Monday, December 8, 2014

All Day Q&A

It had been a LONG time since I've opened up a day for Q&A, so I thought I'd do it today and see how it goes. I'll be taking ALL questions asked today—all topics, writing, personal, etc.—on any social media. I'm on Twitter, FB, Tumblr, and here on the blog.

If you want a very in depth answer, I recommend asking here on the blog or on Tumblr. Those are the easiest place for me to ramble on excessively.

I am literally sitting here waiting for you to ask (minus when I go grocery shopping later), so answers should come pretty quick.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What I Learned From NaNoWriMo


I was doing NaNo this last month, which left this blog very sparse for the few people still reading it. But today I wanted to kind of write about what me, someone you could call a "seasoned" author perhaps, learned from this experience.

This was my first official NaNo, actually, though I have written at "NaNo-esque" pace before in my lifetime (not recently though, not for years). I decided to do it because I've been in a very tough place mentally for me as writer. A scary place. Because I've found myself just…not caring about writing. Not sad over rejection. Not mad that I can't "break out." Just…numb. Truly numb. Not the I'm-telling-myself-to-be-numb thing, but actually, seriously, I'm-gonna-try-NaNo-just-to-see-if-I-can-FEEL numb.

I don't know what to make of this, honestly. I don't like it, but I can't seem to stop feeling that way. So I went into NaNo hoping it would give me some kind of revelation about my writing or place as an author or something. I'm not sure I found the answers I was looking for, but this is what I learned:

1. You have to believe in yourself and your story.
I struggled all month with this. Yes, this book was the 19th one I'd started, and I was still in that place of doubt. I might still be, but I had enough belief to get through the month by telling myself to just have fun and don't think about if this book will become real or not. As I saw other people work through it, I admired their tenacity and adored seeing first-time novelists find they could do it, find that belief. That is such a magical time. I find myself often getting nostalgic over my younger days as a writer. I hoped to recapture that, and I think I did at times. Other times I definitely did not.

2. I can still write on deadline.
I was surprised at how "well-trained" I have become as a writer. I hadn't written anything in a few months when I came into NaNo, nothing in earnest since the summer. I was so burnt out—I still am, I think—that I was worried that I'd just get behind and give up. But 1,667 words a day…I don't want to sound like a jerk, but for an author like me that is right in the pocket for a day of drafting. The hardest part was writing on the weekends, since I usually don't do that. Those were always my worst days, having to force a mediocre amount of words out and then make up the rest during the weekdays when I was used to writing.

It was oddly comforting to find that, even though I am really struggling with my lack of emotion, that I can still WRITE if I need/want to. My current feelings—or lack thereof—doesn't have to get in the way.

3. I still thrive without outlines.
It's funny how some things just don't change much in your process, and discovery drafting has always been productive for me. I didn't even write down notes on this project hardly, and I had stuff to write everyday. It's a mess, for sure, but nothing slows me down like an outline. Alas, I will always have to accept heavy editing of all my work.

4. You have to write for yourself.
I struggled all month with trying to forget about publishing. I really just wanted to write without any intention of publication, and that is so freaking hard to do once you've published. When I was able to do that, I found the words easy to get down. When I started to love the book some…then I'd want to publish it…then I'd think no one would want it…and then I got sad. It was very annoying. Trying to write for myself again after so long was a real challenge, and I don't think I completely mastered it again. But I really want to, because that was when I was the happiest during this project.

5. NaNo won't fix your problems. Probably.
I came to NaNo with a lot of hopes for some big, impossible things. I was hoping for some huge revelation that would make writing meaningful for me again. There were glimmers of that, but for the most part…NaNo was NaNo, and I am still me. Plus 50k words. I still don't know how to fix myself, how to get past the numbness. I still don't know if I'll continue publishing for the rest of my life. All I know is I'm an uncontracted writer who has no clue what's on the horizon. I've been through another full year of publishers passing on my manuscripts. And I'm still just really tired. NaNo was a good experience, a chance for me to grasp the writer I used to be. But I still lose her all the time, and I still don't know if I want to keep trying to find her. I just don't know a lot of things. I'm trying to be okay with that.

6. Treasure being in the zone.
Overall, I really do recommend NaNo for anyone who wants to give it a go. It's fun to have that sense of community as you write, and it's magical to see all these new writers fall in love with what they are creating. It must be really fun to be that author falling in love with your work, too. I remember those days. I crave them constantly. If you're in that state, treasure it. I know you probably want so much more—I did…and still do, honestly—but those moments where you are in the zone are the best part of this all. They are the moment jaded authors like me chase, hope to recreate, wish we could have way more often than we do. I envy you those moments. So hold on to them and savor them, even when you're looking forward to other exciting moments down the road.

Monday, November 3, 2014

FISH OUT OF WATER American Cover Reveal! Call For Reviewers!

I wasn't sure if I was going to do an American release of FISH OUT OF WATER. Indie is a lot of work, you know? And not just work but money. I wasn't sure I had either the time or funds to put it out in the US on my own…or, in honesty, the desire after doing four novels in one year. I've just been tired. I figured people wouldn't really care if they couldn't buy it here in the US.

But then I started in on edits with my editor. And I remembered how much I loved the book. And I realized I did, in fact, want to share this book with as many people as I could. Even if that was only my friends and family here.

So, with no bites from US publishers or even hints of bites, I finally started the process of designing FISH OUT OF WATER for the US market.

It was freaking hard.

YA Contemporary covers can go in so many directions, so I just wasn't sure at first how to choose a path. Ultimately, I went with things I personally love in covers—font-centric, graphic, simple. I wanted it to be adorable and quirky, since I felt like that is much my writing style.

While this might LOOK simple, man, it was not simple to create! I think I about killed my designer with nitpicking and stressing as we worked and worked to find the right feel, the color scheme, the way the fish should look, etc. It was crazy and even now that it's done I'm so nervous to show it! But I also lurve it so hard and feel like it is exactly what I wanted. So without further ado: FISH OUT OF WATER! (US version)


Isn't it awesome??? And look at the blurb! Thanks to Kasie "Dimples" West for that little gem. And guess what? I am releasing it IN HARDCOVER (because I want to hold and snuggle my very first hardcover). And the flap copy:

Mika Arlington's summer will be perfect, she's made sure of it. Interning with her parents at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Check. Sand sculpting at the beach with her best friend. Check. Eating delicious food until she can't walk straight. Check. But the arrival of her estranged grandmother and too cool Dylan are about to wash away her ideal plans. 
Mika’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s and demands care from the family she once shunned. Dylan, the brooding new employee at the pet shop where Mika works, may be hot but everything that comes out of his mouth is the exact opposite. She can’t stand either of them, and yet she’s expected to be their babysitter. Talk about worst summer ever. Until she learns that sometimes the best things can come completely unplanned.
I hope you love this all as much as I do. And I have to ask an awkward question now. So, do you want to maybe read this book for review? (I feel like I'm asking you out on a date.) Because I'm looking for up to 50 advanced eARC reviewers—please fill out this form in you're interested.

And now, back to NaNo for me! Happy November, all!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Witchy Sale!


This is basically like the perfect Halloween read, and you can grab it for the price of a fast food burrito! Woot! Right now it's available on Amazon, but I'm sure B&N will match it soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why The Hell Am I Running?

When I finished all my crazy deadlines and tours and conferences and junk, the first thing I did was make new goals. I'm gonna go running so I can be less fat! I'm going to have a clean house for once! I'm going to learn new things! Because that's what you're supposed to do, right?

Heaven forbid we ever stop running ourselves into the ground for one second.

A couple weeks ago I was at the gym, walking around the track in preparation to do my run. It felt like I was about to torture myself. I had been adding a lap every time I went and was near two miles running—I just didn't want to run that day. Okay, I never want to run. Even when I was doing it consistently I hated it.

So why was I doing it? Because that's what I've been told I should do. If I want to be thin and healthy I need to sweat and count calories and somehow all of this is supposed to make me happy. Except it wasn't, and I wasn't losing weight either because I have been so dang high strung all year that my body is still not sure how to cope with the copious amounts of stress I put it through. And you know what? Running was stressful, too. Running made me think I needed to be more than I was, and guilty because I didn't actually WANT to be more.

That's when I decided not to run that day. Or after that, unless I wanted to.

I still go to the gym, but I walk the track while jamming out to Kpop. And I enjoy it. And I smile. And I kinda wish they offered Kpop dance classes because I'd so take that. Feeling happy and relaxed while moving for an hour? That is what I need. I realized I don't need to buy into the thin=happy crap they constantly feed us. I move because it reduces my anxiety—that's what I need in my life. Not something that's more stressful.

I don't know why we (women especially) seem to think we have to run ourselves into the ground to be proven Of Worth, but I have felt that many times in my life. I have to be an amazing parent who doesn't ruin her children's lives with her imperfection (impossible), I have to be a bestselling author because there is not other kind of author (not true), I have to have a pristine house (yeah right), and of course I must be a model while doing all this (I totally am that).

Where did all these expectations come from? Who is imposing them on me? Society? Myself? I have no idea. All I know is I'm tired of them. I didn't think I was buying into them, but in a way I was. I was certainly buying into the idea that if I wasn't 150% productive at all times I was a lazy piece of crap and it was all my fault I wasn't successful. I was running much faster than I was able, and it got me a load of stress and burn out.

I'm learning how to slow down again—which is surprisingly hard. My body is forcing me to, since my mental health is not good and I can literally only handle so much in a day before I start to shut down. But I've been doing crazy things like being 0% productive in a day…even a week. Doing not much more than consuming lots of TV and video games. I get all guilty-feeling still about this at times, but I'm getting over it. I'm reminding myself I have no deadlines, no contracts—I'm not actually slacking at all. I'm on vacation.

I'm allowed to walk instead of run.

I'm allowed to sit and do nothing if I want.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SNOW LIKE ASHES Tour!

One of my oldest writing friends has a really awesome book coming out today. Maybe you've heard of it? SNOW LIKE ASHES!

If you love fantasy and are interested in a world I call "Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Disney," then you should pick up SNOW LIKE ASHES and read it. Sara is a fabulous writer, and it has been such a pleasure to know her and read her work for the last five years. This day is long overdue, and I can't wait to celebrate with her. Because she will be here on tour! And I will be signing with her (along with J.R. Johansson, Michelle Argyle, and Bree Despain)!

If you want to celebrate with us as well, please check out the following events in Salt Lake City and Denver. Sara will also be traveling much of country, so check out the graphic and see if she's coming to a city near you!



Monday, October 13, 2014

When You Just Don't Know What's Next

NOTE: I have emailed the winner of my exclusive newsletter contest—thanks to all who entered to win a copy of Relax or Trust me! And if you want access more exclusive contests, please sign up for my newsletter here.

Okay, business out of the way, on to the post!

I went to an indie publishing conference this weekend called IndieRecon Live! I decided a few months back to go, though I was a little on the fence as to if I could handle it mentally with how burned out I've been.

Well, I'm super glad I went.

Not only did I learn a lot about my weaknesses in indie publishing (marketing, oh, marketing, how badly I fail at you), but it was surprisingly comforting and exciting to be around other authors who indie publish and other writers who are choosing this as their path. Sometimes at traditional-oriented writing conferences, it's felt like indie publishing is shoved into the corner and people don't take it seriously. But here? Oh, it was serious and it was awesome. It helped me, as a hybrid author, connect with the indie side of my career in a new way and feel even better about it.

I got to listen to people who do this and have seen amazing success with it. While I still don't know if I can attain that kind of success, I do feel like I have tools now that I can maybe implement and see improvement. I also just feel happy I made the choice to share my work, and know it's okay to try stuff and fail at it and try something else.

But through all of this, I found I'm still a little broken, too. In one class, the presenter asked, "What is your dream right now?" I thought and thought, and I was concerned to find that I did not have an answer.

I've had an answer to that question since I was a little girl. There was always something I wanted and something I was reaching for. So as I sat in that class with a complete blank—and even now I still have no answer—I wondered what this all meant for me.

What happens when a dreamer stops having a dream?

Well, it's a little sad. And a lot confusing. And very much worrying. I don't really know what to make of it. All I can think to do is wait, and hope something comes in the quiet moments I'm trying to give myself. When it does, I also hope I have the courage to try when trying is just so dang hard.

For now, I guess I'll focus on the few things I do know—that FISH OUT OF WATER is coming out in February and I need to finish the I'm A Ninja series. Maybe the rest will just work itself out and I'll have some kind of answer by the time those two books are published? I hope so. Otherwise I really don't know what I'll do with myself.