Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A New Season

A lot has gone on since the last post...seems to be the story of my life anymore.  It's one changing season after another.  This summer it's been rapid fire changes.

To begin, the relationship I was in has ended.  It was my decision and though he is hurt and upset, I know it was the right choice.  It shouldn't be so difficult all the time and that is how I felt.  I know challenges come up, but it really was a constant roller coaster and I was no longer willing to hang on for dear life.

Actually, it seems every area of my life is having a shake up right now.  Time with my son has changed, this relationship has ended, I may have to move, and some possibilities for employment have presented themselves that would take me in a new direction from the job I've been in for the last 7 years.

Because of some of the changes, I am finding there is more free time on my hands at the moment.  I've been reading more, enjoying just seeing words on a page.  One book that is really helping is Broken Open.  For anyone going through a season of change, I recommend this to you!  We all have struggles and things to work through, sometimes it seems like there is no way out or around, but you will get through it.  I see that, I've seen it my whole life, but it seems I keep forgetting that lesson since life continually brings it up to me.  I'm hoping I finally passed that test and can get onto something more pleasant!!

Another thing that is helping is shifting my focus from all the problems to all the possibilities.  Instead of waking every morning with a dread on what bills to pay or what obstacle to have to get through, now I decided every morning that no matter what, I will find the joy and happiness in everything.  My focus is embracing happiness and joy.  If it feels good, why can't I stay on the couch and watch chick flicks all day instead of sweeping the floors?  Will the world really end if I don't get everything done first before I enjoy something?  I realize the answer is no - the world goes on and really doesn't give a shit what I do or don't do with my time.

Today I have things to do - grocery shop, laundry, clean the house after being gone the long weekend - but even in those tasks I will find joy and happiness....maybe a sale, the smell of fresh laundry, the shine of the polished floors.  And the warm bubble bath that waits at the end of it all.

I wanted to rush back into writing, but my therapist (yes, I admit I have had to seek help to work through things), she says to not push myself and do nothing but enjoy the rest of the summer/fall.  If I feel like in that moment my joy is writing than I can, but I'm not forcing it.  I know it will come because writing truly is my joy.

A few things that have brought me joy in the last week - taking part in a massive water fight, listening to an awesome cover band, listening to a terrible cover band, eating great food, hugs from my nieces and nephew, watching a new show (Robot Chicken) and laughing until I cried, listening to new music (the Beatles) that I wouldn't normally listen to (country girl here).  Also, watching the stars on a clear night, listening to the rain on the roof, and snuggling up on the couch...nothing spectacular or anything, just simple and happy and smiling.

I like this new season and I hope it stays for a very long time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reaching out for help

So life has given me another turn.  This time I have no choice but to admit that I need help.  I have created a GoFundMe campaign, but I am honestly embarrassed to have to ask for help.

Anyone who really knows me knows I am a survivor, a fighter, an overcomer.  Since 2002,  I have had to literally start over after two divorces, the first of which was a very bad situation that I left with my son and the second of which was a heartbreaking experience when my groom of 14 months decided he'd married the wrong woman.

I made it through those, I've fought back and had a good life.  I have my own home, a Jeep, I was paying bills and trying to make a go of being a writer.  That, in truth, put me in the hole, but I kept at my passion.  I was able to pay bills on time and chip away (slowly) at debt I'd gained.

As some of you know, in December I met a great man.  Keith is the partner I have always prayed for.  He recognizes the strong, independent woman in me and respects her.  He treats me and my son with love and kindness and I would do anything for him.  I look forward to some day marrying him and continuing our life together.

We began living together earlier this year and things were going good.  In April he unexpectedly got let go from his temp factory job.  We didn't panic (at first) as he applied for work closer to home.  When no calls came back, or it took weeks to hear anything, money quickly seems to run through our fingers.  Taking on his debt in the short term didn't seem bad, but as the weeks went by it was clear there was no where near enough to cover the necessities.  I stopped paying on my own old debt to try and help, I took out several pay day loans (I know they are terrible, but in a crisis we didn't see any option), I even had to ask my mother to help.  I HATE asking for help, I feel inadequate and it does nothing to elevate the stress I have been under.

Then things began to look up.  He interviewed at a factory and did well on their testing, they said he was a top prospect and they would call him after the holiday (Memorial day), but they never called.  While we waited he found work helping deliver pizzas and things seemed as though they were on the verge of improving.

Then two weeks ago, our world (his world more than anything) was turned upside down.  A small wound on his finger because infected.  He was admitted to the hospital and was on IV antibiotics for a week.  We were told had we not gone to the ER when we did, he could have died (seriously, I couldn't even write how this entire thing unfolded!)!  He ended up having to have emergency surgery on his hand and the doctor had no choice but to sever the tendon.  We were told at the time there would be 'some' loss of function, but the reality is he has lost use of 3 fingers on his right hand.  His left had was already weaker due to injuries sustained in a terrible car accident two years ago. Before all this, he'd been a welder for nearly 25 years, he loved working on cars, shooting his gun ... all those things may not be possible for him any longer.  PT has not helped and we have faced the truth that he may never get use back and will have to go on disability.

In the meantime, bills are piling up.  My mortgage is over a month behind, as is his car payment, home phone/internet are being shut off this week (which could be a blessing as I will not be able to surf the web when trying to write).

I work full-time, but it was just barely enough for my son and myself.  I haven't sold any books in over two months.  I can't pay my editor to even get books out.  I just accepted a part-time overnight/weekend job at a shelter near me, but I doubt it will be enough to help us until his disability starts.

My own health has suffered through this as well.  I have been depressed, have not been sleeping well, and have an ulcer from stressing.  My boyfriend, and my counselor, are both concerned that this stress/lack of sleep will have terrible consequences on my health.  I feel like all I do is pray .... or cry ... or pray and cry at the same time.

I know God has bigger plans than where we are right now.  But things have never been so hard.  I know I have so much to be grateful for and I try and focus on this things, but when the phone is ringing constantly with bill collectors and the mortgage lender, I have anxiety every time my phone buzzes.

I don't mean to dump my sob story on you, I know we all have troubles.  And as I said, asking for help hurts my heart, but I have no choice right now.  If you or anyone you know could help, that would be amazing.  I am grateful in advance for anything, and regardless if I reach my goal or not I will continue to be grateful and focus on the good in this.  I am thankful my boyfriend survived what could have been a life-threatening injury, I am thankful for the few hours here and there I can sleep, I am thankful for my son and being able to distract myself from everything whenever he is around and making me laugh.

Again, I'm sorry to be a downer.  This is my truth right now.  We need help.  Some of these things are why I haven't written ... who really can write happiness in the face of this kind of stress?  But I'm trying to get back to a good place in my heart, mind, and life.

I pray you do not think poorly of me for removing the curtain and showing my real life.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Back to Start

I feel like my writing journey is right back at the beginning....and maybe that isn't such a bad thing.

I will never forget the adventure and gusto involved with launching FINDING HOME.  I was so engrossed in getting this story out of my soul and onto the pages that it was effortless.  I craved the hours I could sit and dive into editing and molding the characters as the book evolved.  That two year journey seemed like days.  In the end it culminated with the hitting of the ENTER key and I really did 'enter' a new phase in my life.

I think the reason TAKING CHANCES also seemed so easy was that I began working on that as FINDING HOME was being shopped to traditional publishers, so that abundance of creative juices was still flowing. It helped that the book was vaguely based on fact as well!

Then came PLAYING WITH FIRE.  This one took a little more pushing. It was the first book in which the character wasn't so much of me.  It also had domestic violence and was darker than the others.  I mean they had their share of drama, but this one was more 'real'.

Now don't get me wrong, I love all my books - as if they were my children...and in a way they are.  I have nurtured and loved them from start to finish and beyond.  I talk about the characters as if they are my friends.  I envision what a backyard BBQ would really be like with Myra and Dane, or how cool it would be to go dolphin watching with Avery and Damien.  I know, I know...crazy.

But now, even with two separate books in the works (reminders HERE and HERE), I feel like I am starting all over again.  Some of it has to do with the timing of the last release and taking so long to get these new ones out, some of it has to do with the place I've been mentally for the last several months in my 'regular' life.  The Amy who released those first few books was focused on living her passion and bringing it to life...this Amy - well I'm just trying to make it through the day as if it's a game of dodge ball.  And I've been losing.

Well I felt like I was losing anyways.  But now I think life was just sorting things out that maybe I was ignoring or avoiding.  Some good things have happened and some bad things.  Some things have shaken my thoughts on what I want for myself and my family and some things have strengthened those thoughts.  I even considered that maybe writing wasn't for me ... but I know that isn't true.  Writing is one of my true joys...I'm getting back to following those joys.

So here I am, at the START line again.  Maybe this race has a little shorter track since I know far more now than I did four years ago when it comes to self-publishing.  Maybe my cheering section has changed as the true believers and fans have shown themselves as they support my vision.  And maybe, just maybe, once I get one foot in front of the other I will gain that much needed momentum to keep going and turn this into a long-distance marathon of creativity and passion.

I've missed my characters.  I've missed the way it feels to have my fingers fly over the keys as if they were giddy children dancing and playing their hearts out - and they are.  I miss that rush when a phrase or scene comes into my mind and I can't help but to write it out in amazement that something like that came out of lil ol' me.

I have stumbled and tumbled and scrapped my knees during the last few years, I have almost given in to the naysayers, but found the faith deep within me.  I know more than ever that I - Amy Michelle Miller-Sivil-Miller-O'Neill-TBD (hopefully Parker???) - AM A WRITER!  I know it with everything in me, even when the world says it's a silly dream or I'll never succeed enough to leave Corporate America and do this full time.  I know this to be true because of fans who ask me for advice, fans who go out of their way to make sure they come to my signings, and fans who share/LIKE/tweet my craziness out to the world.

I'm lacing up my shoes, stretching my legs and arms, and taking position.  I've kept myself back out of fear and doubt and I've reached a point where the pain of missing out on life has exceeded the fear of the unknown.  I want to wake up and create, I need to do it.  Not just for the fans - really they are the last on my reasons 'why' I need to do it....no offense to any of you.... I NEED to write because I am a writer, I need to do it because it's in my soul and it's the gift I've been given to give to the world.  I need to let it out as much as I need to let out the next breath.

So I'm going to stop this rambling right here, exhale, and get back in the race.  I hope you are still there and I hope you will stick around to see how things unfold.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Changing Perspectives

So I just spend over two hours writing a VERY long blog about how I’ve derailed for the past five months and how things seem to be going wrong at every turn.  I was proofreading the ‘woe is me’ words when I got a text from my mother that put things into perspective. I realized anything I was complaining about is all temporary and nothing that can’t be changed with a change of view.

Life has a way of bringing things into perspective for us.  Unfortunately, it usually happens when those we care about (or sometimes ourselves) face tragedy. Those times seem to make the world stop for just long enough that we can really open our eyes and see clearly, see the ‘bigger picture’, and sometimes find the answers that eluded us, but were right there all along.

The fact is, for all the downs, I have SO much to be thankful for and I hope today you all can find those things to be thankful for as well.  I get into my own way FAR too often and every day I am working hard to stop doing that.  Instead of putting one foot in front of the other I seem to have just taken a seat to wait it out, but that has gotten me nowhere…which has caused some very unnecessary pain.  Today is about dusting myself off and getting back up.

So in place of some bummer blog like what I originally wrote, I’m going to focus on the good that was in it. 

Here are a few highlights:
  1. I’ve met a great guy and I can honestly say this is the most real relationship I’ve ever been in.  He is very good to me and a great role model for my son.  He admitted last night that he actually has secretly been reading FINDING HOME and even related the characters struggles and working through things to our relationship.  His support means everything and he is helping get me back to a writing schedule.
  2. I’ve realized my writer’s block was all self-induced and I have made a pact with myself to stop setting unrealistic expectations.  I am no longer letting word count or page numbers stress me out…I am letting the stories unfold as they will, be it 90 pages or 300.  There may be long gaps between releases, but know I am working hard to create characters and stories that you can relate to and (I hope) will in some way help motivate you.
  3. Just to let you know I’m a long way from throwing in the towel when it comes to writing, here is a snippet of what I have coming down the pipeline…as you can see it’s gonna be a long ride (and these are just the ones I remember off the top of my head): 
  • Village Vixens: Diary of Zelda Mae Pearl (current WIP) 
  • Down for the Count - Small Town Series - #2 (current WIP)
  • TBD - California Dreamin' #3 (Mitch and Molly) 
  •  TBD - Small Town Series #3 (Vince and Sunny) 
  • Village Vixens #2 
  • Village Vixens #3
  • Kentucky Rain Series (3 books) 
  • Fuego Series (3 books) 
  • TBD Series (3 books) brothers of Molly from California Dreamin' 
  • Sexy Secretaries Series (3 books) set in Corporate America
  • Handy with a Heart Series (3 books) based on blue collar workers 
  • TBD Series (3 books) set in Ireland

I thank you for your patience as I get the work/life/family/writing tray that I seemed to have dropped back to balance.  I know we all face some kind of struggle.  Sometimes they are things we cannot control and sometimes they are our own fears.  I know for me, I have created a lot of my struggles just by my attitude and doubts.  But I also know, deep in my heart, that on the other side of every dark cloud, the sun still shines.

It’s time to put on my shades and enjoy the rays…

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New photo blurbs for Playing with Fire!

Today is my day at the 24 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Store!

Head on over to the 24 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Store to get my Playing with Fire and over 50 more great books on sale!!  Check it out!

Click the image to view the promo video

All my other books are only 99 cents over at SMASHWORDS now through  Friday!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Author Interview for Romance Junkies

Earlier today I had an interview over at Romance Junkies!  Check it out: 

I am so glad you could join us here at RomanceJunkies. To start, will you please tell us a little bit about your current projects? Right now I am working on the first book of my newest series Village Vixens: Diary of Zelda Mae Pearl. I hope to have that out before the end of the year!  I currently have two series out so this will be three I’m working on simultaneously.  For my California Dreamin’ Series I have released Finding Home and Playing with Fire.  For my Small Town Series I have out Taking Chances and I am working on the second book, Down for the Count.

When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
It took me a long time to admit it…nearly two decades!  I loved to write, but always thought it wasn’t good enough.  Finally I made myself finish a whole book and not just a chapter.  Then I read it and realized I AM a writer.  That book was Finding Home (pretty fitting name now that I think of it!)!

Every writer dreams of getting "the call". What were you doing when yours came? Who got to hear the good news first? 
I never got the call.  All it took was one rejection letter for me.  A friend asked why I put myself through all that process when I could self-publish.  After a few months of researching I went for it and haven’t looked back since.  I most definitely will never forget hitting that ‘SEND’ button to make my first book available for sale.  I knew in that moment my life would change course, I just never guessed how much!  It was 2:30 in the morning and I was too excited to sleep that night so work was extra long that day!

Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day? 
Deirdre Martin -another great romance writer- her advice was so simple – just keep writing!!

Describe the “perfect” hero. What about the “perfect” hero for you?
The perfect hero both in my books and for me (whenever we eventually meet) is someone who knows how to handle a strong, independent woman, who respects her and knows how to make her feel like a woman.  My heroes all seem to have a touch of sarcasm and mouthwatering chests…which really are good things in real life too. ;)

What are some of your favorite pastimes?
I am a big baseball fan; more of the minor league games then watching on TV…just something about being third base side with the smell of the grass and the crack of the bat ringing over the field…love it!  I love camping, fishing with my son, having pedicure days with my nieces, and spending time with friends at the local pub (great people watching and I get so many ideas!!). 

Do you have any hobbies or collections?  I used to collect oil lamps, Native American figures, and dolphin stuff … but four major moves in less than ten years and I was tired of packing/unpacking so I majorly downsized to my few favorite pieces.

What has been your biggest adventure to date?
LIFE!!!  There are too many things to mention – 2 divorces, multiple moves/job changes/life events.  I think the best adventure so far has been my son, Jake.  I adopted him when he was 22 months old. He will be 14 in February and any mom of a teenage boy can tell you that is its own kind of adventure!

If your fairy godmother waved her wand and whisked you away to the location of your choice, which place would you choose, and why?
The Smoky Mountains….a cabin just outside Gatlinburg that is close enough to get the necessities, but far enough to not have all the people.  I love it there, to sit on the porch and watch the morning fog hug the mountains, to relax in the hot tub at night and listen to the sounds of the woods.  And don’t get me started on cozying up in front of the fireplace!  Oh and let’s not forget those handsome Southern men and their accents – need I say more!

When it comes to food, are you the adventurous type who will try anything once, or do you prefer to stick to tried and true foods and recipes?
I’m not opposed to trying new things now and then, just not a fan of seafood.  When all else fails most places (even Red Lobster) have great Chicken Cesar Salads!  When I do cook, I love recipes from my grandmothers like homemade dumplings, cornbread, beef and noodles (also homemade).

What is your favorite season? What do you love about it? I love Fall.  I love Halloween, the changing colors, the smell of burning leaves, the warmth of a hot chocolate on a fall night at a football game.  I also love it because it means wrestling season is just around the corner and I love watching my son wrestle for his middle school team!

What is the one modern convenience that you cannot do without? My laptop!  Between my writing, Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, bill paying, banking, and checking my son’s grades – I would be so lost without my laptop!

What is this romance writer's idea of the "ideal romantic evening"? My idea may be different than most would think for a romance writer.  I’ve been single since February and haven’t done a whole lot of dating for a while so I’m rusty. For me, my ideal romantic evening would be going to a sporting event (baseball, preferably, or hockey, MMA, etc.), then dinner afterward.  I am a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of girl so me in my blue jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers is what he’s gonna get! I like things low-key and fun.  Now once dinner is done maybe a drink at the local pub to listen to the DJ or bad karaoke, or maybe going back home for a movie or some other cuddle time. 

How do you describe yourself? How would your family and friends describe you?
I am a small town girl through and through.  I hated being from a small town as a kid, but after my first divorce it was the place I came to recover.  My town now is about 3,000 people, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s 3 times the size as the town I am originally from!  I am funny, sarcastic, at times dramatic (helps being a writer), I love to laugh and be silly.  I would give anyone the shirt off my back, love helping others, hate to cook most of the time, take too many bubble baths, date all the wrong men, have very few close friends – but they mean the world to me.  As far as my friends and family, I think they will say the same.  I also think they will tell you I am too humble, I never give myself enough credit, and I am a strong woman who goes after what she wants and doesn’t let a bump in the road stop me.

And lastly, no interview of a writer would be complete without this question: what is your favorite comfort food?
I am SO addicted to Pepperridge Farm mutli-grain chips and hummus right now!  I can’t get enough!  When nothing but ice cream will do I reach for Ben & Jerry’s Heath Coffee Bar.  Now I’m hungry!


Top Ten Reasons I Love Writing Contemporary Romance - Guest Blog for Book Lovin' Mamas

Earlier today I did a guest blog over at Book Lovin' Mamas....check it out: 

10 - I have an overactive imagination and since I am single I need some outlet for all these great ideas.

9 - It’s passive revenge for all the terrible dates I’ve had…every book needs a creeper, crazy ex, unstable neighbor, etc.

8 – I come from a long line of characters that deserve their funny stories to be exploited. 

7 – The couples are regular people so it’s not as hard as having to study vampires, werewolves, or shapeshifters.  Let alone having to read up on the different eras like Medieval, Victorian, Western, etc. 

6 – It inspires me to continue to believe in true love and I hope it keeps other lonely women out there believing as well.

5 – Writing about strong, feisty women helps me stay strong and feisty myself.

4 – It’s my no-cost way of reading a good story…. Sure I could buy a book or go to the library (where they already know me by name and my reading history), but why not write it myself for FREE! 

3 – It’s going to be my ticket to working from home in my jammies … someday …years from now.

2 - It gives me an excuse if I’m staring at some hottie too long in the bar… “Oh, I’m sorry.  I’m a romance writer and I was just studying you.  You seem like the perfect leading man.”  (Amazingly it really works too)!!

1 – Because in the end I always get my man.  Yeah, so it’s only in fiction for now – details, details!