New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Mine went all too quickly, as it usually does. I’m not sure I’ll recover until February… maybe. I need a vacation after our break. Do you ever feel that way?

With New Years always come new goals. I’ve often written down my word of the year, or goals for each corner of my life. But more and more I find that these things tend to offer pressure over perseverance. It wasn’t always this way, but the older I get… the more it feels like lists and goals are just things that scream “You didn’t finish me!”

All the same, I decided to take a moment and think of my goals. I tried to make them simple, and tried to make them things that I really, deeply want to do and accomplish this year. Not all of them are writing or reading related, so I’ll just list the smaller handful here.

2022 Author & Reading Goals

  • Read 15-30 Books
  • Work on one of my books that has been set aside for far too long.
  • Promote What Did You Do With Maile? to the best of my abilities.
  • Get at least three bookstores to carry copies of What Did You Do With Maile? in shop.
  • Query agents with one project consistently.
  • Blog, Newsletter, IG at least twice a month.

I read somewhere that someone said if you don’t set big goals, you sell yourself short. Well, maybe I’m up for selling myself short in 2022, because it is all about GRACE.

With all of these things, I have many goals as a mother, wife, and individual. I feel like the new year has this way of rolling out all these things we want so badly to do, only to remind us that things take TIME. Not just a year. Time.

I have a journal that I started in 2019. I was going through a hard time: miscarriage, my husband left his job, we were moving with no idea where we would end up, our house wasn’t selling… it was a mess, y’all. But I wrote some things down. Some big goals to me at the time. They weren’t just for the year, but YEARS to come. I still look at them, and I’m so thankful I wrote them down. I’m going to share them here.

Big Goals & Dreams

  • Baby 2020 (my daughter was born July 2020- this was such a big one after my miscarriage)
  • In shape 2022 (I don’t just mean to be in shape because the world says so, but to take care of myself/health, and it’s at the forefront of this year for me)
  • Business 2025 (I have a small Etsy shop right now that you can check out, and also have my new little publisher for my own works that you can check out as well.)
  • Published Book 2027 (originally, this was meant for traditional publishing, and I’m still thinking of pursuing that for my novels.)
  • New Zealand 2032 (This is the place my husband and I want to go the most, and it would be for our 25th wedding anniversary.)

These are the big ones. And I don’t intend to sell myself short, but keep the long-term in mind.

I hope your 2022 is full of blessings, rest, and grace in all areas of your life! Thanks for sticking around.

Introducing Maile

Hello ladies and gents! Thanks for checking in.

This week I shared some exciting news in my Newsletter. If you know, you know. If not, you should totally sign up! It’s nice and easy.

Today I would like to introduce you to Maile, the main character in my forthcoming picture book.

Maile is actually my niece in real life and runs her business Oh My, Maile (which you should check out).

But today, it’s all about Maile in her book form.

Maile is the star of my upcoming book, What Did You Do With Maile? and I am just so excited for you to see her for the first time. The illustrator I worked with captured the essence of my book and characters so perfectly off of very little direction. I can’t gosh enough.

This book was inspired by life as a mom/aunt and something my parents used to say that I now say to my own kids. I can’t wait to share more as we get closer and closer to publication/release day!

Choosing the “Write” Publishing Path

When I started writing, I had dreams of walking into bookstores and seeing my books on shelves.

Let’s be real, what author doesn’t?

I imagined being picked up by a big publisher and making loads of money. Or, at least some money.

Again, let’s be real- what author doesn’t?

In 2015 I signed with my first agent. In 2017, I left my first agent.

The agent didn’t do anything wrong, per say. I think we were both at busy times in life and we weren’t in sync as a team.

It happens.

I don’t regret that chapter of my writing journey. I have learned from it.

Four years later, I am re-entering the writing world with a new perspective. It’s not that I still don’t dream of seeing my books on shelves or don’t dream of making money doing what I love.

It’s that I’m not so cynical about potentially doing it a different way.

I think I’ve shared before my original thoughts on self-publishing. There are those who do it very successfully, and those who I think rush it without editing or investing more into it. But if I’m honest, I’ve seen it mostly as the latter. I’ve seen it as authors who don’t have the dedication to go the traditional route.

Let me say this right now: I was wrong.

I never thought I would self publish. Maybe if there was a project my agent couldn’t sell or didn’t adore and I felt it needed to get out into the world. But I never thought I would “cut corners” and self publish because I was tired of chasing agents and publishers.

I thought self-publishing was the easy route, and I was determined to take the solid, though perceivably very difficult, traditional path.

But with age comes perspective, and the only thing constant is change, and here I am to say:

I’m self publishing one of my books.

Also, when I now think that I thought self-publishing was easy, let me say: I was wrong.

It might not be the right path for everyone, and even just a year ago I probably would have laughed if you suggested I was going to do this… but it is the RIGHT path for me at the moment.

And, who knows- this could be the start of something big!

Want to be the first to know all the things? Sign up for my Newsletter! It is where the first details of my new book will be shared, plus things (launch team opportunities, giveaways, behind-the-scenes stuff) you’ll never find on the blog or my other social media platforms.

Writing for Joy

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a published author. Three clear memories come to my mind of defining moments.

As a courtesy, I will just share one for now.

When I was in fifth grade, we were studying explorers. We had the option for a project to either do a straight report on one of the explorers, or to create a sea monster (with some criteria) and write a short story that involved one of the explorers.

I chose the latter, and wrote and illustrated my very first picture book about Sir Francis Drake discovering a sea monster.

While I do not still have this book in my possession (here is hoping my parents do), I remember my fifth grade history teacher coming into my Language Arts class, interrupting, to inform everyone that: “Emily, I knew you would write a good story, but you wrote an actual book! You have to read it aloud.”

I felt so much joy and pride as I got to read it to the class.

This was a big moment for me. Another affirmation that I could do this. Another affirmation that I would do this.

I was going to be a published author.

Writing has always been therapeutic. I can’t say it has always been joyful. There have been times where writing has been solely to help me process and move forward. But it was there for me as needed.

Somewhere along the lines as I got older, writing was work.

(I know this is a gray area, as writing to supply my full time income would be the dream, and that’s what full time authors do.)

I don’t mean that I couldn’t handle deadlines, or I didn’t enjoy writing anymore because of having an agent, or that editing was my enemy and I didn’t want to do it. I mean, somewhere along the way, the words started feeling forced and the love and passion that I always associated with writing… wasn’t there.

This can happen as writers. I’ve written about it before.

In my busy season of life, and the pressure that seemed to come with establishing myself as a writer, and the way my brain was turning from motherhood and all the things… writing became a chore. And when it came down to it and I had to find things to cut from my time so I might reinvest in others, for the first time my writing and all that came with it (blogging, social media, querying, free lancing) met the chopping block.

But not anymore.

After taking a solid break (it had been two years since I truly revisited an idea and four years since I left my agent), I can now say I am more motivated than I have felt in so long.

Doing things for writing doesn’t feel like a chore, but a joy.

I want to make spreadsheets for research and read about different types of publishing and explore ideas that have been taking up notes on my phone storage. I want to connect with other writers and those in the writing community and do the things.

Joy in the details for the writing life.

This is what I mean for chore verses joy.

And of course I’m not always going to want to do all the things. No one does. I mean, there are those of us who love the research. Those of us who hate editing. Those of us who want to write the book and lock it up, never to share it. Those of us who want to write for the masses.

It’s all different for each of us. And that’s beautiful.

And I think one thing about allowing yourself to take space from something is if it’s meant to be, you’re going to go back to it. And if it’s not, odds are you’ll find the next amazing thing you’re meant to do.

finding your voice

I am currently working on a project that has been a long time coming. For almost two years it’s been festering, just waiting for me to let it out. Slowly, the plot has  grown and the words are now finding their way on to the page.

The thing about new projects, though, is that you have to step back and take the time to find your voice in it all. The characters take on their own lives, with their own dialogue and hobbies and back story and everything. As the author, we mold it… but really it can take on a mind of its own.

Already the first five chapters of this project have changed three times. Three. And while I’m on the third round of trying to bring this thing to life, I’m already contemplating an entirely different route. It would change the story, changes pieces of the puzzle I’ve been literally holding in my hands for almost two years, and yet it’s calling me.

How do you find your voice when writing a story? How do you know which way is right, and which way is the road less traveled by that could be the way?

If you came here for answers, you really should move on. I don’t have them.

The answer to the question is you. Only you as the author can decide which way is the best way, and sometimes you have to explore so many different routes and options until you happen upon the best one.

Heck, the best way can sometimes be the way you didn’t want to go. You could be kicking and screaming the entire writing time and stumble upon so many blocks that you think you’ve lost your gift. This happened to me with my first finished novel. I didn’t want to stray from the truth, until I realized that the truth just wasn’t enough. It needed to be more. Slowly the fiction truly took over, and it continues to grow whenever I finish it.

Don’t be afraid to find your voice. Don’t be afraid to rewrite the book a completely different way because you have a new idea, or someone gave you a direction that you want to explore. This is art, after all. There is no “right” way.

There are only paths yet to be traveled on, and only you can decide which one will be the path that leads you to

The End.

making time in the new year

Happy 2019 all! How is yours starting out? I must admit mine has been a bit rocky, but I still have hope.

I have realized in the past few weeks of reflecting that my life has taken many twists and turns I didn’t expect it to when I began my writing journey. To be fair, I’ve been writing my whole life, but when I really considered myself an author– that’s when I count the beginning of my journey. And since then, so many things have changed. Within those changes- slowly but surely my writing has moved farther and farther back on the burners of life.

Now, I’m a writer. An author. Anyone who knows that feeling of an attachment to the written word like it’s your left arm knows that it doesn’t just go away.

But sometimes other things become more important. Raising babies. Relationships. Moves. Other careers. Getting well.

We enter seasons of life that don’t always allow our left arm to be as important as our right. It’s a scary feeling, and many times I have denied it. The truth is, though: it’s okay.

It’s okay because I’m still writing. I’m still working on things and jotting down ideas and making time in my schedule to sit down and write. Those times might not be hours upon hours like the days where I only had one child, or no children for that matter. It might not be a drive to be traditionally published quite as strong as it was three-and-a-half years ago before I signed with my first agent. But that’s okay.

I have written earnestly before about making time to be a writer, but what about the seasons of life where we truly cannot find that time? I know, I know. I’m eating my own words. Before I said something along the lines of: if you’re a writer, you make/find the time. And I still believe that. But I also know there are those of us that want to make that time, and maybe even have that time– and then we make the choice to say “not right now” and watch a movie with a friend instead, or sit and read another author’s book.

My goal is to take as many little moments this year and put them toward my writing. However, I also want to give myself grace and know that even if I chose other things first-

I’m still a writer.

why i read (and write) YA as an adult

DSC_0341The YA community, as readers and writers, consists of a wide range of people. Sometimes adults who are within the community are given a hard time. While this is diminishing (as far as I have seen), it is still there. Admittedly, I am even sometimes hesitant to go into the YA section in bookstores because I’m weary of being judged. (Ridiculous, I know.)

I was pondering YA a lot the other day. Truth be told, I’ve been in a big slump (which is why you haven’t heard from me) with reading and writing. It wasn’t until I read SMOKE IN THE SUN that I was reminded again just why I love YA so much.

When you’re an adult, it’s very easy to lose sight of hope and adventure. Maybe not always, and maybe I’m setting myself up to get a slew of comments on this. I think, for most adults, even if you are working your dream job and have everything you ever could have hoped for when younger– it’s still easy to get caught up in the every day “adulting” and lose a bit of yourself.

Yes, we grow and we learn and mature and all that truly good stuff.

But I think there’s always a piece of us that should stay, well, young.

I love YA for the hope. For the young adults facing problems so much bigger than themselves and conquering them. Maybe it’s not normal to see a seventeen year old save the kingdom/world… but some teenagers save their family every.single.day. It’s amazing to see a fourteen-year-old face problems that seem so far fetched, but when held to the “real life” scenarios some face, they’re nothing.

That’s hope. It’s hope that these everyday problems are conquerable, solvable, achievable. It’s hope that young adults in real life have the ability to do extraordinary things because these characters show them that it’s not impossible. It’s the hope of chasing dreams, love, life, adventures, jobs and the reality that it is scary, and that’s okay. It’s the hope that they can believe in themselves and not back down from challenges, but face them.

 

Hope is what makes me go back to reading it. Not because I can’t handle adult books, or because adult fiction is too boring or hard to read. And it’s not because I don’t think I could write adult fiction, either, because I imagine I could if I really put my mind to… and there’s part of me that hopes I can write at least one in my lifetime.

Goodness, though, that hope is so strong. It’s motivational, to see characters and write characters in a time or place or event that is outside of my own with that motivation and determination that we can sometimes lose. They don’t settle.

I’m not saying I’ve settled, and I’m not saying that I’ve lost hope. I’m saying that in this world we are a part of, there are things each and every day that can suck the life and hope out of a person. And, to me, YA counteracts it.

Hope.

True, undeniable, tangible hope.

That’s what I love about YA.

 

Do you read and/or write YA? I’d love to hear from you on this!

 

agent odds are (not) in your favor

It’s a new year full of new goals. These are typically made up of word counts, edits, queries, deadlines, and the dream of book deals (at least for me).

In an industry where the odds don’t seem in our favor, it might be time to admit the truth: they aren’t.

May-the-odds-be-ever-in-your-favor

Sarah La Polla of Bradford Literary Agency wrote an end-of-year post where she shared her query stats. While this is different for every agent, it really puts numbers out there for (us) writers.

You can read her original post here, but in the end it came down to her receiving almost 4,000 queries in 2017. (And she was closed to queries for the summer!)

Let’s think about that number.

4,000.

Now, I’m not a true statistics person. I wish I could pull out how many queries writers send out on average, how many rejections writers get, and so forth. But in the end, it doesn’t work that way because this business is so subjective. (That’s what I’m telling myself so I don’t have to think much past the number above emboldened… and so I don’t even have to attempt any math.) One writer might get 100 rejections while another gets an agent their first time up to bat.

But the truth is, there are a lot more writers than there are agents- and we all want to volunteer as tribute.

tumblr_m1kn4vbKV11qbpbbro1_500

It can get discouraging to keep pushing on, project after project and/or query after query, in hopes of securing the agent of our dreams. And even then, if we are blessed with an agent, we have to go through the process all over again with editors/publishers. It’s never ending. And that agent might not be the one. You might have to go through the process with another agent before going through it with an editor or publisher. And the cycle continues!

So, why do we do it?

I can’t answer that question for you. I really can’t.

For me, it’s the desire I’ve had since I was about six-years-old to have my books on shelves at your nearest bookstore. To share the stories that I have embedded in my soul and are begging to get out into the world.

It’s because that no matter the ruts, no matter the breaks, no matter what life throws at me- I’m always craving words. Words, words, and more words.

I don’t show you the post from Sarah to depress you, but rather to encourage. The odds might not be in your favor, but know that if you keep working and pushing and dreaming and diving- you can be the exception to the rule.

You can be the one-in-four-thousand. 

Say it out loud. Be at peace with it.

The odds are not in your favor.

That way, when that agent and/or publisher comes calling- you’ll be even more proud.

kvXq8

 

 

give thanks for your writing

In a competitive business where everyone is hoping to make a break, it’s hard sometimes to be thankful for the season you’re in.

You might just be starting out with your novel (it is NaNoWriMo after all). You might be querying, starting with your new agent, on you third agent, about to score that deal, releasing your fifth book– who knows!

The thing is, the publishing industry is a crazy, scary, beautiful place. If we didn’t know that, we wouldn’t be writers… but sometimes it’s easy to forget it.

This is just a small reminder to give yourself a pat on the back, and it’s as much for me as it is for you, reader. Remind yourself that you’re amazing because you’ve actually put words to paper. You are one step ahead of those that “want to find time” or “always wanted to write.” And if you are one of those later people that I’ve mentioned, there is never a better time than now to start.

Yes, now. I mean, maybe finish reading this…but then get your butt off here and start writing your own words.

There are never going to be perfect conditions. Maybe you think you need to work for a while so you have the time to really focus on your writing after, or maybe you want to build your family roots before you write that best seller– but if you put off writing over and over and over again… eventually you’ll miss it.

Set your mind to it. Write. Even if you can’t come up with that amazing idea, just start writing something, anything.

Anything is better than nothing.

Give thanks, writer. You are in a beautiful season- even if you don’t think you are. There’s always something beautiful to find…and something beautiful to write.

[writing] dry spells can be natural

IMG_4877If I’m being honest, I am amazed by writers who write every day. I’m amazed by writers who can sit down and hash out a novel in one month. I’m amazed by writers who plot and plan and schedule and stick to it. I’m amazed by writers, period.

But there comes a time in every writer’s life, at least I believe this to be true, that they can’t do any of it. They sit to write and instead end up on Twitter for hours. They schedule writing time and instead settle down with a good book (or a binge-worthy Netflix show). They plot out a novel for the perfect month and then they have something come up that soaks up the time they had for writing, making them unable.

Life happens. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, writing doesn’t happen.

I am in a season of life where writing is very difficult. Not because I don’t make time to write, or because I don’t have a WIP ready for my attention- but because I’m so mentally wiped that even in my scheduled time, my brain is fried. If you’ve been where I am before, or you’re in the trenches of a hard-to-write-season with me- never fear. I have heard there’s light at the end of it, and whether this season lasts for a day, month, or years- here are a few uplifting things to remember.

It won’t last forever.

You are a writer, an author. You have written before and you will write again. Because if you are a true writer, the words of your stories and the stories of others make up your core in a way that you can never escape them. This season of life might be hard, and the well of creativity might run dry at the end of the day. Whether it’s because you are chasing little kids around day in and day out, or you’re starting a new job, or you’re going through some health issues, or someone you love has health issues– there could be so many reasons I can’t even continue, but whatever it is- know that it’s normal.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

As a writer, it’s hard not to see the success rate of others and play the comparison game. Whatever “success” looks like to you, remember that you are succeeding. Your life experiences, even the dry spells, contribute to your writing fuel. Some day you’ll sit down and remember what it was like to have no words, and spit out thousands onto a new page. Celebrate that you’re reading a book, or gaining experiences for a story, or blogging to keep those words flowing (woot woot). Don’t be hard on yourself. Celebrate yourself, because you need it now more than ever.

Just keep going.

Push through the season.

More than that, enjoy it. Enjoy this season of life- even if it sucks.

You might be craving the feeling of your fingertips brushing keyboard keys in a way that makes your head spin because the words are coming faster than your fingers can type. You might be reading someone else book and feeling as though you can do that, and start feeling low because you haven’t done it in a long time. You might be mad at this season because all you want to do is sit down and write and you feel a little robbed of your passion because it is who you are.

All of these things are normal, my friends.

Every writer who is a true writer will not walk away from it. You will come back for more, and the world will be waiting for your masterpieces.