Beyond the ‘Zon

Hello! I’ve made a decision, and have it almost fully implemented: I’m going wide with all my titles. Yes, from here on out I am no longer in the KU (kindle Unlimited) program, which required Amazon exclusivity. Now my books are available at Barnes & Noble, kobo, All Romance, and other major retailers. (I’ve updated my “books” page with buy links)

I’m not sure if this is a good choice or a bad one, I guess we never know that about any decision until it is too late, right? I’m just hoping this isn’t a mistake. But I suppose, if it is, it can be reversed.

I’m kind of sorry to be out of KU, only because I loved the idea of an amazon subscription service. As a reader, I think that kind of thing is fantastic. But as a writer, having to be exclusive with one retailer is tough. It means if I don’t get enough “reads” on the subscription, the program is not really worthwhile. I wonder about non-exclusive sites like 24 symbols and  scribd (which I have a few books on!) and how long they will last. It seems most of the subscription sites have been short lived, especially the ones that paid authors well.

If you’re a reader, and you prefer a retailer other than Amazon, here are my pages on Barnes & NoblekoboAll Romance e-Books

If you are an author, what are your thoughts on KU now? Is it still working for you? Or are you out, as well?

Finding the time to write

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeHello! Welcome to yet another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post🙂 Today’s topic is “How do you find the time to write in your busy day?” Visit the Main Page and hop around to all the other great posts on this topic! And if you are an insecure writer yourself, join the hop! It’s fun and very supportive.

I have to admit to not writing much lately. Part of it has been due to busy days. Summer vacation for my kids means no real breaks for me. Not that I’m complaining, really. I spent my summer camping, going to the beach, and doing all kinds of fun stuff with my two favorite people in the world: my babies❤

But another reason for my not finding time to write has just been lack of drive to do so. I’ve found myself wondering why I even do it. Why create things not many people are interested in reading? No matter how much I love my work, and no matter how much I try to “write for myself,” I have to admit it often feels pointless.

My most “successful” story so far is Bound, a m/m Romance about a man in a wheelchair and his return to mild BDSM. It’s a free story, which is why I put the quotes around successful. I still consider it a success, because people have enjoyed it and I’m proud of it, but it’s not a money maker. It wasn’t written to be a money maker, though, it was written as part of a free anthology. So there is no disappointment in its lack of earnings, only pride in its popularity. If I could re-create that feeling with my other books—that distance from the “commercial” market—then maybe I could regain some of the joy in writing. If anyone knows the trick to this, please, please tell me! In the meantime, I’m fighting the worry that what I write is not marketable (because it usually isn’t) and that has been a real hindrance to my desire to make time for writing.

I’m hoping to start a new job soon, though, only part time but I hope it might give some structure to my days and maybe that will get me writing again. The kids are back in school😦 and the summer is nearly over, so the beach is less of a distraction, too. I’m confident I can make some time for writing again.

What about you? Have you managed to make a writing schedule? Or do you write in small bits, whenever you can spare a moment? Do you struggle to find time to write, or do you make it a priority? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below (click on the title of this post if you’re on my main page & comments are not visible) and tell me about your writing.

What was your first writing?

Hello! Welcome to another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post🙂 It seems these are all I post, lately… Sorry about that. I will try to get more active in posting to this blog.Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

This week’s IWSG question is: “What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?”

My first piece of writing was an erotic short story I called “guilty pleasures.” It was pretty awful. I kept thinking about it, though, and I couldn’t stop writing it. The weird thing was that even though it was a very smutty piece of writing, I didn’t really feel very aroused about it. (Sorry if that is TMI.) It just came to me as a powerful little story and so I wrote it down. I’d never written any fiction, at least not seriously, before. But this story I did feel kind of serious about, and I published it myself on Amazon, because I could.🙂

I never told anyone about it, although I had to tell my husband. I had to explain what I was doing on the computer so much! LOL! When I sold my first copy, I was sure he had bought it. I confronted him, and he reminded me that he didn’t even know my pen name. That feeling of knowing that a complete stranger was reading the crazy (and embarrassing) words I’d written was probably the weirdest emotion I’d ever experienced. casual man acting as a fortune teller

I went on to write two follow-up novellas, and one of them was essentially a m/m romance. That one (honest desires) sold quite a bit, and that success led me to focus more on m/m stuff. But my heart still beats strongest for menage stories.❤

I unpublished Guilty Pleasures a while later. (Though I did leave it out there for much too long. If you bought the first version: I’m so, so sorry.) Last year I revised it and re-published it under my “new” erotica name, AC Bishop. So if you want to read it, you can now find it here. No one ever buys it anymore. It is a very dirty fairy-tale type story, m/m/f menage, a little on the kinky side. I probably should be way more embarrassed than I am about it!

Anyway, what about you? What was the first thing you ever “seriously” wrote? What happened to it? I’d love to hear!🙂

The best reviews

Hi! This is a post for the insecure writer’s support group. Join us! Visit the main page here to browse the other postings and sign up. Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

Today’s question is: “What is the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?” 

What an awesome thing to consider.🙂 I don’t often think about the positive responses my writing garners, and I really should.

The things I treasure most are the e-mails readers have sent me. Mainly because they are unsolicited (as opposed to a review on a book blog or an ARC review, which I’ve outright asked for) and so I feel much more strongly about those little encouraging notes, even if they are short or vague, because I know they represent a genuine appreciation for my work. Those are probably the best things anyone has ever said about my writing, really. If you are a reader who has written me, or another author, thank you.❤ You are fantastic.

The best line from a review I ever received publicly was this one:

 It’s hard to say why I gave it five stars, other than I just really enjoyed it completely in a way I rarely do.

I know that doesn’t seem the most glowing recommendation, and indeed I have better lines (even from that review there are more positive lines) but this one little sentence was the most flattering thing to me. Maybe because this person is a reviewer who reads a lot of books in my genre, maybe because it was unsolicited, maybe because this line is just so honest and simple and real. I don’t know. But when I need to feel better about myself, I pull up this review, and that one line always makes me feel best.

How about you? What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your work? I’d love to hear from you🙂

Adventures in meal subscription boxes

Okay, I know I haven’t shared any “Sunday Dinner” posts for a while. What can I say, life is hectic! So hectic, I decided to try one of those food crate subscription things. After looking through some sites and talking to some people, I settled on Marley Spoon as a first try.

I went for the “family” plan, which is intended to serve two adults and two kids under 12. So far we’ve done three meals (one week) and here, dear readers, are my findings!

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The ingredients for meal #1: skillet beef & rice
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My kids LOVED this!

First, the negatives:

  1. Small serving sizes. Now, I have spoken to other people who say they have plenty of leftovers, but those people are on the “2 adults” plan, not the family one. Maybe my family are just big eaters? I don’t know. All I know is, there haven’t been any leftovers and I kind of like leftovers. Also, it’s only been one adult and 2 kids eating these and there still were no leftovers, so I’m not sure the servings are “full meal” size. At least not for us.
  2. A bit pricey. I could definitely go to the store and get the same ingredients for significantly less money.
  3. Not a ton of vegetarian options. Possibly other services have more though. My kids and husband eat meat, and combined with the fact the servings are small so it really only serves the three of them it works out. But I’d like more veggie choices.
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Meal #2 prep: tomato & feta bake. One ciabatta roll for 4 people??? I added another one from my own stash, and it was still a small casserole.
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This looks kind of gross but it was fabulous. I will absolutely make this again.

The positives:

  1. New ideas. I don’t know about you, but I cook the same dozen things over and over and over. This subscription has given me some new ideas and pushed me to try some new techniques.
  2. Fun family activity. I decided if we were going to splurge on this it was going to be a family activity. So I’ve pretty much been having my kids cook these meals, with me as supervision. They’ve been loving it! And because they’ve made it, they are more willing to try these new foods, which is pretty awesome.wp-1466718186141.jpg
  3. Easy and fast to prepare. Nothing has taken more than 35 minutes to make, and everything is super easy to do. My 9 & 11 year old have been cooking this stuff, if that tells you anything. Clear step-by-step directions and everything is pre-measured, with just enough prep to make you feel like you’re actually cooking.
  4. No “what’s for dinner” stress. This is possibly the biggest “pro” of these things. God, I hate having to figure out what to make every night!! This takes a few of those decisions away and eases the stress a lot.
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Meal #3: sausage & beans with greens
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This definitely didn’t come out as good looking as the recipe card photo. But everyone seemed to enjoy it.

So overall, I think I will keep this subscription for a few months, and maybe try another company, too. It’s not something I’ll do forever, but for now I’m enjoying it.

How about you? Have you tried any of these? Blue Apron? Hello Fresh? What did you think?

Pride… and Prejudice

When I heard of the Orlando massacre, I was at a bridal shower, celebrating love. At a table with my daughter and in-laws, I put the news aside, because I could. I talked instead about the bride’s new family and the beautiful cake and the lovely weather. The tragic news was glossed over in a “that’s so sad” kind of offhand way. I was glad. I knew when I got the chance I would take to social media and the news sites and learn all the horrible details, but I admit I was happy to retreat into my privilege for the moment and speak of lighter things.

Then the conversation turned to politics, and I found myself trying to keep calm while I explained that no, men pretending to be transgender women are not a problem in our bathrooms, and yes, I know this for a fact. I think I shifted their opinions a bit, but it’s possible they agreed just to keep me quiet.

Later, bile rose in my throat and my face was hot as a table full of well-dressed and well-to-do ladies spoke about how they’d consider voting for Trump “if he could just keep his mouth shut!” I would like to say I was brave and spoke up again, but I just drank my mimosa and kept quiet. I’m sorry. I wanted to, but I couldn’t find any words. I was afraid.

Not afraid of my in-laws, but afraid for my daughter and the world she will inherit. Afraid for all of us, those marching in pride parades and those walking to classes and those in the “wrong place at the wrong time” everywhere. Afraid because I saw hate. Not loud, violent hate, but a much more dangerous hate: quiet, refined, and confident. Hate backed up by money and power and privilege, hate that does not believe it is hate at all. I wish I had spoken up. I would have pointed out how all these things are connected: the violent crimes against gay people and the targeting of transgender bathroom rights and the bigotry of political candidates. I wish I could have made some intelligent argument or insightful quip, but I had nothing except fear and sadness inside me.

Later, I went online to learn all the horrible details of the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. A little less secure in my privilege, I cried at the pictures and details, and got angry at the ignorant bigoted comments I saw. Again, I felt afraid for all of us, at the hate and fear in our world right now. Terror is a good word for what happened, and for what I feel. What will happen at the upcoming pride events around the country? What will happen at the gay clubs downtown? Who is an enemy? How can we tell? Is there any way to stop these attacks against the LGBT community?CkwpDbnW0AAa6FV

I don’t know, of course. But I do know that we all need to stand against homophobia. And we need to call this massacre what it is: a hate crime against LGBT people. Not a random attack, a targeted one. Fed by hate and nurtured by the kind of political ideologies that preach bigotry and xenophobia. This massacre was a horrifically violent expression of homophobia, but unfortunately homophobia is all too common.

The first Pride parade was a reaction to Stonewall, a commemoration and continuation of the bravery demonstrated by the rioters. Pride might be a celebration, but it is not all party, it is also -still- an act of bravery. A time to stand up, afraid but not alone, and show pride in something widely condemned. It seems to me the strength of Pride, and the solidarity of the LGBT community it represents, is needed now more than ever. I know the LGBT community will stand together in this time of sadness and fear, but I hope (so hard) that non-LGBT people will, too. If ever there was a time to be an ally, it is now.

Equality Florida is offering services, and raising money to support the victims, if you are able to donate please visit their page. Rather than reading post after post about the murderer, consider learning about the victims, and celebrating their lives instead. And if you are in a position to speak up against homophobia, no matter how casual or “harmless” it appears, please try to do so. Maybe with love we can fight this hate.❤

This month’s insecurity: Am I annoying???

I probably am. Ugh, yes, I am definitely annoying.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThis is an insecure writer’s support group post, please join us if you are an insecure writer! Visit the main page here to sign up or read the other participant’s posts. This is a blog hop🙂

So I’ve been thinking lately about all the people in my life who’ve gotten to know me, and then bailed out. All the failed or faded friendships. All the internet “blocks” and de-friendings. I know I should not dwell on that, I should instead focus on those wonderful, patient, and kind souls who actually like me and have stuck around, but I can’t help it!

I obsess over what I did to make them dislike me so, what wrong things I said. Was it one thing? Or just my personality in general? I wish I knew, so I could improve myself, or even just apologize. Maybe their reasons are dumb, and I won’t feel so bad! I don’t know.

If I AM annoying, how could I tell? Is there like a maximum number of enemies you can have and still be a decent person? How many de-friendings is normal?

It does have a negative impact on my writing, because I start to wonder if my poor social skills are translating into my character’s interactions. Are my characters just as dorky as I am? Is my dialogue obnoxious?

I’d love to hear if anyone else worries about this stuff. Also if anyone has tips or advice about limiting this particular kind of social anxiety. Comment below! (You might have to click the blog title to open this post again & comment)