My Return

Something happened to me this summer that took me out of commission.

Grief.

I haven’t posted in a while because I recently lost my dad.

I really didn’t want to come here with that news. I wanted to just come back with a post that was on topic. But I couldn’t reconcile side-stepping the truth and just waltzing back in here without placing a marker right in this place that states how much the impact of losing him has had on my life.

Gearing up to do this took a while.

I’m not so sure what I was afraid of. In the end, losing a loved one is one of those things that most everyone can relate to, sadly so.  Yet grief, feels like a private, closed up space a person can find themselves hiding in. At least that’s how it went for me.

My truth is that I’ve been paralyzed to move forward until I did this.  Sending out a proclamation to any and all that read here that – my dad was here with me for a long time, loved me, was a pal, protector, example, a hero. Having had him in my life is how God has prepared me to go on without him now. I can only go on to live out my dreams, as I was a front and center witness to the humble, quiet, unassuming, faithful, powerful and out of the box ways that he went about reaching his. The man was a wonder.

So yes, I go forward. Not because I must, but because I’m blessed to. To write, to be a writer, to self-publish.

I may go on to question my talent (hmm, on a daily basis) or my ability to finish my projects —but I can never question my make-up—as I had loving souls who raised me. My parents gave me life (the world, really). They taught me by doing and being the example, and let me watch them so I could learn how to conquer the tiny piece of the world God’s gifted to me.

Here’s the lesson they taught me–

Work for what you want, don’t wait for other people’s permission to go after what you want, have Faith, love those around you, give, be a blessing and believe.

Time for me to put all of this good advice into action!

So while grieving might slow me down some—I’m getting back to work here, my friends.

I hope I haven’t been gone so long that those periodically checking this blog have lost interest and moved on. Still, the work, the writing, will go on.

I’m here, and will continue sharing with you my journey to self-publishing, tidbits from soon (that’s optimism speaking!) to be published novels & novellas, my thoughts and interest on the IR genre.

Thanks to you all in advance for your support! :)

When I’m having difficulty writing a post, I often find that locating the right picture to accompany my words can be the final shove of inspiration I need to cross the finish line on completing it.

The picture below made that happen for me as I struggled with this one.

All is not lost –

While he’s not here—my father will always be with me. There’s enough comfort in that to take with me as I keep making my way to reach my own dreams.

Dad's Hand

Confession (and link to freebie )

Okay, I’ll admit I did it.

Lots of writers do it.

I’m talking about experiment–

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Just taking off and writing something one day that you end up being quite surprised that it came out of you.

I said I’d put up a freebie this weekend, and I had a specific story in mind.

“Eternal”, is another short I wrote in response to a prompt. ‘Eternal’ was the challenge word tossed out to writers for that blog’s weekly writing competition, and I ended up producing a story from out my imagination that left me perplexed about who I was as a writer.

“Eternal” definitely illustrates the edgier curves I can take, an edge which I believe is completely absent from my first published short story, BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE, a sweet romance.  “Eternal” is an urban fantasy, the genre I expected to be writing until romance came along and captured my attention.  Don’t get me wrong though, “Eternal” is very much a love story. Sure, both cops in the story have ladies, –but the love at the core of their partnership was what I had planned to showcase. I’m a sucker for great partnership stories, and was eagerly looking forward to writing one. Someday, I believe I’ll be drawn back to telling the story of these two cops against the world. For now, I’m left to wonder about what this story is telling me about the kinds of stories hiding inside in my head, and where might I end up as a writer if I let them all out.

While I’ve found my place writing interracial romance, I can’t know for certain if it’s a forever and always kind of thing.  Perhaps one day I’m going to find myself giving into the call to experiment again, and who knows what genre that story might be. Actually, I think whether I develop “Eternal” into a full novel or not, I’ll forever have the experience and wonder of seeing what happened when I just let my imagination go.  I think it’s something I should do more often.

As we focus on our current project or the one right after it, we can get so plugged in to order and planning, and structure. Yes, all of that stuff is important and necessary, and I’m only beginning to learn just how really important they are if you’re trying to finish a project. I wonder though, as writers, if part of what we owe ourselves is to just step away from all we know or think we know, and just let it rip. See what happens, if only just for that rush of creating something new and foreign—but organically all our own.

It’s worth a try. If you haven’t tried it–go ahead and see what happens! Who knows what might learn about your writing?

“Eternal” isn’t edited, there’s lots of incomplete phrases,  weird punctuation, and some folks, if they dig deep, might find content issues—but, on the whole, I think there’s more good than bad. It’s an ‘as is’ for now, perhaps someday I’ll be come back here to say it’s my next project!

Who knows? :)

Check it out in my excerpts section here: (oh, mild warning for language & violence.)

~venice

When Two ‘Rights’ Collide! (Is there an app for that? Also, an update on my ‘write a novella in 30 days’ challenge & where the heck I’ve been!)

Two face - MO2

I needed help. Since my last post on March 15th, I’ve been doing something instead of writing that was the absolute right thing for me to be doing. I’ve been fully engaged and committed in being an advocate and caretaker to my dad. He went into the hospital at the end of December and it’s been five months of terror watching the care system that supposed to help, in his case, do so much to hurt him.  A long story, too long to go into here, and I don’t want to fill up my writing blog with the sad tale. Although, one day I might want to create another blog to express my disgust, anger and disappointment over what we’ve been going through as a family. Nuff said on that topic for now.

The absolute truth is that I don’t regret the time away from here, which was used to focus on doing the right thing of being fully present as a daughter to a man who has been a fantastic dad. I regret that other folks weren’t as equipped or were too negligent to acknowledge how careful they should have been with someone we treasured so.  I’m still a faith-filled, blessed and hopeful person who over the past months have read or seen on the TV news other families going through some really awful situations.  Terrible things, and I pray they will somehow, someday find peace, joy and healing.

The thing is, while dealing with all of the unexpected challenges in my own life right now, I have never stopped wanting to write. That—is another absolute truth I’ve had to stop ignoring, stop putting aside, because I was too mentally or physically exhausted from long days of work and night shifts of being by my dad’s bedside.

Hence, I realized I was bound to two very right things, which were colliding. One of those right things; being a good daughter was getting all of my energy and attention. While the other right thing—living out my heart’s desire to write, to be a writer, to publish stories I think some folks might really like— was getting no time or attention.

There was little while in there when I had real trouble reconciling celebrating my writing successes (yes, I did finish my novella) when I was having so little success in making things better for my dad. Not that I wasn’t putting in the effort to ‘fix’ things for him, but I reached a point where I realized that not writing was not the proper response to the situation I was in. If anything, not writing, was adding to my state of being– helpless. So here I am. Back on my journey, and feeling good to have come out of my writing slump.

This step wasn’t easy, and I recognized right off, to get back on track, I needed help. Here’s the lesson fellow newbies— if you, on your own journey find yourself in the middle of a ‘two rights colliding storm’—get help! I went searching for a writing coach and soon found out they were out of my price range, and many seem to be offering assistance to writers to improve their writing (not that I don’t need that kind of help.J)  Someday down the road, I might seek out a coach to point out for me what I should immediately STOP doing, and what I should immediately START doing! But right now—I need help to just get the words outta me. I needed assistance with time management, direction to find the places in my day to write when my life seemed to be too busy to accommodate my writing. And, of course- I craved that daily encouragement to keep me going at the task. I found it. It’s going to cost some cash, but having joined a supportive writing community with a focus on teaching you how to increase your production, in just a few days, it’s already paying off. I’m writing!

Waiting for a flood of creativity to suddenly appear, wash over me, and make me a writer didn’t. Taking even five, ten, fifteen minutes a day and being accountable for whatever time you do commit to, until I incorporate and adapt the habit of working on my WIPs, is a manageable way of tackling my procrastination problems.

Now—updates!

I did finish that novella in 30 days! Hand wrote it into an 8 x 11 Staples wirebound notebook that is falling apart from being carried with me everywhere I went. I’m happy with the story, and thrilled that I finally have “Tending Deacon’s Garden” on the pages! Yes, it’s going to be a task typing it up, but—I’ll do it!

I’ve sold close to another 45 ebooks —so, yeah for that! I’ll get my new sales totals on here soon. Also, I had mentioned that I would be checking on why I hadn’t received any royalty payments from Amazon—I did that. You have to have royalties of at least $100 before they cut you a check or deposit funds into your paypal account.  I was at $96 and change, so, I should be seeing that money sometime soon. All Romance Ebooks did deposit $18.36 into my paypal last week. Nice.

Well, my friends, I’ve told you my tale. I know I’m not the first writer, and won’t be the last one who has trouble sneak up and overtake them. Maybe someday some struggling writer will happen upon this post, just at the point where they have ‘two right things colliding’. Maybe someone reading right this entry today is wondering if they too can find their way back to writing. Consider this– if you’re going it alone– go out and search for a writing community, my friends!  I did, and ya know what I discovered?  Many authors, new or established—have hardships. They have troubles, they have fear, they have time management issues, they have anxiety. Fears, troubles and anxieties very much like my own. They struggle along, and– they write.

And—they even find time to encourage me to do the same. Just what I needed to get up, dust myself off and get back to work.

FYI, I also revised a chapter in my WIP “I See You” and will do another one this week. I’m back on target to self-publish this year—wonderful!

So – keep writing, people!!

~venice

P.S.—Look out for another one of my freebie shorts this weekend. Just a show of my appreciation for how patient you’ve been with me.

Write a Novella in—30 days?! (or, I Must Be mad, I Tell Ya— Mad!!)

Write a Novella in—30 days?! (or, I  Must Be Mad, I Tell Ya—Mad!!)

So—

Can I write a novella in 30 days? Well, we’re about to find out, people!

I’m both excited and of course, terrified over putting this kind of declaration out in a blog post. Knowing it can be seen and that perhaps others might hold me to accomplishing this goal, that I might fail—well, is pretty darn scary.  But—I’ll do my best!

MP900387781-MO Goal in dictionary

A goal!

Does writing happen for most writers without making some kind of targeted mission plan? Isuspect not. Goals do hold us accountable don’t they? I’m thinking what better way of closing in on this writing objective than making a public pronouncement of the one I’m expecting to accomplish in the next 30 days.

I’m going to finish the first draft of my novella DEACON’S GARDEN, the second volume in the LOVE BLOOMS SERIES, by —

MP900309636- calendar 4.15

It’s funny, I was thinking of using March 15th as my starting date, and April 15th as my crossing the finish line one.  I was waffling a bit on the dates until I went looking for a picture of a calendar to dress up this post and found the one above highlighting April 15th! You know I just had to take that as my beyond coincidence confirmation that the universe was giving me the go ahead for me to follow through on the impulse of doing this 30 day challenge. Sign from God? Yes, to me it definitely felt that way. And it will take some divine intervention for me to fit this in to my life’s schedule that’s full of busy and stress-filled work days, and most every night spent hanging out with my dad at the nursing home he’s in for eight weeks of rehab. Most days I’m getting home at 10 or 10:30, spent and more than loopy.

I know I said a while back I was going to switch my attention to indie-pubbing my WIP novel, I SEE YOU coincidentally I churned that one out during another 30 days challenge come to think of it! So yes, I do have firsthand experience –this 30 day turnaround is a realistic target!  Just FYI–the last time I did this y’all I was in the middle of a total bathroom and kitchen remodel.

I’ve slowly been revising my novel,  got through about 13 chapters on a first round of revisions and  I expect I SEE YOU will hit about 28-30 chapters– a pretty hefty-size novel once I’m done with it.

But this guy-

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Yep, Chase!

‘Member him? The character I told you about who insisted his name was Chase, not Wes, not Luke, or any other cowboy-sounding name I could come up with. He’s the male lead (hero) from my novella DEACON’S GARDEN and the dude just won’t leave me alone! I’ve got to get this story out of me, or I’ll always find him pulling me back to it, and leaving me to feel flustered and unfocused.

The other thing is—

I’ve been blessed with a round of five star reviews and some other positive feedback over the last months for my short story BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE.

Comments like these:

This short story is a refreshing change from the usual IR fare.

The characterizations and dialogue (internal and external) was spot on! I look forward to reading more of this author!!!

Keep up the excellent work and please keep writing!

Not only have these kinds of lovely comments made me grin and dance around like a fool—they’ve also triggered a logical conclusion in my head. Made me grasp the concept that the wise marketing thing for me to do as a new IR writer on the scene it to ride this tide of positivity by bringing something else to the market sometime sooner rather than later.

Anybody up for a challenge? Wanna get the writing juices flowing through you like wildfire, or go ahead and try that no-carb detox you’ve been thinking about, got a junked up room in your house you’d like to give all your extra time and attention for 30 days and turn it into a room of splendor? Let’s do it! Join me and put something on your calendar for the next 30 days. You don’t have to make a world wide proclamation, you know–just a quiet ‘tween you and nobody else challenge is cool, too.

Oh, and I’m going to lose five pounds, too!

I don’t know if this burst of energy is spring fever or winter madness—either one, I’m pumped!

~venice

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236 and counting! Did I Tell Ya I Hate Math? (Indie Writer Ramblings)

C

Here we go, as promised– my sales numbers! Finally. I don’t really hate math. I’m just not a huge fan of doing anything that constantly raises a pointer to the limits of my intellectual capacity…sigh. Anyway, what I’m saying is — ya see any blatant errors, just kindly whip me out a private email and let a girl know if she’s got something obviously screwed up that most any elementary kid might have caught. Okay? Thanks!

I indie published BLACKOUT IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE on October 8th in 2012.  I honestly didn’t do much marketing. But I did hook up with a few Interracial Romance forums, and I think that helped me out a lot.  As a reader, I’ve discovered the IR genre is a small enough world that the news of new releases travels in a pretty natural flow, through word of mouth. It’s a great advantage when you’re writing to a niche audience if you know where to go to just get your face or words out there, fellowship– and make friends. I wish I had more time to do more of that kind of stuff, as I thoroughly enjoy chatting with other lovers of IRs! I especially love running into other readers and writers who are diggin’ and searchin’ for sweet IR reads.

Anyhoo—here’s what I sold:

On Amazon/KDP

October  — 68

November – 66

December — 28

January — 30

February — 15

207 sold @ .45 cents royalty per ebook = $93.15.

***

Barnes & Noble/Nook Sales:

5 sold @ .52 cents royalty per ebook  = $2.60.

All Romance Ebooks: (60% royalty)

(just started selling Blackout on that site on 1/8/13)

24 sold @.77 cents royalty per unit = $18.58

Total sales/profit for Blackout = $113.81

236 ebooks sold.

Now, have I gotten any of this money yet? Nope. I suspect a check from Amazon should be showing up someday soon here (I believe there’s some mention of 90 days turnaround). I’ll follow up on the payment part of this indie pubbing experience in another post one day soon. If anyone has any info about Amazon’s payment turnaround, I’d love to hear from you!

The money I’ve made covers the cost of cover art, proofreading and formatting for Blackout– and the lil bit leftover might put a few bucks in my pocket.  The experience is worth gold and so is all that I’ve learned. I’ve had the joy of finishing a story and sending  it out into the world, and mostly getting  very nice reviews (except for the single star one I got, which I want to talk about ‘processing’ that  bad rating  I received in a post here, too.  Probably it will be sporting a title like– “I Indie- Published and the Worst Possible Thing Happened and– How I Survived It” or “Oh Lawd– Whyyyyy???” Something like that.

So other newbies– like me, it’s possible your first publication may not stuff your bank accounts with the 50k or 100k you’ve heard others proclaim as their return on the hours spent writing a story. Yes, I know Blackout was a short story, I’m happy to have sold as many as I did, but my heart and writing spirit isn’t put off.  I’m ready for the next adventure and challenge of putting what I’ve learned about writing and publishing to work on my next project. Make it the best read possible, and okay, I might let myself fantasize – just a little bit– about making tens of thousands of dollars and moving up the ranks on Amazon– I’ve got that kind of imagination, ya see.

But–I’m not discouraged, and I hope that anyone that has a mind and soul to give their words to the world won’t be turned away from their dreams because their first book(s) didn’t sell in huge numbers. The thing is, I am finding quite a bit of comfort & satisfaction in the journey so far.  I made a move, put some  real action behind it, and made something happen! Very satisfying feeling, and now since I’ve honed my skills—hey, anything is possible for me. And—anything is possible for you, too! Let’s just keep it going, right?

Somewhere over the rainbow and all that good stuff!

:)

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(Next time around- What Is My Next Project, Again?)

A Little Encouragement … via a little original poem (My first ‘blog hug’)

So yeah, I’ve written a few poems, a few songs, too. I’m guessing many fiction writers have done the same. Of course, while I dabbled around with writing poetry, I never really bothered to brush up on what makes a poem a properly crafted piece of work– and I’m sure some that I’ve shared with others were quite a mess. But, I’m really not caught up in worrying if this one I’m sharing with you guys today is done just right, as I think the sentiment is strong enough to cover its faults.

I wrote this some time ago, but I find that it fits me even better today. We all keep searching for, waiting on, dreaming about, believing in, and some of us have been blessed enough to have found– ‘that place’. Wherever it is, for each one of us– great and wondrous things are there. While many of those wondrous things will be a hand’s reach away, some of that great wave of wonder has to be about what is happening within us.

My wish, my prayer today, is that we all keep moving toward ‘that place’.

If this poem is any bit of encouragement to you today as you make your way there, that would make me very happy.

Oh—and I’ve left a fill in the blank spot, you’ll see it. Feel free to call out one, or a few, of those BS judgments you’re slinging off your spirit!

My first ‘blog hug’.

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©2004

Write Something, damn it! (Newbie Indie Writer Ramblings)

Writing Pencil

Write something, damn it!

O…K…

Her breath hitched, then fluttered like butterfly wings against his neck where her lips grazed his skin.

Maybe that sentence is wonderful, maybe not.

The point is—the writing must NOT stop!

All that I truly know and want is rooted in the words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters and stories I put on a page.

So, why haven’t I been writing?

Stepping into 2013 has been an extended arm-flailing slide on the longest, unexpected banana peel ride ever!

The weekend after Christmas my dad had to go to the ER. Since then, he’s been in the hospital, had a brief, but horrible for his health, stay in a nursing home for short term rehab, then back to ER,  then ICU, and still is in the hospital.  That’s where I’ve been. While my dad’s 83, this turn in his health was totally unexpected. It’s been a whirlwind of crazy—specialists, test after test, sepsis, fevers, colds, catheters, dementia, allergic reactions, a weird bout of him not swallowing anything by mouth…sigh. But my dad is much loved, and me and my sibs are his advocates, which means lots of hours each day spent holding his hand, encouraging him, and wrangling docs and nurses for him to get the best care possible.  It’s been very hard to type or write while doing this.

But, I can’t be the first writer to have some unexpected real life stuff happen to them to mess with their writing.

I wish I could offer up in this post a list of 10 Ways to Keep Writing When the Unexpected Happens.

The thing is–I don’t know five ways, or three or two.

I guess I can only recognize a personal truth. All of my days of living, my personal truth and make up—my dreams, my journey– is connected to writing.

I can’t opt out of writing, no matter how challenging my days get. Writing should be like eating, and sleeping, because it’s as much food to the part of me I’m just now discovering, as a meal is to the part of me I’m used to paying attention to, and caring for.

There is a shift going on, and a call to me that I need to answer. Am I a writer? is the question it’s forcing upon me.

 How can I hope to grow, reach my potential, if I let everything, anything–big or small get in between me and the words on the page?

I believe I know my path, and putting in my best effort to write daily is the best way for me to stay on course. If I can’t get both hands on the keyboard of my laptop or my new ASUS Transformer tablet (my Christmas gift to me!), I’ll start carrying one of the many beautiful writing journals I’ve got in my collection and write with one hand if I have to. If I can’t move forward in a WIP that’s giving me trouble, I’ll sketch out some notes or scene work on another story I’ve got on the to-be-written list.

I must keep it movin’!!!

I’d love to hear the stories of how other people have gone through the unexpected and discovered that putting their writing on the shelf wasn’t the proper response to trouble.  So many of you probably already know what I’ve just discovered—writing is the release, the answer, the healing balm in times of trouble, not just another ‘task’ that can be put off until another day.

In life, I have to conclude– you may have stumbles or falls, but you don’t have to be thrown off your path.

Trail in Temperate Rainforest

And, I’ve missed blogging! Glad to be back :)