2017- Taking On A Whole New Level

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

I wasn’t going to do the obligatory end of year post, but what a year it’s been!  When I read over my posts from the past two Decembers, I realize just how far I’ve come. One thing I learned this year─even when your dreams come true, there’s usually a surprise or two in the mix.

Mission Accomplished

In December of 2014, I wrote about how my life in general and my writing career in particular seemed to be gathering momentum. I had goals and plans, and they were taking shape. At the end of 2015, I noted how my goals and plans had changed, but the progress I had made was beyond my expectations. The same was true in my private life as well, as I had begun to consider some major changes to my day job.

Well in 2016, everything happened. I sold some of my business interests, a major change in my day job situation. The universe threw me a wonderful curve ball─as soon as I voiced my true desire and made a commitment to pursue it, the people and resources needed to make it happen came forward without me having to seek them out.  Funny how things begin to happen when you get out of your own way!  The result was I had a bit more time and energy to ramp up my publication schedule for my debut, Unexplained, Book One of the Higher Elevation Series. I also set up my author website and finally learned the whole process of producing an indie book and bringing it to market.  Unexplained, a paranormal romance, was published October 25 and was well received. Book Two, Untouched. followed on November 22.

Fallout Girl

Those surprises I mentioned?  I’m still working through them. There was some fallout from rearranging my businesses, and those you can never accurately predict, because people react to changes in different ways. Some aspects went well, some were difficult. The same was true for my rapid release schedule for my books, which I am still in the midst of (Book 3, Undeniable, comes out January 3, 2017). It was a thrill to finally be a published author, but there was some fallout from that, too. I talked about my unexpected reactions in my last post, Post-Publication Syndrome─Now What?

But that’s how it goes when you’re an entrepreneur, you learn as you go. If you start to think you know it all, you’re heading into dangerous territory. But I say learning is part of the fun, right?

Going Up?

So heading into 2017, it feels like I’m on a whole new level. As seems to be the state of the world, rules and traditions are changing, and all at a pretty rapid pace. The dust is beginning to settle in my personal life, making way for new things to grow.  I have new ideas for some old writing projects that have been fermenting, and a few new stories I’d like to work on.  Looks like the future is wide open, and I’m ready for the surprises yet to come.

What about you? Have you had any surprises this year? What are your goals for 2017?

 

 

Post-Publication Syndrome- Now What?

attractive woman with laptop having neck pain

You’ve worked hard for months, maybe even years, on your first book. You’ve dreamed of the day you can finally say, “I’m a published author”, and it’s finally here. You had the launch party, your friends and family have congratulated you. You’ve finally made it, your dream has come true.

So now what?

Preparing for that day, which I experienced in October 2016, I tried to imagine what I would do, how it would feel. I asked other authors, I read blog posts and craft books. Most of them said it’s a wonderful thing, and some of them warned that it was just the beginning of even more work and additional challenges. I understood, and was ready and willing to take it on and do the work. But there was something no one told me about. Or, maybe they did, but in my push to get published, I dismissed it.

I’m talking about The Let Down. The Post-Publication Blues. I’ve got it, and I didn’t see it coming.

Mission Accomplished

Now, I’m a practical sort of person. I had no dreams of grandeur, I didn’t expect to be a best seller or even a good seller out of the gate. I’m a business person, an entrepreneur, so I know I’m selling a product and it will take time to find buyers (readers). I’m not feeling down due to lack of sales or recognition.  With time, and perseverance, (and spending money on marketing) it can improve.

It’s just…I accomplished what I set out to, and now I have this sense of loss. It’s purely emotional, and not what I expected to feel at this point in my career.  How I went from hopeful enthusiasm to…a general lack of enthusiasm in such a short time is beyond me. I love my stories, I believe they are worth reading. I haven’t had many reviews yet, but so far they have all been positive. My negative feelings have nothing to do with the work I have published to date. It’s more to do with expectations and realities, and the emotions that go along with them.

So Back to Work…Right?

Being practical, I knew the best thing I could do right now, besides promoting my newly published series (Higher Elevation, Books 1-3), is to keep writing.  I had several projects on the back burner while the Higher Elevation Series was being published, so all I had to do was pick up where I left off.  I needed to get the pipeline going again.  But that proved easier said than done, and I found my post-publication blues were effecting my ability to write. I’d get going and then I’d stall.  I found myself procrastinating, which I rarely did before. Used to be I couldn’t wait to do something, anything writing-related.

It didn’t help that I’d spent the better part of this year editing, rewriting, and all the other business that comes with Indie publication.  My creative muse had been exiled, and when I asked her to get back to work, she had less enthusiasm than I did.  Clearly, something has gone wrong.

What’s Next?

One thing I know I won’t do, is give up. Writing is like breathing to me, so I will keep going, even if the muse stays in exile. And I know negative emotions are usually temporary. But any advice or tips from other writers are welcome. I doubt I am the only one to ever go through this!

Do I just need time off from writing? Or should I push myself and hope it will work itself out?  Have any authors out there experienced a sense of disappointment or loss, even after achieving success? How have you worked through it?

 

The Latest Internet Challenge- Unplug!

Have you ever participated in an internet challenge?

Every so often, one goes viral across the internet, such as the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and donations for ALS a few years ago. There have been many others whose purpose was a good cause, such as the 30 day push up challenge for fitness, but some internet challenges are just plain silly or even dangerous, like snorting cinnamon or eating ghost peppers. Or they are just for fun, like staging a video where everyone stands frozen in place like mannequins.

Uh, okay….

Since it seems like we are running out of ideas for worthwhile challenges, I have a suggestion. I successfully executed this particular challenge last weekend, and I highly recommend it. Ready?

I stayed off the internet for an entire weekend.

Renee Regent, Unplugged

I not only survived, I totally enjoyed it. It felt better than I expected, and my stress level decreased dramatically.  So what drove me to do something so drastic as to unplug completely?

First, this has been a crazy (in a good way) year for me personally and professionally. My day job/business enterprises went through significant transformation, and I am still in the process of working all that out. I have been trying to sell my home and move, with all that process entails. I also launched my first novel last month, the first of a 3 book series, so all that goes into an indie produced work was added to my workload (editing, formatting, covers, promotion, etc.) I asked for all of this, so I am not complaining. But where social media might have been an escape of sorts in the past, lately it has become inundated with political views, news, and posts about important causes. I am not giving an opinion on anything in particular, just saying what used to be mostly social has now become nonstop ads, articles and opinions. Since social media is integral to my businesses, and I also use it personally, I am on it for a good portion of each day.

Maybe it was all of this on top of post-election fatigue, but I woke up one morning and I simply did not want to deal. With anything. I had a mile long to-do list but could not bring myself to care about any of it. I am not prone to moodiness or depression, but I had no mental energy left. My husband was worried, because it was unusual for me to be in such a funk. So he suggested we go away for a short weekend trip to the beach (which is unusual for him, because he hates to travel). After much resistance, I gave in, thinking maybe I did need a break. But he had one condition─I must agree to unplug for the entire weekend.

How To Let Go

Normally, I am on my phone/ipad/laptop constantly. The internet is such an integral part of our daily lives, and it is tremendously convenient. So the idea of staying off the internet sounded difficult at best, but here’s how it went:

We had our phones with us, and only checked periodically to see if there were any missed calls or texts. If anything urgent occurred, we could respond. This way, that sense of “I can’t be without my phone, something might go wrong” was eased. We limited our responses only to emergencies, or to let family know we had arrived safely at our destination (pictured below).

We did not check emails, social media, or any apps.

We did use our phones to take photos. This little guy on our hotel balcony eating crackers from our hands was too cute to pass up.

My husband and I actually talked, laughed, ate, drank and walked all over the place. We didn’t have to tell the world what we were doing minute by minute, and that actually felt nice, more private. Like a secret tryst, the experience was ours alone.

By not seeing what the rest of the world was talking/arguing/complaining about, we were able to focus on just us for a few days. By not checking our phone every five minutes, we paid attention to our beautiful surroundings and each other.

The dramatic “I can’t deal” mind-set was replaced with “I can handle it” as time away from everything changed my perspective.

 

Peace of Mind- at Least Temporarily

I came home feeling refreshed and ready to face the challenges of my life again. The lack of stimulus allowed me to focus on us, and what we were doing in the moment. I put aside all thoughts of my to-do list, and the future. Being in the moment was incredibly freeing.

So here’s my challenge to you. Free yourself for a day, or even longer if you can. Whether you go away or spend quiet time at home, the internet will still be there when you are ready to jump back in.  But do yourself a favor, and take a break once in a while. You might be surprised at what you find.

Have you unplugged recently?  How was it?

 

My First Author Interview- I’ve Arrived!

unexplained-banner

I know everyone says you are a “real writer” once you start writing. Being published, winning an award, accumulating reviews, or hitting a special list are all wonderful, but if you haven’t achieved any of those, it does not mean you aren’t a writer.

Still, it was a special, exciting feeling last week to finally be published, and have my book, Unexplained, available for sale (on Amazon now, other retailers to come soon). And today, my first interview as a published author went live, so yes, I feel like I’ve finally made it!

The Interview

Author/Professor/Blogger Julie Tetel Anderson contacted me a few weeks ago, and I was thrilled to be interviewed on her blog.  If you haven’t checked out her website, you should. In addition to interviewing up and coming romance authors, she also explores a variety of subjects on her blog.  Romance, travel, and languages are her passions. She’s written several romance novels and also some non-fiction, and her articles have been featured by such publications as the Chicago Sun-Times and the Huffington Post.

I found her questions thoughtfully posed and professional. Here’s the link to the interview:

http://julietetelandresen.com/blog/five-questions-renee-regent/

 

The Appreciation

I’d like to thank Julie for interviewing me, the timing was a great kick-off to my release schedule for the Higher Elevation Series.  I’d also like to thank all the bloggers, authors and readers who shared posts about my debut, Unexplained.  And a huge thanks to those who took the time to leave a review─I so appreciate it!

Thanks also to Funky Book Designs for my awesome cover; and to Enticing Journeys Book Promotions for the cover reveal and release day blitz.

The Future

I was thrilled to see the reviews have been positive. Unexplained (Higher Elevation Series Book One) is a special story. I’ll be sharing some behind the scenes tidbits of how this story evolved in my upcoming newsletters so if you’d like to sign up, see my website here.

My release schedule continues with the cover reveal for Untouched, Book Two of the Higher Elevation Series on November 14th, 2016.  It will be up for pre-order soon, with a release date of November 22.  Book Three, Undeniable, is scheduled to release January 3rd, 2017, so stay tuned for updates on that one.

So if you haven’t achieved some of your writing career goals yet, keep trying!  If I can do it, so can you.

Cover Reveal, Giveaway, and an Excerpt for Unexplained

It's finally here!

It’s finally here!

There are many milestones in an author’s career, but none as exciting (and nerve wracking) as the debut novel.  I am currently in the throes of that particular experience, and I have to be honest- it’s thrilling and frightening at the same time!

After years of preparation, this turtle is finally approaching the finish line. My debut novel, Unexplained, which is Book One of the Higher Elevation Series, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. The actual release date is October 25th, and I hope to have it available on other retailers shortly thereafter.

Enticing Journey Book Promotions is hosting the blog tour and though it just started, I am pleased with the response so far. We are also doing a give away of a $25.00 Amazon gift card, so be sure to enter.  Here’s a link to the info, along with a book description and an excerpt:

 

#CoverReveal #Unexplained #ParanormalRomance

Check out the #cover for Unexplained (Higher Elevation Series) by Renee Regent, set to release October 25th!  Add this new paranormal romance novel to your #TBR list today, and don’t forget to enter the #giveaway!

==Add to your Goodreads TBR==

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31446579-unexplained

==$25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway==

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/81aa78941061/

==Blurb==

When it comes to love, some things just can’t be explained….

A skeptical reporter who witnesses the unbelievable…

It’s the late 1970’s, and tenacious journalism student Sarah McKenn doesn’t believe the rumors of strange happenings in her small college town of Fort Winston, Colorado. But a supernatural event she experiences while chasing down a story for her school’s newspaper leaves her questioning everything. In her quest for understanding, she meets and falls for Chris, the only man she believes can help her unravel the truth.

A psychology student determined to prove his psychic talents are real…

Christian Levine is on the cusp of a bright future as a research psychologist when he agrees to participate in a secret experiment at the request of his mentor. Though it’s the perfect opportunity to prove his psychic abilities, the project turns deadly when Chris discovers the real motivation of the man in control of it all. Chris is forced to choose between his own freedom or saving the lives of his mentor and Sarah─the woman he loves.

A bond that transcends all boundaries…

The chemistry between Sarah and Chris surprises them—a soul-filling passion and a deep psychic connection neither thought possible. Can they discover what their bond means before their lives are ripped apart?

 

==Sneak Peak at Unexplained==

“Sarah, look at me.”

She did, and her breath caught at the intense look in his eyes. They were indigo in the muted light, and she wanted to believe she saw sincerity there, and heard the echo of it in his voice.

“We only have a limited time on this earth, and nothing is permanent. But it’s all okay, I’ve seen the other side, and I know that even though experiences and relationships come and go, who we are remains the same. So even though you and I may only be physically together for a short while, our souls will be forever connected. Especially since you have the same gift I have. We can see and feel what others only daydream about.”

Whatever she had expected him to say, this wasn’t it. But she knew in her heart, he was right. There was a soul-deep connection between them.  So who made up the rules on soul mates, anyway? Maybe they were not always the one you marry. Maybe they could be fascinating strangers who stirred up your world and then moved on, leaving you broken, but somehow more yourself than you were before they came along.

=Stay Connected with Renee==

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/Renee-Regent-Author-1625365841109181/

Twitter- https://twitter.com/reneeregent

Google Plus- https://plus.google.com/110476204648135749795

Pinterest- http://www.pinterest.com/reneeregent

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/reneeregent/

Website – http://reneeregent.com

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15611048.Renee_Regent

Cover Reveal proudly hosted by #EnticingJourney Book Promotions

 

I am so excited to share my stories with you. Book Two of the Higher Elevation Series is called Untouched, and it will be released November 22, 2016.  Book Three is Undeniable, which will release on January 3rd, 2017.  All books should be available for preorder before the release dates.

So if you are looking for a paranormal romance read that’s a bit different, I hope you’ll check out the Higher Elevation Series.  Thanks for reading!

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Seven Things To Consider Before Submitting Your Writing For Critique

Woman Thinking

Are you nervous about having your writing critiqued?  Welcome to the club.

Just like reading reviews of your work, critiques are one of those things that most writers get nervous about. In my experience, though, critique, both positive and negative, is a powerful tool for improving one’s skills.

A friend who is just starting out recently joined our writer’s group. She was asking about how we approached critiques, and confessed to being a bit nervous about submitting her work. We assured her our goal was to be helpful and considerate at the same time, an approach we have refined over the years. Then a discussion ensued on the differences between helpful and potentially hurtful criticism.

Several of us have been on the receiving end of criticism by our peers which we found less than helpful.  We’ve also had feedback that was inspiring and constructive. My friend asked for more specific advice, so I mentioned my previous blog post on the subject, How To Survive A Negative Critique. Her question called to mind some other things I have learned in the past five years I have been attending my critique group, and I thought it might be helpful to new writers to share some things to consider before they submit their work:

Just Do It. Writing without feedback is writing in a vacuum. Being nervous is normal, but you won’t overcome it unless you put your precious words in front of some eyeballs. When you finally do become published, you will be judged by the entire world, so starting out with a few writers you know is a relatively safe way to begin. You may actually waste more time by writing without ever getting feedback, and end up having much more to correct and edit in the long run.

Start small. Start by submitting something short─a scene you are working on, or a first chapter. First chapters are actually great to start with, since the opening of a story is considered to be the most important part, and also the most difficult thing to do properly. New writers have a tendency to start the story in the wrong place as well, so don’t be surprised if someone points that out. Writing great openings takes practice, and feedback can help you to learn how to do that more efficiently and sooner.

Baby Steps. By starting with something small, you are not facing judgement of the entire project. Learning to take criticism and use it wisely takes practice. Separating your emotions from the feedback takes practice, too, as we tend to identify closely with our work when just starting out. The more you write, your perspective changes and you realize you can always fix what you wrote, or write some more. You will learn over time how to discern which feedback is structural (plot issues, grammar problems, etc) and which is subjective (the person giving the feedback is filtering through their own tastes).

Submit Clean. Always clean up your work before submitting! Go over it multiple times, use a grammar guide, run a spell check. No, it does not have to be perfect, but clean it up to the best of your ability. I’ve had to critique some work where the premise was exciting and interesting, but the grammar, spelling and general writing was so bad that it was difficult to understand what was happening. Some folks think, “I’ll clean it up after they critique so I don’t have to do it twice”.  No. Just don’t do that. It is a disservice to others who are taking the time to provide feedback when there are a billion other things they could be doing. Have courtesy for your readers, even when your work is in a “raw” stage.

-Alpha Readers. If you have cleaned up your work and edited it to the best of your ability, but you feel you still need major help with grammar and structural issues, consider submitting it to only one or two trusted writer friends. Family and non-writer friends may not give you the kind of feedback you need at this stage. They might be overly kind or overly harsh, depending on the relationship, or they may give neutral feedback to avoid saying anything. One or two trusted writer friends may be able to point out what needs to be done to prepare your work sample so you can submit it to a larger group for feedback.

Fair Balance. Be willing to provide feedback to others. Yes, this means taking the time to read their work and give thoughtful feedback. This process provides tremendous insight as to what to look for in your own work, and helps you to realize others are being brave and putting their work out there. Even though it sometimes made me uncomfortable, I submitted my writing to my critique groups and beta readers as often as I could.  I also reviewed the work of others as often as I could. A successful critique group requires this balance. If certain members only review others, and never submit their own work, or keep submitting but never offer critique to others, it can cause discomfort among the group. Besides, those who only do one or the other are missing out on half of the purpose of critiquing─to become a better writer.

Be Specific. When asking for feedback, indicate what you are looking for. If it is just a general impression, say so, but it will help you to consider what you are looking for specifically. Examples might be: Does this opening hook you? Does the dialogue in this scene sound natural? How much work do I need to do to clean up my grammar?  Is there too much backstory?

 

Taking it step by step will help you to build your confidence so that when you do get that first truly negative critique you’ve been fearing, it won’t hurt as much. You’ll be better equipped to take it for what it is worth, and learn from it.

I hope this helps those of you who are new to writing.  I still have a long way to go, and I will soon be facing the next level of critique of my work─the general public. I am sure to learn from that experience as well. Wish me luck!  I wish luck and great learning for all of you.

 

 

Upcoming Series Release- Three Retro Romances With a Supernatural Twist

Couple holding hands rear view against sunrise over mountains

Are you tired of the same old tropes and settings in Romance novels lately?  Do you like a steamy romance that also leaves you wondering about the mystical side of love and life?

If so, you might be interested in my upcoming three-book series, Higher Elevation. The first book, Unexplained, is due to be released this fall (date to be determined). The other two books will be released within the months following, so readers won’t have to wait long to read the whole series if they enjoy the first book.

The Waiting

My strategy with this series was to have all three books complete before releasing the first one, not only to ensure continuity with the characters and their stories, but to make sure they would all be available in a short time frame. Personally, if I enjoy a book, I hate waiting too long for the next installment. It meant reigning in my excitement to finally be a published author, but I am so glad I waited. By taking my time, I was able to “flesh out” the stories, and add layers and references that make the series a cohesive whole.  That said, each book can be read as a standalone (no cliffhangers), but reading them in order will create a richer experience for the reader.

The Genre

So what does this series have to offer?  The official genre is Paranormal Romance, but there are elements of suspense and mystery.  I often use the term “Supernatural” to describe the stories, as my characters are ghosts and psychics, rather than the usual Paranormal creatures (ala shifters, vampires, etc).  Other themes explored are astral travel, remote viewing, soul mates, near death experience, and the afterlife.  I love exploring the unexplained, but don’t worry, it never gets too deep or heavy!  Just enough to make you wonder…

The Time Period

What is also different about the Higher Elevation Series is that it is set in the twentieth century─in the ‘seventies and ‘eighties. If you lived through that period, you may enjoy the nostalgia factor.  There are lots of pop culture references because they affected the lives of my characters.  If you weren’t around then, it might be a way to experience what life was like with less technology, without having to invent a time machine.  (I can’t believe no one has done that yet, by the way….)

The Description

So, here’s my official series blurb:

 

The Higher Elevation Series- True Love Transcends All Boundaries

Three Retro Romances, set in the 1970’s to 1980’s, about the power of love, with a supernatural twist

Fort Winston, Colorado is a small town nestled against the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Maybe it’s the wind that howls down the plains, or the jagged peaks that cast eerie shadows over the land. Whatever the cause, there’s always something going on there that not’s quite right…or easily explained.

Can love alone prevail against strange psychic powers, tortured ghosts and the secrets of the past?

 

Here’s the titles and a short description of the books:

 

Book One, Unexplained

When it comes to love, some things just can’t be explained…

Can a skeptical journalism student and an astral-traveling psychology major investigate their weird psychic connection (and their scorching attraction for each other) before his talents put them both in danger?

 

Book Two, Untouched

Love isn’t always what it seems, when you’re living in the past…

A hippie photographer with a painful past is haunted by a ghost only he can see. When the ghostly girl shows up in his photos, his beautiful but off-limits (because she’s a virgin) friend agrees to help him solve the mystery. Overcoming his past and getting rid of a ghost won’t be half as difficult as resisting his gorgeous read-headed friend, Amanda.

 

Book Three, Undeniable

Time and distance can’t break an undeniable bond…

After eight years apart, can two people rekindle a love that disappeared? It’s going to be tough, for a psychic astral-traveling dude and a lonely single mom who have lost the sexual-psychic connection they once had─or have they?

 

Okay, so there are some common tropes─opposites attract, trying to resist someone you shouldn’t be with, and taking a second chance at love.  But being set in a time when we didn’t exactly have the world at our fingertips makes the quest for love and solving mysteries a bit more difficult.  Plus it was just plain fun to write!

 

Stay tuned for upcoming excerpts, teasers and a cover reveal date.  I am so excited to share my stories and will be posting more information soon.  You can follow this blog by signing up at reneeregent.com, or my old blog at reneeregent.com/worpress.com.

 

I’ll leave you with the first line of Book One, Unexplained:

“There’s nothing in the world that can’t be explained, eventually.”

 

 

Oh, really?