Things I Learned So Far This Summer About Writing:

I’ve had an interesting summer so far. Here are some of the highlights:

Don’t fight with CreateSpace.
I didn’t have the knowledge to bend CreateSpace to my will.

This doesn’t mean that I never will, but I had to back down on things I wanted in favor of time and simplicity. Does that mean I won’t try again? Nope. I’m tenacious like that. But I may have more patience with a project that hasn’t been staring at me in the face for a year.

I can’t wait to try Amazon Ads!
I’m reading Mastering Amazon Ads by Brian D. Meeks. He’s hilarious and makes trying the ads sound profitable and so much fun. He discusses using them in a way that does not make them sound costly or scary at all. Unfortunately, you cannot use AMS (Amazon Marketing Services)  for erotica so I won’t be able to use them for Summer Secrets. But watch out when I release my Tower City Romance trilogy!

I get bored easily.
This may sound blasphemous to writers who are so in love with their characters they never want to let them go. Not me. I’m 7,500 words into the third (and last) Tower City Romance book and I just want it done already. It could be because the first in the trilogy was a NaNoWriMo project I’ve spent two years fixing. So these characters have been with me for a while. Regardless, I’m ready for new characters, new plots, and new adventures.

tower city logo


My #smutchat participants were tired of chatting about the writing craft.
Last Thursday I had the best chat ever. We talked about building your writer’s platform and it was a big hit. It was my most popular chat though I am still having trouble persuading people to enter the drawing for the writing resource. I may need to do a poll and see if an e-reader version would be a better bet. Maybe people don’t value a paperback as much as I do, or maybe people are hesitant to give me their mailing address. Nevertheless, it was a great chat, and I am so grateful everyone had fun.

whatsapp-interface-1660652_1280Summer is 66% over, and I am right where I want to be writing-wise.
I finished Summer Secrets, and I’m on track to publish my Tower City Romance trilogy in the fall. Maybe not all three–but releasing them even a month apart gives me more time than I need to finish the last and start the stand-alone I want to write and release very early next year.

The sun shining outside isn’t the only thing looking bright.


Tell me how your summer’s been going!

#Smutchat Writer’s Platform Giveaway

Thank you for joining #smutchat tonight! I hope you enjoyed talking about writer’s platform!

If you have any suggestions on what you would like to chat about during one of my chats, let me know! It doesn’t have to be about smut/romance–anything about writing/publishing/editing and everything in-between will do!

Tonight’s giveaway is the wonderful book by Chuck Sambuchino. I had the honor of meeting him at the MN Conference back in February. He’s a great guy and certainly knows his stuff!

create your writer's platform

I’ve read all the books I’ve given away, just FYI, so I would never give away a book I didn’t know would be 100% useful in some capacity.

Again, thanks for playing, and see you later!

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What Are You Writing For?

I was flipping through my Entertainment Weekly and you know how they have the funny quotes in the front from characters in shows you don’t watch? I like to read them and have a laugh, but this particular one this morning caught my eye.



It made me think: why do we write? What are our goals and aspirations when we start a novel, a novella, a story?  At a basic level, we want people to read our work. Maybe post a nice review. But is it more than that?  When we plan a series is our first thought, Jamie Dornan would be awesome playing my main male character if were to be turned into a movie. I doubt E. L. James was thinking anything past just making fun of Twilight for her own amusement when she was writing 50 Shades of Grey.

I think this quote says a lot about the industry, too. Hollywood is having a terrible time coming up with original ideas, and it seems services like Hulu and HBO are happy to pick up their next best thing from a book, The Handmaid’s Tale and Game of Thrones, respectively.  But there has been a shift in what’s trending, and gone are the days of blockbuster deals for a YA series like Twilight, Divergent, and The Hunger Games.  The whole thing does make me wonder how Hollywood chooses what to make into movies and what it won’t. Nicholas Sparks is always good for a movie, and I wonder if he sits down to write specifically thinking his next book will be turned into a movie. There are other authors who have tried, or at least, their books have tried, to break into the movie industry and have failed miserably. (I’m looking at you LeAnn Rimes and Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights.)

Joanna Penn loves to ask, “how do you measure success?” Is it when you finish a book, when you publish? When you are picked up by an agent? When your book is optioned for the movie rights?

It pays to have goals when you sit down to write–to know the direction you want your writing to take and who you’re writing for. It helps with the marketing of your book, it helps to know what your plan is going to be once your work is completed. But putting too much pressure on yourself, to picture your character sitting next to you on your desk, legs swinging off the edge, saying, “Hurry up and wrrriiiitttteeeee me, I want to be in a mooooovvvvviiiiieeee,” will do more harm than good.

Love what you’re writing is a standard rule when writing your books. Love your characters, love your plot. I’ve always advocated writing to market, but hopefully somewhere along the road, your passion and what sells meet. Sitting down to write expressly for commercial success is the wrong way to go. You may find success, but then you’re stuck writing what you don’t like. Eventually, that will come out in your writing, and once you stop caring about your stories, your readers will, too.

Success doesn’t come overnight–sometimes even us writers forget that as we are blinded by the success of indie authors such as Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, and Mark Dawson. Top indie author sellers like Melissa Foster, Bella Andre, and Linsday Buroker have been at this for years and have a strong backlist. They don’t stop writing, they’re always publishing new material, creating new content. It’s easy to forget how much freaking work this is.

So, go write, do the work; I wish you all the success in the world–movie rights and action figures of your characters included.

CreateSpace Adventures Continue

Monday I received my proofs from CreateSpace. For the past week I’ve been going through the first one (Novellas 1 – 3) editing them, looking for typos, and checking formatting. It’s taking a long time, and today I resubmitted the first one again. I found some typos (probably not all of them, but c’est la vie) found where some ellipses marks were broken, a fragment that should have been deleted. That kind of thing. There was also a novella that was spaced at 1.5 when the rest was single spaced, so I fixed that and lost about ten pages. I had to redo the page setup and adjust the spine to reflect the page loss. girl-792039_1920

But I am making progress, and I’ll be very excited when I’m finished reading these and submitting these for the last time.

It does make me wonder if I’ll ever get faster. If I’ll ever be able to write a book, read through it once, submit it, give the proof a quick once-over, and hit approve. This is only my second go-around so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

And I’m proud of myself that I’m not rushing through this. It’s cool to hold my books, but when someone else holds them, I want them to be as perfect as I can make them.

The month is slipping away and I was hoping for an August 1st release. If the proofs can come back without needing any tweaks, I might be able to do it.

Wish me luck.

What to Think About When Writing and Publishing a Series

There is a lot to consider when writing and publishing a series. I wrote a novella series called Summer Secrets. The collection consists of six novellas—the shortest being 25,000 words, the longest 32,000. I wrote them one right after the next without a break. The novellas each feature a couple and they are chronological—the next book picks up right where the last leaves off. I made a lot of decisions while I was writing them and one decision I had to make right away was how I was going to publish these. Did I want to paperback each novella? How much money did I want to spend on them? (I pay for photos for my covers and my own ISBN numbers.) Maybe I just wanted to publish them through Kindle Direct Publishing. When should I publish? Creating a cover on and uploading it and hitting publish on KDP would take less than 24 hours.

I had to think if this was the way to go. Plenty of authors do it. Release, write the next, release, etc. but this strategy requires some thought. How long will it take to write the next book? How long do you want your readers to have to wait if they are eager for the next book? How will you use the time between books to market and build anticipation? What’s your publishing plan?

It takes about a month for me to write a novella, so I was faced with these questions not too long after I decided to write my series.

There’s no doubt that when you’re writing and publishing (in romance in particular), a series is the way to go. Smashwords released their 2017 survey that said books in a romance series sold way better than standalone books. That’s reason enough to think about writing a series. But Smashwords doesn’t tell you the best way to publish them. (Though they did favor setting up a pre-order for the first one, and pricing it for free. I’ll link to the study at the end of the blog.)

2017-07-17 (2)

Let’s list some pros and cons between waiting between books and releasing your series at once.

Pro: You can build anticipation for the next book through promos online.
If you have fans and can reach them through social media and email list, this may work very well for you.

Con: If you wait too long to release the next, your fans will forget about you.
This may not happen if you can reach your fans. But if you’re just starting out like I am, you may not want to run the risk of readers forgetting about you or waiting until the series is complete.

Pro: If you have one or two books published, you can take a break.

Con: That “rest” can turn into months—or years—because you realize you’re tired of writing them and don’t want to finish, or you get involved in a different story and you never go back to your series.

Pro: You can fix consistency issues before you publish your books. Or if you’ve written yourself into a corner, you can fix it because your books aren’t “out there” yet.

Con: You have to have a ton of patience, because how great is it to finish a book and hit publish?

Pro: Your books will have the same “feel.” Your voice will be consistent if you write and publish them at once. (We’re constantly developing and fine-tuning our voice and craft. If you wait months or years between books, they may sound different as you cultivate your skill.)

Con: Editing takes a long time, and you’re going to bog yourself, or your editor, down, if you give them your whole series at one time.  My editor took a while to get through all six novellas. It added a lot of time to my publishing schedule. There’s no doubt she could have gotten through them a lot faster had I given them to her one by one.

Pro: If you give them to your editor all at once, you’ve given them to her/him in their best possible shape. I know waiting and editing them more before I turned them over gave me time to make changes with my consistency, etc. It’s better I fix mistakes myself than pay an editor. It’s just respectful anyway to give your editor your best possible work.

Con: If your book doesn’t sell, you won’t know why. It may be because the rest isn’t released yet, or maybe because you didn’t do any promotions. Maybe it’s just because you’re a new author and you don’t have an audience yet. You can’t let this get you down and discourage you from writing and/or releasing the next book. That would be a downer to you and to the people who did buy your first book.

In the end, I did decide to publish them all at once. I split them in half to paperback them—novellas 1-3 in book one, and novellas 4-6 in book two. I felt like this was a good option because I definitely wanted to offer a paperback—I always will for all my books. But holy cow, there was no way I wanted to format and create covers for six novellas, and CreateSpace would have made me set their prices too high (for novellas) for anyone to buy, anyway. I’m going to release them the same way on the e-reader as well. It was important to me that my readers read them in order. In some series it’s okay if you read them out of order because they only deal with the same people; the plot of one book doesn’t necessarily depend on the next. A reader needs to my novellas in order or they won’t make sense. Publishing them bound together was a way to make sure this happened.

While the trilogy I’m writing right now won’t depend on each other for the plot, I’m still thinking of releasing them all at the same time. Number one is done, two is being edited by me, and three I’ve just started writing. Because Summer Secrets isn’t out yet, I feel I have some wiggle room. I’ll release my novellas, enjoy that release for a while and then publish my trilogy. Before I publish my trilogy though, I would like to have another book almost done—I have a standalone I would like to write and be ready to publish a few months after my trilogy is released. (Oh my God am I drooling to write new material!) It would be great for me if I could continue to release something every three to four months. By this time next year, I would love to have a decent backlist built up.

Everyone’s publishing plans are different and I encourage you to think ahead to what you want to do with your books and your writing career.

Here is the Smashwords Survey.
Another article on how to publish a series is here.

Let me know what you think.

Until next time!

#Smutchat Conflict Giveaway

Thank you for participating in #smutchat! I hope you’re having fun and maybe picking up some writing tips and tricks as we go along.

Today’s giveaway is Master Lists for Writers by Bryn Donovan (@BrynDonovan ). She has a lovely website too–check it out here.

master lists for writers

As always, this giveaway is open internationally. Good luck! You’ll love this book!

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The Right Attitude to Move On

I work in a call center typing for the deaf. There are lots of them out there, so I don’t think I’m going to out my work location. If you put together where I live with what I do and zero in on me, then you have way too much time on your hands and should be writing, not stalking me. But this post isn’t about where I work; it’s about knowing what you’re doing. See, my call center manager worked her way up. She was the secretary, then the HR manager, then she was hired to be the manager, but she never did what we did. She didn’t know how to process calls. Do you know how much respect we gave her when she walked around the call floor making sure we were processing our calls correctly? That’s right, none. If we had a call processing issue or had a question, she couldn’t help. She had to call the floor supervisor over for assistance. When a brand new trainee in their first hour of their first shift ever knows more about the job than the manager, something’s wrong.

If you’ve read my other posts, you know I’ve had trouble with CreateSpace accepting my files. I was trying to be fancy, and I’ll just full out admit that didn’t work out. I’ve never hidden what I don’t know–pretending you know it all closes you off to learning what you don’t, and that won’t help.

reading-1246520_1920You’re never too old to learn something new.

I stripped my file of everything I was trying to do and swapped the font with the original one in the CreateSpace template. Hey, guess what, that was accepted. No kidding, right?

When I tweeted about my problem, several people supported me, some even tried to troubleshoot my problems. And this hit home for me because it just reinforced something I already knew but I hate admitting–there will always be someone out there who knows more than you. 

Self-publishing is an ever-changing industry and what you know today you probably won’t know tomorrow. That’s just the way it is. But by doing things yourself, muddling through with the knowledge you do have will help you learn more and more.

I was talking to Thomas Jast, the subject of my interview I posted yesterday, and he said with IngramSpark, if you do it this way and this way, the sky’s the limit. He didn’t see me because we were on chat, but I rolled my eyes. I would imagine that holds true for everything you ever try to do. If you have the knowledge and the know-how, the sky’s the limit. I’m sure if I knew more than I do, I could have forced CreateSpace to accept what I wanted.

But I don’t.

Do I have the determination to figure it out?  Maybe. It depends on your priorities–do you want to master CreateSpace or do you want to write? I think I would rather put out a book that looks good (maybe a little boring, but it still looks good) than waste hours of my time trying to figure something out. I mean, software is complicated–just because you pay for and download PhotoShop doesn’t mean you’re going to know how to use it. I could download all the software I need to make an interior and cover CreateSpace will accept no matter what I do to it, but is there a means to an end doing that? Probably not since I don’t aspire to do this for anyone else.

sprout-1147803_1920Determination can take you places.

I received emails from CreateSpace this morning. My interior files and cover were accepted. They still had to tweak both covers–they said my spine text was too big so they centered it and made it smaller. They keep saying I have images smaller than 300 DPI, which is frustrating because I know it’s not true. (This is something I learned last year when I published 1700.)

Surprisingly, even with all my issues with CreateSpace (caused by my own stubbornness) converting my files to Kindle was just as bad. It took many adjustments to make the Kindle file look good in their online viewer. But hey, guess what, I did it.


colorful-1289308_1920Give the lady a gold star!


Today I’ll be ordering my proofs. I’m going to trust CreateSpace knows what they’re doing–it’s obvious they know more than me–and I’m going to hope that my proofs come out so I don’t have to fix them anymore.

So the story about my manager at my work? I guess the moral of this little post is to take pride in your work, take pride in what you do, take pride in doing things for yourself. Sure I could have hired someone at Fiverr to format and convert my books for me. It would have saved me a lot of headache and time, oh so much time. But would I have gotten the same sense of pride when I hold my books in my hands? Maybe. I don’t know. But I do know when I hit publish on those books, I’ll know that I did all the work myself, that from cover to cover is me, and no one else. There’s pride in that.

I want to be a prolific writer. I want to crank out books people love to read. I never want to lose joy and pride in publishing a book. I never want what I do to become so ho-hum I could take it or leave it.  I love writing, and even with the problems I’ve encountered, I love the designing and publishing aspect of it as well.

Always ask for help. Read books and blog posts. There’s no shame in asking for help–one day you could pay it forward.

But be careful where you’ll hold firm, and what you’re willing to compromise on. I would rather have my book published and have it look decent than try to push through all the bells and whistles and have it come out looking less than its best.

The ultimate goal for me is to put out these books and move on. I already have the next book in my head needing to be put on the page.

How about you?

young-woman-2268348_1920Keep on keeping on.


(Pictures from