Fool’s Gold: Audiobook Version and Freebie!

It’s here at last!

The audiobook version of Fool’s Gold, narrated by the charming and talented Gary Furlong, is now available on Audible.com! And as part of the celebration, from now until 9/10/17, you can grab a FREE digital copy of the award-winning Fool’s Gold to go with it!

Eight years ago, Jake Stanford had it all: a spot on the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team and the love of his life, Rich Evans. A tragic accident wipes out everything in the blink of an eye. Hard work and sacrifice get him another shot at Olympic Gold, but only if he puts his past behind him and agrees to work with Rich again.

Bound by secrets he cannot share, Rich was forced to give up Jake eight years ago. Now he has a second chance to help Jake realize his dreams. But the secrets that drove them apart haven’t changed, and Rich must face them or risk losing Jake forever.

This is a story very dear to my heart–a love letter to my horses and the sport of eventing. Not to mention, I loved tearing Jake and Rich’s lives apart, only to force them back together to see if they could work things out!

So be my guest, snag yourself a free copy and check out the smooth-as-silk audio treat that is Gary Furlong’s rendition of the story. You’ll be glad you did!

Coming Soon to Audiobook: Fool’s Gold by Sarah Madison

Wow! I can’t believe the last time I posted to the website was back in March!

Looking back, I can see why. A lot of stuff is going on in my personal life right now–family crises, health issues, work stress… I’ve been keeping my head down low and trying to work on various projects but it’s been slow going.

The good news is that very soon I’ll be announcing the release of Fool’s Gold on Audible! This is my first audiobook ever and I am SO excited. I fell in love with Gary Furlong’s voice during the auditions for narrator and I’m sure you will too. With any luck, it will be released in August.

Fool’s Gold was voted best M/M Romance by the 2016 PGR’s Reviewers Choice Awards. The story is a love letter to my own sport, eventing, and I couldn’t be more pleased to share it with you in audio format. Stay tuned for more details on a release date!

In other good news, I’m working on the final installment of the Sixth Sense series, tentatively titled Deal with the Devil. I had intended to have it finished and submitted to Dreamspinner by March, but all those pesky life trauma things got in the way. It’s going slowly, but I am making forward progress, and hope to have it available for release sometime in 2018.

I’ve also been teaching myself to make promotional graphics and how to put together a newsletter. If you want to keep up with the latest from me (and I promise, it probably won’t be more often than once a quarter–no spammy newsletters from me!), then sign up for my newsletter here.

I look forward to being able to share with you an exact release date on the Fool’s Gold audiobook! Until then, I’ll keep writing.

Unspeakable Words: On Sale At Dreamspinner Press!

I’ve been so pleased with the relaunch of Unspeakable Words! It’s been getting some fabulous reviews, and is on Dreamspinner’s bestseller list. Best of all, right now it’s on sale! I’m not sure for how much longer, so be sure to grab a copy of this expanded version at a great price!

Here are some great reviews from LoveBytes, Sinfully Gay Book Romance Book Reviews, Joyfully Jay, GayBook Reviews, Diverse Reader, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, and Rainbow Book Reviews, just to name a few! (I feel like someone thanking people at the Academy Awards–I’m bound to leave someone out!)

I have a lot a blog posts out with this book tour, including interviews at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and Open Skye Book Reviews. I’ve also begun sharing about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy, part of my research for the Sixth Sense series. Do drop by Authors Speak at Rainbow’s Gate for more about Writer’s Police Academy, but also fantastic giveaways, and the latest on upcoming releases by some of your favorite authors! My April post will be about crime scene investigations and blood spatter, so come check it out. 🙂

It’s Here! Release Day for Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison

Wow! It’s finally here! I am so excited to be able to share this with you–the brand new relaunch of Unspeakable Words and the Sixth Sense series! To start things off, I have a post explaining my decision to relaunch the series over at MM Goodbook Reviews, and I am chatting about when characters misbehave at GayBook Reviews. Tomorrow I’ll be over at Bayou Book Junkies, so do come and make the rounds with me!

There have been some excellent reviews already, including this delightful one from Debra at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews!

I’m off this weekend to a much needed retreat in the mountains: just me, the BF, the dogs, and a snow-dusted cabin. No internet, but a roaring fire in the hearth. I’ll be posting the first in a series about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy (part of the research I did for this series) at Authors Speak at Rainbow’s Gate on March 12th, internet permitting. And there will be more in the Unspeakable Words relaunch tour, so stay tuned!

You can find the brand new Unspeakable Words at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, as well as some of your other favorite outlets. Find out more about the next installment in the series as well!

Love is in the Air: Valentine’s Day Sale at Dreamspinner Press!

I don’t know about you, but I hated Valentine’s Day growing up.

I hated all the emphasis on being ‘chosen’ to be someone’s Valentine, and how the whole day was an exercise in humiliation for a introverted, homely child.

As a young adult, it felt like a comment on my attractiveness and desirability that I didn’t have someone special in my life to take me out to dinner or bring me flowers. And yet I still wanted those things very much. I wanted that tangible proof that not only was I loved, I was deemed worthy of love.

The first couple of times I was in a relationship as Valentine’s Day rolled around, I went all out: the romantic dinner, the fancy restaurant, the expensive (and sexy) dress. Chocolates, wine, flowers, and cards. The whole nine yards.

Now after having been in a committed relationship for nearly a decade, I can appreciate it not the day that matters, or the meal, or the bling. It’s the person who is sitting across the table from you. It’s the person holding your hand, or the friends taking you out for Galentine’s Day, or the cat in your lap and the dog at your feet. I love that people are taking what has always been for me a problematic celebration of ‘love’ and making it their own–redefining it for their needs.

 

 

 

As part of that celebration, Dreamspinner Press is having a store-wide sale: 25% off all titles until Feb 18th, and a flash sale of new releases today only! That means you can pre-order the newly revised version of Unspeakable Words at the sale price (release date March 10, 2017)–or perhaps you’d like a story of love, loss, and re-connection with The Boys of Summer.  Or maybe werewolves and vampires are your thing–in which case, check out the award-winning Crying for the Moon! Plenty to choose from, and not just my titles. Entering the DSP store is like opening the Potter family vault at Gringott’s. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Cover Reveal & Giveaway for the new Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison

Oh guys!

I have been on pins and needles with excitement over the cover reveal and pre-order links for the newly expanded version of Unspeakable Words! in fact, the entire Sixth Sense series got a makeover to celebrate the relaunch of book one, so there will be more covers to share in the future and I can’t wait to share them with you! Release date for the new edition of Unspeakable Words is March 10, 2017.

Today I’m at MM Goodbook Reviews with an exclusive cover reveal and a giveaway–as well as an explanation for the decision to expand the original story. Do drop by to check out the awesome cover by L.C. Chase and leave a comment to enter the giveaway!

Also, voting is still open in the 2016 Paranormal  Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards! Fool’s Gold is up for Best MM Romance, but I’m telling you, the competition is fierce. Check out the nominees and vote for your favorites!

I’m not going to post the cover here–you have to check it out at MM Goodbook Reviews–but stay tuned for additional cover releases soon!

Three Hearts Cover Reveal and Buy Links with Grace Duncan

three-hearts_450X674

Three Hearts
By Grace R. Duncan
Cover by Jess Small
72k words
M/M Paranormal/shifters

Pre-order available 2/3/2017

Release date: 3/3/2017

The preorder link for Three Hearts is: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MYFCBSE
Print version on Createspace:  https://www.createspace.com/6894067

 

Liam Scott is sick. That’s not supposed to be possible. As a wolf shifter, he’s supposed to be able to heal. The omega gene he was born with means he’s capable of carrying shifter young and Liam is worried that whatever is wrong will mean his one-day hope of having pups will be dashed. But despite the fears keeping him away from the doctor until now, he knows he needs to go.

It turns out the sickness is temporary, but the treatment causes a whole other problem.

Mason’s alpha gene means he’s one of very few wolves who can impregnate an omega male. For two years, he’d been watching Liam, but things kept getting in the way. When Liam shows up in heat, Mason recognizes the opportunity he needs and doesn’t hesitate make to Liam his mate and the father of his pups.

But Liam has old wounds and fears to work through which the pregnancy is only making worse, and Mason isn’t sure how to get past them to show he’s serious about making a life together as loving mates. It’s not until a female wolf decides Mason should be hers that Liam makes his biggest worry known—and Mason can finally put the fears to rest.

 

Excerpt:

Liam

With a sigh, I rolled over and peered at the clock. Even if I were to drag my tired ass out of bed right then, I’d never make it to work on time. But my boss, Jack, would be there, so I grabbed my phone from the bedside table and lay back. I pulled up my contacts and hit the button when I found my boss’s number. It barely rang twice before he picked it up.

“Yo, Liam!”

I couldn’t resist a chuckle at the greeting. “Hey, uh… I can’t come in today. I know I’ve called off a lot the last couple of months but—”

“Tell me it’s because you’re finally going to the doctor,” Jack said, hope clear in his voice. Jack wasn’t just my boss—he was also probably my closest friend. Yeah, working with friends was never a good idea. Except, for Jack and I, it worked. I never wanted upper management. I was happy where I was, doing what I did. So I was equally happy when Jack got promoted where he wanted to be.

“Yeah,” I said, letting out a breath. “I’m going to call when they open in a few minutes.”

“It’s about fucking time,” Jack grumbled. “I’ve been worried about you.”

“Yeah, I know, I know. Look, depending on what they say, I’ll probably be in tomorrow.”

“Take a couple of days. Make sure whatever they do works. I’d rather you get rest and get over this so you can come back 100 percent.”

Jack was right. I didn’t have to like it, but he was. “I’ll still check my e-mail and stuff,” I said. Right didn’t mean I wanted to. Work had piled up over these two months, and I was so far behind, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever catch up. “Shit,” I groaned. “Budgets are due. Mason’s going to kill me if I don’t turn them in this week.”

“I’ll tell Mason to take a flying leap off the Sears Tower, dude. He’ll have to wait.”

“Jack! He’s our CFO. You don’t tell the CFO to take a flying

leap and keep your job.”

Jack’s noncommittal sound did not encourage me.

“Look…,” I said, running a hand through my hair. “I’ll come by on the way home from the doc’s and pick up the budget paperwork, okay? I’ll do it here, in bits, when I can.”

Jack paused for a long moment, then finally said, “I’ll send them by messenger. Text me when you know when you’re going to the doc’s. I’ll send the budget stuff over after that.”

He could be a real pain in the ass sometimes. Especially when he was right.

“Fine,” I grumbled ungraciously. Whatever this was had taken up enough of my time and energy already.

“Good. Text me when you get the appointment. And get some sleep!”

It took me a few seconds to realize Jack had hung up. I shook my head and set my phone down.

I hadn’t told Jack my fears about cancer. He’d tell me I was overworrying. He’d tell me it wouldn’t be me, partially because he’d want to reassure me, and partially because he wouldn’t want to believe it himself.

So I kept them to myself.

Before I could talk myself out of it again, I picked my phone back up. With a deep breath, I dialed the doctor’s number.

About Grace

grace_nohateGrace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

 

Find Grace here:

Website FacebookTwitterYoutubeGoodreads

 

Paranormal Sale at Dreamspinner Press: 30% off!

dreamspinner-magicintheair-websitebannerOh! Oh! Today until Feb 6, Dreamspinner Press is having a 30% off sale on all its paranormal romances!

That’s almost every title I have with them! Run check it out–this sale is smoking’ hot!

Here’s the link to my titles on Dreamspinner Press. But if you’re looking for Unspeakable Words and you can’t find it, that’s because the expanded version is scheduled to be released March 10th! Sorry, no pre-order link available yet… but I’ll be posting soon with the new covers for the Sixth Sense series as soon as I get a buy link for Unspeakable Words.

Book 4 in the Sixth Sense Series (tentatively titled Deal with the Devil) is underway. I’m sorry to say that I’ve been finding it challenging to write due to the current political turmoil in the US, but I hope to have the story finished and available to you in early 2018.

 

Architect of Love by John Charles: Book Tour & Giveaway!

Title: Architect of Love
Series: Fated Soulmates #2
Author: John Charles
Genre: M/M Romance
Published: November 27, 2016


He could work miracles with His Hands
Lance Bartner loved working with his hands, made his living refinishing furniture. Nights out were for fun with friends and the occasional hook-up. Though the L word had never been spoken, he would have enjoyed a relationship had the right man crossed his path. But who would want a laborer like Lance? He wasn’t college educated, didn’t live in a fancy loft condo, didn’t drive a Lexus, and didn’t even own a suit.
Forrest Dentren, was an architect and city planner who had become a local name when his design for the Monroe City Center was chosen as one of the top three contenders. Well educated, extremely well built, and as both men and women put it, just plain hot. Some said he was married to his job, others said he was too picky, many said he didn’t want to share the spotlight.


One hot, uninhibited sex-filled night


When Forrest broke his routine and went clubbing on a weeknight, he spotted Lance. The attraction was immediate from both sides of the dance floor. They both felt it. A few drinks later, still feeling it, they left for Lance’s apartment.

It was never supposed to turn into anything more than one hot fuck

Two people from opposite ends of the world, no roadmap, not directions, no ideas how to make it work.

Architect Of Love is a hot and steamy, gay romance novel with no cliffhangers. It is the second book in The Fated Soulmates series and can be read as a standalone.



 

“This is a steamy and yet also endearingly sweet romance. For a sexy good time, characters to love, and a good combination of sweet and spicy, this gets 8/10 fountain pens.” – A. M. Leibowitz

“This was a good book about how being insecure can destroy what may be the best things in your life.” –  Gay Book Reviews

“Its a fun read, a good story, realistic with characters I could get behind, and a sensible mix of story v sex. Stars: Four, a great read with realistic storyline.” –  Jeannie Zelos book reviews

“If you like sexy architects, hot craftsmen, fated love, second chance, not a lot of sex but just enough to heat up a story and an all around good, sweet romance this is for you.” – Cathy Brockton



The tall blond kicked the door closed with his foot as he pinned the shorter, more muscular man against the wall. One hand held the shorter man’s hands above his head, the other a handful of his shirt.

“Lance is a pretty name for such a muscular guy. Why’d your mother name you that?” His face was mere inches from Lance’s. They breathed the same air as they stared into the other man’s eyes.


“She has a thing for different names. Don’t ask me why, she just does.” Lance was almost hyperventilating; his brown eyes were wide with curious anticipation, the pupils dilated. “I might ask what was in your mother’s mind when she named you Forrest. Were you conceived in the woods?”


A growl emitted from the tall blond. He pushed Lance harder against the wall, his entire body now firmly against the shorter man. “Never asked where they fucked and don’t want to know, but the name works for me. Does Lance suit you? Are you?”


“That’s a rather personal question, don’t you think? After all, we just met.” Lance struggled to keep his body under control. He could feel the heat emanating from Forrest, his breath smelled of Scotch, his muscles were taught as a lion’s ready to pounce. His groin pressed just above Lance’s and it was hard with desire as was his own.


They held eye contact for a long minute then Forrest moved his head, slowly as if testing the space between them. Lance followed his full lips as they neared his own. They were heavy with lust, slightly open, tongue barely visible. When they touched his, he felt a tingle down to his toes. He moaned.


Forrest held Lance in place, as he tasted the shorter man. Beer mingled with breath mint met his tongue as he pushed to gain control. He heard Lance’s moan and continued to push for more. His body was ready to burst. He felt Lance’s heat against his and knew the man wanted what he presented.


Suddenly as if on attack, Lance twisted in the taller man’s arms. He forced Forrest around and pressed him against the wall where his back had lain seconds prior. “How does it feel now?” he whispered unable to voice anything louder. “You want more? Can you handle it or are the trees too big, Forrest?”


Forrest could feel Lance’s long, calloused fingers holding his wrists. Short, muscular legs stood outside his encasing him. The hand pushing against his chest caused his heartbeat to sound and feel harder and louder. It was his turn to hyperventilate. “I can take anything you throw at me. Care to try something else or is this all you’ve got?”


Lance pulled Forrest from the wall keeping a tight grip on his wrists. He walked his captive backward to the couch at the far end of the small room. With a push, Forrest was lying on his back, Lance straddling him. For the first time, Forrest took in his surroundings. They were in a small, tidy apartment. The furniture looked old as if from garage sales or thrift stores. Though old, the couch felt soft and comfortable. A bookcase held a small TV and several hardcover books, the titles he couldn’t make out from where he lay. Warm, comfortable, masculine were his thoughts, thoughts that were interrupted as Lance sensuously moved his ass along Forrest’s throbbing erection. Lance’s actions brought a whimper of pain and pleasure from his lips.


Lance sat on Forrest wondering just how far he could go with this hot man who picked him out of all the other guys at The Hole, a club on the gay strip in the south end. He frequented the area. The clubs provided an easy way for him to satisfy his fantasies without too much involvement. He had been the one to pick up others most nights.


Tonight, though, he sat with two friends, no one interested him. Then this hot man, clearly out of Lance’s normal league, asked if he wanted a refill. That refill was not finished as they readily agreed to take the night further. A quick cab ride brought them to Lance’s apartment.


Slowly with a little uncertainty, he unbuttoned Forrest’s shirt revealing a solid hairless chest. “Mmm, smooth, just how I like my men,” he said as he pulled the shirt from Forrest’s too tight pants. Forrest lifted his butt as Lance pulled the shirt from his body and threw it to the side chair.


Forrest reached up and pulled Lance’s shirt over his head throwing it on top of his own. He ran his fingers threw the nest of dark hair on the smaller man’s powerful chest. Grabbing a handful, he pulled Lance down for a passionate kiss, one that had both men moaning into each other’s mouths.


Lust raged in both men. Lance moved down Forrest’s body rubbing his ass along his groin as he did. He unbuttoned his jeans, pulled the zipper down revealing what he thought – Forrest was commando, erect, and already dripping with lust. He lifted Forrest up enough to pull his pants to his thighs, then undid his own and threw them onto the growing pile of clothes.


When Forrest reached for Lance’s hardness, he was met with a calloused hand stopping him. “No, let me take care of both of us.” Lance moved up slightly, enough to put his cock against the one standing tall in front of him. Taking both into his rough hands, he used the wetness to slide up and down in a sensuous motion designed to cause both men to hurt with pleasure.


He leaned down, keeping his hands moving ever so slowly, and kissed those hot lips again. When he felt Forrest grab his ass, Lance moaned, spread his legs encouraging exploration. They were gasping for breath when Forrest shouted, “Oh Fuck,” and came so hard his body spasmed. Lance followed seconds later. He laid his head on Forrest’s chest trying to get control of his breathing and listening to the man below him gasping for air.


The cab ride to his apartment had Forrest dwelling on the man who took his breath away. Not his normal type, Lance was shorter, more muscular, had dark hair contrasting Forrest’s blond hair and emerald green eyes. He was clearly a man who worked with his hands, not a professional, but could hold his own. Their conversations were interesting, intelligent, and broad in scope. Forrest had learned to stay away from politics and religion. He was pleased that Lance didn’t broach those topics either.


Forrest had a busy life, busy work schedule, and firm rules about living that life. He didn’t go out on work nights. He didn’t break his rules. He was tired and would pay for his indulgences in the morning.


Lance didn’t fit his type. Normally Forrest went for the younger twinks. Muscles were not usually a turn on for him, but damn if this guy broke that rule, too. He allowed himself to close his eyes for a minute seeing the broad shoulders of the man pinning him down on the couch. Though shorter, Lance was clearly stronger. He wondered just how far this one nighter might have gone if it were not a work night.


His dreams were interrupted by the cabbie announcing they were at his destination. He paid, gave the man a good tip and made his way into the three-story building. He took the stairs two at a time and entered his own apartment. Keys, wallet, loose change was thrust into the blue glass bowl near the door. Shoes removed, Forrest wiggled his toes in the thick white carpet beneath his feet.


What a night, he thought as he made his way to the master bedroom. A hot shower was in order. The water flowed over his tall solid body. Eyes closed, head under the spray, he tried to clear his mind. Water ran down his back, between his ass cheeks, and along his sculpted thighs. His body was the result of years of healthy eating and hard work at the gym. His mind refused to settle down even as his muscles did. The image of Lance against the wall, eyes wide with anticipation, heart beating fast, his hardness pressing into his leg, those lips as they kissed filled his mind.


Enough! He quickly finished washing, dried his smooth body, and settled into his bed, naked and hard again. Get some sleep Forrest; you have a busy week ahead of you. Never breaking this rule again!

Larry Thomas aka John Charles spent his youth struggling with reading. Not until his late teens did he discover the cause – dyslexia. Only then, with guidance and professional help, did he learn to read. From that point forward, he discovered his love for the printed word.


Ironically, as a father reading to his children his desire to write was born. Reading to his children was a nightly ritual. “I wanted them to fall in love with books.”

Writing was always part of his professional career, but not until he retired did he move from creating marketing and technical materials to writing novels. Now, as a full-time author, Larry writes Romance / Mystery / Thrillers using the pseudonym John Charles.
His books can be found on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold.

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Writer’s Block: When to Push Through and When Not

book-gianni testoreToday’s post came out of a conversation I had with a fellow author the other day, and it occurred to me it might be useful to others as well.

Recently, I posted about the struggle I’ve been having to write. I don’t sit and stare at a blinking cursor, which is how I think many people perceive writer’s block. No, instead I come up with a great idea and dive headlong into it–writing madly until I hit the 40 K mark or so, when I suddenly lose all faith in the story and my ability to tell it. As such, it doesn’t really feel like writer’s block, but I think it’s a form of it just the same.

I’ve done this with four stories in the past year. Four stories that I walked away from at the halfway point.

Now, 2016 wasn’t a good year for me. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t good for a lot of people. Living with fear or depression is sapping to one’s creative energy. So is working an exhausting job. But these things were only additional factors in my decision to walk away from these stories. The real issue was that I didn’t believe they were any good. I thought they were fatally flawed and not worth finishing.

The thing is, I think there is a natural rhythm to writing. Most of us experience a lull in productivity after we’ve finished a big project. That’s normal. That’s not writer’s block. Farmers used to let fields lie fallow for a season to allow the ground replenish the minerals needed to grow healthy crops. Now we stuff the dirt with fertilizer and force earth to produce more food faster without any rest.

I’m a firm believer in taking a little break between projects so your well of creativity can restock. Just don’t let that break go on too long, or it represents too much lost time between one story and the next–and these days, like the farmers, writers are expected to produce new works rapidly. An experienced author knows this and doesn’t let that natural lull go on too long or else it becomes wasted time.

laptop-user-1-1241192But what I experienced last year was not a naturally occurring wane in production. So if you hit a roadblock in your writing–think about why you want to bail on it now. The most important question you have to ask yourself is this: is the problem with THIS story or is it with your self-confidence?

The thing with writer’s block of any sort (even if you’re still writing but it’s like pulling teeth with a pair of pliers) is that sometimes you’re blocked for a good reason. Either the story isn’t working or you’re trying to force the characters in a direction they don’t want to go. That kind of ‘I can’t write today’ is totally different from the feeling that everything you write is utter crap and you’re stymied because you either keep writing the same bit over and over or nothing at all because ALL THE WORDS SUCK.

In the first situation, sometimes you need to walk away from the story for a bit and let it simmer in your subconscious while you figure out the problems. Or you need to read other stories and watch some movies while you re-charge your writing mojo. Be kind to yourself in these situations. Take the dog for a walk. Do something different. Let your brain unravel the thorny problem as best it can. If taking a little break doesn’t help, then skip that scene and write something else until you can come back to the one giving you trouble. The solution might well have come to you by then–maybe even as a result of you moving on with the story.

If you feel hamstrung in your writing because of self-doubt however, the most important thing is to write SOMETHING. Part of the problem with writer’s block in any form is the belief nothing you write is good enough. You know what? The first draft of anything written isn’t good enough. But you can’t know what to fix until you get it down on paper. I’m discovering that sometimes my first draft is just me getting to know the characters and the universe they live in. That means a lot of things might change in the second draft. And there is nothing wrong with this!

There’s also nothing wrong with realizing something isn’t your forte and not expending any more time or energy on it. I’ve finally accepted that as much as a love a cleverly written short story, it’s just not something I do well. I have spent as much time struggling with a 10 K short story as I have with an 80 K novel. Don’t beat yourself up because you don’t do something as well as other people you know. Figure out what your strengths are as a writer and hone them until they are razor sharp. This is even more important when you’re already struggling to write, regardless of the reasons.

If self-doubt is holding you back–and I believe depression and fear are huge contributing factors to this category as well–sometimes the wise thing to do is soldier on. Will it be your best work? Probably not. But dropping out of things and not finishing things becomes a habit. A bad one. I think this is what happened to me last year, and though I also made a decision to drop out of some projects recently, I think in that case, I did it for the right reasons. Not because I didn’t think the end result would be good enough but because I realized I’d seriously over-committed myself at a time when the demands on my writing time and creative energy are already very high. Saying no to some projects–including ones I really wanted to do–took the pressure off me enough so I could get back to work on the most important ones. It sucked to have to disappoint people, but at the same time, I hope that will serve as a reminder to me in the future not to take on more than I can manage.

Things that sap your creative energy–like an exhausting job, or family pressures, or depression–aren’t likely to go away. You have to learn how to work around them if you want to be a writer. The lovely thing about doing this is that when things are going better, you have the skills to write like a fiend. And if you can turn out decent work when things are crap, think how much better you can do when things are great?

For many reasons, I’ve been debating if I should continue writing, and if I do, what genre I should be writing in. Part of my problem as a storyteller is I don’t have a recognizable format–I like a little of everything! I’m not sure I’d do better in other genres, but other genres are calling to me. The hard part is knowing what is a valid reason for changing and what is self-doubt. Knowing the difference between truly wanting to head in a new direction versus letting the fact that the path has become difficult make you think it’s time to turn around.

So if you’re struggling to write just now, I feel your pain. If you’re thinking about quitting–either on a specific story or the whole writing gig altogether, be honest with yourself as to why you’re thinking about quitting. Figure out if the problem is THIS story versus your writing in general. The action you take will depend on knowing the difference.

In the meantime, I’ve got a bloody story to finish. Catch you on the flip side.