Tag Archives: MondayBlogs

Tough, Tough Decision

Boy, this is a hard post to write. I’ve written it five times, five different ways. I guess the best way to say what I want to say is to just come out with it.

So, here it goes.

I’ve come to the conclusion I’m not quite ready to publish.

My goodness… that hurts a little to say aloud. No. It hurts a lot.

It’s not an easy decision to make. The thought of becoming a published author is so exciting and wonderful. However, when it comes down to it, it’s not about me, it’s about the story. The story and characters need more work, and as a writer, so do I.

Just so it’s clear, my publisher is behind me 100%, and they are more than willing to make a November release date happen. They’ve been nothing but encouraging and helpful and I’m so very thankful they’re giving me the time I need.

This was my decision and it comes down to me making sure the story I put out is the best story possible. I know, I know… it seems like I’ve been working on this for a long time, and well, I guess I have. But I can’t ignore what’s right in front of me while editing, which means I need to pay attention to what my gut is telling me.

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It’s pride-crushing to admit this. To say, “I’m not good enough yet,” is difficult, but it’s the truth. I’d rather retreat from a release date, and continue to work on my characters and story, than to put something out there I’m not fully proud of. You, the reader, wouldn’t like that either. I’d rather disappoint on this side of the coin than on the other.

I’ve asked my publisher to push the release date to next year. Since it’s a holiday book, it’ll be next November. Yeah, it makes me sad to say that, but it’s the right thing to do.

I know this is disappointing to those who’ve expressed excitement about reading my book, and for that, I apologize. Please know I’m doing this so you’ll be a fulfilled and satisfied reader. I take that seriously.

So, there ya have it. Tough, tough decision.

Onward and upward!! Here’s to learning, growing, and becoming better at this craft I love so much!

Until next time…

12 Comments

Filed under April 2015

Mud to Magic

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APRIL–MUD SEASON FOR STOWE, VT

As most of you know, especially those who’ve followed this blog for while, my writing haven is in Stowe, VT. We’ve had a home there for seven years, and aside from spending a large part of winter up there, we usually go up for a month in the summer, but this year will be different. Yep, we’re actually going up during mud season. All the snow is melting, and our dirt road will be a sloppy mess, and everywhere else will probably be the same.

Why in the world would we go up during the messy, mud season?

Simple answer: Because we want to. Plus, with the temps on the rise up there, the mud shouldn’t last too long.

Our house in Stowe is a haven no matter the season, no matter the weather, no matter the mud.

After being gone for a few months, I’m missing it so much–the smells, the woods, the local food, the wonderful maple syrup that’s dripping into buckets as we speak, the quiet, the peace. Vermont hits all the senses at once and it’s simply amazing. And after a tough last month, it’s exactly what I need.

Taken from Mountain Road looking toward the village.

Every time I prepare for the travel up to Vermont from South Carolina, people ask me about the drive. So here’s how I do it:

I load the passenger seat with bad-for-you snacks, which includes: sandwiches, chips, cookies, candy, and of course, a thermos full of coffee. In my opinion, when it comes to a very long road trip, calorie and sugar intake don’t matter. I mean, come on, I never allow myself to have Pop Tarts, Oreos, Cheetos, and, Sour Patch Kids, much less all in one day, so a road trip is the perfect excuse to indulge on some junk.

My dogs, Winston and Churchill, are always good little boys on the drive up. They chill in their super-cool doggie car seats, while watching the traffic go by or sleeping. We stop a lot along the way and make it a fun adventure. I leave around 2:30 in the morning and I arrive by 9:30 at night, which makes it’s around an 18 hour trip. I like to get it done and over with in one day. With the aid of all those snacks and coffee–plus, talk radio, audiobooks, and music–I’m good to go. Honestly, I enjoy it.

Winston chillin' on the ride up.

Winston chillin’ on the ride up.

Churchill being cool in his bed.

Churchill being cool in his bed.

Once I’m there, I have major editing to get done, and Stoweaway (the name of our house), always provides the motivation and inspiration I need. This time of year is perfect for raising the windows and letting in the fresh mountain air. I’ll take strolls in Stowe Village, which is my inspiration for The Christmas Key, and I’ll stop to write at Black Cap Coffee or Cafe on Main. I’ll, no doubt, take a look in Bear Pond Books to see what’s new on the “Vermont Writers” shelf, imagining my book there one day. With a November release date, it a wonderful feeling knowing that’ll happen sooner than later.

Bike rides on the Stowe Rec Path is a great way to get exercise, but taking a break at a picnic table to jot down story ideas is the best part of the ride. Hearing The Little River run over the rocks and listening to the sounds of nature does wonders for the imagination and storylines. And, by the way, Edelweiss Mountain Deli is a great place to pick up a delicious sandwich to take with you on a hike up the mountain or a ride/walk on the rec path.

After a long day of writing, walking, and biking I love to cook in at home. That means a stop at Stowe Seafood to get either a nice piece of fresh fish (any kind you can think of) or a beautiful steak. Seriously, this place is pure awesomeness!  They not only have fish and meat, but a selection of wines, pastas, local baked goods, and many other yummy delectables. It’s one of my favorite places in Stowe to shop for dinner. I’m also very excited to try out Commodities Natural Market this trip. They weren’t open yet when I was there this past winter. I hear wonderful things and I’m sure I’ll be there frequently.

We’ll also be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary while we’re up there, and Stowe is a wonderful place to plan a romantic evening. We’ll probably go up to Hourglass at Stowe Mountain Lodge for early cocktails, and then work our way down to the village, where we may hit La TrattoriaThe Roost , Sushi Yoshi, and The Whip. We’ll end up at the place where we’ve decided to enjoy our anniversary dinner, PLATE, which is a new place on Main Street in the village. The ambiance, cocktails, and food are spectacular! Then, after indulging in a rich, fabulous dessert (at least I will), we’ll go back to Stoweaway’s four season room and have an aperitif by the fire. That, my friends, is perfection.

Stowe, Vermont–a special, special place where I can mix a lot of work with a lot of pleasure.

I leave Wednesday and I can’t wait! This trip is all about renewal, writing, editing, and love–my favorite things. I plan on turning all the mud into magic.

Until next time…

Everyday meditation:

Love life. Be Kind. Be genuine. Eliminate the negative, false, and vain. Peace, love, and happiness to all. 

6 Comments

Filed under April 2015, Monday Blogs

Double Whammy

Tears sting my eyes.

The bottoms of my feet and the palms of my hands are sweaty.

My heart beats rapidly. Chills take over my body.

My chest feels like it’s caving in… I’m dying. I just know it.

Quick, short breaths… over and over and over and over.  Breathe, Amy, breathe. I finally get control… somewhat…. maybe.

I’m restless. I’m anxious. My nerves feel like they’re going to poke through my skin.

Thoughts–thousands of thoughts rumble and bounce off the walls of my brain. I can’t control them. There is no rationale, no reason.

While eating, I feel like I can’t swallow, and I have to spit out my food.

It feels like hell inside my body.

Simultaneously (which really sucks), or at a different time, the second whammy hits…

The smallest annoyance or pet peeve makes my eyes roll in the back of my head so far I don’t think they’ll make it back to center.

My mouth opens, moves, and says things without thought or my permission.

During the day, I’m hot and uncomfortable. My whole body’s sweaty, even though I have the thermostat set at 68, and I’m dressed in minimal clothes.

I double over with stomach cramps, my head hurts, my brain is fuzzy–so damn fuzzy.

Moods–they come and go, come and go. I cry. I laugh. I scream. I cry. I laugh. I scream.

At night, the fan spins as fast as it can go, the thermostat still set low, and I sweat like it’s 90 degrees in my bedroom as I try to find sleep.

I’m so agitated, clammy, twitchy.

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When times like this hang over me like a week-long storm (or two, or three weeks), I crawl inside an imaginary hole, steer clear from anyone I may upset or offend, and try to wade through the rough waters of restlessness and anxiousness.

See, I’m not normal. My body’s not normal. My brain isn’t all that normal either. That being said, let me make it clear… I’m okay with that. I’m not one to revel in normalcy.

I have panic and anxiety attacks. Combine that with the fact my hormones are all out of sorts–like off the charts wacky (no joke)– and there you have it, a yo-yo of feelings and fears–a double whammy. My emotions have no boundaries and my thoughts race beyond my capability to restrain them.

Yes, I’m under the care of a doctor. I think it’s very important to work with a professional to understand my mind and body as much as I possibly can. I’ve personally decided to go off estrogen and testosterone for my hormone issues. I’m trying to deal with it naturally with exercise and what I eat.

To try to rein it all in, I have to quiet myself. Slow myself down. I practice Ujjayi breathing and yoga. If needed, I allow myself to completely break down, and sometimes, I forget why I’m crying or why I’m upset. Most of time, the trigger for a panic attack is irrational. There is no clear explanation and that’s especially true when paired with messed up hormones.

When all else fails, I’ve done all I can, and the anxiety is too much for me to quell, I go to my purse, open the bottle, and take a Xanax. It’s a last resort that I have no shame in.

Eventually, it all fades. The mental-sun rises. The fog clears. Everything feels anew–just like a beautiful rainbow after a storm.

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I’m not alone in this cycle of anxiety, emotions, and hormones. I’ve talked to many people who deal with the same issues. Yes, everyone’s situation and circumstances are different, but the manifestation of angst is real, no matter the trigger.

For me, the key is to surround myself with those who understand me, who don’t criticize me, who don’t judge me. It’s so important to know you have people you can turn to. When you feel alone, the dark hole of emotions seems endless. Being able to reach out without fear is like drinking water during dehydration. It fills the soul with necessities.

Those of us who suffer may not know how to express what we’re feeling, but having someone to listen to our jumbled thoughts can be healing. And when we we can’t express ourselves at all, a simple hug (even virtual ones) can mean everything. Those close to us don’t have to understand or “get it”; all they have to do is support and love us through it.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I accumulate an enormous amount of guilt for those who have to deal with the whirlwind and plethora of emotions during the time of attacks. There are times I don’t want to tell my husband that I’m having anxiety or that I feel the thunder of hormones approaching. I can only imagine the dread that (probably) washes over him. However, I’ve learned to be honest. I tell him anyway. And, guess what? I’m glad I do.

His response:

“What can I do to help?”

That very simple question, along with a hug, is like he’s wrapping me in a blanket and handing me a glass of red wine. Oh, wait… that’s exactly what he does sometimes. He never tries to push his way through my anxiety or pressure me to talk about it. He’s just there and that’s all I need to know. I have a fabulous husband. I am so grateful for his love and support. I’m grateful for ALL my wonderful friends and family. I have no clue what I would do without them.

Anxiety and screwed up hormones don’t define who I am. They may try hard to bring me down, but I’m stronger, better, bigger, and badder than they are. And, if you deal with the same, so are you! Never forget that.

We have to stay focused on our core–our true, authentic selves. We can conquer anything we struggle with. We are strong. We are powerful. We are worth it.

Until next time…

Everyday meditation:

Love life. Be Kind. Be genuine. Eliminate the negative, false, and vain. Peace, love, and happiness to all. 

3 Comments

Filed under April 2015

Simple Can Be Great

One minute: “Oh, I love this.”

Next minute: “Ugh… this is utter crap.”

Three minutes later: “Wait, maybe it’s not too bad.”

Six minutes after that: *Crumbles paper and throws it across the room* OR *Delete… Delete… Delete…*

Every single writer I know has had this moment a few hundred thousand times, if not more. It’s exhausting to question every word we write. It can be excruciating. I tend to pace the floor as I talk out loud (or scream) at my characters, while pulling my hair out at the root.

Pace… pace… pace… scream.

Yes, I know if I chill out, not force it, the words will work themselves out, but of course, it takes me going through the screaming and pacing drama to get me to the other side.

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Thankfully, I have random days when it seems all the stars are in alignment, and the rays of writerly-love shine upon me, at the perfect angle, and every word that pours from my fingers is pure gold. Those are the days I do a snoopy dance and sing the love of words loud and proud for everyone to hear.

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Boom… Boom… Boom… here they come. From a distance, almost as soon as I catch my breath from dancing, I can hear the rumble of their feet. Remember those doubt demons I spoke about in a post a few months ago? They creep up on me and loom overhead like storm clouds.

Then, the trigger–the one thing that sends me spiraling down, down, down, from my high of golden words.

Why did I have to get online and see that post where someone shares their complex, deep, dark, words–the ones that blow my words right out of the water and makes them seem menial and small? Then, I see someone boast about how their writing IS NOT simple and, “how dare someone tell me I write in such a way!”

Here I am, staring at my story in all its simplicity.

Is this such a horrible writing crime? Is simple shameful?

I face-plant the computer keyboard. Now… cue the tears and wails. Well, that’s a little overboard, but you get my drift.

After a few moments (probably more like hours or maybe even a few days) of self-deprecating arguments with myself, I put on my writing armor and fight my way back to the love of my story… my simple, yet engaging, story.

Does a story have to be complex, dark, deep and/or use large intertwined words to be called “fabulous”, “great”, “fantastic”, and all those other phenomenal descriptions?

In my opinion, no. I know there are those who disagree with me and that’s okay. To each their own, right?

I like to read a well-written, simple story. To me, it’s enjoyable. Does that make me less of a reader? Absolutely not! Don’t get me wrong, I also love a well-written, complex story. The key obviously being “well-written”. When done right, simple AND complex, have their place in this large world of words.

If that’s the case, why do I beat myself up for writing simply? Why do I let other people’s complex work stab the innermost, vulnerable part of who I am? Is it because those are the books that seem to get the most press? The most mentions? Or am I just being mean to myself and allowing the doubt demons have their way with me? Could it be plain ol’ insecurity? Yeah, probably all of the above.

I need to remind myself that simple writing doesn’t mean generic, unoriginal, or lacking in depth. Simple can be great. Simple can be big. Simple can reach millions of people and be loved by the same.

Okay, with all of that being said, it’s time for me to make myself perfectly clear:

I am damn proud of the stories I’m working on– I mean super-duper, hold my head high, proud. I love the storylines, the characters, the settings. I refuse to let what I read on social media, or elsewhere, bring me down and make me feel less of a writer because it’s not a “certain way”. I look forward to interacting with the readers who fall in love with the stories and characters just as I’ve written them. They are penned from a genuine heart that thoroughly enjoys the process, even the difficult, disheartening parts.

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I say, let us not put down the simple or the complex. Let’s just all get along and praise the time, the heart, the love, the sweat, and the tears that go into each and every word bound by the spine of authorship.

Until next time…

Everyday meditation:

Love life. Be Kind. Be genuine. Eliminate the negative, false, and vain. Peace, love, and happiness to all. 

10 Comments

Filed under March 2015, Monday Blogs

Love Your Soul. Grow Your Soul.

As I sit here, sipping my second cup of hot tea, I’m trying my best to pull out of my fuzzy, clouded brain a subject to write about for my #MondayBlogs post. Nothing sounds good, interesting, inspirational, helpful. I was going to write about my next phase of editing, but that wasn’t speaking to me either. Then, I look down at my Yogi tea message, and I found my topic.

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LOVE YOUR SOUL

My first thought is, “What a beautiful inspiration.”

My second thought is, “Do I love my soul?”

That’s a loaded question. I had to have a third cup of tea to think about it.

My soul– The sum of who I am. The complete moral and emotional nature of myself. The totality and deepest part of me.

My answer is, “Yes, I do love my soul.” That being said, there’s always room to improve my soul– who I am.

What makes a beautiful soul?

*Being thoughtful

*Being open

*Being kind

*Being honest

*Being grateful

*Being forgiving

*Being encouraging

*Being loving

Gracious… being all of that, all of the time, is hard– practically impossible. As the saying goes, “NO ONE IS PERFECT”. But having true intent to be, and aspiring to be, those things listed above makes a huge difference.

It’s about being authentic and genuine to others and yourself.

It’s about loving and embracing those things that are the hardest to grasp, those things that may even bring you distress, disappointment, rejection, and pain.

It’s about respecting others even when they’re not on the same side of the fence as you (there all types of fences).

It’s about stepping away from gossip and being disparaging toward others.

It’s about respecting yourself even when you feel you’re not at your best.

It’s about learning and growing from the things that life throws at you, instead of playing the blame game.

It’s about giving yourself and time to others when you don’t feel like it.

It’s about having kind words and a kind heart even when someone provokes your anger.

It’s about loving yourself.

So, I say, not only love your soul, but grow your soul. Alway be open to changing those things that will improve the deepest part of you. Embrace being the best you, you can be. Embrace finding and being your best soul.

Until next time…

Everyday meditation:

Love life. Be Kind. Be genuine. Eliminate the negative, false, and vain. Peace, love, and happiness to all. 

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Filed under January 2011

Keeping the Writing Marriage Inspired

As to be expected, whether they’re full of it or lacking in it, writers tweet, facebook, and blog about inspiration often. I know if I were to go back through the posts I’ve written over the years, I’m pretty sure I have one, two, or five on the subject.

Inspiration means everything to a writer. It’s not only what provokes a new story, but it’s also what keeps the passion going for the story we’re in the process of writing or editing.

The last couple of weeks have been a struggle for me. It’s been hard for me to stay focused and inspired with the story I’m currently editing. I know it’s about mindset, about surroundings, about staying in love with the story, about the passion for the characters– all of that. Every single thing affects our inspiration.

It’s normal to get blasé about a story we’ve been writing, working on, editing, changing, fixing, tweaking. I mean, come on, it’s quite a process, and sometimes grueling, to make a story everything we want it to be– everything the characters want it to be. It’s a constant challenge to keep the writing/editing mojo going.

Writing is a marriage between the writer and the characters, and just like any relationship, it requires communication. So, when we feel things going awry–the love is fading–we have to talk to our characters, and even more importantly, we have to listen to them. We may want them to do one thing, but they’re insistent on doing something completely different. Often times, if we listen to their vision, and not our own, the storyline will begin to move along. We’ll see the missing piece of the puzzle that we might have missed if we hadn’t taken the time to communicate with our character(s). Communication is like gold for story-telling.

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If talking things out doesn’t work, maybe take a step back, let it simmer. This is not only good to do during the writing process, but also during the editing process, especialIy in the first deep edit, where we’re changing, rearranging, and creating more depth to our scenery and characters. It can be frustrating when the pieces and parts aren’t coming together. Sometimes it feels more like work than creation, which can be highly disheartening for a writer. Take a deep breath, set it aside, and let the characters and scenes do their own thing for a little while.

I wouldn’t suggest the next tip for a human marriage, but for a writing marriage, I say go for it– play around with another story! This keeps the creativity flowing while the other story is on a break. You never know, the new story you’re messing around with may teach you something you need to learn about the other story that’s simmering on the side.

My last piece of advice on keeping your writing marriage inspired is to keep all your senses engaged. For example, when I’m writing/editing my holiday stories for the Tinsel Trilogy, and I get ho-hum about how things are going, I light a Balsam Fir candle. I sip on spiced cinnamon hot tea. I listen to Christmas music. I put on a Christmas movie and keep it going in the background. I swear, while working on The Christmas Key last year, I watched Home Alone 1 and 2 no fewer than twenty-five times, plus all the other Christmas movies I have on DVD, saved on my DVR, and on Netflix. I also think there were a few times I turned down the thermostat so I could wrap up in a blanket. It didn’t matter if it was sweltering hot, in the middle of August, I had all this going on inside the house. And, trust me, it got me through. It kept me going.

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Just like any marriage, sometimes love isn’t enough. We have to work at it. We have to baby it. We have to entice our partner– our characters. We have to change the scenery. And, you never know, you may have to talk a little dirty to it to get it going.

Do what ya gotta do. No matter how silly it may seem to others, if it works, do it. Keep your story going. Stay inspired. It’s worth it– love of the story is always worth it.

Until next time…

Everyday meditation:

Love life. Be Kind. Be genuine. Eliminate the negative, false, and vain. Peace, love, and happiness to all. 

8 Comments

Filed under March 2015