Friday, July 28, 2017

Some People have Cats…

I think I might have a teensy little problem. Apparently I’m a calendar and charts kind of girl.

Some people have cats, I have a white board. Or four. And a day planner. Plus a handmade paper chart. But that’s only because I ran out of room on the whiteboards!

Okay, I get it. That doesn’t exactly help my case against being a crazy cat, er, whiteboard, lady.

But, in my defense, they’re all crucial to my process.

A process that is quickly evolving into something bigger.

In other words, I’m gonna need a bigger whiteboard.

See, when I freaked out on that other post, it prompted a long, hard look at my current state of things. Then Matt and I sat down and talked about all things career. Mine. His. Where we’re both heading and what it will likely take to get us there.

He wants to see me succeed as much as I want to see me succeed so we talked about increasing my advertising/marketing/publicity budget. Okay, to be fair, we actually talked about me having a budget to begin with.

As someone who doesn’t pull in a big income every month, and someone who feels like I’m bleeding money every time I start setting up a new book for sale, I always feel weird about spending more.

But, this market of authors is quite saturated and I need to remember that every day I go to my job. I need to get my name out there. Especially as a sole proprietor trying to build a business in a creative industry. The truth is, we have to spend money to make money in this world.

Even an office worker doesn’t get paid to go to and from their job. Car repairs, gas, food during the day, all of that comes out of the money they make for the job they do. Money they spend to get to work to make money.

So I tore apart my old marketing plan and developed a new plan. A good plan, I think. Again, still green to all this promotional stuff but the plan I developed for the next six months or so should help to keep a buzz going.

Hey, even one Africanized bee buzzes, it might be quieter than a swarm but swat at it and see how long it takes for that swarm to arrive. Am I right?

I’m using that mentality to approach my revived interest in marketing.

But with all new projects comes brainstorming, scheduling, a great need for organization. Hence, the corner full of erasable marker.

Okay, I’m not ashamed to admit it - I love whiteboards!

Because anything and everything can easily wipe away in an instant. In fact, as soon as I’m done with a task for the month, week, day, I take my eraser and clean the task off my calendar.


See ya!

I do that because I don’t like mental clutter and there’s plenty of that going on just having the boards up in the first place. I mean, you saw the picture in this post, right? When I can declutter my brain of looking at something I already finished, it frees me up to concentrate on the next task.

In any given day at work I rarely complete the same task two days in a row. True, I write almost every day but it isn’t even the same writing every day. Nor at the same time of day every day.

Thus, a room full of erasable surfaces.

So, the first whiteboard breaks down the current month by days and weeks.

The next is my advertising schedule and budget broken out into the next six months by week.

Below that is my big, blue, paper chart for tracking characters in my California Dreamin’ Series.

Next whiteboard is current book(s) in process (timeline, character development, general story notes) and a bunch of magnets I don’t know what to do with (plus the list of all sites where I need to update info on a new release and my list of beta readers).

Finally, I’ve got an eight month projection board where I list out all the stuff I need to do in a given month on books themselves (AKA: write it, send to betas, edit, etc.), giveaway schedules, free/other promotion schedules, and the rare days I will allow myself to completely disconnect from my job and take a damn vacation.

The day planner? That’s for personal stuff like actually making sure we leave the house occasionally (hockey, concerts), paying bills, seeing family, scheduling time with friends.

I’m ready. I’m organized. I’m maybe a bit over the top with my calendars and charts but, damn it, no scattered business owner ever made it very long. And after working out a realistic marketing and advertising budget for the next year, I fully intend to do everything I can to stick around as long as I can with my business.

Resolve renewed.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lighten it up with some Girlie Things

So, after my last post, I kind of got the feeling like people were concerned. For my safety, specifically.

Sorry to everyone who got scared, freaked out, etc. by the things I wrote. That wasn’t my intention and I just want to say the fact you reached out means a lot. Writing is my therapy, always has been, and perhaps that’s the first time you read something in that vein over here.

I want to clear the air and reboot a little bit because the concern actually shocked me. But then I went back and re-read the post and, yeah, I can see how some folks might have been wondering about my mental state.

I’m not, however, sorry for sharing the post because it was something (is something) I felt needed off my chest and in a very publicly shared way.

You should probably know that my mental state is basically fucked all the time.

No exaggeration, I pretty much think like that most days at some point or another. A common occurrence since I was ten or eleven years old. I call it the curse of the creative.

I need to feel things. Everything. Enhanced emotions are what keep me working. When’s the last time you read a book where the characters never experienced anything? Never cried, screamed, flung their arms around the one they love to tackle them to the floor?


I tap into my highs and lows on a daily basis in order to craft my worlds.

Last week’s blog post was a reflection of that deep seeded personality trait bubbling up into my world. That’s all. I swear, if you pulled out my journals from any year of my life since age 14 you would be amazed at how much of that super dark shit comes out.

I don’t often share that kind of raw emotion over here but on that particular day it was something I felt I needed to do.

I’m not defending it, don’t feel I owe anyone an explanation per se but I at least wanted everyone to know that I am a-okay.

But you should also know that I still feel the same. Still frustrated, still a bit lost. But I will find my way and appreciate all the hands I have to hold on the way. Love you all!

Now, in an effort to flip-flop right over to the other side of my self-diagnosed bipolarity, I thought it would be fun to share something here that I haven’t done in a long time.

Nail art! (See ya dudes…)

I’ve been getting back into it lately, watching (read: binging like a zombie) YouTube videos about anything and everything under the sun. So last week while I was working on this manicure:

I decided to give a bunch of different styles a little practice. Since I have a silicone nail art mat I decided all of the designs would be something I could lay down to save until I did my mani this week. And it worked to create a skittle manicure (meaning all fingers are different).

I’m calling it Cohesive Color Chaos.

None of them came out perfect, far from it, but I had a lot of fun creating each of the designs, keeping an eye on the color theory of the full manicure, making sure the two hands were balanced (for example, if I did a white/teal/iridescent on one hand I did the same on the other in a different design), and learning which are my favorite techniques.

So far, I’m not a big fan of water marbling, am only a partial fan of freehand, and love stamping.

Without further ado, here’s the mani in full detail by finger then a mashup of the two hands so you can see what it looks like all together.

First, here’s the mat with most of the self-created decals laid down.

The two on my pinky fingers were supposed to be those pink and white ones but they crumbled a bit and I had to use some backups.

Now here are the nails as I see them, from left to right, starting with the pinky on my left hand.

Drag marble


Stamped flamingoes

Water marble with glow in the dark

Freehand sunglasses and letters

Stamped sunglasses

More attempts at water marble

Freehand flamingo with acrylic paints

Drag marble

Smoosh marble

And here are both hands side-by-side. What do you think?

Personally? I love the mani, not as thrilled with my application. Some of them are already starting to peel up in the corners (applied Saturday) and I’m sure it’s because my nails are so C curved that the decal just didn’t bond with the base coat of polish I laid down.

No biggie, I’ll keep practicing and get better at some of these techniques.

Bottom line, this fun, upbeat girl is who I am today (and every day). It’s just that some days she has to let the darkness surface.

Just like nail polish, I have to let something sucky take the lead every once in a while and share that fail with the world. Because that lets me remove the layers and get back to my natural starting point. The clean slate of my nails and my brain.


• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Contract Extension

Did you know I’ve been doing this full-time writing thing for five years? That’s right, five whole years have expired into the abyss of stringing letters together, directly under my fingertips.

My first (and presently, only) novel, Ripple the Twine, dropped in 2012. My first born. My baby. Also, my problem child.

Because that book is awful but it became the foundation I built my career on top of like a card house in a tornado.

I rushed it into production and publishing because I wanted to get it out there. And I got it out there to so many people. People who promptly judged my abilities. And, in the eyes of the general public, those abilities sucked.

I’d been working on the thing since NaNoWriMo in 2009. Three years of character and story development.

Three years of forcing something I’d never done before – typing The End on a full-length story.

And, quite honestly, I was tired of looking at it. Tired of thinking about it. Tired of trying to make it perfect because I didn’t have a freaking clue how to do that and was too broke to hire the help I needed to make it better.

I didn’t know how to edit a book. Because I’d never done it before. I didn’t know that nobody wants to read a story with no real purpose other than to tell a story. That characters need extra motivation these days. And by extra I mean that telling a story about four people simply living a snippet of their lives isn’t enough anymore.

That first kisses are out and bondage is in. That cute and sweet equates to snooze and forget. How was I supposed to know that a girl falling in love just doesn’t carry a story these days?

It’s boring. It’s not enough punch to force anyone to want to read it. People want action, drama, challenges that write a writer into a corner they have to force their characters to claw their way out of because it’s the only way to survive.

Sex. Murder. Controversy.

No matter how many sharks are leapt over in the process.

People don’t want to read cute stories about tomboys and their random friends.

At least, not the one I wrote. Because, I’ll say it again, the book is awful.

Ripple needed about two more rounds of professional edits, a different lead character, and three (read: 11) shots of vodka if it was ever going to do the thing I wanted it to do.

Which, if you’ve been reading my blog for more than a minute, you know that “thing” was: propel me into a full-time career as a book writer.

Okay, to be fair I am working full-time as a book writer. So maybe that’s the wrong choice of words.

What I meant to say is: Ripple needed to propel me into an agented life of glamourous Hollywood parties that I was invited to simply because I wrote the book of the century.

Okay, I’m literally laughing at myself. That’s a stretch even by my deluded standards of how awesome and relevant I am to the entertainment world.

But I did think someone with some kind of clout would read it, review it, love it, and start telling their friends so I’d be able to write books for a living. That, out of the BILLIONS of people on the planet I might be able to find, like, 50,000 super fans who would gobble up everything I’ve ever written.

That’s literally only like .008% of the entire world’s population or some other math equation that, when written out with words, equates to fucking tiny in the grand scheme.

With a tiny number of fans (read: huge to me), I could MAKE A LIVING at my long-hours, mental bullshit, trapped alone most of the time, career.

What I failed to factor about my plan for glory is that the book sucked. I knew it. Friends and family (sweet as they were about telling me they enjoyed it) knew it.

I wasn’t getting “famous” on that piece of crap.

So, what did I do?

I went and wrote another book. Duh. Because that’s what book writers do when faced with a terrible book. They just keep writing.

And my second child was a much better book.

A book with murder, mayhem, tension, both plot and sexual.

One with a broken-hearted but still slightly rational female main character, tossed (by page three) into a totally irrational and heart-pounding situation.

And, not to entirely toot my own horn or anything but, Reckless Abandon is a good fucking book. Finally, I had written the thing I wanted to write all along. A good book. A marketable book. A book that would bust open a series. One that could sustain my writing life for years to come.

That book also dropped in 2012. So, as far as I’m concerned, we can all just forget about the first book and pretend Abandon is book one, right?

Because, after writing and releasing that book I made a promise to myself. Hell, I developed an entire business plan around a promise to myself.

I was giving myself five years and then, if things didn’t show signs of major traction, I would go back to writing as a “cute little hobby” instead of a career and go get a soul-sucking job.

Because, you know, bills don’t go away just because a girl has a dream.

Reality is, I can’t afford to have dreams now.

October marks five years since Abandon hit the market.


Here I am, three months away from my self-imposed deadline for glory and where am I at?

Well, truth told I feel like something is happening. I mean, for the past 17 or so months I’ve made a royalty every single month. So that’s something, right?

Is it paying the mortgage? Hell no.

But is it more realistic than my delusion back on April 21, 2012 when I envisioned opening my email to a notice that thousands of copies of my first book magically sold overnight?

Hell yes.

But, because I want to make a real living as a writer a few things have been bugging me lately.

First, I still don’t know how to do any of this shit aside from the writing.

Talking about marketing of course.

And, truth be told, that's really the only thing bugging me right now. I’ve been blogging here for ten years this October but what has it gotten me besides therapy? Is it moving my career forward? I don’t think so. And all the marketing pros would tell me that means every time I write a post I’m wasting time.

So what should I be doing instead, then, huh?

I’ve tried putting myself out there on all the social networks and connecting to people who might be my readers (fail), tried starting a writing-advice-by-writers-for-writers business with a fellow writer (fail), tried amping up the advice on my website (fail, see a trend?).

And I came to quickly realize that I suck at all that shit too. Because, just like my books, I don’t know how to tell people about any of it. At least, not the right people. I don’t know how to get it out there.

Yet I just keep wasting time doing it all as if in some magical universe somehow it all makes any kind of difference. Like a stupid dreamer.

It’s funny. I know people (AKA: authors who actually make a living as writers) would be horrified to read this post – “oh my god what a whiny bitch complaining that she gets to live a life as a full-time writer and telling people all this truth about her life and career, doesn’t she know you’re supposed to fake it until you make it these days?”

To a point, I agree. However, the only people who actually read this blog are the four people in my family who already know all of this shit anyway so I seriously doubt anyone will gasp in surprise at my admissions.

Anyway, there’s another new title releasing in September – 30 Chapters in 30 Days and then I’ll wrap up this year with the 3rd book in my California Dreamin’ Series hitting shelves in late November.

After that, I’m just not sure what to do anymore.

I’ve been writing so long it’s a personality trait so the likelihood of entirely giving it up is slim. But I can’t work this many hours a week for free anymore. I just can’t. My worth as a person, a human, is waning big time with every minute I bang my head against the keyboard so I can rejoice at my $2.76 royalty check at the end of the month.

This is literally not fulfilling.

Because the writing isn’t the thing I’m bad at. It’s promoting the writing. It’s selling the books. But I don’t know how to do it so I’m definitely stuck.

I’d love to ask everyone to tell their friends, review my books, but, again, the four people who read this blog have already done that in SPADES and I love them for it like I can’t even express. But that doesn’t get me 50,000 super fans.

That doesn’t make this a career. It makes this a very long break from reality.

I literally don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not going to be a writer. And that might sound like drama but it’s true. Nothing ever made me feel like I was doing the right thing before.

The problem is that all those other things paid me to be their bitch. And I really like to eat, have a roof over my head, all that shit that a person actually needs money for in this real world.

I honestly don’t mean this to be a pity party, it isn’t like that, more of an affirmation that I’m giving myself a year extension. If I don’t see major (I mean fucking MAJOR) improvement in my writing to income ratio by next fall then I might just release this dream and be done with it all.

Because, sometimes, dreams are just stupid.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.