#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.

 

 

#OwnIt: My most prominent book launch mistakes

There were mistakes made in my launch. Here’s how I feel about them.

Alright, so you’ve seen my excitement about The Alpha’s Dream being released. It is heaven to see my work finally published and available to those who wanted it. I’ve been stalking my sales, and pages read through Kindle Unlimited almost hourly. Seriously. It’s to the point that my husband has put me on a schedule. He gets me, but he also knows I’m crazy. It’s true love.

Now that I’ve had a little time away, my feelings for my launch are finally sorting. Here comes the part where doing it all on my own takes its honest toll. I worked for months in writing of The Alpha’s Dream. It was originally only supposed to be a 20,000 word novella to open my career. I was nervous about attempting more.

In the end, Nathaniel and Euphoria took on a life of their own. They knew what they wanted, and their story. They desired depth and space to come to terms with the lives they were living through the pages. I was honored…am honored to have done that.

As with anyone, I realize there are limits to  talent. So, even in my writing there were things I had to prepare for in order for my book to be a success. So, I made a plan.

I would write the book. I would then do a secondary edit of the book to fill plot holes and  catch minor grammatical errors. I would then hand the book off to a great editor who would fine tune what was missed. They would return the book to me to make final adjustments.

It was a simple plan with modest expectations and nothing extravagant in terms of what other authors are doing.

I am prone to Murphy’s law. Everything that can go wrong will generally go wrong when it comes down to the wire.

My editor bailed. My secondary choice was great, but not as good. In the 25th hour I ended up doing a lot of it myself. I’m not an editor. I am a writer. It shows in my work.

As I proceeded to go through the work, I cleaned it up as much as I could and pressed forward. It would not be perfect. The flawless finish I wanted did not come. Editors, like authors, have very specific skills. I know my role well, and I know the limits of that role. What I offered was not the pristine product I’d hoped.

To further exacerbate my anxiety, the placeholder copy I used for the pre-order setup was even less perfect. It took several failed attempts to submit the first edition final version of The Alpha’s Dream. However, it was too late to prevent some of the pre-orders from receiving the completely unedited placeholder copy.

I was mortified.

My big launch, my debut to the world was marred by a completely jumbled amateur move. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Immediately, I went into recovery mode. I researched and reached out to those that I could about the copies they received and offered edited versions. I hoped for the best.

The feedback I’ve been getting for The Alpha’s Dream has been predominately positive. When I look at the reviews, I realize that I wasn’t the only one looking for books like I’ve chosen to write. It heightens my desire to create a great work. At this point, all of the Amazon reviews are glowing. The GoodReads ratings, not so much. I Love GoodReads. I love the people represented there are truly just there for the books. So even a two star rating ( at this point I have 2 two star ratings) has a significant purpose.

I see the complaints in my writing and the calls that there are grammatical errors still. It is embarrassing to work so hard and still have some prominent flaws. I sigh. I cringe. I know there is still more work to do. I’m up to the challenge.

In the coming weeks, as I prepare for even more changes in my  personal life I will be looking for another editor to see if I can finally get it right. I want a flawless project and the second edition of The Alpha’s Dream should be that.

Overall, I am still in awe of this process. I’ve learned some hard lessons and have come to terms with my shortcomings. I take my work very seriously.

This isn’t a hobby anymore. It isn’t simply what I do to pay the bills, and when that work is complete it is my responsibility to make sure it is done right. I don’t take that lightly.

As I move forward, looking down the barrel of a new baby, second edition to The Alpha’s Dream, and plot future works I keep in mind that nothing is without hiccups.  I love that The Alpha’s Dream is doing well. I hate that it isn’t perfect, but I am not intimidated about plucking away until I get it right.

What are you guys working on? Anything you’ve taken a second look at? Comment below.

Joy.

#freereads

Writing is a tedious love affair. Just when you’re finished, you have to take a second look at it to figure out you are wrong.

I love my job. I love taking a premise and fleshing it to a plot, then taking names and turning them into people. It is a passion. It is my life’s dream. I used to write for the sake of writing. Now, I don’t.

My release date is three weeks away, April 23rd. On that faithful Sunday,  months of hard work will spill out for your consumption. I will be at your mercy. That’s a lot of pressure, right? WRONG! It’s actually no pressure at all. The great thing about books is that you have the right to choose what you read. That isn’t pressure, it’s power.

So, let’s share power.

One of the fascinating things about books is discovering new authors. Some of you have quietly followed along with me. You’ve seen the highs, the lows, and read the concerns. You’ve been there when I’ve struggled to determine if it was worth it. Now, I’m asking you to take things a little further.

I want you to read my book…and review it.

That might be a little pressure.

It is no small task, breaking into the world of being a published author. There are a lot of hours, doubts, fears, and so on. What makes it worth it for most of us is the finished product and your response. We know as authors what we love, but we want to know what you love too. Like I said, I use to do this for the love of it, and now I don’t.

I write for a living. It is my career. I spent long hours for years writing for others. Now, as I write for myself I need your voice in my head. I’m asking for your curiousity, and offering a chance to read my book(s) for free. Here’s is how it works.

You the curious reader, sign up to receive an Advanced Reader copy of my book. This copy will have all the plot and basic editing for your consumption. It’ll ask you to determine whether or not you like it and why. Once finished, you would leave an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. The end.

It really is that easy. It feels like a small thing, but ask any author, it’s not. Those few sentences and star ratings make a huge difference in whether the work lives or dies. I’m pretty partial to The Alpha’s Dream living.

So do me a solid and just sign-up. I’ll send you a free ARC copy and on April 23rd, you’ll review it. We’ll both be ecstatically happy. Don’t believe me? Try it and see. 😁

 

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.

#wingingit

I’m feeling the crunch.

In a little over three weeks The Alpha’s Dream will be live and ready for the world.  I’m excited, and terrified, and exhausted. All the things I thought I would be over-ish by now. Turns out, I was lying to myself. Not a habit I want to continue, so I’ll put that on my list of habits to break this year.

I make a lot of list.

Whatever it takes, right? Whatever it takes.

I’ve spent the last several months working my behind off to create The Alpha’s Dream. I love my work. I’m really happy with it…mostly. Lol. I don’t know that there will ever be a day where there won’t be something that I want to tweak about it.  Such is life as a writer. I hope I never lose the hunger for creating stories and then for making them better. It’s all part of my ever expanding dream.

It will continue to grow.

The closer I get to the end of this or rather the middle, the more attached I get to my characters. Their needs have grown with my understanding of them. They expand, and I relish their expansion.

I love that my hero, Nathaniel, is sure of himself, until his heroine, Euphoria, forces him to examine his most hidden resentments. I love that Euphoria doesn’t try to change him, and instead makes whatever uncomfortable choices she has to in order to keep them both in their comfort zone. It doesn’t work, because they want each other too badly. The fact is, when you are made for someone, attempting to walk away from that will never end well. It takes a little transformation and a lot of faith to come out happily ever after.

This book has become so many things for me. Hope. Labor of love. Confirmation. Affirmation, and so on and so forth. I have learned more about myself as I’ve crafted its pages than I intended too. That’s a good thing. What we love should reveal us to ourselves.

I hope everything I write has that effect on me. After all, there is nothing more dangerous than a settling into complacency. I don’t want to be the author who simp,y cranks out books with no regard as to their effects. I strive to keep that true always.

I want you to enjoy my book. I want you to read and re-read it because the story is good, and the love is real, and it reminds you of something you’ve wanted or have. I want you to come back for me. As we continue on this voyage together, I want you to know that my heart is in it.

 

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.