Tuesday, April 4, 2017

PAPER WALLS is here!

Today is the day! It's finally here! I'm so pleased to announce the release of PAPER WALLS! Thank you so much for all of your support and your love on this journey!


What is PAPER WALLS about?

Cole MacHendrick is all mystery and gloom. And he’s about to change Leighton’s life…whether he likes it or not.

When Leighton Tucker goes off to college alongside her best friends, Quinn and Wesley, she isn’t quite prepared for Cole—her beautiful but rude psych project partner. As Cole lets his guard slip, Leighton finds herself caring for the broken boy with a secret past.

Despite Cole’s warnings, Leighton dives in blindly, hoping to heal him the way he’s healing her. But will she ever get to see who he really is? Or will the darkness Cole carries obliterate everything?

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Paper Walls is finished!

I finished Paper Walls!

Okay, just the first draft. But still! That is the biggest step in the entire process. It's the bones of the story. For me, it's the part that takes the longest.

After a year and seven months, I have 114,810 words. And now it's time for the editing stage!




I'm so excited to have completed my story! It's easy to worry that somewhere along the way, I'll lose the story, or hit a dry spot and find out that there's nothing more to write, leaving the story severely lacking and unfinished. But I stuck with it, I pushed past the writer's block on several occasions, and I finished it! 

The work isn't over yet, of course. It took me five months to edit and format Still the Song. But since it was my first novel, a lot of that time was spent teaching myself to literally build my entire interior and cover. 

I've really fallen in love with Paper Walls. I actually can't decide which of my two novels I love more. I didn't think it was possible to create anything after Still the Song that I could have such a passion for. I couldn't fathom loving any of my characters the way I love Jonah and Hannah. But here I am, so sad to be done with my late nights of creating the stories of Cole, Leighton, Wesley, and Delaney. I hope you love them too! 

Paper Walls is still set for a fall release. I will be revealing the cover this summer! 


Friday, February 12, 2016

I'm a Christian...But I don't write Christian fiction

I am a Christian. I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember. My faith is a vital piece of who I am. It’s the foundation on which I build my life. 

But I don’t write Christian fiction. 

Not every writer who is a Christian is a Christian writer. And that's okay! I don’t speak for anyone other than myself here, but I don’t feel called to write Christian books. I have read and enjoyed a few Christian novels, and I’m not at all knocking the genre, but it's not where my passion lies. 

Where my passion does lie, is in creating more wholesome fiction in the mainstream world. Is my writing 100% family friendly without a shred of offensive material? No. But it’s realistic. And I can pepper in characters who have life-like flaws and have made relatable mistakes, but who also have integrity and the desire to do what’s right (whether they follow through or not—they have minds of their own, am I right?).

As a Christian who is a writer, it's sometimes daunting to put my work out there. It's easy to worry what people will think—people who know what I stand for. But not every character can have the same moral belief system. That would be unrealistic. Not every character can constantly say or do "the right thing." What kind of cookie-cutter, robotic character-ridden story would that be? A boring and far-fetched one at best. 

So that brings me to a few aspects of modern fiction I would like to touch on, and how I approach them (or don’t) in my writing—not to tell other writers how to write or to tell other readers what to read—just to paint a better picture of who I am as a writer, and how my faith affects my writing.



Photo credit: Aaron Burden // Unsplash


Language 

If you’ve read Still the Song, you know that my characters curse from time to time. Sometimes it’s for comic effect, but usually it’s out of anger or distress. To me, this is very realistic. Most people (unless they’re a saint or a child) tend to curse when they’re angry. I know I’m guilty of that. I don’t love vulgarity, but what kills a heated literary argument faster than a severely watered-down expletive? I try to tone it down as much as possible, but my characters don’t call each other poo-poo heads or cotton-headed ninny muggins. 

However, you will never see the use of “GD” in my writing (its euphemistic form is “gosh darn,” if you’re not sure what I’m referring to). Personally, I find that one the most offensive. I won’t use any form of “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” Jesus Christ is the name of my Savior, not a curse word. That said, I also feel the F-word is universally offensive. It was edited out of the first draft of Still the Song, where it appeared only once. I’m not entirely opposed to using that word in dialogue, but only if it is absolutely necessary. Arguably, bad language is never necessary, but since you can’t physically see or hear these characters, colorful language goes a long way in conveying extreme emotion in profoundly dire situations. So far, the F-word appears twice in my current work, Paper Walls. I feel that the characters who used it were justified in their usage, as they were in very furious or emotional situations. 

Some may not agree with my usage of language, especially those in the Christian realm, but that’s okay. We all have different convictions. For me, it’s important to write a believable secular book, to get positive messages out there in a realistic manner. 


Sex

These days, sex is a central topic everywhere. Not just in entertainment. Sex has become so typical and casual in our society. It’s becoming more and more rare to read a book (or see a movie) where no one has sex. Some storylines are centered around the very act. 

Personally, I don’t enjoy reading steamy sex scenes. I find them awkward and uncomfortable. I do not judge writers who write love scenes (it takes a lot of bravery!) or readers who enjoy books that contain them. To each their own! But you won’t stumble across any sex scenes in any of my novels. 

This was something I struggled with, to be honest. When I was writing Still the Song, I had a hard time deciding what was realistic and what was a forcing of my own beliefs. I believe in saving sex for marriage. I know and respect that not everyone shares that belief. As a Christian writing a not-necessarily-Christian love story, I felt like I was expected to produce the typical scenario. Because everyone has sex, right? Ultimately, I decided to go against the grain and give my characters some self-control and patience. Because it’s also cool to wait, and we should be allowed to share that message without reservation. 

Does that mean all of my characters are virgins and waiting for marriage? No. Still the Song readers know of Jonah and Hannah’s past. And in my current work, Paper Walls, some of the characters are still virgins—some by choice, some by default. And some are not virgins—some regret it, some are happy to play the field. Just like in “real life.” The subject of sex comes up between characters, just as it would with actual real-life teenagers and young adults. It’s not a taboo topic. It’s a word that I keep using here: realistic

However, I like creating characters who value sex as a sacred act of love—not just something as casual as a kiss, where saying “I love you” is viewed as a bigger deal than sex on a first date. I’m well aware that not everyone views sex in the same way, but that’s the beauty of diversity. Everyone is different, just as all characters are different. We won’t be able to relate to every single aspect of every single character we read about, and that’s okay. The belief that sex is sacred has just as much of a right to be represented in fiction as the trend that sex is casual and inevitable. I don’t write to shove my values in other people’s faces, or to shame or convict, but to portray a different demographic that is very real and very underrated. 


Drugs and alcohol

I’m not against the use of drugs and alcohol in my writing, but I don’t glorify it. I'm currently writing a character who is a smoker (which has honestly been a fun challenge to depict accurately since I've never smoked). There is a decent amount of inebriation in Still the Song. If you’ve read it, you can attest to the fact that it causes problems on a few occasions. Some people don’t agree with the consumption of alcohol, but the average person does drink. It’s a typical part of life for most. People party, people drink to unwind, to celebrate, to chase their pain away…so from time to time, my characters will participate in such activities. And some won't. Because everyone—in real life and fiction—is different.

I don't have a problem with other people drinking (responsibly!), but I personally do not drink, 1. because my medication requires abstaining from alcohol, and 2. for a lack of interest. I’ve never tasted anything that I’ve really liked. I absolutely detest the taste of beer. And to be quite honest, I am perfectly content with Mountain Dew. ;)

So far, I haven’t had any characters who abuse drugs. I guess I wouldn't be opposed to that if it fit into a storyline, but it would never be to condone it. 



So there it is. My random thoughts on the popular, sometimes controversial, elements in today’s fiction. I felt the need to address this topic, maybe as somewhat of a disclaimer, especially for those who know me and what I stand for. I would never want to compromise my integrity or have people judge my beliefs based on what kind of characters I produce. They are not always a testament to my personal character or beliefs. But to always instill every single one of my beliefs and ideals into my characters would be unrealistic. My books are just fiction, not autobiographies. 

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What are your favorite types of characters to read about? Do you enjoy the flawed, tragic characters, or the do-good'ers? Do you enjoy characters who are a lot like you, or ones who are your complete opposite? Writers, how do you approach topics that don't coincide with your personal beliefs? 



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

PAPER WALLS

Photo credit: Elijah Henderson // Unsplash


Bake a cake. Pull out the streamers. Throw some confetti. PAPER WALLS is coming.

Fall is already (in my humble opinion) the best season of all. Why not make it even better by releasing my second book? When the trees are transforming with gorgeous golden hues for you lucky ones up north, and summer is still in full swing for us unfortunate ones in the south, my book will be ready for your hands, your mind, and (hopefully!) your heart.

Secrets. Love. Friendship. Bravery. Laughter. Pain. All these things and more fill the cracks and creases of PAPER WALLS. Leighton, Cole, Wesley, and Quinn wait for you on these pages––waiting to come alive in your imagination. But more on them later...


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Things I love right now:

Fixer Upper – Oh my goodness. I could watch it day and night. Can I just shiplap my entire house please?
BookOutlet – Super cheap, awesome books delivered straight to your door? A dream come true. So far, since discovering them, I'm 21 books richer and counting.
Beats+ Pill – I LOVE this portable bluetooth speaker my hubby got me for Christmas. Small in size, but huge in sound quality. I use it several times a day. Every. single. day.