WHY YOU HAVE TO WRITE THE HARD STUFF

I wrote this post a while back as a guest spot on the Antithesis blog tour. Now, more than ever, I think it’s important to remind myself why I write. Plus, it’s a good post. It’s over a year later and it’s still relevant. I spent the afternoon Googling myself, and this is what I came up with. Won’t go into detail, the post speaks for itself. Enjoy!

WHY DO YOU HAVE TO WRITE THE HARD STUFF?

Originally appeared at: YA Midnight Reads

It’s an ongoing fear of mine. I’m standing in front of a crowd holding a novel—I’ve just done a reading and now hands shoot into the air. They have questions—questions about my story that I don’t want to answer.

They want to know which character I am.

They want to know which horrible thing happened to me.

I want you to close your eyes and think back on your favorite books. I can list mine off the top of my head. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The list goes on and on—now you’re trying to figure out what these books have in common. All of them deal with hard issues—and the best fiction does.

When I finished The Fault in our Stars, I thought I’d never be the same. My heart was torn out and stomped into nothing. It made me think. It made me appreciate. I cried for days. There were moments of sheer brilliance in that book, some of them quiet and beautiful, others loud and energetic. All of them heartbreaking. All of them.

Clockwork Princess. You’re wondering why this is on my list. Didn’t it have a happy ending? Yes. It had a very happy ending, but it explored things that are so important to me. Cassie has a way of portraying friendships between males that you don’t see in fiction. Beautiful love for one another that would be scorned in the real world. It makes me hopeful. It makes me cry. It makes me want to be a better writer.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Where to begin with how epic this novel is? It explores drugs. Suicide. Self-harm. Homophobia. Discrimination. Molestation. Sex. First love. The bittersweet taste of hope and second chances.

Writing is not a dissociative process. I find myself steeped in my stories. I cry when I write. I laugh. I let go. (And sometimes I just write for fun—I mean, we can’t be angst filled all the time.)

So often authors are afraid to step outside their comfort zone. There’s a scene coming up in my current work in progress where a girl finds her father after he’s killed himself. I initially wrote this story a long time ago—back before life turned me upside down. To tell you the truth, I’ve delayed rewriting this story because of that one scene. I picture it in my head and I’m terrified. I know exactly how it looks—how it smells. I know the sound her hands make in the blood. I know that she will never be the same. I know that she will always ask what if?

And then I cry.

For so long I told myself that I couldn’t do it. I had to let the story go because I couldn’t bring myself to write this scene that had become so close to me.

Now I’m looking forward to it. That sounds macabre, I know, but it’s not for the reason you think. The suicide, the horror, it’s something that I need to let go of, and when I put it on paper, I’m releasing it into the world. And if I share it with thousands of people, maybe each of them will take a tiny piece of the burden.

I know I have to write it—and I know it will hurt.

There are authors who refuse to write about rape or drugs or teenage sex or death. They skirt reality as if it doesn’t exist. But if we lie in our writing—if we pretend that real issues aren’t there—what are we really accomplishing? Lying in writing is lying to yourself. If you aren’t emotionally involved, you’re doing it wrong.

Sometimes writing a scene is so hard that I have to walk away.

You have to write the hard stuff. You have to face the fear of the unknown—that’s where the good is, that’s where the things you say will affect people. If your writing starts to scare you—if you find yourself questioning your sanity and wondering how you found these awful things inside of you—you’ve found where you need to be. Write. Let it out. Feel lucky that you have an outlet.

My words are like scars. I see them and I remember. Sometimes they still hurt. Sometimes I see them and I smile, because at least I had the courage to show them to you.

POISON TREE BLURB

For those of you following along, here is the blurb for Poison Tree, the sequel to Reflection Pond. Expected publication is December 2, 2014!! Add it on Goodreads.

The road to the City of War is dangerous.

With their home in ruins, Callie and Rowan are Eirensae’s last hope of stealing the cauldron back from Fraeburdh. They must travel into the human world where the Fallen hide. The banished fae wait for Callie, desperate to sacrifice her before she comes of age.

If Callie and Rowan survive the journey, something worse looms in Fraeburdh. Rowan is destined for a dark family legacy too horrifying to accept, and his father is anxious to welcome him home. Once the truth is revealed, will Callie ever look at Rowan the same way?

Trapped between feuding cities lost in a centuries’ old war, Callie and Rowan will face their biggest rivals yet, and neither of them will make it out unscathed.

BOOK TRAILER REVEAL: WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU BY JULIE CROSS

Everybody knows how much I love Julie Cross (and if you don’t…where the heck have you been??). Julie’s latest release sounds delicious and I can’t wait for October 7th!!

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas is too young to remember her dad’s glory days as a pitcher for the Yankees. So when her father is offered a coaching position with the Kansas City Royals, Annie is intrigued to see the baseball side of her dad. Of course, knowing he’ll be a mentor to hot young rookie pitcher, Jason Brody, certainly makes it more enticing.

After an awkward first meeting with “Brody” involving very little clothing and a much-too-personal locker room interview, Annie’s convinced she knows Brody’s type: arrogant, self-involved, bossy. As her dad grows closer to the pitching phenom, the friction between Brody and Annie increases. But when opening day arrives and it looks like both her dad and Brody may lose their dream jobs, Annie steps up and offers support. She and Brody call a truce that grows into friendship—and beyond. Falling for a rising star who’s quickly reaching a level that involves rabid female fans is not what Annie would call smart, except suddenly she’s getting hints that maybe this crush isn’t one-sided after all. Could someone like Brody actually fall for a girl like her?

Buy Links:

Amazon ** Amazon UK ** Barnes & Noble ** iBooks ** Powell’s Books

About the Author:

Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.

Links:

Blog http://www.juliecrossbooks.com/p/home-page.html

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FansOfJulieCross

Twitter  https://twitter.com/Juliecross1980

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3429117.Julie_Cross

WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20757528-whatever-life-throws-at-you

YES, YOU CAN

Let’s be honest. It’s a rarity to find someone who LOVES work. It sucks. It’s hard. We’d rather be watching reruns of Vampire Diaries and eating ice cream than working. Lately I’ve been struck by how much people expect when they’re willing to give SO LITTLE, be it time, effort, money, thought.

Say it with me: Life does not owe me a hand out simply because I’m alive.

Welcome to my pep talk. It’s as much for you as it is for me, and it’s not going to be pretty.

I hate work as much as the next person. I hate the overwhelming dread that accompanies a big project. I hate setbacks and missed deadlines and that horrible feeling in your gut that you’ll never be DONE. We’ve all been there. We all want something, be it to write a novel, lose weight, save enough money to buy a house, etc. The premise is the same. The wanting, the need for dedication, the inability to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it’s so hard to take the first step that we don’t even TRY.

It’s scary. Trust me, I know. You’re going to venture into unknown territory. You might not have a hand to hold or a rope to pull you back. What if you screw it up? OH GOD. What if you FAIL???

Let me be the first to tell you: Sitting on your butt doing NOTHING will accomplish exactly that. You’ll continue to be miserable. You’ll continue to be worthless, not only to yourself, but to those around you. I’m surrounded by people who like to complain about how little they have and then REFUSE to do anything about it. They don’t understand why others won’t just give them things. Why money and cars and opportunities won’t fall into their lap. They CRY because their lives are so hard, yet they’re the ones who have made the mistakes that led them to this point.

You have choices, people. You can choose to do nothing, or you can get up, walk out the door, and MAKE SOMETHING for YOURSELF. If there’s no door available, crawl through the window, or better yet, learn how to build a door. You are capable. You don’t need someone else to make it happen for you.

Life does not owe you a hand out simply because you’re alive.

This applies to everything. That novel isn’t going to write itself. You certainly aren’t going to improve as a writer if you don’t practice. Those words aren’t going to start out as genius. It’s hard. It takes work. Sweat. Tears. Maybe even blood. Roll up your sleeves. You are capable.

Newsflash: Unless you are exceptionally lucky or come from a wealthy family, money will not fall into your lap. It requires work. It requires TIME. EFFORT. Stop waiting for someone to give you a hand out. You are capable of doing it yourself.

Lastly, and I mean this with all respect to what you’ve been through—believe me, everyone struggles—your problems are not exceptional. Everyone you know, everyone you see on the street, in the store, at the office, is going through something you know nothing about. This journey is not meant to be easy. Life is HARD. But expecting everyone else to be miserable right alongside you is senseless.

Stop making excuses, start making change.

You are capable.

You can do it.

Yes, you can.

Roll up your sleeves, we have work to do.

POISON TREE: AN EXCERPT

As promised, here is an excerpt from Poison Tree, the sequel to Reflection Pond.

I hope you enjoy this sneak peek into the next chapter of Callie and Rowan’s lives.

She couldn’t cry.

Instead, she pulled the comforter tighter and climbed from the bed, bones and muscles protesting. It felt as though she’d fallen off a cliff. Every movement was punctuated with pain. It shot up from her feet into her knees, her spine to her head, fingertips to shoulders. Callie gritted her teeth and stepped into the bathroom, closing the creaking door behind her. She didn’t turn on the lights. She did punch the lock.

A tiny slice of sunlight seeped through the crack at the bottom of the door. Callie tugged the blanket from her body and used it to extinguish the light. When the bathroom was pitched in darkness, she let herself breathe.

Her clothes stank of blood. With shaking fingers, she pulled the stiff, ruined material over her head, letting it drop to the floor. Moving slowly, she followed the wall with her fingers, sliding over tile until she found the knobs for the shower. It took three tries for her to turn the water on. She would’ve sat on the edge of the tub to calm her nerves, but the thought of cold ceramic against her legs was worse than the thought of passing out.

Callie stood with her face turned into the scalding spray. She imagined the water erasing the past, removing the scars. How much more could she take before there were more scars than normal skin?

Sure, she was safe here, but for how long? They’d regain their strength and they’d move on to Fraeburdh.

And she was so tired.

When her legs grew too weak to support her, Callie sat shivering in the tub with her knees pulled to her chest, freezing water pounding her shoulders and back. It wasn’t abrasive enough to scrape away what happened. She imagined the droplets as sandpaper, scouring away the memories, giving her a fresh start. But it was only wishful thinking.

 

I’VE RETURNED

Two months (almost to the day!) have passed since the last time I blogged. I’d like to tell you that I’ve enjoyed this unplanned blog staycation by eating bons bons and purchasing stock in beachside hammocks, but the truth is, this girl has been BUSY. You can ask any of my friends, I’ve gone into temporary internet hiding, it’s true! An entire week passed where I didn’t have internet. That’s basically unheard of. So what has me all spastic?

I MOVED!

That’s right. After 5 years of commuting 3 hours to work every day, Hubby and I made the decision to move closer to my job while he transferred offices. The difference is amazing. Instead of an hour and half, I’m now looking at a cool 20 minute drive and LOTS more time with my family.

AND more time to write.

Some news has piled up during my blog staycation. I’ve had work accepted at Spark AND Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. They accepted my short piece, Distraction, which was inspired by a Taylor Swift song. I’m going to keep the details vague so I can have a longer, more detailed post at a later date. Look for a short version of Distraction in Spark Vol 7 and the extended version in the inaugural issue of Ember. (Yay!)

I’ve been hard at work with my fellow editor on Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland. We’ve closed submissions after yet another open period and we’ve finally rounded out our anthology. For the next few months I’ll be elbows deep in editing and rewrites and getting these stories ready for publication. The cover is in the works by my good friend over at Bioblossom Creative and I can’t wait to share it with you!

I’ve sent Poison Tree out to beta readers and gotten feedback from everyone. The story has been simmering while I work on other things. I hate to say it, but I might have to push back my December 2nd publication date. I don’t want to, trust me, but when you’re a writer I think the most important thing is making sure you put out the best version of your work, and that, above all else, requires TIME. I did promise an excerpt, which I will post TOMORROW. Promise. I’ll have more information regarding publication when I know. Be patient, friends, be patient.

While Poison Tree was with my betas, I was hard at work on Stepping Stones, the first novel in a series. I’m excited to share an excerpt of this, as well, which will appear on Thursday. Now that we’ve moved and things are starting to settle down (not really, I’m just saying that to make myself feel better), I’ll have more time to focus on what I really love.

I want to say thanks to everyone who has been supportive—my friends, the bloggers, my readers. Your continued contact and words of encouragement keeps me going.

All the best,
Kacey

CELEBRATE THE 4TH WITH A SALE!

It’s time to celebrate Independence Day, and what better way than to get a cheap ebook?!

In honor of the holiday, I’ve reduced the price of the Reflection Pond ebook from $2.99 to 99cents. You’ll have to move fast because this price will only last from Thursday, July 3 until Sunday, July 6th!!

While I want  you to buy my book (of course I do! Go! Buy!) I’m also looking for reviews. I’m asking nicely. Please? Please? What if I make this face?

Here’s the links -

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

After you put up your feet this weekend and read a good book, don’t forget to visit Goodreads and tell me what you think.

Reflection Pond Blurb:

Sometimes you find home, sometimes it comes looking for you.

Callie knows a lot more about pain than she does about family. She’s never belonged, at least, not until she falls through a portal into her true home. The beautiful faerie city of Eirensae doesn’t come free. Callie must find her amulet and bind herself to the city, and most importantly, avoid the Fallen fae who seek her life. Seems like a small price to pay for the family she’s always wanted.

Then she meets cynical and gorgeous Rowan, who reads the darkness of her past in her eyes. He becomes Callie’s part-time protector and full-time pain in the ass. He has secrets of his own for Callie to unravel. What they don’t know is that the future of Eirensae lies with them, and the once peaceful city is about to become a battleground for power.