2012: A Year in Review

When the calendar year turns another slot, people look ahead to making a new start. They set resolutions or goals, planning to make the coming year even better than the last. I’ve got some major career goals for 2013, in both publishing and interpreting, but right now I want to take a moment to reflect. For me, it’s not just another year down, but also another year older (although I keep waiting for the birthday when I suddenly feel like an adult, lol). I don’t believe in wiping the slate clean for a new year and forgetting about whatever disappointments and failures bogged you down the last time. I believe we can learn from those let-downs and be better for it.

That isn’t to say 2012 was a bad year for me; on the contrary, it was a good one. And I can’t believe it’s over. It seems like not that long ago I was looking back on the accomplishments of 2011 and making plans for 2012, and yet it also seems like forever ago the things I did.

I published three books this past year: Dry Spell, Dreamwalker, and Earth Tones. With each one I’ve grown in my craft and I hope to continue growing, bringing you better and better stuff. One of the major ways I’ve grown is by having honest feedback. I’ll admit to you all that when I pulled Dreamwalker out of the dusty file folder to publish, I thought I’d cast this seven-year-old piece of writing to the world. Several people previewed the book beforehand, but only one person took the time to point out to me how it was so far from ready. I yanked the book and reworked it, working my butt off. If that meant embarrassing myself by not making my publishing date, so be it, because in the end everyone benefited from a better story. Honest feedback is hard to take, and equally, if not more, hard to give. But I will be forever grateful to that person.

I also attempted to write a book that failed. Some of you might remember when I talked about writing a character with all the same health problems as me. It seemed like a good idea, but after 41,000 words and coming to the edge of the climax, it flopped, or rather I did. But you know what, I don’t have to publish each and every word that I pen. Maybe someday I’ll go back to that story, when I have some emotional distance from that character’s pain and heartache I know all too well.

The experience did lead me to my current work in progress, the sequel to Dreamwalker. I’ve mostly published urban fantasy, even though I started my writing passion years ago as a straight fantasy writer, and I find my love for that angle rekindled. I’m not abandoning the Elemental Magic series, but you’re going to start seeing a little more variety from me in 2013.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, you might want to. I’ll be bringing in the new year with an exclusive sneak peek of my next book, Dreamstealer. Don’t miss it!

And you have to check this out: Dreamwalker is being featured in a Mad Libs style game over on Jen Kirchner’s blog. Go give your word suggestions and come back Friday to see how the scene plays out!

Happy New Year!

A Year of Harvest

2012 is here.  I don’t normally look back on a year and reflect on it.  I don’t stay up till midnight, counting down the seconds until a new year, a new life.  The transition is as normal and mundane as Monday going into Tuesday.  Yet, this time, I have a lot to reflect on, a lot to be thankful for.

I graduated from my interpreting training program (an accomplishment when you consider the average dropout rate).  On the same day, I published my first paranormal romance on Amazon and Smashwords.  You can imagine how high on Cloud Nine I was.  In the Fall, I found work in my field (also an accomplishment in today’s economy), published my second novel, and wrote the first draft of its sequel.

Plus, the arrival of January marks the four-month milestone of my being 100% gluten free, something I never thought would happen.  When I finally went off the gluten back in August because of a health scare, I didn’t think I’d last one month.  I certainly never expected to make it to the new year.  Not only did I make it, but I’m not even tempted to break faith.  Bring on five months of gluten-free.  Six.  Maybe even a year.  I’m an addict who’s finally been freed from those chains, though I know it will be a decision every single day not to go back on it.  But what I’ve told myself and come to believe is “I don’t need it.”

So, despite some major health setbacks, this year has been very blessed and prosperous.  I don’t know what 2012 will hold, though already some major challenges are before me.  Even if I’m about to enter the desert or the fire, I know my God is with me.  He is gracious and merciful, and His promises are true.  This time, I am not afraid to learn faith.  After all, He didn’t let me down this year.

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow

What did 2011 teach you?  Was it a year of harvest, of trials by fire, of desert?  What do you expect for the coming year?

Sowing Seeds in the Soul

When I was seven-years-old, a doctor told me I probably wouldn’t live to be eighteen.

I don’t know why he told me that.  Sure, my diabetes was severe, but not untreatable.  I do know his prognosis had a profound effect on me.  I’ve had a lot of health issues, and the idea of getting well has been like an unattainable dream.  In my mind, it’s an even further stretch than becoming published.  Because of this fatalistic mentality, I’ve never really taken my health seriously.  I’ve been allergic to gluten for eight years; I’ve only recently been 100% gluten free for almost three months.  I know exercise is vitally important, but every exercise regimen I have ever started hasn’t lasted a week.  It’s hard to care about your long-term health when subconsciously you don’t expect to ever get there.

I didn’t recognize the power of those few words until many years later.  Now I can look back and see how my subconscious sabotages can be traced back to that one moment that is burned into my memory.  I can’t remember anything else about that day, not even what the doctor looked like, just those words echoing in my mind.

I remember on my nineteenth birthday finally realizing that I had outlived my expiration date.  It was a great feeling, but it wasn’t strong enough to reverse the seed that had been planted and sown over the past ten years.  Our internal processing is filled with voices whispering at us.  The problem is, that after a while, those voices start to sound like our own, and we listen.  “Every time you solve one health problem, another pops up; why not just live with the curse you know?  You’ll never be healthy, so things like exercise and eating well won’t make a difference.  With your health record, you still probably won’t live that long.”

We need a gardener to come in and trim back the overgrown weeds to find the sapling underneath that never had a chance to properly grow.  Those weeds are often so entangled though, that it might be a painful process.  Sometimes the trimming can happen slowly, with other, loving seeds planted by other people.  Sometimes it happens quickly, with fire, something that rips to our roots and jars us from those habits.

Cleaning up the garden of our souls is never easy, though there is a Gardener who’s skilled and precise in His work so we are safe in His hands.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~Phillipians 4:13

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2

But remember this–you had no control over the seeds that were planted in your heart, only on how you will shape your garden now.  Words are powerful.  They soothe hurts and cut deep.  Be aware of the words you sow.  You never know what you may be planting.

What seeds were planted in your heart by someone else?  Were they seeds that nourished your soul, or weeds that have held you down?  Do you fall into patterns based on those seeds?  If you were able to identify the source of some negative patterns, how did you uproot them?  I love hearing from you!

–I also have an announcement regarding Elemental Magic.  I want to apologize for the extended wait of its release.  It’s mid-October now, and while I had hoped to release it at the beginning of this month, there have been a few delays due to the cover art not being completed on time.  I’m very sorry that I couldn’t make the deadline I set for myself, but it is out of my control.  I hope to have news for you all soon, but I am still waiting on the cover art.–