Counting My Blessings

Today’s Question: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?
What a great question for November, the time of year when we reflect on our favorite things and count our blessings. I’m a people person, so I’d say my favorite aspect of being a writer are all the people, places, and experiences that have come my way as a result of publishing my YA trilogy, 18 Things. Growing up, I had some pretty dark days, and I never dreamed the life I have now would be possible. I’m so grateful for the gift God has placed in my hands, and I love hearing from readers who’ve said my books changed their life. The way written words can transform a soul never ceases to amaze me. I didn’t strive to make my books religious, but I did pray God would use my novels as a vessel through which love flowed outward, touching people the way His love touched me. To see the fruits of that prayer is a humbling experience.
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My first event as a published author. I shared a vendor’s table with fellow members of my local writers group & brought a box of my books to sell. I thought I’d sell one, but I sold . . . wait for it . . . 18!!

And I love meeting other authors, too. Most writers are great at spreading the love, and I strive to do the same. The last three years I’ve spearheaded a literacy festival at the middle school where I taught English, and now that I’ve switched to high school, I’m planning the same event but on a much larger scale. Already, 12 YA authors have agreed to come FOR FREE! Of course, they’ll get lots of book sales out of the event, but it’s just so awesome to see their level of excitement matching the students enthusiasm for this festival. Spreading the love helps me to count my blessings because I’m constantly reminded how supported I am by those around me, and vice versa.
This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.
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The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains! Thanks for spreading the love, guys!!
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18 THINGS is FREE!

18 Things Sale (1)

Today & tomorrow!

If you could download, tweet, or Facebook, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Sample post:

For a captivating #YA filled with loss, adventure & love, 18 THINGS by @jamiemayres is FREE 8/21 & 8/22 https://smile.amazon.com/18-Things-My-So-Called-Afterlife-ebook/dp/B00B53VJ38/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471797740&sr=8-1&keywords=18+things#nav-subnav

Thanks, all! Hope you have an AWESOME week!

Which Way to Go?

Have you ever been at a crossroads in your life and didn’t know which way to go? Both paths have their positives and negatives, and your mind and heart are battling, so they aren’t helping either. When that happens, I pray for a sign of God’s will for me. I pray he’ll guide me to the one path that’s truly for my highest good and the good of those around me. I pray I’ll have the courage to follow his lead.

Two weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house. I’d never hung out at this friend’s house before, but this friend is also a teacher and works at my dream school doing my dream job. Her assistant principal called while I was there, asking if she knew of anyone who’d be interested in teaching tenth grade English for their international baccalaureate (IB) program (she teaches twelfth grade IB).  My friend asked me if I was interested. I was, but I kind of laughed at the offer. After all, I’d only been teaching middle school Language Arts for three years. She convinced me to at least take an interview, so we scheduled one for the next morning.

I was contemplating the new job offer all day, and then my mom showed up at my doorstop around five o’clock. My beautiful cousin, Angie, age forty-one, was dead. She’d traveled 14 hours by car a couple weeks earlier, and unbeknownst to her, a blood clot formed in her leg, eventually traveling to her heart and killing her.

Angie and me

Angie and me. She was a teacher, too. There were 400 people at her funeral. She made quite the impact.           R.I.P.

 

This was the third family member I’d lost in seven weeks. It’s hard to suffer the loss of someone you love, but I also know this is part of God’s plan, too. We’ll all die one day. None of us escapes it. Knowing we’re all part of some bigger destiny takes away some of the pain for me. As I stayed up late that night, too anxious and heartbroken to sleep, I realized the way to move beyond fear is to go through it and trust whatever is meant to be will be. The only reason I didn’t jump at the new job opportunity right away is because of my old anxieties, but God has steadfast belief in the abilities he’s given us, even when we doubt ourselves.

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My new classroom at Cape Coral High School, my alma mater!

I know this blog post isn’t focused on writing, but I think a lot of us, especially in the publishing world, tend to think of success in terms of how talented we are compared to ________ (insert favorite author’s name here) or how much money we make with our books (newsflash: I made $323 last month off 18 Things, so yeah, I’m not quitting my day job any time soon!).

But I think if we’re willing to seek the path the universe lays in front of us and keep moving forward through all the good days and not-so-good days, then that’s the true measure of success.

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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In Rememberance

“You saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place.”~Deuteronomy 1:31

One week ago my grandpa passed away peacefully in his  home. He was 80; he was also the last living grandparent I had . . . although I’m thankful he’s not suffering anymore like he had been for the past two years, it’s hard to lose this great generation.

From his obituary: “If you saw Doug out and about, he always had a smile and a story to tell. After retiring, he enjoyed spending time on the water with family and friends. Whether it be at Hardy Dam or Lake Michigan, you never knew where the adventure would take you, but it was always filled with laughter, love, and a memory that would be shared for years to come.”

I hope the same can be said of me when I’m gone. Every time I lose someone here on earth, it reminds me to pray for clarity of my purpose in this lifetime. There are days I feel my life doesn’t have enough meaning or depth, but I try to put my talents and skills to the best use and to show love and grace to others.

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Grandpa in the beginning . . . just starting out on his own.

As writers, we know that every story must have a beginning and an end. A final chapter. God knows our alpha and omega, but he lets us be the authors of our own stories. Each life is a book, not to be read, but a tale to be written. What a dangerous freedom! It’d be much safer for him to dictate our every feeling, word, action . . . but then it wouldn’t be love. Love is chosen. So he hands each child a pen and whispers write carefully. That’s good advice for life and for our fictional stories as well. Write carefully.

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Grandpa in the end. R.I.P.

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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Carpe Diem!

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. . . One of my favorite quotes that I wrote at the front of my current journal. I’ve been given a lot of author opportunities as of late. There was my presentation about writing at the Lee County Reading Conference.

LCRC 2016

The third annual authors conference that I organized for my middle school, where I teach eighth grade English Language Arts. Here’s me with authors Kyle Prue, Jeff Strand, Liz Coley, Krystal Wade, Wendy Mills, Teshelle Combs, Erica Cameron, and Lisa Colozza Cocca.

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Riverdale High School Literacy Festival. One of my favorite parts is doing the panel in the auditorium with the other authors. This year I got to promote 18 Thoughts!

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A book signing at the largest independent bookstore in my county (check out the amazing book bridge–I want one in my house!). This is me with my editor and friend, Krystal Wade, who also happens to be an amazing author!

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And I have another author event at a middle school this Friday, followed by a visit to a book club who read 18 Things later this month!

I don’t mention this to brag, but to remind all of us how each day it’s up to us to look for new opportunities, and not to just further our careers. Every person I meet is an opportunity to uncover a new story, see a different perspective, discover a new friend.

Each place I go is an opportunity to try a new route, enjoy the scenery along the way, explore the surroundings, create adventure.

Each book, meal, conversation-Each Encounter–is an opportunity.

We’ve each been given our own unique talents and gifts to share with the world. Nothing makes me happier than shining my light and helping others to do the same. You never know what tomorrow may bring, so CARPE DIEM!!

~How have you seized the day lately?

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

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18 THINGS FREE + Caleb’s Crusade

Free 18 Things

They say nothing in life is free, but that is a lie! Because for today & tomorrow,  for the first time ever, 18 Things (book #1 in my trilogy) is TOTALLY FREE on the Kindle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why would my wonderful publisher, Curiosity Quills, do such a thing? Read their message below:

“To round off our ‪#‎18Thoughts18Days‬ promo – in which you could win a $50 amazon Gift Card – and to celebrate the conclusion of the Amazon bestselling YA coming-of-age paranormal-romance My So Called Afterlife series, with the release of book three, 18 Thoughts, on January 27, 2015, we’re offering the first book in the series,
18 Things for free between 01.25.15 – 01.27.15!”

 

That’s right! The final installment of my trilogy releases TOMORROW! I’m so so sooo excited, you guys!!! My “Share Your Thoughts” bloghop is still going on through Wednesday, and it’s not too late to sign up! If you participate, you’ll be eligible to win one of fabulous 18 prizes, and so far, I’ve only had 9 participants, so what are you waiting for? Here’s the linky link:

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…


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Today is also the last day you can tweet or FB the “thought of the day” for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card from my publisher. Click on this link for the Rafflecopter on their site (again, there’s only 130 something entries, so there’s a good chance at winning!).

You can retweet this status, then enter: https://twitter.com/jamiemayres/status/556937501232078848

Share on Facebook, then enter: https://www.facebook.com/CuriosityQuills/photos/a.385312724855334.97616.176690689050873/782716198448316/?type=1&pnref=story

Okay, now that I’ve gotten all the announcements out of the way, I want to share about a family & their charity that’s near & dear to my heart. Monqiue Whan and I were classmates in the same graduating class at Cape High, and I reconnected with her in August 2008 when I signed up to run a marathon to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team In Training. Afterward, her and hubby, Rob, started their own charity. And on release day, when you download or buy a paperback of 18 Thoughts, all of my royalties will be donated to their organization. But first, let me introduce ya’ll to this wonderful family.

Tell us a little bit about your family and your journey.
Rob and I had a family we always dreamed of, a boy and a girl. Sadly, our dream for a perfect little family quickly turned into a nightmare when our 3-year-old son, Caleb, was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2007. Bella, our daughter, was just 2 months old. Caleb underwent 7 months of treatment before he lost his battle 11 days after his 4th Birthday in 2008. Since then, Rob and I still keep up the fight. We fought so hard for those 7 months, we just couldn’t give up. Bella helped us a lot in the healing process. She was just 9 months old when her big brother passed away. We feel she helped us to do the simple things in life, like getting out of bed and making new memories. It has been almost 7 years since Caleb’s passing. One thing I can say is it never gets easier; you just get better at living the life of a grieving parent.

I can’t even . . . can’t even imagine. How did you find the strength to move on and start up Caleb’s Crusade?
Faith helped a lot, knowing that God is in control of our lives more than ever. We fought for 7 months next to our son. We saw him go through unimaginable treatment; he endured so much for such a young child. When Caleb passed, we still had a small fight in us. We still wanted to fight for him and other children who were fighting cancer. Maybe it was the anger we felt inside that our little boy died? When you witness children dying from a dreadful disease it is heartbreaking. No child should have to endure that. We saw our son take his first breath, and sadly, we saw our son take his last. We cannot give up on our children. It could be your child who is next, and we want you to know we will be there right with you fighting.

I remember when my cousin’s young son relapsed. You and Rob were the first ones to call to say Caleb’s Crusade would be there to help with anything they needed, and I was so grateful. How does Caleb’s Crusade differ from other cancer charities?
Caleb’s Crusade is pretty hands on, we are available to our families 24/7. We not only provide the financial support, but we also are there for emotional support too.We take our jobs of childhood cancer leaders very seriously. We know how devastating it is when you hear the words your child has cancer. Rob travels to DC and is a voice for our children; he fights for more federal funding for childhood cancer research and legislation that helps bring drugs to market for these sick and dying kids. On the national level, childhood cancer only receives pennies on the dollar. We just try to do as much as we possibly can. Yes, it is tiring and emotional, but we feel as though this is what Caleb would want us to do.

What a great way to honor him & leave a lasting legacy in his name. I know he’s smiling down from heaven at you and Rob for sure.

To learn more about Caleb’s Crusade, or to even donate, visit their website. And please, if you already plan on purchasing 18 Thoughts (& why wouldn’t you!), consider purchasing it on release day (which is when? TOMORROW . . . you guys are so good!) to benefit this wonderful organization. Also, did you know about shopping on Amazon Smile? Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice (*coughs Caleb’s Crusade). AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service. So support your charitable organization by starting your shopping at smile.amazon.com.

 

Thanks for all your marketing help & enthusiasm! I’ll probably post again tomorrow because I’ll be up all night anyway, obsessively checking my Amazon rankings . . . I really can’t help myself sometimes. Self-control really isn’t my thing *opens mouth, inserts chocolate* Be sure to download 18 Things on your Kindle, too . . . what have you got to lose at FREE? It’s the BEST PRICE EVER!!!

Will You Share Your Thoughts With Me???

To celebrate the release of 18 Thoughts, the third installment in my My So-Called Afterlife trilogy, I’m hosting a bloghop! On top of that, you have the chance to win one of 18 wonderful prizes donated by some terrific people just for playing!

1) Catch Me When I Fall paperback by Vicki Merkiel

2) Core ebook by Teshelle Combs

3) Core ebook by Teshelle Combs

4) The System ebook by Teshelle Combs

5) The System ebook by Teshelle Combs

6) $10 Amazon Gift Card from Eliza Tilton

7) Ever ebook by Jessa Russo

8) Evade ebook by Jessa Russo

9) Divide ebook by Jessa Russo

10) The Charge ebook by Sharon Bayliss

11) Destruction: The December People, Book One ebook by Sharon Bayliss

12) Watch Me Burn: The December People, Book Two ebook by Sharon Bayliss

13) The Undead ebook by Elsie Elmore

14) The Undead ebook by Elsie Elmore

15) Butterman Time Travel ebook by Pk Hrezo

16) Bella’s Point ebook by Elizabeth Seckman

17) Kiya ebook by Katie Hamstead

18) 18 Things paperback by Jamie Ayres

Those are some great prizes, right?! So let’s get this party started! If you don’t know what 18 Thoughts is about, here’s a little sneak preview:

Now, here are the dets for the bloghop! Each person participating will post a thought (belief) that has defined their life, their way of thinking. Post up to 18 if you’re feeling adventurous, and be sure to post the badge below and link to this post as well! You can post any time between Jan. 21st and Jan. 28th. Then visit other participants to comment and connect with fellow bloggers/writers. I’ll pick 2-3 winners each day that week and keep this post updated as to who the winners were and what prizes are left (winners chosen through random.org)

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Sound good? Or confused? Let me share some thoughts with you as examples. My publisher created an AWESOME countdown campaign last Friday, which marked 18 days until 18 Thoughts releases. Each day, they’ve been sharing a ‘thought’ on their social media sites with the hashtag #18days18thoughts & asking people to share. Each day that people share, they can enter the Rafflecopter on Curiosity Quills website for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!  Take a look at their fine examples (and nooo, you don’t have to include a fancy graphic in your post).

Day 17 Thought

Day 16 Thought

Day 15 Thought

Day 14 Thought

And of course, I’d love it if you got in on the action & shared some of the daily thoughts wherever you hang out online. Only 13 days away until release, woot woot!

The Sign-Up Link is below for the bloghop! I sincerely appreciate your support in helping me end this series with a bang!

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P.S. 18 Things is just 99cents for the Kindle, and 18 Truths (book 2) is reduced to $2.99 for the Kindle for the FIRST TIME EVER! They’ll stay that way through the countdown 🙂

 

This Is War!!

Today I interrupt my regular scheduled programming to feature a wonderful fellow blogger, Mara Valderran. Be sure to check out her new book and I’ll be back next week with some pictures of our new house. Right now, I’ve got some more boxes to unpack & final edits to finish for the last installment of the 18 Things trilogy . . . I’ll be visiting blogs again soon, I promise!!! ❤

 

ABOUT HEIRS OF WAR:

The NA fantasy series Heirs of War has taken Wattpad by storm with over one million reads, and the second installment has arrived. Catch up on Heirs of War (#1) for just 99 cents now!

Heirs of War #1:

When seventeen year-old Zelene finds herself thrust into a world of magic and prophecy, she discovers fighting destiny might not be the toughest battle she has to face. Now she must join with three other girls, complete strangers linked only by blood relation, to fight a war they know nothing of and rescue the twin sister she’s never met.

Add it to Goodreads

 

 

 

 

The adventure continues with Heirs of War, Crown of Flames

 

Heirs of War, Crown of Flames

Heirs of War #2

Mara Valderran

Cover Art by Gretchen Byers

 

Weeks have passed since Ariana and Alec escaped from Kellen’s dungeon, but danger isn’t far behind them. The guilt of his past weighs heavily on Alec’s shoulders, and his secrets only push Ariana further away. As they travel through unknown lands and encounter multiple threats, their biggest challenge might be trusting one another.

The world appears to be going on regardless of the risks Ariana faces. The Duillaine insist that they are doing everything they can to find Ariana, but their actions betray that claim. Despite the danger and the war closing in around them, all of Anscombe seems to be more interested in the upcoming Imbolc festival and Terrena’s betrothal than rescuing Ariana.

Well…not everyone.

Tired of waiting for the Duillaine to help her twin, Zelene starts plotting on her own and finds a surprising ally in Rhaya, even as the Cynewards prepare to make a move of their own. But Zelene’s plans go awry when she finds herself with a new ability, a mysterious new friend, and more enemies within the walls of Anscombe than she thought.

Add it to Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she’s more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

 

Find Mara Online:

Sign up for Mara’s newsletter so you don’t miss news on new releases and fun contests!

 

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New Beginnings

Last night when I tried to think of something to blog about today, I had nothing. I felt defeated, and my heart was heavy. These past six weeks haven’t been easy. If you follow this blog, you might recall how I recently got in touch with my best friend from childhood (you can read about that divine intervention here). Basically, I got fan mail from a girl named Kerri this summer, which lead me to think about my old bestie named Kerri, and I immediately felt this overwhelming need to find her. After searching, I came across her mom’s obituary from the day before. She died at the age of 57 from MS. This lady was a second mom to me from grades 4-12, and I just pictured her up there tapping God’s shoulder, going “I’m glad I’m home, but can you please send someone to help out my daughter?”

A few weeks later, when she was going to be a homeless single mom with three kids, we took them in. We told her they could stay, all expenses paid, until November 20th, which is when the foreclosure on our home will go through. You might be surprised by this, but between being a teacher and my book sales for 18 Things and 18 Truths, I still don’t have a lot of extra cash (*snort*), but I can say without a doubt this was the right thing to do. That doesn’t mean sharing a 1,700 sq ft home with eight people, five of them kids between the ages of 14 and 9, hasn’t been challenging! Then this past Saturday, our fridge broke and we lost all the food in it. At this point, there’s no reason to replace it, so it was just another challenge.

The hunt to find the right home to rent stepped up. But when you live in a town that’s continually ranked in the top 10 cities for the most foreclosures, it’s a tough market to find a rental in because EVERYONE HAS LOST THEIR HOME 😦

At every turn, something fell through. When I found out this morning the next two houses we were interested in were already off the  market, I wasn’t surprised. I sighed, went to my dentist appointment to get my two crowns in (does that make me a princess now?), came home, and decided to take Kerri out to lunch and not worry about it (for once).  When we got back to the house, not only did she have a call saying she got hired at an AMAZING restaurant, there was an alert for the PERFECT house from a realtor.

Here’s the thing. If I hadn’t anticipated my dental work not being an all day affair, I would’ve only taken off a half day, but based on past experience, I took a full. Because I took that full, I was able to respond the moment it was listed, go see it, and get an application. As I left, another lady was coming in who also wanted to rent the property. Keep in mind this was THE SAME HOUR THE PROPERTY WAS LISTED! I was racing the other applicant to the office, lol. But Daddy didn’t nickname me Jeff Gordon for nothing 😉

Plus, if the fridge didn’t break on Saturday, I wouldn’t have been looking so diligently because I figured we still had 6 weeks, and I would’ve missed this A*W*E*S*O*M*E deal!!

So yeah, WE GOT THE HOUSE! Thank you, Jesus! I couldn’t have asked for a better house for us, at the exact amount I prayed for, on the water (BONUS! Anyone have a paddle boat for sale?!), and down the canal, a view of my daughter’s high school. Being close to her school was the #1 thing I wanted since she’s involved with a million things and it’s only her Freshmen year (apparently, that’s what you need to do to get into an ivy league college . . . she’s done months hours of research).

When I got home from the realtor, I hugged Kerri and told her the move in date was October 15th because the office has to wait seven days. She looked at me and said, “October 15th would’ve been Mom’s 58th birthday.” Looks like Mom is up there bugging God about both of her children 🙂

Speaking of numbers, it’s also October 8th. Dan and I got married on August 8, 1998 because we like the significance the number 8 holds in the Bible . . . it’s the number of new beginnings.

Life is full of trade-offs. We lost a good woman, but gained an angel. We’re losing a house, but God is blessing us with a better one. It’s a whole new chapter in our lives, and I’m lucky to go forward with such an awesome Father (and angel mama) looking out for us.

Whatever you’re going through, hold onto faith that our God is sufficient to supply all our needs. When we hold onto faith, we gain wealth beyond belief.

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The #1 Reason I Published a YA Novel

Today I’m posting about my publishing journey as a contribution for the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. I give Alex J. Cavanaugh and his Ninja Army permission to use my entry.

Title: The #1 Reason I Published a YA Novel

Topic: Publishing

One-line bio: Jamie Ayres writes young adult inspirational love stories with a paranormal twist by night and teaches young adults as a middle school Language Arts teacher by day.

Books Published: 18 Things, 18 Truths, and 18 Thoughts (coming January 2015)

Blog: http://www.JamieAyres.com

Entry:

Writing is work. It’s work I’ve greatly enjoyed, but it’s still work. If writing is work, publishing is hard work. After publishing my first novel, 18 Things, I’ve come to know how much time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, attention, heart, and soul goes into publishing a book. I’ve had my own limits tested.

These days it feels like ninety percent of my writing career is researching, marketing, promoting, socializing, facebooking, blogging, tweeting, speaking, drinking coffee and consuming massive amounts of chocolate, etc . . . and about ten percent of actual writing. So when I received my first royalty statement, I’ll admit I felt like throwing up.

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t become an author to make tons of money. I wasn’t wearing any rose-colored lenses, expecting my debut novel to land on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

But the royalties the first months were so small, I had to ask myself, why even continue doing this? If it was money I wanted, I could easily get a part-time job waiting tables and probably make more in a week than I would in a month of book selling.

I was at a crossroads in my life. Both paths, the Published Author and the Hobby Writer, had their good and bad points. But just like so many times before, I let faith carry me forward.

I took the profit motive off the table to get myself back in the saddle and write the next two installments of my trilogy, 18 Truths and 18 Thoughts. Because of the talents God has given me, I looked at my book as a gift to the world to empower young people. And it’s the belief I had all along . . . I just forgot about it for a little while.

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*What challenges have you faced on your road to publication?

Don’t forget to check out other authors in the Insecure Writers Support Group. Alex’s A*W*E*S*O*M*E co-hosts today are Kristin Smith, Elsie, Suzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue! We meet online the first Wednesday of every month 🙂