Cages

A pig face looking frankly at you and telling you that you don’t belong in a cage!

How often have you experienced the kind of overwhelm that comes from feeling that there are so many things you “should” be doing, and that list is so long, you end up paralyzed and end up doing nothing?

I recently finished reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle. She talks about how the cages that society creates for us leave us trapped and stifled, often trying to live definitions of ourselves that come from outside of ourselves. (This is definitely paraphrasing. Go read the book yourself to see what I’m trying to get at. )

Anyway, today after reading something from a friend who’s definitely feeling that overwhelm, it made me think: how many of those cages, especially as writers, are we creating for ourselves?

I mean, yes, there are definitely things that we have to do as writers – write books or write something for other people to read being, likely, the number one thing. But other than that, it feels like so many of the definitions of things we “must” and “should” do is a proscribed list that if we actually obeyed it, we’d have no time whatsoever for a life outside of work… and probably no time to write either.

I do wonder if this is perhaps worse among female author-preneurs, or if it’s prevalent everywhere, but if you’re a writer looking to publish and sell your books, you’ve probably heard of some of the things I mean.

  • You have to be on every social media account that has and will ever be (come on, aren’t you signed up yet for the one that won’t exist until 2023??)
  • You should be active on all of those social media accounts too (but be fresh! Just be you! Keep it real… as you force yourself to follow all of this advice.)
  • You must be constantly building relationships with every person out there (forget actual relationships … or, like, family. Nope. No time for that if you’re doing what you “should” be doing.)
  • Make sure you’re making ads for all of those social media accounts, sell, sell, sell, … but gentle sell, not spam sell.
  • Plus make sure you’ve got ads running on all the platforms (because if you’re making less than $2k a month, you’re a failure!)
  • Have you spent thousands of dollars on classes that promise you THIS is the right answer to make you a millionaire and selling millions of a books a day? (Come on, you didn’t think you actually had time to do things, like, write, did you? And wave to your family through your office doors… if you still have one.)

On and on it goes, and you know what? I’m going to stop, because it’s stressing me out.

And it’s driving me nuts. All of it. And I know it’s driving lots of other authors nuts too.

You want to know the real secret?

There is NO secret.

Nope. Sad, isn’t it? Yep, I was looking for it too… along with possibly the drafting or editing fairies that help get books done when things aren’t going well. But, they don’t exist any more than the perfect formula to sell all those books – no matter how much that workshop costs. Game the system? Sure, you can follow those examples, buy up case loads of your own book and “buy” your way onto the lists. You CAN do a lot of things. But what works for Lizzy P. Author may not work the same for you.

You’re not her.

You’re YOU.

And yes, let me pause and insert here that not all advice is bad advice. Do I take workshops, try to keep learning, try to keep improving in both my writing craft and the business side of my career? Absolutely. Is there lots of great advice and information out there? Yep. That too. Are there many things we can do to tweak our marketing / get better at the business / get better at our craft? Yes, indeed, and there are a few specific ones on my list all the time.

My objection comes when all that advice, when all the things you “should do” stretch into the bars of a cage. When you’re so hemmed in by all those “shoulds” that you feel like you can’t breathe, let alone write the next word, the next sentence, or hardest of all, the next book.

I’ve been there. I fall into that cage every so often. Was there yesterday, as a matter a fact, when all my emails seemed to be screaming at me to “just do this to double your sales” or “just keep up this to guarantee search engine results” and so on. These were legit blogs I follow too, because I usually appreciate their advice. It got me so depressed, I did the bare minimum of words, but tried nothing else, too exhausted by all the “shoulds” that I had to focus on the “could.”

That’s what I usually come back to. What could or CAN I do? What do I WANT to do? And what do I really NEED?

Yesterday, I needed to recharge so I don’t get burned out. I needed to remember there is more to my life than writing.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sometimes we get terrific advice, but we need to be wise enough to recognize when it isn’t the right advice for us. Perhaps it won’t ever be right, perhaps it just isn’t right because of where we are financially / personally / emotionally / whatever. But it’s up to you to stand up for YOU. To recognize that feeling when your chest tightens, your shoulders tense, and the whole world is demanding more and more, or something is telling you that it just isn’t right for you… just tell that advice “no.” (You’re welcome to use stronger language and swears. Swears are fun. 🙂 I’m just trying to be polite.) 😉

Sometimes maybe you’ll need to sit with that feeling for a little while, think about where that resistance to the advice or next “should” is coming from. Maybe it’s child-you deep inside that’s stubbornly insisting “No, I don’t wanna!” And sometimes you need to tell child-you inside that it’s okay, we can still do scary things that will just make us stronger. So sometimes you try some of those things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

But you pick and choose which of those things you try. Ignore the others. Cut down on the blogs and other input you take in that feeds into that stress and fills your head with Shoulds. Connect with people in your field and outside of it, people who care about you, that can help pull you back from the madness of trying to do all the things all the time. You don’t let the Should-Army flatten you down and stop you from doing what you need to do.

And if you’re a writer, you need to write.

You’ll do that too at your own pace, in your own way. You’ll find ways to reclaim and hold tight to the joy of pure creation that is the work, that is writing, because there are days when it won’t feel that way. But you, you will write.

Because you are a writer. And you are free.

Back Again, Reflecting and Moving Forward

Did you know that I started this blog way back in 2010? Nope, me neither. I’ve just finished going through all of those posts weeding out things from when I was a super-clueless baby-writer…although I’ve also found some advice that I still believe (like being good to other people and author karma, along with writing strength-training) along with advice that my past self was either trying to tell me, or maybe I needed to hear now.

So…I also find that I haven’t been any more regular with my posts than I am now. Or rather, I used to be much more regular with the posts early on, but I’ve taken a tumble or two off the cliff and, for example, this is the first post I’ve done for 2019 (oops!)

I find retrospective interesting in what it tells us about where we’re been, and in many ways, where we’re headed too, sometimes for better AND worse. What’s changed for me since 2010?

  • I now have two children, both lovely daughters who are creative and wonderful (except when they’re bickering, because ugh!)
  • I’ve published FOUR books. Yes, I can hardly believe that either. Back in 2010, Indie Publishing definitely wasn’t on my radar, and even when it finally got there, I always wanted to go traditional first, then maybe indie to become hybrid (and not just because going hybrid sounds a bit like some kind of super-cool werewolf-shifter.) 😉
  • Back in 2010 I’d only been part of RWA (Romance Writers’ of America) for two years, and just attended my first Conference. Since then, I’ve attended almost one a year since 2014, and every second year before that. I’ve become part of now only an RWA chapter, but I’m currently chapter president, which is something I’d never have dreamed of back then, especially the benefit of all the connections and friends I’ve since made in the industry.
  • I’ve had the opportunity in recent years to begin to pay back some of that author karma I talked about way-back-when. I’m still a little fish, but what I didn’t realize back then is that little fish can still make waves, still make a difference, and that’s what I try to do.

What hasn’t changed all that much?

  • I still believe in magic, and I want to believe that there’s more in the world than meets the eye. I’ve expanded my personal definition of magic though, as I also try to see – and appreciate – the magic in the everyday world that all too often dismissed or forgetten.
  • I am still probably more stubborn than is actually healthy for me. When I was looking up tags for this article, perseverance is one of my most used tags, and for good reason. I wrote my stories and this blog even when no one was reading (it is entirely likely that no one is reading this one either, but let’s just keep that between you and me, hmm?) Perseverance and tenacity have kept me going when I have done revision after revision. When I almost completely rewrote my first book in edit to get it into the kind of shape I could put out there for public consumption.
  • Conference is still one of my favorite events of the year, it still exhausts me, but I still try to make the most out of every day, every experience, no matter what. This means that even when things go wrong (as things inevitably try to do) I still keep the mindset to enjoy myself, to not let myself get down. I’d love to say I can maintain this same mindset in all areas of my life, but that’s not so easy. Which leads to the next point…
  • I am still a work in progress. And that’s okay. I’m not perfect, I never will be, but that won’t hold me back from continuing to grow and improve (or at least, I try to make sure it doesn’t.) 🙂
  • I will still promise to try to blog regularly…and there is every likelihood I will try but possibly fail. 😉

Now this comes to you, since it’s rude if I do all the talking. If you look back – to 2010, further or perhaps closer in your past – how have you grown, changed and evolved? Are you reading? If you are, come on, keep me company and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Visiting over at the Raisin Chronicles

Hey all! So, yeah, I know…no post for such a long time. In my defense, 2017 was a bit of a rough year, and then the end of the year was spent revising book two, Must Love Famine. But, I have good news: 

I’m interviewed by the lovely Jeanne Estridge over at the Raisin Chronicles today, and there’s a sneak peek of the brand new cover for Must Love Famine, not even available on my website yet!! So please, head on over and visit. It’s a fun interview. 🙂 

 

https://raisinchronicles.blogspot.ca/2018/01/fiction-friday-interview-with-shelly.html

My Story of Perseverance: 21 Years and 220 Submissions

Hi everyone! Today I have a special post as part of the Writers Persevere event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.

To help them celebrate this release, many of us are posting stories about some of the obstacles we’ve overcome as writers. As we all know, this isn’t an easy path. Writing is hard and as writers we tend to struggle with doubt. Sometimes too, we don’t always get the support we need to follow our passion, or we have added challenges that make writing more difficult. Because people are sharing their stories this week about how they worked through these challenges to keep writing, I wanted to post about it too.

***

As of October 11, 2017, I was finally able to say I was a published author. And while newly published, “new author” isn’t a title that fits. I wrote my first novel when I was in junior high, around the age of fourteen. I had to look up how many words even qualified as a novel at the time, and mine was 55k. I subsequently rewrote that novel many times, and my very first recorded submission was in October of 1996. I *might* have been convinced that I’d be one of the youngest successful authors in history. 😉

I’ll do the math for both of us, since I confess I never have. That’s twenty-one years between my first submission and actual publication. It’s more than half of  my life. It’s also around thirteen completed manuscripts, and since 2004, it’s 220 submissions that include queries and requested submissions. In that time, I’ve also gotten married, built my dream house, and had two children.

When I began writing, it was because I loved the idea of story. I loved the scratch of my pen across paper, the feel of the words, the very act of creation. Sometimes in my years of writing and submitting I’ve misplaced that initial love. Sometimes I’ve doubted myself, doubted the possibility of my dream. And in the end, my dream of becoming a published author didn’t come about exactly how I’d imagined. I chose to independently publish when I realized I was letting other people determine my self-worth and the value of my writing, and when I decided that while I still want to be a hybrid author (both traditionally and independently published), perhaps I’d start with indy.

Not that this meant I just threw my work out there – I hired a developmental editor and went through three rounds of editing, rewriting almost three-quarters of the manuscript in the process, because I was determined to put the best work out there possible. I also hired a talented cover artist to make sure my book looked at least as good or better than some traditionally published books. This was neither cheap nor easy, but this was fulfilling my dream: it wasn’t supposed to be.

Over the years, I’ve also used different coping methods to continue to persevere. I’ve made a list of reasons why I can’t just quit which is personal to me, and contains the fact that I don’t want to disappoint either myself–or my children. I’ve made connections with other writers so I don’t feel so alone in this process, because the “process” is so much more than just the journey to publication. I’ve improved my craft, taken workshops, entered contests, found an amazing critique partner, and joined a group of incredible writers who kept me going even on the days I wanted to quit. And I’ve worked hard to remember we all rise together, so that when I feel professional jealousy over someone else’s success, I don’t let that jealousy cause rancor or resentment, but try to turn it into something more positive.

So why am I sharing this story with you today? To gloat? Far from it. I’m writing this today for you, the newbie author, still glorying in the power of words, but also for you, the not-so-new author, still writing, still struggling to fight on, to persevere. And I’m writing to say that I believe in you. I know YOU will find your success story, too. I’ve found one of mine, and I continue to persevere, continue to move toward new goals, and I know that you can, too. I’ve been there. I know it can hurt, I know it can seem so much easier to give up. But you know what? You’re not going to. Because you are a writer. You have a story to tell, and someone out there needs that story. So keep writing. Keep believing. Borrow some faith, ask for some support (I love comments and mail – email or snail-mail!) and I am more than happy to cheer you on. Because you’ve got this. I know you do.

***

Do you have a story to share, or some advice for others? You can join Becca and Angela at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell them about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, write a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

There’s a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost at Writers Helping Writers.

I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

The giveaway is only from October 25-27th, so enter asap. And don’t forget to share this using the #writerspersevere hashtag so more prizes will be awarded!

Save

Book Giveaway!

It’s pretty exciting, thinking of the book actually getting into the hands of readers, which really, is where books belong. As writers we get to create them, but after that, they belong out in the world. I hope you enjoy Must Love Plague.

And hey! I *might* have forgotten that I have a Goodreads giveaway going on. You could win a signed, print copy of Must Love Plague! Why not enter today?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Must Love Plague by Shelly Chalmers

Must Love Plague

by Shelly Chalmers

Giveaway ends October 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Release Day: Coping, Celebrating, & Cheering

Tomorrow my first book will officially have it’s book birthday, and go out into the big old world. It’s a tremendously exciting moment, one I’ve worked toward for years, really since I wrote my first novel back in junior high (yes, really, and no, I don’t think I’ll mention just how long ago that was.) 😉 And while I, like you, might be releasing that first book and there are so many wonderful things about that moment, let’s admit: it can also be pretty darned terrifying, and I don’t think it’s just me feeling that way. 

I *could* go over all the ways it’s terrifying, but that wouldn’t be very nice, would it? Especially if either of us suggest something the other hadn’t thought of yet. 😉 Instead, I wanted to share what I’m doing to celebrate and bring some of the love back to my own book release in hopes that maybe some of those things will work for you, too. 

1) Choice of release date. The first thing I did was plan my book release on my youngest daughter’s birthday, or for another large, personal event. I know, many people (including my husband) have said it was crazy to do so, but I actually did it very intentionally. I have a lot of wonderful and wise friends who have released their books before mine, and I’ve heard about the stress and less-than-wonderful feelings that can sometimes accompany a book release, so I wondered how I might try to avoid some of that. My solution was to try and be busy. It’s my daughter’s second birthday: I HAVE to help her celebrate. I don’t have to stress endlessly about what’s happening (or not happening) to my book. 🙂 I also chose to release my book on a Wednesday, rather than the Tuesday when most traditional houses release their books. And selected October, when I hoped most of my target audience might be have started to settle into routine and be ready for a fun read. 

2) Return the love. Most people look forward to signing their books. For me, I chose to have the proof copy of my first book signed by all the people who have loved and supported me along the journey to first publication. Granted, this page is missing some significant signatures, like my wonderful CP who is miles away, and the amazing Dreamweavers, my group of 2014 Golden Heart sisters. But when I look at those signatures, it reminds me of my family who have believed in me, who have helped me along the way, and it brings some of that love back to a physical copy of my book. It reminds me that my book is made of more than just words and the hard work that went into it – that love is there too. 

3) Remember to Celebrate. Yes, there are a thousand-and-one things I could (and perhaps should) do to promote my work, boos tit out in the world. But amidst that, I also want to take the time to celebrate what I have accomplished with this milestone. See the comment above about planning it on my daughter’s birthday? I’d hoped this would give me further reason to go out and celebrate that day. My daughter and I will both be celebrating a special birthday, and at the very least, I think that deserves a nice lunch out together, don’t you? I think sometimes we’re always looking so far ahead at what we need to do, what we want to accomplish, it’s easy to forget the moment we’re in, to cherish and celebrate that moment. And on release day, after all that it takes to get to that moment, isn’t it worth celebrating it too? I think so. 

4) Borrow some confidence. Feeling kind of shaky about the reception your book will find out in the big ol’ world? Me, too. The world is a big, wonderful place, and there are lots of terrific differences between all of us which contribute to making that world a more interesting place, which means not everyone will love my work, not everyone is my ideal reader, and that’s okay. So on the days when I’m feeling most nervous, my confidence shaken, those are the days to cling to the words of people who ARE excited about your work, who do want to see more. Because inside, I’m pretty sure you (like I) know you’ve got a lot to offer and that this is just the beginning. But when it’s hard to see past the fear, borrow some of that confidence others have in you until your own makes a roaring come-back. 🙂 

5) Write the next book. Yes, I want to celebrate this book heading out into the world. But you know what will help this book and me? Giving that book some siblings to keep it company out there! So, it’s time to work on not just pushing this one book, but also building my career – and that means more than one book! Alas, while I wish I could work on so many different projects at once (and of course, get them all done faster), I have to content myself right now with writing one book at human-speed for now. Which is what I’m doing. And you know what? I’m even more excited about this next book in the series than I was about the first, which makes me more excited to get book one out into the world. After all, readers should find that one first, right? 

So that’s what I’m going to be doing and reminding myself of tomorrow on release day. What about you? Any tips or advice? Need a bit of confidence / a cheer to keep you going? Comment below, and I’m happy to give you one. 🙂 

Otherwise, thanks for stopping by and reading. And remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough. 

On the Power of Hope and Dreams for Writers

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that in my first book, the acknowledgements section is pretty long. 😉 I also dedicate my book to all the dreamers out there. And the reason for both is very much the same: I was, and am, a dreamer. And without the support of all those people I list in the acknowledgements – plus probably many more I’ve neglected to mention – I wouldn’t have had the power of hope to keep fueling my dreams. 

I do believe that dreams and hope are a writer’s fuel. Yes, we need concrete goals too – we can’t just get away with pretending everything is a lollipop dream where someday things will be perfect (spoiler alert: that’s not reality.) We have hope that we will accomplish our dreams, and sometimes, that’s what carries us. It’s the space between hope and dreams where the hardwork comes in, where we have to set goals, solidify our intention, and get work done. Yet, without hopes and dreams, I wonder at our ability to create whatsoever.

If you think about it, that first story idea you get, heck, the very idea of writing whatsoever, is something of a dream. Perhaps it came to us literally while we slept – or at least the initial concepts of it. Perhaps it’s only the initial stages of the idea of writing a story or an entire novel. We have to be able to conceptualize it first, to have some faraway plateau we’re reaching and striving for – and those are our dreams. They are the seeds of all we will create, and perhaps indeed, all that we will become. 

But let’s face it: it’s a lot easier to just dream of writing a book than actually getting the work done. Even if we do write the book, or perhaps many books, we face rejection, critique, and doubt. Then say we actually get published. Sorry say, but those challenges that hurt before continue to dog us. Sometimes, we will want to give up. Some might even say it would be more sane to give up (because what we do? It’s perhaps not entirely sane in the first place.) 😉 

And that’s where hope comes in.

Hope fuels us, keeps us striving for those dreams, even if (or when) they might be completely ridiculous. Hope makes us certain that somehow, we will get there. Or if not certain, at least still willing to fight. 

And when the really dark times come, that’s when our support network comes in. They lend us their hope. They help shoulder our dreams, and trudge forward, perhaps dragging us along in their wake, even when we’re certain we can’t take another step. They keep pushing, tugging, hauling us forward until we get another glimpse at our dream, another refuel of our hope. That might take the form of a great review or an enthusiastic request. Whatever the case, onward we go again. Still hoping, still dreaming, still creating. 

So if you’re out there, and you’re writing or working toward your dream, whatever it is, remember to fuel your dreams with hope. Remember to borrow some when you’re running short, and whatever the case, to keep moving forward. I’ve dedicated my book to all the dreamers out there with the certainty that if you don’t give up, if you cling to your hope and your dreams, as shifting and changeable as they may, that you will achieve your goals and dreams too. Dream big. Hope furiously. Make your own happy ending. I know you can do it.

Now to you: what do you think? Are dreams and hope linked? If so, how are they linked for you? 

Thanks for reading! Have a great week, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look for it. 

Spreading disease isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

Piper Bane wants nothing to do with her pesky Pestilence bloodline and would give anything to be a Normal. In fact, she put Beckwell–land of the paranormal and home of the weird–in her rear-view ten years ago, and hasn’t been back since. Until an invitation to her best friend’s wedding coaxes her back home and reminds her what it means to continue the legacy of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. She receives a typical Beckwell welcome the second she reaches the city limits where she’s stalked by a toad and wraps her car around a tree. And is rescued by the one person she most wants to avoid: Daniel Quilan. Town doctor, genuine nice guy, and her ex-fiancé.

 

 

Ten years hasn’t been long enough for Daniel Quilan to forget the only woman he’s ever loved. His responsibilities as Beckwell’s only doctor keeps his mind off the hole Piper Bane left in his chest when she broke his heart and skipped town all those years ago. His not-so-ordinary patients and his trouble-making twin brother keep Daniel occupied twenty-four-seven, not to mention magic going haywire throughout town. But his plan to stay busy as the town’s golden boy is shattered when his latest patient turns out to be Piper. How good she looks isn’t his concern. How she still makes fire shoot through his veins isn’t his focus. But the fact that someone wants to end the world and will use Piper to do so……that makes her impossible to ignore.


Buy links: 

Amazon http://hyperurl.co/gz32q5  

Apple http://hyperurl.co/t8ikfb 

Barnes & Noble http://hyperurl.co/9oletm 

Chapters http://hyperurl.co/221yzq 

Kobo http://hyperurl.co/q0dfix 

 

Google http://hyperurl.co/xdwkfg




A Dream of a Dream

I can’t really remember how long I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author. At least since junior high when I wrote my first novel which was…well, let’s just say “awhile” ago so I don’t look too old. 😉

But as I prepare to actually launch my first book into the world in…hmm, just under a month today, actually, I’ve thought a lot about what it means achieve that dream. Or if all I’d ever really had was a dream of a dream.

I’ve never been short on imagination, which is probably part of what led me to writing in the first place. So I think I must have had a vision or dream of what it meant to be published. Lots of it was probably deluded, which fortunately isn’t uncommon among new writers. 😉 But as I came to better understand the industry–and that those dreams of huge advance checks, accolades, early success, etc were all fairly unlikely, I started to develop a different vision.

I pictured working with an editor, how I’d always turn in my book on schedule, be easy to work with while still knowing when it was worth disagreeing. I probably wouldn’t be a top author, especially not early on, but I’d slowly keep building my readership and moving up at one publishing house, and then hopefully branch out to others, like self-publishing and becoming a hybrid-author, aided by the business-savvy guidance of my agent.

Confession: I think I felt I needed someone else’s approval before I was able to make my dream a reality. The same kind of approval you get in school, when you get good grades and your parent-teacher nights are mostly them saying nice things about you. And I think I kind of expected / wanted that. That approval would become a kind of validation that yes, my writing was good, someone wanted it–and someone other than friends or people who were otherwise personally associated with me. 😉

Yet, that’s not what happened. I’ve had different marks of validation: I was fortunate enough to final in RWA’s the Golden Heart® Contest. I’d had interest and enthusiasm from agents and editors. But in the end, no sales.  I found I’d reached a point of frustration where it didn’t seem to matter what I did, it was out of my hands. But worse, I was letting outside forces determine the worth of my writing…and my worth.

Fortunately, traditional publishing isn’t the only way to get published these days. And many other authors–excellent writers and braver than me–have turned to independent publishing years before I did, which allowed me to ask them for advice and guidance before diving in myself. All of which allowed me to create a different version of my dream.

Must Love Plague: Sisters of the Apocalypse, Book 1 Available today at all retailers. Amazon Apple  Barnes & Noble  Kobo   Google  Chapters

I still worked with an editor, but it was someone I selected and hired. I still turned in my book on time, but I was mostly turning it in to myself, since I now determined the entire schedule. I didn’t have to wait to see what the art department came up with for my cover, since I decided which artist to hire and we worked together to create a cover I adore.  I formatted my books and put them up for sale. And as of last week, I formatted the print version, and for the first time got excited about my book being in readers’ hands. And holding my printed and bound book in MY hands.

I still want to pursue a traditional publishing path as well, since I still want to be a hybrid author (and not just because it sounds like something cool–half-traditional, half-indy – almost a werewolf!) 😉 I’ve just realized that maybe what I had before was a dream of a dream, with all the naive and indefinite fuzziness that requires. But now I’m moving toward something much more tangible. I’m walking that path instead of just picturing it. And you know what? The sky is clear, the fog is clearing, and I’m feeling pretty good.

Have you ever had that? A dream of a dream that turned out so much differently in reality? I love to read comments. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by to read. And remember: if we look hard enough, there’s always magic in the world.

Must Love Plague: Cover Reveal and Pre-order up Today!

I have news…as of today, you can officially pre-order my first book, Must Love Plague. Even better, it’ll cost you less if you pre-order before the official release date, October 11, 2017. Cue wild Kermit the frog flailing. See? That whole count-down thing on my website wasn’t just there to look pretty (or to stress me out…though it’s been doing plenty of that, too.) 😉

Because I love you best, you also get the first look at the beautiful cover, designed by Christa Holland of Paper and Sage Designs. I’m both so excited and terribly nervous about releasing this particular baby out into the world – and I’m hard at work on book two, Must Love Famine.

So come and take a chance: visit the town of Beckwell, where myth holds a grain of truth, magic is real…and the four horsewomen of the apocalypse are back in town.

Must Love Plague: Sisters of the Apocalypse, Book 1

Blurb:

Spreading disease isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Piper Bane wants nothing to do with her pesky Pestilence bloodline and would give anything to be a Normal. In fact, she put Beckwell–land of the paranormal and home of the weird–in her rear-view ten years ago, and hasn’t been back since. Until an invitation to her best friend’s wedding coaxes her back home and reminds her what it means to continue the legacy of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. She receives a typical Beckwell welcome the second she reaches the city limits where she’s stalked by a toad and wraps her car around a tree. And is rescued by the one person she most wants to avoid: Daniel Quilan. Town doctor, genuine nice guy, and her ex-fiancé.

Ten years hasn’t been long enough for Daniel Quilan to forget the only woman he’s ever loved. His responsibilities as Beckwell’s only doctor keeps his mind off the hole Piper Bane left in his chest when she broke his heart and skipped town all those years ago. His not-so-ordinary patients and his trouble-making twin brother keep Daniel occupied twenty-four-seven, not to mention magic going haywire throughout town. But his plan to stay busy as the town’s golden boy is shattered when his latest patient turns out to be Piper. How good she looks isn’t his concern. How she still makes fire shoot through his veins isn’t his focus. But the fact that someone wants to end the world and will use Piper to do so……that makes her impossible to ignore.

Available through:

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Apple  Google   Kobo   Chapters Indigo

Thanks so much for sharing my news with me, and if you’d like to share, I’d be ever so grateful. Otherwise, thanks for stopping by, and remember: if you look hard enough, there’s always magic in the world.

Failure, Shame, and Faith

I’ve been thinking quite a bit failure. And shame. And the confidence to have the faith that your path is the right one for you.

Why do we sometimes feel ashamed of our accomplishments (or perhaps lack thereof) and not want to share them? This makes me sad, for anyone feeling that way, and frankly for myself too, since I have felt (and do feel) that way.

First, I would never, ever want anyone to feel they somehow weren’t measuring up – or indeed, that they had to in the first place. Because that’s often how I feel. And I confess I probably wouldn’t always recap my weeks accomplishments to my writers’ group if I wasn’t the one collecting said recaps. 😉

Second, why do we do that to ourselves? Measure ourselves against one another – even when we KNOW our journey is our own, our path isn’t the same as anyone else’s, etc, etc. And I say the etc, etc, because sometimes that’s how I hear the words too. Yes, I might know-but it doesn’t mean I don’t still compare myself anyway, despite my best intentions and efforts not to.

And finally, what do failure and shame mean, and are they necessarily a bad thing? Sure, I might not have gotten as many words as someone else. Maybe it was a crappy week. Maybe it’s been a crappy month. Maybe it’s a crappy book. But where is the line? Where does a failure become something we learn from and move forward, whereas other things / events shame us, holding us back? Why is it some failures / mistakes are easy to classify as “a learning experience” while others seem more like signs we’re doing the wrong thing / on the wrong path / making yet another mistake?

The short answer is that I don’t know. Although I suspect it has to do with how some so-called “truths” are easier to accept or buy-into because they somehow fit some inner narrative we’ve created, whether it’s a false narrative or not. Therefore, it’s easier for me to be ashamed of the fact that I’ve written a heck of a lot of books (10 at last count, I think) and I’m still un-agented and unpublished. Since I’m a Gemini, I simultaneously get to think of some of those books as the learning experiences (aka failures) they were.

It’s where one draws the line that gets me. Is it just time that helps me shift some experiences and creations into that “learning experience” category whereas others –rightly or wrongly–remain in the “still worth trying or I’m a failure if I give this up” category? I’m not sure. But I’m always trying to move forward and understand. And hopefully understanding failure doesn’t have to mean shame. Nor, I hope, does it have to mean comparison.

I am me. I’m doing the best that I can. Sometimes that’s better, sometimes that’s worse, but I’m still me.

What do you think?

Wishing you a great week of writing, and remembering (and valuing) who and what you are, no matter who or what anyone else is. 🙂