Happy Friday, everyone! How are you doing this week? Anything planned for the weekend?
I’m slowly getting back into a regular writing and blogging routine–and I’ve really missed it. My day job kept my life pretty stressful and chaotic for a while, but I also know it was an utter lack of motivation at the end of the day that contributed. I HAD time, I just chose to be lazy with it, because I was so mentally and emotionally drained from everything else going on. Things are a bit less hectic now, but I know if I want to use the precious free time I have wisely, I’m going to have to make myself do it. My life is not going to go back to the way it was before, at least not for the foreseeable future.
Is it any wonder we escape into fantasy worlds?
Last night I attended the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, which honor works that explore themes of racism and diversity. I went with a friend (the woman who is the subject of the top blog post on that page) and it was such a great experience! It was really interesting listening to the award winners talk about their books and read passages from them. I met Shane McCrae and got an autographed copy of his book of poem and prose In the Language of My Captor. I’m eager to start reading it!
On my personal writing front, I’m awaiting edits on my current in-production book (with tentative, possibly-to-change release in November) and writing the sequel to it. I’m going to do something with my upcoming book that I haven’t done before and see how it turns out–and of course, I’ll make sure I share the experience on here so you guys can learn more. I’m going to use a PR service to promote it. I struggle with self-promotion beyond the obvious outlets (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) and I want to find out if it’s worth the money to hire someone else to promote it. If not, well–lesson learned. However, I feel like I can reach a wider audience (and of course, spend a lot less personal time doing so) than I can by myself. I’ll be sure to blog about the results after. Have any of you used a PR service to promote a book?
I know I’m a few days late, but autumn has officially arrived in the northern hemisphere: my favorite season! I fully admit I’m one of those people who is all about fall leaves and colors, sweaters, fires, and pumpkin spice/apple flavored/scented EVERYTHING. And of course, Halloween! I love all the imagery and trappings of fall. I do like spring and summer too…basically, anything that isn’t winter.
I’m a bit of a freak about decorating, also. I swear I decorate as much for fall as I do for Christmas. You can click the pictures for full-size!
Do you like fall? Do you decorate for it?
Once again I must apologize for my lack of posting lately–I’m going to try to work my way back up to three posts a week. I’m trying to get back to a regular writing routine, as well. Real life is too distracting! But clearly, I have time to decorate. 😉
Happy Monday everyone! I’m popping onto the blog with some good news today–I had another book accepted for publication! Somehow, in the midst of my currently chaotic life, I managed to get another book published (granted, it was submitted back before things got truly chaotic). This is lucky number 13 for me. I can hardly believe it! After years and years of being utterly convinced I’d never be a “real writer” I’ve accomplished so much it boggles my mind. 2018 has been the most successful year for my writing career so far.
So, can I be rich and famous now?
I kid, I kid. I just feel very grateful and blessed that I’ve managed to do as much as I have, and I’m going to continue working at it, even if I never get to quit my stressful day job. I’d keep writing even if I never made another dime from it. I love writing, and I love doing it for the sake of doing it.
This book is the first in a new paranormal series set in…wait for it…Iceland! I’m still working on my contemporary Man Catalog series, but paranormal romance is my first love and I knew I’d come back to it eventually. I’m just trying to vary my writing a bit to keep my mind sharp and I’m having a lot of fun with it, as well. Still, I knew the spooky things would draw me back in.
The funny thing about this book is I wrote it BEFORE I went to Iceland this summer. The country and the scenery plays a huge part in the story, and I literally described it and created the settings by using the imagery in Google Maps. I finished the book and sent it off before we went on our trip, or literally, before we had even solidified we were going on the trip. So when I got to Iceland I was like “oh please, don’t let the stuff I described be utterly wrong.” I was amazed to find all the sites I used were absolutely spot on in their descriptions–it was almost eerie. I felt like I had been standing in those places before, even though it was my first time there. Google Maps is a godsend! The power of technology is amazing. I’m also a very visual writer, so just seeing a picture helps me tremendously.
Anyway, the book is tentatively set for release in November–I’ll keep you updated! Everyone have a great day!
I must apologize again for the long pause between posts. As I explained in my IWSG post this month, my day job has been putting me through sheer helllllll. However, I finally, FINALLY think there might be a return to normalcy in my life, and while I’m still working a lot I actually get *gasp!* days off now, and a sorta-consistent schedule. I know it sounds awful but it’s also a temporary situation due to several people leaving the company and me being the only one left with the training/knowledge to get us through until the replacements are settled in. This is why they tell you to never be too useful. 😉 Hey, at least the pay is good?!
ANYWAY, as you might remember, I DID get a break when I went to Iceland for five wonderful days at the end of July! It was truly a dream vacation and I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more. It was everything I’d ever expected it to be and so, so much more. There is truly nowhere I’ve ever seen in my life that compares to Iceland–the landscape, the people, the culture, all of it. Would you like to see a whole bunch of pictures? By the way, if you click on any of these pictures you’ll get the full size so you can see all the details!
I went with my best friend, and it was a direct flight from where I live (Cleveland) to Reykjavik. Six LONG, grueling hours on a plane. Oy. It was worth it, though. TRUST me.
WARNING: This post is VERY image-heavy.
I’m on the right. I’m just going to call her BFF for the sake of this post because she’s a private person and doesn’t want to be in the “spotlight” (I promise I’m not so famous she has to worry, though!). So no names.
We arrived in Iceland on Wednesday, July 25th, which was my 43rd birthday! We had this trip quite planned out day by day, so the first thing we did after we landed was go to the Blue Lagoon. On the way there (via bus) I got my first taste of Iceland and was thoroughly dazzled. It’s like another planet.
We got our first glimpse of the Blue Lagoon after this amazing ride through the desolate countryside. You’ll hear people scoffing at the Blue Lagoon for being a “tourist trap” and “not natural” (it’s the result of an industrial accident, not a natural hot spring) but you should tell those people to take the stick out of their behind and enjoy life.
The Blue Lagoon was AMAZING. We got silica and seaweed facials, but I failed to take pictures of it. Still, I’ll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves.
We spent about three hours in the lagoon, and then had dinner in their AMAZING restaurant, called Lava, which looks out on the lagoon.
This was only OUR FIRST DAY in Iceland, and we then took a bus trip after the lagoon to Reykjavik where our hotel was. We stayed in a place with apartments that vary in size/amenities based on required length of stay. Ours had a cute little kitchen that we swore we were gonna use to save money but instead we ate out every night. 😀 We saw more amazing landscape on the way:
Our hotel (these are actually pictures from right before we left on the last day (apart from the outside shot) when it was clean and we were packed, because I don’t want you to see what unholy slobs we are with our stuff everywhere:
Although it was late in the evening and we’d been awake nearly 24 hours at that point, we simply HAD to go out and explore the city a bit. In the summer there’s no nighttime in Iceland, so this is what midnight looked like (this was also from another day). People asked if we had trouble sleeping. I assure you we did so much stuff every day we had no problem, also as you can see above our hotel room had thick curtains.
We went out and saw Hallgrímskirkja, which was near our hotel (I even learned how to say it properly before the end of the trip), the tallest structure in Iceland. A few of these pictures are from the next day, because I feel I got much better pictures of it in the full light (also interior pictures).
I think we fell into bed sometime around midnight Reykjavik time, thoroughly exhausted. But my God, it was the BEST birthday of my life, and one I’ll never forget.
We had a tour of Reykjavik planned the next day (we both love cities) but first we walked down to the bay by our hotel. Reykjavik is a VERY small city, by the way. We honestly probably could have walked around it and seen most of the stuff. What it lacks in size it makes up for in majesty, though. The day was bright and sunny and the views were unbelievable.
As I said, we went on our city tour after that and for some reason we were very happy to be on a dock. Also as you can see, the weather was VERY changeable as we started the day with sun and blue skies. It also rained A LOT, every day.
Our tour guide took us to this small, amazing, out-of-the-way park as a treat and it was wonderful!
So, after our tour that day, I had plans. I was so excited because one of my FAVORITE Icelandic singers, Hreimur Örn Heimisson, was supposed to play at American Bar that night in downtown Reykjavik (yes, American Bar!) and I thought never in my life would I get to see him play…well, I didn’t, because he couldn’t make it. However, one of his fellow musicians who I ALSO love, Matthías Matthíasson, played instead and I was still pretty damn happy about it. Please do listen to his amazing voice in this video (the guy in the hat on the right is the guy I HOPED to see, but that’s okay). He even asked me for a request and I asked him to sing the song in the video–and he did!
The next day was a “free” day for us as we had nothing planned, so we decided to walk around Reykjavik and shop. We were a WEE bit hungover from the American Bar and the strenuous bar tab we rang up (booze in Iceland is outrageously expensive–take my advice and don’t drink there) so we went and had this amazing meat soup in a bread bowl.
We then went to the top of Hallgrímskirkja and saw Reykjavik from above!
We then went and had some authentic Icelandic food, including hákarl, which is an Icelandic delicacy–fermented shark, and supposedly one of the worst things you can put in your mouth, so of course I had to try it. I’m disappointed to say it did not live up to the hype. It has a strong ammonia smell if you put it REALLY close to your nose (like almost up your nostril), but the taste is unremarkable. The server made a big deal of it when she brought it but I suspect she was playing it up for us tourists. I was too polite to tell her we didn’t think much of it, in case she was offended.
We spent some of the rest of the evening at The Lebowski Bar, which we were already becoming regulars at. Posting these pictures on Facebook made many people on my friends list freak out, but I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen The Big Lebowski. (Remember what I said about their obsession with American culture? They also have a Chuck Norris bar.)
We managed to become regulars at not one, but two bars while we were there. This place was called Koffin (caffeine) because they also sold coffee and we hung out there several times. Also it’s after 10pm in this picture!
Street hot dogs (pylsur) are very popular there too. They’re usually served with onions but I despise the very existence of onions so I got mine without. They’re not quite like American hot dogs as they’re made of lamb and much heartier.
The next day was hands down the best day of the trip. We took a tour of the Golden Circle and south coast that lasted all day! Incoming is a million pictures (and some video) with explanations:
As you see BFF showing off here:
And then we saw a GLACIER and I’m still so stupidly excited about this. The white bit above the mountains isn’t part of the sky but a glacier (do click on these and look at them in full size!). I also learned something that day when I posted the picture on Facebook and one of my friends asked if there was audio of it. I was like “It’s a glacier, it doesn’t have sound?” Turns out glaciers DO make noise, as they crack and shift. But we weren’t close enough to hear it, sadly. Also they do glacier tours in Iceland where you can hike across them. Reasons to go back…
We visited Goðafoss next. “Foss” is the Icelandic word for “waterfall” so you’re going to be seeing it come up a lot:
Next were the thermal pools and geysers. One of the most awful/hilarious facts about the huge geysers is that one of them is blocked because humans kept throwing rocks in them trying to get it to erupt, and now it’s clogged. Isn’t that just us?
We continued along the south coast and I couldn’t get enough of the scenery.
We went to Skogafoss next, which is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland. You need a video to appreciate it.
Our next stop was Reynisfjara, the black sand beach. It was the #1 thing I went to see and it didn’t disappoint even slightly despite the fact it was raining. I ended up taking a volcanic rock home from the sand. This led to BFF telling me the elves were going to follow me home and demand their rock back.
The last stop was Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall you can actually walk behind. It was a treacherous climb but–I’ve honestly never had a more amazing experience in my life. It was nearly holy. I can’t even tell you how exhilarating it was.
It was an AMAZING day. The next day, our last day there, we didn’t do anything too remarkable before going to the airport, but we had some good food:
Me saying goodbye to Iceland as we waited for our ride to the airport!
It was such an astounding trip.
If you have any questions for me about the trip/the culture/what it’s like there, feel free to ask! And thank you for sitting through ALL this!
It’s Friday! Which doesn’t mean much to me since I work on the weekends, but I hope some of you get to enjoy it. 😉
Here’s the thought for today: what do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’m not otherwise creatively inclined, which is strange and unfortunate because I know so many other creative people with multiple talents. But I can’t sing, draw, play an instrument, or do anything remotely creative otherwise. Perhaps I can act, but I haven’t done any of that since high school plays. I guess I’m just happy I can write. If it wasn’t part of my life, I don’t know what I would be doing instead…maybe something in the writing field anyway, like editing or being an agent.
What do you think you’d be doing instead of writing (outside of your current ‘day job’ if you have one, of course)?
This week in my world, my job is settling down a bit, though my schedule is going to change soon. It’s a welcome change, though. I’m eagerly awaiting my vacation in Iceland next month, as well! I’m really going to need it. Writing-wise, I have a new book coming out on June 27th, I just submitted another one, and I’ve started writing a new one, so the writing train is chugging along. One of these days, one of these days…maybe no more day job!