Bring It On, 2019!

It’s the 7th of January and although I’m running a bit behind on my resolutions, er, goals, it’s okay. It’s still January.

I’ve got a lot planned on my plate for 2019 and whether or not I get to check them off one by one remains to be seen. But what matters is that I have something to check off, first of all.

I have goals.

For most of 2018, I looked at the world with dread. Dread over current events. Dread over political rumblings. Dread over what’s going to happen next. Dread over someone reporting my books for the tiniest typo and I’d lose my Amazon account. Dread, dread, dread.

Basically, FEAR.

Suddenly the glass was half empty every damn day. There was nothing to refill it and why would there be if my social media diet consisted of checking Twitter every day and getting caught up in one political upheaval after another. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another and while I thought I’d emerge unscathed, I was wrong.

That fear spilled into my writing. I didn’t enjoy any of my releases until the last one, Friends with Benefits, when something inside me pleaded pleaded pleaded, please be happy. You made something beautiful.

I recognized that voice.

It was from the child who wrote her stories to save herself from a narcissistic mother. It was the child who did whatever she could to be seen by her equally narcissistic father. And when she wasn’t heard, she just wrote and wrote because she heard herself. She heard her words and they were beautiful. Full of hope. No judgment.

I heard her.

And who knows? Maybe my son heard her, too, because today, from the back seat, he said, “Mom, can you write a little boy in your story? Someone like me with a mom like you.”

So for 2019, I’m putting the blinders on. I’ve got stories to tell and until the day comes when I can’t tell them anymore, I’ll keep telling those stories, chugging along, giving the same stories that save me each and every day.

SO WHAT’S THE PLAN, LIZ?

The plan so far is to write three novels. Daniel Drexel’s story, Gareth’s, and Todd. There’s also a sequel with Sarah and Benny that’s been in the works for some time.

And then there is Love in Taos, ten steamy shorts that will correspond with certain holidays, slice-of-life stories that go between the books. They’ll have a lot of romance and maybe, steamy scenes.

It’s ambitious, yes, but they’re boxes I’ll check off every time I accomplish one of them. Boxes that will keep me busy.

And then there’s this:

Writing this book was one of the hardest things for me as a writer. I wanted to write so much but I never expected the pushback from alpha readers who hated their version of Ashe Hunter torn down word after word. I didn’t expect the vitriol with some of their reactions and so I gave up on the book, set it aside in my hard drive for a year and a half until my son’s school aide chanced upon it on the Kindle I had loaned her. She said she sat on the couch for all weekend until the Kindle ran out of charge, paced until the device had enough charge to show the book and continued reading.

Because of her, Loving Riley finally got dug out of the box I might as well label FEAR and it would become my biggest, most profitable launch ever, even bigger than all the other books that would come after it combined.

And now Ashe Hunter is coming to life on audio. In the book, he’s originally from northern England in a little town called Reeth close to Grassington and the Dales. Wuthering Heights country. I hope listeners won’t mind hearing the Northern accent in his deep voice but he’s the Ashe I’ve been waiting for all this time (with shades of Sean Bean, too) and I can’t wait to share him with you this year.

Happy New Year, everyone. It’ll be amazing.

This Writer’s New Year’s Resolutions

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Can you believe it?

2018 will be here in two days and guess that means it’s time for those new year resolutions! So far, here are mine:

  1. Write more. Just write, basically. I need to hit that goal of 3000 words a day and then edit later. Unless the muse strikes and then I write and edit and write some more. But that’s been a rare occurrence so I’ll just stick to writing it all down and editing later. Although I won’t beat myself up if I only write 1000 words a day or none at all. A writer is never not working. They’re plotting inside their heads. This includes my naughty pen.
  2. Exercise more. I’m finally buying that exercise bike with the attached desk because it only took me six months to decide which one to order. I also have to wait until we take down the tree to set it up.
  3. Stop comparing myself to other authors.
  4. Find five things to be happy about each day.
  5. Spend more time with friends even if it means walking with them five miles to the beach… and back. I’ll just have to recondition myself on that bike desk thingy.
  6. Eat healthy. I miss the days when I became a vegetarian after reading Under The Skin by Michel Faber (the movie with ScarJo was loosely based on the book but you need to read the book to understand what the hell was going on in the movie). That lasted six months and I stopped because I was eating way too much rice and also buying processed meals from Trader Joes which were laden with sodium. This time, it will take planning and while I won’t eliminate meat entirely – I’ll stick to chicken for now – I’ll be incorporating more grains and legumes.
  7. Pay more attention to what the kid needs outside of school-provided therapy. Behavioral therapy, most of all, so he’ll learn how to engage with his peers in a social setting.
  8. Make more art. In fact, after hand drawing over fifty greeting cards for the holidays, I need to go back to digital art and make them into greeting cards.

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    While I can’t sell these for licensing reasons, I can make them for myself and send them as notecards.
  9. Work towards that dream of moving to a bigger home. That means I gotta sell more books which means I gotta write more books.
  10. Be happy. Don’t stress out too much, not even when you accidentally leave your kid still in the cart at Ikea’s cart escalator thingy… (don’t worry, this was years ago and he was fine).

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Being Real

This morning I finally changed the official release date of my latest book on all outlets, and that was a big deal. It’s a big deal because that means I failed getting this book out on time for the third time in two years. It’s a big deal because I know it could be a hundred times better and the only way to get it there is to have the same editor who worked on the first book to also work on the second book and I waited too long to let her know that I needed help until I could no longer see the forest for the trees.

It’s a big deal because underneath that failure lies a bigger one I would not realize until later in the afternoon when I took my son to the autism specialist for his annual check-up. I saw it in the doctor’s eyes – the disappointment that I failed to do the one thing I was supposed to do last year. I dropped the ball on setting up one of the most important therapies outside the home for him because I simply forgot.

Why?

Because I had my eyes on something else – fame and success as an author.

Since last year (and up until this afternoon), I’ve been all about the numbers, the numbers, the numbers. Word counts, books, series(es), rankings, copies sold and whatever else that has to do with numbers. Royalties. Whatever everyone was doing, I had to do it, too. Box set? Sign me up! Another box set? Why not? Group promos? Bring it on, baby! Newsletter subscriber numbers? No big deal! I can hit 10K subscribers in no time and write all those emails according to automation sequences. It’s a numbers game, isn’t it?

Only the target kept moving, day in and day out. Someone is having a book release party, the second one that month; another one is ranked #10 in the Amazon store, and yet another one just announced they made six figures in one month and they’re now publishing their 26th book this year. And when I hit #798 in the paid ranking in the Amazon store, I thought it was a big deal until someone told me, nah, it’s top 100.

The target kept moving.

And with my eye on so many goals, even the ones that had me writing stories far from the ones I wrote, I lost sight of the one thing I needed to do above all else. I forgot to take care of the ones who needed me. Most specifically, a seven-year-old boy who can’t very well set up appointments for himself because his mom’s got her priorities all effed up.

But today it all caught up with me. The look in the doctor’s eyes told me everything and my answer even more.

“I forgot.”

But I can’t forget anymore, not when it comes to family, and my son’s well-being, his future.

The target will always keep moving but one thing has to remain constant in my life – and that’s family. My son, most of all.

The book is delayed. Cancel your preorder if you have to. We all have to do what we have to do.