book, new release, Publishing

Second Time Around

second-time-around-c-dangelo-blog

Do you remember the TGIF TV shows in the 90s? For some reason, the theme song for Step by Step repeated in my head when I thought of this month’s title. If you watched that show, maybe I just gave you an earworm (sorry, not sorry because it’s a great song!). Well, even though only some of the lyrics make sense for my forthcoming content (see them at the end), my newly released novel is my second time around for publishing a book. June 1 brought The Visitor into reality, and I can’t be happier about how it all turned out, a #1 Amazon bestseller and all! So, I have some lessons to share for any of you readers facing a second time around in your life.

I encountered some hurdles in publishing The Difference last year and guess what…there were some for The Visitor as well. I’m sure there will always be at least a tiny obstacle with each book. These challenges were different than the first time, but I knew—mostly—how to attack them due to experience. I guess you can say I’m a second-year student in the high school of writers. You know how in freshman year you may feel out of sorts, trying to gain footing on solid ground while absorbing new processes and the environment? Then, by sophomore year, you feel more secure, but not quite settled into your stint that requires much more growth. That’s where I’m at with everything in the author world. Instead of learning the basics as I go, I know more of what to expect and know that not everything is an urgent matter. Really, not everything even matters at all. I need to spend my precious energy where it’s necessary while trying to continue to strive for excellence (I try to avoid using the term perfectionist because it’s unachievable, so come with me on my striving for excellence journey.)

Here’s my round 2 lessons:

  • It will be figured out. Whatever the problem of the moment is, do not worry too much. Someone will have a solution or you will find it yourself.
  • It doesn’t need to happen today (sometimes). For the most part, issues can wait. Do we want it solved now? Yup. Does it need to be? Usually not. Hint: Ask yourself about need vs want.
  • It may not be worth my energy and time. I value both of these qualities in my life so if something is too consuming where it isn’t bringing joy or a benefit later on, I need to ask myself if it’s worthwhile. Sometimes that answer is no.
  • Will this topic/issue matter in a month or even a week? I’m the type of person who wants to be perf- um, strive for excellence, so I have to ask myself this question. I must admit that sometimes I only want something done a certain way because I want it that way. It may be ideal to me, but may not truly matter in the large picture. Which leads me to…
  • View the whole painting, not the strokes. I love the artist Claude Monet, who was an impressionist who used small dabs of paint to make one picture. When you stare at his work, you can get caught up in every brush stroke, but you won’t enjoy the idea he wanted to convey unless you back up and take in the large view. Ah, the beauty of it.

Well, it’s time for the lyrics from the song that spoke to me so much.

secon-time-around-step-by-step-lyrics-c-dangelo-blog

Let’s take things day by day and be stronger and better this second time around.

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The Visitor is available everywhere now (including Kindle Unlimited)!

the-visitor-c-dangelo-publication-day
Pub Day Pride!

Fiercely independent Mary, a New Age store owner in New Orleans, will lose her business and home to her high school ex-boyfriend and nemesis developer unless she forces herself to accept help from others and to learn trust—including an Italian mystical new customer and her fellow renters.

***

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

author interview, Behind the scenes, new release, Publishing

Interview with Author Maggie Friedenberg

c-dangelo-author-interview

This month I’m featuring another outstanding author friend, Maggie Friedenberg, who has her first novel coming out on June 3, Holding Pattern! Yes, June is huge for both her and I, as The Visitor is coming out June 1! She’s been such a support in the writing community online and I’m thrilled to read her words, both here and in her book. Anyone facing challenges will benefit from her answers below. I know they made me feel as if I’m not alone in my thinking at times.

What would you tell yourself 5 years ago about facing the challenge of publishing?

I would tell myself: expect everything to take at least twice as long as you think it will. Setbacks, frustrations, rejections, self-doubt, and wanting to give up are all part of the process. But keep believing in your story. And remember little 5-year-old you, sitting in front of the stacks in the library, falling in love with books. She would be so proud of you now.

How do you cope with disappointment or setbacks?

I give myself time and space to be upset, but I try not to let myself wallow in it alone. I have a fantastic group of writing friends who have supported me along my publishing journey, listened to me cry, held space for me, and helped me when I needed it. I wouldn’t have made it this far without them.

What gives you energy and joy?

My biggest creative energy boost happens when I’m able to really get into the zone with my writing, where it feels like the story is telling itself through me (instead of me making it up as I go). Also, having some time alone. Reading a good book, or watching a good series or movie. And, of course, coffee. I get joy from spending time with my family, being near the water – especially the ocean, traveling, delicious food, and all my favorite nerdy things, like Star Wars.

How do you quiet your inner critic? (the voice of internal negativity)

It’s definitely not easy. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and my inner critic can be very loud. I have to remind myself that nobody’s perfect and that almost everyone struggles with feeling not good enough. I wrote a book! Many people say they want to write a book someday, or have one they never finish. I thought I’d be working on mine forever. But I finished it, and that’s a huge accomplishment. So I remind myself of that, and of all the things in my life I’ve worked hard on and am proud of.

What is your next project or goal? If it is a book, tell us about it and when you hope to publish it.

Right now I’m working on a new book. I just started writing it a few weeks ago, so the idea is very fresh, but I’m writing about two of the minor characters from my first novel and what happens to them several years after the events of that book. I’d always thought of Holding Pattern as a standalone, but it turns out these characters have a story that needs to be told, too. I’m hoping to publish it in 2023. Additionally, two of my short fiction works are being published in an anthology called The Courageous Creative, published by Indie It Press, due out later this year.

Don’t you also feel heard? I especially love the term “recovering perfectionist.” No wonder we are friends! Now, see below for preordering Holding Pattern. You will want it immediately on June 3!

Click on picture to preorder on Amazon

More ways to preorder:

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/holding-pattern-maggie-friedenberg/1141377386?ean=9798985754506

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/holding-pattern-9798985754506/9798985754506

How to connect with Maggie:

Website: http://www.maggiefriedenberg.com

Instagram: @maggiefriedenberg

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

author interview, community, Publishing

Interview with Author Leah Dobrinska

c-dangelo-behind-the-scenes-blog-author-interview-with-leah-dobrinska

This month’s blog features author Leah Dobrinska, a Small Town Romance and Cozy Mystery writer. She’s releasing her second book in her Mapleton series on Tuesday, April 5, named Good To Be Home. I loved the first book, Love at On Deck Café, so I’m first in line to read her next one.

The answers to my questions about her writing world are ones I need to keep reading for a reminder of keeping perspective at times. She shares such spot-on advice that she’s learned from publishing and shows her ability to remain centered and true to herself. We can all admire that in a person.

What gives you energy and joy?

My kids! Well, I guess they both give and take away my energy. Ha! But seriously, I’m so inspired by them and their resiliency and willingness to forgive and laugh and have fun. They are the reason I write. I want them to know that their words—their stories—are important, and the world needs who they are. We have a blast together, and not only are they my “why” but they’ve also given me some great one-liners for my books.

Let’s see…other things that bring me joy and revitalize me are reading and running. Going to my book club is the highlight of my month. I love reading in community, and discussing books is good for my soul. I firmly believe that to be a decent writer I need to also be an active reader. Many times, when I’m feeling drained with my own creative projects, I’ll slip into the pages of someone else’s work and find inspiration there.

And I’ve always been a runner, but I got back into the regular habit last summer. I don’t go fast and I don’t run far, but it’s one of the best ways I know to clear my head and lift my spirits.

Talk about a life lesson you have learned while on the path to publishing your book(s).

Whoa boy. So many lessons. It has been a trip! I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned is to focus on the things I can control. So much of publishing a book is out of my control. Will my book land? Will it be overshadowed by another book releasing on the same day? Am I targeting the right group of readers? Will people leave reviews? Will they share my stuff on social? Who knows! I can’t force any of that. But what I can do is go back to the words. I can control what I’m putting on the page. That’s where I find deep joy and purpose, so I think the whole publishing process was a good lesson in remembering why I write. It’s not for accolades or popularity. I do it because I feel more like me when I’m creating. No publishing mishaps can take that away.

The publishing journey has also been a great reminder that comparison is a thief of joy. I’d much rather be celebrating fellow writers (and people in general, really) than pitting myself against them. In a similar vein, I’ve also learned that while writing and publishing is a solitary endeavor, it’s way more fun (and so necessary!) to do it as part of a greater community. I’ve met some amazing people who are fellow writers, and their encouragement and support has meant the world. We’re not meant to go through any aspect of life alone, and the publishing journey is no exception.

How do you quiet your inner critic? (the voice of internal negativity)

I pray. I remember that my worth is not tied up in what I do, but in who I am as a human being whom God created. I also take a step back. Usually my inner critic is being stoked by external things I’m consuming—social media, blogs, reviews. So, I’ve found it’s healthy and good for me to turn those things off every once in a while.

I’m also blessed with an amazing husband, family, and group of friends who serve as an incredible support system. They help me remember that life is bigger than books, that failure is okay, and that I’m loved. To be honest, I love that most of my real life people don’t know what an ISBN number is or what it means to get a Kirkus review. They keep me grounded and remind me that no matter what happens or how down and critical I’m feeling about my work, there’s more to life than that.

Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing. This can be personality, physical attributes, or anything else.

I write love stories, but in many ways, my books are also love letters to the communities I’ve been blessed to be a part of. I started writing novels while my husband was in the Marine Corps and we were living many states away from home. But I chose to set my stories in a place very reminiscent of where I grew up. They always say to write what you know, and I know small town living!

I think I was craving that feeling of belonging—of home—and I knew I wanted that to be an important theme for my characters. Everyone can relate to longing for home or longing for a soft place to land. We find that in many ways—through our actual families, or friends who become like families, or our romantic partners. In all of my books, you’ll see my characters undergoing that search for home and their place in the world.

In a really neat way, all the goodness and beauty of small town living that I tried to write out in my stories has been exemplified in real life in the way people from my community have supported me and my book. I’m so humbled and very grateful. I hope that anyone who picks up one of my stories will feel at home within the pages and will be encouraged to love on the people in their real lives, too.

Oh, and on a slightly less meaningful note, I’m a Taylor Swift lyric junkie, so I think I’ve managed to sneak in a TS lyric-inspired sentence somewhere in each of my books.

What is your next project or goal? If it is a book, tell us about it and when you hope to publish it.

I’ve got a lot of projects up in the air at the moment. Launching Good To Be Home this month has me itching to get back to Mapleton. I’m currently in the process of editing book three in that small town romance series. It’s set to be published this fall. It’s a holiday romance that will feature two minor characters from Good To Be Home. If you read that one, you should be able to figure out who I’m referring to!

I’m also drafting book four in the Mapleton series. It’s giving me a run for my money, mostly because I want to do these characters justice. Their love story is so gorgeous in my head. Now, I just have to make sure it translates to the page!

I also got a book deal! My debut cozy mystery will release on December 6, 2022 from Level Best Books! I’m putting the finishing touches on it now before I’ll turn it over to my editor. Then it’ll be all hands on deck to get that book out into the world. I can’t wait to share more about this project, but right now, my lips are sealed…

Okay, well maybe a *little* teaser wouldn’t hurt, right?! The setting for the cozy mystery was inspired by the northern Wisconsin resort town my family used to visit each year, and it features a protagonist whose job has a lot to do with books. Oh, and it’s tentatively titled Death Checked Out. More to come… 🙂

And I, for one, can’t wait, Leah! Thank you for imparting your sage views on the blog. I know my readers will be able to take your thoughts and apply them to their own lives in multiple ways.

Click on picture to preorder
Click on picture to purchase

More ways to connect with Leah:

Website: https://leahdobrinska.com/

Newsletter: https://leahdobrinska.com/newsletter

Instagram: https://instagram.com/whatleahwrote

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whatleahwrote

Twitter: https://twitter.com/leahdobrinska

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/whatleahwrote/

Blog: https://leahdobrinska.com/blog

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/leahdobrinska

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/leah-dobrinska

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NEWS: My next novel, The Visitor, is coming out in less than 2 months! You can preorder now for your Amazon Kindle. If you would like the paperback, June 1 is right around the corner.

Click on picture to preorder now!

Back cover info:

Fiercely independent Mary Pontrelli is blindsided when the New Orleans building housing her New Age store and upstairs apartment is listed for sale. Worse yet, a developer wants to destroy it and her high school ex-boyfriend—ahem, nemesis—is leading their charge. But this budding sweet spot for that weasel from the past can’t happen since traitors never change.

The best chance Mary has to save her cherished French Quarter building is to join forces with the other business owners whose livelihoods are also at risk. Too bad she avoids teamwork at all costs. Thankfully, a mystical new customer who shares Mary’s lost Italian heritage may be able to help alter her stubborn patterns. And, learning about the city’s history and her own Sicilian roots from the shopper may prove beyond merely engaging.

Even so, acquiring trust in strangers and accepting assistance requires more bravery than any societal expectation she’s challenged in her life. But if she doesn’t depend on her community and learn forgiveness, she may lose her career, home, and deeper relationships. No eccentric spirituality or heritage lessons can fix this…right?

***

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

recharge, rest, self-care

Rest for the Tired

rest-the-the-tired-c-dangelo-blog

I’m tired. Are you with me? I hope not, but odds are you may also feel this way a lot of the time. Aren’t we living in a society that makes us run, run, run to the point of exhaustion? Well, I think we are, but we don’t need to abide by that norm. I hereby protest the hustle life for the good life. Ah, la bella vita. Yet, tasks still need to get done. Herein lies the dilemma.

Now, the reason I feel predominantly tired is because I have two full time jobs, my day job and my author job. I love both of them, though hope to only have one someday. Guess which one! But anyway, the amount of time management and energy that’s necessary to keep both successful eventually wears on me. I’m a large proponent of taking time for rest, relaxation, and self-care, but sometimes I don’t have nearly the amount of time I could ideally use. Hey, I steal moments, but it would be glorious to have the true time needed for full mind and body refreshment.

So here I am with weighing the must-dos of the week with the can-wait responsibilities…a constant struggle. I don’t have a magical solution for the perfect balance, but will always keep trying. I know what doesn’t work at this point—pushing myself to a point of needing multiple days of rest. But sometimes deadlines don’t allow for any time away. Sigh.

Here’s what I’m learning works for me (and I hope you can use some ideas):

  • Taking time away from socializing. This means not looking at my phone, if able, therefore not responding to texts until the next day. It also can include either not posting something on my author social media that day or posting but not spending too much time online. Being an introvert means I need my battery recharged by myself. The noise of others, though only through technology, drains me too much sometimes, so I retreat. Saying “No” to obligations not fitting in my schedule also sits into this category. I dislike turning down any opportunity, but have to do just that sometimes.
  • Sitting in dim lighting at night. As I’ve gotten older, I can’t believe I like some darkness. Only a few years ago I preferred to light my house like Vegas at all times. But now, I find the lack of bright light more relaxing. It increases the likelihood that I’ll stay offline and just relax, signaling my mind that it’s time to settle down for the day.
  • Weaving in afternoons or days of no author related work, housework, or any other non-relaxing activities. These chunks of time are needed, not only wanted—a must in the self-care realm.
  • Going to bed earlier than usual. Sometimes I want to stay up to have more hours of “free time” at night, but I’ve found it isn’t worthwhile for me if I need rest more than that pleasure of one more TV show or chapter in a book.
  • Shifting my activities from creative to routine. The stability of predictable and easy to perform tasks sometimes sets me at ease. I love when I can clean, organize, or feel productive in my house. This allows for my mind to rest from overthinking, analyzing, and trying to figure out a mental puzzle. Then, I’ll be refreshed when needing to come back to the creative element involved in my book world.

Most of the above strategies can be used for any amount of time you want. Some days you need more time devoted to rest than others, so amp it up. You may not need any of these ideas on other days. Do what feels good.

Also, you may notice there are different areas of rest; social, physical/sensory, creative, and mental are my typical ones. Yours may include additional categories or, if you’re like me, they switch at different points in life according to needs. One TEDx Ideas article featured additional areas from Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s rest categories, spiritual and emotional, making seven total. Those last two are just as important so let’s not forget them. Who knew rest had categories?

My recent goal is to be more mindful of my needed areas to recharge. Writing this blog not only helps me to help you, but brings awareness to my own life. I know better, so I’ll do better, and will try to avoid pushing myself too hard. Lets aim for stopping and smelling the roses so we don’t face plant into them. Sounds like a good plan to me.

***

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Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

author interview, Italian American Author, writing

Interview with Author Mario Dell’Olio

c-dangelo-Author-blog-with-mario-dellolio

I’m beyond excited to feature author Mario Dell’Olio this month on my Behind the Scenes blog. Not only is he an outstanding author, but he’s one of the most thoughtful and giving people I’ve met in the writing community. For years, he has supported writers almost daily with cheering them on and promoting their work. He truly cares about everyone’s success and drew me in with his sweet spirit and never ending work ethic from the start of our connection.

This month, he’s releasing a book I CANNOT WAIT to read, Letters from Italy. I’ve been a fan since his first book, Coming About, so I know this one will be another fabulous read, especially for this Italian loving woman. Read about his books in his interview below, along with words of wisdom for how passion can transport you into a new world.

How do you cope with disappointment or setbacks?

I have published four books and am querying my fifth. Each of my projects brought the excitement of publication along with disappointment and rejection. I sent scores of query letters. Some garnered a form letter rejecting the project. Some received no response at all. The form letters taught me not to take rejection personally. Each agent or publisher is looking for different things. Eventually, a publisher loved my book, and it found a home. I can’t let the industry determine my self-worth, nor should I alter my style hoping to attain best seller status. Ultimately, I must follow my muse and write what I enjoy. For me, that approach yields the most satisfying result. I can’t depend on outside validation for my creative process.

What motivated you to keep going on the major project of writing your book(s)?

After a harrowing sailing adventure during which I nearly lost my life, I felt compelled to tell the story and the lessons I learned from my struggle. After writing Coming About, I realized I enjoyed the process of writing. I also discovered that I had many more stories to tell. Each of my books is an extension of my teaching career. Through the exposition of the plot, the characters learn about themselves and become whole. Sharing their stories keeps me motivated.

Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing. This can be personality, physical attributes, or anything else.

All of my stories feature characters searching for deeper meaning in their life experiences. My life’s journey has been imbued with the lessons I’ve learned through the challenges I’ve overcome. Each significant person in my life has taught me more about myself and my ability to love and be loved. This theme is present in all my books, whether they be fiction or nonfiction. Reflecting on one’s life and experiences yields a profound understanding of self and can help guide the individual as they continue their journey. Ultimately, each of my main characters follow a path of self-discovery.

What is your next project or goal? If it is a book, tell us about it and when you hope to publish it.

Letters from Italy is a passion project. Over three years in the making, the book tells of my immigrant parents’ love story. Spanning nearly a century, the characters come alive in a tiny fishing village in southern Italy. The Second World War transforms their lives and they dream of a better future in a distant land. A new life sparkles before them and they risk everything for the American dream. Published by Black Rose Writing, Letters from Italy hits the stores on February 24, 2022.

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts with my blog readers, Mario. It’s a special double apostrophe author month for them! lol

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Click on picture to pre-order

Other ways to find Mario:

Amazon Author page: https://amzn.to/3CWtOFa

Linktree Social Media links: https://linktr.ee/mdellolio

Website: https://mariodellolio.com

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Feel free to follow and share my blog. Also, join my VIP Newsletter for announcements, giveaways, and more!    

Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Mental Health, novel, Women's Fiction Author

Release to Revive

release-to-revive

Sometimes tradition makes me sick and sometimes I adore it. I like to think creatively and new, but also like to have routine and stability. Am I confusing you? What can I say, I’m a complex woman! But I have a dislike of not wanting to go along with trends of the moment. If you say, “Everyone is doing [insert behavior],” I’ll say, “Cool for them” and do something else to be innovative for myself. I just don’t like to follow the crowd most times because it’s boring to me. So, when new year’s resolutions are spoken of, I support you all the way if making one is your interest, but they aren’t for me. I switch up what I do each year—if I do anything at all (oh yes, it’s not a given)—and this year I am choosing to release some of the mind clutter I accidentally gathered last year. Want to come along for my freedom ride? I’ll help you get rid of your yuck too. Here we go with releasing to revive in 2022.

As a newly published author, I didn’t expect some pieces of a foreign puzzle to jam their way in between the right-fitting pieces of the puzzle I’m working on right now. I don’t know how those remnants got in there, but it’s time to say arrivederci. For example, when I became friends with so many wonderful authors, I was lucky enough that they wanted to help me, and I wanted to return the favor of course. Part of the help entailed them reading The Difference and reviewing it so that my reviews online can start building (this matters, people, so if you give me the honor of reading my novel, please write even a few words on your favorite website (Amazon, Barnes and Noble…)—thank you!). I also want to read all of their works of love, but there simply isn’t time due to having two careers. I’m making my way through my never-ending TBR list, but it’s a thousand times slower than I’d like. Now, I know (hope) that nobody is keeping track of whether I return the favor of reviewing their book if they reviewed mine, but I’m really trying, friends! I’ll get there, but the guilt of not having read some of my favorite people’s novels this past year has been hurting my heart and I need to stop carrying it around.

Another writer’s woe is not reading enough in general, since we become better writers through reading. And, I also want to read some books that aren’t my friend’s books. Gasp! It’s been a while since that happened and I intend to be freer in my reading this year. I have to do that for my soul, you know?

One more aspect to release that I’ll share is pretty obvious…I need to write more. Ah, the eternal writer’s dilemma. I took a much longer than expected break from actual writing since my debut novel published in July and I’ve been on the marketing wagon, then I needed to edit my next book, The Visitor, to get it on track for publication this year. Before I knew it, January arrived! So, as soon as the current edits for it are complete and I send it to the next editor, I’ll finally be starting my third book, The Decision.

Now, how can I truly release these guilts, yucks, and wrong puzzle pieces? I’ll turn to my therapy background and use imagery, maybe some action, and a dash of self-talk. Effective and simple, yet challenging to continuously put into practice.

What I mean by using imagery is that we all have the power to imagine releasing/relieving scenes. Think of such visions as writing your thought of release on a piece of paper, then sticking it in a balloon and watching the balloon float away high into the sky, along with your worry. Or, maybe you prefer screaming the thought into a passing train. As the train zooms by, the thought that bothered you is also moving further away from you. I also like the image of “writing” the distress on a leaf, then imagining it floating down a peaceful river. All of these methods are freeing, as well as able to be practiced by anyone anytime.

Guess what. You can also physically carry out these actions. Maybe you want to actually write on pieces of paper and rip them up, then throw them out. Send your trash out the door by placing it in the dumpster or at the curb. There, the distress is symbolically gone from your special place/home, and therefore your body. See what I mean?

Now let’s add the self-talk. You can say anything to yourself, and this is strong stuff, my friends. What we tell ourselves, we believe. So, I can say for example, “I release the guilt I carry for not yet reading my friends’ books.” I also can remind myself, “I embrace my individual timeline and life commitments.” Letting that ending positive thought wash over soothes me. I can physically feel my shoulders loosen. Now you try.

Fill in your own needed words with these statements:

I release…

I let go of…

I get rid of…

*

I attract to me…

I embrace…

I welcome…

I will…

You can also pair certain tactics from above, such as envisioning scenes (imagery) then saying these powerful statements (self-talk). Or, you can say a statement as you do an action. Anything is possible and you have a whole year to get in this groove. Isn’t that exhilarating?

I know I can do most anything I set my mind to and I believe you can also. The future is yours to revive. Take hold of it and make it how you want. Choose these new choices and feel the freedom that is 2022.

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Bonus: Did you know I’m part of a premier group of authors called the Author Talk Network? Creativity, collaboration, and an urge to communicate has resulted in a unique alliance of nineteen authors, most of whom have never met.  We’ve created a network where readers and authors come together to discuss books and so much more.  The authors are available individually, or as a panel, for library programs, book clubs, school groups, or clubs and as guests on your show or blog. Just click on the picture below for more information. Contact us because we can’t wait to meet you!

author-talk-network

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Feel free to follow and share my blog. Also, join my VIP Newsletter for announcements, giveaways, and more!    

Copyright © 2022 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Mental Health, short stories, Women's Fiction

Interview with Author Mackenzie Littledale

Interview-with-Mackenzie-Littledale

December’s blog post is another author interview because you need to know about this fabulous person and writer, Mackenzie Littledale, right now! She’s a Women’s Fiction writer with TWO short story collection books out, including Explorations of Freedom and Testing the Ties that Bind. I had the honor of reading the short story The Names that Survived, where she touches on family history and pride, the search for identity, racial privileges, and the beauty that comes from closure. I enjoyed every culturally rich bit of her main character’s journey and found it inspiring. I know you would too!

Not only is Ms. Littledale an author, but she hosts a blog promoting Women’s Fiction writers and mental health advocates (she was kind enough to feature me on her July post). With her upcoming novel, The Darkness is Mine, and her outstanding accomplishments (see her answers!), she’s sure to keep reaching the stars. Read about her writing world thoughts and exciting plans below.

How do you cope with disappointment or setbacks?

I acknowledge that disappointment is a natural and inevitable fact of life, so I don’t circle around the rim for too long in disappointment or any counterproductive emotion. It helps if I have another idea or project to act on, so I can dust my shoulders off and move on to the next thing. It’s like traveling cross-country in a way. If I start off on the east coast, there are mountains and deserts between here and California, as a metaphor for a long-term project. The weather may not be perfect the whole journey. My vehicle may malfunction and need fixing somewhere along the way. By this, I mean, prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically for whatever it is I want to achieve. Even with the best preparation, something may go wrong or stand in the way. As a real example, a friend referred me to a literary journal editor. Their publication wanted 1400 words of creative nonfiction and other categories. I read a couple stories to get a feel for what they like, wrote something, and submitted it. About two months prior, I had also pitched an idea to Psychology Today to host my series of BIPOC mental health advocate interviews. The idea behind that was to build a reading audience and name recognition for when This Darkness is Mine launches. One fine morning, I got an email from Psychology Today saying they loved my idea and wanted to host my interviews. Literally two minutes later, the literary journal emailed to reject my submission. Having something much bigger and closer to my heart in the hopper made the other rejection sting less. I had another route to keep going forward.

What works best for you with time management?

I hope you don’t laugh too hard at my answer. On days I work, I just go to work. On my days off, I have a notebook and write down whatever I need to do. As I do them, I check them off. Sometimes, I have to write down to eat breakfast, because in my mind, that counts as something done. It’s not prioritized or anything formal. If I write a blog post, there are steps, so I write down each step. If I interview a women’s fiction author, there are several steps, so I write those steps down and check them off as I go. I completed a writing class through the Center for Fiction in New York via Zoom on November 2nd, and every assignment went into my notebook. If I feel sleepy, I’ll take a nap for however long my body needs to recuperate. Some things in my week are key so they’re in my electronic calendar with reminders and I never miss them unless something urgent comes up.

What gives you energy and joy?

I feel pure joy and pleasure from checking things off my to do list because every single step I take in the direction of my choosing puts me closer to realizing my dream. It also paces me to accept any level of name recognition that may be part of the author’s life. I can’t guarantee success, but doing nothing is doom. I don’t plan to fail because I don’t fail to plan. Energy and joy combined come with eating great food. Now that I’ve identified that a lot of my body pains come from inflammation, I add ginger and turmeric tea to my routine, as well as ibuprofen. Minimizing or eliminating chronic pain is a game changer. I can feel as young as I look and press on.

How do you quiet your inner critic? (the voice of internal negativity)

The inner critic is hardwired into the human brain, so the only strategies available are to listen and give in and quit; ask the critic to clarify why an idea might fail and then plan to avoid those scenarios and press on; thank the critic for continually looking out for my safety and assure that voice that I’ve got this and press on; ignore the critic and press on; tell the critic to STFU and press on. I think of Jon Acuff’s book START!: Punch Fear in the Face and remember that the inner critic has a script and can’t depart from saying the exact same thing no matter the circumstance. Once I recognize that truth, I can uncover, reveal, explore, and create my own preferred truth. That I can do something I set out to do. We also have a built in coach and cheerleading squad. We get to choose which internal dialogue we want to listen to. If the voice we’d prefer to hear in our head is too soft or is silent or isn’t convincing, then we can turn to motivational speakers on YouTube. Before I sat down to start writing This Darkness is Mine, I woke up early every morning and watched motivational speeches on YouTube until I felt more confident. Confidence is NOT a personality trait. It’s a skill that we can learn and develop.

What is your next project or goal? If it is a book, tell us about it and when you hope to publish it.

Rhodes to Hell is my NaNoWriMo 2021 project. It’s a domestic suspense novel, so it’s a bit of a genre departure for me. But I love reading suspense, so I feel like it’s possible. That will swallow up a decent portion of November. I’m still reworking This Darkness is Mine for my agent at Serendipity, who’s totally working at my pace on the project. I love them! I’m seeking mental health advocates to interview for From Margin to Mainstream, which is my blog on Psychology Today’s website, and that’s exciting. The first interview is live, I’m working on the second, and seeking people doing interesting things going forward. Also, I’m writing new material for a paperback collection of short stories. I’m self-publishing that and hope to have it ready for Christmas shopping time.

This has been delightful, C. Thank you so much for asking these probing questions. Be well.

Thank YOU! I am grateful for our friendship that started on Twitter and has grown over the years. Yay Women’s Fiction writers!

Testing-the-Ties-that-Bind-short-stories
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Explorations-of-Freedom-short-stories
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More ways to connect with Ms. Littledale:

Website – https://www.mackenzielittledaleauthor.com

Psychology Today Blogger – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/margin-mainstream

Twitter: @mackenzielitt13

Facebook: @mackenzielittledalewriter

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

author interview, Behind the scenes, husband

Interview with Author Ashley R. King

Ashley-R-King-Author-Interview

It’s time for another author interview! This month’s blog is dedicated to an outstanding romance author, Ashley R. King. I never read romance before reading her first book, Painting the Lines (released 2020) and soon became a fan of hers and of the genre. Now she is releasing her second book, Forever After, this month (11-18-21)! I had the honor of reading it as an Advanced Reader Copy and loved every second. It’s the perfect mix of creepy and cute in a world of a vampire reality show where love, and murder, ensue. I cannot recommend this book enough, as well as everything this fabulous author writes. Read below to see her insights for you.

What motivated you to keep going on the major project of writing your book(s)?

My amazing husband has encouraged and motivated me the most. In 2011 I thought, hey I’ve always wanted to write a book, I should give it a shot and he encouraged me every step of the way. I self published that one and then went on to keep writing. For a while there I wondered if my writing could ever get published by an actual publisher. So I wrote more and kept getting rejected (as is the life of an author, am I right? Lol).

I thought about quitting, but my husband, oh my sweet husband, he would send me Rocky Balboa memes and gifs and play that scene from the Rocky Balboa movie where he gives the best motivational speech ever. Then he’d play Runnin’ from the Creed 2 soundtrack or he’d cue that scene up where Adonis Creed is in the desert training and getting ready to fight Viktor Drago again (okay, we’re clearly HUGE Rocky Balboa and Adonis Creed film fans here). That along with my husband’s sweet words and notes inspired me to keep going even when I wanted to give up, to dig deep, and do what I’d always dreamed I’d do—publish a novel with an actual publisher. This is exactly how Painting the Lines was born!

What gives you energy and joy?

What gives me the most energy and joy is spending time with my husband. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day I’ve had, being around him always makes me feel much better. I also get immense joy from reading a really good book, from having a great writing session, snuggling and playing with my sweet, spoiled cat child, Cleo. Traveling also gives me such energy and joy and never fails to inspire me to create.  

Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing. This can be personality, physical attributes, or anything else.

I include a lot of little pieces of myself in my writing for sure. Most of my heroines are snarky and awkward, just like I am. I’m slowly starting to integrate a few other deeper things that I deal with such as anxiety and overthinking. It was so meaningful to me when you did that, and you inspired to try and add more of that part of me into my own books. So thank you for that! 😊  (AWWWW- thanks so much. Ashley!)

What is your next project or goal? If it is a book, tell us about it and when you hope to publish it.

My very first paranormal romance novel, Forever After, will publish on November 18th and book 2 in the Ace of Hearts series, The Wilde Card, will publish February 15th of next year. I’m working on those two series, but also I’m working on a top secret rom-com project and hope to finish it by the end of the month. I have so many ideas but not enough time to write them all lol.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me—it’s been a pleasure and I truly do appreciate it! 😊

The pleasure is all mine, Ashley! I can’t wait for more books from her. Keep them coming!

Forever-After
Click on picture to purchase- pre order eBook now, paperback available 11-18-21

Also, check out her first novel!

Painting-the-Lines
Click on picture to purchase

Social media links and website:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleyrkingwrites/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleyrkingwrites

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ashleyrkingdaydreamers

Twitter: @ashleyk628 (currently on hiatus)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19795783.Ashley_R_King

Website: https://ashleyrking.weebly.com/

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Author, expectations, experiment

Experimenting with Great Expectations

pink-fruit-pineapple-avocado-grapes-kiwi-banana-experimenting-with-great-expectations

What did you think of my first author interview in last month’s blog post? I hope you enjoyed it and like the variety I have here now. See, you don’t know if the month will bring an interview or my personal journey, so you have to follow along to find out. Hmm, I wonder what will next month have… You will see! Just click “Follow” at the bottom of the page and you will receive the monthly email with my post.

But as for this month, I want to ask a question. Are you a scientist? Most people will answer, “No” (I don’t think I have a huge reader audience of scientists but maybe I will be pleasantly surprised!). I am not a scientist, but realize I need to act as one in this great experiment I have gotten myself into with being an author. With having a new career as a novelist, I am learning as I go, therefore needing to experiment but also to check my expectations. Sure, I have researched as much as possible ahead of time and always think through every single thing I say in public, but I also have to try some things out to know if they work. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It comes with self-doubt, anxiety, fear, endless time devoted, money spent, and probably more that I am blocking out. Kidding, not kidding. But hey, let’s not forget about the high of success in an experiment; the smiles on readers’ faces, the kind comments about my book and my presence online that I receive, and the surprises that are unpredictable. Sometimes I aim for a one result and get another, sometimes I receive an unexpected bonus, and sometimes I f-f-ail. ☹ Ok, that’s a strong word, but still, you get my drift.

Now, think about your own expectations with an endeavor. This could be as simple as making a trip to Target. Maybe you expect to get there in 5 minutes, shop and find everything you need, then come home and start laundry. Ah, but what if there is traffic on the way, the store is out of your common you-can-bet-that-they-have-it item, and you get home so late you don’t have time to start laundry before going to bed? You expected a yellow pineapple and got a pink one, so to speak. If you had your heart set on the yellow pineapple you may be disappointed with the pink one, but if you were open to any color pineapple, you would feel fine. There would not be a mood shift and no impact on your night. Perspective is everything. That’s how an author scientist needs to approach all activities for marketing.

This month is Italian Heritage Month, so I have many activities planned.

italian-american-heritage-month-october

It’s the first full week and already I have come across challenges, reminding me of those pesky expectations that crept in again. My one day $.99 sale began and ended earlier and later than desired due to websites loading at different times then price matching back and forth. Next, my first giveaway post ever went out on the day after the Instagram and Facebook blackout. I thought the platforms were fixed by the next day because my pages were fine, but this wasn’t the case for everyone. So, problem solving mode ensued and all was/will be fine. Expectations had to get in check and remembering about experimenting had to take over. It was a great reminder that this has to happen with anything I try. If an error occurs, I will try to solve it. Just like Vanilla Ice (‘90s kids anyone?). “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.” Now I have a huge urge to continue to recite the song, but I’ll spare you. 😊

Where did this genius idea of viewing activities as experimenting come from? My wonderful author friend, Debbie Cromack, who is the kindest human and also a new author, shared it with me this year (go check out her social media and books). It helped me tremendously to give myself a break from my high standards that sometimes are out of my control. I do not know how an action will translate into sales of books, so I have to try what I can to the best of my knowledge. Entering a promotion for my book The Difference, a new way to post or blog, or anything else I may madly experiment with needs to be approached with eyes and mind wide open but also through that lens of “It’s just an experiment.” This phrase helps my mindset if a mini disaster strikes, but sometimes Debbie still needs to remind me (thanks, friend!).

So my pointer to you for keeping expectations in check would be to visualize success but accept a different outcome because it’s all an experiment in this thing we call life. That’s it. Just try something and see what happens. Trying will always lead to some result, whereas not trying will get you nowhere fast and possibly leave you with regret and thinking, “What if?”

I will be talking about my written words the rest of my life and will continue to find ways of sharing about it, all with hopes of reaching more people in this great experiment of sharing my art. I will just have to embrace the wins and let the lows roll off my shoulders. I’m not great at that, but I will keep learning. That’s what experiments do for us after all; give us knowledge for future action. Happy experimenting, all.

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

author interview, Behind the scenes, inspirational, relatable

Interview with Author Heather E. F. Carter

author-blog-with-c-dangelo-and-heather-e-f-carter

Remember in last month’s post how I said I had a blog announcement? Well, here it is! I will be interviewing authors from all genres in this monthly blog but also will sometimes still write my posts that you know and love. I will keep you on your toes month-to-month because there won’t be a set pattern. Are you as excited as me?

I am continuing to offer behind the scenes inspirational and relatable topics for both writers and non-writers via these interviews. A goal of my blog is always to include gifts to you as my reader, such as a new task to try or words that touch your heart and help you to heal, grow, or change in a positive way. The interviewees are broadening my insights already as I know they will do for you as well.

In my first author interview below, you will have the pleasure of reading debut author Heather E. F. Carter’s thoughts on lessons learned, self-care, and upcoming projects. I can’t wait for more from her because The Black Unicorn is a beautifully written, emotion evoking historical romance novel that sticks with you far after you finish the last words on the page. Enjoy!

What would you tell yourself 5 years ago about facing the challenge of publishing?

If I were able to send a message to myself five years ago regarding the challenge of publishing, I’d first of all tell myself that the book is good. I wrote The Black Unicorn ten years ago while I was in graduate school, and then I let it sit on a shelf. I honestly didn’t think I had anything in it. I forgot about it; or, if I did happen to think about it, I’d tell people that it was no good. I’ve been, on occasion, very insulting to my story of Ashby and Elina.  So if I had words for Heather of five years ago, it would be first of all that the story is good. Secondly, I’d tell myself not to waste any time looking for an agent. I spent about three years in the query trenches, and alas traditional publishing wasn’t meant to be my path. If I hadn’t wasted so much time looking for an agent, I’d probably be on my third book by now. And as for the challenge of publishing? I’d tell myself exactly what I tell myself when tackling any big problem: Bird by bird. This is, of course, in reference to Anne Lamott’s wonderful book. Just take each new challenge or problem one step at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture.

What motivated you to keep going on the major project of writing your book(s)?

Once I had committed to Ashby and Elina’s story about three years ago, the one thing, or person I should say, that kept me going was my husband, Terry. He’s always been my #1 fan, and he’s always pushed me to publish my stories. He’s currently pushing me to publish my vampire story, and I’m afraid that I’m going to have to ignore him on that one, lol. But he’s always been very determined to see me in print.

What gives you energy and joy?

One thing, non-writing-related, that gives me energy and joy is music. I am a flautist; once upon a time, a very serious one.  And I do write to music, so I suppose that perhaps it’s writing-related after all. But it’s music for me. I married a professional musician, so music is a daily, sometimes hourly, part of my life. When I need inspiration for a scene, I’ll often choose a song and play it on a loop until I find what I need for that scene. All of my love scenes were written to music. That is significant, if you’ve read my story, because I’ve been known to write pretty decent love scenes.

Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing. This can be personality, physical attributes, or anything else.

There are a few meaningful aspects of me that have found their way in my work. For one, Elina is essentially me. Well, she is as far as personality goes. I am most certainly not a tall British redhead. But as far as her motivations go, that’s all me. Elina is also a flautist. That particular scene was cut in the final version, but Elina plays the flute very well. And the scenes involving dancing all come from my understanding of eighteenth-century music.

How do you reach your goals?

In the past, I have reached my goals by doing nothing else until that goal has been reached. I like to joke that I’m a terrible multi-tasker, which is totally true! I’m very good at focusing all my attention on one thing at a time, and then excelling at that one thing. That is how I wrote The Black Unicorn a decade ago. I took a year’s leave of absence from my doctoral program, and I wrote a book. Sadly, I cannot do that anymore. Adulting. And children. This isn’t really such a bad thing. So for my next project, The Golden Phoenix, I’ll write it by doing about two hours a day. But first I must research, because I honestly have no idea what happened in 1796! So I’ll research for about six to eight months, again by devoting about two hours a day to it. I go very deep with my research. It’s a holdover from my doctorial days when all my research would be subject to a peer review. I research like I’m writing a history book. Then it’s a question of finding the right balance, and not writing a history book. So I’m probably about two years out from the publication of The Black Unicorn’s sequel. But such is life when you write romantic historical fiction.  Diana Gabaldon takes four years to write her Outlander books, so I’ll take my two-year timeline and be happy about it. And The Golden Phoenix will be in many ways a very different story from The Black Unicorn. For one thing, Ashby and Elina are not in it. Many will find that disappointing, but never fear! Book three will be the continuation of their story. In The Golden Phoenix, I am rather continuing Tristan’s story line. Tristan deserves his happily ever after. Poor guy got a raw deal in The Black Unicorn. So you can expect to see that story come out in 2023… perhaps earlier, if I really get to work. In the meantime, I’ll be posting snippets of it, along with short stories from Ashby and Elina’s timeline, on Kindle Vella.

the-black-unicorn
Click on the picture to purchase

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.