Holy guacamole! I can't believe I went an entire year without posting a single word to this blog. As I hang my head in shame, please accept my deepest apologies... And to those who stuck it out with me in 2023, thank you!
So here we are in 2024, looking forward to a fresh start (and other cliches). Instead of resolutions, which are too easy to go awry, I choose a word of the year (WOTY). The point is to come back to that word as a fundamental focus as I move through the year, facing obstacles and making choices. The WOTY sets the tone for the year, in many ways.
This year, my word is ACHIEVE. I've been putting off too many things that need to be completed. I've denied myself ample opportunities to move forward with my writing. I've lost the thread on where I'm going and what I'm here to do. The word achieve is open-ended enough to apply to so many aspects of my life, yet specific enough to help me set real goals and expectations. An achievement in everyday life could be any number of things, big or small: attending a yoga class, checking off a major to-do item, or just getting out of bed and into the shower.
I have many goals for the next year, but simply making a resolution to do specific things isn't enough. I need to step back and look at each step forward, each achievement I make on any front, and celebrate what I can accomplish.
Who knows? Maybe this mindset will help me finish that next damn book.... After all, it's something to achieve.
Another calendar page has turned, dearest readers, and I'm ready to hit the keyboard hard to give you plenty to read in the year ahead. If you follow me on Facebook, then you've been getting inundated with lots of exciting little bits of info in the past few days:
1. Under Renovation is now available in audiobook format on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes! This is a first for me and I've been tingling with adrenaline since it dropped last week. I promise, you're going to LOVE Melissa White, the super talented voice actor who produced this delightful edition.
2. I've revamped my Patreon a bit and dropped the membership. You can now sign-up for various tiers at $1, $3, $5, and $10. Many of the benefits remain the same, but you'll have more content for less money. What's not to love?
3. My very first newsletter goes out tomorrow! I'll be sending this out early each month and it will be THE first place to hear news about me and all the titles I'll be releasing this year. (Yes, I said "all." You're gonna pass out from all the excitement.) So, sign up NOW so you don't miss a single thing!
I hope to put many new titles on your bookshelves this year, dearest readers. Stay tuned for all the final drafts I can muster! And have a happy, healthy, and wonderful new year!
Hey, readers! I've just created and launched a brand new Patreon! This is totally foreign territory for me but I am super duper excited about it. As I hurl myself towards my life-long dream of becoming a full-time writer, I realize more and more every day how much I rely on the support of my friends, family, fans, and followers. I am so grateful for each and every person who has ever picked up one of my books, even if it was just to read the back. It's incredible to know my work is SEEN, and the feeling never ceases to amaze me. So, thank you all from the bottom of my little writer heart.
From the time I could read words, I wanted to write them. There's power in words. The power to create people, places, stories, visions, whatever you can dream up. When I write, I know that I'm the first people in the world who has ever written these words in this order on these pages. Writing is powerful and magical and... so, so very darn hard.
With your support of my Patreon, you'll help me to keep putting words into that unique order. You'll help me to harness their power and create worlds full of people and places. You'll give me the opportunity and motivation to script witty dialogue and wrestle raw emotions onto the pages of a new novel.
There are four tiers to choose from:
When you inhale books the way I do (and always have), many fade into the background of your consciousness. I have ready MANY a book only once and forgotten many of them in the wake of a lucky few. In general, I don't re-read books... There are only so many hours in a day and days in a life; I need to keep moving forward, devouring new books, pushing through that TBR pile and the local library's extensive fiction collection. If I'm going to read it again, it's gotta be GOOD.
I recently discussed this with a friend, one who often re-reads her favorite books, and did some reflecting on the books I have read multiple times--and why. Why those books? And I realized something important. Not only did I like these books, but they changed me somehow. Some changed how I look at life, at myself, at reading, and at writing. There are books in this world that just find you. They get you, and you get them. It's a magical experience to find one of those literary gems. When I do, I want to live in those pages again and again.
And that's the thought train that led me to this blog post series: The 5 Books That Shaped Me. I use the term 'shaped' in the broad sense, since some have almost 'dropped a pin' in a certain place in my life, helping to shape the road map of who I am and where I've gotten so far in my life.
Without further ado, here's the first book:
Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White
If you know me, then you know the irony of this book's appearance on my list. I am absolutely, irredeemably afraid of spiders. My arachnophobia runs deep, my friends, and there's no amount of therapy that's going to help. Yet, this sweet, poignant book about a spider left an indelible mark on my childhood. How? Why?
In a way, maybe I am Wilbur, the little pig in desperate need of the love and acceptance of a true friend. He is the runt of the litter, rejected by Zuckerberg for being too small and useless. The farmer's daughter Fern falls in love with him and pleads for his life. But once he has been spared from death, even with Fern's love and friendship, he spends his days and nights alone in his pen, where the other animals are uninterested in him. Pigs are smelly and gross, right? And he's the only one of his kind, so he has no companion to snuggle with at night or keep him company when he's scared. Wilbur is the piggie embodiment of rejection, sadness, solitude, and anxiety. Young Stephanie could relate.
Enter Charlotte, the beautiful little spider who inexplicably loves Wilbur. She has the extrovert energy this little quadrupedal introvert needs. She declares them friends, promises to keep him company when he can't sleep at night, and gives him a reason to smile. All she asks in return is a quiet corner of his barn where she can spin her webs to catch her dinner and eat in peace, without the threat of being squished by anyone.
When Wilbur's life comes under threat again, and not even Fern can save him, Charlotte is the one who swings in with a plan. Overnight, she spins beautiful webs that help Wilbur in two ways: 1. getting him attention as some amazing freak-show of a pig who can write in spiderwebs and 2. boosting his confidence with positive, empowering words. Charlotte calls him Some Pig, Radiant, and Humble in her artwork. Although I am not "some pig," the feeling I got when I witnessed the love of one friend to another has stuck with me forever.
Perhaps this is the reason I am so free about expressing love and friendship for others. Perhaps this book is why I have unknowingly dedicated my writing to relationships, character growth, and self-discovery. And perhaps I found some strength in those webs too. It's hard to say exactly how this book affected me, because it's been a part of who I am for about 30 years.
I don't know where my original copy is, but I don't need it anymore. Charlotte and Wilbur live in my heart for free, forever.
Come back next week for Book 2!
Well, hello there, and welcome to the new year. I don't believe in resolutions, which are just really lofty goals we create to drive ourselves insane, but I do believe in fresh starts. With that in mind, I invite you along the journey I'm planning for 2022.
What's on the horizon? New novels, new short stories, new essays, new pen names, new writing goals, and a whole lot more. I'm going all-in on myself this year, because I'm strapping in for one big exciting ride. Look for news in the coming weeks and months. That's all I can say for now, but I'll post again soon!
What are you planning to take on in 2022?