Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rise of the Seer Update


I am happy to report that every line has been written, each word is in place, and all edits have been revised. Rise of the Seer is officially out of my hands! Let us all exhale. Or at least me because this story needs to be released so I can move on. It is more than time for us to go our separate ways.

What's left and when will you be able to read it?

Excellent questions!

Now I'm waiting for the interior layout and cover to be designed. I'm also waiting to see if there is one aspect of the cover that will be able to happen. Once I find that out, I'll let you guys in on it!
This process can take about 8 weeks, or longer if I drag my feet. Trust me when I say, I have no intention of letting that happen! I haven't felt the freedom to sit down and just WRITE since the editing and revising of Rise started. It's the writing that I adore and I'm eager to get back to it.

To answer when it will be out, I'm not sure yet. I'm supposed to hear from my design team within the next few days, so I should have a better idea of an anticipated release day. But, it is eminent, my friends! I think balloons will be involved. Or at the very least a confetti crown. Could one of my crafty friends (you know who you are) begin working on that? Thanks.

What am I working on now?

Here is the part I'm not sure about. While all of the Ransom escapades are fresh in my mind, it would be nice to go ahead and write the third book in the series, Reign of the Judges. It's currently sitting at a piddly ten pages. However, I might devote some time to short stories for a little while to get myself back into the swing of writing. Who doesn't love a good short story? Hello, lunch break!

Eventually I will move beyond the Ransom Series. As of now it will be a total of four books. After that, who knows? I'm just happy to be in a place where I have options available. Keep creating, my friends! Bake that cake, play that guitar, sing that song, paint that masterpiece, take that picture, perform in that play, sew that dress...just create. It doesn't have to be for a living. If that happens, awesome. That's great. Regardless of whether or not your creativity is tied to your livelihood, just find some time to do the thing that makes you thrive. And if you ever feel like sharing that creativity, I'm more than happy to show it off here. Seriously. Message me and we'll see what we can do. We've got this one life and it should be lived with passion and abundance!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Kicking Fear in the Teeth

All is quiet on the writing front. It’s not supposed to be, but it is. I’m supposed to be going over interior layouts and choosing fonts and designing what my second book should look like. I’m supposed to be going over marketing questions and figuring out, once again, if I’m working within the appropriate genre. I’m supposed to be talking about it, getting word out, and promoting, promoting, promoting this novel I’ve spent two years of my life preparing. I know these things.

So where is Rise?

The same place it has been for the past month. On my computer just waiting for me to take another step. It’s 99.9% finished. So why aren’t things moving along?



Because I’m afraid.

What if they rip it apart?
What if it's not as good as it could be?
What if I missed something?

I have a trip to Boston coming up soon. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but when I heard my husband was headed there for a business trip, I just needed to go too. After he booked the flight I had to go into another room and make myself breathe because I was suddenly overwhelmed with all that it would mean.

Flying in a plane with other people and no way out.
Wandering around by myself in an unfamiliar city.
Figuring out where to eat and being okay with sitting at a dining table alone.
What if I get lost?
What if someone tries to talk to me?
What if…
What if…
What if…

It’s exhausting.

I decided a few years ago that I will never let fear prevent me from doing something I want to do. There’s just too much life out there to experience to live it any other way. And while my fears may seem silly to others, I don’t need to have anyone else validate them to know that they are struggles for me. Don’t we all have that thing that hinders us? That thing that pops up just to remind us that we’re human? The thing that has the potential to keep us from truly letting go and thriving?

So you and I are going to take all of those “What ifs” and kick them in the teeth. Whatever the thing is that holds you back…or rears its ugly head just when you’re beginning to feel brave enough to try something new. We’re going to tell it to take a hike.

We’re not perfect people, so why do some of us try so hard for perfection? I think one of the worst fears we wrestle with is fear of failure. Everything we attempt, everything we want to try is polluted by the nagging doubts that want to defeat us before we even begin. If I happen to miss a word or have a double space in a sentence in a novel of 196,000+ words, it’s not going to be the end of the world. Really. Failure doesn’t have to be permanently branded across our hearts. It’s not fatal and it’s not some omnipotent word that gets to govern how we live. No way.

I’m shaking off all of those pesky “What ifs” and trying to move forward with Rise of the Seer. I’ll save my fears for things actually worth fearing. Like clown sharks.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Little Bit Darker Now

Hello there! I’d mentioned a few blogs back that I would try to shift the content of this blog a little bit, and then I dropped off the face of the earth. That’s how it goes over here. I didn’t really leave the planet, but I’ve been working on publishing Rise of the Seer. It’s taken up most of my focus these days.

No, I did not get lost in space. Danger, fellow bookworms! Danger!

I also mentioned that I would always let you know what was for dinner. At this exact moment, I’m not sure. I can tell you that I’ve been obsessed with something I’m calling a “Green Goblin” this past week.

I've slayed many a goblin this week. Spinach trembles before me.

For those interested in an update, I honestly don’t have a definitive publication date as of right now. All I can say for certain is that it will be out before the end of the year. I have an anticipated release date, but until I know if that’s really possible, I won’t say when it is just yet. I know I’m doing all of this wrong. I’m supposed to build up a level of frenzied excitement in the months/days prior to the release, but I’m a new author trying to figure all of this out while still managing a home and family life. Suffice to say, I don’t always know if the day will be one where I get to sit down and focus solely on my work, or if I’ll have to drop everything and take a kid to the dentist to have a broken tooth fixed. Life. It always keeps us guessing.

Now that I have the **FINAL** copy (Can we please just pause here and throw hands up? Maybe shake or wave them a little bit?) of Rise in my hands, I wanted to say a few things about it. Keep in mind, as I was writing Ransom of the Healer I didn’t know it was going to be a book. That wasn’t the case with this one. I started writing Rise in 2013 and knew the basic plot of where I wanted the story to go. Things were mapped out and moving along. And then life happened.

Have you ever been in that place where you just don’t think you can handle one more thing? And then that one more thing happens anyway? That’s what last year looked like. The amount of pain and loss was staggering and I carried it with me daily. Grief and sorrow are heavy. So very heavy. If you’ve been there, you know. You know that it’s the first thing you notice when you wake up. You know how you think it’s lessened marginally, that you’ve finally started to heal, until a word or thought rips the wound back open and you’re right back where you started. It is a place where we function. That’s it. We’re not thriving there. We’re just making it through the day. That wasn’t where I wanted to be. I needed to get out from under the weight of everything trying to steal my joy.

So I went back to the thing that has always brought clarity and reprieve.

I wrote.

I wrote through the pain and hurt.

I wrote until the things that I no longer wanted to carry were there in front of me, on the screen, instead of constantly sitting on my chest.



Why am I sharing this? Because you’re (hopefully) about to read some of the words from that time. Rise of the Seer was exactly what I needed to work on while climbing out of the valley. It’s amazing how things work out that way sometimes, isn’t it? I already had the story in place, but after 2014, I had the emotion to add to it. If I’m going to hurt, there is absolutely going to be something beautiful to take away from it. 

If you are currently in a valley yourself-in a place you don't want to be- please, keep climbing. Keep going. I don't want to trivialize your circumstances or pretend to know what your struggle feels like. I just want to encourage you to take another step. You and your story are valuable. And your story isn't over yet. Just keep climbing. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Authenticity and What’s for Dinner?

I am sipping cold peach tea, sitting here in my shorts and tank top, and have my office fan blasting on high. The only true indications that summer is almost officially over are that the throw pillows on the couch remain unmoved during the day and the fan is the loudest sound in the house. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get back to work. Today, anyway.

While blogging hasn’t been a high priority for me this summer, I have been quietly doing research on other blogs and social media outlets. Which reminded me, once again, why I’m not a huge fan of social media. There are some odd ducks out there. I wanted to see what the common thread was for the people who have bigger platforms and a larger outreach. The thing that I discovered is that those people tend to live life with their followers. I mean every aspect is potentially available on full display. If you wanted to, you could spend the day with them from their morning cup of coffee until the end of their twinkle lighted evenings, complete with an amazing sunset. Is that what we really want?

I also noticed a trend towards some people being more open and honest about the struggles or hardships they might be facing, but of course that is often accompanied by a picture of a perfect mantle display or a picturesque shot of a mug of coffee on a patio. Complete with an amazing sunrise. I have coffee mugs, and I have sunsets. I suppose I could let you see them. If you really wanted to.
This is me. Drinking coffee in my car in a safely parked position. 

Please don’t think I’m mocking them. Really. I’m not much of a mocker. What I see is that humans are drawn towards community. Even those of us who struggle with being around others. We still need that connection to other people trudging along, just like we are. That’s one reason I enjoy literature so much. Instant community. One story can take us to the same place, although our experiences there will be vastly different. But there are times when my nose is not in a book and I’m left trying to figure out what to say to others around me. For the most part, my blog is about writing and reading…and authory stuff. It’s my business…and I love words. Written words in particular. Sometimes I want to write the things I’m thinking about and they aren’t business related. This happens quite often and 
I’ve been thinking about shifting the content here a little bit. I can’t promise that we’ll spend the day together, but I can always let you know what I’m having for dinner. Tonight is meat muffins, baked sweet potatoes, and fresh green beans.*

This was actually a time lapse photo of Wolverine snikting the potatoes.
He's just so fast this was the best shot I could get.

It’s a challenge to find the balance between personal and professional. I don’t think every aspect of our lives needs to be on display for anyone to see. I want to live in the moments without recording them. I don’t want a backlog of pictures sitting on my devices taking up memory space. I want the memories. I want the experiences full on, in real time, in blazing color right in front of me. Not through a screen. But if sharing one or two of those moments can help someone find a connection that validates the intrinsic need to feel included, I can certainly manage that. Because at the end of the day, when the words are put to rest, it’s the people who matter most and the stories they have to share. It’s difficult to share those stories without a relationship. So, here’s to a new season of interactions and to seeing the stories of those around us. Because there will always be stories to share. 


*I always admire the people who follow the asterisk. In the spirit of authenticity, I should let you know that this is not a picture of my dinner. I started this blog yesterday and that's what I ate last night. What you see here is actually a picture of my lunch today, complete with leftover baked beans from Labor Day. Also, I've changed my clothes since yesterday, so I'm no longer in shorts and a tank top. So basically, this whole "authentic" blog is built on a premise of lies. I don't know what this means for us going forward but I'm optimistic we can work things out. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I've Fallen Into Summer and I Can't Get Up

My dear friends,

I know that it is August in the year 2015. I know that it is sunny outside and that there isn't enough sweet tea in the world to combat the relentless display of summer the Lone Star is hurling down at the pesky mortals who reside here. I know time is passing because the sun sets and reappears a few hours later. But...I am trapped in the thick of summer and I cannot find my way out of the blur of days ticking by. And the heat. My goodness.

Lo, in a moment of defiance I wield my sword against the fiery furnace that will. not. stop.
Everyone together now, "For the honor of snow cones!"
It just so happens that this particular sword is super sour cherry and cream. If I've learned one thing this summer it is this: super sour cherry + super sour lemon + cream= my flavor for life. It's good to know your weapon of choice and learn how to use it well.

Another thing I've learned this summer is that Lewis is a surprisingly delightful traveling companion. He thought we should share a few vacation pictures to let everyone know we're still alive and well. I am under contract to agree with his promotional ideas, so here you go:
Just reading by the lake. He's an excellent page/acorn holder. 

I cannot with a clear conscious recommend playing Rage with a squirrel. An angry squirrel is a dangerous squirrel.
Lewis and I also looked into his ancestry, but those pictures aren't ready yet. He's excited to show them off though, so be on the lookout for those soon.

It hasn't been all fun and games in this vortex of endless snacks, late night page turners, and questionable dietary decisions (I'm looking at you, cereal for dinner!). I am still moving in the direction of getting Rise of the Seer ready for publication. It will be in the hands of my editor on August 31st. We'll then work through two passes of editing together to get it ready. And it may not look like much yet, but I've taken the first step to begin the actual publishing process. Rise is officially an open project now!
No turning back now!

I know I've not been as active on Facebook or blogging as much lately, but summer (mercifully) doesn't last forever. In just a few weeks the scent of sunscreen will once again be relegated to memory and hours of uninterrupted quiet will descend upon my house. Although some days I feel like it can't get here soon enough, I'm going to squeeze every ounce of adventure and rest out of this season. If I don't show up again by September, please come find me. I'll probably be stuck in a hammock with a snow cone.  

Yours until sweet tea runs dry,
A.C. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I Stayed Up Way Too Late Reading But I Still Need to Post a Blog

I can't grammar today. My brain is not having it. Really. I tried to describe simple, complex, and compound sentences this morning and eventually just had to let Google explain things. And then I drank a large glass of sweet tea. It's not even lunch time yet.

Here's the thing...I stayed up too late reading. It pretty much looked like this:
  
Something happens in the summer. Working from home means that I can set my own hours and when I don't *have* to be anywhere at a certain time, things get a little hazy. So I was curled up in a reading chair with Grace in the Wilderness: After the Liberation 1945-1948 until one this morning. That wouldn't have been such a bad thing except that I was awake at 5 and thinking about Go Set a Watchman. Never, ever tell me that books are boring. Especially not today on such little sleep. I'm feeling a bit cantankerous. 

Unfortunately I neglected to post a blog last week...and the week before that, so I didn't want to miss it three weeks in a row. I wrote one for last week, but it never seemed to come together the right way, so I present to you the bits and pieces of what I didn't cut from the blog I never posted. If that didn't make sense, my apologies. Again, I can't grammar. Pretty much at all.

And now we rewind to last week...


June 8, 20015
It’s Wednesday again. I will readily admit that I neglected to post a blog last week because I was sitting in a canoe, paddling up a creek. I saw unexpectedly big turtles and a couple of egrets that made my breath catch as they took flight beside our trusty ark. In the interest of being authentic, I will also readily admit that my opinion of its seaworthiness faltered when a rather large water snake decided to swim beside us. I did lean over to get a better look and surprised myself when my only exclamation about the sea serpent ended up being that it was quite beautiful. My fellow passenger was more concerned about my inexperience with paddling and kept a weather eye to ensure that I didn’t inadvertently fling Nessie aboard our boat. I’m happy to report we kept our respective distances and conversed only in passing. Every snake is secretly hoping a funny looking creature floating in the water will tell them they are beautiful. Nature. Get out in it.




Notice the largish turtle on the branch. Squint. It helps.

Nessie is out there somewhere.


And fast forward to today...

That's pretty much all I've got for today. I think the best thing for all of us to do now is step away from this monstrosity of a blog and have another glass of tea, on the rocks, with a splash of lemonade. And one of us won't stay up so late next week before trying to write a blog...although considering the number of books out there, I certainly make no promises.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The “F” Word

Simmer down now. It’s the word fantasy. I thought we could have a bit of genre talk today, although the concept of genres in general is murky and sometimes challenging to navigate. We’ll try to wade through this together and can blame the library catalog I was sifting through yesterday for this impromptu journey into bookish waters.

One of the more challenging aspects of getting a book ready to publish is trying to figure where in the world to place it. (Indie author here. I don’t have a big company leading me in the right direction.) Genres are essentially matryoshka dolls, where you have categories within categories. To simplify it, I’m just referring to Ransom of the Healer as fantasy and all of the other little subgenres can just cozy up within Big Mama for a little while.



The fantasy genre is one that not everyone wants to spend time in. For some it has a stigma associated with it that can make people hesitant to explore all that it has to offer. Others honestly view it as somehow inferior and I can't help but feel disappointed when a work is discredited just because it falls under fantasy. To be fair, I will admit there is some weird stuff out there...because people are weird. I don't even need to provide an example of that fact because a memory most likely already popped into your head confirming this. But not all of the content out there is weird. It's just different. I think as adults we tend to shy away from some of the things we would have embraced as children.

When we're younger fairy tales and make believe are as natural as breathing. In fact, they're encouraged. Kids can spend the day wearing capes that transform them into royalty, super heroes, wizards, or magicians and we think nothing of it. We're thrilled to see them using their imaginations and smile as they live their adventures in front of us because we remember. 

We were there once. 


We wore tighty whities on our heads as scuba masks. We were invincible against bad guys. We were cowboys and astronauts and we fought dragons while casting spells. And then something happened. We got older. Our capes were exchanged for suits and uniforms and we all but forgot about the once upon a times and the mighty feats we performed when we had super powers. 

This is why I like fantasy.

I understand that I'm asking you to suspend logic for 300 pages. I get that I'm asking you to accept the fact that my characters don't need food and sleep the way that we do. Fantasy authors are taking you into places that they've imagined. They're inviting you into their world of make believe. For just a little while we're all super heroes again and we are on a collective adventure. We're traveling through wardrobes and we're flying through the air on a Nimbus 2000. We get to postpone the monotonous and mundane aspects of life for just a little while. 

If you are in the group that already enjoys fantasy, you are one of my people. If fantasy intimidates you or isn't something you think you'd enjoy, just give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised. I know it can seem silly or preposterous to some out there, but remember: A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. Thank you, Roald Dahl, for that beautiful reminder.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Laws of Motion

I did not intend to take physics in college. I ducked and dodged and shied away from courses that involved complicated math and equations like a skillet on a hot stove. Bring on the literature! Bring on the essays and reading lists! Chemistry and calculations? No, thank you. An unfortunate round of scheduling brought me face to face with the very thing I had tried to avoid for semester after semester. I took Physical Science over the summer before my impending graduation...and I loved it.

Loving it certainly didn't mean that it came without challenges. Nope. I struggled and worked hard to keep up in that class. But I have to say, of all of my college courses I walked away with a greater sense of accomplishment from that class because of the effort it took to finish. No, I did not get an A. And that didn't matter to me one bit. To this day I still don't fully understand electric circuits, but I'm okay with not understanding all the ways of the universe.



Why the physics talk? So glad you asked. It's because I still have an $80 used textbook on my shelf to unload and I'm trying to finance publishing a second book. Just kidding. It's not for sale. It's my trophy. 

Earlier I was thinking about how objects at rest tend to stay at rest and objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless an outside force disturbs it. At the moment I'm an object in motion with finishing up this second draft of Rise of the Seer. My plan is to stay in motion until it's finished, which means I need a...


I had a few people ask me about the progress on Rise because I hadn't mentioned it lately. It's moving along and I am looking forward to handing it off once again. Outside eyes see things that I just can't find on my own. Eye color...the spelling of names...who does and does not like pickles and why? (1,000,000 points to you if you knew the answer to that last one.*) 

I feel like I would miss a wonderful opportunity to let you in on one of my favorite lessons from back in the day. Check out the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to see why physics can be utterly fascinating. It can also give me a small case of the heebie-jeebies. What's life without a little bit of fascination? The moral of this story is, work hard, kids. Try the thing you think you can't do and don't put limits on yourself before you ever start. Someone should really put that on a t-shirt. Thank you in advance.




















*Points may be redeemed for a smile or high five, depending on your level of comfort and my level of comfort at the time you choose to tell me about your in no way literal points. Open to US residents 18 and up.

Also, it's Catryn. Because of an afternoon of pickling that she just couldn't get out of.  The more you know...





Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Summer Loves Books

Sunscreen and bug spray have once again become the perfume of the season. The sun is (finally) shining and demands exploration of everything it touches. School is drawing to a close and the communal calendar in our house comes to a screeching halt. Late evenings around the fire pit and board games loom on the horizon. We’ve finally made it.

We have a tradition in this family we started a few years ago. The first Monday of summer vacation is sacred. It is our one day to completely unwind. It starts with a box of toaster pastries left on the counter for whenever someone wakes up. We have them maybe twice a year, so this is a big deal for us. It is also the only day of unlimited screen time and pajamas. It’s the day we recharge. Normally, we don’t leave the house (due to all of the pajama wearing), but this year another magical day coincides with our sacred day-Summer Reading Kickoff at our library.

We'll meet soon, you little rectangle of deliciousness.

Until a few years ago I didn’t even know that our local library offered summer reading programs for adults. After discovering this exciting news I have made it a part of my summer ever since. We read a certain amount of books from any genre, fill out a form, and are then entered in drawings for prizes. The first summer I won a basket full of pens, sticky notes, chocolate, and a gift card to Half Price Books. It was a solid week before my merriment finally died down. I realize that summer is no longer a break or three free months for most of us out there now. It’s still fun to challenge ourselves to make reading a priority, and it is nice to know that others out there are joining in on the literary jollification.


Current to-read shelf. House rules dictate no new purchases can be made if there is no room left. I've still got space!
Check your local library to see if they offer a summer reading program for adults as well as the kids. If you do have children, Half Price Books also offers a free summer program where they can earn Bookworm Bucks to apply to future purchases. If book contests are more your thing, one of my favorite authors, Sarah Addison Allen, is co-hosting a Summer Reading giveaway. You can enter by clicking here. 

Books and hammocks are best friends. I hope you enjoy their friendship to the fullest extent this summer. Do it for the books. They are the least expensive vacations you will ever take and their destinations are unlimited. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Down Came the Rain

It's Wednesday. You know what that means! I hope that you said, "New blog post!" You're correct, by the way. May is still screaming by, just like always. But unlike always, we're a soggy mess right now. I had mentioned in a Facebook post about scouting locations for a Ransom of the Healer book trailer. It's a very exciting idea and I am looking forward to turning it into a reality. 

We found the perfect location and figured out the means to get there. I was planning costumes and beginning to put together the ideas for camera shots. Things were moving along well. And then the skies opened up. I'm sure by now you've seen the video footage of the exorbitant amount of rainfall the Lone Star has received as of late. My heart hurts for my fellow Texans who have lost lives, loved ones, and homes. We're used to crazy weather here, but this is more than we've grown accustomed to. It's downright staggering. Twenty of the last 26 days have brought rain to our area. 

What does the rain have to do with the book trailer? Our key location was on the remains of a bridge in a lake that has been accessible for a few years. That bridge is no longer an option. Now, please forgive my horrible photography. Some of these pictures were accidents and I had no intention of sharing them on my blog when I took them. But I changed my mind so you can see this and marvel with me. 

This first picture was taken on the first of May when we were scouting the location. I'm actually standing in the predominately dry lake bed looking back towards the shore. (It was an accidental picture as I was trying to avoid hidden animals that both screeched and hissed at us.)

Fast forward several thunderstorms and two weeks later and you have a vastly different location. This was taken from the other side of the lake. That tiny speck in the picture is what was left of a portion of the bridge I could have walked across on the day I took the first picture. I haven't taken a picture in the last few days, but the tops of the rails are just about submerged again.


I'm not about to complain about rearranging filming when people have suffered so much and are still dealing with the ramifications of the storms. I've just been amazed at the sheer volume of water in a land that's been suffering a significant drought for the last several years. 

As I was wading through a flooded field I came across these floating blobs. If you've ever wondered how ants survive when their nests are flooded, here you go. They band together and form islands. I had never seen this before but I found it fascinating.  


I've found other things fascinating during our monsoon season. Like this, for example. I love when one of these pops up after a storm, but when two of them are there, you must stop and stare until they vanish.


And just two nights ago after another severe thunderstorm, the prairie sky was once again wide and high. (Insert hand claps here.)

Photo credit goes to Rex for this one.
As the water begins to recede, let's continue to take care of each other out there and remember that people are the priority. And soak in those sunsets. Beauty has a soothing quality about it and there are some out there who could use a touch of it today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May I?

"Wednesdays are for blogging," she said.
"But I demand your constant attention," May said.

It's that time of year again. In a valiant effort to make every moment count, the month of May roars in and threatens to remove all semblances of order and routine for four consecutive weeks of end of the year activities. Yes, it takes an entire month to end the school year. When the chalk and ghosts of assignments past finally settle, I will have attended no fewer than six awards ceremonies and other various "final performances."

We are heading face first into summer vacation around here and I give. Bedtimes are stretching out later and later as the sunshine continues to cascade through the blinds in the evening. Our wardrobe choices have relaxed into a "just make sure it's clean" system and I don't even bother to check if socks match anymore. The nostalgic laissez-faire household policy of summer living is creeping in and waffles are served for dinner, flip flops have taken up residence on the front porch, and reading cots are permanently stretched out in the living room. It's a wonderful time to be alive. It's a challenging time to try to write.

I'm making it work though! In between book battles, band concerts, track meets, and appointments for a broken bone, I'm chipping away at the rewriting process. I'm overdue for a blog post, so I just thought I would drop a quick snapshot of life barreling down the highway to summer. I know it's like that for the majority of us out there. Just remember to take a moment to kick off your shoes, have a glass of iced tea, and breathe. We've almost made it. In just a few weeks we'll be wondering where on earth our summer vacation went. One day at a time, my friends. We're smack dab in the middle of soaking up the moments that become memories. Some things just shouldn't be rushed.



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When It’s Not Your Cup of Tea


I‘m a tea drinker. A hot cup of tea can wake me up, calm me down, or offer comfort in stressful situations. There are as many tea options available as there are moods to be in. If you’re not finding one to fit your current craving, you can just create your own. It’s quite versatile.

I’m also a reader. Books can lift my mood, bring me down, offer comfort in stressful situations, and give me an acceptable barrier when I need to withdraw from my surroundings. The wonderful thing about books is that there are also infinite options out there to fit what mood you’re in. Or what mood you want to be in. Books can help with that. As abundant as books are in quantity and expanse of genre, they have one thing in common. They were written.

Just as we don’t know the story inside the book before we’ve read it, we also don’t know the story behind it for the one who has written it. It’s the same concept for anything that’s created. We hear a song, but don’t know where the songwriter is coming from. We admire a piece of art without knowing the motive behind it. We can appreciate an amazing, I mean eyes will roll back in your head amazing, crème brûlée without knowing the life story of the one who prepared it. The common thread that ties these all together is that they are created things. Someone had to put the time, effort, and work into moving these things from thoughts or ideas into substances we can physically enjoy.

I’m thankful there are people out there who are willing to share their creations with me. I have songs that have become personal anthems, I have books that are falling apart because their words are familiar destinations I can revisit as often as I need to. I especially love the friends who can bake amazing chocolate cakes and are happy to share them. **Ahem, you know who you are, and I love you.** Every time we create something we are sharing a little bit of ourselves. Honestly, that takes some courage.

Pardon me, while I wipe the drool from my chin.

So what happens when you hear a song that makes you grit your teeth, or you see art that strikes you as less than amazing, or you read a book that makes your eyes roll in an “I can’t believe this person actually wrote this” kind of way? It happens. We have a few choices. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about things you are morally opposed to. I have my boundaries for what I will read, watch, and listen to. Some words and images just don’t deserve an invitation to take up residence in my memory. But if that isn’t the case, and it is simply a matter of opinion, what do we do when we don’t like something? What happens when it isn’t our cup of tea?

We can say, “No, thank you.”

We can remember that it is still a real person behind the work. We can recognize their creativity without having to engage in it personally. We can throw that book across the room and let it sit there for a while before picking it up and passing it along to someone else who might enjoy it. (Yes, that one is personal experience.) The other thing we can also do is remember that our words are powerful. We can cut, dismantle and destroy with them. Or we can encourage, motivate, and critique with them. I don’t mean blindly tearing into as a form of critique. Constructive criticism and ripping into shreds are two entirely different things. For some reason there are folks out there now-especially in this age of social media and personal stardom- who cling to their right to say anything, and value their own opinions and words more than they do the recipient of their assaults. When it all comes down to a matter of personal opinion and preference, we all have the choice to say, “No, thank you. That’s not my cup of tea,” then go find something that is. I guarantee we'll find something we like, and if we don't we can always create our own. The world is a big place and there is more than enough tea for all of us.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The New Office

We are once again entering the share circle, my friends. Embrace the closest book to you and repeat after me: I, fellow bookworm, do solemnly promise to refrain from passing judgement upon my fellow bookworm, A.C. Autry, as I see the before photos of her office. I also solemnly promise not to throw cleaning supplies, magazine clippings with organizational tips, or hoity-toity leers in her direction. I understand that she is human and had just finished writing her second book, Rise of the Seer, when these pictures were taken. I support her theory that a good writing day is more valuable than a clean desk. May I suffer the anguish of a dozen paper cuts soaked in lemon juice should a leer creep onto my face or a dust rag accidentally leave my hand and fly in her direction.*I will also purchase a million copies of each book she writes.

Thank you so much for saying that. I feel like we can now proceed into what my life was like before yellow walls. Ooops, I should have said spoiler alert there. 

Here’s some back story on the room we now call “The Office.”
Once upon a time a young family moved into the house they had waited for for seven years. It was finally a place to call their own where they could plant anything they wanted. Even corn. But that doesn’t grow well here, so they never tried.
They chose their own house plan so they could have a room dedicated solely to musical gear. It was to be “The Music Room.” The gear came in and the years passed. And more gear came in and more years passed. Then the fact that they had no garage came back to bite them in the drumstick. And the gear stopped trickling in as the need for a place to complete school projects arose. Slowly but surely, “The Music Room” morphed into “The Storage Room/Cave of Despair.”
Hark! Our aspiring author emerged from the sanctity of naptimes and snacks with Curious George to begin creating a story. The more she created, the longer she was in “The Cave of Despair.”
UNTIL ONE DAY. A vision of sunny walls and LESS STUFF filled her eyes as possibility kicked around in her imagination. They could give this sad room with the perpetually closed door the identity it had so desperately lacked. And they did. And there was great rejoicing in the land. 
The End.

My friends, I present to you “The Cave of Despair.”



As you can see, that wasn't an environment most conducive to writing or anything of a creative nature. In the beginning of the year I made a commitment to writing and have taken steps to jump in completely. I needed a space to match the vision I'm chasing. 

So after a month of chaos and throwing out so very much clutter, now I present to you (with its official title and identity), "The Office."



I'm really happy with the results for many reasons. The first reason is because in order to avoid filling this space back up with all of that junk, we had to get rid of so much stuff. It's liberating. It's also a place where we can all work now. Let the school projects resume! And the guitar playing! And the writing!

A word of caution if you are thinking of tackling a project like this for your own office. If you put up white boards, messages WILL randomly appear at any given time. I had the privilege of finding this one:

And there was great laughter and rejoicing in the land.
The End.














*I see that you are a person who is attentive to detail. That's an admirable character trait. I don't expect you to REALLY purchase a million copies of every book that I write. We can just meet in the middle here and call it a good 500,000. That works for me. How about you? Good. I'm glad we took care of this little arrangement. You're the best! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Now What?


Wednesdays are for blogging, she says.
I did write a blog last week, but it ended up growing into something bigger than what I intended. It involved superheroes and the portrayal of women in those roles. I'll post that one when I polish it up a bit more. Not that this one will be polished. Blogging is more conversational to me, so I don't have anyone else edit it before hitting that looming "Publish" button. I'm human. I use words incorrectly. Frequently. And I also rely on my spell check far more than I should. I think at some point I'll publish a post that's completely unedited, complete with all of the typos and words I inadvertently create when I'm trying to use another word. There's another post to look forward to!

I mentioned that I was able to attend a conference for writers in Austin this past February. It was really good and the content was pretty solid and informative. Something you may not know about me, (everyone scoot into the share circle), is that I have trouble being in groups of people. I was going to say large groups of people, but that's not accurate. Let's just make that a blanket statement and say that I have trouble being around others. It's not that I don't like you. I promise. It's not that I'm not interested in your story. I'm a writer. I devour stories and words. It's just that my heart beats really fast and my palms sweat and my stranger danger survival mode has been activated as soon as you begin to engage me in conversation. That's a lot going on all at once. Put me in that situation for a weekend conference and at every given opportunity I will flee into the safety of my personal bubble every. single. time. Engagement is a legitimate struggle for me.

I wanted to find a great photo to convey the safety I feel in my own personal bubble. I searched for "safety bubble" and this was the result. Not as dramatic as a frightened looking author crouching in their own bubble in a crowded room. But...this will work. Show of hands, who is touching their screen right now to try to pop these little guys?
So as I enter the writer's lair at the conference, I decide to actually talk to someone. The first lady I spoke with kept rubbing my hands because they were cold and I almost died. It was touch and go there for a while. **WARNING! BUBBLE INVASION!** After that conversation I spoke to another author and when she asked why I was there I told her I would like to find a way to turn writing into a career. And....she laughed at me. This wasn't just a snicker. It was a head thrown back in a full laugh. I set up an extra layer to my safety bubble after that.

It wasn't all how I envisioned it, but one of the things the experts kept saying was that you have to engage your audience daily. I just wanted to warn everyone now that I'm going to try to do that. I don't want to bombard you, and I certainly don't want to annoy, but I'm just trying some new tactics in the hope that one day I'll get to laugh in the face of an aspiring author. JUST KIDDING. I would never do that...unless you're telling me all about your new book and it's a comedy. Then I'm assuming laughter would be appropriate.

All of this to say I'm working on growing the community around The Ransom Series. It will be whatever it is supposed to be, but I want to make sure that I am working with all of my heart and giving my best effort. I want to have a place where we can talk about the world we've visited together. I want to provide others an opportunity to hopefully read something that will encourage them in their day. When it all comes down to it, we each need other people to walk with us on this journey. I can deactivate my bubble for a little while each day if that allows me to acknowledge the value I see in a fellow reader and bookworm. You guys mean a great deal to me and I'm looking forward to getting to know some folks a little better. It's a privilege to have just one reader. To you I say a heartfelt, thank you.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March In Pictures

In like a lamb, out like a lion. That was March for me. 
It started out innocuously enough. What's more unassuming than a spinach omelette? 
Breakfast: March 4, 2015

Then it snowed and my friend Lewis made a great snowman.
World's best literary agent.

From there we went into what I refer to as "Project Month." It could also be called "Tear the House Apart and Live in Utter Chaos Month."
Zoe was ashamed to be associated with me and my mess.
To add to the madness, this happened. We're all okay, and that is the most important thing. Really. A car is a car is a car. A person is precious. All of my people are mending well.
Lotte fought an SUV.
That led to a round of rousing puns and muscle relaxers for a few days. It also kept me from wanting to sit down at a keyboard and write. Laptop=tiny T-Rex arms. So I puttered around the house and finally pulled my sweet potatoes from the pantry. Yes, they've been in there a while. Yes, it was completely intentional. This time, anyway.
They will eventually become sentient beings and take over the house if you let them go much longer than this.

And finally, the month ended with a turtle charging me and trying to make me shriek like a banshee. I didn't, and he didn't end up crawling up my pant leg like I legitimately feared for about three seconds. You guys, turtles...it's just a ruse. They've got everyone fooled. They can book it like a race car when they want to. And this one did. 
Photo credit to the one brave enough to get that close after knowing this little guy can actually reach Mach speed when it so desires. And this one did.
This was March. This is why Rise of the Seer is still in a binder on my shelf. By this time next month, it will be ready to hand off to new readers. I, unlike the turtle, needed to slow down for a bit and recharge. And I am. 















Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Renovations and Relaxers


Oh, my friends. March is trying to swallow me up and spit me out. After returning from my amazing conference in February, I had such lofty ideas about all the ways I could become a better writer. The first step in that process was making our home office into a place where I actually wanted to write. I haven’t decided yet if I’m brave enough to post a “before” photo. While the majority of the office is complete, it certainly isn’t finished. I’m still waiting on my computer desk to be delivered so that I can get a computer…and finally set up the printer we were given as a Christmas gift. Rise of the Seer was done entirely on a lap top, and while I’m thankful to have said keys and screen, I’m looking forward to moving on to a keyboard that doesn’t make me hold my arms out like a baby T-Rex.


Believe it or not, I actually found a stock photo of a T-Rex at a desk. The world is a strange, strange place.
Moving right along, my Beta reader finished reading the first draft of Rise of the Seer. I’m now about to begin the process of rewriting based on his comments. And for anyone who may be curious, yes, we are still friends and on speaking terms. Critique can be oh-so-painful, but a second pair of eyes on your work is crucial to helping it become the best it can be. Speaking of eyes….

For undisclosed reasons, I had to take my first muscle relaxer last night. Now, I’ve had pain medication before, but I detest having to take anything like that for any amount of time. I’d rather chew on a leaf or rub some oil on whatever hurts. Usually what happens is that I end up singing a heartfelt round of Irish pirate ballads before falling asleep. No harm done. Apparently muscle relaxers bring out my pun side! I had a little notepad by the bed and scribbled out puns in my “relaxed” state. Because we are all friends here, I’ll share one of them with you. Yes, there were several. Here you go, in all of my medicated glory:
In case you are having trouble deciphering my scribbles, it's "the ayes have it." This was snort laugh hilarious last night.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

For Our Young Bookworms

I’ve just spent the weekend with 200+ authors and those who love the craft of writing. I was fortunate to attend the 2015 re:write conference in Austin and I have to say that it was as amazing as I had hoped it would be. If you’re an aspiring writer, I highly recommend looking into going to this conference next year. I’m still working on unpacking all of the material we covered and adjusting my own perspective on what a career in writing looks like. Did you know that there were 1.4 million new books released last year? Of those books less than 1% became best sellers. Despite the growing abundance of literature available, the pool of readers is shrinking.

I can’t remember a time I wasn’t around books. I distinctly remember wanting to read a book my brother and older cousin had been looking through. When I couldn’t figure out the words on the page I memorized what I’d heard them say, and most likely adlibbed my own contributions. I still remember the looks on their faces as I “read” the story. I believe I missed some words, but I desperately wanted to know how to read that book on my own.

Books and stories transport us to places we might not otherwise visit. We can travel to schools for wizards, hang out with mythical creatures, and watch a character grow throughout the pages of a story. If you’re like me, you have a few shelves in your home where books sit and wait for you to pick them up again whenever you’re ready to visit that world. The benefits of reading are numerous and everyone should have the opportunity to personally reap the rewards.

I distinctly remember the books my children asked for day after day after day. We could quote the entire book from cover to cover before they finally moved on to a new story. But that’s part of the beauty of reading. The repetition of language and the confidence in understanding content help little ones become more comfortable with the written word. Stories help organize thoughts and encourage creativity. Unfortunately, not every child has access to books.


First Book is an organization that wants to put books in the hands of children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to call a book their own. They have provided more than 120 million new books to schools and programs serving children in need. (Source: http://www.firstbook.org/get-involved#sthash.E8IrVeAX.dpuf) If we want to cultivate a love of learning in our younger generations, access to books and literature is critical. Everyone deserves the ability to travel wherever they want to go, to hear from voices alive and well in stories, and to be inspired by a quote or idea. Let’s help our young bookworms learn to love the adventure of reading. Let’s show them the wonder that waits for them in the pages. We should all have that beautiful memory of trekking through our first story day after day after day.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Winter

My house has been full of life this week. Winter has a way of bringing people together in a way that summer will never understand. Summer has the flashy appeal of long days with carefree nights, fireflies, and the nostalgic scents of sunscreen and chlorine. It's a delightful assault on the senses with everything from fireworks to homemade ice cream to the juice of a freshly plucked peach dribbling down your chin. Seasons are memories and summer threatens to hoard the majority. Winter is quiet. Winter forces everyone inside while it shimmers and dazzles from the other side of the window. While the company is pleasant, it doesn't always allow for a quiet moment to curl up somewhere and write without interruption. So rather than type out a witty, informative, or remotely substantial blog, I invite you to experience my week of winter.





Baked apples with fresh cream. This is how you winter.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again."― Lewis CarrollAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass