If We Were Having Hot Cocoa

Mine has a shot of coconut and one of almond: liquid Almond Joy. How about yours?hot cocoa.jpg

If we were having hot cocoa, I’d tell you I’m so ready for 2015 to be over. The holidays stress me out, and most years I long for them to be behind me. I want to just curl up in my bed and wake up on January 1. But that’s not how life works, at least for this girl. How are you feeling about Christmas and New Years?

If we were having hot cocoa, I’d tell you it’s getting cold in Minnesota. I only noticed it on Friday, actually. It’s been so ridiculously nice (thanks, El Nino!) that I sometimes feel like, “We’re not in Minnesota anymore, Toto,” but on Friday, there was such a crisp, deep freeze in the air. It made me feel depressed. I wonder if, when I’m older, I’ll be the kind of person who winters in a warmer place. So many of my friends love Minnesota’s four seasons, love the snow, even love the cold … but I can’t seem to share in that joy. Especially when I consider that– technically— winter hasn’t even started yet. What’s the weather like where you’re from?

If we were having hot cocoa, I’d tell you that I’m surprised by [highlight for Truest spoiler] how many people think West cheated on Elliot by kissing Silas. I guess I never thought of it that way. And I even consider [cheating] one of the things I also dislike in books! I’ve been wowed by how many reviewers bring it up. Sigh.

If we were having hot cocoa, I’d tell you that I have some exciting opportunities on the horizon. Unfortunately, that’s all I can say about that. But if you’re the praying sort of person, you could certainly pray about this for me!

If we were having hot cocoa, I’d tell you my thoughts about compartmentalization are changing. Growing up (and especially growing up in an evangelical culture), I was always told that compartmentalization was wrong. I needed to be fully who I was at all times. It had to do with integrity, I think. Last Tuesday, the Fearless Fifteeners did a #15eradvice session on Twitter (if you have a book coming out, go look it up– lots of great stuff there!), and one thing that Victoria Aveyard, author of Red Queen, posted really resonated with me:

Compartmentalization as a healthy coping mechanism. I wanna try. What do you think about this– can you compartmentalize in a healthy way?

If we were having hot cocoa, I’d tell you how much hope I have for 2016. I have a good set of realistic goals in place, along with a realistic plan for achieving them; I have new opportunities arising; I have finishing Yes Novel on the horizon and figuring out what I want to tackle next. What are you excited about in 2016, friend?

If We Were Having Coffee

It’s already getting dark early, and after Daylight Savings last night, it’ll be dark even earlier. Let’s cozy up in my new home with a cup of coffee (or hot cocoa, if you’re like me!) and have a heart-to-heart.

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If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that two-months-out from book launch is nothing like I’d imaginedAnd I had thought I had pretty realistic expectations. Not so much. It’s so quiet on the book front. Reviews are coming in slow-to-never. In my nightmares, I pictured launch day as this Big Bang of sorts, one that didn’t launch worlds but one that shut things down. And, while that’s not entirely accurate, it feels true. Which is unfair to say. It doesn’t take into consideration all the beautiful souls who have read and loved my novel, who have offered reviews and feedback exactly when I needed them most. It doesn’t take into consideration getting to reconnect with so many old friends who reached out because they picked up my book. It doesn’t take into consideration the wonder of my dad and brother, not readers by a long-shot, dedicating themselves to reading my story … and finding they enjoy it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I just re-read The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta and that it destroyed me. Again. Everything this woman writes is GOLD, I tell you. The Piper’s Son is, to me, the epitome of a character-driven contemporary novel. Marchetta herself has said that writing that novel was like putting the characters’ lives back together, chapter by chapter. I adore it. And her. So much. Have you read anything by her?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m just hours away from going to a David Sedaris event. He’s an incredible humor memoirist, and I know that tonight will be one of those amazing times when my stomach hurts from too much laughing. Can’t wait!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how tired I am. Fall is a crazy time in the world of college recruitment. We go to college fairs (including but not limited to the biggest college fair in the country, which takes place right in Minneapolis). We travel to high schools. We do presentations for schools. We meet with tons of visitors on campus. We host events nearly every week. Now add onto that writing a novel. It’s no wonder that I’ve gotten sick this fall. Sometimes I just want to crawl into bed and not leave it for a month.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how many wonderful people in my life are celebrating right now. It’s my best friend Ashley’s birthday today! It was my sweet little Lily’s birthday last week (Lily is the daughter of Des, my delightful friend whom I lived with for seven years [before she got married])! Soon it is Ashley’s daughter Claire’s birthday, and after that, it will be my sister’s, then Tracy’s, then my mom’s, and then Tracy’s daughter Elsie’s. I’m so blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life to love and enjoy.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about Yes Novel. In so many ways, I’m thrilled about the progress on my second novel, which I have been working on for nearly one year now. In other ways, I understand how far it still has to go, and it scares me. I am pouring my time, energy, heart, desires, and prayers into this story. Right now I’m working on a second draft that feels more like a first draft, and when I remind myself of that, it feels like I’m ahead of the game. When I remember that I’d like it to be completed by this upcoming summer, I feel this crush of pressure and fear. I love the characters. Rowen is a young woman who cares so deeply about other young women, and I love that about her. My friend Mary is, in some ways, so very similar to Rowen, and Mary is … I can’t describe her. She’s a game-changer. Her heart is the size of the sun and she burns just as bright. If Rowen can even remotely resemble Mary, I’d be so pleased. Asa suffers from OCD. It’s been interesting to write from a male perspective (and even more interesting to find I enjoy it!) and to walk willingly back into that battleground of obsessive thoughts. I’ve made Asa’s obsessional fears rather different from my own, which helps, but there is this common thread of hyper-responsibility that runs through it all, and I know that the things I’ll be describing in the book will seem wildly irrational to readers, but I’m hoping that I can hold them through the leaps so they can empathize with this brain disorder. I feel a weight of responsibility to get it right. I’m not sure that I have yet or that I ever will.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you: How are you? What have you been up to? How do you feel about winter? Are you reading anything mind-blowing right now? What creative projects are you working on? Have you started thinking about 2016 already the way I have?

I hope you’ll respond.