Monday Mayhem – Stuck in the muck

I’m stuck. Ish. Not really stuck, but in a weird headspace these days. Too much time on my hands. And crap…Now I have Styx stuck in there too.

I’m not used to this much freedom, and frankly, my procrastination skills have reached almost Aussie proportions. I am trying to keep to a schedule in my day-to-day routines, but sit seems like somewhere around noon I get distract….

Hey, did you meet my new T-Rex, Rover?

Rover
Rover

Yep. Too much time on my hands. And a bit of a pity party going on. But the problem with pity parties is that only one guest ever sticks around. The pitiful one.

But this week will be different. This week, I’m getting un-stuck!

This week, I am buckling down. I’m going to spew ALL THE WORDS, edit ALL THE WORDS, make ALL THE WORDS flee in terror when they see this Writersaurus Wrecks coming!

How am I going to get unstuck? I’m going to plow through procrastination!

Therefore, I need goals. I need goals, and I need you to hold me accountable. So here they are. Ready?

1)  First of all, I will finish first pass edits on chapters 7-18 of DOUBLE PLAY so they are ready for Jewels. This also includes actually writing scenes for the spots where I wrote {Big fight scene here} because I was feeling non-confrontational that day.

2) Add at least 7500 more words to THE FIX UP (current WIP). This is going to be a fun series. Sort of a Fixer Upper meets It’s Complicated thing. I hope it plays out well.

3) Read through and take notes on major revision points on SUPERSTAR. This one is more of a Nashville meets A Star is Born thing with a juicy family dynamic and intergenerational storylines.

So, I’m counting on you guys to hold my feet to the fire next week. I’m going to meet these goals. I’m not even going to give an ‘If I don’t…’ scenario.

While I’m working on that, what do you hope to achieve this week? Ready? Set? Goal!

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Monday Mayhem – Back at it! What is she up to now?

I’m hard at work again. Next up, revisions on DOUBLE PLAY (book #3 in the Love Games series). It’s Avery’s turn at bat, and boy does she clobber poor Dominic Mann with a grand slam!

After that, there’s another rough, rough draft that will need to be polished. It’s a sort of an ode to those glitzy 1980s-90s romances I loved so much

I am also working on a new project I hope to shop on submission. It’s pretty rough around the edges, but I’ll fix ’em up and get them going sometime this week.

People are still reading and loving the LOVE GAMES series.  Have you left a review on Amazon? If not, please consider doing so. My algorithms need you!

The hunt for a new day job continues. Had an interview last week for one I think I’d really like. Cross things for me, will you?

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Monday Mayhem – That whirring noise you hear…

Is me winding down from a fabulous weekend in the Chicago area.

I attended the 2018 Chicago North RWA Spring Fling. I am home now. Exhausted and exhilarated. There’s nothing like spending time with other writers to recharge the creative juices.

The big advantage to attending a conference in Chicago is the fact that I can combine it with family and friends time.

I got to visit with my niece and her boys, where I met my new (ish) great-nephew, I had time to hang out with my sister one-on-one, and had pizza with my brother and his family (where I had my butt kicked playing Sequence for Kids).

I also got to spend an evening with some of my sorority sisters – some of whom I hadn’t seen in mumblemumblemumble years. 

The best part, as always, was having the chance to catch up with my life-long besties. From cooing over prom dresses and repeatedly apologizing to Jen’s daughter for being…us…to sweet, gorgeous young Mike, who had no idea what he was getting served when the hostess seated this party of four.

I’m home now. The laundry had to be piled up whilst Sally and I got reacquainted with an epic nap, but there’s always tomorrow.

Oh! And I finished the first draft on my latest work in progress before I left, so if you are looking for me, I’ll be in the revision cave for the next couple of months.

Thanks to all of my hardworking members of the CNRWA chapter for putting on such a great conference. See you in 2020!

And go, Cubs, go!

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Monday Mayhem – Millie Time!

PLAY FOR KEEPS releases tomorrow and I am super-excited!

I have to admit, I love the heroine in this book. Millie talks tough, but she has a lot of heart. She knows who she is, and accepts and loves herself, but she struggles to let others in. Ty Ransom is a steady, determined man, and it’s a darn good thing. He’s going to have to put on a full court press to convince Millie that he’s playing for keeps.

And I have some BIG NEWS regarding this release!

Amazon editors have chosen PLAY FOR KEEPS as one of the best books of  April! This is a huge honor, and I’m keeping some pret-ty swanky company on that list. Check it out here.

LOVE GAME is still available in stores, so if you haven’t started the series, grab both books and get in the game! And keep the Spotted in the Wild pictures coming! I love seeing them!

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Monday Mayhem – Muddling through

I haven’t been feeling well this week. The throat crud came back with a vengeance, and really kind of knocked me off my feet. Then, I got some news that kicked me when I was down. But I’m back up today-still a bit snotty and ego firmly in check. Time to focus on what’s on hand and let go of things I can’t control.

EASY BAKE LOVIN’ is out tomorrow! It’s funny and naughty and irreverent, and I had a blast writing it.

Here’s a taste:

She slid her hands along the case, drew back, and did a pirouette to encompass the array of goods on display. “Anything catch your eye?”

He caught a flash of leg as her apron flew in a circle around her. Despite the approaching winter, she wore nothing but some skimpy shorts under her apron. Well, a tank top and shorts, as well as some knee-high socks striped like the Wicked Witch of the West’s, but his brain shorted out when he got an eyeful of toned thigh, so the rest hardly counted.

She also wore boots. Thick-soled combat-style boots like the soldiers wore to march for miles over rugged terrain. Boots that made a man want to test exactly how kickass the wearer might be.

Mike shook himself out of his daze. “Oh, uh, no. I mean, yes.” He shook his head harder. “I mean, everything looks, um, great.”

“People come from miles around to get their hands on my Boston Cream Bosoms.”

Mike expelled a short laugh. She didn’t need to convince him; he was a believer. “I bet they do.”

She tipped her head to the side. “This is one of those moments when, as a feminist, I don’t know whether to be offended or flattered, but I bring the confusion on myself, so…” She shrugged and wrinkled her nose. The tiny diamond winked at him.

“This is one of those moments when, as both a feminist and a card-carrying member of the man club, I don’t know whether to…” He trailed off, letting the thought dangle.

“Make a break for it?”

“Exactly.”

She laughed again, and this time, a pulse of pleasure reverberated in his body. This woman was…infectious. And he didn’t have time to come down with a bad case of lust.

“Don’t feel bad. A lot of guys feel the same way when they first come in.”

“Don’t you think some of this is just the least bit…degrading to women?”

She nodded gravely. “And to men.” 

“It’s a little obscene.” The words came ou with more heat than he intended. Almost immediately, he regretted them. She was a potential client, after all. Who was he to judge?

“I think the human body is beautiful in any form,” she replied, seemingly unfazed.

“It’s objectifying the human body.”

“We objectify the human body every day in a million ways.” She leaned in a fraction of an inch. “I’m pretty sure you were objectifying mine when I walked out here.”

She was right. He had ogled her. But she’d ogled him back, damn it.

Preorder at: Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google ~ Kensington ~ Kobo

I’m preparing promo material for PLAY FOR KEEPS now, and last week I revealed the absolutely perfect cover for A RING FOR ROSIE.

I have DOUBLE PLAY to revise, and I’ve hit the halfway point in my work in progress, SUPERSTAR.

So…onward!

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Monday Mayhem – Overwhelmed, Overjoyed, Over the Moon

Is it possible that anyone missed this?

It’s been a fairly surreal week.

LOVE GAME was my 35th release, but my first to be available in brick and mortar stores. It was also the first time I took a release day off work. I spent the morning, spamming you all online, registering to attend RWA in Denver, and generally making sure my links and such were working. Then Fodder and I went out for lunch and to hunt it down in the wild.

I admit I got a little misty when I saw it. I still get a little keyed up thinking about it. Don’t tell him I told you, but Fodder did too.

 

The release was accompanied by some of the most AMAZING reviews. I have to admit that in recent years I have become one of those authors…the ones who beg for reviews (because we need them to sell books), but try not to read them. Because while the bad ones are indubitably soul-crushing, even the best review can get into an author’s head.

 

I have to admit, I’ve been reading those I come across on LOVE GAME, and I am thrilled to know that it’s connecting with readers.

I’ll post some links here because these are a thrill for me.

Publishers Weekly (Starred)

Dear Author (Recommended Read)

Romantically Inclined (A modern read…)

Guilty Pleasures (Purest Delight!)

That’s What I’m Talking About (A – Loved it!)

So, yeah, it’s been a great week.

It’s also been an awful week.

The second week of February always is for me. Friday, February 9, 2018 was the 20th anniversary of my dad’s passing. Sunday, February 11th was the 2nd anniversary of mom’s.

So yeah, there’s been some Kleenex expenditure, but despite the racier aspects of my writing, I think my parents (inveterate bookworms themselves) would have been proud to see a book I produced on the shelf.

But THANK YOU. I hope I’ve made you proud, too. I appreciate your support, your enthusiasm, and the steadfast encouragement.

Without you, I’d just be tossing words out there into the void. With you, I am seeing my dreams come true one by one.

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Monday Mayhem – The calm

It’s the calm before the storm. At least, I’m trying to remain calm. The next three months are going to be a doozy.

I’ve been so focused on LOVE GAME, it’s easy to forget that EASY BAKE LOVIN’ (March 6) and PLAY FOR KEEPS (April 3) are following close behind.

How can you help?

#1 Buy the book. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. Publishing is a business, and if these books don’t sell, my publishers have no reason to publish additional titles from me. Even if you don’t read romance, consider buying a copy for a friend, or to donate.

#2 Tell people! Talk about it. Suggest a title to your book club. No amount of paid advertising can match the power of word of mouth.  That’s a fact.

#3 Be a ripple: We are so inundated with images these days, it takes a minimum of seven visual impressions. If you see one of my books mentioned on social media or one of my posts somewhere, please share it with your friends (if you feel comfortable doing so). That’s a ripple.

#4 Review. Customer reviews on Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads are vital for an author. I’m not talking ego gratification. Many authors don’t even look at their reviews because, good or bad, they can impact writing productivity. Why do we ask for them? Because other readers look at them. So do book promotion sites. Some sites won’t allow an author to buy advertising unless they have a minimum number of positive reviews. So, even if it’s just “Hey, I really liked this book.” please  review.

#5 Tell the author. Not just me, but any author whose work you enjoy.  A letter, and email, a facebook post, a tweet – doesn’t matter if you tie note to a carrier pigeon (though I would probably make Fodder remove it from the bird’s leg). Writing is hard. This business can be brutal, and no one is immune. With each book an author places a little piece of their soul on the page. If you like something you read, tell the author. Even the biggest names have bad days. Make someone’s day.

I’m asking for your help. I need your help. Please and thank you.

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Monday Mayhem – The Gift of Giving Up

This time of year, I’m always focused on what I want to accomplish next year. The list is always fairly lengthy. I won’t get to everything, but I will complete some things. As I get older, I find that accomplishing some things is more than enough. The things I don’t get done will shift to the following year’s list, and life will go on.

Opened personal organizer with a to do list.

Patience is one of life’s great lessons. I haven’t mastered it, but I am learning to embrace it. I’m also learning how to let things go. This year, I plan to carry over my list of anti-resolutions. Remember these?

Stop showing and telling everything to everyone.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Stop worrying about what others think of you.

Stop waiting.

Stop doubting.

Stop being a stranger.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Stop standing in your own way.

Stop feeling guilty.

Stop thinking money creates value.

Stop feeling obligated.

Stop saying yes all the time

Stop thinking everything is a competition.

Stop trying to be like everyone else.

Stop thinking you have to get it right on the first try.

I’ve discovered that the list of things I plan to stop doing is the very definition of a work in progress. Some days I’m better at them than others.

In 2018, I’m giving myself a different kind of gift: permission to give up.

Not writing, or my day job, or anything important. But the time has come for me to put some conscious effort into quitting things that do not make me feel good.

Almost seven years ago, I quit smoking. Now, just because I list that here, don’t think for one minute I didn’t love smoking. I did. I just didn’t like the way smoking made me feel. So, I screwed up my determination and quit.

This year, I plan to give up some other things that don’t make me feel good. The first I plan to attack will be my social media habit.

No, I won’t be disappearing entirely, but I will be limiting the time I spend absorbing other people’s thoughts and opinions.

I will be around to post pictures and chat about life in general, but I’m going to start sticking to topics of polite conversation: the weather, health, and…books.

How about you? Do you plan to be a quitter in 2018? What baggage will you be ditching?

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Monday Mayhem – The definition of…Sanity

The old saying about the definition of insanity really resonates with me. You know the one I mean – it’s usually attributed to Einstein, but no one really knows who said it first. Doesn’t really matter, it’s about as true as a sentiment can be.

I’ve been all over the place this week, trying new things. Some have worked, others are still works in progress, but I’m throwing things out there, hoping something sticks.

 

PLAY DATES has been released into the wild. Thank you all for a) buying it and b) the awesome reviews. They really do help, and I appreciate them all – good and the bad (I admit I tend to skim over the ugly).

There was a big special on SEDUCING STEVE this week. Thank you so much for helping me spread the word about it. It was fun to trot the yummy red-head out again.

I’m knee deep in my next project and loving it so far. I’m dictating most of it, and having a good time simply trying to be a storyteller. I’ll put my writer cap on later, and make it all spiffy. Right now, I’m just going with the flow in hopes of ramping it up in time to hit NaNoWriMo in full stride.

In the meantime, we can all look forward to seeing LOVE GAMES on the shelves in February 2018. Have you pre-ordered your copy(ies)?

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Monday Mayhem – Ooh and Om Edition

First, I want to thank you all for making the release of PLAY DATES so great. I have the best readers in the world!

Second, I want to wish all my Canadian friends a very happy Thanksgiving! I am so very thankful for you. And, I’d totally make you a plate of buttered toast, pretzels, jelly beans, and popcorn…basically my dream Thanksgiving dinner. Peppermint Patty was crazy to complain!

Third, I have a milestone to share. This week, I will celebrate a year of daily meditation. Despite my use of the Om (It Is, Will Be, or To Become) in this post’s title, I don’t chant when I meditate – at least not verbally. But, I have found that a quick 10 minute time out has made a huge difference in my life.

And believe me, I was a skeptic.

Though I always enjoyed the quiet time at the end of the yoga class, I’ve always viewed meditation as something too mystical – or worse, granola-y – for me to take seriously. But this time last year, I was stuck in a job I despised, feeling anxious about my writing, and generally tense and miserable. In other words, I was desperate.

I read an article that mentioned Calm.com and their free phone app. The article mentioned how grounded the program was in using meditation as a means to improve everyday life, not some far-fetched spiritual journey. I decided to give it a shot, and here’s what I discovered:

One breath, in and out. I could handle that. And all I had to do was concentrate on taking each breath as it came. By learning to do that, I learned to tackle my worries and stressors one at a time.

  • I left that miserable job for one that pays far less, and I don’t regret it one bit.
  • I spent time examining the motivation behind my writing and exploring the core themes of the stories I want to tell.
  • I discovered that no matter how busy I am, a 10-15 minute post-dinner puppy snuggle makes even the worst day a thousand times better.
  • And, I realized that there is absolutely nothing selfish or wrong about taking a few minutes out of the day to focus on myself and my state of mind.

I think the best we can do is to try to tune out the noise around us for a few minutes and focus inward. And when I do, I ask myself these questions:

  • Have I done everything I can do to make a difference?
  • Was I kind to someone today? Helpful? Accepting?
  • Did I make someone smile?
  • Did I ask for any help I might need?

Now, you may think the last one doesn’t fit, but I’d argue it absolutely does. I believe that we all want to contribute, even if it’s in the completion of a simple task. By asking for help, you are giving someone the opportunity to answer those first three questions affirmatively. So ultimately, by asking you are giving.

So, go into the world, give of yourselves and accept help from others. And, at the end of the day, remember to give yourself a break. We’re all going about this the same way – one breath in, one breath out.

Disclaimer: This may not work for everyone. Meditation makes Sally anxious.

 

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