Category Archives: Life

Training Journal – Houston Blues

Look at that beautiful medal. I love it so much and the fact that I am likely not going to be getting it on Sunday is kind of breaking my heart.

In a fit of pique, I had a little bit of a moment on Facebook. I am not humblebragging, fishing for compliments, or looking for people to tell me that I can totally do it. The simple fact of the matter is that at my current pace, I will be on target to finish in about 6 hours and 15-20 minutes. That’s well outside the 6 hour time limit, which means that beautiful medal won’t be going home with me. You can tell me to think positively all you like, but you can’t change facts.

After my hip injury this fall, I had to take a lot of time off from training and with my new job and schedule I’ve had to change my whole workout time around. I’m still getting used to things and after an hour commute home I’m a little fried. All of this added up to leave me at a pace I’m kind of embarrassed about. I’ve never been the fastest runner but this is a new low for me. I’ve accepted it, though, and know what I have to do to improve.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to improve in the next two days. I have hope that I’ll be able to finish in time to finish the Cowtown Marathon in February, but as for Sunday it’s not happening. As a result, I’ve gotten a little depressed. Every race week email I get makes me a little sadder. Everyone is so excited and ready to run their best and earn their medal, and I have to try to accept that no matter how hard I try I just won’t make it. It would be super easy to bow out and blame it on the car accident I was in on Tuesday, but I’m trying to use it as a learning experience. It still hurts a little though.

Tomorrow I start the drive to Houston. I’m going to be so happy to see my friends but I’m also preparing myself for disappointment. The best I can hope for is not to be carted off the course in the bus. See y’all on the flip side.

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Big, Meet Britches

I just realized that I haven’t done any sort of “Let’s wrap up 2018 and plan for 2019!” post yet, so let’s take a look backward. In fact, let’s go back further to September of 2017.

You may remember my trip to San Antonio and the second-fanciest hotel room I’ve ever been in. Probably not, though. I was hiding from the world in one of my eel holes for like a year. Anyway, that was around the time I was in the Every Rogue’s Heart box set. It was an awesome experience getting to know the ladies who have become my little author fam and the set did really well! They gave me hope, advice, and a place in the Enduring Legacy series. Thanks to them, I decided to do the thing and take the plunge into self publishing.

In March of 2018, I took a flying leap out the window and published the first book from Frozen Flame Press, Drowned History. I had no idea what I was doing other than having a nice cover and an ad on Facebook. I was so excited and so proud of myself for selling a couple of books, but I also learned how to set up preorders, format for print, and a whole slew of other things.

Fast forward to September of 2018 (and an even nicer hotel room!) where I was still losing my mind over the fact that The Search for Sam broke the top 100 in 20th Century Historical Romance. I had learned a bit more about promo since my first book, and the series helped get me some exposure too. I also participated in Facebook parties and made new friends and fans. I was riding high.

Then, there was October. Sales were down a little but still steady and what on earth should happen? I got accepted to an author event where I did my first book signing! I met even more new people, signed books, and had the joy of seeing my books on a real shelf at a real bookstore, something I was told rarely – if ever – happens for an indie author. I thought nothing could possibly get better than this. Surely this was as high as you got your first year of writing independently, right?

Hold my butterscotch tea.

My very first Christmas novel came out in November and did better than I could ever hope. I not only debuted at #1 on the Tudor Historical Romance new release list, I also made it to #4 in the overall category! I was so close to being a bestseller but I’m still floored at just how far up the charts I made it. I love this book and I’m so glad that other people seemed to love it too, if we are going by the reviews. I was so excited after everything that had happened in 2018 I was sure that nothing could make it better.

I submitted The Search for Sam to the Read Freely 50 Best Indie Books of 2018 competition, not expecting to win or even place. Like I’d said four or five times this year, there was no way an indie author with only a year of self-publishing under her belt would get anything. I still asked people to vote for me and promoted the contest, because I figured at least I’d get my name out there for next year, when I’d be a little more seasoned. Imagine my surprise when I came in at number 47!

Everything that happened in 2018 writing-wise felt like a huge surprise, and like it was happening to someone else. There was no way it could be happening to little ol’ me! It’s still a lot to take in.

So what’s on my plate for 2019? I’ve already put out my first full-length contemporary, a romantic suspense that is already getting great reviews. In April, I’m writing a bit of a follow-up to The Search for Sam that I’ll tell you more about in a few weeks. I’m planning on another contemporary in June, a pirate historical in the fall, and a super-secret holiday project! Stay tuned to my blog and social media to find out what, where, and when, and let’s hope that 2019 is just as good as 2018 – or maybe better!

Indie Ain’t for the Faint of Heart

A few days ago there was a tweet going around about how much artists made per book; the advance, agent’s fee, etc and showing what it all amounts to per month. You may have seen it. Basically, they get paid around $422/month and it really sucks. The thing that stuck with me, though, was that these are professionals. They have agents and publishers and contracts, and the tweeter was talking about why artists have to be “on” all the time. If they don’t show up, put out work, and keep their names on people’s lips they will quite literally die. So what about indie creatives?

Consider this:

A book takes anywhere from months to a year to write. Hours and hours of your life, and if you have a day job (like so many of us do), you have to balance that with a work schedule, attempt to sleep, and hope that you can have a life for an hour or two a day. For all that, you get to hear people tell you that $2.99 is too much to charge for an ebook.

An album takes months to a year to produce. Songs, music, studio time, production, all of that takes time and a lot of indie artists have day jobs as well. It also takes money, and gigs don’t net you much, if anything (my friend – as seen above – says you sometimes lose money if they make you pay for your booze). For that, people tell you that $10 is too expensive and that they can just stream it for free.

Game devs put in ridiculous hours, pour massive amounts of money into their games, attempt to get buzz, somehow have families and lives, only to be labeled as losers and have their games pirated only days after release. If they make money on a game it’s a miracle. Women in game development get death threats in addition to all this. It’s a disaster.

And oh dear, my indie artist friends. They put so much time into their art, suffering burnout at an alarming rate and learning new ways to stretch beans and rice. Some of them have gone to school and can draw the most beautiful, evocative comics and illustrations only to be told that $30 is way too much for a full body color commission that will take them hours.

The problem is that society sees creative careers as less than. Books, music, comics, and games are all seen as frivolous or a waste of time, so those of us who create the things that people enjoy aren’t doing a “real job.” Unless we hit the magic number and produce a commercial hit, then we are suddenly Authors or Rockstars. Until then, we are just little girls and boys playing with our words, paints, and songs and we should be grateful for whatever we’re given. Which is almost never enough to even live on, but if we have a day job we obviously aren’t serious about our work. If we aren’t starving artists, are we really making art?

When I first wrote The Detective’s Brother, I had this idea that I’d write one book a year and that’d be great. Then I learned the reason that Harlequin puts out ten-plus books a month is because genre writers have to write and publish often, or we get buried. There’s the Catch-22 of the idea that anyone who produces multiple books a year can’t possibly be putting out a quality product as well, but if we put out one book a year no one will ever know who we are. At Any Cost will be my fifth book released on my own through Frozen Flame Press, and I have put hours and days and months into it. Thanks to my job I can continue writing and promoting my books but sometimes I do wish I could sleep a little more.

I’m fairly sure that if you’re reading this you support indie books, music, comics, and games, so I’ll leave you with the one easy thing you can do to help artists that doesn’t cost a thing: write us a review. Talk us up to your friends. Retweet, share, and ask your library to carry a book or album. Even if you just drop an indie creator a note that says “hey, you’re the bee’s knees” it can make us feel like a superstar.

One final thing – the picture is of a show I attended recently by my favorite band. They’re called Calhoun and are a local Fort Worth band that I’ve been listening to for lucky 13 years, and I am appalled that they’re not actual superstars yet. Go forth and buy some of their music. Start off with an EP and get obsessed from there. Here’s the iTunes link but they’re also available everywhere else you want to look. Paperweights

Oh, and you should definitely preorder At Any Cost while you’re at it. How can you beat $0.99? You can’t!

Available everywhere!

“I’m a saint so I’m used to never getting paid.”

– Calhoun

Becca the Lab Rat

If you follow my Twitter you may have seen that I got a new job! I’m excited to report that after 16 years of working in clinics (and in one case a teaching hospital), I have traded my scrubs for a lab coat and gone to work at a reference lab.

It’s been an adjustment. I really did love the clinic I worked at, so there were lots of tearful goodbyes and hugs. The Sunday before my first day at the lab was so strange, knowing that I would be going somewhere completely different the next day. It made me incredibly sad but I know this is the best move for me.

The adjustment continues as now I have a 45-60 minute commute between Fort Worth and Dallas. I used to be able to roll out of bed, throw on my scrubs, and be at work in 10 minutes. Now I’m packing my lunch the night before, making a smoothie in the morning and heading out. I’m not about to sugarcoat the fact that the traffic is awful. In fact, I’m fairly certain that 5:00 traffic on 121 violates the Geneva Convention. I have my podcasts and am branching out into audiobooks, so it’s at least informative, and I can now drive to work without needing my GPS.

The lab is ridiculously busy, so the days just fly by and right now I’m working directly with my boss. I was nervous, but he said that I am doing really well, I’m picking things up quickly and he’s glad to have me. Things are a-ok.

Plus, the pathologists buy Starbucks sometimes.

The Death Nut Challenge

There are times in your life when you just have to make a bad decision. At least, what some would call a bad decision. Some (most) of those involve pepper sauce. If it’s spicy, I want it. I once ate so much straight habanero sauce that I basically pepper-sprayed myself. And that my friends, is where the Death Nut Challenge comes in.

Once again, we can thank Richard for this. He sent me a message with a picture of this box, asking if I was in. Seeing as how I always wanted to try the One Chip Challenge, I was most definitely in. What is the One Chip Challenge? I’m gonna turn this one over to Dan Ryckert.

I’m proud to say that I’m a little more Daniel Bryan than Dan Ryckert in my tolerance of spicy things, as was evidenced by the results of the challenge. Charlotte had told us from the beginning that this was a bad idea, and Richard’s sister (who wanted to be there for the debacle) questioned the decision to do it before we were trapped in a tiny plane. We cared not for such dire predictions as we cracked open the box, got out cups of Blue Bell ice cream, and prepared for battle with the hottest nuts ever.

According to the rules, you had to wait 90 seconds after each nut, with no drinks or food of any kind to dampen the spice. I knew it was going to hurt, but I am a total bro when it comes to extreme spice. My favorite wings to eat – with Richard, surprise surprise – were the Wings n’ More Super Caliente wings in College Station. And so we began.

Peanut #1 was ghost pepper with Carolina Reaper powder. Not as spicy as I expected, honestly. In fact, I could see myself snacking on these in front of the TV or while writing.

Peanut #2 was a bit spicier with Scorpion Butch-T peppers and Reaper powder. Still manageable, though I did notice a bit more of a tingle in my mouth. It was my first experience with the Scorpion, and they’re a bit sweet, it seems.

Peanut #3 was Carolina Reaper peppers, Chocolate Bhutia, and more Reaper powder. Also my first time with the Bhutia and I definitely tasted the chocolate. I was also feeling some serious burning on my tongue. Weirdly, the burning was on the sides of my tongue and not the center. It was at this time that Richard’s son started to heckle his dad. He kept up a steady stream of trash talk through the rest of the challenge, which was hilarious because it took my mind off the next nut.

Peanut #4 was when things started to get real. Carolina Reaper Peppers, 7-Pot Douglah, 7-Pot Brain Strain, and the ever-present Carolina Reaper powder. It was at this point that my eyes started to water and Kleenex was delivered. Richard had begun to sweat. It was extremely difficult at this point to resist the siren song of the ice cream before me but I held strong, knowing the end was near.

Peanut #5, AKA The Death Nut, was Pepper-X peppers, Carolina Reaper peppers, Moruga Scorpion peppers, all rolled in what looked like a quarter inch of Reaper powder. I threw it in my mouth and started to chew. Friends, that was the spiciest thing I have ever eaten apart from some homemade pepper sauce from an Ethiopian restaurant. My eyes were watering more, my nose was running, and my face was bright red. Swallowing the thing was difficult and my stomach gave me a grumble of disapproval as I waited the full 90 seconds before digging into my ice cream like it contained the secret to alchemy.

It was almost 30 minutes before my mouth stopped burning. I took an antihistamine in the hopes it would counteract my runny nose, and Richard’s sister freaked out every time my hands got close to my eyes. Before we got to the Mediterranean restaurant, though, I was already thinking of the nuts with fondness and Richard’s son proclaimed me the winner of the Death Nut Challenge.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t have any digestive side effects from this little adventure. I expected to be in a fair amount of pain the next day, but my stomach reacted worse to the habanero pepper-spray incident. I think I’ll do it again with Version 2.0 just so I can Snapchat it. Because that’s exactly the kind of crazy you can expect when it comes to me.

If you want to try your own Death Nut Challenge, you can buy version 1.0 here  or version 2.0 here for the princely sum of $15 and a nominal number of tastebuds.

Becca Don’t Fly – Tiny Plane Edition

img_4722Last week I was very sick. I started feeling bad Monday afternoon and swore up and down that I wasn’t sick. Tuesday I went to work and attempted to stay in spite of feeling like death. The doc I was working with called the practice manager and got the green light to send me home. Checkmate, I guess.

I spent three days at home, alternately having a sore throat and having a fever. I went and got antibiotics, which upset my stomach, but I was determined to make it to the Houston Half.

While I was in bed trying to will my sickness to leave my body, I got a text from my friend Richard who is literally the one person in my life with the power to make me do questionable things. He asked if I wanted him to come up in his plane and pick me up for the race. I weighed the options of being terrified of flying versus not wanting to drive 4 hours when I felt awful, and agreed to being picked up.

img_4709That is how I ended up sitting at a very small airport on Saturday afternoon with my gear bag, my hands shaking and my eyes darting from side to side. When my buddy pulled up in his plane, I was a bit alarmed. It was smaller than I expected and very delicate-looking. I was further alarmed when I saw it had a propeller. Richard threw the gear and my computer in the back seat while I put my seatbelt on very tightly and made sure the door was locked. He fitted me with a headset and checked all the little switches and knobs, then we taxied out while he told me his plan for plane failure. I thought I couldn’t get more alarmed, but then we took off.

I have never been a fan of takeoff or landing in any plane, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were both going to die in a mildly fiery crash, so the Andrew Bird song “Fiery Crash” kept playing in my head. We got into the air safely, though, and once it had been confirmed that I wasn’t going to pass out I was on my way to Houston.

Ascending to 5500 feet was a little scary, but once we were at cruising altitude I could relax a little. I still became alarmed when he got a drink of water but I’m just a nervous person. It was really interesting being in the cockpit for a change. Listening to the COM chatter was also interesting, though I had a terrifying moment when a skydiving pilot had his finger on the button and was yelling “everybody out!” That is not something I want to hear when my pilot is fiddling with knobs. Not even a little.

Watching the sun go down was actually really awesome. I was a little afraid that if I looked too far to the right I’d tip the plane over but it didn’t stop me from taking pictures of the sunset. I’ve never been in a plane where I was able to see so much of the ground as we moved over it. Usually we’re above the clouds so I read or type the entire time. We’re also usually in a bigger plane so the little shifts from the wind aren’t scaring the hell out of me, but it’s a trade off.

img_4714When we got within visual range of Houston, it was a pretty cool sight. This may be one of my favorite pictures from the flight. Landing was actually less scary than in a commercial jet (apart from when we had to turn to access the runway), because I kept thinking “we could totally survive a crash from this height.” Richard apologized for the bumpy landing but I thought it wasn’t bad. I didn’t feel the need to get hammered, so it was all good. It definitely was better than my last terrifying flight because this time everything was being explained to me and I got to listen to updates from the tower, and honestly I have more confidence in Richard’s abilities as a pilot because he is literally the smartest person I know.

The flight home was a little better, with the exception of takeoff because when all is said and done I’m still a huge weenie. There was a little more wind so I had a few frantic moments, but for the most part I enjoyed it.

img_4724I have a feeling that if I flew more in the tiny plane I would be a lot better about it, but for now let’s just be glad that I didn’t have a panic attack, and that my boss didn’t tell me about his terrifying experience in a small plane before I left. Someone at work said I had a lot of balls riding in the tiny plane. I have to answer that with a big ol’ NOPE. Also good to know for next time? I can totally bring booze on the tiny plane!

Leaves Book Signing

img_4680I had an amazing time at the book signing on Saturday! Leaves is a cute little tea shop in the Near Southside area of Fort Worth, which is becoming more and more artsy and fun. I was excited to sign books but also excited to meet other local authors.

My table mates were Michelle Marlow, Wanda Means, and Mike Baldwin, an eclectic group if ever there was one; multi-genre, memoir, children’s book, and historical romance. Yup, I’m the nerd.

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I was relieved that people showed up and bought my books. As a newer author (with anxiety) I’m always terrified of being rejected but everyone seemed really nice! I sold all the copies of Sam that they had on the shelf and they had to restock. Which, awesome.

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Leaves also has some of the best tea ever. They gave all the authors one free tea of our choice and after smelling Wanda’s butterscotch tea there was no question about which one we’d all pick. As a sweet tea enthusiast, I rarely drink unsweetened tea but this one didn’t even need sweetener! It was very butterscotch’s and nice, and I would love to have more. It would probably be fantastic as a latte!

I didn’t have room to set up all my stuff but the most important stuff was on display, which was really all that mattered. I was expecting to just display The Search for Sam but this worked fine. I felt a little over-prepared armed with my promo cards, business cards and business card holder, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

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At the end of our time, there was a book reading by the other authors and while I am far too nervous to do a reading, I enjoyed hearing the others. In fact, I bought Wanda’s memoir and subscribed to her podcast because I was so blown away by her reading. Look for a review soon because…wow.

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All in all, I had a great time. I’m looking forward to going again next year if they’ll have me, and maybe the Fort Worth BookFest too!