Over at Love Bytes chatting about Beating the Burnout.

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Hello all! Today’s my monthly column over at Love Bytes and I’m chatting a little about burnout and how important it is to step away from the computer and do something different, something to soothe the heart, mind, and soul. Authors aren’t the only ones in danger of burnout. So what do you do to get away from it all? Drop by and share.

Beating the Burnout

 

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Fabulous Five Blog Hop

Fab 5 blog hopHello all! I’ve been tagged to answer these five fabulous questions on the Fabulous Five Blog Hop by the lovely Anne Barwellauthor of gay romance. Anne’s published with Dreamspinner Press with titles including Shadowboxing, A Knight to Remember, and the upcoming Winter’s Duet.

1. What am I working on?

Right now I’m working on Healing Hunter’s Heart, book two in the Little Bite of Love series–the first being An Intrepid Trip to Love. It’s been on the schedule for a long time but was temporarily put on hold while I worked on the first four THIRDS books. With those completed, I’m back on getting Hunter and Ari together again for their happily ever after.

I’m also working on some THIRDS series flash fiction and Against the Grain which is the fifth book in the THIRDS series from Ash and Cael’s POV. There’s also edits for Rack & Ruin, the third THIRDS book (due out in Nov) and Vixen’s Valor the third North Pole City Tales book (due out in Dec). A Rose By Any Other Name is out in less than three weeks! It’s been a pretty busy year.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I think every author has a unique voice, including me. I believe my readers know what to expect from my stories. There’s always a sweet romance with plenty of humor. I don’t think I could write something that didn’t have some humor in it. I love writing banter and comedy. Always happily ever afters, even if the guys have to stumble along the way to get there. I also tend to write stories with pretty large casts.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’ve been writing romance since I can remember, but I started writing m/m romance through the historical genre because I love the 20s and 30s, but it was tough finding stories with gay characters of the time that didn’t end in tragedy. I wanted the fellas to get their happily ever afters. I found Whistling in the Dark by Tamara Allen by accident on Amazon while browsing. It was one of my first m/m romances and it stayed with me long after, not to mention inspired me to write my own historical m/m romance. I write what I do so my characters get their happily ever after and maybe touch a few hearts a long the way.

I’ve broken out into other genres because I love writing whatever catches my fancy. I also write to entertain. To sweep folks away to another time or world for a little while. Make them smile, laugh, and maybe shed a few tears. We all need to get away for a while sometimes.

4. How does my writing process work?

I get my best writing done on a deadline. Yep, I’m one of those people. It took me a while to figure out my pace and what I wanted to accomplish. Starting this year, I’ve been writing full-time, so I have a schedule I put together of what I’m writing and when. This helps me keep true series books especially from being released too far apart, which is a mistake I’ve made in the past. When inspiration strikes, I start asking questions, start listening to characters who start speaking to me. I begin planning and plotting, developing characters before I move onto a rough outline of what’s meant to happen when. If I get stuck, I work on dialogue which helps me get unstuck.  I only work on one book at a time, unless I’m editing.  There’s usually a lot of coffee and *headdesk* moments involved.

5. Who’s next on the blog hop?

Some personal faves and awesome authors whose books I love: Lex ChasePiper Vaughn,  Kim FieldingMichael Rupured, and Sarah Madison

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Heigh ho, Heigh ho, it’s off to write I go

Hello all! As you may have noticed, things are starting to get a little busy around here, and they’re about to get busier. This year, my writing career has officially kicked off. I’ve had to make some sacrifices, but certain circumstances have allowed me the opportunity to write full-time. It’s terrifying yet exciting. Like any job, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Unlike every other job I’ve had in the past, this is the first time I don’t wake up in the morning with a groan. (They don’t call it an evil day job for nothing!)

small_7829361646A lot of folks don’t understand this crazy life of mine, especially friends of the family. They think I lounge around all day in my pajamas, chilling, and doing little else. Although I may indeed lounge around in my yoga pants or pajamas, I’m doing a heck of a lot more than chilling. A part of this misconception has to do with the culture I grew up in. To a lot of these old-school folks, unless you’re doctor, nurse, lawyer, secretary, in pharmaceuticals, or just making a ton of cash, it’s not a real job. It can get frustrating, but I’ve learned not to pay attention to it.

When I decided I was going to take the plunge and do this full-time, I knew I’d be giving it my all. I work from 8 a.m. until midnight, making sure to take appropriate breaks, play with my puppy, make human contact, get exercise, and eat healthy and so on. I take the weekends off, though sometimes when I have a tight deadline I might have to work. See writing full-time, means writing all the time, and I’m not talking about writing books. Before I was published, I wrote, so I’ve been building a book list, plotting out stories, and starting manuscripts.

I now have a writing schedule and tentative release schedule for this year and the whole of next year. This year the releases start in July through Dec (except for Oct), next year they start in Jan through Dec, so there (hopefully) won’t be any big gaps between releases. I’ve learned a lot in the two years I’ve been published and I’m putting that knowledge to use. Like I said before, writing isn’t the half of it. So what’s my to-do list look like? Brace yourself.

  • Edits for Blood & Thunder (we’re on round 3, followed by Galley edits with a tentative release date of Aug 4th)
  • Edits for A Rose By Any Other Name (we’re on round 1, release in Sept)
  • Write blog posts for Hell & High Water release day party
  • Write 10 blog posts for Hell & High Water Blog tour
  • Edits start on Rack & Ruin end of June
  • Rise & Fall manuscript due July 1st
  • Set up he Blood & Thunder Blog Tour & Cover Reveal
  • Facebook chats in July & Aug
  • Twitter Takeover in July
  • Finish the THIRDS website
  • Sort out GRL swag
  • Writing deadlines Jul-Dec
  • Blogging

Aside all that, there’s the emails that come in, my social media accounts I need to manage, and maintain a presence on, several other guest posts and I’m sure there’s stuff I’m forgetting.

small_6574317555I know what some of you may be thinking–those who aren’t hyperventilating–I don’t have to do a good deal of what’s on that list, or I could release less books, but like I said, this is my career. When I worked in management, I worked my butt off, so why would I give any less to something I’m so deeply passionate about? I love writing fiction and love sharing those stories with readers.

Despite all the work that goes into it, I love what I do and I’m lucky to have the support I do–the ones who don’t think I should get a real job. I also have an amazing publisher that works things through with me. If anything gets to be too much, they’re there to help. I make sure to rest and take care of myself, though I have plenty of amazing folks who remind me to come up for air should I need it. So yes, it’s getting busy around here. I hope you’ll join me along for the ride!

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photo credit: fiddleoak via photopin cc
photo credit: thomas.leuther via photopin cc

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Weekly Update & Fur Baby Pics

Hello all! So I’m a bit behind on Rack & Ruin, THIRDS book 3 but for a good reason. I’ve just had a little bundle of adorableness arrive. His name is Olly and he’s a seven week old pup. The breeder was supposed to have given Olly over at eight weeks but for personal reasons had to give the pups away a week ahead of schedule. He’s tiny. A toy poodle/dachshund mix.

2014-04-04 Olly Sleepings450

Today’s his fourth day with me and he’s settling in nicely, though as you can imagine, pup wants to be with his new mommy at all times and protests to his crate training. He thinks it’s play time all the time and I’m resisting coddling him because I don’t want him to develop bad doggie habits. There’s potty training going on though he seems to be a quick learner and by day two he knew exactly where to go to find his water and food bowls. He answers to his name by bouncing over to you and he’s even scratched at the back door to go outside.

2014-04-04 Olly450

It’s hard to get work done with that little face staring up at you but I’m learning to resist the puppy kryptonite. Hopefully I can catch up this week with major word countage during the day. Olly’s forcing me to be a morning person which is quite a feat considering how often I have to get up in the night to let him out of his crate to go potty. And then of course there’s the hour or so of protesting once I put him back in.

2014-04-04 OllyBby

Okay, on to the update. There’s still time to enter my giveaway over at The Hat Party. Contest ends this Thursday, April 10th at 11:59pm (EST). Just drop by and leave a comment for a chance to win.

On Friday, April 11th is my RainbowCon Blog Tour post over at Joyfully Jay’s and I’m also giving away a swag bag of goodies. So make sure to check out the post and leave a comment.

This week at the Purple Rose Tea House we have guest authors Julie Lynn Hayes and B. Snow with chats on everything from comedy to cats.

Well that’s it for today! There will be a THIRDS update this week.

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In His Corner and Writing Update

In His Corner CCochetHello all! As some of you may have noticed, In His Corner is currently unavailable. Its one year contract with Torquere Press came to an end a few days ago, as my story was part of their Charity Sip Blitz. So what’s going to happen to my little story now? Well, I hope to make it not so little, and get it re-published. Why? Because the original word limit was 8000, and as I was writing it, Jessie and Eli really grew on me–as my fellas have a habit of doing.

I’d done a good deal of research regarding 1920’s boxing, much of which I didn’t really get to use, and I kept thinking about how much more I could do with the story, how it could really benefit from being longer.

While I loved the short story, I only just managed to dip into Eli and Jessie’s personalities, not to mention their history. With Jessie especially, I felt there was a great deal more to him than what I was able to fit in with the original word count. I really want to go more in-depth with him and what he went through when he lost everything, how it wore him down, stripped him of his confidence, and then how everything changed when Eli came back into his life.

Once I wrap up some of the stories I’m working on, I hope to give Eli and Jessie the opportunity to tell their story without a word count limit. I’m thinking novella, but who knows, it may even become full length. For those who enjoyed the short story, don’t worry, none of it will be lost, it will just be incorporated into the new story but with a lot more added in.  Boxing during the 1920s was fascinating, with its legendary figures, celebrities attending matches, and the gangsters and bootleggars of the time trying to muscle in on the action. There was excitement a plenty, and I hope to capture a little bit of that.

On the writing front, Johnnie’s third edits are going back today, so *fingers crossed* next should be the galley. I’ve got some fun stuff to share with you regarding the book as soon as it hits Dreamspinne’s ‘Coming Soon’ page which I hope will be… er coming soon. I imagine Jack’s book will be in soon for first edits as well. I don’t have a release date for Johnnie’s book as of yet, but I’ll be sure to let you all know when I do. I’ll also be posting more about the story soon, so stay tuned!

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Tuesday Talks: Relationship Drama-Rama

TuesdayTalksCCochet180Hello all! Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Talks. Today I’m rambling on about something that comes up quite often in reviews: Conflict. In every book, the characters face conflict, whether internal or external, sometimes one or the other, at times both. When it comes to writing romance, one conflict which is usually a given is the relationship between the main characters. Will they get together? Won’t they? If they’re an established couple, does something come between them?

Then among the characters relationship there’s external conflict as well. Someone’s trying to kill them, people are out to separate them, aliens have landed and the fate of the human race is down to Carl and his sexy lover. I’ve been told, the more conflict the better, but sometimes, the main conflict in the romance is simply the relationship and the struggles the protagonists have to face to attain their happily ever after.

I’ve read plenty of romances where the main focus is the relationship. Heck, I’ve got a few myself. One thing I’m seeing is reviews where folks are saying something akin to: there was no conflict, or the story was boring, nothing happened, it was just about the characters and their relationship. Obviously it also comes down to the reader.

If the characters are well written and I enjoy them, I’ll be drawn into their world and care about what happens to them and their relationship. There doesn’t need to be a whole lot of external conflict or three separate plots going on. I’m happy to read about their relationship and how they get together. Some folks believe as it’s romance, the main focus should be the romantic relationship, while others believe there needs to be more to keep the story interesting.

What do you think? How much conflict do you believe a romance novel should have? Should it always include action? External conflict? Angst?  

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Tuesday Talks: Between Plotters and Pantsers

TuesdayTalksCCochet180As a writer, one of the questions I’m asked often is in regards to plotting. “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” What if you’re a combination of both? I can safely say I fall somewhere in between. I don’t plan out every single detail before I start my story, nor do I sit down in front of a blank document and allow my muse to take the wheel. Heaven knows where I’d end up.

My method of writing has been changing and evolving since writing my first short story for publication. I was once a panster, but I soon discovered I needed some form of structure. Before I start writing any story, I allow myself time to brainstorm my plot, get to know my characters, research my setting, and figure out POVs. I ask myself what my story is going to be about, what’s going to happen, what’s the tone, then I start collecting information into my Evernote, everything from inspirational imagery, character descriptions, to maps. After I’ve done this, I start a loose outline.

CCOutlineInitially, it’s more a list. At first, it’s very basic, a rough sketch of what’s happening to who and when, conflicts, resolutions, and timing. There’s pages and pages of information, of ideas, and snippets of conversations. Later, as I start developing my story, and as my characters become fleshed out, I start adding to this list, removing, changing, and eventually I start breaking off chapters, expanding on those until I’ve planned out each one. Here’s an example of an early outline for Johnnie’s book (click image for full view). It might look like a list of random words to you, but I know exactly what they represent. Sorry, no spoilers, you cheeky monkey.

I have a notebook for each book or series, and I start everything out handwritten. When my list starts growing, I start typing it up. Soon I end up with a nice little synopsis of my whole book, yet at the same time, I’ve given myself room to let inspiration flow. If my characters decide to take a different direction, I go back to my list/outline and make the necessary changes.

I try to write straight through when I can, but if a particular scene comes to me, or inspiration hits, I never put it off. If I ever sent anyone a WIP they would run screaming in the other direction. It’s usually a mass of random chapters, paragraphs, and scenes with highlighted bits, a bunch of *** and notes to myself, but that’s fine because it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but me. It’s a first draft, and the last thing I want to do is interrupt my flow.

With my historical stories, I research enough details beforehand to give me a sense of time and place, the bigger picture, while smaller details are researched later. I tend to work out big emotional scenes first because they have a habit of sweeping me away which helps with flow.

I need some structure to guide me toward that HEA and keep me from wandering aimlessly, but I still need the freedom to let my characters surprise me, and well, these fellas have a way of changing their own destinies.

Conclusion: Write however it feels right for you and don’t think because you’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time that you can’t change. There’s no right way or wrong way, as long as you get there in the end.

What about you? Are you a plotter, pantser, or both?

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And I say Hey, What’s Goin’ On?

hmHello all! Another month has gone by and some of you may be wondering if I’ll ever have another book out. Well I sure hope so! With so many new releases coming out every day, it’s easy to feel left behind. My last release with a publisher was Mending Noel for Christmas. It might all seem a little quiet on the western front, but I assure you, behind the scenes, it’s non-stop. Sometime I have to remind myself what I’ve actually accomplished, because it’s all too easy for me to forget when there’s so much I want to get done. Taking a moment to think about it, I haven’t done too bad since the new year started, and I feel I’ve been making up for lost time–a good part of that is thanks to strict deadlines and mass organization.

I started off my newbie writing career as a full blown pantser, and although there’s still a good deal of that involved, I no longer write everything on the fly. Julius’s book, A Rose by Any Other Name was completely outlined from beginning to end, everything worked out. I also made myself work on solely that story until it was done. No jumping around to two or three stories at once. I had planned on 60k and ended up with 96,415 words. I submitted it in mid-January, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer before I hear back, though I know the publishing house that I’ve sent it to have been very busy.

Next, I wrote The Only Star for Remi & Hawk’s 1 year anniversary. It came in at 17, 419 words. I also created the cover for it which meant finding stock photos and putting it all together.

After that came An Intrepid Trip to Love which came in at 35,168 words, as well as the cover, plus I managed to squeeze in 20, 502 words of Hunter’s book. I had to pause that to finish Johnnie’s book.

Johnnie’s book, I did the same as Julius’s. Outlined everything, worked on only that. I gave myself a strict deadline, used a handy new spreadsheet the lovely Svanja Liv created for NaNoWriMo. Although I’ve yet to take part in NaNoWriMo (I plan to change that this year), I thought I would give the spreadsheet a try. I’m so glad I did. This little spreadsheet has worked wonders for me. It’s helped with my motivation in a lot of ways.  I’m very visual and if I can see how I’m doing, it makes me want to do more. Seeing the word count in Microsoft Word wasn’t enough. On this spreadsheet, not only can I put in my writing goals , but seeing that running tally rise while the words left went down, as well as the progress bar,  well, it was great. The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe came in at 68,465 words and was submitted May 31st. I’ll keep you posted on any replies.

My next deadline is for July 1st and that’s for Jack Frost’s story. He and Rudy were in Mending Noel. I had decided last Christmas that these fellas would get their own book this Christmas. So stay tuned for more on that. After Jack’s novella, I hope to finish off Hunter’s book and submit that. So, what are the figures?

2 novels submitted: 164, 880 words. 2 free novellas written and posted: 52, 587 words. 2 works in progress started: 20, 502 words.

Since Jan (not including blog posts or guest posts) 139,551 words written.

By the end of the year, I hope *fingers crossed* to have 3 new releases.

I scare myself sometimesAside all the writing, there’s also been guest posting and day to day shenanigans. All in all, not a bad year so far. I have big plans for a new series I’ve been working on for the last two years on and off. It’s 4 books initially. I’m hoping to get it ready and scheduled for release early next year. I’m very excited but it’s all a little hush hush at the mo.

Now my only thought is, if all my stories get accepted, will they all come back for editing at the same time? I think we both know the answer to that one.

x Charlie

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Techno Trauma: Part 1

Welcome to part 1 of Techno Trauma, a series on the various programs and apps I use as an author–though most aren’t author specific and can be used for everything from recipes to shopping. I admit, I’m not as techno-savvy as I once was. Probably because I just don’t have the time to learn all these new programs that keep popping up. As much as I like keeping up with the latest gadget, I’m also partial to the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, as an author in this fast-paced industry, I can’t afford to be left behind. We never stop learning.

For writers, there are countless programs meant to make our lives easier. I don’t always go looking for these programs, because a lot of the time, in trying to make my writing life easier, I end up complicating it. If I invest time in a program, it’s usually on someone’s recommendation or because I happen to stumble upon it and a light shines from above when I learn my way around it in a few minutes. For writing, I use Microsoft Word because it’s familiar, I know my way around, so why change it if it works for me? Obviously everyone will have their favorites programs and apps, but these are my faves and what works for me.

Google Chrome – Yeah, I know, Google evil, taking over the interwebs, blah, blah, blah. The fact is, as annoying as Google can be at times, their apps are easy to use, and the way everything connects makes things easier for me as an author. With Google Chrome, I can have apps I use on a daily basis sitting there when I open my browser. Just one click away. Here’s what my browser looks like when it opens (click image for full-size view):

Charlies browser

As you can see, aside the gorgeous theme created by Cath Kidston, these are my most used apps at the moment. When I click on my Gmail icon, I’m already logged in and there’s my email. On the top right hand side, you’ll see a little Y! icon. Clicking on it will take me to my Ymail address which I have set up solely for my yahoo groups. That way I don’t miss all the lovely posts from folks, and my Gmail doesn’t bust something from all the emails. I have 5 email accounts, and no, it doesn’t get confusing, because 3 of them are Gmail and all accessible under one button, which also happens to be next to the Google + button which notifies me when someone adds me to their circle.

But why so many emails? It helps me keep track of everything, prioritize, and not miss anything. Keeping separate emails has been one of the best things I’ve ever done in my world of crazy organization. And aside the rare occasion when something goes to spam, so far it’s worked out great. Let me break it down.

  • Gmail 1: For business use. This email is for my communication between me and my publishers, where work-related receipts are kept, this is my personal author email address. Notifications from Goodreads and my author website come here, as well as my website backups. Emails that have to do with my writing and its process, uses this address.
  • Gmail 2: For personal author use. This email address is the one I use to chat with author friends, my lovely beta, reviewers, where my subscriptions to author, review, and writing websites come. I also receive Facebook notifications here.
  • Gmail 3: Personal. This is the address I use to chat to friends and family. It’s under my real name, and is also where Netflix tells me what DVD has just shipped. Also, this way when I sign up for a shopping website or anything, it doesn’t get shuffled between important emails.
  • Email 4: Official Charlie address. This email address is for all things Charlie. It’s where all the lovely readers get in contact with me. It’s where comments from the Tea House come, where I connect to folks and set up promotional stuff. I use Thunderbird for this email address which is the little blue bird pinned on the bottom bar next to the heart. This email address is part of my domain name so I need an email client for it, otherwise it would probably be Gmail too.
  • Email 5: Yahoo. I like to keep up with all my different yahoo groups, though I don’t always have the time. Most of my groups have heavy participation which is great. The thing is, if I put my notifications on digest, I never look at them, so I keep almost all of them on individual emails. Of course that means A LOT of emails. So my inbox doesn’t look like a war zone, I  keep a separate ymail address for Yahoo related stuff.

I also have all my email addresses connected to my smartphone, so I’m notified whenever I have a new email. My phone is set to either make a notification sound or buzz depending where I’m receiving email. All this makes sure I’m always connected and don’t miss anything. It also makes getting back to folks a whole lot easier. Keeping most of the email addresses with the same client makes it easier, and Google lets you switch between accounts with one click.

I also have Gmail offline which allows me to access my email account when I’m not connected. These days, nothing’s more frustrating than losing your internet connection. I have my YouTube button, my Google Search button, Picassa–where I host my images, WordPress-which I’m always logged into so I can access my dashboards, Thesaurus–for when I’m writing posts. This next one is Wunderlist.

Wunderlist is a nifty, super easy to-do list/task manager which you can set up to email you reminders. I have to have things jotted down in several places to remind me or things will slip my mind. When it comes to scheduling, I use my wall calendar, my daily diary, and Wunderlist. Between the three of them, they keep me informed of when something is due either from me or a fellow poster. (Click on image for full size). I love it’s simplicity and look. You have your lists on the left, you add your item at the top, pick a due date and a reminder date. You will then receive an email reminding you on said chosen date and time. That’s it. Then like any list, you check off an item once it’s completed. And yes, I also have a Wunderlist app on my phone which syncs up with the one on my PC.

Charlies Wunderlist

The next apps will be featured in other parts in this series. One being Evernote, which I started using recently and LOVE. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to give it a chance. I’ll go more in depth into Evernote in Part 2. Then there’s Feedly.

When Google announced recently that they were going to get rid of Google Reader, my first reaction was, “Well, crap. Now what.” I did a little research and admit that the look of a program does make a difference to me. I want something that’s user friendly, and very easy to access. I have enough content in my reader without having to take up classes on how to use said reader. Feedly, in my humble opinion, is awesome.

Charlies Feedly

Feedly imported all my Google Reader feeds, which I was dreading having to find all over again. It also let’s me sign into Facebok and Twitter, the feeds appearing on the right hand side under recommended Amazon books. You can choose from different layouts, different themes, you can organize your feeds, tick them off as you read them, see how many likes they have, and more.   I also have Feedly on my phone. See, with my Gmail email address, I can log into all these apps and have them all synced up on my PC and phone. My Google Chrome app on my phone syncs up with my PC which means all my bookmarks are on there as well. And that’s why Google’s okay in my book.

Thursday, May 2nd will cover Evernote and why you need it, especially if you’re a writer. Soon to come, Dropbox, Google Drive, Photoshop, and more.

Hope this post was a little useful. Stay tuned!

Do you have any programs you’d like to see covered? A program you’re curious about, or do  you have one you can’t live without?

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