#JuneGoals : My June author goals and the larger picture.

I’m living a new normal. I honor that with my determination.

My vision for my life has changed over the years, but probably none more than this year. With every new challenge I face,  I reconcile that my time is not my own. Every minute is borrowed from something ( someone) precious to me. I know that and it forces efficiency from my time. I’ve accomplished a lot on a personal front this year. I’m growing as an author/writer on a professional front. There is so much for which I still hope.

No matter what alters my personal life, I can’t forget that I am an author.  My new life is more time consuming and burst at the seams with joy, but there is still much to do as I build my career/dream. I have to work hard, and smart or else all the things I’ve been working toward thus far will be in vain.

I’m building.  My work as an author is only one piece of the puzzle. The ultimate goal is to use it as a cornerstone toward financial security. I owe it to my shifter mate for all he’s done for me and to my littles for all they give me. It is the least I can do.

To work smarter, I must work within my limits and keep my eyes peeled for the right opportunity to push further. I’ve altered my June author goals to reflect this belief. I have taken some of my own advice in the  editing of my goals as I get back to “normal”.  I’m giving myself the summer to wobble, but only the summer.

In my wobbling, there are still some things I have to accomplish. I want to publish two more full length novels before the year is out. Not to mention,  at least two shorts for fun. I still have a ton to learn from a marketing stand point, and my ultimate goal is to hit the best seller mark.  I’m a dreamer at heart. Keeping this running tab of my years goals is helping me to remain present in my pursuits. It is not an easy task for me.

Piece by piece, I build my creative life and I’m thrilled watching it transform.

Having this monthly break-down of goals helps me to manage what I want in a realistic way. So here are my author goal milestones for June. Every task completed strengthens the foundation of my dream and I can’t lose focus now.

June Author Goal List

Title Brainstorming for Second Release

25,000 words on second release

Evaluation of Second Release date

Choose a new editor

Third round of marketing for The Alpha’s Dream

New responsibilities require adjustment. If I find that I can do more than my projected word count then I will. It is important that I move the bar for myself as often as possible. Pushing the limits of what I know I am capable of is only going to make me stronger, better at channeling my abilities. It doesn’t matter that I am figuring it out as I go. It only matters that I am willing to wobble and still pursue my vision.

What about you? What are your June steps toward your years goals? Comment below with your summer plans.

Joy.

#NowThereAreThree: Reflections on the birth of my third child and writing.

I was wrong. Birthing books is not like birthing babies.

Not completely.

On the sixteenth of May, I gave birth to my third child. I am both completely in awe and totally exhausted. My heart is filled with love and calm satisfaction. Finally…here.

My journey to motherhood was as tumultuous as my journey to being an author. My third live birth is one of six pregnancies I’ve had in my life. For those of you who don’t know, there is nothing as unforgiving as a womb that eats your children. There is nothing to fill the void, and it doesn’t matter how far between they come.

I will never have a pregnancy where I am not worried about loss. Ever.

With this in mind, each live birth steals my breath. It erases years of doubt, shame, and hopelessness. It isn’t real until my little ones  are laying on my chest, their little hearts beating against mine.  My first darling, was born healthy despite the surgery I had halfway through my pregnancy.  My second darling, was full of gestational diabetes worry. The last one, when my newest darling was born, was the smoothest pregnancy I’ve ever experience. Healthy, happy, and whole babies came here on a wing and a prayer and much, much grace.

When I stare down into the newest face, I am full of prayers of thankfulness. It is still surreal that my body which for years ignored my pleas for children could somehow bring them forth now. I do not take this for granted.

I have long advocated for a woman’s right to choose motherhood, in part because it has always felt like my body didn’t have to acknowledge my choice. Now, when they are in my arms and I see them thriving and I am humbled. My cup runneth over.

I count their fingers and toes. I say prayers over their crowns.  I listen for the soft hum of their breath and watch for the steady rhythm of their rapidly beating hearts. They are here and I was the conduit that brought them here.

Hallelujah. Amen.

To have them here is the manifestation of many prayers having come along on the tail end of lost faith.

When I think of the process of publishing the Alpha’s Dream, I have similar feelings. There were many false starts. There were several failed attempts and The Alpha’s Dream was published at a time when I was at the end of my rope. It has not been without flaws. There are still some issues I will have to address in the second edition, but I am thankful. I am sure this is what I want and what is destined for my life.

It is here and I was the conduit that brought it here.

My days are stretched thinner than ever before, but I love it. I am devoted to being a #MamaAuthor. I will thin myself out to fill these  roles and that of being a wife, because of the value they add to my being. I am full of joy ya’ll. I am full of gratitude. I don’t take one second of this as common or replaceable.

My writing will take a back seat for a few weeks, but I am still creating. I can’t wait to bring you guys a new release, but in this moment I have a new life to celebrate.

To all the mamaauthors out there, to all the creators who turn emptiness into life – cheers. We are the true makers of this world.

Joy.

#JuneReset: 4 ways to reset and accomplish your years goals

June presents the perfect time to reassess those New Years Resolutions and reevaluate any remaining goals.

At least, that has always been my philosophy. We’re six months into 2017 and already I’ve had some major changes to occur in my life. For one, my newest little was born last month. Needless to say life with three littles ages three and under is nothing to sneeze at. It’s the happiest madness I’ve ever had in my life.

That being said, I am a still an author on a mission. I’ve taken out my complete 2017 goal lists  and there are still quite a few things remaining that I want to accomplish. As always, I’ll be sharing my author goals in another post. Today, I want to discuss the importance of assessing the years goal lists and how you can get back on track if you’ve lost your way.

To begin, remember the reason you set the goals. I know the deal, new years makes most of us giddy with possibilities. Goal lists are probably never as long as when the clock strikes twelve and gives us all permission to start over fresh. However, most of us aren’t arbitrarily writing a list. There is a genuine purpose behind every task. By taking stock of why  the particular element made the list to begin, you can rediscover their importance.  Don’t be afraid to downgrade somethings and upgrade others. As long as you are still attached to the goal it has value and is worth revisiting.

Once you’ve reestablished your reason for setting the goal, then prioritize for completion. Every goal does not have the same value as we’ve established. Maybe its assigned value is due to the requirements for completion, or even the amount of time it would take. Maybe it has sentimental value. Determining what happens first not only gives you focus, but also gives you an idea of how to structure the settings for the rest of the year. Number them, color code them, do whatever it takes to decide what needs your attention first. Prioritizing will likely mean rearranging the way things are written on your list. Don’t be alarmed, embrace the changes. Bundle what goals you an overlap, and work your new list.

Adjust your timeline accordingly. Some goals, may seem out of range from your initial schedule. If you’ve missed the deadline for that particular marathon, then pick another with similar features to compete in later in the year. The object is to realize your goals in a way that is both realistic and also fulfills your initial desire.  This is why your reason for setting the goal comes in handy. Get back in the game with a timeline that reflects where you are on your goal list and what you are looking to accomplish.

Just start. You can do it. You’ve missed your initial timeline, and now there is a struggle to find the best time to start again. Do yourself a favor and stop waiting for the perfect time. Start where you are, and ignore that little voice that says “not until”.  The moments you  waste waiting for the ideal time to start can’t be replaced. You have enough time if you start now. Start saving the money for your trip. Start outlining your novel. Start drinking more water, and adjusting your portion sizes. You can’t accomplish anything that you won’t begin. Have faith and begin.

Half the year is behind us, but there is still time to rack up the accomplishments. Just remember what you read here and apply it to your remaining goals and you will be well on your way. You’ll surprise yourself with how much you can still get done. I have faith in you, and you should have faith in yourself. Let’s hold each other accountable to the promises we’ve made ourselves.  Comment below with some of the goals you still hope to complete.

Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#PublishingTheAlpha’sDream

A month ago, I published for the first time ever under my own name. I’m still freaking out about it.

I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t my first published work. The thing is, it’s very different publishing under a pseudonym or as part of a collaborative work. Taking ownership of my words is something I’ve always struggled with, and thus The Alpha’s Dream is no small creation for me.

There are tons of things I learned on the road to writing it, but what I want to discuss today is what I’ve learned from dreaming it period. Here are five things wanting The Alpha’s Dream has taught me.

 

Career changes are risky.  

When I first decided to write The Alpha’s Dream there were only two things of which I was certain. I wanted a career from writing my own books and I would have to cut back on my ghostwriting.  That great book you love, it took hella long hours to write. There was no way I was going to be able to keep the pace of my ghostwriting and add in the creation of my own original work. I had to cut back my hours, which translated into missed income from my home. At the time, I had two littles and had just discovered my third pregnancy. I wanted to put it off longer. Collecting great premises that I would one day flesh into novellas or novels had become a hobby of sorts. After weeks of quietly deliberating, I talked to my husband. His response was for me to go for it. We would restructure and figure out how to make it. I was terrified anyway and rightfully so. Our budget was already stretched to it’s seam, but then the first certainty kicked in. I knew I wanted to publish my own work, and there was only one way to get there. I would have to take the chance and pull away from creating for others to build the life I wanted for myself. I had to face the risk of it, or I would never know what could come of it. Thus, the Year of the Leap was born. 

Plan. Execute. Repeat.

I have limited time. Balancing wifehood, motherhood, and writing full time leaves me short of hours. If I was goin to do this I would need to be sure from the beginning. I took a couple of weeks to determine what premise I would use for my first release, then the plotting, and writing came. I’m more of a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl (pantser) but I couldn’t afford the writers block I inevitably end up with when I do that. I had to make the hours count. So I took the time to research the best outline methods and crafted one that worked with my writing style. Then, I went to work. Executing is by far the hardest part of this process. There were times I would fall asleep at the keyboard, or scrap an entire chapter. There were also moments when I doubted I’d find my idea market and question whether the work would sell. Ultimately, I just had to get up everyday knowing I am an author working on her latest release and see it through. Not always fun, but worth it now.

Have faith or fear, but not both.

I am naturally a worse case scenario person. I have a hard time visualizing success, and am actively working to change that about myself. The base for my doubt is always fear, and I couldn’t afford to e afraid any longer. I was taking the biggest risk of my life, with the oldest dream of my heart. I had to pick faith in my God, my work, and myself over the fear. Fear is a powerful emotion. Faith is a strong counterattack. I’m still learning to shift my focus. It has been important to me that I don’t inflate with hyper positive but unsubstantiated ideas. Instead, I honor that I have to work hard by giving voice being uncertain there will be a payoff. I have faith that with every published work, I will build and grow a little more. That is what I hold on to when things are murky. It is a work in progress.

Find your market, or be fearless in creating one.

Initially, I wasn’t sure there was a market for shifter romances with both hero and heroine as African-Americans. The norm seemed to show a comfort level for BW heroes and WM shifters as well as Caucasian hero’s and heroines. I knew I wasn’t the only brown woman who loved shifter romances, but there didn’t seem to be a recognizable market. I searched for months and didn’t find anything. There was more doubt, more fear that the risk I was taking was not going to work. After a while, it didn’t matter that I didn’t see the market. I saw the characters, and their stories. I believed that would be enough to attract readers, even if they were checking out shifter romances for the first time.  I found my niche and I am working it like it has been heavily established. I am a reader of the books I write. I am my own market. As it turns out, so are you.

You don’t have time to wait for the “perfect time”.

The time you are in is always the perfect time. Don’t get me wrong. There is an ideal setting in which i would have liked to start writing. Ideally, we would have been financially sure from other endeavors. The market would be fairly established and my darlings would have a lovely routine that allowed them not to miss me when I was writing. Suffice to say I am still working on that part of the dream.  I had to come to terms with the fact that I would have to make time, I would have to have faith, and just start. Start. I couldn’t spend anymore years waiting for my ideal scenario to make it easy for me to pursue my dreams. I had to begin right in the thick of my uncertainty. I had to start where I was and hold steady until something great happened. It is happening now.

As I celebrate The Alpha’s Dream very cute and meaningful milestone, I am happy that I took the chances I did. I’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, and produced a work I love because of it.  There will only be more from here.

Comment below with your thoughts on The Alpha’s Dream.

Joy.

 

 

#KeepinTouch: 5 Reasons you should subscribe to my blog

I’ve been working on my blog as part of my author platform for a while now. The truth is, it’s become so much more.

As I write this, I’m already thinking of what other things I will add to my blog to make it more interactive for my readers. Not just those who read my books, but those who drop by on occasion to keep in touch. I love the alerts when someone likes a post I’ve read or when they send me a message about something I’ve written. It feels good to be connected.

So, I want you to come here more often. I want you to send your friends, your frenemies, and the all that you believe will be interested to my website. I’m more than just books and here are five reasons you should subscribe to my blog and keep in touch.

 

Mama Stories/Wife Things

I’ve only been a mother for three years. I’ve been a wife for nearly eleven years. My years alone with my husband are a very telling part of my being a romantic. My years with my children were the catalyst for me to stop ghostwriting. Already, I’ve gained a lot, learned a lot about myself and the world around me that I didn’t notice until my children were born. Their births kicked my writing into gear and I love it. Often enough, I found myself writing about their influence as I blogged. It has now become a permanent and intentional writing point. I’m a #MamaAuthor. It is a major factor to my work. If you are a mama/ wife who has found yourself influenced by your children or your spouse to commit to your other passions, these stories are for you.

Book updates, snippets and conversations on publishing

My blog came to exist because I am an author. It is a place for readers to connect with my books. So of course, there will be updates for what I am working on, new release information, and soon there will be snippets of works in progress. I write shifter romances with African-American leads. If you are into that sort of thing, subscribe! keeping in contact here will allow a greater chance that you will see what’s coming next, first.

Goal Digging

This is a big thing for me. I’m always working on other projects. It’s not that I just prefer to be busy, but I prefer to expand on my purpose. My blog deals a lot with my goals from the stand point of an author. However, the tools and methods I use can be applied to anything. I’m all for accountability. When I’m writing to you, I am asking you to hold me accountable for the dreams I have made public. When you comment, you are inviting me to do the same. It is a small thing, but a very useful one. Together we can inspire each other toward the lives we all want.

Exclusives and Giveaways

Now that I am getting the hang of this blogging thing I’m offering a lot more. My writing career is officially kicked off and while establishing my dream team, I’m in the process of developing exclusive swag for those who join. In addition, the excerpts and #freshpress work that you find here is exclusive unless otherwise noted. When you come to my website, I want your experience to be one fluid invitation into the creative space of my life. I aim to make that as seamless and welcoming as possible.

We’re All Family Here

You may have stumbled upon my blog. You may have gotten here through a search engine or some other method of funneling. Whatever the way you got here, it is because you were looking for something. So is everyone here. I’m writing African-American centered shifter romances because I couldn’t readily find them when I was looking. Maybe that was what drew you. Stay for the coffee and conversation. Stay for the insights on publishing, and the struggles I face while trying to write what I love. Comment with tips for dealing with anxiety or other ways to balance work and wife/mama life. We’re all connected here. We are all here for a reason and I am working to nurture those reasons for all of us.

There you have it. Five good reasons you should subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already.   You can simply follow me from the site or you can sign up  for my newsletters for updates on the latest going on here and with the books I am publishing. I’m sure you have your reasons for coming. These are reasons to stay. Don’t break my heart. Leave a comment below about some of the things you’ve liked about my growing blog so far. I love to hear from you.

Joy.

 

#2Stars: Open to criticism

Writing is an act of art. It is a statement of creativity. It is open to criticism.

I am not above a bad review.

Common knowledge.  For some writers, the first review where a reader expresses discontent with their work is akin to having their heart plucked out while still alive. It is a shock to the system, feels fatal, and is often callous. Yup. All of that is still true for someone like me whose worked behind the scenes on several projects. Anything below a three star writing is definite grounds for improvement.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been stalking my ratings and reviews. The very first moment I noticed the below three star ratings on The Alpha’s Dream my heart sank like a stone in a pond. I read the written review carefully.  I analyzed it for days looking for some hidden bias. The hidden bias? The reader didn’t like my writing style. She just didn’t like the book. Fair. NOT FUN, but fair.

I’m bringing to light these ratings because I believe in their credibility. This isn’t about knowing the reviewer, but about knowing the process. I believe the ratio to readers and reviewers is something like 5 or 6  to 1. Out of 50 people who read a book only about 10-15 will leave a review.  So every review counts. Every review also represents multiple people. The reviewers who left the 2 star ratings represent other readers who ultimately decided against leaving a rating at all, rather than leave bad one.

Deep breaths. Long Sighs. Honesty is rarely pleasant.

However, I am not one of those authors who feels that every review must be a positive one. I am not lost in the fallacy that everyone who reads my books will fall haplessly in love with my work. It is unrealistic, no matter how badly I would like it to be true.

As an artist, it is difficult to read that someone doesn’t like the work I’ve spent countless hours developing. Art requires thick skin. Art requires respect for the audience just as much as for the authors.  I suspect over the life of my work there will be even more unflattering reviews. I’m prepared-ish for that, and I will face it with grace.

I want all my readers to know that their reviews, ratings, comments are honored. I hear you. I’ll work even harder to give you a product that you enjoy. We’re in this together and for the long-term.

Comment below with characters or stories you would like to see written.

Joy.

#RaisingReaders: Reasons it’s important to me to raise children who read

Some of the best advice I was given as a writer was to write everyday and to read everyday.  Words to live by.

After the birth of my children, I found myself thinking a lot about books. From all the research and studies conducted, the impact of reading to children during their formative years is lifelong. Education is big our home. Knowledge and access to information are things we openly discuss and advocate.

It was a no-brainer for us that we would incorporate books into daily life of our children. The result is my littles love to read. They enjoy a good book as much as I do and a trip to the library may as well be the state fair. It’s an ordeal. I love that.

As an author, I feel a lot of responsibility in nurturing their love of books. I want their relationship with literature to be one that thrills them for the rest of their lives. With that being said, I’m pretty critical of the books I read to them. There are several criteria I look for when establishing a reading habit for my littles. I’ll discuss those in a later post. This post is all about them being readers period.

When I was a child, the library was a sanctuary for my siblings and I. I wasn’t a fast reader, didn’t eat up series after series like my sister did, but I did love the process of choosing books and what they represented for me.

It was more than just a way to pass the time.

The cliché is that it became an escape. There’s a lot of truth in that, but as I think about it now I’m sure there are deeper levels. What I found in books was exposure. In the small town that I grew up in, there were very firm ideas about identity, race, and cultural norms. In books, I was able to expand my vision of those things. Writers have been critical in shaping my values, my belief systems, and my personal identity.  I want that for my kids.

There are things that I cannot teach them, because I don’t have the experiences to accurately express them. Even though I don’t have the tools, these lessons are still things they must learn. By nurturing their love for books, I’m giving them another resource to turn to when their father and I don’t have the answers.  I’m also giving them autonomy, teaching them responsibility in seeking answers to their problems/ questions, and allowing them the freedom to live beyond the natural circle of our lives.

Raising readers, isn’t just about expanding our children’s ability to read and process information. It is about giving them access to a larger world that they may not otherwise experience. Teaching empathy toward fights they may not have to face, and still giving them authority over what they learn.

They are getting older and will soon take more ownership over the books they read or that are read to them. By then, I’m hoping to have firmly rooted them in the power of taking authority over the information they receive, among other lessons.  Hopefully, what they will come to recognize is that books are an expanded universe of their own and all they have to do is be brave enough to dive into it.

Is storytime important in your home? Comment with some of the ways you share books?

Joy