Straight To You: Q & A

In anticipation of the upcoming release of my first “book-baby”, Straight To You, I’ve put together a brief Q & A about the novella, as well as the self-publishing experience.

So here are the answers to some questions you may (or may not) have wanted to ask. 🙂

1. How long did it take to write this book? What was the process like? It took longer than a human pregnancy, but shorter than an elephant one (which is 22 months!) to complete this book from start to finish.

Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda/freedigitalphotos.net

I use the metaphor of pregnancy because the process of writing this book was very much like one. There were moments of worry, excitement, impatience, frustration and joy throughout the whole experience. When I finally, finally finished writing and editing the book, I felt like I had gone through many hours of labor and given birth to a brand new baby. 🙂

2. Is the book really based on real life? Yes, and no. Many things I wrote about, such as the themes of second chances, grace and redemption are lessons I have personally learned and grown from, and ones I hoped to share with readers. Some of the characters have qualities similar to people I know, but none of them is an exact replica of any living person. 😉 Moreover, the story is a work of fiction and anything about it that may have been inspired by real life has been dramatized for entertainment purposes.

3. Why choose to self-publish? The simple answer is impatience. 😉 I looked into the pros and cons of both traditional publishing and self-publishing and decided the latter is the route for me. It’s a lot faster to get a book out with the message you want when you do things yourself. (Hm, yes, I admit the control-freak part of me typed that last sentence.) But the bottom line is that times have changed and self-publishing is a very viable option for writers today. (Yay!)

4. Any suggestions for those interested in writing and self-publishing a book? My number one encouragement is to just do it! Do it for your personal enjoyment and satisfaction. Do it for your growth as a writer. And put in your best effort. Above all, get constructive feedback from other writers, as well as and those who read books similar to the one you’re writing. Once I got over my fear of putting my work out there for others to read, I really appreciated the feedback I received. Without input from others, this book would have been a half-baked cake – gooey and raw on the inside and unappetizing. But thanks to my beta readers and proofreaders, my story spent more time in the “oven” and came out more scrumptious than I could have imagined. Oh, and get a great cover designer (mine was the amazing Tugboat Design) for your book because readers do judge a book by its cover – I know I do!

Okie, that’s all for now! Come back next week to read an excerpt from the book. 🙂 Remember, the release date is August 1, 2014!

P.S. There’s no song I could find about self-publishing a book (LOL), so I’m including a love song in celebration of my romantic novella. Check out this feel good tune, “Love Never Felt This Good” by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

What are your thoughts about self-publishing? What books have you read and would recommend by self-published authors?

Closed Doors, Open Windows

Whoever came up with the saying, “When God closes a door, He opens a window” likely meant well. I mean the phrase certainly touches on the ideas of hope and potential and conjures up positive vibes. You could add to the saying another chipper phrase, such as …

– “There’s something better out there!” or “It’s all going to work out!” –

and you’ll have placed whatever opportunity that had screamed “NO!” in your face into a nice box, wrapped it up with shiny paper, and tied a ribbon around it.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

If only overcoming disappointments was that easy. 😉

The reality is that when things don’t work out the way we had hoped they would, we get stuck. Sitting on the couch with a bag of chips or a tub of ice cream seems like the best option at the moment. We lose faith in God and in ourselves. We lack the desire and motivation to get up, shake off the dust (or potato chip crumbs), and try again.

I’m sure we’ve all had a door (or two or twenty) closed in our lives. I’ve had my share in the areas of relationships, school and work. At the time I just wanted to wallow in self-pity because I didn’t believe there was something better out there for me. But thankfully, I was wrong. I’ll say it again – I was wrong! Because life did go on after the DTR that left me with a fractured heart. Life did go on after I received a rejection letter from the graduate school I had applied to. Life did go on after I had my firstborn and realized I wouldn’t be able to return to work as soon as I had planned, leaving me with no choice but to toss the first 1,000 internship hours (out of 3,000) that I had acquired for my counseling license.

This last closed door was a tough one for me to accept. I had had my education and career path all planned out (finish grad school before age 30 and get my license by age 35) and things were going my way until mamahood pulled me back by my unwashed hair and plopped me down on my behind to nurse, diaper, carry and bounce my high need son 24/7. Switching gears from an overachieving and goal-oriented person to one who literally could not get out of the house at times drove me crazy. Giving up the timeline I had set and accepting my new full-time “job” took a lot of grumbling, time, more grumbling and letting go. (I think I’ve blogged about this whole process so many times!) Looking back, I had spent so much time sitting in front of that closed door and trying to get it open, twisting and yanking on the doorknob as hard as I could—without any progress. It wasn’t until two years ago that I was finally willing to take my hand off the knob and step back from the door.

What made me step away? Well, it was that window.

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/freedigitalphotos.net

You know, the window from that saying up above. For me, God had through a series of events opened up the opportunity for me to write. When I turned my head from the closed door and glimpsed the great view from the window, I became energized again. There was hope and so much potential outside beckoning for me to come (and maybe a few palm trees, too). The closer I walked to the window, the more fulfilled I felt. I was also so grateful to have had that door close on me eight years ago. Because if it hadn’t, I might not ever have gone down the path I did and experienced all the heart-changing things I have been blessed to go through as a mom, and now as a writer.

So maybe the saying, “When God closes a door, He opens a window” is really all it’s cut out to be. It just takes time, trust and patience to move past a disappointment and regain hope. But once you do, you just might find yourself saying and believing those other phrases that “There’s something better out there!” and “It’s all going to work out!” 🙂

I picked OneRepublic’s song, “Stop and Stare” for this post. The lyrics reflect the uncomfortable process of moving from the closed door to the open window.

What windows have been opened in your life that have been the result of closed doors?

P.S. I can also say without a doubt that I’m glad that those doors mentioned above closed on me in the relationship and school areas as well. The windows that opened after (meeting and marrying hubby and the grad school I did get accepted into) were way beyond what I could have hoped for. 🙂

Parenting Unlike a Duck

Whoever said everything changes after you have kids was right! Not only does this saying apply to your priorities, waistline, bank account, and number of brain cells, it also holds true for definitions of some words and phrases.

Take for example the word vacation. B.K. (before kids), going on vacation likely meant moonlit walks on the beach or hours hiking up and down beautiful mountains or visiting historic/artsy museums for days on end. But vacationing A.K. (after kids) takes on a whole new meaningVacationing with kids involves throwing in a pack ‘n play, dozens of diapers and wipes, a boatload of fruit snacks, adhering to nap and meal schedules, and all the other stuff you normally do when you’re at home. So essentially the vacation you planned for months and looked forward to is really life in a different place (but hopefully a scenic place). 😉

Also, think about the phrase sleeping in. When I was in college, sleeping in meant first staying up way past my bedtime the night before and waking up close to lunchtime the day after. Sleeping in A.K. however is a little similar in some ways. You still get to stay up late or be woken up several times during the night by a little person who is teething or feverish or just wants to party, but you’re lucky if you get to sleep till 7AM the next day. These days when I open my eyes in the morning and see any digit after 6, I’m a happy camper. Oh, how life has changed. 🙂

Recently I’ve been pondering another phrase that has been radically redefined since I had kids: running errands. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on my own, I can attack 4-5 different stores within the span of 1 hour; the longer my shopping list is, the faster I run. But I’ve learned that running errands A.K. never involves running, unless it’s running to the nearest bathroom after a certain child has downed a bottle of water. Shopping with my munchkins means speed walking and looking back every so often to make sure the kids are still following me.

I was doing this exact activity the other day – “running” errands with E and C at Costco – when a realization hit me.

Image courtesy of EA/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of EA/freedigitalphotos.net

I always thought it was cute to see a mama duck with her ducklings trailing behind her, but now I wonder if that’s how parenting is supposed to work. Of course I’m not a bird (even though I gave birth to a girl who loves them), so I can’t speak for bird parents, but I’m thinking in the context of human parents. Let me explain …

As an adult, I thought patience was one of my stronger suits … until I had children. Then I realized I am anything but patient. I’m forever wanting, hoping, praying that my kids will grow up. That they will learn how to do things on their own. That they won’t have to rely on me to wipe their behinds or feed them or cut their nails. That they will walk faster, have the physical dexterity to keep cups from spilling, and communicate with words instead of kicks.

I realize now that I spend a lot of my days as a parent walking ahead of my kids, like a mama duck, when I should actually be walking beside them.

In the effort of focusing my energy on checking off a to-do list, I’ve forgotten the more important priorities in life, like the people I’m leading. They’re the ones with little hands that need holding, little feet that need to take double the steps to keep up with mine, little eyes that are curious about everything they see, little minds that need compassion and care to face this great, big world.

If I am to lead and mold and love my kids, I need to slow down. Slow down enough to look them in the eyes when they talk. To listen patiently to their many questions and answer them as best as I can. To understand the things that are important to them (even if it’s the name of their favorite Pokemon) and to make those things important to me.

Because being a kid is hard. But we adults have been there and we’re the best ones to help them navigate their way. 🙂

P.S. I had many opportunities to walk beside kids this past week at an academic camp I was helping with. It was a wonderful experience, one that left me with little time to sit in front of a computer (hence the lateness of this post!), but one I will treasure forever.

For some reason the Spice Girls’ song, “Stop” came to mind as I wrote this post. I think the chorus applies well. 😉

Which kids in your life have you had the joy of walking beside?

My Novella’s Cover Reveal!

Okay, so following last week’s blog post, I’ve been making an effort to pin down that monster inside my head (or at least attempt to squash it by sitting on it!), so I could get enough courage to share more about my novella with you.

First of all, you might be wondering why am I referring to my book as a novella? That’s because a novel contains over 40,000 words, while a novella has anywhere between 17,000 – 40,000. Since mine is about 5,000 words shy of a novel, it falls into the latter category. I don’t mind though because for an introvert, 35,000 words is a lot to squeeze out. 🙂

So here is a look at my book’s cover, which was designed by Deborah Bradseth of Tugboat Design. She is super talented, professional, and easy to work with. I highly recommend her services!

Straight to You (1)

Straight to YouStraight To You

ISBN-13: 978-0692245576

Release Date: August 2014

And here’s the book in a nutshell:

Wanted: A modern knight in shining armor (white horse optional)

Young, sweet and naive, Ashlynn Peters is ever the optimist when it comes to love, but even she is surprised when she crosses paths with a real life Prince Charming. Jeremy Adams, her childhood crush, is back in town. He is even more sweet and handsome than she remembers, and also much more intriguing than any man she’s dated before.

Ashlynn finds herself falling hard for Jeremy, only to discover that he may not be the perfect guy she thinks he is. Will she make the choice to look past Jeremy’s tarnished armor or will she give up her chances of ever reaching happily ever after?

Inspired by the author’s own love story, this romantic novella will have you laughing, dreaming, and wondering if fairy tales really do come true.

———-

The book title is based on the song God Bless the Broken Roadsung here by Carrie Underwood.

Whew, now that that’s out in the open, I’m looking forward to getting the whole book out there for (gulp) all to read. 🙂

What do you think of the cover? Let me know!