Agh, my eyes!

AKA. Why can’t email newsletters respect Dark Mode?

There are currently 90 emails in my inbox and only a sad minority of them respect the fact that I have Dark Mode setting turned on.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Dark Mode is an accessibility feature that lets you, oh I don’t know, NOT fry the crap out of your optic nerves when you’re reading the internet after sunset. It helps reduce eyestrain and, in the case of people with light sensitivity, prevent migraines.

Yes, I know devices after dark are a bit of an “at your own peril” deal right now, but come on, it’s the twenty-first century. It really doesn’t have to be like that anymore.

I’m a fine one to talk, I know. My email newsletter doesn’t respect Dark Mode either and it annoys the shit out of me. I can’t even read my own newsletter after a certain time of day because daylight hits our apartment at just the right angle to get my eyes ready for night.

CW: A bright white rectangle. Readers with light sensitivities should squint and scroll down fast… NOW.

Preview of my email newsletter featuring dark text on a light background. Definitely not the Dark Mode experience I'm hoping for.
Agh, my eyes!! 😣

And yet it feels wrong to flip the colour scheme and force a dark design on people, even though stats suggest that Dark Mode is by far a more popular setting.

The problem here is with FORCING people. Somehow it’s different with a blog and website, though I’d like to set up Light Mode and Dark Mode options for those too. The technology we have is more than capable of giving people a choice.

Well, it’ll happen at some point, and I don’t mean that flippantly. If it’s frustrated you too, please know that I am sorry. It’s been on my mind (and eyeballs) for months and I’m working on sorting it out.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go blink away the white rectangle burned on my retina from typing this post 😅

Fresh Find: Vibes & Feels by Sarah Skye

Vibes & Feels is Sarah Skye’s latest contemporary romance and an absolute treasure of a book. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with a reformed arsehole who did the hard yards to redeem himself (because, honestly, who wouldn’t?).

It’s irreverently clever and sexy and wholesome and I’m gonna fill this room up to my waist if I don’t stop gushing now. So how about we just show you it…

Vibes & Feels by Sarah Skye

Marco Woodruff has hit rock bottom. He drunkenly propositioned his ex-girlfriend at his own wedding rehearsal dinner just over a year ago and ended up dumped and jobless with a broken nose. He’s been the pariah of his social circle ever since. Now, he’s trying like hell to change for the better.

Morgan Paulsen loathes Marco. He’s nothing more than the douchebag who broke her best friend Lily’s heart. He’s also the last person in the world she expects to help when she finds herself in a crisis. Her ailing grandma needs a full-time caretaker, something she can’t afford. So when Marco offers to look after Gram for free, Morgan takes it as a sign from the universe and reluctantly accepts under one condition: that they never tell anyone about their arrangement.

But Morgan quickly realizes Marco has a completely different vibe these days. The sweet guy who whips up homemade meals for her Gram and happily escorts her to bridge club definitely isn’t the douchebag she remembers. She’s falling hard for the tall, dark, and handsome hottie who kisses like a demon and rocks out to BTS and Taylor Swift. Marco is equally smitten with beautiful, badass Morgan. Never in his life has he felt so content and comfortable than with her. Never did he think he was capable of feeling so much for somebody.

Soon they’re falling hard into total bliss and blazing passion. But if they make it official, Morgan will lose her best friend forever. Can she come clean to Lily? Can Marco prove that therapy and cutting out his toxic family have really changed him? Or will being open about their love ruin everything?

My three pillars of writing SFR

Confidence was never my strong suit, especially when it comes to writing. Sometimes it feels like the more I learn, the less I know. So now after years of writing and who-knows-how-many classes and courses, sitting down to write a draft fills me with anxiety like you can’t imagine.

Is that normal? No idea. But one way I try to work around it is by staying focused on the most important elements of this blended genre. This weekend, I’m visiting Amber Daulton’s blog to share my approach. Here ’tis:

Could you write so well that your infodumps are interesting?

I’m reading a book at the moment where the first two chapters seem to be one infodump chained after another, and yet they string me along with their colourful worldbuilding, unique character histories, and sudden bouts of compelling vulgarity.

Admittedly, I’m starting to get fatigued by having to mentally jump between so many points in time, but it’s not without payoff. The stakes feel rather high on the few key events driving the plot along so far. A house gets robbed. A guy washes his mother’s car and gets a job. And I find myself wanting to find out how these two arcs converge.

Are we wrong to turn our noses up at infodumps? Could they actually be opportunities to create art within art? Would we still refer to them by such a humble term as “infodump” if they evoked a spark of curiosity and emotion as powerful as the story itself?

Many questions, no answers, but perhaps something to try at one’s next freewriting session over tea ☕️

Checking in on un-social times

It’s getting nigh on when I need to make a decision about the role social media plays in my life. At least when it comes to Twitter, whose 30-day deactivation policy draws a hard line on this experiment milestone. So why not check in, hey. Why bloody not!

I haven’t missed the Twitter app on my phone. Haven’t missed doomscrolling and idle-scrolling. Haven’t missed the DMs.

Without all this, I’m reading more, writing more, focusing better, and making more realistic plans for the future. I don’t think I was addicted to social media before, but neurological mechanisms underpinning addiction were probably forming in some fashion when I was at my most active.

That said, I do appreciate the value of having Twitter whilst not letting it devour so much time and attention. Incidental chatter with nice people is one upside. Letting others get to know you is another. Even if that version of you is curated, it’s still a way to break the ice hindering deeper connections.

Humourist Willie Handler recently asked whether you’d want to be a social media influencer or bookseller, which got me thinking more in terms of “who I am” versus “what I do”. I’m not a social media influencer and don’t aspire to be. And I’m not a great bookseller either, but I am a creator. I’m an artist and writer who seems to do better in the quiet.

On other fronts, I haven’t been missing Facebook or Instagram much. Pinterest has filled that gap with a delectable trove of interesting content minus the pressure to be on all the time. Friends have suggested Facebook Marketplace is where I may come back, but I’m quite happily not there yet.

Well, with my 30-day Twitter deadline coming up, I have reactivated my @jlperidot account to keep my handle. But I’m not planning to suddenly hang out there just yet, so how about we keep connecting without it 😊

Stuff to share: Feb 2022

It Starts with a Kiss is on sale for 99c across a bunch of ebook retailers until the end of this month.

Vibes & Feels by Sarah Skye launches on the 22nd of this month.

The first five chapters of Sarah Smith’s The Close-Up is available on NetGalley.

There’s a fantasy, sci-fi romance and paranormal romance book fair going on at StoryOrigin.

Robecca Austin’s latest billionaire romance is currently available in Kindle Unlimited.

This red hot romance ebook sale is running until 1 March. All books going for $2.99 or less.

Book 5 in A.R. Vagnetti’s very hot paranormal romance series recently dropped. Fatal Storm is is available now.

This book sale on StoryOrigin features steamy romances with fantastic heroines.

Finally, here is Burning Love, an all-genre book fair for steamy, consensual romances.

500 words is fine today

After giving up on writing over the weekend, I fired up the old word processor today and cracked out a healthy 500-word session. Granted, it took about an hour and a half, but I reckon I’ll use every one of those 500 words and then some.

500 is looking to be about my average for a reasonable writing session. That’s not bad considering about 3 years ago, I was aiming for 350 words. Last year’s NaNoWriMo saw me hit up to 2000 words per day, but numbers like that make it easy to hide the amount of planning, preparation and perspiration that goes along with it.

It’s hard to let go of the high-pressure unsolicited advice the well-intentioned “experts” will throw at you—that you should smash out a mega word count everyday otherwise how can you call yourself a professional writer? Maybe that’s the go for journalists and content mill bloggers, but maybe—just maybe—there’s also another way to exist? This is a big, diverse world with many ways to hustle. Surely “publish or perish” and toxic productivity narratives are on their way to becoming a thing of the past?

This year, I’m (practicing) giving myself permission to be okay with a lower word count (until the next NaNo challenge). Six years is enough time to observe that perhaps I do have a process that works for me when I lean into it. 350 words worked back when it was the season for it. Last year’s NaNo worked during NaNo month. And 500 words works just fine today.

Fresh Find: They Visited Cruelties Upon Their Savior by Vince Salamone

Vince Salamone writes incredible words. Beautiful words. Foreboding words. His dark fantasy has an imaginative and emotional charm that packs a satisfying punch. I do have a Salamone favourite, but it’s not currently accessible online.

This piece, however—a vivid and elegant dark fantasy short—can be found on Reedsy and is well worth a look:

Hinting for good luck

Work has begun in earnest on a “new old” writing project. For some reason, it seems like bad luck to try and tell people about it, yet dropping hints doesn’t feel quite so scary? I think somewhere along the way, I’ve come to attach superstition to my writing process and now can’t seem to shake it.

That said, I do often hear that if you want to finish a project, you should beaver away at it in the background and not tell anyone until it’s done. Because talking about what you’re doing can put you in precarious positions such as:

Tricking your brain into thinking it’s done, because you get the desired excitement, respect and/or admiration from the people you’ve told. I guess that’s the psychology behind why sometimes people make promises when caught up in the moment, but then neglect to keep those promises. The incentive is gone because they’ve already been paid off with excitement.

Coming across like you’re open to feedback, which can be remarkably destructive when the feedback comes from people who a) aren’t knowledgeable about what you’re working on, b) aren’t familiar enough with you and your methods to tailor their advice, or c) are salty sour-pusses who speak from a place of jealousy or self-loathing. That said, feedback can be super constructive when it’s from the right peers.

Getting fed up with the project because that time you spent talking was a poor use of effort as it didn’t get you closer to completion. Nor did you get to take a break from it to recharge. The fatigue is real. It’s perhaps the reason why we’re often told to get some space from our work in order to produce higher quality output.

I’m sure there are more precarious positions in the mix, but these seem insidious enough, and I know I’ve run into at least two of them many times over the years.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with talking about our work, but I think in this case, after getting stuck on this project—code named “SATINE2″—for so many years, I’ll stick to hinting cryptically about it.

Just for good luck.