Carving Out a Place For Joy

A black-and-white photo of a woman in an evening gown looking sad while writing a letter at a desk with a single candle.
Her creative well is empty. Also, I totally look this nice while writing. 😉

It’s been about a month since I turned in book two of Starlight’s Shadow, and I’m finally starting to decompress and think about book three. My life would probably be a lot easier if I worked at a steady rate all the time instead of in bursts fueled by deadline panic, but I’ve made peace with my process. :)

The downtime immediately after a deadline is when I do a lot of the administrative tasks that get pushed off when in I’m in crunch time—things like creating promo graphics, updating the website, and cleaning the house. It’s also the time when I give myself permission to work on whatever catches my interest.

Which is how I started writing a little magical fantasy romance story (very) loosely inspired by beauty and the beast.

It’s supposed to be a short story, but we’ll see. It’s already 5k, so it’ll probably turn into a novelette, assuming I finish it at all. One of the joys of writing for pure fun is the complete lack of expectations. I’ll write until it’s not fun anymore (or until I need to start on book three) and no one will be disappointed by the lack of ending except for me.

One of the things I’ve really had to grapple with is that once I turned writing into a job, it became work. It’s work I love, granted, but it’s still work. It seems obvious, but it’s not, exactly. It’s insidious, until creating for pure joy suddenly becomes “I really should be working on X, instead” because there is always some X that needs doing.

No matter how fast I write, there will always be an X lurking in the back of my mind as the “better” use of my time. And purely from an economic standpoint, that’s not entirely wrong.

But from a creative standpoint, all of those expectations and demands can kill creativity, especially straight off deadline.

Creating for pure fun is an important part of refilling the well, the inner space where ideas are born. An empty creative well sucks all the joy from writing—assuming one can write at all. I can power through for a while, but it’s agony.

So guard those moments of joyful creation, and carve out space for them, even if it’s just five minutes.

Then, hopefully, if everything aligns, the project you have to do becomes a source of joy, too, because your well is full. And there is no better feeling than writing a story that is flowing perfectly.

I can tell I’m nearly there because I’m starting to think about the characters for book three rather than avoiding it like the plague, lol. And even if the short story goes nowhere, those words weren’t wasted. They were exactly the escape my brain needed. :)

Livestream with Kit Rocha and Jeaniene Frost Tonight!

Kit Rocha in conversation with Jessie Mihalik and Jeaniene Frost. Wednesday, September 8, 7PM Central.

Tonight, Jeaniene Frost and I are joining Bree and Donna (aka Kit Rocha) for an event to celebrate the release of The Devil You Know! I love Jeaniene’s books and you know I love Kit Rocha’s books, so pardon me while I fangirl for a second. 🤩😍

We’re going to talk about kickass female leads, mercenary librarians, and wherever else the conversation takes us—an event with Bree and Donna is always fun! Tubby and Coo’s is the hosting bookstore, and you can find more information on their site. They also just weathered Hurricane Ida, so if you can, pick up a book or two while you’re there! :)

Individual event links aren’t up yet, but the stream is supposed to be simultaneously broadcast on their Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as their homepage, so pick your poison and keep an eye on whichever you prefer tonight at 7PM Central.

When I get the direct links, I’ll post them to Twitter, so you can also follow me there. I hope to see you tonight!!

Two Romancelandia Charity Auctions!

A signed, personalized Consortium Rebellion trilogy (Polaris Rising, Aurora Blazing, Chaos Reigning) is up for auction!
Romancelandia for Afghan Women Auction

Get your bidding fingers ready, because Romancelandia has two charity auctions this week!

The Romance for Haiti auction starts tomorrow and runs through September 3. I donated a signed, personalized set of Consortium Rebellion books, so if you’ve always wanted me to scribble in the front of your book, now is your chance!

You can browse now and get your watchlist in order so you’ll be ready at midnight when the doors open. This auction has over 250 items, including a chat with my agent (or have her critique your query!) and tons of signed books, critiques, and video chats.

And a few items I’m not going to link because they are on my own watchlist and I don’t want to give you all any ideas. 😉

Next, the Romancelandia for Afghan Women auction is going on now through September 5 and also has over 250 items—from signed books to video chats to manuscript critiques. I didn’t hear about it early enough to donate, but I have my eye on a few things, so I’ll be over there cheerfully trying to outbid you all. :)

Both of these auctions go to support causes that desperately need the help, so I hope you’ll bid early and often!

Bookstore Romance Day Virtual Panel

High Stakes / High Emotions with Everina Maxwell, Sharon Lynn Fisher, Jessie Mihalik, and Elizabeth Lim, 2PM ET, Sunday, August 22

This weekend is Bookstore Romance Day! To celebrate I will be on a virtual panel on Sunday, August 22 at 2PM ET with Everina Maxwell, Sharon Lynn Fisher, and Elizabeth Lim talking about writing books that combine high stakes and high emotions.

Sometimes love finds you at an unexpected time—like when you’re trying to save the world. Come listen to us chat about how we balance action and romance and why we’re drawn to books that combine both. I can’t wait, and I hope to see you there!

The event is free, but you do need to register and spaces are limited.

You should check out the rest of the panels, too, because the lineup is incredible!

Done! And Hunt the Stars is up for reviewers!

I finished writing the second book in the Starlight’s Shadow trilogy this week. My deadline is actually Monday, which means I turned it in a few days early.

I hope it’s not terrible, or I’m going to look really silly. :)

Before I could decompress from deadline stress, Hunt the Stars went up on NetGalley and Edelweiss+, which means that reviewers, booksellers, librarians, etc can now request copies to read/review. So that’s a whole new set of anxiety. Thanks, brain.

While it’s anxiety-inducing, it also means the book is creeping ever closer to release, so yay for that!

Now I have to do a bunch of admin stuff I’ve been putting off for a month while dragging the book over the finish line. Then I have to decide what I’m going to work on next, or if I’m going to dive straight into book three.

But first, I’m going to take a nap. 🥰

Oh, and if you have any book recs of fantastic books you’ve ready lately, drop them in a comment. I have time to read again!!