Monday Mayhem – Discipline: The Modern Love Edition

For those of you who have been following my blog for the last few weeks, you’ve heard me mention Elizabeth Gilbert’s term, “the song of the disciplined halfass.”

That section of her book, BIG MAGIC, really spoke to me. Not that I consider myself half-ass. In this case, she’s referring to half-assery as an alternative to perfectionism. As I’ve grown older, I have let go of my quest for perfectionism. I believe it’s corrosive to one’s psyche.

That’s not to say that I don’t get tied up in it every once in a while. I’m not perfect, after all. But, I recognize it for the trap it is, and I try to dial my expectations down to a more reasonable level. Because, let’s face it, the quest for perfectionism can make a person even more imperfect than they already are. Or worse, it can stop them in their tracks.

And this train is not stopping.

I am a disciplined person. First, let me say that my brand of discipline has minimal leather (way too hot) and no actual flogging (only mental self-flagellation). I think of it more in tune with the line from David Bowie’s MODERN LOVE. “I know when to go out. And when to stay in – get things done.”

This week has been a test of that discipline.

First, it was an extremely busy week at the day job. And hot as Hades out there.

8:30am

The increased in pace and soul-sucking heat meant I came home pretty wrung-out, and basically not ready to think really hard about anything. A detrimental state of mind to an author whose writing is pretty much a full-time night job.

Remember how I mentioned before that this would be my summer of revisions? Well the heat is on, both outside and in.

In the last ten days, I received full editorial revisions on one manuscript, as well as copyedits on two others. I knew they were coming, but…EEEP! All this, while trying to complete my work in progress in the month of July.

This is where my Dragon, Desdemona, swooped in to rescue me. Because I have been doggedly limping along with this dictation software, I’ve been able to keep pace with my work in progress in the midst of all this editorial madness. Here’s how:

I dictate on my way to work in the morning, edit my transcribed words first thing in the evening, and add them to my work in progress before moving on to the my editorial work.

So, both rounds of copyedits will have been turned in by the time you read this, I am knee-deep in revision on the other manuscript, and I added a total of 9,874 words to my work in progress over the course of the week.

I’ve also watched a couple episodes of LAST CHANCE U on Netflix. In reading the new Sarah MacLean book. So, you see this job is when to be disciplined, and knowing when to be a half-ass.

Is there anything you’ve learned to let go of lately? Anything you’ve added to your repertoire to make achieving your goals more reasonable? Anyone else googling the video for MODERN LOVE right now? Here, let me make it easy for you. Enjoy, and have a good week! https://youtu.be/1hDbpF4Mvkw

 

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Monday Mayhem – Accomplishment vs Ambition

Good morning! This blog post is brought to you today once again by the letter D. Hi! I’m here with Desdemona, my Dragon software, and I’m talking to myself again. After last week’s post, a few people have asked how it’s going, so here’s an update:

I’ve been working with it all week, I’m not sure that I’m getting any better, but I’m doing it. I’ve been dictating during my approximately twelve minute drive to work each morning. That time has netted me about 900 words on average each day this week. I’m only dictating basic punctuation, and not using the dialogue marks as of yet, but, yeah, progress. When I come home, I have Desdemona transcribe what I’ve dictated into my phone, I edit it, and add it to my work in progress. So far, so good. I’m finding that dictation allows me to get the bones of the scene in, and when I go back to edit it, I’m adding the color, character, and voice to the story.

In other news, at a great time the ladies from the Diamond State Romance Authors yesterday. it had been a couple of months since I’ve been to a meeting, and I really needed this one. Being around other writers helps to recharge the batteries.

We had an interesting discussion at lunch about ambition, expectations, reality and our accomplishments.

When you’re waist-deep in the publishing industry the disparity between an author’s ambition, expectations, and reality, can be…disheartening. And in those moments of despair, we have a tendency to downplay our accomplishments.

So if you are in one of those funks where you feel like a failure, ask yourself these simple questions:

1. Did I try?
2. Did I finish?
3. Did I dare to show my work, even if only to one person.

If you answered yes, to any of these, then you are an accomplished person.

It’s easy to lose sight of our accomplishments when we hold them up next to our ambitions. Most of the time, our ambition and expectations are waaaaaay up here, and our reality looks something like a royalty check barely big enough to cover lunch. But that doesn’t mean we still haven’t accomplished something spectacular.

I’m speaking directly to my novelist friends now, but I believe this applies to any creative endeavor:

Look at what you have done. You are amazing. Literally, one in millions. A percentage so minute, most people don’t even count it on a chart. The year I signed with my literary agent, Sara, she tweeted her 2015 query statistics in December. The numbers were so staggering I broke out the calculator, and did the math.

I know! I voluntarily did math.

You know what? I am one of the .003%

One-percenters may think they are something because their checks cover more than lunch, but you, me, and a handful of others? We’re in an even more exclusive club.

As writers, we build a career one word at a time, one book at a time, one series at a time. What we need to do is stop using yardsticks to measure a game played in millimeters. It doesn’t covert properly.

It’s not wrong to have ambition or expectations. Reality can sometimes be better than we expected. But please, oh please, don’t sweep your accomplishments under the rug because they didn’t jibe with the rest of that jive.

Feed your ambition.

Temper your expectations.

Plot what you can do to enhance your reality.

And celebrate your accomplishments every damn day. Because, wow! Who knew you had this in you?

You did. That’s who.

So, yeah… *steps off soapbox*

Right now I’m working on revisions for novel number thirty-seven and adding words to number thirty-eight. See what I did there?

I’m totally high-fiving myself as I eat the peanut butter sandwich I brought from home.

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Monday Mayhem – Poised on the brink

Here we are in JULY. Can you believe it? Yeah, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it myself. Camp NaNoWriMo started 7/1/17. I’m hoping it gives me to motivation/momentum I need to finish drafting A RING FOR ROSIE (Play Dates #3).

Tomorrow, we celebrate Independence Day. I’m working today and the rest of the week, so that means it’s one of those weird mid-week holidays, but I don’t mind.  We’ll party it up tonight, then I can spend the holiday lounging in my chair watching The Music Man. 🙂

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July, my fellow Americans!

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Monday Mayhem – Hunkered down on the doghouse

I plan to spend most of my summer doing revisions. I know that doesn’t sound like fun to many people, but it’s very exciting for me. With some fabulously constructive input from my editors, I have a chance to make this book (and every book I release) better than I originally believed it could be.

But I wouldn’t say revisions are easy for me. My first responses to almost any editorial feedback usually start with the words, “But…”, “I wanted…”, and “You don’t understand…” Then, I stuff my overinflated ego into a strongbox and set the revisions aside for a day or two.

When I read through the comments again, I often find they are right 99.9% of the time. That’s when I get to work.

I’ve been steadily wading through these revisions all week. I have a couple additions to write, then I’ll take another pass through the whole thing to be sure it works. Then, I send it back to my editors for round two.

Did I mention there are two more completed manuscripts awaiting revisions behind this one? Yep. Going to be a busy summer, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – This Magic Moment

I did something totally out of character for me this weekend…I lived in the moment.

On Wednesday, I turned in the finished manuscript for Easy Bake Lovin’ (Play Dates #2), and then from Wednesday night ’til this minute, I haven’t even powered up my computer. Oh, it traveled to Illinois with us and back, but I didn’t do any work.

Here’s what I did instead:

Walked out of the Isle of Capri casino in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with $50 more than I had when I walked in. Wooot! Thanks, Ghostbusters!

Took the bypass around Bloomington-Normal, Illinois (my hometown) without stopping for the first time in my life. It was a little freaky.

Laughed my butt off with some of my oldest friends – seriously, these broads are getting up there.

Trained from Level 1 Ninja to Level 5 Ninja thanks to my Karate Kid crane kick and guidance from my nephew, Liam. Sadly, that still wasn’t enough for me to be able to wield the plastic nunchucks. I’m told you have to be Level 10 Ninja for that.

Learned how to vanquish the undead (neon green plastic skeletons) with a sword. Special thanks to nephew, Connor, for letting me use one of his foam swords. Fodder refuses to buy me one of my own. The big chicken.

Rebuilt a bulldozer. (I wasn’t sure I could do it, but great-nephew, Bo, had faith in his Aunt Moogie.)

Laughed my butt off some more, but don’t worry, I ate enough to ensure continuous padding. Plus, we made the resident teenagers whine and beg us to go to bed, so we win!

Swept into Bloomington on our way south again to share a little lunch with my biggest brother, nieces & nephews, and great-niece and nephews.

Rolled into the St. Louis area and scammed a bed for the night from second biggest brother and his ever-patient wife. Devoured my first steakburger from Freddy’s Custard – yum! Can’t wait until our Freddy’s opens!

Up early to drive another six hours through sporadic rain, but it was all worth it to come home to this smiley beast:

I realized when I started this post that I forgot to take pictures of all of the above, but I decided I’m okay with that. I was living in the moment, and enjoying every one of them. <3

How was your weekend?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Ripples Needed, Apply Here

The Diamond State Romance Authors met this weekend. As usual, spending time with my writer friends recharged me.

This month, we talked about every author’s worst nightmare – PR and publicity.

Most people don’t realize that almost all book promotion falls on the author. My publisher will promote the book through their existing networks (which are admittedly much larger than mine), but there’s no campaign to speak of, and almost no advertising beyond the occasional boosted post on social media. Once, I was lucky enough to have my book included as part of a print ad in a trade publication, but that was mainly a matter of lucky timing.

But mostly, it’s up to us to flaunt our work. Not an easy thing to do for people who prefer to spend their time writing the next story.

So, yeah, promotion a vital skill for an author to master. And one that stymies me every time. You see, there is no magic formula. What works for one book may fall flat on the next. A catchy cover can help, but that only goes so far.

Word of mouth is everything.

Kelli Reep of FlyWrite Communications talked to us about how to maximize the ripple effect needed for marketing success. We’re so inundated with information and images that it takes a minimum of seven impressions for something to register with most people. Which means I am tempted to do this and go back to my keyboard:

   

   

I threw an extra in there for symmetry and good measure… But that probably isn’t going to do the trick, huh?

I have a new series starting this fall and my first mass market paperback release coming in 2018. Man, do I want them to be a success. I mean, I want all of my books to connect with readers, but the Love, Unexpectedly series from Sourcebooks will be my first shot at being on shelves in major retailers. This a pretty big deal for me. I confess, I occasionally go to visit my spot in our local Barnes & Noble:

So, yeah, I’m going to have to get better at this marketing and publicity bit. I’m hoping I can count on you to help me. To be my ripples. And I’m asking you in advance to forgive me, as I blab all over the place about these books.

After all, an author has to do what an author has to do, right?

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Cover Reveal!

I have new art!

Check out this adorable cover for the first book in my upcoming PLAY DATES series!

 

For single parents, life is often more diapers and daycare dilemmas than dating. But for three dads going solo, a little flirting can lead to a whole lot more than a fling . . .

Colm Cleary lost his wife just moments after his son Aiden’s birth, and it’s been just the two of them ever since. Dating is his very last priority—until he spots gorgeous Monica Rayburn on the playground with her little girl. Suddenly finding a woman sympathetic to the demands of single parenthood seems like a great idea—especially if they agree to a no-pressure, no-strings date . . .

Dazzled by the hot “Saturdaddy” who asks her out, Monica doesn’t get around to mentioning that little Emma is her niece. She’s in commodities, not children. A gambler to the bone, she’s going to take a chance on an adult evening with Colm—and worry about the details later. But when their casual connection deepens into something more solid, the truth will have to come out—and both Colm and Monica will have to throw caution to the wind to hold on to a future together . . .

Play Dates (#1) coming October 3, 2017 from Kensington/Lyrical Shine

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Monday Mayhem – A trickle to a stream

There.

I typed it.

At last.

On the piece of…book that’s been giving me fits since November.

And how did I get there? By dialing back my ego, essentially shredding large parts of what I have already written for book three, and basically saying enough is enough.

Is it done? Not even close. But now I get to hand it off to Jewels so she can point out all the things that really need to be fixed, and those I just imagined were pure ca-ca.

There was a song back in the 80s called “A Whisper to a Scream“. Not one of my favorites because it was subtitled (Birds Fly), but I always think about it when I wrap a project like this.

I find writing books fall into two categories – trickle or stream.

Some books must be pried out with pliers and tears. Others gush out like water water burbling down a stream. Every once in a while, you get one that flows steady, but those seem to be even more rare than the gushers.

Now, I start dismantling book 3 and rebuilding. Wish me luck!

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Typecasting

Do you have a type?

I’m working on Easy Bake Lovin’ (Play Dates #2), and one of the plot points is that the heroine is about as opposite the hero’s usual type. Their attraction stirs some not-so-subtle commentary, which, in turn, leads to hurt feelings and confusion.

“Type” seems a shallow plot point on first glance, but when you think about it, most of us DO have some characteristics we gravitate toward. Types can be based on appearance, common interests and passions, and our attraction can be conscious, or sub-conscious.

Weird example: Most of my celebrity crushes were born within a year or so of the man I eventually married.

1960 was a magical year.

Obviously, this was not an intentional thing. I didn’t go looking for a man who was born within months of Colin Firth or John Taylor from Duran Duran. It just happened that way.

And upon noticing that, I realized that they all share similar physical attributes – each just a shade over six feet tall, dark not-quite wavy hair, dark eyes, squarish jaw. Check this out:

Colin plays it a little bit stuffy

John’s still rock ‘n roll

 

My combo deal

Fodder scoffs at this, of course, but that’s okay. It works for me, and that’s all that matters. And when I really want to bug him, I tell him I’m going to frame this:

How about you? Do you have a type?

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Birthing a book

Two weeks ago, A BOLT FROM THE BLUE released into the wild. This was a super quick labor – only about thirteen months from conception to birth. Since I am traditionally published (meaning I sell my work to a publishing house, and their team then takes over the editorial timeline and production), this can be a relatively long process.

It’s always fun to see non-writers reactions when I talk a little about the behind the scenes. It’s shocking to discover how many people think you just write a book and put it out there. With the advent of self-publishing, that is certainly possible, but if you’ve read one book that has been released without benefit of an external editor you’ll most likely agree that it isn’t preferable.

With BOLT, I was dealing with a publisher and editing team I have worked with on 5 previous publications, so it was easy for us to press the accelerator.

Here’s pretty much how the timeline played out:

I sent a synopsis to my editor on March 6, 2016, and she submitted it to the team at Lyrical Press.

On April 26, 2016, my editor said, “Yes!” Contract talks began, and I hunkered down at my keyboard to magically transform the synopsis to an actual 60k+ word manuscript.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

May 9th – I was informed that expected delivery date on BOLT was July 1, 2017 for an April 2017 release.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

May 23rd – sent the first chapter to the fabulous Julie Evelyn Joyce for critiquing.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

Also on May 23rd – Publisher requests completion of Cover Art and Publication Information forms. Because I have sold the rights to this book, these forms are my last and only chance to give input on the look of the book and the message conveyed in the cover copy. Most people are surprised to find out I do not have the final say in any of that kind of stuff.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

On June 13, I received the official contract and signed it. Wooot!

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

Sent the full manuscript for to Julie Evelyn Joyce for wizardry June 15th – she sent it back June 26.

Spent days eradicating excess instances of ‘just’, ‘that’, ‘it,’ and other favorite words from what was a 67k word manuscript.

Delete, delete, delete, delete….

July 1, 2016 – Sent 66k word manuscript to marvelous Marci, my editor at Lyrical Press.

July 5, 2016 A WILL AND A WAY releases – promo ensues.

Received the first round of edits August 7, 2016. She requested an added scene toward the end of the story.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….Send to Julie…Back from Julie…delete, delete, delete, delete….send back to Marci August 14th.

Second round of edits arrived on the 16th. Back to her the 18th.

Another round of edits from the line editor on September 2, 2016. I returned them on the 4th with some notes and questions. Marci shot them right back, and I went at it again.

Manuscript sent to my esteemed editor again on September 7th. She repaid me by sending the whole enchilada back in galley form (proofing for minor corrections only) on the 8th. I passed the hot potato on the 9th, and we put the book to bed.

Then, I ran away to the beach.

September 15th, the cover art fairy visited with this:

I squealed, then got down to writing the first book in the Play Dates series.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

NaNoWriMo starts – more typing, typing, typing, typing….

November 22, 2016 – LOVE & ROCKETS releases. Promo madness ensues.

Typing, typing, typing, typing….

December 1, 2016 – Final formatted digital copies of BOLT landed in my inbox. I cooed over them, checked for any hiccups in the front/back matter. And then, the wait for April 4, 2017 began.

In the weeks around release, authors step out of their caves long enough to do some social media schmoozing and guest blogging (Read & Watch 2017, Just Contemporary Romance, and later this week, Fiction University).

The publishing industry is about as unlike what you see on TV. There’s no publicist, or even publicity budget. We arrange and pay for most of our advertising ourselves. We are not making big money. In fact, most of us make less than a dollar on each book sold.

That’s why we annoy our Facebook friends with incessant reminders that, yes, the book is available now, and yes, we desperately need reviews. That’s the biggest thing readers don’t really know.

We NEED reviews.

Not for ego-gratification, or self-flagellation, but because they allow us to leverage better marketing for our books. Seriously. There are many, many places where we cannot BUY advertising with our own cash money unless we have a certain number of reviews on Amazon or GoodReads. Most of my books do not have even the minimum, so I am BEGGING you. Please consider leaving a review in a public forum.

They don’t have to be essays or even a paragraph. I am not asking you to sing my praises. I just need an honest review on the book itself that says, “I liked/didn’t like this, because XXX”

And that’s one book’s journey to publication in an extremely long and picture-laden nutshell. I think I’ll go have a nap now…

Kidding! Kidding!

I can’t nap…I have 5 more books coming at you in the next year.

Brace yourselves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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