Suddenly I'm a homeschooling mom. I don't go to the gym anymore. Or church. I don't have upcoming book events. I'm not a soccer coach anymore. We aren't going to swim meets.
Me and mine have become everything.
I suppose it's not as radical as it could be. Some people have lost their jobs. Money isn't as free as it was.
Because of that, in my own effort to contribute to the economic downfall, I will be putting one of my books for free every week. Here's a video explaining more. Please share with anyone who you think might benefit from it!:
Club Girls (episode 2, season 1) is the free book of the week.
This book will be free for a week. I can't discount my books on all retailers, and some retailers take longer than others to discount, so please be flexible and try a different retailer if you're preferred one isn't working. Also try back tomorrow, because it could just be taking longer than I want.
People used to ask me all the time what my platform was. Why I wrote. What was my purpose.
Did I have to have a purpose? I wracked my brain. Mostly I just had stories in my head. I thought maybe my platform was on empowering moms. Finding happiness within yourself.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an amazing little writers conference in Kansas City. The classes were amazing and the camaraderie lifted my soul.
But I also had a crazy epiphany. There were some defining moments that helped me solidify my mission and role as a writer. It began years ago when a friend helped me see an overarching theme in everything I write: social issues. But another writer at the conference helped me see that this is more than a writing preference: it's a calling. And it's one I should embrace because of the lives I can touch and change. Even when I try to write light and happy, the darker themes peek through.
Because the reality is, I see the dark things in life. I've experienced the dark things in life. And when I'm writing, I want to shed light on these hard topics. I write into the darkness so I can give it light and hope and redemption. I want to show people who have walked in the darkness that they are not alone and there is light! And I want to show those who have never experienced darkness that they can still have empathy and compassion and understanding for people walking through the darkness. Maybe they can even be that light.
And so I have my goals and my purpose in front of me. I have found fellow authors like Kierstin Marquet and Mary Gray who feel the same desire I do. To this end we have banded together with one mission: to write light into the darkness. To write hard topics with happy endings. I will continued to write about abuse and peer pressure and eating disorders and bullying and prejudice and promiscuity. I will continue to shed light on issues we sometimes are afraid to even whisper about. Because this is reality for many people. But I will also give hope and light and faith to the stories I write.
I won't be offended if you don't want to read my books because of the heavy topics. But I hope you will anyway. And I hope you will share them. Because just because something makes us uncomfortable doesn't mean we should pretend it doesn't exist.
I ran a half-marathon. That's thirteen miles, people. And the craziest thing? I'm not a runner.
No, seriously, before you close your computer or put your phone away laughing, hear me out. I hate running. My husband ran track in college and has been trying to get me to run for thirteen years. But I hate it. Passionately. I ran a mile for the first time about two years ago and the most I'd ever run before in my life was two miles and it took me nearly a year to work up to that.
Everyone knows this about me. So a lot of people have been asking what I did, how I trained, etc, and I'm happy to share the story. Because really, it just proves that anyone can run a marathon. Or at least a half.
Early in November I saw registration available for a 13 mile race in the woods behind my house. I love hiking and being outside and the woods, so somehow I managed to ignore the running aspect and got really excited to be outside for thirteen miles. When I told my husband I wanted to sign up, he laughed at me and told me I should probably run a 5k first. Touche.
But I signed up anyway. And then I thought, what the heck, I have four weeks to train. Let's see how far I can run.
So I ran three miles. Something about running through the woods, over the hills and down the valleys, makes the miles seem less cumbersome than on the road. It's interesting and beautiful and satisfying. And I felt great. So the next week, I pushed myself to four. Four miles! I couldn't even believe it. I was so proud of myself, running four miles! But I knew I had to do more. The next week I planned a six-mile loop, knowing if I could run six miles, I could double that.
that's how I felt, too. Six miles was hard, but doable. I knew that with race day adrenaline, I could do that and then do it again.
Then the next week I got sick and only ran three miles. Three miles all week! Suddenly I was super nervous. How was I supposed to go from three miles to thirteen?? To top it off, Saturdaydawned super cold (for me), below freezing. I put on a scarf, a hat, two pairs of gloves, a tank top, two long-sleeved shirts, a sweater, exercise pants and another pair of pants over the top. Ready or not, here it came.
And when the whistle blew, I ran. Last. Everyone else ran out and I was still programming my phone. But then I went. Three miles in, I stopped and stripped off all my extra layers except one long-sleeved shirt and a hat and texted my husband to meet me at the aid station and take my backpack. Seven miles in, I realized I'd gone farther than I'd ever gone before. Twelve miles in, I realized I only had one mile left (sort of. Turns out the course was 13.78 miles).
I didn't run the whole way. I walked and panted on some of the uphill sections. But I did it, the whole thing, in less than three hours. It was awful, it was glorious, it was painful, it was rewarding.
I don't love running. But I'm absolutely thrilled to know I can make myself do something I never believed possible. I am capable. It's given me such a positive outlook and made me feel so empowered that I'm ready for 2018. I'm going to do great things. And now I won't bat an eye if my husband wants me to do a 10K with him.
Tell me about you! Runner? No? Ever done a marathon (or half)? Ever wanted to?
I've already had a few people email me or post in reviews that they were a little disturbed by a topic that gets brought up in the newest Cassandra Jones book. Since it's not a central part of the plot, there's nothing in the blurb or description to warn people, so it's natural that some people will react in surprise or alarm.
So I'm going to warn you.
Junior high marks the beginning of what will become a four-year battle with an eating disorder for Cassie. It starts slowly. It springs on her in the most normal way, with just wanting to be pretty and thin and popular like all the other girls.
It creeps into her life until it's got its grip on her and she has to fight hard to shake it.
This trial in her life is never going to be the main plot, but it will be a part of her story for the next few years. And there's a reason for it. If you've read any of my books, you know I don't shy away from hard topics. I never start out to write a book with the intention that it's going to teach or be a moral lesson; I don't look for polemic topics. But these things are so very real and normal that almost everything I write about, I have intimate experience with. Not saying all of these events have happened to me, but many of them have, and those that didn't happened to close friends of mine.
Eating disorders are very real, and they are so prevalent in a young teen's life that probably half of them battle that mindset before most conquer it. A few, like Cassie, succumb.
If that makes you want to avoid the next few years of her life, I won't be offended. You can pick the series back up at Springdale Bulldogs Year 3, after she's put those demons to rest. :)
I'm not one of those authors who writes beautiful poetic feel-good books. I hope you feel all the ranges of emotions when you read my books: sadness, despair, heartbreak, joy, love, laughter, peace.
You may have seen me mention on my Facebook page the death of an old friend.
Not old as in age, but old as in, we became friends in high school.
This person was my friend Joey. If you've read Priceless, you kind of already know him. While the real Joey liked music more than football, his sense of humor, his friendliness, his dark hair and lanky body were all very much the same.
Though high school was a long time ago, Joey and I stayed friends. Three days before his death, we were texting about the publication process. I'm kind of shocked. I can't believe he's really gone. It just doesn't seem real to me that someone can be there one day and gone the next.
But he is gone, and it makes me more anxious than ever to finish up the Perilous series with the final book, the one with the big reveal that should shock all my readers and add the final sense of closure for Joey, both fictional and in real life.
And though Joey and I talked a lot, I don't know that I ever told him how he touched my life. How years later I could still remember our chats and late-night philosophical discussions. I don't think he knew how much he mattered to people. I don't think any of us do.
There are people around you who will never tell you when your words change their lives or your actions touch their hearts. There are people who you think don't even know your name, but they would mourn your loss. You might think that kid you were friends with twenty years ago doesn't care anymore because you haven't talked in two decades, but they still carry that torch of friendship. Two decades or two days, it really doesn't matter. The love and friendships we feel and create might get filed and put away, but they're not deleted. I frequently go through the list of friends I've known over the years with fondness and affection, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
The following is a conversation between Jaci and Joey, taken from Priceless. This book and the one after it will always be in memory of him.
“I think,” Jaci said softly, “that you and I have created an amazing friendship. And it would break my heart if I lost that.”
A small smile pushed at Joey's lips, and she recognized the disappointment and acceptance in his eyes. “I would hate to lose your friendship also.”
“You are so much better than you give yourself credit for, Joey.”
He looked down and shook his head at the table. “Your first impression of me was probably the most accurate.”
She laughed at that. Her first impression was so far removed from the person she’d discovered Joey to be. “I hope you can forgive me.” She reached over and squeezed his hand.
“I can.” He squeezed back. “I care about you. That won’t ever change.”
“I feel the same way,” she said.
I know I am not the only one to deal with the sudden death of a friend or loved one. The loss of life is such a tragedy; my heart goes out to all those who have to keep going in the face of such pain.
Thank you for listening and allowing me to mourn in my way. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat.
My kids helped me come up with this list, amidst laughter and some tears (happy I hope). So without further ado, life lessons from the sandy shore.
1) You don't need a surfboard to surf
2) Boogie boards give you carpet burn on your tummy
3) There are bugs in the sand that bite you
4) Electronics aren't so great in the sun
5) Sunburn hurts
6) The ocean floor can disappear from under your feet
7) The beach does amazing things to my hair
8) There are crabs
9) The sand can scorch your feet
10) The water burns your eyes
Awesome, huh? Fun fun. We'll always remember this trip. Me and my four little bacon bits.
But let's talk about #4! Electronics aren't great for the sun.
Normally, if you asked me paperback or ebook, I'd say ebook. Hundreds of books in the palm of my hand, cheaper, my kindle can read to me . . .
All of which was pointless at the beach. I couldn't see my phone and I didn't want to get my kindle wet or sandy. And nothing was more comfortable than holding a paperback. But I only brought one! So I realized, if I'm going to the beach, I need books! Lots of books!
And so do you, whether it's the beach, the lake, or the pool!
So I created a beach pack Goddess of Fate giveaway!
Of course, there are things I want in return. (Big smiley face.) I'm calling this the LAY ME DOWN review push and my prizes will be given out in tiers, depending on how many reviews for LAY ME DOWN I get. I want 100. I'll run this giveaway for the rest of June, and if I get no new reviews, I'll give away a $10 gift card.
But if my book ends up with 50 reviews, I'll give away the gift card to one person and paperback copies of the GODDESS OF FATE series to another person!
It doesn't end there! If we get up to 75 reviews, I'll give away both of the previous give aways AND a third giveaway, the GODDESS OF FATE series and the $10 gift card!
And if we make it to all 100 reviews, I'll give away a beach pack (in addition to the other giveaways) including: the two paperback books, a beach mat, sunscreen, lip balm, aloe, lotion, and a tote bag.*
If you haven't read LAY ME DOWN, you've got three weeks to do it and get your review in! If you've already reviewed it, you get five entries for that and additional entries if you review other books of mine. You also get entries automatically for being one of my readers and/or following me on Facebook!
If you have any questions, please ask in the comments! Then I can address the answer for everyone.
So hop on over to the giveaway and get your entries in! Can't wait to see who wins!