The Fab Five Redux: Or, What’s Coming Up Next?

Bradford PearsI got tagged by Charlie Cochet as part of the Fabulous Five meme, where authors answer four specific questions about their writing styles and then tag five more people to do the same the following week. Well, I got tagged by Anne Barwell the week before, and my answers haven’t changed since then, so I will link you to that post instead. 🙂

In the meantime, what am I up to? Well, I’m still waiting for a cover and a release date for book 2 in The Sixth Sense series. Walk a Mile, the sequel to the FBI paranormal mystery Unspeakable Words, should be released sometime in early October from Dreamspinner Press. As part of the run-up to my own release date, I’m hosting a bunch of authors here: Susan Mac Nicol, Chris T. Kate, Bee Snow, Louise Lyons, Kindle Alexander, and Suki Fleet will all be featured in the coming weeks! Also, starting tomorrow, I’ll be one of over one hundred authors and publishers participating in the Fall Into Love Party on The Romance Reviews website. There are over a hundred prizes to be given away, and the grand prize is a $100 gift card! My Q&A will go up September 5th, and the answer is somewhere on this website–so be sure to take a look around for it!

Look of Eagles_resizedAs for today itself, I’m enjoying the holiday weekend here in the US. We’re having a cookout tonight; this morning I’m headed out for a trail ride. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, yourself! Stay tuned for the first author guest post: coming up tomorrow, Susan Mac Nicol will be stopping by as part of her Love and Punishment tour! be sure to check it out!

Fabulous Five Blog Post: What’s Your Writing Style?

I was invited by Anne Barwell to take place in the Fabulous Five Author Blog Hop. The idea is that we answer a specific set of questions and tag five more authors to do the same. The hardest part of the challenge has been finding someone who isn’t already doing this! The best part, however, has been reading what everyone is working on and what their writing process is like. So here I go!

UnspeakableWordscover1. What am I working on?

Hah, this might as well read ‘what should you be working on?’ I’ve just finished the sequel to my FBI/paranormal story Unspeakable Words. Walk a Mile will be coming out with Dreamspinner Press in early October. I’ve started the sequel to that story as well, tentatively titled Truth and Consequences, because I left things on a bit of a cliff-hanger and I didn’t want my audience to suffer too long! I had a good session with my critique group today, and realized that I’m going to have to separate my plot lines and go for a fourth story in the series—there’s just too much going on to wrap it up in three books! I’ve just finished the galley proofs on Walk a Mile, and am anxiously anticipating the cover reveal. You know how it is with covers: it’s like finding out the sex of your unborn baby. You’ll love your child no matter what, but you want to know, right? I’ll be sharing the cover just as soon as I get it, believe me!

I recently had a short story published as part of The Not Quite Shakespeare Anthology, also from Dreamspinner. I also have several WIPs that need some serious attention—the kind where you evaluate the story and decide if it is dead in the water or simply needs more time to simmer. 🙂 I have a contemporary story that deals with the difficult topic of job burnout and depression, and another that’s a Regency romp. I want to get back to writing some science fiction as well.

I am seriously considering stepping a toe in to the traditional romance market, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading as a result. To be honest, I’m not sure I can write a heroine for a traditional romance story. I suspect when I launch the Madison Dean line of stories, I’ll be writing the same kind of quirky, non-traditional main characters, mixing a little humor, a little drama, some hot, sexy times, and a touch of paranormal activity together into story that’s a little bit out there. I have plans for a new series of stories set in the 1950s, in which my main characters are undercover agents investigating paranormal events in a small Southern town. Think of it as Ward and June Cleaver meets Area 51. 🙂 I’m excited about the idea of centering a heroine in the post-WW2 era. She’s come back from the war in which she’s done exciting, dangerous things, and is expected just to re-assimilate her life as a 50’s homemaker. Her partner, paired with her because he is the science to her soldier, has secrets of his own, one of which is that he took a pilot as a lover during the war. Writing M/F romance is a big departure for me, as Sarah Madison writes almost exclusively in the M/M romance genre. This is important to me, however. These are stories I want to tell.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The Boys of Summer400x600I frequently describe my stories as being ‘romances with a twist’. I find odd things interesting. I spend most of my time running around thinking, ‘hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…?’ What that means is that you’ll seldom find a straightforward romance among my stories. As you can see from above, I describe Unspeakable Words as a ‘FBI/paranormal story’. The Boys of Summer is a contemporary story, but it has a long historical sequence within it. Crying for the Moon is about a vampire who wants to live a ‘normal’ life. The fun of writing for me is to create a set of characters and put them in a crucible of sorts–to put them in hot water and see how strong they are. It may be an odd confession for a romance writer, but romance in and of itself is not the driving force behind my stories. I’m interested in the characters and how they interact. Falling in love is icing on the cake. I wouldn’t want to eat just the frosting, though, would you? There has to be some tart to balance all the sweet.

3. Why do I write what I do?

108267663_8Whew-boy. That’s a tough one. I wish I knew. I write stories that appeal to me. I’m aware they don’t work for everyone. Sometimes I wish my own thought processes were a little more mainstream.:-) I’m aware that I’m your basic mid-list author and that I will never rise to NYT bestseller status. The idea of writing outside the M/M genre is stemming from a desire to try my hand at something new, but also because I like the idea of challenging myself to create a heroine I can admire. One that goes against some of the common tropes. One of the reasons I enjoying writing M/M romance is because there is something incredibly liberating about writing from a male point of view. I love the fact that when two male characters come together in a romance, they meet on equal terms. No one is dominant or submissive to the needs of the other (unless that is part of the story). They each bring different things to the table. They each take turns rescuing or being the one needing to be rescued. The best part? While I may be called upon to defend my right as a straight woman to write M/M romance, I’ve never been taken to task for the portrayal of the characters themselves.

I *adore* strong female characters. Give me the Zoe from Firefly, or Peggy Carter from Captain America, or Kate Beckett from Castle. Creating a heroine of my own that I like and respect will be tricky, though. Heroines seem to come in for a lot more criticism than heroes. If she stands up for herself, she’s a bitch. If she is vulnerable, she’s weak. If she sleeps with the hero without a major show of reluctance and some resistance that needs to be broken down, she’s a slut. If she doesn’t sleep with the hero at all, she’s a tease. I think it is very difficult to write a three dimensional female character without inviting the world to heap coals of fire on her head for failing to meet the mythical standard of womanly perfection. You know that cell they had you study in biology class? With the nucleolus and the ribosomes and the Golgi bodies? Do you remember that in the fine print, the textbook said that no cell contained all the parts we were studying? They just put them all in this one imaginary cell so that you could learn all the different parts possible in a cell.

That’s how it is with heroines. It is ridiculous to assume they will contain ALL the possible characteristics that go into making the perfect heroine. No matter how you create her, someone’s going to hate what you’ve done. That’s okay. As long as I love her, I won’t mind.

So yeah. There are days when I dream of writing a ridiculously runaway bestseller like 50 Shades of Gray. Sadly, that kind of story doesn’t interest me as a reader or a writer. I’d die happy if I created a series heroine I adored, though.

Black ShoesAnd I love shoes. 🙂 So, creating my own kick-ass heroine makes sense, right? I can give her the impeccable style I don’t have.

4. How does my writing process work?

Well, it usually starts with a ‘what if’ idea. What if rooftop gargoyles came to life every night? What if they were fascinated by humans, read their books, observed their activities? Or what if a vampire decided to shun his old existence and attempt to live life as a moral? What if a hard-ass FBI agent accidentally touched an artifact and developed paranormal powers? I LOVE ‘what if’ questions. They take my mind on a wild journey where improbable dangers and cheesily romantic things happen. I play around with these ideas for a while, daydreaming over chores or before I drift off to sleep at night. Eventually the characters take form and I tone down the more ludicrous aspects of my fantasy. And lo, a story is born. 🙂

So there you have it! Now I’m going to some fabulous authors to answer the same questions next week on their own blogs and tag more authors themselves. And so on, and so on. Sometime during the first week of September, check out the blogs of Raine O’Tierney, Whitley Gray, Elizabeth Noble, and Eden Winters–and find out who they are tagging, too!

Cover Reveal & Giveway: Americana Fairy Tale by Lex Chase

I love cover reveals! I’m anxiously awaiting my own cover for my soon-to-be-released M/M romance, Walk a Mile. Waiting for a cover is like waiting for the doctor to tell you if you’re having a boy or a girl: you’ll love your child no matter what, but the anticipation is killing you! Fortunately, you won’t have to wait for Lex Chase’s latest cover reveal! Better yet, you can pre-order the story AND if any of you are going to Gay Rom Lit,print copies of both Americana Fairy Tales and Chasing Sunrise qualify for free shipping to the convention so you can get Lex to autograph them there. Be sure to check out the rafflecopter giveaway  at the end of the post! AmericanaFairyTaleFS

 

Americana Fairy Tale
by Lex Chase

Genre: M/M Fairy Tale Urban Fantasy
Length: Novel, 340 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Blurb

Modern fairy-tale princess Taylor Hatfield has problems. One: He’s a guy. Two: His perfect brother Atticus is the reincarnation of Snow White. Three: Taylor has no idea which princess he is supposed to be. Four: Taylor just left his prince (a girl) at the altar. Despite his enchanted lineage, Taylor is desperate to find his Happily Ever After away from magic, witches, and stuffy traditions. Regrettably, destiny has other plans for him. Dammit.

When word reaches Taylor that Idi the Witchking has captured Atticus, Taylor is determined to save his brother. He enlists the help of rakish and insufferable Corentin Devereaux, likewise of enchanted lineage. A malicious spell sends Taylor and Corentin on a road trip through the kitschy nostalgia of roadside Americana. To save Atticus, they must solve the puzzles put forth by Idi the Witchking. As they struggle, Taylor and Corentin’s volatile partnership sparks a flash of something more. But princesses have many enemies, and Taylor must keep his wits about him because there’s nothing worse than losing your heart… or your head.

 

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Pre-order from Dreamspinner Press in eBook and Paperback

Available September 12th, 2014

Paperbacks ordered through Dreamspinner Press qualifies for Free Shipping to GRL for pick-up!

Use code: GRL2014

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Excerpt

 

Still flustered and confused, with no time to contemplate what had just come over him, Corentin tossed out his hand and gestured to the open road. “Do you see signs for I-85 North anywhere, genius?”

“Man, you’re really bitchy,” Ringo said, crossing his arms. “Have enough water today? Hydration is important.”

“Why should I trust you anyway? You could be getting us lost on purpose,” Taylor said. There was a sneer in his tone, and he glared in the rearview. “I’m not counting out we nearly died three seconds ago.”

“I was avoiding a tire in the road,” Corentin lied. “And I am not getting us lost.” His irritation grew as he tried to puzzle through everything that had just transpired. “I’m keeping my promise. You’re useless to me, so we’re going to go save your brother and kill Idi instead.”

“Woooooah,” Ringo said, holding up his hands in surrender. “You didn’t tell me this was Idi we were up against.”

“Someone fill me in,” Taylor said in a demanding tone.

Corentin gritted his teeth. Just like all princesses, Taylor was a pretty spoiled brat. “Idi is the Witchking,” Corentin said simply. He braced himself for the oncoming flurry of questions. Which he wouldn’t know how to answer in the simplest of terms.

“Idi’s bad juju,” Ringo said. “The worst of all witches.”

“And we’re going to kill him?” Taylor asked.

Corentin caught him arching a brow and making a doubtful expression in the rearview. “That’s the plan.”

“And save Atticus,” Taylor said.

That’s the plan,” Corentin repeated tersely.

“What’s in it for you?” Taylor asked. Something in his tone suggested his mistrust had hit its limit.

Before Corentin could come up with an expert lie, he was unfortunately saved by the GPS popping with sizzles and showering sparks over the cabin of the truck. Ringo zipped behind the passenger seat, and Taylor yelped in a half squeal. The truck fishtailed over two lanes and came dangerously close to clipping a car. Corentin acted fast, ripping the melting device from its dash mount and chucking it out the window. Taylor turned to look out the back window, and Corentin caught the bright orange flame as the thing exploded like a grenade.

When the spots cleared from Corentin’s eyes, he muttered a curse under his breath as the truck passed from a clear division of daylight into the dead of night. He clicked the headlights on and waited for his eyes to adjust.

“What the hell is going on?” Taylor asked, leaning up to the back window.

“Idi’s fucking with us,” Corentin said. “It seems like he’s trying to delay us as much as possible.”

“He knows we’re onto him,” Taylor said. “Way to go for discussing the super-secret squirrel plan out loud.”

“You know…,” Corentin said, glaring in the rearview. “You are a lot more pleasant when you’re passed out, snoring.”

Taylor huffed. “I don’t snore.”

“You bleat like a dying hyena,” Ringo said, then spit a giggle.

Taylor’s attention snapped to the pixie. “What is this? Asshole day?”

Corentin caught his eerie pink glare in the rearview.

“Dude, just get off at the nearest exit. We should be near Birmingham by now.”

“All right, all right,” Corentin said, and it was a pleasant reprieve that Taylor kept his mouth shut for more than five minutes. It didn’t last.

“Hey, hey!” Taylor said and pointed at a green-and-white interstate exit sign in the distance. “Talladega! Turn here. I can get us to Atlanta from here. We’re not that far off.”

Corentin guided the truck up the exit ramp and frowned. Something was wrong—flat-topped mesas came into view.

“What the…?” Taylor whispered and watched the rolling dunes of the Painted Desert.

“Uuuh…,” Ringo added and pressed himself to the windshield. The occasional cactus whisked by. “Wow, Talladega’s having a hard time with the drought this season,” Ringo said through their awestruck silence.

“That’s not a drought,” Corentin said softly.

Taylor squinted into the distance. “Does ‘Welcome to Arizona, the Grand Canyon State’ answer your question?”

Ringo pasted his face to the windshield. “How do you even see—” Ringo squeaked when the state sign of Arizona blurred by. “Oh my Storyteller!”

Corentin remained tense, trying to get his thoughts together.

Taylor, however, seemed to not be able to resist blurting out his opinion. “It seems this Eddie guy is doing more than just fucking with us.”

Idi,” Corentin said and realized how terse he sounded. “I think he wants to do more than just delay us.”

Ringo peeled himself from the windshield. He slapped his hands to his cheeks in horror. “He wants us to die out here?” he croaked.

“Panicking is not going to help,” Corentin said firmly.

“Easy for you to say,” Taylor snapped. “We just need to stop somewhere and ask for directions. We’ll get back on the right road in no time.”

Corentin sighed. Taylor’s hope was admirable, but Ringo was only half right. They would die out here, but only one of them. This was Corentin’s first trial. Now he was here, in the middle of nowhere, with Taylor to do with what he will. As soon as that was over, Idi would release him and he’d be on his way, but only until the next time Idi summoned him to do his bidding.

They drove on, again in a long-hanging silence. The interstate lay barren, not a single car or scrap of civilization to be seen. The pavement bore veins of black tar from years of shoddy repair. Corentin caught Taylor’s pink gaze in the rearview, and his feral eyes seemed to gleam in the dark.

The princess shifted from one side of the backseat to the other. He seemed to look for anything that would help. He cupped his hands around the glass and peeked out into the night. “I can’t see anything out there. It’s just desert,” Taylor muttered.

Ringo turned to Corentin, “How are we on ga—”

Don’t say it!” Corentin and Taylor shouted in unison.

Ringo held up his hands and pursed his lips. “Got it…. Uh… why?”

“I assume Eddie is listening in to everything,” Taylor said.

Idi,” Corentin corrected Taylor again. “I think sir princess is right. It seems the second we’ve said anything, something’s gone wrong.”

Ringo fluttered over to the dash and rested his chin in his palm. “You know… it could be all a coincidence….”

Corentin and Taylor glared angrily at Ringo in silence while the hum of the pavement whooshed as Corentin drove.

Ringo waved his hands. “By Titania’s tatas, guys, I was just kidding!”

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Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the author

 

LXC_FlamesLex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting too.

Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure and epic love—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes if you’re going to going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.

Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine now residing in the burbs of Northwest Florida, where it could be 80F and she’d still be a popsicle.

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.

You can find in the Intarwebz here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/westbaylen
I love cover reveals! I am anxiously awaiting the cover for my own soon-to-be-released story, Walk a Mile, and I liken it to waiting to find out if you’re having a boy or a girl. You’ll love your child no matter what, but the anticipation is killing you, right?

Fortunately, you won’t have to wait any longer to see the cover for Lex Chase’s new story because here it is!

 

Ramping up for the release of Walk a Mile: Giveaways Galore!

UnspeakableWordscoverToday I got the galley proofs for Walk a Mile, which means I’m in the final stages of the editing process–yay! I am anxiously awaiting my first glimpse at the cover–I know it will be fantastic!  I’ve been fortunate to have the best names in the business create covers for me: Paul Richmond, Reese Dante, Ann Cain… I know that whatever the artist comes up with will be marvelous, but it’s a bit like waiting to find out if your baby will be a boy or a girl. You’ll be thrilled with either, but you want to *know*. 🙂

 

Walk a Mile is the second in The Sixth Sense series, and is the sequel to Unspeakable Words. There has been a long delay between the first and second book in the series, so I think reminders are in order! Special Agents John Flynn and Jerry Parker are about as opposite as you can get. Parker is by the book because he can quote the book chapter and verse, while Flynn is the lone wolf who gets the job done by any means necessary. Sparks fly when the two men are assigned to a cold case and their investigative styles clash. Accidental contact with a mysterious artifact in a museum changes everything, forcing Flynn to rely on Parker while he tries to make sense of what’s happened to him. The artifact has bestowed inexplicable powers on Flynn, and now he must live with them.

Walk a Mile picks up six months later. Flynn’s extrasensory abilities are the elephant in the room, straining the relationship between the two men. The discovery of an artifact similar to the first one sends Flynn and Parker back to Flynn’s old stomping grounds in an effort to reverse the terrible ‘gift’ he’s been given. But they aren’t the only ones looking for the artifact, and there are secrets in Flynn’s past best left buried… Walk a Mile will be released in early October 2014 by Dreamspinner Press.

Tomorrow, I’m one of the authors participating in the Reader Appreciation Day over on the Sweet Spot. One lucky winner will receive a copy of Unspeakable Words. Here are the details:

RAD_08_2014_Banner_01When: Saturday, August 16th from 8 am – 8 pm Eastern Time

Where: The Sweet Spot Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheSweetSpotMM)The following authors have generously donated these books or other prizes:
Fall into LoveI’ve also got a blog spot over on Jessica Skye Davies’s  site tomorrow–do drop in and find out why it took me so long to write this sequel, as well as read an excerpt from Unspeakable Words. In the next month, I’ll be hosting authors Susan Mac Nicol, Kindle Alexander, Chris T. Kat, and Bee Snow here on this site, and I’ll be doing spots on Guys Like Romance, Too, Wade Kelly’s site, and Dawn’s Reading Nook, as well. Also in September, I’ll be participating in The Romance Reviews Fall into Love celebration with over 100 participating authors (and prizes to be won)! Grand Prize is a $100 gift card. 🙂
I’m sure I’m leaving something out–it’s been that kind of day. But rest assured, I’ll probably be posting about all this again as I get a cover to reveal and a release date. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to an early fall!
BookDonation_DSPsiteAlso, from now until the end of the month, Dreamspinner Press is donating a book to a LGBTQ Youth Center for every $20 spent at DSP! So now’s your chance to stock up on stories from your favorite authors while helping to donate to a worthy cause! What are you waiting for, hmmm?

 

 

Tougher Than You Think You Are…

Rosie the RiveterI’m not one typically given to having epiphanies.

My shifts in perspective tend not to come in a sudden toppling of brick and mortar, allowing me to see a path that was previously closed to me. I don’t usually pop up crying ‘Eureka!’ at a radical alteration of thought patterns. Things are more likely to percolate through my subconscious, rising slowly to the surface where they occasionally escape the treacle of my thoughts. When it happens with a story, it’s delightful, and I hurry to grab my notebook and jot the ideas down before I lose my grasp of their ephemeral nature.

But sometimes, my thoughts coalesce into one big bubble that bursts through the surface tension in my brain and I get that bright light bulb moment.

This morning started out in a typical fashion for me. I woke, recognizing that my To-Do list for the day was far too ambitious (as usual) and that I would have to eliminate all but the most important things to accomplish even a tenth of what I had planned. I got my final edits for Walk a Mile in my inbox last night–working on that has to take priority today.

I resisted the urge to sleep in that extra half hour and took the dog for a run in the forest instead. We have to get out early to beat the heat these days. It had rained during the night, and the air was as steamy as a tropical jungle as we left the house this morning. When we reached the top of the mountain, it was shrouded in fog. We were the only ones on the access road as we drove into the National Forest. I let H out of the car and put on my hiking boots. We started walking down the road toward the trails.

Wooden Bridge and HSpending some time outdoors, preferably each day, is absolutely necessary to my mental health. Watching the dog frisk ahead of me on the trail makes me smile, and often my mind is free to brainstorm on my stories. Frequently, I take pictures of wildflowers, the dog, and anything else that I want to capture as a digital memory. It’s all very low key and imminently soothing. I consider trail time vital, in other words.

So here we were, enjoying the summer morning, while I thought about what I was going to do with the rest of my day. Keeping one eye on the dog, I went over my To-Do list, planning the best way to get the most accomplished. I also spent some time thinking about my writing in general, and where I wanted to go with it in the future. Which stories to work on next. What was tugging at my heart to begin and where the path might take me on down the line.

H’s head suddenly came up, and he went very stiff. I tried to make out what caught his attention–a jogger? A deer? Either way, I needed to call him to me before whatever it was made its way around the corner. Normally, H has an excellent recall, and he was on his way back to me when a black bear ambled into view.

black bearI think the bear and I both had an ‘oh shit’ moment at the same instant. It was a young adult, about the size of a large calf. Probably last year’s cub now out on its own, though I couldn’t be sure there wasn’t a Mama Bear somewhere around. No, I didn’t take this picture! But that’s what he looked like! 🙂

H glanced back to see the bear standing in the path and took off like an arrow after it. Silently. The silent part is important, because when H chases a deer, he shrieks with excitement the entire time. Not so with the bear. He flew like a guided missile straight at the bear, and the very silence of his movement bore witness to his intensity of purpose. I knew it. The bear knew it, too. He turned tail and ran.

I ran, too, after my dog, bellowing his name and shouting, “Leave it! Leave it!” as I chased him down. All I had to defend him was a dog leash–I snatched it out of my back pocket and folded it so I could leash-whip the bear if needed. Fortunately I didn’t have to pull a bear off my dog–H came trotting back to me with what could only be described as an extremely smug look on his face. The bear had taken to his heels and kept running.

Flat Topped MushroomDeciding to head back to the car in case there were bigger, less cowardly bears out there, I spied a cool mushroom on the side of the trail and stopped to take this picture of it with my cell phone.

Then it hit me. Less than three minutes before, I’d just encountered a bear for the first time in my life. I’d been prepared to beat it with my dog’s leash if necessary to separate it from my dog. And here I was, casually snapping pictures with my cell phone. I recalled last year how I trapped a copperhead that was in the camp and safely transported it to the other side of the river (you try wading in waist-high freezing water with a copperhead in a trash can, it’s not as easy as it sounds). That’s when it dawned on me that I’m a lot tougher than I think I am.

In that moment, I realized that I will always have options because I am a lot tougher than I think I am. I’ve always been brave when it comes to physical things–I’ve always trusted my body to do what I’ve asked of it, which is one reason I’m taking its defection over the last few years kind of hard. Where my courage has been lacking is in all other areas. Believing that there is value in what I bring to to the table, be it in writing, or work, or love. In that moment, however, I went from “You’re tougher than you think you are” to “I’m tough.”

I knew then I could do it. Because not two seconds after the words ‘I’m tough’ hit my brain, I heard myself saying, “You don’t have to life a conventional life.” And you know what? I don’t. Not that I live a conventional life anyway, but hells bells, I might as well go for broke, right?

Micro HouseI can do whatever is necessary. So my crappy little house disintegrates around me because I can’t afford the massive repairs necessary to make it safe? Fine. I have a couple of acres. I can build one of those micro-houses and I’ll be better off than if I pour any more money into the financial black hole that I currently live in. Hell, I could even plant a garden next year. I know the thought of growing and cooking my own food makes those of you who know me well laugh, and yes, I’ll probably suck at it, but if I have to, I know I can.

It’s not the actual circumstances that are as demoralizing as the crushing fear that there will never be any way out of them. I’ve always been the Queen of Worst Case Scenarios, and they’ve had the power to shackle me my entire life. But nothing that I’m going through is as bad as what I imagine it could be. I was ready to take on a bear this morning. I can take on the world.

I can do this. I’ve got it covered. I’m tough.

 

 

A short Halloween Scene with the boys from Crying for the Moon

jackolanternTalk about embarrassing! I’d completely forgotten that my post as part of Merissa McCain‘s Paranormal Month was up today until I got emails and tweets about it! *redface*

I’ve been swamped with obligations recently, definitely a case of biting off more than I could chew. It’s a problem I struggle with on a frequent basis. Right now, I’m gearing up for a major blog tour–I’ve written 8 blog posts and done 3 interviews for it, and I still have interviews and blog posts to host here. All while writing the sequel to Unspeakable Words, which is tentatively titled Walk A Mile. I broke the 50 K mark on it yesterday, and have at least 30 K to go. I’m hoping to get it done by the end of November as sort of an unofficial Nano project. 🙂

But it has made me very lax about joining in on conversations here and there, especially in cases like Paranormal Month, and in some of my friend’s blog tours. Susan MacNicol is touring with her newest bestselling M/M romance, Saving Alexander, and will be stopping by here later in November. I’m also hosting Draven St. James‘s new release Scent of a Wolf in early November. So, yeah, I probably shouldn’t have taken on something else on top of that! I love October, however, and Halloween. I love fall leaves and glowing pumpkins (and everything pumpkin, for that matter!). I love tall boots and leather coats and the hint of mystery in the air. It’s hard for me to refuse something like Paranormal Month! I’ve been terribly remiss about commenting on other people’s posts on Merissa’s blog, however, so I can’t expect people to turn out for mine. You’d be doing me a big favor if you’d go check them out, though!

CryingMoon_pr2And if you’d like to read a little short scene I wrote last year featuring Alex and Tate from Crying for the Moon, that’s posted here today. Crying for the Moon was a recommended read by jessewave reviews for August 2011, and a winner of a Recommend Read Award by Coffee Times Romance. It also was first runner-up in the Love Romances and More Golden Rose Awards for 2011 for best paranormal romance. Recently it was listed as one of the top 15 paranormal M/M romances written in the last three years by review Lasha for jessewave.There are two sequels planned, you know, in my copious free time. 😉

Which is why I plan to downscale my activity here and abroad until I can get some of these stories written!

 

The Best Way to Sell Stories is to Feed the Beast…

I’ve had better mornings. I had to meet a client with an emergency on my day off, and I just got a phone call from the garage where I left my car for inspection and I’m going to need $700 worth of work in order to pass. I went to make ‘feel sorry for me’ cheese and garlic biscuits for a late breakfast, and I discovered I was all out of biscuit mix. And stuck at home with no car.

BrowniesI made brownies instead.

Yeah, it’s been that kind of morning. Well, week, really. Okay, month.

As of today, I will have spent over $1400 on the car this month to keep it running–last week, I had a flat tire on the way to work that necessitated buying an entire new set without being able to shop around for the best price. I’ve been trying my best to get new health insurance coverage but the national website is such a piece of crap that not even my IT boyfriend can get my identity verified. A word of advice, GOP. If you’d just shut up and sat on your hands a bit longer (like you normally do) you wouldn’t have had to shut down the government to stop Obamacare. The website alone will do that and you wouldn’t have terminally shot yourself in the foot in the meantime.

Too bad I’d rather that the GOP shot itself in the foot AND that I had health care coverage. I have until Nov 1 to get through on the national site and pick another plan, or else I will be forced to decide whether to let my coverage go or sell a body part in order to pay my premium. Because yeah, the car and the health care payment cost roughly the same.

Which is why, though I don’t plan on making a habit of it, brownies for lunch seemed like a fine idea to me.

Because sometimes, you just need chocolate. As usual, this got me thinking about writing (What? Doesn’t *everything* lead to writing in the end?) and what kind of ‘food’ I provide. Nourishing? Not hardly. But will it get you through a bad day? Yes. Oh yes.

I thought about the emails I’ve received from readers who tell me that reading my stories helps take them out of themselves for a few hours, to make them unaware of the pain for a while, be it physical or emotional. These are people who hurt all the time. Some have chronic injuries or illnesses. Others struggle to work full time jobs and care for ailing parents, or small children, or both. Others have just had a crappy day in which the boss yelled at them again, or they found out their hours are being cut.

Sometimes you just need a plate of brownies, still gooey from the warm oven. Sometimes you need a story that won’t necessarily challenge your brain, even if it makes you think. A story that hurts so good when you’re reading it, but you know it’s going to turn out all right in the end and that’s the whole reason you picked up this book by this author because that’s exactly what you needed right now. Dialog with sparks to make you laugh and care about these characters, and an ending that feels just like that warm brownie now residing in your stomach. Yeah. Like that.

I was talking with my critique group this past weekend, and the subject of making a living as writers came up. In short, there seems to be only two ways of doing so. You either get lucky and have a runaway bestseller like 50 Shades of Grey, or you write a lot, publish often, build a loyal readership–and feed them. Feed them often.

Just this morning, I was speaking with someone on Facebook about the likelihood of my making it to one of the writer’s conventions this year, and the answer is no, it’s not likely.  I can’t justify the cost in terms of return on investment. As much as I would love to go to one of the big conventions (or hell, even a little one!) I simply can’t afford it right now. Where I need to concentrate my time is on the next book, the next story. If I’m only producing one story a year, no one is even going to remember my name. Time enough to worry about networking (and just plain having a blast!) when I have something to promote.

Now wait a minute! I can hear you saying, “No, no, Sarah, you’re doing it all wrong! Networking is how you build your audience!” Well, yes and no. I can tell you right now that if I had back the hours I spent frittering around on Facebook, Twitter, Live Journal andTumblr, I could have written another novel this year. Granted, I frittered away that time in part because I wasn’t in a mind-set to do any real writing, but frittering is an insidious habit. It’s addictive, this social media thing. This desire to always be in connection with people all over the world more than the people in the same room with you. And when I was writing fanfic, I produced a novella a month–and did no promotion at all. People found my work because they told each other about it and I made friends with them *after* they found my work. So yeah, I think the key here to making the party happy is to keep baking brownies.

Spring Porch CatsI’ve written on the subject before, but I came across another good post on writing more and talking less. Actually, I might get my own words put to the test in the near future as I find myself with more time than ever to write and not enough money to pay the bills. It’s going to be interesting times around here, folks, in the Chinese curse sort of way. I’m still relatively calm about it, but that may be because I am full of brownies at the moment. 🙂 Still, I think it is important for me to pull back now and take my own advice on writing more and talking less. Making more brownies, so to speak. Putting out plates of food for the hungry fans and feeding them. Heck, you don’t ever have to LOOK for stray cats. They show up, you feed them, and more appear. I think that’s how it’s really done. 🙂

The Boys of Summer400x600It could also be because I found out today that the cover for The Boys of Summer has made it to round three of voting in the Rainbow Cover Awards! Well, look at it, it’s a fabulous cover, right? It deserves to keep going! So trot over to the website and look at all the lovely covers and vote for your favorites! You might even find some books to add to your TBR list–I know I have! This contest is for covers only, this is separate from the 2013 Rainbow Awards, for which The Boys of Summer is also a finalist! The winners on that awards list will be announced sometime in December.

Merissa McCain‘s Paranormal Month continues with guest posts from various authors. I’ve been sadly remiss in participating here; I feel badly about this, but I am terribly over-committed at the moment. I’ve been furiously writing blog posts and answering interview questions for my blog tour that starts in December–I have so much to do before my deadlines! Here are the latest links on her website, however. Do go and join in the conversations over there. You’d be doing me a big favor! The newest posts are from Jordan K. Rose and Jane Wakely. I have a post coming up on Oct 30th, if you’re keeping track.

UnspeakableWordsThe other bit of ‘make me smile’ news is that I received a wonderful review for Unspeakable Words by Christy Duke for The Rainbow Book Reviews! One of the delightful things she said was that she hoped for a sequel! Well, I’m working hard on that as we speak. I’m about halfway through the first draft and let me tell you, I’ve done terrible things to the boys. *rubs hands together evilly* But rest assured, like that plate of brownies, Walk a Mile will leave you with a warm feeling in the end.

But in order to get there, I need to write. That’s been hard for me this past year, but it is getting easier. The  more I work at it, the easier it gets, like getting water to flow from a rusty pipe. You might not want to drink it at first, but eventually it runs cool and clear. So yeah, less talk. More writing. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you. It means I want to hear less from me.

At least, not until I have something cool to say. 😉