8.29.2014

I have a lot going on today!!!!

In the book world that is.

Well... in real life too I suppose.

Tonight, I'm going on a triple date to see a hypnotist! I've never seen one in real life before. I'm very intrigued. It's supposed to be a comedy act, so that makes it even better!!!

Plus, the couple's we're going with are some of my most favorite people in the world. I love them. And we usually laugh until it hurts. I love it when that happens!

Anyway. I'm not sure you care about any of that. :)

So.. .book related stuff. And. Go.

Fateful Magic came out today!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yippee!!!!!

I've been telling my betas that this story is pretty fluffy. I mean... there's definitely substance, but it's just all gushing love and mushiness. And the kind of love so great your heart hurts. And it's about Talbott and Lilly.

It's the story I've wanted to write for them for a long time.

Here it is...

Fateful Magic for Amazon

Fateful Magic for B&N

Okay... Then on top of that... The paperback for Love and Decay, Volume One came out today!!!!!!!!!

So now you can own your very own physical copy. You can hold it in your hands. And rock it to sleep. And spoon with it on the long, cold nights. And kiss it good morning. And... Okay. That's probably enough.

You get the idea.

It can be yours. In your hands. And all that greatness!!!

Eventually it will be available on most online retailers, even Barnes and Noble. But for today, it's just on Amazon.

Still. It's Prime!!! Hello, free two-day shipping!!!!!!

:)

Love and Decay, Volume One in Paperback

And the last thing you can get of mine today... although this one is FREE... is Striking!!!!

Striking is the contemporary NA I wrote with Lila Felix. We are working on the second book right now. Actually, right-right now. I'm taking a break from it as we speak.

Striking is free through the weekend!!!!!! And even though it's in a series, each book is a separate stand-alone. So don't hesitate to download this one and grab your next great weekend read!!

Striking for FREE!!!!!!!

8.27.2014

Writer Wednesday!

I have a lot planned for this segment on my blog. And I'm super excited to get to it this fall. I apparently... have a lot to say.

Ahem.

But I thought I should first start with one of the most honest truths I can give you.

This probably won't be a revelation of any kind. And it definitely won't be something new you haven't heard.

But it's important.

And it warrants repeating.

I know that I've mentioned it in several of my previous blogs, but today I thought I would take the entire post to reiterate the point.

How do you make it big and get your book to sell? Is there some secret formula or recipe to writing full-time? What is the magic potion to selling my book????

I know what it is. I do. I promise.

And! I'm going to tell you what it is... Are you ready?

It's easy.

So super easy.

I don't know if you're ready....

Just kidding! :)

Here it is...

Hard work.

That's it. It's just a whole bunch of hard work.

Does that disappoint you? Were you expecting something more? I hope not. I hope it excites you.

I hope you read those two life-changing words and said to yourself, Hard Work??? I can do that! I can work hard! I can work as hard as I need to!!!

And you can. You really-really-really can.

I've said it before and I will continue to say it, Writing your book is the easiest thing you will ever do in this career.

It is.

That should tell you something about what you've gotten yourself into. Does writing a book sound easy?? Uh, no. Did it feel easy??? Hell, no.

Or if you're in the middle of it right now, do you ever think you'll finish???

Probably not.

Or at least it feels that way.

Writing a book is nothing but blood, sweat and tears. It's the outpouring of your soul. It's a journey of discovery, of hammering out exactly who you are in the darkest recesses of your heart.

It's painful. And monotonous at times. It's terrifying and confusing.

It's a whole lot of work. But I'm telling you. I. Am. Telling. You. It is the easiest thing you will ever do.

(In this career.)

Because as soon as that book is finished, edited and stamped with the most gorgeous cover you've ever seen, the real work begins.

And let me tell you this work NEVER ends. Never. Never ever.

If you want that book to sell, to do well, to make it to the NY Times Bestseller list and go number one in every single country on this planet... Then you are going to need to start working.

And by that, I don't mean tweet about your book until your fingers go numb. Despite popular opinion, that is not the way to sell books.

I mean, be creative with your marketing. Find the right blogs to promote your work. Develop relationships- real, genuine, authentic- with your peers and find a support group.

And never give up.

In my real life (As in, not the internet one.), I have a tendency to downplay the success of my books. It's just my personality type. In all other things, I can be the world's happiest optimist. When it comes to the success of my books, I am somehow the opposite.

Zach is constantly reminding me that I am NOT a failure, even though it feels like it most of the time. And that I have been successful, even when I question when and where.

It's a very good thing I have him. For so many reasons.

But this attitude I have, this insecurity and confusion, carries into all parts of my life. On top of that, I have this job that people want to hear about. And by that, I mean, know every single detail of everything it encompasses. They want my quarterly reports, and how much money I've made since I started, they want to know why people would buy my books, they want to know how I got started and what goes on in my head to make me think I could actually do this thing for a living.

Sometimes I am horrified shocked by the questions perfect strangers are willing to ask.

And until recently, I have been very subdued with my answers.

How did your career take off?

My answer would be.. Well... I actually got kind of lucky.

Actually, I used that answer for a LOT of questions.

And then one day, I had answered the same kind of question with that same kind of answer, and I realized I was lying. I had just lied. I had lied big time.

I looked back at my 60 hour work week. I looked back at the previous weekend where I hadn't left my house and spent all of Saturday and Sunday writing, and then started again on Monday and kept at it until Friday. I looked at my house that I had fought to keep clean during breaks in chapters. And the laundry that I had debated over folding because really I needed to get 2k more in that day. I looked at my four children who I balanced my time with. Feeding them, clothing them, mothering them. I looked at my husband who needed to be fed at some point, and so there were meals to cook and dishes to do. I looked at the books I'd already managed to write and put out and the blogs I'd spent hours writing, the giveaways we'd worked so hard to come up with. I thought ahead to the ten other projects I just couldn't wait to start.

And I realized something very important.

It wasn't luck that got me here. Maybe luck tripped Reckless Magic to be free at the exact same time my second book was already out and my third just two weeks from releasing.

Maybe it was luck. But even then I would argue some miracle of God over spontaneous timing.

Luck is cold and callous. Luck doesn't fortune anyone. It's selfish and fickle.

Luck has nothing to do with book sales.

Not ever.

When I look back at my work weeks, and work weekends, in my early mornings and late nights, that's not luck, that's a whole hell of a lot of work.

I once read a JA Konrath blog that said something like, you'll never find a successful writer at his kid's little league game or curled up on the couch binge-watching Netflix marathons. Successful writer's don't have time for that. They're working.

Now, I'm massively paraphrasing him. But the point is the same. And while I would argue that you should make time for your kid's games. And you have to find a balance between family and work, you still have to work. And you have to work a lot.

I believe this is true for ANY profession.

Nothing irritates me more than the disrespect the masses have for rich people. And let me just say, I am by NO means rich. And I came from a place of being very-very-very poor. My middle-class-status has been tirelessly fought for. And I am thrilled to be here.

But I look at the "poor" of the world as they loathe the one-percent and I get sick to my stomach.

Success is hard people.

I would argue that Success might be the hardest thing in this world to accomplish.

Sure, there is that very tiny number of people that just wake up rich. But the majority of wealthy people in this world fought with their life to get where they are today. And they fight a daily battle to stay there.

Do you think Donald Trump just flipped his gorgeous comb-over the right direction and a billion dollars magically dumped on his lap? No. He came from nothing. And he took giant risks and worked nearly every second of every day to get where he is. And he continues to work that hard to stay where he is. He took risks, none of the rest of us are willing to take. He gambled with everything, with his reputation, with the money he'd already worked so hard to make. He worked and worked and worked and never gave up.

Side note: That's just an example. I'm not really all that passionate about the Donald and his money.

If you want to be a writer and sell your books, you're going to have to do the same thing. And here's the kicker. You probably most likely might never reach billionaire status. You might not even make a big list!

I haven't.

Instead, you'll work your fingers to the bone and simply get to write for a living.

But that's the goal right? That's what we want. That IS the dream. And there is beauty in that. There is satisfaction and purpose.

So you want this?? You really-really-really want this??

Then you have to make it happen. You're the only one that can, so you might as well jump in with both feet.

And just because I love you so very much... Here are three tips to help you get started.

Disclaimer: I am not perfect. And I don't know everything. But these are important if you're willing to listen.

1. Give Up TV.

Give it up. Give it up. Give it up.

The master himself, Mr. Stephen King, likes to say that "TV is the killer of creativity." It ruins it. Smashes all those pretty, masterful thoughts you had into the ground and then stomps on them with the heel of its boot until your imagination is nothing but ash and dust.

And let me ask you this. You want to write for a living? You want to finish your book and sell it to millions of people and get your name on big lists?

Then what is TV doing for you? How is it helping you with your career? How is it working with you to accomplish your goals?

You want something to do to spur creativity? READ. Read everything. Read every genre and every author and never stop reading.

But TV is mindless. It's working in complete opposition to what you need your brain to do. It's working against you. It's actively fighting your success.

I promise you.

I've been off TV for three years now. (Do I sound like an addict? I was.) I used to spend my nights in front of the TV with a DVR full of my favorite shows.

And I'll tell you what. It did absolutely nothing for me but distract me from my dreams.

I work most evenings. And I have to. I have four kids that require a lot of attention during the day. I like to keep up with my house and laundry. And I like to cook dinner every night.

I don't have a moment in my life to spare for TV. And when I finally sit down to peaceful hours in the evening, I have to utilize those to their full potential.

Now, I probably sound like a work-aholic. And I am a little bit. But let me ask you, what is wrong with that?? We live in this self-centered culture that believes in the power of the all-holy ME. Me. Me. Me. I need time for me. I need to do this for me. I need to sit down and put my feet up and zone out because that's the only thing that will help ME relax.

This might be radical... and crazy... but why??? Why do you need so much time for "ME?"

Let me rephrase.

If you're writing a book... aren't you already doing that for you? Isn't that already your goal and dream and wish all wrapped up into one monumental task?

This society we live in hates the idea of hard work and dedicating ourselves to hard work and then in the same breath loathes those who are successful because of hard work.

I don't get it.

Me time doesn't have to be lazy, brainless time. Me time can so easily be hard work time. Pour-yourself-into-everything-you-do time.

Yes, you're tired. Yes, your life is hard. Yes, by the end of the day, you don't feel like doing anything else but getting those feet up in the air and your brain glued to something that will take the pressure off thinking.

But why?? Why do we want our brain to stop working?

I often look around at my to do lists and the daily goals I set out to accomplish and I think to myself, I'm trying to be Super Mom. This is going to end badly.

But you know what? So far it hasn't.

And you might argue that I am just days away from burning out completely. But here's the difference between a true workaholic and myself. I'm not struggling to work every second of every day and ignore everything else. I'm fighting for a balance between family, work and friends. I'm working hard so I can play hard.

And if I want that balance. If I want to volunteer in my kids' classrooms, and enjoy my happy hours with my favorite people then I have to give up the meaningless things in my life.

I have to cut the fat and get down to the lean meat.

Then it's all possible. Then I can write 7.5k a day and still make dinner and still hang with my kids and still fold laundry.

Yes, my days are packed. But I end each one with a sense of fulfillment. And I'm proud of how I spend my time. And I get things done.

Hard work feels good. I promise. And giving up TV feels even better.

2. Write fast.

I get a lot of books out. A lot. I write novella series at the same time I write full-lengths. And I churn out books at an pretty crazy rate.

I do. And I used to be embarrassed of that. But now I'm really trying to be proud of it.

This year alone, I plan to publish six full-length books, one co-written book, a novella series, half of another novella series, three additional novellas and two books that you won't know about for a long time.

In one year.

And so far, I'm relatively on schedule. I've already released three of the full-lengths. I'm halfway through writing my fourth and the co-written book. I've finished one novella series and the second half will start soon. I've written two of the additional novellas and the third is scheduled to start next month.

The only thing I've had to give up so far this year, is Bet on Me.

But I plan to prioritize that soon.

How do I do it?? How do I get so much done??

Well, you know my first secret. No TV.

The second is that I can get a word count done. And I mean done.

Currently, I'm working on 2.5k words in an hour and a half. On average. Sometimes I'm faster. And sometimes I'm a little slower.

That is a little insane.

There was once a time that I wrote 23,000 words in one day. In. One. Day.

Does this reason annoy you??? Do you feel like that will never be you??

Well, let me be honest and say that I wasn't born with this skill. I didn't naturally come by it.

And that's because word counts are born by typing and typing is a skill that you learn. If you practice and practice and practice, there's no way you can't get faster. Type faster. Be faster.

Now, this does not mean that everything I write is gold and I'm ready to publish as soon as I finish typing the last period. Oh, no. Definitely not. That's basically blasphemy.

But that's what the editing stage is for.

If you write every day, if you consciously work on this skill and focus during your writing, you will get better.

It's impossible not to.

That also means that when you sit down to write, maybe shut off the internet. Except for Google of course. You need your research tools. :)

But it's really hard to get word counts done if you're checking Facebook every other minute.

If you want my trick, I set out two hours in the morning. Two hours in the afternoon. And then two hours at night. I write 2.5k words in those two hours slots and end the day with a 7.5k word count.

Does every day end this successfully? Er, no. But it's my daily goal and I make it easy to accomplish.

Sure, life gets in the way, but my high standards keep me reaching for something. When I push myself, I get things done.

Also, I give myself incentives. Like... I can't check Facebook until I get to 2.5k written. And if I really want to, I bunker down and focus.

The real message here though, is not exactly to Write Fast, but to Write Often. The more often you work on this dream you hold so closely, the sooner you get to reach it.

And that's not just hard work, that's exciting work.

3. Dispel the rumor that you don't have time to write.

Dispel it. Spit it out and never let yourself hear it again.

It's a fat, ugly, horrific lie that will murder your dreams.

You do have time to write. You do. You always do. And if you don't think you do, reevaluate how badly you want this thing.

Because when you want it bad enough, you will find time.

We find time for the things we hold dear, for the things we treasure and value.

I have four kids. My youngest is two and my oldest is seven. I love my husband. I want to spend as much time with him as I can. He's my favorite person in the world. I love my extended family. I love my friends. I love my weekly Bible Study. And I love going out. I love my hobbies: reading, playing the piano and online shopping. I love a clean house and laundry that's folded and put away. I love cooking and making homemade, healthy meals. I really, really, really love to sleep. I love life. I love all parts of it.

I also love to write. I love it with everything I am.

When I take away my writing and I look around at all the other things I need/should/have to accomplish, I don't have time to write.

And it's my full-time job!!!

There is just not enough time in my every day life to fit in word counts and get everything else accomplished.

If you were to look at my daily to-do lists, you would think I'm crazy.

And maybe I am.

They are VERY detailed and down to the minute of when I can do this or when I have to be done with that. They're also about thirty tasks deep. And honestly, most days, I only get 75% through them. But the point is, I'm trying. I'm putting it down and I'm working hard to get to the end.

There will never be a moment in your day where your time-management will speak up out of the blue and say, "Here's an extra hour today, write during this time!"

And even if your day did say that, one hour isn't going to make any difference.

Whenever I tell people I'm a writer, I usually hear back that the other person would love to be a writer. Well, maybe not usually, but it happens a lot. I love this. I love that everyone has a story to tell. I love that something has been stirring in their creativity and tugging at their imagination. I always, always encourage them to pursue their story.

But the second thing I hear most often, is, "Well, I'd love to write that book. I just don't have the time."

And maybe you don't. Maybe you work harder than me and Donald Trump combined and there is not a spare moment in your day. But maybe you're just telling yourself that because you aren't willing to carve out the time?

I'm sure there are lots of reasons for this. You're scared. You don't know where to start. You feel silly and insecure. I could go on and on.

But if you've conquered all those reasons and the only thing standing in your way now is finding a few spare moments?? You have them.

You already have them.

Get up early. Go to bed late. Write in the thirty minutes it takes you to bake your dinner. Or in the fifteen minutes you have between homework and soccer practice. Write instead of watching TV or stalking all the people you can't stand on Facebook.

Write instead of reading.

There. I said it.

Put my book down right this second and go write your own story. :)

Say no to your girl friends and stay home Friday night and make headway on that novel.

Let the laundry go one more day and get those words down.

You can't be a writer unless you start writing.

And you can't publish your first novel unless you finish writing that story.

That's the simplest truth I can give you.

This job is hard. Oh. So. Hard. And there will be more moments than you can count where you just want to give up and walk away. In just one day!

But if you have a passion for this, you will find a way to finish. You will find a way to write beautiful words and move people's souls.

You will.

So stop standing in your own way and get to work.  

   

8.25.2014

Monday!!!!

I took the weekend off. Like all the way off. And it felt amazing. I won't lie.

But now I'm hard at work today!! And so excited to be back at it.

Sometimes I go through serious writer's block when I'm working on a project. Even if it's something I love. But I happen to be in a very good place with every project right now. Which is awesome!!

Maybe too awesome though, since I have  more projects started than I know what to do with.

However, The Redeemable Prince gets first priority.

Which means you will be getting another teaser this week!!! Yay!!!

And this Friday Fateful Magic releases!!!!!!!!

I'm a little in shock over that one. First, there have been so many more pre-orders than I expected!!! You guys are incredible! And I am just so amazed that you are dying for Lilly's story as much as I am to give it to you.

If you haven't ordered it yet... Pick it up HERE.

I'm going to try to coincide B&N's release at the exact same time... but I apologize in advance because probably they won't match up.

B&N is a fickle beast and I doubt they will cooperate exactly like I want them too.

But I am going to give it a serious try!

Second... the novella is already finished and uploaded!!! WHAT??? That never happens to me. I'm NEVER early! I feel a little lost honestly... but mostly I feel amazing about it. I think I like this feeling a lot. I think I'm going to replicate it more often in the future. :)

Also, a bunch of my books have been re-edited and re-uploaded. You should be getting either an email or an option to update your copies soon. Hopefully, they will notify me and I can make another announcement.

But books like The Rush, Heir of Skies and Love and Decay One-Six and Volume One!

So.. that's exciting!!!

Volume One is almost available in print too!!! I'm just waiting on the full wrap and then I'll order my proof! Gosh.. so excited to get this one Live!! I can't wait for it.

I can't believe all these print books lately. I put it off for so long! But it feels so great to have them all available.

Speaking of....

The Starbright Series is all ready to go!

I'll give you those Amazon links but I think they'll eventually be available on Barnes and Noble and everywhere else too!!!

Heir of Skies in Print

Heir of Darkness in Print

Heir of Secrets in Print

And I just have to say.... they are absolutely gorgeous in real life!!! I pretty much can't stop staring at them!

So get them now and then bring them to Penned Con with you on September 12-13th in St. Louis!!!! I'll be at my first public signing! I'm going to have a table and everything!! Woot!!

I'm so nervous I could die.

FYI.

I've been putting this off FOR YEARS. For years.

That's not a lie.

I've even managed UtopYA twice without getting a table.

Gah!

Put me in a room with hundreds of people and ask me to give a speech on the fly and it would be no problemo.

Sit me down at a table and ask me to sign one book???? I feel like I'm going to puke. Right this second.

No judging me for sloppy handwriting or writing something unbelievably corny on your book!!! And especially no judging when I have to ask you to spell your name six thousand times and still can't remember! When I get nervous I can't even remember how to spell my own name!

True Story.

Once I signed my maiden name because I was so nervous for something. (I can't remember what now.) But the point is, I had been married for seven years...

Yikes.

Still, I can't wait to see everyone who's going!! And sign your book with the wrong name. :)

Hope you're having an awesome Monday!!!! See you on Wednesday for Writer Wednesday!!!!

It's going to be a good one this week!

Just as soon as I figure out what to write about.

Sidenote: I just read over this blog. There are so many exclamation points, I don't even know what to do with them. Hopefully, they helped wake you up today... Otherwise... sorry?

8.20.2014

Today's Writer Wednesday is Twitter inspired!!!

Kaycee tweeted me over the weekend and asked this all-important question: I want to start writing a book but have no idea where to start! Any suggestions?


I've talked a lot about the writing process and what happens once you begin your journey to authordom, but I'm not sure I've actually said anything about this particular point!


And it's kind of important.


I mean, basically step one. Out of a million. 


So we should probably go there- to step one- and tackle all the complexities of the beginning. 


And by complexities, I mean super super simple steps. 


I'm not kidding!! Starting your book is the easiest thing you will do in the entire process. And if it's not... maybe you should re-think your dream. 


I'm not saying that in this haughty, I-know-better-than-you way. I'm saying that because it's the truth. Chapter One is the EASIEST.


And I'll tell you why. In Chapter One you have nothing to cross reference. You have complete and utter creative freedom. You are the puppetmaster and those precious words are your puppets. You tell them what to say and where to go and they haven't developed a personality yet, so they actually listen!! (You'll understand how phenomenal that is once you really get into the meat of your story.) 


Also, in Chapter One, no one is reading this story. It's just you and the words. There's no pressure, no judgment, no deadline. You have nothing keeping you from being the most innovative, exciting, interesting writer that ever was.


Or you have the freedom to write absolute crap. It's up to you!! The good thing is, you are in the Writing Stage so even if it is crap, it's YOUR crap. And you get to love it and nurture it and help it grow and mature and develop into something that's less-crap. 
You can worry about the quality of your writing later in the Editing Stage. Right now, your at Step One so forget making it sound amazing and award worthy and getting it on a bestsellers list. 


Just write Chapter One. 


I'm going to assume that if you're reading this and wanting to start your own book that you already have a story idea in your head. You probably have a ton of stories in your head. You've probably been creating stories in your head since you were a child. 


In real life, people call those Daydreams. In the writer world, we call those potential story ideas. We call that future money. Or if you're really ambitious, future pop culture phenomenons. (Just kidding) 


So Step One of Step One is to pick one.

A story idea that is. 

Any one. 


It can be any of them. 


Seriously. Get decisive. Forget thinking about what other people want to read or what will sell. Strip it all down. 

There is only one person you need to consider when writing a book. And that's you. Yourself. What do you want to read? What story captivates you??? What is the book you look for every single time you surf Amazon or dig through a book store?? What's the story that's missing from YOUR life.


And forget everybody else. They're not important. You shouldn't EVER care about their opinion. It will just kill you to try an please all those unknown opinions. So why start now??? Forget them.

They're not writing this story. They're not even helping you!! They're just being selfish, going on with their own lives, thinking about only their needs, just waiting and waiting to read the story you're going to give to them. Even if they don't know it yet. 

But they're not helping you get the job done, so you might as well forget them. Completely. 

Write for you.


Because when you write for YOU. When you write the story you want to read, that's where inspiration comes from. That's what you pour your passion, drive and soul into.


If you're trying to write something that sells?? It won't. If you're trying to please readers you don't even have yet??? You won't! You'll never get those readers. That's how it works in this business.
But if you write a story you are completely and utterly in love with, then you will be proud of that story.You won't be able to stop until the last word is on the page. Your fingers won't leave the keyboard until you have finished your the last word in the last chapter. You want to meet your writing goal?? Then meet it for YOU. Write for you.


Now that you know your audience, it's time to pick up a subject. Choose the book you want to read. And then write it.  


The next thing I'm going to say is very very very important. So get ready. 


It doesn't matter what that book is about. Not in any way.


And I really mean that!!

The actual plot of a book is not what makes it great. It's the story line and the way YOU tell it.

Let me just pitch you one of my own story concepts to give you an idea of what I mean.

Reckless Magic.

It's about this girl. She's a witch. But she doesn't know she's a witch! And she goes to this school with other people like her. Only they aren't just witches. Some are Titans. And some are Psychics. And one is a Shape-Shifter. They all know what they are, but don't tell her. Nobody tells her anything. Then she's in the woods and someone tries to kill her. Well... not her actually. But the guy she's with. The guy who also happens to be an Immortal prince, engaged to someone else and whom she both likes and hates completely. Then she flies to Romania to save her friend, but it doesn't actually work. Then she has to run back home with the principal of her school, who in a grand twist of fate is actually her grandfather. And at the end of the story the guy she loves is still engaged to someone else.

See what I mean?? That story is CRAZY!!!!!!! At least when I write it out like that. But it's all in the execution. YOU make the story great. No matter what it's about.

You can write about space ponies that are flying from planet to planet in search of golden hay. If you write it in a way that people can relate to and make it so that they find themselves inside the story, then people will read it.

And even better? People will love it. 

So do that next. Be authentic in your story. Pour yourself into it. Give your readers a genuine voice.

People do not want the story you think they want. They don't even know what they want. :) 

Except for this. They want to read something real. They want to read something that makes them feel. That takes them out of their world and into yours.

And you can't do that if you're not honest in your story. You can't make your characters relatable unless you relate to them. You can't make your fictional relationships realistic unless you've been there- at least emotionally.

This is probably the worst part of writing. I'm not kidding. It SUCKS to be so transparent. And it really really sucks when people then judge your transparency with their reviews. 

But that right there is what is going to keep people reading to the end of the story. And then immediately hunt down the next book you wrote. 

Even in Chapter One. Even at the very beginning. Your lead character needs a voice, so give her yours. 

When I sat down to write Reckless Magic, I had already written a different book. It was contemporary. And terrible. Reckless Magic was my first ever paranormal. And while the world is complicated and intricate and took a lot of time and effort to build and develop.

Eden did not.

I already knew who Eden was, because she's me.

Or parts of me. I like to think I'm more complicated than a 2-D character. But who knows? That might just be vanity.

I've had SO many reviews crucifying Eden for how ditsy and dense she is. They go on and on and on and on and complain about how she doesn't ask enough questions, or she doesn't get things when they would have figured it out ten chapters ago. Or whatever. 

But here's the thing. Eden is ditsy. Because I AM DITSY. So... ditsy. 

So completely ditsy. 

And I'm fine with that. I am confident with who I am and I embrace all my ditsy-ness. It still sucks to hear it in a negative review. I won't lie about that.

But, for every negative review I've gotten for Reckless Magic, I've had like 50(I have no idea if that's the right ratio but it's a ton and I might be under-estimating.) emails/comments/messages/posts/reviews telling me how much they RELATE to Eden. How they feel like they know her and want to be real-life friends with her. They saw something in her that they believed was real and that translated into a love for the series. 

And maybe it's not her denseness per se, maybe it's her other attributes, but the point is she's realistic because she comes from an authentic place. 

She comes from me. 

The popularity of that series has NOTHING to do with my skill, talent or expertise. In fact... we could easily make a point that those are my worst written books. As far as actual skill goes... I'm kind of embarrassed of those books. I look at my writing and I'm like WHAT WAS I THINKING!!! 

I will always and forever love that story, I just know so much more now. I've gotten better by default, by doing this every day for five years. 

The point is, the success of your story is not all about your infallible skill or brilliant plot line. It's all about how you craft your stories and develop your characters. 

Be real. Be authentic. Write the characters you will believe in to your death bed. And make them as flawed and imperfect as you are.

And finally. Write one word at a time.  

If you ask me how to start your story? That is the simplest answer I can give you.

Open a blank Word doc.  At the very top of the page, write Chapter One.

There you go, you just started your story. 

There are amazing programs out there if you research. I just downloaded the trial version of Scrivener and it seems to be an author's best friend. Plus it's only $40. There's all kinds of books out there. How-To Guides. Blogs like this one. 

But what you need to do is forget all of that. Forget it. Just open a Word Doc and start writing.

And even more importantly... Get off the internet. GET AWAY FROM IT.

Stop wasting your life on Facebook and Buzzfeed and Twitter and Reddit and the million other sites out there constructed just to distract you from your goals and dreams. 

Stop researching. Stop thinking. Stop holding yourself back. 

You don't even need a title. That can all come later!! And don't worry, not even one time, about if you're doing it right. 

None of that matters until you've actually finished the story. Then you can edit and re-edit and edit some more until you go blind. Then you can look at the entire structure of the story and all the little nuances and find your title naturally. 

You'll need to outline and work out a story arc, but that can all come LATER. The first thing you need to do is write Chapter One. 

Figure out the story you're going to write. Just pick ONE idea and go from there. Get to know your leading character. Give her/him a name and a hair color and start writing. (And don't, for the love of all that's holy, create a Pinterest page and spend a thousand hours "pinning" the perfect actress to play her. Write her first, as naturally and organically as possible. THEN find an actress to match your character. After you've published. After you have a fan base who cares enough to look at your Pinterest page. Not the other way around.) Put actual words down so that you have committed to writing a book. 

That's where you start. Right there. 

You're going to want to do more work once you get into the meat of the story. (For more info about that, check out this Eight Point Story Arc Blog) And it will need about a thousand edits. But the important thing is that you are officially writing your first book. You started it!!!! Your goal is now attainable. It's just about thirty chapters away. 

Which in the grand scheme of life, is not that far at all.

See what happens. Don't be afraid of it and don't let fear hold you back.

Books happen One word at a time. Turn that word into one sentence. And that one sentence into onne paragraph. And keep doing that, paragraph after paragraph until then. And if you've already written Chapter One at the top of your page, that's TWO whole words!!!! Woo Hoo!!!!

Congratulations. You're writing a book!!!!!!!!!! So keep writing. And keep writing. And never stop writing until it's finished. 

It's really as simple as that. 
  



8.18.2014

How was your.weekend???

I hope it was a little calmer than mine. I'm all about lazy, relaxed, never-get-out-of-your-pjs kind of days. Mine was nothing like that.

So in protest, I've stayed in my pjs all day today! 

Actually, that's just a typical Monday around here.

Well, until tomorrow. When my kids go back to school and life is officially over. 

I can't decide if I love or hate school. Yes, it's easier for me to get work done and as disorganized as I am, I really find comfort in regular schedules and routine. But also... there has never been a time in my life where I've felt more like a failure as a parent!

And it's not even competitive parents that make me feel this way.

I don't even know competitive parents! All the parents I know are lovely people. 

It's everything else that works against me. You know.. being on time... getting homework done on time... homemade lunches... volunteering... the constant motion that doesn't stop until next summer! It's a lot to handle!

Mostly I have issues with time management. And making sure my children are doing everything they're supposed to be doing.

Which is a little weird, because I did awesome in school. Some might say, I flourished in school. I love learning. And listening to lectures. And I really love homework and taking tests.

I'm not kidding about any of that. I especially love tests. Anything I can be graded on makes me feel accomplished and like I'm making progress.

For example, I use this editing software called Grammarly to work with a lot of my manuscripts. And my favorite part about it is that it gives you a grade every time you upload something. 

It's the most exciting part of editing to me! :)

Anyway, you'd think I'd be better at having children in school. But... I'm not. Although I am learning. We are doing better this year than all the years in the past. 

I have back-to-school shopped until my arms felt like they were going to fall off. Plus, the supplies were bought weeks in advance. (Which is apparently the way to go. Usually, by the time I get there, I am sending thirty employees to the warehouse to search for all the items I need because they've been sold out for a month.) The backpacks are ready. The outfits are picked out. And the lunches are as easy as possible.

The girls can even pack them all by themselves. Uncrustables, individual bags of chips, juice boxes and more. It's all about making it work this year.

So... Please Jesus make it work!  

Okay, on to the stuff you came here for. 

This week in announcements....

Fateful Magic is still up for Preorder HERE!

It will actually be out August 29th!! But you can order it anytime leading up to that day. Or on that day. Or whatev. 

I am really in love with this story. I've wanted to give Lilly a voice for a long time. My soul feels happy about this story one. I just can't wait for you to read it!

I'll give you a teaser tomorrow!!!

Writer Wednesday will be about "How to Start Writing Your Book." 

This was a reader question via Twitter. And since I have more than 140 characters to say on the matter, I'm going to make it a blog. So come back on Wednesday if you've ever thought about writing a book but didn't know where to start. 

And now... the winners for the rafflecopter giveaway!!!! 

Jessika, Elizabeth and Brooke!!!!! In that order!!! Congratulations girls!!!!!!!! I've emailed you all!!!!

Look for Jessika's name in Season Three of Love and Decay!!! 

Oh. There's more podcast craziness coming Thursday. And... Volume One of Love and Decay should be available in print by the end of next week!!!! 

Hope you're all having an amazing Monday!