Okay, it’s time to bring back FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Fridays. This is the time I pull questions from my email bag and take a moment to answer what’s been on some readers’ minds.
Why are you holding the AMB Ovation Awards? Don’t we have enough literary awards already?
Yes, there are many literary awards for romance writers but my staff was thinking about the different contests and wanted to turn the whole process inside out. The selection process is completely reader-based and free to enter. And the money normally spent for a big ceremony will go into custom awards, so we’ll have our Angies created by the same company that created awards for the Screen Actors Guild, Nike, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Elle Magazine, and others.
My staff is adamant about having the award ceremony broadcasted via youTube. They hate the idea of a finalist paying for airfare, hotel accommodations, and sitting through a ceremony and NOT winning. So the group consensus is that all finalists can be at their own party with their family and friends when they learn if they won or not. They can cheer or cry surrounded by the people that adore them and understand it’s a wonderful feat just to be nominated by their readers.
We’re working hard to make a big splash on the literary award landscape while having a lot of fun.
When will the third novel in the Sheridan series, Wild West be available to readers?
I’m actively working on it now but I’m sorry to say I hit a point where some research was required so my writing hit a slow spot. But don’t worry, Latrell’s story will be finished before the end of the summer. Then I’ll happily present it to the world.
How do you pick the topics you blog about each workday?
Life dictates the topics; it can be breaking news, a discussion with friends, my writing, or something I’m experiencing in my normal life. Blogging is such a huge thing now in our generation, in just a few clicks anyone can create a blog. To me, blogging is therapeutic; it’s where I am able to write about my feelings, write about issues, introducing others, promoting someone or something.
I enjoy the process of researching and sharing information with others through my blog. I’ve also always been fascinated by people and full of curiosity. I don’t blog on the weekends unless something noteworthy has happened. I also take vacations from blogging whenever I need to regroup.
What your best advice for someone that wants to become a writer?
Write, write, write and learn more about the craft and business of writing. It’s a business, not a hobby to be a novelist. Take the time to network with other authors and be humble enough to know you don’t know everything. Embrace the fact that you don’t know everything there is to know about being a successful novelist but you’ll learn as you go and get better with each passing year.
And remember a lot of hard work takes place in the unpublished years when you’re struggling toward a dream on faith, learning the craft, and all the time scared half to death that you’re never going to make it. Hold on to your dream and surround yourself with people that believe in your dream as much as you do. Even if they are only a keystroke away.
I hear people say all the time, “I’m very loyal when I’m in a relationship” but what does that really mean? To some that means they don’t cheat on the person. To others that means they’re committed but they still have their own group of friends which can include any number of guy/girls. To others, it means you go out of your way to let the other person know that they are your one and only.
Loyalty is earned, and it’s a two-way street. Being loyal means giving a relationship the higher priority. If you care about someone, then be there for them. Be true to them. Do what’s in their best interests. Based on your choice, a relationship will grow—or atrophy. The problem is, most people have many loyalties, including loyalty to oneself. And loyalties can sometimes conflict with each other. So it may be hard to choose one over the other.
The importance of a sense of loyalty transcends beyond just a romantic relationship. It is imperative in friendships as well. A sense of loyalty is keeping your friend top of mind when he/she is going through a difficult time. It is defending him/her if someone makes a harsh judgment, even if that someone is you. It is treating him/her the same in all circumstances, regardless of who is around. It is believing in and encouraging him/her, being supportive regardless of circumstances. It is steadily maintaining your relationship, not diminishing or changing it without discussing together. It is undoubtedly being committed to the relationship and being willing to do what it takes to make it work.
Some people enter into relationships and wonder why things didn't work out the way they expected. They create a situation where they expect to get everything and give nothing in return. This seems like a waste of time for both parties involved. The pure emotion of loyalty can only come from strong feelings of respect for one’s self and for others.
When someone is lacking that quality they usually end up in short term relationships, careers, and marriages. This can lead to a very lonely and solitary lifestyle. Perhaps that's why so many people end up living their life alone in our society. The absence of loyalty can also affect the depth of our relationships that we have with each other.
Even though life is full of outward changes and relationships go through many seasons, loyalty transcends change. Loyalty bridges seasons. Loyalty is proven over time, often in stress-filled circumstances. Think of the words “steadfast” and “unwavering” from the definition of loyalty. There’s a sense of permanency and grit involved in these words. Consider: allegiance, duty, devotion and commitment. These words show an emotional direction. There’s nothing nebulous or unsure in these words.
Loyalty isn't something you can force people to give you. It's something that is developed by being the kind of person people want to be loyal to. The more you put your mate and friends first, and are seen as someone strong and reliable, the more the people around you will want to support you and be loyal to you.
Do everything you can to avoid messing people around, lying or being dishonest because karma always comes back around, especially when there are people looking to give it back to you.
Depending on the person you're talking to, it can be awkward explaining that you and the man in your life aren't married, but happily living together. But how about explaining to someone that you and the man in your life are happily married -- and living apart?
An increasing number of people in marriages, or in other committed, long-term relationships, are choosing to keep their own places rather than move in together. Living Apart Together (LAT) is a term to describe couples who have an intimate relationship but live at separate addresses. Some researchers have seen living apart together as a historically new family form.
LAT couples can pursue both the intimacy of being in a couple and at the same time preserve their autonomy. Some LAT couples may even deprioritize couple relationships and place more importance on friendship. Alternatively, others see LAT as just a ‘stage’ on the way to possible cohabitation and marriage.
Possible advantages of an LAT relationship include:
* He still picks you up for a date
* If familiarity breeds contempt, then having separate places to retreat to means that you're more likely to appreciate each other when you do get together.
* Permanent "his" and "hers" bathrooms
* You get to live around your own stuff
* Different standards of cleanliness aren't a major issue
* Nobody has to give up a pet if the other person is allergic to it
* You have more opportunities for privacy and quality alone time
* You don't have to deal with each other in a bad mood, or when someone's sick
* If you're a single parent with children from a previous relationship, you sidestep the complications of blending a step-family
LATs are already commonplace in Europe: The rate of LAT relationships for women between 20 and 39 who have never married or lived with anyone is 32 percent in France and 47 percent in Switzerland. Until now, data on the trend within the U.S. has been scarce because, on a census report, anyone reporting his own address and no marriage partner would just be counted as single.
But, according to a study out of UCLA, seven percent of unmarried American women and six percent of men self-identify as LATs, and three percent of married couples live apart from their spouse. One reason for the rise? This generation, many of whom were raised by divorced parents, may be more gun-shy about commitment in general. As are some of their elders, who've tried a more traditional route and found themselves back at the drawing board. LAT relationships are also common among the divorced, who, back on the dating market again, find themselves less willing to compromise.
The good news is there's no longer a one-size-fits-all way for two people to be together. Whether you choose to live across the country, two miles apart, or want nothing more than a ring on your finger and one roof over your head, how you define love and commitment is very much up to you.
Now if one of my romance author friends would just write a novel based on a couple with this type of living arrangement, hmmmm...
Past relationships should be left where they are- in the past. People who keep reliving past relationships may fall into the trap of not being able to move on. This can seriously harm or do a lot of damage to current or future relationships.
Although past relationships may give you fond memories of how happy you once were, it should not be used as an excuse why you can’t establish new relationships with other people. People should have to learn how to leave a past relationship behind and move on. The past is something that you can no longer change. You should use past relationships to strengthen and reinforce your current one. But in no way should you try to compare a past relationship or try to bring it back or even relive it. You must learn to let go and move on. Try to keep in mind the lessons learned and be wiser not to make the same mistakes again.
The best way to learn to let go of a past relationship is by telling yourself that it is over. Trying to pine for hope that the past can still be rebuilt will lead you no where but further despair and frustration. Once a past relationship has ended, make sure that you put a period on it and let it go. It may not be easy, but you should be determined enough to do so if ever you wish to establish another relationship with someone.
If you're having trouble letting go, remember these things:
There is life after relationships end.
One day this past relationship will just be something you did once. You'll go on and you'll have what you create.
Get out of denial
Ask yourself, do you really want a new healthier relationship, or are you hanging onto past hurts out of fear?
Stop wasting time
Grieving and anger don’t have a time frame on them, but life does. Whether you realize it or not, life is marching on. There comes a time when you have to accept the fact and say, "I've got to get on with my life, I've got to get on with raising my children, I've got to get on with putting things together where I can be a happy, meaningful, productive member of society." Find a way to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.
Take the catastrophic language out of your mind
"My life is over," "I've lost everything," and "Things are horrible" are labels that can have a powerful impact on how you feel. Recognize that it's factually not true. Your life isn't over, it's just a new beginning for you. Changing the negative tapes that run in your head can change how you physically feel.
Don't waste time with regret of your past decisions
At some point you have to say, "It is what it is." You can't do anything about what you did before; but you can do a lot about what you're doing now.
Be an example for your children
What kind of parent do you think your kids are experiencing when you're sitting around upset at your ex and being absorbed with the past instead of enjoying what is happening in your life right now?
And for those people that need one last time to reminisce about an ex before getting on with their life, here’s a classic jam Love TKO by Teddy Pendergrass.
The AMB Ovation Awards provide honors and recognition of authors’ outstanding achievements in the multicultural romance literary profession in the following categories:
Book Club of the Year Award: Recognizes outstanding achievement for an innovative Book Club that support the AA/IR/Multicultural romance field.
Author Awards (Distinguished Author Award): Recognizes published romance authors who addressed a challenge, problem, or issue facing AA/IR/Multicultural couples today in their romance novels. (Six Categories for Outstanding Author in: AA, IR, Multicultural, Paranormal, Urban Lit, GLBT)
Visionary Award: Recognizes an AA/IR/Multicultural romance author who, through foresight and unlimited effort, has helped add value to the profession by encouraging development, promotion, and networking of authors in their genre.
Academy of AA/IR/Multicultural Fellows Award: Recognizes authors who have contributed to the profession through the advancement of knowledge, leadership, or excellence in professional practice. The recipient is recognized for making a tangible contribution to the marketing of their genre that significantly improved public opinion. (Four recipients per year)
Debut Author Awards: Recognize an AA/IR/Multicultural romance author who has demonstrated strong literary potential and contributions to the genre. The award is designed to both recognize and further the recipient’s professional development activities. (Six Categories for an Outstanding Debut Author in: AA, IR, Multicultural, Paranormal, Urban Lit, GLBT)
May 24, 2013 – Contest opens to submissions.
July 20, 2013 – Email Postmark deadline for all submissions by 11:59PM.
August 22, 2013 – Finalists announced on the AMB website.
December 13, 2013 – Winners Announced via youTube AMB Novels Channel
Readers, Publishers, and authors can make nominations and submissions for all of the categories. Published Kindle entry submissions must be copyrighted between 2011-2013. You can submit a Kindle version of your novel to firstname.lastname@example.org
The AMB staff reserves the right to limit entries to the first twenty-five books or authors received in each category.
With respect to our professional judges, their identities will remain confidential.
Every relationship that you hold in your life acts as a mirror through which you can see yourself, be it your relationship with your parents, siblings, friends, colleagues or your intimate partner. For most people, their relationship with their companion is usually the most challenging because it becomes a “strong” mirror where you will see every facet of yourself reflecting back at you.
A relationship is supposed to be a “celebration” of life, a highly rewarding and fulfilling experience, and it’s up to you to give unselfishly to your mate. Now, there’s a huge difference between really giving to another and giving so you can get something back in return. When we are secretly waiting for reciprocity, it’s nothing more than manipulation. On the other hand, joy is based upon true giving. When we learn to give sincerely, it is almost impossible to be upset or sad. The giving itself is its own return.
True giving means generosity with no strings attached. It's giving your partner something that he would like, not something that pleases you. It means taking time to know the person and being willing to meet his needs. Some people fear giving, feeling that they will be drained or stripped bare. But the opposite is true. The more we give, the more we have. Giving brings a sense of fullness and kindness, the basis for the development of joy. We should take the time to do things that require effort, planning and a little bit of sacrifice. It will show you’re putting the other person first.
Researchers call this "compassionate love"—recognizing a partner's needs and concerns and putting them ahead of your own. It's not just making people feel good; it’s a way of communicating to the other person that you understand what their needs and that you appreciate them.
Small selfless acts between spouses aren't just nice—they ARE necessary. When acts of kindness and caregiving disappear, it is a BIG indication the relationship needs help. And when you’re compassionate to your partner, it increases your own happiness at least as much as the other person's. People who discover ways to regularly show their spouses and partners this kind of love are happier in their relationships.
Think of a loving way to give to your better half today.
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Dr. Phil McGraw says it’s time to learn how the world really works, not how you wish it worked, not how it should work, but how it really works. If you’ve been doing everything “by the book,” and your life still isn’t where you want it be, you’ve been reading the wrong book. Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World will empower you to become a leader of your own life, and just as importantly, protect yourself and those you love.
“Life is a game — and you will either be a player or be the one played,” explains Dr. Phil. “Yesterday’s rules and expectations about relationships, emotions and interacting just simply don’t apply any more, not like they used to … and those who figure that out and adapt to the current world will have an incredible edge.” This book will create an urgent awareness within readers, and help them become street-smart and savvy.
Life Code offers readers a rare glimpse inside the minds of “bad guys” we all have in our lives, in the form of a “Secret Playbook,” that spells out exactly how the users, abusers and exploiters think and act. But it goes so much further, revealing the “Sweet 16” powerful tools that the world’s most successful people know and use on a daily basis to get what they want and keep it.
Read the first part of Dr. Phil's Life Code, including his personal reflections on what this book means to him and what it can do for you.
Below Dr. Phil states there are 16 new rules for winning in the real world—and they hold the secret to creating the life you want. Watch as Dr. Phil runs through the "Sweet 16," with Oprah and find out why it's so important to get to know your true self.
In 1999, the Oklahoma town was hit with a tornado that clocked the highest winds ever on Earth—and it followed an eerily similar path to the massive May 20th twister. Early images of the City of Moore on Monday showed horrifying scenes: blocks of flattened homes and debris, demolished hospitals and elementary schools, and burning buildings. The twister was recorded as a F4 tornado, the second-highest intensity on the Fujita scale.
It’s impossible to know how well past preparations have paid off because on May 8, 2003, Moore was rocked by another intense tornado that destroyed over 300 homes and businesses. 145 people injured, although no one was killed. And on May 10, 2010, Moore experienced another one.
With dozens dead and many more injured on May 20th, I ask you to please take moment to pray for the families in Moore, Oklahoma affected by the latest tornado. And check Moore, Oklahoma’s Facebook page and Twitter feed to see how you can help or to send your thoughts.
Dear Father, I ask you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ to bless all the people who have suffered the devastating effects of the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas.
Heal those who are injured, recover those who are lost, and give courage to all that need to rebuild their lives.
Ease their fears of the unknown, comfort the survivors that will bury their loved ones, and hasten the aid to their communities. In the Bible you showed us many times that even when things seem unbearable, you will be “our refuge and strength”. In times like this, faith seems hard to come by, but encourage us to muster unwavering faith in Your power and charity toward our fellowman.
Tonight, and every night from now, give the people of Moore, Oklahoma peace of mind, courage in spirit, and strength when fatigued.
In Jesus’ name, I along with my family and friends pray. Amen.
Today’s society encourages everyone to be overly analytical and competitive to get ahead and to make their dreams come true. And let me be the first to point out that I’ve also cheered people on to attain their goals with gusto but today I want us to take a look at another personal characteristic: Sensitivity.
I’ve been told that I’m oversensitive so much by a certain loved one that I’ve coined my own witty response, “I’m not oversensitive, I’m introspective. I take a step back before I respond.” Cute, huh? Well, anyone that knows that I started my life as a preemie wouldn’t be surprised that I scored 12 out of 25 on the ‘Are You Highly Sensitive?’ test. (That’s right, like Lady Gaga would say, I was Born This Way.) But being more sensitive in such a fast paced world isn’t a negative. It can make you very aware of others needs so here’s what you need to know to make the best of it.
Psychologist Elaine Aron wrote a book called The Highly Sensitive Person and her research shows about 15 - 20 percent of the population can be characterized as highly-sensitive people (HSP) and 30 percent of people are moderately sensitive. So you probably are related to, dated, work with, are friends with, or are married to an HSP. Being highly-sensitive (HSP) doesn’t mean you’re emotionally immature, self-centered, have unstable emotions, or that you are over-dependent and demand attention for others constantly. It just means you have a highly-developed human characteristic. (If it makes you feel formidable, you can call it a gift or a superpower.)
Here are some of the characteristics of highly-sensitive people. They:
1. Have great imagination
2. Have great intellectual abilities
3. Are creative
4. Have a curious mind
5. Are hard workers
6. Are good problem solvers
7. Are extremely conscious and compassionate
8. Are intuitive, caring and spiritual
9. Have a strong sense of aesthetic awareness
10. Respect nature, art and music greatly
11. Have profound and intense sensations
12. Can access important information from the unconscious mind
13. Have a depth of understanding and feelings
14. Are objective and can see the bigger picture
If these individuals don't learn to handle their high sensitivity, they may suffer greatly. People with a "highly empathic temperament" need to learn to get their own needs met first before serving others. Here are some ways that can help HS people manage their abilities:
1. Emotionally, highly-sensitive individuals are easily overstimulated up to a point where they may experience great pain. They can have a combination of introvert and extrovert personality traits. Cognitive modification (or Thought stopping) can be helpful.
2. Physically, highly-sensitive people need time and space to be alone to process the amount of input absorbed. They have more body awareness and can feel quickly when their body is not comfortable in an environment. (Think of skin breakouts after brief stressful episodes.) Therefore, nutritionally they have to stick to simple foods that are full of nutrients and have a healthy balance. And regular exercise and relaxation helps them to calm themselves down and recharge after the over stimulation.
3. Socially, HSPs need to learn to connect while having clear boundaries as to when to say no and how far to go with something and someone. In addition, HSPs need to have regular "me" times. They have to learn when they love someone they have to have a balance point because self-sacrifice for them can lead to unhealthy emotional deprivation.
Overall, many of writers, creators, inventors, and pioneers may fall in the category of highly sensitive so let’s encourage highly-sensitive people to unleash their potential. And to the person that loved me enough to hold up a looking glass so I could see myself clearly. Thank you.
Please watch the video below and let me know your thoughts.
1. Aron, Elaine. The highly sensitive person.
2. Huffington Post.com
David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address to Kenyon College, called “This is Water,” is cited as one of Time’s list of best graduation speeches. This speech as now the most-watched, thanks to a short film interpretation that’s been going viral.
Enjoy and congratulation to the Class of 2013.
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