Fly little bird, fly! #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Well I totally forgot it was Friday. Had zero clue until I was heading out of work for the day and everyone was saying “have a good weekend”. To which I stared blankly at them with a big old question mark hovering over my head. Thankfully someone took mercy and reminded me it was Friday. Color me shocked! Short weeks are great because you don’t have to go to work as often, but good lawd do they mess up your internal calendar. That’s my story and I’m damn well sticking to it.

Today’s post, slightly delayed though it is, is about new authors trying new things. We all know the saying “write what you know” well by this point, but there is more to an authors life than that. We should also try new things from time to time.

The main reason folks tell you to “write what you know” is so that you become comfortable, and find a routine of writing that works for you. If you’re writing “what you know” then you are in a comfort zone for your topic of choice for your WIP. But eventually you will discover you’ve done it so often that you are now in a rut so damn deep you’re not sure if you’ll ever get out. Like the one scene in Twister where they were being chased by the tornado and couldn’t quite get the truck out of the ditch.

On one hand it’s great advice for the newbie’s out there, learn your rhythm, find your happy place, and once you have a pattern to work with, stretch out your wings. Not only will this help you grow as an author instead of writing the same old, same old to death, but it will also keep sparking your muse. Because without that psychotic schizophrenic bitch throwing curve balls and wild cards, writing can become dull. Repetitive. Boring.

I’m not saying to pull a 180 and go right off the deep end, that might be going too far unless you truly feel prepared for that. I’m suggesting maybe a different genre, or add on a sub-genre to your current pursuits to add something fresh to the mix. And then build on that. Eventually you could be doing that 180 from where you were to start, no one’s saying you have to or that you shouldn’t. But go at your own pace, in your own time, and with what feels most comfortable to you. After all, you’re the only one that knows what’s going on in your head, what your muse is thinking, and what sparks that creative juice to start flowing.

So write what you know until you’re ready to head into the unknown.

Terminal velocity #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday one and all, you’ve made it through another week. Today will be a short post (in theory), since I have much to accomplish before I depart for the long weekend for some family time.

Pretty much everyone on the planet knows what “terminal velocity” is. For those unfamiliar it is basically the maximum rate a falling body will reach. An easy example most folks can visualize is a sky diver leaping from a plane, and plummeting to earth. The diver will pick up speed until (and there’s math involved here) they can’t go any faster in their current chosen position. Basically the end result, if they don’t pull their chute, is – well – I think we all know.

There are days where I feel like I’m in free-fall as an author. It’s not exactly a reassuring sensation, but it can have a few advantages. I’m someone who works best under deadline. As a naturally born semi-procrastinator (not always though I should mention), I do well in the time crunch. Unfortunately I don’t always have control over my “time”, the main reason being my Evil Day Job. Yes, I probably could go find another job, somewhere. But it’s not a forgone conclusion that I could find one that would allow me more “me” time. These days it’s better to have a job that sucks time than to be unemployed, believe you me. But that’s beside the point.

Everyone has “time sucks”, it seems to be a naturally occurring phenomenon that crops up the instant you become an author. It’s not obvious at first, but eventually you start to spot the pattern. The biggest ones, social media and drama. Oh the drama. And it’s usually on social media! Vicious, seemingly never ending cycle.

Sadly, although we are (for the vast majority) adults in the author community, we still cannot avoid drama. It comes in all shapes, sizes, and from any and all fronts. Getting sucked into drama is a fantastic way to feel yourself free-falling, and eventually reaching your own personal terminal velocity. It’s pretty much the point where you say “fuck this shit!” and ___________ fill in the blank. Some authors call it quits, others change everything about their author lives around, some cut out bad influences (aka: the shit disturbers, otherwise known as the promoters of drama), and still others blow their gaskets. Usually in a rather, here’s that word again, dramatic fashion.

While sitting at your desk writing, or surfing the Net won’t have you reaching terminal velocity physically, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach it mentally. We all have our limits. Limits about how much bullshit we’re willing to put up with, how many lies we’re willing to see perpetrated online, how much bad mouthing we’re willing to have pop into our feeds, and how much favoritism we’re willing to put up with – especially when it happens constantly, and with the same individual(s). We all have a hard line in the proverbial sand that when it’s crossed, all we can see is red.

The only thing we can really control is ourselves, and our reactions to what pushes our buttons. No one needs drama in their lives, unless you happen to be an actor or drama major. How you deal with everything that will filter through your feeds, emails, and lives is up to you. The only advice I will give is these two pieces:  Always take a step back, and evaluate the pros and cons before making a potentially life altering decision. And don’t let anyone, no matter who they are, tell you that you’re not making the right choice for you. Only you know you – which means you are the only one who can decide what does, and doesn’t work for you.

Writing Is My Sanity by Jules Dixon #MondayMessages #AmWriting #WritingAdvice

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Hello, everyone! How are you all doing?

I’ve had a long week, busy with moving, holiday gatherings, and getting a house ready for market, but I’m not going to complain, I’m reveling in the fact that I’m getting as much done as I am.

But, something had to get hurt in the process. For me, that was my 4-6 hours of writing a day. Not only did time have something to do with it, but in reality, some weeks are better than others for writing. It’s just the way muses work, at least mine.

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One thing I’ve found consistent is that when I’m having a bad or busy day, if I’m able to get at least some me writing time into the end of a day, all seems to be better.

 

Writing truly is my release time. It’s been keeping me sane these last few weeks.

This morning I was stressed out. Lots had gone right and some had gone wrong this weekend. So hubby convinced me that we needed an hour away just to decompress and so we tried a new breakfast place that is close to our new home, moving from the ‘burbs to the middle of the city.

This lovely couple saw us waiting and asked if we’d like to sit with them. We had a wonderful conversation and their personalities inspired me to write in an older couple to my current story. They were so in sync with each other. Fifty-six years of marriage, three children, eight grandkids (who they gushed over and had every right to) and one great-grandchild. It was lovely to see and really made me think.

Life is pretty darn great.

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Seriously.

Even if I’m hurting in every part of my body. Seriously, my feet right now…on fire. There is something to look forward to or to appreciate right here and now.

Little things and big things.

Like the new firmer mattress waiting for me at the new house. And a new desk for writing–can’t wait to start writing at it. Friends and family to have over to enjoy our new home with.

Just have a few more things to do at this house to get it ready to sell and we can start a new chapter in our lives.

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And the kitties need to be moved. Not sure how they’re going to do with it all, but we’ll work it out. Cause again…it’s all good, if we’re together.

If that couple taught me anything it was to not worry so much, enjoy the people in my life, and invite people to sit at my table.

So to all the readers, writers and friends I’ve yet to meet out there, you are always welcome at my table.

❤ and Hugs to all.

Jules

 

 

 

All the Good, Bad, and Ugly Excuses NOT to Write by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #authors

All the Good, Bad, and Ugly Excuses NOT to Write by Jules Dixon

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Hey, I get it. You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy. Agreed.

You have kids. I have kids. Sure, they’re adults now, but they still come around once in a while and ask for my attention, and I want to give it to them. Cause…I luvvvvs them. ❤

 

You have a job. I have a job. I unclog toilets and sinks for a living as a landlord, as well as write stories to entertain.

You have a spouse/significant other. Ditto. And he likes to talk to me for some weird reason.

You have friends. Yep, have those, too. They don’t always claim me, but I always claim them.

You have a family. Two younger sisters who like to see me once in a while. I think.

You have hobbies and like to give back to your community. Me, too. Cooking, baking, and dancing. Plus, I have a fondness for drinking martinis on Friday afternoons while sitting on a patio enjoying doing nothing. And I participate in the Omaha PRIDE parade and celebration, and other fundraising events during the year to support LGBT advocacy for equality.

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You have animals demanding your attention. Two cats here and yes, they like to be spoiled. Rotten.

You have favorite TV shows/bands/movies to see. I can’t stop watching The Goldbergs, Supernatural, or Friends. Over and over and over.

You have vacations and summer/spring/Christmas breaks. I don’t take vacations very often, but I know the concept and enjoy them when I do. And they’re vital to a healthy life.

And all of this means…You have a life.

Bingo.
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You got it.

I know it.

You. Have. A. Life. 

 

And when it comes to life, we have to make choices between have to do, want to do, and need to do. Priorities can feel like hardships and a drag on your excitement. Scheduling everything is rough to get everything done. And having to justify wanting to write over spending time with your spouse or significant other/friends/kids/family or doing other fun things, well, I know it’s hard to balance all and not have someone feel left out. But it can be done.

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Make your priorities clear. Make a schedule and put it on the fridge/wall/someplace where people in the house see it. Find a time every day that you can notch out just for you to write, even 20 minutes, which can yield 250 words–a page–would mean a 60,000-word novel in 240 days and still leave time in the year for editing and polishing before sending off to a publisher or agent.

I’m not saying to give up all TV time or friends or fun…I’m saying to balance and make sure expectations are set before you enter into an event. If you say to yourself, I can have lunch with my friend, but I will tell her I’ll be leaving at 2 pm to write my 1,000 words for the day.

Or if you want to write as bad as you’d want to watch that next episode of your favorite TV show, then make that the reward.

And FYI, 1,000 words a day x 5 days a week (giving you the weekends off–yep, I said OFF!) would be 260,000 words in a year–that’s over four 60,000-word novels. Four. Yes…

FOUR. That’s a significant number of books written each year. In fact, that’s quite impressive.

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So, set a schedule. Make it a priority. Set expectations. And then do it!

Okay, good luck.

I’m rooting for you!

Hugs, Jules

 

All gifs from Giphy.

 

 

Author Lessons Learned by Jules Dixon #MondayMessages with @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #LitChat

Author Lessons Learned

I haven’t been in this industry for decades like some, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned lessons. In just three years of being published, I’ve garnered some thoughts and here are three I’d like to share.

giphy (55)1. The choice between indie publishing and traditional publishing should be one you consider extremely carefully. With Indie publishing the author retains control, you are the decision maker, you don’t answer to anyone but you, but you also lay out the funds to make covers, buy ISBN’s, editing, formatting, and 100% of the marketing. Whereas with traditional publishing the costs of everything but marketing are assumed by the publisher and they should be. If a publisher makes you buy a cover or editing or almost anything…just say no and run!
So consider not only how much control you want, but your time, your available funds (noting that it takes upwards of $2000 to properly and effectively self-publish a book), and the amount of effort you want to put forth. And yes, $2K, so budget appropriately. But when you give up control to a publisher you are taking the chance that a cover won’t be your “exact” vision, the editing might not be exactly what you’d pay for, or the marketing might be far less than you ultimately want. Actually, the marketing probably will be less, and you’ll want to put forth some extra effort for your book. Your baby deserves it.

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2. Writing is only 50% of a successful book. The other parts are everything that comes after you write that “The End”. Including revision, getting critiques, beta reads for quality, then everything from cover and editing through marketing. And those things take time because they are important.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is extremely important and ultimately is a writer’s signature on paper. But the rest is the polish on the story and the way to get readers interested in reading. And that other 50% takes a lot of time. So much time that an author can find themselves…not writing! Which is…gasp…what we should be doing!

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3. Something is going to go bad or worse. I don’t care if you’re an NYT or USA Today best-selling author or sell two wonderful copies, at some point or another, the $hit is going to hit the fan in some way. And no matter what, you have to be an adult and suck it up. Maybe you’re not going to like something your publisher does or doesn’t do. Or you not going to get the reaction from readers on your book that you were hoping for. Or your series might crap out, leaving you with stories in your mind, but readers are moving on to other genres, books, series’. Things that are out of your control will happen. But it’s not what happens that matters, it’s how you react that matters. AND that’s what you can control. 

So you…let it go. I’m fully aware that it’s hard to, but for your sanity and your future, you let whatever it is slide off…and you keep writing. You reexamine whatever your plan was and adjust. And you move forward.

Forward.

Not backward.

And you definitely don’t stop.

If writing is in your soul, you just let it go. 

There are about 100 other…okay a 1000 other…thoughts/ideas/tips I could touch on, but those stood out to me this week. I’m sure next week another 3-1000 will stand out sometime soon and I’ll revisit.

Have a great week!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

All gifs from Giphy.

The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block with @JulesofTripleR #HumpDayHangout

The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block

There are two words I won’t say out loud together.

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Writer’s.

Ahem–Block.

 

Heck, I hate even writing them! I’ll say WB over the real words any day.

But I’m gonna come out and raise a white flag. Yes. I had the condition and I’m not afraid to admit it. And I’m here to tell of my tale.

From July of 2016 until two days ago, I fought for words. There were days when a few/dozen/two dozen was good enough. Some of my writing friends would point out that I still completed manuscripts, and yes, I did start and finish two novels and three short stories since then, but I did it in a fugue that I’d never experienced.

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Since August of 2013, I’d been on a writing frenzy. Words clamoring to get out of me. I’d liken the writing deluge of words to beginner’s luck if I believed in that, but still, the words came and the words stayed for tea and cookies…and tequila. Lots of tequila over the years.

But then three years almost to the date of when I started really writing fiction and romance, I crashed. There were days I stared at the screen for hours. My mind became a white board of desolation. And there was no marker to even scribble a hangman or sunshine to be found. Anywhere.

I thought maybe it was Seasonal Affective Disorder taking me over a little early. Sneaky thing seasonal depression is, hitting a person in a different way every year. Sometimes I go down in January when the holiday’s high is over. Sometimes at the holidays I find myself tumbling when I’m overwhelmed or emotional watching my kids open presents. They’re 22 and 20, so really it’s them opening their banking apps and seeing I transferred money, but there are stockings.

And there have been a few years where I just become a pile of human goo for three months out of the year—November, December, January. Thankfully those really bad years been few and far in between, but they have happened.

But I didn’t know what I know now.

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Not only was I experiencing my regular depression, but I was fatigued, exhausted, collapsing mentally because I didn’t give myself breaks. Three years of writing almost every day. YES, every, damned, day. If I didn’t, I imagined I was behind. I fought to “catch up” and I am here to tell you…there is NO catching up. There is only moving forward, taking each day as it comes, and rolling with the muses fucking punches.

I traveled to Canada for a retreat that my publisher, Evernight Publishing, held for their authors. The event was fantastic. I met some of the nicest people on the earth, including Kacey Hammell of Naughty-Quills. Lovely woman. But I returned to Omaha, Nebraska more out of sorts and more overwhelmed than before. I dragged myself out of bed each day because I had other commitments. I’d planned a 25 author signing event. I had to do the right thing cause I don’t quit—obviously.

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I was elected Prez of my local romance writer’s chapter. I slid farther down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and anxiety. Full on distress.

Wasn’t easy to keep up the appearance of having my shit together, but I did it.

I thought maybe I needed more sunlight. So I got a sunlamp and basically stayed up for two days in a row after using it. Apparently, I was too sensitive. My doctor said, “Stop using it, you have a real chance of having a psychotic episode”. That didn’t sound like fun. So I put it away.

Then came the holidays and I kept busy with shopping and events, but I’d open my computer and… nothing. So few synapses in my brain putting out good thoughts or hell even any thoughts. I would have taken bad, too.

I took the last half of December off and went to Denver, Colorado for New Year’s. My hubby and our friend did their best to keep me going and getting out with the peoples of the world, but I was über miserable.

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But I had commitments, so I kept up. I showed up. I made up. I faced up. I tied up. Put up. Shut up. And fixed up. What I could.

My mentor, Corrissa James, did what she could to encourage me and help me through the rough days, and I thank her and the other writing friends who stuck it out with me and encouraged me. And then there are others who will probably read this and say—WTF? I never would have guessed in a million years.

And that’s one of my points. We can never know what’s going on inside another person. Don’t guess. Don’t assume. And please, for the love of god, don’t judge.

February came around. The month of love. One of my favorite times of the year. I experienced a little improvement early in the month and I put a few words to the page. More than January, but less than December because I pushed myself to just get shit done in December, but that backfired, too. In January, my holiday short stories received a couple bad reviews. I only know the number (1’s and 2’s ain’t good, my friends) but not the words of the review cause I don’t read them, but it’s enough to know my readers weren’t happy. And I wasn’t happy.

And then the plague came on last week. Nothing like the f’ing upper respiratory flu to knock you down until you think death would be the sweeter passageway. I fought through and by the weekend I was doing better. And I actually had some hope. My muse was calling out and strutting…

giphy-21And this week, that vixen demanded I write a new story in the same series as a story accepted by my publisher for their newest male/male alpha anthology. Shifter wolves with special abilities.

So I wrote. And over the last thirty-six hours, 9100+ words have poured from me. This isn’t a record for me, and certainly many authors consider that a light day, but it’s a good thing for me. A good omen. She’s baaaaack! I have some of my spring back. My brain cloud is lifted and I’m ready to face writing again without wondering what the day will bring.

So, if you’re in you’re struggling out there, a little of the old WB got you down. Keep the hope. Muses are fickle beings. And then again, sometimes you need to realize when you need a break and take breaks. And don’t push yourself. Be good to you, and that muse will be good to you, too.

**And note: I know I’ve made this semi-amusing but depression is nothing to laugh about. I know this cause I live and have lived it. So, if you’re experiencing any thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, or hurting yourself or others, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US.

To celebrate my return to good writing days, here’s an excerpt (unedited) from what’s spilled from my muse in the last two days.

Mooncrest: Saving Honor

Her eyes widened. “No. I … you … we … not possible.” She inhaled small gasping breaths. “We’re … friends.”

He searched her pooling gray eyes to see if on any level she instinctually comprehended the truth, but she’d lost the ability to feel and trust. Only confusion and fear hazed her dilated pupils.

It was time to lay his feelings on the line, and even if she still rejected him, he’d keep trying. She was his. There was no turning back.

“Honor Creed, I’ve loved you for five long years, watching while another man put his hands on you, feeling in my soul your unhappiness, but there was nothing I could do about our torture … until now. Now, you’re free from him. I don’t want to stop being your friend. I want to be more to you. Mother Wolf told me when I was eighteen you were going to be the greatest love I’d ever know. You’ve been hurt. You need time. I understand. But—you and me—it’s gonna happen.”

Love, Jules AND Happy HUMP day, peeeeeeples!

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All Gifs from Giphy.com. 

 

Hump Day Hangout-A New Girl on the Naughty Block #HumpDayHangout with @JulesofTripleR

Hump Day Hangout-A New Girl on the Naughty Block

Waves to everyone! Hello out there!

SONY DSCFirst, a giant thank you to Naughty Quills for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this blog and to have a little voice in this great big world.**Mwah** and ❤ to all of you.

Second, I’m the new girl on the naughty block–Jules Dixon. I write New Adult Romance from the biggest small town you’ll ever visit, Omaha, Nebraska. This area is also known as the heartland of the USA, which is pretty fitting for penning stories of love and romance. I write about all versions/combos of love, but near to my heart is writing Male/Male and Female/Female romance, but hell, any romance that makes my heart tick-tick a little faster is fair game.

Today I’d like to talk about what you’ll be seeing from me and what you won’t be seeing here on the blog in the future.

YES!—Tips on writing, everything from plotting methods to character sketch ideas. Even things that I love in books, like tropes and common characters and settings.

No—Politics. As much as I have an opinion, you’ll never hear it. Hump Days will be for getting away and taking a break from it all.

YES!—Sexy snippets from my past and upcoming books and pictures that go with them. Learn about my worlds and who I see in them!

No—Bashing of writers or the writing world. This business is rough and has good and bad, but we don’t need to make it rougher on each other. I promise to only uplift and encourage.

YES!—Things that make me go…hmmm? Whether that is something that happened to me or something I read in the reading and writing world. If it sticks with me, you might see me hang it out here for thoughts.

No—Bull$hit/click bait marketing. As much as I’d love for you to buy my books, I’ll never ask you to. If you find me interesting and like what I write here, then you make the first move. I’m kinda shy, so I’ll never make a move on you. Promise.

YES!—Always to end with a funny hump day meme that will get you through your day with a smile.

Speaking of smiles, just so you can put a face with a name—here’s me.

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I go through hair colors as if a rainbow sits on my head. Right now the strands are kind of a magenta-raspberry blend with blonde, but there’s been purple and teal and hot pink and…well, maybe someday I’ll ask for a vote on the next color here.

 

 

So, next week let’s promise to have a date. Right back here. I’ll bring the tequila, you bring the limes. ‘Til then, here’s your hump day meme…

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❤ Jules

 

 

Standalones, Series, and Serials: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

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… which can mean only one thing. It’s time for another Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth. As promised, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Standalones, series books, and serials.

Standalones

For me, I’ve always had a hard time with standalones. Four of the eleven books I’ve written have started as standalone novels. They’ve all turned into series. I have this compulsion to keep developing the characters (even the ancillary ones) and world building.

Hubs and I were out to dinner one night about the time I started on The Darkness Calls and he’s just asking me all of these questions.

Do vampires in your world get into the music or media from their timeframe?

Do they eat food?

Do they poop?

About halfway through dinner, I’m spitballing answers and I said, “Well fuck. This is just too interesting a universe to make this one book. Did this just turn into a series?”

Spoiler alert: It did. Just like it always does.

Series

For me, that moment … the connection in my brain, where the idea sparks to life, is the most thrilling part of writing. When you can string those thoughts from one story into a map for an entire series? It seems silly not to, in my opinion.

As a reader, I always got attached to the supporting characters, too. The plucky little sister of the hero has to grow up some time. Watching her find love can be a reward in its own. When it’s done properly, you can get to know a whole town, or a group of friends, or a pack of shifters, etc.

The stories from book to book should be unique. It’s normal if characters that know each other have some similar mannerisms and quirks, but … it can be a bit repetitive if they’ve ALL got the same quirks. If they’re interchangeable, then you’re doing it wrong.

Even worse, is when the series is kind of over, but the author keeps trying to squeeze a dollar out of it. Sexy Sex: The Third Generation: Part 75.

Beware the follies.

Serials

This is a huge pet peeve for me for a couple of reasons.

  1. Not pointing fingers or naming names but when your serial count is in the 20’s for a particular couple… and you’re charging 3.00 a serial, that’s just shitty. I understand getting hooked on a story but $60 bucks is really really REALLY a ton of money to drop on one couple. I mean, fuck. I love a happy ending as much as the next girl, but seriously. I’d much rather read full length books than to shell out for 20 sets of 35 pages. Just write a series of three or four… roughly 350 pages. Charge me 6.99 each. That’s $28.00 which is a ton better than $60. *yay math!*
  2. You run the risk of it becoming cliched in order to maintain reader interest. There has to be a HUGE cliffhanger suspenseful moment at the end of each to keep people shelling out money, so if you ever anthologize your serials into a set, and the back cover blurb reads something like this…

    “The shy (yet plucky) BBW virgin falls for her boss, the crop wielding billionaire alpha  BDSM wolf shifter sex god rock and roll star that’s also in a motorcycle club.”

It’s time to rethink your game plan. Absolutely no one ever needs to read that book. I assure you.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on series (why I love them) vs. serials (why I hate them)  vs. standalones (why I can’t make myself do it). Until next week, I bid you adieu!

XOXOX,

Michelle Roth