Gratitude Challenge: Week 7 – A Friend

Tags

, , , ,

I’m baaaack! Took last week off to celebrate Mardi Gras here on the Gulf Coast, but this week’s challenge is to express gratitude for a friend. Instead of focusing on one in particular, I’m going to sing the praises of them all.

As a writer and someone who is active in the community, I have a lot of acquaintances, and they’re awesome. I have a smaller circle of casual friends who know what I’m up to and what’s going on in my life, and they’re fantastic, too.

However, this past year has been the most tumultuous of my entire life, and many acquaintances and casual friends fell away. Hell, a number of people I thought were close, like-family friends disappeared. Those ones hurt, not gonna lie.

But I’m so very blessed and grateful for the friends who have stuck by me through thick and thin … very, very thin. (Sadly, we’re not talking about my figure!) These are the friends who’ve listened to my rants and meltdowns, who carried my china cabinet up a flight of stairs when I moved, gave me advice when I didn’t know what on earth to do, who stayed until late in the night to put my daughter’s bed together, and who continue to talk me down from the metaphorical ledge when drama strikes. And strikes again. And again.

They encourage me to keep writing, to keep being a great mom, to take some time for myself, and they go shopping with me when retail therapy is in order. They share a bottle of wine with me when it gets to be too much, they stay up past midnight texting to be supportive, and one friend kisses my forehead when I need that connection.

Despite all the loss this past year, my friends make sure my cup runneth over. “Grateful” doesn’t begin to cover it.

Gratitude Challenge: Week 6 – The City You Live In

Tags

, , , ,

Good grief, if you know me at all you know I’ve written extensively about my adopted home along the Gulf Coast. After spending my first three decades along the shores of Lake Erie, moving to the Deep South was culture shock at its finest.

WANT and NEED (and the accompanying short story AFTERTASTE) are set in Mobile, Alabama, as is my upper-YA SHRAPNEL. Only SHELF LIFE is set somewhere else.

As far as gratitude is concerned, this city (region, really) has given me so much to be thankful for. It was here that I finally put all the things swirling in my head onto paper, which eventually turned into a novel about a girl from the “right” side of the tracks. The friends and fellow writers I met through the area’s thriving arts community helped propel me to go further than I ever thought I would.

I’m also grateful for all the everyday opportunities this area provides: cultural events, sunshine in February (hey, a girl needs her Vitamin D), fried green tomatoes with crawfish sauce, moonshine, Mardi Gras, giant hair bows for little girls, and some of the most polite gentlemen I’ve ever met. I’m grateful that they taught me to raise my standards.

Tank tops in March, windows down and music up any time of the year, diversity, and hello — salt water and sand!

I may not have been born in the South, and I’ve retained a few Yankee tendencies, but dang, I’m so very grateful to Mobile and the region for giving me the life I always wanted.

What are YOU grateful for???

Gratitude Challenge Week 4: Something Someone Gave You

Tags

, , , , ,

Although I’ve written extensively about the culture shock I endured after moving to the Deep South, there was one regional custom that I welcomed with open arms: Pearls.

They’re everywhere.

Worn with jeans, with workplace attire, with date night dresses and especially at formal functions. Hell, I know a woman who is mostly house-bound and wears comfortable sweatpants and shirts, but by god, she’s boasting pearl earrings.

I. Love. It.

See, I’ve always preferred classic stuff over trendy. I’m pretty sentimental, too (shh, don’t tell anyone), so when my favorite grandmother gave me her best pearls to wear on my wedding day, my heart overflowed. Not just because they’re beautiful, but because they came from her. From what I understand, my grandfather wasn’t always the nicest guy (he died when I was in 4th grade) and there wasn’t much money to splurge on niceties, but every Christmas and Easter, he picked out and bought a nice outfit for my grandmother to wear, complete with jewelry and shoes.

On their 40th anniversary, he bought her a pearl necklace. We all figured it was nice, but nothing overly special beyond sentimental value. It came from a local department store, not a jeweler.

I wore it on my wedding day, even though my cousin and maid of honor accidentally broke the clasp putting it on me. I think my dad secured it with a safety pin? Something like that.

One Christmas a few years later, my now ex-husband snuck the necklace out of my jewelry armoire and took it to a local jeweler to be cleaned, re-strung and the clasp fixed. I was thrilled. To this day, it’s still the most special gift anyone’s ever given me — both thoughtful and practical.

The jeweler also thought it was pretty special and offered to buy the necklace on the spot. He said the pearls themselves were exquisite in color and shape, the graduation of the size was flawless, and he hadn’t seen such a perfect necklace in years.

Obviously, selling something with that much sentimental value was completely out of the question, but he did a fantastic job re-stringing and re-knotting it, cleaned the pearls and gave a surprising appraisal.

They are my most prized possession. I usually save the necklace for very special occasions, but I’ve fully embraced the Southern tradition of wearing pearls. My parents add a piece to my collection every Christmas. One day, I can’t wait to hand them down to my daughter, maybe a granddaughter or two if I’m blessed, and I’ll be sure to tell them all about their great-great-grandmother who started it all.

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Week 3 – A Family Member

Tags

, , , , ,

IMG_0776This week’s gratitude challenge is so ridiculously easy. It’s my son’s ninth birthday, so naturally he’s in the forefront of my mind, as well as the day he was born and all the challenges we’ve faced together.

See, I never saw myself as a mom. I was going to get my PhD and take on the world in some grand capacity. Halfway through graduate school, something kicked in and I began crying through baptisms and Johnson and Johnson commercials. I needed a baby. NOW.

My pregnancy was anything but the glowing ideal you see on TLC. There was a lot more hurling than I’d anticipated, complications and scares. But on a bitterly cold January morning, the doctors removed him from me and I fell irrevocably in love with my new little man. A linebacker of a newborn, he was perfect.

Here’s where the “been through the war” part begins, and I’m writing this not to garner sympathy, but to acknowledge that post-partum depression is real, and so is colic, and being so sleep-deprived you’re nauseated, bat-shit crazy and ready to murder the next person who gives you unsolicited advice.

But it passes. You navigate the shifting of the earth and your entire existence up to that point. You fall in love every single day with the little smiling being you created. Maybe it’s because we had such a traumatic start (long story), but my son and I have a bond so deep it’s obvious to perfect strangers. He and I operate on our own wave length. I know every aspect of him, and it scares me sometimes when I see him doing some of the things I did as a child — the awkwardness, shyness, sensitivity. But then I see other things — his kindness, empathy and perceptiveness that exceeds his years.

I never saw myself as a mother. Now I know he and his sister are the biggest reasons for my existence. Sure, I have other purposes to fulfill, but I was meant to be his mom. He and I belong to each other. Even when he joins the adult world and makes a life of his own, I know our bond — and knowing I have his back unconditionally — will give him a sturdy base from which to leap.

That unbreakable bond? You bet I’m grateful.

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Week 3 – Family

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

What’s the first thing you picture when you hear the word, “family?”

Your parents, kids, your nuclear family or giant holiday get-togethers with fifty people? If you’re like me, it’s a combination of those things PLUS the friends who have become like family — the quirky perverts who text you dirty jokes to cheer you up; who pop over for dinner and play Legos with your kids; or who agree that yes, that guy over there is definitely checking you out (even if he isn’t).

All of us have ebbs and flows where we’re closer or more distanced from family, but the ones who stick around despite time and distance and the shitty ups and downs become our tribe.

For centuries it seems like family was all about blood — royal bloodlines, surnames, lineage, loyalty, etc. In many towns across the country, this persists. If your last name is [fill in the blank] you were probably born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but if you were born into that family, you’re probably trash.

familyMore and more, however, we’re seeing that the traditional model of “family” is expanding. How wonderful that friends bind together to support one another. How fantastic (and overdue) that same-sex couples and their children are more likely to be given the same recognition and benefits as hetero ones.

We have work families, hobby families, church families, step-families, in-laws and fur babies. Not a day goes by when we shouldn’t thank our lucky stars and be grateful these people (and pets) were sent into our lives.

And yes, writers form tribes as well, consisting of not only fellow author friends and editorial teams, but readers too. For that, I have immense gratitude.

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Week 2

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes, the universe is a bitch. Today, for instance, which calls for writing about gratitude in regards to a spouse/significant other.

See, I no longer have a spouse. (Hooray! Much gratitude!) Not sure on the significant other status. (Boo! Ambiguity sucks big ones.)

"That's right, Ned. This is MY story!"

“That’s right, Ned. This is MY story! You stand there with your Miami Vice shirt partly unbuttoned and look pretty.”

That’s why I’m focusing on the significant others we find in books, aka BOOK BOYFRIENDS! It all started with Ned Nickerson in the early Nancy Drew books and then the Case Files that appeared in the late 80s and 90s. Then there was some dude in a Christopher Pike book named Gideon, the Vampire Lestat, Mr. Darcy … they all contributed to Isaac, Dave, Jake and Pete.

Though none of the book boyfriends I’ve written are purposely based on anyone in particular, I’m sure they’re an amalgam of real-life boyfriends past, in addition to the fictional ones mentioned above. I’m grateful for those experiences, which range from phenomenal to horrendous. Without living the entire spectrum, how can anyone write realistic relationships? They can’t. (Okay, they can, but how frigging boring would it be if every book boyfriend–or girlfriend–shit glitter and belched roses?)

Isaac: I’m so very grateful he became a poster boy for the tall, dark and tortured soul. I’ve known so many broken boys and men who just needed a second chance to get things right .. and a really strong woman to give it to them.

Dave: He helped me unleash the one-liners and “guy humor” I can’t always get away with in everyday life. His character is a warm hug and a belly laugh, proof that good guys still exist and they’re not always boring. And they don’t always finish last. (That’s what she said. BAM!)

Jake: I think Jake may be based on someone I knew in high school. Not someone I dated, but someone who had a crush on me and left sweet notes in my locker. We never even spoke more than a few words to each other, but I appreciated his sincerity. I suspect he came from a broken home. I only hope he found a Dylan to appreciate him.

Pete: Farmboy is the closest thing I’ve written to an all-American boy/man. I’m grateful that he showed me the transition boys have to go through, and that there are still stand-up guys. He has moments of being an immature asshole, but I love that he appreciates a strong girl, and doesn’t feel that it makes him weak. Rather, he and Lindsey are a “power-equal” couple. Love that.

Please feel free to leave a comment explaining why you’re grateful for a significant other — real or fictional. What makes them stand out? And what did they do to earn your gratitude?

Blog Hop: Evernight Teen turns two!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Birthday to EVERNIGHT TEEN!

ETBirthdayBlogHopEVERNIGHT TEEN turns two this month and we’re having a huge party to celebrate! It may be EVERNIGHT TEEN’s birthday, but you get the presents. So, grab a piece of cake, hop from blog-to-blog and discover EVERNIGHT TEEN!

Be sure to visit every stop on the hop and answer each question. The more you blogs you hop, the more chances to win the GRAND PRIZE of an iPad Mini sponsored by EVERNIGHT TEEN (one entry per blog). Plus, hop each blog for a host of other fabulous prizes.

Have your TBR list handy because we have lots of new titles for you to add, including my featured book…

* * * * *

shrapnelIt’s been six years since Dylanie and her family visited a Civil War site and the place came alive with cannon fire. Problem was, no one could hear it but her.

Now she’s sixteen, her dad’s moved out, her mom’s come out of the closet and Dylan’s got a spot on Paranormal Teen, a reality TV show filming at historic Oakleigh Mansion. She’ll spend a weekend with two other psychic teens—Jake and Ashley—learning how to control her abilities.

None of them realized how much their emotional baggage would put them at the mercy of Oakleigh’s resident spirits, or that they’d find themselves pawns in the 150-year-old battle for the South’s legendary Confederate gold.

Each must conquer their personal ghosts to face down Jackson, a seductive spirit who will do anything to protect the gold’s current location and avenge a heinous attack that destroyed his family.

* * * * *

Enter for a chance to win EVERNIGHT TEEN’s GRAND PRIZE of an iPad Mini and my blog prize — the chance to name a character in my next book, plus a $5 Amazon gift card — by answering this question (be sure to include your email address to be eligible to win):

What are your favorite and least favorite genres?

The birthday blog hop continues here:

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Is the book biz oversaturated?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Confession: I haven’t read a book in months. I’m a writer and I haven’t read for pleasure in I don’t even know how long. I don’t know the latest titles, emerging authors or which series is set to become the latest Summit Entertainment drawn-out movie franchise.

The question of whether or not the book business is oversaturated has been plaguing me for more than year now. It’s partly responsible for my hiatus after initially releasing SHELF LIFE in December 2013 (re-released October 2014).

Six or so years ago when Stephenie Meyer was at the height of her glory, Young Adult lit took off, surpassing all other genres/categories–which were seeing marked declines–for at least a year.

Fast forward a couple years, say, 2012. Like me, many authors had books that didn’t quite fit into traditional YA perimeters, or even upper-YA (hello, WANT). We couldn’t convince agents to take a chance on our books because they claimed they couldn’t sell them to publishers. So, a handful of brave souls flipped the bird to traditional publishing and either went indie or self-published. I chose to go indie and published WANT as upper-YA.

If you’ve read it, you know it barely fits within YA. Yes, the plot hinges on the heroine being a minor, but the rest of it is very heavy and set in an adult’s world. It was released in June 2012. By 2013, New Adult had emerged as a viable category and began to flourish, replacing YA as the new “thing.”

imagesDCEHD77DAnd now it’s everywhere. Like, freaking everywhere. YA is still going strong, and from what I can tell, most other genres aren’t disappearing either. Granted, I’ve been out of the loop for about a year, so I could be blowing smoke and/or sunshine. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Everyone has a book coming out. I see the announcements on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, OMG I’m pretty sure one day I’m going to be on the throne, look over and there will be ads on my toilet paper. I will be wiping my ass with book promos.

SHELF LIFE, despite being released at the height of New Adult, pretty much tanked. Those who read it loved it, but it got lost amongst the cadres of other titles, drowned out by books with more skin on their covers; more extroverted authors who had time/money/energy to market well; full-time novelists who churn out sequels faster than Stouffer’s mac and cheese in the microwave.

Hats off to them for sticking it out and following their dreams. Some of them seem to be quite successful, but I guess these are the questions I’m asking:

  • Is the book biz oversaturated with books?
  • Or is it oversaturated with advertisements?
  • Or did I just get burned out?
  • Perhaps a combination of these things?

Perhaps bloggers have a different opinion than authors, who have a different opinion than readers. I’d love to hear from a number of camps who are still in the trenches.

If there’s a consensus that readers are still wanting more, MORE! then I’ll shut the hell up. But if I’m correct and there’s less demand and too much product, why is this happening? When do you think it will even out? What genres/categories do you see emerging? Which ones are dying?

Make no mistake, I  (and most writers, I think) am going to keep writing whatever the hell I want. The story has to be told the way it has to be told and I’ll worry about marketability later. But I still think this is a discussion worth having.

Your opinions, please?

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Week 1

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Okay, yes, this is an author blog and it should be focused on books. BUT! I can talk about gratitude AND books at the same time. (Writers are Swiss Army Knife ninjas like that.)

Fellow Inkspell author Brooke Moss accepted and then issued this challenge, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Why?

Well, that’s the focus of Week 1: Why Start This Challenge?

Because:

  • gratitude2014 was really just shitty. I mean, the shittiest year of my entire life. Don’t worry, all that shitasticness will probably become fodder for future angsty books, so it won’t have been in vane. Not completely, anyway, so there’s that to look forward to. Yay?
  • There is always, ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Even when you’re sloshing around in the deepest cesspools of hell, you’ve got to find something to hold onto. Notice I wrote “something” and not “someone.” This is important. Those who have been through the war know what I’m talking about. Dig deep and you’ll find a place of gratitude.
  • This new year brings so many new opportunities and I’m eternally grateful for new beginnings, new opportunities, new attitudes, new relationships, new ideas, new plot bunnies, new readers, new friends, new discoveries!
  • This is going to sound like pandering, but I swear it’s totally sincere. I’m grateful to my publisher for sticking with me during this off year. The leader of our amazing group has also become a friend and sometimes, her emails and messages contained the exact words I needed to hear. Sometimes they were book-related, but more often than not, they dealt with a situation we’ve both had to endure. Melissa, you rocks my socks as both a publisher and fellow warrior woman.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race, right? What better way to stop and take a deep breath than by counting blessings once a week? I’ll admit, next week’s (spouse/significant other) is going to be a bit tricky *ahem* but we’ll get through this, you and I. After all, that’s what book boyfriends are for ;)

Please, feel free to join me in this challenge or at least comment about some things you’re grateful for (even if it’s only that you’re wearing comfy undies) as we dive into 2015.

Happy Book Birthday to The Angel Killer by Lisa Voisin

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy book birthday to fellow Inkspell author Lisa Voisin, whose latest, THE ANGEL KILLER, is out today!

A paranormal romance/thriller, here’s a little more about the book:

TheAngelKiller.v6BNNow that she’s found him again, all Mia Crawford wants is some downtime with her fallen angel boyfriend, Michael. But the call of duty keeps him away—from school and from her—with more demons to smite than ever.

When Michael is mortally wounded by a cursed sword, Mia must perform an ancient blood ritual to save him. But the spell exacts a price. Haunted by visions of war, torture, and despair, Mia discovers the world is in more danger than she ever imagined. Behind the scenes, an evil adversary pulls all the strings.

After redemption, there’s Hell to pay.

Here’s where you can get it:

More about Lisa Voisin:

LisaA Canadian-born author, Lisa Voisin spent her childhood daydreaming and making up stories, but it was her love of reading and writing in her teens that drew her to Young Adult fiction.

A self-proclaimed coffee lover, she can usually be found writing in a local café. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her meditating or hiking in the mountains to counteract the side effects of drinking too much caffeine!

Though she’s lived in several cities across Canada, she currently lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her fiancé and their two cats.

Find her: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blog

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,319 other followers