Writing Updates: Shadow of the Magician and More

That’s a pretty cool sight, right?

As a writer, having all those words you’ve written in book format is really just an indescribable feeling. I can’t even accurately tell you what that feels like except damn good.

In May I finished the most recent draft of Shadow of the Magician. I’m really excited about where it’s finally gotten to and feel this is about the absolute best I can do with it, so it’s time to stop picking at it and start moving it forward.

It’s been heavily workshopped over the last year and change by my writing group and now I’m moving to the beta reader stage. As most of the readers in my beta group are 40+, I decided they probably didn’t want to read almost a 100,000 word book in PDF format. Plus one of my writing friends turned me on to the fact that yes, you CAN print on demand small runs of books for not very much money. I ordered from Lulu’s and ended up getting the books for about $10 a piece. I think the quality of the books turned out great, considering I’m entirely an amateur in terms of formatting books and making a cover. That wasn’t really my goal though, to create a copy that would be for sale. I just wanted something that would make it so much easier for my beta readers to read and (hopefully) enjoy.

There are now ten of these review copies in the world. Maybe they’ll be worth something someday. At the very least, it’s worth something to me. To other writers, I highly recommend doing this to your work…I think going forward I’ll create at least a few copies of every book I finish. If your goal is to publish traditional and you don’t sell it, man the satisfaction of having that thing for yourself is so, so good. Like I could get addicted to it.

My goal with this book is to hopefully publish it traditionally. So the next step after the beta read is to review their feedback, fix it, and then begin the process of submitting to agents.

If it doesn’t get picked up though, I do strongly feel I will publish it myself at a later date. A lot of time and energy have been poured into this project and I am both proud of it and excited for future explorations in the same world. Too excited for those future explorations at the moment to let this just fade away in a drawer.

I’m crossing my fingers that I can finish the next round of edits in a timely fashion, get my materials together, and start submitting to agents this fall before they shut down over the holidays. We’ll see if my work schedule actually allows for that. But I am trying to restructure and reorganize to inject better balance in my life because what I’ve been doing, it ain’t workin’ for me and it needs to change in a big way.

Along with finishing this draft of Shadow, I also wrote and submitted a short story to an anthology. Really crossing my fingers it makes it in. That short story takes place slightly after the events of Shadow (though it features different characters) and will serve as a bridge into a future book in the same world (or maybe two). I haven’t started trying to plot any future stories yet. I have two ideas and I feel I could do them both or just do one if I don’t feel I have enough meat for the both of them. But I need to do a lot more reading and research to start developing those ideas to see if they amount to anything.

If you’ve seen me any time in the last two months, you’re probably floored that I actually managed to do this much on the writing front. But wait! There’s more…

I wrote a flash fiction story in the fall, something completely different, and had a grand idea to maybe start serially publishing more stories in that world on this blog. For all that this has been my personal book and writing corner for the last eight years (!!!), there’s a distinct lack of my own writing on here for general consumption which I think is kind of a problem. So I started outlining a longer short story or maybe a novella I could serially publish on here….but then it quickly started to feel like that story was going to be another book. Or maybe more than one book. In any case, I ended up finishing an outline for whatever that work ultimately decides to be when I dig into it. So I got that done too!

I also have a draft of another book I had written a few years ago, before I decided I wanted to dig in and finish Shadow. I still really, really like that story and that world and I want to go back to it. It’ll probably need a total rewrite because it’s been three years (or maybe four?) and the opinion of pretty much everyone who saw my writing in 2018 and 2019, is that along with everything else going on in my life, I made really big strides forward in my writing abilities. Yay for that, but it means any of these other projects I have from the past that I might want to pick up again need to be revamped. Le sigh.

My group has really encouraged me to start something new though and not get stuck trying to improve something old. I think they’re right because it was really, really hard and discouraging at times for me to work through everything I needed to do with Shadow. Sometimes I felt like giving up on writing entirely. But as I said, I still really like the draft story I have even though I wonder that with our current climate of political correctness and sensitivity readers, whether I should even be trying to tell that story.

What I do know is that I’m not going to start another book right away. I want to write a few short stories set before the beginning of Shadow and I should work on the query letter and crafting some synopses of different lengths for Shadow while I wait on the feedback from beta readers. I also have a few more small fact-checking related items to look into which will require some emails to different people.

 

Reflections on a Year in Business

“Sometimes the only available transportation is a leap of faith.”

A year ago, I was clinging to this quote like a life raft. Trying to believe it was all going to work out, one way or another.

When I wrote this, I was sitting on a bench in Central Park. The night before, I’d worn the fanciest dress I’ve ever owned to a black tie dinner at The Grand Havana room in New York City for a client fundraiser.

A year ago I would never have imagined this would be my life. Never would have imagined the opportunities that were in front of me. The people I’d get to meet and help.

This year passed both fast and slow. Fast in that I can’t believe it’s only been a year since I was staring down the mouth of a major life change. Slow because the sheer amount of things that have been stuffed into the last twelve months makes it feel as if I’ve been running this business for at least a decade.

I haven’t done a good job at keeping up on this blog with updates on how my entrepreneurial journey unfolded. But frankly, most of this last year was just blindingly busy. I’ve worked harder than I ever have in my life – which is saying a lot because I’ve always worked hard.

There have been days full of tremendous doubt, incredibly solitary moments of doing battle with my own anxiety, and long nights of wondering if I’ll look back at these years and think them worth it.

But on the other end, there have been many moments of pure joy, utter excitement, and intense creativity. From publications to a simple, sincere “Thank You,” life is a revelation. I believe it is our duty to squeeze every drop of feeling from the moments around us, for good or for ill.

And I will say when you work this hard, every moment of relaxation is that much sweeter. Even an afternoon shooting the shit with the neighbors with a beer in hand is full of as much unadulterated happiness as laying on the beach in Mexico sipping a fruity drink. I would know, I’ve done both in the last year.

Things are far from perfect at the moment. There is much I’d like to change about my business, but for the moment, even being here is a gift not afforded many. I’ll be 30 in about seven months and while I had hoped for different things at this stage in my life, I believe that everything is unfolding as planned. I still have time and thus far, I have been tremendously and abundantly blessed.

So if you’ve read this far, it’s probably a good time to share what I’ve learned in the last year of business. The things that I didn’t uncover on any book or podcast, the things I had to learn through doing. If you are thinking of starting your own business, I hope you’ll take these truths to heart:

1. You Have to Get Your Mind Right

This is a huge, huge thing. I’ve learned that almost nothing else matters if your mind is not right. If you are not in a good place, your business won’t be in a good place. So it is absolutely crucial that you block, deny, and eviscerate anything that is significantly pulling you down. You have to be selfish about controlling your input and be sure that you are nurturing your mind and your spirit always. However that looks for you, that is what you have to do. Even if no one else understands, you have to be courageous in looking after yourself.

2. Your Network is Your Net Worth

Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so afraid a year ago if I had known this truth. The people around you are your riches in business. Even if they don’t or can’t work with you directly, treat everyone like gold. I’ve gotten referrals from the most unexpected places and people. I’ve had people I haven’t talked to in years re-enter my life or send me business because of a remembered kindness from years ago. When treated right, your network becomes both your army and shield.

3. Love Those Around You

A few weeks ago a thought started kicking around in my head: “You get more grace than you deserve”.

But I don’t think that’s true.  Instead, I’ve decided, you get the grace you deserve. When you love people well, treat them right, and do everything you can for them, when you need grace, love, and kindness in return, they will give it to you in spades. It’s as simple as that. And the ones that won’t…well they’re not your people anyway.

So today, I’m looking forward to another 365 day journey around the sun with my business and I absolutely can’t wait to see where I’ll be sitting a year from now. Thanks for being here with me and supporting this little dream one way or another. It means the world to know you’re out there ❤️

“Homecoming” in Print, More Writing News, and Other Updates

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I’m excited to share that my short fiction story, “Homecoming”, is out in the April issue of The Plaid Horse magazine. I won Honorable Mention in their 2018 Equestrian Voices Creative Writing Contest. So cool to see the story in print! If you get the magazine, make sure to take a look at the story and let me know what you think! You can also check it out in the online issue here.

On other writing news, I’m also finishing up a short story submission for a pirate-themed anthology that’s due later this month. Along with Homecoming, this is one of the first completely new pieces I’ve wrote in a long, long time – I’d almost forgotten how fun it is to be creating! My story is set in the same world as my novel, Shadow of the Magician, and is also a work of historical fiction with supernatural elements. I’m honestly having so much fun coming up with more ideas for this world and I wish I had more time to write.

Speaking of needing more time to write, I am slowly chipping away at my last round of edits for Shadow. I have been working a lot on Minute Marketing the last few months and have not been able to find adequate time or energy to devote to finishing it so we have been crawling along. But we are slowly getting there!

As always, I am again trying to figure out what I’m doing with my blog. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been reading lately. Like at all. I’m in the middle of two books and they’re both just hanging around, waiting patiently for me to pick them up again. I’m still trying to read Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas and Talk Triggers by Jay Baer. I don’t think it’s the fault of either book, I just haven’t felt like reading lately. Hopefully I’ll get over that soon. My book club just picked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman for our May read – so I guess have to get started on that too. Have you read it?

Anyway back to the blog – I’m planning to get back to weekly posts. I also created an email list if you’d like to join. I have high hopes of putting together a semi-regular email with maybe the new release books I’m most excited about, some excerpts of whatever I’m writing, and maybe some exclusive writing content. Not positive on what it will be yet, but I’d love to have you as a subscriber! I love my blog and writing and hope to put more time into creating content here again soon! ❤ Thank you for being here in my corner of the internet!

 

 

On Gratitude

It feels very cliche to be writing a blog post about gratitude on Thanksgiving. But nonetheless, I’ve been wanting to do this blog post since the beginning of October so I’m taking advantage of an enforced day off to finally do this.

Yesterday I posted an exercise to Facebook and Instagram asking my friends to comment on what they thought my superpower was. (I took the exercise from Pat Flynn’s book, Will It Fly) One response I got struck me and stuck with me throughout the day. One friend commented that they thought my superpower was the ability to keep myself centered.

I think that struck me most because it is something I have consciously worked on for the past ten years of my life. As a natural worrier, falling off the cliff into anxiety and despair requires a very short runway. And as anyone who’s battled their own demons knows, you never really win. Rather, you fight the same battles over and over again, but you get better at fighting them through repetition.

In the months since I’ve started my business, I’ve become obsessed with mindset. James Wedmore’s Mind Your Business podcast is my favorite and it’s a good thing he puts out three episodes a week because I really can’t get enough of it! But my obsession with mindset isn’t a new thing. I got introduced to the concepts of mindset and manifestation several years before, I just didn’t realize how influential those discussions has been in my life.

The thing about mindset and the thing about gratitude, is you don’t get “there” and stay “there”. It requires constant work and realignment to pull yourself back to center. Staying positive, staying grateful, staying open, believing in abundance…all of these things are under constant attack in daily life. Whether produced in the mind, encountered in the words of a trusted friend, or affirmed by the less-than-pleasant stuff we all face everyday, we find ourselves having to choose gratitude, choose positivity, choose abundance over and over again. And exhausting as it all is to constantly be fighting the same battles, I think it’s the best and most worthwhile fight there is.

All that is to say, that as I sit here on Thanksgiving morning, I wrote this as a reminder to you that gratitude isn’t a daylong affair. It’s not a month or even a season. Gratitude is a 365-days-a-year knock-down, drag-out fight to stay centered and keep focused on what truly matters.

Of course I can’t close this post out without writing my own list of things I’m grateful for today (and every day). So without further adieu and in no particular order,  I am grateful for:

-My boyfriend who has continued to come with me on every journey I’ve taken in the last five and a half years though most of the time he’s had NO idea what’s he’s in for. No idea. Case in point, he recently spent over three hours with me wandering around downtown Puerto Vallarta as I searched for un caballo huichol. Three hours in high humidity. That’s love folks.

-My parents who have always supported me in whatever obsession or fancy has currently diverted my attention. Always supported me.

-My boyfriend’s family who I’m spending Thanksgiving with – my first Thanksgiving without my own family! I’m looking forward to an out-of-the-ordinary day to round out my out-of-the-ordinary year. #ReadyfortheGenRave

-My friends who are somehow still my friends even though I take more than a day to text them back or sometimes forget to respond at all. Love you guys, you’re the real MVPs.

-My lovely menagerie of animals. There’s no love like theirs. And as I am a magnet for difficult creatures, I am grateful for all the lessons I learn in loving and caring for them. Everything I know about working with people I learned from loving the animals that others would give up on. Elliot. Ham. Cheese. Escobar. Pia. #SquadGoals

-A business that has grown so much over the last six months and keeps me so busy I hardly have time to keep up with this blog. (But don’t worry, I’m not giving up on this blog. No way, no how.) I’m eternally grateful for the endless support I’ve received and all of the people who have appeared or reappeared in my life exactly when they needed to. It honestly feels a little like seeing my life flash before my eyes in reverse except I’m not dying. This journey of starting and managing a business has really reaffirmed for me that one of the best pieces of advice I could ever give is to be kind to everyone you meet and always do your best to do right by them. When you need it most, you’ll see those efforts repaid tenfold. Twentyfold. One hundredfold.

-The new faces and friends I’ve met over the past six months. Before starting my business, it felt like my circle had grown to capacity and stabilized. People would leave, people would join, but it was stable. Little did I know that a circle actually has the endless potential to grow and expand, to include new connections, new friends, and new partners. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have already found so many wonderful, wonderful people to add to my circle.

-My writing group who is helping me whip Shadow of the Magician into fighting shape. It’s going to be done guys. Done soon and for real this time. This is the last time around and I couldn’t be prouder, even though half the time I feel like giving up and throwing in the towel because this book has been so damn hard and has taken so many years of my life. But what keeps me going is that one day I hope to point to it and say, This was the book that made me. This was the book that taught me to write and to write well. This was the book that changed everything.

-Being alive at this moment in time. (You can read this in Gary Vee’s voice) Seriously, we are so blessed to be alive right now. For all the terrible stuff that happens, for all that we feel that social media and the internet are ruining our lives, there has never been another time where we have had so much control over our own futures and had so much ability to shape our own destiny. It is absolutely magical that I can turn on my phone, select a podcast, and have the wisdom of the world’s best teachers delivered to me on-demand. I can learn about any subject I want to, any subject at all, and all I need is a wifi connection. Our potential for growth and development are limitless and it’s because we are lucky enough to be alive right now. Not one hundred years ago. Not a thousand. Right now. And if that doesn’t give you perspective and make you fucking grateful, I don’t know what will.

To close out, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and use this day as an opportunity to make gratitude a lifestyle choice, not a momentary celebration.

Oh and one more thing: Be Safe, Skip the Salad, Eat the Damn Pie.

Cover Reveal: Cursed Collectibles

Hi.

Still alive. Just busy. Will get back to regular updates eventually and will share some of what’s been occupying my time soon. (Hint: it’s the business)

Still writing. I think I’m on track (hope I’m on track) to have all my edits done for Shadow of the Magician done by the end of the year. And I wrote and submitted another short story to a contest, so cross your fingers and toes for me!

Still reading. I actually have three (!!) book reviews on deck.

Still riding. Escobar and Pia are great, they are both starting to get fuzzy for (SoCal) winter and are incredibly cute.

But just dropping by this weekend to share the cover of the Cursed Collectibles anthology which I have a story in. Can’t wait to share the actual release date and more details about purchasing! This will be a physical book, which is SO exciting!! Let me know what you think about the cover in the comments below!

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New Publication Forthcoming!

August was just…a blur.

I had hoped for better this month, but September seems to be more of the same.

But I found out this afternoon a short story I had submitted will be published in a forthcoming anthology called Cursed Collectibles!

I don’t think I’ve written any short fiction the last few years as I’ve been focused on working on my books, but when I saw the topic of the anthology, I knew I had the perfect story to submit. It’s a story I had written for a class in college that’s been collecting dust on my hard drive. Of course, I ended up re-writing the whole thing anyway prior to submitting (at the suggestion of my writer’s group). But it was worth it because that story, now called “The Garden Party”, has a home! Yay!