The new picture

Last December, my first novel was published. Demon’s Heart had a beautiful cover, a legit publisher, and all my words stacked up so neat and pretty inside of it. It was in Barnes and Noble, people!

It was a big deal. This had only been my life’s dream since fifth grade. I certainly had never imagined that it would happen by the time I was twenty-four.

That whole year was kind of an upheaval for me. When I signed the contract back in March 2014, I was still a brand-new mom without the slightest idea of what I was doing in any area of my life. I juggled a lot of mommy-learning and publishing-learning, and sometimes I really wondered what I was doing there.

After the release and the fanfare and the blog tour and book launch and signing and all that craziness were over with, I went home with my little family for “quiet” (read: no Demon’s Heart-related activities) Christmas. And I wondered:

What happens now?

There were two more books in the trilogy to work on, of course. There was marketing, there was blogging, there was social-media-ing.

But I was in such a different place, and I didn’t know what to do with that. Things changed. I changed. A lot of things I thought I’d known about books and writing and the world changed.

Nine months later, I’m accepting the changes. I have a new path laid out, a path that will inevitably twist away from where I see it going, but one that at least gives me a direction to start walking.

I wanted to do something to kick off this new direction, and I decided to make it something I’ve been reluctant to do for a long while: changing my picture. See, my profile picture on all my social media accounts has been the one in the back of Demon’s Heart, because I felt like it somehow connected me more solidly to the book.

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But the thing is, I don’t look like that anymore. I started wearing glasses instead of contacts, I chopped off my hair, and all my freckles came out in the summer sunshine.

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I know, I’m not wearing glasses in this picture. But reflect-y glasses make good pictures difficult.

So this is me letting go of that insanely frazzled, lost, and terrified person of last December. This is me accepting that my goals have changed, my opinions have changed, and my paths have changed. This is me taking a few baby steps into foreign lands and hoping I’ll run into some old and new friends along the way.

Wish me luck!

All together now . . .

I’m not one of those scribble-on-napkins authors. I’ve never been able to write my story ideas on whatever scrap of paper is handy, because I’m so paranoid about it getting lost. When I was younger, I had specific notebooks devoted to specific story ideas, and not one of those notebooks could ever be spoiled with anything other than its designated story. It just couldn’t be done.

For years now, though, I’ve been writing on the computer, and I love my layers and layers of files neatly organized by story, type, and draft. I have files from middle school in this folder, guys. It literally has my life’s work in it.

When I finally gave in and got a new computer a couple of months ago, I thought it might be time to trim away some of the excess bulk. Because really, who needs 90 folders containing 1,111 files?

Well, I do, as it turns out. I had no idea how often I refer to older drafts and older story ideas to shape what I’m writing. I don’t just pull from the fourth draft to write the fifth draft; I pull from all previous incarnations of the story, including pre-drafts when it was a completely different story altogether. And then maybe I pull a few aspects from a story I trashed years ago, and then I get some inspiration from a story that’s been simmering on the back burner for a while.

So yesterday, I did a little cleanup to get it down to 1,035 files, reorganized my folders to make the first window a little less overwhelming, transferred it all over to my new computer, and breathed a sigh of relief. Now I’m ready to get back to work.

Take a peek a few levels deep into my endless spiral of story folders . . .

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New and improved welcome page of my Stories folder.

novus folder

Diving into my NOVUS series . . .

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. . . and book 1 of NOVUS, 2.5 drafts in.

How do you keep your writing organized? Or are you more likely to let your pages fly loose? Do you look back at past (and way-past) drafts, or do you let them gather dust?

A peek at the old bookshelves…

I’ve been a delinquent blogger. I know. But guys, the past two weeks have been jam-packed helping with last-minute moves, scribbling down spur-of-the-moment story inspirations, organizing school presentations in California, enjoying these rare sunny Washington days, and using PowerPoint for the first time since college.

Which, by the way, I’m still questioning. Should I use PowerPoint or Prezi for my school presentations? I love the eye-catchiness of Prezi, but I feel like PowerPoint is easier to organize. Thoughts?

So for my presentation, I finally took pictures of my bookshelves. The pictures don’t include the random stacks of books lying throughout our house, or the books still in boxes, or the bookshelf that’s not in our “library.” But they do hold a significant portion of our books.

May I present for your perusal: the books.

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Stitch hangin’ with the classics.

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YA, MG, PB. Why yes, I have Harry Potter in German. Doesn’t everybody?

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Pretty books, a machete, and more MG.

Hope you enjoyed the tour! I’d love to see your bookshelves–if you post a picture on your blog, send me the link!

Out they come, the brainy specs!

Until recently, I had only owned two different pairs of glasses in my life, and I didn’t particularly like either of them. Contacts were my preferred method of being able to see, and my glasses existed pretty much to get me from the bathroom to the bedroom at night without running into anything.

However, as my glasses were two or three prescriptions behind and my contacts don’t agree well with Washington allergens, I decided it was finally time to get some glasses I didn’t mind wearing in public. And thus came . . . the brainy specs!

"You don't even need them. You just think they make you look a bit clever."

“You don’t even need them. You just think they make you look a bit clever.”

Unlike the dear Doctor, I do need my brainy specs, but I’m not against them making me look a bit clever. Or, you know, a bit more authory.

All right, enough goofing off. Time to get back to work. My writing is certain to be fabulously inspirational under the influence of such literary spectacles as those I wear.

I’m Inspiring!

My fabulous friend Amy from Inkcouragement nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger award! Her blog is one of my favorites, so click on over and check it out!

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Like most awards, this one comes with rules:

1.Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.

2.List the rules and display the award.

3. Describe three things that have inspired you recently.

4.Share seven facts about yourself.

5.Nominate a few other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated

6.Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

* * *

Three things that have inspired me recently:

1. My baby girl. She is one of the most crazy-determined people I have ever seen. It’s hard to believe that in only a few short months, she’s gone from kicking helplessly on her back to running around the house like a maniac. She’s a champ.

2. Music. Not any music in particular, just music. It always inspires me onward and upward, whether it’s in editing or washing dishes or making it to naptime.

3. Stonewall Jackson. “Never take counsel from your fears.”

* * *

About me:

1. Wearing mismatched socks gives me superpowers. Namely, standing in front of a group of people without wanting to sprint out of the room. If you ever see me giving a presentation, you’d better believe my socks don’t match.

2. I can’t whistle. I’ve tried for years.

3. I grew up in Northern California, and I call almonds “ammonds” to prove it.

4. I quote movies. All the time. Sometimes movies I haven’t even seen.

5. #10 is my Doctor. Though there’s a special place in my heart for #5 as well.

6. I still have two left? Let’s see . . . I love the sound of rain falling at night. And petrichor.

7. I am so not a night owl. I’m absolutely useless after 10:00 pm.

* * *

And now on to the best part of awards: the new nominees!

Suzanne from Tattooed Missionary. Her posts never fail to make me think, and she is always so positive. Definitely an inspirational blogger.

And Bookgirl, one of my favorite book bloggers! I love her reviews, and she also has some great thought-provoking posts, like the one on book ratings.

Thanks again, Amy!

To 100 and Beyond!

So many exciting things have been happening, and I haven’t had the time to blog about any of them!

  • I passed 100 followers last week. That was pretty cool.
  • I got a Goodreads update email—and two of my friends had added Demon’s Heart to their to-read list! Nothing like seeing your cover on a Goodreads email to make it real. Check out the Goodreads page for Demon’s Heart.
  • There is now a pre-order button for my book on my website. You can pre-order through either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
  • In book-unrelated news, I played tennis for the first time in a couple of years on Saturday. I live in a place where the courts are only dry for three months out of the year, and I missed those three months last year due to traveling and a baby. I love tennis, and it was so good to get out on the court again.
  • And finally, I’m almost done with a crafty sewing project that I started back in November. It’s been sitting on a shelf for months, and I finally pulled out my sewing machine and have been getting the last few pieces sewn on. I feel about sewing machines the way Calvin feels about his bicycle, so this is a big deal.

Happy July, everybody!

Wieder Geliebt

I feel doubly loved—I’ve been granted the Liebster Award once again!

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The rules vary slightly this round, so you’re spared the eleven “About Me” facts. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the blogger who gave it to you.
  • Answer the 11 questions they ask you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 500 followers.
  • Ask those 11 bloggers 11 questions.
  • Let those bloggers know they’ve been nominated so they can continue the chain!

Thank you, Suzanne, for the award! I recently discovered her blog, TattooedMissionary, and have loved her faith, her charm, and her open, honest style.

And on to the questions:

What three words would you NOT use to describe yourself?
Chthonic, antediluvian, asinine.

What would thirteen-year-old you find surprising about your life right now?
That I’m actually getting a novel published. I still find that surprising.

If you could go back to school (for free!!), would you? What would you study?
I would if I could just take whatever classes I wanted. I barely managed to focus enough to graduate once.

In a movie of your life, who would portray you?
I don’t know. I only know a handful of actors’ names. Maybe the girl from Spiderman? Emma Stone? We kind of have similar first names—that’s enough, right?

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it include?
Burrito bowls. Covers all food groups with plenty of room for variation.

If you had to play Never Have I Ever (a game where each player says something they’ve never done and everyone else who has done that thing loses a point) with three celebrities, who would they be?
Can I pick authors for my celebrities? JK Rowling (how could I not?), Jessica Day George (because I would have to grill her on what happens after Wednesdays in the Tower), and . . . oooh, John Flanagan.

What are your three favorite things about yourself?
I’m a mom, I’m an author, and I can make a mean batch of Nutella cookies.

What is your movie version of comfort food?
Sense and Sensibility. That moment when Emma Thompson bursts into tears at the end—classic!

What’s the last thing you did that really scared you?
Taught a self-defense class. And taught a Sunday School class of six-year-olds. Standing in front of people is a little terrifying.

What’s the next thing you’ll do that really scares you?
I’m not sure. These things tend to pop out of nowhere.

What’s your dream job?
Just what I’m doing: stay-at-home mom and author. I’m so blessed to be able to be able take on these roles right now.

Since I would probably just tag the same blogs I did with my last Liebster, I will forgo that section of the rules. Check out my first Liebster Award if you’re looking for some fantastic blogs.

Thanks again to Suzanne for this award!

Progress Report

Is it June already? There was a time back in February when I thought June would never come. Now I’m scrambling to reach my goal of completing a first draft of book 2 in my trilogy before my edits for Demon’s Heart come back. I’m trying chapter 20 for the third time and hoping that this version doesn’t plunk into a pit to die like the previous two have. Hopefully I can get through the last few chapters before my two other novels come butting in with unsolicited inspiration again.

I’m also running twice a week and I think I might die. But it’s getting better. I don’t think it would be so bad if I didn’t have a severe uphill slope in all directions from my house—but it builds character, right?

What have you all got going on this June? Any writing goals? Or other goals?

Liebster Award!

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Cathy from Drowning in Rough Drafts nominated me for the Liebster Award! I feel loved. And, come on, the name of the award is German. How could I refuse?

So here’s the deal:

  • The nominated person must link back to the person that nominated them.
  • Provide 11 facts about yourself
  • Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you
  • Choose 11 more people (with under 200 followers) and ask them 11 questions

I feel a little goofy doing all the “about me” stuff, but here goes:

1. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
2. I have a baby girl who looks kind of like this:
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Seriously, I’m sometimes tempted to see if her hair glows when I sing.
3. I’m an avid Doctor Who fan. David Tennant is my Doctor, but my favorite classic Doctor is Peter Davison.
4. I love music. I play the piano and have dabbled in clarinet, trumpet, and guitar.
5. I love tennis and am a major Roger Federer fan.
6. Christmas music is fair game all year round in my house.
7. Peach orchards and rice fields are two of my favorite smells in the world.
8. I majored in German Linguistics and spent a summer in Berlin. I miss Germany like crazy.
9. Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors.
10. It makes me a little crazy how many times the word “I” appears in this list.
11. The last word added to my list of fun words is “quidnunc,” which is a nosey person, from the Latin for “what now?” (Thanks to Literary Interest!)

And Cathy’s questions:

1. Describe one interesting physical feature about yourself.
Double-jointed thumbs. I dominate at thumb wars.

2. What’s your favourite colour?
Blue, green, purple, red, yellow. In that order.

3. Who’s your favourite actor/actress?
Probably Benedict Cumberbatch. Seriously–prime minister, Sherlock, dragon, Khan. What’s not to love?

4. Most overrated thing on this planet? (It can be ANYTHING!)
4. Oh dear. Pretty much anything you see in the headlines that involves a celebrity.

5. If there was one thing about yourself you could change, what would it be?  Physical or psychological.
Two more arms. Seriously, getting things done with a baby would be so much easier.

6. How was your day?
Fantastic! I heard from a good friend, broke through a wall on my story, and enjoyed the sunshine with my beautiful baby girl.

7. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Celebrity gossip. Seriously, people, who cares?!

8. Alright: iPhone or Android?
Neither, actually. I’m fairly low-tech. But in theory, I would probably go with Android.

9. Name 10 positive facts about someone you really detest.
I don’t know that I really detest anyone. Except maybe Professor Umbridge? Do I really have to come up with positive things about her?

10. What’s your favourite dessert?
Chocolate. Pretty much any kind of chocolate, though Happy Hippos are the most entertaining variety.

11. 5 facts you dislike about yourself and 5 facts you love about yourself.
I’m gonna cheat and only answer the second half of this question.
a. I know the difference between a hyphen, en dash, and em dash.
b. I’m a mom.
c. I can read Cornelia Funke’s novels in the original German.
d. I can sing along to a ridiculous number of musicals word-for-word, and I’m okay with that.
e. I’m a writer!

So as it turns out, I’m pretty lame and don’t follow nearly enough up-and-coming blogs. But here are my nominees:

 An Adventure Every Day
Inkcouragement
Megan O’Russell
A. D. Scroggins
Breakfast with Words