Confessions of a Way-Too-Honest Writer

Happy Holidays!!

I hope you are all having a lovely holiday season and truly enjoying all the things that matter most.

As 2013 comes to a close I'm going to flood your feed with Top Ten lists. Ha! I started to say something really poetic there but then decided just to get down to the meat of it.

Besides, I LOVE Top Ten Lists. Love them.

And even better, I love making them!! And while these will technically all be Top Fourteen Lists- Get it? Because of the New Year?- I'm excited to share them with you.

First up... Top Fourteen Things I Learned About Myself As a Writer This Year.

Really, the list could go on and on and on and on and on. Writing for me is an organic process that is constantly evolving. I am not the same writer I was back in 2011 when I pushed the publish button on Reckless Magic and then ran to the bathroom to upchuck my dinner.

I mean, some things are the same. And some things will always be the same. But hopefully I'm getting better at this whole writing-a-book thing.


Top Fourteen Things I Learned About Myself As A Writer

1. My writing bores the heck out of me. Ugh. So. Much. And I hope that's not an insult to any of you that like my stories.. but personally, I can hardly stand it! :) Ok, that's being a little rough on myself.

But truthfully, the hardest part of editing a book for me is in the Re-Read. This isn't just about my writing though. It stems back to who I am as a person. I NEVER re-read a book. Ever. In fact, the only book I've ever re-read (save for my own) is Pride and Prejudice. Now there is a book I never get tired of.

I think I might be a little bit ADD... Or something. Because I just get bored! It's like, I already know what's going to happen so I can't get my brain to engage. It's a silly problem to have. I should be able to read over my own stuff. I should be able to read one of my books start to finish. And I do try/make myself. But it is hard. And it's only getting harder!

2. I turned 29 in 2013. This apparently heralded in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of Old Age. I WISH I was kidding. There was this time... not that long ago... like, actually, a year ago, when I could stay up until all hours of the night writing. Then I could wake up at six with my kids and not notice a difference at all.

This time has come and GONE. Now ten pm rolls around and I turn into the Crypt Keeper.

What is most awesome about this, is that there are times, lots and lots and lots of times, when I NEED to write well into the early morning hours. Whether I'm on deadline, or have an idea I desperately want to mash out, or my children have needed every single moment of my brain and life that day and I haven't been able to write a single word down.. it doesn't matter, I need those glorious, uninterrupted hours of silence. But then I sit down after the sun goes down and can't keep my stupid eyes open!!!

However, this does not necessarily mean that I'm finished writing. Oh, no. 2013 has become the year for Sleep Writing. Yep, you read that right. It's similar to Sleep Walking, or Sleep Talking, only I do it with my fingers and actual thoughts and ideas still come out of me. It's bizarre to say the least. I've even written emails- that don't make sense of course- in my sleep. Sometimes I go back the next day and have paragraphs and paragraphs of plot ideas that are... RIDICULOUS. Just the other night I was writing Kane's POV, started to fall asleep, kept typing and when I came back to it, I had this whole thing about a mom abandoning her children and the kids going to look for her... IT WAS WEIRD.

Although, there are some moments that it actually works for me. When I co-wrote Striking with Lila Felix, she would always text me and say WOW, this is some really good stuff here. And I would say thanks, meanwhile I would run back to my computer, quick flip open the document and speed read to see what I had written. Don't worry, most of these sleepy moments only last for two or three paragraphs and they are always EDITED. (I can read through them without getting bored because it's like brand new material.)

3. I will never. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Be good at writing the synopsis. I HATE THEM. They are hard, and small, and supposed to be catchy and I can just never figure out how to put the concept of an entire book into four short little paragraphs. You'd think I have the hang of it by now. I've written something like 28 of them!! But no.. they just keep getting harder.

4. Deadlines are the Devil. THE DEVIL. I can't keep them. I shouldn't make them. And I utterly hate when I pass them by without publishing the book. I know it seems like I miss them to torture you. But believe me when I say, it's worse for me. After Starbright came out, my editor was like, Um, maybe you shouldn't make deadlines anymore... Clearly I didn't learn my lesson. Although, I WILL figure it out for you. I really will. It's my New Years Resolution and everything. I mean, that means something, right???

5. I like to walk a fine line with my characters. If you notice, a lot of my female characters struggle with feeling a little bit crazy. Stella. Ivy. Eden. Even in my contemps you'll see this trait. And mostly, because that's me writing reality into fiction. I feel like I am walking a fine line. Most days there is this nervous breakdown looming overhead and I feel like just one more temper tantrum from the two year old, or one more stupid thing I've forgotten, is going to push me right over the edge. But for me, it's keeping that balance. And I've never wanted to write a character that is completely crazy. Only slightly, just on this side of sane.

Until Kane. I actually didn't think I would like writing his POV. In fact, I kind of dreaded it. But I truly wanted to give you something for Christmas. And so I dove in. Turns out, I LOVED GOING FULL CRAZY. Loved it!!! It was fun to be able to erase the line completely and jump in with two feet. There is just something about getting rid of all the boundaries and giving myself full access to Crazytown that I so super enjoyed. And I'm really excited to do it again!


6. I can do a whole heck of a lot more now that I don't have a baby in the house. Whilst this also breaks my heart as a Mother.. as a Writer, I LOVE the freedom of not having a child attached to my boob!!!! 2013 was a VERY hard year for me. And while I accomplished a lot in my career, I also felt held back by motherhood. There's that scale again, where I have to balance the right amount of work with the right amount of being a mom. It's just so much easier now that the baby is not so much a baby anymore. And my kids are getting older every day. So they play together better. They're on their own better. They go to sleep better. It's just all around an easier way of life. Also... harder. But in the uninterrupted hours logged at my computer, easier. I have big plans for 2014 and with this new stage in my life I finally feel like I can accomplish them!

7. There doesn't have to be sex to make a book hot. This was a HUGE lesson for me. When NA became this giant, consuming, incredible genre that basically took over homes, kindles and minds everywhere, I panicked a little bit! Well, first, as a reader I threw confetti in the air and drowned myself in amazing books. And then I panicked because I knew that it just wasn't me. I mean, there are parts of NA that I LOVE to write. But then there's other parts, mainly the sex scenes, that just aren't me. And I'm not saying anything bad about any other author- don't take that from this. Because truly I adore NA and I devour every kind of story. But as a writer, I'm just not sure how to make a sex scene from my writing style and keep my personality in it. So I panicked a little bit, convinced myself I would never write a romance as good as a book that went all the way and decided to write Bet in the Dark anyway. :) That's a huge incite into my personality, PS. And what I took away was that I can write a hot, smokin' hot scene, and keep it PG-13. And while that might frustrate some, to me it feels like an accomplishment!

8. When I first started writing, back in 2007 (WOW, that was a long time ago!!) I really believed I would never write anything but YA Paranormal Romance. And even up until last year I thought that I would stick with the YA Paranormal genre. But then Bet in the Dark happened. And then Striking. And then Love and Decay- which is more NA Dystopian in my opinion (That's something else. I NEVER EVER EVER thought I would write about Zombies). And I'm currently writing an Adult Contemporary Romance. And I have another NA Contemp in the works. I don't know whether I didn't believe I had the scope to venture into other genres, or if it's just because for all those years, that was the genre I felt most passionate about, but either way, it's been amazing to stretch my wings into other genres and story lines. Contemporary is SUPER fun to write. And Love and Decay has been one of my proudest accomplishments. I like this. I like exploring new realms of fiction. And I cannot wait to see what else I dip my toes into in the next year.

9. I love words. I love them. To the core of my being, to the marrow of my bones, to the electrons and particles and atoms that make up my body. I love them. They inspire me. They make me want to be a better writer. They make this all worth it. There is nothing more satisfactory to me than writing something beautiful and poetic and moving.

Last summer, I was with a bunch of authors, and one of my dear friends had seen huge success with one of her series. She was telling about her experience and she said that she wrote it really simply- that she stripped away the big words and made it just really down to earth and easy to read. And she believed that was one of the reasons her series did so well. Although, I read it, and I know that it was also a very, very, very good story line and people couldn't help but fall in love with her characters.

Anyway, as I listened to her give out this advice, I just couldn't help but rebel inside at the whole notion of taking away my big, beautiful words. Like my entire being screamed "NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I won't do it. I can't do that to my characters, or my plots or my soul. It hurts me to even think about it!

And that is a big statement for me to make. I mean, this market is flooded!! There are just millions of books to choose from on any given day and somehow I have to stay afloat. I never wanted this to be about money, but in some ways it has to be. I am trying to make a living at this. I am trying to stay relevant. So I should go where the trends, or "money" is. But I just can't do it. I have to stay true to my writing- which ALL writers should, no matter what. But for me, this would have been an easy thing to do. Just close the web page while I write and use every day language.

But that's not me. There will be big words in my manuscripts till the day I die.

10. And right along with that, there will always be adverbs. Gosh, I could just describe every single word in my pages with adjectives and adverbs. I just adore them. I can't just walk to the kitchen. My character needs to walk slowly to the modern, shiny kitchen while her nerves tangle in her stomach and her hands clench at her sides. She has to experience every single sense and sixth sense while she lives, breathes and loves. They ALL have to be there. I don't want a paragraph, I want a scene that you can visualize like a movie and remember all those little details so that they come to life for you.

And this means I use a whole lot of adverbs. And I'm not supposed to. Especially with dialogue. Like, every single quote doesn't need to end with "said softly" or "ran quickly" or "yelled angrily" or whatever. That's like a big writer no-no. Still, you will find more adverbs in my writing than most. And it's willful disobedience on my part. I can't help it. I love them. They're the poor, neglected street urchins of the writing world, that I've taken in and adopted and given a safe place.

Fear not Adverbs, your home is with me. Your home is with me.

11. After all that though, 2013 has brought in the year of "He said," "She said." I have started to learn the value in something as simple as ending a piece of dialogue with "so-and-so said." It's just so perfectly to the point. It says it all. Wraps it up perfectly. And I have begun to love the poignancy of the word. I think you'll see more of my stripped down dialogue in the future. But I will never get rid of my glorious adverbs completely. Because sometimes you can't just say something, sometimes you have to scream it loudly, or whisper it achingly soft, or confess it tenderly.

That's just how I see it.

12. Love and Decay taught me a LOT this year. So very much. First, I didn't know I could write like that- in those short little episodes. And second, I didn't realize I would want to write like that.

But most of all... Love and Decay taught me that to really confuse your readers how to feel about a bad guy- Give him glasses. Oh yes, ladies, I'm talking to you! I had no idea- and this is true- that glasses were so very sexy!! Honestly, I meant to give Kane a weakness, not turn him into stud of the month! I'm glad it worked out for him, but honestly, nobody was more surprised at all the Team Kane fans than me.

And I blame the glasses. :)

13. There are two kinds of writers in this world. The kind that so completely thinks they are God's gift to readers everywhere and then the pathetically, insecure weepy kind.

I am the second kind.

And while most days I would love to have Nicolas Spark's confidence- even if I don't have his credibility- the truth is I'm growing an ulcer over this career and have more gray hairs before I'm thirty than non-gray hairs on my head. I get sick over every single book. I NEVER know what people are going to think of my latest release and on bad days a negative review can destroy me!!

The thing is, in real life, I'm actually known for my CONFIDENCE. Yes, I'm that girl. The one that's perfectly content with her looks, doesn't care what other people think about her and in general, recognize my utter aweseomness.

Then I went and found something I ADORE. Something I am so in love with I can't imagine doing anything else. Ever. Even if I become completely old news and nobody ever picks up another one of my books again, I will STILL KEEP WRITING. It's who I am.

But it's also what I'm most insecure about. And it's obnoxious. Why can't I just think I'm so super amazing? I don't know. But I'm tired of trying to make myself believe that I am. So moving forward, I'm embracing the insecurity. I'm just going to plan on days of fretting after a release goes live, I'm just going to accept that I will ALWAYS AND FOREVER be truly surprised when someone tells me they like one of my books- most specifically when they tell me they like Reckless Magic. And I am going to flaunt my Internet-Induced-Awkwardness like every cool person on the planet should be as cringe-worthy via Twitter, Facebook and a Blog as me.

That's right, Insecurity is the new black, bitches. Deal with it.

(I'm so kidding with that last line.) (Ahem, see what I did there? throwing in insecurity at the last moment?)

(Ok, just making sure.)

14. And finally. FINALLY. I LOVE BEING INDIE!!!!!!!

I do. I love it. The dream has changed. Once, I had these high hopes of getting picked up by a publisher and seeing my books in bookstores across America. But in the last year that has solidly changed. I love being Indie. I love the community. Because you people are the greatest people in the entire world. And so are the other authors I have come to know. I mean, there is just so much stinking support, my heart swells with it. I love being able to change my prices whenever I want and make as many books free as I want. I love deciding all of a sudden that I want to write a free novella from a boy's POV and doing it and then publishing it and then deciding I want to write another. I just love the freedom I have to write the words that I want and take my stories in the direction that I want. I love the control.

That might change one day- because it's also an INSANE amount of work and most days I feel buried under the weight of it. But I love it too. And it's the place I'm meant to be right now.

So THANK YOU. Thank you for supporting me and making this dream possible. Thank you for spreading the word about my books and putting up with the missed deadlines and scattered-brainedness. And thank you for taking this journey with me. I love you all. And I am so grateful for what you are doing in my life.


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