Kicking off my debut year with exciting FLASHFALL news!
Kicking off my debut year with exciting FLASHFALL news!
In the past year of publishing “rookie-dom,” I’ve grown accustomed to walking blindly into new situations. And last year, from my first edit letter, to my last round of revisions—there were a lot of them.
Now my debut year is finally here, and once again, I’ll be stepping into moments that take me several strides from my comfort zone. But that’s usually where the good stuff happens–when we reach past our usual, everyday boundaries, and stretch toward something new. Something different. Maybe even something we can’t see clearly.
I believe strongly in painting a clear picture of my dreams and aspirations. I’ve filled cork boards with pictures and words torn from magazines, and have lists of goals etched in journals. They’ve served as touchstones over the years, keeping me on course, driving me past weariness and discouragement.
Reminding me to reach.
I’m currently at work on Book Two in the FLASHFALL series. It’s daunting at times. Writing a second book comes with all kinds of challenges, new sets of concerns and doubts. Expanding worlds, giving fresh arcs to old characters. I’m not even sure how to end it because a third book is just a glimmer of possibility.
But more than that, there’s the fear of simply writing. I wrote FLASHFALL differently. It was more than two years ago—I was a different writer, a different person in many ways. What if I don’t have “it” in me in the same way?
I will have to reach for something new.
In the publishing world, there’s much rejection, disappointment, and disillusionment. I’ve felt them ALL, many times. But there’s also so much possibility if you don’t allow those things to have the final say.
I thought carefully about a word I’d choose as sort of a theme for 2016, one that captured my goals for this next season, these steps into debut territory. I stood on the beach on New Year’s Day, still not certain, not even when I picked up a bit of sea stone and bent toward the sand.
I suppose I shouldn’t surprised. This one’s been calling to me for a long time.
Reach . . . past failure. Learn from it. Use it to move forward.
Reach . . . for the absolute stars. How else will you get there?
Reach . . . despite other people’s doubts. Despite your own doubts.
Reach . . . inside yourself. Find the depths you didn’t know you had.
Reach . . . past fear, or you’ll never grab hold of your dreams.
As I stand on the cusp of this brand new year, I’m filled with gratitude. There’s uncertainty mixed in, but I remind myself there is freedom in embracing the unknown. Every page of this next book is a challenge, a charge into new territory, but I’m going to dive in. There will be crap writing days–times when I reach for words that won’t come, or plot lines that allude my grasp. On those days I’ll look at my little beach stone on my desk. It will remind me of what I wrote in the sand during a time when all I saw was possibility.
Maybe this will inspire your own journey. Maybe you need this word, this reminder, as much as I do. Or maybe you have your own.
Whatever you do this new year, I hope you find the courage to do it bravely.
Two days to deadline–I should be editing instead of blogging, but I wanted to share this.
Many of you know that my publishing journey has been filled with ups and downs, many rejections, and times I nearly quit believing in myself and the possibility of a dream I held in my heart for so many years.
This video makes me cry (in the good way) because Jacob captured so much of that in these images. *
I still recall the sting of rejection, and the way every failed opportunity bruised my heart a little–but MORE than that, I remember the people who cheered me past it–who believed in me even when I only felt doubt.
I’ve held on to my rejection letters (literally hundreds of them) for years. Even on days of discouragement, I imagined myself one day holding up that stack and saying, “This happened, BUT . . .”
Rejection doesn’t have to define us. The desire to create art or tell stories doesn’t end with the evaluation of other people. We do it because we love it. That’s really what got me to this point. I decided I was going to keep writing, whether I ever published or not.
It’s funny, but that’s when I wrote FLASHFALL. I had an agent interested in another manuscript, but I felt compelled to work on this new book. It was personal for me, and it poured out in cathartic ways–the story of a girl who got knocked down again and again, but didn’t give up because she believed there was a way past a terrifying, impassable wall.
“This happened, BUT . . .”
If that’s you–a dreamer coming up against barriers–try to see them instead as steps along the way, motivation to push creative boundaries and work harder. If you can carve out time to do what you love–what feeds your soul–than you are already winning. You’ve succeeded. And yes–we want an audience, people who will experience and feel moved by what we’ve created. So find that friend, or critique partner or writing group.
Give voice to the things your heart is saying.
*thank you to my amazing husband and the team at Luminary, for your creative talents, and for helping me share my publishing story in ways more powerful than words.
It’s interesting, the things that give us courage. Sometimes it only takes a few words to remind us of what’s true, and we are suddenly braver than our fears.
Many things inspire me. I surround myself with images and quotes that serve as touchstones, helping me find my way on a path that can be lonely and doubt-filled at times. Going after your dreams can be terrifying. With every door that closes, you must decide whether or not to try again. You weigh the risks and ask yourself to count the cost of hurt and discouragement. How much is a dream—a difficult, unlikely dream—truly worth?
I could never have made it this far without the family and friends who’ve supported me and encouraged me to believe—to keep reaching. They helped me be brave when my doubts and fears seemed bigger than the possibilities. My book deals—and all that’s happened this past year, still seem surreal. I wanted to mark this time in a special way.
So I got a tattoo.
C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, and this is from his book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Edmund, Lucy and Caspian sail into Darkness, and everyone is afraid. They can’t find their way, and their fears begin to materialize around them. A seagull circles the mast, and Lucy hears Aslan say, “Courage, dear heart.” They follow the gull back into the light. I have always loved this quote. These words hang near my computer and I’ve looked at them after reading countless rejection letters. I have felt like Lucy many times.
So now I wear them. On my writing hand—to remind me to write bravely. And also as a reminder of how far I’ve come. I hope to inspire other artists and dreamers.
Sometimes, all we need is the right voice—at just the right time.
Take risks, dream big. Never give up.
Courage, dear heart.
As I write this post, I’m in a boutique New York City hotel near 5th Avenue, perched on the twenty-first floor. Literally, I’m perched, like a heavily-layered pigeon at the edge of this historic building. It’s freezing out, but I have an adorable balcony with an (almost) view of Rockefeller Plaza, so I’m letting my toes go numb while I soak up this surreal moment.
There is something about a dream materializing that makes you feel anything’s possible, like there’s a sun glowing inside your body, and that a unicorn could prance down 57th street at any moment. None did, but I kept an eye out for them, just in case. I also kept an eye out for all French bakeries, but that’s another story. One that will probably evolve into mild regret, sweat pants, and extra gym hours.
If you like pictures, come say ‘hi’ on Instagram. I promise, not everything is food. There’s also my dog.
Anyway . . . publishing. The dreams-come-true and unicorn possibilities and now-the-hard-work-really-begins part.
My first night in NYC, I met my editor, Kate Farrell, (the senior editor at Henry Holt). She’s a lot of fun, and it was so cool connecting with the person who feels so deeply connected to my book. And also there was a photo booth. With a really bright flash.
Kate’s said that some BIG edits are coming my way. (That’s the hard-work-really-begins part I mentioned.) But it will only make FLASHFALL better, and more exciting, and memorable and sparkly. If you’re going to put in the blood, sweat, and tears writing, you might as well make it awesome, right? (Remind me of this later.)
No really, remind me—please.
This is from my shirt that I got just before my trip. Whatever is in your heart to do . . . go after it, work hard, believe it’s possible.
I dreamed about meeting my editor in New York long, looong, before it seemed possible. For more about my journey to get an agent here, and getting a book deal here. I hope my publishing story inspires you–especially if you’re in that place where the voice of doubt is telling you to quit. I felt that way so many times. More about that here.
Maybe your dream isn’t meeting your publisher in New York City. Maybe it is. Either way, I hope there are unicorns in your future. Or at least the feeling that they are possible.