I meant to pop in here forever ago, but things have been busy (as usual).
For the past couple years, I’ve been blogging on this domain and using my author website as a place to showcase my books. I also ended up with a domain for the South of Forever series, another for Maietta Ink… It was all getting a bit much to keep up with.
I had my author website on Wix, but this spring it was up for renewal. I liked Wix at first but haven’t been too thrilled with it these past couple months, so I made the decision to go back to WordPress.
It took me some time, but my author site is now back up and running! Check it out here. I’m blogging as usual, but there are also some goodies here and there, with more to come as I have time.
From now on, everything will be under one roof. (Famous last words, sigh.) I’ll be keeping this site up for now, because I know it’s helped a lot of people. (I haven’t decided whether I want to move all my blog posts from here over to my author site. There are quite a few and I don’t exactly have time to fix links and all that, plus I’ve been having trouble with my wrists, so I’m trying to limit my computer time.) I’m not sure if I’ll keep it up forever, though, as I’ve kind of grown out of The Crazy Chronicles. I mean, yeah, my life is crazy and probably always will be, but I bought this domain back when I thought I’d be writing a series out of Crazy Comes in Threes and wanted to document the process of growing my career.
I’ll still be blogging about my career, illness, and other things, of course, but the name no longer quite fits, you know?
Last night, curiosity finally got the best of me. I’d noticed some pretty consistent Nook sales for The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos, but since I hadn’t done any marketing, I had no idea where they were coming from. So I went to the Barnes & Noble website on my phone and started looking around. I didn’t expect to find anything. Truly. It was more of a “Maybe someday I’ll be featured” kind of thing.
And then I found The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos in Explore Nook Romance, in the New Adult category, sorted by best seller. BN doesn’t have a numbered best seller list for the NA category like they do for other romance genres, so this is more like a feature; of all the NA books being featured in the Nook store, The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos is one of the best selling ones.
Therefore, I’m a best seller!
This is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me, so I’m thrilled. It was a nice surprise on an especially bad pain day, and it’s continued to bring a smile to my face on yet another bad pain day. (In case you’re wondering, it is #159 of 185 featured NA books.)
Grab your copy of The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos now and see what all the buzz is about!
Single dad Max isn’t looking for love—or so he thinks.
One of the things I usually do in the last couple weeks of the year is update my books. This could be as simple as giving it a shiny new cover (like I did with the South of Forever series), or as complicated as rewriting it entirely (like I will with Crazy Comes in Threes [more details coming soon]). Becoming Natalie fell somewhere in between.
While re-formatting and re-reading it, I realized the ending is pretty abrupt (and there were even a couple unanswered questions). So I set aside some time and wrote a brand new epilogue that neatly wraps everything up. (If you’ve already purchased the book, you can read the epilogue for free here.)
I also gave Becoming Natalie a fresh coat of paint and a new blurb. Check it out!
Natalie might not survive a summer back home with her father.
For Natalie, the key to a successful life has been simple: escape her divorced parents, get a well-paying job in graphic design, and snag the sexy CEO. Life in the Big Apple isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, though, and Natalie quickly finds herself drowning in debt and drama—especially when a nurse calls her from a hospital back home.
Her dad’s had a heart attack and needs surgery—and Natalie is the only one who can take care of him while he recovers. But Natalie hasn’t spoken to her father since her parents’ divorce, and their relationship has been nothing short of complicated.
Coming home could give Natalie a chance for a fresh start with both her dad and her checking account, though. The plan is simple: use the summer to get back on her feet—as long as the handsome karaoke DJ she keeps running into doesn’t sweep her away completely.
Becoming Natalie is a lighthearted, humorous Chick Lit novel that will warm your heart.
If you’ve been around for any period of time, you know I’m all about goals rather than resolutions. Setting actionable, achievable, and accountable goals is far more productive than making promises.
Usually, I keep my goals for the year down to a short list. Recently I heard about Level 10 Life, which is basically just your life, broken down into 10 areas. You’re supposed to set 10 goals for each area—100 in total—with the objective of eventually fulfilling all areas of your life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it’s possible to ever reach 100% fulfillment; there’s no such thing as perfection. Plus, I think 100 goals is a bit overwhelming.
Goals are supposed to be challenging yet within reach. If you set the bar too high, you’ll set yourself up for failure.
A few weeks ago, I found a wheel of life pin that I loved. It focused on eight areas of life rather than 10, with one goal in each area. The objective is to achieve more balance in your life; once you reach a certain goal, you set a new one in that area.
I tried making the wheel of life and failed epically. After several attempts, I realized I didn’t need a Pinterest-worthy craft to help me set goals for 2017. I sat down with my white board and several dry erase markers, and got busy. This list is the result.
My Goals for 2017
Get curtains for all windows. Though it has its quirks, I love our little country apartment, and hope to stay here until we’re ready to start a family. (That’s a whole other blog post, so stay tuned.) To make our place look even more home-y, I’d like to get curtains for each window. Fortunately—in this case, anyway—there aren’t many windows; our apartment was an attic in a former life. I’m starting with the kitchen, with the front door (which naturally has the oddest measurements ever, and I can’t seem to find anything). Challenge accepted!
Get arrow, hummingbird, and spade tattoos. 2013 was the year I got married, and probably one of the best years of my life. But 2014 and 2015 were easily two of the worst years of my life. I lost one of my best friends in 2014 and in 2015, I lost myself. PTSD finally caught up with me and I completely bottomed out. But in 2016, I got better.
There’s a quote that really spoke to me in 2015-2016:
An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.
I don’t know where it originated, but it really resonated with me—especially regarding my PTSD. I truly cannot explain how strong I feel. I’ve got my voice and my magic back, and I feel more me than I’ve ever felt. This is why I want to get an arrow on my ribs, on my right side—to remind me of how I shot forward in 2016. Something simple and delicate (my ribs do swell, after all, so tattooing that area might be a bit… challenging). Something like this, in this same spot:
I think this design is the one I’ll go with.
I’ve long wanted to get twin hummingbirds on my collarbones, for my Popi. He loved watching the birds at the lake, and the “hummers” were his favorites—especially the ruby throated hummingbird. Growing up, I always felt enveloped by magic whenever I could look fast enough to see them. Popi had hawk eyes and saw everything; he was the magic.
I like the general placement of the hummingbirds in the above pin, but I don’t love the design. My plan is to have Jay—the artist who did my hydrangeas and tiger lilies—design and tattoo my hummingbirds. I love his style and I know he’ll help me come up with something I love.
Finally, I want to get a spade in memory of one of my best friends, Sean. He loved spades—I’m pretty sure it was an old nickname, though I have to check with his girlfriend to make 100% sure—and had one tattooed on his forearm. I’ve been racking my brain, trying to figure out the perfect tattoo to remember him by. It suddenly dawned on me the other day that I should get a spade. I’ll probably add it to the sleeve I’m working on, on my left arm.
I’d like to get something for my Biz Noni, too, but for one, I’ll be lucky if I can afford three tattoos in one year. Plus, I kind of already got something for her: my hydrangeas around my Fievel. She was still alive back then, but my dad was talking about transplanting her hydrangeas in the yard. I thought about how amazing it was, that those hydrangeas stubbornly continued to bloom year after year after year—even though she couldn’t physically get outside to nurture them anymore. It reminded me of her; she was “up there” in age, but remembered everything and had survived much. I got the hydrangeas tattooed as a reminder that I can survive, too, even in the toughest of circumstances.
Pay off all debt and past due bills. I won’t bore you with the details, but between my student loan, some credit cards that I opened to help us out, our bills, and my creative team from Booktrope, I’ve racked up a teensy bit of debt. I say “teensy” because I was panicking but when I added it all up, I realized it’s really not that bad. Some people are thousands of dollars in debt; I’m only about $5K in. Still, I’d really like to make it go away—especially the damned student loan that’s been hanging over my head for years.
Long story short, that student loan is from a half semester that I had to withdraw from due to health issues. It was too late to withdraw without penalty, so I got stuck with the bill. I’ve been trying to pay that thing off for almost 10 years now.
My accumulated debt grew to a ginormous monster in my head. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, heart pounding, terrified I’d go to jail for delinquency. That’s totally not the case, but anxiety lies. When I actually broke it down on paper, though, it suddenly became a teeny baby monster. Now that I’m writing for Textbroker and regaining momentum in my career, it doesn’t seem completely impossible to overcome, either.
They say the best way to pay off debt is to make regular payments on everything while going really hard at one particular bill. I haven’t quite decided which one to tackle first, though.
Finish all currently open series. 2016 was all about regaining some lost momentum; 2017 is going to be all about closing boxes.
Right now, I have three unfinished series: the Comes in Threes, Not Just Any Love, and South of Forever series. While the Not Just Any Love series is actually just two companion standalones (Just One More Minute and the forthcoming Char/Amarie novel), the Comes in Threes series has been in limbo for almost four years.
I’ll be releasing the final South of Forever book soon, and then my plan is to get back to Quinn, Tara, and everyone else from Crazy Comes in Threes. I’ll be rewriting CCIT; I won’t be changing anything about the story, but I’ll be making some structural changes—that way I can pull off my master scheme. I’m super excited about what I have in store. More news on that soon!
Go on one date every month. Thanks to the holidays, health issues, and financial stress, Mike and I haven’t been able to spend much time together lately. Our hot dates have recently consisted of doctors’ appointments and him helping me put pants on. So romantic. 🙄 Not!
Money is beyond tight, but I’d really like to do something every month—even if it’s just a movie night in. We’re both always busy, but I make sure we eat dinner together (unless he’s working), with no tech at the table so we’re really focusing on each other. Still, I’d like to do actual dates.
Last month, my Noni got us a gift certificate to our favorite sushi place, so we went to lunch after my rheumatology appointment. (Note to self: blog about that ASAP.) It was nice to get out and spend time together, and we have enough left on the gift certificate to do it again. Little things like that keep our relationship strong.
Host at least one family dinner. Due to my arthritis, it’s really hard for me to pull off gatherings at our place. Not only is it physically difficult, but it also takes a major toll on my energy. The last time we hosted anything was Mike’s birthday party—in October. It was so nice to have both sides of our family all together, but I paid for it dearly in the days after. I always do.
Originally, we really wanted to host weekly Sunday dinners, but that’s just not possible. I’m slowly adjusting to my limitations, which means not pushing myself and accepting things for what they are. Still, I’d like to have at least one Sunday dinner this year; they were a huge part of Mike’s family when he was growing up, and it’s really important to him that the tradition continues.
My plan is to give Plaquenil and Prednisone some more time and, when the weather gets warmer, set a date.
Find a treatment that brings pain down to a 4/10. I’m hoping Plaquenil is The One. I’ve accepted that I’ll probably never have a zero pain level again, but if my new normal could be a 4/10, that would be great. At that level, the pain is tolerable; once it gets to five or even six, it’s debilitating. Honestly, I’ll even take a five at this point; last Sunday, it got all the way down to a five, and I felt amazing. It’s been an eight lately, which is still better than a nine or 10.
But four is about my normal level when I’m not in a flareup. If Plaquenil can decrease the flareups and their severity, I’ll be happy.
I’d also really like a diagnosis more definitive than “it might be Lupus” or “it’s definitely enthesitis-related arthritis.” Right now, my chart has Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD) as my diagnosis, which translates to “undiagnosed autoimmune disease.” It means there’s definitely something inflammatory and autoimmune going on, but my labs are inconclusive. There are two camps in rheumatology: one that relies more on symptoms to diagnose, and the other that relies more on labs. My rheumatologist falls into the latter, and so did my former rheumatologist. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for my own closure, I’d really like to know the name of the disease that has completely and irrevocably changed my life.
I may never get that. I may have to practice accepting that. Time will tell.
Write “writing through trauma” book as a blog series. I’d like to tell my story—and help others write through theirs. Writing has long been a huge part of my life. I’ve written my way through every major event, be it in a journal or weaving my pain into a novel. The most important writing I’ve ever done, though, were my trauma stories.
I’d like to teach others how to write through their pain. Eventually, I’d even like to lead workshops for local organizations who help sexual assault survivors, but I’ve got to start small. That, for me, means writing a how to book.
I’ve started several times. I keep getting stuck because I’m not sure how much of my personal story I should share; I don’t want to take away from the advice I’m giving, but I’d also like to show how writing through my own trauma helped me. I’ve decided to take my outline and the roughly 10K words I’ve written, and turn it into a blog series that can be later converted into a book. This way, I can get some reader feedback on it while I’m putting it together.
Stay tuned, because that will be starting very soon.
What are your goals for 2017? Let me know in the comments!
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read the previous edition of Becoming Natalie, the following will spoil the ending for you. I recently added an epilogue to the book, and decided to post it here for those who’ve already purchased and read it. Click here to read a FREE excerpt.
Though the resort had been beautiful in the winter, with the glacial sky stretched over the frozen ocean, it really came to life in the summer. Natalie had practically counted down the days to June—for more than one reason. For one, the resort’s steady flow of guests had slowed down considerably during the colder months, which meant she had a lot less to do. For a while, she’d worried that she’d be out of a job, but Rohan had assured her that wasn’t the case.
“After all,” he told her brightly, “we’ve got renovations to do all winter.”
And renovate they had.
With Nigan back in commission, things really got moving. Between Rohan and his father, Natalie stayed busy making new materials for the spring and summer promotions. The Singh men had big plans for the resort—including a full-service spa and wedding planning. By the time June bloomed around the grounds, business was booming.
But the resort wasn’t the only thing growing.
Though they were taking things slowly, Natalie and Rohan had been dating for ten months. She wasn’t about to drop any L bombs any time soon, but once they were together, things between them were just . . . easy. She’d been slightly worried that dating another guy that was her boss would be a bad idea, but Rohan had wanted to immediately set boundaries.
“When we are working, we are Natalie Booth, marketing coordinator, and Rohan Singh, hotel concierge,” he said in bed one evening.
“You know,” she said, her head resting on his chest, “you can seriously drop the last names now.”
“I am serious. We need to make sure our working relationship doesn’t interfere with, well, us, Natalie.” Those deep brown eyes bore into hers. “I don’t want to screw this up,” he said softly.
“Neither do I.” She pressed a kiss to his cheek. “So we should probably make a rule about keeping things strictly professional while on resort property.”
“Well . . . minus our suites,” he said with a grin. He pulled her into his arms, and they stopped talking.
Still, things were going incredibly well, considering how often they saw each other. Natalie’s days were a blur of marketing meetings, hours designing posters and brochures, and scheduling ads across newspapers, radio stations, and social media. At night, she and Rohan either had dinner in the dining room or went out. And her days off—well, those were her favorite days of all.
Since Rohan still had family in India, he, his uncle Nigan, and his father Darius visited quite often. She’d gone with them for a few weeks in January. Visiting another country should have been slightly nerve-wracking, but with Rohan and his family, it was fun. He often whisked her away for adventures on weekends, too—whether it was running karaoke at a random Connecticut dive bar or exploring the lakes and parks hidden around the state.
The door to her suite swung open, ricocheting off the wall. Layla lifted her head from the floor, then settled right back down when she saw who’d come in.
Natalie’s father balanced two plates piled high with waffles, a jug of maple syrup, and two tall glasses of milk. He hustled across the living area and plunked everything down on a nightstand—somehow managing not to spill anything.
“Dad,” she said, “I told you to just call room service.”
“And miss out on my famous waffles?” He shook his head at her. “It’s healthy to have a nice, home-cooked meal every so often.”
“I have home-cooked meals every day.”
“A restaurant in the resort you live in doesn’t count, Lee.”
“Dad.” She tugged her hair up into a messy bun, using the gesture to hide the smile pulling at her lips. “Darius usually cooks for us. He’s really talented. He can even make Italian food—”
Her father pressed a plate of waffles into her hands. “Eat, Nat. It’s getting cold.”
Shaking her head at him, she cut a bite with her fork, trying not to think about how annoyed the chefs might be with her father for barging in on their kitchen. She hoped he’d at least cleaned the waffle iron.
“So,” Dylan said between bites of waffles. “Are you happy?”
She set her fork down, considering. It was still kind of weird to live so far from any family. While it was true that her mother and stepfather were still in the state, they weren’t close anymore—and probably never would be again. Though it’d initially stung to find out that her mother had cheated on her father, Natalie had accepted things for what they were. After all, she and her dad were so much closer than they’d been. Even if he was the type to force waffles on her.
At least Grandma Booth had stayed behind in Florida for the summer.
“Yes,” she replied, answering her father’s question. Her eyes lifted to meet his. “Are you?”
“Well, your grandmother is driving me crazy . . .” He exaggerated a grimace. “But yes. I am.” He shook a finger at her. “Just don’t go doing anything drastic like getting married, young lady—at least not without letting your old man know first.”
“Don’t worry, Dad. I’m happy with exactly the way things are right now.”
And she was. Though it’d been hard to let her dad go to Florida, he was much more independent than he’d been while she’d stayed with him last summer. He was driving for a school bus company and planned to continue spending his summers at Laurel Lock. In a few weeks, she and Rohan would go visit him—Layla too.
“Now what about that meddling friend of yours? I never could stand the way she interfered with your life,” Dylan said.
Natalie lifted an eyebrow at him, but chose not to comment on the irony of his statement. “You mean Violet? We talked. We’re not as close as we once were, but she apologized. She’s really happy for me—and she got rid of that tool she was dating.” She shuddered. Between her and Violet, they had the worst taste in men—with the exception of Rohan.
As if on cue, knuckles rapped on her door and Rohan strode in. “Ah, Dylan Booth!”
“You can call me Dad—”
“Just Dylan is fine,” Natalie amended, shooting her father a look.
Rohan plopped down on the bed beside her and plucked the fork from her fingers. He shoveled waffles into his mouth.
“I thought you said his father was feeding you?” Dylan asked, looking quite satisfied with himself. “It’s a good thing I’m visiting.”
Natalie sighed, then smiled. The more things changed, she mused, the more things stayed exactly the same. She could live with that.
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