Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My 2019 Writing Goals - Making It Work

This might be a little late for a start of the year post about my goals, but that's all right. I'm taking it easier on myself. Last year was rough, and for the sake of my health, I need to be kinder to myself in 2019.

I'm not going to pretend that I will find the perfect balance this year. What I will try to do is be okay with that. Easier said than done, I know!

I've been giving a lot of thought about what I want to do this year. My first instinct is: I WANT TO DO IT ALL! My first instinct is highly ambitious and unrealistic. Someone ought to give it a talk.

Nothing has lessened my drive to want to do all I can do, to make myself better, to release tons of stories into the world. So to satisfy that drive, I will make this the year of little steps. One little thing a day for my career. It might not be writing. It could be just tweeting or blogging or critiquing. They're all small things, but add up a whole year of them, that's huge!

Here are the goals I want to accomplish:

1. Finish writing and publish Of Death and Sorrow. This will be the only major project for my name. I already have 25,000 words down, and it's going to be a big book. I won't be setting a deadline. I will give the story as much time as it needs. I will give me as much time as I need.

2. Write two books for my pen name. Last year I published two. (I wrote 69,000 words in four weeks to be able to release one novel by Christmas!) Writing for my pen name is much easier than what I write for my own name. I'm following tropes, and the stories are light and fun. Two isn't unrealistic.

3. Blog twice a month. While I've been keeping up with posting, I haven't been very good at visiting blogs in the latter half of last year. I want that to change. If I only post twice a month, it will give me time to visit your blogs. That makes me happy.

I'm also happy to welcome writers to guest post on my blog. I already have two terrific guests lined up for February and March. If you'd like to take over my blog for a day, please email me ( ).

4. Spend less time marketing. I got into the habit of using my entire mornings to work on social media, email, marketing research, etc. I put in a lot of effort and got little back. As proven through my experience with my pen name, I don't need to spend a lot of time marketing to get the same results. Less time spent doing that means more time for writing. Because as a writer, that should be my focus.

5. Get up and move more often. This old body isn't tolerating hours spent sitting in front of the computer anymore. Even if I just go fold some laundry or do the dishes, I'm away from the computer and shaking out the stiffness.

6. Read and review 100 books. I made my goal last year, and I'm excited to do so this year!

I will not say my WANT TO DO IT ALL instinct won't push me at times, but I hope to keep it more check.

Here's to a great 2019 for all of us!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

#IWSG for January 2019

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

This month's awesome co-hosts are:  Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

This month's optional question: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

Favorite: What is your book about?

Least favorite: It must be wonderful being a writer and working from home. What do you do with all your free time?

Free time?! What free time? There aren't enough hours in a day to do everything I need to do for my writing career.

It frustrates me even more when people believe that being a writer is just a hobby and not a serious career. They think I'm a stay-at-home mom who spends too much time on the computer.

I hope this year I can create a schedule that will help with my time issues. Writing must come first. I have cut back on blogging some, but I don't want to give it up fully. I enjoy the community way too much. You guys are awesome!

I can't wait to read what questions you guys have faced as authors. I won't be able to get around to everybody until next week, though. My son is still on break until Monday.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019!

Wishing you all the best in 2019!

There are a few more days to get in on the Untethered Realms Yuletide Spectacular! Six free books and a giveaway.

I'll see you tomorrow for January's IWSG. I need to lay out my goals and schedule for the year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Freebies for Christmas!

Happy Christmas from my family to yours!

I'm ending this year with lots of freebies and a fun interactive game to win my newest urban fantasy, Of Gods and Sorrow on Twitter with #IndieFeature. Starting tomorrow and going through January 2nd, @IndieFeature will be posting a question a day with a teaser from my novel. They're easy questions like sharing a memory or your favorite something. It's participation that gets you points! #IndieFeature is a fantastic way to find great indie authors and gain a chance to win their books.

And here are the free books!

The Untethered Realms Yuletide Spectacular is still going on. Of Blood and Sorrow is free along with five other amazing stories. Plus there's a giveaway!

Today through the 29th, my sexy paranormal romance trilogy, The Paramours is free.

(Click the image to go to the Amazon page.)

On the 28th through January 1st, my hilarious and geeky erotic series, Dice & Debauchery is free.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Holiday Break along with a guest post!

It's almost time for my holiday break. I plan to do plenty of sleeping and reading for the rest of the month.

Today I'm visiting the wonderful Susan Gourley's blog. Please pop on over and say hello. I'll be sharing a few tips of how to get in some writing and reading over the holidays.

I've been busy writing a holiday story for my pen name these past three weeks, and it grew from a short story into a short novel. Yikes! I need to keep writing and editing to get it out in time.

Please don't forget the Untethered Realms Yuletide Spectacular. It goes through to January 3rd. Six free books and a great giveaway!

And if you're into a different sort of holiday story, I have a sci-fi flash fiction piece coming out on the 23rd in Flash Fiction Magazine. It's called "The Holiday" (original, I know!).

May you all have a happy holiday season!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

#IWSG for December 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

This month's awesome co-hosts are: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker , Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

This month's optional question: What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

1. A big cup of water. I drink A LOT of water. Sometimes I flavor the water, but I don't drink anything else during the day.
2. Paper. Be it notebooks or scraps or whatever is lying about. I've gotten better about writing stuff down so I don't forget.
3. Pencils. I do have lots of pens too, but I write notes in pencil because my brain works faster than my hand, and I need to erase a lot.
4. The TARDIS. Several of them, in fact! A model, a lamp, a stocking, and string lights.
5. My cat. Well, I guess I can't include him as an object. His cat cube is to my right under the window. That's where he spends most days while I'm working.

This month's insecurities: Always it's about time. I just don't have enough of it. I'm far behind on everything I want to do. I know I should change my expectations of what I can do, but I always stretch beyond. On one hand, it's highly motivating. On the other, frustrating. The new year will have to come with some changes or the few white hairs I have will become a whole head of them!

How have you been over the past month? Anyone develop a time turner yet?

* * * * *

Untethered Realms wants to stuff your e-readers full of great reads this holiday season. Free ebooks and a giveaway! You can find my urban fantasy, Of Blood and Sorrow for free there. Click on the image and enjoy some awesome books.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Word Witch Wednesday - pen name vs. real name

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but I've fallen behind with my writing schedule. Where has this year gone? I had hoped to have two books out for my pen name and two for me, but I've only gotten one out for each. So this comparison will be based just on this year.

I decided to write under a pen name with a specific audience in mind hoping it would be easier to market. And it was.

Pen name: reverse harem fantasy romance (RHFR)
Me: paranormal romance and urban fantasy (short stories of every genre)

It is easier to market a very specific genre if you know where to find your audience. I knew exactly where the RHFR audience was and what they liked.

It is so much more difficult to market yourself as an author if you write multiple genres.

Romance is one of the easiest genres to promote, because the readers aren't so discerning and eat up books fast. Urban fantasy and speculative fiction are difficult, because readers are very discerning and take their time with books.

Pen name: markets primarily on Facebook and with a newsletter
Me: Facebook, Twitter, a blog, and a newsletter

The RHFR audience is found mainly on Facebook. There are lots of groups with huge followings, and they spread their favorite reads by word of mouth like lightning. Promotion takes very little time each day. (Ten minutes usually.)

I spend way too long every weekday promoting myself. Usually it takes my entire morning. (Three hours.) I tell myself to cut back to an hour, but I feel guilty when I do. I also feel much of what I do does not make a difference, and I'm only nurturing the audience I already have. Which is important, but finding new readers is just as vital, and I don't seem to be having much luck in that area. I'm struggling with finding a way to do so.

Pen name: story is fun, light, full of tropes, and doesn't involve much thinking
Me: story is dark, snarky, twisting tropes, and full of thoughtful things

Readers love my pen name's debut novel. It has a strong heroine and involves a mix of myths. I purposely wrote it with popular romance tropes laid on thick. It was exactly what readers wanted.

My books, well, strong heroines and myths, but I try to twist around tropes. Is that why I have very little success?

Pen name: I had fun writing the book. It was easy and quick.
Me: I have fun writing my own books too. None are easy and only a few were quick.

While I did enjoy writing romance filled with tropes, it wasn't as fulfilling in the way writing my own books is. Writing my dark urban fantasy, every story challenges me. I believe with each book, I become a better writer because I push myself through these challenges.

I have considered just writing for my pen name as she has enjoyed more financial success, but I'm concerned that doing so would not help me grow as a writer. I have known some authors who started writing under pen names, and when they achieved success with them, they abandoned their own names. They also abandoned writing what they love. The quality of their stories has not gotten better, and in a few cases, it has gotten worse.

Lessons learned:
- writing and marketing toward a very specific audience is a good strategy.
- readers want the popular tropes. Don't be afraid to use them.
- some promotion is needed to the genre specific audience. (I have to cut back on the time I spend on it.)
- write what you love, even if it's not making you a best seller.

I will continue to write for my pen name. It's a nice change between the darker stuff I write for me. Yet it won't be my main focus. I still want to go the dark urban fantasy route. I know I've chosen the more difficult road. And I don't know where it will go, or if I will even get close to the dreams I have for myself, but the journey so far has been wonderful. I can't wait to see what else it has in store for me.

I'm curious about other writers' experiences with writing under two different names. Please share in the comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and family. I'll be back in December for the IWSG!