Lessons of COVID-19 for Creatives
What has COVID-19 taught you? Here are three lessons that I have learned.
1. There is no reason to devote a day a week to errands like grocery shopping.
I am now in love with online shopping for everything. Of course, I always shopped online. But COVID required me to go beyond book buying and gifts. I feel so liberated. I can save the chore of shopping to my low energy hours. My best focused hours are now available for my writing and other forms of creating. I will never go back to devoting a day for running errands.
2. Time with your loved ones is time worth planning and cherishing.
Pre-COVID, I wasn’t much of a planner. Somehow, I usually ended up with the people I wanted to be with, but that was often because someone else made the effort of planning that meeting, party, lunch, or visit. Now I’ve learned the preciousness of time with others. I have a new understanding of those who create traditions like Sunday dinner with the family and annual family vacations. Life is richer when I’m with the people I love. It’s worth planning and commitment to make that happen.
3. If you always wanted to do something, then do it now.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed. There is no guarantee that your health or energy or the state of the world will be there to enable or enjoy your goals. So, if you always wanted to do something, find a way to start doing it now.
I knew this pre-COVID. The lesson always hits me hard when I think of those who have passed and never got to their bucket lists. But it rings louder now, when nothing, not travel, not even life itself, is guaranteed.
For me, this means, right now, finishing my third novel. There are some characters of future books in the shadows of my brain, hovering, watching, waiting for me to get to them, too. I will give them words, or I will die trying, COVID be damned!
What has dealing with COVID-19 taught you? How will your daily life be different, after this is behind us, than it was pre-COVID?
Free eBook on Kindle Today
Better Late Than Never - Free eBook all Weekend
It's a long icy week ahead of us. It's a good time for a unique story of a second chance for two single parents, living on the Jersey Shore. Free ebook via Amazon links available until Monday, February 15, 2021, 11:59 PM PST. Take a read and let me know what you think.
Thank you for your support!
The Book Reviews are In
I write because I must. I'm driven by the story that I must tell, to myself first and then share with others. The process of writing is a joy to me, a treasure of existence as an artist. The satisfaction of a printed book in my hand that contains my story is really all that drives me. It is enough. But the icing on this cake of a creation is when positive feedback from readers comes to me.
Today I want to share with you this delicious feast of positivity that my recently released romance novel, Better Late Than Never, has received.
Following are excerpts from Book Reviewers. If you've written a review, please let me know. I'm thankful for all who take the time to share their experience with my books. And I'm also thankful for all who have taken the time to step into the world of Manny and Carrie.
"Austen has created a unique couple in Manny and Carrie. Not only is Manny smart, sensual, and sensitive, he also has strong ties to his family on the reservation in New Mexico. For her part, Carrie is a formidable romance lead who has raised a daughter on her own while making a living as a painter and art teacher. These characters and their history make for rich conflict..."
- Kirkus Reviews
***** "The chemistry and the descriptions of the love scenes are riveting. The author does a fantastic job of describing the heat and desire between the two of them."
-- Book Junkie Reviews
***** "This was a terrific read! Great story overall. I loved the characters. Yes, even opinionated Carrie. They were all quite unique yet went together so well. Manny was my favorite. Wise, gentle, and the type of human this world needs way more of.
There were two things in the novel that totally won me over. Both Manny and Carrie were able to recognize the importance of maintaining one's identity and independence when considering a relationship. I haven't seen a lot of that in stories.
The other thing I really enjoyed reading about was Carrie's art process. I understood how she was feeling as she put her soul into her projects, and I truly felt like I saw these pieces of art come to life."
-- Kerri Davidson, Author
***** "I absolutely loved this story. Manny, Carrie and Emily's family circle had me hooked from the first page. The guilt that Carrie felt and the secrets she kept for so many years, how Manny felt throughout the story through the ups and downs, I felt the perfect connection with these two and I loved reading about how they rekindle their old relationship while juggling their careers and raising their teenage daughter."
-- Natasha C, Reviewer-NetGalley
***** "Such a sweet and romantic story. I loved the dynamic between Manny and Carrie. Emily adds her own brand of teenage drama to keep things interesting. This is a light, easy read but perfect for a lazy day inside with a cup of cocoa. I really enjoyed the Native American history and the artistic imagery."
--From Amazon - Kindle Reader - 5 Stars
"This was a sweet and good read." -- Ivanna C, Reviewer - NetGalley
"I loved how the book was multicultural and how it talked about real life situations and the after effects they can have." --Joy B, Reviewer -NetGalley
Book Junkie Reviews - 5 Stars:
"The book is a wonderful romance novel. It is a book you snuggle up with on a cold, rainy day. It is about a multicultural couple that meet in college and fall in love. Carrie and Manny are young and impetuous, they have their fling and move along. Not so fast! Their passion results in a baby unbeknownst to our hero, Manny, and then the story starts. Manny is a Chiricahua Mescalero Apache native from New Mexico and Carrie is a Jersey girl from the shores of New Jersey. With nothing in common except passion they leave college and go their separate ways.
Fast forward 15 years and Carrie decides to tell Manny about his little girl. At this point Manny is an architect and a college professor. Carrie is a community activist and an artist. Manny works diligently to connect with his daughter and decides to relocate his life and career to be close to Carrie and Emily, his now 15-year-old daughter.
They are still drawn to one another. The chemistry and the descriptions of the love scenes are riveting. The author does a fantastic job of describing the heat and desire between the two of them. Manny who is kind, compassionate and patient is infatuated by Carrie who is loud, bold, and strong. There is a woman from their past who stalks Manny and introduces a haunting cast over their relationship, especially when Manny ends up working for her father as the architect that is to destroy Carrie's home.
Both have secrets that they are keeping from one another. As the story unfolds, the reader tries to figure out what their secrets are - to no avail. Author Austen keeps bringing in switches and twists that keep you on edge.
Working together as a struggling couple trying to revive their relationship and independently being parents of a teenager is not an easy task for any of the characters. Together Carrie and Manny redefine the meaning of love, family, and home.
It was an easy, enjoyable read. I recommend it to all readers who love romance novels."
Book Excerpts and $50 Gift Card
I'm overwhelmed by the support of you, my readers and online community followers, as we celebrate the release of my new book, Better Late Than Never.
Please don't miss a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Today is the last day. I am sponsoring the contest on Rafflecopter as a small way to give back to the community.
Here are some excerpts from Better Late Than Never. Tell me what's your favorite?
She needed coffee. She needed coffee bad. The sun was pouring into the windows, way too bright and cheerful. Carrie heard no sound of Manny, so she put on a robe and crept into the kitchen, as quiet as possible. She could see the couch from her little kitchen. She tried hard not to stare, but the sight of his bare chest above the sheet, his long black hair hanging down across it, made her gasp. It was just a tiny gasp. She hoped he hadn’t heard it. That chest! She turned around and measured the coffee grounds, her hands shaking slightly. There were tattoos on that chest she had never seen. She turned around and took another peek. He was stirring. She looked away again, back to the coffee. Oh, that chest! It needed careful study. There was just so much more of him now. He was so filled out, so much a man. That chest needed to be above her while she studied it. She wanted to feel him against her. She would press her face above his heart.
His hands on her shoulders made her jump and cry out.
He laughed. “Sorry,” he said, letting go as she spun around. “I was just going to say good morning.”
He stopped smiling when he saw her face. She knew she was staring. She knew she was probably, as Emily would put it, pathetic looking, staring at that broad chest, so close to her, she could smell his scent. Pathetic in her flimsy, old ragged torn lace robe, full of holes. Pathetic, because she knew he could see her nipples beneath the lace. Pathetic because she could not stop her hand from reaching out to trace the lines of his bare tats. His skin was hot. So hot, so warm from sleep.
New Paperback Available Now
The rollout has begun! Just in time for #Primeday Better Late Than Never is available in paperback via Amazon.
(In Indie bookstores next week.)
Amazon Paperback link : https://www.amazon.com/Better-Late-Than-Never-Austen/dp/1735819808/
Amazon Kindle link: https://www.amazon.com/Better-Late-Than-Never-Austen-ebook/dp/B08J7KF5MJ/
Bookfinder link to watch as it rolls out into Indie Bookstores:
#newreads #tbr #amreadingromance #romancelandia #multicultural
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER BY ADA AUSTEN
It's finally here! My new novel, Better Late Than Never, is set to be available in Paperback (on Amazon) on October 13th and on Kindle October 20th. It's also set to be distributed worldwide October 13th. That means you'll be able to ask your local bookstore or library for a paperback copy.
YOU CAN PREORDER THE KINDLE VERSION NOW!
What do you think of the cover? The style is inspired by our heroine Carrie, a Jersey Girl artist.
The following is an excerpt from Boardwalk Ice, coming in Summer 2021.
Belladonna had a gift. It was a secret gift that she knew, instinctively, was something to be held tight inside. It wasn’t a treasure to show to the world, like a diamond ring on your finger, like something her mother would flash around. This was a gift to keep in a box, buried in a hiding place so remote that you only went to it, you only opened that door to where it was, maybe once a year.
She chose her birthday as the day to go there. People made way for you on your birthday. They offered you a little more slack on that day. Plus, in a practical way, as a kid, it was an easy day to remember.
On her eleventh birthday, her father, who was just recently home from years in prison, was waiting for her at the kitchen table.
“Happy birthday,” he said. “You’re not going to school today, I’m taking you to the track with me.”
The cigarette smoke from both her mother and father’s spaces was joining above the table, in the grimy kitchen light. Her mother said nothing. Belladonna stood still, watching the smoke, wondering what plan these two little minds had come up with together. She already felt so much older than them.
“Go ahead and eat. Races don’t start till one.”
It was a big plan, for their little minds, she could sense that. He was nervous. He flitted around the kitchen, as she ate the toast she’d made. He made phone calls in the bedroom and would return to the kitchen after each one, his puffs getting faster, his body rocking with nicotine and nerves.
It made her feel nervous too, but she knew how to hide the feelings.
She quietly followed him from the car and was surprised when he led her far from the grandstand, where they had parked, to enter an area marked Stables - Staff Only.
“I’m gonna take you to meet a horse,” he said, still walking quickly. “You like horses, right? Every little girl likes horses, right?”
“I don’t know any horses.”
“I’m gonna take you to meet one. One special one. You’ll get to pet him.”
“Can I ride him?”
He laughed. “No way. Not this horse. I just want you to pet him.”
Her eyes darted to his face. Did he know, her special gift? How would he know?
“Aw, here you are.” Her father walked up to a short man in a shiny jacket. “How ya doin’ today?
Feelin’ lucky today, or what?”
They shook hands. The man in the shiny jacket looked at her slyly.
“This is my daughter, Belladonna. Bella, shake hands with this man, his name is Mr. Shorty.”
She kept her hands in her pockets and stared at the man who reached out to her. He laughed nervously like he wasn’t use to kids. He withdrew his arm.
“Hey kid,” he said.
“Bella, shake hands with him.” Her father was frowning.
“It’s my birthday,” she said to the man.
She heard her father exhale but chose to not look at his face.
“Yeah? Your birthday? How old are you now?”
“Eleven? Seven Eleven. Lucky numbers. Eleven is a lucky number.”
“What do you know about luck?”
Both of the men laughed.
“Shake his hand. Maybe you’ll find out what he knows about luck.”
There was a mad edge to his tone that caused her to reach out her hand. Mr. Shorty took it, exaggerating the shaking. Slowly their two arms pumped in the air as he stared into her eyes.
He didn’t know anything about luck.
“Now, come here. Pet this horse here, this is Catch The Wind. Isn’t he a beauty? Pet him, here.”
She moved to the horse. She’d never been up close to a horse before. Before she touched him, she asked him, inside, if it was okay. His big eyes said yes, it’s okay. She touched him like she’d seen how people do on TV. Immediately, she felt his drive, his hunger, his energy. It was barely containable.
Her father put his arm around her and leaned down to whisper in her ear.
“I think the horse will win if this idiot doesn’t hold him back.”
Her father laughed nervously.
He turned to the jockey. “Just let him go, full out. Can you do that?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’ve got to do that. Right? You got the word. Don’t worry about the others. Just let him go. That’s the order.”
“I’m suppose to believe the Boss got an eleven-year-old girl calling the shots, now?”
“No, no. The word was given before we came. It’s her birthday. I just let her come, that’s all. The order is don’t hold back. Let the others hold back.”
The man nodded. Belladonna held her father’s hand as they walked away. She turned and saw the man staring at her.
Her father was walking quickly and breathing heavy, looking straight ahead. She had to run to keep up. She could feel his nervousness. It was so strong. Fear. This was real fear. But she could feel something else, too, something much stronger.
She tugged on his arm, looking up. “Stop! Stop!”
“Come on. I’ve got to get the bets in.”
She tugged again. “Stop!”
He stopped. “What?”
“Don’t worry so much! Don’t be afraid! It’s ..”
He bent down, looking into her face.
“It’s your lucky day, Daddy.”
The relief he felt hit them both, hard. He smiled like she’d never seen him smile before.
The warmth of his hug surprised her. She felt loved? Deep down, she knew it was his luck she felt, not his love. They were both four letter words. She could choose to confuse them if she wanted. It was her right. It was her life. It was her gift to herself on her birthday.
Copyright 2018 Ada Austen. All rights reserved.
Writing a Novel in #NaNoWriMo
Beautiful books has a link up for authors participating right now in the NanoWriMo.org challenge, to give an update on the status of their novel writing. (Nanowrimo is a yearly challenge to write a complete novel, or 50,000 words of one, during the month of November.) So here's my post on answering their questions, regarding the novel I'm writing called Better Late than Never, second (but standalone) novel in the Native Romance Series.
Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
My mental state is awesome! I'm feeling energetic and excited. This is only day 3, but everything is going better than I expected. The story is flowing out of me, writing itself. I suppose it's because I kept it bottled up for a few weeks, waiting for November. This is the first NaNoWriMo I've done and I think the technique is a good fit for me.
What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
It felt right to be back in Jersey. Standing here near the cold Atlantic, he breathed in the smell of the sea. It was so powerful, the salted air, the loud crashing surf, the relentless shrieks of gulls that flew around him as he stood facing East assaulted all his senses. This place made you prove yourself. He knew it could sense the fear from you. It was just like Carrie, and he was ready for it. He was determined. This time he was going to find a place here, a place to belong. This time, he was going to take it head on. He was going to take her head on. She might have scared him down to his cowboy boots once, but he was just a boy then. Now he was a man, left his boots and hat behind and he was determined to win her over on her own turf – her own beach, her own Jersey Shore.
Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
The man in the above paragraph - our hero - Manny Chattoche. He is the son of the hero in my novel Helping Each Other. So, he comes from a good family. I'm falling in love with him.
What do you love about your novel so far?
I'm allowing myself to write about my true love, which is the ocean beaches where I live. It's a strong presence in the story. I'm a Jersey Girl and so is my heroine.
Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
It was not hilarious, at all. I could not get my novel document opened yesterday. I spent the whole morning trying to get Siri to help me. There's something really odd talking to Siri. I feel like I'm talking to a toddler, rephrasing my requests again and again. I was very proud of myself, how patient I was with her. Finally, I realized I needed to update my LibreOffice app. No thanks to Siri! It was a walk on the beach that helped.
What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
I like writing the beginning, where all the characters are introduced and we get a sense of the story to come. It's like setting out on a journey.
What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best?
No music or radio, I need to hear the voices in my head. I try to write my word count first thing in the morning. When I need a break I take my dog to walk with me at the beach. I try not to think of anything, it's like meditation. When I come home, it never fails, I'm refreshed and ready to write more. Regarding snacks, remember this is November 3rd. I ate way too much Halloween candy on day 1 and 2. Now, I am so sick of it, there's a huge bowl near me and...I've only had 2 pieces today.
How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
I prefer a Batcave. I am actually in the kitchen or on my back porch, weather permitting though. There are incredible colors of Autumn in the trees right now, but I'm staring at the screen instead.
What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
Is this hard? No, this is not hard. I think about all the time I have wasted on social media and realize I'd rather be digging up the stories I hold inside, rather than scrolling posts for hours until my eyes bleed.
What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
1. Leave your fears at the door. Tell them you'll come back for them another day, after the final draft.
2. Write towards a bigger purpose, make the world a better place, because your novel is in it. If just one person is inspired, then mission accomplished.
3. Just do it. Now is the time.
Writing in the Midst of Mistrust
The current political mess clearly shows one single truth we should all be able to agree upon - truth is in the eye of the beholder. One side can't even see the truth the other side sees so clearly. How did we get here? Most important, no matter the election outcome, how can we move on to a better society?
As a writer, I see a need for communication. At the root of communication there must be trust. How do we get there, to a place where we can trust each other? Well, think about it. How did you learn to trust anyone? It is usually through experience, right? One of the main gifts of fiction is allowing the reader to experience something they have never experienced in reality.
So, writers have an opportunity to expose their readers to other viewpoints, lifestyles and cultures. Are you doing this? This is my call for action to writers, to communicate, to enable respect and understanding. Of course we must try hard to write on what we know and not reinforce stereotypes.
We all have different approaches and formats for our fiction. For me, the choice is to write novels that share multi-cultural romances. This is because I believe the ultimate sign of peace is love, respect and trust between two people of two different cultures. That's my higher goal in writing and my daily sense of purpose. Keeping that in mind makes it easier for me to face this land of misunderstanding and write in the midst of mistrust.
Please let me know, do you believe your work is serving to change the world in some small way? Thank you for your thoughts and thank you for your writing. The world needs your book, the world is waiting!
The 5 Best How to Write a Novel Books
I am prepping for NaNoWriMo 2016. This, in English, means I have joined thousands of authors around the world to prepare to write a novel, start to finish, during the month of November. Read more about this yearly challenge at the National Novel Writing Month website - nanowrimo.org
Here's a list of 5 how-to write a novel books I found helpful while writing my first novel, Helping Each Other - a Native Romance and a few that I purchased to prepare for my second novel. I'm sharing the list here in hopes it will help some of my fellow participants in this exciting challenge.
On Writing - by Stephen King
My problem with many how-to books is that they are too often written by someone who is an expert in writing how-to books - not in the actual field. Well, there's no question Stephen King knows how to write a novel. Here he shares his writing habits and motivation. It is a classic, must read for all aspiring writers and an interesting read for his fans in general.
Book in a Month - by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, PH.D.
Subtitled as the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days, I just had to buy this when I saw it last month. It looks perfect for the NanoWriMo challenge. There are guides and worksheets and even a 30 day calender to help pace and ensure you are covering the essentials. Prep work includes the usual character sketching, 3 Acts, etc. I especially like the Setting Goals and Trusting Yourself chapters. As in this quote - "The first step in choosing the right project is to figure out who you are as a writer and what kind of project you want to work on. This means figuring out what you're most passionate about and working that passion into your story.."
Practical Tips for Writing Popular Fiction - by Robyn Carr
Robyn Carr, author of gazillions of books, is definitely an expert on how to write popular fiction. This book stresses the requirements of genre fiction. It goes into detail on exactly how to show instead of tell what you need to in each scene. I would not attempt to ever write a novel without this guide by my side.
Your Book Starts Here by Mary Carrol Moore
I bought this book recently and haven't even finished it. There is so much material, with practice exercises, that it feels like a graduate level course in writing. This book defines the 3 Act novel concept very well. My favorite exercise was to brainstorm what do you want the reader to have experienced by the end of each act. This is really helping me define my book on a higher level, knowing what the purpose of various scenes will be.
How to Write Romances by Phyllis Taylor Pianka
Romance novels are a special genre. This book is a great guide (and one of the few) to the unique challenges of writing a romance. It breaks down the formula and the types of scenes that are found in every romance novel. Romances are all about the characters and this steps you through creating strong characters. It even shows how subplots are managed.
Let me know in the comments below if this list helps you and if you have any favorites to add to it. Good luck on writing your novel! #nanowrimo
Ada Austen writes Romance Novels, crochets and walks on the beach..a lot.