Musings

Writer’s Block and Spring Break

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It’s been three weeks since I last posted on my blog and I guess it’s time for me to say it: I’m going through a tough case of writers’ block.

Unfortunately, it’s actually more like a symptom of a bigger issue called alignment. Somehow, my current projects (steamy shorts and that reverse harem novel) are not lining up with what my brand is all about, including the stories I actually want to write.

In my attempt to “sell more books” for 2019, instead of writing the stories my readers have been waiting for, like Gabriel’s story and Gareth’s story, I’ve been gallivanting around the place with new characters and totally off-brand projects. As a result, the whole “sell more books” for 2019 has backfired.

And now my characters refuse to talk to me.

I also can’t blame them. If I wasn’t dabbling on other projects, I was also dealing with other things like the Lil Dude’s science project and this week, Spring Break. I just can’t believe it’s over.

We did get to do a few things like go to the beach and also spend a day in Los Angeles where Lil Dude got to see the Cathedral of the Lady of Angels (or is City of Angels?) which looks nothing like what a cathedral is supposed to look like. There happened to be an organ recital when we were there and it was pretty interesting to hear the music reverberate through the various alcoves.

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Afterward, I took everyone to Philippe’s, a restaurant known for French dip sandwiches and has been a Los Angeles staple since 1908. The place is a Los Angeles classic with its original wooden stools, sawdust-covered floors, a hand-painted menu board and a row of telephone booths with their original telephones still intact (but they no longer work). Their menu hasn’t changed and coffee is still just 50¢.

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We also went to the beach and LilDude had a blast. With summer fast approaching, I have to get everything together for those trips to the park and the beach. Soccer ball, basketball, hand pump, beach towels, etc. And hopefully a few playdates with friends here and there.

Now it’s back to school on Monday and I hope my imaginary friends talk to me I can get my mind back to writing again. I’ve got another steamy short scheduled to go out in time for Memorial Day and I honestly don’t know how I can do it AND get my planned full-length novels out at the same time.

But first, the Game of Thrones third episode where I’m keeping my fingers crossed my favorite characters survive!

After all, priorities!

Am(Not)Writing

I am recovering from a cold and therefore, cannot think clearly. And heaven knows I’ve tried. But nada. Nothing comes out. Or if something does come out, after a paragraph, it’s gone and I find myself wondering what I was going to write next… or whose story I was writing, for that matter.

So I’m hoping maybe tomorrow is a better day. Maybe I’ll have a clearer less stuffy head tomorrow and write because I’ve got a deadline. Two of them, to be exact.

I’m also tired and I want to take a nap.

Do you know how difficult it is to take a nap when you have a cold knowing you have to be awake in two hours to pick up the kid and then head to the school for their STEAM fair where he plans on launching his water rocket that he hopes you help him build just before the main event?

Yeah, so no nap.

But we did get to hastily build his water rocket with last year’s calendar and he had a blast with it. Even when an older kid brought his amazing duct tape rocket along and it shot all the way past the fence (twice), LilDude never once doubted his rocket was the best.

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I know how to make my rocket next year…

It’s a New Release: Her Lucky Charm 🍀🍺


Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Her Lucky Charm, a lighthearted (though with a little bit of angst) is now LIVE!

I had originally written Falling for Jordan‘s Addison and Jordan’s St. Patrick’s Day wedding and honeymoon but before I knew it, Roxy and Kodi, (the bridesmaid and groomsman respectively) took over!

Suddenly, it was the morning after the wedding and Roxy’s alleged “walk of shame” from Kodi’s townhouse goes viral.

Oh, what to do, what to do, right?

So I kept going and Her Lucky Charm came to be. I hope you like it!

Here’s the blurb:

HER LUCKY CHARM
A St. Patrick’s Day Romance

Did we or didn’t we?
That’s the million-dollar question when I wake up next to Kodiak “Kodi” Donovan the morning after a mutual friend’s St. Patrick’s Day wedding.

Forget that he’s one of the hottest bachelors in Manhattan, a billionaire, and as the founder of the nonprofit ReBuild to Heal, a philanthropist to boot.

And so we agree to go on with our respective lives and pretend nothing happened.

Too bad my walk of shame ends up getting plastered all over social media and the next thing I know, I’ve become #walkofshameroxy.

As if that isn’t bad enough, my job as an ICU nurse is in jeopardy, too.

Suddenly whether we did it or not is the least of our worries. To save my reputation, the only other question becomes…

Should we or shouldn’t we just take it all the way?

Her Lucky Charm is also part of Steamy Sensations Holiday Love: 10 Authors. 10 Holidays. 10 Steamy Romances and please do check my fellow authors’ stories out, too!

Flashback Friday: New Mexico

While doing some spring cleaning yesterday, I came upon a set of negatives in an art folder and figured I might as well check out what was in it. After debating whether I really wanted to scrounge around for materials needed to make my own film lightbox, I found an iOS app called Film Developer that does it for you.

It’s not perfect but I just needed to see what were on the negative, in some sort of color. I also should have done a better setup so the pictures would end up clearer but this is a quickie version.

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Yup, that big butt on the right is mine, shopping for piñon nuts right before driving over the Gorge bridge

This was my first visit to New Mexico around 2004. I didn’t even know where it was on the map then and I had no idea what the Rio Grande was. It certainly didn’t look grand from the air because they looked like tiny streams.

This was also the first time I visited Taos and my friend took me to check out the Earthships at the Greater World Community. You can see it in the middle left where there’s a guy sifting gravel on the side. I remember how enamored I was of the sagebrush. They were everywhere!

The day before, we’d gone on a hike in Santa Fe and were totally unprepared. I thought he said we were going on a stroll but it turned out to be this hike and we ended up getting lost and then on private property and then accosted a herd of cows that didn’t look too welcoming. I felt like a city girl transplanted in who-knows-where and the altitude got me during that hike.

The guy in question’s long gone—as in moved on, got married, and we don’t talk anymore. But if it weren’t for him, I would never have written my New Mexico stories at all or discovered the Earthships where A Different Kind of Love series is firmly rooted. I also would never have seen just how vast and beautiful the New Mexico sky is.

I always knew I had stopped at a piñon stand during that trip but thought it had to be my imagination. Glad to know it wasn’t and there I am with my big butt jeans having a grand old time buying beef jerky and piñon nuts to take home with me to California.

Read Across America

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Today was Read Across America Day and so I, along with three other parents, read a story in my son’s classroom. It was my first time to do so and I had so much fun I didn’t even have time to document it with my phone, not even for social media.

I almost did, though. I had my phone in my hand in the beginning but I realized that you really can’t enjoy the moment and document it at the same time without losing something. And so I placed my phone back into my purse and set the purse in one corner.

That way, I was present 100 percent.

The first story I read was my son’s favorite, Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. Five children gathered around me including LIlDude and they listened as I read the book from cover to cover. I even told them something about copyright and how Hop on Pop first came out in 1963 and that made their eyes go wide.

1963 is basically a generation and a half for them.

A_Fish_Out_Of_Water_(book)_cover_artThe second book I read was A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer, based on a short story by her husband, Theodore Geisel’s (Dr. Suess) called Gustave the Goldfish.

Then the kids took turns reading. One read Cat in the Hat, another read I Can Read with my Eyes Shut, and another, A Wocket in my Pocket. We actually ran out of time but it was so much fun. It was wonderful to see the kids read aloud and with a lot of enthusiasm.

Growing up, no one read to us because it just wasn’t in our culture. Instead, we were told stories, not by our parents, but by the help and usually, they were scary stories right before bed.

It wasn’t all bad since it meant I had to learn to read the stories myself and so that’s what I did. I became a voracious reader and fell in love with fairy tales.

I’m glad many kids (at least in my son’s case) have access to books. It was great to see eight- and nine-year-old kids still into Dr. Seuss. Heck, I still love Dr. Seuss’ stories and I’m glad they didn’t ask me to read Cat in the Hat out loud because I would have performed it for them!

Hope you’re having a wonderful Friday! I’m writing up a storm this weekend and next week, after a big name author said it’s impossible to write a 50,000-word novel in seven days, I’m going to attempt to do just that. That’s 7,100 words per day, give or take.

Let’s do this.

Musings Over Coffee: The Choice to Go Indie

Last night, I came across backup files of my old websites hosted on Geocities. I found poetry, stories, and interviews I’d done with actors like Alan Cumming and Dan Futterman. I also found a newsletter.

Yes, apparently, I wrote newsletters then! This one is from Christmas 1999. Y2k anyone? (I’m really dating myself, aren’t I?)


What struck me with this newsletter is that this is when I made the decision to stop writing my stories and submitting them so I could focus on building my massage practice.

Also stored in the external drive was a romantic suspense novella (2001) that was formatted into an ebook using a program that created ebooks for your computer. Unlike the way ebooks work now, back then, you had to buy a program that would convert your novel into an ebook that could only be opened within that program.

Also back then, there was no such thing as digital publishing like the way it is now with ebook retailers such as Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, and so many more, with Amazon dominating the market by about 80%. If you wanted to be published back then, you had three choices:

  1. Submit to traditional publishers
  2. Publish your own book which includes forming your own press.
  3. Pay a vanity publisher to publish your book for a fee.

I never got around to do any of the three above although many members of my writing networking group did go #2 and #3 routes and they often held signings during the month to sell their books. Instead, I quit writing to focus on building my massage practice until 2012 when I began writing again to process my son’s autism diagnosis. I would then self-publish my first book in November 2014 and go full-time in 2016.

Currently, there’s a scandal going on in Romancelandia (as I’ve seen this field called) that involves a Brazilian author plagiarising lines from over 40 authors in her own books. She’s gone underground since the revelation but not before pinning the blame on ghostwriters and advice from publishing gurus that the only way to succeed in this business was to publish more books more often—like one book or more a month.

Long story short, it has devolved into “self-publishing is evil and crap” argument, where authors who offer their books free or for 99¢ must either be scammers or terrible writers because no self-respecting author would do such a thing. Readers have been given part of the blame for expecting more books more often from their favorite authors and also expecting them to be free or sold at a discount. And then there’s the “evil” Kindle Unlimited program that devalues books and authors’ hard work by offering a subscription service that allows readers to read exclusive-to-KU-books for $10/month, sometimes even less when there’s a promotion like last holiday’s $3 for 3 months’ subscription.

A quick side note: What I’d give to listen in on filmmakers and musicians whose movies and songs end up getting licensed by Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services. Does that mean they sacrifice $$$ for the visibility and exposure of their work to Netflix or Spotify’s millions of subscribers much like Kindle Select authors sacrifice $$$ for their books to be seen by the millions of subscribers of Kindle Unlimited?

I’m not going to argue whether KU is evil (I have half of my books in KU while the other half is available everywhere), whether perma-free books and 99¢ devalue my books or is a scammer’s tactic (my erotica pen name has a perma-free and so does Liz, with the perma-free available everywhere BUT Amazon and I also have 99¢ books), or whether I should limit my publishing output this year to two books a year because any more than must mean I’m a scammer who has to hire ghostwriters to meet the demand or the quality of my work must be crap.

No, I’m writing this over my now-cold coffee to say that I’m a self-published author because that’s the way I like it, I price my books a certain way as part of a marketing strategy, and I plan to release more books this year simply because I want to. I have so many stories to tell, and after holding myself back the last two years because of the whole ehrmagawd what will everyone think of the many books I want to write syndrome, I’m done with that. And yes, that includes releasing under different pen names.

Looking back at 2001 when creating an ebook meant one had to have a dedicated computer program to create the ebook with and read it on, we’ve come a long way to continue to cling to the belief that books are scarce and that authors are only amazing when vetted by a traditional publisher and that they have to publish only 2 – 3 books a year like the Big Five authors do.

Times have changed. People have changed.

Why do we have to go back to the way things were that primarily benefited only a select and oh-so-privileged-in-more-ways-than-one few?

Musings Over Coffee: Writing to Your Strengths

Years ago, I did the Personality Type test that said I was ENFP, a Campaigner. I posted the assessment results on my blog and then moved on, mainly because while it was cool to be someone who was “a true free spirit,” or “the life of the party,” I had no idea how it applied to my life as a writer.

“More than just sociable people-pleasers though, ENFPs, like all their Diplomat cousins, are shaped by their Intuitive (N) quality, allowing them to read between the lines with curiosity and energy. They tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected – but unlike Analysts, who tend to see that puzzle as a series of systemic machinations, ENFPs see it through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.”

-ENFP Personality, the Campaigner, 16 Personalities

Last month, I took a course by Becca Syme called Write Better Faster. It came highly recommended by authors I admired. It took me a while to get into it because I was still in the midst of tackling more projects than I could handle and feeling overwhelmed by them all. It also explains why I have four giveaways for February to celebrate the release of ONE novella.

It comes with the territory of being overwhelmed and not realizing I’d signed up for or set up so many promotions. All while trying to write three stories at the same time.

Anyway, back to Becca Syme’s course. Well, I finally had time to go through the lessons and one of the first things we had to do was take a personality test, the same test I took two years ago.

Guess what? Same result – ENFP.

But this time, Syme, who is also a life coach, explained the results in relation to being a writer or a creative. Her examples made sense as to why a very detailed story outline that I tell myself will take me two weeks to shape into a novel (as I pretend to be someone’s ghostwriter) often has me looking for more new projects instead… oh look! A squirrel!

It’s a vicious cycle but thanks to Syme’s Write Better Faster course, it’s a cycle I recognize doesn’t work for me and never did. The system that works for me is not an outline or an 8-image collage aesthetic. It’s a book cover, one that has my name on it already and the working title.

From that image, I go to town and write the story loosely following Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” and my understanding of Michael Hauge’s “identity to essence” which you can find here. When I’m stuck, I talk out loud to myself. Sometimes I talk to my characters (in my head) and ask them where they’re going with the story so far. Sometimes I write out the scene according to their eyes even if that chapter won’t make it into the final book. It’s my process and it turns out, it falls under my strengths as an ENFP.

I have my eighth-grade English teacher to thank for this, by the way. One day, she handed us a shoebox filled with pictures and she told us to select one picture and for the next half-hour, write something based on the photograph. It blew my mind and to this day, it’s one of the only days I remember from that year other than the one where I almost got suspended for writing an NSFW play months later… but that’s a story for another day.

So anyway, for so long I thought it wasn’t just weird. I thought it was wrong because I didn’t know anyone successful who did it. I mean, the successful authors in my peer group had visual schedules and publishing schedules that went all the way to two years with multiple series and books already outlined and written within the two-month window they allotted and then published. I mean, their systems worked. They rocked and they killed it in terms of sales and ranking. Of course, I wanted to do exactly what they were doing (although some now have ghostwriters to keep up with the crazy schedule).

Did it work?

Well, no, not for me.

So now I know better and accept that my process isn’t weird or wrong. It’s simply what works for me and I’m finally okay with that (I may have said I was okay with it before but I never believed it).

At this point, it’s not about writing or editing faster for me. It’s about letting my personality type work for me and not against me. So if I need a book cover to inspire that next story, then that cover will inspire that story. If I need to talk to myself or to my characters instead of writing the details down, then I talk as much as I want. It’s just the way my wiring works and after two years of trial and error, I’m glad I finally realized that the way I used to write was because of my wiring, my personality.

If you would like to find out how to write better faster, check out Syme’s course. I think she’s got a new one coming up this month. If not, sign up for her newsletter so you can stay updated about the next one. That’s how I heard about it. I signed up after one course was closed and then got signed up to the next one and I have no regrets.

Syme also has a new book out called Writer, You Need to Quit (and no, it’s not what you think).

Here’s the description:

The marketplace is crowded. The industry is moving fast. Everyone has opinions about how you should work and how you should run your business. If you’ve found this book, there’s a good chance you’ve heard them all. So, what am I saying that’s any different?

I’m saying, there are some things we all need to quit doing. What are they? Take a look inside and see.

Of course, you could still click away, and go about your business. Up to you, Neo. Red pill or blue pill?

I’ve coached a lot of writers–from the Uber-successful to the brand-new–and this book is a collection of what I’ve learned from watching patterns. There are some things we all need to quit, and I can tell you why.

So that’s pretty much all the musing I’m doing this Sunday. My coffee’s long gone cold and I might need something to eat before the caffeine hits me on an empty stomach.

What about you? What’s your personality type?