Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Decade for Truth

We’re raised in a world of perceived absolutes and extremes. Solid colors are often the rule, even when it comes to being “open minded.” I've seen people who take the hard-line approach, with a black and white morality that has no flexibility, while others trade the stick straight and narrow for a canyon so wide that nothing matters and everything matters and nothing is real and everything is real and honestly, I get lost in the metaphysics of it all. 

Either way, I've shared in a range of these beliefs at one point or another. My systems of thought have been in limbo, impassioned, influx…I've been sure of what I believed as deep as my soul, then uncertain of anything at all. But intense self-reflection and introspection mixed with harsh realizations and tragedy tend to alter us. For me, they created a sort of uncertain hybrid that might be okay with not knowing. I mean, I think my belief is that I don’t know what I believe, that I don’t think any of us do. I mean, we feel things. We can feel them strongly enough to build a whole life philosophy around them, but do we really believe them? When the foundations that hold our fragile systems together are shaken, toppled, crumbled into dust, what’s left is a harder lesson. It’s truth. It’s individual truth, which is often merciless and full of turmoil.  Seeing ourselves as we've truly been, as opposed to the way we wanted to be, the way we strove to be, or the way we believed ourselves to be, seeing ourselves…down to the raw…that vision is a religious moment. It's a spiritual experience. That is agony and terror and a miracle.  In fact, it’s one of the only things in life 
I can consider a miracle—clarity. A minute free of blinders, when my defenses and self-delusions are gone and I see what I've done, what I've been doing. And how. And why. All the lies I've told myself to sooth old wounds, unraveling the times I was sure I'd found enlightenment. All the patches I wore--the ones I'd used to “heal”, the ones that looked pretty but concealed an infection of hurt that spread beneath my skin even still, they didn't stop the old voices from replaying, they didn't resolve actual feelings or take away the sting of memories I couldn't bear to face if I couldn't bear to face them. 

Sadness, anger, weakness and flaws---uncertainty—these are gifts. But the ability to process and feel these things is the only means of unwrapping them. Sounds cliche, but I've had to abandon a good deal of fingers-in-the-ears optimism over the years in order to locate the source of some thorns. I found that stubborn idealism could be every bit as close-minded as utter pessimism.There was a balance in my own truths, many and unpredictable as they are. I've embraced those ridiculous parts about myself. I've acknowledged the sad parts, I've comforted the angry ones. 

Funnily, I actually know far less than I used to think I did. And then I know less and less every day. I’m constantly unknowing what I was certain of before, and that’s okay. I mean, it sucks. But it’s okay, because knowing everything, having all the right answers (or believing you do) is exhausting anyway.  I’d much rather break down and cry like a loon than convince myself I’m fine--that everyone is juuuust fine--when I’m not. Even if life is. Because that may not be my truth at the time. 

And this is the decade of truth, scary and otherwise. Passionate truth. I’m embracing it.   


Saturday, November 22, 2014


How many people actually use their blogs for old school journaling anymore? Sometimes I feel like the only one who's putting vulnerable and/or personal truths up here...but then I remember that you guys like that, so I proceed accordingly.

Along those lines, I have a lot of intense conversations with my roommate. She’s one of those incredibly rare people who seems to exactly match me emotionally and intellectually, and she knows everything about me.  This is invaluable, even if we’re up until 2am talking and I feel like death the next day because of it. We have similar war stories and similar hearts. And recently, during a discussion about obstacles overcome, the conversation turned to her asking what’s in me that continually gave strength, that allowed me to thrive. She asked if I realized that other people who grew up in similar positions with similar weights on their shoulders often ended up getting into massive trouble, doing drugs or the like, wrecking their lives just trying to cope with the wreckage. But she was stunned that both myself and my little sister (who is studying to be a nun and a music teacher and is a remarkable soul) had this peaceful strength and quiet resilience that no one else around seemed to have. She wanted to know where that came from. She said it felt like some kind of knowing or determination at the root of us that stood planted, no matter how painfully our branches were torn at by storms.

I thought about this. It confused me, because I was often scared shitless in life, feeling like a lone woman on an island trying to hold it all up on my own, and how could I seem strong to others when I felt so afraid inside? And I wondered what is was all about. What had made us keep it together, from craziness to heartache right through to adulthood without being shaken too much? With a desire to continually grow instead of hide? What was it and where the heck had it come from? And I thought back to being a kid, and how I’d looked to the future, how I’d counted on it, how I’d built it up in my head and heart, how I dreamed about it, certain that it would be every bit as glorious as my present was dark. I had a natural passion for anything involving being alive, for the potential of life. Circumstances would whack at our spirits daily, try and break us, but somehow they never took away our hope or enthusiasm.  It’s not to say we didn’t come away with shrapnel…because who doesn’t? But we could have been blown apart completely. And here we are, whole.

Was it a God? Is it a sense of purpose? Little sister and I both always had a potent one of those, too. Until that night and conversation with my friend, I had never fully realized this about myself. I was scared, but apparently I was also resilient as hell. Sometimes we can’t even see who we are until others point it out to us.

I’m really grateful to whatever made us strong, be it nature or some kind of wiser force. And lately I’ve been filled with this extra pump of determination to launch my life through the roof of possibility, so the insight came at the right time. I think about this quote a lot---it's one of my favorites:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. ~Marianne Williamson

I'm not actually scared of my light, but I don't know that I always appreciated it. So here's to harnessing that inner strength and using it to take over the world. (In the best way possible, of course. ;) )


Sunday, September 28, 2014

What is The Light Series: For New Readers

First of all, I just want to do a little (big) dance and flying kick-a-pow in celebration of Simon and Schuster taking over The Light Series. I am now an S&S author, and proud of it! And in celebration of this, we have new covers, a soon-to-be-box set and all kinds of fun activities planned. But for those who have yet to read the books, maybe you're asking what The Light Series is all about (without spoiling things)? Well, here we go....

Imagine that you’re a simple woman, helping your grandparents run a little convenience store in your home town when all kinds of creepy things start happening to you.  You don’t feel safe in your own home or out in the woods or anywhere else for that matter, but you have no idea why or what on earth is going on.

This is how The Light Series begins, with one woman—Lillian Hunt—who thinks she’s losing her mind. But things aren’t always as they seem, right? Or maybe they are, and that’s the scary part.
In book one of The Light Series Trilogy, (Seers of Light) Lily faces a huge learning curve and a major life change in the form of a group of gifted souls who have to initiate her into this strange new world before some serious stuff goes down.  Lily is a bit on the over reactive side, partly due to her temper and partly because of her gifts, but her conflicting emotions make it tough to decide who is good, who is evil—especially where it comes to two men in particular. She has no idea what secrets came before her, what mysteries are ahead, but she’s too passionate to turn back.

Book two, Whisper of Light, is written from a different point-of-view –that of a normal human woman named Nicole Abbot, with ties to Lily’s group. Still, you see how different she is from the forward, outspoken Lily, and you see how every polarity of personality is necessary in their world. Nicole, through virtue of her troubled family life, is an important witness and inevitable player in the series.

Circle of Light takes it back to Lily again, but now we see something special is brewing in the relationships of all the characters, in their loss, in their love, in their anger and release...something taking more and more shape as a whole. The Light Series is about connected lives and destinies and the outcome of our actions when we choose love over fear (or the opposite).  I could say I wrote these books more for me than anyone else, but they’re also written for you guys, and there’s bound to be a character (goofy, sexy, nerdy, passionate, you name it) in this series that we can all relate to as ourselves.  The books are classed as paranormal romance, and they're at times scary, at times romantic, at times incredibly dorky, but I hope the series is something that gives you hope and inspiration and comfort when life gets complicated. 

Here are the new covers. I love them.  What do you think?

This coming week begins a month of buzz for the The Light Series, with a boxed set being released and new covers and just a fresh start.  Authors and readers will participate in a big Facebook blitz of fun media and giveaways on Wednesday, so follow me on Facebook to participate. I’ll be interviewed on the radio, a podcast, some vloggers and bloggers and reviewers will chime in with their opinions, as well. So tune in to learn more and enter to win your own copies of the books. Oh, and by the way, you see the Goodreads Giveaway on the right side of this blog? You can enter there, as well. And tell your friends.

Check out some reviews on the Light Series page of this blog, on Goodreads, Amazon or Simon and Schuster to see what other readers are saying about the series. But most of all, if you love it, talk it up, spread the word! 

Peace Out My Friends,

Monday, July 28, 2014

Five Years of Change: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Different.

All right, maybe not five. More like four and a half. But still. It’s been that long since my whole inner universe turned upside down and the stars exploded through my veins and insert more melodramatic claptrap here. Basically, I broke up with someone I’d been with for a long time. And then I moved to another state. And then my brother died. And things got scary financially. And also life and stuff and things and also insert Celine Dion’s All By Myself at the end of this sentence for some extra emotion.

Honestly, guys, ho-ly crap, though, it’s been a shit-storm. And all is not perfect, but that’s okay, because all is not bad, either. And that’s the first time I can say that with any real conviction in a long time.

When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t know what to make of it. Sure, it seemed dramatically scenic, but could I call it beautiful? That word seemed to apply to something that had some kind of personal, positive emotional tie, and I didn’t feel any emotional ties to this region. How could I? I was born on the opposite coast, lived a decade land-locked in the middle of the country, I’d made my ties elsewhere. But I hadn’t made them here. And I had happy feet. I had a wanderlust that hadn’t been tempered, so I was prepared to give up on this place in search of something better on more than one occasion. Plus, when things hurt badly enough, sitting still feels like torment. No distractions, no epic adjustments…just you.

I’ve done countless “just me” things in the last several years. And as I sit here, I wonder what I know about myself that I didn’t know, say, five years ago.  Some major things pop into mind:

-For one, I feel best when I’m needed. And while this is rooted in compassion and a desire to see people properly taken care of, it can also suck at your sense of duty to yourself. It can mask self-neglect. It can foster a false sense of identity. Especially in women. I can’t give myself too much flack about this, though. I was raised in an old school kind of way, after all, and it takes a long time to counter those thoughts. But after feeling empty, after witnessing my sister enter the convent and my brother passing away, I was left wondering who’s left to take care of, to worry about…but myself. And that was a heavy, hollow thing to sit with. Who needed me? Well…I did, of course. So now I’m trying to understand how that works. I’m trying to be okay with that.

-For another thing, I had about a millimeter’s worth of understanding where my own potential was concerned. I’d only begun to scratch the surface of what I was capable of five years ago. I mean, I was utterly clueless. I had no idea that I was such a coward, but I had no idea I was so badass, either! It’s true. I’d done a few cool things, but some part of me still doubted, if thrown into a tumultuous ocean all alone, whether I’d survive it on my own. I mean, who the hell was I, anyway? When there was no juxtaposition of a significant other, or siblings to care for, when it was just me…could I drag my grieving ass off the muddy floor and learn to speak up for myself, learn to push myself and prove myself? Did I believe I had what it took? No matter how boss I may have looked from the outside, on the inside I was losing my shit. But now…all kinds of interesting things are happening to change my mind. Which leads to point three….

-What I want and what I’m good at. Did you know that I rock at marketing other people’s stuff? Did you know that I’m a natural born strategist? This is a ball of yarn that’s still unravelling surprises, but so far so good. I always had a strong pull toward marketing, and it’s been a big part of my life for many years (since before my first book came out). But the fact that it (as well as writing) has become a part of my day job, as well, is a pleasant surprise—and one I wouldn’t have had the chance to accomplish had I run away from my fears instead of standing to face them head on.  I mean, picture a shaking girl with one eye open and a big old bull running at me with the word “life” pinned to its chest…That was me. I had to play a game of chicken with life far too many times. And it turns out, even when life threw the most horrendous bombs at my head/heart, I didn’t die. I actually didn’t explode and then melt into a pile of bloody goo a la True Blood vampires. In fact, I’ve withstood life’s tragedies with more grace and more strength than a lot of people. And this shocks me more than anything else. Where does the strength come from when I need it? And don’t even get me started about dating. That’s a whole other post.

It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged, but I guess I’ve just been trying to get my footing before I said anything else. This is the first time I can honestly say, in  2 ½ years of living in Seattle and double that since becoming single, that I’m starting to feel like I’m home. In my own skin and in Washington state.  And it’s about damned time.  

Turns out we can choose to swim instead of sink, which is a good thing, because I do love the water.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dreams and Runaway Trains

I never thought of myself as someone who has premonitions of things. I wasn't one of those people who dreamed about something specific only to have it happen the next day. I don't think I've ever really seen a ghost or definitive proof of anything otherworldly with my waking eyes.

But. But then again, sometimes I think life's visions aren't so blatant. They're not so spelled out for us in neat, massive sky writing. Sometimes, when you dream things and they hit you hard or stick with you forever, I think those are important things...even if we don't know why for a long time.
So far in my life, I've had two such dreams. One I wouldn't understand until recently, and one profoundly and immediately obvious. For example, the week I was to leave Missouri for Seattle, my heart was breaking. It had been two years since I'd split with my long-time significant other, but we remained best friends and as close as family. We'd basically grown up together, and I knew that saying goodbye would be one of the scariest, most difficult things we would ever do. Still, I was determined to be brave and move on to this new stage, to wipe my chalkboard clean of old mental residue and figure out who I really was. I needed to go away.

I remember laying on a blow up mattress in my ex's living room the night before we were to drive to Washington state, and just as I was about to drift off, the black of sleep turned into a stream of running water, and then the stream branched off in two different directions, with the message loud, clear and emphatic. Heck, I could even hear the water running! In fact, it was so shockingly loud that it shook me fully awake and sent me scrambling for my laptop to write an email entitled, "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL THURSDAY" (the first day alone in Seattle) for my ex to read. In it, I said that I'd had a dream and I knew I was supposed to share it and it was loud and clear: When you truly love someone, it doesn't matter if you grow apart, because that person is in you, they're a part of you and they'll always be close, no matter what it seems like. It was exactly what I didn't know I needed. And I was incredibly grateful.

Fast forward a year and a half.  I'd been thinking about an old dream--one I'd had when I was just a young teenager and predominantly charged with the care of my little brother and sister.

In the dream I was holding a young John's hand (he was probably eight or so at the time), and pushing my baby sister in a stroller. We came upon some railroad tracks, and seeing a train speeding towards us, I rushed us from the tracks only to find that we were walking on another set of them, same scenario...rushing train. Starting to panic, I hurried them along, but new tracks always emerged, and a new train sped toward us. Finally, with five or six trains barreling down on us, I turned behind me in desperation for some escape. But instead of freedom, there was a brick wall.

So many trains, relentless tracks, and a brick wall...and me, thirteen or fourteen years old, with a toddler and little boy. In that moment, I knew there was nothing I could do. I remember saying, "God help me." And then, as the worst was about to happen, I woke up.

You never forget a dream like that, though I just couldn't understand what it meant. My need to protect my brother and sister ran deep and started young--quite without any alternative. I was their caretaker and teacher. It came with the territory and it would extend into my adulthood. I was willing to be a human shield if I had to, and, in a lot of ways, I was.

But, in the end, no matter how much I wished I could keep them safe, it would reach a point where this was out of my control. The pinnacle of this realization came this past winter when, at twenty-five, my brother left this world. I felt so helpless, I was so helpless, to protect them now.

Thinking about that old train dream again, I'm pretty convinced it was more of a warning than anything else. Things would be hard. Then they'd get worse. And worse still. And eventually, we'd run out of tracks and I'd have to admit that I couldn't protect them forever. That we couldn't keep running away from the things that hurt us. Eventually, I'd have to stop with my back to a brick wall, face those trains with courage and release it to God. We love, but we have to let go. We can only stand back and pray for the best.

Maybe that was just how it had to be.

Anyway, strange things, dreams. They don't take a psychic to understand, just some awareness, or perhaps a few decades. So don't forget those dreams. You know the ones. If they don't make sense now, tuck them in your back pocket for later. You never know when their time will come.

Here's hoping I dream of joyful things tonight. I wish the same for you.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sometimes I Pee...And Other Things Authors Should Know Their Editors Do

To all the wonderful authors out there,
You know I love you. I am you. But I've seen some things over the last few years that suggest perhaps it's time to speak on behalf of my fellow editors--those often under slept, often underpaid soldiers everywhere when I say, please, writers of books...have mercy.  
Look, writers are needy people. Let's just be honest with ourselves. When it comes to one's work, I well understand that things can be stressful and emotional and that one's manuscript is a very significant aspect of their life. We've foregone sleep and fielded rejection and we want this damned book published yesterday already. I know this because I have three of my own books published to date, so I've been there and I'm still doing that. But, the previous being said, there are a few points I'd like authors to keep in mind during the editing process.
First, an author mustn't forget that they are not the only instrument in the orchestra, so to speak. And while each author is individually concerned about their own deadlines, an editor is concerned about many. And that doesn't just include the authors on their slate, but all those involved in the process of a book's publication, from detail editors to copy editors to font setters and so forth. If more revisions are needed, if things are taking longer than expected, it's not a decision made lightly. It's a necessary one that impacts all parties. So, if we're willing to slow our roll to do things right, you should be, too.
Second, please know that many editors have several faces--myself included--outside the realm of the editing world. I have an obligation to market my businesses, for instance. If you see me on Twitter or Facebook, please take a deep breath before the knee-jerk feelings of neglect set in. I have a boss and a publisher, too, after all, and these venues are major factors in marketing and public relations. Each one has its own allotted time in my life. They are necessary and they are mine. If it bothers you to see that your editor has a life beyond the notes in an email or the margins of a word doc, it's probably best to look away, unfollow, whatever helps you sleep at night. You are the center of your universe--but you are not the center of your editor's.
Along with these things, and with the unpredictable income this business allows, your editor will often maintain another professional position to help pay their bills, which makes for a juggling act and a half, let me tell you, resulting in many grossly late nights spent squinting in front of someone's manuscript because, by golly, it needs to be done. Sure we have other personal business we'd love to cut into, sure our kids are whining or the husband/wife keeps shooting us dirty looks for ignoring them and working 16 hour days for the third week in a row...but authors rarely see that. It's all about perspective. 
Also, and strangely enough, I confess that editors can and do choose not to edit every free moment of their lives. They even try to maintain a day or two for non-editing purposes. As a good editor pal of mine once told me, "the NLRB ruled that my employers are required to let me sleep and eat." I tend to agree. Most of the time, I try (and fail) to make my weekends a sacred writing time. Other editors will have a "family time" rule, while others will sneak a day in to just ignore their emails and keep from becoming a mentally off-balanced, self-neglected recluse. And this is good, because you do not want a burned out editor working on your manuscript. That will do it no justice.   
In closing, writer folks, remember that your eagerness to be published does not and must not determine the speed of the editing process. It's bloody cool that your book is being published at all, so throw back a shot of something strong, and whatever you do...think twice before sending your editor another email, or complaining when you've (stalked) seen them doing X, Y, Z and why would they ever be doing anything else but working on your novel?!
I beg you. Do not repeatedly poke the editor. I mean it. Seriously, they are obviously not in this for the glory. They're in it for you. They're in it because they love words, they love perfecting them and they love helping an author present a product beyond anything a writer could have imagined by its end. Many a wonderful editor has helped me grasp this with my own books. And I'll love them forever.
That's all, folks. Now, go out there and do what you do! Just do it patiently, huh?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Don't Look For It. Be It.

We would often say that the people in our lives are what create a sense of belonging and home. But, the more I consider how unreliable a method of security that can be, the more I wonder how wise it is to cling to someone else to make us feel that way. Human connection is fulfilling, without a doubt, but, through changes we may never see coming, circumstances always out of our control, life can remove people from our midst, one way or another, physically or emotionally.

Would we still feel safe then? "Home" then? And if not, maybe it's important to learn what makes us feel "home" wherever we are...in the presence of ourselves alone. To love without attachment. To feel fulfillment in living life and giving love without expectation, and trusting in the ultimate balance. It's a lesson meant especially for me, I think.

"Don't let your soul get lonely child
It's only time, it will go by
Don't look for love in faces, places
It's in you, that's where you'll find kindness."
Ray Lamontagne - Be Here Now