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?

Exactly.

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

Blobicure

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.

xoxo

• • • • • • • • • • •
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.

Shit.

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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tiny Little Victories

So, I’m having one of those days today where everything seems to take more effort than it should.

You know the kind, where you pick up a pen, drop it, pick it up again, drop it again, and it rolls out of reach under the sofa. Then, by the time you retrieve it (with the end of the broom handle you had to retrieve from wherever it lives), you forgot what you wanted to write anyway.

Yeah.

But then I went out to pick up groceries and the gal at the deli counter called me Miss!

Miss!!!

I haven’t been a Miss in ages.

I’ve been firmly living in Ma’am land for at least the last six or seven years now. But today, after the morning of internal chaos forcing me to be gangly and awkward, I became a Miss again.

If only for that one moment, leaving the house today was totally worth it.

And I’m sure that was a big part of why I was a disaster this morning – I didn’t want to leave the house for errands.

Because yesterday I clocked in another 3,000+ words in my new manuscript and I was feeling particularly ready to write this morning. But then there’s that pesky thing called life where I won’t write too much without food.

And if you know me you know I’m not one of those writers who lives on coffee and cigarettes. Bleh. Even in the days when I was a smoker and drank coffee non-stop there was always, always, food in my life.

I eat, like, five times a day. So grocery shopping was a necessary evil because all that consumption leads to an empty fridge eventually.

But, if I waited, ordered a pizza, ate panko crumbs on peanut butter just to survive (the last 2 things in the house, seriously), and gone shopping tomorrow, I may never have been a Miss.

And now I’m back home, ready to blow out another huge word day, but I can’t seem to force myself to work on this new book. 

Because I'm a Miss! And it’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted a blog. After the morning I had, it felt like the right time to catch you all up on the doings around here.

I’ve had a super busy spring / it’s-already-summer-in-Phoenix.

At least this post isn’t three months since my last blog (like my last blog post was), but it has been two solid months of living life, seeing people, doing stuff, typing words.

I’m also getting back into nail art and picked up some supplies to make designs that are more fun and artsy. Which is good because I’d been wearing tan nude nails every week for somewhere near four months.

Over it, time for fun again!

Doing something to my nails (on the regular) started back in junior high school. I’d use markers, polish, whatever I could get my hands on to put color and design on the tips of my fingers. I even used my ballpoint pen to dot flowers onto my pinky finger.

And I didn’t care what color I used as long as there was some color at the ends of my hands. When I was a kid it wasn’t “cool” to use black, navy blue or other colors considered freaky.

I used them.

Because they’re colors. I mean, why was red or pink okay but not black? Why did wearing black nail polish make people think of me as a certain type of person? That shit just never made sense to me and I’d think about it while I slathered shiny blue polish on every other fingernail.

These days I’m trying brushes, sponges, vinyl decals, creating my own decals, acrylic painting, and stamping to get some fun designs going on. And it’s so relaxing to sit and paint for a couple hours without the need for climbing a ladder.

Tiny little canvases. I love it.

Aside from nail art, I released a book, the 2nd in my California Dreamin’ Series: Alternate Plans. I won’t go into great detail on the book here. You can click on the title and read all about it over on Amazon if you’re so inclined.

Already read it? Then while you’re over there checking out the link, please leave me a review!

Reviews are the lifeblood of authors on Amazon and I’d be forever grateful for your honest feedback. All reviews are awesome because they help me write better books the next time. So, go, review one of my books right now!

Thanks 😍

In the midst of work and life, Matt and I even managed to take an extended vacation for the first time in almost a year. We started out with friends in Temecula, California on a wine weekend of debauchery, madness, and so much fun.

From there we drove up the coast to San Francisco, back down to Big Sur (as far as possible due to the coastal highway being washed out), inland to Paso Robles, back out to the coast (just below the closure), and wound down the entire coast to San Diego before driving home.

It was freaking awesome!

It had been ages since we took a long road trip and it was so much fun to get out, take pictures, reconnect, see the beach. Can’t wait to do it again. Soon.

But, for now, I’ll be finalizing the next book release slated for September (30 Chapters in 30 Days, a writer’s inspiration for getting big word count down in a month or less), and working on this new California Dreamin’ Series book.

And something tells me my main character (who is 44 this year) will get to experience the joys of being called a Miss for the first time in years.

Then again, maybe I’ll just keep that little joy all for myself.

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Makeup and Alternate Plans

Three months, people. Three months since I’ve posted a blog. Can someone please explain how in the hell I’ve been able to maintain my sanity without an outlet for the past ninety days? Because I sure don’t know how it’s possible.

But regardless, here I am today, ready to share all the news and stuff from the past few months. You ready for this? I mean, here goes.

I’m about to release a new book!

And that’s pretty much the gist of everything I’ve done since January.

In all seriousness, though, that’s moderately accurate.

Since Matt and I got back from D&D’s place in Florida back at the beginning of the year, my go-to activity has definitely been working on this new book. But, as the title of this blog post indicates, there has been something else going on recently. Makeup. And they tie-in together I promise.

A couple years ago, my sister started watching a handful of beauty gurus on YouTube. As she learned about tips and tricks for getting a flawless face, that is exactly what she got. I mean, my sister is gorgeous anyway, but she started using techniques and tools that amped up the flawless factor. Accentuated her best features.

I was impressed with her skill because makeup was always something that attracted me but I just never got it. Not really. So I focused on fun hair colors, clothes, shoes, to share my personality using this shell of my body.

In the last few years (ahem, decades), I’ve gotten away from makeup. Decided not to try anymore because it never came out looking how I thought it would in my head. And it was obvious I wasn’t really trying.

As my skin aged it didn’t seem to like the products I used to use. So I added the bare minimum of items to my “beauty routine” just to make me feel a tiny bit less haggard looking.

But as my sister learned, I developed a growing curiosity to give it all a try again. See if there were things I could do to this middle-aged face to perk her back up. Because, lord knows, perking up my ass and boobs again was a lost cause.

She shared a few of the videos that spoke to her, a few of the online tutors, if you will, who shared their experiences in a breezy way along with tutorials for application.

And I was pretty much hooked right away. Some of the gurus I discovered after those initial few have huge personalities, some more demure, some are even men (who, no lie, do better makeup than me, and are gorgeous, and, yeah). As I watched for a couple weeks I had an epiphany one day and shared it with my sister.

But I need to back up a little bit so this a-ha moment makes more sense.

Right now, I’m working on a whole new book series. The California’ Dreamin Series. The first book, Carol+ Chad 4-eva!, came out last September. Unlike my Shaw McLeary Mystery Series, I have a solid plan and path for this new series direction. At least for the first 5 books.

Carol + Chad introduces the reader to the various characters in California – some raised there, some Carol grew up with in Massachusetts who (like her) moved there in their younger days. Carol tells her story by writing in her diary. She documents multiple decades of times in her life over minimal pages.

But she also gave me a wealth of character development in those entries because even though she hints at her friends lives, only they can tell their own stories.

Book 2, Alternate Plans, will release in a couple days. It is the story of Deb Martin, before she meets Carol. A few years before she and Carol become roommates Deb had an entire life that I hadn’t yet told. It was time to share her story.

So, it only seemed right to do the same type of thing with all the other characters. And that’s where my makeup a-ha came into play.

Cherry, one of Carol’s childhood friends, is my slated story for Book 3. She’s a firecracker of a personality, a classic beauty, fashionista, and - A-HA! – a makeup artist.

When we last read about Cherry she was married and possibly still waitressing. But I didn’t get too specific with her in later diary entries so there was a whole lot of backstory filling in that needed done for this next manuscript.

It was as if I wrote her knowing there was a such thing as makeup gurus on YouTube and that she was going to become one right before my very eyes (eh, fingers?)! So Wendy and I spent some time talking out details of the phenomenon of YouTube and when people like that first started sharing tips. As we talked I saw my character’s entire path. The story only she could tell about the life of a YouTube sensation.

A-HA!

So makeup became my world for the last few months. And, not gonna lie, this might be the most fun research I’ve ever done for a book. I’ve learned an entire lexicon of terms, products, techniques, tools, you name it.

I’m still never going to be good enough at this to become a YouTuber (and I wouldn’t want to be anyway, behind the scenes is where I do my best work) but I have learned so much I feel like I can now write a truly realistic character story for Cherry. Plus, I found ways to enhance the bits I want to better on my own face and body. Win-win!

But her book isn’t even started yet so maybe I should back up again and talk about Book 2, Alternate Plans.

When Deb Martin moved away from her childhood home six months ago she swore to herself two things. First, she would always be there to help her family in times of need. Second, she would make it on her own. Without their money. Without using her given name to get ahead. But life has a funny way of backing up on a person and when Deb finds herself in a financial jam she knows her dad will help. If only he would call her back. While she waits, Deb meets a town full of people who love to help each other. Including one available, attractive guy, Adam. Despite her finding Adam moderately annoying, Deb has no choice but to accept his help. Could her unfortunate circumstance make her realize that on her own doesn’t have to mean alone?

I’m really excited about this book. My editors and beta readers helped this one go from meh to yeah! I can’t begin to thank them enough because I was about ready to give up on this one entirely. It makes me happy now to tell Deb’s story.

Ready for the cover reveal:



So cool. I love how it matches the tone of the book but doesn’t reveal too much otherwise. It’s available for pre-order now and drops this coming Friday, the 21st.

I can’t wait to get this one out there because, not only is it a story I’m very proud of but, that means I can get to writing the next one. Finally put all this makeup research to good use. Well, better use than just applying a face full of product every morning then walk into my office to go to work. Alone.

Because there is no rest for the self-publisher. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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