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Cover Reveal of Running In Snow-A Holiday Novella

I know, autumn has just begun and in many places, it still feels like summer. At least it has here in Atlanta with ninety degree temperatures. But the Holiday Season is right around the corner and this year, I have a Holiday Novella release!

It’s called Running In Snow, and that is the cover in the featured photo. Elle at EJRDigital Art did a fantastic job at capturing the mood of these two heartwarming yet emotional holiday tales. Release date is November 7, 2017, and it will be available for preorder in October, date TBD.

Full disclosure here—I never had the desire to write a holiday story, or even short stories for that matter. But this is proof that writers can get inspiration from anywhere. The idea for the first story, Noelle’s Promise, hit me out of the blue. I read a blog post (sorry, I cannot recall the author) about writing holiday stories, and the idea came to me—what would happen if someone who didn’t celebrate the holidays was in a situation where they had to? Why would they not want to celebrate? How would that play out?

I guess it may be an unusual twist, but that seems to be what I do. If you’ve read my Higher Elevation Series, then you know I come at subjects from a different angle sometimes. These holiday stories are deeply emotional, and my characters go through some real soul searching. But they end up on a happy note.

Here’s the cover copy for Running In Snow:

Two heartwarming tales of love and redemption. And snow.

Noelle’s Promise

Does your past define the future?

Noelle has one cardinal rule─never, ever celebrate the holidays. But now she’s promised to spend them with her boyfriend, Logan, and his extended family. As the festivities begin, bad memories surface. She manages to suppress her anxiety and join in the celebrations, until an unexpected incident sends her fleeing into the night. Can she overcome her past before it ruins her future?

Eve’s Hope

Can a holiday be unlucky every year?

When her heater goes out in the middle of a rare Atlanta snowstorm, reclusive Eve accepts the invitation to her handsome neighbor’s party. Expecting to be bored to tears, she encounters a few surprises before the countdown to midnight begins. Can she survive just one New Year’s Eve without her bad luck kicking in?

 

I’ll be posting soon when more information becomes available. Until then, you can follow my Amazon Author Page for updates:
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01M4IHA1A

Or follow my Goodreads Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15611048.Renee_Regent

Or subscribe to my newsletter. They got to see the cover a few days ago, and enjoy exclusive content, and giveaways. You also get your choice of up to FIVE FREE mini-ebooks just for signing up:

http://www.reneeregent.com/newsletter-sign-up

And you can also get excusive news and giveaways for being in my Reader’s Group on Facebook, Renee Regent’s Readers. Message me and ask to join:

https://www.facebook.com/Renee-Regent-Author-1625365841109181/

 

I’ll be sharing this cover reveal on social media and would greatly appreciate any likes, shares, retweets, etc. I am so excited to share these stories with you! Thanks again as always, for your support.

May I be the first to say, Happy Holidays!

 

 

The Latest Internet Challenge- Unplug!

Have you ever participated in an internet challenge?

Every so often, one goes viral across the internet, such as the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and donations for ALS a few years ago. There have been many others whose purpose was a good cause, such as the 30 day push up challenge for fitness, but some internet challenges are just plain silly or even dangerous, like snorting cinnamon or eating ghost peppers. Or they are just for fun, like staging a video where everyone stands frozen in place like mannequins.

Uh, okay….

Since it seems like we are running out of ideas for worthwhile challenges, I have a suggestion. I successfully executed this particular challenge last weekend, and I highly recommend it. Ready?

I stayed off the internet for an entire weekend.

Renee Regent, Unplugged

I not only survived, I totally enjoyed it. It felt better than I expected, and my stress level decreased dramatically.  So what drove me to do something so drastic as to unplug completely?

First, this has been a crazy (in a good way) year for me personally and professionally. My day job/business enterprises went through significant transformation, and I am still in the process of working all that out. I have been trying to sell my home and move, with all that process entails. I also launched my first novel last month, the first of a 3 book series, so all that goes into an indie produced work was added to my workload (editing, formatting, covers, promotion, etc.) I asked for all of this, so I am not complaining. But where social media might have been an escape of sorts in the past, lately it has become inundated with political views, news, and posts about important causes. I am not giving an opinion on anything in particular, just saying what used to be mostly social has now become nonstop ads, articles and opinions. Since social media is integral to my businesses, and I also use it personally, I am on it for a good portion of each day.

Maybe it was all of this on top of post-election fatigue, but I woke up one morning and I simply did not want to deal. With anything. I had a mile long to-do list but could not bring myself to care about any of it. I am not prone to moodiness or depression, but I had no mental energy left. My husband was worried, because it was unusual for me to be in such a funk. So he suggested we go away for a short weekend trip to the beach (which is unusual for him, because he hates to travel). After much resistance, I gave in, thinking maybe I did need a break. But he had one condition─I must agree to unplug for the entire weekend.

How To Let Go

Normally, I am on my phone/ipad/laptop constantly. The internet is such an integral part of our daily lives, and it is tremendously convenient. So the idea of staying off the internet sounded difficult at best, but here’s how it went:

We had our phones with us, and only checked periodically to see if there were any missed calls or texts. If anything urgent occurred, we could respond. This way, that sense of “I can’t be without my phone, something might go wrong” was eased. We limited our responses only to emergencies, or to let family know we had arrived safely at our destination (pictured below).

We did not check emails, social media, or any apps.

We did use our phones to take photos. This little guy on our hotel balcony eating crackers from our hands was too cute to pass up.

My husband and I actually talked, laughed, ate, drank and walked all over the place. We didn’t have to tell the world what we were doing minute by minute, and that actually felt nice, more private. Like a secret tryst, the experience was ours alone.

By not seeing what the rest of the world was talking/arguing/complaining about, we were able to focus on just us for a few days. By not checking our phone every five minutes, we paid attention to our beautiful surroundings and each other.

The dramatic “I can’t deal” mind-set was replaced with “I can handle it” as time away from everything changed my perspective.

 

Peace of Mind- at Least Temporarily

I came home feeling refreshed and ready to face the challenges of my life again. The lack of stimulus allowed me to focus on us, and what we were doing in the moment. I put aside all thoughts of my to-do list, and the future. Being in the moment was incredibly freeing.

So here’s my challenge to you. Free yourself for a day, or even longer if you can. Whether you go away or spend quiet time at home, the internet will still be there when you are ready to jump back in.  But do yourself a favor, and take a break once in a while. You might be surprised at what you find.

Have you unplugged recently?  How was it?

 

Outlander Season 2: The Wounds of Marriage

Four episodes have aired of Season Two of Outlander (on Starz network), and so far, the reviews are mixed. There have been varying opinions all over the internet, both positive and critical. But one thing I have noticed is much of it seems to stem from the source material, Dragonfly in Amber, which is Book Two of the series. The second book takes the main characters, Jamie and Claire, through an entirely different phase of their lives than the first book (Outlander). Add to that a foreign location; all the complications of their mission to stop Prince Charles and the uprising; and the fact they are still dealing with the aftermath of Black Jack Randall’s treatment of Jamie. Not to mention Claire’s pregnancy…

 

So What’s Wrong?

To be fair, this is an adaptation, and it is difficult at best to condense such rich material as the Outlander series into a season per book. With the obvious out of the way, I’d like to note a few common themes I’ve heard on various posts about what is making many fans uncomfortable with this season.

“Jamie and Claire aren’t having enough sex!”

“Jamie and Claire are not really together like before.”

“Do we really need to see close ups of all the wounds Claire is treating?”

“Too over the top with the French debauchery (cue the dildo scene).”

 

What I’m hearing is- the honeymoon is over. Well, yes, folks, it is. Jamie and Claire are no longer newlyweds. Once the buzz of newness wears off, real life tends to intrude. You start to see sides of each other that maybe are not so pretty. You doubt each other. You get preoccupied and neglect each other. Sometimes you fight.

But if you really love each other, you find a way back. Jamie and Claire have been together in the books for many, many years, and they have had some great romantic moments and they have also gone through hell, together and separately. That’s what happens in a real relationship, and that is why this story is so enduring. They may be fictional characters but their problems make them seem more real.

As for the French debauchery, well…I guess it served a purpose, too. Whether you laughed or cringed, it certainly added atmosphere.

Maybe Too Realistic?

Claire’s medical skills are an integral part of her character, but I must admit to cringing while reading some of the details of her use of those skills, and I also avert my eyes when they show the more graphic aspects of her treating patients on the show. But those scenes need to be in the story. Life in the 1700’s was pretty graphic, and to gloss it over or cut away would not have the same effect. Even though I did not enjoy reading the medical scenes, they added to my experience of the novels, and to my appreciation for Claire. Diana Gabaldon leaves very little to the imagination, showing all aspects of the lives of her characters, the beauty and the pain. Perhaps this is why so many fans love the series.

Worth the Discomfort

Going through the growing pains of a long term relationship is uncomfortable, but necessary. When the cycle turns, and it always does, it makes the good times even sweeter. Their time in France won’t last long, and much of what happens is a catalyst for what happens later, so if this season is making you uncomfortable, don’t avert your eyes. Pay attention, struggle with them through it. With any luck, we’ll get a season three.

Then their Voyage will have just begun.

Using Negative Emotions As Tools

business woman in front of two roads thinking deciding

Lately I’ve been dealing with a big pile of regret. It sucks when you look back and realize if you’d only chosen Road A instead of Road B, you’d be much better off.

Or so it seems. The truth is, we can’t predict the future (or the winning Powerball numbers, unfortunately). We can’t go back and undo the past, either. All we have to work with is the here and now.

Still, in my case, if I had chosen Road A when I made a major life decision years ago, I’d be quite well off financially. I am doing fine now, and am grateful for all of my blessings, but when I chose road B, I believed I was making the more lucrative choice.

 

The Only Constant is Change

Of course, nothing went the way I expected it to, even though I was quite knowledgeable, I researched the situation to death, and had analyzed it thoroughly. I thought it would be more profitable to hold out and take things slow over time, rather than taking a quick profit and bailing.

What I have since learned, the hard way, is that we cannot count on things staying the same. Change is inevitable. There are so many aspects of life we have no control over. I made that decision way back when partly out of fear- taking Road A would have also meant starting over completely somewhere new, so I opted to stay with the familiar, and convinced myself it would work out better in the long run.

I also made the decision out of greed, which is a form of fear. When we are greedy, it is because we believe resources are finite. The irony is now I have so much less than I would have if I had taken a leap into the unknown and cashed out of my situation. Thus, the regret I have been grappling with. If only I had known!

 

Emotional Toolbox

Since I can’t undo the damage that has been done, I am trying to make the best of what I have. Regret is a negative emotion, and I cannot afford to let it drag me down. So I decided to figure out a way to use my regret as a tool to help me move forward. Instead of feeling sorry over lost opportunities, I need to seek out new ones.

If you know anything about the Law of Attraction (and if you don’t, you should learn about it), you know that negative emotions have consequences. The universe responds to our level of vibration, caused by our thoughts, or what our mind focuses on. Thoughts are almost always accompanied by some level of emotion, which can be either positive or negative.

How can you tell if an emotion is positive or negative? By how it makes you feel.

The Law of Attraction is a process, a way of thinking and behaving with the goal of bringing about that which you desire, but it’s not a magic formula. It takes practice and conscious effort to live deliberately and not simply by default. For more information on what it’s all about, I highly recommend the works of Abraham-Hicks, or Rhonda Byrne. There are many other wonderful books by knowledgeable authors out there, too, which can be found easily by searching online or browsing the New Age section of bookstores.

 

But Does It Work?

So does the Law of Attraction really work? Yes, and no. I say yes because it has worked in my own life, and I have seen real-life examples of it working for others. When you consciously focus on positive thoughts as much as possible, and behave as though what you desire is already yours, things do begin to happen. They may be coincidence, divine intervention, or serendipity. Or maybe you just notice things you would not otherwise, and take inspired action.

I say no because we often sabotage ourselves by giving in to negative thinking and focusing more on what we don’t want, which only brings us more of what we don’t want. The universe responds to what you focus on and brings you more of it, and it does not distinguish between which side of the spectrum it falls on. So negative thoughts, while sometimes unavoidable, should be handled carefully. That’s why I choose to think of negative emotions as a tool to be used, instead of letting them drag me down.

How do I do this? By emotionally detaching myself from the feeling. I am still feeling regret, but I am now looking at it as a tool, which can teach me something. I feel regret because I missed out on something, I let a fantastic opportunity slip from my grasp. Most of the problems that I am dealing with today can be directly attributed to losing that opportunity.

 

The Truth

But regret is only how I feel about the situation, it’s not the truth of it. Just as Road B turned out to be nothing like I’d hoped, Road A may have had problems or surprises that I could not imagine. Maybe there are things I found along road B (like meeting my husband?) that would never have happened on Road A.

So by disassociating myself from the negative feeling of regret, I am able to learn from it. Looking at life objectively without the emotions, even for a few minutes, can help you to get back to feeling more positive. I know I am. Who knows what lies ahead?

 

Have you ever used the Law of Attraction? Does positive thinking work for you?

 

Click on the following links to read other posts I’ve written related to the above subjects, such as the Law of Attraction, how failure is sometimes our friend, and why every situation in life really is a trade-off.

 

 

Psychics in Fiction vs. Reality

Tarot Card And Candle

It’s been said that everyone is psychic, to a degree. But most people don’t use their latent psychic abilities, so the ones who do seem extraordinary. In fact, we are more likely to gain any knowledge or awareness we have about people with psychic abilities from fiction, television, and movies, rather than true life experiences. Though we are fascinated with the idea of being able to use our minds in unusual ways, it seems to be more acceptable as a fantasy than a reality.

Real-Life Psychics

I have met several “real” psychics in my life, so I know they do exist. I enjoy having a psychic reading now and then, and at least half of those turned out to be accurate, meaning whatever they told me was to happen was specific and verifiable. I’m not talking about generalizations that could apply to anyone, but names, dates, circumstances that no one else would know about in advance, including myself! It seems that some people can “read” you, and tap into something where they can tell you what’s ahead. Sort of like a psychic GPS.

An example- after my husband died, I got a psychic reading in Sedona, Arizona (mother of all psychic places to visit). This was actually a friend of a friend, and I did not pay her, we were just hanging out. She tapped into all kinds of stuff that was going on with me at the time, most of which was so accurate got chills. She even predicted that I would remarry, and she also saw a child involved.

I had just started dating again and being childless all my life, was against dating anyone with children or even contemplating marriage (see my earlier post on that subject here). Well, she told me I would meet him within nine months, but it only took six before I met the man I was going to marry- and his son.

Fictional Psychics

So…that is only one example, and I think it is extraordinary when people can do that. But in fiction we must have conflict, and so here are the most common types of psychics used in fiction:

Crime solvers– can “see” where the bodies are buried, find missing children, etc.

Ghost whisperers– can communicate with the dead

Evil psychics– played for the fear factor, abilities used to hurt and /or control others

Comedic– played for laughs, as in Beetlejuice or Ghost (Whoopie Goldberg)

Being a romance author, I am particularly interested in psychics as people; how they interact with others, how it affects their relationships. But the nature of psychic phenomena lends itself to building tension, or conflict, since we don’t know how it really works or why some people have it. It can be used for good but also things can go horribly wrong, and that is what I am looking forward to exploring in my stories.

Have you ever had a psychic experience? What types of psychics do you enjoy reading about?

Why Being a Dad Makes a Guy More Attractive

He's a writer, too? Sigh....

He’s a writer, too? Sigh….

When you hear the words, “Hot Guy” what comes to mind first? Washboard abs? Full, pouty lips? Bulging…uh, biceps?

Yeah, me too. But I have learned something new in the past few years that added to my criteria when fantasizing about the ideal man. Sure, he has to have good looks, but a true fantasy hero has to be much more than just a cute plaything, right?

One of my earliest posts revealed my foray into the world of dating after many years of being married. Being childless myself, I had no desire to date someone who had children. Well, never say never, because you can’t pre-choose who you fall in love with! (Why I won’t watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette). In the end I married a man who had a son, and became a stepmother.

I can only speak for my experience, but what I find attractive about a guy being a father is the fact that he has taken responsibility for his child and his family. Of course, there are many men, and women for that matter, that do not live up to their responsibilities; we hear tragic stories in the news every day. But I am talking about the good ones; the ones who try, whose children are a priority in life. They may not have all the answers, or always do the right thing, but if a guy puts his child’s needs before his own, well, that’s an attractive guy!

It’s the little things they do- playing with their kids, helping with homework, staying up to make sure they get home on time, and telling them they love them, even after the kid has misbehaved or screwed up. A man who knows when to be firm, when to be kind, when to use humor….gets my heart beating every time!

So here’s to all the Dads out there, who are giving it their all. We appreciate you more than you know. Consider yourselves “Hotties”!

And keep up the good work, and have a Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

 

Teach Your Children Well- Kids and Creative Writing

group elementary school students in computer class

Like many writers, I started writing stories as soon as I was able to put sentences together. My Barbie dolls and stuffed animals went on many adventures, and it is only now I realize I was beginning to use my imagination then to build story-telling skills.

Creativity Is Important, Too

It is so important to celebrate and nurture creativity and artistic skills in children. Unfortunately, the Arts are often pushed to the background, or ignored entirely, in favor of learning more practical life skills (Common core math, anyone?). And there is no telling how the upcoming generation will evolve as far as creativity is concerned, considering their increasing dependence on the internet and technology.

Awesome Young Authors

So I was pleased to read an article recently in a local paper where children participated in a creative writing project, called the Awesome Young Authors program. In the program, nine second grade students were paired with High School students who were on the Teaching as a Profession track. Each Friday for two months, they worked together to improve the children’s vocabulary and reading fluency, and to develop their voice as budding authors. Then each young author wrote and “published” their own book (one hard copy was made).

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a link online, but there were many smiling faces in the photos accompanying the article. Once the program was complete, the Awesome Young Authors were driven by stretch limousine to a ceremony at the High School’s Media Center, where a standing room only crowd awaited. They each had a turn to read their books aloud, and were presented with their own “Buddy Book” by their mentors, which included personal encouragement for them to work hard in school, read every day, and to follow their dreams.

One young author was quoted as saying, “I don’t want this day to end, I want to keep being famous!”

NaNo Is Not Just For Grown-ups

A writer friend of mine is also a teacher and she encouraged her class of fifth graders to participate in a version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of last year. Their goal for one month was to write a minimum of 100 words per day. For each 200 words, a sticker was placed on a NaNoWriMo chart, which kept them motivated. The teacher reported that all kids who participated made the goal, completing their stories by month end. She said they also publish a class book from time to time, which includes short stories the young authors have written called Student Treasures, and the kids really enjoy that, too.

Lots of Links

Looking online, I found several links for children who are interested in writing. Scholastic.com has writing prompts, and you can even choose your genre and theme. Stone Soup features stories, poems and art by kids; and Kids On The Net is a sort of Wattpad for kids.

She must be editing....

She must be editing….

These are just a few ideas, and I am sure there are tons of great ways to get kids started. Let them enjoy it, while they are still unconcerned about all the pressures and negative aspects that go along with being an author. There will be time enough for that. But let’s begin with the fun stuff, get their creative juices flowing, and maybe they’ll have a better chance at making their writing dreams come true.

Any further ideas on how to get young writers started?