Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Writing schedule


I'm in the NaNoWriMo camp of July in order to finish Book 2 in the Stranger series entitled Finder. I'm just over 1/3 finished with the book, and I mapped out what I thought was a good writing plan: days off from work, get 4,000 words done; days I work, try to get some fine but don't push it.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

I'm not good at long chunks of time focused one one thing. It's not my focus, either. I love reading. I'm good in school. I just get bored.

So why would I assume my writing schedule should be any different?

As such, I had to modify my writing schedule. I've committed to waking up every morning at 5:30am to get 1,500 words in every day. If I can do that, I can finish my book roughly in the time that I need to finish it in. Getting up early used to be easy for me. But with a day job, a family and some much needed downtime, my creativity has been left high and dry. If I want to write - and write well, where I enjoy it and it doesn't feel like I'm forcing myself even if I maybe am - then I need to find the best time my creative juices are at an all time high.

Which has always been the morning for me.

Which means lots of early mornings.

Which is fine. The thing is, if I want this to be my job, if I want to take this seriously, I need to develop habits that reflect those values. And since this is important to me, I don't mind sacrificing sleep in order to do this.

It's worth it.

What are your writing habits? Do you have a daily word count goal?

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Power in the Wrong Hands

Hi everyone!

Today, I thought I'd shift gears and talk about a fellow Anchor author whose book, Power in the Wrong Hands, released today.  She was generous enough to provide an excerpt for me to share with so please check it out below!

Snowdrop’s life changed when she found her mate, Orion Hunter. Her father always said, finding your mate was like magic, but this was so much more. 
In the blink of an eye, Snowdrop found her life hung in the balance. Kidnapped and tortured by an evil vampire, left Snowdrop wondering if she would live long enough to enjoy her newly found mate. 
Sammy was on the verge of turning rogue, and fought his evil side every day to keep it at bay. Then Sammy finds out he is the only one that can infiltrate the rogue’s hideout. He knew it would be his true challenge. He knew the mission came with a possibility of being sent to Deciding Island for judgment, a judgment that would most likely lead to being Island Ash. His only hope came from the most unlikely place, but would it be enough? 

Hunter walked back to the glamour opening at the bottom of the Sphinx. Mystic, the leader of the Meat Eaters, waited for everyone’s report from the war as they exited. As he waited in line for his turn, Hunter heard someone yelling his name. “Hunter, wait for me, I need to talk to you.”
It was Saturesa, Sat for short, Hunter’s longtime friend. As Sat caught up with Hunter, he could hear the enthusiasm in Sat’s voice which meant trouble. Sat always had some hair brained scheme for picking up girls. “Hey, after you talk to Mystic, what do you say to coming to the Eastern Shore with me?”
Hunter, not feeling very social these days, told Sat, “No, I’m headed home, but thanks for the invite.”
Sat, never being one to take no for an answer, told him, “Come on, Hunter. Everyone’s going to the Eastern Shore for a weeklong celebration, and there is going to be lots of girls.” Hunter gave Sat half a smile and looked down, shaking his head as he moved up one in line. 
Hunter knew that once Sat set his mind to something, he would be relentless at getting what he wanted. Hunter rolled his eyes and huffed his retort with a slight rumble in his voice, “Fine, but if I don’t have a GREAT time, I’ll leave. Got it?”
Sat rubbed his hands together in anticipation of some fun, and in his cheery voice responded, “Fine! But you’ll have a blast, I promise.”  
Hunter figured the only reason Sat wanted to go was the neighbor girl named Snowdrop. Hunter had never been attracted to a female Techie. He didn’t know if it was all the hair or the fact that the females were dominant, and he preferred to be the leader in a relationship.  Hunter did agree that for a Techie she looked striking. Even though he had never met her in person, he had noticed her from a distance. She didn’t have that same thick hair as the other Techies and seemed to have more of her herb growing everywhere. She was also short for a female Techie. He had not been close enough to know what color her eyes were, but Sat could not stop talking about her amazing hazel eyes. Sat would joke about how he should have been nicer to Snowdrop when she had a crush on him.
Hunter handed Mystic his one page report. “Hi Mystic, my report is short because Adam’s children did all the work. It’s always amazing to watch them in action. Is it okay to head home now?”
Mystic looked up at him from her seat. “Hunter, how is life?”
Hunter should have figured she would sense his loneliness. His kind lived so long, and without someone to share it with, the days and nights could go forever. Depression was a serious threat, but Hunter hated sympathy, so he denied it. “I’m fine.”
Mystic regarded him with concern and shook her head in disbelieve. She didn’t believe for one minute that he was truly fine, but told him, “If you need anything, let me know.”
Hunter winked at Mystic, hoping to lessen her worry. “Thanks. Catch you at the next war.” Mystic gave him a small but sweet smile as she turned her focus on the next Meat Eater in line.
Mystic Jones, as the leader of the Meat Eater species, is responsible for each and everyone one of them. She made a mental note to check up on Hunter in a few weeks. That wink he gave her was not fooling her. Sensing a strong feeling of depression, she wasn’t going to let that go for long.  
As Hunter walked out of the Sphinx, he watched as Sat jumped up the minute he spotted him. Hunter felt like this was going to be a long week, and he wasn’t sure he could put up with Sat’s high level of energy. Then he heard Sat say, “Come on, we can get a ride on the war ships with the Plazies. Sap said he could drop us on the Eastern Shore.”
Hunter smiled. “I have not seen Sap or Weeping in a few hundred years.”
As they walked toward the war ships, Hunter thought about the Plazies. Sap and his wife, Weeping, are the leaders of the most unusual species, as far as Hunter was concerned. Hunter had heard that they now had a teenage daughter named Willow—he had also heard Willow was a handful. He could remember the first day he met the Plazies during one of the many wars in his lifetime. While walking next to Sat, Hunter gazed off in the distance as he remembered that day. He had walked onto one of the war ships to find no one on board, yet the ship was in operation with the precision of a well-organized team. He looked around, but stopped when he noticed a line of little sticks appearing before him, Plazies lined up on the ropes and rails. One of them started to talk, “Welcome Orion Hunter.”
Hunter remembered his feeling of shock. Although he didn’t know what part shocked him more: the stick knowing his full name or that a stick was actually speaking. He had found himself staring at thousands of sticks shaped like humans. They ranged from 5-inches to 6-inches tall and looked like all different types of wood. As a woodworker in his youth and a construction company owner in today’s world, Hunter knew his timber.
Hunter figured the look of shock showed on his face when Sap laughed and explained, “We are magic wood splinters and are what keep the old warships afloat. We are, for the most part, harmless, but we are not without ways to protect ourselves. Moving fast, it looks like we just appear and disappear, and this speed allows us to operate different areas of the ship quickly. We come from all different woods, hence the reason we all look different.”
Being brought out of his thoughts by Sat’s voice, Hunter heard, “Hunter, they’re waiting for us. Let’s go.” Hunter felt the muscle in his shoulders tighten at Sat’s enthusiastic tone. He really was not in a party mood, and until now didn’t realize he had lagged behind. 
As they boarded the warships, Hunter saw Sap and walked up to him to say hi when he noticed something was wrong. “Sap, what has happened? Is everyone okay?”
Sap turned and smiled, greeting his friend. “Hello Hunter. It’s been a long time, and yes, things will be fine.”
 Hunter curious asked, “Then why are the three of you so anxious?”
Sap introduced his daughter. “Hunter, this is Willow, my daughter, and she faces a task that has her worried.”
Hunter put his pinkie finger down to shake hands and told Willow, “Willow, if I can help, you need only ask.”
Willow looked worried as she said, “Not unless you can undo my teenage misbehaving and what I thought to be harmless pranks.”
Hunter looked at her with concern. “I hear an apology is owed. Am I correct?”
Willow, in tears now, turned as she noticed the warships headed out of the delta and to the open seas. “Hunter, it is more than just an apology. I was awful to Creature, and I thought they were just harmless jokes … but a good man may die because of me.”
Hunter thought a minute. “Wait, could you be talking about Creature Notte?”
Willow looked up with a bit of hope that maybe he could help. “Yes, do you know her?”
Hunter smiled. “As a matter of fact, I have worked with Creature off and on for a few hundred years. If there is one thing she is, it’s understanding. I think if you just come clean and be sincere, she will see her way to forgive you. Now, what is this about a man dying?”
Willow, still not fully convinced everything would be okay, sniffled, “That is the whole problem, I have to take Creature on a quest to become one with Deciding Island, and if I fail and she does not go … then Mica Sands will die.”       
Hunter asked, “Mica Sands. He’s an Infin right? But what does he have to do with Creature?”
Willow was still crying, and trying to talk. “They are in love. They are mates, and now they could lose each other because of me.”
Hunter looked over at Sap for more clarity. Sap explained, “Mica was horribly wounded, and if Creature does not become one with Deciding Island, he will die. The only way to save him is if the Island does it … and because of Willow’s behavior, Gaia the Island’s spirit has said that is it up to Willow to take Creature on this quest into the Black Heart forest.”
Willow cried out, “She is punishing me.”
Sap walked over and put his arm around his daughter. “She is not punishing you; she is teaching you. Now go with your mother.”
Hunter, Sat, and Sap watched as the two disappeared, then Sap spoke, “It is nice to see you again, but I must get to my post. We will be dropping the two of you off at Eastern Shore. If I don’t see you before you leave, goodbye.”
Hunter gave his best smile, hoping to cheer Sap a little. He could see the worry on Sap’s face. “Goodbye, Sap. See you at the next war.”
The rest of the trip Sat and Hunter watched the ocean go by, and, from time to time, would notice dolphins and whales playing in the ship’s wake.
After reaching land at Eastern Shore, Hunter and Sat turned to wave at the Plazies. Hunter watched the old warship head back out to sea. It was so surreal in its beauty, yet it demanded the respect of an ancient warrior. Sat looked over at Hunter. “Hey, what is up with you lately? You’re always dazing off ... Oh no … you’re not getting depressed are you?” Sat was now worried about his friend. Hunter looked at Sat and thought, Great, now I have to put up with his enthusiasm and pity, what a week this is going to be.
Hunter thought about it and decided that maybe he was a little more depressed than he was letting himself realize. “Hunter, look at me and tell me that you’re not getting depressed.”
Hunter looked at his friend. “I wish I could, but I’m thinking that maybe I am getting just a little depressed. After all, how long can a man go without the love of a mate? And how old am I?” They didn’t really keep a close watch on time; the question was purely hypothetical. Hunter was not waiting for an answer, just making a point. Sat knew Hunter was older than he was. Sat had been around for four hundred plus years.
Sat slapped Hunter on the shoulder reassuring him, “That will be our goal then, to find you a mate, and soon.” Hunter just smiled and kept walking.

Wow!  And the best part is, it's only $0.99 on Amazon and Smashwords!  You can purchase it here (Amazon) or here (Smashwords).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Do Twitter ads work, part 2

Last week, I talked about buying the bullet and paying for a court le of Twitter advertisements that would tweet two different (and popular) books for 3 days (June 15-17).

Here is what I've found:

Twitter ads DO NOT increase sales

I found that I was getting the usual purchases throughout the time span, and at some point during those days, their ranking increased (it's not a good thing).

However. The rank increase could be because a lot of books launch on Tuesday, pushing my books from their usual rankings. By the end of the week, they resumed their usual positions.

While the ads didn't generate profit, I did get some new followers. So it did grant me certain exposure.

All in all, the pricing was decent but it didn't get me the increase in profit I wanted. On the other hand, I did attain followers. Depending on your goal, it's something to consider.

I think they can absolutely work, but because there are so many of them, people don't even look at them even more. I know I don't.

@booktweeter also provided a copy of each tweet they sent out and any retweets, which I really liked.

Have you used Twitter ads? How did they work for you?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Twitter Ads

So I but the bullet and did it: I paid for three Twitter services.

Well, technically, one came with an author promotion membership I signed up for.

I used The Kindle Book Review for Save the Date! and I used Book Tweeter for Marking Territory. Both were scheduled for 3 days, both beginning June 15.

I've always been hesitate to pay for advertising because it's something that isn't guaranteed. But I decided to try it because the prices were reasonable ($15 and $12 respectively). Plus, I want to eventually quit my job so I can write full-time and stay home with the kids. Since it's not something I've tried before, I decided to give it a chance.

Once I get results, I'll update the post so stay tuned...


My stepson is "graduating" sixth grade today.

I'm really proud of him, but to be honest, I expected nothing less. The kid is naturally smart, and when he tries, he only exceeds in intelligence.

But school is not just about being smart. It's about socializing, making mistakes, effort, tenacity, boredom, passion, falling in love, being heart broken, and becoming the person you're meant to be.

School is intense. He doesn't realize it yet, but he will.

His mom is already preparing for the worst, when it comes to him and girls in that she doesn't want him to jump into even liking girls. I understand that from a logical point of view - she wants her baby boy to stay young and innocent (and yet somehow, my husband's 5 year old son is watching rated r movies at her place like its nothing, but that's neither here nor there, just an interesting comparative between both boys). I'm not quite sure how I'll feel once I have my own son; on the one hand, I know from experience what puppy love, infatuation and heartbreak feels like, especially at such an impressionable age; yet on the other, independence in my children is important to me, and I want them to experience all that middle school has to offer.

I think Josh is both excited and nervous. He's accomplished something and it's exciting for an eleven year old to do so all by himself on his own merit that's receiving such fanfare such as celebrations and a school dance - his first. On the other, I think he worries what this next step may entail for him. There's a good chance he may not be babied anymore - or maybe his mother will cling to him, and turn the intense affection into overdrive?

Only time will tell.

I want what best for him regardless, and more than anything in proud of him. Congratulations, Josh. Live in this moment because it, like childhood, evolves much too quickly and fades with time.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday plot bunny

Your heroine is auctioned as punishment for her feistiness/as a way for her uncle to make money. She is bought by a wealthy trader/pirate/plantation owner/Viking/prince.

What if all she wants is a life of freedom to make her own choices? How does she earn her freedom? Will he give her the option to leave? What if he bought her as a way to protect her? What if they have a hate/love relationship?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Time travel

Full disclosure: I love time travel.

I love watching it. I love reading it. Even if the story is somewhat predictable and perhaps s tad cliche, I love it.

Although I'm open to all sorts of time travel, I particularly love pirates and gun molls. And I Iove when a character from this time - usually a girl - gets plucked from our time and thrown back in the past. That's why I wanted to change it up and bit: I took a lazy, self indulgent pirate and threw him into our time of technology, scantily dressed women and one night stands.

Clearly, I'm writing a love story. 

Beautiful Disaster is more than a light hearted rom-com, however. It emphasizes the differences and similarities of courtship in our culture as well as expected gender roles, then and now. It's such a fascinating, romantic thing to explore. And it's why it was so much fun to write.

I always tell people if I could go back in time, I would go to July 22, 1934 and save John Dillinger from his execution-style death. But if I'm being honest, I'm perfectly content right where I am reading about other people having their own adventures, finding love that transcends time.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sex, feelings, and the great chicken-egg debate

Let's talk about sex (baby!).  And feelings.  And the combination of the two.

Usually, feelings come between two people, and they express those feelings through the physical act of sex.  Other times, sex comes first as a physical result of desire.  Sometimes, emotional feelings come of the encounter; sometimes they don't.  Sometimes, things get complicated and relationships are formed without feelings because of a baby.

When I write about sex, I try to be both realistic and romantic.  Some of my heroines are virgins.  Some of them are not.

Devyn, in Battlefield, is a virgin.  Gerard, her breeding partner, is not.  Technically, copulation is against the rules unless controlled by the International Genealogy Laboratory.  When Gerard has sex, he may or may not develop those warm fuzzy feelings, but it certainly doesn't inspire commitment in him.  Devon, on the other hand, refuses to have sex until she gets some sort of commitment.  This is usually the basis of my stories.


I think it's important to point out that relationships can stem from sex.  Women want to have sex to have sex while men want to wait until they're in love.  I try to portray this difference through Hugh and Rachel's relationship.  They slept together before they even knew they liked each other - which is what breeding partners are won't to do.  Now, though, they're crazy about each other.

Tradition is changing.  I think we, as writers, needs to change with it.  I, for one, am looking forward to non-traditional type stories.  And it doesn't need to be a lot, either.

A little's enough.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alpha males

Alpha males are the only heroes I write in my stories. As a writer, they're fun to write. As a reader, they're fun to read. Why do we love them so much?

First, let's define what an alpha male is: tall, dark, strong, protective, a teensy bit jealous, physically capable, and attractive in a rough around the edges sort of way. There's also a vulnerable side to him he's kept hidden from the world until he meets that special girl...

I'm not going to discuss the psychology of the alpha male or why we females are biologically attracted to them. I'm going to discuss it from a writer's point of view.

Alpha males, like I said, are my only type of hero. My job as a writer is to ensure my hero doesn't turn into a cliche or sound exactly like my other hero in story b.

The other issue I have to worry about that gets swept under the rug: I need to worry about the line that comes with the alpha male territory - the one that divides healthy and unhealthy relationship.

There's a difference between dominating and controlling.
There's a difference between rough and abusive.
There's a difference between being blunt and being mean.

And a lot of times, these differences get swept under the rug. There needs to be a distinction between being an alpha and being abusive, and it's my job to make that clear.

Noir from my Dark Paradise trilogy is clearly abusive, and Keirah knows it. There's really know masking it. He doesn't say sorry or justify his actions. With him, it's black and white.

There are alphas in literature and movies that walk that line, and some even cross it. The issue is, are these men being regarded as sex symbols, as romantic symbols? If so, I have an issue with that. I don't want my readers to look at Noir and see a man worth falling in love with or a relationship to aspire to. His relationship with Keirah is completely unhealthy.

I want people to look up to Jack or Ollo. Those are the alpha I wouldn't mind being dominated by. 😉 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Name Changes

Last Wednesday, I changed my last name.

Well, I legally changed it in January but Wednesday I went in to update my license.  I've officially been a Cardona for a good few months now.

Changing my name doesn't feel any different.  But it means a lot more.  I have the same last name as his two boys - their mom doesn't even share that - and I have the same last name as my daughter.  We are a family.  A unit.

To my husband, it means I've accepted who he is and, not only that, want to be united to that.  He's never been married before and to him, it's an honor for him to bestow upon me - that I'm allowed to be part of his family.

The rings mean a lot - but the name... I'm Heather Cardona.  Wife.  Mother.  Author.

And I'm proud to be his wife.  I throw around the Mrs. title around a lot - and I can't wait to change my name on my accounts and at work.

I refuse to change the last name on my college diploma, however.  Just because I'm Heather Cardona now doesn't mean I always was.  I worked hard as Heather Myers and she's going to get all the credit for it.

It's why I won't change my name with my books.

But in life, in reality, I'm Heather Cardona.  I'm still Heather Myers, I've just united myself with someone who makes me a better me.

...and I really like the sound of that.