of setting and atmosphere is undeniable. ¬†Ms. Kleypas brings us into her world seamlessly.
  • Oh one last thing – I love that it overlaps with her previous series, Wallflowers, and we get to revisit some favourite characters!

Did you read Mine Till Midnight? If so, what did you think?  Any other juicy romances you would recommend based on this review?  Would love to connect!

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Here’s a synopsis of Mine Till Midnight from kobobooks:

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship‚ÄĒbut intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter‚Ķ.in Lisa Kleypas’s¬†Mine Till Midnight.

 

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