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Good vs Good Enough

Sometimes I worry I’m not a good enough writer to achieve the things I want to achieve. I know I’m a good writer, and a competent one, but I’ve come to understand that good is still miles away from good enough.

It’s true in anything that a person can be bad at it, okay at it, competent, good at it… And then we usually skip (in our mental scale of ability) to great or amazing. He’s a “pretty good” musician, we might say, but she’s a “great” singer. But somewhere between good and great is good enough. Because good can only get you so far, but good enough gets you much farther. Good might win you a few fans and followers, but good enough can get you a record deal.

We all strive for great, of course. Those of us who create for a living—we all want to do it not just well but wonderfully well. That’s a tall order. And it’s not a bad thing to have standards and goals. But we also have to learn to be okay with good enough. Because good enough means we can still reach those goals, even if we have more work and learning to do.

So here I am. I’m really only aiming for good enough right now because I barely have the energy. And I’m so, so afraid I’m not good enough and that nothing I can do will make me good enough. That I’m a lost cause. That I’ll never be more than good, or even competent, as a writer.

This is the reality: sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you won’t make it. I don’t say this to discourage anyone! But we do live in a society that likes to tell the story of how someone persists and eventually makes it. We don’t like to hear that hard work sometimes doesn’t pay off.

So do we give up then? That’s an individual choice. There is the sunk cost fallacy of, after having put in so much time and energy, one feels they simply cannot stop. But there’s also the nagging idea of never knowing when you might break through. That’s what keeps people playing the lottery after all. To continue is an ongoing gamble. Each person must decide for him- or herself how much of their time and energy they’re willing to wager. And the answer to that question can change by the day!

These past few days I have struggled. I’ve felt pretty down about myself and my work. This has happened before—once for an entire year in which I did not write anything but one short story… that thankfully got published because I think it might have ruined me as a writer if no one had wanted it.

Currently, I have two projects. One is a massive rewrite from scratch. The other is a fun new little thing. They weirdly have a lot in common, though I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to ruin anything. I have sketchy outlines for a couple more books after these, too. So it’s likely I’ll continue to write. And hopefully one day one of these* will be considered good enough for an agent or publisher.

Now Available: The K-Pro

What can a fairy godmother do for a man who already seems to have everything?

Andra Martineau is a K-Pro—a living good-luck charm with the ability to make people’s dreams come true. But when led to help up-and-coming actor David Styles, Andra’s presence seems to be more curse than blessing. With the help of David’s incorrigible co-star, Andra begins to realize the true nature of her power… and David’s hidden identity as well. Will she be able to save David from himself?

This book is what I call a “paranormal romantic comedy.” Which is somewhat unusual, and that’s why I think I never did find an agent for it. But it’s a fun, light romp with a mythical twist, perfect for summer. I hope you’ll give it a read and leave a review when you’re done.

I originally published this one in 2013 as my first full-length self-published effort. I’ve learned a lot since then about having a good cover, etc. The K-Pro is now available in paperback and also on Kindle, and is free to read via Kindle Unlimited!

What Color Am I?

When I was little, I had white-blonde hair, blue eyes, and skin dark enough that the Latina women at the laundromat would berate my mother for trying to “pass me off as white.” They thought she was bleaching my hair—that, based on my skin tone, I was half Latina myself. My mother told them again and again that, no, I just came out that way.

It’s an issue that has surfaced semi-regularly throughout my life. My grandparents called me “Texican.” At the time I considered it an affectionate nickname, and I’m pretty sure that was how it was intended. However, in retrospect, it’s somewhat racist, too. And inaccurate. Because I’m not Latina. I’m Creole.

But that doesn’t stop people from assuming. My daughter’s third-grade teacher went through the entire school year thinking I was Latina. I get people who walk up to me and start speaking Spanish until they notice my blank stare. I mean, I grew up in Texas, so I know all the signage: salidas, basura, piso mojadotacos y mas… Anything else I may understand or recognize (besides si and gracias) I’ve extrapolated from having spoken French, the languages being similar.

My early French wasn’t even “real” French; it was the Cajun dialect of Southern Louisiana. Later, I took French in high school and college because I figured it would be easy. And it mostly was except for having to remember which suffixes to use for the various tenses. Thank God they all sound the same when you speak it.

My dad’s family came from France in the 1780s. They weren’t Acadian (Cajun) in that they didn’t go to Canada only to be relocated later; they sailed straight to New Orleans then ventured out and settled in the Vermillion Parish area. At some point those lily-white French ancestors (who were actually from English stock that had settled in Brittany) mixed and mingled with, well… stories differ. But the result down the line was that some of us have olive skin that turns toasty after even a few minutes in the sun. My dad has the dark hair, too, but the blue eyes. My hair got darker as I got older but never as dark as his.

Fictional character Peter Grant (from the Ben Aaronovitch series of books) once said something about his “winter plumage” and I identified so hard with that remark. From late spring through early fall, for as long as I can get regular sunlight, I’m a nice brown. It feels like the right, real me. But come winter I turn a sickly yellow. I hate it. I spend winter longing for my color.

That said, I know that I don’t actually understand what people of color go through on a regular basis. My features are Anglo enough that, aside from that occasional assumption about what language I speak, the only real hassle I receive is for my gender rather than my skin color. I have the luxury of embracing my heritage without fear. If I encounter police, I generally don’t worry. I’ve never had cause to think my color would prevent me from getting a job. Or that, when I go into a store, people might think I’m up to no good because my color gives them preconceived notions about my morals. Maybe I’ve just been really fortunate, since I know Latinx people do face a number of prejudices. If I looked fully Latina rather than mixed, maybe that would make a difference. I don’t know.

Since I can fill out a form and mark “Caucasian,” I guess that’s how I identify. And how people see me, at least most of the time. But there are times when I hesitate before checking that box. Am I really? I wonder. Well, I live as a Caucasian. Which means I live a privileged life. Something I’ve been thinking long and hard about lately.

“You’re lucky,” an old Latina woman told me once. “You can pass.” I don’t think I understood at the time just how lucky that makes me. I may never fully comprehend my fortune.

About Those Starred Books

I’ve finally gotten all the links up on my Bibliography page. If you click on the book images, you should be taken to the Amazon page for that title. (For Letters to Rob, you’ll be taken to the PDF.) I agonized about linking to Amazon, as I’d really prefer you to support indie bookstores, but based on pretty much all my sales info, most people are still buying from Amazon, and my job as author is to facilitate your purchases of my books. That said, please buy from indies whenever possible. You can ask them to order my paperbacks, easy peasy.

But this post is meant to be about the starred books on my Bibliography page. Titles with a star beside them have homosexual content. And the reason I chose to call them out that way is because I get really angry readers (and really bad reviews) when they aren’t “warned” that there are gay people in my books. Never mind that I usually categorize them in gay/LGBT metadata. I guess not everyone scrolls down that far? But to save from confusion and, hopefully, to forestall future frustration and ire, I’ve starred my gay books.

One supposes that if I always wrote gay books, readers would know to expect it. And if I would simply stick to hetero stories, no one would have reason to leave angry reviews. (Well, they might, but at least that one reason would not be valid.) Alas, I’m the kind of author who likes to write whatever she feels like writing at the time, meaning it’s a 50/50 chance there will be gay content.

Q: Why do you write gay characters?

Because I have many gay, lesbian, asexual, and even polyamorous friends. My best friend’s little sister is trans. I grew up with her, and I want all these wonderful people to populate my stories, too. Because they’re in the real world and therefore deserve to be reflected in the fictional world as well. And not as the focus of angst or voyeuristic lust, but as people. With jobs and relationships and all the stuff that comes with life in general. Sometimes there is angst, and sometimes there’s a bit of lust, but not always from their sexuality. Because sexuality is not what defines us. It’s only part of the whole.

I’m not saying that coming out stories or hot LGBTQIA+ erotica is bad. It’s just not my thing and not where I focus. Sadly, though, some readers still aren’t ready to have gay characters presented as “normal.” And when they read my books, they feel slapped in the face by that representation. SO. I’ve starred those titles as a fair warning to them.

Of course, if they come across my books elsewhere, they may not get that warning. Sigh. I like to think that if they’re given enough such media—that is, books and movies and television shows with gay characters presented in a normal, everyday context—they’ll get used to it and stop being so offended every time it crosses their paths. But some people cling to hate because that’s part of their identity. To let go leaves them feeling bereft of purpose. “If I don’t hate x, then who or what am I?”

I dunno. Human? Find a hobby. Preferably one that isn’t dedicated to hating whole groups of people.

Well, until that day, I will star the titles that have LGBTQIA+ content. As of this post, that only really includes gay, meaning I don’t have any lesbians or transgender characters, though I do say Richard in Faebourne is asexual. The second Changers book was meant to have a trans character, but I never did finish writing it. :/

I will try to do better.

This is an awfully long post for such a simple purpose, but I think the topic is, in itself, an important one. TL;DR: starred books on my Bibliography page have LGBTQIA+ content.

Welcome!

This is my new author website. I’m still working out where I want to put things. It’s a bit like moving into a new house, isn’t it? Which shelves go where and all that kind of thing. Please bear with me as I “unpack.” And let me know if anything looks or feels wonky or difficult to navigate. While I can’t promise I can change everything (some walls are load bearing and can’t be knocked down), I’ll do my best to make us all comfortable in the new space.