Monday, December 23, 2013

Look What I Found!

As I mentioned before, with my first book I didn't do much promoting. I didn't really understand the process. But now I've done lots of learnin' and I have a whole list of things to do. One that I'm pretty excited about is a virtual book launch party. Quick summary of a virtual book launch party: connect with readers online via a website or blog to celebrate the release, doing Q& A's, readings and giveaways. And I just found THE coolest giveaways for my book party!

Let me backtrack. Like most authors, I have rituals when I write. First, I have to have candy. Not the healthiest of habits, I know. But I need that sugary rush. My favorites are Twizzlers, Sweet Tarts and Life Savers Gummies. Second, I have to have my headphones on at full blast with a theme song on repeat. Seriously. I'll have a gazillion cavities and lose my hearing but I get all twitchy and distracted when I try to write without  my two security blankets.

Back to the giveaways. Naturally I'll have free copies of The Sergeant up for grabs but I'll also be giving away several pairs of these candy themed headphones!

Cool, right? It's like they were made just for me. March 29th can't get here fast enough. So excited to release The Sergeant and give a few lucky readers these super duper cool headphones.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Have A Book Cover!

I'm at the point in the book process where I can start promoting it. In order to do so however, I needed a book cover. I did some Googling to find out what the cover should look like. In a nutshell, for an e-book cover to come across as easy to view as a thumbnail, it needed to be free of small details that cluttered the image, have contrast between the font and background, and not be so smutty that Amazon rejects it. Sounds simple enough, but my Photoshop / graphic artist skills are less than zero. I knew I'd have to hire someone. Enter more Googling followed immediately by serious sticker shock. I know a cover artist's work is valuable but woah! No way I could afford those prices. Then I stumbled upon Melody Simmons. I liked her website. I liked her work. And I really liked her prices. Once I contacted her the whole process was easy. I let her know what I was looking for and she came up with this beauty:

I love it. After asking my Twitter and Facebook friends for some input I had her make a few adjustments. Several people suggested elements of SWAT and BDSM. I went back and forth on that, but ultimately decided against it. I had to remember to keep the cover clean. So I'll save those images for the back cover of the paper back version. I think that'll draw people in as they're reading the book blurb. Hopefully!

Here are my likes for the cover:
The colors. Very intense
The size difference between the two guys. Exactly how I picture them in my head.
The mood. Very sleek and sexy.
Front guy's expression. It threw me at first. But then I kept going back to it. Is he pouting as my friend Nat thinks? Is he trying to be tough like Feisty thinks? Or does he just have Zoolander cheekbones? I don't know, but to me it's interesting. He's got attitude.

My dislikes:

None! I really do love it. Fingers crossed readers love it as well. Let me know what you think of it in the comments!

In the market for a book cover? Check out Melody Simmons at

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Am I Done Yet?

So this is the part of writing where I just want to lay down and cry. I've done the majority of my edits. There's red ink and purple ink and highlighter all over the printed pages. Now I'm in the middle of going through and adding those parts in. But I don't wanna! I've seen this story so many times it's almost gibberish at this point. And I'm just plain old tired of sitting hunched over my computer. I've tried changing up the scenery: writing in the library, at Barnes & Noble, or on the couch with random Buffy and WWE dvds playing. I think it's helped? Not sure. I still feel like a hunchback at the end of each evening. I want to take a day and just ignore the book. But one day might turn into two days and so on. So I keep on writing. There's a light at the end of the tunnel and it's my big goofy grin when my book is purchased by readers this spring.

I saw this quote posted by Advice to Writers on Twitter. There's a word for a writer who never gives up: published. - Joe Konrath.

Never give up? It's like Mr. Konrath is the John Cena of the literary world. I like it. I'll keep on truckin' but I'm definitely splurging for a back massage when this story is complete.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I've finished the rough draft of my novel. I jokingly titled it The Sergeant and His Submissive, but I can't think of anything else so that's what I'm going with for now. Anyhoo, when I was done I looked at my word count. 141,016. And I still have more to add. Uh-oh, that's no bueno. That's a big book. Readers might have a hard time getting through it and staying interested. Which means I might have to do something I've never done before. Cut out parts of my story. It hurts. It really does. Probably more so in this case because I'm so attached to the original version. I can't lose Clay on his knees, finally understanding his submission. I won't part with any of Logan's jealousy. (Oh yeah, this is a love story about two guys. Don't like it? Imagine me making my I don't care face.) I'll just die if I have to take out any of the dialogue.

But sadly, I will have to make some of those cuts. I'll have to decide which parts aren't necessary. Then I'll have to take the cursor, highlight sections and hit delete. I'm pretty sure I'll hear my computer scream in pain as those words are killed off and sent into the abyss.  Or maybe it'll sound like this poor guy.

It's funny how we become so attached to words and scenes that parting with them makes us sad. Oh well. Maybe one day I'll release the extended edition.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I'm doing a contest! I don't actually know what I'm doing or if I'm doing this correctly, but I don't care! This contest will be a win-win for me and two lucky entrants. Here's the deal. I suck at naming characters. Honestly, I find it the hardest thing to do when writing. So I'm asking you to submit names for two of the characters in my upcoming book. Here's a brief description of each character to help you choose a name.

Female Character X: She is a young African-American woman who works in Public Relations for the Houston Police Department. She's of average height with a slender yet curvy figure. She has thick curly hair that falls just below her shoulders. Picture Kerry Washington and that gorgeous head of hair she sported in Lakeview Terrace. Her role is to come on to one of our heroes - not realizing he's in a relationship.

Male Character X:  He's a young man who works as a graphic artist. He's the best friend of one of our heroes. He's straight but talks our hero through some of his relationship woes. I don't know what he looks like yet - so feel free to think of whatever name you like!

Here's the info:

How Do I Enter? Submit your names to me on Twitter, Christa Tomlinson @christa_writes. Or you can email them to me at

How Many Times Can I Enter? As many times as you want! Just uh... please don't send me a list of dozens of names. One name per email or tweet.

Is There An Age Limit? Yes. Due to the nature of the prizes, you must be at least 18 years old to enter.

What Are The Contest Dates? The contest begins Monday October 21st and ends Friday October 25th at 12:01 cst.

How Will Winners Be Selected? I will read through all of the names. And the one that I like best for the girl character will win one of the prizes and the one I like best for the boy character will win the other prize. That's all there is to it.

What If More Than One Person Submits The Same Name? I will only accept the first entry for duplicate names. However, if you submit a name that someone else has already sent me, I will let you know so you can give me another entry. That's fair, yes?

So ... What Do I Win? You get TWO awesome prizes! First you get an electronic copy of my novella, Martini Seduction. You can read the description here. You'll also receive one of these two fancy schmancy Halloween themed martini sets. You see the connection? Halloween, martinis, Martini Seduction ... Prizes will be mailed October 26th so you can enjoy them on Halloween.

So hurry up and send in your entries! It's a pain in the ass referring to these people as X. Thanks for participating!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Groveling, Flowers, and Pearls

Romance novel covers have always been a little bit ... different. For years they mostly featured the steamy bodice ripper style paintings. I say steamy in a sarcastic tone. For the most part I never found those sexy. The heroine was always groveling at the hero's feet, billowy breasts on full display, while he clutched his sword manfully. Was she begging for the D? Was that what I was supposed to do? And why was there never a wind machine around when I had sex? It was confusing.
A sampling of old school bodice rippers. 

Then the genre moved on to pictures of things like jewels, and flowers, and silks. I thought those were boring.

In the early part of this century, romance novel covers started to feature bare chested men with only a portion of their face showing. I liked those covers. Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series were the first books I saw with that style. The bare chested man made sense. They're marketing those books predominantly to heterosexual females, so it makes sense to put what we like on the cover. And cutting off the face was also smart. I know for me that sometimes when I see an unattractive hero on the cover I put the book right back on the shelf. Taking off the face eliminated that problem.

So what do romance novel covers look like today? The genre is as vast as it ever was and there are lots of styles. But one that is pretty popular is the use of photos of seemingly innocuous objects that somehow manage to make you feel intrigued and aroused. Or maybe they make you go, hmmmm. For example, look at these two covers I found at Barnes and Noble.

At first glance I think, oh pretty. But then I wonder what the covers are trying to say. Pearl necklaces, being served as food and drink? Am I supposed to read a deeper meaning into that? Now I'm thinking this is weird and I don't know if I want to read it. But I know I will, I see them everywhere which means they're popular. And I am intrigued by those covers.

Other covers are down right scandalous. Mostly naked women bound with leather and ropes. And (gasp!) threesomes. I think this is a great example of what has become more acceptable in our society. Or maybe romance readers are all just freaks.

Regardless of the style, most romance novel covers all have one thing in common. Women are embarrassed to be seen reading them in public. Which means I have a dilemma. What type of cover should I choose for my upcoming book? Do I go for the scintillating image of a couple in a torrid embrace? A bolt of silk rippling across the cover? Or do I go with the deep thought image of an orchid blooming next to an erupting volcano? It's so hard to know what will be best received.

I think when it comes time for me to hire a cover artist, I'll do a survey to get your opinion on what makes a good romance cover. I'm counting on you to guide me right. Don't let me down.

*Books shown available at B&N, Amazon, etc. Give 'em a read!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'm Christa Tomlinson, Bitch!

You may be wondering what I'm working on (more than likely you're not). I'm taking a story that I wrote and rewriting it in order to self-publish it this spring. Why am I rewriting it? Because the original story was fanfiction, posted on the giant archival site, Now you may be wondering, what the hell is fanfiction? Fanfiction, or FF, are basically stories that are written by fans of a particular movie, book, TV series etc. These stories feature the original characters and worlds in stories told by people who love to create and love their fandoms. Is a lot of the stuff crap? Oh boy is it ever. But some of it is good. And some of it is famous. You might know where I'm going with this.

EL James, author of the Fifty Shades series, started off as a FF writer. Her popular series is based off of the world created by Stephanie Meyer in Twilight. And I don't know much about her, but Cassandra Clare of Mortal Instruments started off as a fanfiction writer too.

Looking at the success of these women, I can't help but think, Hey, I can do that too! So that's my goal. Taking a story that found some success and popularity on and making huge changes to it. All in hopes of publishing it on my own and maybe making a little money off of it. Because I like money. And cheese.

Now maybe you're thinking, Who the hell does she think she is, EL James? Okay maybe that's not you. That's actually me in my head imagining you saying that. My invisible audience as I like to call it (Very judgey, that invisible audience). Like everybody else, creative types especially, I worry about people judging me and finding my work lacking. It can be hard to push past the voices of that invisible audience. And nothing stomps on my self confidence more than being scared that people will think I'm reaching above myself (it's a problem in derby too, but I digress). But James, Clare, and every other successful author out there are just people. Just like me. What separates us is the fact that they sat their asses down and PRODUCED.

That's what I have to do. I have to ignore all the time sucks out there. To help with that I set social media blockers on my computer for certain hours of the day. If I try to go to Twitter when I'm not supposed to up pops the home page for EL James as a gentle reminder to get back to work. So far it's helping me to laugh and stay on task. I've also found a way to fight off my insecurities of 'going above my station' whenever I'm working on my goals to become a successful author. As soon as that evil little voice asks me, Who do you think you are, EL James? I just reply with, "No. I'm Christa Tomlinson, bitch!"
Neither Rick James or Dave Chapelle have endorsed this message.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Glad I Didn't Eat Spaghetti Today

I’ve researched. I’ve outlined. I’ve created characters. Now it’s time. Time to sit and get started writing. Nervous doesn’t even begin to cover it. This moment feels big and scary and important. I’m even embracing a modern cliché and playing Eminem’s Lose Yourself. I know that I will finish this story, no doubt about it. I’ve done it before, right? So I can do it again. But what happens after that? So many things will go into making this story profitable. But I can’t think about that right now. All that is months in the future. Here in the present I have to put hands to keyboard and just write. No more stalling. So okay. Deep breath. Begin writing. Excuse any vomit on the keyboard. I didn't have any of my mom's spaghetti, but still ...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Well. That Ended Quickly.

Early in the summer I applied for a teaching position at a local high school. Two days after the interview, they were calling me to tell me I got the job. When I got the call I was relieved to know I'd be back to making a good salary. I was also smug that they'd chosen me so fast. Clearly I'm excellent at bull shitting through an interview. But was I excited? Nope. I was glad to have a job but that was about it.

Fast forward to the first day of school. I should be up and dressed, headed into campus with my lunch box and my satchel full of First Day of School lessons. But I wasn't. I was at home in the bed panicking because I didn't want to go. So I emailed (yes emailed, I was too afraid to call) my department chair and said I couldn't come in because I had a migraine. I actually ended up giving myself one I was so stressed, so I guess I wasn't lying.

I stayed home the first day of school for the first time ever. My plan was to get my shit together and be ready to go in the next day. Yeah, that didn't happen. I freaked out and did the same thing again. Halfway through the day (after I'd come back from hiding in the park so my niece wouldn't know I wasn't at work) I realized I was fucking glad not to be in that classroom. Not because of that school. I'm sure it's a great place. But there were some BIG RED FLAGS telling me that I didn't want to teach. If I'd paid attention to them, I would have realized that my dislike of teaching from two years before was still there. Let's take a look at those red flags, shall we?

1. I wasn't at all excited to have the job. See opening paragraph. After the initial phone call I went right back to lazing around the house instead of doing teacher type things to prepare.

2. I had an inner sneer all through my two weeks of professional development. As I sat through each of those meetings, I was annoyed at the people all excited to teach and sharing their ideas of what worked for them in the classroom. I'm pretty sure I glared at one guy and called him a nerd under my breath.  I felt like I didn't fit in amongst them.

3. I'm a big planner and organizer. But I hadn't planned anything for my classroom. No guidelines. No classroom policies. No reward system. Nothing.

4. I procrastinated on lesson plans until Monday morning at 4 a.m. GIANT red flag. I'm a head in sand kinda gal. Meaning if I don't want to do something I'll avoid doing it indefinitely if possible. I kept sitting down to start lessons, but I never once opened a Word doc or cracked a book. Clearly, my brain was not in teacher mode.

5. And the biggest red flag of all? I put off signing my contract. Well, I kept "forgetting" to go to HR with my paperwork. I'm totally ADD and forget stuff all the time. But something that important should have lit a fire under my ass.

Face? Meet Palm. How did I not see these signs? I taught before and ended up hating it. This time I thought it'd be better. But honestly, in the back of my mind I was telling myself to just stick it out. Any time you're saying that before the job even starts is a bad sign.

So I quit. I'm not a teacher. And I don't plan to ever try and be one again. Am I proud of the way I handled this situation? No. I feel really shitty about it. I know I let that school down. I did go up and apologize but that's not much help to them.  Plus, I know I'm insane for quitting my job without having another one lined up. I guess it just took all of that for me to finally see education is not for me.

Now I just gotta figure out a way to keep me in shoes and my dogs in kibble. What about you? Have you ever been in a similar situation?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Double D's

Being an author is hard. Surprising right? I’ve wanted to be a full time author pretty much my whole life. Yet I’m in my thirties and I’ve only published one novella. That blows, but it’s totally my fault. Why haven’t I written more? Because I don’t have Double D’s. Discipline and Determination.

I have lots of ideas in my head and written down in sparkly notebooks all over my study. But I don’t have the discipline to sit down and write every day. I’ll either get distracted by another story idea, or napping, or watching wrestling (damn CM Punk’s mesmerizing thighs!). Then it’s time for me to go to bed and I’m either trying to stay up and work on a book or pissed off at myself for wasting a whole day where I could have been writing. This has been going on for the three years since Martini Seduction was published.
One of my many notebooks filled with incomplete stories.

I’ve also lacked the determination to say to myself, “You are going to be an author. You will write and promote yourself to make that dream come true.” Instead I kinda cringe when I think of trying to get people to read my stuff. I’ve got this whole internal monologue on how people don’t really like my writing and they’re just being nice when they say something positive about it. But from listening to one of my favorite podcasts, I’ve come to see that lots of creative people feel that way. My therapist said the same thing and that I just have to push past it. Of course I could have skipped paying my therapist and just gone to my dad. His words, “You can’t worry about what people think. If they don’t like it, so what! You’re the one who’s gonna be making money.” Oh, Big James! He’s so brusquely eloquent. I wish I could bottle his self-confidence and spray it on my face when I start imagining that invisible audience laughing at me.

Surprisingly, writing fanfiction has helped me to stop being a chicken shit wannabe author. I get positive reviews on my fics, with readers favoriting and following my stories. It finally clicked in my head that people wouldn’t take the time to interact with me like that if they didn’t like what I wrote. Duh.

So this has to end on a positive note, right? Otherwise it’s just me complaining and you wasting your time reading it. I’m taking steps to get those Double D’s. I’ve decided what book to write, rejoined my romance author memberships, and I’m working on creating a writing schedule that’s realistic. Can you believe I once planned to get up at 4 a.m. every day and write? Ha! That was a joke. And not surprisingly it didn’t last. Oh yeah, and I finally started this blog. With all that I think I’m on the right track. Go me! If you’ve got something you’ve wanted to do for a long time I hope that after reading this you get up off your ass and get started. 


I Finally Started A Blog

Okay! I finally started this blog. This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile but due to laziness/fear/forgetfulness I kept putting it off. But after tweeting with some Twitter buds I decided to just go for it. I couldn’t figure out whether or not to do a professional blog strictly for my novel writing or one for all the other stuff that goes on in my crazy world. Or even both. But the thought of being all normal on a “professional” blog made me laugh while the thought of maintaining two blogs wore me out before I’d even gotten started. So I decided to just smoosh it all together. That means if you choose to read this blog, you’ll be treated to updates on what I’m writing, tales of roller derby, fangirling over wrestling, and stories of my all around goofiness. If anything you ever read on here makes your face move into some kind of emotion, please leave a comment and tell me so.