Teaser Tuesday!

P&X

My back hurts, my legs burn, and everything sticks to me, sweat painting my neck. I scrape my hair out of my face and find pieces of lettuce and dried enchilada sauce. Angel is just as filthy, the hours stuck to us in layers of grease while time has burrowed even deeper in my father’s skin.

He’s been waking up at three AM every morning for the past fifteen years. Cooking migas and tamales and pozole and carne asada. Cleaning up broken glass and spilled drinks and half-eaten food. Hiring bartenders and dish boys and steak cooks, firing them too. Waking up every morning wondering if people are going to show up that day, if they’re going to like the food, if they’re going to pay what it’s worth. And going to bed every night hoping that it was enough. To pay the bills. To raise four kids. To open the doors another day.

I can see those worries on his face, and even covered in filth, in food my father used to love, in sweat I can’t wait to wash off, there’s nothing I want more than to wear the same worry he does, to wake up with the same hope.

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Seeking CPs!

It took me years to find a core group of critique partners who I felt like I could really trust. It’s the closest experience I’ve ever had to online dating and the thought of having to relive all of those awkward introductions and “first dates” has led to me putting off finding new CPs altogether.

In the past few years most of my CPs have either gotten agents or the all elusive book deal, meaning they don’t have time to read for me anymore. Others have decided to take a break from writing and some even switched careers. And when it comes to the few CPs I can still rely on, I feel so guilty asking them to read something new from me every 6 months, which means that it’s probably time for me to meet some new people.

It feels like I’ve been out of the self-publishing world for a while, even though it was just last October that I published the last book in my paranormal romance series. Still, it’s been a long time since I was in a routine and drafting one manuscript while revising another. I miss that routine and I’m hopeful that the summer break will help me find my way back. And now that I know what to expect once the new school year starts, I can do a better job of avoiding burnout and staying committed to my creative practice.

Obviously, the title of this post says it all. I’m in the market for new critique partners and I’m open to other indies, traditionally published authors, or any advice on where I might find quality CPs.

A little about me, in case you just stumbled upon this blog by accident–>

*At this point in my self-publishing career my books have been downloaded over half a million times and I have a loyal readership that’s almost 4,000 strong.

*I tend to genre hop and write everything from historical fiction, to contemporary young adult, to paranormal romance.

When it comes to a critique partner, I’m not necessarily looking for someone with similar sales numbers. I remember what it was like to only sell a couple copies of my books a month and how hard it was to make connections with other writers who were more successful. Because of that, my main goal is to connect with CPs whose writing skills are equal to or better than my own. In other words, I want to connect with people who I can learn from and who will push me to become a better writer. Not only will I try to offer that as well but I will also be excited to introduce my CPs to my readers and hopefully grow their audience in the process.

There are excerpts of my novels all over this blog and the first book in my paranormal romance series is perma-free for those wanting to check out my writing quality and style. FYI, I’m currently working on a contemporary YA romance that I would love to get feedback on in June. If you think we’d be a good fit, feel free to email me at lzkbooks@gmail.com or on twitter @laekanzeakemp.

Let me know what genres you write in, what you’re currently working on, what you’re looking for in a critique partner, and what you think you can offer as a CP. A short writing sample will also be helpful, whether that’s personal writing on a blog or an excerpt from a novel. If I think we’d be a good match I’ll definitely be in touch! If you don’t hear from me, it will either be due to differences in quality/style or because I’ve already found what I’m looking for.

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It Doesn’t Suck

I have good news. I’m halfway through revising my new YA contemporary novel and…it doesn’t suck. In fact, there are moments. Real beautifully authentic moments that I somehow created, which means that I am capable of finishing this book and making it good. Which I was not entirely certain I could do after…well, the reaction to TDOTN. Maybe there’s some people out there who aren’t sure I can do it either. But one word, one page, one day at a time I’m going to prove us both wrong.

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The Fog

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For a while I thought I’d start 2017 off with a TBR list or a WIP Wednesday (haven’t done one of those in forever). Something optimistic. Something about my productivity. But unfortunately, there hasn’t been any. And apparently I’m not the only one.

For weeks I’ve been waking up at 5:30 to write before school but instead of writing, my thumb swipes the twitter icon on my phone and before I know it I’m drowning in one awful thing after another. I read an article the other day about how much productivity has slipped across all job sectors due to the chaotic state of our democracy, as well as the world. People are living in a fog–anxious, helpless, unable to concentrate on the future or the possibility of it containing anything good.

Depending on the breaking news, some days the realization that I’m a teacher and the huge responsibility that comes along with that makes me feel even more helpless. On the one hand I am doing the most meaningful work I possibly could be right now. On the other, all of my students are immigrants and when they ask me if everything is going to be okay, if they are going to be okay, I don’t have an answer. I am just as worried and afraid as they are and I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a child in this world where even the adults you trust can’t offer you comfort.

The stakes right now are sky high and in my tiny classroom in my middle-class neighborhood I feel the weight of the world. I want to teach my students how to save it. How to save themselves. Us. Because I know that they are the only ones who can.

Unless we destroy everything before they even get a chance.

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New Year, New Goals

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I am a planner. Always have been, always will be. But that doesn’t mean my plans always pan out. I had planned to blog more this past year and reconnect with the blogging community. This did not happen. I’d planned to release TDOTN in June. That did not happen. Filling in my writing/revision calendar used to be a compulsory obsession and I haven’t touched it in months. I haven’t touched this blog in months. But now that I’ve finished my master’s degree and successfully survived my first semester of teaching, it’s time to find my way back to these important touchstones–the places where I first began to dream. The places that held me accountable and connected me with other dreamers in pursuit of the same dreams.

So, on that note, here is my new list of dreams.

*P.S. I live 90% of my life in the future, which means that my 2017 new years resolutions were actually planned years ago and now it is simply time for them to manifest*

1. Buy a home

I have lived in apartments for 8 years. That’s 8 years of listening to couples scream at each other on the other side of the wall; 8 years of possessed toilets and ice makers and broken dishwashers and bugs so big they were almost alien; 8 years of confined quarters and a pile of dirty dishes being the “heart” of the home; 8 years of wishing for a window, for a porch, a place to play our music loud, and a yard for our dog to run in. But this year, no more wishing. It’s time to put down roots.

2. Finish my next book

I wrote the rough draft of this novel years ago. But then TGIB series got so big that I never had time to go back and finish it. It will be my return to contemporary fiction and I can’t wait to start writing in the real world again. I’ve already locked my schedule in and will be writing/revising on Sundays until it’s finished. Not when I want it to be finished and not when some pre-order deadline says it’s finished (did I mention I’m never doing pre-orders again?) but when it is finished.

3. Start writing THE BOOK

I’ve blogged about THE BOOK in the context of when is it okay to follow a plot bunny even though you have other books to finish. I have been fantasizing about the plot of this story, reworking it, and falling in and out of love with it for about 2 years now. But I still haven’t written a single word. In 2017 all of that will change. I’ll be writing the 1st draft of the novel over the summer and then, based on CP feedback, I might consider subbing it. I’m still not sure how I feel about that yet. There’s a lot to consider before making that decision. But the possibility keeps nagging at me and I just feel like it’s something I need to explore.

4. Hire a website designer

I finally created an official website this year but it’s pretty plain and doesn’t really speak to the content of my books or my personality. Because of the issues I had with Amazon this past year, as well as all of the changes they keep making that make it harder and harder for KDP authors to sell books on their platform, I need my website to be a source of reliability and consistency where readers feel safe shopping and I have more control over how issues are resolved and how quickly. I also want to be able to start offering exclusive content on my website, which means I need a design that’s more attractive and easier to navigate. If you have any recs for great website designers let me know in the comments!

5. Create paperbacks for all of my books

This is one example of the exclusive content I want to start offering on my website. So many readers have emailed me asking about paperbacks. Seeing my books in print has always been a dream of mine but I just haven’t had the time or the space to devote to doing it right. Now that I’m done with school and will *hopefully* have more space soon I am going to start looking at costs of illustrators and professional formatting. I recently read one of Ksenia Anske’s blog posts on paperbacks and how, in the digital age, they’re being considered more like collectibles or works of art. I absolutely agree with this and because of that I plan to be really intentional about the design, possibly incorporating illustrations and other design elements. I also want to be able to sign every single paperback, hence the need for more space to store them and more time so that I can ship them to readers myself.

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