99 Cent Romances for the Holidays!

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Merry Christmas! 

Warm greetings and holiday wishes for this Christmas!

The outside of my house is lit up and twinkly…now to add the Christmas tree, hopefully soon!

We don’t have to wait for holiday specials…

My married romance Point Hope is on a holiday special this month for 99 cents, plus you get a $3 credit toward a future ebook purchase. (It’s an Amazon promotion with some restrictions, see the book page for details.)

You can get my other romances at 99 cents too, including:

A Cowboy for Christmas

More Than Memories

Embers of Hope

Check out my Amazon Page to see all of my specials!

ACowboyForChristmas-KristenJames

XXOO

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May your season by cheery and bright! 
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Birds and bees oh my

20180616_152045.jpgI got a bit buried this year, finishing my novel and working on some big yard projects. And, you know, all that life stuff that keeps happening!

Birds and bees… it’s actually bees and chickens in my backyard, but that didn’t sound as catchy. And technically there’s also cute little birds that flutter through the garden. Dragonflies that zoom through the yard. And a very healthy population of ladybugs.

We had lots of ladybugs, attracted by some aphids in our plum tree, and then we decided to buy some for the garden. Thanks to these little hungry bugs, there’s hardly any aphids left.

The good bugs all seem to get along fine. There’s a few paper wasps that hover around, visiting or chewing on the wooden fence. People say wasps are mean but these seem social. One had a tiny hive inside the handle of my shovel. I used the shovel all day before finding it. The hive maker had hovered around without ever stinging or bugging me.

These are my honey bees, “bearding” on the outside of the hive to cool off on a warm, humid day. You can see a few in the air too.

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Honey bees are fascinating. They have guards, foragers, nurses, and “undertakers” who clean out the hive. There’s boy bees called drones that lounge around until it’s time to fly out and look for the mating track, where they hope to spot a virgin queen bee. They have huge eyes to assist them, and no stinger because they needed room for, emm, other equipment. That means you can pick them up. I’m not sure what they think about that!

You can actually let just about any honey bee crawl around on your hand and they’ll be friendly. They hang out with me in the garden, sometimes sitting on a plant or crawling around on the ground.

If you find a honey or bumble bee sitting around like it’s tired, it just might be. They work hard! You can give them sugar water in a teaspoon for some extra energy so they can make it back to their hive. They fly up to three miles and spend the day collecting pollen.

We built landscaping boxes and a tiny pond, which has a trickling waterfall. (The photo is before I got the pond clean and full, and the waterfall going.) When it got hot the other day, the bees were landing on it to drink. I made tiny little ponds in the garden for them, but they really liked the water dripping down the rocks.

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Oh, here’s my funny chickens. Flower Pot is yellow and the boss lady.

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Raptor is the speckled yellow/reddish one. Penguin is black, and in the back you can see Houdini the escape artist. I still don’t know how she gets through the fence from the chicken yard to the patio area. The picture has a glare because I took it through my window by my writing desk. They like to come say hi during the day.

Here’s Flower Pot eyeing a plum. If you’re wondering about her name, my boyfriend’s son Jensen was 6 when he named her, and used his grandma’s suggestion to use a flower name. You gotta love kids!

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If you’re wondering if my urban farming is inspiring any story ideas…it is!

I was working on an idea about a woman running a small farm, but I knew it needed more than that. Or she needed more than that, like a big secret she’s desperate to hide and a big present day problem. The plot is in my head, so I plan to start jotting down notes on my camping trip. It’ll be fun when there’s more to the story and I can share!

I did get in some painting this year. This one is 2 by 4 feet, oil on board, and ended up decorating the wall above our coat rack.

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The big one was inspired by a smaller one I did on canvas.

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I practiced more ocean waves…and have a painting in mind for another board, so hopefully I get to do that one this summer.

In other news, my youngest son Caleb graduated 8th grade! My three kids are all bigger than me, although my 18 year old daughter only has 1/2 an inch to brag about.

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My sons are both 5’8″ even though they’re two years apart. I could’a had twins and saved myself a pregnancy!  (Ben, behind them, is 6’3″ and 14 too. His legs are pretty much as tall as all of me…)

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I’m excited for this summer. It feels like I’ve done a lot of summer things already…in my backyard! But I’m so happy with how well the garden is doing so far, along with the raspberries, grapes, and plums. There’s so much to learn, and then more to learn, about gardening, landscaping, chickens, and bees, and I love that!

One final photo… Here’s a shot of one of the little bumble bees that liked the flowers out front in May. There were little and big orange-bottom bees that visited the Rhoadies.

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Happy adventuring, and reading too of course!

~Kristen

 

 

NaNoWriMo – a novel in a month

National November Writing Month… I’ve wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo for several years now, but I’m usually in the middle of a writing project when it starts. If you write year round, it can be trickier to plan a novel and start it on November 1. This year, however, I got an idea on Oct 30, and decided to jump in.

I’m still amazed that I did, but I finished on November 28 with 50,000 words.

What was the biggest thing I learned? It takes passion and excitement about your story to write that much in that short of a time. Because I’m also a freelancer, I had other writing and editing projects too. So my actual word count was around 80,000 for the month.

The second lesson was to use my creative time–I often worked on my novel at nine at night, when I have a really creative hour or two.

As far as my novel writing method, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to other authors, and especially not newer authors. But here goes:

I get an idea out of the blue (which actually means different things in my life suddenly mixing together) and once I see the story line, I start writing. With this story, and some before it, I busted out 10,000 words in the first day in my giddiness over the idea.

So at that point, I usually pause and realize I need some structure. I start putting in headers before my scenes (marked with Header 2 in Word) and open the Navigation Map, which displays an outline to the left of the text. I’ll start jotting down scene ideas too, right in the manuscript, so I have something to jump into when I sit down to write. I like keeping it all together in one file.

I write in a mostly linear way, but if I don’t feel too motivated on a section, I’ll jump to a different part. Then later, when I feel more focused, I go back and figure out why I wasn’t excited about that problem scene–because when it’s working, I love to write.

I haven’t always used this fly-through-the-novel method. When I began writing in grade school, I would create an outline and type it up on my electric typewriter. Then I’d write chapter by chapter, and if I changed the story, I retyped the outline.

Later on, I went through a phase in my twenties where I’d plan my novel, write it, and then go through a long revising stage where I’d rearrange the story and add quite a bit. A few times I even changed entire novels from third to first person and then back to third.

I think it’s all that writing that got me to my present method. But even though I jump right into it, I do have the story and characters clearly in my head. I even start by writing the book blurb. And on that note, here’s the blurb for my NaNoWriMo novel, Covetous:

Two couples are found murdered in their beds. The only link comes from their phone records, leading Detective Hounder to Lucy Marshal.

Lucy and her live-in boyfriend might be next on the hit list. She doesn’t know who she can turn to. If Luke knew the truth about Lucy, he would have more motive than anyone, but does he know? Her best friend Emma is someone connected to this mess—and hiding now. Her other close friend James was still in love with one of the victims…and involved with Lucy without knowing her connection.

She wants to hold onto everyone but can’t control the web she’s weaved around herself. Lucy can’t trust anyone anymore, not herself, and not the stranger leaving messages for her.

You may have noticed… it’s not like my previous novels. This is more of domestic thriller. (Murder mystery psychological thriller–is that a genre?)  I’m currently polishing the story, and adding to it because 50k is a pretty short novel, and then I plan to submit to agents. 

Will I try to write another novel in a month? We’ll see; maybe if I get another awesome story idea… like the sequel for this one.  

Thanksgiving Giveaway!

It’s that time of year when we’re all thinking about the blessings in our lives and all we have to be thankful for. Many people are sharing daily on Facebook. I love making ‘thankful lists’ and do so throughout the year, either when I’m feeling especially blessed or when I need a reminder of the good things in life. This has been a very fun and rewarding year for me, thanks to the people in my life and because I can share my writing with so many of you out there.

I’m so thankful for all of you! So I’m having a Thanksgiving giveaway on Facebook.   To enter, go to my FB page, then like and share my contest post. 

Thanksgiving Giveaway Kristen James
Two winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift cards and eight winners will receive your choice of one of my ebooks. There are over 10 to choose from. I’ll pull winners this Friday (Nov 22) at noon PST. 10 winners total.

Hope you’ll enter — good luck! And thank you for connecting with me.

Summer Adventures

Sunset over the wilderness from a hiking trail

I love having a blog so I can share not just writing news, but pictures and stories from my different trips. This blog is full of photos from around Oregon that bring back great memories for me. I recently took the above picture while hiking on a wildlife reserve path near my home. The trail starts uphill right from the gravel parking lot and winds up into the hills. There’s several places to pause and look out over the valley on one side and the ridges of hills trailing off to the sunset on the other.

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It’s fun to travel far from home, but it’s also really nice to have places I enjoy so much close by too. It takes me just a few minutes to drive to the wildlife refuge, and I can also drive up the river to several different trails and waterfalls, and even farther to explore mountain lakes.  It’s all still in a day’s drive, and most of the hiking is kid friendly. My kids love to go hiking–it’s a tradition that started with my parents when I was young.

 

 

Hwy 101 and Florence on the Oregon Coast

Here’s a few pictures from this last weekend. I was craving clam chowder so my husband and I headed over to the coast. We’ve gone down to Coos Bay quite a bit, and I love it there, but we decided to drive north this time.  I went on quite a few trips as a kid with my family to Yachats and the area, so it was fun to revisit. Going to the coast means two main things: playing on the beach and eating seafood. We had chowder, fish and chips and found a new place called Tidal Raves at Depoe Bay. We shared seared scallops and cocoanut shrimp there. I LOVE scallops, and those were the best I’ve ever had.

(Of course we had a great time, but this is all research too! When I was writing Point Hope, I went and revisited all my favorite places in Coos Bay so I could include them. The Pancake Mill in Point Hope really is in Coos Bay, and they do have gluten free pancakes. You can also really visit Sunset Bay State Park.)

Can you guess where this is?

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It was snapped from the outside viewpoint of the Sea Lion Caves by Florence. The location has this viewpoint, and an elevator that takes you down 200 feet to sea level to look inside the world’s largest sea cave. It’s usually full of see lions that are busy barking and growling at each other.

I took the next picture from inside the caves, looking out over to the Heceta Head lighthouse.

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We drove north for a while after that and explored the beaches–we found a great little beach that was sheltered from the wind by a giant rock structure. Here’s me with my dog Deco exploring.

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We stayed in a cute little motel, and our room even had books in it! I happened to have some copies of Point Hope with me, so I left one there. 🙂

There are so many special places along the coast. Maybe I can include all of them in a story at some point!

Photos from Washington

We went north this last week for my husband’s family reunion in Washington. It seems like I end up driving through Washington a couple times a year, and I usually see something unusual along the way. Last time I saw what looked like horses standing on a trailer with just a strap to hold them there–it was fake horses of course. I also saw two drivers get into a road rage spat. I don’t know what started it, but I saw one driver throw a water bottle out of the sunroof and onto another car. That car sped up, passed on the shoulder, and tried to run the first car off the road. Scary! We backed off and let them get way ahead of us. Luckily I didn’t see any wrecks after that. I guess the heat got to some people. But dangerous drivers aside, it was a great trip.

Here’s a few pictures of the skyline as we drove through Seattle.

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This one captures what I think of in Northwest cities: tall buildings and tall evergreens!

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Space Needle!

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We stayed up next to the Canadian border for a few days and visited Birch Bay. It’s so different from the rough Oregon Coast! There aren’t any waves, and the water was warm compared to what I normally experience. We couldn’t wait to go change into swim suits! You can walk out for a couple miles if you wanted to, and we found crabs, fish and even a live jelly fish.

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We went back twice so we could swim and explore the beach. And even though we didn’t cross over into Canada, we took some pictures with Canada in the background.

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I returned home Monday and took off Tuesday for camping out by the South Umpqua River, so it was a fun and busy week. I was surprised (again) because the river was so warm. We go every year, and there’s been times when the river was so cold it burned when I jumped in. This time, it was more like cool pool water, and we played in the river for two full days. I came back in time for fireworks at the house with all our kids–it was great to watch them having so much fun. I did take some time to sit around the fire and work on plot ideas for the two stories I’m working on. Next week, it’s back to writing!