Handling Distractions

So, my deadlines are looming and I’ve got everything from a dog breathing heavily to TikTok distracting me. What do I do? Well in the past I have always just done what I wanted and scrambled at the last minute to pull it all together. Did I mention I’m also a bit of a procrastinator? But as I have gotten older I’ve needed to make some changes. I’m not certain I’m an adult yet but I’m getting there and it was time to start acting like one.

I am now the parent of two kiddos who are Neurodivergent. Sounds cool right? Like a super power or something. However when you learn about the different disorders that fall under this umbrella you will realize even the slightest distraction can be detrimental to their success in completing a task. This got me thinking… what if I apply some of the recommended concepts to myself and see what happens? There are a million different things out there but here are some that I tried.

  1. Eat Something – Okay this may sound obvious, however take a minute and think about how many times you looked at the clock while working and realized you missed lunch? When I’m hungry, I’m angry so I can’t do anything as good as I can when I haven’t skipped a meal. Pack snacks!
  2. Use Timers- This one works with huge success for my kids, but surprisingly it worked well with me too. If I had planned a post on social media for the day I would take care of it and then allow myself ten minutes of scrolling time. By setting a timer I was able to stick to my plan and still keep up to date with what is going on online.
  3. Find a Quiet Space – Last week I spent a few days working from my local library. It’s amazing how much work you can do in a quiet space. The added benefit? I couldn’t talk on my phone while I was there, so any incoming calls had to wait.

I still have a long way to go but these few things helped me reduce my distractions allowing me to get even more done. My next change is unplugging! Or at least finding a way to reduce my phone and computer alerts. Things like a email coming in, can pull my attention away from my task at hand and nine times out of ten it’s just someone trying to sell me something.

So let’s talk about it! What works for you? Do you block schedule? Have a writing cave? Share what you have tried in the comments below.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Managing Emotions

The book hangover…

You know that feeling when a book is over and there isn’t another one in the series? That’s what we are talking about today. It’s tough growing so connected to the characters the authors have created just to have it all pulled out from under you with the simple words THE END. As a reader of romance I have struggled with this for years, which is typically why I am quick to pick up the next book. If I can get my mind off missing the last one with a new on then it’s a win. But what happens when you are the author? Do they feel the same way after writing a book?

As I began writing my series it was just for my own enjoyment. Now as I am revising and editing books to get them out for all of you, I have really focused on character development. This element of writing romance is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. Without characters who grow, your book falls flat. In book three, Unbreakable I am writing the story of Avery and Drew. You meet them in books one and two however their true story is now being told.

Many authors will refer to the character voices that speak to them. Yes, I know it makes us all sound a bit crazy but it’s true. My characters talk to me when it’s good and when it’s bad. Avery and Drew have a rough time settling in to their new relationship and as the story progresses it can really make managing emotions tough! Now, all of my books end in a Happily Ever After so I know they will work it out, but when you are so invested in what will happen next it’s not easy. I’ve had to come up with some ways to manage the emotional rollercoaster that is writing and reading.

Somethings to try…

  1. Take a break – At the end of a good book or after a large revision of a particularly emotional scene, I take a break and jump back into the real world. It’s hard to be sad when you have a husband looking for dinner or a child pulling on your pant leg.
  2. Read something happy – This is a big one for me. I am a lover of dark romance and sometimes those books can be pretty heavy. I may stick a light and happy novella in between dark romance books. This is always helpful in keeping my mind set right.
  3. Talk to other authors and readers – Misery loves company… and so does ecstatic joy. Sometimes the best thing to do is talk about the book you read or the scene you wrote with someone who can understand. WARNING: That person is not your husband who doesn’t read romance. (Trust me). There are reader groups, writer groups and communities of people out there who would love to talk about the latest book you’ve read. Use them if you don’t have someone in your daily life to chat with.

Managing emotions is a difficult task on a regular basis. Many of us romance readers thrive on the ups and downs our characters experience. We read for the highs and lows and we love them. It’s just important to remember that if it’s too much to take a step back once in a while. I promise you, your characters will be there when you return.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Hiring a Proofreader

Have you ever started reading a book and the story was good but the errors were distracting? I have, and one of my biggest fears about publishing was that everyone would see through my writing and realize I don’t have a degree in English grammar. Errors occur for everyone, even those who are trained in writing but so many of us are publishing stories because we love our stories, not because we are experts in our field.

There is a massive amount of information out there on who to hire for what. I realized early on there were certain things I could do myself, and other things I could learn to do myself. One thing that still crept up in the back of my mind was the need for a proofreader. I mean who really knows where that comma is supposed to go anyway? Yes, of course I could Google the easy stuff but what if I didn’t even realize I was making a mistake?

Romance is the largest and most popular genre in the book world. Many of our readers are very forgiving but if the structure of the writing becomes too distracting they will put a book down and likely not read anything from that author again. There are thousands of qualified proofreaders out there but finding one willing to do steamy romance was tricky. The prices for these services vary greatly and some will make the changes for you, where others will just tell you what to change. That means you pay them and you still have a great deal of work to do.

Amidst my difficulties in trying to find a reputable proofreader I reached out to a fellow author. Sarah Bailey spoke at a virtual writing conference last year and shortly after that I fell in love with her books. First let me say I am amazed at how helpful so many authors are in the writing community. My thought process was if I could hire the same proofreader she used I would know they are are both comfortable with steamy books (that’s pretty much all she writes), and they would be good because I’ve read her books and I haven’t found any mistakes. You could imagine my surprise when she told me her business Twisted Tree Publications offered proofreading services.

Anytime you send your manuscript off to someone you get nervous, this was no exception. The proofreader I’m working with is a college professor! However, the process of working with her was amazing. The price, turnaround time, and detailed changes were everything I was looking for. I am relieved to say all my fears were squashed with my first experience in working with someone else on my project. Unstoppable, book two in my series, is getting sent off later today and I’m excited to see the final product. It just goes to show there are plenty of people out there to help, sometimes all you need to do is ask.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

New Year, Not New Me

Well it’s another new year and although many are feeling the new year, new me thing… it’s not for me. You see last year, just like the year before that and the year before that, has been an outstanding experience of highs and lows. Although I am more then ready for a new year, I feel it’s important not to wish away a bad one or hope for something bigger and better. 2020 was a whirlwind of a year and although I can see the neon signs that say “Welcome to the 2021” I think it’s more important to reflect on the last year than it is to set resolutions that I’d never follow through with.

Here are my top 5 reasons to hold the experiences of 2020 in high regard.

  1. Our family has experienced amazing things and terrible things. Not to sound corny, but everything has happened for a reason.  Sickness has strengthened relationships, disappointments have taught us about our desires, and achieving the things we always thought we wanted were met with enjoyment and a realization that maybe those things weren’t all that important after all.
  2. Balance is key. A perfect balance is impossible, however one thing I learned in 2020 was too much work or too much play doesn’t make sense. Moving between busy and slow times seemed to make me lose my mind, but than realizing I was moving too fast and not enjoying any of it made me learn it was a time for a change.
  3. Travel is fun but being home is better. Yes, an occasional trip for two is always called for but having finally found our forever home, we quickly learned a weekend home or a party with friends is more enjoyable then leaving especially in the middle of a pandemic.
  4. Delayed gratitude is the definition of being an adult. Throughout the struggles of learning to publish a book I learned immediate gratification isn’t something that comes easily. I’ve learned to be okay with that.
  5. The highs aren’t always that high. As the world continues to turn, there are things that seem like the best moments you have ever had. But then life happens and one that is even better is on its tail.  When I was younger, I would be concerned that a great moment would be ruined by a bad one, however I’ve learned the bad ones are easier to take if you convince yourself there is always a good one around the corner.

As 2021 begins I refuse to forget the moments of 2020 that made us who we are today. I’ve never been one for resolutions because let’s be honest, if I really want to do something, I’m going to just do it. But for those of you who do I wish you the absolute best in working towards your goals. Don’t forget small wins are huge too.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Two Week Count Down

The Excitement of a Pre-Order

It doesn’t feel real yet. I know it should because my book has been available for pre-order for a couple weeks now. It’s my first book ever, and been a insanely exciting ride . If you read my first post, Deciding to Write then you know I made a decision to write some books for myself a few years back. Never in a million years did I think I would be releasing them to the public. With the help and support of friends, mentors, and contacts in the great world of the internet I have managed to put together not one book, but an entire series that I am in the process of releasing. It’s seriously insane.

The story of Jason and Christy is very close to my heart since they were some of the first characters to ever chatter away in my head. Seeing their story of a second chance love come to life on the pages is Unbelievable. See what I did there?? 😉 Anyway, all corniness aside I was shocked when I woke up the morning after my book went up on Amazon and saw 3 pre-orders. Some wonderful people managed to find my book and they chose to buy it! If I were the jump up and down type, I would have been jumping up and down. Instead I took pictures with my phone, which made no sense but I felt like I needed to document the experience.

Christy’s story is a tough one, she has been through a truly awful experience but to see her come out of her shell, learn to trust, and eventually love again is was a lot of fun. Writing for me includes some of my own person experiences. Sometimes it’s a feeling, or a difficult conversation. Writing these thing can be hard. It’s tough when your characters are learning to love again, when they are trying to overcome their own demons which may be the same the author experienced many years ago. It’s all par for the course when writing realistic stories and I hope it comes through for those of you who read it.

My hope is that all of you who chose to read the story of these two, will love them as much as I do. Make sure you head over to Amazon and pre-order your copy now!

Thank you all for your support.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Happily Ever After

Someone asked me recently if all my books ended the same way. I responded with “Of course they do!” And they looked at me strangely. I write romance and one of the requirements is that the story ends with a Happily Ever After. Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people out there who are trying to go against the norm, but for a book to be considered a romance it needs to have a Happily Ever After. Or at least a Happy for Now (More on that later).

I have loved reading romance ever since I was young, although I never realized what hooked me until I got into writing it. Life is tough sometimes and it makes you feel out of control. I know when I pick up a romance book that there is one thing that’s certain. My two favorite people are going to get together in the end. Oh sure, there will be ups and downs and many times I think they won’t make it but for me it’s the journey that keeps me reading. A good romance for me has a centralized focus on the characters and their relationship.

The confusing part is when you read a romance book expecting something spectacular in the end and one of the main characters dies. Folks, let me be clear, if one of the main characters die it is not a romance. It is a tragedy. Shakespeare did not write romance. In real life we know that Happily Ever Afters don’t always happen. Bad things occur, people die, there is no spark, he kisses like a dog, I get it. But when I’m reading a book and I want to disappear into a unknown world there better be some happy thoughts at the end.

Romantic story lines make sense in most books and that’s not what I’m talking about here. Many readers discover new genres because of romance story lines. I started reading fantasy and paranormal books as a teenager but loved the relationships that were built between the characters. You can imagine my surprise when I learned there was a massive amount of books out there that focused on the love story! I was hooked immediately. To this day I still love a good fantasy novel but my guilty pleasure is a romance book I can finish in a day.

For many writers the desire be a trend setter is great, but not when it comes to romance. There are hundreds of genres out there that your story will fit into. Find one and market to it, but leave the Happily Ever After’s in romance for now. Trust me, it’s 2020, we need it.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Lazy Days

Does anyone have flash backs of their mother calling them lazy when you are laying around your house? I distinctly remember my mom telling me not to be lazy about a million times in my life. It would be comments like, “Get up and move that body”, or questions like “What do you have planned for today? ” Now as an adult I wonder what’s so wrong with a lazy day or two?

This week has been a doozy. The 2020 Election was a mess, highest record days in multiple states for Covid, multiple countries are shutting back down. I just want to spend a day in bed eating ice cream. I mean really, who would that hurt? I write books where my heroines get these days to themselves all the time and no one is calling them to see why they aren’t up doing something. In the hustle bustle of today’s world it’s time we cut ourselves a break.

I work from home now, which means home is work and work is home. Yes, read that again if you don’t get it. There are no lines anymore, no rules. I wore the same pajama pants I slept in to a meeting last week. Life is strange! And it’s likely going to stay that way. I am beyond grateful I have the opportunity to work from the safety of my own home but I’m getting to the point where I can’t stand my home. Now the question is was I being lazy last week in my pajama pants meeting or is that just life? Maybe for me it was a little bit of both. However, today was a true lazy day and let me tell you why…

There is a hurricane headed to Florida, nothing big, in fact we haven’t even gone to bought water. (Which doesn’t say much we are Floridians) But we still know it’s coming so we didn’t make plans to do anything. It’s Sunday night and as I’m sitting here I can’t think of the last time we spent two days in a row at home doing nothing. Oh we have been home of course, there is a pandemic going on but there is always something that NEEDED to be done. Do you know what I realized this morning? When we didn’t NEED to get anything done, we actually got stuff done.

Here me out… try doing nothing… and see what happens. Without a do to list, people we needed to see, and errands we need to run I got more things done then I ever would. Add to that we actually took breaks, watched movies and generally relaxed. It was amazing. So first on my list of things to do is to call my mom tomorrow and tell her how beneficial being lazy really is. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

Do any of you enjoy the occasional lazy Sunday? How about a lazy weekend? I’m thinking I’m going to plan one of these every week.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Goal Setting For the Procrastinator

Have you ever added “Make Goals” to a do to list just to not do it? I’m here to admit I have, and goal setting is one of the most difficult things for most procrastinators out there. I am a procrastinator. There I said it. The truth is everyone has a little bit of procrastination in them every now and then. For some it may be the 19th load of laundry that week, for others it may be picking a release date for a book, but at the end of the day we all have one thing in common… something is holding us back.

For my day job I work as a Corporate Trainer for a large financial institution. I literally teach goal setting to people and when it comes to my own goals I am terrible at it. After many years of failing I think I have finally figured it out. I can’t set a personal goal and achieve it without telling someone. When I have a goal in the back of my mind I never make it to the finish line. I’ll set a goal of 500 words a day, or two eat two vegetables at every meal but if no one is watching I’ll skip it for a day, then it’s a week. Then before you know it, I’ve forgotten I set the goal in the first place.

It is November 1st which means it is National Novel Writers Month. It’s a month that writers from all over the world work to write 50,000 words throughout the month of November. That’s a lot of words. The idea is to build up a group of buddies, post your successes and celebrate together. The whole idea got me thinking. If I don’t start setting myself some pretty big goals I’m never going to get what I want. No one is going to read my book if it just sits saved on my computer so, I will start by sharing with you now that there are big things coming for Nikki Rome. (Yes, I’m talking about myself in the third person… your welcome.) I have got some pretty serious goals to not only set ,but to also achieve and I’m going to take you along for the ride.

How about you? Any goals you are working towards? Tips and tricks that help you along the way? Share below and let’s compare notes!

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

The Great Escape

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.” -George R. R. Martin

Do you every have a overwhelming need to escape? But then you realize you have to feed your kids, finish laundry and be up at 6:00AM for your day job? I’m sure you do. We all feel this way from time to time and there is nothing wrong with it. Pre-pandemic I traveled for work. No, it isn’t is glamorous as it sounds. Basically I spent a majority of my time in cars, planes and hotel rooms that all looked the same. However, there was something glorious about a plane ride in which no one could call me, ask me to do anything, or bother me and that I miss. That time was often spent reading.

I have always been a reader, you can learn more about why I read in last week’s blog post. When you ask a reader why they read the most popular answer is for an escape. A long time ago, I was part of a support group who listed reading along with many other things people use to avoid reality. I remember being put off by the comment. I don’t think you can group reading in with most addictions. Sure I understand the premise of it, but the reality is when I put my book down I jump right into my normal life. Maybe it’s different for others, but for many of us, those few minutes of reading may be what helps us get through the next hour or the next day. Our imagination drives creativity and that’s hard to come by on a daily basis.

By reading a book I can learn new things, enjoy fun stories and fall in love with characters, that are often too good to be true. Now that I am “grounded” and unable to travel due to Covid19, my adventures in reading are my escape. When I’m sitting on hold waiting for a doctor to answer, in bed late at night, or enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning I’m traveling to places unknown through my books. Nothing in the world can compare with what my imagination can create. The idea of escaping is often looked at as a bad thing, but as adults it’s reading is one of the only times we have were we can freely imagine.

Next time you read to a child, or watch them read a book, admire the face of wonder. Their expression is a look of astonishment and the story they see in their mind is a priceless gift. Give yourself the same opportunity. It’s tough being human right now, so be intentional and encourage your own imagination.

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome

Why I Read

I remember when I was a kid I hated reading. A teacher in first grade forced me to read some terrible book about a pigeon in New York City by myself. I flipped through the pictures and when she asked me about the book, I pretended I knew what it was about. Needless to say she caught me in my lie and made me read the book for real. I don’t really remember anything else from first grade but I remember that. It must have been pretty traumatic being caught in my own lie as a seven year old.

As I got older things started to change for me. There was one summer where I found the wonderful world of the Babysitters Club. (Yes, I know I’m dating myself here.) My cousin and I became obsessed with the books, and everything that had to do with them. We even started our very own “Babysitters Club” it was a bit ridiculous. Although we had no business being business owners, I did learn my love of reading with these books. You see, I needed to find books that actually interested me in order to enjoy reading, not pigeons in New York City. Crazy, I know.

This has held true for many years. When I sit down and read a book I can completely disappear into that world. It’s a form of escapism that doesn’t cost me a plane ticket and I love it. I have spent hours on end falling in love with characters. As a young adult I learned how good overcomes evil and how different emotions were expressed. As an adult I get to enjoy reading as part of my very own version of self-care. No, I’m not a woman who desires pedicures and shopping sprees. Instead I’m a woman who will drive clear to the other side of the state to see antique book shop.

I’m sure there are studies out there that will tell you how reading is good for cognitive health, reasoning and critical thinking skills so I’m not going to pretend I know anything about all that. Instead I will say this… if you have stumbled upon this blog post and it has been years since you’ve read a book, I challenge you to find one you love. Non-fiction, fiction, short, long, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t like reading then you haven’t found the right book. The worlds that authors create can take you to outer space or a small town in Wisconsin. They can take you on adventures you never imagined and make you fall in love with their heroine. Books are more then entertainment, for many of us books are our lifeline when things are tough. I’m certain we all can agree that 2020 is tough, so no better time then now.

Have you always loved to read? Was it a habit you picked up as an adult?

Happy Reading.

-Nikki Rome