Thursday, July 30, 2015

Look! Look! I'm On Time!

I'm posting on a fifth day! Go me!

So this morning, I woke up the same way I always do. Still tired because I'm no longer the morning person I once was, but otherwise generally happy because even in the worst circumstances, I'm a generally happy person. I can find humor in almost anything, and I try to be as laid back as an anxiety-ridden introvert with a penchant for kicking herself can be.

But.

When I wake up, most mornings have a pretty solid routine. In the summer, it looks like this:

Wake up, as quietly as possible. Somehow, my kids seem to have a radar that lets them know when I'm awake, and even if they are still asleep, that radar will wake them up, and then the day begins. Usually, I find it overwhelming, not because I don't enjoy my kids or because I don't love being a mom, but simply because I wasn't ready yet, and ... yall, kids are overwhelming. Especially if they are rambunctious morning people with ADHD and you are not. My kids are both girls; the oldest is eleven and the youngest is six. And they are normal girls; sometimes they wake up happy, and sometimes they wake up just angry to be awake. Either way, they both wake up talking, without fail. So, during the talking and the talking and the talking (no, that's not a typo), I'm usually going through my own routine, which is to tune-it-out-and-pretend-I'm-alone-in-a-beachside-cabin. I check my phone for things I probably shouldn't, like missed calls or texts, emails that may have come during the night, and yes, Facebook. I also check my phone for news updates, the weather forecast, etc. I get "woke up." Checking my phone is like the morning coffee, before I get up and actually need real caffeine.

Usually, I just see regular stuff on Facebook -- you know, cat pictures and funny vines and Aurelia B. Rowl's "daily cute." There's sometimes a little sass from Skye Turner, or something silly/funny from Colleen Hoover. But this morning.

This morning I saw a link from an author that I met at the Tennessee Valley Author Event a few summers ago, a link to her blog where she had posted a message titled, "*%@#ing Life, Man."

She talked about how it had been a while since her last book came out, and how she's been kicking herself for it. She talked about how overwhelmed she was with working her day job, momming her kids, wife-ing her husband, and friending her friends. (Just so you know, momming, wife-ing, and friending are all underlined in my editor right now. Those are apparently not real words, and I just got a popup that says, "Only Beyonce can make up words, duh."*)  I can't even tell you how much that post resounded with my spirit this morning, you guys. I've wondered how to say those same words a thousand times. I've tried to say those words, but never felt like I said them properly. And that same I-want-to-but-it's-so-complicated feeling has been weighing my soul down for so long.

Here's the thing, though. I feel like if she's posting about it, addressing it publicly like that, she's coming to terms with her own pace, and maybe that's what resounded so strongly with me -- because I've been coming to terms with my own pace, too. I've gotten comfortable with my speed. And that doesn't mean I'm happy to not be a book-a-month author, but it means I'm okay with the knowledge that I'm in this for the long haul. This is what I've always wanted to do, and it's what I plan to do for the rest of my life. Why not? It's in my soul. I'll be writing anyway, so publishing is just the natural next step. There will be more books from me. Many, many more.

Someone told me once, in a conversation about writing speed and publishing pace, that most of those quickly written and quickly published books are "fast food writing." They're easy to obtain, often sloppily produced (I mean seriously, have you ever compared a Taco Bell commercial to actual Taco Bell food?), and they don't last long. Now, let me be clear. I'm not anywhere near pretentious enough to think that I'm gourmet, although if any of you want to call it that, I'll be totally flattered. Still, I like to think my writing is at least sit-down quality. It's worth every penny paid for it -- it's well-edited, it's well-covered, and it's a product I'm proud to produce. Each of my books is a product I can stand by. My books look on the inside exactly the way they would on the commercials, if I had commercials.

And if that means you first have to wait at your table for a little while, while I'm producing the product, I like to think we're both okay with that because you want a strong product and I want to give you one. With that in mind, I responded to Faith's link on Facebook with this comment (Be warned, it's a long one. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm wordy.):

You are not alone in this. For me, it's been two years, and I was proud as hell to have gotten a short story done (it's on preorder, what-what! Lol). And I don't even have an outside job. But life happens. My kids got seriously resentful of my writing time because my work took away from my momming. A LOT of other stuff happened. And I ended up with a huge creative block, the kind where you sit in front of the computer and cry, because you desperately need to write, but no words will come. 
I'm just not coming out of it, and it's a good day when I can write a thousand words throughout the day (in 2013, I averaged several thousand on a working day, sometimes as much as 5k). I'm learning to accept that it just isn't going to go fast for me. 
But that's okay, because I'm learning to accept some other truths too. When I first started publishing, there were a lot of really big names I was totally intimidated and impressed by, ones who put out books MONTHLY and had amazing pr and really strong marketing. They somehow knew all the bloggers, and I would literally see their names EVERYWHERE. Well, they are basically gone now. Either they got what they wanted out of it and quit, or they couldn't hack it and quit. Or maybe they burned up whatever talent they had, and it died. I don't know. 
What I do know is that I'm in this for the long haul. This isn't a sprint for me, it's a marathon. And you know what they say: slow and steady wins the race. 
Stop beating yourself up. It's okay to pace yourself so that you can juggle your responsibilities. Besides, loyal readers will forgive it, and new readers are born every day. It'll be alright.

What do you guys think?

*I'm just kidding. That popup didn't happen. I can make up words if I want to. Also, I'm sticking my tongue out defiantly right now.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Change of Plans

Originally, my plan was to hold Courageous until the first of August, release it then for pre-order, and have it go live on the twentieth. I'm still planning to go live on the twentieth, but since everything was finished for Courageous before the first, I went ahead and uploaded everything when it was finished.

As of now, I'm still waiting for a few publishers to catch up and get Courageous set up on their platforms, but it's already live for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo! In the meantime, here's some fun news you may not have been aware of, especially if you're new to this site:

I'm giving away one signed paperback copy and five e-copies of Courageous on release-day, just for fun. This contest is a great way for you to try my writing if you haven't yet, although I will admit this short story is slightly different than the full length romance novels I usually write. It's the same clean style, the same meticulous editing, and the same real characters I'm proud to create - and even though it's not exactly a straight romance, there's the still the same honest love that's always present in my stories.

I've written contemporary romance (The Kingsley Series), romantic fantasy (The Selkie Trilogy), and romantic women's fiction (Fighting For Freedom). I'm calling Courageous a romantic suspense, and coming in at just under twelve thousand words, this is a fun, easy read to indulge in. Also, since the book will be listed for just .99, you can only beat that price one way - win a copy for *free!

*Free copies will be gifted through Amazon Kindle on August 20th.
Winners should contact me by email at authorbrandikennedy@gmail.com
with their preferred email address before 7pm, August 19th, 2015,
United States Eastern Standard Time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Know, I Know.

I'm late. Again.

But, if you're here, you may have seen part of what I've been working on lately - the new landing page! If you direct-linked to this page, you haven't seen the landing page though, so if you'd like to, simply click the "Home" button above this post, check out my handiwork, and then click "Blog" to come back. I might possibly be just a little bit proud of that. Maybe. There are actually still a few more changes coming to this site, but I've been a busy busy girl lately so I'm not totally finished.

So, what have I been doing?

1.) I've beta read a really awesome, seriously informative, non-fiction booklet for a friend. Felita Daniels is a reviewer with Lilac Reviews, and she's planning to use this booklet for a workshop she's teaching next month on the fifteenth. The workshop is called "Reviews: How To Get Them & What To Do With Them," and I am dying to hear (and hopefully apply) what she says!  My books sell pretty well, but I struggle to get people to review them (*hint, hint*) so I'm hoping this workshop will help me bridge the review gap between me as an author and you as a reader.

2.) I've been finalizing the preparations for the release of Courageous on August twentieth, and I'm actually hoping to have it up for preorder on the first - no promises on the preorder part, though. I still have a few small things to do before it's ready. But it's coming on the twentieth, for sure. In the meantime, I'm still holding a contest where readers can win their own release-day copy of the book, and there's still plenty of time to enter.

3.) I've been working hard on the fourth Kingsley Series story, which follows Michael Kingsley through some serious emotional healing. I can't wait to share his story with you, especially because this has been such a challenging story to write. Michael's story is the first one I've ever written from a truly male perspective, and that has been quite a journey for me. But I love him, and I love his story. And I think you will too. More Than Friends is expected to be released by the end of this year, but there is no concrete date set at this time. You can follow this space or subscribe to my mailing list (just fill out the form at the top of the right sidebar) for more updates on the progress of this and other books.

4.) Four new ideas have been added to my "books to write" list, which is growing longer much faster than it grows shorter. I suppose that's a good thing, although I find myself wishing for more hours in the day. Or maybe a clone - then the first me and the cloned me could take turns mothering the kids and cleaning the laundry and cooking the dinner ... and writing the stories. Then again, keeping the list means that I've always got something to write, even if every story can't always be an active one. It reassures me that this business is where I'm meant to be, and that writing is as much a part of my soul as I always thought. I think most writers have an inherent fear that their ability to write and be creative is finite - I still remember holding my first book in my hands, being excited to see new reviews coming in and new sales happening. I couldn't believe I was really doing it, I guess, or couldn't believe that the people who had always told me to write because I was good at it weren't wrong. But I remember, too, a sort of dark cloud over that moment, a nagging little fear that that was it. That that was all I had. That I wouldn't be able to write another book. But then I wrote Fat Chance, and I wrote Prescription For Love, and I felt a big better. I extended To Love A Selkie, rebranded it as Selkie (book one, Selkie Trilogy), and published Fighting For Freedom. I thought the fear of being "finished" was gone. But then I started work on More Than Friends, and everything seemed to crash and burn. I couldn't write. The words wouldn't come. I hated the characters. I tossed the whole thing and started again. And again. And again. Now, the story is coming along, Michael and I are getting along well, and I love watching him heal and grow, although he does it somewhat differently than what my heroines are used to. He's an amazing character though, and his story is a powerful message about letting go of past hurts in order to move forward. I plan to release a few teasers from this story in upcoming weeks, and the cover is already finished. Finally, this "Stella" has got her groove back.

But for now, I'm taking the afternoon off to play with my kids and read a book. Lately, I'm re-reading the Outlander Series (again), and I'm about halfway through with Voyager, which was actually the first book I read in the series - I didn't even know it was part of a series until I had finished that book, and I've been rereading these amazing books ever since - occasionally sprinkled with other books, of course.

What are you reading lately? And perhaps more importantly, what have you reviewed lately?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cover Reveal: Courageous

Lately I've been getting back into the social media scene a bit, and I've been loving getting back to interacting with my readers. More than that, though, I've been anticipating the day when I could tell you some exciting news.

Item number one: I'm going to be featured as a signing author at an event on March 19th, 2016. The event is hosted by Hummingbird Place talk radio, and will be called "Romancing The Smokies." And where better for it to be than in my own hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee? More details are coming out about this event all the time, and I can't wait to share more with you!

Item number two: If you've been reading along here on the blog, following me on any of my social media pages, or subscribed to my mailing list, then you know that I've been writing again! And because I've been writing again, I've got a new release coming out! Courageous is the East Tennessee Creative Wrter's Alliance short story contest winner for April 2015, and it's one of my favorite projects so far. I couldn't help but love the story and the characters, and I hope you will too! So in anticipation of the August 20th release of Courageous, I thought it might be fun to have a little giveaway with today's cover reveal. 

And without further ado:

Want to win a release-day copy of this sweet and suspenseful short story? Enter below.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Seriously, Can You Believe This?

I'm on time! You guys, I'm actually posting a blog post on a day when I'm supposed to! How about that, hmm??

Anyway, I've actually been bursting with excitement, dying to post this, because I've got some news to share. A while back, I ended my Amazon exclusivity with Fighting For Freedom, which is now available on most platforms. I like that change; I like knowing that I've opened myself up to entirely new markets and entirely new readers. I like knowing that I'm slowly ending my exclusive relationship with Amazon, too, with all the buzz and general fuss about their anti-author policies and "big brother" tactics. I like knowing that even though my books will still be listed with Amazon, they will also now start to be listed with markets that actually support authors, instead of working actively to cripple us.

To that end, I've now removed the exclusive Amazon status from another of my books! Selkie is now available pretty much everywhere, too -- and to celebrate that change, The book has been given a really gorgeous makeover that I'm totally proud of. For real, y'all, check this out:

Isn't that a gorgeous cover? I think I'm in love.

Want your own gorgeous copy of this well loved book? Currently, you can purchase this book for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. It's also on OysterScribd, Tolino, and Page Foundry.

Seriously, isn't it gorgeous?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wow!

It seems like now that I'm over my block, I've rediscovered my love of writing. Not for all the "should's" and the "have-to's" that come along with writing as a business, but the fun and the love of writing, simply for the joy of crafting with words.

I'm crafting with other things too -- my cover designs. In addition to working on seven different projects, some of you may have noticed that Fighting For Freedom is no longer a Kindle exclusive title; you can now find Christine's story on Nook, Kobo and iBooks, in addition to Amazon Kindle. The book is also, of course, still available on paperback from Amazon.com.

Soon, Selkie will leave Kindle exclusivity behind as well -- and to celebrate that change, Selkie is getting it's second (and final) makeover. The new cover is AMAZING, and I can't wait to show all of you!

But for now, I'm off to write.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ETCWA

The last few years have been a whirlwind for me. I published five books, made new friends, had several personal life crises, and made some really big changes.

Most of the changes have been good, but the abundance of changes in general strangled my ability to write for a long time. I went through a period of depression -- I cycled between kicking myself for not writing, and being unable to write because I was so down about not writing. I spoke to a friend recently about it, and the best way I could think of to describe that period was to say that I felt like a person with a horrible but treatable illness -- who was off their meds. And every day that went by without my being able to write, it got worse.

After being stuck in that cycle for a while, I wasn't sure if I would ever write again. Until I met up with the ETCWA.

The backstory: I had wanted to join the local chapter of the Romance Writers of America for a while, but I didn't want to spend money on dues when I wasn't sure I could commit to the RWA entirely. When I finally decided to go for it, I learned that I was too late. The local RWA chapter was disbanding. But ...

Several of the members of that group teamed up to begin a new group, the East Tennessee Creative Writers Alliance -- and that group is a large part of why I'm writing again. The group is like a co-op, a sharing of marketing knowledge, promotional efforts, and writing tips, and I don't know if it's the wealth of knowledge and encouragement shared between the members of the group, or if it's the various contests and writing exercises members are encouraged to participate in, but I do know that something has nudged the block away.

I know that when I sit down to write now, words come to me in a way that they haven't for a long time. I know that a book I've started over more times than I cared to count is now writing itself. I know that six other books are actively (though still slowly) flowing from my soul to my computer screen, that the words feel like they're pouring out of my fingertips and aligning themselves on the screen without my help at all.

And for me, that means all is right in my little corner of the world -- even if I still haven't managed to get that fifth-day blogging thing down yet.