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.

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. ;-)

 

I’m so excited! Today is the day my book goes out into the wild, into readers hands, to (hopefully) be enjoyed and give readers a respite from their stressful lives.

I received a glowing review from The Genre Minx. Here are some quotes:

“Believable, charismatic and entertaining!”

“The pages just sizzled with smoldering desire between Justine and Sawyer.”

“If you are looking for a book that will engage you from beginning to end, then I recommend this book to you!”

You can find the full review here.

I’d also like to share the full options of buy links with you because not everyone wants to buy from Amazon. For what it’s worth, new releases are 50% off on release day at The Wild Rose Press, so if you’ve been unsure and decide to buy today, I’d suggest you go there.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
All Romance | BookStrand | Goodreads

Thank you for all your support through the years. If you do decide to try Infamous, I truly hope you enjoy it!

these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-thingsSo, it’s December and even the hardest hearts can’t deny the pull of the holidays. For me and my family, we celebrate Christmas.

Today, I’m going to share three of my favorite things about the holiday season.

Christmas Music

I like all the Christmas music. I can happily tune my Sirius Radio to Channel 17 after Halloween and rock out to whatever they choose to play.

(Note, the links above will open in Spotify.) 

Share your favorite holiday songs in the comments to make me love you forever.

Hand-crafted Gifts

catbuttI think once you’re an adult the joy of Christmas becomes giving. In that vein, I’m busy crocheting gifts. For instance, my aunt asked for 2 sets of cat butt coasters. Those do exist and here is the pattern, if you’re interested. Alternatively, you can buy them on Etsy if you’re dying for a set.

Charity

I know it’s kind of hard to make the jump here from cat-behinds, but let’s do it anyway.

One of my most favorite things about the holidays is charity. The spirit of it, sure, but the act as well. On this one, I won’t out myself, because I believe giving should be private. It doesn’t mean as much if you want a pat on the back later.

I will, however, share a few charities dear to my heart. In West Virginia, where I live, drugs are an epidemic. That leaves many children unfed and without Christmas presents (among other more terrible things). The Family Resource Network not only tirelessly works to meet every need, there’s a toy drive you can donate to. They often have to take used toys just to come close to having enough. Your donation would mean a lot.

On a bigger scale, there’s always Toys for Tots. It’s the Marines collecting toys for needy kids–doesn’t get more awesome than that.

Finally, my favorite charity is St. Judes. No child should be denied treatment that could save their lives.

Comments are open for you to list your favorite charities, as well.

I wish you all happy holidays, whichever holidays you and your loved ones celebrate.

sig2015

I’m joining with several (and I mean several) new-to-you writers to put out a newsletter every other month. This doesn’t replace my newsletter, which you should totally sign up for right now.

Each newsletter will highlight four different authors. You’ll find new excerpts, books on sale, book boyfriends (<3), and author spotlights. Each newsletter will also feature contests (plural) that you’ll automatically be entered to win by virtue of just being a subscriber.

We’re having a Sign-Up Contest now. Every subscriber will be entered to win one of three (3!) prizes: a $50 Amazon Gift Card, a $35 Amazon Gift Card, and a $20 Amazon Gift Card. In addition, we have a Facebook page which will be teeming with info about us all and you should go like it after you sign up for the newsletter below.

The winners for the prizes will be drawn on December 31. They will be announced on the Facebook page and emailed.

Sign up below to discover new stories and win contests. It’s literally win/win.

wildrosesandromance

perf5.000x8.000.inddToday, I’m revealing the cover for Infamous, my upcoming novel from The Wild Rose Press. It’ll be available on December 14, 2016.

Go ahead, click the picture so you can see the full image. I’ll wait.

Isn’t it lovely? It was designed by RJ Morris. I’ve been sitting on this thing of beauty since July, waiting for my official release date.

In exactly two months, you can read Infamous. I’ll update with pre-order links when I receive them (and include an excerpt).

Keep reading beyond the blurb and excerpt to enter my Cover Release Giveaway! Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to receive freebies and other excerpts.

Blurb:

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.

Excerpt

She tangled her fingers through the hair that covered her face and pushed it away. Next thing he knew, she’d wrapped her arms around his waist.

“Justine? Um… what are you doing?”

“I’m hugging you. Taking emotional comfort.”

“Like a leech.”

“Haven’t you ever hugged before?”

“I’ve never hugged anyone I wasn’t going to have sex with.”

“We’re not having sex.” She squeezed him tighter and rested her head on his shoulder. “Hug me back.”

Sawyer lifted his arms and wrapped them around her, his hands cupping her shoulders, pulling her closer. He dropped his head to rest on hers, and parts of him, so deep he couldn’t name them, pulled free and demanded his attention. Her hair smelled like fruit, the kind kids eat in the summer, juice dripping down their chins. “I’m fine with the hugging, but, just saying, I’m not responsible for any physical reaction hugging may induce.”

“Okay.” The word drifted out of her on a sigh.

He wasn’t equipped for this. There hadn’t been a lot of touching growing up, at least not the kind that didn’t end in a busted lip or a cracked rib. As an adult, there’d been lots of touching. But, not like this. The tighter he held her, the closer he wanted to be.

Cover Reveal: Infamous - Coming 12.14.16 #Romance #Giveaway | Love wasn't in her job description. Click To Tweet

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m over at Heart-Shaped Glasses today blogging about the benefits of writing groups. I’ve been part of my critique group for years and those are some seriously awesome women. Here’s a taste of that post.

Here at Heart-Shaped Glasses, we’re not just author’s who blog together, we’re family.

We started as a private online critique group which has evolved into so much more. Yes, there’s critiquing, which is invaluable. Especially when it’s from people who focus just as much with what’s right as what’s not working. I trust these ladies with my precious stories, I trust their experience, which probably (added together) is a lifetime of writing…

To read more, visit Heart-Shaped Glasses. I’d love to hear your opinion on/experience with writing groups.