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Word of the Year

Last year I commissioned a small token with my word of intent stamped into it. This was from My Intent Project, and my word was Infuse. Essentially, I wanted to ensure that whatever project I was working on, I was infusing it with goodness and purpose. I wanted a word big enough to fit writing, parenting, editing, crafting, and basic living, something I could be mindful of in nearly everything I did.

IMG_1204.jpgI think I did okay with the work. I could’ve done better since some of the year I was infusing stress into everything. 😂

I bought medallions for myself, hubby, and my bestie last year with words we’d all talked about. There’s a huge chance I’ll be doing so again.

Last night as the New Year ticked closer, my bestie told me her word for 2018 is Release. It’s a great word for her as she will see her oldest leave home for college, let go of objects in her way, and work past those issues that stick to her like glue.

This morning I talked to hubby about his new word. His will be Focus. He means that more as a focus inward but also assessing situations so he can see what he controls and doesn’t control. He can’t leave work when it gets overwhelming, but he can go and buy a cup of coffee from his favorite place if he realizes he’s stressed.

We grew up in stoic German/Scandinavian Lutheran homes. Thinking about your own feelings didn’t matter unless they were out of control, so this will be a great word for him on his path toward self-improvement and happiness seeking.

I’m stuck on my word. As much as I’d like it to be Write or Keep Writing, all I can think of is that coming out as scolding, which would lead to pressure and possibly me refusing to write.

I want words to pour forth. I want words on the page. I want words already on the page so I can mess with them and make them better words.

Maybe Write Words? Perhaps I need two words for 2018.

I’m not one to do resolutions, at least not in the form of SMART goals. For those who don’t know: Specific, Measurable, Attainable or Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Timely.

pexels-photo-285173SMART goals are great for short-term things or changing bad habits into good ones, but I really love the Word of the Year for a general focus. It’s not zeroed in like it would be with a zoom lens or SMART goals. It’s fuzzy, more like bokeh. I know what it is, but I don’t need it to be crystal clear to envelop my world. In fact, I think it helps hold my focus on what’s important at that moment while enhancing everything around me.

Have you used words of intent before? Have you heard of the My Intent Project? If you were to pick a word for 2018, what would your word be?

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Good Riddence, 2017

From the title of this post, you can see I didn’t think too highly of 2017. Good things happened too, but they were dwarfed by the crap I waded through. 2017 was a special kind of hell I’m very glad to be seeing in my rearview mirror.

⛈ I’m far from apolitical—just take a look at my Twitter account—but as a rape survivor, watching a man who has admitted to groping women get elected to the highest office in my nation . . . that was a huge slap in the face. As people emerged from whatever rock they’d been living under the last however-many years to support his predatory ways and say it was just locker-room talk, I felt unsafe. (Yes, I have PTSD, so some of that was sparked back to life.)

I don’t want to live in an America where women are seen as objects to be fondled at a man’s whim because he thinks he could get away with it. Ick!

☀️ The silver lining in all of that was the strength of the Woman’s Movement. I marched with my daughter, her bestie, and my best friend. I felt the unity of women and supportive men all over the world, not just in the US. The response to the election was amazing. And the momentum hasn’t stopped. The #metoo movement has changed the conversation from “How not to get raped/harassed” to “How not to rape or harass,” shifting the onus from victim to perpetrator, where it should’ve been all along.

What I discovered was that writing was hard in this climate. Fucking hard. Every day something else in my world was being torn apart, broken. If it had Obama’s label on it, Trump was stomping on it with his toddler shoes, fists clenched in undoing everything his predecessor did just for the sake of his tantrum.

Writing about men falling in love was near impossible for me.

I’m not one of those people who can avoid the news. I need to be informed. I didn’t obsess and read all day long, but the news cycle this year was crazy! Journalists earned their paychecks and more this year, just by reporting what happened. Those that dug to find out the story behind Trump’s Wizard of Oz tactics, they all deserved huge bonuses, and I hope they got them.

⛈ So, writing didn’t happen for me. I had ideas and wanted to write, but every time I sat down at my computer, the cursor and blank page mocked me. Writing longhand was useless too. Dictation, changing my location, outlining, pantsing, typing with my eyes closed, typing jibberish until the words flowed . . . None of my writer’s block techniques got me past it.

⛈ I wondered if I’d ever write again, let alone release a book.

☀️ Okay, I did release Momo, My Everything. That was in February, so yay me! 😃

What I discovered I could easily accomplish as the world devolved into chaos around me was edit. Editing was sort of a soothing balm to my soul, as crazy as that sounds. But there are rules and references to fall back on. When I didn’t know the answer, I could seek it out. With some obscure rules, that meant hunting numerous sites, but at the end, I walked away with an answer, which was oddly satisfying.

☀️ Editing became my coping mechanism and my editing clients increased dramatically in 2017. I used to freelance edit one manuscript a month or so. The last half of the year, my calendar was packed and some months I was reading six to eight manuscripts, depending on the length. Even if I had wanted to write my own stories, I didn’t have time.

⛈ And, of course, that’s when the stories came to me. But I was committed to editing at that point with no breathing room, let alone the sort of breathing room I need to allow a story to fully develop.

☀️⛈ In June I made some health changes to help me deal with the new work demands. I went from working four-hour days back when I taught to now working twelve-hour days (easily) and not taking weekends off. I was overworking myself and saw no way out with my commitments, so I started working out, and soon I was dropping pounds. To date, I’ve lost fifteen pounds, which doesn’t sound huge, but for someone who lost five a year, max, that’s significant.

I sit on my ass all day long reading, staring at a computer screen. I don’t exactly have a high metabolism, so I was thrilled with fifteen pounds. I’d love to lose fifteen more in 2018, or maybe even more! 😉

☀️ But the biggest advantage to walking every day was allowing my mind to wander wherever it wanted to go. That led me to characters or started me off somewhere new in a story that was only a sprout but infused with so much potential. So I have a lot of stories that got started but then stalled out. Or I have chapters written with no plot to anchor them in place. I’ll eventually get there, but with the number of days I spent in 2017 editing, there was no way.

❤️ Then at the end of August, I had a puppy come into my life. She changed everything! There was fantastic and there was challenging. I wasn’t sleeping through the night again. I was anxious and always thinking about her schedule (food, 💩, pee, exercise, training, vet appointments). Soon, I had no time at all for my own stories. I barely had time for my friends.

I realized I need to make some changes to be able to sustain my editing clients and write as well. I want to do both. So in December, I took no editing jobs . . . initially. 😂 I ended up with two jobs because I needed that anchor still. But I have plans for 2018 that involve editing one month and then writing the next month. I can work on my own edits between editing for clients but then have a whole month to immerse myself in writing and story creation and plotting.

There’s a brain shift thing that has to happen between writing and editing, and it’s damn hard to feel free enough to create when all those 🤬 editing rules are in my head. I need the space to get free from the rules.

A few other things happened in 2017 that started off as bad things but ended up as good things. Can you tell I’m a silver-lining person? I am. I can’t help it.

I distributed Naked Origins and Silver Scars through Pronoun and discovered I loved it, so much so I was ready to move all my books over there as they came off of Kindle Unlimited. But then Pronoun announced they were closing their doors.

In the end, I changed how I do things, direct uploading everywhere I can and using a distributer only where I can’t upload. I became a publisher with Google Play. I still have hoops to jump through to get into the iTunes store without revealing my real name, but I’ll figure that out.

Oh, and I discovered how to use advertising more effectively. That was/n’t fun.

I also added an epilogue onto Stroke of Luck. I love it so much. For some reason, I naturally fight against giving a fully developed HEA. I want readers to have the freedom to take the characters wherever they want, but that book really called for more. So now it has the epilogue, and I no longer have the niggling desire to tell another story for them. Cas and Marc feel sated and happy to live out their lives together.

☀️ One other thing I did, which is likely more exciting for me than readers, is reformat all my ebooks. They are prettier! Then I also reworked Farm Fresh, word massaging and fixing a few things that had bugged me. That made me want to print a new paperback, but the reformatting led to more pages in the book, and while I was at it, I decided why not print on cream paper? And if I was going to reformat the paperback of Farm Fresh, I had to do Picked Fresh too. So Farm Fresh now has oranges on the back rather than eggs and the coloring on the front is a tad different. Picked Fresh pretty much looks the same but there are more pages.

FarmFresh-print-f So, good riddance, 2017. Hello, 2018. I look forward to what you have in store. I already know what I have planned. I hope I can accomplish it all. Even if I only accomplished half, I’d be happy.

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12 Days of Kissmas Posy Roberts: Exclusive Holiday Flash Fiction and Giveaway

I wrote some Flash Fiction over at Two Chicks Obsessed’s site based on this photo. Click to read the sweetness and to get entered into giveaways. 🙂

 

Day 7 of 12 days of Kissmas is here, and do we have an amazing post for you today! Posy Roberts wrote flash fiction especially for this post, based on her Kissmas picture below. And if you don’t sigh and just walk away happy, you clearly aren’t a romance reader. 🙂 Make sure you enter the giveaways! But first, welcome to Posy!!!! …

Source: 12 Days of Kissmas Posy Roberts: Exclusive Holiday Flash Fiction and Giveaway

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Puppy Must-Haves

I’ve mentioned I’m a bit taken by my dog before. Who me? Yeah. Totally head over heels for this little creature! But she’s going to have me going broke soon. I keep buying her things. Some of that is because of recommendations from other pet owners, some from the dog trainer or the vet, but mostly it’s because I love spoiling her!

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It seemed like every puppy class we went to, I walked out with something new. The latest purchase was this ball. She loves it now that she’s teething and it can get to the molars, which makes her happy. You can put treats inside too. I haven’t tried that yet, but I will. If you have a dog that loves to unstuff toys, you can cut strips of fleece fabric and shove it into the center of the ball too, likely keeping them entertained for a bit. I’m not sure how long that would last for intense destuffers, however.

The trainer also talked about a Kong that was a food dispenser. I had something like that years ago that looked like a die, but this was better so, of course, I went and ordered it. There’s a puppy playpen I ordered because of the recommendation of a Facebook friend. Olive spends a lot of her time in it. I can keep her contained without the sense of confinement of a kennel. It’s expandable too, so you can make it much larger by getting add-on pieces. It’s not for large dogs, however. Smaller pet and those that don’t climb or jump out.

I ended up making a list on Amazon of everything I love so I can easily find it again for reorders, so I figured I’d share it with other pet owners.

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Amazon Countdown Deal

Stroke of Luck is only 99¢ in the US and 99 pence in the UK through December 3rd. Get it now!

Marc lost everything in a fire. Cas lost hope of ever falling in love. Running into each other changes their fate.

Amazon ONLY

StrokeofLuckMiniCardWhat reviewers say:

Cas and Marc’s chemistry is electric. If you are a reader who is a fan of hot man-on-man action, Stroke of Luck is worth reading just for the window scene!
~Kirsty from Joyfully Jay

[Fanning self …] Their sexual chemistry pops and sizzles with an oh, so very hot scene in front of floor to ceiling windows atop a Minneapolis high-rise.
~Gay Book Reviews

Posy Roberts always effortlessly draws me into her stories. Her characters tend to be charming and fascinating, her descriptions are vivid and the dialogue sparkles. And when it comes to the sexy times…hot barely covers it.
~The Way She Reads

Re-release, sales

My Poor Bookshelves

I’m starting to feel sorry for my books. They’ve been battered in the last few months. I tore them off comfy shelves, reformatted them to make them look all pretty, gave them new ISBNs, placed them nicely back on the lovely shelves of Pronoun, a book distributor, only to have that bookcase come crashing to the ground.

pexels-photo-415078.jpegJust a few months after moving everything and loving it there (seriously, it was great!), Pronoun announced they are closing their doors in January. So the process had to start all over again. I debated going back to Smashwords for all distribution, but their system is clunky and not user-friendly at all. So, yesterday I moved everything I could over to the individual stores I could (B&N and Kobo) and will use Draft2Digital as my distributor. I’ll now only use Smashwords to get to a few bookstores I can’t get my books in any other way and have my books there for direct sales, which gets me a higher royalty.

That was a lot of info in a very small space. What does it really mean? Well, that my books are going to have different URLs, so old URLs won’t work. Links will be broken until I can get everything up and running again. It also means my books may be in different stores than before.

And that brings me to Books2Read. It’s a book landing page with store links, something I tried to make my portfolio. All links in the backmatter of my ebooks land on my portfolio pages. Well, Books2Read does that too but with a wider range of stores. Here’s a sample; this one is for Spark, and as you can see, it’s available at several stores.

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Apparently if readers click on their fave store (say you always buy your books at Kobo), every time you use a B2R link, it will take you to your preferred store. I have the option of putting this in the backmatter of ebooks as well, though I didn’t do that yesterday while uploading Naked Origins, Farm Fresh, Picked Fresh, or Silver Scars.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.05.52 AM
Screenshot from Backmatter

And there’s also an option of including a sign up to follow an author page to get notified of new releases, again with a preferred store. I’m not sure how I feel about that considering some books are released exclusively on Amazon to take advantage of KU’s boost on the charts, which translates to visibility and, therefore, more sales. So readers being forced to pick only one store won’t know a book has been released—unless that store is Amazon—until it goes wide. That may work for some, but not all.

I’d still rather readers sign up for my newsletter. 😉

I only wish they’d create an author landing page and the ability to put up some of the book details as well.

Do any of you already take advantage of these Book2Read features? How do they work for you? Do you like having the option of signing up for notifications? Do you like seeing all the stores in one spot?

 

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Halloween Romance

Halloween is a big deal at our house, as are Halloween costumes, parties, and candy. Bigger than Christmas some years. So last year after I got in a car accident outside of Goodwill while searching for Halloween costumes, a story started brewing. I wrote it, published it, but wanted to know more of what happened to these guys.

So last month I decided to go back and revisit Cas and Marc. I ended up adding an epilogue to their story rather than writing a sequel. I wanted to see where they ended up after the Halloween party.

If you bought this off Amazon before, you can get the revised copy w/o rebuying by deleting the story from your device and then uploading it again. The new version would come to you then. How will you know if you have the new version? It has a mask on the header.

Mask

In my head, Cas and Marc already had their happily ever after, but now they have an even happier ever after! So did Cas’s bestie.

StrokeHalloween2017Promo

Oh, it comes in paperback too!

Amazon