The Reviews Are (Coming) In!

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“…still loving Ashe” 

I am in love with this series and these characters… I loved the narration (his voice melts me like butter). Loved the twists in the storyline, the sweet romance and of course the HEA…

“Great voice brings the story to life” 

This book was the second in the series and the story takes up just where we left off in the first and didn’t disappoint. plus the narrator’s voice captured my mental image of Ashe perfectly and I can’t wait for the next in line in the series. 

“Riley and Ashe…”

Ashe and Riley have overcome so much. The secrets revealed in this book were so worth waiting for. I loved the characters determination. The storyline has heartbreak, perseverance, love, humor, and vengeful ex-lover. Martin John Hopkins is the perfect voice for this book told from Ashe’s point of view. I really enjoyed his sexy accent.

It’s been a few weeks since the audio narration of Loving Riley was released and the reviews are coming in. If you’ve left your review, thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed the story. If you’d like a free copy to review, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you an Audible code which you can redeem.

You can listen to the sample here.

AUDIBLE ITUNES

Perfection

Today, while going through one of my old books looking for a quote that I had the word “perfect” in it, I realized that I used the word in this particular book so much. In fact, I lost count how often I did. Whether it had to do with the occasion, the setting, the love interest, even what he wore, it was all “perfect.”

The discovery made me think of our goal as writers especially in light of a negative review I received on another book about the continuity, lack of editing, grammatical errors, blah blah blah. That particular review stung a bit and made me think that yes, that book did use an editor and maybe that editor, who was new, didn’t do a good job as I would have liked, just as I may not have done a good job in getting the timelines straight even in light of my Series Bible and timeline charts that I wrote down. Or maybe my English grammar skills just sucks balls… who knows?

But I digress…

As authors, we want to write that perfect book, the one that will have readers gushing over our characters and our stories, the one that will change lives, even if it’s only for that one brief moment of, wow, that author really took me away from my problems…

And sometimes we hit it right on the nose… and sometimes we miss by a mile.

But it doesn’t change the fact that most authors, myself included, start writing a story with a goal that it will be perfect on publishing day. But at the same time, if I sought perfection with my books, I would have none published…ever. Perfection is good just as it can be used as a crutch for not doing something unless it’s absolutely perfect.

I’ve been writing since I was 13. I’ve been plagued by that perfection curse for decades and for decades, I had nothing published because I was never going to be as good as this author or that author. Even when editors returned my manuscripts and told me it was ready to go, in my head, I told myself that I was never going to be good enough. Perfection made that thought possible every single day even as I saw friends take advantage of the ebook revolution that hit in 2011 onwards. You can do better than this, that voice would say, and I believed it.

Until one day, I thought, screw that, and hit the publish button.

Of course, that first book was terrible but I’d like to think I got better with each book. Sometimes I would lose my way and my focus, especially when I started realizing that it wasn’t enough to just write the words but to market and plan and promote at the same time. It got worse when I developed comparison-itis syndrome and told myself I’d never be as good as the current author I happened to be reading. There were times, like last year, I absolutely hated myself and felt cursed for my supposed gift of writing terrible stories.

But there are other days, too, like the ones when I wake up raring to write down the words, following my muse wherever he or she takes me. These are the days when I’m my happiest, when I put on the blinders and it’s just me and the words and the characters who live their crazy lives on the page and make my heart and soul sing… although I have to admit that it’s a nice bonus when those same words, perfect or not, pay the bills, too.

A Lazy Saturday

With spring in session, I really should get out more. Instead, today, I spent most of the day writing especially now that it seems like my writer’s block is over and I feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time. The words still don’t come out as easily but it’s coming and that’s what matters. I’m currently at 9k words and that’s an improvement after I deleted everything and decided to start over.

For now, though, the little prince and I are making slime for the first time. I never thought I’d end up making slime but we’ll be heading to the store soon to buy Borax, white glue, and food coloring. Wish me luck!

Tomorrow, I’ll be reviewing a book I’ve been looking forward to. It’s by Carrie Lomax, whose first book I reviewed back in December or so, Holiday Heat. It’s since been re-titled to Say You’ll Stay and her second book in the series, Say You Need Me, just came out. I read till almost 2am last night and told myself to stop and continue later today. It’s that good and I so love smart and sexy and steamy romances that feature multi-faceted characters, and I can’t wait to share my review with you tomorrow!

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In the meantime, you can find Say You Need Me by Carrie Lomax on Amazon, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Before I go, I received a lovely review today from @BookWhore_am_i. I just love surprise reviews!

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Musings Over Coffee (That’s Still Brewing): Life is Too Short

No matter how often I tell myself and everyone to do what they want to do and write what they want to write, I still have this (un)conscious desire to please everyone. So it’s no surprise when I feel devastated when someone leaves scathing reviews like, “I’m glad I didn’t shell out any money for this book but I’m so leaving a 1-star rating anyway because this was just ridiculous!” “A waste of time!” “Characters are one-dimensional!” “Hero is effeminate” Blah blah blah blah blah…

Anyone would feel bad, I guess. But I’ve gotten better since. I think it’s called developing thick skin because if you want to be an author, you better develop one. And fast. Or you’re not going to make it in this world. You’ll quit and worse, believe that you’re no good.

But the thing is, you ARE good. And most importantly, you wrote a f**king story. They didn’t.

I’ve always believed that reading a book is not a cut and dry affair. It’s not black and white. Perception of the words and stories within those pages go through so many filters within the reader’s mind. That’s why you’ll have readers who swear they love the book and readers who’ll swear they hated everything about it. Stories go through filters, and those filters are things that an author cannot control. What we control are the stories we write. We can’t control how the reader perceives it.

So let the naysayers go. Listen to what they have to say; sure, sometimes they do have a point, but at the same time, balance it out with the good things you know are in your story. Fight for your characters, defend them. Know that you’re writing for YOU first and foremost, and not for the reader – unless you’re writing straight to market then by all means, write for the reader.

If you wanted your story to be different, leave it the way it is. The right readers will come. The wrong ones… they’ll move on.

As my younger brother said today when he called to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day and wondered why I was withholding all the steamy scenes from my stories (and we were also discussing our cousin’s sudden passing), “life is too short. Just write it. Who cares what THEY think?”

Musings About Literary Trails – Yorkshire

“This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.”

Source: Literary Trails – Culture | Welcome to Yorkshire

Nope, I’ve never been to Yorkshire although it’s high on my bucket list to visit. And today, while receiving my first one-star review for Loving Ashe on Amazon (I’m good though – don’t worry), I decided to check out the reviews on Google Play since as of yesterday, I discovered that I had 44 reviews there. Who knew that Amazon isn’t the only place that people actually take the time to leave reviews?!

This morning, Loving Ashe got a few more and one of them said this:

What I love about this is that she mentions where Ashe Hunter grew up – Reeth in North Yorkshire. Not a lot of readers mention Ashe’s beginnings when they talk about the book, but it was one of the things I wanted for my hero – for him to grow up in a place steeped in literature, from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, two of my favorite books.

I wanted him to grow up as a sheep farmer’s son, grounded in family and hard work. I wanted a hero who was introspective, who loved taking walks along the Dales and appreciated nature. One day, I’d like to be the one to experience it all, too.

What about you? What’s on your bucket list?

Thank You!

Thank you so much for these reviews for Finding Sam!

For my first book, released in November 2014, it’s nice to know that, two years later, people are finally discovering Sam and Erik, and even after so much self-doubt as an author, know that their story touches people more than I ever expected.


The Enemy of Creativity

“Don’t think.  Thinking is the enemy of creativity.” – Ray Bradbury

I’ve been thinking a lot this past year.  Too much, in fact.  While last year and the year before that were filled with such bursts of creativity it was overwhelming, this year has been filled with nothing but overthinking.

“Is my story good enough?” “Do I have the hook in the first 10% of the book, the one that Kindle readers will read and help decide if they want to download my book or not?” “Is my hero alpha enough? Bad enough?  Sexy enough?” “Is my heroine sympathetic enough?” “Does my arc make sense?” “Do I have too many dialogue tags?” “Is deep POV really that bad?  Is it out of flavor for my genre?” “Should I add more sex here… and here… and here?” Should I add sex every other chapter?” “Is my cover just right?” “Should I just go with a shirtless man like most everyone in my genre does and sell a crapload of books?”

Yeah, that kind of over-thinking.

It’s so sickening I just want to hurl some days because I look at what I created – all 110K words of it – and see only what’s wrong with it and nothing that’s right based on the abovementioned questions.

So today, I decided to take one last look at my book before I set it aside for good and focus on stories that do sell – lots of sex, follow the trope, give the readers what they want – and decided to break down what I had.

If I’m always stuck on that first 10% of the book, why not keep going for once? Write it all down. What happens in Act I, Act II, Act III?  And from there, tease out the parts that don’t work and make it stronger from the inside out, the outline itself after the fact.

And you know what? It worked.  Or rather, it’s working.  I’m still at #39 which is Act 3 and just after the climax.  And from here, I go back into the story and fix what was broken from looking at the big picture first.  So something’s working; creativity is finally flowing.

I’ve finally stopped over-thinking.

Oh, and I just had these wonderful reviews for my latest book, Everything She Ever Wanted and I couldn’t be happier.

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