Being True To Yourself as a Romance Writer

I just recently read a blog that made me reevaluate my writing or at least the way I look at it. Writing from a place of fear versus from a place of love by Chuck Wendig really hit a nerve with me. Like most writers I thrive on self-doubt and am never sure whether I’m writing the right thing; the thing that readers want, what the readers will devour and beg for more, ultimately the one thing that will sell my books.

I have been tempted to write what seems to sell. As a romance writer I am plenty aware of what romance readers in general are reading, the things that make them tick. But as much as I have wanted to write those books, I couldn’t. They were not me. So cue in another wave of self-loathing; why can’t I be more like others, why am I so weird and different from everybody else? Enter days and days of agonizing over a manuscript; is my publisher going to want it? Will it sell? Will reviewers even be interested in reviewing it?writing

I was recently at a book signing event and decided to attend one of the panels they were offering. As quickly as I went in, I turned around and left, not so much horrified and depressed by what was being discussed but by the fact that if that was what the readers wanted, I would never be able to give it to them. No judgement on the authors of such books but they are not me. I can’t write kinky stuff, just can’t. I love writing about everyday Joes who take great pleasure in making love to their mates in simple ways, men and women who don’t need the aid of tools or pain (or the suggestion of such) to reach an orgasm, couples who won’t allow a third wheel in their sexual life and don’t need to be dominated, women who are not sex goddesses who may in fact even be a little shy about it… in short, people who are so in love with each other that they don’t need anything else to turn them on, keep them on, and reach that apex of pleasure most of us look for.

The reverse of the medal is what it’s usually called clean or sweet romance where sex is either only implied or not mentioned at all. I can’t write these either because I enjoy reading about the characters being intimate and loving, their physical reaction to the love they have for each other. So I like to write spicy scenes. My kind of spice, the kind I keep thinking is not what today’s romance reader want.

Making love

And so the cycle of self-doubt goes on, possibly to never stop. But for now I will stick to what feels right to me at the risk of never selling enough books to keep me fed. I will keep writing from a place of love.

Have you ever been tempted or have in fact written from a place of fear? How did it make you feel?

National Pet Day Book Sale

April 11th is National Pet Day! Come celebrate with us!  Pets of all shapes and sizes enrich our lives and bring us joy.  Some of our favorite authors have included beloved pets as characters in their books.  After all, pets bring people together! If you enjoy stories that feature furbabies, fish and pets of a more unusual variety, have we got a sale for you! For a limited time, only on our website, the ebooks featured below are on SALE, at a discount of up to 75%.  Grab one – or more than one – of these today and discover your next amazing read!

And while it’s our party, we’d love to gift YOU with your choice of ONE of the books included in our Pet Day Celebration Sale.  Sign up for our newsletter to enter! Share the giveaway via the blog post for another entry!

We’ll choose four winners, one paperback book each.  Open Internationally. Follow this link to enter the GIVEAWAY:

AFTER THE SCRUM by Dahlia Donovan

Sherlock is one of those pets who is larger than life. He has more personality than some of his human counterparts. Sherlock is a service dog that recognizes impending anxiety attacks in his beloved human and quickly attempts to comfort or distract.Scrum

AT WAR WITH A BROKEN HEART by Dahlia Donovan

The pets of At War With A Broken Heart are some of my favourites in all my stories. We have Rabbit, who’s a fox, and Fox, who’s a rabbit. Still with me? I love the not-fox and the not-rabbit. And lastly, Haggard, a loyal and intelligent service dog, who lives for his human. Haggard was trained specifically to help a retired military veteran dealing with survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress. A blue merle Australian Shepherd. Beautiful, clever, and funny. He’s the perfect companion.

Broken heart

THE TRAIL TO YOU by Lindsay Detwiler

My mastiff, Henry, appears in all of my novels simply because I love him. I’ve always wanted to write a book, however, in which he is a more integral part of the story. In The Trail to You, Henry is a main character; several of the chapters even follow his journey. When his owner, Ronan, returns from a deployment to find his best friend Henry missing, he will set out on an epic journey to get him back. Ronan doesn’t expect that Henry will lead him to the path he was always meant to find, however. Even though my real-life Henry has never been in this situation, there are many true-to-life traits of the character in the book. For example, my real Henry is obsessed with cupcakes and would love Cupcakes of the Abyss as featured in the book. This story celebrates the magic that happens when a human and dog bond, a magic I’ve come to know firsthand with Henry in my life.

Dog

 

THEN COMES LOVE by Lindsay Detwiler

I used to say I was an aspiring crazy cat lady, but now that we have five cats, I think I’m definitely there. Charlotte Noel in my chick lit series Then Comes Love shares my love for cats. When she moves into the nursing home and her daughter is forced to adopt her five cats, chaos ensues. One of the scenes in the book where the cat is stolen by a neighbor is based on a real-life event with my own cat; a neighbor of ours ended up snatching our cat by mistake, and after looking for her for months, I happened to see her in their window.

Love

OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX by Genevive Chamblee

Hockey captain, Christophe Fontenot, is tall, blond, and sexy with a “massive” personality larger than the area he pulverizes his opponents. It stands to reason that this stacked with muscles hunk’s furry companion would be his four-legged match. Claire, a slobbering but lovable Bullmastiff, is a rags-to-riches canine sort of speak. Nearly starved and beaten to death as a pup, Claire was rescued by Christophe. With nothing in his heart to give other than love, Christophe spoiled her rotten with gourmet treats, hugs, and special-order plush toys. Now, Claire’s pastime consists of sunbathing by the pool and chasing Allie, Christophe’s pet gator. Yeah, it’s like that in bayou country. Read more about Claire in Out of the Penalty Box.

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BREAKING DOWN by Megan Lowe

In Breaking Down Buttons comes along at just the right time for Jax. In her he sees a lot of himself and identifies with her. At a difficult time for the youngest Ryan, she becomes the family he feels he has lost. The relationship between Jax and Buttons is pure love, of two “abandoned” souls coming together to form a family. I think it proves that pets are as much a part of a family unit as any person can be.

Breaking down

BLUE, Dragon Runner Book 3 by ML Nystrom

Toto and Sam were my son’s childhood dogs. My son had turned four years old when Toto joined our family. She had such a variety of DNA, I have no clue of what breeds she had in her. Her version of a doggie hug included walking up to you, pressing the top of her head into your chest, and staying there until you petted her. She was just short of sixteen when she passed. Sam came into our lives with a sadder story. A rescue group found him in a box abandoned in a parking lot. By some miracle, he was still alive and won the doggie lottery by coming to live with my son and me. Sam was a boxer/pit bull mix and the biggest cuddle bug ever. Toto helped Sam tremendously on how to be a family dog. They would play hard in the backyard, eat together, and sleep curled up next to each other. Very often all four of us would crowd in my bed. They took up more than their fair share, and I learned to sleep on a tiny piece of the edge during those times.

Blue

TIME FOR LOVE, Timeless Love Book #2 by Laura N. Andrews

Thor is loved by his two daddies, Nicholas and Caleb. A German shepherd cross husky, Thor’s light blue eyes can sparkle with mischief and shine with intelligence. He’s both cheeky and smart and loves to have his dads chase him around and dote on him. His favourite things in life are sleeping in their bed and running and swimming at the beach.

TRue

OCEANS AWAY by Skye McNeil

In Oceans Away, Gideon Taggart has two Australian Shepherds, Diesel and Dallas. As an owner of a blue merle Aussie and lover of the cute wiggle of the breed, I had to incorporate a little of that into this story. Diesel and Dallas are quite the pair. They help Gideon around the farm with chores of chasing anything that moves. Both dogs also get into trouble when it comes to the woman in Gideon’s life: Ireland Leighton. I won’t give too much away, but I will say that slobber is involved with these cuties. Since Ireland and Gideon live on farms, animals are abundant, and pets are equally as involved in their day to day routine. If you’re an animal lover, Oceans Away is sure to bring a smile to your face and a desire to hug your furry best friend.

 

Oceans

HEARTS ABROAD by Skye McNeil

In Hearts Abroad, Callum Archer has a basset hound named Sherlock. As you can probably guess, the dog is slobbery, lazy, and loving to all. Once a hunter, Sherlock now spends his days lounging in his favorite dog bed near Callum’s desk and chases squirrels every so often. He prefers leisurely walks around the mansion or playing with Callum’s two daughters to hunting these days. Sherlock isn’t the only fun pet in Hearts Abroad, though. Enter Oreo, a black and white tuxedo kitty who also happens to love chicken lo mein and crawling wherever he desires. While Oreo belongs to Londyn Bellerose’s roommate, the chubby cat tends to walk all over Londyn and even hide in her luggage. He’s the epitome of a curious cat who just wants you to sit down long enough to pet him. Both Sherlock and Oreo bring the characters in Hearts Abroad to life. Plus, a little fur makes a story warm in all the right places. Check out Hearts Abroad to learn more about Sherlock, Oreo, and the humans who make the story come to life.

Hearts

FINDING MARNIE by MV Ellis

They say dogs are man’s best friend, and in Finding Marnie Luke puts that theory to the test when he gifts his love Marnie a gorgeous female puppy who is in need of a home. Marnie is going through a rough patch in her life, and wanting to help, Luke thinks the new puppy will be both a distraction, and a source of uncomplicated and unconditional love–something Marnie’s in desperate in need of. It’s fair to say that her life hasn’t been easy–in fact, at various points, including when she was very young, it has been marred by hardship and tragedy. As she points out, it wasn’t the kind of upbringing where she had a pet, or anyone, to love her, or whom she could love in return. Luke’s hunch is right, and Marnie falls instantly in love with her new dependent. If only opening her heart and accepting her love for Luke could be so simple.

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THE JEWEL CHRONICLES – DESERT JEWEL & SNOW JEWEL by Natalina Reis

In the Jewel Chronicles series, Princess Milenda has a special kind of pet. His name is Mjusi and even though in Afrika they call him a forest lizard, he’s actually a young dragon. Mjusi’s relationship with Milenda is so much more than that of a pet and its owner. They’re best friends who grew up together and would do anything for each other. He might be green and iridescent—and at times cough up smoke—but he was Milenda’s only friend growing up and was always there for her through thick and thin. They found each other in loneliness and filled an empty space in each other’s hearts. Such is the power of a pet’s love.

 

 

 

The Jewel Chronicles

 

Hot Tree Publishing Pet Day Sale

 

February Grow Team Giveaway

Love reading & reviewing? Like finding new authors? Wanna join a review team/street team?

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We have romance authors of varying genres who would love to find new readers! Why join a team? (Or lots of teams?) There are so many perks…like FREE books, advanced notice of sales, giveaways, and new releases. Let’s not forget the swag and signed books so many authors give to their team as a reward for the support.

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Give it a try! Join some teams and be entered to win $50 in Amazon Gift Cards!

Participating Authors:
Amy B Wells | Anna Bloom | Anna Edwards | Ashlee Price | Darcy Delany | Eric Bolt | Gina Conkle | Grace Roberts | Heather Young-Nichols | Ja’Nese Dixon | K.L. Shandwick | Krissy V | Lilliana Rose | Lissa Lynn Thomas | Liz Gavin | Liza Street | M.C. Cerny | Monica Corwin | Natalina Reis | S.L. Sterling | Sissy Queen | Sydney Aaliyah Michelle | Tara L. Ames

Enter to win!

A New Year Begins…

With the approaching of a new year, we all begin making resolutions or at least dreaming about what might be.

Blank Notebook

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

― Brad Paisley

I love this quote not only because it pulls at my writer’s sensibilities, but also because it’s true. Obviously we are not always in control, and lots of what will happen may not be of our own doing. However, we can at least strive at doing the best we can.

Every year I have all these dreams of what I will accomplish or at least try. Like with most people, those things normally end up at least partially undone. As I get older though, I developed this sense of hurry, of urgency that was not there when I was younger. I’ve always been patient, willing to wait, never rushing. But for the past three or four years, I’ve had this need for speed. It’s almost as if, as my life draws near to the end, I realize I still have so much to do and possibly not enough time to do it. When you’re young, time just drags and old age is a very distant and abstract idea. When you get to my age, the end is suddenly very concrete. Most of the adults of your childhood are either dead or dying, your heroes, your idols, everything is dwindling down and you know that you’ll go sometime next.

Relaxed

I had always wanted to be a published writer. I had a knack for writing and did it constantly since very early on. My dream finally came true four years ago. Nine books later, I still find it hard to believe it actually happened. My next “dream” is to actually be mildly successful at it. It’s a very slow process and I get antsy. I don’t have a life in front of me to wait patiently for the world to discover my stories, I need it now. Talk about self-induced anxieties, lol.

Those of you who are in the last quarter or so of your life, getting ready to become silver foxes, do you feel this way too? This anxiety to accomplish a thousand things all at the same time and frustration of not having enough time for it? Or energy? It has gotten so bad for me, I avoid things I used to love (and still do) and that helped me relax so that I have time to finish that story, or work on that ad, or interact with my audience. It’s exhausting.

So for this new year I still want to accomplish all of that, but I also want to learn to relax, to allow myself those moments of blissful peace when there is nothing to do, no place to go.

What are your plans for the new year?

Sparkler

Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time for Chick Lit Chat HQ’s annual Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop and this year it’s bigger and better than ever! 63 bestselling and award-winning authors in the Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy genres are participating in this fun-filled event and each one is doing a fantastic giveaway. Books, author swag, gift cards, and other assorted holiday treats are all up for grabs.

But wait! There’s much, much more. On the hop’s Facebook group page, you can enter to win our Grand Prize—a large holiday gift box filled to the brim with a fabulous variety of holiday and winter-themed goodies (the darling, KitschNStyle gingerbread house apron, Snoozies! sherpa socks, Calvin Klein cashmere pom-pom beanie in petal pink, Too Faced sugar cookie eye shadow purse palette, Sally Snowflakes mug by Bella Pilar, Well Read Women: A Reader’s Journal, and handmade chocolate soaps shown in the graphic below are just a few of the items included in the box!).


We’ll also be handing out four Runner-Up Prizes. Each one is a pair of Fitz & Floyd holiday mugs that will be accompanied by a canister of Williams-Sonoma classic hot chocolate as well as a tin of The Republic of Tea’s Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Tea. So, you’ll have delicious, warm beverages to keep you cozy all winter long!

The celebration runs from Monday, Dec. 3rd through Sunday, Dec. 9th, so head on over to the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop Facebook group for some lively conversation with both authors and readers, incredible prizes, and lots of holiday fun! You’ll find each day’s featured authors, along with the links to their pages/giveaways, in the pinned post at the top of the group. We look forward to seeing you there!

*The Grand Prize giveaway is open to US residents only. However, all of the individual author giveaways and the Runner-Up Prize giveaway are open
internationally.

Schedule and list of authors and their stops on the Hop

Monday, Dec. 4th

Tracie Banister https://www.facebook.com/tracie.banister

Beth Carter https://www.facebook.com/authorbethcarter

Whitney Dineen https://www.facebook.com/Whitney-Dineen-11687019412/

Karin Gillespie https://www.facebook.com/karingillespieauthor/

Kate O’Keeffe https://www.facebook.com/kateokeeffeauthor/

Tuesday, Dec. 5th

Annabelle Costa https://www.facebook.com/Annabelle-Costa-894496980704700/

Susan Hatler https://www.facebook.com/authorsusanhatler/

Kate Kisset https://www.facebook.com/KateKisset/

Kirsty McManus https://www.facebook.com/kirstymcmanusauthor

Robyn Neeley https://www.facebook.com/RobynNeeleyAuthor/

Wednesday, Dec. 6th

Sylvia Ashby https://www.facebook.com/sylviaashbywriter/

Hannah Ellis https://www.facebook.com/novelisthannahellis

Cat Lavoie https://www.facebook.com/CatLavoieBooks

Becky Monson https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeckyMonson/

Jennifer Peel https://www.facebook.com/jenniferpeelauthor/

Thursday, Dec. 7th

Michele Brouder https://www.facebook.com/MicheleBrouder/

Melinda Curtis https://www.facebook.com/MelindaCurtisAuthor/

Liz Durano https://www.facebook.com/Lizduranobooks/

Diane Michaels https://www.facebook.com/dianemichaelsauthor/

Holly Tierney-Bedord https://www.facebook.com/HollyRecommends/

Friday, Dec. 8th

Hilary Grossman https://www.facebook.com/HilaryGrossmanAuthor/

Beth Labonte https://www.facebook.com/bethlabontebooks/

Nikki LeClair https://www.facebook.com/NikkiLeClairBooks/

Heidi Renee Mason https://www.facebook.com/HeidiReneeMason/

Susan Murphy https://www.facebook.com/susanmurphyauthor/

Natalina Reis https://www.facebook.com/authornatalinareis/

Saturday, Dec. 9th

Amy Avanzino https://www.facebook.com/AmyAvanzino/

Susannah Nix https://www.facebook.com/susannahnix

Cassandra O’Leary https://www.facebook.com/cassandraolearyauthor

Michelle Jo Quinn https://www.facebook.com/MichelleJoQuinnAuthor/

Nicole Waggoner https://www.facebook.com/NicoleWaggonerAuthorCircusofWomen/

Sunday, Dec. 10th

Mary Frame https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryFrame/

Sarah-Jane Fraser https://www.facebook.com/sjfraserauthor/

Amy Gettinger https://www.facebook.com/Amy-Gettinger-Author-1412625005719904/

Lizzie Lamb https://www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter/

Joslyn Westbrook https://www.facebook.com/JoslynWestbrookOfficial

Monday, Dec. 11th

Jayne Denker https://www.facebook.com/JayneDenkerAuthor/

Angie Ellington https://www.facebook.com/angienellingtonbooks

C.L. Ogilvie https://www.facebook.com/CLOgilvie/

Meredith Schorr https://www.facebook.com/MeredithSchorrAuthor/

Stacey Wiedower https://www.facebook.com/StaceyWiedower.author/

Tuesday, Dec. 12th

Glynis Astie https://www.facebook.com/glynisastieauthor

Renee Conoulty https://www.facebook.com/ReneeConoultyAuthor/

Jenny Gardiner https://www.facebook.com/jennygardinerbooks

Stacy Juba https://www.facebook.com/Stacy-Juba-100155471301/

Tracy Krimmer https://www.facebook.com/krimmerauthor/

Wednesday, Dec. 13th

Traci Andrighetti https://www.facebook.com/traciandrighettiauthor/

Kathryn Biel https://www.facebook.com/kathrynrbiel

Monique McDonell https://www.facebook.com/MoniqueMcDonellAuthor

Denise Stout https://www.facebook.com/DeniseStoutAuthor/

Melanie Summers https://www.facebook.com/MJSummersAuthorPage

Thursday, Dec. 14th

Anne John-Ligali https://www.facebook.com/annejohnligali/

Colette Kebell https://www.facebook.com/ColetteKebellAuthor/

Jennie Marts https://www.facebook.com/JennieMartsBooks/

Clodagh Murphy https://www.facebook.com/clodaghmurphyauthor

Tess Thompson https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessThompson/

Friday, Dec. 15th

Melissa Baldwin https://www.facebook.com/authormelissabaldwin/

Aimee Brown https://www.facebook.com/authoraimeebrown

Karen M. Cox https://www.facebook.com/karenmcox1932/

Lindsay Detwiler https://www.facebook.com/lindsayanndetwiler

Barbara Valentin https://www.facebook.com/Platespinner/

Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop 2017__ Ornaments

 

 

 

 

Ignoring the Impostor Syndrome

We all felt it one time or another, the insidious whisper inside our head that says, “You’re an impostor“. “How dare you stand among the great ones? What right do you have to be here? What makes you qualified to dish out advice?” You know the whispers–or sometimes loud screams in your mind.

Writers are particularly vulnerable to this. How many of us have been part of a book event where you have big names in your genre at a table five feet away from yours? It’s both exhilarating and depressing because on one hand you’re excited you’re breathing the same air as some of your literary idols while at the same time being depressed for feeling you don’t measure up to them.

Measuring up

Recently I was invited to co-present at a local, small writer’s conference. My first reaction was to say yes, but then that nagging feeling came whispering again–what can you possibly say about writing that others would think interesting or helpful? I said yes anyway because I’ve promised myself a long time ago I’d take on more challenges.

I had been part of panels before, but this was different; this was the two of us running an informative session about the writing business, From Spark to Finish (my co-presenter, talented YA author, PM Hernandez, came up with the catchy title). Between the two of us we have thirteen books published and we have both learned quite a lot in our journey through this business. And yet that doubt, that nettling feeling, was still gnawing at the back of my mind.

WBTR Fall Workshop5

Photo Credit: Jan Rayl

In the end it was a great experience. Turns out we both have quite a bit of helpful information to impart with beginning or aspiring authors, and this was the perfect venue to do so. Hernandez and I have different experiences and perspectives but because of that we were the perfect combination; she’s self-published, I’m a hybrid; she’s a semi-pantser, I’m an all-in pantser. I think I speak for both of us when I say, we had a blast as you can tell by this picture.

WBTR Fall Workshop4

PM Hernandez and me – Photo Credit: Jan Rayl

I’m sure that irksome voice will rise again, but for the moment I’m on Cloud 9, feeling accomplished and worthy. Moral of the story is we all need to ignore those whispers and take risks. When you hear that inner voice again, stick a cork in it and move on. You’ll be so glad you did it.

*Many thanks to Jan Rayl, Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, and Becks Sousa of Write by the Rails for organizing such a great event. And everyone who attended. It was a lot of fun.*

The Not-So Glamorous Life of a Writer

Yesterday I had my second signing at a Barnes & Noble here in Northern Virginia. I have been trying to get them to let me have one at a local branch but the district manager won’t return my emails. A writer friend was able to get three other branches in the area to hold multi-authors signings and I managed to snag two of those.

The first one was kind of a sleepy event. Not many people visiting the gigantic store but somehow we all managed to sell books and interact with many people. The second one was held in a wealthier part of Northern Virginia and the place was teeming with humans. The four of us got pretty excited. If we had a good turnout in a sleepy branch, here we should make a killing, so to speak.

Ashburn BN signing

Here’s how it really went:

  • Several kids came to ask for our candy.
  • Several people refused to accept free swag.
  • One very nice aspiring  author asked us for some guidance in the publishing world.
  • An older lady came and asked each of us if we used the F-word in our books (I use it very sparingly and only because it was pointed out to me that my characters are too proper, lol). Once she found out that pretty much all of us did in one way or another, she asked us why did you use such an offensive word. She didn’t buy anything.
  • When I offered them my FREE postcards, they almost always took the one advertising an event I’ll be participating in but which holds absolutely no information about me or my  books.
  • A very kind older man came to talk to us and had us all laughing with his jokes. He didn’t buy anything but thanked us for all the work we do (he used to  work for one of the Big Five)
  • Lots of people entered the raffle to win books from all of us, but most of them didn’t buy anything.
  • We heard a lot of, “I don’t read romance” (totally understandable. It’s not for everybody, of course).
  • People thought we were the information desk and came to ask us about items in the store.
  • We left the event with about $6 each for one book sold from each one of us.
  • I sold a M/M paranormal romance book to a lady who told me she didn’t read romance at all.

Moral of the story: don’t judge an event by how posh the neighborhood is. Buying power and romance doesn’t always jive, apparently.

Planning Chaos

As I enter the last stretch of the school year, I’m beginning to get pretty excited about all that free time I will have to do ALL the things I normally can’t do (because there are not enough hours in the day and unlike vampires, I need my beauty sleep). I know from experience though that if I don’t have an actual plan of action, I will end up spending my days fluttering from one activity to another, not accomplishing much and stressing myself out because for me there aren’t that many things worse than wasted time.

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So I sat down to plan my journey through summer and the first thing I realize is that I already have scheduled myself for quite a few events which will take a large portion of my time—four signings, two book releases, and Spring cleaning. But there is still a lot of time left—or so I tell myself.

I’m not a planner as you know. As organized as I am and for someone who loves order, I’m not very good at planning more than a few hours ahead of time. At work, as a teacher, I’m super-proficient in planning awesome lessonplans one or two weeks ahead of time. And I stick to those plans ninety-nine out of a hundred times. When I went back to school for my second degree I was amazing at organizing my time between taking care of two school age boys and the heavy course work.

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As I get older, and my life becomes more chaotic despite my best efforts to the contrary, I’m finding it a lot more difficult to stick to a plan. In fact, I’m finding it difficult to come up with a plan. But I promised myself I have to do it. I want to accomplish a lot this summer both in my writing career and my personal life (I really need to bring the self-care back into my life), and I know I need a solid plan for this.

My wonderful marketing adviser has given me one of her writer’s planning books but I find it too overwhelming (don’t laugh. I get overwhelmed easily these days), so I’ve been downloading simple free daily planning sheets to get myself organized. I’m hoping to give myself a time table of how long to take for each of the activities I need and want to complete which will have to include a good diet, exercise, mindfulness, and entertainment. I can’t keep killing myself as I’ve been doing for the past year basically working two full-time jobs. I need to take it easy.

I’d love to hear about different ways you get organized. Do you keep a schedule? Thirty minutes every morning dedicated to marketing, two hours daily for writing, one hour to network, etc.? Maybe your suggestions will light up a fire in this tired brain (and body) of mine.

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Romancing The Taxes

Tax season leaves me with an ambiguous feeling–I’m not sure whether to be happy I’ll be getting some money back this year or depressed because I spent so much more than what I earned even after working overtime for the past three years.

In 2017 I totally neglected to claim my writing expenses. Being a rookie with three books published by then and royalty checks that wouldn’t feed a fish, it never occurred to me that I could indeed claim all the expenses I had incurred in my writing career. In fact, come to think about it, neither did my husband who is normally on top of that kind of thing.  I didn’t claim the laptop I bought so I could write my novels, or the marketing materials, or the workshops and conferences I attended, or the writing craft and references books I collected that first year.

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It almost happened again this year. My husband, like many people, does not consider my writing a real job. The fact that I spend every waking hour when I’m not at my teaching job glued to a laptop, writing, editing, marketing, researching, networking, learning, etc did not seem to be a good enough hint this was more than just a hobby. The trips we took to conferences, book fairs, book signings, workshops also didn’t register as similar to all the work trips he does for his job. Like him, most people consider writing just something you do for fun. Without realizing it, I must have bought into this mentality because even the loss of my social life in favor of time with my writing didn’t register as “hell, this is a second  full-time job!”

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I cannot thank Neece McCoy, author herself and tax-expert extraordinaire with The Write Services (well, she knows a lot more than me) enough, for reminding me that this is indeed a job and that the huge amount of money I’ve invested in my writing business should be claimed come tax time.

Now that I’ve actually sat down and picked through receipts and bank statements to file my taxes, two things have surfaced. 1) I’m going to get some money back for the first time in years, and 2) Shit! There is such a chasm between my expenses and my income that it’s painfully obvious I have yet to experience being a mildly(ish) successful author.

 

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So, I’m divided between jumping for joy and crying my eyes out. I’ll keep working and hoping that one day I will be able to claim I’ve actually made a profit from the inordinate number of hours I’ve spent working on a craft that most still consider a hobby–while trying not to get too upset when readers complain that my book costs too much (less than a frapuccino at Starbucks).

A Writer’s Nightmare

As most of you know, I’m a traditionally published author (small, awesome publishing house). Being the weirdo that I normally am, I wrote a sci-fi/dystopian romance in 2016 told in three POVs and holding two separate romances–one F/M and another M/M, never once stopping to wonder how difficult it would be to market such a book (do you market it to the F/M romance readers, or the M/M?). The first sign that I was in trouble was when friends or beta readers began complaining about different things–too much romance (the sci-fi readers), too much sci-fi (the romance readers), main characters are too sexual, main characters are not sexual enough, it’s too intense, it’s not intense enough… I had one reader that actually tried to change the whole thing including the way I write and erase my voice. Holy shit!

After I submitted it to my publisher, I was told what I already suspected–that I either changed the manuscript radically, which meant breaking it into two separate romances, or they couldn’t publish it because of the potential marketing nightmare. At that point I had to totally agree with them. I had poured my heart and soul into this manuscript (which at times was emotionally very difficult to write) and I wasn’t willing to change it at that time. I was not being arrogant, just overwhelmed with it all. For me that story was one and I couldn’t imagine breaking it into two. It would be like leaving a part of myself behind.

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The manuscript had already gone through one round of professional edits, but after I had unsuccessfully tried to modified it to better fit the marketing woes, I knew it was back to a mess. So I hired my usual editor for another round of edits with the growing idea (which terrified me) of self-publishing it in the future. Unfortunately, my editor  broke the trust I had in him by doing an extremely superficial edit and taking off with my money. I may be trusting but I also know when I’ve been had.

I had a couple more people read it for content feedback and I was again disappointed that no one was willing to read my manuscript to the end. Beta readers were giving up after a couple chapters. It didn’t bode well. I almost gave up on the idea of publishing it. But in the end I couldn’t give up on my characters and the world I created. I felt I owed it to them to stay the course.

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I contacted a book cover designer I have admired for a few years and asked them to design my cover. I was delighted with the results. That cover is amazing (cover reveal to come in the near-ish future).

I changed a few things according to suggestions and critiques from others, tightened up the writing (I have a tendency to be wordy), and hired another editor to do a final round. After the edits were done, I went over it again twice, tightening it even more, paranoid as I am now that my writing truly sucks. I went over it once more after a friend of mine had formatted it for publication (and amazing friend that she is, she was willing to do it again after subsequent changes).

My book now has an ISBN and I have to choose a publication date in the next couple days. I’m already paralyzed by all I will have to do. Because I have a couple more books releasing this year, there is a very short window to publish this one so it doesn’t conflict with the others. Which means I have to do it within the next month or so.

Frightened and stressed young business woman

My nightmare is not over yet because after suffering so many setbacks and getting bad feedback for two years, I’m terrified of how the public is going to respond to it. I have now invested more money into this book than possibly all my other six together and, being my first self-pub, I’m sailing in uncharted waters from where I expect a monster to jump out at any moment.

Do you think I did the right thing sticking by my story or was I a total dunce and should have just scrapped it?