Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Welcome Back, Karen Hulene Bartell

Thank you, Jennifer Wilck, for inviting me to your blog! It’s a pleasure to chat with you and your readers about our writing craft!
I jokingly call our rescued “CAT”ahoula Leopard dog and three rescued cats my “MEWS.” The cats either lounge on my desk or my lap while I write, and the dog sleeps beside my chair on his bed, so I’m surrounded by my “MEWS,” but I wouldn’t say they inspire me.
I think everything we’ve ever read, seen, heard, and thought mingles and merges in our brains as we sleep or meditate. When inspired ideas crop up, I believe our minds recollect (re-collect) that information and reassemble it into the prose we write, but inspiration for that reconstruction is harder to pin down.
For me, travel sparks inspiration. When I visit provocative places, encounter new experiences, sample different ethnic foods, and chance upon stimulating people, I’m inspired. Ideas flow. (I should’ve been a travel correspondent.) There’s something about traveling that takes me out of my rut and propels me into new realms of possibility. 
I’ve written some of my best concepts sitting in airports or hotel bathrooms at midnight (so I don’t wake my husband with the light). Being out of my element and in new environments stimulates my imagination. Traveling inspires me.
Each of my novels takes place in a different setting because as I visit those destinations, I’m infused with innovative ideas. I envision scene after scene, like vignettes flowing into the next and the next.
For instance, sixteen years ago, my husband and I spent Christmas week hiking and horseback riding in Big Bend National Park. You’ve seen the area on maps—the southernmost tip of Texas that borders the Rio Grande and dips into Mexico. Spanning more than 800,000 acres of Chihuahuan desert, mountains, and rivers, Big Bend is larger than the state of Rhode Island—and wild with lions and bobcats and bears. Oh, my!
Driving home early that New Year’s morning, we missed the turnoff in Alpine and followed TX-118 north. Snow-covered and glinting against the frosty blue January sky, a remote jumble of mountain peaks and ranges beckoned as they rose above the desert floor. I was enchanted. Gazing at the sky island for the first time, wide-eyed, I wondered whether those rocky pinnacles were mirages or optical delusions.
But as the craggy peaks loomed larger (a mile high, I later learned), I realized they were no hallucination or Fata Morgana. A hasty glance at the map told us these were the Davis Mountains. As we approached, vertical basalt columns rose like thousands of giant fingers reaching for the sky. The palisades, buttes, and bluffs towered above both sides of Wild Rose Pass with a raw, majestic beauty, and I breathed a contented sigh, sensing a homecoming. 
That missed turn took us only a half hour out of our way, but as we drove through Fort Davis and the Davis Mountains, it changed my life. From that day to this, it’s held my heart and imagination, and I’ve learned everything I can of its colorful history. Named after the Jefferson Davis, Fort Davis has seen Buffalo soldiers, Indian Wars, Quanah Parker, cattle drives, Pancho Villa, and cinnabar mining.
When I learned a friend’s great-great-grandfather had not only worked for Fort Davis’ cavalry as an Indian scout in the 1870s and 1880s but had been captured as a child and raised by Comanches, an idea took root. The outcome of that budding thought bloomed into my latest historical novel: Wild Rose Pass, Book I of the Trans-Pecos Series.
So what inspires me to write? Traveling to unique destinations, where I can experience a distinctive ambiance. The atmosphere sets the tone. Then the characters emerge, and finally a story unfolds.
Suggested tags (optional) but helpful
·      Travel back to the Frontier with two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs!
·      Lose yourself in time, where 1880s East confronts the West Frontier, and two opposites are drawn together by conflicting needs!
·      Based on a true story, WILD ROSE PASS is a romantic journey into yesteryear. Share the challenges with Cadence and Ben in a ride through the past!

Wild Rose Pass by Karen Hulene Bartell

Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West. 
Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable. 
Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.” 
As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp. 
“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.
“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace. 
Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off. 
As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?” 
Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face. 
A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

Buy Links:

About the Author:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Connect with Karen: 

Monday, April 20, 2020

To-Do Lists

I live and die by my to-do list. Seriously, if something doesn’t make it onto my to-do list, it doesn’t get done—other than brushing my teeth and taking a shower, and even then, it would be better to list those things (but I’m not that crazy...yet).

Sure, my calendar is useful for appointments, but my to-do list gives my days purpose. I know what work has to be done, what errands need to be taken care of, and who needs to hear what from me. 

So I check my list daily and get satisfaction from crossing things off of it.

Today was the day I was supposed to make the final decision about my Ann Arbor hotel reservation.

See, as soon as Banana Girl told me when her finals were, I reserved rooms in Ann Arbor so that we could go pick her and bring her home from her first year in college. Not knowing precisely what dates we’d need, I reserved rooms for the entire finals week (or two), and noted on my to-do list cancellation deadlines so we wouldn’t get charged for a room not used.

And then the Coronavirus hit. 

I remember the conversations my husband and I had about whether or not to have Banana Girl handle her packing and moving and storage by herself. I remember weighing things like independence, stress and efficiency. I remember laughable conversations with Banana Girl about those same subjects with very different outcomes. And I even remember my original plan to drive out to Michigan by myself to help her pack and move out of her dorm.

Our actual course of action was very different.

It seems like ages ago that my husband and I drove to Michigan with an empty car and bags of cleaning supplies. I remember sterilizing our hotel room. I remember how weird it was to move her out a full month early. I remember how different our departure day was from our arrival day in September.

She’s been home more than a month now. Currently, she’s taking an exam and planning out her finals studying timetable. She has a to-do list, too. She lives and breathes by it just like me.

But our lists are very different. Especially now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Welcome, DV Stone

Being flexible, adaptable, and how to piece it together.

Hi, Jennifer. Thank you for having me today on your blog. I’d like to talk a little about having expectations and ideas of who I am as an author. The main character in Rock House Grill is Shay McDowell. As an EMT, she needs to be flexible and adaptable. This reflects me, D. V. Stone, as a writer. The same with Aden House, her love interest. He needs to do the same since he’s become injured.
I’m in the middle of my second Impact book titled Jazz House. I never really considered myself a suspense author, but when Rock House Grill came out—surprise—that’s what it is referred to as. Romantic Suspense. Some have even called it inspirational, though it’s not religious. All cool, right? Not when you live in my head. 
I began to overthink everything—question my ability to write suspense. The manuscript was a mess. This past month in isolation, I’ve spent ripping Jazz House to shreds. 
Previously, I tended to write linearly. Start at the beginning, get to the end, done. Today the timelines, villains, and central character relationships are all on the virtual cutting room floor as Chef Aden House might say, sliced and diced
I yanked most of the bad guy parts into a second document. Once I’m satisfied with the main characters’ relationship and world-building, I’ll seed these sections back in. This is a new way of writing for me. I’ve had to adapt to my new expectations of what and how I write. 
Also, before RHG, I considered myself a Fantasy with romantic elements. The past year I’ve had to wrap my head around being a multi-genre. Since reading across the genres, I now realize I can be flexible and write across them as well. 
These past weeks of 2020 have been difficult for everyone. You, too, have had to be flexible and adapt. We are still learning what’s important. I hope to become a better writer. I also hope to become a better person. I wonder in what ways you have had to adapt and overcome, how you’ve found a new flexibility. 
One of my favorite lines from a movie is Lily Tomlin’s in 9 to 5 I’m a tree. I can bend

One man’s choices—One woman’s impact

Rock House Grill

Aden House, successful but driven chef and TV personality, refuses to slow down. His life implodes one night, damaging him both physically and emotionally. He’s rescued by a woman he thinks of as his angel.

Shay McDowell has rebuilt her life after her divorce. She juggles volunteer EMT duties and her job, while dreaming of becoming a chef. She finds her way to Rock House Grill and back into the life of the man she helped save.

Can love be the ingredient needed to survive the many obstacles they face?


“Easy, you’re going to be okay.” A soft voice eased through the chaos around him. The owner of the voice grabbed his arms and held them in a firm but gentle grip. “I’m right here with you. You are not alone.” “Can hardly m-move.” His voice slurred. “C-can’t see anything.” “You’ve been in an accident. I’m an EMT with the ambulance squad,” the velvety voice calmly explained. “You can’t see well because we’re under a tarp. Hold still, okay?” “‘K.” A small light flickered at the edge of his vision. It shone into a bag next to him. Penlight. “You’re restrained to a board. It’s to keep your head from moving and causing more injury.” She continued to talk to him. The voice reached down somewhere inside him, calming and peaceful, so he focused on it. A glow from spotlights on the outside lit whatever covered them. The shadow gave the woman the appearance of a halo—like an angel.

Hi, my name is D. V. Stone. Rock House Grill, a contemporary romance, is available for purchase on April 6th by Wild Rose Press. I host Welcome to the Campfire, a weekly blog. I am also a multi-genre author of two independently published books. Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar is a fantasy romance. Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake is a mid-grade paranormal. Here’s a little more about me.

Born in Brooklyn, D.V. Stone has moved around a bit and even lived for a time on a dairy farm in Minnesota before moving back east. Throughout her wandering, she always considered herself a Jersey Girl. She met and married the love of her life, Pete—a lifelong Jersey Man, and moved this time to Sussex County.  They live with Hali, a mixed breed from the local shelter and their cat Baby.

D.V.’s career path varied from working with the disabled to become a volunteer EMT, which in turn led to working in hospital emergency rooms and then in a women’s state prison. After a few years, she took a break from medicine and became the owner of Heavenly Brew, a specialty coffee shop in Sparta NJ, and a small restaurant in Lafayette. Life handed some setbacks, and she ended up back in the medical field, but this time in a veterinary emergency hospital. 

During the poor economy, she was laid–off from a long-time position she cared about. Devastated, D.V. wondered what to do with her life. Finding comfort in her love of reading, she realized it was now time to follow her dream of writing. It’s been a long road but worth every minute of it. Now a published author, she also works in a people medical office again.

“Thank you for taking the time to read about me. Each time you open the pages to one of my books, I hope you’ll be swept away by the story and find encouragement in your own life, never to give up on hope.”

D.V. Stone

Buy Links
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Monday, April 13, 2020

Ads In The Age of Quarantine

I’ve lost track of the days and weeks. When I try to figure out exactly how long we’ve been social distancing, it seems like forever, and it certainly doesn’t help my mood, so I don’t. However I do know I’m cooking all the time, cleaning and doing dishes constantly, and each day is similar to the one before.

However, today I’m trying something new. I’m taking a free class online that teaches you how to get the most profit out of Amazon ads. A snooze for most people, but for authors, Amazon is essential. I’m not sure if it’s quarantine brain kicking in or if I was never told all of the information, but I’m not quite sure how often the class is given or how long it runs. Hey, it’s not like I have anything else going on, so as long as I keep getting the emails, I’m good. 

Today’s class had us set up an ad to start and which, I assume, we’ll use to compare in later classes. It was pretty easy, which quite possibly means I did something wrong, but I’ll know for sure if/when Amazon approves it. 

I’ve got to say, it’s a pretty clever thing for this guy to do. He’s an author and an expert at marketing. Running a free class during quarantine pretty much assures that people will take it, as well as his future classes that aren’t free. And it allows authors, like me, to actually see if people are buying books during quarantine or not. Not to mention, it gives us something to do, and offers us a community to join.

So, I’m curious. If you’re an author, what kinds of advertising do you find most successful? And if you’re a reader, is quarantine affecting your reading/purchasing habits?

Tell me!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Welcome Back, Stephen King

By Stephen B King
Psychological Thriller/Police Procedural/whodunnit

Twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor


After his wife loses interest in him, fifty-year-old Dave Barndon turns to the dark side of the Internet and sex chat rooms.  There he finds willing partners who are happy to fulfil his needs with no strings attached.  But they aren’t the only ones looking to play.     
When a woman he had an affair with is murdered he becomes the prime suspect.  He thinks his alibi is solid until a second woman is murdered, and then a third.  He fights for his freedom and redemption while the body count rises.  He must figure out who is framing him and why before the killer strikes again.  

Exclusive excerpt:

A constable opened the door and informed me my lawyer was waiting. I had pulled myself together by then, found some determination and I wanted to fight. No more tears, I determined. I had replaced grief with rage to somehow get even with the killer and protect my kids; I couldn’t do that from inside prison. I had no idea of the time as they had taken my watch from me. I was led to a room where Tom sat. He stood to his feet as I entered.
“Thanks for coming, Tom. I appreciate it very much. I didn’t know who else to turn to.” 
He shook my hand shaking his head and said, “Dave, I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. This is nonsense; I’m convinced of that, but I’m not a criminal lawyer; I’m corporate, as you know. I can help today and see what they have on you and depending on how that goes, I know someone I can recommend. Now, sit down; we have about forty minutes before your interview. I’ve told them they have to wait until we have spoken. Tell me what the hell has happened.” 
He placed a recorder on the desk and turned it on, to save taking notes I supposed, and I told him every sordid detail of what I had been doing.
“Dave, why didn’t you contact me after the first murder when the police spoke to you?”
“Because I was innocent, and once I told them everything, they seemed to believe me. Apparently, the timing was wrong. There was no way I could have done it, and gotten to the casino to meet my brother, without a drop of blood on me.”
“And after the second homicide, why not call me then?” He tapped the end of his biro on the table, and I sensed a touch of annoyance.
“Same story; the pen incriminated me, but it disappeared earlier in the day. A guy called in at work while I wasn’t there on the pretense of leaving a note on my desk, and I’m sure he stole it. Therefore, he must be the murderer. I convinced the cops it couldn’t possibly have been me. They called Dianne to confirm what time I arrived home, and again there was not enough time for me to have done it and get home without being covered in blood. I couldn’t have beaten both victims to death without being splattered with it; it was messy and gory, apparently. Yet I was home in twenty minutes or so, and clean.”
“Hmmm, you do realize the police tell lies, don’t you? They may well have evidence they have not disclosed to you leading them to think you are guilty, even though they appear to believe you.”
“Tom, there is nothing, because I didn’t do it. You’ve known me twelve years. Do you think I could have murdered three women in six days, including my wife of twenty-six years? Is it not more plausible someone has it in for me and has set me up? What I can’t understand is why? I have no idea.”
“Please understand it doesn’t matter what I think. Of course, I think you’re innocent, but that’s not the point. It only matters what they think they can prove. There are three things they look at: they are means, motive and opportunity.” 


The above excerpt is from a pivotal point in the story of Dave’s descent after he has been arrested for three murders, the last being his wife who was his alibi for the second homicide.
Dave is a handsome, successful fifty-year-old man who is general manager for a large Toyota Dealership. He adores his wife and grown up children, but some years before, when his wife approached early menopause, she lost all desire for him sexually but he never stopped wanting to make love with her. Through a series of events, beginning with a murder/mystery TV show Dave discovers a fascination for submissive women and decides, purely from a research point of view, to find out more. He discovers a dark internet world of sex chat rooms, and eventually a dating site specializing in married people looking for NSA meetings. Dave thinks that his wife Dianne has given him tacit approval for him to play around if it doesn’t impact on their life.
Unknowingly, while Dave has discovered a treasure trove of willing partners, he has also attracted the attention of a murderous stalker. Suddenly, Dave’s lovers are killed one by one in such a way that Dave is the prime suspect. When Dianne is murdered while Dave is in the shower, he is arrested for three murders he didn’t commit.
Dave is faced with serious problems. He must fight for his freedom, face his children and admit his secret life, find who has targeted him, and somehow find redemption to ease the guilt he feels.
Domin8 was the second book I wrote (I’ve written twelve more since) when I was contracted to a major UK publisher. They wanted everything from me and I gave them the outline for D8 and they offered a contract. But that’s when the wheels fell off, the publisher was bought out by one of the big four and they closed the line I was contracted too. In desperation, while the legal battle continued, I hired an editor, finished the book and self-published it. Truth be told, I was never entirely happy with it, and in my heart knew the story demanded better from me, though it did pick up some fantastic reviews.
Time and books passed and I found a new home with my wonderful publisher, The Wild Rose Press. About eighteen months ago, when I completed Book 3 of the Deadly Glimpses Trilogy, I picked up Domin8 and read it. I was horrified at the errors it contained, and I realized the editor I hired, perhaps wasn’t as good as I thought. I removed it from sale and began a major re-write, confidant that I could do a better job.
I mentioned the outline, and what I was doing to my TWRP editor, Melanie Billings and she was intrigued, in fact, she asked to read it. I was delighted when she loved it and wanted to contract it and so began twelve months of editing. 
The nature of the story makes Domin8 hard to categorize. For me it’s a thriller and a whodunnit (only one person in ten has picked the murderer before he was revealed) but for TWRP the nature of Dave’s dalliances made it more erotic, and that made it hard to place in the right line. With Melanie’s help, I found the right balance, and from the very first draft of 150,000 words cut 43000 to the finished 103000. This is a case of less is more; fewer words told a much better story.
My Beta readers, without exception rate Domin8 as one of the best stories they’ve read, and I am thrilled, finally, with the finished story. 
Thanks to Jennifer for letting ramble on about, what is, my favorite story, Domin8.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Back to Basics

I’ve lost track of how long we’ve been quarantined. I know it’s absolutely essential to continue. I know essential workers have a much tougher time than I do, risking their lives daily so I can eventually get back to normal. I know I’m lucky to be with my family.

I tell myself those things daily. It’s my new mantra when I wake up. But that doesn’t stop me from frustration. And it didn’t stop me from completely melting down this weekend.

But it’s Monday, my used-to-be favorite day of the week. I say “used-to-be” because back when we were allowed to leave our homes, Monday was the day my life at home got back to normal when everyone else left for school and work. Now? Our daily routines are the same and everyone is always here.

However, it’s a new day and a new week, and I’m actually able to see some benefits to this situation.

My kids have been amazing. Humble brag here, but they haven’t fought. I know, I just jinxed it. They’ve gotten along, they’re actively practicing tolerance with each other—I can see it, although I’m smart enough not to comment on it. They’re not perfect and they have their moments, but considering their lives have been completely upended, they’re doing better than I ever could have predicted. 

The Princess is finally enjoying family games. She never likes them, so this is huge. Granted, it’s only one game, and the rest of us are going to get tired of it (especially since she’s good at it) eventually, but I’ll play it every day just to see the smile in her eyes.

We’re doing a family puzzle. My husband has tried for years to get everyone to do a puzzle together. He was so unsuccessful that I managed to convince him to get rid of all the ones we had put away for the family to do, since the family wasn’t going to do them. Well, guess who asked to do one? So we pulled out one that we’ve had for twelve years, still shrink wrapped, from our family vacation to England and France (remember those days when we could travel???). And we’ve started working on it. Together. Did I mention no one is fighting? Despite the very different ways we all approach puzzles. 

My girls are cooking and baking. On one of the days this weekend when I completely lost it, my husband took me on a walk to clear my head. I grumbled the entire time. But I came home to a meal cooked by The Princess! And yesterday, Banana Girl made slutty brownies (oh my god, they’re delicious and I don’t care that Passover is right around the corner).

We linger over dinner, the four of us, finding things to talk about other than our day, which remains the same. We check in on each other and our family and friends. And while life is definitely smaller and more contained, I also feel like it’s growing—kinda like the Grinch’s heart, but without the cheesy music.

So, no matter how bad it is, and I recognize it’s bad, work hard to find the small joys. They’re there. And identifying them just might make them grow.

Stay safe, stay inside, and flatten the curve!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Welcome, Claire Marti!

Claire is a writer friend of mine, and her stories are amazing. More than that, she's a fascinating person. She's also a yoga person and actually successfully convinced me to give it a try--if you know anything about me, you know how impossible the is! So here are some tips from her, which will definitely help you cope in today's crazy world:
Yoga and Meditation Techniques to Stay Balanced and Healthy

When I’m not writing romance, I teach yoga and meditation. Yoga/Meditation is the practice of learning to feel happy despite what’s happening in the external world. We all need that, especially right now. Yoga is a three-pronged approach—Emotional, Mental, and Physical. These are all connected and one can’t exist without the other. I’ll share some simple tips and techniques to integrate into your day. 

Emotional Benefits of Yoga—Pranayama/Breath Control 

Pranayama or breath control is an essential part of yoga. The way we breathe impacts how we feel. For example, by extending your exhales, you can tap into your parasympathetic nervous system or relaxation response. You can also heat up, cool off, and energize yourself. Here’s a Pranayama practice to help you cope with anxiety and stress by soothing your nervous system and adrenals. 

*Breath for Relaxation:  Vishama Vritti or Uneven Breath:

It’s simple: Inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 8 counts. What’s challenging is extending the breath out evenly. Repeat for a minimum of 10 cycles and see how you feel! This technique also helps before bed.

Mental Benefits of Yoga/Meditation

Meditation teaches you how distracted you really are. We just don’t usually notice because we are so distracted. In yoga, we often refer to learning to “quiet the monkey mind.” The definition of yoga outlined in the Yoga Sutras, is to learn to direct the attention of your mind, to control the wanderings and focus on what you choose. Meditation helps you filter out distractions and focus. 

The benefits of meditation are well-documented—clear mind, better sleep, sharper focus, and a greater ability to manage stress. Here’s my favorite meditation technique. 

*Mantra meditation:

Take 3 cleansing breaths: Inhale, filling up your lungs all the way up to your collarbones. Exhale, empty out to the base of your spine. Repeat 2x.

Rest your hands comfortably in your lap. Sit tall. Don’t close your eyes yet—this is hard with no visuals! 

Our mantra is “So Hum” which means, “I am.”  This mantra is universal and said to aid in self-confidence. It’s simple…but not easy. We’ll use it with the breath.

As you inhale, silently say “So”
As you exhale, silently say “Hum”

Now, close your eyes and repeat the mantra for 5 minutes. Feel free to do longer sessions as you progress. It’s better to do 5 minutes a day as opposed to 30 minutes once a week. Consistency is key. 

The PHYSICAL practice: Yoga is designed to strengthen and open up the body to enable you to sit still for prolonged periods of time to meditate without getting distracted by physical aches and pains. Physical yoga postures can also prepare us to sit still longer and focus on our writing to create the next NY Times bestseller! All physical yoga is housed under the umbrella term Hatha yoga. Many styles exist, like Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Yin, Restorative, and Hot. Find one that resonates with you.

In the Yoga Sutras, the seminal text on yoga, physical poses are guided by one primary principle: Yoga Sutra 2:46: Sthira Sukham Asanam All poses are a balance of “Sthira”—steadiness or strength and “Sukham”—comfortable or lightness or ease.
In each asana, we seek to find a balance of steadiness and ease. We explore asanas with and through the steadiness and ease of the breath, continuously connecting the breath with the body-mind.  

Anytime yoga poses you can do at your desk: 

Here are a few poses to do from your chair

1. Scoot to the edge of your chair and place your feet flat on the floor. 

Inhale, sweeping your arms out to the sides and up overhead. Exhale, lower them back to your sides. Repeat 3x.

2. Sit tall. Place your left hand on the edge of the chair

Exhale and lift your right arm up and reach up and over toward your left. Reach out of your waist.

Release the right hand down and reach up and over with the left hand. Reach like there’s something you want just out of range.

Repeat 3-5 times each side.

3. A twist. Inhale, reach your arms up over head.

Exhale, twist to your left. Release the right fingertips toward the left knee and reach the left fingertips behind you toward the back corner of your chair. 
Inhale, reach your arms overhead and exhale to twist to your right. Release the left fingertips toward the right knee and the right fingertips toward the back corner.

Repeat 3-5 times. Make the range bigger or smaller.

Book Blurb:
For a French soccer icon, and a gifted artist, a fake engagement is the perfect solution for their current dilemmas. But when last summer’s fling slips from lust to love, their pretend relationship becomes too hot to handle. 
Gabriel DuVernay is heir to one of the oldest wineries in France, but his passion is playing soccer, not tending vines. When he signs a multi-million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy, he’s able to postpone his unwelcome duties and help his younger sister convince their old-fashioned father she should be their family’s first female winemaker. Another bonus of moving to California is reuniting with the striking redhead who snuck out of his apartment after the hottest night of his life. 
Last summer, artist Dylan McNeill’s life on her family’s Southern California horse-breeding ranch was thrown into chaos and she escaped to Paris. One electrifying night with a gorgeous playboy athlete helped her forget her problems. She’s never forgotten Gabriel, but aspiring artists trying to break into the elite art world don’t have time for romance. She’s determined to get discovered without trading on her family’s famous name. 
When Gabriel suffers a career-shattering injury, he needs to buy some time to figure out how to remain in America and choose his own future. His influential mother can open important doors in the art world and help Dylan fulfill her dreams ––for a price. A fictitious engagement seems like the simple answer until living at Pacific Vista Ranch and pretending to be in love starts to feel real. 
Can last year’s one night stand and this year’s fake engagement turn into true love forever?
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Hands linked, they ascended a single flight of broad wrought iron stairs. When he opened the large door, her lips parted in wonder at his home’s simple classic beauty. Wide honey-colored plank flooring set off the soaring ceiling, stark white walls, and midnight navy couch and loveseat. Nothing distracted from the main attraction: enormous glass doors revealing the unobstructed view of the wide golden sand beach melting into the cobalt blue Pacific Ocean. 
“Wow. So I guess you signed on the dotted line the minute you saw this view?” Dylan drank in the beauty of the late afternoon sky.
Gabriel’s laugh was a low purr in his throat. “Exactly. Come.” He slid the French doors open and led her out to an immense deck. 
Immediately, the warm, salty breeze caressed her skin and the shriek of seagulls filled the early twilight sky. Streaks of mauve and raspberry and tangerine turned the horizon into a watercolor tableau worthy of its own canvas. She leaned against the white wooden railing and sighed with pleasure. 
“This is amazing. When did you arrive and do you get to spend much time here?” The Major League Soccer season ran from March to December. Professional athletes didn’t get much downtime, even in the off-season.
He was close enough that the clean fresh scent of soap and shampoo tickled her senses. His hair held a hint of curl and glints of chestnut and caramel. He angled his head toward her. “The transfer came through a few months ago, but I finished up my contract with Barcelona. I was at practice the morning after I arrived. So, no, I haven’t spent enough time here yet.” 
 “Thanks for sharing it with me.” 
He reached for her hand again, lacing their fingers together. “Let’s have some wine and choose something to order for dinner. What are you in the mood for?”
“Italian or maybe French?” Her cheeks flamed. No innuendos there at all. Nope, not a one. 
He waggled his eyebrows. “That can be arranged.” 
Before she could react, he pulled her into his arms and lowered his head. He paused a few inches from her lips and slid one hand up her back to clasp her head. His minty breath mingled with hers and her lips parted in anticipation. His pupils dilated, his eyes black. With a growl, he captured her mouth and stroked and swirled his tongue with hers. 
She melted against him, her knees buckled, and only his powerful embrace saved her from sliding to the deck in a boneless heap. She wove her arms around him, gripping the thin material of his t-shirt. 
 “Get a room!” A shout from the boardwalk below doused them like a bucket of freezing water. Gabriel’s hold softened and Dylan stepped back.
She exhaled a shaky breath and smoothed back her hair. Worked to slow her thundering heartbeat and gather some composure. When she’d agreed to come over to his house, she’d been anticipating flirtation and conversation, but nothing could have prepared her for experiencing the intensity of their chemistry again. They’d only spent one night together, but he’d left an indelible impression on her. Apparently, it was mutual.
Gabriel flashed a cheeky grin. “I’ve got several rooms inside, care to join me?”
“Aren’t you the clever one? Maybe we should slow things down and have that drink. And I am hungry.” Everything about him was seductive and she was inexorably drawn to him. If she didn’t at least gently tap the brakes, they’d be in bed before dinner. Or instead of dinner.


Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress. 
Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.

Her award winning debut novel, Second Chance in Laguna, was a Finalist for Best Contemporary Romance in the prestigious Stiletto Contest, won best unpublished contemporary romance in the Heart of the Molly and third place in the Maggie. Book two in the Finding Forever in Laguna series, At Last in Lagunaand Book three, Sunset in Laguna, ​are available everywhere. Sunset in Laguna ​was a Golden Quill finalist.
Claire's exciting new Pacific Vista Ranch series set on a horse-breeding ranch in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe, California, launched in September 2019 and will be available on KU beginning April 1.

When Claire's not writing, she's teaching yoga. You can find her teaching at studios in sunny San Diego or enjoy fifty online classes on the international website A breast cancer survivor, Claire is a sought-after speaker on the power of yoga and meditation. She's been published in numerous magazines with articles on wellness and is the author of a memoir, ​Come Ride with Me Along the Big C, on her experience beating breast cancer. 

Claire is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and the San Diego Romance Writers.