Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Goals: 2018

It's that time of year again! GOALS TIME! I actually really look forward to this every year. I love setting goals. It gives me direction and keeps me accountable. So, without further ado, here are my 2018 goals...


2017 was a rough year for me, and along the way, I lost my love for writing. I had lots of ideas, but when it came time to put my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard, I blanked. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the words out. Needless to say, it's been frustrating. So, I'm going to continue to take my time. I'm not going to push myself to write or get upset with myself if a day (or twelve) goes by that I don't write. And I'm going to focus on just the writing for a while. Basically, I'm going to write what I want to write--the market be damned! Then, eventually, I'll see what I have and jump back into the publishing pool.

1. Finish Eternally Cursed, which is the first book in a YA paranormal romance series.

2. Write the sequel to Eternally Cursed.

3. Write Meet Me at The Mistletoe, a sweet Christmas romance novella for the Christian market.

4. Finish Deception, which is the first book in a new Christian romantic suspense series.

5. Take an inventory of all my half-started YA projects and see if any of them are worth salvaging.

6. Query something! Probably my paranormal romance because it's the only thing I have that's close to finished.


Yup, this is on my goal's list. Again. I should just accept that this is a permanent fixture on this list. LOL. I actually have a few blog posts written and ready to go that I plan to release soon. I'll be talking books, writing, and sharing every step of my journey to finding a new agent.


I'd like to read 2-3 books per month--my TBR pile is monstrous--but I'll be happy with a conservative 1 book per month. Like I did last year, I'll keep a list of what I read and share it at the end of the year.


I'm going to start going to the gym again, at least twice per week. Not because I want to lose weight--although it certainly couldn't hurt!--but because when I exercise regularly, I have more energy and I'm much more productive. It really does get the creative juices flowing.


This is my mindset for 2018. When things seem like they can't get any worse, I will find something positive to focus on. Even amidst rejections and bad reviews, there is always something positive to take away from it. This year, I will become a master at finding the good and sharing it!

What are you goals for this year? 
Share in the comments, or post a link to your own goals post!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Looking back on 2017...

It's been a real "Hold my beer and watch this" kind of year, hasn't it? Between politics and publishing, I'm exhausted! And quite honestly, I'm glad to see 2017 go. But, before it does, it's once again time to look back on the year and see what I accomplished, what I didn't, and what big changes I faced in 2017.

My 2017 Goals Included:

1. Propose and potentially write a fourth book for a contracted series. 


My Thoughts: I wrote a proposal, and it was rejected. My editor felt it was too dark in comparison to the rest of the series. In hindsight, she's right. (She always seems to be right. LOL.) Also, for various reasons, the third book will not be published, so it seems silly to write a spin-off. 

2. Finish Savage Passion (Midnight Rebels, Book 1) and allow my agent to start sending it out on submission. Also, outline the entire Midnight Rebels Series--which, right now, is looking like it could be 7 or 8 books total.


My Thoughts: Because I am no longer writing adult secular romance, and because I've parted with my agent, this project has been officially shelved. Maybe I'll revisit it in the future. 

3. Complete the R&R for The Georgia Corbins.


My Thoughts: I had very good intentions with this one. I love this story so much, and I want it back out in the world. And I am not giving up on this series. But, for the time being, it's not at the top of my priority list, mostly because I don't know what to do with it. Rewrite and resubmit? Self-publish? Query it again? I'm not sure yet. 

4. Finish Hallowed Ground (Graves Barren, Book 1), my YA Gothic romance, and send to agents.


My Thoughts: I have been working on this book a lot lately. It has undergone a title and genre change. It's now called Eternally Cursed (working title) and it's a YA paranormal romance. I'm 15k away from it being finished and ready for beta readers. I am so in love with this book and these characters! 

5. Blog


My Thoughts: I've been doing more blogging over on the Anaiah Press Blog, but this blog has been all but ignored. 

6. Read more books for pleasure.

Status: GOAL MET!

My Thoughts: While I didn't read as much as I wanted to, I read a lot more books this year than I did the past couple of years. Here's what I read:

Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Running Home by Katie O'Connor
Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmore
The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer 
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
Fire in You by J. Lynn
Fall With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Forever With You by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Frigid by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
We Can Be Mended by Veronica Roth
The Vampire Diaries (The Awakening) by LJ Smith
The Vampire Diaries (The Struggle) by LJ Smith
The Vampire Diaries (The Fury) by LJ Smith
The Vampire Diaries (Dark Reunion) by LJ Smith

Out of 6 goals, I fully achieved one and kinda achieved two. Those aren't very good numbers, huh? So, at this point, you're probably wondering: What the heck did you do all year, Kara? I'm glad you asked. I did a LOT! Honestly! Take a look...


  • I've written a total of 313,522 words on various personal projects this past year. 
  • I edited 2 fantastic manuscript for freelance clients; one of whom went on to sign with her dream agent.
  • I've edited a total of 7 manuscripts for Anaiah Press, and acquired a whole heck of a lot more.
  • My alter-ego edited, released, and promoted two books. 
  • I co-wrote and queried a contemporary YA that deals with mental health and suicide.
  • I started a new Christian romantic suspense series. The first book is titled Deception, and it deals with a cult. 
  • I participated in a couple Twitter pitch events for some co-authored YA books, and even got a few requests!
  • I learned how to use Canva to make book teasers.
  • I made some big decisions about my writing career. 
  • I learned a lot about myself as a writer and editor--what I can and want to do, what my limits are, and most importantly, that the world isn't going to stop spinning if I don't do all the things all the time. 

  • I went to NY to visit my parents and my daughter.
  • I went to Moline, IL to see Twenty One Pilots in concert for my daughter's 13th birthday. It was her first concert and was such a wonderful experience!
  • My eldest daughter moved back in with me after having lived with her father for the past few years.
  • My eldest daughter graduated from high school!
  • My son graduated from 8th grade and started high school. 
  • My daughter skipped 7th grade and went into 8th--She's doing wonderful, too! 
  • I saw a live Burlesque show!
  • I have finally learned the importance of self-care. 

Even though I didn't meet many of my original goals, I still accomplished a lot. I'll consider it a mildly good year, all things considered.

What did you get done this past year? 
Share your success in the comments!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A (minor) Revelation and a FREE Book!

As you can see, I've reverted to the old blog layout and branding. You're probably wondering why. Well, I'm glad you asked :-)

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been doing more thinking and soul-searching and looking at all my half-started projects, and I've realized something important -- All of my books have romance in them! Regardless of which age category I choose to write in, all of my stories have some sort of love in them. Whether it's love of ones self or friendship or family or significant other, love is a common theme, and I don't want that to change. While I still have no intentions of writing in the adult secular romance genre, (adult Christian romance is still undecided) my young adult books will always have some element of romance. And as my blog header says, "At the heart of every story, love waits." That's still true!

All right, now for the BIG announcement....


That's right! For the first time ever, you can get Dangerous Love for absolutely FREE!

He’s fighting to forget his past while she struggles to remember hers…

Doctor Josh Parker lives with guilt about his wife’s death every day. He believes himself incapable of ever loving again, but when a mysterious woman arrives in the Emergency Room, brutally beaten and left for dead, he starts to feel something he hasn’t felt in far too long: hope.

Alessandra Matthews has no memory of the events that led to her being hospitalized. Worse, she has no idea who hurt her or why. Although she’s uncertain of who she is, she is fully aware of one thing—she’s falling for her doctor.

Sometimes, what you don’t know can kill you… 

As Josh and Alessa work to solve the mystery surrounding her past, she soon realizes just how much danger she’s really in, but Josh refuses to let her face the darkness of her memories alone. With each of them struggling to put their pasts behind them, theirs is a DANGEROUS LOVE.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Gratitude, Good News, and Going in a New Direction

It's been an interesting few weeks, to say the least. The response to my last blog post has been overwhelming! The outpouring of support has blown my mind--I've had so many people reach out to me to encourage me not to give up (which, for the record, I'm not!) and share their own stories with me. And it was all of these heartfelt messages that reminded me why I love the writing community so much. From the very bottom of my heart...

A year or so ago, I co-wrote a YA thriller that we pitched as LOST meets AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. We've been querying it on-and-off. Two days after my last blog post, two days after I made the decision to focus on writing YA, we got a partial request from an agent! I know. It's not an offer--not even close--and it ultimately ended in a very encouraging rejection, but you know what? It was the sign I needed that I'd made the right decision and that I'm on the right path. So, I'm counting this as a win.

About four years ago, I started a YA. Throughout the years, I worked on it here and there, but it was never my priority. Why? Because it was something just for me--a stress-free fun project I never had any intentions of sharing with anyone. I guess you could call it fan-fiction. (Any guesses on what book I love enough to write fan-fic?!?!) Over the years, the story has morphed into something different and unique, and it would be a stretch to call it fan-fic now.

Recently, I opened the doc and read it. And to my surprise, it was GOOD! And so I began to write a bit more of it--purely for fun. I'm both a bit shocked and super thrilled to say I'm enjoying it. A lot. Writing this doesn't feel like a chore or work--it's FUN! Right now, my plan is to stick with it until I run out of steam, but I have no plans or expectations for it.

In addition to focusing on YA instead of romance, I'm doing some other new things...

1.) As you can see, I'm in the process of re-branding my website / blog to fit with my new direction. I know, it looks pretty bland right now--it's still a work in progress. I hope to have it all sparkly and new by the end of the year.

2.) I'm going to blog more. Now, before you laugh and remind me that I say this every single year, hear me out... I've been reading a lot more, and I've decided I'm going to blog about the books I'm reading. I'm also going to blog about my journey to finding a new agent and (hopefully) a new publishing deal.

3.) I'm toying with pen names. Should I wipe the slate clean and use a new one? Should I just write as Kara? Should I use my legal name? Which, by the way, is not very publishing friendly. What do you think?

Well,there you have it. I hope y'all will stick around during this new journey--I'm sure it's going to be a wild ride!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Getting Up When All You Want To Do Is Stay Down

As I sit here staring at this page, I have no idea where to even begin.... I suppose I should start by saying I never dreamed I'd ever have to write a post like this. And I pray no other author will ever have to go through what I'm about to explain, but sadly, I know how unrealistic that is. My hope is that this post will help someone in someway. So, here goes...

I have a super secret pen name--although, it's not that big of a secret. If you dig hard enough, you'll figure it out. In 2015, under this pen name, my agent got me a three-book deal. I'm sure you can imagine my excitement. Shortly after, I began working with my editor to get the book publication ready, and let me tell you: the edits were intense! But I enjoyed the process. I had fun reshaping the book and spending time with my characters. Months of hard work were about to pay off.


Or so I thought.

The book went up on NetGalley to garner some pre-release reviews. IT. BOMBED! I had two dozen one and two star reviews. It was horrible. I questioned every word I wrote. I doubted myself as a writer, big time! I wanted to quit. (Thank God for awesome writer friends who talked me off that ledge.) Together with my editor and publisher, we decided to pull the book from the release schedule and rewrite it. I spent 6 weeks rewriting the book from the ground up. Literally the only thing that stayed the same was the characters and the setting. Everything else changed.

It was once again release time. I held my breath every time I'd visit Amazon or Goodreads. To my relief, the reviews were GOOD! I began to regain a bit of my writerly confidence. My editor and I moved on to work on book two, which as the time of writing this post, hasn't released yet. I will say that the reviews are mixed--equally good and bad.

During all of this, I had pitched my editor FOUR different projects. Every single one of them was rejected!


Granted, a couple of them were books I'd written earlier in my career and aren't as strong as my current stuff. And some of them simply didn't have enough romance for this specific publisher--I knew that was a risk when I submitted. Still, every rejection stings.

Fast forward to my first royalty payment. Exciting, right?


I won't get into specific figures and amounts, but let's say I made way less than $100. For more than a YEAR of my time and effort to write and rewrite this book. If we say it was simply one year--12 months and I had earned an even $100--that means I earned $8.33 per month while writing this book. Let that sink in for a minute...

Still with me? Good. Today, October 10, 2017, six days before my second book is set to release, I get the devastating news that my publisher has decided NOT to publish the third book in my series, which, by the way, has already been written. Why? Because of poor reviews and low sales.

I work in publishing, so I get it. I do. This is a business, and they need to make smart business decisions--decisions that are in the best interest of their company and its bottom line. But for me, IT SUCKS! On so many levels.

My agent, who has been by my side through all of this, consoled me. Encouraged me. (Although, let's be honest, nothing anyone says is going to make me feel better right now. I need to wallow in this for a bit before I can get past it.) She also gave me a hard dose of reality. Because of my low sales and poor reviews and cancellation of my third book, the chances she'll be able to sell anything new under this pen name to another publisher is slim. What publisher would want to take a risk on an author with such a bad track record? Again, this would be a business decision for any publisher--I get that, and I'm not trying to place the blame on anyone. It just is what it is.

But what does this mean for my alter-ego? She's done. Finished. I will never write another book under this name. (Unless I want to self-publish, which I don't want to do. But more on that below.) On the surface, that probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but when I step back and look at the fact that I've spent the last THREE YEARS building this persona... I feel like I've wasted all of that time. I feel like I could've been doing something else, something more productive, something with a higher pay-off.

I have officially hit rock bottom. I'm numb. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm confused. I feel like a complete failure. And now, more than ever, I want to delete every trace of social media, set my laptop on fire, crawl into a deep hole and hide forever.


You're probably wondering why I chose to share this long, depressing, embarrassing story of failure with the world. Well, because there aren't enough of these types of stories out there. Day after day after day we hear about six-figure deals, movie options, awards, best sellers lists.... And day after day after day, we wonder, why not me?

It can be hard to see all those success stories while you're struggling every day to open your WIP or write a single word or send a single query. I want you to know:


If you take nothing else away from this blog post, please take that. You are not alone. I'm struggling, too, and I'd bet there are dozens if not hundreds of other authors out there who're questioning if they should keep going. And you know what?


It's okay to feel unsure, to wonder if you're cut out for this business, to question the things you write. Don't get angry for doubting yourself. Embrace those feelings. Because it's not the feelings that are bad--It's what you choose to do with them that makes the difference. You can let them beat you down, or you can use them as fuel to come back swinging.

I honestly don't know where to go from here. But I do know I'm re-evaluating everything about my writing career, right down to what genre and age category I want to write from this point forward. I have made a few decisions, though...

  1. I will no longer be writing adult romance, as Kara or as anyone else. As a result of this decision, I have split with my agent. She reps romance, and if I'm not writing romance... You get the point. I have no ill feelings toward my now former agent. I wish her and the agency all the best.
  2. Above all else, I'm going to take some time for me. I'm taking the rest of the year off from writing. I'm going to start going back to the gym. I'm going to finally make a dent in my TBR pile. I'm going to enjoy the upcoming holidays with my family without looming deadlines or guilt for not writing any words on a given day. 
  3. When I do come back to writing--and I will--I'm planning to focus on YA. I've written quite a few young adult stories, and I have ideas for a lot more, and it's about time I did something with all of them. 

As a very close friend said to me recently: "We can't have talent and passion and get no where with it. I refuse to believe that."

I refuse to believe that, too! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year's Goals: 2017

It's that time of year again! GOALS TIME! I actually really look forward to this every year. I love setting goals. It gives me direction and keeps me accountable. But, I have a bad habit of going overboard. A close, trusted friend recently told me I needed to scale back a little and stop trying to do "All The Things All The Time." I'm going to take his advice this year and set fewer goals, and if I achieve more than what I list, great! And if I don't, that's okay, too. So, without further ado, here are my 2017 goals...


1. If my editor likes my book proposal and decides to contract it, then I'll be writing Deceiving Devon (working title, subject to change), which is a spin-off to the Collins Brothers Series.

2. Finish Savage Passion (Midnight Rebels, Book 1) and allow my agent to start sending it out on submission.

3. Outline the entire Midnight Rebels Series--which, right now, is looking like it could be 7 or 8 books total.

4. Complete the R&R for The Georgia Corbins.

5. Finish Hallowed Ground (Graves Barren, Book 1), my YA Gothic romance, and send to agents or possibly my editor at Entangled.


Yup, this is on my goal's list. Again. But I won't be blogging here. I'll be blogging once or twice a week / month over on the Anaiah Press blog, where I'll share writing, editing, querying, and publishing advice. So be sure to head on over and follow along.


Because of my busy writing and editing schedule, reading for pleasure usually falls to the wayside. I did better with this goal in 2016, and I'd like to keep it up in 2017. But this year, I'm going to keep track of what I read and share it with everyone at the end of the year so I can shout about my favorites!

What are your goals for 2017? Share in the comments or link to your goals list :-) 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Looking Back on 2016....

As 2016 comes to an end and the world prepares to welcome 2017, it's once again time to look back on the year and see what I accomplished, what I didn't, and what big changes I faced in 2016. To read my full 2016 goals post, click HERE!

My 2016 Goals Included:

1. Finish writing books 2 and 3 of The Hayden Falls Saga 


My thoughts: When I set this goal, I knew it was a long shot. Not because I couldn't write them, but because this series was / is low on my priority list. The contract for book 1 will be expiring very soon, so for the time being. this series is on hold until I decide whether I want to renew the current contract or ask for rights back and find it a new home.

2. Finish writing book 3 of The Georgia Corbins


My thoughts: Originally, I was planning to self-publish the entire series this year, but then an opportunity presented itself, and I submitted book one to a publisher I would love to work with. While the editor loved the characters and the overall story idea, she felt the writing and execution still needed some work and offered me an R&R (revise and resubmit). So, while I didn't meet the goal I set, I'm counting this as a win. I have her notes and I will be working on this in the new year.

3. Finish writing Savage Passion and send it to my agent.


My thoughts: I have a notebook full of ideas for this new book/series, but other things have kept me from diving in (see below), but I'm really excited to jump into this new world.

4. Finish Warped Remains--A YA thriller I co-wrote with David Jemal.

Status: GOAL MET!

My thoughts: We finished the book and started sending it out. We currently have an R&R from an awesome publisher. We're days away from finishing the revision and will be sending it back to the editor in early January!

5. Finish Hallowed Ground (Graves Barren, Book 1)--A YA paranormal romance


My thoughts: The book isn't 100% finished, but I'm a lot closer than I was last year at this time. I'm now at 70K of an estimated 90K. I also managed to work through some road blocks, plot holes, and outline the ending.

6. Finish Eternally Bound--an adult paranormal romance


My thoughts: I'm admittedly bummed I didn't get this one finished. I've heard paranormal is set to make a comeback, and I really wanted to get this one done and sent out. *sigh* Maybe next year.

7. Finish The First Snowfall--an erotic thriller.


My thoughts: I'm on the fence with this book. I'm not sure my heart is into it, so I think for the time being, I'm going to shelve it.

8. Finish Resistance, the sequel to Inferno that I co-wrote with David Jemal.


My thoughts: This series is currently in limbo, so until we get it worked out, I won't be working on it.

9. Get creative and come up with some new adult book ideas.


My thoughts: As I mentioned in my 2016 Goals post, my agent signed me for adult books, and all of my ideas as of late seem to be young adult. I'd like to say I've come up with a whole list of new ideas, but I haven't. At least, not any that aren't YA. lol. BUT, I do have a new romantic suspense series I'm planning to write, and possibly some more NA books (which my agent does rep. YAY!)

10. Beg people to like me-- This included doing more daily promo and meeting other writers in-person.

Status: GOAL MET!

My thoughts: I started a newsletter and am steadily building my list of subscribers. I created and am in the process of launching a new pen name (Lexi Lawton). I met a group of local writers via NaNoWriMo and we'll be organizing a writing/critique group in early 2017.

11. Keep on blogging.


My thoughts: I completely dropped the ball on this one. I have no excuses.

Out of 11 goals, I fully achieved two and kinda achieved two. Those aren't very good numbers, huh. So, at this point, you're probably wondering: What the heck did you do all year, Kara? I'm glad you asked. I did a LOT! Honestly! Take a look...

  • I've written a total of 382,282 words on my personal projects this past year. 
  • I've edited a total of 6 manuscripts for freelance clients.
  • I've edited a total of 7 manuscripts for Anaiah Press.
  • My New Adult contemporary romance, Tempting Tanner, sold to Entangled Publishing in a three-book deal. It's the Collins Brothers Series and will be releasing throughout 2017. I've spent months editing, rewriting, and editing some more. 
  • I wrote the Collins Brothers Book 2--Chasing Xander.
  • I wrote a large chunk of the Collins Brothers Book 3--Resisting Ryder.
  • I wrote a big chunk of Hallowed Ground (Graves Barren, Book 1).
  • I wrote 25k of a brand new New Adult romance that's pushing the boundaries in some fun ways.
  • I co-mentored not one but TWO authors for PitchWars. And I'm beyond thrilled to say they are both now agented. 
  • I started a new young adult romance. 
  • I won NaNoWriMo!!
  • I outlined a book proposal for a spin-off to my Collins Brothers Series.
  • Jody Holford and I released Jaded Love
  • I visited Washington, DC with my daughter and her 5th grade class. 
  • I made several trips back to NY to visit my parents and my two older daughters.
  • My parents visited Michigan for the first time ever, and I had a blast showing them around. 

Even though I didn't meet many of my original goals, I still accomplished a lot. The sale of my series changed my focus, and that's okay. In my mind, 2016 was an overall win!

What did you get done this past year?