Thursday, April 28, 2016

7 Motivations for Creatives

Don't you love the word, CREATIVES? It so expresses us.

But lately, my email box has been slam-full of notices from marketers trying to sell me their latest "here's how to get 10,000 followers" and "how to get 1,000 readers in a week" etc. all directed at me because I am a creator of artistic works.

So, instead, I am going to talk about how to get motivated when you are feeling less than you should...or sick. Yeah, I know this one well. I didn't do very much last week due to the crud. We really probably shouldn't do a lot when we are sick. But sometimes, when you just feel mindless, when you have no action in your day, then you need to address that.

Here's 7 ways to get motivated as creatives:

Stop the insanity!

It's okay to doubt ourselves. We ALL do this. Sometimes we are not a good judge of our work. But you cannot sit back and just determine you are no good at what you are doing. We are our worst enemy. Stop the negative internal dialogue! Get someone that you know and trust to read your work, look at your art, listen to your music. You cannot be the judge and jury on this.

Get some sleep!

Those health experts that tell you to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night are not experts for no reason. I would listen to them. The whole "I am not feeling it" that you are experiencing could be simply burnout. Turn off the phone, the tv, the stereo, the lights and GO TO SLEEP. I want you to try for 8 hours. Try it. See if you feel more productive.

Turn off your ears!

We all have those negative Nellies in our lives who constantly feel it is their duty in life to tell us how terrible we are at...writing, drawing, singing, cleaning, dressing, etc. Turn off those voices. Even if they do not inhabit a space in your life anymore you will continue to hear those voices. Stop. They do not control you. The art you are making is YOURS.

Get new inspiration!

The best I have ever felt was when my kids and I and my hubby went to the local museum of art to see the Dali exhibit. I felt so inspired, so uplifted seeing the sculpture, the paintings, etc. that I went home and wrote like the wind. You must get out of your comfort zone and find new exciting things to inspire you. Sometimes all it takes is a walk in the park!

Go on a walk!

I love to go to the local park and walk the trails. There is something about nature and all the sights, sounds, and smells that just motivates my writing. I can pen a setting for a book while seated on a rock or a stump that will resonate with others who have seen, heard, or smelled the sensory details I put down. Try going outside for a new twist on a tired mind.

Change tactics!

Sometimes our mental ability is limited due to the overwhelm of being a creative in a world of creatives. Sometimes you just have to switch tactics to beat the lack of inspiration or motivation to get the work out. I suggest this: if you are tired of formatting a book, try proof-reading for a while. If you are tired of the current story you are writing, try editing a different one. Turning on a different part of the brain helps break the block.

Give yourself permission to quit

This is a hard one for a lot of people, myself included. Sometimes we just need to stop. Our bodies and our minds will not go any further on the project and we are simply not being effective. Give yourself permission to quit. Try any of the above suggestions, or maybe all of them, and if you still cannot get the forward movement that you need, close the computer, and play a mindless video game. It's okay to have a "do-nothing" day.

Can you think of other things that a creative person might do to help with their mental melt-down? Leave a comment below!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Daily Challenges of My Writer’s life

Anna del Mar

In my alternative reality I’m trim, fit and athletic, with lovely curls that tumble down my back and a knack to handle tall, super sexy heels in all kinds of terrain. In that oh-so-pleasant reality, I’ve got Nora Robert’s prolific drive, Beyoncé’s cool dance moves and Angelina Jolie’s charitable soul, that is, in addition to her PR acumen. Oh, yeah. I run marathons too. Yep, that’s me all right, in my alternative reality.

In real life, things might be a tad different. I’m not trim. Or fit. Or athletic. I barely have time in the morning to brush my hair, let alone put on heels. Instead, I’m a debut romance author, a sleep-deprived, writing addict who is developing two new novels, editing two manuscripts and joggling four releases this year, including The Asset, the first novel of my Wounded Warrior series, the story of a woman desperate to escape her dangerous past and the Navy SEAL who would lay down his life to save her.

You won’t hear me complain. You see, I love writing. Yes, it’s hard work and yes, it requires lots of time, perseverance and dedication. My life is far from glamorous, and yet I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet. This year, I get to launch two separate series with Carina Press, including the Wounded Warrior series, a collection of fun, hot, smart romances about strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass military heroes who challenge their limits to protect the women they love.

And yet despite my love affair with writing and the joy of doing what I love, I find myself struggling some days, caught in a crazy whirlwind of activity, hardly able to catch my breath and wondering: Where did all the hours of the day go?

As a writer, one of the main daily challenges that I face is maintaining the balance between work and home life. The boundaries blur when you live where you work, when there isn’t a commute or a physical disconnect between the workplace and the living space. Sure, the absence of a commute is a huge occupational advantage, but it doesn’t help keep a healthy separation between work and home life when your commute is thirty seconds flat.

Time management is another daily challenge in a writer’s life. Deadlines are a standard part of my week. The business part of writing takes a huge chunk out of the day. Book launches require an inordinate amount of work and generate a whole slew of promos that are necessary to get the word out, but also have the potential to obliterate my writing time.

The same can be said for heeding the job’s demands but ignoring the body’s needs. Writing is a sedentary occupation. We all know what happens when the body doesn’t move. When time is of the essence, it’s easy to dismiss things like exercise, good nutrition and rest. It’s also easy to trick ourselves into the illusion that we’ll take care of all of that later.

Ultimately, we writers can’t ignore reality for the sake of fiction. Awareness is vital. We have to catch ourselves when we lose our work and home balance, when we mismanage our time and when we neglect ourselves and our bodies. Let’s face it: A healthy writer is a productive writer. My alternative reality, where I’m a fusion of Nora, Beyoncé and Angeline, might be a tad unrealistic and, by the way, running marathons is out, but with a little effort and lots of awareness, I can keep doing what I love best: Writing.

 Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass, military heroes who defy the limits of their broken bodies to protect the women they love. She is the author of The Asset (Carina Press), the first novel of her Wounded Warrior series and three other novels scheduled for release during 2016.

A Georgetown University graduate, Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Free excerpt from VOODOO SUMMER, a brand new LeGarde Mystery

Hi, folks!

I hope this finds you all healthy and happy. Spring has finally sprung in our neck of the woods. The birds are singing like mad all morning, and color is popping out all over, with tulips and daffodils blooming everywhere.

I wanted to share the first chapter with you from my newest LeGarde book, Voodoo Summer.  For those of you who've read the other ten books in the series, this one actually takes place in 1966, two years after Tremolo: cry of the loon and one year after Don't Let the Wind Catch You, both which feature Gus as a young man. In addition to a couple of nasty bigots who threaten Gus's family and way of life, there is the joyful summertime boyhood you've experienced with the previous books. You also get to see what happened to Siegfried all those years ago that changed his life forever. I loved writing this one, and will miss my writing time in the early mornings when I was able to "be" thirteen again. ;o) Hope you enjoy it! And by the way, you can read this easily as a standalone - all LeGarde books are written to be enjoyed in any order.

Chapter 1

Early July, 1966

“We made it.” My father eased our old station wagon over the rutted dirt road and turned into the Loon Harbor parking lot. The twelve-hour trip from East Goodland, New York to South Belgrade, Maine was finally over. He glanced at me in the rear-view mirror with a tired smile. “I’ll bet you’re glad we’re here, Gus.”
“Yes, sir.” I shoved open the door and escaped into air fragrant with balsam. Shadow hopped out behind me, his beagle nose already leading him in frantic circles around the mammoth pine trees shading the lot.
A long white building with red shutters lay just below us. One end housed the office, where my grandmother kept the camp records. The other end featured a huge kitchen where my grandfather and his staff of waitresses bustled to feed the camp guests three hearty meals per day. In the middle of the office and kitchen sat the spacious knotty pine paneled dining hall.
I caught the aroma of homemade donuts and smiled. Gramps was already frying them for me. I knew the donut holes would have my name on them.  
We’d left at four in the morning, and now at just after four in the afternoon, I stared longingly down the hill toward the lake glinting green in the sun.
“Mum?” I asked. “Can I go for a quick dip?”
I expected an answer like, “Later, son. We need to say hello to your grandparents,” or “Help us with the suitcases first, honey.” Instead, she gave me a sweet smile. “Sure. I’ll meet you down on the dock with a towel in a little bit.”
I didn’t hesitate. Today I wore shorts, an old tee shirt, and flip-flops, and I didn’t intend to waste one more second changing into my swimsuit. The shorts would do fine.
“Thanks, Mum.” Before my father could take issue with this unprecedented decision, I kicked out of my flip-flops and took off at a run, dashing down the hill as fast as my thirteen-year-old legs would carry me. The sandy path was crisscrossed with embedded logs, and I leapt high over each one, loving the rush of air against my skin. I felt the lake calling me, and imagined the cool water encircling my body.
I streaked past the shower house, three more cabins, the communal living room, and the sun porch. I pounded over the dock, stripping off my shirt as I ran. Bam, bam, bam, I ran across the weathered gray boards. Finally, I reached the end. I flew into the air, legs kicking and arms spread wide. Into the cool water I plummeted, making a titanic splash. Beneath the surface, a trail of yellow bubbles floated upward. When my feet hit the soft sand, I pushed up and burst into the warm July sunshine, arching to float on my back and gaze at the blue cloudless sky.
“Hi, Gus,” a familiar voice said.
I pulled upright and grinned, glancing around for her. “Elsbeth?”
Beneath the dock, her sweet face appeared, dark curls plastered to her cheeks. My friend rebelled against bathing caps, unlike all the other girls at camp, and let her hair go wild in the water. I didn’t blame her. The darned things looked awfully uncomfortable.
I swam closer to her. “Hey. When did you get here?”
“Monday,” she said in her German accent. “We’ve been dying for you to arrive. I have so much to tell you, Gus.” Her dark eyes flashed in anticipation.
Ja,” a voice came from up on the dock. “Where have you been, anyway?” Siegfried, Elsbeth’s fraternal twin, smiled down at me, his long blond hair even more enviable than it was at the end of school last week. Wet bangs plastered his forehead and in the back, his hair hung down an inch below where his collar would be. He backed up a few steps and then took a running leap into the water, almost landing on me.
I waited for him to surface, and then scooped water toward him, splashing his face with an unbridled laugh. “My father had to train the new guy to run the pharmacy. It took longer than he planned.”
“Well,” Sig said. “It is about time you got here. Race you to the swing.”
Before I could respond, Elsbeth began feverishly dog paddling toward shore. Siegfried, taller and leaner, easily pulled past her, stroking hard toward the rope swing that dangled from a cluster of white birch trees. It never ceased to amaze me that twins could be so different in appearance and personality. Elsbeth—short, petite, dark, and wild—was the complete opposite of her brother, who sported blond hair, startlingly blue eyes, and who boasted an analytic, brilliant mind.
I began splashing toward the shore behind them, anticipating the giddy feeling of the rope swing flying out over the water, and the delicious drop that followed. “Hey, wait for me.”
I scrambled onto a granite boulder to climb up the mossy ledge where I joined the twins. Sig poised there, ready to soar over the water on the swing.
“Geronimo!” he cried. With legs flailing, he leapt from the porch.
I caught the excitement in Elsbeth’s eyes, and beamed at her. We’d been grounded at home last year because my father’s intended substitute to run his pharmacy became seriously ill, and instead of swimming and boating we’d spent our summer on our horses, riding through the woods. Not that it was a bad way to spend the season. In fact, we’d had an amazing adventure, had met a young Indian spirit named Penni, and had made some lifelong new friends.
In spite of the wonderful time we’d had, I’d still missed the lake.
“I’m so glad we’re here. I really missed it last summer.”
“Me, too,” Elsbeth said with a giggle. “But this summer we’ll make up for lost time, Ja?”
“You bet,” I said.
Siegfried landed with a respectable splash and the rope came swinging back toward us.
I snagged it for her. “Here you go.”
She accepted it gratefully. “Danke, Gus.” With a delightful laugh, she gripped it tightly, jumped into the air, and sailed over the water.
The Marggrander family had escaped from East Germany eight years ago when the twins were just four years old, and they still used some German words in their daily speech. I’d also learned a few key phrases and sometimes I found myself saying “danke,” instead of “thank you,” and “kein problem” instead of “no problem.”
Siegfried had already climbed up and stood dripping beside me. “It’s good to see you, Gus.”
I fake punched him. “You, too. It was pretty lonely without you guys at home the last few days.”
He grabbed the returning rope and handed it to me. “Your turn.”
With gleeful anticipation, I wrapped my hands around a thick hemp knot and swung out over the water, letting go at just the right time. After a delicious, stomach twisting fall, I plunged into the water, feet touching the sandy bottom in seconds. I popped up again, grinning from ear-to-ear.
“Watch out below,” Siegfried called.
I swam to the side to get out of his way, and then hurried back to shore for my next turn.

Every family has its secrets…

Summer, 1966: For thirteen-year-old Gus LeGarde, summertime always means Loon Harbor, his grandparents’ idyllic fishing resort on Great Pond. The season is a grand tradition of swimming, boating, and new adventures with his best friends, twins Siegfried and Elsbeth. But this summer, everything changes when a new lodge down the shore threatens the resort—and triggers a chain of events that will transform Gus and his friends forever.

Customers are leaving Loon Harbor in droves for The Seven Whistles, owned by the wealthy LaFontaines. The Baton Rouge family arrives with better amenities and a much larger staff—among them Wilhelmina “Willy” DuPont, a young black girl whose family works for the LaFontaines. Gus and the twins immediately bring Willy into their circle…but their friendship is soon challenged when events at The Seven Whistles take a terrifying turn.

A mysterious figure haunts the windows of women and young ladies at both camps, escalating from peeper to dangerous stalker. Then the LaFontaines’ spoiled and demanding daughter goes missing—and Willy’s innocent older brother is arrested.

Gus soon discovers that dark secrets lurk beneath the surface of the LaFontaine family, and the stakes are higher than ever imagined as they race to exonerate Willy’s brother and find the real perpetrator—before he finds them.


Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of many mystery and suspense series, love stories, and writing guides, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys.

“Addictive, award-winning fiction.”