Ugh! Anxiety and Deadlines.

How do you react when you don’t finish a project when you plan? When your doing something that is entirely self-driven schedules help hold you accountable, but sometimes for one reason or another you just don’t meet them. Then you wake up one day and realize “Oh…I was supposed to be done by today.” It’s not a fun feeling, and for me it provokes some anxiety.

So I’m finishing Come at Night, which is the first book of The Marquess series that I was supposed to finish months ago. Why has it taken so long? The story was thicker, better, and more interesting than I initially planned. It went from an erotic short story to a sprawling tale of politics, gender, and redemption. And ,as much as I love the dirty business, I love those things just as much when they’re explored in an interesting way. Still that development wasn’t planned. I wanted to have the book done by Christmas, but at this point I’m only going to be able to deliver the “preview” short story. That’s fine, and that short story will be more than worth its small cost. However it is disappointing to be where I am now.

Yet, as I reflect the importance of realizing how and why you miss a schedule is important because you can prepare better next time….or realize what affected your inability to meet the schedule at that time. So what happened to me? I got tired of writing smut. I’m brand new, but I was spending an average of eight hours a day on several different stories…most of which aren’t finished. Most of which people promised to beta read and edit and…never got back to me on consistently, which lead to me saying “I’ll give them a week…I’ll give them another” because I know I need feedback like any other writer. So I sort of burned myself out…however it was sort of a blessing because then I focused on my other stories. Stories you won’t hear much about, but I will  tell you they’re great. One romance is going to be about 200 pages and I’m on page 50, which is actually amazing because I started the story on the first and have been running around for weeks trying to finish paintings and presents for the holidays. Still…it hasn’t made me feel great.

Not completing a task you set out for yourself can be disheartening, especially because you are entirely responsible for it. Whether you just temporarily burn out like me, or whether you’re pushing yourself constantly to finish there is a struggle to reconcile why you couldn’t finish. It’s depressing, but for those of us building a platform and small business it is worrying. You begin to question if you can do it. You begin to make ideas for change but them worry you can’t do what you need to in order to be successful. Some people balk at me when I describe this and say “It’s your own fault. Have a tougher skin,” as though that makes the feelings about the situation go away. It doesn’t. It may be my fault…and what does that matter? We can be upset at ourselves and the situation and still have “tough skin”. When you’re responsible for your business, your books, your blogs, your livelihood, and your dreams it is frickin scary! That’s the bottom line, and when things don’t go as planned it is even scarier

But to conquer that feeling you just have to accept it.

That is something I’m really struggling with because I’m very scared. I’ve been strong armed into spending money over the holidays to maintain certain relationships I need in my life and I have been forced to buy a new phone by relatives(long story). My finances are more than a little tight, which adds stress and anxiety to my life in general. Now writing isn’t just about the money though if you’d like to buy my books please help a sista out. Writing is what I love to do and it is what I can almost always do at any time of the day. My dream career would be to be a team leader/research in a non-profit organization and also have a career writing on the side. I’ve been writing since I was a child and this career is amazing, but it is never stable and always changing with technology and interest. Every day is a gamble. Heck, blogging is a gamble because people make new blogs every day, and even those that aren’t active for more than a week can bury yours to the bottom of the search pile regardless of SEO keywords.

However, to get to where you want to be you have to take that gamble and accept that sometimes you won’t meet a deadline. Sometimes you will discover that what you’re doing needs more time and care than you can give and you have to put it aside. All you can do is accept that sometimes you won’t meet the deadline and that your anxiety about that is ok and normal. More importantly, you can begin to figure out what to do next time. That won’t fix the now. It won’t let you go back in time and finish the project. But it will let you feel like you’re taking a step forward towards completing the goal. That can be the difference between falling into a funk over the situation and finding a new way to push you to completion next time.

What do you all think?

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In Response to: “Racism and Intersectionality in YA Fiction”

I found this thoroughly interesting Post from The Paige Turner Blog featuring an essay on Young Adult lit and feminism written for their class…and I couldn’t help but read and write a response to it! Give it a look over if you like.

I absolutely loved this post and I wanted to do a thorough response to it, a sorta “Dear author” moment because this essay demands proper attention and response. I pick apart a lot of the arguments here and take issue with many of them, but that serves to point out the thought provoking nature of this piece. There are a lot of good points here that simply don’t satisfy me….but I love this piece regardless. I hope the author doesn’t think I’m just shit talking because I’m an asshole because I’m trying to give their arguments the time, dedication, and attention it deserves even from an opposing and critical viewpoint because that’s how we all grow and engagement on these topics matters to me and my life as a woman and a feminist. I will also add I wrote this with my hands shaking from a sugar crash.

Here’s what I wrote in response:
Wow your essay is absolutely fascinating and I’d love to pick your brain abit because as a recent grad I’m totally missing the college world…

You say “Collins thusly reinforces the detrimental effects of having a character that, on the surface level, seems to be an inspirational character, but falls short of the racial divide.” I think you make some salient points, but miss some of the goals. Here the suggestion is Katniss being read as white is the problem as is her relationship to the black characters of the book. I think the stronger argument is that in the movies “olive skin” becomes a very specific type of white manifested via Jennifer Lawrence. But addressing the book writing you are most certainly right that Katniss becomes a white savior, which is especially fascinating in the context of the backlash of so many readers being forced to realize there reading Rue as white was wrong.

A minor weakness in your argument is that you acknowledge this while still claiming it is the genre and thus the authors fault for the audience assumption of Rue’s race. YA or any genre is not so much as fault as you can say the industry around it, and your argument would have been stronger if you clarified that the industry and its standards are different than the genre and both are different from the audience, while they still inform each other. The author attempted to bring diversity into YA, but the problem isn’t YA but the assumption of whiteness as the default state of being in every story. Though Rue’s depiction is still problematic in some ways, the author did something write in casting Rue as innocent, hopeful, and pure when black skin generally means that won’t happen. In a way that’s why the audience didn’t make that connection, society and the industry simply don’t do that. Innocence is pure and purity is white, and this book said “No” and the audience didn’t catch it because of media in all forms and genres saying Black people aren’t as innocent and pure and sweet as white people.
The biggest failure of the first book and film is a lack of time characterizing people outside of Katniss, which is one part the narcissism often present in YA, but very much is a reflection of white hegemony. Rue’s life only gains meaning in relation not only to Katniss, but being a representation of Katniss’s sister Prim, which truly denies Rue’s existence. Much like how women are shoved in the metaphorical refrigerator(just look up women in refrigerators if that reference eludes you). This is the most recurrent problem I see in YA literature, where most often characters of color are simply an extension of white protagonists. Even in things like The Princess Diaries white side characters are more likely to be described as individuals than non-white characters whose primary function is to be there for diversities sake more so than to have their own life and character. Rue exists to die for Katniss to rebel. It’s a shame because it eerily mirrors the now-outdated but still impactful 1930s and 1950s film/book An Imitation of Life where the light skinned and dark skinned black women are sort of sacrificial lambs, where their significance only occurs under white protection and approval which manifests as a black woman’s ideas being credited to a white woman and that black woman serving the white woman under the guise of being friends. Its sad that things haven’t changed so much.

As a fellow writer, I’d say avoid statements like “Bella Swan, again, a white female character, who has zero redeeming qualities, is put in the middle of the conflict between the vampires and werewolves,” unless you explain why you feel she is this way. You have to prove everything you say and back it up, and this is a opinion that is written in a way that lacks academic authority. I’d recommend say “Bella, again a white female character, who is written as being passive, lacking strong characterization in her personality, having a life beholden to two men, and ultimately is just an author/reader insert is put in the middle of the conflict between the vampires and werewolves”. The book is popular for a reason so when you write a bit more authoritatively and point out specifically what you mean you can really convince people of that opinion. And this would set up a great argument too. I’d respond to the Native Americans as Werewolves point, by agreeing, but also saying that it is in a way an exotification teetering on positive stereotypying, which still has a negative impact. The werewolves are almost more “spiritual” and consider themselves the protectors of the “natural”, which is an obvious stereotype…but it is presented as almost alluring via what’s his nuts(sharkboy). Yet even his being a jealous guy is a manifestation of a “savage” emotion.

Further, while it may serve you paper you suggest having insults thrown on the basis of “dog and mongrel” is reinforcing hegemony, which inadvertently suggests acknowledging bias and the hatred bread from it is inherently problematic, whether you intended it or no. You say “These subtle messages that are being sent in YA fiction are extremely harmful to the audiences, because it shows them that this type of behavior is acceptable and goes beyond the realm of a fantasy book; that it can be repeated in real life.” But this is a great leap without context. Showing that it happens doesn’t make it acceptable, and it can be repeated in real life. Pretending it doesn’t leans towards the far more harmful “I don’t see color so how could I ever be biased” willfully ignorant mindsets that allow bigotry to truly propagate. This argument  feels contradictory.

While I truly do like this essay there is a certain judgmental nature to it, and I don’t mean that as an insult, but the bottom line of this essay is feminists don’t write YA, read YA, and if you’re a feminist you should stand opposed to it. The nature of literature of any kind is far more complex than that, and I sense the author know that, but is sacrificing it for the sake of this paper. The core belief of feminism is female choice and rights…and to be judged fairly, but it seems unfair to say Kristen Stewart or any actress playing Bella could never be a feminist. I don’t know it feels like if I said Leo DiCaprio must be a racist for playing Colonel Candy in Django Unchained. It feels like the suggestion is every feminist must not read/like/or  recommend Twilight and other YA series, which is a problematic argument and ultimately unfeminist in itself by dictating  the choices of other women and feminists. Ultimately this essay begins to fall apart because it falls into the trap of promoting restricting stories which many anti-feminists and racists take as what progressives want. You suggest that having two women fight each other is anti-feminist, which is suggesting that every woman should sit around and sing peace to the world. That seems reductionist and ultimately consigns women to limited roles in text. Ultimately this essay does a lot, but it  drops to ball with broad sweeping statements in order to prove its point which hurts its own arguments. I say this because As a bisexual woman of color I find myself repeatedly saying “No that’s not the problem because that puts women in as much of a box as anything else” and I don’t say it because your wrong…but because you say X is inherently wrong. The Allegiant series is wrong for having two women fight against each other, is your assertion, but saying that is problematic too. The question is how these things are done and handled.

Much like the problem of Rue being there to bolster Katniss, the problem is a lack of characterization, motive, and principle. Men fight men all the time and it isn’t a problem because men are often depicted as just being people with motives, passion, and ambition. They are complex characters not obligated to stand together or alone, and that’s how all characters should be. The solution is saying this troupe or plot is inherently anti-feminist. That’s reductionist and can be anti-feminist in itself. The solution is saying “This is why this doesn’t work. This is what makes these ideas bad”. That’s what I want to see more of and that’s what I wish this essay like so many others did more of (hence why I stopped reading The Mary-Sue unfortunately).

In short this essay and its arguments would be more convincing with specifics about why these things are problematic instead of saying they’re wholesale problematic. By just saying this white girl saves this black girl, that YA is the problem without separating the industry from the author from the audience, by just saying women fighting each other as men watch is the problem you make broad sweeping statements that limit stories and are honestly a wee bit offensive to other feminists, and quite frankly miss a lot of what is wrong about these issues. It is not that they exist. I’m a black woman the white hierarchy exists and I live it. Acknowledge it. That doesn’t mean the author is endorsing racism or anything by recognizing it. It fact I welcome it because that is my lived experience, and so long as it is done in a thoughtful way it is usually fine. The problem with YA is ignorance, and a fascination with white cis-gender femaleness so when authors do try to do more they make exotic Native American beasts, they make a black girl a symbol not a character, and we all lose. When you refuse to acknowledge people as characters, as feminists, and feminism as complex, as how women/other marginalized people relate to characters as complex you ultimately cripple a good portion of your argument by doing the progressive version of what you critique. And to be honest a lot of this paper reminds me of talking to white people who just don’t get the difference between showing black people all as the same stereotypes and acknowledging that there are black people who live in the ghetto. If this was acknowledged as a core issue this essay would have soared.

BUT the fact that you were willing to tread in these waters at all, and dig into many of the problems of the YA industry, genre, and audience demonstrates a thoughtful intelligence that makes me excited to read more. The wonderful thing about the internet is being able to engage with so many wonderful thinkers and people.

Motivational Mondays!

Can you believe in yourself while acknowledging your limitations? I think a lot of people assert that you cannot when the reality is, so long as we are fair and compassionate to ourselves, we truly can. We often forget to be kind to ourselves because we notice our flaws more than we ever realize. We must accept critique with grace, but remember to never let those critiques define us or undermine our self-confidence. No one is perfect, and we must not only recognize that, but accept it as part of our reality as we grow as people. It is hard, but the effort is worth it.

#Mondayinspiration#MotivationalMonday #advice #writelife

Excerpt from White Hot Room Draft

 “‘This wasn’t planned’. That wasn’t true. It was planned but Lita never imagined it could go this far.”

 Offered a chance to explore her deepest and darkest fantasies with her most trusted friend, the confident and handsome if somewhat unpredictable Jon, Lita finds herself submitting to things she could never imagine. However a world of self-consciousness has held her back for so long that going through with it may be harder than she ever imagined. This only gets harder when she realizes Jon’s love is as intense as his dominant side. Love and lust can be frightening things, but anyone worth their salt knows one is far easier than the other. Will she succumb to her fears of the unknown, or surrender to the wiles of love, passion, and the depths of submission?

A Lita Loves Tale. In fact this is the first of this realistic and sensual series!

The Lita Loves Tales are an erotic fiction series for a mature audience. White Hot Room features rough intimate scenes of bondage, spanking, flogging, curvaceous women, male domination and female submission. The Lita Loves Tales proudly proclaims to be a series with interracial romance and intercourse without any odd racializing found in other stories. Sensual, hot, and tinged with Miss Ruthers desire to capture the complexities of sex and intimacy White Hot Room promises to bring something new to e-readers everywhere.

White Hot Room

One thing was certain about Lita and that was nothing was 100% certain with her. Her father used to tell people that the “2.99% of uncertainty will get you if you aren’t careful”. Though she liked her comfortable life and usual routine, something in her always managed to surprise people…even herself. Still every single inch of her was no better than a pile of nerves in that hallway despite the fact that deep down she yearned for Jon to take her to another level; another level that lined up with odd thoughts that always lurked in her dirty mind and made her feel not just good, but like living fire and also the calmest ocean.  Tonight came as one of those little astonishing circumstances, one of those little moments that fell under the 2.99%. Lita hoped things would go smoothly, but they hadn’t even started and fear glued her in place. So much remained unknown and could only be known by exploration. That gave way to anticipation which meant nerves and hesitation. With every ounce of trepidation that resounded inside her as she looked at Jon there was this grand sort of rush building in her stomach. Nerves. Part of her liked the nerves even as another part of her felt like fleeing. This moment would never come around again. These nerves. These sensations. These thoughts. All of it made for a powerful part of the game they were going to play, and she had to play it. She said she would and she knew if she didn’t she’d regret it for the rest of her life.

Something told her she had to savor everything rolling around inside her, and that meant, in their mutual silence, reminding herself that sex didn’t get them there.

This game always seemed to be about sex, but it was so much more intimate if it was done right. He told her that “I don’t just play with anyone…I can, but it’s not the same, but I’d like to try with you,” but he didn’t seem to believe she’d say yes that night. There in the hall the joyous look in his eyes remained tempered by the sort of nervousness she’d only seen him have when their friends kept hinting at getting him an ‘epic’ birthday present despite their funds. He didn’t want to get his hopes up and yet…hope was there lurking around in his eyes. Still he remained composed, watching her, meeting her gaze with his own.

“I worried you would choose…not this.” He motioned to himself and then from his back pocket pulled something out. A split second later Jon held up a dangling patent red collar. The glimmer of light reflecting off the shinnying faux leather made her heart skip. “Or this.”

Just Write

If you do not write now when will you?

Relax, meditate, and take a breath
Write words that come to your mind.
Write lines that pop into your head.
Don’t worry about spelling or perfection.
Just start writing and don’t stop for five minutes.
Even if you just have random words on the page don’t stop.

Quick Tips for Paperback Page Numbering — Pearls Before Swine

Originally posted on Lit World Interviews: When numbering the pages of your paperback manuscript, the thing quite a lot of Indies have trouble with is that they use Page Breaks rather than Section Breaks. A Page Break is just that—starting a new page within the same section of a book. With a Section Break you…

via Quick Tips for Paperback Page Numbering — Pearls Before Swine