Posted in Uncategorized, Sweet Gum Valley Series, Blog, Books, Self-Publishing

What Will It Be?

I come seeking advice!

To curse or not to curse? Where to curse, when to curse, why to curse? What to do?

So here’s the deal. — I write novels. One of my big things is authenticity. Is it relatable? Is it raw? Is it real?

I feel like in certain situations, cursing is all of those things. There are other people who do not, however.

My novel isn’t slap full of them and they aren’t on every page. But, they are there, sprinkled about. — They are there when someone is angry. They are there when someone is passionate about something. They are there when the guys are hanging out, drinking beer, and shooting pool. — While they are not everywhere, they do crop up when it is authentic for them to be there.

So this battle is always raging, like, what do I do?

To be clear, they don’t bother me. My big thing is that I know they bother other people. Readers. Not all readers, just some.

But readers matters. To be a writer, to publish novels… you need readers. I’m also aware that every one is different. Every reader is different. And not every book is for everybody. That’s okay. It’s more than okay. That’s how this works.

I think the big question is… how true do I stay to the story and the characters, and the authenticity of the situations they are in? And how much do I altar for readers? Because some readers aren’t going to bat an eye. Some are going to take one look at the first curse word and never pick up another of my books again.

And if you want some real honesty. I’m not so sure I’d think twice about it except I have family and friends that are going to be sorely disappointed at the first curse word.

I kind of feel torn in two about it. To stay true to the characters and, to me, I will have to disappoint a certain group of readers. Some that I call family. Some that I call friend. — So I think that’s where this stems from the most.

At this point… what is already there is not being taken out. I’ve already battled through this some when I was writing it. — Now I’m editing it and near the beginning and just slipped one in after someone nearly ran their car off the side of a mountain. — Seemed appropriate given the circumstance. — But then I worried one so close to the beginning would put people off at the very beginning. — And then I wondered should I worry about that, given they will come upon them eventually? — Or how many people would see it that early on and assume they are everywhere and quit before they get very far?

So maybe a large part of this is me not knowing how to handle people I know, having problems with my work. And that’s where the majority of it stems from, I think.

I can’t please everyone, and I know that. Not everyone will like it, and I know that.

It just brings up the question, how much do you change to appease one certain group of readers… or do you not, and focus on the readers that will enjoy it as is?

I don’t intend to market this as a “clean romance.” Mostly because I don’t believe it is. While there are no graphic sex scenes, they do talk it about it, and there is some alluding to it. There are also curse words around and about, as well as alcohol consumption. So readers looking for clean romance aren’t exactly my target audience, so maybe that should be my answer? — Maybe I answered my own question. — Focus on my target audience and don’t worry about anything else?

What do y’all think? Lemme know. πŸ™‚

Posted in Blog, Life, Randomness, Uncategorized

I’m Here & I Have Reese’s…

I’m here.

I spent 8 hours of my day in the car. On the interstate. It’s 9:30 pm. I’m tired. I kind of want to sleep. I kind of want to binge on Hulu. I kind of want a snack. — And I will get to all those things… though not necessarily in that order. But first… I will blog. — I made a commitment. — Daily blogging. And here I am.

My sentences are short and sweet. I’m too tired to string anything else together. Amazing what sitting in a car for hours can do to a person. How do people drive for a living? I would lose my sanity. All of it. Every last bit.

So we got in the car this morning. Drove 4 hours, hit up a baby shower, and then drove 4 hours back home. Also got to buy onesies with cats on them yesterday. Who doesn’t love a cat onesie? — That’s like the most adorable thing ever. Uncle Jeremy & Aunt Heather for the win! πŸ˜‰

Alright, I really don’t know what else to say. My day was fairly boring. I spent the majority of it in the car. I did do a little bit of writing in the car. Lot of talking. Little bit of eating.

Ooooh! Speaking of eating in the car. I just remembered. I bought road trip Reese cups last night and brought them with us today, but totally forgot about them on the trip. — Which just means there is chocolate in my car and I’m about to go get it and get my snack on! Totally winning at life right now. — Except that part where I forgot they were in the car with us all day and so never opened them. — Ignore that part. — Still winning!

Alright guys. It’s not much of a post, I know. But it is a post. Which is what I promised you. Daily blogging. No matter what. So here it is. — Edge of your seat stuff, I know. You’re welcome. πŸ˜‰

Heather!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blog, Self-Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

S&S — Scatterbrained & Self-Publishing

Scatterbrained: — adjective. — (Of a person) disorganized and lacking in concentration. — Absentminded, forgetful, disorganized, unsystematic.Β 

This is me! Wanna know why?

Self-publishing. πŸ˜‰

Seriously though. When I first set out to write books, always sorta just assumed I would be answering to other people. Whether that be agents and editors, publishers and the like. I just assumed someone else would be calling the shots.

Guess who is calling the shots? Yep. That’d be me…. over here managing myself. — *points finger at self* — πŸ˜‰

There is so much to do. I sit down to do one thing and my brain is like, but you need to do this, this, that, this, and the other. And I’m like… Ahhhhhhh!

What I really need to do, for the moment, is focus on one piece of the puzzle without letting my mind wander about all the other pieces. Then work on one of the other pieces… all my focus on it, for the time I’ve carved out for it. And so on & so forth with the rest of the pieces.

While all that is incredibly overwhelming… I am super excited! A little terrified, a lot of scatterbrained, but super excited.

I know sometimes Indie authors are treated as second-rate. They’re judged through a different lens. A lot of people assume your work is no good if you self-publish. Which I believe is a common misconception. I’ve read a many a good self-published works, as well as not so good. I’ve also read a many of not so good traditionally published books, as I have good ones.

And I had a decision to make. Which road did I want to take? I’m a regular ol’ Robert Frost over here. I remember that poem. Had to memorize it in the 6th grade and recite it for the class. Couldn’t recite it now, but I remember its meaning clear as a bell.

I did research. — still doing research. I weighed pros and cons. I read what other authors had to say. I looked into what was required of me either way.

And do you know what? I chose a tough path for an introvert like myself. I chose to manage myself, to market myself, to push myself.

I’m someone who has always preferred to blend into the background. I’m quiet, I don’t say much — Okay, clearly a blogger can’t claim such a thing, but I just did it anyway. πŸ˜‰ — I keep to myself and tend to lurk more than converse.

But I chose a path where I have to put myself out there… and with that comes growth. Which is what’s so beautiful about it. There is a learning curve for everything and I am still finding my footing, and I will make mistakes along the way.

But I’m excited! And I’m exploring this brand new world that has become my life, and while it seems daunting some days… what’s up ahead of me is an adventure that will undoubtedly change my life in so many ways. — So, scatterbrainedΒ or not, I’m super excited guys! πŸ˜€

Heather!

Posted in Blog, Life, Randomness

This Is My Life… World Series Edition

Y’all.. I don’t watch baseball. It’s boring.

But it was on mute in the background while I was working out & I was like they throw the ball… nobody hits the ball. They throw the ball… nobody hits the ball. They finally hit the ball… somebody catches the ball. So we start all over again… & again.. & again.

Then they did a monkey in the middle thing that didn’t make much sense to me & seemed kinda mean tbh. — Then I turned the sound on & picked a team… cause… why not? & then they looked like they were about to lose & at the home plate last second they took out the little guy running there… And all was not lost. I was yelling at the tv.. Like yeah.. we’re still in this thing.

We’re still in this thing?! WHAT?

Y’all I don’t even like baseball. I don’t know what’s happening right now. — But it’s still 1 to 1 & we’re heading into the 11th inning & I’m still watching. — Sooooo…. go Dodgers?!?βœŒπŸ˜‚

Posted in Blog, Book Updates, Life, Personal Growth, Randomness, Uncategorized, Writing

It’s Happening!

Another day down in the books. (Insert thumbs up here.)

Wrote 3000 words & finished a scene I’ve been working on for like 3 days now.

It’s flowing, it’s smooth, it’s good. (Ignore that I’m biased because, I, of course, think my own work is brilliant. πŸ˜€ )

I even sent a little snippet to my best friend/sister-in-law & I was like, “I don’t think I’m half bad at this.” And she was like… “Yeah, you have a knack for it.” — Yes, we talk like this… kindly, don’t judge us. πŸ˜‰ ) — Then she told me to hurry up so she can read it in its entirety and not just the little teasers I keep sending her. πŸ˜‰ — I mean… the snippets & the teasers are good… it’s all good, amiright? πŸ˜€ — If you don’t think I’m right… please don’t burst my bubble. Everybody has the right to bubbles!

Anyhow… progress is being made… we’re moving along.

Y’all… it’s happening.

There have been moments along this journey where I very much thought it would never happen. — It’s happening. Right now.

I’d kick myself for all the time I wasted… but I genuinely believe that I wasn’t ready until now. I couldn’t have done this before…. because I wasn’t in a place where I could do it.

I’m in that place now & it’s happening.

I know that there were a whole host of people who didn’t & maybe even don’t now, believe me or in me. That used to bother me so bad. I mean turn my world upside down bad… because I already didn’t believe in myself.

Y’all know what is beautiful? I believe in me now. — I have a confidence that I didn’t have before… That God has given to me… that has changed everything.

Nobody can undo what He has done. No amount of disbelief in me… can shake my belief in myself. You can’t shake my foundation… because God built it… it’s quake proof. πŸ˜€

But I’m sure there will be people who read this & think… Yeah. Right. Okay. Here we go again.

And y’all wanna know something…. That’s alright. I don’t do any of this for any of them. I do it for God first and me second. — But once upon a time…. I would have felt that to my core. I needed people to believe in me… in an effort to convince myself to believe in me, and when they didn’t… it just reinforced my disbelief in myself. (What a hot mess that was!) — & now…

If you aren’t #1 or #2… that’s God & me… & you do have an opinion that is one of doubt… that’s okay… you can have it, it’s yours to have… but it’s irrelevant. — You can’t tear down what God has built… and He has built me up.

Y’all…. It’s happening. — & I’m excited! πŸ˜€

 

 

Posted in Blog, Reading, Writing

Feel Free To Read This In Your Spare Time… :)

PSA: The grammar here is atrocious. I’m going to strongly suggest… πŸ˜€ … that you kindly disregard it. Ya see here… I was writing for hours on my book before this & that requires being grammar conscious.. and it’s a royal pain. I’m all grammar’d out and I don’t have it in me. — I will start sentences with and, put commas and periods where they do not belong and……. all sorts of other nonsense that is frowned upon. — Please, ignore my sloppiness. You guys are the best. πŸ˜€

 

I learn a lot from other authors. I learn from reading… which I truly believe is one of the best ways to learn about writing.

The other day I tried a new author. And it was this author’s first book.

As someone writing a first… it pains me to read first books by new authors and pick it apart. Because I know… I knooowwww… the work, the time, the sweat, and tears… all of it. I live it. It’s heart wrenching to know people are going to pick your work apart and find flaws in something you’ve created and come to love very much. — But that’s the name of this game. People will read your work as an author and they will judge it. Good or bad… one way or the other… they’ll feel some sort of way about it and that’s their right. —

But as a writer… it makes it much more difficult for me. I feel bad judging someone else’s work when I didn’t like something. I want to like it all. But that’s just not the case. That’s not how it works and at the end of the day… I can also learn a lot from books that I didn’t like or that I found flaws in. — Sure… I know people will find flaws and issues in my work… and that makes me feel like a hypocrite… hence the reason I probably feel so bad when I don’t like something. —- Which is what happened with this book.

I tried it because it was suggested and I knew it was a first time author and I wanted to see what that read like… because typically I’m reading books by authors that have published a multitude of books… and that’s always going to be a different kind of read.

So throughout what I read of it… the author kept telling me that the main character was sarcastic and was a bit of a smart mouth. There were several times where that was expressed and eventually I went.. You keep telling me, but it’s not in the dialogue and it’s not in her thoughts and it’s not in her actions. It’s not here anywhere. — She wanted me to know her character was sarcastic but if she had never told me that… I would have never known.

And I immediately thought…. don’t do that. Make sure that if I tell readers something about my character and it’s a huge part of their personality…. that they’ll see it throughout the book. They’ll see it in the dialogue, actions, and inner thoughts. If my character has sarcastic tendencies… let there be no room for doubt. If one character doesn’t get along with another…. make sure the reader can see the tension and that it doesn’t come across like they’re best buds. Things like that. Making sure everything matches up and balances out… Everything has to carry over just right all the way through… it can be a fine line! Lemme tell ya! —

Now I didn’t like the book. To be fair… I don’t think I was the right target for it. I really don’t. But at the same time… it really did help me to pay attention to things I don’t want to do with my own work. — One of the other things was that it moved very fast and didn’t really go in hard. I didn’t feel like I got enough information or got to know anything about anything before we had moved on to another scene. — and I immediately said, don’t do that. Don’t linger too long… but also.. let my readers get to know my characters and what’s happening and get a feel for each and every scene. Even short ones. Create depth… I want people to turn the page having known exactly what I did about what was happening. Clear & concise… not just sort of brushing over it where you feel like you kinda missed something, but you aren’t sure what. —

& y’all I feel like a jerk for saying that about some one else’s hard work. I really do. & I know she was trying to move the story along to get to the good stuff… but I believe that all of the smaller parts in between the big ones matter just as much as the big ones. If you gloss over them quickly and with very little depth you miss out on so many opportunities for character and story building. You also run the risk of leaving readers like me… feeling like they’ve missed something.

There’s so much to learn from the work of other author’s… even when it’s mistakes or problems. And as much as I hate to find issues with a new authors work… because I know the tides shall turn someday… y’all.. ya girl ain’t no fool. πŸ˜‰ — When there are issues… those are things I can learn from. So I do.

I feel like a jerk when I’m doing it though… so there’s that. πŸ˜‰

Posted in Blog, Book Updates, Writing

Wash, Rinse, Repeat… ?!

Ever have one of those writing days where you don’t really wanna but you know you should, so you do? But then it’s like you have to push & shove & pull & fight to get 2 sentences on the page… and those 2 sentences sound like utter crap.

So then you begin a cycle of writing a couple of sentences, reading it, shaking your head, back spacing.

Writing a couple of sentences, reading it, shaking your head, back spacing.

over & over & over again.

Yep! One of those days.

But I will say that I did manage to get a page or two written despite all that & while it may be a total mess when I have to edit back through later… that’s okay. Something was written & that’s always better than nothing. Gives me something to edit in the future if nothing else.

Or who knows? May edit back through & find it to be an outstanding couple of pages. Future Heather may be like this is literary gold. πŸ˜€

So here I am blogging about my writing woes. But really if that’s all I have to complain about I must say I’m doing pretty good. πŸ™‚

Talk to you all later.
With Love,
Heather. πŸ˜€

Posted in Blog, Book Updates, Life, Personal Growth, Writing

This Is THE Game Changer…

So it’s been a minute since I’ve said anything more about the project I am working on. The last time I mentioned it, I believe I said something along the lines of, “Oh, I’m going to figure out some sort of schedule and devote to it the time & determination it is due… or something or other like that. (Definitely sounds like me. πŸ˜€ )

Anyhow, that was in July. (I’m pretty sure it was July, at least.)

I did not immediately do that. BUT!! I have some good news to report. You ready???

I did pick it back up in September. AND… here’s the important part.

There is no schedule. No rhyme or reason. BUT! I write EVERY DAY.

Imma be honest… some days.. it’s just a few hundred words. Other days though… it’s a few thousand words. — & I have made a ridiculous amount of progress over the last few weeks.

I find that sticking with it & the writing itself is now much more effortless. — But that’s not all…..

Ya ever wonder if you’re on the right path? If you’re going in the right direction? — Just a little bit of doubt… can really derail you when it comes to going all in on something. So I want to tell you a little story. — Stick with me… It has an astounding ending.. I promise!

When I started this blog.. I said I was writing a book. At the time, that was roughly 4 or so years ago. Also at the time… it was an entirely different one than I’m currently working on. — A lot has changed. I have changed a lot. — Lots of change, Y’all.

I couldn’t figure out where I fit as a writer back then. As a christian I thought I had to write christian fiction if I was going to write fiction.

I was also ashamed. — I’m gonnaΒ be real with you. — The literary world looks down on a romance novel. That’s not great literature. It’s second-rate. It’s blah blah blah. — Okay, there are all sorts of opinions like that out there. I was letting those opinions.. affect me in a way that was causing me to try to change the romance aspect or be ashamed if I wrote it.

To both of those things… at several different points along the way… I said, screw it.

I am not meant to write christian fiction and I have embarked upon a romance series … and every one else’s opinion is completely irrelevant. If anyone has a problem with any of it, anywhere, no matter who they are… then my work, what I write… is not meant for them.

Here’s the other thing. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

4 years ago… when I was working on the other book that I have since abandoned (Years ago) ….

I was in the living room floor and I was stumped. I couldn’t figure out what to do with it or where to go with it. I had papers scattered everywhere. My lap top open. I was trying and nothing was working.

I asked God, I said, What do I do? Where do I go with this? Tell me what to do. & I motioned all around me at the papers and work spread about, where do I go with this? …. and God said…

Charlie is important.

& I said, say what now? Charlie? See there was a character named Charlie. & he was not a huge part of the book I was writing. He was in it. But a minor character. & I said, I don’t understand. — & God said again….

Charlie is important.

Y’all I tried so hard to fit him into that book and figure out what in the world God was talking about. Cause, look, that’s all He gave me.

It didn’t work. I did end up tossing the book to the side. & I reasoned that I had not heard correctly and must have thought that up myself. That was 4 years ago.

A couple of months ago I was working out and something had recently happened that had brought some of my past screeching back to the forefront. and my mind was on that. — Well in the middle of working out… God revealed to me with such clarity…

Charley’s story is your story.

And I stopped and I was like that’s it! (Mind you, the Charlie of my old creation was a guy and I had long forgotten all about him. This Charley, is a woman, and completely different character.) I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out her back story for months. I knew her quirks, and her personality and character. and I had always said she was the character most like me of all the ones I have created. But I hadn’t put all of the pieces together yet.

I was excited that I finally had the answers for her and I started working out again… and God said…

I told you Charley was important.

Y’all!!! Now see here, I had long forgotten about that. It was years ago and I had concluded that it was never God to begin with.

I stood there for several seconds just in awe. God knew.. He knew 4 years ago when I had it all wrong and I was going down the wrong path and it wasn’t working out, that years in the future, I would get on the right path and He would get to show up and say, I told you then.. so I could give you the revelation now.

And y’all.. I’m telling you.. it was such a powerful moment.

He gave me one little piece of a puzzle, that made zero sense at the time, because He was planning to give me the rest of the pieces years down the road when I needed them. — See.. Charley’s story was always going to be important because it was always meant to be the closest thing to my story. I didn’t know that then… But He did. — He knew I’d create a whole new world, with all new characters & that I would eventually name one Charley at the last minute because the original name I had for her just didn’t seem to fit somehow. He knew it all.

If there was ever any doubt, and okay let’s be real… there was heaps of it!!

It disappeared that day.

I know I’m on the right path. I’m going in the right direction. Charley’s story isn’t the one I am currently writing. Hers will come a little later on. But God revealed to me in that moment that I was going in the right direction. & all the doubt fled. I now know with certainty these characters and their stories are the ones I am meant to tell.Β  — So between knowing that and making the effort to write each & every day…. (& let’s be real… God guiding & blessing all that I do.. ) — I’m in a place with my writing that I’ve never been before.

& y’all!! It feels fantastic! πŸ™‚

Love to all!
Heather! πŸ˜€

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blog, Life, Personal Growth, Randomness, Struggles

A Purpose Lies Ahead…

I wanna say a little something real quick.

While working out earlier it hit me that some times in life we get in places where we can’t see past where we are currently at. Especially when those places are painful. When we don’t know which way is up or down & we can’t seem to claw our way out of the darkness we find ourselves in. It can get hard & tunnel vision becomes a real thing.

I’ve been there. As I’m sure most people have been. — Once upon a time I couldn’t see how or why in the world I was ever going to make it. It’s now years later… & I can see it.

I used to think there was no hope. I used to think that I was so incredibly broken that I would forever be in pieces. I couldn’t understand why in the world God would have me here, on this Earth, so shredded & torn apart. & I used to ask Him, why? Not why am I in pain or why is this misery in my life… but why am I here at all when this place is breaking me & I could be with You instead? Because I knew back then.. Ya know, this is a fallen world & full of sin & it’s bound to be a hard place to be sometimes. So that’s not the question I had for Him when asking why… it was why am I here, rather than why does it hurt so much.

In those moments, when I was lost in my own misery, He would always show up. Never giving up, never quitting on me. He would show up with an I love you, it’s going to be alright, I’m with you, you’re not alone. But I would still struggle with the why.

Because I could never see past the pain. I couldn’t see down the road, to the future. I couldn’t see what was on the other side. Or even a light at the end of the tunnel. It appeared to be darkness ahead.

All I saw was my shattered soul & broken spirit. A girl getting swallowed up by the world.

All those years ago I asked why. I begged & I pleaded. Why? But there was so much pain & turmoil I couldn’t see through it.

God has a plan for my life. It made zero since to me back then. I couldn’t fathom how that girl, who she was all those years ago… how she would possibly fit into any plans He had. So it didn’t make sense & I couldn’t see it.

But I can see it now. Because that girl… she fought, clawed, & climbed her way out of the darkness. (Slowly & not of her own strength, mind you.) — & when she came out on the other side… she was no longer the same person. She could see.

Every day I still fight the good fight, trying to keep my head up above the water. I keep moving forward, little by little. Good days & bad days, doesn’t matter, I keep fighting. Because I know why now. & because I know why… the will to fight doesn’t come from just trying to survive anymore… it comes from knowing that God has a plan & a purpose for me & my life & I have to keep moving forward to execute it.

So to anyone out there who reads this… God has a purpose for you. Whether you can see it or not… it’s true. So if you ever find yourself where I once was, feeling like you’re lost & you can’t figure out why in the world you’re here. That’s why. — & it’s a beautiful reason to be here. πŸ™‚