#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.

 

 

The Alpha’s Dream Revealed

The Alpha’s Dream. Release date April 23, 2017.

It will take a curvy and talented entrepreneur

A New Orleans summer is nothing if not hot. Talented and curvy entrepreneur Euphoria Atkins is learning that the hard way. After a calculated risk draws her from her cushy career on the West Coast, Euphoria has to figure out how to turn her dream company into a profitable one. She never could have predicted the decision would force her from her fear zone, and sprinting into the arms of a tall, dark, and handsome undeniable opportunity.

to influence a logical and single-focused Alpha wolf

Former running-back, and current Alpha Wolf businessman Nathaniel Blanchard will not be denied. Alpha Athletics will be his crowning legacy no matter what it takes to get it right. He doesn’t have the time or the patience for any distractions from his ex-girlfriend. Nor, does he have time for his wolf’s insistence that their newest hire is more than just inviting hips and an alluring scent. Nathaniel has never trusted his wolf, and he doesn’t plan to start now. But, some attractions are too difficult to ignore.

how to drop his rigid ideas

One hiccup after another threatens to keep the pair from trusting the ties trying to bind them.  An unplanned pregnancy only heightens the stakes. One false move and everything they’ve worked for could come crashing down. Unless Euphoria and Nathaniel can be convinced they are worth fighting for, and heart scarring end awaits them.

Thrust into each other’s dreams, Euphoria and Nathaniel must unpack the years of self-doubt, distrust, and fears that have plague them to create the lives they’ve always wanted. However, their resistance to doing what it takes threatens to deny them forever. Reservations and secret fears must die, but are they willing to go where this love could lead?

and take an unpredictable leap.

The Alpha’s Dream. Release date April 23rd, 2017.

#soclose

On April 2, 2017 I will reveal the cover of my first realease. Twenty-one days later, The Alpha’s Dream will be live on Amazon.com.

My emotions are all over the place, but mostly I feel like it’s time. I’ve worked hard. I’ve loved these characters. I’ve struggled with the long hours, prayed,  discussed, and planned to a level that I never have before. I know I am doing what I am meant to do. Writing isn’t just something I do for a hobby or even for a paycheck. It literally calms my souls to be able to create these stories. Isn’t that what your purpose should do? It is what I have come to expect.

This has been a crazy journey. It has asked of me things that I did not believe I had to give.  Time and again it challenged what I believed was possible, and forced me to make adjustments. I am stronger now because I have attempted this, and because I refuse to fail at it.

I am stronger now, because I am no longer afraid to have it fail.

The Alpha’s dream is honey in my mouth and will be forever. Whether it is my first bestseller or a complete flop, it has awakened a sleeping dragon in me. It has taught me how to give my all without question, and without expectation. I’m excited to have you be a part of this.

Join me on April 1st, 2017 for my first official cover reveal. Let’s get acquainted. After all, we are in this together.

 

Joy.

 

#HeroineInterviews

E: Sorry I’m late. I lost track of time.

(Euphoria Atkins enters the restaurant wearing a pretty black silk blouse and  pencil skirt that hugs her ample hips. She smiles easily and takes a seat directly across from me.)

E: I had a meeting that ran long. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long.

You’re absolutely fine. Should we order or dive right in?”

E:Oh you haven’t ordered. Oh God. please get some food. I called in my order because I thought you would have by now. In the meantime, fire away.

Firing now. So tell me about your friendship with charlotte Jackson. How did that began?
It began in college. Charlotte is a take charge kind of woman and substantially more extroverted than I am. So it took some pushing and pulling, but we’re really close.

Because you are opposites?

E:Absolutely.  We see the world from different places, and so we compliment each other. She’s the sister I never had, and I’m very grateful.

What did she say about your relationship with Nathaniel Blanchard? did she try to discourage you from being with a werewolf?

E: I won’t be commenting on Nathaniel.

(Her smile has grown exponentially. As the waiter places her food down in front of her and takes my order. I notice a moment of quiet joy sweeping over her smooth brown cheeks.)

Why not? He refused to talk to us about you too. Is there something the two of you are hiding. Maybe wedding bells or something along those lines.

E: Nathaniel and I agreed that we wouldn’t disclose details about our relationship until after the book was released. Even then, we don’t plan to share everything.

So what can you share with our readers about yours and Nathaniel’s story? Anything.

E: I can share that it is worth the discovery. I think your readers will enjoy watching  our story unfold, and gain a lot from it.

Okay, so you’re not going to tell us anything.

E: No. (She says with a throaty laugh.)

Well, I guess we will have to wait until April 23rd for the official release.

E: You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

We’ll take your word for it. So on to other subjects. It is rumored that you left a high paying Graphic Design job to start your business Euphoric Designs. What was the catalyst for your venturing out on your own?

(Euphoria holds her fork balanced on mid-way between her plate and her mouth. She’s thinking. Her brows are smooth, but her eyes are deep with concentration.

E: A number of things drove that decision. Ultimately, I believe I just wanted to own  more of my time and my creations. I was exhausted from working long hours on projects that didn’t matter to me or didn’t make me grow. I wasn’t motivated to do that for the rest of my life. So, I decided that if I were going to  work my life away I would do it for myself.

Dreams seem to play a big part in yours and Nathaniel’s story. What advice would you give other women who have a dream that they can’t get out of their heads?

E: I would tell them to stop trying to forget it. If it wasn’t part of my purpose to be a Graphic Designer and someday own my company, then it would have been an easy thought to dismiss. Since it wasn’t, I knew I had to pay attention to this. I had to  attempt to build it or it would eat me alive.

Eat you alive. That is a powerful choice of words.

E:It’s an honest choice of words. I love what I do. I was suffocating doing it for someone else. I realize it isn’t that way for everyone, but it was that way for me. I had to do something about it. I had to make a change.

How does building your company factor into your romantic life?

(Euphoria exhales as if I’ve just knocked the wind from her lungs, but her eyes glitter with amusement.)

E. It is challenging because entrepreneurship requires such long hours sometimes, but when you have the right partner your dream becomes important to them too. They understand, and you make the time whenever possible to ensure the relationship survives.

Is Nathaniel Blanchard the right partner?

E: No comment.

Darn. I thought I would get you with that.

E: Yeah, I saw what you did there. ( Euphoira wags her finger and smiles gleefully at me. I smile back amused that she’s caught me in my own trap.)

Since obviously you aren’t going to spill the beans for us, I’m going to ask you one final question on the record. Maybe when we’re off the record you will let me in on some of you and Nathaniel’s closely guarded secrets.

(Euphoria’s laughter is a wind chime of happiness.)

E: Off the record, maybe.

Give me three words to describe The Alpha’s Dream to our audience.

E: Hmm. Wow. Okay. You know the story has so many layers to it that I’m not sure where to begin. I think I would have to go with authentic, transformative, for us at least, and sexy. We  spin a pretty sexy story.

It’s funny  you should say that. Sexy and layered were two words Nathaniel used to describe The Alpha’s Dream too. I guess great minds really do think alike.

E:Yes, they do.

Thank you for you joining us Euphoria.

E. Thank you for having me.

Joy.

 

 

 

 

#HeroInterviews

(When at Authors& Characters Magazine arrive for our dinner conversation/interview Nathaniel is already there. He’s wearing a pair of denim jeans, a tee shirt from the team he played for, and tennis shoes. His muscles quietly carve out their place beneath his shirt and he smells like an expensive cologne that I can’t name. For a man worth millions, he looks very comfortable in jeans and a shirt. He stands as I take my seat, and only sits again after I do. True gentlemen. I’m already impressed.)

Today, we have a special treat. We’re going to be interviewing Nathaniel Blanchard of The Alpha’s Dream.  How are you Nathaniel?

N: I’m doing well. How are you?

Doing great. I’m excited about being with you here today. Your debut to the world is a little over a month away and there is a lot we want to know about you.

(Nathaniel laughs. It is a deep burst of sunlight and the smile that follows stretches his face into rows of gleaming white teeth. for a moment, I am quiet in all his black man joy.)

N: .I will answer anything you ask. Just fire away.

Great. We’ll try not to be too intrusive. So let’s begin with something easy. When did you realize that football would change your life.

N: I was in Junior high school before I picked up a football for the first time. I was bigger than all of my peers and faster and stronger. Pretty soon, I was getting attention from local high schools, then high school, and later college. It wasn’t until college that football started to feel like a possible career. I knew if I worked hard, I would be the same on a professional field as I was on that junior high field. So I kept pushing until the my stats proved it.

Wow. So It wasn’t a life dream, but an opportunity.

N: Yes, and opportunity. I knew that with playing football came a lot of other opportunities. I was financial stability, butt it was also a whole network of people who lived lives I’d only dreamed of.

Was it everything you thought it would be? You were on the highest platform and in front of millions. That had to be thrilling.

N: I was, but I wasn’t the whole picture. For every successful player I saw, I saw another who was throwing away his millions or just didn’t know what to do with their lives after playing ball.

Is that what inspired Alpha Athletics’?

N: absolutely. I saw a need among my peers for direction. We were the upper echelon with the best money managers, and agents the world had ever seen. Yet, I’m the only one of my retiring class who can still afford my lifestyle. I knew that other upcoming players would need more than just access to the best they could afford. They would need people who would tell them the hard truth. So, we have great agents, but really we look at each player individually and help them build their team with their future in mind.

Wow. That’s  a big undertaking.

N: Yes, it is. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with doing something extraordinary because of the effects it will have on the community at large.

How would you say your wolf heritage contributes to your need to build community?

N:That something I’m still working out. I have a complex relationship with my wolf heritage, and I want to explore its relationship to my life as is. I just haven’t don’t much of that yet.

Fair enough. I get the impression that saving the world takes a lot of your time. So, how does that translate for your love life?

(he laughs again. This time, he brings his hand to his mouth and rocks back in his seat. He’s staring at me with a lopsided grin as he begins again.)

N:It means I have very little time for things that aren’t … fruitful.

Is Euphoria Atkins fruitful?

N: No comment.

Aww Come on, I thought we were getting close here. She obviously has some influence, because your face lit up when I mentioned her name.

N: “She does have influence, but you’ll have to read the book to know to what extent.

You’re really protective of her. Care to delve into why?

N: Some things are worthy of protecting.

(Nathaniel straightens his long legs in front of him. The smile on his face is gentler now, and I can tell he is lost in his thoughts. Despite his refusal to elaborate on his relationship with Euphoria Atkins, I  know she has a special place in his head. It is written all over his face.)

Well, I’ve held you long enough. before we go, I have on more thing to ask. Give me three words that describe your story for our readers.

N: That’s a tough one. There are so many things I think the readers could take away from this book. I guess having to narrow it down now I would say… haunting, layered and sexy.

Haunting, layered, and sexy. Those are some strong words to live up too.

N: Believe me, The Alpha’s Dream lives up to that and more.

You’re not just saying that because you are in it?

N:I guess you will have to read it to find out.

I guess we will.

Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#HeroineIntroductions

Last week, I introduced our lovely hero Nathaniel Blanchard. The strong Alpha wolf is nothing without his loving mate. Today, meet the woman who makes him reconsider everything he ever believed about life long love – Euphoria “Euri” Atkins.

Euphoria Atkins, is a talented and curvy New Orleans transplant. After years in corporate America, she decided to venture out on her own and do the work she loves as a Graphic Designer. Business is slow, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t give every project her utmost attention.

She’s the type of woman who treats her friends like sisters and believes there are no coincidences. Smart, funny, and endearing Euphoria is authentic to a fault.  She doesn’t lie to herself, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

Beneath a strong and confident exterior is a soft and sometimes fragile interior. Her realistic nature won’t let her believe anything too willing, unless it already supports her premise. She trusts her gut, and her best friends. She loves hard, and long. When the time comes to lay it all on the line she does so with reservations. NOthing tests her heart more than her hero Nathaniel Blanchard.

Euphoria’s journey is one that most women can relate to  in at least one phase of her life. She is stronger than she thinks she is, wiser than she gives herself credit, and determined to make the best of her life. Noone walks away from her unmoved.

As we travel the journey of Euphoria and Nathaniel’s relationship together, the question is never whether or not she loves him. However, she has to get out of her head and let her heart guide if their love is ever to last.

#MarchMadness

Woot! I’m ready for all March has to offer. At this point, I’m about six weeks from my first release and in a frenzy to get things done well. Don’t worry. I’m still mostly optimistic that it will all get done. Mostly, because I am working my behind off to make sure it does. The struggle is real, but so is the hustle.

So February Goals were good, and I got a ton of things down on my personal goal lists as well as my author lists. I think I’m on pace to do pretty well this month too, but I’ll need your help with a few. Namely my ARC Reviewer sign-up. If you want to be involved, follow the link and get your free reads!

On to business. I have several things on my lists for the month of March. Let me share them with you now, along with the ones that were migrated from February.

March To-Do Goals:

-Send The Alpha’s Dream off to the Editor

Build my ARC Reviewer Lists

-Send of First Newsletter

-Execute Phase 1 of Marketing Plan

Migrated Goals:

-Finish Second Novella

-Write/Edit 2 Shifter Shorts

Ultimate goal for March is to successfully complete everything on the lists. I want a clean slate coming into April. Hold me to that one! What are you working on this month? Comment below.

Joy.