Happy Valentine’s Day!

A short and sweet one from me, because I am also celebrating my wedding anniversary this week! Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my incredible readers who make writing my books completely worthwhile. Whether you are in a romantic relationship or not, take some time to read a good book and tell someone you love how much they mean to you!

How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming?

Okay, let’s be honest. New Year’s resolutions are hard! They are difficult to come up with, difficult to keep, and ever yyear I just feel more and more guilty that I haven’t managed to keep them beyond January!

So now we’re halfway through the year, how are you doing?

I’ll share mine, and please share yours in the comments!

My first New Year’s Resolution was to try and spend more time relaxing. I know that sounds daft, and I am not saying I never relax, but I work a full time job and essentially have a full time job as an author too. Yup, that’s two full time jobs, and it can be challenging to relax – especially when you add housework, trying to keep fit, and sleep (!) into the mix too.

How’s it going? Not terribly, but not great. I had my birthday off work (thank you!), but if I’m perfectly honest, I spent most of it working on some edits for a new book for you! D’oh!

My second New Year’s Resolution was to try and be more adventurous with my cooking. Not going to lie, I hate cooking. I love eating though, so I have some wonderful cookbooks I have been gifted over the years, and I wanted to try more of those recipes.

…again, not a terrible result, but not great! I have cooked more often however, and I have been a little more creative in terms of ingredients. I will admit I haven’t tried any completely new recipes yet.

Last but by no means least, my third New Year’s Resolution was to speak to my friends and family more often, and I’m pleased to say that I have found some success there. 2020 was such a strange year and it was frustrating not to be able to see the people that I loved whenever I wanted.

Thank goodness for technology! I now have weekly or fortnightly calls with most of those I love, and ad hoc calls with others. It’s not perfect, and I can’t wait for us to all have the vaccine, but until then, I’m doing okay.

What about you? Are you finding New Year’s Resolutions hard to keep? Did you make any this year? Tell me in the comments below!

It’s (almost!) my birthday!

Happy birthday (almost!) to me! Yup, that’s right – in a few days, I’ll be hitting the big 3-0.

I’m almost thirty! And to be honest, I couldn’t be happier about it. My twenties have been fun, don’t get me wrong – two degrees, three jobs, and one rather fantastic husband have all been gained during this decade – but there comes a point when you realise being 19 and being 29 are very different places.

Yes, I’m still more likely to wear a Pooh Bear jumper than a cashmere sweater, but I am not the woman I was ten years ago, and that’s a good thing! Ten years ago, I was still dreaming about being a writer. Now, I have over 40 books out and just a few weeks ago, I hit the USA Today Bestsellers List with my wonderful Dragonblade Publishing friends!

My twenties have been a decade to remember. I’ve achieved so much, experienced so much – learned so much! – and I’m ready to take all of that into my thirties and write even more amazing stories for you.

Want to celebrate with me? You can buy one of my books as a little thank you present to me, or you can donate to a charity that’s close to me. Thank you for your amazing support, even if you’re not in the position to do either!

Does this mean Christmas is over?

SO: it’s Boxing Day, St Stephen’s Day, the day when leftovers are the only food in the house and you’re tired of charades. Does this mean Christmas is over? You’ve spent so long planning for it…is it all gone in 24 hours?

Not in the Murdoch household, at least! I love Christmas, and I don’t think it has to end just because the 25th December is over.

After all, there are twelve days of Christmas, and they end on January 5th! That means you can continue to enjoy Christmas music, watch those cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix (you are not the only one!), and even decide to have another Christmas dinner if you can stomach it!

Seriously though, for me, Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, and whether or not you are a Christian, it’s a wonderful time to value kindness, family, and gentleness.

None of that has to stop simply because the ‘day’ is over. Why not treat those as important and the centre of your days every day?

That’s certainly what I’ll be trying to do in 2021. See you there!

Hugs in the time of COVID

You know, I never thought I would think of a hug as a powerful thing, until this year.

I have always loved hugs. I am one of those people who is a ‘hugger’, even hugging people who I have just met – apologies if you are one of those people who hate that!

It is just my way. I like hugging people, feeling close to them, ensuring they know of my affection for them. But of course that has all changed now. In a world of COVID, when you are not supposed to be within a few metres of another person, you simply cannot hug those you want to.

I am fortunate to live with my wonderful husband so I am able to have hugs pretty much on command (sorry, dear!), but there are so many other people that I would like to hug, especially as we move into the winter months.

And of course, there are those who live alone and are finding this time so challenging. My heart goes out to you, and I hope my books and the other authors you love keep you company.

When we will can all go out into the world again, I am sure we will all be huggers for a little while!

What do you eat and drink while writing?

Whenever I was studying for my exams when I was young, I would always need to have chocolate chip cookies. For me, that’s what revision tastes like! I would use them for motivation; all I had to do was get through revising another few pages, and I would have a cookie.

As I’ve got older, I really haven’t changed that much! Some days I am completely in the zone, the Muse is with me, and I can’t imagine struggling to write another chapter – and another chapter – and another chapter…

But sometimes, writing is hard. Writing is hard! Every word seems to be a real challenge and although I know I need to write more, I struggle.

That’s when the cookies come in.

There’s nothing quite like incentives like cookies! I line them up and make sure I promise myself not to have one until I finish the chapter. All of a sudden, the chapter is written, and I’m stuffing a cookie into my face!

But that’s what works for me. What works for you? What food or drink do you use to motivate yourself – or do you use something else?

Think bluestockings are a thing of the past?

My latest release in my Never the Bride series, Always the Bluestocking, has Mariah Wynn as my heroine – a bluestocking who is desperate for education and furious that society forbids her from university.

I loved writing this book. Mariah is probably one of my heroines who is most like me, and so I had a great time being angry on her behalf – or was it that she was angry on my behalf?

Because I am angry. Although I was able to go to university for an undergraduate degree and even my masters, there are women and girls all over the world who are denied that right.

Bluestockings are not a thing of the past. There are millions of girls in countries in almost every continent who are not allowed to go to school, whether because they are needed at home, because they need to work, or because education isn’t seen as valuable for girls.

I’d really encourage you to look at Unicef’s website about girls’ education, which you can find here: https://www.unicef.org/education/girls-education

I look forward to the day when every girl can get a good education! In the meantime, I’m going to keep supporting Unicef and writing books that have strong, powerful, and amazing women.

I have Patreon!

One of the hardest things about being a writer is that you have to do much of it alone.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have some amazing author friends. They encourage me support me, and laugh with me when things go terribly wrong! But most of them live hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from me.

I also have my amazing readers! They get to see a huge amount of me, by reading my books, but I don’t get to chat with them so much.

When you combine that with my dream to spend a bit more time writing, it totally makes sense to create a Patreon.

A Patreon is where people who want to support a person’s creativiity can commit to a certain amount of money a month, usually around $5-10, to encourage them and get cool rewards, bonus content, and behind the scenes.

Now I have one. You can check out my Patreon and see what sort of awesome benefits you can get by supporting me. Of course, you don’t have to, you can always get my books from Amazon.

But if you’d like to see a little more of me, and know you’re supporting me writing more books, then check it out!

What makes the best writing room?

As many of you who are subscribed to my newsletter know, I moved just before the pandemic and that means that I’ve only just got my writing room into the order that I wanted!

I recently shared – for the first time – a sneak peek into the place that I write my bestselling historical romances, on the Dragonblade Publishing Readers Group. You can watch the video by clicking here.

So what makes the perfect writing room? Here at eh three things that I need to be able to write:

  1. Natural light! Without natural light, I find it impossible to concentrate for more than twenty minutes – which makes writing in the winter really challenging! I’ve got a lovely window right by my desk.
  2. Inspiration! I have a bunch of things in my study that inspire me. From my five bookcases full of my favourite books (though not all the books in my house!), I also have flowers, photos of my family and friends, an antique dagger, and a glass skull called Leonard…
  3. Snacks! Okay, perhaps not a difficult thing to get set up, but when I am finding a chapter really challenging to write, then I use food and delicious drinks to motivate myself.

So that’s my perfect study! Have I missed soemthing off your list?

Do you know the secret language of flowers?

What is your favourite flower?

I have loads of favourites. My grandparents were horticulturalists with their own nursery, with my Mum working for them, and so I was surrounded by flowers and plants growing up. I love them. I love nature!

(I wish I was better at keeping them alive, but…)

But my love of flowers isn’t limited to my childhood. My boyfriend (now husband!) immediately understood my obsession with flowers, and has treated me with flowers throughout our dating life, engagement, and marriage.

In fact, one of my favourite flowers is the purple/blue orchid, the first flowers he ever treated me with.

Flowers have been used in courting for years, and the Victorian era solidified our ideas of the language of flowers, which existed as early as the Regency period.

This secret code was designed to make sure that other people couldn’t immediately tell what you wanted to say to your beloved.

So did you know what a gentleman caller would be saying to you if they sent you…

…a mimosa? This delicate plant meant ‘chastity’, because of the way its petals close up when touched.

…a dark pink rose? This gorgeous blossom means ‘thankfullness’.

…a sprig of heath lavender? I love this scent, and when given as a gift, it means ‘admiration’.

…an orange lily? Run a mile if you receive this one – it secretly means ‘hatred’!

…a sweet pea posy? My absolute favourite flower, this heavily scented flower means ‘blissful pleasure’ or ‘goodbye’!

Did any of these surprise you? What is your favourite flower – let me know in the comments, and I will tell you what it means!