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And thus ends RAM 2021. It was hard, it was easy, it was fun, it was enlightening. It was another step in my career. It was another step forward.

It was progress.

It is new friendships.

It is one more step in learning how NOT to be a lone wolf in my career. Yes, I have my friends but I rarely reach out for actual fucking HELP. I simply don’t do that. I’ve done it here and there for releases and some brainstorming but never in the same capacity as other authors have approached me. I’m happy to help them, b the way. But I don’t know what I’m looking for.

I have my work wives (west coast and east coast) but “West Coast work wife” has a life and I don’t want to bother…and the east coast work wife is too busy with stonks LOL! Seriously though, I know it’s me. I JUST told the chat at RAM’s closing remarks you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive. I’m a proud romance author. Do you know how many death metal concerts I could attend and how many fans of romance I’d find? Actually…a few. Many of the women into death metal or the subgenres are into PNR…I know “men should read sci-fi or fantasy or literary.”

First off, FUCK literary. It bores the FUCK out of me. Second, Have we met? My background is Hungarian and on top of that, I’m a goddamn CANCER so can you say HELLO EMOTIONAL TRAIN WRECK? LOL! Let’s feel ALL THE DAMN THINGS!

I owned the first 45 or so titles when Harlequin launched the now-defunct BLAZE line. I could identify with the sex (hello, male!) and then I was shown that there could be angst too. Julie Leto and JoAnne Rock were early inspirations. Cherry Adair too. So I started with Christine Feehan and Laurel K. Hamilton. I forgot who offhand, that it was but some author I read had characters that were FUCKEDUP. Might have been Kenyon’s Acheron (before his book), might have been JR Ward…no. Wait. Someone…was it Lora Leigh? I don’t remember. But those heroes were, screw flawed, they were FUCKED UP like I was. Yet they got a HEA.

Something I thought was NEVER possible. I know better now.

But I’ve been SCREAMING at emptiness as an author with the backlist, career length I have had for something to…I don’t know? Fix my shit? The wrong tactic, wrong though, I know. I have a better idea now that I’ve been thinking about this in terms of how I move. One of the presenters talked about your personality type and while that shifts, the thing is? You are your…past inspirations isn’t quite the right terminology for it, but you are the product of what you have been given. What I have been given was authors who worked old school, 20 years to a career when success hit and it ‘felt’ like overnight, but it wasn’t. It was rejection after rejection to the point where many of my heroes could wallpaper their houses with the letters of rejection. I was lucky. I only have rejections from agents and not even that many. But they played the long game, the marathon. I never thought being a long-distance runner in high school would have the implications on my mindset that it has, but here I am. Twenty years later, bitching, but not quitting. Screaming, but not giving up. Or maybe I’m screaming NOT to give up. The jury is out on that currently. But I have a lot of things to consider that relate to my last post, courtesy of RAM.

But I suppose if I had to name this feeling, I’d say I’m feeling raw. Exposed, because I let loose a few tears at the closing remarks. Skye talked about our Hero’s Journey and how we’ve gone through it. She would be 100% right. I don’t like this though. It’s open, too open.

But I know better internally. (also, I should probably eat something. Bulletproof coffee is good but…)

RAM was a touch base with a few authors I’ve known along the way. RAM was pissing me off because Lucy Score’s keynote was pissing me off because she was RIGHT and I HATE crying. Hell, years ago at TNEE I met a woman who owned my ENTIRE BACKLIST and would have lost my shit if not for my Beautiful Crone being there…because I’m grateful for every fan. Every single one.

RAM was a wonderful event and a chance to grow.

RAM was incredible.

RAM was intense.

Now, RAM is over and I can go outside with a cigar and a beer…or ask the younger lover for us to get a bottle of wine (I still have Goulash, power move, stew the weekend of the virtual conference!) for tonight and I can process. Because these are my people. And like my fans, I’m grateful for each and every single one of you. Thank you Skye, Becca, et. al.

I can tie this back into passion. Upset isn’t the right word, confusion? No…new friend Xio Axelrod, may be able to articulate how I might feel about shit that moves us? Shit we’re passionate about?

My last long-form post mentioned cigars and alcohol and those two industries keep telling me I belong with them. When I fell on hard emotional times, Tastytrade (brokerage) had my back. Going forward, they support my trading with responsible emails and a lot of snark. I dig that shit.

I wonder what the wonders of RWA Nationals will reveal when I’m a presenter in two weeks. I can only imagine. So, I’m following my passion. Now it’s time to plan. Tuesday. After the house is cleaned on Monday. Because it’s a warzone…and well after First Call.

As Strongman Brian Shaw says, “Be great.”

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