Cure for the Winter Blues

Are you f-f-freezing yet? There are snow flurries in the air all the way down to the snowflake1-filteredFlorida Panhandle today!! We’re almost through January, but there’s more cold weather in store. Thinking we can’t be the only ones suffering from the Winter Blues, we cooked up some ideas to keep you warm and entertained with these cozy indoor activities.

1. Read- being snowed in is the perfect excuse to make a dent in your ‘To Read’ pile! Snuggle under a blanket and get caught up in your favorite story. Join us at Goodreads or set up an account if you aren’t a member already. They are great at recognizing your tastes based on your fav books and can recommend lots of wonderful new-to-you authors.

fireplace-tea-books2. Cozy up by a fire- Whether you have a gas or wood fireplace, there’s something soothing about a crackling fire! Bring your hot chocolate with you. And a blanket.

3. Make winter-themed crafts- Cut out paper snowflake garlands, recycle old greeting fireplacecard covers into bookmarks, create winter centerpieces using nature like birch bark, pine cones, and evergreen branches, knit warm garments like scarves, sweaters, mittens and hats. If you’re NOT as crafty as that, try hanging out at Pinterest and finding some easy to do crafts or just make a board of pics you love! 

4. Contact a friend- this a great time to reconnect with someone you’ve been missing. Write a letter, email, Skype or phone… the chance to talk will sweep away the weather blues 🙂 We spent an hour on the phone today and feel the happier for it!!

5. Shop- Okay… technically you aren’t in your house, but you’re are still indoors, and finding all kinds of sales! What a great way to get moving and around people than to visit the local mall and check out some new styles.

***How are you fighting the Winter Blues this week? And have you found any great books we should be reading as we huddle closer to the fire??

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TAKE 28 …

Okay. I’ve been lost in the black hole of revisions. And it’s been a weird process this novel because I’ve been working on it, in some way or shape or form, for the past three years. Honest to God, give me the screenplay to GRAVITY, I’ll stick in my characters, and I could tell you what they’d do.

So … I was feeling stressed and insecure and concerned and worried and fill-in-the-blank … because I thought, “Maybe this sucks. What do I do if this totally and completely blows?” After three years of rewrites, start-overs, conceptual changes and more, I had a panic attack last week.

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Total and complete panic. So much so that I started dreaming up sub-plots and imagining other possibilities (getting kidnapped by Somali pirates, joining a mob, going back in time) … I was paralyzed at the screen because I don’t have a big story with big characters with big events. WHERE’S THE FREAKING SPACE SHIP WHEN YOU NEED IT?

So I made a decision the other day: I will love my characters.

That’s it. I will love them and admire them and write them the story they deserve, the story I began and intend to finish. This week, actually, since it’s due next.  So … I will love my characters and leave the spaceships to someone else (for today, anyway).

Moving Forward in 2014

projectpicFor me, the year 2013 was groundbreaking. My debut novel came out in June (digital in May), and I could officially call myself an author. Now that the new year has begun, I continue my journey in the publishing world. The sequel to MY SISTER’S REAPER comes out this spring. It’s scheduled for May, but you never know what hiccups might arise; the print version release of MY SISTER’S REAPER was pushed back three weeks last year, so I’ve come to expect bumps in the road. But revisions for the sequel (name to be announced at a later date) are coming along nicely, so I don’t foresee any delays. Fingers crossed. I’m also drafting another book for the series, but it’s not contracted yet. So again, fingers crossed. Other than that, I wrote a dark piece for an anthology that comes out this fall. Oh, and there’s a super secret project I’m working on that’s sort of half pitched. It’s a collaborative project, but it’s also not contracted. Let’s call it a “we’ll see” project. So by my count, that calls for four accounts of crossing fingers. 2014 is the finger cramping year for me.

New Year, New Me?

I must admit the new year has been off to a bit of a slow start. Compared to last year, when I was scheduling the release date of Shattered Illusions, applying for schools and kicking off the publicity campaign for the book, this year has been silent. Though I’ve had plenty to look forward to, January has been kind of a slump for me. I’m in the ‘now what’ phase again, which is never a good place for me to be. I want 2014 to be an epic year. I know that  I should judge the entire year solely on a couple of lazy, particularly lousy weeks at the beginning of it all. Things can turn around and change in a heart beat. And yet, yesterday, when I was thinking about what I could possibly write about this month that would be worth sharing, I couldn’t think of anything to say. So, I figured I would leave it alone until something would come to me. And then, I went to get a haircut…

Now, I am not the type of person who makes spur of the moment, spontaneous decisions. I like change, but I’m usually too much of a chicken to try anything too drastic, such as, say…cutting all of my hair off. But yesterday, sitting in that chair, feeling the monotony of another week on my shoulders, thinking about how much I’d love to do something different, something to change the way I feel about myself, I gave the barber the creative license to cut my hair. All of it. Gone. My long, thick locks of impossible curly hair, on the floor all around me. New year, new me. Usually, when I get haircuts, even a half inch, I flinch the entire time. I tend to buy into the ‘long hair is beautiful’ and ‘short hair is blah’ thing. When I was fourteen, my parents convinced me to get a bob. The experience was so traumatic that I vowed never to cut my hair so short again. Until last night. There was something so exhilarating about the idea of reinventing myself, without doing anything too drastic or dangerous. New year, new me. I can be anyone I choose.But, what I’ve come to realize based on this experience (among many other random things that have happened to me since 2014 came around) is that being anyone that I want to be, in my eyes, means being the best version of myself. I’m not looking to become anyone else, because the life I lead and the person I am is who I am meant to be. But, that doesn’t mean that I cannot become the best version of myself. So, here I am, Leigh 2.0, with a short, curly bob, ready to conquer whatever 2014 throws in my path. Here we go…!

 

Cheers!

Totally Free versus Tunnel Vision

Neto Lexan and the Impox Secret was my first book love that I wrote in the early 2000’s. I loved it, nurtured it, stayed up late with it, wrote and rewrote it countless times. I worked on that baby for eight years. Yes, there were times I walked away from it only to feel it pulling at my heartstrings and beckoning me to come back. I was under its spell. Blinded by love, I put all my energy into making it work. Looking back I have to laugh. If it could have gotten a restraining order against me it would have. I spent so much time fussing over it that I found myself losing sight of why I started writing in the first place. There were times I had reworked it so many times that I didn’t even recognize it.
Writing Prodigal (The Lost Imperials Series #2) changed the way I write. I was flooded with ideas for different books that didn’t want to forget. I started writing multiple books at once. I was no longer fully consumed with my current WIP. I found balance.
This month’s topic is “What’s New.” What’s new with me is the way I write and it has been the most liberating thing for me. I currently have five projects going right now and I feel less pressure, than I did with a singular project. I’m working on a YA/sci-fi novel, two YA/dystopian novels, a steampunk novel, and a semi-fact based book that’s been dear to my heart. What I’ve learned is that if something isn’t going to work out, it’s ok. Get the outline done, save it, and move on. Maybe it will work in a few month or years, maybe it will never work. But do not, under any circumstances, obsess for eight years. Be prolific and get it out so you can free yourself.

New Year A New Series

Happy New Year . I’m sorry for the late post. So what’s happening in my corner of the world? I am continuing with the Runes series and plan to start another YA paranormal series by the middle of the year.

Seeress (book 3) is slated to be released in April. We’ll see.

The next Guardian Legacy series book should be on my editor’s e-mail by next month. Writing it has been tough because everything is upside down in my MC’s world. You know how every villain has plausible reasons for their villainous acts? I have to do that with the evil faction in the series and quite frankly, I am enjoying their view of the Guardians.

Once again, sorry for the late post.

Reinventing Myself—it’s scarier than it sounds

Bell_Thief_cover-12-16There’s a great Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel, Breathing Room, in which the heroine is a self-help guru whose fiancée embezzles all her money, and leaves her a laughing stock with her career in ruins.  She runs off to a romantic villa in Italy, gets involved with a fabulously handsome actor who always plays villains, and it’s a really fun book.

But the line that has always stuck with me is when she meets the actor’s agent, and he says: “If you were my client, I’d tell you to reinvent yourself.”

The heroine does just that, and ends up even more rich and famous than before.  (Not to mention marrying the handsome actor.)  But that line lingered in my mind…even before my own career hit the rocks.

the last chapter of my old career, as a well-published but mid-list author, the recession had hit the bookstores hard.  Borders died, and Barnes & Noble was in critical condition.  But when the recession struck, both of the only two large bookstore chains in the country responded by stocking only books they knew would sell in large numbers—the bestsellers and popular series—which left mid-list authors with very few sales for anything that came out in those years.

My first Knight & Rogue book, released before the recession, sold about as well as my other books—solidly mid-list.  But then the recession hit, and the big chains ordered only a handful of book 2, and an even smaller handful of book 3.  And with a bad sales record for books 2 and 3, there’s not a major publisher in the world who would put out books 4 through 6.

The agent I talked to after my old agent retired (great plot complication, if this was fiction and not my life) advised me to change my name, write something completely different, and start over from scratch.  And I suppose that’s one way to reinvent yourself.

(Fleeing to a romantic villa in Italy was out of the question, for a number of reasons, not least that I’ve never been as rich as the heroine of Breathing Room.)

But three out of four of my fan emails were from people asking for more Knight & Rogue books, I’d planned the series from the start for a six book story arc…and damn it, I wanted to write them.

So I decided to reinvent myself in a different way, by going mostly-indie.  I say mostly, because instead of bringing the book out entirely on my own I contacted a local micro-publisher, Courtney Literary.  Deb Courtney will handle all the technical aspects, and offered amazingly good terms…and the fourth Knight & Rogue book, Thief’s War, is coming out at the end of February.

Deb is giving me a high enough percentage that I can sell far fewer books than I did through HarperCollins and survive.  If I sell half as many books, I’ll thrive.  And if I sold almost as many books as I did going through a major publisher, I’d be doing great.  (I should mention that my idea of great is fairly modest.)  But I have no clue how many books I’ll sell.  None, zip, zero, nada.  There’s no way even to guess—so I’m going to find out the hard way, by doing it.

We’re all the hero of our own story, so I’ll shamelessly declare myself the heroine.  Here I am, past the dark moment, heading straight for the climax.  And I have no idea whether my story will have a happy ending, or turn into one of those dreary, pointless tragedies where the heroine has to go out and get a day job again.  (No handsome actors in sight.  Rats.)   This being real life, where climaxes don’t usually happen within a few chapters, I won’t even get a hint about how Thief’s War is selling until the beginning of August.

Reinventing yourself sounds so uplifting.  Downright inspiring.  But watching my savings drain away, I’ve learned that reinventing yourself is hard and scary—and I’ve now got a lot more respect for heroes, who launch themselves into the climax never knowing whether they’re going to win or lose.  (And maybe basing major financial decisions on novels isn’t the smartest thing to do, either.)  But I’m doing it…and in August, I’ll let you know how it looks like coming out.