30 and Out

I hate when things feel bittersweet. I honestly think I would rather feel downright sad than have that tinge of bitter tainting what would otherwise be a pleasant emotion.

Today, the student’s last day of the school year, was a bittersweet day.

I’ve been a special education teacher for the past four years. During that time I’ve met some truly amazing people. I work with some of the most patient, compassionate, passionate professionals that I’ve ever known. Many of these people have become friends—some are like family. The students that I’ve worked with represent the definition of kindness. They are open minded, sweet, funny, loyal, hardworking, and positive, even in the face of enormous challenge. They humble me on a daily basis and I have loved being their teacher.

So it’s a bittersweet feeling to reach the end of the school year, the end of this school year, because I know I won’t be back with them in September. When fall rolls around, for the first time since I was five years old, I won’t be starting a new school year. I am so lucky to work for this amazing school district because they are allowing me to take a leave of absence to concentrate on writing for a year. Come fall, I will not be working as a teacher; after today I will officially be a full time writer.

A little more than a year ago, and a few months before our 29th birthday, a dear friend and I embarked on a crazy scheme. We were going to get serious about writing, publish our books, and make every effort to be where we wanted to be in our lives by the time we turned thirty. We even had a name for our plan: 30 and Out. It was a promise to ourselves, a mantra, a motivation to kick our own butts and get a move on. Our own personal revolution. 30 and Out.

I’ve done everything I could over the past year to try to make that promise come true. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words. I’ve researched my market and the publishing industry. I’ve given up free time and skipped social events. I’ve forced myself to sit and write even when I didn’t feel the slightest amount of creativity or motivation.  I put out four full-length books and pretty much worked my tail off, in addition to teaching. Some of the time that sucked, some of the time I felt tired and discouraged. Okay, a lot of the time I felt tired. Writing 30 hours a week in addition to working full time is no joke!

But it’s also been the most amazing year of my life. In the past year I’ve told stories that I’ve wanted to tell for ages. I’ve had the chance to work with some truly gifted professionals in this field. I’ve sold more than 45,000 books. Most importantly, I am satisfied and fulfilled in a way I never thought possible. Every day I feel a rush knowing that someone, somewhere, may be reading one of my books. There is no better feeling than that, honestly. The idea that I’ll get to do this thing full time is completely mind blowing. Exciting. Scary. Overwhelming.

For the next year I am sure I will miss teaching, but I am also certain I will wake up every day excited to write, excited to focus all my attention on this thing I love so much. I am positive I will miss my students and I will miss the people I work with, but at the same time I am so proud to say that I did what I set out to do a year ago: I changed my life.

I’m not totally sure what this new life will look like, but I’m excited to find out. And I’m excited to be able to continue to tell my stories. I promise I’ll let you know how it goes.

30 and out.

Let’s Get Fired Up

I have a new obsession.

Last week I spent a good sized portion of every evening watching the show Everest: Beyond the Limit (My book is with the editor. I’m allowed to watch some TV, right?). Then I went up to the cabin for a few days and felt like I was in withdrawal. It felt totally wrong to go to bed every night without my Everest adrenaline fix.

What is Everest: Beyond the Limit, you ask? I will tell you. It’s a fantastic reality show from the Discovery Channel, circa 2006 (I find really weird stuff on Netflix since I cancelled my cable). It chronicles an expedition of climbers attempting to summit Mt. Everest. It was only 19 episodes long, but they are 19 episodes of fantasticness.

You might well wonder what the draw is for me in a show like this. You may have heard that I dislike snow. You may also have heard a rumor that I’m terrified of heights. Both factoids are true–I do hate snow and being up high makes me break out into a cold sweat and start hyperventilating. But in spite of those things, watching this show makes me want to chuck it all in and become a mountaineer. Crazy, right?

I think the reason the show draws me in so much is related to its epicness. These are people that are trying to accomplish a feat that is literally the hardest thing they will ever do in their lives. Their desperation to succeed is palpable. I find myself rooting for them and feeling crazy excited when they make it. It’s the story of people who are passionate and driven beyond reason. And I can get behind that.

Since I started my publishing journey I find that I seek out these types of stories–stories of passion and drive. Stories of people following their dreams, and succeeding. Biggest Loser anyone? Amazing Race? I can’t get enough. And though all this might sound ridiculously corny, it’s also very true. For the first time in ages I’m feeling really fired up about my life. Writing has everything to do with that but even when I’m not writing I will happily sit and watch people climb Mt. Everest, or lose try to lose weight on television, or race around the globe in search of adventure.

I’m looking for the epic in life right now. I feel like great things are within my reach. Anything that adds to the general feeling of potential awesome is much appreciated.

I might even watch American Idol this week…

 

 

Where to go next…

I’m currently working hard on my next book and liking where it’s heading. I don’t have a set title yet, but I’ll let you know when I do!

I’ve been a little frustrated with myself because I haven’t been as productive as I could be. My day job has been so emotionally draining lately (and physically exhausting) and it’s hard to snap out of that and write when I get home. The other day I gave in and took a nap. Lucy, by the way, was thrilled about this, as it meant she got to lay on the couch with me. Anyhow, when I woke up, I had an idea for my next book pretty much fully formed in my head. So I guess sometimes being unproductive leads to inspiration, or something. At least I’ll tell myself that when laziness next strikes.

On the subject of being productive, I’ve been considering cancelling my internet at home. Cancelling my cable didn’t result in as many words written per day as I had hoped. The culprit? Netflix instant streaming. There are just so many good shows! And when they’re all there, episode after episode, just waiting for me, it’s so hard to turn it off and get to work. Since I cancelled my cable I’ve watched the entirety of Vampire Diaries (which I am totally obsessed with), Downton Abbey (also obsessed), Firefly, and Mad Men. So not good for my writing pace. Then there’s the general time suck of surfing the internet. Oy.

Now that I have the iPhone, I can use that for blogging, email, facebook, etc. Do I really need a home internet connection? What do you think? Could you live without internet? I’ll have to ponder it some more.

On that note, I should probably try to add to my word count before bed. Which means I should turn off Vampire Diaries. Even if they did just find out that Katherine is the doppleganger and Klaus is after her. I don’t need to see what happens next. Really. I don’t.

Oh, by the way, that idea I had for a new book? It may or may not involve Kiki Barker/Thompson. Just saying…

The highs and lows

I hate this part of the writing process. Hate it. When I haven’t gotten into any kind of flow yet and every word feels forced. When I’m sure everything I’ve written so far is terrible.

I’m taking part in a little challenge over on the kindleboards. A bunch of authors are trying to get to 60k words during the month of February. This is like NaNoWriMo on steroids. But hey, NaNo turned out really good for me (almost 5,000 people have downloaded my NaNo novel, Three Girls and a Leading Man, in the three and half weeks it has been available!) so I’m hoping this will have a similar result on my productivity. But so far, it’s been rough.

I keep reminding myself that this is the first novel I have written that isn’t about Annie, Ginny and Jen. And it took me a while to really get to know those characters. It’s only normal that I would have a bit of a rough time getting used to a whole new set of people. They don’t feel like friends yet. And it’s really hard for me to write about people who don’t feel like friends.

At the end of my writing session tonight, I had a bit of a brainwave. If I follow it through it will take this story in a different direction. I think that might be a good thing. It will take some thinking about, but maybe this is that moment where things start to take shape.

And that is my favorite part of the writing process. That almost magical moment where it all just clicks in my brain. When I know who these characters are, what they are doing, and where they’re all going to end up. Where does that come from, that certainty in how things will go? I have no idea, but I’m addicted to that feeling. It’s the reason I keep writing, even when things aren’t working. Even when I’m tired after work and all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch Vampire Diaries. It’s the reason I stay up way too late writing despite needing to be up early. I’m always in search of that elusive, magic moment.

Will the brainwave tonight result in that magic? I’m not sure. But I do know that if it doesn’t, I’ll keep writing until I find it. It’s what I do.

 

 

There’s a new love in my life

This month has been amazing! Three Girls and a Leading Man has been released and the free promo for Baby went better than I could have imagined. My books are doing really well and I’m getting some good reviews. There is nothing better than knowing people are digging your books!

I wanted to do something fun to celebrate, so I went out on Monday and picked out a brand new iPhone 4S. The phone came in today and I am already in love with it. I’m not the most techy person, and having a smart phone was never super important to me. Clearly I just didn’t know what I was missing! Did you know you could put all your music on an iPhone and it would play it just like an iPod?? You probably did, as most people now live in the 21st century, but I didn’t! It’s so cool! I am already having lots of fun having Siri do stuff for me and I’ve been downloading lots of apps. The camera has more megapixels than my real camera and Lucy has posed for some very lovely shots.

Hopefully I will manage to exert some self control tomorrow, so I don’t end up spending all of my time fooling around with the phone. I am in the outlining process for my next book. It feels very, very strange not to be writing about Jen, Annie, and Ginny. Hopefully once I get writing the new character will feel just as familiar to me. I’m really excited about the plot for this book and I can’t wait to get going on it.

I’m going to set myself a word count goal of 8,000 words by Sunday night. It looks like we’re actually going to get some winter weather here in Michigan, so I plan to shut myself up inside and write, write, write. Please bug me on twitter and fb to keep me honest:)

Happy Friday everyone!

An update and some news

Three Girls and a Baby has been free for the last three days. It’s been an amazing experience. Once the dust settles and I get some final numbers, I’ll post about the experience. So much fun!

In addition to compulsively checking my free downloads, I’ve been working very hard to get the final book out. Today I was finally able to submit the files to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If all goes well, it should be on sale tomorrow! My fingers are crossed that the publication process goes smoothly and the book shows up ASAP. I’ll let you know when it’s live!

That’s all I have for tonight. It was an amazing, crazy, kind of exhausting week and I could use some sleep. I’m looking forward to Maddie’s baby shower on Saturday and the chance to rest on Sunday. Hope everyone is settling into the new year!

 

…Oh, I almost forgot! Have you guys seen the cover yet? I think it’s totally gorgeous!

 

Night!

I wanna be a writing rock-star!

It’s been a crazy week of book stuff and I’m loving it!

First of all, my second book, Three Girls and a Wedding, was released last week for kindle, nook and in paperback. I’ve been getting some good feedback from readers, which is always fun. I’m really excited for more people to read it and share their impressions with me.

But there’s no laurel resting, not for this girl. I’m on a mission to take over the world (through chicklit), and there’s no stopping me now! That is why, on November 1st, just 5 days after the release of Three Girls and  Wedding, I started work on the final book of the series. That’s a pretty quick turn around but there’s a reason to my madness.

It’s NaNoWriMo time, baby!

What’s NaNoWriMo you ask? Well, you could head here to read all about it, but I’ll explain it for you briefly: NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) is a really cool program started to encourage people to write a novel (at least 50,000 words) in a month. The goal of the program is not necesarily to create something publishing worthy, but rather to get people to turn off their inner critic, not worry about the outcome, and just write. I’ve wanted to participate for years but have never gotten my act together. I figured that since this year I had already wanted to get my next novel done early, taking on the challenge of NaNo is a natural fit.

My books tend to be a bit longer than the 50,000 word length. Does that mean I’m aiming to hit 50,000 and finish later? Heck no! My goal is to have an entire first draft of Three Girls and a  Leading Man finished by November 30th. That puts me on a writing pace slightly faster than I have done before, but I think the extra motivation will help me. I have this book pretty well mapped out, which should also help. The grand plan is to then spend December in rewrites and editing to have this book out for people by Christmas.

Two months from the beginning of the process to publishing is really fast for me (like really, really, crazy fast). Baby took me almost four months and Wedding was about three months from start to finish. But I like challenges! I’m taking this writing experiment of mine very, very seriously. If I want to take over the world and be a writing rock-star, I have to get my ass in gear. And the best way I can think of to do that is to write like there’s no tomorrow.

Of course, if I find, or if any of my beta readers find, that quality is suffering due to the speed at which I am producing, I will take a step back and slow myself down. There is nothing more important to me than writing a good book–not NaNo, not a self imposed deadline, not even the lure of all those people who are gonna get kindles for Christmas this year. The quality of the book comes first, hands down.

But I feel like this story is already within me. I’ve mapped it out, dreamt about it, and imagined it fully. All that’s left is to get it down on paper. I plan to devote every waking minute (that I don’t have to spend at work) on writing this book. I even went so far as to cancel my cable (sob!) so I should have nothing to distract me. Remember what I said about taking this seriously?

So if you try to contact me and I don’t answer, I apologize. I might miss out on bar nights or get-togethers–save me a beer (I’ll take a Newcastle please) and I’ll meet you in December. For the next three and a half weeks I’m gonna be a crazy hermit author lady, hiding in my house and kicking out ridiculous amounts daily word counts. Wish me luck!

An update and a reveal

Things are going so well regarding the release of Three Girls and a Wedding! I have all of my edits back, my proof read through, and a beautiful cover courtesy of Tamra Westberry. All that’s left now is my final read through and formatting for e-versions.

The result of all of that is that I now have a release date: Three Girls and a Wedding will be released on Thursday, October 28th.

I’m so excited!

I love this part of the publishing process. When it feels like everything is going so well, when you’re so close to getting it out there you can taste it. It makes all those months of writing, editing, and doubting worth it.

I really love this book. It’s been so cool for me to realize how much I’ve improved as a writer between my first and second books. It makes me excited to think about how much better I’ll be three books down the road, or five, or ten. It’s so important to me to keep growing as an author and I’m proud of myself for taking that seriously.

You know that cover I keep talking about? How pretty and awesome it is? Well here it is. I hope you think it’s as cute as I do!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Today is the day I sit at home and write.

Seriously. I need to do this.

Now that I’m back at school it’s getting harder and harder to write during the week. I’m still making time but I really look forward to weekend days where I have nothing to do but stay in and write.

I was reading the blog of this super successful indie writer this morning. She has been able to make a living from her books and I find her blog posts really interesting and inspiring. Every time I read one I think, “I want to be a stay at home writer too! I need to be more like her. What the heck am I doing on the internet??” And then I go sit down and write. So that’s the plan for today.

Tomorrow there will not be much time for writing. Tomorrow I am going to participate in my first ever author’s event! I am really geeked about it. The event is at a very cool little store in Clawson, Mi, very close to where I grew up. It will feature lots and lots of local authors who will have the chance to meet people, sell and sign books, and, apparently, eat refreshments. How could that be anything but awesome?

I had business cards printed for the occasion. I can’t stop looking at them. Dork!

So if you happen to be in the metro Detroit area tomorrow, stop by Leon and Lulu’s in Clawson and see me. It should be a grand time! All the info can be found right here.

Hope everyone is enjoying nice weather today! 77 and sunny in Detroit on October 8th!