Sometimes, you gotta get stuff off your chest #authorlife

You know when you have a bad case of heartburn and you lay down in bed, and it burns the hell out of your chest? You wonder if you’re having a heart attack, remembering if you had any tingling in your arms or not. You turn on your right side, then your left. You eat a graham cracker, which provides only momentary relief. You chew some tums, take an antacid, or swallow something stronger. These too only provide short-term relief because at the end of the day, you need to find out what the heck is causing the heartburn…


That’s what this blog post is like for me. It’s been sitting there, festering, eating away at me slowly. Despite several momentary lapses in my thinking, the idea still sits there, hammering away in my brain.


If I don’t put these thoughts out there, I will continue to be agitated to the core…so, here you go.


…Sometime in 2013, I wrote a piece on E.L. James and the Fifty Shades Trilogy (I would link to it, but I’ve taken my blog down since then). Anyway, I began to cover the book series from a mom-in-business perspective. Disclaimer: I and devoured all three books, and I would do it again. That being stated, I looked at James and her series from the perspective of creating a name/brand for oneself. Hot damn, Erica did that—whether you liked the subject matter or not doesn’t matter. Who the hell doesn’t know who E.L. James is?


Around the time I published this blog post, I was contacted by a producer for the Katie Couric show. We chatted about my theory. We talked some more on the idea of the trilogy spicing up bedrooms. I was invited on the show (I had to politely decline for an unrelated reason). Somewhere in there, I mentioned I always wanted to write a book and had been sketching out an idea for some time. Needless to say, this producer encouraged me to do just that. She loved my blog, had been following for some time, and liked my voice.


Flash forward to early 2014, book in hand, editing underway, and other decisions to be made. The notion of self-publishing appealed to me; I was a business woman too and wanted to control marketing and what-not. The biggest question was whether to use a pen name or not. At the time, I already ran a successful blog of my own, was syndicated on several other outlets, and had a pretty significant audience. If I had a quarter for every time I heard, “You should use a pen name and then you can self-promote without people knowing it’s you,” I could retire.




The notion of this felt like such a slap in the face. Did I have what it took to be that disingenuous? I consulted with several big-time blogging, writer colleagues, and decided honesty was the only path I could take.


Not long after that, I hit publish using my real name. It’s been a pretty vast journey since. Initially, there was a lot of money and success to be had…I found readers, hosted blog tours, started a newsletter, continued blogging and writing, and on & on. 

Tough times fell on the Romance category. We don’t know the specific reason, more than likely many factors contributed. A flooded market, Kindle Unlimited, sales, freebies, voracious readers, signings gone bad, the closing of brick-and-mortar stores. You name it, and I’ll list it. Mostly, there were a lot of newcomers to the category (and I was still relatively new myself). The stupid fucking algorithm changed and changed again—keep in mind, we never fully understood it to begin with. There were theories and rumors, but never anything proven. We needed 30 reviews, then we needed 50, now I think we 1 bazillion in 24 hours. What we needed was to be noticed. There were sales and a whole slew of websites who promoted your sales for a fee. There were freebies, and blitzes, and READING GROUPS became a thing.


None of these tactics were wrong. In fact, used together or separately on any given day (while running ads), you may see some traction.


The thing was, we only wanted to be seen, discovered, and read. It became harder and harder. The tapestry of our individual lives varies differently, and authors have extremely different output levels. 


And there came the mills: the faceless authors who published continually, recycling themes and ideas, padding books, sometimes found to be copying content, yet were burning up the charts, dominating KU and sales, pushing hard-working authors to the far ends of the algorithm. These authors love chocolate and red wine like you and me. They have a dog or cat and live in the foothills of some gorgeous rural setting. You see where I’m going with this?


Some of this is speculation, some is founded. Plagiarism continues to be discovered. 

And all this has both me and many others saying: WE need to reinvent ourselves, create a persona, who can compete in this made-up market.


I don’t want to do that, which is why I mentioned my backstory. 

I want to be me.

I want to own my words and ideas and love my readers.

Isn’t that what every writer wants? 

Competing against a “machine” is a bigger blow than a bad review or two. 


I’m not certain of the solution. When I have an idea, I will let you know. 


What I am CERTAIN of is this:

I write my own words.

I spend time staring at each and every one on my laptop screen while often drinking cold coffee.

I’m not fast. I’m not slow. I’m just me, and that’s all I can expect of myself.



If you’re curious what I’ve been writing…it’s something new. A little different for me. More Women’s Fiction, with romantic elements, and a lot of complicated relationships amongst friends and couples. I LOVE it, and I hope to have it in your hands sometime soon.



The Book Biz is in Fact a Business #authorlife

Please note: The following post is both my personal opinions and feelings.


My relationship is falling apart.

I’m considering a formal separation for the first time…in ever.


The Indie Book World and myself have been in a committed, loving relationship since 2014. Now, my affections are wavering.


There’s so much strife, talking behind EVERYONE’S back, and conflict, you would never believe we are all readers and writers involved in the pursuit of the HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER.

A field of predominantly women, we were/are/continue to be pioneers of new territory, yet we can’t get along or support one another to save our last breath.


Of course, there are pockets of authors who support one another, but mention one to the other, and you will get a whiff of how divided the industry is.



Bottom line: Authors pen stories. They’re the byproduct of hours, days, months and sometimes years behind a laptop. Countless eyeballs help with beta reading, proofreading, and editing. Investments—both financial and time—are made toward covers, swag, promotion, marketing, etc.


Readers/bloggers/reviewers either love or hate them. They don’t want the book to end or they feel they could have written it better. We hang on to the top of the cliff by one hand while waiting for the reviews.


They trickle in or come in a windfall. We read them even though we say we don’t or can’t or won’t. They make us feel good or horrible. It doesn’t really matter—this is our business, our livelihood, and we must go on.


We send early copies to fellow authors and big-name bloggers in a hope someone, anyone, or just one damn fucking person will read our book. We vaguebook when they don’t. We shout from the rooftops when they do. We gush, and oooh-and-aaah, and make everyone else feel bad (not intentionally – it’s just happens). *If you deny ever feeling upset over this sort of thing, you’re lying. I’ve felt it. It’s a deep sadness like none other.


Fifteen years ago, I lost a baby half-way through a pregnancy and no matter where I turned a pregnant woman turned up. It was a constant reminder of what I couldn’t have. During the time, my husband and I were shopping for bicycle carriers for our toddler. They only sold the trailer with two seats—the possibility of being able to carry a second child to term was extinct in my mind. I cried, raged, and stomped out of the bicycle store in a hormonal fit, demanding a seat for one child or no seat at all.


Point being, each and every week, books on top of books are released. EVERYONE is literally releasing books. Our colleagues are almost always releasing alongside us—sometimes you’re the one to hit it big, other times, you’re not. This has happened to me more times than I can count on one hand. I eat a cookie or five, put on my smile and thinking cap, and try to understand what I can do differently on the business end.

I say I’m not going to read reviews, but I do and eat more cookies.

It’s fine. I wake up, run a few miles, and begin brainstorming. There is the creative side and the business side. My story needs to come to me, simmer and fester in my brain. The business stuff is less complicated.


At least it should be.


So why is everyone fighting?


AND you know they are. Marketing budgets, are they in KU?, Such-and-such blurbed them, or they must know the algorithm become major points of discussion (to name a few).


AND why? Reality is: Authors have different marketing budgets. Take your local bakery and Dunkin Donuts—do they have the same advertising budget? No. They can’t possibly. But maybe the local yokels think strategically, place ads smartly and involve influencers, so they can expand to two stores or three——> grow their business IN BABY STEPS.



I firmly believe at the base of all this fighting is this: Somewhere along the line we forgot this wasn’t just for fun but it’s business.


Take for example this email I received the other day.

(Editor’s Note: In my other life, I freelance write and blog for various media outlets and companies).

A particular company wanted me to cover something. It was a product/services in return for coverage, something I don’t often do but this one I’m considering.


They asked me this:


YouTube Link:

YouTube Subscribers:

Monthly Unique Visitors:

Average # Comments:

How long you've had the blog:

Purpose/main topic of your blog:

Instagram Username:

# Instagram Followers?   Send Link:

Instagram Username:

# Twitter Followers?   Send Link:

Twitter Handle: Send Link:

# of Facebook Fans/Likes?   Send Link:

Any other Social Media stats you would like to share:


Chew on the above for a minute and what it means.


Yes, I know for a while, there was some discrimination in handing out Advanced Copies to bloggers, which of course led to arguing. Smaller bloggers were being ignored (***wrongly, because it’s an engagement issue – number of unique visitors/comments/likes combined type stuff).


What it means is much larger. This is business people. BUSINESS. And if done right, feelings are left out of it. Even the ones we feel when we read bad reviews!


Business based on a creative product isn’t easy.

BUT the business side is not founded in creative blah-blah. IT’s founded in numbers, stats, budgets, reach, frequency, click thru ratio, etc. IT’s based in reality.


So, when we fight, we make ourselves look like we don’t take publishing seriously. When we bash, vaguebook over stupid shit, and go after one another, we take away from the hard work our industry demands.


Being an indie author is like leading a double life. We have a creative side to us, but in order for anyone to actually read our creative stuff, we need to put on our business hat.

On why I was scared to release a book...

Editor's note: I deleted an entire cheese-filled post for the following sentimental, raw post. These are my feelings, real and true—please take that into account.

Today, I released my 9th book. It's been a different type of release for me. Quiet and sedate.

Recent book releases have come with so much pomp and circumstance, streamers and confetti and hours, day, and weeks spent online pimping, sharing and marketing (most of It spent in my robe).

This one is a different though.


In early 2012, I wrote a blog post on E.L. James—how whether or not you read or planned to read her books or not, she was living the Mom/Woman/Entrepreneur dream. Basically, if you wanted to put her down, you could go suck it. Subsequently, I was called by Katie Couric's team for my opinion. At the time, I admitted to her producers I always wanted to write a book. They said, "you should do it."


In 2014, I published Electrified, a romantic suspense novel. I put my heart and soul into that book. Did it become the next Fifty? NO. But it did serve it's make people think about love and the idea that it doesn't always happen conveniently. There was also the seedy environment in which Electrified takes place—a gentleman's club in Sin City. There were themes that were somewhat uncomfortable and among all the glitz and bright lights of the stripper pole was a valuable lesson. It wasn't your typical romance, and for that I got some slack (including being called a religion basher).

Book two of this series, Smoldered, released later that year and I learned about books being labeled NOT SAFE. LISTEN, I don't say this to agitate reviewers...I was simply that stupid and naive back then. A long time reader myself, I pretty much read anything. I didn't have any triggers or unsafe zones when it came to fiction, but these are very real feelings for many real people. Smoldered is an ugly and painful tale about a beautiful couple who eventually finds their happy ending. I came to understand it wasn't for everyone.

Over the year, Big Mike had become a fan favorite in Electrified and Smoldered. It was obvious his story was next, but he was in love with a high-end escort. 

I came to realize his story was neither safe nor comforting.

Every few weeks, I'd add a little more to Mike and Lynx's tale. It quickly began to turn into my grittiest story yet. So, I put it off, pushed it aside, and let the dust collect there.

I hate to admit this, but part of this was out of fear. I have a thick skin, and I mean it when I say, readers have their right to their own opinions and feelings (as stated above). BUT I found myself unable to work on Mike's book for a long time, and then I said, "Screw it," and started writing it again.

IT is not pretty.

IT definitely pushes some readers way out of their comfort zone.

IT includes a love affair between a biracial woman and a blue blood white male. IT is forbidden in more ways than one. She's a "working girl" and he's trying to be more than he was born into...

IT is steamy and sensual, raw and grimy, and the ending is just as I always saw it.

I'm proud of the risk I took for these two to have their story.

To all the readers who waited patiently, this book is for you. JUST read the dedication if you don't believe me.

This is why today is without confetti and streamers, but maybe I'll throw some tomorrow.



IF you would like to check out any of the books in the Electric Tunnel series, check out their pages: Electrified, Smoldered, Tinged.



Donut Making Time: All the THINGS, #authorlife commentary and more.

It's the little things.

No doubt, you've heard this expression no less than a million times if you're over FORTY, like me.

There's a reason why. It's the truth. The little things are what makes a difference in life, love, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and business.

Since I started out writing five-bazillion years ago, it never fails...I always end up circling back to the little things.

One of my little things rules is: do [shit] stuff for others.

Like how we should do unto others...we should do for others.

Lately, there's been way too much taking and not giving. I recently saw a colleague of mine basically drop me because I couldn't help her on a particular project. Now, hold up...I just said about doing for others?!?!?

Well, to be honest, I had done and done and done for this person, and the one time I couldn't...well, you get the picture. That's not the way to handle yourself. BECAUSE the other side of the coin of the little things are the BIG THINGS.

When the BIG thing is all about taking, using and/or dropping someone like a wet noodle. Quite simply, that's not cool. Little things are not meant to be snagged in an endless one-way supply.

Back to the little things. Right about when I was feeling funkadelic and pissed off, my girl Michelle over at AfterDark Book Lovers Blog saved the day. Like donuts from heaven, she messaged me and said, "HEYA, there's a KU group and they would love your books. Can I add you?" Or something along those lines. 

BTW, Michelle and her girls, Grace and YaYa are class acts. They run a top-notch blog, support the writing community undyingly and do it with style.

Anyway, Michelle adds me to the group and these KU ladies are lovely and saying such nice things to me. Hey now, we all need nice things said to us now and again.

Anyway, it's the little things. Michelle did a little thing that basically was a BIG deal today.

~ Rachel

[This snippet is part of a series of snippets in which I share my take and opinions on the author life and women in writing/business. Like on Twitter, people say: opinions are my own. They are just that. Mine. And yes, I know doughnuts is misspelled.]