Writer of Stories.

Writer of Stories.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

'Fandom', and how it's kept me sane.

Here I am again, ready to lift a few things off my shoulders. Unfortunately, I feel like the only times I’ve written in this blog as of late are when I have heavy topics to discuss, but what can you do?

If you’re one of my readers, or merely a follower on one of my book-related accounts, you might have noticed that I’ve been a bit absent. There are several reasons for this - the most important one being something that a lot of you already know about – but today, I’m going to be addressing something a bit different.

For me, the past two years have been a time of tremendous personal hardship. I hit a very low point. My struggle with body aches and fatigue reached an all time high, I gained a significant amount of weight from the inability to do much of anything, and I had stressed myself out with deadlines to the extent that I was considering giving up writing altogether. Not to mention, my lack of recent releases made me feel insignificant and lackluster compared to so many of my peers when I attended my first book event in months. At first, Book Con made me feel jealous and disappointed with myself. Then, after a talk with a good friend at a bar, it motivated me to push forward. I started writing again. However, after another flare up of health issues, I stopped. Again.

If you remember, I was publishing two books a year. That was an enormous responsibility that I unnecessarily put upon myself. I felt an obligation to my readers to give them the books they wanted, and at the same time, I felt an obligation to stay relevant. Being self-published meant I had to push myself 10x further than other authors, because 100% of the work landed on me. I had to market, distribute, write, edit, plan, create, and design all on my own. And when I hit a road block after losing my motivation towards finishing The Mind Breaker Accounts, I thought I had failed. I thought because I wasn’t writing what I really wanted to, that meant I should just switch gears and everything would be fine, but even after starting work on the Small Circles short stories, I still couldn’t get back into a steady rhythm. I was wounded, and I was becoming depressed.

I crawled into a hole, away from social media and away from the book world completely. I stopped posting. I stopped sharing. And I hoped that people just wouldn’t notice. For the most part, they didn’t. And that, above all other things, is what made me crash.

Now, before this story takes a very dark turn, I’d like to take the time to say that I am perfectly fine. I am in a much better place than I was before, and I have no intention of going back there. But what got me out of it? You might be surprised, then again, you might not…

The Walking Dead.

Yep. That’s right. I don’t think there’s a single living soul on the universe that isn’t aware of my deeply devoted passion towards that television show. I attend the cons. Collect the merchandise. And well, there are no words for Norman. Until a year ago, I was a traditional viewer of the show. I was slightly more obsessed than your average viewer, yes… but putting that aside, I was not an active member of the fandom. Then, last December, I started an Instagram account. At first, I was just going to post random pictures of Norman Reedus or anything TWD related, and it was mostly because I got the feeling that I had bombarded my followers on bookstagram with shit they didn’t wanna see. It took about a month, but then I started gaining a following on my new account: rednecksaints. After I started looking for other TWD accounts, I realized that a lot of people were using Instagram as a platform for video editing. I’d seen plenty of fan-made Youtube videos, but I hadn’t realized people made them for other social media outlets. Having a limit of 15 seconds (now it’s a minute, whoo!), I thought, “I can totally do that.”

And I did.

I’ve played around with video editing in the past, but I’d forgotten how fun it was. I started posting my edits, and pretty soon, I hit 1,000 followers. At the time, that was the amount I’d reached on my book account, so I was impressed that I was able to match it. Then, I hit 2,000. The fact that people liked my stuff that much gave me a huge boost of self-esteem. I was creating content for a fandom that I love, and sharing it with people who love it just as much. I started thinking, what was it exactly that was so rewarding compared to what I was doing before? I came to realize that it was all about instant gratification. Creating a video, posting it online, and having comments or likes within minutes was so much more satisfying than the pressure of book sales. I don’t earn a prophet on the content I make. I do it because I genuinely enjoy it. It’s fun. And for the sake of my mental health, I kept at it.

After a while, I did start to miss writing. It’s my first love after all, and I’m pretty sure I’ll always come back to it. I tried working on the short stories again, but I was so deep into the TWD fandom, that I couldn’t think about anything else. So, I put my writing skills to use and started a fan-fiction. By doing this, I was able to exercise my creative muscles and hone my craft in a way that had zero pressure. Posting new chapters was exactly like posting my videos. I was able to get feedback almost immediately, and the people that were reading didn’t have to spend money to hear what I had to say. It was the best feeling in the world.

Fast forward to today, and I’m an active content creator in The Walking Dead fandom. Some of you might be disappointed. I know not everyone understands, but that’s why I wanted to explain. It might seem silly, or even juvenile, but being involved in this fandom has literally kept me from going insane. If I didn’t have all of this to focus on, I would have fallen off the wagon. I would have lost a major part of who I am. Needless to say, I’m not walking away from writing novels forever. I loved what I did, and I got so much fulfillment from sharing Small Circles with the world. But I’ve learned that each day is a stepping stone, and for right now, I have to focus on the small things that make me happy.

I have no one to please but myself. And currently, I’ve never been more proud.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Stepping Away

I'm writing this post because I have something I need to get off my chest.

Within the last six months or so, I've been struggling with something I've never faced before. My current health situation aside, something inside me didn't feel right. I was uninspired. My drive to write and the motivation I needed to be creative was not there. I didn't understand it at first, but after talking it out with a lot of different people, it's clear to me now what I need to do.

When I first embarked on rereleasing The Mind Breaker Accounts, I had two motivating factors in mind:

1) This is the type of story that will sell
2) I'm going to put all of my money any resources into this series and see what happens

Both thoughts haunted me while writing the first two books, but they didn't latch on and cause damage until I got to the third one. Don't get me wrong, this series will always be dear to me. Don't read this and think I'm intending to hate on the story, because I know there are people out there that are fans of these books. I started this series when I was in high school, and it was my way of testing the waters when it came to writing and becoming published. I learned a lot through them, but even so, I was never attached to them. This type of book - the paranormal, science fictiony stuff - it's never been my forte. I enjoy reading it from time to time, but my heart truly lies in the contemporary world. Those that have read my novel, Small Circles, should realize this to be true. It took nothing for me to write that book, and yet I poured my entire soul into it. It was easy and it felt right, because that story is the type of thing I'm passionate about. Without a shadow of a doubt, it's what I'm MEANT TO DO.

I love telling stories about teenagers. I love exploring their struggles and reminding people how important the small things used to be. YA isn't just about being a young person. It's about embracing the fact that your entire world is ever-changing and wide open. For those that are my age or older, it might seem like petty drama to you now, but when you were 16, if that boy you liked didn't talk to you, it felt like the end of the world. Despite experiencing first loves and everlasting friendships, I learned so much about myself when I was in high school. The experiences I went through shaped me into who I am now, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. That time in my life was so important, and I feel like it's my job to share that with others.

This brings me back to my point...
Because I finally understood my true passion, I realized that I was stuck. I had committed myself to something that I didn't really care about. I was writing something that I didn't love. I was writing something for the sake of making money, and I had conformed to the idea that I could write anything for anyone, when in reality, I should have been writing it for me.
I have to write the book that only I can write, and right now, INSTEAD OF THIS is not that book.

I'm sure this is disappointing to those of you that have been anxiously awaiting the third book in the series, but I wanted to be honest with you, and I wanted to do what's best for me. I don't want to give you something that I'm not 100% proud of. I don't want to write a book that has no backbone. When I write something, it's got to come from my heart. I'm not saying that INSTEAD OF THIS will never be finished. All I'm saying is that I'm planning to step away from it for a while, until I feel confident in it again. One day, when the time is right, I'll come back to it. But only when I'm ready.

What I'm going to do now is focus all of my energy into something that I've been dying to get my hands on. I'm going to start working on the Small Circles short stories full time, and I plan to get it out to you by the end of the summer like originally planned. I'm confident that this is the best decision for me, and I hope you will all agree that it's better than forcing something just for the sake of making a sale. Working on Instead of This made me start to despise writing. And I love writing, so I never want to feel like this again.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Your love and support has gotten me this far, so I hope you can stick with me through the rest of my journey. Scratch that. Let's make it OUR journey, because I couldn't do any of this without you.



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day! (here's what's happening...)

It's been a long time.

Sorry for neglecting my blog, but things have been intense lately. The past several weeks have been tough, and most of you reading this will know why. I'm doing slightly better when it comes to my health, but as far as my drive... I'm still trying to get it going. Dealing with all of this personal crap has really thrown me off my game. I'm tired all day every day, and 70% of the time my body is in pain. On bad days, writing gets placed on the back burner, and my priorities lack any creativity. There are some days, however, when I feel confident. The past few days for example, I've been hanging out at Barnes and Noble and plowing through accounts for INSTEAD OF THIS. If I've got enough Americanos running through my system, I can usually get several thousand words out. It's the motivation that's killing me.

My plan was to have the third Mind Breaker book published on March 1st, and I'm really REALLY hoping that I can do that. But here's the catch. There will not be advanced copies available for street team members this time around. I will have 5 review copies that I'm sending out to a pre-selected group of bloggers later in the month after it's been released. After IoT is released, I will be working full time on Negative Spaces. That is slated to be released in June. If all goes well, my next plan is to start writing a secret project that I will be querying to agents. That's right, folks. I'm picking back up on the querying game! This particular story might be familiar to those of you that are signed up for my street team newsletter. I sent out the premise for this story several months ago, and most of you got back to me with great feedback! Contemporary is big right now, and we ALL know that contemporary is MY THING, so hopefully we can make something happen.

I'll try to keep you guys updated on the status of everything as much as I can, but just know that the dates I've given you are not set in stone. These are my goals, and I'm crossing my fingers that nothing hinders me from being able to release all of the books coming out on time. Thanks for your patience as always. You are the very best! xx