Tag Archives: #writing


smoke fume cigarette fag

I have come to believe adverbs are cigarettes for writers. We’re told they are no good for us, are highly-addictive, but yet they’re still around, tempting us. Why, oh, why?


I just received my latest manuscript back from my editor and have been on an adverb-eliminating quest ever since. By the time I send a book to my editor I try to make my manuscript fairly clean, but apparently this time around I was adverb-happy. 🙂

Are adverbs really that bad?

First, let’s be in agreement about the definition of an adverb. A quick Google search reveals the definition as : “A word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there ).”

In particular, my editor was after adverbs modifying verbs. (And yes, likes and dislikes do change from editor to editor, even within the same publisher, but more on that in another post.)

So the question is: Do we overuse adverbs in writing? And can we be descriptive without them?

A quick glance at a poster today at our local children’s museum argued in favor of adverbs:


Touch GENTLY. Yes, there’s a difference.

“He touched her cheek gently” is very different than, “He touched her cheek roughly,” or even, “He touched her cheek.”

Of course if he’s caressing her cheek, we probably don’t need the adverb. Most readers would agree a caress is gentle, making the word, “gently” superfluous.


woman on hammock reading book


And if you read many popular novels, especially Young Adult novels, adverbs are sprinkled all over the pages.

So, what about you? If you’re a writer, do you use adverbs? And as a reader, do you like them? Or do you agree with so many editors who’d like to banish the use of adverbs? 😉

Leave a comment and let us know!

Happy Reading!


Be Brave…



In my constant quest to minimize all the “stuff” we have hanging around the house, I walked into my home office with my cityscape coffee mug and reusable water bottle in hand. As I plopped down at my writing desk, I looked at my office wall which has my book covers and degrees hanging on it—nice—but also had little affirmations and statements that were supposed to help me on my life journey, but instead, had become little more than clutter.

When I began thinking about the affirmation that resonated most with me, only one came to mind: Be Brave.

Most other affirmations circle back to the idea of bravery—being brave in mind and body as the key to success. All other notes came off my wall, but “Be Brave,” remains.



To publish a book, succeed in a pitch at work, go on an interview for a new job—all of it takes guts. It’s easier to sit home and watch the world pass by. It takes going to that place, the one that gives you chills and sweaty palms, to really succeed. And when you get to that place of success and others decide they want to criticize and judge (think bad reviews or a “no” from your boss), it’s easy to wish you had never started the journey.



But the truth is, it is your journey. And you need to take it. Bravely.


For so long I would get annoyed when people would say, “Push yourself out of your comfort zone.” I still do. I don’t agree with that statement at all. It’s NOT about doing something you don’t want to do, it’s about having the guts to go forward to embrace the life you DO want. Experiences are great. Embrace them. But if you go bungee jumping just because your daredevil friend pushes you, you’re not honoring yourself. You’re being bullied.

But if you want to publish that book, hit “submit.” If you want that raise, ask for a meeting with your boss. If you want to be a singer, start auditioning.

Remember, you’re on the path exactly where you are supposed to be—now be brave and embrace all that life has waiting for you.



Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Reading!

A Room of One’s Own…?


Was Virginia Woolf right? As writers, or anyone creating anything, do we need a room of our own…?

Taking some artistic liberties here regarding interpretation, I began thinking about Virginia Woolf the other day when I rolled out my yoga mat in my living room.

We’re very lucky to live in a nice house in a beautiful neighborhood, with a park just three doors away, walking distance to a quaint downtown with shopping and restaurants. I’m extremely lucky to have a wonderful family, a great husband and two awesome girls, and we like to be together. So when I set up my home office to write, we set up my husband’s desk across from mine, and brought in desks for the girls as well.

We have plenty of room, but also plenty of stuff. And that “stuff” never seems to find its way back to where it belongs…

Which brings me to my yoga mat. As a yoga instructor, I write my classes and run them at home to make sure they work well for my students. On this particular day one of my girls was in the living room with me, building Lego sets that were all over the coffee table and floor. A yoga mat isn’t so large, so I wedged it into a spot, and did my practice.


But when I finished, sweaty and tired with a little Lego person having found his way to my mat, I began to think…do I have a space of my own? Does any mom?

My girls do. They have bedrooms that at any given time may be off-limits to the other. They need personal space. But all you mothers out there know that even your trips to the restroom aren’t private. Inevitably, as soon as you lock that door, someone will call, “Mom!” and someone else will knock. It’s motherhood. That’s just the way it is.

person-woman-apple-hotel.jpgI began to think about my writing time, realizing most of my writing is done huddled in the backseat of my minivan while I wait in carpool lines, or sometimes, late at night, in bed. Would I be more prolific if I had alone time in my office? Probably so, but what pressures come with having a private office to write? What good comes from working in a crowded space?

What do you think?

What about you? Where do you work? Do you have your own space? Share it with kids? Furbabies? Coworkers? Are you a coffee shop creator?

Leave a comment and let us know!

Thanks for stopping by!



Using an Agenda Book…

This year, I went old school. Not so surprising since I still love the fashions and vibe of the 1990s.

But what I’m referring to here is that I switched from my phone calendar to using an agenda book… as in, an agenda I actually carry  around with me, pull out of my bag when I need to add something, and use a pen to write it down.



But, but, but….! I hear your objections, the same ones I had all through 2017.

1) But you have to carry it with you…

A: Yes, but since I’m carrying a bag with me anyway, a small agenda makes no difference.

2) What happens when someone from this decade wants to share something with you, let’s say through Google Calendar, directly to your phone…?

A: They still do. And I still get the update in my phone calendar–and then I transfer it to my agenda book.

3) WHY?

A: It works for me.

Here’s why:

First of all, many of you are also moms of young kids, and you understand when the kids are with you, just walking through Target can be a harrowing experience: “I’m hungry!” “Are we done?” “I hate shopping!” and that’s just me. The kids complain too. (Insert “winky” emoji here.)

So to survive, my youngest takes my phone, jumping back and forth between “Cartwheeling” in the Target app and watching DIY videos on, “How to make a bed for your new kitten.” (Our cat is almost four by the way.) There’s no way I can grab my phone to input something into the calendar.

Also, when I want to look at my week, I like having the pages of the agenda laid out in front of me. It makes it easier to move an appointment from one day to the next.


pexels-photo-279415.jpegEven though I can type much faster than I can write, I also find it quicker and easier — changing colors, fonts, or circling something I want to stand out — to input into the agenda.

I add sticky notes where I need them–plus, there’s something much more personal about the whole experience.


Inputting my daily activities into a written agenda book makes it feel more personal and therefore I feel more accountable to myself and those activities I’ve scheduled in my book.

Plus, I love going in and checking something off my to-do list. It’s way more satisfying to use a brightly colored pen to make a big “CHECK!” next to a task then simply to see it pass by on my phone.

And I’m not talking about the big clunky agenda of the 1990s that had names, addresses, and home phone numbers listed. Just a small streamlined version.

So how about you? Do you like the old school agenda or are you all about your phone or other? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!


Life Without Chocolate…



Chocolate has been a staple in my life, forever. No matter what changes I’ve made in my diet, mostly for headaches, chocolate has remained an old friend I call once a week for support.

Well, okay, not so much once a week as daily. And I don’t really call chocolate, I visit it.

Every. Single. Day.

Or, at least, I did.


pexels-photo-887850.jpegIt’s easy to justify a love for and life filled with chocolate. My girls know dark chocolate is chock-full of antioxidants and it has other health benefits as well, not the least of which may be improved heart health. But let’s face it, the best part about chocolate is the taste. Warm and smooth, oozing out of the center of a Molten Lava cake, or straight from the Valentine’s heart shaped box, chocolate is just pure heaven.  I’m gluten-free/dairy-free so for me, super-moist gluten free brownies made with coconut oil and then frozen and eaten at an outdoor concert on a summer night is absolute perfection.



My love for chocolate runs deep and takes many forms, but most of all I have an addiction to Caramel Walnut Brownie Luna Bars (that replaced the Chocolate Raspberry addiction before them). It was easy to eat a couple of these every day, they were a snack or meal replacement when on the run, and they TASTE SO GOOOOOD!!!!!


Since I’m mostly caffeine-free, chocolate also worked for that pick-me-up I needed mid-afternoon after sitting in carpool as I geared up for homework with the kiddos, or as I sat down at my computer to write late at night.

For me, late night writing equals chocolate. It just makes sense, doesn’t it?

And I wasn’t limited to those times, oh no! I would find a time and a place for chocolate anywhere and everywhere. And the most beautiful part of this relationship with chocolate—both the chocolate and I were happy.

So why the change?

I suffer from headaches. Often. All different types of headaches including migraines. (Migraines have me on a whole other diet just for them.) But for years, I never saw the connection of headaches and migraines—until one night about a month ago.

That night I woke with a headache so fierce it rivaled migraine pain (but without all the other symptoms of migraines.) The headache lasted for days and no painkiller could make it subside. And this headache  began immediately following my “healthy” snack of pumpkin seeds in dark chocolate.

There was no way to avoid the connection this time. For the sake of my health, I have to at least TRY to give up chocolate for a time. So I am going three looonnngggg months without chocolate of any kind. At that time, I’ll reevaluate, and my sincere hope is that I’ll find chocolate wasn’t the bad guy after all.

If that’s the case, I’ll buy that super-moist brownie its own white cowboy hat to wear right before I devour it…

Thanks for stopping by!



I’ll be documenting my life without chocolate here on Nitty Gritty Romance, I hope you’ll stop by and share your story as well! Have you ever given up a favorite food? I’d love to know! Leave a comment and share your story.

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!

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