Thursday, June 27, 2013

Getting back on track

I haven't been blogging as much lately. As some of you know (because you have kids too), it's summer break right now. That means I've been spending some much needed (and enjoyed) time playing video games with my son.

Though I've tried very hard to hide it, I've been under a lot of stress. Long story short, it finally caught up with me. These past few weeks have been a sort of emotional crash for me. I do my best to maintain a positive attitude, because I truly believe that is the key to living a happy life.

No one can MAKE you feel anything. You decide if you will be happy or not. Having said that, there were many days lately when I didn't have the strength for positive thinking.

Why am I stressed? Let me give a brief rundown. I had about 11 books under contract with a publisher. For many reasons, I made the decision to cancel those contracts as they expired, rather than have them roll over. As those contracts expire and the rights of the books revert fully to me, I am re-releasing those titles. That means I am having them edited again. Often times I also put in additional content to these stories. And since I am an artist too, I have been designing my own cover art for these re-releases. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy every moment of the process, but that is a LOT of work.

I have been published for almost 6 years. (August 11, 2013 is my 6 year publishing anniversary.) The sooner I get these books back out, the sooner I can increase my income. This is what I do for a living, so that is very important. Every time a book's rights revert to me, that is one source of income that is lost until I can get that book back out for readers to purchase.

Needless to say, I feel tremendous pressure to get these books back out as soon as possible. However, I have to make sure they are ready first. Why? Because my reputation depends on it.

As I work on this massive project, all of my new works have been on hold. That is an incredibly frustrating feeling. I can't create anything new until the old work is back out there. It's like catching up on 5 years of work in about 1 year.

If I'm not creating new works, I feel useless. My income has dropped and I wonder if I will ever truly be a success. And that is only what is stressing me about my career.

In the meantime, I stopped working out for 3 weeks. I was training so hard that it was throwing off my normal bodily processes. I had to let my system relax. So, I did. Turns out, working out was keeping me sane.

The next thing I knew, my son crashed his truck. (He is fine.) It was all downhill from there. I've spent the past 3 weeks feeling like gradually worse shit. But, I've continued to work.

I have managed to complete ONE new book. It is currently in the capable hands of my editing/writing partner. I hope to have it out by October, if not sooner. I'm back on a workout schedule, and by December, all my books will once again belong to me. At least, all that were with the publisher I mentioned. I have other books with Ellora's Cave, and I intend to keep them there.

I've taken a lot of crap for venturing into self-publishing. God forbid I want to earn enough money to pay my bills.

My point is, I am finally starting to feel like I've got my shit together again. I'm working on another re-release, getting a new book ready for publication, and I'm 10 pounds from my weight loss goal.

I've never found it difficult to find joy in small things. I keep reminding myself that as far as this goes, nothing has changed. I am not where I want to be yet. But if I keep working, I will get there. I have to believe that. Otherwise, why am I even trying?

I let myself get overwhelmed. That's something I think a lot of people can relate to.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What exactly do I write?

Answering this question might be harder than you think. Sure, I know my genre and categories in bookstores. However, there are still lots of people who have never heard of Erotic Paranormal Romance. Not to mention they are thrown for a loop by the word "erotic."

So many people hear "erotic" and think "porn" or "filth." While that is certainly out there, I don't write straight up filth. When asked in person about the content of my books, I'll tell people something along the lines of, "They have graphic violence, language, and sexual content." No one bats an eye at the graphic violence or language, but nearly everyone says something like, "So, it's just a dirty book?"

I cannot express enough how much I would like to slap these people. Scratch that. I'd like to Superman punch them in the face. Ha. Ha. I would also like to add at this time, that the people I encounter online are so much more accepting and intelligent than those I generally run into in person. I only have these bizarre confrontations in my small, Southern hometown and the surrounding area. 

Now, there are plenty of people online who think "erotic" means "porn." But mostly if they are talking to me, they've figured out the difference. 

I've even tried explaining to folks, "It's like watching anything on HBO. My books have the same type of content. There is violence, graphic language, sex, and A PLOT. The story doesn't take a back seat to any of the other elements. I couldn't possibly write about nothing but sex. There has to be a reason for it, for everything." 

Still, I get those blank looks. Or I get questions like, "Why include it at all?"

"Because in real life, there is violence. People speak (especially in private) however they wish to speak. Oh, and REAL PEOPLE DO HAVE SEX. Just because my stories have fantastical elements, doesn't mean I don't strive to give them a touch of reality."

That's normally the point in the conversation where someone says if there are vampires, wizards, or werewolves, the story can't be realistic. Honestly? Did they miss Harry Potter?

Anyway, this has obviously turned into a rant. LOL

What exactly do I write? One of my readers summed it up best. She said, "If Quentin Tarantino did romance, this is what it would look like."

That's probably one of the most awesome things anyone has ever said about my books. Not all of them are violent enough to qualify, but that's still a great explanation.