On SALE this WEEKEND!

Well, I'm totally excited that SquareSpace has a new Campaign Feature. I've been using Mailchimp a long time, and after the permissions debacle of 2018, I'm just fed up with how much they are limiting my ability to put out meaningful content. When I want to. There is always a fluctuation in the newsletter part of the business. People join because they want a freebie, or maybe they sign up during a party in hopes of winning a prize. A month or so down the road, they'll unsubscribe. 

With every newsletter I put out, I gain a few and lose a few subscribers. And when I lose subscribers, Mailchimp tags that as a negative, or spam. No one likes losing subscribers, but it happens. Even I unsubscribe at times, especially when I'm just not interested in the topic anymore. 

I'm curious to see how the new feature over here develops. I've already had a great conversation with a Squarespace Rep about the feature and what I would want/need...like being able to send out a "thank you" after someone subscribes. And with the thank you, a copy of a digital book. It's in the works!  This stretches my brain and makes me think of alternative means of reaching my readers. Never a bad thing!! 

I'm 100% impressed with SquareSpace. I've been with them for a few years [or more?]. My sister recommended them to me. And I have not been sorry...not even one little time. Not even a smidge. Customer service and their reps are worth their weight in gold... and if one happens to be really skinny, maybe worth more than their weight in gold. 

Oh!! The SALE!! Right, so I created a campaign that I will send out tomorrow morning. And I put the entire Hawk Elite Security Series on sale. So, if you haven't, subscribe to my newsletter [this includes the list from Mailchimp, so if you signed up over there, you are signed up over here]. And then run over to Amazon and grab Strike Back for FREE and books two, three, and four for only $.99....or you could gift them! :D

What do you Write?

The conundrum, the struggle, is real. The indecision can be paralyzing. There's the pressure to go in so many different directions...

1. follow the market   2. give in to the daughter's demands for that YA   3. track the temptations to write a thriller   4. finish the series   5. continue the series  

Ack! At the bottom of it all, is there a right answer? I don't think so. But there are better answers. 

For example, I can't move in the direction of the YA. As much as I love the story idea of time travel, my career has been adult romance, contemporary and suspense. Would it be smart to move in a new direction at such a newbie stage of my career? Doesn't matter that I've been writing for 14 years and have 8 books published. I'm practically a nobody. I'm not a best-selling author... so the big question would be, what if that happens on my one YA book? What would be the expectations for more? And what would happen to my romances and suspenses?On the other hand, if I end up writing a YA that rocks...would I want to go back? Is the risk worth it? Or do I stick it out in the vein a little while longer and see what's what?

Well, I wish I knew. 

I've had a slow start to the year, working on a novella in order to keep my fingers limber and my brain working. But I will have to move on eventually. And I'm still not sure which door to pick. 

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Happy 2018

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2018

Do you ever feel like all you do is spend your time waiting? Waiting for the big break. Waiting for a loved one to come home. Waiting for the coffee to brew! 

Even my characters are waiting--for love, for happily-ever-after, for revenge, for justice. 

And it occurred to me, the story isn't about what happens at the end of the wait. 

No. It's what a person or character does while they are waiting. As an Army wife, I feel this strongly, especially as 2018 starts. We had two moves in two years in a row, and this will be the first year we don't move since 2015. And that's an awesome thing! But it's also means...I'm waiting.

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This hasn't been my most favorite place to live so far and that means I'm subconsciously looking forward to what's to come. Where will we go next? When? It's human nature. It's survival. But, I think it's time for me to really embrace a new routine, here. I don't have to love it here to love the people I'm with, to enjoy the good days, and invest my time in the worthwhile causes around me. 

It's time to find a niche. And you know what??

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That's being a mom. It's being a writer of my books. It's being a friend to the women I work with and share bible study with and laugh with...and even cry with. It means going above and beyond. It means writing a ton. It means going to the extra-curricular activities--the plays and sporting events and doctors appointments [without complaint]. It means learning something new and maybe visiting that one museum I still haven't made it to.

I'm not going anywhere for the next year...

So watch me fly!!

With Love,

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When a book makes you Mad:

I usually refrain from leaving negative reviews. Believe me. I know how it feels to get those. Not nice! And sometimes, they are completely crazy off the wall, like "did you even read the book?" So, I didn't leave a review. I internalized what I'd read...over and over for several hours. The book made me roll my eyes, groan, get defensive, and then--eventually--made me mad. 

But after running through the emotions of dislike, I got to a point where I'd processed enough to see a bigger picture...and I wondered, How does a fiction novel influence our decisions? 

My own conscience feels a responsibility to the reader. 

1. not to be too biased or one-sided: double-edged sword here in today's world.

2. do my research

The book I stopped reading yesterday had some immature moments, some moments of disbelief. I can take all of that, but then the author stepped up onto a platform for mental health. The move surprised me and made me hesitate. I tepidly kept reading, wondering what she was going to do next. 

And then I got mad. Because the author presented the use of drugs as a good, normal way to fix a problem, when all the reading and research I've done...the talking to other people...has left me feeling completely uncertain [please note, I didn't say 'left me feeling like it was wrong for everyone']. The side effects can be harsh and far-reaching: from headaches to suicide.  

And then--the icing on the cake--the author compared the use of these drugs with a Type I Diabetic using insulin. And it didn't matter that I was a breath away from finishing the book. I didn't finish. 

T1D is NOT a mental disorder, to be determined based on talking about things. It's a disease. A person with T1D is BROKEN. Without insulin, a T1D will DIE. So, tell me how that's the same as this hero having a temper he can't control and taking mind-altering drugs? 

I couldn't relate at all. I felt the author glossed over the reality of using SSRI [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors], and it made me sad for people who won't do the research on the drugs or who are being pressured to use it, who might actually be influenced by--yes--a romance novel. 

I think I could have taken the presentation of the SSRI in the story, if there had been more... conflict, less of a stance or platform in how it was shown in the story. And definitely, it would have been key to not have the use of SSRI compared to the use of insulin. 

Writing books is a hard business. It's often that we--authors--will offend someone or write a point of view that differs from a readers beliefs. There's nothing wrong with differing beliefs--usually. And maybe that means there is nothing wrong with the book I didn't finish. Maybe for some it offered hope! And they left the story filled with a good feeling. 

I felt sad. And I felt convicted to be more careful... but also, to be truer to my values in my own books. :) So, I'm ending this thought process with acceptance toward this author's mistakes. It didn't make me happy. It ticked me off. I think she should have done more research and made a better show of....life.

But, I'm not mad anymore--processing things will do that! And I feel better because I've had my say, which is what blogging is for, right? 

The Characters of Strike Zone

Book Three is about to be released! I've spent all weekend reading a book, one that has me--of course--studying technique, looking at character development. I admit, I've become a reader who also picks a little bit. To learn, though! Not just to be critical, although sometimes that does go hand-in-hand. And recently, the topic of Characterization came up in my writing group, and it got me thinking.

So, as I thought about characters this weekend, I noted two things.

One from my reading:

The conflict in the book created unnatural reactions in the characters. When it came right down to it, I disliked the heroine for her cold attitude in the first scene...but mostly, it seemed that her thoughts [as the author tried to 'show' the story] and her actions weren't realistic. She was stuck in a Russian blizzard, needing rescue! Why is she thinking she should try to bring up a past and resolve anything? Why is she thinking at all beyond, 'Thank God. You rescued me. Please don't hate me too much to save my life.' So there were a few other instances where the author was trying to maintain sexual tension by NOT having the couple hook up too soon, and created conflict. But again, it just felt off, especially since the characters were both young, healthy, attractive, sexually active, and 'hot for each other'. As an author, reading this book, the conflict felt too contrived. 

This is where characterization can play a huge part! Because if even one of those characters wasn't the horny, sex-impulsive type, then...I could have believed they were holding back as a natural occurence! 

Two, from my own writing:

Last week I finished revisions on Book Three of my Hawk Elite Security series, and it's the first full-length novel that has no sex in it. Before I started revisions, this book had the expected 2-3 love scenes. As I went through on the revisions, the sex kept NOT happening. Believe me, I wanted it to happen! I understand the satisfaction of seeing a couple through even this very private part of their relationship. It's what romance readers are looking for... emotional connections. But no, I had a character. And do you know what my character's nickname on the teams is? 

Fr. John. Because he's conservative in his dating life, because no one is quite certain if he's had sex or not... is he a virgin? Does he even date anymore? He hasn't--in a long time--and that's what made his story. So, wouldn't it be odd to have him suddenly be a lady's man? a Don Juan? I think it would. It wouldn't be in character. 

I had a heroine who was ready to go, and she did her own pondering on why this guy wasn't going to have sex with her. But even my heroine had been living alone for a few years, sort of in hiding from herself and the world. So, even for her to jump right in would have been a little off-reality.

I write romance, and I know the possibility of disappointing readers with a book that has no sex in it. But, I just couldn't get beyond my characters. John was raised a certain way. He's not perfect. He's NOT a virgin [cuz, hello, college is a bed of sowing wild oats and living a little rebelliously], but he's celibate, and has been for a few years. Because he knows, he wants the whole thing. All of it, and he isn't going to settle for less, or cheat the next woman he's attracted to by leading her on. 

If you get a chance to read Strike Zone, please come back and tell me what you think. Part of me loves this story, because the sexual tension is so darn high. Part of me wishes I'd left the sex in there because it's satisfying...

But in the end, I left the tone of the book up to the characters.

And if you like things a little hotter, stay tuned for book 4, Strike Force. Oh boy. That's a different story completely! 

Big News

The End

I thought I'd start off at the end. The two sweetest words written...

75+K words in two months and nineteen days. With two whole days before deadline. Which means I have time to do a read through today and tomorrow before I hand it over to my editor. This is the joy of writing, the glamour,...what every author looks to when they say with pride, "I am an author."

...and in a last effort to get it through every thick skull out there. READ YOUR CONTRACTS!! Your contract is a living breathing thing. It should be understood and then negotiated in your favor as best as possible. When you give your publisher rights to a book, it should include that book, and perhaps stories that come from that particular world... do NOT--even by oversight--give your publisher the rights to "any works of similar nature" for the length of your contract.

Let the limits be clear! Because if you are unhappy with said publisher [I don't mean Entangled, btw, in case you know me and anything about my publishers. I luuurve Entangled], you will be stuck. You might make almost no money. Communication might be nonexistent and you might feel like you have been dropped in a black hole. But if you are an ethical person, you will follow the rules and be confined to what is in your contract. If those terms aren't in your favor, if what is in your head no longer belongs to you... [think about that, aspiring authors!] ...you could go a long time without writing a single word.

Three years is too, too long a time to hold onto the joy of writing, waiting for that moment when you can finally let it loose again. Strike Force is the release of years of repressed creativity. And, I think it might be the best book I've ever written. You know how you read a series and by the time you get to book four, you're starting to question whether the author is still on board with the series or if the author has gotten lazy and bored? 

This is not going to happen to you when you read Strike Force. Wait for it!! Coming this fall.


Other Big News

Don't miss The Romance Reviews 6th Anniversary Celebration, going on this month!! There are Daily Quiz Games, Cover Match Up, Featured Authors, and of course, BOOKS!! Lots of books, being given away.

TRR has been giving us reasons to read for 6 years! They have been faithful reviewers of my books over the years--give me top pick once, too! So, head over, if you have a few minutes. I'm giving away a $5 Amazon Gift Card for my Quiz Question about Strike Fear. 

 CLICK HERE!

CLICK HERE!

Military Moves

The Military Life

We've been lucky...blessed. Our first duty station was a four year stay. That's pretty unusual. Two years, three years tops, is normal. So, we've been blessed.

But we've also grown roots. Four years is definitely a long time, knowing a move is imminent. Too long to avoid deep friendships. Not that we do that... but let's be honest, I'm an introvert, so holing up for a couple years is not a problem for me. I like things quiet. 

It's really hard to leave Colorado Springs, though.

Because Cindy and Jennie.

Dang! Not fair! How did this happen? What will I do? Who will satisfy the minimal socializing I can handle? Who will laugh with me as we sit in Panera? Who will investigate and speculate on the guy who comes in too often--every time with a different woman, every time as if he's doing an interview?? Is it a ploy? Is he a criminal? 

Who will I make eyes at over my laptop???

I don't know...

All I know is that it's very hard to leave. Because even with Sprint 2.0 on Messenger, it will not be the same again. Not until I can get back to this place I've called home for 4 years. A place that has become home because of the people I've met.

I don't know what I'll do without Starbucks (wine and beer included) and Panera (preachers and cons included). There will be a great void for a while as I fumble around and figure out what the freak to do with myself. :(

Deadlines really get in the Way

Of Blogging.

Of Reading.

Of Eating.

Of Drinking.

Of Playing.

...even, Of Writing.

Don't lose track of that deadline. Keep your focus. Make the short term goals so that the long-term goal doesn't sneak up on you and kill all forward motion of life, in general.

That is all...and now I go back to panicking over the 10 days left to finish this manuscript--at a time when my schedule is ridiculously booked with end-of-the-school-year activities, PCS preparations, travel planning, and all the regular stuff--laundry, housekeeping, kid-loving, hubby-loving, baseball games, etc. :D 

But no worries, I'm going to that baseball game tomorrow night...and you can't force me not to enjoy it. Have a great weekend!

With love,

Beth

Cover Reveal -- Hawk Elite Security

Cover Reveal

Thank you to Elaina Lee at For The Muse Designs. Once again, you have brought my stories to life with a visual depiction that truly is worth a thousand words.... <3 

Strike Back, Nathan and Stacy Hawkins, book 1--a story of revenge, past regrets, and uncertain futures.

Betrayed, Tancredo Byrnes and Elizabeth Witney, book 2--a bodyguard story: trust, acceptance, and finding love amidst dire circumstances.

STAY TUNED THROUGH THIS SUMMER FOR MORE NEWS ABOUT THESE BOOKS AND THIS SERIES.

So flexible...

When I was a kid, I was a gymnast. I could do the splits like nobody's business. Backbends and all sorts of fun, flexible maneuvers. 

I'm still flexible. I can touch my toes--from a standing position--and not fall over! But mostly, my flexibility these days is in adjusting to life's sudden changes.

Just a week ago, I was determined to get up early every morning and write from 0400 to 0600. These are the quiet hours in my house. Do you know what happened? My 19 month old decided waking up early was fun! My middle schooler couldn't get his homework done before 9pm. And there was so much going on...it was impossible to get to bed early enough for me to wake up at that hour. The household went into reject mode over my new idea of ideal. Subconsciously, it was like they all had it out for me. [not that I blame them...not really. Okay, a little]

The thing is, I have a goal. The goal is to reach the goal!! The goal is not to get there a certain way. So, I change things up. Last night, I spent the last hour of my day, working on my shit. It worked. I wrote over 500 words, and took care of a few business items on my list.

I'm going to tiptoe through this change and hope that no one, in God's name, notices that I have started something new! Because heaven help them all if I get to my deadline in May and not have a manuscript that is ready to go to the editor!!! >:( Grrr.

Take on the World

Today I started a new routine. I had one of those weekends  where I got absolutely nothing [that I wanted to] done. Specifically, writing. This came on the heels of a Spring Break, which was spent either taking care of sick kids or being sick. So my plans to get out that week a couple times while the kids weren't busy at school--yes, use them to babysit!--didn't happen. The ski trip that was supposed to be Wednesday was moved to Thursday, and that killed two mornings as well...

After all that, I knew I was in a place where I was going to have to make adjustments. If I want to publish 4 books between November and March, I need to work! One of those books isn't even started, three need revisions and edits. I can't really afford to putz around. 

This morning at 4am, I woke up and worked for an hour and a half. I edited/revised 13 pages and added 800 words. This is a great start to today!! And it makes the quality time I spend with my Littles throughout the day more precious because I won't be distracted and resenting it. 

Real life is busy. And even though I consider writing a part of my 'real life', I must be honest with myself and my calling. I'm a wife and a mother first. That means children, laundry, food, hugs, kisses, tears... all the things that bring heart to my busy world. 

Now, I just have to keep this up. Tomorrow is another day, another start. Discipline is NOT my middle name! But, I'm going to keep going, keep trying. Knowing that I have even an hour's worth of work done every morning should increase my production by 100%. 

What are you doing today to increase your potential for success?

Happy Easter!

Easter.

The preceding 40 days. 

For me, it's time to reflect on life and on my choices. One thing that happens every Lent [those 40 days prior to Easter], is I get smacked in the face by how little discipline I have. Always a struggle for me to give something up! [and don't talk to me about food! As a T1D, i gave up giving up food a long time ago!] When I look at my life as a whole, I see that lack seeps into other areas. Like writing. Am I disciplined enough to sit down and work without checking Facebook and Twitter? Can I reach that goal in one hour or one day? Or do I let distractions stop me?

Even with the best of intentions, I often fail at being disciplined. 

But it's Easter today, and in my house, that means I get to celebrate the fact that it's okay to be imperfect. Even though I will fail over and over, I'm still loved. Getting up, starting over, taking a new road, trying again... that's all I can do. And it's enough. God loves me. My husband loves me. And if you see anything in my books, I hope it is that LOVE. The love that sees beyond faults and quirks and even out-right wrongs.

May the joy of Easter and this gorgeous season of Spring bring you Love.

 

Not High School

Perhaps, as women, we sometimes forget that high school is over. I'm not usually one who gives in to drama, and I won't now. But when I get an email that seems to have its nose in the air, that wants to put me in my place--so to speak, I get annoyed. 

As authors, we can help each other, but we are still competition.

In a way, there's no forgetting that fact. There will always be a little tension. Yet, we must at least be given the benefit of the doubt! Kindness will always go further than a snidey or snarkey comment...even if it's warranted! We don't have to live with rose-colored glasses or be Pollyanna, but maybe we just sit back and do what's important.

Write. And for myself and most of my colleagues... write about LOVE. [I don't like when I have to remind myself of that] So...

ADVICE to you, writer:

1. put down the defenses and pick up a pen

2. 

Nevermind, there is no two. Just get back to work, eh? Because you're an amazing author with a vibrant personality. And you need to write the next book, darn it.

 

Who do you want to be the Winner?

Not a Political Campaign Blogpost

There are a few big epublishers who have been around longer than most. They blazed a trail for so many other small epublishers, some who survived, some who never made it beyond their own magnificent launch.

This past week came an announcement from Samhain that in light of their declining sales and marketability, they would be closed to submissions, launching current projects, and then closing their own doors. They were one of the firsts.

According to the owner, Amazon is negotiating out the little guys. And with self-publishing so prominent, the publishers are finding it harder and harder to make money using retail sites like Amazon. 

As a self-publisher, I can see how that's happening. There are other companies, like iTunes and Apple, who are working their own systems to create an alternative to Amazon. But, let's face it, I make a steady income [albeit small] from having my book on Kindle Unlimited, getting paid every time a page is read...enough that using the other retail outlets doesn't seem worth it. If I can focus all my energies in one direction--in sales and promotions--then maybe in the end, I'll make more money. 

That's the hope anyway, I guess.

But more than that, I want more people to read my books. As much as I want to make money (so I can give money), I want my stories to be read and enjoyed. That's the art part, I think, and where the love really comes from. My stories are good, they are fun, they are heartfelt... and when I read a book that makes me feel good, I want to share it. Same goes for the books I write.

So, I'm sad that Samhain is closing its doors. Not because I'm an author with them [although I guess this ends my Revise and Resubmit for my Paranormal Romance!] but because if they can't do it...who can? What does this mean?

Are the self-publishers/authors the only ones who can truly take a risk in this industry? Or, Is this a sign of the pendulum swinging back towards traditional publishing? 

I don't like to call the Sky Falling, so I think I'll just sit back and see how things go. Samhain is one publisher. This isn't an easy business to be a part of... it's a business where money goes out with the risk of nothing coming back in--every day. Will the stories be good enough? Will the covers entice? Will the authors do enough to promote? Will the retailers give the books top billing?

Who wins?

I'd like to see the reader be the winner. And sometimes that's hit or miss. 

 

CRW -- August Mini Conference

Looking forward to a fun day tomorrow. The MiniCon will be filled with some great workshops and feature guests/speakers. Not to mention it's great to get together with other writers and just chat--about the industry, about work, about...the weather. It's like, adult conversation after a long time of being with kids. So, we could talk about food, and I'd be keen on that.

Super exciting to have Angela James, editor at Carina Press, at the conference as well. I haven't submitted to them in quite some time. But...maybe it's time to do so again. The last time I subbed, I was working on Dark Summer...and holy moly that was ages ago. YEARS! 

Time really does fly, doesn't it? 

When we're stuck in the waiting game, there's this sense that time drags, but if we come up out of the work and look around, we see. Years have gone by!! :D

Have a great weekend.

With Love,

Beth