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My Love Letter to Autumn

Yeah, I know... EVERYONE loves fall. At least, it seems that way. When October hits, you can't go on the Internet without someone singing the season's praises. So maybe it's unoriginal that fall is my favorite time of year. But I don't care. It always has been, always will be. Not to sound like a hipster, but I loved fall before it was cool to love fall. Before there was ever such a thing as a pumpkin spice frickin' latte.

It dates back to when I was still in school. My friends and classmates would grumble about the end of summer, and I might join in to fit in (because that's what you do when you're a kid and care so much about things like that), but secretly, I was gleeful. I loved going back to school. I loved the new clothes and school supplies and return to routine (Type-A, anyone?). I loved the break in the heat and humidity and that clean, crisp feeling in the air. I loved the promise, the unrealized potential of a "new" year.

Even in college, when new courses involved the unveiling of a syllabus that always seemed horrifyingly long and impossibly full of assignments, I still liked sitting down in a new professor's class, not knowing for certain just how mind-numbing his or her lectures were going to be. There was always that hope that this teacher would be one of the great ones. And that actually turned out to be true... about 20% of the time. And for the first week or so, I was still blissfully ignorant (and fresh off a summer away from coursework), so my fall high wasn't tainted by the eventual truth.

Nowadays, back-to-school isn't as fun as it was when I was the one actually going back to school. Maybe it would be different if I were a stay-at-home mom, and the return of school signalled the return of peace and quiet in the house. But alas, it just means I get to come home from working all day to help with homework. Or sign papers. Or taxi kids to extracurricular activities. But even though fall means more work for me, I still love it. Why is that?

No, it's not about pumpkin spice lattes. Although I do like them. But I haven't even had my first one yet this year, so it's not like they're everything to me. Pumpkin pie frozen custard, on the other hand... Look out when they roll those bad boys out at the frozen custard stand down the street from my house. But I digress.

Maybe it's that humans are so impressionable from the age of five to twenty-two that the feelings associated with those eighteen autumns became a permanent part of my personality. (If that's the case, I'm glad they were positive experiences.)

But it's more than that. Because loving fall as an adult is no longer connected to the back-to-school process. Now, mixed in with that hopeful feeling is excitement for NFL football (everyone has the same record on the first game of the season, baby!), for hunkering down in hoodies and scarves, for chili simmering on the stove, for the beauty of the changing leaves glowing in the sunlight, for the tapping of rain on the already-fallen folliage, for giving thanks for all of our blessings, and yes... a little bit for pumpkin spice lattes.

I like them, okay? I wish that hadn't been turned into such a capital offense by the "Cool Police." Ahem. Anyway.

Or maybe my love for autumn is related to my November birthdate. It's probably somewhat natural to enjoy the season in which your birthday lands. If you enjoy birthdays, that is. I do. Growing older beats the alternative. Most days.

So tell me. What is YOUR favorite season, and why?



Eating My Own Words


People say I’m a good listener. People say I give good advice (even when they choose not to follow it). I’ve had more than one person remark that I seem wise beyond my years, that I’m an old soul. That’s what happens when you have to grow up too soon, so it’s not like I can take any credit for it. Well, I guess I can take credit for those really stupid decisions I made when I was young…er that had life-long consequences, but still. You know what I mean. You either wise up and make the best of those decisions or you continue to make bad choices and suffer through a frustrating life. But anyway. That’s another post, I guess.

What I wanted to talk about today, what I want to confess, is that I don’t practice what I preach. I mean, I try to. And it’s not like I’m dispensing advice left and right, expecting reality to be one way for everyone else and something completely different for myself. For the most part, when I say something, it’s because I truly believe it to be right. At the time. Objectively. And I strive to live those attitudes. But… sometimes in the heat of the moment… striving falls woefully short.

Which leads me to feel like a major fraud, naturally. Because that’s part of who I am, too: a self-perceived imposter.

Courtesy: giphy

But this isn’t about how I’m often a hypocrite, in general. This is about something specific. Something I wrote fairly recently and received a lot of praise—and some flak—for writing. Something I wrote and truly believed recently enough that when I recently found myself having some pretty negative thoughts, I immediately knew I was being the proverbial pot pointing and laughing at the color of the kettle. That doesn’t mean I had any control over how I was feeling, though. It just meant that I had the added shame of knowing what a spoiled brat I was being heaped on top of the emotion causing me to think like that spoiled brat.

Remember what I said to newly published authors? No? Well, here's a tiny, relevant snippet from that post:

Nobody owes you anything. Not your family, not your friends, not your pastor, not your co-workers, not your dog.

Yeah, I had to tell it to myself pretty hard the other day. And I wanted to punch the wiser half of myself in the ovaries for being right. I won’t go further into the details (I have some pride and plenty of shame regarding this), but I will say that I realized how amazingly entitled I sounded when I vented my complaint to a fellow writer friend. And I wanted to take back all the words. And I wanted to hide.

Courtesy: giphy

And for what? For being human? For expressing what so many people have expressed to me in the past, in similar situations? Yep. For that. And also for thinking I was beyond that, perhaps even above it. And mostly for judging other people when I’ve seen them struggling with the “Oh, poor me”s, something I have so little patience for.

Why am I telling you this? Well… Because… it seems only fair. It’s not right, somehow, to act like I have it all figured out. I don’t necessarily think I’m claiming I do when I share insight on here, but I guess it could be implied, so I want to provide this proof right now that I don’t feel that way. I have nothing figured out for me. I may have slightly more figured out for you. Har har.

I also wanted to let you know that I reread my post to newly published writers, and I still stand by everything I said in that post, even when—especially when—applying it to myself. Only I have a fresher appreciation for how hard it is to keep those things in mind while feeling a bit miffed or wronged or frustrated, or whatever one happens to feel when one pours that pint of water into the lake, and it barely causes a ripple, even in the waters closest to us.


I had some newer, harsher advice for myself recently: grow up and buck up… and speak up, if it’s really that important to you. If it’s not worth saying something, then it’s not worth sulking about. Because really…? Honestly…? Nobody has time to even notice that you’re sulking about anything. And it’s not affecting their lives a single bit. It’s just turning you into a sour, resentful poo-face that nobody wants to be around. And if they’re not around, they can’t tell you’re upset about something. And if they are around, do you want to waste time whining or arguing or dwelling on unpleasantness? Not really.

So again…

Grow up. Buck up. Lighten up.

I’m sure I’ll be rereading this post to myself sometime in the future, too. Growing up is a never-ending process, apparently, that requires many reminders.


What Am I Forgetting?

What the heck am I forgetting? Because I know there's something. My tenth book releases on Saturday, and I submitted the final file to Amazon a while back. Okay, it's only been a week and a half, but it feels like forever ago. That's a lot of lead time for me. I'm usually one of those instant-gratification writers who formats the books, uploads it to Amazon, and hits "publish" right away, then sits there tappping my toe until Amazon tells me it's live and ready for purchase. It's totally pathetic and amateurish. I wish I were a cooler person than that. But I'm not. And I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that I'm never going to be a cool person. I'm more like this person:

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm not that cool.

This time, though, I went with the new-to-me option of having my book available for pre-order. It's been a great experience, and I'd recommend it to anyone releasing a book. It's been a completely different experience, though. This is my tenth time publishing, so I was really used to the old (not-so-cool and not-so-effective) way of releasing a book. But this time, there's been a lot longer lead-up to launch day. For one thing, it took me FOREVER to write this book. (Readers of the Secret Keeper series are saying, "I know, right??")  It's the sixth and final book in the series, so it was a challenge. Emotionally and practically. It was just... hard. But I did it, with a lot of encouragement. And when I was truly finished with the final edit and the formatting, I wanted so badly to hit "publish" right then and share it with the world, like I always do. But no. I was strong. I told everyone the publication date was September 27, and I'm sticking to it. People are pre-ordering at a steady rate, and I'm determined to see this through like a professional.

Therefore, this is how I look and feel every time I think about my approaching Launch Day:

Don't you feel bad for me? Because the whole process is done, in my mind. I hit "submit," and that usually means, "The End." On to the next thing. But that's not the case this time. So I keep remembering that launch day is still ahead of me, and it brings on the heave-y jeevies. (Yes, I just made that up. Aren't I clever? No?)

Anyway, when I regain my breath, I go through this whole crazy stream-of-consciousness internal rant, like, "Oh, my gosh. Did I forget the day? Has it been and gone without my saying anything to anyone about it? I need to see a calendar. Oh. Okay. We still have a couple of days. My gosh! It's taking forever to get here! But wait a second. What am I forgetting to do? What if I only think I have a lot of time, but really... there are a bunch of things I don't even know I need to be doing that will take time to do them, and when I finally do remember them, I'll realize that I don't have enough time to do them before Saturday? OH MY GOSH!!! Where are my checklists???"

Alrighty then. He's right, though. I need to chill. And pretend like I've been here before. Like I know what I'm doing. And keep things in perspective. Because really... this ain't earth-shattering stuff. This isn't international diplomacy. I don't have my finger on the big red button in the Pentagon (or wherever that big red button is). I'm not carrying around the nuclear warhead launch codes. (Are those a thing?) I'm just publishing a book.

And what if it's not perfect? So what?


I mean, it'll really be okay. And then I'll feel like this:

Which reminds me... Hey, Oprah... I wrote some books. Call me. *kiss, kiss*


In case you missed it above, my latest book, The Secret Keeper Fulfilled, releases on September 27. You can find links to all of my books on my website. Also, this post is part of Julie Valerie's Hump Day Blog Hop, which is super-duper fun and entertaining. Go here to see all of the other amazing posts from bloggers much more dedicated to the art than I am.


The Secret Keeper Fulfilled, Chapter One (sneak peek)

I've just delivered the full manuscript of The Secret Keeper Fulfilled to beta readers, so it's only fair all readers of the series get a taste of what's to come in the sixth and final book in the series. Enjoy! And tell me what you think!



A granola cluster sails past my head. My arms full of baby, I can do nothing more than shoot an evil look over my shoulder toward the kitchen table and growl, “Cut it out, you guys.”

Four-year-old Max informs me at high volume and maximum whine that his nearly-three-year-old brother, Harris, is eating his cereal with his hands. In his righteous indignation, Max dips his elbow in his own cereal bowl, sending milk and granola bits flying. Aidan, almost two, giggles at the sight of more airborne food. Harris’s twin, Brooks, looks on disdainfully, like he can’t believe he’s a member of this herd.

It’s a typical Monday morning in the Northam house. Five kids under the age of five. You do the math. I’m living it. It’s messy. And loud.

Holding a hungry, increasingly-impatient eight-week-old Addison in one arm, I give the anti-Norman-Rockwell tableau barely more than a glance as I retrieve a pre-made baby bottle from the fridge.

Brice steps over the puddle of milk on his way into the kitchen and says dully, “Good morning. I’ll get that.” He plucks the roll of paper toweling from its holder and steps into the fray.

“Much obliged,” I drawl, then firmly instruct Max to put his behind in his booster seat and be quiet while his father deals with the mess.

Max complies with the first request but wails about being “wet and sticky,” before screeching at Aidan, “It’s not funny!”

“Lord, deliver me,” Brice mutters (and I’m pretty sure it’s not just a figure of speech for him), peeling Max’s milk-soaked pajamas away from the boy’s body.

“He will,” I point out to my husband. “In about fifteen minutes, when you get to leave for work.”

Crouching to mop the floor with Max’s castoff pajama bottoms, Brice grins up at me. “Lucky me. I’ll be taking the mouthiest one with me, though, so… lucky you. How thankful are you for Monday morning preschool?”

“Very.” I pour his coffee and set it on the narrow slab of counter next to the stove, out of reach of any spill-prone hands, then return to warming Addi’s bottle in a glass of warm water.

Before the formula’s even warm, Brice returns to the kitchen, having made short work of de-stickifying and dressing our oldest child. He snags the mug of coffee, draining half of it in three swallows. Reaching over me to pull down a box of cereal from the cabinet next to my head, he lightly kisses the back of my neck.

Testing the temperature of the baby formula against my wrist, I smile quietly and finally return his earlier “Good morning.” I turn to face him as I begin feeding the baby her long-awaited breakfast.

“Something like that,” he replies wryly. His hand rests on Addi’s blonde, fuzzy head. “And good morning to you, Ladybug! Someone could forget about such a well-behaved, quiet baby with these bozos around.” He jabs a thumb in the direction of the squirmy boys at the table.

She blinks up at him around her bottle but continues gulping.

“No, don’t stop on my account,” he insists. “Pretend I’m not even here. I do. Often.”

“It’s not that bad, is it?”

He shakes bran flakes and raisins into a bowl, then reaches into the fridge for the milk. As he’s nudging the appliance closed with his elbow, he answers less-than-convincingly, “I’m only kidding.”

That’s not exactly what I was fishing for. I need him to tell me, like he does most days, that this is temporary, and I need him to give me an encouraging estimate for life returning to some semblance of order, a figure smaller than “eighteen years.” He normally takes everything in stride. I chalk up his uncharacteristic ennui this morning to fatigue. Neither of us has had a full night of sleep in months (unless you count that six-day sleep I took back in June, which wasn’t as restful as it may sound).

Now he levels a scolding look at me. “I do have a bone to pick with you, though…”

I pull my chin back and widen my eyes. “Moi?”

“Yes! Mitzi is so desperate to get in touch with you to set up a play date with Sasha and the boys that she’s resorted to using Jared and me as the go-between. What the higgety-heck is the deal with that?”

“What the hack?” Harris echoes, then tips his bowl toward his face.

“Exactly,” Brice says, pointing to our son with his own spoon, before flattening his flakes farther into his own bowl of milk.

I focus on Addi’s face and answer sulkily, “I don’t know. I just…” Raising my head to meet my husband’s eyes, I whine, “Do I have to?” Immediately, I regret the unfiltered question that provokes his wrinkled forehead.

“Not if you’re too tired, but you should probably answer your friend’s calls and tell her that. Are you feeling okay?”

I sigh. That settles it. I have to go. Otherwise, he’ll think all this is too much for me, and we’ll have to have that conversation again, the one that makes me feel like I’m an eyelash away from being classified as “unstable” and observed for risky postpartum behavior. It doesn’t matter that he’ll couch it in the “Remember, you’re still recovering from a major medical ordeal?” conversation.

As if I would or could forget. People are constantly reminding me of it.

The response to my health crisis and recovery has been nearly as overwhelming and daunting as the recovery itself. Peace held a 24-hour prayer vigil while I was comatose, with people taking shifts to pray for me. Me! When I found that out, I had to go to bed for a couple of hours.

Of course, I’m grateful. That goes without saying. But the mere thought of such an event in my honor, while I slept, oblivious, just a few miles away in a hospital room, threatens to smother me more effectively than a pillow to the face. If I had been aware of it while it was happening, I probably would have been hesitant to ever wake up. Don’t try to make that make any sense to you. It hardly makes sense to me. But it’s true. Even while deeply unconscious, I want nothing to do with that level of attention.

When yet another sigh is the only answer his latest inquiry into my health receives, he suggests, “Why don’t you have Mom come over and sit with Addi and Aidan, so you only have to keep track of the older boys? And go somewhere they can wear themselves out… Like the pool or one of those bounce places. You and Mitzi can watch from the sidelines and catch up with each other; the kids can go nuts without either of you worrying about having a disaster area on your hands when it’s all done.”

I stretch a brave smile across my lips. “Good ideas. I’ll give her a call.”

He grins proudly around a mouthful of cereal, chews, and swallows. “Excellent. I want a full report when you come to pick up Max.” Before I can tell him where he can shove his “full report,” he winces. “Oooh… except I won’t see you today, actually. I’m supposed to call Dr. Glendenning at that time.”

“Who’s this Dr. Glendenning that he takes priority over me?” I pull the bottle from Addi’s mouth and hold it up to check her progress. Then I transfer the baby to my shoulder, not even bothering with a burp rag or towel. These pajamas are headed for the hamper as soon as I get a chance to get dressed (which, admittedly, may not be for several hours), so I’m not concerned about spit-up.

He chases a raisin around the bottom of the bowl with his spoon, finally capturing it and shaking it into the center of the utensil. Holding it to his lips, he answers, “You know, Dr. G. Vince and I talk about him all the time. He was our favorite professor at Sem.”

Although Vince and Brice didn’t attend Concordia Seminary in St. Louis at the same time—Vince was ordained a year before Brice enrolled—many of the same professors were still around by the time Brice came through. Dr. Glendenning was one of those professors. I know that much from the stories he and Vince love to trade late into the night while I doze nearby. But if Brice is going to quiz me about the particulars of those tales, I’m in trouble.

“Oh, yes. Dr. G. I remember now. Yes. And you have to call him precisely at 11:30? Isn’t he retired by now? Doesn’t he have all the time in the world to shoot the shi—breeze with you?”

My near-curse in the presence of the kids fetches a warning look over the rim of the cereal bowl as Brice drinks his milk like an overgrown kid. Finishing, he reaches behind himself and puts his dirty dishes in the sink, earning him an equally severe look from me. Which he ignores, in favor of continuing his explanation.

“He may have all the time in the world, but I don’t. I have a busy day. But he said it was important. He’s been helping me brainstorm for a while via email about how to get Peace behind the idea of hosting a vicar.”

I groan.

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Do you remember Jared’s vicarage? Or have you blocked that out? Because I remember it. I was on vicar duty 24/7.”

“It’s not going to be like that this time, Hon,” Brice promises, digging at his teeth with his tongue.

“And you think that, because…?”

He chases rogue bran flake remnants with the last of his chilly coffee. “Well, I’m not the only pastor this guy would be shadowing, for one thing. Yeah, ultimately, I’ll be the supervisor, but Jared and Wes would probably be better mentors, anyway.”

“I guess…”

Addi burps her opinion on the matter.

He smiles at the baby’s noises and taps his wedding ring against the side of the ceramic mug. “Really. You won’t have to be involved at all this time. I mean, other than making the guy feel welcome. Plus, nobody could be as high-maintenance as Jared was.”

I settle Addi in my arms for the second half of her bottle. “You’re a real glutton for punishment, you know that?”

Before he can respond to the charges, another skirmish breaks out at the table. Sighing, he sets his mug in the sink with the rest of his dishes. “And with that, I’m off. Good luck.” He plants a peck on my lips, then kisses the top of Addi’s head. “Although you don’t need luck with this one, because she’s an angel. Right, Ladybug?”

His daughter’s answer is an uncoordinated punch to his chin.

“Okay! I’ll leave you alone to eat.” He straightens and rubs his face, as if she really hurt him. Crossing to the table, he barks, “Max! Enough of the reign of terror in here. Let’s go to preschool, where you can boss around some people unrelated to you, for a change.” He pulls out Max’s chair and angles it to give his son room to hop down.

“I yanna go to school!” Brooks wails.

Harris blindly follows his twin brother’s lead in the chant.

“You guys get to stay home with Mommy and Aidan and Addi! How fun is that?” their dad gushes, struggling to speak loudly enough to be heard.

Aidan joins the chorus. Much square-mouth crying and gnashing of baby teeth ensues.

With Addi on my shoulder for another round of burping, I approach the table and shoo Brice and Max toward the garage. “Just go. Please. They’ll be fine as soon as you’re gone.”

Not helping matters, Max shoots his left-behind brothers a smug smile while his dad slides the straps of his backpack up his wiry arms. “See ya, suckas!” he tosses gleefully over his shoulder on the way out the door.

I try not to react to the four-year-old’s new favorite saying.

Brice, on the other hand, stands with his back against the open door and watches after his son, then turns his head and says to me, “I really hate that.”

“I know,” I acknowledge, doing a half-assed, one-handed job of cleaning the hands and faces of the sniffling younger boys before releasing them from their respective boosters. “But what’re you gonna do? It’s technically not a bad word, so…”

He snorts and shakes his head. “You and your technicalities. I guess I’ll have a little talk with him about it on our way to the church.”

“Yeah. I’m sure he loves those as much as I do,” I mutter. “Have a nice morning.”

He gives a final, limp wave before descending the stairs into the garage and pulling the door shut behind him.

Almost immediately, the three boys left with me stop their wailing. Brooks and Harris run to the dining room, where they jockey for position at the window, so they can watch Brice back from the driveway and give them his daily wave and short horn-honk (which I’m sure the neighbors love). Aidan follows slightly more uncertainly but eventually gets there, too, just in time to wave his dad and brother off.

I set Addi in her swing and clear the breakfast dishes. And another week commences.


Are You There, Discouraged Newly Published Writers? It's Me, Brea

Dear New Authors,

So you finally hit that publish button! Congratulations! It's a heady feeling, isn't it? And then what? Well, then... nothing. Well, not nothing, but it kind of feels like it, doesn't it? The rest of the world continues doing what it does on any other ordinary day, even though you've just performed one of the most important acts of your life. Meanwhile, you can't sit still. You sweat and fret until you get that message from Amazon or B&N or Smashwords or wherever your book, your precious baby, is live and available for the world to see. After months (or years) of plotting, writing, editing, rewriting, proofreading, more editing, more editing, submitting to critique partners' and beta readers' critical eyes, more rewrites and editing, and yes... more editing, then formatting, re-formatting, re-formatting, re-- oh, you get it. After all that.... You did it. You did it!! Let's just... take a moment to let that sink in.


Now, all that's left to do is wait for readers to discover you and for all the awards and accolades to flood into your inbox. Right? That's how it works, doesn't it?

No? You mean, your book's been live for nearly a month, and you still have a name for every single sale you've made, and those names generally coincide with your last name (or your maiden name)? Or worse, at least 100 people have promised to buy your book, yet the numbers aren't adding up, because you've hardly broken double digits?

Then let me be the first to welcome you to The Disappointed Authors Club. Come in, come in! Have a seat; make yourself comfortable. I'm sure you see some familiar faces here, even some faces you probably didn't expect. I know! They put on such brave fronts for readers and friends and family, don't they? But it hasn't been all roses for them, either. So here. Have a cookie. And let us help you out with a little advice on making it through your first few months, years, and decades as a published writer. Some of these things may apply to you; some may not but will be helpful for others. I'll try not to drone on and on.

Toughest truths first:

  1. Nobody owes you anything. Not your family, not your friends, not your pastor, not your co-workers, not your dog... As a matter of fact, you probably owe them for supporting you while you wrote your book, for listening to you talk about imaginary people like they're real, for using their life experiences as fodder for your character profiles, for putting them on the back burner in favor of spending time with your manuscript... or on Facebook, talking to other writers, who really understand you. So, no hard feelings when your sister's best friend's boyfriend doesn't want to buy your book, because he's not into sci-fi erotica. Well, he probably is, isn't he? Too bad you write new adult romance.

    On a related note, people will say anything to a new author or soon-to-be-published author to avoid or stop the "Buy My Book" conversation. Usually, the fastest, easiest way is to say, "I'll be sure to do that!" Eighty percent of those people have no intention of buying your book. What can I say? People are liars. But you've probably done it a time or two, too, so no judgment.

  2. Manage expectations. Dreams are big; expectations should be a different story. Dreams are designed to be out-of-control, unmanageable. Dream all you want about being on the NYT Bestseller list and owning a house in the mountains and one on the beach and a sweet little maisonette in London, across the street from where they filmed Notting Hill. Expect... well, expect NOTHING. And I'm not saying that in a cynical sense, like, "If you expect nothing, then you can't be disappointed." B.S. I don't know about you, but I have an amazing capacity for disappointment, no matter what I expect... or don't expect. However, there's a fine line between expectation and entitlement. Managing those expectations keeps you from crossing that line. That being said, you're entitled to your dreams. But... that's about it.

  3. Your royalties stink, don't they? Well, well, well... how soon we get greedy. How much money were you making from your writing before you were published? What's that? Zero dollars, euros, pesos, yen, drachmas, pounds, or Simoleons? Wait a minute... be honest. It was less than zero, I'm sure. Did you pay someone to write your blurb? Who designed your cover? Did you purchase a word processing or other program into which you typed your manuscript? 'Fess up. You were making NEGATIVE money before you were published. And I get that you want a return on your investment, but... give it time.

    Think of it this way:

  4. You just released a pint of water into a lake. Does it make a difference? Uh... sure! It increases the volume of the lake by a pint. But 50,000 other gung-ho authors also just poured their pints of water into that same lake. And 50,000 more will do the same tomorrow. And the next day. And on and on and on. That's a lot of water for readers to wade through. And some of that water ain't so clean. "Well, my water is crystal clear and beautiful," you might say. Doesn't matter. It adds to the volume of the lake the same as the mucky stuff the dude behind you threw in. It takes a long time for the sediment to float to the bottom and for the good, clean stuff to rise to the top. If you've done your job well (and I'm sure you have, although I may not have read your book, even though I probably said I would... I'm busy!), your work will speak for itself, and readers will recognize it for the refreshing drink it is. (Or something... Gosh. Metaphors are hard!)

  5. Going back to comparing your book to another author's work, though, let's discuss how unfair it is that someone who publishes a rough draft may see brisker sales or garner more reviews (even if they aren't the best reviews). It happens. All the time. We've all been there. We hear about a book over and over again (usually eight times, statistically) before we finally decide to purchase it for ourselves to see what the hubbub is about. And we get two chapters in and say, "Holy crap! Seriously? My book is so much better than this! Why isn't anyone talking about MY book like this one?" Again, give it time. And someday, if you're lucky, someone will say the same things about your book. Sure, they'll be dogging you to make themselves feel better, but... that's what happens. It's inevitable, no matter how brilliant you are.

    That brings me to my next point:

  6. No offense, but none of us is as brilliant as we think we are. Or as brilliant as our moms say we are. Or our friends. Or our crit partners or beta readers. Or even our esteemed teachers and professors throughout the years. Don't get me wrong: you're awesome! But you're not that awesome. The minute you start thinking you are, you're setting yourself up for some major disappointment. Because people love to knock other people down a few pegs. And the person who thinks they're all that is a major target. Practice some humility. Accept there's always room for improvement. Accept you don't know everything. Take that pressure off yourself. It's actually quite freeing.

    Sure, whether or not you think you're the greatest, you're still going to get one- or two-star stinker reviews (plural) that make sure you KNOW you're not. It'll hurt less if you already accept you're not.

  7. Nobody owes you anything. I feel like I need to repeat this one. Sorry, but I do. Because in addition to your friends and family and kids' teachers not owing you, other authors don't owe you anything, either. Doesn't matter if you've read everything they've ever written (although I'm sure they appreciate the heck out of that). Doesn't matter if you've written reviews for them, hosted them on your blog, chaired their street team, pimped their book links, retweeted their inane tweets about writer's block, or whatever. You do nice things because you're a nice person, not because you're expecting something in return. And if people do reciprocate, that's a lovely bonus, isn't it? Don't remind them about all the great things you've done for them. Don't expect them to repay you in the exact same way you helped them. Give them the opportunity to do an unsolicited favor for you, in whatever way they're comfortable doing it. Then graciously thank them, recognizing they didn't have to do anything.

    And finally...

  8. Keep in mind why you do this. Sure, most of us publish because we want to share our stories with the world (and hopefully get positive feedback on them, both emotionally and monetarily). But we write because... well, that's a statement you have to finish for yourself. I hope that however you finish it, it results in the continued pursuit of your dream to be an author.

So how do you finish that sentence? Please, let me know in the comments!

I write because...


I write because I love living in imaginary people's minds and lives whenever I have the chance. So far, I've been a neurotic admin assistant with a vivid imagination and a tragic past, an elementary school librarian, a plain--yet brilliant--writer (ha!), a secret keeper, and a male nurse posing as a bestselling author. (That last one was tricky.) I publish my works to justify my forays into those imaginary worlds and to--hopefully--bring a little laughter and entertainment to readers' days. Check out my full catalogue of books on the "Books by Brea Brown" tab above. You can also connect with me on Twitter and Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!