Category Archives: Books

And Here’s February

The ice outside is melting thanks to the rain that’s currently falling, although that’s predicted to freeze later tonight, but tomorrow will be in the 40s and we don’t need to go anywhere until Friday anyway so as long as we have heat and power I’m good.

Now that you’ve had the weather report from the clavicle of Texas, here’s my to do list for February:

  • Finish and release Shifter Woods: Claw
  • Finish Crystal Blade
  • Prep and launch my Patreon (which requires writing a short story—I think I’m going to write about Fyodora and Callum’s arrival in Egypt, much to Henry’s dismay and Louisa’s amusement)
  • Start recording the audiobook of Shadow of the Swan

I’m also toying with the idea of releasing a serial story on Vella. Remember that contemporary romance idea I had that turned into an SF romance? It would lend itself to an episodic form and I could definitely release at least one 2K episode a week. But I would have to ruthlessly outline it first to make sure that I didn’t wind up boxing myself into a corner halfway through the story and annoying the readers. I may work on the outline this week and see if I can get it into shape.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to churning out 3K for the day, whee…

Happiness is a Warm Office

As I mentioned in the last post, our upstairs heating is rather wonky where the craft room (and upstairs bathroom) gets the bulk of the heat and the rest of the rooms are left to do credible imitations of iceboxes. Ramón’s office has three computers in it which helps with heat to a degree, but this situation has required us to purchase a space heater for our bedroom which lives in front of the window and does its best to hold back the cold.

The first space heater we ever got, however, seemed to stop working after a few years. Because I am who I am, I stuck it behind our bedroom door and got another space heater for the room, always thinking, “Yeah, I really should haul that downstairs and throw it out” when I cleaned.

In other words, the space heater is still in here and it occurred to me that it wouldn’t hurt to bring it into the office, plug it in, and see if it might fire up again. So I did. Lo and behold, it’s heating up nicely (Ramón came in and sniffed suspiciously but I reminded him that the damn thing was covered with dust and I was about to clean it off) and the chill draft playing about my feet is starting to abate.

Even better, Jessica just inspected it and gave it what I can only call an approving meow. I suspect I know what her favorite nap place is going to be for the next few days.

In other news, I have written 12,790 words in January. Which is pathetic, to be honest—I should have done 40K minimum. So that is now my goal for February, which is good because I need to get Crystal Blade finished and out by the beginning of March and having a word goal will help with that.

Anyway—onward to February and the return of warmth this weekend!

I Think I Have a Solution

As you may know, Bob, I mentally cast my characters with actors because I’m a very visual writer and I see scenes in my head when I’m writing. In fact, I usually create headshots of whoever I cast and add them in Scrivener so that I can look at them on the right side of the screen when I’m writing. And I think I may have stumbled over the problem of why finishing Shifter Woods: Claw has been so difficult.

The people I mentally cast as Matt and Angela have the perfect chemistry for the story, and I admire them both as actors. Problem is, I’m not attracted to the male actor at all. I love his work, I love his interaction with the actress I cast as Angela, I have no problem with the man whatsoever—he just doesn’t do it for me.

So picture me sitting there and scrolling through pictures of actors in their forties, trying to find the ideal Matt. Which turned out to be kind of a struggle because most of what Hollywood considers to be pretty leaves me utterly cold. I needed someone who was American, mid-forties, could pull off being the head of a Search and Rescue group and a wolf shifter, could do grumpy yet sexy, and was hot in my unique opinion.

After literally an hour of searching, I finally found someone who works. And no, I’m not going to name him because it doesn’t matter who I see in my head when I write—the reader will pick their own favorite actor, which is how it should be. But suddenly the story has taken on a much deeper appeal and editing this should be hella easier.

Things Are Moving Along

Shifter Woods: Claw currently stands at 30,533 out of a projected 35K (although it might go a little higher). I’m not even going to promise when it’s going to be finished because every damn time I do something happens to stall me (giving a dirty look to my giggling Muse in the corner) but it does seem that I’m on the home stretch. Of course, now that I’ve said that something will happen that will suck up all of my available time, just watch.

Anyhoo, I’m currently working on a dream sex scene set on the shore of Lake Michigan with the lights of downtown Chicago in the distance (my story, my rules, and I’m from Chicago and I love Lake Michigan with a passion that passeth understanding), and once that’s done I have one chapter that will be the big real-time love scene between Matt and Angela, one chapter that will be the villain trying to kidnap Angela and throw her under the bus to save his own skin from the Chicago Outfit, and one wrap-up chapter.

And then I have to edit it, whee. I desperately want to get back to Crystal Blade or any of the other books, but if I do that Claw will be left to molder and I want to get it done, out there, and the Esposito County Shifter box set published. So I’m imposing some damn discipline on myself and finishing this before I get to do anything else.

My beloved editor also has a cameo in here as the beta of the wolf shifter pack. She laughed like a drain when I told her about it, which made my day. Pro tip, kids—always keep your editor happy.

Sphincter…Relaxing…

My Amazon KU sales are continuing to pick up, thank Cthulhu, so clearly I did the right thing by turning the automatic renewal back on for the bulk of my titles. Still, I’m going to be significantly short this month on expected income, which kind of blows because I would really like to take Ramón to Sarasota for a weekend sometime in April and I need sweet, sweet publishing income for that. Even if I published two new titles next month I wouldn’t see that money until the end of April so obviously I need to kickstart the Shopify store and start selling signed print versions of my books with swag.

I need minions, I really do. Or a PA, but I can’t afford one right now so it’s all on me.

In the meantime I’m thisclose to finishing Shifter Woods: Claw and will get that out before the end of the month, and as soon as Shifter Woods: Growl finishes out its KU period in February I’ll release the Esposito County Shifters box sex on all platforms with Howl, Snarl, Growl, Claw, and Roar. Which reminds me, I got a very nice 4 star review for Growl last week and the reviewer didn’t understand why different sites had different numbering schemes. I had to explain that I’m not J.R. Ward and can’t mix MF stories with MM stories in a series and get consistent read-through (seriously, the moment I took out Roar and made it an associated novella my sales increased. Go figure).

To which the reviewer said, “Well, just so you know, I’ll read all kinds of combinations in a series.” Which warms my heart.

I also just remembered that I have to start designing the ECS box set cover. Must take a look at other paranormal romance box sets and see what’s currently in vogue, tra la.

Executive Function or Spoons? You Decide

It is currently 11:41 PM and I have just finished a massive session of baking where I made 60 Italian Christmas cookies (we love them all year round) and a promised fruitcake for a friend. In between mixing, rolling, and baking I washed a lot of dishes (couldn’t put them in the dishwasher because I knew I’d need them almost immediately) while keeping an ear on the washing machine and dryer to keep the laundry trundling through.

Before that, I wrote 2200 words on Shifter Woods: Claw. Before that, I completed a motif of the quilt I’m making. Before that, I went to the store and got fried chicken and fixings for dinner as well as a couple of other things we needed.

And before that was the event that triggered all of this can do energy. I took my aunt’s fruitcake to the post office and mailed it.

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make sense to normal people. But I’ve been going back and forth about making this fruitcake for a number of reasons, and apparently being stuck on the fence about making this fruitcake had royally gummed up the executive function I need to do other things.

So last night I said screw it, mixed up the fruitcake and baked it, then packaged it up this morning and sent it off to the PO. And boom—suddenly I had all the executive function I needed and powered through a day’s worth of writing, sewing, baking, and cleaning.

My brain is a weird, weird place. But at least my aunt will have her fruitcake on Thursday and I have a clean kitchen, a bunch of my favorite cookies, a chunk of wordage done on Claw, and clean bedding for the Ancient One.

I’m calling that a win.

Powering Through

It’s not always easy to write. Sometimes I sit down at the keyboard and the words don’t want to come. It’s not so much writer’s block as it is writer’s distraction—it can be hard as hell for me to focus on the story and add words. This usually happens because I’ve lost interest in the story for various reasons and I have to find something that’s going to catch my attention and hook me back in. Because if the writer isn’t interested in the story you can damn well guarantee that the reader isn’t going to be interested, either.

I think I ran into this with Shifter Woods: Claw because the story was pouring out of me at first, up until the point where I realized that if I went with the plot I had outlined I would need to turn it into a novel, not a novella, and Nic doesn’t have time for that. So I cut a fair amount of complexity out of the FMC, which reduced my interest in her to the point where I didn’t want to finish the story.

Not good. I clearly need to put some of that complexity back, even if it means I nudge into the 40K realm. I like Angela—she’s funny, smart, tired, lonely, and just wanted to catch a break for once. When she met a successful realtor in Chicago she thought she’d finally found someone nice … until she realized what his end game was, forcing her to run for her life. Now that she’s in MacComber she’s striking some lovely sparks off of Matt and I fully believe this is going to turn into a fun, hot story.

Maybe I need to come up with a steamier soundtrack for it (yes, I build a soundtrack for all of my stories). Using songs from Twister should act as a nice base…

Write or Take Down the Christmas Tree? Decisions…

Well, it’s not really a decision—I’m taking down the Christmas tree as soon as Ramón heads off to gaming (it’s easier to do it by myself because I have a system for where everything goes, and I can have him cart everything out to the garage and vacuum the downstairs when he gets back).

But after that I’m torn between getting stuck into Shifter Woods: Claw or doing some more quilting. My goal with 2023 is to take the weekends off and do things like cleaning, crafting, and relaxing. Buuuut—I just finished fixing the issue with the first five chapters yesterday evening (why oh why do I insist on making things more complex than they have to be?) and I kinda want to get back into it while the Muse is still stumbling around sloshing her mojito on the furniture and muttering to herself about American politics.

Must have some breakfast (no, I haven’t eaten yet—I got up and immediately had to clean up after the incontinent 21-year-old cat, then give him a bath because he was howling for one) and muse over this one a bit. I could work for a while on Claw, then take a break and put together a square. Hmm…

Oh, and happy Orthodox Christmas to all who celebrate!

It’s only January 6th, so why do I feel like a slacker?

Claw is recovering from the shellacking I gave it (the complications I added to the plot would have worked wonderfully for a novel. Not so much for a novella) and should be ready for release Real Soon Now (the editor is already tapping her fingers and asking when she can expect it).

Unfortunately I made the mistake of reading other authors’ newsletters and watching the trailer for A Pale Blue Eye last night. Now my Inner Taskmistress is screaming at me, “Why aren’t you selling more books? Why isn’t anyone optioning YOUR work? Is your thumb permanently embedded in your ass or are you actually going to earn some damn money this year?”

People think that working for yourself must be great. Not so much, especially when your Inner Taskmistress can be an utter bitch. I always feel that there’s more I can be doing, should be doing, and if I don’t do that I’m a lazy slut who deserves to spend her golden years in a cardboard box under a bridge. And I know that’s a stupid mindset to have but it’s a hard one to shake.

Anyway, I’d better wrap this up and get to work. I need to write a lot of words today if I want to be able to spend the weekend taking down the Christmas decorations and cleaning, whee…

Getting a Grip on Things

So yesterday I outlined what I need to change in the first five chapters of Shifter Woods: Claw and implemented the Chapter One changes. Ideally I’ll get the other four chapters updated today, then proceed to finish the last five chapters, edit everything, and release this mother and the ECS omnibus.

Which will be 1) a frigging relief and 2) my first completed series. Apparently a LOT of romance readers don’t want to start a series unless it’s completed so I’m hoping that the omnibus will bring in additional sales, not to mention attention to my other paranormal romances. I also need to plan how I want to promote the omnibus—I think I’m going to go with FB ads for it since I’m already promoting Shifter Woods: Howl in AMS. I’ll be taking the Facebook Ads Expedition class with Mark Dawson next week so hopefully I’ll pick up some instruction on how to make my FB ads more effective.

Once Claw is done, it’s time to go back to Crystal Blade and get that puppy finished and out by the end of January, then I’ll be double-teaming Crystal Reflection and High Tide (Olympic Cove 5). One way or the other, I am getting up to twenty full-length books published by the end of this year. Who needs sleep, right?