NaNoWriMo – How Was It for You?

Now that we’re rapidly segueing from a (hopefully) pleasant November to a fast-paced December, it’s the perfect time to start reflecting on the things that were awesome about this year, and well, maybe a few things that weren’t as awesome as we may have hoped.

There were two new creative outlets that I wanted to try this year: One was quilting, and I’m still excited to say that the bug has bitten me and I’m officially an unashamed quilter. I’ve been able to work on so many projects, it’s been a real eyeopener. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some really lovely ladies who are definitely on my Holiday and  Christmas card list this year. As a matter of fact, I’m excited to share one of my more recent projects with you next week.

The second creative outlet that I tried for the first time this year was the NaNoWriMo. For those of you who may have missed previous posts, this is a fun competition where your goal is to write a novel (or the equivalent of 50,000 words or more) within the month of November.

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Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

Firstly, I’m proud to say that I accomplished that goal, and I was sure to do it before Thanksgiving, because well, turkey. There was no way that I was going to roll from the dinner table to my desk and be able to produce a coherent thought, so I preemptively tossed thousands of words on the screen while I still had my mental faculties about me.

The manuscript it terribly raw, but because I’m a planter, there is plenty that can be salvaged from it. I found a portion of this experience to be a bit of a pro, because I was able to share my word count progress as often as I wished. However, my primary purpose of participating was to get to know more writers in my area (SoCal), and of course, connect with amazing writers online.

On a social aspect, I wanted to feel more interaction with other writers, and I feel as though that was a bit of bust. There isn’t really any fault here, but I do consider it to be a con. Writing is a private experience for most of us, most of the time, and trying to socialize a private act is not always going to end in the result that we initially thought that we’d have. If you need a hard example of this, just Google “his and her toilets”. Nice idea; poor execution.

Don’t get me wrong – in theory, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with others, both online and in person. I’m happy to have met more folks on Twitter who also LOVE to write. That’s an affirmative win for me. I’m going to take a wait and see attitude about this and slowly but surely look into getting to know more writers after this November and holiday frenzy are over.

Aim for Another Win Next Year?

Ultimately, I have to see if I want to participate in the NaNoWriMo again next year. I like the idea of supporting and encouraging other writers, and to me, it’s definitely not about getting all of the numbers of words down. Will I aim to win again next year? Only time will tell.

How was your experience with NaNoWriMo? Did you win? Share your thoughts 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, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more.

Riley’s Epiphany. A Short Story

I hope that you’ve had a fantastic November. I haven’t shared any writing tidbits in a while, and as I’m finishing up this manuscript for Book 2 in my YA sweet romance series, I thought that I would improvise the first scene from another potential story. Enjoy!

Riley’s Epiphany

Riley saw her, and he knew that she was his.

It wasn’t about possession or dominance; it was the bone-deep confirmation that an integral part of him – a part that he didn’t even know was missing – was suddenly standing right in front of him. Never had he seen a smile so radiant with a row of perfectly straight, white teeth that were slightly too large for her mouth. Even her body couldn’t contain the potency of that smile, he thought with a half-grin. Her lips were full, their perpetual pout sensual and playful at the same time. His eyes, greedy and eager to take all of her in, were drawn to those moistened lips, broad and slightly flushed as she bit the lower one to contain her mirth.

The sight of her easygoing, positive nature made an unfamiliar heat unfurl in the center of his belly. The warmth gave his courage sustenance that he otherwise never would have had. Detmernined steps were fuled by a confidence that Riley would normally never possess. What would he say to her? What should he say to her – “Hi there, I’m Ri, and I just want you to know that you’re my future wife”? The absurdity of the thought made him smile.

His smile must have caught her attention because suddenly, she was walking towards him – no,  it was an all out squeal and skip-run combination. His grin grew wider – could she feel the connection between them, too? 

Arms outstretched, he stood, knees bent, his body braced in anticipation of her approach.  She ran, smiling, now laughing – her pure joy sparkling like the myriad particles in a sunbeam – right into the arms of his best friend.

In the back of his throat, Riley tasted the bitter bile of hate for the first time in his life.

Rileys-epiphany

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.

Who’s Making NaNoWriMo Happen?

#NaNoWriMo

In addition to the #NovemberGratitude Challenge that I issued to myself and the world last week, I accepted another challenge at the beginning of November.

For the first time ever, I’m participating in the National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. The ultimate goal is to spend the month of November writing a novel, and end up with a word count of 50,000 by the end of the month. (Don’t freak out too much – that’s pretty much 1,667 words a day.) If you’re able to make that a reality, you’re a winner!

Honestly, with two U.S. holidays in the month, November is probably the worst month to sign up for such a challenge, but I’ve been hammering away at my latest WIP (work in progress), so I’m actually super excited to begin. Ultimately, I want to get to know more like-minded writers, and obviously, I’m excited to tackle Book 2 of my most recent series. If all goes well, that will be two books in one year – I really like the sound of that.

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Who’s With Me?

As the month of November progresses, I’m excited to tell you about the YA/NA sweet-heat romance novella series that I’ve been working on. (Don’t worry – my adult novels have plenty of respectful spice in them, but I also wanted to create a warm series for older teenagers.) Hopefully, by the end of the month, I will have both the remnants of a delicious Thanksgiving dinner and a complete manuscript on my table. I look forward to sharing the progress (and possible pitfalls) as the month progresses!

Check out the sidebar for a daily update of my progress towards 50,000 words!

If you’re also participating in #NaNoWriMo, take some time to let me know! As in all things, the more Writing Buddies we have, the higher the chances of success. I’m Atina Atwood on the nanowrimo.org website. Although I know that I *should* be on Facebook and Instagram more often, I’m still more of a Twitter Girl, so DM or follow me @Atina_Atwood, and with discretion, I’ll be sure to follow you back for support. This is a great way to feel inspired, write to your heart’s content, and see where your thoughts and your words take you. Keep on working on that #NovemberGratittude Challenge, too!

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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.

Thursday’s Romantic Thought: Kissing in the Rain

Two lovers in the rain

have no need of an umbrella.

~Japanese Proverb

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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, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

Short Story: Ali & Nick (Continued)

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Ali & Nick

Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve returned to Ali & Nick. Sometimes, when I’m delving in the business of other folks, aka writing, some stories rush forward, demanding to be told, while others choose to take the time of a gently blossoming flower. The story with Ali and Nick is a bit more like the latter than the former.

If you haven’t had a chance to get to know Ali & Nick, or since it’s been a while, get to know them in the first installment of the short story here. Now, without further adieu, their story continues…

Nick

“I’m just gonna assume that you’re Nick.” Her strong voice was no nonsense, smooth as butter, and carried the faint overtones of reproach.

“Yeah, that’s me.” Why do I always sound like an idiot in real life? 

When a computer is in front of me, it becomes my shield, and I can approach anyone as though we are equal. My confidence soars, and I know exactly how I want to express myself. If the words don’t look right, I can simply erase them and try again. In real life, I only get one chance, and as soon as I open my mouth, I somehow end up feeling like a first-class dunce.

Miraculously, she sat down, and I scrambled to remove the scarf that I’d thrown over the chair to reserve a spot for her. I send a silent prayer of thanks to my Grandmother for having at least taught me manners. Nervously, I cleared my throat.

“Thank you so much for coming. I know that neither one of us is really into meeting face to face…” 

As soon as I mentioned the word face, I lost my train of thought. Ali is truly beautiful. Now that I’ve had a chance to see her in real life, her profile picture seemed like a caricature. Her eyes were the color and shape of a roasted almond, a mesmerizing shade of light brown just on the verge of turning dark. At first glance, I could tell that those eyes were perceptive — they noticed everything with judgement and a hint of distrust. Under her intense scrutiny, I was no exception.

“…And yet, you insisted that we meet.” Ali readjusted herself in the overstuffed chair, scooting back with her legs primly crossed at the ankles. 

I battled with my eyes to keep them above her neckline, but eventually, I lost the war. Her legs got longer by the second, and that eggplant purple skirt ended just a few tantalizing inches above her knees. The black button-up blouse that she wore was modest, some sort of silky material with long sleeves and a high collar. I don’t know how it worked, but it did. She pulled off sexy and sophisticated at the same time, and while I felt nothing but admiration and attraction, I also felt even more inept wearing just jeans a t-shirt with the logo of my brother’s auto shop business. When my eyes finally returned to hers, a faint sparkle of mirth in them reminded me of gold.

“Yeah, I know.” I sighed and ran a hand through the length of my hair. I was overdue for a haircut, but times were tough and I didn’t have the $20 to throw towards vanity. 

“So, now that we’re face to face, what is it that you feel you need to say, Nick? You already know that I’m out of my comfort zone here, but the past few months have been… nice.” Ali paused, and I could have sworn that the heat of a blush stained her cheeks.

“Look,” I started, already exasperated by the amount of words we’d already exchanged, but hadn’t really gotten anywhere. “I just needed to see you, face to face. I needed to know if you were — real.” 

There, I said it. At risk of looking like a complete idiot in a public place, I had to lay everything out on the line. Because the truth of the matter is, this online thing between us isn’t enough for me anymore.

“What do you want from me?”

Her features had softened at my outburst, and now she stared at me thoughtfully, with genuine interest. I was relieved that she hadn’t walked away, or worse, outright laughed in my face. Still, I knew that Ali was highly intelligent, and combined with her beauty and wit, she was definitely a force to be reckoned with.

There was no way that I could honestly answer her question. Not now. Not when my mouth, heart, and soul wanted to confess to her that I wanted anything and everything she was willing to give me.

***************************************TBC*****************************************

I can’t wait to find out what happens next! Be on the lookout for my next installment (sooner rather than later).

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.

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.

 

The Three BEST Things About Romance Novels

Romance ALWAYS Has a Happy Ending

One the nicest things about real romance novels is the fact that no matter what your heroes go through, there WILL be a happily-ever-after (HEA), or the more recent happy-for-now (HFN) ending. If you don’t get one of those, then it isn’t a romance novel. It’s always grotesquely entertaining when people try to argue away this fact. Sure, there are novels that have very heavy romantic elements, but if the two heroes don’t waltz or hobble away together at the end of the story, certain that they are capable of loving and being loved, then my friend, you simply just read some other kind of story with a lot of romantic elements in it, but it wasn’t a romance. Don’t get upset. It happens. A romance novel always has a happy ending, even if it’s “for now”. Period. 

Romance is is Predictably Unpredictable

The fact that romance is predictably unpredictable is the part that keeps me coming back time and time again. I only started getting into romance novels when I was working on my dissertation and needed something to help me decompress during those myriad sleepless nights. I’ll never forget how grateful I was to be able to divert my overactive mind to focus on two main characters who were fate-bound and were destined to be okay, if not more than okay, at the end of it all. No matter how unpredictably the plot line may shift or twist, predictably, everything will turn out alright in the end. More or less. You may end up with fewer characters, but oh well. The two heroes are really what matter most.

I generally average about a book a night, and every single night, I’m getting a bird’s eye view of other people’s lives. At this point in my life, this has also become research, but I welcome it every time. Each book is different, and the journey may be as unique as the characters are, but they will be rewarded with the ultimate prize – requited love –  every single time. Yay!!!

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Romance Has a Place for EVERYONE

Although the genre has a loooooooong way to go in terms of representation, people in the industry are starting to wake up to the fact that readers want to read about people falling in love who are like themselves. This means that not every hero can be blonde haired, blue eyed rail thin model, or have honey-wheat locks that frame a heart-shaped face with piercingly green eyes but “curves to die for”. Characters who are People of Color want love just the same, and People of Faith want their chance, just as anyone in the LGBTQ+ community does. Love is love, folks, and that’s what romance it all about. It’s up to us to choose what we personally enjoy when we read, but it’s important to emphasize that we readers should have a choice. And it’s our responsibly as writers to provide options to the best of our ability and personal preference.

It’s refreshing to see that Rom/Coms are making their way back into the mainstream, from book to film, giving us all the feels we’re familiar with, but with different faces and different shapes. If tons of folks can get into paranormal romance, then I suppose people with “diverse backgrounds” shouldn’t be that much of stretch for people…. but only time will tell. Keep reading, keep loving, and keep an open mind – and heart.

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.

When Characters Become Dictators

Sometimes Characters Tell You Who They Are. Sometimes They Don’t.

UGH.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, maybe I can go ahead and finish this manuscript that should have been finished 2 months ago.

When you write, it’s amazing to see how many different approaches and techniques that you’ll inevitably use. Each project is like a new experiment, what worked once is never guaranteed to work a second time. Well, except for the sit down and write part.

My latest work, a sweet, YA novella that is slated for release in late October, is the one that is giving me grief. Already at 16,500 words, this novella is screaming for more character depth and development. The heroine and hero want to be super fleshed-out, not just two little gamey tropes, and here’s the gut-puncher of it all – they BOTH want their stories told in the first person narrative.

Which, for whatever reason, totally isn’t my thing. Normally, my developed stories play out in my mind in an arc, and I get to report to everyone else as I observe the action as it takes place in the sweet-spot of third person omniscient.

Not this time.

Stories WANT to be Written

My husband keeps chuckling because I’m complaining about how the story wants to be written in the 1st person. It may sound strange when I say things like that, but it’s totally true. Eventually, stories have lives of their own. It’s a beautiful thing, and a frustrating thing at the same time. I can fully understand how some people call their works “book babies”, because there are a few similarities involved. In any case, this novella is currently throwing a tantrum, and at 3:00 this morning, I finally heard my hero whine “Hey, what about my side of things?” (Insert eye-roll here.)

Since he’s 100% right, damn him, I’ve got to go back and slap his perspective on everything in subsequent chapters. Had this story wanted to be written in 3PO, I would have been finished months ago. Now, I’m off schedule by about 3-4 weeks, and you know, no pressure there.

Teenagers. *Sigh* Here’s hoping for the best, and that I do these kids justice.

Sending Love and Light to you all.

©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.

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The BLURB

Blurb: Selling Your Dream in 150 Words or Less

Now, don’t get confused. I did write the Blurb and not the Blob. I’m talking about Blurbs here, although in some ways, blurbs are equally as terrifying as any classic horror film.

It’s a funny thing, being a writer. We spend so much of our waking hours spinning words and creating worlds, delving into the complex lives of characters who live in our minds, yet have to be reborn and developed on paper.

We finally conjure up a written work that has 20,000 words or more – it’s a miracle! – and then, we have to condense it all into 150 words or less. The dreaded BLURB.

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People tend to forget that some of the most convincing artists, writers, and performers are often deliciously socially-awkward introverts who would rather be in some quiet, cocooned place somewhere, and yet they have this inner Drang to share their innermost with others through a specific medium.

Blurbs Are Silly, Very Important Little Things.

I’m not necessarily talking about us writers and folks in the creative/performing arts. (Nyep, I probably am.) But I’m actually thinking about the huge hurdle of writing a blurb. Why did I go through all of the trouble of telling you an elaborate story if you only want to hear about it in 6 complex sentences, or 10 if I keep things simple???

Anyway, as you may have guessed by now, I’m at the blurb phase of one of my latest stories. It’s the first in a fun, light, sweet YA romance series, and best of all, to my most faithful of followers, it will be FREE to those who sign up for my newsletter.

So, while I’m enjoying life in Blurblandia, let’s keep in touch on social media outlets like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest in the meantime.

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, Google+, and Pinterest for more.