maybe this year will be better than the last

And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean
I guess I should

I've been humming this song on and off for over a month, especially that lyric up there in the header. Yeah, here we are in 2017, and maybe, just maybe, this year will be better than the last. I certainly hope so. But so far, it's been pretty bleak. Is it really February 1st? That song needs a follow-up called, A Super-Quick January. Maybe not as catchy. Or as sorrowful. But hey, you never know what's going to be popular these days.

This is really just an update post because I've been negligent in my blogging. Okay, not exactly negligent, more like way too busy with writing and editing and all things work-while-you-can-if-you-want-to-finish-this-book. It's coming along though. Really well, actually. And I'm excited to maybe share some of that with you soon--an excerpt from my first adult romance, and whoa, it's really adult! Okay, that makes is sound fifty shades of naughty, and it's not, though it's pretty sexy, and real, and raw, and fun, and full of all the things I personally love in a good romance. Sizzling attraction, long-burning friends to lovers, tough external conflict, and just enough darkness to make it feel not-too-sweet. I'm so happy with the characters, both main and secondary and I've already got ideas for three more books set in this town. This has definitely spun into the kind of thing where I'm noticing further stories that need to be told. Are practically screaming to be told. And I love it when that happens. 

I'm also psyched about some ideas I have for my next book, after this one is finished (and hopefully on submission somewhere it will be loved). I'm excited to keep chugging along, making 2017 count for something strong. For the first time ever, I've booked myself a little writing retreat, happening soon, a weekend away from interruptions, a chance to make some serious progress on this first draft as I push it toward the conclusion. I have a very good feeling about this, though I will be a little sad to be away from the kids. Of course, I'll also relish in the peace and quiet, the chance to fully lose myself in what I'm writing. I can't remember the last time I was able to do that. And I have a feeling that though this is the first time I'm doing a writing weekend like this, it almost definitely won't be the last. Sometimes we need that time, to breathe life into our creations in ways that require our full concentration. Also, a hotel bed all to myself and no alarm to wake me. Sounds pretty damn sweet. 

But until then, I have delightful freelance editing to attend to. And more plans with regards to that in 2017 as well. But that's for another post, another day. Happy February! As you clear snow of your car/face/whatever, just remember, we're slowly inching toward Spring! 


publishing journey reflections & goodbye 2016

I feel the need to preface this post with a cheerful holiday greeting. Because this is going to be reflective, and at times negative, but overall, it's the holiday season, and while things don't feel quite as merry and bright this year as they have in the past, my heart is easily infected by holiday cheer. And an affection for dancing snowmen. Those two things are in there along with everything else. But I'm also kinda ready for this year to be over.

I realize we still have a few weeks to go, and 2016 might still do something awful to further bring us down. But I'm ready to say goodbye to it anyway. It's interesting year. I won't get into all the reasons 2016 has been challenging for the world--all somebody has to do is browse around online to see the news coverage, memes, and general complaints about what a hard year it's been. But I will say, it's been something of a rollercoaster for me. World issues aside, I'm ending this year feeling...tired. At least, that's one word for it. I've rolled a few options around in my brain and "discouraged" doesn't quite feel right, though I've had days when I definitely was. Still, it doesn't capture the feeling quite the way "tired" does. Or the way "worn down" does. It's been another year of balancing hope vs. disappointment until disappointment ultimately won out. And eventually, inevitably, that starts to grow roots.

It's been about seven years since I set out with the goal of being published. It's been four since I signed on with my agent, who continues to be amazing, and has patiently stood by me as I wrote book after book, to mostly positive reception, but not a single offer. The first year was hard--it saw what was arguably the biggest heartbreak as we got as close as you can get to receiving an offer only for it to not pan out. But I soldiered on because I was only a few months in at the time. I had a lot of hope. I still do, but year after year, it gets harder. I think that's only natural. Time wears things down. It wears people down. It makes old heartbreaks hurt less, but it also causes hope to fade year after year. I don't hope the same way I used to. I don't expect anything to happen. My best defense has always been to keep writing. As long as I'm looking ahead, I can't afford to spend much time looking back. But when you're on a journey, even if you keep your eyes forward, eventually your legs start to feel tired. That's where I am now. Still looking ahead, my eyes still on a goal I want as much as I ever did, but my muscles feel weary. I know stopping isn't an option if I want to reach my destination, but there's also a tiny voice in my head that's whispering, "You'll fail if you stop, but you might also be walking forever."

That's less likely if I keep trying. I know that. I know if I keep writing books, and keep working hard, and keep reaching, odds are, something will work out. But knowing the odds are probably in my favour--and knowing if all else fails, hell, I can just self-publish my books and at least people will be able to read them--doesn't stop me from feeling run down. It doesn't stop me from ending this year feeling like I failed on some level.

In reality, I've accomplished a lot this year. Freelancing and parenting aside, I finished a contemporary YA in the summer which I really enjoyed writing, and I think it's a compelling and quite lovely story. The adult romance I started for NaNoWriMo has been a refreshing experience--one I probably needed after writing several YAs that haven't gained traction. I'm excited to continue working on it into 2017. I'm excited to see if I have more luck with it than I've had with my YAs. In a way, I hope so, but YA is where my heart lies, so I still strive for success there too, even if it's a tough genre to break into. I'm enjoying writing the adult romance, but YA is what I want to write. It's where my voice feels strongest. And I have enough ideas to last me a long time yet. Which is another reason I know I'll keep going for a long time to come. I'll keep trying. I love writing. I love the time I spend doing it, and I love reading over what I've written, feeling like I've created something magical. I just hope that other aspect of it--the part where I get to share it with the world--comes along sooner than later. Because I do feel worn down. And I could really use a boost. 

It's arbitrary, the start of a new year. But I face it armed with the clean slate we all try to carry into January. The rejection of 2016 can't directly touch me there, even if it's left me battered. Whenever something doesn't happen one year, it might happen the next. It might. It also might not. But I can't know that. I can only try. So that's what I'll do.

I don't like being negative. I'm not a negative person by nature. But there's a line I wrote in my contemporary YA, IT FALLS APART, that says, "You can’t be optimistic until you’re finished being sad." Sometimes you just need to get it out of your system. And then you begin again.

If you've made it to the end of this post, thank you for reading--and thank you for visiting me here on the blog throughout the year. The site itself has gone through some changes as I've had to make adjustments since relaunching it almost a year ago. I'll be continuing to make more changes in 2017, and hope you'll keep me company as my writing and publishing journey continues. I hope your heart is full of joy and peace and kindness this holiday season. I hope you carry that with you into the new year--I think we're going to need it. And if you have a little optimism to spare, I'll gladly take it off your hands :)

the dog's breakfast

Where did all these cookies come from? Photo credit: Zorik07
This post has gone through several incarnations--actually, I shouldn't even say it was a single post because at one point it was going to be three different posts, but as the title suggests, I've decided to throw up my hands and cobble them together into some sort of Frankenpost.

It's been about three months since my last update, and though most of the people reading this will probably have some idea of what's been going on with me because of Facebook, I figured I might as well post a rundown here for posterity's sake. And it being Friday and all, let's do this Friday5 style, shall we?

But only kinda.
1. I'm moving to the country (gonna eat a lot of peaches...does anybody even remember that song?) Yep. Let's get the biggie out of the way first. We all know how stressful and time consuming moving can be. Throw on top of that the fact that we weren't exactly planning on moving (until we suddenly fell in love with a house) and, well, let's just say everything is a bit chaotic at the moment. If I'm not chasing my children around (my actual full time job), I'm making lists and checking them twice--wait, that's not right--it's more like making spreadsheets and cross-referencing everything eight thousand times. And packing, and scheduling, and packing, and painting, and packing. I won't bore you with all the details, but on top of the usual moving stuff (and our family has doubled in size since we last moved), there's also all the getting our current house ready to sell in a timely manner stuff, because again, we weren't exactly planning on this happening...

2. Which brings me to update #2: because of the sudden decision to move out of the city, I've also made the extremely difficult decision to not return to my position as an assistant editor at Harlequin. I have A LOT of thoughts and feeling about this decision, but rather than wade too far into the deep end, I'll sum them up as best I can by saying this whole moving/not returning to work thing has been very bittersweet. I'm definitely excited about our new home and the opportunities it presents (see #3 below), but Harlequin (specifically MIRA, and then HQN) has been my home away from home for seven years and there aren't enough positive words in the dictionary to describe the amazing, talented people I'll no longer be working alongside. I'm going to miss them tremendously. So yeah, BITTERSWEET. 

3. The decision to make the above life changes has left me with the occasional sinking feeling this might end up being a huge mistake, but for the most part, something about it just feels right. Call it a gut feeling. Part of that has to do with us settling in a nice little community just as my daughter is about to start kindergarten, but it also has to do with the opportunity it presents regarding my ambition to build a career as an author. Writing has always been something I've dreamed I'd one day get to devote my primary (work) focus on, and now I have the chance to explore that. Is it a huge gamble? Definitely. But sometimes you have to take a chance, and bet on yourself. This next phase of our lives feels like the right time for me to do that and if it doesn't work out, it certainly won't be for lack of effort or drive. Please keep your fingers crossed for me :)

4. Speaking of writing, that brings me to my next update: my WIP, THIS HIDEOUS HEART is finished, and while I don't usually like to talk about the submission process on this blog, I'll just say that it's out in the world, looking for a home. I'm really happy with how this one turned out (not that I'm not happy with how all of them turned out) and I really, really hope I'll get the opportunity to share it with you some day soon! My next project is the one I'd been working on before the lightbulb that was THH went off, stealing all my attention away. It's a summer camp story--I was a HUGE fan of summer camp style stories as a kid (Baby-Sitters Club Super Specials anyone?) and I can't wait until the bulk of this moving stuff is out of the way so that I can dive in. It's a contemporary YA romance, with hints of mystery, humour and a lot of heart. The working title is, SUMMER CAMP SUCKS WHEN YOU'RE FAT, and it fits the tone of the story so well I don't plan on changing it anytime soon :) More updates on that to come. And in fact, more everything to come. Once this move is over, I'll be in the position to actually, truly, once and for all, get back to a regular blog schedule--another benefit of all these life changes.

5. Okay, this has nothing to do with me specifically beyond the fact that I'm totally hooked. Can we please talk about iZombie? Because I'm in love. I knew I would totally dig this show because, hello, Rob Thomas is a supercrazyawesome genius, but he has somehow surpassed my expectations, meshing the best elements of Veronica Mars with Warm Bodies. In true Rob Thomas style, season one ended with a bang, and I can not wait for season two. So good, you guys. SO GOOD.

Bonus TV-related bullet point: Yes, I'm loving PLL's #summerofanswers. The drama is at an all time high, and my Haleb shipper heart is giving Hot Caleb all the awards for best boyfriend ever. If I can manage it, I'll try to do a Pretty Little Recap or two in the coming weeks, especially if something truly explosive happens. But no guarantees. Seriously, you guys should see all the boxes and moving crap surrounding my desk right now....

So, that's all for now. I'll be back with more in the coming weeks/months/etc, hopefully with an update about SUMMER CAMP SUCKS's progress, and maybe a taste of THIS HIDEOUS HEART since I'm proud and want to share. Until then, I'll just shamelessly sign your yearbook with, "Have a great summer!" ;)