Balance

giphy

If 2018 had a word for me, it would be unbalanced. At least, that’s how the last six months of the year have gone. You know when you set goals/deadlines for yourself, and things start to pile up? And then it’s like a snowball rolling downhill, and you’re the target?

That was me.

So, for obvious reasons, my goal for 2019 is ‘balance’.

Balance in writing. Balance in my personal life. All about balance.

(How many times can I use the word balance in one post?)

My plan is to tackle this issue in a few ways.

I don’t know about other authors, but I struggle with all recommendations for ‘how an author should author.’ All those ‘experts’ who have the latest greatest advice. I think you have to be careful not to fall down every single rabbit hole with them.

And it is SO hard not to.

There’s always the latest greats ‘everyone is signing up for it’ new social media app or site. Mewe anyone?

Here’s the truth we never want to accept. You can’t be on EVERY single site. You can’t follow every piece of advice. You can’t be all things to all people (I think Lincoln said that.)

You just can’t.

There’s only so much of my brain power I can give.

I’m autistic, balance is crucial for me. If I push myself too far, I shut down. It’s horrible for my health to continue pushing and pushing.

That was 2018 for me.

Unhealthy.

So, 2019?

All about that bass…I mean balance.

What’s your word for 2019?

 

The Poisonous Influence of Perfection.

Me to my brain:
giphy-downsized (7)

Perfection is a toxic poison that strangles out my creativity.

And really, it’s less about perfection in the end product of my writing–and more about attempting to be expectations I’ve set up for myself of what I think others can do–or think I should do.

It’s a theme that has followed me throughout my adult life working first in restaurants, then as a teacher, and later in insurance.

A theme I didn’t truly understand before learning I’m autistic.

I’ve always needed to demonstrate my abilities at work. Striving to be the best. Not to overshadow others, but more to appear capable. I’ve had a fear of seeming unable to manage: work or life.

And as a result, I work myself to the point of exhaustion.

It’s a trend that followed me into writing.

Setting schedules and deadlines I can’t possibly manage.

Overachieving.

It’s not a bad thing, necessarily.

It is when you’re ignoring your health.

Autistics, at least from my personal experience as one, tend to battle inner ableism. This little voice that tells me I’ve not only got to be at the same level as non-autistic authors but better. It’s poison.

It really is.

The same inner voice that tells me I don’t need help or accommodation when I do.

It eats away at your accomplishments and makes missed goals or deadlines seem like monumentally massive failures.

This year, I managed to almost double my word count.

Brilliant, right? Except not, I didn’t take the breaks between projects that I usually do. I’ve ended up not enjoying writing as usual.

And the last two novels I’ve worked on have been a painful slog until the bitter end.

Next year, one of my biggest focuses will be to enjoy myself with writing.

Deadlines are important and so are word counts, but I can’t write myself into a serious health issue again.

 

 

Nope, No, Never.

giphy (3)

Everyone has advice on how to manage your social media. Everyone. People sell books, hundreds (just do a check on Amazon.) And like tips on writing, tips on book selling/promoting can often be contradictory. And, I’m grumpy enough to usually avoid jumping on the bandwagon.

One: I hear quite frequently is that you should always link all your social media accounts, mainly FB, Twitter, and Instagram, for crossposting.

Here’s why I disregard that:

  1. Linking accounts creates a nightmare if you are ever hacked.
  2. 50% of the time the hyperlinks created via crossposting wind up not functioning correctly.
  3. Each social media platform has a distinct vibe. Things I post on FB don’t necessarily reach a Twitter audience.

Having said all of that, I will occasionally copy/paste posts between FB and Twitter, but very rarely.

Two:  People often recommend an app that auto-shares a post to all your FB groups.

I’m not a fan, personally. I prefer having control over what posts where.  You also run the risk of promoting in a non-promo group or promoting the wrong book. For example, promoting a non-paranormal novel in a paranormal group.

Three (or maybe Two B): Another App is an Auto-Retweeting on Twitter one.

Here’s why I think that can have disastrous consequences. You’re surrendering control of what winds up posted on your account. What happens if you wind up retweeting a post about someone’s personal grief over the death of a loved one?  Or, retweeting one you actually disagree with?

Also, I’m a control freak.

I want to know what I’m sharing.

Four: Don’t be too personal. (Or transversally, always be yourself.) I’ve heard marketing/promoting experts offer both schools of thought.

I firmly believe, for better or worse, you should always be yourself.

Readers will be drawn to who you are. And if they aren’t, they probably won’t enjoy your book. Books are an extension of ourselves in many ways.

Last but not least, Five: Creating Teasers.

Granted, creating teaser images doesn’t quite fall into the same category as all the others. It’s an important one. If you’re going to use images to promote your book, be sure you have the right/permission to do so.

Seriously.

It can save you a world of hurt if you get sued.

Also, it’s disrespectful to the photographer if you’re using their work without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To NaNo or Not to NaNo.

The above gif is an accurate demonstration of how I’m feeling–and National Novel Writing Month hasn’t even started yet. The last five years I’ve successfully taken part in NaNoWriMo, though I think one year I didn’t quite hit 50k, but I didn’t finish the story so I consider it a win.

Ivy, Alicia, After the Scrum, The Caretaker, and One Last Heist all started life as NaNoWriMo stories.

Now, I’ll be honest. NaNo makes me lose my mind. At no other time of the year would I even attempt 50k in a month, but it’s a challenge I always find impossible to refuse.

When I started thinking about this year, I’d initially decided not to participate. My deadlines have gotten all messed up and I didn’t know if I’d have a book to work on in November.  My year has been fairly busy with writing a novella trilogy and writing a novel. But for all the chaos, I do genuinely love particpating in NaNo.

I’ll be cheating this year. My novel is going to wind up being around 80 or 90k, so my goal for November is 50k. That’s my NaNo goal, even though technically the story won’t be finished quite yet.

If I hit 50k, I’m considering it a win.

I’ll be exhausted, but a winner.

Are you taking part in NaNo this year?

 

What Bad Reviews Taught Me.

Bad reviews taught me not to read them. Seriously. True story. I do my best to avoid reading bad reviews. Not always successful but I try.

Here are a few reasons why:

– I don’t want it in my head. It’s a case of ‘author know thyself.’ I’m not someone who thrives on criticism, I know some people do, not me. It’s crushing. So, I just don’t see a need to push that into my brain.

– Reviews are for readers–not authors. End of story. Once my precious word baby goes out into the wild, the response to it is out of my control.

(And don’t get me wrong, good reviews are lovely. I’m always thrilled and beyond grateful if someone loves my work. But, writing is an art and art is subjective. Not everyone will enjoy my style of putting words together. *shrugs* The world doesn’t end when that happens. Though, I will eat a lot of ice cream to feel better. Don’t judge me.)

Watching other authors react to their reviews has also taught me something important.

Never. EVER. Respond to a negative review.

Seriously.

Ever.

Nothing good can ever come from it.

How about you? If you’re an author, do you read bad reviews or avoid them?

If you’re a reader, are reviews important to you when selecting books?

 

Let’s Talk About Sex.

“Why do you write gay romance?”

Author interviews always seem to include that question for me. And my answer is probably never entirely satisfactory, mostly because I don’t have the answer. There was no epiphany or grand moment. No critical thought process that I’ve heard other MM Romance authors give.

Gender and sexuality have always been a bizarre concept to me. It’s an autistic thing. I feel a bit detached on the idea of both. So, for me, romance is romance is romance.

While I am a woman and I identify as one, gender is one of those concepts I’ve always been quite detached from. I’ve spoken with other autistics who also find the male/female thing confusing. It’s a hard feeling to accurately describe.

It doesn’t affect my writing–and yet it does.

And by that I mean, when I write my brain doesn’t get caught up on gender differences necessarily in the same ways I see from allistic others. I do, however, seem to get into a rhythm of writing something in particular and struggle to shift into a different area. So, after starting with After the Scrum, my flow has continued with M/M, though all things considered my novels tend to include a diverse group of relationships amongst the cast of characters in the stories.

Sexuality or sexual orientation is equally different in my head from how I hear a lot of allistic authors talking about with their writing.

Sex scenes whether m/m, m/f, mmf, or mmm are the hardest bits of writing for me.

Another part, as a panster, I never genuinely set out to do one or the other or a variation. The story just spontaneously shows up from wherever my muse lives in my brain. I barely manage to plot out…the plot.

(The annoying part that I have zero control over. Fucking muse lol.)

I swear I had a point when I started this blog post, but I’ve gotten distracted.

I genuinely considered deleting this and starting over, but other autistic romance authors might appreciate and relate to seeing my struggles.

 

 

Puff loves GubGub.

One thing that stood out to me at the RT Convention last year was the number of authors who talked about how their significant others weren’t supportive. Their husbands (or wives or whatever) treated their writing as a hobby. At best, it seemed completely dismissive to me.

It made me appreciate my husband even more. He’s always encouraged me to follow any path or dream I had even the one time I thought I could become a soap mogul. Don’t ask. It didn’t end well. =)

He always takes my copies of my paperbacks and shrink wraps them to make sure they don’t get damaged. He’s so cute. He plans to have a special bookshelf just for my books.

And I think my heart grew three sizes. lol

It’s the little things that always remind me how much I love and appreciate my husband.

Like how he leaves love letters in random spots in my notebooks…address to Puff from GubGub. (Don’t ask.)

We do romance in our own way, but it’s remarkable and special because of it.