So Long, 2013

Well, hi there, strangers!

The end of 2013 is upon us. I’ll refrain from asking where the heck this year went (but seriously, WHERE did it go?). Today, I want to talk about resolutions. I usually don’t take these things too seriously, because let’s be honest: those suckers last a week, maybe two, tops. If you’d asked me about mine, say, a month ago, my answer would have been automatic.

Better time management.

Exercise more often.

Read more books.

Be happy.

Pretty general stuff, right? But over the past few weeks, the internet has turned into a bit of an ugly, hostile place. And all I could think was, what’s happened to us? Why are we so quick to judge, to fight, to argue that my way is right and you are wrong, wrong, WRONG.

There’s a quote I’ve heard often that says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (It’s credited to Gandhi, but after some research, it seems it’s one of those slap-a-quote-on-a-pic-and-BOOM jobs.) Either way, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. So, what do I want to see? And more specifically, what do I want to be?

More compassionate.

More understanding.

Kinder.

I want to smile more. Laugh more. Love more.

For me, 2012 was a year of recovery. 2013 was a year of discovery. I hope that 2014 will be a year of embracing who I’ve discovered I am, flaws and all. I want to wake up each day, grateful for the air in my lungs and the beat of my heart. But more than anything, I want to give more than I take. And those aren’t just my resolutions for 2014, but for life, period.

Advertisements

Love Fiercely and Fearlessly

This post may be a bit rambly, but inspiration for it hit me like a ton of bricks this morning and I just couldn’t let it go. Besides, I’ve already had three cups of coffee. I’M GOOD, Y’ALL.

We’re coming into the holiday season, a time of year that focuses on joy and thankfulness and love. I want to talk to you guys about love this morning. It’s such a tiny, four-letter word that holds so much power, so much meaning, so much hope and promise. It’s also a word that people use loosely.

“I love this coffee so much, I could marry it.”– Michelle Smith, 11/20/2013

“I love this pizza so much, I could marry it.”– Michelle Smith, 11/19/2013

“I love Luke Bryan so much, I shall include a .gif of him in every blog post from here on out.” — Michelle Smith, 11/20/2013

That last one was totally a joke, unless y’all are okay with that, in which case . . .*ahem*

In all seriousness, I obviously have no issue in throwing that word around, but we do need need to focus on what love truly means. And not just during the holiday season, but every day of the year. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, when you love someone, really love them. Show them that love–it’s the little things that mean the most. Give them your time, your attention, your heart. That’s what love boils down to, right? Heart.

Love fiercely and fearlessly. You never know what someone may be going through. The smallest of smiles, the tiniest of waves, may be what draws them from the brink of self-destruction. How many times have we said, “___ restored my faith in humanity”? Be the restoration.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: Smile at someone today. Even if they’re a grouch and a total Scrooge and you want to shoo them away, smile. It might be the one thing that turns their day around. Isn’t that a chance worth taking?

 

Tips For My Fellow Early-Birds

Over the past couple of months, I’ve discovered something about myself: my brain is infinitely better first thing in the morning than at night. This makes things a little difficult for someone like me. To keep my depression under control, I have to have a certain amount of sleep. Of course, kiddos don’t always understand that in their toddler years, and my little guy can be a night owl at times. Plus, I’m a huge fan of the snooze button. Seriously, I’ll press that thing for an hour sometimes before getting out of bed. I’m sure my husband hates me for it.

So, I have a few tips for my fellow early-bird writers. These things help make the 4:30AM wake-up a little more bearable for me.

-Go to bed earlier. The obvious one, right? Except it’s not always so easy. I suggest cutting out electronics at least an hour before bed (eReaders, computers, even your phone). Caffeine can also keep you wide awake (well, duh). My personal rule is no caffeine after 3PM.

-Set your clothes out the night before. Also, shower at night if you’re able.

-Prepare your breakfast the night before. Your body needs good food to function properly. I whip up a bowl of overnight oats (plain oats that soak in almond milk overnight) so I can grab it on the way to my desk. Whole-wheat muffins are another favorite. Pair it with an apple and glass of water (and COFFEE), and your brain will thank you. I promise.

-Coffee’s the nectar of the gods, but DRINK WATER too. Hydration doesn’t just make you feel better – your brain truly needs it. It’s science.

-Have something happy at your desk/writing space. I drink coffee from my favorite thermal mug because paisley perks me up.

Ignore the creeptastic thumb.

Ignore the creeptastic thumb.

I also turn on my writing playlist because music is one of the greatest things ever. A fun spot makes “work” more enjoyable.

Those are just a few things that work for me. Now go write ALL the words!

 

So. About That Book I Wrote.

In May of last year, I was hit by a plot that refused to leave me alone. The main character latched on to me for dear life, begging me to write her story. I loved the premise of her story. I loved her. But I almost didn’t even write the idea down. Why?

I was terrified.

Up until that point, all I’d ever written were contemporary YA and NA stories. Never did I imagine I could write an apocalyptic book, much less one I’d truly be proud of. The world-building! The supernatural! The plot twists! Oh my! But I did write it. And here I sit with a book that I’m ready to share with the world.

When I started writing a few years ago, I was positive I would only settle for the traditional route. I mean, that’s how books worked, right? You write, revise, get an agent, land a book deal, and you’re golden!

No (2)

Yeah, not so much. At least, not in this case. And I’m okay with that.

While I queried my tush off for a few months, I think a part of me has known from the beginning that KINGDOM COME would be a self-published endeavor. That’s why I’m THRILLED to announce it has a tentative release date of May 22, 2013 – exactly one year after I started plotting this crazy thing. I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted as things progress. For now, I’m just excited to finally let the cat out of the bag.

SunIsShining

Without further ado, here’s the official blurb for KINGDOM COME:

Centuries ago, scrolls calling forth the four horsemen of the apocalypse were discovered, sealed until their rightful heirs were born. Now, those scrolls are being opened.

When her small town crumbles during her stay in an institution for troubled teens, eighteen-year-old Kerrigan Monroe is one of the few survivors. She, along with a handful of other patients and their therapist, take cover as everything they’ve ever known is reduced to rubble. When the smooth voice behind a cryptic radio broadcast beckons her to a safe house, she and the others abandon their temporary haven and embark on a cross-country journey toward refuge.

Upon discovering the identity of the man behind the voice, Kerrigan’s smacked with the revelation that he’s not the only heir to these scrolls. Now, she must make a choice: join this dark stranger and lead the New World by his side, or fight for what’s left of humanity.

Either decision will bring power. Either decision will bring death.

The Next Big Thing

I’m doing it because Bella Leone told me to. But also because I love any opportunity to talk about my most recent MS, KINGDOM COME.

What is the working title of your next book?
Seeing as to how my next book is still in the plotting stages, I’ll be talking about KINGDOM COME, which is a YA Apocalyptic.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
A combination of things, really. I’d recently read a string of dystopian novels, and I adored them. However, I couldn’t help but wonder HOW these dystopian societies came to be in the first place. I mean, something had to have happened.

Then, one day, my son and I were playing outside. I looked to the sky and saw storm clouds rolling in, and said, “There’s a storm comin’. We need to go.” And that’s when it hit me. My brain went into overdrive, and that very night, my plot was born.

storm

I took this picture before we ran inside to keep around for inspiration. Just look at those clouds. *shudder*

What genre does your book fall under?

YA Apocalyptic with supernatural elements

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Kerrigan was a tricky one, but I finally decided on a younger version of Olivia Wilde. Dark hair and gorgeous, piercing eyes were the main defining factors. Ethan was easy – Tyler Hoechlin, all the way. And my villain, Bennett, was easy, as well – Scott Disick. It’s exactly how I pictured him.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The four horsemen of the apocalypse are being unleashed one-by-one by power-hungry Bennett, and as the world crumbles around her, Kerrigan is presented with the opportunity to bring it all to an end – sacrificing herself for the greater good.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m currently querying agents and small publishers.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first draft took approximately 5ish months. Revisions went fairly quickly because I tend to edit as I go (I know, I know), and I have amazing CPs who gave me critique as I completed each chapter.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are some similarities to Shatter Me, but I’ve yet to find one truly comparable. If you know of one, let me know!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I answered that above. 🙂

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
KINGDOM COME is a story of, above all else, hope. It’s believing that despite evil present in the world, humanity is inherently good and worthy of saving.

Thanksgiving Blog Hop – Day 3

Today, I’m thankful for Twilight.

Yes. Twilight.

During my college years, my interest in reading dropped to a non-existent level. I was just inundated with coursework, as well as job responsibilities. What did it take to rekindle that love for books? Well, first of all, it began with a little newborn who kept me up at all hours of the night. Next, it was a movie that played on Showtime in the wee hours of the morning.

Now, I’d heard about these “sparkly vamp” books, but did I take them seriously? Pfft. Yeah right. But when I saw the movie, all cheese aside, I was drawn into the crazy world of Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. So, I bought the books.

And I devoured them.

Ultimately, the Twilight series is what got me back into reading. And thanks to that, my passion for writing was soon discovered, and I haven’t turned back since. So yes, I owe a heck of a lot to Stephenie Meyer and her sparkly vamps and shirtless wolfpack.

Crazy? Maybe. Do I care?

Thanksgiving Blog Hop – Day 2

With today being Veterans Day here in the States, and a few days post-election, I’m so very thankful for our freedom. Even with its downfalls, I’m proud to live in a country in which our voices are heard. And to those who fight for that freedom, there are no words to describe my appreciation for all that you do.

Thank you.