Love, Honor, and Hope

Hi, guys! Sorry I missed my weekly post last Wednesday, but the fam and I took a road trip on our way to UtopYA Con in Nashville. I have so much exciting news to share with you about the 18 Things trilogy, but more on that later . . . today I want to share about the Love, Honor, and Hope blog blitz. Please read below for the dets and help support our veterans as July 4th approaches next week.

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Love, Honor, & Hope – A Benefit for the United States War Veteran’s PTSD Foundation

Eight authors are joining forces to support one fantastic cause. Beginning June 24, 2014, Love, Honor, & Hope, an anthology of eight full-length novels, will be available for 30 days at the low price of $0.99. That’s right, just 99 pennies. The best part is that 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the United States War Veteran’s PTSD Foundation.

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PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, affects approximately 19% of the military men and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq—and that’s just those who have been diagnosed. The percentage is expected to grow as more of our military members seek treatment. It’s a heartbreaking trend for the men and women who sacrifice so much for our freedoms, especially with benefits being cut and promotions being threatened.

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The United States War Veteran’s PTSD Foundation is a non-profit charity that focuses on providing FREE care to combat military members, both active and veterans. They can’t do it alone, which is why we’ve made the decision to step up and do something. All eight of the authors have their personal reasons for supporting this cause.
Cherime MacFarlane, author of Heart of the Hunter said, “For me, it’s the way a very quiet man, my uncle, receded into the background whenever a family function took place. I did understand he came back from WWII that way. A young man, easy going and quick to laugh became a recluse. My father also served in WWI, as did a second uncle who returned far from the mischievous young man he was before the war claimed his youth. I was a young mother during the Vietnam era. I had friends who did not come back from Vietnam. I had other friends who did come home but were permanently damaged by the things they saw. For me, this is an opportunity to give back something to the men who served their country when the call came. My uncles and father are gone now, but I do hope, in some small way, to pay it forward for them. This is a tiny step, but as the man once said, every journey begins with that first step.”

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It’s easy to sit back and talk about helping our veterans and active military members. To step up and help is something all together different. We are answering the call for help.
Will you answer? All it takes is for you to log on to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and spend 99 cents, and then hopefully share the great news on our labor of love. Not only will you receive eight full-length novels for your enjoyment, you will also tell our men and women who suffer from this terrible and debilitating illness that we’ve got their backs.

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Love, Honor, & Hope is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble from June 24 to July 23. It includes the following full-length novels:

Out of the Box Awakening – Jennifer Theriot

Early One Morning – Aubree Lane

Lost and Found – Jennifer Yarbrough

Scary Modsters – Diane Rinella

Tropical Dreams – Kelly Cozzone

Sisters of the Night – Linda Lee Williams

Heart of the Hunter – Cherime MacFarlane

Piece of Heaven – Sammie J

Get it here at B&N.

Get it here at Amazon.

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TFIOS Feels, ReadOn, Audible, and UtopYA Con

Let me first start off by saying that The Fault In Our Stars movie, based on the bestselling Coming of Age love story about two teens who just happen to have cancer by John Green, was AMAZING!!!

I took my 13yo daughter and her bestie to a special “Night Before Our Stars” event that was held at 600 theatres around the country the night before the official release. We each got a commemorative bracelet and autographed poster and afterward, you could tweet questions to the author, director, producer, and the three main characters of the cast. They did the live simulcast from a movie theatre in Atlanta (more on that later). There were sooo many feels while watching this film. I LOVED the book, but I don’t remember laughing and crying so hard (and simultaneously) when reading the novel. Something about seeing it brought to life on the big screen made it much more emotional for me. It’s not a movie I could watch over and over again because it’s so heartbreaking, but I do think it’s trying to send the same message I try to send with my 18 Things trilogy. Love is stronger than death in the end. It’s hard to tell someone that when they’ve just lost the most important person in their life (and I wouldn’t recommend it), but after time, I do think most come around to that realization. Anyway, I think the movie and the two main actors, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, deserve Oscar nominations. Doubt that will happen, but I’m sure they get the reward in the hearts of young adults (and wannabe YA like me) everywhere!

TFIOS Swag

TFIOS Swag

 

Other things I’ve been up to this week . . . I did my first live web appearance ON CAMERA for Jessica Porter, a book reviewer I’d met at a B&N event back in March. Check out the ReadOn with me (I’m up first), Leila Howland, Lindsay Cummings, and Amy Christine Parker (LOVE HER!).

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Then yesterday, Audible set me up with a local studio to record special features for my audio books of 18 Things and 18 Truths. I walked in and was met by a familiar face . . . I’d actually graduated high school with the owner! So thankful I knew him a little because I was really nervous and he immediately put me at ease. It took about 2 hours to record the Author’s Note, dedication, beginning chapter quotes, acknowledgements, and Literature Circle Questions for both books. He said I was a natural . . . I think I probably sounded like a dork. We’ll let you decide when it’s all finished! If you’re in the Southwest Florida area and need a studio, check out Paul L. Marshall Productions.

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Other than that, I’ve been planning for my trip next week! I’m off to Nashville for the UtopYA Con (the Con for Women Writers of YA & the fans who love them). Super excited to meet up with my publishers sisters, Sharron Riddle Houdek and Krystal Wade, there (as well as blogger buddy Pk Hrezo). If you’re going, stop by Area 51, table 24! My daughter is coming with (who will turn 14 that weekend, sniff sniff) and she’s an aspiring author, so I’m psyched to have her come along and be inspired. On the way, we’re stopping in Atlanta because for some reason, we’ve never been! Lots of fun planned there too, including hunting down Theo James so I can touch his bicep (it’s on my bucket list). He’s filming Insurgent there along with Shailene and Ansel. How cool would it be to actually stumble upon them?! Keep your fingers crossed and if you’re in the Atlanta area, let me know if you spot any “Mineral” signs (code name).

"Now, now Jamie, you could get arrested for this." *lunges at Theo*

“Now, now Jamie, you could get arrested for this.” *lunges at Theo*

What have you been up to this week?!

To Publish or Not To Publish?

That is the question.

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I’m a firm believer that if we don’t have a big dream we’re striving toward, then we’re just kind of drifting through life. That’s why I made a bucket list back in 2008 when my cousin’s son was diagnosed with cancer. That’s why I put publishing a novel at the top of that list. And that’s why I started working toward that goal in the summer of 2009. Five years later, I have two novels published by Curiosity Quills, a small press, with the last installment of my 18 Things trilogy due in January 2015.

I thought waiting for it to happen would be the hardest part. If I could’ve put my dream in a microwave and made it happen in 30 seconds, I would have. But that’s not how most dreams work. Like most writers, I endured lots of discouragement while agents, editors, and even friends and family members told me it wasn’t going to happen. They weren’t mean about it. They all thought they knew best. But it wasn’t their opinion that mattered to me the most. I’m the one who has to live with my decisions when I lay my head on the pillow at night. If I gave up, what kind of example would that be to my kids and the students I teach every day, who I tell every day, DON’T GIVE UP! THAT VICTORY YOU NEED IS JUST RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER! *shakes pom poms* Sure, I had my doubts from time to time,  but I learned to tune out the haters. I knew the path to publishing wasn’t paved with rainbows, unicorns, and puppies. I also knew God would make it happen when the time was right. And he did!

But then I discovered I was wrong (happens occasionally–hahaha). The hardest part wasn’t the 3 years I waited to get a publishing contract, the hardest part has been trying to juggle my teaching job, my writing career, being a wife to three needy children (yes, I counted my hubs as a child, lol–LOVE him though), volunteering at church, bible study and book club, cleaning and cooking (oh, who am I kidding?).

Here’s another thing I firmly believe: EVERYTHING you have is a gift from God, including your talents and abilities. And why would God give us these things if he didn’t want us to use them for his glory?

The thing is though, I NEVER EVER EVER want my own family to think my writing is more important than them, and when I’m in my writing cave (AKA dining room) chained to my laptop every summer, spring, and winter break, typing out what the voices in my head tell me to, I know that’s how they feel sometimes. So I told them after I publish my last book under my contract, I’d give up publishing for a while. My hubs and 10yo cheered (my almost 14yo said I should do what I want-she won’t have much time for me when starting high school in the fall anyway, which of course, made me crawl up like a baby and cry in the corner for an hour while shoving donuts in my mouth). My editor laughed. “Just keep telling yourself you’ll be able to do that.”

Anyone a fan of American Ninja Warrior? Last summer and this summer, there’s been one girl to make it past the qualifying rounds. Both were gymnasts, the one from last year was a trapeze artist. That’s what my struggle reminds me of, a trapeze artist. It’s an analogy I came across in my daily devotional one day:

There’s a moment of truth where she swings out to catch the bar that’s swinging toward her. But in order to reach the bar, she has to let go of the one she is swinging on. If she doesn’t let go, she just swings back to where she started. But if she lets go, there’s a split second in time where she’s hanging in mid-air, thirty feet above the ground, and holding onto absolutely nothing.

That’s what faith looks like. Is giving up my dreams of being a professional author a lack of faith, or an act of obedience as I commit more time to my family? What’s more important? Faith or obedience?

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja Warrior, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Join us the first Wednesday of every month as we release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic *shoots hand in the air*