Thursday, July 24, 2014

After a Long Hiatus...

I'm officially back to blogging. It's been forever, so I can't say it just "feels" like forever. I've launched my second book and started the final preparations on the third. I'm working on another entire series and getting ready to start a new career. There are a lot of things going on for me right now, but I missed blogging.

I can't say that I'll be posting something new everyday, because I don't know if I'll have the time to do that once my new job begins. But I will do my best to post something every other day or every few days. It's the least I can do for the readers who have stuck with me and who are still coming back after my long break.

At the moment, I've just finished putting up three reviews on Ley's Library, and I'm working on finishing the next book. I'm so behind in all my writing and blogging that it isn't funny. I missed it all, and I'm so glad that I can be back with it.

For the time being, I'm going to focus just on writing and getting things caught up. That's my first priority right now.

And getting ready for everything that I have to do in the next few weeks. It's going to be something that takes a long time, and it's going to be a bumpy ride.

But a fun one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back to Blogging

I know it's been a while since I've blogged here, and it's mostly because of some personal and business issues that I've been dealing with. Of course I launched my second book in July, and I've just accepted a new position. So I'm trying to get things put together so that I can start blogging again.

I'll be picking back up on posting in the next few days and will be adding new content to the website. Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope to see you around!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Short Blogging Hiatus

I'm taking a short hiatus from daily blogging as I get ready for the next blog tour and deal with some personal issues.

I'll be back in a few days.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Things I Wish I'd Known as a Teen

As I get older, I think back on the things that I did as a teen and a young adult and wonder what I was thinking. There are so many things that go on in the life of a young adult now that it's nearly impossible to figure out what's supposed to happen. And people will give opinions about how you're supposed to behave and what you believe, but in the end it's all about you. It's all about what you are and who you are and how you want to live your life.

I've been thinking for the past few days, as I think about my sister graduating from university and the years that have passed since my own graduation, and it's occurred to me that there are a lot of things I wish I could go back and tell the younger me. Things that would have changed the way I lived my life and where I am right now. It sounds cliche and more than a little stupid, but I know that there are choices that I would have made differently if I'd known what I know now.

So here are some of the things that I would tell a younger me:

Follow your instincts. I started out university as an education major, but switched to science because I was talked out of teaching and into a "better paying" job market. But I knew deep inside that I wanted to be a teacher, and now I'm five years out of graduation trying to figure out how to get into the teaching game. I should have followed my first instinct and not let anyone talk me out of what I wanted because of their own bad experience with it.

Learn to take care of yourself. This is something I still have trouble with, but I'm getting better. But as a young adult, it was all about the grades and the community service and the job. I never got a chance to really sit down and take care of myself like I should have. I didn't go through my own emotions and figure out what they were and what they meant to me. And now I'm living with the consequences of keeping everything bottled up for so long.

Make your own conclusions. I think of myself as a smart girl. I think that I have the capability to take on the information that is coming my way and figure out what to do with that. But I spent a large portion of my life being "brainwashed" into believing that something was right and something was wrong based on someone else's opinions. Now I have to come to terms with the fact that what I was told might not have been right.

Figure out who you are. And do it on purpose. Dolly Parton was right. You have to figure out who you are, what you want, and what you believe. And then you have to act on it, take it out into the world and do what you have to do to make sure that you are being true to yourself. I never knew that as a young adult, and I wish I did.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Creativity Cravings

I wonder if I'm the only one who starts craving really strange things when I start working on something new. It's always something that's crazy and strange, but I still crave it when I get started writing. And lately it's been brownies.

And more importantly--my Gran's homemade brownies.

It's always lovely to have something that reminds me of being a kid and a time when I was able to be creative and happy. So the other day, just before I sat down to get some work done, I threw together a batch of my Gran's brownies and put them in the oven. Then I sat down at the makeshift writing desk in the living room and waited, spending the time looking over the last few pages that I wrote in order to make sure that everything was okay and ready to work.

When they were done, you wouldn't believe how much work I actually got done. I grabbed a piece and sat it by my computer and got to work. I tore through those chapters while I was snacking on the brownies. Not the healthiest of snack foods, but still.

I suppose it makes me feel at home and comfortable when I have something like that--my creative comfort food. And I let my creativity flow so much easier when I have something that allows me to relax. I just wish I could have that in my life forever.

Hmm, maybe I need to look into life comfort food.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Best Thing About my Job

When people ask me what I do for a living, it's strange to put a label on it. Mostly because I do so many different things. I'm not sure whether I should say that I'm a teacher, because I don't really "teach" in the traditional sense. And saying that I'm a tutor seems to fall so far short of what I actually do with my students that it seems inadequate.

Whatever I call what I do to make money, I know that it's what I was meant to do--aside from writing that is. Working with students is something that has been a desire of mine for so long that I don't know what else I would be able to do. I've worked retail and I've worked customer service, but nothing is as satisfying as working with students and seeing the ways the students light up when they begin to understand something.

Perhaps that's the best part of my job. I love teaching material to students, but I love it even more when they come up with the answers on their own. That is the most fulfilling part of my job. When I see a student who came into our appointment so frustrated and ready to give up make a one-eighty and become confident with what they're learning, it absolutely makes my day. It's why I do what I do.

It's almost the same as the feeling I get when I make it to the end of a run, when I've gone just a little further than I did the day before. It's exhilirating to see students take control of their learning. It's an amazing feeling.

And that's why I do what I do.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Shows I'm Catching Up On

I feel like I spend so much of my time worrying about reading and writing that I forget about the shows that I want to watch. Or the rest of the world that's moving along outside of me. So I feel like I've missed out on a good number of shows as I've spent the last few weeks and years working on material for my books and blog tours.

But I am trying to catch up on some of the shows that I've either missed or let fall by the wayside as I spent most of my time doing other things. Especially this week as I finish prepping posts for my second blog tour I'm having a bit of a hard time keeping up with the shows.

I suppose the shows can be described as shows that I'm getting into and shows that I'm catching up on. I'm finally getting into Game of Thrones and I actually have the books on my list to read as the show is pretty interesting. I absolutely love fantasy and pseudomedieval worlds. I think my favorite character on the show is the Khaleesi Daenarys Targaryen. She's the best character on the whole show, but there are so many great stories that it isn't funny. I'm definitely sad that I've missed out on this one for so long.

The shows I'm catching up on are True Blood, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural. I've fallen so behind on those because of all the work I've been doing. I'm looking forward to catching up--even though for some shows I'm several seasons behind rather than just a few episodes. I'm about 3 seasons behind on Supernatural while I'm just a few episodes behind on the others. I'll probably start at the beginning of the previous season and try to catch up before everything starts over again.

I miss being able to sit down and watch television to enjoy it. It's something that always made me feel relaxed. And now that I'm working so much in writing and getting other things done, it's hard to keep track of when the shows are on and how far behind I actually am.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Prepping for the Second Blog Tour

As the end of the month starts to come on, I realize that I've got a lot of work to do. My second blog tour is coming up soon and I have to figure out when I'm going to get the posts put together for the blog tour.

It's a hard thing to get my things together just to make sure that all the posts are ready and that everything is ready to go. I'm trying to figure out when I'm going to be able to sit down and write the posts. With everything that's going on this week, it's going to be hard to find the time to sit down and figure everything out. I'm going to have to schedule writing time, especially since I haven't written any of the new Elemental Royals novel in weeks.

Probably the only thing that I've been doing is working out. So perhaps I should reschedule my time so that I can get the work in for the blog tour as well.

One of the things I've got to do is design the logo for this blog tour. It's something interesting to figure out how to design a new logo and infographic for a blog tour because it has to be just right. It has to be an image that makes the blog tour stand out. That makes the book stand up and be something that makes people want to read it.

I suppose that's the hardest part of a blog tour. Making everything work just right so that people actually want to read it.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Too Many Ideas, Not Enough Time

One of the things that I love most about being a writer is having all these wonderful ideas about stories that I can write. It's a wonderful thing to have all these worlds in my mind and characters who are so strong and unique.

But while I love that, I can see how sometimes it's a curse. I feel overwhelmed sometimes by the number of stories and things that I want to put on paper that I can't because I don't have the time. I wonder if other authors think the same thing.

I keep a notebook of ideas for stories or for characters that I want to write, even if there isn't a particular story to go along with them. And I spend a lot of time every day writing, just to get some of the thoughts out of my head.

It's a hard thing for me to do to slow my brain down enough for me to flick through the different stories and characters to find the one that I can write out. It's difficult to find the one that I can spend the time with.

Right now, I'm focusing on the final Elemental Royals novel. And I've got another series that I'm working on, but I want to keep these other ideas fresh as well. It's a lot of work, but it's what I love. I love to write, just as much as I love to read.

And that's the best thing in the world, right?

Friday, May 9, 2014

That Bad Feeling...

I've recently taken on the role of book reviewer. And I'm glad that I did because I love to read, and, as a self-published author, I want to support other independent and self-publishing writers. I love the fact that other people want my opinion on their writing. 

But I hate that feeling when I get into a book and I just can't stand to go any further. When I try to push through and read the book because I made a commitment to the author to read and review their book. But sometimes I just can't do it. I can't get through it.

I feel like crap when I end up trying to get through a book and just can't do it. And I hate the feeling even worse when I'm sitting there reading the book and I get frustrated with it because, in my opinion, the author is trying too hard. That's happened several times with several different independent books that I've been reading for reviews. It's horrible to tell another writer, who has put their heart and soul into their work, that I didn't like it. 

Or worse, that I didn't like it so much that I actually couldn't finish reading the book. 

I suppose that's the one thing about the job of book reviewer that I hate more than anything. I know what it's like to have this pride in your work and know that it's everything you could have made it. And I live in fear of the day when a reviewer says that my book sucks.
I don't ever want to be that reviewer for someone else. Every writer has something to say and a story to tell, but not every reader is the best to get that story. I have to keep that in mind. I have to live by that. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Favorite Kind of Day

There are some days that are better than others, and I have to admit that I really enjoy the days where I can relax just a little bit. And I relax the best when it comes to days that are quiet and raining.

For as long as I can remember, I've loved the rain. It's been something that has always made me feel better. The sound of rain hitting the roof or falling on the concrete is a sound that I've enjoyed for so long that I don't know what I'd do if it didn't rain every once in a while. I need the relaxation and the calming sound.

The days that I love the most are rainy days in the spring or the autumn, when it isn't too hot. I can go outside on the front porch and sit. I get to sit there and watch the rain fall and smell the clean scent of everything. And that's the best smell in the world in my opinion. It's fresh and crisp and just amazing.

I get out a book and a glass of soda. And I put my feet up and read while I let the sky open up around me. Those kinds of days are fantastic days.

And maybe one of the best things about a day of rain is when it decides to thunder. I love the rumble of thunder and the bright crack of lightning.

In short, my favorite kind of days are days when it rains, when it storms. Because afterwards the world is so perfectly clean that it's breathtaking.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Scheduling Sucks

Now that May is here, it's hit me that I've got to get things together for the blog tour for the second novel in the Elemental Royals Trilogy. And that means finalizing schedules and all of that fun stuff.

I like doing blog tours. I get to talk to a bunch of different people who love books as much as I do. The blog tours not only give me a chance to talk to people and make connections, it also allows me to get my name out there in a way that makes it easier for me to get books sold. Selling books is good, but making connections is better.

The worst part about doing a blog tour isn't writing the guest posts or putting the content together. The worst part is all about the scheduling. It's about getting the schedule done, making sure I've got everything organized and ready to go. It's about the thousand emails and the dates and times and deadlines.

And on top of scheduling for the blog tour, I' also working to schedule for the blogs. I've got to schedule posts, write them, and put together the upcoming list of books and things that go on the review blog. That's the part about the review blog that I hate the most. It's just putting the schedule together. I love writing the posts and reading the books. I just don't like having to spend twenty minutes going through the list of books that I have to read and put them on my schedule.

So, in short, I have to say that scheduling sucks.

A lot.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What to do with My Vacation

So my vacation officially starts today. I have roughly a week and a half off before I go back to work, and I'm trying to figure out exactly what to do with my days off.

Obviously, I'm going to try to get some writing done. I would love to have the first draft of the last Elemental Royals novel finished by the time my next novel comes out in September. So that means I'm going to be working on it as much as possible. I'm not writing quite as fast at the moment because I'm on a new computer that doesn't have iTunes on it, so I don't have my writing playlists. Perhaps I should put everything on my iPod and keep it with me. That would most certainly help me write a little faster.

Of course I have the book review blog that I have to worry about as well. I've got books to read and blog posts to write for that. So I'm going to spend a little bit of my time reading so that I can get the reviews put together. I'm in to the books that have been sent to me by authors at this point, so I have to get them read and put up. It's going to be an interesting couple weeks as I get through those.

And then I have this blog to keep up with. I've got to put together blog posts for it and all of that good stuff. Sometimes I don't see how people write a blog every day. It's hard to come up with topics for every single day. I fear that I'm running out of ideas.

Lastly, I've got to work on the blog tour for the second Elemental Royals novel. I'm finalizing some dates for blog stops and things like that. And I've got to write the guest posts and put together the graphics as well. I like doing blog posts and things like that. Putting things together isn't always the most fun. But I'm going to spend part of my vacation finishing up the blog tour.

Oh dear, and then I'll start planning for the blog tour for the first novel in the Off World series.

Maybe vacation isn't going to be as relaxing as I thought.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pulling Out the Old Novels

As I talked about yesterday, I'm nearing the end of the Elemental Royals trilogy. One of the things I have to do now is look to my next series and my next project.

Although I've started a new series and will release the first novel in that series in September, I also want to look forward to some of the other things that I'll be working on. I always have to be far enough ahead that I can figure out what I'm going to work on next.

I suppose I like to be scheduled and planned and thinking ahead.

So one thing I'm going to do is pull out some of my old novels. The ones that are finished and the ones that aren't. But that's still given me a lot of material to work with.

I'm thinking of going back to the very first novel that I finished. It might need a lot of work, but it's something for me to start with. And it gives me more material to send out to agents.

And since the novels have had a lot of time between when I started them and when I'm going back to look at them, I'll have a set of fresh eyes to start on it again. And that might be a wonderful thing for me to do.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Planning a New Series

It seems like I always have ideas running through my head. Sometimes things just pile up in my head and I have a hard time keeping up with everything that I want to do.

Especially when it comes to writing. I almost always have a new idea for a new story or series rattling around in my brain.

As I'm drawing to an end of the Elemental Royals series, I'm working to plan another new series or two. I know that it's kind of odd to work on a new series before I've even finished the very first one that I'm working on. But I can't help the fact that I've got all of these thoughts rushing through my head. And I like the planning stage of putting together novels or a new series.

Right now, I'm looking through the planning of the Off World series. And I'm also looking back at other novels that I've worked on but perhaps never finished. I'm planning on going back to some of those and reworking them to make them ready for publication.

There are at least three series and a stand alone novel that I'm looking at writing. Once I finish with the Elemental Royals series, I'm going to focus on the Off World series. At the same time, I'm going to get some work done on The Chosen Chronicles, a series I started years ago. I also want to work on another trilogy or two. And I have a fallen angel novel that I've been wanting to write for a long time.

I have so many half finished files and novels on my computer that it isn't funny. If I was able to, I'd have one novel after another that I could work on for months. I could probably spend the next six months writing novels that I've started but never finished.

And that would be a wonderful thing!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Characters I Wish I Could Write

Since I've started watching Game of Thrones (I know, it seems like a lot of stuff comes back to Game of Thrones right now), I've been thinking about the kind of characters I'm seeing on the show. And I've been thinking about the kind of characters that I write.

The more I watch, and the deeper into the plot and the relationships between the characters that I see, I start to wonder if I could write better characters. I've been looking at the different types of characters that there are in my books and wondering if there are better ways to write them, or if there were more characteristics that I could give them to make them more realistic. Because the characters I've been watching in the show and reading in other books, I've been taking a closer look at the characters that I write.

Honestly, I thought I could write a pretty good character. I thought I was pretty good at descriptions and behaviors and dialogue. What more could I do to make the characters more rounded or more realistic? And how can I learn to write more or better characters altogether?

It's hard for me to do something more than what I do, because I'm not entirely sure how. But I wish I could write better villains or better leading characters. I already do character maps and self-interviews and backstories. I honestly don't know how to write a better character.

And then I start to think that maybe my characters are exactly the way they're supposed to be. I might be writing sword and sorcery and fantasy, but that doesn't mean that it has to be on the epic scale of the Game of Thrones books. And I can have a good character without them having to be an incestuous queen with a whiny son and a philandering husband. But it would be quite cool if I had a character that interesting.

But there's one thing that I can say--I can write a damn strong female character.

Who knows? Maybe I already do.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The TV Shows I Wish I'd Watched

Since I'm late to the game getting into Game of Thrones, I've been thinking back on some of the other shows that have been out that I wish I'd actually sat down to watch. And the more I think, the more I've realized I'm really picky about the shows that I watch.

And I missed a lot of good ones.

Looking back on it, I've come up with a top ten list of the shows that I wish I'd started with from the beginning.

  1.  Game of Thrones
  2. Agents of Shield
  3. Reign
  4. Arrow
  5. Married to Medicine
  6. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
  7. Devious Maids
  8. Dance Moms
  9. The Test
  10. The Cleveland Show
I may watch a lot of TV, but it seems like I miss the best shows because I don't catch them from the beginning. Or I get into them and then kind of back off before I really get through them. I'm that way with The Walking Dead. I've still got to catch up on seasons three and four. I've missed so much that I really don't know what's going on anymore. And I absolutely hate that.

At least I can say that I finally broke down and saw Frozen. Which was absolutely worth it!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Vacation is Coming

It kind of makes me laugh to say it like that, especially since I'm watching Game of Thrones now and the Starks are always saying, "Winter is coming." Maybe that's why I wrote it that way. And that's perfectly okay. It's a symbol of my dorkiness.

As the end of the semester winds down, I'll be going out on my vacation for a week before the summer session begins. I get a week off, and I'm sitting here thinking about how I'm supposed to occupy my time during those long days. It's going to be one of those very long weeks, just because I'm going to have entire days were I won't have anything to do. Maybe I'll get a lot of reading and writing done!

Having a week off is something that I'm not used to lately. With my multiple jobs and my days of working with other companies and church, time off is something that I don't normally get to deal with. And when I do get it, I don't know what to do with myself. So sitting here facing down a week of no work... I don't know how to begin planning what I'm going to do.

I suppose I should get some reading done. As I sit here and look at my reading list, I figure that a week off would let me read several different books over the course of the week. And I can really give my Kindle a workout by reading a bunch of those extra books I've got. I've got so many authors who have been incredibly patient with me waiting for their reviews. And I have to get to them just like I promised.

But of course I can't spend the whole week just reading. Now that I'll have a lot of time on my hands, I could actually buckle down and finish writing the new Elemental Royals book. I haven't had a whole lot of time to write lately, and I'd love to be able to sit down at my desk and get some real, hard-core writing done. I might even have the first draft finished by the end of the summer!

And another thing I should probably do over vacation is amp up my agent search. One of my resolutions is to have an agent by the end of the year. And that isn't going to happen if I don't get on the ball and send out more queries to more agents. It isn't like my writing is so great that they're going to come knocking on my door just because. Although that would be amazing.

So maybe my days won't be so empty of stuff to do. I might actually get some things done!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

End of the Month Stress Buster

It's that time again. The month is almost over, and it's time to work on getting rid of that stress that's built up over the last thirty days. So how are we going to deal with it this month?

For this month's stress buster, we're talking about giving that stress out into the universe through meditation. One thing I want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable with is that meditation doesn't have to be a religious or spiritual exercise. It can simply be something that allows you to find your inner calm once again.

In order to do this month's stress buster, you'll need a quiet place. If you're fond of nature and the weather is nice, take a blanket and head outside under the sun. If you're staying inside, you'll need something comfortable to sit on and something to play some calming music. I would highly suggest anything on Enya's CD Paint the Sky with Stars or this noise generator that can be found here. Both have a lot of music and sounds that are highly relaxing. 

To get the most out of this stress buster, you want to give yourself time to relax and time to spend alone. You'll need some privacy just to get yourself into a calm place for yourself. 

Here's what to do for this month's stress buster:
  1. Get comfortable sitting wherever you are. Sit on a blanket or a pillow to make sure that you're comfortable.
  2. If you're playing music, adjust the sound so that it is low enough that you can hear it but not so loud that it's going to interfere with being able to relax and concentrate.
  3. Close your eyes and relax your body. Find a comfortable position.
  4. One at a time, imagine each of your worries or stressors as colored marbles that you're placing in a basket. As you place each one in the basket, name the stress and give it a color. The darker the color, the more this stress is making you worry. Use blues, purples, and reds for highly stressing subjects. 
  5. Once you've placed all your marbles in the basket, imagine that you're mixing the marbles together and that they're turning into shades of paint. 
  6. Imagine pouring the paint out--mixed into a thousand colors--and watching it flow away in a river. Let the stress go down the river into the universe and allow it to flow out of your body.
By naming your stress, it gives you a way to make them into a form that you can acknowledge and deal with. It helps to make your stresses manageable. 

I hope this stress buster helps to relax you and get rid of some of the stress that's built up over this month. I know it helps me to deal with stress to do this meditation visualization. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Learning to Tweet

One of the things I've had to learn as a writer is how to use social media and other things like that to be able to spread the word about my books and myself. I suppose the biggest thing I've used to promote things is Twitter, and I've had to learn how to use that platform in order to get my words out there.

It was hard to figure out what to Tweet and how to use it. One of the things that I did at first was to follow a lot of writers and see what they tweeted about. It was a good way to see what kind of things should be put out there when it comes to my writing. And what I found out was that the writers that I followed tweeted about just about everything. It wasn't all about the books or things like that. So that meant that I had a bit of an open forum to use Twitter.

For a while, I tweeted a lot of links about this blog and other things like that. And I definitely tweet to the other authors that I follow when I read one of their books and I just love it. I've made a few friends on Twitter in other independent authors. And it means a lot to me when they talk about their books and ask about how mine is going.

Sometimes I go a few days without tweeting, but that might not be the best thing. Especially when I want to make sure that I've got a presence on social media to keep my name out there. Doesn't mean that it's always on everyone's lips, but it's good to at least keep myself out there.

So here are a few things that I learned about tweeting:

  1. Be consistent and tweet often
  2. But don't be obnoxious about it
  3. Tweet about those things that are important
  4. Use Twitter to thank the wonderful people who support you
  5. Be honest and make it fun

Monday, April 28, 2014

I Need a Home Office

The longer I spend my time working and writing, I start to think about the things that I should have in my house. And the one thing I'd love to have is a full fledged home office.

In the house I live in now, there really isn't space for a real home office. There aren't enough rooms and there are too many people for me to have a space all my own for writing and all that good stuff. Right now, I have a little space in my bedroom that I'm using as an office area. But it seems like I spend very little time in that space because I'm always somewhere else in the house.

I'd like to have my own room where I can set up a little library space with a few bookcases and a desk with all of my writing materials all in the same area. A space where I can go and turn on some writing music and be able to get a lot of work done.

Maybe I feel like that would make me a more legitimate writer. But I know it would make me feel more organized if I could have all of my writing books, notes, and things all put together somewhere on the desk with my computer and everything else. Because right now I'm writing on a little desk that I can carry around my house, and I don't like it so much. Mostly because I type relatively fast and the desk wobbles whenever I get going on a roll.

Yeah, I think my goal is to be able to have my own home office.

I suppose that means that I'll have to find a new place to live. And that might not happen for a while.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Style

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered who you really are? Why you talk the way you talk or dress the way you do? Or maybe even just tried to figure out why you go through the things you do and how that's shaped your view of the world. 

Sometimes I try to take a step back and figure out who I am and how the things I've gone through have made me become the person I am--both in my writing and in my life. And I wonder how those things have fed into my style. My life style, my writing style, and everything that goes along with that. 

When it comes to clothes, I'm slightly emo. I like to think that I'm a little bit rocker chick and a little bit girl next door. I'll wear flip flops with jeans, but a shirt and a scarf covered with skulls. Lots of chunky jewelry that draws attention. And I love shoes with big heels and lots of accessories. I have a pair of boots with little rivet spikes on the front that I just love. And I have LOTS of skull jewelry. I love that stuff.

Maybe it's because I work in an anatomy lab in my day job.

When it comes to my writing, I guess it's a whole other ball game. I'm not entirely sure what's going on sometimes--I just get into a writing zone and it doesn't stop easily. Sometimes it's like I put a little of myself in the writing, and the characters come out something like me and something like themselves. Other times, the characters are like people that I've never met and I'm trying to figure them out. It's like moving to a new place and knowing that you have to assimilate quickly or be an outcast forever. 

Most of my novels are written in the first person, although I've gone through a period where I wrote in third person. Somehow, that just doesn't feel like me. It doesn't seem like it's my writing style. I like to be in the mind of my characters, feeling what they're feeling and seeing what they're seeing. That's the best way.

I guess my style is something that is uniquely me. 

And that's just the way it's supposed to be. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cover Designing

One of the things that comes up with self-publishing authors is the fact that we have to do nearly everything by ourselves. There's little that we can send off to others to do--mostly because of the fact that we don't have the time or the money to pass on some responsibilities. And we want to keep a tight hold on our babies since we've been working on them for so long.

Something that I've had to learn how to do is to design my own covers. It isn't the easiest thing to do--even though the platform that I am publishing through has a wonderful cover designing template--since you have to get everything just right. There's spacing issues and a thousand other things that have to be considered when you put together a book cover.

More than anything, it has to fit the story that you're trying to tell. It has to draw attention and make the reader want to pick up the book to read it. And that's something hard to do, especially when you're so tightly attached to your book that you don't know how to step back and make it new and interesting.

I have to admit that I loved designing the new cover, though. It was a new skill that I could pick up and a good way for me to find a new angle to think about my story. I had to step back and figure out what was really important about the book. What was so unique that I had to put it on the cover? And how would I make it look?

There was some trial and error involved, but I think I finally got it right in the end. Sure a professional could have done something different, but I think what I've got is a pretty damn good try for a newbie. And I think it makes a great connection to the way that the story goes.

I've already started looking at the covers for the last novel in the series and the cover for my newest series. With a sister like mine who can help to pull the graphics together, I think it'll all turn out just fine.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dreams, Naps, and Getting Bored

Sometimes I feel like all I do is sleep. That's what I like to do. If I'm not reading, and I'm not writing--I want to be asleep. I guess that's because I run around so much trying to do fifty different things at the same time. Or that I'm just lazy sometimes.

And that's okay.

I prefer to sleep just because I'm relaxed, and I don't get to relax very much. I feel like I'm doing a thousand things all at once, and I never get to relax. So when I get the chance to sleep, I will. And I sometimes have some very strange dreams.

I wish I was one of those writers who saw their stories in their dreams. Or who could turn their dreams into new stories. I tend to hear things on the radio and get an idea for a story. Or have these little "voices" in my head that tell me the stories.

There are times when I get bored pretty easy. Sometimes it's when I'm writing. Sometimes it's when I'm just hanging out watching television. And most of the time when I get bored, I do one of two things--sleep or eat. Honestly, neither one of them is the best idea of things to do. At least not on a long term basis.

Sometimes I wish I could have really vivid dreams like other people do. It would be great. I would be so happy with it if I could. I know one person who has such vivid, real dreams that sometimes she can't tell if she's awake or asleep. What do I have to do to have dreams like that?!

In fact, right now I'm tired. I wish I could go back to bed.

Sleep would be good.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Clothes Shopping and Plus Sizes

I'm one of those people who absolutely hates clothes shopping. And that's for several different reasons. Mostly it's because I just don't have the patience to go through a store and look at fifty thousand different things. I much prefer to shop online or do something like that.

But most of all, I hate having to shop in the plus size section.

I know I can fix that by losing weight, but everyone knows that's hard. And I like food just too much.

It isn't so much about the fact that I'm seen in the plus sized section, because I really don't care about that. Honestly, anyone can look at me and see that I'm plus sized. Period. My real problem is that there are never any "good" clothes in the plus sized section.

The clothes are either way too big and make me look like I'm wearing a tent, or they're too small and make me look pregnant. What am I supposed to do?

I used to shop at Cato's, which has a decent selection of clothes in plus sizes. But the problem was that Cato's was really dressy and catered to a more "mature" clientele. Every once in a blue moon there might be something that was up my alley as far as fashion was concerned. But that was a rare occurrence.

Then I discovered this wonderful store known as Torrid. It's a sister company to Hot Topic, and they are fantastic. They cater to younger women in the plus size range. And it is a fabulous place to shop because the clothes are cool, the workers are the same shape as me, and I don't feel ashamed when I go shopping.

So sometimes it doesn't suck so much.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Dream Vacation

With my week long vacation coming up soon, I started thinking about what my dream vacation would actually look like. I can't say that it would ever happen, but I would love to be able to spend a few days in London. That would be a wonderful vacation.

I can see it now. I'd arrive at Heathrow and go straight to my hotel in order to get over the slight jet lag. I think I'd go to London a day early so that I'd have a day to adjust to the time difference and everything. That way I could spend my entire week going around the city to see everything that there was to see.

There are a lot of places in London that I would like to see. Of course, there are the big tourist draws--London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London. But I think I'd go to a bunch of other places around the country as well. I would go to visit the graves of the Princes of the Tower. I would want to see the battlefields of St. Albans and Tewksbury. I'd ride the London Eye and take the train to Cardiff to see Wales.

And who knows, maybe I'd take a day and travel across the Channel to France and visit Harfleur and Agincourt because I'm such a history nerd. I don't want to see Paris or the big cities. I want to see the oldest parts of the country--the parts that were tied up in English history as well.

That's my idea of a dream vacation, but I don't think it would ever happen. I'm just not that lucky as far as having the funds or the time to go on such a trip. But I can't say that I wouldn't absolutely enjoy it.

In fact, it would be the best thing that could ever happen to me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Places I Would Most Like to Live

I have to admit, I've never been one of those people who think where I live is the best place in the world. True, North Carolina is a beautiful state. But the weather is crazy and sometimes it's so hot that I just can't stand it. And when it rains, it freezes me to death even though I prefer the rain over the sun.

So I started thinking--mostly when I was scouting out locations online for similarities for my next book--what other places would I love to live? Where else in the world would I be willing to settle down and start a new life?

Here are my top ten places to live other than where I live right now...

1. Anywhere in England
2. Paris
3. Rome
4. New Zealand
5. New York City
6. Hawaii
7. Los Angeles
8. San Fransico
9. Boston
10. Seattle

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Book Challenge Update

This is the first year that I've taken part in a reading challenge, and I have to admit that I'm really enjoying it. I set the bar kind of high with a goal of 60 books for the year, which I now think that I'm going to be able to hit with no problem since I've started the review blog.

I'm actually almost a third of the way through already. As of Sunday, April 20, I have read 19 books. Which is pretty impressive when you think about it.

I'm pretty impressed with myself as I've finished a majority of the books within a few days. Although there were some real world things that came up that threw my reading schedule off. I hate it when things like that happen, but I'm still on par to get through the books by Halloween I think. Because at the rate that I'm reading, I should be two thirds of the way through the list by the end of the summer.

Of the 19 books that I've read so far this year, I have to say that my favorites have been the two available books in the All Saints Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. The two books were right up my alley with plenty of paranormal elements, romance, and tons of history. It was brilliant. And even though I enjoyed reading it, my least favorite was Slither. It just didn't fit very well with me.

I look forward to the other books that are on my list. And it's going to be a good year trying to hit that goal.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Okay, I love my Kindle

I swore a very long time ago that I would never EVER get a Kindle or any kind of e-Reader. Mostly because I enjoy the physical feel of paper and book board in my hands. I like the smell of book glue and ink.

But I have to admit that I love my Kindle. I love, love, LOVE it.

True, it's an old first generation that I got from a friend, but I don't need it for games or anything like that. All I need it for is reading. And this makes it so much easier for me to read eBooks that are sent to me for reviews. I can take it with me and catch up on reading as I go through things. And it doesn't mean that I have to carry a laptop with me everywhere to read on my Kindle App on my computer.

I suppose I'm old fashioned. Mostly because I've grown up with physical books, and I want to die with physical books. But I guess e-Readers aren't so very bad. Especially when the only format I have the books in is digital.

There's nothing fancy about my e-Reader. And that's just the way I like it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Guilty Pleasure: Marriage Boot Camp

If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you've probably realized that I am a big fan of reality television. Talk shows. Dramas. Whatever... I like it. Who knows why, since I haven't quite figured it out myself.

One of my guilty pleasures--one show that I never miss no matter when it's on or how many times I've seen it--is WE TV's Marriage Boot Camp. It's a show about the couples who were on the show Bridezillas who are now having issues in their marriage. It's a therapy show where the couples go through different drills and challenges to attempt to fix the problems in their marriage.

I love this show for several different reasons, but mostly because the problems are so real. Infidelity, anger, alcoholism, all of them are problems that are smack in the middle of the human condition. What real people go through on a daily basis. I suppose that's why I love reality television so much. Because it shows the worst of human behavior, but also the best sometimes.

Marriage Boot Camp, although I'm acutely aware of the fact that it is reality television, comes across as incredibly real. These couples are having real problems. True, there are big personalities and a massive dose of editing to really play up the drama. But the show gives an insight into the way relationships go right and in the way they go wrong.

I guess reality television makes it easier for me to write because it gives me a new insight on how relationships work. Especially since I don't have a lot of experience in them myself.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fire's Princess Cover

Since the new book is coming out in the next few months, I thought I would share with you the cover of the new book. It was a long process of trying to figure out what the new over was going to look like. My sister--my lovely graphic designer--put together a few covers to see what we could work with. But none of those really fit. But this one... the one that we finally agreed upon, it was perfect. And it fit.

So here is the cover of The Fire's Princess, which will be available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon on June 4.

Rose has lost everything she's ever known. 

 Her father has been murdered. She has fled her home in the Forested Land to take refuge with King Andrew Rivers in a foreign kingdom.  Her home is under the control of a tyrant king, one who will stop at nothing to see Rose and all of her family dead. She has to fight to stay hidden, stay alive, and find a way back home.  Now Rose must find a way to organize a rebellion to get back to her homeland, as well as win the hearts of a kingdom that doesn't know her. With lords scheming with hidden agendas and her own secrets threatening to be exposed, Rose must face enemies she never expected and find a destiny she never planned for.  In the stunning sequel to The Forest's Heir, Ley Hayley takes readers on a journey through court intrigue and matters of the heart. The Fire's Princess truly is a fiery ride!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Agent Search is On

I've done this whole process before. Searching for an agent is something that every writer will do at least once in their career. Most, I think, do it multiple times or over a long period to find just the right fit between your project and the person who is going to fight for it.

Sometimes that part takes a long time.

I've been on the hunt for an agent for a long time. More than once, I've gone out searching for agents and trying to figure out how best to pitch my work to someone. It's difficult to figure out how to put information in a form that will make people get excited about something that I've spent the last year and a half of my life writing, fixing, and polishing.

Perhaps the hardest part of the agent search is hearing "no." I think that's the hardest part because people think that saying no is a simple thing. I've done it as a reviewer, and I know it isn't an easy thing to do. It's hard to tell people that you aren't interested in something that they worked so hard on. I know it has to be hard for the agents to say no to projects, but it's hard for me to hear it too. I don't like being told that something I worked so hard on isn't good enough for someone.

But that's their job, and I have to learn to live with the word "no." It's a part of life, and it is certainly a part of writing.

So the agent search is still on... and one day I'll find the right person to fight for my writing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blood, Sweat, & Tears

Sometimes, I think this is everything that is built into being a writer. In everything that you do that you're passionate about, there's an element of putting so much of yourself into it that you bleed for it. You cry for it and about it. Sometimes I feel that if you aren't tearing yourself apart for the project, then it doesn't seem to be something worth doing.

I know that it seems kind of strange to hear something like that. But I'm one of those people who think that if you're going to do something, then you might as well do it the best as you can. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, as they say.

I've been working on my projects for over two years now, and I'm trying to get them to the point where I can really make them the best they can possibly be. And that's all about bleeding and sweating and crying for a project. Putting everything that you can in a project and letting yourself and your desires bleed out over the page. That's the kind of writer I want to be. I want to be one of those writers who people say is passionate about writing. Who makes their characters and worlds come alive because I breathe my own life into them.

Maybe I'm a bit too passionate about writing. That might be the problem. But it doesn't matter to me. It's all about being who I am and making it work for me. And for me, I have to be all or nothing about something. I'm in it, or I'm not.

It's that simple.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Second Blog Tour Update

The next blog tour is coming up quickly since the second book is about to come out in a few months. I'm getting ready for the next blog tour, trying to figure out which blogs are going to pick it up and how I'm going to promote things this time.

It seems like things are going much more slowly this time than for the last time. Maybe it's just because I've been so busy with my new job. But I'm going to get to work and bring in a few more blogs before the tour kicks off at the end of May. It'll be fun.

I'm looking forward to this tour and the second book launch. In honor of it, I've opened up the book on Smashwords. And the second book will release on Smashwords on the day of the release as well.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Short Hiatus

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted any new blogs in the last few days. I'm sorry about this, but I just haven't had the time. I've barely had the time to write anything! I just got a new job, and I've been working almost non-stop to get ready for it. 

So I'll be on a short blogging hiatus (I'll probably be back on Monday the 7th) until I get things situated for the new job.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Playing Pranks

April fool's day has never been one of my favorite holidays. I suppose it's because I'm not very good at playing pranks. I'm usually the recipient of the jokes rather than the perpetrator. That doesn't mean I don't like pranks. I just like funny ones, not ones that hurt people.

Here are my top five favorite pranks that I've either played on someone or had played on me.

  1. Gluing everything down on someone's desk 
  2. Ketchup packets under the toilet seats
  3. Putting maple syrup in someone's shampoo
  4. Stealing all of someone's toilet paper from their apartment
  5. Underwear in the freezer at a sleepover
I think my favorite prank is the one where myself and a few of my roommates glued everything down on someone's desk. That happened during my first semester at university, and we did it to a couple of the boys who lived in the dorm across the quad from us. It was kind of this ongoing prank war between our room and theirs. Eventually it escalated to where our RAs told us we couldn't do it anymore, but it was fun while it lasted. No one got hurt, and there wasn't any real damage to anything since we didn't use superglue.

We sneaked into their room while they were in class and used Elmer's glue to attach everything on their desks to the wood. It took forever, but it was fun. Especially because we very nearly got caught when one of them came back to their room to grab something for a class. We had to hide in the closets to keep from being caught.

It was fantastic. And I absolutely loved it. It's one of the best memories I had from university.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Is Spring Coming Yet?

Like most of the country, the weather where I live has been crazy for the past few weeks. We have days of warm, beautiful weather, and then it snows. Covers everything in ice so thick that it knocks down trees and cuts out the power. And it's cold as crap sometimes.

I wonder if spring is ever going to come.

People say that global warming and climate change aren't true. But I can point to what's going on with our weather right now and show that our environment is changing and it isn't so much for the best. Rapid weather cycling and dramatic fluctuations in temperature are hallmarks of climate change. It just happens. It's true. And people need to accept that fact.

I'm getting sick of the fact that I have to bundle up in the morning and then burn up in the afternoons. I'm sick of it being 70 degrees one day and snowing and icing the next.

I want spring. I want warm days and light rains and flowers.

Sometimes I think it will never come.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

End of the Month Stress Buster

It's that time of the month again. And this month has definitely been stressful beyond anything I've had to deal with this year. So there's a big need for a stress buster this month. And it's got to be something good.

Our end of the month stress buster this month is all about getting out your frustration. Everyone knows that the longer you hold on to your frustration and your stress, the worse that it gets. It's important to recognize that you've got this frustration and deal with it so that you can get past the stress that it causes. Because we all know how stress messes with our health.

You'll need a few things to go through the stress buster exercises for this month. Take a few minutes and get together a few pillows (preferably ones that are thick and well stuffed), a pad of paper, some tape, and a pen.

To start off, you'll want to sit down with the paper and pen. You can do one of two things for this part of the activity: you can write out a list of the things that are stressing you out or frustrating you on a single sheet of paper OR you can write one thing that's stressing or frustrating you on individual sheets of paper. This is entirely up to you. Don't think too hard about the things that are bothering you. Get them out as soon as they come to you.

Next, you'll want to take that list (or one of the sheets of paper you wrote on) and tape it to the top of one of the pillows. All you want is to keep it there, it doesn't have to stay there forever. Put another pillow on top of that so that you have a "stress list sandwich"--a pillow, the list of stressors, and then another pillow on top.

Now, take as long as you need to beat the crap out of the pillows, imagining that you are beating up all those things that are stressing and frustrating you. Get that frustration out. The physical exertion will also help expel some of the stress out of your body.

Trust me you'll feel better afterwards.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Publishing a new series before the first is finished

We've established by this point that I love to write. And that I write a lot. That means there are several different books on my computer that are in various stages of being complete. Who knows when any of them will see the light of day? 

Well, that isn't necessarily true. I've been working lately on the final formatting for the release of the second Elemental Royals novel, but I've also been working on the formatting for a the first book in a new series. I've mentioned before that I've been writing a dystopian science fiction novel that is the first book in a series that I'm calling the Off World Series. And it's in the final stages of being ready to be released.

I'm planning right now on releasing it in September. That would be a few months after the second Elemental Royals novel has been released, but long before the final one comes out. I know a few authors who do this. Who release new books and start new series before the first one is finished. But I suppose that works for them because they get paid to write. They spend all day writing. It's their day job. Unfortunately for me, this isn't my day job. 

But oh, how I wish it was!

I've got at least two books ready to be released. And I'm looking forward to it more than anything in the world. I think I'm going to release one of them in September and the other in December. I know it's going to be a lot of work--putting together blog tours and doing promotional activities and all of those things--but I'm willing to do it. Because this is what I love. 

Wow. You've just seen me make the decision to release three books this year. One in June, one in September, and one in December. 

Hmm I guess that means I need to rearrange the website a bit. Or add a few new pages. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Is the semester over yet?

It's been one of those semesters. A semester where I'm exhausted half the time, and the rest of the time I'm frustrated. With the weather the way it's been and the stress that's come from my personal life, it's made me look forward to the end of the semester with nothing more than the greatest of glee.

It isn't that I don't love my job at the university. I really do adore my job. But right now I'm so exhausted by everything that's been going on that I just want to have things be over for a while. I'd love to have a nice long break where I didn't have to get up or do anything. And it isn't so much that I want time to read or write. It's just that I'd like to have some time to relax and get myself straightened out.

Even though I only work a few days a week on campus, there's still so much that I do outside of campus that I have to do to make sure that my students are getting everything that they need from me. If I'm not working on my books or my blog tours, I'm working on something for my students. It feels like I have very little time for myself when it comes right down to it.

Maybe I take on too much. Maybe I need to take a break and let go of a few things. That might be the best thing for me. But right now I have no choice but to do the things that I've signed up to do, no matter how exhausted it makes me feel or how stressed I get about it.

So I'll ask again. Is the semester over yet?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Planning Ahead is a Good Idea

I've sat down today to look at what's going on for me in the next few months. And I've tried to put together some things so that I would know what's coming up and how I need to be prepared for it.

In other words, I've spent the day getting organized and planning ahead.

One thing I've been planning for is the review blog. Putting books on the schedule to read and review. Give myself a few days in between to read and put my review together. I'm a little tired thinking of all the books and things that I have to keep up with to make sure that I get through everything.

And then I've thought about what's going on with work and writing. How am I going to go through the summer working? What am I going to do as far as writing goes? And how is all of that going to coincide with my blog tour? There's going to be a lot going on for me in the next few months and planning ahead is going to be essential.

I get tired thinking about some of it. Right now I want to just go take a nap. That would be incredibly lovely. But I've got to stay up and get things put together.

Planning ahead, no matter what it is, is an important part of everyday life. It's important to figure out everything that you need to do and put yourself in the position so that you can get it done. I suppose that's what this post is really about. Reminding myself that I've got to get on the ball and make sure that things are going to get done.

No matter how exhausted or busy I get.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reading on a Deadline

Reading has always been a passion of mine. So I suppose that's one of the reasons why I wanted to be a writer... I wanted to give the world stories that I thought were interesting. I wanted to put something out there for people to read. And I guess that's also why I decided to be a book reviewer. Simply because I love to read, and I love to suggest books to people I know.

But one thing I hate about being a book reviewer is having to read on a deadline. True, it's a self-imposed deadline, but still. When I have a stack of books that go from the floor to halfway up my desk, I have to read quick. Especially when a lot of those books belong to the public library and there are other people who want to read them.

It's hard to read on a deadline. Mostly because it's something that means I won't have the time I'd like to digest and understand the story like I normally would. I have to get through the story and make a decision about how good or bad it is based on a day or two worth of reading. Given, I can read pretty fast if I'm given the time off to go through a book. But that doesn't mean I want to tear through them that fast.

I have to read fast and make quick notes about things I want to put in my reviews. And it's just hard to keep up with everything that's going on in the story when I'm plowing through fifty pages at a time. That's the only way I can get through a book as fast as I need to for my deadlines. I have to read fifty pages, take a break, and hit another fifty pages. The book gets finished pretty quickly that way.

I can't wait to get to a point where I don't have to read so fast. Where I can relax and enjoy the novels that I've chosen to read and review. I think that's what I miss the most--being able to enjoy the books. Take my time and savor the words that are written on the page.

Not that I don't do it now when I'm reading for reviews, but I just don't get to enjoy and savor them as much now as I did before.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Fear of Losing a Computer

I think it's the worst possible thing that could happen to a writer. Losing their computer. Either to physical loss or a crash. And I live every day with the fear that my big computer--my writing computer--is going to crash on me.

That's why I triple back up everything. Every single day.

And I usually back things up every two hundred fifty words or so. Or every fifteen minutes, whichever comes first. I lost things like that before, and I'm terrified of losing things again.

I think it's the biggest fear that I have as far as my writing goes. That and having something of mine stolen. I've lived with both, and I've come through them. But I've learned a lot of different things because of it.

Maybe the biggest lessons I've learned have to do with backing things up. I learned to back up everything often. And that's what I do. And in multiple places. And I also learned to have a hard copy of things. Just to be able to prove that it was yours. Hard copies with dates on them.

I have two computers now. One for writing and one for my day job. But that doesn't mean that I don't keep copies of everything on my new computer. Just in case.

That's my new motto. Just in case.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Becoming a Legitimate Reviewer

I've always been a reader. For as long as I can remember, books have been my best friends. I could curl up in a book and forget my problems. And I've always been one of those people who tell my friends about great books and things like that.

So it seemed a natural progression for me to be a reviewer. To build a book review blog and read books in order to give my opinions on them. That's why I built Ley's Library. Why I decided to take on a massive amount of reading and put my name up on review sites in order to garner books to read and review.

And maybe for some free books, just because those are a perk of the job.

I've gotten a bunch of requests for reviews, mostly for historical novels (which I love) and things like that. Most of them--all of them in fact--have been eBooks, which are okay but take me longer to read because I have to read on my computer. But today I got my first review request that will provide a paperback.

I feel like a legitimate reviewer now. Maybe I should get my own PO Box. Just for the blog and things. I wonder how much that would cost?

Hmm... apparently not much. But I don't get that much mail for the blog just yet. So maybe it isn't an expense that I can justify right now. Who knows? Maybe I'll get to the point later where I have to get one. It'll be interesting.

I feel like I'm getting to be a legitimate reviewer. And that's an amazing feeling.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Need to Read Faster

My to be read pile is getting bigger and bigger, especially since I put my blog up on a reviewer website. And I finally realize how hard it is for reviewers to say no to some of the projects that are pitched to them. I feel bad saying no to people, but I have to be honest when there's something that doesn't seem to work very well for me.

And I've realized that I have a few pet peeves that I never realized, and I can see why reviewers are very specific in their review policies. I found that I hate it when people send me a book with the expectation that I'm going to read it without even telling me what it's about. Especially when they don't even read my bio.

I wanted to be able to take on a lot of reviews so that I could build up my blog and make it a little more popular. And I wanted to support individual and indie authors by reviewing books like that. But it's going to be hard to take on a lot of reviews when I have so much other stuff to do.

Maybe there's a simple solution.

I just need to read faster.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Living with an Eating Disorder

So I decided that I wanted to make this blog about something a little more than writing. And I wanted to make it more personal.

Today, I want to talk about living with an eating disorder.

There's a lot of talk in the media these days about weight and beauty. Appearance seems to mean everything to everyone. So it's no wonder that so many different eating disorders exist, and that so many men and women suffer through them every single day.

I'm one of the millions of people who suffer from an eating disorder. Technically, I'm EDNOS, which means that I have an eating disorder that doesn't fit into the categories of bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating. The truth is that I have characteristics of all three of the different "major" eating disorders. There are times when I binge and then purge it--either through inducing vomiting or using laxatives. Other times I binge and carry enormous guilt for what I eat, even though I don't go through the process of trying to purge it. And there are even times when I will restrict my diet, when I'll go days with eating as little as possible.

Living with an eating disorder of any kind is like carrying a huge weight on your back all the time. It's a thousand pounds of fear and shame that never quite go away. Sometimes it might fade into the background for a while, but it never disappears. Even when you go into recovery, those thoughts and feelings are still there. And that's when things get dangerous because you have to be strong enough to avoid those words whispering in your mind.

Any kind of eating disorder is a disaster for your body. It tears apart your physiology and plays havoc on your mind. And it can have lasting effects that will carry through the rest of your life. Once you have an eating disorder, you will always have an eating disorder. But there are ways to overcome it, to live with it, to survive the negative impact that it has on the body and the mind.

My eating disorder has been a cycle since I was in seventh grade. There have been times when I could work through it and survive without the comfort and control that it brought me. Those were my periods of recovery. But then there have been times when I couldn't bear to gain an ounce and the only thing I could do was go back to the thoughts of my disorder.

Today, I am in a period of recovery. But that doesn't mean that I will never relapse. It does mean that, right now, I'm living.

I'm surviving.

Friday, March 21, 2014

How do people do this every day?

Okay, so I've been blogging roughly for 100 days now. And it's getting harder and harder to come up with topics for blogs. I wonder if it might be better to blog just every other day rather than every day.

I wonder how people do this every day. How do people who run blogs like this come up with things to write about day in and day out without repeating topics and all of that stuff? It's getting hard to come up with new topics!

Part of me wants to start talking about personal and social issues. But I wonder about the best way to do that. Especially since some of the things that I would like to talk about may be kind of shocking. I think it might be a good idea to do a series on social issues, things that are important to me.

What kind of things would you like to see me blog about? I know this is a writer's blog, but I don't want to make it only about writing. I want to make it about other things too. About me, the writer, about the process of writing, about life.

Sometimes that's just a hard thing to do.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

All You Need is Love

No, today's post isn't about the Beatles. Even though they are one of the absolute coolest bands ever. Today's post is more about what love actually is and how we can grow from having love in our lives.

I wonder sometimes if we really know what love is. All these books and movies make us think that love is this sweeping romantic feeling that comes over us and changes our entire lives. I'm not saying that things like that don't happen. It's possible to have these kinds of dramatic feelings of love, but I would say that love is deeper than all of that stuff. It's more than just a feeling. To me, love is a choice.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you can choose who you love. That's a whole other blog post right there, ladies and gentlemen. What I am saying is that this modern idea of love as an emotion that we fall into and out of on a whim is so far from what love is supposed to be that we've forgotten what love really is. To me, love is about safety and stability and the idea that there is something more important in this world than yourself. Love is about putting someone else before your own needs and desires.

I think my generation has forgotten this meaning of love. That love is something that is deeper than this feeling that comes and goes based on hormones and lust. People throw around the word "love" without really knowing what it means.

Perhaps that's why my favorite love story in young adult literature lately is the story between Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. It isn't that Katniss chose who to love--because I believe that she truly loved Gale and Peeta in their own ways. But the real truth and depth of the love comes out in the fact that she realizes which one of them is so important to her that she will give up herself and her own happiness to secure theirs. And even though she works for the good of all of Panem and for Gale, it is always Peeta who is on her mind. It is Peeta whom she cannot survive without, because it is Peeta whom she can see herself waking up with every day and choosing to maintain that love.

That's what I mean by love being a choice. It's about deciding to stick it out when things get rough, to not give up when you get bored. That doesn't mean you have to stay with the first person you fall in love with, but I think a deep love and a deep commitment is something that requires a conscious choice to work at that love to keep it strong.

When it comes down to it, all you need is love. But you've got to choose to make it work.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Depression, suicide, and asking for help

I said not long ago that I wanted to make this blog a bit more personal. And now I'm going to. I've talked about mental illness and how it is something close to my heart. Today I want to talk about something else that's close to me, something I've lived through: depression and suicide.

Some people think that depression is something to be ashamed of, but I don't agree. Being depressed is something that everyone has felt at one time or another over the course of their lives. But for some people the depression comes and doesn't go away. It takes root and becomes a part of your life in a way that you can't get away from. And sometimes that depression becomes so painful that it's hard to get out of bed and face the day.

I've been there. I know this feeling. I've had bouts of depression that have lasted for months. Months where I could barely drag myself out of bed to eat. I failed a semester of university because of depression like this. I lost a job because of depression. There are times that I still deal with it, that I have to fight to make myself get up and do something more than just sleep away the days hoping to be numb to the pain.

And sometimes that pain becomes so much that you feel as if you can't get out of it. The first real novel that I ever finished was about a girl who tried to commit suicide. Much of the feelings the girl dealt with came from my own personal experiences fighting the impulse to end my life. That's a strong impulse, a strong pull when you're so depressed that you see no light at the end of the tunnel. It isn't the best solution, it isn't the only solution, but it's one that you'll consider to make the pain go away.

The biggest challenge I had was learning to ask for help. Sometimes that's still a problem for me. I want to be able to deal with my depression and my problems on my own. I want to be strong and not have to ask for help. But when it comes to depression of any severity and suicide in any capacity whatsoever, you can't do it alone. And the people around you may not have the capability to deal with it. When these kinds of issues come up, professional help is a must.

Don't be ashamed to admit that you've felt these things. And certainly don't feel ashamed about asking for help. It takes more strength to ask for help than to suffer alone, I learned that the hard way.

If you feel the need to talk to someone, please call 1-800-273-8255 in the US. Or search for a suicide hotline in your home country.

Please don't suffer in silence. I'm with you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Joss Whedon is my Hero

There are very few people in this world who I can honestly say that I look up to in personal and professional capacities. But one person I absolutely can say that about is Joss Whedon.

First of all, think of everything he's responsible for. Buffy. Angel. Firefly. AVENGERS. The man helped to write Toy Story. He's a creative genius who has contributed so much to the popular culture in which I grew up that it isn't really funny. It's something that I'd love to be able to replicate in my own career, even though it might never be possible. Joss Whedon has written some of the most prolific scripts of my childhood and adolescence as well as created some of the greatest characters to have existed in the last twenty years.

I mean come on. The man wrote and directed one of the biggest comic book adaptations EVER.

Joss Whedon is amazing.

But it isn't just because of how he writes or the creativity that he exudes that makes me a lifetime devotee. I've always been impressed with the way that Joss Whedon treats women in his productions. His characters are always well rounded and interesting, but his women are on a whole other level. As an avid feminist and a man who doesn't take any crap about "strong women" in media, Joss Whedon is one of the most prolific supporters of female equality and strength. I particularly loved the way he treated Scarlet Johannsen's character, the Black Widow, in his adaptation of The Avengers.

There were plenty of opportunities for her to be weak and helpless, for her to be reduced to a sex object in a tight catsuit. But instead Joss Whedon made her a kick ass strong lead character who carried her own story. And even though there were hints of her sexuality and a romantic entanglement with Hawkeye, it wasn't the be all and end all of her character.

The same was true with Buffy. She was strong and independent, but she was weak and in love and insecure. She was a real person.

Joss Whedon doesn't believe in strong female characters. He believes in real female characters, and that's what I love about him.

That's why Joss Whedon is my hero.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Are You Seriously Going to Do That Again?

After spending two long months preparing for the blog tour and two weeks watching my posts go live on various sites and spending days wracked with nerves as reviews come in, some would wonder why I'd want to do such a thing ever again.

But I do.

And I am.

With the release of the second novel coming in a few months, it's time to get prepared to set up the blog tour for that. And that means another round of emails, writing guest posts, and sending out books for review. It'll be something else to do and something wonderful to see with all the great blogs who took part in my very first blog tour.

I think it's mostly the blogs who chose to participate that make me want to do the whole thing over again. Every single one of the blogs and their runners were fantastic. They made the process go so smoothly that I don't dread the next tour. I'm actually looking forward to it.

I'm already in the planning stages of the second blog tour and the cover reveal for the second novel. That's probably what I'll spend most of the next week on.

At least one of my New Year's Resolutions is coming to fruition. I'm already a third of the way through one of them!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Blog Tour In Review

Well, my first blog tour is officially over. Several guest posts, a feature, and three reviews. I can't say that's too bad for two weeks.

Plus I had over 50 entries into the giveaway for the prize pack and the eBooks. Announced here, for the first time, are the winners of the giveaway.


Congratulations to the lucky winners, and thank you for participating in the giveaway!

I want to thank the wonderful blogs and reviewers who participated in my very first blog tour! You all made everything run so smoothly and were wonderful to work with!

The lovely blogs who were part of the blog tour were:

An Unconventional Librarian
Simply Megan
Pretty In Fiction
Becky's Barmy Book Blog
Tales of Books and Bands
Bibliophilic Book Blog
Hopeless Bibliophile
I Read to Relax
Bookscape Report
Howling Turtle

Thank you all so much for participating and for making my first foray into blog tours a wonderful experience. I look forward to working with you all again in the future!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My First 100 Posts

It's hard to believe that I've written a hundred posts for the blog. I find it difficult to fathom that I've come up with a hundred different things (sort of) to write about. And I wonder how I'm going to continue to come up with things to write about.

I want to make this blog about more than just my writing. I want to be able to write something for readers, for people who don't write or who may not even know much about who I am. I don't want to be one of those social justice bloggers or anything, and I certainly don't know enough to be one anyway. But I do want to open the blog up to a wider audience.

The thing is, I'm just not sure how to do that. Perhaps I should start an Instagram account or something like that. Something that will help to get my name out there a little more.

As I look back at the first 100 posts of my blog, I'm surprised at what I've actually done. I've finished one novel and nearly completed first revisions on the second. I've done a blog tour and a giveaway. And I'm planning the release of my second novel in June.

It may have been a short 100 posts, but I've gotten a lot done in those days.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Living with Mental Illness

It's something that no one likes to talk about. For most people, it's something that is kept under wraps and hidden away from the people around them. It's just something that no one else needs to know. I'm talking about mental illness.

But I think that's stupid and more harmful than helpful.

Just because we don't talk about mental illness doesn't mean that it will stop existing. And it certainly won't help those people who struggle in silence every day. People like me.

I'm not ashamed to say that I live with a mental illness. It's more common than most people think, and it isn't helpful for people to suffer in silence when it comes to something like this. Having a strong support system and the right medical intervention is necessary to make sure that you are living with mental illness and not suffering from it.

I spend a lot of time writing, and that's the method that helps me to deal with the way that I feel most of the time. Writing gives me an outlet to put my feelings on paper, or to construct a world where I can deal with my fears and anxieties in a safe and controllable environment. That's more therapeutic sometimes than talking to my doctor.

There's no shame in having a mental illness. It isn't weakness or a punishment for something that you've done. It may be a part of you, but that doesn't make it your defining feature. Mental illness is something that can strengthen you or break you, depending on how you face it. And I've found that doing your best to be honest and face it head on is the best way to make sure that you are in control. That's what it's all about, after all, putting yourself in a position where you are in control and not your illness.

People with mental illness aren't crazy. We aren't weak, we aren't seeking attention, and we certainly aren't lazy. There are a thousand different facets to how a mental illness will play out, and none of them are predictable when you haven't walked a mile in our shoes.

We aren't broken. Just bent.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why I Write

I think this question is asked of every person who identifies themselves at a writer at one point or another. I know people have asked me a thousand times why I spend my time writing stories that few people may ever read. "What's the point?" they ask. "Why do you write so much?"

It's something that I don't know if I can explain in a way that would make sense to anyone other than another writer. But I'll give it a try.

Writing for me is like therapy. It's a way to get feelings and thoughts out in a way that is safe and different. And it's something that is so strong inside me that there's no ignoring it. There's this urge to create these worlds and put these thoughts on paper, to let these characters out of my head and into a world of their own. It's like an impulse, an urge that cannot be ignored or left out of my life. If I don't write, I don't feel whole.

There have been times where I've woken up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep for the ideas that were twisting around in my head. I had to get up and boot up my laptop just to get the thoughts out so that I could go back to sleep. This is what it's like dealing with a writer's mind. There's no stopping it, and there's no ignoring it when the urge hits.

I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if I didn't write. And the thing that makes me certain that I was born to be a writer is that I can't imagine my life without writing. There's a hole in my heart when I think of being without writing in my life. It means so much to me.

I suppose that's really why I write. Because it is part of me. It's my heart and soul. There's nothing I can do that will stop the way I feel when I write. It makes me feel alive, whole, and purposeful.

That's why I write.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finding Your Writing Genre

When I started writing, I always thought I would write purely young adult novels. I mean, that's what I love to read the most. Since I love to read it, that would be the thing I could write the easiest. It made the most sense.

But as I started writing novels, I realized that young adult didn't hold all the answers for me. I loved writing it. I could get a lot of things out of it, and it's easy for me to write those kinds of stories. But that doesn't mean that I've got to stick to that one specific genre.

One of the new novels that I'm working on is more of a new adult genre novel. And it doesn't stay purely in the realm of the traditional work, either. Especially not for me. But it's something that I've wanted to write for a while and something that means a lot to me.

There's no such thing as being stuck in a particular genre. While some authors do the best in writing a particular genre--because that's where their passions are or it's what they are the best at--some can go from one genre to another with little to no trouble. As much as I'm not a huge fan of Twilight anymore, I have to admit that Stephenie Meyer is good at going from the young adult to the adult genre. There are other authors that have done the same and been remarkably successful at it.

I hope one day for that to be me. I hope to be able to go from one genre to another and be successful at it because I can write stories that people enjoy. I don't necessarily want to be the next Stephenie Meyer or anything, but I do want to be the first Ley Hayley. I want people to enjoy the novels that I write and work that I do.

That's what happens when you aren't stuck in one genre. You can write a thousand different stories and appeal to a million different people. And isn't that what every author wants to do in the end?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Reading for Reviews

I've always loved to read. It has always been something that I've loved to do. I've enjoyed a dozen different genres and a thousand different books ever since I started reading. It's been something I've enjoyed for as long as I can remember.

But there's something different about reading for reviews. It's a different kind of reading, and sometimes it makes it hard to enjoy some of the novels that I read. Especially when I spend a lot of the time I'm reading taking notes about the good and bad things about the book. Sometimes I wish I could read just because it's fun. I know I could go back to doing that, but I choose to read for reviews. That's something that I love to do, too.

It's something new each time, finding those things that work for a particular novel and those things that don't. It's different from when I was in high school and having to dissect  things that I didn't want to read. Now I get to do it with books for myself, with books that I want to read.

I look forward to each new book that I read. And each new review that I get to do is something new for me as well.

I love to read. And that's not going to change any time soon.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Much Can I Write in a Week?

Now that I'm on my spring vacation, I want to sit down and see how much I can get written on my various projects that I'm writing. I wonder exactly how much I can get done on each one. I try to write a thousand words a day, but this week I'd love to do two a day on each project.

I'm writing several different projects, each one a little different than the others. Some are fantasy, some are science fiction, and others are romances. Well, as close as I can get to a romance. They've got a bit more to them than that.

So I wonder, exactly how much CAN I write in a week?

I'd like to get a couple chapters finished on each work. It would be wonderful if I was able to finish at least one of them, but I doubt that will happen. Mostly because the fastest I've ever finished a novel is a month and a half. But I can get pretty close. I might even be able to finish editing one of the novels for release in September.

But this week will be all about writing and reading, getting my thoughts on paper, and being creative.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring Vacation is Here

Working at a university makes for a wonderful schedule sometimes. Weather closures? Day off! Federal holidays? Day off! Spring break? WEEK OFF!

And that's where I am today, at the beginning of my spring vacation, where I have a week open to me and a plethora of things to do. Now it's just deciding what exactly to do. I've got a ton of books that can be read and a couple projects to work on. It won't be like I'll be busy.

But I plan on getting some rest this vacation, too. I'm going to sleep in when I can and enjoy the days where I don't have to go to campus and sit in a tutoring lab all day. Not that I don't love my job, but sometimes you just need a break. And I think the time has come for me to have one of those lovely breaks.

I may even get some work done in preparing my next blog tour for the new Elemental Royals novel. It's running in June, so I should start looking through blogs for hosts for blog tours and giveaways. That may be something that I work on over vacation.

Most of all, though, I'm going to spend my time relaxing in the way that I know best. By reading and writing. And enjoying my days off by being glad that I don't have to go to work for a few days.

I'll dread going back to work, but I'll enjoy the days off while I can.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why I Hate Doing Chores

I've always hated cleaning up after other people. Let's be honest, babies and kids are one thing because they don't know how to take care of themselves yet. But if you're an adult, you should pick up after your own dang self.

That's just my two cents.

But I have to do chores around my house and around my church to help keep things neat and tidy. Even though I despise doing them because it means I have to clean up someone else's mess. I, personally, am of the school of thought that says, "You make the mess, you pick it up."

And it annoys me so much when grown people make messes and expect someone else to clean up after them, but then turn around and get upset with kids for doing the same thing. Lead by example. If you want your kids and grandkids to behave and clean up after themselves, show them how to do it by doing it yourself.

I have no problem with cleaning up after someone who can't do it for themselves. If I'm getting paid to clean, it usually doesn't bother me so much, unless it's just so stupidly messy that it's obvious the person just left a mess and waited for me to pick it up. That bothers me so much that I can't stand it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I hate doing chores.

Rant over.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Guilty Pleasure: Dance Moms

I have a lot of guilty pleasures when it comes to television. Most of them are trashy reality shows or trashy talk shows that are on during the day. But the one that I can't ever miss, that I have to DVR and watch if I have something to do is Dance Moms on Lifetime.

The show follows a competitive dance team out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania led by the renowned dance teacher, Abby Lee Miller. The team is made up of mostly late elementary school girls who are all brilliant dancers. Every single one of them is a talent that is breathtaking to watch. But their moms are insane.

And that's what makes the show so wonderfully fun to watch.

Like most reality shows, the moms are almost always fighting with one another. They're jealous of the fact that one woman's daughter gets more solos or lead parts in group dances. Or they're upset that one mother is always ratting out the others to Abby and not being a "team player." (Anyone who watches the show knows both of those descriptions are about the exact same Mom!)

But they're also working hard to teach their daughters that the world doesn't revolve around dance, and that being a good person is more important than winning. And that's where the moms and Abby often conflict. For Abby, there is nothing more important than first place. Her two favorite sayings are "second place is the first loser" and "everyone's replaceable," and she makes sure the students and moms who get on her bad side are well aware of these sayings. And how much power she has over their daughters' careers as dancers.

What I love most about this show is that the girls are such beautiful dancers. I love watching them dance at the end of the show. Those are my favorite moments, when the girls step on stage, the music starts, and they let go of everything. Those are the best times.

Of course, watching the moms go crazy is pretty entertaining too.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Working on Multiple Projects at Once

I've mentioned before why doing writing warm ups incredibly important to get you in the groove for writing. And in a  way these blogs help me with my warm ups. Given, I do many of them in advance, but still it gives me a chance to spread my wings a little bit and talk about a lot of different things. Especially when I head over to my review blog and start writing about those things that I'm interested in as far as book adaptations and book reviews. 

But sometimes I can't help but write on two or three projects all at once. It's strange and sometimes it's confusing, but there isn't any other way to keep the bothersome pull to write at bay.

I have to keep myself organized when it comes to writing one more than one project at a time. I have to keep my brain separated into the two or three different worlds so that they don't accidentally cross over. And more than anything, I have to remind myself that these are my worlds, my characters, and my stories. I can decide where they go. 

Right now, I'm working on the final Elemental Royals novel and on another project that I'm going to publish--possibly under another name. I'm not sure about it yet. But the story is there and it means a lot to me. And those are always the stories that are the ones that hang around, that beg to be written. The ones that won't leave me alone.

I'm close to getting to one of my first resolutions for the new year. One of them was to finish the Elemental Royals trilogy. And I'm getting close to that since I'm working on the last novel as it is. I'm nowhere near the actual end of the novel, but at least I'm working on it. Another resolution is getting close to being reached as well. I'm close to finishing one of the two novels I want to finish for the year. 

With the upcoming break from work that I'll have next week, I'll be able to get a lot of writing done. Who knows, I might be able to make a lot of headway on these projects. 

The only thing I'll have to do is keep them separate, keep them clear, and make them as great as possible. 

Edited by - Stephanie King