The Gypsy Muse – Author Rachel Kenley

April 28, 2011

Thursday Favorite Things – Bookstores

Can you look at your bookshelf and remember where you bought the books?  Do you know how you came across the one you’re reading now?  Do you have a great memory of an unexpected discovery?  Then you probably love bookstores as much as I do.

The doom and gloom of the headlines with regards to bookstores is everywhere.  Borders recently closed many stores (and more may be happening), the independent bookstores are almost extinct, and ebook readers are on the rise to the point where this week Barnes and Noble announced their first ebook signing event.  Yes, that’s right – Sandra Boynton will be *signing* her Going to Bed Book using a new app on the B&N color Nook (which I admit to coveting/craving).

But I have to say – I love spending time in a bookstore.  I love wandering the stacks.  I love standing in a section I don’t normally check out, just to see what’s there.  I love when a bookstore has places to sit, whether in a cafe or within the stacksa peace of heaven, so I can be surrounded by the books, pretending I have my own library. I love having a gift card that means I can try something totally new and/or not usually in my budget.  And don’t get me started on the periodical section.  SO much to read and learn. 

What will happen to impulse purchases of something you didnt – couldn’t – plan?  What about the amazing writer you discovered because her book was on the shelf above your current favorite?  How will you find those gems?  What about the non-fiction book that was better suited to you which you found next to the one you came in to buy?

Because the only way to enjoy these things is at a brick and morter bookstore, I am continuing to hope these stores stay around for a long time to come.  Yes, they have to go with the flow of new technology, but they should never completely give up on the sheer pleasure many of us get from the process of looking for a book. 

It’s almost as good as the reading part.

What’s your favorite bookstore? And… if you want to see some of the most interesting bookstores in the world, click here.


April 26, 2011

Tuesday Tell All – Fewer Excuses

Usually when I visit family or am on any sort of vacation, I let discipline slide.  This past week, however, I embraced the fact that I didn’t need to prepare daily lessons for my sons’ homeschooling and focused on my own to-do list.

And what do you know – I got 500 words every day, blogged most every day of the week, and moved forward in some online classes I’m taking.

So much for thinking I can’t work when I’m at my parent’s house. 

It’s a little like what happens during NANOWRIMO.  I discover I can write at night, write every day, hit a high word count, plow through a first draft without self editing and criticism… It’s amazing what I learn and remember that month.

In looking at when I want to have this manuscript done (by or before the end of May), I need to jump my daily word count from 500 to at least 750, but thanks to the discipline of the last few weeks, I am feeling good about my ability to do that.

Nothing like discipline combined with success to keep you motivated.

What’s working for you?  Could you use help?

April 25, 2011

Monday Writer’s Prompts – It’s gone

I am back home in my writing studio and as hard as it is to get going after over five hours of driving and arriving home after midnight, I’m glad. It feels good to get back into my routine and have my favorite things around me.

Which brings me to my prompt for today:  What if something you enjoyed…disappeared from the world, or at least from your world.  Would you journey to find it?  Would you look for a substitute?  Would you hord your stash?

Hope this triggers something for you.  Me – I’m gonna hold my coffee mug a little tighter.

Have a great week!

April 21, 2011

Thursday Favorite Things – Chocolate

Dive in!

Yes, it has to be said… chocolate is wonderful.  Proof of ongoing goodness in the world.  Okay, maybe that’s a little strong, but have you ever noticed countries that are known for producing great chocolates are relatively peaceful?  Seriously – when was the last time Belguim or Switzerland tried to start something?

You can’t be mad when you’re eating chocolate.  Hot chocolate has wonderful calming effects.  And as a gift, it is something I always appeciate *and* thoroughly enjoy.

My heroines frequently have a weakness for chocolate in either one or all of its forms.  We’re supposed to write what we know, aren’t we?  I keep a stash of wrapped dark chocolate pieces in my writing room.  It’s my treat to myself and the better the quality the less I eat in a serving.

And if all it’s feel good properties weren’t enough to recommend it, scientists have found that chocolate is actually GOOD FOR US! (I would have been happy to help with that research).  According to an article I found: Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body.

Good for blood pressure and endorphins.  More antioxidants than strawberries!!  Don’t you love it?

So in this season of chocolate rabbits and other goodies, go ahead and guiltlessly enjoy!

April 20, 2011

Wednesday Wanderings – The ocean

The boardwalk at Belmar, NJ where I went as a kid

As a Jersey Girl, I grew up going to the shore during the summer (not the beach – the shore).  To this day I love taking trips there and go throughout the year if I can.  There is something specail about the ocean no matter when I’m there – in the fall when summer memories still linger, the winter when there’s snow everywhere else, after or just before a storm. The smell of the salt from an ocean breeze, the sound of waves breaking, gulls circling overhead wondering who is going to drop something for them to eat. It’s all wonderful.

I feel differently when I’m near the ocean.  Calmer, happier.  Quieter inside.  I know there are studies about how we are connected to the tides since there is so much water in our bodies.  I don’t particularly care if it’s true or not; I simply like the rejuvenating feelings I get when I’m there. 

Of course, in New Jersey there are also the joys of boardwalks and piers, not something I get to experience in Massachusetts, where I livenow.  I grew up playing skeeball, eating frozen custard and thinking about when I would be old enough to have a boy win me something at one of the midway-like booths.  I take my kids there now and they are as enchanted as I am, looking forward to each trip, no matter the season. They love funnel cake, sicilian pizza and salt water taffy. And skeeball (have you seen

A timeless game

the movie Dogma? Skeeball holds a special place in people’s hearts.)

And somehow when I’m back at my desk later, sometimes with a shell or a tacky gift from the arcade, my muse and I are more in tune and creativity ab0unds.  There is something so unique and yet universal about the beach that I am working on a series of paranormal romances set in a diner near the shore. I love writing it and incorporating both memories and desires into the manuscript.

Is there a place that is almost magical that you love to visit?

April 19, 2011

Tuesday Tell All – And yet…

Filed under: Tuesday Tell All — authorrachelkenley @ 2:57 pm
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I am really glad that I am keeping to my writing schedule of at least 500 words a day, and even spending this week with family in New Jersey I expect to be able to keep that going.

And yet…

Although the overall word count of the manuscript continues to increase, it doesn’t feel like enough.  I find myself focusing more on how much more is still to go.  I’m at that point in the manuscript where I am definitely committed to it.  I like my hero and heroine and the journey the heroine must go on to have her happily ever after. I know most of the candy bar scenes (thanks to Holly Lisle for this tool – and what it will take to get to the dark moment and the happy ending.

And yet…

There are days when I sit at the computer and even though the words come, it feels hard.  The writing is choppy.  There’s too much passive voice.  Too much telling and not showing.  Too many weak words. 

Yes, it’s a first draft and I need to get through the whole thing before editing, polishing and making it truly readable, but there are times when the inner editor is awfully loud.  And times when the inner critic is even louder (“You sure you’re up for another pass from your editor?”)

And yet…

I keep writing.

I hope you do to.  What are your tricks for moving forward even when it feels hard?

April 18, 2011

Monday Writing Prompts – A holiday moment

Filed under: Monday Writer's Prompts — authorrachelkenley @ 10:44 pm
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I’m writing from New Jersey where I am going to be for the week with my family.  It’s vacation week (even for homeschoolers) and Passover, so I think my writing prompt for today is:

Start with a holiday memory or moment – funny, sad, frustrating, moving… and then give it a twist into fiction. 

Go for it 🙂

And whateve holiday – if any – you celebrate at this season – enjoy!

April 15, 2011

Friday Beside Book Review – Maya Banks

Sweet Persuasion

When I’m writing an erotic romance, I need to read erotic romance.  Good – and preferably great – erotic romance.  I was very happy, therefore, to finally take SWEET PERSUASION by Maya Banks off my to-be-read list.

This was my first Banks novel and it wont be my last.  Serena is a strong heroine, which makes her fantasy of wanting to be a sex slave hard for her to believe.  Fortunately Damon, a man more into reality than fantasy, is there to help her.  In addition to a great love story and fiery sex scenes, I was very moved by Serena’s dilemma around the importance of fantasies and fantasy fulfillment.  Is it a good thing?  Or does it just make you realize what you don’t have when the fantasy ends.

This book stands alone,  but it is the second in the “Sweet” series, the first being Faith’s story. According to Ms. Banks’ website: Book 1:Sweet Surrender.
Book 2: Sweet Persuasion
Book 3: Sweet Seduction
Book 4: Sweet Temptation
Book 5: Sweet Possession
Coming Soon! Book 6, Sweet Addiction, will be  releasing April 2012.

Fans of erotic romance will not be disappointed by this book.  I certainly wasn’t and will be looking for more by Maya Banks in the future.

What erotic romance do you recommend?

April 13, 2011

Wednesday Wanderings – A real stationery store

Filed under: Uncategorized — authorrachelkenley @ 3:05 pm
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Like many writers, I love office supplies.  Going into Staples makes my heart beat faster. It’s like when my sons go into sporting good stores.  I know what I’m there to buy, but I want to look at everything and I’m almost always keeping a mental list of what I would pick up if I had an unlimited budget.  When I get to the front with my purchases and they ask “Did you find everything you wanted?” I always want to say”Yes, and way too much more.”

As wonderful as these big superstores are, however, they have been the end of the smaller mom & pop stationery stores that I remember from when I was a kid.  There is one that I know remains, The Quill and Press in Acton MA.  Here great pens and papers are side by side with cards, high end stationery, and the best colors of file folders available individually.  Half the store is traditional office supplies, the other is part card store part card store.  And then downstairs is artists supplies.  It’s a paper heaven.

A view inside

Yes, I go to staples a lot – it’s more convenient and generally has better prices.  But when I want to spend an hour or so really browsing – touching, holding and imagining – then places like The Quill and Press are a true haven.

  • Hours: Mon – Fri, 9am – 7pm; Sat, 9am – 5pm; Sun, noon – 5:30pm
  • Handicap Accessible: Shop is wheel chair accessible
  • Founding Date: 1970
  • Payments accepted: American Express, Cash, Debit Card, Discover, MasterCard, Personal Check, Visa
  • Products: gifts, party goods, pens, art supplies, frames, rubber stamps, inks, unique stationery and cards.
  • Services: Gift certificates, Gift wrapping, Shipping
  • ATM: No
  • Public restrooms: Yes
  • Parking: Free lot
  • April 11, 2011

    Monday Writer’s Prompts – Flowers

    Staring at a new page on a Monday morning is a daunting thing.  We all need a way to jump start the muse after a

    The drama of tulips

     weekend (especially here in Massachusetts where we had our first real weekend of spring like weather).  So, today’s recommendation is:

    Columbines - the flower of the state I was born in


    I am not a gardener by any means, but I love when I see them blooming, I love them in my home, on my desk… anywhere.  Here are some flower quotes to get you started:

    People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.  ~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

    Earth laughs in flowers.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Hamatreya” 

    When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.  ~Chinese Proverb

    If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.  ~Terri Guillemets

    Have a wonderful week – and bloom where you are planted 🙂

    The heralds of spring

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