The Play is the Thing

(or Where I Really Talk About Station Eleven)

I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated and it’s been an interesting couple of months. My personal life has been a rollercoaster but I’m managing. I’m also late with my new book and just when I’m about to give up meeting the third rescheduling of the release date, I remembered I need to put another book on preorder that’s part of a group project – so now, I need to get this current WIP done.

But what happens when you’ve lost the plot? When you doubt you can do a good job and so you just stop trying? What happens when the pressure of creating the best work you’ve ever created ends up killing the actual desire to do the work?

Fear.

That’s pretty much it. It’s the fear of failing for after all, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last three or so years, at times cloaked under the word burnout.

Still, I lost the plot.

Then I stumbled upon Station Eleven on HBOMax. It’s a limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s book with the same title, released in 2014, long before Covid-19. It’s about what happens to a group of people who survive a super-flu that kills 99% of the population. No zombies here. Just the flu and a pandemic that kills within 48 hours.

Twenty years later, what survives?

In Mandel’s vision and in the HBO series, it’s art. Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Paganini Pretty in Pink, a comic novel created from the heart that is interpreted different ways by the adults and children who come across it, and even a favorite character’s performance of Excursions by A Tribe Called Quest (@ATCQ). The soundtrack is beautiful and currently on repeat on my Spotify app.

Watching the series during the last four weeks, I’ve been thinking about what survives after a pandemic. Besides surviving, what else can arise from the ashes? In this case, it’s art. Because it has to. Maybe it’s just what makes us human. We seek art and so we create it wherever we can, pandemic or no pandemic. Perfection or no perfection.

It’s breathing life back into my poor WIP and it’s giving me hope that maybe I can pull it off. Maybe for once, I can stop obsessing over creating the best art and simply create it. Get it done so I can create more.

Maybe I can even make the deadline.

600+ FREE Romances For You

Happy New Year!

If you’ve been planning on get new books this year, there are 600+ romances up for grabs today only. No questions asked. No email signups. Just free books you can download directly to your e-readers. 

But it’s for today only so do check it out and find your next favorite romance!

www.RomanceBookworms.com

On the writing front, I’m still working on Where She Belongs which is scheduled for release next month. Unfortunately, it’s not where I want it to be (or where my editor wants it to be) so it will be extended 30 more days. If you haven’t preordered Where She Belongs, you can preorder it here.

Once More, With Feeling

It’s Monday and Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp are down. So what’s an author to do?

She writes a blog post!

Just kidding. The truth: she adds more words to her current work-in-progress.

Mood Board for Where She Belongs

So far, I’ve got 4k words and they’re all good words. No need to delete them later, not this time. But that only happened because I spent so much time thinking about the scenes, the characters, and the situation the heroine finds herself in, all while I was washing dishes, folding laundry… breathing. About 2 – 3 weeks worth of thinking and mulling and kinda-procrastinating-but-not-really because I was lost in their world most of the time.

And it’s a good thing because I feel like I’m back home again, back where I should be as a writer of my books.

Turns out, I don’t do well outlining my stories and writing every detail down on paper. I don’t do well when I have to log my word count on a community spreadsheet. I suck at analyzing my characters’ wounds, motivations, and fears on the page or the screen. It kills whatever mystery and excitement I feel when I’m discovering the same things as I write the story.

Instead, I think them all. No writing, no dictating my ideas either because I never listen to them anyway.

That’s because I’m a discovery writer, or that’s what they say that kind of writer is. But however my kind of writer is called, I’m back to feeling my characters again, slipping under skin and seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, as if I’m them for the time they let me put their stories down on the page.

It’s made writing so much fun again. It’s made me feel alive again.

And as a storyteller, that’s a good thing.

Who knows? I may just actually finish this book on time!

What Do You Mean It’s October?!

I can’t believe it either. The last quarter is here and I’m only half-ready. I’ve got 2k words of the new book written and after I hit Publish on this blog post, I return to the writing cave and write more words.

October also marks the fifth anniversary of my book Everything She Ever Wanted. Hard to believe this time five years ago, I launched the book that changed my life and introduced me to a whole new world of readers, many of whom have become my friends.

I looked back at the books I’ve written since I started out and between my pen names, I’ve written 24 books, not including short stories! Yowza! Now I just need to get myself organized so I can accomplish more of my goals for the final quarter of 2021.

Anyway, I finally came up with an aesthetic for Where She Belongs, a visual representation of the story that features Gabe and Andrea. Gabe’s book has only been delayed about 5 years but I’m slowly catching up and I can’t wait to share their story with you!

Where She Belongs releases on December 14, 2021.

Where She Belongs aesthetic

Just a quick update about an essay I submitted to Wattpad’s #ModernLove writing contest in partnership with Amazon Prime Video. Fairy Tale is one of the 8 winners chosen and if you haven’t read my take on modern love, here it is!

In Other News…

It’s been two weeks since the release of Undaunted and I want to thank you for making release week a success! Thank you for giving Claudia and Trevor all the love!

I’m not going to discuss numbers because that’s for my publisher to know. What I am going to talk about is how this book–my first for 2021–felt like a re-entry back into reality where I could start over.

It felt good to interact with my author friends again and discuss book stuff with a new outlook. A more positive one. It felt good to be among successful and happy people and know that they truly wished me well.

Most of all, it felt like the huge fog had finally lifted and that previous life was nowhere to be seen. And there was no point in looking back either because I wanted only to keep looking forward.

So forward it is.

In other news, I’m working on Gabe’s book, Where She Belongs, which is up for preorder on Amazon. I haven’t set it up on other retailers yet because, well, my bandwidth didn’t go that far yet.

That’s one thing about re-entry. You have to go slow, one step at a time, one press of a button at a time, each time making sure the step before engaged with every part of the whole it needed to engage in and everything was okay. So setting up the preorders elsewhere have been relegated for later.

But I’m writing and yesterday, I wrote 1800 words from the hero’s point of view. The day before, I wrote 2700 words from the heroine’s point of view; and together, this couple is going to light up each page because they’ve only been waiting for their story to be told for 4 years.

There are other tentative plans but that’s as far as they go: tentative. My priority is to get Gabe and Andrea’s story told in the best way I know how, by tapping into the old creative me where I followed only what the characters told me to write and not the other way around. It’s more fun that way and I never feel alone as I sit in front of my keyboard.

Speaking of keyboard, this was my view last week when LilDude and I went to the library to do some research. I really need to fill up that tiny screen with something!

Yup, I need my characters to misbehave!

I have other news to share but that will be for later! Until then, have a wonderful weekend!

Getting Over the Block

Yesterday’s release of my first book for 2021 officially marked the end of my writer’s block. It took eighteen months, four versions, countless drafts, and four deadline extensions before I finally found my groove again and wrote the version that was released three months before release day.

It’s bittersweet but oh, what relief to know that I’ve overcome the biggest challenge in my writing career.

It wasn’t all because of one thing. It was a combination of things, from family losses and personal struggles, taking on too much without recognizing or understanding my strengths and weaknesses, to expecting too much of myself. That last part, especially. There were no baby steps, just giant steps.

BEING BUSY VS. BEING PRODUCTIVE

One of the things I always thought about myself was that I was always busy. Busy doing this or that. I prided myself for being able to multi-task, being superwoman and all…

But at the end of the day, I would end up learning that not much had been achieved. Most of the things I would start to do weren’t finished, forgotten, or never started.

So I started learning the difference between being busy and being productive? Which one would I like to be?

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

– Paul j. meyer

To be productive both as a writer and as a person with a life outside of writing, I decided to do the following:

  1. Made a list of things that needed to be done.
    Have a book on preorder that needs to be completed? Sure. Write it down. Doing a takeover in a Facebook group? Write it down. Need to organize my series into a timeline? Write it down. Better yet, create a checklist. Mine started out on Google Sheets with the date, task, and a checkbox. I’ve since created that same checklist on my Evernote app complete with deadlines and reminders.
  2. Broke down tasks into small chunks.
    Writing a book? It took a while but I set a goal to write one chapter a day or in two days. An act in a week or so. Once achieved, I’d mark it as done and set another goal to write the next chapter and so on.
  3. Identified my strengths and weaknesses and worked around them accordingly.
    This is probably the biggest discovery for me. Two years ago, I signed up for Becca Syme’s Write Better Faster course under the assumption that I’d learn how to simply ‘write faster.’ Boy, was I so wrong. Her course is based on Gallup’s Clifton Strengths where one’s writing styles is based on that individual’s top 5 strengths. No one person’s strengths are going to be alike.
    It took me two years and getting over burnout/writer’s block to finally figure out how my strengths helped my writing when I started out and why, when I thought I was being too slow compared to other writers, burnout/writer’s block hit me when it did. Instead of working with my strengths (I write with feeling, with barebones outlining, and I love discovering the story as I go), I was doing the opposite until one day, the words were simply gone.
  4. Asked for help.
    In the middle of my burnout/writer’s block, it was so easy to just hide inside my shell and pretend that everything was okay. But one day, when I decided to venture back out to the writing world again, I knew that I couldn’t do it all on my own. So I hired a business coach to help get me back on track. I reconnected with writing friends and set up accountability goals. I also sought out counseling to deal with personal issues.
  5. Be proud of myself and what I’ve achieved so far.
    This was one of the hardest things for me to learn because I had set up such major goals on myself that baby achievements were nothing but a blip on the screen that I thought didn’t warrant a celebration. To me, it just wasn’t big enough of an achievement to be proud of. But after going through writer’s block and burnout, guess what? I celebrate the little things now. Life is too precious not to, to be honest.
  6. Not to be too hard on myself.
    There’ll be days where you’re just not feeling it, but don’t worry too much – keep going. Do something else in the meantime. Fill the well by reading a book, listening to music or an audiobook, going on a hike, or picking up a hobby. Breathe. Relax. Pat yourself on the back for what you’ve accomplished that day. Taking a break can help reset your mindset, and get you prepared to returning to the task at hand.

These are just a few of the strategies I’ve been using since my burnout/writer’s block. I’ve also learned to take things one day at a time, one thing at a time. I’ve learned to say no to things that I know will cause me stress while not really aligning with my personal goals. I’ve learned to not get carried away with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Besides, my plate is already full as it is.

How about you? How do you stay productive? Any tips to add?

Undaunted is LIVE!

Today’s the day! UNDAUNTED: THE SALVATION SOCIETY is LIVE!

I’m so excited to share Trevor and Claudia’s world with you! Undaunted is free to read in Kindle Unlimited and the paperback is coming soon!

UNDAUNTED: THE SALVATION SOCIETY

It was the only life he knew… until it wasn’t.

It’s been a year since a Humvee accident changed Navy SEAL Trevor Hawthorne’s life forever, the adrenaline rush that was the only life he knew now gone. In its place is a life where he’ll have to constantly prove to everyone that he’s as good as, if not better than the man he was before.

For Taos native Claudia Romero, life is about graduating from a demanding Physical Therapy program so she can show people back home that she’s more than the girl who made a very public mistake so long ago. And with one more internship in Virginia Beach to complete, she’s almost there.

But when she runs into the man she had a one-night-stand with a year and a half earlier, there’s no denying that the attraction they felt that night is still there, stronger than ever.

But what happens when she learns he’s no longer the same man he used to be? And with a job waiting for her in Taos as soon as she graduates, can she find room in her life for love?

Join me this week in the Salvation Society Readers Facebook Group to celebrate the release of Undaunted together with fellow Salvation Society author Danielle Pays! Danielle’s doing her takeover on Monday and I’ll be on for Tuesday!

I hope you enjoy Claudia and Trevor’s story and to those who have read and left your reviews, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

In the meantime I’m off to spend the day with family. How are you spending the weekend?

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” -Virgil

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” -Virgil

Twenty years ago today, I was attending a Thai Yoga workshop in Nevada City, CA. There were no TVs where we were staying, no cable or satellite services either. Instead, we got to see all the stars in the sky at night and hear the deer munching on crabapples outside our window.

I found out about the attacks after waking up earlier than usual because I was having terrible dreams. I switched on a transistor radio I had found in the studio just when the second tower fell. I remember the panic and the confusion – and having to move that radio at the best place possible every time to get reception.

Although disconnected from all the 24-hour news coverage, we all knew everything had changed. But we couldn’t remain in a state of panic forever. So we came together, smudged, meditated, and resumed the three-week workshop.

I would leave a week early and return home to a different world, quieter, wary, and in shock. Inside the taxi, the driver told me how lucky I was to be where I was the last two weeks, not to have witnessed the endless loop of images and sounds on TV.

I remember getting into my car as soon as he dropped me off so I could drive around for myself and really feel the change (and also get a burger because I’d only had vegetarian food at the workshop – and promptly got an upset stomach, probably from the shock of eating meat again).

Hard to believe it’s been twenty years.

#neverforget

Three More Days and A Blast from the Past

Can you believe it? There are only three more days before my latest book releases on Sunday!

Undaunted: The Salvation Society is a crossover novella set in Corinne Michaels’ Salvation Society world and features Trevor Hawthorne, a former Navy SEAL and Claudia Romero, a Physical Therapy student on her final internship before graduation.

Claudia was first seen in Everything She Ever Wanted. She is Dax’s first love and his best friend Gabe’s cousin and we meet her five years later. Trevor was first seen in Michaels’ Indefinite: Salvation Society, one of the SEALs injured during an accident while on a mission.

Here’s the complete blurb:

Undaunted (The Salvation Society)

Being a SEAL was the only life he knew… until he wasn’t.
But when he runs into someone who knew him as he used to be, can he accept the changes and move on?

It’s been a year since a Humvee accident changed Navy SEAL Trevor Hawthorne’s life forever, the adrenaline rush that was the only life he knew now gone. In its place is a life where he’ll have to constantly prove to everyone that he’s as good as, if not better than the man he was before.

For Taos native Claudia Romero, life is about graduating from a demanding Physical Therapy program so she can show people back home that she’s more than the girl who made a very public mistake so long ago. And with one more internship in Virginia Beach to complete, she’s almost there.

But when she runs into the man she had a one-night-stand with a year and a half earlier, there’s no denying that the attraction they felt that night is still there, stronger than ever.

But what happens when she learns he’s no longer the same man he used to be? And with a job waiting for her in Taos as soon as she graduates, can a man’s love replace her need for forgiveness?

While I wait for release day (it’s also my FIRST release of the year!), I’m writing the next book in the Different Kind of Love series and that’s Gabe’s book. You can meet Gabe again in Undaunted and it sure felt great writing about him. It made me realize just how much I miss the Taos gang – even the place!

Yesterday while I was going through stuff in the garage to donate, I came across of our stay in the Phoenix, the Mike Reynolds’ flagship earthship in Taos. It was bittersweet, that’s for sure. I think I lost all my pictures from that particular trip and the ones before that. That’s one of the downsides of going digital – unless you’ve printed them out and stored them in albums, it’s easy to forget them or worse, lose them when your external backup drive fizzes like this one did.

Earthships are really unique, off the grid and sustainable. Water is collected into reservoirs and filtered before being used three times. The first is when you’re showering or washing dishes (using biodegradable soap), then the water is filtered through the indoor garden before ending up in your toilet bowl for flushing. Electricity is harnessed through solar panels and if you have it installed, wind.

Oh, and those walls are about 5 feet thick or however much thick tires rammed full of soil measure when stacked one top of the other and covered in adobe. The thickness and all that soil helps with insulating the south-facing earthship all year round.

When I stayed there years ago, I never thought I’d write a story set in one but when Harlow’s story came to me, it was the most natural thing to write. I miss Taos and its energy and hope to visit again soon.

But for now, it’s Gabe’s turn on the page and that means the end of this blog post so I can meet my word count!

500+ FREE Romances (Today Only)

Two posts in one day!

But I have an excellent excuse. Today’s post is about FREE romance books – over 500 of them! No sign-ups, no pennies involved. Just straight FREE to download to your e-reader!

Whether you read paranormal romance, sci-fi, dark romance, contemporary, historical and clean and wholesome, they’re all here – but it’s for TODAY only.

So what are you waiting for?!

Or click this link: https://www.romancebookworms.com/

It’s Cover Reveal Day!

Are you ready to return to Corinne Michaels’ Salvation series world?!?

THE SALVATION SOCIETY is a collection of books written by various authors, filled with Navy SEALs, strong heroines, CIA operatives, and so much more!!!

Check out who are featured in the 12th set of TWO books releasing on September 12th!!

This set will feature:

Undaunted by Liz Durano https://geni.us/UndauntedAmazon

Conceal by Danielle Pays https://geni.us/ConcealAmazon


UNDAUNTED: SALVATION SOCIETY

It was the only life he knew… until it wasn’t.


It’s been a year since a Humvee accident changed Navy SEAL Trevor Hawthorne’s life forever, the adrenaline rush that was the only life he knew now gone. In its place is a life where he’ll have to constantly prove to everyone that he’s as good as, if not better than the man he was before.


For Taos native Claudia Romero, life is about graduating from a demanding Physical Therapy program so she can show people back home that she’s more than the girl who made a very public mistake so long ago. And with one more internship in Virginia Beach to complete, she’s almost there.


But when she runs into the man she had a one-night-stand with a year and a half earlier, there’s no denying that the attraction they felt that night is still there, stronger than ever.


But what happens when she learns he’s no longer the same man he used to be? And with a job waiting for her in Taos as soon as she graduates, can she find room in her life for love?

Musings Over Tea: My Latest Reads

This post isn’t about my writing (hallelujah!) but about a few books I’ve read the past two weeks because apparently instead of writing the next book, Creative Me wants to fill the well with books recommended on #BookTok and also by my guilt-tripping Kindle library that has way too many unread books than I’d like.

Yep, I am on Tiktok but I’m not as active as I’d like to be. When I dove in two months ago, it was during the height of Ruby Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarians being the talk all over #Booktok.

Even though I’ve heard of Ruby Dixon and actually have her as an inspiration for being such a prolific writer with amazing branding all over her series, I’d never actually read her books. So last week, I decided to change all that and picked up my first Ice Planet Barbarians book or IPB.

They’re all easy reads, really. And yes, there is a lot of sex in them. With blue aliens. Who have ridges on certain parts of their bodies including, yes, down there. With a spur to boot. You know, a built-in “rabbit.”

But if you think it’s just all sex, it’s not. There’s actually a story, a plot, a really cold wintry world inhabited by seven-foot tall blue aliens, and engaging heroines you root for.

I enjoyed it so much I read the second, third, fourth, and fifth books. And I am loving the fan art that people are creating all over social media, too.

She’s also serializing her latest book on her website and I’ve been enjoying that, too. In fact, I’ve missed the excitement of waiting for the next installment and it’s become a ritual for me to read the next chapter while sipping my PGTips tea. (Oh, right, I did switch from coffee to tea a few months ago and I have NO complaints!)

This weekend, though, I decided to take a break from reading IPB and writing craft books and finally cracked open Tayhoe, a contemporary romantic suspense set in the Navajo reservation by Judith Schiller.

Tayhoe is the story of Cherokee-Navajo Jimmy Leroy Tayhoe, recently released from a six-year prison sentence, and Kara Lindstrom, the soil and water analyst who gets lost on the reservation and stumbles into his cabin one night. A former activist fighting for his native land, Jimmy is at the end of his rope, unable to fit into the world he once fought so hard to preserve and believing he’s left with only one option. When their worlds collide, it sets in motion so many changes between them as well as the people around them.

This is a slow burn romance that’s got lots of action and adventure thrown in all set on a gorgeous Native American landscape, and boy, did I stay up all night to finish it. I read it on Kindle Unlimited but just bought the paperback to keep on my shelf as well.

It’s up there with my other favorite Native American romance Coyote Dream by the late Jessica Davis Stein.

Coyote Dream by Jessica Davis Stein

I’ve got more books to dive into and I can truly see how much I’ve missed that feeling of getting lost in someone else’s book. It’s a nice escape even for just a few hours with no dishes washed, laundry sorted, or worrying whether my kid’s N95 mask is a poor copy of a good one.

But that’s okay.

There’s always tomorrow.