The Hard Part

I don’t think I could sum up in one blog post how much I’ve learned from becoming a published author. It’s impossible to do so. When my debut novel was published, I was in a daze for most of it. I was swept up in a whirlwind of agents, editors, publishers, other authors, and new readers (who terrified me! What if they didn’t like my book?!).

I wonder if a lot writers believe the hard part is writing the novel and finding someone to publish it. I know I did. All those years of writing, entering contests, getting rejected … I thought that was going to be the hard part. When I received my contract, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, ‘Yay! Hard part’s over!’

I was wrong.

The hard part had only just begun.

Because it doesn’t stop. From there, you have the editing, the formatting, choosing the cover design, the endorsements, the marketing and promotion …

There is no magical, invisible team that comes to your rescue in this. Even if you do have a team at your back to help you with all of this, you as the author are still responsible for spreading the word. For getting people interested in your work.

My point? Not to discourage, but to encourage. As a writer, prepare yourself for all of this by getting a head start. You’ll be happier, trust me! If you’re reserved like me, then it might be hard for you to get the word out there. But the more connections you make, the easier things will be.

I was so nervous last year when I had to search out endorsements from authors. I was told no by several, but yes by some. This year, it felt even harder for me to do this for my upcoming release! I’m still nervous about it. Because, as an author who also works five days out of the week at an outside job, I know how difficult it would be to put aside time to read a novel by someone I barely know and come up with a favorable endorsement for it. In the meantime, you’re working on edits with your publisher, waiting on your cover design choices to select from, and hoping beyond hope the word is getting out about your book so people will buy when it’s released!

So, when is the hard part over? When do things get easier?

I think the hard part is never over … but, in the end, it’s all worth it! Because, at the end of the day, your book is published! And people LIKE IT.

Be prepared. Set your goals. Get ready to work hard. Because while the entire process can be laced with stress, having the novel you’ve been working on for a long time published is the best feeling in the world. 🙂

Big Announcement!

Are you ready for a new book? Ready to curl up in your favorite blanket with a steaming cup of hot chocolate to read a tale of ice and magic?

Then you’re ready for my upcoming new release The Winter Queen! 🙂

The Winter Queen was something I wrote just for fun when I was in a writing slump. I never thought it would go anywhere beyond something I would look back on and enjoy for myself. Its journey has been incredible to watch! I never imagined it coming as far as it has. Which, of course, makes its publication all the more special!
Coming Soon WQ...3  The Winter Queen has been planned as a series of books about three young princesses attempting to take back their father’s throne in the midst of the coming winter storm. It follows not only their loyalty and love for one another, but the lives of all the people around them who love them in return. It is the first project I’ve worked on with SO many POVs, which makes it difficult to write.

Filled with magic, fairies, and mysterious dragon people, The Winter Queen series is probably the most intricate and complicated story I’ve ever written. Because when you’re dealing with so many different places and mystical cultures in one, long story, leaving the littlest detail out isn’t an option. Then, when you mix in magic … well, you discover it might also be the most fun you’ve had writing in a while. 😉

FrostlingsThe best part of this, was discovering everything this book could be. When The Winter Queen was one of three finalists in the ACFW First Impressions Contest in 2014, I was stunned. When it was offered a contract for publication, I was ecstatic. It made me realize this book could actually be something more than just some private entertainment for myself. It could actually make other people smile too and I wanted that more than anything.

So, who is the Winter Queen? Who are these three princesses of the land called Nfaros? What are Frostlings? Where do the dragon people dwell?

Interested yet? 😉

Check out the blurb for The Winter Queen on Goodreads, here. Oh, and don’t forget to add it to your to-read shelf!

Why Do Reviews Matter?

Good Morning everyone!

Can you believe April is almost over? A few more days and we’ll be entering May; almost halfway through the year already! This made me realize that my debut novel, The Lost Generation: A Novel of World War I is almost SIX MONTHS OLD!!!!

Yet I also realized how little feedback I’ve gotten from readers. The feedback I have gotten is wonderful! I’m pleased with how well-received my book has been so far. But it truly hit me how difficult it is to get reviews on your book when you’re a new author. Your name isn’t out there the way you want it to be; people have heard of you, but because you’re so new, they’re not in much of a rush to read your book. They don’t know you; have never read anything else by you because this is your first book baby.

So why do reviews matter? Why is it so important for you, as a reader, to write a review on a book you liked? Maybe even on a book that wasn’t exactly your cup of tea, but that you think someone else might enjoy?

One very important thing is exposure.

Authors, especially new authors, desperately need exposure. We’re not authors because it pays well. Usually–especially for self-published authors–it doesn’t. We’re authors because we love to write. Stories are a part of us, and we can’t rest until they’re on the page. Reviews can break an author’s heart sometimes, but the amount of reviews is what matters more sometimes.

One thing I discovered when I became an author was that if I received 50 reviews on Amazon, my book would be listed in their newsletter, as well as other promotions. I was so excited about that! Then I realized that actually getting 50 reviews was going to be the hard part. An author’s job doesn’t stop when the book is finished and in print. Even when we think we’ve run out of promotional ideas, we don’t give up. We want our books to be a success. We worked so hard to write this story so we could share it and its lessons with the world.

Another thing I learned about reviews is they don’t have to be long and elaborate. I think that’s a common misconception about reviews. A lot of readers think that if they really, really liked a book, they need to write a long review to let people know exactly what it is they liked about it. I know that this opinion has made me put off writing a review on books I liked because, at the moment, I didn’t have the time for it. But putting it off means that I’m probably going to forget about it.

Reviews don’t need to be long. They can be as short as ‘I liked it’. This helps! It’s the amount of reviews that matter most, not necessarily the content. It also makes an author a better writer. Even if you didn’t care for my book, if you write your honest opinion, it can make me a better writer. 🙂

A lot of you have probably seen my call for reviews on my novel The Lost Generation. A lot of you may have even found it annoying how often I ask. But there is a reason, and promoting my book is also very hard. I do my best with my limited resources. Did you know there is more I could do? But promoting the way I’d like to costs money. So, basically, it’s up to me to grab every opportunity that comes my way for interviews, social media posts, etc. that don’t cost me.

But one way I can get my book promoted is if you help me out! The more reviews I get, the more my book will start popping up on websites. The more it will be recommended and seen.

So now, I’m going to make another request … 😉

If you’ve read my book, liked it (or even didn’t like it all that much but think someone else might), I’d love to hear your opinion!

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Questions People Ask Because I’m …

There are many reasons people ask me the questions they do. Because I’m a new author. Because I’m almost 25 and still single. Because I believe in God, love Jesus, and consider myself a Christian but am currently between churches. Because, to a lot of people, it doesn’t seem like I have very many friends, no matter how big a friends list I have on Facebook. Because I’m an introvert and don’t mind telling you why.

Does it bother me when people ask me, frankly, intrusive questions? No, not really. I don’t mind. Does it, after a while, get a little tiring? Maybe, but I won’t complain. Let’s just say there is one question I get asked A LOT, which will probably end up being my main focus in this post.

In about a month I’m going to turn 25. The question I most often get asked?

“Are you in a relationship yet?” 

Does it bother me? Well, to a certain point I think it would bother anyone who is almost 25 and hasn’t met someone special yet. Do I understand why people ask me? Honestly? Not really. I don’t think I’m walking around with a sign hanging about my neck that says ‘I’m lonely and want a relationship. I’m almost 25 so why hasn’t it happened yet?’

I learned something about myself a long time ago and I kept it under wraps.

I’m not upset that I’m single. I’m actually pretty happy and content with it right now and have been very happy and content with it for several years.

Now this might not seem like a huge revelation to some of you. But to others, it probably is. I grew up under the impression that being in a relationship was very important for a girl anywhere from the ages of 18 to 21. When I passed the age of 21 with no relationship in sight, my self-esteem plummeted … for about two minutes.

I think that’s why the question gets tiring after a while. People put too much emphasis on the importance of it. Do I think they want me to be happy? Of course! People who ask me that question love me, I know that. But I think what gets to me is the idea that they think I’m NOT happy right now. The phrase: “We just want you to be as happy as we are” can be very … irritating. I feel like rolling my eyes and shrieking, “What makes you think I’m unhappy where I am?!?!” instead of my usual tight-lipped smile and whispered, “Thanks, I understand.”

Now, this is not an attack. Like I said, I’ve been asked this question by people who love me and want the best for me. I think the issue is more that a lot of people think they know what’s best for me. Because they think they know me. I’ve talked about this before I think. I’m the best introvert I know. I’m a one on one person. You put me in a crowd, I’ll shrink and won’t say a word. You put me at a picnic table in a wide open space with only four other people, you might not be able to shut me up.

My point? I had to learn there was nothing wrong with me because I’m still single. There’s nothing wrong with who I am. I’m the best me there is and that makes me a unique person with things to say and contribute. Yes, I’m quiet, introverted and a lot of times prefer my comfort zone. That doesn’t mean I won’t take a chance and step out of it once in a while. In the right situation, I will.

I’ve always found that finding what you want out of life is more successful when you pursue the things that make you happy. Don’t be desperate; don’t be pushy. Be happy with yourself and that will shine through. Don’t let anyone make you think that you should’ve been in a relationship by now. That will only feed your own self doubt.

Since I was a teenager, I’ve been saying that I want someone to fall for me for me and not for what I made myself based on what others thought I should be. I think that’s what I’m finally applying to my life now. I’m not hiding behind a mask and I’m being honest about how I feel, what I think, and what I believe. My faith and love are a beautiful thing and, one day, I hope someone special will want to jump in this crazy life with me.

Until that day comes, I’m going to be so very happy with my life. Because there’s nothing missing in it. Last year, my first dream came true and I look forward to many more coming true in the near future. This is only the beginning.

Hopefully, this post answers that frequent question in the best way possible. Thanks for stopping by today. 🙂

It’s A Wonderful Life

Merry Christmas, everyone!

As we have been approaching this most blessed and wonderful of holidays, there has been something on my mind.

Traditions.

There are so many of them, for so many different people. From the kind of dinner that is served, to the way the tree is decorated, to the movies we watch, there are different traditions for different people. One of those traditions, in my house, is watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.

Whether we watch it a few days before, the day before, or the day of Christmas, we always manage to put it on for Christmas. But I started wondering … why? It’s a Wonderful Life is defined as a Christmas movie because of the way it ends: on Christmas Eve. But the message in the story is much clearer. So I would challenge that it’s not so much the holiday that makes a movie a Christmas movie, but what we learn from it.

It’s a Wonderful Life deals with so many real issues in life. From financial struggle, to denying our inner most desires in an act of selflessness, to a generosity beyond a poor man’s normal capacity. Not only that, but it reveals to us that we do have angels on our shoulders, even when we do not feel worthy or even truly believe it.

What makes It’s a Wonderful Life a Christmas movie? Well, it starts in the beginning, really. Barely fifteen minutes into the movie I always find myself in tears. Why? Because of young George Bailey and Mr. Gower. What compelled George Bailey to embrace Mr. Gower, even after the man had hit him? Was it only because Mr. Gower was grieving over the loss of his son? Only because of the near-fatal mistake he’d almost made? No, I would say it wasn’t. Young George Bailey already knew, deeply in his heart, that Mr. Gower was a good man, who would never intentionally do anything to harm another human being. It was Young George’s unconditional, irrevocable, immeasurable love that made him embrace a man who’d just hit him in the head so hard his ear bled. He understood, even in his youth, what grief could do and how a gesture of love and kindness could heal. Even if it was only a hug from a little boy.

And what about young adult George? The adventurous young man who wanted a BIG suitcase to carry with him all across the world. He was a young man with big plans and he swore nothing and no one would get in his way. Yet, at the first sign of trouble in his family and their business, George not only gave up his dreams, he gave those dreams to his little brother. An act of selflessness so rarely seen in anyone. And by doing so, he would touch more lives than he could possibly imagine.

As we continue to follow the story of this extraordinary man into adulthood, married life, and fatherhood, we discover that this man who thinks he has so little, truly has everything in the world. And, in his darkest hour, God even sends an angel to show him what his kindness, love, and generosity has done to shape his world and every person he ever came in contact with.

This is what makes It’s a Wonderful Life a Christmas movie. Though he didn’t realize it, George Bailey expressed the true meaning of Christmas throughout his entire life, throughout every year, not just during the season. In subtle depiction of a life well-lived, George Bailey showed what Christ would want of us, not just as we celebrate His birth, but all year round.

That said, let us strive to embrace those that hurt us, comfort those who treat us badly, love those who persecute us, and pray for those who desert us. For this is what God wishes for our lives.

A life well-lived.

A wonderful life.

Merry Christmas! God bless 🙂

Ladies & Gentlemen, It’s a BOOK!!

It’s here everyone!

Today is the official release day for The Lost Generation: A Novel of World War I! My debut novel is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback edition!

As you can imagine, I am so very excited! I’ve been waiting a very long time for this; imagining what it would be like to have a book published and to (hopefully) touch people with my stories. When I first wrote The Lost Generation I had this feeling, deep down, that this was it. This was the story I would share with readers first. I was right. 🙂

The Lost Generation was born through a series of events. From comments made in my home to my own respect for the men and women who have fought and sacrificed so much for our country, this book came alive. I wanted to express not only what the generation of 1914 went through on the battlefield, but what the families who were left behind experienced as well. We see this war through the eyes of six people, each with a different perspective on how it plays out.

I am so blessed to be able to share this story with you now! I truly hope you enjoy my debut novel! (Perhaps even enjoy it enough to rate it and write a review on Amazon or Goodreads …) 😉

You can purchase The Lost Generation: A Novel of World War I Here

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