Friday, October 31, 2014

NaNoWriMo Eve

It's NaNoWriMo Eve. I'm not putting any cookies on the mantle, but I am looking over the low star reviews for The Sergeant and Bad Boys Need Too. Why am I reading them? Isn't it awful to read reviews and see the bad things people say about my story? I'll be honest. Reading the negative reviews stings. But it's like getting a shot. It only hurts for a moment and afterwards, I'll be better for it.

So how will I be better for having read negative reviews about my boys? Because I'm using it as a learning experience. Listening to my audience is the best way to figure out what I can do to improve my writing. The main two complaints for The Sergeant especially and BBNLT on a smaller scale are that they are too long and have too many sex scenes. Alright, guys you've got me! That is 100% true. Like most authors I have lots of ideas and scenes in my head for my stories. And they all seem so lovely, I don't want to lose any of them. So I had to learn the hard way - through tough reviews - that readers enjoy a long journey, just not one that makes unnecessary pit stops.

Participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, will help me with that problem. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. If I'm held to that number, I won't be able to create another epically long masterpiece. (I know they're not really masterpieces. But in my head they are. Gotta have that confidence to be able to share my scribblings with the world). So as I work on my outline for Ortega's Pet, I keep reminding myself to keep it right and tight. If I dream up a scenario, great. But I'll be ruthless in deciding if it's necessary to write into the story. And even then, I'll still have to "trim the fat" and remove some of what makes it onto the computer screen.

On to the next complaint. Too much sex! Are sex scenes necessary to the story? Well, considering I write erotic romance, hell yes. But! Do I have to have so many? This one is difficult for me. I did a previous post where I discussed how I try to use my sex scenes to further the plot and to build the characters' relationship. I will continue to do this of course. I'll just have to do less of it. (Boooo!) I suppose if I'm planning a shorter story over-all, it won't be as hard to cut back on all the sexy good times as I think. And since there will be less of them, I'll just have to make sure they're even more deep and intense than usual. So that's a win for you, the reader. *insert cheesy wink*

I look forward to seeing how I come out this go round. I've got my red pens ready. Maybe I should also get a few boxes of Kleenex. I know I'll have copious tears to shed as I cut words out of my manuscript. 

Are you entering the madness that is NaNoWriMo? What are you doing to prepare? 

Here's a few links to visit that cover trimming the fat from your manuscript:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The ARCs Are Coming!

Today I'm going to be offering Advanced Review Copies of my upcoming release, Bad Boys Need Love Too, to readers. And I'm terrified. Why? Well, of course there's the usual, "What if my book is horrible and no one likes it and they all laugh and WHY did I ever think I could be a writer?!" fear. But now I have another fear. Pirates. No, not the scurvy, swashbuckling kind. I'm too far inland to worry about them.

I'm talking about internet pirates. People who steal others work and put it out there on the interwebz to be enjoyed for free. I hate this. Not because I'm stingy and don't like to share. But because I work my brain hard to come up with my stories and I go through the expense and trouble of having them made into books. So having them stolen and given away for free not only hurts my feelings, it hurts my pocket book too.

As a new writer, there isn't that much to steal from me and put online. But the two books I have are out there. In fact, I woke up this morning to a Google Alert that found The Sergeant on a torrent site. Lovely. Now I have to send take down notices.

So yeah, it worries me that I'm about to give out a few copies. Especially after the huge book sharing scandal that Tymber Dalton broke a couple of weeks ago. Hell, it worries me that the book will be for sale in a few weeks. But if I don't put it out there, no one will read it and I won't get any money from it. Which leaves me no choice. It's a terrible thing all creative people have to deal with. As long as there have been inventors and artists, there have been thieves. It's so much more wide spread and easy to do now a days, but the practice isn't new.

Hell, I was a thief.  When I was promoting The Sergeant this spring, I used all kinds of pretty pictures that I found on line. And they didn't belong to me. Shame! I was stealing from photographers! Once I had my duh! moment and realized what I'd done, I stopped using them. And this time for official BBNLT promos, I'm only using pictures I've purchased or that are free domain.

Some people see the piracy as just another form of promotion. I think that's utter nonsense. I just can't imagine that the amount of piracy that goes on brings anyone enough resulting sales to make up for it. Of course, I don't have any data to back this up, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

In the end, all I can do is create what I want to create and share what I choose to share. I feel strongly that the number of good people out there who come by my work honestly, outweighs the meanies who like to steal. Besides, I don't have any choice but to write. It's in my skin. Literally.

Oh, and PS. It's Teaser Tuesday. Take a look at sneak peek from Bad Boys Need Love Too

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another Book, Another Month of Excitement!

Well, I'm just all aflutter with excitement! Things are ratcheting up for the release of my next full-length novel, Bad Boys Need Love Too. This book is completely different from The Sergeant, but I love it just as much. Why? Because it features Gage, the tortured bad boy, and Joseph, the good guy who falls for him. I do love an angsty love story, and these two gave it to me in spades. Bad Boys Need Love Too will be available October 21st on Amazon, Barnes& and All Romance For those you you who like to get that pop up notification first thing in the morning on release day, you can pre-order Gage and Joseph's story through Amazon. As a special bonus, if you send me a pic of your pre-order confirmation on Facebook or Twitter, you'll be entered to win a signed paperback copy of Bad Boys Need Love Too!

So, are you wondering how you can get to know a little about Gage and Joseph before October 21st? Well, you're in luck! I present to you the beautiful cover, designed by Jay's Book Covers By Design, along with a few thoughts from Joseph.

You can also read the first three chapters of Bad Boys Need Love Too HERE. It will open in a PDF file. 

Still want more? Visit the Two Chicks Obsessed with Books & Eye Candy blog. They have an exclusive excerpt. It's Not Suitable for Work, and I don't want you to have to explain your blushing cheeks to your boss, so make sure you read it in private. And while you're there, don't forget to enter to win a free e-copy. But you'll have to hurry. As of this posting, there's only 12 hours left!  

Make sure you're following me on Facebook and on Twitter. And stop by the Bad Boys Need Love Too page on this blog every Tuesday and Friday. I'll have teasers, inspirational images, contests and more between now and launch day.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!

I walk the line. A fine line between too much sex, even for an erotic romance. Okay, actually I probably fall over that line, but I'm okay with that. Why? Because I don't write sex just for the sake of sex.

I won't have my characters boinking gratuitously because there's been 100 pages since the last time they boinked. But I will write sex in order to move the plot along. In my stories, when my characters get horizontal (or vertical against the wall, whatever) it's because one or both of them wants something. Or maybe they're trying to say something but sex is easier than finding the right words. Regardless, sex is important and meaningful in the relationships of the characters I write. There's always a reason behind it.

I know that not everyone will enjoy reading all the smut on the pages of my books, and that's okay. There's been plenty of times where I've skipped over a sex scene in a book, but that doesn't mean I didn't go back and read it later. Every time I think about changing the way I tell my stories, I think back to a review I saw on Amazon for The Sergeant. "I hope the author doesn't change her writing style." Was she referring to all the horizontal mambo going on with Logan and Clay? No clue. But I appreciated that she liked my style enough to take the time to put it in a review.

Does that mean that I don't think I should change anything about my writing? Hell no! I know I have lots of learning and improving to do as a writer. I look forward to seeing how my writing will mature over the years. But the basic way I tell a story, I think that will stay the same.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Never Give Up! (Except When You Should)

I don't know if it's because I'm from Missouri and I won't believe it until you Show Me or because I'm a bull-headed Taurus. Regardless, I am one stubborn miss. You see, I made this plan on what I would write next. I had this great idea for a story between a doctor and a tattoo artist. I wrote an outline, did research, organized the chapters. I even had some good looking guys to use for my muses. I was ready. But when I sat down at my computer nothing came out. There was a short in the brain-fingers-keyboard connection.  I could see the story. But it wasn't sexy, there was no passion.

But you know what was sexy? The other story (okay stories) that was in my head. But I ignored it. I was determined to soldier on with the plan. Why? Two reasons. First, I felt that if I'm going to be a SERIOUS WRITER that I should be disciplined enough to finish what I started. So giving up on those boys felt like well ... giving up. Second, I've gained lots of followers in the m/m genre. And I hate to disappoint those readers that would like to see another m/m story from me. Hence the bullheadedness.

Still, when nothing came I asked for advice. I posted on Facebook, asked my sister and my mom. Should I write what I'd planned or move on to what my brain was screaming at me to do? EVERYBODY (including Kindle Alexander, she's really smart) told me to move on to what my brain was telling me to write. I got what they were saying. Really, I did. But I tried one last time to do the other story. Because I'm more stubborn than a Missouri mule apparently. So, there I was at my desk. Staring at a document that wouldn't move past 2500 jumbled words. Finally I gave a great big sigh and closed the document.

The second I went to pick up a notebook to start working on the story I really want to do, I got all giddy. Scenes and ideas popped into my head. Characters and plot points jumped onto note cards. I even have a title, which is normally the hardest thing for me to do. Today I made a playlist of songs to sing and dance to while I write. And I have plans for getting some face to face BDSM research done. When I picked up the pen to write the outline, the ink flowed smoothly across four pages. I accomplished all this in two days, whereas the other story took weeks. I feel good. Real good.

So what am I writing next? Well, you remember that awesome couple that helped Logan and Clay from The Sergeant work on their relationship? Now it's time for them to have their story told. Yep! Senior Corporal Carlos Ortega and Corporal Tiffany Jackson are determined to tell you how they became lovers and Dom and sub. So I'm going to let them. I'm excited to share their story with you and I hope you'll be just as excited to read it. It's a big relief and my brain is very happy that I've made this decision.

*As for the other stories I mentioned above - that's a secret project I'll be starting after Tiff and Los. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Goal Achieved!

*Blows dust off blog* Hello! It's been awhile since I've posted. I may have gotten a little distracted with my first self-publishing project. How did it go you ask? Wonderful! The Sergeant is finally loose in the world. It sold like hot cakes (What exactly are hot cakes? Pancakes?) which pushed it to the #1 spot for Amazon Gay & Lesbian Erotica its second day on the market. Woohoo! Six weeks later it's still in the Top Ten. And the reviews have been great as well. I'll spare you my, "You like me! You really like me!" reenactment, and just tell you that I am over the moon happy. I did lots of ugly crying at some of the sweet comments that readers took the time to send me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you all so much!

In all seriousness, I never expected The Sergeant to get the response it did. I had this book and these characters that I loved, and I hoped that a few people would love them too. I even had a modest little goal. Once I sold 314 copies, I would get a new tattoo to comemmorate it. I figured it would take a few weeks to reach that goal. Well I did reach it ... the same day I released the book. I went to bed with a super big smile on my face. And I'm getting my tattoo in a few weeks.

So I guess the moral of the story is, those cliches are true. If you want something, freaking go for it! You might get everything you want (Like Billy Blanks says) or if you don't reach the moon, you'll still land among the stars (like that poster that every teacher ever has in their classroom says). Publishing a book, creating art, starting a business -  all of it is scary. But just imagine the big grin you'll have once you sell your own 314 copies.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sexy Time Cliches

So the other day I'm scrolling through Facebook when I came across a picture on one of  my friend's pages. The pic was Erotic Romance Bingo, where you play by - you guessed it - covering a square every time you come across a cliched phrase in an erotic romance.
When I first saw this, I cringed. I've used some of those phrases! That must mean that my writing is cliched crap! I got all red in the face, positive no one would buy my book. Then I calmed down and did the math (yes I'm that obsessive). I used 8 of those phrases. That's only 33%! Since I'm only on my second book and still learning, I'll consider myself in the clear.

Of course I want to grow as a writer and come up with inventive new descriptions, but hell, there's no need to reinvent the smut wheel. Sometimes "scissoring fingers"* might just be the best way to get the point across. Besides, as I've aged (like fine wine, yo) I've discovered that purple prose & flowery euphemisms annoy the hell out of me. That's why I choose to write erotic romance, where we tell it like it is.

I realize that Erotic Romance Bingo was all in good fun. I just thought it would be even more fun for me to share my characteristically overly dramatic reaction to it. However! There is one cliched phrase I will no longer be using. Liquid heat. Why? Well...

It'll be too hard for me to describe lady parts as liquid heat now that I know it's something that can be used to unclog a backed up sink. No woman wants a va-jay-jay that powerful. At least, I don't think they do. I swear, I didn't know whether to use it to fix my sink or put it in a pair of underwear and set it loose on unsuspecting men. The lines are so blurry.

*Wanna know the other squares from this bingo I used? Well you'll have to buy The Sergeant, available April 26 to find out. See what I did there? ;-)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

PRETTY BOY - A Love Story

A couple months back I was scrolling through tumblr and came across a little black and white cartoon. It told the story of a meeting between two young men in high school. One, was the pretty boy, the other the high school jock. I won't spoil the story for you in case you decide to read it. But I will say that it was one of the sweetest things I'd ever seen. It was so well done, the scenes, facial expressions, and dialogue perfectly moving the story along in just a few short panels. (I had to think what the proper word was for comics. It is panels, right?) There was a little bit of a trigger in the story for me, but their love story was so sweet I had to have it. And not just as a saved post on my computer. So I actually checked out the source of the tumblr post and saw the artist had a website for their work. When I saw Pretty Boy was available as a booklet I ordered it immediately. The booklet isn't fancy by any means, but I was happy to spend the money and support a fellow writer for a story that I had enjoyed so much.

Actually I see lots of amazing artwork, stories and crafts on tumblr. I'm really in awe that there is so much talent out there in the world. I even posted the other day that I hope some of those artists start selling their stuff on sites like Redbubble, Etsy, etc. I'm sure there are lots of people who would support them by buying their work.

You never know what darling little treasures you'll stumble across on the internet. Thanks OMOCAT for creating Pretty Boy. I love it.

Find OMOCAT's work here:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

First Look at The Sergeant!

Today's the day! Today I'm releasing the first three chapters of The Sergeant out into the world. Take a look and get to know our heroes. Maybe even take a peek at their first kiss. (I'm making a sassy face, but you can't see it) I'm nervous! Sending my baby out amongst readers. But it's time for me to start letting them go.
Click the cover image for a sneak peek at my upcoming erotic romance, The Sergeant

Monday, March 3, 2014

Blowing My Own Horn!

I've mentioned before the problem I had with promoting my first book. Basically I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I printed a bunch of flyers. A bunch. Want to know where most of them are now? In my closet. I didn't have a real plan so I didn't do much with them. I sent my sister some to pass out and to give to a friend of hers who has a sex toys business. I took some to a few novelty sex shops in Houston. And that was it. What a waste of money! I didn't do anything else because I didn't know what else I could do. But I've learned. This time I have a plan. I wrote it down and everything. After spending hours on the internet researching (along with wasting lots of time on tumblr) I came up with lots of things to do to promote The Sergeant. Giveaways, free stories, connecting with other authors, social media. I have plans for all the things. I'm pretty excited about it.

THE PLAN. It's ambitious.

But! I did have one small bit of nervousness to overcome. I was nervous thinking about blowing my own horn because it's not in my nature to do so. So I worried. Worried that people would think my promotional efforts were dumb. Or that no one would pay attention to them, so they wouldn't do me any good. I swear, I spend so much time worrying about the bad things that might happen. It's ridiculous. But there's another but! I smacked myself in the face (figuratively not literally) and gave myself a stern talking to (also figuratively not literally. I don't talk to myself. Much) Self-promotion is part of the job. If I want people to know my book exists, I'm going to have to talk about it. Once I got into that mindset I saw it less as a personal, I hope they like me, sort of thing to more of a here's a product I'd like you to try because I think you'll like it thing. So I'm ready to promote! Will I have the enthusiasm of someone like Colt Cabana right off the bat? No way, that guy is a promotional machine. Check out his podcast and you'll see what I mean. Still, I've got some great ideas and I think they'll really help get word on The Sergeant out there. I know it will be a lot of work but it should also be fun. 

I just want to know one thing before I get started. Can I take all those unused flyers back to Office Depot and get my money back?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ten Dollar Post for a Two Dollar Hat

I don't think I'm a horrible person. But last year I did something bad. Like take candy from a baby bad. Except it wasn't candy. It was a hat. Let me explain.

Last May the WWE did a house show up in Beaumont, TX. I splurged and got ringside seats. It was a great time. I'd never been to a house show before, so I was enjoying seeing how much the wrestlers interacted with the fans at a non-televised event. At the end of the night, John Cena came out for his match. He went through his entrance, running down and jumping into the ring. He was champion at the time and he did this cool trick where he slid the title belt across the ring to the ref who then tossed it back to him all in one smooth motion. I laughed, then got my phone out to tweet that he appeared to have healed up from whatever leg injury he'd been suffering from.

Before I could send that tweet however, something hit me in the face (seriously I almost lost an eye). I looked down and realized it was John Cena's hat! I dived for it before anyone else could get their hands on it and came up triumphant! I was super happy. All the times I'd gone to wrestling shows as a kid with Big James I was always sad I never got a pair of Bret Hart's pink shades or got to dance in the ring with Junk Yard Dog. We always sat up in the nosebleed section, so I had no chance. But finally! I had something from one of the wrestlers. Then I heard a small voice. "That was for me you know." It was the kid in front of me. He turned back around before I could say anything and well ... I left it at that. And I kept the hat.

Had John Cena been throwing it to him? I don't know, I wasn't even looking. But I was really, really excited to have caught the silly thing. This is the point where some of you ask if I also kick puppies. (I don't) And some of you say I shouldn't feel bad because I was a paying fan who had a shot at the hat just like everyone else. Is either feeling right? Who knows.

But after the giddiness of catching the hat and posting my gleeful face on Twitter and Facebook wearing it, I did feel bad. Yeah, the hat made up for never getting Bret's sunglasses, but now that kid will have his own sad wrestling story. Unfortunately, I couldn't help him but I could help someone else.

Fast forward to July. I'd bought tickets to SmackDown in Houston. They were great seats - the first section up from the floor and directly across from the ring. But then I won a prize where I got to go backstage at the show and have ringside seats. So what was I to do with my other tickets? I tried to sell them. But I didn't try very hard. I wanted to donate them but I wasn't sure how to go about it. So on the day of, I walked up and down the line of people waiting to get in. And that's when I saw them. A little boy of about seven who looked so incredibly happy to be there. And his mom who was looking around at all the adults screaming "woooooo!" and carrying title belts, clearly wondering what her son had dragged her to. I stopped and asked her where she was sitting. When she told me up in the nose bleeds I knew what to do. I gave her the tickets. She was shocked and asked what I wanted for them. I told her nothing but I hoped that her son enjoyed being able to sit so close to the ring.

I felt better. Did I atone for my wrestling sins? I don't know. I still got to have the hat and sit ringside at SmackDown while that Beaumont boy has his sad wrestling memory. But I made a different little boy happy for a few hours. So I'm hoping my karma is somewhat balanced. Then again, maybe I put entirely too much thought into the whole situation. I'm dramatic like that.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

To Crowdfund or Not to Crowdfund?

When I decided to self-publish my book I knew that I would have expenses to pay upfront. Things like paying an editor, cover art, promotional items etc. I originally considered doing a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money. But then I thought about it. If people are going to give me money, I'd rather it be because they bought my book instead of donating to help me get it published. That means I'll be paying for everything myself. And that means no more shopping for me so I can work all those expenses into my budget. Well, no more shopping until it's time for Wrestlemania. Then I'm going hog wild on merch and t-shirts that I have absolutely no use for but desperately have to have.

What do you think? Did I make the right decision not to crowdfund?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm Just Like Dean Ambrose

Really. I'm just like Dean Ambrose. Okay really, I'm nothing like Dean Ambrose. But I've chosen to look up to him for my career focus. (Here's where the wrestling geek part of me comes into play)

Who is Dean Ambrose? He's a professional wrestler with the WWE. He was previously known as Jon Moxley and under that ring name he worked some very tough matches on the indy wrestling circuit. Matches that involved being thrown through glass panes, bashed over the head with light bulb tubes, and tossed into barbed wire. He did all of that, wrestling in front of crowds ranging from modest to tiny, sometimes for very little pay, all with the goal of making it to the top of his profession. Right now he's well on his way. He's a featured Superstar with the biggest wrestling company in the world.
Through the Thumbtack Glass

Why do I look up to him? Because I've recently accepted a job teaching here in Houston. But my ultimate goal is to be a full-time erotic romance author. I want to support myself fully from my books. I WANT TO BE A COMMERCIAL SUCCESS. But in order to get what I want, I have to sacrifice, just like Dean did. Except my sacrifice won't be nearly as bloody. All I have to do is work a 9-5 to support my writing habit until I reach my goal. Being a classroom teacher is a worthy profession, one that is necessary in order for our society to continue to grow. But it's not where I want to spend my career years. I want to be able to shut myself in a room and write books all day. I just have to work my version of the indies to reach that dream. I can do it. And when I start to feel low and tired of teaching, I'll just remind myself that if Dean could take light bulb tubes to the head in order to get where he wanted to be, I can certainly put up with grading papers and writing lesson plans.

So as I get underway at my new school I'm determined to do the best job that I can there. And whenever necessary I look at the picture of Dean Ambrose I have posted in my classroom to keep me focused.