Friday, August 30

Links of the Week

History:

--Colorizing Photoshoppers Put a Spin on Old Historical Photos. This is so awesome! I loved getting to see the old pictures with color! These people are quite talented =)

--Archaeologists find a tomb that confirms women ruled Peru. Okay, I love whenever they find something new, so it's no surprise I love this article!

--21 Jokes Only History Nerds Will Understand. Not a favorite, personally, but I thought it was worth sharing. I've heard better jokes--these ones are just "meh" for me.

--Your Ancestors Didn't Sleep Like You. Thought this article was interesting, especially as a historical romance writer.

Writing:

--Roxanne St. Claire writes a blog post about her BFF, Kresley Cole. As you know, I adore KC, so I loved reading this. I've met her myself, and she was adorable and very nice. But more importantly, this is the type of relationship I want to make with my writer friends. So far I believe I have. Sadly, we're all too poor to meet in person, but one day we will! =)

Book News:

--NPR's 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels. How many have you read? I did the test a week ago, but I'm pretty sure I'd read something like 45.

Random Stuff:

--32 Extremely Upsetting Facts About the Class of 2017. Well, this made me feel old.

--96-Year-Old Man Writes a Song for his Late Wife of 75 Years. Grab the tissues! This one was so sweet and sad. I ended up buying the song-- it's quite adorable.

--20 Majors That Won't Make You Money. Well, shit. You mean an English degree will amount to a low income? Why didn't they tell me that in school! *snorts*

--BEST PRANK EVER. Seriously. If you love Jurassic Park, you need to watch this. I laughed so hard.

Thursday, August 29

Writing Update!

Now that I'm writing again, I figure I should update you all on how it's going (it keeps me accountable, I suppose).

My desk area!
Alright, so since my Enough Excuses post last Tuesday, I have written 4, 950 words. Huh, not too shabby for me if I do say so myself. Sadly, I didn't write for a few days after a doctor's appointment due to arm pain (which was a legitimate reason this time, not like those excuses I keep coming up with, LOL). I was concerned I wouldn't be able to "get back in the saddle" after that, but I did! I just sat down and wrote. I polished off two chapters (about 23 pages) and sent it to my Alpha, who read them last night. I still need to speak with her about what she thought, but she didn't point out any major flaws (or very many minor ones, either) so I call that a win, LOL.

Today I need to flesh out the next chapter and finish it up, then that will be another chapter completed! I have been thinking more about plot, and I've realized I need to add a subplot in sooner. I want to go back and start adding hints etc... but I've decided that the best direction for me to go right now is forward. I know what I want to add in (and where), so that will have to be enough. Unfortunately for my CP & Alpha, that means a few things might just randomly jump up and smack them in the head, but at least I'll warn them ahead of time, heheh.

A few of my bookshelves. There's one more 
off to the right, and I also have another 
upstairs in the spare room.
Personally, I'd love to power through this first draft and have it done by November 1st. (I'm telling all of you this date so that when the time comes, you can yell/kick/hit me if I don't succeed). That means I have 64 days (including today) to finish it. I'm sitting pretty at 41, 000 words right now (with a goal of about 100, 000), so if I write 1000 words a day, I should be fine. I tend to write a pretty clean rough draft, but I do have a few threads I'll need to go back and include. I also suspect some chapters or scenes will be cut, but meh. At the moment, they're staying in there until I have the whole story written out.

Once my rough draft is done and I do some editing, it'll be off to the rest of my CPs, and then betas. I would LOVE to have this done by the end of the year (or, more specifically, my birthday: December 21st). I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

So what about you guys? How are your stories coming along? Do you have any goals right now? Do you work well with goals, or do you find you work better playing it by ear? Would any of YOU like to beta for me when I'm finished? *wink-wink, nudge-nudge*

Wednesday, August 28

Feeling Terrible

I'm a bit late with my blog post today due to my stupid arms. They've been in a lot of pain for the past few days, and yesterday it caught up with me. I couldn't focus on anything, I was exhausted, and I was grumpy (poor husband). I ended up taking my pain meds to try and sleep, but it resulted in me waking up at 10:30 am (I'm always up before 8 am) with a wicked headache and what can only be described as a hangover from hell (not that I have ever experienced one of those, being a lightweight and all... *whistles innocently*)

Anyway, this has completely thrown my day for a loop, so this is what I'm writing today--have to stay in practice after all. But now, if you'll excuse me, I should probably try and choke down some lunch considering it's almost 1 pm here and I have yet to eat today.

xo

Tuesday, August 27

The Meaning Behind My Blog Title

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, so today seems as good a time as any!

When I started this blog back in 2009, I wanted a title that reflected my life. I wanted something that would stand out, something that would make an impression on people. Of course, I suppose I could have simply put NATALIE MURPHY and been done with the whole thing, but that's not my style. A name is just a name, and though I like my name (both maiden and married), I didn't pick it/them.

So I set out to find the perfect title. To be honest, it didn't take very long. THE SOUND OF RAIN had a special meaning to me already, so it seemed fitting that I would name my blog that.

Over the years, I've had various people ask me the meaning behind my title. Why did I pick rain? Why is the sound of rain something important?

There are various ways to look at it. First, you could take it quite literal. I like the sound of rain. I've always been a fan of storms, and it's the perfect condition to read or write, which seemed appropriate for a writer's blog.

Or, you could look a bit deeper.

Rain is life. This is true in every culture throughout history, so when I say THE SOUND OF RAIN, I really mean, THE SOUND OF LIFE. Even when I tried to explain that to people, they did not understand, which is why I added the subtitle: Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Although dancing in the rain can be quite fun, that's not what the saying means. It means you can sit around and watch life go by, or you can go out there and dance in it. This blog, though a small blip on the radar, is my way of sharing my experiences with all of you. It is the sound of my life.

Monday, August 26

Weight Loss & Exercise: My Journey

*Warning: Long Post Ahead*

As many of you know, I’ve been trying to exercise a lot more, recently. After the past few years, I’ve gained quite a bit of extra weight. In high school I was always curvy—not fat, but certainly not thin. I was a healthy size, in my opinion. A lot of that was thanks to a very active lifestyle. By my senior year, I had gym class for an hour every day, I played intramural soccer, and I played badminton and volleyball after school. I was also a member of Scouts Canada, which included hikes, camping, and water sports. 

Once university hit, however, all of that disappeared. I had no time for sports, and I certainly wasn’t getting an hour every day for gym class. Even Scouts fell to the wayside for me. My focus was school, plain and simple. Unfortunately, that combined with oncoming depression (I really hated my living situation—roommates can be very tough to live with), I gained weight. As the years went by, I gained more and more.

After the wedding, I fell into a funk (which we’ve talked about creatively here, but not how it affected my personal life). I was nowhere near those commercials you see on TV, but I was definitely facing a minor form of depression. It’s hard to be away from everything you’ve ever known and loved. I was accustomed to going to Wal-Mart and seeing people I grew up with. If I wanted to, I could call up anyone from high school or university to see if they wanted to go out, or see a movie. Here in Virginia, however, I don’t have that. It took some adjusting, but I think I’m finally in a place where I can accept that. Thankfully, my husband has been very supportive and he understands what I’m going through. Unfortunately, I gained even more weight during this process.

The elliptical in our spare room
Which brings me to May 2013. I was no longer simply curvy, but overweight. I want to have kids in the next few years, which means gaining even more weight and generally being a big lug for 9+ months (because, really, no one loses the baby weight right after they give birth). When our tax return came in, we decided to invest in an elliptical. They are great for a workout—holy shit they’re difficult—but I tried them in university and liked them.

From the beginning of May until the very end of June, I lost about ten pounds using the elliptical. I was a beast on that machine, I don’t mind saying. It kicked my ass at first, but I kept at it until I started doing an hour every day, averaging about 8 miles. Impressive, no? I was quite happy with the results, but something was still missing. While I was getting toned and fit, the weight I wanted to lose remained in place. 

The first week of July came, and with it my depression returned full force. Not only was it Canada Day, my one year anniversary of moving, and the Fourth of July (all very hard holidays for me), but I also received my green card. It was an emotional ride, and one I dealt with by overeating at every BBQ we attended. I gained 5 pounds back.

By Monday July 8, I’d had enough (enough excuses could really be my motto for the second half of this year, eh?) I spoke to my mum for quite a while (have you noticed a lot of my epiphanies and changes come from speaking to her? SHHH, don’t let her know. It’ll go to her head), and decided to try Weight Watchers with her. Since I’m far too poor (and just plain cheap) to officially join the group, I set out to find everything I needed online.

Since July 8, I have lost….17 pounds. That, combined with my previous elliptical workout loss, I’m at 22 pounds lost and counting! I’ve also lost 3 pant sizes. By sticking to the points system and adding my workouts (I'm now at 9 miles for an hour), I’m supposed to lose 2 pounds a week. So far I’ve stuck to that and lost more, actually. Even with ten days of overindulging at the beach, I’m still on target.

Powell sleeping in the spare room while
mommy works out. 
The reason I like Weight Watchers (WW) is because it’s not a diet, which I don’t believe in. If you take away all of your favorite treats, you’re guaranteed to gain all of that weight back when you go off of the diet. I needed a lifestyle change, and WW has shown me the way (hah, cheesy I know). WW allows me to eat what I want; I just have to have it in moderation. For example, yesterday I desperately wanted an Oreo Blizzard from DQ. I figured out how many points it would be and carefully planned out my day so I could have the ice cream. By planning ahead of schedule, you can figure out what you can eat that day and what you can't. If you know you’re going to a BBQ on Friday, you can be extra good on Wednesday and Thursday.

It does take a lot of work and pre-planning, but I’ve found it has saved us money as well. By knowing what we’re eating for the week, we can make our grocery shopping trips quick and painless.

So there you have it. I want to lose a lot of weight (I don’t want to be skinny or anything, because I simply don’t believe I have the right body type for it), but I do want to be healthy, especially with children (hopefully) in our near future. I should be at my goal by mid May 2014. So far I’ve kept it up. I plan on doing updates every few weeks or so to keep you informed (and to keep me on track). 2 pounds a week isn’t so scary when you look at the bigger picture. I can totally do this.

Have you guys ever done elliptical or Weight Watchers? As writers, we have to be careful to get enough exercise—what do you do to keep yourself active?

Friday, August 23

Links of the Week

History:

--Researchers believe they have found Alfred the Great's bones! by Meredith Bennett-Smith. Check it out!

--Tunnels explored under Hadrian's villa outside Rome by Tom Kington. I've always been a bit obsessed with Hadrian, so this was a very interesting article!

Entertainment News:

--Ashton Kutcher reveals his first name and talks to teens about hard work and generosity. I'm not a huge fan of Ashton, but he gained some points here with me. His speech is wonderful.

Writing:

--Ten Reasons Why Women Love Romance Novels via Jena Lang. Love this list!

--So You Think You Can Write hosted by Harlequin. A friend pointed this contest out to me. Not my thing, but I thought I would pass it on!

--25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author: Lazy Bastard Edition by Delilah S. Dawson. This was one of my favorite articles of the week, so much so that I've printed it out to carry around with me.

--25 Humpalicious Steps for Writing Your First Sex Scene by Delilah S. Dawson. I adore this writer. Her articles make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts.

--Romance, gender, and the measure of a 'real' book by Joyce Lamb. I really liked this article. For some reason, those who read and write romance are still thought of as "lesser".

Book News:

--32 Books That Will Change Your Life by Erin La Rosa. I've read many of these books, but I can think of a few others that deserve to be on this list as well.

--10 of Literature's Most Unreliable Narrators by Alison Nastasi. I'm pretty satisfied with this list, having read most of them in university.

--17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand posted on BuzzFeed. Seriously, only book lovers will understand the pain here.

Random Stuff:

--Book Shoes! by Maggie Rus. Omg, I want to do this. I think I will do this!

--Aqua Notes -- Waterproof Notepad. Yes, you read that correctly. These are notepads you can use while in the shower. Husband of mind, are you taking notes? (Ha, pun totally intended). This would make a great stocking stuffer!

Thursday, August 22

FATE FORGOTTEN by Amalia Dillin: COVER REVEAL & BACK COVER BLURB!


Since the gods returned Adam's memory six hundred years ago, Thor has been a scourge on his lives. But when Adam learns that Thor has been haunting his steps out of love for Eve, he is determined to banish the thunder god once and for all. Adam is no fool: Eve still loves the man she knew as Thorgrim, and if she ever learned he still lived, that he still loved her, Adam would lose any chance of winning Eve to his side, never mind liberating the world. But after everything Thor has done to protect Eve, everything he's sacrificed, the thunder god won't go without a fight. Not as long as Eve might love him again.

Which means that Adam has to find a new ally. The enemy of his enemy, complete with burning sword and righteous resentment of the gods. But in order to attract the Archangel Michael's attention, he needs Eve -- an unmarried Eve, willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

It shouldn't be too difficult to find her in the future. Not now that he knows how to look.

FATE FORGOTTEN will pick up where FORGED BY FATE left off with Thor, Eve, and Adam! In the meantime, don't forget to add it on Goodreads, and you can learn more about the series and the individual titles over at World Weaver Press, or at www.amaliadillin.com.

You can also find Amalia on Facebook and Twitter

Release Date: November 5, 2013

***

Isn't the cover absolutely gorgeous? I imagine that's Adam and Eve--HAWT. I'm a Thor girl myself, but I'm slowly being turned into an Adam fan (which will please Diana Paz to no end *winks*).

Anyway, I LOVED the first book, so I can't wait to read this one!!! If you haven't bought FORGED BY FATE yet, you totally should. Seriously, it was fascinating to read!

Wednesday, August 21

The Monster at the End of this Book: An Epiphany



Yesterday I mentioned my new outlook on life. Today I'm going to discuss what brought about that change.

For a few months now I've been in a bit of a rut creatively. I'm just not motivated. I will always find a reason not to write. Luckily (or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look at it), I have many valid excuses: my arms hurt, I miss Canada / my family / my friends, my arms hurt (because, really, it's a huge one for me), or I'm stressed out about _____ (you fill in the blank, I'm sure I've used it at some point).

And then one conversation changed everything.

I was talking to my mum about my lack of writing (something I do far too often, I'm afraid), when she mentioned one of my favorite books from childhood: THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK starring LOVABLE, FURRY OLD GROVER by Jon Stone. At first, I had no idea what she was getting at. How was a Sesame Street book relevant to my life as an adult? I asked her what she meant, but she was surprisingly tight-lipped about the entire thing. She told me to find it and read it for myself. So of course, I did. What I learned shocked and embarrassed me.

For anyone who hasn't read the book, you should, but for the point of this post I will give you a brief overview. Grover is terrified to learn that there is a monster at the end of the book, so he begs the reader to stop turning pages. When the reader keeps going, he comes up with entertaining obstacles to keep them from reading any more. When the last page finally arrives, however, Grover learns that the monster at the end of the book is Grover himself.

Adorable, huh? I thought so. I loved it as a child, and not much as changed in the years since then.

Of course, my mum's point is crystal clear to me now, so much so that that I carry around the book in my writing portfolio as a reminder. This lesson was one I desperately needed to learn: 

The only monster at the end of the book is you.

The message hit home for me, in more ways than one. I'm my own worst enemy. I always knew this, but a Sesame book made it click. I can say my inner editor is an evil, conniving bitch, but in the end I'm my inner editor. By making it sound like someone else, I push the responsibility away from myself. In reality, it's all on me and always has been. I'm the only one stopping myself from finishing. I'm the monster throughout the book, not just at the end. It's time for me to own up to my mistakes and push past the obstacles I've placed in my way. If I don't, I'll never succeed.

Please Note: The title of this post could also read: "Mother's Are Always Right" and "Children's Books Are Still Relevant at Age Twenty-Three"

Tuesday, August 20

Enough Excuses

Hello all, 

I know I don't post here very often, but I'm hoping to change that. I've decided to jump back into writing full time. Enough of this crap. I want this story finished, damn it! To achieve this, I'm making some changes around here. 

First and foremost, I'm going to start my days off by writing blog posts. I'm not going to attempt to make them pithy or entertaining, so I apologize in advance. I'm simply going to write about whatever topic my tired morning-brain feels like discussing at that moment. I've never liked writing prompts, which a lot of writers use to get started in the morning, so this is my alternative.

Secondly, I am actively looking to join an RWA Chapter in my area. Since everything is 3+ hours away, this is a big endeavor. I'm hoping to pick one soon, so I can attend their September meeting. I need face-to-face interaction with other writers. I just need it. I think it will help inspire me to keep my fingers on the keyboard.

And finally, the most important point: I WILL WRITE THIS DAMN BOOK. I want to have a second book written by my 24th birthday (December 21st). University, surgeries, moving, and a wedding took up my time over the past 3 years, which I don't regret. They were necessary things that needed to be done (and I'm proud of what I've accomplished in life so far). But I'm sick and tired of my own excuses when it comes to writing. Enough is enough. I have the time to write and finish this story, so enough excuses! Let's get 'er done.

Monday, August 19

Anniversaries

August 18, 2012

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my marriage to my best friend. I know I haven't shared our story on here, but I will one day. Suffice it to say, we've been through a lot. Long distance relationships aren't easy, but I'm going to go on the record here and say that I think they can be more rewarding if done correctly. My husband and I dated for six years before we got married. Through it all, we developed amazing communication, trust, loyalty, and most of all, a wonderful friendship. We had to talk about everything, because that's all we could do. We learned to cherish the times we were together, because we didn't know when we'd see each other next.

After this year, I can honestly say I'm more in love with him than ever before. A lot of people claim the first year of marriage is the most difficult, but I always thought that was a load of... Well, you get the picture. As my husband's Pawpaw said, "If the first year of marriage is difficult, you shouldn't be married."

I couldn't agree more.

Along the same lines, today is also my parents' wedding anniversary, and tomorrow is my in-laws'. Yes, we made it super easy for all of the men in my family: August 18, 19, 20.  Funny enough, it's in order of age, so it's even easier for us to remember (and by "us" I mean the men, because the women will never forget).

It's a lovely time for our family, full of love and friendship. I'm proud of this past year, and I'm grateful for my parents who taught me what to do and what not to do *winks*

Here's hoping the next year is even better!

xoxo

Tuesday, August 13

Tempting Fate by Amalia Dillin is out TODAY!



That's right, folks. Amalia Dillin's next installment in her FATE OF THE GODS series is out today! This is an e-novella featuring Mia, Abby's baby sister. If you haven't read FORGED BY FATE yet, you need to do it ASAP! Trust me, it is worth the read. If you'd like to know my thoughts on the book, I've posted a review on Amazon and on Goodreads. Check it out!  If you have read book one (in which case, *high five*), go forth and buy this novella!!

Thursday, August 1

August Releases



The Redemption of Callie & Kayden by Jessica Sorensen--August 6th
New Adult Romance


Caught Up In You by Roni Loren--August 6th
Erotic Contemporary Romance


Tempting Fate by Amalia Dillin-- August 13th
Mythological Fantasy


No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean--August 27th
Regency Romance
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