It's Been a Long Time

Wow. I never thought it'd take me weeks to reconnect again with my audience. But, yes. I found it unnecessary to force myself to write, though I had plenty of topics I could've shared. I've been tremendously busy, and there's proof for that.  

Yesterday, I finished writing my fourth book. This book, I think will be my first erotica book. Somehow, I don't quite think it qualifies as a romance novel, though I'm a romance author. I don't mind at all, though, because in the future, I want to cross into two genres, maybe three, while primarily being a romance author. I think a reader would love to see her/his author expand. 

Well, I cannot speak a lot about this book. It's under wraps. It's my secret project that pushed me out of my comfort zone. It had plenty of sex and I'd classify it as raunchy. Who knows? My beta readers will let me know. I haven't rounded all my betas up yet, so holler if you think you want the task. You won't be needed for this book for about another week or two. I gotta do the edits. Also, I'll share the secret with my betas before everyone else. Anyway, this book pushed me language wise, I don't really talk the way I wrote in this book. I'm an angel. (Cue the cackling!) I realized that it's not that hard to go beyond your limits. Once you do it, you're like, "That wasn't so hard." It's honestly all in our heads. As the medium between my characters and readers, you have a responsibility to tell the story. When the reader is nose dived into that book, they're not focusing on your hang-ups unless it shows in your material. They're just worried about those characters. So I had to get it right. Now that that's over with, I feel less dramatically constrained about writing this kind of material in the future. It's not always about writing about sex that can be a challenge, but more like what's going on in that bed. Or--is a bed even necessary? 

Yeah, so I feel the weight of the world off my shoulders. As a writer, that only lasts for a few days, maybe a week. You wanna know why? Because we always get into trouble again. Authors are restless creatures. And for me, it's hard to focus on one to two projects at a time. There's always something that needs to be done. There is NO such thing as a real vacation with authors. We always got crap to do! We have to make the mental choice to cut ties with our 'sponsibilites for a moment just to have fun. That means, no social media-related work, no writing, no editing, no marketing, no booking, no teaser creating--nothing! We do more than what I just listed! I swear y'all! This field is brutal and relentless and only the passionate survive! I always wish writing was the only slice in that pie, but it ain't and it never will be! Well, I'll keep you updated. I'll even add a post to explain what I've learned about marketing. But this is what I've been doing. I've been a hermit. This is what I've signed up for. However, you readers continue to make it worth my while.  

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The Good, The Bad & The Real: Living As A Writer In NYC by Brookelyn Mosley

Welcome my native NYC guest blogger, Brookelyn Mosley, as she shares what it's like to be a writer in NYC.

You know the opening scene of almost every Sex and The City episode where the camera pans in front of Carrie, capturing her in action? Her fingers clicking away on her laptop as she sits at the window of her brownstone apartment.

 

Goals, right?

 

How about the moment she reveals that she's a writer, only a writer, who has fabulous friends. They all eat at exclusive restaurants wearing expensive designer shoes. Meanwhile, she makes under a grand at the paper she writes for as a columnist. *Insert blank stare emoji here.*

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Well, I'm here to tell you that not every writer is living like Carrie Bradshaw in New York City. In fact, she's kind of a unicorn. Rent is not cheap, newspaper columns are not paying enough for a writer to solely make a living off of them, and those designer shoes were purchased off the clearance rack at DSW. You are, however, surrounded by the beauty of a city that literally never sleeps with people so creative you wonder if they are even human.

 

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There's a good, bad, and a real side to living in New York City as a writer. Want to read about it? Here it goes…

 

The Good

 

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New York City is one of the best places to live as a writer. Well, any creative person, really! This city is full of inspiration from the street art to the subway entertainment. In the essence of this concrete jungle is fertile ground for creativity to flourish. No matter the hour, there's always something to see. There are thousands of restaurants making it impossible for you to get bored or run out of new places to eat. Everywhere you go, especially in Manhattan, is scenic. From tall architecture to tiny bistro's the variety is insane. Speaking of variety, this city is a major melting pot of nationalities.

 

You'll fall in love (or lust) with someone you never thought you would. There's at least one person from every part of the earth. It isn't odd to attend a free event or two. And seeing a celebrity walk the streets like everyone else is as common as the pigeons who fly from tree to tree. You can literally travel the world with just the swipe of a MetroCard. I've lived in New York City since birth, Brooklyn to be exact. I've visited practically all the US cities and traveled to a few other countries. And each time I leave New York, I can't wait to get back that's how in love with it I am. My city is poppin' and that's a fact. But even for me, there are some days I give New York an epic side eye. Which brings us to…

 

The Bad

 

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Hot summers and cold winters. More than likely if you are moving to New York as a writer, you're moving into an apartment. And unless you are moving here already paid, be prepared to live on a tight budget. I'm talking stretch-a-dollar-until-it-gets-stretch-marks tight budget. In 2017 things are even more expensive, especially if you want to live iconic in Manhattan. Oh, if you do decide to live in Manhattan or anywhere in the metro area, be prepared for honking horns at 1 a.m., wailing sirens at 3 a.m., and garbage trucks that roar at the crack of dawn. And that garbage, whew! That garbage will have your stomach flipping in the summer because it is capital F.U.N.K.Y.

 

So, we've got smelling and hearing covered. Let's talk sight.

 

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New Yorkers love their dogs. And a lot of them hate to curb them. So, if you like to walk blissfully without looking down, don't wear your good shoes outside if you get what I'm dropping, pun intended. To pay for things here, you need money and unless you've saved enough before moving to the city of dreams, you must get a shitty job for a bit. And prepare to deal with New Yorkers with attitude. Although we really are not that bad, the rudeness is not a myth. But we're not rude, per se. A lot of us are just cranky because we’re sleepy. With the honking and sirens we have to hear in the middle of the night we get little rest. And when the train driver is late for work from being tired, too, guess who else is late everywhere they go? Speaking of trains and stations, brace yourself to see your first rat. And here’s a spoiler: they are nothing like ratatouille. Those dreams you have of being a big writer in New York City, you've better protect it like it's your baby. Because here, the city is full of dreams that have been stomped, kicked, then smooshed into the concrete. There are people who go crazy, broke, and jaded living here as a creative person. These streets can be unforgiving for the weak at heart.

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The Real

 

Depending on how enthusiastic you are about living in NYC you'll either take this as being the ugly truth or just the real. Ready? Here's the real. If you are a person with a pulse, New York City will be what you make it. You can't come here with your mind in the clouds thinking that opportunity is being handed out on the corners like flyers. You've got to hit the ground running the moment you drop off your bags in your new apartment. There is no rest until your goal has been met. It's expensive here, but you're creative so you must extend that creativity to your everyday life. As a writer living in NYC, I advise you to question every purchase you make. Learn how to cook and acquaint yourself with local green markets to get your produce on the cheap.

 

Be open to new experiences and your day not going as planned but still having a plan set in place, just in case. Forget everything you think you know about New York. It's not always a Sex and The City episode but it's not always a Law and Order: SVU episode either. What you've seen on TV is fiction. You’ll need to work a little harder to move into that brownstone and you must juggle a few writing gigs to make rent and to have enough to put food on the table. Despite the misconception, New Yorkers are friendly so make friends out here. But pick your friends like how you pick your fruit, understand? And yes, we've got pests and rodents crawling around but take precautions like cleaning up and putting things away to keep them starved and out of the place you rest your head.

 

You'll have rough days, but use that as fuel. Imagine the amazing stories you’ll create inspired by your bad day. The reason I stay so inspired in this city is because I'm constantly looking at any situation I find myself in as a learning experience. I use my bad days as inspiration to keep pushing or as a vehicle for a short story or novella. A lot of my stories originate from “what if” questions and my “what if” questions are heavily influenced by something I see or the conversations I overhear. And people in this city love to talk about any and everything on their cell phones making it easy to overcome writer’s block.

 

 

I may be bias when I say this but New York City is one of the best places to live as a writer. With stores that are open all hours of the night and people who have high dreams as tall as the skyscrapers that shape our skyline, it's impossible not to be attracted to living here. If you take anything from this, remember that success starts in your mind where you'll visualize that win before you get it. But here in New York where the survival of the fittest takes reign, only goal diggers survive. Get serious and make things happen. It's like they say, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. So, whether you see life in New York for the good, the bad, or the real, make sure you view it through the lens of a boss.

 

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Things That Being a Full-Time Author Has Taught Me

   

Don't get me wrong, workforce experience is invaluable. In fact, I'd highly recommend it if I wasn't sure at some point you'd gain some anyway if you don't have it already. When I say 'experience,' I'm not speaking of nor counting co-worker gossiping as part as the package, because we can observe and participate in that in high school and/or college. I'm talking good old resume experience that will count toward your next job and any other professional or personal endeavors down the line. So now that we're clear, let me share with you what I've learned in the traditional workplace.

In the traditional workplaces, I've learned an abundance of valuable soft skills. You know, the intangible stuff, skills like multi-tasking, people-relating, goal-oriented, leadership, communication, decision-making, creativity, problem-solving, being a team player, interpersonal etc.. and I have to say, these skill sets have really helped me with my personal business here as an author. Luckily, most of these soft skills were ones that I already possessed but were polished over the years as I learned how important they were along the way in the workplace. Also, most of the jobs I had were highly dependent on these soft skills than the hard ones. 

I learned the hard skills, you know, testable information, at work, and I picked up some more when I was a college student, though they were expanded upon when I went to graduate school, because learning HR required a lot of financial/spreadsheet exposure--basically, more than what I was comfortable with. My technical skills were improved when I had to do assignments with little to no hand holding. My technical skills were always the lowest, but indefinitely knew how to get by. At the least, I was the master at Internet surfing and Microsoft Word. 

The funny thing is, no one is looking over my shoulder, writing me up, pulling me in the office, evaluating my performance, offering me training, but I'm actually learning more being on my own. I do well when I work alone, because I actually have more confidence when I know no one is gonna cut the corner at any moment to save or evaluate me. However, I do work well with others because of my soft skills set. I can manage in both situations, but when you're an author, and a full time one at that, the game changes. 

You are the game.  

The game is based on you. The game is what you make it. It's all about you, and the number one skill you need to pick up is being observant. Look at the information around you and then process it to see how you'll make it work toward your advantage. What may work for someone else just may not work for you. You can borrow tactics, just not someone else's style. I encourage everyone to be themselves, because not only can we all sniff phony, but you don't want to keep up an act. That's why, this all starts with you.

Okay, so my number one natural asset is that I'm friendly. I can be blunt, mean, fierce, whatever, but that comes with a mood or reaction to something but overall, I'm a friendly woman who knows how to take care of herself. Friendly, not a pushover, not passive, just friendly. I genuinely love helping others, and I'm patient, too. I love relating to people and learning about them. As humans, we should help each other feel good. This interpersonal skill has allowed me to make strong connections with people whom I've never met and sadly, may never. Some are just too far away, but I do imagine myself resolving this distance issue with an extended or international book tour one day down the line. But right now, I have to start domestically. What's an author without a connection, especially us indies? Just think about it. Back in the day, not toooooo long ago, readers fell in love with their favorite author's books, but I'm gonna surmise that we thought of authors as robot-writing machines that just produced wonderful books. I mean, we knew these writers were humans with feelings and souls, but it was hard to get real information about them beyond the general About the Author page topped with a black and white photo cropped at the end of the book. I mean, when I was in love with RL Stine's books, I wanted to know exactly who this man was, but I knew beyond that funky one page, two-paragraph bio, this was it. And it had to do! If you went to the library to research your author, you had to pray that there was something there worth making the trip. See, I'm an 80s baby, so I can tell you that I had a better chance of finding books on the pudding pop king, Bill Cosby, and the great Oprah Winfrey, before I could on Ann M. Martin, hold on, what does she look like . . . Okay, I just googled Martin for the first time. Never knew what this lady looked like though I had a high stash of her books like an addict as a kid. 

Okay, sorry. As usual, I've digressed. But that's why you love me, huh? (Wink, wink) So, yes, as a full-time author, being observant can never let you down. You need to see and understand the trends, the cool places for us, timing--everything! Biggest lesson observed: Connecting the author dots of strategy that yields the best results for you takes time.   

Social media. I used it a lot, okay, more like moderately, but was indifferent to it. If I saw a job ad that read strong SM (social media) skills were needed to apply, I would cringe and move on. To be honest, social media sounded way too millennial for me and one could argue that I am a millennial or on the cusp, but it didn't matter when I was born, I saw SM as something I secretly prayed would die off. Why? It was the hype, man. It felt too superficial, too dependent. And now? I love it! (Cue the huge cheesy smile) Why? Remember I'm an author who loves, loves, loves her readers. Not only does SM help my sales, but I couldn't imagine never knowing or seeing my readers the way my favorite authors couldn't. Do you know how happy I feel when I receive a message from people reading my book? That instant feedback is indescribable. I'm gonna generalize and say all authors love this. It's like an artist going to a concert, singing, pouring his heart out on stage but seeing no one throwing up arms and hands or head bopping while mouthing the lyrics with the performer. No! Artists thrive off that participatory vibe and so do we! You readers let us know that we put all the words in all the right places! Biggest lesson learned: Embrace as many social media platforms that you can handle, because you'll cover more reader outreach that way, and try to enjoy it. 

Technical. (Dawn [yes, sorry, had to use third person] puts her a balled fist over her mouth like a homeboy from the 80s and says -->) "Ohhhhhh, snap!"  

If someone told me that I'd embrace and love technology to the degree I do now, I wouldn't believe it. I did already love and appreciate it, but being an author has made me expand my technical creative skills. Even though I have yet to send out any newsletters, I can produce my own. Not talking about black words against a white sheet. Obviously I mean newsletters enhanced by pictures and effects. And how fun is it to create a subscription?

Let me say this. If you want to keep paying people or get into the habit of it, you most certainly can. Maybe you don't mind paying whatever they charge out there for teasers, but I do. Teasers are another expression of your book. They're a quick easy visual that can draw new readers in. They get me more excited about my own book. They remind me of paintings of my book, and when I create my own painting on a whim, I couldn't be happier. I feel like no one should be painting my story but me. I have two or three teasers from a fellow book author/friend and she just threw them my way because she's just sweet like that, and I've posted them; she did a great job! I will accept free teasers but I won't pay for something I've learned to do. The whole process is too fun to give up. And sometimes, it's not about skill, it's about time. Some people just don't have the time, as they barely have any for writing.

Also, I built my own website. Okay, the template was provided but maneuvering through Squarespace isn't so easy at first, but I didn't give up. It was the hardest website, by far, to handle. Regardless, I wouldn't trade Squarespace for another right now. It taught me a lot and I love to learn. I also learned how to make book covers but I refuse to do that on my own. Your cover is your sell. I'll leave that to the professionals and respect my limitations. Biggest technical lesson learned: If you can learn it, do it. If you can't, delegate

They say things get better the more you do it, and let's face it writers, we write, like, every day. Between having to be constantly cognizant of the writing rules and seeing what our editors correct us about the most, we're constantly reminded of perfection. It's like finally being able to jog on the treadmill at 7.5 and only a handful of people can do that pace or better. And you won't jog at 3.4-4.5 because you see the person to your left and right doing that. You've become an asset unto yourself. Being quick and athletic can take you places. It's only when you enroll in a marathon do you begin to see your competitors or like-minded people. I prefer the latter in relation to writers. Well, most people don't get themselves in a tizzy if they don't write as concisely or grammatically. Writers do. And we notice mistakes in our sleep even if we choose to break some writing rules ourselves in our blogs, books, or social media. Why? Because we get sick of writing to "perfection" and we wanna let our hair down, too. We wanna take a break from being judged about what's coming out our mouths. Also, we shrug because we know we can clean it up if we really tried. But unless we're being paid to be precise (our books or at work), we like to break some writing rules at times. Written lesson learned:    Being able to write well is highly invaluable. Period. 

Money matters. You can have a high-paying job that doesn't require you to touch any financial statements. You don't need to look at the income statement? How about the cash flow statement? No? Well, when you're a writer, you need to pay attention to how much money you're rolling out to make this dream or hobby succeed. This is like any other home-based business. Decide to save and know when to spend. Know when you've recovered your spendings from your earnings. Being an author can be very expensive, but you can work smart to ease the pain. I discussed delegation which will normally cost, only if you don't have that skill. If you do, save that money and DIY. I try to only pay for what I honestly can't do or shouldn't do soley, like edit or make book covers. We also benefit from exploring marketing avenues and I find for me, next to editors, that can be costly but at least you can determine the budget for that. Also, book signings can become costly. Sometimes you have to pay for a post. Traveling to get there? Hotel stays aren't cheap and neither is gas. Will you have to pay for tolls? Get to know your tax breaks. No, really. You need to either have a great tax consultant on your side, in your ear, or know other people who work from home who know all the tax breaks so you can start recording transactions. It's only April. There's still time to get it together for 2018. Lesson learned on principles: Search for the best deals, get as much professional services and advice for free, don't underestimate the cost of marketing, and save! 

Being a leader of your own ship is fun, empowering, and brain wrecking. Some may call it scary, I just call it a part of life. Yup. It's scary if you set a finacncial goal and don't meet it. Think we can all relate to that. We wanna sell x amount of books and we sell z instead. But goals should all be realistic from jump. Once you really learn the market and establish yourself, you should be able to come up with more realistic numbers and hit or miss them. The first month, don't laugh if you aim to sell five paperbacks instead of 300. Why? What if you aim for 500 and only sell five? How will that make you feel? You should worry about making connections first because you're not the only author out there. You should always aim high, but be careful that the aim is more possible than not. We gotta put our work in, pay our dues, and no one is above that. I was lucky that people I knew supported me, and people knew I was authoring for months if not years. But also, get in love with free. If you're an author who likes to get things free, understand that your readers do, too. Hook them up. I'd rather hand out a lot of free first copies and have them pay for the rest of the trilogy or series. Again, I value my relationships with these people who may spend money on me in the future. But today, they're giving me their time and that time is valuable. The world doesn't revolve around me, and people don't wake up thinking about my needs and goals.

This brings me to my next point. Know when to strategize, meaning, think of the best time to mark your price down to $.99 or free, unless it already is. I'm at $3.99 for my ebook. Haven't done a markdown or free yet, but I will and boy am I excited. You can only do it once within a certain time span at KDP, so my advice is to do it at a strategic moment versus a random one. Know why you are choosing that moment and determine if it makes the most sense.

Also, no one will ever love your characters as much as the creator. You're the mom or dad, and no one should love your children more than you! Readers will absolutely fall in love, but you're the one who sticks with those characters when the cover to the story shuts many times over, but you have to love it enough to keep promoting your books for years to come. Eventually, readers move on even if they nestle your work somewhere in their hearts forever. 

You'll need a marketing plan. Luckily, I did one in graduate school. They say you'll fail without one. Doesn't hurt to have one. You'll do anything to succeed, right? Mine is eight pages and to me, they're never fun, but neither is doing things in life half-arsed. Don't forget to pull it out as you do this  author thing. You have to lead yourself. Trust me! Ain't no one coming to do it. Lesson learned: You should know your personal business like you know the neighborhood gossip.  

Time management is everything. I am a circus clown all day, every day. I drop balls, see them roll away on the floor, keep juggling, and then stop to pick up those balls. Look at me! I've collected all these subscribers for my newsletters and haven't sent one out yet. I have a technical question that I've yet to find an answer to, and I never got around to asking my mentor. (Shrugs) Nothing but good old trifling behavior on my end. When we dread something, we avoid it as long as possible. And because I can't get written up for it, that's when you got to be a leader and write yourself up or get it done. Hold up. Let me back that up. You should find a mentor. You'll need that go-to person who has years and wisdom in this field. No amount of enthusiasm or thirst to do this can compensate for someone else's experience. Again, stay humble and reach out. Don't make things harder or yourself when they don't have to be. You do love this, right? Then you'll do whatever you have to to make it work. You'll lose time doing something that doesn't work or trying to figure something out when you can hit up someone who's agreed to be there for you. 

From Dead to Alive

 One day, someone will write a piece about me, and this is what I'd want them to say about me. Hence, the third person. 

Dawn Wright has come a long way since her days as an assertive college student with little to her name other than car and student loan debt. Before attending college at an all-female college at the time in Washington DC, Wright was a bright-eyed high schooler from Centreville, Virginia, who lacked direction to her future and an understanding as to what it took to be successful in her adult years. Coming from a single-parent home with a mother steering the ship with two sons on each hip and Wright standing firm between her older brothers, speaking of ensuring future success was hard to do when making it each day was a task in and of itself. And though Wright never bothered to or knew how to map out a future for success, one thing was always unspoken and clear to her: she would succeed.

Dawn Wright was so optimistic about her potential and possibilities, that anticipating difficulties or a bumpy road never got factored into the equation. It wasn't until the devastating  loss of her brother, did she see for the first time, just how cruel life could feel. Even the financial struggles endured during childhood felt like a blessing compared to the loss of her sibling, who often felt like a twin, despite the four years between them. Growing up without a father felt like a hiccup that only developed into a pain only when mounting bills became too insurmountable for her mom. Seeing her mom trying to stretch a single budget among a family of four was the only time Wright could totally comprehend the point of a two-parent household. But because they'd all grown up so close, they had the team element down pat, which is what made her family so successful in bonding. So when they lost her brother, the snip in the thread could've unraveled the fabric of their family dynamic, but instead, their faith in God became the needle that weaved them on point.

It would take years for Dawn Wright to find that innate sparkle again, but no amount of college education and work experience could reignite that flame. They were all attempts to make her feel alive again in a functional corpse of confusion and doubt. Each year past her brother’s death offered her only one brick of mental stability and confidence. Building that house of life was a messy process, marked with nothing but uncertainty and withered direction. But it wasn't until Wright decided to go back to her initial pre-college notion and love, did she begin to feel like a real soul inhabited her body again. And that's when writing saved her life.

Even though Dawn Wright got around to her familiar-feeling self, she was well aware that she would never ever be that same carefree girl who lived on optimism alone. This Dawn Wright, knows now, that life can become cruel without a moment’s notice, that passion means nothing without a plan, and that failure is the partner to success.

The child turned high schooler who used to put her mind to anything, realized that if you think it, you get it. And that's why she thought optimism would need to be her only pistol to succeed in life. Cause and effect, the power of positive thinking, all these theories were validated when the "kid," pranced through school and college hallways. None of it was tainted by fear and doubt, despite shaky nerves. So as a kid, teen and young adult, she achieved. She just didn't plan. She adjusted or changed with the wind of her own emotions, giving into whims, doing what felt right at the moment. Laying bricks down just to pick them back up or toss them to the side, trying to build a house with mixed layouts. And then she  ended up homeless, even though she had a roof over her head and pride in her address. Her soul had no place to rest even in the comfort of her own king-sized bed, so it kept her awake some nights, even when she was fast asleep, it  bothered her throughout the day, even when all people saw was a picture-perfect smile.

Class is always in session. There's always a lesson to learn: adulting never stops.

Self-awareness is the biggest armor an adult can have to shield against threats of life. Self-awareness leads to purpose and purpose feeds the passion. And without these three things, we're dead. Breathing is an involuntary function that we take for granted, because duh, “we're supposed to do it.” But what's a breath if it doesn't count toward pursuance?

Today, Dawn Wright is building her mansion. All her bricks are stacked on the sidelines, waiting to be placed. The blueprint is clear, because being a full-time writer, made it all possible.

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The First Road is the Bumpiest

When I first started documenting my journey as an author, which occurred before my first book became published, I demonstrated more diligence. This, I know. Now, it's been nothing but a complete roller coaster of emotions. Not only do I blog to connect with you guys, my audience and to help offer up a little bit of transparency--because to know me is to know that I'm as private as a detective, but I do it to help those who would like to get started as an author but find themselves struggling with the steps or the courage to even get it started.

But in my efforts to keep on blogging about this, I've fallen back some. Okay, well, way some. Lately it's been a slippery slope and sometimes a girl throws up her hands as says, "F it," when she gets overwhelmed and feels the need to have to choose between the angles of her writing business. As I've always stated before, we indie authors do a lot for our businesss and it just ain't writing, taking care of a family or going to work that needs our attention. This is not my moment of asking you to pass me a Kleenex or for you to cue the violins of pity. It's just fact. But let me add, sometimes I got to catch up on my TV shows. Yes! I said it. Well, hold up, don't suck your teeth at me--let me explain. You know I always have to.

Television provides visuals of fantasy (fiction living) and reality TV. I like to see how drama plays out. You begin to become an expert on these things, because let's face it, you don't want that level of entertainment in your personal life, and you also don't have one as interesting as scripted TV. So, you gotta escape and see how others do it.  You can study reactions, study personalities, really get into the psychology of it all. And that's my favorite part of human interaction whether in real life or TV--the psychology of it all. And did I mention I'm a movie goer? Absolutely. Though, I've chilled on that because I'd rather be writing than to leave my house for an expensive trip that may not pay off. Nuh-uh, girl done given Hollywood too much of her time and money from 2009-2015 just to feel like it was time to start evaluating how badly I wanted to see these fast-food quality flicks anymore. Talk about movies coming out like hot cakes made of kindergarten paste instead of real flour. Smh. Where has the pacing of making movies to ensure great reception by audiences abroad gone? Is it all about speed and super visuals now? Yes. And I didn't want any part of that anymore. We're talking about a woman who got up like everyone else and hated her job to the point of wanting to . . . Ew. I won't go there emotionally nor will I bore you with details. Though, you wouldn't be bored but, oh well, not elaborating. So, yeah, I'd spent too much time at work just to come home and give my money away at the theatres for a bad movie. I mean, it'd gotten to the point where my man and I would look at one another and be like, "You got me?" because neither one of us wanted to pay for trash anymore. Sad. But when you occasionally see a good movie--and I've learned to really take Rotten Tomatoes into deeper consideration when heading to a movie, I make sure the buzz is next to flawless now so I don't feel robbed of time afterwards--it's worth the reward because as an author, you get to examine these other writers tell their stories. Those visuals, facial expressions, reactions . . . I love to see how that all plays out because when you write, that has to be in your book, too. So, that's why I love movies and TV because it's endless studying of the overall craft of fictional entertainment by the usage of characters, real or fake, to make it all come to life. 

But like I said before, many, many paragraphs above, many things compete for our attention as authors. Indie authors, I mean. We have to have our spoon in every pot of sauce on the stove. We always have to look alive. You know how many authors throw release parties? Do cover reveals? Have takeovers? Yeah, I'm so bad at attending these events because I get so many invites in one week and then I think of the business aspects that need my attention so I decline to go. I feel horrible, but I know I'd have to set an alarm or I'd miss it or be out in public when I thought I'd have that time slot free. That's another thing about being a full-time author. Your schedule is open but filled at the same time. No two days are alike for me. I got numerous things to get done and certain days I'm able to achieve them than on others. The worst thing is when people assume that you can do things on a whim or at their beck and call. No, I cannot. Again, I have a business to run and no responsibility ever runs out. Never.

Do you know that writing will begin to feel like the smallest slice of your indie pie? Social media presence is a huge slice but it cannot get in the way of your writing! Nothing can. So when I feel my phone calling me to answer interactions or to post or to do anything website-related, I pull back if it will get in the way. Editing is just as demanding as writing. This is a great goal to get to. It means you've completed the first full draft of your book--you have a book, my friend. But what have I been preaching? That's the minimum bar you should hit, and after a while, you'll feel like, "Gee. Hurrah. I've written a book. Whoopty. Look at all the other high and insurmountable mountains I have to climb. Yes. That's what I've been saying. This business is relentless and will leave you behind. Write. Edit. Interact. Network. Market. Advertise. Study. Research. (No, never confuse study with research. They are no more the same than marketing is to advertising. Study means to learn your craft and all aspects in any way, shape, or form. Research is to dig up true and accurate information to support your book's plot.) And by the way, this week, I said, "Dawn. You are going to those online parties and events, no matter what." So I clicked 'yes'  to quite a few this week! 

Lately, I've been learning from my mistakes. Like not blogging as much. You become that neighbor who everyone thinks is dead because you were the one they used to see outside on a semi-regular basis talking to neighbors or at least waxing her car. I hear the knocks at my door, as quite a few concerned neighbors stop by my website to make sure I haven't given up. I'm here guys, I'm back, and thank you for checking in on me. You never want anyone to fall under the impression that you've given up, pooped out or died. Never. And I've done just that. 

So what have I been doing?  

I've been learning from my first-time attempts so when I release my next book, things will be smoother. I mean, publication and I are gonna fight! Well, we've smoothed things over but it wasn't without irritation on my behalf and game playing on publication's behalf. When I say back in December I was ready, not ready, to throw in the towel on my writing career-- boy! You don't know. Publishing my ebook made me wanna cry. And you know I stay G'd up. I don't cry. But Kindle kept playing and I was like, go head with that Kindle. Okay, it was taking one of my editor's inputs and displaying it in the uploaded book to be published. Say what?! Yes! After accepting or rejecting his input and not seeing it anymore, my Kindle version was!!!! And my format was a little off. Grrrrr. Kindle reps were NO help, they were lost. Then one Kindle lady had a brilliant idea: to ask a manager above her head! Whowouldathot? (Cue the eye roll here--thanks, hon). Then I was back in love with the Kindle department again. Say cheez! We can all be friends again. So, then I was determined to put my paperback up. This was the fun--no the best--part. Why? Because in the Kindle format, you cannot use special font and expect it to translate into the digital version. Nope. So like, my chapter titles are in special font and size. Nope. Not gonna happen. Everyone is a straight up basic G on Kindle. All letters are the same. But over there at Createspace, you can give promotions to certain letters and make them suckas shiiiiiine. And the book sizing is cool, too. You know, you choose 6 x 9 trim size and then go back to your document and make it a 6 x 9 as well and boom. Ya good to go. But can I tell you something? This, too, made me wanna cry.

My book cover designer does strictly ebooks. So I couldn't use my book cover for Createspace and this took hours to figure out. As a first-time publisher, you never imagine that your designer may only design for one format of books. Didn't know that until what, a year after he designed my cover. Oh! And he lives in the Philippines and his English isn't the strongest. But he can design his butt off and his rating is out of this world. So. When you find a book designer, make sure he or she does paperback as well. I reached out to him because I needed him to provide me with my source file, which he'd lost!!! Always buy your source file with your books. Anyway, I have him to do the last two designs of my trilogy, then I may switch, not totally sure yet, and then I have another designer, who resizes my book for paperback for only $25. She was a life saver. Imagine not knowing if you can use your cover after all and people have seen it and your whole mind and everything is wrapped around this one freaking cover! Author nightmare! But Lee Ching saved my life! She lives in South Africa with fantastic English so she and I just have a huge time difference but she gets exactly what I want. But guess what? Nightmare not gone. I released the paperback for $22.50 because I printed it at 1.5 spacing and thought it looked clean. But the book was 666 pages. Eeeeek. Why that number? And Createspace won't let you sell the book cheap with that many pages. This was the lowest price I could get! Who was I? Stephen King? But reluctantly, I did it. I put it out there. But it doesn't stop there. Had to pull the book off the cyber shelves, because there were a few mistakes that I couldn't live with. Like my sister-in-law pointed out, I had an H missing at the end of Pittsburgh. Gasp! My editors didn't pick it up, I didn't and neither did spell check. Perhaps it was because there is a place with that spelling but it ain't in Pennsylvania. So, between the 666, (my book looked like an encyclopedia but this made some readers happy), the few mistakes, and the need to make a single-line spacing to get the price down, I had to pull the book off the cyber shelves. Nightmare over? I think not. But remember, nothing worthwhile comes easy, and that chant played in my head more than any of my favorite songs. 

So, here I was reformatting my FN triple six pages, when, some lines wouldn't scooch up like I wanted. Y'all, some lines had extra space between them. Come onnnnnn!!!! So I called Microsoft after researching answers that didn't pertain to nor fix my problem, and the ONLY thing I got was, "We think this may be your document with an issue and we can fix that for $145." Me: "Excuse me? What?! So, you want me to pay $145 for line spacing?" Cue the music of doom and drama! Cue it! Were they FN nuts? Them shoe money right der. Me: "Well, can you at least email possible things to try first?" I was smart enough to know that an answer was simple and had to be in the program somewhere. Here I was with visuals of writing the devil's number of pages over again. Really? She agreed and we hung up. Hours later, after I thought that broad played me and gave up, she sent me an email. Yay! Checked it out and rolled my eyes. You should've see some of the suggestions. One of them, so simple and yet it filled me with such doubt--- Okay, imagine a blank MS doc page. The top has that banner of options and one of them is headings on the home tab. The one that says No Spacing AaBbCcDd? I clicked that and it helped! But that's not it, it wasn't consistent. You had to play around with the paragraphs and redo this and that but it was a cycle of steps I had to figure it out and once I did, then heaven appeared. I didn't have to rewrite my book after all or leave it at the devil number amount of pages with mistakes. Whew! So, Lee Ching made another buck off me because she had to readjust my 6 x 9 to accommodate 378 pages and not that other number. Createspace kept giving her lip about the spine but my genius girl figured it all out! It took about two days of going back and forth and you know the time difference is a butt but she she saved mine. So. Imagine paying your primary book designer twice but the second price not as steep. Imagine paying your other designer twice. But at least the English barrier paid off for my primary designer. Basically, when he lost my original file and asked me to send my book cover back to him, I made it clear I wanted it to be the exact same thing. When he sent it back it was brighter but slightly different and I almost chewed him out for it. He didn't get it so I relented and for me, it paid off.

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See, above pic is brighter and highlights my name.

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Original: A little more one-note darker. Not as good.

 

So anyway, after all that, yesterday, I finally made my way to the LOC to drop off my two copies, but when I got there they were like, you need the Madison Building. Gah! You hear less as an author because you get constant information in your ears ALL. DAY. LONG. So, if you ever visit D.C. or if you live nearby, like me, just know, don't go to the actual Library of Congress like me and climb all those stairs and face security checks. Just go to the Madison Building right across the street and you'll have a quicker security experience and no steps. Just smooth sailing four stories up to place your work of beauty in the arms of the Copyright Office. And when the clerk looks at your work and asks, "You wrote all this?" You nod with pride in knowing that all the humps and bumps were all worth it. 

The Crummy Days

 

It all started when I decided to re-edit my paperback. So I did what I thought I'd never do. I yanked that sucka off the market. I haven't blogged since January, and that's just straight up unforgivable. I do apologize--for those who have noticed--my prolonged absence. But this is what I've been up to. 

So I took the book down. There were some changes I wanted to make to the 665-page book. This book cost $22.50 and I didn't like that, regardless of the royalty rate, because who would pay that much for a new author when Stephen King books cost that much? So, I sacrificed my desire for the layout and reformatted the book. I went from 1.5 spacing to single. And to be clear, Createspace sets the minimum price based on page count/weight.

So the hardest part was going back over the book aaaaaaall over again. Everything had to be precise. That's how I work. You'd think you can hit Select All and hit Single and check the Don't Add Extra Space Between Lines box, but no. Sometimes the space still remains less than 1.5 and you have to hit the headline box No Spacing just to readjust the lines. You don't want extra space between paragraphs because readers will come for you and they deserve better because this is not just an under-five-dollar investment. You've asked them to spend Panera-meal money on your book. Well, things were far from right so yeah, I couldn't rest until things were right. But I also couldn't spend countless hours behind the laptop. I had a life to live and another book to write. You just don't know. As much as I love my book, I didn't want to keep rereading it when I had another book to edit--the sequel. 

Well, the format and interior passed with flying colors but with a new page count of 380, the current spine measurement wouldn't accommodate this new page count. So after paying a different book designer to readjust my dimensions, she had to go over it like three to four times before it took. I JUST got the memo from Createspace that the book is actually ready again, which will now be sold at $13.55. Yaaay me! A reasonable price for a new author. 

But to make things clear, last week I just started the edits to my second book, Capital Consequences. Both of my editors actually had their hands in it at least a year ago and I'm just now doing them. As an author, my personal struggle is moving slower than preferred, because I struggle with trying to pen more than one book at a time. That's the least of my juggling behavior. I don't delegate nothing so my hands stay in all types of pies. Yup. I'm so guilty that I started a new trilogy and I thought I'd never do one again. But this one will be very different. I won't be juggling four characters and it'll also be from a male's POV. 

So. I'm happier now. I'm more focused--we'll sort of. I never thought I had ADD until late last year. Not joking at all. But more than everything, I feel human again. I can stop focusing on Capital Encounters and focus on solely marketing it. Not editing it!!!  So yeah, this is what I've been up to. I'll be shooting off my first newsletter this week since I have literally closed the chapter on Capital Encounters. Well--never do we authors leave a book behind, but you catch my draft--I mean, drift.  

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The Playlist

Haven't you been down this road before while driving down a road? Cheesy, I know. (Big grin) But might I ask: Why does music sound better in the car? It just goes down better with a scenery passing by on either side and cars gliding past. Nothing compares to music blasting in a car--nothing. I swear the seats have something in the cushion, something brewing under your butt like uhhh nostalgia! Yeah. And the rearview mirrors have power like invisible laser beams that zaps into your mind to play memories in your head like sitcoms in syndication. But you love it! And you think that everyone that knows you is stopping what they're doing to feel the emotions with you. I don't know. I always knew I was weird so maybe it's just me. Even the person in the car beside you should feel the pinch in your heart or the excitement NASCARing through your veins. Don't they? What's wrong with those people?

Well, since music brings us all together, how about I share my playlist with you? How about I tell you what I go through?  (This is the author in me.) I hop in my black muscle car and strap on my safety belt. I pick up my iPhone because I haven't bothered to replace my iPod, and I open up YouTube. My boyfriend has finally gotten to the point of not shaking his head at me for relying on videos to pose as a source of a music playlist. At least after months of harassment, just last week I've finally gotten to the point of making a legit playlist instead of typing in a new song per red light. I think he's somewhat proud of me now.

But here we go: 

 

20. Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance 

 

Okay, okay, Simmer down friends. I HATED this song as a child but I heard it in the latest commercial for Express and was like, "What?! Forgot that song existed!!!" Now I get silly in the car with that song. 

Okay, okay, Simmer down friends. I HATED this song as a child but I heard it in the latest commercial for Express and was like, "What?! Forgot that song existed!!!" Now I get silly in the car with that song. 

19: Mya: Fallen  

 

This is one song that people probably slept on compared to her other songs. This song doesn't blossom till the end when the strings come in and the ending is beautiful and topped off with congos. As an ex-percussionist, I'm a sucker for any drumline instrument. I'm a recent fan of this song, too. 

This is one song that people probably slept on compared to her other songs. This song doesn't blossom till the end when the strings come in and the ending is beautiful and topped off with congos. As an ex-percussionist, I'm a sucker for any drumline instrument. I'm a recent fan of this song, too. 

18: Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam: Can You Feel the Beat

 

Eighties oldie by goodie. Grew up with them. Love their collection. Need I say more? But I play the extended version, because uhhhh, I FEEL the beat.  

Eighties oldie by goodie. Grew up with them. Love their collection. Need I say more? But I play the extended version, because uhhhh, I FEEL the beat.  

17: Joyce Sims: All in All

 

What is this song? you ask with attitude and cocked brows. Relax. My boyfriend deejayed this at a New Years Party and one woman from NYC went wild. I didn't get it until he played it in the car and you know the rest . . . Give it a try but blast it. Very energetic and it fits the club scene in my book.  

What is this song? you ask with attitude and cocked brows. Relax. My boyfriend deejayed this at a New Years Party and one woman from NYC went wild. I didn't get it until he played it in the car and you know the rest . . . Give it a try but blast it. Very energetic and it fits the club scene in my book.  

16: Jennifer Hudson: Dressed Up in Love

 

I'm a HUGE Sex and the City fan and her pipes send chills down my spine. Need I say more?

I'm a HUGE Sex and the City fan and her pipes send chills down my spine. Need I say more?

15: Tear for Fears: Everybody Wants to Rule the World  

 

This song used to make me wanna cry as a child. Yup. I was a sentimental thing and I still am today. But now, this song just gives me good vibes--with a hint of sadness.  

This song used to make me wanna cry as a child. Yup. I was a sentimental thing and I still am today. But now, this song just gives me good vibes--with a hint of sadness.  

14: New Edition: If it Isn't Love

 

Aaaaand what little black girl from the 80's didn't like them? And who doesn't love the idea of their movie airing this month on BET if they were a fan back then? I'll wait . . .     

Aaaaand what little black girl from the 80's didn't like them? And who doesn't love the idea of their movie airing this month on BET if they were a fan back then? I'll wait . . . 

 

 

13: Missy Elliott: Beep Me 911

 

Give it up to the lady of innovation, Missy Freaking Elliott. Back then, 702 was the shizzz. Steelo? But combine these two awesomes together and you get a hit of mental ciggaweed that takes you baaaaack. Don't worry, I don't smoke. 

Give it up to the lady of innovation, Missy Freaking Elliott. Back then, 702 was the shizzz. Steelo? But combine these two awesomes together and you get a hit of mental ciggaweed that takes you baaaaack. Don't worry, I don't smoke. 

12: UGK ft. Outkast: I Choose You

 

I love how the song takes a while to crank up because Andre 3000 is tappin (talking and rapping) in the beginning, but when the song cranks, it cranks and the song makes you hammer the air with a Snook Dog gangsta lip. All of a sudden, the cars beside you wanna know what's happening. 

I love how the song takes a while to crank up because Andre 3000 is tappin (talking and rapping) in the beginning, but when the song cranks, it cranks and the song makes you hammer the air with a Snook Dog gangsta lip. All of a sudden, the cars beside you wanna know what's happening. 

11: Gwen Stefani: Cool

 

Hated this song and ignored it when it first came out. Now I like her whiny bridge and chorus. Sounds a little 80-ish so you can't go wrong there. C-cool.  

Hated this song and ignored it when it first came out. Now I like her whiny bridge and chorus. Sounds a little 80-ish so you can't go wrong there. C-cool.  

10: Ohio Players: Fire

 

Now hold on. Give me a chance. First of all, this song has a good pace and thanks to Hell's Kitchen, I finally got curious enough to just look it up. Sometimes, it's okay to just get down to some good ole funk with some congos and a guitar! Yeah, I'm down. 

Now hold on. Give me a chance. First of all, this song has a good pace and thanks to Hell's Kitchen, I finally got curious enough to just look it up. Sometimes, it's okay to just get down to some good ole funk with some congos and a guitar! Yeah, I'm down. 

9: Def Leppard: Love Bites

This song is beautiful. The end. 

This song is beautiful. The end. 

8:  Partners in Rhyme: Kasam Se

 

I'm sure no one has heard of this song. That's okay. But it is absolutely beautiful. Just beautiful. It also comes with a hot beat and some lady singing in a language I cannot understand. Some of the best songs, we cannot understand. But I don't mind foreign languages singing in my ear at all. I embrace it! And this song is no exception but it brings it in all different directions. YouTube it. You won't be sorry.  

I'm sure no one has heard of this song. That's okay. But it is absolutely beautiful. Just beautiful. It also comes with a hot beat and some lady singing in a language I cannot understand. Some of the best songs, we cannot understand. But I don't mind foreign languages singing in my ear at all. I embrace it! And this song is no exception but it brings it in all different directions. YouTube it. You won't be sorry.  

7: Kascade: Move for Me

 

Did you know I love dance/house/techno music? Well you do now. And this song has such a slight 80's hint that you could almost miss it. But I enjoy this song most at night when I drive into the city. 

Did you know I love dance/house/techno music? Well you do now. And this song has such a slight 80's hint that you could almost miss it. But I enjoy this song most at night when I drive into the city. 

6: The Who: Eminence Front

 

If you have a TV you've heard of this song. Thanks, GM! They were smart to pair this hot and sexy song with their product. This song is a hidden gem.  

If you have a TV you've heard of this song. Thanks, GM! They were smart to pair this hot and sexy song with their product. This song is a hidden gem.  

5: Justin Bierber and Skrillex: Where Are U Now

 

Okay. First of all, if anyone would've told me years ago that I would've included this boy in my playlist I would've punched them. But let's give this man props. This album has been unforgettable and when you hear this song, you stop what you're doing and you slide your neck and shoulders. Genius. 

Okay. First of all, if anyone would've told me years ago that I would've included this boy in my playlist I would've punched them. But let's give this man props. This album has been unforgettable and when you hear this song, you stop what you're doing and you slide your neck and shoulders. Genius. 

4: Tito Rojas

 

What's a list without salsa? Ohhhh this song. Ohhhh this song. Blast it, listen to the string bass. Appreciate. Good. Music. I'm a big old school salsa fan. It also keeps me on my toes with my Spanish.  

What's a list without salsa? Ohhhh this song. Ohhhh this song. Blast it, listen to the string bass. Appreciate. Good. Music. I'm a big old school salsa fan. It also keeps me on my toes with my Spanish.  

3: Ariana Grande: Side to Side

 

I know songs lose their heat as you get used to them, especially when they're very recent. But, let's ignore that for a moment. I like her voice, and when you pair it with the reggae sound, you get something magical here. I just can't imagine what that video shot must smell like when you mix genitals and steam. 😂😂😂 

I know songs lose their heat as you get used to them, especially when they're very recent. But, let's ignore that for a moment. I like her voice, and when you pair it with the reggae sound, you get something magical here. I just can't imagine what that video shot must smell like when you mix genitals and steam. 😂😂😂 

2: Metallica: One

 

It almost made number one. Almost. I HATED his song as a child. My late brother loved this song. I didn't get it. I couldn't appreciate the talent that it took to make something so good like this, until one day I was playing pool with a group of guys, my homies, and this song came on. As an adult, I wanted to reconnect with it, so I downloaded it and fell in love with it. Too bad I can't tell my brother that he was on to something with this song, but I told my other brother. Can you ignore the fact that they made drums and a guitar sound like a machine gun? No. Can you do that? No. And hey, I'm an author and this song idea played off a book about war. Nuff said. 

It almost made number one. Almost. I HATED his song as a child. My late brother loved this song. I didn't get it. I couldn't appreciate the talent that it took to make something so good like this, until one day I was playing pool with a group of guys, my homies, and this song came on. As an adult, I wanted to reconnect with it, so I downloaded it and fell in love with it. Too bad I can't tell my brother that he was on to something with this song, but I told my other brother. Can you ignore the fact that they made drums and a guitar sound like a machine gun? No. Can you do that? No. And hey, I'm an author and this song idea played off a book about war. Nuff said. 

1: Nicki Parrot: They Say It's Spring

 

Well my little darlings. You probably won't get this. But this song is so simple yet beautiful and by the end, my heart is mushed. It's quiet but well heard, simple yet intricate and just wholesome. I like her voice and we don't hear stuff like this no more. I absolutely love the instruments and the NYC feeling you get. And if anything can remind me of NYC, then you've got my heart.  

Well my little darlings. You probably won't get this. But this song is so simple yet beautiful and by the end, my heart is mushed. It's quiet but well heard, simple yet intricate and just wholesome. I like her voice and we don't hear stuff like this no more. I absolutely love the instruments and the NYC feeling you get. And if anything can remind me of NYC, then you've got my heart.  

Well. That's me. All over the place and sentimental. Look them up and tell me what you think. Please feel free to blast me or agree or post your own. I always appreciate the feedback I receive about my blogs.  

When I Asked: Who would play your character in a movie?

Okay, okay. A lot of writers other than me must do this. It's funny how we authors share a lot of quirky qualities. I write this as I watch The Green Mile, loosely. Everyone has seen that movie but me, it seems, and I'm a Stephen King fan. 

Back on track, excuse me, but my main girl Summer from my book, Capital Encounters, has Amazonian golden brown hair, golden skin and green eyes. Right? It's 1:37 am and I think I have her described right. Teeheehee. We slip up at times. Pardone me! Okay, I have no clue yet who could nail her looks on the big screen, but I do have Amber who I think would be played rather nicely by Meagan Good. Ooh, chile. What you don't know is how badly I slaughtered her name until I googled it. Moving along, I don't think she'd be down to portray the likes of Amber and all her raunchiness but I would like her to play Amber. Emily? My Puerto Rican girl would be played by Karla Souza (HTGAWM). Wow. What will that show be like without Wes? Luckily he wasn't my favorite student but dang! He was the poster child!!! Ahem, right. Brooke, she would be played by someone gorgeous. I would probably have to scoop up some new faces for Summer and Brooke. Sometimes, Hollywood just can't give you what you need (wink, wink).

 

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But yes, that's what I would do so far. Cast two and scout for new talent on the other two. However, I'm afraid that Meagan would reject that role, lmao, so maybe I would need to cast for three. Hey, this is my imagination, so if I say Karla's got the job, then I gotta believe that she won't put up a fight and accept the role.  

My eye lids are trying to close with each word I write and I'm starting to ramble. Hey! This is an honest look here. What's happening on The Green Mile now? Tom Mean Hanks is about to fry the dome of The Green Mile dude. Awww, I forgot this man ain't even alive in real life either. Michael Duncan Clark is it? Man I'm good. And I didn't even google that! Wait, guys. I forgot the E in Clark because google told me so.  

Four Women and the City

Wow. It's already 2016 and . . . if you didn't know, I started walking my path to happiness in the fall of 2012. This path would lead to the best choice ever, one that I would commit to of my own volition. One that no one could interfere with and one that would bind me closer to God. I dropped everything to pursue my dream, anchored my fingers to the keyboard and the fear and worries of my soul at the bottom of the ocean with the Titanic somewhere. Allowed my laptop to become the nexus of my heart and head. I fell head over heels in love with my characters, and they told me what they wanted from me. I had to remove myself and let them take control, as they wouldn't have it any other way. What I wanted to censor had to take a backseat. Yes, there were times when I had to use my authority over them and put two diagonal bandaids over their mouths for fear of getting me in trouble, but for the most part, they got free reign as all characters should have. They did things I didn't agree with. Lots of them, in fact. But the goal had to be met so the story had to be told. 

This story, this trilogy, is a nod to Sex and the City. Sarah Jessica Parker and friends did something huge, something iconic, and that needs to be celebrated, yes, even ten years later. I wanted to tell my own side of a nod, to pay homage to the woman of D.C. because we are overshadowed by male politicians in power but where is our voice? New York City didn't give the fictional women of SACT a voice! They had to create one. No one's gonna do that and make it easy for you when you're in the minority. Women wanting to speak of (gasp) sex? In public, too? Circa 1998? Certainly some men think that women are domestic monoliths who speak nothing of vaginas and penises. Yeah . . . They're right! Women speak of dicks and pussies because when SATC came on, women looked at one another and said, "Yeah, Samantha! I don't want to say penis. I meant dick!" And guess what? No one died or had a heart attack. Barrier broken. Now do we go slinging these words all over the place like sailors enjoying a lager in the pub? Perhaps not. But women are tired of stereotypes. But back here in DC, women have a bigger problem than women in NYC: trying to be seen among the historical structures, government ID badges, and yes, Capitol Hill figures. We're more than teachers. We're entrepreneurs, we're ambitious career-climbing employees, we're degree-seeking students, we're in the dating pool, we're married. But, we're Black women, we're Latinas. We can keep our natural hair texture and our accents. And we can still rise. 

So, when you open my book, Capital Encounters, realize that this book wasn't a joke for me. Understand that Carrie Bradshaw and friends we're lucky to have those voices even as White women. And they took those voices and ran with it! Know that I wanted to give my fictional women of color voices, too. We, too, aren't monoliths of the bitter, the beat down, and the grouchy. We should be able to calmly depict the bad of our people without the tarp of blame covering us all. By the way, actions are individualistic after all. And I'm okay with pushing that boundary. 

So, read, like, and enjoy my blood, sweat and tears. My characters made mistakes and are gonna have to learn to grow on their own. They were just nice enough to let the world watch them. I warned them about going public, but they wanted to be women in DC with voices. Besides, they think Ms. Bradshaw rocked even when she aired her dirtiest laundry. And if the goal is to inspire one another, I'd say that Carrie Bradshaw and friends did a great job of accomplishing that. 

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Why I Write Paranormal Romance by Debbie Herbert


 

Upon learning I write paranormal romance, people often look perplexed and one of the first questions they ask is – ‘Why’?

My short answer is a shrug and a cryptic remark that ‘it’s fun.’  The longer answer can be found in my tagline that describes the kind of books I write: “Where love, like magic, casts its own spell of enchantment.”

I’ve never outgrown my love of fairytales and mythology.  One of my fondest memories in Girl Scouts was reading about the housekeeping elves in the official Brownie’s Handbook

It’s the possibility of magic that tingles my creative drive and curiosity, the speculation that there is more to reality than we can perceive through our senses. 

My debut novel, Siren’s Secret, is the first book in a trilogy about a secret clan of shapeshifting mermaids living in a Southern Bayou.  Do I really believe that half-fish, half-human creatures populate deep waters that no man has yet traveled down?  No.  But who knows what really exists in the depths of the oceans or beyond our galaxies where humans have yet to explore. The human brain is a marvelous organism that by its very nature loves to seek answers and pioneer new ideas and concepts. 

And as far as the romance part of the writing equation – I’ve always been a sucker for love stories.  As a teenager, Harlequin books lined my bookshelves and I devoured them like candy.  The very first book I ever wrote, at age twenty, was a Harlequin romance.  I was newly married and we lived pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck so there was no money in the budget for a typewriter.  (Yes, I am dating myself here!)  My husband promised that if I actually wrote a book, we could purchase a manual typewriter.  I wrote that romance longhand on legal pads and he held up his end of the bargain.  (I don’t think he believed that I’d really finish it.) With a bottle of white-out by my side, I laboriously typed up the manuscript and submitted it to Harlequin, sure of a brilliant success.

Weeks later, my manuscript was returned with an editorial comment that blasted my book’s premise that a thirty-year-old man would really fall for a teen-aged girl.  Yeah, looking back now I realize that was more than a little creepy!  I still have that truly awful manuscript ina desk drawer.  Every now and then I pull it out and read the first page which poetically describes the changing color of leaves in autumn.  Hardly mesmerizing material.  So often I’ve vowed to throw it away, yet my hands pull back from the trashcan and back it goes into the bottom desk drawer.

Fast forward to the present . . . after retirement, I took up my old dream of writing.  How fitting that my first publishing contract is with Harlequin.  Life can be mysteriously circular at times.

I would love to hear why you read romances or paranormal romances.  What draws you to them as a reader?  Have you ever had something mysterious or eerily coincidental happen to you?  Let me know, I’m always hunting new stories and you may end up in one of my books!

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