New (old?) thoughts on another new year!

I’m often delightfully optimistic at the start of a brand-new shiny year. What will it hold? What will I do? What plans will I make—and which ones will I fail, change, or wildly succeed in? And in so many ways, this year (2020, wow!) is no different.

I’m excited about, and beyond grateful for, all that has occurred in my work life over the past seven years, especially that one little decision, so long ago now, to write a romance novel as an “exercise.” I did (do!) writing exercises all the time. Who knew that specific one would spark the type of writing destined to become my one great love? Book 8 in my River’s Sigh B & B series is just about to launch (eeeeeeiiiii!!!!), which means I will soon have 12 published novels out in the world (still can’t really believe it!!!), and my brain is bursting with ideas for my next series.

In my personal life, my adult children are healthy and self-sufficient, things I don’t take for granted and feel exceedingly relieved and happy for. I have two little grandsons (a fact that still blows me away: my baby is old enough to have babies—and really, they’re not even babies anymore. They’re small children!), who bring me so much joy and laughter that I can’t even put it into words.

I’ve been moving more, getting outside lots, and have taken a few trips (all things that were goals for 2019). We have three feet of snow right now, but as I look across my yard, I’m imagining this upcoming year’s garden (including a green bean fort!) and daydreaming about kayaking jaunts.

There’s always a flip side to my grateful looking back and sunny looking ahead, however: shadows from past months. What year, after all, doesn’t hold hard times or carry some bad news? And 2019 was no exception.

In my personal life, there were (are) tough things to face and hard facts to reconcile with, none of which were fully resolved (because some things can’t really be, or at least not quickly), so no doubt they’ll rear their ugly heads again.

In the world at large, it’s a terrifying, tumultuous time in a lot of ways. I can find it excruciatingly difficult to not get overwhelmed by the news and/or social media, to not just feel . . . afraid.

On January 3rd, contemplating my work in light of current world happenings, I was blasted by insecurity. Is writing stories about healing from personal hurts and wounds and finding love, creating your own family (whatever that looks like), seeking home—such “small scale” ideas, as a renowned author at a conference once said to me about “most” women authors as criticism—meaningless at best, or worse, utterly shallow, in light of “large” concerns?

Even a few years ago, I don’t know if I would’ve had a concrete answer. (But I’m getting better at kicking my inner critic and neuroses to the side.) Today, for now at least, I feel I do.

I’ve always believed that the small things in life are actually the big things—the things with the power to change us, to sustain us, to help us grow and to be a comfort in hard times. Remembering that encouraged me.

Politics change. What we as nations fear might finally, permanently, wipe us off the globe changes decade by decade (and, to date, thankfully, never has fully materialized or succeeded). What society holds dear—and demonizes—morphs radically, for better and worse, back and forth. Atrocities continue, yes—but there also continues to be people who stand up against them. (And may that ever be true, the latter numbers only ever growing stronger and larger, while our collective willingness to quietly accept the horrific mistreatment of others diminishes.)

But from time immemorial, what doesn’t change, hasn’t changed, and is true the globe over, in every culture, regardless of small variances in what the following “looks like,” is that we want our children to survive and thrive. We care about our families’ wellbeing. We value our friends. We want (need, crave) meaningful relationships. We long for connection. And sometimes, when there are no easy answers (and are there ever?), no fixes possible (corruption, illness, death, loss), we need stories that remind us that despite all seeming lost, awful, hopeless, or unredeemable . . . that’s only ever part of the story. The rub of human existence is that it’s all true: the ugly, awful, heartbreaking, atrocious . . . and the beautiful, awing, joy-giving, absolute sweet glory of . . . so many things. I feel challenged to write stories that explore such things, and I’m honored to have people respond to them, be encouraged by them.

On the heels of that rumination, in the lovely way things sometimes appear just when you need them to most, I happened upon two very helpful, affirming reads. One long. One short.

The first, by Anne Lamott, was (is!) a piece I’ve long loved and derived much comfort and encouragement (and laughter!) from: 12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing.   

The second was a tweet by author Sam Sykes on Twitter: “Sometimes creative endeavors in times of turmoil feel a bit like playing the spoons while a city burns. You don’t feel helpful and maybe kind of stupid, but god damn if art can move the hearts of humans, then you owe it to everyone to play the spoons until the fires die.”

Reading it was like a good cup of strong coffee in the morning. “Buck up, Ev. Get back to doing what you do. It’s the only thing in this life you have any unique sway over.”

I don’t know how you’re feeling as we go into this new year, but I hope your optimism, drive, and hope are strong.

Cheers to 2020, my dears! Let’s all strive to be the change we wish to see in the world, this year and beyond. (I know that quote is used to the point of almost being a cliché nowadays, but I still believe in it so much and find it so personally challenging.)

Wishing you much joy, love and peace—and a whole bunch of fun, too! Happy New Year!

🙂 Ev

Ahhhh, spring!

Happy May, all!

It’s gorgeous in my little super green niche of the world these days, and I’m busy planting flower boxes, cleaning perennial beds, and getting my garden ready to plant. (The weeding is . . . unending!)

No doubt much-needed rains will come soon (though it’s strange to say “much-needed” living where I live, where normally so much wet stuff falls), and I will post something more thoughtful or newsy then. (For now I just needed something NOT CHRISTMASSY to appear as the top post on my blog, LOL.)

In the mean time, I hope this note finds you well and that you, like me, are enjoying maximum outdoor time.

And, of course, if you fancy a little break or crave some R & R, I’d be honoured if you escape into a River’s Sigh B & B novel.

Talk soon,

😊 Ev

Amazon.US ~ Amazon.CA ~ Amazon.UK ~ Amazon.AU

Kobo.US ~ Kobo.CA ~ Google ~ iBooks ~ Nook

New Year Plans, er . . .

I was on a mission at Walmart the other day, with my aunt who is only two years older than me. Our search for whatever-it-was (I can’t remember the item now) was hijacked, however—though I didn’t realize it until my aunt burst out laughing.

“You really can’t help yourself, can you?” she exclaimed.

“What?” I asked, genuinely confused.

“You are totally ogling those spiral bound notebooks. You’re obsessed.”

Oops! Caught. What could I say? She was right. Even now, at the ripe young age of 46, I can’t help myself. Every fall, I am lured by the seductive cry of the wild—if “wild” can be used to describe the seasonal overflow of pre-sharpened pencils, whimsical erasers, bags of pens, fluorescent sticky notes, sketchpads, notebooks (yep, with spiral bindings being especially alluring), and other crucial necessities.

We shared a chuckle at my expense and like the mature adult I am, I refrained from putting even one super fun notebook in my cart, and got back on task. (Just what that task was still alludes me because I spent the rest of the time in the store wondering if the notebook I had my eye on would still be there by the time I could get back to it.*)

Anyway, I’m not actually writing to reveal my weirdly intense penchant for spiral bound notebooks. Instead I want to explain why I so earnestly seek them out. I blame it on the school system. No, seriously. All those formative years spent shopping for school supplies, reviewing class schedules, and marking up day planners, created monster-Ev—a completely non-mythical beast, who craves nothing more than purple ink and a year-at-a-glance calendar once the leaves start to change.

September always seems like the “official” start of a new year for me, and while I spend time in January reflecting back and looking ahead, fall is where my obsessive self really goes to town. (Only figuratively, of course. Literally, I’m on the couch, coffee close by, shiny new notebook in hand.)

And this year, taking stock of where I am and what I’m doing—and carving out time to do some planning and mapping—seems especially important. I have goals and re-envisioned dreams on every front, it seems: Home. Family. Friends. Health. Work. Community. I kind of feel the way I did when I moved from elementary school to junior high—like I’m on the cusp of a big change or a new stage of development. Dang it, that definitely calls for neon highlighters!

I’m being light-hearted and silly about it, but part of me feels anything but (kind of like how in the week or two before starting a new job or taking a class, you’re simultaneously fidgety with giddy excitement and gut-sickening dread).

Some seasons call for pulling back, to rest, restore, rejuvenate. Other seasons we need to push, to grow, to go, go, go! (I suspect I’ve given away which one I’m experiencing.)

Most of all, I regularly plan and prioritize, evaluate and possibly restructure, consider and recommit to—or dump—things because I’m keenly conscious of quickly time passes—and in the words of Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I hope I have decades ahead of me, but if I only have years, or months, or even weeks . . . I want to make sure I’m doing what I want or need to be doing—and life isn’t static. Different phases and stages call for different focuses.

Happy New Year—I mean, autumn. I hope your plans and schedules have you filled with excitement, optimism, and renewed energy—and if they don’t? Well, maybe you need a rest or a change . . . Either way, you definitely need to splurge on a new notebook and get to work.

*P.S. You can rest easy tonight, with no need to lie awake in tortured suspense. My dream spiral bound notebook was not gone! I returned to the store later that week, and—phew!—got the one my heart desired. It was a close call, though. There had been tons of the style I wanted, and I got the last one!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“New Year Plans, er . . . ” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, October 4, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

What better way to spend a winter’s evening?

I just wanted to share a happy blurt! SILVER BELLS (River’s Sigh B & B, Book 5), which debuted in the contemporary Christmas Romance Anthology MISTLETOE KISSES is now available as a single title for your reading pleasure. I know you, like me, are thinking HOORAY and FINALLY, LOL. 🙂 🙂

One lonely highway and a brutal snowstorm. Two broken hearts and an accident. Can Bryn and Sean find lasting love in such random, fleeting circumstances?

I hope you enjoy this latest sweet, cozy visit to River’s Sigh B & B immensely! After all, we’re definitely having curl-up-with-a-good-book weather. 😉

ENJOY SILVER BELLS TODAY! 

AMAZON USAMAZON CAAMAZON AUAMAZON UK 

iBOOKSKOBO USKOBO CA ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE PLAY 

Also, just a reminder . . . reviews are incredibly helpful to authors. If you would take a minute or two to add even just one line with a star review, wherever you buy your books, I would be over the moon.

Thank you and happy reading!

A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER – a 7 Christmas novel box set you’ll treasure! #mgtab

As promised–eiiiieeee and HOORAY!–here are the details about the second fabulously fun box set I’m part of this year.

Just launched today, A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER is a collection of Christmas romances you’ll treasure and remember, with 7 novels by bestselling authors, including Mimi Barbour, Patricia Rosemoor, Joan Reeves, Tamara Ferguson, Alicia Street, Stephanie Queen, and (of course! 🙂 ) me. Grab it today before the price goes up, while it’s still cheap, cheap, cheap (and FREE on KU)–and happy reading! 🙂

The novel I was delighted to have included is ONE TO KEEP, a River’s Sigh B & B holiday novella. Want to know a little about the story? Well, how can I resist? 🙂 🙂

It’s been two years since Sophie was dumped at the altar, and she’s scarred, but wiser. She has a career she loves, good friends, and a caring family. It should be more than enough, and she wants to vanquish the part of her that still craves something more.

This year, unable to bear one more “festive” get together where everyone gives her sad eyes and asks how she’s doing, she heads to River’s Sigh B & B, a picturesque spot she discovered online. It will be a New Year’s celebration for one, a place to unwind and kick off her new resolution: to embrace single life as a permanent choice.

Jesse Ales has found the perfect way to avoid the world this holiday season. He’ll be the caretaker at River’s Sigh B & B and enjoy a break from well-meaning friends who think he should be over his ex-wife. The whole place will be deserted, except for some eccentric old woman holidaying alone in the wilderness. Even after making her breakfast every day, he’ll have plenty of time to plan his new life: committed bachelorhood.

When chance throws Sophie and Jesse together in a pub, a night of alcohol, food, and laughter-infused lunacy almost leads to a one-night stand. They’re both shaken, but doubly resolved to remain single.

And then they meet again at River’s Sigh and realize they’re about to spend a week alone together—twenty miles from their nearest neighbor. They’ll each have to face their worst fears: their own unacknowledged yearnings for a love that lasts.

Can love tempt them to commitment a second time around?

 CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW! 

ACSR_OTK-99 Cents-Free on KU

MISTLETOE KISSES ~ A 9 Christmas Romance novel box set

Treat Yourself TodayIt’s here! Yay and wow! My brand-new River’s Sigh novella SILVER BELLS has hit the shelves.

One lonely highway and a brutal snowstorm. Two broken hearts and an accident. Can Bryn and Sean find lasting love in such random, fleeting circumstances?

Happy book birthday to me – and to the 8 other fabulous authors in MISTLETOE KISSES: Nancy Stopper, Christa Maurice, Maria Luis, Reese Patton, Susan Saxx, July Dawson, Kimberly Readnour, and Natalia Banks!

Lovely reviews are pouring in and I’m over the moon with all the kind comments and all the Christmas romance love! And I have to confess that with another holiday-themed romance box set coming out on Friday (A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER, which contains my River’s Sigh B & B novella ONE TO KEEP), I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. In fact, I’ve enjoyed getting into the Christmas spirit early so much that I think I might start my Christmas reading in October every year from now on. The nights are so long and dark, the weather so wet and dreary . . . it’s super fun to read things that are sweet, steamy and cheery. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you’ll get your copy MISTLETOE KISSES—especially while it’s just .99 cents! And if you’d consider leaving a review . . . Well, it would be a lovely early Christmas present for me. Thank you!

AMAZON ~ KOBO ~ iBOOKS ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE PLAY

Mistletoe Kisses 99 cent ad 3

 

Happy New Year!

Don't end up like this on New Year's!

Don’t end up like this on New Year’s!

I used to always stay up extra late, past the time all my reveling friends and family went off to bed, light some candles, have a cup of tea or something stronger, and journal about anything I was happy, sad, angry about in the past year, write out my hopes for the new year, and generate a huge list of resolutions.

In recent years, the timing changed, becoming a few stolen hours on the first or second of the month. The journaling remained, but the huge list of resolutions morphed into a sheet of more specific goals, with tangible steps on how to attain those goals.

This year to celebrate 2015 (Wow!), I’m going to dedicate most of January 2nd to recounting, dreaming and planning. I’ve already filled in the days of each month on my erasable year-at-a-glance calendar, created and installed a huge cork board to serve as a wall of inspiration and reminders behind my new standing workstation, and I have task sheets pinned up for my next three novels. The 2nd will find me—journal, Polestar planner, new gorgeous pen, and wine close at hand—on the couch, mapping out the months ahead.

I realize this all might make me sound a little OCD, but I find the acts of looking back, considering the present, and contemplating the future very helpful. Sometimes it’s a little bittersweet, but mostly I find a lot of joy and rekindled ambition and motivation. I tend to be someone who beats myself up for never doing enough. Taking stock of accomplishments and met goals helps me shut the mean voices up.

So what about you? How do you plan to ring in 2015? If you’re going to some big bash or having a cozy house party, I’d love to hear about it . . . but what I’m really asking is what you’re going to do alone, on your own, involving your head, heart, and thoughts to celebrate a brand new year? Are you a resolution maker? Do you journal and/or do some sort of reflection on the year past and what you’d like to see in the twelve months to come? Is there something specific you’re planning to tackle this year? Please share a line or two. Hearing other peoples’ hopes and plans often helps clarify and motivate my own.

And whatever you’re aspiring toward or pursuing—and however you’re celebrating—I wish you the patience, strength of conviction, and sense of humor to see it through. May 2015 be wonderful for you in every way.

HowEm_bare_essing

And don’t go out looking like this. You have to smile, at least!

p.s. This my 200th blog post. Crazy, hey? And a wonderful thing to celebrate in its own right. 🙂