I’m taking a book-business breather for the month of August and focusing some much-needed attention on my house. This is counter to the whole rapid-release strategy and my basic nature as I would much rather write a story than clean my garage.
But clean my garage I did. My daughter, who made me this sign a few years ago when I said I wanted a clean garage, helped me. She must have had a change of heart, because she helped me get to corner and crannies that probably hadn’t seen daylight in 24+ years. Today, I’m tackling my bookshelves. A friend once told me she liked my bookshelves because you could tell they’re used. Which was just a kind way of saying they’re in a constant state of messy flux. (I should also say that my bookshelves aren’t a good reflection of my reading habits since I’m like that guy in the parables who builds bigger barns to keep his stuff. I have not only my house, but two vacation rentals where I keep the books I love.) I’ll post pictures.
Why am I taking a book-business breather when it’s in direct opposition to the marketing guru’s advice? This quote might explain it best.
“The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough.” Ezra Taft Benson
I’ve never liked numbers, but recently I’ve felt like the numbers and I were at war, and yes, I took Chris Fox’s course for Authors Who Hate Math. I still hate math. Maybe someday I’ll win the marketing war, but for a moment–or a month–I’m taking a breather. I want to enjoy writing again. I’m not sure attacking the cobwebs in the corners of my house will help, but it can’t hurt…unless you’re a spider.
I’m rewriting my first published novel, Stealing Mercy. Next month, it will be published as Verity and the Villain. I just got my new cover, and I’m pretty much in love with it.
herbs, like eucalyptus and wormwood, can be used to repel animals and insects.
From The Recipes of Verity Faye
York, New York
York City’s night noises seeped through the wall chinks and window: the jingle
of horse harnesses, the stomping of hooves, the mournful howl of a dog, but one
noise, a noise that didn’t belong, jarred Verity awake.
creak on the stairs that led to her apartment. The third from the top, five
steps past Mr. Bidwell’s door. Only those wishing to reach her home crossed
that step. She never entertained visitors in the tiny attic; she wasn’t
in bed, she held her breath while the unwelcome guest paused. The walls were
thin, the door as substantial as paper, the lock inconsequential. Her thoughts
raced and her body shook. A shock of cold hit when she slipped from the bedding.
The wooden floor felt like ice beneath her feet. The embers in the grate had
burnt to a smolder and her shivering had as much to do with cold as with fear.
padded through the doorway to the sitting room. Dying coals in the potbelly
stove cast an orange glow and shadows loomed large. Grabbing a fire poker from
the hearth, she waited for a knock on the door. She tried to think of an
innocent reason for a neighbor to call, an emergency or crisis in which she
could assist, but when no knock came, she crept behind the pie safe stocked
with the previous day’s unsold pies and pastries. Stars winked through the
window and Verity wondered if their pale light could penetrate her chiffon
shift. She felt naked, alone, and friendless.
could call out. Let the visitor know she was awake, alert, and fire poker
armed. Perhaps someone on the street below would hear, but would they come to
her aid? Her only neighbor, Mr. Bidwell, as old as Satan and twice as mean,
would never stir from his bed for her. As she so often did, Verity missed her
father and longed for family.
splintering wood shattered the air as the lock gave way.
the room, a mirror, tarnished and misty, gave a wavy reflection of the opening
door. Verity slid a fraction lower behind the pie safe. The odors of the pies
mingled with her own smell of fear.
the mirror, she saw first a boot and then a thigh. Then all of Mr. Steele came
into view, his face a study of lust and cruelty. He stood in the semi-darkness
where a shaft of moonlight glistened on the six-inch knife in his gloved hand. Verity
choked on a sour tasting sob.
Suitors don’t carry knives.
Steele pushed the door open wider, inviting in a breeze that circulated through
the room. She knew why she’d been attracted to him. He looked and moved like
royalty. His dark hair curled away from his forehead and his lean muscles
rippled beneath his breeches. She thought of his laughter, the lilt of his
voice when he asked if he could call, the gleam in his eye when she’d accepted
his gift. Verity fingered the silver charm, a four-leaf clover, he’d given her.
She’d tied it with a ribbon and wore it around her neck. Why hadn’t she taken
it off when she’d denied his suit? When had she become suspicious of his
flattery? Why was she not surprised to find him in her room past midnight
wielding a knife?
course, he’d been angry and insulted that a mere shop girl would reject his
favors. Impoverished girls without families and connections should fawn over a handsome,
wealthy, and prominent man such as Steele, but Verity wasn’t typical, and she
wasn’t as impoverished as she pretended to be. And so, when Mr. Steele had
invited her on a voyage to South America without proposing marriage, she’d
turned him down.
whispered Mr. Steele had also invited her friend Belle on such a voyage. Then
Belle had disappeared.
held her breath. Steele passed the pie safe and paused as if thinking.
Mustering strength from the muscles that spent long hours kneading dough and
beating eggs, gathering courage grown from burying first her mother and then
her father, Verity shoved the pie safe and it gave way with a creak and
shudder. The safe caught Mr. Steele on the shoulder and he stumbled under the
assault of the swinging doors and sailing pies. Apple, cherries, peaches, the
sweet cinnamony odors of Faye’s wares pelted Mr. Steele. He danced in the
pastry goop and landed hard on one knee. In a different circumstance, she’d
have laughed at his abandoned dignity and awkward bobbling, but now she stepped
into the fallen pastries with her mouth in a stern line, her anger as hot as
blow from the poker sent him to the floor. A second blow brought his arms over
his head. With the third, he winced, fell face first into the smashed pastries.
she stopped beating him, her arms were shaking and her breath ragged. Blood
oozed from behind his ear. His body sprawled in the spilled pies; his face
pressed against the floorboards. She nudged him with the poker, but he didn’t
stir. For a long moment, she stood above him, waiting for a sign of life.
heart raced as she considered her options. The police? Would they believe her
plea of self-defense? She tried to imagine herself in a court of law, pitted against
a courtroom of men.
his side with his limbs at awkward angles and his eyes half shut, Steele lay
motionless in a mess of stewed fruit and crust. A smashed, oozing cherry clung
to his eyebrow. And then she noticed papers protruding from his jacket pocket.
It looked like passage fare, and she considered it with a hammering heart.
beside him, she drew the papers loose, her fingers shaking so badly the papers
caused a noisy breeze. A silver key slipped from the packet to the floor and
landed with a ping. The skeleton key had a curlicue top with embossed leaves
swirling around the words Lucky Island. The papers were first-class
passage to Seattle. It seemed Mr. Steele had been undeterred from the voyage
he’d proposed. The boat left at first light.
had an aunt in Seattle.
Tilly, her father had called his sister. Verity hadn’t met her aunt, but Silly
Tilly always remembered Verity’s birthday.
not go? Verity turned her head away from the tiny sitting room and looked out
the window to the river. Hastily drawn plans formed in her mind. Perhaps Lucky
Island was in the Puget Sound. It sounded more fortuitous than Faye’s Bakery
off Elm. Would her aunt take her in? Verity had written Tilly of her father’s
death, but hadn’t, as yet, heard a reply. Perhaps an invitation was already in
went to the wardrobe and tossed through her dresses, nothing seemed practical.
What did one wear for flight? She caught sight of her father’s trunk and nursed
an idea as she drew out her father’s clothes.
well-worn and loose, she slipped on and tucked the hems into her boots. She
rolled the sleeves of the cotton work shirt and shrugged into a boiled wool
coat. She tugged at the belt holding up her father’s pants and took a deep
breath in an effort to restore the calm she’d lost the moment she heard the
boot on the stairs. The jacket made her warm and the faint smell of leather and
shoeshine she always associated with her father gave her courage. It felt odd
and freeing to move without the encumbrance of skirts and petticoats. She kept
one eye on Mr. Steele as she packed the knapsack: her father’s watch, her
mother’s bible, a bag of gold coins, a loaf of barley bread.
sat down at the table where she’d taken her solitary meals and struggled to
control her shaking hands. Her handwriting looked spidery, the ink blotchy. A
splash of ink stained her father’s denim work shirt, but Verity didn’t care.
To whom it may concern, I, Verity
Faye, have taken my life on the night of December 15, 1888, she wrote, but she mentally
added, to Seattle. She left the note
on her unmade bed.
snuck a glance at the blood still seeping from the man’s temple and fought the
bile rising in her throat. She squatted and pulled out a locked trunk from
under her bed. Her shivering increased, making it difficult for her fingers to
work the key. Quickly, she rifled through her mother’s things which smelled of
must, neglect and a lingering hint of lavender. Forgive me, Mama, she thought,
when she found the velvet bag containing the Bren jewels.
trusting the sapphires in the knapsack, she tucked the bag next to her heart
beneath the ink-stained shirt. Then, she went to the safe where she kept the
shop’s proceeds. Perhaps someone, most likely her landlord, would wonder, but
who would question the scant means she left behind? The coins seemed to weigh a
hundred pounds and they jingled like a tambourine in her father’s pockets.
her father’s death four months prior, there’d been times when Verity
contemplated selling the jewels, but the bakery had become increasingly
successful. Verity took a deep breath, inhaling the warm pastry smells that
permeated her life. She would miss the shop, and it would only be a few hours
until her customers would miss her. Eventually, her landlord would bang on the
door, demanding rent, fair compensation. Would he find Mr. Steele?
hats hung on the hook by the door, a simple straw affair and a summer bonnet she
wore walking. Verity tucked the bonnet beneath her arm, shouldered the knapsack
and then bade a silent goodbye to the only home she’d ever known.
she felt it. A shift in the air. She stopped, listened, but heard only her racing
noise seemed amplified as Verity wrenched open what remained of the door and plunged
down the squeaky steps. Outside, she sucked in the cold night air and let it
fill her lungs. She stole through an alley, relying on memory and moonlight to
guide her through the towering rows of dark shops. When she reached the avenue,
light from the street lamps twinkled on the dew-covered sidewalk. Her flat
leather boots made no sound on the cobblestone street. An alley cat kept watch
on a window sill and a rat scurried beneath a trash bin. Verity lowered her
father’s felt cap and hunched her chin into his scarf when she passed a pair of
streetwalkers. The women, bruised and blue with cold called out to her, but she
fled down the avenue to where the Brooklyn Bridge crossed the East River.
stopped on the bridge, the same bridge from which Mrs. Steele had thrown
herself in a fit of melancholy a little more than a year ago. Verity felt the
wind pull at her clothes and tease tendrils of hair from the cap. She sent
Claris Steele a silent prayer of gratitude for the inspiration. After a glance
over her shoulder to ensure her solitude, Verity tossed the feathered bonnet
into the swirling dark water and watched it disappear.
filled Trent Michael’s eyes, nose, and throat and the sun beat upon his neck, but
he didn’t mind. Leaning against the railing, he watched the beauty in the ring.
A silky midnight mane, a shivering amber coat, intelligent eyes, and long, lean
legs. Perfection. He shifted and squinted into the sun and let his gaze rest on
the distant mountains. It’d be a long hard ride leading the untamed stallion
through Southern California’s brown hills, the central valley and Oregon’s
mountain passes, but by the time they’d reach Seattle, Sysonby
would be eating out of his hand and nickering his name.
be begging your pardon, sir,” Mugs said behind him.
didn’t take his eyes off the horse. Syonsby threw his head back and thrashed
the air with lightning speed hooves while a stable hand scrambled from the
ring. He’d enjoying breaking this one. “Yes, Mugs, what is it?” he asked over
his shoulder. If they left at tomorrow’s first light, they could reach the
mountains within a week.
turned and saw his driver holding a telegram and wearing a happy, no, exultant, expression upon his typically
hang-dog face. Trent placed his hat on his head and fingered the brim,
pushed back his curly hair and tried to steady his twitching lips. “It’s from
had guessed that. If he refused the telegram, he could say with a certain
degree of honesty that he’d never seen it. He’d be on the trail by morning and
his grandmother’s message would be roasting in a campfire by nightfall. Trent
studied Mugs. The man who typically had the demeanor and appearance of a troll
practically shimmied with anticipation. Trent trusted him implicitly, but he
knew Mugs could never match wits with Hester Michaels. Mugs, like most people
or animals, hadn’t a prayer of success if pitched against his grandmother. He’d
never be able to keep a secret from her himself.
inhaled the mixed odors of hay, dung and sweat and took off his hat to shoo
away the flies. If he tried to deny knowledge of the telegram, Hester would
wring the truth from Mugs within minutes and then Trent would be mucking out
stables, waiting for the day when she deeded him the ranch. On her deathbed.
odd years of shed shoveling.
frowned at Mugs and held out his hand for the telegram.
MISSING STOP RETURN IMMEDIATELY STOP”
drove Verity to the galley. She’d been able to keep to her room for several
weeks, only emerging for solitary meals and midnight strolls on the deck, but
by the time the ship had landed in Los Angeles, her stomach cried for food,
real food. The weeks of tinned beans she’d endured were about to end. During
her last few jaunts from her berth, she’d heard the rumors of tangy oranges, bite-size
grapes, and juicy plums. Just thinking of fresh produce made her head swim and
stomach ache. She stopped in the doorway and watched the men seated at the
of a sense of self-preservation, she’d kept to herself, but loneliness and
boredom had driven her to excessive eavesdropping and she’d learned more than
just the passenger’s names and faces. Curly, Captain Kane, de la Mar and a man
she didn’t recognize sat at a card table. The newcomer must have boarded in Los
Angeles. Cards, poker chips, and beverages sat on the tables. No food. Her
stomach groaned a complaint.
a bald stocky man, must have heard her belly growl. He caught her expression
and grunted in her direction. “No vittles yet, lad.”
felt tears rising and blinked hard, cursing her weakness. The room smelled of
ale and fish and the ship rose and fell with the tide, making her empty belly
cramp. Occasionally, the ship bumped against the dock with a smack and a
shudder and while the ropes as thick as her thigh that held the ship to the
dock, groaned at the restraint.
can always go on shore, there’s sure to be hawkers in the port,” wizened
Captain Kane told her. She glanced out the window. A breeze blew in and she both
smelled and heard the temptations of dry land. She sat down hard in a chair at
a table close enough to watch the men and practice patience.
Kane grumbled into his hand of cards, although Verity saw he held a pair of
kings. Curly leaned back and rubbed his hand over his gleaming bald head. The captain
sighed as if he’d soon regret his wager and pulled a jangle of coins from his
pocket. A wild glint lit his eyes when Curly laid an unusual token on the
stakes,” de la Mar murmured, sitting forward, his lean frame angling toward the
how’d the likes of you get hold of something like that?” asked the newcomer
with the sort of jaw that looked like it’d been chiseled in stone. Verity
hadn’t remembered seeing him before, and she would have. He had a cleft chin
and his defined muscles bore a resemblance to the Greek statues she’d seen on
display in the traveling artifact show. He turned toward her and his gaze lingered
on her lips. A slow smile curved his mouth and he took a long drink of ale before
returning to his pair of fives.
I got my charms,” Curly laughed and looked smug.
wouldn’t be trading that away so lightly,” de la Mar said, studying his cards
as if trying to conjure a flush.
leaned forward and caught sight of the token. Her breath caught in her throat.
that’s worth playing for, hey lad?” Curly threw her a bawdy grin. Verity
blinked at him. She wanted to touch the token, to feel its heft and size, to
study it and see if it could be as similar to the key in her pocket as it
Kane threw the man with a cleft chin a hostile glance. “You acquainted with
that particular coin, Wallace?”
the man with the cleft chin, said, “I’m not.”
Verity was. Her fingers sought the key in her pocket. They matched. She was
sure of it. The key she’d taken from Mr. Steele matched the token on the table.
there token can buy you one of the finest wenches in the country,” Curly
don’t just let any Joe into their club,” de la Mar said. “How you get that,
Curly? Don’t tell me it was on account of your beauty.”
your smell,” Wallace said, smirking.
the smell of money,” Captain Kane, said, laying down his cards, the kings
staring up at him. He beamed as his companions threw down their hands with oaths
exactly do you get with that token?” Verity asked the men in her practiced
Kane smiled. “I just won me a trip to Lucky Island.”
fidgeted. “And Lucky Island is–”
of the finest brothels in the country,” the captain finished for her.
that token gains you entrance for a night?” This was the longest conversation
she’d had since leaving New York and it made her nervous. Any moment she
expected her voice to crack, and yet she had to ask.
whole night?” de la Mar scoffed and Curly, who’d been taking a swig of ale,
flushed Verity’s cheeks, and she looked out the window again. She caught sight
of a broad shoulder man pushing up the gangplank. He had blond hair tied back
in a short queue. He walked with athletic grace, but something about the way he
moved said he didn’t want to get on the boat. It was almost as if he was
fighting an invisible string that tried to keep him on land.
you imagine having a key to Lucky Island?” de la Mar asked.
demand a rematch,” Curly said, watching his prize token slip away.
turned her back on the man climbing the gangplank and asked, “This Lucky
Island, is it here in California?”
the finest wenches are in Seattle,” Captain Kane said, smiling and pushing away
from the table. He flipped the coin into the air and caught it mid-air.
“Gentlemen, I believe it’s time to set sail.”
stood on the deck of the ship, his stomach matching the ocean’s churning. A
light spray fell over him, but he didn’t flinch. He tried to focus on the emerging
moon and the star’s glinty light and not the dark, rolling tide pitching both the
ship and the contents of his stomach. Gazing out over the hills where the
mountains met the purpling sky, he could imagine Mugs, Sysonby and the other
horses cresting the mountains before making camp. Transporting a team of horses
single-handedly wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worthwhile. Mugs would first
break and then train Sysonby, and no matter how often Trent rode or fed him,
Sysonby would always belong to Mugs. Despite the paperwork.
documentation. It said so much and did so little. He felt the weight of the
ranch settle across his shoulders. He told himself it’d soon be his, but he was
beginning to suspect that even if his gram deeded him the ranch, as she’d
promised, as long as she had spurs on her boots, it would always be hers. And
his. They both loved it, but sometimes, no, most
of the time, they wanted to run it differently.
moon, a slip of silver, peeked through a haze of clouds. A star emerged. The
ship rose on a swell and fell. Trent tightened his fingers around the rail,
cursing his gram and his weak stomach. Maybe if he just didn’t eat he could
make it to Seattle with the majority of his insides intact. Sailing turned him
mean wind blew the clouds shrouding the moon and a beam of light landed on a
lone figure near the bow. She fought the wind for her hat, and her hair, a
tangle of dark honey, swirled around her head. The hat, once pinched between
her fingers, caught another gust, set sail and skittered across the deck.
woman managed to capture her hair into a twist, and she looked over the deck in
his direction. Her eyes widened when she saw him, and she backed up against the
bent and retrieved the hat nestled against his boot. He held it out to her, and
she stood, like a wild colt being offered an apple, unsure of whether to bolt
or indulge. His eyes swept over her and he noticed for the first time her
breeches. At the ranch, his gram and sister often wore pants, but he knew it
wasn’t typical female attire. The hat, Trent realized, completed the woman’s
disguise. She probably didn’t realize her breeches did little to hide her
curves. He couldn’t tell in the moonlight, but he guessed she’d bound her
breasts. Without taking her eyes off his face, she twisted her hair into a knot
at the top of her head. She’d travel in disguise, but wouldn’t sacrifice her
hair for her rouse. Devious, yet vain.
held the hat out to her, chuckling, his seasickness forgotten. Would she hold
character? Pretend that most young men had hair that fell to their waist when
walked toward him and he noted she moved with grace and poise despite the
rollicking waves. He gripped the rail with one hand and held the hat with the other.
thank ye, sir,” she said in a deep modulated tone that she’d probably spent
weeks perfecting. How long had she been at the masquerade and why? Was he the
only one who knew? “You’re welcome, lad.”
He emphasized the last word.
moved for the hat, but he held it tight. “Hold on. What’s your name?”
need to be nervous, I’m just making conversation. Where you from?”
grinned deepened despite the rolling and tossing waves. Seattle was still a
small town with an even smaller population of women. Although the city was
rapidly growing, he felt confident he would have recognized her. “So, this is a
homebound trip for you.”
stuck out her tell-tale clean-shaven chin. “Yes, sir.”
suppose I’ll be seeing you, then, in town, perhaps at the Lone Stag.”
face was as blank as a seasoned poker player. He could tell she wanted to ask
why anyone would meet at a lonely deer. “It’s a tavern,” he whispered moving
closer, inhaling her warm scent. “When lying, it’s always best to stay as near
the truth as possible.”
ship rocked with a strong wave, the girl grabbed her hat and said in a soft
soprano voice, “I wouldn’t know.”
spray hit him in the face and when he finished blinking, she had gone. He
looked across the deck; all was still and dark. He wiped his forehead with his
sleeve and moved away from the rail. The slick deck made any movement precarious.
Walking took nearly all his concentration, but then he saw a flash of movement
in the moonlight. He hurried after her, as best he could.
tripped down the stairs leading to her berth, her heart thrashing and her
breath ragged. She’d been on the ship for weeks and no one had guessed or
suspected her disguise. Or so she supposed. She blamed the hair. She should
have cut it. He never would have guessed if she’d cut her hair. Momentarily
bracing herself against the wall as a wave tilted the ship, she considered her
options. She’d have to stay in her room and have food delivered by the
revolting little man, whom, she was quite sure, pilfered off her tray. Her
stomach clenched when she thought of all the lovely produce that had been
loaded onto the ship in Los Angeles. Oranges, grapes, and cucumbers. She
glanced over her shoulder, looking for the man from the deck, but saw no one,
just a long corridor lit by flickering lamps. Perhaps he would keep her secret.
She couldn’t trust him or anyone. Steele had taught her well.
ship tossed on a wave and the lights wavered. In the hall, all of the berths
were closed and only a few had candlelight peeking beneath the doors. When a
man spoke in her ear, she jumped.
Steele,” a voice drawled. “Why I do believe you’ve lost a hundred pounds since
we last met.”
heart stopped. Had she fooled no one? Had she’d only hoodwinked herself? She
whirled to see the man named Wallace from the card-table standing in a doorway.
He had his shirt undone revealing his ripped chest muscles.
don’t believe we’ve met,” she said in her best baritone.
Steele, I’m offended. We’ve shared countless business ventures.” He held the
door to his room open, exposing a berth with gray tumbled sheets. “Presently, I
think we have something to…discuss, payment for my discretion?”
Is there something in your life slowing you down? Is there someone whose conversation fills your mind with dark thoughts? Is there an addiction that trips you up? Is there a compulsion eating up your time and energy? Who, or what, is sucking your mojo?
Nothing? Really? Be honest.
Try this exercise. Set aside ten minutes where you know you won’t be interrupted. Lay flat on your back and take six deep breaths—releasing each one slowly. For the six breaths, think about nothing but your breathing. Then let your mind wander. For ten minutes you are absolutely free of your frustrations.
Now, imagine your life without that frustration. Maybe your frustration is so huge, so overwhelming, you think you can’t let it go. But you can. And what if you did? Imagine your life without that devil on your back. Imagine a day—from the moment you wake up in the morning until you go to bed—without that frustration. What would your day look like? How different would it be? How would it change you? Your behavior? Your happiness? Your thoughts?
Often the problem is not really a problem unless we make it one. We assign the power. We allow another person to constantly hurt us. We pick up the cookie, cigarette, bottle, or phone. “The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves,” William Shakespeare wrote. And that’s the worst sort of fault—the one we can root out, but don’t. The fault that eats at our self-image and kills all our hopes.
Another exercise: take any object, even one as small as an iPod, and hold it in front of your eyes. It’s all you can see. But if you move it away, you can see all sorts of things. Consider all those other things that fill your life and be grateful for the good. If you can, shake off the bad. If you can’t set it down and walk away from it, try moving it out of the forefront of your thoughts and sight.
So much easier said than done. But is it really? Sometimes we think it takes eons to change, but history tells us otherwise. The Apostle Paul went from an antagonizer (I know that’s not a word, but I can’t think of a better one) to a disciple in a few short days.
So, what can you shake off? What can you cut out of your life? How can you restart?
What if you stopped obsessing about your weight? Can you throw out your bathroom scale? Treat yourself to nourishing food? Take a walk outside? Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are a beautiful child of God?
Are there gossips or Negative-Nellys in your life? Can you find someone else to chat with? Or when you are forced into their conversation, can you steer it in a better direction? Maybe you have to say—“I’m feeling a little down, can we talk about something happy?”
Is your car a clunker? Can you replace it with a bike?
If you need some money, is there something you can sell?
If you’re lonely and bored, is there someone you can serve?
Find one thing in your life that you can absolutely live without and get rid of it. Set it down and walk away. When my friend’s husband left, she took all of his things that he left behind to the beach and built a bonfire. In the Book of Mormon when the Anti-Lehi-Nephites resolved to be a peace-loving people they buried their weapons. Is there something you can burn? Do you have weapons to bury?
I do. I’m doing it today, because it’s hard to dance with the devil on my back.
rambling and self-absorbed sort of post. Not quite sure if I’m brave enough to
They say the way you do anything is the way you do everything. With that in
mind, I’ve been thinking of how similar my book business is to my weight-loss
goals. (I know…hear me out.)
I started self-publishing about the time menopause hit, meaning that since I
first published Stealing Mercy, I gained thirty pounds. I’ve since lost about
ten (it was 17, but I gained some back over Christmas and a really long trip.)
So, here’s one very obvious
parallel. Because of my recent weight-loss success, I KNOW if I keep a daily
accounting of my diet, I’ll be more successful with my weight-loss goals. This
is also true for my book business. If I can be more disciplined and keep a
daily accounting of my marketing, I’m sure I would be more successful. What
does and doesn’t work will become increasingly obvious. With small wins, I’ll
feel more motivated. I believe if I were to spend an hour a day on marketing
(like a successful author I really admire does) it might even become fun.
(MAYBE) I could see it as a game to win.
BUT, right now, with my
weight-loss and my marketing, I pretty much hate them both, and I think it’s
because I’m not very nice to myself when I think about either of them. I’m
angry at myself (and menopause) for allowing myself to gain so much weight. It
doesn’t matter that it happens to most women my age, I somehow thought I’d be
exempt, especially since I workout 7 days a week. And likewise, my thoughts are
way too harsh and negative when I think about marketing my books. It doesn’t
matter that I’m probably doing better than most indie authors. That’s not the
point. With 30+ books out, I should be doing better than most because I have
So, what if I threw some money at
What if I joined Jenny Craig and
became a life-time member? I would probably be successful initially, but would
it last? And a better question, would I enjoy the process? (For it to last, I
believe I have to enjoy the process.) And maybe an even better question, would
I enjoy the person I may become? And I’m not talking about being a size 6. How
will I feel if I spend thousands of dollars, and I end up exactly where I am
now a year or so later?
Same thing with my book business.
What if I threw some money at it? Hire a marketing coach. Create a bunch of
audio books. Maybe I’d be successful initially, but if I didn’t keep up with it
every day, how long would it last? And would it be a lifestyle I could
comfortably embrace? How will I feel if I spend thousands of dollars, and I end
up exactly where I am now a year or so later?
Do you see the correlation?
Someone I love and admire told me
I have to work from a loving perspective. If she approaches her career from a
place of love, she’s more patient with her coworkers and clients. The money
isn’t a measuring stick. The pleasure comes in the service and satisfaction of
a job well done.
If I translated this to my books,
if I truly loved my books, I’d be passionate about the stories and I would
naturally want to share them.
If I translated this theory to my
body, I would want to nourish and care for it. I wouldn’t want to poison it with
unhealthy foods or gimmicky diets. And I’d embrace the signs of aging.
This isn’t to say that Jenny
Craig (or any other healthy diet) isn’t a great strategy. Same with hiring a
marketing coach. But in both cases, if I don’t create a sustainable lifestyle
that I enjoy and can embrace, something that I pay attention to everyday, I
might as well quit before I begin.
So, here’s the
question. Do I begin? Or is there another answer I haven’t considered?
Here’s my interpretation and application of the As If Principle: I will be happier if I:
Treat others as if
they are beloved children of God who are doing their very best with the
circumstances they’ve been given.
If I approach my tasks as
if they’ve been ordained of God and they are what God would have me do.
I will be more successful if I:
Write each blog post as
if it will go viral and inspire millions of people to do good and be good.
Write each book as if
it will be a bestseller and will inspire millions of people to be more loving
to their families, friends, and neighbors.
I will be healthier if I:
Treat my body with reverence as if it will serve my spirit for eternity.
Of course, some of these applications are just reminders—things
I already know but often forget in the busyness of my days. When I’m mad at the
cable guy, or I’m over-charged at the store, or someone has let me down again, it’s easy to forget that person
is a divine child of God.
And when I’m cleaning out a toilet, or cleaning up after my
dog, it’s easy to forget my work is important in the grand scheme of things.
And there’s nothing reverent about a cookie. But sometimes
you just want one. I’m still wrestling with this.
I’m loving the book Change
Happens, because I’ve been stuck in the Trying Harder or Stop Trying So
Hard debate. It’s interesting to me, because I definitely saw the Stop Trying
So Hard work for me.
When I co-wrote my book Telling Tales with Greta Boris, I
had very low expectations for it. I thought it would be fun, but I didn’t think
it would be something many people would be interested in. After all, it’s about
middle-aged church ladies in a small town. But now that’s it’s finished, I love this book. (Of course, I love all
of my books, but this one surprised me.) Every one of my beta-readers has said
it made them cry and laugh. One woman said every woman needs to read this book.
Did this happen because I quit Trying So Hard? My book A Ghost of a Second Chance is a little
like this, too. Ghost is the first
book I wrote knowing I would self-publish it. My other books were written as a
mystery or a romance and had hopes of attracting an agent or an editor. I wrote
Ghost for my own pleasure, and it was
a free-fall of my imagination. I still love that book because of the joy it
What if I wrote every book that same way? Would it serve me?
My family? Anyone?
I haven’t finished reading Change Happens, so I’m not sure of the answers, not that I expect
to find my answers in the book. I think I have to do this work on my own.
How about you? How do you feel about the Trying Harder and the
Stop Trying So Hard debate? Have you ever achieved your goals when you Stopped
Trying So Hard?
How about you? How do you feel about the Trying Harder and the
Stop Trying So Hard debate? Have you ever achieved your goals when you Stopped
Trying So Hard?
I’m joining a book in a week challenge tomorrow. While all the authors in the group have different goals, my goal is to complete the first draft of my current work in progress. 40k words. For me, this is an incredible goal and I hope to accomplish it by using word sprints. I made this widget to help me and I thought it might help some of you, as well. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but if you have any questions, please ask. I tried to post this table on social media, but it turned out all wonky, so I’m putting it here on my blog.
Where do you get the ideas for your books? This is the most common questions people ask writers. I typically reply, LIFE. Strange things happen, and when they do, I call them novel fodder. I collect novel fodder. I also like to people watch, eavesdrop, and take note. (Be careful what you say and do when you’re around writers.) I also like to watch documentaries, movies, and read books–of course.
I got the idea for my Witching Well series while watching a documentary on the Salem Witch trials. There was a theory that tainted water in New England caused hysteria and delusions. So, why not time travel as well? (Sure, it’s a leap, but leaping is what fiction is made for.)
The first book in my Witching Well series, The Highwayman Incident, is free today. If only the hands of time could be turned in our favor… Celia Quinn’s business lies in ruins at the hands of Jason West, the latest in a long line of scoundrels. As she seeks to restore her family’s livelihood, Celia stumbles upon lore about the local Witching Well, whose water is said to cause hysteria and psychosis. When a mysterious stranger slips Celia water from the well into her drink, she’s transported to Regency England. Her timeless adventure spans miles and centuries from modern-day New England to Merlin’s Cave in Cornwall, England. Only Jason West can save her. But Celia and Jason must tread carefully, as what happens in the past can reverberate through the ages. Their lives, hearts, and futures are caught in time’s slippery hands. The Highwayman Incident is the first book in USA Today bestselling author Kristy Tate’s Witching Well series. Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander who love time travel and yet enjoy clean and wholesome romance will love the Witching Well series. If you’re looking to be swept away in a Regency romance, buy The Highwayman Incident today. But don’t accept water from a stranger, especially when traveling in New England.
Praise for The Highwayman Incident:
An interesting blend of mystery, romance, and sci-fi with a magic Witching Well and time travel. Celia has lost her family’s business and blames Jason for taking in away. Someone slips something in her drink at a wedding and suddenly she is back in the past with someone who looks like Jason and herself, but Jason himself is there with her!!! What is going on and how can they get home? Must read. Look for the sequel – The Cowboy Encounter.
I enjoy a good time travel read and this fit the bill! This was a great quick read that more than holds your attention. The two main characters, Celia and Jason move through time to solve a very important incident involving both of their current lives. Don’t want to be a spoiler so just enjoy the book! I am ordering the next in the series
This story sounded like something you could actually almost believe. Romance without the smut. Finding out you care about someone because they have a good heart is so much more sexy than what’s under their clothes. Thank you.