I know, I know, this is horribly overdue for an author who’s had published novels out for nearly two years now…

I waited to do the newsletter until I had really researched it and figured out what exactly I wanted to do with it. If you subscribe, I promise not to spam you with weekly writing updates or other obnoxious correspondences. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for those sorts of things, ;). If you subscribe to my newsletter you’ll receive an email every 1-3 months about new release information, occasional promotional details, and other book related news. I greatly appreciate your readership and would love to stay connected!

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Really think about this. If you’re a published author (indie or otherwise), why do you publish your books? Why not just write them for the joy of it and move on? Why go the extra mile and rewrite, edit, send it to beta readers, procure cover art, and hit the big button?

Over the last year, I haven’t published a thing. I really needed to reconnect with my writing and answer the big questions: Why do I write? and Why do I publish? It wasn’t easy. As you can see, the last time I published something was in March 2013. I suffered a pretty nasty recurring writer’s block that lasted for months at a time and kept me from believing in myself. So, during all that down time, I tried to really reflect on those two questions.

Here’s Why I Write:

After intense introspection, I remembered the real reason why I write: I love it.

That’s it.

Writing is a passion for me. I adore building worlds and creating lovable characters. I love spending hours creating language sets for imaginary cultures. I could spend days immersed in a story.

For me, writing is a beloved treasure.

When I thought about publishing, the reasons were more mixed.

Here’s Why I Publish:

Publishing was a a bit harder for me. At first, I think I honestly wanted to publish in order to gain recognition, make a living, and feel validated in my work. After sales were slow and my marketing efforts didn’t yield the results I wanted, I grew discouraged. I had to really adjust my attitude about why I published.

So, I found that the real reason I want to publish is to share my stories with others. I love it when my Wattpad readers connect with me and tell me their favorite parts. I love connecting with other writers who enjoy their craft as much as I do.

In other words, my desire to publish is to become a part of a larger artistic community dedicated to writing and reading great stories.

So, why do you write and publish? I’d love to hear your own thoughts!

Did you have to go through a “dark night of the writer’s soul” to arrive at your own reasons? Share your journey with us in the comments!

As always, happy writing!

~L.M.

So, I know I’ve been MIA on my blog over the last year or so, but I wanted to check in and let you know what I’ve been up to. I’ve been writing! WOOHOO! Yes, indeed, I have plans to publish possibly two things before the end of the year, but at least one thing. I read Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K about a month ago and it has revolutionized my world. As you may have gathered from older blog posts, I sort of have a problem of being a super-pantser (i.e., never really planned further than the first few chapters). Because I have a day job that demands a lot of time time, I knew I needed to make the most of my limited writing time.

Aaron’s book discusses the importance of laying a firm foundation for your writing  before you start and the necessity for roughly planning exactly what you plan to write during each session. Since using her method, every time I’ve written, I’ve been excited, productive, and happier than ever. I’ve always been able to crank out about 2,000 words on average during my writing sessions (usually writing between and hour and an hour and a half). Since using Aaron’s method, I’ve be getting close to 5,000 in about 2 hours (give or take).

The new book I’m working on is so much fun (in my humble opinion). It’s got a mix of genres and I am loving the unusual world that’s forming around the characters. I’m not quite ready to release information about the title and such, but there will be more information coming soon. I am still working on the rough draft, but at this rate, I hope to have it done by the end of August.

If you’re struggling with getting your word counts in when you’re balancing a day job, family, and a social calendar, I would *highly* recommend Aaron’s book. It’s only $.99 and it is WELL worth the read!!

Happy writing,

~L.M.

My first book, Night Bells, is getting some attention with YA readers on Wattpad! Check it out!

Sorry for my blogging absence (again…). It’s becoming more and more difficult to squeeze blogging into my very busy schedule. Since taking on lots more contract work (thank goodness!!), my free time is limited for this sort of thing. As well, my host has been having some issues and my site has actually been experiencing problems lately. I apologize for the inconvenience. Still, I want to keep you all apprised of what I’ve got going on. I am hard at work on the third Tale from Niflheim, don’t you worry. It’s actually that manuscript that I’d like to talk about today.

I don’t typically discuss my works-in-progress very often. They’re messy and filled with perils of their own and it can produce odd feelings within to talk about them with others. I think, however, that sharing my struggles with my current draft might be of some use to other writers out there, so here we are. My issues with this project began last year. I published Silent Shades (the sequel to Night Bells) in the fall of 2012, shortly after publishing the first book in the series. I worked on some other projects, but then got back to working on the third book. When I tell you that I felt like I was running uphill with a bag of rocks on my back, I don’t mean to over-exaggerate. This book has been the toughest book I’ve ever worked on.

I soon needed another break from the third book and began work on other stories. I also published a novella called The Dark Ship in early 2013. I had every intention of plowing through the third Niflheim book and then releasing it sometime in 2013. AND then real life happened. A lot of real life. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that I was given many, many opportunities for growth last year and that many of them took up all of my attention, strength, and emotional reservoir. My writing suffered. My other passions suffered. I fell into a deep writers block that seemed like it would never end.

At the end of 2013, I was bound and determined to get my writing back into the productive-zone and I pulled out the third Niflheim book. It was still hard. The manuscript was a mess, full of holes, clunky prose, awkward dialogue, and poorly envisioned scenes. As well, I had a mountain of rewrites to get through just to make the first draft make sense. I also had to finish the darn thing (which I haven’t yet). Since (let’s be honest) writing doesn’t pay the bills for me yet, I realized that I don’t have as much time pressure to publish as other authors do. It’s already been awhile since I’ve published anything, so I know I’m kind of “out of the public eye” at the moment.

I don’t say all of that to wallow in self-pity. On the contrary, I think it’s a great thing! I’ve decided to fully focus on my craft; on the fun of writing; on my characters. NOT on the publishing aspect or the marketing. Those things are important and are definitely relevant to the self-published author’s life, but it’s not as important to me as enjoying what I do. I want writing to remain a passion in my life and because of that, I have pursued other means of employment to keep myself occupied and to keep food on the table. ;)

I suppose I should get back to the main point of this post, however, and discuss my process for dealing with a troublesome manuscript. *Ahem*, here we go:

1. Take a break, but only a short one. // I didn’t tuck tail and run at the first sign of trouble in this manuscript, but after several had worn me out and sucked all my zeal for the project, I did decide to take a break and work on other stories. It was refreshing, allowed me to keep up my practice of the craft, and enabled me to keep my brain active in the story-telling process.

2. When you jump back in, READ THE MANUSCRIPT. // I know this may be an obvious tip, but it can sometimes be hard to read through a mess of a draft and make sense of it. Do it, though, because you’ll be able to pick up the threads you want to keep and weed out the plot lines or characters that don’t make any sense. Make copious notes for yourself about things you’d like to tweak, change, keep, or get rid of entirely. It will make continuing your draft a lot better and help you plan a little bit (if you’re a pantser like me).  

3. Work on coherency. // I’m a big believer that first drafts should make sense. If you’ve got all kinds of rats’ nests in there and things just aren’t meshing well, WORK THAT CRAP OUT. It can take a really long time. I’ve done several rewrites on this draft just so that I can get a coherent story out of it before I finish it up. It’s grueling work and it can easily burn you out, so be sure to read a lot of fun books during this time to keep your faith in writing and also work on other projects at the same time if you need to.

4. Chin up. Writing is hard for everyone. You are no exception. // This is something I often forget. I tend to imagine all the other awesome authors living on clouds with rainbows and sparkles all around them when they’re sitting there tumbling out the words. That’s not how it works. Sure, some authors may be insanely more prolific than others, but just like you those authors are working hard at their writing. Besides, what do you care if another writer has it easier than you? You can’t know that (a) and, besides, comparison is the thief of joy (b). Worry about your own work and be positive. Be your own biggest fan.

5. Keep going, even when you just want to quit. // There have honestly been times when I thought about shelving this story for good. My love for these characters, however, have kept me going. Someone has to tell their story, or they’ll remain forever in my own head. As well, it warms my heart to no end when I hear people asking about the third book and when they can expect it. That alone is enough to keep me going when it gets tough.

This manuscript is still a hot mess. I still have plenty of rewriting to attend to before I can even think about finishing the book, but I know that it’ll all get done. I have no idea when I’ll be finished. I’m not going to put that pressure on myself. I am, however, going to pressure myself to keep going when the going gets rough. I’m going to think positively and be my own fan again. Writing used to be a passion for me. Characters and scenes would pester me when I was trying to sleep at night. Though I’m still sort of in a slump when it comes to my author’s enthusiasm, I’m determined to get the spark back; even if I have to get flint and tender and create it myself.

Happy writing, happy reading until we “meet” again.

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This is “Buddy”. He is a two year old parakeet that has stolen my pet-loving heart! We adopted him almost two weeks ago and he fills our home with beauty, pretty chirrups, and entertainment. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know how hard it was for me when my rats passed away in the summer. I loved them SO much and when they died, a little bit of me did, too. Pets can be so, so comforting in life and they provide humans with an opportunity to be selfless, caring, nurturing, and responsible.

I know many writers have dogs or cats, and don’t get me wrong–I LOVE cats especially, but I’m a big fan of “exotic” type pets. Rodents and birds are particular favorites of mine. I am so happy to have a happy little singing creature sitting nearby while I work on my stories. He’s great company and when I need a break from work, he’s right there waiting to be loved on and talked to. He’s not quite tame yet, but we’re getting there. His previous family didn’t have a ton of time to spend with him, so he’s still getting used to all the attention (…and my voice, my hand, his new home, etc.)

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Isn’t he handsome?

Are you a pet fan? If so, do you keep your dog, cat, fish, bird, etc., nearby when you write?

It’s hard to believe that 2013 is officially over and gone. 2014 is here and I, for one, am extremely excited about the upcoming months. I truly feel that 2014 will be a year of great stories, great writing, great publishing, and great journeys for us all. :) As I’ve been reflecting on 2013, I’ve been trying to nail down my favorite reads. I had a goal of reading 36 books and ended up making it to 33. I’m sad that I didn’t meet my goal, but to be honest I had a great deal of “real life” situations going on that made it difficult to get that reading done. So, moving on into the new year! I think I’m going to keep my goal of 36 books again. Here are my favorite reads of 2013 (in no particular order):

Favorite2013Reads copy

1// Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis 2// Forged in Blood I & II by Lindsay Buroker 3// Sabriel by Garth Nix 4// Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 5// Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris 6// The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom 7// Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis 8// Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

Out of the 33 books that I read, these stuck with me the most. I’ll do a little mini-review of each one below.

Out of the Silent Planet

WOW. This book blew me away. It was so completely different from Lewis’ Narnia novels that at first, it took a bit of adjustment to get used to. Still, once I got the hang of the slightly different writing style and the truly unique story, things took off! If you’re looking for a new science-fiction read, look no further than this first book of the Space Trilogy. You won’t be disappointed. I can’t wait to read the sequels, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength.

Forged in Blood I & II 

This ending to the Emperor’s Edge series was INCREDIBLE. I know I’ve talked multiple times on the blog about my obsessive love for Buroker’s work so it shouldn’t surprise you that her EE opus is on my top reads for 2013 list. I devoured these books. They were so, so good and (to me) gave readers such a tremendously satisfying ending. I know she’s already hard at work on a continuance of the Emperor’s Edge  universe and I cannot WAIT to see what she comes up with next.

Sabriel 

I’ve read this book a few times now and my third (or was it my fourth…) read-through was just as magical as the others. I’m not decided on whether or not I’ll go on to read the sequels again right now. I’ve got quite a lot on my reading list for 2014 and I know I won’t be able to get to everything I’ve already got on there. :) Still, the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix is truly magnificent. It’s a great young adult fantasy series and definitely worth anyone’s time.

Catching Fire 

Definitely my favorite of Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games trilogy, this book had so much to love!! Action, romance, tension, twists…you name it and this book probably had it. I’ll confess that I haven’t finished the third book in this series, partly because I’m finding it so different from #1 and more importantly, #2 in the series. This book was nonstop goodness and I definitely look forward to reading it again someday.

Quotidian Mysteries

This isn’t a fiction book, but I felt it needed to make the list because of how powerfully its words impacted me. Kathleen Norris speaks volumes in this short little tome about daily living and how we can find joy, peace, and meaning in the quotidian (everyday) things in our lives. Such a fantastic read and gave me so much to think about.

The Hiding Place

It’s a little sad that I never read this book growing up. It’s a bit crazy that it got past me, since I grew up in a strong Christian community. Still, reading it as an adult probably meant so much more to me. Corrie Ten Boom’s story of faith, courage, and perseverance in the face of such great evil was one of the most inspiring reads of my life.

Kisses from Katie

I read this extremely early in 2013 and it is definitely a book that will always “be” with me. Katie’s work in Africa in the midst of extreme poverty is so completely awe-inspiring that I really feel it is impossible to read her story without being completely changed by it. For anyone looking to “think outside themselves” and to find inspiration to live selflessly, RUN to get this book immediately.

Son of the Shadows

Who knows how many times I’ve read this book. I’ve seriously lost count. Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters trilogy is so important to me. I’m sure I will be reading her stories for the rest of my life. Over and over and over again. Liadan’s tale of hope in the midst of great darkness is impeccable. Read it. Read ALL her books. RIGHT NOW.

What are your favorite reads from 2013? I’d LOVE to hear! I’m always on the lookout for new stories. Happy 2014!

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Thanks for visiting my humble little web-home! If you’re new to the blog, I invite you to stay, hang out, and read awhile. If you’re interested in my books, give my first fantasy novel Night Bells a shot. It’s free on the Kindle, ITunes, Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords.

IMG_2942Every year, I like to set a reading goal for myself to keep me accountable when it comes to devouring books. :) This year, my goal was set at 36. So far, I’ve consumed 33. Not as many as I had hoped by this time of year, but I feel confident that I can scarf down three more before the end of the year. Already, I’ve got one just a few percentage clicks from being complete and I’ve just started another one that I know will be something I don’t want to put down. I had hoped to have already reached my goal number by this time, but life gets busy. Once I’ve completed my year’s worth of reading, I’ll definitely be sure to share my favorites with you!

Reading is such a privilege. Most people don’t consider just how much of a blessing literacy is. Literacy and the ability to read, critically analyze, and think for yourself about a topic is truly a marvelous skill and one that not everyone on this earth has. Whenever I hear that people hate to read, I die a little on the inside. It’s the same feeling I get when people despise school or the chance to learn. So many of our American school children are frustrated eye-rollers about school and it makes me so sad. Education is such a gift! A GIFT! The ability we have to freely attend school, learn to read, and grow our minds is heavily under-appreciated in this country.

If you’ve never really had a knack or desire for reading, I always say, “You just haven’t found the right book or series yet.” For instance, growing up, my best friend always hated to read. Then, one day in high school she discovered the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Since then, she has been an avid and dedicated reader–usually consuming more tomes on average that I do! That’s why I fervently believe anyone can learn to love reading. With the right story and the right writer, anyone can become a lover of the written word.

Why not set a reading goal for yourself in 2014 (if you haven’t already)? Find some new favorites in the new year! I’ll reveal my reading goal for 2014 when I do my 2013 wrap up post. :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Spend some time over your break snuggled up on a couch or in a big comfy chair with some hot tea or cocoa and a great book!

Right after my hubby and I married in 2010, he challenged me early in our marriage to write every single day for at least an hour. For a year, I faithfully carried out that mission and it changed my life. After that year passed and I began seriously pursuing my publishing journey, I kept writing most days. Then, as the contracting work picked up, I was actually publishing books, and life got a bit busier, I kept writing most weeks. Finally, I entered into a period of horrible writer’s block in 2013. I firmly believe that part of that writer’s block was the result of letting my daily writing habit slip.

Is it easy to write every single day? Yes and no. On the one hand, life happens and some days, there are emergencies, appointments, and all-day workathons that leave you with little time to write. On days like that, I say, STILL WRITE. Just maybe alter your word count or complete a writing exercise on character or plot. It will help you continue to flex your writing muscle and you’ll still accomplish your daily writing goal. On the other hand, writing every day can eventually become easy because it is a habit. The more you do it, the more naturally it comes to you.

I have been writing daily again for a little over a week now. I know that’s not a huge stretch of time or anything, but already I can feel my writing “muscles” growing and I am so excited about sitting down in some quiet and getting words on the page again. After my hellish writer’s block, I am so grateful for the drive to write and produce. I know with the holiday season, there will be some busy days ahead, but I am going to sincerely try to write every day even through Christmas (even if, like I mentioned, my word count is reduced). Writing is fun. It’s a privilege and I know now that for me it is a haven of rest for my tired and busy  mind.

Back when I was first writing every day, I would set a time limit: write for an hour. Now that I’ve grown and my life has gotten more wonderfully complicated with work and domestic tasks, I set myself a word count goal of 2000 words per day. I usually end up writing more than an hour with this method, but it gives me a concrete progress goal and it allows me to get through rough drafts a little quicker. I also love watching Scrivener’s little progress bar light up with every word I type! ;)

Do you write every day? If you do, do you keep a word count goal or a time goal? I’d love to hear about your writing routine!

Every year for Christmas, it seems like I ask for about 40 books (okay, maybe not that many…) and this year is no exception. I have lots and lots on my wish list this year and here are a few that I’m * really* hoping to see under my tree on Christmas morning!

Find it on Amazon!

Find it on Amazon!

Find it on Amazon!

Find it on Amazon!

Find it on Amazon!

Find it on Amazon!

Those are, of course, just a few of the books on my list, like I said. There are some other fun things on it like both the Sailor Moon manga boxed sets and such. ;) I have been wanting that Zelda Hyrule Historia for ages and I cannot wait to get my mitts on it and spend hours digging through it. I am a ginormous Zelda nerd and I’m also hoping to receive some of the Zelda games I haven’t collected on the big day. The Percy Jackson books have interested me for a while now and given everything I’ve heard about them, I’m positive they will become favorites. I played it safe and just asked for the boxed set. :) Our library disappointed me when it didn’t have the whole series available for check out.

The C.S. Lewis book is a biography that I’ve been eyeing for a while. I adore C.S. Lewis. A.D.O.R.E.. I cannot wait to learn more about his life and the things that inspired his greatest works. He was such a talented writer and I’m trying to work through everything he’s ever written. I’m asking for Inkdeath because I’ve already got Inkheart and Inkspell and I have a big need to have completed series//trilogies in my house. When I’ve got bits and pieces of a series, it’s so incomplete….House of Many Ways and Castle in the Air are both sequels to Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and since I loved the first book so much (and my already mentioned need to have completed series), I’m hoping to get these beauties.

What books are on your December Wish List? I’d LOVE to hear! Any good recommendations for YA, Fantasy, or Sci-Fi reads? Let me know in the comments section!

Happy Friday!

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These are only a few of the gazilion notebooks like them lying around my house…

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. Some of my favorite possessions are the writing notebooks I’ve filled over the years. Usually spiral bound notebooks, I’ve littered thousands of pages with my stories, drawings, and outlines. I love to go back and look at these old treasures and see how different my writing was in years past. How different I was when I wrote those scenes.

Excuse the upside-down nature of it all. ;)

Excuse the upside-down nature of it all. ;)

It is amazing to me, to go back and read over these notebooks. Some have really great story ideas! Others showcase very well the issues I might have been going through as an adolescent. The level of angst on the page was usually indicative of something occurring in my real life. ;)

As I grew more competent with the computer (entering high school), my story notebooks became Word documents. I have many of these littered throughout my various hardrives, but my favorite form of these treasures are my writing notebooks. As an adult, I’ve come to use them again. I find meaning in the scent of the lined paper and the feel of it beneath my hand. I love the way ink flows over the plane of the page. So, every now and then, just to help me remember my roots and to keep myself grounded, I pull out a fresh spiral notebook and let the words flow. Even if I have no intention of taking the words anywhere outside the notebook, it’s enough that they’re there for my future self to dig up and muse over.