That’s what they say right? But who is they? I need to know. I always judge a book by it’s cover. In fact I have purchased books in the past simply because I liked the cover. Crazy I know. Here’s the thing, I’m certain if you ask any avid reader they are going to tell you the same story. Covers SELL! Just in the same way a movie poster sticks in your head, or a advertisement feels familiar, book covers tell a lot about what you are going to get. I ready steamy romance, if there is a shirtless man on a cover I’m going to take a closer look. I am also a dark romance junky so add some tattoos and broody facial features and I’m all over it. Does that mean it’s going to be a good book? Nope. But it did gain my attention.
Book Cover Marketing
Once us readers and authors both agree that we are particular in our likes based off genre we will all get along better. It’s interesting to watch things unfold. Over the last year or so, illustrated covers have gained a lot of popularity. Due to what I like to read they have never appealed to me. When I see them I think Sweet Romance, Rom Com etc. That’s not me. You should have seen the shock on my face when I learned some steamy authors are also using them. Mistake? You would have to ask them. It’s possible they jumped in on a trend and it worked. But as a reader that is not a fan of closed door scenes or corny jokes I’m probably not going to dig too deep into a book with a illustrated cover. I will take hot half naked men all day.
You’re probably wondering why I dedicated an entire post just to book covers. Well that’s because I have new ones on the horizon for the Heroes of Calvano Security. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I have commissioned a professional cover artist who is putting the final touches on new covers for all 6 books and a reader magnet that will be releasing soon!
I have loved my covers for the last year but it is time to spice things up and make sure they are in line with my genre. What I have now is a little too sweet for what’s inside. (Feel free to use your imagination here, lol) Needless to say, I have some hot men coming your way and it blow your mind when you see what she has done. In addition to that, new covers means paperbacks! Yes my friends we are going all out in January so stay tuned for more.
If you are like me then too many changes can feel overwhelming but no changes makes life boring. After realizing I needed some change I made the decision to attend an event that could provide that change I needed. Back in November I went with the Crazy Writer Chicks to Las Vegas for the 20Books to 50K writers conference. To say it was a life changing experience would be a understatement. As a reader I was amazed with the amount of talent in one room. As a writer I learned so many things that can help me move my business forward. One of the biggest takeaways was how important it is to stay in touch with all of you. So that brings me to what’s coming!
Facebook Readers Group
The first thing to share is I have created a Facebook group called Nikki’s Naughty Romance Reads. It’s a place where we can share what we are reading, what we are loving and what’s going on in our lives. I’m also updating everyone on what I’m writing and release dates. If you want to keep up to speed with what’s coming then it’s definitely a group you want to join. Click HERE and answer the questions to join.
The other important thing I learned is that you guys need FREE Content! So I’ve written a novella titled Unsettled Mind that will be out in the new few weeks. The easiest way to get it is by making sure you are signed up for my Mailing List. Click HERE to sign up!
This is the story of Marco and Silvi. They served together in the military but have been separated for a few years. When he returns from his deployment, he is shocked to find the man he had been hunting followed him home and now he’s after Silvi.
Silvi started a new life when she left the military, and her world is rocked when she sees Marco. She resists the urge to give in but it’s clear she needs his help to get rid of the threat. Will they make it out alive and in love? You’ll have to read to find out. 😉
Well friends, that’s it for now! More updates coming soon.
I think it’s time to classify my “break” as what it really was, BURN OUT. It’s okay I’m not afraid of the concept anymore. Although it may not seem like it’s been that long, I haven’t written anything new since my last release at the beginning of June. That is a total of 55 days of nothingness. It’s weird how not doing something you love effects you. At first I played it all off as a well deserved break, but after a while I was starting to wonder if something was really wrong. There were days I would sit and think, “Why should I bother? It was so hard. I don’t need to write anymore.” and then guilt would set in. I felt bad for denying myself something I loved and I felt guilt for allowing something I loved to interfere with other responsibilities. It’s kind of a crazy place to be.
But enough is enough! After a month of really relaxing I found I was expressing my creativity in other ways. I started DIY projects around my house I kept putting off, I painted a door in my house with rainbow colors, I cook all the things and I read so many books. It was nice but I still felt as if something was missing.
Social media was another part that was painful. So many of my friends and contacts continued to write and release books and I was sad and almost jealous. It was like I didn’t fit into that world anymore because I wasn’t pushing out something new. I like to be good at what I do and social media drops you like a fly if you aren’t out there regularly. I couldn’t maintain it so I stepped back. It was in that moment that I realized all the things surrounding my writing was what was keeping me from actually writing. Once the outside influences and voices in my head quieted I heard from my characters. The same characters that only a month before had been begging for their story to be told.
Last night I wrote 5,376 words. Are they good? Only time will tell. Do I like them? Yep! It was so exciting watching the story unfold in front of my eyes. I watched as a simple second chance love story turned into a spicy reverse harem in only a matter of a few chapters. Reading back through it all this morning reminded me of why I write. I love being creative. I’m not a painter, a singer or a artist but I am a writer and I think it’s time that own up to that title.
Are you a stand alone or a series person? It’s hard for me to remember the last stand alone book I read. It seems like everything lately is either part of a series or part of an anthology. I was talking to my niece last night about my obsessive reading habits and I think I had an realization. My need to grab a book the second I finish one is because of the dreaded book hangover! You know what I’m talking about right? It’s the awful sadness that comes over you when you realize the best friends you have in your imaginary world won’t be talking to you tomorrow. When you know everything there is to know about them and the story is done. For some, like me… it’s one of the worst feelings in the world.
The stand alone readers.
I know you are out there but I will never claim to understand you. My husband is a stand alone reader, however some authors he reads such as Tom Clancy will have reoccurring characters in other books. I almost feel like that’s stand alone cheating. To me a stand alone is one book, one story and one set of characters. When you close the book you don’t see them again. But many authors have learned that their favorite characters can encourage readers to give a new storyline a try. We see more and more books built within the same world and that’s appealing to any reader. There is a familiarity that you get with those books similar to what you see in a series.
The series reader.
Clearly this is my camp. My familiarity. My love. I have to admit I think my adoration of a good series dates back to the days of The Boxcar Kids and The Babysitters Club books. I got into books that fell within a series very early in life and it’s just kind of stuck. As a romance reader I love moving on to the next book and learning more about the characters I loved from the book before. Right now I’m reading a coming of age series by Sarah Bailey that is the storyline of the children from another of her book series. I absolutely love seeing the characters later in life while still enjoying the new stories as well. I haven’t read anything like this before and the experience has been rewarding.
As I get older my reading habits are changing. I’m willing to try things I haven’t read before. I’m willing to stop reading a book I don’t like and I don’t feel any guilt over reading what I love. It wasn’t always this way and I hope for those of you who are still trying to find that book that takes your breath away that you don’t give up. Keep looking because you will find it soon. I promise you.
So are you a stand alone or a series reader? Comment below and let me know.
Every month for six months I have released a book. My debut novel released on January 1st and it’s been nonstop ever since. Did I love it? Yes. Was it insane? Yes. With three days left until my sixth book releases I’m wondering what I’m going to do with myself now that I have all this extra time on my hands. Unrestrained has been uploaded and ready for a couple days now and other then working on some promo things, and advertising this week has been rather uneventful in terms of writing. Now I can’t figure out what to do next.
The first book in my next series is done but I’m not ready to jump into books two and three yet so I’ve been waiting… and organizing. Little things like reading through all my emails, catching up on blog posts and working my way through my TBR have been kind of awesome. I know more is coming but I need to figure out a better balance. This week I edited one of the videos from our Facebook group Crazy Writer Chicks, and it was the one on how we maintain balance. Listening back to what I had to say made me realize I haven’t had any balance over the last few months and it’s taken a toll. (if you want to listen in you can find us on YouTube)
Creativity and Burn Out
Creative people often struggle with burning out. It’s a scary thing to think about but it effects so many people. Luckily writing is a side gig for me which allows me some additional freedoms verses it being my only source of income. My plan for now is to get my life back in order. Write what comes to me, read often and finish up some home repairs that I’m tired of looking at. In time I will set my next release date but it will likely be a couple months away. I don’t want to rush anymore, I want to take the time to enjoy what I’m doing and I encourage each of you to do the same.
Today I’m talking about writing but if you are reading this and what I am sharing resonates with you then you can make some changes yourself. Anyone can get burned out doing anything, variety is key for so many of us. The pressures of outside responsibilities and internal pressures to always be better can be difficult. Allow yourself grace. Allow yourself time. I’m going to try to do the same.
Okay so here’s my confession of the week: I am slightly addicted to TikTok. There I said it and as an adult I’m choosing to do nothing about it. Now I know the downsides of course but there are some good things too. Like the video I watched the other day where the guy said, “There are two kinds of exhaustion. The kind where someone needs sleep and the kind were someone needs peace.” (I’m close but I’m also certain that wasn’t word for word) It got me thinking… I am tired all the time… but is it sleep I actually need?
Let’s be real here, my level of tired isn’t going to be solved by a nap. My level of tired is the lock myself in a room for about seven days to recharge kind of tired. That’s not normal is it? Which makes me wonder is it really just peace I need? I have written before about how I love to escape into my books. It’s when the house is quiet and no one needs anything from me that I take time for myself. It’s at 5:00 AM or midnight that I can finally relax enough to disappear into a book. I cherish those moments more then you can imagine.
What does Peace look like?
Peace my look differently for me then it does for you. I think that’s okay, we are all different humans with different needs. Take a minute to think about the last time you were at peace. Was the TV on in the background? Did you have notifications popping up on your phone? Was a kid pulling on your pantleg and asking for a snack? Many of us probably imagine a peaceful moment on the beach or fantasize over a night of self care soaking in a tub with our favorite book but making that happen can be hard sometimes.
We have complicated busy lives and beach getaways aren’t always possible. Ove the last year I have removed myself from a lot of distractions and now that life is going back to normal I may keep it that way. The next steps are building in some moments of peace. Dedicating sometime to my own mental health and being selfish about it! I encourage each of you to do the same.
Do you consider yourself a peaceful person? Is it something you aspire to be? Comment below and share!
We have all heard it before, it takes a village to raise a child. What about everything else in life? I have learned over the last year that a village is needed to accomplish almost everything. When I began the process of publishing my books I quickly realized I couldn’t do it alone. There would be people I’d need to hire, contacts I needed to make, and friends and family members to support my insane ideas. Without the people around me I never would have made it this far. The problem can be finding the right people.
The amount of people we have in our lives varies greatly. I remember being in my twenties and having more friends then I could imagine. Someone was always calling to catch up, or asking to get together. Now I have reached a point in my life were I could count on one hand the amount of true friends I have. The idea of quality rather then quantity has become a mantra for me. When picking the people for my inner circle it’s important that I pick people who aren’t just carbon copies of me. The same goes when pulling together a team to help me publish.
Having beta readers, and ARC readers from different walks of life provides me insight about things I may have never considered. Add to it the amazing community I have on social media and I’m learning new things every day.
Support in all walks of life…
So I mentioned friendship and of course my publishing experiences but what about all the other stuff? A desire to try something new… a job change… or struggles fitting in? If the pandemic has taught me anything its taught me that we need people in our lives. Coming from a introvert, that is saying a lot. Now, I’m not saying alone time isn’t valuable because it is, but what I am saying is the world is a much easier place if you have a village behind you.
I have worked in jobs throughout my life were my sole purpose was to get a paycheck and it wasn’t rewarding at all. Now I’m doing something I love but I have other struggles I am facing. It’s my best friend at work who helps me through that. When the kids are driving me batty it’s my husband who is my sounding board and when I can’t seem to make it through the day without crying I text a good friend and we fantasize about running away to a island somewhere.
As adults we need to identify the people in our lives who support us, as well as those who can provide value due to our differences. As the book community has been facing scrutiny over authors complaining about bad reviews, readers being triggered by books, and miscommunication or insensitive writing styles it’s helpful o remember that we are all humans. We all mess up, and at times we need help from our village to get back on track.
The other day I was outside with my family and my phone kept buzzing. As usual every time it did I pulled it from my pocket to see if I was missing something. You see I had a terrible week at work and even Thursday night at 5:37PM I was still worried that something else would go wrong. It wasn’t until I missed a ball my kid threw at me that I realized what was happening. What really solidified it was when he said, “Mom, this isn’t time for phones.” Immediately the guilt set in. You see my kid probably hears, “This isn’t time for screens.” about a million times for me in a week. Now I was getting a taste of my own medicine.
Of course he was right, it wasn’t the time for phones. However I have become to conditioned to jumping at every little request from work, social media, and family that pops up. The idea of missing a notification is awful. Now I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I know all about the long term effects of technology on mental health. You can find that in about a million different places on the internet. But what I am going to say is that was a big wake up call for me.
Good old Merriam Webster defines Undivided Attention as “concentration on what someone is going or saying.” When was the last time you provided someone your undivided attention? I mean really truly paid attention without your mind traveling to what you need to do next or a phone interrupting the time spent together. Today’s technology provides us unlimited benefits that those before us couldn’t even imagine but at what cost?
When my iPhone started telling me how many hours a day I was on it I actually got annoyed. For the first week I would argue with myself that it must be wrong. Maybe it was that hour I was reading, or the two hours I had music playing that caused me to accumulate so many hours. But the truth of it was when I looked at the breakdown I simply spend to much time with my face in my phone.
Time for a Change
I need to make some changes. Working from home means that my home life has leaked into my work life and my work life has leaked into my home life. I never turn off my work computer. If something pops up at 8:00 at night I’m reading it and responding. By doing this I’m now conditioning others that it’s okay to reach out to me any time day or night. They know I will respond.
There are three things I’m going to do this week to see if it helps:
I will turn off my work computer when I am done working for the day. No exceptions.
Work email and chats on my phone will be ignored… better yet I’m going to turn of the notification so I’m not even tempted to respond.
Family time is for my family. My phone can sit in my bedroom with the ringer off during dinner and play time. If nothing else those I love deserve that much.
Do you have parameters around phone time in your house? Are you like me and a do as I say not as I do parent or spouse? Let me know what you are doing and if it’s working for you!
Many authors you know likely write under a pen name. Pen Names are used for various reasons. Everything from a author wanting to separate their personal life from their business, to authors who write in different genres. In my day job I work in the financial industry and my name is tied to that. I didn’t necessarily want anyone googling me from work and finding a steamy romance site or someone from my writer life googling and finding a bunch of boring finance stuff. That was the reason I decided on a Pen Name before I even published my first book.
Marketing and Pen Names
A lot of authors who write in multiple genres use more than one pan name. You wouldn’t want someone who is searching for a children’s book you wrote to stumble upon your phycological thrillers either. I recently listened to a author on TikTok explain the reason she used three different Pen Names was so her readers always knew what they were getting. If they searched each Pen Name they would find the books written under that genre they were looking for. The larger the backlog you have as an author, the more difficult it could be for someone to find what they needed. Additional Pen Names an help you market each book in their own way. Some audiences may be better found on Facebook where others would do best being reached via a Amazon ad.
So many people have perfected the way they handle their Pen Names it’s a natural and often unknown process for the readers. I have one author I had been following for a while who writes science fiction and paranormal romance. I enjoyed a few of her books she wrote but one day when she was talking about her Pen Name for romance I was beyond excited. As soon as I searched that new name I found a bunch of books that were right up my ally. At the time I knew what she was talking about but years ago when I read a lot of Ann Rice’s work I had a hard time understanding the point of her Pen Name.
I guess at the end of the day it’s up to the author how they decide to market. But for me, as a reader, I found it very helpful to find what I was looking for. As a author I enjoy the fact that I can be completely honest and uncensored with my readers rather then trying to be a person with a day job who just dabbles in writing steamy romance.
Do you have an author with a Pen name you love? If you do share below and we can check them out!
For many people the hardest part of starting a small business is self motivation. When we hold jobs for other companies we have goals that are set by the organization and managers or leaders who make sure we are reaching them. As soon as we go off on our own it’s a harsh realization that we have to be that person. We are the creator, the manager, the operations guru, tech support… all of it. With outside influences such as goals set by a company it’s easy to stay on track because we don’t want to disappoint those around us. If we continuously under perform we run the risk of getting written up or worse, fired. So the question remains how do we keep that same form of accountability when we work for ourselves?
Using an accountability partner can be extremely beneficial. The idea works on the same concept of regularly goal setting and performance. The difference is you are responsible for setting your own goal and sharing it with a partner. This goal can be anything you want. For us writers it may be a word count goal or a goal around editing, for readers it may be something as simple as “This week I’m going to read something from my TBR rather then buy a new book.” These small goals help you work towards one overall goal, such as finishing a manuscript. But the most important part is the regular check ins with that accountability partner.
Weekly Check Ins
For a while a group of writer friends and I got together for a weekly call to check in on our book progress. It was helpful but when we started our weekly live events for Crazy Writer Chicks it became too much in one week. This last Monday we launched a weekly accountability post. Every Monday members of the Crazy Writer Chicks can check in on each other by posting what their weekly goal is and how they handled the last week’s goal. I posted on Monday that I was going to revise at least five chapters of my next book Unexpected. By Friday I did it and I couldn’t wait to post that I was done and adding a new goal for myself.
For me it was very motivating. I put that goal out into the world and I needed to accomplish it. So tell me, have you ever worked with an accountability partner? If not and it’s something you want to try then join our Facebook group, The Crazy Writer Chicks and you can do it with us! Hopefully we will all see the successes we are hoping for with this new process.