One More Day (for the giveaways)

I’ve got one more day left before the two holiday hops I’m participating in end tomorrow. The first one is the Dirty Santa Blog Hop and I’m giving away a straight to Kindle copy of Falling for Jordan and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Dirty Santa for December Blog Hop

Click the cute guy banner above to go to the post and enter.

The second one is the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop (on Facebook) where I give away a paperback copy of Loving Ashe AND a Coach side-wristlet. It’s all packed and ready to go in its shipping envelope.

But the giveaways don’t stop there!

There are three $100-Amazon gift cards up for grabs and over 60 participating authors are also giving away goodies like ebooks, an Aussie summer gift pack, and more!

xmas_giveaway-ashe

Don’t believe me? Here’s a cute video I made and it’s so cute (and just might put me into the holiday spirit!) that I have to show it off! Oh, and it has music…

Here’s the link to enter the Holly Jolly Chick lit hop on my page and don’t forget to join the private Facebook group for a chance to win one of three grand prizes, a $100 Amazon Gift Card! The group will only be live for the chick lit hop and will be deleted after it’s over.

After this week, I’m officially taking time off for the rest of the holiday as far as giveaways are concerned. We haven’t even decorated the Christmas tree although we finally brought down the ornaments that hubby stored way in the back of the attic. I was almost going to buy new ones this morning but he came through and brought them down last night.

This weekend also marks the start of those holiday parties where I’ll be wishing I wrote under a pen name from the beginning (and that’s probably the one piece of advice I’ll give anyone aspiring to write romance, erotic romance or erotica. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20).

Coming from a very conservative and religious extended family network (where we’re all “related”), I expect there’ll be questions about how much I make and how much weight I’ve gained. And then there’s the possibility of an exorcism from the religious aunt who last year asked me to stop teaching reflexology or acupressure because it’s the work of the devil. It’s enough to give me anxiety attacks just thinking about it.

I better not tell anyone that I write erotica, too…

 

 

It’s a Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop (over on FB)

Yup! It’s the second year I’m joining sixty-two (62) fellow chick lit and rom-com authors in the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop and it’s a big one! So if you’re a fan of chick lit of romantic comedies, make sure to check out the hop and enter to win some amazing prizes from your favorite and new-to-you authors as well as the main prizes that include $100 Amazon gift cards, perfect for buying more books!

So what’s my giveaway?

Well, it’s one of my books, some book swag, and a Coach side-wristlet that perfectly matches the book. (It only took me an hour to finalize the darn graphic below, but it’s so color-coordinated I’m chuffed to bits!)

xmas_giveaway-ashe

To enter, you’ll need to click on the image or here to go to my Facebook page and enter.  It should be the pinned post on the page and the contest goes on until December 16 so definitely check it out.

On an unrelated note, I posted something about the fire off the 405 freeway a few hours ago but ended up deleting it after learning that a stable/ranch where I’ve gone to ride horses lost everything, including 30 horses. Shortly after that, my phone blared to notify me to stay on high alert because strong winds overnight means extreme fire danger. <sigh> Such is life. It’s been surreal the past few days. Heck, make it the past year!

Musings Over Coffee: Put On Those Blinders

I was grounded so much when I was growing up that all I had were books, usually Readers Digest books that my mom would order. Classics, Seven Wonders of the World, Ghost Stories, those kinds of titles, and the annual almanac (do they still have those?). Then one day I found this paperback with a torn cover hidden away on the top shelf in my room and the prologue and first chapter baffled and shocked 12-year-old me so much I had to read the rest of the 800 pages of that book. The book made me laugh, cry, root for the hero and then mourn him (sorry, spoiler although not exactly a spoiler when the prologue was also the epilogue). It was called The Adventurers by Harold Robbins. It was then I wanted to be a writer.

Then in 2nd-year high school (eighth grade here in the US, I think), I almost got suspended for writing this steamy (and taboo) romance drama that got circulated between classmates during homeroom. I was sent to the guidance counselor for an evaluation and then to Sister Gerri who told me that she’d pull me from Drama Club and put me into Poetry Club (I don’t think she told my mom and maybe that was the deal then) so I could channel whatever frustrations I was going through. Back then, I thought it was such punishment that I plagiarized a Shakespeare sonnet and submitted it to the club. And to my horror, they published it in the school paper with my name on it. I figured I’d probably end up doing penance by writing original stories from then on.

It’s been a tough road since those good ol’ days when I thought I could be everything I wanted. I’ve made so many mistakes along the way and through it all, books and stories sustained me. Fate led me to people who would get me into conferences that had Frank McCourt, Mitch Albom, H.W. Merwyn, Neil Gaiman, James Elroy, and Jane Smiley on the list of speakers and I even hung out with Ray Bradbury twice when I was an officer for a small South Bay writing group called Southwest Manuscripters. I learned from these people, not about publishing companies or how publishing works, but about the importance of STORY. Just tell the story and keep writing.

Put on those blinders and write.

It’s been three years since I published my first book and today, I just released the seventh, a shorter novel called Falling for Jordan. It’s the first book I’ve written where I feature my Filipino culture prominently for the first time and maybe that’s why it’s a shorter novel than most of my books. I’m sure if I’d let myself go, it would have probably hit 200K words and contain a full glossary of terms and a recipe section. The characters in it are also not perfect by a long shot, but then who is?

If I were to ask the person I was three years ago who tentatively published her first book what she thought she’d be doing three years later, I’m sure she’d never have thought she’d be publishing her seventh book—or still be writing for that matter. So if you want to write, write. Worry about the story first and then the rest later (formatting, editing, cover, etc.). Don’t even worry about the critics especially when the voice of one critic can often drown out the rest of the non-critics, the ones who actually enjoyed your stories. Don’t even worry so much about the rules like passive voice and purple prose. You gotta start somewhere and if you worry too much about the rules, you won’t get anywhere. Especially these days, when the rules that used to be in place often no longer apply.

Except for one: Just write.

And another: Keep writing.

 

The Academic on Facebook Live #musicsunday

I’ve never heard of this band before but they’re my newest favorites. Here they are doing a Facebook Live event and taking advantage of the delay that comes with such things. I actually can’t figure out how it works or how they figured it out, but I love it just the same.

And I guess that’s the point. Enjoy!

We created a first-of-its-kind Facebook Live performance of our latest single, “Bear Claws,” using the audio/video time lag to create a mesmerizing visual loop sampler.

Here’s how: We rearranged each instrument on “Bear Claws” to fit Facebook Live’s delay, with each loop getting more complex, adding instruments, rhythms, and melodies. Additionally, by projecting the video live from a soundstage we created an infinite tunnel consisting of all the previously recorded loops.

‘Bear Claws’ is available everywhere now: http://smarturl.it/BearClaws
Watch the official video: https://youtu.be/hXoBj5HZ1hU
Tour dates: http://bandsintown.com/theacademic

Anne Rice: “There is no justice in the world of book reviewing.”

I have one more point to make on the matter of reviews, and I think it is an important one. There is no justice in the world of book reviewing, and any author in any time in history, is likely to come up against negative reviews that seem unfair. There is no way really to avoid this. And it is another reason why many authors don’t read reviews at all and shouldn’t. Answering a review is really pointless. Even if it contains the grossest inaccuracies, you will come off as defensive if you attempt to clarify what you see as injustice, misrepresentation, or misunderstanding.

However, you have every right as an author to be privately upset, aggrieved and angry and hurt by reviews. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are immature or over sensitive if you respond to a review with private tears. Sensitivity and deep emotions are virtues for writers. Growing a thick skin is not good advice for any artist. You want to “feel” and “feel deeply.” So when you find yourself brutally hurt by what seems an unfair or vicious review, let those feelings surface, commiserate with other authors, do whatever you can to give voice to the pain, get through it and move on. Again, there is no justice in the world of fiction reviewing. Some of the greatest books ever written have been slammed by reviewers and some of the greatest writers in English have been deeply scarred by reviews. It’s normal. Keep that in mind and I think things will go easier for you.

 Anne Rice on Facebook, May 14, 2017

Posting this here because negative reviews for any author is hard. That’s why the established ones tell you not to read them. It can destroy dreams and convince you that you’re no good. And one interesting thing about negative reviews or harsh critiques; it’s the only thing we remember over all the good ones.

It’s like one or two negative reviews negate ten positive ones because we’re just so hard-wired to be as good as we can be and oh-my-god but one person doesn’t like it and so I have to make sure I address all her concerns.

But stories sometimes have to be told the way they’re told. And some stories touch us and never let go and some don’t. Reader, move on. Writer, do the same thing. Don’t dwell.

Besides, there are more stories to be told.

Anne Rice: “Critics and perfectionists are destroyers. Writers create.”

Whether you want to be a great popular writer, or a literary writer, a poetic writer, an immortal examiner of the human condition, you must finish your writing in some readable form. You must finish a short story or you must finish a novel. Until you do that, until you have a finished work in hand, there is little or no reason to talk about publishing. Your main impulse must be to complete your story, or realize your concept for a novel to the very fullest extent.

I cannot talk here about the appetite for short stories. I don’t know enough about it.

But I can tell you when it comes to novels, the world is as hungry today as ever for new voices, new perspectives, new authors, new bestsellers. I doubt there has ever been a more vital time. The world today loves fiction in all forms. So be assured as you work towards the completion of your novel that there are indeed people waiting to read it, waiting to be blown away by it, waiting to find the next bestseller or the next literary genius.

It is true that on occasion, writers have approached publishers with incomplete manuscripts. I think Margaret Mitchell might be the most famous example. But this is rare.

What editors at New York houses want to see is completed work. They want to know that you as a writer can accomplish the full satisfying completion of your book. And you must put all your efforts into completion, into producing a finished manuscript that you are ready to show to the world.

As you work towards that goal, protect your vision, protect your story, your characters, from idle tongues, or cheap dismissal. Be careful as to who reads your work. And be ready to thank critics politely and ignore what they have to say. Criticism is easy. Anyone can tear a book to pieces. But writers are those who create books, in spite of critics, and that is what you want to be. I can’t emphasize this enough. Never take some one person’s negative view of your work seriously. Remember what you find useful in their criticism but remain faithful to your vision and keep going. Critics and perfectionists are destroyers. Writers create.

Anne Rice on Facebook, May 13, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 8.55.32 PM
Screenshot. Because WP can’t embed.

Musings Over Morning Coffee: We’re Storytellers. We Don’t Quit.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a love affair with books. One of my first favorite books was one about crystals and how they’re formed. Another one was Hans Christian Andersen’s original version of the Little Mermaid–you know, the one where the mermaid actually becomes the foam in the ocean, i.e. she didn’t get her Prince Charming. It was a picture book that, like the one about crystals and geodes, I’d peruse every day, cover to cover.

I also loved telling stories, at first masking them as dreams I’d tell my friends in fourth grade until one of them, Carla, said, “Wait a minute! This isn’t a dream! It’s a story, isn’t it?”

That was the end of my storytelling days with Carla, but it was good while it lasted.

I started to write my stories then. Thank goodness there was no shortage of legal-sized reams of paper from my grandfather who was a retired judge. I guess they used legal-sized paper for all their briefs and correspondence so I inherited them all. I’d fold them in half and make booklets of my stories complete with hand=drawn images of the characters. This would continue until high school although this time, I inherited a typewriter for Christmas and I’d type at all hours of the night until the neighbors would yell for me to go to bed from their windows.

My books and stories became a solace for me. It was where I retreated when the world was too much–and I also got grounded a lot so it didn’t faze me if I couldn’t watch TV or talk to my friends over the phone. There were always books and since my mom was an avid collector, she couldn’t very well empty out my bedroom where she’d stored some of them. So I read. I read the books that she read, so at 12, I’d already gobbled up Harold Robbins, Colleen McCullough, James Clavell, James A. Michener, Pearl S. Buck, Herman Hesse and much more.

This is the only one I remember borrowing at that time because I couldn’t let my grandfather see it or he’d rip it in half and I’d have to hunt high and low to replace it.

I didn’t get introduced to romances until I was 14 when my classmates passed them around: Harlequin, Mills & Boon, and Sweet Dreams. Unfortunately, my grandfather considered them trash and would rip them in half if he caught me with them (he lived next door) and so I read them during recess.

Yep, I dated myself there, but that’s okay.

Still, I’d continue reading as long as there were libraries to go to and books to borrow and buy. I majored in Journalism and was picked as Editor-in=Chief of the college paper even though I preferred being the Features Editor. I moved houses a lot and wherever I went, my books went with me. When I moved away from home, I sought solace in libraries and bookstores. When Borders was still around, it was almost like my second home. I met with fellow writers on Sunday afternoons, got to see James Elroy cuss and talk about his books, and just sit and browse and buy. I never left that store without a book or two. This time, the books weren’t just fiction; they were non-fiction, too. Most of them were on graphic and web design like Photoshop, Illustrator, Javascript, Dreamweaver, and Frontpage because, by this time, I was also designing websites for clients. I was self-taught, thanks to my love of books.

But I also kept writing. This time I wrote fan fiction and poetry. I figured fan fiction stories had an instant audience which would allow me to hone my craft using their feedback while poetry would get me through tough times. And boy, were there a lot of tough times like broken hearts and general disappointments, typical fodder for most of my poetry then.

I stopped writing around 2004, and sad to say, but it was over a broken heart. I wouldn’t write again until 2012, two years after my best friend, Pam, told me two weeks before she died that she hoped I’d keep on writing and that she looked forward to holding my book in her hands.

By 2012, I was back at writing again and two years later, I published Finding Sam on November 17, 2014. On June 18, 2015, I published Loving Ashe and on December 15, 2015, A Collateral Attraction. Self-doubt hit me hard for the first part of 2016 and I wouldn’t publish the fourth book, Everything She Ever Wanted, until October 12, 2016.

Self-doubt would return in 2017 and almost take down the next book, but thanks to readers who never stopped believing in me and my passion for my stories whether others like it or not, Loving Riley, the paperback version, was published yesterday on Amazon. The digital version is scheduled for April 26.

Why am I rambling like this? Because the last two days, I’ve been seeing authors on Facebook talk about giving up. One of them said he’d been doing this for two years, had written three books and he was just a failure. So why continue? Therefore he was giving up and moving on to other things.

Two years.

It made me think of how long I’ve been at this writing thing and it’s been more than two years, or even four or six. I’d say decades in my case because even though I may have let go of the wheel at times (personal issues, family, motherhood, career), I never gave up on the destination.

It’s not to say that I’d never thought of giving up, but my passion for telling my stories has always been greater than the desire to move on and do other things. There simply were “no other things” for me. It’s just me and my stories.

So if you’re a writer and wondering why you’re not getting any sales and that maybe your stories are shite and you should just give up, don’t. Look around, ask for help and guidance. If you’re a romance writer and you’re not on Facebook, get thee to Facebook. That’s where your readers are. I didn’t believe it two years ago but I’m such a believer now. Friend me on there and I’ll show you which groups you can check out. Same goes for fantasy, urban and sci-fi. The wealth of information to be had in Facebook groups is priceless. It got me from clueless to having a clue about what I was missing in this ever-evolving business called indie publishing. It got me feeling comfortable wearing the business hat and not just the creative writer hat. It got me from feeling depressed about where I was in my author career to confident knowing that I wasn’t alone in the struggle. It got me from feeling envious of other authors’ success to rejoicing with them because, hey, we’re all in the same boat. We’re in this together. We’re storytellers. We tell our stories.

We also don’t give up that easily.

Winning entry for my Instagram contest for a Loving Riley paperback

Keep Writing

“On the surface, the book is a satire of Soviet antics and recriminations through the lens the devil visiting Moscow. Below this layer, however, The Master and Margarita is a Faustian tale of a writer and his struggle to publish his life’s work. It’s the story of a man questioning the purpose of striving when happiness seems forever unobtainable. It’s a work of historical fiction, a deep and moving exploration of the cowardice and guilt of Pontius Pilate’s betrayal of Jesus. It aligns two worlds—Stalin’s Moscow and Caesar’s Jerusalem—in its depiction of the dictators’ omniscient presence and the consequences for individuals living beneath them. It’s the story of the writer and his muse, told in the rich Russian tradition; it shows loss and the redemptive power of love as well as anything rendered in Doctor Zhivago and Anna Karenina, replete with all of the intricacies and foibles of humans in relationships.”

In the Face of Constant Censorship, Bulgakov Kept Writing, LitHub

I have two translations of Master and Margarita by Mikhael Bulgakov and I’m ready to dive into it again.  It’s one of those books you just can’t read and forget, or read along with three other books at the same time in your Kindle library.  I actually have the paperbacks as well as one version in iBooks.  It’s one of those books that makes you think.

Today, as I scrolled through my Facebook and Twitter timeline, I wondered how one could continue writing romances as the world around me feels like it’s going through a rough patch of turbulence – and it’s only just the beginning.  Shouldn’t I be doing something else?

But then I look at everyone I know who still has to go to work in the morning, whatever it is they may be doing; the checker at the supermarket, the mailman, and the teachers.  We all have to keep on doing the same thing. We have to keep living no matter all the gloom and doom our Facebook timelines may show.

And so I have to keep writing.

Speaking of writing, today I made the important decision to announce the release of my next book.  It’s the second book of the Celebrity series, the duet to complete Loving Ashe titled Loving Riley.  It’s Ashe Hunter’s story that straddles literary fiction, contemporary romance, and a little mystery.  It’s a book that I’ve agonized over for the past year until it crippled my self-confidence, and it’s time to let it go.

I have to keep writing.

Want to be the first to take a peek at the brand new cover (different from the one I showed in the latest version of Loving Ashe, unfortunately)?  

Here it is!

Two More Days, A Book Launch Party and Brendan James

Yep, two more days before Everything She Ever Wanted goes live!  This is my fourth book out of the gate, so to speak, and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s my first release for 2016 and like my heroine, Harlow James, it feels like a new beginning.

esew_ad_offkilter

If you’d like to read the first four chapters, get to know Harlow and Dax here or download the sneak peek from Instafreebie here.

If you’re on Facebook, my friends and I will be hosting a Mid-October Book Party on Saturday, October 15 and you’re invited!  If we’re FB friends, you’ll see the Page, and if we’re not, why aren’t we?  This is my FB profile so do say hi!

Mid-October Book Launch Party

Not to have this just book-related (at least, not completely), my favorite singer-songwriter is touring for the next 5 weeks and if he’s in your neighborhood, go check him out and say hi.  Brendan James‘ songs fueled much of Dax and Harlow’s story and even my 6-year old loves his songs.  He streamed his latest stop in Seattle via Facebook Live and the energy is just amazing!