That Fall…

It’s amazing how many ways you can fall in love with a person.

Granted, there are seasons in life when you have to look a little harder than others.

And then there are the times it’s as simple as the way he lights a fire in your honor and makes it dance.

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Short and Sweet.

“The things you own end up owning you.” — Tyler Durden, Fight Club

I’m going to keep this short and sweet as I’m on deadline and honestly I’m mostly only writing over here today so as to give in to the resistance (it’s so strong, you guys) and “cheat” on my daily word count goal. :) Also, it’s been a few weeks…

I’m not quite sure but it’s possible that I’m losing my mind. Obviously, I realize that I should probably watch what I say here, as one never knows what will be taken out of context. I’m not literally going crazy, just making a few necessary tweaks to my life. Crazy is subjective anyhow. And really, it’s all just semantics.

In my case, I blame this temporary insanity on the character I’m writing. Sometimes the lines do blur a little and I’m not certain my brain realizes when I’m on (working) or off. The full moon and mercury retrograde also provide relevant possibilities. Nonetheless, yesterday I found myself sitting across from my husband at brunch naming off all of the ideas I have for the future and a list of the things we need to get rid of, or cut out of our lives so we have less tying us down. Many, if not most of them, being not entirely rational choices. This obviously appears a little clearer this morning. ;)  But, you know what the amazing thing was… he not only listened intently (and I mean without batting a eye) but he told me he was completely on board.

God bless that man. :)

I think everyone deserves someone to embrace his or her level of crazy. I know this because I mentioned these same ideas to two of my best friends and they both told me I was indeed nuts. And, this my friends, is why I’m not married to them. ;)

That said, I actually have cut quite a few things, commitments etc. out of my life over the past few months (I feel like I write about this a lot here) and while I won’t bore you with the details I will say it has been incredibly freeing. And just when I didn’t think there was anything else left to cut….I cut a little more. There are two really great ways to know where cutting can occur and those are: take inventory of what’s on your calendar and watch where your money goes. It’s pretty simple from there.

Anyway, I’d better get back to the novel, which is tentatively scheduled for release on 12/2/14.

P.S. Love, love, love this episode of Shots of Awe. It totally explains my life. ;)

As for what I’m writing to these days… it’s mostly all about Paolo Nutini:

The acoustic versions are typically my favorites…

Signs, Signs,…Everywhere A Sign.

“Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.” ― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

I’ve always struggled a bit with how much to share and how much to keep private. When I originally decided to publish a novel I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to publish under a pen name but ultimately decided against it. Sometimes, I do admittedly regret that. Kids talk, teachers talk. People talk. But I still haven’t really found it to be a bad thing. I always figured that I am who I am. Also, I used to “mommy blog” anonymously and found it difficult in many ways when people knew your blog but not the person behind it.

I do however occasionally wonder whether I’m doing the right thing by putting myself and my work out into the world, in a way that at times can feel very personal. There are a lot things that happen which one doesn’t foresee coming the bigger their platform grows. It’s difficult to explain and I don’t want to seem ungracious or whiny– because I’m not. Recently though I decided to take a step back after I was sued. I’m not going to say a lot about the logistics because, well, it’s just not a good idea and it’s not my style. I will say that the lawsuit had to do with the business side of publishing and not what my books contain or what anyone else’s books contain.

They say that being sued is one of the most stressful situations a person can face other than losing a loved one. And I will say that I found it very similar– in terms of the emotions you feel during the process. Having a police officer unexpectedly show up at your doorstep and having someone you do not know “demand” a five plus figure sum from you is…well, not fun. And the process and expense (energy, time, and money) of defending yourself against all of the aforementioned not fun made me really, really question whether or not I wanted to continue putting myself “out there.” Because, the truth is, there are much easier ways to earn a living.

Anyway, the lawsuit was officially dropped this week and I don’t want to say anything else about it other than I learned a lot about the litigation process and about protecting myself going forward. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t still feel hesitant about it all…about putting myself and my work out there and everything that comes with that. At the same time, I refuse to view the world as a place where one has to play it small in order to avoid threatening and not fun situations.

And then, of course, there are the signs…

On one particularly rough day I opened my nine year olds school folder and discovered this.

I saw it as a sign.

It reminded me that… I may write for myself, but I publish, and I keep going for them.

P.S. This is what I’ve been writing to. Hoizer…I’m in love and I just can’t enough.

And this:

Time Out + Free Therapy

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.  And rarely do people do things because of you anyway.  They do things because of them.  So even when it seems personal, it probably isn’t.  Remember this.  And when you find yourself feeling angry, heartbroken, or victimized by the actions of another, see if you can you find within you any seed of softness, some place deep within that understands how much pain that person must be in, how burdened their soul must be, how devastatingly hardened they must be in their heart in order to behave in a way that is surely out of alignment with their own integrity.” – Marc and Angel, Hack Life 

First off, I want to let you all know that Around The Bend will not be published on 10/14/14 as was planned, due to a culmination of unforeseen circumstances.

Right now, I don’t have a pub date in mind because I’ve decided to take a mini-sabbatical from the business side of things. To regroup. To figure out my next move.

Mostly, I’m taking some time off to fall apart a little and to put myself back together. Lots of what is happening personally, I can’t share here, but as for what I can, I will.

I’m still working on the book, still writing–just on a timeline that makes more sense for me right now.

As for what I can share: Lately, I’m just missing several people in my life. From my oldest who left for college to family that I spent the last decade (and then some) caring for, who are no longer around, well…lets just say I’ve found that it has left a bigger void than I might’ve thought and I’m feeling their absence more so than usual these days.

I guess, when you care for someone who is ill and/or who needs you…that becomes a part of your identity. It becomes who you are and then when those people move on–whether it’s ultimately because of a good thing, like college for example, or not so good, like death–it leaves a bit of a hole and thus perhaps requires a little finagling to figure out where you belong in the world.

This in and of itself would be easier to take if it weren’t combined with other not so good things occurring and a whole lot of pressure, some of it admittedly self imposed.

Which is why I feel it’s important to call a time out. And in this time out I have a few things planned to get me reacquainted with the girl I used to know– the one who was pretty sure of herself, and where she was going.

My grandmother spent a lot of time in and out of rehab hospitals in the final five years of her life and my grandfather spent lots of time hooked up to a dialysis machine. One of the things I noticed during this time and found myself unsatisfied with was how we treat the elderly in this country. I would often meet people who had no one, no visitors, no advocates, no one making sure that they were receiving adequate care. I’m not judging here because I will be the first to say that it  is very very hard to watch someone you love wither away and eventually lose the battle. It’s a constant reminder of what is important and what is less so. It’s a tug of war with being the person you want to be (free) and the one you need to be–and sticking to the job at hand. Hard is definitely not a good enough adjective to do it justice.

That said, I made a lot of older and wiser friends over the years. People who were just happy to have someone sit with them for a bit and care about their lives, where they’d come from, and where they’d been. Because there wasn’t much denying where they were going. We all got that.

I learned a lot during that time about life and love and…people.

These days, I feel like maybe it’s time for a refresher and spending some time at the rehab hospital where my grandma spent so much of her final years is on the agenda.

But I’d be lying if I said that my volunteering to sit with the elderly is completely unselfish.

Old people, like children, are so pure, so wise, and so loving. There’s no bullshit. There simply isn’t time for it.

Which, for me, means there’s a lot to be learned there.

It’s pretty much like free therapy. ;)

P.S. What I’m writing to this week:

Thanks Brandy, for sending this. Sometimes you introduce someone to something and they introduce you right back. <3

 

And an oldie but a goodie.

Please Don’t Answer. And Other Unexpected Surprises.

I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” ― Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner

This past weekend I celebrated my thirty-third birthday, which was filled with family, friends, flowers, and  lots of love. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever received so many flower deliveries in one day before– so much so that my husband mentioned he was having a hard time keeping up with my fans/friends. Anyway, they were all lovely surprises. But, I also received a surprise of a different kind, one that has undoubtedly rattled me…

The day before my birthday I heard my phone ring and when I picked it up I saw my father’s name pop up on caller ID. We hadn’t spoken, really, since my Grandmother died, a year and a half ago. I’ve written about our relationship, or lack thereof, here and here. 

It was so unexpected to see his name that I couldn’t bring myself to answer. What did he want? Was something wrong? Not now, I pleaded to no one in particular. Not now. My life is sooo good. I worked hard to get to this place…

He didn’t leave a message and I didn’t really think much about it until the following day (my birthday) when my phone rang again. This time I answered.

“Happy birthday,” he said.

“Thank you,” I replied, honestly surprised he remembered.

“Are you at home now?”

“Um…Yeah…Why…”

“Well, I rang your doorbell a little bit ago and no one answered.”

“My doorbell?”

I had no idea he knew where I lived.

He proceeded to describe the house and vehicles out front while I remained mostly speechless. I explained that I was home but that we were about to go to lunch and he asked where at. I told him and he said that he’d meet me there because he had a birthday card he wanted to give me.

In 33 years, this is probably the second time, third at max, that I can recall my father giving me anything for my birthday, including a phone call.

At lunch, I sat there halfway paying attention what my husband was saying, anxious about how awkward things were about to get. And I’m not one who routinely gets anxious over much.

Part way through lunch I turned to see my father walk in. He looks good, I think. Like he’s taking care of himself, like maybe, he sort of dressed up for the occasion. I watch him walk past a girl in a booth, turn, and really focus in on her, before finally realizing it wasn’t me. How sad I thought, not to be able to recognize your own daughter. In fairness, she did at least look a little like me. I turned to my sixteen year old and felt crushed when I saw that he’d noticed too. How lucky my kids are not to know what that’s like, I think in that moment. 

Long story short, he came over to the table, handed me the card, said me he’d at least wanted to get me that, told me happy birthday, asked if I was 33, made some small talk, then told me he loved me, and walked away.

I sat there stunned– thinking about the card and wondering how one goes about picking something out for this kind of occasion. I wondered what it might be like standing in the greeting card aisle choosing a card for a daughter you don’t know. Then, despite the fact that I’d planned to wait until I was at home, in the solitude of my bedroom, alone (by this time the kids were arguing over anything and everything) to open the card I didn’t make it through lunch without my curiosity getting the best of me. As I opened it, the first place my eye was drawn to was the signature.

He had signed his name, my brother’s name, and my Grandmother’s. I realized that must be painful for him, too. And boom just like that I was crying in the middle of a Mexican restaurant. The three Benjamin’s tucked inside didn’t help matters much.

I smiled a little through the tears. As if, a few Benjamin’s could solve it all…

I put off calling to thank him for as long as I could, ultimately, though, knowing it was inevitable.

Today, I dialed his number and said a silent prayer I’d get the machine. Please don’t answer. Please, please, please don’t answer, I pleaded to no one and everyone.

I had no idea what I would say when and if he answered. Thank you, ok, bye–was kind of the plan. 

Instead, I found myself inviting him to lunch once I return from taking my oldest to college.

He accepted and made me promise to call.

I hung up and sighed, knowing there are at least a few people out there somewhere who would probably be proud.

I’m not there yet.

But maybe…

My Grandma just might get one of her last wishes after all.

On Loyalty…

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Loyalty is a big theme in the novel I’m working on and so I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately…

Recently, I asked my son to take my car in for an oil change when he informed me that he was going to take it to a new place he’d found because he had seen a good deal on Groupon which led to a huge discussion (disagreement) on why in the world I would care to save ten bucks over taking my car to the same place I always go. A place where they know me, they know my car, and where they leave little smiley faces on my windshield. They’re friendly and efficient and they treat me well and … thus I’m a loyal customer. And ten bucks (or whatever) ain’t got nothin’ on that. ;)

Needless to say, I’m not sure he got it, and this situation as well as feedback from my beta readers (on character content) has certainly made me question whether or not loyalty is a real thing, or rather, whether I’m the crazy one. Which it seems is quite plausible. :)

P.S. Speaking of loyalty… this is what I’m writing to this week. Love. Love. Love it. Oh and please to those of you who are going to write me and tell me what you think about it (I know, I already know what you’re going to say) consider that it’s a metaphor. Or even better, please don’t listen. :)

A dose of truth.

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How do you do it? When do you sleep? These are the questions I get all the time when it comes to writing. And while I do answer them honestly, there are nights, like tonight, where the truth is a little more complex than: “I make the time.”

The truth is, it’s 9:45 PM and I am not at home with my family where I want to be. I am sitting in a coffee shop, watching the rain, writing to you, before calling it a day and heading home. My back is aching (there’s yoga tomorrow, I say,) my fingers are numb, and I’m a bit over-caffinated. The truth is, I panicked earlier, as I often do this close to deadline and I told my husband I couldn’t do it.

“I’m not going to make it,” I cried.

“You will.” He said. “You always do.”

“I’ll just shift the pub date. I’ll change it, and everything EVERYTHING will be right in my world again,” I exclaimed, suddenly proud to have all the answers. :)

Then… I watched as he packed my laptop and shooed me out of the house. “Go,” he said.

And so I did.

Now… here I sit, with an aching back, sure, but also the sweet sense of victory: A word count met. Well, exceeded, actually.

Until, tomorrow that is. When that big fat zero will stare me in the face once again and I’ll be forced lucky enough to do it all again.

So, there you have it.

If you’re ever wondering how a novel gets written…  the answer is…It’s often hours away from those I love, one panic attack, and one word, at a time.  ;)

P.S. This is what I wrote to today if you’re interested:

Around The Bend. An Introduction.

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I’m so excited to share my newest baby novel, my 4th, with you all.

Titled, Around The Bend, it’s tentatively slated for release on 10/14/14. You guys get the first look here.

This is Jess’s story, character from The Bedrock Series, but will be read as a standalone, so you will not need to have read Bedrock/Breaking Bedrock. In other words no worries if you haven’t, it will just be an added bonus if you have, as you never know which characters might have a surprise cameo. That said, I can’t reiterate enough that Around The Bend is a standalone novel.

And now for the cover. A special thanks to Mandy at  MHPhotograpy and Lisa of Design By Blink for their outstanding work. Lisa, I thank you, once again, for not killing me during the process. You are the bestest. :)

 

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The synopsis:

If you were to pass me on the street, you probably wouldn’t even look twice. I’m that normal. I’m just like you, only wealthier. I have it all. The kids, the family, the dog, a house on the hill. Hell—I’m so cliché, I even have a white picket fence. I guess you could say that I’ve dotted my I’s and crossed my T’s. But what I also have—what no one sees in yoga, or at Nieman Marcus, or during the dreadful Ladies Who Lunch charity events I attend (because only God knows why), and perhaps most importantly, in the school pick up line—are secrets.

Deep, dark, deadly secrets.

We all keep secrets, don’t we? We all have thoughts in our heads, things we do, things about us that if people knew, they’d be shocked…right? Well, what if one day we just decided to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

What if we decided to let the whole world in on our dirty little secrets? And what if along the way, as we were spilling those secrets, we realized that things aren’t always what they seem and with that knowledge, it changed the whole story? 

In this book, I’m laying it all out there. The unraveling of my life. My coming undone. What one might’ve seen had they been paying attention.

What I’ve found in life is people often believe lies before they’ll believe the truth. Well, here it is, in a nutshell. I’ll let you decide which is which.

Please consider adding it to your Goodreads TBR here. It truly means a lot to us authors when you do.

What doesn’t kill you…

 

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You know that feeling during a workout where you start staring at the clock, you can feel your focus starting to fade, and you’re looking for a way out . Any way out. I’m not certain but I think it’s called reaching your anaerobic threshold. And I know it well.

Right now, that is the exact same way I feel about writing my fourth book. It’s a scary place to be because you’re questioning your ability and you’re wondering whether or not you really have it in you. And most importantly, you just want out. It’s more than fear, it’s fear + a looming sense of defeat.

The thing to remember, the thing I always hear the trainers in the gym say is “It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to make you stronger.”

And while I wholeheartedly agree, I can tell you that it’s not that simple showing up day in and day out, knowing you’re going to have to sit in your own shit uncomfortableness.

But it is what it is and somehow you do. I don’t know where you’re at, maybe it’s not struggling with writing—maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s a relationship, or parenting, or something much more significant than the things that trouble me these days.

Whatever it is, know that it is the uncomfortableness that will carry you through to the other side. Push yourself when you need to. You can take more than you think. And sit with it when you can’t. Give in to it if you must. But only long enough to get your second wind. Take a step back, a break, but know that’s not the finish line.

Last night, I had a dream about my character. In the dream she did something that I never saw coming. I woke, wrote it down, smiled, and considered it a token of thanks for all of the bullshit she’s putting me through in the daylight.

The same is true I find for other things in life. The answers will come. You just have to be brave enough to sit through the uncomfortable silence, the doubt, fear, and sometimes even the defeat, in order to hear them.

All I can think while typing this out is: “Now, why didn’t someone tell me that?” ;)

Oh, wait… :)

Why ya gotta be so rude?

Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.” ― Valery Satterwhite

The week before last I blogged about kindness in communication. Since that time I’ve seen several posts via social media and had a few interactions with my team where people were frustrated with others for not getting back with them. For not returning the call, the email, the text. The favor. The love.

So, I wanted to take a moment to address that and talk about my philosophy on the matter, for what it’s worth.

When someone doesn’t get back with me (reciprocate) I do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, yes, I have to try really damned hard, especially if I’m waiting on something I need in order to move forward.

But it helps to assume that it’s not intentional—that’s it’s not you—because it’s almost always about them. Don’t take it personally when people leave you hanging. In communication. In business. In life. In love. And here’s why: people will show you who they are, eventually. Usually, sooner rather that later. Your job is to evaluate whether or not you really want to be associated with what they show you. People who are habitually unresponsive (uninterested/rude/call it what you want) will always be that way. From the first date, right on down the aisle. From the first phone call ’til after the contract is signed.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to be at their mercy. The beauty is that you get to choose. Call it off. Back out. Change your mind. Do what you need to do.

Use the energy you expend being annoyed/hurt/angry to find someone else— someone who is responsive and will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Give the other person the same attention they give you and then move on. While you’re busy doing that don’t forget that what you put out there comes back—heck, I think there’s even a law about it or something. ;)

Manage your expectations, sure. Give the benefit of the doubt. Once, twice, maybe, even three times. But after that it would be wise not to waste your time on someone who isn’t concerned about spending theirs on you. And I’m going to say this a again because it needs to be said: Don’t waste energy being bitter or angry about it either. Let it go, and find someone or something who deserves your time/business/love/attention.

A hard lesson to learn, sure, but oh so worth it. After all, we’re the sum of the people we spend our time with. It might be good to reevaluate whether this business/person/thing adds up. Have an air of expectancy (you’re teaching people how to treat you after all) and then let them SHOW you whether or not they meet those expectations. When they do…believe them. You’ll be a whole lot happier this way, I promise. Life’s too short to worry about unanswered texts, emails, or phone calls.

Speaking from experience, the only people I’m truly concerned about NOT hearing from these days, it’s because, well, they’re dead. Honestly. The people that remain in my life are there because they deserve to be there. Because (god, I’m lucky) they want to be. I have no intention of wasting time and energy on those that don’t. I’m too busy loving the ones who show up and vice versa. And they deserve the very best of me—which can’t exactly happen if my concerns are elsewhere.

That’s all. ;)