I have always been one of those people who set goals for themselves. Usually revolving around hitting a milestone or checking off every single box on my to do list for the day. But, I want to talk about other life goals today. A goal that I could have only dreamed about when I started this writing journey in May 2015.
To hit a bestseller list.
I never thought it was even possible for me. Just hitting international bestseller was an accomplishment that I absolutely beamed about when it happened in 2017. It was a goal, and when I achieved it, I made another one. To hit a bestseller list by 2020. Was it a stretch goal at the time? Of course, it was. The numbers to hit the lists seem so daunting. I knew that if I was going to fail at self-inflicted challenge, it was more than likely going to be that one.
Until late last year. I was giving an opportunity to join a like-minded group of authors who had the same life goal as myself. The impossible dream was inching its way closer to the reality dividing line. Then the non-Amazon pre-order launched in February, and flurry of emotions hit me.
The impossible was very much possible.
We’re motivated. We’re pouring ourselves into this set. But, we can’t do it alone.
I can’t reach this goal without every single person’s support I can garner. iBooks and Nook are the biggest hurdles to reaching it there. Fall short of the minimum and the dream is gone. Those two retailers are the end it all, must hit the sales marks, for this set. Apple especially because even if we have one less sale than the minimum, the sales won’t be reported to the list compilers. That’s how critical it is to hit those numbers, and exceed them. This set hitting the list is my purpose in 2019. I want those letters so badly that I can taste them. Together we can jump all hurdles and achieve great things. Writing is my passion, and goals like this fuel me to take that passion and turn into it my career. This set gives me another opportunity to make that happen.
This post isn’t some shameless plea for help because honestly, it is. I can’t do this without you. If you have the ability to help, please consider pre-ordering our set. If you do, please shoot me a PM on Facebook or e-mail me email@example.com because I want to personally thank you for helping me get closer to my dream.
I recently sat down with a co-worker from my day job who knows about my books. To be honest, I don’t really publicize my writing to those at work or to even extended family members. It was a secret that I even kept from my best friend for nearly a year. Crazy, right? Not really when the few times I did open up to a few family members did the conversations go like these.
Me: “So, I write romance novels.”
Them: “What kind?”
Me: “Biker Romance.”
Them: “Like Sons of Anarchy? *Laugh* You’re kidding, right? What do you know about bikers?”
Or my personally favorite, the thin-lipped response of “Oh. That’s nice” before changing the subject completely.
Those words you’ve just read have happened to me more than a dozen time, and one the biggest reasons that I don’t advertise my books with some of my more extended family and friends. It hurts when those who you think would respect and be interested in a new successful direction in your life scoff at it like a child trying show off a new skill that they see as trivial. Some of my friends thought this was just a phase. A new “thing” that I was trying out to pass the time. Little did they know that this “thing” was and had been a dream of mine for quite some time, and that losing my father was what spurred me to start living life to the fullest.
You see in writing romance, the stigma is always there for those who don’t really understand the drive for what we do. I can’t tell you how many different times I’ve been asked by those around me who I have eventually told if my books were all Mommy porn. A term that again, let’s be honest, came about with the popularity of Fifty Shades. But, romance novels have been around way longer than the early 2000s. In fact after I did a little digging, I discovered scholars site the first romance novel to be published came in 1740 with Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. While wildly popular in its time, it wasn’t until Jane Austen began publishing her great works, personal favorites of mine, that romance as a genre began to really sprout in the industry we see today.
People, women especially, love reading about love. The intimacies of it. The anxiety and excitement of starting a new relationship. The heartbreak and soul-searching that comes with it.
So let’s to circle back to the title of this post, why is writing romance so hard for those who don’t write to grasp? To those who aren’t fans of the genre, it’s not realistic. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten reviews about “that’s not how romance works” or “she would never go back to a man that keeps secrets from her.” They don’t see the possibility of meeting your soul mate on the first date, and just knowing they’re the one. Magic. Lust. Romance. Concepts lost in translation from critics of the genre. You see, skeptics want to apply real world principles to fictional stories, and it just doesn’t work. If you are one of those people, I hate to break it to you, but for some, that’s exactly how their romantic lives have occurred. Are they unorthodox stories of love? Of course, but just because you don’t find them to be realistic in your view of the world doesn’t mean they aren’t truth dripping from the pages for someone else.
Think about it in other genres. Paranormal romance, for example. Shifters, vampires, and all those different creatures that go bump in the night aren’t real, but yet readers devour those stories. Why? Because despite the fact they aren’t real, we can step into a different world and still find the love stories we crave. It’s different. We as people like the odd and different. It breaks up the monotony of everyday life. Escapism and the feeling of diving into a new world full of romance and adventure.
On top of that you get the added stigma that romance writers are just women or men unhappy with their home life. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m pretty happy in my normal life. My writing about two fictional people following in love isn’t some unfulfilled need for passion in my life. The last time I checked, I had plenty of passion and fulfillment so does that make me an outlier? Highly doubtful, but haters will hate, and just find something else to complain about to discredit anyone who differs with their opinion.
So let’s circle back to my co-worker and the conversation we had at lunch about writing. A question that literally took me aback for a few minutes. K’s not a reader. In fact, she’s a self-proclaimed non-reader, but her genuine interest about the other side of my life is intriguing. She has known the research scientist part of me for nearly 10 years so when I finally revealed to her about my writing, she didn’t scoff or brush it off. She asked me questions. The hows, whats, and whys. Just like today’s lunch, her question wasn’t any different.
What is the hardest part about writing romance?
Because writing about love makes me happy.
No bells, whistles, or adornments needed. Writing about love simply makes me happy. A better me because in a world where I often find myself muted in social settings with my husband’s career, the entirety of my being came be unleashed with the words that I write. So many special nuances about my female characters are plucked straight from the side of me not many people really get to see. The real me. These stories may be fictional, but to me, they are pieces of me presented to the word one page at a time.
I am sure that many of you have seen posts or tweets regarding the latest plagiarism allegations against Brazilian “author” Cristiane Serruya or known in the Twitterverse as #CopyPasteCris. The term author in regards to Serruya being used loosely here because I have yet to see evidence that she has actually penned a book herself without ripping off someone else’s words. If you haven’t seen or heard about this, pull up a chair, pop some popcorn, and be prepared for a bumpy ride.
I know there have been several great posts regarding this issue, and in part, this is just a summary of those that have been published before me. Yet, as in the case of #cockygate, I can’t just let this go without adding my own remarks to the situation. This is too serious of an issue to just sweep under the rug unnoticed because just like #cockygate, #copypastecris is going to be yet another game changer to the industry.
Ms. Serruya at the time of writing this has been accused of plagiarizing 51 books, 34 authors, 3 articles, 3 websites, and 2 recipes per the source of blogger, CaffeinatedFae. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
Have you wrapped your heard around that? No? Well, I’ll be honest that I am in the same boat. I have no idea even how to process this news that seems to spiral even more out of control every day with the edition of new authors. This entire ordeal started off with one author then escalating to the numbers listed above in just a week. A WEEK! And I have no doubts that more will be found today or even tomorrow. One such article theft still had the website’s hyperlink still embedded into the text. The evidence doesn’t lie, and I personally think this is just the beginning of her fall down the rabbit hole of career implosion.
Every time I think about this, my head and heart hurts. How does she call herself an author? She didn’t write the words. Not a single one yet she clearly profited from them despite her claims she didn’t. See this article here from Lucas Mato where she says this and more in an interview since the story broke. You don’t get bestseller status without selling books. Maybe in the alternative universe she seems to be residing in, but not in my experience. That’s not how the system works. Ask any legitimate author publishing in today’s industry that question, and see how quickly it takes for them to laugh in her face. Seriously. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Why did she even start down this road? Is Ms. Serruya allergic to hard work? Too busy to write? When are stealing from so many books, I can imagine that free time is a bit of a commodity. Sarcasm there if you didn’t pick up on that. If I can work a full-time in a demanding science career while still producing a few books a year then surely she could have done the same thing? Right? The answer though would be no because the evidence points to the contrary. The list of authors she has stolen from are some of the best in the business. The real bestsellers. Authors with literally thousands of fans who devour their words. Nora flipping Roberts, y’all. How did she think she was going to get away with it? Reality check. She did, and did so until this last week. There is absolutely no way to gauge just how much money she made off of “her” books. Not without a court order, but I have a feeling that is coming far more quickly than she can imagine.
But it gets even worse. First, Ms. Serruya blamed the ghostwriters she hired for the plagiarism. The use of ghostwriters has been around for far longer than any of us can remember in this industry. It’s common place especially for those who work with the larger publisher houses. For indies? Not as common, but it still occurs. Yet here we see an “author” shoving the blame off on the ghostwriter, claiming she had no knowledge of it. But the thing about passing the blame buck is that sometimes those who you are chastising clap back, and they did. The ghostwriters came forward with evidence of what exactly she sent them. Many of them stating they had refused to work with her after they realized the words were not her own. Some refused her. Others took the money and did it. I guess I have wonder why someone hadn’t blown the whistle on this earlier knowing that she was peddling chunks of various stories to ghostwriters, but that question is one we will likely never get an answer for. However, I digress.
This fiasco, I suspect, is far from over, and the implications down the road for the rest of the indie publishing world has the potential to be staggering. Just like Faleena Hopkins’s copyright last May. When things of this magnitude strike, the ripple effects will hit us all. What that means is still yet to be seen going forward, but I have a feeling that we will be seeing them soon enough with the sheer number of authors and publishers involved in these allegations. I have no doubt that the addition of plagiarism checks will be coming soon enough before we can publish, and honestly, I welcome them because in the grand scheme of things it could curtail a lot of the problems we see with plagiarism. That is if they are implanted correctly. Yet scammers will always find a loophole. Just ask those who have manipulated the KU charts for years who were banned last summer and are already back in the self-publishing game.
This entire ordeal while I may not be directly affected by it gave me a kick in the pants to stop procrastinating and to get my copyrights file for my books, which at the time of publishing this story, I have. It’s time like this that reminds me to never let my guard down because next time it could be my words being stolen. Not only does this hurt me as an author, but our community as well. We put far too much trust and stock in the systems that are supposed to bring us success instead of systemically screwing us over. I’m looking at you, Amazon, when I say this. Fix your KU system, and put gate keepers in place that don’t help the scammers win. You are the industry leader in e-book sales, and until you take a stand, the authors of this world will still fall to plagiarism, theft, and a broken KU system that benefits the scammers and not the authors who provide you the stories for which you make money off of. This is a dark time for the indie world, and I hope that we can find the light at the end of the publishing tunnel soon enough. If we don’t, the community that we love will be changed forever.
It doesn't seem real that four years ago I was preparing to tell you goodbye. The biggest gut wrenching moment of my life. They say you always remember where you were, what you were doing, and how you felt when a personal tragedy strikes. And, they're not wrong. I remember every detail down to the minute of my last day with you. How I watched you slip away from us. Your last words. Your last breath at 5:00 am on February 20th, 2015. The way I felt when I knew I had to walk out of that ICU room, leaving you behind. How I would have to hold our family together as we grieved. The flurry of emotions and feelings that hit so hard every year on this day.
The day I lost my dad. My hero.
So much has changed since that day. I learned just how much I was like you. How I still catch myself calling you to tell you about my day on the way home from work or when shit hits the fan. But, I think the thing that hurts the most is knowing just how not ready I was to lose you. I knew you were suffering, and that letting you go was the best thing we could do for you, but there isn't a single time that this date rolls around on the calendar that I second guess myself. I knew for weeks before the day came that your time was limited. That your body was going to fail you when you still wanted to fight a disease that had already won by the time you were diagnosed. That we were going to lose the cornerstone of our family, and that all I could do is watch from the sidelines praying for a miracle that I knew would never come. And, I think you knew too. It wasn't until after you were gone that things we had talked about on one of my nights at the hospital that I realized that you were preparing me to replace you. To be that cornerstone to keep us going. A responsibility that I didn't want, but accepted when you took your last breathe. And four years later, I still stand tall at my post when all I want to do is buckle at the knees under the weight. But, I preserve. For you. For Mom. For our family. I stand watch for us all.
I love you, Dad.
Which of these dirty-mouthed bikers will be your soulmate?
Think you know the men of the Heaven's Rejects series? New to the series and curious to see which one of them you'll like the most before you dive in? Take the quiz now!
Here we go!
Question #1: Someone cuts you off in traffic. How do you respond?
A. Grumble under your breath.
B. Slash their tires when they stop for gas.
C. Hack the traffic cameras and issue them a ticket.
D. Yell and scream at them.
Question #2: A storm knocks out your power. What is your favorite thing to do to pass the time?
A. Spend time with your family.
B. Sit and brood because you have better shit to do than to wait on the power company to fix it.
C. Continue playing your video game on your laptop because you have enough external battery charger to power a small country for a day.
D. Do the horizontal mambo.
Question #3: What is your favorite cuss word?
B. I don't have a favorite. I use them all. In one sentence if necessary.
C. Sweet Zombie Jesus.
Question #4: What nickname would you give your significant other?
C. You don't want to know. Trust me.
Question #5: Craziest place you've screwed around
A. My Desk
B. Back of my truck at the airport
C. Someone else's office
D. Nowhere is safe.
Let's see which of the guys you've paired up with.
If you answered mostly A's, Raze is your soulmate.
Raze is not only the club president, but he'll boss your around too. Despite his alpha male tendencies, he is a family man, and does what it takes to protect his family. Blood or no blood. He was born to lead, and will keep you on your toes with his bossy demands.
If you answered mostly B's, Ratchet is your soulmate.
Ratchet is the brooding club enforcer. He takes his job very seriously and does what he needs to do to protect his club family. His demons often come out to play, but once you're one of his inner circle, he will kill anyone who hurts you.
If you answered mostly C's, Voodoo is your soulmate.
Voodoo is the nerdy tech guru for the club. There is nothing he can't hack. No information he can't find, and no pop culture reference he won't fit into the conversation some how. If Voodoo's eyes don't draw you in, his sense of humor will.
If you answered mostly D's, Hero is your soulmate.
Hero is the overly suspicious vice-president. He's slow to trust and very guarded. His mind often gets in the way of his heart and he makes snap judgement that often come to bite him in the ass later. His scarred body matches his fragile soul, but when he loves, he loves hard and never lets go.
Which one did you get? Comment Below!
Birthdays. How I loathe thee.
One year older. One year closer to the grave.
When I was young, all I wanted was to be older.
Now that I am older, all I want is my youth back.
But I have traded it all in.
Now my back hurts all the time.
I have bills to pay.
I don’t like strangers on my lawn.
Come back youth.
I’ve written two or three different posts this week, but none of them have felt like the right thing to say. It’s been a week of highs and lows points. We’ve had life changing decisions to make, a celebration of my birthday and 8th wedding anniversary, and a loss that will cut us deeply in the years to come. It’s the kind of week that you consider spending it at the bottom of a bottle of whiskey to get through it. But, whiskey only mutes the pain and sadness for so long.
When the fuzzy haze disappears, the pain and sadness of loss are still there.
The decisions you may be forced to make because of the selfish and irrational people are still there. Your life is still there.
Life doesn’t stop when your world comes crashing down around you in one foul swoop. In fact, life still keeps kicking you when you are down. You consider staying there on the ground, hoping that life will leave you alone, but it doesn’t. You only have one choice.
Get back up.
Get back up, and fight for what you want. Go toe to toe with life. Make those hard decisions, and pray like hell that they are the right ones. If they aren’t, get back up and find a different path. Mourn your losses, and find strength in their memories to keep going forward. And lastly, cut those toxic people out of your life. Wash away their taint from your skin. Find your new normal, and never fucking look back.
It's been exactly a week since I returned home from Motorcycles, Mobsters, and Mayhem, and the book signing hangover is still lingering. It's a weekend that will forever be one of my favorite signings ever. So many of my closest author, reader, and book professional friends were there. Save one, Miss Nikki, but we'll be doing our damnedest to remedying that next year. It was a weekend of laughs, drinks, weird AF conversations, googling that may have put us on the FBI watch list, and renewing old friendships and making new ones.
In short, it was exactly what I needed to renew my love for this community. From the beginning to the end of the signing, people were lined up to see the Dirty Bitches, and to pick up Winter's 4,000 pre-orders. Right, Julie? Despite the hotness of the room, the crowded rows, and the lack of a chance to run to the restroom, it was one of the best signings that I have ever been to. I was able to meet so many of my readers and bloggers that I have talked to over the years face to face. It was simply spectacular.
But the problem comes in as you're packing up to go home. My least favorite activity after a signing weekend. You're forced to leave behind all that fun and return back to the normal portion of your life. Well for me, as normal as it can be because well, it's me. This time the hangover has refused to let go. It's like the ex who keeps on linger long after you break up, hoping you'll change your mind about the final decision of your relationship. Just go already right? Not a chance. Not this time. It was too good of a time to just go fading away.
Instead, I am trying to funnel all of those feelings back into writing. I have four projects that need to be started ASAP, and what better way to do it than use my signing hangover to do it because the more books I get out, the more signings I can attend.
The race to write is on...only 2ish months to my last signing of the year!
P.S Here are a few photos from last weekend!
Y'all. Seriously. You have no idea how excited I am about this signing. The GIF above is not even close to the way I feel right now.
This is the signing weekend that I have been wishing would arrive for months. It's not just that it's another signing, and don't get me wrong, all signings are great. But MMM is a gathering like none other before it. It's all the bad boy alpha male bikers, mobsters, and chaos stirring authors all under one roof. So many of the women attending with me are my idols, and I am almost positive that for the first time in my life that I will be rendered speechless. It's the chance of a lifetime and I am so glad to be a part of it.
For those of you I will see this weekend, a fair warning. This girl is locked and loaded for the best damn signing weekend of my life, and hope you are, too. If I'm a new to you author, stop by and chat. I have lots of swag and giveaways going on. I'm not a shy person. Like seriously. Not shy at all.
That being said....
My book babies are packed and ready to rock n' roll my way to Cincinnati tomorrow morning, but are my clothes packed? Hell no. Maybe I should get that finished or this weekend will be even crazier than I imagined. LOL
I want to start off my apologizing for the lack of weekly posts the last two weeks. With vacation and MMM looming, all of my free time has been sucked into the black hole of adulthood. Not fun, I know. But... it's finally here! Vacation begins in T-minus 12 hours from now. Like wheels up. In the air. Goodbye, Indiana. Hello, Southern California. Avelyn is going to Hollywood.
The next week will be filled with fun events and time with our niece and friends, but more importantly, I am going to be unplugged. That means outside of a post here or there, you will not find me on social media. It's high time I took a little time back for myself and remember how to relax. It's been so long that my days and weeks weren't meticulously planned with to-do lists and tasks. The effect of it all is weighing down the muse that I desperately need to be working right now.
See y'all in a week!
Oh, and before I forget, Dirty Bitches MC releases this Friday. You should totally check it out. I dare you to ride with the Dirty Bitches :)
Ah, Stress. My dear, old friend that never seems to leave. Much like that one person in your life that doesn’t take the damn hint that you are really ready to be away from them, but just keeps on going and going. You know the one, right? Yeah, you do. You’re thinking about that person or situation right now.
Well, that situation for me as a dual vocational author, meaning I have a full-time job on top of writing, is nearly an everyday occurrence. Finding the time to write or even finding my muse proves difficult on the best of days. You can plan all you want to sit down and right, but life has a funny way of figuring out your plan and taking a baseball bat to it on the 11th hour of your timeline. Trust me. It happens to all of us. Happened to me last week. Still trying to get over the effects of it even with a vacation in the middle of it.
But stress can always be a motivator as in my aforementioned case about last week. Let me set the picture.
You’re an author. *Hi Author!*
You’ve been kicked in the teeth with personnel issues at work, a death in the family, and trying to balance one family event after another.
Your normal on top of it, planner self doesn’t realize that a deadline is much closer than you originally thought it was. Like… 2 days until it’s due closer.
You have that freak out moment.
“How in the hell am I going to do this? I only have one chapter written.”
That is quickly followed by the sense of utter dread and despair.
“You’re such a failure. How could you not realize this? Maybe I should just quit. I’m not cut out for this. ”
Then it hits. The determination to try your best and get those words put onto paper.
You go without sleep.
You load yourself up on so much caffeine that you have no idea how your blood hasn’t turned into one big soda fountain of Coca-Cola.
You work your ever loving ass off until you finally type the magic words.
An entire day ahead of schedule.
While I used to think of stress as a bad thing, last week it worked in my favor. I made my deadline. Something that I thought was impossible, but I did it. Though I have to totally have to admit that stress in my day job wears me out more than I would like and could never be considered a motivational tool. It did motivate me this time. It made my creative juices flow knowing that others depended on me to get my story done.
Is that story perfect? Hell no. It’s not even remotely like I thought it would be, but the finishing touches can be added during the editing. The important thing is that I did what I promised to do, and got the job done. Is this something that I think will happen every time? Hell no. I know that I may not always find success in every deadline I come across, but last week? Yeah, I totally rocked that deadline’s world.
Now, onto to the next one, which I definitely wrote down like a million and one times in my new author planner. Because, well, #stressgoals.
See you all next week. Happy reading!