it’s my party

Hey lovely people. Today is my birthday, and seeing how I mostly write about writing and books, I thought I’d take the time (as I did last year) to say hello and share a few things about myself.

After all, if one cannot talk about oneself on her birthday, then few things make sense. Right? Right.

17631997_10158544421455397_7634020482675049738_o1. At this
point, I have no idea what my natural hair color is. It’s somewhere between brunette and dark blond… at least I’d like to think it is.

2. Last year I  shared that I thought about writing picture books based off of things my oldest says, but I didn’t think I was cut out for it. Since then, I’ve written four based on my kiddos and have to admit I’m in love with writing them these days.

3. For the past few months I couldn’t tell you how many batches of different kinds of muffins I’ve made.

4. I am 32 weeks pregnant with my third boy. Yep. Third BOY. And  I am SO excited (and ready to be done).

5. I am the middle of three girls.

6. For the first time, I’ve shelved a true WIP. I was a good half of the way into writing a book and after two years of trying had to shelf it. As soon as I made that decision, I got a new idea and it is occupying my mind most of the time these days.

7. I have given in to living in Arizona. As my husband and I bought a house for our family here, I really have no choice.

8. My husband and I have been together (if you want to do it from dating-time) for ten years.

9. Initially I committed myself to one genre of writing, and have realized that I don’t need to do that. Writers gonna write what they NEED to write– and sometimes that’s all over the place!

10. We had our first 100 degree day on Sunday. It was depressing.

11. Just realized some of these aren’t really about myself.

12. My favorite color is YELLOW. It has been since I was at least three (just ask my parents). It’s the happiest of colors to me. Not a Taxi yellow, but a daisy/sunflower/pastel yellow.

13. We painted the guest room in our new house yellow, and I have dreams of making part of it my office at some point.

14. In about two weeks we have family visiting: my parents, in-laws, and sister-in-law as well. They are ALL staying with us.

15. I am an absolute control freak. I have my good days and bad days, but my husband likes to tell me to “do the Elsa” and let things go. Sometimes it works. Lots of times it doesn’t.

16. My favorite dinner is honestly what my husband is called our “European night.” Basically we get a bunch of gourmet meats, cheeses, a loaf of bread, some fruit, and (when I’m not pregnant) wine and we veg out with a movie or one of our favorite shows.

17. My favorite flowers are sunflowers and hibiscus. I intend to have them both in our new backyard eventually.

18. I love talking writing and strategy with other writers, but at the same time struggle. I recently became a planner, though I’ve always been a pantser.

19. Even though we have two boys and one on the way, as well as a doggie “baby” named Luna– I really miss having a cat.

20. I dream of having an Alice in Wonderland themed tea-party for a birthday party. Still. Someday.

21. I’m pretty awful at keeping up with housework when I have a good book idea brewing.

22. It’s a toss-up between coffee and tea for me during the day, but coffee is the only thing for me when I first get up.

23. I’m a genuine morning person and Monday-lover. Did I just lose you as a follower?

24. Keeping fresh flowers in the house really help brighten my days.

25. My favorite book I’ve read so far this year is a tie between The Hate U Give and All The Missing Girls. Nonfiction it has definitely been Present over Perfect.

26. I go back and forth between still thinking I’m 25 and just telling people I’m almost 30.

27. I’m genuinely okay with being in my late 20s.

28. Still attempting to make a splash with #Writerslifeapparel and loving it.

happy blogiversary to me: one year later

img_0545It has been precisely a year (… in two days) since I published my first post on this site. I’m not sure why I decided posting about scrubbing toilets was a good way to start out, but we’ll just go with it.

I’ve had blogs/sites before that I was committed to. I’ve been in the mommy blog world and the my-perspectives-on-the-world, world– but never before have I felt so connected with the blogosphere as I do with this space. Being part of the writing community is definitely a special place, and I’m so thankful for all of you who have shared, liked, commented, and followed along as I learn-as-I-go with you.

I continue to have big plans, including posts from published authors to come, as well as unpublished authors, and giveaways and more tips I hope you find helpful– and plenty of book reviews, as my TBR is continuously growing. But I would love to hear from YOU if there’s something you want to see more of, or something I didn’t touch well enough on. After all, this isn’t just somewhere for me to spew my guts– it’s somewhere to reach out and touch others (I hope), and a place where I can grow as an author and person.

Suppose I can stop being sappy now and tell you that I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY.

It is VALENTINE’S DAY after all, and I want to show y’all just how much I LOVE you.

SO.

Leave me a comment to enter to win a $10 Amazon or B&N gift card! Giveaway is open through Monday, February 20th, and the winner will be announced on the 21st.

I will also be opening this to my Instagram followers– so if you want an extra entry, follow the instructions on that post as well and make sure to let me know that you’ve liked/followed both places!

… that’s a wrap. I look forward to another year, or five, or ten– or however many this can be kept up– with y’all.

staying positive/thankful in the midst of rejections

Being a writer is hard.

Pretty sure we’ve talked about that before, but it’s never a subject that you can read too much.

Since Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US of A, I thought it would be nice to remind you that you’re awesome. That you have so much to be thankful for as a writer. And that you can only go up from where you are.

If you don’t believe me, check out THIS ARTICLE that shares several authors who faced terrible rejections. If you’ll notice, all their names are recognizable now.

Don’t know how to stay positive? Hitting a rough patch with your writing, your publishing, your editing? Not to worry!

 

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A WRITING PARTNER

Having a friend/colleague/writing buddy who can always help your mood is important. Writers need writers to get by, to learn, to keep themselves pumped. I would be nowhere without the other amazing writers in my life. I’m pretty sure I would have given up at least ten times if I hadn’t been convinced otherwise.

You need people who understand what you’re going through. If you’re having a hard time connecting with other writers, there are some awesome groups through Facebook, blogging, and Twitter. The internet is your friend with this!

 

JUST KEEP WRITING

Maybe you got a bad review, or your 19th rejection from querying, or your book was shelved due to not being picked up. It’s a really rough gig, one that might only get harder before it gets better. But that shouldn’t keep you from doing what you love.

Writing is in your blood. You’ve finished a novel (or twelve), you’ve entered those contests, you’ve put yourself OUT THERE.

Now is NOT the time to stop. No time is. Never stop because you think you’ve failed– because the only time you will fail is when you lose faith in yourself.

 

YOU’VE WRITTEN A BOOK

If you’re writing or have written a book you are steps ahead of those who always say:

“I have this wonderful idea for a book, but I haven’t started it.”

“I’ve always wanted to write a book but never had the time.”

“I wanted to be a writer, but I had to do other things instead.”

“Some day I’ll have the time to sit down and write my novel.”

There are so many more, but those are the first four that come to mind. To me, I’m sorry to say, those are excuses. Nobody HAS the time to be a writer, but we MAKE and FIND the time because we ARE writers.

Am I right?!

So, you are a WRITER. And in the midst of the crazy world that is totally against us, you can be THANKFUL for that– and for your fellow writers.

 

truth: i don’t write every day

I’m sorry if my posts have been a little repetitive as of late. As I might have shared, there’s a lot going on ‘behind the scenes,’ and while my life as a writer is one I strive to share– sometimes it’s like only having one part of a certain song stuck in your head.

That’s either because you don’t know the whole song, or for some reason that part might have more meaning to you at the present time.

Whatever the case, the thing of it is: I haven’t been writing every day.

(Dear Agent, if you’re reading this, I promise I’m still productive!)

I have honestly never been one of those people who is disciplined to sit down every day and write. I have tried, in the past, to hit 250-500 words so that even if I’m not hashing out thousands, I could still say I wrote something. But lately, this hasn’t been happening. I get to the end of the day and look from my computer to my current read, and the book I’m reading tends to win.

My day is full of to-dos and adulting, as I know so many others days are, too– so sometimes even getting 250 words down seems impossible to me.

But as you might recall in finding the time to be a writer, not writing every day soon turns into a bad habit for many people. Soon your writing is no longer a priority, and you feel guilty whenever you try to rectify that.

At the end of those long days when you don’t have the energy or mental capacity to get the words down, and you promise yourself you’ll do it the next day– just do me a favor (and we can keep each other accountable):

Write down one sentence. One idea. One pitch. One string of words that will make something that goes toward your life as an author.

That’s what I’ve been doing lately. It seems my head is swimming with all these ideas, none of which have been concrete enough t put into the process past the first spark. And that’s OK. It’s OK because my mind is still working, still producing, still working in writerly-fashion.

The truth of the matter is, that unless you go to work and are given written assignments as your job or you get to lock yourself away to write your books for a living– odds are you will reach a point where you won’t be writing every day, or can’t, or have to change your plans. And that IS ok.

Say it with me:

IT IS OK.

Life will throw boulders in your path and sometimes you have to sit down and reflect what your best option is to get rid of them, or go around them, or use them. Those are the moments to not feel guilty about putting your writing on the back-burner– because you know it’s still there. As long as you are persistent in always thinking about it, and doing little things to work on it, and promise yourself that you’re not giving up– it’s going to be OK.

Your writing is a gift. Don’t squander it.

 

This post is as much for you as it is for me. A constant reminder that we don’t need to feel guilty to live our lives outside of our writing careers, as long as we continue to polish those careers in the long-run. 

 

what i’m learning from re-reading Harry Potter

imageIf you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have caught on to my rereading the Harry Potter series for the last month. It started around Harry’s birthday (July 31st) and it’s been hard to slow me down since. In fact, I thought I was overdoing it when I posted that I wanted to read Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban by the end of September, but somehow I managed to squeeze in Goblet of Fire as well.

I don’t say that to brag at all. I say that to show how much I love this series, and how distracting it is– even when reading it for the umpteenth time.

But as I reread these books as an adult, I thought it would be incredibly different. I did this about three years ago as well, and that was when my oldest was near/around two. But now I have two boys, my youngest having just turned one, and I wondered if it would change the way I read these books somehow.

If anything, though, it’s only excited me more for when I can share this series with the two of them.

Not looking for booing or hisses, I will admit that this time I find them as an easier read. I’m not sure my reading skills have gotten better, or if it’s because I’ve read them before, but I find that the language is much simpler than I remember it being. There’s nothing wrong with that at all– it’s just a new observation.

My other observation, however, is one of astonishment. Rereading these books, I’m always amazed at the little slips of information that Rowling had in them at the very beginning. Mention of Sirius, Dumbledore’s fleeting looks of happiness or surprise, things that the narration or a character might mention that make my eyes want to pop out of my head.

She knew. Rowling knew the entire time.

I know she had to, writing a series like that, but I have to admit I’m amazed. My books don’t fall into place like that, and while I’m sure she hit her struggles and went through the feelings that every writer does at one point– I still bow down to her. She wrote seven amazing books, set in a completely different realm of sorts, and people are still enjoying and learning and exploring it today.

So, what am I learning from all of this?

I’m learning that great books don’t ever become “ungreat.” I’m learning that not every writer is created equal, and that’s OK. But most of all, I’m learning that even reading these books as an adult– I’m still learning from them.

Yes, I’m learning that I’m still learning.

These books offer hope, and courage, and adventure, and friendship, and love, and deceit, and hate, and fear– so much of our own world is wrapped into these books, even if it doesn’t seem blatantly recognizable. And I think that’s why we all love them so much. Not just for the magic and the idea of going to Hogwarts for a school year or learning magic or having Hagrid as a friend and Dumbledore as a mentor: but the reality that they’re not just a place to escape to when our “real world” is getting overwhelming or crazy, they’re ‘home.’

It’s been said before, I know. But I don’t mean it in the traditional sense.

I mean they’re home because Hermione could be my best friend. Or Harry could be the dorky cool kid I’d want to be friends with. Or Dumbledore could be the principal that goes the extra mile to keep his students up to par, and does’t treat them like children but the young adults they wish to be. The books are so close to our reality (besides that little part about the wizarding world).

This has to be one of the reasons we all love them so. Or, at least, it is for me.

 

 

Want the recipe for the Treacle Tarts pictured? Head over to The Newfangled Housewife!

 

paperback writer

I have a confession: I’m in a stalemate with my current project. Every time I sit down to write, I can’t seem to get into the groove.

My characters sound like they’re verbally constipated.

My descriptions have lost their senses.

My attitude is leaning toward obligation rather than passion.

Sometimes, writing is this way. We can’t get around it. There are times when we stare at our project and want to walk away and just start something new in order to avoid this feeling all together.

(Which I would never do… or maybe I’ve already done just that? Temporarily, of course.)

But if we never finish the project, we will never continue down the road of “success” as authors. And that road is paved differently for everyone.

Have you ever heard the song “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles? I’m pretty terrible with my music knowledge, but my dad used to play it for me nonstop because he was certain it was my future.

At least, to be a writer.

I don’t think he meant that I was going to be begging to sell my soul with the rights to my book to make a million overnight. Which isn’t entirely the point of my song, but you catch my drift.

The point is, sometimes you have to accept the mood you’re in and find a way to push through. It’s hardest to take my own advice, but if I don’t I’m going to end up like the song– just wishing and thinking I’ll add more in a week or two, never reaching the end of the manuscript and wasting my dreams away.

Yikes. That sounded like a TERRIBLE rain cloud.

This is why I’m blogging right now instead of writing. Because I have no idea where my characters are. I know the story, but man…my poor MC is going through hell and I just don’t think I’m doing her justice.

Now I’m word vomiting while my characters sound stuck.

I think I’ll stop here and leave you wondering….

 

Maybe not.

 

I started a new project, plotted another, and now I’m back to working on the WIP. Sometimes, you have to empty your mind of what you see as distractions in order to get back to where you are really needed.

The life of the writer. Sometimes, it sounds more like a psychiatrist (er, or psychopath?) than anything else.

 

 

my love for historical fiction

historical fictveion loI come by my love of historical fiction honestly. Growing up in a family of historians, writers, readers, artists– all of it added up to my creation.

It started when I was young and I would hear my parents talking about historic events at the dinner table. Whether it was Biblical, American, Russian, European, it didn’t matter. Any topic was open for discussion, debate, and ultimately giving my sisters and me history lessons. As I continued in my education, it shocked me that others didn’t know the things I knew already. Not to say that snobbishly, only to say I was blessed in knowing what I knew because of my parents.

Not only did I know it, but I appreciated it. I lived for it. And I always wanted to know more.

I’m pretty sure I only read historical fiction up until I had required reading in school. Even then, the classics to me are from the same pot of tea, so I was always wanting to get my hands on more. However, there are three authors who made me want to read more, and more, and more– and with that, study more, and more, and more.

Ann Rinaldi

Samuel Shellabarger

Elizabeth George Speare

These three authors, to me, filled pages with adventures, challenges, and history that everyone should want to learn more about.

When I first started writing, I knew I wanted to write historical fiction. But it frightened me. I was afraid of the hours dedicated to research to get the details right. I was intimidated by the idea that someone could read my book and decide that I was no true historian, and give me a raving review that was less than mediocre.

I. Was. Afraid.

So I avoided it. I first wrote a YA Contemporary, which I love and hope someday others still might as well, but my editor and CP pointed out the language was very formal. I didn’t understand the concept of it being anything but, and realized that perhaps that came from my choices of reading. When I started reading contemporary novels, I tried to refocus my own into language that wasn’t ‘antiquated’.

Then I moved West, and something clicked inside of me. Having gone through my own adventure of moving with my family cross-country, I remembered books I read about families doing the same in covered wagons. And that’s when I realized I needed to stop being afraid of chasing my passion, and go for it.

I wrote my first historical fiction. And it’s what got me my agent.

History, the past, is a part of all of us. The amazing thing is that we all have our own lineage, our own pasts, our own family stories that have been passed down for generations– but the bulk of it is we all come from somewhere.

That, to me, is the beauty of historical fiction. These stories bring everything that we may have learned or wished to learn to life. Even if we know they aren’t straight facts, they help us feel a part of that time in history. They make us crave for ‘simpler’, or harder, times. And many times, they also make us appreciate the here and now.

You will find me reading just about every genre, and if you question that you can take a look at my bookshelves. But, if we get down to it, I write historical fiction because it made me who I am as a reader and a writer– and I’m so thankful for that.

 

when life & writing overwhelm you

It is very easy for life to get the best of you.

And when I say you, I mean me.

Oftentimes life does not go as you wish. Days produce nothing but a longer to-do list for tomorrow, and months seem pointless when you haven’t reached that writing goal that’s been pushed to the back burner  because of family, or your daytime job, or personal reasons.

Believe me, I get it.

More than not, I find myself at war with my to-do list. Instead of cleaning my kitchen, I sit down to write for thirty minutes. The next morning, I’ll sometimes regret it. I mean, who can work when the kitchen is a mess? Not me. Or instead of writing, I’ll zone out in front of Netflix when the day is done and I’ll tell myself, “I’ll write twice as much tomorrow.”

If you remember a few past posts of mine, you know this is typical for me.

But the thing is, your writing is yours.

Sure, you may be stressed out about edits or deadlines. You may be stressed out over questions, blog posts, interviews, reviews–whatever. When it comes down to it, though: your writing is yours. Even if you signed away the rights for the movie, or for a translation, or any of that– your writing will always be yours.

And that shouldn’t overwhelm you.

I don’t want to be one to tell you what should and shouldn’t overwhelm you, how you should and shouldn’t feel. Everything in this life comes with a balance, and you have to find yours.

So here’s what I do when life & writing start getting to me and stressing me out, when really, they shouldn’t.

DO A LITTLE DANCEgiphy

Put on your favorite dancing music and shake it. There is nothing like movement to help you feel better.

 

EAT SOME CHOCOLATE

giphy

Chocolate is actually proven to raise your spirits. Seriously. I read it somewhere. Just a hershey kiss could be what it takes.

 

TAKE A NAP OR GO TO BED EARLIER

giphyKids aren’t the only ones who get cranky when they don’t get enough sleep. While you might think another cup of coffee and burning the midnight oil is the way to go, sometimes you do just need to slow down.

 

JOURNAL

tumblr_lpjajmiWvd1qcmptjo1_500

Your feelings, fears, excitement, dreams– get it all out so you can clear your head. It’s amazing how much better you feel after you put into words what’s overwhelming you and driving you crazy.

 

What I’m still learning– and probably will always be learning– is when things are getting to me… it’s usually best to clean the closet and let go of things that aren’t necessary. It’s hard to put yourself first sometimes, but especially when you get to a breaking point, it’s a necessity. You can’t give to others if you’re running on empty.

birthday introductions

Yesterday was my birthday. It’s hard to believe how old I am, as well as how much and how little I have achieved in those years.

Since all I’ve posted, for the most part, is reading and writing related, I thought I’d switch it up today and share a few things about myself. If you make it through all of them, you’ll know how old I am (plus one day). Don’t cheat and just scroll to the end, though!

DSC_09651. My name is super important to me. I got married young, so I love presenting myself as a writer with my maiden and married name. After all, I wanted to be a writer before I met my husband.

2. The first book I tried to REALLY query was a YA Contemporary. I have since learned that my characters voices tend to be more historical and less contemporary.

3. When I was younger I changed my mind between writing, music, and acting. I pretty much wanted to do anything that involves being famous. Not much has changed. Just perspective.

4. I am married and have two young boys.

5. I live in Arizona, but the place I lived (and loved)the longest was North Carolina. Before that I moved around due to military brat status and PK (pastors kid) status.

6. I think about writing picture books from the things my four-year-old says, but I just don’t think I’m cut out for it.

7. I didn’t start reading current YA fiction until I was in college and took an Adoleacent Literature class. It changed my life.

8. I graduated from Appalachian State University with an English, Creative Writing degree.

9. I drink my coffee with just cream in it, and that cream usually has a flavor. I’m a sucker for trying the new flavors from coffee mate and international delight.

DSC_096210. When I don’t know what to do, I bake.

11. My favorite authors are Ann Rinaldi & Samuel Shellabarger.

12. My favorite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

13. Never have I ever been to Disney World, but I went to Disney Land for the first time last year. It was for my son’s birthday, but I’m pretty sure it’s in the top 10 best times of my life.

14. I don’t have a favorite movie, at all. I love movies too much in general.

15. The last musical I saw was Jersey Boys at the Paris Hotel in Vegas (in 2014).

16. I’m currently reading, I’m Glad About You, and loving it.

17. My TBR list has at least 50 books on it right now. It makes me feel like I’m so far behind sometimes.

18. I love taking pictures almost as much as I love reading, but I’m no professional photographer.

19. My husband and I eloped when we were 18.

20. I have been to three countries and 33 states. My husband has me beat with the states.

21. I have currently given up my personal FB, but I’m a sucker for Instagram and Twitter. My author page is still up, too.

DSC_097422. My favorite bad habit is Cherry Coke Zero.

23. I am a sucker for all things cookies and cupcakes.

24. My favorite book that I’ve read this year has to be Passenger. I know it’s gotten mixed reviews, but I’m impatiently waiting for the sequel coming out next year.

25. Last year on my birthday I was 7 (almost 8) months pregnant and had to go to the ER. My hubby was traveling for work, so my (then) 3YO went with me and it turned out I had pneumonia.

26. It’s hard for me to realize I’m older than 25.

27. I have a special project I’m working on (and I’m not talking about my WIP) that I’ll be announcing soon. Stay tuned!

 

 

My birthday pin was a gift from my 4YO, who insisted I wear it all day. I have to admit, it was kind of nice having random strangers tell me happy birthday.

 

my name is emily, and I’m a procrastibaker

procrastibaker_ehdI spent most of my weekend baking instead of writing.

Waffles. Pancakes. Bread. Muffins. Cookies.

You name it, I was baking it.

This is my process.

The other day I made a casserole, some muffins, and a new bread recipe before sitting down and writing 5,000 words. The first in a very long time (so it felt like).

Every writer has a process.

One of my favorite scenes from “Under the Tuscan Sun” is when she talks about how she procrastinates, makes brownies, and then becomes a writing machine.

I so relate.

I mean, sometimes I just like to bake, but truthfully it happens the most when I’m searching for something.

A scene. A character. An answer. A dilemma.

I’m searching for what will happen next, or how a character should feel, in the sugar and flour and eggs.

Much like writing through the distractions, I bake my way through my novel.

I am a procrastibaker.

Procrastibaker:

DefinitionSomeone who bakes to put off what they really should be doing, or bakes in order to help find what they are truly searching for.

See also: writers, Emily Herring Dunn, stress-eaters

If I get stuck, or I’m not quite in the “mood”, or I can’t sit down for three hours and push through because of, well, life– I bake. I procrastinate and delay writing by making a new recipe.

What’s sweeter than that?

Not sure.

I’m also not sure how this will work out for my waistline.

But whoever said writing was a glamorous life clearly wasn’t a writer.

Maybe it’s glamorous once you’ve had a best seller, but the writing process…definitely not GATSBY-like.

 

 

If you’re looking for some of my personal recipes, you can check out my other site: The Newfangled Housewife.