Twelve Days of Christmas: Phyllis Campbell

Phyllis Campbell is a multi-published author of romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who makes your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Here she shares her favorite family tradition…

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A new family tradition that we started a few years back was to take our grandkids to see Christmas lights. There is a drive-through park not far from our town that is full of Christmas lights and decorations. In this little Christmas village they have a Santa Claus tent where the kids can sit on Santa’s lap and get a candycane. My grandkids love doing this, and afterwards we’ll come back to my house to have hot chocolate. This has now become my favorite tradition. Is it any wonder since I enjoy spending time with the grandkids.

Comment below with your favorite holiday tradition and be entered to win a $25 gift card from the book seller of your choice!
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Becoming a Lady from Summons from His Grace…

His Grace

Dorothy Paxton is not pleased when a handsome Englishman walks into her inn and announces he’s taking her back to England to reunite with the grandfather who turned his back on her years ago. Her escort, Calvin Seton, bribes her by paying her brother’s doctor’s bills, and soon she’s on the ship sailing for London. Little by little, Calvin’s charm softens her heart. While her lady’s companion teaches her to become a lady, Dorothy is secretly wishing Mr. Seton would do some teaching of his own…in his bedroom. Yet she must control her desires or she’s no better than her mother who succumbed to a nobleman, only to have him leave her. Dorothy will not repeat history. Or will she?

Purchase now from these online retailers! (Also available at iTunes, Smashwords, and other major e-booksellers)Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Visit Phyllis’s website / blog to discover more about her – http://phylliscampbell.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @phylliscampbell

Practice Makes Perfect! (And GIVEAWAY!)

I had an epiphany the other day. One of those light bulb moments that made me stop and go, “Wow! What a great way of looking at things!”

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, trying to avoid cleaning and packing for our big move, when I came across a post from one of my favorite “gurus,” John Asseraf. He describes himself as “a spiritual entrepreneur, philanthropist and teacher with an insatiable passion for brain research, quantum physics and helping others achieve and live their ideal life.” He’s written many NY Times Best Selling books, and it’s just inspiring to read his posts or watch him speak.

So, naturally, when I came across a post of his, I stopped to read it.

I love watching the Olympics. Getting to see these athletes get to compete after years of training is so powerful for me as a metaphor re what it takes to be the top or one of the best in your field. What amount of practice do you do to prepare to be your best? These Athletes are a great reminder for me.

Great, right? But I didn’t think too much of it. Not until I scrolled through the comments and saw this one from one of his followers:

John, the one thing that I like about your post is that you mention the ‘…amount of practice’ as opposed to the amount of ‘hard work’ it takes to be the best. This may just seem like a play on words but really, if it’s your dream to become the best at your passion, it’s no longer work. When I watch all those brilliant athletes, I see ppl who have identified their dreams and that, to me, is an achievement in itself…

Boy, is that a fantastic way of breaking things down?

Now, I come from a mindset already of “Work smarter, not harder.” I’ve always eschewed the idea of “Work hard, play hard.” And I certainly don’t believe that a person’s income is or has to be directly related to the amount of “hard work” they put in.

But still, there have been plenty of days when pumping out a couple pages of my manuscript felt like grueling work! That’s right. Not just hard work…grueling work!

Part of this comes as a result of the pressure of wanting to earn money at what I do. And oftentimes, that takes the fun out of things.

I remember as a young girl and a teenager that I would spend countless hours in my room singing, dancing, rehearsing monologues, all in preparation to be a big Broadway star. But as soon as graduating college became contingent on my doing those things, and eventually paying the bills, as well…well, it became work. In my mind, when I rehearsed a monologue, it wasn’t just to satisfy my own burning desire to learn and perform, it was to get a very important piece of paper from the Manhattan School of Music. When I attempted to perfect a song, it was to get a job so that I could pay my bills. And all that felt very much like work.

When I first started writing in my late 20s (having burnt out completely in the performance arena), boy, was that fun! My hubby was working long weekend hours at the time, so as soon as he would leave for the day, I would put on a frilly dress and my tiara (yes, I have a tiara!), sit down at my desk and go! Friends would call me to meet up for coffee or lunch, but I didn’t want to leave my desk. I wanted to play with my imaginary friends.

On top of that, I spent hours and hours and hours reading, researching, going to the library and the bookstore to find more reading material that involved Regency England.

I. Was. Obsessed.

And I really felt that giving back and helping others would help me hone my craft even better, so I spent even more hours critiquing manuscripts for my colleagues.

And then I got a publishing contract.

And then I had a kid.

And then I self-published some more books.

And my kid became a toddler.

And now, writing feels like a whole heck of a lot of work.

But what if I changed my perspective on it? What if I looked at my writing time as an opportunity to practice something that I truly love to do. To hone a skill, just for my own satisfaction? I’m my own boss anyway, so it’s not like I have to write to deadlines or anything. But I do have an obligation to my readers to write to the best of my ability, don’t I? So why, when I don’t have time or financial constraints, would I write for any other reason than to hone my craft and be the best I can be?

So that’s my plan. As soon as we’re settled in our new home and I’m ready to start writing again, I’m going to attempt to go about it with a different mind set. I’m going to try to recapture those early days when writing was something I was doing to fulfill my soul, not fill my bank account. And who knows, maybe that’s what it will take for me to write the “next great American novel.” 🙂

So, those are my thoughts for the day…I hope they’ve been inspiring 🙂 What do you think? Do you struggle with certain things because you think of them as work? Do you think a shift in your mindset regarding those things would help make them feel less arduous and more fun or satisfying?

GIVEAWAY:

Leave a relevant comment below, I’ll give you one entry in my super duper awesome giveaway! (Relevant means that comments like “Great post” or “Please enter me in the giveaway” do NOT count!)

What’s the giveaway, you ask??

Well, I have in my possession the entire DVD box set of A&E Romance Classics *gasp* *cheers* *applause* For those who aren’t sure what that entails, here are the deets:

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice

Jane Austen’s Emma

A&E’s Original Movie Victoria & Albert

Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

R.D. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone

Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe

and the Baroness D’Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel

But wait! There are more ways to win!! For every one of the following actions, you will get one entry in the giveaway…

Like me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Like TimelessQuills on Facebook

Follow TimelessQuills on Twitter

So that makes FIVE ways to win! Good luck, everyone!! I’ll announce the winner on Monday, August 20!

Gretna Green

I came to a point in my new WIP yesterday where I needed some resources on anvil weddings at Gretna Green. When you type “Gretna Green” or “Anvil Weddings” into Google, you get the Wikipedia listing, along with a ton of hotels that want you to come and have a wedding with them now. Not 200 years ago.

So, of course, I went to my trusted writing group and asked if anybody had any good resources for my research. The fantastic Aileen Fish came back with the most amazing link! It’s to a book that you can read right online for free called The Gretna Green Memoirs by Robert Elliot. If you’re a history buff like me, you won’t be able to put this book down. Tale after tale of real couples running away to Gretna Green, and all the drama that surrounds it. Not even the writers on Desperate Housewives could have come up with this much drama.

Admittedly, I’m still only a few stories in, so I can’t speak for the entire book…but so far, it’s been pretty riveting. Possibly my favorite piece of research ever!

Get the book here: The Gretna Green Memoirs by Robert Elliot

Samantha Grace: Interview & Giveaway!

I am so privileged to have the incomparable Samantha Grace as  a critique partner, but even more importantly, as my friend. I know she’s swamped with blog tours and such with her new release coming up, so I asked if I could run the super fun interview we did from a couple of years ago. She said yes! So, without further ado, here’s the interview…

1)   What is the most interesting trip you have ever taken?

I traveled to Zambia in 1991 to visit my mother who was living there at the time. I stayed for nine weeks. I learned a lot from that trip, some things I didn’t realize until later. I loved submersing myself in a different culture with a slower pace than America. I developed an appreciation for the wealth of our nation, and I learned a lesson in humility and generosity. I had brought gifts with me to give to the people who worked at my family’s home. Toward the end of my stay, the lady who cleaned the house gave me a duck as a show of friendship. My gifts were nothing of great value, trinkets really, but this gift could feed her family when they had very little for themselves. I’m still in awe of this woman’s beautiful soul. This experience inspired me to give unconditionally when I give and to become a kinder person. And the overall experience helped me better focus on what I really need in my life (the basics of survival, family, friends, love and purpose) versus what popular culture tells me I need.

2)   What is the funniest thing you have ever experienced?

This is very hard to answer, because I find humor in everyday life. I think my brain is hardwired for comedy. Nevertheless, the best stories are when I can laugh at myself, like the time I grabbed my new work cell phone from my van on a Monday morning with the intention of programming numbers into it. Low and behold, there were numbers already programmed into the directory. How odd, I thought, and proceeded to delete them. That is until I came across my brother-in-law’s number and then my husband’s. Finally, I saw the name of my friend’s mother-in-law. Aha! I figured it out and I must say, “How clever.” I called my friend. “Well, it’s the weirdest thing. I got a new work cell phone and it has such and such numbers in it. Did you turn in a phone to US Cellular?” She said, “No, but I left my phone in your van yesterday.” Total forehead slapping moment. You’d think I’d be too embarrassed to tell anyone, but it was hilarious. I couldn’t help myself.

3)   Who is your favorite author and why?

There are many great writers, and Wally Lamb is one of my favorites. He is a phenomenal writer with great insight into characters, and he weaves intricate plots that fit together beautifully. Mr. Lamb inspires me.

4)     If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

I would be Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. Even though Willoughby hurts her in the end, I admire her willingness to risk it all for a chance at great happiness. Then she opens herself up again, allows Colonel Brandon to love her, and finds an alternate route to happiness, less exciting, but solid and satisfying all the same.

5)     If you were a can of soup, what variety would you be?

I love this question. Alphabet Soup? I am a writer, after all.

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll rush right out and get Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half , book 2 in her Beau Monde Bachelor series (currently on pre-order, but official release is this Tuesday, June 5!) Here’s the blurb from the back jacket cover…

JAKE BROKE HER HEART BY LEAVING HER AFTER SHARING A PASSIONATE KISS.

LADY AMELIA BROKE HIS BY MARRYING HIS BEST FRIEND.

When she returns to town a widow—pursued by an infamous rake, Jake’s debauched brother, and just maybe by himself—Lady Amelia will have a mess and a half on her hands.

A sparkling romp through the ton, Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half delivers a witty Regency romance in which misunderstandings abound, reputations are put on the line, and the only thing more exciting than a scandal is true love.

Thanks for letting me run the interview again, Samantha…and best of luck on the new release!! 🙂

GIVEAWAY!

One lucky commenter will receive free copies of both Samantha’s Lady Amelia’s Mess and Half, as well as a copy of my newest release, The Gypsy Bride!

Please make sure you visit Samantha on the web:

Romantic Times Convention!

Well, I think I’m finally settled after a crazy week in Chicago, which was followed by a crazy week trying to get our 2-year-old resettled at home (she spent the week with Grandma and Grandpa)

I apologize for the delay in this post, but in addition to dealing with a slightly crazy kid, I’ve also been very hard at work at the next installment of The Daring Debutante’s series. The Gypsy Bride is well under way, and I’m having SO much fun writing it! I do hope everyone will have as much fun reading it 🙂

Anyhoo, a few quick highlights of my week in Chicago…

1) Getting to be with my “girlz”, Ava Stone and Tammy Falkner (who collectively make up Lydia Dare), Jane Charles, Catherine Gayle, Erin Knightly, Samantha Grace and Rose Gordon — some of my very best friends in the world! We were nearly inseparable and had SO much fun together!

2) Getting to spend time with some other authors that I love and admire, like Deb Marlowe, Sabrina Jeffries, Heather Snow and L.J. Charles, and getting to meet tons more fabulous authors!

3) Getting to sign my books at a BIG book signing!

4) Getting to taste all kinds of alcoholic Regency beverages! That was a really fun workshop, and it made me VERY grateful that I live in 2012. It also makes me wonder what people will think of Cosmos and Mudslides 200 years from now! LOL!

5) Playing “Who Wants to be a Duchess” led by Ava Stone, Sabrina Jeffries, Deb Marlowe and Tammy Falkner. My hubby and I both made it to baroness status and walked around the rest of the day in our boas 🙂

6) Meeting readers!!! Fans are what make all the hard work worth while, and meeting them in person is the greatest thing in the world!

7) Forcing my fellow cohorts in the new Timeless Quills Historical Romance group to join in a photo shoot. I love the camera, from both sides, but I’m pretty much alone in that area. Ha!

Here are some pics from the week! Hope you enjoy!

The Betting Season

I’ve teamed up once again with some of my favorite Regency Romance authors to write The Betting Season. In this fun and lighthearted anthology, Four young women embark on their first London Season, only to find themselves the subjects of scandalous bets…

Here’s the blurb for my own story, The Marriage Trap…

When Miss Patience Findley discovers, at her first ball of her first Season, just how much her father’s scandal has affected her chances of marriage, she resigns herself to being alone and dying a spinster. That is, until she hears that her friends’ names have landed in the Betting Book at White’s. In a moment of desperation, she asks her reprobate cousin to place a bet on her behalf, in hopes of trapping an unsuspecting gentleman into marriage.
Tristan Wallford, Lord Swaffham, loves a good challenge. So when his friend, Rowan Findley, claims that his cousin Patience cannot be cured of her melancholy state, Tristan lays a bet that he will be the one to cure her. He could certainly use the money, after all. But as the game begins, Tristan begins to realize that not only does Miss Findley not need curing, but she might be worth trapping for himself.

And just for fun, here’s a little insight into our hero and heroine…

Tristan Wafford, Lord Swaffham, loved women. He loved them in all their shapes and sizes and colors. He loved to engage them in conversation and he especially loved to engage them in the bedroom. He had no scruples to speak of really. As a matter of fact, he’d left many a weeping woman in their beds without so much as a backward glance.

Many found him a despicable man, a disgrace to his sex, yet women still flocked to his side. Desperate mamas thrust their eligible daughters into his path at social events, and he had been guilty of making those eligible daughters slightly less eligible on more than one occasion. But Tristan had a knack for getting himself out of sticky situations, and therefore, he remained a bachelor at the ripe age of nine-and-twenty. Which was exactly how he preferred it to be.

——-

Miss Patience Findley was starting to realize that she was anything but patient, as her name would indicate. As a matter of fact, she probably should have been named Impatience, though she realized it wasn’t nearly as nice of a name as simply Patience. Either way, her current mood did not reflect her given name….

The only thing she had to recommend her was a sizeable dowry, but it came from trade, so not everyone was interested in pursuing the connection. It didn’t help that she wasn’t terribly attractive. She had hair every bit as black as her Indian stepmother, only she didn’t have the coffee-colored skin to complement it. No, she was as white as the dress she wore this evening. She imagined it looked as if an inky black cat was floating about the room atop a ghostly apparition.

Look for The Betting Season at all major ebook outlets soon!

Finding *the* Book

Okay…I seriously don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m a writer, for heaven’s sake. Therefore, I should be a reader, shouldn’t I? I used to LOVE reading! I guess it was 5 or 6 years ago now, I became an avid reader. I hadn’t been much of one before — maybe 10 books a year, if that. But then I found the romance genre and started devouring more like 30-40 books a year (which is a lot for me since I can be a slow reader)

When I started writing, it slowed a little bit to maybe 20 books a year. But ever since I had my daughter two years ago, I can probably count the number of books I’ve read to completion on one hand.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I do a good amount of beta reading for my fellow authors, and I have to say, I tend to prefer their work over what I’m buying from Amazon, B&N or iBooks. Granted, all their stuff ends up being at those outlets, since most of them are now well-known published authors, so I’m lucky enough to get sneak peaks.

But every time I open a book sample on my iPad, I get through maybe the first chapter and then I put it down. I don’t know what I’m looking for. A change in genre? Maybe, but that hasn’t proved successful yet. So maybe I haven’t found a genre I like. A return to my younger years? I used to LOVE those YA beach romances or Montana-rancher style contemporary romances, and part of me is craving that now. I just don’t know where to begin to look.

So I’m turning to you, dear readers, to help me get back on track. Recommend your favorite light-hearted, romantic books for me. Help me find the book(s) that will rekindle my love for reading! Please!! 🙂

A Week of Thanksgiving…

Yesterday morning, I woke up and jumped onto Facebook, only to realize that this was the week of Thanksgiving. That’s right. I totally thought we had another week, so I was feeling completely blind sided. How could it have snuck up on me like this? Looking back, there were signs…lots of friends talking about how their in-laws were already in town for the holiday, or other friends who had already taken off for vacation. I just kept thinking, “Wow. Lucky ducks that they can take so much time away from home and work to celebrate the holiday.”

Anyhoo, now that I know what week it is, I’ve decided to get my Gratitude Girdle on! That’s right. There are Thinking Caps, Fancy Pants and now…Gratitude Girdles. But instead of stuffing rolls of fat into this girdle, I’m going to stuff all the things I’m grateful for into it. So, here are my Top 10 Reasons to be Grateful this year…

1. My husband. He is, to put it plainly, the kind of man every woman dreams about. He’s handsome, romantic, smart, hilarious…and really good in the sack.

2. My daughter. When she’s not driving me to the brink of insanity, she’s pretty darned amazing. Funny and adorable, she’s everything I dreamed my little girl would be.

3. My cat. Dr. Snuggle has provided more than 12 years of loyal service warming my feet at night and discoloring my carpet with his vomit.

4. My critique partners. I don’t know what I would do without them. I can tell them things that I can’t tell the rest of the world, and they understand and support me no matter what. Oh, and they’re really good at critiquing my manuscripts.

5. Pasta. For being so easy to make and for delivering Parmesan cheese to my mouth.

6. Cindy Loo. She’s the best puppet in the world, and she makes my day a little brighter when I stick my hand up her hoo-ha.

7. My nanny. She does all the stuff I don’t like to do, like dishes and laundry and cleaning poop out of the crib, in addition to providing the most amazing care for our little princess.

8. My local mommy friends. I would probably think I was crazy if it weren’t for my mom friends telling me I’m not.

9. The rest of my family. Eric and I may have slightly dysfunctional families, but we know it could be so much worse. And when compared with other people’s families, we don’t seem that dysfunctional at all. Actually, we’re all functioning quite well together these days, and that’s certainly something to be grateful for.

10. Vampire Diaries and Christmas Music. These two things make me extremely happy right now, so I’m grouping them together in my “things that make me happy” category.

If you leave a comment with the things you’re most grateful for this year, I’ll enter you into the Regency Christmas Summons Prize Extravaganza!

Everybody loves a SALE!!

This summer, some of my critique partners and I got together and wrote “beach reads”– Stories that actually take place on the beach or in a summery setting of some sort. Two of them are available now for your reading pleasure, and from now until the end of August, they will be on sale for $0.99! Find out more about the stories below…

From Air to Eternity by Lilia Birney

Click here to purchase from Amazon

Katrin O’Connor ekes out a lonely existence in the beachfront village of Beaufort, North Carolina, after her husband’s death in a helicopter crash five years ago. Determined to stay grounded and avoid further heartache, Katrin has stayed out of the dating scene–until Mike Williams breezes into her life during one fateful summer day.

Mike Williams makes a living as a flight instructor, going from military base to military base. But the bachelor life loses its appeal the moment he meets Katrin O’Connor. Determined to win her over despite her aloofness and her fears, Mike finds he may have to choose between two passions–his love for flying and his love for Katrin.

Will Katrin relinquish her fears and fly once more? Will Mike have to give up one passion to satisfy another?

Cruise to Destiny by Jerrica Knight-Catania

Click the picture to purchase from Amazon

Melanie Smith has sacrificed everything in her attempt to make it to Broadway—everything including her love life, or any life at all for that matter. But when her best friends practically kidnap her for a 6-day Bermuda cruise, she’s reminded that there’s more to life than auditions and waiting tables.

Devon Matthews earned his massive fortune at the ripe age of twenty-eight, and after a meaningless playboy existence, he’s desperate for more meaning in his life. He takes a position as a massage therapist on a cruise ship, hoping to enrich his life through work and travel. But it’s the mysterious Melanie that inspires true change in Devon’s heart.

Will it just be another summer fling? Or will Devon and Melanie find their destiny aboard this summer cruise?

Both books are also available at bn.com for Nook: From Air to Eternity or Cruise to Destiny

Happy Summer Reading!