When the Brain’s Been Hijacked

My writing bestie and critique partner, Charissa James-Weaks, said it best: Babies hijack your brain. Boy, is that ever true (especially during pregnancy)!

If you follow me on social media, then I’m sure you’re aware of my amazing news: there’s a Baby Collins on the way!

13 Week Ultrasound of Baby Collins

13 Week Ultrasound of Baby Collins (taken March 24th).

But I’m not posting to talk about the baby–at least not exclusively. I’m posting to talk about how pregnancy seriously hijacks your brain. If you remember, at the first of this year I made a commitment to get back into blogging and being active on social media and all that other jazz. BUT… the universe decided that after 2.5 years of trying to no avail to finally gift the hubs and I with a baby, and that’s when everything changed (and don’t get me wrong–I’m beyond THRILLED to finally have the child we always dreamed of, so my thoughts in this post no way lessens that or makes me ungrateful 🙂 ).

From that point on, whatever writing/revising plans I had, blog posts scheduled for writing, books to read…basically anything that wasn’t pregnancy, sleep, eating, dayjob, and hubby-related was out the damn window.

Whatever enthusiasm I had for my new blogging schedule, or my book and it’s schedule for completion became NONEXISTENT. I’m not even kidding a little on that. Between utter exhaustion and mood swings and the overwhelming excitement of a baby finally happening zapped every single bit of interest I had in my dream of publishing a novel. Cause my brain was literally hijacked.

So how am I going to overcome this so I can get the rest of this damn book revised (preferably before the little one arrives)??

Well, not quite sure yet, but I’m sure the first step is the simple fact that I’ve realized what’s happened and accepted that it’s totally okay for this to be happening. It’s my first pregnancy and I should enjoy it. If that means not being eyeballs-deep in revisions the entire nine months, then so be it.

So far the second step is shaping to be inching back into the creative part of my brain. For this I’ve just finished reading Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure by Bonnie MacBird, and man, can I just say that it worked in getting that part of the brain churning? 😉

Next I’ve printed up the pages I’ve revised so far in the book (about 150 total), and plan to read in order to immerse myself back into that world. From there we’ll see what happens, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get back into some kind of revision schedule that allows me to spend more time away than I would under normal circumstances (because I know every weekend from now until the birth will be filled with getting things ready for the baby). So if that means the expectation is one fully revised chapter completed at least every two weeks should work, then that’s what it’ll be in order for this soon-to-be-mama to keep her sanity.

How all of this re-immersion into my writing-self will go is yet to be determined. But I do know one thing: Life’s too short to be hard on yourself. Give yourself a break, accept how things have changed (or how they’re going to change), and roll with it. Everything will work out how it’s meant to in the end.

Til next time! 🙂
Melinda

My Favorite Books of 2015

I know, I know. This post probably should have gone up sometime in December, but since I didn’t return to blogging until last week, I’m technically ‘on time.’ (not really, but that’s what I’m telling myself to keep from feeling bad, ha-ha).

Here are my TOP picks from 2015, along with each book’s blurb and cover from Goodreads, and my personal star rating.

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Psst…Me Before You, the movie, is set to release on March 4, 2016. I highly recommend reading the book prior to seeing the movie.

 

After You by Jojo MoyesAfter You

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

After You is quintessential Jojo Moyes—a novel that will make you laugh, cry, and rejoice at being back in the world she creates. Here she does what few novelists can do—revisits beloved characters and takes them to places neither they nor we ever expected.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

The DrafterThe Drafter (The Peri Reed Chronicles #1) by Kim Harrison

Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run.

Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote.

When Peri discovers her name on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. She joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her final task, unable to trust even herself.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Psst (again)… I received this as an ARC at RT 2015, so let me just say that having to wait over a year for book #2 is KILLING ME.

 

My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda RouseyMy Fight Your Fight

In this inspiring and moving book, Ronda Rousey, the Olympic medalist in judo, reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion, and Hollywood star charts her difficult path to glory.

Marked by her signature charm, barbed wit, and undeniable power, Rousey’s account of the toughest fights of her life—in and outside the Octagon—reveals the painful loss of her father when she was eight years old, the intensity of her judo training, her battles with love, her meteoric rise to fame, the secret behind her undefeated UFC record, and what it takes to become the toughest woman on Earth. Rousey shares hard-won lessons on how to be the best at what you do, including how to find fulfillment in the sacrifices, how to turn limitations into opportunities, and how to be the best on your worst day.

Packed with raw emotion, drama, and wisdom this is an unforgettable book by one of the most remarkable women in the world.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Psst (last time)… THIS BOOK CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR ME. From my thought process to how I view my writing time and creativity, to the habits I need to build in order to ensure my creativity can flourish, and last but not least, how I should just give zero fucks about what other people think about me and my creativity (well, except for those ever important critique partners, lol).

If I push any of these books at you to read ASAP, it’s BIG MAGIC. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Big Magic Quote 1Big Magic Quote 2Big Magic Quote 3

Alrighty, your turn! What are some of your favorite books from 2015? PLEASE recommend some to me. I’ve upped my reading goal from 20 to 25, so I’ve got some work to do. 😉

I’m Baaaack… Life & Other Updates

Oh my frickin’ God! Has it really been over a year since I blogged?!?

My guess is you’re wondering 1) Where the hell has Mel been, and 2) WTF is happening?

Believe it or not, I have LEGITIMATE answers for both 😉

1) I’ve been soul-searching and spending time with like-minded writers (at the RT Conference, for example), and busy, busy, busy with both my personal and day job lives.

2) I’ve FINALLY found my TRUE artistic self…among other things.

 

By soul-searching, I’ve been able to explore without expectation. This has allowed me to abandon any and all expectations m, which includes social media. And abandoning all things social media for the last year has allowed me the freedom to observe from the sidelines. When I say observing, here a few of my favorite moments:

  • Witnessing Sylvia Day as she drank a cocktail at the hotel bar at RT 2015 (and may I say she looked damn fine?).
  • SITTING NEXT TO CHRISTOPHER RICE in the bar area of RT 2015 (Such a nice man, BTW).
  • Seeing Kami Gargia as she conversed with Mr. Rice, who was sitting right next to me (did I mention this already?).
  • Meeting authors Charlaine Harris  & Marie Lu during the big book fair day
  • Remaining in my room and refusing to go down to the bar or lobby even though we had a *confirmed* sighting of the famous author known as E.L. James (I won’t go deep into my reasons of why, but I will just leave this link to a post from Jami Gold to give you an idea).
  • Hanging with these pretty ladies (my crit partners) at the RT Booklover’s Convention in Dallas, Texas. 🙂
Authors Charissa Weaks & JL Henry Authors Charissa Weaks & JL Henry

Detailing the findings of my TRUE artistic self will end up being detailed later in this blog, so I’m not going to go into too much detail right now, but what I can share are a few personal things that have been going on for me.

  1. That new position with my company that I got in May 2014? I still enjoy it very much…I just don’t have time to breath, much less pee, on most days. S’okay, though, the good days outweigh the bad, and that’s all that matters, right?
  2. My husband and I decided, after 2 years of trying to conceive a child with no luck, to start seeing a fertility specialist in March 2015. So far, so good with nothing truly wrong with any of our baby-making parts *whew* so we’re just taking it a month at a time and leaning on the specialist to get us through what’s turned out to be an emotionally difficult process.

So yeah, not blogging over the last year has allowed me enough time to rest and catch my breath and figure quite a few things out. And thank goodness because I’m baaaaack and feeling mighty refreshed and ready to rumble mingle again. 🙂

Stay tuned, as I’ll be posting writerly things on Mondays and randomness on Thursdays.

Oh, the Insanity!

Pic Credit: The Columnist.org

To describe the last few weeks as insane is an understatement. For realz. O.o As you’ve noticed, I’ve been so, so absent from blogging. Funnily enough, I’ve also been quite absent in my writing life as well. With a new job comes new tasks, new systems, and quite frankly, I’m no longer bored at the dayjob, lol. So instead of being bored I’m overwhelmed, and it looks like it’s going to remain this way for several months until I can establish processes that’ll bring things down to a “manageable” level.

But, in the meantime, there’s FANTASTIC news on the horizon. Not only have learned more about myself and my mental processes, but I’ve also learned an amazing plotting device from the ever-awesome and wonderful Charissa Weaks. And because of this I’ve not only been able to create a unique plot for a new book, but that plotting turned into–OMG–a trilogy. With series potential.

Yeah…so when I said insane, I seriously meant way above the idea of crazy, and way the hell across the world from the write-rubber-walled room. *grins*

Please bear with me while I gather what little sanity I have left. Sooner or later the muse will be in overdrive once more and there will be a LOT more posting happening. Especially a few posts on some of the research I have planned on London, witchcraft, and the occasional daemon. 😉

Writing Process Blog Hop: My Writing Process

Today I’m part of ‘The Writing Process’ Blog Hop! This post was supposed to be written and go live this morning, but when you’re little sister has a wedding happening in two weeks, things tend to slip (i.e: my blogging schedule *grin*). Nevertheless, I made it and here’s both the info on the blog hop and my writing process. 🙂

Author Kristin Nador graciously invited me to join. Kristin is a writer and a genealogy geek who loves cats. She can be found on her site, Kristin Nador Writes Anywhere, blogging about writing/creativity.

The blog hop asks 4 questions to each author about their writing process. Here are the questions and my answers:

1) What are you working on?

Right now I’m working on the first entry into a new paranormal romance series. The series’ working title is The Seven Kingdoms, and the title for this first book is not yet known, lol. We’re just going with “Book One” for right now. 😉

2) How does your work differ from others of this genre?

I believe it differs in that I’ve taken paranormal romance and shifted it a bit into the realm/setting of a high fantasy. So we get the feel of a pure paranormal romance while spending time in a new realm with beautiful landscapes infused with magical elements (think Laura Kaye’s Hearts of the Anemoi series meets Lord of the Rings).

3) Why do you want to write what you write?

Because I honestly can’t imagine not writing stories with a twist of the paranormal. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the “what if” in life… What if vampires and werewolves really exist? What if an angel came down from heaven and sat on my couch for a chat? What if, what if, what if? The strange and unusual and possible are an intricate part of my being, and as such, I have to infuse these elements into my writing.

Plus, who doesn’t like some hot and steamy romance? 😉

4) How does your writing process work?

Ugh… LOL. This is something I’m still discovering, but I can definitely say, with confidence, that I am a reformed pantser. Every time I pantsed a story, the structure and plot were so loose that revising and rewriting turned into such a wickedly difficult job in and of itself.

So as of today, my process stands as this: Take idea and flesh out the characters (write out GMC’s and find what makes them tick, their goals in life–both internal and external, and complete a romance conflict chart for the hero/heroine). Write out the major plot points for these characters’ story. Peruse Pinterest for character and setting inspiration. Plot out each and every scene using Scene and Sequel while creating a story-driven playlist. Write said scenes from beginning to end following the scene outlines. Go back and infuse setting and character descriptions. Prep to send to crit group and prepare for those suckers to bleed (in an awesome way, trust me). 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~

Now that I’ve answered the questions about my writing process, I’m supposed to tag three fellow authors to share their process. But as you can see, I’m a bit of a spaz/forgetful lady/totally crazy-busy person these days, lol. With that said, I invite you to please take part in this blog hop. Copy the questions and post your answers. Just don’t forget to tag me in your post so I can visit and say hey. 😉

What is your writing process like? What are your answers to the four questions? Please share in the comments. Happy Writing!

The Accountability Factor—Part One: The Family

Ahhh… Accountability. The state of being accountable. Liable. Answerable.

Online Webster’s Definition of Accountable

No matter which aspect in our lives we’re looking at, we’re all accountable to someone. And how we handle ourselves in response to the many demands accountability dumps on us is part of what defines us as individuals.

Today I wanted to look at one of the many areas of accountability in a writer’s life.

 THE FAMILY

Waking everyone up in the morning, prepping lunches for school/work, getting dinner on the table at six, running the household errands day after day… this just a sampling of the variety of tasks our family holds us accountable for on daily basis. But since we also wear the Author Hat, guess what else we’re accountable for?

Movement in our writing careers.

Whether the movement is finishing a novel that may never sit on a shelf in your local Barnes and Noble, or winning a writing contest, or starting the dreaded query process, or signing with an agent, etc…. We are accountable to our family to show some kind of movement in our journey to publishing success. After all, we are taking time away from them to play with write the stories in our heads into existence.

So what happens if a year goes by—or two or three or four or five—and we’re not seeing the movement the family would like? Or, more to the point, the movement we desperately want?

Sure, it’s easy to stress over the absence of advancement in our writing career. We’re the ones pouring our heart and souls into these books and characters and spending all this time away from the family in order to make our dream come true.

But you know what? I truly believe that just because we’re not seeing the movement we want doesn’t mean we’re not making strides in our writing career. A completely written and polished novel? A step forward. A queried novel that was rejected 20+ times? A step forward. These small accomplishments may not seem like much, but they are! And accomplishments, no matter how small or large, deserve a treat, don’t you think? *breaks out the chocolate and confetti*

Involve the Family

Sometimes simply talking about the writing process with our family shows them that we know we’re accountable to them. And many times we don’t even have to bring the topic up to them because they’ll ask us.

Husband/Wife/Mom/Dad/Sibling: “How’s the book coming along?”

Answer: “Well, I didn’t get any action off the queries I sent, so it looks like it’s just not the right time for that novel. I’m going to move forward and start plotting a new one this weekend.”

From there the questions can vary, but most times we’ll get asked why no one was interested in our novel, is it our writing, is it the agents. This opens a fantastic window to share the world of publishing and the many facets of perfect timing that we usually need to happen in order to take a leap forward (right story meets the right agent at the right time…right?). Once they understand a small portion of the pubbing industry, their need of seeing movement in our career is usually temporarily satisfied.

Be Open with the Family

Tell your family what’s going on. Especially the husband/wife. We can make them our sounding board for our frustrations. Just the simple act of sharing our angst over character difficulties, the excitement over a new story idea, the giddiness over an exceptional plot twist we just wrote… All of these satisfy a bit of the accountability we have to our families.

The only downside, obviously, is that we can’t control everything, can we? We can’t make the publishing world see the golden nugget that is our novel. We can’t force an agent to concentrate 100% of their attention on our query and opening pages. We can’t Professor X an editor at a NY publishing house to offer us the four-book deal we’ve dreamed of.

All we can do is our personal best. Learning the craft, utilizing what we’ve learned, writing the best novels and queries and blurbs possible. All of these are in our control. And all of these are how we are accountable to our families.

We need to put our best idea forward and go as far up the road to publishing as we can with that idea. If we do that, we’re not letting the family down whatsoever. And because they’re our family, they will be proud of us no matter what!

What do you think? How else are we accountable to our family? Do you have any other tips to share?

Tune-In Tuesday: Magic by Coldplay

Today’s song was chosen because it’s on the soundtrack to the new WIP I’m working on… Where the sexy hero is from a magical realm of The Seven Kingdoms.

I can’t tell you how many times I listened to this song while writing the inciting incident and first plot point. I just love it that much. 🙂

Enjoy!

 

Release Day Q & A with M.D. Waters

Something HUGE is happening in the book world today!

Know what it is? Oh, never mind…’cause I’m gonna tell ya anyway. 😀

ARCHETYPE by M.D. Waters releases today!

You may remember I posted about this fantastic SciFi/Thriller back in the summer as part of the Where in the World is ARCHETYPE blog tour. And I’m as much in love with this book now as I was back then. *grins*

So today I not have the book blurb to share with you–again–but I also have a quick Q & A with the author, M.D. Waters.

Enjoy!

*****

ArchetypeIntroducing a breathtakingly inventive futuristic suspense novel about one woman who rebels against everything she is told to believe.

 Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .

The first novel in a two-part series, Archetype heralds the arrival of a truly memorable character—and the talented author who created her.

*****

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series for its world building, and anything Richelle Mead because of how she handles romance. I love to hate her cliffhangers.

What genre do you consider your book(s)?

Hahaha, I feel like this is a trick question. It’s been a lot of things from the very beginning. Speculative, scifi, romance, thriller, dystopian… Pick one and you’ll probably be right.

What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

I write what I love. That’s it. If the idea sounds fun, then I do it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Not a single thing. Now that I have the distance, and can read it as a reader, I love it. I’m darn proud of it.

How did you come up with the title?

The original title was a no-brainer, but hinted to the big reveal so we won’t talk about that one. Actually, I (and the girls at my agency and publisher) spent a ton of time with the thesaurus. We took the original title and looked for similar words that weren’t as obvious. Then Cathy Yardley suggested ARCHETYPE to me on Facebook, because she’d helped me through submission coaching and knew the direction I needed. It was perfect, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I think what I want my readers to know is that I didn’t go into writing this novel with the intent of making any kind of statement. The story is causing some pretty intense feelings for some, and the assumptions of my “plan” or “theme” are strange to me. My only plan was to write something enjoyable. No theme, because themes are evil in my world. I’m definitely asking you to suspend belief for 300+ pages, because I’m not writing a world that exists. Just enjoy it.

*****

P.S.–In case you need it while drowning in all the glorious edge-of-your-seat-thrillery of ARCHETYPE, here’s a Do Not Disturb sign I created a few months back. 😉

do-not-disturb-im-reading-archetype-by-md-waters

 

Tune-In Tuesday: Follow Me by Muse

Yes, I’ve been absent for quite a while. But I have a really great excuse. And I’m returning with music. 😉

I won MCRW’s Melody of Love Contest in the Paranormal category, and with that win I received a FULL manuscript request from an editor. SQUEE! So now I’m on an oh so damn tight deadline. So I’ll most likely continue to be in and out online for another few weeks.

So…now for the song of the week. 🙂

Enjoy!