On Seeing Color

In one of the writing communities I frequent today, a writer asked if there were any active groups for people of color. Folks immediately jumped on her, telling her it was a bad idea to segregate herself (one even reminding her that we've come so far from segregation, why continue it?).

I had to laugh. Some people are nuts.

Look, if you honestly believe that you go through life without seeing race, I've got an island in the Caribbean I'd like to sell for you at a great price. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging our cultural differences. There is nothing wrong with being different. I repeat. There is nothing wrong with being different.

Somewhere along the line, we confused acknowledging and celebrating racial / cultural differences with being reaping the benefits of privilege. And sweet baby Cupid, most folks don't even know what privilege is! In my opinion, it's far easier to say "Let's not talk about race" instead of saying "Let's talk about privilege and how we can change this system because yes it still exists just ask any minority on the street." Why wash your dirty laundry when you can just hide it under the bed?

One could hypothesize that the reason kids today struggle with rejection among peers is that we currently live in a society that touts political correctness to the point of homogeneity. So what happens if you don't fit in? It's not okay, right? Cue depression. Bullying. All of that nasty stuff.

I'm African American. I'm a woman. I'm able-bodied. I'm heterosexual. I'm middle-class. I'm college educated. All of these life experiences color (no pun intended) how I write. There's nothing wrong with that, either. If I was just like Tom, Dick, and Sally...well, my writing would be sad indeed.

There were quite a number of people who came to the original poster's defense, which I'm glad to see. But it still bothers me that she needed defending. I will continue to point out my cultural difference and celebrate my background because it is who I am. And I encourage all of you to do the same. 

*tosses glitter in the air* 

Now back to your regular programming.

May Updates

Hi there! I figured it was definitely time to update my fellow fans and authors on what I've been up to these past five months. :)

On New Year's Eve, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and then proceeded to be kicked into the deep end of the parenting pool. It's been a crazy wonderful experience and my husband and I are completely in love with our daughter. That being said, for the first three months I had no time to properly shower let alone write and so I was forced to take a break from writing.

In late March I returned back to work and a some what normal schedule. I completed the mystery novella I was working on before giving birth and began the first draft of the sequel to The Two Worlds. I also had to rework my production schedule for the rest of 2015.

Late last year I mentioned how I was fatigued of Kay and crew while writing The Two Worlds. Turns out, being on maternity leave was just what the doctor ordered! Now that I'm back at work, I find that I can't wait to tell more of their story. I've decided to keep them on my production schedule and finish up their tale this year. Here's what the rest of the year will look like:

July: The Two Worlds (revised and re-released)
July: The Two Worlds: On the Run 
August: The Two Worlds  #3
September: The Two Worlds #4
October: The Two Worlds #5

It's a lot of writing, but I'm determined to wrap up this series by the end of the year. And I think it will be a fun challenge.

Wish me luck and stay tuned for updates on my progress!

Writing the Dreaded Second Draft

There she was. A new story. A bare bones first draft of 47,000 words staring at me. I had a great time writing her. I flew through the story in thirty days last year and added a few more lines over the past week.
But now it was time to face the music.

The dreaded second draft.

I still haven't mastered revising a first draft. The Two Worlds was a nightmare because it was written over a long period of time and I learned so much while writing it. I used different techniques of writing, wrote different parts at various points in my life (and that always influences my writing) and wasn't organized at all. No outline, no clear vision, nada. Just a girl and her notepad.

This time around, I wrote with a clear focus. NaNoWriMo allowed me a clear deadline and I had an outline to work off of. Being organized allowed me to have fun with writing instead of stopping every few chapters to figure out my next move. I'm definitely NOT a pantser!

But I still have so much to learn about the writing process. And I find myself hesitant on how to approach this latest WIP.  I'm going to wait a few days and try to find a good book that touches on the subject (suggestions welcome!). Have you ever struggled with revising a raw draft?

What on Earth Happened to The Two Worlds Sequel?

Character fatigue. Plain and simple. I began writing The Two Worlds seven years ago, when my brother was eleven years old and totally interested in the wizarding world. The Harry Potter series was super popular and I wanted to write a book for him--so I did. Over the course of the seven years, I would email chapters to him and he loved it. The Two Worlds was definitely a labor of love and I used it as an entry way into the world of indie publishing and marketing.

It was on my schedule for three more sequels but I've fallen out of love with the characters. I still care about them, but not enough to write their stories right now. I found myself wanting something fresh after seven years of the same tale. It was why writing my current paranormal mystery was so fun.

That being said, when I write my next business plan I'm strongly considering leaving The Two Worlds series out of the production schedule. I might come back to it in 2016 as I have big plans for Kay and friends, but right now I want to focus on different things and I'm really excited to start a new journey with a new character. Stay tuned for more updates on my new book!

2014: Year in Review

My last post was quite awhile ago and I was writing about needing a business plan. I was right on target for following that business plan when BAM! things changed. You know the saying: Life happens while you're busy making plans.

In March, I was pulled in to be a project manager on an important proposal at my day job. That lasted for an entire month, and just when I was able to breathe again, BAM! I found out I was pregnant. That sent my husband and me into a tailspin and by the time I had wrapped my head around creating a new human being, I was dragged into another project as project manager and dealing with HORRIBLE first trimester symptoms.

The intensity of the first trimester plus the project left me with little room for having any kind of personal or writing life. And when the work project wrapped up mid second trimester, I was placed on bed rest for a pregnancy induced herniated disc. Once I came back from that, I finished up my role with the current project and that brings us up to mid August.

The rest of August, September and October where spent taking a breather. I was tired--mentally and physically. Not to mention, I had neglected my personal life and hadn't began doing anything baby related. Who knew being pregnant was such hard work? I took a much needed break to refocus. And I decided late October to do NaNoWriMo to get my creative juices flowing again.

The problem? November 1st came and went and I wasn't motivated to start the sequel to The Two Worlds. I actually felt bad about it and began to panic--what if I was losing my writing mojo? What was wrong with me? I scoured my writing vault (where all unfinished works live) and found a paranormal mystery I had written last year for NaNoWriMo and never touched again. So I brushed off the dust, added a few more thousand words and now I have a first draft of a story that I'm really excited about.

For the rest of the year, I will be finishing up prepping for the new kid and wrapping up things at the day job. I usually write a plan for the upcoming year, but since I have no idea what life is going to be like with a baby, I'm forcing myself to take it bit by bit until we get into a routine. Ideally, I would like to have a second draft of the paranormal mystery done by April 2015. And I'm currently working on that right now.

All in all, life happened. Lots of surprises, good and not so good, and lots of adjusting my schedule and my mentality. The most important lesson I learned in 2014 is that you can only take things day by day and you have to be flexible--especially as an indie author. I have to admit: I can't wait to see what 2015 brings! 

On Why I Need a Business Plan

Earlier this year, I decided that I didn’t want to do a business plan. And for the first time in years, I didn’t. I made a simple to-do list (write, edit, edit, release, rinse and repeat) and that was that. I figured that was all I needed to focus on. Easy peasy, right? 

Yeah, uh...I was wrong. J

The thing is (and I’ve always known this), being an indie author is the same as owning a small business. Writing is only half the battle. The other half involves marketing, financing, and of course publishing. You’re the CEO, the low pez employee, and the intern all in the same day. So it helps to have a plan of action to reflect back on throughout the year.

As I did my own year reflection, I saw how much money, blood and sweat I put into publishing The Two Worlds, learning about the industry, adding publishers, freelance graphic designers and editors to my contacts, establishing an email distro list, etc.

And I realized I have a lot more to do this year than just write and release. Oh, sure, that’s the foundation of my business. But for it to be successful, there are a lot more pieces of the puzzle involved.

So! What I’m trying to tell you is this: make a business plan. It can be as simple or as complex as 
you’d like. And if you need help, check out these great posts for more information:

Ok, your turn: Do you have a business plan? Why or why not? If so, what spurred you to make one? 

Updates and Goals- Feb. 2014

I'm totally excited to be 18,500 words in on my new book Waking the Moon, which tells the story of a young woman who discovers that she is the mate of a werewolf and her journey to acceptance. It's my first attempt attempt at paranormal romance, squee!! This is one of those books that I'm having more fun reading than writing. I keep going back to re-read scenes and then getting frustrated when I can't finish the book! I know it's crazy, but no one ever said being an author was for the sane. ;)

The downside, though, is that I'm now in the dreaded middle. I wonder how many books I'll have to write before the middle stops scaring me as much as it currently does?

Another thing I'm dealing with is writer's guilt. I leave the house at 9 a.m. and then am back at home at 7:30 p.m. on non-gym days and 8:30 on gym days (which is 4 out of 5 days of the week). The crock pot has saved my butt when it comes to dinner and the hungry man that is my husband (because let's face it, he can't cook), but I feel bad leaving him to deal with our ornery puppy when he's exhausted from work. We want to have kids sooner rather than later, and I can't help but think "Wow, how am I going to do this with a little person clinging to my boob?!".

Because writing is such a solitary sport, sometimes your forget that there are other authors out there who are dealing with the same thing. Thank God for the internet!

In other news, I've already sold a few copies of The Two Worlds and am now just looking for reviews. I updated my goals at the beginning of the month and will start posting them on this blog so readers can help keep me accountable. Here we go:

February 2014 Goals
-Contact local bookstores to schedule readings or signings
-Finish Waking the Moon. My current word count goal is 30,000 (it's a novella).
-Start writing The Two Worlds 2!

I'm also trying to get into a habit of posting on this blog more. I don't write as much because I get nervous and think, "What if no one wants to hear what I have to say?" But that's ridiculous. If you've made it this far, you probably don't mind reading my babble, right? Right!