Starting New Chapters

2015 has been a growing year for me. A year of risk, you might say. While last year was dedicated to networking (hence all my crazy travels in 2014!), I wanted to focus this year on reaching outside of my comfort zone on both a career and personal front in order to push myself farther along the path to success.

So, what does that mean? Well, it means new books and genres, signing with a new agent, traveling to new event locations, and even buying a new house! I haven’t talked much about all these new things, because I am a creature of habit, and big changes to my daily norm are quite the adjustment. Most people who know me, know it’s hard to make me doubt myself as a writer and just my life in general, but this year has challenged everything I knew.

Stepping Outside My Writing Comfort Zone

It’s no secret that I love what I write. I enjoy each story and will happily tell you my books are awesome. But, I also write what I know I’m good at. This year, I took some risks and began writing brand-new genres for me: horror and epic fantasy.

As a huge movie buff, I find both genres extremely visual. The shadows against walls and ominous music for horror, the colorful and sweeping landscapes or detailed creatures of epic fantasy. That’s why I love them so much (even though I can’t sleep for a few days after I watch a scary movie) – the visual aspect. So trying to put those visual scenes into words was a challenge, one that certainly left me wondering if I had the skills. I love the stories that came out of my self-imposed genre risk, and am hopeful y’all will to.

 My horror series is set to come out starting August 2016. My fantasy, to be determined. Either way, rest assured I’ve been busy writing! I’ve had several people ask when I’ll have a new book out. This year alone I’ve written four, but all in preparation for future scheduled releases. So, bear with me while I get these books written and rest assured they will all be available, some hopefully sooner rather than later!

An Agent/Author Partnership

 This year, I sPennedigned with Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management; more specifically, with my agent Renee  Fountain. I am so excited  to be part of this amazing team, and honored that they welcomed me aboard.

 You may be wondering why I consider this somewhat of a risk. In many ways, it’s not. It’s an incredible opportunity to  work with some of  the  most talented and knowledgeable people I’ve ever known. In other ways, it is. For the first time,  my books are being challenged before they are published, and that is a new process for me.

 Rather than sending a book to some beta readers, making a few tweaks,  and clicking  “publish,” I now go through a  more extensive  process. But, that’s what I love. I love being challenged as a writer and being  pushed to create a  more  unique, gripping, and  memorable  story.

 I have already learned so much from Renee and Italia, things that make me want to work harder and smarter and be  the best author I can  be. The best person I can be. A bright future is in the cards for us all.

Following My Feet

As much as I don’t like change, I have always been filled with a sense of wanderlust. I don’t like being in one place long, which is why writing and movies are such passions – in one, I get to create new worlds and new (imaginary) friends who go off on crazy adventures with me; in the other, I get to live in worlds created by someone else, sitting back and enjoying the ride through action or drama or horror in an experience I’d otherwise never know.

That’s why I sign up for events, many outside of Florida. I not only get to meet new people and promote myself, but also get to see different parts of the country. Going up in the Gateway Arch this year in St. Louis was an unforgettable adventure, as was exploring Myrtle Beach and checking out local Charlotte restaurants.

But, you never know if these events will pan out in the end. Maybe you go, and no readers show up. Or maybe lots of readers show up, but none of them are interested in you and your books. You never know what could happen. I was lucky this year, and attended incredible events planned by people whose hard work paid off and resulted in the best times of my life. Good turnout and sales, but, more importantly, great company and the opportunity to meet some of my favorite people in person, or hang out with them again. The risk of not selling a single book is worth getting to be part of the entire experience.

Home Sweet Home

Perhaps the biggest risk I’ve taken this year – my husband and I bought a house! We have rented for 8 years now, and decided it was finally time to buy. This is the change I struggle with most. I’m used to book stuff: traveling to events, publishing, deadlines, etc. But moving? Having a mortgage, homeowners insurance, my own house I’m responsible for?

It’s a lot to take in. Worries of did we make the right choice, what if we hate the area or end up with crazy neighbors (what if WE are the crazy neighbors?), what if the day we move in a hurricane hits and destroys everything, what if, what if, what if. Seriously, I don’t know how all you homeowners make it look so easy.

But, I’m also excited. Our home will really be ours. We can finally get a dog, and chickens, and goats (I doubt my husband remembers saying I could have a goat when we decided on this place, but I’m holding him to it). We will finally be in the country, away from the chaos of the city.

And, we will finally be home. I’m sure it will take a little while for it to feel 100% ours, but my house now has never felt like home. It was just a place where I kept all my stuff. “Home” was always my mom’s house, where I grew up. The more we visit our new potential house (potential because we haven’t officially closed), the more it feels right. Buying a house is always a risk, but if it means finding home, then I’ll happily endure it.

So, why did I share all this? I worry that, on the outside, it may seem like I’ve taken a step back from it all because I’ve been a bit quiet on my books and life. On the inside, I’m working my ass off to make things happen on all fronts, so it’s all a matter of time, I promise! As I said, 2015 is a growing year, and with growing comes growing pains. I don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not pulling long hours on little sleep, so every day is filled with emails, writing, editing, conference calls, and more to bring you guys some awesome books. And, who knows, maybe one day even an awesome movie :). I want to look back on 2015 and be proud of myself for having the guts to go after what I want.

After all, I’ve always been up for adventure, and what fun is adventure without a little risk?

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