It’s March…WTF?!?

I look around and wonder where the hell the first part of the year went… What have I done? What do I have to show for the first 70 days? I had such grand plans for 2024 and though it’s not anywhere near over, I’m struggling to find my way and dig myself out of the hole I’m in.

I have a lot of books I want to write. I have a few I’d like to revise. I have a new pen name I’d like to get off the ground. And I have Ella Claire that I’d like to add more titles to. Plus…so much other stuff. I’m not getting any younger over here.

So, why have things gone tits up for me this year? A lot of things out of my control. A lot of stress. A lot of healing past trauma. A lot of thinking to the point of overthinking. And, a lot of nothing. I’ve written words but can’t seem to find the end of the books. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself and had multiple panic attacks. Anxiety has been at an all time high for me with writing. What I find weird, is that I used to be able to turn to writing. It didn’t make me anxious. It didn’t render me unable to do this. I really, really, really want to blame it on menopause.

I haven’t had a vacation in years. I haven’t gone anywhere, done anything in years. I have a feeling that has a little something to do with it.

I’ve picked up some hobbies again and they serve to calm me and give my hands something to do.

Comparisonitis on social media doesn’t help. That I do recognize is an issue and I’ve taken my own and other’s advice and decided on putting it away through the rest of the month. It wasn’t helping me anyway, at least in the book department… Okay, that’s not entirely true. It has helped me find a lot of books that I want to read and that have been added to my books list.

There’s some perfectionism going on, too. I want these books that I am writing to be amazing. I want anyone who reads them to love them. And I’m fighting myself over every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter as a whole.

And there’s some discouragement, too. I haven’t had any book sales since December and even then with a new release, there weren’t many sales. And I think it’s the first time in years…if ever that I haven’t had any sales at all for months in a row. I have 4 titles in Kindle Unlimited and there’ve been no page reads. Those things are disheartening and discouraging. Am I going to put all this worry and effort into new books only to have them not sell? Is it because I won’t put cartoon/illustrated/vector covers on them? Am I in the Amazon dungeon? Does Draft2Digital have a dungeon, too, because I haven’t sold any books there, either. I don’t know. I do know that it’s really scary to have a backlist and not even one sale, not even one page read. And I honestly don’t remember this ever happening to me.

Yes, I know I had to cancel some preorders, too, but no one was even preordering anything, so…

I mentioned to a friend yesterday about it all and she said I need to write in a different subgenre of romance. I’ve wondered if I need to walk away from romance all together. I don’t know. But at least for now until the end of March, I’m going to be concentrating on new words, blogging here, sending out newsletters and not checking or doom scrolling Instagram or Threads. I already didn’t doom scroll on Facebook. I definitely know better. I’m going to focus on the words I write and the people on my newsletter and anyone who may still read my blogs.

Lissa

 

3 Days After Christmas…

The Billionaire of Gumdrop Valley is Available. Again.

I was cleaning up my month-at-a-glance dry erase calendar for January and working on Checkered Curves which will be turned in on January 1st to Amazon for release on the 5th (a week later than originally planned) and realizing that I’ve come a long way since the beginning of the year.

I had a few books re-covered and released them wide. (A Hunky Holiday, Slide Down on Me, Break Me)

I revised and re-released books one and two in two different series, also with new covers (Malachi’s Word, Eli’s Promise for The Bar Next Door) and (Curves to Distraction, Racing the Curves for Stick Shift Motorsports).

I wrote and released three new titles (Hands Down, The Billionaire of Gumdrop Valley, Abe’s Law (book three, The Bar Next Door)). Checkered Curves will be finished in December but released in January, so it’s technically part of each month/year.

That’s more than I’ve done in many years and even though I don’t have a marketing plan for any of it, I’m barely on social media, I don’t pay for ads, and I’m not making money, I am pretty fucking proud of the work I’ve done, the growth I’ve experienced, and the things I’ve learned.

I’ve also started working on six new releases under the Lissa Matthews name for 2024 and started playing with ideas for 3-4 new releases under my sweet romance name, Ella Claire. I’m also working on some things under my secret pen name, too.

I’m thinking about what titles I want to re-release in 2024, as well, and plan to ask those on my newsletter about them soon. I have quite a few that are just sitting around and they’re not doing anyone any good stuck in a file on my computer.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I’m happy with my progress and I’m excited about all that’s coming soon.

Lissa

 

Just a comment on writing loneliness…

I miss writing partners, write-a-thons, all night writing sessions with other writers, someone to go to bookstores with to write, local writing friends, online writing sprint parters, etc…

Now, A LOT of that is my fault and I accept that. Not being on social media anymore takes me out of visibility in every way. I didn’t have a strong social network for a number of years as it was, so to drop away entirely just weakened it to the point of I’m pretty sure anyone that ever knew I existed…forgot me.

That was a trade off I was willing to make to get my creative brain and mental health back.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss those things I mentioned above. And that’s okay. Would I like those things again? Sure. Without a doubt.

I do still have a couple of writers I am in contact with from time to time. We check in and check up on each other and I am so grateful for them.

Anyway…

Camp NaNoWriMo starts on Thursday.

My self-inflicted writing challenge for March ends at midnight tomorrow night

And I’ll clue y’all in on what I’m doing and what I’ve done with regards to both later this week.

 

The Muddling Middle

I’ve been writing this whole month of March.

The. Whole. Month.

It’s a challenge. No, really. It’s a writing challenge I set for myself and I’ll tell you about it when the month is over, which…it’s not.

*glares at the calendar and how many words are left to write*

As you know, I work on several projects at once. I’ve never been a monogamous writer. I cheat on WIPs ALL THE TIME. There are good and bad things about this way of writing and I’ll go into that another time. However, for the purpose of this blog, one of the ways this is not so good is that multiple WIPs reach the middle at the same time. UGH.

Two of my roughly five active projects have reached the middle. Double UGH.

There’s always a book with a muddling middle being written. That’s the way this game of writing works. There’s always a moment in the middle when a writer questions why she began writing in the first place, why she thought she could write a fucking book, why she didn’t just stab the characters at the first sign of trouble and what would happen if she did that now… Writing life choices, y’all. Writing life choices.

And while I can and do work on others when I’m stumped with the need to mull things over, at some point I have to get back to the muddling middle of these two WIPs so that I can get through it and over to the other side, sliding toward the finish line.

When these two are finished, another couple will have reached that same middle ground and I’ll have the same questions pop into my head and I’ll feel extra stabby for a bit.

For now, though, the knives are still tucked away.

Are you curious about them? The books, I mean… Cool. Me, too.

What I can tell you is that one is the 3rd book in a series that has taken me millennia to finally write, and the other book is the 1st in a new series no one asked for, but I hope people will like it just the same.

Hope y’all are well, safe, healthy, and finding something to smile about.

Just Keep Writing…

Since October 12th, I’ve been down in Florida and during this time, I’ve managed to scratch out a couple thousand words. That’s much less than a week’s worth when I’m at home, but for these 3 weeks, I’ve been helping out family and having the mental energy necessary to write has been a challenge.

I’m mentally, physically, even emotionally exhausted. Being a caregiver, short-term or long-term is not for the faint of heart. It’s definitely not for the selfish or the ‘me’ mentality. It requires patience, kindness, and the ability to scream internally when you can’t scream externally.

Normally, I would have said, ‘I just can’t. I’ll just wait until I get back home and get my head back on straight, catch up on sleep, on de-stressing, on XYZ… And then, I’ll start writing again.’ I haven’t done that. I’ve eked out words here and there, most of which don’t make much sense and most of which will be edited out. I also not upset about it, about the lack of progress on a novella I’d hoped to have finished long before November. I’m barely halfway.

I’ve texted with a couple of friends since I’ve been here. I’ve mostly taken my mom or grandma to the Dr, the store, to run whatever errands need to be taken care of, etc… while my mom is recovering from a fall that left her with multiple fractures in one arm along with a plate and nine screws in her wrist. Her sleep schedule is way off which means that mine is, too. By the time I fall asleep around 2-3am… my brain and body have had enough.

Writing is often an escape, sometimes a joy, a lot of times very hard work. Right now it’s not an escape. I can’t think straight enough for it to be an escape and I don’t have the time to sit and immerse myself in a story. I cobble together a few words, try to figure out a storyline in the moments I may have a second to think. I crave and cherish time to myself, something I haven’t had any of for three weeks. I don’t think I’ll be taking that for granted when I return home.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful I can be here and I can help out when needed because no one else in the family can come. I have the freedom and flexibility in my life and schedule that my sister and cousins don’t. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my grandma who is 95. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my mom. I am close with both of these women, but we’re all also cut from the same stubborn piece of cloth and it does pull on the nerves from time to time.

All this, though, is to say… Whatever the circumstance, writing can happen. Even if it’s ten words a day. Five words a day. It’s like the jigsaw puzzles my grandma and I do when I’m here and there’s some down time. It’s one piece at a time. It may be a total of one thousand pieces, but one piece at a time gets you one step closer. It’s the same with writing. One word, five words, ten words in a novella or novel doesn’t seem like much, maybe a drop in a bucket, but it’s one, five, or ten words that weren’t written before and it’s one, five, or ten words closer to the goal.

So, if you find yourself in need of writing but you don’t have much time, you’re exhausted and don’t know which way is up or down and everything seems to be going sideways… Just add one word, five words, ten words… They don’t have to make sense. They just have to be there.

I love y’all… And I’ll be in touch again soon.

 

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