We have a launch date...

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

I'm happy to announce that In Her Dreams will debut on March 22, 2018! Things are moving forward!

If you haven't subscribed yet, I am prepping a FREE gift to send to everyone on my list on launch day (and anyone who signs up after). It's a short story called First Dreams that takes place several years before In Her Dreams begins.  So sign up here!

Also...the sequel Trapped in Her Dreams is being sent off to my awesome editor tomorrow!! Yay! And my cover artist is working on a fantastic cover as we speak so, Trapped in Her Dreams will have a launch date sometime in late April.  And stay tuned for a cover reveal.

New Years Resolutions

It's January 1st and I've already reached my first goal of the year! Just moments ago I typed the last words to the sequel of In Her Dreams.

Wahoo!! 

If my baby wasn't currently sleeping I would probably dance and shout. Lucky for you, I'm writing a blog post instead. 

You're probably thinking, "how can I be excited about a sequel when I haven't even read the first one?" Well...my plan is to get the second one to my editor and on a schedule shortly so that right when you've finished reading In Her Dreams...bam! the sequel Trapped in her Dreams will be uploaded and published to Amazon, ready for you to click and continue the story.

Fingers crossed that Trapped In Her Dreams will be up a month after In Her Dreams goes live.  I'll keep you posted though.

Since it is January 1st and traditionally a great day to set new goals, I wanted to share a few of my writing/publishing goals, with the hope that it will help me stick to it.  So here goes...

*blowing on fingers ala Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail*

1.  Finish and publish the trilogy of In Her Dreams in 2018 (that's right! this year you can read the entire series)

2. Plot out and start a new series getting one... or maybe two of them published this year.

Whew! Four or Five books in one year? Can I do it? (singing the theme song to Bob the Builder in my head--can you tell I have young boys?) I hope I can!!

My first Kindle

I got a Kindle for my birthday a few weeks ago. I know, I know...get with the times Joanna, right? I really always preferred the feel of a book, but for a lot of reasons I decided it was time.  Anyway, as a reward for surviving November with crazy word counts and major editing, I decided to binge the published books of my awesome critique group.

Julia Keanini has written and published many books over the past few years. She's one of my go-to people when I have questions about the publishing world. I respect and value her advice, and though we've never actually met in person, we speak regularly over social media and Skype.

 I had read several of her Skinniness is Next to Goddessness series (which are really good!), but she has another series: Second Chance Fairy Tales, that starts with a Christmas-time book entitled Merrily Ever After. Perfect for this time of year.  So I downloaded it on my brand new Kindle and read it in only a few days. It was a quick and fun read! It's clean and sweet and romantic **sigh**. I immediately downloaded the next one (Snow and the Seven Teenagers) and finished it a couple of days ago. She recently published a third one: A Royal (Fake) Engagement, that I will probably start today...and then be sad that I read them all so quickly. 

Go check them out!

Fortunately Julia isn't the only published member of my awesome critique group...so on to the next!

Frankly my dear...

I'm not a fan of profanity. In my own speech I prefer the tamer, kid-friendly words such as: oh man! dang it! oh my goodness! what the heck? (A dear childhood friend of mine says oh mylanta! I've always loved that one.) Even before I had kids, these were my go to words. And now, around my kids, I even shy away from some of those.

I've always had the opinion that someone who uses a lot of profanity in their speech lacks the vocabulary to express themselves otherwise. And writers who need excessive f-bombs, and OMG's (the actual words/phrases, not the substitutes in my examples) also either don't have the vocabulary to convey emotion, or aren't being creative enough to find ways around the words. 

On the flip side, I have also read books and seen movies that excessively use the tame words in place of profanity.  While it's great that the writer doesn't use swear words, it can be just as distracting to the reader or viewer.

That being said, some very good books and movies use profanity in context. And they use it well. Maybe the character uses profanity, or the situation (such as the war front) breeds it. I'm not saying that I agree with it or that they get a pass, but a police-chasing-criminals scene or a bombs-exploding-battle scene might not feel as authentic with a bunch of dang it's! and what the heck's! being thrown around. And there is always the choice of whether or not to read/watch it.

In my own writing I refuse to break the (3rd?) commandment. And I refuse to use the harsher words.  It's a fact of life that some people use profanity, and therefore some characters do too. Sometimes I've used a simple "he swore" to show this in writing. But how effective was the line in Gone with the Wind when Rhett Butler says, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," because the word had never been used until that point? In any film for that matter!

My books are mostly profanity-free. And while I've been undergoing my final edit (yay!) of In Her Dreams, out of curiosity I searched for the two words my characters have used. So as a disclaimer, in the entire 67,000 words that make up the novel, there are exactly 3 damn(it)s and exactly 2 hells. 

And one of the characters does apologize. (insert winking emoticon)

Short Stories

In the previous post, I talked about writer's block. One of the ways I combat that is by writing short stories, usually based on a prompt. Writing short stories allows me to try new things that I may not dare take on in a novel-length story. It also helps me get back to my WIP (work in progress) with renewed energy. Sort of like taking a break. 

And while I intend to submit some of them to magazines, I want my readers to enjoy them too. So stay tuned! I may post them here in the blog, but I'll put them all under the Extras tab on the homepage under Short Stories.

Writer's Block and Achievable Goals

Every writer experiences writer's block. In the past mine have lasted several months to several years. I blame kids, pregnancies, and other life stuff for those big chunks of time. To stave off writers block this year (2017) and to finally achieve my big goal of being published, I made tiny writing goals each month.

In the beginning (January-March), my goal was to write 1000 words a week. Easy right? 200 words a day M-F?  It wasn't so easy. With three kids under 5, it was near impossible some weeks.

But I kept making goals. Sometimes I hit the mark, sometimes I didn't.  But by trying again and again, week after week, month after month, I finally got to the point where writing 1000 words in a day wasn't such a daunting task.

Then, in the month of October I wrote 25k words in preparation for the big 50k November goal.  25,000 words! That was a big accomplishment and I hit the ground running as November began.  But here we are toward the end of the month and I've only written just over 20k.

Big editing deadlines, plus my birthday, a sick baby, and now the coming holiday has pumped the brakes on my writing.

But 20,000 words...that's still pretty good and the month isn't over. I can probably beat my word count from last month even. I should take that as a major win!

Okay, so if you're reading this you might not be a writer, but I have a point. Had I attempted this huge goal in January with everything that happened and my other responsibilities, by the 21st of the month, I assure you my word count would have been a big fat zero. But by making small goals and building throughout the year...I have quite a few more than zero words written.

Plus, I have a finished novel that is halfway through the editing process that will be ready for publication in a couple of months.

Keep Swimming

I had a freak out moment this week. The kind that derails everything when everything seems to be going so well. The first round of edits for my debut novel were going beautifully, I was prepping for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month: the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel), and I was furiously writing the first draft of the second book in my series. 

I was on my way to fulfilling my dream of becoming an author. 

On Halloween, the day before Nanowrimo starts, I had a flash concern about one of my subplots in the second book in my series. I didn't want to offend in a world that gets so offended, so I posted the question to my writing group. One person said to go for it, they'd help me make sure the storyline wouldn't be taken the wrong way. Another person advised that I not do it, that no matter how delicately or beautifully I might write this specific storyline, it was a very real possibility that I could make a lot of enemies when my career as a writer was still in its infancy. 

I wanted to take the first person's advice so I could win it at Nanowrimo, (that was the next section to be written in the novel) but I didn't want to risk the possibility of ruining everything by doing it. 

That same night, I received an email from my editor with "big picture" suggestions about my first book, the book I thought had been edited and perfected and polished wonderfully by both her and I. And now I could see the glaring flaws in the plot, certain characters, and other things that makes a novel good. 

So for a moment I wallowed. On November 1st, I began to write the possibly offensive storyline in order to have high word-counts for that first day, but my heart wasn't in it as I told myself the storyline would probably be scrapped when I eventually found another one. And I fretted over how to fix my broken first book that had deadlines to be met. 

For a moment I wondered if I should even keep writing. If I was even good enough. But it only lasted a moment, because writing makes me happier. It makes me a better mom and wife when I make the time to do it.

I had to keep going. As Dory would say, I had to just "keep swimming."

So I contacted my beta readers aka, mom, dad, one of my brothers, and my sister. All who had read an unedited version of my novel.  We got together and hashed out all of the problems my editor had pointed out. And with their help, I figured out how to fix them.  As I was getting ready to leave, I mentioned the possibly offensive subplot in the next book and that I couldn't think of a better one.  In an instant they came up with an alternate idea. A story that I could write without the risk, but would still tell the whole story the way I wanted to. A storyline I could write proudly.

Now I've got my work cutout for me, word counts to catch up on, and more edits than I'd originally planned with deadlines that feel even sooner because of it.  But it felt good the day after that meeting, to sit down and begin that new subplot knowing that other than the many edits it would require, the story of Isabelle on a ship wouldn't get cut.

Falling leaves and Good books

It's fitting that the date of my first official blog post would fall in my favorite month of the year: October. And nope, I'm not an October baby. And nope again, none of my children (including the hubby) are October babies either. There is something warm and fuzzy about pumpkins and falling leaves even though the weather is cold and chilly, but that means it's hot soup and hot chocolate season (although I prefer a yummy caramel steamer from Starbucks or Kneaders). 

But enough about the weather. Great ice breaker though, am I right? *wink, wink*

Another thing I love about the fall, is curling up with a cozy blanket and a good book. I thought it would be appropriate in my first post to share two of my favorite books. Both of which are perfect reads on a chilly, gloomy, fall day.

The first is Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.  It's a classic, you might've read it for school, but it's one I have read many, many times.  Though they never end up together **spoiler alert** I am in love with Cathy and Heathcliff's love story.  They are horrible to the other characters, they are horrible to each other, but they love each other despite it all. Their love may be one of their only redeeming qualities. 

The second is The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. This one is newer, but it's also a classic to me. A circus, only open at night, shows up with its black-and-white striped tents in the middle of the night without warning. And behind the scenes, two young magicians, pitted against each other by their instructors, fall in love against the odds. The language is palatable, the words on the pages flow beautifully, and the narrative is poetic. 

I am suddenly itching to read them both again!