Category Archives: personal

You Can Never Go Home

Once a year, from the age of five to seventeen, I escaped the Texas heat and traveled to a magical place. The trees were taller, the air was a sweet mix of cool rain and wet soil, and every night was lit with fireflies.

This magical place was Michigan.

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I know. Not exactly what most people would consider to be a gateway to another world, but as a child, there was magic across the Wolverine State. I used to think there were mermaids in The Great Lakes, fairies in the never ending forests, and when we went up to my grandmother’s cabin, the loons were singing to me and no one else. I loved, and still love, Texas, but there was something about Michigan that made me feel like I was home.

And then I went back as an adult.

As I rode from the airport to my grandmother’s house, I waited for that magical feeling. Even into my late teens, I felt it the second I was on Midwestern soil, but the more I looked around this time, the more I felt like I was seeing through the glamour. The sidewalks were cracked, the roads covered with litter, and worse of all my grandmother’s smiling face, a face that never seemed to age, was worn.

I thought maybe the dread would go away the longer I was there, but it didn’t. The places of my childhood were closed, or replaced with something new. The cabin now could only be visited once a year, and they had gone earlier without me. The magic was gone.

It was like someone ripped away a blanket I had been hiding under. I realized that the feeling of home I longed for in my adulthood was gone, and in that moment, I saw things for how they really were. The map of my childhood had been thrown away, replaced with the reality that those roads had changed and now I was lost.

I guess everyone goes through this in their late twenties. You begin to realize that the way you saw things when you were younger, while maybe not a lie, was a beautiful retelling of the truth. You become more aware of the family politics, of why people are the way they are, and you realize your heroes and idols are just as flawed as you are.

Maybe it’s just me? Maybe I was a child who saw things that weren’t there, and now I’m finally having to face reality? But one thing I know is that sometimes you can never go home. You have to build it elsewhere, and hopefully the foundations are stronger. Your walls need to be made out of stone instead of gingerbread, and the next time someone or something tries to knock it down, they’ll stand firm.

Or maybe that’s all life really is? One knocking down after another, and learning how to grow from it? Home is, after all, just a construct we build to make ourselves feel safe. Once that’s gone, and the net is pulled away, maybe that’s when we can really start living?

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Writing Conference Reflection Month – July Schedule

It’s been three days since I went to the Dallas-Fort Worth Writing Conference, and the more time that passes, the more I look back and go “Wow, did I really just spend 48 hours surrounded by other writers?”. It went by way too fast.

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To make up for missing the time I spent with my fellow writers, I decided to turn July into a “Writing Conference Reflection” month. Since this was my first conference, I’m going to talk about what I learned, what I wish I knew, and what I’ll be doing differently for my next conference.

I’ll be making posts every Monday, but will also be adding up one on Friday for suggested topics, if I find the time.

 

Here are some things I’ll be posting about. If you have anything you’d like me to talk about, feel free to ask me to add it!

  • Talking to Agents
  • Making New Friends (suggested by JoAnne Turner)
  • Your First Pitch
  • What Classes Should You Take
  • Importance of Self Care

 

Look for these topics and more this July!

Write Club Update

Well submissions are closed.

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I only got one in, mostly due to my own poor time management around the holidays, but I’m a little hopeful. Not entirely optimistic, but hopeful. Of course I’m still glad I did this. It’s already encouraged me to start submitting my writing to smaller contests, and I’ve gotten back into actively writing, as opposed to passively jotting down a few lines every day.

I can’t say that this year had a good start for me, creative wise. If I’m being more accurate, it really hasn’t been great since my move back at the end of October. But looking at my personal timeline, I will say every time I change states, I always get thrown out of sorts for three to six months. With this being the beginning of April, I’m right at that cut off, and can already tell my stamina is back up to create again.

I guess that’s one bad thing about constantly having to move no one really warns you about. Sure, you get to see new places, meet new people, and have different experiences, but at the end of the day, I’m still an introvert at heart. My personal time and space is very important, and when I have to uproot what feels comfortable, it’s hard to get that back right away. This isn’t a complaint so much as an observation. I’m grateful to have the life I do, and I know I’m extremely lucky, but it still takes some time to get back to normal after a big change.

Write Club helped me a lot, however. I feel a little more confident, and the thrill I got from even participating in the contest this far lit a fire under me. Even if I don’t make it to the top 30, I’m still happy with the experience.

 

As you might’ve been able to tell, this was a little bit more of a conversational post than normal. I know it’s a tad bit rambling, but I felt more casual tonight. Thanks for sticking through for this long though! If you liked this style more, let me know. I’ll gladly do more updates like this if it’s preferred.

 

Hope you all are having a good start to April. Keep writing lovelies ❤

Biting the Bullet Journal

I was definitely late jumping onto the bullet journal trend.

I was never good at journaling, and even as a kid, I’d start one, give up and then go out and buy another only to have the process repeat itself.

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When I finally sat down and bought some pens, washi tape, way too many stickers and pretty paper to count, and a journal, I thought that bullet journaling would turn me into the type of person I always wanted to be. Someone who wrote down their thoughts and dreams and treasured those memories close to their heart.

Unfortunately, that’s just not me. So I decided to do something else. I was going to bullet journal for my writing life.

Since I’m a perfectionist, I definitely wanted to make sure I was doing this right, but the problem was, there wasn’t a lot of “how to’s” out there. I was going to have to come up with my own bullet journal ideas.

Here’s what I’ve got so far –

  • Flightless Themed – This journal is for nothing but building the world of my series. It has everything from my alternate Earth timeline, important terms, and species information, along with any possible plot points that could shape future novels.
  • Character Bank – I’m the most excited about this one. Because I love coming up with characters, I have this character pool to skim from whenever I need to add a new person to a novel. I’ve posted a picture up on both my Instagram, and Twitter, if you’d like to see more.
  • General Writing Journal – This one is based off of the multiple writing journals I’ve seen out there, with a little bit of a reading twist to it. I keep what books I’ve been reading, or book challenges, as well as how many words I’ve written, inspirational quotes, and general ideas for future works. Here’s a picture of my March page.

I do have one more that’s more of a daily agenda, and money journal, but I won’t bore you with that.

Are you doing any bullet journals? Share below! I’d love to see them.

Earliest Childhood Memory

Wow! I fell way behind on my own challenge. Since my last post, I started a new novel, and it took hold like wildfire. I decided to stick with that, just to get the first couple chapters done, and it left little time for working on my blog.

Now day 14, I’m just now coming back on a day that’s probably one of my favorites.

This one really shouldn’t be a favorite. A lot of my childhood memories were of me falling off something, or tripping over something, and winding up pretty hurt because of it. You’d think after years of adulting, and countless dance classes, I’d have stopped this nasty habit of falling, but it still hasn’t gone away.

My earliest memory goes like most of my memories of my childhood. I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing, in this case, climbing a huge rock, and then falling into a cactus bed.

In retrospect, the rock wasn’t probably as big as I remember, but because I was so small, it seemed like a mountain. This means the single cactus I fell into looked like a bush of spikes straight out of a nightmare.

My biological father was with me at the time, and I can remember screaming as he took me to the nearest gas station where he borrowed their first aid kit and pulled needle after needle out of my arms and legs. I vaguely remember being surrounded by men, each one trying to get me to stop crying, giving me an ice cream out of the freezer I was sitting on, and helping my dad hold my arm when I kept trying to pull away.

Why do I like this memory so much? It was pretty traumatic at the time, but it’s always stuck with me as something that taught me a valuable lesson.

One, when you’re experiencing something negative, things look bigger and badder than they really are. But as time passes you begin to realize it wasn’t as bad as you originally thought.

Two, you’re going to fall down, and sometimes it’s going to hurt, but rely on others to help you back on your feet. I didn’t have a choice as a child, I had to get help from strangers, but as an adult, I try to remember that the kindness of others can sometimes help more than you realize.

And lastly, if you do fall, and you will, always get back up and try again. Learn from that mistake, and do better next time. A tumble from a rock didn’t stop me from getting up the next day and climbing something else. It didn’t stop me from trying things to push myself a little harder. Again, I was a kid, but it’s still something I apply as an adult.

 

What was your earliest childhood memory and what did you learn from it?

Check out Tanja’s Day 14 here.

Want more January blogging challenges? Check out Tanja RamirezLily Couldridge, and Alexandra Burt‘s pages. They’re all taking part as well. It’s not too late for you to do the same! Just link me to whatever social media you’re posting your challenge on, and I’ll give you a shout out.

What’s in my bag?

Well I’m running late again today. I got caught up with conversations on Twitter, making a massive surprise project for my sister’s baby shower, and then got to talking plot with my writing partner.

But I’m here now, so welcome to day five of the January Blogging Challenge! 

I have a few handbags, but none are as important to me as one my husband picked up at a military surplus store. What used to be an old gas mask bag is now toting around my wallet, keys, pencils, pens, loose change, and almost always a book or two. It doesn’t look big, but it must have some TARDIS/Mary Poppins magic, cause I keep everything in here.

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Occasionally I’ll have a random curio tucked away in the bottom, like a worry stone, or a pendant to St. Christopher (my current odd thing out in my bag), and I almost always have one or two tubes of chap stick, even though I rarely use it.

It’s not expensive, and it looks ragged, but I love my bag. It’s sturdy and is probably the most “me” thing I own.

 

Want more January blogging challenges? Check out Tanja RamirezLily Couldridge, and Alexandra Burt‘s pages. They’re all taking part as well. It’s not too late for you to do the same! Just link me to whatever social media you’re posting your challenge on, and I’ll give you a shout out.

Day 4 – It started with a sketch

Talking about my first novel is always something I’ve wanted to do, but was never sure how to go about. The fear of offending someone or bringing up old wounds always stopped me.

I wrote a book about people with wings, for Pete’s sake! How do I even begin to talk about the amount of loss I felt before I put pen to paper?

 

 

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This post contains sensitive subject matter. I’ll be discussing suicide and miscarrying, so viewer discretion is advised.

Continue reading Day 4 – It started with a sketch

Life Changes for 2018

I don’t like setting resolutions.

Maybe it’s the wording of it, just like I don’t like the word “diet”. Both seem so temporary to me. Sure, resolution means “a firm decision to do or not do something”, but how many people break these supposedly “firm decisions” within the first month of the new year? 

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Back in 2013, I started using the phrase “Life Changes” for the new year. Instead of saying I was going to do a diet, I said I was going to change the way I ate. Instead of saying I was going to exercise, I said I was going to make a change to how active I was in a day.

By focusing less on an end goal, I tweaked my day to day schedule and created solid habits. I wound up losing 20 pounds since then, and I finished writing a first draft of my book in a month, then edited it in another eight. Setting changes to my schedule helped me create long lasting results that I’m still benefiting from.

So here are ways I’m going to change my life in 2018.

~ I’m going to set aside one hour a day for reading, and one hour a day for writing. During those two hours, I can listen to music, however the tv must be off, and the phone needs to be on silent.

~ I plan on putting aside one day a week to focus on a new skill. It can be anything from learning a new crochet stitch, to finally learning how to parallel park (because I can finally admit that I have no idea how to do that). There is no pressure to master this skill (although learning how to parallel park would be nice), it’s simply to try a new thing.

~ I will dedicate two days a week to querying and learning more about the publishing world. I’ll talk with already published authors, take a class, or read more information that’s available, but I recognize that I need to change how I look at my road to publication.

~ Two days a month, I’ll attend a writing group meeting. If the other members of this writing group can’t show up, I’ll go someplace quiet and take that time to work on my next book.

~ I am going to travel one week next year to a place I’ve never been. It can be a different place every day, an hour away from my house, or it can be more than one day to somewhere I actually need to travel to.

~ I’m going to start going to bed later so I can wake up earlier to hit the gym for at least thirty minutes, every other day. While at the gym, I’m going to change how I work out, from taking it slow, to pushing myself a little harder every time I’m there. This also means I’ll need a gym membership, so I should probably get on that.

~ I will spend less time on my phone when I’m out in public by keeping my data off and making more of an effort in social situations.

~ I am going to change how I view social media by not putting such high standards on myself. This means posting only once a week on my blog, and scheduling other site posts instead of stressing over them.

~ And last, I will look for time in my schedule for volunteering with my community, either at the library, the children’s theater, or even stopping in at the blood donor center. I know I’ll have time, but I’ve never volunteered in the past because, let’s face it, I’m too focused on myself. By paying attention to when I’m being selfish, I hope to replace some of this time with giving back to others.

Personal Post Friday – 2017 Was The Year I….

So much happened this year, I don’t even know where to start. If someone would’ve told me I’d have gotten as much accomplished as I did, I would’ve laughed at them.

For one, I’m not the type of person to do a 5k, even if it was just a fun run, and goat yoga? Who does goat yoga? Apparently 2017 Andrea.

So here’s a quick run down of 2017.

– Did a mud run.
– Finished Flightless and started sending to agents.
– Went to a goat yoga class.
– Built a van with my husband and drove from Tacoma to Texas and back to Tacoma, just because.
– Got a raise at work.
– Was maid of honor at my cousin’s Harry Potter/Fandom themed wedding.
– Built the foundations for my writer’s platform.
– Heard back from an agent, and rewrote Flightless.
– Drove across country again, for a military move to Texas.
– Camped on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere and saw more stars than I have in a long time.
– Reconnected with old friends I hadn’t spoken to since high school.
– Stood up for myself and started taking charge when I would’ve sat on the sidelines before.
– Got through 10 books, which is a big deal for me since I’ve been slacking off on reading since 2012.
– Started talking with other writers and authors on how they hone their craft.

I’d love to hear about your year! Make a blog post titled “2017 Was The Year I” and send me a link. Was your year productive, or filled with new experiences? Maybe you just got through another year, and hey, that’s an accomplishment, too.

Share how your life went and what you hope to accomplish next year.

Flightless Fan Art #2 – Daniel Bennett

When I first made Daniel, he played a crucial part in the original draft of Flightless. 

In spite of this, there really wasn’t anything to him. He was his girlfriend, Elizabeth’s, arm candy, and my main character, Christopher’s little brother. Daniel filled any exposition holes, but he wasn’t really “his own man”. He only existed to benefit others not because he belonged in the story.

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Original artwork

 

So he was chopped from the final draft, but I realized I had a great opportunity to add him to a different book that exists in the same universe as Flightless.

I rewrote him, created a well rounded character, and wow, the art that came from the changes to him turned out incredible.

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Daniel & Elizabeth Commission by Maddy

Daniel grew up in an abusive household. While it wasn’t intentional abuse, his mother thought she was doing the right thing, it was abusive none the less. Unlike Christopher, who shouldered all the problems and saw it as his job to take the brunt of the pain, Daniel grew resentful.

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Anthony, Elizabeth and Daniel by Kennie

Even after he was taken out of the situation, he still acted like the world owed him something after everything he went through. When he was forced to move away from his brother, and in with an able bodied “flock” (a, yes, very cheesy word I use for my avian family units), he was crushed.

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Nap Time by Maddy

At the end of the first book, there’s talk of Daniel coming to see his brother again, after years of being apart, but when he arrives in the second, Christopher is already gone. Forced with another abandonment, he spends time with Elizabeth, and the two work through both of what’s happened in their past, while growing closer through mutual respect.

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Church Meeting by Jillian

I can’t wait to tell his and Elizabeth’s story. It’s going to have a heavier romance plot than my other ideas for the Flightless universe, but one that’s a slow burn compared to a whirlwind of emotions.

If you’d like to see more of my own Daniel art, here’s some below! Hope you enjoyed it.

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Want more artwork? Check out my last art share, for Anthony Ortega.

 

 

Obligatory Disclaimer

All above artwork was posted with permission given by the artists, so long as credit was linked back to above accounts. If you’d like to use any of the above artists, please contact them directly through links to ask before posting images.