About Me

Hello There!

So, the Blogging From A to Z Challenge is OVER for another year! This was my third year and it’s always exciting leading up to it, and fun starting off, but I always seem to forget as the challenge drags on it can become daunting and tiresome. Even with all my posts ready well in advance (I usually write them in February), there’s a lot of communication and promotion to maintain. I didn’t really care for posting our links on the daily blog posts this year instead of using the LinkyList, but I understand the organizer’s need for a change. HOWEVER, all this yammering will be for the A to Z Reflections post, so for now I’m just going to take a deep breath and say goodbye to another year of the challenge!

Now, for those of you who started following me during the challenge, I hope you’ll stick around, and I’ll fill you in a little bit about my blog:

I’m primarily a romance author and about 90% of my blog content is about writing. I tend not to focus on any one genre, more the mechanics and ins and outs of writing in general, so it’s friendly and identifiable to everyone, no matter what you write. I try to be entertaining and funny as much as possible. I TRY, anyway…

I’m also a tour host for Goddess Fish Promotions. I host tour stops primarily for romance and urban fantasy authors, so you’ll see those from time to time. Every one of them includes a gift card giveaway, and you might find some new reading, so it’s lots of fun! I am also quite willing to host a promotion/giveaway for anyone else, if you write romance/urban fantasy or something with romantic elements. This is mostly because, of course, I’m a romance author and my main fan base is romance readers, so something of a completely different genre probably won’t get much traction on my blog. Also, please note: I am not a reviewer and I don’t review books. If you’re interested in a guest spot, contact me!

I’m part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which does their blog hop on the first Wednesday of every month (also run by some of the same people who run the A to Z Challenge). Join us!

On more personal notes, I recently (and finally!) created a ‘wall of fame’ for myself in my bedroom. I left lots of space for more covers! Here’s hoping I’ll fill them in. I had posters made at Vistaprint for super cheap:

Anyone know this ‘Megan Morgan’ person?

I also got glasses for the first time in my life this past week. Truth be told, I needed them LONG ago, but I was stubborn and just used to the world being fuzzy. Now I’m freaking out because I can see blades of grass and individual leaves on trees. IT’S CRAZY.

I really like pink.

I also have a cat that needs constant attention or she will combust:

SLEEP? No sleep, ADORE ME.

So, that’s that! Welcome to my blog. Another hilarious thing you should know about me is that I’m addicted to watching Mountain Monsters on Destination America. It’s ridiculous and overblown and so very, very fake, but I can’t stop laughing at it.

Tell me about yourself!

Never Say Never

I’ve been writing for a lot of years. Way, way too many years (I’m old, folks). Sometimes it’s funny to look back on those years and reflect on the attitudes or ideas I had at any given time, and how that directed my work. I believe when you write, and stick to writing for a long time or maybe even your entire life, you’re always growing, learning, and evolving. New attitudes and ideas come along, your skills grow, and you try more new things than you ever imagined you would. It makes sense, because there’s very few creative and artistic people who stay stuck on one theme forever. You expand. You branch out. You give your ‘nevers’ a try.

I’ve had a lot of ‘nevers’ through the years. Things I said I would NEVER do. Things I would NEVER write, or try, or dabble in, or accomplish. Here’s a few of those things I said I would never do and then did them anyway:

  • Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Many times I said I would NEVER get published. Oh, how I languished, and despaired, and felt inadequate and overlooked. I’d never have a book published. No editor would ever want me. No one would ever read my brilliant masterpieces which were actually awful at the time. Well, check out the sidebar of my blog now.
  • I said I would NEVER write romance. This was back when I was younger and trying to be a horror author. Like way too many people, I dismissed romance as fluffy, silly writing that ‘wasn’t real,’ and was just trash and drivel. Never mind it’s the biggest-selling genre in books since…the dawn of time, possibly. I was young and full of myself and never seemed to realize I was constantly writing romance into my stories anyway.
  • At one point in my life I went through an intensely spiritual, religious phase and swore I would NEVER write horror again because it clashed with my moral point of view. I tried switching to sci-fi during this time and I was really, really bad at it. I don’t know what was going on with me, but eventually I moved on, or outgrew it, and got back to writing about vampires.
  • Hilariously, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group question for this month was about whether or not you’d ever gone back and rewritten an old piece of work. I said I hadn’t, and swore I NEVER would because I feel that looking forward is the best direction. Well, guess what I’m doing right this very moment? Revising an old story for an anthology call. D’oh!

NEVER is a block, a wall, a stone in the road that trips you up. It keeps doors closed and opportunities undiscovered. I’ve found that just because I have a writing ‘never’ today, it might be quite flexible tomorrow. And since I know I tend to dispose of those nevers eventually, I’m trying hard not to create them in the first place anymore.

What about you? What NEVER have you kicked aside and done anyway?

That’s A Lot Of Stuff

I’ve been writing since I was 13-14. I have tons of written work that is lost to the ravages of time and technological advancement. Notebooks full of stuff I wrote when I was younger, the ink and pencil now faded, and tons of 3.5 disks which can no longer be accessed because the technology I wrote them on is archaic (ah, my first Brother word processor!). I’m mostly okay with that because my writing back in those days was unwieldy and unpracticed and truly awful, and if I read any of it today I’d cringe. But I remember writing it, and so it still exists in a metaphorical way.

There’s also tons of writing I can still access: uncountable stories, books, half written things, chunks of unused work, abandoned writings, and writings that were finished but never followed through on. Those are on my laptop, or in a cloud, and I can still go look at them any time I want. Many of them will eventually end up on some lost trail behind me as I keep on writing and producing more things, but they exist too.

The point is, I’ve probably literally written millions of words in my writing life. Millions as in plural. Two million? Three million? Maybe more. I’ve written a lot. There’s no way to know how much. Even if I counted up what I have access to, there’s still all that stuff lost in the past. Sometimes I’m quietly impressed by it and give myself a little pat on the back. Most of the time, I don’t even think about it. Churning out all those words is just who I am.

If you’ve been writing for a long time, you probably have just as much in storage, be it literal or theoretical. If you haven’t been writing long, you probably still have more words behind you than you realize. Most of us writers have a half-formed, clunky body of work that follows us around forever, most of which will never be seen by eyes other than our own. That’s okay, because that’s what being a writer is.

I’m using this as an inspiration today, and you may need it too, because right now I feel like I’m in a dry, bitter, fallow period with my writing. I feel like I can’t get anything down on the page and I’ll never produce anything of worth again. I’m having one of those dramatic, hubris moments of I WILL NEVER BE A REAL WRITER. The well is giving up just a few ounces of muddy water and I will never write much again.

But, if you’re feeling this way too, here’s what you should do along with me: look at that big, ugly, misshapen pile of work behind you and ask yourself, do you really think you’ll never be able to write again? Do you really think you’re not capable of producing more words? All those words in the past seem to disagree.

Now, get back to work, self. And you too.

Have a great weekend!

A Memorial To A Friend

Six years ago today, a friend of mine named Chris passed away. We met when I started working at my very first serving gig in a restaurant that doesn’t exist anymore. Everyone there was like family, and until this day, at all the places I’ve worked, I’ve never found friendships or bonds like the ones we created there. If the place was still around today I’d probably still be working there. I keep in touch with a lot of those old friends via Facebook and meeting up from time to time.

Chris was a wiry, scruffy guy who looked like John Lennon (though he hated when people pointed this out). He was a true dank hippie, loved jam bands, was a huge fan of Phish and The Grateful Dead, and did all sorts of drugs not to get high, but for the existential experience. That sounds like some old stoner who was a teenager in the 60’s, but he was actually only 30. He could tell a story like no one I’ve ever met, and his tales of ‘enlightenment’ were so mesmerizing I believed that I, too, could drop acid and see the face of God (I’ve never done acid, btw). He had an incredibly interesting life and had done so much in his short thirty years it boggled my mind. He also had so many friends it was surreal–and not just acquaintances, honest-to-God friends. He was known and loved by everyone, a truly gregarious and outgoing person, and he always made everyone feel equally important.

He was spastic, a prankster, and loved to make people laugh. He was a trickster with a heart of gold. He was one of my best friends, a brother to me, and we had so many good times together. One of his last pranks, which will live on forever, is that he would change his birthday on Facebook every day so it would alert all his followers that every day was his birthday. Because of this, some people now believe December 27th is his birthday (his real birthday was in July, like mine). It’s bittersweet, because when I see that notification pop up on Facebook it reminds me of his humor, but it also reminds me what the next day is.

He was a writer, too. He was working on his memoirs, Triumphs of An Open Mind, most of which contained stories I’d already heard from his mouth. Since I was a writer too we constantly shared ideas and advice. He was my writer friend and everyone knew us as ‘the writers’ where we worked. He hadn’t gotten published yet, but he was working on it. We both had big dreams of bestsellers and stardom.

Then, a few months before the end of 2010, he was diagnosed with Graves Disease after suffering heart palpitations and weakness. I was adamant that he was fine, and reminded him of this when he’d get down on himself about it or start feeling hopeless. I remember saying “You’re not going to die!” about a hundred times. I was convinced he wouldn’t, that he’d have a long happy life telling wild stories and bouncing off the walls.

A few days after Christmas, he proved me wrong. (Some of my friends still joke ‘he died to spite you’ because it’s the sort of joke HE would make.)

I’d worked an early shift that day and came home, turned the ringer on my phone off, and took a nap. When I woke up I had about 16 voicemails and missed calls from different people, and none of them said anything more descriptive than “call me.” I knew something was horribly wrong. I picked my friend Jodi as the one to call back, and when she answered she was crying and said “Chris died.” He’d passed away in his sleep the night before, from heart failure, at the age of 30. I remember being so disoriented I got up and tried to get dressed and couldn’t figure out how to put my clothes on. Absurdly, Jodi and I went shopping and called everyone we knew before they got the news second-hand. We didn’t know what else to do.

His funeral was massive. I had never seen so many people at the funeral of a person who wasn’t famous. We actually closed the restaurant that day so everyone could attend. I remember thinking ‘I want to live my life in a way that I end up having a funeral like this.’ The place was huge and they still couldn’t fit everyone inside.

A few months later, I had the opening line of his novel tattooed on my arm. I think he would appreciate it, and it gets me through the dark times in my life.

I had a dream about him Monday night, amazingly. We were sitting and talking like we used to, and suddenly I said, “I know this isn’t real, but can I hug you? Because it’ll feel real for a minute.” And of course, it did.

We were both huge fans of Carl Sagan, and so I post this today in honor of him, our favorite essay by Mr. Sagan:

I hope you’re still out there jamming across the cosmos, Chris.

The Language Of Writing

Many years ago, I wrote under a different pseudonym, in a somewhat different genre, and had a modicum of success. The name was Lydia Nyx, if you’re curious, but it doesn’t matter because everything I had published back then is no longer in print/distribution and some of the publishers are defunct. I ended up eventually shifting genres and reinventing myself as Megan Morgan.

However, despite the fact I didn’t write fantasy/sci-fi, I somehow ended up being a panelist at 2011 Penguicon in Detroit (which is a sci-fi/fantasy con). It’s a funny story, and what I learned from the experience–that we, as writers, no matter where we are on our path or what we write, are all in this together–was invaluable.

I ended up at the convention because I made a comment on a blog post of a fellow author who was published in an erotic horror anthology with me. He mentioned Penguicon and that they still needed panelists (I believe he worked for the organizers? I can’t remember clearly.) and I looked into it, despite the fact I didn’t fit the demographic. When I contacted the organizers, they said indeed they would like to have me, and didn’t care what I wrote, they just wanted published writers to speak. I was scheduled for not one, not two…but SEVEN panels. Keep in mind, I had never spoken publicly on writing before, ever.

The convention ended up being a blast. However, on three of those panels, I sat alongside sci-fi/fantasy authors Jim C. Hines, Stephanie Osborne (who had the coolest NASA ribbons), and….*GULP* Brandon F*kin Sanderson. Needless to say, I was way out of my element and way nervous. I was terrified to sit with multi-award winning, bestselling Mr. Sanderson, who, let’s not be modest about it, 90% of the convention goers were there to see. What’s more, I was expected to sit with him and talk to a huge audience about writing, intelligently.

I had no idea what to do, so me and my son just got Steampunk’d.

What did I learn from those three nerve-wracking panels? I learned that despite the fact Mr. Sanderson was at the top of the food chain and I was way down at the bottom, in the swamp, and that we write in radically different genres, our love of writing, the way we talk about it, and the techniques we use to evoke creativity are exactly the same. He was a tremendously nice and polite man. He moderated all three panels (basically directing the flow of conversation/controlling the subject matter/provoking the rest of us to speak) and he was extremely pleasant, encouraging, and helpful. I realized despite our different points on the spectrum we were both writers, and we both thought like writers. We could discuss it on the same level, all other things aside. It was incredibly comforting as a young, floundering author.

Jim C. Hines is also a darling of a man. I sat directly beside him for all three panels and he was just a great conversationalist and gentleman. He eased my nerves greatly before each panel.

It was an eye-opening weekend. I also made several fans at the time who were pleasantly surprised to find an author so radically out of place. I met author H.B. Pattskyn there, before she was published, and she was so wonderful and supportive of me on those days when this young author was so scared. I even had her sit with me on some of my other panels!

The thing I learned that weekend, and I still carry with me to this day, is that we’re all in this together, no matter where we are on the ladder, no matter what we write. Writing is a universal language!

Look how well I fit in! I apologize, my son could only seem to take pictures during earthquake tremors.

Going to Chi-Town!

Next weekend I’m going to Chicago with my best friend! We always seem to end up going there at least once a year. It’s only a six hour drive from where I live (Cleveland) and we have friends we usually stay with there, so most of the time it’s a relatively cheap trip. We’ve taken Amtrak there as well, which was lots of fun. We both love Chicago and I’d really like to live there someday.

Me and the bestie all dressed up to rock Chicago!

So it’s probably no surprise I write about Chicago a lot. It shows up either directly or peripherally in a lot of my writing. My entire Siren Song series is set there, and even in my upcoming Kentucky Haints series, the main character is from Chicago (though the series takes place in Kentucky). Every time I visit Chicago I discover some new thing and I try to include it in the next book I inevitably write that’s set there. I think the best compliment I’ve ever gotten was from my best friend–last time we visited Chicago, we were out at dinner and she brought up a description of Chicago from one of my books and said it was the best description of the city she’d ever read. I might be a little obsessed!

It’s important to write what you love, though. That’s the lesson to be learned here. When you write what you love, and you write it joyfully and honestly, the result is going to be something that you just might get a compliment on. Also, writing is going to be a lot more fun, and even the days when the words feel more like work than play, you’ll be creating something that feels right to you.

What’s your Chicago?

Ch-ch-ch Changes

I’ve made a big important decision about my writing career, and I thought I would share it with all of you today. After much thought and consideration (and a lot of research), I’ve decided to make some changes that feel right, and I think I’m finally in a good place to make them.

I’ve decided to become a hybrid author.

What the heck is that?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, no, I won’t be splicing my genes with some other author to make myself into some sort of weird book-writing chimera. A hybrid author is an author who is both traditionally and self-published. It’s something a lot of the hip kids are doing now, as it gives an author more creative options. I am currently only traditionally published, but that’s about to change.

Why have I made this decision? Here are a few reasons:

  • I have an established readership/following now. It’s small, but it’s mine, dammit! Hopefully through my already established social media presence and this blog, I can show up to the self-published party without worrying that not a single person will have any idea who I am. I’ll have a few people to mingle and eat cake with in the corner.
  • I want greater creative and career freedom. I don’t just mean with what I write (I’m still sticking to largely paranormal romance and some smutty stuff here and there) but also as far as covers, distribution, and promotion. I have some graphic design ability (check out my Twitter, Facebook, and G+ accounts for my graphics-making chops) and with a stock photo account in hand and some visions in my head, I think I can make myself some pretty killer covers that I’ll cherish.
  • I’ve gotten better at writing. I’m not as green in the self-editing and plotting arena as I used to be when I was a wee writer. This does NOT mean I won’t still make use of beta readers and professional editors, but I think (or hope) I know enough now not to make a fool of myself.
  • I know the business side of writing a lot better than I used to. I also learned all I could about self-publishing platforms, pricing, and formatting.
  • Even if the whole venture flops, I’ll still be ahead. My income from writing now is minimal, so even if the response to my self-published work is lukewarm, I’ll probably be making about what I am now with traditional publishers. But if it does even slightly better than lackluster…I’ll be ahead!

I’m excited about this experiment. I want to be my own boss, so to speak, even if my employee is a pain in the butt. Will I continue to publish traditionally? Of course. I just want to open my options.

Additionally, I’m going to be making a major overhaul to my woefully neglected newsletter. As soon as my first self-pubbed book comes out (details soon) I will be offering free stories as an incentive to those who sign up. Those kind few of you who are already signed up, I will make sure to contact you to offer you these free stories as well!

I’m a little nervous and a lot eager. Watch this space for lots of news in the near future!

I Hate This Book

Can you write an entire book, beginning to end, whole and complete, and hate the result despite all the time you spent on it? Yes, you sure can. I’m going through this particular weird writer hell at the moment.

I wrote the perfect book. By ‘perfect,’ I don’t mean it’s a sweeping, flawless example of high literature. I mean I constructed it to every technical specification. It has a forward-moving plot that comes to a dramatic climax followed by a satisfying ending. The characters are all fleshed out with well-defined and sympathetic motivations, and believable backstories that influence their actions. I hit on every point and marker for the genre and intended audience. There’s no loose ends or anything frivolous. I even managed to construct a somewhat unique and interesting premise, if I do say so myself.

The problem is, when I finished it, I didn’t feel a great glowing sense of accomplishment. I didn’t feel creatively fulfilled. I just sort of felt like I’d finished a homework assignment.

I thought perhaps the passion would come in the revision, as it sometimes does for me; that when I clipped and rearranged and polished, I’d find the glowing gems beneath. It’s happened to me before, after all. I’m almost done revising it now, and I still haven’t found the gleam. Sure, there were a few scenes that gave me a mild feeling of joy like “hey, I wrote that,” but there’s been no overall thrill. I feel like I’ve written a long essay on some subject I have no real interest in and now I’m shoring it up so I can at least get an A on it.

In part, I think it’s because I just don’t like the characters. They’re great characters in their construction, as I said above, but I’m just not into them. It’s kinda like watching a show that everyone else loves but you just can’t get into. You can’t explain why, it’s a fine enough show, it’s just not your bag.

Earlier this year, in contrast, I wrote a story that I absolutely loved. I raced to the page each day to write it, and it all unfolded before me in brilliant clarity. I loved every aspect of creating it, I loved the characters, and when I finished I was breathless with the pounding of my brimming writer’s heart. Not to mention I was actually sad I was done writing it and there was no more. I wrote it in less than a month, revised it in a few weeks, and it was picked up for publication a few scant months later. It was a whirlwind romance of…writing a romance.

I find these two reactions are the extremes, though. Hating what you wrote and being absolutely in love with it are two ends of the spectrum, and most pieces we write fall somewhere in between. You may love parts of something you wrote and hate others, you may have to dig a while to find contentment in the prose, or you may just find that ‘good enough’ feeling eventually. Writing is a game of ups and downs, joy and sorrow.

But what of the hated, finished story? Should I complete the revision and send it off to a publisher? It definitely needs a sequel, and was always written toward having a sequel. I have some ideas for that sequel but I fear by a few chapters in, I would once again feel like I was writing a homework assignment.  Do I scrap it? The sunk cost fallacy involved will haunt me for weeks, I know. Do I repurpose it into something else? Change the characters? Chalk it up as practice and move on?

Isn’t writing just glamorous?

Have you ever written something you hated and couldn’t bring yourself to feel passionate about? How did you handle it? What did you do with the story?

A Unique View

The apartment complex where I live consists of several buildings. I live in one of the buildings closest to the street, and because of the apartment I live in, I have something unique right outside my bedroom window. The only tree that grows directly on the complex property is right outside my window, on a little lawn, which is also the only lawn in the complex. So, I have scenery that no one else does.

I absolutely love the view out my bedroom window. My bed is positioned so when I’m lying down I look right up into the tree and I almost always leave my curtains open, day or night. During the full moon a few nights ago, the moon shone directly in my window. When I wake up, the sun is shining down on me. I’ve only lived here long enough to experience the summer, but I can’t wait to see what it looks like all snow-covered too. It’s an amazing view that is uniquely my own. The people below me are in below-ground apartments and only see the base of the tree. The people above me see over the top of it. It’s a view only I have.

This is connected to writing, I promise.

We all have our own ‘view’ that is ours and ours alone. There are some experiences that are common to all humans, and some experiences that we share with a few others, but there are some things that are unique to us, and there is no one else, alive or dead, who has ever or will ever see the world through our eyes. That’s how writing is, too. You write in the same genre as many other writers, you may write stories similar to someone else’s stories, but there is no one who can bring to the page the same ‘view’ that you have. No one else has your knowledge, vision, or voice.

Our lives and experiences influence our writing, whether we realize it or not. Even if two writers sat down and wrote the same exact plot, the stories would be different because both writers have a different experience of life. All writing is unique in that sense–no one can bring the things to the page that you can, because they have never seen things from your view. Bring your vision of the world to your writing and you will find it not only the most satisfying, but the most true. It’s the only way we can share what we see with each other, at least to some extent.

I think sometimes when people are new to writing, they fear they’ll write something that sounds like something else, or something that’s already been written, or they’ll ‘steal’ an idea without meaning to. But there’s no real need to fear this, because no one else sees the world through your eyes. When you stay true to what you see, you bring something unique to every sentence you write.

Look out your own window and tell us what you see. No one else has that unique view.


Side Note: Right now I’m giving away a copy of The Burning City at All Things Urban Fantasy! Stop by and find out my top 10 favorite ghost stories and enter to win. Contest closes on Thursday Sept. 22nd!

Time On My Hands

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG will be C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata! 

SEPTEMBER 7th QUESTION: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

Luckily, my life isn’t super busy at this particular point in time, but that wasn’t always the case. I’ve raised a child, worked two jobs at once, and had a hectic, non-stop life in the past. It was very hard to write then, but I always tried to fit it in here and there. Probably why it took me so many years to get anywhere with my writing!

I’m fortunate at the moment I only work a part time job with a set schedule, so I can plan for writing time much more than I could in the past. I’m also able to schedule promotional stuff and guest spots around it, weeks and even months in advance, because I know what days I have free. I don’t have many other time-hogging commitments at the moment either, as my son is an adult now and I live pretty simply to eliminate distractions. It’s a wonderful thing, but it’s definitely the first time I’ve had this sort of arrangement in my life, so I’m not taking it for granted. I’m grateful for it!

Busy or not, though, writing has always been a vital part of my life. I have to make time for it, or the pain of not doing it eats me up. I think most writers will tell you that the urge to write clears a path through even the busiest of lives and forces you to spend time with it, even if it’s just a few minutes here and there. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have plenty of time to write and sometimes have to admonish myself for being lazy and distracted instead of taking advantage of it!

May you have ample time to write, and the motivation to do so when you get that precious time. Life is hard, but writing makes it easier. At least, that’s been my experience.