Thursday, September 20, 2018

Release Day, Cover Reveal and Event Announcement!

It's finally release day! Thank you to everyone who preordered, The Witches of White Willow already! I'm super excited for book 1 of my new series to hit the virtual shelves.

I will have print copies available at Forster's Book Garden soon for those of you interested in that format.

Speaking of which, I have an event announcement.

That's right, I've convinced the talented Krista Walsh to come all the way from Ottawa to participate in a Witchfest North event with me! Celebrating all things witch in the spookiest month of the year, Krista and I will be at Forster's Book Garden reading from our newest witch themed books. Please come and join us for an evening of enchanted words!

And finally, I have the cover for book 2 in my Witch Hospital Romance series, Feral Heart will be out November 1 and you can preorder your copy now! LINK

A feral heart might bite but it’s the heart that needs love the most.
Bas Frank is a tough guy—a witch apart from others, and that’s the way he likes it. He learned young that human witches couldn’t be trusted with magic after his mother paid the ultimate price. His hatred has molded into armor over the years, putting his academic ambitions to the test when White Willow opens its doors to human witches.
When a dangerous incident lands Bas in trouble, he finds himself working in the dungeon, which isn’t as bad as it could be, considering his supervisor, Familiar Keeper Mina Knox, is hot-as-hell and takes no crap. He’s so enamored he falls in instant-lust…before the hammer drops and he learns about her human lineage.
But even with a lifetime of prejudice screaming at him that she can’t be trusted, Bas finds it impossible to keep his distance. He doesn’t want or expect to fall in love, but Mina’s compassion chinks his armor, and once a shield is weakened, it’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down.

That's it for now! I'm going to celebrate release day with some (a lot) of chocolate!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Witches of White Willow - A new paranormal romance!

Here it is! My newest paranormal romance series has begun! Preorder links are live so reserve your copy now! (Book goes live Sept. 20th!)

Even destiny can't get in the way of what is meant to be.
Hazel Knight is a Promised One—a witch born with unique magic abilities. As a result, her future is laid out for her. She is to join the Circle and spend the rest of her life meditating, chanting and devoting her healing magic to bolster her fellow witches. It’s a commitment Hazel is proud to make, and she’s just one internship away from fulfilling her destiny.
But just because Hazel’s committed to her destiny doesn’t mean she can't have some fun before she takes the final step. For the past year, she’s enjoyed many clandestine nights with a man who has given her a lifetime of memories to take with her. A mysterious lover whose name she’s never asked, whose face she’s never fully seen.
Yet when her internship begins, she has no trouble recognizing Healer Duke Hart, the exquisitely sexy witch whom her mother has handpicked to serve as her mentor.

Hazel only meant to have a little fun before she devoted herself to a life of servitude, but Duke is bound and determined to prove that nothing, not even destiny, is written in stone.

Release Date Sept. 20th!

I'm going to be over at Entangled's Paranormal Fan Page on Wednesday August 29th with a bunch of other fantastic authors! There will be prizes and games and loads of fun so come check it out!
(I'll be there around 10am EST but the fun goes all day!)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Where Can You Find Me?

I thought I'd update you on all the places we can connect (virtually speaking) since I've got some new books coming out very soon!

Sign up for exclusive excerpts, contests, announcements and more! 
I send one out every month and promise not to fill your mailbox with spam!

I typically cross post things at these two so you don't necessarily have to follow me on both.
I do tend to be more active on FB but recent changes will prevent my posts from being seen by many so I'll probably be spending more time on Twitter going forward.

This is a fantastic new site for romance readers. I'll be posting exclusive excerpts and contests (not ones I share with my newsletter folks) so if you want in, you should follow me there too!

You can give me a like here and get up to date news on my newest releases!

Follow me here and you'll get notified when my next release comes out!

You can find all of my books here at any retailer you prefer! 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Double, Double Toil & Trouble - #5 Motivation

I get asked a lot about motivation and how I find the time to write. I'm going to start with a bit of wisdom that one of my colleagues at my day job says often: The person who cares the most gets what they want. If something is important to you, you'll make it happen, no matter what. It could mean you must sacrifice something (or someone) like sleep, nights out with friends, a clean house,  (not virgins - no blood sacrifice needed) but if it's important, you find the time.

Every spare minute I have (mostly) is put into my writing work.

But really, how do I do this when I have a full time job, two kids, a husband, three cats, two guinea pigs --also Netflix, sleep, and eating?

I'm incredibly disciplined. That's it. If there's a job to do, I do it.

It's a skill I have honed over the years as a teacher, a job which requires a lot of organization and time management. It's carried over to my writing world quite effectively. I don't often procrastinate and when I do procrastinate, it's usually time being spent on some other writing related work.

I am also selfish. I know that being selfish is often looked at in a negative light but I'm going to tell you that you must be selfish to some extent if you are pursuing your dreams and goals. I don't do things to purposely hurt other people but I do put myself and my writing time first in many instances. I have learned to also say NO when I have things that need to get done. I've been on the other side, doing all the other things instead of write and that just turns me into a grumbly, pissed off lady.

I have talked to other writers who set aside certain days of the week or hours in the day for writing and that's a good start for carving out time for your writing. But if you aren't protecting that time or making up for lost time (because things happen and sometimes the one day you set aside for work gets taken over by an emergency) then you are not being selfish enough. If the writing is important to you, you'll make it happen.

I set word quotas. Daily, weekly ones that I alter depending on the time of year. I only use word quotas when I am actively in a project. I don't have time to write for the sake of writing (like journalling or stream of consciousness). I write for the sake of projects or blogging or contests or deadlines. And yes, I still enjoy writing even though I'm tackling it as a business rather than as a "creative" artist. This is why the idea of a muse doesn't work for me (see my post here), I can't wait for inspiration to strike if I'm actively involved in a project. I just have to write. So, typically I aim to get 2500+ words per day during the summer (because I'm off work) and 15-20K per week. During the school year that number decreases depending on what I have going on to about 1000 words per day and 10K per week. So far this year I have written approximately three novels and it's only July. I plan to write at least one more before the year is out but that will depend on my editing schedule...because don't forget, I'm also working on other aspects of writing at the same time. For example, blogging, marketing, editing, etc.

Where does this motivation come from?

I want to be a successful author so badly that I will work as hard as I need to to make it happen. If I'm not working as hard as I need to then I won't be ready when opportunity comes my way. I am also very "type A" and have a lot of will power when I  need to.

But that doesn't mean that failure doesn't get to me. And trust me, I've had a lot of failure...set backs, road blocks, etc. That's where external validation comes in. Creatives need external validation and anyone who tells you differently is full of shit or delusional. As the creative person, you decide what type of external validation you need and what will ultimately satisfy you. For me it was always acknowledgement from respected professionals. It wasn't until I started getting positive feedback from agents and editors that I truly felt validated as a writer. I reflect on those compliments whenever I feel down about my progress.

Another source for me is from readers. When I get feedback from readers that is positive and encouraging, it makes me feel like I'm doing something right and that I belong in this crazy writing world.

Any time I'm talking to another author who is really contemplating abandoning their writing, I always think it's because they are lacking in external validation...and figuring out what they need and from whom, and then going after that praise, is what they need to do to keep on keeping on. But it's not easy to get external validation sometimes because you totally can't control how someone else is going to react to your work. It really wasn't until I was well into my writing career that I started getting the kind of validation I needed to keep going...and it started slowly, quietly and I had to take a lot of hits, more than praise, to get the kind of validation I needed.

Which leads me to the last aspect of motivation that is important to consider: external vs internal (extrinsic vs intrinsic) motivation.

External is what motivates you outside of yourself and can be money, prizes and awards, reviews, fan mail, etc.

Internal is what motivates you within. What makes you want to write above doing all other things and despite all the negative shit that comes with it?

For me internal motivation goes hand in hand with my work ethic. I am a worker and I am efficient. I don't like sitting around when there are things that need to be done. I like writing, most of the time, and I get excited by new ideas and also by exploring new ways to tell stories. Writing is my passion and, for as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer so I'll do what I need to do to make it happen. I have dreams...great big dreams about long lines of readers waiting to get books signed and doing public interviews and running workshops and being acknowledged as an expert in my field in some way. So with that in mind, I keep on keeping on and I battle the hits that come, I weep a little when my soul is crushed and when I fall down I get the fuck back up and get to work.

Being a writer is hard work. If you're not working hard, then, in my opinion, you're not in it to win it. I do believe that perseverance and dedication are key components to success even when things aren't going the way you imagined.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Big Magic, you've got to be willing to eat the shit sandwich that comes with every dream in order to achieve it. Because every life pursuit comes with drawbacks, a.k.a shit you have to be okay with eating that shit sandwich if you want to achieve your goals and if you're not prepared to do that then, I guarantee, someone else is totally willing to eat your shit sandwich along with their own. I know I am.

The person who cares the most gets what they want.

So there you have it...the truth about motivation, if you want it badly enough, you'll make it happen.

I'm all tied up with some writing deadlines so my blog series is on hold for a bit. Stay tuned for some announcements and I'll resume Double, Double Toil & Trouble as soon as I get some things knocked off my to do list.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Double, Double Toil & Trouble - #4 Outlining

There's a great debate among writers regarding which is the better method of writing, being a pantser or being a plotter. Since I've been on both sides of this debate, having lived in both worlds, I thought I'd go through some of the benefits and drawbacks of each.

First, a definition of both:

Pantser - a writer who writes by the seat of their pants, meaning no, or practically no, outlining is done.

Plotter - a writer who doesn't start writing until there's a basic (or complex) outline in place.

I think most of us understand the basic plot points of a story. You need a set up, you need an inciting action, rising action, climax and falling action/resolution. Your characters need some depth and you need a setting (sorry, but you really do need to name a place/town/city/country even if it's fictional).

When I first started writing, I did very little plotting. I felt, like many writers, that if I did too much outlining ahead of time, I'd lose that magical stuff that happens when you're at the mercy of whatever your mind conjures in the moment of storytelling. I didn't want to over plan and then feel married to my outline. I thought it would kill my creativity.

I'm not going to lie, I still am a little wary of outlining too much because I do really love that feeling of triumph when I discover a plot point I hadn't thought of before or when I sort out a snag that I hadn't been anticipating. But the stress I've felt when I don't outline is a huge motivator to getting some pre-planning done. I've been in situations where a lack of outline has put me into a corner with a story that stops me from continuing for weeks...which, when you are on deadline, is not a good thing. It sometimes takes months to sort out a twisty-turny plot full of problems that wouldn't be there if I had spent some time outlining before hand.

And that's another reason I didn't do a lot of outlining ahead of time...because it's hard work and it's not anywhere near as fun as the actual writing part. But I've learned that this is not a great reason for not outlining. And while I still sometimes cut corners, I'm working on improving my outlining depth. It's a good skill to have, especially if you're planning on pitching proposals to editors/agents. You really need to have some kind of idea of the complete story in that case (we can talk about writing a synopsis another time because that's a different beast).

So, after writing many, many novels (many of which are published now) without a solid, detailed outline, I have switched to the dark side and, really, wouldn't go back. Outlining has become a part of my pre-planning that I really can't do without.

I spend at least a week thinking, writing, and nailing down a new idea in an outline before I start writing. Sometimes it takes me longer (because there's a lot of creating happening here and that takes brain power) and sometimes I cut corners and leave things blank or to be determined (and regret it later). So, I'm still a work in progress. I've read a lot of books about outlining and storytelling (listed below) and have adapted my own outlining sheet with key features that make sense to me.

I'm still working on my outline sheet because as it stands now, it's still a bit huge and I'd like to streamline it more. At some point I'll share it here for others to use but ultimately, I think it's really important for every author to figure out a system that works for him/her.

What I've learned about outlining is that it really doesn't kill my creativity. I don't outline a story to death though either so I leave lots of room for the creative things I still need to figure out. If something happens that I didn't anticipate, the outline is flexible enough to allow for a change in direction. I do think that after years and years of writing, my brain is able to sort things out if given enough time so even with a sparse outline, I can make things work.

As a writer, the learning should never stop so I'll recommend some reads to you that have helped me get a grasp on outlining basics.

Save the Cat, Blake Snyder  - even if you're not a screenwriter, Save the Cat's beat sheet is a totally valuable writing tool. I know a few publishers that suggest authors use this format for outlining and I think it can help any writer grasp the basics of plot.

On Writing, Stephen King - This memoir is totally worth the read, not only because it's really entertaining but also because it's incredibly inspirational, especially with regards to rejection. The second half of the book goes through King's toolbox of writing skills. While it's not meant to be taken as a bible, there are many good gems in there that can be quite helpful.

The Story Grid, Shawn Coyne - This is, by far, the best book on storytelling that I have ever read. Not only that but there are podcasts you can listen to that supplement the book and help extend the learning. Shawn Coyne has a tremendous amount of experience as an editor and his insight really helped to clarify key storytelling aspects that I knew but didn't know how to identify. While this isn't an outlining book in and of itself, with a bit of adaptation, you can definitely pull together a decent outlining guideline from it.

Anatomy of a Story, John Truby - This is another great book on storytelling. It has similar ideas as Coyne but teases them out in a different way. It's worth a read, especially if you're having trouble understanding why we tell stories the way we do.

J.A. Huss has some great videos on writing that I found helpful. She has a great way of getting to the point of things in an easily digestible way.

So that's it for this week. Next post will be all about motivation and how to keep on keeping on. So until then...see ya!