The Hashtag Adventure

I blinked, and it was the end of September. I'm not entirely sure how that happened - but here we are.

For the last couple of months, I've had the pleasure of participating in a couple of writer's Instagram challenges. I joined #romancewritersaugust after I'd randomly stumbled across it in my feed. @artisdigitalmedia manages my Instagram. I'm so grateful for our partnership, as her work allows me to interact with readers on my favorite platform while still directing most of my spare time toward my writing. Though,  she's been trying to get me to offer a personal touch to the daily posts for a while. It was something I wanted, for sure; and every time she gave me a prompt, I could respond - but to have an entire month's worth of posts to supply her with ammunition was like gold. It was also really fun. Every day, I knew what my answers would be - but waiting to see which picture she would post with my copy was exciting. It was so fun, we decided to join #writetogther for a September challenge. I think a couple of the best parts of doing these challenges has been the evolution of my partnership with @artisdigitalmedia, as well as the opportunity to feel a part of something with a community of writers in a way that I truly enjoy.

Now, for those of you who might not follow me on IG - or if the algorithm of your feed caused you to miss a few posts - I thought I'd recap the last couple of months and let you know what I've been up to!


1 - August Goal: Write five times a week.
I've learned that while goals are extraordinary tools in my writing endeavors, they can also just as easily lead to destructive habits if I'm not careful. So this month, I don't have a word count goal, I don't have any aspirations to make it to any specific point in my WIP, I just want to make it a priority to write at least five times a week.

2 - Author photo...

3 - Do you use your real name or a pen name? Both, I suppose. R. and C. are my initials, Martin is my last name; I’ve always considered this a pen name, as I don't answer to R.C. in any other sphere.

4 - What makes your WIP one of an kind?:  It’s one of a kind because I’m the one writing it.

5 - First time you discovered you loved writing: I was 17 when I realized I enjoyed writing. I had this AP Lit teacher who made analytical papers seem more like artistic jigsaw puzzles, and I love jigsaw puzzles. For some reason, writing more than for academic purposes seemed like a great idea, so I penned my first book (literally with pen and paper) my senior year of high school. The rest, as they say, is history.

6 - WIP character similar to you:  I've written enough fictional characters to get to that point where I can honestly say, the characters in my WIP (at least the ones with significance) are not like me. Not really. They're like THEM, which is even better

7 - How many books have you written?: I believe I'm somewhere around 27, but I've only published 16 of them with one waiting in the wings.

8 - WIP hero/heroine's age: My hero, Khalohn, is 35. My heroine, Jessica, is almost 24.

9 - "Book lover's day" how many do you own?: Too many to count, mostly because I'm lazy, not because I have a ton of them. I actually just gave away a couple boxes full. Oh, unless you count the books on my kindle, then I really do have too many to count--and that's not at all because I'm lazy, it's because I know I have more than I will ever read in this lifetime.

10 - My most recently purchased book: The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer - partly because I really liked The Host and haven't read anything by Meyer since then; partly because she wrote it in third person, and that's kind of my thing these days.

11 - Which romance author inspires you? This has always been a pretty difficult question for me, because the answer is usually "I don't know." Today, I think the honest answer would be Nicholas Sparks, but not because of his writing. It’s confusing, because my reasons are complicated. I just, I don't know, I like where his fiction fits. And if that makes any sense to you, you now understand me a little bit more than most.

12 - The first line of my #wip: “Atzel stands on the curb, his right hand casually holding his left wrist as he waits for his employer.”

13 - Plotter or Panster? BOTH! The only published book I have out right now I wrote an outline for is The Bridgewater Case. Oh, and I wrote a skeleton of an outline for the suspense element in Tethered. Everything else was a product of what was in my head at the time. But having seen both sides, I now appreciate the value of an outline. My WIP? It has a 17 page outline, and I totally dig having a road map.

14 - Fun fact about my WIP hero? Khalohn enjoys doing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle.

15 - Fun fact about my WIP heroine? Jessica...well, it's a bit of a secret I don't reveal until chapter ten. So, I guess you'll have to wait and see.

16 - Which writing apps do I use? When you say writing app...what do you mean? Haha. I guess maybe I'm old school? I don't use any apps. I use Google Drive and Microsoft Word and that's about it.

17 - Current Read....I will shamelessly admit, I've been reading Fool For You

18 - Hero's flirting style. Well, if you knew the plot, you'd understand why Khalohn doesn't flirt. He doesn't have to.

19 - Heroine's flirting style. Hmmm...I'm not entirely sure. She hasn't shown me yet. She hasn't been in the position to do so. But I see her as a playful flirt.

20 - Coffee or Tea.....TEA!!!!!

21 - Hero's weaknesses? Uhm....Jessica.

22 - Heroine's weaknesses? Apple pie.

23 - My idea of a romantic date? Man, I don't even know. Honestly. It's been a really long time since I've been on one. And I'm not sure I've ever been on one I thought was particularly romantic (she admits before she sings: don't cry for me Argentina)

24 - Most romantic, sunrise or sunset? Sunrise. I love a sunrise.

25 - Summarize hero/heroine's first kiss. Summarize a kiss? Have you met me?

26 - My WIPs antagonists strengths?  Her anonymity.

27 - An emotional snippet in my WIP:
The click of his shoes on the sidewalk beckons her to turn in his direction, and he folds her in his arms the second her first tear falls. Neither one of them speaks as she crumbles a little in his hold. She chokes on her burgeoning sob, clinging unabashedly to his sleek suit. He holds her tighter, and she loves him harder. Gritting her teeth together, Jessica breathes in the elegant scent of Bleu De Chanel she associates with her best friend, trying to swallow the knot threatening to split her throat wide open.

“Let it out, Jess. It’s okay. I’ve got you,” murmurs Stefano as he presses a kiss into her hair.

While his words are meant to grant her permission to fall apart, she doesn’t have the luxury of such fragility. Instead, she grabs hold of his lapels and presses her fists against his chest, shoving herself out his hold. Her brown eyes catch his hazel ones, and his arms fall to his sides in helpless understanding. Jessica drags in a lungful of air, then another, blowing out each one in a huff. She then sniffles, sweeps her fingers beneath her eyes, and takes hold of one of his hands.


“Coffee,” she states with a shake of her head.

Stefano allows her to lead him back into the diner without question.

28 - Have you traveled to your WIP's location? YES! I'm so excited I can say that. It's in New York City. I haven't been to all the places the novel explores, but a few of them.

29 - If your WIP becomes a movie, which actors would play your characters? I'm going to answer this like the analytical person I am and say - I don't know. The thing is, your actors have to have chemistry. Plus, we all know, casting is rarely what we dream up in our head. However, this novel of mine comes complete with a couple of famous muses. In my head, Khalohn is Jake Gyllenhaal (with a beard) and my heroine is Minka Kelly.

30 - Is your WIP a stand-alone or series? Mmmm....this kinda thing is always hard to say. But Jess and Khal don't get any other books, so let's just say stand- alone.


1 Okay - I'm three days late to this party, because I didn't think I wanted to come....but then I changed my mind. So, allow me to play catch-up. What are your goals for September? Well, I'd like to finish editing Cruiz & Hanna so I can get back to Khal and Jess. I'd also like to publish something, just for fun. I think I can do all of the above.

2 Tell us about the setting of your WIP. Why did you choose it? So, since I've had to set Khal and Jess aside to wrap up Severed, I'll tell you about Severed's setting. It's in a small town in Tennessee I'd never heard of and have never been. Why I choose it? Because I needed a centralized location between Winchester, TN and Nashville, TN...and that's all you get. If you really want to know more, you'll just have to read the book when it comes out! (Though, I'll admit, the setting is more of an obligatory detail and not a focal point in this novel.)

3 What's my main character's guilty pleasure? I don't know that Cruiz feels guilty about much. At least nothing rated PG. Hanna, on the other hand, she likes to eat ice cream out of the carton.

4 Is your story autobiographical at all? Severed - nope. The Lies of Bryn Van Doren - Ha! Not even a little bit.

5 Was your WIP influenced by any other author's work? Isn't everybody's work in some way, shape, or form influenced by something they've read or seen? I mean, I could say no - that neither of the stories I'm working on where influenced by anyone....except, yesterday I admitted they weren't autobiographical in anyway, which means my ideas came from somewhere that is not marked as "life experience". So, while I can't pinpoint any influencer in particular...I'll just say - isn't everybody's work in some way, shape, or form influenced by something they've read or seen?

6 How long have you been working on this project? What stage are you in? I've been working on Severed since January - which is an excruciatingly long for me. But I'm learning a lot about myself and my new process and the importance of perseverance and patience and expectations. I'm also almost done, thank goodness. My fifth read brought about more revisions than I expected - so I have to read it one more time. But I'm hoping the sixth time is a charm. The Lies of Bryn Van Doren is a book I started in August, when I needed a break from Severed. My hero and heroine haven't even met yet - so we're just getting started.

7 When writer's block hits, what's your best advice for breaking through? Uhm, I don't really believe in writer's block. I understand getting stuck - in which case, I usually go back and search for the reason. Most of the time, I've gone too fast and I need to slow down and develop something that will enable me to keep going. And if it's not that, I just walk away for a bit. Sometimes, your brain (or your story) needs you to take a breath and do something else. Deadlines be damned.

8 If you could ask (or tell) your MC any one thing, what would it be? Cruiz, you're one of the most noble men I've ever written. Thank  you for that. But it's time you and I parted ways. I've got to go break down Khal's walls, now.

9 When is your favorite time to write? ....when the words are there. Honestly, I'd like to say 5:00am is my favorite time to write - but my routine/creativity/whatever you want to call it doesn't work like that. Neither does my life. I'm a morning person who has to go to work in the morning, which means my writing gets my leftover energy most of the time. I will say, I prefer to write when the sun is still out. But if the words are flowing and the sun is long gone, that's fine by me, too.

10 Where is your favorite place to write? Anywhere that I can find focus. I have a writing desk that sometimes hits the spot - but then sometimes my couch is where I want to be (it's so comfy.) Then again, I've been doing most of my final Severed edits in my, yeah. Wherever I can find focus.

11 Share those writing snacks! I can't snack and write. Either I'm snacking or I'm writing. It's really one or the other. Seriously. I might have good intentions of doing both - but at some point, I'm just chewing and reaching and staring at my computer screen, which isn't productive. So...snacks are for writing breaks. And if it's a really good writing day - getting up for food is an irritating inconvenience.

12 What hobbies do you have outside of writing? I like to crotchet! I also love doing jigsaw puzzles. So relaxing.

13 Do you aspire to be traditionally published, or do you want to do it all independently? I used to declare self-publish all the way. Now I'm kind of on the fence. Traditional would be cool, too; but I'm not, like, holding my breath or anything.

14 What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given? Rest. That might not be creative, but it's the greatest advice I've been given since I started on this writing/publishing journey. Let your brain rest. Your characters will still be there when you get back.

15 What's the worst piece of creative advice you've ever been given? I wrote a rockstar, right? I was looking for helpful marketing tips to try and get Sage some attention, you know? Someone looked at my covers for the series and said - go on Amazon and search for other books in the same genre. Look at their covers and change yours to match theirs. Be like everyone else. That was her advice......yeah, no.

16 Do you write in the genre you prefer to read? Short answer? Yes. But I also like to read things that aren't strictly romance. There's something really great about finding a speck of romance in a thriller or a sci-fi or fantasy novel and chasing after that one drop - that one taste of love as it is weaved into a much larger plot. I'm going to write something like that someday.

17 What's your biggest writing pet peeve? I've got two. (Well, I'm assuming this means things that bug me in my own writing...) When I start sentences with "and" or "but" AND semicolons. Usually, it isn't until my second or third read through the manuscript that I realize, no matter how many I deleted in my first couple rounds of editing, there are still A TRILLION LEFT that I neglected to notice. What's even worse is how I'll fix my "and" and "but" problem by removing the period and adding a semicolon - ridiculous, right? I usually catch those the fourth and sometimes fifth read. Apparently I've got a thing for long sentences or something.

18 Where do you think you got your love for words/stories? I don't think - I know. AP lit my senior year in high school. My teacher exposed the art of a great thesis statement - and the rest is history.

19 Give us an excerpt from your current WIP. Well, I know I started this month off with Severed - but today, it is officially no longer a WIP. It's being formatted! So, I'm spending my time with Khal and Jess again. I suppose I can give you a little something.

Jessica doesn’t have time to panic. She’s late.

Jogging the short distance that remains between her and her destination, she reaches for the handle of the old, creaky door and hurries into the back hallway of Moby’s Dive. The dimly lit corridor has become quite familiar to Jessica over the course of the last six months. This is why, in spite of her flustered state, she’s aware of the walls covered in paint so ancient, she’s sure she doesn’t want to know what the original color was. They’re plastered in an assortment of vintage posters that weren’t considered so two decades ago, and she’s all but memorized every single one. As she passes by the images of bands ranging from classics to one-hit-wonders, she tucks her hair behind her ears and digs into her purse for her phone. With the device in hand, she pauses and adjusts her shoulder strap, typing out a quick text to her best friend.

Huey. Emergency. Our place. Off at twilight.

After she hits send, she peers at the swinging door situated at the end of the hallway. Blowing out a sigh, she combs her fingers through her dark, maple-brown hair, gripping a fistful at the crown of her head as she wills her trepidatious thoughts to take a back seat.  Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” blares over the sound system, oozing through every crack and crevice between her and the main room—the music battling with the roar of the rambunctious crowd awaiting her on the other side. Dropping her phone back into her purse, she shakes away the news threatening to distract her and tries to find her best playful smile.

Tonight, she can use all the tips she can get.

20 Does your MC have any pets? Hahaha - no. I've only written one pet in my writing career thus far. Maestro, who was Sage's French bulldog. The thing about writing a pet is you have to remember to take care of the pet just as you would have to remember to take care of a real pet. I had to remember that when Sage was out all night, someone had to watch his pup. And when he went out of town, he had to have a pup-sitter. Not to mention, after a few rounds with Millie, before he could go to sleep, he had to let Maestro out! I mean, these are details that can't be overlooked - and sometimes, I'd just rather not, haha.

21 Do you have any abandoned manuscripts you wish you could get back to? I try not to abandon manuscripts - but I do have one. And I don't so much wish I could get back to it so much as I wish I could figure out how to create the character I've been wanting to perfect in the hero I was working on. He's been in my head for ages - and I've been able to get bits and pieces of him to come out through other heroes, but I've never been able to capture him as magnificently as he exists in my bits and pieces might be the best I can do.

22 What are some of your favorite writerly IG accounts? There are so many people in my feed, it's often times overwhelming. But I do have one who pops into my head. Marla Holt. Her feed is so bright and happy - and she does fun things with yarn, which is just perfect.

23 How do you reward yourself for a good writing session? Haha - I stop writing. Sometimes I'll watch an episode of my current Netflix show.

24 What is your definition of success? In regards to my writing - doing what I love with integrity.

25 Who is your biggest cheerleader? Myself, which sounds a little arrogant; but the truth is, even the others who cheer me on can’t always pull me out of the mental holes I dig for myself. They can help, but I’m the one who has to believe I’m more or better than my inner critic would have me believe. 

26 Where do you see yourself and your writing in five years? I don’t know. That depends on what life looks like. My writing and I are in a far different place than I anticipated even a year ago...I’d rather take it one day and one project at a time instead of trying to peek into the future. I hope I’m still writing. I hope I still love it. And I hope I’m better at it. 

27 Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self about your writing journey? Yeah, it’s not a race. Feels like one if you let it, if you lose sight of why you started in the first place, so don’t get too caught up. 

28 What has been your biggest challenge as a writer? As a writer, all of my challenges have been part of the ride...part of what’s made me better. To mark my progress as a list of challenges doesn’t feel right. Though, as a human—as a woman—as an emotional being, existing in a community full of writers has been my greatest challenge. I wasn’t born with the propensity not to compare. 

29 What has been your greatest success as a writer? Not quitting. 💪🏽

30 Where can you find me other than IG? I’ve got a website and a blog!


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