Wednesday, February 24, 2016

In case anyone is wondering...

Anyone else feel like it's been ages since I released a book? No? Maybe it's just me, but it's driving me nuts and definitely causing me a fair share of anxiety. Apparently, hitting publish is the drug no one warns you about, because I need a fix and I need it bad.

Unfortunately, I'm not going to get one. Not right now. But, the good news is, I have something in the works. Something new. Something I hope you're all going to love as much as I've loved writing it. I'm probably eighty percent done with it, and at the rate it's been flowing out of me, I'm hoping to have the last bit written out within the week, making for a complete first draft. From there, it'll be all edits and beta readers and more editing and proof readers and so on and so forth, BUT if all goes according to plan, I should be able to feel that publishing high again by the end of next month.

In the meantime, I'm going to publish this little beauty here to hold me over :-D



Thursday, February 11, 2016

#IABBAddict: Pucked by Rachel Walter

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Author: Rachel Walter

Title: Pucked

Pages: 328

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Date published: February 8, 2015

Synopsis:
Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

Riley Silk, captain of the Warrior’s Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

Audrey Jacobs, the Warrior’s number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path. 

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

Who keeps the puck?

**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**




EXCERPT

I growl and force my anger into my next swing. The puck completely misses the net, bouncing off the cement wall.
Audrey’s not leaving this town. Yeah, she’s trying to care for Hannah, but she’s leaving me.
My hopeful heart drops and I kick the bag again, using the blade of the plastic stick to set up the new line of victims. Each puck has a different face.
My father.
For leaving us the way he did for another woman.
He gets another.
He broke my mother’s heart to the point that she’s not even the same woman she was five years ago.
He started this domino effect of bullshit, and for that, he gets a third.
My mother.
For letting a man break her down so badly that she can’t function properly.
She gets another.
She’s forgotten that she’s a mother. I’m not old enough to care for my baby sister properly, not in the parental way she deserves. I still need a mom, but at least I’m old enough to figure things out on my own.
My mother gets another puck just for hurting my baby sister by ignoring her like she does. It smashes into the wall.
Another puck with her face, because it’s her fault that Audrey wants to stay here. Audrey can see that Hannah needs a mother. So why can’t Mom see it?
I kick the bag again, lining up another row.
She gets one more, for bringing another man into our house, causing a whole different world of shit for us.
I tap a puck forward, glaring at it.
This one’s for Ted.
I purposefully miss the net this time. Smashing the puck into the wall so hard I hear it crack as it rattles across the floor.
One more for Ted.
His alcohol addiction nearly ended everything I know and love in one night with his drunken rage.
My mother gets another puck. This one’s for bringing the man that beat her, almost to death, in front of my baby sister last year back into our home. I purposefully crash it into the wall again.
I smash yet another into the cement wall.
For bringing the man who hit my baby sister because she wouldn’t stop crying, back into our lives.
Todd.
For asking my Audrey out and kissing her.
My stick hooks around the last puck.
It gets my face.
For being a coward and not asking my girl to be my girl, for not telling her how I’ve felt for years, for lying, and for hurting her feelings. This puck gets my face for not being a stronger man and calling the police to press charges against Ted.
The puck glances off the post and flies my way.
On instinct, I drop to my knees so I don’t get hit, and hear a soft gasp followed by an echoing thud of a body hitting the floor.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bad Reviews and How To Handle Them

Bad reviews suck. Seriously. There’s no other way to put it. I remember the first time I got one and I was literally crushed for days. It didn’t matter that twenty other random readers had left glowing 5 star reviews, because that one person, that one reader, she had thought it was the biggest piece of crap to ever hit the kindle.  I mean it. She tore into everything. The story line, the characters, the editing. Then she even went so far as to say that I had ripped off a song to write the book. 

It was horrible. 
It was humiliating. 
It was hurtful. 
It was her opinion. And let’s face it. We all have those.

I’m not looking to give up mine or my right to express them, are you?

Now, you’re probably saying –  No of course not, but there’s a wrong and a right way of doing things and these people are just trying to be mean on purpose.

Okay.

So what?

It comes down to the same thing I tell my seven year old when someone is being mean to her. You cannot control how other people act. You can only control how you respond.

And I get that it’s easier said than done. I’ve seen the bad, ugly and the obscene of those reviews. Especially on Goodreads. Holy shit. Those people go all out, don’t they?! I mean, you almost have to wonder if this is their only creative outlet. And book bashing or not, some of them are hysterical. I have to commend the bad reviewers for the amount of thought that goes into every one of them. Animated images and all. I mean, think about how strongly they must feel about what you’ve written to spend that much time on putting their thoughts together after. Personally, I think if you’re at the receiving end of one of those, you should give yourself a nice big pat on the back ~ You INSPIRED someone today! Maybe not in the way you had intended, but in the end, your work spoke to them so intensely that they couldn’t just let it go. And no matter which way you spin it, that my fellow writers, is a compliment.

Anytime a new piece of art goes out into the world, the artist risks complete and utter ridicule. The more raw and honest the work, the greater the chances of someone coming along and shitting all over it. That’s just how it is. You can’t go around flying your freak flag and expect everyone to appreciate it. They won’t. Some people will go out of their way to tell you that you’re wrong. That you’re stupid and you suck. That’s the price of being different in this society. The reward is in all of the people who connect with you and your work and see the beauty and courage in what you’ve done. Everyone has to decide for themselves which one outweighs the other.

Bottom line: You get a bad review - You suck it up and move on.

You do not comment.

You do not inquire why they felt this way.

You do not FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IN PUBLISHING explain why they didn't get your work of art.

You do not email, Facebook, Tweet or send smoke signals. I repeat, you do not make contact in ANY way.

You also do not get your friends or family to do any of the above.

Because it's not personal. Even when it feels that way. And - this is important - I promise you it will not have a negative effect on your sales in the long run. In fact, it has been said time and time again, that negative reviews can actually INCREASE sales because readers become skeptical of books with only glowing 5 and 4 star reviews and feel a book has more validity when less than stellar reviews are  also present. Meaning someone other than your mother and best friend has read the book. 

So, you got a 1 star? Congrats. You've made it. Your book is legit now.

Better start writing the next one...

Friday, February 5, 2016

#FunnyStory Friday ~ Coffee


Funny story.

Yesterday afternoon I was so tired, I made a fourteen ounce cup of coffee...with my mug next to the Keurig.


Yup.

I don't know what was more devastating. Hearing the sound of the coffee maker finishing up and looking over to see NO cup of coffee, or realizing I'd wasted an entire cup of the life saving elixir. Good news is, that little grate you put your cup on (when you remember) holds more liquid than you'd think... 

So...that was my laugh (and cry) of the week. Share yours in the comments below :-D 

Because life is a comedy and we should all have a laugh about it on a regular basis to remember that...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

#IABBAddict Featured Author: The Artist's Touch by S. H. Pratt

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Join us every Thursday for IABB #Confessions

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Author: S. H. Pratt

Title: The Artist's Touch

Series: The Artist's Touch, #1

Pages: 314

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Date publishedNovember 20, 2015

Synopsis:
Exhausted, disillusioned and disgusted with her life in Los Angeles, Clarice “Rissa” Daniels leaves a successful acting career for the comforts of home in Olympia, Washington. Embracing a simpler life without the overabundance of testosterone that she’d dealt with in California, she works to recover and rebuild her life without the “Hollywood craziness”, away from the toxic presence of her ex-boyfriend, and far from the paparazzi. When a walk in the park drops her into the lap of Spencer St. George, she finds herself drawn to his quiet, unobtrusive demeanor, but Rissa quickly realizes that there is much more to the bespectacled middle-school art teacher.
Spencer St. George prefers the quiet life far from the hassles created by his family. Known as “Saint” to his students, he creates his own sense of peace with a paint brush in his hand while standing behind an easel. When Rissa Daniels crashes headlong into his life, Spencer is sent reeling. Unsure of her intentions, but drawn to her gregarious personality, he finds himself stepping out from behind his easel and daring to hope for more than his quiet life.
But as Spencer and Rissa grow closer, history threatens to destroy them. Met with righteous reticence from his family and stubborn pride from hers, the couple sets out to discover the events that turned their families against each other. As the past begins to surface, the present becomes dangerous, creating an uncertainty that could bind Spencer and Rissa together… or drive them apart forever.
 





EXCERPT

“Excuse me?” Spencer asked in a low tone, unsure he’d heard the challenge in her voice correctly.
“Yes, artist man, you heard me. Let me take you out, we’ll have dinner, get to know each other and you can learn that I’m not who you think.” Rissa proposed. Spencer took his glasses from his face and rubbed his eyes. “Are you asking me out on a date?” he asked, unable to keep the incredulity out of his voice. “Yes, Spencer St. George, I am. Do you dare?” Rissa asked. Spencer gaped at her for a long moment, unsure of what to think of this beautiful, crazy woman sitting next to him asking him out. “You needn’t look so shocked. It’s the twenty-first century. Women are doing all sorts of crazy things.” Rissa smirked at him.

GIVEAWAY

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Be Authentic

My brain pretty much runs non-stop making up stuff. Not stuff I say out loud to anyone, because people who do that tend to get a reputation as pathological liars, but stuff I think may at some point find a permanent home on the pages of a book.

There are no limits. Anything can spark my interest and get me excited. Make me want to write.

That's a good feeling to have. One of the best, really.

When I first started writing professionally, I applied this same limitless mind-wandering story-conjuring to my work. If it excited me, it was getting written. I'd decide what genre it was later. Didn't matter if I had an audience base for it or not. I jumped around from thrillers to children's lit without giving it a second thought.

Then, I got more serious. Got smarter. Got down to business.

For two years now, my main focus has been on writing contemporary romance. And it's been fairly easy considering I've been in love with love ever since I was old enough to appreciate my parents' real life love story. So, a long time.

But trying to balance the story I want to tell with the story I think will be best received or help me stand out in a market flooded with heavily themed stories running on repeat, isn't always easy. Sometimes, it's even detrimental.

Because jumping on the bandwagon isn't my style. Because I know that writing a trope I find slightly skeevey (Step-brother romance anyone? It's cool if that's what floats your boat, but it's not for me.) or trying to step into a world I know nothing about and have no desire to a be a part of mentally or otherwise (MC stories and heroes are out - I think MC and bikers, I picture my stepdad on his Honda and wearing his club vest complete with patches he has attached with Velcro stickers. There's no coming back to sexy from that.) just isn't for me. Even when I wish that it was.

So, I find myself racking my brain. In the shower. In the car. At the grocery store. Wherever. How can I improve? How can I deliver on what the market calls for? What the readers want?

And the ideas come. They always come. That's not the problem. I think some of those ideas are even quite good, but for the last few months, while I've been caught up in the funnel of need and want, I've never been able to write more than a few hundred - maybe a thousand - words at a time. And the worst part of all, it felt like work. Unsatisfying work.

Then, this last week, it was like something jolted me out of my daze. And I realized how detached I've become from my writing. How everything has been coming solely from my head. Not my heart. Writing, good writing, has to come from both. It has to be authentic. To the writer. To me.

So I'm writing something new. Something that has no solid footing in the market. Something that may never find a huge audience or catapult me into best seller status.

Something I like. Something I connect with. Something that excites me and makes me want to write as soon as I get up in the morning. Something that will be better than anything I could ever possibly write when writing solely with my head.

Something I can be proud of. Because it's authentic. Because it's honest (maybe a little too honest). And the truth is, that matters more to me than anything else.

Writing for me has long moved past being a hobby or something I do to ease my stress and de-tangle my own thoughts. It's become my career. My work. My livelihood. My dream. And I'm grateful every day for that. But I can't let those new aspects of my writing kill the source of where it comes from. 

So, these last few months have been a wake up call. To not detach. To not let my head take over. 
Because we all know ~ the real magic always comes from the heart.