Author’s Life

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So…This Happened.

In November 2009, I set upon a two-pronged experiment: write a 50,000-word romance novel during NaNoWriMo. It was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo as well as my first attempt at a romance novel.

I started off with nothing more than the genre. I just wanted to see if I could do it and what a romance novel written by someone who traditionally didn’t write, you know, happy characters or endings would look like.

At the end of the month, I didn’t have an answer. I stuck the project in a metaphorical drawer where it remained until July 2017, when I pulled it back out in an attempt to finish it.

It soon became known as the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Bad Romance Novel because, according to my CPs, I had completely missed the mark on that whole ‘romance’ aspect of the romance novel. As one CP said, “I don’t want these two characters to spend any more time together.”

Clearly, I had my work cut out for me.

And because I am the slowest writer on the face of the earth, it took a while to figure things out. The urge to shove the damn thing back into the metaphorical drawer was strong. Just so, so strong.

Fast forward to January 2019, when my beloved goddaughter expressed a desire to read this book. I love my godchildren and would do anything for them…even finish and publish a terrible romance novel.

Which (deep breath) I did.

Last month.

See, I set a goal to publish it in time for my beloved goddaughter’s birthday. I wanted it to be a surprise, so I didn’t announce it. Against all odds, I actually achieved this goal ( I know. I still can’t believe it, either).

And because I am a marketing guru, even after the birthday surprise, I didn’t announce the book. (I have issues. I know.)

But this past weekend, it was revealed (not by me because, again, I have issues) that the Terrible Romance Novel (at some point, I should probably start referring to it by its actual name) had been set loose upon the world.

Which, yes, is technically true, if you want to get all technical about it.

The Terrible Romance Novel is the product of years of neglect and massive rewrites. It somehow managed to survive having me as its author and because of that, it is now available for Kindle and in paperback.

My goddaughter loved it, and should anyone out there choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it, too.

Oh, and because my goddaughter wants to read it, I’m scheduled to start the second book in the Terrible Romance Series on November 1st.

One last thing…

Back in March 2019, I ran a contest. You may not remember it because it was back in 2019, and we’ve all had MUCH larger concerns since then, but it was a contest to guess how many pens and highlighters I would go through in the Terrible Romance Novel’s revision process. (Thank you to everyone who entered!)

There were three people who guessed exactly right (two pens, two highlighters). Their names were put into a metaphorical hat, and the winner was…

JE Oneil

Thanks again to everyone who entered. Maybe I’ll do another contest whenever I have another manuscript ready for revisions. So…like, ten, twenty years from now, maybe?

Do Your Thing And Don’t Care If They Like It (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

(If you’re new to the IWSG and/or are looking for more information, including a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month’s awesome co-hosts are Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey!

This month’s (optional) question asks, “Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

But I’m taking a pass on the question today because I’m pleased to be participating in a bloghop celebrating the release of a brand-new book from which any struggling writer could benefit. It’s really perfect for the IWSG, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a super fan of its author, Chrys Fey.

But before we get into the details of the book itself (or if you’d rather not wait, just scroll down a little…), we were asked to share our own stories and struggles with writer’s block and/or depression and/or burnout and what we did or are currently doing to heal.

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach this post since I signed up to participate. Me talking about my feelings in any sort of detail always leads me to feel worse about myself than I already do. And when you feel awful about yourself every minute of every day anyway, you’re never that eager to add to that.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I admire the hell out of Chrys (seriously, y’all, she’s a rock star), so I wanted to try. (Yes, there is such a thing as try, Yoda. Suck it.)

It’s no secret that I have been in a funk for…a good long time now. I don’t even know when it started. It’s been so long that it feels like it’s always been this way. And maybe it has. Again, I don’t know. I do know things got worse last year (I’m not going into the reasons why), which was a surprise because I honestly didn’t think I could feel worse about myself than I already did.

So…good for me, I guess? My ability for self-loathing is limitless! Woo Hoo! High five!

But however it happened, I have yet to find a way to right the ship or turn it around or…stop the ship from sinking, or whatever boat-themed metaphor you prefer.

And neither can I say that I’m doing any dealing or healing because ‘dealing’ and ‘healing’ implies action, and I’m certainly not doing anything active. What I’m doing is more…living with it. Like the lizard that’s currently living in my pantry. And the one in my bookshelves. Not to mention the mailbox.

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE living in the tenth circle of hell Florida?

For me, living with it boils down to one simple philosophy that I have mentioned on this blog many times before…


This is a quote attributed to my good friend, Tina Fey (note: the phrase ‘good friend’ may be a slight exaggeration, as we’ve never actually met), and I repeat to myself a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Some days, it’s far easier to do than others, but it’s a good mantra for me to have. And some days, it’s the only way I get anything written.

In this industry, I often hear that I’m doing it wrong, or that I need to do X, Y, or Z instead, and that I don’t really belong here. Which are all things that are probably true, and some days, it’s easier to shrug off that shit than others.

But here’s the thing: I have to do this writing thing on my terms. I have to do the publishing thing on my terms. Even if it means I don’t do it at all. And if my terms don’t conform with someone else’s vision of things, then…too bad.

I’m here, I’m obstinate as hell, and they’re just going to have to deal with it.

But if you are currently living with writer’s block, depression, or burnout, or some kind of combination of the above, it’s well worth checking out Chrys’s book. (How’s that for a segue, huh?) I was privileged enough to read an early copy of it, and I think someone would have to work really hard to not find something within those pages to help them out.

Which leads us to…


Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer’s Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:

·        Writer’s block

·        Depression

·        Writer’s burnout

·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed

·        Finding creativity boosts

With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love—writing.


Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo



Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout.

Not Very Deep Thoughts With M.J. Fifield (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, y’all!

This month’s awesome co-hosts are: Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

This month’s (optional) question asks, “There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?”

But I’m going to skip that question because I feel like I’m too much of an industry imposter-type person to have an opinion on that.

Instead you’re going to get this…whatever this turns out to be. I’m honestly not sure what will come from this post. Maybe nothing. Maybe I’ll get bored and/or tired and/or worried partway through and delete it, like I did last month’s post. Or maybe I’ll come up with something I’m willing to share. Stranger things have happened. Somewhere. Probably. I assume. (Name! That! Reference!)

Anyway…let’s find out which one it will be, shall we?

So, a while back (probably around May 8th), I came across the following tweet and it’s been floating around in my mind ever since.

According to the above tweet, over 80% of published authors stop after three books. I don’t know if the stats went any deeper than that. (If I recall correctly, the attached article didn’t specify.) Like, 80% of all authors? Does genre matter? Do romance authors, for example, last longer than literary fiction authors or mystery authors? Do authors who publish works in multiple genres have a higher rate of longevity? Or do they maybe burn out faster because they’re trying to do too much?

Is burnout even the problem? What percentage stop because of burnout or a burnout-like experience? How many stopped because they were dropped by a publisher and/or agent (for whatever reason) and couldn’t secure new ones? How many stopped because they got into the industry, looked around, and said, “Yeah, this sucks” and got back out again? How many stopped because they simply had no more stories they wanted to write?

Now, if you happened to read my most recent post, you’ll know that I am maybe kind of sort of possibly getting closer to maybe publishing my third book. And I keep wondering if maybe this third book (should it manage to see the light of day) will be my last.

(Side Note: Yeah, I know these stats apply to traditionally published authors and not the self-published variety. Didn’t make me think about them any less.)

I’m only on my third book and have only managed to publish two titles, but I find it increasingly difficult. Not, like, physically difficult or anything, but more…I don’t know. The more I do it (publishing, I mean), the less I know if I want to keep doing it.

Of course, I said the same thing before, during, and after publishing my first two books, so make of it what you will.

(Side Note: I don’t believe this has anything to do with my decision to self-publish. That was the right choice for me. Is the right choice for me. I also firmly believe that if I had gone the traditional route back when I had the chance, I probably wouldn’t have gotten past my first book. (Side Side Note: Not every publishing path is right for every author! Do the research and decide which is right for you! No one gets to decide what is right for you but YOU!) All of my publishing-related issues stem from anxiety, a multiplude of complexes, and probably too much Dr. Pepper…)

I imagine I will always have more stories I want to write. There was a time, while I was working on Effigy that I worried about whether I would ever have any other story ideas. I thought maybe I would write that one series and then just be done with writing altogether.

I don’t think that anymore. Given how long it takes me to write/finish a novel, I’m sure I have story ideas enough to last the rest of my life and probably quite a few years as a ghost. I cannot guarantee, however, I will always have more stories I want to publish.

I work toward publishing each project to keep my options open, but I honestly don’t know which way I’ll go until I actually hit that big red “PUBLISH ME” button.

And…I don’t know. I guess that’s it. I thought I might stumble across some sort of point that would tie things up in a neat-ish little bow, but that didn’t seem to happen here.

Let me just say that if you’ve published three, six, twelve or more books, you’re a rock star. If you’re working toward publishing your first—or even just starting writing your first—book, you’re a rock star.

It’s a hard industry. Hang in there.