“There’s a story that wants to be told…”

ursulakleguin-quote

It’s Friday and I’m scrolling through the hundreds of drafts on my dashboard but never published and this was one of them. I don’t even know why I didn’t press that button but it could have been the many distractions that plague me from text messages, PMs, or the latest notification on my phone about some author drama or other.

But now that there’s not much distracting me at the moment, I’m publishing this one because it rings true for me. Not sure if it does for other writers but for me, there are many stories that need to be told and I just need to find the time to write and/or complete them, especially the four novels on my hard drive just waiting to be finished.

But at least there’s 2020 coming up. Hopefully by then, I’ll have gotten my act together and put the blinders on. Stay in my lane. Write the stories. Find my joy.

How’s your Friday going?

I Did It!

Yup, I wrote 51k words in November! It wasn’t for one book per se but two novellas (under 40k word books) although I don’t know when I’ll publish them.

I’ve kinda become gun-shy about publishing my books fast because the deeper I get into a series, the more I mess up the timeline because I forget what happened three years before book 1 or what color the heroine’s eyes were in Book 2. That’s also what happens when you’ve got too many stories swirling inside your head and even more characters just waiting for their turn.

CarlyQ and I used to talk about the bar inside my head where my characters all wait until I’m ready for them. The original guys—Ashe, Gareth, and Devlin (nope, didn’t forget him, Carly!)—have been waiting a while and they’re long overdue to come back even though Greg is basically in HEA (Happily-Ever-After) land.

I actually found the perfect interpretation of my characters’ current hangout in Gabe Leonard‘s work. He’s a painter who got his start on the boardwalks of Venice and his art is so full of mystery and energy.

The paintings below are featured in his book Power Love & Success which I’m eagerly awaiting in the mail any day now! My absolute favorites are Smoke Screen and Shark Tank because I see my billionaire characters in them especially the men my Naughty Pen writes about.

 

With December already here, it means there are only 30 days left before the end of the decade! Hard to believe, huh?

So far, my plans are to keep writing my books. And not just Liz’s books that are filled with emotional angst (and sometimes food) but other pen name books as well because there’s a thing called brand and once established, you really do have to maintain it. And the other pen names are there to scratch that itch of writing stories that are off-brand, that are insta-love and smutty, and sometimes dark, too. And since my goal for 2020 is for us to move into a bigger house, that means a lot more books need to be written.

What about you? What’s your plan for the last month of the decade?

Under My Skin

66832903_2322341924522642_1472530808743919616_n

I’m slowly re-learning how I roll when it comes to writing the stories I love even if it means falling in love with my heroes and heroines. I need to have them crawling under my skin until I have no choice but dream about them and think about them until I can’t take it anymore and give in.

It means a slower process, but if it brings me back to the way I used to write, with wild abandon and finding myself eager to get out of bed so I can write out their stories, then I’m all for it.

TLDR; These two refuse to leave me alone. (Also why I’ve had to set aside the firefighter story I was working on…)

Talking Out Loud: So… What’s Next?

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 1.10.42 PM

Now that my first story for 2019 is out, I honestly don’t know what’s next. I’m too busy procrastinating doing everything else but start a new book or finish the one I’ve been procrastinating about.

That’s not to say I’m not writing. I’m writing.

Kinda.

There’s The Replacement Fiancee that I just swore on Twitter that I’d set aside until way later because I lost my grip on the story and I had no idea who the heroine really is. She actually started out being a successful programmer who is so used to technology that when she finds herself face to face with a wood stove, she has no clue how to get the fire going.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 1.07.08 PM
One of these things

I said “going,” not started. She can start it alright. She just can’t get it going warm and hot.

But somewhere along the way, I questioned everything about her, wondering if I’m being too ambitious about my heroine being SO accomplished, and so she became this clueless, hapless socialite who can’t light a stove to save her life (or figure out her life, for that matter).

But the programmer heroine is having none of the change and she wants back in and there, I think, lies my conundrum with the story. While the muse of the story (the programmer) has been trying to get back into the pages, I’ve been busy pushing her out and shaping her to be someone else, the abovementioned socialite. It’s the same struggle I go through now when I write my stories: do I write to market or write what I really want to write? Because let’s face it, writing the stories I want to write hasn’t helped my sales numbers lately.

But in the end, it’s all about Kondo-ing this part of my life. I need to keep the things that spark joy, as Marie Kondo says, even if I have to talk out loud on my blog to do it.

bringsyoujoy

Bad Boy or Good Guy Love? #awritersfebruaryromance

IMG_8561

I’ve recently joined an Instagram challenge called #awritersfebruaryromance and what I like about it is that it’s geared toward authors. Most of the ones I’ve seen are usually for readers and so when I spotted this one two days late, I jumped right in.

Today, the challenge was Bad Boy or Good Guy Love? Based on what my Liz pen name writes, it’s all good guys with the exception of Gareth Roman (Loving Ashe/Loving Riley) who does some pretty bad things.

My naughty pen loves writing about rich bad guys and I’m about to dive into writing a Reverse Harem romance featuring some badass security guys. But most likely, I’ll probably end up giving them hearts of gold and have to stop myself from turning them into cinnamon roll heroes before I know it.

Did you know there’s even a term for that kind of hero? I sure didn’t but turns out, I write about them… a lot. There are five of them so far in one series alone!

first-three-books

Why Do You Write Love Stories, Mom?

On the drive to school this morning, Lil Dude asked me why I write “love stories.” He’s just turned nine and has seen my books and keeps the first editions of them (the not so steamy ones) on his shelf.

I didn’t answer his question right away. I kinda hemmed and hawed before I realized that I was a bit embarrassed to write love stories instead of serious literary fiction ones. So I told him that I didn’t use to write love stories when I started out. I wrote women’s fiction, historical adventure fiction specifically, and then paranormal stories about vampires, changelings, and ghosts.

He made a face when he heard this but I added that with all the stories I wrote, many readers said the same thing: You write about relationships very well.

So to make a long story short, my readers made the decision for me. Sure, I write stories that have adventure, mystery, even a ghost or two depending on my mood, but in a world where everything needs to be put in categories, genres, and tropes, my readers helped guide me to the right lane.

I write love stories. Real and honest romance, as a few of them have said.

“I like your love stories, Mom,” he said and my day has been going great ever since.

collage-every-breath2
Every Breath: A Valentine’s Day Slice-of-Life Novella falls on the very very steamy side of romance and will most likely not end up in LilDude’s bookshelf, but if you like steamy love stories, then definitely check it out! It’s scheduled for release on February 8, 2019.

“Let the Phone Ring…”

I’m halfway through the holiday novella and I need to get this baby done in the next three days. 15k more words to go before I can then tackle all the other projects waiting their turn for the last two months. Sometimes I don’t know why I do this to myself but when I get to certain parts of my story that make me go “aaawwww,” I realize it’s all worth it.

So allow me to introduce you to florist Mariah and her friend Logan, the main characters in the upcoming novella (November 1, 2018), Her Temporary Engagement:

temp-engagement (1)

“Alright, let’s try this.” Logan takes my hand and brings it to his lips. They’re warm and soft, his day-old stubble tickling my skin.

“That’s… that’s nice,” I whisper, feeling my cheeks burn with embarrassment. Do I really need tips on how to react to a man kissing the back of my hand? Well, apparently, in Logan’s case, I do.

“And this?” His other hand moves up toward my face, his hands warm against my cheek, his thumb along my chin.

“Um… that’s nice, too.”

“Don’t giggle,” he murmurs. “I’m serious here. He’s still watching us, you know.”

My eyes widen. “He is?”

“Him and a woman. They’re standing by the front door.”

“Oh, sh–”

“Close your eyes.”

I should know what’s coming next. After all, I’ve secretly wondered how it would feel like to be kissed by Logan Garrison. I close my eyes as he moves his face closer, his cologne mingling with the faint scent of leather and motor oil, making my stomach clench. The kiss is faint and soft, our lips almost touching, our breaths warming the barest of space between us. It’s as if time decided to stand still at that moment, making every millisecond count until our lips touch.

But they don’t.

That’s because my phone buzzes from inside my jacket and in my panic, I pull away. Why do I feel like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing? I fumble for my phone and tap on the display, a text message from my manager appearing on the screen.

Merry Christmas, boss! Just uploaded the day’s numbers and will be back at the shop on the 26th.

I make a face. I’ve never been so annoyed by a text message before.

“Work?”

I nod as I turn off my phone and slip it back into my pocket, the kiss I didn’t realize I’d been waiting for all these years now gone.

“Talk about timing, right?”

“It is practice,” he murmurs. “I just don’t want you acting surprised when it happens in front of everyone.”

I take a step closer. “Why don’t we try it again? You know, just to be sure we get it right.”

“Next time, Mariah,” Logan murmurs as his head dips lower, his fingers soft against my cheek, “let the phone ring.”