Thursday author update and lessons I’ve learned rereading old work.

I’ve been neglecting my blog as of late because I’ve been so swept up with my books. I finished the first of a duet last month, and after a couple of days’ rest, I hopped into writing the second book. I didn’t give myself enough time to think about what I needed to put into book two, and I stalled at 10k, burnt out and floundering.

I decided to take a break, but instead of stepping away completely, I dug up my five book epic fantasy series I began way back in 2015 before I starting publishing romance. These books are full of everything I learned not to do: head-hopping, word echoing, and oh my goodness, so much repetition and telling. They also don’t follow epic fantasy word counts–book two is only 57k. I remember writing these books, being so consumed by the characters, and the way I write hasn’t changed. When I start a new story, the characters and the plot monopolize my every waking moment. I would constantly think about these characters. I was more of a pantser back then, before I wrote more and drifted comfortably into the planster I am now.

I started rereading these because I really love these characters, and I’ve even thought about taking a detour and fixing them up. I wrote a blog post about it, but I never did pause my contemporary romance momentum to do it.

I have learned some lessons while rereading work that is six years old, and I thought I’d share them with you:

Not everything you write needs to be published. I’m not going to fix these and publish them. I have often thought about it because I love these characters and while I was writing them, I poured my heart and soul into them. But there is so much wrong with just the writing, never mind the non-existent characters arcs and weak conflicts, that I would have to rewrite them from the beginning. We’re talking 441,000 words, and not all of them are good words.

It’s important to know genre expectations. I don’t know why I thought I could write an epic fantasy. Back then, I hadn’t read Game of Thrones, nor had I much exposure to anything like that. The books aren’t word-count appropriate, and they don’t contain the required tropes, such as The Chosen One. (I do have one character who was “chosen” but she does not go on a journey to save a kingdom or find herself along the way.) While I can appreciate them for what they are with an author’s admiration for the start of what I hope will be a long-term and lucrative career, I know readers won’t value them as much as I do. That is one thing indies don’t seem to understand. Just because you love your work, if you’re not fulfilling reader expectations of that genre, your readers may not. It takes a lot of courage to look at your work and admit it’s lacking.

The core of who you are will always be evident in all your work. What’s funny is that I realized even after all this time, I used some phrases, favorite words, tone, and general feelings in these books that I have not lost. I suppose you can consider that my writing style, my author’s voice. It’s fun to see the ways I’ve changed, how I’ve grown into my writing, but how much of it has stayed the same.

I use the same character names. It’s probably best I created a table to keep track of the characters names I’ve used from book to book. No matter how imaginative I think I’m being, chances are I’m using names I’ve used in the past. In the second book of the duet I’m writing, my female main character’s name is Talia, and imagine my surprise when I opened these files and I have a female character named Talia. In this one thing, being consistent is not a good thing and can cause reader confusion if you do it too often or with books published too close together.

They were a foundation for bigger and better things. Jumping into a five book series as a “first book” laid a foundation for the books I’ve written since then. Looking back, I didn’t consider it such a daunting task. I was telling a story (and boy was I telling–no showing in 441,000 words) and it didn’t occur to me to be scared of the magnitude of the project. That attitude has served me well, and since then, I have written a trilogy, a four-book series, and a six-book series that I will publish under my pen name next year. There are times when jumping feet first without looking can have consequences, but in this case, writing this series without concern set me up to be utterly fearless in the trajectory of my career.

They weren’t a waste of time. Probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn over the past five years of writing and publishing is nothing I’ve done is a waste. It may feel like it, as last month I barely made $50.00 and that was after paying $25.00 for a promo and a little bit of ad spend. Not enough to mention, as my books are old and I’ve let them and my ads stagnate. But I do have to console myself every once in a while with all that I’ve learned:

*How to format–I learned the hard way copying and pasting my Word document into a KDP interior for a paperback book. There are so many programs now that will format for you in practically just one click of a button that it’s almost laughable how many hours I spent copying, pasting, and tweaking that template to create the perfect paperback interior.

*How to do covers. I read Chris McMullen’s A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers: How to Print-on-Demand with CreateSpace & Make eBooks for Kindle & Other eReaders, and he laid out step-by-step instructions on how to make the text boxes to do paperback covers in Word. Yeah, in Word. How to create the text boxes for the back cover, spine, and front cover. Published in 2012 by CreateSpace, back before KDP existed, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it now, but it’s how I learned and knowing about the dimensions, bleed, and how to do the math still helps me every time I need to create a new canvas in Canva for a full wrap.

*Writing to market. I learned it’s not enough just to write a book. If it were, I could publish my epic fantasy and it would find a million readers. I’ve learned about tropes, genre/reader expectations, how to look at the top 100 in your genre for covers to help cover books to market. I spent a lot of time writing what I wanted to write. That should never be a bad thing, and for me, it hasn’t been, but you have to find a way to meet in the middle with writing what you love and also what readers love to read.

*Things about myself. While writing that series and the books since then, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I love learning about the industry. I learned I love being part of the writing community. I learned that there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than writing. I learned I love writing this blog. I’ve learned that I love everything about writing a book, editing it, formatting it, doing the cover, and uploading it to KDP. (Notice I didn’t say I love writing the blurb LOL). I think this is why I’ve stuck it out for so long. I love every aspect of this industry. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the five years I’ve been publishing. Not everyone has the tenacity to stick with something where success seems so out of reach.


I’ll finish reading these, and in doing so, I’ll say goodbye to these books. As long as they are on my computer, I will always think in the back of my mind they are “fixable” when in reality, they are anything but. I’ll email them to myself and delete them from my hard drive. I don’t need them hanging around anymore. It will be bittersweet, but there are so many more stories, so many more characters to write about. I will never rewrite them. Sometimes we need something just for ourselves, something we aren’t going to share with anyone else, and these books will be that for me. No one has read them besides me, and no one will. I need to say farewell and look to the future.


Okay, I’m sniffling, and to move on from being sad, here is what I’m liking this week.

The 20booksto50k Facebook group hosted by Michael Anderle and Craig Martelle had their annual writing/publishing convention earlier last month. They’ve been putting up their presentations on YouTube for those who could not go in person to Las Vegas. One day I will, but not for a couple of years. I have too many responsibilities in November to make the trip–at least until my daughter graduates high school.

I’ve been slowly getting through some of the ones I really wanted to watch, and I loved, loved, loved Kyla Stone’s presentation on writing to market.

I don’t know why I get so enamored with that message, because I am a huge advocate of it, and all I do is nod my head. But her talk really spoke to me, and I am so amazed at what she has accomplished in such a short amount of time. I want to be Kyla when I grow up. Or hopefully in the next five years I’m writing and publishing. Check it out!


That is all I have for today. Thanks for hanging out with me!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday Thoughts and Brief Update

Can I say I don’t know what I’m doing? Because that would probably best describe the state of my mind and author business at the moment. How to successfully launch a book, figure out a publishing plan, and start a successful book business. I know all that takes time, trial and error, and a healthy dose of luck. I can’t do anything about the luck, but I feel like I’ve put in my time, and learned a lot through trial and error. So this is what I’ve got going on right now:

Two books loaded into KDP. All I have to do is press publish. That’s not exactly true as I want to redo the blurbs again. After reading Theodora Taylor’s 7 FIGURE FICTION: How to Use Universal Fantasy to SELL Your Books to ANYONE, I grabbed some great ideas for pulling out the meat of a book and adding it to the blurb. I think one of the mistakes I was making when writing the blurbs to Faking Forever and My Biggest Mistake was that I was writing a 1st person blurb like I was still writing a 3rd person blurb. 1st person and 3rd person blurbs have a different vibe. 1st person blurbs are more personal, told in the voice of the characters. My blurbs were still sounding flat in 1st person because I was following the 3rd person blurb style that I’d adapted after reading Bryan Cohen’s How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good. I’m not saying his way is wrong–I loved the blurbs I’d written after reading his book, but all his examples are in 3rd person and I struggled to find a punchy way to write the blurb in the voice of my characters while trying to pull out what really mattered in the book. Theodora’s book really helped and I’m going to redo those and use her examples for other blurbs moving forward. She did a fun interview on the Six Figure Author Podcast, too, and you can watch it here:

Okay, so I have two books almost ready to go besides those tweaks, and right now I’m on a break editing my six book series. I read through the all again, and caught and fixed a few inconsistencies. I’m not going to rehash all that because I blogged about it on Monday and you can read it here. While I’m taking a break, I thought about editing another standalone. I have two that I could do: my brother’s-girlfriend-is-off-limits-trope, or the-one-night-stand-with-my-future-boss trope. The boyfriend one was the most likely candidate since I haven’t looked at it in a while and is 97k. The other one I’m excited about too, and I’ve gotten good feedback from a beta read, though the subject is a little touchy and I’m not sure how it’s going to go over with readers. It’s a little dark, but I’m hoping my readers can understand why he made the choices he made and not think too poorly of him. Those both need another editing sweep and listening to them both will take time. They need covers and blurbs and formatting and all that jazz, which means each book has at least another month a piece before they’re ready to publish.

Instead of working on those, I had another idea pop into my head and I’m writing kind of a beauty and the beast retelling, but I can’t even call it that anymore because he’s not grumpy, and she’s not trapped there–at least not in the way Belle was trapped in Beast’s castle. He’s scarred from an accident, she’s snowed in during a blizzard, and he has a ton of books but that’s where the similarities end. The idea pretty much came out of nowhere and I wanted to write it before I forgot it. I outlined what i knew of the story, but it wasn’t enough to keep it on the back burner and I’m 27k into it right now after only four days. I think I’ll hit about 80k with this one, maybe shorter, as not much is going on right now but them talking and falling in love and knowing that because of what they have going on they can’t be together after the blizzard stops (that’s not true, of course, all my books have an HEA). It’s fun, and I had to do a lot more research than I normally have to. There could be potential for another book with her sister and his business partner, but so far I would have the characters and no plot so we’ll have to see how that goes.

What I’m trying to do is line these up and figure out a publishing schedule where I can make the most of the work I’ve put into these books for the past two years. I didn’t have any business starting a new book, but I couldn’t resist, besides, it’s a good filler for the next couple months with the holidays.

As far as anything else goes, I have a promo with a new site I haven’t tried yet for my holiday box set I have selling for .99. The promo cost $25 so I should make that back KU reads at least if they have the reach they say they do. I’ll let you know how it goes and who it’s with if I have good results. For right now my ads were in the hole and I had to turn off one for The Years Between Us. It was eating up click money and no sales coming in. Those books are old and I don’t have anything new coming in 3rd person so I’ll keep the low bid ads running, but I don’t have much hope for those books anymore.

What am I loving right now?

I’m going to read through Elana Johnson’s nonfiction books. I’ve heard her speak enough that I think her books could be valuable. I’ve blogged in the past about how difficult it is to take information from top indies because they have so many more books, resources, money, connections than we do. I’m hoping that her books are geared toward anyone no matter where they are on their journey, and I can find some tips to help me as I start publishing next year. This is the link for book one in her non-fiction series if you want to check it out. Writing and Releasing Rapidly (Indie Inspiration for Self-Publishers Book 1)

Another thing I’m loving right now is Alex Newton of K-lytics has shared some info for romance writers for free this holiday season! This is taken from his Facebook page (I recommend you liking it on FB!).


I don’t have plans to release anything Christmassy, not anything new, anyway. My Rocky Point Wedding box set takes place in the winter around Christmas, but it’s not a solid Christmas story, or stories. It would be fun to play around with the idea and maybe next summer I can write a billionaire Christmas story for Christmas 2022 and see how it goes. BUT I love industry news, and if you love it too, here is the link to download his free report! FREE RESEARCH REPORT | CHRISTMAS ROMANCE

If you don’t write romance, Alex was an angel and did another report for Mystery, Thriller Suspense, and you can find it here. Christmas mysteries sound like cozies, but you just never know! I plan to watch it as well and see just want kind of mystery sells during the holidays.


That’s about all I have going on at the moment. Now that I’ve started a new book, that will be what I’ll focus on until it’s done. It would be nice to say I’m taking December off, but that will never happen. I honestly don’t know what I would do with myself, and as hard as I work on my books, I enjoy it, too.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts: Keeping up with content and where I’m at right now.

Hello, May! I can’t believe how fast 2021 is going. Spring is right around the corner, though in Minnesota, it’s always been a little iffy when it will come and whether or not it will stick. We didn’t have a terrible winter at all, and due to some unusually warm temperatures in March, our snow disappeared a long time ago. I’ll probably do a little spring cleaning and put in a work order for a few things I need done around my apartment. While I don’t have many exciting things planned for summer, I’ve always enjoyed the lazy feel of the longer days. Do you have any plans for the summer?


Writing a blog post ahead of time requires to me to look into the future, or at least, aim to achieve the goals I say I’ve met so my posts don’t require too much editing the night before when I proofread one last time before the blog goes live. I was hoping to be done with my third book of the year (I’m at 63k, but sadly I’ve been so tired lately I spend a lot of my free time sleeping) and I am fighting a bit of quality vs. quantity, imposter syndrome, and self-doubt a lot of writers face when things are going too well. A lot of the argument comes from quality of the fiction, and something deeper, something with a few more twists and turns or a few more chapters of character development, may need a little extra time in the oven before the timer goes off. I’ve never been one not to be completely honest with what I read and write. I read and write romance. Characters have their flaws, they move past them to find a happily ever after. That’s all I’ve ever written and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to write. It doesn’t cheapen the work–it can’t or any adult writing YA, Middle Grade, and children’s books would be set aside and not considered “real writers.” Maybe no matter what one chooses to write, it’s always going to be a personal thing as to how long a book will take from start to finish, but the phrase “If writing is easy you’re doing it wrong” is always in the back of my mind after a successful writing day.

Graphic taken from positivewriter.com/printable-quote-posters-on-writing-and-creativity/

I won’t know if my books resonate with readers until the feedback starts coming in. That’s all anyone can use to gauge their skills, I guess. Can you sell your work or not? If it’s not worth the money, the consumer won’t buy, no matter how pretty your cover is or how well-written your blurb is. Simple as that.

I’m still waiting on my beta reader to get back to me with what she thinks of my first 1st person present standalone I’ll be publishing this year. In the meantime I have plenty to keep me busy. I just can’t let myself start another book. There is more to the business than writing, even if we wished there wasn’t. I’ll be focusing on that as times goes on and I’ll keep you updated on those things as I get them done.


How do you search through all the content out there? I’ve blogged before about my fear of missing out, and I need a way to figure out how to consume the information I need when I need it. I’ve thought of a couple of tips to help with that, and I’ll share them with you. Like so many streaming services and shows/movies/documentaries to choose from, if you try to pay for it all and give all your time to what’s out there you’ll go broke and crazy.

  1. Where are you in your journey? For instance, if you’re just starting your newsletter, content such as what to put in them, or developing an on-boarding sequence may be more in-line with what you need rather than how and when to cull a percentage of your thousands of subscribers who don’t open. Those two things are very different needs, and we could be talking years between needing to know each one.
  2. Is it tried and true? Things happen so fast in the industry that sometimes it’s not worth it to learn something if you’re not going to need it when you learn it. For example, I’m taking a mini-course from Mark Dawson about his launch plan. Being that I’m going to hopefully publish a book in the near future, taking that course makes sense. But if you don’t have anything that you think you’ll be publishing for a while, spending money on his course maybe wouldn’t be the wisest investment. Things can change between now and when you’re ready to publish. A new promo site may develop, or the Amazon Ads dashboard may go through a thousand changes before you’re ready to use it. Facebook is known for changing how you set up an ad. There are very few things that will never change–even tropes, trends, and craft advice can change if you write commercial fiction–but advice on what to blog about, building your author platform, or going back to newsletters, how to offer good content so readers sign up, things like that will always be necessary.
  3. How much money is it? I’ve blogged before about how some of these courses can cost hundreds of dollars. Sometimes, depending on what you need when you need it, a book or a beginners free course will be enough to get you on your way without breaking the bank. Time can also be an investment. I don’t know about your life or finances, but I would rather spend time reading about something and researching than spending money on a course that will spoon-feed the information to me, but at a significant cost.
  4. Make a list of the things you need at the moment versus what you should always be doing. Networking is something everyone should do that never stops. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in the past four years is not making friends with other romance writers. They can beta read for you, recommend editors, help with newsletter swaps, keep you up to date with industry news, and be all-around cheerleaders and sprinting partners. As introverts, it’s difficult to put yourself out there, but networking, especially in your genre, is something you should always be working on. Same as reading in your genre. You’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on in the genre you’re writing in than listening to secondhand information. Learning craft is another thing you should always be doing, but things like listening to a podcast about a new program like Kindle Vella can wait until you have the time to consider if it’s the right path for you.

Cutting through all the noise is hard, and it’s difficult to be a hoarder of information. What do you do with a piece of information if you don’t need it right at that moment? You can put it away and hope it’s still relevant when you pull it out again, but chances are something about what you know is going to change. Like I said, ad platforms are notorious for that. There will always be new promo sites, or sites that have worked in the past but don’t work now due to saturation.

I need to remind myself that I don’t need to know everything all the time. Joining Clubhouse (the audio-drop in app) has been really hard for me–I realized that the full-time authors who do a lot of the meetings and talking can do so whenever they want because they work from home and aren’t under anyone’s restraints but theirs. I still have a day job and more than once I’ve been disappointed I couldn’t listen in a room because I was working.

I feel a lot of pressure to know all of the things, and a lot of that is fueled by being truly interested in the publishing industry, both traditional and indie. At least it’s something I can recognize in myself and try to control it the best ways I know how.


As a reminder, the giveaway for Barbara Avon’s author interview is still open! Enter to win a paperback copy of her book, Sacrilege, and a $25 dollar gift card to Amazon. Click here to read her interview! And click here fore easy access to the giveaway! The giveaway ends Sunday, May 9th, so don’t forget!

Thursday Thoughts: Keeping daily word counts and other bits and pieces.

Keeping a Daily Word Count.

A couple months ago, a romance writer offered a Google spreadsheet to anyone in our romance group on FB. We could add our name and enter our daily word counts. This isn’t a private total–anyone who added their name can see (and be motivated by) others’ word counts, and they can see yours. I’ve never needed the motivation, but I’d never kept visual track of my daily word counts either, and I thought, what the heck.

It was addicting, to say the least.

I love(d) (the challenge isn’t over yet) adding my daily word counts and watching as other did the same. One author in a column close to mine does high numbers too, and subconsciously, or maybe not so “sub”, I tried to keep up with her. It was fun.

But keeping track in a public way like that was also hard. Here’s why:

  1. You are keeping score. You’re not supposed to compare yourself to others, or if you do, you’re supposed to do it in a positive manner. That doesn’t always happen.
  2. It can make you feel bad on the days you can’t write and you have to put in 0. That’s tough when the person next you logged in 5,000 that day. The problem is, you don’t know how another person’s life is. They can be a full-time author where 5,000 words a day is the norm for them and a 0 day means they had an emergency. Sometimes a 500 word day for someone else is a great day because they work a full-time job and have kids. I didn’t like my 0 days. Especially when I had a week of them between books.
  3. Added pressure. It’s addicting to enter in a number at the end of the day. This can make it so you don’t give yourself enough grace if you have a bad day. Some say bad words are better than no words, but I don’t agree with that. If something else is taking up headspace and I know I can’t sit down and write something decent, I won’t bother. I know I can make it up later. Because I do. Giving yourself grace only works as far as you putting in the work later.
  4. There wasn’t a way to claim editing words. I wanted to log in the new words I wrote for that challenge. There were a few days I put in 0 because I was rereading and smoothing out the first third of my book. I was working, but I couldn’t log in any numbers. Entering in that 0 made me feel like I hadn’t worked that day.
  5. Writing and publishing isn’t always about writing new words. We couldn’t modify the spreadsheet because there’s a formula that tallies up our words and entering anything else in the field makes the formula not work. But if I were to make my own spreadsheet, I would make room for days that I did something else so I could still feel productive.
  6. Seeing the words add up is a great motivator. There are some negatives when doing a challenge like this, but I like seeing my words add up. Right now since January 4th when she offered us the spreadsheet, to March 20th, I’ve written 141,826 words, and I’ll have more before the challenge is over (April 13th) because I have a book to finish. But I won’t be starting another project, so as soon as this book is done, I’ll be entering in zeros for the rest of the challenge. That will be hard for me, but i’ll just have to make peace with it because I know I’ll still be working.

Would I recommend doing this? Yes, if you can keep yourself from getting carried away and playing the comparison game in a negative way. Your fellow writers’ successes should bolster your own, not drag you down.


In other news, I’m still going through my infection issues. Eventually I’ll get better, but it may take another round of antibiotics (I’m on my third and I can’t drink while on them which is a real bummer!). I need to make another appointment but I’m going to take a small break so I can have a glass of champagne over the weekend. I want to celebrate the completion of my second book of 2021. I may already be done with it by the time you read this post, I’m not sure. I’m 61k into it right now, and I tend to drag my feet toward the end because no matter how eager I am to move on to the next, I’m still attached to my characters and hate to say goodbye.


I’m not the only one with medical issues, and I had to bring my cat in to the vet. She kept going to the litter box, and I’m glad I trusted my instincts–it turns out she had a UTI. They gave her an antibiotics shot and I think it made her feel not that great. She sleeps a lot and doesn’t have her usual spunk. I’m hoping once the antibiotics do their job she’ll be back to her old self, but I’ll probably need to make her a follow-up appointment just to be sure. I know all about lingering infections and I don’t want to her to suffer. Here’s a picture of her if you don’t follow me on IG or you’re not friends with me on FB.

Blaze is a two-year-old Siamese Ragdoll mix.

One more thing I’m excited to share with you–Savannah Cordova from Reedsy is going to guest blog on Monday, March 29th! When she first reached out to me, I didn’t think it was real! I’m happy she thought my writing and publishing blog was relevant enough to contribute, and I hope you get a lot out of what she’s going to be sharing with us.

If you don’t know what Reedsy is, they are a team writing/marketing/publishing experts and professionals that help you with your journey. They offer lists of vetted freelance editors and book cover designers. They offer a FREE book formatting feature on their website (similar to Draft2Digital’s) and I’ve often blogged about the free classes they offer right to your email inbox that allow you to complete them at your own pace along with a short quiz at the end of each course. They really are amazing, and Ricardo Fayet, founder of Reedsy, wrote and is offering his book How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market (Reedsy Marketing Guides Book 1) free on Kindle right now. I’m so honored to host Savannah on my blog!


Lastly, even though I haven’t been feeling 100% and I’ve been dealing with a sick cat and I’m always going to the grocery store for milk, I am trying to spend time outside and this is the pretty picture I captured the other day on a walk. With spring coming almost a full month early, this has been beautiful, cool, crisp weather to walk in. These are the golden days in Minnesota–when the weather is warming up but the bugs haven’t caught on yet. I love an evening walk in weather like this.

Enjoy your weekend! May it be productive! Check in with Savannah on Monday…. hope to see you there! 🙂