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


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. 


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. 


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


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...


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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Anniversary sale!

As you may or may not know, today is the one year anniversary of the release of my very first novel. To celebrate, Still the Song is 10% off in the Createspace store! Just use code 3TYQBZ6R at checkout. This code is good now through Friday, June 5th at midnight EST. Enjoy!

Thank you so much for all the love you've shown me in the past year! :)

One year!

An entire year ago, Still the Song was published! How has it been a year already? I think I speak for everyone when I say that time flies much too quickly!

In this last year, I have experienced a lot of little proud, exciting moments surrounding the publishing of my very first novel. Some five-star Amazon reviews, readers posting their photos of my book on Instagram, people that don't even like to read telling me they couldn't put my book down...Wonderful, humbling moments that I will never forget!

When I first began writing Still the Song in early May 2013, I didn't plan to do anything with it. I was content with reading new scenes to my husband and passing along chapters to my cousin. But as the story began to come together, and my enthusiasm for the storyline and its characters took a hold of me, I became convinced that sharing it was something I had to do. I had to do it for myself first, just to prove to myself that I could accomplish it. And if people actually liked it, that would be a plus.

Writing a book and publishing it was something I viewed as impossible when I was a kid. It seemed as unlikely as becoming a famous actor or musician. Fortunately, times have changed, and we can attain these dreams on our own through self-publishing. And I'm still so proud of myself for sticking to it and seeing it through to the end. It feels good to achieve a goal in the face of pesky self-doubt. There were a lot of steps involved to make this book happen. There were a lot of things I had to teach myself in physically building the interior of the book. There were so many times when I let myself get overwhelmed and questioned my ability to do it, but I pushed through it and made it. My book isn't perfect, but it's mine.

I haven't sold thousands (or even hundreds) of copies, my book doesn't have a crazy, awesome, and bustling fandom, nor are Jonah and Hannah every teenage girl's OTP ('one true pairing' for those who didn't know), but that's okay. The kind words I've received, the enthusiastic enjoyment that has been expressed to me, has meant the world to me. No, Hollywood hasn't adapted my novel into a film (in which Chace Crawford would surely star as Jonah and become my BFF), but you can search for my book on the computer at Barnes & Noble and it comes up in the results. That probably amuses me more than it should, but I think it's pretty darn cool. More than one person has told me they hate to read, but stayed up half the night reading my book because they couldn't stop. For some reason, that really thrills me. It's such a compliment! It makes me feel so honored that someone would sacrifice their sleep just to read my words!

I am so grateful to every single person who has read my book (and who will in the future!). You took a chance on a self-published piece of fiction that had every possibility of being excruciatingly amateur (and hey, maybe it was), but you supported me and you built me up, and I thank all of you. I hope to keep filling those empty spaces on your bookshelves with stories that keep you reading through the night, with characters you can fall in love with and never forget. It would be an honor.

And once again, some things I'm into lately...

1.) Sleeping At Last's latest music project, Atlas: Year Two. You probably know how much I love Sleeping At  Last (whom I stole this favorites list idea from, if you recall). He has released his first two songs from this first EP in the series. "Life" is an incredible song, about the birth of his daughter. Truly beautiful, as always! You can subscribe to Ryan's Atlas: Year Two project here.
2.) Castro the band. Any American Idol fans out there? Do you remember Jason Castro from season 7? The one with the dreads (except he doesn't have them anymore). Well, he and his younger siblings, Michael (who auditioned and made it to Hollywood in seasons 8 & 9 and is an incredible singer and fun YouTuber who I just love) and Jackie, have finally come together to form their own band. They've released one song so far and I'm excited to see all they're going to do together. They're going to be great! Check out their first music video.
3.) Pretty Little Liars summer premiere. Yeah, I'm pretty dorky, so I totally watch PLL. Not sure if I'm too old to like it, but I do. The summer season premiered tonight and I was all creeped out and in suspense as per usual. Looking forward to seeing where it's all headed!
4.) My pug, CRAWFORD. Yay, he has a name! It only took us a week to name him. This little furry furnace is currently sleeping on me and making me all hot. He's an ugly sleeper, all twitchy with eyes partially open and wandering (Ew?). He's in that obnoxious puppy stage, and it's taken some adjusting for my 3-year-old son, Jude, but Crawford is pretty cute, and pugs are the best.