My Thoughts on Joanna Penn’s Lessons Learns from Her 500 Creative Penn Postcast Episodes (Part 1) (A Post for Writers)

I thought I’d discuss this today. I love Joanna Penn, and I enjoy her Creative Penn podcast. I don’t get to listen to every episode these days, but she was instrumental in helping me get started with indie publishing back in 2009. She’s also a very lovely person. I’ve had the pleasure of actually meeting her, though it was all online. Someday, I hope to attend a writing event and get to meet her face-to-face.

Joanna’s Lesson #1: Write what you love.

My thoughts: Is it any wonder why I enjoy her as much as I do? If you’ve been on this blog for any length of time, you know I have ditched the write to market mindset and have fully embraced the writing for passion one instead.

When your heart isn’t in something, it is much harder to write it. Even writing from a place of passion has its problems. I can know what comes next in the story and I can be excited about the story, but there are days where the motivation to write isn’t there. I’ll sit down and try for 250 words. Usually, once I get past the 250 mark, the motivation starts to come to me. There are times, however, when it’s like pulling teeth the entire time I’m getting those 250 words out, and when that happens, I do other things for the day. I’m not of the mindset that we must write every single day. I think that’s a faulty mindset because the brain needs to take a break from time to time. Physically, we need sleep. Since we allow our bodies time to rest, we should let our minds have rest, too.

Also, I think writing the kind of books you want to read is the perfect reason to write. When you’re the one in control of the story (or let’s say your characters are in “control”), you will produce something unique that no one else will. This is why even if you were to select 100 authors and give them the same scenario (for example: “a mail order bride steps off the train and finds out the man she came to marry died the other day”), you’ll get 100 different ways of telling that story. There are many ways that specific idea can go. You have tons of variables to work with. The main characters’ personalities, what happens when she finds out the man is dead, secondary characters, and the conflict will all build a unique story.

I started writing romance because I had a specific book in mind to read but couldn’t find it. I’ve enjoyed reading romance since I was in the 8th grade. I mostly read teen romances, but I read some adult ones, too. Through college, I focused on my studies, so I didn’t get as much reading in as I used to, but after I was married and my kids were still all in diapers or pull ups (I had them all back-to-back like stair steps), I had the urge to return to reading romances. After a while, I began to want an author who kept all sex within marriage. I found one, but I realized I wanted certain plots and character types, too. So I broke down and started writing the kind stories I most wanted to read. I never expected anyone else to want to read them. I uploaded them to Amazon because I eventually wanted to buy a Kindle. Well, the rest just snowballed from there. I never imagined that I’d end up where I am. But it all started out with writing what I loved. And it continues because I keep writing what I love. Writing what you love means you will get through the ups and downs of the indie publishing business. Believe me, there is a lot of drama with publishing.

Joanna’s Lesson #2: It’s okay to suck in your first draft. Editing will turn your book into a finished product.

My thoughts: This is one thing I had trouble grasping when I was doing the first draft blog back in the 2010-2012 (I think those were the years). A couple of people didn’t seem to realize the first draft wasn’t supposed to be perfect. Most people did understand that. But there were a couple who made it a point to tell me the flaws in the story. It actually killed my enthusiasm for the blog. I felt like I had people with their red pens out ready to circle all of my errors. These days, I prefer to keep the first draft to myself.

Now, I didn’t stop writing the first draft posts on that blog because of the critics. I actually quit because that was the first time I ran into someone/some people who stole three of my ebooks and published them as their own. It’s much easier to go to a retailer with a takedown notice for copyright infringement if the book has already been published than to prove ownership over a first draft. But I think it was just a matter of time before I would have shut down that blog anyway. No matter how much I told these people I was doing a first draft and that it wasn’t supposed to be perfect, they still insisted on playing critique partner. If I wanted a critique partner, I would have asked for it. If I wanted to write for a critique group, I would write to market. But I want to write for passion, and that being the case, I am not inviting anyone to come in and tell me what to do with my story while I’m writing it. I know that sets a lot of writing-to-market authors on edge, but my reason for writing is not driven by sales. I want sales, of course, but my primary reason for writing is to produce the book I want to read years from now. To do that, it has to be authentic to my vision, and yes, I’m willing to give up on more sales to make that happen.

As a final note: perfection is a myth. No book will ever be perfect. And no book will ever please every single person on this planet. Just do your best and move on.

Joanna’s Lesson #3: We are independent authors. We create and license intellectual property assets.

My thoughts: This is why copyright protection is so important. This is why it matters if a scammer/pirate/thief takes a book and steals it for their own gain. The author is not compensated when these people come in and steal something they did not create.

Now, if someone were to work out a contractual arrangement where money is given in exchange for creative intellectual property, then that is fine. For example, I paid Stephannie Beman for the full creative intellectual rights to the Wyoming Series. We created a contract, signed it, and now the characters, the world, and everything in it, belongs to me. I can do whatever I want with the series. I can make ebooks, paperbacks, audiobooks, foreign versions, and more. That is a legal and moral way to conduct business in a way that protects the author’s copyright. Publishers work in the same way. Authors sign a contract granting publishers a certain amount of rights to their stories. Some publishers only want ebooks, but some want more than that, and this is all spelled out in the contract the authors sign.

Now, if someone decides they want to take a book they find and republish it as their own, create an audiobook with it, create a foreign version of it, TV/movie script, etc without getting the author’s permission, this is theft. It is wrong. I don’t care if the person stealing this book puts it up for free. If the author did not give their permission, this is a violation of copyright law.

That all said, creative intellectual property (like a book) can be broken up in many ways. It can be an ebook, paperback, and audiobook. This can be broken into different languages. This is why you can’t use the same ISBN (for example) for a Kindle (ebook for Amazon), an Epub file (ebook for B&N, Kobo, and Apple) a paperback book, and an audiobook. Each different version needs its own identification number because it is a different version.

For a more information, be sure to listen to Joanna’s video up above at the 19:30 mark.


Joanna gives three more lessons, and this post is already longer than I planned. I’m going to divide this post up into two parts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coming Out of the Political Closet

Quick note: this is the only post I intend to make on this blog about my political views. This blog is dedicated to my books and writing-related issues, and I plan to keep it that way.

If politics isn’t your thing, please skip.

That disclaimer aside, here we go:

I have been bogged down by fear for a long time because I know it’s not popular to be a Trump supporter. It’s popular support other people, but he’s not one of them. But it’s true. I am a Trump supporter. I voted for him in 2016, and I plan to vote for him in 2020. I understand why people don’t like him, but I do.

I’ve decided to come out with this because I’ve been stuck in fear for the past few years, and I need to get past that. I’ve been afraid that people will no longer want to read my books. I’ve been afraid that I’ll lose friends I’ve made online. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh (yeah, I like him, too) this past week, and he said that the majority of conservatives are afraid to speak up. Then I’ve been watching videos from people like Tim Pool and Karlyn Borysenko (whom I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything but enjoy the perspective they bring to the table). These three make valid points on the importance of speaking up. I’ve decided this is the time I’m going to do it. I’m worried for the future of the United States. I don’t want to see it go in the same direction countries like Cuba and Venezuela did. I like the US Constitution. No country is perfect, but freedom of speech, freedom to peacefully assembly, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, and law and order are things I value. I want these things to pass down to my children and their children.

The country is in serious trouble. People are divided (and some can argue that I’m attributing to that, which I’m not trying to do). Respect has flown out the window. I see the way some people talk to others, whether it be online or in person, and I am seeing how quickly things are unraveling. Some people aren’t even trying to be nice anymore. They’re screaming or throwing or hitting, and that is terrible. We are in a spiritual war. I study the Bible, and I see a lot of parallels between the nations that fell in the Old Testament and the things that are happening in this country today.

The thing that strikes me as odd, however, is how global the unrest seems to be. This puts a different aspect to things. I didn’t grow up believing that there was anything like the “end times” where things come together toward a one world government where everyone is forced to take some kind of mark in order to buy something. I came to believe in the Biblical end-times prophecy when I was in my 20s. I live in a small area, and right now, there are places where I can’t use cash. I’m also told I have to wear a mask in order to buy something in a store. I don’t know if we’re about to head into the end times scenario mentioned in the Book of Revelation, but I can see how that will all come into play. It used to be theoretical. Now it’s realistic.

I don’t know how things will go. A lot of this depends on prayer and what God’s people are going to do. I believe that President Trump is the best candidate to preserve the US Constitution. That’s why I’m voting for him.

I don’t get “messages” from God. I read the Bible, and I use that as my compass. There is an incidence, though, that might have been a time when I got a message from God. I had a feeling back in my very late 20s/very early 30s that the rapture was going to happen in my lifetime and that it was going to happen sooner than I expected. That “sooner” part was weird to me, but since this virus broke out across the world. I keep thinking everything is happening too soon. Things I never imagined last year are happening right before my eyes. Now, I don’t know if what I felt back then was really a “word from God” or not. I am not a prophet. This could have just been a random feeling that came upon me. I don’t know. I’d like to be right because I don’t want to be around for all of this, but if I’m wrong, it means I am wrong. God is always right, and the one place that is trustworthy is the Bible.

Anyway, I’ve been in a lot of turmoil since March over whether I should say something or just keep quiet, but over and over again, I keep getting this feeling that if I am going to be able to overcome my fears and live by faith, I need to come clean. And now that I have, I can move on.

If you decide that I’m crazy or that you don’t want to deal with me anymore, I understand. I’m not going to argue or debate with anyone. If you want to have a sincere discussion with me, I’m open to that. But I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of name calling and personal attacks.

I’ll be going back to my usual blog posts from now on where I focus on my books and writing-related stuff. On Facebook, I still value that platform for the writing groups, so I’ll stick with writing and book stuff there, too. I have decided I need an outlet to express myself spiritually and politically, and I’ve chosen MeWe and Parler to do that. I put all that information in the “Where to Find Me” page on this blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | 44 Comments

The Earl’s Wallflower Bride Trivia

It’s long overdue, but I’m finally doing a trivia post. Today, I’m diving into The Earl’s Wallflower Bride.

The idea for this book originally came to me while I was writing His Wicked Lady. I introduced Lady Iris in a scene where the hero and heroine from His Wicked Lady went to a dinner party at Lord Steinbeck’s residence. In it, the heroine warns Lady Iris that Lord Steinbeck didn’t return her affections. Lady Iris decided to take the heroine’s advice. Naturally, I HAD to match Lord Steinbeck and Lady Iris up after this because of the one thing each book needs: conflict. That’s why by the time Lady Iris realizes Lord Steinbeck was her match, she wasn’t happy about it.

Lord Steinbeck is probably the stuffiest character I’ve ever created, but I didn’t realize the extent of his stuffiness until I wrote this book. Because of this, if there’s a character who pops up who in my Regencies now who thinks all of the rules in London are unnecessary, I’ll try to either bring Lord Steinbeck in or make a reference to him, and these characters are often making fun of Lord Steinbeck. At first, I thought Lord Roderick (hero of The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife) was going to be the standard of stuffiness, but Lord Steinbeck officially took his place in The Earl’s Wallflower Bride.

Iris got her interest in finances from me. She got her love of collecting old money from one of my children who went through a phase where he kept a binder of old currency from the United States and Canada.

In this book, I really thought Lord Steinbeck was going to end up creating another gentleman’s club where gentlemen like Lord Steinbeck would be safe from having to associate with cads on a regular basis. The story, however, never went that way because none of the other characters would have supported this move. In the end, Lord Steinbeck remained at White’s and is still there to this day. (About 3/4 of my books end up differently than I think they will when I start them. This is a classic example.)

I introduced Miss Celia Barlow and Miss Loretta Bachman in this story. They were there to represent an example of how most people in London thought of Iris as a wallflower. That is why they were so mean to her. Celia’s brother was Lord Worsley, and I had already slotted him to be the hero for the next Regency series I was going to write. The secondary purpose of having Loretta there was to hint to the reader that Lord Worsley needed to do everything possible to get out of being trapped into a marriage with her. To me, writing often involves weaving in snippets of stuff relating to the characters and other book plots because I love it when people pick up on these “Easter eggs”.

I love all the bickering that goes on at White’s between the scandalous cads and the rule-abiding gentlemen, so I’ll bring it up whenever I can. And my two personal favorite cads are Mr. Christopher Robinson and Lord Edon. This is the only reason I had Christopher pester Lord Steinbeck in this book. It did nothing to advance the plot. It was just there for my amusement.

When I first introduced Opal, I planned for her to be just as bad as Byron, but as I continued writing her character, I thought it would be more interesting if Opal was only pretending to be insane because she was terrified of her brother and mother.

My favorite scene in this book is when Byron realized his mother poisoned him right after he arranged it for her to fall down the stairs. My mind kept going back to the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe while writing the scene. I know I write romance, but it’s always fun to throw in a highly suspenseful scene in a book from time to time. I find it strengthens my skill as a writer.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think every funeral I have in a story is on a cloudy day.

At the end of this book, I was afraid I’d lose the flavor of Opal’s character, so I started the Marriage by Fate Series even though I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write the rest of it for a while. That’s why the release date of Book 1 in the Marriage by Fate Series is so far apart from the rest of the books in that series. My focus was spent on the Marriage by Bargain Series instead. I was also finishing up the Pioneer Series and the Chance at Love Series during this time.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments