shake it off.

Yesterday I received my first paycheck from Amazon. I am crazy proud of myself. I spent the last ten years growing my family and finding ways to help my kids from hard places heal. It took so long to find ways to carve out space for my dream, but I did it. I’m doing it.

My blog is titled The Lovely Messy— because it is with no uncertainty, the story of my life. So much loveliness in the midst of the mess. The same time I had my check deposited, a writer friend gently messaged me, informing me about another blog, Kindle Cover Disasters, where Flicker was featured. Oh, my heart. I cried for a moment (or maybe two), because it is humbling— this putting myself out there, allowing people room to judge me— in all my inadequacies.

My skin is growing thicker, for sure, but my heart is also growing with gratitude. So many people have held my hand through this journey toward publication and I am amazed at the beautiful community of writers in so many corners of the internet. After learning about my cover-disaster, a friend/writer/designer offered to help me with the Flicker cover. And remember that copyediting drama a month or so ago? After reading my post, a lovely friend/editor/writer offered to clean up For Sure & Certain out of the kindness of her heart. I am blown away by the generous people in this world. So I’m channeling Taylor Swift the very best I can: Shake It Off. Because really, what else can I do? I’ve worked too damn hard to let the haters win now.

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Then I stopped at a mini-mart on the way home from picking the kids up from school and bought a cheap bottle of champagne. I toasted my paycheck, the making of dreams come true, the people who are in it with me, and this lovely-messy life I have the privilege of living.

xo, anya

MY RECKLESS RELEASE #7

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I am beyond thrilled to share my new release, Love Rewards The Brave, with you!

(eBook available HERE, the paperback will be available in a few days! )

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Keeping her brother Benji warm, fed, and away from their father is Louisa’s only goal in life. When the state steps in and places them in separate foster homes, her world falls apart.

Louisa-in-crisis discovers slam poetry. The spoken word performances reveal people sharing pieces of themselves on stage for the world to hear. The transparency she sees frightens her but also holds the key to her future…if she’s brave enough to give her story a voice.

***

Thank you for your support throughout this journey. I am humbled by the graciousness of the readers who have found my stories and by the friends and family who have walked beside me as my champions.

A few weeks ago a friend asked me out for dinner to celebrate my Reckless Release. She brought a copy of Flicker that she’d purchased, and asked for my autograph. It was the first book I’ve ever been asked to sign and it was one of those moments I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I felt seen and known. I felt loved.

It reminded me to look for ways I can “see” other people in my day-to-day life. To look for ways I can step out of myself and let love in. Love Rewards is all about bravery— and the gift it offers. Let’s help one another find it.

With Gratitude,

Anya

The day I cut my finger (& my hair)

This reckless release I keep talking about is not just about books! I knew going into 2015 that at some point I’d  chop off my locks! I’ve worn my hair in dreadlocks for 5 years, and though I lovelovelove them, I also knew it was time. The past five years have been heavy, and I was ready for light. I  was ready to release.

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So, on Wednesday morning I did! Eek! I still can’t believe I did it. I joked on facebook that I’m having an identity crisis and in part, it’s the truth. I went to Target yesterday to buy a brush. Things are different. It’s like, Who am I? Oh, yeah. I’m a girl who now uses conditioner.

Maybe an identity crisis is a bit of an exaggeration. But anyone who knows me knows I live on hyperbole.

I’d like to say I’m ohmygosh happy. But I’m also kinda sad. It’s kinda like when a book you love ends. You’re so glad you read it, but still sad it’s over. But you wouldn’t for a moment change the fact you read it. Or want to live without knowing the ending. Although, I mean, I didn’t have to end this, I just wanted to…Okay, so I’m not that great at my own real-life-metaphors. That’s why I don’t write memoirs.

However! I did need to do this. It was time. I knew that. It’s just, time is weird, you know? For example, when I finally decided Wednesday morning that TODAY WAS THE DAY, I got home at 10:00 from taking kids to school and the grocery store, then called a local salon and asked if they had any availability. They said I could come in at eleven and they’d style my freshly shorn hair.

I didn’t have much time. I needed to chop off the dreads before I came in because that was just not something I wanted to do with anyone else. It was personal. But also, I knew it was kinda gross. Because even if you think dreadlocks look good on some people, it’s still just a bunch of dead hair hanging on in clumps. It’s not like, Wow, let me run my hands through them!

Unless you are a kind of creepy guy at a dance club. Creepy dance club guys LOVE to touch dreadlocks. Trust me on this.

So, I went to the bathroom with scissors and a hardcore Spotify playlist on tap, but after I cut a few dreads and attempted to comb out what was left of them, I realized I only had twenty minutes left. I was taking my time and it was giving me a panic attack. Like, WHAT AM I DOING? And I couldn’t stop, because I started in the front knowing I’d chicken out otherwise.

At this point I knew  needed to just go for it. I switched the music to Katy Perry’s ROAR and turned it all the way up and opened the bathroom window to feel the cold air and just started hacking. Two minutes later it was gone. It was reckless. Just like I needed it to be. I even cut my index finger. That is not a hyperbole.

Ready for the after shot?????!!!!

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<3 Happy weekend friends— be brave. be reckless. be you. <3

xoxo,

anya

#YASH!

YASH INFO

Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt! I’m super excited to be in on this action! It’s kinda confusing BUT HANG WITH ME! IT WILL BE WORTH IT! The prizes are CRAZY GOOD! This bi-annual event, organized as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Pink Team

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PINK team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by APRIL 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. You have to submit your entry by April 5, noon, Pacific Standard Time. You can submit your entry for each team HERE.
So let’s DO THIS THING!
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I’m hosting the lovely Melissa Giorgio on my site for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
Melissa Giorgio is a native New Yorker who graduated from Queens College with a degree in English. She’s always dreamed of being a writer and has been creating stories (mostly in her head) since she was a little girl. Also an avid reader, Melissa loves to devour thick YA novels. When not reading or writing, she enjoys watching animated films, listening to music by her favorite Japanese boy band, or exploring Manhattan.
Find out more by checking out her author website or find out more about her book here!
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
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It’s been two months since Gabi Harkins first learned of demons and the mysterious hunters who battle them. After discovering a few unbelievable surprises about herself, she simply wants to settle into a normal routine that involves dating her boyfriend Rafe Fitzgerald, hanging out with her friends, and eating lots of dessert. But when her peaceful life is destroyed by the ultimate of betrayals, Gabi must rely on her wits—and a few new crazy friends—to survive her hardest challenges yet.

The sequel to The Sight Seer combines action, romance, and a healthy dose of humor as Gabi struggles to learn the truth about the secrets that surround her life.
For Melissa’s exclusive content, she’s sharing with us a short story from her novel, The Soul Healer. It takes place during Chapter 44, and is told from the point-of-view of Kain Wentworth.

***

Our Moment

Something was wrong.

I sensed it the moment I set foot inside of HQ. The New York building was covered in wards meant to keep normal humans from poking their noses where they didn’t belong. The spells are subtle, so subtle, in fact, most hunters don’t notice them either. I do, but that’s because I’m extraordinary when it comes to magic.

I’m not bragging; I’m simply stating a fact. If you’re skilled with magic, you’re going to notice the spells. I’m sure even that ignoramus Underwood notices them.

See? I’m also generous. I just paid that prat a compliment.

Getting back to the matter at hand.

The spells were still there, and yet I’d just battled a demon in the lobby of HQ. That should not have happened.

If it’d been a few misplaced tourists, I would have dealt with them by turning on the charm, seducing them with my accent (which I’d been hiding by affecting an American accent, but it appears a certain Philip James Adler enjoys my English accent, so I’m done with hiding it), and they’d be on their merry way.

But a demon? A demon is a whole other story.

Something was, indeed, wrong.

As much as I enjoyed showing off my skills in front of Gabiella, the moment Rafe turned up, I made my way to the elevator. When I’d last been to HQ, I thought I was seeing Gabiella and Philip off. Instead, they’d been caught, and while Gabiella was here and relatively unharmed, I wondered, where was Philip?

I pressed the button for his floor eagerly. What would his face look like when I rescued him? I was hoping he’d stare at me in awe, and then proceed to tell me how wonderful and brave I was.

That’s what any normal person would do, I figured.

The elevator doors slid open and I stepped into the hallway, softly whistling a merry tune. I still clutched my rapier in my right hand, and the blade was marred with the spider-demon’s green blood. That brute had been nasty, and I appreciated Rafe showing up when he did. I hadn’t wanted to embarrass myself in front of Gabiella; that would have been awful.

While I’d never been inside Philip’s room, I knew where it was located. I strode the corridors confidently, but when I turned the corner, I halted.

Jonathan something-or-other (I never cared enough to remember his last name) stood in my way, glowering.

“Oh, dear,” I said. “Any chance you’ll step aside?” I held up a hand. “Actually, wait. Never mind. I don’t want you to step aside.”

Jonathan scoffed. “And why not? You think you’re going to beat me, British?”

“First of all, I’m English,” I said sternly (these Americans were so ignorant, I swear). “And secondly, yes. Of course. We both know I’m a thousand times more powerful than you. Honestly, Jonathan.” I shook my head sadly. “How could you forget something as important as that?”

He plucked a knife from his belt and took a step closer. “I never did like you.” A pause. “British.”

“Now you’re doing it on purpose.” While I didn’t mind explaining to Jonathan how very wrong he was about everything (it was a sacrifice people of higher intellect like myself were forced to make on a daily basis), time was of the essence. Gabiella and Rafe were waiting for me, and I’d very much like to find Philip so the four of us could vacate HQ before any more demons decided to break through the wards. I tightened my grip on my rapier—

And was forced to fall to the floor as Jonathan flung his knife at me. My eyes narrowed. He was playing dirty.

He was going to regret that.

I stood, leaving my rapier on the floor as I dusted myself off. “I know what you did last night.”

“Oh, you mean stopping your little friends from leaving?” Jonathan smiled wolfishly. “That was good, wasn’t it?”

“No, I meant the part about hitting Philip with magic when you know he’s sensitive to it.” I’d dropped my American accent without realizing it, and I wondered if the other hunter could understand me. Well, that was all right. He would understand this.

I lifted my hands and blasted the bloke with magic. He never had a chance. Crashing into the wall, Jonathan fell to the floor in a crumpled mess.

I was a little disappointed when he didn’t get up. That’s it? I shrugged. I was a thousand times more powerful than him. “I did tell you I was stronger, you know,” I said, picking up my rapier and stepping over him.

There was a spell placed on Philip’s room, preventing him from leaving. I smiled grimly. His father really was a douche-dick. Hovering over the doorknob, I shut my eyes and reached out with my magic. It was a nasty piece of work, but I could get around it.

As I worked, I could hear murmurs through the wood, and I wondered who was in Philip’s bedroom. For some reason, that made me jealous, and that feeling was so surprising that my magic faltered. I opened my eyes, silently chastising myself. That’s when I recognized the other voice: Scott (whose last name I also neither knew nor cared to know).

I couldn’t believe I’d wasted a moment being jealous of Scott. I know, I know. Let’s never speak of this again.

As the magic starting sizzling, Scott’s voice grew louder. My mouth widened into a grin, and I hoped Philip was watching closely (but was smart enough to stay away from the hissing door) since I wouldn’t be able to witness what happened next.

I let loose, my magic ripping apart Charles’s, and was met with a resounding explosion. I waited for the smoke to clear, and my grin grew when I saw Scott sprawled out on Philip’s floor, his limbs all akimbo. “Oh, bloody hell, that is one great pose.” Philip had been in the process of taking a photo of Scott, and I dashed into the room. “Wait, take one with me next to him.” I actually wanted to ask Philip to join me—it would be the selfie to end all selfies—but at the last moment, my nerves failed me.

That was shocking. My nerves never failed me. Ever.

And yet Philip was different. I’d known that for a while, but it wasn’t until working alongside him to help Gabiella that I realized how much…

How much…

How much I bloody wanted to kiss him.

He was staring at me, his mouth hanging slightly open, and it would be so damn easy. I felt myself reaching for him—

And then I remembered where I was, and why I was there.

Gabiella. Rafe. And a dead demon in HQ that definitely did not belong there.

I shook my head. “Wait, what are we doing? This is no time to be fooling around, Philip! I just saved Gabiella from a demon!” I jumped to my feet, picking up my rapier again.

There would be time to talk to Philip later. A time to tell him about my feelings.

No matter what came next, I would make sure we had our moment together.

***
Awesome, Melissa! Thanks for sharing your extra scene with us!
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win books by me, Melissa Giorgio, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is —->6 <—— !!!!! Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the pink team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
CONTINUE THE HUNT:
To keep going on your quest for the prize, you need to check out the next author, Janeal Falor!
MY BONUS FOR THE HUNT: 
Leave a comment below about the best book you’ve recently read and I’ll draw a random winner for a copy of my novel THE DREAM CATCHER (comments closed after April 5th). Your choice, paper back or ebook. <3 Happy Hunting!

MY RECKLESS RELEASE #6!

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Remember my post the other day wondering if things getting easier? I’m here to tell you, they do. When I released For Sure & Certain on February 5th I was an anxious wreck. For example, I refreshed my Amazon dashboard every hour (aka every ten minutes). And now? Now I’m just like, this is plain ‘ole fun. There’s no anxiety sweeping through me. Just gratitude to be able to share something I wrote with the world. And like, possibly have people read it.

Last weekend I did a free promo for For Sure & Certain and had 3,000 downloads. That’s a lot of readers with my books loaded on their Kindles, just waiting for a lazy weekend afternoon to dive into the story. This is surreal. This is the release I’ve been looking for.

And now? Now I’m releasing book six!

HEART OF STONE!

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I have several early readers  of my novels, these are the people I rely on for help with plot development and suggestions on how to make things “hook-ier”. These people are my champions and I think they are some of the coolest people ever, and not just because they are willing to read whatever I throw at them. (But that too:))

Lots of those people swear Heart of Stone is their favorite book I’ve written thus far. If you haven’t wanted to take a chance on my contemporary stuff, or if a post-apocalyptic-cult isn’t your style, maybe this is. It’s different than the other stuff I’ve released this year. Heart of Stone is an original fairy tale adventure with a treasure hunt and a lost princess with lots of French (kissing, among other things). It takes place in the fictional country of Gemmes and is dripping with precious jewels and bohemians and Gem Trackers and royalty.

Let me know if you read it, love it or hate it! Spread the love by leaving a review on Amazon, the more I receive the more likely I am to garner some promotional opportunities. (Lots of promo sites require x amount of reviews before being eligible. This is something I never knew before I dove into publishing.)

As always, my heart is full, I am embracing this. The embarrassing parts and the smile inducing parts and parts where I can let out the breath I’ve been holding for so long. That’s what this Reckless Release is about. Letting go and putting myself out there. Thanks for being along for the ride! <3

EASIER?

Image-1Jeremy turned to me last night and asked, Will it ever get easier?

He was asking because I’d just received a (second!) review for For Sure & Certain commenting about the grammatical errors, and was mortified. I’d paid a copy editor and didn’t expect this to be an issue. Yet it is. Because the editor made mistakes, like we all make mistakes. Just because it’s our job doesn’t mean we always do it perfectly.

Can I get an AMEN on that? Holy cow, I know we all mess up, at least I do. Like, a lot. For example, I added a quote, last minute, to the FRONT PAGE of that same novel with an IT’S instead of an ITS, hit publish, and then had a cousin email telling me about the error. HEAD ON DESK. Or how about the mistakes I make as a mother? Like when I made the judgement call that my son was well enough to go to school after recovering from our never-ending-bug, only to have the school nurse call me to come get him. Twice in as many weeks. Or in my job as a wife, when I *promised* to call the plumber about the shower that is leaking (and by leaking I mean flooding, it ruined the flooring in the new remodel, putting the entire bathroom out of commission, which really is a mistake the plumber made, which really just points out how often we all make mistakes!), but then forgot to dial his number for several days in a row.

Ugh. Mistakes happen. Life goes on. We may lose a reader or a second shower or our dignity (with the school nurse), but we make it. We pull up the bootstraps and figure it out.

And yes, I think it gets easier. Dealing with the mistakes, the missteps, the hiccups in our plans. Because we have to, otherwise what happens? We can’t flail around crying *all* the time. ;)

//So, what’s your most embarrassing mistake?//

 

 

WORK ATTIRE

Working at home is a strange thing. There are no requirements for a dress code or well, anything. Still, because of my family, I get out of bed in the morning which is probably a good thing, there are always lunches to pack, breakfasts to make, and kids to drive to school. For a while I would just slide on some shoes with a to-go cup of coffee in my hand and pull up at the kids drop off without leaving the car. This way I could return home, don some slippers, and work on my books.

A few months ago I changed my habits.

Every morning I have like 20 minutes of dead time between when I drop off the big kids until I drop off my preschooler. We usually stop in an empty parking lot and read a book, play the iPhone, or whatever. Well, one day Atticus was watching a movie on the DVD player, so the van was still running. When it was time for school I put the car in reverse to leave the parking lot.

The car rolled forward and I was like, UGHHH. I tried again and it wouldn’t start.

I didn’t know what the deal was, but I was 98% sure it had to do with the gaslight that came on while I was sitting in the parking lot. Thankfully I was a block from a four-way intersection, a very, very busy one.  There were two gas stations in walking distance, but sadly no gas can in my trunk.

Also, as I looked down, I realized I was dressed in really weird clothing. An old ripped sweatshirt, a pair of yoga pants and knee high moccasins. And no bra— because Anya.

So I did what I had to do. I took my kid’s hand and trudged across the street, waiting diligently at the crosswalk (I’m a  role model) and got to the first gas station. When I asked where they kept the gas cans the attendant looked at me like I was a weirdo for asking for gas. At a gas station. And maybe that is all on me because I was pretty mortified to be walking in town in pj’s, but she literally told me, “We just sold out.”

Who sells out of gas cans? Like, how is that a thing?

I went back to the crosswalk, got to the second gas station and luckily they had one can. One can. (Lesson here is that gas cans are precious items to covet.) A MUCH friendlier man helped me, apologized that he didn’t have one I could borrow, told me he like my hair (which was not cute. I promise) and said he hoped my car started “real quick like” so I could come back and fill my tank. Which kind of weirded me out because he was about 1000x nicer than the woman at the other station and I really regretted not wearing a bra at this point.

The car started, I went back and filled my van with gas (without making eye contact). Got the kiddo to school and came home and promised myself to never leave the house without at least putting on undergarments.

I called my sister that morning and she was like, “Anya, Nonna always said never to leave the house without a bra!'” and I wondered how I missed this grandmotherly advice? But I had. And I would never make the mistake again.

At dinner we always go around the table and give our High/Low of the day. Obviously my Low was easy. Phoenix (my oldest son) was like, “What’s the big deal? We live in Bremerton, half the people wear their pajamas in public.”

Which I realized is true, and makes me a little sad for my town.

The moral is, I’m no longer such a stereotypical work-at-home person. I get dressed everyday. I am not the weirdo crossing the street that you point at while you’re driving to work, wondering if she owns any jeans.

What do you wear to work? And have you ever run out of gas?

MY RECKLESS RELEASES: 3, 4, and 5!

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The trilogy is FINALLY FOR SALE!

Flicker (.99 through 3/8), Glimmer (3.99), Glow (3.99)

I originally planned on spacing these releases two weeks apart, but last week I decided what the heck? I love reading a series back-to-back and thought you might too. So here are my babies, out in the big, wide world.

I’ll be honest, releasing these books is way harder than the last two. Like way.

The other night I kinda had a melt down on the bleachers at the kids swimming lessons. I was up at the top, my back against the wall, tears in my eyes. (I feel like when I come here I mention a lot of crying, which isn’t entirely reflective of my day-to-day life. Maybe I just blog about the bigger stuff, and my big stuff usually involves tears.)

These tears were a combination of things. Our house has been sick for last week and a half. Well, 7/8th’s of us at least. Maisey has the strongest immune system known to man. I felt *behind* my self imposed schedule because I lost days while we were out of commission.

And then I had a few people weigh in on my book covers (after I asked them to) and I got crazy insecure.

The thing is, I know they aren’t perfect. The printed versions are a little fuzzy, and I’m working on that. Also, while I had the funds to hire a copy editor and proofreader, a graphic designer wasn’t in the budget. So I get it. They aren’t amazing. They won’t win awards. But I don’t need them to win awards, I need them to entice a reader to take a chance on me, an unknown author. I’m not convinced they are doing their job.

So I was all flummoxed over how to fix the Flicker, Glimmer, and Glow covers before they were released. Because even though they are gender neutral (which is something I value), I know they are a bit vague, and that people in general aren’t in love with them (me included). There I was on the bleachers, panicking. Because guys, I’ve literally never worked on something as hard as I worked on this trilogy. I was releasing them, which in and of itself is scary, and on top of that I doubted the covers— well, cue the tears because that’s when they started rolling.

I wanted these covers to be perfect because I want people to read the story inside. The story that has seen a lot of rejection, but a story I still believe in. Later, explaining all this to Jeremy, he gently reminded me that the intent of all this wasn’t perfection, it was about the RELEASE, and that is enough.

The story within the imperfect covers is what I want to share, what I hope readers find. And while I’m currently scouring the internet for good prices and good artists so I can hopefully update the covers over time, maybe I won’t find the perfect thing.  Maybe it will be a good-enough thing. Maybe it’s another part of my lovely-messy life journey. Obtaining perfection isn’t realistic or guaranteed. What is?

The only guarantee is that I can choose how I want this process of publishing to change me, mold me. It can weaken me if I let insecurity, fear, and judgement weigh me down. Or I can allow it to refine, strengthen, and fortify me as a woman and a writer. As a mother and a friend. It kinda sucks to realize how much these *imperfect* covers affect the way I see myself. I don’t like it, the way I allowed myself to become so small when I decided my worth was hinged to an image on a book.

The work we put into being brave is never done, it’s all a process. These covers and this release is another part of that. I’m grateful I decided to do the reckless release this year because I’m forced to learn more about myself. What drives me? What terrifies me? What makes me strong? So much of it is a mental exercise. The positive truths we tell ourselves or the lies we choose to believe.

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I want to remember the truth, hold tight to the good. In Flicker Lucy wants to face the light, she wants to see the sun. Me too. I want that too.

With gratitude,

Anya

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“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”

-Henry David Thoreau

(p.s. Up top on my site there is a tab to join my mailing list. If you are interested in receiving my newsletter and are not currently getting it, join! I feel very official to have figured it all out<3)

my reckless release 2.0

reckless dream catcherThe Dream Catcher is available now in paperback and as a kindle ebook!

I am crazy excited about this release, and in celebration I am offering a chance to win an Amazon gift card over at this blog or at this one! Check it out!

Also, look how cute this outfit is by Fashion By The Book!

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Here’s an excerpt I wanted to share! Enjoy, and let me know what you think! <3

I followed him past the sweat lodge, which smelled like leather and freshly dug earth, with a large fire pit about twenty feet from the entrance. Delsin told me to not walk across it, but rather around the pit, and I obliged. Obviously. I wasn’t interested in ruining his ancient customs or anything.

I followed him as we wove through some trees and down a small hill. I could hear the water before I saw it, and Delsin kept looking back at me, each glance reassuring me.

When we got to the edge of the water, I realized it was a lot more than a creek.

“This is like, way cooler than a stream. This is gorgeous,” I said to him, standing by his side. His arms were crossed and he looked at me again, not looking at the scene before us.

There was a creek, but it was fifteen feet wide and flowed to a drop, where a waterfall cascaded over the rocky edge, falling into a large pool of crystal clear water. It narrowed into a creek again past the pool, falling behind the trees, leading away from this small oasis. Standing at the top looking over, I saw how remote our location was. Trees were everywhere, yet here we were nestled into a secret place.

“Do you come here a lot?” I asked.

“Yeah. After a sweat I come to this water, to jump in and cool off.”

“You jump off the waterfall?” I ask, looking at the twenty-foot jump.

“I do.”

We stood there silently. It felt like a moment I should remember. Like the precipice to something that I didn’t understand. My stomach full of expectation, for what I didn’t know, but it filled me up. I was whole.

I didn’t want to ruin the moment by talking. I was scared if I spoke I would lose something. Myself or Delsin or Ollie or everything.

“Are you crying?” Delsin asked.

I brushed away the tears on my face, not even knowing why they were there.

“Did I say something, or do something?” he asked, confused.

“No, no. Of course not,” I assured him. “I don’t know why I’m crying.”

“You are a very serious girl?”

“Not serious. Sorry. I haven’t felt like myself lately. Sorry.”

“Don’t say sorry for your tears.”

“I feel stupid, crying in front of a guy I just met. You probably think I’m a hot mess.”

“Tears are the way you let go of something. Like the sweat lodge. It’s a release.”

I laughed. Out of nervousness. I stood there feeling stupid. Vulnerable, and I didn’t know why. Delsin wasn’t like Ollie. Ollie knew me before I became a disaster, but Delsin was meeting me now as a girl crying over a waterfall. I didn’t want him to judge me.

“We should jump,” he said.

“Are you crazy? No way.”

“Yes. Take my hand. Jump with me. After the sweat, you have to jump and you just cried, so it’s close enough.”

“I don’t do things like this.”

“Like what?” he asked, pulling off his T-shirt, revealing a six-pack and smooth skin and perfection.

“Um.” I was caught off guard by his chest. “I don’t do things like jump off cliffs.”

“You mean you don’t do things like living?” he asked, raising his eyebrows and tossing his flip-flops to the side.

He stretched out his hand and I wanted to take it. So badly.

So I did.

I kicked off my shoes and threw my sunglasses on top of the hoodie that I let drop to the ground. I shimmied out of my cut-offs and kept on my tank top and I took his hand.

And we jumped.

—————

Thank you everyone for the incredible love and support! Sharing my stories with you is such a privilege! Now— off to celebrate my reckless release, 2.0! Whoop!

My journey toward publication…it’s a long one.

Hey guys!

Are you sick of posts about writing yet?

Sorry, I’m kinda not.

Someone asked me on IG about how I went about getting published. Whelp, the short version is I uploaded a word.docx file on Amazon and pressed published.

The long version goes like this (it’s a really long version):

In January of 2011 I was giving 150% to my family, but I was giving about 10% to myself. (No, I’ve never been good at math, that’s why I am a writer.) And that 10% only sometimes included a shower. I honestly was mostly washing my face with my own tears. Family life was very complicated and very messy.

I don’t look back at that time and think I was necessarily depressed, I was just trying so damn hard to make things work. Life is hard! I know every single one of you reading this has been through a shitty season and just don’t even know how you actually got through it. (Or maybe you are there right now, in that place, and I wish you could come over to my house; I’d dig some Swisher Sweets out of my underwear drawer and pour you a glass of cheap white wine and we could sit on my front steps until our feet froze, but our hearts thawed. Love, I’m virtually doing that with you, right now.)

So basically I was like, I’ve gotta do something. For me. I didn’t want that time in life to define me. I wanted to define me. I wanted to be the version of myself I dreamed of being, my truest self. I just needed a place to channel the ideas, fears, dreams, passion, and hope I felt.

So I decided to start writing books because I’d always loved to read and dreamed of writing an actual novel. (I’d spent a few years blogging, mostly about the adoption process my family went through, and had taken a few online courses through Gotham Writers Workshop, but nothing substantial, and I have a general ed AA, nothing fancy-pants).

At first I wrote some non-fiction, self-help, picture books. I wrote about ten of them and went to a writing conference held by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency in California and the agents there were like, Um, that is never going to sell. No one wants that. (insert lots of newbie-author tears).

I really liked these books. I wanted to write something for kids in hard places, because I had kids from hard places and I couldn’t find any book that connected with the hurt in their hearts. Well, apparently they weren’t commercial enough.

In some ways I understood that. And as I flew home (with I’ve-just-been-rejected tears on my cheeks) from that conference I decided what really wanted was to write a story that predated my kids from trauma. I realized what I really wanted to write was a book for my children’s birth mom, the book I wish she could have read as a young adult. The book that said, You are this amazing person, because you are alive. A book that said our choices don’t have to define us. A book that said we are more than our sum.

Now I know that sounds really heavy. But what came of that idea is the story I am most proud of writing, and my first young adult novel titled You Are Lovely (releasing May 14, 2015). The initial draft took four months to write, all during afternoon nap time. That season holds a very special place in heart. It was when I was first able to mutter the words, I wrote a novel.

Soon after, I joined a monthly critique group, and from that began attending a weekly group, and bought a laptop! In the six months after completing You Are Lovely, I had a few false starts, but about a year later I wrote a novel in verse titled You Are Brave (releasing May 28, 2015). While this is not a series or a companion novel, it is similar in theme.

I queried both of these novel to over 70 literary agents with ZERO RESPONSE. I wallowed. I cried. Lots, I think. It’s hard to remember how many tears, but I’m sure anyone who hung out with me during this time could roll their eyes and be like, OMG ANYA IS ONLY TALKING ABOUT NOT HAVING AN AGENT! But in other ways I was also feeling pretty badass. I had written two novels!

After that I was like, Woah Nelly! This is some intense stuff going on here in these Word files! How about I write something a little less issue-driven? What about something with all my favorite things? Like cults & polygamy & magic & the apocalypse & hot prophets (is that a thing?) & cutie-pie cowboys! So after spending about six months brainstorming and plotting and making a very thorough outline, I wrote a trilogy. The first book is Flicker (releasing March 5, 2015), the second is Glimmer (releasing March 19, 2015), and the third is Glow (releasing April 5, 2015). (Preorder here, here, and here!)

By this point it was the summer of 2013 and I was feeling pretty good about my trilogy. Friends had beta read book one, I had polished and shined and made the book so very pretty. I batch queried agents this time because I was like, I do not want to wait months on end for a response and stall out on new projects.

This time around I actually had some response. This was awesome! I sent out some partials, and then one day I got an email from the agent  that I actually really, really wanted to represent me. He wanted more! And then a few weeks later he called me and I was like REALLY CRYING NOW because I had queried 68 agents with Flicker and no one had offered representation and then he did. And I was so happy. Mostly because his assistant and him had read the novel and I was like, PEOPLE READ MY BOOK! PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW ME! This was amazing, I was flying, on cloud nine, and all that.

Family life was no different at this point. Things were still messy BECAUSE THAT IS LIFE! Finding my voice through writing stories didn’t change any of the messiness, it just ALTERED MY RESPONSE. My world was no longer defined by the things that I could not control. I decided to be defined by the things I could, to the best of my abilities. And I also decided I wanted this— to be a published author. I wanted it more than anything else. I poured my heart and soul on the page, everyday,  in hopes that my words would tell a story that mattered. That my dream would come true.

While my agent began revisions, I began writing the novel Heart of Stone (releasing April 16,2015) and finished 6 weeks later. Then I wrote The Dream Catcher (releasing next Thursday! February 19, 2015) and finished in December of 2013. At this point I still hadn’t received revision notes from my agent. When I told him I’d drafted two more novels he told me to slow down. I had my first inklings that, Hmmm maybe this isn’t a good match. Sure, I write fast first drafts,  but I needed this to be seen as an asset.

In February of 2014 he gave me my first revisions. Unfortunately it was only on the first 20k of the novel. Umm okkkkaay, I thought. I can make this work. And I did. I poured my blood, sweat, AND LOTS MORE TEARS into making that story as amazing as I could. Three months later he requested more revisions, and you better believe I worked my ass off on them too. I was also drafting a new novel, The Shadow & The Sheen (releasing April 30, 2015), and worked between projects on that. I finished The Shadow book in May of 2014. I did more revisions for Flicker and sent them off July of 2014. In August and September I wrote For Sure & Certain (released February 5, 2015).

In November I still hadn’t received new editorial notes regarding Flicker. I was over it, the stall out and the waiting and the not moving forward. At this point I had nine beta-read, in-super-good-shape novels that I had workshopped with my critique partners. So in an enormous act of bravery I parted ways (insert MORE TEARS) with my agent. It was amicable, but not at all easy. I had put so much faith in that relationship. I wanted it to succeed.

So, pulling up my bootstraps I submitted Flicker to Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. After thirty days I had another rejection to add to my mounting pile. At this point it was January 1st, and I decided my word for the year was RELEASE and I was no longer going to wait for anyone else to make my dreams happen.

ARE YOU STILL READING THIS???

Self-publishing has always been on my radar. A few of my critique partners had found great success with their SP’ing careers. They were happy and empowered and not at all bitter and they were writing and doing what they loved and it was all on their terms.

I wanted that. That sort of bravery. The bravery that comes with saying this is my story and I’m offering it to you and if I died tomorrow I would rather it be in the world than be on my hard drive. And so I took a leap and a deep breath and uploaded a word.docx file and pressed publish.

Well, first I hired a copy editor and proofreader. I got input on covers and learned how to create a goodreads giveaway.

But here’s the thing friends, after having been a published author for one short week, I’m reminded that none of it is easy. Like, at all. The time it took to get here, and the road I see stretched out ahead of me— it’s not a sprint, this is a freaking marathon.

But isn’t everything worth anything, hard? This dream chasing is tough stuff. That’s why we need people on the sidelines cheering us on, and parters who say you need to train and friends who meet to map out a course of action. And I know— these running metaphors are getting weird because I am not a runner, like at all, but I think you get my point. My path toward publication was not roses and unicorns and that’s okay, in fact that’s kinda the beauty.

I am so proud of the fact that four years ago I decided I wanted more for myself, because that was the hardest part of this entire journey. In The Dream Catcher, the main character Penny asks, “Who would I be if I gave into the possibility of being myself?” For me, that’s what this is about, asking the question and then taking the risks involved in finding the answer.

pennydreamcatcher

My greatest hope for readers, and friends, and anyone, basically, is that you ask yourself that question and then take the chance on finding the answer. You are worth it. You are so completely worth it. <3

xoxo,

anya