Setting Goals by author Ashley Ladd

Setting Goals

By Ashley Ladd

I’m a disabled Air Force vet and the VA takes very good care of me. Recently, my VA doctor decided I should lose weight and get healthier, so much so he enrolled me in the VA’s MOVE weight loss and physical activity program. To help they gave me a scale and a pedometer to help me to achieve my goals.

Additionally, every evening about 7:05 pm as I’m watching the Big Bang Theory the VA’s computer calls me to give me a tinny-sounding mini lesson and pep talk, to ask me questions about my goals and progress, and to check my weight for the day. Being Thursday, the computer asked me if I met my weight loss and physical activity goals for this week and if I want a call from my care coordinator.

Sadly, I didn’t meet my goals for this week. My appetite (or was it depression? That’s another guest blog post) got the better of me and I focused on things other than physical activity. Now I have to refocus and rededicate myself to my weight loss program. I really do want to fit into a size 7 dress again, preferably before the end of the year.

We writers set goals all the time in our careers too—page count, editing, how many books we plan to submit a year, guest blogging, blog touring, guest appearances… I do it all the time.

Perhaps I set too lofty of goals at writing two thousand words every weekday and double that on weekend days. For awhile I was meeting if not exceeding my goals and I wrote five stories in about seven months.

Lately, however, I’ve been writing guest blogs and setting up blog tours instead of adding word count to my work in progress. In fact, this post is even a couple days tardy. Thus like my weight loss goals my writing goals proverbially jumped out the window. Obviously, I have to get back on track for MOVE and writing.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy (at least not easy for me) but necessary to redefine short term goals in order to meet long term goals. It’s simple to say we will stick to our goals but not so easy to follow through. There’s a little thing called life. For instance tomorrow is my youngest daughter’s birthday and we’re going to Universal Studios in Orlando for a couple days. Then Monday, my “vacation” is over and I must return to the day job.

So what is my long term writing goal? My goal for the end of 2014 is to finish my work in progress “Gaycation”. My one year goal is to finish at least two additional sixty thousand word stories before 2016. My life goal is to write (and have published) at least one hundred romance stories. Oh! And I mustn’t forget my goal of getting back into a size 7.

In my current release “Spooky Sojourn” new hotel manager Deanna Thompson has the goal of finding out who is sabotaging her hotel and making it look haunted. She wants to rid the hotel of the “ghosts” she doesn’t believe in. When someone tries to kill her, her goal morphs. Now her number one priority is to survive and find the would-be murderer.

Life presents us with many goals. What are yours?


spookysojourn_800Publisher: Totally Bound

Genre: Contemporary Erotic male-female contemporary paranormal romance


Someone’s trying to kill Deanna, but is it the ghosts she doesn’t believe in, the rich socialite who might be a murderess, or someone else with a beef against The Gilroy Hotel and Resort that Deanna has just been hired to manage?  The Gilroy’s owners want the ghosts, or whoever is causing the trouble at the hotel eliminated, and they are pressuring Deanna to do the job as quickly as possible. Harry DeVeaux, paranormal investigator comes highly recommended to do the job and against Deanna’s better judgment, she hires him.

Although Deanna thinks Harry’s crazy for believing in ghosts and Harry thinks Deanna has a closed mind to the possibilities of ghosts and they highly annoy each other, sparks fly. Deanna can’t help but fantasize about Harry and inspired by a romance convention visiting her hotel, writes her fantasies in a private blog that Harry finds, hacks, and reads. Ooh la la! 


Drawing in a long, shuddering breath, he looked heavenwards and crossed his fingers behind his back hoping she wouldn’t throw something at him, hoping she’d be okay with his admission. “I found your blog and read it.”

Paling, the blood fled from her flesh and her eyes looked like sooty coals against her face. Her gaze clashed with his and held. “How did you find it? I used a pseudonym and I put it on privacy settings.”

He screwed up his lips, and scrubbed his hand over his face, preparing to tell more painful truths. “I’m a bit of a hacker and I like to research the people I’m working with.” Not sure she’d be receptive to his theory, he left out the part that he thought the ghosts led him to her sight. He thought they were closet romantics. He wouldn’t be surprised if they’d locked them into the room now to force them into some alone time together.

When a tsunami of emotions flitted across her face he tried to read them. Fury. Embarrassment. Lust?

“You investigated me? You read my private musings?”

“You wrote about me? In some very intimate ways. At least I presume it was me since you used my name.” He fixed her with a piercing gaze. “Did you?”

A pregnant pause rent the air as she veiled her eyes from his view. Finally, she smoothed her skirt against her legs and admitted, “Yes. I have very mixed feelings about you. You make me crazy the way we argue, the way you believe in ghosts, and yet I find myself thinking about you, fantasizing about you.”

Taking heart in the last part even if he wasn’t sure he liked the first, he said with a lopsided grin, “You fantasize about me much?”

As if she suddenly got bold, she sidled up to him with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes and ran the tip of her finger down his chest. “Aren’t my blogs proof? The question is, do you fantasize about me?”


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Ashley Ladd bioAuthor Bio:

Ashley Ladd is a disabled Air Force vet that is hard of hearing but still loves language, especially the written word. She loves a sexy man, especially one with a military background and they’ll often pop up in her stories. She also loves cats and has been known to empower a cat with the gift of speech. Unfortunately he wouldn’t shut up. 🙂 She loves to plug into Pandora and sip Diet Coke while writing, usually with a cat or kid at her side.


How you can contact Ashley:




Living Vicariously by Ashley Ladd

Living Vicariously

by Ashley Ladd

I wanted to be an FBI agent, investigate crime, catch the bad guys, and make them pay for their misdeeds.

So I joined the Air Force. I earned my MBA. I’ve always been a good shot. And then I applied to the FBI in Miami to be an agent.

Unfortunately, I have a hearing disability from the time I was in the Air Force thus my application was turned down. For the record, my hearing wasn’t nearly as bad as it is now when I applied.

I was very disappointed and I still longed for action and adventure. I still wanted to be a kick-ass heroine in a Marvel movie.

Since I couldn’t wear a badge in real life, I started writing and creating kick-ass heroines in several of my books and living vicariously through them.

In my current release ‘Her Men’, Julie is an ex-FBI agent who is now a small-town sheriff. She’s living the life I wanted. She’s me in another universe.

In one of my former stories, ‘Purrfect Justice’, Haley tried to join the police force like her father and brothers but was turned down because of a physical disability. Not fully deterred, she works as a secretary in the police station and listens to the police scanner during her free time. When she hears that the police officer that she loves is in trouble, she takes it upon herself to save him—and it becomes a habit.

How I would love to be Julie or Haley. When I write about them, I become them, if only for a short time. I get to live through them. The same happens when I read about other endearing heroines that other authors create. I suppose that’s why we readers love to devour so many awesome books.


Title: Her Men

Publisher: Totally Bound

Genre: Contemporary Erotic male-female-male romance

Buy link:

Forty-four year old Julie Weston has loved Timmy and James since her college days twenty something years ago. She’s fantasized about both all these long years, never able to choose between them.

Hoping Tim and James will attend, she attends their college marching band reunion. When both men show up her dreams are answered. They’re sexier than she imagined and she hopes they won’t be disappointed by her older self.

It turns out both men came just to see her again and neither is happy about the other’s presence. They fight over her, confusing her more than ever. It takes a hot ménage…or two…for her heart to decide which one she’s in love with.



“I’m so hungry—for you.” Tim twisted her hair in his fingers and pressed his lips to her forehead. “And I’m so hot, if you know what I mean.”

“Me too.” She was glad for her buzz, for the courage it provided. She longed to kiss him, wondered why he hadn’t kissed her yet.

“Let’s ditch dinner and…”

A shadow fell between them and James grabbed her away from Tim. “I’m breaking in. You’ve monopolized her all night.”

“But you don’t dance. You don’t like disco,” she blurted, surprised but thrilled.

“I do now. If it’s the only way I get my turn to see you, I’ll dance all night. I’m tired of waiting for you at the table.” James tugged her into his arms, ignoring Tim’s deathly glare.

“One dance, then I’m coming back.” Tim stalked away and grabbed a drink, which he downed in one gulp.

James’ warmth replaced Tim’s.

“Thank you.” She wiggled beside James hoping she could make him as hot as she’d made Tim.

“For rescuing you from Tim? You didn’t look as though you wanted rescuing.” James held her close but his nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed to mere slits.

“Not for tonight. For all those years ago you told him off for abandoning me. I wish I’d known. I also wish I’d done this.” Before she could lose her nerve, she pressed her lips to his.

He pulled back and gazed into her eyes, suspicion in his. “Are you drunk?”

Hurt and embarrassed she held up one finger. “I only had one drink. And I kissed you because I’ve wanted to do so for many years and I don’t want to let you go again without you knowing that, without knowing what it feels like.”

A low growl rumbled from James. Desire lit his eyes. Purpose firmed his lips. Without another word, he lowered his head and kissed her deeply, thoroughly.

He tasted so good, like steak and Cabernet and she couldn’t get enough. Her legs rubbery, about to give out on her, she clung to him. Her heart seemed to swell to triple its normal size. James’ was robust and passionate and full of pent-up longing.

“You wanted to kiss me too, all those years ago,” she muttered, touching his lips. It wasn’t a question. He tasted too good, was too mesmerizing to move away from.

“Yes.” The answer was long, drawn out and breathy. Full of emotion.

“Why didn’t we?”

Ashley Ladd bioAuthor Bio:

Ashley Ladd is a disabled Air Force vet that is hard of hearing but still loves language, especially the written word. She loves a sexy man, especially one with a military background and they’ll often pop up in her stories. She also loves cats and has been known to empower a cat with the gift of speech. Unfortunately he wouldn’t shut up. 🙂 She loves to plug into Pandora and sip Diet Coke while writing, usually with a cat or kid at her side.


How you can contact Ashley:

Ashley Ladd Amazon Author Page

Rayne Hall’s 10 Tricks for Writing Great Fight Scenes


Writing Craft:




by Rayne Hall


1. Choose an unusual location – the quirkiest place that’s plausible in your plot: a cow shed, a castle ruin, a catacomb. Involve the setting in the action: the fighters may slip on the muddy slope, leap across the fence, slam their opponent against the wall.


2. To create a fast pace, use short paragraphs, short sentences, short words. These convey the breathlessness and speed of the action. Instead of  >Looking at his face, she could see that he was thinking, and concluding that it was his intention to strike her, she decided to move to prevent the blow from from landing.< write >She  read his intent and blocked the blow.<


3. Make sure the fighters use only fight skills they actually have. A  Victorian damsel isn’t likely to throw uppercuts and roundhouse kicks. Establish beforehand what kind of skills the fighter has.


4. Stay in the PoV. Show only what the fighter sees  in that moment: his opponent’s face, his opponent’s hands, his opponent’s weapon. He can’t afford to look elsewhere, because if he takes his attention off the fight for even a second, he’s dead.


5. Sounds create excitement, so mention noises. Mention especially the sounds of weapons – the clanking of swords, the pinging of bullets – or the thudding of of flesh on flesh and the cracks of breaking bone.


6. If your fighters talk while fighting, use very short, incomplete sentences, to convey the breathlessness and to keep it real.


7. Fighting hurts. There have to be injuries and pain. Although the adrenaline may dull the pain during the action, the pain will kick in once the fight is over.  Depending on the type of novel you’re writing, you can emphasize the violence with realistic injuries and gore, or play it down by giving your hero just a few bruises and minor flesh wound – but there has to be something.


8. Use weapons which really exist. When writing historical fiction, make sure the weapon was available in this period. Also make sure that the weapon of your choice can really be used the way your protagonist uses it: not every sword can cleave a skull, not every gun can stop a running fugitive. If you invent a weapon, model it closely on existing genuine weapons. Most of the fancy zig-zag shaped swords invented by writers wouldn’t work in reality.


9. Before the fight begins, write a paragraph (or more) building suspense for the fight. Use all the suspense-building techniques you know. This paragraph can also serve to describe the terrain and convey other important information.


10. When the fight is over, write a paragraph (or more) describing the aftermath:  The pain hits. The survivors take stock of the situation, mourn their dead comrades, bandage their wounds, repair their weapons. If you’re aiming for great realism, you can describe the corpses – brains spilling from split skulls, intestines hanging out of abdomens, flies circling and crawling. You can also describe smells – after a fight, there’s often a terrible stink, because fighters lost control of their bladders and, in death, of their bowels. There may also be a smell from the weapons used, e.g. gunpowder smoke.


RayneHall - Fantasy Horror Author - Portrait by FawnheartRayne Hall
Fantasy & Horror Fiction
Dark * Dangerous * Disturbing

Rayne Hall has published more than fifty books in several languages under several pen names with several publishers in several genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction.  She is the author of the bestselling Writer’s Craft series and editor of the Ten Tales anthologies.

Having lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has now settled in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England where she enjoys reading, gardening and long walks along the seashore. She shares her home with a black cat adopted from the cat sanctuary. His name is Sulu and he’s the perfect cat for a writer – except when he claims ownership of her keyboard.

You can follow here on Facebook  and Twitter she posts advice for writers, funny cartoons and cute pictures of her cat.