Writing During Tumultuous Times (or: Why I Didn’t Make Word Count Last Week)

As of today, I should have had 27,000 words done on The Crimson and the Black, well past the 1/4 mark and close to the 1/3 mark of the book. Instead, I currently have *checks Scrivener* 10,209 words.

But I have Reasons.

January 4th: made my word count early in the day, then turned off Scrivener and started cleaning up after my cat JJ who had been leaving little piles of foamy pink mucus all over the living room floor. As he is 19, this was understandably concerning. He refused to eat for the rest of the day, leaving one last pile near the kitchen before curling up in a spot next to the fireplace and behind a table where it’s quiet and peaceful. It’s where he goes when he’s sick, which wasn’t a good sign. I decided to take him to the emergency vet in the morning.

January 5th: Loaded a complaining JJ into the crate and hauled him into the emergency vet. They’d seen him way back in 2006 when he’d had a bladder blockage so they had records on him, and I waited in the parking lot for about two hours while they ran bloods and checked him over.

Their diagnosis: “He has an upset stomach. Everything looks normal except for his BUN, which is slightly elevated due to the vomiting. We’ve given him anti-nausea meds and B-12 to stimulate his appetite––bring him back in if he gets worse.” What really surprised me was the news that his kidneys were fine––his own vet had diagnosed him as a kidney deficient kitty about four years ago. Since he’s outlived the life expectancy for those cats by a year, clearly his kidneys did not agree with this. They also told me that he was a very, very good cat––the vet tech who brought him back out to the car adored him, which is his just due.

After taking him home, I headed back out to the store to get various delicacies with the hopes of tempting him to eat something, anything. Nothing worked––he wouldn’t even lick at anything, but he was drinking water and peeing so at least he was getting some fluids. By this point it was evening, I still had to come up with something for dinner, I was tired and worried about JJ, and I figured I would just write off the day and make up the word count the next day. Ho ho ho.

January 6th: As everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows by now, the U.S. Capitol was attacked and overrun on this day by a bunch of cosplaying MAGA idiots and a smaller group of far more competent seditionists after Pobrecheeto, along with some help from Rep. Mo Brooks and Junior, whipped them into a frenzy down at the Ellipse, then sent them off to the Capitol to stop the vote count. JJ was still not eating, and my attention for the day was torn between the news and my ailing cat. Writing? Surely you jest.

I finally got JJ to lick at a little bit of Gerber chicken baby food (his favorite snack) in the evening, but that was all he would eat. He curled up in his Sick Spot and went to sleep, while I stayed up to watch Congress confirm the electors’ votes in the middle of the night and give Joe Biden the win.

January 7th: Needless to say, I woke up late. Still torn between the news and JJ, I now had to run out to the pet food store to get some adult cat formula and see if I could get JJ to eat some of that. He wasn’t thrilled with it but I got him to lick some off his muzzle when I smeared it there. No other food would pass his lips, however, and I was really starting to get scared. I decided to get up at 8 AM, call his vet, and beg them to let me bring him in.

By now, I was frazzled, scared that I was about to lose my black velvet purrmonster to an upset stomach, of all things, and increasingly infuriated with what was happening in D.C. No, I didn’t write.

January 8th: After an absolutely horrible night of sleep, I got up and called the vet, leaving a message detailing the situation with JJ. I then waited up until they called back at 10 AM and said, “Bring him in––we’ll work him up between appointments.” (It helps that they love him, too.) So back into the crate JJ went and off we drove to the vet’s office. I dropped him off, came home, and crawled back into bed for a four hour nap.

After I woke up, I poked at the WIP for a bit in between checking the news. At 3:30 PM the vet called––they couldn’t find anything wrong with him, either, but they’d given him different anti-nausea meds, as well as an appetite stimulant and some Pepcid to reduce stomach acidity, and offered to send a banana bag (lactated Ringer’s solution that can be injected into a cat via subcutaneous IV) home with him as well. I knew how to give a cat sub-Q fluids so I took them up on it, and fetched JJ home. He walked into the house, went straight to the food bowl and began nomming down. He continued to eat periodically for the rest of the night, in between snoozes on his usual spot on the couch, and I got 1,676 words done on CatB.

January 9 – 10th: I’d really hoped to play catch-up over the weekend, but I also badly needed sleep after the events of the week, plus I still had to do the food shopping, laundry, and other household tasks, and JJ really wanted to spend a lot of time resting on my chest while I petted him. As a result I only got 733 words on Saturday and 773 words on Sunday, but at least I got something down.

January 11th: First day properly back at work, and I managed to tear myself away from the increasingly horrendous news coming out of D.C. long enough to get 3,055 words done, which gave me word count for the day but didn’t do bubkes about my deficit. This wasn’t helped by the fact that all of the other cats had noticed me giving JJ extra cuddles and deserved equal time. I still don’t know if they have a quota worked out among themselves or what, but I had a cat on my lap desk or in my arms for a total of three hours today. I timed it.

January 12th: I should make word count tonight, and I’m hoping to get to bed early and get a decent night’s sleep (not that easy with our utterly crappy mattress) so that I can get up early tomorrow and knock out 6K, which will start whittling down my deficit. The story is starting to pick up steam (I can hear the characters talking in my head when I’m writing dialogue, which is always a good sign), and I’m learning a lot more about Fyodora’s dragon shifter beau Callum Brown (I had no idea he was a professor of literature at the University of Edinburgh, for example), as well as Victorian casinos, the relationship between dragons and selkies, and what happens when a footloose and fancy free vampire finds herself unexpectedly mated to a gruff dragon shifter who prefers to be alone.

So anyway, that’s me. How are you all doing so far?

Cats and Stress

Phew.

So, JJ the 19-year-old cat started throwing up pink foamy mucus on Monday. We researched it and it’s a symptom of a lot of things, including gastritis (stomach ache). I took him into the ER vet Tuesday morning, they did a full blood workup and exam, and said everything is normal, he just has an upset stomach. They gave him something for nausea and an appetite stimulant and sent him home.

Except he wouldn’t eat. Drank water just fine, would get up and walk around, but would not eat. We tried all his favorite foods: tuna water, Gerber’s baby food in chicken flavor, the works. He licked at a little baby food Wednesday night, and yesterday I got a half ounce of adult cat formula down him via kitten bottle, but we were getting worried.

Luckily we have the best damn cat vet in Texas (Dr. Dana Crigger, Collin County Cat Hospital, cannot recommend her enough), so when I called this morning and explained what was going on she said bring him in, we’ll work him up between appointments. She ran some other tests to check his heart (which is fine), then called me and said that he’s not concentrating urine but his kidneys are good. She then posited that he might be hyperthyroid. “But cats who are hyperthyroid usually eat ferociously,” she added.

I laughed hollowly and explained that before Monday JJ ate like a teenage linebacker, begging for food every time we went into the kitchen. “Ah, okay. I’ll send his bloodwork off to be tested for that,” she said. “How well does he take pills?”

“Like a trouper.”

“Good.”

She then administered another anti-nausea med, an appetite stimulant, and some Pepcid to reduce his stomach acid, and I took him home. The moment he got out of the carrier he went straight to the food bowls and nommed down. He’s been back to eat twice more, and is now curled up in one of his favorite spots digesting and snoozing. I feel like I’ve unclenched for the first time since Monday morning.

Also, older cats slowly lose weight and turn into skin and bones. JJ? Weighed 11 pounds at his checkup in December and 10 pounds today. I swear to God, the world could end and the only survivors will be Keith Richards, Betty White, and JJ wandering across the blasted landscape.

So, it’s 2021

I know it’s expected to come up with a list of resolutions, diet plans, and goals at this time of year, but to be honest I hate resolutions, diets bore me, and I already came up with my goals for 2021 back in November.

Goal #1: Improve my indie publishing sales

The trick here is twofold — write and publish more good books steadily, and get really, really good at promotion. Which includes Amazon ads for me (I don’t have a great deal of luck with FB ads but I’m studying up on them), as well as social media promotion, regular blogging here, biweekly newsletters, and tools such as BookBub, BookFunnel, and BookSprout.

On the book-writing front, I managed to get a novel or novella out each month in the last half of 2020, which almost completely cleared off my WIP backlog. I won’t be able to keep that up in 2021, at least not if I want to maintain my current level of quality, but the goal is to release six books, once every two months, and put out a novella or short story in between the book releases. That, I feel, is manageable, and should result in twelve titles being released in 2021.

On the promotion front, my Amazon ad game is definitely improving — I’ve been making more sales and my Advertising cost of sales is dropping steadily, which is also good. That being said, I’ve decided to blow away all the old ads and start fresh in January by implementing the things I’ve learned about Amazon ads and doing A/B testing. It’ll take some time for the algos to pick up on that and start bumping the books up, but from a long-term perspective I think it’s the best thing I can do. Still need to do some more research on FB, but I may dip my toes back in that pool sometime in February.

Goal #2: Make mo’ money

This is partially tied into Goal #1 since that’s one of my main income streams. What with the emotional and financial rollercoaster of the last four years, I’m tired. Last year I had determined to clear off all of our outstanding bills with my contract job, and before COVID got me furloughed I was able to clear all bills except one. I want to expand on that this year, plus I want savings, I want to be able to invest in the stock market, and I want Ramón to be able to retire in 2024. And the only way to make that happen is to bring in more money.

I have three income streams at the moment — indie publishing, contract tech writing work, and jewelry making. At the moment the contract work pays the most, but it’s also on hold due to COVID. I would very much like to get to the point where I make enough money from indie publishing that I don’t have to rely on contract work unless the job really appeals to me.

And believe it or not, before last year I made pretty much the same amount from jewelry making as I did from indie publishing (mainly due to my work in sterling silver and semi-precious stones). Publishing has now pulled ahead of the jewelry, but I’d like to get back to designing and creating jewelry this year. It’s fun, it’s a nice break from writing, and it’s become part of my writing process (I mull over story ideas and plotting when I’m melting silver and soldering findings together). Also, people have been asking when I’m going to put more baroque earrings on my Etsy page. It’s nice to have fans.

Goal #3: Continue working on my shitty knees

At least I now know exactly what’s wrong with both of them, and I have PT exercises that do help. But that little chat with the PA at Baylor confirmed that I’m never going to actually straighten out either knee unless I get replacements, and the Baylor surgeon did not seem willing to do that.

Which means I will continue to limp for the foreseeable future, until 1) I can find a surgeon willing to replace ShitKnee at the very least, and 2) save up the money for that, as my PT sessions drained all the money I’d saved for surgery from last year. God, I hate the American medical insurance system.

Now, I just have to implement all of these goals. I’d gotten off to a great start on 1/4 after my break, but yesterday was taken up with hauling JJ to the emergency vet because he’d been vomiting up pinkish foam (after an exam and bloodwork to the tune of $611, the determination — he had an upset tummy) and today I’m running around trying to tempt JJ to eat with soft treats and easily digestible things and Jeremy is making an absolute ass of himself trying to get in my way. Need to catch up with word count, monitor the pending Senate race in Georgia (come on, Jon!), and brave the outside world later on for a food shop.

Onward, 2021.

N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s Christmas and Holiday Book Festival – Natasha M. Stark

Hello, all you lovely people, and welcome to the blog! I probably should explain the discrepancy between the name in the blog title and the name on the website itself — I write speculative romance (SF/fantasy/paranormal) as Nicola Cameron, but in 2020 I started writing contemporary romance as Natasha M. Stark. My very first contemporary holiday romance, One Sweet Christmas, is the story of an unemployed personal assistant traveling to LA who gets stranded in a Colorado ski town when her car breaks down. She gets talking into helping the local hot baker make an emergency wedding cake for an influencer Bridezilla––and hijinks ensue!

One Sweet Christmas was an absolute ball to write as it combined three of my favorite things––romance, banter, and baking. I can neither confirm nor deny that this story was influenced by The Great British Bakeoff, but I do enjoy baking assorted treats like mince pies and fruitcake, which leads me to my family holiday tradition. When I was a kid, my mother used to make a Polish fried cookie called Chrusciki (angel wings) every Christmas, and watching her making them was almost as good as eating them.

Image Copyright 2020 JennyCanCook.comThis was before the advent of silicone baking sheets, so she would spread a clean sheet over the kitchen counter to get a smooth surface, scatter it with flour, then roll out paper-thin sections of dough before slicing them into rectangles and cutting a slit down the center of the long side.

One end would get pulled through the slit to form a kind of dough bow tie, before going into hot oil and puffing up into a delicious, crispy cookie. The final touch was sprinkling them with powdered sugar (this had to be done while they were still hot and slightly oily so that the sugar would stick). You couldn’t wear anything nice when you ate Chrusciki because you’d get powdered sugar over everything, but we didn’t care because they were so yummy.

If you also love baking and want to take a crack at making these delicious cookies, Jenny Can Cook has a really good recipe that produces authentic Chrusciki. Just don’t wear anything that has to be dry cleaned when you nom them.


Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, and I hope you had a good (and safe) holiday this year! Before you go, I’d like to remind you of the Rafflecopter giveaway being held by N.N. Light’s Book Heaven. Everyone who enters has a chance at winning one of the following:

  • $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Direct Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775087

The giveaway is open internationally and runs December 1 – 31, and a drawing will be held on January 4, 2021. Click the link above to enter, and good luck!

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Surfacing, Yet Again

As you know, Bob, I had one more book to finish and release in 2020. This was the very much anticipated Cross Current, which is the fourth book in my Olympic Cove menage fantasy romance series (or as I like to think of it, “Gods and mermen and selkies, oh my!”). People have been waiting patiently for this book for about five years, but I couldn’t continue the series until I’d gotten the rights back for the first three book. That happened this year, which meant that Cross Current was a go.

After I finished King of Blades and released it at the end of November, I got to work on Cross Current. Now, I had about 20K of the book done so I figured, meh, maybe two weeks to finish, two weeks to edit, polish, and format, and I could get it out at the end of December. Being an eternal optimist, I decided to put it out for pre-order on December 1st because I would have more than enough time to get everything done, right?

Put a pin in this because we will be returning to this point later.

So, I started working on Cross Current, and promptly ran into two rather large problems. One, I was hurting. For reasons I didn’t understand every joint in my body was screaming at me, and sitting for any length of time (which you kinda have to do if you’re a writer) was problematic. And no, it wasn’t COVID for reasons I will explain later on. But writing when your joints are on fire is not fun.

Secondly, I was having one hell of a time getting the story out. I knew how it started, knew how it finished, but the the middle part was like pulling teeth. I was lucky if I could get 300 words out a day, in between trying to get my brain to get creative and trying to get my joints to stop screaming at me.

On December 7th, I’m starting to get mildly worried because I haven’t made sufficient progress on the book and the upload deadline would be 6:00 PM CST Christmas Day. And then my muse, drunken ho that she is, strolled in with a margarita in one hand and said, “You’re having problems with this because your story is angsty. Nobody wants to read angsty in 2020. Liven it up, make it fun.”

She had a point. I was kinda putting my main character Matt through hell, and I wasn’t really paying much attention to all of the members in his menage, all five of them. Remember this graphic?

So I scrap my original story and decide to go with a fun Ocean’s 8 style caper story, where Matt has to steal some nanotech with the help of a mer and three selkies, and hijinks ensue.

And I’ll be damned, but that worked. Suddenly the floodgates opened and I could see the story in my head, which is what tells me I’m on the right track.

One eensy problem–those 20,000 words I’d already written didn’t fit this new story. I was able to salvage the opening chapter, but 15K had to go in the cut file, which really put me behind the eight ball.

But that’s when my second Festivus miracle occurred. I ran out of a supplement that I take to keep my nasal mucus thinned out (remember, I live with five cats to whom I am mildly allergic), and a day later I realized I felt fucking great. My pain levels were way down, and I was only having the usual issues with ShitKnee. I looked up the side effects for the supplement and saw, “can cause joint and muscle pain” (unsurprising because it breaks up biofilm and scavenges fibrin in the blood system).

By this time it’s December 9, and I have to put pedal to the metal because I now have to completely rewrite my first four chapters and actually finish the rest of the book. I keep plugging away, but it’s December, which means the J Crew have to be taken into the vet for their shots, I have a dental cleaning, and a myriad of other holiday-related things all eat up my time until December 17th rolls around and I only have 25,000 words out of a projected 80,000. if you do the math, you’ll discover that this left me with 55,000 words still to be written, and I also had to get the book edited, proofed, polished, formatted, and uploaded to Amazon in eight days.

Sometimes, you have to realize that you can’t do everything yourself and ask for help. First, I took a deep breath and talked to Ramón, explaining that I couldn’t do the usual Christmas prep that I do every year and get the book done. Would he mind helping out, or if certain things get pushed back a bit?

I am blessed to be married to the world’s best writer’s spouse. He blinked and said, “Petal, 2020 blows chunks anyway. We can live with a meh Christmas. Don’t worry about anything, just focus on the book.”

Okay, that was out of the way. I then talked to my editor, throwing myself on her mercy. She agreed to edit the book in chunks — I would finish a handful of chapters, clean them up, and shove them at her for editing (she is a goddess, by the way).

Finally, I sat down with my brain and had a come-to-Jesus chat. In order to finish this book, I was about to have a very unpleasant week  where I would have to write faster on a daily basis than I ever had just to finish the first draft, and then I would have to turn around immediately and edit/polish/format. If I could do this, at 6:01 PM CST Christmas Day I would get completely loaded in celebration, spend the rest of the night watching Wonder Woman 84 and Bridgerton, and the period from Boxing Day to January 4th would be devoted to rest and relaxation.

My brain reluctantly agreed. And so I sat down, wrote out a detailed outline, broke it down into chapters so that I knew exactly what I had to do in each chapter, and set out to write 10,000 words a day for the next five and a half days.

Yes, you read that correctly. And that wasn’t all; I would also be constantly shuttling completed chapters back and forth to the editor and incorporating her edits after I hit word quota for the day. But it was necessary because there was no way in hell I was missing this deadline and getting banned from Amazon pre-orders for a year.

So I did it. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I fell into bed exhausted ever night, my dreams were pretty much related to the books, I gained five pounds despite my determination to get at least fifteen minutes on the treadmill every day, the only cleaning I did was sweeping and laundry, and the meals were pretty much reduced to, “What can I throw together in ten minutes?”

But I did it. And somehow, I produced a pretty damned good book. Part of my mind kept noticing how things just fell into place, the three act structure chugging along like it was on rails. Each member of my fivesome now had an identity and screen time, and I cheered for them all the way through the book. And I wrote the most physically challenging love scene of my writing career to date. I’m still damn proud of it.

The last edits went in at 5:30 AM this morning, and I spent two hours fixing a formatting problem before uploading the file to Amazon (I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep until it was done, and I had this irrational fear that I’d die in my sleep and nobody would ever see the book that had killed me) and crawling into bed at 7:30 AM. After one of the best sleeps of my life, I got up, got dressed, played with the kitties, and just … breathed.

It was nice. Then I decided to give the file one last read-through, polish, and spell/grammar/punctuation check because I am an anal-retentive masochist, formatted THAT, and uploaded it to Amazon at 4:15 PM CST, an hour and forty-five minutes before the cutoff time. It’s now churning through the ‘Zon, and the seven lovely people who pre-ordered it will get it at 12:01 AM on Tuesday, December 29th.

And then I decided to wash the bedding so that we’d have crisp clean sheets for Christmas night and clean the library so that I could put up the tree. Get loaded and watch movies? Ho ho ho. Remember, anal-retentive masochist here. But I’m singing Christmas songs as I’m working, and I’m so very proud of myself for finishing Cross Current and getting it out into the world.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and may 2021 be a huge frigging improvement on this dumpster fire of a year.

Marvelous Monday Reads: Night Song

Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, darlings! Today I’m featuring E.D. Parr and her wonderful new holiday romance Night Song, now available from Evernight Publishing and other retailers of fine romance. Take it away, E.D.!


Twenty-five year old Oliver Honeycutt has no idea how handsome he is. He’s creative, brilliant at his job, and underused in the designer fashion store where he works. Behind the scenes, Oliver takes special care with orders for customer, rock star, Zane Highwood. When Zane is to be the main attraction in the store’s Christmas party, fashion show, Oliver hopes Zane will notice him.

Multi-millionaire, twenty-five year old Noah Somersby, made his first million before he was twenty-one and now owns a number of casual-chic menswear stores. He’s a designer, gorgeous, and desperate to find a man who will love him for himself and not see dollar signs as they kiss.

Noah doesn’t often take the train into the city, but one rainy day he does, as he settles into a seat opposite Oliver, the two men exchange interested glances.

In fact, Noah is super attracted to Oliver and Oliver thinks Noah is gorgeous.

As the store holiday season party approaches, can serendipity bring them together?


Story Excerpt

Noah felt Oliver shift in his arms as if to pull away, but then he winced, bent his head, and leaned on Noah.

Concerned, Noah tightened his hold on Oliver. “I’m worried about you.” A tingle of surprise raced along Noah’s body as Oliver raised his face to gaze at him with open desire in his eyes.

“I think I need another kiss … to make it all better.”

Noah smiled before he kissed Oliver, not even feeling a sliver of guilt at kissing a possibly dazed man.

This time Oliver returned the kisses.

Noah drifted in sensation. He lingered on Oliver’s lips, kissing him, then breathing, then kissing him again. His eyes closed and his mouth only a sigh away from Oliver’s, he rested his forehead on Oliver’s and murmured, “I wanted to kiss you the other morning on the train. I’m sorry I hurt you, but not sorry I jumped on you, because I want you … want to know you … get to know you.”

Oliver stirred in his arms again and Noah opened his eyes.

Oliver placed a soft kiss on Noah’s mouth. “I … feel the same about you. I wanted the kiss—craved it, in fact. Noah, I should probably go home and check my bruises, get cleaned up—if the ride is still on offer.”

Noah forced himself from the languor of Oliver’s kiss. “What if you stay here and I’ll race off and bring my car back? I’ll only be a few minutes.”

“I’m really okay, just sort of achy.”

Noah shook his head. “I’d feel better if you rested here.” He left Oliver leaning against the wall and dashed along the street to his store’s delivery space. Happiness shielded him from the cold, foggy night. Lingering delight from Oliver’s kisses protected him from the fine rain that drenched everything. Elated, Noah sped back for Oliver. He turned up the heat in his car, parked in the no-parking zone, and helped Oliver into the passenger seat.

Oliver smiled at him in the dim glow of the streetlights. “Thank you.”

The seasonal fairy lights in the adjacent store window penetrated the fog with hazy dots of color. The drizzle put a ring of sparkles around Christmas lanterns hanging from the decorative rope lights strung across the streets. Noah leaned to Oliver and kissed him gently.

“Where do you live?”


Where to Buy

Evernight Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Siren Bookstrand | Smashwords


About the Author

I write stories that pop into my head and hope that they will resonate with someone. I’d love to think that the love stories I write are what readers want. I don’t think there’s enough love in the world, but even so, my stories are character driven. I always have a happy ending. We all deserve one.

I like to think there’s originality in my work. When I look at the body of my work I see originality within the story plots, but the theme of finding love is always there.

Evernight Publishing | Twitter | Amazon | Blog | Facebook

Want to read some AWESOME holiday books and win an Amazon gift card?

Calling all holiday-themed readers! We’re celebrating Christmas and the holidays all month long at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s Christmas and Holiday Book Festival. 48 holiday-themed books featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

  • Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, One Sweet Christmas, will be featured on December 31st, 2020. Each author shares a family holiday tradition, including me. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this event and come back every day:

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/christmas-holiday-festival

It’s the little things in life

Like when the ‘Zon actually reads your email instead of sending you a boilerplate response and unblocks one of your series so that you can edit it.

Lemme ‘splain. KDP changed things about a month ago so that authors could edit their own series pages, instead of having to ask the KDP customer assistance team do it. Problem was, I misunderstood the email instructions when we were informed of this and tried to create a new Olympic Cove series page. KDP promptly blocked the series and sent me an email that said I would have to ask them to make any future changes.

Fair enough, it was my screw-up. But when I sent them an email last week informing them of the block on the OC series page and asking them to please add Cross Current, I got a response saying, “Oh, you can do all that yourself now — good luck!” I replied with the info that, er, no, I couldn’t, the series page was blocked.

The response? Crickets.

But I am resolute. Yesterday, I sent them a new email, politely reiterating that I needed to have the book added, and attached the original “You screwed up so you need to have us make any changes” email. This morning, I got a reply saying that the series was reviewed and successfully passed, and the updates would soon be available on Amazon. Translation: “Oh, we see. Okay, yeah, we’ll unlock your series.”

In other news, Cross Current is now officially listed on Amazon as book 4 in the Olympic Cove series, which is nice because that’s currently the only place I can put it up for pre-order (Smashwords requires too long of a prep period for me to do it on B&N, Kobo, or iTunes).

So that’s all to the good. Unfortunately, there are some new functionality changes on the otherwise superlative KDP Reports Beta page that removed the ability to see at a glance which titles you’d sold on a particular day (they used to have a bar graph with colors for each title — now the graph is one color and you have to drill down through a calendar function to find out which titles you sold on X day). But I also have Book Report running, so I guess I can keep that running in a tab and check there for daily sales.

As for Cross Current, I’m chugging along and should have the second draft off to the editor and betas by next week, which will give me a week to clean up and do any final tweaks before uploading it to Amazon on Christmas Day (probably before then, but that’s my upload deadline). The plot has changed significantly, but it’s also a LOT more fun (more of a caper romance than an angsty romance) now, so that’s all good.

And then I get to relax between Christmas and January 2nd. Ah, that will be swell…

Writing a book in December might have been a mistake…

It was such a good goal — finish Cross Current and get it out in 2020. It would almost completely clear my backlog of WIPs (still have to finish Shifter Woods: Growl and Uncertainty Principle), it would cheer all the patient Olympic Cove fans who have been waiting for the next book in the series, and it would be great to mentally spend some time on a COVID-free Florida beach and write about a group I’ve privately started calling the Scooby Gang.

Except. I forgot about December. December, the month where I like to give the whole house a thorough cleaning before putting up the Christmas tree and decorations. Where I like to bake fruitcakes, mince pies and tarts. Where I need to close the books on my assorted income streams in preparation for January and the paperwork that needs to be prepped for the accountant. Not to mention five cats who are very jealous of my attention and a husband whose non-work personal interaction has come down to me and a weekly call to England.

All of that should have warned me off of trying to finish Cross Current this month. But then the Muse, my drunken bitch, decided to step in when I was having problems plotting and gave me a WHOLE NEW THEME AND PLOT for the book. Which meant I had to tear back the first four chapters and rewrite them, and yeah, they’re better this way but man I just lost a big chunk of time that I honestly do not have.

That being said, the book is on pre-order and I have a hard deadline that I simply cannot miss. So I am going to channel the beloved and much-missed Rachel Caine and hoist her signal that she was writing on deadline. Let’s get ‘er done.

O.M.G.

As you may know, dear reader, I’m deep in the weeds of what is now known as perimenopause, that hilarious period of a woman’s life where she essentially goes through a second round of puberty, only this time various systems shut down instead of turn on. The amount of hormonal hijinks, however, are the same, and the effects of being on a hormonal rollercoaster can include brain fog, tiredness, bloating, hot flashes, night sweats, and a whole other passel of fascinating experiences (and yes, I am being as sarcastic as I can at the moment).

Now, I started getting hot flashes a couple of years ago, and they got to the point where I was getting them three times an hour or so. Imagine walking from a cool house into an absolutely sweltering day, plus you’ve just eaten ghost pepper chili. That is a fairly close description of what a hot flash is like. They also made me nauseous as hell, and since I hate throwing up I did some research and found out that OTC progesterone cream would help.

Lo, it did, and for the last two years I haven’t been bothered with hot flashes. But 2020 had an extra little rotten cherry to put on the shitpile of this year, and it was the return of the hot flashes. The progesterone cream wasn’t stopping them anymore, so I did some more research and came up with black cohosh. It is a herb native to North America that behaves much like estrogen in some women’s bodies and can help reduce or eliminate hot flashes (DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor and am not dispensing medical advice, I’m simply relaying what I’ve learned and what works for me. Do your own research if you want to consider taking this, and speak with your physician before you start a new supplement).

Seeing as I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in about two weeks due to waking up at least twice a night feeling like I was on fire, I got up today and figured what the hell, I’d try the damned stuff and see if it worked.

But first, I had to take the Great Orange Lump in for his shots, then take him home, then go to the store and actually buy some black cohosh along with some other stuff (pro tip–you can usually find black cohosh in the vitamin aisle near the women’s vitamins and supplements), then stagger home, eat a belated breakfast, and take my new best friend (my life, you know you want it).

Then I went back to bed because, yeah, I needed it. Ramón pretty much patted me on the head as I staggered towards the bedroom and told me to have a nice nap, and 3/5ths of the J Crew joined me in bed.

People, I had the loveliest four-hour nap with NO HOT FLASHES. I even dreamed, and woke not wanting to kill people for the first time in two weeks. Once again, I refer you to the disclaimer above, but for me this stuff works.