7.28.2015

Happy Tuesday!!!!!! 

So today I'm revealing my cover of Every Wrong Reason. This is my next venture in adult contemporary romance!!!!!

And I'm so nervous I could puke so very excited!!!!!!!! :) 

For real. There is something so special about writing these adult romances. They get to go a little bit deeper. They get to highlight real tragedies and reflect real life. They are different for me and I love that. 

Of course, I seem to pour a little more of myself into them. Which makes them deeply personal. Which, of course, brings on the pukey feelings. 

:)

Truly though, I cannot wait to give you this book. It's a long the same lines as Five Stages, in that it's emotional and raw, filled with real feelings. 

But it's different too. It won't be quite so gutting. It won't rip you to complete shreds or force you to sob within the first few pages. 

At least I don't think so anyway... 

Ahem. 

Anyway, without further ado... Here is Every Wrong Reason!!! And after that, I've left you some sneak-peek teasers!!!!! 


***Special Pre-Order price of 2.99***
First comes love.

Then comes marriage.

Then comes the... really nasty divorce.

Kate Carter thought she married her soul mate. She thought she had her happily ever after. But seven years into Kate's marriage, she realizes that her husband Nick is not what she wanted. He's selfish, he's oblivious and he doesn't love her anymore.

Maybe she doesn't love him anymore either.

Divorce is the only option if either of them wants to find happiness.

Kate and Nick thought they knew what they wanted, but neither is prepared for the heartache that separating will bring them. The journey they embark on is not the freedom they wished for, but a painful look at the people they've become.

At the end of it, Kate has to decide if this is really the life she wants or if maybe there's a way to salvage her broken heart.


Now for some exclusive content!!!! 

Meet Kate. Our heroine. 

Kara’s heels clicked against broken sidewalk as we hurried to Garman’s, mingling with the sounds of angry traffic and city melee. The warm sun heated my exposed arms and face and I lifted my closed eyes to soak it in.
There was healing in this chaos. There was a beautiful surrender to the madness that felt cleansing and therapeutic. It wouldn’t last. I would pay for my sandwich, go back to my desk and the reality of my broken life would come crashing down on me.
But for a few seconds, I had the flirtatious smile of an attractive man in my memory and a minute of reprieve from the demands of my life. I sucked in a full breath, taking in the exhaust and grit from the city. And yet, my lungs felt full for the first time in as long as I could remember.
“It’s going to get better,” Kara said so softly I barely heard her.
I opened my eyes to keep from tripping and they immediately fell to the cracked sidewalk and patchy grass on either side. “I’m not sure it is,” I told her honestly.
She dropped her hand on my shoulder and squeezed, pulling me into a side hug. “There’s more to life than Nick, babe. I promise you. And it won’t take you long to figure it out. You just need to get the divorce finalized so you can move on.” Her laugh vibrated through her. “And Eli would be a very good place to start.”
“Maybe,” fell from my lips, but I didn’t feel any sentiment behind it. More sickness roiled through me and a cold sweat broke out on my neck. I swallowed against rising nausea and convinced myself not to throw up.
I was getting a divorce, but even the thought of another man still felt like adultery. Whatever our faults, Nick and I had always been faithful to each other. Moving on seemed impossible when I had dedicated my entire life to one man.
To the one man that had let me down and stomped on whatever remained of my happiness.
Nick and I were over, I promised myself.
I would move on eventually.
And Nick would too.
We grabbed our sandwiches, but I let Kara drop Eli’s off. I had lost any desire to communicate with other people. I practically crawled back to my classroom and sunk into my chair. My deli sandwich went uneaten, just like my one from home, because I couldn’t bring myself to feel good enough to eat.
Kara had meant to encourage me, but she’d done the opposite.
I realized that she was right. That one day I would move on.
But that I was right too. Nick would move on as well.
I knew I could find someone better for me. I knew my life would be better off without him.
I just couldn’t swallow the hard pill that his life would be better off without me too.
That he would find someone better than me.


Now meet Nick. Our hero? Our anti-hero? Our villain??? I haven't decided yet. :) 

I swept down and rubbed her ears with my two hands. Immediately the stress of the day started to melt from my shoulders and the dishes, the bills left discarded on the table waiting for me to deal with them and my looming divorce, didn’t feel so impossible anymore.
“What did you do all day?” I asked her with a soft voice. “Did you miss me?”
A deep, masculine voice came out of her, answering my question, “I doubt that. She was too busy eating my socks.”
I let out an ear-splitting scream and fell backwards on my butt. After a few seconds of blind panic, sanity returned. I recognized the voice and that it hadn’t come from the dog.
It had come from my husband. My soon to be ex-husband.
“Nick! God!” My hand landed on my chest and I pushed down, trying to slow my racing heart. “You scared the hell out of me!”
He leaned over the white-tiled island and stared at me with listless eyes. “I thought you heard me come in.”
I pressed my lips together and tried to ignore the pang of pain that hit me low in the gut. His eyes used to be his most expressive feature. They could glisten with humor or darken with lust in the span of three seconds. They were what had pulled me so deeply into him so quickly. All he had to do was look at me and I had been his.
Until now. Now they stared at me as if I were the most uninteresting thing on the planet. They didn’t light up when I walked into the room. They didn’t dance with some sarcastic thought spinning around in his sharp mind. They didn’t heat with lust or harden with frustration.
They just looked at me, shuttered and apathetic.
“I didn’t,” I snapped. My heart hadn’t found its normal beat yet and my voice sounded frustratingly breathless.
He moved around the island and held out his hand to me. I reluctantly took it and tried to be civil.
We had promised each other a peaceful divorce. This was something we both wanted. We had no reason to be anything but nice to each other.
Once I was standing, he looked me over again, but refrained from speaking his opinion. I tried to swallow back my annoyance. After living with him for seven years and hearing every little insignificant thought come out of his mouth, it bothered me that he had suddenly learned restraint.
What did he think about my outfit? Did he notice I’d lost weight? Could he see the dark bags beneath my eyes?
Did he think was losing sleep because of him?
Habits, I reminded myself. These were just familiar patterns from our marriage. I was used to being able to ask him his thoughts, which he always gave freely.
Now we acted like strangers, even though we knew each other more intimately than I knew any other person.  
“What are you doing here?” I finally asked when it didn’t seem he wanted to explain his presence.
“I didn’t think you were going to be here.”
His casual words lit a fire inside of me that I couldn’t ignore. My polite words tasted bitter and acrid in my mouth. “Teacher’s meeting was canceled tonight. Mr. Kellar had a family emergency.”
“Is everything alright?” Finally some kind of sympathy flared in his blue eyes, but it wasn’t meant for me.
My principal got his compassion, but not his wife. 

7.13.2015

My last blog was about Utopia...Which was a while ago...

Clearly I am not on the top of my game right now.

Or am I?

Because actually... I kind of am!!!

On like a personal level anyway. :)

See, here's the thing. I've been indie publishing for a little over four years. My exact anniversary date is in March, but I didn't really start selling books until August.

Anyway. Ever since I published my first book, I have been trapped in a world of chaos.

It's like, I pressed the publish button and stepped into a savage vortex of constant demand and endless deadlines.

And, if we're being honest, I love it. I love this vortex. I love the loud, pushy demands. I love the never ending deadlines that I cannot seem to meet to save my life. I love that my world is crazy and messy and a constant outpouring of myself. It's kids and a husband and good good friends and dirty dishes and mountains of laundry and errands and groceries that never seem to be enough and words... beautiful words that come from my soul and stretch me and grow me and demand even more from me.

I love it. Because I love my job.

Even if it's true chaos.

When I published Reckless Magic, I had three little kids. My baby was only a few months old and my oldest child was only four. (There was a two year old in the middle, in case you were wondering where the third one fit!) I wrote and published Endless Magic while I was pregnant with my last child. And the truth of it is that I honestly thought I was publishing for them.

This might be my dream job, but it has always been a job I thought I could do seamlessly alongside motherhood.

I imagined that I would get to do whatever I wanted with the kiddos and write in all of those spare moments that are in such large supply. I mean, there's almost too many of them. Am I right?

While the kids napped, I pictured sitting down at my computer to churn out a few thousand words. Obviously, my kids would always nap perfectly and my house would always be in order. A healthy dinner would be planned and all of the ingredients already bought. After I tucked them in at night, I would return to my computer with storehouses of energy remaining from our super fun day and churn out a few thousand more words. Those words would always come easily. I would never get writer's block or need to research. And I would never need to use those late night hours for anything else. Like sleep. Then I would wake up at the blissful hour of sunrise and start it all over again.

Can you feel the sarcasm? It should be thick enough to reach through the internet and jump out of your computer screen.

Sorry if it scared you.

:)

Obviously you know how this story goes, because you know motherhood is not like that. Not even a shadow of that.

Life is not like that. Not in any way shape or form.

Motherhood is the single most difficult thing I ever decided to take on and that's something when you consider that I also got married and am a writer.

I mean, really, am I some kind of sadist masochist???

And this job? This job is NOTHING that simple. It is endless hours. I mean the kind of hours that literally never end.

I remember this moment in time. I had just published Endless Magic and I was pregnant and exhausted. We had decided to move that summer. So I had to box up a house of five in the blistering heat while I was about to give birth to my FOURTH child. It was the seventh circle of hell pandemonium.

I was at my wits end. And so stressed I could cry at the drop of a hat. Although that could have been the hormones. Anyway, I sat down at my computer to finally get some words in after weeks of not having the time and I wanted to cry all over again. My workload was insurmountable. For that night. For that week. For the rest of my life.

I suddenly, very suddenly, realized that I didn't have a job... I had a career. Or I was trying to have one anyway.

The light bulb over my head went off and I realized my workload, this workload that felt too heavy for a mere mortal like myself, would never become less. I had work that went on forever. There was something I could always be doing. There was work enough to fill the entirety of every day for the rest of my life.

I can always be writing. Because I have enough book ideas in my head to fill my own library.

I can always be marketing. Because if I don't market for myself, nobody is going to read my books.

I can always be editing. And plotting. And networking. And Facebooking and Twittering and Instagraming and Pinteresting and Snapchatting and Tumblring and Blogging and Vlogging and the list goes on and on and on and on.

You get the picture.

Obviously there is a balance to be found. But the point is, I looked at the Star-Crossed Series, which I had just published, and had an epiphany. This was just the beginning.

Thank God for that.

Truly.

I didn't want to be a one hit wonder. I had/have/will always have more stories to tell. That's just the way I am.

But the dream "job" I wanted, wasn't a job. It was a career. A career that would take more hours and time from my life than I was yet ready to give.

That was a good day when I realized all of that.

A good day and a terrifying day.

Fast forward four years and here I am. Fifteen full-length books published. Forty novellas. Two co-authored books. And one mash-up.

That's almost three million words in 1,460 days.

That's more than 2,000 words a day.

Actually 2,000/day seems very doable now. But hindsight is 20/20 and believe me when I say those words didn't happen over consistent, well-organized days.

This wasn't something I ever fit in during nap time. I fit nap time in during my work days.

I didn't spend every day playing with my children and being the best mom I could be. My kids know that "Just a sec" is the worst phrase in the entire world. They hate it more than broccoli and sitting still.

Their mom wasn't the perfect volunteer at school. Their mom couldn't even remember picture day or to send in field trip money.

These last four years, personally speaking, have been real and utter chaos.

My husband has suffered. My kids have suffered. I have suffered.

But you know what? It's been worth it.

Zach obviously believes that or we would have walked away from this a long time ago. And my kids might not realize it yet, but I cannot wait for the day when I get to tell them to go after their dreams.

No matter how impossible.

No matter how out of reach.

And then I will tell them this story and I pray that they get it.

Dreams take work. Hard work. Blood, sweat and tears kind of work. And you work and you work and you work until you reach those dreams, then you adjust, make new dreams and keep on working.

That's the good life.

Of course, I've already tried to tell them this story, but it's ended up with weird goals for the future.

I tell them they can be anything they want to be and it's translated into them wanting to be dogs.

Dogs.

My human children want to grow up to be animals.

Animals that they are currently afraid of, mind you.

Anyway, one day we will revisit this conversation and I just so look forward to that day.

The point I'm trying to make is that I have worked every day to get to this place that I'm at. This moment in time. This very spot.

And it's not even close to the place I want to get to by the end of it. But I'm at a different place now than when I first started.

It's a major miracle relief.

I started this marathon at a full sprint, and I just now feel like I have enough momentum to slow down to a more manageable pace.

Which is a good thing, since a person can only sprint for so long.

I'm thirsty. My legs are tired. I don't want to poop my pants.

Oh, sorry. My marathon analogies took a weird turn.

For the first time in four years, I feel caught up. I don't have mountains of work waiting for me. I don't have inboxes full of messages wondering when the next book in their fave series is going to come out.

Okay, I have some of those messages. Sorry Starbright fans. :)

But the majority of my work has leveled out. It's still endless, but not immediate.

Whew.

Big breath.

Imagine me swiping the back of my hand over my super sweaty forehead.

That's where I'm at. (Also that's literally where I'm at. It's 100 degrees outside and I feel like I'm melting when I leave the house.)

I know that it's not like this for everyone. Most of my author friends have a very good balance in their lives. I respect them for that. Even though they still feel the pressure of the deadlines like I do, they didn't bury themselves with work and subsequently had to pay the consequences.

Like I did.

Three years ago, I lost all momentum from the Star-Crossed Series when I published a book that was not ready to be published. (The first edition of Starbright)

Three years ago, I buried myself alive by publishing the first book in four different series.

Two years ago- almost to the day- I published Love and Decay and was completely unprepared for the mayhem that would follow.

Today. Today, I finally feel caught up. The Star-Crossed Series is officially closed. The Siren Series is officially closed. Love and Decay is on break. And Reagan's arc is officially closed. I finally finally got to write The Five Stages of Falling in Love- a book I forced myself to wait almost two years to write after I had the initial idea. And yesterday... I finally finished updating ALL of the Love and Decay episodes that had been edited poorly. I formatted all of my books for print. And I put the Omnibuses together for Season Two and Season Three of L&D.

Like I said, BIG BREATH.

My To Do List got significantly shorter.

Please know that I am so aware I did that to myself. But man does it feel good to have all of that weight off my shoulders!

Those projects have been a constant source of anxiety and stress for so long. And now... now I don't have to worry about them anymore.

Starbright is the one exception, but I've decided to give myself a little space from it. I need to breathe a little. I need to work on new projects and think beyond the things that have been bogging me down for years.

I feel bad, because it's not really Starbright's fault. It's my fault. It's all of the other series that got to go first. It's the new projects that are demanding to be written.

It's a thousand other things. But it is not Seth and Stella. I cannot wait to write their conclusion. I cannot wait to get to the end of their journey.

But like I said, first, I get to start new things. I get to write new characters and new worlds and new beginnings. I get to write more adult contemp. I get to write Bet on Me and the continuation of Love and Decay.

I get to write things I am truly excited for because they are change... because I don't know every single detail about them yet and I'm just getting to know their complicated characters.

I get to write things that are so different than anything I've written yet.

And the writer in me thinks there is nothing like starting fresh.

It's pure.

It's terrifying.

It's beautiful.

It also means... maybe... hopefully... possibly... balance.

Every year I set major New Years goals. That's just the kind of person I am. I plan yearly goals, five year goals and ten year goals. And every New Years Day- or the week after it- I go over those goals to set new ones, tweak old ones and celebrate met ones.

Last year I set the goal of BALANCE. I need it in my life. I need it with my kids and my husband and my housework and my cooking and my eating and my friends and my family and most of all, I need it with my work.

Every day since I set that goal- or most days, because let's be honest, I'm human... and a very human human- has been baby steps towards reaching it.

Each day I try a little bit harder.

Each day I make a little more progress.

But it wasn't until I finished those major tasks that I actually felt like Balance could be within my reach.

Now, let's be real, I don't ever think I'll have this perfectly figured out. I don't ever think I'll be the Pinterest mom that has her shit together crafts in order and costumes sown before superhero day and sack lunches made with only organic foods and no red dye set out for all four children every single morning.

Okay, I'd rather die first I'll never be that mom.

I'll also never be the stay at home mom with a house perfectly in order and a garden in her back yard. My laundry might have a schedule, but it will probably sit in the basket for as long as possible. My dinners will be mostly meal-planned, but my kids will still have to eat Chinese and pizza whenever I'm close to a deadline. And my hair... my hair will forever have gray outgrowth and split ends.

And my work? My work will always be fit in the middle of those places. My blogs will be written after my kiddos are asleep and the majority of my books will be typed in eight hour spurts while my mom graciously keeps tabs on the savages. Groceries will always be second place to daily word counts. And the only plant I seem to be able to grow is a yellow flower that grows in a Styrofoam cup next to my kitchen sink. My son planted it in Sunday school and the darn thing refuses to die no matter how many times I starve it and then flood it.

It's like a metaphor for my life.

:)

So yes, I love this job. The gratefulness I have for it regularly brings me to tears. But it can be more than I can handle most days sometimes.

I'm not naive enough to think I'll never get overwhelmed again. In fact, I'm expecting it. Probably tomorrow. :) But right now it feels good to be in this place. It feels right. It feels not-panic-attacky.

This job can be controlling, but I'm finally back in the driver's seat. I'm finally the one in control.

My kids are getting a fun summer. I've gotten to watch some Netflix with my husband. And I've had some amazing times with friends.

To put it simply, I have a life outside of work now.

I'm like a normal person again.

Nice. Big. Breath.




 




6.27.2015

Hi, my name is Rachel and last week I had the most epic seven days of my life and now I've had to go back to real life and it's hard. 

It's so hard. 

The struggle is real, people!!!!! 

Let's start at the beginning. That might make it easier for you to understand how great my week was. 

First, I should say that every summer for the last three years, Zach and I have taken a trip to Nashville, TN, where I've taken part in UtopYA Con!! UtopYA is this amazing annual conference for authors and readers. I don't make it to a ton of signings, but UtopYA is always a priority!! I love it. The environment is incredible and so very inspiring. There is just nothing else like it out there. 

But this year, something extra cool happened, when my good friend Amy Bartol said, HEY! Let's go to Mumford and Sons FIRST. 

See, here's how this came about. Mumford and Sons became a band. Then they started releasing music worldwide. Then I fell irrevocably in love with them. So irrevocably in love with them that probably no band or music or musician will ever be able to unseat them. I love a lot of music, but I have never loved music like this. I had my first legit emotional connection with one of their songs. It's true. 

Hopeless Wanderer.

That song is my jam. For life. 

Anyway, two years ago, they came to Kansas City, which is only 2.5 hours away from us. Zach and I got tickets with our friends AJ and Kristen. I got so excited for the concert that I planned to leave an entire week early. I packed up the car all ready to go. I even got the sitter to come over.

When my husband, my exasperated patient husband, broke the news to me that it was the following weekend, I went into a Mumford depression that took some wine to get over. But no big deal, right? We were still going to see them! We still had tickets. We still had a hotel room. We were good to go.

Except we weren't!!! In that time, that short time between that weekend to the next, Ted, the bassist, got a freaking BRAIN TUMOR and they had to cancel the tour!!!! 

In that tiny, one week span of time, there was a BRAIN TUMOR!!!!!! 

They obviously had to cancel the show. 

And I obviously didn't get to see them. 

I was a wee bit devastated.

Then I actually slipped into a depression. That was the worst. And when they rescheduled the show months later, we couldn't go see them. I think we had dance. (Back when I was a crazy dance mom. Oh, the seventh circle of hell good old days.) 

You guys, for two years, I mourned the concert I would never get to see. I can't even tell you the hole in my heart from my missed opportunity. I've seen so many good shows in my life, but I just knew nothing would ever be as good as that Mumford show. 

But the story doesn't end there. This spring Mumford announced that they would be touring the States again. Cue my reaction. That went something like this: YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There was some cheering! Some major grinning! And maybe, possibly, potentially tears of joy.

Except... Get. This. We were already locked into UtopYA, which had a concrete date and time, which was also in Nashville. That was happening. I was in. All the way. But the thing was, Mumford and Sons were playing at Bonaroo- in Nashville- the weekend BEFORE UtopYA. Aka the weekend BEFORE I was going to be there! THEN. As if that wasn't bad enough... They were going to be in Iowa, which is right next door to Nebraska and their venue was only a few hours away from me, the weekend I was going to be at Utopya in Nashville! Do you see the problem here???

I could have literally passed them on the road to Nashville, but never heard them play. 

I had a second bout of Mumford Depression. 

And you guys. That's no fun. 

So, one night while I was whining my ass off voicing my mature frustration to some of my friends, Amy spoke up and was all, HEY RACHEL! Mumford is going to be in my state the day before UtopYA, how about you come up here first, see the concert with me and then we caravan to Nashville together. 

Amy Bartol to the rescue, everyone!!!!!! She saved me. And her mutual love for Mumford only makes me love her more!!!! Seriously. That was the best concert ever. 

Here is my drive to Michigan. I started Love and Decay, Season Four. Aren't you excited for that???         


Fun fact about me! I love to write in the car!! I call it my mobile office. I got 11,000 words written on the way up there! Woot woot!

Zach and I got to Michigan super late Monday night and checked into our hotel, then ate a super crappy meal at Buffalo Wild Wings, because it was the only place still open. We got there late because we spent the day hunting down beers along the way that we can't get in Nebraska. FYI Nebraska has a really terrible selection of beer and my husband is basically an aficionado. A beer connoisseur, if you will. 

This is us hunting for yummy and rare beers. 



We had a lot of fun in Michigan on Tuesday!! We ate horrible Mexican food and drove around the greater Flint/Clarkston area in search of good beer! And we found some!! All in all we had a pretty awesome Beer Haul. 

Tuesday night we met up with Amy for the concert!! It should be said. The world should know. That I love that woman!!!! For real. I told her during our week together, that I might tell her I love her more than I tell that to my husband. :) 

She is amazing. 

And the concert was amazing. More than Amazing. It was life-changing and epic and perfect and they played so many fabulous songs from their old albums and their new. If you ever get a chance to see them live TAKE IT. And invite me to go too.

This is Amy and me at the concert!!! 


And this is us with Zach!!! He was such a trooper! He put up with hours and hours and hours of standstill traffic and Amy and me cackling about everything we thought was funny- which is a lot of things by the way. He just loves me so much. 

Also. I love him!!! He's the best kind of man.



This is the start of the show!! There were SO many people there!! But the sound was amazing and nights in Michigan are perfect. It was like 60 degrees outside. The sky was clear. There was this lovely breeze. 

And you guys. Mumford was on stage playing ALL OF THE SONGS THAT I LOVE!!!

Except Hopeless Wanderer... which broke my heart. But I've watched their Road to Redrocks concert like a bajillion times and I knew they didn't play it for that either... so I didn't really have my hopes up. 

But still. That's my dying wish. Mumford playing Hopeless Wanderer live. That's all I ask for. 


 We were up crazy late(especially for me because I'm old.) Tuesday night. We had to drive around forever looking for a place to eat because we didn't eat before the concert. And we found this grungy little diner that was open 24 hours and served the worst best breakfast food ever.

It was the best because I was famished and I just needed sustenance before I crashed face first on my pillows.

And then I died.

Just kidding. I didn't really. But I did have to wake up the next morning and realize I had just seen Mumford live and then I had to go on living the rest of my life.

But you guys. MUMFORD!

The rest is just kind of anticlimactic at this point. :)

I'm being dramatic. I know... I'll move on.

So after driving all day Monday, then our epic late night Tuesday, we got up Wednesday morning and caravan-ed with Amy all the way to Nashville.

UtopYA Time!!!!!

The thing about Utopia(It got a name change last week) is that it's filled with the most wonderful people of all time. For real. My favorite authors are there. My favorite readers are there. Janet Wallace is there. And she is fabulous.

We hang out. We talk all things industry. We have incredible, moving, life-changing, inspiring keynotes. We go and sit on and discuss panels. We eat the best meals and drink with the best people. And it's basically like summer camp for adults only with alcohol. And the things there completely change and further your career.

If you haven't gone. You need to.

If you have gone. You need to come back and hang out with me!!!!

Here I am hanging out with some of my favorite people of all time.

This is Jamie Magee and me. I love this woman!!! When we talk on the phone it's never less than four hours. We seriously talk about everything. She has such a unique insight into what we do. And the way she writes is really inspiring to me. I got to spend four days with her and meet her adorable daughter!!! It was the best!!


Here I am again with Amy. Because we are inseparable. But Heather Lyons is in between us this time!!!! I love that woman too!! See? I just know the best people. I really do. Heather and I have been friends online, but we finally-FINALLY got to meet in real life and we found out something super cool. We're actually soul sisters. :) For real though. She is wonderful. And my life is better because I know her. I cannot wait to hang out with her again. 



There are so many other people that I forgot to get pictures with. Tammy Blackwell. Amy Evans. Janet Wallace. Regina Wamba. Michelle Miller. And her hubby Jonathon. Mindy Hayes. Jessica Surgett. Rebecca Donovan. Denise Grover Swank. Delphina Henley. Chelsea Fine. Stephanie Erickson. Amy Miles. And Rick Miles. I met Adam Kunz! Stacey Marie Brown.And the list goes on and on and on. 

I told you UtopYA has the best people! I wasn't lying. 

I met Kim Holden too!!! And she is the sweetest. I'm convinced there's not a nicer person on the planet. 

I was on a panel about serials. I talked a lot about Love and Decay and my process of how I write it. It was so fun!! Then on Saturday, there was an all day signing and you guys. I sold out of 5 Stages AND Love and Decay AND Bet on US AND I only had two copies of Reckless left!!! I took a ton of books! 

But somebody bought them all! 

I couldn't believe it!

Here I am getting ready to sign books. 




I met so many cool people. It was such a good day. 

Then Saturday night was the award show. And something so crazy happened. The Five Stages of Falling in Love won Best Contemporary Book of the year!!!!! I mean, WHAT!!!!

This is Zach and me before the awards show. I love making him take selfies with me. He does not love it. :) But like I said... he loves me. So he puts up with me. Also check out this picture... there's a photobomb within a photobomb. Lol!


Then the award happened. And you guys... I was shocked. And I'm not being humble or nice or sarcastic or anything. I was legitimately stunned. I have no idea how I got up on stage. Or what I said. Or if I said anything intelligent or coherent or relevant. I can't even remember what came out of my mouth!! It's just white fuzz in my head.
I never expected to win. Not in a million years. 

So a huge thank you to everyone that voted. And to God, and my husband and my kids and my mom and my street team and panel and my agent and my publicist and my editor and everyone else I forgot to thank on stage. (I did thank some of them. And I think I made a joke about Zach... but like I said. Major Blank Space.) 

But here's a picture of me accepting the award. So at least I know I made it up on stage!!!!  


Here's a picture of Amy and Heather too. Because they're incredible and super talented. So of course they win awards!!! 

I'm so proud to call them my friends. 



My street team was also there!! And they're not really just my street team anymore. A TON of them have gone off to become these super successful writers. I could not be more proud of them. I love them soo much and they're just making names for themselves and kicking ass. It's incredible.

Here I am with a bunch of them! This is after the awards.

Aren't they gorgeous??? From left to right, then back to front. Catarina- my amazing, patient admin, Kelly, Theresa Kay(check out her book, Broken Skies!!!), Me, Stormy Smith(GO READ Bound by Duty!!!!), Alex Tuttle(Pick up Spark of Light by Elizabeth Tuttle FAST) Lenore- the most fabulous beta reader on the planet, Caylie Marcoe(Seriously, go get Choose Us right this second!!), Carla, Regan Claire (You MUST READ Gathering Water!!!), Leigh and Kat Nichols(By now you should know that when I say go download Family Secrets, I really, truly mean it!!!)

I told you they were amazing.

Utopia was just... incredible. And I'm so blessed to have been and experienced everything and gotten to weave that into the fabric of my life. Those four days were the only way it was possible for me to move on after Mumford. I needed something equally as epic to push me forward. And I got it!!! 

After Utopia, Zach and I headed home, but made a quick overnight stop in St. Louis to celebrate, to decompress and to hunt down some more beer. 




This is our EPIC beer find. Not many people in the world have Love Childs 1-5. Thank you St. Louis!!! 

It's okay to be jealous. :)


 On the way home, I started my next adult contemp!!!! It's called Every Wrong Reason. And you guys... Whew. I'm so excited to give it to you. Cannot wait to start showing you bits and pieces of it!


Now we're back and I somehow have to figure out how to live normal life again.

It's hard.

I just want to stay in my Utopia bubble forever!!! But I have kids. And other responsibilities. And well, mostly kids.

And I love them too. :)

Here's my award, up close and personal!!! Isn't she pretty?


And here I am practicing my closed mouth smile. All of my friends have really good closed mouth smiles. And I look like a huge goober when I cheese it up. This is my more professional look.

I'm pretty sure I still look like a huge goober...


 And here are the REAL stars of the show!! My book haul!! Zach came back with epic beers. I brought back the books. The precious-es.

So pretty.


And here are my Rebel girls' books. I told you they were amazing!! I'm so proud of them and all of their hard work. These books are just proof of how special they are. Keep it up ladies!! I want a stack twice this big next year!


And that's it. That is my very cool seven days of insanity. But in the best way possible.

It's going to be really hard to top this year.

But I cannot wait to try!!!!

I even have my table already. Do you have yours?? Come hang out with me next year!!! I'll sign books and we'll take selfies. I know you can't wait! :)

6.25.2015

So..... THE HEART IS FINALLY LIVE!!!!!

And yes, I had to scream that at you!!

Aren't you excited??

Probably not as excited as me... but you have to at least be a little bit excited, yeah? :)

For real, publishing this book has taken an epic weight off my shoulders. It was so late. So very very very late.

I realized today that it took me two and a half years to publish the three books in this series. That is obnoxious slow...

Of course, I had a million other things going on, ahem Love and Decay other stuff going on and I wasn't just working on this story line, but still! That's a long time to wait and you all have no idea how thankful I am that you stuck with me to the end of this journey.

I keep having other authors tell me how amazing you all are. And it's so true. I have been so stressed about finishing this book and getting it out for you all and I keep telling my writer friends that my readers must HATE ME!!!! But every author I've talked to about this has returned with, but you're readers are seriously amazing. They are so understanding!

And it's true!!! Even my publicist was blown away with how nicely and patiently you waited for me.

So I have to say again and again and again. Thank you for waiting for this one with me. Thank you for loving Ivy and Ryder enough to want more of their story. And thank you for reading, buying and finishing the Siren Series.

You are the best readers in the world. It's true. This is a fact!!!! Even other authors recognize this! :)

So I just wanted to talk a little bit about the series and how much it means to me.

This was one of those plot lines that I have no idea where it came from. Just one day it was in my head and I couldn't shake it. Sometimes I can blame dreams or music or TV or conversations or or my husband (You have him to thank for LandD) or whatever, but I swear this one was divinely implanted because I can't think of any origin for it.

I didn't even know I wanted to write a mythology story until this idea. How weird is that???

Mythology is one of the genres I LOVE to read. But because I never read in the genres that I write in, I knew, if I took on this series, that I would be giving up mythology for a very long time.

That was a lot harder for me than you might think.

But as far as stories go and series that I've finished, this one was so so so worth the sacrifice. I am just so proud of this trilogy and how it came together and the story that I told.

I won't say that I lot. Or I try not to. Usually I'm too insecure to sing my own praises. But, like Love and Decay, I didn't know if I would be able to accomplish what I set out to do.

Honestly, I thought I was doomed to fail. Ivy's story felt too big. The mythological world I wanted to build felt too impossible. The real life issues I wanted to interweave throughout the three books felt daunting and bigger than me and my imagination.

I really thought that I would be forced to give up somewhere around the middle of book two.

Which would have been really sad...

This is one of the reasons I am thankful the series took me so long to write. If I would have tried to finish this series one right after the other, I wouldn't have done it justice.

I really would have failed.

This series took me growing as a writer, growing as a person, growing as an existential being that had to find its place in the vastness of the universe before I could be mature enough and skilled enough to put these words to paper.

I really believe that.

And when I say I took a journey with these books. I mean it. Really, truly, honestly, genuinely mean it.

The sex trafficking industry is something that is very close to my heart. I really think it is the most evil thing in our world. And the more attention we can bring to the realities of sex trafficking, sex slaves, prostitution, child pornography and everything else related the better.

It happens everywhere. In every city, in every state, in every country around the world.

That tag line, "Sex Sells" has never been more poignant or more devastating.

Before I was a writer or a mom or a wife, I spent some time traveling the world. I lived in Europe for six months and three of those months were spent in Romania where I saw up close and personal what prostitution does to women and their children. My team and I worked in orphanages that were packed with infants abandoned by their moms who were forced to solicit their bodies to survive. HIV in that country is the fastest growing disease and it's one of the countries with the highest and fastest growing infection rate. Then a few months later I was in Sri Lanka where I worked with missionaries from India and Nepal actively rescuing women from the sex trade.

I cannot explain to you the heartbreaking stories I heard or how young some of these women are who are sold into sex slavery. They aren't women at all. They're children.

Some of those children don't even know a different life. They were born directly into the it. Can you imagine? Can you imagine you're own children having to face that life or live in that kind of filth and degradation?

I cannot. It breaks my heart like nothing else.

Ivy's story was a fictional look at the sex trafficking world and how dangerous and sick it is. But Ivy's story was only fiction and cannot capture the real pain and anguish that these women and children face on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis.

I get selfishly upset when people threaten to take away minor freedoms in my life. I get frustrated when my kids don't give me the ten minutes of peace and quiet I need to get one thing done.

But these people have no freedom. They have no liberty or dignity or hope. They have been stripped of their value and left for sadistic men to use them against their will.

I am not okay with that. It makes me angry like nothing else.

So as you read this story, as you take this journey, please don't just think about Ivy and Ryder. Please don't just walk away with a satisfied feeling of a completed trilogy. Please please please take the time to think about those actually affected by this evil, those that live in fear and hopelessness and despair.

Please think about them, pray for them and do what you can for them.

That might sound like a lot to ask, but there are lots of places working on the victims' behalf and it's easier than you think to support them.

I know a fabulous group of women that live and work in India. They help to rescue women from prostitution by giving them a real job to support themselves and their families. The company's name is Sari Bari. The women take the beautiful saris from India and turn them into gorgeous quilts and accessories. Seriously, this is such an amazing cause and if you found something you liked, you would be directly contributing to women who were rescued from the sex industry. You would be giving them food and shelter. You would be giving them hope. You would be giving them a reason to keep doing what they're doing and not turn back to a life of prostitution.

They also make fantastic gifts!!!

Here is the link: Sari Bari

Please take the time to check them out.

Plus, how gorgeous are those quilts????

Thank you so very much for sticking with me through this series. Thank you for falling in love with Ivy and with Ryder, for cheering on their freedom and for hating Nix as much as I do.

Thank you for reading and for sharing and for downloading your copies or buying your print books.

You guys make it possible to live out my dream job. For as many words as I write a day, there are not enough to share with you how grateful I am.

Thank you.

If you haven't started the Siren Series yet, The Rush is FREE!!!!! And now that the series is completely finished, you won't have to wait for any more books to come out!!!! Here are the links to all of the books!

The Rush (Book 1)
For Amazon
For Barnes and Noble
For iBooks



The Fall (Book 2)
For Amazon
For Barnes and Noble
For iBooks

The Heart (Book 3)
It's not live on iBooks just yet. But it will be soon!!! 


6.01.2015

I can't believe it's over!!!

Love and Decay. From Reagan's Perspective. Is done.

It's the end of an era.

Or at least it feels that way to me.

Maybe I'm the only one with snot running down her face and a constant stream of excessive emotional tears that feels this way, but writing that last episode was really difficult for me.

Love and Decay has been a journey for me. A journey to being a better writer. A journey to learning to live with massive panic attacks... constantly. A journey in meeting deadlines. A journey to pushing out good content with every page I write. (Or trying to.) And a journey into a genre I never expected to write.

I wrote three seasons over two years. My fingers are tired.

My brain is tired.

My adrenaline is very tired.

All three seasons put together make up something like over 800,000 words. Since one of my full-length books is only 100k words... that's a LOT of books in two years. Plus, the other books that I've published along the way! I need a nap... :)

I just attended this amazing writer's retreat with some of my closest friends. I have never laughed so hard in my life.

This job can be so lonely. It's such a narcissistic profession because it's all about the author. We want to share when we get amazing reviews that exclaim how incredible we are. Then we want to wallow in self-pity when we get bad reviews because the world is crumbling and we're useless and can't put two interesting sentences together and we might as well just give up on everything. Then we are consumed with our stories and pushing the plot and the next great thing we're going to write. Then we're obsessed with character development and twists and cliffhangers and really ourselves. Our brains. We never stop thinking about our worlds.

It is a frustrating place to be for us, but also for the people in our lives. It takes special loved ones to put up with us. So getting together with some of the greatest writers I know and sharing our hopes and dreams, downfalls, mistakes and disappointments is an incredible place to be. Because we understand that about each other in ways that nobody else really does. We can support each other and our vanity because it's mutual and we know what it's like to hate something and love something at the same time, but to also be so devoted to this career that it's become a physical part of us. It's something that defines who we are as humans. It's something that we can't let go of no matter what our sales reports look like or our publishing contracts or any other reason.

I'm beyond happy I found people to share this with me. I found the best people.

But anyway. My friends were reminiscing about the good old days when they typed their fingers to the bone and lived off industrial-sized pots of coffee and slept four hours every night, then got up again the next day and did it again. Now they've all slowed down and developed a balance to their work/home life. Or maybe not slowed down, but at least found a steady pace.

My friend looked at me, and said, "We've all slowed down... except you! That's still how you live!!"

And I had to agree that it was. But I blame it ALL on this novella series!! It is consuming and overbearing. It's demanding. It never lets me sleep. It drives me half insane and completely exhausted with never-ending work.

But it's also worth it.

So worth it.

I know, without a doubt, that I am proud of everything I publish. I'm proud of it because if I wasn't, I wouldn't publish it. I'm proud by default. :)

I try to make sure everything I write is better than the last thing. I want to keep pushing myself and striving for the next level. I always want to become better than who I am today.

But Love and Decay transcends all of that. There are a lot of people that would disagree with me of course. Love and Decay is not their taste, nor did they like the direction the story took. There are people frustrated with the format and the cost and on and on and on.

I'm not saying that L&D is the best thing ever written... Not by a long shot. Lol. But for me it was a journey worth taking. It made me a better writer. I feel it in my bones. It stretched me to places I didn't think I would ever go(Like the Horror genre and Zombies. I mean, What???). It forced me to be on time with deadlines. Something we all know I struggle with. And the story development happened over the longest amount of words for me. (Star-Crossed is technically longer over all, but there are two different story arcs in that series.)

Reagan and I are like schizophrenic soul sisters fictional BFFs. I love that girl. I love how strong she is and stubborn. I love that she's at times the toughest girl you will ever read about and also the weakest, most delicate. I love that she's loyal but careful. Smart but not all-knowing. I love that she is broken and damaged, but not destroyed and empty. She is this beautiful dichotomy that I think most of us can relate to. We are a medley of opposites blended together to make complex, endless people. We're complicated in the best way and I hope she is an image of that.

It's really tough for me to let her go and close this chapter. There are parts of me that just don't want to!

But at the same time, I CANNOT WAIT TO MOVE ON!!!!!!  

I have so much planned for the upcoming seasons. Like. So much.

I cannot wait to jump into the new story arc and take you on a new adventure.

The best part of Love and Decay, Season Three, Episode Twelve was that at the end of that episode, I felt that Reagan's story was completely finished. I told everything that needed and wanted to be told. I gave her a happily ever after and tied that last period with a pretty pink bow.

But now I'm ready for more. The last three seasons almost feel like a warm-up to now. I was just winding us up.

Can 800,000 words really be considered a prologue? Umm... probably not. But humor me.

Several times over the last two years, I've described L&D as a pre-Dystopian. Meaning... this is the world before we get to the Dystopia. This is the Apocalypse part of the Post-Apocalyptic tale. This is the major event that Dystopian books only reminisce about. This is the flashback of the tragedy and heartbreak the world went through to get to that tyrannical government or new world order. This is the war that caused Chicago to break up into four factions in Divergent. The event that caused America to break up into thirteen districts in The Hunger Games. Love and Decay was the part of the dystopian stories never told before.

This was the beginning of the end of the world.

Now, we get to the meat of it.

The juicy stuff.

We're going to jump nine years into the future, where our gang of Parkers and friends are going back to the former United States of America.

The Colony has assumed complete control. Matthias lives and reigns with an iron fist and armies of Zombie hordes. He kills those that disagree with him. He imprisons those that question his authority. And he has never forgotten the small group of rebels that took away his family and gruesomely disfigured him.

The next few seasons will be told from Page Parker's point of view. She is on a mission to restore world order, even though she can't remember a peaceful world or an existence without Feeders. And because the title of the story is Love and Decay and I can't write anything without romance in it... she's probably going to fall in love. :)

This is a new world than what we've seen in L&D so far. So while there will still be Zombies and a struggle to survive, it will be at a different level. This is a world that has adjusted to the Zombie outbreak. They've learned to live and cope in a world of decay. They've moved on as much as they can and day-to-day survival has become something less than impossible.

Maybe not for the Parkers... but at least for the rest of the remaining population.

Reagan was a learned badass. She transformed from peppy cheerleader into Zombie killer extraordinaire.

What you need to know about Page Parker was that she was raised a lethal killer. Page is a weapon, taught to protect herself and her family with punishing skill and exacting precision. She knows how to kill. She knows how to survive.

She knows how to take down the Colony.

Or at least she hopes she does.

Page and Reagan are very different heroines, but they each have a very interesting story to tell.

I hope you'll come back in December to find out all the new places Love and Decay is headed!!! One thing is for sure... it's not going to get less exciting.