Sunday, October 11, 2020

Writing When Your Whole World Is Falling Apart

 

Things that make writers anxious

This meme really spoke to me when I saw it. Especially that first line: "Not writing." Readers have been asking (and asking) me when my next book is coming out. And they've been asking for YEARS now. 

I haven't published a book since November 10, 2018, nearly two years ago. When I think hard about that, I'm appalled. And sad. And I feel like a failure. What happened to me? 

Most importantly, what happened to my writing mojo?

Look like someone lost their "mojo"

Well, a lot of things happened. My husband's bad back, caused by the car accident that nearly killed him when he was in his late 20s, graduated to a whole new level of horrible in 2018, and he was suddenly no longer able to work. His job provided our health insurance, and the majority of our income. 

I spent much of 2018 scrambling to make my writing and editing income cover the gap. I put out three books that year -- my most productive year ever (mind you, the books were co-authored) -- and I took as much editing, formatting, and publishing work as I could squeeze in. 

I worked myself into the ground. 

It was my most successful year ever, but it didn't fill the gap in our finances. On top of that, my mom's health was on the decline, and I was her primary caregiver. By the end of 2018, I was burnt out in the worst way, and it was clear I couldn't go on the way I had been. 

The flashing neon sign was clear -- it was time for me to (gulp) go back to working in the software industry. I took a part-time job in early 2019, thinking that I could balance that job with my writing and freelance editing. That plan sort of worked, but the high price of our health insurance made it not financially feasible for the long haul. 

So I made the even tougher decision to look for full-time work. To my immense relief, I landed a great job in July, but it was going to mean a lot of hard work and long hours to ramp up technically. My mom's health was rapidly getting worse, and my husband was depressed. But still, I figured I could manage. I hadn't written a word all year, but I went to my local writers' conference in October 2019, and after the conference, I was all fired up. I didn't have a lot of time during the workweek, but I could squeeze in some writing time each weekend. I was determined - this time next year, I'd have at least one book out, if not two. 



Five days after that conference, my mom died. I'd taken my dad's death really hard, but losing my mom was a whole other level of grief. It took me months and months to climb out of that hole. By the time I did, it was late February 2020. I was finally ready to start writing again. 

On March 7, 2020, I started my next book during a writing retreat organized by my local writers group. At the time, we were still hearing that COVID-19 was only a "bad flu" and we just needed to be careful about washing our hands frequently. Four days later was the last day I went into the office. My employer told us all to work from home for at least the next three months. On March 23, our governor formally locked the state down.

And we all know what happened next... the escalating death toll from the virus, the death of George Floyd, half the world on fire (literally and metaphorically), and a host of other calamities large and small. Pile on the most contentious (and important) election season most of us will see in our lifetimes... and yeah. To say this year has been a shitshow is an understatement. 

Me after 9 months of 2020 - "Just light it, Linda."

But still I hung in there. Surely 2020 was done with the shenanigans? In July and August, I finally got back to writing that book I'd started back in March. Sure, we were still in a pandemic, but I was adjusting to it. I was ready to do this writing thing!!!

2020 every second - "But wait, there's more!"

In mid-September, I got the phone call no one wants to get: My younger sister was dead. She was just a few months past her 51st birthday. Her heart had stopped while she was asleep. 

If I thought losing my mom was bad, losing a sister was even worse. I'd expected to have her in my life for decades yet. I hadn't seen her in person since late January because of the pandemic. And now she was gone, and I'd never see her again. 

My younger sister and me as kids

She'd been my first cheerleader when I started seriously writing back in 2007. She read the initial draft of the first novel I ever finished (which remains in a drawer to this day), and she gave me honest and supportive feedback that helped me improved and keep going. She beta-read all the books I published in my mafia series. 

My sister and my mom were both avid readers, and we constantly traded books and reading recommendations. I have so many fond memories of us taking stacks of books back to the library and coming home with even bigger stacks of books. 

Again and again, I catch myself thinking of something I want to tell them -- a new book, a new TV show, some silly meme I know they'd appreciate -- and I can't. 

I'm used to being someone who's all "go, go, go!" but right now? I'm a big ball of meh. I feel like I'm slogging through mud every day. Every time someone at work asks me how I am, I start crying. I've gained back 20 of the 80 pounds I'd lost between 2017 and 2019. 

I recently saw the following "Your brain on trauma" ad on Facebook and it definitely spoke to me. I could say yes to nearly all of these: "Negative & pessimistic" - check. "Addictive" - check. "Self-sabotaging" - check. "Scattered and distracted" - check. "Demotivated & drained of energy" - double-check! "Self-critical" - oh yeah. "Emotionally cut off" - yeppers. 

Your brain on trauma

So here I am, October 2020. My writers' conference is happening again next week. Virtually, this year, so it won't be the same. But I'm still hoping it'll help me get my writing mojo back. 

Realistically, it's probably going to be a few months before I'm ready to start putting pen to paper again (yes, I do it old school -- I've written all of my novels in notebooks), but I'm hoping by this time next year that I'll have at least one book out. 

So if you've been patiently (or not so patiently) been waiting for me to get my butt in gear, this is why it hasn't happened yet. But it will, someday. I know it in my bones. 

Here's hoping for a much better 2021 for all of us. 

Hey baby, who do I need to shoot so you can write?




Sunday, March 29, 2020

TOP 5 ROMANCE! Her Two Men in London finals in the 2019 Kindle Book Review Awards!




HER TWO MEN IN LONDON is a TOP 5 finalist in the Romance category of the 2019 Kindle Book Review Awards!




More about HER TWO MEN IN LONDON

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“This book... this book was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was hot, it was sexy, it was knock your socks off great.”—Ruby Red Romance Review

“I have never been so envious and turned on while reading a book in my entire reading existence. … This MMF is a downright MUST READ for the summer but be sure to have a man or two on standby.” —Reading By the Book Blog

“What an amazing new novel that I came across by Dana Delamar and Kristine Cayne! Two new authors that will be on my radar from this fantastic MMF novel that I consumed in a matter of hours! Her Two Men in London is scorching, emotional and a breathtaking unputdownable novel that will be on your mind long after you are finished!” —Up All Night with Books

“I LOVED the story. I fell in love with this book after just the first chapter... I just kept reading and before I knew it, I was reading the last page of this book!” – Amazon reader review

When three isn't a crowd... 

It was only supposed to be a vacation fling during a writers' retreat to England and Scotland. So why does being with him--with them--feel so right?

PAIGE
My work and my daughter are my life. I agreed to a vacation fling with one man--and now there are two! Things are getting far too complicated...



RILEY
I lost hard at the game of love, and now I don't even want to play. I just want to have fun, but there's something about him--and her--that's calling to me...



CARTER
My relationship with my ex-wife gave me PTSD. I've found the man I want--but he wants us to have a girlfriend too. I'm not sure I can do that, even for him...



#FREE to read with #KINDLEUNLIMITED

GET YOUR COPY NOW!





"Whew!! Wow! I am in love!! This is the first book I have read by either author, but I cannot wait for more!! This is a super steamy story, but it also has all the emotions! Paige, Riley and Carter are well written characters with real human flaws and feelings. I really enjoyed this book!!" - Rachel Loren's Love of Reading blog (Goodreads)



Sunday, January 19, 2020

50% OFF TICKET SPECIAL - 2020 Readers & Writers Seattle Event!


Come join over 70 authors and vendors for the 4th annual Readers and Writers Author Events in Seattle on July 18th! I'll be there along with a slew of awesome authors, including Lauren Blakely. 

General admission tickets are on sale for $7 through the end of January, so get your tickets now!

Use promo code NEWYEARSPECIAL to get your discount!



Make sure you join the Facebook group as well so you get all the updates! 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Favorite books and TV shows of 2019

Once again, 2019 was a phenomenal year in books and TV for me. I didn't watch a lot of movies, so I'm going to skip over those. If you're interested in any of the books, click the covers for buy links. 

Favorite books of 2019


The Soulless/Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger -- I've had a paperback of Soulless sitting on my bookshelf for oh, umpteen million years it seems. I finally got around to reading it this summer and laughed my ass off! And then I promptly set about reading everything else Carriger has written. (I'm still working on it and enjoying every minute.) You might think, like I did, that Victorian steampunk crossed with vampires and werewolves isn't your jam. Well, you're wrong. Read these! You'll thank me later. 


The Fire from Heaven series by Ava Martell -- I picked the first one up because it was about Lucifer, and I was suffering during the drought between seasons 3 and 4 of Lucifer the TV show. Martell's Lucifer is more serious, but still great fun, and she's built a rich story world for her characters to play in. Add some swoony romance and plenty of angst, and I'm a goner! 




Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster -- More Victorian steampunk with vampires and werewolves, but this time of the sexy and angsty variety. Great worldbuilding! There's a lot more to this series, and I can't wait to dig in. Guess where my Christmas money is going!!!







Soul on Fire by Tal Bauer -- Another fantastic book from Tal Bauer. I really loved both of the leads (Ikolo and Elliott) as well as the African setting. Once again, Bauer puts you firmly in both men's shoes as they fight to stop a terrorist from hatching a horrible plan. There are some unexpected twists, and the story feels very real (and possible). I also liked how Bauer truly shined a light on the problems that plague Africa and her people and on the systemic racism that Elliott faces in the United States, instead of treating these issues as mere plot points. After seeing the problems that Ikolo and the people of Africa face, Elliott realizes that while his problems are big, theirs are enormous, and he's inspired by Ikolo to try to be part of the solution.

Bauer is truly talented; his books aren't just page-turners. They dig into the issues the lead characters face and give you some insight into what's going on around the world in cultures that aren't as frequently explored as they ought to be.

Ruined by Fen Wilde -- As with Close (a truly excellent book), Fen Wilde writes a complex, multi-layered story of complicated, true-to-life characters. I found myself puzzling over this story and characters for days after reading it, and I thank the author for writing a story that made me think long and hard about race, the immigrant experience, and the kind of psychological damage that people can inflict through the best of intentions. Fen Wilde is truly a writer to watch, and I look forward to whatever she does next.


Enemy Within & Enemy Games by Marcella Burnard -- I'm ashamed to say that Enemy Within sat on my bookshelf unread for WAY too long. I'm glad I finally picked it up because it had everything I love in a story -- impossible conflicts, twists I never saw coming, and leads who truly complement each other and are both worthy of the labels "hero" and "heroine." The same is true of the follow-up, Enemy Games. I hope more books are coming in this series, because I'm not ready to leave it yet. If you love sci-fi romance (or even if you think you don't), pick these books up now!

Favorite TV shows of 2019


Supernatural -- This final season of my all-time favorite show is the best kind of torment. Yes, it's been fifteen wonderful years, but I'm not ready to say goodbye to my boys, not ready one bit. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, and the rest of this fine cast and crew for giving it your all, and for being most-excellent people in real life as well. 


The Rookie -- The Rookie was my favorite new show of 2018, and it got even better in its second season. Nathan Fillion is great as usual, but the rest of the cast is equally good, and the storylines are compelling. Again and again this show asks: What makes a good cop? What makes a great one? And can you lead with your heart, or will that get you killed? 



Peaky Blinders -- How did I go so many years without watching this show??? Cillian Murphy is phenomenal as Thomas Shelby, the head of a crime family in post-WWI Britain. Shelby is a fascinating character, by turns cynical and mercenary, fiercely loyal to his family, and unabashedly in love with a woman who's just as complicated as he is. 



Deadwood, the movie -- Deadwood fans waited forever for this movie, and we were not disappointed. Okay -- it would have been great to have several more hours (years!) to wrap everything up, but what we got was fantastic. And even though not everyone got the HEA I was hoping for, I loved every minute. If you've never watched this show, drop what you're doing and pick up the remote!  


9-1-1 -- Yes, it can be (and often is) over the top, and I love every second of it. I especially love the characters. My hat's off to Ryan Murphy for building a show around a cast that's diverse not just in terms of race and sexual orientation, but also in age. I look forward to every episode!




Schitt's Creek -- Another show I took way too long to discover! I was in stitches from the very first episode and settled in for what I thought would be a cynical snarkfest. But the writers (father and son Eugene and Daniel Levy, who play father and son John and David Rose) surprised me by bringing real heart to the show. The romances between David and Patrick, Alexis and Ted, and John and Moira have been a pleasant surprise, as has the revelation that the Roses' lives are far richer now that they don't have any money. Catch up on Netflix now before season 6 debuts in January!


What We Do in the Shadows -- My hands-down favorite new show of 2019! If you loved The Office or Flight of the Conchords or if the idea of a vampire mockumentary sounds good to you (or even if it doesn't), check this show out. Every episode is absolutely hilarious. And so is the original WWDITS movie. You'll never look at crepe paper, traffic cones, or topiary sculptures the same way again. 


Evil -- I wasn't sure what to expect when I tuned in to this show. I'd heard it compared to The X-Files, and sure, it has a bit of that vibe in the believer/nonbeliever dynamic of a priest in training and the psychologist who works with him as they investigate possible cases of demonic possession. But Evil isn't just a "monster of the week" show. It's an intriguing examination of faith, the supernatural, and science, and the show refuses to come down on one side or the other of the argument. And with a truly chilling villain (is he a demon or is he a psychopath?) circling the two investigators and invading their lives without them quite knowing it, I'm hooked!  


Mindhunter -- I meant to check out this show about the beginnings of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences unit last year, but I lost track of it somehow. Fortunately, I was reminded of it when season 2 debuted this year, and I was hooked from the very first episode. The blend of fact and fiction isn't always easy to watch (many real-life cases and killers are featured and the details of the cases are often gruesome), but the characters are intriguingly complex, no matter which side of the law they're on. 


Prodigal Son -- I was curious to see what Tom Payne would do after leaving The Walking Dead, and I'm so very glad he decided to take on the character of Malcolm Bright -- brilliant forensic profiler and utter basketcase. Malcolm chases murderers, and he's exceptionally good at it because he grew up around a famous serial killer -- his father. The interplay between Malcolm and his dad -- who may or may not have involved Malcolm in his crimes -- is the best kind of cat and mouse game. Are the haunting images that plague Malcolm the product of a fractured psyche or are they repressed memories? And if they are memories, what does that mean for Malcolm? 


Lucifer -- Thank you, thank you, thank you, Netflix for rescuing Lucifer and giving it a new lease on life. Season 4 was funnier, sexier, and better than ever as Lucifer and Chloe deal with her realization that Lucifer is in fact, a devil of his word and always has been. While I'm sad that season 5 will be its last, I'm overjoyed that we got to spend more time with this fine cast. I can't wait to see what they cook up next year! 


Ozark -- A master class in acting and writing. Every episode of this show about a financial planner (Marty Byrde) turned money launderer for a drug cartel ups the ante. I tuned in for Jason Bateman, and I'm so glad I did. He does some of his finest work here, as does Lauren Linney playing his wife. But the real revelation of the show is Julia Garner, who plays a low-level local criminal the Byrdes get entangled with. Her character, Ruth, desperately wants a better life than she's been stuck with, and she sees an opportunity when Marty reluctantly involves her in his schemes. At first they're adversaries, and then they come to care about each other in a father-daughter relationship that neither one expected or wanted. One of the best surprises of the show is that the female characters are exceptionally well-drawn, with storylines as compelling as Marty's. I can't wait to see where the next season of this show goes. No doubt I'll be on the edge of my seat the whole time! 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

50% off SALE on 2020 Seattle Readers & Writers Event tickets!


Woot! Here's your chance to get 50% off on tickets to the July 18th, 2020 Readers & Writers Seattle event! I've signed at this event the last two years (and I'll be there again in 2020) and I absolutely love it.

General Admission and After-Party tickets are only $7 with the promo code HOLIDAYSPECIAL, so get your tickets now! (Offer ends December 31st)


Saturday, October 5, 2019

HER TWO MEN IN LONDON is a finalist at the 2019 Kindle Book Review Awards! #Menage #Romance

I'm so excited to announce that HER TWO MEN IN LONDON is a finalist in the Romance category of the 2019 Kindle Book Review Awards!



More about HER TWO MEN IN LONDON

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“This book... this book was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was hot, it was sexy, it was knock your socks off great.”—Ruby Red Romance Review

“I have never been so envious and turned on while reading a book in my entire reading existence. … This MMF is a downright MUST READ for the summer but be sure to have a man or two on standby.” —Reading By the Book Blog

“What an amazing new novel that I came across by Dana Delamar and Kristine Cayne! Two new authors that will be on my radar from this fantastic MMF novel that I consumed in a matter of hours! Her Two Men in London is scorching, emotional and a breathtaking unputdownable novel that will be on your mind long after you are finished!” —Up All Night with Books

“I LOVED the story. I fell in love with this book after just the first chapter... I just kept reading and before I knew it, I was reading the last page of this book!” – Amazon reader review

When three isn't a crowd... 

It was only supposed to be a vacation fling during a writers' retreat to England and Scotland. So why does being with him--with them--feel so right?

PAIGE
My work and my daughter are my life. I agreed to a vacation fling with one man--and now there are two! Things are getting far too complicated...



RILEY
I lost hard at the game of love, and now I don't even want to play. I just want to have fun, but there's something about him--and her--that's calling to me...



CARTER
My relationship with my ex-wife gave me PTSD. I've found the man I want--but he wants us to have a girlfriend too. I'm not sure I can do that, even for him...



#FREE to read with #KINDLEUNLIMITED

GET YOUR COPY NOW!





"Whew!! Wow! I am in love!! This is the first book I have read by either author, but I cannot wait for more!! This is a super steamy story, but it also has all the emotions! Paige, Riley and Carter are well written characters with real human flaws and feelings. I really enjoyed this book!!" - Rachel Loren's Love of Reading blog (Goodreads)



Saturday, June 1, 2019

Meet me in person and get signed books! Seattle Readers & Writers Event, July 13, 2019!



Come join me and over 50 amazing authors in Seattle on July 13th at the 3rd annual Readers and Writers Author Events: Seattle. I had a total blast at this event last year!!! 

Tickets and info:


Come get signed books from my Mafia romance series, Blood and Honor, and from my erotic romance MMF menage series, Total Indulgence! 


Finally getting to meet Xavier Neal was a real highlight of last year's event!