Self-Publishing Diaries: Pantsing

Featured Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash

Outlining takes time. It’s smart, but it’s also been my kryptonite. In the past, I’ve used outlining as a way to feel productive, but to ultimately procrastinate. My approach to this 30-day draft is to wing it. And, that decision might be a nail in this project’s coffin. At the end of this, my novella will be some incoherent mess. But, the goal is to have a finished piece. I’m not going to be too torn up about it not being some ground-breaking piece of literature.

I’m currently at 4276 words. Under my goal by 724 words. The night’s not over yet, but unfortunately, with the workweek right around the corner, that’ll probably be it for me. During the week I’m lucky if I can get in a couple of hundred words here or there.

In all honesty, I wrote the majority of those words today in a frantic frenzy to have something to document. Accountability is amazing for getting me going. That and the fact that I desperately needed something to occupy me today. I couldn’t bear another minute of getting sucked into Netflix’s endless queue or aimlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed where the writers I love talk about the stories they’re creating.

This draft has become one of the few things I look forward (the only other things on that list are Gun Gale Online and lemon sandwich cookies. Yes, I’m a bit pathetic) to when I get up in the morning. Even though I don’t pound out a ton of words for my draft every day, I have made it a habit to work on other pieces as well.

I suppose writing, in general, is what is keeping me sane. My depression has stolen so much from me. It’s stolen my desire to care about anything or anyone. When I’m writing, that lack of caring works to my advantage. I’m not bogged down with doubts. I keep typing because what else is there to do in what currently feels like a very empty existence.

This post is kind of turning into a drag, so I’ll end it with my stats and goals:

4,276 wrds/30,0000-ish wrds (If I can end it in 25,000 I’ll be fine)

12 pages written

22 days left

On average I need to write 1,169 words per day to reach my goal in time.

 

Next week on Self-Publishing Diaries I’ll talk about my novella’s plot and how I plan to craft my self-publishing alter-ego. ‘Cause I’m not ready to publish under my name just yet. Read my first entry here, where I decided enough is enough and I should just write and publish a dang novella. 

Self-Publishing Diaries: The 30-Day Draft

Last weekend, after locking myself in a bathroom for forty minutes and crying until my head hurt I realized, I had nothing else to lose. My job has become a place where I can put myself on auto-pilot, entering data like a robot in need of a software update. On weekends I sulk by reading romance and listening to true crime podcasts. The repetition finally got to me and I became overwhelmed with the reality that my days are numbered and for the past few months, they all looked the same.

I’ve decided I’m going to write an utterly horrible romance novella and publishing in the next two months. Write it in thirty days, edit it in ten, and market it for whatever time is left. Because I desperately need something to distract me from what feels like an empty life.

This project is going to be like a crash course for me. One good thing I’ve gleaned from university was due dates. No matter how much I didn’t want to write my first draft, those dates kept rolling in with professors expecting evidence of progress in their dropboxes. Writing on my own has no accountability. I can go months without penning a word and no one’s going to say anything.

This diary will be an expectant professor. This novella will be the groundwork for what I hope will be a career in writing romance. I have nothing more to lose because crying my eyes out on that cold, hard bathroom floor was proof at this point, I don’t enjoy any aspect of my life. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I’ve done something worth celebrating.

Day One: Outline + 1,000 words. Feels a feat, but I have the whole day to either watch Netflix, lie around on social media, or write something that will take the mind of my sadness. Writing’s the only option I haven’t tried. God, I hope it works.

Updates will be weekly.

This is going to be utter crap. But, hey, in the end, I’ll finally be able to say I finished something.

Is There Ever a Right Time to Be a Selfish Woman?

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

“Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.” – Kyoko Escamilla

I grew up watching the women in my family pour every inch of themselves into others. My grandmother would always be on her feet at family gatherings. From the early morning to late in the night, she’d make her rounds from the kitchen to the living room, to the porch. She’d ensure that everyone was comfortable enough to have a good time.
 
Like many women, her dedication to her family didn’t start or end with family dinners. Her sacrifices spanned a lifetime. I never learned how much of her own dreams she gave up to make everyone else comfortable. Yet I’m blessed to have seen the aftermath of such large sacrifices in my own mother’s life.

When I was a child, every year that passed seemed to allow my mother to reveal another layer of her life.

My mother’s marriage to my father had her emotions brimming over the edge of silence. Her grief would seep out over the kitchen table or afternoon trips to the park. Once I became a teenager I was privy to some of her biggest fears. The root of those fears came from her decision to place my father and her children before her own needs and wants.
 
She spent her twenties surviving and dating a man who knew how to make his life comfortable. The men in my life seemed to be either natural or educated on how to be selfish. While the women’s teachings highlighted the art of sacrifice.
 
Once married, my mother moved two states over to live in the hot wasteland also known as Florida. She knew no one except my father and his family — an unwelcoming group who viewed non-blood relatives like passersby. In the span of nine years, she bore four children.
 
Loneliness was like the grim reaper, always waiting for a decent opportunity. When us kids could finally speak and respond in thoughtful ways she felt brave enough to be candid. She’d express sadness about my father not having an interest in developing his relationship with her or us kids. And she felt lost with the realization she still didn’t know what her calling was in life. It hurt her that my father could still choose his career goals while she was routinely expected to choose us. 
 
The biggest questions that came out of my conversations with her was: Is it possible to decide to be selfish and also be there for people who depend on you to support them? Morally, are you in the wrong?
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Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Her fears and inner dilemmas passed down to me.

The effects of intergenerational trauma are unique for every family. But, as women, effects are often parallel. As pieces of my mother were replaced with pieces of us I’ve felt obligated to figure out how to give back. If not to her directly then to the universe. In some ways, I feel as though I own a debt. And the only way I can pay my debt is through the currency I received it: time. Time is payment I see many women give as they move through their lives as wives and mothers. 
 
My desire to become wholly selfless for my future family isn’t intuitive. A huge chunk of it’s fueled with guilt and conditioning. Why should I live for myself if my mother, and her mother, and her mother’s mother lived so that I could be in comfort? 
 

It’s a neverending cycle that could stop with me making a choice to not take part in always sacrificing my wants.

What would breaking my family’s cycle look like? First, it would be choosing to have money of my own. As I get more serious with my boyfriend it’s vital for me to have my own pocket of savings stashed away. I call it my “in case this goes South” fund. I know, not at all romantic. But if I learned anything from my obsession with the romance genre, life’s not like how things are on the page. And women should always understand no one can look out for their financial future/freedom like they themselves can.
 
Asking myself where I want to live is another way to break away from selflessness. The women in my family shouldn’t have been indefinitely tied to the jobs their partners decided to take. Of course, there’s some give and take in relationships when opportunity knocks. But, over the course of decades, one person’s career journey shouldn’t continue to eclipse the other. One person shouldn’t have a monopoly on dreams.
 
Truthfully, I’m still naive about this part of life. I have yet to start my marriage journey. Still, I can’t shake the discomfort that comes with imagining a life of me always standing on the sidelines while my partner is making moves.
 

According to the quote above, I have six more years of selfishness. 

There shouldn’t be a cap on the time you have to choose yourself. Even when you’re a partner, a parent, or a caregiver. My mother thought once she married and had children those selfish years were long gone. In reality, exploring life and figuring on what she wanted from it never had an end date.

When there are other people involved I understand one can’t always get what they want. And even if my desire to give doesn’t come natural, giving still makes me happy. I enjoy seeing my loved ones feel supported by me as they reach for their dreams. But, I don’t plan on sacrificing my own goals as some sort of martyr. 

I hope the women in my family stop ignoring their dreams under the guise of the greater good.  I hope they realize no matter how much they give no one is going to ask them to stop. We never asked my mom to stop. I never asked her to stop. It’s because as kids and partners, well, we tend to be selfish. And life without my mother — life without a woman — giving me everything I needed felt terrifying. 

No, there’s never a right time to be a selfish woman, but we still have to find time to do it anyway. Preferably, be selfish when it does the least amount of damage to others. I plan to take back my time, my career, and my joy.  Living out my dreams is how I choose to repay my debt. Being selfish doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I accept the comfort the women in my family have given me. And use the comfort to chase my dreams. One day, I intend to pass that comfort done to my own daughter. I’ll tell her to do the same. 

I Stopped Writing Because My Earning Potential as a Creative Scared Me

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(an actual photo of me thinking about finances) Photo by Burst from Pexels

Money can’t buy happiness, but my god is it a stepping stone to it. I grew up believing my underwear wasn’t replaceable until it had a few well-worn holes. The same pair of workout shorts got me through middle school, high school, and university (last week I finally decided enough was enough and got rid of them). When I walked across the stage last year to receive my degree the house I grew up in went into foreclosure. Not having enough money felt like an everlasting curse that got worse for me and my family as time went on. And the cherry on top was the only thing I’m in love with doing is writing — which leads to a career infamously associated with struggle.

Being a writer was never a choice, but deciding to try and earn a living off of words was a whole other story.

I decided to study English Literature over Physical Therapy because I knew deep down all I wanted to do was tell stories. I didn’t want to be sensible when it came to my career because if I settled on such a vital decision I feared I’d develop a habit of settling for other big life choices. Going to university to improve my writing was the closest I’ve come to complete rebellion — don’t judge me too much, I was a shy kid. Choosing to be a writer as a career is a romantic notion I’ve since revisited over and over in my mind. For the past few months, I’ve been paralyzed with doubts if I’ll be able to live a comfortable life as a full-time writer. In all honesty, I often feel regret about not having a wider range of skills and a little sense of dread about the huge potential of failure.

Stability is what I desperately crave as each year passes.

I’m neck-deep in debt with a full-time job that pays me just enough to support myself and my family as we get back on our feet. In response to my fear of failure, I’ve been attempting to formulate contingency plans. At first, it pained me to feel like I needed a Plan B because maybe that meant I wasn’t cut out for this life of full-time writing. Because struggling is par for the course as a creative. If I don’t want to struggle does that mean I don’t deserve to call myself a writer? When I don’t pour every ounce of energy into writing will the result be never reaching my goal?

I need to put food on the table, keep the lights on, and water running, so I work a full-time job I hate. It cuts into my writing time immensely and makes me feel less like a “real creative.” You know, the kind that will risk it all for their craft even if it means couch surfing for years. It’s that blind faith I feel I lack. And, I think my lack of faith in my ability shows when I approach the page. I pour my energy into so many other worries in my life so, at the end of the day when I’m faced with a blank page, I have nothing left to give. I exchange energy for stability. I’m comfortable but never satisfied.

The realist in me compromises with my romance side so I can fall in love with creating again.

Over the years, my relationship with writing has changed tremendously. Writing was once a beautiful escape that turned into a skillset I needed to develop and eventually monetize. The love waned as the pressure to making a living and eventually, I wasn’t as enthralled with the idea of storytelling. To start writing again and release pressure to monetize my craft I’ve given myself three rules:

1. Pretend I am confident that my skills are (or, one day will be) worthy of decent compensation.

The biggest new flash after becoming an adult was the reality that people rarely know what they’re doing. And they rarely believe in their worth in terms of salary. And even if they have confidence in both their knowledge and how they negotiate their paycheck, they don’t know exactly how they’re going to get their end goal.

At work, I’ve learned that the people who speak without a falter in their voices are listened to longer and trusted more easily. Online I’ve learned writers who don’t have much technical skill but make up for it in prolificity get more opportunities. Life’s a game that I mistakenly thought had strict guidelines. Reality is you can speak with conviction on a topic you just learned yesterday. And you can share your writing even if it’s not fully developed to your liking.

Confidence won’t always get me the freelance position I want or that book deal I dream of, but it’ll open the door to the possibility of personal and career growth. At the very least, confidence will give me the push I need to write more content.

2. Write at least one paragraph a day.

I say these exact words to myself as I clock out of work: “Just write one paragraph. No more, no less.” Thinking of writing this way makes approaching my novel and unfinished articles much less intimidating. It’s a recipe for slow progress, but better than what I’ve been doing, which has been sporadic writing sessions sometimes split up by months.

After five sentences I usually get into some type of groove that makes me want to write more. It may not be the same as when I use to write 3,000 words daily as a teen, but it works for the person I am today. And that person wakes up a 4:30 AM to go to work. So, yes, there is cause for an adjustment in my writing habits.

3. Gradually learn to accept that writing may never fully support me financially and that’s okay

My family has suggested I transition to part-time work since I hate my job so much. My boyfriend encourages me to move in with him and relax for a bit while searching for a position I enjoy and has something to do with my degree. But, having a steady income that pays all my bills and allows me to save does wonder for my self-esteem. By keeping my self-esteem up I release some of the pressure to make writing my bread and butter.

I may never sell more than a few copies of my novel once I finally finish the dang thing. I may never get more than minimum wage writing content for companies who don’t care about underpaying for their outsourced content. Writing may never pay for more than a cup of tea and a few muffins. Accepting that will allow me to relinquish some of my fear. I’m going to stop thinking about potential gross income when it comes to finishing my projects. I can’t continue to let my fear about earning potential steal my time from writing. The craft gives me the emotional outlet that paychecks could never give me. So, it’s finally time to separate the two.


 

How do you deal with the battle of making a living and doing what you love? Are they always separate things or have you managed to meld the two?

Fictional Characters Who’ve Helped Me Through Bad Mental Health Days

Making friends is a skill I still have yet to master. To be honest, I haven’t been actively trying since the third grade. When I was in grade school I transferred four times within five years before eventually being home-schooled until I graduated high school. So, that provides some explanation for my lack of refined social skills. Naturally, I gravitated to books and television as not only a source of entertainment but as a way to have company without any effort expected on my part. Stories will always be the place I feel most comfortable. And though it’s not a cure by any means, it makes the dark days a little less lonely. These are the characters have been my friends in throughout various important moments of my life.

 

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Emma Swan – Once Upon a Time

On a surface level, there’s not about my life that allows me to identify with Emma. No matter how much I hope, I’m not a displaced fairy tale character with royal parents and happy endings constantly on the horizon. And her tragic backstory doesn’t intersect with my own family history. But, her feelings and experiences with abandonment hit home.

When I originally spoke up about my mental health problems I was brushed off by my family. I was instantly lonely after realizing that the people who were expected support me at my lowest were nowhere to be found. Throughout the series, time after time, Emma’s hits a dark point with no one around to pick her back up. Instead, she moves forward for herself. She’s a survivor. She’s sloppy about it and that’s what I love about her. She reminds me surviving doesn’t have to look perfect.

 

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Rae – My Mad Fat Diary

This series came at the perfect time of my life and I’m forever grateful for its existence. Rae struggles with an eating disorder and the series explores how she learns to manage her intrusive thoughts while balancing her friendships. I was in my second year of university when I watched the first episode. University wasn’t the space I’d imagine after years of society telling me it would be home to some of my best memories. And I was trying to re-invent myself like Rae but failed miserably.

Rae has an amazing way with people. Watching her with her friends made me long for someone like her in my own life. She was caring and non-judgmental (once she got over her jealousy). When I wasn’t wishing she was my friend, I was tearing up at how her thoughts about herself mirrored my own self-hatred. There’s one particular scene from the series I always go back to because it has given me one of the best tools for dealing with really bad self-talk days.

 

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Bertie – Tuca & Bertie

I recently finished season one of Tuca and Bertie, and in an instant, Bertie became a comforting favorite. Her life mirrors what I’ve been experiencing since graduating from university. I briefly moved in with my boyfriend and got a job doing something that pays the bills but isn’t the most stimulating. And, now, I’m trying to hang onto the things that make me happy, like she does when it comes to baking.

Seeing her fight for a promotion at work after originally being insecure about talking to her boss was encouraging. I’m up for a promotion and battle thoughts of insecurity about the whole situation. Bertie is a snapshot of my present. And it’s nice to be reminded I’m not the only one that is anxiously stumbling through my days, attempting to feel comfortable outside of my safe zones.

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I can’t be the only one who finds solace in fictional characters. Share some of yours below! I’d love to get some show/book recommendations. Your favs could also be potential candidates to add to my carefully curated “friend group” – cause I’m always on the hunt for more characters to add. Yes, you can sit with us.

Frozen in Time: Rewriting Characters Created in My Teen Years

When I was a teenager I wanted desperately to go to high school. My mother began homeschooling me at the age of eleven and continued to do so until I went to college. My daydreams consisted of things like lockers, football games, and parties on beaches with concealed alcohol and forbidden kisses. The next best thing to actually going to high school was creating a character who got to go there in place of me. I wanted to write about someone who was able to do all the weird and crazy things I dreamed up while I sat in the safety of my room behind an old desktop. And so, Joycie Conwell was born.

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Joycie was my alter ego. She was everything I was with the small change that she was going to experience the highs and lows of high school and have some cute boy pine over her in ways I could only dream. I would create scene after scene of what I thought being a teenager in public school looked like – which, of course, meant I had invented some off-brand versions of CW teen dramas. Realism didn’t matter because it was fun to simply imagine life in a place where I wasn’t some socially anxious, black teen who felt trapped in the suburbs.

I shelved my novel when I moved away to college. Joycie’s life suddenly felt two-dimensional, riddled with silly hopes of a clueless teen writer. The document sat untouched for two years as I gained “life experience.” Once I walked across the stage with a newly minted degree I started looking back to the character who had gotten me through those lonelier years. She was there waiting, of course, unchanged.

Inevitably, rereading the draft after years made me cringe. My chapters were laced with bad jokes and questionable interactions between Joycie and her love interest, Lincoln. Despite the disappointing writing the story still holds a special place in my heart. I decided to not let go of it just yet.

Rewriting Joycie has been a welcomed challenge. The biggest struggle I have encountered is still keeping part of that naive voice alive when writing her. I don’t pretend to know everything. But, I’ve grown enough over the years understand how silly it is to believe you completely understand yourself as a teenager. Part of the magic of writing back then was that my voice was simple. Now, life feels more complex and I want badly to communicate that within the story.

I just pray I don’t complicate things too much because Joycie isn’t some twenty-three-year-old customer service worker who has become a little jaded about life and love. She’s a kid experiencing first love. Somehow I have to get back to that mindset. Or, at least find a happy medium.

Ever tried to go back a re-write a character you created in a different stage of your life? Got any tips for me? Also, if you’re interested in watching me struggle to rewrite Joycie’s story check it out on Wattpad. It’ll be a rough ride, but fun. I plan on documenting the writing journey on this blog as much a possible.

First Work Week in a Call Center

Something about my new job doesn’t feel right. I know in the long-term this isn’t the right position for me, but for now, it’s all I could get. My week first week of training was a difficult adjustment period for my inner time clock and the information thrown my way made me want to scream, but instead, I slept. I slept and I slept and I’ve kind of been going on auto-pilot ever since.

I’m stuck in between two decisions. I know there are more than two ways to look at things, but during this past week, I could only look at my situation through a binary lens.

Option one: work my hardest to be the best at this job, which would involve me dedicating so much extra time to an already packed 40 hr work week.

Option two: do the bare minimum to keep my sanity, but potentially not be that great thus opening up the possibility of me being terminated.

There’s a medium in there somewhere. There is enough time in the day for me to sit down and work on my personal projects before having to sit in a chilled building for nine hours listening to someone lecture about company policies and customer handling. There is enough time for me to remind myself every day that this doesn’t have to be forever. This job can be simply a paycheck. I don’t have to love it to do it. And I don’t necessarily have to be excellent at it, but good enough to simply not get fired.

A part of me always wants to put forth my best effort. It’s the perfectionist side of me. But, I have to remember that perfection is what ran me in the ground during university. I refuse to let a job I don’t wholeheartedly enjoy run me to the ground.

This upcoming week I’m attempting to do so more adjustments to my schedule. I’m prioritizing my mental health which means I refuse to lose any sleep and do something that involves writing or reading each day. Fiction is and will always my life raft.

This post is all over the place but it feels nice to brain dump and not worry about blog structure so much. I think I might do this more often.

An Unconventional Approach to NaNoWriMo

I’ve attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo twice. My very first attempt was made in 2012 with a project called Kings, which was a retelling of King Thrushbread. I did zero planning and managed to only write 1k words before getting tired of the idea. I know, I possess an amazing amount of stamina.

The second attempt was in 2015 with an untitled YA manuscript. I did a little better that time. I vaguely remember it being about some girl getting into this elite school and a young documentary duo following her around to get the inside scoop as to what was happening behind closed doors. It was supposed to be a romance/thriller, but it was just a mess due to the fact that I – once again – did absolutely no planning. I made it to around 33k before abandoning the manuscript.

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I can’t find either files of these manuscripts on my computer. They’re forever lost, but their memory is immortalized on the NaNoWriMo website

Since 2015 I haven’t considered trying to do any sort of writing challenge because 1) I struggle to outline 2) under pressure I tend to freeze up. In the untitled project, I remember writing whatever came to mind just so I could have something the page. It could be gibberish for all I cared. I would narrow in on the target word count and pound out nonsense. Suddenly, writing wasn’t fun anymore and I rationalized that the big experience was fine because once the month was over I’d at least reap the benefits by having a finished novel. Unfortunately, by day 25 in 2015 I had burned out so much and had such negative feelings associated with writing that I took a long break. Not only on the draft but writing in general.

I approached NaNoWriMo as a numbers game. Focusing on the numbers made me really hate sitting down to write. But, I still feel like there’s something valuable I can gain from attempting NaNoWriMo this year. Thing is, I have to change my mindset about the event.

Writing by Chapter and Not Word Count

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Photo source: pixabay

This year my goal isn’t to write 50k words. I’m focusing on finishing the project, not making a certain word count.

Thinking about the numbers terrify me. But, thinking in terms of scenes within chapters is much less intimidating. Since focusing on the scenes is my priority it’s unavoidable to pants this situation. I suppose some people could but with my track record, my projects will turn quickly into lost causes.

Projects & Outlining

I want to work on two projects this year. Yes, it’s a huge and possibly unwise undertaking for someone who hasn’t finished a novel yet but hear me out. I’ve already written and outlined a decent chunk of my YA project. By the time November 1st rolls around I will have at least four more chapters written which gets the manuscript up to nine chapters. I’ll be working towards finishing the other seventeen during the event. Here’s the projects I plan to work on:

YA Novel | Currently at 15,359 words (this will be the only time I mention word count until the end of November). I want to tell the story within 25 chapters so that’s how I’m going to plot it.

Romance Novella | Currently at 0 words. I feel like I can tell this story in 15 chapters.

I’m using Evernote to plan both stories. My collection of folders include an overview, character profiles, and chapter-by-chapter outline

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This is a random novel I’ve been plotting. Not going to pursue it for a bit though.

To be honest, this experiment may or may not be the greatest approach to writing I’ve ever had. But, I’m willing to put in the effort and even … give up social media for it. I know it’ll be worth it. Besides, using my free time to write is wise no matter how wild my plan is to finish these projects. Wish me luck. I’ll check in weekly to report how much of a mess I got myself into.

If you’re giving NaNoWriMo a try this year two questions: Are you pantsing or planning? And are you sticking to the original challenge of the event or are you modifying it for your needs?

The Realities of Poverty and Dreaming

I want to be a romance writer. It’s a dream I’ve had since I was twelve, reading Judy Blume and trying to sneak some of the more mature YA off the shelf and into my library checkout stack without my mom noticing. Because whenever she did manage to notice she questioned me with disapproval in her voice.

It’s always felt like a silly dream. I went through college telling people I wanted to write for big, important magazines about big, important topics. I applied for copywriter positions at marketing firms and got a replies asking for samples. None of which I had, of course, because I’m pretty sure chapters from my young adult novel wouldn’t do. So, I wouldn’t reply because anytime I tried to go open a doc and type up some piece that would resemble copy I’d freeze up, convinced that my brain didn’t/couldn’t produce that kind of content. But, I think having that sort of privilege has now passed. My no’s are soon going to have to turn into yes’s and eventually, they might even turn into please’s.

Things kind of crumbled at home after I graduated college. Well, they had been crumbling for a while, but I could ignore that because I was a three-hour drive away at college, separate from the collapse. As my parents began the divorce process nothing was stable anymore. I’m a firm believer in not telling someone else’s story without letting them at least say their piece so I can only tell you what happened from my end. From my end, nothing makes sense anymore. Our home is in foreclosure and we’re all struggling to somehow build something out of the quickly shattering pieces. It’s like trying to build a sandcastle in high tide: useless. And I feel so abandoned most of the time. I still have most of my family, but we’re fighting an uphill battle and I feel so helpless.

Last week we got some news that revealed we might have less time at our house than we originally thought we would. There had been a small hope before that we would keep the place, but that looks like an impossibility now. I can’t put into words what it feels like to hear that homelessness is a possibility. I can only say that my bones felt hollowed and my tongue felt heavy after learning the news. The draft that I was outlining didn’t matter and my thoughts of holding out for a job that I would enjoy felt like the stupidest decision I’d ever made.

I don’t have the luxury of waiting for a job that will allow me to do something that I love. I don’t have the luxury to finish my novel and dedicate my time to making it the best that it can be. I’m not writing this to say, oh, woe is me. Because I know that there have been plenty of authors that were close to or under the poverty line. What’s in my bank account will never interfere with my love for writing. But, it will interfere with how much I can do it and what I say with it.

Currently, I’m in a desperate hunt for a job in a larger city. I’m fortunate enough to have a boyfriend that doesn’t mind if I stay with him while I job hunt for the next month – I’ll forever be thankful for him. I’m applying to any and every full-time job. And a lot of them are positions where I know my mental health will suffer. It scares me, but it won’t be forever.

I know homelessness is hard to recover from and I don’t want my family to get stuck trying to recover. I’m currently the only one who is qualified to get a full-time position so it’s on me. And that’s the scariest thing. I’m afraid of what will happen to my depression. I’m afraid I’ll be so exhausted I’ll stop writing because there just isn’t enough time or energy. I’m afraid dreaming will only be dreaming.

This isn’t how I wanted this blog to go. I wanted this is a place where I ranted and raved about romance and pop culture. But, I feel this is something I can’t ignore on here. This is my life right now and I want to document where it’s going. I’ll keep updating about my job hunting for the next few weeks. And, of course, write about some romance because it’s my perfect escape, even if it can’t last longer than an hour or so.

Falling Again for a Talia Hibbert Novel: Untouchable

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What happens when a bad boy becomes a man? 

I was introduced to Talia Hibbert earlier this year when she was interviewed on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. And I can honestly say at that moment, I was a fan. Not with just of her writing – which is incredible – but her story. Our lives seemed to intersect in strange ways that made me feel like maybe if she could do this writing thing, I had a shot at it too. I look up to her in so many ways, but I digress – as much as I could gush over her, I’ll focus on the book review.

When I read A Girl Like You – the first book in the Ravenswood Series – I saw myself in Ruth in ways I’ve never myself in a book character… ever. Once Untouchable was announced and I learned the heroine, Ruth’s sister, Hannah suffered from depression, anticipation set in. I have suffered from depression since I was in my early teens. Reading about a character of color that not only was open with her depression but was able to find a partner who didn’t look for ways to fix her made me feel more hopeful about own mental health journey.

The Premise:

Untouchable‘s hero, Nate, a reformed bad boy, and widower moves back to the small town of Ravenswood with his two young children. He cares for his sick mother and is a creative consultant/photographer. He keeps all the fun parts of teen/early twenties rebellion: tattoos and piercings. But is mature enough to understand his emotions and not become too broody that he makes the reader want to scream in dissatisfaction. When Hannah bumps into Nate – who also so happens to have been her childhood crush – she learns he’s searching for a live-in nanny and she decides to offer her services… No matter the obvious attraction the two still have for one another after all those years.

The Romance:

Hannah and Nate are partners in every sense of the word. There’s plenty of steamy and swoon-worthy moments throughout the novel – a garden scene that will simply blow your mind – but my absolute favorite scenes between the two happen when Hannah is being as open as possible about her mental illness. And Nate listens with an open heart and even offers insight to his own experiences with feeling depressed in the past.

One of my favorite exchanges between the two comes towards the end of the novel (spoilers, perhaps?) where Hannah is pulling away from Nate in fear of their relationship is centered around sex. Nate is quick to let Hannah he’s willing to do anything because “Sex isn’t as important as being close to you” (Chapter 20). And afterward he checks in to make sure she’s in an okay mental space and it’s just… *sigh* So incredibly genuine and kind and a perfect representation of how someone can respectfully support their partner when mental illness is in the picture. Hibbert knows how to balance heart and lust. Like all of her novels I’ve read before, Untouchable had amazing representation and a couple that reminds me why I love romance.

10/10 would recommend if you love smart, complex heroines, supportive men, mental health representation, and steamy romance.

Aesthetics: 

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Some of my favorite lines:

There’s a difference between refusing to feel shame and setting yourself up for a fall. (Chapter 5)

Jesus. She hadn’t been this into a shadow since she’d watch Peter Pan as a kid. (Chapter 8)

Because people, she knew, could care about you – could love you, even – and still fuck you over if they thought is was necessary. (Chapter 22)

“Well, you pin all your self-worth on external validation, you have to be the best at everything to consider yourself even slightly accomplished, and you apparently don’t think someone can like you enough to put up with a week of weird behavior and an awkward moment in a garden.” (Chapter 23)