MY NEW hobby


It’s been more than a year since my last post… and what a year+ it’s been.

What’s the deal? I don’t feel like writing. Not journal entries. Not blog posts. Not short stories. Not novels. Not even the one I’m almost finished with.

2020 was a giant cloud of stress–personally and professionally. I’ve been very busy with my full-time job (which I actually enjoy). In my free time, I’ve been practicing self-care. My sanity and happiness is currently more important that how many words I can write in a day or how many books I can publish in a year.

I think 2021 will be much of the same. I’m shifting gears right now and considering writing my new hobby… and not a business that I’ll be actively marketing or promoting.

Am I quitting writing? No.

Am I scrapping my books in progress? No, but they may change when my brain is focused on that again.

Am I abandoning my characters? Hell no.

Do I have any ETAs on the next book? Positively no.

When the world opens up, will I be attending signings? Not this year.

Will I ever write Steven’s series? Also, probably no. (Sorry. I’m so far removed from that story that it’s morphed into 20 different things by now.)

This year will be even more personally stressful, but also very exciting because I AM LEAVING TEXAS! I’m taking my cat (oh, yeah! I got a cat!) and we’re moving to Virginia in August. I’ve thought long and hard about this decision, and it’s time. My family is there and I feel like I’m missing out on some of the best years of our lives. I’ll get to keep my job, too, which makes it nice to still have some familiarity combined with a whole lot of new things.

Anyway, I thank everyone for coming along on this journey. I know some of you may not have the patience to stick around, but know that I’ve always appreciated your interactions with me, your reviews, your book purchases and the time we have spent together.

I will be back. I just don’t know when. In the meantime, if you want your friends to start reading my books, I’ve lowered the prices on all of them to 99¢ each from now until… some date (or maybe always).*

Until then, eyes to the sky. Love ya.

*You may have to give Amazon until February 2 for all the prices to officially change. I can’t control that part. 🙂

Why I’m not finishing Steven’s series (right now)…

Answer: I’m not a machine.

When other characters have stories to tell in my head, I go with those. I’ve written eleven other books, plus a book of extras, since I released Number Seven in 2013. So I’m not as prolific as some other authors. (As a side note, eight of those books I’ve written since 2013 have over 100,000 words.) I have a full-time job, am completely self-reliant and have had some hardships in the past few years.

The characters who have inspired me since 2013 are Livvy, Jon, Max, Callen, Trey, Will, Shea and Coley. Steven has not. Renee has not. Kaydra has not. I’m not going to write an uninspired book or series.

Believe me, I see my sales. I know people aren’t as interested in the characters who interest me; it’s a hard pill to swallow. That being said, I’m doing something my soul needs to do for me to stay healthy and happy as a person.

Someday, maybe readers’ tastes and the voices in my head will align. Until then, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing… and I’m going to stop calling Number Seven a prequel. I understand it’s misleading when I have no ETA for a follow-up.

A part of me feels the need to apologize, but… I feel like I’ve still given so much of myself over the years that an apology isn’t really needed. Instead, I’ll thank you for reading and for your patience between any releases I do have.

Peace and love, always.

I’m Still Writing… and Rambling…

I haven’t quit the book world or anything… or the blog world. Well, I’ve taken a huge step back from the blog world, and I apologize. There are just too many social “touch points” these days, and I feel I’m spread too thin. Lately – and I mean in the past three months “lately” – I’ve decided to put my novel writing above everything else. I did participate in NaNoWriMo in 2018, and I did win with over 83,000 words for the month of November. It didn’t really make up for the rest of the year, when I wrote about 16,000 words I threw out, but I have to move forward and not look back.

I’m spending time with Max Scott right now. Most of you don’t know him well – Love Like We Do wasn’t a popular series of mine, but he’s the one talking to me, so he’s the one who gets my time and attention. It’s the life of a (this) writer, what can I say? Love Like We Do was a passion project of mine. All the books since have been, in fact, and all of them have been well received by my very-very-inner-circle, and that’s about it.

The fact that very few people read Love Will and In the Wake of Wanting put me into a tailspin at the end of 2016, if I’m honest. That, with everything else going on in the world at the time, I found myself in a bad place creative and emotionally. The book I’m working on now, Make Waves, was conceived in that time, but it was completely different. I started and stopped this story about four times, and I am so happy I never continued with earlier drafts. It is so much better now. There’s humor and love, and that wouldn’t have been present before.

I did write nearly 100k words in 2017, too, in another book. It’s a keeper… it’s about Livvy and Jon, mainly. 🙂 Once it’s finished, it will come out after my current one. That’s where it goes chronologically…

And then there’s one more planned in the Hollandtown universe. I suspect it will be the last one in the timeline.

That’s not to say I won’t go back and work on Steven’s series. I still love his stories, but I literally started them nearly 10 years ago… style-wise, I’ve changed. It’s intimidating to have to rewrite from scratch.

So… what I’m saying is that beyond the three books I have planned, my publishing future is up in the air. I know I’ll continue writing because it’s a part of my soul and it’s what brings me joy, but I don’t know if publishing is the right path. I don’t like the marketing. Signings are incredibly difficult for me. And keeping everyone constantly engaged with social media posts and emails and blogs and books and books and books… well, it’s never been sustainable with my job-job. It was my dream to make fiction writing my job-job, but I make more in two hours at my job-job than I do in a month with books nowadays. And believe me, I’m not boasting about my awesome job-job salary here. My book sales are that bad. (For all you new writers, this is what happens when you slack off in all the ways I mentioned above – there were a few months I tripled my monthly salary selling books, so… it’s a fickle business.)

Anyway. Progress is being made. There WILL be a new book this year. Possibly two. If you’re fans of the Emi and Choisie series, you will NOT want to miss the one after Make Waves. It has feels like you won’t believe.

You’ve all been warned, and hopefully your patience will be rewarded.

Now, let’s see what happens when I try to post this thing without a picture, because this is where my efforts run out today.

In Memory of Ben…

Benjamin Noah was born in New Braunfels, Texas, in the spring of 2002. Due to catastrophic flooding there in early July, he was relocated to the Dallas SPCA. After the sudden loss of my wire fox terrier, Ruby, my mom and I found ourselves in the SPCA in mid-July–just looking, of course, and only for a female dog, which we found. The cute, black terrier puppy was adopted, but the man at the shelter pointed out her brother, a little brown puppy who he was sure was part border terrier and would look like the dog in “There’s Something About Mary.” Well… I knew that dog. I loved that dog! I had to have this puppy. This male puppy.

And so Benny came home with me the next day after getting neutered. I named him Ben because I’d never met a Ben I didn’t like… but mainly after Ben Folds. And Noah, of course, because of the floods that sent him to North Texas.

He was a tiny pup with a long tail. He lived so long that I don’t have any puppy pictures at my fingertips… I guess there are prints in a box or on some dusty hard drive somewhere. He came around before Facebook… but, as most of you know, he had plenty of time to get famous there. I think he worked his way into many hearts on there and on Instagram.

For those of you who know me in real life, it may surprise you to know that Ben and I did go to PetSmart’s obedience school. I think we may have skipped the last day, but I know I can’t blame his anti-social behavior on that. He lived with a hermit… what can I say? He loved me like no one else ever could, and I did the same for him.

In his younger days, Ben loved to walk, sniff everything in sight, find any chicken bone that people had tossed out, and play with his Babies. (He never stopped *ahem* loving his Babies.) Before he got pancreatitis, he used to love treat-and-peanut butter-filled Kongs. He would sleep in my bed–under the covers, if it was too cold. He loved to cuddle right next to me and take up way more than half of the bed. I’ve probably bought him at least 10 dog beds in his lifetime… but he scoffed at those. Obviously they were made for other dogs. Lesser dogs.

In the mornings, he would walk up to me, lie down on my chest and roll around on my neck. And then he’d stare at me with the cutest, scruffy face. It was the best way to start any day.

When I would shower, he would always cry. For years. Like he thought I’d snuck away without him. I used to be able to soothe him by talking to him… in the past year, I’d poke my head or hand out and wait until he was close enough to find me, just so he’d know I hadn’t left him.

Aside from me, Ben loved two other people–my dad and my mom (aka his Nana). And that’s pretty much it. He learned to tolerate company as he matured, as long as they didn’t bother him. He was the alpha dog, and he knew it. I knew it. Everyone knew it.

He began losing his sight first a few years ago, and then his hearing went, too. He was still able to get around really well in our small apartment because it was familiar. Over a year ago, I noticed that dementia was beginning to set in… and he didn’t always recognize me or trust what I was doing when I was simply putting a leash on him or picking him up to carry him to bed. He’s always been a biter, but he was getting more and more aggressive as his mind continued to deteriorate.

And I realized it was time. When I realized the only thing he really looked forward to anymore was eating, my heart kind of hurt. And as I planned his last days, and thought of doing his favorite things with him, I realized he didn’t really have any anymore–and that’s when I began to think it was not only time, but maybe past his time. Perhaps I’d waited too long for him. Perhaps I was too selfish.

There were moments when he knew me, though. I think he knew me every day when I got home from work. Or I like to think he did. He wagged his tail. Walked right up to me. Let me pet him. And last night, I rubbed him behind his ears for a good 15 minutes, much to his delight. This morning, we cuddled on the couch while I cried. He licked the tears off my nose a few times. I know he wouldn’t behave so kindly to a stranger.

Maybe he still found pleasure in a few simple things. Maybe he still loved me.

Benjamin Noah lived to be 16 years and 1 month. He was the best friend and companion of my life, regardless of the number of scars he’s left on my skin. They’re just reminders that he lived. I’m grateful to have so many pictures and silly videos of him so I can always look back at that little face that brought a smile to my own every single morning. I loved him with all my heart and will miss him with all my soul.

Find peace, baby bear. Peace of mind… and enjoy sight and sounds again! No more darkness and silence. No more mind-playing-tricks-on-you. Knowing you’re not living like that anymore is the only way I can accept this is the right thing for you.

I love you, Benny. Always.


Benjamin Noah Otto 5/1/2 – 6/1/18