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Posts tagged with: ENTHRALL ME

Care and Feeding of the Perpetually Peeved

I have a confession to make.

This blog post is the first new thing I’ve written in over a month. My WIP, which I mentioned in my ENTHRALL ME release day interview last month, is stalled out at about the halfway point. I can’t bear to look at how long it’s been since I last updated my manuscript.

ENTHRALL ME itself? I’m so proud of the book I wrote. Reviews have been great, but sales could be better. It must be said: this is rather a self-fulfilling prophesy, because I’m completely uninterested in doing the “Buy My Book!” social media pole dance right now.

Promoting my book feels…so inconsequential, like fiddling while Rome burns.

I’ve found 2017 to be a very challenging year to be in the happily-ever-after business, and the internet – particularly social media – is part of my problem.

I used to love Twitter. 

I used to appreciate the fact that, when an important news story broke, it broke there first. I felt engaged, energized, and well-informed. But then came 2017, the Year of the Dumpster Fire, and I’m drowning in a digital deluge of breaking news, political propaganda, apocalyptic weather events, nuclear threats, racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic screeds, lurking authoritarianism, literal neo-Nazis, police brutality, mass casualty events, terrorism, and too many #MeToos to bear.

The result? I feel chronically anxious, permanently triggered, easily distracted, and utterly exhausted. Apathetic, brain dead, sick to my soul, and perpetually pissed off. Writing-wise, words, phrases, plot points, and original ideas slip away before I can grasp them.

My brain is too busy processing other information.

The internet, and social media tools, provide so many ways for us to engage with the world, to stay informed, but over the last couple of years the ratio of good stuff to bad seems to have taken a distinct tip toward the toxic. So much of what I see online these days sends me spiraling down into an emotional sh*thole, but… There I am – *flick flick flick* – like a car crash gawker, or an addict needing her next fix.

It’s a really bad high.

They say the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one. I have one.  It’s time for a digital detox.

Bottom line: I desperately need to move toward a healthier, more productive  head space, and to do that, I need to exercise more stringent control over where I go, and how much time I spend, online. (When the dude who invented Facebook’s “Like” icon makes a similar choice, I feel I’m in good company.) So! I’ll be scheduling more blocks of offline time in the upcoming days, weeks, and months, to try to decrease my anxiety levels and get my writing mojo back.

Other things I’m doing:  

  • Re-establishing my “no wireless at the coffee shop” rule. Over the last year, I fell into the bad habit of “just checking the news” on my phone before starting to write each morning. Talk about a slippery slope! Pro Tip: There will always be news, most of which I can do nothing about. Barring a nuclear attack or eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano, news can wait.  (UPDATE: I’m happy to report that this is working! Words! New words!! New words being written! By me!!! Wheee!!!!)
  • Raiding the keeper shelf, Part 1:  Comfort reads to the rescue! Reread, and wallow in, some old favorites. 
  • Raiding the keeper shelf, Part 2: Learn from those old favorites! Assess those keepers for craft. 
  • Rereading my own books to reconnect with the Underbelly Chronicles world.
  • Using social media with purpose. No more mindlessly flicking through Twitter and Facebook just because I’ve got a minute.
  • Scheduling a little bit of promo. Get SOMETHING out there, so I feel like less of a #promofail.
  • Stepping away from screens and engaging with the physical world more frequently. I’m going to try to pick up a physical book – or better yet, a notebook and pen – instead.

The simple act of putting these feelings into words, and coming up with some practical strategies to tip the scales in a healthier direction, has been scary, yet so very helpful! Now, to follow through and find the joy again. Wish me luck.

Ruby community, it’s your turn. Is anyone else finding 2017 to be a really challenging year to be in the happily-ever-after business? How are you holding up?

Please share your strategies for productivity, work/life balance, and self-care.

{{Hugs}},

-tammy

Cartoon by David Sipress, who can’t remember where it was first published.

 

They say that opposites attract, but this is ridiculous!

Tamara Hogan’s latest book, ENTHRALL ME (Underbelly Chronicles Book Four), is available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and in paperback.

Visit her on the web at www.tamarahogan.com!

 

 

My Low-Key Book Release Plan

Those who read my blog post on redefining success realize I’m not necessarily apt to follow conventional publishing wisdom because I don’t publish frequently enough for conventional wisdom to apply. That said, on October 9 I’m releasing my first book in four years.

Allow me to introduce Tia and Wyland!

They say that opposites attract, but this is ridiculous…

Vampire journalist Tia Quinn is young (by vamp standards), curious (even by reporter standards) and sitting on some information that could threaten civilization as she knows it. She’s honor-bound to share it with the Underworld Council’s chilly Vampire Second, an ancient vampire more powerful than she can imagine…and who’s hotter than hell. He’s also burdened by duty and taciturn to the point of grimness but when a stalker breaks into her house, Wyland insists on keeping Tia close until the perpetrator is caught.  

Wyland’s life is exactly the way he likes it — solitary, calm, predictable. Then Tia moves in, turns his staid bachelor household upside down, and wakes his libido from its hundred-year nap. She’s too alluring, too damn young, and hell on his self-control—especially when she cheerfully informs him the attraction is mutual. But the last time he let his heart overrule his head, his people paid the price. He can’t make the same mistake again.    

As they work together to neutralize the threat, Tia and Wyland soon realize that not only do opposites attract, but that the end result can be positively magnetic… 

***

After four years spent sitting on the bench, my primary goal with this book is simply to get in the game again. To reintroduce myself to readers who might have forgotten I exist. So, here is my low-key book release plan!

PHASE ONE: The Underbelly Chronicles “goes wide”

Earlier this month, I re-released the existing books in the series, TASTE ME, CHASE ME, TOUCH ME, and TEMPT ME, at Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo in addition to Amazon (Kindle/paperback).

PHASE TWO: Outsourcing Decisions for ENTHRALL ME

Though I have a software development background and have been known to hack out my own HTML on occasion, I am unable to produce professional-looking graphics. Kim Killion to the rescue!

Kim designed all the covers for my re-issued Underbelly Chronicles series – the ENTHRALL ME cover was literally “one and done” – so when it came time to outsource other graphics work, The Killion Group was a natural choice. 

First, marketing/PR materials.  Kim developed the following graphic based upon a ratty-looking sketch I made. I’m using it for bookmarks, social media headers, social media posts, and a print ad you’ll see in the Oct. 2017 RWR. (Thanks again for the blurb, Darynda!)

Second, reviews. Though I’ll contact some bloggers directly, I’m giving The Killion Group’s Book Blast PR service a try. With this service, a member of Kim’s team sends my press kit and a review request to a curated group of book-loving romance reviewers and bloggers, inviting them to help celebrate ENTHRALL ME during its release week, Oct. 9-13, 2017 by posting a review. We have a couple of requests so far. Stay tuned!

Third, I booked a NetGalley Co-op slot through The Killion Group. In the interest of simplicity, the co-op is scheduled for October, my release month, so people can post their reviews immediately rather than having to wait for the book’s “Pre-Order” status to change.

I’m not putting a lot of time, effort, or resources into building pre-release buzz for this book. Sales are sales; I don’t care when they come. Hitting a list isn’t on my radar. Nudging this book into the world is.  

PHASE THREE: “DIY”

As Ruby Sis Heather McCollum mentioned in her awesome release planning post a couple of weeks ago, I too used Canva to whip up some simple promo pieces to use on social media. An example:

I’m still tweaking the Canva graphics. Personally, I think the text is still too small. Opinions?

I don’t plan to do a blog tour, but closer to release time you’ll see me at a few blogs, and on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll probably break down and produce a newsletter, if only to let my long-suffering subscribers know why I dropped off the face of the earth for four years…

On Monday, Oct. 9, Ruby Sis Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane will host a release day Q&A with me here at the blog. Thanks, Vivi/Lizzie! 

A thousand thanks to Spark Creative Partners’ April Reed, who finished my website updates lickety-split….including posting an excerpt from a scene where Tia and Wyland visit the Minnesota State Fair. 🙂    

For those so inclined, here are some ENTHRALL ME pre-order links!!

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

(Paperback available soon, all * gulp * 480 pages of it…) 

Rubies and readers, thank you so much for keeping me sane during the last four years! To celebrate sanity and sisterhood, today I’ll give an ENTHRALL ME eARC (Mobi, EPub, or PDF) to one randomly-selected commenter.

Today’s question is a simple one: What are you reading right now? Give an author some love.

-tammy

Tamara Hogan is the award-winning author of The Underbelly Chronicles paranormal romance series. An English major by education and a software and process engineer by trade, she recently stopped telecommuting to Silicon Valley to teach, edit, and write full-time. Tamara loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her husband and two naughty cats.
Her debut, TASTE ME, won a Daphne du Maurier Award for Mystery and Suspense, was nominated for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award®, and won Prism Awards for Best Dark Paranormal, Best First Book, and Best of the Best.

When the Words Get in the Way

whathehellI spent more than a little time at 2014 RWA National in my hotel room, writing. Let me correct that: I was struggling. I was working on this love scene that takes place at about the halfway point of my WIP, ENTHRALL ME.  For some reason, Tia and Wyland’s bodies were doing all the right, sexy things, but the scene was flat. Dead. 

Over some awesomely sleazy Chinese take-out, I realized I’d completely lost track of Wyland’s emotional arc. Why were Wyland and Tia in bed again? They must have reasons, right? 

I realized I had no earthly idea what those reasons were. Houston – or should I say San Antonio – we have a problem.

After returning home, I took what felt like a really drastic step–I stopped writing. I pushed writing new words aside and, using my daily writing time, tried some troubleshooting techniques I use in my day job as a quality and process analyst (namely root-cause analysis, and The Five Whys) to investigate what was up. 

And I figured out what the problem was pretty quickly.

I hammered out the first draft of this book during NaNoWriMo, in Nov. 2013, then devised a Chapter/Scene breakdown based on that first draft. Over a half year had passed since then. So much had changed in my story, but I hadn’t taken the time to update my plot line document, my GMC charts, and all the support materials that are so essential to my process.

However, my revisions document was 10 pages long and growing by the day. *choke*

In a moment of serendipitous timing, a couple of my Ruby Sisters mentioned registering for an upcoming Story Masters workshop, which I’d had the opportunity to take last year and had written a blog post about. As I re-read the blog post, it hit me: I’d fallen headlong into the trap Donald Maass had warned us about!

Paraphrasing:

Goals can get in our way. When you feel all caught up in deadlines, word count, page count, and meeting agent/editor/reader expectations, STOP. Ask yourself, why do I do this? What am I trying to say? What matters in the end is not that you made your daily word count, but that you told a compelling story. THAT’S the goal. Remember?

I’d become so focused on daily output, on the number of scenes piling up, that I’d lost sight of the endpoint. What was I writing toward? How was I going to get there?

* crickets *

My mental story map was no longer accurate. My out-dated support materials had become an albatross hanging around my neck.

Why had it taken me so long for me to recognize this? The best I can come up with is that I allowed outside influences, and thoughts about commitments to others, to get in the way. I’d stated a goal to readers to release a book annually, which still feels s-l-o-w. My CP wouldn’t get new, polished chapters if I stopped to assess whether the chapters I delivered to her actually, you know, connected in any reasonable way. 

I also realized I’d fallen into what author Chuck Wendig called The Pit of Comparisons (language NSFW). Reading all those tweets from people who release multiple books per year, when I can’t release one, and who talk about their 10K-word writing days when on my most productive day, I can barely eke out 500, had really done a job on my head.

These things made it really easy for me to just…plow forward, to ignore that niggling spider sense telling me that something was wrong. Because activity equals productivity, right?

Right?

No. Not so much. 

So I took a deep, painful breath, and told my CP it might be awhile before she saw any new chapters from me. I acknowledged—really acknowledged—that there was no way in hell I’d be ready to release ENTHRALL ME by years’ end. Then I devised a bullet-point plan to get myself back on track.

My plan includes:

  • Reading the first half of my manuscript, which is at second draft and which my CP has already seen, to reacquaint myself with the story facts I’ve committed to paper.
  • Updating my Chapter/Scene breakdown document to reflect what actually happens in the first half of the book.
  • Updating my character development charts to reflect current GMCs.
  • Applying those piled-up revisions to the first half of the book.

After these steps are done, I figure I’ll be standing on a firmer foundation story-wise. Next, I’ll need to:

  • Reassess the plot and storyline for the remainder of the book. What scenes do I need to write to tell the rest of the story, based on what I wrote in the first half of the book?
  • Update my Chapters/Scenes document to reflect that analysis.
  • Re-read first draft NaNoWriMo scenes from the back half of the book to see what might be salvageable.
  • Start writing the second half of the book.

I’m on step four of this plan, applying revisions, and I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER!! I’m getting my story back on track again, and not letting the words, or the illusion of progress, get in the way. 

What do you do when you recognize your story might be clattering off-track? How do you keep yourself from falling into the trap of comparing yourself to others?

  TamaraHogan_TemptMe_100px

TEMPT ME, Book Three of Tamara Hogan’s award-winning Underbelly Chronicles paranormal romance series, was nominated for a 2014 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and for a 2014 Booksellers Best Award.  Learn more at www.tamarahogan.com.

Buy yours at:  Print | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks  | ARe | Smashwords | Createspace

The Latest Comments

  • Bev Pettersen: What great advice and in just three words. Thanks, Addison!
  • Addison Fox: D – I love your positive personality!!! NEVER change!! 🙂 xo
  • Darynda Jones: Such fantastic advice, Addison! Sometimes it’s hard to assume positive intent, but the only one...
  • Addison Fox: It’s true, Tracy. Positive focus really is the best choice! What struck me was how applicable this...
  • Addison Fox: Katie – this one needs a T-shirt!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

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