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.

When You Least Expect

serendipityOn The Playlist: NOT A BAD THING by Justin Timberlake

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2013 was a doozy. Fast forward…many things have changed in my life…and some things still remain the same.

I’m in a good place now. I have an amazing group of friends who drag me out of my dark cave for some fresh air and fun. I found my muse and I came to terms with my father’s death. It’s been quite a ride and I’ve finally found the peace I’ve been missing. This year is truly about new beginnings and opportunities. I took some time off of writing so I could heal my head and my heart. Along the way, I’ve met interesting people who made me think…made me see things I hadn’t tried to see before.

I also discovered that it’s okay to fall apart because being strong all the time can become a crutch. You start to put up walls and you start believing that you can never not be strong for everyone’s sake…except your own. I’ve also felt heartbreak and learned that letting go can be healthy. I’ve always believed that love never dies, it transforms. Well, at least the precious kind of love. One that deserves to remain in your heart and life.

The best part of learning is growing. Maturing. Funny how the world looks differently when you shift your perspective. You’re opening yourself to new possibilities and a chance at happiness. I can honestly say that when I started to focus on myself, I was able to attract positive things… people… opportunities.

I’ve even stumbled across something totally unexpected and it’s inspired me a great deal—and it feels damn good! So, this year I’m going to continue to challenge myself and work harder to create even better stories for YOU, my awesome readers.

I promise there will be a new release and I want to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your continued love and support! You’re the reason I write…