The end of one year and the beginning of another one is always a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. I’m not one for resolutions, and planning for a whole year makes me break out in hives, but I do think having some hopes and goals for the coming year is important. And of course we can learn from the past.
Some of you may know that 2017 was a difficult year for me personally. It affected my writing and I wasn’t as productive as I’d like to be. Which actually means that next year will be impacted and I’ll only have 4 books out in 2018. I’ve been accustomed to being on a 5-6 book/year schedule, so this will be different for me.
I think 2017 was also difficult for many other authors and creative people. The politics in the US had a dramatic effect on me and other authors. I’m not even American! But I care about all the readers and friends there I’ve made over the years. I also hear from many authors that it was a challenging year in terms of sales…many have noted sharp downturns. There are many possible factors but I’ve heard that a successful author doesn’t just need talent, she needs persistence. I’ve had rejections and ups and downs over a nearly 10 year publishing career, so I AM PERSISTING!
Like I said, I don’t usually make resolutions, but last year on January 1 I resolved to write in a journal every night before bed—and it could only be positive things. When I had a shitty day at the day job, or problems in my personal life, or I got a bad review on one of my books…I couldn’t write about that. It had to be positive. I admit…some days that was really hard. But there’s always something to be positive about...something to be grateful for…I have a house. A car. A job. Great kids. My dog. I am blessed and lucky in so many ways. Sometimes I’d start to write… “I only wrote 500 words today”…and I’d strike the “only” and write “I wrote 500 words today”. Or “I went for a run but it was hard” — I’d change to “I went for a run”. It has made such a difference in my life. I’m going to continue to do this and I recommend it to anyone who struggles with stress, anxiety, self-doubt and even sleep issues.
Looking forward — I’m going to try to be more strategic in my business planning. I feel like marketing and promotion is all a crap shoot and I’m just shooting fish in a barrel any time I try something! But I’m going to try.
I hope that with only 4 releases I have more time to focus on writing and I’ll get ahead of things for 2019.
In the world… I predict 2018 will be the year of women.
This past year, men have fucked up a lot of things in the world. I’ve been fascinated with US politics since Donald Trump got elected and over the last months, I’ve observed that the people who are coming to the rescue are women. The journalists I follow who give me the best information -- Rachel Maddow, Sarah Kendzior, Natasha Bertrand. There’ve been some strong female politicians. There have been women who’ve all come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault by men in power, in the entertainment industry, in politics, in journalism.
The men who obsessed over Hillary Clinton’s emails, who gave Donald Trump more air time and coverage and who trashed Hillary— at least a dozen of those men have now lost their jobs because of sexual harassment.
The female voters, especially women of color, who made huge differences in Virginia and Alabama elections. The women who got elected in those elections. The women who are running for office now.
And romance writers – we can make a difference.
There are still so many misconceptions about what romance is. People think romance isn’t feminist because it shows women can’t be happy without a man, or all romance heroines are submissive doormats (waiting to be thrown over the back of a horse and ridden off with – ha!). Romance isn’t taken seriously by so many people.
Readers STILL sometimes react badly to strong heroines who go after what they want. I’ll never forget an early review for Major Misconduct – Lovey is fun and outgoing and confident and she goes after the man she’s attracted to – and a reader called her “uber slutty”. WHAT?? Others called her TSTL even though she was starting her own business and doing well at it. Heroes, on the other hand, will be forgiven for almost anything—but heroines, nope, one mistake, one bad decision, one strong assertive moment makes her a bitch, stupid, unlikeable or a slut.
I grew up in the 70s and I remember the slut shaming. Romance novels then reflected that, with rape fantasies and forced seduction—because it wasn’t okay for women to WANT sex. Let’s get past that. Let’s get past that internalized misogyny. Women should not be so hard on each other! These days, romance novels reflect strong women with agency, with goals and hopes and dreams who fall in love along their journey.
As I mentioned, I’ve had personal difficulties this past year, and being a romance writer helped me in ways I never would have anticipated. Now I recognize gas lighting. And I ask myself, if I was writing this story, how would my heroine behave? She’d be strong. She’d be optimistic that things will work out, but she wouldn’t just sit back and wait for things to work out, she’d take charge of her own life and fight for what she needs. So I am doing that.
I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the team of people who work with me -- my agent, editors, marketing and PR people, my assistant, cover artists, blurb writers, formatters...and most especially my readers. I love to write romance and I'm so grateful to everyone who helps me and to everyone who buys my books!