Month: September 2016

Persevering in the Face of Negativity

For years, I sat in my comfortable bubble and wrote stories from my heart. I didn’t worry about sales or marketing, and if I got a review (or a sale), it made my day. I was fulfilling an inner need, relieving stress, taking some time for myself. I didn’t really care what people thought of my writing.

And then I got to the point where I wanted to write full time. But I couldn’t do that unless I could also generate a decent income. Which meant sales. Reader interaction. Providing a product that others actually want to pay for.

I’d never written to market, and my stories didn’t fit neatly in genre categories. NERVOUS SYSTEM is about a six-year-old boy who can control his autonomic nervous system. Is this science fiction? Fantasy? He explores religion, because when you’re born with an ability that’s not “natural,” you wonder why. Did God make me this way? Does God even exist? So there are elements of religious fiction, even if the message is to question and not to preach. How do you sell such a book?

I did one marketing campaign back in October 2015 for NERVOUS SYSTEM. Spent almost $1000, and tripled my money in less than a week, even though I gave 40,000 copies of the book away. Readers went on to buy the rest of the series. I was grateful, and in awe. But I was still only working on my writing in stolen moments, and I didn’t really have a long-term plan. I needed one.

My mom is a huge reader. She reads widely but has a soft spot for funny, clever, steamy romance. Romance is a hot genre, and I wanted to write something for her. So I came up with the String Serial.

But you see the flaw in my plan, don’t you?

How do you sell steamy romance to readers who found you based on an out-of-the-box speculative fiction series? My current readers were less than enthused.

So I’ve had to start over, in a sense. Find a new audience. But true to my nature, the String Serial does not fit neatly into the current contemporary romance genre. No naked men on the cover. No scantily clad women. No best friends calling each other “bitch” (do real women actually speak to their friends like this???). Cliffhangers with every episode (it’s a serial, not a series). And the main character thinks and speaks as real women do, especially during sex – she uses real words for body parts, with no “love rod,” no “hot beef injection,” no “steel manhood penetrating my quivering womb.”

And I’m already getting negativity for it.

And that’s okay. The negativity is not gonna stop me.

When you create something where the value is wholly subjective, you expect some people not to like it. You have to love what you do, have faith in it, and have a thick skin. And I do. I continue to get pushback about my covers, and I already have a disheartening review on Part Two on Goodreads. But that’s part of the gig. I believe in my stories, and I just have to keep going.

Three things have helped me do just that.

One, I’ve cut down my online interaction. People seem to be the nastiest version of themselves when they can hide behind their computers, and I don’t need that. While social media can be a wonderful way to connect, it can also breed hate and jealousy and misunderstandings. And I don’t know if you’re experiencing this, but half my feeds are filled with ads and requests to join people’s marketing schemes and buy their products, books included. If I want a book, I’ll go looking for one. I don’t need to be bombarded with this crap. And if I feel this way, I imagine others are feeling this way, too.

Two, I count my blessings. Supportive, healthy family? Check. Roof over our heads? Check. Food in the pantry? Check. Nothing else really matters.

And three, I’m keeping the people who love and support me close. Recently, I was thinking about cutting back on some of my extra-curricular activities to focus more on the business of writing. But the people I interact with in these activities are a positive influence. They support me and believe in me. Why would I give that up?

I’m hoping that the String Serial finds an audience and allows me to continue doing what I love. If it doesn’t, then I put my head down and write the next story. I’m going to do this. I’m going to succeed. And no amount of negativity is going to stop me.

FIRST STRING – A Look Behind the Scenes

First String - The String Serial Ebook CoverMy new steamy romance serial launches on September 16 with Parts 1-3, FIRST STRING, SECOND STRING, and STRUNG OUT. I’m thrilled with the project and excited to share the story with my readers!

You know that all my books contain love stories, but this series is actually categorized as romance, and I have to say, this is something I wrestled with. Yes, it will end happily and with the romance wrapped up, but it’s in large part about the journey: accepting your past, making peace with who you are, finding your voice, and loving yourself enough to believe you’re worthy of someone else’s love. I think these are universal struggles, and we all can relate, no matter if we had a happy, supportive childhood or not.

The heroine of this serial did not. So she faces some not-so-nice memories, and deals with not-so-nice repercussions, but I tried to balance the serious with the lighthearted. In short, I tried to make it realistic.

Realism is not the reason people generally read romance novels, though. They want escape and entertainment and heat. But I’ve never been a write-to-market kind of writer. Nothing wrong with that, but my characters speak to me, and I have to tell their story as faithfully as I can, warts and all.

And in keeping with that goal, I had a specific look for the covers in mind. We played with dozens of images and designs before deciding on one, and I love it. I think the image of Hope on the cover hearkens back to Lucille Ball. And I didn’t want a naked man on the cover. Nothing wrong with naked men, but that’s not the focus of the story, just a part.

So will this serial sell? I have no idea. It’s not typical, it’s not following the tropes (much), it has a completely different kind of cover. But it also has my signature – deep characters and emotion. A love story. And it’s a fun read. I hope you fall in love with Hope just like I have.

I Got in An Argument on Facebook, And It Makes Me Sad

We all have those connections on Facebook – people we knew once upon a time, maybe in childhood, but who we don’t really know anymore except on social media. I like to see these people’s posts, watch their children grow and their careers soar, and most of the time, the interaction is supportive: “You look great!” “Congratulations!” “Hope your day gets better!”

But I had one of these connections, a friend from elementary school, post something rather extreme.


So I commented. Three days of posts, two separate threads. I was told throughout to “grow a brain and fuck myself” for asking how the above comment helps and that we should talk about it; that Trump wants to exterminate Mexicans, this is the pre-cursor to another Holocaust, and that they don’t need to waste their time proving this – I should go out and find the info myself; if it has to be explained to me, I’m hopeless and they don’t feel its their job to educate a 40+-year-old woman of means; that the OP should just “rule out the white people”; that California is “occupied territory”; that the “motherfuckers” who were Columbus’s crew were undocumented, there’s no European legitimacy for being on this soil, and I am an interloper. It all comes down to the fact that my very existence is offensive because I don’t believe in open borders.

First, there’s a lot I could say about the politics and actual issues of the discussion (which was mostly by me – these people who piled on generally did not add to the discussion substantively, although a few did, and I tried to acknowledge those as the thread grew), but frankly, that’s not what bothered me. We all have different opinions. I’m open to hearing about those and exploring ideas. That’s why I engaged.

What bothers me is how the discussion was handled. The OP had a perfect opportunity – she was obviously upset, emotional, and frustrated, and I was willing to listen. Why not take that opportunity and try to change my mind? After all, she claimed that Trump wants to EXTERMINATE her and all people from Mexico! If she really felt that way, wouldn’t she want my vote and support?

Sadly, no. She didn’t care to change my mind. She just wanted to tell me how ignorant I was and that she didn’t want to be friends with anyone who didn’t think exactly the way she does.

And then her friends chimed in. Some added arguments, one linked to a video of Rachel Maddow (drink the Kool-Aid much?), they said how I put my foot in my mouth and can’t stand the heat and blah, blah, blah.

I think the fact that I stuck it out so long is proof that I can stand the heat. I remained respectful. I continued to try to address the issues. This former friend of mine…she did not.

I took screen shots of both entire threads, and my first thought was that I would post them here. Maybe someday I will, but right now, I’m too disheartened. In one of her posts, the OP alluded to the fact that 20 people had messaged her asking her to back off me. I appreciate that, and while I didn’t feel I needed help, per se, even having one person stand up and say, “This is not how we have a civil dialog and advance our cause,” would have been golden. We have many mutual friends on Facebook, and not one of them actually engaged, but some of them had to read the discussion. And nobody spoke out.

To sum it up, I don’t feel offended at any of the exchange. I just feel sad. If this is the way the OP treats a friend, I would hate to be her enemy.