Cover Reveal: REFLECTIONS

Totally wanted to do this post as some kind of link-up thing, but I was at 221B Con all weekend and therefore did not plan anything (though I did have a great time). ANYWAY, without further ado, here's the beautiful cover for my novel Reflections, releasing this June!

*drumroll*

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ISN'T IT GORGEOUS?! 

As usual, this cover brought to you by the talented Taylor Carney, who also designed my Blood and Water cover. 

And here's the blurb! 

 "Rama would trade almost anything for the chance to become someone else, even for a little while."

 In the small, rural town of Aldale, West Virginia, Ramachandra “Rama” Ganeshan wants nothing more than to avoid dressing rooms for the rest of her life. After a brutal assault destroys her confidence and self-esteem, she yearns to be someone else . . . someone pretty, popular, and loved—until multiple girls in town are found murdered.

After stumbling across her beautiful classmate’s body and a terrifyingly familiar face in the murderer, Rama encounters a group of shapeshifters who know more of the killings than they let on.

Only by earning the shapeshifters’ trust and becoming one of them will Rama be able to help serve justice.

But first, she must learn to love herself and confront her painful past—and find the courage to investigate the violence.

 What do you think of the cover? Are you excited for Reflections ? 

How to Stay Focused on Your WIP

Photo Credit: ihtatho on Flickr

Photo Credit: ihtatho on Flickr

One of the hardest things about being a writer is keeping up the motivation to see a project through. With traditional publishing especially, it can take a long time to get a book out into the world. From first draft to second to third to querying and going on submission and more—it seems like the cycle will never end. It can be difficult to stay focused and encouraged through the process.

I’ve managed to find some techniques that have helped me stay focused while working on drafts and edits and diving into the querying process. Although these tips and tricks may not work for you, I recommend giving them a shot. Here’s what helps me keep an eye on the prize and keep my excitement level up when working on a project.

  • Pinterest boards. I’ve talked before about how much inspiration I get from Pinterest. When motivation wanes, a glance through my project’s Pinterest board reignites my excitement.
     
  • Playlists. This is another topic I’ve touched on before, but I cannot underestimate the power of music. When I start a project, I listen to the same playlist every time I dive into writing. I associate those songs with that project. Sometimes, all I have to do when I'm unmotivated is put that music on and then I’m ready to go.
     
  • Remember why you started. If you’re writing a book, especially to a specific market, you should have a reason why you’re writing it. For example, with Reflections, I wanted my MC to be a trauma survivor with body image issues. Rama shows the devastating effects assault can have, and how it doesn’t end someone’s life or make them “damaged goods.” I’ve already talked to some friends who say they need this book, and that encouragement helps. If I don’t finish this book, I’ll feel like I’m letting them down. Looking at the big picture is a huge help when trying to motivate yourself to reach the finish line.
     
  • Immerse yourself. Surround yourself with your WIP in any way you can. Right now, my desktop and phone wallpapers are all related to REFLECTIONS. I can’t escape it. I also have a pile of crystals on my desk that I see every time I sit down to write. If you’re living in your book, how can you not get writing done?
     
  • Take care of yourself. One of my goals for this year has been to go a little easier on myself. I have a terrible habit of working myself into the ground. Most of the time, my intense work ethic is a blessing, but it has driven me to burn out before. When working on a project, make sure to take breaks. Get plenty of sleep, fresh air, and water, and don’t feel guilty about taking days off if you need to. Never underestimate the importance of breaks. If you’re writing something that’s triggering, breaks are essential.

Publishing is an industry that requires grit, determination, persistence, and patience. Armed with these tips, you should be able to stay on track with your WIP, meet your deadlines, and get your book out in the world.

What tips do you have for staying focused on a project?

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Vlog: When Your Writing Triggers You

There's a lot of material in REFLECTIONS that's triggering to me, so I've had to come up with ways to cope.

RELATED LINKS:

What do you do when you're triggered by your own writing? What are some of your coping mechanisms you rely on when triggered?

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Sometimes your own writing can be triggering. In this vlog, learn how @brimorganbooks copes with triggering herself. (Click to tweet)

Why I'm Going Trad

Photo credit: Caligula1995 on Flickr

Photo credit: Caligula1995 on Flickr

Holy wow. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’ve been hard at work on the edits for Reflections and cannot wait to share it with the world. After I’m satisfied with the manuscript, I intend to launch myself into querying… which I’m dreading a little bit.

I’ve queried before, even with this manuscript in some earlier stages (when I thought it was ready), but this time, I’m serious. This time, it’s real.

Since my debut novel is self-published, as well as my one-act play, I’ve gotten questions about seeking traditional publication. Why am I making the switch?

First, I don’t have as much time as I used to. As much as I enjoyed managing the details of my first book launch myself, it was a little overwhelming. The only reason I could put the book out when I did was that I was self-employed, working full time from home. All the marketing, planning, promoting—I got to do all that myself. Now that I have a full-time job (not working for myself), it just isn’t feasible.

I feel like I need the support of an agent and a publishing team behind me. Don’t get me wrong—I know authors still do a lot of their own marketing, but it would be nice to have a couple people by my side as I go through that whole process.

Traditional publishing would also give me a much wider distribution than self-pub, and a great deal more exposure. While I’m not in writing books to make any money, I do want as many people to read my books as possible. Traditional publishing makes that much more likely than self-pub.

I’m still happy with my decision to self-publish Blood and Water and Touch. Self-publishing has taught me a great deal about releasing books as well as offered me several opportunities I might not have gotten otherwise. Still, given where I am at this point in my life, I’m leaning toward going traditional.

How do you feel about traditional publishing?

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It's Rerelease Day!

I've been working on this rerelease for quite some time now. Since debuting in 2015, I've learned a lot about the writing, editing, and self-publication process. Naturally, that means I've grown and learned from my mistakes. I've developed higher standards.

When I first published Blood and Water, I was going through a difficult time. I was alone in Florida, working at a job I hated, depressed and suicidal. Finishing that novel was one of the only things that kept me going. I was determined to put my work out into the world—to let it spread its wings and fly when I myself was trapped.

At that time, I was more concerned with getting it published than getting it right. If I could just get it out there, everything would be okay. So maybe I rushed (I totally did). I put something out I wasn't totally satisfied with. And that truth has been driving me crazy ever since.

As I think more on the importance of legacy, I've realized how much I wanted to ensure the best product possible goes out into the world. That's my biggest reason for deciding to rerelease. Now, I have the time, and I'm publishing the book I wanted to in the first place.

The revised edition of Blood and Water is now available in ebook form. You will also be able to purchase it in paperback, hopefully soon. This new edition contains some new scenes, a few hints toward the sequel, and so much more. Thank you all for being so patient with me. I promise this book will be well worth the wait.

If you bought the first edition paperback and want 30% off the new one, follow the steps below:

  1. Take a picture of your copy of Blood and Water. Pretty self-explanatory.
  2. Share the picture on social media with the hashtag #BWRerelease. It can be any social media site, including Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook! Feel free to even mention me at the end of the post if you'd like. That way, I'm sure to see it.
  3. Once your post is up, I'll send you a link so you can pay the reduced rate for a new (signed) copy! Open internationally!

How do you feel about rereleases? Are you excited about the new edition of Blood and Water? Tell me in the comments!

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Happy #BWRerelease day! Find out how to get @brimorganbooks' new edition of BLOOD AND WATER for 30% off! (Click to tweet)

This Is a Political Post

I’m not sure I’ve ever done a political post before, and if you don’t want to read a political post, feel free to click out. But I can’t sit by in silence and watch people suffer. I can’t watch my sisters fighting hard to maintain our rights without participating. Feminism is something near and dear to my heart, and now more than ever, I need it—every day.

Photo credit: Liz Lemon on Flickr

Photo credit: Liz Lemon on Flickr

I’ve had many people tell me lately that “Feminism is men hating” or “You’ll never get a man to love you if you’re a feminist.” I’ve had people say they wouldn’t be my friend unless I stopped being a feminist. Other people have told me they’re not comfortable with my opinions.

You know what? That doesn’t stop me. Your discomfort doesn’t take precedence over someone’s rights. I understand that many people are miseducated regarding feminism, and still others have been taught all their lives that women are naturally inferior and should never be equal with men. You may belong to one of these groups. You may even feel that, as a woman, I have no right to complain about a system in which I can vote, start a business, and enjoy most of the same privileges as American men.

However, nothing you can say to me will make me turn away from feminism. I fully acknowledge my privilege as a straight, white, cisgender woman. I understand that I have it better than many of my transgender, queer, or POC sisters. I’m not denying that. I wish things were different. Although I benefit to some extent from the current system, I am by no means content with it. Now more than ever, I need feminism. Now more than ever, I want to be heard.

The new administration—President He Who Shall Not Be Named—has me terrified to live here. I am now a citizen of a country in which our leader is sexist, misogynist, xenophobic, racist, and a slew of other unpleasant “ists.” Every morning I wake up and wonder how it happened. How did we as a people ignore so many red flags? How did we assume it would get better, that he might back down, that maybe just maybe everything would be okay?

If you don’t see a problem with the new president, go ahead and click out of here. Unfollow me or block me or whatever you like. For me, it’s not a matter of debate. We now have a president who has openly and on record berated, belittled, and objectified women across the board. The following quote sums it up pretty well:

I did try and f*** her . . . I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping . . . She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look . . . I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful ― I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.

The man who said that is now the president of the United States. Let that really sink in for a minute. Although he's not my president—I refuse to add that title to his name—he's in power now, despite so many warnings and red flags and concentrated efforts by concerned citizens to try and stop him. And for the first time in my life that I can remember, I am genuinely, truly terrified about the future.

Last weekend, when news of the Muslim Ban broke, I tweeted about it. Here:

That was all. I didn't say supporters of the ban were stupid, deserved to die, or anything like that. But that didn't stop a horde of trolls and malicious Trump supporters from descending on me with death threats, wishes that I would be raped, and even a Live Leak video of a Muslim woman being simultaneously beheaded and raped in the street—which ultimately led to me having two panic attacks, logging off Twitter, and locking my account for the weekend.

Never in my life prior to this administration have I gotten death threats. Never have I had anyone say, "I hope you get raped." But it's a whole new world now, with new rules, and no one is safe. And that's why I keep fighting. I don't want anyone else to go through what I went through just for expressing an opinion. I thought we lived in a country that welcomed free speech and encouraged understanding between different groups of people. I guess I was wrong.

No matter what happens now, I'm going to keep fighting. I hope you'll be there with me. It will be a long four years, but as long as we're together, we stand a fighting chance.

Stay safe out there, peeps. I love you. Come to me if you ever need to vent or anything, and above all else, remember—you are not alone.

Turning Off the Editor Brain

One of the biggest challenges in being an author and an editor is turning off the editor brain. After spending all day proofreading and editing, it's hard to come home and write or settle in with a book. Especially when I'm writing a first draft, it's crucial to turn off my inner editor.

Photo credit: Rob King on Flickr

Photo credit: Rob King on Flickr

Lately, that's been much easier said than done. And it's not limited to my work. I read at least a chapter before I go to bed, and most of the time, I can't help skimming the pages for grammatical errors. 

In some ways, this is good. It allows me to analyze literature, dissect a piece to figure out what works, and emulate it in my own writing. But it also detracts from my enjoyment of the piece.

The same goes for my writing. How am I supposed to finish a draft if I edit it to death? Instead of moving forward, I'm trapped in a hell of my own making (the road to which is paved with adverbs—thank you, Stephen King). Falling into this never-ending editing nightmare is a good way to guarantee I never finish a book.

As writers, it's normal to want to edit your fiction. You may even enjoy editing someone else's work. Even if you're a writer and a freelance editor, you should do your best to keep the two realms separate. Let your writing time be writing time, sacred and non-negotiable. The same goes for your editing time.

For me, I've found that it's best to stick to one project at a time (I'm only just now getting that!) unless I'm first-drafting one and editing another. It's too much stress on my brain, and I'm trying to be kinder to it. I suggest you do the same—we need our brains for building books!

I've learned to turn off my editor brain easier than I used to, but I still have some way to go. What about you? Do you struggle to keep from editing when you're supposed to be writing? Tell me about it in the comments below! I'll see you all back here next week.

Writing Resolutions for 2017

How is it already 2017? Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to watch 2016 die. I think we can all agree it was, on the whole, a pretty crappy year. With that said, let's leave the past in the past, and focus on the future.

Photo credit: cyclonebill on Flickr

Photo credit: cyclonebill on Flickr

This past year was a productive one for me. I published my one-act play TOUCH (which was also performed in a one-act competition!), drafted and revised REFLECTIONS, started a short story that deals loosely with ghosts, and wrote 12K of the BLOOD AND WATER sequel, WATER AND LIGHT. Writing-wise, 2016 was good, but I want this year to be even better. Here are my writing resolutions for 2017, in order of priority:

  1. Rerelease BLOOD AND WATER. I'm releasing a new, revised edition of BLOOD AND WATER (with the same cover, don't worry) in the next month or so. It has a LOT of bonus content, including "deleted scenes" I felt conflicted about taking out in the first place. I cannot wait for you guys to see it once it's finished!
  2. Publish REFLECTIONS. Not long ago, I had the cover shoot for this novel. Since then, I've been anxious to see the finished product. I've also gotten some good feedback from betas and sensitivity readers, and I have an editor(!), so I'm over the moon. I've put my heart and soul into this book. I hope it pays off in the end.
  3. Draft WATER AND LIGHT. I'm having so much fun with the characters in the BLOOD AND WATER sequel, so I should have it done sooner rather than later.
  4. Edit WATER AND LIGHT. Naturally, even if I get the first draft finished soon, it's going to need a lot of work. Thank God I know some editors!
  5. Publish WATER AND LIGHT. THREE BOOKS IN ONE YEAR. Who am I? (Can I do it??)
  6. Finish ghost short story. Because it should have been finished by now.
  7. Outline/start drafting LIGHT AND AIR. I'm hoping to do this one for NaNo this year, but if all goes well, I may even have the first draft 

This year is going to be a big one for me in terms on my writing career, I can feel it. I'm so excited to see what all the future has in store. Happy new year, and may it be your most productive one to date!

What are some of your writing-related resolutions for the coming year?

BLOOD AND WATER Rerelease FAQs

A lot of you already know this, but I’ve been working on a new edition of BLOOD AND WATER for several months now in preparation for the rerelease.

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My announcement that there’s going to be a rerelease prompted a lot of people to ask questions. The book’s been out for over a year now, so why do I feel the need to create a new edition? How different will it be from the original book? Will the cover change? What about bonus material? What about people who bought the first edition but still want the rerelease? It goes on and on. But you know what? Those are EXCELLENT questions. And today, I’m going to do my best to answer as many of them as I can.

Why a new edition?

With any book, when you assign a title a new ISBN, it’s automatically a new edition. Since I went back to self-publishing (rather than publishing through a small press), I have to get new ISBNs for the titles I had with the publisher.

How different is it?

Fundamentally, not very. The plot is the same, as are the characters, but I’ve gone in and added deleted scenes, made some changes to dialogue, fixing typos, and things of that nature. Overall, the new edition feels much more cohesive than the original, and I’m pretty excited about it.

Will the cover change?

No way! Taylor’s cover is perfect and I am so in love with it.

What about bonus material?

There will be plenty of bonus material! Like I mentioned before, I’m including a couple of deleted scenes, as well as a new character and some hints toward the upcoming sequel.

Also, at the end, there’s a short story all about Samson.

What if I bought the original but I still want the rerelease?

You’re in luck! I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I want to offer some kind of deal to anyone who bought a copy of the original but wants the rerelease. I’m open to suggestions! If you think of a sweet deal, please let me know in the comments or somewhere on social media.

When can I get my hands on it?

Right now, all I can say is early 2017. I’m hoping sometime in January, but it’ll most likely be February since I’m also working on getting Reflections out soon.

So there you have it. Hopefully in this post, I’ve answered most of the questions concerning my rerelease. If I didn’t get to yours or you’ve thought of something else to ask me (sneaky!), shoot me a message on social media or leave your query below.

Thank you so much for your support! I can’t wait to share this with you!

Guest Post by Lucy Adams: 10 Books That Will Change Your Mind

Hey, it's Briana! I've been running around like a madwoman lately, so today's post is from a lovely lady I've been in contact with recently. Enjoy the post, and I'll be back with a new one on Wednesday!

10-books-that-will-change-your-mind

Looking for the next book to put on your to-read list? Well, here are ten! What makes these books special is that they all have a great takeaway that will change the way you think, act, or perceive things.

This list is perfect for both avid readers and those looking for something inspiring and useful. Let’s dive in along with Lucy Adams, a diligent buzz essay writer.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Not a morning person? Think again. This book will change it all. Author Hal Elrod has his own amazing story of how he got started in finding a way to not just take every day for granted.

It has been proven multiple times that waking up earlier and spending your first hour awake doing specific actions is extremely beneficial. The Miracle Morning provides an exact outline on how to do it.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Although this book was written in 1937, it is one that will never fall behind in the times. It’s applicable to today and has inspired and influences many wealthy people and entrepreneurs. Follow what Hill says and you will experience success.

1984 by George Orwell

After reading this one, you’ll always have it in the back of your head. It’s a classic and an interesting story with a warning to citizens of what can happen if a government becomes too controlling. It’s something that should be kept in mind especially with all the potential surveillance technology nowadays.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

On a lighter note, we’ve included this incredibly popular fantasy series. Get through all the books (they’re big), and you’ll have experienced a journey like you’ve never experienced before. These books tell such a good story with amazing creativity that you will get lost in them and come back out in awe with a new perspective on imagination.

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

Don’t scoff at this title. I know what you’re thinking: this is a book for children. It is, but we all need a reminder at times, especially as adults. You probably already know the message it teaches. The power of positive thinking is unbeatable. We all need to reread this one every once in awhile.

The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman

Just as we are all unique, we all experience and feel love in different ways. This book describes the five different of ways we like to give and receive love. Each person prefers one or two, and for a successful relationship you need to know your partner’s. Also good for close relationships in general!

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

This book has changed millions of lives. Yours is next! It’s been translated into thirty-five languages. What most people disregard is that it does take hard work to get to the point that Timothy Ferris writes about, but he is not shy about letting you know it.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This is the second (and last) young-adult genre book on our list, but also holds a well-deserved spot. It won a Newbery Medal, and also remains one of the most challenged books in the 1990s. It’s about dealing with many emotions in a seemingly perfect society. Check it out and you will be surprised how much it makes you think.

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

If you’re thinking this book it full of tips of how to control and manipulate people, you’ll be surprised. This wildly popular book will change your mindset. It will make you more popular and not only easy to work with, but the kind of person that people will want to work with. Increase your standing in people’s eyes by changing your own way of thinking with this book as a guide.

Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss

A personal favorite, this book is a short read that leaves you inspired and with tools to turn negative thoughts and happenings into positive ones. There are some truly great anecdotes inside that will make you see your own life in a different light. Plus, who doesn’t want to learn how to be happier?

Well, that should get you started in the right direction! One of these, and probably more than one, has caught your eye. Don’t hesitate to read them. You’re only making yourself better!

Lucy Adams is an essay writing expert from BuzzEssay. She’s a diligent woman who never misses a chance to cover an exciting topic related to blogging, writing, education, and a few more niches. Feel free to share your ideas with this diligent author and go ahead for a mutually beneficial collaboration.

You're Not a Failure for Not Finishing

We're halfway through November as I'm writing this post. If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, that means you should have a word count of about 25,000 right now. Mine is closer to 10,000. If yours is low, too, don't despair! Even if you don't finish, you are not a failure.

youre-not-a-failure-for-not-finishing

Writing a novel is hard. Finishing a novel is even harder. For that reason if no other, many people don't make 50,000 come November 30. And that's okay. Even if you don't "win" NaNoWriMo. you're still a winner. Here's why:

  • You tried. You faced your fears and doubts, buckled down, and made an effort. Don't discount your bravery. I've talked to so many people who have said, "I'm way too scared to try to write a novel in a month!" If you started, you're not one of them. You have a lot of courage.
  • You proved the cynics wrong. So what if you don't get to 50,000? Some people might have doubted you, said you couldn't write. Maybe some of them didn't even think you could get started. Look at you now! You have part of a book!
  • You can always go back. It's pretty cool to write a first draft in a month. That doesn't mean you have to. No matter where in the story you stop, it will be waiting there when you come back. If you don't finish in November, that doesn't mean you never will.
  • NaNoWriMo doesn't matter. Don't get me wrong; I love Nano, and I think it's important. But you don't have to do it. You can still be a writer without NaNoWriMo. You're not any less of an artist if you opt out. The same goes for not finishing. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't make any difference. 

If you don't finish NaNoWriMo, it isn't the end of the world. I'm probably not finishing this year due to some personal issues and wrist pain, and that's totally okay. The book will still be there whenever I come back to it.

How is NaNoWriMo going for you? What are your thoughts on not finishing?

Vlog: Q&A Again

I urged you guys to ask me questions on Twitter about writing, my projects, and more, so now I'm following through with my end of the bargain.

  1. 0:25 "How did you go about getting your audiobooks produced?"
  2. 1:09 "What key themes did you explore in your writing your 3 works so far? What themes do you want to explore in future work?"
  3. 6:15 "Do you feel you write better plot or characters? Why?"
  4. 8:04 "What does your worldbuilding process look like?"
  5. 9:43 "What was the spark that made you decide you wanted to write?"

Again, a huge, HUGE thank-you to everyone who sent in questions! Please let me know if you can think of anything you'd like to see in future vlogs. :)

Why I'm Doing NaNoWriMo This Year

I’m the busiest I’ve been in a while, and I’m still doing NaNoWriMo. I keep saying I won’t, but I know I will. The lure is far too strong. If I’m the busiest I’ve ever been, why do I want to do NaNoWriMo so badly? In part, because I’ve lost my mind. Mostly, though, it’s because I wholeheartedly believe in it.

why-i'm-doing-nanowrimo-this-year

The majority of the first draft of my debut BLOOD AND WATER was written during NaNoWriMo 2014. Last year, I used the time to start on THE PALEST OF PINKS. Although I technically won NaNoWriMo last year, I didn’t finish the draft, but that’s okay. In fact, I’m hoping to revisit it someday. This year, my plan is to use NaNoWriMo to knock out the first draft of the BLOOD AND WATER sequel, tentatively titled WATER AND LIGHT.

As you can tell, I’m passionate about NaNoWriMo. I think it’s great for so many different reasons, and I never would have finished my debut novel without it. If you need more reasons to participate this year, take a look at this:

  • NaNo teaches discipline. The biggest difference between authors who want to finish a book and authors who have finished a book is discipline. You can’t publish anything if you don’t establish some kind of writing habit.
  • NaNo improves self-confidence. Before I won my first NaNo, I didn't think I was capable of finishing a novel. I questioned myself as a writer. After all, if I never finish a novel, what kind of writer am I? NaNoWriMo changed all of that. It allowed me to silence my inner critic and finally realize one of my lifetime goals: becoming an author.
  • NaNo builds community. I love the spirit of collaboration and encouragement among writers during NaNoWriMo. It feels so good to realize that you're not alone in this adventure.
  • NaNo can lead to a published book! This reason may be the most compelling one of all. As a published author, I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to hold a physical copy of your book in your hands. Needless to say, having a finished product makes all the months and sometimes years of blood, sweat, and chugging caffeine worth it.

If you're still not completely convinced, give NaNo a shot nonetheless. Better to say, "oh well" at the end of the month than "what if?" If you're doing NaNoWriMo, good luck! And if not . . . there's always next year. Want to add me on NaNo? My username is skyeaerrow. We can do this!

What are your thoughts on NaNoWriMo? If you're participating this year, feel free to leave your username in the comments!

One Year + A Giveaway

One year ago today, I released my baby out into the world. My debut novel BLOOD AND WATER went live on October 22, 2015. I was at the Atlanta airport, gearing up for a flight to visit one of my best friends in Chicago. I hit PUBLISH on Amazon, and when that sucker finished processing, I lost my mind. I couldn’t comprehend what I’d just done; how much a single move was going to change my life forever. In that moment, I went from writer to author. There’s nothing like it in the world.

This post is a thank-you to everyone who supported me, encouraged me, and believed in me along this journey—especially those of you who have continued to support me. When I started writing BLOOD AND WATER, I was in a bad place. I’ve written about that before, so I won’t go too much into it. But writing that book saved my life. When I felt alone, the book was there, and so were all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m on the verge of tears as I write this post because you all mean so much to me and this book means so much to me and I am just so thankful for this whole roller-coaster process.

I wanted to do something to celebrate today—something big—but all my finances will allow right now is a paperback giveaway. If you still want a signed paperback copy of my book with a super-sweet handwritten note (I promise), you can enter the giveaway using the widget below. You have from Sunday, October 22, until Halloween to enter, and I’ll be announcing the winner on November first. The giveaway is international, and I’m covering shipping and everything. Again, thank you all so much. I love you, and keep dreaming.

For the Love (Not Money)

"Don't do it for the money." Of course, it's impossible to live all your life by this philosophy. We need money to live. Money keeps a roof over our heads, food on our tables, and clothes on our bodies. For some people, the pursuit of money is what gets them out of bed in the morning. You have to go to work to get a paycheck, after all.

Yet with writing, as with anything else, you shouldn't pursue it as a career if your sole focus is making money. For one thing, writing on the whole is not a lucrative career. I made money when I was self-employed full time as a writer and editor, but editing paid my bills, not writing. And during that time, I was so focused on making ends meet that I often neglected my writing. I became stressed and developed a pessimistic outlook toward any career in publishing.

Now, I'm fortunate enough to have a day job I love. It pays my bills. Outside of that, I sell some books on occasion, but it's not enough to retire early or anything like that. Still, I consider it a worthwhile use of my time. Why? Because I love it.

I've heard from several people lately that I should invest my time in more lucrative affairs, to make some extra money wherever and however I can. Those people see my writing as a waste of time and effort because it doesn't generate income. Some of them even think I'm foolish for writing like I do.

To those people, I want to make one thing clear: I wouldn't write if I didn't enjoy it. Even when I complain about the writing process (because sometimes it's difficult), there's nothing I would rather do. To me, that's the meaning of passion. No amount of money in the world can stand up to honest passion.

On the hard writing days, when the words don't come easy and it's all I can do not to give up, it's my love for the craft that keeps me going—not any promise of monetary gain. I still think about making money from writing someday. That's the dream. But I try not to let the idea consume me.

At the end of the day, it's love that keeps me coming back to the keyboard.

Vlog: Three WIPs

I have three WIPs going at once right now, because I'm crazy. Want to know what they are? Check out this video!

So, basically, these are the books I have on tap for the next couple of months:

  • REFLECTIONS (I need to leave it alone)
  • THE NEW AMERICAN HAUNTING (which will hopefully be a serial on the blog this month)
  • THE TRAGEDY OF NUMERIUS CORDUS (which needs heavy edits) and
  • WATER AND LIGHT (the BLOOD AND WATER sequel)

Even though there are four books listed there, REFLECTIONS is finished (I just need to quit messing with it). I haven't started WATER AND LIGHT yet, either, but I'm listing it nonetheless.

What are you working on at the moment?

Finding Pockets of Time

One of my favorite things about having purchased the mobile version of Scrivener is that I can now write almost everywhere, utilizing pockets of time that previously might have been wasted on Candy Crush, or updating various social media channels.

The thing about writing is that it's almost never convenient. You never have time to write. Even when I worked from home, I found about a thousand other things to do besides writing. You do have to make time to write if you want to get serious about writing. Although the word "make" bothers me, because it's more about finding the time. In today's post, I'm sharing how I learned to use pockets of time to meet my daily writing goals.

  • Your commute. If you drive, ride a bike, or walk to work, this idea won't work for you. If you carpool or ride the train or bus, you can use that downtime to get some words down. Bonus: when you get off work, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing.
  • Waiting. We waste a lot of lives in waiting rooms, standing in line at the grocery store, or sitting in an empty theater before the previews start. Why not use that time to finish a chapter in your WIP?
  • In bed. Right when you get up, and right before you go to sleep, open your project and work for a few minutes. Most of the time, that's time that would just be wasted (in my case at least) checking social media. Writing is a much more productive use of your time.
  • On planes. I travel a lot, which means I spend a lot of time in the airport and on planes. These are perfect places to write because you have a fair amount of downtime and not much to do otherwise.
  • Commercials! If you watch television, write during the commercials. Although this won't work if you use Netflix instead of cable...
  • In the tub. If you take baths, consider drafting some of your book while you soak. I *may* have used this shortcut to write a lot of BLOOD AND WATER. Be careful not to drop the phone in the water though!
  • While cooking. If you're making something that doesn't have to be watched, you can use cook time to get a few sentences into your project.

I'm a firm believer in the benefits of daily writing. I also know how busy almost everyone is these days, including myself. Still, I do what I can to make writing a priority, which means finding pockets of time in which to write. I hope these tips will inspire you to look for more time to work on your projects.

How do you make sure you meet word counts when you're busy?

I'm Not Here for You

I don’t exist for anyone’s aesthetic pleasure. I don’t go out of the house so men can look at me. I don’t. I wanted this blog post to be about writing but I'm currently too angry to talk about writing. So today, we’re going to talk about feminism. We’re going to talk about why I need it. More than anything, though, today’s post is for the men. I want you to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a woman just living her life and going out in public. Here’s a hint: it isn’t great.

You see, two weekends ago, I attended Dragon Con with my friends. And we had an absolute blast. But Friday, for me, was the most trying day. That was the day we dressed up as the girls from Heathers the Musical, complete with short skirts, colorful blazers, and croquet mallets. A lot of people loved the costumes and asked to take pictures of our group. There were a lot of people who didn’t ask permission (a cosplay no-no) and took our picture without our consent. And I don’t have tangible proof, but I feel like there were even a few special animals trying to take some upskirt photos.

For the most part, though, the costumes were well received. And there were a few comments from men, but they were tame. It was mostly things like “You ladies look great” or “Good costumes, girls.”

But then, two middle-aged men approached and asked to take a picture with us. Now, keep in mind, this next bit of conversation took place not even a foot away from us, and we could hear everything they were saying.

“Do you know what they're dressed as?” one man asked his friend.

“My wildest fantasy,” the man replied.

Here's the thing: I've been catcalled before. I've even been catcalled at Dragon Con before. Don't get me wrong—we knew our outfits were going to get us some attention. We've all been around men before. But none of us expected for men our fathers' ages and older to say inappropriate things within earshot, sometimes even right in front of us, as though we weren't there. None of us expected to think about using our prop croquet mallets on them.

A few days later, I took MARTA (Atlanta's metro system) to the Atlanta airport. It's about an hour ride from my stop to the airport, so I settled in with a book. For the most part, it was fine. No one really talked to me. I felt some people looking at me, but thankfully, they left me alone . . . until I got the airport. It was the end of the line, so this one man and I were the only ones in the train car. He had an earpiece in, so at first, I assumed he was talking to someone else. He had sunglasses on, too, so I couldn't be sure where he was looking.

"Do the people who interact you on a daily basis know you're stunning?" he asked.

I was in a state of shock, so I responded without thinking. "Maybe."

"Remind them."

My whole body flushed, and then I heard my heartbeat in my ears. We both got off the train, and I thought that was the end of that. I felt pretty uncomfortable by this point, but just chalked it up to being alone in the city—unfortunately, it's more or less par for the course.

But then the man caught up to me. Apparently, he wasn't finished.

"Are you going to tell your friends?" he asked.

"Tell them what?"

"That you're stunning. That some guy on MARTA said you're stunning."

I couldn't have responded at this point even if I wanted to. You see, I was clearly not comfortable talking to this man. On the train car, I hadn't looked at him or smiled at him or engaged him in conversation. He had absolutely no reason to come up and talk to me. On top of that, he was at least in his forties. On a good day, I look like I'm in my twenties (I'm twenty-four, by the way), but on that day, my hair was braided, so I probably looked eighteen.

To say I haven't had the best experience with older men because of my young looks is an incredible understatement. At some point, I'd like to go into more detail about that, but for now, just understand I have every reason to never want to play nice with an older man for as long as I live.

Once I got to the airport, no one bothered me. On the airplane, no one bothered me. At the next airport, no one bothered me, either. I had calmed down. I was looking forward to seeing my friend. And for a while, everything was fine.

I don't know how many times I was whistled at or honked at in Chicago. Again, unfortunately, I guess that's part of city life. And no one approached me anywhere, so I didn't think too much about it. When it came time for me to fly home, however, I ran into trouble again.

I had to call a taxi to take me to the airport. The man who picked me up was nice, helped me with my bag, asked me where I was going, the usual stuff. Then, as we got on the interstate, his questions became more personal. How old was I? Where did I live? Was I married? Did I have a boyfriend? At first, I gave short answers, hoping he'd get bored. When he persisted, I made up a story. I said I lived in Chicago, was going to Atlanta for my cousin's wedding. I told him my boyfriend was an accountant, and we'd been dating for three years. We wanted to get married, but he wanted to move into a bigger apartment first. And on and on and on . . . for an hour and fifteen minutes.

At some point, the guy started saying things about my appearance, talking about how pretty I was, how nice my eyes were, how he liked my long brown hair. I chose to act like I hadn't heard those compliments at all. It was easier, and by that point, I just desperately wanted to get out of the car and make it into the airport. When we finally did arrive at O'Hare, I was sweaty and a little shaky. The man, once again, helped me with my bag.

"I wish I could marry you," he said.

"Thank you for the ride," I said.

And that was the end of that. Everything proceeded as normal, though I felt nothing short of uneasy for the remainder of my travels.

What bothers me most about these encounters is the blame I've gotten from several people. "What were you wearing?" they want to know. "Did you smile at him? Did you look at him the wrong way?" As if any of that would have made a real difference. 

What's more, some people have even expressed annoyance at my frustration. "They didn't do anything to you. They didn't even touch you." And thank God, but that doesn't change the fact I was uncomfortable. I was going about my own business, and those men came into my personal space and tried to force an agenda on me. In one case, I felt the need to lie to protect myself.

Tell me there's nothing wrong with our society. Tell me feminism doesn't matter. Tell me I don't deserve to feel safe and comfortable traveling alone. Because by telling me women complain too much or saying feminism isn't something you believe in or support, what you're essentially saying is that I don't deserve to be treated like a human being.

I don't exist for you, men. I exist for me.

The next time you feel the need to approach a woman in public to tell her she's stunning or ask her to smile, think back to this post and decide if that's really your best course of action. Spoiler: it's not.