Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Demon Kitty Rag

Yeah, March was the usual stressful all-over-the-place type of month. It wasn’t all bad, though.

1)  Max’s health continues to improve.
2) I published Tequila Blues early and most readers seemed to think it was the best of the Serrated Brotherhood MC series.
3)  Started writing Rich S.O.B. and Right Amount of Wrong.
4)  Got my yard work done before the bugs revolted.
5) Signed up for what should be a fun MC/Mafia-themed event in 2018 that Shyla will also attend.
6) Umm… I made a lot of lists… ٩(●̮̮̃•̃)۶

In March, Jack started playing Call of Duty with Luca and me. He’s gotten the hang of it quickly, meaning I’ll soon lose to both boys.

Plus, we tried out a better variety of movies along with binge-watching several TV shows. Stranger Things was really interesting since so much of the show pays homage to movies I grew up with. I suspect Jack missed much of the show’s flavor, but he enjoyed the horror and action.

We’re now alternating between watching Twin Peaks (which I’ve seen before) and Breaking Bad (which I haven't).

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to watch more S. Korean movies. My favorite two lately are Train to Busan (a zombie flick) and I Saw the Devil (a revenge thriller).

The first made me cry which has never happened during a zombie movie before. S. Korean filmmakers aren’t afraid to write likable characters. In US horror circles, the trend seems to be to make everyone so hateful the audience will enjoy watching them die. Eli Roth is big on this tactic, but I have no interest in spending 90 minutes with “heroes” I loath.

I Saw the Devil stuck with me for days. It’s difficult to explain why the movie transcends the hundreds of other revenge flicks. If I had to guess, it’s that S. Korean filmmakers are willing to embrace emotion (even to the point of feeling schmaltzy to a US audience) while American filmmakers are more bare bones. Perhaps, S. Korean audiences aren’t as cynical as their western counterparts. Whatever the reason, I am enjoying this resolution.

Besides TV and movies, I’ve gotten hooked watching a few YouTube series like Best of the Worst by Red Letter Media and Boots to ReBoots by Stitched Together Pics.

In work news, I’m currently writing two standalone romances. One involves brand new characters and the other follows the son of a couple from the Damaged series. The latter will work on its own, which is how I’d like to write books for the some of the kids of past characters. My goal is to stay away from a long series where every kid finds their HEA.

This "one and done" plan will allow me to give long time readers a little treat while also allowing the story to stand alone.

Well that’s an update on what I’ve been doing the last few months. I hope your spring is full of blooms and blessings..ஐ.ஐ.ஐ

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love Is Alright Tonite

Oh, how many big plans I had for 2017. So far, though, I’m rehashing the best and worst of 2016.

On Wed, I published Whiskey Blues, which is the sequel to a book I published back in June. Talk about not keeping these babies rolling. I really hoped to dip into the barrel of standalone books I have waiting in my head, but I still need to write one more book related to a series. Then I’ll finally grab the fresh start I hoped for this year.

Even my hair is back to its golden age. I’d gone darker and shorter at the end of 2016. I considered sticking with my natural color and embracing the gray I’ve had since I was nineteen. Except my gray decided to grow on only half my head while leaving the other side dark brown.

As fun as the Cruella de Vil look is, I felt it might put our dog on edge. So I’m back to blonde as my hair grows out to the long pixie I had in early autumn. 

In a momentary step back, I stumbled upon another author using bigoted comments. Like with Parker and the MC author, this one is peachy keen with using terms meant to mock the disabled. You know, as long as the terms are directed at non-disabled people who ACT like disabled people. Yeah, their logic remains mind-boggling.

I admit I let her comment upset me. Initially anyway. After all, I was casually scrolling through my FB feed, liking comments and pictures plus sharing book posts. Then, BAM! Who’d think a grown woman with children and a successful writing career would be so unable to grasp the power of words.

Even when one of her readers mentioned how the term she used was an attack on the disabled, she only laughed it off (much like Parker did). Rather than using the excuse of saying the term was in the dictionary, she refused to believe it even meant what every definition online says it means. She redefined the term, and everyone needed to follow her lead.

I remembered the techniques I used last year to prepare for the Dallas signing. Rather than staying upset, I stopped following her and put her on a list of authors not to use for Hump Day Giveaways.

Otherwise, I refused to stress it. She likes the term and won’t stop using it. My job is to ignore what I find offensive rather than expect the world to censor itself. So after a momentary step back into tender ass territory, I got my shit together and controlled my mood to prevent the assholes from upsetting me.

So even the “bad” stuff this year wasn’t totally bad. I’m enjoying Tequila Blues. I dig my blonde pixie. And I have one less author filling up my FB feed, which allows me to see the other friends and pages I follow. Viewing the world as a glass half full prevents depression from slowing me down!

I hope everyone’s glasses are spilling over with blessings. Until next time, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

It Doesn't Have to Be That Way

Let’s jump right into my New Year’s resolutions for 2017!

1) Get diverse! Though I’m proud of my nine releases in 2016, I need to increase the variety. I plan on fewer upcoming series, leaving my schedule open for a wider range of writing.

2) Don’t forget the lesser pen names! Dakota’s books don’t pay the bills, but the series needs to be finished. I also want to redo the old Angela books and republish them one day. To do that, I need to remember Bijou isn’t the only voice in my head desperate to be heard.

3) Get in better shape! I’m too old to pretend I’ll run a marathon or lose a ton of weight or whatever grand dream I might have latched onto when I was younger. Yet I’d like to get healthier and the only exercise I enjoy is walking. So I bought a treadmill for New Year’s! My favorite activities involve watching TV or reading while a fan blows on me. Yep, I’ve found the perfect exercise which means I don’t really have any excuses this year.

4) Stop letting assholes annoy me! People are different. Some of them choose to be assholes or perhaps they’re assholes on accident. Either way, they’ll never change their loser ways. So I can either get riled up about them pissing me off or I can ignore their antics and choose to be happy. It’s up to me to be smarter about how I use my time.

5) Watch more Korean cinema! Last year, I watched more foreign flicks and discovered the thriving Korean market. Their horror movies and thrillers haven’t disappointed, and I’d like to remember to add at least one new film a month to my movie nights with Jack.

I consider my resolutions reasonable, meaning I might actually accomplish them all. I hope everyone else achieves their goals in 2017 too!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Name Is

Since this is the last post of 2016, I’ll make it quick since I feel like the ones lately have been rather repetitive.

Yippee for 2016!

1) Junkyard Dog was my the best selling book of my career without a promo or .99 intro price. 

2) I finished the year with my first “Best Seller Tag” for reaching #1 in a category (two actually).

 3) My income increased by 20 thousand over last year.

4) I finally focused on expanding my mailing list, leading to over 2000 more signups.

5) I met Carina in N. Carolina and plan to visit her in the Chicago area next year. She inspired me to write even when I was in a funk.

6) My kids were healthy overall and Pooh settled into his group home.

7) I remained tight with Aimie and Shyla who proved to be good friends and immensely helpful with author problems.

8) I faced my hatred of the R-word, encountered people I’d rather have avoided, and toughened against hardships.

9) I was able to get Sally’s books signed by one of her favorite authors, Cecy Robson.

10) I published 9 times, which is three more than in 2015 and two more than my average.

Boos of 2016!

1) My writing magic pooped out during the second half of the year, and I only published three times.

2) I didn’t publish a Dakota book.

3) I totally spaced on setting up promos for most of the year.

4) I lost a good friend.

5) I let people upset me even though I don't care about them or their opinions, meaning I really should have known better.

6) Pooh took a huge step back at the end of the year, reverting to many of his dangerous behaviors such as SIB and refusing solid foods. Hospitalized twice since Thanksgiving, he is only now leveling out.

7) Roo hit the terrible teens, throwing more than a few tantrums on the trip to Dallas.

8) My laptop Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock went kaput on me after only two years. She’s been replaced by Lilou, but I’ll miss my ’17 inch beauty.

9) My hormones made me lazier than a lump, and I’m super out of shape… even for me.

10) I got bad about emailing people and keeping in touch.

Well that’s 2016 in a list-based nutshell. I’ll probably babble a few New Year’s resolutions soon.

Until then, Happy New Year!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Tea with Cinnamon

Though November and Thanksgiving are already a memory, I wanted to write a final thankful post. This one about my family.

This year was very transitional for us. Much like in 2015, we adjusted to living separately from Pooh. For most of last year, we remained in a waiting pattern while Pooh lived at a residential facility while his group home was prepped.

After his move just before Christmas, we settled into our new reality. I was fortunate enough to receive counseling in 2015 to help me adjust to Pooh living somewhere else. An amazing therapist named Kim helped me come to terms with his aggressive behaviors and the change in his appearance after so much self-harm.

This year, I continued using the skills Kim taught me such as writing in my journal. I also encouraged Roo to keep a notebook to chart his moods and thoughts.

Pooh will likely never be the way he was before getting sick. Everyone changes during puberty, but his transformation was clearly more drastic and dire.

With his days more structured, Pooh has bonded well with his staff. As a mother, I'll always feel strange about my child turning to someone else for comfort and care. Though I'll always see him as my little guy, our lives will never truly align again.

In 2016, I've accepted what can't be changed and embraced the blessings in our lives. Even as a positive person, I struggled to find light during the last few dark years. Now as my family heals, I can only admire how fortunate I truly am.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


In this week's November thankful post, I want to write about facing my fears and desensitizing myself.

These days, safe places and trigger warning are all the rage in mental health. Back in my day of Donahue and Oprah, we were taught to face what upsets or traumatizes us. By facing the fear, we took away its power.

Now I’ve never been a milquetoast unable to confront a jerk or deal with an insult thrown my direction. Yet I’ve been extremely sensitive about a slur hurled at my two sons with autism.

The first time I heard someone call Tigger the R-word was when a speech therapist “diagnosed” him with autism. She said the word so effortlessly and did it right in front of him too. That was in the mid-90’s when autism wasn’t often discussed and the R-word was still bantered around nonchalantly.

From idiot teachers to nasty bullies, the word followed my boys through life. By 2013, I assumed society was clued into how the R-word was as vile a slur as the N-word or F-word. No doubt I was naive.

During my BBA blogging days, I ran into a number of toxic people. Their behavior was simply eye roll inducing until they began using the R-word. 

When BBA like Parker, Middleton, Haldeman, and others casually threw around the R-word, I was shocked they found the slur acceptable. After all, I couldn’t imagine any of them using the N-word or F-word with such zeal. However, they saw no issue with calling people the R-word.

How could they be okay with using a slur? Was this how they were raised? I know many older people still throw around the R-word. While none of the women seemed old enough to be from that generation, perhaps they learned to use the slur from their family. Or maybe they were so sheltered in life that they didn’t see how painful the word might be to someone disabled.

That was a lonely time for me. Several of my “friends” soon decided to defend their friends who’d also used the R-word. Basically, our side couldn’t admit to having a few bad apples. Thus, our allies’ bad behavior must be excused away while, of course, the BBA’s identical behavior was to be loathed. When I chose not to excuse the allies’ behavior, I was labeled a bitch for not being cool with the R-word when the “right” people used it. The R-word is in the dictionary after all!

How could I argue against such thinking? The answer is I couldn’t.

So what does that have to do this year? Well, I was set to attend a signing in Dallas with an author I’d seen using the R-word on a mutual friend’s FB feed. Big deal, right? I attended a signing with Parker who used the R-word on her blog, FB, and GR without an ounce of guilt. If I could share a signing with her, what was the big deal about this chick?

Well, as I wrote earlier in the year, the author in Dallas writes in the same sub-genre as I do. We were bound to meet and I couldn’t ignore her like I did Parker. I had to engage professionally with this author, yet I despised her for using that word (among other vile things she enjoys sharing with the world).

I knew no matter what I said to anyone who used the R-word, they wouldn’t change their behavior. Shaming them doesn’t work. Guilting them doesn’t work. Reasoning with them certainly doesn’t work.

Since people like them will never stop using the R-word, I decided I was the one who needed to change.

Desensitizing my heart to the word meant reading screenshots of the BBA repeatedly using it. Once I’d done that enough, I searched for other people using the word. I found plenty of examples on Twitter and Facebook. The fact is people throw that word around constantly.

Facing their ugliness on a regular basis, I hardened against the deep resentment I felt when I heard the R-word or some variant. By the Dallas signing, I didn’t avoid the writer. I looked her in the eye and made friendly chit chat without giving away my lack of respect for her. She went about her life still happy to use the R-word and I went about mine with a tougher heart.

Sometimes the world isn’t fair or kind. Changing someone else is a futile goal, but we have the power to strengthen ourselves to the cruelties around us. I haven’t stopped hating the R-word, but I’ve accepted how many people enjoy the word and always will. Giving them the power to upset me was a mistake. Toughening up is a better path and one I embraced this year.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Silent All These Years

My first November thankful post (assuming I remember to do more this month) is about my writing career.
Last month, I attended the Carolina Book Fest in Charlotte. The signing was divine! The hotel was great. The venue was huge and so well air-conditioned. One of my “fangirls” decided to fly into Charlotte from the Chicago area to be my assistant.
If I was busy with another reader or author, Carina set up sales at my table. If I ran out of swag, she helped restock the table. Carina kept me focused and in a great mood. She even brought battery-operated fans because I once said I sweat like crazy at signings. The chick was dynamite, and what a great personality! After the signing, we ate at one of the hotel restaurants where I talked her ear off. I can’t wait until we hook up again in the future.
I was also able to talk with another fangirl named Melinda. She’d come to see me in 2015. This time, she brought her sister who was as cool as her. I wish we could have hung out a bit more. The next time I travel to Charlotte, I plan to arrive earlier, so I can take Melinda to dinner.
The signing once again showed me how blessed I am. Melinda and Carina have supported me since the beginning of my Bijou writing career. They’ve read all of my books from the darker ones like Gator to the funnier ones like Junkyard Dog. They followed me through my journey as a writer as I honed my skills and voice.
In addition, there was the moment at the signing when I was speaking to a traditionally published author my mother loves. She signed Sally’s paperbacks and was so sweet. I was surprised when she explained how close she got to giving up on writing. She stressed for me to never give up.
She's right, of course. No matter how anxious I get about deadlines or burned out from writing so fast, I remind myself how I have my dream job. Writing is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, and now it’s a reality.
In 2016, I enjoyed my best sales while writing books I once worried wouldn’t be appreciated. Back in 2014, I wondered if I could write anything other than the Damaged series. I'd tried a few darker books like Gator and Used. I’d written a short “happy” romance for a box set.
However, I’d never fully embraced my sarcastic Lala side in one of my Bijou books. With Junkyard Dog, I let loose and unleashed my inner snark. The book added a new layer to my Bijou brand and allowed me to push my writing beyond what I’d done before.
As with many things this year, the Carolina Book Fest gave me a jolt of enthusiasm and confidence for my career.

Hopefully, I’ll be back next week with another post about why I’m thankful in 2016. If not, just assume writing Train Wreck has made me flakier than usual.