Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Complicated Relationship Between Writers and Money #AmWriting

You wrote a book, now what? You start researching cover artists and editors and freak out about the costs. You say things like, "I need to know I'll make back the money before I shell out anything." Well, here's a hard truth for you: no one can promise you that you will make back the investment right away or ever, especially if you don't do your part with marketing (which may cost some money as well).

But the real question is, why do you think this way? If you have a full-time job and writing is your hobby, think of all the other people with hobbies who invest money on memberships, equipment, travel or what-not to participate in them. Do they ski because they want skiing to pay them back at the end of the day? No. Do they spend a day golfing and expect to be paid when they finish eighteen holes? No. Do rock climbers stress out about spending money on ropes and safety harnesses before they tackle the mountain? No. Even runners invest money on the proper shoes so they don't get shin splints, but do they expect to be financially paid back for those shoes just because they want to run? No. Why? Because hobbies reward you with joy, satisfaction, and an escape from your day-to-day life. That's why they are called hobbies. 

Nothing wrong with writing being your hobby--in fact, it's smart. But are you putting too high of expectations on your hobby? It's not a dirty word, you know--hobby. It doesn't mean your novel isn't good or that you aren't committed. Don't let ego sabotage you.
I've stopped associating with people who say that they can't make money writing because that very thinking is what's blocking them from succeeding.

Am I suggesting you shouldn't want to make money from your books? No, just the opposite actually. I'm stating that your expectations are a bit whacked and perhaps you need to take a moment to look at them from another perspective.

If writing is your full-time job and you're still bitchy about shelling out for editors, cover artists, and paid advertising, then I ask you: what kind of special snowflake do you think you are? All businesses have operating costs. All businesses invest in themselves to succeed.

The idea of being a struggling artist is limiting you--how about celebrating instead and enjoying the creative process? It's amazing what happens when you stop worrying and begin trusting.

If you're not earning enough as a writer to afford normal business operating costs, then you need to find a supplemental job to support you as you get off the ground. There's nothing wrong with that--it is simple common sense.  Many people work multiple jobs while launching their own business and don't quit until they are financially stable. It's called rocking the side gig. If you go to a restaurant in Los Angeles, for example, most of the waiters will tell you that the are actors waiting for their big break. But what are they doing in the meantime? They're working jobs to pay the bills, they're going on auditions, they're investing in head shots, taking acting classes--they are hustling and putting money into their dream! Does that make them less talented? No, it makes them smart.

Writers are the only group of people I have met who expect to make money without spending anything or who think their hobby owes them something. The hard truth is that your books owe you nothing and neither do readers. If you're blessed enough to know how to write, to complete a novel, to have been immersed in creativity, then it's your obligation to that gift to nurture it and invest in it--and to let go of all expectations after that fact.

The key to success in any creative profession is to keep moving forward at all times. Want to make money as a novelist? It's completely possible, but you need to keep writing, keep putting yourself in front of people, keep striving to be the best you can be, keep investing in yourself. You also need to lighten up about it. The idea of being a struggling artist is limiting you--how about celebrating instead and enjoying the creative process? It's amazing what happens when you stop worrying and begin trusting.

C'mon! Time to switch up your thinking. If it's not working for you, stop it. 

I've stopped associating with people who say that they can't make money writing because that very thinking is what's blocking them from succeeding. Normally, when confronted with this type of person, I'll ask what they do to market themselves. They usually respond with free things like Facebook groups or tweeting teams, things that are known to have very low return. If I ask about paid advertising, they always screech about wasting money. Same thing when asked if they hired a professional editor or cover artist--nope, they can do it themselves, they respond. But they are not succeeding in the way they want because they are not investing in it--and they won't because they are stubborn and determined to struggle.

Yes, I mean it when I say they are determined to struggle. They are getting some kind of satisfaction--even if subconsciously--from struggling, from complaining about being lost in the mix, from whining about book prices, or making excuses about the ever-changing publishing environment. Perhaps they see it as paying their dues or their curse as a storyteller or maybe struggle gives them permission to be mediocre because why try harder if they aren't making money at it--that's all nonsense.

In my mind, I can think of at least a dozen authors I know who are making over $10,000 a month. Are they famous? Not in the big scheme. What are they doing to separate themselves from the pack? Investing in their career and embracing the joy of being a writer. Not one of them can be heard whining about how hard it is or making excuses as to why they aren't a millionaire yet. They're doing the work, investing in ads, delegating editing and artwork to other professionals so they can keep working on their next novel, automating or hiring out social media marketing, and making money every single month.

Depending on whether writing is your hobby or full-time job, you need to understand that it owes you nothing. You were blessed with the inspiration and dedication to sit down and do the work of storytelling. That's your reward. Want to make money from it? Good, but are you willing to invest like every other artist and business owner in the world does?

The hard truth is that your books owe you nothing and neither do readers.

I'm not sure why writers are unique in this attitude, but they seem to be. I've known musicians who have CDs and play in the band on the weekends at gigs all over Colorado who never complain that they aren't making enough money to do it full-time. They don't stop investing, though. Neither do artists I know who spend money on tables at art shows and use their last dimes to buy supplies knowing that their return on investment will be uncertain. Yet I know far too many authors who cry at the price of an editor or a cover artist and won't spend a dime until they "are making money from their books."

And the irony? Most of those authors are listing their books at .99 or free to "gain exposure" while they lament that they are dirt poor. C'mon! Time to switch up your thinking. If it's not working for you, stop it.

The hard truth is: to make money, you must spend money. Yes, choose wisely on what ads to purchase and where and what editor or cover artist to hire. But if you're one of those who stubbornly refuses to do so, then don't whine about poor book sales or bad reviews. You were chosen by inspiration to tell a story--which is a gift in and of itself--and then you chose to drop the ball. There is no one to blame but you in this scenario.

And if you did hire an artist and an editor but then failed to invest in ads or put the time in with marketing, the blame is also solely on you. Not writing your next book until the first one pays out? That's a crime against creativity.

As we begin a new year, think about what you are willing to invest in your writing career/hobby, make a budget of both time and money, and stick to it. Stop making excuses and start seeing possibilities.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Spend #NewYearsEve Getting Down and Dirty on the Sandy Beaches of Belize #Romance

What are you doing for New Years Eve this year? Why not read this fun and sexy romance set in Belize? Alyssa wasn't looking for love...or even a hook-up...but then HE happened and her one week solo vacation becomes so much more...Read the excerpt and blurb below!

Excerpt of Anonymity...

She didn't know who pulled whom toward the cabanas. They both were equally eager to resume what they'd started on the beach. Laughing, he winked at her over his shoulder as they weaved past the tables and other resort guests.

They stumbled up the two steps of her cabana, mouths fused in a kiss as she fumbled for the keycard. His hands yanked at the straps of her dress when she finally pushed open the door.

If she'd known it felt this good being bad, she'd have abandoned the good girl persona years ago. She ached to touch him, to have him completely naked. She yanked at his shirt while he nibbled along her collarbone and pushed the dress down her torso.

Tripping over discarded clothes they made their way to the bed. A tangled mass of limbs they rolled to the center of the mattress. He squeezed her breasts, his thumbs circling the nipples until hard while his mouth played havoc with her neck.

She couldn't stop touching the sculpted muscles of his chest, her eyes feasting on the breadth of his body against hers.

Wanton. Until now she hadn't really understood the meaning of that word, but that's what slammed into her consciousness. She was acting like a wild, wanton version of herself and she loved it. She bit his shoulder, grabbed his ass, arched her hips toward his, and flattened the soles of her feet on the backs of his calves.

The man had the body of a god.

His mouth claimed hers as he thrust inside her with the force of a man staking out his territory. Tongues moved in rhythm with every stroke of his hips. She wrapped every limb around him, needing him as close as possible.

The orgasm began somewhere in her toes, shuddered through her body like a tsunami of pleasure, and erupted with a moan of ecstasy. Her nails sunk into his shoulders. Her head rolled back on the pillow as she gasped for breath and felt his release slam into her. He buried his face in her hair while he moaned her name.

Wrapped together, they both gasped for breath and allowed their heart rates to return to a steady beat. The room was silent except for the sounds of their rapid breathing.

When he finally rolled to the side and stared at the ceiling, she closed her eyes and smiled. She'd been holding back more than dreams all of these years. She hadn't known she was capable of passion like that.

"Damn, you're intense," he said with a slight laugh.

"I am, aren't I?" She liked that idea.

He rolled onto his side and put one hand on her breast. "Look at me, Alyssa."

She opened her eyes and grinned. Black hair fell across his forehead, dimples slashing into his face with his smile, and naked body stretched along side hers, he was spectacular. "You should always be naked. I'm serious. You should never hide that body with clothes."

He laughed and shook his head. "No one has ever said that to me before, I'm not sure what to say back. That's a first. I'm never speechless."

"Yeah, well, I never have sex with strangers yet here we are." She traced the line of his bicep. "You're amazing."

"We're not strangers anymore, not really." He kissed her neck before nibbling her ear. "We had a date, talked, danced, fucked against a palm tree...and again...and I'm pretty sure we'll be doing it again soon...not strangers."

She grinned at his logic and wrapped her fingers in his hair. "The first night's almost over, we have six more days of this."

"You're going to wreck me." He slid a finger across her lips, his gaze on hers. "I feel like a horny teenager. It's like I've lost control."

"Control is overrated." She snagged his finger and held it against her chest. "Tell me something?"

"Right now I'd tell you anything so be careful what you ask."

She wanted to know why he'd reject a woman who could be a supermodel and who openly admitted coming onto him. Why her, is what she wanted to know but was too afraid to ask. That would reveal her self-doubt and ruin the moment. Old voices drummed in her head that she wasn't good enough to be picked first; they whispered that she'd always be someone's consolation prize.

From the back cover...

               Alyssa McNeil is through with romance. In Belize on a solo vacation designed to make her forget that her ex is marrying someone else on New Year's Eve, she's determined to break free of her comfort zone. Meeting Luke Picket falls perfectly into her plans for indulging fantasy, letting go of inhibition, and having uncomplicated fun under the sun. Falling in love with him is definitely not on the agenda.

                Luke Picket is more than happy to go along with her idea of a no strings, first-name only weeklong fling. He embraces his solo lifestyle and can't see that changing any time soon. When they find themselves trekking through the jungle and facing turbulent seas together, the feelings he'd fought so hard to avoid in his life start stirring in his closed-off permanent bachelor heart.   

                  But they'd agreed on anonymity, on a first-name-only-no-strings love affair, and neither wants to ruin the moment with unwanted declarations. Old beliefs are challenged. Doubts questioned. Will they stick to their deal and go their separate ways when the week is over? Or will the new year bring them a new attitude about love?

**Anonymity is book one of the Wanderlust Series, which is a series of romance adventure novels written as stand-alone books. In future series, some characters may make cameo appearances, but all are true stand-alone novels.***

Download today and let the adventure begin!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Great Unraveling of 2016 #selfcare #inspiration

2016 has been the hardest year of my life so far, much worse than when my husband died. It has been a great unraveling of literally everything and my self-confidence has taken a beating. As a result, I have been fighting to find solid ground.

When I'm in this state of stress, I can't create. I find that all of my creative energy goes into problem solving mode rather than novel-writing. I talk out options to the people closest to me, attempt a change of course and try something new if that plan didn't work, always in an attempt to save myself from ruin.

I'm a huge podcast fan. The other day I heard someone use the term "YAK"--you already know. As in, you already know the answer about what's best for you so don't seek outside opinions, don't waffle, don't allow others to undermine your confidence when you need it the most.

Hmm...that makes a lot of sense to me, yet I find the basics of that hard to follow. I have a bad habit of confiding in the wrong people at the wrong times.

I need to remind myself to go within to my inner guidance and do what I know is best. I alone know what I'm going through. I alone have been on the floor clawing at my flesh and sobbing for the Lord to just take me away, to end the pain. I alone know the numbers in my bank account and how they compare to the bills owed. I alone make the decisions regarding my home, my businesses, my kids' college expenses, my pets, my life--which means I alone know all that's in jeopardy. I alone know the health battles I've fought--sometimes winning, sometimes losing, mostly just grinning and bearing it because so much is riding on me. I alone know all that I've lost...which at this moment is pretty substantial. I alone know that I can't write when I'm like this--that all of the works in progress that were on my desk a year ago are the same that are there today, which is really bad considering I have multiple deadlines approaching with publishers in only a matter of weeks. I alone know the kind of pressure I'm under. I alone know what it feels like to see doubt in my children's eyes because, after all these years, they no longer can trust in tomorrow.

Yet, it's hard for me to not confide in people. I'm way too open and far too trusting. Perhaps I seek understanding or yearn for the companionship my late husband once provided, I don't know. Confiding in others, however, hasn't worked out too well. This is what I need to do: shut up, go within, and listen to the Divine.

YAK! Maybe I need those three letters tattooed on my wrist! You. Already. Know.

I know what to do. I even tried doing it--I put the house up on the market in late September but the realtor literally did nothing, never brought one buyer or held an open house, never answered a call or email. So I gave up last month before Thanksgiving and told myself I could go back to fighting and struggling again, that it was a "sign" that it didn't sell, that I'm meant to stay. My kids were thrilled, but I was still apprehensive because I know all of those things I stated above haven't changed. People tell me to fight harder...but I'm so damn tired of fighting! I'm exhausted. Fight, fight, fight has been my mantra for eleven years and I am ready to surrender.

Part of why I fought so hard for probably too long is because so many expected me to fail after Sean died. They told me so. They said it to my face, to the kids, whispered behind my one was shy about their lack of faith in me. So, even though I did survive as a solo parent for eleven years, I had a bad fucking year that unraveled everything. I did not fail. I succeeded for a long time. So, why do allow myself to doubt my own decisions and my own instinct?

I know what to do. It's time for me to downsize and hit "restart" on my life. It's time for me to buy a home with the equity from this one--no more mortgage for me, no more worry about it being taken away from me. It's time for me to do what's best for ME rather than everyone else. Why? So I can write--which is what I do. Because my future is at a stake, no one else's at this point.

This year has taught me some valuable lessons--sometimes you need to let go of the good, step into the unknown, and seize possibility. I'm like someone who has been clinging to the river bank of the known as the force of the water has slammed my bruised body into boulders again and again as I struggled to regain my grip on crumbling earth. And if I'd let go, maybe I'd have less broken bones, fewer internal injuries, and wouldn't be drowning. So now I'm letting go and hoping the flow guides me to a safe place, somewhere new.

I've started over before, I can do it again.

Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, works as a professional editor and author coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is the mother of two extraordinary human beings who lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Cowboy to Love for the Holidays #Thanksgiving #Romance

When it comes to the holidays, I always get a bit nostalgic. I grew up in South Dakota with a lot of cousins always around. We'd have huge holiday gatherings, usually involving snowmobiling through fields or sledding or playing cards all day long.

I always wanted the same type of experience for my own kids, but I married a man who was an only child. We live a thousand miles from my family of origin and my kids have never had cousins. Now as widow whose kids are college-aged, I realize that we still had fun in our own way, made our own traditions as a small unit, and don't regret any of it.

Families come in all sizes and situations. What matters is the love--not the feast, not the amount of money available for activities or travel, not the size of the house or the amount of guests. It's simply about love.

Always grateful for the love....

I hope you all have a great holiday season as we wrap up 2016.

Here's the back cover copy and an excerpt of one of my holiday romances, WhiteOut, about a skiing cowboy, the mysterious woman next door, and risking everything for love and freedom. 

She's been erased.

As a protected witness, Brandi Simms has given up everything that made her unique to start over in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Blending into the background isn't easy, but it's vital for survival. When her handsome yet incorrigible neighbor—former Olympic skier turned cowboy—decides her aloof attitude is a challenge rather than a deterrent, she knows the only right thing to do is resist.

The secrets she hides are deadly.

Ryan Landry isn't accustomed to rejection. Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, he's the local hero who came home to run a ranch and be near his family. The mysterious neighbor who seems content to hang out with dogs rather than humans haunts his fantasies and ignites that competitive drive that led him to the world stage.

He's not one to give up.

When her dangerous past catches up to Brandi, Ryan is determined to break through her secrets to find the truth no matter what the cost. Trapped in a whiteout blizzard with unseen threats lurking in the snow, will they get a chance to create a new beginning or will Brandi's past be the death of them?

An excerpt...

Fog hovered over the river and clung to the staggered pools of hot springs lining the mountainside. Snow-covered banks were lined with giant boulders and spruce trees. The après ski crowd filled the pools of natural spring water, their laughter and low voices carrying across stone paths shrouded with steam from the cold air colliding with heat of the water. Ryan had already settled into one of the upper, more private pools with her flask tucked near him beneath the towels.

Lyle would hate that she was exposing so much of herself—because of the tattoos she'd refused to laser off—but, at the moment, she didn't care for rules or limitations.

Shivering with the bite of the cool air and thankful for the dim light of twilight that stretched across the sky, she shuffled barefoot over the stone steps and slid into the soaking pool. Hot water eased her weary bones, steam slid across her face, and reckless energy snapped through her veins. It had literally been years since she'd spent time alone like this with a man who wasn't carrying a badge of some type. An untamed beat hammered in her heart, reminding her of what it felt like to be free.

Sighing, she closed her eyes, floated her legs in front of her, stretched her arms across the wall at her back, and slid her foot against Ryan's thigh. She liked the way his hard body felt against hers.

"You've got tattoos, I see." He cleared his throat and shifted away from the contact. "Is that a shark? It's a beautiful blue...nice craftsmanship with the flowers."

"The shark is the sign of the warrior for some Pacific Island tribes," she answered without opening her eyes.

"You confuse the hell out of me."

Smiling, she opened her eyes, lifted her foot from the water, and held it close to his face. "Stardust."

He shook his head, grabbed her heel, and looked at the gold stars tattooed on her foot. He met her gaze without releasing her foot and smiled. "Careful,'re flirting with someone who isn't afraid to go for it."

She pulled her foot free and narrowed her gaze. "Know what I want to do?"

"Me?" He grabbed the flask, opened it, and took a long sip without breaking eye contact.

She pushed away from her side of the pool, waded toward him, staying submerged up to her chin in warmth, used her hands to push his thighs apart, and slipped between them. If he wanted to have his mind blown, she could do that.

Without looking away from his gaze, she took the flask from his fingers and took a long sip without flinching. His focus dropped to the curve of her breasts that floated above the surface and pressed against his chest.

"And here I thought you were shy." He dropped his hands to her hips and grinned.

"Why? Because I didn't drop to my knees the first time you said hello?" She slid a wet finger down this face, lingered over his mouth.

"I've enjoyed my fair share of après ski soaks," his fingers trailed up her spine before untying the strings of her bikini, "but this isn't a hook-up. I want more than one night with you."

"Why?" She tilted her head to the side so she could see his eyes more clearly in the twilight and steam.

"Because it's taken me months to get to this point and I'm not going back to square one." He rubbed his knuckles along the shark tattoo on her left ribcage. "I like you and your special brand of crazy."

Her smiled faded. He liked her in a way that no one had in a very long time. Fame had found her at sixteen and she'd spent half her life in a glittery bubble filled with beautiful people saying all the right things to feed her ego. But this—being here with Ryan in the half-light with moisture beading their faces and large snow flakes falling against solar lights while his fingers caressed her skin and his eyes looked into hers—this felt like a dream.

"I had you all wrong, Ryan." She didn't move when her bikini top floated up, connected only by the strings around her neck while his hands covered her breasts. He looked at her with a dare in his eyes.

"Yeah? I thought you checked me out on the internet and knew all about my bad boy ways?" His smile turned wicked in an instant. "All you need to do is tell me to back off—something I know you're not afraid to do—and I will."

"You're a choir boy compared to my old crowd." She liked teasing him, but the reality is they probably missed each other at a few of the same parties back in their glory days. They'd both lived fast and hard, wearing their notoriety with ease.

"I'm older now," he kissed her chin, "tamer."

"How disappointing." She held his face between the palms of her hands and kissed him with a slow intensity that had him moaning into the deep recesses of her mouth.

He squeezed her breast with one hand while the other moved to her ass. His legs wrapped around the back of hers, pulling her closer. Water sloshed between their bodies, fog wrapped them in privacy.

She curled one arm around his neck while sliding her other hand down his chest. Their mouths clung to each other while their hands explored. Animalistic need pulsated through her veins. It had been so long since she'd been touched...or done any touching.

His thumb moved over her nipple. He dragged his mouth from hers and kissed her neck.

She reached between their bodies and found his erection. "Damn, you're full of surprises."

"You like?" He sucked on her bottom lip.

"Oh, yeah, I like a lot."  She ground her hips against his hard-on while her fingers teased the tip.

"We're going to get arrested." He smiled, not looking too worried.

"I've got connections you don't know about...I'm sure they'll bail us out." She laughed at the audacity of the moment, trapped in their little world of steam, snow, and spring water. 

He put both of his hands on her breasts, lifted them high in the water, and dipped his head to the curve of her neck. He lightly bit her shoulder while she rubbed herself against his erection. His ankles linked behind her knees, holding her in a tight circle.

Their mouths met in a kiss that melted her bones. She wrapped both arms around his neck and held still, knowing that they were dangerously close to crossing a line.

He gasped against her mouth, hands flat against her back, and eyes open. "You taste like whiskey and feel like heaven."

"Such a poet." She grinned, chest heaving against him while she struggled to regain control of her libido.

"Such a smartass." He nipped her chin.

Sounds of the river bubbled inches away from their heads. They kissed—slowly—eyes wide open.

An abrupt sound of music slashed through the quiet. The après ski crowd laughed somewhere further down in the mist.

Her song, her music.

"Laurel..." a man's voice from somewhere in the mist called. "Laurel!"

She broke away from him and twisted in the water looking for the source. Heartbeat slammed in her throat.

The music grew louder.

She bit her lip and sunk to her chin. Having a panic attack could get her killed, how many times had she been coached about how to act?

"What's the matter?" Ryan asked.

"That song..." She shook her head when it turned off as abruptly as it had begun.

"What song?" He pulled her back against him.

She stared at the swirling mist that competed with the flurries wafting down through the darkness. Night encroached fast this time of year. It wasn't even five o'clock, yet the twilight glow had become black sky. Solar lights around the property showed an increasing amount of people in the lower pools, all half-hidden in shadow.

"Didn't you hear that song?" she whispered against his ear. "Or hear that voice?"

"I was a little preoccupied." He retied the strings of her bikini and adjusted the fabric over her breasts. "Do you have a thing against music?"

"It startled me." Damn it, for a rebel I'm acting like a scared little mouse.

"Maybe we should eat. It's getting crowded and I did promise you a decent meal. I believe you gave me a curfew, too, so I had better keep the evening rolling." He shifted his weight so that her butt sat on the low bench in the water, grabbed her knees to open her legs, and slipped his body between her thighs. Hands pressed against the stones above her shoulders, he grinned before kissing her again.

"We could stay here...I don't mind."

"If we stay here," he whispered against her ear, "we're going to have sex, which would be good, I have no doubt, but I'm trying very hard to be a gentleman."

"Did I say I wanted a gentleman?"

"You're one dangerous woman, aren't you, Brandi Simms?" He nibbled her ear before sliding free of her grasp and fading into the steam. "We're going to move on to phase two of our date...after that, anything goes."


               "Ask and you shall receive." He stepped from the pool, his silhouette illuminated by the solar lights, giving her enough of a glimpse of the wet swim trunks molding his hard ass and long thighs to make her moan with longing. She wanted nothing more than to peel those trunks off of him with her teeth and let the night play out like a scene from a porn film

Buy it now!

Keep hopping!