Tag Archives: #writing

How My Family Survives My Writing…

This week on Nitty Gritty Romance, it’s challenge week #2 — and the challenge question is:

How Does Your Family Survive Your Writing?

Well that’s an easy one: They’ve learned to cook. 😉

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Well, um…dinner doesn’t look quite like this, but you get the point.

As all you moms out there know, having kids means a lot of cooking. Even more than cooking, you’re prepping food ‘round the clock. And since my girls rarely eat the same food…well… You’ve been there, you get it.

Since I follow the strict writing schedule of “writing whenever I get the chance” everyone chips in for dinner.  My eight-year-old makes a mean chicken pot pie, and my ten-year-old likes to experiment with her own recipes including her “famous” Apple-Tizer–a delicious and healthy recipe that goes great with any meal and tastes like a baked apple. It’s so delicious, I’ve included the recipe here!

We enjoy cooking together and it’s a great skill for the girls. I hope you try Penelope’s Apple-Tizer and let us know how you like it! (And even kids who say they don’t like tomatoes seem to like this one!)

Recipe for Penelope’s Apple-Tizer:


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2 Large Red Apples (your favorite)

1 Large Golden Delicious or Green Apple

1 Medium Tomato

Squeeze of Lemon Juice or Orange Juice

1 Tablespoon of Healthy Margarine


Chop the apples into small squares and put into a microwave-safe dish. Chop the tomato into similar size chunks, removing any seeds. Add tomato to the apples. Add the margarine and microwave until the margarine melts and the apples soften.

Squeeze a good amount of lemon juice (makes it tart) or a splash of orange juice (makes it sweeter).

Toss together and serve warm. Enjoy!



Holiday Happiness with Jeannie Hall!

Today on Nitty Gritty Romance, we are thrilled to feature Jeannie Hall! Jeannie shares her story on achieving her dreams, and advises how we can achieve ours as well! What a perfect way to get ready for 2017!

From Jeannie:

2016 has been a transformative year for me. I became both traditionally and self-published for the first time. I’ve begun a personal journey to become healthier and happier – to date I’ve lost thirty-three pounds and have started my own writing business. I plan to leave my rather draining day job sometime within the first half of 2017. So now that Christmas is upon us, and with the New Year right around the corner, I’ve started to take stock of not only 2016, but my life in general.

I’m a happy person. I smile at strangers and feel cheerful much of the time. I’m grateful for all that I have. But sometimes I have struggled with bouts of sadness. Looking back at those times, I realize that those bouts were due to me not following my dreams. For years I’ve worked in jobs I didn’t enjoy – and sometimes stressed me out to the point of ill health – because I was afraid to do what I really wanted: to write.

Now that I’ve made the decision to focus the full strength of my heart and soul on my writing career, things are changing. In the month of November alone I was able to write and publish five eBooks – one, my Christmas novella, A Midnight Clear, and four nonfiction personal development books I’m calling my Writing in my Jammies series. Just a couple of months ago, I never could’ve imagined writing so much so easily. But now that I’ve dedicated myself to making writing my full time gig, taking care of myself and loving myself without limit, what seemed impossible is now happening. (By the way, I’m a retail manager working forty-five to fifty hour work weeks right now. That was also true in November.)

I’m a perfect example that believing in yourself and having faith in whatever higher power you believe in can work miracles. I’m following my fun and my passion, and my dreams – one by one – are coming true before my eyes. I realized that I deserve happiness – we all do. If I can do this, you can do it, too. Trust in your gut and if you have a dream, go after it with all your heart. If you do, your Christmas wishes and New Year’s Resolutions will have no choice but to come true. 🙂

Thanks, Jeannie!

Jeannie is also sharing her new release,


Wanna check out a fun little Christmas read full of thrills and steamy romance? Try my new release A Midnight Clear.


Getting entangled in an FBI case involving an international drug cartel right at the holidays does not make for a merry Christmas. Even though she’s never left the U.S., evidence seems to prove Hannah Barker is a drug mule with the cartel. Ian Velez, the local chief sheriff’s deputy, is also on the case, but his gut tells him Hannah is innocent. Is she? Or is something far more nefarious at work?




Sounds great! Where to buy…?    Amazon


Here’s a little about Jeannie:

Jeannie Hall is a multi-published nonfiction and fiction author, hailing from the Southern jeannie-hallUnited States.

She writes the nonfiction “Writing in my Jammies” series of personal development books, meant to help others find more peace and happiness in their lives.

For her romantic thriller fiction stories, she uses her experiences growing up in the Deep South and love of nature as backdrops for her books. Jeannie enjoys writing intense and dark plots which twist in unexpected ways around her characters. She believes the best characters come from difficult and sometimes tragic pasts, building them into stronger women and men.

For more information about me and my journey, check out my website: WritingInMyJammies.com

How to connect with Jeannie…?





Thanks for stopping by! Happy Reading!


This week on Nitty Gritty Romance, we’re talking about something no one loves—Burnout. Burnout stinks. Plain and simple.  We’ve all been there, to that point where we feel nearly incapable of doing one more moment of ______ (fill in the blank).

Today, we’re talking about the burnout we all feel once in awhile, when we’ve pushed ourselves too far, sometimes in what feels like the wrong way.

So, here’s why you don’t have to let burnout rule your world.

  • Burnout is a sign not a condition. If you change your attitude toward burnout, you can change the outcome.

  • Changing your attitude can be easier than you think. Burnout is my mind and body telling me I need to make a change.

  • Make the change. Can’t possibly face another_______…? Then don’t. This is not a get out of jail free card. Fulfill your obligations, and move on to something else. Anything else.

  • Take up a new hobby. Sounds counterproductive? I am so tired/stressed/overworked/overwhelmed I can’t possibly add something new? Do it anyway. See where you can take from the burnout inducing behaviors (too many hours on social media for example), and add that time to something positive—learning to ski, surf, knit, yodel…whatever. Burnout is your cue to reinvent you.

  • Try yoga. Yes, I go on and on about yoga, but I’m telling you, when you come to the mat, you are giving yourself permission to, “just be.” And in those moments of “just being” you can open your eyes to possibilities you never knew existed.

  • Make the change. This is your life. If you’re burnt out, dare to make the changes, even the big ones.

    Dale Carnegie

When all is said and done, consider: burnout can be a good thing. It is your body and mind telling you, you need to make a shift, whether radical or small.

Unexpectedkindness is themost powerful,least costly, andmost underratedagent of humanchangeSo many of my mom friends tell me they are completely burnt out after a long summer with the kids. So many writers label their burnout, “Writer’s Block,” when really they are simply burned out on a genre, a brand, a schedule. They begin to lose the excitement, the joy, the reason for doing it. And that’s when the trouble sets in.

So I hope you can look at your burnout as a (gulp) good sign—a signal you need to make a change for the better. I’m rooting for you!



Saying Goodbye to Clutter…

This week on Nitty Gritty Romance, I’m talking about loving the absence of something—clutter.


If you’re like me, you collect items without meaning to—artwork from your kids, endless amounts of coupon flyers, to-do lists galore, clothes you’ll never wear again—ever—but you just can’t justify throwing out.

Then, come those days. Those days when you can’t stand one more second of it. Those days when all you want is to clean and get rid of the clutter.

These days are my wonderful, calm, peaceful husband’s happiest days. On these days I’ll often catch him whistling a happy tune as he carries bags to recycling, and overflowing bins to donation centers. And you know what…? When I’m through, I feel better too.

My youngest daughter, on the other hand, has hidden boxes and bins everywhere, and those boxes and bins are crammed full of every tiny scrap or memento she’s ever collected. She thrives in clutter. Helping her clean her room takes Ujjayi breathing and acceptance, but today I drew the line when she wanted to save a used band-aid.


When I get rid of the clutter, I feel better and yes, more in control. I see peace and order. I feel open to possibility, not confined by obligations. As a writer, my brain is often swarming with multiple thoughts and stories—but even the best writers say they can only write one idea at a time. So, without even realizing, you declutter as you write. You choose those thoughts you need to express immediately, the rest wait patiently for their turn at the keyboard.

Organization is instinctual. Maybe that’s why we feel so much better when we do it. I just cleaned my closet—donating clothes, replacing old hangers with new—and when I was through, all I wanted was to sit in the peacefulness I had created. Maybe that’s why I love walking into a newly staged display at Ikea—everything is orderly and welcoming.

HappinessSo what is it about organizing that makes us feel…blissful? Is it control? Is it peace?

For me, I feel freer and happier once I’ve gotten rid of the clutter. And all aspects of my life are better because of it.

So next time you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, try getting rid of the physical clutter in your space. See if you feel better, and let me know how it goes.

And today, Mind Body Green has a beautiful blog post on getting rid of clutter. Here’s the link. Definitely worth the read!

Mind Body Green

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy reading!


Nitty Gritty Romance

The Nitty Gritty on things to love…and about love.

Happy June 1st!

With the start of the Summer Season — I am thrilled to be launching my new blog: Nitty Gritty Romance!

Nitty Gritty Romance


Nitty Gritty Romance is a weekly blog featuring:

The Nitty Gritty on things to love…and about love.


Check in Saturday mornings!

I’ll be keeping you up to date on things that matter to you. We’ll be talking about fitness (which workout, yoga or barre?), quick and healthy foods, NYC, bargain hunting, parent survival, interviews with your favorite romance authors, and lots more!

Plus, there’s lots and lots of talk about…love

So thanks for stopping by!

Hope to see you again this Saturday!




Spring Cleaning…Or, How to Get Your Writing Space Organized


It’s spring! Well, close enough. Around here it’s eighty degrees, and time for some organizing.

When I looked at my desk the other day, I felt my spirit deflate. Not because I wasn’t thrilled to have time to write, but because there was so much clutter. Why? Because when ideas come to me, I jot them down. When I’m out, I simply whip out my phone and open my notes. Easy. Neat. Organized.

So what the heck happened to my desk?

Well, first off, I’m happy to report I have many projects going at once. To my artistic brain, this is wonderful news. To my Type-A personality, this can drive me batty. So…I began jotting. I jotted down so many character traits, ideas, must-dos, and marketing reminders, I was elbow deep in little pieces of paper with scribble all over them. And that’s how I came to see them—not as great ideas for my next book—but rather, scribble.

So, what did I do? And what can you do to help organize your writing space?

I went old-school. I love my computer and phone, but at my desk, I still jot notes longhand. So, I purchased four notebooks that, for once, I didn’t let my girls have. Next, I got large pieces of poster board, and a large calendar ONLY (and that’s the key here) for work. Family info has to stay on another calendar in another room.


So let’s get started:

1) I labeled the notebooks with titles that worked for me and added sub-sections.

Spiral Notebooks

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

First is “General Info and Promotion.” This is where my “jotting” goes now, and each entry is dated. But not my book ideas—those we’ll address in a moment.

Next is a “Must-Do” notebook. You know the “must-dos”—things you have to get done, such as social media, etc. This notebook has a subheading of “Places Must Be” – websites. If you’re like me and writing in different genres, (THE LETTING series is YA/NA but my new series—The New York Artists Series—is for adults only), you will have new sites you have to join etc.

Next, is “Chat/Meetings/Connections.” This is where I jot the notes from on-line chats, local RWA meetings, and list the people (and their contact info) I meet when out and about.

Finally, I have “Books/Blog Ideas.” Yup. Instead of all of those white pieces of computer paper piled high, now my thoughts go into this notebook. I use it in conjunction with my phone.

I have one other plain notebook—with no cover—for quick thoughts that later get transcribed.

sticky notes

2) Sticky Notes.

Sticky Notes. Can we say enough about them? Sticky notes are on my wall next to me with my weekly schedule and immediate reminders—MUST DO TODAY sticky notes go on my computer.

3) Large Calendar.

Okay, pretty self-explanatory. But I use color-coded markers for different books and different promos that are running. I clearly label my blog appearances and when someone else appears on my blog.

4) Large Sheets of Poster Board.

Large sheets of poster board. These work like whiteboards for me, only better. I create master lists for each book, and check-off as I go. When the board is full, promo is over, etc. I store them behind an armoire in my office to refer to later.

Finally, strange but (maybe) interesting tips. emoticon

*If your computer is near a wall, keep anything that needs immediate attention away from that wall. I don’t know why, but papers that start to accumulate near a wall are easily forgotten. But hey, you’re not going to accumulate any more paper, right?

*Color-coding is so helpful. Buy those multi-colored highlighters for your calendar and notebooks. Your eye doesn’t get bored, and can focus on separate tasks easily.

*If you can, cover your walls with positive thoughts and achievements. I have my book covers hanging, and emails I have received that really mean a lot. I don’t frame reviews, but if it works for you, go for it! I hit Ikea for cheap frames and buy several at a time. Frame and hang anything helpful to you.

Finally, do what works best for you! I hope this helps. I’ll be exploring more about organizing when I tackle the topics of social media and such. For more info on my books, come visit www.CathrineGoldstein.com .

Thanks! Happy Spring, and Happy Reading!

Finding Shade for Our Characters

This past Sunday, we enjoyed gorgeous weather and a fun family bike ride.

Despite the welcomed cooler weather, on the way home it started to get hot, as it is mid-September in NC.

Just a short distance from home, my youngest daughter needed a rest. I suggested we stop for a water break, but she pushed forward—as fast as her little legs could take her—to a patch of shade up ahead. As she kicked back, looking at the trees above her and the bugs below, I began thinking, when are those times when my characters need to “find a patch of shade” as well?

As writers, we are often focused on the Big Picture. As romance writers in particular, there are some givens in our genre. Yes, ultimately, our characters will fall in love, so to create a story there must be tension between our main characters, lots of conflict, and eventual resolution. And sure, we plan out secondary characters and subplots, but what about those softer, but very important, moments? Those moments of taking a break…of finding a patch of shade on a hot day?

Those moments in the shade—those heartbeats between our scenes of uncontrollable passion and hurling bowling balls at one another—can be crucial. We need those moments of sitting quietly under a tree; of driving in a car together; of experiencing a sunset; or sharing an iced tea.

Crafted correctly, these can be the moments of biggest growth, and are often the times the author, and the reader, discover the greatest insights into our characters.

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