It's official, we've survived another year. Whether you kicked 2021s butt, survived nicely, or possibly took a little beating (like I did), you made it through! You're here, I'm here, and it's time to have fun <3
My favorite moment was seeing my kiddo realize we were driving into Disney World as a surprise for his 5th birthday. Drop me a comment with your favorite moment from 2021 so we can celebrate together!
2021 was a rough year for me personally. My mystery illness remained undiagnosed, but I spent so much of the year on medication that altered my mood and alertness that finding motivation to write was hard - even with the stories screaming. Add in a 70-hr a week job and a toddler home full time thanks to COVID and the fingers weren't tapping away on the keyboard like I would have liked, but I am fortunate enough to have still released!
Now for the good stuff! While I'm trying not to set release dates for 2022 just in case my muse works in a different order than anticipated, I do have a freaking awesome lineup that returns me back to my productivity level pre mystery illness in May 20201
Check out all this romancy goodness!
The Race - Steampunk
To Love a Guardsman - Military (in Cupid Wore Dogtags)
Life in Reverse - Paranormal
Slay Bells Ring - Paranormal Christmas
Trapped in Wonder - Fantasy
Magic Cursed - Dark Fantasy
Double Linked - Paranormal
Christmas and the Lamp - Christmas
Surprise YA Fantasy (in a mythical creatures boxset)
The Christmas Suit (a Christmas at midnight short in Suit Porn only available at LLS!)
Surprise Fantasy RH
Then, if there's time, I'm hoping to get to release:
Cost of Magic - Fantasy
The Flames they Found - Fantasy
I know what you're thinking - how is she going to do that after 1.5 years basically not publishing? Well, the good news is 4 of them are already written and just waiting for their time in the sun...err ereader library.
So let's survive and thrive in 2022 together!
Let me start this post off with the best news - after 8 full days, my account on Amazon has been fully restored. However, for the last 3 days, I've fought an entirely separate battle where Amazon attempted to not pay me after allowing my books back.
My personal fight has not yet ended, as I will not back down, and I have every intention of getting this process fixed, and thankfully, now I have a contact to continue to fight.
Before I get started, I wanted to say thank you for your voices during all of this. You see, it was social media that got an Executive to call me, not my emails and phone calls. It was everyone banding together - in some instances, for someone you don't even know.
A Christmas Gift?
Christmas night, I was checking my email when I saw it, a different subject line from KDP not attached to any case number.
I will not lie. I screamed. I screamed at the top of my lungs and nearly jumped into the air. I was back. My career had come back after 17 total people on the content review team telling me no. What's more - I was answered by an American and not a bot. (I have since confirmed the content review team is overseas so I am not being rude).
I thanked them so quickly and rushed to the next step. I quick search on Amazon did indeed show all my titles.
Being overjoyed, I immediately went to check and see if they truly paid back my royalties as well. Imagine my surprise, when I saw this.
I politely emailed asking if there was a mistake.
Meanwhile, I had two friends buy books - 1 bought ebooks, 1 bought audio. I waited three hours and checked. It hadn't triggered the account reopening in full. I'd already emailed, and I didn't want to piss the nice people off so I waited.
Next day I got this email.
Four three more days I would explain, send my screenshot and get this exact same email back, sometimes from the nice Luis, sometimes from someone else. Each time, I checked my dashboard.
Stressed, I went to Twitter again and tried tweeting about possible stolen royalties.
I also noticed a glaring issue. The book that got me banned had reviews...reviews from January 2021. Had the backend crossed their wires and the content really appeared misleading? I thought so, but wouldn't know until I could speak to someone.
Today, while on a work call, a strange number called. My jaw dropped when I saw the "voice to text" of the voicemail. Which I was also able to confirm with an email check moments later.
I emailed back (notice they still don't give you a way to get to them?) and got a call within a few short minutes.
Tony was wonderful. He assured me nothing was taken from me, and even agreed that there was no suspicious content, but that he has no access to the content team notes. He told me I was back in full and I confirmed with a quick check into my dashboard - I was also surprised to see I somehow made sales three of the days I was totally missing.
What did I learn from the call?
To everyone who has sent messages, left comments, and shared their stories. Thank you. This has been nothing short of the week from hell. I am not backing down. I have this man's direct phone number because he used a phone registered with CallerID. I will be following up. I will be consulting law professionals on the best next steps for us all.
As you've probably imagined, not only have I not stopped trying just because it's the holidays, I've also had a bit of a strained holiday because my dream and career are in tatters. If you're seeing this first, part 1 is here.
That said, I will not be kept down, and I've got a few updates in the case and what comes next to share with you. While I'm not trying to cram information at people, I do want to share timely updates as timelines and to keep things from snowballing into giant updates.
At last count last night, I had 17 different "we're not telling you more, your count is over, bye" emails from 6 people total. All overseas, no supervisor, and none responding to my request for a phone call.
Last night, it also occurred to me that with them completely locking me out of my account, I've lost access to my 1099 - which, with my earnings, would put me in legal trouble in about 30 days when it's time to file. Keep in mind, it's possible they will automatically send me it versus the standard "1099's are in your account" email that is standard. I'm not certain, since it wasn't stated, so I'm not condemning them for that just yet.
Thanks to someone's suggestion, I was able to back door into the extinct author central going through the old link - which was supposedly no longer useable per an email from KDP awhile ago. The better news? When I hit "contact us" the ability to call comes up! I haven't tried it because it was the middle of the night and I truly want to speak to someone stateside with a firm grasp on what I'm trying to explain and why I care so deeply. That is in no way meant to be rude. I managed an overseas team for 5 years, I love the working around the clock method, but know first hand how tricky communication can be since I'm not cool enough to be bilingual any longer (not important but I was in Spanish for a few years until I stopped using it in college).
So, starting on 12.27, I'm going to see if that button works and if I can't back my way into a phone call. I truly feel with a phone call, the error will be obvious. Regardless of whether I will or won't use KDP again, my larger dream of finding an agent and joining a publishing house is likely impossible without an amazon presence and I still don't know if I can upload new titles through a third party or not.
Today, around 3pm, I received two more rejections for more information, both slightly polieter and from the same person (though this was a brand new person in general).
To which, I'm taking a slightly harsher response because now it's been going on for ages with my request for more information and a phone call not working. Did I get a little emotional? I did, but I remained polite and relevant. Some people won't agree with what I did, but this is my journey and I'm sure I'll make mistakes.
All drama aside, I'm going to keep fighting for my backlist, but begin to move forward with new releases. First, I want to share my very first published novel with everyone as a thank you. This book was wide to be permafree on Amazon, but I doubt anyone knew that, so here's a link to all retailers! *note it is not free on audible, but I have gift codes should someone be interested.
While I normally like to give each book it's own "cover reveal" and blurb announcement, I'm going to do things a little differently. So, I'm happy to present 3 of the 12 releases I have planned for 2022! To see the rest, consider joining my street team. Since Christmas & The Lamp was in KDP, I'm afraid to put it up wide presently.
These may end up on amazon via D2D In the future if It turns out I can place new titles I just can't replace or place via KDP. For now, I'm staying away.
The Race 3.3.22
Cover By: The Illustrate Author
Blurb: When all your hopes begin in the sky.
The world is not what it once was, but Rose cannot seem to convince her mother of that. Steam powered airships, mechanical carriages, and a far less constricting type of fashion are not enough to free Rose from her mother's hand. Headed toward London and a suitor she's never met, all Rose wants to do is captain the airship her father left her upon his death. While not impossible in the new world order, it's certainly not fathomable to her antiquated mother. In order to live her dream, Rose will have to take matters into her own hands.
Two tragedies left Wyatt nearly destitute and an emotional rogue. When he hears of the big race that could win him a title and land, he's ready to push life savings on the line. Unfortunately, he had no ship of his own and no way to enter, until he meets the beautiful Rose.
Their only hope of seeing both their dreams become a reality is each other. From London to Paris and more, the duo must trust in one another if they are to win the race. Trust comes with quite a cost as adventure can easily turn deadly and losing the race isn't all they have to worry about.
Slay Bells Ring 7.15.22
Cover by: Fantasia Cover Designs
Blurb: Vampires and Christmas. Not in her city.
Annika James grew up with the weight of the world on her shoulders. As one of the last surviving Vampire Hunters, she's traveled the world to end the lives of all vampires. Spending time home in New Orleans was rare, but Christmas always meant going home.
Connor Logan protected his people. As the elected vampire king, he was judge, jury, and executioner when vampires stepped out of line. When a sect in New Orleans gets too brazen, he travels there only to be attacked and left for dead.
Annika should have staked the pale-white man on sight. Only, something stopped her. Instead, Annika saved him only to find out who he actually was. When he asked for her help, she hesitated. Working with bloodsuckers had never come up, but if the pair worked together to stop the killings in time for Christmas, she'd wait to kill him until after. Too bad Connor's deep gaze and strong moral guidelines send them down a path neither prepared for.
Trapped in Wonder 9.27.22
Cover by KDS Concepts
Blurb: For two years Alyss has searched for her sister for two years. Despite villagers whispering and jeering that Annie ran off with a man, Alyss doesn't believe it. Unfortunately, all leads led to nowhere, and it seemed Annie might have vanished because she wanted to.
That is, until Alyss got a break. Another woman in the village - Scarlett - seemingly runs away as well. Only, Alyss knows the truth. Scarlett didn't run anywhere, she was taken. Just. Like. Annie. Renewed, Alyss sets off down a dangerous course into Under Forest.
In Under Forest, everything is different. Up in down. West is east. Monsters are friends. Everything is dangerous. With help from a man Alyss knows only as Hatter, she plans to find her sister before she becomes lost as well.
While I'm fairly certain an author who has self published for 3 years and been attacked by amazon isn't appealing, if anyone know any wonderful small presses with a focus on romance and unagented submissions I'd be forever grateful for any tips as I've learned being out on my own has some disadvantages.
Let's keep the momentum going - I want this procedure changed so badly for the next author to suffer at the fate of "the content review team". Please comment if you have any suggestions for next steps or contacts you have!
Two edits were made for clarity.
1. I had 700 reviews and ratings, not reviews only. I apologize for not realize you could rate without reviewing on Amazon until it was brought to my attention.
2. updated verbiage on the review notice to avoid semantical conversations or confusion based on policy.
3. A link to part 2 that includes more of the process and my fight.
The last 30ish hours have been very hard for me. Somehow, I offended Amazon's KDP system and my entire career has been taken down. This blog is my attempt to share only the facts, while leaving out any opinions and emotions. At present, 43 books have been unpublished, over $300 in advertising dollars on a new release from 12.20.21 are wasted, and over 700 reviews & ratings are now gone. All of this occurred just 24 hours after my latest release, which was the first release I've had since last Christmas, due to fighting a mystery illness and COVID parenting a toddler - writing took a backseat.
Please consider sharing this blog on your social media. I want to effect change within Amazon more than I want my career back. If enough of us make noise, it's possible this can all be changed.
This post might be lengthy, but I promise, It's not extraneous information.
To set the stage about me for what it might be worth, I am a 2x USA Today Bestselling Author. I began publishing through the fantastic confidence of CHBB Publishing in summer of 2015 before branching out to self publish in summer of 2017. Since 2015, over 54 novels were written and published. Many were shorts in anthologies. Some of those shorts were republished when the anthologies ended and rights returned, but not all. While my review count was a modest total of just over 700, they were still reviews.
I write across the bulk of romance subgenres, with a focus on paranormal romance, steampunk romance and Christmas romance. My works are not all under 18 friendly, but some were.
Today I learned that I tested “negative” for COVID-19.
Aside from a few people, I’ve kept very quiet about the process. It was personal, and terrifying, from start to finish. I wasn’t certain what I was going to do if I tested positive, but I knew if I tested negative I needed to get the information out there. Getting the test isn’t the end of the world, and you should do better than me to remember that.
Because I felt like I was all alone. No one talks about it. No one gives any indication how many tests come back negative – we’re not tracking that, and we should be. I had my first panic attack and my second. I cried…a lot. I recorded a few quick videos for big moments in my son’s life. In short, I took shit too far, but I had so much fear in my body that it happened. I worried about how unready I am to leave this world and not enjoy all the perks of being a mom. How many stories I still have to tell and how many adventures I’m yet to have.
While you wait for results, you’re isolated. Alone. You can hear the rest of the house carrying on without you, and it’s gut wrenching. All you want is to stay positive, but all you can think about is how you can’t hold your child. How your husband is left doing ALL the cleaning and cooking. How your elderly mom (sorry mom, but at 72, you’re elderly), is taking care of the child when Mike has to report to work because military are essential personnel.
So, here we go. Let’s start. It’s a bit long, but I blame the length of the process for that, so I hope you’ll stick with me until the end – which is when I got the call this afternoon. This will a post about what I went through, but I’ll do a timeline post at the very end, as the timeline for everything was truly the worst part.
When the symptoms first started it wasn’t that I was in denial, it’s that I didn’t have the fever OR the dry cough. I had a sick child, a sore throat, a boring cough, and a single day of horrendous stomach issues that just resulted in a lot of restroom visits, but no real issues with said visits. (Ironic I can write erotic sex scenes but I struggle to discuss pooping).
Sunday the 22nd I woke up sick. Common cold sick. No fever, no dry cough. I did experience fuzzy thoughts and a ton of dripping nose issues. I took some cold medicine that night. I totally dried out and was fine. Mentally, I didn’t have a second thought. Monday, I took a daytime cold medicine, and aside from being high as kite (which is normal for me), I was fine.
Monday night things took a turn for the worse. I could feel pins and needles in my legs. They were on fire, then they were icy cold, then they were just asleep. Over and over. I had a good cry. I panicked. I went to sleep. I woke up, I wish I could remember the sensation but I made Mike get out of bed and hold me. The next day, I learned I’d had a panic attack.
Tuesday my mental state kept slipping. Though I wasn’t any sicker, the fear grew and grew. I didn’t sleep until nearly 4 am, fear that I’d stop breathing the main cause. When I did sleep, I woke up three times choking so hard I couldn’t breathe, and my eyes watered.
Wednesday, I went to Quick Care. They were wonderful. I was admittedly treated like I was infected, but I get it. They did everything they could, right down to taking chest X-rays. X-rays were clear. My circulation and pulse were strong. I had no fever – I never had. I knew what came next – I’d be told to go home and isolate and don’t waste the test.
To my surprise, not only was I prescribed medicine, but I was told to go to take the test. My underlying conditions – the very ones rendering me a terrified lump – were the same ones sending me to get the test. Asthma. A single kidney. A small heart murmur.
I’d like to say I calmed down. That knowing I would go for the test helped. It didn’t. I hardly slept that night. Aidan gave me a Button to help me feel better and I sure as shit clutched that adorable little toy as I tried to sleep and brought it with me. Per the doctor’s suggestion, I was up at 5 am to head down to the drive thru testing site.
I got there at 6:45 am and piled in behind an already growing line of cars. I was the second line of a wrap – the first being close to two sets of tents. Though there were cop cars, no people stood outside the cars. I drove up and left my foot on the brake as all the others did. Would I be done soon? Do they start early?
I sat for 45 min. The panic growing. The queasiness increasing. I looked into other cars. All around me, only single people sat. I hoped none had large families at home should they get the result no one wanted. Trepidation swarmed me as I continued to worry I was too far down in the line to receive a test. This location only did 250 a day and I was 7 minutes later arriving than suggested.
Around 7:30 a man in a bright safety vest began walking. He went from car to car passing out masks and informing us to leave our windows up. Opening it would result in removal.
So I sat there, with a giant mask that impeded my vision and made breathing harder. I talked to the universe (I’m not a “god” person). I worried about what came next. I emailed my husband, texted my mom and checked in on Aidan, ensuring he was still asleep.
Then we started to move. My throat went dry but I drove. Start, stop. Start, stop. Then I reached the curve. I rolled my window down. They asked if I had symptoms or was in contact. I started to say symptoms and show my doctors note. I was cut off, pointed in a direction and told to roll my window up.
Next, a man knocked on the window and I rolled it down. He told me to secure my hair and watch his finger out the front window. He took my temperature – read it aloud – 99.8, and told me to pull into a line. He wrote it on a clear plastic holder, stuck a yellow paper in, and slid it under my windshield wiper.
My heart slammed in my chest as the world grew dizzy. I’d not had a temperature before. How much could I Google as I got closer to the cops since I was sitting still. Everything showed accurate except for -0.5. Then I remembered panic makes you feverish. It could be nothing. I chanted it to myself, along with the word “negative” over and over again.
I pulled up and stopped under a tent. Two people in hazmat suits asked for my ID and insurance card. They wrote furiously, ignoring me as they did before muttering only two cars under the tent and then shooed me along. The next man was ironically quite jovial. We talked about the test, and while he did it he mentioned “Scrambling your brain,” with a small laugh.
I pulled forward again. This time to get information on the results. When I’d get them, how to exit the facility. A whole bunch of info on the sheet contradicted what the man said, but the important part was this: call in 7 days.
So I went home.
I’d love to say I was this big, brave girl who went and slept in another room, hand sanitized every after move, and enjoyed herself. I didn’t … well I did all the things, but I was a mess. I was afraid, deathly afraid.
During the day I’d be fine. Then that night it would get bad. I’d get the circulation issues and weakness in my legs again. I’d cry. I’d rant to my husband who isn’t an emotional person – aka I drove him nuts. I’d lay awake at night swearing I wasn’t breathing correctly. My chest hurt on and off but never like the described articles of which I read 100% too many.
I bought a pulse oximeter. It was my best friend. Except for after a bad round of shortness of breath on Saturday that lead to my inhaler. My heartbeat spiked and it freaked me out. Everything physically trembled. I almost went to the hospital but fear of exposing myself kept me in my place. When it didn’t stop, I did call. Take some walks, call back.
Thankfully, the walks helped. Unfortunately, that ended the small mental superiority I had. I spiraled. When it was quiet in the house, I made videos for Aidan. Twenty seconds max because I couldn’t control the emotion beyond that. One for his birthday in May. One for his first day of big kid school. One for when he drives. One for his wedding day. I gave into the fear and I’m not proud of it, but creating a memory for my son, who already didn’t understand why the person who was always there couldn’t be, was more important.
I was ready to fight. I didn’t know what it was, but I was ready. To this exact moment something is still wrong. I still have mucus dripping down my throat despite a ton of meds. I still have random heartburn. But that’s for another day.
Results should have started coming in yesterday. They didn’t and I was a wreck of symptoms last night. While stuff gets worse at night, I have a bad feeling I aided to it.
While at work, my phone blared next to me. The screen showing “COVID Testing” (which is what I labeled it). I thought it was finally time. My heartbeat slammed in my chest as I answered and began to shake.
I thought I’d get answers. I didn’t. First I got bombarded with questions to confirm I was me. All I wanted was the stupid results. Then, the nice woman finally gave them to me “negative”. I cried. No, I bawled. I heard her talking about the paper for “negative” results, but I hardly focused. She warned me I was negative today, but my immune system is lower and to be careful. My mom walked up and I somehow mouthed negative to her.
I hung up. I kept crying. I ran across the house shouting “Mommy’s better!” and scooping Aidan into my arms. I twirled him. I put him down. He came back for more hugs. He asked me to sleep in bed tonight. We bounced and danced. Then I called my husband to tell him as well.
At the end of the day, I tested negative. I received the news so many want and are unable to get. I’m beyond fortunate. The fight against COVID-19 isn’t over. We still need to stay home. We still need to flatten and then eradicate the curve. My husband still has to come and go – each time putting us all at risk again as he shares rooms at work. So let’s do this together. Let’s stop going out, stop sitting on porches and patios with friends. Let’s remember that while you aren’t scared, someone else, somewhere close, is.
Thursday, March 12th:
Dry, scratchy throat.
Monday, March 16th:
A cough began. It wasn’t a deep cough. It wasn’t wet. It wasn’t dry. Additionally, Aidan began to sneeze and cough – the same nasty cough he had from November until early January.
Thursday, March 18th:
Stomach issues from hell today. I was able to secure a telehealth call for Aidan for the next day.
Friday, March 19th:
The doctor said he didn’t seem to have it, but we needed to get him down to the mobile pediatrician site in Kenner to see what he might have. While we waited, he was tested for strep and flu – both negative. Due to no circulation or fever, they said it was a likely a cold.
Sunday, March 22nd:
I woke up with full on cold symptoms.
Wednesday, March 25th:
Went to the doctor. Clear lungs. Sent for testing.
Thursday, March 26th:
Took the test at the Alario Center.
Monday, March 30th:
Received my negative result.
The end of a series is always so exhilarating. It’s also equally as sad. You grow in tune with the characters and the world after 8 months together. For me, saying goodbye to this mystical, magical New Orleans also comes at a time when I’m about to have to say goodbye to New Orleans as my home for a new military stationing.
It’s poetic, really, but it’s also terribly sad. I’ve grown to love Lita’s recklessness, Ivy’s determination, and Deidre’s passion to do better. With this book, a new witch joined the trio and while she was standoffish and cocky and first, Grace revealed herself to be a lot deeper. Scenes were cut to keep the story on track, but her backstory with Jonathon is one I might tell as a freebie on the site one day.
Now, without further blubbering, happy release, Much to do About Hexes!
Grace Harper was still adjusting to life in the Big Easy when the vampire clan who followed her from New York attacked her. The last thing she'd wanted was to file a police report, but a cop witnessed the event and saved her the human way when her magic failed.
Tanner Cole never hesitated to save a damsel in distress. It just wasn't often they turned around and hexed him as a thank you. He loved women and found himself in quite a pickle thanks to said hex. He couldn't be with any other woman until he took down the vampire clan who attacked the young witch he'd saved.
Grace hadn't meant to hex Tanner, but she didn't always think before she cursed. Now he won't let her out of his sight until the vampires are dead and his hex is dissolved. Too bad neither were prepared for the way danger and tragedy could bring even the most different people together.
“How did you stop? That’s going to be important to ensure you do again whenever you feed. We all have triggers, and once we’ve found it, that’s it.”
“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.”
“Let me guess, your witch friend climaxed?”
“What, is that standard or some shit?”
“Pretty much. It’s tied to a change in the donator’s body chemistry the first time you feed.”
“Are you telling me if I drink from someone and they don’t orgasm I’ll drain them dry?”
“Pretty much, but with your reputation, you shouldn’t have an issue getting that done if you’re done with synthetic.”
FREE GIFTS WITH PURCHASE + GIVEAWAY
Every purchase comes with 2 FREE ebooks and 1 FREE audiobook. Plus, you’ll be entered to win the grand prize package.
Freebies and giveaway are open until March 2. 2020 at 6 pm CST.
To enter, email here with proof of purchase, KU order or gift to another person.
Last night, before a terrible tragedy ended one of my favorite parades, a member of the Sirens walking krewe looked at Aidan and dug through her bag to find this siren’s bottle just for him. Though she didn’t say why, I believe it was because of the note inside, and how powerfully it would resonate for a 3-year-old with a cast up to his thigh, stuck in a wheelchair during what is arguably the best time of year if you live in NOLA.
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my own ship. “
My son is my hero. Period.
19 days ago he suffered an accident while out having the time of his life and found himself in more pain than should be fair for a small child - a broken bone, just under his knee near the growth plate.
In that moment, fun vanished for him. He wasn’t himself. My smiling, loud, non-stop talking child wouldn’t smile and he wouldn’t talk for
nearly 10 waking hours.
Within those first 24 hours, he was smiling and laughing once he was splinted. In that time, he also went to the ER. I had to stand by and listen and watch as he was essentially tortured (through no fault of the ER staff) in getting X-rays and a cast. Even still, he found calm and would sing and play.
Over the next 19 days, his world was different. My child who loved to say “I’ll do it” and run to do said thing, had no way to do it. The child who made it a game to climb on and off things to help, no longer could. The toddler who loved squatting down to build train tracks and race hot wheels, could only do so if someone let him - which we of course did. He couldn’t play with his friends. He couldn’t even go potty alone - something he’s been doing since before he was 2.
But you know what? He didn’t complain. Within a day of the full leg cast, he’d figured out how to butt scoot along the floor by putting his good foot under his bad. He taught himself how to roll over by tugging on the blanket and pulling himself - while mommy and daddy held it. Within seconds of being in a wheelchair on day 4, he was off, free once again.
He’s figured out how to play, admittedly by himself. He’s learned not to cry when his friends don’t stay by the wheelchair at school, play dates, and parades. Aidan “runs” through the house by scooting along the floor, giggling and grinning as he goes. He suffered through getting a cast off and a new one on at a hard angle for his stiff leg and while it sounded like an exorcism during it, five minutes later he was laughing and giggling asking to come back and see his leg photos again. He’s a fantastic terror, chatting everyone’s ear off and shouting “I’ve got a broken leg” to try and get stuff at the parades.
Throughout everything, he hasn’t lost his shine. He’s not once given into the sadness that I swear an adult would. He’s not complained about being stuck in one spot or losing his beloved bath time. (Though he literally pushed up off the ground with joy when I opened a cast cover that will let him swim!). Even last. night, when he was in pain because Mommy and Daddy didn’t do the best lifting jobs and made him sore.
He is a hero.
We write books with these strong, masculine leads and heroines we either identity with or strive to be. We often times forget that there are other hero’s, little ones with bigger hearts who tackle adversity in a way adults couldn’t fathom.
I only have a few novels with kids - and I’m not going to link them because that’s not what this is about - they’re not “characters.” They’re more plot elements, unique as they needed to be to let Mommy and Daddy shine.
I want us to do more. Romance is about the kids, too. Let’s all make a story where a young child is the hero in a parent’s life, not just an accessory.
2019 was all about visibility. I wanted to not only reach new readers, but be more visible to those already following me. I wanted to connect with those around me where I seemed to fail in the past.
what did I do?
I tried monthly blogging.
That didn’t yield results. I’d give away free things each blog if people would just comment. I’d share all over social media, and nothing would happen. So, after six straight months, I gave up.
I started back at book signings.
this was the best use of my word ever. I made new friends, created new partnerships, and overall just enjoyed being in a book obsessed setting.
I sent weekly newsletters.
While these were focused on recommendations, I usually had more - like a question, recipe and tons of giveaways. Did it work? Not really. My list of 2000 dropped down to about 1500 and I’d get maybe 2-3 engagement. Which, if it was you, I LOVED that!
I joined a boxset with new authors.
this improved my readership and my friendships as it launched the Hexed in New Orleans world AND hit the USA list, but it overall did not create the relationship with readers that I wanted. Do the books sell? Yes, but I’m after the engagement and fun more than the sales.
I posted daily on my business page.
Facebook algorithms are a pain. However, with over 10k followers I was certain if I posted daily, people would be interested in “hanging out”. Some days this worked, most it fell flat. I did giveaways, questions, fun things and more. Nothing stood out as working more than something else.
I tried to giveaway as many things as I could.
the goal? Entice someone to try something new. I never required more than a share to enter, and still, most went not entered.
What started on a high note as a key goal turned into a depression-like state after 7 months. Was Facebook causing some of it? Yes, but overall, it wasn’t. People didn’t seem to want to engage with me. Was it me as a person? Do my books sound shitty? Worse, do my books suck?
come November and December I slipped on deadlines and gave up pretty much everything. It’s not about fame or fortune for me, it’s about creating the communities I love as a reader. It became impossible to care because it feels (yes present tense), like no one needs the escape or wants the escape my stories bring. Writing grew tiresome, the characters didn’t stop talking, but I no longer cared if anyone ever knew their stories.
It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth. Without any indication my stories were enjoyed, it made no sense to keep pumping them out, no matter that I have 77 outlines waiting. And worse? If it wasn’t the stories no one wanted, it was me.
In my personal life, I’ve never cared if people don’t like or engage with me. I’m confident in myself. However, that disintegrates when my work is in question. It annoys me, but it’s what brings me to 2020’s word.
2020 is going to be about remembering why I started - to fulfill dreams. I am going to spend the year focusing on why I first picked up a pen in second grade to write a silly story about a snowflake.
I want to focus on the dream being the most important part - not on caring if people share my dream or believe in it.
2020 is about Lexi. It’s about the stories I want to tell, the worlds I want to share and to hell with caring if people don’t want them. I want them.
this is my call to action for you in 2020 - fight to love and live your dreams. ❤️❤️
Never judge a book by its cover ... but really, we all do. That’s not to say we’re bad people, simply that striking images get our attention. That’s okay!
As an author, it can be hard to find not the perfect cover, but the perfect cover artist. I, myself, have been so very fortunate to have stumbled upon some artists I rely on for premades (milktee designs, the write wrapping, book cover design by selfpub designs) , and others who I trust more than I can say with customs. I jokingly tell people I have three cover artists I go to whenever they will let me bug them - Dreams2Media, Fantasia Book Cover Designs, and The Illustrated Author. All three produce not only fantastic images that bring my idea to life, but also seamless processes that make you feel trusted and listened too - things I find integral when someone is bringing tour work to life.
If you've followed me since 2016, you know I completed a steampunk adventure novel, The Race. I created a cover based on the assets available at the time, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t want to give the project to anyone because I didn’t know I didn’t love it. Let’s take a peek, shall we?
It’s also not surprising that I consider those three ladies my friends. Melissa Stevens, from The Illustrated Author, and I talk regularly. I couldn’t tell you what we were talking about one day a few months ago, but it lead me to sharing that I had the above cover, but knew it didn’t fit the market any longer. Despite me not realizing she did steampunk, Melissa told me she could make a snazzy, current, cover. I was ready, but before I show you the reveal, I want to go behind the scenes so that fellow authors know what to look for when finding an artist, and so readers can see a peek into the world of creating just the right image.
Though brief, I hope this gives everyone a little behind the scenes fun!
It Starts with Questions
I cannot tell you how much I love answering questions. It forces me to delve into things I hadn’t thought of ... and if you’re me might have forgotten (sorry, Melissa, I know I threw the hair in last minute lol).
Bring on the Mockups!
One of my favorite parts of working with Melissa is the mock-up. I know she’s working. She knows she’s working, but I have NO idea what’s going on! Then boom! I’ll get an inbox with a pretty. She’s checking direction. She’s checking big picture. And most times, she’s putting a better twist on a cover than my stale, boring background idea. You haven’t seen them, but I can think of 4 covers she’s done this for 😂.
From there, sometimes I see a variety of images, sometimes I see nothing until the end when she’s asking if I see anything that needs changes. This time, there were a bit more, but I think it’s because she could tell how freaking nerdy I was waiting to see. I get this way with all steampunk covers.
So, let’s take a peek!
See those different versions? Let’s break them down!
1. The initial mock-up that made me squeal because they were inside a mother flipping airship!
2. A look at the full spread - likely shared bc I came undone at the ebook version.
3. Me going “oooo ummm he has pirate hair”
4. Melissa showing me the beauty of her hand-painted hair. Idk about you lovelies reading this, but goodness am I jealous of those full curls!!
5. The “last chance to look it over” image.
Nine times out of ten, I’ve got no revisions. That’s not artist dependent, that’s because I’ve learned to trust them and take a look at what I have. Of course, sometimes I’m a pain - as I bet all 3 ladies will agree too :D
so after randomly remembering my guy has “pirate hair”, and after Melissa went boss lady creating those FAB curls, I was all “umm can we do a more steampunk color than green?”
Not only did Melissa do this, she did it twice!
Two utterly stunning options. So much so, I drove myself to a local store known for steampunk novels, and browsed the shelves. I couldn’t decide. I almost jokingly asked Melissa if I could do both and just randomly change them out on amazon 😂😂
Needless to say, I picked one. One stood out as a fit without “disappearing” in with other titles in this genre. Are you ready to see which?
Ta Da!! The book cover process (in minor detail) all lead up to this glorious cover that is dripping with steampunk goodness.
I can’t thank Melissa enough for letting me know she did steampunk and that something much better could be done to capture the spirit of the novel! While I don’t know when it will release because I now have motivation to do self edits and find an editor, I couldn’t wait to share. Whether it’s my first release of 2021, or the end of 2020, I cant wait to head to the skies.
This past weekend I had the honor of attending Literary Love Savannah as an author. I held off writing this post because I wasn’t certain the direction it should take. Should it be about the prostitute who died in the bar who set my imagination whirling? Should it be silly about all the moments we had when we thought no one listened? Maybe it needed to be heartfelt for all those readers who snagged my books and made me feel like I did belong back at the convention scene.
Did I figure it out? Nope, but it’ll come to me as I go. It’ll be natural and organic and real.
Mike, Aidan and I piled into the car at 5 am on Wednesday to make the drive.
Thirteenish hours later, not only had I realized there was a thin line between romance and horror tropes, but we finally arrived in Savannah!
The weekend is both a reader and an author’s paradise. From seeing old friends for the first time in years, to meeting people I’ve connected with over social media to brand new friends, there was no shortage of amazing connections. We often forget how solitary the author life is, and when we come together, we’ll, we’re a lot of fun!
This weekend was about finding a piece of myself I didn’t know I’d lost since becoming a mom. Sure it was fantastic meals, epic parties, and soooo many books, but it was a time for me to enjoy being me. Over the past few years I’ve slipped into just being a “mom”. At LLS I was more. I was the author. I was the girl dashing through her first escape room. I was the woman struggling to find her “beauty” in time for a ball where I’d positioned myself to gain more than a few dirty looks if my sequined gown drew their eye and they deemed me unworthy. It was a place where a new shared world of stories was born and I was included simply because I was a friend.
I went to LLS because I wanted to find my footing in the author world - something I know I lost after choosing to part ways with my publisher. I got so much more.
Thank you to everyone. Thank you for the dirty stories during erotic trivia. Thank you for nights of chatting about nothing and everything. Thank you for entering my book worlds and staying for awhile. I’ll be seeing you, LLS, you haven’t seen the last of me yet.
Stay up to date with any announcements and just general posts here!