Monday, July 30, 2012

Done and done

Remember that half-marathon I was super nervous for last Friday? It's over. Yay!

 Me and Lauren carb loading at The OG on Friday night

I couldn't sleep Friday night. And then my alarm went off at 3:35 and it was time to get up and get ready and go. Every time I go for a long run, or have to roll out of bed in the middle of the night for a race, I think... "Why am I doing this? I'm never doing this again."

And then you get to the parking lot with thousands of other crazy people like yourself, and you start to get excited. By the time you're lined up at the starting line, the adrenaline is pumping and I remember why I'm doing this again.

 After the race -- we did it!
 I was so excited to have my family cheering for me as I sprinted to the finish line! (My mom and other sister were there, too, but we didn't get a pic with them.)

And guess what?? I finished in under 2 hours! I have never been a runner, except for short distance sprints until this last year. I used to try and run with my mom when I was a teenager and in my early twenties, and I would be fine for about a mile... and then I'd start to taste blood in my throat and my side would kill and my knees would kill (I do have bad knees), and I'd pretty much limp the rest of the way home. It was pathetic.

But then my mom and my sister ran a half marathon together and I thought, I want to do that! If they can do it, I can do it!

I ran my first race (a 10k) the month I got pregnant with Baby Girl, less than 2 years ago. The last couple of miles were so hard, but I made myself finish. The minute I crossed that finish line, the pain was gone, the exhaustion was gone, I was completely exhilarated. That sense of accomplishment was incredible--it was such a high. And I got hooked. But I also got pregnant. And had all sorts of complications and eventually got put on bedrest. So the running had to be put on hold. After I had her, I knew exercise was a great treatment for my PPD, and I kept thinking about that high from finishing my 10k. Feeling brave (and also wanting motivation) I decided to sign up for the Halloween Half, 4 months and 1 day after she was born. I did a couple of posts about that, and how hard it was, but what an amazing feeling it was to finish my first half-marathon. I did it in 2:27 or so.

Now, less than a year later, I shaved almost 29 minutes off my time! So you can see why I am so excited! But unfortunately, my cute sis is going back to college and the ballet program, so she has to stop running and get back into ballet-shape. Maybe sometime in the future we'll get to be running partners again. But for now, I'm just so thrilled that I reached this goal. I CAN do hard things! Because trust me, that was a HARD run by the end. I just forced myself to keep going, to keep pushing, knowing the end was near. And I've been feeling it all weekend. My left knee felt like someone hit my with a sledgehammer all day on Saturday. It's quite a bit better now, thankfully.

Forcing myself to keep going, to keep pushing, and achieving that goal taught me a lot about myself. About my body. About the power of my mind. About the strength of my will.

Remember that post from last week, about how I AM an author, because I will never give up, I will always write--no matter what results I get? I guess, now I can say, I AM a runner, too. I may never run a half in the 1:30's or 1:20's like some of my friends, but for the girl who couldn't run more than a mile not too long ago, I'm so excited for where I am.

What goal have you accomplished that you're proud of?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Return of the Friday Four or Five

So, it's been a while since I've done this, but it used to be a regular feature on my blog. I figured I'd try to be better at doing it again. Here's what's on my mind today...

1. My third half marathon is tomorrow morning and I am really nervous. You'd think I'd be getting progressively less nervous for each race, rather than having it get worse. Well, you'd be wrong. I could barely sleep last night (which doesn't bode well for tonight, when I know my alarm is going to be going off at 3:30 am). Then Baby Girl decided to wake up at 6:30am. I'm tired, my stomach is all icky with nerves, and the race isn't even until tomorrow. Heh.
Me and my cute sister Lauren who I'm running the race with. She's a Speedy McSpeedster, so that might be a big part of why I'm so nervous... 

2. I went to Kiersten White's signing for ENDLESSLY at The King's English last night after our packet pick up. I can't believe her trilogy is done! So happy for her and excited to find out how Evie's story ends!
Me (looking like a giant, even though I wore flat shoes) and the hysterical and cute Kiersten White. 

Me (crouching down so I don't look like a giant again) and the wonderfully talented and super darling Natalie Whipple. Her book comes out in May and trust me, you want to put TRANSPARENT on your TBR list asap. It's SO SO good. 

Me, my cute sister, and Stacey from My Pile of Books (and my sweet friend)

3. I finally got a chance to read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. I'd heard so many good things about this book and it definitely lived up to the hype. I can't wait for the sequel to come out in September!

4. Thank you all for your amazing response to my last post. Your comments, tweets, rt's, FB messages, and emails meant more to me than I can express. It's so wonderful to know that we're not alone and that so many of us share the same emotions and struggles--and hopefully triumphs someday, too. So, again, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

5. Did I mention I'm nervous for tomorrow? And that I'm already exhausted? Heh, heh. Not good. Wish me luck.... pretty sure I'm going to need it.

So, tell me, what's on your mind today?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I am an Author

This post was kind of scary to write, and I'm still not sure I should post it. I don't often open up about the struggles I'm going through on my blog. I try to keep it upbeat, fun, positive and all that jazz. But let's face the truth: this business can be really hard.

So, here it is. I have a confession to make. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I am very self-deprecating. I tend to deal with disappointments with sarcasm. Am I breaking apart inside? Am I crushed, upset, hurting? Well, let's make a joke at my own expense, get everyone to laugh. Deflect the real pain that's there.

It's probably not a great way to deal with things.

I am surrounded by authors. Amazing, talented, successful authors. I am really good friends with a lot of them, and I have the incredible good fortune of being CPs/beta readers with or for many of them (which means I get to read their insanely good books long before they hit a shelf). I am so lucky and I love them all. It truly is a blessing to have so many blow-your-mind talented friends. This may seem like a tangent, but bear with me for a minute.

The problem is that I haven't reached that point yet--I don't have a book deal, I don't have a book on a shelf, so I don't feel legit. Sometimes, I let my own self-doubt and worry and insecurity lead me to tell myself that I don't really belong. That I'm not a "real author yet."

I make a joke out of it, but it's to cover up my embarrassment, my shame that I've been working tirelessly at this for six years and still don't have a book deal. I have a sweet, wonderfully talented friend who was querying with me back in the fall of 2009. I'd already been in the query trenches for quite some time (okay, a couple of years) and this was her first foray back into them for a long time. (She'd been published by a smaller, local publisher and was seeking national representation for her new book.) Well, here we are years later and her entire trilogy is going to be published this November, and I still don't even have a publishing deal. I often feel like a failure. I've come SO close. Like, seriously, you can't believe how close... but in the end, nothing has worked out yet.

I am still not published. And so I joke and say that I'm not a real author yet. That I don't really belong, but maybe someday... maybe.

Well, guess what? I AM a real author. I've written books. I've actually written a LOT of books. And someday they will be published. Maybe not all of them, but at least some. And I have more books yet to be written. I write every day. I will continue to write, because whether or not I get a book deal this year, or in five years, or never--writing is part of me. There are some really bad days when I say I wish I could just quit. But no matter how bad it gets, or how much I wish I could quit, I can't because writing won't quit me. 

Writing is part of me. It's more than just something I love to do, it's something I have to do.

So, I am an author. And hopefully someday you will be able to see my name on a shelf. But if not, I will still be an author, because no matter what happens, I won't ever stop writing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What do you do?

I'm a fast writer. Or, at least, I used to be.

 I don't say that to brag, because fast doesn't equal good or better or anything other than the fact that the speed with which I write my manuscripts is pretty quick. I also edit and revise fast. And I read fast, too. Cue random tangent down memory lane: In fact, when I was in middle school, my summer break was filled with books. I would go to the library and check out a stack of books so high I could barely lift them. Then I'd go through them so fast, I was often back the same week to return them and find new ones. I'd read at least one, sometimes two or three books a day. I also was on swim and dive team and had friends and other stuff, so I wasn't just locked in my room reading 24/7. I was just... fast.

So. Why am I telling you this?

Because these last few weeks... I have hit a wall. And I am the dead opposite of fast. My new WIP started off normal. I busted out about 40 pages in a few days, maybe five or six. It was back in February or March, so I don't remember. Then I got this OTHER idea and I ran with that one instead. I wrote that book, edited and revised and edited and revised, all the while toying with my previous idea here and there.

Well, now the second book is done and out of my hands. So I'm back to working on the first one. Right now I'm on page 53. That's 13 pages in about, oh, a month. PEOPLE. What is wrong with me??

Granted, I've been taking kind of a philosophical journey of sorts. (See Renee for more details on what that means.) But still. I should be doing better than 13 pages in this amount of time.

What do you do when you're stuck? Or when the words just won't flow?

I think a lot of it is stemming from insecurity. I'm really worried that I'm just not good enough--that maybe I never will be. And it's putting a major block on my ability to create. But I sit down and force myself to keep going. I want this to be a career, so I treat it like it is one already. I put in the time, no matter how easy or hard it is. But recently, it's been downright painful. To only eek out a few paragraphs in an hour? It makes me want to throw my computer against a wall. Or my head. Or something. But instead I take a deep breath and go to bed and tell myself, "Tomorrow it'll come back. Tomorrow will be a better day."

I'm still telling myself that, hoping it'll be true one of these days. Once inspiration hits, I can knock a first draft out in a couple of weeks, or a month. I know I CAN do it. If inspiration like that hits again, like it usually (eventually) does. But if not? I will just keep on writing my page a day and eventually, I'll have another manuscript completed.

Do you ever have a hard time letting the words come out? Do you ever question your ability as an author?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Seaweed by Elle Strauss!

Announcing SEAWEED by my wonderful friend, Elle Strauss! I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but I'm hoping to soon--it sounds really good. And you can't get better than FREE. If you get to it before I do, let me know what you think! Congrats Elle, I'm excited for you!

 A teen swim athlete discovers a merfolk world that threatens to keep her out of the ocean forever.

Dori Seward can’t wait to get out of Eastcove, a sleepy fishing village on the border of New Brunswick and Maine. She bides her time by hanging out with friends, attending swim club, and holding her biggest competition, Colby–who wants more than just friendship, at arm’s length. Then Tor Riley comes to town and he has everything Dori dreams of in a boyfriend–looks, athleticism and mystery. But Tor also has a tantalizing secret and Dori is determined to find out what it is. The truth is crazier than her wildest imaginations and more dangerous, too. Dori has new fantastical enemies , and they will do anything to get to her. Her life, her dreams and her love for Tor are all weighing in the balance. Will Dori risk it all in order to have it all?

 SEAWEED is FREE for a limited time on Amazon! It's also free on itunes and smashwords.

Elle Strauss writes time travel and merfolk chic-lit, light SF and historical YA fiction. To ward off writer's butt she does a bit of hiking, biking and yoga. Elle is married with four children and divides her time between British Columbia, Canada, and Germany.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Kindness Project - July

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month.

When I joined this project, I had all these grandiose dreams of how my life was going to drastically alter from making a concerted effort to be kind. But it hasn't been quite like that. Instead, it's been a bunch of small changes, an overall shift in my thinking.

Instead of pretending like I didn't see that one person who isn't nice to me, I make an effort to wave or say hi.

When I get the thought to call someone or write a letter/email that I think might brighten someone's day, but I'm exhausted/busy/my kids are hanging on me/all of the above, I remember this project and I try to actually do it.

When I'm feeling down about myself, or get bad news, I try to think of who else might not be feeling great and how I could do something or say something to brighten their day.

I know I could do more. I want to do more. I'm going to do more. But at least I'm doing something. I'm trying. Even if it's in small ways.

I'm pretty sure I haven't changed anyone's life--yet. And I haven't had a drastic change in my life--yet. But over time, this shift in thinking, this concerted effort to be kind might end up having far reaching effects. A small change can set things into motion that could lead to drastic differences in my life and those around me in the future. Or at least that's my hope.

You've all heard the quote: "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

So here are my questions for you today: What is something seemingly small that you could do that might have a big impact on your life or those around you? And have you ever seen a small act of kindness or charity lead to a big change in someone's life? I'd love to find out your answers to this!

Check out what everyone is posting about today: