Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Healing and Growth are a Choice

I follow some amazing people on social media. Some inspiring and note-worthy ones. Some who are just fabulous friends. Some who stay mostly quiet except to show support for those they care about when it's needed.

The other day I came across this, and it really spoke to me.

It reminded me of our recent moves, which will total four in 29 months by the time we move for the last time in April. None of those moves has been easy on any of our family members. But every one of them has been worth it for a whole slew of reasons.

My husband changed jobs, and there was a while in the beginning when we wondered if we had done the right thing, because we have truly tried hard to follow our instincts in all areas of decision making for our family.

In the end though, it was the right thing. We came to love and appreciate each stage of our growing process, and by the time we got through them, we had been drastically changed as human beings. Indeed, my children, my husband, and I have all learned to view people through a different lens.

Ever since, I've been thinking about how this can apply to other parts of life. As a writer, I do better, write stuff that is more raw and real when I shake things up. As a mother, wife, and woman, I am always better when I break out of the grind of daily routine and do something different.

The next day, another friend posted this, and it just happened to fall in line with the very thoughts that had been on my mind since the first post.

Once again, it spoke to me. Whenever I have been unhappy with my own circumstances, I have worked hard to do whatever I can to change them. When my family has been unhappy, we have worked together, as a family, to change things--including ourselves. It's never easy, but every change we have made has made us infinitely better as people.

As human beings, we all have choices. And we can choose to change and grow. Or not.

What about you? What are you doing to grow lately?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Leaps of Faith and World Domination

I don't know about the rest of you, but lately I feel like every part of my life has become a giant leap of faith.

And by that I mean jumping off a cliff with no idea what I'm doing, but screaming, "Oh hey, I think this looks fun, let's try it and I hope I don't die!"

We bought a house today. A nice house that I love. And I am very excited and nervous and worried and anxious and ... I've owned houses before. I've been in debt for like, EVER. Like the majority of people in the world. This is not a new thing for me. But after moving back to Utah from Texas this last summer, I feel like every thing we do, every choice we make (as a family) is an enormous undertaking. And that's not wrong.

Every day that passes is a day that we will never get back. And every choice is one less that we get to make tomorrow. Sometimes those choices are made using a great deal of thought and calculation. And other times it's a total guessing game. Those are the times when I try to go with my gut, and my heart. Because those two--when they're on speaking terms--tend to know what they're doing.

I try to apply this to my writing too. I suck at outlining, and to be honest, I rarely stick with them. Instead, I get to know my characters and let them take me on the journey that belongs to them. Because isn't that what we do in reality anyway?

My point is that it's okay that we can't see the future. If we could, life wouldn't be nearly as interesting. And neither would the stories we are here to tell.
Every minute and every story is just one more little leap of faith. Today I jumped back into home-ownership. Tomorrow maybe I'll finish another book. The next day ... well. World domination is always an option.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Taking Time To Get The Story Right (Some thoughts about book 3)

Last week I went to a movie--something which doesn't happen much at all lately. It was the third in a series, (not created from a book, FTR) and I settled in with a bag of popcorn and a large drink prepared to spend the next two hours on the edge of my seat. Because that's what happened with the first two.

The thing with series of any kind is that the first book or movie sets up an expectation that the writer/cinematographer/filmmaker must not only fulfill in the next installment, but also exceed in every way possible.

Unfortunately, this was one of those films that only detracted from the original story line. In fact, it was a complete departure. That would be fine if it had been thought through and fleshed out, but to be honest, there were so many parts that felt forced or rushed or just sloppy, and it made me so sad. There was no suspension of disbelief for me, because plot holes stole the logic, and some merely almost-there filming issues left a whole lot of cars on a freeway with no passengers inside them. (Nope. No dummies.)

I left the theater wishing, not that I hadn't chosen to see the movie, but that more time and effort had been dedicated to bringing it up to par with the first two.

The experience has left me thinking about my own attempt to end the DESCENDANT series, and the third book I have been struggling with for so many months. I don't want to make these same mistakes as the makers of that movie. I don't want to write in plot holes, or leave threads untied, or forget important characters. I don't want to smash empty cars on the freeway, or kill off characters for shock value without advancing the plot. And so I am taking my time. Much more time than I ever planned or expected, and more writing than I've had to do since I first wrote Descendant (which went through about 30 drafts) in order to get it right.

Unfortunately, this means Legacy most likely won't be released in April, or even May. But it WILL be released, and as soon as I have a better idea of when, I promise I will shout it out to all of you.

I'm so sorry to keep you all waiting, but the truth is ending a series is HARD. This book is, to date, the hardest book I've ever written. And I want it to be awesome. I want it to be worth the wait. I want to do it right.

What about you? What things have you had to work hard to get right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

If You Love an Author

Look. I’m going to be really frank here, because I think we’ve been friends long enough that I can do that. And if we haven’t, I hope you’ll bear with me for a minute, because this is really important.

If there is an author in your life, and that person happens to be important to you on ANY level, but especially in a familial or close relationship, there are some things you should know.

I’ve avoided this subject for a while, for various reasons, one of them being an inherent belief that I have no business telling someone how to love anyone else. But in a recent moment of clarity, I realized that that is not what I’m about to do. What I’m telling you isn’t how you should love them, but rather, the most important way you ought to be showing that love. Because authors are emotional, sensitive people who pour those emotions and those sensitivities into our work for the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD to read.

What we write is so much more than just words on a page, or a screen, or in a book. These stories often come from the very depth of our souls, distributing pieces of ourselves to everyone who reads them. Luckily, for every slice of ourselves we give away, we grow new, grander ones to share.

Since we are writing to share our deepest, most intimate souls, the hope is we will be joined in this special place by our closest, most beloved people in the world. Our spouses. Our children. Our parents, siblings, extended families, and closest friends.  

Because our stories mean so very much to us, it’s difficult to understand why our loved ones wouldn’t be absolutely dying to read our newest (or oldest) work. But all too often, our loved ones aren’t even interested. And that lack of interest, of support—to us—translates to a lack of personal value.

If you love an author—for whatever reason and in whatever capacity—read their work. I don’t care if you buy it, tweet it, Facebook it, share it, talk about it, or even review it (all of which you should ALSO be doing, but that’s another blog). READ IT. Do not offer explanations or excuses about why you “can’t” or tell them you’ll get to it when you have more time (next year, perhaps?). You might as well be telling them you “can’t” find the time to love them. (And let’s not talk about how short life really is here.)

FACT: Time it takes the average author to write a book = 6 months to one YEAR  .
FACT: Time it takes the average reader to read that same book = 4-6 HOURS (7 if it’s long or you’re a slow reader).
FACT: The average American wastes approximately that much time every week (if not every day) watching TV and/or surfing the internet.

If you love an author, value the time they have spent dedicating themselves to their stories. Read his or her work. Do not make excuses. We are smart people. And you are missing out on the best parts of us.

And that, my dear friends, would be the saddest story of all. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Just Another Artist?

*** UPDATE the hardcover of Water So Deep is now available for purchase on Amazon!***

Last weekend, I went to a retreat with a few good friends. We spent our few days writing our tails off (I got 12,000 words done on Legacy, so YAY!) and also took a short break to detour to a nearby writing conference, where two of my friends were on panels.

We were literally there for a total of two hours, and then we left. In that two hours, I ran into quite a few people with whom I am friends or at least acquainted, and those were only a few of several hundred people who were in attendance at this conference.

One of the hazards of publishing these days is that there are so many authors writing so many books, that at some point or another, we all feel slightly lost in the sea of awesome.

My oldest son and I had a discussion this weekend in which he informed me that he’s not sure he wants to go into art as a career field, because it is just too hard to be anything more than “just another artist.” And it’s true. He is a phenomenal artist. He paints, and draws, and creates some amazing things. He has such talent. But unless he fully commits himself to rising above the crowd, that is all he will ever be.

There are those cases in which one special artist or author breaks through the bottle neck on the first try and succeeds in a way that most of us will only ever dream of, but even those people will at some point have to produce a spectacular product in order to keep their audience/fans happy, or they too will become lost in the sea.

But is that a reason to give up? To go a different direction? Maybe for some people. And that’s okay. But for others, it’s not. It’s really not. Because while all artists need to be paid, we are not ALL in it just for money (although, at some point, we have to at least break even with our time and investments*). Some of us are in it for the love of the thing. Or to change the way someone thinks, or heck, to just entertain someone. And that’s enough for those of us who are in it for the long haul.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that there is no such thing as being “just another author/artist.” Each one of us has something important and unique to share, as long as we dedicate ourselves to doing it.

Are you dedicated to something in life?

*To clarify, most authors/artists only make pennies per hour for the work they do. Love of art can only go so far when it comes to survival. Please remember that downloading pirated books/art greatly risks our ability to continue producing more books/art. Please consider our art at least as valuable as a cup of coffee or a soft drink and pay for it. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Romance and Love or Everything Else? What Are You Reading This Week?

Release week is over, and I was overwhelmed and so touched by the outpouring of love and support I received for Water So Deep. I cannot tell you all how much it means to me to have all of you jumping in to help raise my new baby book.

But now I feel like I've talked about it nonstop for months, and it's time to talk about something else. Like love and Valentine's Day.

I mean, let's face it. Valentine's Day has become a bit of a commercialized cliche, which is focused more on kids than on adults who are actually in love. I think in a lot of ways it's better this way because then all those people who are unattached can still enjoy the day, seeing little kids sharing their candy and cards. But that still doesn't take away the sting of feeling invisible or forgotten.

That's the beauty of reading, though, I think. I am such a sucker for a good old fashioned romance novel. And not the Nicholas Sparks kid of ending, either. Happy endings. Boy gets the girl or girl gets the boy, or whatever whatever, and the couple falls in love and overcomes all odds and obstacles because in the end they belong together. That is my favorite Valentine's Day reading go-to.

Because kissing. And love. And all things romantic.

(Side note: if you're reading Water So Deep right now, please don't hate me at the end! I promise book two will bring closure!)

This week, I'm reading Joyce DiPastena's The Lady and the Minstrel, Ally Condie's Atlantia, and This Shattered World by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I won't finish all three in a week, because I have a deadline of my own, but still. Those are on my nightstand right now.

What will you be reading this week? And is it romance and love or everything but that? I'm curious.

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's HERE!!!! WATER SO DEEP IS HERE!!! (And adding even more !!!!)

Guys, today's the day. Water So Deep is finally available for purchase!

Only the e-book version for now--there has been a very slight delay in the hard cover release, but I hope that will all be resolved this week, but all of you e-reader addicts, go! Buy! Enjoy! (And then hopefully review!)

I am not having an online launch party this time, but there is a blog tour happening starting Tuesday, February 3, and as soon as the hard cover issues are worked out, I will consider scheduling at least one signing.

In case you missed yesterday's teaser, here it is:

And one more, just because TODAY'S THE DAY!

Thanks for being patient with me and for supporting me as an author. I promise to start blogging about other things now. Thanks!