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Something you might already know and some things you don’t!

In Writer on January 3, 2017 at 9:18 am
Sometimes I find drawings on the kitchen table when I get home from work. In 2017, let's be as intrepid as this guy!

Sometimes I find drawings on the kitchen table when I get home from work. In 2017, let’s be as intrepid as this guy!

I love going to workshops and re-reading craft books that tell me things I’ve already learned about writing. No, not just writing. Life. Seriously. There are so many parallels between my approach to writing and my approach to life it’s crazy.

For example, yesterday afternoon, as I was walking across the length of the Wegmans parking lot to go to work, enjoying the piercing wind whistling through my unzipped jacket, frosting my ungloved fingers, and playing hell with my un-hatted hair, I was mentally flogging myself for not getting the ONE THING done on my to-do list that means everything to me: writing.

And just like that, I realized why I didn’t finish the scene I’ve already re-written twice. It kind of sucks. I keep going in there and trying to make my people do what needs to be done. In this case, I want the heroine and cohorts to follow the hero on the rescue-the-mother mission. I want the heroine to be afraid to use her power again which will cause something horrible to happen. I want them to get their asses kicked and for something horrible to happen, which will make the heroine following the hero necessary instead of foolhardy. But right now, it isn’t working. And that’s why I don’t want to do it! So, back to the beginning of the scene for me.

Which on some level I already knew but I needed to learn it again. Does that happen to you? Every so often, do you need to be reminded of basic things that keep your world spinning? (That’s the thing you might already know.)

And here are the things you didn’t know until I wrote this: the winners of the Come Again Release Day Celebration are Robyn D (Rafflecopter) and Anita H (blog/FB/Twitter/Instagram)! You two ladies can expect an e-mail from me very soon!

Happy New Year, everyone! Get in there like the heroes you are and keep your worlds spinning. XOXO

 

This isn’t a post for the people making a ton of money publishing

In Writer on December 7, 2016 at 10:33 am

This is a post for the rest of us. Like it or not, money is often equated with success, and success is often equated with happiness. But it just ain’t so.

So my Middle Kid had an early jazz band practice, and I was listening to Pentatonix sing Hallelujah on the way home. Go buy Hallelujah on iTunes right now. Right now. No, seriously. Or go listen to it on Youtube. I’ll put the link at the bottom. Anyone with an ounce of passion in them needs to hear them sing this tune. All that Catholic schooling aside, I haven’t been a practicing Christian in 20 years, so why does this song resonate with me so hard, even after I’ve listened to it, like, 1000 times since I bought it? (Rest in peace, Leonard Cohen. Your memory is certainly blessing me this year.)

Hallelujah resonates because of the passion, I think. It creates a connection. Between writer/singers and listeners. Between writer and readers. We know it when we hear it/see it. And it grabs us. Which led me to thinking about how hard it is to get that passion onto the page. Sometimes I wish I could physically rub what is in my heart onto the page because it is so much better than what is coming out of my fingers once it passes through my brain. My filter. My internal editor. I write mySELF, my VOICE, out of my words so often it’s become a habit. Gotta make ’em pretty. Gotta make ’em flow. Gotta connect my thoughts. And I’ve had great editors, but sometimes, they took a piece of me out of my work, too, and I let it happen because I didn’t trust mySELF enough to fight for me.

It probably had something to do with deadlines and my desire to pump out three books a year and be “successful.” I don’t have any deadlines now, but I fight the urge to give them to myself in order to be productive. My definition of productive is finishing the book. That’s also my definition of success. But I am fighting so damn hard to change both of those into making the book that lands on the page as rich and passionate as the book in my heart. And that is requiring SO MUCH MORE TIME and THOUGHT and EXPLORATION than I ever imagined. It’s hard to be okay with that when I spent years training myself to think that success=happiness=finishing the book=making money. (Which is why this isn’t a post for writers making big money. Money brings its own inspiration. It just does.)

Writers, I don’t know about you, but when #1k1hr/3 or more books a year/butt in chair/write full-time entered my world, I started feeling like I wasn’t getting anything done. And that feeling made me want to do even less.

Yes, I still want to finish the book, damn right I do (and I bet you do, too). And I want to write another book in the Hot Nights series. And I want to write a womens fic book just because. And feeling like shit isn’t going to get me there. Butt in chair ALL THE TIME isn’t going to get me there because my butt needs other stuff, too. Like yoga. And fruitcake, party mix, au gratin brussels sprouts, and caramels made by me. I need to read. And watch Sherlock. And hang out with my family.

SO.

Here are a few of MY new definitions of success, and I invite you add your own in the comments. Comments will automatically enter you in my Come Again Series Giveaway (GC to The Ripped Bodice or, um, my favorite sex toy, new in box OF COURSE).

  1. Write for one single hour OR cross a thing off the list of things that need to get done in the WIP. Progress is progress.
  2. Go to work and do a good job. Listen, some days, that’s all we can do. The day job pays the bills.
  3. Feel good. Make the mental adjustment required to reject negative judgement, within or without, and be fine with the work that is getting done and know that the rest of the work WILL get done. Eventually. It is perfectly okay to go around feeling good about yourself instead of apologizing, downplaying, or self-deprecating.

Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Own yourSELF. Do YOU. And practice believing you are worthy. Not just good enough but valuable. Give yourself permission to feel happy and successful simply because you are breathing and go about your day feeling good.

Writers, connect with the passion you have for yourself, so you can share it. Maybe even on the page. Reject the outside voices telling you your words should be different and write the words in your heart. That’s how you find the good stuff.

Believe it.

And…

Watch the Youtube video of Pentatonix singing HALLELUJAH!

And lest you think it's easy for me to cast off internalized judgements, this picture (taken at my daughter's bat mitzvah) nearly sent me shrieking for a dye bottle. But I'm still doing me. For now. LOL.

And lest you think it’s easy for me to cast off internalized judgements, this picture (taken at Middle Kid’s bat mitzvah) nearly sent me shrieking for a dye bottle. But I’m still doing me. For now. LOL.

So Much Gratitude

In Writer on November 24, 2016 at 9:03 am
So, so grateful for pie! Carbs in any form, really...

So, so grateful for pie! Carbs in any form, really…

Thanksgiving Day seems like a good time to thank the people who are supporting me through my writing recovery. A comment appeared on this post from June, reminding me of how much has changed since my last book release (IMPULSE CONTROL, two years ago in January). I’m not exhausted anymore. I’m finally self-publishing. That book that was kicking my ass? Still not done, but I’m enjoying the work. That. Is. Epic. I go to yoga even when I’m busy. The house has new furniture. Sometimes I cook at home, not just at work.

The life-balance is better. It’s a practice!

I didn’t write any acknowledgements pages for the Come Again series (releasing on 11/29!) because it wasn’t part of the process at Samhain Publishing, where the books were first published. I probably could have written acknowledgements, but my editor didn’t ask me for them, and everything was new to me then. I was still learning the ropes, so I wasn’t going to suggest a new way to tie a book together.

Instead of acknowledgements, Samhain did dedications, and mine are a little out of date. Life changes, you know? But I left them as is. Once you give a book to someone, it’s theirs, too, even if it gets a new life in writer-WITSEC. 🙂

I always read the acknowledgement page at the back of a book because it’s a peek behind the curtain into another writer’s life. How do they keep their shit together? Who helps them? Usually a village, I’ve learned. I’m certainly grateful for MY village!

In no particular order (and probably edited after posting because I’ll forget someone), I’d like to thank Samhain Publishing for being the first publishing company to offer me a contract. I loved working with the company, and I’m sad to see it close its doors. Thank you for  everything, Samhain!

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Putting your BGF on the cover of a book: priceless!

Much admiration to Amy Gamet, Jennifer Kacey, Natasha Moore, and Molly O’Keefe for successfully self-publishing and making me think I could do it too. And for answering ALL the questions. Amy literally answered a question every day last week. Newbie questions. Basic stuff. And she never gave me the eyeroll emoji! Plus Jennifer let me use her for the cover of BOTTOMS UP. She doesn’t have the heroine’s dreadlocks, but Jenn does have a ton of long, dark, hair. Close enough for me, and I LOVE having her on the cover!

Many muffins and coffees to my writer friends, particularly Jess, Alison, and Barb, who listened to all the same shit for two years and rarely yelled at me, were always encouraging, kept the faith, shot straight when necessary, sat in silence, and chatter, and wrote words with me. Writing books takes faith and hard work…and good company or you start to think you’re nuts. We can’t all be nuts AT THE SAME TIME, right? Meh. We’re nice nuts.

All the REST of the coffee to my work friends at Wegmans. Non-writing work is good, and you guys are the best.

Always thanks to my husband, Ben, because he’s gonna love me no matter what. He really is.

Thank you, my readers, blog commenters, FB friends. Thank you for reaching out. For being there. For sharing your lives. I see you. I see your posts, and when you are struggling, I dedicate my yoga practice to your healing. Which might sound odd, but it’s my purest form of spiritual positivity, and I send it winging to you through the universe we share, roughly twice a week. 🙂

Blessing upon your houses. My gratitude abounds, today and every day.

So…my American friends, what is your contribution to the feast today?! My brother and sister in-law are hosting, and I made pumpkin pie, pecan pie, sweet potato rolls, and a loaf of sourdough bread. Ben is making potato skins for an appetizer. What’s your favorite can’t-live-without Thanksgiving dish?

My Worst Kept Secret

In Writer on November 20, 2016 at 12:20 pm
Book One

Book 1

Book Two

Book 2

Book Three

Book 3

Book 3.5

Book 3.5

Book 4

Book 4

 

 

 

 

I’m Miranda Baker. Well…my pen name is Miranda Baker.

My real name is Amanda Usen…but Baker is my “maiden” name, and Miranda is close enough to Amanda that if someone calls to me at a conference, I’ll turn around. That’s why I picked it. Since I was teaching high school SAT prep classes when these books were published, I thought it best to keep my kinky imagination camouflaged under another name. I also thought I could write enough books to fuel two careers…bwahahaha! If you’ve been following the blog, you know how that ended. A big, fat, burnout. And then some phoenix action

Sadly, Samhain Publishing, the lovely company who bought all my Miranda Baker e-books, is closing its doors, and I got the rights back to the books. I’d intended to self-publish the books as soon as I got them back, but it seemed like such a HUGE undertaking. I procrastinated until Molly O’Keefe, a wonderful author-friend, basically grabbed me by the cheeks and said I was being silly for wasting time, G*d bless her. She also gave me the name of her formatter and her cover artist, just to light a little fire under me. I really love that woman. I think she’s a Jedi because I’m pretty sure I filed the paperwork for Balancing Act Press the next day. 🙂

I’ll write more about my adventures in self-publishing very soon (for those considering the plunge). It’s been a wild ride, but not nearly as difficult as I imagined.

It’s easier to market books that are similar, but I didn’t know that when I wrote these stories. Therefore I ended up with m/f BDSM in BOTTOMS UP, f/f and m/f sex toy experimentation in SOLOPLAY, a bisexual empath in HOOK UP, f/f/m menage in TOP STUDENT, and f/f BDSM in GIRL TROUBLE. LOL. What do they have in common? My voice, my sense of humor, and my rather liberal approach to sexuality! I love these stories, and I’m so excited to share them. They’re fun, super-sexy, a little edgy, and very romantic. Blurbs, excerpts, and pre-order links can be found on my Books page. The books will release on 11/29/2016!

(And for those of you who know me in “real” life, why yes, that is my gorgeous friend Jennifer Kacey on the cover of BOTTOMS UP! I’m so delighted she let me use one of her fabulous photos. How cool is that?!)

So…are you shocked by this revelation? How secret was my “secret”? 😀

Where did Monday go?

In Writer on September 28, 2016 at 10:21 pm

The winner of the $15 gift card is bn100, so expect an e-mail from me! 🙂 Happy fall and thanks for reading!

img_1964Five weeks of class down, and five to go. So far, so good. Holding up just fine. My adventures in sourdough continue. I made a Rosemary Olive Oil loaf that was, hands down, the best bread I ever made in my life. I guess all I needed was twenty years of experience to make it all work. LOL. I’ve got a loaf of Country White Sourdough fermenting in the fridge right now. Not sure where or how I’m going to bake it, though. I go straight from the bakery kitchen to the school kitchen tomorrow. I wonder if they would be amused at Wegmans if I brought my loaf to work and baked it off?

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This is a bowl scraper!

Another adventure: I used Fiverr to get a logo made for the swag I’m ordering for Wild Wicked Weekend in February. I’m going to put it on bowl scrapers, unless someone has a better idea. Readers, would you rather have a bowl scraper (it’s like a spatula without a handle, used for getting things like batter out of bowls), an actual silicone spatula, or a flexible cutting mat? Help a girl out, would you please?

I have some super fun news soon, but first I have to get through my students’ baking practicals and start the next class. And middle kid’s bat mitzvah planning. And finish this book, I suppose, but who am I kidding? It’s the book that never ends! It just goes on and on, my friends…

But I’m kind of loving it, so I guess we’ll keep each other company for a while longer. OH! (I should probably admit I talked my husband into meeting me for tacos after the first night of cooking practicals. And I drank a thing that I think was mostly tequila with a little elder flower thrown in. Last time I had elder flower was at a Sourcebooks party at an RWA conference, and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep on the party bus home. SQUIRREL! Are any of you looking for a Silver Fox romance?14479661_10208576601786370_9012974339823973637_n

There is sex after forty. We know that. My friend Natasha Moore (who helped me get my first book contract by giving me great writing advice) is writing some sexy, heartwarming, really wonderful romances featuring mature characters. The first one CHOOSE ME just came out. I’ve always loved her writing, and she really nails down the emotions. Check out the link to see if it might be up your book alley.

And…I love silver foxes. RAWR.

I hope y’all are having a great week. Happy hump day!

xoxo,

Amanda

 

 

 

Be the Happy Ruler of Your Pile of Scattered Poop

In Writer on August 2, 2016 at 1:08 pm

I was so excited the other day, I posted this on FB.

I’ve been writing this book for-fucking-ever. No, really. And I got to a point where I could see the end. I couldn’t believe it. The whole reason I wanted to write the book was because I wanted to end it in a certain way, and I’m at 60K, and it’s time to write the end. I was elated, and THEN…

I stalled.

Because I can’t write the end until I edit the parts I just rushed through. I’ve lost the thread. I don’t know who my characters are or what they want in those hurriedly-written scenes. This is my process: I write and write, and then I figure out what I’ve written until I can write again. Of course it took me a couple of days of beating myself up for not making any progress to realize this. And, as my friend and fellow writer Jessica Topper pointed out, this is just my process with this book, but whatever. This is why I decided to finish the damn book before I did anything with it, so I could take all the time I wanted to make it fun.

Ceasing being hard on myself for not meeting my own wildly unrealistic expectations is more difficult than finishing the book. I can finish the book. I know I can. But can I do it without making myself and everyone around me miserable? THAT is the question. Because the real accomplishment is living each moment of a very busy day/week/month with kindness, caring, and humor.

Which is what I decided, oh…a year and a half ago and forgot. AGAIN. Oh, wait, make that two years because I wrote this in July of 2014. *Head kitchen table*

Don’t you wish you could have an epiphany and make it stick? I do. I swear I’ve been learning the same thing over and over every five minutes for years. I kind of thought I’d have my shit together by now, but NOPE. Nope, nope, nope.

What the hell…maybe nobody does.

I’ve been pondering the fact that I tend to put myself down first in order to beat everybody else to the punch. Whether it’s a new cake I’ve designed at work, a finished manuscript, a lesson plan, a list of completed tasks, or WHATEVER, I’ll point out what’s wrong with it instead of what’s right. I ignore the good stuff and take to heart all the criticism. My inner child believes I do this because nothing SHE ever did was good enough. She suggests it’s a form of self-protection. Judge thyself harshly, and the judgement of others will hurt less. 

It doesn’t work.

Guess what? All judgement is not created equal. Critics have their own issues and inner-children driving them to behave badly. It’s possible, even likely, that their opinion has nothing to do with you. So you shouldn’t let it ruin your day or send you into a shame spiral of self-loathing. Because their opinion doesn’t matter. You know why?

Here’s the tricky part: you aren’t trying to please them. Not really. You’re trying to please yourself, and if you’ve already decided you suck, then you can’t ever do a good enough job because you will always find your flaws. Vicious cycle. I know I’m not the first one to say these things, but I’m living them. Maybe you are, too.

If so, I offer you this: You are not one thing. You are many things. Some of them are AMAZING and some of them are flawed. The flaws are FINE. They make you likable and approachable. It’s okay. No one sees you like you see yourself. They see the good stuff before the bad. Crazy, right? It’s true. Try it. Reject the voice inside telling you you’re not good enough. CHOOSE to be happy with yourself and your work.

It might feel like the most subversive and daring thing you’ve ever done. It might make you cry. You might have to do it over and over. You might even have gray hair and still be doing it. You might despair of ever getting your shit together and keeping it together. But none of that shit matters. It never did. Be the happy ruler of your pile of scattered poop and go forth spreading kindness, caring, and good humor…to yourself…and then the WOOOOOORRRRRLD!

(And yes, in case you are wondering, the song “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with meeeeee…” is running through my head right now. It’s a nice break from “Cool Rider” from Grease 2.)

All commenters will be entered into my fall giveaway of a gift card to Amazon, B&N, or The Ripped Bodice, so let’s talk about the things that hold us back and how we jump, tunnel, fly, and run around, under, over, and through them.

XOXO,

Amanda

 

 

The Sonic Egg that Saved my Sanity

In Writer on July 27, 2016 at 7:49 am

When I met my husband, he had a beagle he loved very much who lived to be seventeen-plus and took his half of the bed out of the middle, perpendicular to us, every night. When Hannibal died, it was the second time I ever saw my husband cry. (The first time was my close brush with death having our first child. That’s how much he loved that dog.) Now, Hannibal was half-blind, half-deaf, and a real pain in the butt by the time he passed. He barfed frequently and barked at nothing at all, but we loved him. (Actually, we still have him. His ashes are in the pantry, way up top, and sometimes I come across them and go, “What’s that? OH. Hey, Hanny.”)

IMG_1640It was a while before the kids talked us into going to the pound to get a new dog, but when they did, I fell in love with another beagle. The pound papers declared she was practically perfect in every way, and we brought her home.

She was actually a monster. She must have been abused because she peed on the floor every time my husband came home from work. She still pees sometimes when my husband’s dad comes over. Research proved that’s actually a thing. Submissive urination. Who knew dogs could be kinky?

Said papers also promised that she could hold her bladder for 8 hours at a time. I think that was code for, “My previous owner left me locked up all the time.” Which is awful. And translated into her sneaking off to pee in the SAME SPOT in the family room every time we left her alone. Um…for a couple years.

But the kids really loved her. Like, a lot. And a promise is a promise. We brought her home, by gosh, we were going to find a way to live with her, even though we are terrible dog trainers, and our house smelled of pee.

First, we started gating her (leaving her in an enclosed area with an open crate) when we left because excrement is easier to clean up off of linoleum and tile.  Now, my memory of all this is a little fuzzy because of the sleep deprivation of having three kids. I think the crating helped. Some. Since we let her sleep with us, and we still had to get up every night and chase her downstairs and outside to keep her from sneaking out of bed to poop and pee in her favorite spot. Because this is what you do when your dog trains you.

Finally, I’d had enough of that. We started gating her at night, but she’d howl, so around 2 am, one of us would get up, let her out and then let her get into bed with us. We are good humans. (This went on for about a year.)

IMG_1658Finally, finally, I’d had enough of THAT. We stopped getting up. So she broke down the tension gate, shit in the living room, and got in bed with us. It was very confusing in the morning. Wait…what? Stop licking my leg! Oh. Crap.

Somewhere in all this we probably gave up a couple of times and backtracked. It was just easier to get up with her at 2 am, let her out, lie on the couch until she wanted to come back inside, and go back to bed. (Yes, I know how pathetic all this sounds. I was very tired.)

I planned to buy a bark collar. A shock collar. SOMETHING.

And we also needed to get a gate she couldn’t ram. I wanted to buy an extra-long tension gate, but my husband told me he could fix the problem for two bucks at the hardware store. I was skeptical (because I’m that wife), but he came through like a champ. She can ram all she wants. This gate ain’t going nowhere.

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The same day my husband rigged the gate, I bought THIS:

The sonic egg that saved my sanity.

The sonic egg that saved my sanity.

When the dog barks, it makes a sonic beep that only the dog can hear, and, ideally, the dog stops barking. Ironic, right? The howling dog doesn’t like the noise! I wasn’t sure it would work. The woman who sold it to me wasn’t sure, either. Some dogs can’t associate an unpleasant noise with their howling and barking. But Layla could, and this freaking egg of amazingness changed my life. I get to sleep through the night. No one plays the “but I got up with the dog last night card.” I don’t suffer the guilt of pretending to be sound asleep so my husband will get up with her. It is bliss. (It also worked for a friend of mine whose neighbor’s dog barked outside all the time. She plopped this little sucker outside, and the problem was solved.)

If your dog is a barker, I highly recommend you try this little space-age-looking gem. I got mine at PetSmart. Amazon has them…for a higher price. 🙂

The cherry on top of this sundae of awesomeness? We bought a new king-size bed. (A life goal! Once we get a headboard, we’ll be real adults!) It’s so tall, the dog can’t get up into it! We don’t have a dog in our bed anymore! Ever! If your wondering why this is so exciting, you’ve never slept in a bed of dog hair with a scratchy paw up your butt. Now, when my husband gets up at 5 am to go to work, he lets the dog out, and then she gets into bed with our middle kid. Middle Kid loves this. I love this.

Everything in life is perfect now. Well…

Except for the carpet.

Do you have any funny pet stories? Feel free to share them or make fun of us in the comments. I can’t believe that nonsense went on for years. YEARS. Especially since it was solved in, no joke, one night. *groan*

All commenters will be entered into my fall/back-to-school giveaway of a gift card to Amazon, B&N, or The Ripped Bodice.

Pets…you gotta love ’em! (Or at least pretend you do and be convincing enough that the kids believe you.)

 

Writer-in-Recovery

In Writer on June 10, 2016 at 10:01 am

I am brave enough to continue.

This is my mantra. Because I commune with the daring trinity of Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Cheryl Strayed, I know vulnerability looks like courage in others and weakness in myself (Brown), expecting my art to support me was a bad idea all along (Gilbert), and the only option is to keep walking (Strayed.)

But this book I’m writing is straight-up kicking my ass. I’m worried not a single reader will remember my name by the time I publish it. I’m afraid that after all the effort I’ve put into it, it will suck. It’s been a lot of effort, thus the sucking will be worse because I tried harder. I’m overwhelmed by the process and expense of self-publishing. But really it all boils down to one thing: this is hard. And since I always end up deleting my first thought because it takes me two to get to the point:

I’m afraid of failure.

Yeah, who isn’t? I know. I jeer at myself, too, which makes it take longer to pull up my all-cotton Hanes bikini panties and get to the real work. I’m not just a writer anymore. I’m a writer-in-recovery which means I’ve rejected all the previous standards by which I judged my career. Most romance writers hold themselves to a daily word count and try to publish several books a year. It’s a good plan. I did it for five years. This is what happened.

I was single-minded and always on deadline. No one expected me at family events. I was perpetually exhausted, scrambling, and buried in work. And guess what? I didn’t make enough money or garner enough praise to justify the sacrifices. It is familiar and easy for me to focus on one thing to the exclusion of all others while claiming I want to live a balanced life. When the words are flowing, I skip yoga, don’t make dinner, don’t clean the house, and my business life is a mess. And when the words aren’t flowing, I do the same thing because if I just put my BUTT IN THE CHAIR for long enough, the words will pour from me in a bloody rush of THIS WAS WORTH MY LIFE.

I can’t speak for all writers in this. Some of them are perfectly well-adjusted, don’t seek approval like it’s vodka, and write like Niagara Falls.

I admire them. Of course, I also hate them. They are happy. They believe in themselves. They don’t doubt every word. They don’t second-guess every thought. They do not tie their self-worth to what they DO. Some of them aren’t faking it, either. (I don’t really hate them. I want to be them.)

High school BFF, the finder of good things, sent me The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life by Ann Patchett. After reading it, it got easier for me to spend a few hours on writing and then work on the other things that give my life meaning. Right now that’s mothering, cleaning, cooking, shopping, and remembering to call my mom. I lent it to my writer pal, Jessica Topper, and she read it and sighed, “Forgiveness.” If you are an introspective writer-sort trying to survive in the tumultuous publishing world right now, you might like it.

Balance isn’t always comfortable. Yesterday, I cleaned up the morning school mess and called my mother. I wrote for two hours, went to yoga, stopped by Wegmans for a health screening (free lunch and uniform shirt – bonus!), shopped for glasses, cleaned ten years of cobwebs out of the kitchen windows, deleted a month’s worth of e-mails, and took my kid to pick up her new glasses. I was tired, but I felt like I hadn’t really accomplished anything. I was tempted to go back to work on the WIP. Against every instinct, I booted up the pilot episode of The Good Wife. While I admired Julianna Margulies’s stupendous eyebrows, all of my children showered. In other words, the heavens opened up and rained clean children, a sign I had chosen wisely.

I didn’t finish the book yesterday. Hell, I don’t even know how many words I wrote, but I kissed everyone goodnight. I exercised, ran errands, and battled inbox entropy. My kitchen windows look as good as fifty-three year-old windows can look. I put some time in on writing AND living. I feel spectacular.

Just kidding. Did I fool you? I feel like shit, which is why my husband – deeply suspicious of me watching television, of all things – kept giving me the fish-eye and saying, “Are you okay?”

Fuck no.

I want to finish this book, and it is taking so much longer than I think it should.

But I think this is what recovery feels like, so I’m going to keep doing it. 🙂

Happy Friday, everyone! If you struggle with writing, you should read The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life! All comments left on this blog, Mid-life Margaritas, and A Visit to the Ripped Bodice will enter you to win a book from the most romantic bookstore in Culver City, CA!

Harness Your Nightmares and Ride

In Writer on March 31, 2016 at 10:22 am
Little wonder I'm anxious if this is what the main character in my passion project believes.

Little wonder I’m anxious if this is what the main character in my passion project believes.

I woke this morning with tears in my eyes. Literal tears. Every muscle was clenched. My subconscious knows just how to freak me out.

This usually happens when I fall back to sleep when I meant to get up early. My mind decides to play Friday the 13th until I run screaming down the stairs to the kitchen to make coffee. It started off tame, Kimberly Kincaid, Robin Covington, and Avery Flynn were sleeping over, and I went to bed without making sure they had pillows and adequate blankets. Oh the horror of being a bad hostess! Then I was in a shopping mall and I didn’t know it was closing. They started turning off the lights and locking the doors, and I was miles from my car. A strange man wanted to help me. Stranger danger! Then I was at a party, and I was inappropriately dressed in a hand-knit sweater, an 80s miniskirt, black tights, and…gladiator sandals? The guest of honor was someone I had wronged half my life ago, and there was no forgiveness in her gaze. Shame is the worst. But I was still locked in sleep, so my subconscious pulled out the big guns: no idea where I was in the world, phone dead, snow and ice everywhere, forced to trust strange men. I was also talking with pizza in my mouth because the men had a food truck. I was a stranger in a strange land, lost to everyone and everything I’d ever known…

I’m up! I’m up! I’m up!

God save me from myself. I know just which buttons to push. Trust, safety, shame, and making bad choices that lead to ruin. I know where all the seeds of those odd anxieties came from. That friend I betrayed so long ago just got an amazing online write-up. Even my yoga pants have holes in them. I need to find a freelance editor for my passion project. I sneaked up to the bedroom to eat an ice cream bar last night because I didn’t want the kids to know and want one too. GUILTY! (Although I went to bed reading BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert, so you’d think my brain would be full of positivity, not shame, guilt, and doubt!)

Sadly, my brain doesn’t really run toward positivity. But I’ve been so much better lately.

Still…it’s interesting to know what lies under my surface, even if I woke up terrified. I got a good look at the things I’m hiding. Some of that stuff needs to go. Obviously if I haven’t forgiven myself for the stupid things I did twenty years ago, even though it’s likely I’m the only one still hurting, I need to LET IT GO.

The rest of it though? Right ON. I need new pants. I need to get moving on not just writing my passion project but figuring out how to bring it into the world. I need to upgrade my phone because it goes dead all the time, and that’s not safe. And hell yes, I’m afraid of getting lost. In the world. In my work. In my emotions. Not knowing which way to go is the WORST. But I’m not asleep and powerless. I’m in charge of the route, and I know my fears. They aren’t new. But I’m not going to let them keep me down. Nope, I’m going to harness them and ride. Giddy. Up. Ride, rainbow pegasus unicorn, riiiiiiiide!

OH! Another thing in the “right on” category? Kimberly, Robin, Avery…PAJAMA PARTY???? I PROMISE I’ll supply the pillows and blankets!

What lies under your surface? Do your nightmares offer you insight into the fears you hide? What’s the last thing that woke YOU up in a cold sweat?

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Click for all buy links!

 

Men of the Zodiac Easter Egg Hunt!

In Writer on March 25, 2016 at 11:59 pm
Click for all buy links!

Click for all buy links!

AriesThe Men of the Zodiac authors are having a little Easter fun with the release of the Zodiac boxed set. We’re having an Easter Egg Hunt! Please join us for the chance to win a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Gather all twelve different colored eggs on participating authors’ sites and enter them in the Rafflecopter. Winner will be announced at the Men of the Zodiac Author Chat on Facebook, Easter Monday, March 28th, 8-10 pm EST. Stop by the party to see if you won, chat with the authors, AND for the chance to win great books and prizes!

TaurusAries (my hero!) and Taurus are right here on my site, ready and willing to jump in your Easter basket! Sonya Weiss is keeping an eye on the Gemini and Cancer heroes…Robin Covington is hiding Libra and Scorpio…Sarah Ballance is keeping Sagittarius and Capricorn out of trouble…Theresa Meyers is in the pool with Aquarius and Pisces…and Leo and Virgo are Entangled in Romance at the moment…but they are all waiting for you! 12 months…12 men…12 fantasies come true…12 eggs for you to put in your basket for the chance to win!

Here’s the Rafflecopter Basket… Click to start gathering eggs!

We hope to see you at the Easter after-party, aka the Men of the Zodiac Author Chat, on Monday when we announce the winner.

Happy Hunting and Happy Easter! 🙂