On Editing…books, but more importantly, life.

“Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not. ” ― C.G. Jung

This week I’m working on edits the editor sent back for Somewhere With You. There’s something both freeing and frightening about seeing your work all covered in red and the realization that on page 144 that you’re still making the same damned mistakes you made on page 14. And then on page 145 you SWEAR to yourself you’ll never make that mistake again, because damn it you’ve just spent two days (or two weeks, or two months) of your life rectifying something so ridiculous.

But here’s the thing, or the lesson for me anyway: we make mistakes and hopefully we learn from them– but that doesn’t mean they all of a sudden stop showing up. Oftentimes, they do so over and over, and for what?  Just to make sure we really got it, this time? :) Your guess is as good as mine. It’s a funny thing, life’s way of testing us.

And while this may sound negative, it’s really not. I figure, if we aren’t messing up, we aren’t trying anything new, and if we aren’t trying anything new, we aren’t learning, and if we aren’t learning…well, in my opinion, we aren’t really living.

Speaking of that, recently, I did a little “spring cleaning.” I wiped my calendar (mostly) clean, removed several things that no longer felt right, in order to make room for those that are a little less “certain.” One of these things happened to be joining an indoor soccer league– which as it turns out, is, um, no joke. The last time I played soccer was 20 years ago and I clearly remember leaving the team due to my inability to take organized sports seriously. It seems not a lot has changed. :) It also turns out there’s a difference between having a competitive nature and a serious one. For me, the two do not appear to be mutually exclusive, :) Always a fun lesson to learn, for sure. So yeah, fail forward, I say. It’s pretty fun, pretty freeing, and pretty fucking scary. But scary trumps boring any day of the week.

“In life, there are no mistakes, only lessons.” ― Vic Johnson

Seek and Ye Shall Find…

“It is my belief that love is mostly about showing up. It’s about showing up in the good times. And especially in the bad. It’s about being there, showing up, and continuing to show up. If you can do these things day in and day out, no matter what life brings you, you’ll find that love is there for the taking. In time you might come to find that while it’s not in the form you may have imagined—or necessarily the way that you thought it would be—it’s there nonetheless.”– Britney King, Breaking Bedrock 

First of all, I finding quoting myself quite odd, it’s the first time I’ve ever done it… and I’ll probably never do it again. :) Still, I couldn’t really think of a better quote for what I wanted to write about today. After my last post, having received so many thoughtful, kind responses I’ve struggled a little with the words; how to say that yes, loss sucks. And yes, there are sad days. But…at the same time there’s still so much joy. In fact, I’m not really sure if it’s possible to know such extreme joy and as much love– without having known loss.

Obviously, we all want to suffer as little as possible in this lifetime so I guess what I’m struggling with is how to say that there’s beauty, joy, and love even in the most devastating of times. That’s it’s not all black and white. And not only that, but the joy, and the love is magnified that much more when you’ve dabbled in the opposite.

Which is why I think it’s important to save up for those times when the pain outweighs the joy. It’s why I believe investing in people, places, hobbies…all the “things”, whatever and whomever bring you joy is so important. I think in our day-to-day lives it can become too easy to focus on “surviving”, on getting ahead, keeping our head above water, that we overlook the people and the “things” which bring us true happiness. We take these things for granted and we become pretty good at saying “someday.” Someday I’ll get to that. Someday, maybe tomorrow, I’ll make that call. Someday… I’ll get around to taking that art class or making that trip. The problem with this, I have found, is that someday, though hopefully not soon, you may need to spend that currency which you’ve put off saving up. It’s unfortunate, but I know a lot of people tend to think of currency solely in terms of money. I’d like to counterpoint that currency is a lot things: energy, love, joy… and not that I know personally;) but I’m guessing that all the money in the world will not buy you what it is you’ll need when you’re at your worst.

Anyway, with the holiday’s approaching, I really wanted to give thanks. I consider myself one of the luckiest girls in the world to be surrounded by so many wonderful people, doing that which brings me joy everyday. So…while, yes, this has been a difficult year in terms of grief, it’s also been one of the best years of my life. I’ve lost a lot. But I’ve gained a lot, too.

P.S. This short (15 minute) film perfectly encapsulates everything (and more) I’m trying to say here. Not only is it incredibly moving but it’s further proof, that if you just look hard enough, amidst the pain, the chaos, and the mess there is beauty. And so much love. You should watch it. Really, you should. Today…not someday. ;) xx

One Year Ago Today…

“Even on my heaviest days, when emotional, financial, or physical responsibilities feel too burdensome to bear, I find lightness in the act of picking up a pen to list the three moments that shined brightly on whatever dismay laid before me.” – Bex Boruki

One year ago today…I started keeping a daily gratitude journal. While I’ve always made practicing gratitude a habit, if I’m being honest I was never really completely consistent with it. Anyway, for some reason (I actually can’t remember what the exact reason was) on this day, exactly a year ago I made the decision to start a writing a DAILY list of three things that happened which I had been grateful for on that particular day. I should mention that this was just shy of two months after my brothers death and at a time when I’d made the decision to leave a job I (mostly) loved in order to pursue what it was I really wanted to do– grow my own business AND write the novel I’d been talking about writing for a very long time. So, to say that my life was in somewhat of a state of upheaval would be a vast understatement.

But I’m proud to say that I haven’t missed a day journaling since. Little did I know that this past year would actually get “worse” in the sense that I would lose my grandma too, another person who raised and meant the world to me, all in the span of just a few short months. But the beauty of having kept the journal is that I have a record of things that happened on any given day…things such as “I’m grateful that Nannie did such and such for/with the kids” and “I’m grateful for time spent with Nannie at her doctors appointment.” Now, these entries serve as reminders, providing permanent memories, which at the time may not have seemed like such a big deal. And I promise you…looking back, they weren’t. I remember at one of the doctor appointments her throwing a fit in the waiting room about how much time it was taking, and how terrible their scheduling was. I remember being mortified, even though I was thinking the same thing. Three hours in a waiting room, with someone on oxygen that’s quickly running out, in addition to kids across town that needed to be picked up from school, well, it wasn’t exactly the best of times. Looking back on it now though, I smile when I think of her tantrum, the beauty of being old and saying what’s on your mind, and the fact that at the end of the day, I was (and still am) grateful for that time. It’s a reminder that although sometimes things seem frustrating while you’re going through them they may actually turn out to be blessings in disguise. I swear I’d sit through a thousand more doctor appointments if it meant that I’d get to have one more conversation with her.

I had so many things I wanted to share in this post and post about this week, things like the creative process and how I’ve been struggling a little, experiencing fear (and lots of doubt) as I work on my second book. This time (it seems) the process hasn’t been as “easy.” For one, my characters haven’t been speaking to me in the way they used to. Also, I’ve been confused because Addison’s voice has changed ever so slightly, making it hard to recognize at times. And because what I’m hearing isn’t what I’ve expected I’ve doubted writing what comes to mind. Until yesterday, that is, when I had an “epiphany” of sorts. It dawned on me that maybe her voice has changed because of the experiences she’s faced. She’s not the same person she was last year, in the first book. And that perhaps it’s OK that she doesn’t sound exactly the same…because the story goes on and, well, shouldn’t growth be a part of that process.

Last night after thinking about this post and about gratitude in general I happened to stumble upon a link titled: 5 Steps For Making Your Dreams Come True. You should read it too. Really. Reading what the author had to say was incredibly eerie (you know, the kind of thing where you get chills) because what she wrote, her story, was almost exactly what I’d been planning to say here today. Minus the follow your dreams part. I wasn’t going to write about that. This time…any way. :)

Whomever Bex is, I like her. And I’m thankful. After reading what she wrote, I went to bed, and for the first time, in a long time, dreamt of my characters.

She’s right. Miracles do happen. All is well. Life is good. :)

On all the things that matter. And a few that don’t…

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
Neil Gaiman

I’m not sure how nearly a month has passed since we’ve visited but somehow it has…

As for me, I’ve been working on all things balance and although I do mostly believe that “balance” is a myth, I have learned over time what my personal threshold is, and what I need in order to feel that I’m living well. For me personally, that includes pulling back and reacessing my commitments, eliminating clutter, surrounding myself with people who give as much as they take, AND making pleasure top priority. There truly is an art to doing absolutely nothing and being ok with that. :)

Anyway, when I’m not doing “nothing” which really mostly means cooking for, mediating fights between, cleaning up after, and driving to hell and back for those I adore most, I’m usually hard at work trying to push out a second book. In my quest for “balance” and in order to put out my very best work, I’ve decided to delay the release of Breaking Bedrock until a little bit later this winter. To those of you who are waiting (rather impatiently!) for it and aren’t shy about letting me know (I love you and thank you) it truly sucks to let you down. But I do promise that it will be all the better for the delay.

In other news, I am over the moon, grateful to have hit #19 in Romantic Suspense on the Amazon Bestseller List and #45 in Suspense last week. So thank you all for that. I’ve already waxed poetic about the readers and the bloggers over on FB , so I’ll spare you here. But really, thank you all. ;)

If you haven’t yet read Bedrock (seriously, what are you waiting for? ;)) it’s on sale via all major retailers through this Sunday and is just $0.99 in ebook form. Buy links can be found here.

Also, I’ll be signing books at the Texas Book Festival on 10/26/13 from 3-4 pm in The Writer’s League of TX booth. There are a few other events coming up as well as a signing that BookPeople is setting up which I hope to let you know about soon. In addition, I’m doing lots of book club appearances and while I unfortunately can’t be everywhere, I’m so thankful for an awesome little invention otherwise known as Skype.

Oh and one more thing…for anyone considering following a dream or who simply want some tremendously good advice on life…I absolutely LOVE this. Every. Single. Bit. Of. It. So much goodness here. Then again, I have a thing for commencement speeches, probably because I never graduated from higher ed, and if I’m being honest, I have to say that I seriously want to slap some sense into a few kids in this video who look like they’re so “over it.” I want to scream “Wake up! Listen to what he’s saying and be grateful for where you are!!! Oh and P.S. you snotty little brat, even if your parents didn’t take out a second mortgage just to afford for you to be sitting here, they still could’ve done so much with the money they put into their belief in you. I really do apologize for slapping you. You can thank me later. Now, wake up. Oh… and then go make good art.” I know…I know…it’s a sore spot. Clearly. :-)

 

“I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.” ― Neil Gaiman

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So What. Who Cares.

“Quitting is not giving up, it’s choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it’s realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it’s learning to be more productive, efficient and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength.” 
― Osayi Osar-EmokpaeImpossible Is Stupid

I don’t know why it is that I’m thinking in lyrics these days but Pink’s “So What” came to mind and thus the title of this post. Or… I could’ve just as easily gone with “I’ve got 99 problems but you ain’t one of them.” ;)

I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write about today because I knew that another post about love just might send some of you over the edge. So there’s this, instead:

Today I decided to be a quitter. And also that it’s perfectly ok. Absolutely freeing, really.

Lately, I just can’t seem to get my act together to do the things I’m “supposed” to do. You know how it is. There’s something on the calendar or the to do list that you just keep shifting from one day to the next…until before you know it you look up and a month (or more) has gone by and there it is still staring you in the face. Well, for me, there are about 20 items that have continuously been shifted over the past few months. So what do I do? I decide that I need to add just one more thing and of course, uh, you know, I’m sure that this time it’s going to be THE thing that kicks my ass in to gear. And just like that I’ve enrolled myself in two intensive training programs that are certain to do the trick. Until the smarter less logical side of my brain kicks in: But it’s summer!! The days are long. And life is short. Play. Have fun. Yada. Yada. Yada. I know it’s right… but what I don’t get is how the logical side is so damned good at making me feel bad about it.

So, here I am on the fourth (or is it fifth?) day of this training program where four of the five emails have gone unread and the videos unwatched, thinking...so what, who cares. Obviously, these things aren’t all that important or I would’ve done them, right? Right?!?

Then I realize…I am SO over making myself feel bad about the stuff I don’t want to do, the people I don’t want to see, and the meetings I don’t care to take. So, this morning when this little nugget of pure wisdom landed in my inbox, I knew that not only was I meant to read it…but that I’m clearly on the right track. :)

“Life has a much bigger plan for you. Happiness is a part of that plan. Health is a part of that plan. Stability is part of that plan. Constant struggle is not.” Kris Carr

What else is there but love?

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones

Since I’m still only inclined to write about love (because really what else is there?!?) I thought that instead of making you gag myself I’d share something from someone who says it a trillion times more eloquently than I ever could. And oh number 5…well, I’m pretty certain it says it best.

“When you speak, write or create, you act like it’s your job to make mind-blowing, passionate love to whatever idea it is that drives the project you’re working on at the time.”

Check out this little piece of brilliance: 10 things I love about you.  I hope it makes you smile too and/or gag just a little…it’s good for you. ;)

Sunshine…on a cloudy day.

“It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I could write about books or book tours or book sales…or any number of things, I guess. But the only thing I’m truly inclined to write about is love. Love. Love. LOVE. :) I’m so happy these days, over the moon, really. Summer is absolutely my favorite time of year. It has always been the time when I’m most myself…if that makes any sense. Anyway, I’ll spare you (just a little) and write about kindness and acts of service instead. I posted this on my personal FB profile and thought I’d share here, too.

This year there was one safety patrol kid in particular at my sons elementary school who was my favorite. Every time my car landed in his spot and he opened or closed the car door for my son, I felt like we lucked out. Always smiling, he just had the best energy. It didn’t matter if it was the crack of dawn or afternoon, rain or shine, cold or hot…the kid was happy to see you. I embarrassed my kids by acting foolish on the days we lucked out and for always telling the boy he was my favorite safety patrol. Today, as he was leaving the school (no longer on duty, they passed the baton) he tapped on my window to tell me goodbye- he’s moving on to middle school. Long story short…sometimes it’s the small gestures that make our days special. They all add up and our lives become a sum of them. You never know how or when someone will make your days a little sweeter by their acts of service. Maybe it’s silly… but that kid was an inspiration to me daily. I hope my foolishness let him know as much.

And Then There Was A Trailer…

“Chance favors the connected mind.” ~ Steven Johnson

If you follow me over on FB, you may have seen this post…

Have you ever worked with someone on something and found that person to be so amazing that you felt it was divine intervention (or kismet) that the two of met?!? THAT is exactly how I feel right now and I can’t wait to share what’s coming. P.S. Sorry…I myself kind of hate stay tuned type posts and I’m in no way trying to do that- I was more or less just saying how grateful I am to have found exactly the right, talented person. Kismet or divine intervention or whatever…well, it rocks. 

I was speaking of Lisa of Pixel Pixie Designs. I was introduced to Lisa via an email I received from Goodreads which featured several posts from an author chat in their forums. I had a very specific idea in mind of what I wanted in a book trailer for Bedrock…I just wasn’t sure how to implement it…so I sort of gave up on having one done. Then came Lisa. :) Immediately after writing her and receiving her response I knew I wanted to work with her. And she proved to be every bit as amazing as I thought she would be. Normally, I don’t read these emails so it’s pretty awesome that I did that day.

Anyway, check it out…

P.S. This video contains mature adult content and is NSFW or children.

A BIG Ol’ Thank You. And The Answer is YES.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” — Buddha

I just want to take the time to say thank you to each of you for being so supportive. After my last post, I felt it was important to say as much; to let you know that I appreciate you and didn’t lose sight of the fact that for the few negative responses I’ve received, I’ve gotten ten times as many good ones. And it’s always been important to me to see the good, even when things aren’t necessarily peachy. Find the good. And focus on IT. Because there is so, so much good.

Everyday, I’m in awe of all of the amazingness being sent my way. I really truly appreciate each and every one of you who read here, each of you who’ve spent your hard earned money purchasing Bedrock. To those of you who’ve told your friends, entered giveaways, and especially all of you who’ve taken the time to write reviews, email me, message me, and leave notes on my FB page saying how much you enjoyed reading my work, it means the world to me. THANK YOU.

And….to answer to the one question I’m most often asked these days: YES, there will be a sequel. :) You’ll hear more from Addie and William; and see how all of the characters (and their relationships) evolve and play out.

In other book related news: all giveaway winners have just been notified via email. Thank you to all who took the time to enter. Congrats to Debbie C., Vickie M., Jane B., Kelli G., Kristen S., Wendy G. and Robin B.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Chin Up, Girl. Chin UP.

“I have spent a good many years since–too many, I think–being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.” ― Stephen KingOn Writing

I’ve thought a pretty good deal about whether or not to post this….because in general I don’t believe in shedding light on negativity. The last thing I want is to add fuel to the fire. That said, I also believe that it’s important to set a precedent on how you expect to be treated. In the end, I thought about my children and how I’d want them to react if someone were treating them badly. And I’d hope that they would have the courage to not only stand up for themselves… but also for what they believe in. -B

This past week the world of author land (via the web) has been a relatively negative one. Which makes me pretty sad- because as a general rule I try and stay away from negativity and drama. But there are a few things in particular that I did want to address: I received my first few pieces of hate (e)mail. I’m not going to rehash or share what was said here…because in my opinion that would lend credence to it. I will say that it’s a waste of time sending me mean emails because I really don’t pay attention to what (hateful) people think of me. If one wants to send helpful critique… then by all means. Yes, my novel is dark (and some would even say twisted) which is why I’ve added a warning label- just about everywhere possible. It isn’t required reading material and as a consumer all major retailers have fairly generous return policies. As a writer, I stand behind my story. I do not read or respond to people writing for the sake of being mean.

Which brings me to the fire storm of press that author M. Leighton has received this week for taking her novel down because a few people couldn’t handle its dark content. I’m not inclined to judge this author or her motivations for un-publishing her work. I don’t know her but I can relate (a little) to how she feels. Putting yourself out there is inviting people to judge you. And it takes a certain type of grit not to give a shit- especially when their judgement is not in your favor. The thing about email, social media, and the internet is that it gives people a certain power. You can say (write) what you think while for the most part remaining anonymous. And because of this there are a whole crop of assholes out there just looking for an opportunity to utilize their newly found power. They say things they would never say to your face as though wielding a sword, waiting to stab the first thing that moves. It’s crazy. It’s the not funny- kind of funny. It’s sad. And yet their audience thrives on it. They feed on the drama of it all. As for me, I decided not to pay attention to it. I do however pay close attention to the energy I surround myself with- and it’s my belief that once you draw a line in the sand and let people know that you won’t tolerate their bad behavior… they get bored. And they do what bullies do… they move on to their next target.

So what I would say to M. Leighton (if she were a friend) is this: taking down your work but only after telling everyone it will be gone forever within the next two days…is going to seem a little bit overly dramatic to the general public. They will see it as a publicity stunt and one way you propelled yourself into the top 100. Unfortunately, there will surely be backlash in that, too. And it’s a choice you’ll likely regret. Because in the long run you’re letting your critics win. You’ll come to find for the very reasons that people wrote to say that they hated the book, will be the exact same reasons others love it. Either way, this decision as a writer is a personal one that is yours to make. And truthfully, it really isn’t right for me or anyone else to debate it. But don’t let temporary defeat stop you from doing what you love. Get back to writing. And chin up, girl. Chin UP.

“I don’t have time, energy, or interest in hating the haters; I’m too busy loving the lovers.” ― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience