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Saturday
Jan242015

OUT OF MY LEAGUE Goes No-Huddle

We've hit the two-minute warning, folks, on Out of My League, the book I plan to release in Spring 2015 (Northern Hemisphere spring, for those of you following along south of the equator). I say "plan to release" because I'm more commitment-phobic about release dates than Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones's Diary. For different reasons, obviously. I'm always just so afraid of the "what if"s that could so easily leave me with my butt hanging out of my granny panties in front of everyone.

But I think it's safe to give an entire SEASON as a release time. Right? Right?! Buh-rother.

The thing is, I have a child graduating from high school this spring, so having a book baby around that same time could be a bit tricky. I could push it back to summer, but that would also mean pushing back the release of my next book, possibly to next year, and I don't want to do that, because the sequel to Let's Be Frank is already more than halfway to completion.

I know, I know... I said I didn't have to publish two books a year, and the world would keep spinning, but when I said that, I meant if I didn't have ideas and didn't have the books written, I would give myself a break. I can't stand having books ready to read and not out there. Why would I deprive myself of the mean reviews that make Friday nights so exciting? (Just kidding! They make any day of the week exciting.)

A logical person would say, "Hold Out of my League until next football season, when it's more timely." But anyone who knows me knows I'm about as logical as Christmas in July, so it would make perfect sense for me to release a book about American football during that sport's off-season. I justify it by saying not all of the book takes place during football season, so... whatever.

Spring, it is. Maybe. Probably. Barring any major issues, like... changing my mind.

I realize none of this really matters, in the grand scheme of things. First world problems, big time. It's all just designed to distract me from reality, anyway. Hello! I have a kid graduating from high school in three months!

No matter what, you'll be the first ones to know when the cover for Out of My League is ready, and I might even share a sneak peek with you, if I'm feeling really bold. It will take my mind off how impossible it's going to be to get through all that Pomp and Circumstance without turning into a wet, hot mess. Wish me luck!

Sunday
Jan182015

Go Away! (and I mean this in the nicest way possible)

I feel like some of us need a bit of a pep talk.*

In my cyber-lurking the past few weeks, I’ve witnessed several veteran fiction authors despairing about various parts of “the process.” Some of them are stuck at the conceptual phase, unsure they’ll ever find another great idea that will hold their interest from premise to publication. Others have hit the saggy middle; maybe they’ve painted themselves into a plot corner and don’t know how to get out—and aren’t even sure they want to, at this point. Others are slogging through edits that seem never-ending and make them wonder if any part of their original “brilliant” idea will be left in the end. Still others have made it all the way to the end, and they’ve even pushed that amazing “publish” button, only to be underwhelmed by their book baby’s reception (lackluster sales, mediocre reviews, etc.).

The familiar refrain I’m hearing (actual words may vary) is, “I’m done.”**

And here’s my reply to that: “I don’t think you are.”

BUT in case I’m wrong (it’s been known to happen on an hourly basis), here’s an alternate reply: “Okay.”

That’s it.

Nobody says you have to do this.*** This is self-inflicted angst. You’re the boss of you. If writing fiction—in whatever form(s) you’ve chosen—is no longer making you happy, stop doing it.

And that’s not to say you’re always going to love every part of the process. Like any relationship, the one between author and manuscript is hard work. But if the fun parts are no longer outnumbering the icky parts, then go ahead and quit. No “Dear John” letter required. No divorce lawyer necessary.

Maybe that’s not what you wanted to hear. Maybe you wanted someone to beg you to stick with it. Maybe you want readers to rend their clothing and say they can’t live without the promise of your next story. And maybe some readers will do that for you. But this fellow author isn’t going to. For one thing, I would never ask a friend to do something that makes him or her miserable. And it sounds to me like writing is making some of you miserable right now. More often than it’s making you happy. That’s the hallmark of a toxic relationship. I never advise friends to stay in toxic relationships.

Before you call it quits, though, I would advise you to answer one question: “What else will you do?”

For many, it will be catch up on movies and TV shows you’ve missed while you’ve been communing with your imaginary friends. Or maybe you want to spend more time with your family and friends (real-life ones). Or maybe you want to learn a new hobby. Travel. Meet new people. Redecorate your home. Get in touch with your spiritual side. Learn a new language. Eat somewhere other than in front of a computer keyboard. Whatever it is, maybe it’s calling more loudly than writing is right now.

Go. Do. It.

Writing isn’t going anywhere. When you become inspired again, it will be here. When all of those other things become less interesting, it will be here. When all the things that drove you away from writing and publishing become faded memories that are more nostalgic than nightmarish, writing will still be here, waiting for you. Your sweatpants and fleece pullovers and fuzzy socks and coffee mugs and laptops and desk chairs and music playlists will be exactly where you left them or stowed them away.

Even your readers will still be around.**** Depending on how long you’ve been away, you may need to remind them of who you are and why they loved you once upon a time, but they’ll welcome you back, I promise! If anything, they’ll be even happier to see you after some time apart. And they’ll appreciate the freshness your time away has brought to your writing (and your attitude… you were kind of turning into a Debbie Downer, no offense).

So go ahead. Quit. I DARE YOU TO TRY. Because here's the thing: you’re a writer. This isn’t something you just decide you’re not going to do anymore. Even if you have immediate answers to the “What will you do instead?” question, eventually the answer will be, “There’s nothing I’d rather do.”

Give yourself some reasons to feel that way again.

 

Provisos:

*Or, more accurately, a kick in the pants.

**Actually, I hope they’re using the more grammatically-accurate, “I’m finished.” But sometimes, when you reach your limit, you don’t care.

***There are some exceptions to this, obviously. Some people—not many I know, personally—really do put food on the table and clothes on their backs (and their family members’ backs) with their fiction writing. But even then… like any other job, you’re always welcome to hand in your notice and find a new one.

****Well, most of them. None of us are immune to mortality. 

Guess what? I go through the "I can't write and publish another book" funks, too. Everything above is what I tell myself. And when I can't muster the energy to give myself the talk, I have amazing friends who will give it to me. So don't think I'm picking on you or giving out cheap advice. We've all been there. The best cure for me, actually, is to write another book. Here's the evidence: Lots of Books by ME! If you're in a funk, I hope you snap out of it soon. Share some of your favorite slump cures in the comments below!

Saturday
Jan102015

Weekend Reads #1

Good morning! It's a bright (albeit cold) Saturday here in good ole Southwest Missouri. Perfect for reading, right? Let's face it; every weekend is perfect for reading. I'm currently procrastinating on taking down my Christmas decorations. It's such a sad activity!!! I'm ready to have my house back, though. Sort of. I never really have my house under control, if I'm being 100% honest, which is something I try to be on here. But there will be fewer things cluttering my world once the sparkly Christmas decorations go back into the attic.

Anyway! I used to have this Saturday morning tradition on Facebook where I'd share some promotional posts from my talented author buddies, but with the new Facebook rules about not posting sales links and saying "Buy my book!" (or "Buy my frends' books!"), I don't want to chance being put in Facebook prison, if that is a real place. I've heard stories. Shivs, and all that. So, I decided to move my Weekend Reads feature to my blog, which can use the content, anyway.

Without further ado, here's what's going on in the worlds of some talented folks--in no particular order--who would love to earn you as a reader (or keep you, if you're already fans). Happy reading!

Jennifer Collin:
Time for a ! Bring Me Back, Evans Trilogy (#3) is available for pre-order NOW.

Rich Amooi:
Get this Laugh-Out-Loud romantic comedy and BE HAPPY!

Isabella Louise Anderson:
A story about moving on from a cheating ex & finding true love along the way! Get THE RIGHT DESIGN for $2.99 http://amzn.to/1zRA4ps ‪#‎romance‬

Glynis Astie:
Winter got you down? Warm up with French Toast and a glass of bubbly!

Bree Darcy:
Don't Mention the Rock Star is out next week!!! Preorder via

Dominique Butler:
http://dominiquebutl3r.blogspot.com/2015/01/tabloid-teacher.html?spref=fb

Ryleigh Andrews:
Bring Me You (Never Over You Book 1)
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QKKWB10
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QKKWB10
Amazon AUS: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00QKKWB10
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bring-me-you-ry…/1120855786…
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/bring-me-you

Mirika Mayo Cornelius
Most Wanted Felon
✬✬✬NEW RELEASE✬✬✬ FREE w/ Kindle Unlimited
http://amzn.to/1DFIO5i

Tracie Banister:
Comedy, romance, cute guys, and even cuter dogs. Grab your copy of TWIN PIQUES today!

Jackie Bouchard:
A love story for 's RESCUE ME, MAYBE is on -99c! 100+ 5-star rvws!

Christine Ardigo:
Heather traveled down a forbidden Road. TWICE. And she was Married.

Melissa Baldwin:
Things don't always go as planned! Find out what happens when Sienna Harris learns this the hard way!

Laura Amos:
Feelings are complicated. Exactly Where They'd Fall: 3 friends & 1 night that none of them remember the same way. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008OWGPI2

Anne Black:
Are you ready to play THE GAME? A new serial romance from debut author Anne Black http://bit.ly/thegamebook1 @anneblackbooks

Geralyn Corcillo:
Top 20 ! "Fun, funny & fast-paced!"


"Laugh-out-loud funny!" Like a good small-town series? Grab these on sale!

Whitney Dineen:
"Clever, quick read from an author with sharp wit and a great voice."-WD "Hilarious!" -Kirkus

Kathryn Biel:
Find out why it's a favorite book of 2014. I'M STILL HERE.

Heather Balog:
Exhausted mum of 4 is up for adventure in this hilarious mystery for in the UK

And don't forget me! (As if I'd let you.) You're already just a click away from all of my books. Have a great weekend, everyone!

And don't igured that's what happened. This wasn't the most professional way to get in touch with you, so don't worry about not seeing it until now. Thanks so much for the offer, though. I actually shelved that project (you know how inspiration is... easy come, easy go), but if it ever grabs my attention again, I'll definitely take you up on that offer.

I hope everything's going well for you. I miss my Emma Approved fix twice a week.
Sunday
Jan042015

And Now... I wait

Out of My League is officially out of my hands and in the [hopefully] loving possession of beta readers. Check out that hideous handwriting on the cover page. And don't I wish those were the only issues I had to worry about as I made the last tweaks before letting other people see my latest brainchild! I'd show you the ugliest marked-up page, but a) it's too embarrassing, and b) I'd hate to spoil any part of the story for you. Just trust me when I say it wasn't pretty.

But now it's as pretty as it's going to be for a while. Until I get the beta readers' insights. Then I'll have a bloody document again, and I'll start from the beginning, cleaning it up. Doesn't this sound like a ridiculous process? Who in their right mind would do this? The question contains your answer.

Actually, I love this part. Sure, it's exciting and fun when the concept is fresh, and the story is coming to me faster than I can type it (sometimes). And it's exhilerating to overcome an obstacle in the plot and bring everything together or figure out the perfect twist or write "The End." But I think I like this stage in the process the most. Why? Because at this point, it's real. I know myself well enough to know that if a story has made it to the beta reader stage, I'm not going to give up on it, even if they return the manuscript and say it's awful. If I've spent this much time on it, I'm going to work on it until it's right.

Here's hoping this project isn't the exception, eh?

 

In the meantime, if you're in the market for a new book to read and haven't check out my other ten, now's a great time to do so, don't you think? I think so. Here's a link.

Tuesday
Dec232014

Taking Stock: Observations on a Year

As mentioned before on here, I don't do New Year's resolutions. I do, however, like to look back at the end of a year and try to figure out what--if anything--I gained (other than girth) from another 365.25 days on this planet. Not on the list again this year: wealth, fame, and notoriety. But that's okay. Because... well... I probably wouldn't know what to do with all the time I'd save worrying about money. And as for the fame and notoriety... knowing me, it would be for something like an embarrassing video going viral, so... I'm okay with passing on that, too.

I have, however, picked up another year of experience, and with experience comes wisdom, no? Uh... let's just say it does. So here's what 2014 taught me (both the serious and the inane):

  1. Ending a series of books you've been writing for the better part of the last decade is a trying experience. And like raising children, it takes a village. Readers to care enough for you to finish; writer friends to encourage you; family members to hand you hankies and wipe your tears (or pretend they don't notice you're sniffling over your laptop); non-writer friends to remind you once in a while to get over yourself... But seeing such a long-term project to the end was also deeply rewarding. The one other project I've stuck with that long is child-rearing... and only because unconditional love is a powerful thing and gets you through those times when you feel like you just can't do it anymore.
  2. If I don't publish more than two books a year, the world keeps turning. Really. It does. One doesn't have to be ultra-prolific to remain relevant. Also, staying up at all hours of the night and getting up at the crack of dawn doesn't prove my devotion to a craft. It just gives me dark circles under my eyes. And results in crappy writing, because I'm sooooo tired. Burn-out stinks.
  3. I'm not an A-1 marketer or self-promoter, and you know what? That's okay. I don't know why that's been such a difficult thing to accept. I don't particularly care that I'm not a good housekeeper, and I don't beat myself up over many of my other shortcomings, so why do I feel like such a loser because I'm not good at hawking my writing? Maybe because... Without an agent or editor or marketing team, my books aren't going to be read by a much wider audience than I already have, if I don't figure out how to promote myself. But guess what? (see next item)
  4. I have a freakin' awesome audience already!!! And those of you who are part of that audience are amazing at a little thing called "word of mouth." You're also prolific reviewers. So... I'm okay with letting readers be my crack marketing team. Keep up the good work, y'all!
  5. "I'm here to bless, not impress." I saw this quote (unattributed) on a meme a few weeks ago, and I decided to make it my mantra, my motto, my mission statement. So far, it's been a great reminder when I fall into the trap of worrying I'm not good enough... at whatever. So... about a hundred times a day. Ha! Also, it sounds exactly like something Rev. Brice Northam would say, and... I'm going through withdrawals. (See item number 1.)
  6. Some things haven't changed. That's actually comforting. There's a lot of pressure out there to be constantly evolving. When it comes to personal growth, that's a good thing. But change just for the sake of change tends to signify an underlying discontent and difficulty with self-acceptance. There are a lot of things I'd change about myself, if I could (my short temper, my selfishness, and my pessimism, to name a few), but regretting those things gets me nowhere. Instead, it's time to focus on what I like about myself. Not to the point of conceit, but just enough to provide some psychological relief. We all deserve that from ourselves, don't you think?
  7. My kids are funny. My husband is funny. My family is fun to be around. Just as fun as imaginary people, I'd dare say. I spent more time with them this year, and I don't regret a single minute of "lost productivity." I think I'm going to try to spend even more time with them in the coming year.
  8. Netflix streaming and smart TVs are both the best and worst inventions ever. I used to be one of those [smug, annoying] people who would say things like, "If it were up to me, we wouldn't need a TV in our house; I rarely watch it." Ha. Ha. Ha. I believe I must recant every instance of ever saying that after this past year. 2014 was The Year of the Veg. Or The Year of the Butt Indentation on My Sofa. Good grief. I think I've more than made up for all those years my TV didn't get enough love from me. I guess I needed to decompress or lose a few IQ points. Or both. Mission: accomplished.

And for the year ahead, at the risk of sounding like I'm making something as formal as a resolution, I will say this: whatever goals I set, whatever hopes and dreams I have for the future, whatever personal growth I hope to attain, I'm giving myself permission to falter in my pursuits. I'm giving myself permission to be perfectly imperfect. I'm giving myself permission to have bad days. But I'm also demanding that I recover more quickly from disappointment and setbacks than I have in the past. No wallowing allowed. Because if I've learned nothing else in the past year (heck, 30-something-ish years), it's that wallowing begets nothing but more misery in which to wallow.

So tell me. What's the most important thing 2014 taught you, and what do you hope to learn from 2015?

P.S. A concrete goal of mine going forward is to connect with you more right here on this blog to keep you up-to-date on my writing and let you know what I've been reading and observing. They may not be 1,000-word posts, but they'll be something. So, please subscribe to this blog so you never miss a post. You can do so via RSS or email. Either way, I'd appreciate your support. Happy New Year!

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