FLASHTIDE Releases Today!

FLASHTIDE, the sequel to FLASHFALL is out today! Some of you are familiar with the journey it took for me to reach this milestone, so you’ll understand why I”m giddy as I write these words. I’m still absorbing all the wonderful tweets and posts, and texts from friends this morning, but then I’m headed to the bookstore to SEE IT ON THE SHELF. *flails*

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Here’s the deal. I don’t know when, or even if I’ll get to have another moment like this. I am a girl filled with an abundant amount of hope and optimism, but I intend to soak up this day’s special moments just the same. I tell fellow creatives and writers and dream-seekers this all the time: celebrate every win, no matter how big or small. You wrote a scene? Pat yourself on the back. You sent out a query to agents? Congratulations, you’re in the game. You got a rejection letter? Cheers, friend! Buy yourself some shoes because you are taking bold, brave steps. (This worked for me, and I wore those shoes to my first official author event! ; )

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Tomorrow, I have scenes to write and a book to finish. It’s got some issues currently, but that is the wilderness of drafting. I will plow through the weeds and find the story buried beneath it all. But today . . . I have champagne and cupcakes and most likely some happy dancing in Barnes & Noble on the horizon. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to some tears, too. I have a lot of emotions today . . .

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So many feels. Writing these characters and their story pulled me out of a discouraging time when I was trying so hard to get published. Their situation seemed hopeless. Mine did. But there is light in the dark times, if you have the strength to find it. There are sometimes miracles in the mire. Growth and strength that evolve from being pushed and pressed.

There’s a quote on my Flashfall Pinterest board that says “Stars can’t shine without darkness.” That is my favorite thing to write about. I’ll be honest-Orion and Dram go through some truly dark times in this book. But I didn’t leave them there. Sometimes hope is the barest flicker of a flame, but it is enough. This is the conclusion to my Subpars’ story, and I’m going to miss writing about them.

Flashfall fans, I hope I did you proud. Thank you for caring about these cavers from Outpost Five.

And thanks for celebrating with me. Cheers, friends!

 

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Ever Onward: Moving Past Rejection to Creative Courage

These are my rejection letters. They represent a lot of closed doors, all the times my hard work and dreams were met with “no.”

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I heard “you’re not good enough” so many times that I wrote a book called Subpars. It went on to be published and re-titled Flashfall. Tomorrow, the sequel to that book releases.

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But here’s the thing-I STILL get rejected. I’m dealing with it even now.

So what do we dreamers do? Guard our hearts and stop putting ourselves out there? Or can we celebrate the fact that we are making time do what we love? That we are brave souls for sharing our art with the world.

They don’t send out letters for that.

So, from one dreamer to another: I see you there, with your heart on your sleeve. This world is fraught with those who will say we are not enough. But I celebrate you and your courage to do what you love-despite those voices.

I’m currently in the midst of Flashtide promo–and the wild hope that the world will hear about my book and care enough to show interest. That is an incredibly tricky place for me to navigate emotionally, I’ve learned. So, these past few days I’ve neglected some of those marketing “should dos” for the simple task of putting fresh words to a fresh page.

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It seems there are times, no matter how many years I’ve spent writing, where this feels particularly daunting. Scary, even. But I did it anyway, and I’ve broken through to the place where it is a joy to write again. For the first time in three years I don’t have a deadline driving me. Just the call of this new imaginary world and its inhabitants, and my curiosity to see how it all turns out.

That is the true success of overcoming rejection. My creative joy is still there, past the hurt and doubt, waiting for me to find it, and discover what new adventures lie ahead.

What I have going for me this time, is the success of having done this before. Of knowing that all the closed doors can be used as stepping stones to get where I need to be. It still aches, but there is a lightness to my steps that stems from hope.

 

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These letters were not the end of my writing journey or publishing dreams. Because I didn’t give them that power. They don’t represent missed opportunities, but rather proof that I’m bravely engaging in creative pursuit–in all its ups and downs.

We learn, we grow. We get better if we just keep going.

So I celebrate you today, my fellow dreamers. Let’s pick up our pens and start a fresh page. Let’s get excited about this adventure that is ours to take. Let’s toss discouragement aside and see with clear eyes what new discoveries await us.

Ever onward, friends.

Revision Fatigue and Battling the Doubt Monster

I’m going to be honest. I’m sick of reading my book.

That probably doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement for FLASHFALL, but that’s just where I’m at this stage of the editing process, now that I’ve read it eighteen million-billion times.

People suggest taking a break, and coming back to your manuscript with ‘fresh eyes.’ I had a four-month break while waiting for my second round revision notes. Two weeks into editing, and my brain’s pretty much ‘what even are these words?’

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Revision Fatigue has set in. So I break the edits down onto sticky notes, put them on my board beside my laptop, and tackle them a scene at a time. Between that, I take Emmy for walks and drink copious amounts of coffee. I wear my Gryffindor socks (because magic) and my t-shirt that says, I Can and I Will (because cozy encouragement t-shirts help, too.)

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Still. As much as I whittle away my edits into a mountain of sticky-notes, another voice rises up, louder than my writer’s voice.

This is crap. This plot has too many holes. That doesn’t make sense. That’s cliché.

The voice of the Doubt Monster.

If you’ve ever written a book, or undertaken a creative endeavor, you’ve probably encountered your own.

So what can we do to battle the doubt? Here are a few things that help me:

  1. Get outside your own head. Sometimes, we are too close to the story to see when a character’s motivations are unclear or a plot development doesn’t make sense. Beta readers and critique partners are essential. Open yourself up to other people’s feedback. If you’re re-working a scene, and feel like it’s not working—run it by a couple (trusted) people. They can help re-assure you or re-direct you. By the time you’ve revised your manuscript that many times, it can be hard to see it objectively.
  2. Trust the process. It’s normal to weary of reading your book. That doesn’t mean it’s bad—it just means you’ve grown numb to all the discoveries that make books interesting. Also, by the time we get to multiple rounds of edits, we’re viewing our writing through hyper-critical lenses, focusing on the ‘problems’. Reading from that place is never fun.
  3. Commiserate with other writers. The authors in my debut group (The Sweet Sixteens) have gone through similar feelings, and just reading about their experiences makes me feel better. I love connecting with other writers on Twitter, too, and being able to share the challenges of writing and editing. So many times, they have great insights and perspectives to share. It’s reassuring, therapeutic, and usually enough to squash the doubt monster.
  4. Trick your brain. There have been studies that show how our brains ‘see’ printed and computer text differently. If your words are starting to blur together, print out your manuscript and work from the hard copy for bit. This helps me enormously—especially when I’m working through any big revisions. The other thing that helps me is a change of scenery. Try writing outside, or go to a coffee shop. Sometimes we just need to shake up our routine to get our focus back.
  5. Trust yourself. This is vital, because the best writing happens when we write from a place of confidence. Something inspired you to begin this journey—and the heart of that story is still there. Don’t get so caught up in the ‘problems’ you are fixing, that you lose sight of what the story’s about.
  6. Take a moment. Take a day. On a fresh page, write something entirely new. Or, approach a scene you’re revising from a new angle. Throw off all constraints and allow yourself to exercise and re-charge the artist part of your writer self. This is what I do when I stall out in my writing, (staring at blank walls, anyone?) or if my writing becomes stale and the characters or dialogue flat. It seems counter-productive to ‘getting the revisions done’—especially when you’re on deadline, but these moments have actually led to some of my strongest scenes in FLASHFALL.
  7. Don’t be afraid to break it. Embrace the act of revision as an opportunity to re-envision a scene, character, or plot point. Sometimes we hold on so tightly to what we’ve written, that we don’t allow for the possibility of what something can be. For more about this, check out my post on Publishing Hub.

Believe that you are capable of writing and re-writing your book to its fullest potential. It’s normal for the Doubt Monster to visit from time to time. Just don’t let it stay.

Keep writing. Keep revising. You’ve got this!

If you have any suggestions of your own, please post them in the comments! (Or tweet them at me: ) How do you overcome doubt? What helps you avoid ‘zombie brain’ when you’re revising? Please share!

For more, here’s a peek at my revision process:

Navigating the Revision Cave

Sometimes, when I’m deep in the Revision Cave, I run into walls that make me lose perspective. I focus so hard on the challenges presented by an edit, that I lose sight of what revision truly is: opportunity. The push that makes us look harder at something, until we scratch away the surface and reveal a character for who they really are. The nudge that compels us to make the hard cuts so other scenes shine brighter, and the pacing of the whole book improves.

Second round revisions and line edits for FLASHFALL

Second round revisions and line edits for FLASHFALL

When I was in third grade, an author spoke to us fledgling writers at a Young Authors Conference. He said, “writing is re-writing.” I honestly had no idea what he meant at the time. Fast forward many years, and many books later, and I believed that I had gained a good understanding of that old adage.

Young Authors' Conference, 8th grade

Young Authors’ Conference, 8th grade

But if editing my debut novel has taught me anything, it’s that I had NO IDEA how deeply I’d need to explore the depths of my creative abilities to revise again and again and again.

Sometimes, your editor (or agent or critique partner) may like your writing, but they push you to develop something ‘more.’ That is when you either bang your head against the wall, or you persevere, dig deep . . . and occasionally discover moments, or scenes, or elements that you didn’t know you had in you. The more that can take your story from good to great.

A little over a year until FLASHFALL releases, and it’s really coming together during these final rounds of edits. It’s a book I will be proud to see on the shelf. But it’s not the same book my agent sold last fall. It’s been shaped and stretched into a story more richly layered, visceral, and compelling than I realized it could be from the ‘early days’. The bones were there, but now parts of it feel three-dimensional and ‘alive’ in ways it didn’t before. That is the beauty of revision.

Writing is re-writing. And re-discovering. And re-imagining.

Embrace the act of revision as an opportunity to re-envision a scene, character, or plot point. Then, once you’ve re-envisioned, have the courage to write something new. Sometimes we hold on so tightly to what we’ve written, that we don’t allow for the possibility of what something can be.

For more about this, including some of the best creative advice I ever received, check out my post on Publishing Hub, Don’t Be Afraid To Break It.

And, if you’re curious about my process, here’s a peek . . .

Reaching Past Rejection: How Dreaming Big Led to a Book Deal

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I wrote this in the sand the day before I met my agent in person, at this past summer’s SCBWI LA conference. I was in a bit of a creative/emotional funk, wrapping up months of revisions and getting ready to send my manuscript out into the great big world of publishing. I had one of the best agents in the business, (and her amazing editorial skills), but I had no guarantee that the doors I hoped would open, wouldn’t in fact—close.

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I stood barefoot in the surf and stared toward the horizon, making wishes on the waves. I picked up two sea stones, held them tight and thought of every dream I had for myself as a writer, and threw one of those rocks back to sea. I let the waves carry away the hopes and dreams I’d made, and kept the other stone, as a reminder to myself that those dreams were still out there—waiting for the right time and place to land.

As my feet sank into the sand, I gave myself a pep talk: if things didn’t go as I hoped, I’d allow myself a good cry, then get right back on that metaphorical horse. This wasn’t my first Rejection Rodeo. I had persevered through years of rejected queries and manuscripts to get to this point. The fact that I hadn’t given up was something to celebrate.

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One of the promises I made myself as I watched the August sun sink into the ocean, was that—whether I landed a book deal or not—I’d keep writing.

What I couldn’t know then, was that I’d make it through the ups and downs of the submission process with more than one editor who wanted the stories I had to tell. I couldn’t know then, as I drew those letters in the sand, what Sarah’s voice would sound like when she called and said, “how does it feel to know you’re going to be a published author?” Or how I would cry happy tears when she told me they wanted not just one, but two books.

As I threw my rock out to sea, I didn’t know that some of my dreams would find their landing just eight weeks from that day.

That sea-tossed stone now sits on my desk, a reminder of when I let go of what I couldn’t control, and celebrated what I had accomplished so far.

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If you are holding your own sort of sea stone, remember the dreams you painted inside your heart. Keep pushing. Keep running. Keep learning and growing and doing everything else but give up. And if you’ve been too afraid to go after what you love—maybe this is your moment. Whisper your dreams to the waves and be true to the courageous voice inside you that says “reach.”

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