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Born to Dream

“We have big, beautiful brains. We invent things that fly. Fly. We write poetry. You probably hate poetry, but it’s hard to argue with ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate’ in terms of sheer beauty. We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.” ― Nicola Yoon, The Sun is Also a Star

~

I'm turning thirty in a month. And I'm sure most people don't feel thirty when that birthday comes around, but I've barely lived outside my room since sixteen. I didn't experience many things teenagers typically did. First dates, first kisses, school dances, learning to drive. Graduation. College. Jobs. Some of those things didn't really bother me. Others bothered me a lot. And still do. Because none of those things have changed.

I think I've forgotten how to dream big. When I was a child, I was passionate and imaginative. I knew how to hold dreams of magic and romance, even in spite of the intense pain I was living with in reality. I believed in miracles and soulmates. I was my Jane Roberts. Innocent dreamer. Now I'm actually more like Chaz Parker. Still very compassionate. Wanting great things for those I love. But jaded. Damaged. Cynical. Miracles and soulmates still exist, but not for me. Magic and love never found the real me. Dreams of magic faded to a feeling of being trapped in reality.

Writing used to be like magic for me. I could create anything my heart could yearn for and put it into words. Make it almost real. And while I knew I had so far to go in writing skill, I was certain that I'd get there. That I was meant to share the stories, the characters, the words in my heart. And that it would matter. Maybe not to billions of people. But to many. I believed in my dreams.

Years later, I self-published my first book. Now I'm scared that nothing I write will matter to anyone. I don't know how to reach for the stars anymore. They aren't any farther away than they were when I was a child. In fact, I'm taller than I was then; I'm much further along. But that space between seems far more unreachable. Gravity holds me trapped to the earth. An inescapable fact instead of something I could bend through fiction.

I had to drag myself through Book Two. I had to cut myself open when I most wanted to hide and escape from myself. When I finally finished the book, things kept popping up to delay me from releasing it. Artist switches. Formatting issues. And now, deciding to re-edit Book One. And I've accepted it. Eventually welcomed most of the changes. Sometimes life has to redirect you to get you where you need to be. I'm quite resistant to change, but I do still believe things happen for a reason. The books will both be better for the shifts and changes when it's all said and done.

But I miss writing. Not editing. Not revision. Writing. I got a taste of writing Book Three during my first delay. And I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I felt more free and fully connected to writing again. And it's strange that in Book Three Jane is going through what I am right now. A loss of belief in herself. A disconnect with her own magic. That's what brought me to feel more connected to myself. By facing my true feelings. My dark night of the soul.

I want to dream again. I want to believe again. I want to find the Jane to my Chaz. The bright spark to light up my own belief again. Maybe it's still somewhere inside of me.

Synchronicity Cover Reveal



Synchronicity (Magic Inc. Book Two) (2019)

Tragedy has rocked Jane Roberts’s life. As she tries to help the Parkers through their loss, amidst increasing bullying and painful visions, Jane feels only one thing remains the same: she is still convinced Chaz Parker is her Soulmate. Her feelings are stronger than ever and maturing rapidly in spite of her young age. But there’s a new problem… Chaz has a girlfriend. Desperate to see into her destiny, Jane makes a mistake which pulls her future into her present. And it could change everything at Magic Inc.

Cover Art by Abigail Diaz

Fear of Shining

I've always loved shiny, sparkly things. Jewelry, crystals, glitter. But I've always been equally afraid of shining. Of putting myself in the spotlight. I may wear bright colors and unique jewelry pieces, but I don't want to be seen. I may want to express my creativity and tell my own truth through fiction, but I don't want it to be judged by the world. Even the most genuine human beings are full of contradictions. I want to be seen. I want to matter. I want my art to matter. But I also want to hide it and myself away where we are safe and (to a certain extent) stagnant.

I think comfort zones are given a bad reputation in the spiritual world, though. Everyone seems to love the line, "Nothing ever grows there." I don't agree with that at all. I've done all of my best work (inner and creative) when I felt safe enough to explore my own heart and mind. Not all growth is made in the outer world through outer experiences. That's a very extroverted way of thinking. Introverted growth is important, too. I could argue it's even more important. But sometimes you grow from experience and sometimes you grow from introspection.

However, there does come a time when you have to take the things you discovered and created in your safe space out into the world. Where it is definitely not safe. I'm heading towards one of those times now. In the next few months, I'll be releasing two books. I'm re-releasing Book One, hopefully to a larger audience. And I'm finally releasing Book Two, my soul-baring book forged in the flames of my own self-hatred. It is a very scary time for me. I don't know that all the work I've put into these books for nine years combined will even matter. I don't know if readers will pick through my shiny, broken bits of soul like magpies only taking what they want - good or bad - from it.

I have no grand stories of how "worth it" putting yourself out there is. I have only hopes and fears... and the inner knowing that this is what I was meant to do. And the time is nearly right.

Before You're Ready

So, I get that some people find the "start before you're ready" quotes motivating, but I don't think it's the right way to approach the problem. I think the real issue is that people are trusting their fear voice to tell them if they are ready, and the fear voice is NEVER ready. Because there is never a guarantee that everything will work out. That there won't be any struggle or pain involved.

However, there IS such a thing as being ready, and I believe it is very important. It's just that you have to dig through the fear voice of the mind to find the intuitive voice of the heart. Because that is where you will figure out if you truly are ready.

Most likely, especially for perpetually anxious people like me, you will never not be afraid of taking the next step. But when I've taken successful steps forward, it's because I knew somewhere inside that it was time and I was ready.

I think it's actually kind of dangerous to be telling people to start before they are ready. Just the same as it's kind of dangerous to rely on your fear voice to be the only guiding factor in your decisions. We are more than our fear voice.

Beyond Magic Inc.

I haven't gotten any writing or editing done this week, but I've been making notes, checking timeline events, and creating character profiles. Writing is about more than just writing. It's also having panicked moments of events not lining up and realizing you had it figured out already. And forgot to mark it down.

Looking over "The Timeline" also reminds me of the much bigger universe that exists outside of Magic Inc. and how much I miss it. I love writing the Magic Inc. series beyond anything else I've ever worked on, but I miss working on other pieces of the universe - on other stories, too.

There are so many characters' stories that blend together to make The Timeline Universe. And you only see peeks at a few of them in Magic Inc. I figured out so much of this before I even started writing Book One. And I feel like those stories have gotten ignored for a long time. I don't regret choosing Magic Inc. to be my main focus. But I wish I had more energy to devote to multiple stories without falling behind on my responsibility to continue Magic Inc. in a timely manner.

Vulnerability and Soul Connections

I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability. It’s coming up for me this week, as I continue to think about publishing fears and not fitting in. I’m sure that there are authors out there who feel like the posts I make are too vulnerable. That they aren’t professional. But I’ve seen evidence that talking openly about our struggles can be encouraging to others, from both sides. I’ve felt understood by reading posts by other authors struggling with anxiety and depression. I’ve been told I was inspiring by those who have been publishing longer than I have. So, I want to keep talking.

In truth, I think I’ve always been wired for vulnerability. I think that was exactly what my peers saw in me, what made them attack. Maybe my vulnerability made them feel uncomfortable. Maybe suffocating me made them feel strong and in control. Eventually, I had to learn to hold it in, to exert control, myself. To project a cold, unfeeling exterior to make myself less prone to catching attention. In some ways, that worked. Most kids started to bore of tormenting me when it seemed all I did was agree with their taunts. Only those who were in the most pain themselves continued to poke and prod at my outer shell. Maybe they knew well enough that I was only hiding my pain – that I was dying inside – because that was their reality, too.

I couldn’t keep it up, though. A year or two of repression resulted in the most obvious of explosions. I spent the last quarter of eighth grade sobbing openly at school. By then, many of my classmates had matured out of their cruelness. They felt bad for me. But they couldn’t really do anything to help me. My need for love had destroyed me. Because I was looking for it in the also wounded. And truthfully, not many eighth graders could process my intensity, wounded or not. (And we all are, to some extent.) They couldn’t understand the deep, bold love that I had always yearned for. A love that even many adults struggle to give and receive.

I don’t know why I’ve always had this – at times, excruciating – longing for deep, soulmate love. I’ve looked for it in friendships as well as in romantic love. The kind of connection that feels almost otherworldly. And in some friendships, I have brushed against it. The vulnerability I believe it takes to feel that kind of connection. These friendships were often ones that had the longest, bumpiest roads. We’ve fought and hurt each other. We’ve been through things that break most friendships. And yet... as adults, we’ve found a level of connection and trust that we wanted as children, but maybe weren’t entirely prepared for. We were the most wounded ones. It took time for us to understand how to love each other. To be there for each other. We’re still always learning.

In the last few years, I’ve been afraid to say what I want most of all. Those who I’ve known the longest, they already know. And I’ve expressed it publicly, too. When I talk about Jane. But I've kept it at a distance from current me. I’ve danced around the words. Because it makes some people uncomfortable. I want a soulmate. A romantic soulmate. Someone who can understand and love my wounded inner child. Someone who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and bare their soul. Someone who believes in the same things I do. Someone who gets me on a level that nobody else has entirely reached. I want this, as I’ve always wanted this. From the age where I can remember wanting anything besides the love and attention of my parents. I don’t care if this sounds impossible to some of you. I was made with this yearning for a reason. Same as I was made to put my thoughts into words. To tell my soul truth through both fiction and fact.

But I want vulnerable and deep friendships, too. It is a classic introvert trait to want deep conversations over small talk. To feel more drained from a conversation about the day-to-day than about the core of who we are as humans. But we need to have safe relationships in order to do this. We need people who understand and relate to the desire to talk about what’s under the surface. And not everybody is in a place in their lives when they can talk like that. Some people probably never will be. And it’s hard for us – the most introverted – to feel seen and heard if we don’t have those safe relationships.

I think that’s why I have been writing these long entries again. I’ve come out of another period of repression. And I’m still struggling not to fall back into that hole, where no one can hear you because you're too afraid to speak. But I feel the need to reach out – to call out – to those like-minded people out there. The naturally vulnerable. Or those who have finally realized that nothing is real if you can’t be who you truly are with the world. Or at least with your soul tribe. Start there. And if you can't find your soul tribe, just know that you aren't alone. Speak your truth, even if you have to start with whispers.

Otaku-A-Thon Wrap Up

This weekend, I participated in Otaku-A-Thon, which was hosted by AlexaLovesBooks and SuperSpaceChick. The goal was to read lots of manga and watch lots of anime. Optional challenges were provided, as well. I've always wanted to participate in a readathon, but I'm just not a fast enough reader to read multiple books over one weekend, and I always worry about burning out on reading. This was the perfect alternative for me. Not only was I able to read multiple manga, but I could change up the routine with anime whenever I needed a break.

I've been struggling so much with anxiety and depression. They've been hitting me in pretty concentrated bursts for months, and at the beginning of this weekend, I was feeling absolutely awful. Luckily, I had prepared a list and pile of options ahead of time, so I just had to read (and watch). Eventually, I began to lose myself in the stories - some of which were continuations or revisits of old favorites. My heart soared seeing some beloved characters again. It also broke when revisiting sorrowful moments. (Not all of that was technically great for my mental wellness. But crying can be a good release.) Either way, I was able to connect deeply with the stories I read and watched.

This weekend reminded me of two things. One, stories are powerful escapes. And two, you can get wonderful inspiration from stories in any form. These are not new concepts to me by any means. (If you look closely at Magic Inc., you can absolutely see the Cardcaptor Sakura influence: wands turning into staffs that you ride like a broom.) But sometimes you need the reminder. Indulging in stories you love is never a waste.

I started out the weekend thinking I wasn't going to do any editing, but after my mood improved on Saturday, I actually ended up finishing Chapter 11's edits. And Sunday evening, I worked through all of Chapter 12. The stories I was taking in inspired me, and the long stretches of just immersing myself in things I loved let me build up the energy to get the work done. So, I was grateful in multiple ways to have the excuse to focus on manga and anime for four days straight. I really hope to do it again!

I also wrote a short, somewhat spoilery review of 5 Centimeters per Second. Which expresses my feelings on both the movie and manga, and hints slightly at the end of Your Name. If you are okay with all of that, you can read that review here.

And with that, the wrap up...

Manga Wrap Up:
Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card (Volumes 1-3)
Paradise Kiss (Chapters 1-16)
5 Centimeters per Second
NANA (Volumes 1-2)

Anime Wrap Up:
Eden of the East (Episodes 9-11)
Eden of the East Movies
Sword Art Online II (Episodes 22-24)

~

Most recently acquired or most recently added to your queue:
Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card (Manga)
5 Centimeters per Second (Manga)

Catch up on a series you’re behind on:
Cardcaptor Sakura (Manga)
Sword Art Online (Anime)

Read a manga adaptation of an anime you love or watch an anime adaptation of a manga you love:
5 Centimeters per Second (Manga)

Revisit an old favorite:
NANA (Manga)
Eden of the East (Anime)

Start a new series:
Paradise Kiss (Manga)

Read or watch a manga or an anime that’s been recommended to you:
Paradise Kiss (Manga)

Read another series by an author you’ve read previously:
Paradise Kiss (Manga)

Read or watch a manga or anime in a genre of your choice:
NANA (Manga)
Paradise Kiss (Manga)

You Live, Only Once

I've been thinking a lot about the path I've had to forge on my own. With anxiety. Bullying. Quitting school at sixteen. Fighting to make the world understand that my disability is real. I can't really say that I've truly been "living" these past fourteen years. But one thing I have persisted with through all of these struggles is writing.

I'm having to accept now that my path with writing is not a well-worn one, either. Yes, there are so many authors who have come before me. Who've inspired me with their stories. But I've found that my process is pretty different than most writers. I don't write every day. I don't follow rules and guidelines. I don't read craft books or take classes. I don't use templates for outlining. I spend the majority of my time on the first draft. I don't often force myself to write. I "wait" for inspiration.

Maybe I'm lucky that I'm able to do it this way. I don't have deadlines. I don't *have* to force myself. I also couldn't. My anxiety is just too bad to force myself to write every day, or even on a regular schedule. I have to do it when I feel up to it. When I'm inspired. Not only is that the only way to keep myself from getting too sick to do anything, but it results in better work.

You have to live your own best life. My process isn't for everyone; that's for sure. I'm not in any way trying to imply that my process is better than anyone else's. But what I do want to say - what I've been fighting to say every time I see rules and guidelines brought up in the writing community - is that there is not one right way to write. I don't care how common a piece of advice is... it is not absolute.

You can write any way you want to. You can live your life any way you want to. As long as you're putting your heart and soul and compassion into the life you're living, you are doing it the right way. Your own right way. You have to trust your intuition over the voice of the crowd. Over your own fear voice. It is by no means the easy path. But in the end, as far as I know, you only live once. Don't you want that life to be your own?

Making Your Own Path

So, update on Book One re-editing. It’s going well, but slowly. I’m mostly making really small changes on things I missed or things that always bothered me, and I’m continuing to enjoy my own story. Which is nice. Sometimes, I actually find myself grinning at how much I love these characters.

I am starting to feel anxious about releasing Book Two again, though. Part of it is just the same reasons as before. That people won’t “get” the story, or they will misunderstand my characters. Another part of it is the not new, but finally accepted feeling of not fitting into the writing community. My process is too different. I don’t follow the same rules. I don’t agree with the generally accepted advice. I disagree with the norm. I cause waves.

I’m weird. I always have been. Magic Inc. is weird, too. It would have to be, seeing as it is my heart and soul poured into book form. Sometimes, I wonder what I’m doing releasing these stories into the world. Jane is me. Her experiences are mine. It’s all too real and too vulnerable. What if they hate it? What if they hate me?

I’ve had it implied that I’m not serious about writing because I don’t write everyday. Because I don’t (and can’t) treat it like a job. My anxiety is just too overwhelming. And to be honest, I just don’t agree that forcing yourself to write creates the best work. Not for me, anyhow. Every writer is different.

Writing is my life, and it has been since I was eleven. Writing is my art; I cut myself open and pour my heart and soul into it. I am a very serious person, on all fronts, but my writing… it’s basically sacred to me. It’s my spiritual therapy. It’s my vocation. It’s all I have to give to the world.

And that’s the thing. I could stop publishing. I could write just for myself and hide away from the online world the same way that I usually hide from the “real” world. But then I would have absolutely nothing to contribute. It would feel like I didn’t exist. (It already feels like that, sometimes.)

I used to believe that there would be some people out there who could benefit from my stories. I still hope that’s true. But it can be hard to believe in. To believe in yourself. Especially when your formative years were filled with bullying. And in some ways, it’s easier than ever to lash out when you don’t like or agree with someone. (Even I’ve done it, occasionally.)

I fear that Jane and her journey will be just as misunderstood as I was growing up. And believe me, I wasn’t perfect, either. I judged other kids; I did stupid things. But I never fit in anywhere. Something that has continued fully into my adult life. I’ve always been forced to make my own path. I guess that’s just the way it is. I will do what is best for the story. I will do what is best for my writing process. If that makes me an outsider forever, then so be it.

But it’s lonely making your own path.