I think 2020 hates me

When I promised to share my triumphs and failures during the course of 2020, I had hoped I’d have more good shiz than setbacks to report, but so far, this year has my number.

Okay, I’m going to dive in.

On the writing front:

I haven’t published a book yet, so I’m zero for five for my 2020 goals. But I knew I wouldn’t be publishing until late March. I’m still hopeful to hit that mark.

I’m in the midst of two writing projects and had hoped to be further along, but an illness set me back. More on that below.

On the business side of being an author:

One of my goals was to prepare blog posts and newsletters in advance, and for the most part, I’ve succeeded during the month of February. A tick for the win column!

As for revamping my author website, I still haven’t touched it…

On the health front:

My overall yearly goal was to exercise more, eat better, and all the other shite they tell you to actualize a healthier you.

After a hit-or-miss January, I started February off strong, hitting my 10K step goal every day. Then the flu from hell hit me. I stripped the fitbit off my wrist and crashed on the couch for days.

The good news: I’m heading to London to visit friends. I’m hoping some time away from work and the laptop will help me center my chi. I’m not really sure what that means, but it has to be better than sleeping in my soup-stained T-shirt because I don’t have the will to shower.

Fingers crossed my March report will be cheerier.

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So far 2020 has been hit or miss

I’m the type who likes to set ambitious goals. Really ambitious. I do this for two reasons: to push myself to achieve more and, clearly, I’m insane and enjoy punishing myself.

To help keep me motivated, I’ve decided to share my progress once a month. Accountability is a great motivator for me. And, stickers. I loooooveee stickers.

Okay, I’m going to dive in.

On the writing front:

My first goal is to publish 5 books. As of writing this post, one book is with the editor, and I hope to publish it in the spring. Now, I just need to write and publish 4 more in 11 months. Easy peasy. (I’m hearing maniacal laughter in my head.)

My second big goal is to outline before diving into a book. Just last week, I set aside five days to outline 2 books, and I made enough progress to start on one of the books with most of an outline. Obviously, I need to devote more time to this goal, or I’ll end up writing 30k of backstory again. Deleting that many words was a painful experience, hence the need for this goal.

On the business side of being an author:

I set out to schedule and prep my blog posts and newsletters better so I wasn’t always doing them at the last minute. So far in 2020, this has been an epic fail. I’m crafting this post (when I finish this, I plan to write a newsletter) the day before publishing. This isn’t ideal. Not by a long shot.

Also, I want to revamp my author website site this year, and I haven’t even touched a page yet. Moving on.

On the health front:

I wanted to increase my daily activity. To help me keep track, I got a fancy fitbit. And, I set it up on January 6th. Better late than never. Then, the third week of the month, I forgot to wear it for 4 days. Whoops! However, I’ve logged over 75 miles, and one day I walked more than 22,000 steps, so it hasn’t been a complete failure. Now, my fitbit is saying I need 124 more steps before the end of the hour. It’s a bossy thing…

Okay, I’m back. Where was I? Oh, yes, my left shoulder is in bad shape from hunching over a laptop for long hours, and I’ve been going to massages to help ease the constant pain. These aren’t the relaxing type of treatments. They’re the hold on to the sides of the table, wishing the 60 minutes were over kind. I’ve been staying consistent with them, but I’m just realizing I need to make my next appointment. I’ll be right back…

Whew, appointment made.

Now that I’ve framed my progress for January, I’m seeing I have much work to do, but I have made progress. I like to celebrate wins, even tiny ones.

So, I’m going for a walk to enjoy the sunshine, even if it’s only barely above freezing. After I bash out my newsletter, of course.

If you’d like to hear Clare Lydon and I discuss our 2020 goals, listen to the Lesbians Who Write episode. Click here.

How are your 2020 goals going?

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Coming Clean about Hull

Last year, I visited Hull, Massachusetts, and I posted a blog post on my author’s site, but I didn’t divulge the secret reason I went. I mean, I did go because I needed time away to work, which I did.

But there was another reason as well. This was around the time I was outlining A Shot at Love and another project called Sea. The name Sea morphed into Holly & Ivy, and it’s the novel I cowrote with Miranda MacLeod.

When we started tossing around settings for the romance, Miranda suggested an island based on Vinalhaven, which is off the coast of Maine. She had visited the place the previous year. I’d never been, and given it was during the off-season, the island was shut down for tourists and wouldn’t be back in business for many weeks.

In order to get into the spirit of being in a small seaside place, I opted to go to Hull, somewhere I’d never been to. Much like our fictional island, Hull is mostly a summer destination. Considering the majority of the book takes place in the off-season, I got a good feel of how things would be when there aren’t any tourists.

Also, I went for daily strolls along the beach, which soothed the Californian inside me. While I haven’t lived there in many years, I still seek out water, whether it be rivers, streams, lakes, or reservoirs. Water soothes me, and the ocean has the biggest impact on my well-being. Even though Hull technically isn’t an island, it let me tap into the spirit of our fictional one in Holly & Ivy.

And now that it’s been published, I can come completely clean about my trip to Hull.

One of the perks of being a writer is having an excuse to go to places not usually visited that time of year. I was asked many times by the locals why in the heck I was there when it was frozen over. I kept saying, “Isn’t this the best time?” They gave me a weird look, but I get that look a lot. I have a feeling if I said I wasn’t a people person, they probably still would have given me that look.

Holly and Ivy

When Holly and Ivy meet, sparks fly, but it’s hardly smooth sailing. After their one-night stand ends in disaster, both decide they’d rather spend the cold months ahead sleeping alone. However, it soon becomes undeniable that each woman possesses something the other needs. Working together, they just might get what they want and find the love of a lifetime along the way, but only if their own insecurities and secrets don’t destroy them first.

Best-selling lesbian romance authors T.B. Markinson and Miranda MacLeod bring lesfic readers a holiday romance that’ll warm your heart this festive season. Grab your copy of the standalone romance novel that will make you believe love conquers all.

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This Happens Every Year?

I moved to Boston in the fall of 2006 and lived in Bean Town until 2012 when I moved to London. During that time, I never attended the Boston Book Festival held in October. I remember hearing of it, but for some reason, I just didn’t go, or I’d hear about it after the fact, which is often the case for me.

Recently, when one of my writing buddies asked me to go, I said, “Hell yes.” Okay, I probably didn’t say those words, but it was something close. I’ve been trying to network more, which isn’t my comfort zone, because shocking news, I’m a shy writer. However, I’ve really been pushing myself to get out there more, and my buddy was manning a table so it seemed like a good opportunity to go see what it’s all about.

The day was lovely. October weather in Massachusetts can be hit or miss, but this was a picture-perfect fall day. The sky was a stunning blue. Some of the trees were aflame with autumn colors. There were book stalls and food vendors, including an ice cream truck. It had all the things I loved.

While my friend worked, I wandered to different tables, struck up conversations, and purchased quite a few books. More than I intended and my backpack became quite heavy, but this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

I’m already looking forward to attending the event next year, as long as the weather isn’t shite. I’m getting to that age where I’d rather not freeze my buttocks off for the sake of going. If it’s rainy or snowing, I’ll probably stay home with hot chocolate and read. Either way, it’s a win.

The day after the book fair, which was a Sunday, I was struck with a violent case of food poisoning. I really have no idea if it was any of the food I ate at the event, although I don’t think that’s likely since my friend didn’t get sick. And to be completely honest, I’m a terrible cook and have poisoned myself before.

 

GIVEAWAY

 

Speaking of food poisoning, there’s a scene in A Woman Loved, where some of the characters get sick. The audiobook should be out just in time for the holidays, and I’m running a giveaway.

If you’re a US or UK Audible listener, email me at tbm@tbmarkinson.com with A Woman Loved Audiobook Giveaway in the subject line. In the body of the email, let me know if you have access to the US or UK store. The giveaway ends on November 30th.

Have you attended any book events that I should put on my radar?

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Is it weird that cemeteries inspire me?

My last post was about going to Fenway to do research for a book. But that’s not always possible.

When penning Confessions from the Heart, the prequel to the Confessions series, the two characters go to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a place I’d never been to even though I’d lived in Boston for a handful of years. I combed through photos and descriptions online, but a part of me always wondered if I’d gotten it right.

Now that I’m back in Massachusetts, I decided to walk in the footsteps of my characters. Starting in Harvard Square, I walked along Brattle Street on my way to the cemetery.

The directions only involved traversing Brattle Street, but I’m directionally challenged. And it was hot outside, meaning I kept checking my map on my phone to see if I’d overshot it. I hadn’t. Good thing I packed plenty of water.

Finally, I made it.

My first thought was the place was impressive. More than impressive.

I paid a dollar for a map of the grounds. Don’t worry, though. I still got lost many times, living up to my inability to follow directions, and I had a good chuckle when I couldn’t find Narcissus Path on the map. Does that mean I’m not one or…?

I wandered around for a few hours and barely covered half of the place. Meaning, I need to go back to explore. Have I ever mentioned I love wandering through cemeteries? It’s kinda an odd thing to admit, but seriously, this place is beautiful.

 

Audiobook Giveaway

To celebrate finally seeing the cemetery in real life, I’m running an audiobook giveaway for Confessions from the Heart. If you’re a US or UK Audible listener, email me at tbm@tbmarkinson.com with Confessions from the Heart Audiobook Giveaway in the subject line. In the body of the email, let me know if you have access to the US or UK store. The giveaway ends on November 6th.

I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to the cemetery and soon, because while there, a different story started to come to my mind. And, I’m pretty sure a scene or two will take place there. I have no idea why cemeteries inspire me so, but they do.

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Do They Still Feel You Up at Fenway?

It takes me time to become comfortable enough in a place before I can include a setting in a novel. Some of my books take place in Colorado, where I went to high school and college. I ended up loving Fort Collins, where the university was, and stayed there until my early thirties.

Naturally, A Woman Lost, my first novel, is set in Fort Collins.

After living in Boston for over six years, I felt like I had a handle on the place and could include it in Confessions from a Coffee Shop. I’m not officially a Masshole, but it was easier for me to have a sense of the place.

Writing about the United Kingdom took longer because I had a lot going against me. Even though I ended up living in the UK for seven years, I was initially an outsider moving to another country I’d never been to before, aside from an unpleasant visit to one of the airports. My experience will always be different than someone born and raised in London. Although I lived there for many years, by the time I penned my first book set there, I was cautious enough to include a character in A Shot at Love I could relate to somewhat by making her half British half American.

Now that I’m back in the US after eight years of living in the UK and Ireland, I’m having to reacquaint myself with American settings, which is a weird. I’m American, but I feel like an outsider now.

In my recent release, Reservations of the Heart, there’s a scene that takes place at Fenway, one of America’s oldest baseball parks. It’d been years since I attended a game. Before I moved to the UK, we’d go several times a season, and I distinctly remember security people searching bags and then patting everyone down.

Originally, I wrote the scene in Reservations this way. But I started to think back to the last time I’d been to Fenway, and I realized things might have changed. What’s a writer and sports fan to do? Buy tickets for a game, of course.

The day I could get tickets for was Mother’s Day. I grabbed them a few weeks before, and the baseball gods weren’t looking out for me, since that particular Sunday in May was cold, rainy, and miserable. I was told I’d be going alone, which is understandable because it really was atrocious weather.

I put on my rain jacket and boots for the journey. Before heading out, I had to look at the map to find the correct side street I wanted. Before the move to the UK, I used to walk to work and I went by Fenway five days a week. It’s amazing how much you forget over the years.

Since the day was extremely unpleasant, Fenway wasn’t as crowded as normal. I was able to snap quite a few photos in areas that were typically mobbed. After going through the security measures, which now involve metal detectors (a relief since I’m not big on people I don’t know feeling me up), I explored a bit. When I got to my seat, which was soaking wet, I opted to get some photos for the atmosphere.

At one point, in the third inning, I heard a woman say to her grown son, “I really appreciate the tickets and spending the day with you on Mother’s Day, but I’m cold so let’s get together next weekend. Toodles.” I may have added the toodles part, but it seemed like the time to use it.

I was right there with her. I left soon after that and met my peeps at a bar close by to finish the game while drinking a hot toddy to warm up.

I ended up going back to Fenway this summer, which was a hot day. I stuck around for that game.

 

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the release of my latest novel, I’ve put together a giveaway, which will include a signed copy of Reservations of the Heart and a $50 Amazon gift card.

A bit about Reservations:

When Stella and Aurora unexpectedly come together, sparks fly. Neither is looking for a relationship, but what they discover in one another is so much more than a physical connection. Can two wounded women who believe love is the last thing they want overcome their fears to find healing?

Best-selling lesbian romance author T.B. Markinson brings lesfic readers a heartwarming age-gap story about facing one’s demons to live a fuller and loving life. Grab your copy of the standalone medical romance novel that will make your heart sing.

Thanks so much for reading!

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