This month I’m participating in Free Kindle Giveaway, along with The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos and Diving Into Him (South of Forever, Book 1).
If you aren’t already familiar with Free Kindle Giveaway, they are a company that promotes books AND their authors! Readers join their list for great deals as well as opportunities to connect with amazing authors…while also having the chance to participate in monthly giveaways! There are a variety prizes, but most often the winner has a choice between $100 PayPal Cash or a Kindle Fire! But for this special giveaway, Free Kindle Giveaway is giving away 100 dollars (or a Kindle Fire) AND 100 ebooks while telling you about 100 special ebook deals. It’s the 100/100/100 Giveaway! Learn More About the Prizes Below, or Go Here to Enter to win:
One thing I’ve always wanted to do is document my writing process from start to finish. I get a lot of emails asking for advice and although I do my best, I always feel like I have more to say. I’ve been writing novels for over a decade now and the whole process is still fascinating to me. At this point, I feel like I have a pretty solid process, but there’s always room for growth.
(Also, I feel like I’ve used the word “process” nineteen times now, but there’s really no better word. Looks like my editor hasn’t completely broken me of my dirty repetition habit. 😂)
So first, let me say that I’m a plotter and a pantser. I’ll explain as we go. Because I’m a Virgo, I have a thing for organization, but I’m also a big believer in letting the characters and novel lead the way. I’m a control freak but in my writing I’ve accepted that I’m not really in charge.
Very rarely do I ever actively craft a plot. It pretty much always lands on me. Actually, it’s usually more like a character is born in an instant and everything else falls into place. This is the first time I’ve ever purposely hunted an idea and then created characters.
If you’ve been reading my books for a while, you know I tend to write about heavy subjects and balance it out with “a prevailing sense of hope,” as my friend Robin calls it. This is mostly because writing is my therapy; it’s how I make sense of my world. I’ve been wanting to write a more conventional, light romance for a while now. Turns out this is actually really hard for me.
My plan was actually to finish writing the South of Forever series and then finish up the Comes in Threes series before I started anything new. I stumbled through SOF #3 but finished it. Then I had to start the fourth and final book, and I kept freezing. I know what I want for that book. I know the main character almost better than I know myself. And I know that I need to write her story. It took me a while to realize that I just need more time.
In the meantime, my therapist challenged me to write a light romance. (Side note: Even if you have no mental health issues, therapists make excellent career coaches.) Since this is completely new territory for me, I started off by researching conventional romance tropes. I knew of them but had never really used them; though my previous work has a lot of romantic elements, it’s all character driven. The love story was always a secondary plot.
I started off by writing down all of the tropes I enjoy as a reader or that sparked something in me as a writer. After giving my mind some time to percolate, I went through my list and added stars to the ones that I thought might work well together. Then I gave it more air. I’m a big believer in not forcing things. I found my mind occasionally drifting to it, and let it kind of simmer on the back burner while I worked on the re-release of The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos.
I didn’t have names for any of my characters yet, but I knew from the beginning that the POV (point of view) was going to alternate between my heroine and hero. Little details occurred to me while I did mindless tasks like washing the dishes: heroine has some sort of conflict with her family, moves out of state to go to college and start over; hero becomes the head of his family at a young age, unknowingly steals heroine’s dream job. Slowly I was able to shape these things into a plot.
This is my working blurb:
Rowan isn’t just having a bad day—she’s having a bad life. She left home to escape her awful family, but when her aunt—the only one who was ever kind to her—passes away, she returns for the funeral. It’s bad enough that she has to deal with her family, but on top of it, the guy who stole her dream job shows up.
Matthew only wanted to attend his boss’s funeral. He wasn’t counting on Rowan, the girl whose job he stole, showing up. She’s been living out of state for the last few months, but now it looks like she’s about to be his new boss. If he loses his job, his mom and little brother will be homeless, so it looks like he’s going to have to suck it up.
Forced to work together, Rowan and Matthew discover they have even more in common than they thought. It doesn’t take long before they realize they’re attracted to each other. It’ll never work, though. No way.
What do you think?
Next up: I’ll talk about naming characters and developing them into real people.
I can hardly believe that 2015 is almost over—yet I’m also relieved.
This year went by fast. In a way, I guess it was kind of like ripping off a Band Aid. I’ve now been writing full-time for a full year. It wasn’t what I’d planned; it just kind of happened. And although I’ve yet to make a full-time income, I’ve learned a lot about the business and myself. I wrote several novels and released a couple, too. I spent a lot of time evaluating my plan and changing things up. Literally nothing went the way I thought it would. Not that that’s a bad thing. Halfway through the year, I got picked up by a publisher.
Aside from writing, I spent much of this year battling depression. I’m actually kind of ashamed to talk about this. Turns out, it was a combination of trauma and poorly handled meds. I’ve most likely been struggling with PTSD all these years, which explains why antidepressants only make me feel worse. There’s nothing chemical about my depression, but as a result of multiple traumas, I’ve been trapped in certain behaviors and coping methods. (For example, I beat up on myself and withdraw.) Even worse, I’ve dealt with a lot of so-called professionals over the years who only made things worse for me.
Someday I want to share my story. I don’t really want to be anyone’s poster girl, but I long to be understood.
In a lot of ways, 2015 was about getting hopelessly lost and then finding my way back to myself.
Some good things happened this year, too. I finally got a diagnosis: enthesitis-related arthritis, probably reactive arthritis. (My rheumatologist thinks the medication I’m on will get rid of it completely. I’m not getting my hopes up, but my fingers are crossed.) Mike and I moved out of my parents’ and into our first apartment in a cute little town.
Already, 2016 is shaping up to be my year.
My Goals for 2016
I still want to be a full-time novelist. I’ve been writing professionally for four years now. My best production year was 2014; I slowed down a lot last year. In 2016, I’m aiming to release something new every 2-3 months. In February, my publisher Booktrope will be re-releasing The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos. Then, sometime during the spring, my team and I will be publishing the first two books in the South of Forever series. Diving Into Him will be getting a facelift and Savannah’s Song will be released for the very first time. I know a lot of you have been waiting for this, and I’m super excited to finally give it to you! The rest of the South of Forever series will be released as 2016 progresses.
In the meantime, I’d like to write six new novels. Currently I’m doing pre-production for a standalone romance that I plan to start writing in January. Ideally, I’d like to arrange my schedule so that I’m writing a complete novel in roughly four weeks, taking a week to refill the well, using another week to edit a previously completed first draft, then spend another week or two on pre-production for the next novel. Now that I have a publisher and creative team behind me, I’m confident that I can pull this off. It’s basically what I was doing when I was self-publishing, only a little faster.
I don’t want to write my year away, though.
I’ve fallen absolutely in love with the little town we moved to. Though I’m an introvert, I’d really like to get more involved. I’ve kind of been toying with the idea of joining a social club.
I’d also like to read a lot more books. I spent a lot of 2015 doing and though I read quite a bit—I even re-read several older books—I’ve been making an effort to read even more. I enjoy a little bit of everything, so let me know if you have any recommendations! I’m especially looking to read more NA. (Some that I really enjoyed: Scorched by Jennifer Armentrout, Cam Girl by Leah Raeder, and As You Breathe Again by Molli Moran—my super awesome critique partner.)
I’m also working on practicing acceptance. When it comes to trauma, I’m really good at placing it in a box. But denying it only brings more heartache. Accepting trauma, to me, means just acknowledging those feelings. There are a lot of nights where I lay awake, in this sort of frozen mode where the fear starts to take over. Sometimes I’m really angry. And a million other feelings. I’ve been working on being more kind to myself and telling myself it’s okay to feel however I feel.
My work is cut out for me in 2016.
It’s going to be my year.
What are your goals for 2016? Leave a comment and let me know!
It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling these last few months—especially financially. Being in the hospital cost me valuable marketing time. My income tanked, to be honest. I’ve been trying to catch up on bills and get back into the swing of things. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m on my way. (I’m even writing a new book! More about that later.)
Last week, my husband came home from work with the mail. It’s almost always junk and bills, but some Christmas cards have been trickling in. Buried in the stack was an envelope, handwritten, addressed to me—no return address. I opened it up, expecting another Christmas card, giddy with the warmth of the season. It was a card, but what was inside shocked me.
Money tumbled out. On the card, handwritten, was the word “Enjoy!”
Santa came early.
I immediately started to worry. I didn’t feel comfortable taking someone’s money. It just wasn’t right. But there was no one to argue with. I couldn’t even thank them.
I scrutinized the handwriting. I thought it looked vaguely familiar, but I’m no expert. I asked a few family members to see if anyone knew anything about it. None of them knew what I was talking about.
They all had a gentle laugh at my stubbornness, then suggested I simply pay it forward.
I’ve been racking my brain, trying to think of something good. And I think I’ve finally got it. But first, if my Santa is reading this, thank you. You are so sweet. You made me smile. I took your advice to heart; I got myself a little gift, and used the rest to pay off some bills. Now there’s one more thing I’d like to do.
Paying It Forward
I want to pay it forward, but I also want to spread even more cheer.
A few months ago, I joined forces with three other New Adult authors: Molli Moran, J.C. Hannigan, and Rebecca Paula. We created a group on Facebook, Romance Readers Anonymous. It’s a fun group for romance addicts. We post something new every day, sharing romance writer confessions, crushes, games, and more. Sometimes, on Wednesdays, we give away books.
For this Win a Book Wednesday, I’m throwing in a little twist.
One lucky winner can pick one of our Kindle books. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get the app FREE for your computer, phone, tablet, etc.)
To enter, simply join Romance Readers Anonymous. Do something nice for someone, and let us know here. It can be something small, like holding the door for a stranger or texting something nice to someone you cherish.
I’ll draw a winner at random sometime next Wednesday (December 30th).
No matter what you celebrate, the holiday season is about spreading goodwill toward others. And I don’t know about you, but I think our world needs some light right now.
NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—starts in just a few weeks. During the month of November, novelists attempt to write 50,000 words in thirty days. It’s a marathon-style event that encourages people to write. I haven’t done it in years.
Usually, I’m already waist-deep in another writing project. This year, though, things are very different.
Depression got the best of me. I haven’t written anything in weeks. It’s a bitter cycle, because not writing makes me more depressed.
Most days, Andrea doesn’t know whether she wants to kiss Tanner or punch him in the gut. He is seriously hot, with legit bedroom eyes and that firefighter body of his, but he’s a major player, and they can’t get along for more than a handful of minutes. Until now.
Tanner knows he and Andrea have had an epic love/hate relationship for as long as he can remember, but he wants more love than hate from her. He wants her. Now. Tomorrow. But the more he gets to know her, the more it becomes obvious that Andrea has a problem. She’s teetering on the edge and every time he tries to catch her, she slips through his fingers.
Andrea’s life is spiraling out of control, and it doesn’t matter that Tanner wants to save her, because when everything falls apart and she’s speeding toward rock bottom, only she can save herself.
Sometimes life makes you work for that happily ever after…
I read this book in just a few hours. Not because it was super short. It wasn’t light reading, either. But I devoured it. I had to know what happened next. Because Scorched isn’t just a romance. It’s about living with depression and anxiety—two conditions that are a huge part of my life.
Andrea tries to self-medicate using alcohol. Her concerned friends aren’t sure what to do. Even she isn’t sure.
There were plenty of moments of levity. I laughed out loud quite a bit. Scorched balances out some pretty heavy material with brilliant dialogue and witty narration.
My favorite part about this book was the relationship between Andrea and Tanner. He gives her room to figure things out for herself, with lots of support.