Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG Anniversary! And Anthology Entry


Today is the one year anniversary of the uber helpful Insecure Writer's Support Group website. If you haven't had the chance to stop by and visit, you're missing out on a wealth of information exclusively for writers, no matter what stage you're in.

Big congrats to IWSG admin because you guys are just rockin' it. I'm talkin' HARDCORE. Ya with me??


                                                          (one of my all time fave movies :) )

Today is also the day bloggers post their entries for the IWSG anthology on writing, publishing, and marketing.




Here's mine:

*permission to use in the publication of this anthology

PK Hrezo - YA and NA author
Follow me : http://down-the-rabbithole.com

On Creative Marketing

Over the last five years I've studied the craft of writing religiously, absorbing every nugget and kernel of wisdom, advice, technique that I possibly could. In return, I've become a halfway decent writer--an expert by no means, but then, that's the thing about writing ... there's always opportunity to grow.

Honing craft is good and important, but there comes a time in a writer's career when they have to shift the focus from craft to marketing. We all wish books would simply sell themselves, and that word of mouth would whip readers into a frenzy over our books. Fact is, that's rare. In this brave new world of publishing, authors absolutely must market their books themselves, regardless of being traditionally or independently published. But it doesn't have to be grueling, or give you a dirty feeling.

It can actually be quite fun! Think outside the box. Get creative. We're writers, creating is what we do. That shouldn't stop when it comes time to market our work. We're not pushing insurance. We are treating potential readers to entertainment that we ourselves adore. Embrace this opportunity to find readers and share your art. It's fun and rewarding, and you, in turn, are rewarded with sales and true fans.

Use your creative marketing ideas to reach new readers and keep older ones. In addition, follow these tips to ensure you keep a momentum:


  • Draw up a marketing plan (You can't do this too early. Have one, and add to it as you ready your story.)
  • Commit to building a fanbase of 1000 readers over the next five years.
  • Create a newsletter or email list.
  • Make sure all of your social media and published works funnel into your email list. 
  • Be regular on your social media platforms. Pick your top three and stick to them.
  • Focus on building genuine relationships, not on getting people to buy your book.
  • Find ways to help others. (This is the purest way to get noticed and establish genuine relationships.)
  • Make mistakes (It's okay and the only way we learn, so try new things and learn from them when they don't work.)
  • Respond to fans, readers, followers by name. (Show them you're a real person, not a snooty author.)
  • Target your audience, then go where they are and be visible, helpful, and available.
  • Offer to guest post on other blogs (Always leave a link to your website or email list ... remember the funnel!)
  • Read marketing guide books like Let's Get Visible, Write.Publish.Repeat.,Your First 1000 Copies. There are plenty on the market. Glean all you can from these experienced authors.


Those are just a few basics to get you started. Remember, marketing is only fun if we make it fun. If you're not enjoying your own marketing, no one else will either. When we're first starting out, no endeavor is too small. Try everything, be genuine, and keep revising your marketing plan.

Being an author is no get-rich-quick scheme. It's a slow build, and only the strong survive. It's also sheer joy connecting with new people who enjoy our work, so hold onto them and keep them invested in your products, as well as yourself as a person and author.


Thanks again to the IWSG crew for this awesome anthology!

On a side note, I'd like to welcome all of you to the revamped and sparkly NA Alley blog for all things in the New Adult category.


I'm excited for what this means--that authors are stepping out and showing the world NA encompasses all genres, and I hope you'll pop over and visit because NA Alley would love to have you!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Underrated!


Hey it's been awhile since the blogosphere has had a good 'ol fashioned blogfest. I miss them. They're such a great way to have fun and connect with other bloggers.

Click on the picture above to get to Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog--the HQ for all things underrated. Er, wait... that sounded off. LOL But you know what I mean. *wink wink*

What came to mind for me is an album I stumbled onto while listening to one of my Pandora stations a couple of years ago. The song was called Memories and I immediately bought the album. I'm pretty hard to impress when it comes to music. I'm not a music snob by any means, but it's rare that new music hooks me enough to buy an album. This one did ...


                                                    The Silent Force bWithin Temptation

They were way underrated when I first heard them. Nobody knew the album or the band. They're a little bit like Evanescence. I wrote my entire YA sci-fi novel The Desiree to this album. It was so perfect.

I think Within Temptation may have more of a following now, but still way underrated. My favorite songs on the album are Angels, Memories, and Somewhere. They have more albums out now too.

Oh and here's a book that's underrated.... actually an entire box set!


I'm so excited to be a part of this box set and it's only .99 for all 8 titles! We are having a Facebook release party tonight (Monday) to celebrate. I hope you'll join us. 7pm-11pm eastern. Just stop by anytime you can and say hello. We'll have prizes and fun!

Click HERE to join the party!

Find At First Sight on iBooks, Amazon

Thanks for stoppin by! Have you ever heard of The Silent Force? What are some other underrated artists or stories you can think of? Please share ...

UPDATE on the Kickstarter Mended by Love memoir project: We've raised just over $1600 and have a little more than a month to go! Thanks so much to everyone who has shared and donated! Every single one counts!! :D

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Write Path is Here!!


Do you remember a couple of months ago we held a How I Found the Write Path blog hop where writers around the blogosphere could share letters to their newbie writer selves?

Well, it's here! And it's stupendous!


And it's FREE!!

We love free, and we love sharing advice to anyone trying to find their own Write Path. Over sixty writers have shared and are now published in this ebook. If you're one of them, grab the cover and links and share everywhere!Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, etc,

I can't tell you how excited I am about this book. There is seriously SO much great advice compiled in this baby. No matter what stage you're in of your writing, you will most definitely find something beneficial in this book. And most likely, you'll be nodding your head in agreement as you read. (I sure was!)
Please copy the below links and share:

AMAZON:

 http://www.amazon.com/How-Found-Write-Path-Compilation-book/dp/B00NEXVQBM

NOOK:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-i-found-the-write-path-carrie-butler/1120332319?ean=2940046154306

KOBO

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/how-i-found-the-write-path

iBOOKS:  

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/how-i-found-write-path-compilation/id917388977?mt=11

SMASHWORDS:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/474044

'TXTR:

https://us.txtr.com/catalog/document/tx8qv89/how-i-found-the-write-path-a-compilation-of-letters--carrie-butler/

SCRIBD:

http://www.scribd.com/book/239202267/How-I-Found-the-Write-Path-A-Compilation-of-Letters

AMAZON UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Found-Write-Path-Compilation-ebook/dp/B00NEXVQBM

AMAZON AU:  

http://www.amazon.com.au/How-Found-Write-Path-Compilation-ebook/dp/B00NEXVQBM

Thank you so much to all who participated! And if you didn't, that's okay because you can still download the book and enjoy the read. 

By the way, the ranking on Amazon US is not too shabby at the moment:





        Someone else has a book coming out soon ...




        Shunned by her family back home, she followed her best friend to New York with aspirations to start over. Now broke and homeless with two guys vying for her affection, she realizes she made a colossal mistake. If she gives in to her desires, will she only be breaking the rule she set for herself, or will she also be proving she’s the disappointment her family sees her as?

        Coming next month! Add it to your GoodRead's shelf HERE

        Find Jennifer Ann on her blog HERE. And there's an amazing GIVEAWAY right HERE

        So tell me are you an author in The Write Path? Have you read the book yet? If you didn't participate, what's some advice you'd give a new writer?

        Monday, September 15, 2014

        The Big C


        Today, bloggers around the Web are sharing stories of how cancer has affected their lives. This collection of posts will go on to be part of an anthology ebook and all proceeds will go toward the medical expenses of our beloved friend, Melissa Bradley.

        Melissa was recently diagnosed with cancer, and she and my good friend Michael Di Gesu have come together to host this fantastic blog hop to promote awareness, share stories, and join cyber hands to show no one has to go through it alone.

        This post in particular is dedicated to my amazing father-in-law, Ray Hrezo.

        A few months ago, Ray went to the doctor for a chronic cough that, despite great efforts, he just couldn't beat. The doctor decided they should do a full body CT scan, and they found a mass in one of his kidneys. A biopsy was done that later confirmed the worst news any one can hear.

        Cancer.

        My husband is one of six kids. You can imagine the kind of man it takes to raise six kids successfully. Wow. I only have two and there are days I wonder if I'll ever survive it. But six? Not only do you have to parent six kids, you have to be able to support a family of eight on one salary. Ray sometimes worked three different jobs in the 1980s in order to provide for the family.

        Still, they went on cross-country camp outs, trips to Disney World, long fishing trips, and managed to ensure everyone had a good Christmas every year. One of my husband's favorite memories growing up is when Ray would allow him to "skip" school and take him fishing for the day for some one-on-one father and son time. Not an easy feat when you work three jobs and have six kids, so allowing a skip day was the ideal quality time, and absolute thrill to a young boy who should've been doing math work and reading.

        Ray is also an engineer, a golfer, a photographer, and dabbles in music with his wife, who plays the organ. (insert whatever organ joke you like cuz we've told them all...lol). He's a Mr. Fix-It too, and thankfully, my husband picked up this trait, because if anything is broke, the Hrezo men can fix it. Ray rarely took an item, device, machine, whatever! to someone else to repair. He did all his own work and encouraged his sons to look on and learn as much as they could.

        To give you a good image of Ray Hrezo, think of the guy who you can always pick out in a crowd because he's a head taller than everyone else. At about 6'2, he has a commanding voice (needed for six kids) and a deep hearty laugh that you can't help but smile when you hear. If Ray were a writer, he'd be a hardcore plotter. This man can make some plans, and diagram them, and have everything figured out before you ever arrive. Engineerical. (Yes I made up that word but it fits and you can now use it for yourself, permission granted.)

        Of all people to be rendered weak by a sometimes debilitating disease, Ray Hrezo is the last one you'd imagine. Yet, it happened, and although we don't know why or how, we know that this is one man who will fight til the very end, and if anyone can weather the storm, it's him. Throughout these past few months he's been the most positive, optimistic sick person I've ever met. We are continuously baffled by his eagerness to get well and stay confident and cheerful.

        After having the affected kidney removed and recovering fully--to the point of even mowing his own lawn again--a CT scan showed spots on Ray's lungs. Cancerous spots, that were the culprit of Ray's chronic coughing. After weeks of chemo, the spots did not retreat as the doctors had hoped, and a different type of chemo began. The radiation kind that makes your hair fall out.

        Chemo is a tough treatment. It often makes patients feel nauseous and dehydrated, among other discomforts. The treatment itself is what causes cancer patients to look sick, not always the sickness itself. In August, Ray was given the green light by his doctor to travel across the country to Alaska and spend time at Denali and Mt. McKinley. This was a bucket trip destination for Ray, and just knowing that he and his wife were there gave my husband and I all sorts of smiles.

        Now, that Ray is back home, and returned to regular radiation treatments, his body is feeling the brunt of it. He was admitted into the emergency room this past weekend for pain and dehydration. More tests are being run this week to see if the cancer has spread to his liver and other kidney.  On this very day, my husband is driving across the state to visit his dad, do whatever work around the house is needed, and spend as much time with him as possible to show his love and support to a father who was always there, who always provided, and who always served as the kind of role model every boy needs.

        And I'd just like to show my appreciation to a man who raised and taught my husband what it means to be a good father and loving husband, because my hubby is the kind of spouse that you just can't ask for better of--and if you did, he'd work at being better.

        We know Ray will stay strong and kick this thing in the keister, because that's just the kind of guy he is. When you're faced with something as life threatening as the Big C, you begin to realize just how valuable family and friends are. Faith grows, courage reveals itself, and love is what heals a broken heart.

        To anyone and everyone who has had cancer creep into their lives, know that prayers go up around the world for you. Hope, harmony, and positive cosmic vibes are all around. Tap into them if you can, because I assure you they are there.

        The human spirit is strong. That may be hard to remember when the body begins to whither, but hold fast to that which makes you, you. Your spirit will keep you fighting, and no disease can beat that. YOU CAN DO IT!



        Thanks again to Melissa Bradley and Michael Di Gesu for this special opportunity. All the very best to Melissa for her strength and courage. I know her spirit is strong and amazing! For more posts on The Big C, go here.

        On a separate note, I'd like to offer my sincere gratitude to everyone who's shared and donated to the Queena Kickstarter campaign. We are so thrilled with the response so far. Please continue to share this project with others. For links and badges, please see this POST. Our local newspaper wants to run an article and we are so excited about that.

        Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm so privileged to be a part of such an awesome writing community. The love and support for Tina Downey and her family just weakens my knees. Not to mention this project for Melissa, and your encouragement for the Queena memoir. Makes me feel like ...



         Tell me, do you know someone battling the Big C? What do you do to stay positive when life seems to be pressing down on you? Please share ...

        Monday, September 8, 2014

        Mended by Love

        Before I continue, I wanted to take a moment to remember Tina Downey, fellow blogger who recently lost her life. This is for you, Tina. May you rest in peace, in the arms of our Father in Heaven.

                                                           photo credit: www.seedsofeaden.com


        Today I want to share a very special project and person with you. I've introduced you to her briefly before, but we are now going public with this story and project, and I know you'll be as eager to learn more as I was.

         artwork by Carrie Butler at Forward Authority

        Every so often we get the local newspaper delivered to our home even though we don't subscribe. One day early last summer this happened and I decided to browse it. Usually it goes right to the recycle bin, but for some reason I was inclined to look through it. 

        I stumbled onto an article about a young lady named Queena, and I was knocked off my rocker. Some of you already know the story because I blogged about her during the A to Z challenge on Q day. I wanted to share her website with all of you so you could learn her story. For those of you who don't know, six years ago after Queena had just turned eighteen, she was returning books to her local library late one night and was attacked at the book drop.

        She was strangled, beaten, raped, and left for dead in  the swamp behind the library. Luckily, she'd been on the phone with her best friend when the first blow happened and her friend heard her scream. Immediately she called Queena's mother and the police. 

        They were able to find her in time to save her life, but Queena's life has been drastically altered. She was hurt so severely that she suffered multiple brain injuries, losing mobility and motor skills, requiring a wheelchair to get around. Not only that, but because of the damage to her brain, Queena can no longer speak or feed herself, and only has about %10 of her vision. 

        But she's still here, and still fights for her health every day. She has not given up. Her strength is so inspiring. Her hearing is sharp and she understands and can process information. She listens to music and audio books, and she recognizes voices and responds with sounds and movements. 



        She still requires round the clock care, and I believe there's sophisticated technology out there that could make Queena's life even easier. The problem of course is funding. 

        So after I read that article that day, I noticed a Facebook page for Queena and liked it. Please head over and do the same if you get a minute. 

        Not long after, I received a generic fundraiser event notice for Queena at a local restaurant and I brought my kids and we met Queena and her mom. I'd been touched so deeply by this story that I couldn't stop thinking about her. I imagined what it must've been like--having your entire life ahead of you with so many possibilities and only weeks away from high school graduation .... only to be robbed of everything you'd worked for and hoped for. 

        Later, when I embraced my indie author status and kicked off my Facebook author page (which I was so hesitant to do because it meant owning up to the writer life with family and non-writer friends) Queena's mother, Vanna, noticed the page. She contacted me and expressed her interest in finding a writer to tell her daughter's story. I didn't have a doubt in my mind that I wanted to do this, to not only help this amazing family share their story, but to stretch my writerly skills into the world of memoir and non-fiction. I've read so many memoirs and have quite a passion for them, so this connection was ideal in so many ways. 



        In short, I'm privileged and honored to be writing this mother's memoir of faith and forgiveness--a mother's true story of the night her daughter's life changed forever, and the courage, love and support that's kept them pressing on despite the greatest challenges anyone could ever face.    

         As you can imagine, because of the need for round the clock care, as well as continued rehabilitation and therapy, Queena's family is always looking for ways to raise money. This memoir project will hopefully be a source of income once it's finished, published, and selling. Not only will it share Queena's and her mom's story with the world, it will also raise awareness of violence against women, brain injuries, and self-defense. This memoir is meant to have a positive message, even though the night of the attack is emotional. It's the love and support surrounding the aftermath that will warm your hearts. 

        She's come so far already! Able to walk short distances with the help of specialized equipment!

        I wanted to do whatever I could to help raise funds and raise awareness of the project, so I began a Kickstarter campaign. Now, I'm not here asking you for money, I'm simply asking for you to share this project with your audience. Post it on all your social media outlets and watch it grow with me. Even if every person who saw it chipped in $1, we'd meet our goal and prove to Queena and her mom that people out there really do care. 

        You all know how slow the publishing path can be, and although Kickstarter does not support funding charities, it does support the arts, and this memoir is an artistic project. Whatever the future of this project holds, it will be good to know there are people who already support it and are waiting to see it come to life. 

        Please grab one of these fantastic buttons that were donated by artists, Carrie Butler and DA Botta, and post them everywhere with the below link. If you can blog about it, great! If you can share in your newsletter and author pages, wonderful! This project only works if we meet our goal. Tweets, shares and posts all most welcome!

              
                                             

        https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pkhrezo/mended-by-love-a-mothers-memoir-of-faith-and-forgi


        Thank you so much for any effort you put into sharing this for this very special young lady who never got to college, or got to reach her degree in fashion design. She never even got to prom. Her dress still hangs in her closet, unworn.

        Let's show our support together. Please head to the campaign page to view Queena's video.

        Thanks so much for stopping by. Please feel free to use any of the info provided above. It's very much encouraged.

        Tell me, have you ever written a memoir? Ever wanted to? Do true life stories like this make you appreciate the human spirit even more? Or do they leave you depressed? My feeling is when we share life's tribulations, we ease each other's pain. 

        Wednesday, September 3, 2014

        IWSG- Wednesday! Indie Choices



        Happy September!

        It's that time again when writers around the blogosphere come together to share hopes and fears. Click on the pic above to get to HQ at Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and feel free to join us on the first Wednesday of every month.

        Let's talk about choices. Writers have SO many choices nowadays that it can be overwhelming. Should we go traditional or indie? Submit to a small press on our own or find an agent? Go with our original plan for a story or change it like our critique partner suggested?

        Part of maturing as a writer is understanding all of our choices and making the one that is best for each of us. Each project has its own path, and knowing the value and risks behind each choice will save us a giant headache in the end.

        If we do decide to go indie and self-publish, we have even more choices ahead of us. We are in control of everything from covers to editing to formatting. Sometimes it's scary out there because we want quality work without breaking the bank, and unfortunately in the world of freelance, not everyone is as qualified as they make themselves out to be.

        For instance, I paid for a proofreader with Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc.--one that has a great rep in the indie world. Her turn around time was awesome, but what I didn't realize is that she has a team of proofreaders and the person who proofed mine was someone who worked for her, not the editor herself. That in and of itself is no big deal, but the team member who proofed mine did not do an impressive job. I found many typos later AFTER I'd published the story, which made me have to re-upload and that is not good for rankings.


        Point being, take the time to know EXACTLY what you're getting into. Ask for referrals, look for testimonials and even email the person to get recommendations. Ask around.

        Getting started in the indie world is expensive. I won't sugar coat it. And quality work is an absolute must or we don't get respect as an authentic author.

        If you ever have questions or concerns on your own choices in the indie world, feel free to email me anytime and I'll give you my best advice... not that I'm an expert by any means, but if I can save you money or a headache waiting to happen, I most certainly will.

        Don't feel like you're bothering a fellow author when it comes to making wise choices. It's always better to ask someone you trust than to make a huge and costly mistake. Most authors in the indie world (and trad) are more than willing to share experiences and advice.

        We should feel confident in our choices.

        Many of you know my indie covers are made by Jaycee DeLorenzo at Sweet-N-Spicy Designs. She's awesome to work with and I highly recommend her. She also did my website for me and I love it.

        I recently had the pleasure of working with Brinda Berry for my ebook formatting, and she is just a gem. Efficient and excellent quality of work. She's an author too, but she's also just started her own ebook formatting side company, and I highly recommend her.


        If you're in the market for a formatter, definitely check her out. I was so happy with her work that I decided to ask her a few questions and share them with you today so you can learn more about her service. No joke, she is wicked-fast with turn around times.

        Brinda Berry at Sweet Biscuit Publishing


        PK: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

        Brinda: I’m a New Adult and Young Adult author with several releases out this year. My recent release is Chasing Luck, a New Adult romantic suspense novel. I spend my days working in higher education administration and my nights making up stories.

           PK: .   Are you self-published? Trad-pubbed? Hybrid? Tell us why you chose the path or paths you have.

        Brinda: My first young adult novels were published by a small press. I self-pubbed this year, because I felt that it was the best fit for my novel. I’ve learned a lot over the years and could make an informed leap into self-publishing.

        PK:   You format all your own ebooks, as well as some others (like mine,) what made you decide to start your own side biz?

        Brinda: I have a degree in Learning Systems Technology and love messing around with software. It’s very satisfying to be able to tweak things in my own ebooks. I like the control and cost-savings. Also, it’s nice to be able to format ARCs and even make last-minute corrections (if necessary).
        I like helping other authors at an affordable cost.


           PK: What program do you use for formatting, and how long, on average, does it take to format a standard sized novel of 50K-90K words?

        Brinda: I own a software program called Vellum. The length of the novel really doesn’t matter.  A 50K novel could possibly take longer than a 90K. The program intuitively recognizes many of the formatted elements. Occasionally I’ll have to do a manual check for correct scene breaks and other things.  This increases the length of time it takes me to generate the files. Also, I may have to ask the author for things they forgot to send to me in the manuscript file.

        PK:   You’re EXTREMELY efficient. I know because you’ve turned my work around for me within a twelve hour period. Is this something you’ve had to become proficient at or do you have some secret sauce for making it happen? Did you take a class or self-taught?

        Brinda: Secret sauce.  Just kidding! Like I said, my background is in technology. Before I got my MSE degree in technology, I worked for an IT company.  I catch on pretty quickly to the shortcuts and best practices in using software.
        Writing a novel in a word processing app is one thing, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it as a book. I’m no longer bound to paper (pun intended), so I’m just as thrilled as the author to see it magically transform into an ebook. 

         PK  Many authors are learning to format on their own nowadays, what are some of benefits of having someone like you format their work instead?

        Brinda: If you can format your own (without pulling your hair out), then you should. I love the idea of authors controlling everything about their own books. On the other hand, not everyone has the time and patience for that. Also, I hear about authors who have trouble with a specific vendor not taking the formatted file. I haven’t had trouble with the files I create.
           
          PK:  Indie authors do have choices when it comes to hiring freelancers, as there are quite a few out there. I’ve been thrilled with your work. Tell us why an indie author should consider you over someone else.   


        Brinda: I’m so glad you’ve been happy with your files! I guess the biggest advantages would be my turnaround time and the professional look to your formatted file. Also, I can easily generate files for you with specific store links for your other books. 

        Thanks, Brinda! Great info. Again, her work is amazing and super fast. If you have any questions for her, feel free to ask in the comments and we'll get them answered. And next time you need something formatted, keep Brinda in mind. 

        Thanks so much to Brinda for taking the time to share this info with us. I really love how authors can come together to help each other, which is what this community is all about. 

        Again, feel free to email me anytime if you ever need a question answered. I may not know the answer but I'll know how to find out. 

        Oh by the way ..... 

        Looks what's officially out:


        Book 2 is here! AMAZON
                                NOOK
                                iBOOKS

        Add it to GoodReads.

        There's also a giveaway happening for the next few days so be sure to enter HERE  at the bottom of the page for some groovy Doctor Who pocket watch necklaces and a Butterman swag pack. 

        How do you feel about the choices we have as writers? Do you like making them on your own, or do you prefer to have guidance? Any tips you'd like to share for making good choices? Please share ...

        Tuesday, August 19, 2014

        How I Fight the Blues and Up All Night

        Over the last week people around the interwebs have shared (and are still sharing) their own, or someone they know and love's, struggles with depression. In the wake of Robin William's untimely death, I think we're all reflecting and introspecting a bit more than usual.



        Basically, the world has been rocked. And it's an excellent opportunity to discuss a profound subject that isn't always easy to do. Our friends at #NALitChat were quick to tackle the subject of artists and depression by hosting their usual weekly Twitter chat with audio last Thursday night at 9pm Eastern. Many resources were given, so if you missed it and are interested, please check it out HERE.

        On a side note, Robin Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson's, and depression is one of the many symptoms that coincides with the disease.However, he'd struggled with depression over the years, as well as bouts of substance abuse.

        While I'm no expert on the subject, I share the same struggles as anyone else, and here is where I share a few of my basics when it comes to fighting the blues:

        * Learn to embrace sadness when it comes, but learn to recognize the difference between a healthy sadness and an infinite one. 

        What I mean is, its okay to be sad sometimes. It's part of who we are and it's an element of human nature. It seems like there's a misconception that we're not supposed to be sad so we have to nip it quickly, or find help and pretend we're okay.... put on our game face. Why do we feel the need to run from sadness? Sorrow makes us real, and it fills us with empathy for other people.

        I feel like it's healthy to embrace sadness when it comes. The only way is through, not around. And it's only after this affair with sadness that we can move on. Numbing it over as soon as it hits does nothing but teach us how to avoid real emotion. Sadness is life's reminder for us to reach out to our fellow human beings--to let us know we need each other, and that no one can do all of it alone.

        --> Important note: Sadness does and should end naturally after a certain period of time. It's organic for our brains to let go and move on in order to seek contentment. If this isn't happening on its own, this is an indicator that something is off balance inside and a doctor should be consulted. And it's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. So so many artists struggle with depression.

        Which brings me to my next point:

        * Find a support network.

        Not just any group, but one that makes you feel positive about yourself, and one who you can trust. The best groups are made up of peers who are in the same boat--with the same core beliefs and interests, and ones who are willing to share knowledge and encouragement. Here are a few of my faves:

        Insecure Writers Support Group
        #NALitChat on Twitter
        Daydreamers Anonymous
        Writers Support 4U

        There are many others--more than I can list, and these above are some that welcome ALL writers regardless of what you write, or how you're published. If a group doesn't have the vibe you're looking for, leave. It's that simple. I've been in and out of many, and it's not worth spending time in a group where you're not celebrated for who you are.

        Having a tribe of writer friends is an absolute must in this biz of writing and publishing, and if you have questions feel free to email me privately. I'm always available via email and will help however I can.

        *Find something else that grounds you.

        Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Writing is our passion, yes, but there is more to life than writing and art. Matter of fact, art only becomes better when it's a reflection of real life, so we have to be out there living. We need something that grounds us outside of our little niche worlds. For me, it's family and faith. It keeps everything in perspective.

        I heard a quote the other day that said, "Sometimes you have to step back and ask yourself, 'Am I too close?'"

        We should all make it a point to do that on a regular basis.

        * Find a way to help someone else.

        There is nothing in this world that mends a broken heart like that of helping someone else in need. It's part of shifting that perspective to the bigger picture. I try to remind myself when I'm feeling the blues how many other people out there would trade places with me in a heartbeat. And it doesn't matter how bad off you may think you have it, there is always someone else out there who has it worse.

        Go to a nursing home, or children's home, or hospital and you will see them. Those people would give anything to wallow in the misery of their artist's life in lieu of what they're currently going through.

        There is always something we can do for others, and when we do, it's a natural release of endorphins that create happiness. It's how our bodies are made up. And while those who suffer from a chemical imbalance may not experience these natural highs, it doesn't hurt to try.

        *Soak up the sun.

        I know, I know--easy for me to say when I live in the Sunshine State. But the sun reaches every part of our world--some more than others--and the key is to know the best times to get your dose of serotonin. It's another natural vitamin that helps fight the blues and it's right outside available to us most every day. It's so easy to stay locked away in our writer's caves creating and keeping deadlines, but our health is so much more important. Even if it's only fifteen minutes a day, make the time to soak up a little sunshine. One of life's natural mood enhancers.

        * Forget perfection. 

        It just doesn't exist. Killing ourselves trying to find it is moot. I read an awesome quote the other day that just totally hit home: "There is no perfect book--only lessons learned and the next book."

        How true is that?? We can only take what we've learned from the last book we wrote and write another one and hope it's a little better. And this applies to every writer at any stage of their career.

        *Exercise

        I try to bike 30 minutes every day. I walk the neighborhood twice a day with the dog. And I do lots of stretches throughout the day. There are days when I don't want to do any of it, but I force myself because I know it always makes me feel better. It's part of that bigger perspective thing, and it forces me to concentrate on my body other than my thoughts and deadlines and daily stresses.

        So these are just a few ways I fight the blues. And I feel them same as anyone else.

        Please reach out if you ever find yourself in a deep dark place. Help is all around, but we don't always know when someone needs our help. It's human nature to need other people, and we all feel better inside when we're able to help others.

        Off the subject, but here's something I'm excited about:


        Revealing the cover for a new adult romance box set that's sure to keep you up all night reading.It's launching on iBooks for only .99. Wowsers! That's 10 amazing authors and fantastic reads for a buck! (with yours truly included)

        You can preorder only on iBooks HERE.

        Add it to your GoodReads list HERE.

          UP ALL NIGHT will keep you up ‘til dawn with romantic stories featuring whip-smart college guys, bad boy rock stars, heroic marines, a sexy teacher, and a smokin' hot snowboarder.

        Together, these books have earned more than 1,600 five-star ratings and usually sell for over $30. Each book is a standalone, first in its series, and the set includes two NYT and USA Today bestselling authors.

        You Make Me, Blurred Lines #1
        New York Times bestselling author Erin McCarthy 
        Caitlyn's perfect world with fiancé Ethan is shattered when her first love Heath returns to Maine after a mysterious four-year absence. Heath wants her back, but Ethan doesn't want to let her go. And when one love allows her to breathe, but the other feels as essential to her life as air, how does she choose between them?

        One and Only, Canton #1
        Viv Daniels
        Tess lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. But when she transfers to her dream college and reunites with her first love, she begins to break the rules.

        Tattoo Thief, Tattoo Thief #1
        Heidi Joy Tretheway
        Beryl doesn't know why Gavin Slater trashed his apartment, abandoned his dog and fled the country. But as his house sitter, she must pick up the pieces for the white-hot rock star to find out why he's running--and what can bring him back.

        One Broke Girl, Edgewood Falls #1
        Rhonda Helms
        When Anna's mother disappears with the family fortune, Anna and her father must return to their small Ohio hometown--a temporary situation, she vows. But finding work, caring for her depressed father and locating her mom are harder than Anna anticipated. Not to mention a sexy male kindergarten teacher who makes Anna question everything she thought she wanted...

        Random, Going the Distance #1
        Lark O'Neal
        Jess Donovan wants a better life than the one she was born to, but how do you figure how what you want when life has never been anything but a series of hurdles? When mysterious, sexy snowboarder Tyler Smith shows up in her life, Jess doesn't know if he's an opportunity for love--or her downfall.

        Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc., Butterman Travel, Inc. #1
        PK Hrezo
        A futuristic romance along the winding path of time. It's the year 2069 and even though eighteen-year-old Bianca Butterman is heir to the family time travel biz, she never expected to be earning her official time-craft license with golden boy pop superstar, Tristan Helms, in tote. Her life is about to get a lot more complicated ... and exciting.

        Come Back To Texas, Twelve Beats in a Bar #1
        KK Hendin
        Hayley and Nate had the perfect love story before life crashed through it. Now, three years, one deployment, and a few YouTube videos later, everything's about to change.

        The Opposite of Nothing, Copeland College #1
        Shari Slade
        When socially-awkward campus DJ Callie Evans falls for her bad boy BFF, she doesn't tell him. Instead, she creates a fake online profile and "catfishes" him. The closer they get, online and off, the more she realizes she has to confess. And risk losing him forever.

        The Long Game, American Gypsy #1
        J.L. Fynn
        When gypsy con artist Shay Reilly meets co-ed Spencer, sparks fly. Problem: Shay's plans of revenge against Spencer's father stands between them and their budding romance.

        Undeclared, Woodlands #1
        USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick
        Grace Sullivan exchanged letters with a deployed Marine most of her teen years. She fell in love with him but was devastated to learn her feelings weren't reciprocated. Two years later when he shows up at her posh Midwest college claiming they belong together, she is wary and worried ... and falling in love again?

        Thanks so much for stopping by! Please know I'm always available to answer questions via email. 

        How do you fight the blues when they hit? Has it ever seemed longer than normal? What's your best advice for someone going through a dark time? I love hearing from you....