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You Have To Play To Win

dice

I’m clearly not a risk taker. I’ll just say that in case my years and years of publishing short stories and not full length works, waiting over a decade to even attempt editing a collection myself and starting and stopping umpteen novels weren’t enough of a clue.

I touch on the topic from time to time. Okay, I talk about it a lot, so much so that I start getting on my own nerves which only leads to more frustration.

But, with the publishing world being as finicky as it has been lately, and my not having a steady 9 to 5 in over a year, I’ve been tossing around ideas on how I can make things happen for myself, be it revising my NaNo novel, doing a kick starter for another anthology, or putting out a few volumes of my own previously published shorts.

Those things sound easy enough. And they probably are easy enough. But then the fear kicks in. A writer friend asked this morning what exactly the fear was and I told her…”fear of the end.” Sure, success might be there waiting, and so could failure but I’d never know which one it is if I never get there. I guess this is my crazy little safe zone.

The thing about my safe zone, though, is that I’m not doing what I love. I’m not going where my heart leads me. And I’m not  making any real attempt at achieving any major goal I’ve ever set for myself. So, while I’m safe from hurt and disappointment and failure, I’m also hiding from what really could be an awesome future for me and my work.

I’ve been getting signs lately. Not only had I been considering moving forward with these ideas myself, a dear writer friend tossed them out to me as well. Then this morning I had a phone conversation with my BFF and self proclaimed biggest fan, and she invited me to set up a booth at a local Women’s Expo. I had been approached by someone else about this recently and my excuse, of course, was that I didn’t have anything to offer. Sure, there’s Can’t Get Enough, but otherwise, what had I done lately? What comes next?

So, she also brought up the possibility of me putting together some collections. And I mean, self publishing now a days is too damn easy not to. I have just shy of a month to do this, and I’ve decided that I will. I mean, you can’t get mad that someone else won the lottery if you never even buy a ticket…right?

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Renee Swindle’s “Shake Down The Stars” – A Review

shake

Not so recently, I was the lucky winner of the latest novel of Renee Swindle, A Pinch of Ooh La La. I was happily surprised by this win as I had tried for it on a whim and had just finished Ms. Swindle’s second novel, Shake Down The Stars. For years and years I waited for another Renee Swindle book as I loved  her first, Please Please Please so very much.

Now, before I begin this review I must tell you that I’m forgetful. Let’s just…put that out there. I say and do things on the fly. I hoard notebooks. I write myself notes on an app on my phone. It’s how I live. I’m saying all that to say that I immediately wrote a review for Shake Down The Stars which I fully intended to post here and upload to Amazon. Who knows how that went awry, but in one of my cleaning frenzies yesterday, I uncovered the abandoned review, and well, better late than never…right?

In this ultimate comeback novel, the main character Piper won me over from page one. You see, hooking and reeling me in the beginning is important as I have the attention span of a… wait… what was I saying?

Oh, right. Piper. What a mess! But quite frankly, I need for my characters to be a bit of a mess, so I know they’re real. Fortunately, Renee Swindle shared my sentiment in this brilliantly crafted and tightly written novel where she presents readers with a character who immediately resonates. Be it Piper’s alcoholism, (whether she acknowledges it or not), family turmoil or unimaginable loss, there is a little part of this character we can all relate to.

It is all these parts of Piper that made me ask the question over and over: Who will love you at your worst?

Though Piper isn’t overtly in search or love, or any one thing in particular, it’s a question she seems to want the answer to herself. While dealing with the unthinkable in the only way she knows how, drinking until she can no longer think nor feel, engaging in reckless and promiscuous behavior and clinging to an unhealthy back and forth relationship with her ex husband, Piper often looks for answers in the stars. Star gazing is a passion of hers, and after hitting rock bottom, the stars, it seems, are all she can hold on to.

It takes the chance meeting of a perfect stranger to bring Piper’s starry gaze into focus and force her to confront her demons and, once and for all, decide who she really is, and if the real Piper is worth loving at all.

Since her breakout novel Please Please Please, I’ve found Renee Swindle to be synonymous with creating shockingly real and relatable characters and terribly realistic stories. Her much anticipated follow up proves consistent in presenting readers with a complex and flawed character that we have all at one point either known, seen or been. 

Filled with detailed descriptions, familiar settings and sharp, snappy dialogue, Shake Down The Stars is an engaging and compelling read that I highly recommend.

Now…on to A Pinch of Ooh La La!
 

So you edited your first anthology…now what?

I have a problem. No, a habit, of letting things define me. It’s never intentional, but it happens. Years ago, I was published for the first time in two major anthologies simultaneously. All of a sudden I was the girl who wrote erotica. I proudly took this on as my little niche in writing, a place where I could make a name and hopefully, someday, maybe…a living.

I published plenty. I crossed off a lot of goals on my “to be published by” list. And then I had the opportunity to achieve a major goal of mine: editing my first anthology.

As you know, it came to be Can’t Get Enough and it was a whirlwind experience.

Of course, the book wasn’t even out yet before ideas for more and more anthologies were taking over. I jotted them down. I eventually wrote them up. I decided that if this book did well, this was my chance. I could establish something. This would be my first in a heaping pile of anthologies edited by yours truly.

*Insert belly laughs here*

Though I’ve come across many wonderful people in this community of ours, several of whom turned out to be great mentors of mine, there was never anyone I really spoke to about how this really works. That nothing happens as quickly as you want it to, or does as ridiculously well as you’d dreamed it would and that, well, you do more watching and waiting than anything for a really long time.Suffice it to say, I don’t have any new calls for submissions to list and be excited about, and honestly, I don’t know if I ever will again. I know that’s the opposite of positive thinking, but I have to be real with myself if no one else.

And yes, I drafted a novel in the meanwhile and have started countless other projects. But, what have I done to really push myself forward? To really capitalize from the momentum of Can’t Get Enough’s release?

Editing the project while working a full-time job, moving to another state and caring for twins was enough in and of itself. To keep writing and submitting short stories at the same time sounded crazy.

But, that was where it all began. That was what I was known for. And apparently, I must have taken heed at some point (in my sleep maybe) because I received word a little while back that the amazing Alison Tyler will be publishing three of my shorts in two of her upcoming anthologies.

bondage

In Bondage Bites (due out in August), I have Minute to Minute and Anything But Loose, and in Hard At Work (release date TBA), I have A Hard Sell.

 

On Life and The Fast Lane

And just like that, it’s been four and a half months since I’ve blogged.

I could follow that up with the usual. How I’ve been busy, in pain, depressed, etc. but the fact remains…it’s been four and a half months since I’ve blogged.

I remain amazed and in awe that during my period of silence here and barely tweeting, “Can’t Get Enough” continues to do well, people continue to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and I still have some faithful followers of this tired, old blog.

To detail the happenings of these past months would take a long, drawn out post that I don’t want to write and I’m sure you don’t want to read. But, to be as brief as possible, I started an intense weight-loss and work-out regimine that required all of my attention (apparently) and as a result I lost nearly 50 pounds.

transformation

I also went blonde.I re-entered the work force, temping at a warehouse for a couple of months before the contract ended, and now I’m basically back where I started. Except, I now have the first draft of a novel thanks to NaNoWriMo. Yes, I participated in and completed National Novel Writing Month. I began rewrites on my WIP, but quickly became…unmotivated. So, there’s that.

Otherwise, I’m existing and trying to find ways to be more present, both here, and in life. My birthday is approaching, so it’s getting pretty dark over here.

The Story That Made Everyone L.O.L.

Here I am again, playing catch up. Always a day behind. Forgetting something or someone. But, here I am at the writing table, wrapping up guest blogs, an article and an exciting questionnaire that I hope to be able to share details about really soon.

Yesterday’s stop on the Can’t Get Enough blog tour (see, how I so casually stopped counting the days? That’s because I’ve lost count!) was at Tamsin Flowers’ place where she posted a steaming hot excerpt from her contribution to the book, Those Damned Cobbles.

I’m so glad Tamsin chose to excerpt her story, because as I may have mentioned, hers was one of the stories that I read from at Charis Books in Atlanta last Thursday, and there were two women in the audience that whispered how much they could relate, and let me tell you, the last two sentences of her story provoked a huge LOL and a confession from one or two women in the crowd about bike riding.

Read her lovely summary of the collection and her hot excerpt here.

Today’s scheduled stop is at Rose Caraway’s place and I’ll be sure to edit this post with links as soon as it goes live.

Also, I joined Facebook again.

I’ll just give you a minute to let that sink in.

Just Ask…

desi

You can, you know. And most times, I mean it. Like now, when several writers and bloggers chose to interview me as opposed to posting blurbs and excerpts (all that is great, too, keep it coming – and I love the giveaways!).

And I don’t play favorites (seriously, I don’t) , but I especially love question and answer sessions, even when they’re not especially personal, but I do get to give my point of view.

See, for some reason, I always feel the need to explain myself. Even when no one’s asked for an explanation. I like to “back it up” if you will, with more information, with a little peek into my brain, the way I see it. You know.

And today, with the wonderful Malin James on Day 6 of the Can’t Get Enough blog tour, I got to do just that, or at least let her know some behind the scenes details on just how Can’t Get Enough came to be. Why I chose the stories I chose, what my motivation was behind the collection.

I love the way it turned out and I hope you will, too. Here you go.

Can’t Get Enough is officially available today!

Can't Get Enough

And not just on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Cleis Press, Books-A-Millions, it’s actually, physically in bookstores all around! My plan today was to ride around Atlanta and snap some “out in the wild” picks, but long story short, it didn’t happen. Contributor Monica Corwin however went into her local Barnes and Noble and this is what she saw:

cantbook

See it stuck right in there between America’s Best Non-required Reading and Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Big Book of Submission?

I swear, it gets more surreal every day.

Though some of the more anxious of us tried our luck early with Amazon (and received our books) , the official release date is today, so you can go to any of the buy links and click freely, or if you’re at your local mall or bookstore, look for me!

The blog tour has been under way since July 10th, but there seems to have been a mishap, so today is an off day. However, you can still visit Quixotic Orchid and comment to win a copy of the book. She will draw one name at random on the 21st.

Can’t Get Enough already has two five star reviews on Amazon, and a fantastic, lengthy and complimentary review at The Vodka Press where Jacqueline Applebee, Annabeth Leong, Miel Rose, JoAnne Kenrick, Sophia Valenti, Tilly Hunter, Shoshanna Evers, and myself all got great mentions.

For a book that hadn’t officially been released until now, the buzz has and the rankings have been amazing.

Here are the buy links:

Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Cleis Press
Books A Million
Black Expressions