Monday, March 3, 2014

The largest organ in the body...because I'm vain like that.

Very rarely do I plug other people/businesses, because I don't want to lose credibility with my readers and followers.  So when I do decide to give someone a shout out-I do my homework first.

I also know how hard it is to strike out on your own, so I love to help out when I can.  I'm also a big supporter of independent businesses, because let's face it, the big chains make enough money by just simply being.  Usually for me, that means supporting indie authors because, well, I'm an indie author.  This time it's about something totally different, but still very important to me.

Let me tell you a secret...I'm vain.  Honestly, who isn't to an extent.  I want to look pretty.  Every girl does.  I want smooth, clear skin, long eyelashes, big lips, and white teeth, just as we all do.  I'm lucky enough to have had fairly good skin my entire life, but now that I'm in my mid 20's I've noticed that my skin is becoming more and more temperamental.  I have to make sure I'm using an all natural cleanser, moisturizing daily, and exfoliating on a regular basis or things just don't look the same.  I think everyone knows exactly what I'm talking about.  I may be a typical writer who lives in her yoga pants and looks vaguely homeless on a regular basis, but damn it my skin looks good.  LOL

Like other girls, I'm always looking for that miracle formula to make my skin feel like silk and look like sunshine (queue poetic music).  Guess what ladies, I discovered something yesterday.  It's called Arbonne.  It's an all natural plant based product with just about everything you need to keep your body beautiful and healthy on the outside and in.  Honestly, how this little gem has made it past my notice for this long is just beyond me.

If my life weren't so damn crazy right now I'd be planning a party ASAP so that I could get all the deals on these goodies.  As it is, I'm shopping as we speak for a skin care line to start right away.  I want this now.  GET ON MY SKIN, Arbonne!

So, if your vain like me, go to their website and take a look around.  If you want to hear some awesome deals, or just get a first person perspective, send a message to Janel Shackleford.   She's a fabulous Arbonne specialist who will help you get your hands on some of this sweetness.  If you're interested in hosting a party to get even more deals and discounts, let her know!

Afterall, your skin is the largest organ in your body.  It's probably a good idea to take care of it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Let's have an Un-Pity-Party.

I'm going to get on my soap box for a minute.

The amount of social media posts litering the internet concerning the hardships in the literary industry in relation to success, saturation and unprofessionalism are clogging up my feed.  Everyone is upset about something.  The traditional pubs are upset with Amazon and indie authors for the saturation of sub par, McDonald's brand drivel that a bunch of sad and lonely housewives are currently attempting to sell off as literature.  By the same token, indie authors are angry at the big five because they like to sit up in their ivory towers, twirling scepters, talking to snakes and other villainous things like that.  Well let me just say, in the words of Jennifer L Armentrout, stop the drama, Llama!  Or is it-llama drama?  Whatever, you get my point.

Here's something everyone needs to get through their heads.  Seriously, write this on your bathroom mirror in Harlot #3, cuz it's important.  I'm going to blow your mind.  Are you ready?

Okay...Here it is...

Being an author is hard, yo. 

That's it.  There's no rhyme or reason to it.  It's not black and white.  There is no yellow brick road to get you to emerald city.  Complaining that Sara Jane is more successful than you and you are obviously a far superior writer, so therefore her success must be some big giant mistake or conspiracy to keep you down...well it's madness I tell you!  There are so many variables, so many different factors that play into being successful that trying to compete with everyone is like trying to step inbetween blades of grass.  You can't do it!

To digress on that subject a bit, I want to say that even if you feel Sara Jane is a bad writer and doesn't deserve the lime light, you should probably just shut your trap keep it to yourself.  Go bitch to the bestie and then leave it be.  Trust me when I say that the readers will tell her exactly how they feel.  If someone who reads her books doesn't like them, well, they will have their say just as much as her biggest fan will.  Author to author bashing is just lame, and blaming each other for your lack of success won't do anything good for either one of your careers.  In fact, it's probably going to do the opposite.  If you start feeding the beast with negativity, all you will fuel is contempt for readership.  You're totally negating all of those wonderful feels that people get from books.  Reading is an escape from the rigors of life.  People are constantly on the grind in their everyday life.  They don't want to have to battle it out in fantasy land too.  Let your characters do the drama dance.  That's what they are there for.

Saturation?  Um...I'm not wet yet.  (pun intended)

Let me ask you a question.  What happens when a famous (or non famous for that matter) chocolatier makes the most exquisite chocolate anyone has ever tasted?  People go and buy their chocolate right?  They rave about it.  It get's put in the newspapers.  Pretty soon, everyone wants chocolate.  It becomes an addiction.  Yes, people have always loved chocolate, but before now, they only ate it every once in a while.  Now, thanks to this new chocolatier, everyone is buying chocolate all the time.  Then, someone else who also loves to make candy decides to try out a new chocolate recipe and sell it in their town.  I think you know where I'm going with this, right?

Everyone has diabetes. 

Just kidding.

What I'm trying to say is that just because one person is selling a million books a day, doesn't mean they are taking over the industry.  People are going to read their book, love it, and then guess what...They are going to want more.  And more.  And MORE.  Their success is a GOOD thing.  People writing more and more books every day is a GOOD thing. 

I have to go off on a teeny tiny tangent with this.  Author Jamie McGuire-*everyone screams*-yes, you all know her.  Well, she's posted several times about how newbies are using her page to spam her readers and plug in their own books.  Let's get one thing straight.  Chocolatier #2 will NEVER, under any circumstances, march on over to Chocolatier #1's store and start handing out flyers.  No...just...No.  Don't do it.  Not cool.  Success that is built on the back of another's will never last anyway.  Make it to the top on your own merits.  That's how you stay in the game.

I also read a blog post about how JK Rowling should just stop writing if she cares at all for the publishing world and a bunch of other crap.  I won't even share the link or who wrote it because that's exactly what it is.  Crap.  JK Rowling is not, nor could she ever be to blame for the lack of success of all the no name authors in the world.  You are totally shooting yourself in the face, dude.  Maybe, if you focused more on your career instead of analysing and critisizing other's, you would be doing better.

*I do realize that since I have yet to make it to the top of the writing industry, this might all sound like the contrived rantings of a writer with too much time on their hands.  So be it.  I've been extremely successful in my other career and other aspects of my life by following these principals, and I'm friends with enough more successful authors to believe in what I'm preaching.*

If you feel that the market has too much of one thing and not enough of another-go write something different.  This is a big pet peeve of mine.  I hear authors and readers complain about how there is only one type of book out there right now.  And lesbihonest...I'm talking about the Smutty-Mcsmuttertins.  What drives me bonkers is that these people are writing or reading these books too!  They are supporting the fad they are currently bitching about. 

Now... I'm all for a good smutty book.  I have a kindle overflowing with them.  Do I personally think that our market is saturated with them?  No.  What I do think, is at this point in time, that is what is selling the best.  People are snapping those suckers up the second they hit the shelves or online stores.  There are plenty other books out there with more to them then sex and they are fantastic.  I want to see those books rise to the top of the charts.  What am I doing about it?  I'm buying those books.  I'm currently writing one of those books. 

Just a small ripple in the pond, but     insert motivational quote here    .

Don't become disillusioned with the industry.

This goes back to the whole, "being an author is hard" bit.  Most people have to get doused with muddy street water before they ride off into the sunset.  Every romance novel ever written can attest to that.  Most people blame the industry in all the ways mentioned above, when really there is a completely different reason for their lack of success.

Just to prove it, I'll self depricate myself a bit. 

I've been pretty open about the fact that I jacked up monumentally with my debut.  Bombed is a pretty good word for it.  I thought I had my shit together, when really...I just had a bunch of shit.  LOL

I could have blamed readers for not buying my book.  After all, Fifty Shades of Grey made everyone sex crazy and that's all anyone is reading right now.  Right?  I could also blame the big five for not giving me a shot.  I could have blamed Harry Potter and his precocious band of buddies for foiling my plot to stardome.

But I didn't.  I took a step back and dug deeper into my actions, my writing, my approach and discovered that I was soley responsible for my lack of sales and readers. 


For real though, I got a LOT wrong.  I thought I could edit my own work...WRONG.  I thought I could design my own cover...WRONG.  I thought I could wait to market and promote until after I released...WRONG. 

That doesn't even cover it.

I've learned from my mistakes.

Right now, I'm working on a book that I have high hopes for.  It's going to be a game changer for me and I'm busting my ass off on this baby.  I'm having it professionally edited, I'm hiring a cover artist and I have a solid marketing plan and time frame.  Even with all of this going for me, I'm dealing with two divorces in the family-simultaneously, construction on two of our houses, chronic illness in myself,  possible cancer in my sister, issues with child care, deployments and military training.  I have a full time job as well on top of my writing.  The skies litterally opened up and took a big dump on the Herrera clan.  It's delaying and blocking my writing process, is a burden financially and just downright sucks sometimes, but I refuse to let it stop me.  I'll get this book finished and continue on with my plan.  Hopefully, with a bit of luck and word of mouth Hard of Heart will sell better than my other two books.

Notice, I didn't say it would rise to the top of the charts and make me a millionaire. I said it would do better. Progression, people. Not overnight success.

Guess what... None of what I just shared with you is the industry's fault.  It's all me, baby!  It's also LIFE.  If more people would recognize that the hardest part about being an author-is the fact that we're human beings with trials and hardships who make mistakes, well there would probably be a lot more successful authors out there. 


Time to blow this popsicle stand.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking back, while moving forward.

2013 and I have a love hate relationship.

It had it's moment's of absolute greatness and the lowest of suck.  You know what though, that's life.

The highest point in 2013, as most of you can probably guess, is that I self-published my first book Sapphire Universe.  I wrote this book on a whim.  I've always loved writing lyrics and sayings, and I kept a journal my whole life, but I never knew I could write a whole book.  I've always been a bit of a daydreamer, and loved creating stories in my head, so it should have been a given, but sometimes the best things in life sneak up on you.  My heart was in my stomach when I finally decided to self-publish SU, and I never expected to sell more than a few copies. I could have had only ten people read it and I would have been tickled pink.  Really, who would buy a book from some no name author in Wyoming.  I mean, most people don't even know where Wyoming is on the map, and if they do, they think that we all ride around on horses and our streets are made of dirt.  There aren't computers or internet there!!

...No seriously, I was actually asked all those things once. 

Every High has it's low.

The low to that high is that I learned how naiive I was about the literary world.  I went about it all the wrong way, because I really didn't know any better.  I researched my little fingers off, but in the end, I guess it's all a matter of experience.  I didn't have the budget to pay a cover artist or an editor, but I thought, hard can it be to edit your own work and make a decent cover.  Well...let's just say that from now on I'll let the professionals handle it.  I know that there are some amazingly talented authors out there who can whip out a bestselling cover and edit their own work to literary perfection with no sweat at all-I'm not one of them.  I mean...I just want to write.

Yea, I was a Noobie...I made Noobie oopsies, but I have no regrets.

I will say this much, despite the mistakes I made in the beginning, I was genuine about my writing and my goals.  I wrote a story that came to me authentically, I fell in love with my characters and I wanted to share their story with others.  I had no grand notions of becoming a best-selling author with my first book.  I didn't expect to sell 15k copies every week, but I also didn't care either way.  At some point, after all three books in the Universe Series are finished, I'll make Sapphire Universe free forever.

My only goal was to have at least one person connect with my characters.  I wanted to bring out someone's emotions.  If I could just capture the heart of one person, and teach them a few small lessons on life and love, then I would be happy.  I like to think I reached that goal.

I've grown a lot as an author and a person in the last year.  I had the immense pleasure to meet and befriend some truly incredible people who have changed my life in so many ways. 

Where there is heartbreak, there is love.  Where there is strife, there is strength.

On the other side of that coin, I've experienced a lot of heartbreak and some very large bumps in the road.  My family has been through the ringer this year.  It's no secret that I'm extremely close to my family.  My sister and I married twins, we live two blocks apart, and my parent's house is just one more street away.  Between legal issues, health problems, divorce, and deployments overseas each and every person in my life has been tried and tested at every turn.  Their pain is my pain, and we've definitely had our share.  Maybe it was just our turn since we've always been so blessed.  Either way, it's happened, and I'm happy to say that we're on our way back up.  I think 2014 is going to bring a lot of good things to my clan of people :)

Due to all the challenges I faced this last year, writing was forced to the backseat.  I still managed-barely-to write and publish two books, but I didn't get to experience it the way I wanted.  I didn't have time to put 100% of my focus on writing, marketing, and connecting with my readers like I wanted to.  Writing is very personal to me, so it's important to that I have the time and freedom to give it the love and attention it needs.  That's all going to change in 2014.

What's coming in 2014, and my long term goals.

I'm currently writing Hard of Heart, a love story about a young war veteran with "PTSD."  This story is my favorite so far, and very near and dear to my heart.  I know that it's risky considering that the market right now is alpha male millionaires and tatted up rockers, but it's a story that needs to be told.  Despite all of that, I still think that people will love this book.  I'm nervous and excited and challenged-and that's the rush that every author strives towards, so in a way, I'm already successful.

I still work my full time job with the State of Wyoming, but I don't see that changing any time soon.  My goal is that within ten years or after I've published a good 15-20 books, I will be able to quit my job and write full time.  I got a little girl with a giant's appetite to feed, so I can't do the poor writer's gig.  :P


I'm one lucky SOB.  Well...actually I guess it's DOB, but people usually acquaint that with Date Of Birth, not Daughter of a B**ch...and my mom's not a B word...never mind, you get my point.  I'm doing what I love to do, and it's something that I never in my wildest dreams would have thought possible.  I have an amazing family who loves and supports me even when their world is collapsing around them.  I have the most amazing readers who continue to buy my books even though they are a bit off the radar and don't fit into the popular mold.  This is the most wonderful feeling.  I'm a bit of a rebel, and even though I love to read the books that are currently taking the literary world by storm, I like to write a bit against the grain.  SU and DU weren't exactly revelations or anything, but I got to share a few of my deep seated ideals and perspectives on people, life and love.  It doesn't get any better than that.

Keep reading, writing, loving, and living.  That's my motto for 2014.

I'm out!

Devon H.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Music is just one of my muses.

Most of you know about my current project, Hard of Heart.  If you don't and would like to know more about Kaleb Hunter and his upcoming story about war, love, acceptance, and coming home, feel free to click on the FAQ tab to read all aobut it. 

I get asked a lot about my writing process.  First, I spend quite a bit of time, talking to myself about my characters.  Their favorite colors, their childhood stories, quirks, preferences, ect.  Then I plan out my story to make sure everything fits together and I have a clear idea of the messages I want to get across. Next is research.  Lots and lots of it.  I want things to be accurate and as realistic as possible.  Fiction always has some level of unbelievable in them, because they are fictional.  We have to squeeze in as much juice as we can in just so many pages so it doesn't come off as superfluous.  I know that some of you wish all of your favorite books were 500 pages...but I can guarentee that you woldn't love them as much if they anything but exactly what they are. 

Lastly... I go music hunting.  I find songs old and new that have the same general tone as what I want the reader to experience.  I compile them into a playlist and put that sucker on repeat.  I add as I go, but for the most part I put a few hours worth of music together before I even start writing.

Music is a big part of my life.  I ALWAYS listen to the lyrics and everytime I hear a new song I love, I get inspired.  Sometimes it gives me a new character, or a break up scene, or a childhood event, or a love scene to put into one of my books, but I always get something out of a great song. 

Everyone who's been following my process for Hard of Heart knows how important this story is to me.  Therefore, so was the playlist.  I think it's so great that I want to share it with you right now, before I'm even halfway through writing Kaleb and Alexa's story. 

Go forth and listen.  Enjoy the feels, dance to the rythm of the journey of love.  Teehee  ♥

Hard of Heart

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I don't have a big ego, but...

So I made this dramatic post the other day about writing Hard of Heart and how I had to delete everything and start over.

Well today is a new day and I feel fantastic.

Because I've rocked out over 3,000 words and it is pretty amazeballs if I do say so myself.  I'm loving it, and that's saying something.

Sometimes writing is the poopy...but sometimes I feel like a superhero.

This is how I feel right now.

Like a damn boss!
Yea...I made that prologue my bitch.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Writing...and erasing...and rewriting. Sometimes, my computer turns into a chalk board.

Most authors know how much of a process writing a good book is.

I'm sure most readers realize this as well, but definately not always.  I will admit that writing Sapphire Universe and Dark Universe was a process, and not easy by any means.  SU was my first book, and I had no idea what I was doing.  It took three covers and several- SEVERAL edits before I'm a shitty cover artist and I can't edit my own work to save my life.  During DU my life was full...FILLED TO THE MAX with family and personal and work related drama.  I didn't think I was going to get done on time, honestly.

Hard of Heart, is proving to be even more difficult.  Not only have I spent countless hours researching for this book, but I'm forcing myself into a place with my writing that I haven't visited before.  SU and DU both touched on emotional and tough issues, but they were riddled with humor and both of my main characters were emotionally strong and had a lot of support to make it through.  So there wasn't a whole lot of fuss or muss. 

I finally got the point where I could sit down and write Hard of Heart, and I made it through the entire prologue.  Now this prologue is sort of lengthy because it's the telling of Alexa and Kaleb's childhood.  This is something that is important in the book, because it gives you the whys and hows and whos.  How did Kaleb and Alexa meet and become close?  Why did Kaleb join the military?  Why did Alexa fall in love with him?  Who were they and how did they end up here?

I was LOVING IT.  The words were flowing, the characters were developing and I gave myself a nice little pat on the back.  Then I sat down to read it...and...something wasn't right.  It didn't have the right tone, the narration was all wrong, the stories didn't mesh with my just didn't work. 

Wanna know what I did? guessed it.  I deleted everything.  Clean slate.  I reoutlined, I changed up the narration, I started completely over from scratch. 

Did it suck?  Hell yes, but it had to be done.  The thing is, I know my plot and the theme and the storyline like the back of my hand.  I have my hidden lessons and messages and ideas all outlined and ready to change some perceptions, but the process is a bit sticky.  I don't want to fall into what's comfortable and write another Universe novel.  I want this book to be different and stand on it's own. 

So...Here I go, rewriting and all that jazz.  Keep sending me those encouraging messages my friends... I'm going to need them. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Release Day!!! Let's chat!

Oh boy.  Today is the release day for my second novel.  I feel such a multitude of overwhelming emotions right now.  Fear.  Excitement.  Gratitude.  Love.  Pride.  I can't tell you how crazy this experience has been, in the most wonderful way.

When I first wrote Sapphire Universe, I was a total dufis in the writing world.

That's right, I said dufis.

See, I knew absolutely NO ONE!   I thought I did my research, I thought I was all set to go, but as it turns out...I knew nothing.  My cover was paranormal looking, I edited my book myself (something I will NEVER do again) and I had no clue how to market.

You see I didn't really consider myself an author at first.  I was just a small town girl who wrote a book because she loved it.  I work full time, I'm a mom, and a military wife, so I had little to no time to dedicate to writing and marketing and was a little lost.

When I made it past 20 reviews I seriously flipped out.  Really.  20.  That's how newbie I was.  I was happy that ANYONE read my book and liked it.  AAAANNNND then some more experienced readers read my book, and some of them loved it...others...not so much.

I was okay with that.  I was content.  No biggy, I'm not really an author right?  Well, then I met a few other newbie authors.  Wow, you guys.  These people are amazing.  They supported me, read my books, gave me some much needed advice, and became life long friends. 

THEN...I started thinking...Maybe...What if I really am an author?  Could I really be like Colleen Hoover, or Jessica Park, or Jamie McGuire, or Jennifer Armentrout?  Could I really one day have readers and followers who pine for my next books?  Could I really make a difference in someone's life with my words? 

Well, I'm a stubborn broad...and I love a challenge.  So guess what guys...

I'm totally going for it.

Dark Universe is out now, and boy was that a roller coaser write.  I moved houses, got sick, my sister barely missed having cancer by the skin of her teeth, my husband had surgery, my family had some drama, and I honestly didn't know if I was going to finish it.  But I did.  And I love this story. 

I hope you do too.

Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU, to all of my readers, bloggers, and author buddies who have stuck by me and supported me.  I seriously love you all with everything I have.

Now...Back to writing my heart out.