Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Spring is Winding Tighter

As I work on the last couple of chapters for Shifter Woods: Claw I keep thinking about plot elements for Olympic Cove, or Hidden Empire, or Two Thrones, or Paladins of Crystal. It’s not exactly distracting me, but I keep getting flashes of sending my main trio in High Tide (Olympic Cove Book 5) to New Orleans as part of a deal to get one of them home … only to find out that the NOLA trip complicates things even more. Or how the main couple in To Love a Wild Swan (Hidden Empire Book 3) are going to have an enemies to lovers romance, or how the MMC in Mage of Fire (Two Thrones Book 5) has to convince a prim librarian to help him find a hidden book of magic, only to have to kidnap her in order to keep her alive. What I’ve got cooking in my back brain for Paladins of Crystal is way too involved to get into here.

Clearly I really need to get this damn novella done so that I can go back to work on my series before they start leaking out of my ears.

I am a Sad Little Potato

I’m not sure what’s going on but I feel like absolute crap today. Hot, exhausted, and in no shape to cook or do anything much. In fact, I feel a lot like Charles Darwin did in the quote at right. Pollen is a strong suspect—the mountain cedar count for DFW is hellish at the moment and my car looks like it hasn’t been driven for months, the dust is so thick on it.

Ramón suggested that I go take a nap but I wasn’t able to get any reasonable sleep. So I got back up and somehow hammered out a thousand words on Claw. Because even though I feel like a sad little potato right now, I have work to do and I can accomplish it if I nail my ass to the chair and remind myself that everything can be fixed in the edit.

Hopefully we’ll get some rain soon and wash some of this crap out of the air. In the meantime, I’ve got work to do.

My Brain Hates Me At Times

I say that because I started 2023 with a very clear plan of what I wanted to achieve this year—finish the Paladins of Crystal series, finish the Olympic Cove series, and write at least one additional book for Hidden Empire and Two Thrones.

So what am I doing? I’m still working on Shifter Woods: Claw, the novella no one asked for but my OCD brain said was necessary to finish out the Esposito County Shifters series since I had to move Shifter Woods: Roar to the end as an associated novella. And until I finish that novella, I literally cannot work on anything else—I tried working on Crystal Blade and sat there staring at the screen for an hour.

I swear to God, my Muse likes to fuck with me purely for shits and giggles. So, new goal: finish Claw by the end of Monday, come hell or high water. I only have maybe 14K to go. I can DO that in four days without breaking a sweat, I know I can. And if you see me on social media between now and Monday night, ask me pointedly how Claw is coming along, please.

And now, I must brush my teeth, apply deodorant, and do battle with the keyboard. Selah.

First Work Day of 2023

And I woke up with the cold realization that I was heading down … well, not necessarily the wrong road with Shifter Woods: Claw, but a road that would require it to be a full length novel instead of a novella.

Yeah, no. Which means today will be going back into the existing half and tearing it to shreds to fit the new beginning. Annoying because it’s gonna take up the bulk of today’s writing time but it’s necessary. Once I have that fixed, I’m going to switch over to Crystal Blade and knock out my daily word count for that, then spend the rest of the work day designing my Patreon (which I’m going to launch on 1/15/23) and roughing out the short story that I’ll be writing for January’s offering.

The nice thing about my plans of writing an exclusive short story that only patrons can read is that at the end of the year I’ll have twelve short stories that I can compile into a collection and publish. Of course, that means that I have to write one short story a month (two this month, really, so that I can have February’s ready to go by 2/1/23). But if I want to make a five figure year, this is the way to do it.

The J Crew won’t like being locked out of my office again, but as long as they have the bedroom in which to lounge they’ll live.

All By Myself…

The title of this post, by the way, is an occurrence that requires a certain amount of planning in my life. I either have to leave the house or go into my office or bedroom, make sure that the room is cat-free, then close the door. Frex, as I type this downstairs while taking a break from making a batch of Holiday Leftover Chelsea Buns (truly the best way to use up leftover turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, thank you Paul Hollywood), I have a large orange cat sitting on my left doing his absolute best to use my wrist as a headrest.

Sorry, Jeremy. You can rest your head later. Right now, Mommy needs to blog.

Solitude is probably one of the greatest boons a writer can get, and one of the most difficult to obtain. If you have a spouse, kids, pets, parents who live with you, or other individuals who want a claim on your time, it can be hard to find a gentle way to tell them to bugger off, you’re working. It’s even harder when the individual thinks you’re just goofing off with this whole writing hobby and should be spending more time with them (glares balefully at the J Crew).

A good friend of mine who’s also a writer has an elderly parent living with her and the parent wants Friend to be surgically attached to their side at all times. Driving to various appointments, watching TV shows that Friend is not interested in, making meals and cleaning up, basically turning Friend into a satellite around their parental self. I know this sounds horrible but if that was me I would either be screaming regularly or gulping handfuls of Valium.

Which just makes me that much more grateful for Ramón. When I fixed the lock on my office door a few weeks ago and started using it while writing (mainly to keep the cats out) I was worried that Ramón might be hurt that I was locking him out as well.

When I asked him about it, he gave me a quizzical look and said, “Petal, I figure if you’re in your office and the door is locked, you’re hip deep in a story and don’t want to be bothered. Usually when I come in to talk to you I just want to vent about what’s happening at work or give you a drive-by kiss. I can always do that later once you’re finished. If it’s something really important, like the house is on fire, don’t worry—I’ll knock.”

This is one of the many, many reasons why we are going on our thirtieth year of marriage, by the way.

I think what I’m trying to say here is, if you live with or know a writer, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is alone time. Cook dinner, take care of the kids, watch TV by yourself, and give them an hour or two to bang on the keyboard in peace.

Unlike Jeremy, who is bound and determined for me to act as headrest. Fine, come here, you big lug…

Thoughts on Christmas Eve

As many authors know, December isn’t the best month for books sales. Some people do very well, yes, but on the whole our sales tend to take a downturn this month. Those who have been in the game long enough know this, plan for it, and don’t panic when sales slow down remarkably the week before Christmas.

As for why sales slow down, it’s pretty understandable—we have a number of major holidays in December which involve traveling, lots of food, and gift-giving. All of this requires money, so people have to budget for their particular holiday and all the accoutrements that come with it. When that happens, book buying falls by the wayside (except for Iceland, where the gifting of books on Christmas Eve is a tradition that is prompting me to learn Icelandic so that I can retire there. But I digress).

So as I spend today cleaning, cooking, and putting up last-minute decorations, I’m not fussing about the drop in sales. It’ll pick up in January, or maybe as early as next week once people get gift cards or cash for Christmas. That being said, it occurred to me that a possible reason for drooping sales in genres that are primarily read by women could also be due to the fact that we’re running around like scalded cats trying to get everything ready for the holidays.

We’re tired. After days of cleaning the house (and in my case the garage so that I could park the car there during Winter Storm Elliott), wrangling the family and pets, baking treats, prepping and cooking the actual holiday dinner, and trying to make everyone’s Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/Saturnalia/Festivus/Add Holiday Here a wonderful experience, we’re wiped. We’re too tired to read, too tired to buy books even if we have the spare cash to do so, and all we really want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for a couple of days.

Speaking of that, I have to finish putting up the rest of the living room decorations, then make a batch of cookies, then get started on Christmas Eve dinner. I hope everyone out there has a wonderful holiday, and I’ll talk to you again once I manage to dredge up some energy.

NaNoWriMo Day Three

Today’s Word Count: 3,052
Total Word Count: 7,677
Words to Go: 42,323

Actually made my personal word quota today, which was nice. Also got a bit more into the Harvest Ball scene where someone makes a dangerous proposal to Crystal which starts all the rocks rolling downhill, muwahahahaha. Plus I got some more work done on Shifter Woods: Growl (I figure I’ll flip back and forth between the two books in case I get stuck on one).

That being said, today was one of the days where it really felt like pulling teeth to get the words out. I banged out the first K pretty easily, but after that I had so many things pulling at me that it was hard to get back into the flow of things. Now, this is my job so I have to ignore those things and get the words written regardless, but I’ve definitely had easier days. I think it would help if my sales would pick up a bit, but for some reason people keep checking out my books on KU, reading a page or two, then checking them back in. And yeah, I know that’s the whole purpose of KU, so that people can try out a book and return it if they don’t like it, but I’m not used to this level of, “Eh … no” from readers.

I wish I could write dark romance. That’s extremely popular at the moment. But I can’t write about something that doesn’t personally turn me on and bully/mean/nonconsensual/dubcon heroes make me want to smack them. Give me a cinnamon roll hero and a competent heroine any day.

NaNoWriMo Day Two

Today’s Word Count: 1,625
Total Word Count: 4,625
Words to Go: 45,375

The goal was to get 3K words down on the story, but I don’t know if I’m going to make that. I am … I don’t know. Tired, pissed, not in a good headspace to write. Part of it  (and this sounds so petty and childish, I know) is due to the fact that JJ is still peeing in his bed. He had a UTI last week, got antibiotics for it, and is definitely feeling much better, but the bedwetting is actually a new symptom that could be related to his urinary tract being irritated or the fact that he’s 21 and well into kitty dementia. Either way it means I have to wash his bed and the cushions it sits on daily because for some reason he always manages to get beyond the pee pad I place under the bed. And the house has a definite odor as a result.

I’m doing my best to stay on top of it and wash everything as necessary, and he will get up and go over to pee on the pee pads in front of the boxes (if they’re clean enough he’ll climb in and pee there, but they have to be immaculate and with four other cats in the house that’s not usually the case). But he still wets his bed regularly which has added significantly to my laundry load.

And then there’s the fact that my Amazon ads aren’t getting a lot of impressions and I’m not sure why, but the result is I’m not getting a lot of KU borrows. Which means I’ll have to go in and tweak the most successful ads and see if I can get Amazon to promote them more. And I have to finish setting up my online bank account because they’ve just rejiggered everything and somehow my login credentials got blown away in the process. And I have to wait for the nurse at the gastroenterologist’s office to call me and schedule my colonoscopy (nothing’s wrong, I do a preventative check every five years). And I have to start prepping for the trip to Vegas for 20Booksto50K™ 2022 in a week and a half, and I still have to switch our two cell phone accounts into one, and cancel the cable, and look around for some contract work to cover the rising costs of *waves at the world*, and worry about the upcoming midterms, and and and.

I would very much like a break where I don’t have to take care of anything, make any decisions, or worry about how things are going to be paid for. But as that’s not likely to happen any time soon, I shall keep calm and carry on. Maybe I can knock out that last 1.5K after treadmill time.

NaNoWriMo Day One, and Julie Powell

Today’s Word Count: 2,042
Total Word Count: 2,042
Words to Go: 47,958

Today’s blog post was supposed to be about how today was the first day of NaNoWriMo 2022 and why I was using it to finish Crystal Blade (Paladins of Crystal 2). Mainly, it’s a good excuse to nail my ass to  a chair long enough to finish a book, especially one that already has about 20,000 words. And I’m proud of my word count for the day—didn’t make the 3K I was aiming for but I’m also taking time out to make dinner and write this entry so I still may add another K once all that’s done.

But then I read about Julie Powell. For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, she was the brash, hilarious writer who started a blog called The Julie/Julia Project in 2002, with the goal of cooking all the dishes in the first volume of Julia Child’s Mastering the Fine Art of French Cooking. And in a tiny apartment in Long Island with the assistance of her husband Eric, she did just that, blogging about her efforts at Salon.

Much to Powell’s surprise the blog went viral, spawned a book, and later became the basis for the movie Julie & Julia (Nora Ephron’s last film) starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. All of this allowed Powell to quit her job as a secretary in Manhattan and become a full time writer. Her second book, Cleaving, followed her desire to train as a butcher offset with the ups and downs of her marriage. It wasn’t as popular as Julie & Julia but I thought it was the better book.

Today I found out she died on October 26 from cardiac arrest. She was 49, an age that seems impossibly young and wrong for that kind of death. And while my heart goes out to her husband, family and friends, I’m also a little (well, more than a little) freaked out that someone of my generation and with a similar background and occupation died so young. It’s a cold reminder that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, and you need to tell the people in your life that you love them and work on making your dreams come true now instead of thinking, “Well, someday…”

So I’m going to work on this book because it’s part of my dreams. And I think I’ll dedicate it to Julie, another sarcastic secretary who made good.

Just looked at the last post

And laughed heartily. Needless to say, Crystal Blade isn’t out yet, and neither is Shifter Woods: Growl. I shouldn’t even talk about books anymore until they’re done and off to the editor because every time I do I jinx myself and something pops up to delay everything.

In this case, it was a twofold issue — in mid-August I got some extremely bad news about a friend’s health. I had promised to make this friend a queen-sized quilt and after she told our friend group about what was going on she pinged me and said, “So, about that quilt…”

Needless to say I replied, “On it,” and spent the next week or so frantically sewing together a queen quilt top. She’d given me the fabric years ago and requested a Día de los Muertos quilt so that’s what I made. The skulls are on the backing fabric; the top features these gorgeous Virgin Mary panels offset with colorful nine patch squares bordered with a bright striped fabric and edged on the outer borders with a Frida Kahlo fabric.

So once I got that done and off to the quilt shop so that it could be quilted (I don’t have a long arm machine and can’t quilt anything larger than a twin) it was suddenly September and I remembered, oops, I have a story due to F*ck the Patriarchy: Getting Smutty for a Cause. So for the last few weeks I’ve been finishing that—it’s a novella called, “A Theory of Crystal” and it’s set in the Paladins of Crystal universe so theoretically I AM working on the right series.

Oh, and then there was the followup knee surgeon visit, the PT visit, the dental cleaning, the periodontist’s visit, trying to dig out this house from all the crap that’s collected over the summer when it was too hot to clean, yadda yadda yadda. So, yeah, I’ve been busy.

But hey, at least you got to see some pretty quilt pictures. So that’s something!