Posts filed under fiction

when writing is not glamorous.

Yesterday, I published a book. 

I woke up like I do every morning, my dog whining and looking at me with her eyes reserved for pleading that she needed to go outside. 

When I came back inside, I worked a little in making sure links were where they needed to be and thanked a few people for sharing the Amazon page and then realized: it's been an hour. I haven't eaten. I should probably do that.

Here's where I tell you it's been a pretty rough week. This summer has kicked my husband and I around a few times, and September has been no exception. However, when I started making macaroni and cheese and realized we didn't have any milk only after boiling the noodles, I may have lost it a little bit. 

Like, screamed the f-word a few times and threw the noodles down the disposal and then made myself some nachos out of generic cheese and stale tortilla chips.

Last night, my husband and I ate leftovers and watched Criminal Minds and I tried to keep from refreshing the Amazon page to watch my ranking. (This is a horrible idea, by the way. Stay far away from the refresh button on your release day. Stay far away from the internet, really).

This is not how I imagined release days when I started thinking hey, I may want to write a book or two.

To me, release days looked like popped champagne and copious amounts of celebration. It looked like a table full of your book(s) and friends and family and those who read your writing gathered around, cheering you on as you sign copies. 

It did not look like a mix of ugly crying (because vulnerability) and desperation (because where are the reviews? will anyone leave a review? what about the reviews?) and joy (ohmigosh I did it. I published another book. THOSE ARE MY WORDS AND PEOPLE ARE READING THEM AND I PUBLISHED ANOTHER BOOK).

This post is a dose of reality. 

Pursuing your dream, in whatever form, is hard. Some days, it kind of sucks. Like, there-are-no-more-groceries-and-pay-day-is-tomorrow-and-our-car-needs-repaired-and-how-will-we-make-rent sucks. 

But here's the secret, and I need you to pay attention: life doesn't have to be glamorous in order to be beautiful. 

Living the life that aligns with your purpose isn't always easy. Most times it kind of makes you want to quit. But the brilliancy of pushing through and doing it anyways because you love it is what makes everything worth it in the end. 

Before I went to bed last night, I received a message from a friend who finished reading Somewhere Between Water & Sky — thank you for writing hope, she said. 

I smiled. 

Mission: complete.

Posted on September 19, 2014 and filed under writing, soft, the in-between, fiction.

The Check Yes Tour :: Who is Your Jessa?

Jessa came to me in the middle of my sister's bachelorette party. 

I was sitting next to one of Blanche's best friends and she was telling me this story about chasing the sunrise up a flight of stairs after a horrible break-up. It was a simple story born out of a beautiful friendship, and things just sort of clicked into place. I knew even then that there would be a scene in book two that centered on this incredible friendship between two characters and their fight to believe in the hope of another day.

Stephanie needed someone who believed in the possibilities of beauty and hope winning out in the end not because this person felt sorry for her, but because she genuinely liked her. There was no catch in their relationship — no hidden motive. It was the only way Stephanie would be able to truly heal, really. She had to experience relationships that weren't based on a level of currency (whether it be actual currency or the currency of love). 

Enter Jessa.

.::.

With eight days before the release of SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATER AND SKY, I want to take a moment to celebrate those friendships in our lives that have meant something. For me, there are numerous memories that served in the completion of this novel. 

A few years ago I road tripped with one of my closest friends. It was on that trip I first encountered Sunset Cliffs and saw Diane Keaton on the pier. We even ran into a traveling poet, although his name wasn't Fitz and I didn't get a poem (a decision I regret to this day). I fell in love with Southern California, and as I stood on the edge of the world and watched the waves crash beneath me, a girl walked up behind us and climbed down into a hidden cave and pulled out her journal to write. I remember grabbing my friend's arm. 

"Ohmigod. That's Stephanie. That's Stephanie. I don't know how I know it but I know it...I'm kinda freaking out right now."

I'm still thankful for Prudence not using that moment to solidify my lunacy, but actually believing me and joining in with the train of thought. 

"Take a picture," she said. "You'll want to remember this moment when you write book two." 

.::.

She was in my kitchen getting lessons in chicken-management. Russ walked away for a moment, and I took the chance to take advantage of the extra space and fill up my drink.

I was turning away when her fingers wrapped around my wrist. She opened her mouth, paused, and then nodded before finally speaking, a trait I've come to know as her brief moment of making sure this is the right and good thing to say.

"I was talking to someone about you the other day, and in mentioning your name, I said 'one of my best friends, Elora Ramirez' and that got me thinking, you know? And I realized that yeah. You're one of my best friends. And I'm thankful." 

I'm fairly certain I won the award for awkward response, because I can't for the life of me remember what I said, but I do remember being deeply moved by the way in which our friendship jumped to another level of trust and camaraderie after that moment because how did she know? I was labeling her the same way, although not publicly, and definitely not in a way I even realized until she said the words.

To this day, when I'm needing a dose of truth, or even if it's a moment of bathing in the sun with a thermos full of blackberry soda and vodka, I know I can go to Ritz.

.::.

We were huddled together, shivering in the brisk late evening air of November. The moon was almost right above us and our hands were shaking (although you could debate whether this was from the cold or the lavender liqueur). 

"I just need you to know I have trouble connecting with people because I'm afraid they're going to leave me."

I stopped cold at her words, not really knowing what to say. This was the one who brought a greasy hamburger, french fries and a milkshake to my house during the worst week of my life. In my head, we already kind of went together, and so to hear this fear surprised me in a way I wasn't anticipating.

How did you know this was my fear too? was what was running through my head, but what came out of my mouth (and proved to be it's own prophetic word) was "you don't have to worry about me. I'm not going anywhere." 

Three months later, I'm leaving her house after her birthday party and she grabs my hands and looks me in the eyes. 

"Where you go, I would go. I would move wherever you moved...." she smiled. "I mean, within reason." 

I think, in this moment I knew what it meant to have a person. 

When I'm flailing or losing momentum or lost in my own mind, I'll go to Sarah. She's a buoy who holds up the mirror when I need it the most.

.::.

There are other moments for sure — the walks along Jekyll Island where I first learned of storm wood, the miles spent driving up and down I-35 and other highways in order to attend a book signing of an author I respect, the numerous tattoo stories and emails and moments of connection. 

But I want to hear your story. How has friendship changed you? Who is your person? What are the moments in which you and those closest to you chased the sunset or made an impulsive decision in order to suck the marrow out of life? Tell me. Use the Check Yes graphic above in your post if you like.

And then come back here and link up your post so we can remember the beauty of relationships around us. All I ask is that you include the Amazon link for SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATER AND SKY somewhere in your post. And, if you've read the book, I'd love to hear how Jessa and Stephanie's relationship have inspired you. 


Posted on September 9, 2014 and filed under fiction, writing.

cover reveal :: SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATER & SKY

When I contacted Sarah from Okay Creations to design the cover for SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATER & SKY, I knew it was going to be good. 

My only request? EVERY SHATTERED THING's cover was dark and I loved that—it was so indicative of the story. This book? I wanted color. I wanted vibrancy. I gave her the blurb and she ran with it and....

....well, you can see for yourself :: 

   I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.    If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists.    Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.   And every single one of my tears could fill a book.   But stories, with all their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don’t have room for that anymore. I left it all—the hope, the love, the promise—back in my old life with the ghosts I’d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.   Kevin.   This is how I dare to move forward and to believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don’t wait around anymore. I can’t.   Waiting leaves room for the voices.    Somewhere between water and sky, I'll find a way to burn these voices to the ground.

I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin. 
If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists. 
Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.
And every single one of my tears could fill a book.
But stories, with all their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don’t have room for that anymore. I left it all—the hope, the love, the promise—back in my old life with the ghosts I’d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.
Kevin.
This is how I dare to move forward and to believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don’t wait around anymore. I can’t.
Waiting leaves room for the voices. 
Somewhere between water and sky, I'll find a way to burn these voices to the ground.

I KNOW RIGHT?!

Currently, I am in the midst of editing, and really-really can't wait to get the book in your hands. It comes out SEPTEMBER 18 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Mark your calendars. 

Oh and, if you haven't read EVERY SHATTERED THING, grab your copy here. It's only 99 cents for the eBook version.

Also, while you're at it, make sure to add SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATER & SKY on Goodreads and check out this exclusive excerpt (all other cover reveal posts share a scene from the first chapter) - 

.::.

We pull up to Sunset Cliffs and there’s not a soul in sight. Jessa takes the rubber band around her wrist and lifts and twists her hair into a high bun to fight the wind.

“I can’t believe there’s no one here.” 

I can’t either. I breathe in deep—smelling the ocean and feeling the wind blow my hair loose of its braid. I don’t even care. I walk to the edge of the cliff and hold my hands to my chest as if to keep the ache inside.

Sometimes beauty hurts you with her power.

The waves are rushing up to the cliff and crashing against the rock, spraying salt water up above. My flesh erupts in goosebumps and I shiver. I don’t know if I believe in holy spaces. But here? I gaze out to the almost imperceptible line where water meets sky. 

Here, everything seems sacred.

A wave crashes beneath me and the foam sprays up and over the ledge, baptizing my feet. I breathe in quick and blink away the tears. It’s almost too much. I hesitate, wondering if I should just walk away. Maybe I’m making too much of things. 

But the waves seem to take on a different chorus, beckoning me closer and closer to the edge. 

I find a spot that’s dry and sit down, curling my legs into my chest and resting my chin on my knees. 

The sky is screaming too, but this time I’m not sure I want to hear.

She’s begging me to remember mornings spent watching her grab hold of the blackness and edging it out for another day. 

Begging me to hold on—to believe—to rest in second chances. 

Because there’s always another day coming, right? 

But there’s also the ending—the way the colors give in to the darkness and disappear for a moment. 

Which one of those is truth? 

I sit and listen to the chorus above and below me, wondering if just maybe, that’s where my hope is: somewhere in the middle between water and sky.

Speaking of hope. 

I bite my lip and close my eyes against Jessa and Ren’s giggles behind me. Their happiness reminds me of piggybacks under the night sky and falling stars and running from trains and kissing to beat the storm. A tear trickles down my face and I bury my head in between my legs before raising it again to watch the sun dip below the horizon, the waves gaining intensity and rush as the tide moves inland.

Never leave me, he said. I roll my eyes and feel the anger brimming beneath the surface. If only I knew that “never leave me” meant more for job security than true love. The fissure within cracks a little more and I let my shoulders slump inward to mind the pain.

Sometimes, a broken heart needs to see the darkness take over to know she’s not alone.

Posted on August 6, 2014 and filed under fiction.

elora reads :: THE LIGHT BETWEEN US

When Beth Morey invited me to read an advanced copy of The Light Between Us, I jumped at the chance. I love it when my friends take the leap and jump into self-publishing, and knowing Beth's ability to weave words together it really was a no-brainer.

  For twenty-something Boston school teacher Ruth, she's gotten by just fine on playing it safe, thank you very much. But now her risk-free life and nice-girl demeanor are leaving her increasingly heartsick. So when she meets bad boy Derek, she's willing to overlook her “no romance” rule and give him a chance to prove her fears wrong. Because he, also, is plagued by a sense of ennui and pointlessness, wanting to change his fast-and-loose living but not knowing how.    Neither can deny the inexplicable, illogical attraction drawing them together, and they are hard-pressed to resist it. But what will their unlikely relationship cost, and who will be caught in the crossfire?

For twenty-something Boston school teacher Ruth, she's gotten by just fine on playing it safe, thank you very much. But now her risk-free life and nice-girl demeanor are leaving her increasingly heartsick. So when she meets bad boy Derek, she's willing to overlook her “no romance” rule and give him a chance to prove her fears wrong. Because he, also, is plagued by a sense of ennui and pointlessness, wanting to change his fast-and-loose living but not knowing how.

Neither can deny the inexplicable, illogical attraction drawing them together, and they are hard-pressed to resist it. But what will their unlikely relationship cost, and who will be caught in the crossfire?

What I Liked: 

This was an easy read. I purposefully chose to save this book until after the Story Sessions' retreat, and I'm so glad I did. It's light, romantic, and quick on the plot. If I hadn't had some work-related things I needed to do while reading the book, I probably could have finished it in one setting. 

What I Loved: 

Ruth and Derek. Their characters were so engaging I wanted to know more. I wanted more of Ruth interacting with her girlfriends, more of the backstory of how Ruth and Derek got to be where they were, more of Derek and his friends, more of Ruth's history of writing...just more. 

I also loved that this book reminded me of Serendipity in a lot of ways. Remember that movie? I loved-hated that movie because of how frustratingly realistic the missed-opportunities were for the couple. Yeah. Buckle down. This book is like that and I kinda loved it.

What You Should Know: 

In Story Sessions we have this saying of choose yourself. It goes for a lot of things, really, but Morey did it by self-publishing this title and staking her claim within the indie author market. It's a huge risk. HUGE. Check out this blog post she wrote a few weeks ago on her perfectly-inperfect book launch. I already had respect for this woman before she wrote about listening to her critics with a patient ear. After this post? That respect sky-rocketed. From someone who knows what it's like to be on the proverbial chopping block of book reviewers and naysayers, I love-love-love her attitude here. 

We need more of her in the indie world.

You can find THE LIGHT BETWEEN US on Amazon and Beth Morey on GOODREADS.

Posted on July 3, 2014 and filed under fiction, elora reads.

A guest post :: Heather Lyons on self-publishing

It's not often I'm able to host a published author—and one of multiple books at that—on my blog. So when my friend Kelly over at InkSlinger PR mentioned Heather Lyons would be participating in a blog tour for her final book in the Fate series, I was on it. I've been intrigued with her books since the moment I saw the first one release (those covers!) and so I was thrilled when she said yes. 

Below are Heather's thoughts on self—publishing. I love what she says. 

Writing has been a life-long passion of mine, beginning when I was a little girl and stretching all the way to the present, but I’d not thought it a feasible reality until after I’d left a career to raise my children. The more and more I thought about finally finishing all those stories that had been building up in my head over the years, the more attractive the idea finally sounded. What was there to lose? I told myself. And so, I finally finished a book, and another, and another, and started others.

And I queried eight agents and got rejected.

I know, I know. Eight rejections in nothing in the literary landscape of dreams. But after those eight rejections (all form letters), I got to really thinking about the book I submitted and its overhaul. And in that time, I met a number of authors both traditionally and self-published, alongside some editors and other writers, and had some frank discussions about the pros and cons of traditional vs. indie publishing today.

Before I go further, I feel like I ought to clarify I don’t think one platform is better than the other. I like both, to be honest. And I think there’s room for both in the book market. That said, when it came time to send A Matter of Fate, the first book in my Fate series, out into the wild, I decided to try the indie route. I didn’t send out any further queries—but I did research what I needed to do to give my book baby its best chance. I realized that I couldn’t skimp on my novel just because it wasn’t being put out by one of the Big 6—so I found an excellent editor. A crazy-talented cover designer. A formatter. I sent out queries to bloggers instead of agents, asking if they’d want to take a chance on my book. I booked blog tours to get the word out. I hired a publicist. I got an agent. And I have never regretted going the indie route with the Fate series, although I do wish I could go back in time and give myself a better publicity lead up to that first release.

Now that A Matter of Forever, the fourth and final book of Chloe’s arc in the Fate series is coming out, I look back on the journey I’ve made in the indie publishing world and see that I’ve continued to tweak and refine what it takes to put a book out. There is no one right way—each path is different. I look forward to putting more indie books out, and I look forward to submitting some books to publishers. I love that, in today’s book world, there are so many ways stories can reach readers . . . and that there’s room enough for all.

//

Intrigued by her words? You should check out the series, which is one of the most original I've come across in the YA/NA market. Even better news: book one and the follow up novella are only 99 cents right now. Find them on Amazon here :: 

A Matter of Fate :: book 1
Beyond Fate :: book 1.5 
A Matter of Heart :: book 2
A Matter of Truth :: book 3 
A Matter of Forever :: book 4

It all comes down to this . . .

Chloe Lilywhite has struggled for years to find her footing in a series of dangerous and demanding worlds. Creator, first tier Council member, and one of the most powerful Magicals in existence, she was little more than one of Fate’s pawns. But now, Chloe is back home and ready to call the shots. She knows what she wants and who she wants to be.

Except the Elders never got the memo.

Annar and Magical-kind are under attack. The lives of Chloe’s loved ones, and life as they know it, are at stake. Chloe's the key to taking the Elders down, but they won't go quietly into the night.

This time, neither will Chloe.

*This is a New Adult title, suitable for readers 18+.

 

About Heather Lyons:

Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.

Links:

Website
Author Goodreads 
A MATTER OF FOREVER Goodreads 
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest

Posted on May 20, 2014 and filed under fiction, elora reads.