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 – 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 – 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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Monday Mayhem – Fresh Starts

I’m still working on finishing the draft of Easy Bake Lovin’ (Play Dates #2), but with the start of the Build a Book 365 day challenge I gave myself permission to play with one of the Silver Fox ideas I have rattling around in my head.

Meet Leonardo Sbaraglia. He doesn’t know it, but he’s currently serving as my hero inspiration. I promise, I will try to do him right. Ahem. I mean do right by him.

Finding photographs of heroes and heroines who fit the images in my head is not always easy, but I knew the minute I saw him, he was my man. More specifically, the man to model my hero, Dominic Mann on.

I’ll be sharing pictures of people who remind me of my characters as the year progresses. We have a lot of books coming in 2017-2018. I hope you’re ready to meet them all!

How about you? Do you picture famous people portraying the heroes and heroines as you read? Care to share some thoughts?

News and notes:

In case you missed it, LOVE & ROCKETS received another fabulous 5 star review! This one from Epilogue Book Blog. Check it out!

Also, GOING DEEP (Coastal Heat #1) and A WILL AND A WAY (Worth the Wait Romance) are both on sale for $0.99! Tell your friends!

Snowed in? Give LONG DISTANCE LOVE a shot. You won’t regret getting to know Jack and Ellie better!

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – My stories, at the core

Last week, I asked what you expect when you open one of my books. Your responses were so moving. Thank you. You let me know that I am indeed already hitting some of the key points in what I want to write.

I spent a lot of time in 2016 examining my work, and trying to identify the elements I think are essential to what I wanted to say – what’s known as a writer’s core story.

(This may freak those of you who know me out, but I’m posting a picture of fruit:)

Trying to suss out one’s core story it a little like nibbling at an apple (or so I hear). I started with reviewing some of my books and works in progress as a whole, then began to examine certain elements in small bites. When I got down to the center, I had a better handle on the parts that were so important to me that they re-appear in novel after novel.

Here’s what I think my core story is:

Heroines: Powerful, independent, unapologetically sex positive, and feminist. Their journeys mostly involve examining, adjusting, and reestablishing their expectations of life and love.

Heroes: Confident and strong, but not the stereotypical Alpha male. They appreciate complex women and are up to the challenge.

My emphasis is almost always on character growth and reinvestment in themselves. In my books, women are not always relationship seekers and men do not necessarily flee from commitment.

Humor will always be an important part of my writing. I require moments of it in all forms of entertainment – even the most gut-wrenching dramas. To swipe a quote from Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” It’s true. If I can move a reader to one or both-or even at the same time-I consider it a win.

So how did my vision match up with your expectations?

Well, we got the humor bit down. A couple of you mentioned tears, strong heroines, and guys who are up for meeting their match, so I must be doing some things right.

This is the interesting thing about being a writer. The themes we tackle in our work grow and evolve as we do. If you’d asked me in 2011 if I considered myself a feminist, I may have hemmed and hawed a bit, shying away from the label. Now, I wear it proudly. Sex-positive? I never really thought much about how we view and judge female sexuality. The norms and constraints simply were what they were. Yeah, um, no.

But we’ll talk more about those topics in another post.

My point is, life is all about evolution. Conscious or subconscious, I’ve been seeing some shifts in my own work over the last year or two. Thanks so much for your replies last week. Your feedback is vital to me. After all, I’m telling these stories in hopes that you will connect with them.

As we type, I’m working on a few different things. I have sent the first book in the upcoming Play Dates series to the fabulous Julie Evelyn Joyce for critique. I’m inching my way toward the end of the draft on book #2 and hope to have it done by the end of the month.

Just for fun, I’m participating in a 1 page per day challenge for 2017, and for that I’m playing with something entirely different. There are a bunch of current and aspiring authors participating. It’s not too late to join in. There’s also a super secret Facebook group where we babble about what we’re doing. If you want to participate, tag me. 🙂

So now you know what I think I should be writing. This time I’ll ask a different question: How do you think I’m measuring up? Are there areas where you (as a reader) think I’m falling short? Maybe one or two where I hit it out of the park?

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Monday Mayhem – The heart of the matter

Welcome 2017! I’m making an effort to start the new year off with positivity. So far, it’s been pretty easy since I’ve been in my favorite place (home), with my favorite person (Fodder), doing my favorite things (a little writing, a little reading, making some chicken salad, taking a nap). I’m really good at napping. And, as my new author shots prove, hanging off lamp posts:

2017 marks my fifth year of blogging. Yep. If you check the sidebar, you will see that I type the truth. The archive dates back to January 2012.

It’s pretty much been five years of my checking in once a week or so and babbling at you. Well, I plan to continue to do so, but I do think I’m going to make a couple of minor tweaks. I still plan to let you know what I’ve been up to over the course of the week, share writing news, and dish out a little personal TMI, but I want to try to make my posts more topical.

2016 was a year of upheaval for me and for many people I know. Like many, I turned inward. I spent a good deal more time in introspection, trying to sort out what’s important to me, and how I plan to proceed in the midst of the social-political chaos that’s swirls around us now.

In the coming months, you’ll probably hear more from me on more serious topics than those we’ve discussed before. These are the bits of me that have been stealthily weaving their threads into my stories without me really realizing it.

I’ve stopped telling people that I write contemporary romance with a lot of kissing and stuff. Of course, I do, but that’s not what I think is at the heart of my stories anymore. You’ll probably be hearing a lot from me about my ‘core story’ in the coming months. By core story, I mean the common themes that you, as a reader, can expect to find in any Margaret Ethridge/Maggie Wells novel.

 

But before I start telling you what I think they are, I’d be curious to know what your expectations are when you open one of my books. I’m not looking for flattery (though I am open to it), just your initial reaction/expectation when you hear that I have a new book available.

I look forward hearing what you have to say, as well as sharing my thoughts with you, but for now, I hope that your 2016 at least had a happy ending, and here’s to a passel more happily ever after in 2017 and beyond!

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Monday Mayhem – Sprinting

It’s going to be a bust week!

First off…did you see this?

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Pretty, huh? Mark your calendars for April 4, 2017 or pre-order now at your favorite e-tailer!

Secondly, FLIP THIS LOVE is on sale for $.99 this month!

Nothing draws a magnate like a steel magnolia...

Third – I’m giving away this adorable journal to one of my newsletter subscribers. If you aren’t on my list, enter your email address in the space on the sidebar >>>>>

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FOURTH!!! I’m sprinting to hit deadlines this week. I’m polishing up RANSOMED HEART (Silver Foxes #2, 2018) and scrambling to complete a novella for submission. Wish me luck!

And fifth – If I’m not downing a fifth of something boozy by the end of the week, it’ll be a miracle.

How about you? What’s happening in your corner of the world?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Fielding curveballs

So yeah, busy, busy week!

Received first round edits on A BOLT FROM THE BLUE from editor and she LOVED it! Yay! Always such a relief. Particularly this time, because I had to turn this story around so quickly. The only other person who has seen it is Jewels, and we all know she’ll say anything for a PayDay bar.

As with every manuscript, I had one word in particular I abused until my intrepid editor screamed for mercy. This time, I was enamored with the word ‘it’. We won’t talk about how times I had to rework it.

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The back cover copy isn’t officially official, and there’s no cover art yet, but here is a sneak peek at what they’ve cooked up so far:

True love, like lightning, never strikes twice—or does it? 

As a free-spirited young woman, Hope Elliot was desperate to escape her snobbish high society family. So she ran off to Paris, where she lived for twenty-five years. Now widowed, she’s come home to settle her family’s massive lakefront estate. But before she can put her mother’s house on the market, it needs a major renovation. Enter master electrician Mick McInnes, a traditional guy who’s about to turn her life upside down . . .

Aside from the fact that Mick is hopelessly attracted to his latest client, Hope represents everything he doesn’t want in a woman. She’s ridiculously rich and adventurous, yet she doesn’t seem to know much about the real world. Besides, his policy is to never get involved with clients. But he can’t seem to resist the Chicago heiress’s sizzling advances—and soon enough finds himself in her bed, feeling like a teenager once again. And like teenagers, the two of them will just have to convince their families that opposites can not only attract, but they can also make the perfect match . . .

Then Wednesday, the big news about my new deal with Sourcebooks broke in Publisher’s Marketplace:

Sourcebooks

Whoo hoo! Danny and Kate will be coming to you digitally and in mass market paperback next fall! Just in time for college football season!

While I was celebrating the announcement, I couldn’t help thinking about how happy my mom would have been to hear that some of my books will be shelved in brick and mortar stores. Thursday marked six months since her passing, and while I try not to dwell on sadness, I’m all too aware that I am still grieving.

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It has been quite a year. More downs than ups. It seems that all year long my family and friends have been dealing with hefty doses of sadness, topped with mountains of worry. But through it all, we laugh and tease and do what we can to lighten the load a bit. There are days, and then there are days, you know? But, as Mom would have reminded us, this too shall pass. On her repeated instruction, I’m trying very hard not to let my little heart grow weary.

Throughout the week, I’ve watched the Olympics. While I’m not crazy about NBC’s coverage, I never tire of hearing the athletes’ stories. I have also been working on a magazine article and a short story I hope to submit for an anthology. It’s a bit of a cat and mouse caper, and I hope it plays out well.

This week, I clean house because company is coming! Be on the lookout for photos of our antics next Monday!

What’s on your agenda this week?

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