Springtime in Colorado

029I love Spring!  Flowers, warm temperatures, and the hope of new beginning and summer to follow. In Colorado, however, it is always such an up and down ride.  80 degrees and sunshine one day, snow and 20 degrees the next.  And so it goes back and forth through March, April, and sometimes even May.  Just when you get out your shorts and flip-flops for good, you have to reach back in the closet for snow boots and mittens.

In January this year my daughter and I scheduled a horseback riding weekend trip to the mountains for the third weekend in March. I know, very risky.  March came in like a lamb, with temperatures in the mid-70’s the first two weekends. I waited for the other shoe to drop. And sure enough, the night before we were to leave, the snow started falling intensely. We made it to the ranch, where we spent the day Saturday on horseback, in the cold, below freezing weather saved only by layers and layers of warm clothes and those wonderful little hand warmer packets stuffed in our mittens and boots. No bright Colorado sunshine to be seen. But as happens, Sunday morning dawned with dark blue sky and the temp quickly warmed to the 50’s. Boy did we appreciated the warmth. A great time was had, despite the changes in the weather. And I got some magnificent pictures.

What a difference a day makes! I love Colorado.166

 

Snow day- the down side to a home office

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I moved my office to my home at the beginning of the year. So far its been a mostly positive experience. On cold winter days, no more driving across town in the cold, getting all bundled up, all I do is put on my fuzzy slippers and walk up a flight of stairs, cup of hot tea in my hand, to my office. It’s warm and cozy in here. And I am getting more accomplished each day, not nearly as many distractions as in the office building downtown. All good. Yesterday it snowed some, and I didn’t have to go out and slip and slide on the icy roads.

Then this morning I wake up to another foot of fresh snow. The radio is blaring out the closures. All schools and most businesses are closed for the day. Everyone gets a snow day! I turn to Facebook to hear stories of sledding and building snowmen, friends watching movies for the whole day in their pajamas or reading a great novel.  Everyone loves those days when they have an excuse to just enjoy the day, when it is impossible and excused to stay home and do nothing. It’s good for the soul.

Where am I you ask? You guessed it, in my office working away in my fuzzy slippers with my cup of tea.  It was easy to walk up the stairs this morning. Not a snowflake on me. I had no excuse. My office wasn’t hard to get to at all.  I tried to give myself permission to just take the day off like everyone else, but without an excuse, I couldn’t convince myself to do it. I’m working away, just like every other day as I occasionally look out the window at my neighbor on his dune buggy pulling a sled behind it down the street filled with giggling grandchildren. Maybe I’ll give my self permission to shut down a little early and see if he will give me a ride 🙂

 

Welcome 2016!

2016

Here I am (or at least a reasonable bitmoji facsimile of me) looking forward to a bright 2016.  I have to admit I was ready to leave 2015 behind.  It was a hard year in many ways. My business slowly declined and failed to pick up the entire year forcing me to make the hard decision to close my office downtown, where I had been for 16 years, and move my office into my home last week.  I didn’t know how it would all work out–still don’t–but I am looking forward to a great new beginning and a more productive and profitable year.

Not that 2015 was all bad. In fact, some very awesome things happened this past year. I self-published my first two romance novels, Colorado Sunset and Breakfast for Two, and while I haven’t sold enough books yet to quit my day job, I have sold more than expected and gotten some wonderful reviews 🙂  Colorado Sunset even hit number one on Amazon’s best seller list for contemporary western romances for a couple of days in October!  The first draft of my third book in my Peakview Series, Colorado Cabin in the Pines, is complete and in the process of editing, so I’m moving ahead.  I also just sold another story to Chicken Soup for the Soul, my 5th.  I am truly honored to be a part of such wonderful, inspiring books.

I’m looking forward to some great events this year: my youngest daughter’s wedding on October first, a mission trip to San Francisco in June and attending the RWA convention in San Diego in July.  In between, the plan is to complete and publish three more books this year. I honestly smile whenever I think about the year ahead.  I am moving forward confidently, and it’s going to be a great year. I hope you all move confidently into the new year and look forward to great things to come, regardless of where you are right now.

Make a difference

What makes a novel a best seller? Before I started on my writing journey, I would have said that what you needed to do was write a great book. And while that’s definitely the first step, just because you write a great book, doesn’t mean anyone besides you and your closet friends and relatives will ever read it. You’re so excited to finish your first book and you put it out there on Amazon along with the literally millions of other books, but how does anyone ever find your little gem? Sure if you’re a Stephen King or Nora Roberts, everyone will find your book immediately, but if you are one of the rest of us little people, it will be more like the tree falling in the empty forest, will it even make a sound?  So that’s when the really hard part of being an author kicks in, the dreaded marketing! And mastering social media and all that goes along with it, to make enough of a splash to get people to buy your book. Its not easy, or fun, but can be rewarding when something you do actually works.

So why you ask, am I telling you all this? Is it just to whine about how hard it is to be an author. Well, yes maybe a little bit, but mainly because I think its a reflection of life. How do you as just one little person in the millions of people in the world make that splash?You can be the nicest, kindest person alive, but to make a difference in this world you have to get up off your couch and do something. Volunteer somewhere. Our world has no shortage of people and organizations who desperately need your help. Find your passion and then take action. Get out there and interact with those less fortunate than yourself, with those who can benefit from your help or guidance, with those who need a hug or a smile to brighten their day. Who knows, it might even make you feel better about yourself and forget about your own silly little problems.buckhorn 15

Funny Writing thought for the day

So when I started writing I was reminded how important the little things are, like punctuation. Not something I really wanted to concentrate on when I was in the middle of a great story line, but essential to the meaning of what we write.  My favorite example of this has always been– Let’s eat, Grandma. versus Let’s eat Grandma. Being a Grandma myself, the second one was very concerning. Punctuation can save lives!  But now today, thanks to this picture I saw on FaceBook, apparently we need to be just as careful with our fonts. I hope this makes you smile as it did me. Fellow writers, something to think about 🙂

fonts matter

Whats in a name?

Haymaker LnDriving through the town where I have lived for almost 40 years last week, I took a short cut through a new neighbor and there it was–a street named Haymaker Lane. Of course I had to jump out of my car and take a picture.

Growing up I didn’t like my name Jill Haymaker much. Jill wouldn’t have been a bad name, but the reason I got the name was that my dad’s name was Jack.  I spent the early years of my childhood hearing over and over “Oh Jack and Jill that’s so cute!” To me it was just annoying.  Then there was my last name. Do you have any idea how many jokes can be made about Haymaker.  I got jokes about being a farmer (not that there is anything wrong with being a farmer, I just wasn’t one).  Also there were the jokes about the knockout punch known as a Haymaker.  I had one teacher in seventh grade who insisted on calling me Muhammed Ali the entire year. It was embarrassing. When I got to college and joined the Greek community, a bunch of clever frat boys changed it to Haybaler, which was then shortened to Baler and by my junior year everyone referred to me as “the baler.” Needless to say, I longed for a nice normal name like Smith or Jones.  My dad on the other hand loved the uniqueness of our name.  Every vacation we ever took, the first thing he would have my brother and myself do when we got to a motel was to pull out the phone book and look for Haymakers.  He would delight every time there were none, which was the majority of the time.

So it will not surprise you that when I married someone with a much more common name, no tears were shed as I gave up Haymaker.  I didn’t look back and quickly identified with my new last name.  Even when I was divorced, I chose to keep my married name.  Fast forward until two years ago when I began writing.  Having a full time professional career, I immediately decided I needed a pen name.  I was not sure that I wanted any professional clients connecting me to any steamy romances I might create.  So at this point, had I been more creative, I probably would have made up a sexy. romantic sounding name, but since that was not the case, I decided to revert to my maiden name.  It was easy–I wouldn’t forget it.  I didn’t know if it was a good fit for a pen name, but then a wonderful writer friend of mine (thanks Pamela!) Came up with the following tag line “Haymaker to the heart-romance that knocks you off your feet.” I loved it! And I began to like my name.

What surprised me most was shortly before my first book signing, I realized maybe I should decide how I was going to sign my name that I hadn’t used in over thirty years. I sat down and without thinking wrote it out. Wow, I wrote it exactly like I had in high school all those years ago! It was spooky! Even though over the years, the way I wrote “Jill” had drastically changed as had many of the letters in “Haymaker”, when I signed it, I reverted back to my high school style. It brought back many happy memories. My dad had passed away at a young age many years ago and my brother, the sole remaining Haymaker in our line of the family, had no children so the name would die with him. Maybe this was a way to carry on the family name and honor the father I adored through my writing.  For the first time in my life, I loved the name I was born with!