Friday, January 13, 2017

Staying Creative to Beat the Blues

Some of you know that I take a lot of pretty photos, mostly of Oregon seeing as how I live here. A few of them are on @OregonIsGross on Instagram.

Last year, my creativity took a nose dive. I had no direction. I was struggling to publish even one book, let alone work on my other ones. I distracted myself with video games, and then I fell in love with running. At first, running was also a distraction. I needed something to do because my mind was restless. I wasn't being creative anymore, and frankly, I was more than in a "slump."

As I started to run farther, I explored more and more just in my own neighborhood. I started to find trails. I started to look for new places. I started to find beauty in everything. The first creative spark I had in ages was back, and it was because I wanted to jump back into photography.

Staying active helped keep my health up, but I still wasn't all that motivated to go back to sitting in a chair to read or write. It was when my back finally gave out (probably months of running without properly stretching mixed with stress mixed with a terrible snow storm that got me trapped in a car for three hours) that I realized there has to be a balance in life. You can't be active all the time. There's a time and a place for everything.

Since it is winter, and it somehow keeps snowing in Portland, I have hung up the running hat until it warms up a bit. I've started doing yoga, which I can do from the comfort of inside my warm house, and have picked up reading and writing again. Obviously, I'm also back to blogging with a vengeance. It has been too long since I've seen the creative side of myself, and I'm determined to make 2017 the year that I figure out how to balance work, life, and play.

I'm also really excited to start doing little photo updates for you all. There are some amazing shots I've managed to take throughout the year, and I plan on going on more hikes and adventures once the weather is warmer.

What do you do when it's cold outside? How do you stay warm and beat the January blues?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Excerpt: Girl Nevermore

Purchase your copy on Amazon
Girl Nevermore is my dark contemporary young adult novel based on real life events. When I was much younger, my best friend at the time tried to take her own life while sitting next to me in class. She went to the bathroom with the pass that hung by the door, was gone for a while, and came back a completely different person.

She slowly started fading away as she sat next to me.

The image of her eyes haunted me for almost a decade, and I still remember the look she gave me to this day, but I've grown up a lot since then. While the helplessness I felt in that moment used to cause me anxiety, I've realized I'm much stronger now and much more sympathetic because of it.

Thankfully, my friend is still alive, but some people do not get second chances like she did. I've lost a lot of people - a lot of good people - along the way, and I cannot imagine how it would have been to lose her in that moment.

Girl Nevermore's story grew from that single moment, and the thoughts and feelings that I had after. I never truly grasped how much it affected me until later on in life. But events like that change you.

If you are in the mood for a dark story, Cooper's journey is full of life lessons, things that took me a lot longer than her to realize. Today, I am sharing a small piece of Girl Nevermore with you. Cooper finds the journal that her twin sister, Kayla, had been keeping. Over the course of the book, she reads her sister's writing. Kayla never seemed so alive, and then ... Well, I'll let you read to find out the rest. Enjoy the excerpt from Kayla's found journal below:

We pulled into the park, stealing drinks from the flask he keeps in his glove compartment. We leaned against the side of his car, passing it back and forth, him taking bigger gulps than me.

When the sprinklers came on, I was already a little light-headed, feeling freer than I had in a long time. I kicked off my shoes and ran into the grass barefoot, laughing as water soaked through my jeans, my shirt, everything. The grass squelched between my toes, and I watched him watching me. His dark eyes never left my body.

It felt blissful, perfect.

Trent and I don’t talk much. There’s not much to say. We just are. We’re two different people who are from separate parts of the universe. But when we collide, our worlds smash together with such fire I can barely breathe. I want to take the feeling he gives me and bottle it up, keep it for whenever I need it.

This kind of perfection never lasts a lifetime. I’m not stupid. But that’s why I’m soaking it all in. I take every chance I can get with him to make up for all the insignificant moments that will happen later. Because as long as I live, I will never meet anyone who makes me feel as alive as Trent does now.

I spun around in the middle of the field until the stars collapsed in on themselves, blending together into one blurring ball of light. I wanted to kiss that sky, get sucked up into it and dance forever.

When I stopped, the world kept moving around me. Trent marched right through the sprinklers, dropped the flask in the field, and wrapped his arms around me. He kissed me with such an intensity I thought I would melt right into his skin.

That’s how he makes me feel, like I could become something bigger than myself. I’ve never felt that kind of power before. I grinned the whole way home, wondering how I got so lucky, but also wondering how I was going to keep this a secret.

Because I want Trent to be mine and just mine. I don’t want to share any of these moments with anyone else. They are too beautiful, too enormous. And I’m afraid if I tell someone, they might become a little bit smaller, and that would ruin the magic we have now.