About Angela Stevens

Angela Stevens is an Amazon International Best Selling Author. Her steamy romance novel, Nolan’s Resolution, from the highly popular multi-author series, After Hurricane Nina, hit #1 New Release on Amazon in America, Canada and the UK. Her 5 book debut series, Hockey Punk, is a sports romance series set around her adopted town near DC and revolves around her favorite sport of ice hockey. Writing in both contemporary romance and contemporary fantasy genres, Angela portrays gritty characters with emotionally charged plots and is not afraid to tackle difficult social issues in her fiction. If you pick up one of her romances, you may have to order an extra supply of tissues, but Angela Stevens will always deliver you a HEA and some smoldering hot scenes to get you there.

Fear of Cockroaches by @AngelaStevens13

I have a pathological fear of cockroaches. The sight of one turns me into a gibbering wreck. My heart rate goes a million miles an hour, and I forget how to breathe. A fear of cockroaches is all consuming; when catching sight of their long, streamlined bodies tiptoeing across the wall, ceiling, couch… YIKES! …my reptilian brain takes over and the normal rational one shuts down. I make for higher ground and hyperventilate from the top of the kitchen table while my husband almost wets himself laughing.

But a fear of cockroaches is no laughing matter. For the entire time those mini-nightmares are on the loose, I’m paralyzed. All I can do is watch in horror as their scurrying, disgusting bodies run.

The running terrifies me the most. They are fast; faster than anything should be. And they don’t just run.

Brace yourself… they fly, too.

Fear of Coackroaches

Why, oh, why does the cockroach fly?

I mean, seriously, what was our maker thinking when he made them?  Hmm, let’s do armor, because the humans will have to whack ‘em multiple times before they squish ‘em. Oh, and feelers that wiggle, that’d be cool and disgusting. Let’s do an instantly recognizable silhouette that will look menacing blown up against a wall lit by a single lamp. They need to be super silent, like Ninjas—no, better than Ninjas… better than stealth bombers. They should have a built-in cloaking device they deploy until they are right in front of a human. Ohhh, think I’m gonna also make them immediately bolt when a human spots them. So yeah, I hereby bequeath thee, the land speed record and… hmm, what else would be terrifying…? Flight! Yup, flight it is

Did The Architect not understand the roll of a good supervillain? They need to have a flaw, damn-it!

Cockroaches have no flaw!

My fear of cockroaches has led me to study them. It’s Catch 22, the more I do, the more petrified of them I become. But in my extensive research, the only thing I have found that they are supposed to be terrified of is…

–DRUM ROLL PLEASE–

… citrus.

Citrus Fruit
Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, are a cockroach’s kryptonite, but does it makes them turn into quivering wrecks and runaway? Or, do they instantly combust when they come into contact with a bit of orange peel? Nope, they just don’t like the smell, and they walk around it. Seriously, that is not a flaw OR a weakness. That is a cop out!

Especially when roaches have ALL of these strengths:

  • They leave tracks of bacteria
  • can live a week WITHOUT a head
  • are nocturnal and run away from light
  • can live 3 months with no food and a month with no water
  • leave chemical trails in their feces that other cockroaches follow so they can find each other and create a swarm
  • There are 5,000 species
  • like to feed on human and pet food
  • play dead. Seriously. For up to forty minutes, they hold their breath and play dead, then flip off their backs and scurry away when the coast is clear.
  • can withstand radiation and could survive humans in a nuclear blast!
  • can survive underwater. THEY DON’T DROWN, PEOPLE!
  • Female American roaches live up to 700 days and every time they lay an egg case, they have 14-36 eggs in them, and on average they lay 18 egg cases in their life time.

So, where the hell is the cockroach’s weakness or flaw?  There should be one. Superman has his Kryptonite, Achilles his heel. God, you made your villain too powerful, this is not how it was meant to be. Jeepers, is it any wonder why I am scared out of my wits by these abhorrent creatures? I’m British I have a stiff upper lip—except where cockroaches are concerned.

I’m not easily scared

I don’t make a habit of having irrational fears. I can deal with spiders. It doesn’t matter how big they are, I’m able to stay in the same room as them and am even happy to watch them stroll across the ceiling or capture them in a glass and release them outside. Other stuff, too. For instance, snakes. Zero problem. I have three cats that think it’s fun to bring me a snake every few days and leave it to slither across the living room. No problem, I can quickly catch them and set them free.

Most critters in fact: lizards, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, birds. The cats have tested me out numerous times, bringing me live ones as presents, and each time I have no issues putting them back outside. But cockroaches… Ugh! Even as I type the word, my palms are growing sweaty, and I feel physically sick. This is a bit of problem when writing a blog that requires me to mention the damn word as often as possible in order to satisfy the SEO.

So, why am I confessing my Achilles heel? Because I am on the edge of a mental breakdown. This week, I have had three of these beasties turn up in my house, and I am going batsh*t crazy. I just can’t even fathom why this is happening. Firstly, my home is spotless. I am over-the-top tidy, and I clean as a hobby. Secondly, I am meticulous about putting foods in sealed containers and you can use my cooktop as a mirror. Thirdly, the trash is emptied daily, and I don’t have any clutter. Fourthly, I’m a minimalist, and everything has its place.  So why in heaven’s name have they chosen to move in!!!

Fear of Cockroaches
Actual footage of me from yesterday after I spotted no. 3.

For all the years that I have lived in America, I think I only saw a cockroach once—that was up until two years ago. But when I moved to North Carolina, I have seen seven. SEVEN IN TWO YEARS! In MY HOUSE! And three, of those seven, sightings have happened this week.

Katsaridaphobia is real, people!

My hubby thinks I am losing my mind. He might be right. I know it is irrational but I can’t control the fear, and I am literally one scurrying mahogany body away from moving out permanently. I may have to go and live in the Sahara, or the North Pole, or anywhere that can guarantee me no freaking cockroaches.

Tomorrow, the exterminators are coming, and I am praying they can seal up my house because I really need a good night’s sleep, and so long as there is a chance that there may be even one roach somewhere in my home, I am not going to get any sleep.

So, if any of you have any words of wisdom, or tried and tested ways of preventing these terrifying monsters entering your home, please, please, please pass them on, because my Katsaridaphobia is holding me hostage.

If you guys would like something to take your mind off my article, I have over thirty cockroach-free books to choose from, including some excellent author’s billboard box sets at just 99c. You can find them by clicking here.

Personal Development by @AngelaStevens13

Lately, I have been focusing on personal development in my art work, expanding my skills, and really trying to extend myself. I invested heavily in some amazing tutorials and the payoff has been phenomenal. I am now exploring much more complicated scenes and am finally coming to grips with digital painting and overpainting, which I have been wanting to learn for years. Here is my first ‘painted from scratch’ effort.

Ladybug Angela Stevens
It’s no Rembrandt, but I’m loving it! And the added bonus is that my personal development quest is keeping me sane during a major writing slump. 

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

The lack of motivation and inspiration for my writing started as a niggle, manifesting as fewer words per day, then missed writing days, which turned into missed writing weeks, and now sadly, missed writing months! I no longer wake up, grab my laptop, and start writing before I have had my first cup of tea. It’s frustrating and I’m not sure how to make it come back. I started to beat myself up over it, and even made myself sit at the computer and stare at the screen for hours on end. ‘I don’t believe in writer’s block; this is a discipline thing,’ I said to my apathetic self, but shaming didn’t help either. 

So, I tried distraction in the form of digital art tutorials. If I couldn’t be creative in one way, then perhaps I could in another. What do they say, every cloud has a silver lining? Or was it more about, making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Either way, I shifted my mindset. ‘I can’t write’ became ‘I am taking a break to work on personal development.’ 

It still sucked that I was not putting pen to paper, but I was being kinder to myself, and it convinced my internal demons that I wasn’t wasting time.

Just When I Wasn’t Looking

A few weeks ago, I was looking at the book covers on a fantasy series of mine that has been out a while. It is under my Sadie Collins pen name, and book 1, The Wolf You Feed, was the second book I ever wrote. I have always wanted to have more illustrative covers for this series, so as part of my writing procrastination personal development, I decided to finally tackle this and create new art work for the books. The plan was to let my imagination run wild and create a scene out of each book.

Here is the one I created for the first book. It depicts Tore, the central character, meeting with his father, the old school, austere, Lycan clan leader.

Personal Development Angela Stevens
Boy did I have fun! I spent way too much time on these, but in my defense, there are 6 books in total in the series, and then two boxed sets, so almost two weeks building each of the core scenes wasn’t so bad. They look so pretty, and I’ve finally uploaded them to Amazon! 

Vargr Clan Series

A Glimmer of Hope

While creating these scenes, I remembered that a couple of years ago, I’d started a seventh book for the series. Deadlines for other books, and a heavier emphasis on my romance stories, meant the book was pushed aside and forgotten. Curiosity got the better of me and I dug it out of my files. Maybe there was enough there for a short story that I could put on my website.

I was surprised to find that I had 50 thousand words. Hmm, not a short story then. Honestly, I was astounded that I had put the thing away with so much of it written. Before I knew it, the day had passed and I’d read through the whole lot. Then something happened… I began typing. A couple of days later, I had written a new chapter. It was like pulling teeth, slow and painful, and I really didn’t want to do it, but it was a chapter. A few days after that there were several more chapters. 

I’m proud to say, I finished the story… all 82 thousand words of it.

It was not plain sailing; in fact, it was quite the struggle. I really had to push myself to get there, and I can’t say I enjoyed the process. There was a lot of deleting, a fair bit of soul searching, and more than once, I stared at the blank page for hours on end before giving up for the day. But I did finish, and I am now knee-deep in the editing process. 

My writing slump isn’t over yet, far from it. I still can’t get myself to start something new, but I have finished drafting this book, and I have set myself a deadline to get it published. The pre-order goes live Sept 1st, so I have to get all the editing done. It is a glimmer of hope, and I am calling that a win–albeit a tiny one.
  

Blood Ties Angela Stevens

Learned A New Skill

This last book is called Blood Ties, and the opening scene involves my skinwalker warriors hunting an escaped mishipeshu, a mythical creature that is part panther with dragon scales on its back. It has a serpent-like tail and a mane of black feathers, oh… and horns. A kind of Heinz 57 type creature. Needless to say, Deposit Photos was decidedly lacking in photographs of such animals. Okay, no problem.  I could create my own fantastical creature. I am tickled pink how well it turned out. Below is the mishipeshu that appears on book 7’s cover.

Mishipeshu Angela Stevens

So the moral of the story? Personal development is not writing procrastination; it is exercising my creativity, and it’s well worth the investment. It might not have rid me of my writer’s block, but I am one step closer to finding my way back. I’m just hoping the second step comes soon.

How I Accidentally Became A Book Cover Designer by @AngelaStevens13

An accidental book cover designer? Why, yes. Some would say I have a track record of accidentally doing things. I accidentally became an author because I was confined to barracks during a huge house renovation. Then, I accidentally became a props and costume designer – amazing what you can do when you need 40 costumes for a school play. I am also an accidental cat lady, baker, and accidental installer of vinyl planking–but none of those earn me money. So, when I accidentally became a book cover designer, it was on-brand.

Actually, way back when I was heading off to college, I would have loved to go into this career, the trouble is, it hadn’t been invented yet–least not in the format in which I now do it. I also wasn’t very artistic, or creative, and book covers generally weren’t something I even noticed had been designed.

When I started writing, I had no idea about the author industry, nor the skills I’d needed to get my books on a shelf for people to read. If I had, I probably would have quit before I started. Bizarrely, my first hurdle was not writing the book, it was how to make a pretty cover. Even back then, when I was just writing for Wattpad, cover design was pretty essential.

Because I had no idea where to get one, I made one…in Power Point.

Oh No She Didn't

It was truly awful. Beyond awful. So awful, I cannot possibly show it to you. My second attempt was a billion times better, but just a stock image with a title thrown on top. In my head, I had good ideas, but sadly no skills to execute them. The cover for my Vargr Clan fantasy series had me stumped so I called in reinforcements. My daughter put it together (She’s the one with the Art degree). It turned out great, and realizing her mistake, she decided to teach me a few Photoshop skills to avoid having to make more covers for me.

Photoshop was a challenge. I took two steps forward, and five back. A graphic designer would have turned in their grave at my work arounds, but despite the crazy way I butchered the craft, the end results weren’t too horrendous.

The Accidental Book Cover Designer

As writing production stepped up, so did my need for covers. I trolled the markets, studying the trends in my genre to get ideas and accidentally, stumbled into one pretty important aspect cover designing; genres had expectations, color schemes, and typesetting conventions. Then, I became obsessed with fonts, and developed an unhealthily large collection of them. Apparently, that is a prerequisite, too.

Book Cover Designer

Somehow, my covers ended up pretty decent, and a couple of author friends who started out at the same time as me, asked if I could make them covers, too. We swapped skills, they beta read for me, or taught me how to set up a website–things like that, and in exchange I made them a cover.

Then one day, I accidentally became a cover designer when someone I didn’t know, asked how much I charged to make covers.

ME: What? People will pay me for this?

ME: “Huh, does $20 sound ok?”

What to Charge?

Of course, I had no idea what to charge, but I had fun doing the cover and they were very happy. After that, I had a brilliant idea. If I could sell a handful of covers a year, for say, $50 each, it would offset my editing costs!

So, I did. The accidental cover designer was born! And I finally learned how to price my covers properly.

After I discovered an awesome FB group where you could sell covers, I decided to get serious. I invest in some Photoshop courses. I was particularly jealous of designers in there who did amazing fantasy covers. They created magic, and worlds, and glorious painted hair. So, for the last year and a half, I’ve been doing a whole bunch of courses, and cried a whole bunch of frustrated tears.

I’m no longer an accidental cover designer. The business is now fully fledged. I even have a website! Last year, I made almost as much from designing than from selling my books–despite having the best book selling year I ever had!

Cover design may not have been what I went to school for, and it certainly wasn’t part of my teaching career. Maybe it was a midlife crisis, or latent superpower, but either way, I now call myself an author and cover designer.

Steam Punk

I made this piece of artwork this week. I even learned how to make a time-lapse of the layers just so I could show the process to you. This piece won’t become a cover, it is part of my personal art, focusing on building worlds from scratch.

 

You can find examples and premade cover designs by me at Catspyjamasdesign.com

You can check out my books at https://www.amazon.com/Angela-Stevens/e/B00KHTERZI

Time Is Relative by @AngelaStevens13

Time is relative, so they say, and I’m beginning to think that may be the case. In the 13 or 14 months since COVID hit, time has both run alarmingly fast and incredibly slow. 

Fat Cat

Time is relative, and the irony is, there is either too much of it or not enough.

Even before COVID, it seems that time has been erratic.

In a blink of an eye my kids grew up. Adults now, holding down adult jobs, dealing with adult problems. Yet a few days ago when my son, far away in Virginia, was moving house time flew by for him as he dealt with so many problems around his move, but stood still for me while I stayed awake half the night, worrying that he was worrying, stressing that he was stressed.

The more time I use up, the more I’d like to turn the clocks back. Collect up the seconds I wasted. I wish I paid more attention to my kids when they were little, I wish I’d put down the hours of endless planning I did as a teacher and hadn’t let work be the priority over fun, kid rearing, and… well, everything.

When I first moved to America, I lost 5 – or was it 8 years? I gave up work because I wanted to spend more time with the kids, to take time to settle into America, to explore my new life. For the first time in my life, I had time and then I found I didn’t know what to do with it… and then it was gone.

Half a decade or more passed. I was no longer ‘just 40’, but heading to 50 and I had no achievements, reached nor planned any goals, ticked off no bucket list items. All I had were more wrinkles. One day I started to write. It was the first time I had written anything more than a shopping list, and the writing turned into a one hundred-forty-thousand-word story. By the time I finished it, I’d discovered I liked writing; so, a week later, I started another story, and that has been my routine ever since 2014. I had the time, and I now knew how to fill it.

Time Is RelativeTime Is Relative

Time is relative. Now it is my 50’s running away from me. I cross a divide this year, 56, now 60 is looming. Not that I feel like I’m 56. If it wasn’t for the aches and pains, the menopausal weight gain, and the rather shocking image in the mirror, I’d feel like I was starting my forties. When I was younger, people in their fifties seemed old, and I don’t feel old. 

Today, I finished the edits on my next book, and I realized, Flynn and Juliet’s story is about lost time and regret. It’s also an enemies to lovers story, and even though they chose to keep their distance, when fate brought them back together, I think both of them wish they could turn the clocks back.  Enemies to Lovers, Forgiving Flynn: Hot Hunks Steamy Romance Collection Book 4 is now available for pre order  mybook.to/ForgivingFlynn  

Forgiving Flynn

The COVID year, has gone both fast and slow. I feel I’ve squandered much of it, yet I’ve also squeezed much into it. Even though I haven’t done as much as I wanted; I haven’t traveled to the places I planned, read the books on my kindle, or written the number of manuscripts I intended, this last year has brought family closer to me. I have learned new skills–photoshop, baking, DIY. I’ve sold a house, fixed up my new one. And I have spent time with my grandkids, while others have missed them. Yet, I’m still alternately wasting time, and not having enough. All too often I am wishing it away or wanting it back. But despite the regularity of the units we measure time in, it ticks by at different rates for all of us. Yet still there is one thing I know. We can’t control time. And we can’t resist it, either. We can’t fast forward, rewind, or bank it. But we can enjoy it, and we can enjoy it more if we don’t feel we have to justify it.