Hartland Book 5: New Beginnings

Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I FINALLY finished the first draft of Hartland Book 5: New Beginnings! It’s been such a struggle to write this one, but it’s finished. It didn’t give me a feeling of elation like the other books we’ve finished. This one is making me sit here and look at the 69,440 words of the first draft (before edits and rewrites) going “I can’t believe it’s done.”

I am going to let this one sit for a few weeks before starting on the rewrite/edits. All I know is I’m relieved I finished book 5. This is by far the most difficult book I’ve written. I’m also eager to go onto some of my other book ideas I received while struggling through this one. It’s almost as if I’ve gained my freedom….  HA HA

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Life Experiences

There’s this saying about writing what you know and it’s true. Even when we write about what we don’t know, things we’ve made up, there are certain elements to the writing that we bring to it through our own life experiences. Many writers make a character loosely based on someone, sometimes several people, they know in real life. I know a few of our characters have several character traits from multiple people, which, in turn, makes them, their own person.

The reason I wanted to talk about life experiences is because my husband and I have regretted moving away from Casper, WY to Savannah, GA. We don’t like it here. We tried so hard for the first couple of months, but it just isn’t for us. I want mountains back. I do not like the swamp. Yes, Savannah, GA is a swamp, no matter what anyone says. Some would think its beautiful, and it is in certain aspects.

There is one aspect here that I cannot get use to and that’s the smell. The stench that some days smells like someone farted in your face. Other days it smells worse. The worst part is that it comes and goes, so there isn’t really a way to get use to it. There can be several days in a row where it doesn’t stink. And then, there are days where you go to a movie and when you come out, the outside smells so horribly it nauseates you. That’s something I can’t get use to.

The beach life, for us, is not worth it. I know this is going to sound odd, but we don’t really care for the beach that much. It’s only okay. That, right there, is something we would have never known had we stayed. Nor would we have been able to experience the heat down here that seems to oppress you. We’ve experienced extreme cold by living in Bismarck, ND. I guess it was time to try the humid heat. Not a fan. Now we know for a fact and learned something we can add into our novels.

The people here are okay. They aren’t much different from the people we left behind in Wyoming. They talk about southern hospitality, but I don’t know if that truly exists anymore. There are just as many rude, inconsiderate people here as there were back in Casper. Probably more, since the metropolitan population of Savanna is roughly 384,000, and the population of the entire state of Wyoming is 585,000.

My point is (if you’ve stayed with me this long) is that although we regret moving here, we wouldn’t have ever had the experiences we’ve had. We would have never seen a person trying to squeegee off ice on a windshield (one of the few times there’s ice down here). That one had us giggling for quite a while.

It’s these experiences that have shaped us. Being here has given us several fantastic ideas for one of the series we’re working on. I don’t think these ideas would have come to us had we stayed back in Casper. That’s kind of the point though. Our paths are set before us. We can choose which way to go. Sometimes these choices don’t always work out in our favor. Sometimes they do. It also depends on how you choose to see life. For us, we choose to see life as a learning experience, as a way to improve ourselves.

Our writing might have taken a hit after we moved here, a little over a year ago. Part of that is because my husband’s mother was killed in a car accident due to a driver texting while driving. The other part is we decided to let ourselves be miserable while here because we didn’t like it. Because it didn’t work out like we had hoped it would. We have another year ahead of us to allow us to pay off some bills, so we have a few choices. 1.) Stay in the same mood and do nothing, waiting for time to pass. 2.) Write and enjoy ourselves and try to enjoy our surroundings. 3.) Or continue to absolutely hate it here and delve into writing to forget the outside world. We have made a vow to attempt number 2. Out of the options, it sounds like the best one. That’s the thing. We have control over a lot in our lives. It’s all in the way we choose to see things. So, today, choose those life experiences. Choose to look at things in a new light.

For the other writers who need a reminder: Remember that life experiences bring life to writing. These emotions we have felt have helped us delve deeper into some of our characters. The things we have seen help us with story development. Everything we go through in life, both good and bad, help with our writing. Don’t fear going out and having life experiences, even if they don’t work out like you planned. Without them, what would writers have to write about?

Road Trips = Great Ideas

Every time my husband and I take a road trip, story ideas start pouring from us. I think it’s because we’re forced to take a break from social media and video games. We’re forced to sit in the car as we drive toward our destination looking at scenery. This is where a lot of our ideas come from. This is where we fine tune some of our future projects. Most of the time, we don’t write them down either until we stop. If it’s something super important we’ll text the other person little reminders so we can write them down when we stop.

The magic doesn’t really start happening until about an hour into the trip though. It’s about the time we get tired of listening to music and turn it off for a bit. I love road trips for this reason and many more. Road trips help take the mind off of everything. You’re going somewhere new or different and it’s exciting. It’s almost the same feeling as when we create a new world with new characters. Excitement. Thrill. Eagerness.

So after the first hour that’s when we start talking about our stories or we’ll see something that reminds us of something we’re working on. Most of our road trips are spent talking to one another, coming up with ideas, talking about our current projects and why we might be stuck on them. It’s sad we cannot take more road trips, but the job that pays the bills gets in the way. Silly job don’t you know we have important things to write? Why must you take up so much time?

For us, whenever we talk about a road trip we know we’re going to come away with some kind of fantastic idea or new story creation. So, I say, bring on the road trips.

Being a Writer and a Perfectionist

One of the most difficult things for me as a writer is my perfectionist side. It’s one of the reasons I edit and edit and edit, hoping to make it perfect. You would not believe how many times I’ll edit and rewrite a book until I deem it even remotely worthy of publishing. Even as I hit the publish button in the back of my mind, I’m screaming: “It’s not perfect! There’s bound to be mistakes in there! Don’t do it! Edit it one more time.”

Another thing I’ve struggled with about being a writer and a perfectionist is when I receive a review and if there’s something in there a single reader doesn’t like, I want to go back and rewrite the entire book to correct the non-perfectness of it. The feeling eventually passes. The reason I don’t go back and rewrite is because the rational part of my brain knows that not everyone will enjoy my writing or like my books. That part of me is okay with it. The perfectionist part makes excellent arguments though. Arguments I have to shove aside if I’m ever going to make progress in writing all the books my brain dreams up.

If there is just one thing I am proud of that my writing has done for me is it’s made me a little bit less of a perfectionist. It’s made me more willing to accept mistakes from myself and in others. Of course, there are so many other things writing has done for me, but I will always be thankful it has softened the edges around my perfectionism.

In addition, my wonderful and amazing husband has helped me deal with flaws as well. Making a mistake, or several, is not the end of the world. It is a valuable lesson.

Cover Reveal for The False Gods

It’s taken a while to get to making the cover for the fourth book in the Hartland series. After some debate with my husband and a few others, we have finally decided on one! It is with great excitement that we reveal the cover today. In about a month, maybe less, depending on what the last few beta readers tell us about the book, The False Gods will become available on the market.

Be sure to let us know what you think about the cover.

The False Gods Cover 2