Published Author, Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

My Exquerience – Agents Are People Too

I’ve sent out two queries so far this year. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but let me tell you, there is a lot of work that goes into each one. I’ve said this before… it can be very daunting submitting to an agent for a few reasons. First and foremost, sharing my work with anyone is daunting. Even now, four years into the self-publishing game, I still get a little sick to my stomach when my editor reads my work, and more so when I publish. To submit my work to an agent, a total stranger who I’m asking to take me on, is beyond nerve wracking!

It’s also daunting because each agency is different when it comes to their submission guidelines. I know I’ve touched on this before… it’s not like a huge job website where you upload a resume and start quick applying to every listing in the hopes to get an interview. Each one is specific in what they want. Some have a form that you fill out, some want an email with the first 25 or 50 pages attached as a document. And some want you to include everything in the body of the email. They make it very clear that if you miss one step of their guidelines, they won’t look at you. I get it, they want to make sure people are paying attention and researching the agents, but damn! I’ve had executive assistant jobs that required less attention to detail! I’m a writer, the details are in my stories!

As I was researching the agent I will submit to for the month of May, and of course, getting into my head about how superior these people are to me and that I’ll never be smart enough for them… I told myself to shut up. The agent photos are one extreme to the other. They either look like scholars who are going to look down on me, or they look young enough to be my child, and I’m intimidated by both! I had to remind myself that they’re people, too.

They put their pants on one leg at a time, they breathe the same air that I do. They do all the same things that anyone does, because they’re people! What a revelation! They get colds, they get hungry, they smile when something makes them happy, and cry when something makes them sad. They have ups and downs like we all do. They get breakouts, they have insecurities, they use the bathroom! Insert gasp here! How many times when we were growing up, did we think that teachers never went to the bathroom, and when we found out that they did in fact, use the bathroom just like us, we were floored? Agents, much like teachers, also use the bathroom! For the love of God, people, they poop!

What a silly thing to realize, right? Maybe, but it helped, and I know it will continue to help me through My Exquerience, to remember, that agents are people, too. Now I just have to get one to sign me on, find a huge publisher that has been wondering where I’ve been, and have my stories made into a movie or a series on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney Plus… well, you get the idea. Until then, I will keep submitting and of course, keep sharing my journey with you!

Thanks for following My Exquerience!

Novel, Published Author, Self Publishing, Writing

Falling In Love… With Fictional Characters

Any reader can attest to this… to say that they love to lose themself in the story of a good book… and to fall in love with the characters. It happens. A lot!

I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. For me, it was because of my love of acting. Taking on a role, and becoming that character was the best part about acting. It provided that escape from life, that escape from homework, friend drama, family drama… any drama! It created its own drama and I thrived on that. I still do. I’ve seen a ton of memes floating around on social media about readers falling in love with characters. But what about the writer? Has anyone ever wondered, while they’re reading a book, did the writer feel what I’m feeling?

One of my favorite quotes on writing is by Robert Frost. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I love this so much because it’s so true. As a writer I feel all of the emotions that my characters feel. I cry when they cry. I’m angry when they’re angry. I’m surprised when a twist in one of my stories happens, because if the reader is surprised, you can bet that I shook my head in confusion and said, “Didn’t see that coming!” And of course, when my characters fall in love, you can also be assured that I am head over heels in love with them, too.

It’s kind of funny to experience those feelings, but I look at it as a positive side effect. Those chills and flutters are exciting in the beginning of any relationship, so it’s fun to embrace them as a writer. Right now, I’m currently working on the third book in a trilogy. I just released the first book titled, Where We Belong. Just like I did in Where We Belong, and in the follow-up book that’s yet to be released, Coming Home, I’m falling in love with my current character in The Courage To Return. I love the visual of him (more on that in a future blog post), I love his quiet nature, I love how he loves.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I fall in love with the female characters, too. I even have a different kind of love for my evil characters. They create conflict and of course we want to see the protagonist overcome any adversity, but those villains are there for a reason, and I kind of love them. I think more than loving them, I just enjoy the hell out of writing them!

What about you? Do you fall in love with your characters when you read or write? Drop a comment and let me know! Thanks for stopping by!

Novel, Published Author, Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

My Exquerience April 6, 2022

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

“He who gets the most rejections wins!” “You have to go for No!” Those are two beloved quotes to cheer me on, from two of my favorite people.

It’s been one week since I submitted my first query of 2022. So far, no word. After I submitted, I received an email that included a link where I could go and check the status of my submission. As of yesterday, it’s still in review. I have no idea if that means they’re reading it, or they haven’t gotten to it yet. Either way, there’s really no news to report.

I have a spreadsheet with agencies, contact information, and the agent who I’ve researched that might be a good fit for me. As I was going through that this morning to see who the next lucky agent will be, I noticed that some of the agents I thought would be a good fit, probably aren’t. This is why extensive research is needed. For some reason, I had a few agents on there that, after really looking at their profile, I realized they aren’t for me, and I’m not for them. They want science fiction mixed with romance. I skimmed their profile and saw romance. After carefully reading it again this morning, I realized there’s nothing sci-fi about my books… except for maybe that most of the male characters I write would never exist in this world, they’re too perfect. Hmm… did I just find a loophole??

As most writers do, I tend to get in my head when it comes to my work. I know putting myself out there is the way to make things happen. I know that “No” is part of this process. The image below came up in my Facebook memories today. It’s very encouraging, and I find it interesting that I should see it on a Wednesday… the day of the week when I work on queries.

When my father read my first book, Set It Free, and I was finally able to look him in the eye again… I mean seriously, what part of “Don’t read the sex scenes” didn’t he understand?? Anyway, he was very complimentary, and he said that my writing put him in mind of Janet Evanovich. So, I love this post of hers for the encouragement, and I love it because my dad thinks I write like her. Aww, thanks, Dad!

Up next is a new agent to query. Looking at their submission guidelines, they want the first 50 pages of my book. The last place only wanted the first 25 pages. I wish it was more uniform across the board with every agent, but it’s not. This is why homework is needed.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read about My Exquerience. Stay tuned for more!

Novel, Published Author, Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

First Query Sent!

Query Sent!

Welcome to my Exquerience! I finally sent my first query letter of the year. Let me start by saying, yikes! As soon as I hit “submit” I told my daughter I needed a Pepto Bismal martini! (Side note… it’s actually a thing. I just looked it up. Eww! Here’s the Google search.) But really, my stomach was in knots, my hands were trembling, my knees were shaking… but I did it!

The thing is, I’m fully expecting a rejection, so I don’t know why I’m so nervous. Scratch that, yes, I do know why I’m so nervous. Because this means everything to me! Writing has become like breathing to me. I feel suffocated when I’m not doing it. My goal is to get representation and be published traditionally, so putting myself out there to find an agent is daunting. Plus, I think anyone who puts themself out there and is trying to reach a goal, no matter what that goal is, understands the anxiety it creates.

It took me a while to get it all together. A new bio, a brief synopsis, the query letter, and the number of pages required for the submission. I’m hoping now that I’ve compiled what’s needed for most queries, and saved the document, that future queries will be a smoother process with minor tweaks for what the agent requests. My goal is to submit one letter a month, hopefully more as I get more comfortable and of course, stop procrastinating!

As my dear friend tells me, the one with the most rejections wins! I love that because it means I’m trying. I’m putting myself out there and that’s a huge, huge step! Honestly, with how reclusive and shy I’ve become, I wonder how I ever stood on a stage and belted out a tune. I guess there’s just something magical about standing on a stage that brings that out in me, but I’m more comfortable telling the tale than acting it out.

I’ll keep submitting, and until I get an agent, I’ll keep writing and self-publishing. Speaking of which… my new book is now available!

Where We Belong is available in both print and digital form. I hope you check it out, and I hope you leave a positive review.

As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next exquerience!

Novel, Published Author, Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

Query Time… Take Two!

Welcome to the third blog post that chronicles my query experience… or as I like to call it, My Exquerience! Last time I posted, I wrote about how I was feeling twitchy just thinking about the possibility of sending a query letter. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there no matter what you’re doing! I take those nerves as a good sign. Back in the day… yes, I just said back in the day… when I was doing theater, I was always a bundle of nerves before I got on stage. I would pace, my hands would tremble, and I’d feel sick to my stomach. I’m surprised I never actually got sick before I performed, because that’s how badly the nerves would get me. But every time I stepped on that stage, all those nerves melted away and turned into energy for a good performance. Over time, I took those nerves to be a good thing. The rare times I felt chill before I went on stage, it wasn’t a stellar performance. So, I’m embracing my twitchiness.

Ok, I know I just recapped my last post, so I’ll move on. The book I was going to query was The Art of Zen. My first standalone novel. Well, I started looking at the query form, and it requests word count. In my research, all agents request word count. I got twitchy again. Zen is a long novel. Really long. Research says that a debut novel should only be 80,000 to 100,000 words. Well, even though Zen is not my debut novel, it would probably be considered a debut because I’ve never been traditionally published.

I pondered the situation and reached out to a few friends. Should I fudge the wordcount in the hopes that an agent will request the entire manuscript and fall in love with it? Outright lie? Or should I tell them the honest truth and hope they give me a chance? I knew what the right thing was, and that’s what I was told. Tell the truth. There’s no sense in lying when you’re trying to build a potential relationship with someone. I get it… and I felt guilty for even thinking of lying. So, if you happen to be reading this and you’re a literary agent, I apologize. I’m only human.

The dilemma is that Zen is over 200,000 words. Yup, you read that right. I write big books, and I cannot lie! (You rapped that, didn’t you?) After a long discussion with my editor, here’s what I came up with. I’m going to reread The Art of Zen and turn it into two books. Yay! More time with Tia and Spencer. I’m also going to re-edit my baby, Set It Free, and put that on my “To Query” list. In the meantime, I’m going to query Where We Belong, since it’s about half the size of Zen. It’s also releasing on March 23rd, so make sure to check it out!

Yesterday, I was supposed to work on my query for Where We Belong, but I hit a snag uploading the cover. I finally got it uploaded last night and it should be good to go. Now I can focus on shouting it out, and on reworking my query letter.

It’s a lot of work, and a total labor of love. But guess what? I love it! I’m in the midst of writing the third book in the Where We Belong trilogy. I just love this group of characters and I can’t wait to share them with all of you!

Thanks for reading, and for joining me on My Exquerience!

Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

Feeling Twitchy

I recently wrote about the journey I’m going on in finding a literary agent. My Query Experience, or as I like to call it, My Exquerience.

The goal is to do something every Wednesday, whether it’s search for an agent, work on the actual query letter, or submit a query. Well, this morning, I opened my handy dandy spreadsheet that I’ve created of a list of agents who might be a good fit. I clicked on the link to the one at the top of my list, read her submission guidelines… and almost threw up.

Seriously! Even as I’m writing this, my hands are shaking, and I have that rush of nervous adrenaline coursing through my veins. I haven’t even sent anything, or filled out her submission form, and I’m shaking like it’s opening night and I’ve forgotten all my lines. And it’s not even Wednesday! I’m just trying to set myself up for a strong tomorrow.

I guess it’s a good thing. I always say, no matter how many books I publish, I still get sick to my stomach when I think about people reading my work. I tell myself, that if I’m feeling twitchy, it means I care. Well, I must really care about finding a literary agent, because I haven’t been this nervous in years!

If I’ve learned anything since I’ve published my first novel, and in marketing myself on social media, it’s this. Does it make you nervous? Do it anyway. Does is make you sick to your stomach? Do it anyway. Are you afraid people are going to roll their eyes, laugh at you, or gossip about you behind your back? Do it anyway. You get the gist. No matter how it makes you feel, all those uncomfortable, scary feelings. Just do it, because you’ll always wonder, what if… I don’t want those what ifs in my life. I know the rejections are there. I’m expecting them, and embracing them.

I’m also embracing this twitchiness that I’m feeling. I’m going to sit with it for a while and visit these emotions. I’d offer them a cup of coffee, but I think the last thing this vibrating energy needs is more caffeine. This is important to me. So very important. I want this. And if wanting this means there’s a whole lot of twitchy going on, then so be it.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow, I submit the first query of 2022!

Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

The Query Experiment

At the end of 2021, I was talking to a good friend. She’s been a huge supporter of my writing and did a full creative edit on my very first book, Set It Free. We go way back… about 25 years ago (Yikes!) we did dinner theater together and we’ve stayed good friends ever since. When I first told her I wanted to write, we had a long conversation about how I wanted to publish. Would I pursue an agent, or would I publish independently? I chose to go the Indie route. Not because I didn’t want to face the expected rejections until I find the right agent, I chose it for a few reasons.

  • I wanted full control of my book
  • I wanted to write and publish it ASAP
  • I didn’t want to have wait years to hold it in my hands

There are other reasons, but of course I can’t think of them right now. I’ll add them in as they come to me.

Since I decided to self-publish, I’ve published 5 books, and my 6th book will be out on March 23, 2022. (In all honesty, I’ve published 6 books and my 7th book will be out in March. There was a collaboration in there that isn’t to be spoken of.) It’s been quite a ride! There have been many moments of frustration, impatience, work overload, and of course tears. Lots and lots of tears. At this point I’ve just accepted that it’s all part of the process. Even though I’ve been proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished, there has always been a part of me that wants to be represented by an agent and have my work picked up by a major publishing house. Well, just like I remember in my acting years that the parts weren’t going to come to me, I had to go find them, I am now telling myself the same thing about an agent. It’s time to go find one.

My plan was to start sending out queries at the beginning of 2022. As I’m writing this, it’s now March 2, 2022, and I haven’t done anything yet. Another friend of mine has frequently asked where I am in this process. I told her nowhere. I’m procrastinating, because it’s what I do best as a writer. She challenged me to set aside time every Wednesday to work on it and send at least one a month. I like that idea. It seems doable. Yet here I am, on the first Wednesday of March and instead of querying, I’m blogging.

The thing is, sending a query is not only daunting, but queries are also hard. It’s not like a job resume that you update and upload to Indeed and put it out there into cyberspace and hope for offers. No. You have to tailor each letter to the specifics that each agent wants. It’s a lot of work. It feels like editing. I loathe editing.

I know rejections are part of the process and as my creative editor/dinner theater actor friend likes to say, “The person with the most rejections wins!” Meaning, I can’t get rejected if I’m not trying. Those rejections are badges of honor that I’m putting myself out there in the hopes to find my agent.

So, here we go. Today begins what I’m calling, my “Exquerience”. I’m going to document this journey as I search for an agent and I’m going to share it all. The good, the bad, the ugly, and those rejections. Wish me luck!

21 Days of Wisdom, Meditation

21 Days of Wisdom, Days 5-13

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I just finished day 13 of the 21 Days of Wisdom course I started at the beginning of the month. At first, I thought I’d journal every single day, but then I stopped. Why, you may ask? For a few reasons.

  1. I wondered if anyone was truly interested in reading about what I was doing every day with this workshop. Since I’ve had a bit of traction with my posts, maybe people are interested. But I stopped documenting every day because I didn’t want to be boring and repetitive.
  2. There have been a few workshops that have been in-depth and I honestly wouldn’t know what to write about since I’m not an expert on the techniques being led.
  3. I was trying to participate and jot down notes at the same time and I didn’t feel like I was getting much out of it that way.
  4. I decided to be completely present in the workshops, then write about it later.

So, what’s happened in days 5-13? Honestly, I can’t put it into words. I feel a personal victory that I’ve made it this far. Showing up is half the battle. A lot of the breathing techniques take focus and I’ve realized I don’t have a lot of focus. This workshop is helping me in that area.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

I’ve learned different mantras, how to stay present in a moment, and as I mentioned different breathing techniques. It’s been very interesting. Not all days are Zen and Om, some days I feel very warm and energized after a workshop and that’s pretty amazing to me since all of it is done sitting down.

But, most of all, after every workshop, I feel calm. I think that’s a beautiful state of mind, to feel calm, especially in our world right now.

Photo by Grafixart_photo Samir BELHAMRA on Pexels.com

I’ve alternated using essential oils in Clary Sage and Lavender. I also have been lighting incense for the workshop, also alternating between the scents of Sandalwood and Lavender. Can you see a pattern? I love Lavender!

I won’t be doing a daily post, but I will follow up on this workshop once it’s complete. One more week to go, then I’ll get back to writing about writing. Thank you for reading and joining me on this journey!

21 Days of Wisdom, Meditation

21 Days of Wisdom, Day 4

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I just finished Day 4 of 21 Days of Wisdom. Today we started class with a small chat about how we’re liking the course. Since it’s so early in the morning and a weekend, I stayed off camera but was happy to contribute via audio. It’s nice to interact with others who are also on this journey.

As it seems will be the pattern, a mantra and a breathing exercise were included. Today’s mantra was, Om Namah Shivaya. This mantra is associated with qualities of prayer, divine-love, grace, truth, and blissfulness. When done correctly, it allegedly calms the mind and brings spiritual insight and knowledge.  (FYI, I didn’t come up with that pearl of wisdom, I read it on Wikipedia.)

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

The breathing was challenging again. You might read that and think, “Really, how hard is it to breathe?” Well, depending on how controlled the breathing is, or the rhythm of it, it can be quite challenging. Today’s breathing was very energizing. There were frequent moments where I stumbled. I’m learning that’s ok. I’ve never done this before so I can’t expect to be perfect. I’m allowing myself the grace and patience to learn, and I think that is growth right there! Any time I found myself stumbling, I paused, watched the instructor, then jumped back in.

At the end of today’s session, I felt cleansed and energized, almost as if I had worked out. Tomorrow is going to be ceremonial. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m anxious to find out. So, come back tomorrow and see what it is!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re enjoying my thoughts on this course. Make sure to check out my other posts for my thoughts on writing, and while you’re at it, check out my books!

21 Days of Wisdom, Meditation

21 Days of Wisdom, Day 3

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I just finished today’s lesson of 21 Days of Wisdom. We all know… at least we should… that it takes 21 days to break a habit or form a new habit. That’s the premise of this lesson, along with the cycle of the moon and the days getting shorter. I’m sure the very educated instructor would have a lovelier way of saying that, but I’m new to this, so this is what you get!

Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

One of the breathing exercises we did today included what I learned yesterday, the fire breath. Today we did a technique where we put our hand to our third eye, and with our thumb, held one nostril closed while we practiced the breathing. As the instructor said, there would be more clarity on one side over the other, meaning one of your nostrils is going to be clear and one will feel stuffed up. She wasn’t wrong. We started with breathing from the left nostril, and that was fine. Nice and clear, I found a good rhythm of breathing and felt calm and centered. When we moved to the right side, I struggled. I didn’t realize how stuffed up I was and trying to only breathe from that side made me feel a little panic. Obviously, I know that I can stop any time I want, but I wanted to see it through. I really want to take this meditation seriously and learn everything I can. So, I kept at it and went very slow. I also took breaks when needed… any time I felt panic that I couldn’t breathe, I paused and came out of the pose, then went back into it after a few seconds.

The next exercise we did was a mantra, Alakh Niranjan. This was interesting, and she suggested we use this mantra any time we feel like we’re stepping back into old habits. We said it out loud, then we whispered it, then we went silent with a subtle back and forth shift of our bodies and kept the mantra going in our minds. After a few minutes of this, we reversed the process and went from a whisper to a chant.

I know I’m only 3 days into this course, but I enjoy it and hope to make every live class. She emails a link to download a replay, but I like the consistency of doing it with her first thing in the morning. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, all participants have their camera and microphones off, so we can’t see each other. I tend to either get distracted by that, or I focus on myself and start obsessing over how I look.

These guided meditations are fast, that’s another thing I like. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to go for a long period of time, but for now, 20-ish minutes is working for me.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post!

21 Days of Wisdom, Meditation

21 Days of Wisdom, Day 2

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I just finished Day 2 of the 21 Days of Wisdom course that I’m taking. Today was a little different than yesterday. We focused on our breathing, and techniques on how to snap out of drama and a negative mindset.

Today’s breathing was interesting. She referred to the technique a few different ways. Breath of Fire or Skull Cleansing. Because I’m a research nerd, I Googled both terms and I found that it is also known as Skull Shining. The technical term is called Kapalabhati Breathing, and it’s a series of exhales through your nose while contracting your stomach muscles. The Google search brought up a lot of information that’s a little overwhelming, but it’s definitely something I hope to learn more about. Check out the search here.

Photo by Abhiram Prakash on Pexels.com

It’s only day 2 of this course, but so far, I like it. I haven’t done anything like it before, but I’ve always been interested in this. She teaches first thing in the morning, which is the best thing for me. I’m an early riser, so anything that’s going to take this kind of focus is best for me when I’m at my most alert. I’m the same with exercise. If I don’t do it first thing in the morning, I’m not doing it!

I also liked that we were taught a technique on how to flip your mindset. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, there are ways to pull you out of that and that was our main focus today. If you’re interested in learning more about this instructor, check out her YouTube Channel.

I’m looking forward to sharing more with you each day. Thanks for stopping by, now it’s time to go slay the day!

21 Days of Wisdom, Meditation

21 Days of Wisdom, Day 1

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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

21 Days of Wisdom         

Day 1

A client of mine was leading a workshop and she encouraged me to join. I knew about the workshop because I create monthly emails to go out to her subscribers. I was intrigued, as I am by all the products that she sells and the classes that she offers. Though I was interested in the workshop, I didn’t think I’d do it simply because I have a hard time focusing on meditation and self-centering. In fact, only two days ago I told a group of people that I’m not cut out to meditate and focus on my breathing. It’s just not me. Just like I don’t like to run, and I accept that, I guess maybe I don’t want to meditate. But, I’m an open-minded person, so I thought I’d give it a try.

First, we set the mood, if you will, with a candle, incense, or essential oil of your choice. I didn’t do a candle, simply because I have a fan at my desk and when I’ve tried a candle where I sit, it distracts me because I’m worried it’s going to blow out or get away from me somehow. I didn’t do incense today, either. No special reason, but I might tomorrow since we’re doing this for 21 days. I have a lot of oils and I didn’t know which one to use. I happened to have a Clary Sage blend in a rollerball on my desk, so I used that today. In my research I read that common oils to use in meditation are lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, or cedarwood. I have all of those except for sandalwood. Since I have 2 bottles of cedarwood, I’m going to use that, so I put my oil to good use.

Next, she led us through some breathing exercises and hand placement. At one point, she had us with our palms together in a prayer position, then we rubbed our palms together to open our hearts. This was interesting, because the simple act of doing that had my palms vibrating with energy. It’s been almost an hour after the class that I’m writing this, and my palms are still vibrating.

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I won’t get into the entire details of the class because I don’t remember every tiny detail. I was trying to focus, which is not my strong suit in meditation. Overall, I enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to the rest of this 21-day journey. I liked how she talked us through it and reaffirmed that mind wandering is going to happen, and it’s ok. Simply smile at the interruption as you would a young child, acknowledge it, then focus on your breathing.

I think this is a great way to start the day. I feel centered, calm, focused, and strangely, energized.

So, stay tuned if you wish, because I am going to document each day and I’m looking forward to my results at the end of 21 days.

Time to finish a chapter today! Thanks for stopping by!

Published Author, Self Publishing, Writing

Screw The Review

As a writer, I like to share my reviews. By doing that, I hope to entice readers to check out my books. It’s a great way to thank a reader for a positive review, and to show potential readers that it’s worth their time. It’s all part of how us independent authors promote our books.

Yesterday, I went to Amazon to screenshot a recent review that I could share on Instagram. Because I had recently looked at my book, it was in my browsing history. I saw the number next to the book had increased by one, which meant I had a new review. Then I noticed the stars had decreased from 5 to 4, so I braced myself for a bad review. Sure enough, there was a new review. It wasn’t… bad… until it was.

A 4 star review is a bitchy move in my eyes. It means you enjoyed the book enough to give it praise, but your ego is in the way so taking away that one star makes you feel powerful. This person who deemed my book only worthy of her 4 precious stars is someone who has read the first three books in my series and loved them so much, she often promotes me on Instagram. I’ve been forever grateful that she gives me constant shout outs. She hasn’t promoted me recently, and really, that’s fine. I just figured she was busy writing because she’s also an author, or maybe she’s been reading. I know she’s an avid reader and is always talking about her latest read.

Why did I put the fact that she’s an author in bold? Because I think it’s important to point that out. In her review, she praised the path of the story and the happy ending these characters finally get to have. (Trust me, I got some hate from books one and two!) That was great, she loved how it moved forward. Then she insulted my writing. She used a term that is so demeaning to other authors because we’re all “warned” against doing it. Head hopping. Moving from one perspective to another. Look it up. Everything you see about it will tell you that it’s basically writing suicide.

I disagree for several reasons. I believe that in writing, the rules are… there are no rules. Write what you want to read. I like to read books that have different perspectives in the same chapter. I write in third person. One reviewer called it semi-omniscient. When you watch a movie, you see reactions and emotions from all the characters. Why shouldn’t you experience that in a book? Also, because I see this term pop up frequently, I’ve done my research and if there is a genre where that rule can be broken, it’s in romance. Why? Because romance is the main point of view. Guess what? I write romance.

I have wonderful editors and final readers. Highly intelligent individuals who would tell me if my work didn’t make any sense. This person- who put that term in the review that’s available for the whole world to see on Amazon and Goodreads- had the decency after reading book 3, to email me and point out a few things she thought should be changed. Ok, I was a little taken aback that she would do that. I mean, I’d never think to do that to her, but at least she kept it private. This wasn’t private! I was so insulted, hurt really, that I got in my head all day and chastised myself for being a horrible writer!

Was that what she hoped to accomplish? Did she need to tear me down in order to build herself up? Has she never heard the phrase, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all? I wonder, if she knew how horrible I felt about myself after reading that, if maybe she wouldn’t have said that. She’s an author! A fellow writer! We’re all in this together, especially in the independent world. I’ve read several self-published books that I didn’t like. Because I’d never publicly shame someone or insult them, I gave them a positive review, pointed out what I did like, and kept my mouth shut on what I didn’t like. What’s the point?

As my editor’s husband pointed out, it’s one thing to leave a bad review about a product that didn’t work correctly but to say that about another person’s work is just plain shitty. I know that reviews are only opinions. But if her opinion of the overall story was a good one, why did she feel the need to take a dig? And it was a dig. How would she like it if I did it to her?

When I first started my journey as a writer, I received this advice, “Connect With Other Writers”. I did that. I went to a conference, met fellow romance authors there. I’ve connected with several writers on Instagram, done those stupid follow loops where people follow you, then unfollow you when you follow them back. I’ve collaborated with another author (More on that in a future post.) Do you know what connecting with other writers has done for me? It’s made me feel like shit about myself. I’ve participated in several author takeovers on Facebook and never gained a new reader. To me it was just a gathering of authors to see who had the best graphics and I never felt like I did compared to theirs. All I’ve seen are cliques of people who are never going to let you into their circle. No matter what I’ve done, or how I’ve tried to connect, I’ve always ended up feeling like the odd girl out. For the love of ***!!! I’m in my forties, I have no desire to feel like an awkward teenager again!

I honestly don’t know why this person said what she said. It was mean-spirited. End of story. I won’t reach out to ask her because if I wanted her critique I would have asked for it. In private. I hope she feels better about herself now. Maybe she needed to feel like she got her $3.99 worth from the purchase of the eBook.

If you’ve made it this far in this post, thank you for reading. Several people have told me to take it as compliment. “Brooke, you have a hater! You’ve made it!” Just be careful with your words when you’re leaving a review. Hundreds, probably thousands, of hours went into creating my book. For any author reading this, I know you can relate.

Rant over, but I’m still upset. I know a thick skin is needed in any industry if you want to succeed. I try to stay away from reviews because all it takes is one “meh” one to get into my head. But those good reviews really help us writers move forward. The bad ones make us want to walk away from something we love so much. So, from now on, my motto will be, Screw The Review!

Novel, Self Publishing, Writer's Block, Writing

8 Reasons I Don’t Want To Write… Right Now

It’s been a tough week in the world of writing. I’m really struggling to get through another chapter of my work in progress. It’s not because the story is boring, or because I don’t feel connected to my characters. There are a lot of reasons I’m just not feeling it right now.

Don’t get me wrong. I love writing. This is what I want to do full time. I want to write, create stories, and share them with the world. I want to be a best selling author. I want all of that. But this week, I don’t want to write.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Then of course, I question myself. Am I blocked or unmotivated? Some people will argue that writer’s block doesn’t truly exist. It simply means you’re unmotivated to put the work into your manuscript. I disagree with that. While I may entertain the idea that writer’s block isn’t real, because I’m not lacking for ideas or the path of my current story, I don’t think it’s always lack of motivation. For me, what I’ve realized in the past few days is, I’m burned out. I’ve put a lot of work into my current new release. I’m trying to build a business while I’m promoting my work. I think I’m spreading myself a bit thin and starting to recognize that a small break is in order.

I hope you continue to read so I can share with you, the 8 reasons I don’t want to write… right now.

  1. Burn Out
    Like I said, I’m stretching myself too thin between writing, editing, promoting, and working on growing my business so I can make money to contribute to my family.
  2. Netflix
    I blame You. Not you, the one reading this. I blame You. Season 3 of the crazy, messed up show came out last week and consumed me for three days. Yup, I binge watched the entire thing. Before that, I binge watched Midnight Mass. I keep finding shows to get sucked into and it’s cutting into my writing time.
  3. Mind Chatter
    I usually only struggle with mind chatter when I’m trying to meditate. Maybe I need to meditate? Maybe that will clear my head because right now, there’s a lot swirling around in there and it’s stifling my creativity.
  4. I’m In My Head
    Here’s the thing I’m really struggling with. Have you ever read one author’s work and several books into their inventory, you realize you’re basically reading the same story, just with different characters and a different location? I remember thinking this with one of my favorite authors. I’m not going to say who, because they’re a huge inspiration to me, but the last book of theirs I read, I remember thinking that it was all familiar. Sassy, strong female calls out mopey, distant male. They have witty banter where she puts him in his place several times, then of course, they have sex and all of that melts away. The details, and pacing of these books became so routine for me as I was reading that I stopped reading this author. I’m afraid that’s going to happen with me. I know, I know… I’m the first person to tell another artist to never compare your work to others, but this is really getting to me. Are my stories predictable? Do all of my characters experience intimacy in the same way? Are my steamy sex scenes predictable and boring? In my current WIP, I’m facing a steamy scene and I realize this is what is making me struggle. I’m so worried I’m going to write it like I’ve written so many before, so I’m just not doing it.
  5. Life
    I’ve got some stuff going on in my personal life that’s pretty heavy. Not sharing it, just listing that this is one of the reasons I’m not pushing forward. It’s hard to create when a certain situation keeps popping into your mind, and then all you can do is cry. Or get angry. Those emotions can fuel a good scene, but that’s not what I’m working with right now.
  6. Music
    Don’t get me wrong. Music is amazing and I love so many genres and have tons of favorite songs. Lately, I get certain songs stuck in my head. Not just an annoying ear worm (I hate that saying, by the way) but the same songs that will pop into my head at all hours, even late night hours when I’m supposed to be sound asleep. I’ll wake up out of nowhere with these songs in my head, and it’s not even the whole song. It’s a line in a song that repeats over and over and it annoys me. The more it annoys me, the more it plays. Anyone have any advice for clearing that? Seriously. I hate it.
  7. Social Media
    Yes, I know it’s my fault that I log into Facebook and scroll Instagram, but it’s a total distraction, not to mention a time suck and I’m 100% guilty. It’s great for procrastinating!
  8. I’m Selfish
    Yes, you read that right. I fully admit that I am a selfish person and that’s why I’m not writing. Here’s the thing. When characters present their stories to me, it’s just me and them for a long time. I watch the saga like a movie in my head. When I’m ready to start putting it into words, I’ve already become invested in them. Their lives, their heartache, their love… everything. When I am getting close to finishing a book, I slow down. I want to cherish those private moments I’ve witnessed and I’m not so quick to share. It happens with every book I write. For the past week, I’ve been daydreaming, which is important work for writers! I see their story, I feel their feelings, and I’m keeping it to myself because I’m not ready for it to end yet.

Follow up…

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

It’s been about a week since I wrote my 8 reasons why I didn’t want to write. I took the time to give my brain a rest. I have things I want to accomplish, and I’ve learned that when I try to rush through them, or do them all at once, I start to get frustrated and things don’t go as planned. That’s ok. Sometimes you have to walk away from what you’re working on, no matter how important it is to you. That break resets your mind. Creativity comes back. The words flow, my fingers move over my keyboard with ease. The words are definitely back. I’ve finished the chapter I was working on and my characters got to enjoy a steamy moment together. I’m still slowing down since I’m near the end of this particular book. I can’t help it. I love them and they’re real to me. I’m not ready to say goodbye to them yet, so for the time being, I’ll remain a little selfish.

Fellow writers, artists, musicians, creators of all kinds… how to you deal with a block? Do you believe in blocks, or do you think it’s being unmotivated or being burned out? I want to hear from you!

Thank you for reading my blog… stay tuned for more!

Job Interview, Workplace Drama, Writing

Current WIP

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Through my years working as a receptionist, administrative assistant, and an executive assistant, I’ve experienced some pretty crazy things! From bad bosses, to outlandish gossip, I’ve seen it all and I’ve heard it all. Some situations are so out there, you’d have to actually be there to experience it in order to believe it.
At one point, I started to outline a book sharing all of my experiences, but I decided to do something different instead.

For the past 2 years, I’ve been working as a virtual assistant. (Check out my Facebook page here!) I’ve taken my years of office experience and I’m now offering my services to solo professionals and small business owners. I specialize in helping them with all the admin pieces of their businesses, like email newsletters, website updates, and calendar management.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

If you’ve followed my writing, you may remember that a few years ago, I started to document the interviews I was going on in my search for a new job. Some were great experiences, some of them were absolutely ridiculous, none of them ended with a job offer.

So, you may wonder what one has to do with the other. Administration and writing fiction. Well, instead of writing a non-fiction book about my observations as an admin, or about all the tea I could spill, I decided to merge the two.

My current work in progress, or WIP, is titled Executive Decisions. It follows the story of blogger Lauren Lane, who has had a year filled with 17 job interviews and not one offer. In the 17th interview, Lauren meets Drew Hanson, the CEO of Hanson Enterprises. Drew peeks at her blog ten minutes before her arrival and decides right on the spot that he’s not going to hire her. During Lauren’s interview, he even quotes her writing back to her about her job interview experience.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

While most writers might be thrilled to have their work quoted back to them… Remember that scene from When Harry Met Sally? Harry’s friend Jess says, “No one has ever quoted me back to me before.” This should be a writer’s dream for Lauren, but not the way Drew Hanson does it. A run in after their interview shows the reader that these two might never see eye to eye. Instead of doing the mature thing and moving on from a bad interview, Lauren decides to take the low road for a bit and make Drew a perfect example of what a bad CEO looks like.

I have been having fun writing this book! When I write, my characters become real to me. It’s been nice to have Lauren to “share” my experiences with. She’s bold and honest when it comes to speaking up about the interviews she’s had, along with crazy workplace drama that she shares along the way.

I write contemporary romance, so somehow these two make peace and have an epic love story. Stay tuned for this one, you won’t want to miss it!

In the meantime, Meant To Be, book 4 in the Heart & Soul series will be available on October 5. Take a look at my author page on Amazon to see all of my books.

Thanks for stopping by!