Recently, I stumbled on a social media post talking about how you shouldn’t tear out seeds before they are given a chance to grow. This struck a chord with me. The idea is so simple and the thought of new endeavors as seeds so perfect that I wanted to spend more time with it.
Have you ever taken a moment to look at a truly beautiful garden? Flowers and plants grow together in ways that both surprise and delight. Accent pieces and sculptures glisten among the flowers, drawing the eye and telling their own stories. There’s a magic flowing through the space that invites the viewer to slow down and breathe.
Now I want you to imagine all your hopes, dreams, and goals; all your accomplishments; and all your failures are represented as a garden. What does your garden look like? Are the various flowerbeds of your different interests and passions alive and well? Are there hobbies that are overgrown and taking over more space than they should? Are there personal care areas that have shriveled and grown weeds from lack of attention?
Just as a gorgeous garden requires consistent time, effort, and love from a gardener with both skill and experience, your soul garden requires the same. All areas of your life deserve the attention they need to thrive without overwhelming the others. Take time to prune back unruly pursuits (Diner Dash, I’m looking at you) and devote more time to growing the things that bring you joy.
Personally, my soul garden probably looks more like a zoo right now. There are errant sentient plants wandering around and messing up flowerbeds. One is trying to build a shed using toothpicks and chewing gum. The few nice flowers I’ve managed to curate must be kept under bulletproof glass domes to protect them from the roving hoards of plot bunnies that munch on literally everything. There’s a treehouse in there somewhere. It’s chaos, but it’s my chaos, and there’s beauty in that too.
This whole authoring business has encouraged me to plant new seeds while continuing to care for for the ones that are starting to sprout. These seeds represent skills and connections that need to be built and strengthened. It might be a while before I see real growth, but I know the possibility is out there. I trust that with proper care and attention they will grow into something beautiful. And where skill is lacking, thankfully there’s always Google, YouTube, and fellow indies I can randomly text on random Tuesday nights with my questions.
I raise my glass to those amazing indie authors out there with gorgeous gardens – thank you for sharing the fruit of your experience. It’s not an easy road, but it’s easier because I have you trailblazers to follow and learn from.
There is a weird time vortex that happens around the holidays. Days get sucked into deep black holes and no one knows if it’s a Friday or a Tuesday. The only clock that sticks is how many days, hours, minutes, until the next thing happens.
Which is why I find this story so funny.
As someone who is trying to run her own business from home, schedules and plans are the only way to get things done. Some of these things require intense focus, so I save them for when the house is quiet. Ideally when I’m home alone. These precious silent hours are when the characters talk the clearest and the settings bloom to life.
Needless to say, I was eager for the day the kids went back to school and hubby went back to work. So eager in fact, that on January 3rd I woke my two youngest up at 7:20, fed them, made them get dressed and brush their teeth, got their backpacks and shoes figured out and was about to shovel them into the car and gleefully escort them back to school when I got a phone call.
“Hey hon,” hubby says. “I’m looking at the calendar and it says that K and D are off track,”
“What?” I hurry to the fridge and rummage through the papers important enough to earn a magnet, school schedule included. Sure enough, no school today.
No school for my younger two kiddos until the freaking 22nd of January. Yay for year-round school?
Here I am, literally tasting the sweet nectar of that most elusive of motherly gifts – free time – and I find out they will be hanging out with me for the next. three. weeks.
I might have cried. Or ate the rest of the stocking candy. Can’t quite remember.
Fast forward to today. While there’s none of that wonderful thing called silence. (Any parent will tell you that when it’s silent in the home and the kids are around, that means trouble.) What there is instead is plenty of laughter, fun, and games.
They’re pretty good about letting me escape to my basement dungeon and work, especially when it’s still early and they’re still sleepy haven’t booted up for the day.
As for my writing goals for January, this might be interesting…
At beginning of this week I figured if I averaged 3300 words a day, I could finish my NaNoWriMo project on Wednesday, leaving the rest of the weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving. That averages to around three hours of intensely focused writing a day with no distractions. Lucky for me, two of those days the kiddos were in school and the third they slept in a few hours.
I’m proud to day that with lots of grit and determination (and an unhealthy amount of leftover Halloween candy) I slammed dunked my way to the finish before lunch on Wednesday. There’s nothing quite like typing the words “The End.”
Wow. While I’ve done the challenge for several years now, this is the first time I’ve finished an entire draft of a project with the intention of publishing it later this year. Just thinking about it is both exhilarating and terrifying. What if the story I came up with is actually really stupid and I haven’t realized it yet? What happens then? Was this entire month of work a waste? I guess I’ll find out soon enough when I read it in a few weeks.
Writing Isben’s story was challenging. I was confined to use and stay faithful to the already existing confines of the Stonebearer universe, including what point he needed to reach at the end of the story. While part of this meant a lot of thoughtful review of how that might limit the possibilities, it also meant I had some guidelines to follow – a perk I’d not had before.
The story starts on the day Isben discovers that he possesses the power of the Khandashii and follows his struggle for survival each day after until he reaches the tower of Amul Dun and safety. One of the characters he meets along the way is now my new favorite character, after Bremin of course. The more he showed himself to me, the more I liked him. Sven the bard has some delightful surprises up his sleeves and in his amazing wagon.
Should everything go to plan, Isben’s story will be coming to Amazon March 2020.
For the next two weeks, I will be taking a small break from the intensity of NaNo and will spend my time reading a few amazing books to recharge my batteries, possibly writing a short story or two, and catching up on the dozens of things that I allowed to slip through the cracks as well as what needs to be done to prepare for the re-release of Stonebearer’s Betrayal in early January.
Stay tuned, there are a lot of awesome things in the works!
For nearly a year, Fridays here on the blog have been dedicated to guest interviews and features. It was gratifying work and a great chance to learn more about the amazing people I’ve had the privilege to meet.
The idea was a great one at first and ultimately spread good karma all around. I got to help other creatives reach more people. Sometimes they did nice things for me in return. However, it was work. I spent hours and hours searching, inviting, interviewing, collecting images, creating graphics, and gathering links and info to make each of these interviews shine.
As a writer mom who works from home, there are always dozens of projects underway at any given time. This makes for a pretty chaotic mind space and a chaotic mind is not an efficient one even on good days. It’s crazy making on bad ones.
Between working to finish books, keeping active on social media, writing blog posts, managing my local writing group, and also maintaining my household and being a stay-at-home mom, something had to give.
After careful analysis of what efforts brought the most benefit and what were fun, but not super helpful, I’ve decided to drop the weekly Friday guest feature. In it’s place, I’ll be sharing something meaningful or interesting. It might be funny or serious, it might be academic or a rant – but it will be something I hope will connect with you, dear reader.
I will still be posting a few interviews here and there as I find them, probably about once a month.
We’ve reached the end of the power word series and I saved the best for last. Today’s word is FEARLESS.
While many choose to define fearless as ‘being without fear,’ I define it differently. Being fearless means to acknowledge your fears and then go out and do the thing that’s perhaps a little scary. For me, it’s anything that might result in confrontation. Public speaking is one of those things. It’s scary and this year I’ve done it far more than I’ve ever done it before.
I’m an introvert by nature. Most assume the outgoing, somewhat loud side of me they see in public means that I’m super extroverted – it’s not true. The extroverted persona I wear at conferences is me grabbing the idea of being fearless and doing what needs to be done to best represent myself as an author. At conferences that means being brave and talking to strangers and presenting ideas in classes and panels.
If you’d asked me about this years ago, the idea of attending conferences with the intent to meet as many amazing people as possible and making myself seen, would have reduced me to a pile of anxiety ridden mush. It’s taken time, experience, and lots of watching my wonderful fellow author friends show how they handle being at a conference table, or behave on a panel, or teach a class.
The key to being fearless is developing confidence. Confidence comes from deep within and must be grown over time. It’s a personal understanding that you are a person of worth and have lots to share with the world. It’s also understanding that everyone around you deserves to be treated like they are also an interesting person and letting them shine.
Check it out! I’m doing something super brave and attending FanX officially as an author for the very first time this September. If you’re headed to FanX, I’d love to see you! Search the FanX site for my profile (or just click here) to see the most up-to-date listing of the panels I will be sitting on. You can also find me hanging around the Printed Garden vendor table.
As we plunge into the full throes of Summer, this power word holds much more significance than during other parts of the year. Serenity doesn’t mean to be surrounded by peace and a zen-like atmosphere, although I would really like that right now. Serenity means to find that peace within regardless of what’s going on around you.
Which is why I’ve chosen it as the power word for July, when school is out.
Like many people, I find great comfort in predictability. So much in life is unpredictable – the weather, the news, the rampant mouse issue in my backyard – that finding parts of my day that can stay the same, brings with it small amounts of peace. Having a schedule and routines take the guess work and stress out of the mundane things needing to be done.
Don’t get me wrong. I seek out joy in the unpredictable. I smile in the rain. I laugh at butterflies and bumblebees. These things are pleasantly unpredictable.
It’s the things I can’t predict, but must manage regardless, that cause amazing amounts of stress. While I hate to say it, that’s the definition of having multiple kids at home and trying to get work done. At any moment, a fight will break out, something will break, someone will need help, something will be lost, and I’m the one who has to fix it.
There’s a word for it – hypervigilance. It means even when you are relaxing or doing something you enjoy, you’ve got a huge part of your brain constantly monitoring for any unrest among the natives. And it’s exhausting.
Back to serenity. Deep breaths. I totally didn’t just have to leave in the middle of writing this post to deal with an argument about computer turns.
Having serenity as a power word means every time I see the word stuck to the bottom of my monitor, I take a few seconds to breathe and remind myself to find peace in the now. Every moment there isn’t a crises to be dealt with, is a mini zen moment. The more this practice is performed, the more the mind will auto regulate to seek out and acknowledge these moments of calm.
What helps you find your serenity?
Do you like routine or do you prefer to let your heart guide you?
Don’t forget! Stonebearer’s Betrayal is eligible to win a Dragon Award. The deadline for nominations is July 19th. If you’d like to help me reach my goal, head over to the nomination page, and vote for Stonebearer’s Betrayal in the Young Adult/Middle Grade Category. Anyone can do it!
It’s always a joy to bring a fellow fantasy author here to discuss what sparks their creativity and learn about their journey. Today, Bree Moore joins us to talk about her journey and give us a peek into her life as a writer.
On to the interview!
Hi Bree, thanks for joining me here today! To get things started, I’d love to get to know you better. Tell me, what was the moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer?
I was a voracious reader from a really young age. My addiction to books and the stories inside led me to want to write. In 4th grade we received a school assignment to write a story, and my teacher gave us an actual hardbound book with blank pages to write the story inside before turning it in. The whole process enchanted me. I wrote a really terrible story, but I’m really proud of the effort I put into it. I still have that book, actually. Soon after I wrote, by hand, another story that was 60 pages long. We got our first home computer around that time, and I started another story. It just felt natural to write. I really enjoyed it and the feeling of accomplishment I had every time I finished a story. I knew then I wanted to be a writer.
If you were to magically gain a creative super power, what would it be, and why?
Probably the ability to perfectly translate the images in my head to paper. It’s so frustrating when a scene plays out perfectly until I try to write it down!
In the course of writing your books, what has been your greatest challenge to overcome?
Finding time and energy to make it all happen. I homeschool my five kids. They’re all under the age of seven right now, my youngest is five months old. I’ve published three books and two short stories in the past two and a half years, all while in the thick of motherhood. It’s tough to find the motivation when you’re exhausted and stretched to your limit. I currently wake up at about 5am every day to get my writing in. Difficult, but worth it. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without making the sacrifice to keep doing what I love. Writing, and accomplishing my publishing goals, keeps me sane. It gives me opportunities to meet people and do more. So, even though it’s my greatest challenge, it’s so worth it.
Your stories have characters who have to be brave and make hard choices. What is your favorite inspiring moment in your most recent release?
In my novella in the “Beyond Instinct” anthology, women gain their magical abilities when they give birth for the first time. I love the part where my character, having just had her baby, decides to confront the antagonist. She has her baby strapped to her chest, and she’s so beautifully furious at what’s been done to her people. I love the power of that moment.
I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?
I’m still working on having a designated writing space, but something that will be in it when I have one is this picture that a friend once drew for me. It’s a beautiful ink drawing of all these fantastic worlds, and the message he wrote on it is about the value of stories. I’ve had it for about eleven years, it inspires me every time I see it.
What’s next? What are you working on?
I’m currently writing a paranormal fantasy trilogy about a world where paranormals are illegal citizens until they go through “Naturalization” and conform to certain standards of humanity. My main character is a raven-shifter. The first book, Raven Born, comes out in November.
About today’s featured guest –
Bree Moore lives in Utah, is wife to an amazing husband, and is a mother of five children. She writes fantasy novels between homeschooling and folding laundry. In real-life, Bree works as a birth doula, attending women in pregnancy and labor, which is huge inspiration for her writing. Bree loves shopping for groceries like other women like shopping for shoes (no, seriously), movies that make her cry, and Celtic music. She likes both her chocolate and her novels dark.
For thirty years, Elaina has sat in her tower, fingers caught in an eternal dance, cursed to weave the tapestry of life on her loom. Bound by an enchanted mirror whose magic shows her the distant lives of the people of Camelot, she must forever watch a land which remains beyond her reach. Elaina despairs that she will ever experience more than just the shadows of life, until one day a face appears in the mirror that will change her life, and possibly her fate, forever.
Guinevere is losing her mind. When a severe injury to her head nearly kills her and awakens alternate personalities suppressed from her past, Guinevere learns that one of them is plotting with a knight of the round table to murder King Arthur and take control of Camelot. In the midst of war, Guinevere fights to save both her own life and the man she loves, each day coming closer to succumbing to the violent personalities within her.
Fans of “Once Upon a Time” and the legends of King Arthur won’t be able to let Woven slip through their fingers.
Back in December I wrote, in super dramatic terms, about bringing my first book into the world and how it was way more like being a first-time mom than I ever expected. Looking back, I agree with every word.
It’s been almost six months since the release of Stonebearer’s Betrayal and the roller coaster of emotion is now more like a carousel. There are still ups and downs, but they don’t make me scream and I only get motion sick if I close my eyes for too long. Each turn is predictable with each next step already planned. Each tiny up has its own tiny down.
It’s all very manageable and to be honest – a little boring. It’s work. Plain and simple. I create goals to complete. Some are big, like finishing 2000 minutes of editing each month to finish Stonebearer’s #2. Some are tiny, like making sure my email stays under control. Some can be tedious, like ensuring my social media presence stays solid. (By the way, my Instagram is fabulous.) Some are fun, like attending conferences and signings.
I find myself hoarding time like a miser. Each minute I can work in peace while the kids are at school is measured and optimized. The hours of the day are sliced and diced into focused chunks, 45 minutes here to write today’s blog post, 10 minutes there to fold the laundry, 15 minutes here to answer an email, another hour there to edit another scene.
Right in the beginning, when the world of possibilities was wide open, I lost focus on my big goal, to earn my success by creating great novels, and instead spent way too much time chasing micro opportunities down rabbit holes. Whole days were eaten in the search for podcasts and book review sites willing to even look at me. I didn’t write or edit a word of fiction for months.
I turned into a crazy person. I collected every bit of data and studied each analytic hoping to see an upturn that said I’d won the author lottery and the mainstream market had noticed my little book. After months of working and watching, I realized the only way to continue growing my fan base would be to keep writing more books for people to enjoy.
So here I am. Working. Hard. Everyday.
I don’t regret my weeks and months spent being a little crazy and obsessive – it comes with the whole becoming an author package and needs to be experienced to be understood.
I’m all better now. Here, have a smiling potato.
Interested in checking out my book baby? It’s a great read for fans of Wheel of Time, appropriate for ages 12 and up (although my 11-year-old loved it too!) Here’s a handy link to Amazon to learn more.
Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Artists and creatives, including writers, come in all different varieties. Some are organized. Some work fast. Some like to follow their muse all over the place. Some have unique rituals they follow. What we all have in common is a passion for creating our own unique form of art.
Holli Anderson, friend and Chief Editor at Immortal Works Press, is here to talk about what it’s like to be an author with a chaotic creative mindset, and to give us a tour of her creative space.
Inside the Head of a Writer
By Holli Anderson
Hi! I’m so happy to be a guest here on Jodi’s blog! I’ll
start with a short introduction. My name is Holli Anderson, I write YA and MG
under this name that happens to be my real name. I write Adult Romantic
Suspense under the name H.L. Anderson – which is my real name using initials…
Besides being an author, I’m also a mom to four grown boys,
a grandma to a girl (who is nine and a half and can’t wait until she turns
eleven and receives her Hogwarts letter – because I am that awesome of a grandma) and a boy (age five, and whose sister
and I are indoctrinating into an HP lover as well), a wife to one man-boy, a
registered nurse, and Chief Editor of a small publishing company. The reason I
tell you all this is; it might help explain why my mind is in such continual
Now, back to my head. My brain is always running a million
miles an hour in a gazillion different directions. It can sometimes be
difficult to grab an idea out of this pandemonium—that’s why I know, when I
latch onto an idea that shines brighter than the rest, it must be a GREAT idea.
That’s when the plethora of notebooks I keep hanging around come in handy,
they’re where I write these GREAT ideas down (moment of truth here: they aren’t
always GREAT ideas, sometimes they turn out to be GROAN-WORTHY ideas when I go
back and look at them later).
There have been times when I’ve been somewhere I can’t write
an idea down – like driving, or in the shower – during these times of immense
duress I have to resort to repeating the idea over and over in my mind until I
can get to where I can safely (and dryly) write it down. The book I’m working
on right now was one such GREAT idea. My husband knows this is what’s happening
when I burst through the door after work and show him the palm of my hand as I
frantically dig through my backpack to grab a notebook and pencil (yes
pencil—all GREAT ideas must be written in pencil).
(FYI—as I was writing the above paragraph a FOX ran down the
sidewalk across the street and partially into a neighbor’s yard before taking
off the way it had come. I had to run
outside to tell my husband and son, who are changing brakes on a car—and they didn’t believe me!)
This is getting a little longer than I had planned, but I
need to explain one more thing about this author’s head. EVERYTHING around me,
every trip to the store, every date with my husband, every walk around the
neighborhood—everything—can be turned into something to do with Harry Potter,
Supernatural, LOTR, or The Avengers. EVERTYTHING. Drives my husband crazy. How many
times he’s said to me, “You know that isn’t real, right?”
That’s when I mumble “Muggle” under my breath and continue
The pictures scattered throughout this blog are pictures of
my office/library. I think they help explain my head to you. This is the room
that calms me. Makes me smile. Helps me write. It’s my favorite room in the