On writing and parenthood and change

What is it about writing that seems to make it different from other arts. Or, maybe, it’s not so different. If a song writer goes even two weeks without putting words to the page, does the spirit or “muse” or whatever you would like to call it, begin to fade? That’s how it is with me and, judging from numerous interviews I’ve read with some very famous authors, that seems to be the case. You need to write every day to keep the words coming, or else they dry up and leave you and are difficult to find again.

I’ve found in my relatively few years writing novels that to go without writing, even for, say, two weeks, will put quite a crimp in my ability to then re-start the engine and get going again when  I finally do sit down to write.

It’s especially difficult to end a project, such as my recent work, Rogue Blood, and to begin a new one, Gio. Of course, I already have the opening and a few extra scenes for Gio written. This is actually worse! Now I have to re-read what I wrote, probably more than a month ago, and get back inside this book, this universe, these characters’ heads. Not such a simple task, I assure you.

Beginning a new book is always an exciting time. It means that you’ve completed a book, for one. It also means it’s time to start something new–very exciting! And yet, it’s always very slow going that entire first act. Always. I don’t know how to make the words start to fly away at my finger tips. I just don’t. Maybe I never will be able to. We shall see. Give me a few years, then I’ll have this post to look back on and compare.

And it’s not that my opening isn’t fast-paced and excellent. Open any of my books, namely Jace, The Loneliest Alpha, Rogue Blood, Take Me, The Fallen King, Ties That Bind, Tempting Gray, and so on, and you’ll find some amazing openers. After all, this is what makes a reader want to continue reading my book, so my beginnings are often explosive with emotion/humor/intrigue/violence, whatever it takes! And yet, still, writing the entire first act is this tentative runway walk on eggshells. Every single time.

I was supposed to get writing done Monday, but because of baby things and a job thing with my husband, I got zero out of my minimum daily requirement done. Tuesday was hardly any better. I wrote about 1,000 words. Yikes! I had to clean up and re-write the beginning of my book. It was like reading something almost alien to me, since I’d written those words at least a month ago. It’s like trying to fit back into a suit that you’re too fat for, trying to squeeze and push yourself in all the right places until you feel that certain “click”. The, ah-ha, moment of comfort comes, of relaxation.

“Now I know where I am.” I think I did finally find that point, but by then I’m starving and it’s dinner time, so I have to stop. I have a family to feed. Do I get to go back to writing after I eat? Nope. Not even close. Baby gets tired at 8. He needs me to put him to sleep and stay very close by. He’s very high-needs and demanding and colicky. That’s okay, no worries. We are dealing with it and things, generally, are better.

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So today I will (after writing this post) turn off my wi-fi (this is a great way to get writing done for all you new writers!), maximize Gio in my processor and get going. I always have a minimum daily word count. Thanks to Monday and Tuesday’s lackluster endeavors, I am now 5k in the hole that I need to make up. 8k if you include what I need to write today. This is both intimidating and motivating. Mostly scary.

When you’re in the groove and the words are flying and the ideas and pace surging by swiftly, I can write a thousand words per thirty minutes. On average, due to distractions, I think I usually do closer to 1k / hour. Still not bad, but that means I’d need to write for 8 hours to get my goal done today. Not awful either, in fact, you can get a lot of work done writing for that period of time. However…with the baby that seems like a distant possibility. Perhaps I am simply being too negative, though?

Next week my husband begins a new job. No longer will he be working from home. My rock, my support, my help with baby will be gone for a significant period of time. Now I will have this somewhat difficult baby to care for 8+ hours a day, five days a week on my own. Am I terrified? A wee bit. I want to be better.  Really, I want to be perfect. It’s my competitive nature and need to do things “right”. I want to never lose my patience or temper with my baby. I want to always know what my baby needs or wants at any moment. I often think to myself “there’s no way other mothers from other parts of the world are dealing with a baby who can’t fall asleep without motion!” I know they are out there, but it still feels very lonely and depressing. He’s my baby, I think, I should be able to handle him. But, what about the times when I can’t?

I will rely on my confidence, which is somewhere buried inside me, to take care of this baby and somehow find a way to work during the day. If I can at least complete my goal word count of 3k (not even much by writing standards!) during the daytime while baby plays or naps, then I should be OK. That doesn’t include taking care of business necessities: emails, social media, whatever. So long as I can make a way to write every day with that baby, then things will be OK.

Even as I write this, I finally, after much screaming (perhaps by both of us), got this baby to fall asleep. He literally has one eye half open. Right now. Never quite falling asleep. Never completely relaxed while napping. Lord have mercy, I don’t know why. Just go to sleep! I want to scream. It’s safe. It’s OK! I can tell him that until I’m blue in the face and still it won’t make a lick of difference. He’s going to do what he wants. Baby be as baby does. And he is so darned beautiful I just want to cry looking at him.

Motherhood. Parenthood. Rough and fulfilling and insane all at the same time.

Now I have to get back into this book and create some awesomeness.

p.s.

by time I finished writing this blog, baby is now staring at me wide awake. Two hours of difficulty and so much crying and screaming for about thirty minutes of sleep. Oh my god. I’m going insane, aren’t I? I must be. I must be.

 

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How I feel after a new book release

I don’t often write reflective posts. In fact, I don’t really blog at all, because site stats have proven long ago that no one is really listening. This is actually a good thing, because right now I want to discuss something (hold on as I pause here for a minute to try to find the right word)… troubling? No, troubling is not the right word. Maybe…unsatisfying.

There. That’s better. Unsatisfying.

Often times releasing a new book, something that I’ve worked months and months on, day after day, hour after hour, is a wholly unsatisfying experience. I can tell you what I hope to see happen after I release a book. Of course, this is what every author in the world wants to happen once they publish a book. They want to check their sales that first day and see a skyrocketed number. Anything over a thousand sales (for me) would be spectacular. But, you don’t see that. Maybe a few hundred over the course of the day from all retailers is more accurate. How disappointing.

You feel panic. You feel…sad. No celebrating, please. I am trying not to cry. 8 months of hard work. So many re-writes, including more than 35,00 in a week during content edits where I basically had to ignore my baby for 8 hours a day. And what is it for? Some paltry sales. I begin to think of my rent for this house I don’t own and how I can’t afford it like this. I think of the electric bill which was almost $300 this month. We’ve shut off the a/c and are thankful for cooler temperatures this past week.

Doubts creeps in. Well maybe the book isn’t that good. But, no, I think. It is really good. I know it. I can feel it. Just to prove my point, I’ve sent about a hundred copies of the book to readers (something I’ve only done once before, long ago) and while losing all of those potential sales, I did garner reviews. Reviews, I’ve heard, is a great way to sell a new release. When readers come to your new book release page and see that pretty green text with a glowing review on Amazon, readers will snatch up that book quickly; far more so than without that text or with poor reviews littering the page.

What if the sales aren’t coming in? What if reviews haven’t seemed to change a thing?

So, you think back to your advertising plan. After all, it’s not like you just hit “publish” and did nothing else whatsoever to promote your book. You made the first book in the series free and ran a week-long advertising plan using Facebook ads and numerous other advertising websites such as BargainBooksy (a great site!) to bring attention to this series. Well, I have had great success with this free book campaign. I’ve gotten nearly 7,000 free downloads of this book, which is remarkable considering I could not obtain a BookBub ad for this book. BookBub is considered the holy grail of book advertising, in case you don’t know. Interestingly enough, I’ve been able to give away more copies of Take Me without a BookBub ad than with one. Perhaps I won’t try to rely on BB so much in the future.

Now, you may think: 7,000 free books – that’s incredible! It is. And it’s not. You have to remember how us e-reader folks work. We see a book on sale (or free in this case), and we snatch that book up. However, then we go to work and have dinner and hang out with our family and life goes on and in the meantime we snatch up other free/discounted books having long forgotten about T. A. Grey’s title. That free book never gets read.

I do this all the time. I have all kinds of free/discounted books I downloaded on my e-reader that have never even been open. Maybe one day I will get to them. But I doubt it.

All an author can hope for is that a tiny percentage of those 7,000 free downloads will actually open and read the book, and that they will like it so much that they will purchase book 2. And many book 3. And maybe, finally, my new book. By that point, perhaps 1% of those 7,000 readers will go on to read book 4. I am not good at math, but that would be, what, 70 readers? 70 sales, potentially.  8 months of work. Even longer since my previous book, which released last Halloween. Income is dropping steadily; little money coming in, and I may, if I’m lucky be able to pay rent for 1 month off this profit.

So, what can you do to let romance readers know that “Hey, y’all! I wrote a new book and I’m pretty darn sure y’all will like it if you give it a try! Try reading the first chapter or two! You don’t even have to buy it. Just try it!”? Well… fact is, I don’t know. I’ve been self-publishing since 2011 when this whole she-bang started, and sometimes I feel savvy and in control and at other times I feel like I’m listlessly floating in a very large ocean.

That’s how I feel right now. Like I’m drowning.

There are no real answers. And all of my problems are the very same ones that thousands of authors, bestselling or not, have experienced and will continue to experience for years to come.

So, what I start to do next is ask questions: what’s wrong with the book, why can’t I gain attention to my brand, what can I do better, and so on and so forth. I am a fixer. A problem solver. A strategist. So, I think about it. I’ve come up with some answers, not that I know if they are “correct” at all. Let’s have a look at them:

  1. No one is really reading paranormal books any more (unless they are bear or dragon related). Rogue Blood is a paranormal, therefore a lack of interest.
  2. Billionaires, bad boys, & office-contemporary romances are all the rage right now. Although the Blackmoore family in this series are definitely billionaires (or at least disgustingly wealthy) and the setting is definitely contemporary, and maybe some of the heroes could be characterized as “bad boys” — few readers will touch this series or this book. Because it’s listed under the “paranormal” category.
  3. You could say: “Why, T. A., simply remove the book to a different category, to which I would say no. I will not lie or be deceitful. There are vampires and Were creatures in this book. And perhaps a touch of magic, too!” Paranormal is as paranormal does.
  4. Bosses. Erotic romances with an office setting are all the rage. But what if I don’t have any of these kinds of books in my backlist? What if I don’t even have an interest in writing these kinds of books? What if I don’t believe in fad writing? Which means, I don’t like to write what everyone else is writing. I don’t like to jump on bandwagons. I never have. Then, that means I have to stew in my pile of shit and deal with it, doesn’t it? And I really shouldn’t complain.

That means I have to stew in my pile of shit and deal with it, doesn’t it? And I really shouldn’t complain.

Strangely, every time I have finished a book and I’m preparing to “launch” it, I always get the same jitters. I’m nervous about how readers will feel about it. I’m nervous about being able to sell any copies. I’m nervous that my book will be hated. But now, more than ever, I’m just scared. I feel, at times, like it’s hopeless; that if I don’t write in one of these fads genres, which is so overly saturated, that I will never be able to pop my head above the water again. There is no lucky coin to flip that will make you sell XXX amount of copies in one day. So much of this business is luck or happenstance. I suppose I wish I had more of that mojo right now.

Of course, not everything is a complete downer. As I said before, I am a strategist. A planner. And I do have a plan to rectify my situation.

That plan is to finish writing my Bodyguards for Hire series. There is one book published in it right now: Jace. It’s a fun, sexy romp. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I did while writing that book. That on-going series is also shorter in length at around 50,000 words, a far cry from the 100k, plus-length novels of The Untouchables series that few people are reading. Since I have a baby now, which has upturned my previous writing schedule, shorter novels are the way to go, I think. I will be able to finish them sooner.

I can’t be writing one book a year. Even two a year is dismal.

So, what’s my plan? To pimp and write some more hilarious contemporary romances in the Bodyguards for Hire series. Gio (book 2) is set to release November 7th. If I can get it out earlier, I’ll do that. But I am trying to allow plenty of time for editing. Next up after that is Mac (book 3). I would love to have Mac out in December. Time will tell if I’m delusional about how much I can accomplish this year.

I am hoping to see an uptick in sales because of this series. Hopefully, more so than I’ve seen with Rogue Blood. I will very likely go on to write book 4 and book 5 of that series. I am thinking of some sexy twin Russian bodyguards who come to Miami for work.😉 It will be great.

Will this solve my problems? I don’t know. All I can do is try.

 

New Release from T. A. Grey: Rogue Blood (Untouchables Book 4)

Save 25% when you grab your copy before August 24th!

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From USA TODAY Bestselling Author T. A. Grey comes the fourth book in the suspenseful dark romantic series: The Untouchables. In these fast-paced novels, the world famous Blackmoore brothers, vampire royalty, find love in unusual places amid dangerous foes and painful secrets.

Known for little more than her beauty, socialite heiress Julianna Greenwich harbors secrets of her own. Not only is she a champion swordsman, but she’s harbored a longing for the sophisticated, charming Blackmoore brother Vasilius for over twenty-four years. When her father informs her that she is to mate with Vasilius in a fortnight, her first thought is not of happiness, but dread. The problem is that Vasilius, while once kind to her as a worldly man might be to a child, has treated her with nothing but disdain since the accident that left him scarred on his face. How can she possibly get this man to love her, when he wants nothing to do with her?

Vasilius Blackmoore used to turn the heads of every woman in the room. When the inclination struck, he’d take one (or more) of these women to his bed and leave them thinking about him for years to come. However, all that changed when an old flame scarred his face forever. Now, women can hardly stand the sight of him. And one of those women is stunning beauty, Julianna Greenwich, the woman he’s being forced to mate with. Unbeknownst to Julianna, Vasilius once heard just what exactly she thought of his new face. And he’d hated her ever since.

But what better way to find retribution than to seduce Julianna and leave her wanting for more? A series of misunderstandings, secrets and one deadly stalker whose madness leads to dead bodies, breaks down the barriers between them. Vasilius begins to think that a family with Julianna might not be so bad, if he can move on from the pain of the past and keep her safe.

Kindle US: http://tinyurl.com/gm2ueov
iBooks: http://tinyurl.com/hcym4lu
Nook: http://tinyurl.com/h7yz3tx
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/jej6k7m
Read The Untouchables series today!
Take Me (Book 1)
Tempting Gray (Book 2)
Merely Immortal (Book 3)
Rogue Blood (Book 4)

Check out my USA TODAY Bestselling Bellum Sisters series for paranormal adventure, magic, and high romance. You’ll love this page-turning romance series!

Get your copy now:
Chains of Frost (Book 1)
Bonds of Fire (Book 2)
Ties That Bind (Book 3)
The Fallen King (Book 4)

ACCLAIM for T. A. Grey’s Novels!

“Ms. Grey’s world is not only magical, but erotic, enchanted, and deadly. In addition to the fiercely passionate female characters, Grey creates a fresh cast of male counterpoints who are seductive, gritty, rugged, and noble.” Vampire and Immortal Books

“What a hot sexy read! Jace by T.A. Grey is the first book of her Bodyguards for Hire Series and I have to say I want more! A contemporary romance with some sizzling erotica, lots of witty moments, a dash of danger and a couple you can’t help but love, this book has it all.” The Reading Cafe

“This story will yank you in and hold you hostage until the very last word. It’s a page turner that has captivating characters, interesting plot lines and danger around every twist.” Reviewing Vixens

“Bonds of Fire is … a wonderful story, moving fast and never stopping for anything.” Night Owl Romance

“The Bellum Sisters series … was a revelation! I instantly fell in love with the whole story and particularly with the characters. I found everything I love in a PNR story with the Bellum Sisters series.” Proserpine Craving

“I love how slow their relationship is to build because of Gavin’s insecurities (no insta love), and I love how feisty Alicia is. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Gavin and will definitely pick up the next books.” USA TODAY, HEA Blog

“This girl knows how to write a flawed alpha male…” Close Encounters of the Night Kind

Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? Think Again.

The Active Voice

There’s this indie author I know a little bit from the Kboards.com forum. Her name is Pauline Creeden, and she’s an ordinary midlister, like so many of us. I remember PMing her some time ago and gushing about how particularly beautiful one of her book covers is—the one for Chronicles of Steele: Raven.collection Here, I’ll include an image. Gorgeous, eh?

Anyway, today I tuned in to Kboards and noticed that Pauline had started a thread. It contained what’s surely the worst news possible for an indie author: Amazon had closed her publishing account. All her ebooks had been taken off sale. Permanently. Here’s the email she got from Amazon:

We are reaching out to you because we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts. While we support the legitimate efforts of our publishers to promote their books, attempting to manipulate the Kindle…

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Fencing Swords Explained: Foils, Epees, Sabres…

Useful knowledge on fencing! Did you know there are different kinds of swords? Learn the difference between epee, sabre, and a rapier.

Fencing Swords

If you’re new to fencing then you may be surprised to learn that there are different types of fencing swords and different competition rules for using them.

I used to think that fencing was fencing and that the swords were all alike. Now I know better, of course!

Types Of Fencing Swords

There are in fact three different sword types:

  • the Foil
  • the Epee, and
  • the Sabre

In fencing, you always duel against the same type of sword.

Foils

These are light-weight swords with a blade that is thin and rounded, so very flexible. They were originally made from rolled steel foil (hence the name).

Foils are the most common sword to start learning with. However, that doesn’t mean they are just for beginners. But the discipline and skills developed by training first with a foil can be transferred to the other two swords.

Foil Fencing Target Area (Torso Only)When duelling with foils, only the…

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Writing a Pitch-Perfect Query Letter

A very helpful post on writing a romance querry letter!

Romance Writers on the Journey

Article by Shelley Adina

You’ve finished your manuscript. Now it’s time to send it out into the world. But before you stuff all four hundred pages in the mail or zap your entire file through Cyberspace, you need to take the first step: submit a query letter. Today multi-published, RITA® Award-winning author Shelley Adina is here to teach us a four-step process that makes the task seem (almost) easy.

I met Shelley at the 2008 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. At lunch and dinner the publishing professionals were spread throughout the dining hall, one at each table, and we attendees could chose the one with whom we wanted to sit. I’d done my homework and scouted out every writer of romance on the staff roster, so at lunch the first day I entered the dining hall and made a beeline for Shelley’s table. Only one other person, a nice…

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