Release Date Chosen!

Alright, everybody, get pumped: The Thing About Apples will be released on July 5th, 2016! That’s a little over four months from now, which means I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then to make sure that I’m helping my publisher release the best version of this work for you possible. In the coming months I’ll be posting a lot of updates regarding how the process is going (I’m always excited when it comes time to see the cover! eLectio does an amazing job with those). Don’t forget to get your copies of the rest of the series in time to catch up!

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Goodreads Giveaway Complete: The Winners

Thanks to all four hundred and fifty eight people who entered my recent giveaway of my second novel, To Dwell in Dreams

The five winners are:

 

S. Steinbruegge, of Mexico, MO

Jenny Villavicencio, of Calabasas, CA

Anna Langford of Plansfield, IN

Alison Sumprer of Nanuet, NY

Micelle Carter of Wilmington, DE

 

Congratulations! Your signed copies of To Dwell in Dreams will be in the mail shortly.

Don’t forget you can still get your copy from Amazon, from the publisher (who, if you buy a paperback copy, you will recieve an electronic copy for free) or you can contact me for a signed copy directly from me for a limited time.

 

 

Becoming a Better Writer: Taking Breaks

I’m the kind of person that likes to go go go. When writing, I prefer to power straight through projects rather than do it little by little. For the most part, this works out for me. I write a little each day, force myself to at least get through a good chunk of setting or dialouge on days that I just have no desire to write, and edit in any downtime. The rest of my time is then divided up into day-job work, sleeping when necessary, a scheduled amount of social time, then plenty of reading and promoting my current works. I like to be busy. I take pride in being busy.

Even then, it’s good for me to take little breaks now and again. For me, a break period never goes beyond a month if I really need a breather. More often it tends to be a period of about two to three weeks. With the exception of jotting down a couple notes so I don’t forget about crucial brain-babies, I refuse to pick up a pen for creative writing. I put my manuscript notebooks up on a high shelf so I don’t even look at them. I stall on printing out the manuscript that needs editing. The only thing I have access to are my poetry book and my notes- both of which I will not open without a really good reason.

Since I’m the kind of person who needs to force herself to go on breaks, I still have to be productive somehow. I focus more on completing small, fun things. This can be powering through my book list and taking out more books from the library. This can be making a commitment to seeing one old friend a week, or having more get-togethers or girl’s nights for a couple weeks. At the moment, my break has taken the form of busting through all three Mass Effect games (happened to get a deal at GameStop where I got all three for fifteen bucks, whoo hoo, currently halfway through the second). I re-route my energy into these new goals so that I am capable of taking a break without neglecting my own mental health. Might not sound like the most common way to go about keeping myself at my mental peak, but I know how my own mind works. It needs to be constantly spinning or it begins to panic. When I take a break, I specifically do things that let my mind spin- but instead of having it spin on full speed, the way it does when I am actively creating something, I let it spin against itself, through accomplishing easier, pre-set tasks or re-acquainting myself with people I’m already familiar with. Accomplishments without too much challenge or with a much lower level of stress attached.

And yes, I think all these mental hoops are worth jumping through. No matter how you get to them, breaks are beneficial. Even if the point of the break isn’t being restful or really even slowing down the pace of general productivity. When I take breaks, I take a huge step back from my current projects. I don’t let myself think about the projects I want to be working on (sometimes can’t be helped, but at least I try). I think about other things. I consume the works of others. I pick up on points of views that the people I haven’t seen in awhile have picked up in their own life journeys. I allow myself to enjoy the little, usually even pointless, achievements and train myself to be content with all those little things. This helps me to recenter my own perspective, as well as recharging my sense of purpose and happiness with my choice of career.

So even for the super productive, going-all-the-time people like me, breaks are important. Whether it comes naturally or you have to schedule them, whether it entails lounging on a couch and marathoning Teen Wolf or getting out of the house and going dancing with your friends, they are crucial for your mental well-being, and thus beneficial for your dreams and aspirations. Make sure you’re taking them!

 

How do you like to take your breaks, readers?

March Progress: Manuscript #3

Today I finished the first draft of the fantasy manuscript that I started for NaNoWriMo, Painting the Roses Red. Current stats stack the project at forty chapters with 141, 432 words. Regardless of where I go later wit this project, I’m proud of myself for finishing such a big project in five months. The target finishing date was by the June release of my next novel- and I’m nearly two months ahead of schedule. I’ve really enjoyed writing it, and depending on how the first readers receive it, I’m really looking forward to polishing it and seeing how it fares in submission processes somewhere down the road.

I’m going to take about a week off from anything writing-related and just read and play video games in the time I’ve been using for drafting. Then I’ll dive right back into it, beginning the planning processes for The Thing About Apples, the third installment of my current ‘Once Upon a Reality’ series. This next one is going to be the most personal and I also think the most fun out of the current books in the series, so I really look forward for this one being a lighter, more fun coming-of-age novel than the previous two that took on more heady, series subjects.

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting me thus far, giving me encouragement and well-placed kicks in the rear to keep up the momentum.

Anniversary Giveaway: The Winners!

Can you believe that it’s been a full year since my first novel, ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, was published? I still can’t believe it- even though I’ve already even finished the second and have everything set for a summer publication.

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1114 people entered my anniversary Goodreads giveaway- that’s about twice as many people who entered my first giveaway more than a year ago! If you had told the me then that more than a thousand people would be requesting something I wrote, I would have laughed you off.

I’d like to take this moment to thank all of my supporters and fans for one heck of a year. It’s been exciting, jumping headfirst into this whole authoring thing- but  I wouldn’t have the strength or the will to keep pushing myself to become a better author, producing better stories for you, if I didn’t have such a wonderful network of encouragement and kindness.

Congratulations to the five winners of the giveaway:

JC Tenney

Candace Banning

Sharon Powell

Caryn Landreth

and

Paige Bryant!

 

Your signed copies of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls will be shipping out to you this week! For those of you who entered and didn’t win, you can still get your copies at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, through the Book Bar or requesting a copy from your local independent bookstore. If you’d like a signed copy, always feel free to contact me personally through my contact form here!

Update: February Progresses

Well, as the New Year gets into its second month I am keeping on track with my progress in writing my fiction at least. I’ve gotten past the half-way mark on the first draft of my current first fantasy project (a pet project involving re-telling the world of Wonderland), and getting some good feedback on it from initial beta readers. My major goal is to completely finish this first draft by June at the latest, at which point I will put it aside for more beta reading while I dive headfirst into writing ‘The Thing About Apples’.

Still waiting on the go-ahead to announce the extremely exciting news that I have to share concerning the second ‘Once Upon a Reality’ installment, To Dwell in Dreams. All I can say now is that the book is most definitely going to be published by summer (so get your first installment, ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, before then to have enough time to do both!)

I’ve also finished two more short stories that I currently have circulating around on submission, so I will hopefully have some good news concerning those for everyone soon!

Mostly the things that I’ve been doing other than kicking out this massive first draft (its going to be 40 chapters, with each chapter roughly twice the size as the chapters in my debut novel >< ) is updating and maintaining my multiple social network sites, updating my videos, and applying to listings on writer directories now that I’ve garnered plenty of ‘points’ of publication to be included on different lists. I’ve also got my ‘real life’ hands full with getting financially and mentally ready for a move in June and getting new jobs, etc. All things considered, I think I’m doing pretty well! Of course, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the constant encouragement and support of my fans, so thank you all for being here with me! I can’t wait to be able to share more awesome stories with you in the future!

Becoming a Better Writer: Keep your (Multiple) Day-Jobs

When I tell people that I’m an author, one of the first questions that inevitably gets asked is ‘How much money do you make with that?’ or the comment of, ‘Look at you, rolling in the big bucks’. I refuse to answer either of them, as I think that a person’s income is a very personal thing and is honestly nobody’s business but my own and my family’s. I will state, however, that this early on in my career, I am most certainly not ‘rolling in the big bucks’. At this stage of my writing, royalty checks are less income than they are very nice, extremely appreciated bonuses that I am very, very proud of. They do not, and probably will not for some time, give me the financial space in which to quit my day jobs.

Which I’m actually perfectly okay with. Not ecstatic about, by any means, but okay with. By my last semester of college, I was working four jobs- nanny, sales associate, sacristan and online editor of my school’s newspaper. Throughout my college career, I had also been an admin assistant for a real estate company, a desk assistant, a laundrywoman and a retreat-leader. Some of these jobs paid better than others, some of them paid less but I enjoyed them more, some of them paid best and were the most enjoyable but offered the least amount of hours, some offered good hours but below-living-wage pay. Some I could write at, some I couldn’t. Some had coworkers I enjoyed, some didn’t.

I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for a second. Now that I’m graduated and officially an adult by societal standards, I now have two jobs, in retail and nannying (though I just applied for a third, fingers crossed, as the retail job has cut back so severely on hours that I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills).  Though people have asked me how I find time to write with all of this work to do, I find that I honestly couldn’t write without it. On its base level, working (usually) gives me the sense of security that I need in order to be writing my novels and short stories without having to worry about having a roof over my head tomorrow, and I am grateful for that. It also gives me the peace of knowing that, should I need a job in the future to support my kids because I’m still not making enough through writing, I have experience on my resume from this time in my life that I can use as a cushion no matter what is in store for me in the future.

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Homemade sidewalk chalk painting with one of the girls I nanny.

I am also lucky enough to have chosen my specific jobs well. Coming from a large Irish family, where I tended to be the most responsible and also the most willing to be around the children, I started nannying because I thought it would be the easiest fit for me. Where this normally turns into a ‘and I was wrong’ twist, I actually found that I had been entirely right. Sure, watching children for a living isn’t always ‘fun’- the children aren’t always angels, even if they are on the whole, and even when they are being good, it can be extremely stressful being responsible for another human being’s wellbeing, happiness, and safety (surprise, surprise). However, after being with the family who hired me for almost a year now I can say that I would personally be happy if I never published another novel and just focused on becoming a childcare provider. I love being a nanny. And even as a writer, I think nothing short of me having my own family will stop me from being one. Being a nanny has been an unexpected blessing for my writing, as  I’ve written about on my poetry blog regarding hanging around kids, and even on the days when I don’t have time to sit and write while the girls are doing their homework, just being around them gives me the mental space in order to keep my creative gears going.

Even though I personally hate retail work, I can also admit that it too has helped me become a better writer. Even in my smaller, 4-5 hour shifts I am exposed to a plethora of so many different people of varying cultures, languages, types of dress, socioeconomic statuses, gender performances, and temperments. Some of them are my coworkers who I have to see every day, reacting to the same situations I am. Some of them are customers who try to fit their entire life story into the three minutes I have them stalled at the cash register. Catch them on good days, catch them on bad days, it doesn’t matter: people say just the most fascinating things to the cashiers that they don’t even tend to see as ‘people’ than they see them as nameless blanks filling a role. Some of them are horribly offensive, some of them are awe-inspiring, some ridiculous and some boring people who view themselves as heroes of their own worlds. I’d like to think that this experience has and will continue to make me more concious of my character development- without working retail, I don’t think I would be so intimately aware of the myriad kinds of people that exist in my own community, much less the potential people that can populate the worlds I create myself.

So no, being a published author has not allowed me to quit my day-job. But at this point in my life, why should I?

Followers: What kinds of jobs have you benefited from the most? Where have you met an author working in an unexpected place? What kind of job do you think would work best with your writing schedule?