Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Grace, Not Perfection

I published my first book two months ago. In some ways, it seems like forever ago...after the fanfare has died down, the push for its release over. It was like giving birth to my first baby. A baby I'm proud of and want to spend time with. Savor the new-born phase a little bit. But it's easy to get swept up in the excitement of Facebook and seeing how other authors do things. I do want to learn, after all.

But it's like when you get married and everyone around you asks, "So, when are you having kids?" Then, you have your first kid, and every one starts asking, "So, when are giving Junior a sister?"

If you allow yourself to get caught up in what's going on around you, instead of what's going on inside of you, you're living for other's expectations and not your own.

So I pulled back and asked myself: What do I truly want and need in my life right now? How does my writing career fit into that? Since I'm in the unique spot of building my brand as I go, now is the perfect time to get crystal clear on how that is going to look, and what my readers can expect from me.

See, I wasn't always a stay-at-home mom who writes in her spare time. In fact, I used to be a Communications Manager for a technology executive in a Fortune 500 company. I graduated college with a 4.0 GPA while working full time. To say I used to be a type A is an understatement. So even though I've left Corporate America and have found my balance in life, every once in a while I get caught up in my own hyper-drive and start going full throttle again. Sometimes, I forget that I can take things slow, and that it's not all or nothing.

Because the truth of the matter is this: My kids come first.

And I don't apologize for that. I get a few precious years when everything I do makes them smile. When we still have Muffins for Moms days at school. When they want to spend time with me more than anyone else in the world. I know every phase of our lives together will bring equal delights and challenges, but these younger years with the kids are slipping by at an alarming speed already, and I don't want to miss a moment. I need to be present, for all of our sakes. 

The other part of this equation is also balancing life as someone who is not only introverted and highly sensitive, but is also putting myself out there in the public light. Because I believe in authenticity in all I do.

I've worked too hard to get to 42, and the lessons I've learned along the way have all lead me to this belief: Life is too short to give too many f**ks about what everyone else thinks about me. Yes, I want people to like me, and no, it's not a free license to be a self-absorbed jerk.

Rather, just the opposite.

I try to come from a vulnerable place of authenticity that is truly ME. When I do, I stop worrying about what others think. Because that, I can't control. What I can control is how I'm living, and if it's in alignment with my soul.

With that in mind, I will never do something that feels inauthentic during my publishing career. Over the last two months, I have been working on my next release that comes out July 7 as part of Kaira Rouda's Laguna Beach world. It's called Last Night in Laguna, and is a contemporary romance novella - one of my favorite genres to write. 

In the midst of all this, I also found a novel that I thought I'd lost in a complete and devastating computer crash two years ago. It is a dark, erotic paranormal retelling of a classic fairy tale, and it's completely unlike my first novel, Faith in Love.
I polled readers and writers on my Facebook author page and Grammar Babe editing page, and the overwhelming response was that readers are okay with authors who write across genres. That was a huge relief for me. Because I just started this journey, and I don't want to get boxed in already. Yes, I want to build a solid brand, but for me, that brand is bigger than one genre. It's about a message of hope and love and light.

So, slowly, surely, I am building my brand. But what I am allowing myself (and I'm praying you'll give me too) is grace and patience along the way.

I am not your average romance author (I'm not that cool!). I am going to do things completely differently along my journey. I may not meet your expectations about how you've interacted with other romance writers along the way. I may be more quiet. I will probably not follow "the formula" to become a USA Today or NYT bestselling author. Because that all mostly just stresses me out instead of brings me joy right now. One step at a time.

Right now I am focused on writing, on finding authentic readers, and on allowing myself grace and patience along the way. 

All that said, readers have asked me what's coming out next. Here's what's calling to my heart this summer:

  • Redd's Descent - a dark fairy tale retelling. Coming end of May, 2016 (I hope). Genre: Dark paranormal romance.
  • Last Night in Laguna - Laguna Beach Kindle World. Coming July 7, 2016. Genre: Contemporary Romance.

In the meantime, I'm most active on my Facebook page, but you can also keep in touch with me on other social media sites. I love hearing from you, and will do my best to keep the lines of communication open during the writing process.

Thanks for sticking with me along this journey. And for the grace and patience you've shown me already.

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