Tuck and Roll

Oh, publishing. You saucy minx, you. Just when you think you’ve got a good grasp on what’s going on in this world, you find yourself taking a sharp left turn and careening off into the unknown.

It’s not news that in order to navigate the world of publishing, you have to be a bit flexible. Okay, a LOT flexible. There are so many moving parts, it’s tough to keep track of everything and everyone sometimes. Even in the early stages, figuring out how to work with critique partners, and then an agent (if you choose the traditional route), then an editor. Beyond that, the number of people with an opinion on what happens with your book only continues to grow. Sometimes you’ll agree, and sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you won’t have any idea what you think because you’re indecisive. (Just me?)

That has been the case for me in 2016 especially. Earlier this year, we made the decision that my book, THE GIRL BEFORE (releasing August 9, 2016, less than 4 months from now*), would come out directly to trade paperback. At the same time, there were rumblings of a redesign of the original cover, which I have always loved.

My reaction to big changes like this is typically FULL STOP NO. I was comfortable where I was, with how things were panning out. Everything was going so smoothly, and these proposals almost derailed me.

Here’s the thing, though. People who have been in publishing a long time? They’re smart. Like, really smart, and savvy, and they know what they’re doing. I trust my publisher implicitly, so even though I was wary, I listened, and I agreed with the direction they were taking me.

I’m actually super pumped about the format change. Going straight to trade paper will drop the price and get my book in the hands of more people. And while a beautiful hardcover is something I’ve always longed for, what I want even more is to share Clara’s story with the world. The reasons behind the decision made a lot of sense, and I’m very happy with it. It’s a fantastic opportunity.

Even better…that cover redesign? I was SO NERVOUS. But…

The Girl Before

BOOM

LOOK AT IT! Gah, I love it sooooo much! The first design was fantastic, but everyone I’ve shown this design to has had the same reaction I did. A gasp, a “WOW,” an unidentifiable animal noise. (I had all three.)

So here’s the lesson of the day. While you do need to be thoughtful about making changes at any stage of your book-making, it’s important to be open and flexible, and consider whether suggestions are coming from those that are probably a lot wiser than in you in many areas. It’s tempting to want to run and hide or stand staunchly in familiar territory, but instead of ignoring the possibilities laid before you, tuck and roll, embrace the unfamiliar, and enjoy the ride as much as you can.

*shameless self promotion

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Sink or Float. Literally.

2016 has been…challenging, to say the least. In pretty much every area of my life. I’m not writing this to complain, because goodness knows I am blessed beyond words in so many ways. But what I’ve had to remind myself is that even when there are blessings, it’s okay to have struggles. It’s okay to admit when you’re not okay. As family stress and work stress and writing stress continued to rise, I was ignoring that advice. I was pushing it all down and putting on a happy face, all the while gritting my teeth until I could take a vacation.

Of course, after vacation, everything was still waiting for me. And my body was telling me it wasn’t okay.

BPM

Guess when my vacation was

Last weekend, after a particularly disastrous and stressful event, I decided it was time to take charge and make some changes to address my constant high levels of stress. I can’t change a lot of it, but I can change how I react to it.

I was talking to my friend Andrea, and she said she had been considering floating. I’d heard about this, actually researched last summer. It’s fascinating all the benefits that are said to come from floating. Stress relief, relief from chronic pain, increased creativity…all those things and more were appealing to me. So I thought, why not?

Some of you may be wondering what floating is. Maybe not as a general term, but as a therapy. Basically, it’s sensory deprivation. You climb into a tank with about ten inches of water highly saturate with Epsom salts. You close the door to the tank, turn off the little light inside, and the salt in the water allows you to float effortlessly. So you do. For an hour and a half.

Half of you are intrigued, and half of you are probably having vicarious claustrophobic episodes. I’ll wait while you recover.

I went to Fadeaway Floatation here in the Des Moines area. The lady I talked to on the phone was super nice, and the guy who gave me the rundown was also very helpful. The directions were clear, and everything you could possibly think of was provided, down to contact solution and a hair dryer.

So here’s my little run-down of my first floating experience. First, the accommodations:

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Looks kind of like a washing machine. Wash away your stress!

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The water is so clear. I left the little light on for a bit, but did turn it off eventually.

I know. It seems creepy, but there’s no latch on the door, and it’s really quite cozy, like being back in the womb. I assume. I don’t really remember that stage of my life.

Anyway.

I showered, then climbed in, propping the door to the tank a bit with a towel because it was MIGHTY steamy in there. The water is skin temperature, in order to decrease the ability to know where the water is. You’re supposed to have the sensation of floating without distractions like different temperatured water. Below is an estimated timeline of my 90 minutes in the tank.

1:00: This is weird. The water feels weird. What if someone comes in?

3:00: Wait. I’m supposed to be relaxing. I’m doing it wrong. I can’t even relax right. What’s the point of this if I don’t do it perfectly?
5:00: Okay. I’m sort of comfy. What am I supposed to think about? Maybe I should meditate. Ommmmm. Ommmmm. WHAT IS THAT? Oh, it’s my hair, never mind. Ommmmm…

7:00: Do I always breathe so loud? Is that my heart beating? Why does it sound so far away? Am I already reaching nirvana? Are my senses all wonky? Is this how it ends?

10:00: I cannot do this for an hour and a half. How long has it been? Probably an hour. Maybe two. Maybe they forgot to tell me to get out. Maybe I’m stuck here forever.

12:00: Seriously, who can just lay here for that long? Maybe if I was at the lake, on a floaty, in the sunshine, but in a dark tank there’s no one to hear you scream.

30:00: I’M A MERMAID *swishing hair* *bouncing from top of tank to bottom*

45:00: I really should blog about this

90:00: *music begins* What? Already? Five more minutes?

Conclusion: Weird. So much salt. But it has potential. I bought a package of sessions, as they say that you need at least 2-3 to really get a feel for it. The guy at the desk told me his second session was profoundly different from his first. I’m not sure how often you go, but I’ll make another appointment in a few weeks.

There are some other things I’m working on to lower my stress levels. I’m trying to think outside the box, find things I haven’t tried before, shock my body into behaving and being calm. We’ll see how that works 🙂

If you’d like to know more about floating in general, check out fadeawayfloatation.com for more information on the benefits of the practice.

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Looking out for Number 1

I’m typing this on my phone while sitting in a lodge at Heifer International Ranch, outside Perryville, Arkansas. That’s right, folks, I’m on vacation, so this isn’t even a real post.

I had considered skipping posting this week at all, because vacation, but I wanted to pop in and remind everyone that it’s not only okay to take a break and take care of yourself, it’s imperative. 

I have been stressed almost to my breaking point for months. Always trying to do the next thing, help the next person, be the best at everything. Add in family and personal struggles and even my body was rebelling against the insanity.

And I’m not alone. 

It seems like every day I’m having the conversation with someone about how busy and stressed they are and how much they need a vacation. How they feel guilty taking a vacation because there are people counting on them.

I’m the same way. I’ve always taken on so much that in the end I wasn’t being helpful to anyone. This week especially I was feeling like I’m just pretty much horrible at my job, horrible at writing, horrible at life. 

So I gave myself permission to step back and appreciate the good things that I’d done. I brainstormed some good interventions with some of my therapists. I was able to support a colleague through some difficult situations. I picked my audiobook narrator. I made some big and exciting decisions about The Girl Before, which I will hopefully be able to share in the coming weeks. I turned in my MS for my next book three weeks ahead of deadline. It’s a book that I labored over and I’m proud of the end product, no matter how much my brain tries to tell me it’s terrible. My brother-in-law is reading TGB and can’t put it down, and it’s opened up some really interesting conversations.

The title of this blog is “Looking Out For Number 1.” I don’t mean that in a selfish way, at least not completely. I don’t mean that you infringe on the rights of others. I don’t mean that you ignore things that are important. What I mean is that sometimes we need to sit back and think about what’s really important. What has to be done RIGHT NOW. I bet if we were honest, a lot of the things we stress over would seem a lot smaller. 

I should have my first round of edits for Book 2 in a week or so. I’m also on vacation for the next week, which works out well. Here are the things I’m giving myself permission to do:

1) Sleep in, no matter how silly my nieces and nephews think it is.

2) Read for hours. I did this yesterday and it was beautiful. 

3) Sit. Even on vacation there’s pressure to GO GO GO and DO ALL THE THINGS. I call BS. I will go for walks and enjoy the beautiful 80 degree Arkansas weather, but I will also sit and enjoy freedom from responsiblity for a few days.

4) Not worry about Fitbit stats and steps and who has the most stars. Stress about my body can take a break for a few days.

5) Write what I want. Play around with words for no reason other than the sheer joy of it. Try on some different genres and styles with no expectations.

So that’s my list. That’s how I’m looking out for myself this week. How are you looking out for you?

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Let’s get this party started

Happy Monday, everyone! I don’t have a real topic for today’s post. In fact, I’m writing it during my lunch break because I was up until 1am revising yesterday. Today? I don’t know. Basically I’m on a personal deadline, the first of which I already missed (March 1), and coming up on an actual deadline (April 1), so we’re kicking it into hyperdrive. I got through 150 pages, about 19 chapters, yesterday, but it was mostly stuff I’d been through before. The second half will be the most work, and the weekend is my deadline, since that’s when I leave for vacation! Woohoo! So pretty much I’m not sleeping this week, which is where this comes in handy:

surge

I bought out the gas station’s stock

 

Last year during spring break I was starting work on some major edits for THE GIRL BEFORE. And now, almost a year later…

Book pile

TA-DA

I was super stoked to get my ARCs in the mail last week! They’re real! And book-shaped! And they have my  name on them!

Saturday I got the opportunity to go down to the local independent bookstore in Des Moines, Beaverdale Books, and meet with the owner, Alice. She is super sweet, and it was the perfect first conversation with a bookseller about my book. I also got to speak with my amazing publicist, Karen, last week, and I realized I have a lot of work to do in order to train myself on the marketing side of this book thing. I’m excited and a little terrified about what comes next, but it’s a good kind of terrified. I think.

I also got to thinking about where I was two years ago. Two years ago, I hadn’t even finished THE GIRL BEFORE. I was writing it in spurts, one scene at a time, feeling like it might be something special, wondering if I was crazy. And probably I was. I broke a lot of “rules” while writing TGB. I went with my gut, told the story the way Clara, the main character, told me it needed to be told.

Two years before that, I was just starting my querying journey. I was still two books away from TGB. Two years of rejection and rewriting and entering contests and finding people who helped me improve my craft.

Two years before that, I began writing my very first novel. I’d stuck to short stories before that (though some of my school teachers would argue with the “short” part…brevity is not my gift). That novel is completely unpublishable, and only a couple people have ever read it, but I still love it because it was my beginning. My origin story. And maybe I’ll harvest some of my favorite parts for a later book. Because it wasn’t all bad.

A lot can change in two years. A lot can change in two months. I guess my point in all of this is the repeated mantra of pretty much every author I’ve ever spoken to:

NEVER GIVE UP.

Book pile 2

Who knows what’s right around the corner?

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A different life

This weekend, I spent Saturday doing normal things. I slept in, I read a bit, I went to the grocery store, I cleaned my house. I had a friend over and we watched Fuller House and laughed until we cried. It was a lovely day, and I barely even thought about writing.

Barely.

In the midst of all of that, I did get to thinking about what life would have been like if this writing bug hadn’t bitten. If I had never decided to write a book, or try to get published, that would be a fairly typical weekend day for me. Being lazy, and then being productive. A good mix. Being social, taking time to take care of myself.

If I wasn’t a writer, my house would be cleaner. Maybe even unpacked from my move seven months ago. Maybe I would have pictures up on the walls, and my Christmas decorations would have been back in storage January 1 instead of February 27.

If I wasn’t a writer, my Fitbit would probably give me more stars for sleeping. I would get more than 5-6 hours of sleep a night. I would feel rested at work.

If I wasn’t a writer, I could take more time to focus on fitness and getting in shape. I wouldn’t feel guilty for taking an hour to walk or do yoga or hula hoop.

If I wasn’t a writer, I could binge-watch shows guilt-free. My computer wouldn’t glare at me, reminding me of the book I have due in a month. I could say yes to all social engagements, or say no, but just to stay home in my pajamas.

If I wasn’t a writer, I could turn off my brain after 8-10 hours of working an emotionally taxing day job. I wouldn’t have to psych myself up to try to produce or fix thousands of words when I get home. Maybe I would cook more. Cook healthier.

If I wasn’t a writer, I would have stories and characters just bouncing around inside my head with no place to go. Alternatively, my head might be a very quiet and boring place.

If I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t have met some pretty amazing people. I would be less aware of the world, still bumbling around in my own little bubble.

If I wasn’t a writer, I would be forced to live one life and one life only. I would never be a spy or a southern belle or a serial killer (that last one is probably okay).

If I wasn’t a writer, life would be less colorful, a lot more boring.

If I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t have learned the satisfaction that comes from succeeding at something after failing many times over. I wouldn’t have learned to push myself to continue when things didn’t come easy. I wouldn’t have gained the confidence needed to put myself out there, knowing I did the best I could. 

If I wasn’t a writer, I would probably still shy away from the tougher things in life.

If I wasn’t a writer, things might be easier. I wouldn’t have to work so hard, I wouldn’t have that constant simmering guilt whenever I’m not writing, and my stress level would probably be a lot lower.

But.

Even if I can talk about it in theory, I honestly can’t imagine a life where I’m not a writer. I always have been, and I always will be. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Are you sure you belong?

It’s been a minute since I wrote a blog here. I have many reasons. Family health issues, super-sized stresses at the day job, a case of the winter wearies… But none of that matters, because I’m here! Back and ready to bring happiness to everyone’s life by talking about Impostor Syndrome!

The past year has brought a lot of really awesome things into my life. Each time something new pops up, I’m elated, ready to share exciting news with friends and family, pinching myself to make sure it’s real. Just this past week, I got word that THE GIRL BEFORE got a brief mention in the Wall Street Journal. The freaking WALL STREET JOURNAL, you guys.

WSJ.png

Can you see me?

 

And yet.

I got a message today from a friend who teaches at the school I used to work at. She said that she went to a local independent bookstore to preorder my book and when the owner looked it up, she got very excited about whatever her top secret bookseller site said about my book and wants to connect with me about doing an event there. It was all very very positive.

And yet.

I’m into the revisions portion for Book 2, tentatively titled THE GAME. I’ve had some pretty positive feedback along with really helpful critiques that I think will help it become even better before I turn it in to my editor, which I’m hoping to do ahead of deadline.

And yet.

Every time something amazing happens, there’s a small voice that starts up. Whispers of doubt dance behind every smile, every thank you. “You’re a fraud.” “They’re just being nice.” “None of this will last.” And on and on and on. It’s pretty annoying, actually.

Not to sound like a school essay, but Wikipedia (the premier site for accurate research) says the term “Impostor Syndrome” refers to “high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internal high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as ‘fraud.’ Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”

Sound familiar to anyone else?

I’m still trying hard to find that balance between being proud of my accomplishments but not to the point of bragging. The problem is that, to me, mentioning my accomplishments at all feels like bragging. Of course, this only applies to me. I want to hear the awesome things everyone else has going on.

Thankfully, as I’ve mentioned before, I have lots of people around willing to knock some sense into me, to remind me that my accomplishments are worth sharing, and to call me out when I’m minimizing the things that I’ve done. It’s a slow process, but I’m working on it.

I’m less than six months out from my release date, which means that the next few months are going to be full of promoting my book not only to family and friends, but to people I don’t know. Going to bookstores and libraries and introducing myself. Telling people not just that they should read my book, but why. Going to at least one conference and networking. Doing interviews. Possibly wearing a sandwich board and walking around the mall. (I’m just spit-balling here but that sounds like a thing people do right? I’m going to be great at promo.) So I have to get better. And I will.


I hope.

There’s no cure for Impostor Syndrome. It’s one of those things that can be controlled, but is always lurking. I was thinking this week about how so many favorite book/movie/TV characters are the underdogs. The ones who just don’t fit in. And I got to wondering why that is. I had three different people tell me this week that they admire how together I am, how I manage to juggle everything that’s going on and still get things done. And I just laughed and laughed because, in my own mind, I am a hot mess. My theory is that we all see ourselves as the outsider, the one who is just putting on a good face. And we all secretly want to save the world.

So maybe the first step is getting out of our own way. I’m game if you are!

 

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Hermitlife

It’s cold out.

I don’t mean the cold where you pull your coat around you a little tighter, shift your scarf up over your nose, can see each exhale as it freezes and rises toward the clear winter sky.

No.

This is the cold where your face hurts, your lungs ache, your nose always runs and/or boogers freeze your nose hairs stiff, where no amount of layers can really keep you from experiencing some level of bone-penetrating chill. Where you warm up for the five minutes it takes you to shower, and are frozen again in minutes because cold air on wet skin only hurries the process.

This is the Midwest, and winter is finally upon us. I’ll admit, I had my doubt that it would ever actually show up, and I was totally fine with it. 30s and 40s I can handle. Negative numbers? Negative.

A funny thing happens when the weather gets to this point. See, during the warm months, I’m rarely home. Maybe one night a week I go straight home from work and settle in for the evening. But in winter…ohhhh, in winter, I don’t leave the house unless I have to. Unless I’m being paid to leave.

Most years, that is a slight exaggeration. But this year I find myself clinging to home more than ever. Partly by necessity. I have a book to finish and edit, and it’s definitely not getting done if I’m gone. So I’m turning down plans left and right and sitting in front of my computer, squeezing words out until my eyes won’t focus on the computer screen anymore.

Here’s the problem with my hermiting this time around. I am self-aware enough to know that I’m somewhat using my writing as an excuse to ignore the other things going on in life. Work is insanely stressful. There are some family medical issues going on that are under control but still scary. And sometimes it’s just too exhausting to go out into the world and pretend that everything is hunky-dory (did I spell that right? Does it even matter?). And I do have to pretend, because I’ve learned that it makes people extremely uncomfortable if I admit that I don’t always have it all together. They edge away, stop calling, find excuses to justify not checking in. And that works for me, because it feeds my need to stay at home in my own little nest.

Thankfully I’ve had some good friends who live in my computer who have checked on me, who realize this is not good hermiting. Even if they can’t be here in person to drag me out into the miserable cold kicking and screaming, they are there, telling me I’m not alone.

The upside of the hermit life is that I am getting super close to being done with this book! Yay! Never quite fast enough, and unfortunately my creative peak comes somewhere around 1-2am, which really doesn’t work for my dayjob schedule. But we do what we have to for our art, yeah? Hopefully soon enough I can be back on a normal schedule, and back to my normal self, which in itself is fairly abnormal, but in a charming way.

DSCN0111

Stay warm, friends! Spring will be here soon!

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First things first

Last week I hosted my first holiday at my house. Usually Christmas is spent in Ankeny, but at my sister’s house. This year, since I have my own house, it was my turn. And I learned just how woefully unprepared I was to host any sort of gathering at my house.

I live alone. I use what I need and I’m not used to anticipating the needs of others, at least not at my house, beyond getting them a drink and a snack. “Rena, get a basket for the bread,” was met with tears of laughter (from me) at the thought that my dad just assumed I had a basket sitting around just waiting for its chance to hold a loaf of fancy bread. I improvised with a plastic mixing bowl because I’m classy like that.

In fact, I improvised a lot of things that day. I didn’t have enough chairs, or an extra table to put the food on, since my dining room table is teeny. I didn’t have fancy bowls for the jelly, or special serving utensils. My plates didn’t match, although I did manage to find 7 matching forks. My dad wanted wine, and he got it…in a water glass.

But it didn’t matter. We still had a wonderful Christmas. Sure, some parts were patched together, and it didn’t look as pretty or polished as those magazine spreads or movie scenes, but it was ours. And now I have a better idea of what I will need before I take on the challenge of hosting again.

This year has been a crazy year of firsts. I started the year by accepting my first book deal, which came with its own myriad of firsts. I accepted a promotion to the supervisor position at my job, which is a first in a way. I bought my first house, dealt with my first home repairs, bought my first new furniture (I lived a little like a hobo for a while), hired my first accountant, attended a new church for the first time in a couple years…so many new adventures.

And not all of them went perfectly. Anytime you enter into something new, try something for the first time, there’s no way to be fully prepared. You can read things, make lists, do research, but in the end, the only way to be ready is to DO THE THING. I’ve had to improvise constantly throughout the year. Patch together situations, think on my feet, deal with situations I didn’t feel fully prepared for.

Despite the bumps along the way, every first this year has been amazing. Are there things I will do differently next time? Absolutely! I learned a lot about myself, about the way things work in all areas of my life. But I still wouldn’t trade those first experiences. Even the bad ones. (Okay, maybe some of the bad ones.) Every experience contributes to who I am, and who I will become.

This coming year will be filled with many more firsts. My first book release day, and every first that comes with that. I don’t even know most of the firsts that will come, which is both terrifying and exciting.

When I think about this point last year, I would NEVER have guessed I would be where I am now. If you’d asked me, I would have predicted that I would still be in my apartment, still working as a school-based therapist in my same school, and, if I was dreaming, I would have suggested that maybe I would have a book deal. MAYBE.

2015 was a good year. Not because of all the things that happened, but because it was a year of growth and change. Some of that growth and change was painful, some was delightful. I had some really high highs, and some of the lowest lows I’ve experienced in years. I think that’s why I have a hard time at this point in the year when everyone is talking about how horrible the year was and how they can’t wait to get to next year. My guess is that next year isn’t going to be much better if you can only see the negative from this year. And yeah, I realize that I’m speaking from a place of having had an overall spectacular year. But I’ve had difficult years too. Really difficult. And I would never want to get rid of them or forget them.

Each year is full of firsts and lasts, ups and downs, tragedy and possibility. When challenges arise, I encourage you to do what I did for my Christmas dinner: Improvise! You never know what might happen 🙂

Happy New Year, my loves! See you next year!

new-year-8

 

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Lean on me

Almost two weeks ago, I headed up to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. It was a low-key affair. We ordered Hy-Vee catering for the dinner, and the kids spent the day trashing the house and doing crafts. And then on Friday, we took my mom to the hospital. (Spoiler alert: She was there three days and is now doing better than she has in months, praise God!)

While I waited with her in the ER, I did the only thing I could. I sent emails and messages to friends and church people requesting prayers. I posted on social media requesting the same, as the Twitter community especially has become such a source of support in so many ways.

It’s interesting when you’re in those situations. People you never expected to be able to count on are there, checking in, making sure the entire family is doing okay, and while you get crickets from those who you thought would be among the first responders to your call.

And I get it. It’s so hard sometimes to know what to say to someone who is in a difficult situation. It seems like words cannot possibly be enough. So instead silence seems as good a response as any.

It reminds me of writing world as well. I’ve talked before about surrounding yourself with strong supports in this crazy world, but what about when you are called on to be that support for someone else? How do you respond when someone tells you they got another rejection? Or made it into a contest but got zero requests? The road toward publishing is full of ups and downs and a myriad of strong emotions, and trying to track with people can often be difficult.

So in writing, and in life, here are a few tips to be that support person.

  1. DON’T stay silent. You don’t have to come up with the perfect words. You don’t have to come up with the perfect solution. In fact, usually it’s best if you don’t try to “fix” whatever situation your friend is in. Something as simple as, “I’m sorry this is happening” or “I’m thinking of you” can be powerful. It’s a terribly lonely feeling to be going through something rough. Knowing there are those out there thinking and praying for the situation can make a dent in that loneliness.
  2. DO reach out. This pretty much echos the above statement. I think it’s easy for us to feel like we’re bothering someone who is going through rejection or hardship. We don’t want to add to the burden. You’re not. Trust me.
  3. DON’T take it personally if your friend doesn’t respond right away or even at all. It took me a few days to respond to the texts and emails I received last weekend. Some I didn’t get a chance to respond to, from Bible study friends and such. I was so appreciative of those who reached out, but in the midst of everything it was hard to respond to everything.
  4. DO check your own feelings. Are you staying silent because of something in your own life? Or are you reaching out out of obligation? I know I said before not to stay silent, but if you are only reaching out because you have to and your heart isn’t in it, I would rather you ignore.
  5. DO LISTEN. I think this is the most important thing you can do. You don’t even have to respond with more than a few words like the examples above.

I think there are many reasons people don’t know how to support others. Sometimes it’s because it’s an unfamiliar situation to them, and they don’t want to make those trite statements people are prone to make in awkward situations. (“Everything happens for a reason” and the like.) Sometimes it’s because the situation is a bit TOO familiar and they’re dealing with their own trauma, reawakened by your tough situation. Sometimes, and I think this happens in writing world a lot, they can totally relate, but either they’re in the same situation or they’ve moved forward and don’t feel like they have the right to try to comfort those still in an earlier stage of the journey.

While all of those are valid reasons for holding back support, I believe there are ways to work within each of them. And the main point is that every one of the reasons has to do with yourself and not the person who is looking for support. If we can focus outward, instead of worrying about how it will make us look or what someone will think of us, finding a good way to show that support will come much easier.

Look, I get it. It’s difficult to be everything to everyone, and you don’t have to be. Goodness knows I’ve tried. But think about those people in your circle who you count on, and make sure that, at least for them, you’re able to find a way to make sure they can count on you as well.

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Eyes on your own path

I had a lovely surprise this weekend when I discovered that my book is up on Goodreads and Amazon! I hadn’t been sure when it was going up, but seeing it on there was magical. Every step of this process towards publication has moved closer and closer to feeling like a real thing that’s going to happen. My book is going to be a thing. People are going to hold it and read it and snuggle it. (Okay, maybe only I will snuggle it.)

Of course, then come those moments of OMG PEOPLE ARE GOING TO READ MY BOOK. It’s thrilling and terrifying at the same time. But that’s a neurotic post for another time.

In the meantime, I’ve updated my book page. Check it out.

Seeing this next step in the journey realized has gotten me thinking about the various paths I’ve seen my friends take down the long road to publication. I feel so blessed to know so many talented authors, some published, some not yet to that point. Some journeys are vastly different, like the difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing. Neither is better or worse. They’re just different. Some more a little more similar, such as publishing with small presses or large, but there are still many differences.

What has really fascinated me is talking with others on the most similar path to my own. (Since that is the only path I have personal experience in.) I’m blessed to be publishing traditionally with a Big 5 publisher. I have several friends in the same position, with different publishers and imprints. And every publisher, every imprint, does things a little differently. Edits come quickly or may take longer. Covers are discussed before edits are finished or after. Marketing, cover reveals, all the planning that goes into getting those books on the shelves (and oh my gracious I had no idea how much goes into this process, it’s incredible!), all are different depending on the press.

This is where that same advice that we’ve heard from the time we were baby queriers comes in.

Keep your eyes on your own paper.

It’s easy to look at what someone else is doing and compare it to our own journey. To think the path they’re on is better or worse than the one we’re traveling. The thing is, that helps no one. Comparing yourself won’t get you a bump in the editorial line. It won’t make your cover reveal or release date come any sooner. All it will do is cause anxiety and insecurity, which goodness knows writers already have plenty of.

This goes for life too, not just writing world. As long as you’re moving forward, doing what you need to do for your own journey in life or in writing, that has to be good enough. A life lived in a constant state of comparison or envy is exhausting. Eyes forward. Stick to your own goals. Stop worrying so much about what everyone else is doing.

Since I didn’t have a big cover reveal, and in case you didn’t click on the link above, check out my cover and book description below. I can’t wait to share Clara’s story with the world. It’s out AUGUST 9, 2016!

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In this powerful psychological suspense debut, when a woman’s life is shattered, she is faced with a devastating question: What if everything she thought was normal and good and true . . . wasn’t?

Clara Lawson is torn from her life in an instant. Without warning, her home is invaded by armed men, and she finds herself separated from her beloved husband and daughters. The last thing her husband yells to her is to say nothing.

In chapters that alternate between past and present, the novel slowly unpeels the layers of Clara’s fractured life. We see her growing up, raised with her sisters by the stern Mama and Papa G, becoming a poised and educated young woman, falling desperately in love with the forbidden son of her adoptive parents. We see her now, sequestered in an institution, questioned by men and women who call her a different name—Diana—and who accuse her husband of unspeakable crimes. As recollections of her past collide with new revelations, Clara must question everything she thought she knew, to come to terms with the truth of her history and to summon the strength to navigate her future.

Amazon

Goodreads

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