When writing is like prom dress shopping.

Maybe this has been on my mind because my youngest daughter is a senior in high school this year, and we have started discussing what style prom dress she wants.

Maybe it’s because I just released a new book. Probably both, I guess.

But I’ve been thinking about when I was in high school, and the way it felt to find that perfect dress. And I’ve been thinking about writing, because I’m always thinking about writing. Eventually these two ideas have mashed together, so let me see if I can be clear about what I’m thinking.

My First Book:

Just Hold On is something I wrote just to write it. The work of it kept me going in the midst of deep grief, and I found a lot of joy in learning I could do this thing, I could write an entire novel. I know I’ve said this before, but I published my first book after my sister died and I was caught up in this terrible thought of “what if I die before I do it?”

So I did it. And I’m proud of it. It’s a good book, and it gets good reviews, mostly. It seems to touch a chord with people. I’m happy about that.

When you are prom dress shopping, and you find a dress that’s a good price and it’s pretty, and you try it on and look in the mirror and you think, “Man. This dress is so pretty.” But in your heart you think the style of it might look a little better on someone else, someone with less curves or more curves or longer legs or different hair. Still, you can find no fault with the dress, and if you buy it and take it home, you’ll likely be happy with it. Just Hold On is like that dress, to me. It’s a good book, though I’m not certain I will ever write anything like it again.

My Second Book:

Slither was great fun to write. So gross. And the snakes! Absolutely delightful. I mean that. It started out as a short story that just kept growing, and I kept writing it because it was so much fun. I had no idea how much fun writing horror could be until I delved into the misery of Slither. Some days I had to quit writing because my fingers had gone numb, but my brain wouldn’t shut up with ideas for it.

It’s a great dress, really. Slither hugs the curves where it should, and has some nice ruching to cover up those weird areas. It’s not on sale, but it’s in the budget. The size is right, the color is right, and you know you’ll look fine on the dance floor if this is what you wear to the big night. You start to fantasize about which shoes and hair style you want to go with this dress. I love this book. I worked hard on it and was so proud when it came out. It’s also a creepy book, and not everyone likes snakes, so not everyone loves it. But that’s okay. It’s still pretty killer. (<<haha. A killer horror book. See what I did there.)

My Third Book:

Heckled just came out, but I wrote it early last year. It’s different from anything else I’ve ever done, and it’s hard to explain how I felt when I was writing this book. Fevered, maybe. I could not write fast enough. Like lightning from my brain to my fingers. I felt fearless, strong, and…somehow, as if I’d just come home. This book feels like it is MINE, like it is truth, at least, my truth, the way I saw the story unfolding in my head. It’s my heart, raw on the page, ready for criticism but knowing I could not have written it any other way.

It’s the dress you try on and look in the mirror and suddenly you stand up perfectly straight. Tall. You meet your mom’s eyes and smile. You know it’s a little over budget but you’re confident you can talk her in to paying for it. You’re confident about everything. This dress needs no seamstress, no tucks or hems. You cringe at the thought of taking it off and putting on your street clothes, because you know in this dress, you can do anything. You’re powerful. You know this is the dress you’re going to wear to prom, but you think you might also wear it out for a casual dinner one night, or next time you go to the movies, because damn, you know you look that good.

 

Things I Don’t Owe my Indie Friends.

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I love art.

Especially, I love indie art. I love the spirit behind it, and I love the sassiness of artists breaking off the mainstream, staying true to their visions.

I beta read for friends of mine when I’m able.

I buy indie books, and I’ll be straight with you, I do not have a lot of money. If I get money at Christmas, or for my birthday, I spend it supporting my friends who are indie authors.

I take pictures of their books and post them everywhere, on all my social media.

I add their books to my indie book Pinterest boards.

I shout about them on Twitter.

I review their work on various sites and share the reviews.

I don’t have to do these things, and I know. I know. You didn’t ask me to do it in the first place.

And truly, I expect nothing in return. I really don’t. I don’t expect that you will buy my book because I bought yours, or that you will review mine because I reviewed yours, or anything of the sort. It’s nice if you see it and thank me but it’s certainly not required.

But what I do have an issue with, is this:

Daily messages to ask if I’ve read it yet, if I’ve reviewed it yet. Now? How ’bout now? …now?

I’m doing this to be nice. It is not my job. I’ll be done when I’m done and that is all.

Another thing. If I post a friend’s book and say nice things about it, please do not comment on that post with something like, “Why didn’t you read mine yet?”

Dude. I have LOTS of indie friends. You are not the only one. Comments like that are childish and rude. Wait your turn.

If I’m reading something of yours and you know it, and you’re curious what I think, go ahead and ask me. We’ll talk. That’s fine.

But chronic haranguing, not cool.

I have four kids, and often babysit for family members. I have a regular freelance job with deadlines I must attend to. And, you know…I also write books. I have just come through a difficult holiday season with two family funerals. I’ve got health issues I am dealing with. I am busy with my life and I don’t need to justify that for you.

I won’t stop doing what I’m doing, my little part to support indie artists, especially writers.

I BELIEVE IN YOU. I believe in this movement. I believe in the diversity in art the indie community brings to the table.

I believe in encouraging artists, because we’ve got enough critics already.

But please, do not send me constant, manipulative messages whining about why I haven’t read your book yet. If I said I will do it, I will. If this is done more than a couple of times, I will still read your book but I will move it right down my stack and read it another time, to teach you a lesson about patience.

Instead of the constant focus on yourself, maybe try picking up an indie book by another author, read and review that while you wait for me to finish your book.

Imagine the impact we could have if we all supported one another.

Let’s try it and see what happens.

 

 

 

Heckled.

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Heckled released late last night, a bit earlier than I had expected. But we got the cover design perfected, and then the editing went fast, and then Amazon went fast, and so, here we have it.

I am beyond excited.

This book means a lot to me, and I wanted to give you a little bit of insight as to how the idea for Heckled got started.

When the world lost Robin Williams, I cried. That week and the weeks shortly after, we saw a lot of things in the news and on social media referencing the end of the life of a man many of us had grown up knowing as Mork. There was such an outpouring of love and understanding by so many people.

There was also quite an outpouring of…something else.

Something mean-spirited and ugly. People who chose to view those who spend each day fighting mental illness as weak. Those who chose to be vocal about suicide or the contemplation of it being cowardly.

And it is so far from that. Imagine spending each day, knowing your brain is going to lie to you, and fight with you. Imagine going to bed every night, and knowing the next day will probably not be any better, but trying anyway. Imagine the strength and courage it would take to spend ten, twenty, thirty years, fighting a voice in your head that says you are not good enough, that says you never will be; a miserable, poisonous something that harasses you, day in and day out.

That isn’t weakness. That is STRENGTH.

I wanted to write something that would showcase the amount of inner strength it would take to live with such a thing, and how difficult it might be to try to explain it to others. So I wrote Heckled.

This will not be a book that everyone loves, and I’m okay with that. Honestly, I’m expecting mean reviews. But if it makes anyone stop, think, maybe start a conversation about a hard topic, then I’ll be satisfied I did what I set out to do.

If you read Heckled, please come back and tell me what you thought about it.

http://tinyurl.com/hdnrx4h