Happy Birthday to Me: AKA, My Official “Separating from My Publisher” Post

Monday is my thirty-fourth birthday, and on paper, I’ve accomplished nothing.

Actually, if we’re being technical, I’m going in reverse. I once had a book deal. I once had a cool apartment in Denver. I once had a plan for my life that looked different from what is currently happening. To quote one of my favorite romantic comedies: I am “Benjamin Buttoning.” And you know what? I’m okay with it. Sometimes you have to back up if you want to get on the right path again.

How Book Deals Disappear: What Happened with GMMG

As some of you might already know, my publisher, Georgia McBride Media Group (GMMG), who owns both Month9Books and Swoon Romance, dropped many of their authors recently. There was a lot of scandalous craziness going on with the situation, but I don’t see much point in bathing myself in that negativity any longer. Other people can investigate if they want to, and if you’re interested in learning more about what happened, here is an article. I’ll just say that it wasn’t working out anyway, and I’m happy to be able to start over with self-publishing.

I should have known that I was always meant to be an indie author. I want the freedom to release books on my own schedule, with my own covers, set my own prices, do sales/giveaways when I want, etc. And most of all, I want access to my sales. I still have no idea how many books I sold. I’d guess it isn’t many, but still, I’d like to know. I don’t do well with being kept in the dark about things, and I’m pleased that I’ll never have to deal with that again.

Still, I’m not bitter. It’s hard to shift your perspective when you had hoped something would be your “big break,” but it can be done. This experience gave me a place in the writing world. I can walk away and wish everyone involved the best.

What Happens Next: The Future Feels Much Brighter

I have to sign a bunch of paperwork to get the rights to my book returned to me. That paperwork will be taken care of within a week or two. As soon as GMMG stops selling the book and takes it down from Amazon, I’ll be free to self-publish. So while the book is going to be temporarily unavailable, it will return.

The sequel, Edge of the Permanent Always, is coming soon!

I have another new book that I might release first, but I’m keeping quiet about it for now, because it might need a bit more work. It’s with a beta reader at the moment.

I have tons of stuff going for my other pen name, too! Aside from my epic supernatural horror love story, which will probably be in-progress for a while, I’m working on a new comedy-horror that I’m really excited about. I had no idea I would ever write anything like this, but I’m loving it!

In Conclusion: My Thoughts on My Birthday

So yes … I’m about to turn thirty-four, no longer a published author, and on paper, I’ve accomplished nothing. I also have far more freedom and opportunity than a lot of people my age, and for that I’m very grateful. I’m like a thousand high-quality parts that are just sitting on the ground in a big room waiting to be assembled. I’m not sure what this fully formed me will look like or if I’ll even live long enough to see her in the mirror. But I will keep working on building myself. I refuse to let people bring me down.

I want to thank everyone who has offered me love, support, and friendship during this rough time—especially my fellow authors. Getting closer to a lot of you guys was the best part of this entire experience. I feel blessed to be part of such a supportive community.

Stay tuned for more!

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Writerly Wednesday: Sorry for Vanishing

Hi guys! This #WriterlyWednesday, I want to apologize for ignoring my blog.

A lot has been going on. I’m going hard at the third rewrite of my new romance, which now has a working title: Since Vientiane. This story has all the elements I love: travel, serendipity, hot chemistry, and plenty of color. I wanted to take some of my own experiences in Southeast Asia and twist them into something even better. It still has a long way to go, but it’s a solid book now, which is exciting!

I’ve been brainstorming a lot of new ideas I’m not sure how to get into just yet. This is a strange time in my life. Removing myself from the dating scene has been a valuable experience that has given me new perspectives. It’s a lot to process, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Processing, thinking, growing, praying, expanding, brainstorming–and working my ass off so I can build the life I want.

I hope to put out a lot of entertaining stuff for you guys, but the process is slow and frustrating. I have so many projects planned that I could work 24/7 for the next decade and still only put a small dent in what I want to do. And that’s just when it comes to the books.I also want to blog, not just to promote my books but to have the chance to help people in some small way.

You guys come here and read my blogs every single day, and that makes me happy. Thank you for your support. I hope you’ll hang in there and give me the chance to get back into this one day soon.

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Check me out on Goodreads

Get Edge of Something More, my first novel from Swoon Romance

Writerly Wednesday: Letting People Read Your Sex Scenes

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, this #writerlywednesday I thought I’d talk about something that has been on my mind since I began writing: sex scenes.

I always knew that sex would be included in my writing. I like raw, emotional stories with both fantastical elements and a realistic edge. Even when I don’t show sex, my characters talk about it openly. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a part of the human experience. It’s the same with drugs. Or violence.

A simple truth about writing is that people are going to witness the stuff you think about. With sex scenes, you’re giving them a view into some small part of your erotic mind. Sure, I could sit down and piece together a scene that wasn’t at all based on my own desires. But what fun is that? Not that I’m an expert on writing arousing sex scenes or anything. I just figure if I’m turned on, someone else might be too.

That’s why it’s creepy to think about family members reading it.

There are a few routes you can take with this:

  • Conform your writing to a standard you feel comfortable sharing.
  • Write sex scenes, but tone them down as much as you can.
  • Adopt the life of a hermit and put out freakier sex scenes with each book.
  • Take the IDGAF approach. Write what you want. Get as freaky as you want. If it ever gets brought up, be willing to talk about it openly, because it’s your scene. You should be proud of it.

I’m pretty down with the IDGAF approach. Whether there’s anything “freaky” in Edge of Something More (my previously published book) is a matter of perspective. There’s what I would consider a normal amount of sex and sexual talk. My other books will probably have more. I’ve grown and matured a lot since I started working on this book many years ago.

I don’t think my parents have read much of my writing, but they know it includes this sort of content, and they don’t care. I am lucky to have a pretty laid-back, liberal family. No matter what, they are supportive of me working hard toward something I believe in. Plus, I was pretty wild when I was younger, so the fact that my stories show sex and drug use isn’t that much of a surprise to anyone.

In life, you have to do you. I’ll continue to write what I want and hope it finds its way into the hands of those who will enjoy it as much as I do. That’s all I really care about.

My WWOOF Experience Part Three: Why I Left Early

Before reading this, you might want to check out the first two parts:

Now, the juicy stuff.

Confusion: What Exactly is My Job Again?

The first major issue on the homestead was communication. There was no clear work time and free time, which everyone found stressful. It wasn’t like we were given a list of assignments each morning and could just work on them on our own—that would have been fine.

There were times when we had a clear assignment. But in between, when I had assumed I was free to do as I wish, I would get the vibe like the owner thought I was being lazy. There was some passive-aggressive weirdness I didn’t understand, and at bird-village-animal-countrysidetimes, I almost felt like an imposition. No good.

Even More Confusion: What Exactly Are the Rules, Again?

There were other confusing issues as well. At one point, when my host was in a good mood, she welcomed me to use the shower at the main house. Seems reasonable, right? I would have understood if she didn’t want us doing that, but I’m a clean person, and if someone tells me I can take a hot shower, I’m going to. The only other option was bathing in the pond.

Everything went fine for a couple of days, but then my host suddenly seemed annoyed that I was showering at the house. She said I was doing it “too often,” but she wouldn’t tell me how often was acceptable. I am happy to follow any rules, but when the rules aren’t made clear, it’s pretty much impossible to stick to them. Especially when you get told different things at different times.

There were similar issues with the food situation. I’ll explain that part using an excerpt from a private journal post from that time. If you ignore all the horrific grammar and rambling speech, I think it sums it up nicely:

“at first it was like.. so confusing about wtf we could and couldn’t eat.. and I’d be hungry a lot and not know wtf to do and there were no clear answers.. I think I wrote about it before.. but for example I took some eggs and she was like “You ate THREE eggs?” and clearly it was like I took too much. And then I took an apple and it was like this big huge deal about how they couldnt afford for us to be eating apples.. I don’t know.”

It wasn’t like we were starved or anything. There was usually food, but it was never clear what we could have. Once in a while, they made food special for us, it was never enough to sustain me. I’m 110 pounds and have the world’s fastest metabolism. I need to eat a LOT more than some people, otherwise I get sickly, depressed, and start having blood sugar issues. I appreciated the food I was given, including a whole organic chicken that my host bought just for me. But overall, the way the situation was set up just wasn’t working for me, and when I coupled that with my desire to be back in Asheville, I decided I’d had enough.

I confessed my feelings of discomfort to my fellow woofers, and they were kind and understanding. It turned out that everyone felt like I did about the unclear boundaries and confusion over food. They told me that many other woofers had come and gone quickly for similar reasons. Two girls had apparently even made up a story about how they needed to go to town to get tampons just so they could make an exit without it being awkward.

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Me looking happy in front of a waterfall in the Asheville area.

Longing for Asheville, NC: Heading Off to Start a New Life

I’m socially awkward. So when it came to leaving my WWOOF homestead, I had two choices: make a run for it or say goodbye. There was a road out by the barn that provided another way off the property, so I could have packed my car and gone without notifying anyone. Instead, I decided to do the right thing and let my host know that I didn’t feel like the situation was right for me. I’m glad I did, because she gave me a hug and was very understanding. It’s always nice to end things on a positive note.

Overall, I am very appreciative of the generosity of my WWOOF host. It wasn’t what I had daydreamed it could be, but it was a special experience I’ll never forget.

 

Hit the Road and WWOOF: Five Things to Consider Before Woofing

If you’ve been thinking about joining WWOOF USA or woofing around the world, you’re probably the type that likes to leap at new opportunities. The uncertainty is part of the adventure, but you’ll have a better and more comfortable experience if you choose a WWOOF location with goals you believe in.

Halfway through writing Edge of Something More, I decided to do as my MC did and try WWOOF for myself. I didn’t find romance on the WWOOF farm, but had a number of cool experiences, including :

  • Peeing in the woods in the middle of the night. Yes, I enjoyed this, especially during the full moon.
  • Helping to build a greenhouse.
  • One of the guys liked to do photography, and we all got to be in a photo shoot.
  • Gardening. A lot of gardening.
  • Learning about chickens.
  • Spinning my practice poi in the grassy area outside the barn at night.
  • Going with my host to a theatrical puppet shDSCN2957ow in town.
  • Bathing with the entire group at a local pond. I kept my swimsuit on while everyone else went naked, but it was still freeing.

Choosing a WWOOF-USA Host: Five Important Questions Before You Go

  1. What’s Expected?

Unless you’re up for anything, get a clear idea of what your WWOOF host expects. The everyday stuff, like what time you’ll get up, when your meals will be, when you’ll have free time, where you’ll sleep/bathe, and what the work will entail.

I went into my WWOOF experience thinking it would be like a job with set hours. The expectations ended up being less clear, which wasn’t desirable for me.

  1. What’s Being Offered?

Accommodations can be rustic, so don’t make the mistake of assuming your WWOOF host will have the same standards as you. The same goes for food. My host provided, but I have a strong appetite and out-of-control metabolism, so I ended up hungry more than I would have liked.

  1. Do You and Your Host Have Compatible Lifestyles?

WWOOF locations are as different as people are different, and a variety of personalities end up woofing or hosting a WWOOF project. If, like me, you fear social awkwardness, check that your lifestyles mesh.DSCN3409

If you curse, it would suck to choose a WWOOF host that cringes at profanity. A recovering alcoholic might want to pick a quiet homestead where everyone practices meditation versus a large farm where everyone parties at night.

     4. Can You Commit?

Some WWOOF hosts ask for a commitment from their woofers. It’s nice to honor this, but don’t stay anywhere you’re unhappy. Sometimes, things change. I left my WWOOF location after about a week. The situation was awkward and I felt I had already gained everything I was going to.

Always do a phone or Skype interview with your host to make sure you’re okay with the vibe. Be your authentic self—you want to WWOOF somewhere you will be taken care of and appreciated!

     5. Are You Passionate?

An important part of having a p0111farmer-657343_640ositive WWOOF experience is passion for the cause. WWOOF work is tiring but satisfying if you love it. With all of the  locations out there, it makes sense to choose one with a mission that excites you.

Thanks for reading guys! I hope you all have awesome times with your WWOOF experiences.