Friday, September 30, 2016

Of Hope, Stubbornness, and Creative Burnout

(Before I kick this off, anyone who wants to skip the detailed explanation of what's been going on and get to the more important bits regarding book four's release date, just scroll down and look for the bolded sentences.)

Wow. Five months, huh? 

I seem to remember saying something in earlier posts about being more regular with these updates… and I can assure you, I never intended to go this long without posting. After a while, though, I began putting off this update because I wasn’t sure how to explain everything that’s been going on. 

And more than that, I didn’t want to attempt a post until I had actual news to share with you. Preferably happy news, which I'm still waiting on.

My radio silence had a lot of different causes.

So many, in fact, that I’m now wondering how I’ll write this post without sounding like I’m just making excuses… Or worse, seeking sympathy. 

Rule number one in this world of ours? Pretty much everyone is struggling with something. 

That said, I do feel as though I owe you guys an explanation. And seeing as it’s far and away the most popular question in my inbox and on social media these days, I really need to address the topic of book four’s release date.

Back in April I mentioned I’d be relocating to Asheville, NC and that my work on the fourth Variant Series novel would temporarily grind to a halt.

And oh, man, did it ever.

I’ve experienced at least one bout of writer’s block with every novel I’ve ever written. For me, at least, writing a book never gets any easier. And in those reoccurring creative droughts, the typing fingers are often willing—but the muse is typically MIA any time I sit down to work.

Generally speaking, I work my way through it in the end. Whether it takes a couple weeks or a couple months, I always find myself getting back into (and staying in) a productive groove until I complete the project.

Once I finally found myself settled in North Carolina and ready to work again, something a little different happened—I experienced creative burnout for the first time ever.

At first I though it was just another round of writer’s block and that I’d eventually muscle my way through it, same as always.

And believe you me, I tried to.

I did what I always do when insecurities and the dreaded block arrive.

I forced the words onto the page.

At times, I forced entire chapters onto the page.

…But from the beginning, I could tell that there was something very different about this block.

For the first time in my life, writing—the activity that had always been my refuge and my favorite escape—was making me downright miserable. And heaven help me, it showed in the story. 

Since starting work on this novel a year ago, I have scrapped major chunks of it no less than three times and started over from scratch twice.

As of this entry, the word count in my cut file (where I move any and all of the text deleted from my WIP) is just over 47,000 words. 

So… yeah.

I’ve been struggling.

After a few months of battling the writer’s block to no avail, I realized I needed to take a step back and finally put my finger on what was causing the problem. The first step was to accept the fact that it wasn’t just a block this time. 

I was officially burnt out. 

Many of the reasons for the burnout were deeply personal… but the bottom line? I was tired. And that exhaustion caused me to question whether or not continuing on as a professional author was the right choice for me at this point in my life. 

My writing wasn’t for me anymore. It was for the world.

The thing that had always been my go-to method for dealing with (and escaping from) my daily struggles was no longer a pleasant distraction.

It was a job.

Now, don’t get me wrong here…  It’s an amazing job to have. In fact, it’s been my own idea of a dream job ever since I was old enough to answer the all important question of what I wanted to “be” when I grew up.

On top of that, I love my readers! And the thought that I might be able to provide even one person out there with a way to temporarily escape from their own troubles, makes me indescribably happy. 

But when you find yourself dealing with a list of personal struggles that would leave even the strongest individuals craving a way to escape—well, losing the one thing in the world that’s always been capable of providing you with one…. 

It sucks.

A lot.

I’ve spent the last couple of months trying to decide what to do about it.

The conclusion I’ve come to is this: I want to keep going. More than anything, I want to finish the Variant Series. And I’d really like to keep sharing my stories with the world.

So nothing’s going to change. For now, at least, I’l keep writing.

But here’s the thing, guys—there’s absolutely no way I can attempt to give a timeline for when book four (or, for that matter, the currently hypothetical fifth book) will be published.

I just can’t.

I’d love to. But I can’t.

Anything I say… any estimated completion date… runs the risk of being blown out of the water, yet again.

Book four will be completed. That much I know for certain. My stubborn pride, the obligation I feel to the readers who have stuck with the story this far, and my love for these characters, all ensures that one day it will be finished. 

But I can’t tell you how long it will take, because I simply don’t know. Three months? Possibly. Another year? Yeah. I can’t lie—that’s a possibility, too. Until I work my way past the burnout, I just don’t know what will happen.

One thing I do know? I refuse to write the wrong book, simply because I’m desperate to publish something. If I’d stuck to my past deadlines, book four would probably be ready to release by now… but trust me when I say that it wouldn’t have been a book that anybody would want to read. 

So right now, that’s where things stand. I’m struggling, but hopeful, and way too stubborn to give up.

I’ll keep writing in the hopes that one day soon I’ll sit down to write and rediscover that sense of joy that used to go hand in hand with creating. I’m going to finish book four and I’m going to make it the best that I can. And as soon as it’s ready for release, you guys will absolutely be the first to hear about it! 

P.S. And as always, thank you all so stinkin’ much for the kind words and understanding messages you’ve been sending my way these last few months!  Your support and love for the Variant Series novels means so much more to me than you could ever know! <3

Monday, April 4, 2016

Of Author Invasions, Updates, and Way Too Many Adjectives

Hey, guys!

Wanted to write up a quick blog post since I'm spending the day relaxing at my parent's home in Virginia, trying to rest up before tomorrow's 12 hour drive back to Florida. This past weekend was equal parts amazing and exhausting and I am so glad I decided to accept the invitation to participate in this year's Roanoke Author Invasion in Roanoke, Virginia!

It was one of the most amazing things I've ever done and I still can't get over how much fun it was! Meeting so many awesome readers and wonderful authors I admire was a dream come true for me and I'm already counting down the days till RAI 2017!

(Obligatory photo of me at my booth, taken a few moments before the doors opened. If you look closely, you should be able to see at least a smidgen of sheer terror in my expression. I shouldn't have worried so much—everyone in attendance was AWESOME and kind and lovely to meet!)

(A post-signing photo of the attending authors, courtesy of Brittney Cole—I'm kneeling on the far right of the front row, next to the always lovely S.T. Bende and just in front of total sweethearts Karen Lynch, Desni Dantone, and Ashley Stoyanoff! I'm all about the adjectives in this post. It's probably because everyone was SO AMAZING that I can't seem to say anyone's name without adding some sort of kindly descriptor.)

The signing itself went by so quickly that I didn't manage to capture any photos while it was taking place, but there seem to be a bunch of pics floating around Facebook and on attendee's blogs. The few that I did manage to take over the weekend didn't turn out so great. (Further reminding me that I really need to invest in a cell phone that has a decent camera...) But I do have a couple more to share from the after-party!

(I was also lucky enough to meet the delightful {...extraordinary? Incredible? Fantastic? Dangit, I'm running out of worthy adjectives here, people.} authors Maryann Jordan, Kimberly Knight, and Maryann's spectacular PA Barbara Martoncik. Naturally, we had to make use of the after-party's photo booth. In related news, I can straight up rock a straw fedora and a hand fan. Who knew?)

(The official after-party photo! I'm in there somewhere... Think of it like a Where's Waldo image.)

Truthfully? I was so, so nervous in the days leading up to the signing. 

I'm an introvert by nature and anxiety-ridden on the best of days, so taking part in an event like this was sort of a Big Deal. In the end, I am so very happy that I was able to take a step outside my comfort zone and be a part of such an amazing event. Everyone—readers, authors, and event staff alike—were kind and welcoming and they immediately put me at ease. 

All that to say... if you ever get the chance to attend the Roanoke Author Invasion in the coming years, take it! I promise you won't regret it! I had an absolute blast and made more new friends in a single weekend than I have in all of the last five years combined. No joke. 

So... yes. RAI is worthy of every awesome adjective in the book, most of which I've probably used twice over in this blog post. 

In other news, my life has been temporarily turned upside-down... and it isn't likely to right itself any time before mid–May. 

In a little less than two weeks, I'll be starting my move from Florida back to North Carolina. There are still a thousand-and-one logistical nightmares to be sorted and dozens of boxes yet to be packed, so any and all writing is likely to ground to a halt for the foreseeable future. 

Also, I'm still a little under the weather where my health is concerned thanks to a mistake made by my former infusion center regarding my treatment dosage. (They, um... Well, they accidentally cut it by more than half... For six months straight.) The mistake was corrected in February, but I've been slow to get back on my feet. 

With all that's been going on with my health, with my upcoming move, and with a few other issues I'd rather not get into here on the blog, it's been difficult—if not impossible—to give my writing the attention it deserves. 

I'm looking toward May like it's the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. With any luck, once I'm settled in Asheville and have had a chance to rest, I'll be in a much better position to focus on finishing up book four in the Variant series!! I'd give anything to provide you with an official release date, but all I can say for now is that it should be ready for publication by early Fall of this year.

Fingers crossed things get back to normal soon! It's been eight months of absolute chaos and I'm looking forward to finding a little bit of peace once I'm settled in NC again. (And for that matter, so is my muse!) :-)

That's all for now... I'll try to check in again after the dust settles and book four is once again back on track for a fall release! Take care, everyone!!


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Of Giveaways and Signing Events

Hey, guys!

Just a quick post to remind everyone that I'll be taking part in the Roanoke Author Invasion this year! The event will take place on April 2nd at the Holiday Inn - Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia.

In addition to the signing event, all attendees are invited back to the Holiday Inn for a fundraising afterparty from 7-10PM. The party will be hosted by Forget the Housework, I’m ReadingCity and Book and Brains, Beauty, BOOKS! Tickets will be $20 sent to via Paypal. Price includes light appetizers, goodie bag and dancing. Proceeds benefit United Through Reading.

If you plan on attending the event and would like to pre-order Variant Series books to ensure that they'll be waiting for you at the booth, please click here. (Keep in mind that I'll only have a limited number of each book with me—and once they're gone, they're gone!)

I'm looking forward to the event and hope to see some of you there! :-)

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Now—on to the giveaways!

Up first is a giveaway where one lucky reader will win signed paperback copies of the first three Variant Series novels and a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card! This giveaway will run from February 11 through March 11, 2016, and will only be open to residents of the US and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But not to fret, international readers! I'm also running a second giveaway for 3 eBook copies of the Variant series novels and a $10 Amazon gift card during the same dates that is open to everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Take care and happy reading, everyone!