I read once that if you haven’t posted for a while, you should not talk about it, because no one cares. Which is probably true. (Sorry, I’m battling a little depression this year.)

Anyway, I wanted to accomplish something besides work and dealing with the wreck that has wreaked havoc in our lives for months. I’m not the best at making covers (that is an understatement), but I’m happy with how these turned out. The black and white gives them a vintage feel and conveys the somewhat darker themes.

Check them out!

Every year about this time, my critique partner and I start asking one another this question. We take a few weeks to think about it and then we discuss it. 

Are our goals realistic and measurable? How will we know when we’ve reached our goals? Are they goals we can reach (e.g. finish a manuscript) as opposed to goals that someone else has to take an active role in completing (e.g. nab an agent)?

We’ve been doing this for a few years now, so we’ve gotten pretty good at setting goals that work. But this year? My life blew up–not in a bad way. Things just…changed. I went back to work full-time, for one. That will wreak havoc on a writing schedule like you wouldn’t believe.

But, more importantly, something else happened. Halfway through the year, I realized my goals that I’d put so much thought and planning into were no longer a good fit for me.

For one thing, they weren’t realistic anymore. No more writing for three to four hours a day for me. I’m lucky to get an hour. I have to make each second count. Maybe, instead of counting words, I needed to go back to counting time. A half hour here, fifteen minutes there–it adds up.

I was working on the third Infamous book (and I was a good ways into it) when it occurred to me I was pushing myself–and it was a push, not a stroll–down a road I no longer wanted to go down.  Maybe I will in the future, but for now? It’s not right for me.

So when I make my goals this year, I’m trying to be more cognizant of what I need to be successful, to meet the goals I set. Obviously, they’re not going to be as extravagant as they were in years past–when I could devote all of my energy to writing all day.

Please don’t misunderstand me–I don’t regret giving up my full time writing life. There’s been a lot of good to come from my going back to work. I could even argue that it helps me refill the creative well, to stay connected to people so I can populate my stories.

Just know that I’m going to try to accomplish a lot in the coming years. I’m playing the long game now. It’s no longer about getting my books out–no matter what. It’s about quality and it’s about making sure I am who I want to be, as a writer.

Regardless, I encourage you–writer or no–to think about your own 2019. What do you want to accomplish? What will you do to make it a banner year?

This has been a hell of a year. And, yeah, I know it’s too early for a year in review thing, so I’ll save that. But, like, for real.

First of all, the publisher for my Vegas books isn’t publishing books anymore. Right in the dang middle. Well, two-thirds of the way through. So, I self-published. Which has been a long learning curve. (I’m totally still learning because there is so freaking much to learn.) For now, they’re all three available in Kindle Unlimited so go read the hell out of those, lovelies.

Second, I went back to the day job. It’s a different day job but it’s at the same place. I work with some of the same wonderful people and some new, really cool people and I pretty much love this decision every day, except when it’s time to get up and get ready and I think… I used to spend every day in my pajamas, writing.

And then I get paid or I think about how good the routine, the socialization, the productivity has been for my personal mental health and it’s okay.

Third, I don’t know if I’ve ever discussed this here (maybe when I talked about creating a character who lives with depression?), but I… live with depression and anxiety.

I’d been on the same antidepressant a long time and the side effects had started to outweigh the benefits. I mean, there are other antidepressants out there. It’s a complicated story I won’t bore you with, but I finally convinced my doctor (who I have a wonderful working relationship with) to try me on something new. 

Before that, between the self-pubbing and the day jobbing and the depressing side effects and the marketing the books I had out/coming out? I’d become blocked. Writer blocked, which is about a million times worse than any other time of blocking.

I was working on the third Infamous. Well, let me rephrase: I was supposed to be working on the third Infamous book. Now, before I got blocked, I’d written nearly 70,000 words on the story. I was well over 2/3 of the way through the story. I had an outline. It should’ve been smooth sailing to the finish line.

It was not. 

Anyway, long story short–well, I never was very good at shortening stories. I got my antidepressant change, and it was like a fog began to clear, creatively. I made some hard decisions that I don’t really want to go into because I don’t want to have to defend them. 

But I made a very easy decision to work on a second Cupid’s Cafe story. The original will be re-released next year by Inkspell Publishing. Some of you may (or may not) remember that Aidan, the hero, had a best friend. He wasn’t the nicest of guys, but readers liked him. Kurt, his name was, and he came to me fully-formed. And, he was a lot of things, but he was funny as well.

And his heroine, Wynona? She came very fully-formed herself. The great thing about Cupid’s Cafe is that these are less-than-conventional romance characters. 

You know what? It’s way too soon to go into this much detail. I’m just in the planning pages, though I think I’ll have it written in the next three months or so. At any rate, I’m writing again, and that’s a beautiful thing.

This month has been a rollercoaster–all exhilarating highs and scary depths, personally and professionally. I’m not even going to list them here, because I’m a somewhat private person and it would be unprofessional in at least one instance.

Needless to say, I’m anxious to move on and hope for a month with some higher ups and less frightening downs.

I do have to share with you that My Vegas Comeback, the last Viva Las Vegas book probably won’t be out in June. I think I can make it happen this summer, but I’m not promising until I get a few more pieces in play.

The important thing is that it will be out and all of you awesome people who have bought the first two (or even one of them), will be able to enjoy the finale.

On a more personal note, I’d appreciate positive thoughts and prayers because my youngest daughter is having surgery to correct her clubfeet. This will hopefully make her not-so-little feet perfect and she can proceed to do anything she sets her mind to without pain.

I’m so grateful to those of you who read my rantings and news. Thank you for sticking with me through this journey.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. She passed less than two years after her husband, my grandfather. They’ve been on my mind a lot lately. I catch my thoughts slipping into memories, like a bittersweet treat. I saw a typewriter today and thought I’d share one of the many reasons I love them so much.

When I was 15, I wanted a typewriter. I am a techie–always have been–and a writer. I take my wording quite seriously and always have.

This typewriter had a small word-processing feature on it. Not to give away my age, but this would’ve been summer of 1989. Believe me, when I tell you, this was cutting edge.

The typewriter would store one line in its memory and on the small screen. You could go back and edit that line or hit enter at the end and the line would be dashed off by the super-quick typewriting mechanism. I know it wasn’t the kind with keys that popped up for each letter. It was a grandfather to the computers that would come later and so it held the single line in memory then printed it off. There was also–and this was amazing–erasing tape. You could backspace and it would overwrite what had been written with a clear or white square.

I guess I saw this in the Sears catalog that my other grandmother would receive. (I’ve written about her before, too.) I’m not sure how much it cost. More than a hundred–less than three, I suppose. Which was exorbitant. My parents could never have afforded that.  I knew I would never get it, but it was so pretty, and technologically edgy, and perfect for someone who loved words. I knew I wanted to write, though nothing so specific as being a writer had formed. I think I was too scared of how much I wanted it to give it voice.

It was my birthday in July and my grandfather showed up. Now, with my children, he was very hands on. Went to all their school functions–that sort of thing. But with me… he was the big gun. I knew he loved me fiercely and would do anything within his power for me. That was more than enough.

He brought with him a box from Sears that held my beautiful Brother typewriter/word processor. My grandmother was with him, of course. He would’ve never known I wanted it if she hadn’t told him. I remembered wistfully telling her about all the features, how I was going to teach myself to type, how I could use it for school projects. I was… overwhelmed and grateful. I’m still grateful.

I did use it for school. I did teach myself to type, retyping magazine articles over and over until I could type at 90 wpm. I also wrote a few short stories on it. I kept it and used it in college, at least the first couple of years. Then computers took over the world and I managed to get myself one of those.

But, what a gift that was for a budding writer. The ability to write as many words as I wanted, neatly, cohesively. My heart says that maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today if they hadn’t been so generous and thoughtful.

I’m lucky enough to have my parents and a very special Aunt who has been like a combo second-mom/best friend to me over the years. I think the lesson for me is to enjoy each moment with them. Live in it. Feel the gratitude, be overwhelmed. Put the phone down and just be. I hope you’ll do the same this year, because we’re not promised any tomorrows. Let’s enjoy our todays to the fullest.

Here at the Sizemore home, we’re getting ready to celebrate Christmas. To those of you who celebrate differing holidays, like, say, Festivus (a holiday for the rest of us), I wish you lovely celebrations, decadent food, and happiness in the upcoming year.

It’s been a hard year, 2017. I lost my grandmother, I got a 3 book contract. I’ve watched my kids succeed and struggle. I got an Alienware computer (OMGYAY) and a new Nintendo 3DSXL. Not that I’m all about the things… I’m just looking for the stuff I can appreciate. It’s my way of coping. Don’t even get me started on the state of government. I’m kind of happy to see the backside of 2017.

I was hoping to have a cover reveal this week, but, alas, I have no pretties to show you. Yet. I do have a blurb for My Fake Vegas Boyfriend, the first in the Viva Las Vegas trilogy. It will be released on February 6–if you haven’t seen that yet.

1958 Las Vegas. She can ruin his career. He can save her freedom. What’s a little blackmail between strangers?

 

Layla Rosas has been burned too many times—by her cheating ex, her narcissist mother, and now her father who’ll put her in an asylum, for good this time, if she can’t settle down and be a good girl. She needs a quality boyfriend—now—to convince her dad she’s back on the straight and narrow.

 

Jace Russell is good at his job: keeping the wealthy elite who visit his casino safe and happy. When a photographer snaps a career-ending shot of a client, it’s Jace’s duty to do whatever it takes to stop that photo from hitting the press.

 

Layla didn’t intend to take a compromising shot, but that doesn’t mean she won’t use it. When Jace realizes a few fake dates are all she wants in exchange for the negatives, he’s all in—with the added agenda of getting the crazy but beautiful woman between his sheets. But Layla refuses to gamble her heart on the toe-curling kisses of a fake boyfriend. It’s just a few dates. How hard can it be?

Doesn’t that sound like delicious fun? The answer is yes, lovelies. And it is.

For now, from me to you, happy holidays!

I had this great topic (for other writers) dreamed up this month (actually last month, but I digress), but it’s been one of those months.

via GIPHY

I finally finished the second book I had to revise and submitted it to my publisher. Edits for the first (which is being published June 20!) should arrive any day. We had an Open House and Formal Dance here this week with the kids and my daughter’s last day of Cosmetology school was Wednesday.

And I wasn’t there because my husband had to have surgery WAY out of town. And, so of course, we took her out Monday to celebrate. A surprise party with cake then sushi.

It’s been a hell of a month. In just ten days, my daughter and I will be making our way to Arkansas, by way of Nashville (where we will spend the night, going and coming, because I can’t drive that long in one go), to spend a week. She’s meeting up with a friend and I’m spending several days holed up with my critique partner, where I will be slaving away at the third Infamous novel.

No, you didn’t miss the second one. I just submitted it. Cross your fingers, please, that the publisher likes it.

So, here’s a gif of Princess Leia because she’s my hero.

via GIPHY

I’m going to take a deep breath and remind myself that things will eventually settle down.

Welcome to my stop on the Highway Cafe Spring Tour!

Spring is hands down my favorite time of year. I live in rural West Virginia, in the US, and Spring is incredibly, blissfully green. Even the sunlight seems to reflect the greenness of the grass and budding leaves giving the air a refreshing quality.

I wanted to share a picture of typical West Virginia beauty. We get a bad rep in the media, but I won’t go into that. What we do have in spades is mountains, trees, flowers, creeks, and rivers.

This isn’t my view but it’s pretty damn close to what I see driving from my house to town on any given day. (Click either the picture above or the one to the left to get a full size view.)

I love my mountain home, but never more than in the Spring.

More about my novel, Infamous

Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all?

Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry.

They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.

Buy from Amazon right now!

Win a copy, plus many more books!

You can check out the home page of the Spring Tour here. My book, Infamous, along with several others can be won by visiting that page. Mention that you spotted the Easter eggs on my site (you’ll have to look for them) in the comments there.

Win a ton of great books in the Highway Cafe Spring Tour and find out why I adore Spring in WV. Click To Tweet

I said you’d have to look for them. I never said you’d have to look hard. ;-)

 

Remember the year I forgot to get my husband a chocolate bunny and he was devastated? Which was like three years ago, so go me for remembering. Sort of. As Meatloaf said, “Two outta three ain’t bad.”

So, anyway, I really stepped up my Easter game this year. Got to make a basket for my granddaughter (which I filled with books because Nana Lori is going to make a reader out of that girl). And my daughters got things they were dying for but had no idea they were getting. It was great. Part of the reason I indulged so much is because my husband helped me do the shopping this year (first time ever). He completely negates the better judgment side of me by saying, “Get it if you want.” I can’t argue with that.

Naturally, he was there so I couldn’t surprise-buy him a chocolate bunny.

And then… well, I forgot. I had Easter in the bag. A literal bag, hidden in my closet, all finished. I remember thinking about it once, but then I was in a hurry.

Come Easter, I had to tell him I’d forgotten. He wasn’t really as emotionally bereft as the first time so I kind of wonder if he didn’t buy himself one, to be honest. But, that’s not the point.

The worst part is, the man bought me a Twix Easter egg. He got me candy and I had forgotten his favorite thing. Well, his favorite thing about Easter. I’m pretty sure his favorite things are his Harley, the kids, and me–in that order.

So, basically, I just lost at marriage. Beat at my own game. It’s a good thing I have a Twix Easter egg to drown my shame in.

I forgot to buy one damn thing and I lost at marriage--Easter Edition! Click To Tweet

I had this in-depth post planned for this month, but January has not been great for the family. We lost my grandmother on January 4 following a long battle with dementia, my mom has been in the hospital off and on (mostly on, as she is now) since before Christmas, and my oldest daughter (the pregnant one) is in the hospital with pre-eclampsia.

It’s not all bad news. We think the doctors have found the issue with my mom and surgery should correct it. All her tests for bugs and cancer, the scary stuff, have come back clear. And if my oldest can stand the boredom of an 11-day hospital stay, the baby will arrive by the end of the month, albeit about 6 weeks early.

All this is to say, I just don’t have it in me to do a blog post or newsletter this month. I’ve been writing (a lot) so I’m too busy to worry, but some things my brain just turns up its figurative nose and says, “Nope.”

I appreciate healing thoughts, positive vibes, and prayers. Our family is going to come out the other side of this and we’ll be fine.