5 Things I’m Tackling In My Creative Life Right Now

And sadly, no, tackling isn’t a football reference in this instance. And y’all, I miss football. I know there’s the draft and pro days and the combine and so on and so forth, but I miss GameDay on Saturdays and a full slate of football games from noon until midnight. At the same time, I’m getting a shit ton done in my creative life right now so I can’t complain too much … Football will be back soon enough! 148 days, 18 hours, and 58 minutes …

Okay, now that I’ve gathered myself together …

I’m working and creating and dreaming and putting into place and changing how I play the game. I’m doing a lot more embracing of change this year, facing my fears than I have in a very long time. (Then again, I got new computer glasses that I’m in love with I can’t wait to put them on). So, I thought I’d share with you 5 Things I’m Tackling In My Creative Life Right Now …

Creative means, according to Merriam-Webster, marked by the ability or power to create … As indie authors, blog writers, indie publishers, content creators, etc … We have an immense amount of power in our collective voices and at our fingertips. We’re limited only by our imagination. I was HUGE limited by my mindset for a long ass time. That’s no longer the case as I continue to learn just how much power creatives do have. Facing the fears, accepting them, and leaning into them to come out on the other side, that definitely takes creative courage and an open mindset. I’m still fighting against my limiting thoughts and I’m making progress every day, often, multiple times a day.

Approval from people who don’t matter … I fight this a lot. I tackle this issue day in and day out. Some voices are louder than others. I do a much better job now of surrounding myself and reaching out to people who have my back, who support me, who let me bounce ideas off them without judgment, who pull me out of my funks, who are constructive and creative in their criticism and not out to see me fall and fail. Seeking approval and advice from some people can and will kill creativity faster than you can say, well, anything. And this is not about competition and outside validation. This is simply about seeking creative guidance and sometimes, there are people, who you and I need to steer clear of or our creative desires and willpower will fly right out the window.

Comfort Zone … Boy. Howdy. I am tackling the creative comfort zone every second it seems. I am facing things that are pushing me out of where I am and where I’ve been. They’re affecting the bottom line and the momentum I had going when I started 2018 with a plan. But I also get stronger each time I take a leap. I believe more in myself when I put myself out there in ways I never thought I would. And sometimes it definitely takes having your hand forced before you’re even remotely ready in order to do the things. Don’t get me wrong here. The fear never goes away, but it when we lean into it, push through it, drown out the negativity of our own minds and that of other’s words, we gain power over it and we’re able to say ‘Bring It On’ even louder the next time.

Using multiple parts of my creative brain … At all times. All day. I’m changing how I approach Lissa Matthews, some from my own desires, and some from outside sources. A new pen name that I’m really excited to play with. She’s going to be a lot of fun when I get a point I can dedicate several hours a day to her. Some creative online business courses. Some of the information isn’t anything new to me, but the ways it’s presented is different and it’s allowing me to push against the frame of mind and limits I’d imposed on myself for years as a writer and creative. And a new venture about helping creatives see their to-do lists in a new light. (I’ll be telling you more about it later). The more I use these creative brain waves, the more creativity I’m dealt and that’s just fine with me.

Falling back into old habits of procrastination … So, yes, on the heels of a lot creativity flowing through me and facing fears, I still have to deal with old habits creeping in. I haven’t been watching television much. Sports, yes. March Madness. Golf next weekend, etc … But television shows? I’ve pretty much ditched them. I still catch a 30min one once or twice a week, but that’s it. I haven’t watched a Hallmark movie in months. Or binged on Netflix. (Though I do have it in my planner that I’m allowed to binge watch Bosch when it returns in April). But television doesn’t serve my business or me. Yes, one could get ideas from it every so often, but not enough to waste valuable time. And I’ll occasionally find myself playing Candy Crush and have to force myself to walk away. I don’t do Facebook much. I’m there only for specific things (a few groups and my Page). Instead, I read more. Business books, female entrepreneurial books, fiction, blog posts, articles that are relevant to what I’m doing, and the like. I’ve gotten to the point I can let my house go if necessary (but not for too long… I can’t work for too long in the equivalent of a college frat house). But putting my business and myself first has helped me add to my creative well and pull myself out of the time sucks. I’m a much happier person now that I’m not wasting so many precious moments on things that mean nothing. The caveat to this is, once again, sports. My son loves sports. Sports broadcasting is what he wants to go into when he goes to college. We watch sports together. It’s something we’ve always done. It’s one of the ways we connect and share time together. It helps that I like sports, too.

What are you tackling in your creative life or in your life in general? Leave a comment below! And have a great Thursday!

~lissa

Elite Eight Here Comes Nole Nation

We weren’t supposed to get this far in the tournament. Most of us, based on the play at the end of the regular season and the way we were beat in the first round of the ACC tournament, we didn’t think we’d be anywhere near the 64 in the big show, but HOLY SHIT! We made it through the first round, the second, into the Sweet Sixteen to beat Gonzaga in dominating fashion and we’re on to the Elite Eight now! I’m so proud of my Seminoles! So damn proud of them. These kids are playing their heart out and seem to be having fun!

They play again on Saturday night around 8:50pm against Michigan. You better believe I’ll be decked out in my Nole gear and pulling for them!

~lissa

5 Things You Need to Know About Body Positivity, Self Love and Why They’re Important

Because Fuck You if you think your opinion should matter and if you think you get a say! You know what they say about opinions and assholes, right? (Yes this post will be littered with cursing and I will not bleep to spare anyone’s feelings).

Is that a little harsh? Good. But honestly, it’s probably not harsh enough.

I don’t know who gave anyone the right to judge others based on their weight or looks, but… Y’all, we’re ALL guilty of it. In one way or another, if you look close enough, we’re ALL guilty of it.

This topic is near and dear to my heart because I’m plus size, because I write books about plus size heroines and the heroes who desire them.

It’s also been on my mind a lot the last few days because of an article published about a woman business owner and podcast (Goaldigger) host named Jenna Kutcher that I follow on Instagram. I adore her realness and bravery. And her business advice is pretty awesome, too. She and her husband were featured in a Yahoo! piece that sparked some pretty nasty comments from people.

Now, I know we all say, don’t read the comments, don’t look at the reviews, don’t whatever … But we also know it’s bullshit because guess what? We’re gonna look, we’re gonna read, and the horrid things said are going to stick with us for a bit.

I don’t know what happened to “If you can’t say anything nice …”, but WOW! It’s gone the way of the Dodo bird. How people can be so cruel to someone they don’t know, but the Internet has allowed for a great deal of bullying to go on and people to say things they likely wouldn’t dare say to someone’s face.

So, here are 5 Things I want you to know about body positivity, self love, and why they’re important … AT ALL AGES!

It’s Hurting Our Children … They hear it. They see it. They go on diets before they’re eleven years old. They’re obsessed with size and weight. They’re stressing their bodies before they’re old enough to understand what stress is. Should they be out playing instead of playing video games the way they do, yes, probably. I can tell you I didn’t go outside and play. I stayed in my room with music and books. My sister did, though. She played outside from dawn until dusk. We didn’t worry about diets of the sizes of jeans. To be honest, I never felt bad about any weight I gained until someone told me they just didn’t find me sexy. Someone close to me. Someone who should never speak words like that. That I just wasn’t attractive anymore. That I was no longer pretty. But our kids see and hear stuff like that and they’re too young and impressionable to realize that attraction isn’t only skin deep, or that it shouldn’t be, and that love, ALL the love needs to come from inside us before we ever look to others for it. We’re not sending that message to them, though. We’re sending the message that a bikini body is the only body a man or woman is going to ever be interested in. We’re sending the message that whatever you want to do in live, you can do, but only if you’re a certain size because otherwise, you’re seen as lazy and unkempt. We’re sending the message that if we just do this, or this, or this, we’ll be the optimal size. We’re sending the message that a number on a scale or on a pant size is worth more than what it truly means to be healthy. That’s not what makes you happy in the end and we need to stop sending those messages to our kids. They’re already dealing with enough shit from us. We shouldn’t leave them hating themselves, too because they aren’t living up to some superficial ideal.

It’s Not About Glorifying Obesity … Do you need me to say that again for the ones in the back? This one is just … Do you know why? Because there are thin women who hate their bodies, too. Who hate their bodies just as much as those who are obese. Let that sink in, y’all. Not only are women who are overweight hating themselves, but there are women who are the optimal weight (according to the outdated charts in doctor’s offices) or thinner, who hate themselves. Saying we want body positivity and self love and self acceptance and self confidence in our own skin isn’t about glorifying anything other than self love and self acceptance and self confidence. No matter the number on a scale or the number on a tag on a piece of clothing, that should not dictate one’s level of love for themselves. But we let it. We let the scale, the clothing size, the diet industry, the words in commercials, the words on social media take every ounce of positivity away from us and it needs to stop. Like, yesterday. Because what it should be about is glorifying and loving ourselves, being happy and living life on our terms, not ones that are dictated to us by those who don’t even know us. We are wonderfully and beautifully made in our skin, just the way we are.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t tell anyone they should lose weight or gain weight. I don’t live in your life and you don’t live in mine. I do yoga daily and the yoga instructor I follow has a saying ‘Find What Feels Good”. I love it and it’s a good thing to live by. Find what feels good and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. But I do know that STRESS can kill you. And this kind of negativity adds to already overloaded stress levels. Loving ourselves, finding joy and happiness in our skin, isn’t about glorifying obesity. It’s about finding what feels good in our lives, whatever that is. And if someone feels good about themselves at a size 24, who has the right to tell them they should instead hate themselves because they aren’t living up to someone else’s standards?

It’s None Of Your Fucking Business … Self explanatory. Unless you’re the doctor, your opinion is just that and it shouldn’t matter. You’re entitled to have one, yes. I’m entitled, ANYONE, is then entitled to tell you to Fuck Off. Before you throw stones, check your own foundation. Before you tell me how to live, step into my shoes for the last 47 years and walk my exact path. Before you point out anyone else’s supposed flaws, better make sure you’re damn perfect in every fucking area of your life. Period. Because otherwise, It Is None Of Your Fucking Business! And if I want to dance and shake while eating chocolate cake, I will.

These last two are so very, very, VERY vital and important …

Deserving of Love and Happiness … That’s right, y’all. Those of us who are bigger and those of you who are smaller. WE ARE ALL DESERVING OF LOVE AND HAPPINESS RIGHT WHERE WE ARE! We don’t have to lose weight or gain weight to be deserving of love and happiness, and that includes love from ourselves as well as others. It also includes happiness in our jobs, out with friends, binge watching Netflix and eating a pizza with a side of brownie, going to the gym, going to yoga, asking a guy or gal out, going to a club or the hot new restaurant. We deserve to LIVE and not hide out because of the condemnation seen in the eyes of others, or heard in the whispered words when no one thinks we can hear them. We deserve freedom from the negativity and hatefulness of the public at large just because they don’t like the skin of the person they see on the outside. YOU, ME, EVERYONE is deserving of happiness and love wherever they are in their body right now. Flip off the negative, awful thoughts. Flip off the person sneering at you. Flip off the person who says ‘Maybe you need to … whatever’. Shake your ass, smile, and walk away. You don’t need that level of shit in your life. You don’t need that level of STRESS in your life. You need the happy, loving level of I’VE GOT THIS.

You deserve love. Especially from yourself. You’re worth it. That L’Oreal phrase is so so so so SO DAMN TRUE! You, me, all of us are worthy of love. We should love ourselves. Ultimately, we’re the ones who know us best and we should be kind and compassionate toward ourselves. I know it’s hard to combat the asshats out there. I know it’s hard to silence their words and jabs and sucker punches and cruelty, but we’re better than that. And if that is all you ever hear from anyone, it’s time for some new friends. If it’s your family, it’s time to stand your ground and say “No More.” Is it hard? Oh yes. But YOU ARE WORTH IT! Your life, your heart, your soul, your very essence is worth it. And the more we love ourselves, the less the opinionated assholes matter and the less we notice them and the less we feed their need for attention. Instead, we’ll give attention where it really does matter … To ourselves and the things that makes us happy and the things we’re passionate about.

We Are Beautiful … Oh yes the fuck we are. We are so damn beautiful. And if you don’t think so, Fuck You.

There are many things in this world that are deserving of our attention and focus. Hating each other for the size or color of someone’s skin is not one of them.

Many of us take better care of ourselves than the majority of the public at large realize. We walk, yoga, jog, dance, eat pretty damn good, too. We cook, we have amazing orgasms with ourselves, enjoy books, movies, coffee, naps, sports, travel … You know, all the things. We’re looked at differently though. And when someone hot and sexy looks at us and finds us hot and sexy, too? Well, now … That’s why I write the romance that I do. Curvy women who are loved and desired by the rough around the edges bad boys. We deserve the Happily Ever After even with our curves, or lack of.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not worthy or that you’re less because your body isn’t what they think is ideal. Don’t let anyone hurt you like that. They’re wrong. And you’re beautiful. And together, with love and support, we can do ANYTHING!

We’re BADASSES… Curvy and Gorgeous BADASSES!

~lissa

5 Things You Need to Know About Mac: A Simple Need Story

The fourth and what was supposed to be the last of the Simple Need books is out on Amazon and ready for your greedy eyes. I hope you’ll love him. He’s hot. He’s sexy. He’s ooey gooey sweet on the inside.

But, there are some things about the book that you need to know …

First New Book … Mac is the first new book written in the Simple Need world in about 8 years. My writing has changed a lot since 2009-2010. I have a change a lot since then. I had started the book back when Jaz’s book came out with Ellora’s Cave, but things had begun to go downhill with them and I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep going with the series with them. Needless to say, once I got all the books back from them after they closed up, I began planning to write Mac and Jackie’s story. While I tried to capture the same tone, I have to acknowledge that it isn’t because I’m not the same writer I was then.

Trevor and Trae … I introduce 2 new characters in the book. Mandi’s brothers, Trevor and Trae. They own a vintage car restoration shop and are mentioned for the first time in Jaz’s book. There’s a possibility they’ll get their own stories, too.

Short … The book is short. Yes, I know. I didn’t intend for it to be as short as it is, but that’s how it turned out. The writing is tighter. There’s not a lot of extraneous information. It tells the story I had planned way back when I started it and it fits the baseline length of the other books in the series.

The Treehouse … I had been looking on Pinterest and all these treehouses showed up in my feed. I couldn’t get them out of my head and well, Mac said he wanted one. He wanted to be different. He wanted to show a different side of himself to Jackie than the one she normally saw.

Jackie and Jaz ... Their friendship is deep and everlasting. They will not allow their friendship to change because they’re in love with others. Jackie has a past and she has protective instincts. Not for herself. She doesn’t care how others see her, but she’s protective over those she loves.

Time Didn’t Jump … The series was started back, as I said in 2009-2010. It’s been almost 10 years. However, I didn’t jump time in Mac. I didn’t jump the years. I didn’t mention time in the book, but I didn’t jump it. It’s still within the same time frame as the other books.

Those are just a few small facts about Mac and Jackie’s story to help you along. To answer some of your questions. Now, maybe answer one of mine …

Simple Need weddings … Would you be interested? Leave a comment below.

~lissa

5 Things You Need to Know About Why I Write Novellas

Publishing continues to change and shift and the length and style of books continues to do the same. Writers are not held to one length or one contract anymore. We can publish what’s right for us right here and right now.

Readers have asked me over the years why don’t I write longer. I get reviews and emails saying, man I wish this or that story was longer. So, because I am in this reboot of Lissa Matthews so to speak, I thought I’d answer this question, because I don’t see me changing the length I write too drastically in the near future. It could happen, but until then, here are my …

Time … Writing novella was a conscious choice for me. I wanted to write shorter than full length. It doesn’t take 30 forevers to write a novella. My sweet spot is between 25,000 and 40,000 words. I have plenty that are under 22,000 words and a few that are over 41,000 words. I write where the story takes me. I write what the story in my head is meant to be. I write what is necessary for me to tell through the characters eyes. Not every story is meant to be 50,000, 75,000, or 120,000 words. It doesn’t take you that long to read, either. And everyone, readers and writers, our time is precious and ever more limited and distracted. But don’t take that to mean the story isn’t important, it is. Its very important. Each one is saying something, showing me and you something, pulling us in to a different life for a moment. You can read one of my novellas and escape for a few hours and then get back to your life and the things you need to get accomplished. Time is valuable. There aren’t enough hours in our days. Most of us, even if we had an extra 6 hours would still need more. I love novellas for this reason. I can read a book, get involved, get finished and get back to my day. It allows me a little fantasy in the midst of reality. I’ve been reading a lot of full length books the last few months that take me days or weeks to finish and I’m way behind on my reading goals for the year because of this.

It takes skill … Some do not think this is true, after all, it’s a novella, how hard can it be? Some of us know it is true. And some who don’t write novellas know it’s true, as well. Not every book written has to solve a huge outward problem. Not every book written has to solve any problem at all. It could just be about sex, which is definitely not a bad thing. Nope. But just as writing long, in depth, full length novels take skill, writing novellas takes skill too.

More titles … You get more stories. Presumably. If I do my job. You get more stories. More often. And this is not about quantity over quality. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is that I’m able to finish something quicker and get it edited quicker and into your hands quicker. Several authors do this very successfully … Alexa Riley and Mina Carter. They write quick, hot books and get them out for their readers to devour.

Because I can … Yes. I said it. Because I can. I can write any length I want. As I said at the beginning of the post, with publishing the way it is, authors can write what they want, any length they want, and publish when they want. We no longer have to wait on a publisher to give us the go ahead or give us guidelines to follow, only accepting this length for this type of story. It’s in our hands now. It’s within our power. And, while it once scared me, I’ve righted that thought process and find it to be awesome now.

Price points … When my novellas were at publishers, they could charge whatever they wanted. Sometimes, they had to charge outrageous amounts in order to make money. They were slightly higher than average, but it worked for them for the most part. When things began to go downhill, they still charged outrageously and paid for it with lower sales. It was too late once they began lowering prices. I can charge for new and re-released titles whatever I want. Whatever I believe is reasonable. I have several things at $0.99 right now and some of those will go up and some will stay at that price. My novellas are worth more than $0.99. I write well. I write raw. I write real. I put real emotion into what I write. Some readers only want free books. I get that. Some only want $0.99 and some won’t pay that because they perceive it as a bad book if it’s priced that low. The market has been glutted to death with $0.99 books for several years now and honestly, while I will buy some at that price or free (usually new to me authors), I pay $2.99-4.99 for an ebook. I want to cry if it’s more than $4.99. But that’s a whole other argument (it doesn’t cost near as much to produce an ebook, no matter who you are). Especially when NY publishers charge $8.99 and up for fiction. But for these books, I often go to the bookstore and buy the print or hop over to an online shop and order the print. Which is part of the game … But like I said, that’s an argument for another time. I want to keep my price points affordable to those who read my book, but I also want to make money at my job, the same as readers like you make money at your jobs and unless a writer has rabid readers, for most, $0.99 isn’t the money maker. It’s the $0.99 money loser.

So, those are some of the reasons I write novellas over full length novels. It may change. But I’ll continue telling the story from the characters as they want and need me to tell them. They often have a specific point in their lives, a certain thing that changed for them that they want told. They may not want the whole drama spilled on the page and novellas work for them. And yes, I talk about my characters as though they’re living and breathing like you and me because in my head, they are.

I welcome questions and comments, but for now, I’m going to sign off …

~lissa