January was a pretty cool month. I ticked off several things on my 2021 plan. So far, I’m keeping to The Plan. I do have one every year, but then life happens and things slip or disappear. But so far (I still have today to get through 🙂 ), I’m right on the mark.
I finished writing and published a book — Preacher. I really enjoyed writing it, and it looks like readers are loving it, so whew! Check
I set up the pre-order and began work on the next Montana Bounty Hunter, Hardman, and have three chapters under my belt! Check
I completed two full sets of edits for author-clients, and have two more to carry over into February. Check
My daughter restarted my Delilah Devlin Instagram and took it over, making and posting book memes for me. Something I’ve been completely haphazard about doing. Now, my Insta looks like an author lives there. 🙂 Check
With her help and pushing, I started a new FB group as a place to hang out with fans. We’ve set it up but haven’t done any big events yet, like author takeover days, but that’s coming. In the meantime, we’ve had fun with giveaways and sharing exercises. It’s been a pretty fun thing, and thank you, Kelly, for pushing me over the ledge. So, FB group, Delilah’s Corner. Check
I’ve read through roughly 1/3 of the short stories submitted for the upcoming edition of the Cowboys: Boys Behaving Badly Anthology. Check
Also, during the month, I posted plenty of fun commentary, ran numerous contests, and had many wonderful guests. Maintaining this site is work, too! Check
Already, that’s a lot, but I have one more thing to do today…
If you’ve been following me for very long, you’ll remember that I did this art challenge last year, and I posted a boatload of pics of things I completed. Well, it starts again today, so hopefully, I have room to add one more thing to my daily To Do List without capsizing that boat.
Coming in February
February will be cram-jammed. I want to complete Hardman and start on the last in the Beau Reve Coven series, Dark Moon. If Hardman takes me longer to wrap up than I’ve planned for, then I have to push out Dark Moon and start on Hot SEAL, In His Memory first, because that one has a hard due date (April 27th).
Hardman has a release date on Amazon of March 23rd, but if I finish it early, I may move the release to the end of February or early March, so be watching for that announcement!
I have a ton of short stories to still read through and make decisions regarding which stories will be in Cowboys: Boys Behaving Badly Anthology.
I have two sets of author-client edits to finish up and three more to work on in February.
I have 28 days, therefore 28 art projects, to complete in February.
Plus, I’m going to put together a box set of previously published books and run some special deals. So, be watching for that, too!
I think that’s enough, right? Okay, laid out like that, I’m a little nervous. Will you give me an attagirl? And I don’t mind a little nagging throughout the month…
I’m in the unusual (for me) position of being ahead of schedule with work—for both editing and writing—and I thought that today I’d take a break and do some straightening and organizing. Not my favorite thing to do, but #The100DayProject begins tomorrow, so I really should at least be able to find the top of my art table!
Anyway, I need the motivation to get started and stay on task, and I thought some music might get my heart pumping. So, I’m looking to create a playlist of music guaranteed to make me move. Give me some suggestions for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
First up, for me, is this song from the Killers—“Mr. Brightside.” Eric Roberts is in the music video looking hot and sinister!
UPDATE: The winners are…Eniko, Misty, Colleen, bn100, Debra, and Fedora!
I’m a Sci-fi Romance Writer. Or, at least, I was.
But then an Earth-bound dragon-shifter story idea knocked at my brain, and I had to write it. Because, you know… dragon-shifters!
The idea was a Viking shifter and a Chinese shifter come together to battle a prophesized World Destroyer. An East-meets-West story with a strong emphasis on the concept of yin and yang (and fortune cookies) and rich with references to the two cultures.
No biggie, right? Except for the small detail that, aside from my avid support of a local Chinese restaurant, I know nothing about that culture. And even less about Vikings. Or Minnesota, where the Viking clan now live. Or LA, where my story takes place…
When I write my alien-planets-filled-with-alien-creatures books, I get to just make stuff up for the most part. But not with What a Dragon Wants. Oh, my… I was going to have to research for my story. Not just a quick Google of a few details, either. This was gonna involve intense research. I had to be thorough. I had to be accurate.
And most importantly, I had to be sensitive.
I wasn’t crafting some culture from the weird synapses in my brain; I was trying to convey cultures that actually exist (or have existed) on this Earth. The suspension of disbelief would be narrower and the readers less forgiving if I got it wrong. And there are soooo many ways to screw up!
Critique Partners were important, and Sensitivity Readers were crucial. I inquired around my small network and found several kind souls willing to help in this endeavor. Heck, one day subbing at the local High School, I walked into the Mandarin teacher’s room during passing period and did the whole “you don’t know me, but I have a huge favor to ask” awkwardness. Probably not my finest five-minutes, but I was desperate to get the Chinese culture right.
I’m so grateful for all the comments and suggestions I received from my Critique Partners and Sensitivity Readers. I always am, as they help make my story the best it can be. And in the particular case of What a Dragon Wants, they certainly caught several places where I had proverbially stepped in it.
Did we catch everything? Probably not.
Will someone with a greater or more astute knowledge of these cultures find fault in my story? Possibly.
Did I attempt to craft an interesting, sexy, multi-cultural paranormal story that is entertaining, sprinkled with humor, and not grossly offensive? Absolutely.
The theme of yin and yang—of balance—runs through my story. The same theme also applies to how well I incorporated the aspects of my various cultures with the made-up story of my dragon-shifters and their world-ending-prophesy. And, while only time (and my readers) will tell if I accomplished this balance, it was a fun challenge and an exciting, somewhat nerve-wracking, endeavor.
G I V E A W A Y!
Comment on this blog, and I’ll pick five random winners to receive either a Kindle ebook or a signed paperback (US only) of my What a Dragon Wants novella. Then you can tell me how well I managed to balance it all. 🙂
Ava Cuvay writes out of this world romance featuring sassy heroines, gutsy heroes, passion, and adventure… often set in a galaxy far, far away. She resides in central Indiana with her own scruffy-looking nerfherder and kiddos who remind her daily she’s not as cool and hip as she thinks. She believes life is too short to bother with negative people, everything is better with Champagne, and Han Solo shot first. When not writing, Ava is thinking about writing. Or wine. And she’s always thinking about bacon.
The other night, the family rewatched The Martian with Matt Damon. Terrific movie by the way, if you haven’t seen it. Man gets stranded on Mars and has to survive until he’s rescued.
Of course, after we watched the movie, we talked about space exploration and colonizing the moon or Mars or some far-flung planet. My daughter is in the “Oh Hell, No” corner. She’d never go. Whereas I wish I could live long enough to experience space travel myself. Maybe it was because of watching Star Trek and Lost in Space on TV as a kid, but I always wanted to be a space explorer. *sigh* I live in the wrong age. I should have been born five hundred years from now. Whereas, my daughter wishes she’d been born in the early 1950s so she could experience the music, the Summer of Love, and the fashion. She inherited my flower child gene.
What about you? If you had a chance to be picked to be on the first team to colonize Mars, would you? Comment for a chance to win the download of your choice from my backlist!
Not a sexy title for a blog, is it? But I do like the picture because, hey, I have a thing for Post-It Notes. 🙂
Can you believe this is already the last week of January? I had so many goals. Some of them I did achieve. Today, I’m retooling plans so I can finish the month with a flourish and start February with a steely purposeful mindset! Next month, I want to wrap up a book; I have several editing projects to complete; and I being the #100DayProject art challenge! So, plenty to do and little time for lazy days—that’s for sure! My sis and I are planning writing sprints to slam some words onto paper, something I love doing but haven’t in quite a while. I’ll also try to do some weekly, if not daily, progress posts on Facebook to keep myself accountable.
Anyone else with me?Want to state some goals you’d like to achieve?Maybe we can figure out a way to keep us moving forward, even if it’s just household tasks, like “I have a closet to Marie Kondo or a garden to prepare for Spring planting.” Does that sound like something you’d like to do?
I never make New Year’s resolutions. They only turn out to be promises I never keep. But being fortunate enough to survive the hell that was 2020, I’ve decided it’s time to change my ways. I have resolved to share what I’m calling “Aspirational songs for the heart” on my Twitter and FB accounts every day.
My resolution started back on August 2nd, when I began posting “Democracy Reset” quotes to keep my spirits up as we here in the US headed toward the November election. I alternated between words from men and women of all races and all nations, words like Eleanor Roosevelt’s, “It seems to me that the least a citizen can do is to vote” to present-day quotes like John Lewis’, “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”
With the advent of then-President-elect Biden’s win, I switched to songs of all types and from all sources that I labeled, “Aspirational songs for the heart until noon Inauguration Day January 20th.” I enjoyed anew the messages of songs like Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “The House I Live In,” the Beatles’ “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends,” and Chris Williamson’s “Song of the Soul.” Even Broadway favorites like Grand Hotel’s “Let’s Raise A Glass” and Rent’s “Seasons of Love” got into the act.
In December, I switched to hymns and carols that focused on the birth of Jesus, the event Christians like myself use to remind ourselves to be hopeful as we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God (Micah 6:8). By the time I reached December 31st and had posted “O Come All Ye Faithful,” I knew I would return to posting songs of aspiration and encouragement as I looked forward to Inauguration Day. My song for January 1st was Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come.” It was then I made my new New Year’s resolution. I wouldn’t stop on January 21st but would keep posting inspirational and aspirational songs for the heart and spirit for the rest of the year. The unfortunate events of January 6th in Washington D.C. made it all too clear how easy the human spirit can be turned to do wrong when its focus has been warped.
My songs may seem like a drop in the ocean or a ripple against a tide of negativity and uncertainty, but it’s a start. Finding ways to say yes each and every time no keeps jumping in your face is what keeps the moral arc of the universe bending toward justice. Music has always done that for me, and I hope it helps those who read my social media posts to do the same.
My goal is to post 365 different songs, so for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, suggest a song or two that lifts your heart that I can share.
Happy New Year.
All the women in Anora Madison’s family have lived as “Poor Butterflies:” women still longing for – but deserted by – the men they loved. Determined to be the first to escape a life of abandonment, she fled Harlem for Brooklyn, severing ties with both her mother and with the man who broke her heart, Winston Emerson, the father of her child.
Six years later, Anora returns to make peace, but a malignant spirit manifests itself during the homecoming, targeting her mother, her aunt, Winston and their little girl. Determined to stop the evil now trying to destroy all she loves, Anora must finally turn to Winston for help. But will their efforts be too little too late?
Excerpt from Haunted Serenade…
“I never understood how you and Elizabeth could stay here after Diana…” I couldn’t bring myself to say the word. My mother didn’t finish my sentence for me. Apparently, she couldn’t say the word either.
We waited in the shared silence, unable more than unwilling to offer terms of peace.
“A person can will themselves to die,” my mother said. Her gaze drifted to the album cover in my hands. “It’s not so hard where unforgiving spirits reign.”
My gut clenched. “Do you really believe you’re dying, Ma?”
“According to my doctor, I’m sound as a dollar. But when you’ve got more days behind you than in front of you, that’s not saying much.” She directed her gaze to me. “That’s why Cammie is so important. She’s the future. I feel better just having been in her presence a little while.”
“I should have known.” I gripped the album cover with fingers trembling with anger and disappointment. “All that display of affection…you’re only using her to make you feel better.”
“No, Anora.” My mother came over and grabbed my arm with an earnestness that surprised me. “It’s not like that. I—I want the ghosts keeping us apart to die. Don’t you?”
I wanted it so much it hurt. I grimaced but nodded.
“Cammie took one look at this house and asked if it was haunted.”
My mother snorted. “Out of the mouths of babes.”
“Exactly what I thought.” I returned the album cover to its resting place.
The term troubled my mind. Can the spirit of anyone who dies the way my aunt died ever rest?
The question went unanswered, interrupted by my daughter’s screams.