Thursday’s Romantic Thought – Love is for the Brave

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love is for the brave

“Love is no assignment for cowards.” – Ovid

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

 

Want more FREE, clean Romance? Check out this giveaway with tons of books from fabulous authors (myself included 🙂). Each book is free when you join the author’s mailing list. Happy Valentine’s Day!

ROMANCE AUTHOR INTERVIEW: VALENTINE’S MASQUERADE BALL WITH ATINA ATWOOD (From Lacey Dearie’s Rock Paper Spirit Daily Blog)

I’m so excited to share my first interview about the Holiday Heartbeats series! You’ll find it here with Scottish author Lacey Dearie on her popular blog Rock Paper Spirit Daily. Lacey is the prolific, author of cozy Cat Sleuth mysteries, and if you haven’t had a chance to get to know her, I suggest that you check out her award-winning blog (with over 35,600 subscribers!). She’s honest, insightful, and delightfully quirky with a keen business sense. It was a pleasure and an honor to have had this experience. Thank you, Lacey!

ROMANCE AUTHOR INTERVIEW: VALENTINE’S MASQUERADE BALL WITH ATINA ATWOOD

Today on Rock Paper Spirit, I’m welcoming romance writer, Atina Atwood, author of the Holiday Heartbeats series. She’s just released a new book called Love Games so I thought I’d invite her along on one of my research trips today. We’re at a masquerade ball, people watching and observing all the couples falling head over heels in love. Isn’t it sweet?

atina atwood author interview
Love Games is available now!

 

Atina, welcome to the blog! I love your mask! 

Thank you so much! I’m not necessarily one with off-the-runway fashion sense, but I’m really digging the whole midnight black, silver, and sparkling crystal thing going on here.

Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your latest book?

Love Games is a sweet Valentine’s Day novella, and it the second story in my Holiday Heartbeats series. This is Dante and Marisol’s story. Dante is a player, accustomed to using seduction in order to secure difficult business deals. He secretly despises himself for it and wants to change. When his method backfires, he takes some time to figure himself out. He ends up meeting Marisol, who doesn’t exactly embrace him with open arms.

Marisol is a no-nonsense kind of woman, fresh out of law school and waiting for her bar results. She’s fiercely devoted to her Mamá and her best friend, and she’s just as protective of her heart.

When they meet, sparks fly (as do a few tulips). Can Dante actually prove himself to be more than just eye-candy with a blemished reputation, or will Mari fall victim to the player’s game?

The comment about the tulips is intriguing me, but I guess I’ll have to read the book to find out what that’s about! Isn’t this book 2 in the series? What was the first one about?

Love Games (Holiday Heartbeats #2) takes place around Valentine’s Day. The first story in the series is His Epiphany, and it’s a sweet short story set during the Christmas season. Riley is actually Dante’s best friend; when Riley meets Epiphany, he knows he’s meant for her, but it nearly kills him when she runs into Dante’s arms. Years later, we find out why she ran to Dante instead of him. It’s a quick, sweet read. Maybe one day, I’ll revisit those two and learn more about their happily ever after.

His Epiphany

 

Imagine you’re a fairy tale character. Which one would you be and why?

Presently, I’d be a dragon, because my Little Man (toddler) is totally into them. The more fierce, the better.

Good choice! What one thing that is important to you would you give up if it meant you could become a better writer?

I can actually answer this question in the past tense because it’s no longer hypothetical for me. Last year, I actually left my full-time university position to start my own business and be able to write full time. This is because I was put in a position that women face far too often — career or family. For me, family will always come first. I’d already been planning for a transition that would allow me more autonomy in my profession, but it takes guts, a bit of foolishness, and a ton of hope to walk away from what you know and also love. In the end, though, it has also helped me reclaim a deep sense of self-confidence.

It isn’t easy, and I’m learning and growing every day. Waking up every morning with a strong sense of purpose and excitement is an amazing feeling. The best part is that I’m still affiliated with the university but on my own terms. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, career-wise.

I can definitely relate to having to choose between career and family! What are the hardest scenes for you to write?

I often have difficulty writing the settings, because I’m so focused on what the characters are saying and doing. Sometimes, the background remains, well, in the background. I also have to be careful not to spend too much time describing any place because I’ll get so caught up in the details, and I’m in danger of missing some of the action between the characters.

Like all of the stories in my Holiday Heartbeats series, Love Games takes place in San Diego, California. The characters travel all over the county, and I have to be careful not to include too many details or hard facts, but provide just enough information the reader draw a sketch in their mind’s eye of what I’m describing and then can focus on the action at hand.

Masquerade balls: creepy or fun?

Lacey, they are creepy AF. Don’t get me wrong — I absolutely love the bling on this gorgeous mask! It looks fabulous with black satin, Swarovski crystals all around the eyes, and the charcoal silk overlay is breathtaking. Of course, the raven’s feathers are to die for. Full disclosure — I’m taking this sucker home with me.

But back to your question. Yeah, honestly, it seems as though everyone is parading around, wearing a mask. We’re trying too hard to impress when most of us can barely hold our crap together on a daily basis. Too often, we’re chasing illusions — whether it’s the mask of a political party or ideal, the idolatry of a celebrity, or the fanaticism of social media influencers. We’re losing sight of the fact that it’s okay to be a bit messy, a tad quirky, a little… lost sometimes. But if we keep focusing on the noise and shine surrounding us, eventually we’re going to collectively end up being a grotesque distortion of the superficial image we’ve been striving to become. Ultimately, we’re forgetting to be our true selves. Whatever the heck that means.

Do your family support your career as a writer?

Unequivocally. They also supported my career as an opera singer, which led to so many fantastic experiences, most importantly, meeting the love of my life while I was still a teenager. When I had to stop performing after a car accident, I turned to Academia, which inevitably led to research and a ton of writing. For me, it was a match made in heaven. Writing is a culmination of so many worlds. I don’t write Romance exclusively, but it’s definitely one of my most favorite genres to write. My husband is my biggest supporter, and my sister keeps asking me for more installments. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that most of my closest friends are right in my corner as well.

You’re extremely well-qualified in terms of academic achievements, aren’t you? Tell us a bit about your background before you became a writer.

I’ve been on stage since I was five years old, so being in the creative and performing arts has always been an integral part of my life. The only thing that I’ve been doing longer than performing is reading. My mom loves to remind me that I started reading “books with no pictures” at the age of four. The multifaceted story of humanity has always fascinated me. My lifelong dedication to various methods of communication eventually led to me earning my Bachelor’s, Masters, Ph.D., and various certifications in interrelated fields.

There’s something captivating about the Drang, or the urge to communicate by any means available to us. It doesn’t matter if it’s through music, through words, through language, through sounds, or through movement — some people just HAVE TO create — and I’m one of those people. I’m blessed that my family recognizes this and supports me in knowing that I simply must live my life as a creative spirit.

What’s the most difficult part of the writing/publishing process for you? Is it the artistic side of things or the business side?

I think that both sides have their pros and cons. I can see the artistic side being difficult for me because I’m still learning my craft. Despite its undeserved reputation, writing Romance is hard. I’m constantly learning by reading and writing. I ask questions: How much is cliché? How much is too much? Do the characters and plot have enough depth? If not, how can I enhance them?

It’s a learning process, and from the very beginning, I decided that I was going to be honest with my followers about my journey into writing fiction. That means with each publication, I expect each one to improve. There will be hits and misses, and I expect to grow with each new release. I’m grateful and indebted to all of my readers and followers who choose to stick with me; Love & Light to those who encourage me every step of the way.

Although I’ve been traditionally published in nonfiction, tackling the business of self-publishing in fiction is no joke. I don’t even have my blog properly categorized, much less with SEO. Rookie moves, I know. But I’m working on it. I believe that in business, it’s about setting a target and doing whatever it takes within the confines of your abilities to achieve that goal and then repeating the process. As soon as I’m specific about exactly what I want Atina Atwood to accomplish, I can also help my readers know what to expect. (Good luck with that, fam.)

Aww, look at that couple over there! He’s been smiling at her all night and he just worked up the courage to ask her to dance! Makes me all warm and fuzzy. What do you think brought you to the point where you started writing romance? Was it planned or was it something you stumbled upon by accident?

I started reading Romance novels six years ago. I was bedridden for months and so I spent my days surrounded by things that brought me to a positive place emotionally. I discovered that there was nothing more powerful or healing than the expectation of a happy ending.

Although I could say that writing Romance was something I stumbled upon, it wouldn’t be completely true. I’ve been researching the cultural necessity for Escapism and its employment through various mediums and genres throughout international societies and eras for years. One constant theme has always been Romance, unrequited or reciprocated. It’s a basic human theme — we all want to love and be loved.

How do you choose the names for your characters?

Most of the time the names just come to me, as do their stories. In Love Games, Dante and Marisol just introduced themselves to me with a funny scene involving tulips. Marisol quickly became Mari in my mind, and I can’t imagine her any other way. On the other hand, Mari’s best friend, Nhu, is the heroine in Luck of the Irish (Holiday Heartbeats #3 — coming soon!). Because Nhu is Vietnamese, I definitely knew that I had to do a lot of research on her name and understand the significance of her name from a cultural standpoint. Fortunately, I can also rely on some of my family members for #Ownvoices insight to help me with this.

Luck of the Irish – coming soon!

 

Oh no. That couple aren’t getting along so well any more. Did she just throw cake at him?! 

Um yes. She definitely did. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the 5’3 culprit looks like Nhu, and Mari is trying to hold her back! And now Dante is protecting them both from… the duck confit.

Darn it. I was looking forward to eating some of that.

It’s turned into a full-on food fight. DUCK! Ok, before we go, because no Lacey interview is complete without this question, what’s your favourite cookie/biscuit?

I love chocolate chip cookies. Soft in the center, and warm all around with just the slightest crisp around the edges. Yum!

Thanks Atina. Where can we find Love Games and your other book, His Epiphany? And where can we find you on social media?

Thanks so much, Lacey! This was fun. You can find Love GamesHis EpiphanyLuck of the Irish (coming soon!) and all of the Holiday Heartbeats series on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and wherever ebooks are sold.

Join my newsletter for freebies and news about the series’ progress. Check out my blog for #MotivationalMondays, Tuesday’s blog, and Thursday’s Romantic Thought. I’m also on Twitter, supporting and following back other readers and writers who love to write and spill the tea. I also exist on Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, and Facebook.

I’ve had a blast. Thanks again Lacey, and have a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

-End-

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Motivated Monday – Rise Every Time We Fall

Join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more. Follow me on Amazon and Goodreads! Love Games (Holiday Heartbeats #2) is now available wherever eBooks are sold

rise when we fall
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

 

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Thursday’s Romantic Thought – When Their Happiness Means More

Join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more. Follow me on Amazon and Goodreads! Love Games (Holiday Heartbeats #2) is now available wherever eBooks are sold

our happiness

“Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.” 

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Love Games (Holiday Heartbeats #2) is LIVE!!

Join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more. Follow me on Amazon and Goodreads!
Love Games (Holiday Heartbeats #2) is now available wherever eBooks are sold

Love Games (New Release)

I’ve been waiting for February to come already because I just couldn’t wait to finally share Love Games with you.

Love Games (Holiday Heartbeats #2) is LIVE and available at the distributor of your choice!

It’s a sweet-heat romantic novella about an irresistible, successful, commitmentphobe and the smart, no-nonsense woman who brings him to his knees – just in time for a Valentine’s Day surprise. Dante and Marisol’s story is around 62 pages, so it’s a quick, fun read. I played with the following tropes:

  • smart, sassy heroine/successful sexy hero who’s ready to be schooled
  • all grown up/commitmentphobe
  • boss/employee’s daughter
  • close proximity
  • multicultural romance
  • “sweet-heat” romance
  • slow burn, novella-style 😉

My VIP Friends from 28 states and 11 countries received a complimentary copy of LOVE GAMES over a week before the book’s official release!

When you sign up for my mailing list, it means a lot to me, and this is one way that I happily show my appreciation. *kiss kiss* Please consider leaving your honest reviews on Goodreads. They are appreciated! 

“Sweet-Heat” Romance

I had a fun time writing these two characters, and I really like their chemistry. My Holiday Heartbeats is what I like to call a “sweet heat” series, so the characters kiss, and when they kiss, they kiss well. Ideally, I want this particular series to be accessible to readers of varying ages and backgrounds, so consider doing me a solid and share it with your friends and add the books on your bookshelf (Listopia) on Goodreads. Thank you!

Atina Atwood Love Games A Holiday Heartbeats Story

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

 

 

 

Motivated Monday – Do It Now

Be sure to join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more. Follow me on Amazon and Goodreads!

a year from now you may wish you had started today.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Thursday’s Romantic Thought: Love Me as I Am

Be sure to join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more. Get ready for Love Games, out tomorrow! 

love-me-as-i-am-atina-atwood
“When you love someone, you love the person as they are, not as you’d like them to be.” -Leo Tolstoy

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Using the KonMari Method® for Writers – 6 Quick Tips

Be sure to join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more. Get ready for Love Games, out this Friday, February 1st – just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Tidy Up Your Writing

This post is longer than usual, but since I skipped last Tuesday, I figured that I can make a two for one. 🙂

One difference between being a full-time writer and being a full-time writer who can live off of a salary from their work is well, yeah, the cash. But there are other things that stand out to me as I make the painful, terrifying, exhilarating transition from one type of writer to another.

Like any writer who knows what’s up, I’m hopping along on Twitter (generally hiding behind virtual bushes and quietly “liking” things), and I’m marginally a part of the #writingcommunity. (I’d love to have more friends in this community, so if you’re on Twitter, say hello @Atina_Atwood). During a particularly frustrating day while I was working on Love Games (preorder now!), I did the next thing that any writer who knows what’s up does — I took a break from my frustrating WIP and searched for solstice in Netflix. 

What I ended up finding was Marie Kondo, and after a few episodes, I realized that the KonMari Method® is exactly what some of us writers need for, well, writing. 

using the konmari for writers

If you’re not familiar with Marie Kondo, her Netflix show Tidying Up has been trending for a while. It basically helps people find a way to wade through the junk that they have in their household, throw out what they really don’t need or want, clean up, and adopt an organizational system that supports their new, decluttered lifestyle. Because I deeply appreciate organization, strive for a Taoist perspective in many things, and have incorporated traditional Chinese medicinal practices in my lifestyle for years (chill out — I KNOW that Marie Kondo is Japanese), much of the KonMari Method is nothing new or revolutionary to me. But I like her personality, and I appreciate how people on the show are so grateful and often in awe. 

Never before have I seen so many people befuddled when it comes to expressing gratitude for what they have.

Using the KonMari Method for Writers

Anyway, although my home is lived in, yet thankfully Hoarders-level clutter free, I thought about the messier part of my life and how the six basic steps of the method can totally be applied to us writers.

  1. Commit to tidying up your writing schedule.
    This isn’t hard; just make an editorial calendar. Every day, week, or month, tell yourself specifically what you intend to write or publish. If this is still too intimidating, aim for a specific daily, weekly, or monthly word count. I know a lot of you are Nanowrimo participants (and winners like me!), so use this method to motivate you and keep you focused on your publishing goals. 
  1. Imagine your ideal Story OR your ideal target audience.
    Let’s face it — you shouldn’t aim for both. Either you’re writing your story for the sake of it being told, or you’re writing to a specific audience that you have in mind. Either one is fine, as long as that specific focal point suits your purpose. You need to get things done, and you need to write in an authentic manner. If your target audience gets you to do that, great! If your story is the one driving up your word count, let your characters take the rein. The main thing is to use your imagination to inspire you to actually up your word count. 
  1. Discard excessive text BEFORE you write.
    Like the actual KonMari Method®, this part is often the hardest. We writers fight hard to push up our word count, and the higher it climbs, the more accomplished we feel. How DARE you tell me to get rid of words! My mojo is flowing. I’m getting things done. Hands off my word count! Okay, well, if this is your knee-jerk reaction to getting rid of a few words, then this tells me a few things: 1. You’re like the folks on social media who flipped out when they thought Marie Kondo was telling people to rid themselves of their precious books (not true) 2. You’re really going to have a HARD TIME when your work finally gets to an editor.

    One of the hardest things for a writer to do is to cut the fat. Streamline our words. Write succinctly. But, that often leads to the best reading experience for our readers, especially in contemporary fiction. Now, before I get rid of huge sections of words, AKA unnecessary scenes or backstory, do I sincerely thank each word for serving its purpose, KonMari style? Um, no. Not really. But it’s a nice idea to do that when you’re editing instead of tossing curse words around. (If you can get to that point, though, please write a book about it.)

  1. Tidy by sequence, not action.
    To me, this feels like outlining. I’m definitely a Plantser, so while I need structure, I need a lot of play room and autonomy within the confines of that structure. By focusing on the sequence of events that take place, this gives the writer the ability to check out the Big Picture. The action comes in when you fill in the blanks. 
  1. Follow the right order.
    Duh. We should do this in all things, but the never-ending question is, what is the right order? If you want to improve your craft, look for the greats within your genre(s). See what they’re doing to get things done. Keep an eye on the trends to learn, but do remember to stay true to yourself. Your writing may not be earning food for you yet, but respect it enough to remember that it still feeds you. In time, the correct, or right order will come to us.
  1. Ask yourself if it “sparks joy”.
    It’s awesome that Marie Kondo has pretty much made this the phrase of her brand. “Does X or Y spark joy for you?” It’s so simple, and difficult at the same time. Asking the question is easy; providing an answer as an adult is not. Ultimately, you will only write if you know that it will ultimately lead you to feeling good about it. Every day won’t be joyous, but that’s as necessary as rain is to sunshine.

    Write if it sparks joy. Period.
    All of the other things, like getting an agent or being published by the Big Five or being on the best seller’s list, etc. are all byproducts of that. Focus on the root of the matter, and follow your calling.

    Sending Love and Light to all of you.

    ©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

    – Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Motivated Monday: Simply Bloom

Let the Love Games begin! Be sure to join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more! Love Games, Holiday Heartbeats #2 is now available for preorder wherever eBooks are sold. It’s free for my Mailing List Friends! 

bloom-where-you-are-planted

Bloom where you are planted.

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Thursday’s Romantic Thought: My Love is Extraordinary

Be sure to join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more. Get ready for Love Games next month!

never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary.
“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” – Oscar Wilde

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2015-2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.