Thursday, February 22, 2018

Go to the Well

One of my favorite takeaways from Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist is the idea of keeping active hobbies while we’re pursuing our creative endeavors.

“A hobby,” he says, “is something creative that’s just for you. You don’t try to make money or get famous off it—you just do it because it makes you happy.”

For many people, writing is a hobby. They sit down and write to decompress. For me (and many of you), writing is a way of life—not a “job,” necessarily, but definitely something we take seriously.

I don’t write to decompress. I write to create.

So I use hobbies to decompress. For me, that usually means grabbing a paintbrush or sketchbook or even a coloring book. When I need a break from writing, I turn to art. I still sit down at the piano almost every night and play for 15 to 20 minutes. I write songs, sometimes. These things—art and music—are mine. I do them because I enjoy them. They help keep me balanced.

You might knit, crochet, act, paint, garden, fish, exercise, sew, golf, cycle, hike, cook, swim, dance, play a sport, or volunteer.

Whatever your hobby, keep doing it.

If you’re not doing it as much as you’d like, change that.

I’m not going to go into the science (nerd alert!) of how our brains are subconsciously working through the creative tangles we’re facing when we’re not actively thinking about them. But remember when you solved that plot hole or character issue when you were washing your hair in the shower?


Hobbies are crucial to the creative process. In Kleon’s words: they “give” but they “don’t take.” To be most effective, we need to have a safe place to go when it’s time to step away from the work—something that’s just for us. No expectations. No pressure.

Because when we give our brains a rest, we’re better prepared to handle the blocks and stresses that come with the creative life.  

Our art and our hobbies inform one another. I need music as much as I need to write, but for very different reasons.

So . . . when things get tough, go to the well. Fill up.

And if you don’t have a hobby?

Be Brilliant!


Friday, February 16, 2018


After I posted this tweet on Wednesday:

. . . several people asked if I would share those playlists, so here goes!

Happy Friday!


(songs are in no particular order)

Cross my Heart  

"Fix You" (Coldplay)
"Never Say Never" (The Fray)
"Possibility" (Lykke Li)
"Half-Life" (Duncan Shiek)
"Sideways" (Citizen Cope)
"Long Time Coming" (Oliver James)
"Secrets" (One Republic)
"Mystified" (Rocco Deluca and The Burden)
"Untitled" (Simple Plan)
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (George Michael feat. Elton John)
"They'll Never Know" (Ross Copperman)
"Almost Lover" (A Fine Frenzy)
"Gone Away" (Lucy Schwartz)
"Slow Motion" (David Gray)
"Fly Away" (Ross Copperman)
"All We Are" (One Republic)
"Someone to Save You" (One Republic)
"Bed of Roses" (Bon Jovi)
"Make You Feel My Love" (Adele)
"This Year's Love" (David Gray)

*Some songs overlap from Cross My Heart since the same story was being told.

Collateral Damage

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (George Michael feat. Elton John)
"Fix You" (Coldplay)
"Bed of Roses" (Bon Jovi)
"I Can't Make You Love Me" (Bon Iver)
"A Thousand Years" (Christina Perri)
"Won't Go Home Without You" (Maroon 5)
"Never Let Me Go" (Florence and The Machine)
"One More Night" (Maroon 5)
"Exogenesis-Parts 1-3" (Muse)
"Be Still" (The Fray)
"Goodbye in Her Eyes" (Zac Brown Band)
"All I've Ever Needed" Nikki Reed and Paul McDonald

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Few Romantic Lines for your Valentine's Day. . . .

In honor of Valentine's Day, I handpicked some of my favorite romantic lines from the stories I've written over the years. It was kind of wild and crazy and surreal revisiting these old friends, but ALL of the same feelings were there. 


(and a bit of lust, if we're being totally honest) ;)

"I dream about your smile. About touching you. I dream about being with you. Like this.” 

“Yes. I love you, all right? I shouldn’t, but I do. But you’ve got to believe me when I say this is too dangerous. And maybe I’m being selfish, but I’m doing this because I love you. I can’t lose you. You’re too important to me.”

“This—all of this—it's not something I could ever forget. I never stood a chance against you. And no matter what happens, something inside me will always remember you. It has to."

"I never regretted coming back to you. It was worth it, for the time we spent together. And I'm not sorry for any of it.”

“I might be your best friend, but you're my everything . . ."

“That's not why I accepted your invitation. It's not even why I approached you last evening. The truth is I was desperate for a reason to speak to you."

"I will always find a way back to you. Always."

“Something tells me you're worth saving."

“If I meet you at your third floor window tonight, will you let me in?”

“I’ll tell you what happened. What happened is that I fell in love with you. That whole thing about timing? You were right: there is no such thing as perfect timing. And this is the worst timing ever, actually, because you’re going to go on, you’re going to graduate and leave. And that’s fine, but I’m telling you, right now, at this moment, I think . . . I think I love you. . . . I love you more than I’ve ever loved anything. And you have been on my mind for weeks. And being late that day—you being my partner—is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“You have no idea what you’ve done to me. You just, barged in and flipped my entire world upside down. I didn’t know what to do!”

“When you love someone you love them. And every day you sit back pretending that you don’t is one less day you have with him.”

“I’m selfish. Selfish enough to want it all. And I know if I don’t have you . . . I don’t have anything.” 

I'm not like that, I want to tell her. I am nothing like you think I am.

“I want to kiss her. I can't stop thinking about her. I keep making excuses, trying to find ways to be with her."

And staring at her, standing on this cobblestone pathway, miles away from our real lives and our real problems, everything is clear. I'd do anything for this girl.

I want to tell her everything. I want to tell her who I am and what I've done. I want to tell her what I'm feeling at this very moment—that she has jarred my world sideways. That I'd rather have my heart ripped out of my body than to ever see her cry. I want to tell her that I fell for her the day she cornered me in the guy's bathroom, with its graffitied doors and broken soap dispenser, and that I've fallen for her every day since. I want to tell her that, if she'll give me a chance, I'll do everything I can to keep her smiling—to keep her happy. I'll be whatever she needs me to be. Whatever she wants. I want to tell her that it was unplanned, that it was unexpected, but that I love her. I love her more than I've loved anything ever before.

“I’m beginning to think I’ve underestimated you.”

“They just can’t believe a guy like me could land someone as beautiful as you.”

“You are strong. You’re stronger than anyone I’ve ever known, and I won’t ever let you think that you’re not.”

“I will risk whatever life throws our way for a hundred Christmas Eves with you. Because I have a feeling you’re worth it. You might not believe in perfect, but I do. Because I believe in you.”

Friday, February 9, 2018

No Need to Rush

In my last post I mentioned that Freedom has always been (and continues to be) a huge motivator in the battle between Indie vs. TradPub. When it comes to having absolute control over both your writing and the final product (design, marketing, release, etc.), the Indie Path wins. Hands down. Every time.

But there’s a caveat.

Just because we CAN publish everything we write doesn’t mean we SHOULD. Yes. That backlist is important. The more titles our readers can choose from, the greater the potential profit. At the same time, not every book we write will resonate. Not every book is immediately ready for public consumption.

So much about having Freedom as an Indie Author has been about rushing to get the next book out. Rushing the process. Rushing the product. But I’ve seen A LOT of writer burnout in the Indie community lately. More authors seem to be admitting to taking a step back (from social media, publishing, and the world in general). Many have outright stated that they just “need a break.”

What we learned after the Indie Gold Rush, I think, and what we’ve learned in trying to keep pace with those sales years since then (which, let’s be honest, were pretty great) is the importance of slowing down. Despite all outward appearances, there was never any “race” and “first one out” didn’t necessarily win.

This still applies. (Marathon, not a sprint.)

So take your time. Write for writing’s sake, not to make a quick dollar. Make sure your story is ready before hitting publish.

Remember why you write.

Because when it comes down to it, the words should be enough. They have to be. There are no other guarantees. 

Be Brilliant!


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

On Freedom

Remember the “Gold Rush” of 2011-2012, when no-name Indie writers were selling hundreds of ebooks a day?


Those were some really great years, weren’t they? Like all good things, though, this eventually came to an end. Once Amazon tweaked its algorithms it was less “fizzle out” and more like “crash and burn.”

The secret was out by then, of course. The market became saturated. “Authors” were gaming the system. Pricing became a race to the bottom. Kindle Unlimited happened.  It became harder to reach fans and potential readers on social media. What worked in marketing one day wouldn’t necessarily work the next, and there was always the “next big thing” on the horizon (a symphony of fizzles AND crash-n-burns). . . .

But even after all of this, and even though many of us have decided to straddle the line between self- and traditional publishing (acting more as hybrid authors), I do think there’s still a place in the market for the Indie writer, and one of the biggest reasons to choose this path continues to be FREEDOM.

This means the freedom to write the story we want to write, when we want to write it. Telling stories the best way we know how. Taking risks and stretching our creative wings. No limits. No boundaries. No constraints.

It means we don’t have to rewrite a book every time a new agent rejection comes in, or change the ending (again) because it doesn’t speak to this editor or that editor. It means we don’t have to bury our sorrows in a pint of ice cream because a “board” couldn’t determine the best way to market our story or where it would fit into their lineup. 

We will never (ever, ever) be able to please everybody, so it’s important that we’re happy with our work first and foremost, and sometimes that means retaining control of it. 

Freedom can mean failure, too, though, so don’t forget the freedom in getting up and trying again. :D

Indie = Freedom


Freedom = Power

After all of these years--and despite the ups and downs--it’s still nice to have options.

Be Brilliant!


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Last Call!

I know! I know! I just posted about the newsletter. But there's a last-minute addition that you *might* appreciate.

This will (hopefully, barring technical issues) go out to subscribers late Tuesday. If you haven't signed up, now's the time!

(link in the sidebar)