A New Direction

2015-09-28 18.40.17It’s been a while…

I’ve spent the past few years in writing limbo. Sadly, a series of events in my personal life pulled me away from my storytelling. I didn’t completely abandon writing, but I started to drift into a new direction. I learned modern calligraphy, worked on crafts, and even started painting again. Along the way, I followed my heart and took a spiritual journey that would eventually breathe life back into me and my writing.

Truthfully, I was scared—terrified I would never write again. I started to wonder if I’d ever get back to that familiar routine when I was able to write at least 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. All during my break, the writing industry changed, publishers merged or folded, and many of my friends morphed into hybrid or indie authors. I was also affected by the shake up when my publishers closed or transitioned. I received my rights back on several projects and managed to re-release those books to readers who hadn’t read them before. My heart sunk and my head swirled from the constant changes in publishing. Well, with all that was happening, it was a reality check for me. I suppose I’d always loved writing contemporaries even though I started my career writing paranormal romances. Even now, this is hard to talk about—only a few knew about this…but the most difficult decision I ever made was to walk away from a three book contract for my paranormal series. I truly truly respect and hold high regards for this well known publisher and talented editor, yet it just wasn’t fair to me (or to them) to proceed with the contract if I couldn’t put 100% effort into my projects. It was an overwhelming time for me dealing with the loss of my father, depression, and declining health. I knew my heart just wasn’t in it. The most important thing that I needed to do was to get healthy again. Mentally and physically. Do I regret it? All the time. I can’t turn back time. I can only move forward and hope I won’t lose any more opportunities.

I’m happy to say that I’m in a much better place now. Grateful is a term I use every day. I can honestly say that by embracing and accepting my weaknesses, forgiving myself, I was able to find internal peace. The life-changing lesson I learned was that even though there are things in life I had no control over, I had the power to control my own happiness. I began to cut toxic people out of my life. I did my best to always help others without expecting anything in return. I immersed myself in learning and becoming an individual that I’d always wanted to be. The best part of all? I discovered a real happiness. The kind that led me to a great man and a new life path. Now that things have finally fallen into place, I’m able to get back to my first passion…writing.

My calendar is always filled up these days but I’m so excited about my future. I’m ecstatic about the stories I’ll be penning, and experimenting with the different genres. I’ll still weave sexy tales of love, however, I’m focusing more on sweeter romances. Those are the ones that I’ve always wanted to write. Hopefully someday I’ll get back to my screenwriting roots. Heck, I’m proud to admit I’m obsessed with Hallmark movies so I wouldn’t mind penning one. It’s totally on my bucket list! Until then, I’m putting my all into a project that’s been in my heart. One I need to wrap up for my agent.

Now about the re-design of my website…I wanted to showcase my new direction with a more romantic theme that embodies the beauty and magic of love. Whether I choose to write non-fiction, contemporary, historical, young adult, new adult or paranormal romance…this makeover simply felt right. I hope you love it as much as I do! I’d love your feedback.  **Crossing fingers**

Lastly, I can only say that without my readers support, I wouldn’t have had the strength to create again. THANK YOU for all your emails and outpouring of love. I’m truly grateful. Your daily interaction was what kept me going. Without you—I’d be lost. I hope you’ll continue traveling with me on this new journey. I look forward to releasing many many many more feel good romances and uplifting non-fiction! Stay tuned.

Love conquers all…

Jax_siggyRED

Abandon Fears

steinbeckOn The Playlist: I LIVED by One Republic

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I had to make many tough decisions in my life, but one of the toughest ones happened recently. It’s funny how everything you thought you’ve wanted can change, your priorities shift, and you find out that the things that make you happy is really pretty simple.

Writing has been a struggle. Months go by and I can barely squeeze out a page or two. Yet I continue to sit at my desk to will myself to type. Anything. Some days I stare at a blank page and other days I’m fortunate enough to get words down, no matter how crappy they seem in my head. I know if I stop trying to write…I fear I may simply not write. Ever. Again.

This is an ongoing battle writers fight. Life can be stressful and it impacts every part of us. The fear is definitely always there in the back of my mind. The fear of not producing something amazing. I used to write simply because my stories wanted to come out. I wrote for myself, then I wrote for my readers. The more books I put out, the more I noticed that I’m one of those authors that reaches a limited audience and then flatlines. That’s when I started to question myself. That’s when I wondered if my writing simply sucks. Trust me, I’ve read some horribly written books and I always thought I was a better writer than that. Heck, when my head is already filled with insecurities, it’s easy to believe that maybe I am a sucky writer after all. Sucky writer = lack of audience. So what’s the use of putting out more books?

That’s when I realized I needed to step away from deadlines and start from scratch. Start writing for myself again. Back then, I was fearless. When I didn’t give a shit. If someone read my story, great. If no one read them, it was fine with me. Finishing a book was an accomplishment. It made me a better person. It made me see that I wasn’t a quitter. That I persevered. That I achieved something for ME. Wow, I miss that feeling. The adrenaline, the excitement one gets when reaching the very last word―the end of a novel. Pop the cork on the champagne bottle and hand me a box of Ferraro Rocher!

Yep. Writing was therapeutic for me. It was the only thing I felt that I did well. Believe me, I’m one of those type of people who wants to do everything, but never excelled at anything. I get easily distracted, and when I’m frustrated, I move onto something else. Some arts and craft project which would lead me back to the keyboard… SO. Here I am, back at the beginning as I mentioned. I’m working on a story that’s sort of painful to write. It’s dark and it’s beautiful in the sense that the heroine is broken but she’s not going to give up. She’s going to do whatever she can to survive. I’ve decided after this book I’m going to write more upbeat stories but there’s something about this one that I look forward to finishing. I want to delve into the darkness, to draw out all the emotions of my characters and hopefully prove to myself that I can tell a good story.

Whether or not I find and audience, I’m okay with that. I want to challenge myself. I want to write for the pure love of it. I want to feel that rush of finally reaching THE END.

Redirection

happiness_lifeOn The Playlist: SHAKE IT OUT by Florence + The Machine

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I struggle every day with words.

At one time, I had the ability to crank out up to 50 pages or more in a day! It’s the truth. I could also finish a project in a weekend and work simultaneously on two or three books at the same time. Then life happened. Thus, began the slow decline of my writing schedule. The fire slowly smothered by all the stress and responsibilities, the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’ve tried so hard to get that flame back, just so I can build it up again, turn it into an inferno… Easier said than done.

Some days I can barely spit out a page. Some days I sit all day and stare at a blank screen. The words are locked in the recesses of my mind. I know there’s thousands of ideas and stories in there, but they’re trapped in mental limbo. I’m not really a crier. I hold things in, I don’t break easily, and I try to stay strong through all adversity—but frankly, there were nights when I cried myself to sleep wondering if I would ever get back to that place again.

Will I ever complete a novel again?

No, I’m not ready for the answer to that question. Even though I’d entertained the thought of retiring my writing career. Deep down, I knew I couldn’t walk away from a dream I’ve had since childhood. I finally made a decision…I’m going to pull up my big girl panties and own writing again. I just needed to remind myself that I love storytelling. I love my readers. I love creating something that I’m proud of—even if reviewers aren’t too fond of my voice. I know I need to let go of those demons—the insecurities, self-doubt and so on—but it’s something all writers deal with frequently. It’s something I needed to accept and move on from. Even when I thought I’d conquered those pesky obstacles…they have a way of sprouting back up…Although it’s been a few years since I’ve produced a new book, I have a lot of catch up to do in 2015. I have readers who are waiting on me and I can’t let them wait any longer. The past isn’t going to get me down and I’m making choices that will redirect me, set me on the right path.

I’ll be honest, 2014 wasn’t all bad. This is a doozy…I finally caught Prince Charming. After years of being single, I managed to find a man who is exactly how I imagined my hero to be. I know no one’s perfect, but he embodies all the qualities I wanted in a partner. Supportive, kind, caring, funny, generous, loving, and so much more. He’s chivalrous more often than not, and he truly loves me regardless of my quirks and OCD-ness. He respects me and my career. Most importantly, his love saved me. I didn’t think I’d be able to get through the hardships if I didn’t have him to lean on. His strength became my strength. I’m so thankful and grateful the Universe sent him to me. I guess I’d resigned to being single forever but if I hadn’t taken that chance, we would’ve never met. I knew he was the one when he told me he wasn’t much of a reader, but read my entire book (and a few others) and really loved them. He found me talented and inspiring. It made me blush. The cherry on top was knowing that I’d turned a non-reader into a reader…that was the greatest reward.

Yes, I’m gushing. How can I not? No words can describe the happiness he’s given me. He taught me something valuable. He taught me to believe in myself. He is my biggest fan, my best friend. What more can I ask for in a relationship? So, there you have it…there is a happily-ever-after after all. There’s still so much more for us to experience on the horizon but I can happily say that 2015 is starting out to be a kick-ass year!

Readers, if you’re reading this…I’m back! The wait is over. Hope you stay for the ride. 🙂

The Unexpected

happinessOn The Playlist: TEE SHIRT by Birdy

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I would like to think I’m a pretty resilient person. I’ve lived life struggling more than reaping rewards. Every obstacle I overcome, every mountain I climb… I can only expel a temporary sigh of relief, because I know there’s always something dark lurking just around the corner. Terrible to think this way but if you walked a mile in my shoes you’d understand.

These past few years have taught me a lot about myself. This year especially.

I’m a positive personality type but I can honestly say earlier this year I was not in a good place. I’d been seriously thinking of quitting my writing career altogether. It was a few years coming, actually. Things just weren’t happening for me. My creativity was stifled, my life was upside down and I had faced a series of health scares that made me want to embrace living even more. I’ve always said life is short—I still believe it. I’m still going through health stuff but I’m taking it a day at a time.

You know that pivotal moment in your life when everything that can go wrong, does? Well, THAT.

So in the midst of all the crap-ton piles of stress surrounding me like a fort, something clicked in my head. I decided that I wasn’t going to live another day without making some sort of changes in my life. I know it will require dedication and sacrifices but I wasn’t going to crumble that easily. That’s when I started focusing on getting back in shape, eating better, and making myself a priority. I’ve let myself go long enough and physical health is just as important as mental health. I’m not saying it’ll happen overnight but I’m prepared for the challenge. I welcome it!

I guess what resonated with me was something someone once told me… “You can’t open yourself to love when you don’t love yourself.” That’s stuck with me. I suppose no one wants to admit that this is true…it’s something many people struggle with on a daily basis. Heck, I struggle with it myself for as long as I can remember. Just as I struggle with my depression and body image disorder…although all my friends believe I’m an eternal optimist, the truth is, I need to be optimistic in order to get through each day.

Fast forward to now… after all the hellacious muck I’ve endured, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. A series of wonderful and unexpected things happened. I was invited to be in the HOT SUMMER LOVE box set with some amazing authors: Cali MacKay, Evelyn Adams, Jean Oram, and Julie Farrell. Then more amazing things started to surround me, have kept building, and keeping me busy. In fact, all the self-doubt and fear started to fade. I found myself writing again…slowly…but it was better than not writing at all. Not long after, I received emails from readers and it definitely was a reminder that I was meant to write. Of course, there’s no running from bad reviews but I learned to accept them because my stories aren’t going to appeal to everyone…but when it does capture a reader’s heart, then that’s enough for me.

BUT…getting my writing mojo back wasn’t the only positive thing.

It turns out that, while I’d given up on the idea of ever dating again after disappointing results, HE walked into my life.

Like the romances I’ve written about, I was drawn to this flame. He brought back the laughter in my heart. He simply ‘gets’ me and embraces all my eccentricities. Being in a relationship with him is straight-forward, no games or mistrust. It’s the first time I’ve felt protected and safe. It’s the first time in a relationship where I felt like a priority. There’s an inexplicable connection that frightens me a little, but I’m just going to take it a day at a time. I’m not going to think too far ahead because I want to make memories that counts. Regardless of where things lead, these are good memories and I want to capture them like fireflies in a jar to light up my creativity—and my heart…

Start to Finish

getitdone

On The Playlist: DRUNK IN LOVE by Beyoncé – Drunk in Love ft. JAY Z

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I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of things. Prioritizing, organizing, productivity, completion… I used to never have a problem with getting things done but the past two years it’s proven to be more difficult than I’d remembered. I currently have several projects that I’m working on simultaneously, so needless to say, they’re all unfinished. There are days I just stare at a blank Word document, and even getting a few paragraphs down is torturous. Writing shouldn’t feel that way…writing has always come easily for me, flowed freely.

I’ve always said I don’t believe in writer’s block…I suppose after much analyzing, I discovered the source of my problems. Focus and Fear. Let me explain…

FOCUS: My biggest crutch is being a little scattered. I want to do everything that inspires me at the moment so I have too many options and no specific goal. I have a tendency to be an overachiever, but when it’s not garnering results, I need to stop and re-evaluate. So that’s what I’m doing…figuring out what is a priority and just tackle it. That’s when I mapped out a plan and I’m holding myself accountable for it. My goal is to increase my output and really get back into the writing rhythm that I once had. I’ve worked too damn hard to fall to pieces.

FEAR: My writing sucks. Not long ago I re-released a book I’d written in 2009 and it was a real eye-opener. The  current reviews were brutal. When the original version was released back then, I’d gotten 4 and 5 star reviews across the board from very reputable review sites including RT Book Reviews…I’d been so proud of myself since it was my debut…but at that time readers loved and understood my voice. These days, writing has simply changed. What do I mean by that? My voice is sort of a hybrid between women’s fiction and straight up contemporary. It’s lyrical, yet angsty and humorous. Hmm, I guess it’s who I am so I can’t really change that… I also blame it on my screenwriting background and my love of “dramadies” (drama-comedies). However, I’ve noticed that today’s voice is much different. It’s more in your face writing with less descriptive passages (which is what I tend to do), more dialogue driven and plenty of action. Again, after mulling over why my book was getting such negative reviews, I discovered something interesting..with the explosion of the New Adult genre, my book happened to fall into that realm because of my character’s age group. Totally by accident, but reviewers who picked up my book was looking for that particular style or voice, and I wasn’t delivering what they usually expected. Hence all the horrific reviews and DNF responses. Ouch. Sure it hurt like hell but at least I figured it out and there was no going back from it. I could either cry my eyes out, accept it, and/or learn from it…but what I promised I wouldn’t do is give into the pressures of changing my voice just to sell a product. I don’t want to feel like a sellout and disappoint myself in the process. I stand firm because of my love of writing so I’m not going to change my writing voice because it represents who I am as a writer. I guess you can say the fear of sucking made me look deep inside myself and see that I’m a good writer. We all have our insecurities but I’m not a beginner. I’ve finished books and I continue to get new readers who buy my backlist. I know I still have a lot of growth ahead of me but I have fans who email me and remind me of why I should keep writing. I also discovered that I don’t want to compromise my vision and storytelling to satisfy a trend. With everything, I know it’s cyclical so those who may hate my voice and my novels now may someday appreciate what I’ve written…may better understand that everything I write has a secret meaning that’s not blatantly on the surface. This is the profession I’ve chosen and no matter what obstacles I face in this journey…I will stick it out. I will conquer these fears (ones every writer has) and prove to myself that I made the right decision.

During my self-evaluation process, I’ve been voraciously reading and watching videos that inspire me. I recently discovered Matthew Hussey who is an awesome (and sexy as all get out Brit) life/relationship coach… Total hero material for one of my future books…Ahem, he’s brilliant and I’d love to be able to go to one of his retreats someday…but for now, I thought I’d share this snippet. It came at the perfect time and I hope you’ll agree that all things are worth finishing.