#ADollarFromTheHeart

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If you follow me on my personal page, author page, or over at IABB, I’m sure you’ve seen the hashtag #ADollarFromTheHeart a time or two.

#ADollarFromTheHeart is something I started last year to help people who are in a tight spot and need a hand up.

My parents raised me to be the type of person who helps others when I can do so.  I have never claimed to be rich (because God knows I’m not), but if I have a little extra money and it’s not being used towards bills or food, if someone is in need, I try to help them.  Even if it’s only $1.

I don’t really know when the idea came to me, but I knew that a lot of people would be more wiling to give $1 rather than $5 or $10, and believe it or not, those $1 donations can add up really fast.

I am very selective of who receives help from #ADollarFromTheHeart, because like most good things that get ruined, there’s always that one person out there who will take advantage and never feel a bit guilty for it.

That’s why I make it as personal as I can.  I get to know the people who are in need, or I reach out to mutual friends who can verify the situation.  I work hard for my money, too.  I don’t want it to go to someone who doesn’t truly need it.

And really, that’s something that’s hard to figure out sometimes.  I’ve seen so many instances in which someone who has a nice car suddenly hits rock bottom and it’s so  unexpected.  They go to get Food stamps and people judge them for that.  You think they’re proud they have to receive help like that?  No, they’re not.  But they don’t have another choice at the moment.  They’ve got mouths to feed and sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and do things you never thought you’d have to.

The situations of the people I help are no different.  Something unexpected happened, or bills were just too much for the month and they don’t have the money they need for a prescription, or the baby’s diapers.

Most human beings have been desensitized to what’s happening around them.  They’ve lost their compassion along the way.  There are those who really couldn’t care less about a person sitting on the sidewalk, starving.  As long as they’ve got their nice home and phone and all the conveniences they could ever want, they just don’t care.

But maybe that’s my problem.  I care too much.

Trust me, if I ever won the lottery I’d probably give 85% of it to other people.

That homeless vet? I’d get him a house.

The little boy who dreams of becoming a scientist? I’d put him through college.

The kids across the street who run around in dirty clothes all the time?  I’d make sure they have new wardrobes and the whole nine yards.

Money truly is the root of all evil, guys.  People chase after the almighty dollar and you’ve got to have a good sum of it just to live decently these days.

It’s hard.

It sucks.

And watching people struggle really tears me up on the inside.

So if you see me posting about #ADollarFromTheHeart, please take two seconds to read what it’s for.  Your $1 will help lift the weight off someone’s shoulders.  It may only be a temporary fix, but you can bet they will never forget the day a complete stranger wanted to help them.

Trust me.  I still haven’t forgotten that day.

3-star Reviews aren’t the end of the world. Hint: They actually help you.

When I published 180 Days I was really nervous that people would hate it and wouldn’t take me seriously in what I was trying to convey.  The message, you ask?

Everyone deserves to be accepted for who they are, and everyone deserves love.

I knew a lot of my readers would shy away from the book because it wasn’t their ‘cup of tea’, and I was completely okay with that.  It was a story that needed to come out. The voices were so loud, so demanding.  So I sucked in a deep breath, crossed my fingers and toes, and uploaded it for publication.

What I did not expect, however, were so many 5-star reviews! Seriously. Every time a new review came in, it was 5-stars.

And that began to worry me because no book can be taken seriously if it has all 5-star reviews.  Readers don’t trust a book that doesn’t have a variety when it comes to reviews because every book, even the most beloved books, have critics.

But then one day, it finally happened.

And then it happened again.  YAY ME!

Then a particular 3-star review came in and I jumped for joy.

A 3-star review made you happy?  Are you insane?

I am no stranger to mean reviews – I am no stranger to reviews that personally attack the author.

BUT THIS REVIEW? It’s probably the best review I’ve ever received in the history of ever.

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I sent a message to the blogger to see if she’d let me post the review to my author page and this is how our conversation went:

“I was wondering if you would be okay with me sharing your review for 180 Days on my author page sometime?”

“I don’t mind.  This is weird. Most author ask me not to share my review if I rate them a three.”

“Well to be honest I think it’s one of the best reviews I’ve ever received.”

“Wow.  I’m speechless.”

“I’m sorry if anyone made you feel you can’t share your reviews. There’s nothing wrong with having an opinion, and to be honest I think your review was filled with a rare class. It was perfect in my eyes.”

“To know that I can be honest in my reviews and authors will appreciate it regardless of the ratings is the best thing a reviewer can ever hope for.”

The blogger I had this conversation with is Shy Fabon from Vs. The Writer.

I gotta tell  ya, folks.  Knowing she was afraid to share her review because of how I would react?  That’s not right.  It infuriates me, honestly.

Why should such a polite reviewer have to worry about sharing the review she wrote? WHY?

Why would she be afraid of little ole me?

I am aware of the ugliness that takes place in our little indie world.  I know that sometimes less-than-favorable reviews are posted and sometimes authors release their hellhounds (aka street teams,etc) to take it down, and sometimes, even worse, bully the reviewer.  (Don’t say it doesn’t happen. I know it does.)

I know that reviewers get attacked for leaving their honest opinion on a book, and sadly, they were doing it in the most polite, professional way they could.

I know that this needs to stop.

As it’s been stated again and again, the reviews are for the READERS, not the AUTHORS. (Even though I read mine just because.)

If you don’t like a review, that’s too bad.  You have to let it go.

Somebody disliked your book? Oh, well. Maybe the next review to come in from a reader will talk about how much they FLOVED it. (FLOVED. That is apparently a thing now?)

Somebody attacked you personally and didn’t say diddlysquat about the actual book?  Yes, I’d have a problem with that, too.  Phooey on that.

What I’m trying to say here is if somebody took the time to read your book, feel special.  How they feel about it and what they think about it is their business.  It’s their right to feel and say what they want – as long as they do it in a respectful and polite way.

DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE BUSINESS OF AUTHORS ASKING PEOPLE TO TAKE DOWN 3-STAR REVIEWS.  DON’T EVEN.

Reviewers – Please always post your reviews wherever you want. As long as you’re not mean or attacking the author (especially this!), you’ve done no wrong.  You’re simply sharing your opinion and there’s no law saying you can’t.

As an author, I will respect your opinion and I will value what you have to say.  If it helps me improve on the next book, that’s even better!

3-stars really do help, I swear. 3-star reviews aren’t the end of the world and they actually make people want to buy your book because it’s more trustworthy.

Reviews, in my opinion, are just like the real world.

It takes lots of different kinds to make it go round, and the same can be said for a book. They thrive on the diversity of opinions.

Please don’t silence yours, reviewers.

We need you.

Authors & Reviewers – Do you have an awesome 3-star (or lower) review you want to share with us?  Post it in the comments!

Want to read more on the subject? Check out Michelle Irwin’s Reviews: You’re Doing it Wrong

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90 Days (Prairie Town #2) is now available!

Yeeeeeees!  I am so happy that I’ve been able to get a book published so early in the year.  This usually means good things for me work-wise.  Last year I only published 2, but dagone it, they were good books!

Anyway, yes, back to the point.

Book 2 of Prairie Town is now available!

If you’ve read 180 Days then you’ve probably fallen in love with Lydia and the gang, and I honestly felt it was only right to continue the story.  Let’s be honest here, I can’t write a stand alone to save my soul.  I’m destined to write series for eternity…

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This book features a FtM trans hero and the lady he loves. <3

While her sister and future brother-in-law prepare for their wedding day, which is set to happen in three months, 24-year-old Laney McIntosh is barely holding her life together by a thread.
She’s been forced to fake a smile for months for the sake of her family, but she isn’t so sure she can do it anymore. There are secrets she has kept and they will threaten to shatter the picture-perfect status they’ve finally achieved since her sister’s return.
Through the ever-growing darkness in her mind there is one beacon of light that shines brighter than the rest: Benji, one of her sister’s best friends.
Benji Palmer is a transgender man and he has his share of demons, but what he feels for Laney has only been growing stronger since the moment he met her. Despite his own struggles he wants nothing more than to make Laney happy and he’s determined to heal her heart.
A lot of things can happen in 90 days.
Good things.
Bad things.
Crazy things.
Beautiful things.
Will Laney and Benji finally get the happily-ever-after they’ve always wanted?

BUY LINKS:

US: http://amzn.com/B019B6WEE8
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B019B6WEE8
AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B019B6WEE8

You should also know:

I’m doing a giveaway on my author page for a signed copy of 180 Days.  Come on over and enter!

Author page VS. Personal page

Hullo!  It’s me again.  I’m seriously impressing myself with how many blog posts I’ve already done in 2016.  If I keep this up I’ll have 2015 beat in no time.

Okay, so down to business before I forget what I wanted to say.

This is actually a blog post I’ve been meaning to do for a long time and be warned: I’m passionate enough tonight to do it.

And by passionate I mean I’m suddenly very angry about something that happened months ago and it’s woken the beast once more.

RAWR!

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t so serious, but the feelings are very serious.  Anyhow.

So if you’re an author you’ve probably got an author page and it’s all pretty and what have you, but this means you’ve also got a personal account.  Or maybe two.  Some people have two.

Why? Because they want one for their friends and another for their fans.  Some people choose to keep the book world separate from their personal life, but I am not one of those people.  I honestly love posting about my books/other books on my personal account because that makes up about 95% of who I am.  I cannot exist without books and writing, so there you have it.  I’ve got only one Facebook account and attached to it is my author page.

There is this thing called professionalism and trust me, I’m very enthusiastic about keeping up my professional appearance.  Being an author means that I have to represent myself as any business lady would.  Writing is and can be a business.  Some people tend to forget this.

Either way, there is an etiquette to this business and the last thing people want to see on your author page is all the ugliness we can sometimes release when we’re having a bad day.  They don’t deserve that.  They come to your page to learn about your books and about you.  If they wanted to see all the cursing and anger, they could just as easily watch TV.  And let’s be honest, they’ve got enough of that going in their own life, they don’t need to visit your page and have it shoved in their face.

You will lose your followers.  Don’t do that.

Anyway, back on track here…

Back to bad days and venting, hm?

Say, for instance, another author did something really downright dirty to you.  It’s the meanest of the mean, the most awful thing ever, but you don’t want to run people off by posting a huge rant on your author page, right?

EXACTLY.  You don’t want to. Not now. Not ever. (Even though I strongly recommend against posting names on your personal account, too.  Please have some respect!)

Even if it involves you, professionally, you have to count to ten and think things through.  Yes, things have happened where I’ve felt the need to defend myself and I feel all people have that right, but it’s also hard.

It’s very, very hard.

So while I’m on my author page, I’m pretty much always like this:

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But on my personal account you get me in my rawest form.  You get all the feelings, fears, dreams, and hopes.  You get the girl who can be a nut sometimes.  You get the girl who gets angry sometimes.  You get all of me. Not just the super friendly business me, or the bookworm, or the movie nerd – You get all of it, and usually uncensored.

So sometimes my personal account may be something like this:

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Or this:

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And especially this:

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Because believe it or not: I’m human.

I’m honestly not sure what some people expect when they befriend an author on their personal account.  I personally *love* being friends with the people who read my books. Sometimes they get insight to my projects before they’re mentioned on my author page and that’s pretty cool, right?

I’ve always thought so.

But what does bother me is when someone befriends an author and then makes a comment about how they should act more professional on their own personal account.

Really?

That’s like insisting someone keep on their uniform even after they clock out from work.

It’s not right.  It’s not fair.  I think that if you’re going to befriend an author on their personal Facebook account, you shouldn’t expect them to be okay or all smiles 100% of the time.  You should just expect them to be human.

Drat, this post isn’t making as much sense as I wanted it to, but hopefully it makes a little sense.

Basically what I’m saying is authors are people, too. Bloggers are people, too.

It’s kinda like when you realize that pretty 1st grade teacher you had was quite capable of flatulence, too.  Was I the only one who was shocked at that?  Or when you see them out shopping and you’re like, “Well, that’s not right.  They’re supposed to be at school!”

Any real author will strive to keep their author page enlightening and entertaining for those who love to read their books, but they deserve to kick back and relax on their personal accounts.

If you find yourself not enjoying being an author’s friend very much once you send that request or accept it, or maybe they just become a little too ‘real’ for you, there’s always the ‘unfollow’ or ‘unfriend’ button. ;)

What was the point of this post?

Oh yeah.  Authors are human beings, too. *Gasp* NOT robots as once believed, I swear.

Well…maybe some of us are robots.  It’s hard to tell with how realistic they make the skin these days.

Oh, and professionalism.  Always be professional on your author page because that is the name people are going to remember you by.

Don’t be remembered as the author who [insert humiliating and unnecessary public incident that could have been avoided here].

Early Morning Ramblings

I honestly don’t know why I’ve been awake since 4 AM, but I think it’s going to be a long day.

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Sweet offer, Lydia, but coffee could very well kill me right now.  Maybe later?

Okay, so I got the edits back for 90 Days yesterday and got those finished in about 4 hours or so.  I love my editor, not only for correcting my terrible writing, but for the little comments she leaves on my manuscript before it makes its way back to me.

“Awwwweeeeee.”  “SON OF A BITCH.” <— This happens often.

After the edits were done and we had a chuckle, I fixed up a few things that didn’t make a lot of sense (hopefully they do now), and then I sent out ARCs to the people who kinda really love my writing and I’m kinda really super grateful to them for that.

Hopefully I’ll start hearing some feedback today.

As I’v said before, 90 Days really threw me for a loop because it switched so quickly from the sweetness and butterflies I’m accustomed to and somehow turned into OMG! WTF?! DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN?

I really do hope people will bear with me on this one. (Hehe. Bear.)

But I also like to think these are things that need to happen from time to time.  You have an idea to go one way, but then your characters sort of just snicker at you and ruin everything.

All for the better.  I think.

If you think you’re in control, you’re wrong.

I’ve been writing on The Lost Days, which is book 3 of the series.  I’m really hoping I can stay focused and get it finished and *then* maybe work on something I’ve been neglecting for a while.

17 WIPs, hello? 3 of those are the final books in particular series and dang it, I’m not ready to say goodbye.  You can’t make me. I refuse.

Except that’s not actually the case.  I’m just struggling with where to go, what to do, selecting who dies….

That last part is a joke.  Kind of.

What was I saying?

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Right. That happens a lot.

Anyway, I’m basically rambling (as the title says), so I’m going to shut up.

But before I go, I want to share two non-book/non-writing related things.

TEEN WOLF IS BACK AND I AM EXCITED.

Please, please, please stop hurting my baby. Seriously, has she not gone through enough?  I can’t really blame the writers because we always look for ways to rip our babies apart before putting them back together, but I really need Lydia to not get hurt anymore.

Plus, there’s this big scary guy with glowing eyes who may whip some bootie if this continues.

(I kinda hope he does.)

Also, there is this movie I watched last night and it had me rolling with laughter.  If you have a chance, please check out What We Do In The Shadows.  It’s done like a documentary (Blair Witch Project, etc), and it’s about vampires.  Funny vampires. Vampire who are dorky but think they are cool, vampires.

Here is a gif!

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If that doesn’t sell it to you, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, I’m gonna hush up now.

Have a wonderful day! <3

Follow me on FACEBOOK – Pre-order 90 DAYS

No, I can’t. (YES. YOU CAN.)

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Being a writer has always been my greatest passion.  I love to create worlds that others can get lost in.  I love creating conflict and then coming up with solutions.  All I want is to give as many happy endings a possible (except for you, Rochester Reaping.  You were a one-time deal.)

I was actually very recently asked why?  Why do I like to write?  Why did I choose writing when there are literally thousands of other things I could do?

That answer is simple.  I am a storyteller.  I was born with a gift and I intend to use it until I take my last breath.  I love creating magic.  I love offering an escape to people because books were my escape when I was little.  The imagination is such a wonderful thing – but it can also drive you crazy.

Like everyone else who requires a beating heart and oxygen to survive, I have moments of self-doubt.  Sometimes it’s crippling.  I find myself on the brink of tears when I open up a word document and my characters refuse to talk.

But do you know what’s worse?  When they are more than willing to speak to you, but there’s just something blocking you from taking the next step.  It could be a small thing, really, the simplest thing.  But that doesn’t make it any less maddening for the person who holds the pen.

I struggle a lot when I am writing.  There are days when all I can think is, “Man, I really suck at this.  Why do I even try?”

Sometimes that happens when I’m up for a certain award and I’ve been placed against authors I know are a thousand times better than me.  Well, no.  Maybe that’s not true.  I don’t really believe that any single author is better than the next.  We all have something unique to offer to readers and there are plenty of readers, trust me.  But my confidence really gets tested when I find myself contending against someone better known than myself.  It’s discouraging.  It can get downright depressing, too.

But I try not to let that get to me too much.  Awards don’t mean everything.  And to be quite honest with you, most awards are just popularity contests and I think I dealt with those enough in school.  For instance, I was once up for election to the student council when I was a sophomore in high school.  I could have been the secretary and I personally think I would have been a heck of a secretary, but I didn’t get picked because I wasn’t one of the popular kids.

That’s just how high school is, and sometimes I feel that’s how it is in the indie world, too.

Unless you have 500+ street team members, you don’t stand a chance in those things.

But I’m not bitter about it, you know? The only thing I get bitter about is when my characters decide to take my story and turn it into something else.

I HAD IT PLANNED, YOU KNOW.  I ACTUALLY MAPPED IT OUT THAT TIME.  HOW DARE  YOU?

If you think you’re in control, you’re wrong.

This blog post is all over the place, innit? My bad.

Anyway, back to what I was originally saying.  Sometimes self-doubt just sucks.  We all have those moments and we question our ability, but stop and think about it, okay?

Okay.

If you have a moment, google the Tangled memes that are meant for authors.  They pretty much nail it.  You can go from “I’m awesome!” to “God, I suck.” within a few seconds.  This happens to me at least 5 times a day, if not more.

Right now I’d like to think I’m in a pretty good groove.  I’ve written about 17,000 words since December 26th and I’m *hoping* I may have this particular story finished up by the end of the month.  However, I won’t hold my breath because I know what will happen.

It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will happen soon enough.

“Why do I bother? Why am I even trying?  Nobody is going to read this.  This is crap.  I’m crap.  Ugh.  I shouldn’t be a writer.”

Yep.

But then somebody kicks me in the rump and gets me back on track.

It’s completely normal to doubt yourself from time to time, but please promise me you’ll also believe in yourself.  You truly have to believe the sky’s the limit to make it around here.  You have to take that leap of faith. You have to keep moving forward even if you don’t want to.  Trust your characters and trust your skills.  You can do this.

This is a pretty pointless blog post, eh?  Well, you can’t say I didn’t try.

I just wanted you – yes, you, whoever you may be – to know you aren’t alone.  We’re all in this together and no matter what anybody says, it’s not a competition.  Don’t be discouraged even though it’s easy to do.

Just keep writing, little darling.  Get your story out there because the world needs it and no one can tell it quite like you!

Follow me on FACEBOOK.

 

 

Another Blog Post Already?

I am going to try very hard to keep my blog updated regularly – unlike last year.  Last year I had less than 20 posts for the year and that’s unacceptable.

I’m not sure what to write about that you don’t already know, or that you would actually be interested in, but I’ll do my best.

I’m waiting for the edits to make their way back to me from my editor for 90 Days.  I am equally excited/nervous/terrified about its release because this is one of those books that just mean so much to me.

Writing about transgender people isn’t hard for me because they are just that – people, but these are also individuals who deserve a loud voice of understanding and acceptance.  I don’t want to fail them. I don’t want to let anybody down.  And yes, I know not everyone will like what I write, but this particular series, Prairie Town, has a very special place in my heart.

We all feel unaccepted in some way.  We are all terrified of not being accepted no matter what it may be for.  All I want with these books is for one person to pick them up, read them, and think, “Wow. I’m not alone. There is hope.”

Of course it doesn’t hurt that I’ve tossed in some love, hot passion, edge-of-your-seat suspense this time around.

That was really confusing, FYI.  I usually try to keep series within the same genre and while they are all technically romance, 90 Days will be more suspense than anything else.  You’re definitely going to have some WTF moments and “Oh, no she didn’t!” It’s inevitable.

Wow. Look at that. I’ve already lost track of what I wanted to say.

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Bear with me. I know it’s painful.

Another thing I did want to talk about was the inspiration for the Prairie Town Series.

Do you ever have those late nights where you want to do something, but you don’t know what to do, so you end up browsing Netflix and you click on something random?  That’s kind of what happened to me when I stumbled across BOY MEETS GIRL.

This is such a great movie. I can’t say enough good things about it.  All I know is I clicked play and I was totally lost in their world within about 5 minutes.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that the story took place in Kentucky.  Maybe I just live in a REALLY small town, but stuff like this just doesn’t happen where I come from – and let’s be honest, people in my town are seriously narrow-minded and the bigotry is strong.  Not all people here are jerks, but the majority are still stuck in the 1950’s and they haven’t caught up with the rest of the world yet. :/

(Fact: Chartreuse is also based on my hometown.)

So back to the movie: Boy Meets Girl focuses on a transgender girl (played by the impeccable Michelle Hendley) and her best friend (played by Michael Welch.)

Now, for anyone who knows me, I cannot stand him in most movies I’ve seen him in, but he really redeemed himself as an actor for me in this film.

Ricky is an amazing character with hopes, dreams, and struggles.  She has an awesome dad and little brother, an awesome best friend, and an awesome *new* friend who happens to be a very gorgeous girl connected to a guy from her past.

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I don’t want to give the movie away, but I will shove you towards Netflix to watch it.  It’s so, so good.

After watching the movie, I decided to look up Transgender romances on Amazon because those are books I could really get into, but imagine my disappointment when most of the titles I came across where about boys magically/supernaturally turning into girls and vice versa.

That’s just not okay.  There isn’t any magic involved.  Magic is fine and dandy if you are a paranormal lover, but what about the books meant for people trying to discover who they are?  What about the books that teach acceptance, love, and hope?

Where are the books that transgender folks can read and relate to? Where are the books for a 20-something trans person to read so they won’t feel alone, so they can finally realize they are totally amazing no matter what?

It was an outrage in my mind.  It shouldn’t be allowed!  I did find a few titles that were ‘the normal human stuff’ as I like to call it, but they are few and far between.

So I decided to change that.

I do honestly believe that Lydia and her friends have lived in my head for a long time, but she didn’t speak up until after that movie.

Now I know I am not a transgender person and I don’t know any personally, but I’ve always felt that’s the best thing about being a writer.  With a little research and a lot of heart, you can write about anything. Just do it justice.  Don’t go in blind and definitely don’t assume you already know everything there is to know about the subject, because you definitely don’t.  Research doesn’t hurt. Asking questions doesn’t hurt.  I have befriended several people from the trans community and let me tell you, they are the nicest human beings ever.  I am forever grateful for their help!

(I’m looking at you, Jessica and Trevor. <3)

I caught the same flack when I wrote my first m/m novel.  It’s really hurtful when someone says, “Leave the gay writing to the gay people.”

Sorry.  Well, no – I’m not.  If we had to wait for vampires to write about vampires I suppose we’d be waiting an awful long time.  Those fangy fiends have priorities — blood.  Writing a novel isn’t necessarily at the top of their to-do list, but hey, that’s an awesome storyline idea, yes? ;)

I’m off course again. That happens a lot.

Anyway, I’m nervous about releasing this story because there’s a lot in the book that reflects on my life.  It’s terrifying putting yourself out there like that for the world to see. THE WORLD.  I’m not even saying 2% of the population will ever read my books, but even the small amount of folks who have read them still make me nervous.

I think this post is long enough so I’m going to leave you with this:

Do you want to write that m/m novel? Go for it.

Do you want to write a book that will change the way the world is viewed? Go for it.

If you want to wait for a vampire to write a vampire book or a mermaid to write a mermaid book, good luck.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy life. <3

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