Happy Thanksgiving! #NovemberGratitude

#NovemberGratitude on Thanksgiving

By far, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. Even when living in Europe, Thanksgiving is my jam. I have converted so many people from being skeptical about this American holiday (“Why do you make it a goal to overeat?”) to blatantly requesting an invitation to one of my Thanksgiving dinner parties. Trust this southern girl when I say that great food will make a believer out of anyone.

Sure it’s about family, friends, and amazing food. These days, it might even be about political arguments and exploding turkeys – but to me, Thanksgiving has always been about gratitude.

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In keeping with the #NovemberGratitude spirit, I know that this Thursday is one celebrated day that culminates all of the things that I want to be thinking about on a daily basis. I have friends – maybe not as many as I think that I would like to have (writing gets lonely, and my social media game needs professional help, lol) – but the friends that I do have are goldenI’ve always been a quality over quantity kind of person, and wow – my real friends are top of the line. I am so thankful for you.

My family is amazing, and for the rest of my life I will always think of my parents and uncle who would leave early in the morning on Thanksgiving day, only to return in the early afternoon. When I was very small, I never understood why they left, but as the years passed, I learned that they would go to a soup kitchen and help feed the homeless. This is the kind of stuff that highlights what Gratitude means to me. I’m so thankful to have had people in my life who have always led by example – including by knowing how to say “I’m sorry”. This is not an easy thing to accomplish!

Thank YOU!

Lastly, I am grateful for my followers! You have been supporting me, cheering me on, and are becoming my friends as we actually get to know each other. I know that I have a lot to learn about blogging and connecting, but I am so grateful for your patience, curiosity, and forgiving nature. Although you may not comment, I know that you are engaged, and you support my driving motivation to connect, explore, hope, and inspire the best way that I know how at this stage in my life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving for those who celebrate, and let’s all keep up our #NovemberGratitude challenge!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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.

Write a Great Story for the Ages

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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.

5 Ways to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Are You Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone?

It’s so easy to get into routines. You get up, make a pot of coffee or some hot tea, check your messages and news, and then you move about your day. You write thousands of words. You read thousands and thousands more. Same old, same old.

But what if you switched things up?

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In the spirit of my #NovemberGratitude challenge, here are 5 ways to step out of your comfort zone and do something great.

1 Send Thank You Notes and Emails to Neighbors & Service Providers

This is a dying art, I know, but all the more reason to try it out! We’re far too busy to send little notes that make us smile, nut just imagine how you feel when you receive them. If you’re really not to writing type, find another way to say Thank You. During the summer, we offer our mail carrier and Amazon/Fed Ex deliverers cool drinks; on holidays, we give our garbage man yummy chocolate. Those aren’t notes, but they’re small tokens to say Thank You to people with whom we may not have necessarily held a conversation with before.

2 Call Someone You Haven’t Talked to in A While

We all have phones, but we’re using them for phone calls less frequently. Is there someone elderly in your life who could use a pick me up just by saying hello? Maybe there’s an acquaintance with whom you haven’t spoken in ages. Reaching out can make such a huge difference, and it feels great once you finally “get around to it”.

3 Have a Conversation with a Stranger

It would be a cool challenge to say hello to a person who would normally not be on your radar for everyday conversation. Is there an interesting person on your daily commute? A homeless person who frequents the same area each day? A police office at your local coffee shop on break? These are just a few examples of how we can connect – starting with a simple hello.

4 Make a Food Donation to Your Local Food Bank

For many of us, this won’t put a huge dent in the monthly budget. The challenge here is to even find out where the food banks in your neighborhood are even located. Often, people will be so pleased that you’ve reached out; even an extra $25 in groceries can make the biggest difference for hungry families in your own community.

5 Decide for Yourself What Challenge Makes You Grow

I’ve listed some examples of inner challenges that I’ve taken on in order to grow and connect with my neck of the woods. What ideas do you have for stepping out and reaching out? Decide what works for you – and take it on. Afterwards, use that motivation in your writing. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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.

#NovemberGratitude Challenge

Have An Attitude of #NovemberGratitude

Excuse me while I start waxing poetic, but I’m going to go so far as to quote Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We know this quote. It’s easier to think about than actually do. That’s why I’m throwing down the gauntlet and starting a hashtag: #NovemberGratitude. Let’s get this trending!

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I’m issuing a challenge for this month: Why don’t we challenge ourselves to find something to be content about each day of November – and appreciate it?

It’s always the little things that end of making a big deal. You won’t lose anything by trying it, and who knows? By the end of the month, we may find that our smiles appear more frequently, and as our coats get heavier, our hearts feel a bit lighter.

It’s Okay to Feel Content Sometimes

These days, feeling content is a lot more challenging than you might initially think. Our news cycle is based on the negative things that happen, or more accurately, the potential for negative things to happen. Do you remember my post when I wrote about the boy’s soccer team that was trapped in a cave in Thailand? For days, the world held its breath wondering whether or not they would survive. Once they actually did, media coverage dwindled to nearly nothing. One of the best lines that stuck with me when watching Nightcrawler was when the news producer (played by Rene Ruso) said, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

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Why can’t we be led a different way? How can we lead differently? 

This month is probably my favorite month of the year. November is on the sweet spot of our calendar when we’ve all finally accepted that summer is actually over, the nights are getting chillier, and the dinners are morphing into warm comfort foods. November is that quiet moment right before the storm of Christmas and holiday hoopla shifts into full gear. For now, calm November is the time to pull out the cozy blankets, rediscover your fuzzy slippers, and enjoy the soft glow of lit houses. It’s one of the few times where we might remember to sit down, take a deep breath, and be content.

Hold me accountable to the challenge and use that hashtag #NovemberGratitude. We can follow each other on Twitter (Atina_Atwood) to encourage each other. Are you in? Let us know in the comments!

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Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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.

Introducing #MotivationMonday

#MotivationMonday – Let’s Do This!

Doesn’t it seem like there is an influx of doom and gloom everywhere we look?! It’s really hard to remember to think about the good things happening in our lives when outside influences keep telling us otherwise.

I want to start the week off right by finding something inspiring, motivating, and encouraging – and I’d love for you to be a part of it! So, I’m working with the hastag #MotivationMonday to kick off the week with something positive. Normally, it should be something like a quote, maybe an article or fellow blooger’s post with some good news, or a quick blog post of my own with something fun and uplifting. As usual, if you’d like to make a suggestion or *gasp* even a contributing post, I welcome your input!

Don’t give up. Keep your goals in sight, and let discouragement fall to the wayside. You’ve got this!

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Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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.

Facts About the Romance Novel Industry

Falsehoods about Romance

It takes a brave soul for a writer to venture into Romancelandia, and an even braver one to admit it – especially in this day and age. The genre of Romance steadfastly gets a bad rap, and as soon as the forbidden word is uttered, one can expect to hear some impolite snort, scoff, huff – or, for even more awkward fun, have a complete stranger launch into an unbidden tirade about why the Romance genre is so trashy and air-brained, and instead of subjecting themselves to such banal nonsense, everyone should read Stephen King’s IT and worship all Sylvester Stallone films.

Yes, that actually happened.

Honestly, I’m just a magnet to awkward, well-meaning folks, but still, it was a small miracle that I could look at this woman without batting an eye as she segued from lamenting the pitiful, unloved female readers of romance, to lauding the incredible genius of gore and lore, only to somehow end up swooning over all things Rocky. Very strange.

Anyway, I digress. It’s hard to be taken seriously as a writer. Period. Throw in the fact that you also dabble in penning about the Amorous Arts, and well, you’ve suddenly become a first-class ninny in the eyes of many. Believe me, for every well-written novel, there are hundreds of other head-scratchers right behind it. I feel you. As with all things subjective, who knows which category your work will fall into for some readers? Nevertheless, like it or not, Romance novels, or the tired a.k.a. Bodice Rippers, are here to stay. So, we may as well get to know some facts about the industry. I picked up these facts from the Romance Writers of America, of which I’ve been a member since 2016.

Romancing the Numbers

Romance Fiction has been a billion-dollar industry since at least 2013.

Yes, you read that right. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons…

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While women continue to dominate the readership of Romance, males are steadily nearing 20%.

An even more exciting fact is that the younger populous is increasingly male, sexually and ethnically diverse, more tech-savvy, and read their books on devices, or listen to audiobooks. As a writer, this is exciting to me because there is so much potential (although I have always disliked the word potential. I’m more for realized energy.). As another generation explores escapism through these kinds of stories, the standard, comforting tropes have an opportunity to be reborn and retold in a completely different voice. This is what any healthy writer lives for!

Romance Readers gravitate toward certain genres depending on their age.

So many subgenres exist in the realm of Romance, you might even be surprised. Not every novel contains sordid scenes, and not every chaste story is a trip to Snooze Town.  From Contemporary to Historical, Religious or Spiritual to Erotic, Paranormal, Suspense, or Young Adult to New Adult, pretty much everyone can find something that may be of interest to them. I read a plethora of novels in every subgenre listed, and I know that I’m not alone. Which likely explains why…

The Romance novel share of the US fiction market is 34%.

That means that for every 3 books actually sold, one of them was a romance novel. This is a very big deal, people. It also means that romance readers are voracious, and are more than likely willing to sacrifice other things in order to obtain more books.

If you have some recommendations for great books (regardless of genre), comment below! Also, find me on Goodreads.com. I’m always looking for new friends!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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.

It’ssss My Birthday!

Come Celebrate with Me!

I’m so excited and happy to be able to celebrate another birthday today! It’s a true blessing, and  I’ve been so glad to receive so many phone calls, texts, and messages from family and friends- and it’s only 10:30 AM. A huge THANK YOU and hug to all of you!

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This made me think of how much social media can also make a difference on days like these. I’m so thankful to have a supportive and loving family and circle of friends. But it can be another experience on social media outlets. It made me realize how cool it is to interact with friendly people simply want to wish you well.

I want to celebrate my birthday by getting to know more amazing people who are as interested in Love, Life, and Romance as I am. Connect with me @Atina_Atwood on Twitter, and also (I promise I’ll be more active on) Facebook. I’ll be sure to connect with you as well, so that  I can hopefully bring a smile to your face on your special days!

 

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

My New Logo! Tell Me What You Think

Normally I post on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I’m excited to share my logo. Although I’m moving at a snail’s pace in terms of networking and growth, I’m still excited to be on this exciting journey. Lately, more and more people have been asking for my business card *squee!* and more contact information. I finally broke down and got a few logos made. This is the one that I like the most:

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What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Sending Love and Light to all of you!

©Atina Atwood 2018 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, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

Falling in Love with Fall – 3 Things to Do This Autumn Season

Fall in Love With Fall

Now that Fall is officially among us, this is the perfect time to celebrate all things cozy and fun. For some reason, I am especially looking forward to Autumn this year (and not just because the San Diego summer temperatures were so brutal)! First of all, October is my birth month, so I’m looking forward to making the absolute most of it. What are some things that we can do this month to celebrate the awesomeness of the new season? Here are a few ideas…

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Do Something with Pumpkins.

This one kind of feels like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. Even if you aren’t a fan of the taste of pumpkin – ahem, that would be me – don’t throw a pout-fest because everything is suddenly all things orange. I love the color, and nothing is more exciting than going some place away from the hustle and bustle to find a good old-fashioned Pumpkin Patch. There’s fun to be had for all ages, be it a hayride, a pumpkin decorating contest, or searching for the ultimate pumpkin to take home.

Also, you can really go all out and ask your local food banks or shelters if they have any need or desire for fresh pumpkins. One thing that really drives me crazy about this time of year is our ridiculous sense of waste. Pumpkins are fun to decorate, but remember that they can be consumed and enjoyed! Dry out the seeds and roast them for a surprisingly tasty treat.

Cozy Up and Snuggle In

You know that as of this year, I’ve become a huge fan of quilting, so of course I have to recommend getting under some sort of cozy blanket. Even writing that sentence made me sigh deeply with satisfaction. Honestly, even if you don’t make your own little snuggle  quilt, get one wherever you can, claim it as your own – and never let it go.

One of the most beautiful things about this fall season is that each day gives you the opportunity to snuggle up with the ones you love, as well was the things we love. Speaking of cozying up to things we love…

Grab a Great Book and Hunker Down

What would Fall be without embracing the chance to fall in love time and time again? There are so many amazing books to get into, and I’m happy to share a few that are on my list of Autumn cozies: Alyssa Cole’s A Duke by Default (Reluctant Royals #2) has gained so much organic traction, I would be remiss not to grab a copy myself! I can’t wait to read my first story by the author, and I’m sure that it won’t be the last. Tessa Dare’s The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke #2) is also on my list, as it has been widely acclaimed well beyond the realm of Romancelandia. Lastly, Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient is just one that has been floating around in the back of my mind for a while, and so it’s time to go and scratch that itch. Of course, there are many others on my list – outside of romance *gasp*!

What are some of the things that you love to do during the Autumn season? Drop a comment below and share. I’d love to hear from you! Until then, enjoy this happy, colorful season.

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

 

Blogging Advice… ???

How Does Your Blog Measure Up?

As I continue to learn how to juggle blogging with writing, it amazes me how many bloggers are savvy in making sure that their posts get noticed. There’s so much about blogging that I can learn from them, and I’m doing my best to cram more information into this overloaded brain of mine. Keeping my fingers crossed that I can actually retain anything. So many blogs get tons of views, likes, and oh my gosh – even comments. They just rack up on some bogs, while others don’t even get the pitiful sound of crickets chirping. I mean, even if you only hear crickets, at least you know that you’re not completely alone in the blogosphere.

So far, I’ve learned one thing about blogging for sure:

There are Two Types of Bloggers

It seems as though there are two types of bloggers: Those who blog for views, likes, and comments, and those who blog to share original content. At first glance, you may think that a blogger could be one and the same. Actually, no – and I’ll tell you why.

Blogging for Hits

When a person blogs for traffic volume, that is their sole objective. Knowing how to tweek your tags, keywords, etc. will give you an advantage of having more people land on your posts and even interact with you. That’s SEO at its best. But you have to devise the proper “hooks”. Give unsolicited advice (ironically like this post), devising titles that tell you about the “Top 5” of anything, and sharing any sort of “Secret” are surefire indications that the post has been created to reel you in. Or help you. Or both.

Is there anything wrong with this? Not to me. As I mentioned, I’m reading these posts just  like anyone else, hoping to find the golden ticket to mastering a system that I am totally clueless about. These blogs are the ones that actually generate passive income, which is never shabby. Don’t we all want to get paid for the work that we do?

Some days, I worry about traffic. Am I really able to effectively reach my readers, whom I truly value and appreciate? Because I write about “Love and Life” (One Word at a Time), that covers an entire spectrum of topics. This means that it’s difficult for my blog to float above the others, because Google and other search engines don’t really know where to place me, because although I have great content (*ahem*), I’m all over the place.

Welcome to my life, Google.

Blogging to Share

Which brings me to the second type of blogger. These bloggers focus on creating content that satisfies them first. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t keeping their readership in mind, on the contrary; it just means that the blogger is more likely concerned about sharing content that may not be popular, or trending. On the one hand, this can mean great things for the blogger who is concentrating on one specific topic. This ensures that the blogger becomes an expert on one particular subject, and followers can be assured that the blogger knows what’s up.

Then you have bloggers like me. Well, that sentence is inaccurate. I’m a writer who blogs. There is a difference. And for that nuanced reason, I definitely fit into the latter category of bloggers. I share content that I care about, and although I primarily focus on writing, romance, blogging, family, and apparently quilting, I blog about what moves me – which is also exactly the way that I write fiction.

Over time, regardless of which kind of blogger you are, what followers value most is sincerity. We readers can fish out the ones who write from their hearts and those who are vying to get you to just buy their merch. While I want to connect with more of of the world, I’m thankful to connect with you now. As I learn and grow, I want to share with you the things that I’m learning. 😉

If you have any advice, or have an experience to share, let me know!

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Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 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, writing. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.