Sunday, August 21, 2016

What I Learned While Editing: Life Lessons With Grammar!

If you ask a writer/author if they enjoy editing, there's a good chance you'll receive a groan in response before they launch into horror stories of plot flaws, massive rewrites, and deadlines.

Once upon a time, that was me. Mention that "E" word and my body would automatically launch into a series of shudders while I silently   prayed to my muses for the ability to write perfectly. Editing isn't necessarily a bad experience either when you find an editor that's a good fit with you and your writing style. But I'm sure each author has at least one painful memory regarding this necessary part of the process. We push on. We move forward. We develop thicker skins and see it for the gift it can be -- the ability to improve our story telling.

Anywho, I just released Bittersweet Symphony, my 14th book, and I love that editing has become something I actually enjoy. There are still things that make me moan, but for the most part, it's a chance to learn new things and if it makes my story tighter, stronger, and flow easier ... then bring it on! It was during this last manuscript where I was working with grammar that I got to thinking ... punctuation. It's not just squiggles, dots, and dashes ... they can also be applied to life! For example ...

THE SEMI-COLON 


I love the meaning people have attached to the semi-colon! It's a powerful reminder that no matter what happens, how dark things get, or how it feels like your life is coming to a painful end ... hold on because it gets better! It's empowering to know that we have more control than we think and that we truly can decide how we tell our story. So next time something happens that stresses you out and makes you panic, remember that this is but a brief pause. Life continues. Don't end your sentence just because things get tough. Take those moments to simply breathe and find your way again.

THE PERIOD

This punctuation mark is used when you've finished a complete sentence. It indicates the end of a sentence ... a thought ... a feeling by the one writing. To me, this is kinda two-fold because:

1. It let's me know that there will always be a natural end to things. If I'm experiencing something awesome ... APPRECIATE IT. If I'm going through something challenging ... HOLD ON. It comes down to the one thing I can control at any given time -- my attitude.

2. Life is made up of multiple beginnings and endings. We're in constant flow and change. If you're anything like me, you don't always let go of things that hurt us, instead storing them in our memories so we can beat ourselves up later. The period is a great reminder that it's okay to let those things go. Don't let the past keep you from discovering happiness and new opportunities for the present and future. Realize that everything has it's time and season. Learn what you need to and then gently place that period down. End it. Then boldly continue on in confidence!

THE HASHTAG


If you've ever seen my posts on social media, I'm kinda a hashtag junkie. I love them. They're definitely useful in making information easier to find and are great for trending, but honestly? I also think their FUN! Most times, the hashtags I use could be part of the post content, but I like being dorky! #DoingMyThing #Sinceriously #CantEverHave2Many

I've even conducted an interview with another author where we responded with hashtags. What I've learned is life is too short not to sprinkle some silliness and fun throughout your day. I can't count how many times I've smiled or laughed out loud over other hashtags. It's a great way to also express your personalities! #BeYou #GoHashTagCrazy #BeARuleBreaker #IDareYou

THE DASH

I've had the thought before but it came up again during a scene I wrote in Bittersweet Symphony. There are different kinds of dashes, depending on what you're doing. For this example, I'm referring to the kind that links to points together. When someone passes away and a headstone is made for their grave, you'll see the date of the birth and then death separated by a dash. This signals they lived from point A to point B. Their life is everything in between.

Don't you think that makes this punctuation mark POWERFUL? In one simple stroke it encompasses SO MUCH ... each second, minute, hour, day ... well, you get the point. A person's existence is held within that dash. It reminds me that it's the small things that make up a life. Every day isn't a series of fireworks and grand gestures of awesome. Yes, we have them but we also face mundane things. We think they're insignificant but they're not. Celebrate all parts -- EACH MOMENT -- not just the dates we've deemed important.

THE EXCLAMATION MARK


Finally, this is one of my favorites! Why? Because there is NOTHING wrong with being excited and passionate about your life. A writing rule is that we're meant to use these marks sparingly. I remember when I first started, it was something I got dinged on by my editor. Over time, I've slowly stopped using them as much (unless I'm posting on Facebook. Ha!) and that got me thinking as well.

How many times do we allow others opinions or the rules dampen our excitement? 
How many times do we want to celebrate and squee over something but hold back?

Life is meant to be enjoyed. I've dealt with depression for more than two decades and there were definitely times where I found no reason to smile and have fun. I couldn't see the positive or silver lining. It was beyond hard to see anything light. My life began to change when I made a conscience effort to always try and find something to be excited about. I didn't care what it was because it was all about baby steps. Those moments that were easier to breathe through. Each minute where my smile didn't feel so forced and reflected genuine happiness.

So while exclamations are frowned upon in writing ...

EXCLAMATION YOUR LIFE!!!!!! << see! haha

Thanks for reading my post! I love being able to share my thoughts and would love to hear yours. Feel free to comment below!


Love, Bels! 
xxxxxx

NOW AVAILABLE: BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY!


WOOOOHOOOO!! Bittersweet Symphony, #2 in the DAMAGED SOULS series, is now available! 

I've been so excited to share the sequel to Cooper and Caylee's story. What a journey! Cooper Hensley has absolutely secured his place forever in my heart and I hope he does the same for you. Life isn't always easy and definitely doesn't go according to plan. But what happens when you realize you can't love both the woman and your belief that you're unredeemable? Would you be strong enough to let your guilt go and hold on tight to a love that changes your world?

FIND OUT IN BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY!

Early reviews have praised this story as the best story I've written 
to date: earning a unanimous FIVE STARS

"“Just when you thought Belinda Boring couldn't rip your heart apart more, 
here comes Bittersweet Symphony with the angst and tears.”
 Lisa Markson, Romance Book Reviews

"I had very high expectations for Bittersweet Symphony and I'm pleased to say Belinda Boring did not disappoint! My heart has been ripped apart and sewn back together with this one. I have laughed so hard, cried until I thought I would die of dehydration, and cursed the day Belinda was born. Do yourself a favor, and buy this book!!!"
Jessica Gibson, Bestselling Author of the Falling Fast series.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY TODAY!


And to celebrate release week ...


Bittersweet Melody, #1 in the DAMAGED SOULS series, 
is currently 99 CENTS!! 


HAPPY READING, EVERYONE!!


NOW AVAILABLE: BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY!


WOOOOHOOOO!! Bittersweet Symphony, #2 in the DAMAGED SOULS series, is now available! 

I've been so excited to share the sequel to Cooper and Caylee's story. What a journey! Cooper Hensley has absolutely secured his place forever in my heart and I hope he does the same for you. Life isn't always easy and definitely doesn't go according to plan. But what happens when you realize you can love both the woman and your belief you're unredeemable? Are you strong enough to let your guilt and anger go and hold on tight to a love that changes your world?

FIND OUT IN BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY!

Early reviews have praised this story as the best story I've written 
to date: earning a unanimous FIVE STARS

"“Just when you thought Belinda Boring couldn't rip your heart apart more, 
here comes Bittersweet Symphony with the angst and tears.”
 Lisa Markson, Romance Book Reviews

"I had very high expectations for Bittersweet Symphony and I'm pleased to say Belinda Boring did not disappoint! My heart has been ripped apart and sewn back together with this one. I have laughed so hard, cried until I thought I would die of dehydration, and cursed the day Belinda was born. Do yourself a favor, and buy this book!!!"
Jessica Gibson, Bestselling Author of the Falling Fast series.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY TODAY!


And to celebrate release week ...


Bittersweet Melody, #1 in the DAMAGED SOULS series, 
is currently 99 CENTS!! 


HAPPY READING, EVERYONE!!


Friday, August 19, 2016

Bookish Insight: Cooper and Caylee!

Did you know the church Caylee Sawyer visits every Friday is based on a church in Flagstaff, Arizona? I love ritual and tradition so when writing Bittersweet Melody, I particularly liked including Caylee visiting her local church to light candles for Owen and Cooper. It was something that initially brought her peace, a way for her to make sense of Owen's death, but it evolved into something much more.

When Cooper discovered the reason why she went ... that she was lighting one for HIM ... it touched his heart and gave him the courage to stop denying how he felt. <3

Flagstaff is about 2 hours away from where I live and I love driving there with my hubby to go to the bookstores. You know me ... I had to go take some photos so VOILA! I thought you all might like to see them. As a side note: these photos have me ITCHING to travel to Europe to see all the incredible architecture there. My parents are currently in England and they're been posting beautiful photos of their trip. But back to Caylee and Cooper ... LOL


Insert from Caylee:


I loved coming to the gorgeous, old, stone building, with gothic style architecture, the tall spire with a cross a beacon of hope to those in need. I’d been drawn to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for more than just my need to worship. There was something about the history of the church that had stood for over a hundred years that intrigued me. I couldn’t help but wonder who had come before me and what worries they had laid at the altar in faith.



And see those stairs I'm sitting on ....


Insert from Cooper:

Tugging her into my body, I wrapped my arms around her, not giving her a chance to back away. I had her caged in my embrace, our faces unbelievably close.
“What are you doing, Cooper?” she tentatively asked, peering up at me though her long, dark eyelashes.
“I don’t know,” I breathed, lying. She knew exactly what was on my mind. “All I know is this could be the biggest mistake we’ve ever made.” I finally admitted.
There was no fear in her eyes, no uncertainty. “But don’t you want to see what happens?” she whispered, as if speaking louder would break the spell between us.
“Yes. No. I don’t know. I can’t, Caylee.” Feeling the moment pass and a reluctant return of my senses, I willed myself to let her go. And again, I couldn’t find the strength to do it.
She was so close, the subtle breeze dancing her enticing scent around me. She smelled of all things forbidden, and for the craziest moment, I could’ve sworn I caught something else.
Caylee Sawyer was the epitome of everything I could ever hope and wish for. The light scent of vanilla smelled like home, and it terrified the hell out of me.
Not moving a muscle, I wanted to kiss her. I needed to. I was tired of fighting against my escalating desire. If I was going to go to Hell, I might as well go happily. I wanted this.
There was nothing fragile or uncertain in her voice. “Cooper?”
“Yeah?” My eyes never left hers, the heat from her gaze leaving a trail over my skin as I traced the pad of my thumb lightly over her cheek.
“Stop thinking and just kiss me.”
Who was I to argue?
Tightening my grip around her waist, I felt her melt into me, felt her submit to something that was still in the process of happening. I didn’t want to rush it, even as I fought everything inside me not to capture her mouth, devouring her. She wasn’t like the woman I usually spent time with, trying in vain to lose myself in nothingness, just going through the motions of having sex. It had all been meaningless, a means to an end.
But not with her. With Caylee, it meant something.
No matter how hard I denied it, it would always mean everything.
I leaned in slowly, still cupping her face with my hand, a slight tremble giving away my sudden nervousness. Fuck, if this kept up, I’d let her see that this meant more than I was ready to reveal.
It was just a kiss, right?
And still, I continued to lie to myself.
“Cooper,” she murmured, and that was my undoing. I couldn’t argue with her and myself at the same time. Sometimes you had to throw all the self-inflicted rules out the window and give in.
I was done fighting it.
I refused to feel guilty over doing something I’d only dreamed of.
I kissed her. And in that second, I caught a glimpse of something—surrender.
As our lips touched, brushing softly over each other’s in anticipation, I lost all patience for slowness. I needed her with a ferocity that surprised even me. Tracing my tongue over her bottom lip, she didn’t resist, instead opening her mouth so I could deepen our kiss.
Mine.
And by all that was holy, she groaned into my mouth, mirroring the same sensation flooding my mind. There were no words to describe the perfection of the moment, of just how sweet she tasted. Even my imagination wasn’t that good, and the intensity of her response wiped every other kiss from my memory.
There was no one other than her. Even my guilt lost its power. Like a spark to a pile of kindling, I knew we would be combustible. I knew that the attraction between us was only the beginning of something even more encompassing—something completely volatile and fiery. I couldn’t be the only one who felt it.
Standing there on the steps of the church, everything melted away except for us.
She turned me inside out, stripped me down, and then rebuilt me.

Le SWOOOON! I seriously LOVE Cooper and Caylee's story! If you haven't had a chance to read Bittersweet Melody, click on the links below! AND ... it's the perfect time for it because in TWO MORE DAYS the sequel, Bittersweet Symphony, releases!

Bittersweet Melody
#1 in the Damaged Souls series
#marine #secondchances #ptsd #music



HAPPY READING!!