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Let Your Inspiration Be Your Guide

I worked on edits for the first time in a while today, and I felt so refreshed from taking a break and working on what my heart was telling me to do - even if it didn't make sense at the time or lead to anything I'm likely to publish as a book.

So, I just want to encourage the idea of following your inspiration again. As it turns out, being open to these things just invites them to occur more often. You might not be able to write an entire book without "just showing up" sometimes. But inspiration isn't as rare as it sounds if you are connected to your heart and soul... and always seeking the beauty of story and art around you.

Doubts

So, I started a serial story called Doubts. It follows two introverted characters who fell in love online trying to adjust to a relationship in person. It has a very true-to-me depiction of social anxiety and self-doubt that makes the main character fear the relationship isn't real or deserved.

This is a very personal story that comes from me trying to convince myself someone could really love me. The love interest is a "soft boy" who is gentle and kind, though still human with his own doubts and fears. And yeah, it's important to me beyond being a break from edits.

The story is almost entirely told through dialogue, with gaps of time between the meaningful moments. And I will be posting it little by little, mostly in order. If you feel like it's something you may be interested in, here is the link.

Possibility

I don't know if I believe that literally anything is possible. We have very real limitations in our world. Some of us more than others. But I want to believe that the things we want most desperately in our own lives are seeds that were planted in us for a reason. That they are future truths calling, beckoning us to not give up.

One of my deepest callings is writing. Which most of you already know. My other deepest calling... is to be someone's soulmate. I'm sure some of you don't believe in the concept of soulmates, and that's fine. But it is one of the core things that has kept me alive and dreaming. I've built whole books out of this longing. It's more a part of me than almost anything else.

And I believe it's a calling a lot of us share. Not just the search for "romance". But the search for true understanding. The meeting of souls. The person who "gets" you better than anyone else. This could also come from a friendship. I believe in friendship soulmates, as well. But for me, I have always had the sense - from about seven years old - that I was meant to be someone's romantic soulmate.

Since my edits have been the main event in my "work life" for many months, I've felt a longing for creating. Editing requires some creative energy, for sure. But it's a much more technical endeavor. It's not enough to fulfill my desire to create most of the time.

So, my mind started to wander during the free moments. Right before bed. In the middle of the night. And what came through were imaginary conversations with my soulmate. Mostly, of him trying to convince me that it's safe to accept love. That I deserve it, even though almost everything else in life feels like it's told me the opposite.

Before I knew it, I had nearly nine pages of text. Mostly just dialogue. But meaningful dialogue. My absolute favorite part of writing. I've been thinking about sharing these little snippets online. But I'm not sure how best to do it. I have no idea if it will catch the interest of anyone else. But I feel called to share. To tell people that they deserve love, too. Whether it's from someone else, or just from themselves.

It's a rough world out there. But I want to believe.

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August 2019 Favorites

I've always wanted to write a monthly favorites post but let fear hold me back. What if you don't like what I like? Will I be mocked for what I like the way I was in grade school? But you know what? The things you love often get you through some really hard times. And yes, this is going to get personal.

1. The short film Blue. I was having a particularly harsh war with my body the day I watched this movie. I have physical, mental, and emotional flaws that I often carry with me in shame. I am severely limited by my anxiety, and I've gone through some very dark periods. It's often hard to imagine someone who could love me through every physical flaw, past mistake, and disability I have. But this movie reminded me that we all have things we're ashamed of, and that being open and vulnerable is what truly connects us. (Watch on Amazon Prime.)

2. Taylor Swift's Lover album. I formed such a bond with Taylor's 1989 album, and it made her one of my favorite artists of all time. I deeply admire her lyrics and voice. And I was really excited for Lover since it seemed to have a similar vibe to 1989. My favorites so far are The Archer, Daylight, Cornelia Street, Afterglow, and Lover. (That music video!) (Listen on Spotify/Amazon/Apple.)

3. My So-Called Life. I'd never heard much about this cult classic until I found out it shared some production staff with the show Once and Again, which I watched with my Grandma. So far, I am absolutely in love with the style, the not-too-preachy lessons, and the characters. Even the episodes that haven't resonated with me as much have parts I absolutely love. I often find myself crying at the end of episodes. (Watch on Hulu.)

4. Magic Inc. This is a weird one. But after giving up on my second self-imposed deadline, I feel SO MUCH BETTER. I'm taking my time and remembering why I love this series so very much. Why the story idea has stuck with me for over twenty years. Why I've poured my soul into writing it for almost ten. It's mine, and I love it. That's enough for right now. (Follow on Goodreads.)

What are you loving right now? What's feeding your creative soul? Love what you love, and always believe in your own creative power. 💕

Pressure and Freedom

This was going to be part of my next post, but it was getting too long. So, here we are. After months of stressing over edits for the new version of Book One, I finally got rid of my self-imposed deadline. And I feel SO MUCH BETTER.

I know deadlines can be motivating for some people and some writers *have* to meet their deadlines because it's part of their job. But for me, deadlines are just a way I try to "fit in" with other writers. To make myself seem more "professional". When the truth is, deadlines are really bad for my anxiety.

Instead of motivating me, they make me obsessive. Instead of making me excited about my project, they burn me out and make me sick of my own work. I was so stressed about getting it done "on time". So stressed about making it "perfect". This project that was supposed to be a quick readthrough for missed typos turned into a completely new edit that took over my life.

Now, I feel free. I'm taking my time and enjoying the process again. Remembering how very much I love this series. How it's made up of all my broken pieces. And that's why it beautiful. Not because it's perfectly written, perfectly crafted, or beloved by many. But because of how much it means to me. I've poured every part of my soul into these books and will continue to do so no matter what the response is to this rerelease.

That, to me, is what writing is really about.

Steps

I've been a bit quiet online lately. A few weeks ago, I got some bad news from my new doctor. It's no emergency, so please don't worry about me. But I'm having to make some changes to my diet and routine. Which has been really hard.

Any time I try to get healthier, I find myself obsessing over numbers and weight loss. I am, in general, a very anxious and obsessive person. And I tend to get overwhelmed very easily. Though I crave it in most areas of my life, I struggle with balance.

I can only seem to concentrate on one major thing at a time. For years, I chose writing. And my health has suffered for it. I never have gotten even a fraction of the fulfillment I get through writing in excercise or eating healthy. I have low energy, and exercise and meal prep exhausts me. I know logically that these things are good for me. But they drain instead of replenish. They give me less energy for the only thing that makes me feel like I'm worth something.

I am not able to work a normal job. Some weeks, I only leave the house for therapy. I have put all of my self-worth in the one thing I am able to do. Writing used to give me joy. And there was a short period of time last year where I felt it again. Then, I became obsessed with fixing Book One for rerelease. I powered through editing sessions fueled by chocolate and cookie dough. Sugar never gave me a crash. It just gave me energy. But I overindulged. I relied on it too much.

I've been taking more walks lately. I can only go when someone is with me. My Mom and I don't get very far. Editing is going slowly now, too. I might not even have a book to sell at the local signing this year. All I can focus on are the steps. But I'm still not sure where I'm going.

Creatively Craving

I have a bad habit. I tend to start series and not continue them, even when I love the first book. It's been a long time since I read a new-to-me series straight through.

I'm sure some would argue that audiobooks don't count as reading, but I don't care. Audiobooks have been an amazing medium for rereading favorites, tackling books that have been on my TBR forever, and floating through descriptive fantasy that my brain would stumble through in text.

Anyhow, during these long months of (re)editing Book One, my brain hasn't often been drawn to reading for pleasure. This has been a pattern for me with editing before, but I'm not sure it's ever been to this of an extreme. I've only "read" four novels this year, but I've listened to ten audiobooks. I listen every day during my shower, but I occasionally slip in a chapter or two outside of it. (Like when I indulge in my other editing stress relief: playing Spelunky.)

The ten audiobooks have varied greatly in performance and my personal enjoyment. But each time, I was at least able to revisit a favorite or cross another book off my list. In the midst of all that, I found the Caraval series. I have my suspicions that I would not have enjoyed this series so much if I had first engaged with it in text. The fanciful descriptions would probably have slowed my already slow reading speed to a crawl. But as an audiobook, I am completely enchanted by this world and its characters. And it's been a while since I felt that way.

I find lots of enjoyment in so many stories and worlds, but I don't get totally lost in them very often anymore. In part, I blame my own writing. I have to stay immersed in my own world. That has to be my number one priority. But while I turn my passion into lines of text to edit, I've been feeling stifled creatively.

It started with a general feeling of something missing. Then frustration with how long it was all taking. Then the desire to be working on something - anything - else. And the idea of being more passionate towards everyone else's ideas than my own. Because in the end, while editing is important, it is not fulfilling creatively in the way writing, or even rewriting, is.

And it leaves me craving more.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

So, I love to read. I really and honestly do. But when I'm in editing mode (as I have been for most of this year), I find myself not as drawn to reading for pleasure. Which means I've only read four print books this year. However, in the last few years, I have discovered a new passion for audiobooks. Want to reread a book you love but don't want to sacrifice your already limited reading time? Audiobooks. Want to get around to reading that series you've always meant to try but never floats to the top of your TBR? Audiobooks. Want to dive into a deep fantasy but are scared of tripping over the long descriptions? I think you get my point. I've listened to nine audiobooks this year. This was almost exclusively done during my morning shower. Time that might've been lost otherwise. I've also read seventeen manga. I wasn't sure whether I should do this tag. If I had enough to talk about. But you know what? Let's just give it a try.

Just as a note, I always hesitate to answer what is "the best". I don't know what is "the best" objectively. I can only tell you my opinions. My thoughts on books are both very personal and flawed.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2019? My two favorite books so far this year are Caraval and Five Feet Apart. Caraval, I did in audiobook because I thought the descriptions would be too much for me in text. And I actually really loved it this way. The decriptions didn't bother me at all. I loved the atmosphere of the book. And I ended up loving the romance, too. (You can read my short review here.) I'll get back to Five Feet Apart in a few questions.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019? This would have to be City of Fallen Angels. I don't know why it is taking me so long to read through this series (at least it hasn't fallen into the trap of me only reading the first book in a series), but I have loved every book so far.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to? I have a Goodreads TBR that is completely out of control. But because it's the first book to pop into my head, I'll say The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen. I fell really hard for Sarah's books in 2010 and 2011. Only a few of them (mostly her oldest books) have missed the mark for me. But I haven't read her four newest books because I am a slow reader and constantly trying to keep up with YA books that will be made into movies. To my delight, three of Sarah's books will be added to that list. Which means I'll finally read This Lullaby & Once and for All. And probably revisit Along for the Ride in audiobook. Have I said enough about audiobooks in this post? Okay, sorry.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year? I still haven't read my most anticipated book for 2018. So, I honestly don't know. I AM SO BEHIND!

5. Biggest disappointment? Please, don't hate me. It's definitely the Percy Jackson series. I don't, by any means, think of them as bad books. And I'm also well-aware that I'm not the target audience and haven't been for some time. But I always heard these books compared to Harry Potter. And while I knew it couldn't reach the all-powerful nostalgia level that lives within the books that shaped my childhood, I still expected... more. The writing is witty. I like Percy and Annabeth. And I like the idea of the books. (Short review here.) I probably will continue to listen to this series off and on because I want to see how it matures and I've heard great things about the diversity as the series goes on. But I probably will never love these books, and that kind of makes me sad.

6. Biggest surprise? I really didn't expect a book based off of a screenplay to hit me as hard as Five Feet Apart did. I mean, I loved The Fault in Our Stars, and this has the added forbidden love element that I just can't resist. But I almost didn't read the book, being that it wasn't the original story of the movie but written alongside it, instead. But you know, what? I loved it. Yeah, it might have gone a bit fast and could've had more detail. (And I'm aware that the book falls into some potentially triggering tropes.) But I just utterly fell in love with this book. As a person who has longed for love more than anything else in the world, I felt that sharp pain of separation like it was my own. No, touch isn't everything. But when you're in love and in need of comfort, five feet seems like torture.

7. Favorite new author (debut or new to you)? I would really like to see what Rachael Lippincott (Five Feet Apart) would do with her own characters and story.

8. Newest fictional crush? If you read my Born to Dream entry, you'll know that I quoted The Sun is Also a Star. This is a quote from Daniel Bae, a passionate boy who believes in love at first sight and fate - things I've passionately believed in, myself, but have struggled with the last few years. The "insta-love", as they call it, aspect was intense in this book... even for me. But I do truly believe you could have an inner knowing of having found the right person as soon as you meet. As Daniel would say, “There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.” I don't often get crushes on book characters (that aren't my own) these days, but Daniel is as close as it's gotten for me so far this year. He inspires me. I saved many quotes while reading The Sun is Also a Star. And most of them are from Daniel.

9. Newest favorite character? Besides Daniel? Maybe Scarlett Dragna from Caraval? But also, probably Julian from the same, because I found him fascinating. And I feel like that's all I can say without spoiling anything.

10. Book that made you cry? Five Feet Apart. I'm prone to crying easily, but this book got me sobbing.

11. Book that made you happy? I don't really... get happy? But I really, really enjoyed Caraval and Howl's Moving Castle. And also, revisiting Melissa Anneli's book about the Harry Potter fandom (Harry, A History). All in audiobook form. So, I guess you can say that audiobooks in general have really lifted my spirits this year, through exhausting edits and health issues.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)? I've bought so many books this year. Book Outlet has been a gift and a curse. (But mostly, a gift.) If you mean physically beautiful... I picked up Sorcery of Thorns at my local bookstore a couple of weeks ago. And I am so into this cover.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year? I'm currently reading All the Bright Places. I would also like to read Going Off Script, since I won that from a giveaway this year. There are also some ebook giveaways I've been ignoring for too long. (I'm a bad example. Read and review giveaway books, kids. We small authors need that.) But honestly, which books do I need to read by the end of the year? Magic Inc. Book One & Magic Inc. Book Two. I'm hoping to get both the new version of Book One and Book Two out by the end of this year. I'd like them to be out a lot sooner. But this has turned into a much bigger project than I imagined.

Hopes and Dreams

It's hard to hope if you don't allow yourself to dream.

I turned thirty on Tuesday. There was no big emotional crash, just the usual post-socializing exhaustion. In some ways, it was a relief. I'd been dreading thirty for an entire year. I felt like I'd been living it. Now, I've crossed the line. Now, I just have to accept it and hope that my thirties will actually be better than my twenties. Perhaps a low bar, unless you compare it to everything before.

There are a lot of things I hope for my thirties. Finding my one true love. More energy and opportunity to spend time with friends and family. For my writing to finally get out into the world and reach the right readers. But I also hope for a better world. I hope for healing. For equality. For compassion. I hope for my own healing, too. I hope to grow more in my own compassion - both for others and myself. One is a lot harder than the other. I hope to not be at war with myself as often, or as violently. To forgive myself for the past the same way I've forgiven others.

When it comes to putting my work out into the world, I know I am taking the path I need to. Re-editing Book One was not part of my plan. And while it certainly hasn't been without its frustrations, I have found a renewed passion for my story through the process. The editing skills I've developed over the last four years are bringing my first book to life in a new way. I put so much into writing the beginning of Jane's journey, but there was a part of me that didn't feel totally happy with how it turned out technically. How it compared to other books. I think by the end of this process I will finally be completely proud of my first book. The story I lived and loved since childhood will finally be able to shine. And hopefully, lead readers deeper into the story in Book Two.

So, I'm hoping for a fresh start. I don't entirely know what the path ahead will bring. I still (quite admittedly) don't know what I'm doing regarding marketing. But at least I'll be proud of the books I'm selling.