Catch-up and End of Year Wrap-up
What can I say, dear readers, except life has been life-ing, and 2023 has determined to make me examine all the parts of myself as a person, author, and creative business owner in unplanned and uncomfortable ways. But that’s life, innit? The only constant is change, and whether we want to or not, we constantly need to adapt and adjust to it.
Know I’ve missed writing those articles and engaging in ways that feel more productive for my mental health and my relationship with the community. It’s been my favorite project of 2023, and I’m definitely going to continue it in the New Year.
Latest Book Releases and Updates
The Love That Remains, my novella from the Current Anthology, organized by Katrina Jackson and myself, is up for preorder! I knew when I wrote this story for Current that it was only part of the narrative. The little burnt-out author in me nearly published it as is — a vacation novella where a young man fucked away an older woman’s grief. To be honest, that story was fine. But ultimately, I couldn’t do that, and I spent most of November expanding this story to the length Carlotta and Enoch deserved.
Some things about Carlotta & Enoch’s story: The Love That Remains is a story of finding love after loss. Carlotta is a widow, and Enoch was a close but estranged friend of her husband when he died. I’ve had several widow romance ideas over the years, but this one was the first one I chose to tell because it made the husband a central character that both the hero and the heroine were actively grieving four years after his passing. It’s told in Carlotta’s third person point of view, which I haven’t written in for years, but I wanted to
Romances featuring widows finding love later in life can offer a unique and deeply touching narrative. They explore the nuances of loss and grief but also celebrate the enduring spirit of love and the possibility of a second chance at happiness. In my opinion, this sort of backstory sets the stage for a rich emotional journey. Carlotta begins this story enveloped in grief, memories, and maybe even guilt at the thought of moving on. While everyone around her has been very supportive, it’s clear they think she has been mourning for too long or in an unhealthy way. However, grief cycles are intensely personal and often complex experiences that vary widely from person to person. And when you live in a culture that does all it can to create distance between death and grief, it's difficult for people to move on.
The Age Factor: When I decided to focus my energy on writing romances that centered on older Black women, I knew I would need to focus on a more complex life story, with experiences that have shaped their perspectives on love, loss, and resilience. Their approach to a new relationship is likely to be tempered by these experiences, offering a more nuanced and mature perspective. That’s not to say younger characters don’t experience loss or grief, but romances with younger characters typically highlight firsts: first loves, first marriage, first job, first heartbreak, etc. Living longer means a lot of those firsts have already happened. However, it doesn’t mean it’s not a story worth telling.
Themes of Renewal and Hope: The overarching themes of The Love That Remains revolved around renewal, hope, and the resilience of the human heart. I hope it illustrates that even after a significant loss, the heart can find room to love again. I also wanted to write it in a way that intertwines Carlotta and Enoch’s memories of John Paul with the potential for their future happiness.
If any of that sounds like something you’ll enjoy reading, click through image to preorder The Love That Remains.
Grief changes you, and no one is more aware of that inescapable fact than Carlotta Mercier.
It’s been four years since her husband, John Paul, passed, but moving on feels impossible. She feels like a shell of the woman she once was, but what else is there? Better to just lose herself in work. Better to fill her days to the brim so she doesn’t have time to wallow. Never mind that she’s so lonely for his company that she’d rather be alone if she can’t have him. Never mind that she’s so starved for his touch that her dreams of him border on hallucinations. Never mind because her heart will always be broken after losing the soul mate she waited for most of her life to meet. How can anyone move on from that?
Apparently, her husband, John Paul, knew.
In a letter written the year before he passed, Carlotta’s husband, who loved to celebrate his wife and the day they married, guides her through a tenth-anniversary trip he planned before he got sick. A trip that will take her to his hometown of New Orleans, where she will finally get to know the man he was before he left that city. Will this trip down memory lane help Carlotta discover who she is now that he’s gone? Can a young man who idolized her husband introduce her to the woman born from the love that remains?
What I’m writing and what I wrote:
Since this is a combination catch-up and year in wrap-up, I think it’s only fair to state here that I spent a good part of 2023 whining about burnout and trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to write next. At the beginning of the year, I promised myself I would take it easy and only work on projects that needed to be expanded or were close to done — those two projects being Pretty Memories and Time & Tequila. While I made progress on those stories, I never found the wherewithal to finish them. I still plan to…eventually. But one of the many things burnout has taught me is that I’m not just burnt; I’m bored.
Contemporary romance wasn’t really what I aimed to write when I first started writing. If you’ve read any of my free stories work, you probably already know that. While I’ve found some joy for a time in writing them, I’m ready to switch it up a bit. I’m not saying I’m never writing another contemporary, but The Love That Remains might be my last straight-up contemporary romance for a while. I’m currently working on a Southern Gothic and a paranormal cozy romance I’m very excited about. I’m not quite ready to talk about them yet but know that I'm writing!
Now for the tally…
I have written a good amount of words this year, but blog posts and non-fiction far outweighed fiction, coming in at 101,953 words across this blog and the Wordmakers Writing Community. I wrote 7 days a week with an average of about 5.5K a day. That’s an average, not the actual word count. Some days, it’s zero, and others, I meet that average. Anyway… who’s surprised by this? Not me! I already know that when I struggle with writing fiction, I switch over to writing about writing. It’s how my brain rests. That probably doesn’t make sense to y’all, but it does to me.
On the fiction front, I have written 77,063 across four projects, with a majority of them in Time & Tequila. That was really distressing to see because there is so much that I love about Time & Tequila. I hate that it’s not done yet. Anyway, on the fiction side, I wrote 3 days a week and averaged about 3k words a day, but I published zero fiction this year. That’s absolutely wild. I haven’t gone an entire year without publishing since I finished The Truth of Things in 2017. I’m working really hard to tell myself this is not a good or bad thing, it’s just a thing that happened, so let’s move on.
So that brings my grand total of words written to 179,016. Drastically less than my 378,000 from last year, which, let’s be honest, was just nuts. No one can keep up that kind of productivity. Or maybe somebody can, but I’m not that somebody. I haven’t decided if I’m going to do a Publishing Goals post for 2024. I don’t know if that’s good for me at this stage of burnout recovery. Either way, if I post one, y’all will be the first to know!
Top 5 Most Popular Blog Posts:
This trope is a honeypot as far as I’m concerned. While some enjoy more extreme activities such as bondage or heavy-impact play, others prefer a gentler approach that falls somewhere in the space between. Gentle femdom is a flavor of kinky power play where the focus is on pleasure and connection rather than pain, sometimes with a little humiliation thrown in for spice. It’s about embracing the intense feelings that come with the trust of being vulnerable with someone they care for deeply.
This kinky trope is fairly common and super popular lately.
It probably has something to do with late-stage capitalism and all of us being overworked, but I digress.
Writing believable and realistic characters, along with creating authentic relationships between them, is the stuff that good stories are made of.
There's something so intriguing about the enemies-to-lovers romance trope. It starts with two characters who just can't stand each other, but as the story progresses, they find themselves falling in love. It's a complex and satisfying journey that leaves readers swooning. So, in this blog post, I wanted to provide you with some writing prompts. If you're a romance writer, this post is for you!
If you need some steamy inspiration for your next BDSM romance scene, look no further than this list of 6 prompts to spark your creativity!
Best Selling Book:
Still, If She Says Yes, Say Yes Duet. So basically, my informal survey says that y’all are filthy, and I love that!
Speaking of Darcy and Tommy…
Events and Appearances:
In conjunction with the Audio in Color Grant, I will also be attending Book Bonanza next year. Super nervicited about attending this big signing, so if you’re going, make sure you look for me.
I’m also going to One Love Reunion. We’re gonna be in Nashville this year. Definitely get your tickets if you wanna see ya girl, and most importantly, if you wanna link up with a bunch of Wordmakers! They're running a discount for Early Bird Registration so get in where you fit in!
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Wow, this is a very long catchup post, but I guess that’s what happens when you don’t update your site for three months and have the nerve to live a life! Either way, happiest of holidays, and see you in the new year!