Contemporary Romance · Erotic Fiction · Laurie's Works Of Fiction · Musings · Parenthood · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

What My Daughter Has Taught Me About Being A Brave Writer

Every writer doubts themselves. But what happens when the doubts, fears, and insecurities muffle their creativity? One day they’re writing up a storm, celebrating goals, then the next…FROZEN.

I’ve most recently experienced the dreaded FROZEN feeling most writers hope to avoid. I went through a swirl of emotions trying to understand the path I was taking and was petrified for one reason or another I was doing all the wrong things. It was quite nerve-wracking going through all of those doubts, fears, and insecurities. But the inspiration to continue came from the most unexpected place, imaginable:   The playground.

I love listening to the weird things my daughter and some of her friends say. One day, after sports practice, my daughter zoomed down the slide, climbed the highest ladder, then made her way down to the swings. There were two girls, about three years older than her, in princess costumes, swinging on their bellies singing “I Knew You Were Trouble,” by Taylor Swift.

“Mommy, I want to go on the swings,” she whispered, so the girls wouldn’t hear.

“Well then, you’ll have to go over there and ask to have a turn,” I said. She looked frightfully doubtful and I felt like a complete ass, but I knew this was good for her. Pressing past her doubts and asking for what she wanted, bravely. I told her to go for it.

“What if they say no? They’re older than me,” she asked. Her little lips were pressed together in a straight line, seriously mulling it over.

“It’s okay if they say no. You go play on the slide, then when they leave, you get a turn. Either ask or wait,” I said. I watched, proudly, a few moments later, as she approached the girls. She is MY daughter, after all – we’re not known for our patience, but we sure as hell have courage.

Just then, the frilly princess/diva girls had began singing “Let it go”…and making loud flatulence noises. It was then I knew everything would be okay. I bit back my laughter because it was disgusting, but … cute. I was unsuccessful at holding in my amusement. Low and uncontrollable laughter bubbled up and escaped my lips. What I thought was expendable joy warmed the soul, from the tips of my toes to the ends of time, the irony washed over me with refreshing humor.  Seeing an uncharacteristic change from the gloominess I’d been reflecting that day, my husband asked what was going on as he sat down beside me on the bench, hauling our daughter’s sports equipment.

“Oh, you know. Girls will be girls,” I gave him a wide smile, snorted in laughter, and nodded my head over to the swings. He grinned. Our daughter had gotten her turn on the swing, and her anxiety and doubt had diminished as she giggled about the song with the girls.

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In all their innocent fun, my daughter and those girls reminded me of a few things that day, I’d lost sight of in my anxiety:

Fear only has as much control as we give it.

Doubt keeps us from enjoying the journey.

Situations and people aren’t always what or who they seem to be.

Just because a person has more experience, doesn’t mean they’ll instantly reject ideas from someone new to their circle.

It’s wise to seek and ‘hang out’ with those who are genuinely interested in seeing you succeed and don’t mind sharing the spotlight with you. Otherwise, it’s not worth the energy to worry over any type of rejection or resentment from them-openly or in private.

Joy comes from venturing out into the unknown, making yourself a little uncomfortable, even at the cost of being rejected.

Here’s the most important lesson I took from the playground that day:

DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT AND GO FOR IT.

So, that’s what I’m doing.

At this time in my life, I have to consolidate my social media presence to the point of what works for me. I’m not writing this post to give an explanation to anyone about my actions, but I have a feeling many writers juggling several things have been in the same boat as me, if they are completely honest with themselves. I wonder how many writers have several genres and brands they are managing for the sake of compartmentalizing their creativity. I also am curious as to how they don’t drive themselves mad with distractions, spreading out their online presence in so many directions. There are no lack in resources on how to simplify the management online presence. What I’ve had to consider is the elephant in the room: using the information and resources I’ve researched in these areas to find what works best for me. I think I’m doing a fair job by letting this blog be a central point for all writing projects.

I’ve realized, over the past several months and with my writing interactions on a business level, the main person I owe anything to is myself. Being true to who I am. And I refuse to be one-dimensional. I’ve fought the battle of doubt, and thankfully I lost that day, on the playground. Unconventionality is a true joy in life, not many have the opportunity or guts to express.

I haven’t openly announced that I’ve written, published, and received several five star reviews on my newest erotic fiction book until now (thank you to those who left the thoughtful and beautiful reviews. I’m humbled by your support and thrilled you liked my story. – Uhm. Yeah. This is one of those uncomfortable moments when I brag a little. Swear I’m not a constant braggart. But, damn it, it’s encouraging to know people enjoyed my writing.) Despite the positive responses from those around me, doubt has kept me from it.

I thought I had to choose. Be a Mom and write sweet romance or be a saucy minx Mom keeping a double presence (to a certain extent a ‘double presence’ is necessary, being that a children’s book project SHOULD be kept separate from fictional romance because they are two polar opposite concepts. That is why the children’s book project I’m working on has a completely separate pen name.)

I’m the same, no matter what name I write under. The material may be different, but I am me. Period. I have always been the type of person to strive to be transparent, even online. It’s not much work, honestly, just being me. But it’s more efficient to post any writing announcements or news here and also on my author website.

FEAR ONLY HAS AS MUCH CONTROL AS WE GIVE IT.

This is me taking that fear away. I write sweet and steamy romance under the name Laurie Kozlowski.

Most recently, since my daughter has told me she wanted to be an author, I’ve began writing a children’s book with her to help support her dreams. I hope to give some of the proceeds to a children’s charity as the project grows, over time.

I also write erotic fiction under the pen name of Roxie Nash.

I write what I want to write, regardless of who’s on the playground. If someone doesn’t like it, I have a princess crown I put on especially for those occasions and can make the loudest mock-flatulence noises known to humanity, pointed in the direction of the naysayers. Because my daughter loves that crap (the disgusting flatulence noises.) And though she’s not quite tall enough for the monkey bars and I often lift her up, she’ll always be my Shero. ❤

Author Interviews · Erotic Fiction · Giveaways · Guest Posts · Romantic Suspense · Uncategorized · Writing

Gift Card Drawing and Interview With Author MJ Flournoy – Inside Her Erotic Romantic Suspense Novel ‘A Matter of Trust’

Please join me in welcoming MJ Flournoy, author of steamy, emotional, suspenseful and gripping erotic romance. It’s my pleasure to share with you more about this wonderful author and her great novel, A Matter of Trust. We’ll also be giving away an Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter, so read on!

Laurie: Welcome, MJ! I’m thrilled to have you on the blog today to share more about who you are and why you write.

MJ: Laurie, thanks so much for having me today. As you know, I write romantic suspense for ARES, which is an imprint of Renaissance Ebooks. I write because I love being in charge of the outcome of my plots. I enjoy making things happen, then figuring out how to undo what I’ve done to my characters. My days are spent as a special education teacher, but my evenings are all about writing romantic suspense.

Laurie: What a great and enjoyable way to unwind after a work day 🙂 What activities/hobbies do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

MJ: Reading is one of my very favorite things. I also enjoy travel – I’ve been to Europe three times and hope to go again soon. I adore the beach, being near the ocean inspires me to write. I also love to cook, trying new recipes is a passion.

Laurie: Oh, it will be nice as summer is approaching to enjoy some beach time. Best wishes on travels to Europe, how exciting! Your elegant blog – http://authormjflournoy.wordpress.com/about/ – brings to light your love of travel. Of all your travels, what place do you favor most and why?

MJ: I simply adore Italy and the Greek Isles. I’m a history geek and never tire of seeing all the historical sites. My favorite place however, isn’t a city, it’s a ship. I love MSC Musica. What better way to travel than to have your elegant hotel sail from one romantic city to another? Musica is a member of MSC Cruise Line’s fleet. While it isn’t the largest, it won my heart with its wonderful crew. Cruising is my passion!

Laurie: How lovely! A very beautiful way to travel, for sure. I’m all about the romance, as you can tell 🙂 Please tell us about your book – A Matter Of Trust. What type of story is it and what makes it unique?

MJ: A Matter of Trust is a romantic suspense/thriller with paranormal elements. The unique thing about it is the plot idea came to me when I heard about a teacher who encountered a child and felt something just “wasn’t right,” her concern and the fact that she acted on her intuition saved the life of a kidnapped child. With that story, Jolie Wyngate sprang fully formed into my mind and along with her, the Maniac who is the voice in Jolie’s head.

Laurie: Wow. Absolutely amazing. I’m sure your mind went into overdrive to create this terrific story. That is what captured my attention the most as I read this book – the unique plot and characters. What was the most challenging part of writing this story and why?

MJ: The most challenging thing about this book was the Maniac’s dialogue. I had to retype it from all caps, to Italics, to regular type and back to Italics. Everyone who read the manuscript, including the final editor had a different idea of how it should be done.

Laurie: Yes. I remember you previously mentioning the Maniac was the voice inside Jolie’s head. I can see where it would be quite challenging to differentiate the dialogue between the two, but I think you pulled it off nicely.
What is your goal as a writer, concerning how people perceive and receive your work?

MJ: The most important thing for me is to be entertaining and offer escape. I read for escape and I hope that my readers will enjoy the adventures and obstacles I throw at my characters.

Laurie: I agree. There’s nothing better than escaping into a great book. Your book is very much an escape as Jolie is thrown into obstacles during her adventure.
Who and/or what are your main influences in pursing writing and why?

MJ: My favorite book is Shanna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss. When I finished reading it, I sighed and whispered, “This is what I want to do.” It took me a long time and several false starts, but I finally achieved that goal.

Laurie: A very great accomplishment, indeed, to finish writing a great book. I’m sure there are many readers who will read your book and be inspired, also. Are there any other memorable books that are your all-time favorites?

MJ: As I mentioned above, Shanna is my all-time favorite. I also enjoy reading romantic suspense by many of my friends who are members of Kiss of Death.

Laurie: For readers and writers not familiar with Kiss of Death, it is a chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America), specifically centering on romantic suspense. To visit their “place on the web for murderously inclined romantics,” here’s the link to their site: http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org/index.php
Do you have any favorite quotes? If so, please share!

MJ: “If it is to be, it’s up to me,” is my motto and my favorite quote is “I don’t give them hell, I tell the truth and they think it’s hell”—Harry S. Truman

Laurie: A great motto and quote. Are there any current projects or interests that you’d like to mention or include before we leave everyone to ogle over the excellent cover to your book and hopefully indulge in Jolie’s and Mac’s romantic suspense adventure?

MJ: I’m currently working on the second book in the NVC series (A Matter of Trust was book 1). This book finds Jolie and Mac working for New Ventures Consulting and has a big surprise in store for the Maniac.

My other Work in progress is tentatively titled, the Serpentine Thread and has an Autistic Savant, a special education teacher, and a former SEAL turned FBI agent working undercover to infiltrate a homegrown terrorist cell. (I am retiring this year after a twenty year career as a special education teacher and I look forward to having much more free time for writing!)

Laurie: Oh, wow! I’ll certainly be looking forward to seeing what big surprise you have in store in the continuance of this series. Once again, you’ve left me intensely curious about your unique works in progress. Early congrats on your retirement. What a great and meaningful accomplishment, as I’m sure you’ve played a great role in molding many young minds. I look forward to reading more of your stories!

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND BUY ON AMAZON

Her paranormal abilities had always caused her grief. But can they save the life of a child who has been spirited away fro her parents and the life of the man she loves?

Jolie Wyngate is a middle school teacher with an extraordinary gift—or is it a curse? Throughout her life, she’s been never been sure. Now, when she is implicated in the disappearance of a child, the ultimate value of her powers will be put to the test.

Mac Carlson, former Navy SEAL and security expert, is tasked with rescuing the girl, Rachael Anne. From the moment he meets Jolie, his suspicious and protective nature sets its sights on her as a prime suspect. Can Jolie clear her name and gain this man’s hard-won trust?

More importantly, can she save the girl before time runs out? She won’t be able to do it without her psychic abilities—but Mac has a hard enough time trusting Jolie as it is, let alone trusting her powers to lead them to Rachael Anne.

As Mac and Jolie realize they have no choice but to work as a team—and as they slowly warm to each other in the process—they realize they have a new problem: the man they are after has set his sights on Jolie. Now Jolie will need all of her abilities, and all of Mac’s strength and skill, to stay out of the fiend’s hands and bring Rachael Anne back home.

 

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ABOUT MJ:
M.J. Flournoy is an author of erotic romance. MJ writes stories laced with suspense, paranormal adventure, love, lust and sensual details. MJ’s stories are steamy, emotional, suspenseful and gripping.
When not crafting hot stories for Sizzler Intoxication line, MJ enjoys travel. Cruising is a particular pleasure for MJ and she loves cruising the Mediterranean. So far, MJ has visited, Austria, Italy, Greece, France and Spain.
Follow MJ on Facebook at authorMJFlournoy or contact her at authormjflournoy@aol.com.

Also, be sure to subscribe to her NEWSLETTER to know of her latest progress, announcements, or updates.

MJ also enjoys hanging on Facebook on Sundays with her critique partner Mary Marvella to celebrate their new releases and writing in general. Be sure to stop by A Romance Caper with Mary Marvella & M.J. Flournoy so you can join in on the fun!

Special thanks to MJ Flournoy for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to be a guest on LaurieWriting today and so generously offering a $5 Amazon gift card to a lucky random commenter on the blog.

To be entered into the drawing, simply leave your name, an email address where we can send the gift card, and reply to this question in the comments section of this post:
What makes a hero unforgettable?

REMEMBER: NAME + EMAIL + ANSWER = DRAWING ENTRY

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful day!

Contemporary Romance · Erotic Fiction · Fiction · Humor · Inspiration · Musings · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

Proving And Proofing Yourself As A REAL Author

Who is the better, smartest, most valuable, and successful author? One writer works years to write a 400-page book best-selling series. Another writer works for months on scraps of time to push together an (eventually) best-selling series of short stories.

So, which of these two writers have proved themselves to earn the honorable title of AUTHOR? First of all, I’d like to take a chance at offending any and all egos of writers and authors everywhere. The most obvious thing that stands as a ginormous roadblock on the way to each of our successes: Stop the comparisons. It’s killing your dreams

I’m not sure how many times I’ve rolled over in my mind for the past year negative thoughts concerning forging forward as a writer. In case anyone else has gone through this, I’m going to state my negative thoughts and reveal the actuality.

KILLER COMPARISON #1 – I don’t have the resources other successful authors have to write and publish a book and be successful myself.

ACTUALITY #1 – Shut it. Do you mean to tell me Indie authors such as Jasinda Wilder, Beverly Kendall, Bella Andre, and Bella Street got handed a silver spoon then suddenly POOF! – Miraculous transformation into the life of proven authorship! No. Hell, no. They, like every other writer, was first and foremost doubtful. The difference is–They informed themselves, persisted, took chances and finished something.

Are you a mother or father of three in debt up to your eyeballs feeling trapped by the daily grind – but hey, you can write amazing short stories in the spare time you make for yourself like Jasinda Wilder? YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES. Pen, paper, a free blog to voice your work. There are Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for promotions (not a good idea to spam links, btw. But interacting and building relationships creates opportunity for those you connect with and yourself when those “big breakthroughs” happen. They will happen, so don’t give up!)

Hmm..where was I? Oh!

There are free apps for your freaking android phone to post to your blog on the fly, FREE publishing through Createspace on Amazon. COMPARISON DEBUNKED.

KILLER COMPARISON #2 – I don’t have the time other writers have to write. The quality of my work is suffering; for this reason, my writing is an unattractive hemorrhoid on the buttocks of the most revered authors of all time.

ACTUALITY #2 – Sit your (hopefully hemorrhoid-free) ass down for ten solitary minutes a day and write something. Hell, think about what you’ll write in the next 10-minute break and jot down your ideas when you hide from your family in the locked bathroom (not that I’d ever do that 😉 )

Three ten-minute breaks a day – no distractions, focus, quiet – is 30 minutes toward your goal. You’re furthering yourself, developing your style and voice, and most importantly producing something that is meaningful to you. Think small goals: complete them, celebrate them, then continue working toward the big picture for your future. Whatever you do, keep reminders around of your progress and continue on the path of most resistance.

The more you challenge yourself to stay flexible while pursuing your dreams, the less cumbersome you’ll feel during the journey. You’ll begin to value your system of progress as goals unfold before your eyes. It will be fuel to continue.

Now all you have to do is put that paragraph, poem, short story, instructional manual on How Many Licks It Takes to Get to The Center of a Tootsie-Pop–if that’s your thing–write it and put yourself out there.

KILLER COMPARISON #3 – It’s overwhelming. I don’t have the support or connections other writers have.

ACTUALITY #3 – I’m going to be gentler here. Time to out myself, once again.

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Do you realize how many days I’ve told myself, “no one cares about the story I want to tell.” Or, “I have nothing of intelligent value to contribute because I prefer simpler-stated and more direct jargon.” OR – this one was a real winner – “writers have suffered in silence for ages. I don’t need to let anyone in because it may hurt my creative groove.” (Um. Reluctant ego butthurt, much?)

Here’s the thing I’m learning about support and connections. Both are acquired over time and require a whole heck of a lot of persistent effort. I’ve had to seek support continuously. It’s an on-going thing, where you draw from several avenues and resources to finally find somewhere where you’re at home and feel comfortable. You have to nurture these connections and support avenues so they are beneficial.

Something I’ve had to keep in mind is to stay fluid and tolerant of my real life situations. Right now I’m usually MIA during prime social media hours because I have a young child, need to take care of my health, and nurture my marriage more. It’s (mostly) accepted in my household now (after a lot of verbal scuffles) that I need my writing time. I just DO. My family is happier because I’m happier, and so forth.

First and foremost, I write. The way life is going now I feel the wisest way to connect with others is to keep those connections behind the scenes. Writing groups and a few good friends who are gracious enough to share writing tips and resources as I stay involved when I’m able to, help.

Find what works for you, but try to keep writing something.

KILLER COMPARISON #4 – I don’t have the voice or influence other writers have to make things happen for myself.

ACTUALITY #4 – I vote we all synchronize our social media channels to simultaneously crash in the event we make an event out of our insecurities.

Everyone is scared. Not many openly admit it, but they are.

Something that has helped me is to voice my insecurities. It could be through a journal entry or a fiction story or blabbing into thin air – but I work them out. I’m learning it is vital to appreciate weaknesses as well as strengths without discouraging myself into a loop of never-ending discontentment.

You never know who may need to hear what you have to say until you say it. 

If you go around all hunky-dory happy smiley face, then suddenly quit – you can be sure it wasn’t a sudden decision to give up on yourself. You’ve nurtured that negativity by ignoring your problems. I’ve done this so many times I’ve lost count. Now I’m beginning to recognize this pattern and change it.

Remember to be open to others as they share their experiences with you. Most writers want to lift one another up. Don’t worry about the haters – let them hang themselves with their own rope.

WHEW. I had a lot to say on this. Thanks for staying with me and making it through this far. Something lit my fire, and I wanted to share with you the inspiration as I’m coming along with the writing. I hope you take something valuable from this post and can use it to help inspire yourself and others. I’m reminding myself to have fun along the way and think outside the box.

Now only one question remains: Who wants to tackle the daunting task of writing the instructional manual on how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop? 😉

I’m sure whomever it is will PROVE themselves to be REAL author if they’ll only just try. 🙂

Book Reviews · Contemporary Romance · Erotic Fiction · Fiction · Humor · Laurie's Works Of Fiction · Musings · Writing · Writing Life

Thoughts On The Wild And Crazy Life of A Writer And Review of The Curveball by J.S. Scott (Big Girls and Bad Boys Series)

The wild and crazy life of a writer includes (but is not limited to) reading, writing, social media, reading, writing, more social media…eating, maybe sleeping, caffeinating….well, you get the picture. It’s really not so exciting on a standard or even the extremely productive writing days. Good thing we are able to spin wild stories from ordinary circumstances instead of acting them out or we all may be locked up in the looney bin with the key thrown away. Soon the doctors would realize we were all escaping in our imaginations though they had dosed us all up with Tharizone like in the hilarious move The Dream Team. My favorite line from the movie by actor Peter Boyle (said as he is casually reading the newspaper naked in his chair in the hospital and the doctor asks him if he would put pants on): “We are all naked in the eyes of the Lord.” I almost busted a gut watching this movie, seriously, and it even had a writer in it (Billy Crystal) who had serious anger issues and threw chairs through windows. It’s a must watch oldie if you haven’t seen it yet, but…..where was I? Oh, yeah. Writing.

I thought I’d update everyone who follows this blog and enjoys the posts and my writing on how my stories are going. The main reason I haven’t been posting much is because the writing is mostly going very well. The contemporary romance Lonely Hearts In Texas series is making progress. The main issue I’m running into with this series is new characters popping up and having enough discipline to focus on just one story and develop it from the series. This is exciting but extremely overwhelming at times. I’m keeping at it, though, and believe it’s going to be well worth all the time I’m taking to develop the characters as they continue to surprise (and sometimes disappoint me) in where they want to take the story.

The Motherhood Memoir series I’m blogging is on hold for now, but not indefinitely. Depression is a serious condition that deserves the proper respect and articulacy that comes from the heart. Right now I’m not bent on re-visiting dark memories, but sometime when I’m taking a break from my fiction writing I will continue with the memoir.

Also, I have a new AUTHOR PAGE that I’d love you all to visit and “like” if you enjoy what you read here. I love interacting with other writers and readers when I get the chance and you’ll be able to know what’s most recently going on with my writing and the blog there. You could also visit the HOME PAGE of LaurieWriting and press the Facebook LIKE button on the right of home page then read any posts you may have missed.   

Then I’ll be able to say…

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There is also a new short story contemporary romance series I’m working on that will most likely be published before the first book of the Lonely Hearts series…more to come on that in a later post. I’m just full of surprises 😉

So, now that I’ve given you my little writing update, I’d like to share a review of an excellent erotic short story I’ve recently read this weekend that I really enjoyed. Thanks for reading this far, and I hope you enjoy the review of The Curveball. Have a great week everyone!  

CurveBallCoverJSScott

Big Girl Erotic Romance At Its Best

J.S. Scott drew me in with this fun, steamy and quick read. I was pleasantly surprised at how I connected with both characters and the author’s voice as I read. As a work at home Mom, romance reader, and curvy girl myself, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to escape into Maggie and Jack’s world for a while.

I love how the author portrayed Maggie throughout the story, giving her just enough insecurity to need Jake without making her seem like a desperate or needy charity case (as many people would presume because of their lifestyle differences.) I usually like stronger heroines, but could sympathize with Maggie because she didn’t come off as whiny or weak. She only needed that one extra affirmation from Jake to take the plunge into this hot whirl-wind romance with him.

Jake was terrific, too. I enjoy difficult alpha males in longer novels, but for this short story his character had just enough alpha to make me love him and didn’t leave any loose strings about hidden issues. He comes off as a nice and sincere guy, not just out for a quick hook up. His passion, tenderness, and sincerity for wanting Maggie just as she is was very touching and admirable because he’s longed for her for so long and finally goes through with a clever plan to catch her attention and get her to himself. Maggie and Jake are an unlikely couple with opposite lifestyles but the heat when they get together is off the charts. Well written, tender, and hot – I have to give major kudos to author Scott for her remarkable talent in measuring and combining the perfect ingredients when writing The Curveball to make me crave more of this delicious series! Must read!

Note: Intended for readers 18 +. This story contains graphic sex, graphic language and other subjects for mature audiences only.

Review by Laurie Kozlowski

The Curveball Is A Story From The Curves Collection – Big Girls And Bad Boys

 About The Author

JSScottAuthorBioPicJ.S. Scott is a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of erotic romance. She’s an avid reader of all types of books and literature. Writing what she loves to read, J.S. Scott writes both contemporary erotic romance stories and paranormal romance erotics. They almost always feature an Alpha Male and have a happily ever after because she just can’t seem to write them any other way! She lives with her husband in the picturesque Colorado Rockies.