Why are High Heels Sexy?


I loved this shoe the moment I saw it. It's a classic look (except for the color), not the truly difficult 5" platform shoes that are so common today. But, with any high heel, the question is - why do women torture themselves by wearing shoes that are uncomfortable, hard to walk in, and harmful to their health?

The easy answer is that women wear high heels because men like them and they want to be attractive to men. Which begs the question – why do men like women in high heels?

Some researchers decided to find out. They had women walk in flat shoes and also in high heels, then made videos showing only points of light to represent the women. They didn't show the actual women so there was no bias in terms of what they looked like.

When shown these videos, observers said the high-heel "lights" were younger, more feminine and significantly more attractive

Wow! That's a lot of positive feedback from a mere shoe.

And, surprisingly, both women and men agreed that the heels had this awesome power.

The researchers said this finding was due to the fact that high heels force women to take shorter steps (we all know how that works) and also, the heels force "increased rotation and tilt" of the hips. Yes, a sexual stimuli. So, a high heeled gait, even when shown only as points of light, is younger, more feminine and more attractive. That's a powerful reason to torture yourself.

So there you have it. Dig out those heels!

I did my part. I bought two pairs of that beautiful pink shoe shown above.

For my teenaged daughters. Ha

Anyone want to guess who makes this shoe?
Promotion Time Coming Up!
First off, I'm giving away an eARC of Extreme Love when I hit 500 to-be-read on Goodreads. You can go to here to sign up. Easy entry and a chance to be one of the first to read Extreme Love.

I've got a lot going on right now. Not only am I finishing the third book of my Awakening Series, but I'm knee deep in prepping for promotion for Extreme Love and The Awakening: Aidan.
 
I'd like to take this moment to thank my publicists at Entangled. I've already learned so much from them in the week and half since our conference call than I have in trying to do promotion on my own over the last few years. I'm amazed at the wealth of knowledge the entire publicity team has, and feel very fortunate they are sharing it with me.

Seriously, I had a conference call last Saturday. I was on the phone with Morgan, Babs and Dani and most of the time what they were saying was like Greek to me. I just listened as they tossed around these ideas, and couldn't help but smile because I knew I was in great hands. I might not have understand a dang thing they were saying, but I was confident they knew what the hell they were doing.

So thank you Morgan, Babs and Dani for being as excited about my releases as I am. You guys rock!!!
Abby
Next Big Thing - My Daring Highlander

I'm sorta participating in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. I say sorta because I didn't really get anyone else to participate. I'm breaking the rules! :)

I'd like to thank my friend, Elizabeth Delisi, who tagged me to do this. Elizabeth is a multi-published, award-winning author of romance, mystery and suspense. Her time-travel romance set in ancient Egypt, Lady of the Two Lands, won a Bloody Dagger Award and was a Golden Rose Award nominee. Her romantic suspense novel, Since All is Passing was an EPPIE Award finalist and Bloody Dagger Award finalist. Fatal Fortune was a Word Museum Reviewer’s Choice Masterpiece. Elizabeth's contemporary romance novella The Heart of the Matter is featured in the Valentine's Day-themed anthology Cupid's Capers and was an EPPIE Award finalist. A Carol of Love is part of Holiday Hearts anthology and an EPPIE Award finalist. A Cup of Christmas Charm is part of Holiday Hearts 2 anthology and was also an EPPIE Award finalist. Please visit Elizabeth's website and blog.

I'm answering 10 questions about my upcoming release.

1)      What is the title of your book? My Daring Highlander

2)      Where did the idea come from for this book? The hero and heroine, Keegan MacKay and Seona Murray, were secondary characters in the previous book in the series, My Brave Highlander. There was an instant but forbidden attraction between them. Seona's father insists she marry a chief or titled laird. Keegan is the cousin of a chief. He has no title or property. I find forbidden love to be intriguing and I wanted to explore this difficult situation. I must find a way for the forbidden lovers to be together despite the impossible circumstances!

3)      What genre is your book? Scottish historical romance. It is set in 1619.


4)      Which actors would you choose to play the main characters in the movie version of your book? I couldn't think of any actors that fit the bill. Keegan has sandy-blond hair, light blue eyes and a charming smile. He might look like Sean Lowe, The Bachelor, if he had long hair. And if he wore a kilt. :) Seona has brown hair and dark blue eyes and kinda resembles Australian model Miranda Kerr.

5)      What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book? Keegan MacKay’s task should be simple—escort Lady Seona Murray back to her father’s home near Inverness, while protecting her from the ruthless outlaw bent on kidnapping her, but Keegan has foolishly fallen in love with her.

6)      Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? I'm choosing to self-publish it instead of submitting it to any publishers or agents.

7)      How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The first draft took about a month to write. I'm still working on the final draft.

8)      What other books would you compare your story to in this genre? Any of the Highland historical romance novels with lots of romance and adventure.

9)      Who or what inspired you to write this book? I love Highlander books and I love writing my Highland Adventure series. There have been three stories prior to this one, My Fierce Highlander, My Wild Highlander and My Brave Highlander. Each book inspires me to write the next one. Secondary characters then become main characters as I discover their story and write it. I get emails and reader reviews telling me they want the next book. I'm more than happy to provide that for them! :) Also, the beautiful landscapes, scenery and castles of Scotland inspire me on the settings and locations where the stories take place. This story is set from Assynt to Dornie to the area near Inverness. Sutherland and the Western Highlands have some of the most spectacular and memorable views. Part of the story is set at Eilean Donan Castle, but I've given my castle at Dornie a fictional name.
Eilean Donan Castle
10)   What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It is a very romantic story about two people who are basically in love before they ever share that magical first kiss. It was a sort of forbidden, love-from-afar type situations. Also for those readers who loved Dirk and Isobel from My Brave Highlander... the two figure as prominent secondary characters in this story.
the Assynt area of Sutherland

Here is the beginning of My Daring Highlander:


Assynt, Scotland, May 1619

Something in the early morn air didn’t feel right.
Keegan MacKay rode at the front of the MacKay party of just over two dozen, his gaze scanning the surrounding misty green hills and gray granite mountains. As head guard of the MacKay clan, Keegan took his duty seriously. He was to spy danger before it presented itself.
Had his outlaw cousin, Haldane, returned to try and kill Chief Dirk again and claim the chiefdom for himself? Although Dirk’s younger brother was but twenty summers, he was a formidable foe and slippery as an eel when it came to capture. Haldane’s band of outlaws had helped him escape Dunnakeil’s dungeon last November. Then, they’d vanished.
No doubt they would come out of hiding again soon.
Wanting to travel as far south as possible before sunset, they’d left Munrick Castle and the MacLeods at daybreak. Though that was more than two hours ago, the sun had not yet burned off the thick gray mist rising from the nearby loch.
Their journey had two purposes—Dirk’s wife, Lady Isobel, wished to travel to Dornie and visit her brothers, and Keegan was in charge of taking Lady Seona Murray back to her home near Inverness. That was a task he didn’t want for he had grown attached to her.
A prickle of warning passed over Keegan and he glanced back. Was the danger behind them? He guided his horse, Curry, off the narrow muddy trail, turned about and waited until several in their party rode past.
Keegan’s gaze settled on Lady Seona. Though she wore a plaid cowl over her head now, he had memorized how glossy her chestnut-colored hair was. More than once, he’d fantasized about running his fingers through the loose strands. They would surely be silky and cool against his skin.
Her dark blue eyes met his, just as bewitching as always, as were her Cupid’s bow lips. Damn, how he craved kissing her. Like a fool, he had longed for her for months, but he had never touched her in an intimate manner. Her chaperone aunt had eyes like a vicious eagle.
Keegan had tried to tell himself he was daft for wanting Lady Seona so badly. He was not a chief or titled laird, and her father would never allow her to marry him. Cousin of the chief was not good enough.
Dirk paused beside Keegan, startling him out of his wayward thoughts. “Is something amiss?”
“’Tis only a gut feeling someone is following us,” he said, keeping his voice low.
“Aye. I had the same feeling.” Dirk narrowed his piercing pale blue eyes and glared back at the hills they’d just passed through.
People had often remarked that Keegan had eyes like Dirk’s and that they were more like brothers than cousins. Keegan agreed with that assessment and highly valued his role within the clan of protecting them and the chief. He was happy Dirk returned last fall to take the position he’d been meant for since birth. He was an excellent chief and a strong warrior.
From the mist behind them, a distant horse’s whinny carried on the breeze.
“Did you hear that?” Keegan asked, his gaze searching the misty landscape.
“Aye.”
Keegan caught a glimpse of a black horse and rider as they veered off the trail and behind a yellow-blooming gorse bush. “There.” Keegan pointed.
“Aye. We’re being followed.” Dirk moved toward their party, giving quiet orders to the guards to surround the three ladies and their four maids, then he and a few guards joined Keegan.
“I wager ’tis Haldane,” Keegan said.
Dirk nodded. “He will never give up trying to kill me until one of us is dead.”
“’Haps you should wear a cowl so he cannot identify you so easily,” Keegan suggested. Dirk’s bright copper hair made him easy to spot from a great distance. And an easy target.
“Hmph. I’ll not hide from that wily weasel,” he muttered.
“I wasn’t suggesting you hide, cousin. Merely use caution and disguise yourself a wee bit so we can protect you better.”
“I don’t wish anyone else to be struck with an arrow either. I want Haldane and his whole band of outlaws taken out before he kills anyone else.” They had murdered two MacKay guards last winter and stolen almost a dozen horses.
Dirk’s friend, Rebbie, the Earl of Rebbinglen, halted his horse on Keegan’s right. “How many did you see?” he asked, his expression as dark as his eyes and hair.
“One, but I’m certain there are more,” Keegan said.
“Without doubt. That damned McMurdo highwayman is likely with him.”
“Aye, they have been fast friends since Haldane turned outlaw.” None of them held any fondness for Donald McMurdo. They’d had several run-ins with him in the past. For a certainty, Keegan detested the murderer who had slaughtered at least eighteen people in the Durness area, including one of Keegan’s cousins.
Last winter, Keegan had a scuffle with McMurdo in Smoo Cave in which the old highwayman had kicked Keegan in the groin. He’d had to fight past the pain to subdue McMurdo by holding a knife to his throat. He shouldn’t have been so lenient with the bastard.
As Keegan and those beside him stared back at the elevated green hillside, the late spring breeze fluttering the leaves of a nearby bush was the only sound. And a stream of trickling water. How he wished the mist would clear away so visibility would be improved.
Keegan glanced back at Lady Seona, glad to see eight armored guards surrounding her, along with Lady Isobel and Seona’s aunt, Lady Patience, and their maids.
Isobel held a lethal-looking dagger in her hand. ’Twas one she often carried in a scabbard at her side. Did Seona own a weapon? Would she even know how to use one? He should’ve trained her with a blade before this journey.
“Ready yourselves,” Dirk said, pulling a pistol from his belt.
Four guards on foot nocked their arrows and drew back the bows.
Keegan unsheathed his broadsword and held a targe before him. His gaze traveled up the green hillside, swathed in vibrant bracken fern where men could easily hide. Plaid flickered in the hazy gray mist. “Look.” He pointed with his sword. “They’re going to try to ambush us from the hill.”
“Move the women over there,” Dirk directed the guards, pointing toward an indention in the hillside surrounded by rocks and scrubby bushes. “And help them dismount. Put the horses in front of them.”
“Have a care,” Lady Isobel said low, but her concerned words to her husband were clear.
“Aye,” Dirk responded.
Keegan didn’t have time to think about how he envied their relationship. ’Twas obvious they were mad for each other. Keegan yearned for that closeness with Lady Seona.
The movement at the top of the hill drew his focus.
“He may have stones the size of cannonballs,” Rebbie said. “But I’d love naught more than to shoot them off.”
Dirk snorted. “I hope you get the chance, my friend.”
All the men except the archers held round targes before them. They were effective shields against arrows and sword strikes.
“’Haps you should move back, Dirk. The last thing we need is for the chief to be hit by a stray arrow.” Keegan felt daft even suggesting it, considering Dirk was probably the most capable warrior of them all, tall and broad of shoulder and about the same size as Keegan. They had sparred much over the past few months, training and keeping in practice. Sometimes Keegan won their matches and sometimes Dirk did, proving they were evenly matched.
“Do not worry over me, cousin.”
An arrow whizzed down from the hill. All the men lifted their targes. The arrow struck Keegan’s and bounced off the central brass boss or one of the metal studs.
“That little bastard,” Dirk muttered and dismounted. He led his beloved horse, Tulloch, to a safer spot and the other men did the same, including Keegan, not wanting their horses seriously injured or killed.
“Show yourself, Haldane!” Dirk yelled toward the hill. “Coward!”
A head popped up out of the bracken. ’Twas difficult to identify the person at this distance but he appeared to have red hair like Haldane.
Dirk aimed his pistol and fired but his target ducked.
“I hate to have to kill my own brother, but I will if he forces my hand.” Dirk shoved the pistol into his belt. “Damnation! There he is again. Shoot arrows at him.”
At this distance, and with the mist reducing visibility, Keegan could not tell if the man was indeed Haldane. If not, he was likely in his gang. Besides that, he’d shot the first arrow, provoking retaliation.
The archers did as they were told, letting fly several arrows toward where the outlaws were hidden.
“Come out and fight like men!” Dirk called out.
Several arrows were returned, tearing toward them. Targes easily deflected or caught each one.
Annoyance twisted through Keegan. He was tired of this cat and mouse game and eager for a good fight. “I’m going after him.”
“Not without me,” Dirk said.
“Nay, you stay here. The clan needs you.”
“The clan needs you as well,” Dirk grumbled.
“You are the chief,” Keegan argued, matching his cousin’s fearsome glare.
“Do you think that matters? Haldane is my problem and I’ll deal with him.”
“I’m ready to go after him and McMurdo,” Rebbie said, eager battle lust gleaming in his dark brown eyes.
“We’ll all go,” Dirk said, motioning toward a half dozen of his men.
***
Lady Seona Murray watched with sickened dread as Keegan, Dirk and several more men of their party charged boldly toward the hill where the outlaws lurked.
She had been staying with the MacKays for several months and almost considered them her clan now. They had certainly shown her more care and consideration than her own clan had.
“Dirk,” Lady Isobel called, but not too loud. If her husband heard her, he ignored her. “He is mad,” she grumbled through clenched teeth as the men disappeared from sight, the eerie mist enfolding them. “Haldane will kill him if he has half a chance.”
“They are capable warriors,” Seona said, knowing she was right, but at the same time realizing they were not invincible. She said a silent prayer for their safety.
“Aye,” Isobel said, her dark brows furrowed.
The eight well-armed guards surrounding them would not let the women move from the cover of the huge rocks surrounding them on three sides.
Seona was equally worried about Keegan, but could not voice her concerns. Her Aunt Patience, standing on Isobel’s other side, could never know that Seona held Keegan MacKay in such high regard. All winter and spring he had made a point to greet Seona at every opportunity with a charming smile and a bow. Sometimes she would catch him watching her with great interest from the other side of the great hall, but he had not done anything more intimate than usher her to the high table and pull out a chair for her almost every evening.
His friendly, pale blue eyes enchanted her. She wanted to do naught but stare into them for hours. His thick, sandy-brown mane looked as if it would be soft and silky; her fingers itched to find out. Though he was a tall, broad-shouldered warrior, his size did not intimidate her, for he had an easy smile. The only part of him she had ever touched was his arm when he escorted her. Each time she slipped her hand around his elbow, she savored the hardness of his well-developed muscles.
A few times this spring, on rare and precious sunny days, she and Isobel had watched the men training with swords in the walled barmkin outside Castle Dunnakeil. She could not take her eyes off Keegan then, especially when he grew warm and threw off his doublet. His muscles were obvious through the thin damp linen of his shirt, and his calf muscles beneath the bottom edge of his plaid intriguing.
She only hoped he would be careful as he and the men pursued the outlaws. With each minute that passed in relative silence, Seona’s stomach ached more and more. The mist before them, strangely lit from behind by morning sunlight hurt her eyes. She squinted against the brilliance.
“Why have they not returned?” Isobel grumbled a quarter hour later.
Having no answer for her friend, Seona shook her head. Indeed, what could be taking so long? Had they been ambushed and killed silently? A chill passed over her.
“Will one of you go check on them?” Isobel asked the bearded guard closest to her.
“Nay. The chief has commanded us to stay and protect you ladies,” he said in a brusque tone.
A sound from within the white mist caught Seona’s attention and then a movement, low to the ground.
Seona shoved Isobel into her aunt, toward the left side of the stony enclosure. Something struck the sandstone where they’d been standing, spraying rock particles over them.
“What on earth?” Aunt Patience squawked.
The women ended up in a heap on the ground.
Raising her head, Seona looked behind her. “An arrow,” she said, seeing the broken shaft and feathers on the ground where it had bounced off the rocks exactly where Isobel had been standing.
“Men to the left!” a guard shouted even as a clunk against wood sounded and an arrow drove into his targe.
The other guards cursed and moved into position to better shield the women.
“Saints, Seona, you saved my life,” Isobel said in a stunned voice.
Seona knew not what to say; she’d simply acted on instinct. Isobel had become like a sister to her over the past few months, and obviously she’d want to help her in any way she could. Just as she wished to return home and help her own sister.
Seona’s attention was riveted to the four enemies on foot, wielding swords, charging from the bright mist in front of them.
My Daring Highlander copyright 2013 Vonda Sinclair

Thanks for checking out my post and excerpt!!
Vonda




Quotes that Inspire
Every so often I like to share inspirational quotes. I seem to go through phases where for a while I'm searching out all the quotations I can find to inspire me. Then I'll go months with out reading any - except for the favorites I have pinned to the cork board beside my desk.

My friend Lacey Savage started sharing quotations on Facebook and Twitter and it got me thinking that this was a perfect time - the beginning of my life as a full time writer - to check out my collection of quotations and share some of them with you on this last Monday morning of January 2013.

My favorite - pinned to the wall & looked at every day:
"I'm not telling you it's going to be easy. I'm telling you it's going to be worth it."
- Art Williams
Not much in this life come easy, and those things we need to strive for are that much more special when we achieve them. Think of the characters in our stories and what they need to overcome.

Others on my cork board wall:

"Don't Stop Believing!" - and it's okay if it makes you think of Journey. Or Glee. Go ahead and sing along. And don't stop believing in your dreams.

"What can I do TODAY to help me reach my goal?"
This came from a goal setting workshop I took once upon a time and I'm sorry to say I never wrote down who gave that to me. Sometimes as we look down the road, the destination we're headed for seems so far away. The number of steps we need to take so many that it's easy to give up. But if you just focus on what you can do today, eg. Write 100 words. Come up with new, exciting blurb. Read a chapter in a craft book. Something. Anything to bring you one step closer. And then tomorrow it may be easier to do even more.

And a couple from the massive list I have saved to my hard drive:

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
We're not going to make it every time we try. Rejections will keep coming. Your editor may leave. Your publisher may fold. That book you fell in love with may not do as well as you hoped in sales. Keep going. Keep trying.

So:
"Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your
face, and then reach for the stars."

- Joan Curcio

As the first month of the new year draws to an end, what quotes inspire you to keep going? Keep trying? Keep believing?

Natasha
Silken Canvas - available now
www.natashamoore.com

How To Write A Novella
I come from a TV news background in which I had to tell a (news) story in one-minute-thirty seconds every night for the 6 o’clock news, so novella writing comes easy to me. I ‘write tight.’ With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you a few novella-writing tips that work for me and hopefully might work for you, too:

Plot
-Start the story with a crisis. This serves two purposes. One, you hook the reader immediately from the first sentence, and two, it lets you start the story at a later plot point, and include what would have been the beginning events as back story. For instance, in my Victorian novella THE DISCIPLINARIAN (Secrets, Volume 15, Red Sage Publishing) my opening line is, “Clarissa, I’m sending you to The Disciplinarian.” Oooh. Can’t you almost hear the scary music playing in the background? What had Clarissa done to make her husband turn her over to such a nefarious-sounding person? How would poor Clarissa react to the news? While her husband is dragging Clarissa to The Disciplinarian’s waiting coach, that’s the time for you as an author to give the reader a little information on what brought these characters to this apparently dire state of affairs.

- Keep your characters, locations, and plot to a minimum. Remember, a novella is a simple story, simply told. In my novella THE BET (Secrets, Volume 27, Red Sage Publishing) the entire story takes place over one weekend at a Victorian country house. Besides the hero and heroine, I’ve included only one other character -- the heroine’s brother, who is the antagonist and the catalyst for the story. He sets the entire tale in motion when he manipulates the hero into an outrageous wager. THE BET has one setting, one major conflict, two main characters, and one antagonist. The perfect recipe for a novella.



- Include an absolute minimum of back story. Tell your readers only what they need to know to make them understand your characters’ motivations. For example, in THE DISCIPLINARIAN, my hero Jared, the shadowy legend of the title, has never failed to turn a difficult wife into a dutiful spouse -- but not in the way their husbands expect. Years ago, Jared’s sister had been beaten to death by her spouse, so Jared now feels an obligation to help other women avoid the same fate. Clarissa, in this story, is that woman. So you see how I’ve used a tiny bit of back story to explain Jared’s altruistic motivation. That’s all you need.

-Make every scene count. Every word of a novella should move the story forward, and even better, as an author you should try to end every scene with a hook, a crisis, or a disaster. Action is key. Danger is even better. You don’t want a reader to be able to put your story down!

- No subplots. Remember, in short fiction you’re limited by word count, so keep the focus on your big crisis.

Conflict
Conflict is the soul of any story. The plot is your framework, but conflict is the magic that keeps a reader turning the pages. Conflict has two main components: internal and external, and both these components need to escalate quickly throughout a novella, building to a crisis at the Black Moment. In erotic novellas like the ones I write, the all-important sexual tension plays a big part.

Every romance, whether sweet or sexy, is ultimately about getting the hero and heroine to the ‘happily ever after’ or the ‘happy for now.’ In a novella, the best way to do that is to quickly throw your hero and heroine into an impossible situation (plot), and then keep them constantly in each other’s company while the sparks fly (conflict).

Here’s an example of external and internal conflict in my Roman novella CONQUEROR VANQUISHED:

In 52 B.C., Rome has just conquered Gaul…

Leonidas Danae Vorenus, commander of Rome’s prestigious Sixth legion, is ordered to establish a strategic outpost in Gaul after its surrender to Julius Caesar. But on the way to his new post, Leonidas is seriously wounded in an ambush. Only one person can save his life, and she’s his sworn enemy.

Solange is a healer. While she values every life, she’s loath to save one of the hated Romans who’ve just conquered her land. But under threat by Leonidas’ second-in-command, Valerian, that ‘if Leonidas dies, you die,’ she has no choice but to treat the injured commander.

However, the relationship between conqueror and conquered soon evolves into much more. Solange and Leo’s forced intimacy ignites an unexpected attraction, and prompts the two enemies to look beyond the reason for their hatred to explore the equally powerful emotion simmering underneath. 




So. As you can see, I’ve used one major conflict, two main characters, and one antagonist to create the ideal structure for a novella. Once you’ve learned the formula, the stories practically write themselves. Your job is simply to come up with an interesting idea!

What about you?  Ever written a novella?  Was it harder or easier for you than a full-length novel?
Leigh Court
www.leighcourt.com






Hike to Crabtree Falls

A couple of weeks ago we hiked to Crabtree Falls, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC (MP 339.5). It's about 15 miles north of Mount Mitchell, which we've visited a few times. Even though it was January, it was a warm cloudy day, in the 60s. The restaurant and campground were closed because it’s the offseason. We parked at the restaurant and walked the extra distance to reach the trailhead.


This strenuous hike is a 2 1/2 mile loop, but if you have to park further away as we did the length is increased. I think we walked about three miles total. The trail winds down a mountain to the falls, and then back up on the return. There were at least three long sets of stone steps that looked as if they belonged in a medieval castle.


I’d like to go back in the spring or fall so the trees would look different and maybe we could see some wildflowers or leaf color. But I do enjoy taking pics of mossy rocks and tree stumps.


 Long before we reached the falls, we heard the roar of the water.


The trail narrows near the end and it's a bit precarious scrambling over the rocks and avoiding sliding down the bank toward the stream, Big Crabtree Creek. Once past that part, there is a bridge that spans the stream so you can get a great view of the falls. The rocks closer to the falls were wet, slick and difficult to cross so I didn't get closer. The falls are 70 feet high with a beautiful delicate appearance.


The tree above in the center of the stream is a crabtree and this is where the waterfall gets it's current name. In the past, before it was part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it was called Murphy's Falls. There used to be a small community nearby. The name was changed to Crabtree falls by the National Park Service.

The hike was difficult but worth it to see the beautiful falls. The hike back, going uphill, was the toughest part. Above is one set of the stone steps.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual trip to Crabtree Falls. :)
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com



I Don't Dread Mondays Anymore!
I thought I'd just post some thoughts after my first week of retirement. My first week at my second career. My first week as a full-time writer.

1. Everyone I talk to asks me how I like retirement - like I'm going to say, oh no! I changed my mind, I WANT to go back to all that stress I've been complaining about for years! My mother actually said I might feel differently in a year. Really? I don't see that happening.

2. I don't really consider myself retired. I'm still working. Just at a different job. A job I love. Doing what I've always wanted to do.

3. I LOVE waking up without the alarm clock. One of the BEST things as far as I'm concerned. I'm still usually awake around 6 am anyway, but that's okay. I don't want to sleep my whole morning away.


4. I've been getting a lot of writing done. Yay! I love writing in the mornings and am so afraid I could fritter away this precious time I've been given. I dove into a new story and I'm loving it. Only one day last week did I not get my minimum word count done, and that was because my daughter and the little guy came over. Yeah, I figure I'm allowed cuddle time.


5. I've been thinking a lot about the way my career is headed. Where I want it to go. What changes I might want to make. What opportunities I might want to explore. It's exciting. A little scary. One of those crystal balls might be nice, to make sure I make the right decisions, but I guess I'll just have to do the best I can.

6. I've also worked to organize and clean up my office space. It's still a work in progress, but it is nice to work with less clutter.

7. The Internet, and social media especially, are tempting distractions. I tell myself to shut down my internet access until I get my words done, but I haven't quite been able to do that. I figure as long as I DO get my words done, I'm not going to worry about it right now.

8. I'm fitting exercise into each day. I've let that slide for the past few years and it feels great to be moving again.

9. I don't dread Mondays anymore!

10. I'm happy.

Have a great week!

Natasha
Silken Canvas - available now
www.natashamoore.com
Lost in Jericho


I don’t watch much TV because I don’t really have the time. However, my DH purchased some kind of plan off of some kind of provider that lets us watch movies and TV series that are slightly outdated but still kind of interesting for a nominal fee. You can watch them at anytime, anywhere. You can start them and stop them whenever you want. These movies are there at your leisure, and thanks to this, I’ve rediscovered the joy of relaxing in front of the TV.

I have a high stress job. Not because it should be, but because my co-workers are hell-bent on making it so. Consequently, I think about work much more than I should, and when my DH wants to relax by watching some TV show or movie, I cringe. I’ve got too much work to do, I say. Or I can’t focus on it while I’m thinking about all I have to do, I grumble. I’ve got a ton of excuses why I can’t just sit back and enjoy some relatively mindless entertainment, but in recent months I started running out.

About that same time, DH discovered that our provider offers entire series of TV shows that we can watch commercial-free without interruption. I had some work to do late one night—shocking, I know—and so DH clicks on some random TV series that looks mindless enough to suit his desire to vegetate for a couple of hours. It turns out it’s one of these series that is quirky enough to capture his rapt interest and he gets hooked.

Sigh…

I resist as long as I can, listening to him as he recounts each episode, scoffing outwardly but inwardly thinking, “Hey, this sounds pretty good.” Then one night I finished working early and snuggled up with him to watch “his show.” I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was really pretty good and anything but mindless, so I ended up finding ways to finish my oh-so-important work so I could snuggle up with DH and watch TV.

I’ve never been happier.

The first series was Jericho, which we finished quickly. Now we’re watching Lost, which I know at least one of my blogmates loved when it was on TV. I can now understand why. I never had time for such luxuries when these shows were actually on TV and required a weekly commitment or a VCR. Now, however, we can breeze through 2-3 episodes in an evening if we want to or just watch one. We can call it up any time we feel like cuddling up in front of the TV.

I don’t if it’s the snuggling and cuddling or the compelling programs we watch, and I don’t really care. All I know is that I’ve rediscovered being able to lose myself in someone else’s story, and it feels great. Best of all, I’m getting more ideas now than ever and wrapping myself around my significant other. I’m still not that into TV, but modern technology has made it possible for workaholics like me to be able to fit some downtime into our self-made chaotic lives, and I’m grateful.

What about you? Are you a fan of Jericho or Lost or another TV show that’s captured your interest? Please do share!
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