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!

The Power of the New

I’ve been writing stories since I was ten years old. Earlier, if you count the ridiculously detailed games of make-believe I used to press on my friends. And yet my method is always changing, morphing, expanding. In the past two months, I’ve done a whole lot of things that I’ve never done before, and it’s improving my writing in a way I never could have done while staying in my comfortable habit zone. Here’s what’s new in my writing world:

  • Outlined an entire series before starting on the first book. It’s ridiculously a lot easier to change an outline than to change a draft. You’d think I’d have figured this one out a long time ago.
  • Wrote a draft in six weeks. Never have I ever done NaNoWriMo. The very thought of it stresses me out. But with my handy-dandy detailed outline in hand, I punched out the fastest (and best) first draft I’ve ever accomplished.
  • Got feedback from a new reader. Two new readers, actually. And getting that fresh perspective on my writing has given me new eyes to see where I can improve.
  • Edited on a hard copy. Every time I opened my draft on the computer, I would stare at it blankly for ten minutes and close it again. So I printed it out, and yesterday I got a third of it edited and an important scene rewritten. Longhand. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve written fiction longhand?
  • Begun organizing some multi-author events. Super excited about this one. Author events are okay on your own, but when you get to hang out with other super cool authors at the event, it gets ten times awesomer.

In the book Lighten Up!, Chieko Okazaki says, “I want us to make up our own minds, experiment with one form and abandon it without feeling guilty if we find it doesn’t work, listen to what works for other people, find something else, seek the Father’s will, find still something else, move into a different season of our lives, and find still something else” (17-18).

I’m a firm believer that trying something new is how we progress in all areas of our lives, and writing is no exception. So tell me—have you tried something new lately? If not, then what are you going to do about it? What’s the next new thing that’s going to give you a new spin on the world?