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The Wake Up Call, The Kick in the Ass, and The Silver Lining

I never thought it would happen to me, but there it was. I had known about it for six months, but assumed I could right the sails and keep the boat afloat.  I got caught up in what many families are facing:  The end to a well-paying, long-term job.  During those six months, like a cornered animal, I got a tad cranky.  I felt threatened.  After 18 years of working in my bunny slippers, with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in hand, I had a wake up call. One I didn’t want to answer.

I was about to be thrown out of my comfort zone and into the world of *gulp* job hunting.

Which wasn’t easy. Especially in this small town where professional jobs are at a minimum and the lines are long for the rest of the jobs that open up. Small towns are awesome.  Small towns create a sense of belonging. I love knowing everyone at the bank or the grocery store. I love the fact that one of our busiest streets really isn’t so busy after all.

But none of that matters when the well runs dry, when I’m faced with decisions, when I feel like a failure.  A new plan was needed fast.  The more I thought about it, the more I looked at the circumstances, the choice was clear.  I needed to look outside of this town.

If I were to be honest, I’d been feeling as if my wheels were spinning and that I forgot who I was – still.  I’d been talking about a finding new direction for awhile, but since I was swimming in my comfort zone, I had no reason to get out of the pool.  Well, guess what.  Losing my job was the kick in the ass that I needed to move forward.

What I hadn’t counted on, though, was that I would be going at this alone. The boys and I had been a tight unit and I assumed we’d move together. But ‘twas not to be.  They wanted to stay with their father in Idaho for their own reasons. Reasons I understood, but still I felt I failed on many levels. Was I that bad of a mother that they didn’t want to be with me? Shouldn’t I sacrifice a few more years and stay here just in case they needed me? How much would this hurt them in the long run?

Infused with guilt, I spoke with my uncle who reminded me that, in the face of knowing we would miss each other, would miss the routine we’ve developed over the years, both boys made a very deliberate decision.  Sure, they could have taken the easy way out and followed me, looking to me to handle things, but I’ve taught them to be free thinkers and to make choices based on what they felt was best for them.  It had always been my intention to pass at least one morsal of something to them, and here I had my proof.

Feeling somewhat better, I chose to practice what I preach:  Do something that is best for me.  After putting my needs on hold for 25 years, now is my chance to follow opportunities that will further my choice of career. Opportunities I cannot find here in North Idaho.

I want to show my boys a side of me they haven’t yet seen before – the woman who waited patiently behind the mother.  I want my sons to see me as a healthy and successful person, not the overbearing, overprotective mama bear who pushed them to realize heights I knew they were capable of, all while I was feeling frustrated because I wasn’t reaching my own potential.  I want to be the best person I can be, to show them that my happiness is as important as theirs. My reasons for doing this, as painful as the process might be, will serve them as well as me.

And the timing is right.  My job had allowed me to work from home for the last 18 years and over those almost two decades I’ve seen my oldest through to graduation and my youngest get through middle school.  I’ve taught them as many life lessons as I have experienced myself, taught them social graces, and how to be kind to others.  Now the rest is up to them.

Yes, I’ll definitely miss the little things, the daily routine, the chance to hug them when they’re feeling sad or happy, but through Skype, texting, phone calls, and Facebook, I’ll still be able to nag – I mean, guide – them through the trials and successes and celebrations big and small. The moments we share will be sweeter, the visits will be anticipated events.

The silver lining to all of this is that I will have the opportunity to discover who I am and what I need to feel whole, because when we become mothers and wives, so many of us lose sight of ourselves.  It’s a continuous process, one I started two years ago. I have a very specific plan A, with no plan B, so there won’t be any falling back.  Only forward movement. By expanding my horizons outside of this town, I will be able to bring more of the world to the boys.  It’s the put-on-the-oxygen-mask-first-before-putting-it-on-the-children mentality.

My uncle also told me, “Go ahead and feel guilty if you must, but it would be a mistake not to try.”

So try, I will.

This song, The Reason, by Hoobastank, is for you, boys. You are my reason.  I love you.

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SOULSTICE – Cover Reveal

Photo session with Wrenee for the cover of Soulstice

Photo session with Wrenee for the cover of Soulstice

I’ve been busy, busy, busy putting the final touches on my latest project, Soulstice, the companion novella to Souled.  This novella puts a spotlight on Alyx,  who, in Alyx’s own words, is the “dark, totally misunderstood, totally underestimated, misfit” of Sandpoint High School.

I adore Alyx – her strength, courage, and her mysterious background.  What makes her qualified to stand up to Seth in his dark hours?  What was her path that brought her to be who she is?

Although she will have floor time in the upcoming sequel, I wanted to satisfy the curiosity of many of the readers who’ve asked me, “Who exactly is Alyx?”

I’m fortunate and eternally grateful that my friend, and outstanding author, Fabio Bueno (his novel Wicked Sense is definitely one of my favorite reads), has taken it upon himself to give me a shout out on his blog and share with you the cover of Soulstice.

In continuing the theme of “keeping it local,” the beauty on the cover is Wrenee, a student here in Sandpoint, Idaho.  Once again, Sandpoint produces a teen professional enough to step up and handle something as important as the cover of a book.  Add to that the makeup expertise of Kimberlee Langford, creative cover design by Crystalyn Abercrombie (my tattoo artist), and photographer, Victoria Melendez.

Curious yet???

Then please head on over to Fabio’s site to check out the cover and to learn a bit more about what the story is all about!

Getting By With A Little Help From My Friends

With so much information out there on the internet, with so many websites to sift through, anyone wishing to get information to a targeted market is up against a lot of competition.

As writers, we look to our friends and family to spread the word and, of course, they always come through.  And within our online community, we are fortunate enough to have other writers and readers who open their blogs freely to lend a hand as well.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those bloggers who helped me reveal my new cover of Souled this past week.  Please support them by visiting their blogs.  They really are awesome peeps!

Angela Peart, Author  

From Sarah with Joy

Crazy Four Books

A Dream Within a Dream

I Like These Books

Lizzy’s Dark Fiction

What’s on the Bookshelf

Tracy James Jones 

The Readiacs 

Cherie Reich, Author

An Avid Reader’s Musings 

Reading in Paradise 

Fangirlish 

Book Lover’s Hideaway

And a huge thank you to everyone who shared on Facebook and Twitter!

Cover Reveal – Souled Gets a Makeover

Change is good.  Change is positive.  But it doesn’t make it any easier to let something go…

As much as I adored the original cover of Souled, I felt a change was needed to encompass more of the essence of the novel, which, in addition to ancient sorcery, was a story of love so absolute, so pure, it could transcend ordinary reason.

And because the location of the story took place in North Idaho, I wanted to include the community of Sandpoint in the Souled experience.

I was fortunate that Scott and Elaina, “regular” teens in Sandpoint, agreed to be the models for this cover.  Although neither of them are professional models, they handled themselves like pros and gave the photographer, Victoria McCune, 100% effort.  And in my opinion, it shows.

Also helping to put a professional touch to the make-up part of the session, I was thrilled to have Kimberlee Langford, make-up specialist, on board.

The tattoo design from the original cover, designed by Crystalyn Abercrombie, was definitely kept as part of this cover as that is a constant symbol in the story (as well as tattooed firmly onto my own body).   Steve McCune pulled together all of the pieces to create the final cover.

It’s been incredible working with the people in the community on something such as this project, because after all, it’s their town, their turf, and their support of the novel is very important.

I’ve had a lot of fun so far and I hope you enjoy this cover as much as I do.

Souled is available on Amazon in ebook and print format.

It’s All In The Mind’s Eye

“The world only exists in your eyes – your conception of it. You can make it as big or as small as you want to.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great words from a great writer, but the question is, how does a writer create a pathway from our eyes to the minds of the readers of novels?  Fortunately, archived records and the Internet can bring history of centuries ago into an author’s hands, allowing us to recreate a world long gone, in order to give the reader some sort of anchor as they turn the pages of our novels.  With a little imagination and fantastic writing skills, many authors transport us back to a time none of us have experienced first hand (at least not in this lifetime).

If the setting of the novel is in the present, we have access to maps, photos, and transportation to get to wherever the story takes place so that we may get a first-hand accounting of the sights and smells of the area.  Though some novel settings are loosely based on a certain locale, the authors are still able to give the reader the same flavor as if that particular imaginary city actually existed.  And those novels that are grounded in an actual place?  That could be a lot of fun for the readers as well.  Just ask Tamie from Bookish Temptations.  She recently toured Toronto in search of the offices, restaurants, museums, and streets that Sylvain Reynard fleshed out in Gabriel’s Inferno.  In reading her blog, you can feel her excitement as she was able to “be” where the characters were.  What a cool connection, right?

In my upcoming novel, Souled, the characters are firmly rooted in Sandpoint, a small town in North Idaho.  Because I am very familiar with the area, I was able to write from first-hand experience.  I’ve posted on my website and on Pinterest, pictures of where some of the scenes take place, so when the novel is released (weeks away), the readers who cannot actually visit the area, can at least “see” where it is that the characters live.

EFX bowling alley

Zero Point (stone shop)

In the case of futuristic or high fantasy, a writer can create an entirely new world, or they can do what Angela Peart has done for her soon-to-be-released novel.  (By the way, she filled me in on the details of her story, and…yeah.  This one is going to rock our socks off.).  So, rather than me trying to explain her method of creating setting, I’m going to let Angela do the talking because you just need to experience it.

Take it away, Angela!

“The story of my upcoming Young Adult paranormal novel, Greed (this is a “working title”), takes place in Seattle—the city that I have been calling home for many years now. But because the plot contains elements of high fantasy, some of the scenes happen in imaginary places. I will introduce those amazing places in another post. Today I want to share with you a very special spot from my novel. It is Queen Anne Academy of the Arts and Sciences in the Seattle’s picturesque district of Queen Anne. No, the school does not exist in reality, but the area is 100% real.

The Seattle skyline viewed from Queen Anne – photo by National Geographic

All except one of my teenage characters attend this prestigious private school. The Georgian architecture building and the surrounding grounds are not based on any real location. Only my imagination and the knowledge that I have obtained, studying interior design at the Art Institute of Seattle, are responsible for the creation of this intriguing place.

I am not ready to reveal my characters’ names just yet. There will be a special blog post in the near future, where you will learn more about them. For now I am simply “coding” them as X, Y, and Z. I know, not very creative, but try to overlook that and only concentrate on the descriptions of my dream high school.

Here are two excerpts from my novel. Enjoy!”

1.      He looked up at the ceiling, his eyes tracing the acanthus leaf castings clustered in the corners and along the sides. An enormous antique chandelier hung down by thick chains. A ring, covered in intricate patterns, encircled a massive hand-painted globe. The pale colors of the land and surrounding oceans looked subdued like on an antique map. Twenty-four sweeping, rounded arms reached out from the metal ring and curved up and out, ending in elongated candle-shaped electric lights. The sphere rotated lazily, as if imitating the real Earth. X gazed at it, transfixed, wishing it was dark outside and the whole thing would light up like it always did in the evenings.

2.      He shook his head, smiling to himself, and then walked toward the massive double front door. The door was two stories high, set between two flat columns protruding from the walls on both, interior and exterior, sides. A semi-circular intricately-carved arch encased the top of the door.

Y opened the door and stepped outside. He shaded his eyes with his hand and, squinting, looked at the cloudless sky. The door closed with a dull thud behind him, as he started down the wide stone stairs. Strings of green ivy clung to the solid-stone balustrade on both sides of the steps. The stone was aged, its natural color richly variegated. Two huge urns flanked the staircase, their color scheme identical to the balusters.

So, can you see it?  Can you feel it?  Thanks, Angela, for a sneak peek into your novel and giving us a great example of how an author’s mind works.

How do you feel about settings in the novels you read?  Do you like detailed descriptions or minimally-there descriptions?  Everyone’s preferences are different, but then again that is why we have so many types of authors and novels!