Weekend Road Trip with Cupcakes :-)

64830_10152730165045230_1913703337_nThis weekend, I got to explore a little more of the state of Florida and meet a TON of wonderful, awesome readers! I was invited to speak at the First Coast Romance Writers meeting in Jacksonville,

Me and Elizabeth Wilson

Me and Elizabeth Wilson

FL., which is kinda diagonal across the state from where I live. When I realized I’d pass right through Ocala, FL, to get there, I knew I had to stop at A Novel Idea Bookstore to do a signing with the wonderful staff there (I had met them at a previous RWA conference).

A Novel Idea is a FABULOUS bookstore (in fact, I think they should add the word FABULOUS in their name. Not just because they serve cupcakes and wine at their booksignings, either. Okay, maybe ESPECIALLY because they serve cupcakes and wine at their booksignings). Honestly, they are warm and friendly and welcoming and I can’t wait to go back. Check out these cupcakes Debbie Barao made. AHHHHHMMMAZING. I wanted to eat all of them but that isn’t really cool when there are other people standing at the table waiting for one. 😉

Me and Debbie Barao

Me and Debbie Barao

She also made awesome carrot cake cupcakes, so clearly, Debbie has mad baking skills!

The booksigning went well–lots of talk about books, shoes, all my favorite things 😉 Here’s some pics (and don’t ask me why I have that weird smile with Debbie, or why I am hanging on her shoulder like some kind of stalker. I think it was because I wanted to stay close to those cupcakes 😉

Me and DJ Kelly Wright

Me and DJ Kelly Wright

If you’re ever in Ocala, definitely stop by their store! They were sooo nice!

Then I drove up to Jacksonville and spent the day talking writing with First Coast Romance Writers. Had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, and made some friends. A great weekend road trip all around (and did I mention DONUTS at the FCRW meeting? I think I’ll have a sugar high for days 😉

Shirley

 

 

 

Tips for Putting More SPRING in Your Step

I love this guest post from Samantha Hunter! I’m a runner, not so much a walker, but I think anything that gets you out and moving around is awesome!

Put More Spring in Your Step!

unexpectedtempationBy Samantha Hunter

We walk pretty much every day, and have since we got our first dog 12 years ago. Actually we walked before that, usually about three miles a day, and having a dog to walk with us just made sense. We have winter gear, rain gear, mud gear, and whatever it takes to get out for our two-plus miles a day, but it’s so much nicer to have the walking path dry and clear and not to have to worry about being run over by snowmobiles. I love walking on new Spring days when we’re likely to see more wildlife – definitely birds, but also turtles, frogs and rabbits, all emerging from the cold months to find food.

So the nicer weather in and of itself is good for making me want to walk more and longer –especially after some winter walks felt like… well, you can imagine. Our trail is not always groomed, so we slug through as much as a foot of snow, as long as it’s manageable for the dog, or we put on trackers to walk over ice and through ruts carved into slush and then frozen – that’s probably my least favorite walk.

But Spring is the season that begs for walking after being closed up all winter. If you don’t walk regularly, this is the time to think about getting out and doing it, before the summer heat, when it’s harder (but still a lovely time to walk). If you’re like us, and you have a dog, you know dogs love their exercise, so taking your dog out is the best possible way to make sure you walk every day. (I advise, if you don’t have one, get one – the best and most affectionate exercise machine you will ever have). J

You can check out sites like this one, The Walker’s Site (http://www.thewalkingsite.com/beginner.html), that will give you good advice and programs for starting to walk regularly. You could also read up, and a book I’ve always liked is Chi Walking (http://www.amazon.com/ChiWalking-Fitness-Walking-Lifelong-Health-ebook/dp/B002XQAAW2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395428904&sr=1-1&keywords=chi+walking+danny+dreyer), though I have to admit, I don’t “Fitness Walk.” We walk, in the dry weather, at a pace of about 3 mph, maybe faster on some days. Now and then we mix that with a little jogging. But you have to do what’s good for you. If you try to work too hard too fast, you are likely to give up. If you want to run eventually, start by walking – and work your way up to it.

Walking is a good option if running is too strenuous or causes injury to you. Running is better for losing weight as a targeted goal, but walking at a brisk pace (this is important – working up to at least a 15 minute mile) will offer similar health benefits without the chance of injury. But the way I see it, walking has a lot more benefits than health: you can think, have a conversation, or simply enjoy and observe your surroundings. You can walk to new areas of your city or try new paths.  You can take pictures and visit with other people on the path instead of running by them. I do suggest finding a safe place to walk, somewhere where you don’t have to worry about being hit by a car or that sort of thing, so you can enjoy your walk, and to do some kind of stretching before and after, as walking can leave your muscles tight.

And Spring is the perfect time to start a walking habit that I hope would see you through the rest of the year – I know I hate to miss my daily walk, and I try never to do so. 

Do you walk daily? Is it something you’d like to start?

Now’s the time! Don’t forget, also, to enter the giveaway! Lots of great prizes below!

Samantha

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The Relationship Between Sweet Romance & Erotica

A great guest post by Barbara Wallace today on the relationship between sweet romance and erotica. She’s a fabulous writer (I TOTALLY LOVED her book, THE HEART OF A HERO) and a great person (and super smart!). Also, this is part of our spring blog hop, so be sure to enter at the end!

Recently Esquire Magazine published an essay by Stephen Marche entitled, “The Sex Scene is Dead” in which he noted that graphic movie sex had become old hat.  This got me thinking, would the same thing happen with romance novels?  Is it happening already?

When Fifty Shades of Gray first came out, the romance writing world went crazy.  Granted, erotica had been around for a while, but suddenly, there was real money to be made in pushing the envelope.  Grab your leather and whip, baby, because BDSM was where it was at.  You couldn’t log onto Facebook or Twitter without seeing at least one reference to domination.

Lately, however, I’ve suspected readers might be becoming less enthusiastic then they were two years ago.  Like with the actual Shades of Gray books, BDSM books have gotten repetitive.  I BarbCoversaw one tweet the other day chuckling over how the characters in a book were shocked by sexual activities that she considered ‘been there, done that’.  And on some message boards, a few readers have complained about BDSM and erotica creeping into their romances.  (Thus denoting an important difference between romance and erotic romance, btw.)  To me, these are subtle signs of reader fatigue.  I predict that, in another couple of years, the erotica boom will decline.  Will it disappear?  Never.  Subgenres might shrink, but they never truly dry up.  But the wagon jumpers – the writers who piled on because there was money to be made – they’ll start to depart, leaving the dedicated erotica writers – the ones who were there all along – to satisfy their readers.

So, why do I, a sweet romance writer, care about the BDSM trend?  Because, my friends, the pendulum swings both ways.  You know how, when you’ve had too much candy, you suddenly want something healthy?  Well, that’s how it works with romance novels too.  After awhile, readers want something different.  At conference this fall, a well known contemporary author commented that she saw a growing interest in sweet romances.  A new trend is coming, and for once, I might actually be ahead of the curve.  I’m looking forward to it.

What about you? Do you think the erotica craze is slowing down?  Do you even care?  Do you think readers will be looking for sweeter, gentler romance? 

Barbara

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