Monday, December 30, 2013

All The Advice In The World

I wanted to do some thoughtful post about my debut year and maybe list some advice for those who will debut in the future. That sounds like the right kind of post for a day so close to the end of 2013. But as I've been trying to think about what to say, it was all coming off false for me.

Because when it comes to debuting, the thing is you will read a TON of advice…

…and you will ignore most of it.

Every author will tell you to avoid reading reviews, and you will still look at reviews. Every author will tell you not to check your Amazon rank, and you will still take a look. Every author will tell you to write the next book, and you will still struggle to do it because there is a new kind of pressure you have to deal with.

You'll be warned about how crazy you'll get two months prior to release, how every person you know will ask "how's your book doing?", how submissions will still be terrifying, how it'll be hard not to compare yourself to every other author who's getting more or less than you—and you probably won't quite get it or believe it until it happens. And even if you do believe it, you'll experience it in an entirely personal way.

It's like any big life change. You can study and prepare and plan to your heart's content, but that's not the same as actually experiencing it. There are some things you can't predict, and one of those is how you'll react to it all. You just have to go through it, plain and simple.

So I guess today I don't want to offer advice to those debuting in 2014 or even after that. What I want to offer you is a big hug, a few cupcakes, and a very sincere "Yes, I know it's hard, but you'll be okay."

Because it's scary. It's new. It's wonderful. All rolled into one.

You are allowed to feel how you feel, and only you will be able to work through all the ups and downs that come with debuting. There will be days when you get burned and days where jealousy will rule and days when you feel like you can fly it's so wonderful. So hang in there, and remember your dream is coming true, even if it sometimes doesn't look so much like a dream. That's just what it is, only it's become a reality now.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

You Never Know...

Life is a fascinating thing. Looking back at myself eight years ago, when I was just out of college and working on my first book, I could have never guessed how this publishing journey of mine would have turned out.

I especially never would have dreamed of meeting so many amazing people along the way.

And this is what I want to talk about today—the people thing. The thing is, you never know how things will be in the future. You never know if the person you're talking to will someday cross your path again in a new way. Publishing is a small world, so this is something you really have to think about. I want to give you a few examples.

Person #1
My best friend started querying about the same time as I did, and we clicked and bonded over our similar circumstances and writing processes. We knew no one in publishing save a few other aspiring writers. We were, by all counts and measures, on equal ground. Then my friend got an agent about a year before I did, she sold at auction, and her first book hit the bestseller list before I even sold. By the time my first book came out, her fourth was on shelves.

There was no way we could have seen that coming, and it was exciting (and sometimes jealousy inducing) to watch. I didn't make friends with her because I could see the future and knew there would be success—I just liked her and I still do.

Person #2
There was an agent I always thought was cool, but I never thought I was cool enough to be her client. If that makes sense. I would pretty much query every other agent at her agency, but never her because I was scared she'd say no and that was something I wasn't sure I could handle from her. Because she was cool and honest and if she didn't like it then it probably really did suck.

I ended up signing with an agent at her agency. And when my agent left the business, I was lucky enough to sign with yet another agent at that agency. That agent sold my first book and it was awesome. And THEN my agent left yet again, and the Cool Honest Agent I'd always eyed asked to take me on.

I almost died. I couldn't believe it. But I'm so happy to have been at this agency that has taken such good care of me through all the changes. I would have never imagined working with this agent I admire so much, and yet here I am.

Person #3
Thanks to a contest I won, I met a guy who wrote pirate fantasy in contrast to my ninja paranormal. This joke turned into a bit of a friendship, and we read a few things for each other and have been supporting each other ever since. While I've gone on to publish, he has yet to (but it WILL happen!).

I knew this guy used to write video games, but I never would have imagined I'd get an opportunity to work with him on one because of that. He's now kind of my boss, and it's awesome to see him rocking this project. It's also awesome to be part of it—once again, it's something I never would have seen coming.


I could list a bunch more examples, but I think I'll stop there because the point has been made. Basically, you just never know what will happen not only to you, but to the people you meet along the way. You never know who you will meet, interact with, go on tour with, sit on a panel with, etc. Chances are, you will cross paths that both make you smile and make you cringe based on past behavior.

So this is the part where I put out a general BE NICE statement. Don't be nice because it could get you somewhere, but because you will always feel better about it. Truth is, writers gossip. A lot. I will admit to doing it and feeling AWFUL about it after, and that awfulness carries to when I've ultimately met some of those people and had this pit in my stomach as I realize they know people I know and did word get to them about what I said? And worse—those authors are always lovely people who didn't deserve a word of what I said or what I'd heard from others.

I can't take stuff back now, but I hope I can be forgiven and I try to stay away from that impulse we all have to be envious and say things we shouldn't because we don't actually know that person. It's so easy to be ugly when competition is tough in this business, but I've learned both the good way and hard way that being nice is just…better.

Because you never know. You never know if that aspiring author "below you" will actually be hugely successful one day. You never know if that bestselling novelist will be your tour buddy in the future. You never know if that editor that scares you will be the person who shapes your book into something amazing. You never know if that self-published writer will become the person you rely on to help you self-publish your own stuff.

Publishing is oddly poetic like that. Stuff comes back around. People remember you. It's both terrifying and good. Opportunities can arise out of nowhere from it…but the opposite is also true.

So don't forget, even if you can't see what the future holds, chances are the people you know, the things you talk about, the place you aspire to be will all get wonderfully mixed up down the road. I hope it surprises you in as many good ways as possible.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

There Are 33 Ninjas On This Cover . . .

I have decided to give you an early Christmas present. Or maybe I'm giving myself an early present because I can't stand to sit on this kick butt cover any longer. So, without further chit chat:

So. Pretty awesome, right?

I have to admit I'm more nervous to show off this cover than ever before, because for the first time I had an integral role in the design. While of course I hired the fabulous Michelle Argyle (design alias is Melissa Williams Cover Design), she took her direction from me. That is a freaky place to be!

When she first asked me what I wanted, I honestly didn't have any big ideas because I was used to not thinking about it. I mean, in traditional publishing, it's just better not to get married to a cover design you imagine for your book because it WILL NOT turn out like that ever. So Michelle had to squeeze descriptors out of me, and we searched image-leasing sites, and we scoured the internet for fonts, and this is what happened.

I'm pretty proud of it.

I didn't want a cover plastered with ninja clich├ęs, but I wanted to have a ninja feel. I wanted it to be simple, but not boring. I wanted it to be hard, urban, and yet hint at some playfulness and paranormal as well. I wanted it be look plain cool, to hopefully appeal to its intended audience. Michelle did an amazing job of translating my desires into an image I'm so excited to have on the cover of my novel.

I hope you're excited, too, because I've decided this book will be coming out June 3, 2014! It works a little differently with self-pubbing—getting the novel uploaded to all the many sellers—but it will definitely be available by then at the latest.

And if you're curious as to what's inside, I have cover copy for you! So many presents!

A Clan of ninjas in San Francisco may sound improbable—but as the son of a ninja master, Tosh Ito knows what lurks in the shadows of his city. Or at least he thought he did. 
When a killer with a poisoned blade starts cutting down teens, Tosh enlists Amy Sato—newest ninja recruit and his best friend’s crush—and sets out to uncover the killer's identity. What they find is ninjutsu more evil than they could have ever imagined. 
As Amy and Tosh grow closer, they discover their connection unleashes a legendary power that could stop the murders. Problem is, that power may be exactly what the killer is looking for, and wielding it could cost them both their souls.

Whew. I need to take a deep breath here. I'm actually shaking as I write up this post, because I can't believe I'm really doing this. RELAX, I'M A NINJA will be a book after five years of writing, editing, failed subs, and then a long stint in the book vault—that's totally crazy to me. Even if I'm doing it on my own, without publisher "validation," this means the world to me. I have always wanted to share this story, and I hope it finds people who love it despite it being a little different.

Thanks to everyone who has been excited about this with me. No joke, you are the reason I have the courage to do this—I would have never gotten past all the publishing hurdles without you guys cheering me on.

So go forth! Share this baby all you want. It's been dying to meet the world for a long time now.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"Where Can I Find Your Books?"

UPDATE: BLINSIDED is officially available on IndieBound now! Yay!

When you publish a book, there is a standard canon of questions you will now be asked constantly. I'm not sure how it happens, but I have a theory the post office sends out a pamphlet to all your contacts informing them of these questions.

There's the ever-loaded "How's your book doing?" or the even worse "Is your book doing well?" At events there's the dreaded "Where do you get your inspiration?" My favorite and most inappropriate question has been "Are you going to move?" As if I am now magically drowning in money.

But there's a more practical question that I get a lot:

"Where can I find your books?"

For the most part, I really appreciate this question because I HOPE it will lead to a sale at some point in the future. I like sales! Sales, in all practicality, make it so I can keep writing. At least I hope so. But now that BLINDSIDED is upon us, I've seen how this question can be used as yet another mark of "judgment" upon your standing as an author.

See, with TRANSPARENT I was blessed to be able to say with some confidence, "You can get my book almost anywhere that sells books, except like Walmart, Target, and Costco." It was at every major online retailer. It was featured on the Kids' Indie Next list, so it was even in many independent stores across the country.

Well, BLINDSIDED is a little different. Since it's coming from across the pond, we haven't yet gotten it into Barnes & Noble—not even online. It's also not on IndieBound, which makes me sad because I love the indies. It will likely not be on very many American shelves (much different story in UK territories, don't you fret, my UK friends!), and when I tell people that there's this face they get.

It's kinda like the pity face, but also mixed with a "Oh, this book must not be that important" face, too. Which has gotten me thinking a lot about how it might be for indie authors who say their book is only available online or, "even worse," just in ebook form. People must get this look like, "Oh, so you're not like a real author." I am prepping for this with RELAX, I'M A NINJA.

But see, the reality is that you can be with a big publisher and not make it into Barnes & Noble. You can be with a big publisher and only really have online sales to rely on. You can be with a big publisher overseas and it looks "unimportant" in your country of origin. This actually happens all the time. Like, ALL THE TIME. And it's nothing to be ashamed of. So if you are a debut stressing about this or an aspiring writer worried that no shelf placement means the end of the world, it's just not true. Especially now in the digital age.

And yet a little piece of me is still like, "Aw, poor BLINDSIDED. People won't find it as easily as TRANSPARENT." There's a bit of insecurity that I didn't expect, and that I'm honestly glad I'm facing with my second published book because I'm mostly over the debut angst.

Honestly, I'm just so glad to have BLINDSIDED out there at all (24 days! Wee!), because for years I'd tried to accept that I'd never get to write the rest of Fiona's story. The fact that it's a real book (that I wrote this year!) is kind of a miracle to me. I get to share it, even if it's not "everywhere." My gratitude to Hot Key for this chance is infinitesimal.

So with that in mind, I want to make sure you all know where you CAN buy BLINDSIDED.

You can buy it on Amazon and Book Depository (Which has free shipping! And you can also purchase the UK TRANSPARENT if you like matching sets!), if you want to purchase it online. 

If you want a SIGNED copy, please pre-order it from The King's English, which is my local awesome indie store. They are hosting my launch party (Jan 2nd @ 7PM), so if you call them (phone #: 801-484-9100) and pre-order/order I can sign that copy at my signing and they will mail it to you wherever you may live. Note that this may be one of the few ways to get a signed copy, as I will only be doing two signings for BLINDSIDED (the other is at the Oceanside B&N on Jan 23 @ 6PM). 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Can that cover be more gorgeous?
I think not. And Michelle designed it herself!
Michelle and I met winter 2008, when both of out first paragraphs were finalists in Nathan Bransford's legendary 1st Paragraph Contest. Little did we know then that we not only lived very close to each other, but that we'd be come such good friends on top of it.

I've always admired Michelle's courage—she experimented with self-publishing and small press long before I decided it might be a good direction for RELAX, I'M A NINJA. Truth be told, I've always been watching her, wondering if I could put myself out there like she does, stand by my work without the "validation" of a publisher.

Her example was ultimately a big part in what gave me the push to try self-publishing, and she has been my veritable sensei as I've taken each step on that path thus far.

So of course I'm excited about her newest novel released today—OUT OF TUNE is about "tone deaf" Maggie Roads, daughter of two country stars, and her journey to find her own place in the industry she loves so much. There are hot guys and heartbreaking situations and plenty of country flair (I am not a country fan but still loved it, so don't let that stop you, either.).

If you love country or are interested in exploring a New Adult book that is more focused on character growth than the sex (though there is some sex), I highly recommend buying OUT OF TUNE. You can find more info about it here, as well as purchasing information.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

All Day Q&A!

It's been a couple months since my last routine Q&A, so here we are! Ask all the questions you'd like—I am here for you today. Need advice on writing? I got it. Want to know sekrit stuff about my books? Ask away! Want an opinion on something totally random? Sure! Interested in book, anime, Kdrama recs? I have plenty.

I will take questions on comments below, on my Facebook page, on Twitter, AND on Tumblr (this is new I just got a tumblr like a month ago!).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Holiday Swag For You!

The holidays are upon us, guys, and it's kinda freaking me out because how in the world is 2013 almost over? It went by so fast! But anyway, I wanted to do a special offer because I think the holidays are a great time to gift books, and I hope some of you might consider my own for yourself, your friends/family, or a teen in your life.

So if you decide to buy TRANSPARENT or pre-order BLINDSIDED or HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, please fill out this form—and I will send you both a hand-drawn, personalized book plate for the novel and bookmarks to go with it. Then your gift can be that much more special!

This offer will only be available now through December 31st, and it is US/CAN/UK only.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All The Decisions

If you've been following me at all this week or last, you've probably noticed a lot of references to the cover I've been working on for my self-published novel, RELAX, I'M A NINJA. I've been lucky enough to work with my close friend Michelle Argyle (who designs under Melissa Williams Cover Design), and it has been quite the interesting experience.

You see, I've been in traditional publishing for the past two and a half years since I sold TRANSPARENT. And as anyone who works with a publisher knows, you just have to let go of a lot of control. I never had much of a problem with that. I didn't feel like I needed to be intimately involved with cover design or marketing or whatever, and I've honestly really lucked out so far in the design department. I've LOVED the covers my publishers have given me.

So approaching a cover on my own was a foreign thing for me to do. Obviously I didn't do it ALL on my own—I hired a wonderful designer—but for the first time the direction of the cover fell solely to me. The approach from a marketing standpoint, the mood of the cover, the target demographic—these were things I had to decide. Little ol' me.

As I started working with Michelle, I gave her very vague directions and pretty much free reign. Then she kept coming back to me with a question that would surprise me every time she asked:

"Well, what do YOU want?"

And the variation: "What do YOU think?"

Each time I'd be like, "Me? What? Really? I have to decide these things and tell you what I want and what to do?"

I've never been asked for my opinion on a publishing thing so much in my life! It's both terrifying because the responsibility is all mine, but liberating because I'm in charge of my own work. This became another moment when the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing was a huge contrast. Neither necessarily bad. Just different. (Because if you've been in publishing at all, you probably know that no situation is ideal and every path has pros and cons.)

As I've said, I've loved having my covers designed for me by publishers. But I've also been pleasantly surprised by the process of personally collaborating with a designer myself.

Having this creative freedom is a refreshing thing, and I feel like it's injected a much-needed dose of fun, experimentation, and joy to my writing life. I'm learning new things, and that's exciting. It's also been very nice to have A Project to distract myself from being on sub on the traditional publishing side.

I can't wait to show off my new cover next year. It's going to be very hard to sit on for a couple months, but I know from my traditional publishing experience that releasing it nine months before launch is way too soon. So I will exercise self-restraint.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Blindsided! Less Than Two Months!

So today while I was working on the cover for RELAX, I'M A NINJA, it hit me that BLINDSIDED is less than two months away.

And then I promptly freaked out.

There's something about that two month mark that injects all the feels into an author. It means the book is going to be out there soon, not my own anymore. And that is a strange thing when I started said book this year and haven't had nearly as much time with it as my others.

But there's no stopping time. All I can do is ride the roller coaster and hope my readers will like where I took Fiona's story. I do, at least.

Enough of that, though. I have EVENTS to announce! I really hope to see you at these, especially my out-of-state signing that makes me fairly nervous.

BLINDSIDED Launch Party:
January 2, 2014
The King's English
Salt Lake City, UT.
(If you want to pre-order a signed copy—or you can't get there and want a signed copy—call the store at 801-484-9100 or order online.)

Southern California Signing—With Kiersten White and Shannon Messenger!
January 23, 2014
Oceanside Barnes & Noble
Oceanside, CA

Friday, November 1, 2013

Vegas Book Festival

If you're in the Vegas area this weekend, I will be at the Vegas Valley Book Festival! It's free to the public, and will feature a horde of amazing authors. Check out more info here. If you're just coming for me (because of course you are, right?), my panel is at 2:15 on November 2nd, and my signing is at 4:15 the same day.

Also, you should probably know I will be giving away a copy of BLINDSIDED and a copy of HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW while I'm there. You just have to be able to answer a TRANSPARENT trivia question to get the chance. So if you are gunning for those books, if you see me please feel free to ask for the question!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Full Circle Moment With Jodi Meadows

First—if you want to see some of my favorite/dream costumes—check out this guest post of mine. It was fun to put together and I don't want anyone to miss it!

Today I get to share a blurb that means a lot to me, because it comes from a person who has seen some of the worst examples of my writing. That person? The lovely Jodi Meadows, author of the Incarnate series. Here's what she said about HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW:

Heartwarming, dangerous, and enchanting: Natalie Whipple's HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW offers a delicious tale filled with sacrifice, a terrifying villain, and so many people I'd love to call friends. It's better than pudding! 

Way, way back, like 2008, I was querying my second project. My first project hadn't gotten any requests, and I decided to move on to my Zombie Romance Novel (yes, for reals). I wasn't a good writer yet, but I didn't know how to get better and hoped that someone out there might see my potential anyway.

Querying the Zombie Romance Novel didn't go much better than my first attempt. I was getting a lot of rejections, BUT I did get one little request of the 25 queries I sent on that project before I gave up yet again.

And that request was from Jodi.

Jodi was an agent's assistant at the time, and she became The Very First Person In Publishing To Request My Work. Suffice it to say, that's not something I ever forgot. That first request is a big deal—it's the small thing that gives an author hope that maybe, just maybe, I do have some talent. It kept me going, as all requests do during that hard query road.

Of course, Jodi and her agent did ultimately pass on the Zombie Romance Novel, but when I came at them with my Dragon Novel Jodi requested again. And in the end rejected again. The same happened with The Ninjas. But clearly there was something in my writing/ideas that she got, even if my writing was still not there.

So Jodi and I kinda got to know each other. We're not crit partners, but I think we've been following each other's journeys closely through the years. I remember when she sold INCARNATE, and how happy I was for her. I feel really privileged to know that she read and liked my words—that I finally figured out this writing thing enough for Jodi to give her Stamp Of Approval. It's definitely a full circle moment for me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

7-Word Pitch Winners!

Thank you, friends, for the awesome pitches you sent in! My favorite thing about this contest is seeing how creative you guys get. And your stories! I get so excited to crit when I see how much talent is out there. I'm really looking forward to how these pitches translate into the pages I will be reading.

Now, I picked winners solely based on my personal preferences and what I wanted to read. If I didn't pick your pitch, it has no bearing on the quality of your work or its potential to attract an agent/publisher. There were many great pitches and I just had to go with what grabbed me the most.

Shall we get on with it? I will share the first 6 winners and why I chose them, and then I will end with the GRAND PRIZE winner, who will also receive an ARC of HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW.

Beth Smith "Faithless girl meet town of true believers." — I loved the inherent conflict in this pitch, and the many possible directions this could be taken. I immediately wanted to see how this played out.

Kara "Shakespeare Festival road trip leads to LOVE!" — This caught my eye because of the topics involved. I was a techie in high school, so the idea of a Shakespeare Fest road trip warms the cockles of my heart.

Jenny "Zombie disease causes anxiety for germaphobic teenager." — This grabbed me because it was both funny with a hint of creepy, which reminds me of the awesome Carrie Harris. I'm a wuss when it comes to horror, but when there's humor fused with it I can totally get on board.

Leandra Wallace "Grieving teen fights gargoyles in 1777 Boston." — I liked the historical aspect of this, and am interested to see how the implied paranormal elements play in. Maybe because I'm in love with Sleepy Hollow, but 1777 Boston sounds like a cool time period to showcase.

Nicki "Reluctant princess betrothed to father's murderer." — The potential for conflict in these 7 words is just fabulous. And hey, I like princesses. Who doesn't like princesses now and then?

Steph Sessa "Framed for treason, synesthete fights for freedom." — Synesthesia is something I've always found very interesting, so that immediately caught my eye. I want to see how that pov is handled. It's sure to be a unique take on a "framed for treason" story.


Stephanie Lynn Smith "Teen girl science prodigy resurrects dead boyfriend." — I just...this has "recipe for disaster" written all over it, which is golden. Also, I'm feeling like it may have a Mary Shelly connection, because of the Frankenstein themes. Either way, it sounds like good fun to me.

Winners! Please email me at so that we can work out the details of the prizes. If you MS isn't ready, please still email me so that I know to delay your crit (which is totally okay).

Thanks to all who entered! This will be a yearly thing, so I hope to see some of you next time!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

House Of Ivy & Sorrow! Six Months!

I know I just had a contest for BLINDSIDED, but now it's six months until HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW releases and I find this very exciting!

Also, on October 10th, I passed my seven years of blogging mark, which begs to be celebrated. So part of this contest with also feature a chance to win a query and 10-page crit of your novel from yours truly. This is the only time in the year I offer this prize, just so you know.

AND, as if that's not enough to celebrate, I have a BLURB to share! Let's do that first:

"I can sum up this book in one word: COST. Everything in Natalie Whipple's HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW has a price. Every spell requires a sacrifice. But that's not where the price tags end. What is the price of a relationship? A friendship? A friend's life? And secrets. Secrets have the highest cost of all. A wonderful, dark tale of witches who feel all too human. Loved it!" 

Aprilynne Pike, bestselling author of awesomeness, creator of the Wings series, along with Life After Theft, the Earthbound series, and the upcoming Sleep No More
Awesome, right? I have to admit I love hearing Good Things about HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, because it's pretty much my pet book. Yes, my favorite of the things I've written to date (except for maybe the thing I have on sub, but it's close). I really hope people enjoy it, and I feel like now is also a good time to share a teaser, yes? Because six months! And prizes! And today is a party! (I feel like I should have cupcakes now...)


I slam the door behind me and lean against it. My heart pounds, though I’m not quite sure why. He didn’t seem like a bad person, but there was something evil with him. It was wrong for him to be here, to see me.
After I bolt the door, I head back to Nana. “Here are your spiders.”
Her white eyebrows furrow over her impossibly dark eyes. “What’s wrong?”
So much for hiding my panic. “Nothing. There was just a man at the gate. I sent him away.”
She goes to the window and pulls the green velvet curtain back, as if he’d still be there. “He didn’t come for a spell?”
I shake my head. “He . . . asked for Carmina.”
Her eyes snap to mine.
“He didn’t know she was dead.”
She shuts the curtain with far more force than necessary. “You are not to go out there again.”
“Wha . . . wait, what?” I didn’t expect her to be happy about the stranger, but this is harsh, even for her. “Why?”
“Not safe . . . not safe . . .” She goes to her cabinets, grabbing all sorts of eyes. Eyes—for which to see. Magic can be rather literal at times. “No good can come from those who seek the dead.”
“Would you mind explaining?”
No answer. She’s already in full incantation mode, the small cauldron heating on a Bunsen burner and all. Nana is an incredible witch. I watch in amazement as she goes through each phase at lightning speed, and by memory. I still have so much to learn from her. The liquid is almost finished by the time I realize what she’s doing.
I groan. “Do I have to?”
“Yes, child, before it’s too late.” She motions for me to come over.
I grab the small knife on her desk as I go. Payment. Always. I hold my finger over the bubbling liquid and cut. It doesn’t sting until the blood is already dripping. I watch, only because I have to know when to stop the flow. The concoction turns from green to autumn orange. I pull my hand back and search for a tissue.
“That’s it. . . .” Nana waves her hands over the baby cauldron. In an instant a ghostlike figure appears—the man, with his sad eyes and nice suit, right from my fresh memories.

Cool, right? Okay, on to the PRIZES and how to win them. Admittedly, this contest is for The Writers out there, but I will have more contests! I still have a handful of ARCs to give away before HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW releases.


How To Enter: It's simple, really. You have a novel? I want to hear your pitch in seven words (To honor  seven years blogging, of course. Last year it was a six-word pitch, so no complaining you get a whole extra word!).

You may give that pitch here in comments, on Twitter (@nataliewhipple), or on my FB page. I will pick SEVEN favorites as the winners. And so you know, my winners have had shockingly good success in querying—three of the six winners last year emailed me to let me know they got agents, and one of them even sold their novel! (Yes, I'm totally proud of them and so excited.)

Prizes: The seven winners will all receive a query and 10-page crit of their novel. My favorite entry will also get an ARC of HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW plus swag.

Deadline: You have one week to enter! That means all entries are due October 22, 2013, at midnight Mountain Time. I will post winners October 23rd.

Good luck if you enter! This was one of my favorite things I did last year, so I can't wait to see how you pitch your novels in seven words!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

BLINDSIDED Contest Winners!

Hullo! Today is the day I get to tell five lovely people that they won BLINDSIDED! This means it's a good day. I like good days. And I hope these people will now have good days because they won. So without further ado:

1. Jenni King (@jenniewrites)
2. Skye (@skyelyte)
3. Fly To The Sky (@Read_LiveGreen)
4. Isabel (@parksseu)
5. Janci Patterson (@jancipatterson)

Congratulations, winners! And thanks so much for sharing your fun glasses pics with me—they kept me smiling all week. You will receive not only a copy of BLINDSIDED, but bookmarks and the ever-coveted Pop Tart Charm Necklace Of Awesome. Please email me at so that we can work out details.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

For The Bad Days

Cloudy February day at Swami's Beach in Encinitas, CA.
Yes, those dots in the ocean are surfers.
I have a lot of bad days. It's something that comes with the territory of being both a person with anxiety and a person who writes. Some days all I have to do is wake up and feel the crushing anxiety to know there will be major struggles in coping all my waking hours.

Which makes it hard to get out of bed sometimes. But I try to do that anyway.

Lately I've been having tons of really bad days. It happens—I've kind of accepted that I will have these anxiety-ridden times and that they don't often have logical reasons to go with them. I try to take care of myself when they come, because I know if I don't I'll be facing depression as well as the usual anxiety. Which is something I'm very close to at the moment. It's exhausting and also annoying.

So I want to talk about what you do when you're having a bad day. Or maybe even several bad days in a row. Or a whole month. Or even more.

Because if you're a writer, chances are you'll have bad days even if you aren't diagnosed with something like anxiety or depression. Writing is special like that—able to bring both the greatest joy and deepest sorrow. Not to mention a heavy helping of frustration.

I posted this pic I took while I was in CA because that day was a big deal for me in a lot of ways. But in reference to this topic, it greatly inspired me to see these surfers head out into the ocean on a cold, rainy day. I thought, "They must really love what they do if they're willing to get in that frigid water. That's dedication."

My friends, sometimes writing is like this. Cold, hard, unforgiving. Do we only get in the water when it's nice? Or do we still go out when the rain is falling and it doesn't look like much fun? With that, here's my advice:

Do What You Can
Bad days are days that it's easy to give up and do no work. I admit to falling prey to this more than once. It even happened last week. I didn't write for days because I was just plain sad and that made me tired and both of those made me wonder if I should keep doing this writing thing.

I had no excuses. I just didn't write because I didn't want to. I hate when I do that, when I let the bad thoughts win. They can be quite persuasive at times.

But, for the most part, I try to do what I can even when I'm down. It's usually not a lot, but it's something. A page written. A chapter edited. An important email sent. Something.

Because something is better than nothing. Moving forward, be it the tiniest of steps, is moving. And moving is better than standing still. When I stand still, that's when I dig the hole I'm in even deeper. That's when the dark thoughts come out to play—and they bring all their friends. The longer you do nothing, the easier it will be for you to beat yourself up. This brings me to my next point:

Be Gentle With Yourself
Bad days happen to everyone. It's normal. While it's important to keep going as best as you can, it's also vital to cut yourself some slack on the days when the words just aren't happening or you get a particularly stinging rejection or you find out B&N isn't stocking your novel. Whatever it may be—it's okay to ease up on yourself and allow yourself a day to feel like crap.

Be honest with how you feel and face it now, rather than putting it off. You can't stop emotions from happening, though you can delay them. Which usually leads to them getting worse.

On a bad day, don't beat yourself up for not hitting your goal. Praise yourself for trying in the first place. Recognize that trying is an accomplishment in and of itself. Lots of people don't even get that far.

And sometimes, let's face it, you just need a break. Breaks are okay. You know when you need one, and sometimes that will rejuvenate you if the pushing forward doesn't.

Do Non-Writer Things You Love
Relax. Take that nap. Watch a favorite show. Eat something you love. Go for a run. Play a game. Blast some music. Cuddle an animal. Bathe in chocolate. Whatever.

When I get down about my writing, it's really easy to feel like writing is my whole world and because that sucks then everything else must suck, too. If I can manage to get myself away from my work, it gives me perspective. I remember, "Oh hey, I'm more than a writer and my life is more than what's happening in publishing. Other things are good and I'm not as sucky as I think."

It's important to put things in perspective. When I stare at this screen too much it seems like it's the world—but the world is outside. It's a lot more than the internet and a Word doc.

Doing non-writer things I enjoy, ironically enough, also tends to inspire me. When I'm away from my work suddenly I might find something new to excite me about it again. Burn out is a real thing, and having hobbies is a good way to combat it.

Reach Out To Loved Ones
When I'm feeling bad about myself and my work, my first instinct is to hole up and have a big ol' pity party of one. I don't want to burden other people with my whining or what I feel are stupid problems. It's hard for me to tell people I'm struggling.

But I've learned it makes me feel a whole lot better.

You don't have to profess your struggles to everyone in the world, but I find a huge amount of help just by reaching out to one person. Be it a friend, my husband, or my mother. Talking about it, having someone there to offer understanding—that makes a huge difference in how I feel. So while it can sometimes be uncomfortable, I have people I trust who I know will listen until I talk out my angst and get over myself.

Stay Away From The Internet
The internet is poison when you're having a bad day. Because sometimes even the smallest good news from another person will set you down a horrible path of comparison. You don't need to add envy to your life when you're already feeling insecure and down on yourself or your work. And if not envy, you could just get flat out angry, which leads to the tendency to rant. And if not those, you'll find hopelessness, and maybe serious thoughts of giving up because it all feels impossible. Perhaps you'll feel all of that at once.

That is an icky emotional cocktail—I say that from way too much experience.

So the internet, back away slowly. And if you can't seem to stop the impulsive checking, I highly recommend blocking it in other ways. There's Mac Freedom, turning off your internet, or if you have a savvy husband like me I have him block social media sites. That way I can still use the internet for research but can't go places that make me feel worse on my bad days.

If It's Really Bad, Seek Professional Help
There are bad days, and then there are BAD DAYS. I went for a long time not understanding just how bad my days were getting, and it wasn't until it got dangerous for myself and my family that I realized I needed more help than a break and some chocolate could provide.

If you're starting to find that you're having more bad days than good. If these feelings are impeding you from performing normal, daily tasks. If they are interfering with your relationships. If they are causing you to consider hurting yourself or others. Please, please seek help. You might not think you need it, but I promise you it doesn't hurt. It wasn't until after I got help that I realized just how bad a place I was in. And while I still have bad days, it's nothing like it was before.

There's nothing wrong with getting the help you might need. Don't let the bad days get out of control.

Bad Days Can Turn Around
When I think of those surfers who have the dedication to get out there on the cold days, I realize they know something other people might not—things aren't always as they appear. Sometimes once you get in the water and start moving, things aren't as bad as they look. You get used to the cold water, and hey, the waves are pretty good. You can have fun on rainy days just as much as the sunny ones.

There are days where the last thing I want to do is work. But somehow I find the strength to just get in the water, and by the time I get going I realize I'm having a lot more fun writing than I thought I would that day. And then I write a whole chapter, grateful I decided to just do it even if it didn't look like it'd be fun.

Good luck on your bad days. Hope this helps.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

BLINDSIDED Is Coming! You Could Get One!

Three months from today, BLINDSIDED will officially be out in the world! Can you believe it? I hardly can. It's not often that a book you started writing this year comes out almost exactly a year after—I'm honestly still getting used to the fact that it's done, and here people will be able to READ IT.

I think the weirdest thing of all is that BLINDSIDED hasn't had the whole ARC process like my other books. Not even many of my writer friends have read it! So I haven't seen much feedback about whether on not people like it, and that's a bit scary but also kinda cool because I don't get slammed with the random tweeted @ me bad review or what not.



Things are about to change. Because I will soon have FINISHED COPIES of the mysterious BLINDSIDED, sequel to TRANSPARENT, that I'm pretending you are all dying for. In fact, Hot Key told me just today that they are packing up my author copies to send across the pond—and they are including FIVE extra copies for you guys.

Yes, you read that right.

I have super early finished copies of BLINDSIDED, and I am giving FIVE of them away to you lovely people.

How You Enter To Possibly Win BLINDSIDED (and swag): 
Fiona, leading lady of the TRANSPARENT series, loves funky glasses and shades because wearing them helps people know where her invisible face is. So in honor of her, I want you to take a picture in the coolest glasses/shades you have or can find—then post that picture to My Author Facebook Page OR post it on Twitter with the hashtag #BLINDSIDEDcontest (you could even @ me if you want to be sure I don't miss it). 

I will take the names of the entries as they come in, and then five will be drawn as winners.

You have until October 9th, midnight Mountain Time, to enter.

Also, yes, the contest is international, since there just won't be that many chances to win an early copy! I may be able to do one or two more giveaways, but if you want BLINDSIDED before it comes out don't miss this chance to get it!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Self-Publishing: The Business License

You guys asked for it—so I'm gonna talk here and there about my journey through the self-publishing world. I am still a major newbie here, so all veterans are welcome to add their advice to those thinking about this path or those just starting out like me. 

Today it's all about the business license. 

There were so many questions I had starting out, and I kind of struggled finding the "nuts and bolts" information on self-publishing amongst all the "should I do it or not?" discussions. So this post gets into the practical, slightly dry information. I will provide the questions I've asked and the answers I've found thus far. If I find more answers or you ask more questions, I'll update this post with those.

Do I Need A Business License To Self-Publish?
My personal answer is YES—you should get a business license if you plan on self-publishing long term and for, ideally, significant profit.

Technically, though, if you are doing business under your given name, you do NOT need a business license as long as you report your income from self-publishing in your taxes. 

But still, I'd get one. In fact, I did.

If you want to do business under a "company name" or if you want to incorporate, if you want to sell hard copies by hand or have legal protection—you might want to consider going through the tedious-but-not-that-difficult process.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Business License?
I'd say the first benefit is being "legit." At least in your state and country's eyes. We all know taxes can be a nightmare as writers, and it's important to have the right documents to make sure it all turns out well. There are lots of ID numbers that are good to have as you report state and federal taxes.

Also, if you plan on carrying stock of your book (as in paperbacks or hardbacks) to sell personally, you'll need a business license in your state to do so. Ebooks are sold through online distributors so it's not as necessary if you're only doing online, but still a good idea.

There are many types of business licenses, but the two most people consider are "sole proprietorship" and an "LLC or incorporated thing-a-ma-bob (official term, okay not really)."

If you have a sole proprietorship, that basically means you are the only owner and likely only employee—you are responsible for all the things. It doesn't give much legal benefit, but it does provide you with a license that other businesses recognize. There are some POD (print-on-demand) distributors that you can't register with unless you have a business license number. 

If you incorporate, there are more legal advantages. Mainly in the "protection" vein. It means if the IRS decides to audit your business gets audited, not you personally. It means if someone wants to sue you for stealing their idea or defamation or whatever, your business gets sued and not you personally. 

There's other stuff, of course, but that's the basics from this newb.

How The Crap Do I Get One?
Oh, this is where the fun begins! Because every city and state is slightly different, so it's hard to say what, exactly, you might need to do to acquire your license. But I think I can give you a skeleton of the process that should help you start. 

First, while there is information online, I found a lot of it confusing as a newbie. It was hard to know if I was doing it right or not. If you want the exact details on how to get a business license in your city, I highly recommend going to your city hall. Mine had a sweet lady who was solely in charge of business licenses, and she filled in all the gaps of my understanding easily. She confirmed I had some things right and gave me the rest of the forms I needed to fill out—plus she explained why I needed them. It was lovely in comparison to trying to wade through the online stuff.

But here is a digest of what I ran around trying to learn:

Phase One: Acquiring The ID NumbersBefore you can get a business license from your city, there are a lot of numbers you have to get first. They are: 1) Federal Tax ID 2) State Tax ID and a 3) Business Entity Number (if you are DBA [Doing Business As] another name than your own—if you are not, you likely don't need to register your given name as an entity). 

I was able to acquire my Federal and State Tax IDs free of charge, and I say this because I almost got swindled by a website that looked like the Federal site but then asked me to pay a fee for registering. I assume this website was a scam. So be careful! The government is apparently happy to issue tax numbers for free—they want you to pay taxes, of course.

The Business Entity Number, at least in Utah, requires a fee to register. It has to be a name that hasn't been taken yet, of course. I think you can check with your state's registry to find out if your potential business name is already in use.

Phase Two: Meeting City RequirementsThis is where I can't tell you exactly what you need to do, as it varies city to city. But I can tell you there will likely be a few additional forms you have to fill out. Since I am doing business from my home, I had to fill out a "home occupancy" form. There was also a fire inspection form I had to fill out and sign in front of a notary. 

Of course, there is a fee for the city business license, and it's something you have to renew every year. So once you get through all the tedious forms and waiting for stuff to show up, you're done! Unless you move...then you'd have to go through more forms, I'm sure.
Once you turn in your city papers, you'll get an official paper that is your business license, and then you will dance and rejoice for having survived the forms. At least I did.

And those are the basics! If you have questions, you may ask in comments. But I'll be honest and say I can't guarantee a good answer, since I'm just learning myself. Maybe there will be smarter people amongst my readers who can. My readers are pretty dang intelligent, after all.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Decision To Self-Publish

I drew this back before skinny jeans were in.
Now poor Tosh and Amy look terribly out of fashion.
A couple weeks ago I revealed in a fairly embarrassing video that I have decided to self-publish my novel that didn't sell to a traditional publisher, RELAX, I'M A NINJA.

I've been meaning to post something longer about why, but as usual life tends to get in the way of being online, lately. But here I am! I even went to the effort to upload an old old old scene I drew from the novel! You know, to make the post fancy.

Okay, so years ago I wrote a rather lengthy post about why I was choosing not to self-publish. After I revealed my 15-month struggle on sub, I had a lot of people encouraging me to self-pub. At the time I had lots of good reasons not to, and some of those still scare me but I'm trying to get over it.

Looking back on it, I think I was ultimately looking for validation. And I believed I could get that through a traditional publisher saying my book was good enough to publish.

So there it is: I'm admitting validation was something I desperately craved as an aspiring author. I'm not sure why—maybe because I'd been through so much rejection that I believed the only way to negate that mountain of NO was to get a YES at some point. But more than that, I think I still believed that outside validation would fix all the bad feelings I had inside.

Well, it didn't. Obviously the story goes that I sold a book, two, actually. And now another one, bringing it to three. Yet still, even as my debut approached, I didn't feel legit. I didn't feel like my work was of worth or that I'd been validated the way I hoped. That's when I realized no amount of accomplishment would fill that hole inside. No amount of outside praise would make me feel better about myself. The only person who could fix me inside, change my thought process, was myself.

When, after debuting and achieving the goals I so long held, I was still feeling like a crap writer and that my stories sucked and I'll never sell as much as I'm expected to sell—that's when I realized that I had to do something about my confidence issues. I couldn't continue to tell myself these things, to berate myself and my work.

So this summer I did a lot of soul searching. I tried to identify when these negative patterns in my life began, and I discovered most of them could be traced back to my nervous breakdown over the RELAX, I'M A NINJA submission. Even though that happened in 2010, so long ago, I still hadn't fully healed from it emotionally. I have been better, of course, but not healed. I realized I've been reopening that wound, picking at the scab, you could say, instead of letting it go.

I came to the conclusion that the rejections for that book never really sat well with me. That I never felt like it wasn't "fair" that the book didn't get published. Now that I had more experience with the market, I realized NINJA was indeed a hard fit. It's essentially a male-centered romance, which I thought was totally normal at the time because I watch anime. You see, male-centered/targeted romance IS a genre in anime—you see it in shows like Tenchi Muyo, Ah! My Goddess, My Bride Is A Mermaid, etc. It features a somewhat awkward boy navigating his first romantic experiences while also showcasing more significant action and humor or both. Lots of times a supernatural element is present.

For the most part, this genre does not exist in mainstream American media.

My little anime-loving self had no clue.

This is when the first seeds of self-pubbing NINJA were planted. Because maybe the book wasn't bad—maybe it really was purely a marketing issue. So I got up the courage to open the document after like 4 years in the vault. I started reading it, and when I still smiled at my own jokes I knew this was something I wanted to go back to. I knew it was something I could share without being embarrassed of it.

I knew the only way to share a manuscript that was already rejected by every major publishing house (by several imprints each, even) was to self-publish it.

And that's when I kinda freaked out.

Because as I said years ago, I have a ton of respect for self-pubbers and how hard they work. I knew if I really wanted NINJA out there, I'd have to push through the fear and learn how to self-publish. But I was shocked to find I was ready to do that.

I don't entirely know why. Maybe because I've been through so much editing with three published novels that I feel more confident in my capabilities. And I also know what it takes to get a book to a quality level, when I honestly didn't know that before. Maybe I didn't feel like I could self-pub the right way, and now I feel like I am capable of learning and putting out a quality project. I think part of me also sees this move as a way to "close the door" on the event that entirely wrecked me mentally. Because I really want to put that part of my life firmly behind me, so that I can move forward more confidently.

There are still a lot of things that scare me about self-publishing. I still don't really have the money to do it, but I have hopes to at least make back what I put in. I still feel like a noob about almost everything, but it's also been fun to learn something new, to expand my knowledge in ways that could help me share my less commercial stories.

But there are so many things that also excite me. After having relinquished almost all control for the last several years, I'm looking forward to a project in which I get to do what I want. Not that I want that for all my projects, but it feels like a stimulating creative endeavor for me. I also look forward to being able to share a book that played a huge role in where I am today—RELAX, I'M A NINJA was the book that got my first agent, the book I learned how to truly edit on, the book I believed more than any before would be published.

I still haven't decided how much I want to talk on my blog about my self-pubbing journeys, but if that's something you guys want to hear about please let me know.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

All Day Q&A!

It's that time again! I'm answering all your burning questions (even those that aren't on fire)—just ask away here, on Facebook, or on Twitter. You may ask multiple questions, and I'll answer everything sent to me before midnight Mountain Time. The questions don't have to be about writing. They can be embarrassing. Basically, today I am yours.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dreaming The Dream

On Saturday I had a signing, which even after a few events still kinda feels surreal. Sometimes I don't feel like this is actually my job—that I got the dream I wanted for so long. Part of this might be due to the fact that I'm afraid it'll all slip out of my hands, and another part may have to do with how different "the dream" matches up to "the reality."

But at my signing, I was flung back to before I had written my first full novel. Back to when being an author was a big fat dream and I had no idea how long it would take to achieve it—or if I ever would.

You see, a girl came up to me that night. I'm not sure how old she was, but I'm guessing young 20s. She didn't buy a book. She seemed really nervous to even talk to me, but also curious and hopeful and excited at the same time.

She asked me how long it took me to write my book, and of course I told her a little about my publishing journey. I tried to be honest while also being encouraging—I hope I didn't scare her off with my almost 8-year-long road to publication. It's such a hard balance to strike, between giving real information and not being too "this is ridiculously hard."

She smiled and nodded at me, saying, "It's my dream to publish just one book. Just one. To accomplish that would be amazing."

Those words. They flung me back to over a decade ago when I was in college and dreaming of the exact same thing. Just one book. I remember feeling like if I could just write one novel, if I could get one single book published, if I could see my name on a cover—then I will have accomplished a lifelong dream. I didn't need fame or fortune, awards or book tours. All I wanted was my name on a novel. To see that novel on a shelf. It felt like a huge and lofty undertaking.

As I sat there, looking at this sweet young woman with hope and big dreams, I realized I was looking at my past self. Though I don't know her name, though she wasn't really my fan or anything, I'm not sure I'll ever forget that moment.

How greedy I've now become. That's what I've been thinking about the last few days. Somewhere along the way, that one book on a shelf with my name on it has morphed into wanting more. More books. More attention. More money. More success. I'd forgotten just how "simple" my dream used to be. How pure, you might say. I forget that I've already achieved the thing that felt so impossible just a decade ago.

I have come a long way. It's crazy to think I'm now the author on the other side of the table. The person with a book out there and more to come.

Thank you, young aspiring writer girl at my signing, for reminding me to be more grateful. Sometimes I forget how far away publishing a novel felt when I was on your side of the table. When I hadn't even started that first serious novel. I don't know where you are or if you'll ever see this, but I hope you reach for your goal, hard as it may be. I wish you all the luck in the world, and I pray you don't ever forget how awesome your dream is.

And if you do, I hope you meet a hopeful young writer who reminds you, just like you did to me.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I Have A Secret To Tell You.

And there are ninjas in it. If you want to know more, please check out this video I did for Friday The Thirteeners! I cry, but if you're patient I'll tell you what I've been up to this summer when I haven't been working on BLINDSIDED:)

Friday, August 30, 2013

It's Important To Celebrate The Little Things

When I got my first pass pages for TRANSPARENT, I decided  that I'd start a little—if not kinda silly—tradition. I took my title page, signed it, and then framed it. I felt like a dork, but now that I have this picture above I'm pretty happy I did something small to commemorate the completion of my published (or to-be-published) novels.

Because it's important to remember milestones like this, you know? Now that I've been published for a few months, I've started to realize that the idea is becoming "normal" for me. And when things become normal we sometimes forget how special and BIG and lifetime-goal-reached they once were.

I don't want that to happen to me.

I want to remember this feeling I have right now—as I'm looking at BLINDSIDED all designed and in layout. It's really gonna be a book soon, and that means that I'll technically have a series which is something I didn't expect to have. That's pretty awesome. I can't forget how lucky I am.

It's so easy to forget, isn't it? Once we've accomplished one thing, we so quickly turn to the next goal in sight. We don't look back and see how far we've come. But there's something to be said for looking back now and then, for acknowledging our work and being proud of the journey we've taken.

Today, if you read this, I hope you can take a moment to reflect and be proud of your own journey. No matter where you happen to be along the path.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Letter To Renee Collins On Her Debut Day

Magical! Fantasy! Western!
How could you not buy it?
Dearest Renee,

Your heart is probably racing already, and the day has hardly begun. My guess is that you are feeling things. Lots of things. Some of those emotions are probably in the fear and overwhelming category, and others are in the joy and gratitude area. And that's okay, because today is the day your first book debuts to world.

This makes me very happy, and I'm sure it makes you happy, too, though exponentially more and mixed with a lot of other complicated things. You might be freaking out a little—I wish I lived close enough to take you to lunch, because that sure helped me to have my friends surrounding me on such a big day.

Can you believe it's been over five years since we met? I know we've nostalgically talked about those times before, but it's days like today where those memories come flying back to me. Of the first times we critted each other's manuscripts. Or how exciting it was to make a real friend on the internet. And of course the first time we got to meet in person! Not to mention all those philosophical journeys we've endured together.

Okay, this is starting to sound awkwardly romantic. Let me back this train up a bit. Er, what I want to say to you today are things that our dear friends said to me on my debut day. Perhaps all writers hear this from their already-published author friends on this day—and it's okay if you don't listen because I certainly didn't. At first. I'm doing a little better now.

First, take deep breaths. It won't solve everything, but your heart is still racing, right? That'll keep it in check today. We don't want you having a heart attack. You need to make it to your Utah signing so I can see you.

Second, do something nice for yourself today. Or better yet, lots of things. I hope you are going out to lunch or dinner, and maybe even visiting your beautiful RELIC at the bookstore (and don't worry if it's not on the shelf yet—mine wasn't but they got it out for me). Buy yourself something to remember this day by. Be with the people you love. Go places that make you feel peace and joy.

Third, don't forget that this is just the beginning. Now, you know I've struggled with this one, with feeling like if I don't succeed RIGHT NOW that it will never happen and my career will be tanked before it even began. It's very easy to fall into that, to look at numbers and feel like it's not enough. But this author thing isn't a one day thing or even a one year thing—you are now published and that will be part of your life forever. That is awesome. You are awesome. Your book is awesome. Regardless of how quickly or slowly things start.

Next, some things will change and some just won't. What freaked me out most after I debuted was how the people in my life (mostly acquaintances) began treating me. Not that it was bad, but the questions change. Kinda like how before you get married everyone asks when will you, and then after you get married everyone asks when you'll have kids. It might be weird. It might take adjusting. That's okay. And of course there's the things that stay shockingly the same—mostly the writing and plain work of this job.

And finally, be proud of what you've done. You've published a book! We all know just how hard that is to do. It's so easy for us writers to diminish that accomplishment when it's what we are working for everyday, but it IS a big deal. Today is a HUGE deal! Because it's the day that all your hard work has been invested in—and it's paid off. Never feel guilty for being PROUD of that.

So, my friend, I hope this day is everything you hoped for and more. Things may never stop being crazy (they certainly haven't stopped for me), but take this momentous day to remember how far you've come. Remember how much you love this story you wrote, and have faith that many other people will love it, too.

I'll be drinking Dr. Pepper in your honor today.

Love ya,