Memorializing That Whirlwind of a Wedding

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
The Wedding – Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography

 

Memorializing that whirlwind of a wedding is critical, especially when you’re the bookworm acting as wedding planner. Since relying on iPhone photos and videos from attendees was not an option, I had to find just the right photographer and videographer; a task much harder than I ever imagined.

First Stop
wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
Our Lady of the Mountains

My first stop in my wedding planning process was securing the church and meeting its wedding planner. Since her grandson had just gotten married a few months earlier in Estes Park, I asked her about the photographer they used. She pressed her lips together and shook her head “no.” She could not recommend someone who wasn’t any good (nor did I want such a person). Videographer? No.

Preferred Vendors List
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO, wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

I then turned to my trusty (?) Preferred Vendors List. There were quite a few photographers and videographers on that list, some companies handled both. After I emailed them all and requested a quote, I had to blink twice as I read the quotes coming in (none of them included printing). Amazingly, with the exception of one, they were all $2,000. My first thought was a wedding monopoly. By the way, the one different quote was $6,000. Yup, that’s not a typo, $6,000. With my science background and logical legal mind :0) I performed an experiment. My original quotes went out under my married name, however, I write under my maiden name, Karen Van Den Heuvel. A new and revised request for quotes went out under my writer’s name — a quote for a 4 hour family reunion involving 50 people in Estes Park. Alas, the quotes were half the price.

A Monopoly

My son had gone to school with someone who was now a professional photographer so he asked her for a quote — $2,000. He asked if she could give him a discount due to their long friendship. She could not, because of a contract she entered into with a third party — all her bookings go through them at their required pricing, as all of these photographers did. Aha! Sounds like a monopoly to me!

The Perfect Professionals
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J.C. & Jane

My goal was to find an excellent photographer and videographer not bound by a third party contract for pricing. That’s where Jane came in. Jane is my son’s beautiful girlfriend who went to school with a photographer using her talents and running her business while she worked on her degree. I checked out her website and FaceBook, and was thoroughly impressed with Laura Grace Photography. Her photographs were beautiful (as you can see through my posts) and I’d put her up against any of the other “professionals” I encountered to date. Her rates were very reasonable and I met her for lunch to discuss the process, wedding, expectations, etc. She was an absolute delight and she found me a videographer — a university student working on his degree in videography — Jackson Dorfman. Once I checked out his work and found it exceptional — as good if not better than most of the other videographers, I asked for a quote. His rates were also very reasonable and I was set.

These two professionals arrived early, blended in, and captured beautiful memories. I can’t recommend them highly enough! If you are looking for an excellent professional photographer and videographer, here is their contact information:

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, University of Colorado, photographer, videographer, Laura Grace Petersen, Jackson Dorfman
Laura Grace Petersen
Laura Grace Photography

Laura Grace Photography: lauragracephoto.com, 970-227-0025, lauragrace.151@gmail.com

 

 

 

Jackson Dorfman: Jackson.dorfman@colorado.edu  970-306-2775

Jack provided not only the full video, but a second with highlights as well. You had a glimpse of the head table decor in Jack’s short trailer, but you won’t believe the story behind it! Stay tuned next week… .

Where in the World Did That Story Come From? with Dena Netherton

With the release of the second in The Hunted Series, we welcome back Dena Netherton to Thyme for Writers as she shares how she gets her ideas for her stories, her characters, and her settings!

When I tell people I’m a writer, many of them ask me, “How do you get your ideas for your stories?”

The first couple of times I was asked this, I had to think about it for a minute or two. Because ideas come from everywhere: shopping excursions, movies, books, the news, people-watching, travel.

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The Hunted Series by Dena Netherton

For example, one of my most awful bad guys, Dade Colton, in the Hunting Haven three-part series, came to my mind as a conglomerate of several villains from real life, and some from horror movies I’ve watched and found particularly scary. Dade’s creepy, toothy grin whenever he is threatening Haven is something I saw a horror movie villain do to his victims. Now, wouldn’t you expect a villain to snarl and frown whenever he’s doing something bad? The smile makes me shudder, because it shows Dade’s lack of conscience, and even enjoyment while terrorizing Haven.

How about book settings? What makes you decide where to place your story?
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Fear, A Foe To Be Conquered by Dena Netherton, author of Haven’s Flight

The ideas for the settings of my books come mostly from my travels. Some place sparks my imagination, either because of the town itself, its shops and museums and institutions. Sometimes, when I travel, I’ll see or overhear a fascinating person in a Starbucks or restaurant, or see him or her walking down the sidewalk, and it makes my brain begin to generate ideas. Or sometimes the scenery and the weather moves me and makes my brain begin to pop out scenarios.

But how did you come up with the idea for the Misty Mountain Retreat Center where Haven hides from Dade?

That idea came from real life. After I graduated from high school, I worked for a summer as a camp counselor at a Christian camp and retreat center in the California coastal redwood forests outside Santa Cruz. As a young woman, working with other young men and women, there was, inevitably, romantic drama. Those months in the mountains gave me fodder for stories later on.

A couple of years ago—and after I’d already written Haven’s Hope—I spent the week at a lovely Christian retreat in the Pacific Northwest, and found, to my surprise that the real-life place was incredibly similar to my fictional Misty Mountain Retreat.

What about the tall, handsome, and brilliant Dr. Petter Eriksen?

Haven’s romantic hero, Dr. Petter Eriksen, is a blend of several wonderful and godly men I have known in school and in my professional world. Making Petter Norwegian was purely a selfish decision. I’m proud of my Scandinavian heritage and wanted to pay tribute to my ancestors and their plucky resolve to immigrate in the early 20th century to America to build a better life for themselves and their children. Thank you, Oluv and Sigrid, my sweet, heart-working grandparents. I miss you!

Now that you know a bit about my process of writing, I hope you’ll read on to find out more about Haven’s Hope, which released on Feb. 6th, 2018.

Haven’s Hope: Feel the fear—Savor the romance
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Haven’s Hope by Dena Netherton

HAVEN’S HOPE gives one woman’s answer to the question…
Does God still love me even when bad things happen?
Is good really more powerful than evil?
How can I be freed from guilt?

Beautiful and talented Haven Ellingsen is about to discover that evil doesn’t take a holiday. Haven has escaped the man who relentlessly hunted her in the Cascade Mountains. But when an old friend form her dangerous past shows up unexpectedly to warn her that Dade Colton is determined to re-capture her, Haven makes the only safe decision: to go into hiding once more. But where? Who can she trust? If only she could tell someone about her tragic secret. But Dade’s threat to kill any one who helps her might put that person’s life in jeopardy, too.

Dr. Petter Eriksen saves lives every day at Mercy Hospital Emergency Department. Driven by guilt after the accidental death of his little sister, he can’t believe in a good God. But when a beautiful and mysterious young woman moves into the cabin on his uncle’s Christian Retreat, Petter wonders if her love and simple faith have the power to shatter the barrier he has erected around his heart. And can he save her from a madman?
Sometimes you hide; sometimes you stand and fight.

 

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Fear, A Foe To Be Conquered by Dena Netherton

About the author:
Dena Netherton has always loved the thrill of suspense-filled movies and books. One day it dawned on her, she could actually put down on paper her own action-packed stories and life-threatened characters that had been knocking around inside her head for decades.

When she’s not writing, Dena loves to play piano and guitar, read good books, spend time with people, and hike the Cascade Mountains.
Dena is active in her church as a worship leader, leader in Women’s Ministries, and director of a women’s prayer ministry. She also volunteers at a Crisis Pregnancy Clinic. Dena and her husband live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Find out more about Dena’s books through her website and newsletter: denanetherton.me.

Buy links:

Amazon.com:
Haven’s Hope

Social media links:

Facebook: https://facebook.com/dena.netherton

Twitter: @denanetherton1

Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/dena_netherton

The Wedding Planner — The D.J. Is Key to a Great Wedding

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The Happy Couple                                               Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography

 

The D.J. is key to a great wedding — no doubt! But how do you find that great D.J.? After I unsuccessfully contacted the D.J.’s on the Preferred Vendors List, I did what most people do; I asked  my friends and family for recommendations. However, with the wedding date, that was fruitless, especially for the D.J. — they were either out of business or unavailable at that time.

The Search
wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
The D.J. Is Key to a Great Wedding

One unavailable D.J. suggested that I check Thumbtack . Although I had never heard of it, I wasted no time, after all, the wedding was fast approaching and I knew an iPhone playing music would not be very helpful. According to their profile, “Thumbtack is an online service that matches customers with local professionals.” With my date and required professional entered, I received messages from a number of local D.J.’s with a wide range of pricing and experience.

wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
Gary Liebowitz with Sound Junction

I like to listen to my “gut,” and out of the list, only one stood out to me above the rest — he was experienced and I liked his work. He was from Monument and the wedding was in Estes Park, more than 2 hours away. I sent him a message and asked if Estes Park was too far and received an immediate response — definitely not, he handled the entire Front Range and did not charge for travel.

The Right D.J.
wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
Dancing to the Music                                             Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography

My “gut” does not disappoint and neither did Gary Liebowitz from Sound Junction, LLC. He was absolutely phenomenal! Although I had the opportunity to provide him with a selection of songs, I was so frazzled and clueless that I  only gave him 3 songs for 3 dances: the bride and groom’s, father/daughter, and mother/son. With an age range of attendees from 20 to 85, I asked that he handle everything and he did. I can’t recommend him highly enough!

wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
The Dance Train                                                  Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography

Gary:

  • Called prior to the wedding to offer help and assurances,
  • Arrived early,
  • Called when he arrived and started set up,
  • Handled my request to take care of all the music with a smile,
  • Acted professionally,
  • Dressed professionally,
  • Had a positive and upbeat attitude,
  • Was an outstanding MC,
  • Kept the party moving and lively,
  • Had reasonable rates and offered a military discount (he is retired Air Force), and
  • Went the extra mile above and beyond.
wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
The Wedding Train                                                  Courtesy of Laura Grace Photography
Contact
wedding, wedding planner, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors, D.J., Disc Jockey, Sound Junction, Gary Liebowitz
Gary Liebowitz with Sound Junction

If you are interested in an exceptional, professional D.J. who is more than willing to go the extra mile with reasonable rates, I recommend Gary Liebowitz with Sound Junction:

Phone: 719-351-8301
Email: gary@soundjunctiondj.com
Website: www.soundjunctiondj.com

Two months after the wedding, a number of people shared their nightmare experiences with the wrong D.J. Needless to say, I am very thankful my story is not one of them. I had the best!

What are your experiences?

Thyme For Writers: Spicing Up a Book Launch with Candee Fick

We welcome back Candee Fick to Thyme for Writers with Spicing Up a  Book Launch!

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Thyme For Writers: Spicing Up a Book Launch with Candee Fick

As a writer seeking publication, there are a few dates that will stand out in your memory almost as much as the day you got married or when your children were born. There’s the day you got “the call” that you were being offered a contract. Then there’s the first day you hold that advanced reader copy in your hands and smell the ink (don’t pretend you didn’t!) And then there’s launch day…

A typical book launch revolves around spreading the word. “Hey, I’ve got a new book coming out and you should buy it.” (Which I do. And yes, you should. But that’s not the point of this post…) Authors roll up their sleeves, create memes and other graphics, schedule guest blog posts, email their list, plan a party, get some prizes, set up a few giveaways, and maybe even buy a few ads on Facebook to gain visibility.

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Marketing

Which is all good stuff to do as you generate buzz for your new book. After all, marketing experts say it takes seven exposures to your message before someone will act.

However, with the hundreds of books coming out this year and all those authors doing the same pre-launch tactics, how do you make your book stand out above the crowd? How do you attract a reader’s attention long enough for them to take those second, third, sixth, and seventh looks so you can make the sale?

It’s “thyme” to spice up your book launch with a theme that somehow ties into your book (or at least into the season). Perhaps the best way to make this point is with a few examples to spark your own creativity.

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Football

For my debut novel with a college football setting, I planned a virtual tailgate party to “kickoff” the book. During the event, we discussed topics like tailgating food, uniforms, mascots, and marching bands to capture the favor of a college football program. I also used words like pre-game, halftime, fourth quarter, and overtime in some of my marketing language.

My second novel was set in a dinner theater so, like in real show business, I encouraged folks to buy their “tickets” to Opening Day with a countdown until the curtain would rise. Backstage tours, glimpses at the costuming, plus lots of videos to capture the music and rhythm of dancing feet all helped pull readers into the story world and pique their interest.

One friend’s book was set around a fashion consignment store in Hollywood. Her online launch party held a “red carpet” theme where she actually introduced each character as if they were arriving to the party and even described what they were wearing.

In addition to finding inspiration from the book’s setting, you can also plan to build buzz around the title. To launch her book, Charming the Troublemaker, another friend had a bunch of fellow writers at a conference pose for pictures holding a Snicker’s candy bar with the word “troublemaker” on it. During the countdown to launch, she posted those pictures on Facebook and asked people to vote whether that particular person was sweet, salty, or both. Weekly votes narrowed the field until there was one winner of the troublemaker title…and everyone remembered the name of her book (or at least part of it!).

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Focus on Love by Candee Fick

While brainstorming plans for my next release on Tuesday, I too found inspiration in the title, Focus On Love, along with the fact that both main characters in the book are photographers. In January, when everyone was focused on new resolutions and a word for the year, I blogged about that theme. But once the calendar turned to February and Valentine’s Day approached, everyone had “love” on the brain. That’s when I started a photo contest and asked people to share pictures of love in action or things that they love with the hashtag #FocusOnLove. (Winner gets an autographed book and a Shutterfly gift card…because it’s photography. The contest ends on the 17th so there’s still plenty of time to participate!)

It’s too soon to tell if I’ve made my launch unique enough to be memorable, but I certainly have done my best to make my book stand out from the rest.

What about you? How can you spice up your next book launch? Is there a unique element or feature in your book that would get readers interested long enough to take another look at your story? Maybe it’s the setting. Or a career /profession. A family recipe or historical tie-in. Is there a holiday to celebrate like Christmas? How can you weave that into the graphics, prizes, party plans, and even headlines?

P.S. In case you wanted to know more about Focus On Love, you can pre-order it here. In addition to the photo contest mentioned above, you can also enter to win autographed copies of all three of my novels as well as another Shutterfly gift card here.

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Author Candee Fick

BIO: Candee Fick is a multi-published author in both fiction and non-fiction. She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job, writing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

Find all of her books on Amazon here or sign up to receive email updates and get the first chapters of her novels for free. You can also find her online at www.CandeeFick.com.

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Focus on Love by Candee Fick

BOOK BLURB: Free-spirited Elizabeth Foster turned her back on her father’s photography business to pursue musical theater, but with a one-show contract, she’s a few weeks from unemployment forcing her home. Meanwhile sought-after photographer Ryan Callahan has put his career on hold to help his sister’s family while her husband is deployed, but the promise of a bigger assignment could lure him away from building a family of his own. If given the choice, what dreams would develop? Or will they learn to focus on love instead?

Wedding Planners & Vendor Lists – OH MY!

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors
Pink Roses

Wedding planners and vendors lists create a fertile ground for weeds and more weeds… . What about that garden of beautiful flowers? The last article looked at whether the date made a difference, and the answer was a resounding YES. I felt good about securing the church and the Music Room at the Stanley, and thought the rest would be smooth sailing — NOT. Because of the date, the church and reception locations were available, but because of the date, the rest would not be as smooth.

Wedding Planners & Vendor Lists

Unbeknownst to me, most places have their own wedding planners and vendor lists that work with the bride or her wedding planner (in this case, moi). Easy peasy, right? Ahhhh, not necessarily so. Being a wedding planner for a church or popular reception location is not an easy job (I’m sure some of you either have personal experience with a bridezilla or seen popular bridezilla movies). As such, the wedding planner you start with may not be the wedding planner you end up with and lots can happen in the interim.

For the Church
wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors
Wedding Planners & Vendor Lists — The Church

In our case, the wedding planner for the church left half way through the planning. Fortunately, what we agreed to I had memorialized in writing, but there were a number of things she needed approval for and thought she could get because of her experience, and then she was gone… . I was left with a delightful person who knew absolutely nothing about weddings and all those other items that the experienced planner was sure she could get (like lighting up the white lights on the Christmas tree in the church), was not available.

For the Reception
wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado, preferred vendor lists, vendors
Wedding Planners & Vendor Lists

For the Stanley, I was quite happy with the wedding planner assigned to me, but then a few months before the wedding she contacted me to let me know that she was taking a new job in Hawaii as an event planner. My thoughts … here I go again. Fortunately, they assigned me another great wedding planner, but there were still gaps that needed to be filled since she not only jumped in toward the end with me, but she was assigned at least half of the former planner’s weddings.

Then There’s that Preferred Vendor List:
  • Photographers
  • Videographers
  • D.J.’s
  • Bakers
  • Florists
  • Salons
  • Piano Players
  • Etc.

Go through it carefully, as I did, since it may or may not be updated. On the list I received, most were in business, but some were not. What I realized was that if you use the word “wedding” in any request for quotes for a wedding, you received a quote that was significantly higher than what you would otherwise receive. More on that in the next article … .

What have you found with Preferred Vendor Lists?

Chocolate: Are You a Cacao or Cocoa Writer? by Kathryn Ross

Welcome back Kathryn Ross to Thyme for Writers! Chocolate: Are You a Cacao or Cocoa Writer? is Kathryn’s next article in her series, The Write Spice: Writing Tips for Flavorful Words.

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Series—The Write Spice: Writing Tips for Flavorful Words
Chocolate: Are You a Cacao or Cocoa Writer?
By Kathryn Ross

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Chocolate is sweet
And super-good for you!

February winter chills warm when lovers celebrate Valentine’s Day with time-honored flair. Romantic dinners, handcrafted card exchanges, flower deliveries, and close to 60 million pounds of chocolate candy consumed on Valentine’s Day, mark the traditions of this holiday, sharing expressions of love.

Chocolate

The glory of a heart-shaped box of chocolates may tickle your taste-buds with luscious flavors, but the cost to your body in cocoa-calories and sugar content has little real health benefits or love for your body in the aftermath. Chocolate is delicious and satisfying to enjoy—but, if overindulged, extra pounds on the scale and sugar-related maladies will require editing.

Cocoa verses Cacao

Why, then, do doctors claim that chocolate has health benefits? Don’t be deceived—not all chocolate is created equal. Cacao is the raw seed from the pod of an evergreen tree grown in South America and West Africa. It possesses a host of health benefits. But, the process used to create cocoa—the type of chocolate that is commonly found in candies and desserts—includes the application of high heat to raw cacao. Minimal nutritional benefits remain, and are further negated with the addition of sugar, oils, or milk fat. Here’s a terrific article to further explain this confusion regarding chocolate.

Only dark chocolate with cacao amounts of 70% and above affect the body for wellness. Quality dark chocolate is less sweet and still adds calories. However, its nutritional value in the areas of anti-oxidants, cardio wellness, brain function, cholesterol control, blood pressure regulation, and more, suggest that cacao chocolate makes it beneficial for daily consumption. A very small square, savored slowly after dinner, will do the job. It won’t satisfy like a typical milk chocolate bar, which feeds disease rather than fights it. Those sinfully delicious candies nestled in a Valentine box are predominately sugar and very addictive. You can’t eat just one! Cacao chocolate is slightly bitter to taste and very rich. You won’t be able to eat a lot of it at one time, forcing you to savor it in your mouth longer. Eating cacao chocolate cannot be rushed.

Are You a Cacao or Cocoa Writer?

Writing is work.
Composition takes time.
Like a bite of dark chocolate
Savored slowly, makes prime.

Chocolate, The Write Spice, Kathryn Ross, cocoa, cacao, Valentine’s Day, chocolate lovers, selah, empty calories, quality words, rich, flavor, health benefits
Chocolate: Are You a Cacao or Cocoa Writer?
By Kathryn Ross

When we rush our writing, we run the risk of overloading it with empty calories and a host of unhealthy ingredients. It’s like binging on the wrong kind of chocolate—cocoa not cacao.

  • Take your time. Savor each word in your work.
  • Don’t rush the plot. Tell your story, but chew slowly to be sure you extract its fullest flavors.
  • Critically assess the purpose of each line, removing unnecessary filler ingredients to deliver optimum reader benefits.
  • Use quality words rich in meaning, imagery, and depth for full effectiveness. Depending upon your unique writing voice, be it flowery or sharp and concise, word choice enhances every style.

One of my favorite Hebrew words found repeatedly throughout the Psalms is “selah.” It comes between verses ripe with meaning and impact, inviting the reader to stop and think about what they’ve just read. Like slowly savoring a quality piece of chocolate, mining the full essence and zest of the sweet, employ “selah” to your writing life.

So, how do you approach your writing? Are you a cacao writer or a cocoa writer?

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The Write Spice: Writing Tips for Flavorful Words
By Kathryn Ross

Writer-speaker, Kathryn Ross, ignites a love of literature and learning through Pageant Wagon Productions and Publishing. She writes and publishes homeschool enrichment and Christian living books for home, church, and school. Her passion is to equip women and families in developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle, producing readers and thinkers who can engage the world from a biblical worldview. She blogs and podcasts at TheWritersReverie.com and PageantWagonPublishing.com. Connect with Miss Kathy on Facebook.

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The Write Spice: Writing Tips for Flavorful Words
Kathryn Ross

Writer, speaker, teacher, and enrichment artist, Kathryn Ross, sweeps readers into the story-worlds of Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, Hannah Hurnard, Marguerite de Angeli, John Bunyan, and others, exploring powerful truths to fulfilling God’s plan for your life in her latest publication, The Gatekeeper’s Key. Discern your place and season, with encouragement to see purpose in boundaries, find comfort in trials, and gain fortitude in going forth. Short story, personal testimony, excerpts from classic literature, visual imagery, challenge questions for discussion, and journal prompts for writing assignments draw you before the Gatekeeper. It’s quite a journey—but you’re never alone. Always in His Presence, with an Invitation, a Gatekeeper, and a Key. Perhaps more than one. Purchase on Amazon or direct from Pageant Wagon Publishing.

The Wedding Planner – The Date

For the wedding planner, does the date really make a difference? The answer is a resounding YES! It makes a difference as to availability (especially if you are not starting one year in advance), cost, and accessibility among other things. In my case, because of my daughter’s schedule, she could not be flexible on the date, hence a Christmas time wedding.

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

In an earlier article, I mentioned that the setting for my novel, Hidden Bloodlines, was inspired by the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Not only did my husband and I enjoy the hotel, but my daughter celebrated her 18th birthday there. She loved Estes Park and the Stanley and asked that her wedding take place at a beautiful mountain church with the reception at the Stanley.

Availability

A wedding the Saturday before Christmas has quite a few drawbacks, but it also has its advantages. With respect to availability, there are two sides — the availability of the choice locations and the availability of the attendees.

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado
The Wedding Planner — The Date
Photograph by Laura Grace Photography

A wedding Christmas weekend is not common, therefore, the church and Music Room at the Stanley were available. On the other hand, since it was Christmas time, not everyone invited could come. For some, that could be considered an advantage (one less person to cover), however, we missed those unable to attend.

Cost

Estes Park, Colorado is a summer resort. If it were a ski resort, it would be a winter wonderland, but it’s not — there is no skiing permitted despite the magnificent mountains. Therefore, a Christmas wedding is off-season, with off-season rates – a definite advantage. Moreover, it was Advent and we were not permitted to decorate the church. That was a large unanticipated savings. The church was so beautiful in its own right, no one even noticed it was not decorated for a wedding and I saved quite a bit of money on flowers.

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado
Rehearsal at Our Lady of the Mountains

The icing on the cake was that the Music Room was already decorated for Christmas, therefore, my only concern were the table tops and head table decorations (more on that later).

Accessibility

You never know what the weather brings at Christmas time in Colorado, especially in the mountains. It could be 70 degrees or subzero, and you can’t rely on the weather professionals (it’s the only career where you can be wrong on a regular basis and still keep your job). Fortunately the church and hotel for the reception were a mere half mile apart on the main road into Estes Park. In the event of bad weather, at least that route would be open. And, we definitely had very bad weather even though the snow was beautiful.

wedding, wedding planner, books, Hidden Bloodlines, wedding budget, Stanley Hotel, Christmas, Christmas wedding, budget, checklist, timeline, organization, organization tips, library, military discount, veterans, savings, cost savings, Our Lady of the Mountains, Estes Park, Colorado
A Traditional Wedding with Family Fun

The church and the Stanley were available Christmas weekend. We had the opportunity to pay off-season rates, and despite the snow, everything was accessible. It was a beautiful wedding with a phenomenal family reunion. Because of the distance traveled, the good times moved from the Stanley to my home. A truly traditional family wedding of fun, laughter, and good times.

Cost Saving Tip: If the bride, groom, or parent putting on the wedding is military or a veteran, always ask if there’s a military discount. You’d be surprised at the potential cost savings.

Do you have any cost saving tips to share?

Save Thyme with Writers’ Conferences

So many potential mistakes that costs time… . These first three articles discuss the importance of attending writers’ conferences and how to best utilize them and save time. This third article reveals two other very common mistakes to avoid in order to save even more time. Of course, I made these mistakes as well… .

writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference, tools, titles, story, how-to books, heroine, hero, Jeff Gerke, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Save Thyme with Writers’ Conferences
Karen with Susan Elizabeth Phillips and          Jayne Ann Krentz
Learning the Craft of Fiction Writing
writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference, tools, titles, story, how-to books, heroine, hero, Jeff Gerke
Save Thyme with Writers’ Conferences

I studied and worked hard at learning my new craft of fiction writing. How-to books filled my shelves, and yes, I not only read them, but I studied them. There were books on

  • character development,
  • plots,
  • showing not telling,

to name just a few, along with workbooks where you can practice — and practice I did. Finally, I finished the first draft and applied for one of the few select spots in a fiction clinic with a great publisher and editor, Jeff Gerke.

The Fiction Clinic
writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference, tools, titles, story, how-to books, heroine, hero
The Journalist

This book was my baby. I spent countless hours creating a strong heroine in a field that fascinated me – journalism. That’s right, I was fascinated with journalists who covered exciting, dangerous events so I made my heroine a journalist.

Jeff asked me a simple question that changed the course of my book, Hidden Bloodlines, (and my series — The J.C. Classified Series). “Why isn’t your heroine a lawyer?” He sagely pointed out that it’s better to write what you know. As a lawyer myself, I’ve lived the life, and if my character lived what I know, she would feel “real” to the reader and have a greater impact. You want your readers to fall in love with your characters.

writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference, tools, titles, story, how-to books, heroine, hero, Jeff Gerke
Scales of Justice

Jeff then asked me to tell him the entire story in a nutshell. Most writers like to tell their story and I held nothing back. My story was too complicated — there were actually two books within one and they needed to be separated. I was back to the drawing board with a heroine who was now a lawyer and a plot that needed to be simplified.

The Plotter vs. Pantser

If I were a “plotter,” a writer who creates detailed outlines prior to starting, at least the overly complicated story may have been identified prior to writing the entire manuscript. However, I am a “seat of the pants” writer where this risk is higher. I’ve attended conferences where the recommendation is to blend the two. That may work with some, but not all, and certainly not me. That’s part of the excitement for me to write — the developing story and the twists and turns of events.

How about you? Are you a “plotter,” “pantser,” or a blend of both?

THE WEDDING PLANNER – STRESS, AN UNINVITED GUEST

When you’re the wedding planner, stress is often an uninvited guest, especially when the wedding planner is a book worm and uncomfortable in her new role. It is common knowledge that stress always accompanies a role that is outside your comfort zone and it is critical to learn how to help alleviate it for a healthier you. There are quite a few methods to help reduce stress, but since this is the start of a new year with the desire to shed those unwanted holiday pounds, the first method we’ll discuss is exercise.

fitness, exercise, aerobic exercise, weights, body beautiful, weight control, weight loss
Team Diane Workout
Getting Fit – Take It Up a Notch

In a previous post, I mentioned that a friend and physical therapist, Diane Foley together with her long time workout buddy, Karen, took me on as their project. With the upcoming wedding and the related stress, they took it up a notch to make me “one hot mama” for the wedding. My workout routine was changed out every two to three months, and I shared one of those routines in previous posts as well as stretches to help avoid the potential pain from sitting. To give you a one-stop shop to for the stretches and entire workout, I provided the links below for your convenience.

The workout routine takes two paths — one for the advanced and the other for the newbie. A detailed description of each exercise is provided along with photos. Remember it is very important to always check with your physician before making any changes to your healthcare regime. And, if anything hurts, STOP immediately!

Body Beautiful – Weight Control & Exercise
health and wellness, weight control, energy balance, take charge, motivation, exercise, portion control, maintenance
It’s All about Health and Wellness — 5 lb Human Fat Model

At the start of the summer, I provided a single source with links to my earlier articles geared toward helping you achieve your weight control and exercise goals. That’s still a great place to start!

Fitness: Moving to the Next Level

My personal journey begins with Diane and Karen.

fitness, exercise, aerobic exercise, weights, body beautiful
Fitness: Moving to the Next Level — Making a Difference
Getting Fit: Taking It Up A Notch!

Rules of the workout are presented as well as the first set of stations: the warm up.

Getting Fit: Taking It Up A Notch! Part 2
Fitness, workout, weights, weight control, body, weight loss, zucchini, routine, exercise, weight lifting, cardio
Reverse Flies on Ball for the Newbie & Advanced

Check out the next station:

  • Flies On Ball
  • Reverse Flies On Ball
Getting Fit: Taking It Up A Notch – Part 3
exercise, workout, weight lifting, strength building exercises
Tricep Extensions
Taking It Up A Notch Part 3

Keep moving with:

  • Side Step On 8 Inch Step
  • Tricep Extension
  • Lunge with Bicep Curl
Getting Fit: Taking It Up A Notch – Part 4
getting fit, weight control, bicep curls, lunges, tricep extensions, strength training, weight lifting, fitness, exercising, burly, abdominal exercises, Saturday Night Fever, plank walk
Doing More than Staying Alive!

Remember, there are two paths — one for the more advanced and the other for the newbie!

  • Plank Walk and Straddle Jump
  • Burpy
  • Side Lunge with Diagonal Reach (Saturday Night Fever Move)
Getting Fit: Taking It Up A Notch – Part 5
getting fit, weight control, bicep curls, lunges, tricep extensions, strength training, weight lifting, fitness, exercising, burly, abdominal exercises, Saturday Night Fever, plank walk, oblique sit-ups
Oblique Sit-Ups
Getting Fit

The last station before you begin your new set:

  • Oblique Sit-Ups
  • Hamstring Curl On the Ball
  • Bridge
  • Bicycle Abdominal Crunch

 

 

Did this exercise routine help alleviate my stress? Absolutely! Was I “one hot mama” for the wedding? You be the judge — beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What’s important was that I felt great, danced the night away, and enjoyed every moment! Stay tuned for the next article, The Wedding Planner — The Date.

Health, exercise, stress, wedding, wedding planner, workout, weights, warmups, warm-ups, stretches, burpy, advanced, newbie, rules of the workout, fitness, getting fit, curls, weights, sit-ups, crunches, stress reliever
The Wedding Planner – Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

What exercises alleviates your stress?

Save Thyme & Avoid Common Mistakes — The Beginning

In my first article, Save Thyme and Avoid Common Mistakes, I discussed the importance of attending writers’ conferences and a common newbie mistake — pitching a book that was not written. This next article will focus on the beginning — the beginning of your book, your writing career, and essential tools of the trade.

Save Thyme & Avoid Common Mistakes — The Beginning

If you don’t take into consideration the two years my story brewed in my mind, this first writers conference was my beginning. If you can get into a clinic at a writers’ conference, I highly recommend it. It’s intense, and you get one-on-one assistance with an experienced writer, agent, editor… . This input is invaluable.

Because your application for a clinic typically includes the first 15 pages, you want to make sure those 15 pages are the absolute best they can be. Write, rewrite, and write again. Have others read it and see if you have a writer friend who can also give you input (more on writers’ groups and critique groups later). When you think it’s there, set it aside for as long as possible (I prefer a week) so that you see it with fresh eyes, and read it out loud. It’s amazing what your ears catch that your eyes miss.

CCWC: Estes Rock Banner 2016

Although my manuscript was not written, I did write the first 15 pages to apply to a beginners fiction clinic that was team taught by two well-known authors. The beginning is always critical to capture your audience, whether it’s an agent, publisher or your reader. I realized during this particular clinic that I was chosen not because of my story (the first 15 pages did not reveal much), but because of the mistakes I made in the beginning. Nothing I had grabbed my reader — not the title nor the first sentence, first paragraph, or first page. Nada.

supernatural, fog, night, writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference, tools, titles
The Supernatural – Fact or Fiction? Night Fog …

This first clinic got my act together. At the start of this clinic, we went around the room reading our first sentences. The rule — NEVER begin a book with the weather. Most of us did. Think about how you choose a book, whether it’s your next library choice or book to buy.

Most people:
  • Check the title. Does it sound interesting?
  • Read the back cover copy. Still interested?
  • Open the book to the first page and read the first sentence. Still interested?
  • Read the first paragraph, and maybe even the first page. Getting it?
Writers’ Tools
writing, publishing, story, fiction, novel, mistakes, writing mistakes, Thyme for Writers, journey, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, agents, editors, craft, skills, writers conference, tools, titles
The Author Toolbox

 

This first conference also gave me a glimpse into what type of tools of the trade would make my life easier. Instead of sharing what I learned here, I recommend a more comprehensive source that’s tried and true — The Author Toolbox by Candee Fick.

 

 

The Title
Hidden Bloodlines, romantic suspense, Colorado Rockies, Karen Van Den Heuvel
Hidden Bloodlines

 

I needed a catchy and unique title. First, I brainstormed a list of 10 titles. Next, I did the research necessary to assure none of those titles were already taken in previously published works. I created survey sheets and waited outside each service at my church one weekend and asked people to choose and rank their top 3 titles. An overwhelming majority chose Hidden Bloodlines as their top choice.

 

I threw out my first chapter and started over. My first sentence went from the weather to:  “Victoria prosecuted the wrong man.”

What captures your interest?