Thursday, December 31, 2020

Let's Kick 2020 to the Curb - C'mon In 2021!


So many things could be said about this last year - and they will be said and analyzed and discussed for years to come - right?  Since January, we've been dealing with a pandemic, worldwide fires, hurricanes and storms, chaos, food (and toilet paper) shortages, quarantines, no hair-coloring, contentious times, cancelled trips/travel, missing family and friends and especially grandbabies, elections, deaths and general mayhem. Yes, 2020 will not be soon forgotten. 

But there were good things in 2020, too. 

The quarantining forced us to be more creative about staying in touch with families and friends (and even school and work). To keep in touch with family and friends, we learned to stream and to zoom and to gather safely if distantly. 

The friends I've traveled to Ireland with - affectionately called The Plucking Monkeys - create fictional song titles from bits of conversations while learning to do zoom calls. I so needed this kind of thing while isolated with only my husband -- and he needed me to do this virtual getaway to give him some time alone, too! LOL!

 We LEARNED TO BAKE BREAD! and other skills, too. We learned how to curbside-pickup. We perfected the art of online shopping and learned the importance of supporting local businesses. 

Performers shared their music and art with worldwide audiences in a way we'd never done. One of my favorite Scottish musicians - Dougie MacLean - began streaming a wee concert several times a week, then twice a week, then weekly since April and he's just done his 66th performance. Many others are doing the same kind of thing - from podcasts, to talks and concerts.  Baking and cooking and drink-making demos abound. 

 And, of course, face mask making. I've sewn since I was about 10 years old, so when the need arose, I got my machine out and found directions and began sewing. For several months early on, making masks grounded me and gave me some tangibly productive to do with all my time. The only time I left my house then was to go to one of my local Joann Fabrics stores and curbside-pickup of orders. By July I had made more than 300 for family, friends and two local senior centers (one my mom lived in before she passed) and my 44 year-old machine died... Got a new one and continue to make masks.


 Personally, after three years of being almost unable to write, the stories began to come back and talk to me. I managed to write a novella and a whole novel this year along with finishing the majority of another one. And, I've brainstormed out a new series with 2 authors and another possible series for myself! So, 2020 was the year my writing got back in gear - though painfully different than I've written in the past.  And, The Highlander's Inconvenient Bride will be an August 2021 release from Harlequin Historicals! 

And now, 2021 is coming in quickly and I am cautiously optimistic about the new year. I wouldn't dare say 'well, it couldn't be as bad as 2020' because I don't want to tempt the Fates into doing anything crazy...but I'm hopeful for the first time in a long time. About life in general and writing, too. 

How about you? Ready to get rid of 2020 and move on? 

I'll do a giveaway here - choosing from those who comment to this post and tell me one good thing they're looking forward to in 2021. I'll giveaway a print copy of one of my books, a facemask, and some other goodies, too.

 So Happy New Year to you and yours - I wish you happiness, health, safety, good times and all the books you need! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

How to Make a Vision Board ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

For those of you who have been around here for a while it will come as no surprise that I stopped making resolutions a few years ago. I don't really believe in resolutions, although I do think they can be helpful for people whose minds are wired that way. My mind just isn't. Making a goal? I can totally do that. Picking out a word for the year? Yep, doable. But resolutions, while they sound good as I'm coming up with them are just not something I can stick with. I'm not quite sure why.

Last year, for the first time, I made a vision board to go in my planner and I liked that a lot. Having a vision of what I want for my career and family that I saw every day? That was really helpful to me in making decisions and saying yes to a few things that came my way. So I decided to make another board this year - only I ended up making two: one for Writer Kristina and one for The Family Knight. I thought I'd share a little bit about how I make a vision board, just in case any of you would like to make one.

First, the supplies you'll need: a two-page spread in your planner (two pages means plenty of space but not too could use a single piece of paper, though, if that suits you better). You'll also need several old magazines, preferably those with lots of pictures. Travel magazines work well, women's magazines, even some kids magazines can be a good choice. If you don't have a bunch sitting around, hit up your local thrift store or call your local library. They usually have tons of magazines that they eventually have to toss...I picked up a stack of about ten magazines at our thrift store for $1. You'll also need a pair of scissors and a glue stick, double sided tape or those sticky tabs that scrapbookers use to tack down pictures. Some fun/inspirational/quote-type stickers would be good, too.

Kristina's 'family' vision board

The next step is simple: you're going to go through the magazines, cutting out pictures and headlines and quotes that speak to you about your vision for the coming year. Do the same with the stickers - pick out a few that speak to you. Maybe there are beach pictures and the beach makes you feel creative. Maybe there are pictures of a small town street and that speak to the settings you choose for your books. Maybe it's a phrase that makes you feel peaceful or excited. Go through your supplies and cut out anything that inspires you or makes you smile or makes you think YES!

When you're done cutting you'll probably have a stack of clippings that you feel is way too big to use, that's okay. Go back through the stack and choose just one image or quote that is your absolute favorite/top of your line. Put it right in the middle of the planner page (or printer or notebook paper, if you don't use a planner) but don't tape it down yet. Just let it sit there while you start going through your stack looking for other images or quotes or ads that speak to you.

You want things to be in different sizes and in some cases you'll just want a little piece of a bigger ad, image, or quote so don't be afraid to cut things down. I tore out a full page ad of a purple night sky with the word 'wonder' on it. I love the whole ad, but I couldn't fit a full page magazine ad on a planner page so I cut around the word wonder, leaving just enough of that night sky there for inspiration. Another thing I did: there was a full-page ad with packs of pens and little notepads. I tore out the entire ad and then cut down the pens and pencils and papers from it. Anything goes, just start with one image and add to that.

Part of Kristina's 'author' vision board

Once you've filled your page with clippings, it's time to embrace your inner tweenager and start taping or gluing things in place. Again, there is no set way to do this so just start with one image and build out from there. Add in stickers as you go, washi tapes if you like them, quotes and headlines. I like that main image to stay in the middle and everything else builds out from that core piece.

When all your favorite clippings are on the page, you'll probably still have a stack of clippings. That's okay. You can keep building your vision board, filling in every single stretch of white space on your page or you can toss them in the trash - after all, they've already served their purpose. They helped you find your favorite images or quotes to build a vision board for the year.

Do you make vision boards or resolutions or goals for the year? 

What's your process like?    ~ Kristina Knight  

Kristina Knight's latest release, Jase, Nevada Cowboys Book 3, is available now in paperback or e-format:

Hot Las Vegas nights get even steamier for these three powerful, wealthy businessmen with cowboy roots and the strong, independent women who fall for them. What happens in Vegas certainly won’t stay there as these successful tycoons win at love.

Jase Reeves lives his life by rules: never get emotional at the poker table and never get emotional with women. But when he meets self-help author Sabrina York all bets are off. Sabrina enjoys fame and fortune writing her female-empowerment books, but she could do without the reputation – that of the Oldest Living (Supposed) Virgin in Vegas. Blowing up her entire life because sexy gambler Jase Reeves has shown an interest in her? Sabrina has already written the book on that, but staying away from Jase isn’t as simple as closing the cover of her favorite book. And for Jase, melting the heart of the Vegas Virgin might be his greatest gamble yet…

Buy Jase: Amazon  B&N  iBooks  Kobo

Kristina Knight is a contemporary romance author, part-time TKD-kid wrangler, and full-time ThinMints enthusiast. You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Sunday, December 13, 2020


In my last blogpost I mentioned being a part of family members' lives even when we're physically on they're not in town. They're a part of it doesn't matter how far apart we...we're never far apart.

Yep, I've had family on my mind.

I've been working on my family tree and discovering more stories. There are so many stories waiting to be discovered. I was reading a book—Memoirs of Grassy Creek—about the county part of my family was from—Ashe County, NC. The author used my family surname and a first name I recognized. I have the same name and the right birthdate in my family tree. But honestly, that side of my family reproduced like rabbits and the recycle so many of the names over and over. LOL So he might be a direct relative, or he's a shirttail cousin. Either way, it was cool to see his name. 

I fell back down the rabbit hole and started research. I found United States Department of the Interior National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet and more mention of my family mentioned in the 112 page report. 

"Settlers to the county came south from Virginia or west from the Catawba and Yadkin valleys. Most were of British or Scots-Irish descent, but German and Swiss ancestry were also common. One of the earliest settlers was Martin Gambill, who was born in Culpepper, Virginia, to parents who had also been born in Virginia. Gambill came to Wilkes County in 1768 and settled on the South Fork in 1778. In July 1780, Gambill, played a prominent role in the Battle of Big Glades at Old Fields, where local troops defeated a detachment of ISO Loyalists. The incident was part of the larger regional contest settled at Kings Mountain in October 1780. In the days leading up to the battle, Gambill made a famous 100-mile ride to Seven Mile Ford, Virginia to deliver a message to Colonel William Campbell. The message alerted the American commander to move his men to Kings Mountain. Gambill was seriously wounded at Kings Mountain, but recovered to become Ashe County's first tax collector and in 1806, as well as the county's' first sheriff. In 1810, Gambill was elected as the first State Senator from Ashe and held that position until his death in 1812."

I'd heard about Martin before. As a matter of fact, I have a print of his ride hanging in my house. His is one of the stories I love.


I think that's what I love so much about the research. Some of the stories are amazing. An Irish doctor marries the daughter of a British aristocrat. They move to the US settle around DC. Two generations later his grandson was a sharecropper. I wonder what happened in the family. And I marvel that their house still stands outside DC. I found a family member who was one of the founders of Brown University. Another one who was one of the original founders of Penn State. I've found immigrants. Politicians. Soldiers. Doctors. Train engineers. Farmers.


I found that one relative was one of the first settlers in the area around camp. As I dug through information about the family, I realized that a road I drive on to get to the cottage was named after family. Then I found his homestead listed and realized it was the corner of my road and the family's named road. I've passed it thousands of times. I could walk there from our place.

So more than stories, connections. Realizing I'm connected to all these people. If they hadn't done what they'd done, lived the lives that they led, then I wouldn't be here. That's amazing to realize. Just how many puzzle pieces had to fall into place to build my life. The life I love.

Stories. They're what I do and they're where I come from! I hope you'll check out some of my Hometown Hearts series. Something Borrowed will be out in January and three more are coming in 2021. Plus two Christmas books are on sale at Amazon right now! Hopefully those stories will make you smile this very strange holiday season!

Stay safe!


If you haven't visited yet, come see what HollysWoods Studio has to offer.

Christmas in Cupid Falls and Everything But a Christmas Eve are both on sale for $.99 for Christmas!

And check out Hometown Hearts:

Crib Notes
: Hometown Hearts #1

A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2

Homecoming: Hometown Hearts #3


Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4

Something Borrowed: Hometown Hearts #5
PREORDER. Available 1/21

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Does Age Matter? by Susan Sands

 Of all the terrible isms out in the world, some are far worse than others. While we're not all directly targets of the worst discrimination, at some point we do experience bias in our lifetimes. Discrimination because of factors we can't control about ourselves is frustrating and terrible. 

Things change as we go through life. If we have acne when we're young, at some point, hopefully, it goes away. Some things get better, and others, not so much. Those stages and experiences shape us for the better or worse.

When we're young, we believe we'll never get old. Looks fade, no matter what. The way we're treated in the job market changes as we age even though technically it's not allowed. As we age, we gain a better perspective about the balance of our life experiences. But our ability to find gainful employment decreases.

As a writer, I believe I'm improving my skills with every book I write. I'm constantly reading books, taking craft classes, and using my life experiences to enrich my stories. But does my age make a publisher pause? Will it? This is theoretical. I worry for the coming years, I guess.

We all want to remain relevant. And we can, given the flow of information all around us. But will be considered relevant. I've watched older people be dismissed as they try to contribute to conversations. It's heartbreaking to see the impatience all around. 

Ageism is age discrimination. And it's rampant in our world. Life doesn't end because we're not cute any longer. Most of us know this, but we are a society that still celebrates youth and beauty. That's okay as long as we can also celebrate age and wisdom. 

Let's be comfortable in our skin and help others to do the same.

Susan Sands