Woot!! Another year, another gif.
This year, I'll be looking into a different format for my blog. Not as in a different web hosting format, but more like a style format.
You see, I have a slower computer than most of the world.
I don't know about you, but I don't have 1,00,000,000,000,000,000 kill-o-terra-whatevers-KB's that give me my web page before I even ask for the results on my internet.
Loading anything on my computer that takes any kind of internet access is slow. At least it's count the seconds slow, not the minutes slow.
But slow enough to be annoying when I'm reading an article only for the words to be shoved down the screen when the picture decides to finally load.
Usually, it's the article I'm interested in, not the picture. Sure, images are nice, but what I find matters is the words.
Typical─that I'd be interested in the words being an author and all...
From now on, I'm going to have words before the picture on my blog. This is so that other people with slower than the fastest internet possible won't be annoyed with the loading of pictures because...
I can't be the only one with slow internet.
Okay, so here's a wish for 2020...
I live in the Styx so wish me luck! As Dove says─In your dreams, baby!
Here's to 2020!
This is the year I looked forward to when I was in the 1980's and wondering where I'd be.
Kinda like those "Where do you see yourself in the next 20 years" type of question.
Well, hello future/past Stephanie! Here you are, the Stephanie of 2020, on 27 acres of land, 3 dogs, 1 cat, 4 goats, 6 chickens and 3 keets.
Welcome to paradise!
Now, here's a note to the future Stephanie of 2021.
You're getting way better!
But I'm sure you knew that already!
Make sure to remember the days when Emma still walked on her own and when Mimi ran around the fields. Remember that she's the reason why we have ONLY 6 chickens and 3 keets. Tieberius still barks and howls to pass Emma. So do all the other dogs.
Remember when Terra Sedo was home to 50,000 bees.
2019 was a struggle, but it was also where you learned new techniques to publishing.
Mom still rides Okido and they are going to 3rd level.
Papa has many dogs at the Casa and Christy works many days.
My hope for 2020 is to find more success in publishing.
But really, it's to be able to keep doing what I'm doing. I like my life right here. These are the good times. Keep them rolling!
I'm posting a day earlier than I usually do for the sake of not having to wish you a belated Christmas. I'm including some of my favorite holiday gifs as gifts!
Corny I know.
But since this is a the two weeks of the year I get to screw around, I can go off-the-rails a bit.
I can get personal.
Not that I haven't been personal, but I can have an excuse to write about something other than writing.
Not that I need an excuse.
I sound nutty.
You may not know that I live on acreage that allows us to have bees. That just means you haven't looked at my bio lately.
Ahem. Here is its:
Slave to a ninety-pound German Shepard and a computer she calls "Dave", Stephanie strolls along the twenty-seven-acre property in Central Texas her three dogs own when she isn’t writing. Stephanie reads for the love of words and writes fiction about Dark Hearts and Heroes revolving around social taboos. When ever asked, she'll reply her whole life can be seen through a comic—sometimes twisted, sometimes funny, but always beautiful and its title is adventure. Come play!
So, yes, I have twenty-seven acres and I have named it Terra Sedo. The direct translation is Calm Earth and means Sanctuary.
And when I look at this gif it gives me the same feeling I have about Terra Sedo:
So, we have honey bees (naturally) and we had our first pull in early September.
Those are half gallon glass mason jars.
The right jar was a melody of clover and wild flower tasting honey I named Lavender. The middle jar was so smooth I called it ambrosia. The left jar had a kung-fu kick that made me pull back in surprise. I called it Texas Spice.
The interesting thing is that no two honey frames tasted the same. We only pulled 3 of the 7 frames because our hive was brand new. The queen had never suffered a winter and we wanted them to remain strong.
So, for Christmas, and with limited supply, we sent honey and cookies to family in which will probably become tradition.
We'll be able to extend our honey gifts to friends as the bee hives get strong and plentiful.
We also have chickens.
And I did an experimental garden this summer to see if I could grow stuff.
But I don't think my success had much to do with a green thumb. Terra Sedo is fertile land. I've seem more bumble bees, butterflies, dragonflies here than I ever have in my lifetime.
I've also witnessed wild grapes growing in the remote areas of our property that made store bought grapes taste like water. Each grape tasted as if it had come from a winery and could be a wine in themselves without the fermentation.
In fact, with grapes like these, I wonder how fermentation could have happened because they're just so good! On the other hand, I could see why fermentation because you don't want any of these to go to waste!
In alignment with being a Sanctuary, we run a dog vacay and rescue operation through an office and yard on the property.
And when family comes to visit they are welcome to stay. If they can't, we're close enough to Austin that driving to the city of "keeping it weird" isn't a hardship.
Plenty happens through the year that I forget about and this is just a fraction I know. But it's what I've got for now.
Happy holidays to you and may Peace be your Gift that Lasts the next year through!
For anyone who is new, this sums it up:
I won the SUMMER READING HAMPER Sweepstakes and was given a boat load of books and got on twice as many author newsletters.
It was awesome and I couldn't wait to get into my stash!
Each book & author was given a chance no matter the genre.
However, I gave you a few I liked and others that weren't for me and why. What I consider books I can recommend are books that interest me. Take in mind, if I was not able to finish the book, my tastes are eclectic.
With all the different distractions of t.v., other books, games, and various activities for fun & pleasure, if I put a book down it doesn't mean the story was bad. It just means I was not interested in it and I explain why in my reviews.
The way I define books that aren't for me... but could be for someone else, are:
I start with the status of the book, DNF, Read through the train wreck, stopped half-way, etc. Then I give a short reason why the status is as is, followed by a longer explanation.
Now that everyone's caught up, here is current events...
I started realizing all the books were from one genre. There were a few romances, dystopian and off-the-wall type of books in the mix to throw me off the scent, but I soon saw a pattern. The bulk of the books were crime/mysteries.
My most beloved genre is m/m romance. I don't know what's going on with that genre, but it seems there's a lot of interesting going on there.
Next beloved genre is romance (just in general). There are some stories I gravitate more to than others. Those with a paranormal (but not ghost), sy-fy, fantasy or contemporary flavor will attract me first.
But as I read further, it got to the point that I didn't want to read any more of the books I'd won.
Call me picky.
It wasn't even that the writing was bad (on some of them), it's just, I have to read things for work that I'm not terribly interested in already. Reading things I don't want to read in my free time just isn't going to happen.
MANY of the books were very well written. Take High Crimes by Libby Fischer Hellmann for instance.
A Book for Thriller Lovers
Status: DNF (Did Not Finish)
I wasn't into the drama.
Which makes me want to educate people on drama vs. dramatic.
Off on a tangent but here's the short example:
Dramatics = the 5 minute death scene where the actor moans, falls to the floor, raises a hand to the sky and carries on until finally he decides to die with a huffing last breath.
Drama = a gripping event that you can't take your eyes away from, have an amazing realization and changes your outlook on the character entirely.
There is no crying, no screaming, no "Why, God, why?" and often times there's just... silence. The kind of quiet that seeps into your bones and haunts you, forever. That is drama.
The best example I can think of is when we realize Professor Snape has been on Harry's side all along.
If you can't tell the difference, I'm done with you. Find someone else to explain.
So High Crimes─probably a great book.
And then, I just wasn't interested in any of them.
Books Only a Mother Could Love
My belief on my reading burn-out is... it became so difficult to find the diamonds in the rough that I went back to the tried and true authors I love. I've even found some authors that are under the "must buy" banner within my winnings, but while someone might be in heaven, I'm feeling more and more genres that I'm not interested in are being foisted upon me, which is also why genre giveaways would attract me more. I'll dare say it would be good for giveaways to be even more specific.. like POV & genre. Or writing style & genre.
I've become a snob.
I know it.
I admit it.
There's just a certain type of writing I like.
Honestly, I get diversity from my job.
I guess it's the hazard of editing.
But I think I'll leave the rest for when I'm desperate and wanting.
Don't worry. I'll be sure to tell you when I come across a good 'un!
But these... well, they're a crash and burn for me.
Blood Money Update #2 (December 2019)
Struggling college student, Makayla Evans, sells her blood to vampires to make ends meet and becomes the prize in a war between two blood sucking families.
Lost, alone and running from the world's deadliest demons, Makayla races to find her mother among monsters before it's too late...
If you're looking for more details on the first ever update on Blood Money click the button below:
*Blood Money Update 1 (November 2019)*
I completed the plot for Blood Money and was working on the scene list (using you and this blog as a sounding board) to complete my story. I didn't feel like it was finished, but I charged on ahead anyway claiming─
Most battle plans never get past contact
Oh, how true, even in this case.
So, before I started working on the plot, I wrote 8K (word count) way back in September to get the story "fleshed out". Because, I wanted to find the story.
Then, after writing nearly 10K words, I worked on the outline.
Yes, I understand that's ass backwards. Don't question genius.
Let me rephrase...
Don't question crazy
If you just ignore it, it will go away.
Once I had the outline, based on my first 10K words that I wrote, I worked on the scene list.
Yay, scene list!
But, I had to abandon the 8K previously written.
Most battle plans never get past contact
Somewhere in this post I'm going to put that advice in a third time because I have to keep reminding myself that most battle plans never survive contact.
Yes, I know what I did there.
There's a Neil Gaiman story that I just love and refer to during this stage of writing. It goes as such:
Neil Gaiman was with his idol, mentor and friend boasting about American Gods and pronounced... I KNOW HOW TO WRITE NOW!
(Meaning he knew how to outline and puzzle events in a book to create drama with the most impact.)
And Neil Gaiman's idol, mentor and friend said:
No, you know how to write that book.
*as the mentor pointed to Neil Gaiman's novel, American Gods.*
Neil Gaiman then understood that each and every book an author writes is a discovery.
Discovery of oneself, of the process, of the meaning... of the story they tell.
Not ever book is the same.
The formula is meant to do the heavy lifting, just like John Truby says.
But the heavy lifting is putting thoughts on paper to clear the way for other ideas.
Writing is the diarrhea our brains need expelled before going onto another thought
Or, in other words...
Did I really "waste" time and the 8,000 words already written?
Or is that part of my process so I don't hold onto an irrelevant thought?
Even now, I'm discovering different facets of the story I will add. And they all lead to a different battle plan.
So while I do have a start of a story I'm going to keep, and I have a "roap map" of sorts on how to get there, it looks like (again) I'll be taking the scenic route.
Most battle plans never get past contact
A Christmas Dream come true—twice over.
As Tash Freeman embarks on her lifelong dream of being a dancer on a cruise ship, the strong bond she made with her hot summer fling needs to end. Though Tash has grown fond of Jay, she needs to move on with her life… or so she thought.
Because Jay is supportive of Tash’s life-long dream come true he’s hesitant to share his deeper feelings. He’s in love with Tash. There won’t be another like her in his life, ever. Yet he digs deep and finds the courage to let her go. But when she leaves, a large part of his heart is torn away and it’s too late to remedy his mistake.
Both struggle for a happy medium between their long-distance relationship that’s pushed beyond the breaking point. Jay finally knows how to make it work with Tash… but as she gains new friends and meets new people his efforts might be too little too late.
Destination Dream is a Christmas Novella for year-long and round-the-globe fun! The fourth installment of The Beach Reads Romance is set in Cromer where charming characters, burning hot love scenes and adorable personalities come together for a wild ride! Toya Richardson’s sweet beach read will have you falling in love all over again.
This is book 3.5 of the Beach Reads Romance series. The story is set in Cromer, UK where the author spent some time. She interviewed a dancer from a cruise line to get all the parts right for Tash, the main character who is a cruise-line dancer, and set this tidy little story to a Christmas theme.
Destination Dream is about redemption and sacrifice (which is a strong theme in most her books) pitting the Dream job against the Dream man.
There will be more in the Beach Reads Romance series, with 2 more novels (at least) before we see the end of this series.
Because the author loved these two characters, she made a novella for them after writing DESTINATION REDEMPTION.
Take note that all the Beach Reads are stand-alone. You will find even reading this series out of order that when characters appear in other books it will not cause confusion and only a flurry of delight in your belly!
DESTINATION DREAM is shorter than the others books but is no less of a story because of it. I find that I'm not alone in wanting to read their story. See the Goodreads reviews below!
A perfect festive read!
Oh boy this book is full of emotions and yours will run wild as you read. A beautiful Novella to sit with a hot chocolate on the run up to the festive season. A story of friendships and love puts all the magical fairy dust into it. I loved it.
Loved it!! I always wanted to know what happened with Tash and Jay after the third book and now I do! So happy!! The characters are lovable and full of depth.
I look forward to reading more of this series and the great characters in them.
Loved catching up with the destination characters
Such a heartwarming series that had me hooked from the beginning of the series and has me looking forward to the next instalment lol
A great series to get you hooked
love love love, i really enjoyed reading a destination dream such a beautifully written story i loved every moment
Yet to find a bad Toya book. Absolutely loved this one. What a fab read. Made me wanting the next one in the series. Loved the boys.
Wow I didn't expect to read this as quickly as I did! This is the Christmas novella for Toya's destination series. It was a fast paced but emotional read which has you feeling every emotion possible and then leaves you with a huge grin on your face. I have yet to find a Toya book that I haven't enjoyed and I for one am itching for the next one.
Loved this book a lot! This series is brillant!
I Would Recommend this Book to Fans of:
Second Chance Stories
© Toya Richardson 2019
Tash sat with Jay in Indian on the Cliff and chuckled to herself.
“What’s so funny?” Jay asked her whilst he poured them both a glass of wine.
“Just remembering the first night I came in here with Erin. We were sitting at this table.”
“Yeah, I remember it well. That was a perfect night, wasn’t it?”
Tash sipped her wine. “Hmm, it really was.”
She studied Jay when his face turned serious. “Oh dear, why the stern expression?”
“I want to ask you something. Not sure how you’ll take it.”
Her stomach turned over. “Uh-oh, sounds serious.”
“I know you were going to take the train to Southampton, but I’d love to drive you down there.”
His offer warmed her heart, but was this just going to prolong the agony of saying goodbye?
“It’s such a long way to go. Of course, it would be great, but then you’ll have a long journey home. I… I’m not sure.” She rubbed a hand across her forehead.
“Look,” he said taking her hand from across the table, “you will have two massive suitcases, a handbag, and backpack. You have two changes of train before you even get to London, the underground, and then another train to Southampton. Just think it would be easier if I took you. It’ll be my pleasure.”
Tash turned thoughtful. It would be a nightmare the more she thought about it. And to be honest, she’d love to spend a little more time with him.
“Thanks.” She squeezed his hand lightly. “I’ll be more than happy for you to take me. It’s really sweet of you.”
He lifted her hand to his mouth. “I’m glad you have accepted my offer.”
She just hoped she wouldn’t burst into hysterical tears when they finally said goodbye. Leaving Cromer, and Jay, was going to be more difficult than she’d ever envisaged.
About the Author
A very important moment for her was giving a reader closure after surviving domestic abuse. It was after reading her Romance/Thriller, Flame, about a domestic abuse survivor, who sent her a thank you message and she’s never forgotten it. “If it means I have helped one person, then I’m blessed.”
Writing has been Toya’s passion since a very early age. Sadly, it wasn’t until the death of her mum, who was also her best friend, in 2009 that she started to take it seriously. Her mother’s wish was to see her published, which didn’t occur until 2014. And now, each book she publishes is dedicated to her.
Always a shy person, becoming an author has helped to broaden her horizons and grow in confidence. Toya still laughs when she reflects on her dislike of social media. One by one, she began to use different platforms and is now very active on FB, Twitter and Instagram – not forgetting her brand new website. Now she is quite vocal about how important these platforms are for networking, an huge aspect of an indie author’s life. If not for social media, she would never have connected with two of her three publishers.
Social media to her is a wonderful way to connect with fellow authors and readers. So many friends have been made by her in this way, she loves nothing more than helping others. It still amazes her how wonderful and supportive the indie author community is. Everyone, without exception, is always willing to give others a hand. She always says she may not be an expert but is always willing to share anything she does know.
Whilst attending a workshop many years ago she learned a very valuable lesson from another author. He said, “Write because you love to write. If you’re doing it for the money, you may as well forget it now.” This is so true and is her mantra.
It still amazes her how much she’s grown when it comes to “putting herself out there”. She loves to read live from her work when she partakes in numerous FB takeover events. She’s given talks about her writing journey to Women’s Institute groups, and one at the assisted living facility where she works. She also enjoys open mic events. These still fill her with nerves, but that’s normal. And starting this year, she is about to embark on several big author signings, which she’s very excited about. Finally getting to meet so many people she’s connected with via social media.
Apart from working on her Destination Contemporary Romance series, she’s currently planning a Paranormal Romance series called Nature’s Warriors. A series of fantasy romances, notes in books at present, which she’s very excited about. And as if that isn’t enough to keep her occupied, she’s attempting to push herself even further. Toya’s written a standalone Rock Star Romance, which she is attempting to self-publish. This is to prove to herself she can push her boundaries, even though it terrifies her. Always happy to learn new skills and take advice from others is helping her to grow as an author, and person.
When not writing, or reading her main hobbies are; cinema, theatre, gardening, keeping fit, travelling, watching live bands, Formula One racing, watching darts and spending time with friends. She lives in Suffolk, UK with her husband, grown up son and Masai the cat.
Where to Find Toya Richardson: