The contest this month is about gratitude, but not only because this is the month of the US Thanksgiving celebration. I’ve been thinking about gratitude a lot. I have so much to be thankful for:


* Wonderful readers—I have no delusions! There are so many choices out there for fantastic books, and to know that so many readers have picked up one of my books, read it, and loved it (and often read more) is a tremendous blessing in my life.


* A supportive family—I’ve been blessed with a family, including my awesome sister and loving daughter, who understand the long hours of writing and marketing, the frustrating blocks, the endless loops of nerves and “I don’t think I know what I’m doing’s.” 😝


* Fantastic characters—They’re deep, emotional, difficult, and always riveting to me. I couldn’t create meaningful books with characters that were anything less. I’m thankful these characters choose to reveal themselves to me (or, in some cases, that they choose not to reveal themselves and I have to get angry on their asses, LOL!). They make work worth it every day.


So I know I’ve asked you to share the people you’re thankful for in this month’s contest, but today, I want you to share what you’re thankful for. What else has been a blessing in your life?

Come visit me on my Facebook page and tell me what you're thankful for!

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How do I find that balance?

In all honesty, I think that’s a never-ending journey. Every time a rock shifts, we have to realign. Every time something settles, we have to readjust. In this new stage of life, I’m still finding my way. I know I’m doing something right, though, because I’m writing. And I’m finding joy. Those are the best indicators of balance for me.

How about you? How do you find balance? How do you know when you’ve succeeded?


It’s an easy word to say. Not so hard to live.

A lot of the parts of my life are out of balance right now. Getting my oldest settled in college. My youngest getting his driver’s license—oy! Reorganizing my work so I have more time to focus on writing. Things falling by the wayside, and new things cropping up to stuff themselves in their place. If I’ve learned anything in over four decades of life, it’s that the chaos never stops, but my body and emotions need balance.





Field Trip: Dismals Canyon

Earlier this month my family took a trip together, something we don't get to do often with teenagers working and my husband and I so busy. We visited a place here in Alabama called Dismals Canyon. The canyon is a "pristine wilderness" you can read more about here. I've truly never seen anything this beautiful in the US.

The area is wooded, with massive sandstone chunks lying haphazardly around the canyon. One of the images below shows my husband next to an outer wall of the gorge, giving you the scale of what we were looking at. Dismals Branch, a crystal-clear creek, runs through the entire canyon with its beautiful sand-and-rock bottom. The waterfall at the entrance to Dismals Canyon is thunderous and, yes, the water is icy cold! (You can see my daughter and niece trying it out -- many squeals were heard, let me tell ya!)

At night the canyon walls reveal the reason for their name: a species of glow worms known as Dismalites that light up in the darkness. I've included an image here from the canyon's website, showing the Dismalites. It was impossible to photograph, but you can imagine the wonder of walking along the trails and realizing you'd been there just a few hours earlier and not realized such fascinating creatures were there with you until it became dark.

The entire area is peaceful, a great place for my family to reconnect and share in the wonder of nature. Have you ever visited someplace like this, a natural wonder that made you catch your breath?

Funny Friday: Parents...Oy!

Today is my son's birthday -- YAY!!!! In honor of the thirteen years I've spent parenting him ( :D ), I thought I'd share some seriously spectacular parenting fails when it comes to technology. I love the Autocorrect fails posts, but here's one on Buzzfeed directly related to parents. It's funny stuff like this: enhanced-10306-1400786609-5

There's tons more funny stuff where this came from. And don't stop halfway -- the last entry is...jeez...hilarious.Kinda reminds me of my grandmother... :)

26 Reasons Why Parents Shouldn't Be Allowed to Have Phones

by Dave Stopera


~ Ella


Presidents Day

ella sheridan, president's day Yes, today is Presidents Day here in the US. And yes, that means Hubby is home from work today. And yes, that means he's distracting me terribly, which is why there isn't a "real" post up today. ;) Not unless you want me to wax on about how distracting hubbies can be, but then he'd only interrupt and distract me some more and I'd never finish, so... You get the idea! I hope you and yours have a great Monday!

~ Ella


Games, Games, Games!

ella sheridan, romance, author, games, stress, funAfter a long week, my family decided to visit some friends Saturday night for a bit of board game fun. We don't play often -- it's one of those things that we have to convince ourselves to do, but once we get a game out and begin, we really enjoy. (Go figure.) Saturday, though, we found ourselves playing one of our very favorite board games: Settlers of Catan. We played this game for the first time last year, never having heard of it before. Apparently the game is well-known for intricacies and adaptability, but we just think it's fun. :) The premise is basically the settling of a fictional land called Catan. Players earn various resources and use those resources to build and explore and establish an empire in a new land. Players barter with each other and scheme their way to riches until one of them earns enough points to be the winner.

ella sheridan, romance, author, games, stress, funWhy is this so much fun? Honestly, I don't know. :) I am not a good schemer, but I think for me it's the "making order out of chaos" aspect of the game that's appealing. My kids love the bartering and manipulating their resources to make new things. We also have the Seafarers edition (an expansion of the original Settlers), which allows players to create shipping empires and discover new opportunities and even gold mines on convenient Catan islands. I've even heard of the game described as a sort of pioneer version of "Monopoly," and I think there are aspects of that too. The player with the most "money" (resources) wins. But there's just something primitively satisfying about making something out of nothing -- oh, and beating your opponents! That's satisfying too. :)

So, what's your favorite board game? Do you and your family have a favorite pastime that helps relieve the stress of a busy/difficult week? Let me know what it is -- I'm always looking for fun new things to try!

Have a great week! :)

~ Ella

The Best Christmas Tree Ever

I'm addicted -- to a tree. I admit it. About three years ago, my family and I went to the local Christmas tree farm like we do every year. It became a family tradition when we moved back to the Deep South from Houston, Texas. We go every year on a cold afternoon, cut a tree, stop at Starbucks for cocoa, and come home to decorate. It's an occasion my kids anticipate every year, and I have to admit, I do too. Anywho.

ella sheridan, christmas treeAbout three years ago, we noticed a row of trees near the ones we were inspecting for possible chopping. We had passed over every fir we found, none of the cypress's would do, and yet we needed a tree. And there, just across the way, was the oddest tree we'd ever seen. It wasn't exactly green, more like a greenish gray. The needles weren't straight, more twisted and densely packed. And when you brushed against it -- the most intense cinnamon-evergreen scent that's ever met my nose. It was beautiful. I had to have one!

ella sheridan, christmas treeOur mystery tree is an Arizona Cypress, so they tell me. I don't care. I just know it "makes" Christmas for me. The scent, the beauty. Last year, when I was struggling with shoulder pain (and ended up with surgery days before Christmas), the tree even looked beautiful with no ornaments. We stuck clumps of velvety red poinsettias and these lime-green sparkly twigs in strategic places and called it good. And the tree was still a beauty.

So, this year I'm sitting in my living room watching the white lights twinkle on my awesome tree, smelling the fresh scent filling the house, and enjoying the anticipation of the season. Now if only we had some snow...


UPDATE! We got the ornaments on! Isn't she pretty?

ella sheridan, christmas tree

Funny Friday: For the Rocket Scientist

My husband is a rocket scientist. No joke. He has advanced science degrees that boggle my mind. But then he can't recite every correct use of the comma, so I decided not to let him intimidate me. :) But when I saw this meme, I knew I had to have it. It made me laugh; hopefully my rocket scientist will laugh and so will you! ella sheridan, funny friday, science meme, reading meme

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year since my kids were little, we have watched every Charlie Brown movie for the winter holidays. We love the Great Pumpkin and that spindly little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but we also watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. A little less popular, maybe, but it's what makes the season for us. So, in the spirit of Charlie Brown, happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving, ella sheridan, charlie brown thanksgiving

That Special Feeling

ella sheridan, sonI sit beside my son in church most Sundays. He's twelve and a half, going through the kinda tough late-middle-school years right now, and I've been consciously paying more attention to him lately. Not that I neglected him before. It's just that he's definitely his father's son, all into video games and math and very much a loner. He's a great kid. I just kind of felt like he was interested in things other than his mom. And then he hit the preteen years.

Suddenly he's popping out the weirdest, off-the-wall, out-of-the-blue comments while we're driving in the car. Starting conversations. Putting in his two cents worth when I talk to my daughter, who thrives on deep, intense conversations about life-changing topics. He's talking. For a male in our family, that's odd. And endearing.

He's talking to me, not his dad.

I have this habit of sort of running my fingers through his hair, really just trying to brush it down since it's thick and has a tendency to stick up at the oddest angles. He always tolerates it, but just barely. I can tell he wishes I would stop. But now that my son isn't a baby anymore, I guess I kind of felt like it was a way for me to connect to him physically without making him uncomfortable. But I also figured he was outgrowing being touched by his mama (except for those hugs I won't let him get away from!), especially in public. And then, today, he gave me a great gift.

We were sitting next to each other, just the two of us in our church pew. He kept yawning, making this obnoxious little sound that probably wasn't as loud as I thought it was but somehow only managed to escape when things were completely quiet. :) I turned to look at him, my son with the freckles across his nose and the red tint to his blond hair and the height to look me in the eye, and without looking at me, he leaned over and his head touched my shoulder for the briefest moment. I closed my eyes, that special feeling of "Oh, my baby!" washing over me, and leaned my cheek against his hair. The moment lasted no more than a few seconds, seconds filled with the scent of the Axe shampoo he uses and the lightest weight of his head against my shoulder and that special feeling flooding me, and then it was over. He sat back up, and the sermon went on.

It was perfect. It was amazing. It was special, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.


Don't Forget To Have a Life

ella sheridan, life, erotic romance, romance writer, author, life, live life"The two most important things in publishing: No. 1, finish the book; No. 2, live your life." ~ Jasinda Wilder, "The Naked Truth About Publishing"

I can't begin to describe how hard this sentence hit me when I read it. See, for the past year, I've struggled to have a life, much less live it. I work seven days a week. I have two kids and a husband who works sixty-hour weeks. I don't have enough money for someone to clean my house for me or cook for me or do my laundry. I have health issues that require constant maintenance I can't always give. So yeah, having a life has been a wee bit of a struggle lately.

I'm determined to stop that.

I want to have a life. I want to enjoy it. I want to be able to think about diving into a new book and not dread it. Why? Because I love writing, and I hate burnout. I refuse to give up the former, and refuse to give in to the latter. So I'm taking drastic steps to make this life more enjoyable. What are they? Well, I'll probably be talking about that some over the next few months, but really, it's all about finding what works for you, just like with anything else. First, I made a list of the priorities in my life:

Writing, Family and Rest Time, Health, and Work

Notice how far down on that list work is? Guess where I was acting like it was on that list? Yep, number one. And money is important, but it ain't seven-days-a-week, hair-falling-out-I'm-so-stressed important. It's not. So I'm relegating work to where it should be, and elevating the things that are more important. We'll see how it goes. I have no doubt I'll slip every once in a while and fall back into old habits, but something has to give. We all deserve a life, one we enjoy, not one we dread. So, on this oh so dreary, rainy Monday, go forth, and HAVE A LIFE! I know I will.


Oh, and for those of you wondering about the Gift Card Drawing, I'll announce the winner this evening, so be sure to check back!


*Photo by Chris Campbell.

Those Who Walk Beside You

My first published book comes out on Tuesday. Dirty Little Secret will release from Loose Id, and it's one of the most exciting moments of my career as an author, one of those "firsts" I'll remember for the rest of my life. And it wouldn't have happened without the people who walk beside me in this writing life.

ella sheridan, Dani wade, writing, authors, romance writing, erotic romance, author support, critique partner

I've been blessed to have one very important influence in my life as an author beside me since the moment I was conceived. My twin sister, Dani Wade, didn't look at me funny when I spent some of our teenage years writing stories. She went to college with me, almost all the same classes even, earning identical degrees in English Literature. She has loved me and allowed me to lean on her when life got in the way and I was trying to find myself, to grow and discover who I really was -- heck, when I was just trying to keep my head above water sometimes! And when I followed her on this path to writing and sent her my first novel, she didn't poo-poo the idea or put down my skill or jump down my throat about crowding into what had been "her" area of expertise for so long.

ella sheridan, dani wade, writer, author, romance writer, erotic romance, author support, critique partnerShe encouraged me. She taught me. She still serves as guide and mentor and critique partner and plotting partner and accountability partner and so much more. I would not be where I am today without her. When I think of my best friend, it has always been her, and I can't thank her enough for all she has meant in my life. I love you, sis! You have given me so much; I can't express how much you mean to me.

ella sheridan, gina maxwell, gina l. maxwell, erotic romance, romance writers, author, writer, author support, critique partner

I was also blessed a couple of years ago (God, has it really been that long?) to meet an amazing writer who has been a source of encouragement to me on a leg of this journey that has involved a lot of rejection, frustration, and confusion. Gina L. Maxwell came into my life when I sent her an e-mail out of the blue one day in response to an old ad for a critique partner she'd posted online. I didn't even know if she'd answer me, but she did, and we struck up a friendship. We've only managed to meet twice in "real" life, but I have learned a lot from this friend. She is something I definitely am not -- outgoing, lol! She connects with people, with readers in a way I don't know if I ever can (she has a gift, let me tell ya!). I admire the way the most beautiful writing just flows from her fingertips, the just-right turn of phrase, the totally HOT alpha males she can create. But most of all I admire how genuine she is. She's all out there, and gives of herself generously to readers and friends alike. She's the one who read Dirty Little Secret and said, "I love this book! But girlfriend...that ending? Uh, no, it's gotta go!" :) So it did. This book would not have sold without her honesty and her encouragement. Thanks, girlie! I'm grateful we were born at a time when becoming friends didn't rely on living close together, because I wouldn't want my life to lack your spark. ;)

ella sheridan, family, author support

Writing is a journey. It doesn't happen overnight, and (hopefully) it doesn't end with the publishing of a single book. To be an author, you have to be in it for the long haul, and I am. But as much as I have the drive to do what I love, my family doesn't love writing! They have their own loves, but guess what? They get dragged along behind my job, just like all our families have to deal with the peculiarities of our jobs. But they have stepped up to support me in every way they can. My two kids ask about how my books are going, do their best not to interrupt when I'm on a deadline, step up to help out when I'm in a crunch and need extra hands to get everything done. My husband is...amazing. I know many authors whose husbands do not support their writing, who get jealous of the time this work takes despite the fact that those same husbands get to do the jobs they want to do. My husband has a demanding job, but he doesn't begrudge me the pursuit of my dream. He doesn't complain that my work makes me as busy as him at times. He doesn't give me a hard time when I disappear for hours with my computer and my characters and leave him holding the responsibility for the household. We work together to make our family all it can be, and he gives my work the same respect I give his. I could not ask for more when it comes to a life mate. I am truly blessed with my children and my husband. They "get" me in a way many writers are not gifted with in their family. Thank you so much, guys. Thank you for enduring the fast-food dinners, the distraction when I'm off in my own world, the stress when I'm trying to meet a deadline. I love you all more than I can say. I can only pray I support your dreams as much as you have supported mine.

On Tuesday, when Dirty Little Secret is released, it will have my name on the cover. The words inside will be mine (well, along with suggestions from my editor -- thanks, Rory!). But in reality, it wasn't just me that wrote this book. It was me, and all the people who walk beside me, every day, every step. They'll walk beside me during this special moment and hopefully many more. They say it takes a village to raise a child; maybe it takes a village to raise and support an author as well. I know I'm very thankful for mine.


My daughter's fourteenth birthday was on Mother's Day. It's so hard to believe my mother and daughter, hands, walking together, Ella Sheridan, Mother's Day, daughter, mother, motherhood, writerbaby is not just a teen, but will be driving a car (with supervision) in a year. Every birthday it's harder to let go that little bit and let her become more and more independent. But I do it, and she does, and she amazes me with every step. Sometimes at night I go into her room and she's left her bedside lamp on as she went to sleep. I'll reach to turn it off, and before I do, I look over at my little girl. Such a blessing, and such a curse. A blessing because she is everything I could've wanted in a child, just as her brother is. And a curse because I never realized how much it would tear my heart out to let go. Most days I'm fine with her getting older and knowing she'll be taking on life with her usual roar, but some days I wonder how I'll ever stop worrying about her when she's not with me all the time. She's a warrior, a nurturer, an amazing human being, but she's also my little one, and sometimes I already miss her.

Note that this isn't true when she's whining about chores! c;

On Mother's Day my husband and kids gave me a beautiful card (among other things). The card basically said God knew what He was doing when He chose me to be the wife and mother in this little family we have. That He knew just who would fit with whom, and when He put the four of us together, it was just right. The card was right, but not just about me--about them too. He chose them so that they would fit me just right, and what a blessing it has been that He gave me a daughter so wonderful, so full of life, that I couldn't help but love her.

She is more than just a daughter; she's my miracle.

*Photo by StephanieandMelanie

Guest Blog Alert!

Ruby Slippered Sisters, guest blog, Golden Heart finalist, GH finalist, Dani Wade, Ella Sheridan, writing, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romanceI'm over at the Ruby Slippered Sisters today with my twin, Dani Wade, talking about our writing journeys, how we're alike, and how we're different. Check it out! RSS Welcomes GH Finalist Ella Sheridan...And Her Sister

The Need for Connection

phone, connection, communication, readers, ella sheridan, romance, romantic suspense, fiction, erotic romance, family, heart, books I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hate being bothered. I know, I know, it sounds awful, selfish, self-centered. I love to talk, to know people actually care whether or not I exist, and as someone who is fortunate enough to work from home, I often find myself feeling as if I’ve fallen off the face of the earth and no one really noticed. But still…I hate to be bothered.

When my husband bought me my first (and only) smartphone, I was ecstatic to be able to receive e-mail wherever I was instead of waiting, sometimes hours, to access my account from home and see who needed what (especially important since e-mail is how I receive my day job projects). Then I discovered texting—instant gratification! But the more I used these convenient features, the more I realized people expected me to be available twenty-four/seven. And though I enjoy being in touch with people, I also realized I didn’t like being in touch that much. :)

The other night, while cooking dinner, my teenager was receiving text after text from a friend on her flip phone (and yes, she complains constantly that she doesn’t have something more sophisticated). She was getting more and more frustrated, and I finally asked her what the problem was. She said she hated it that her friends expected her to be instantly available. WOW! We actually agree on something! Which is really odd, because she is a social butterfly, and I am most definitely a homebody.

It seems sometimes that, the more we are connected, the lonelier we are. We expect everyone to be available at the touch of a button, but what we communicate often lacks depth, dimension. A true connection comes not necessarily from quantity but from quality. To feel like others remember I exist, I don’t need a hundred messages about nothing. I need one message that touches my heart. And while my daughter loves multiple messages, if none of them touch her heart, her need for connection isn’t met either.

I hope in some small way I am able to bring that touch of heart to my books. I can books, love, ellasheridan, romance, romantic suspense, fiction, erotic romance, pages, heart, connection, communicationread a hundred books that skim the surface of human emotion and, though they might be fun, I don’t really feel satisfied. But it only takes one book that delves the depths of passion, hunger, pain, joy, and I feel as if my heart has been touched and my need for connection is filled, at least until the next book comes along. ;) That’s the book I want to write. That’s the book I want to give you—a book that is more than fluff; a book that feeds the need for connection.

*Photos by moyan_brenn and katerha.