Category Archives: Conventions
NaNoWriMo Day 14-23 (AKA I am a slacker)
Today’s Word Count: 440
Total Word Count: 36,505
Words to Go: 13,495
This is a tale of delayed gratification, long-held projects finally getting finished and started, and my NaNoWriMo word count.
So, first off—Vegas.
I didn’t go. That flight delay seems to have been divine intervention because by the time we were supposed to leave for the airport I felt dreadful and was hacking up a lung. Since I didn’t think any of the 20Booksto50K® attendees would appreciate me being there with some kind of respiratory infection I reluctantly stayed home. Felt fine by Wednesday, go figure.
Bally’s, by the way, was exceptionally kind about cancelling my room reservation so kudos to them. American … was a different story. We’ll leave it at that. And five days after 20Bt50K 2022 ended I’m hearing stories of a lot of people who came home with COVID and other respiratory junk (the hotel is renovating and tore up a lot of carpets which released all kind of schmutz into the air) so I’m going to think of my 3-day bug as a blessing in disguise.
But since I did have that weekend blocked off to write as well as attend a buttload of panels and learn lots of useful stuff, I finished Shifter Woods: Growl. Cue the triumphant march music. And yes, I know I was supposed to be working on Crystal Blade but this damned novella has been hanging over my head since 2018 and I just wanted it done and out the door. I decided to let it simmer over the weekend while I worked on Blade (and started sewing a quilt for one of my nieces who never got a baby quilt due to another project gumming up the production schedule), edit it Mon-Wed, send it off to the editor and the betas, finish the final polish on Monday and release it this upcoming Tuesday.
Silly me, I forgot that I’m not just a writer. I’m also a hospice nurse to an elderly, demented, and incontinent cat, not to mention the four other cats who also want my attention and a husband who would like to speak with me on occasion. So as of right now I’m halfway through Chapter Six of ten and have no idea if I’ll finish the editing tonight because I also have to make dinner, prep cucumber salad for tomorrow, prep the mountain of Brussels sprouts that will be divided between our dinner at my friend C’s and our mini T-Day dinner, and make the key lime pie that I wanted for dessert. And considering that I’d forgotten the light sour cream and sweetened condensed milk that I need for the pie and just braved the Thanksgiving Eve crowds at Walmart to pick it up, I’m gonna make the damned thing.
In between trying to figure out what JJ needs now, of course (bedding change? Fresh water? Treats?) and making my NaNo word count. Did I mention that I was also supposed to clean the front rooms so that we could put the tree up on Friday and finish fixing the slab of pavement in front of our house on Sunday? Ha. Hahahahahahaha…
People keep telling me that my list of chores exhausts them. I keep thinking, “Yeah, if I was really that busy I’d have 50 finished books, my house would be immaculate, and I’d be a size 2.”
NaNoWriMo Day Ten Through Thirteen
Today’s Word Count: 6,495
Total Word Count: 22,083
Words to Go: 27,917
Yeah, well, I was kinda busy all week getting stuff put together for the trip to Vegas, doing mounds of laundry (it doesn’t help that JJ has taken to peeing on his bedding which requires daily changes now), trying to find a place to get my hair cut (ho ho ho, yeah no. I’ll get it done in Vegas), paying bills, actually getting all of my words in, and finishing a jacket for RAVE on Friday.
I actually should be at the airport right now, in fact, boarding my plane. Instead, the flight was delayed from 6:01 PM to 10:00 PM so I have time to do a blog post. Aren’t you lucky?
In writing news, Crystal Blade is really hitting its groove and Crystal has found out some rather shocking news about her fathers, heh, heh, heh. But that sets the stage for her finally jumping her lovely paladins so that’s all good. It’ll be interesting to see just how much work I get done while I’m in Vegas—I’m hoping for a lot, but, well, Vegas. We’ll see.
I like it when months begin on a Monday—it feels orderly, somehow. And this is going to be a very busy first week of August pour moi.
1) I have to get ready for Armadillocon this weekend, which means researching the panels I’m on and making sure I have something intelligent to say on panel. It also means I need to get the car tuned up before Ramón and I drive down to Austin. (Don’t worry, our regular cat sitter will be staying here to wait on the J Crew hand and foot as always). I’ll be wearing my SF Writer hat this weekend and talking about TikTok, newsletters, and religion and nationalism in SFF.
2) I have to get Crystal Blade finished this week, and I’d really like to get Shifter Woods: Growl done and published to Amazon as well, seeing as it’s 75% done and I could get it wrapped up with a couple of good days.
3) I have to call up three companies and either cancel certain services or switch to a less expensive plan, plus I have to schedule the HVAC company to come back and install a float valve in the attic. So much fun.
4) I need to keep monitoring the currently running Amazon ads and add some more for the books that I didn’t get to last month. Seriously, I am so glad I took Bryan Cohen’s Author Ad Profit Challenge. It made a huge difference in my July sales, and I can’t wait to see how I do in August.
BOY, it’s been a busy two months
When last I left you, my friends, I was prepping for my sister’s arrival (aka frantically trying to make the house not look like a heavy metal band had been camping here for the last six months) and getting started on TikTok. I’m happy to say that the house was indeed cleaned, the visit was lovely, and she’s coming back with her husband in two weeks. Which is good because I need the time to re-clean this place–granted, it’s not nearly as bad as it was in September, but I got some contract work this month and went to Vegas for a week (more on that later) so some of the housekeeping kinda slid by the wayside.
As for TikTok, that’s turned out to be an immense amount of fun — I’m coming up with skits I want to do, I made it over a thousand followers so I can now put a URL on my profile page that links to all of my books, and generally it’s a good outlet for being the goof that I am. It also gave me a good reason to buy a new tiara (there’s a Thing on BookTok where if you’re a romance writer you wear a tiara while you do your videos. Far be it from me to say no to wearing a crown).
And that extra tiara (I now have three) came in handy when I went to Vegas for 20Booksto50k® 2021, which is a faboo conference for indie authors and publishers. In the space of five days I learned SO MUCH both about the craft of writing and the business of being an indie author — marketing, ads, stacking promos, how to construct a book launch properly, bookkeeping, starting LLCs and similar companies, everything from soup to nuts. I came back thoroughly pumped, started adding A+ content to all of my Amazon books, tweaked blurbs and ads, and rewatched videos of panels to get deeper into the best way to construct Amazon and FB ads.
Oh, and I’m doing NaNoWriMo, too, because I’m a masochist who doesn’t know when to say no. Right now I’m up to 35,085 words on Crystal Shard (ooh — did I mention that I’m doing a rapid release Reverse Harem series next year? I’m doing a rapid release RH series next year) as well as finishing The Crimson and the Black (and man, did I get some insights into that book while in Vegas). Right now it looks like Crimson will be coming out mid-January, and Crystal Shard will be coming out mid-March with the next four books in the series following in April, May, June, and July. Oh, and I’m also working on Mage of Fire (Two Thrones 5), release date TBD.
Yeah, definitely a masochist. But at least I’m having fun.
Bogged Down in Tax Prep
It’s that time of year again when I haul out all the receipts I’ve compulsively saved and start wading through them to find the numbers necessary for the accountant (yes, we have an accountant, first because Ramón was a 1099 contractor and I wanted a pro to help us with deductions, and now because I have the multiple income streams of a creative worker and I need a pro to make sense of them to the IRS). I know this would all be much faster and easier if I regularly entered everything in spreadsheets, but I find going through the receipts to be oddly soothing.
Prepping Ramón’s numbers is pretty straightforward — he works from home so I have to go through and tot up all the utilities for the house so that the accountant can work out the deduction for the dedicated home office. Then it’s my turn. Turns out I didn’t sell that much jewelry last year (not surprising), but I did spend a hellacious fortune on business expenses, mainly travel (also unsurprising, seeing as I attended Wild Wicked Weekend, RT in Vegas, Evernight’s writer retreat in Ontario, and did a research trip to the Atlantic coast of Florida). At least now I know where all the money from Empress of Storms went. And my accountant will be happy because I have all of these legitimate expenses backed up with paper.
That being said, I’m going to seriously rein in the travel this year, mainly because both my laptop and my desktop are on the way out and I need to replace them ASAP with what I make from royalties. So no RT for me this year, and I probably won’t do RWA either which is a bit disappointing but oh, well. On the other hand, if I write my ass off and put out another Two Thrones and two more Pacifica Rising books this year, plus the standalones that are patiently waiting for me to finish them, I should be able to buy the computer equipment I need this year, and go to RT and RWA next year.
Speaking of that, once I get all the papers off to the accountant on Monday I will be spending most of next week outlining Pacifica Rising 2 and Two Thrones 3 (try saying that three times fast). I still don’t have a really solid idea about PR2 apart from the fact that the main romantic focus will remain on Evie and Ben while a rogue bodyguard from the Denali Protectorate shows up and makes Rob’s life difficult, but TT3 is going to feature a Hellan tournament to celebrate Danaë’s pregnancy (thank you, Medieval Times, for giving me the idea) during which an unexpected rival from Matthias’s past resurfaces and complicates things. Oh, and we’ll get to meet the Grand High Magister Aeris, Epilonious, who has decided to take young Luna under his wing and drive her grandfather and step-grandmother absolutely batty in the process. Fun times!
It’s time to pull on my Big Writer Panties
Degree of Resistance has now been out for a shade over a week, and the bulk of my wonderful ARC readers have left reviews (thank you all, *mwah*). I have requests out to a slew of reviewers, advertising going on at various locations, and I’m in the process of getting my media pack out to various bloggers who are kind enough to host my stuff.
And so far … yeah, the sales are perhaps a touch disappointing. The folks who have read the book so far say it’s hella good (and these people have no reason to blow smoke up my ass. If I’d produced something crappy, they would’ve told me). So what that confirms is that my marketing plan is not optimal and I have to come up with a better method of getting Evie and Ben’s story out in front of readers who love smokin’ cyborg romance.
To that end, the lovely and talented Cecilia Tan (my first editor and now my cherished colleague) was kind enough to spend an hour on Skype with me on Thursday going over various battle plans and ways to promote DoR. Some of them, I must admit, had simply never occurred to me but seem obvious in retrospect (e.g. find ways to write blogs posts that will appeal to girl geek-slanted publications such as The Daily Dot and io9, since a significant proportion of my SFR-loving readers will be found there). Others will require careful use of SEO terms to boost exposure, creative use of graphics, or just plain throwing money at the problem. As I am a poor but honest writer who is still paying off the costs of Wild Wicked Weekend (Tl;dr I had a frigging ball and sold more books than last year) I’m hoping to keep this last method down to a minimum, at least until the end of the month. I still want to try submitting Empress of Storms to BookBub, but I need to save up for that as well, plus I have to wait until I’m past the 90 day limit on sales prices (since it was on sale along with Palace of Scoundrels in December, that should take effect later this month).
So goes the life of a modern hybrid author. Still the best job I’ve ever had, though.
Author swag, promo, and wine — oh, my!
So I’m running around like the proverbial headless chicken trying to get my gift basket and author swag for Wild Wicked Weekend put together, and I like how things are shaping up. The gift basket will have a tiara, three–count them, three–bottles of wine, both Two Thrones books and Degree of Resistance (CreateSpace worked a miracle and the print copies should arrive the morning I leave for San Antonio), some lovely chocolates from World Market, Belgian hazelnut cookies, a VISA gift card, a Burt’s Bees care package, and a purse-sized lint roller and bottle of hand sanitizer for purposes of practicality. If you’re coming to San Antonio next weekend, make sure you bid on my basket — it’s going to be awesome. Also, come find me at the group signing and get me to personalize your books.
I’m also busy doing promo on Facebook and Twitter for Degree of Resistance, (THREE MORE DAYS, PEOPLE! Get your copy at 99¢ while you still can!) and I came close to disaster a few times. See, in order to have the ad graphic appear instead of the graphic link to Amazon I have to upload the ad first, then paste in the text with the Amazon link. The link is still active, but that way I get to choose what graphic gets used in the post.
Under normal circumstances this little dance works splendidly, except that my graphic is only one of two graphics on my desktop at the moment and I almost posted a picture of Louis Herthum a couple of times. Which wouldn’t be bad, mind you, especially since he provided so much inspiration for this book. But it’s rude to involve people in your PR without their permission.
That being said — damn, he’s cute.
The State of the Writer
As of an hour ago I finished the Weasel Word edit on Degree of Resistance. I am going to do a final read through this morning (what I refer to as the gloss pass), then compile the file for Amazon and upload. As of tomorrow it’s pretty much locked in place, so all I have to do then generate the ARC copies for my advance readers and focus on advertising, whee! I have to admit I am very pumped about this book — all of my betas have been very positive about it, and one even said it’s the best thing I’ve written to date. I also realized that it’s my seventh full-length novel, which is kinda cool now that I think about it. I Are A Writer!
Getting the ebook locked in also means I can get this place clean before heading down to San Antonio next week for Wild Wicked Weekend. I’ll have print copies of Empress of Storms and Palace of Scoundrels available — I was hoping to have copies of Degree as well, but I don’t think I can get them shipped in time, boo!
By the by, we’re having a release day party on Facebook starting at 7:00 PM CST, and among other things I’ll be giving away a brand-new Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet with 32GB of memory, as well as Amazon and Starbucks GCs and custom jewelry, so make sure you stop by for the festivities.
And She Returns…
My goodness, I haven’t posted anything since before RT, have I? Bad romance writer, NO new MacBook Pro!
No, seriously, no new MacBook Pro. I was going to buy one this weekend with my royalties because my existing laptop is 1) over eight years old and 2) was a refurb when I bought it, but as it turns out I need to use my income for other writing-related expenses — namely, a cover (more about that later), sponsorship and attendance for Wild Wicked Weekend, and to pay off my half of an upcoming trip.
So the new laptop will have to wait another month. Which sort of sucks, but that’s adulting for you.
Anyway, back to RT — I decided to drive from Dallas to Vegas instead of flying because I was in the mood for a roadtrip (and er, I had a lot of shit to bring). Said road trip was gorgeous, and I learned that it is geographically noticeable when you cross from Texas into New Mexico and New Mexico into Arizona. At the TX/NM border the landscape immediately changes from flat plains to gorgeously colored mesas, and at the NM/AZ border it immediately turns into scrubby desert with the occasional mountain until you get to Flagstaff, at which point you’re definitely in the mountains. Lovely, and I’d like to do it again with Ramón if possible.
Vegas itself is the neon-lit adult funland that it’s always been, so no real news there. The Rio was perfectly serviceable as a hotel, although I did hear that the route from the hotel rooms to the conference area was referred to as “the Hallway of Doom” due to its distance. Let’s just say that I hit 10K steps on four different days and leave it at that. Much fun was had with the lovely LD Blakeley as my roommate, and we attended some nifty panels, hung out with great folks like Kenna Nauenberg and Alex Gordon, and of course attended the amazing Cirque du Punk party on Friday night.
Kenna, LD, and myself. I was yelping, “I have a waist, I have a waist!” when LD was lacing me up.
Lady Amphitrite before the nails and corset went on, because those were saved for last, you betcha.
Two erotic romance writers loose in Vegas. I’m surprised we didn’t get into more trouble.
Competing in the CdP costume contest (picture courtesy of Michael Patrick Gleason). I cannot adequately express how much I love this costume.
The other big event of RT for me was the Book Fair on Saturday. I didn’t sell a lot, but I did get to see sights like this:
My life is so hard.
Sunday was spent tidying up, trying to get everything packed (or in LD’s case cursing UPS for their extortionate charges to ship stuff to Canada), and hanging out with fellow Evernight author Khloe Wren and awesome cover model Michael Gleason:
After this LD and I looked at each other, said, “Let’s get out of the hotel for a bit,” and went for a cruise up and down the Las Vegas strip during which we spotted many crimes against good taste, what we suspect is a genuine murder hotel, and a gigantic and truly scary gift shop.
The next day I dropped LD off at the airport and headed home (including a white-knuckle drive during a severe thunderstorm in the Texas Panhandle) to get back to work on all the WIPs I need to finish toot sweet. I also tried to finish a short story for Evernight’s Dark Captive anthology, but the damn thing blew up on me and turned into a short novel. So, um, yeah, look for Do No Harm this summer from Belaurient Press!
In other publishing news, I sold the German language translation of Trickster to Me and the Muse Publishing in Germany, I’m currently waiting on a decision from Juno Publishing in France as to whether they want to publish Empress of Storms in French, and a very good friend of mine will be releasing a hot and hilarious new M/M erotic novelette on Tuesday which I will be helping out with on promo (trust me, you want to read this). The current work queue includes (counts on fingers) Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4), Behind the Iron Cross, Prince of Scoundrels (Two Thrones #2), Do No Harm, and Trickster: All In. That should be enough to keep me going for a couple of months, don’t you think?
Mermaid crown progress pics
It’s official — I love Worbla thermoplastic because this shit is da BOMB. I deliberately wanted the crown to look a bit rough and organic (twisted spines between the fins, etc.) so I didn’t worry too much about smoothing out the surface apart from a layer of wood glue. If you do want a smooth surface you can use wood glue, gesso, or air-drying clay (NOT SCULPEY — you bake this and the entire thing will melt), or apply some craft foam instead. Tried it on and loved it. Loved it even more when I put on a layer of gold paint in the garage and it looked like gold foil. Yay!
If there’s another costume event next year, I’m going as Lady Amphitrite again, but I’m going in her battle gear. Hee, hee, hee…