Sunday, November 26, 2017

Island in the Sun

I haven’t written in months, but what better time than Thanksgiving weekend to post an update. Since my last blog in July, I published a few books—Rich S.O.B. and Rusty Cage as Bijou, Black & Blue as my new Ily Jacks m/m pen name, and a dark romance under a third pen name.

I’ve enjoyed writing outside my comfort zone with the kidnapping theme and then the gay romance. I’m planning to start 2018 with my second Ily book plus I’m working on a romance series with Aimie Grey. It’s the first time I’ve ever co-written with anyone, and I’m nervous.

Next month’s release will mark my 44th since 2012, and I have a system when it comes to writing. Sometimes, that system explodes into a dumpster fire, and I have to edit like a mad woman to salvage the plot. Still I know how to fix my crap and adding a second person to the mix terrifies me.

So Aimie and I plan to write several short gay romances with a city meets country theme. I’m very curious at how things turn out creatively between us.

As for writing more dark romance, I’m not certain how soon I want to jump into that mindset again. I think I might rather dip my toe into paranormal romance. I have an alien concept for a PNR series that could be fun.

Unfortunately, I didn’t attend any signings this year. I had to cancel Arch, Glass City, and Rebels & Readers. While bummed to miss out on the signings, I did have more time to write and hit a few deadlines.

Shyla and I continue to meet monthly to talk shop. She’s also varied up her releases this year to prevent her writing from becoming stale. As many authors reach their fifth year in indie publishing, we’re looking for ways to keep our writing fresh.

A great blessing this year was how Jack and I grew much closer. In 2017, he gave Call of Duty a try. Now we play free for all every night. Whenever I’m tense, shooting bots makes my problems temporarily go away.

Jack has also been open to watching a lot of more obscure and/or classic horror movies. We binged directors like David Cronenberg (Shivers, The Brood, Rabid) and John Carpenter (Prince of Darkness, They Live, In the Mouth of Madness). He even endured a silly, childhood favorite of mine—The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

Luca doesn’t like horror movies and he’s more into PC games than Xbox. Though he’s fully in his sarcastic, moody teenage phase, I still manage to get him to mellow out when we have our weekly mom/son outings. At fourteen, he still has many more sullen years ahead of him.

There’s no denying Max had a tough year. All winter, he struggled to recover from his health disaster last Nov. Just as he settled down during spring, there was a major upheaval with the staff working at his house. Max didn’t handle it well but (thankfully) it didn't go as badly as we feared. Fortunately by autumn, he turned a corner and began eating three meals at day and taking walks again. This is the first Thanksgiving in four years that I haven't been stressed out about Max.

2017 sure had its ups and downs. People were stressed about politics and authors worried about a flooded market. Social media was full of drama and complaining, so I stayed off it as much as I could. Often times, I thinned my friend list on FB and followers on Twitter to avoid the festering anger common this year. As such, I kept calm and remained focused.

I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving. My fingers are crossed that I remember to post before the end of the year with a few New Year’s resolutions.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

She Hates Me

Happy July 4th to my fellow Americans. I’m spending the holiday writing and making a huge batch of chicken casserole. Oh, and playing Call of Duty with the boys.

Since my last post, I published Right Amount of Wrong and finished up writing Rich S.O.B. for my Bijou pen name. The latter proved tricky because the hero was very different than my normal alpha guys. I took awhile to get his voice just right, but I’m hoping readers enjoy him. Even if they don’t connect with Asher, I had a blast writing him.

Now that Rich S.O.B. is in the feedback stage, I'm plotting new projects. During my author lunches with Shyla, we talk about how to keep from getting burned out on writing (which remains the best job ever!) and variety seems to be the key. 

So I'm working on four main projects, which makes me sound super productive. I’m not, though. I don’t know how many of the four will ever be published. One will for sure since it’s my next Bijou book.

The other three are for new pen names. I’m working on my first dark romance. I guess Gator could be considered dark, but Jake was an anti-hero. The “hero” of the new book is a villain and the story feels more like a thriller than a romance. I’m unsure if I’ll finish it since I can’t even read abduction romances without ending up depressed.

On the other hand, Miranda once suggested my writing felt emotionally muted because I’d gotten used to repressing my feelings during the tough times with Max. It makes sense that I’d lean toward happier, comedic romances for a while, but I think it’s time to safely unleash some of my darker feelings by writing ugly stories. I've even been listening to old rock songs to inspire my inner-bitch to come out in the book.

It’ll be interesting to see if I finish the book. Assuming I do, I have a pen name set up for the dark stuff since my Bijou readers would not appreciate one-clicking something so different than my usual books.

That’s why I redid Lost Highway under a new pen name I'm using for my paranormal books. Along with redoing my old Angela books (eventually), I’m plotting a paranormal romance series with aliens. I have the basic plot organized but paranormal books need a lot of world building especially if I’m setting up a series. It’s still very early in the process, so I’m unsure if I’ll publish the PNR this year.

Finally, I’m writing a few short clean romances since I sometimes don’t want to write sex scenes. They’re Bijou-esque without the sex and cussing. Since many Bijou readers expect boot-knocking in my books, I’ll likely publish under a pen name.

It seems like a lot of work to create new pen names (and it is) but I have a plan to hopefully cut down on the workload of managing so many. Besides, some could end up being like Jorja or Dakota where I rarely use them. So I don’t see a future where I’m rocking more than one pen name at a signing like a couple of chicks I know.

This year, I still have two events scheduled. I had to pull out of a third because it conflicted with RL. I might end up pulling out of the other two too (waiting to see what happens with family health issues), but fingers crossed that I can attend them.

I’ve wanted to attend the Rebels & Readers signing for a few years, but I never got the invite. Hangs head low for being unworthy. I got lucky this year and will head to W.V. in Nov if family issues allow. Next year, the organizers are planning for a smaller venue and fewer authors, meaning I likely won’t get the nod. I mean, I know I’m awesome (wink, wink), but organizers need to bring in the most popular authors to draw the most readers.

For the next month, I’ll stay close to home (and where it’s air conditioned). Then Luca will start school and I’ll plan for signings and finally the holidays will take up much of my time.

For July, though, I can chill and enjoy my many blessings. I hope everyone is able to do the same!

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.