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The Chase

Everything Moves So Fast…

Why does life feel like it’s always moving at the speed of light? You hear it all the time, people say things like “Live in the moment” and “Appreciate the time you have” even the standard proclamation that “Time goes by so fast.” We all say it but we don’t really do anything about it. As I am writing this we are mid-pandemic. Most of the country has been under some type of restriction for over a year, and with the recent progress of vaccines everything is slowly starting to open up again. Now we are faced with a whole new issue, do we really want to go back to the way we were?

I don’t know about you but I can feel it already. Work has picked up and my days are beyond full again. Those moments of sitting and pondering what to do while everything is moving in slow motion are long gone. My family is being pulled in a million directions and work life isn’t much better. It seems we have forgotten the value of stopping to smell the roses and it’s only been a few months.

Is it possible to stop?

So many days I wonder if there is even a chance it will stop. The demands at my day job require me to put in more then required just to keep up with the chances and do what is expected of me. These inflated expectations are impossible to live up to and at the same time I instill them on myself. I planned to release a book a month for six months and my some miracle it’s actually happening. Although this has been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done for myself, I know for a fact there is no way I can keep up this timeframe long term.

Life is hard work and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Even if I led a life that wasn’t full of chaos I would need to make the difficult decisions of what to do and what to say no to. For me saying no is the most impossible part of it all. Prioritization of time needs to be a new thing for many of us. If I learned anything from being forced to slow down, I learned that my time is more valuable then I ever realized.

Is anyone else struggling with the pressures to return to “normal” ? Is “normal” even what we need anymore? I know one thing, I was a lot happier when life was overall slower then it is today. The pressures of everyone around me are already weighing my consciousness. I was living a ignorant life before everything happened and I certainly don’t want to return to that. From this point forward I pledge to hold on to things that are important to me. Things like afternoons playing outside, Saturday mornings spent reading, and baking bread or sweet treats just because I want to. I’m no longer going to keep my “Good dishes” for just company, I’m going to use my fancy perfume just because I like the way it smells and I’m going to remind myself everyday I’m worth it.

It’s not time for New Years resolutions … and I’m terrible with them anyway. But it is Spring, and if feels like a good time for a new beginning. So, how about you? Anything you want to stop? start? continue?

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Why Self Publishing?

Traditional vs. Self Publishing

When someone writes a book and decides to publish it there is a pretty big decision that needs to be made. Are you going to make a go of it yourself? or are you going to seek out a publisher? When I first learned about self-publishing my immediate thoughts were something like, “There is no way I could figure that out!” But after some time and research I noticed quite a few benefits to doing it myself.

  1. Less Upfront Rejection – We’ve all heard the stories of authors that send out tens of hundreds of queries just to be turned down time and time again. As someone who was already questioning if I could do this, the idea of multiple rejection letters sounded awful. Now this is not to say that people haven’t success, they do. But it take a lot of work to get an agent or publisher bought in on your vision.
  2. Creative Control – “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” … Riiiigghhht. I do it all the time, how about you? Book covers are so important. Traditional publishers offer different levels of support. Some offer editing, some offer marketing, cover design etc. For me the only thing I was willing to give up was advertising or marketing support. My book covers and content needed to be my own. With self-publishing it’s all your own so this was a huge benefit for me.
  3. Timing of Releases – If you’re a romance reader like I am then you may be a one or two book a week person. So many of us consume massive amounts of books on a regular basis. I had 6 books pretty much ready to go. By self-publishing I get to set my own releases dates. Which I did, and I chose to rapid release my series which was timing of 1 book a month until they are all out. I’m sure many traditional publishers do the same but when you are dealing with outside forces (editors, proofreaders, cover designers etc.) it can be hard to keep up with.
  4. Satisfaction of a Goal Achieved – Nothing feels better then clicking that publish button on Amazon. When you put your time and energy into a project for months seeing it completed is an amazing feeling. My fourth book, Unreasonable, is releasing on April 1st and I still regularly pull up my author page on Goodreads and Amazon just to smile when I see what I have done. For the first time in a while, I’m pretty darned pleased with myself.

How many writers are out there? Did you decide on self-publishing or are you a traditionally published author? Share your experiences below!

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Inspiration

Noisy Characters

If you ask a lot of authors why they wrote a series rather than a stand alone, you will likely hear some consistent answers. Many of which have to do with side characters who insist on having their story told. These secondary characters in the book are often just as appealing to your readers to. Sometimes if you are lucky they will beg to learn more about them. However as a author they can be some of the most annoying thoughts you have.

For me these people usually speak up while I’m in the middle of writing a novel, editing another, keeping up with a blog and oh ya, life. Not only do they speak up but they keep talking until I do something about it. One of my favorite authors and friend, Sarah Bailey used to explain her character line up as a waiting room. They are all their waiting for their stories to be written, however there is a order they need to follow, yet they never do.

I feel as if this happens with most creatives because as far as I can tell whenever I have my hands in one thing, there is something else knocking on the door. (Stay tuned for my next crazy adventure that’s launching soon.) Once those creative juices get flowing it’s hard for many of us to turn them off finish the task at hand. For me it may be creativity, it may be ADD, the jury is still out on that one. Setting small goals can help. Let me explain…

When to give in…

I recently have had some characters from a future series that would not shut it! I mean constantly chattering away. I was even having dreams of scenes for their books, it was driving me nuts. It became so overwhelming I didn’t want to push forward on the book I was editing. It was like all of a sudden that story wasn’t good enough. However I had a deadline and needed to finish. I did what I swore I would never do and I gave into the voices in my head.

If you have been around for a while then you know I am not a plotter by any means. I think if I was then it may have been easier to give in, do some outlining and feel satisfied. Even in my state of desperation the idea of plotting gave me hives. Instead I opened a new document in Scrivener and just started typing up a few random scenes. I told myself I would stop within a hour and I did. I typed them, read them through once, closed them, and haven’t looked back. The characters I’m talking about aren’t even for my next series. They belong in the one after that! But if I didn’t get out at least a bit of it out, I wouldn’t have been able to move on.

How do you all handle inspiration that can be a distraction? Anyone else struggle when you have something on your mind and you can’t move past it?

Comment below!

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

ARC Readers

Another New Adventure

If you have been following along for a while then you know everything I do when it comes to writing is new to me. Which means every new thing is also an adventure. I have been a reader for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I became a writer that I learned what ARC readers were. ARC readers have been around for some time in the traditional publishing world and more and more independent authors are using them as well.

An ARC reader is someone who signs up to receive an advance copy of a book that is about to release for free, in exchange for leaving a review. Reviews are extremely important to authors and publishers so this is one way to get a jump start on reviews for new releases. I had known for sometime that I wanted to delve into this idea of advanced reviews but figuring it all out felt overwhelming, as have most things I’ve learned. I took to the internet and researched all the things. I checked out websites of other authors I know and even publishers websites to get an idea of how this whole thing works.

I set up a sign up page on my website and took to social media. Before I knew it I had people sign up! Luckily, my book was ready so I sent out a welcome email and then used BookFunnel to distribute my copies. As a writer it is terrifying to release a book. I’ve learned it is even more terrifying to do a small release to a group of ARC readers. The response was wonderful and the reviews and feedback were detailed and honest. As an author I couldn’t ask for more.

Do you have a favorite author that has a ARC Team? Check out their website and see if you can sign up. I don’t know about you but I always leave reviews for authors so it’s not difficult to follow through with my end of the bargain. Get a free book for a honest review? No problem!

Tell us about your experiences, have you been a ARC Reader before? Would you do it again?

A Balancing Act

Is Balance Possible?

I spent over fifteen years of my childhood dancing and even with years of training I still was terrible at balancing. To be fair in that situation I was being taught how not to fall flat on my face, however when I think of my struggles balancing responsibilities as an adult it doesn’t feel much different. At times I have to wonder is it even possible? How does everyone around me look like they have a handle on everything and I always feel like I’m drowning?

A smart person would say, it’s not possible. That everyone is struggling equally however I’d argue that. Some people, like me just take on more then they can handle. As a 38… no wait 39 year old… maybe it is 38… I still haven’t mastered the word no. If someone asks me to do something I do it. Rarely do I say, sorry I can’t. In fact what makes it even worse is I often offer to do more then is asked of me, due to my insane need to please everyone around me. (More on that at a later date)

Right now the top thing on my “To Do” list is to make a “To Do” list. I like most people have a family to take care of, a day job to do well at and a side gig that I love. So prioritizing what I need to accomplish each day is key. Below is a list of things I have found helpful, but I’d love to hear what works for you. Let’s band together and figure out a way to make this thing called life work.

  1. Make a List – Okay I joke when I say it’s on my to do list but it is. If I don’t take time to write down the 972 things in my head I will feel too overwhelmed to get anything done.
  2. Share the List – Yep, you heard me! Share it with someone who can help. Maybe you can delegate some tasks, maybe it’s just sharing it with your spouse so he doesn’t ask you to make him a turkey sandwich when you are doing those 972 things.
  3. Block Scheduling- I’m really good at this with my day job but I’m terrible applying it to my home life. It’s something I will definitely be working on in the future. Here is some additional information on Block Scheduling from Jordan Page that could help you too: The Block Schedule System. I adore her and most of her videos are extremely helpful and entertaining.
  4. Get to Work- The amount of things that need to be done can be so overwhelming that you don’t know where to begin. I start with smaller tasks first to build some momentum. It works well for me because I love crossing things off my list! Give it a try.

At the end of the day I would be kidding myself to think those around me aren’t struggling with the balancing act as much as I am. Many days it just takes a minute to remind myself that I’m not alone and it’s okay to be overwhelmed once in a while.

What do you do to keep your life in order? Any tips or tricks you can share? Comment below and let us know!

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Is This Real Life?

3 More Days…

Is this real? In three days the third book in my contemporary romance series releases. I know I should be excited, but all I keep doing is questioning if this is really happening. When I started down the path of self-publishing I never would have thought that I’d really see it through. I’m always full of self-doubt as I know many others are. It makes trying new things very difficult sometimes. This was one time I pushed through and I’m actually pretty proud of myself.

I always stop to wonder why I feel like I can’t get it done or that I’m not good enough. It starts with a simple thought, “What if they don’t like it” and often ends with me questioning life choices from when I was five years old. The nagging feeling of self doubt is often referred to as imposter syndrome and is more common then you would think. It’s hard to admit you are concerned you doubt your work, especially if you are also the one responsible for selling it. So many people find it hard to believe in their accomplishments. I spent a great deal of my career in finance believing things were just working out due to luck. It took a really long time for me to realize I was doing well because of my own actions.

Anytime I try something new those feelings start creeping up again. Writing my stories was the easy part, learning to format, create book covers, hire editors and the numerous other tasks I have had to learn were all steps to my success. Determining what success means to you is the first step. Right now I define success as following through with publishing all the books in my series. Down the road I will tie monetary goals, reviews of my books and other metrics to that definition but for now I’m keeping it simple.

Setting simple smaller goals helps me build the confidence I need to persevere. I think the most important thing to remember is just because you might doubt yourself, it doesn’t mean you are a imposter. The imposter phenomenon has been around since the seventies and has been well known for effecting women. Stemming from biases and exclusion women have felt out of place for a very long time in many industries. My own feelings of inferiority have been a part of my life for longer then I would like to admit but I work actively to change my mindset for the positive.

Have you ever been effected by the dreaded imposter syndrome? How do you handle things what you aren’t certain about your work? Comment below and share!

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

The Influencer

Influencers – A Definition

According to Merriam- Webster a Influencer is, one who exerts influence : a person who inspires or guides the actions of others. Otherwise known as, a person who is able to generate interest in something (such as a consumer product) by posting about it on social media. So the questions I have to ask are where did all these people come from? Were they always there? Or were they created with the rise in social media?

If you are old enough to know the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” then you will realize there have always been influencers out there. I clearly remember when my family got our first microwave (yes, I am that old). My grandfather bought the first one, likely because he knew someone else who had one. Before you knew it each of our houses had microwaves. Now the items we are influenced to buy are everything from books to international vacations. I have worked in the financial industry most of my life and I have learned one thing that stands out more then anything else. People spend more money on wants then they do on needs. We live in a world full of commercial advertising and many of the people we follow on social media websites are people who are paid to tell us how much they love a specific product. Maybe it started when we began taking pictures of our meals, maybe it was the invention of the selfie stick… either way this is our reality.

Honestly, I don’t have a issue with any of it. What I do struggle with is my inability to realize what they are advertising isn’t something I need, but simply something I want. As a new writer I am constantly trying to find the best products for my career. This means trusting the opinions of others and trying to wade through what is simply an ad. There are a lot of “Insta made me do it” or “TikTok made me buy it” posts out there. My thoughts, if you want it and you can afford it go for it! But, it’s important to remember your own budget while making these impulsive purchases (hello fancy typewriter style keyboard).

Two sides to every story…

Although as a consumer I typically kick myself for buying something I don’t need, as a business woman I can recognize the value of these people. Many authors will utilize Bookstagram influencers as part of their marketing campaign. In many ways that’s not much different from buying an advertisement through Amazon or Facebook. To deny the effectiveness of these posts, stories, and personal recommendations would be ridiculous. With the right research, partnership between influencers and creatives can be successful. Make sure you take the time to do your research. Followers do not equal sales. Information on engagement, impressions and clicks per post for social media outlets and websites are all important pieces when determining who is the best person for you to work with.

Will I use a influencer?

Maybe. I would never say never. I write contemporary romance which is a extremely competitive genre. Right now is my focus is getting my books out there for all of you. We will see what the future holds. I will say that I don’t discount anything when it comes to advertising and social media. With how quickly the market changes I need to be open to anything.

Creatives, what are you doing that seems to work? Is it something of the norm? or something completely different? Let’s share in the comments below!

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Practicing Creativity

Just over two years ago the company I work for brought in a outside vendor to run a workshop on creativity. I found it interesting because I don’t exactly work in a creative industry. At least not for my day job. The idea around it was if people practice creativity on a daily basis they will begin to look at everyday things differently. We worked in groups throughout the week, learning about ourselves as well as our coworkers and at the end of it all I have to say I really did start looking at things differently.

There are numerous studies around creativity and the human mind, and I am by no means a expert but I will share with you my experiences. We were all asked to pick one creative thing to do on a daily basis. They provided us a list of ideas and we could chose from them. These three stood out to me the most:

  1. Morning Pages, by Julia Cameron – The concept of morning pages has been around for a while now. I first learned about them at a writing conference a couple of years ago and for a while I was pretty consistent. The idea is to write something, anything really every morning. I used to do three handwritten pages a day and I found it really got things flowing for me.
  2. An Apple a Day- This isn’t the apple you eat. This is the apple you draw… every day. The idea around this one is that you draw a apply everyday for thirty days, then at the end you have a record of how it has evolved overtime.
  3. A Picture a Day – Similar to the apple concept but different. This was inspired by a artist who choses a color for a period of time and takes a picture every day of that color. So for instance if you chose green then you need to find one green item everyday for a month to photograph.

In the end I decided on the apple. It was a very neat experience. Not only did I see how my apple changed but my outlook each day was a little different. Some days I didn’t want to mess with the apple, others it was something I worked hard on trying to perfect it. (Spoiler alert, even after a month I couldn’t draw a decent apple) Many of us don’t have jobs that provide us the luxury of drawing each day, or writing for that matter. So it’s up to us to practice creativity. You never know how a little effort every day will change your outlook on life. With a little imagination, anything is possible.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Happy For Now

HEA vs. HFN… Huh?

When I decided to publish my books I jumped in face first to the online writing community. I say face first because I felt like I had been smacked with a million terms I didn’t know. Talk about a learning curve! The first couple that threw me off were HEA (Happily Ever After) and HFN (Happy for Now). As a reader I had no idea there was even a difference. I primarily read romance so it’s pretty much a shoo in that the couple will be together in the end. For me that meant they were happy.

As I dug in more and more I realized in the romance genre people had a desire to make their stories more and more realistic then those of the past. I read to Escape Reality so if some billionaire is going to sweep my heroine off her feet and take her to some secluded island where they have twenty babies and live happily ever after, I’m okay with that. Some readers are looking for something different. They want older heroes and heroines, an every day joe, divorcees etc. The good news is the romance genre is huge and if you want it you can find it. People write about characters that speak to them. Many authors write heroes and heroines that have their own characteristics or those of people they know. All of these elements go into building the perfect character for their reader. So, does it always have to have a happily ever after? In the real world not everyone wants marriage, or babies, or the private billionaire island maybe a happy for now really does work.

As romance is leaking into other genres, the idea of happy for now has taken hold. In many stories it makes sense that the couple is together in the end but it’s possible you don’t see the whole marriage and babies thing. Many writers now offer supplemental short stories, extended epilogs or even additional books to show the couples you loved in the future.

The question remains, does HFN work in romance? Personally, I think it all depends on the story line. If you are writing in romance then you readers are expecting their characters to be happy by the end of the book. The definition of happy may vary from story to story and it makes sense that it does. How you get them there, is what the story is all about. In other genres you have a bit more leeway. Just one word of advice… don’t kill one of them off. Oh and don’t kill a dog either, your readers will never forgive you.

As a reader which do you prefer? Do you need wedding bells and babies or are you okay with seeing them together and trusting it will stay that way? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Bouncing Back

Is bouncing back even possible?

Have you ever been in the middle of a crisis and wondering how the heck you are going to fix the mess you started? That is exactly where I found myself yesterday. If you follow along with my ramblings on Instagram then you know things didn’t exactly go according to plan yesterday. I had a missed deadline due to technology issues, lightbulbs were going out at the worst possible time and a series of other issues came up making me wonder why I got out of bed.

I read a article once on leadership. It talked about leading through crisis and how those moments often set apart the good from the great. When working on my writing career I’m not really leading anyone other then myself. It was hard to realize I was sitting back and waiting for things to happen to me rather then making things happen. It was time to take charge and fix what was going wrong. As crazy as it sounds it felt like one of those defining moments.

For many of us it is easy to just give up and put off the problems for another day. As a self proclaimed procrastinator I am usually all for it. But when others are counting on you it’s important to find a way forward. There were three things that got me through my day yesterday and here they are.

Steps to Move Forward

  • Stop feeling bad for yourself! This is a big one. When panic hit, I couldn’t think straight because I was too busy beating myself up. Shake that off and move on, you can’t do anything about it now.
  • Ask for help! I took to social media to get some advice. This may work for some, others may have a friend or family member that knows more then you do. Leverage them! The additional benefit is they are rooting for you so it’s nice to know you have the support from someone you trust.
  • Do something… anything! Okay maybe you have to wait on a outside force to help you resolve your issue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something while you wait. If you are a reader, pick up a book, a writer? Write something new. Maybe it’s just cleaning out that pantry that’s been bothering you. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Just keep busy.

I made it through my drama yesterday. Was it tough? Absolutely. But I survived… and you will too.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome