Tuesday, July 6, 2021

I'm Adapting a New Mindset about My Writing

My writing burn-out started in about late 2015 after three years of publishing about 15 books. I would not recommend that to anyone. I felt like my writing wasn't coming from my heart anymore, and I was going through the motions. I didn't want to give up on my dream, so I kept going. Then my marriage fell apart in July 2016. I fought hard for it, but it was unsalvageable, and I moved back to my home city in February 2017. Life was stressful in the beginning as a single mom. I now had to work hard to earn money to help pay for a second household. Besides struggling with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, I had safety and other issues to deal with. In the throes of the difficult time since July, I managed to write a fantasy novel called Angeline 43, and it was published by Clean Reads on my birthday! The book was a cathartic release for me of all my heartache and pain. It pretty much was a once-off thing, and I'm not sure if I'll ever write a fantasy novel again - not to say I wouldn't like to, but it doesn't come as naturally to me as romance. At the time, though, it just flowed.

As I adapted to my new lifestyle, I found solace in writing my book about cats which was published as Cat Therapy in 2019 but will be republished under a new name soon - The Cat Love Hotel. My heroine was a divorcee, and I poured a lot of myself into the book. I enjoyed writing the book so much, but it wasn't always easy, as I was still coming out of my writing burn-out and I had far less time on my hands. I had hope, though, that I would come out of the burn-out fully. 

I did gradually come out of the burn-out and wrote two contemporary romances in the last few years. At first, romance was hard for me, as my romantic and idealistic view about romantic relationships had been shattered by the divorce. It slowly healed, though. I'm excited to share that my first in the contemporary romance series is with my editor at the moment. I hope to self-publish it sometime this year. I'm doing the process so much slower now, but I prefer it. I get to savour each moment and not rush things. I'm also actually putting decent money into the process this time because I'm discovering that's the only way to make it work.

But, I have a confession to make: I have been struggling with writing so much the last few years. It's not the burn-out anymore. I don't know how to describe it. I start writing a book and write a couple of pages, and then this depression sinks into me as I stare at the pages and try to write more. It's so weird and it's so upsetting. The thought of writing the book makes me feel almost sick. I have started up so many books and never gotten further than Chapter One. Thankfully, I managed to get the two contemporaries out although I did struggle with the second one a bit. It's not that I didn't enjoy the story, but I had to work hard to stick to it until the end. As far as my self-love books go, that problem didn't feature. They came from somewhere up in the clouds. I know that sounds funny, but I feel like I didn't even really write them, that they were bigger and stronger than me. I sincerely believe they came from my higher self or were channeled.

I have been butting heads with myself for years now, trying to get the writing to flow. On Saturday, I was part of a team of mentors in a Zoom meeting, and we were chatting to some new authors about writing. One of the mentors spoke about sticking to writing every day, and I just cringed inside. I felt like such a hypocrite. How could I help newer authors if I wasn't writing properly myself? I felt like a fake wanting to be a writing coach even though I spend my day editing books and have plenty of hands-on experience with the work of authors. I keep asking God / The Universe / Source how I can get my writing mojo back. I keep asking for a breakthrough or inspiration, or something. It's been so frustrating. And worst of all, the guilt has been strong. I know that sounds strange. It's not like I rely on my writing to support my family, so why do I feel this guilt that I'm not producing content? Because I firmly believe and feel deep inside that it's one of my purposes in this life. I've been given this one thing to do, and I'm not doing it. Hence the guilt.

Then, something happened inside me a few days ago - like a realisation. I think I'd reached a head with this struggle, as if I needed answers, and I needed them now. I've been reading a book by the Newton Institute that goes into hypnotherapy sessions that people have that take them to the "life between lives" place, where they speak to spirit beings and find out why they came to the Earth in this life and the purpose of their life. The one lady knew she'd been lazy in her life and wasn't doing all the things she was meant to do. My stomach churned when I read that. But then another woman felt that she just needed to relax and be and not strive - that her beauty would shine out by just being herself. I wondered which one I was. Was I failing by not writing and following my dream? I so want to write. I feel like I'm failing myself, too. 

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev from Pexels

So, what happened a few days ago is this thought just came to me - like a knowing voice inside me. It said I must stop striving for inspiration. I must stop trying to find a book to write and think up a decent idea that's going to stick. I must just be, and the inspiration will flow TO ME at the right time. I don't have to stir up a muddy pond, searching for some gem inside it, but rather, I must wait for that beautiful, clear stream to flow toward me and engulf me so that I'm flowing again.

Then today, I read about the turtle spirit animal. I love the turtle spirit animal and feel a kinship with him. He's a slow-mo guy. He takes his time with life and just enjoys being. I need to just trust, and the inspo will come at the right time. I also did a guided meditation this morning, and it was about finding joy, about how we are worthy of experiencing joy no matter what. She said that one of the things that stops people from feeling that they deserve joy is that they think they have to work hard before they can reap the reward of joy. It's so embedded in our culture and in some people growing up that we feel we don't deserve joy until we have achieved something. That's how I feel about my writing. Yes, there is always the natural joy that comes from finishing a writing project, but that doesn't mean I can't have joy now. I don't have to feel I'm not worthy of joy because I'm not working on another book. I will get there - at the right time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Sweet Songs of Summer Playlist


The authors of the Sweet Songs of Summer Sweet Romance Anthology have come up with a playlist for their short stories. I love the songs on this playlist, and I am fussy with music. Anyway, each author has explained why they chose their song. It's so interesting to see everyone's perspective and what inspired some of the stories.

Thank you so much to Francine Beaton and Meg Chronis for organising this YouTube playlist. The group of authors have been awesome in their promotions. I admit, I've been slack the past few weeks as I've been inundated with multiple editing jobs.

Anyway, ENJOY...

Photo by Marcelo Chagas from Pexels


Garth Brooks – To Make You Feel My Love

I chose To Make You Feel My Love because the words are relevant to the circumstances my heroine finds herself in. Jennifer is recovering from a significant trauma and needs to find the courage to move forward with her life. The song I chose is from the soundtrack for the movie Hope Floats.




If you’ve read any of my books, you may know by now, I’m a huge Ronan Keating and Ed Sheeran fan. I’ve used their music as inspiration in most of my books. For Chances I’ve chosen Ed Sheeran’s Perfect. As this is a ‘friends to lovers (or rather sweethearts)’ trope, one part of the lyrics resonated with me:

'Cause we were just kids when we fell in love

Not knowing what it was

I will not give you up this time

And just because in the official music video Ed and the girl is so sweet. How could I not choose it?




“Marry you” by Bruno Mars. Kind of a spoiler, but the joyfulness of the song is fitting, I think!




The song I chose for my inspiration is Love Bites by Deff Leppard. My story is about love between an emotionally wounded photographer who takes on a new assignment to try to recover from her cheating fiancé, and her client who is a very successful cookery author. The combination of love and food, and photography. What’s better? It’s a stunning song and also allowed for a bit of dedication to the hero’s late mom, as his friend called his restaurant Leppards, after her favorite group.




My choice of song is  'WOMAN IN LOVE' sung by Barbra Streisand

It's a song of deep feeling but of uncertainly.  The protagonist is an attorney so the line in the song "It's a right I defend" resonates with a phrase a lawyer would use often. The protagonist is in love with her movie maker boyfriend but her nasty stepsister keeps reminding her that the media says he is in a relationship with somebody else.




Mine is Seeing Blind by Niall Horan & Maren Morris 

The reason I chose my song, Seeing Blind is because, in life and in my story, people are often not who they seem




Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley

When I was first asked to write a short, I was asked to take my inspiration from a song off a list of the ten greatest love songs of all time. I chose Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” It was just the sort of song the string quartet in the story would play at a wedding, and it turned out to be the perfect, schmaltzy piece for the big romantic gesture at the end.




Moments – Westlife

My short story is entitled "Every Moment" because when two people fall in love, they need to savour every moment they have together. As beautiful as love is, it may not last forever. Life can throw us curveballs such as loss, change, separation, conflict, growing apart. Every moment with the one you love is special and needs to be cherished. Westlife conveyed this idea so much in their song, "Moments." They conveyed how much my hero, Craig, enjoyed every moment he shared with Carla. She'd brought something into his life he'd needed for a long time. Every relationship we experience grows us and brings us closer to love, whether it lasts or not. True love changes us and empowers us.




At my worst – Pink Sweat$

I chose the song because it relates so much to my story in a certain way, and it's one of my favourite songs. The song is about being loved at your worst, to get that person who will love you no matter what the world throws or whatever burdens one may carry. Being loved when things are smooth and nice is good, but the greatest test of how much love can endure is when one has to see a person's worth through those challenging moments, even at their worst moments.



 Melissa Volker created a playlist for all the songs, you can find here:



 So, this week you’ve read more about the authors, their stories, and now the songs which inspired them. Tomorrow is release day. Go play those songs to get you in the mood – then pre-order it at your favorite Amazon store right here:

US: https://amzn.to/3yb02dE

UK: https://amzn.to/3onBJVm

CA: https://amzn.to/3wbSjtZ

AU: https://amzn.to/3orx1pQ

Monday, April 12, 2021

Cover Reveal for ROSA Sweet Romance Anthology

I'm so excited to share the cover for the anthology I've taken part in. It's organised by Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa.

Sweet Songs of Summer: An Anthology

Add to TBR: https://bit.ly/3rY7sg2 
Bloggers Sign up: https://forms.gle/9uyb4fAzg44SgT1J6

The Romance Writer’s Organisation of South Africa brings you an anthology featuring new and seasoned authors. 

We all need a little bit of sweet in our lives. And that’s why the authors at ROSA, thought it would be a wonderful idea to bring you the Sweet Songs of Summer! Join nine authors as they bring you romance wrapped up in a beautiful, pink bow!

The wonderful words of Alissa Baxter, Francine Beaton, Lara van Lelyveld, Lorna Kelly, PG Barker, Melissa A Volker, Meg Chronis, Kathy Bosman, Tlalane Manciya in a sweet, romantic collection of stories to happily ever after. 

About My Story

Recently unemployed, Carla takes up her friend Milly’s offer to house-sit her beach house and look after her dog Katie. Milly assures her that the guy staying there already has a girlfriend and won’t mess with Carla’s tender heart. Carla has come out of another toxic romantic relationship and doesn’t want her heart broken again.

Photo by Nguyễn Thanh Ngọc from Pexels

Brit Craig is busy shooting for the lead role in a movie, and he’s not in the mood for having a strange woman in the beach house at such a busy time. But almost as soon as Carla arrives, he’s shocked at his intense attraction to her. Carla finds herself warming up to Craig’s easy and friendly manner way faster than she’d ever have anticipated. And, well, his girlfriend is just a relationship of convenience. But she doesn’t recognise that he’s a Hollywood celebrity. 

Is a non-celeb from another country worth Craig risking his reputation and precious time? Carla fears the worst about relationships. Is it even safe to risk an affair with the cute, mysterious friend of a friend?