Living Without Furniture

A couple weeks ago, my dear friend and mentor Liza Wiemer said to me that she felt like I was living on pause.  I pretended to hear her but when we hung up I told myself that she was way off-base, that she was wrong and I was living the best I could. That I’ve been doing the best I can do for months and months now, and it was finally all turning around. Then I moved on and continued to wonder why I felt the way I did and why I couldn’t write and why why why.

Little did I consider that maybe, just maybe, she was right.

Here’s some backstory. And it’s going to get a little personal.

In April I started seeing my amazing boyfriend, Justin. At 27 (almost 28) he was my first boyfriend. The first everything really, as until him I’d only been on two dates before ever and kissed one person. I just never really had time or belief that I’d find someone. I had other dreams, other goals, other things to do and yes, it would’ve been great to share my life with someone and I wanted that, but I never really thought it’d happen. And then it did.

And my life completely changed. I moved, my roommates separated, I was job searching, dealing with this newness of having someone in my life and all the things that come with that, and honestly, it’s all a blur. My whole summer was one big mess. I stopped going to the gym. I stopped writing. I stopped going on random road trips. I never saw my friends, partly because some left and I moved 45 minutes away, but also because I was happy getting to know him and being someone’s girlfriend, exploring what that meant, what it looked like, what I wanted. I started seeing a shrink, taking Zoloft, experiencing all these emotional highs and lows that made it really hard to focus on the things that matter to me.

I want to say upfront that Justin is amazing and being with him has been a more remarkable thing than I imagined and we are both committed to each other. He’s been nothing but encouraging and supportive. None of this is on him. I’m the one who quit doing things I loved. I’m the one who got lost. The best analogy I can think of is that I moved to a new house but I forgot to bring all my boxes. I left the things that made up my life — the furniture, the decorations, the trinkets–in my old house and for months I’ve been sitting on the floor and I’ve been wondering why it’s so uncomfortable but being too afraid to ask why. I knew there was a problem because I saw the outcomes — me not writing, me feeling unbalanced — but I never stopped to ask what the problem was. And when someone else asked me, I didn’t seek an answer. I just kept on pretending.

Last night, Justin and I were talking. I was upset, as I often am, about nothing. We were discussing when we first met almost six months ago and he said that part of what attracted him to me was my drive. That I had all these plans, goals, ambitions and I was working toward them.  That I knew what I wanted and he, in turn, wanted me to be in his life. Then we started this thing together and it’s like I turned off all that other stuff.

It just hit me when he said that: Liza was right. I have been living on pause.

Until he said that to me hadn’t realized I was living on pause. When I met him, I had this new awesome person and it was something I’d always dreamed of…but I put everything else on hold. I really don’t think I realized that I’d walked away from those other things, or I did realize it but walking back almost felt like losing this thing that I had now. (Losing him.) So I kept going without writing, without exercise, without adventure, without all the things that made me ME. I was living in a house without furniture and I didn’t even know it.

Ultimately, I’ve been scared. Scared that I’m not allowed to have everything I want — writing, romance, travel, health, a job I love — so I picked one thing that mattered (a boy) and kept moving without the other things. I was too terrified to know how to have them all. But I’ve now realized that when you have these parts of your life that are missing, and you’re trying to put someone or something else into them, it’s doesn’t fix anything. Those pieces are still missing.

I’ve spent a lot of time just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I dived into all this new relationship stuff with the intention of enjoying it, but I’m not really giving all of myself to it. Because I’ve been living on pause, it was like if this relationship didn’t make it then my old life could resume. So instead taking me and merging it into a new life, I kept it all separate. Like I could just go back to the old place when this one didn’t work out. It’s basically having a back up plan.

But here’s the thing: I’m not really living. I’m not doing the things I love. I’m not being who I need to be. I’ve sorta lost the things that bring me joy, that make my proud, that make love myself, that keep me focused. Without those things, who am I?

Being immobilized by fear is a serious thing and letting fear control your life? That’s no way to live. I’ve never been that person, and yet I’ve become her. Maybe it’s because I’ve only been pretending instead of actually living. I’m not entirely sure. All I know is I don’t like it and I won’t continue.

I’m sharing this story here because it’s important. When you realize that you’re the one standing in your own way, you have to make a change. You have to move. If I’m on pause then I’m not living — and now that I know how I’ve been spending my time, I can’t keep doing it. I told Justin earlier that I was going to take action. That I was going to push play. It’s easy to say and harder to do. In order to do that I feel like I need be honest. Admitting you have a problem is the first step…the second is finding a solution.

I’ve had a conversation with Justin about what’s going on. He, like always, is supportive and enthusiastic that I see this in myself. His big thing is action not just words, so I have created an action plan.

#21DaysofPlay is what it’s called. I made a calendar and every single day for 21 days I have to do two things:

  1. Exercise. I have these videos which take like 45 minutes a day and I’m going to wake up early and do them before work. Every day. I do it and I get a star sticker.
  2. Write. Because I WANT to and I just need to make it a priority, so each day I write I get a star sticker

At the end of 21 days if I have 21 stars for exercise then I get a reward of my choosing (one that I’ve decided on prior to the start of a new cycle.) If I have 21 stars for writing then I get to go to a movie or buy a book. Then I get a day or two off, then repeat.

I know it’s a small thing, but I’m really hoping this will help me jumpstart myself. These actions both bring me joy, so making them a priority and setting goals that I want to achieve can only be positive.

Pushing play, living, means taking action. This is where I’m starting.

DAYS LIKE THIS is out today!!

Ah! Finally!! I’m so so so excited to share this book with everyone! I even got to start off my morning with a celebratory call to my favorite radio show, The Kane Show, where we talked a few seconds about DAYS. (So freaking cool!)

I was lucky enough to get three amazing, amazing blurbs for the book — which if you get a pretty hard copy then you can see them all on there in pink and black and white.

“A complicated story of self-discovery, first love, and the hope of second chances. DAYS LIKE THIS left me breathless.” – Rachel Harris, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Full of beautiful prose, raw emotion, and complex characters, Days Like This will tug at your heart and hold on tight.” – Chanel Cleeton, author of French Kissed

“Pretty prose and characters who long for things they don’t want to will, in turn, make you long for them to find happiness with every flip of every page. I was totally invested in the love story before they set eyes on each other. Filled moments of such sweetness and ones of holy hell hotness, this was the perfect balance of emotion followed by sexual tension that revs your entire system. A++. Definitely recommend!” – Riley Edgewood, author of Rock & Release

These three, and some other really fantastic authors, will be joining me tonight for a release party on Facebook! If you’re there, stop by at some point and join in on the fun

And lastly, here are all the places you can buy DAYS LIKE THIS!!

Signed Print Copies || Amazon ||  iBooks || Barnes and Noble ||  Kobo || Scribd || Inktera

I’M SO EXCITED!!!

#DaysLikeThis1

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Starting May 5 and ending June 5, #DaysLikeThis1 is taking over social media. To celebrate the release of my book, I’ve decided to start a campaign to share (at least) one thing each day for a whole month that shows something that creates happiness in my daily life. I’ll be using Instagram mostly (because I like pictures) but you can also share on Twitter, on Facebook, on Tumblr, on anything you’re using! It can be text, images, songs, whatever and wherever.

The goal here is get people involved in promoting enjoying the small moments of joy that can be found in life. If we’re all united in this – highlighting the good — then what a beautiful thing that can be. (Plus, it’s fun.)

The adventure will start May 5 and continue until June 5 to celebrate the release of my book, Days Like This, on June 2! During this day, I would definitely encourage anyone who buys the book to use it as part of your daily happy. There could be extra fun things that happen.:)

In addition to the sharing your happy thing from each day, every time you use the hashtag #DaysLikeThis1 you are entered into a contest. The contest will have a random weekly winner who will receive a prize for participating — and then at the end of the month on June 5, another winner will be chosen. This winner will have posted to the #DaysLikeThis1 hashtag every day of the challenge.

The weekly prizes will alternate between a $5 gift card for Amazon, Barnes and Noble or iTunes or a collection of randomly selected books!

End of Month Prize Pack includes:

  • Signed copy of Follow Me Through Darkness by Danielle Ellison
  • A complete playlist of songs from Days Like This via iTunes and sent directly to you! (A $20 value of great music!)
  • 1 e-book copy of each of the following novels:
    • Rock & Release #1 by Riley Edgewood
    • Taste the Heat by Rachel Harris
    • Beckon Me by Cindy Thomas
    • I See London by Chanel Cleeton

A final random winner (who will be awarded a selection of hard copy novels) will be selected to at the end of the month to a randomly selected participant who also does all of the following:

That’s it.

Spread the word about #DaysLikeThis1 — share the image above and a link to this post on your social media to get it all started on May 5 — and let’s have fun! I can’t wait to see what makes you happy each day.:)

Rules:
1. Only one entry per day will be counted per person.
2. The same picture can not be used more than once.
3. International welcome, but hard copies of items will be changed for e-books (when possible) or will be excluded unless winner wants to cover shipping.

DAYS LIKE THIS cover reveal!!

DAYS LIKE THIS is out in less than two months. I’m over the moon!! I’m happy to announce that now only do I have an amazing blurb from the one and only Rachel Harris, I also have a great cover that’s a perfect fit for this story.

Rachel Harris had this to say about the book: “A complicated story of self-discovery, first love, and the hope of second chances. DAYS LIKE THIS left me breathless.”

I’m still pinching myself that she loved it so much. And now check out my gorgeous cover designed by the always lovely and talented Jenny Adams Perinovic! 

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And here’s what the book is about:

Sometimes the only thing standing between fear and hope is yourself.

Almost a year ago, nineteen-year-old Cassie Harlen had a lot to deal with. A stack of college acceptance letters waiting for answers, a proposal from the boy next door, and a mother whose most recent bipolar episode left Cassie hurt and confused. Tired of cleaning up the messes caused by her mother’s disorder, of resenting her mother for not being there, and scared of being trapped by an inevitable future—which included marrying Graham Tucker—Cassie did the only thing she could think of to keep from ending up like her mother: she left.

Graham never knew why Cassie walked away. He woke up one morning and she was gone—along with the life that he’d created around her. After eleven months, Graham has a new plan for his future. One that doesn’t involve Cassie Harlen.

When Cassie’s mom nearly burns down her house, Cassie’s forced to return home. Back to a mother she’s tried to ignore and the guy she’s been unable to forget. Graham doesn’t know how he’s going to spend the whole summer living next door to the person who broke his heart without letting those old feelings push through to the surface.

Neither does Cassie.

I’m beyond excited to share this story!! In fact, I’m so excited and I hope that every single one of you adds it to Goodreads!  

It’s already available for digital pre-order at all these places: Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Kobo || Apple

Print copies will be available too. You’ll have to wait for those, but you can pre-order signed print copies at my bookstore.

So that’s my new book! WHAT DO YOU THINK??????

Announcing my new book!!

I have some very exciting news!

Two years ago, I wrote a New Adult book called Days Like This. I completely loved it from the first line, and it has held a special place in my heart ever since. Not only is this is the book that got me my fantastic agent, it’s also a story that makes me remember why I write. Days Like This is a romance (yes) but it’s also about love, redemption, and the choices that define us. Sometimes life can’t be pretty and perfect, or easy and sweet; life is hard, terrifying, and painful…but it can also be hopeful. It’s just a matter of taking time to see that, to grab that act of redemption, and to trust that even if you fall, you can get up again.

Days Like This is a story my agent loves, that I love, and that everyone who’s read it has shared a strong reaction to. I think that books like are special. Those are the ones that are meant to be shared.

And that’s why I’m THRILLED to share it with all of you!!

The cover and all the book’s info will be revealed on in just a few days on Thursday, April 2!  The book will be available to purchase on June 2. 

You can add it to your goodreads right now!

If you want to sign up to be part of my cover reveal, then there’s still time. Just click this link right here!

Cover Reveal for SEEK ME IN SHADOWS (Book 2)!!!

Today I get to share the cover for SEEK ME IN SHADOWS, which is book 2 in The Boundless Trilogy. I love my cover for Follow Me Through Darkness, but this one brings the beauty and danger of the world to a new level. One that is thoroughly echoed through the book! I love it so much. My fantastic cover designer, Hafsah, really blew it out of the water again.

SMIS

About the book: 

Neely Ambrose thought she was done with secrets. When she escaped the Compound, she also believed she’d escaped a future built on lies and deceit. She was wrong; the world outside isn’t much better. In fact, it may be worse.

All Neely wants is to safely deliver the people of the Compound into Remnant camps so she can go start a life of her own with Thorne. But that’s before the Remnants start dying around her, before camps are destroyed just after she’s left them, before she notices a strange bird carving at the site of each attack, and before Thorne is taken.

The Mavericks believe Thorne is dead, taken by the Elders who will stop at nothing to find Neely, but she’s determined to prove them wrong.

But the only clue she has to find him is a bird carved into the last place where anyone saw Thorne. As she starts a journey to find him, she learns the birds are a symbol for a secret group that’s made a home in the shadows. A group that even Xenith doesn’t know about, that the Remnants won’t talk about, and that Neely feels may have a plan of their own — and that plan may involve her.

SEEK ME IN SHADOWS releases in October 2015.

What do you think of the cover???

Why the NoVa TEEN Book Festival Exists (And What It Means To Me)

NoVa TEEN Book Festival is this weekend! I can’t believe it. This is my baby, and it’s a wonderful feeling to experience every year (I only have two under the belt but it’s still special.) We started planning in July and for months this has consumed a large portion of my conversations, and an even larger portion of my time, my thoughts, and my heart. I’m very grateful that I get to organize an event like this.

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Just over two years ago it was a dream, a random idea that I had no idea how to pull off — then last year happened (with the help of many, many, MANY, people) and it was amazing.  We accomplished our goal: ONE PERSON.

Growing up I never had the opportunity to meet authors. I say this all the time but I didn’t know that people could have jobs writing books. They were a thing that appeared and I read them. That was it. I sometimes feel like if I’d had more opportunities, a better knowledge of what was, a way to connect then I would’ve figured out what I wanted to be and do a lot sooner.

My goal in this event has always been one person. If one person came who wouldn’t have usually come. If one person was inspired. If one person learned about an author or a book they didn’t know about before. If one person discovered a book or an author that had the power to impact. If one person’s experience changed their life in some infinitesimal way. If one person left there different in any way, then we’d done our job. That was the reason the bookstore put thousands into the event, and the libraries partnered, and the authors came, and the publishers sent, and I spent all my free time working on it, and my team gave up their time to help me with no thanks or payment in return. That ONE PERSON was why were doing this. Even if only one person came and left impacted, then it was worth it.

But then 300 people came. The stories started flooding my inbox from teachers and librarians and students about how much it meant to them. I still feel blessed by the smiles and stories that teens who went last year recap even now, and when they talk about how excited they are. I love that! I love that they feel like this is their event as much as mine, as much as my team’s, as much as the sponsors who help make it happen. I love that they love it, because we created it for them. I want to do it for them as long as I can.

I have a great story from last year. Jenny, who’s on my planning team, has a little brother  then-15 who came (somewhat begrudgingly) with his family. He went to the panels…and he loved them. He met Phyllis Reynolds-Naylor, and he was inspired by her. His encounters changed his perspective, and he left there excited to read. He read everything he could…and he went from disliking English to a kid who recommended books to his teachers! This year, he’s already read most of the books that are going to be here and he’s probably the most excited person in his family. Maybe even more than Jenny and me.:)

Stories like that are why this event exists. It’s why it’s smaller and offers a chance for readers to really connect with authors, and for authors to really get their book out there. That’s why we do panels and breakout sessions. That’s why we get a variety of everyone and everything. It’s why our whole schedule is the way it is. This event is about connecting readers with stories. That will never change.

I often get asked why I don’t put myself on the panels or in the breakout sessions. “I mean, you’re an author too –and an indie one at that! Don’t you want the exposure?” That answer for me is simple: It’s not about me.

I wanted to create something for the teens, bring in authors they loved, authors they didn’t know they should love, get them excited. (Obviously, we are thrilled that everyone in the community, not just teens, are excited, involved and in attendance!) I wanted to give authors a platform to connect — which is why we like to have debuts and at least one indie/small press author present. We want to gross genres, represent the diversity that is so prevalent in our audience and city, and to be as relevant to everyone as we can. We spend a lot of time selecting authors and books to attend.

Our local authors are amazing and through the bookstore we offer as much support as possible, but they’re always here. We want to bring in authors that have never been to this area before, to keep teens excited, to keep things fresh. It’s only once a year, and we want to always look forward, to continue to improve, to reach more people, and to grow awareness of the hungry audience that exists here in the DMV–and doing all of that means putting yourself aside.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of others, and I truly believe if I give back that support then I believe it will return to me. Even if that means “sacrificing” my time in the spotlight…I’m also Type A person. Some might say I need to let go a little. I already want to be in every single place at the event at the same time, and to make sure it’s all running smoothly–so if I tried to add “author” to my shoulders I’d probably fall over. I’d rather focus on one thing than on two. Plus, if I took a spot then that means another author wouldn’t get one, perhaps an author who had a powerful story to share, and that would hardly be fair to our teens or others guests just because I wanted a spot.

So, anyway. Here we are again! Just days away!  Year two is here on Saturday. I can hardly believe it.

We already have over 400 people registered to come — and I’m sure people will show up who haven’t registered. I am beyond excited that so many readers want to be part of this. It’s amazing how one little idea for an event that “maybe no one will come” to has turned into this incredible experience that’s solely sponsored by local businesses, schools and libraries. Unlike some other festivals, we don’t have publishers or big financial backers supporting us; we do it all on our own from organizing with publishers, with businesses and high schools, with publicity, with organizing every aspect, gathering volunteers and with financial support. I say all that because this is truly a labor of love for everyone involved!

I speak on behalf of everyone at the bookstore, the libraries, the schools, the businesses, and my planning team — Nico Piro, Lelia Nebeker, Ted Kavich, Lisa Myklestad, Lisa Maxwell, Jenny Adams Perinovic — when I say that we are so proud to present this event this year. We know it’s going to be a blast.

I hope that everyone who comes on Saturday leaves the event feeling inspired, hopeful, and having discovered a new author or book or something inside themselves.  If one person does that, then our goal has been accomplished. Based on the passions of the authors attending this year and the excitement of the registered attendees, I have no doubt it will be a complete success.

If you come, try to say hi to me. I’ll be the one running around like a mad person, but I would love to hear from you. (Especially if you’re a teen because this is my gift to you.)