Dani Archer: Heartbreak and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Every once in a while, I get the urge to look at a scene from another character’s point of view. Yesterday as a I was driving home, Dani Archer, Matt’s mom, was quite insistent that we hear her side of the story. The scene I kept seeing…well, it’s a powerful one, at least to me. A mother’s love is an awesome thing when you think about it…

 

Heartbreak and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Mamie and I waited outside the terminal, waiting for Matt to get home. I’d never get used to this. Never. He was only fifteen years old, and out with the Army, hunting things Stephen King couldn’t even dream up. Every time he left, my heart cracked just a little more…not that I’d ever tell him. He had to see me strong, otherwise I was afraid he’d worry about us too much and forget to worry about himself.

Cold air blew inside from the automatic doors leading to the arrival level and I shivered. It probably wasn’t just from a chill, though. I was on edge, worried what I’d see when my son arrived. Mike had told us what happened in Afghanistan, probably to spare Matt from reliving it. If my brother was worried, it was bad. I knew about the broken arm…and the dead soldier. God, Matt was too young to deal with this, and it made me angry. But there were some things you couldn’t protect your children from, despite the very best intentions. Sometimes, their hearts had to be broken so they’d be stronger and wiser in the end.

I wasn’t sure this was one of those times.

Mamie touched my arm, her eyes round and worried, nodding at the terminal door. There, in a crowd of business travelers, vacationers and grandparents coming to visit grandchildren, was Matt. He walked out carrying nothing but a backpack and a duffel bag, shoulders straight and chin high. To any stranger, he probably looked like a tough kid returning from a disastrous ski run, what with the cast and the bruises. But I saw through it. I could see what no one else could. He was almost broken, in ways I thought might never mend.

“Oh, honey,” I breathed. My little boy, the baby of my family, wasn’t a kid anymore. This trip had changed him irrevocably. And all I could do was watch.

I took a step forward and opened my arms, hoping he’d accept the invitation. Hoping he hadn’t become so numb or hardened that his mom wasn’t enough. He paused for a heartbeat, then another and another. It was like he’d been frozen in place.

Wondering if I’d be rejected, I went to him and wrapped him up in a hug. Matt stood stiff in my embrace for a moment, before lowering his face to my shoulder. “Get me out of here.”

He sounded stretched to the end of his endurance. I waved at Mamie. “Go for the car. Hurry.”

I hustled Matt out of the terminal before he broke in front of everyone and kept an arm around his waist while we waited for the van. We didn’t wait long; poor Mamie screeched up to the curb like car-jackers were after her. I’d never seen her drive so recklessly, but I wasn’t angry. She understood as well I did what we were trying to do.

I flung the sliding door open and pushed Matt through, making sure to take his bags so he could climb in without bumping his broken arm. He slid across the seat, breathing hard. His hands were fists, pressed tight against his legs, as if this was the only thing keeping him together. I climbed in and slammed the door shut. Before even buckling up, I told Mamie, “Go.”

She took off, speeding through the airport, while I turned to Matt. “You’re home now. You’re home now.”

He seemed to melt right before my eyes, and he dropped his head in my lap, grabbing fistfuls of my shirt hem. Then he cried. This child hadn’t cried since he was eight years old; at least, not in front of me. Yet, here he was, very nearly a man, sobbing like his soul depended on it. I caught Mamie’s eye in the review mirror. Tears were running down her face, too. I managed a sad smile; this child cried at puppy food commercials. Her heartbreak was genuine, though. Mine was, too. But being a mother meant I couldn’t give in to the pain–and the fury–I felt over Matt’s hurt. Because I was furious. I hated the knife, I hated the Army, I hated monsters and I hated fate. The mother-dragon in me woke, burning with the need to flame everything that made my happy-go-lucky son feel so much, drowning in sorrow over the death of a friend.

Somehow, I held it together long enough to make it home and help Matt upstairs. He’d stopped crying by then, and that was almost worse, because he looked so hollow…cored out. Not sure what else to do, I ordered him to go to bed, then hurried downstairs to cook. Making comfort food for my always-hungry, always-growing teens was the way I showed love. Nothing said, “I care,” like a gooey grilled cheese sandwich when you were a bottomless pit of a fifteen-year-old boy.

While I put together my ingredients for tomato soup, Mamie glided into the room, silent as a ghost. “Will he be okay?”

Her voice was so small, without its usual commanding confidence. I gripped the edge of the counter. I’d go hide in the bathroom soon, let it all out, but it looked like I had to hold up just a little longer. “He will, but be prepared. There’s going to be a new normal around here. He’s seen too much to be his old self and we need to adapt to the new Matt as fast as we can, for his sake.”

“I know, and I’ll adapt.” She touched my arm. “Why don’t you let me make the soup. I’ll call you when it’s ready.”

Leave it to my empathetic Mamie to know what I was hiding just under the surface. I kissed her cheek before retreating to my room. “Thank you.”

How did my kids grow up to be so exceptional? I was lucky, that had to be the reason.

When the tears finally fell, the sorrow was mixed with pride.

 

**Photo by Sheri Richards**

Character Interview: Jorge

Hi everyone,

Last week I promised an interview with a very elusive character in Matt Archer’s life: Jorge, Peruvian medicine man, magic-knife creator and Yale scholar. He’s graciously agreed to speak with me via satellite phone…primarily because Major Ramirez offered him a box of Girl Scout Cookies?

J: Well, you can’t exactly get Thin Mints out here very often. The major was kind enough to pick up a box when he was on leave.

K: Wouldn’t they melt, though? It’s kind of humid in the rain forest.

J: You’re assuming I try to keep them for a while. I shared one sleeve with the major’s team, and ate the rest the same day.

K: Wow, and I thought my addiction to Tag-alongs was fierce. But this leads me to my first question. You grew up here, with your people, but were offered the opportunity to study abroad, in the United States. What kind of culture shock was that?

J: It was extreme. I picked up English quickly, so it wasn’t the language, but I had no concept of what American life was like. I’d find myself in social situations and have no idea what was going on. I’m good at studying behavior, so I worked hard to fit in, although I never really did.

K: Is there anything you miss from those days after returning home?

J: Besides the Thin Mints? <laughs> Well, I don’t miss the winters. It got very cold in the Northeast, and I was sick a great deal those first few years. But let’s see…some people would probably say modern conveniences like plumbing and coffee makers. I don’t really need those things. I miss the books. I have a small library here, and the major brings a few for me, but it’s difficult to keep them since I’m on the move a lot.

K: I can see that being an issue. I’d miss books, too.  So I have a few questions from other people…Misha has questions about the knives, if you are willing to answer them.

J: <long pause> I’ll answer some, but this isn’t necessarily knowledge I’d prefer to get out. It could be quite dangerous, you see.

K: Okay, we’ll give it a try. First up, materials:  What metals did you use to make the knives? Was it the same mix for all five?

J:  The blades themselves are all made of the same mix of metals. They’re a bronze alloy. <chuckles> Don’t tell my grandfather, but I threw a little steel into the mix for durability. Not classic technique, but these aren’t ordinary blades.

K: How about the handles? What are they made of?

J: Each one is slightly different. Four are made of enameled bone. Plain white, plain black (which is mine), black with white markings and white with black markings. Variations on light and dark. The fifth I made from a bronze/steel alloy.

K: Why the difference with the fifth?

J: That’s a secret. Next question?

K: Um, okay. How did you forge the blades, and when you bound the spirits to them, did you feel it?

J: That’s two questions.

K: Well, yeah.

J:  Hmmm.  To the first, I used a version of clay casting (the old ways are better sometimes) and a great deal of heat. I…might have achieved the desired heat through less than natural means.  <clears throat> To the second, yes, I absolutely felt the spirits enter the blades. I had to bind them together, so I was the link. It was painful, especially with young Archer’s knife. His knife-spirit is willful and extremely strong. The bronze’s spirit was strong-willed, too, but more…refined? I don’t have a better way to explain it. The other three were strong, but definitely less potent than those two.

K: Speaking of which, what do you think about Matt?

J: He frightens me.

K: Uh…what?

J:  His power, his ability. It’s…odd. But my hope is that it’s a good kind of odd. We called the knives the “blades of redemption” for a reason.

K: Sounds like all the wielders have a rough road ahead.

J: You have no idea. And hopefully, you never will.

K: Not very optimistic.

J: That is not my role.

K: You’re probably right. Well, I know you’re a busy man, so we’ll wrap up. Thanks so much for taking the time.

J: You’re welcome. And keep that boy out of trouble, will you? I can only heal so much.

K: I…can’t promise anything, but duly noted.

J: Hmmm…

 

Birthday Extravaganza!

Greetings Monster Hunters!

cupcakeIn a few short weeks, the Matt Archer series will celebrate it’s first year in print (the first edition published on August 18, 2012). When we get to the anniversary, I’ll do a publishing state of the union, just to let everyone know how we’re doing and lessons I’ve learned (believe me, there were quite a few!) along the way.

Even more exciting, Monster Hunter hit 50+ reviews on Amazon and 100+ ratings on GoodReads this past week. I’m so thrilled by the support from the readers that I want to share the love! So let’s do a little giveaway. The prize is a signed paperback of all three Matt Archer books and the opportunity to name a character in the final book, MA5, likely to publish this time next year. To enter, see the Rafflecopter link below. I’ll announce the winner on the August 5th blog. Oh, and the giveaway is open internationally!

I also have a request. When I asked if you’d like to hear from other characters, a number of you suggested I interview Jorge. I’d love to post that next week, but I need your help. What questions would you like to ask him? Post them in the comments below, or send me ideas via my contact page.

Thanks again for all the support, reviews and kind words. This has been an awesome journey.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Monster Thank You!

Just over a week ago, Matt Archer: Legend went live. The response to the book astonished me, and I’d like to thank all the readers who came back to visit Matt again. He’s quite glad, otherwise I would’ve had to send him back to Greenhill High to stay. Instead, it looks like he’ll fight on in books 4 and 5!

Snoopy Happy DancerA number of people have asked about the schedule for the last two books. Book 4 should come out in very early 2014 (late December if I can help it, but certainly by January 15). Book 5, the final full-length novel, will come out this time next year. And I’m going to throw a hint…there’s a Matt Archer Sekrit Project in the works for late 2014. After that, I plan to start a new series for 2015. More on that next year, but it’s going to be older and edgier than Matt, likely a type of mystery series suitable for readers ages 14+. I hope you’ll give it a whirl!

Finally, to show my thanks, I’d like to do a series of character interviews/alt POV short stories kind of like I did with Mike and Mamie earlier this year. Who would you like to hear from? If I were to interview Matt’s Mom, what questions would you ask her? Or how about Badass Aunt Julie? Or Johnson? Any of these characters are fair game. Let me know and over the course of the next few months, I’ll post from tidbits. Give me some ideas and we’ll see what we get!

Again, thank you for all your support! Matt’s already working hard in MA4. Last night, I left him passed out in his sleeping bag, one hand in the sun, to recover from a brush with the Dark. He and Will both have had quite a rough go of it so far…but I have a feeling this story is going to be my favorite so far. : )

 

P.S. (The new look on the blog is due to a “catastrophic code failure” with my old website that my web hosting service can’t decipher. Just thought you ought to know. : D)

Guest Interview with L.M. Sherwin

Greetings, and welcome to Friday Rambles! Today, we’re lucky to have a guest interview with the fabulous L.M. Sherwin, author of Night Bells, Silent Shades, and The Dark Ship.  Thanks for joining us today!

Thank you so much, Kendra, for having me “over” to your blog today!

Q.  How did the idea for Night Bells come to you?

A.  The idea for Night Bells actually came to me in my last year of college. Being an avid anime fan, I had been enjoying Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) and really loved the idea of a young boy who lived in an opulent environment and held some sort of formal title. If you’re unfamiliar with Black Butler, it is a fun, though dark, anime about a boy named Ciel Phantomhive and his butler (who happens to be a demon) named Sebastian. Highly interesting story.

Anyway! I digress…After watching the anime, I realized I’d never really written a story about a young boy before and felt challenged to do so. I sat down at my computer one night in my dorm room and just started plinking away at the keys. Soon, Soryn and his manservant Jori were born. So was an ice planet that would house my new characters. As time passed, others joined them and the world was given more detail and purpose. Almost all my stories begin this way—I’m intrigued by the tale of one character and then the rest of the people, setting, and plot all begin to fall into place later.

Q.  The novel has great reviews—I’ve been enjoying my read of it!—how does it feel to hear from readers that they love your work?

A.  It feels incredible. When I started seriously pursuing my career as an author, I truly hoped that people would enjoy my stories. There are many reasons I love writing, but one of the biggest reasons I love it is because I genuinely love my stories. When I started receiving feedback from folks who enjoyed Night Bells, I was elated and filled with so much joy. Just knowing that I was able to provide someone with a great reading experience does my little author heart such good and gives it all those warm, fuzzy feelings. It gives me hope and motivation to keep up my writing and to put out more stories for my readers to enjoy. Before you’re published, writing can be a very solitary, sometimes lonely experience. When your book is published and available to the whole world, you become extremely vulnerable for a time. If people enjoy your book and review it and/or tell you about their thoughts…the story becomes a shared experience between readers and other readers and between the readers and the author. It’s a truly magnificent thing.

Q.  If you didn’t have writing as an outlet, what would you do instead? (P.S. I’d bake cookies all day. Heh, writing’s healthier).

A.  Hmmm. I have lots of hobbies, so I suppose I’d just stick with those but to an amplified sense. I do two separate types of martial arts (Hapkido and Taekwondo) and love my practice. I also love illustration, knitting, gaming, cooking, learning languages, and hiking. I suppose I’d just spend much more time doing those things if I couldn’t write. 🙂

Q:  When do you best love to write? Is there a time of day you feel most creative?

A:  Even though I don’t usually write at this time (due to familial obligations and other to-dos) my favorite time to write is at night. My mind is winding down from the day and the muse starts waking up. Lately, I’ve been making a point to write more at night, even if I can’t manage it every day. Usually, I end up writing in the morning or afternoon because of things I have going on at night (like martial arts, cooking, husband-time, etc.) Sometimes, though, I manage to scrape away some time for myself at night to sit in my office or at my netbook and get in a 2,000 word block of writing time. It’s great because my mind remains active when I finish and I get to go to sleep with thoughts of my characters and scenes tumbling around in my head.

Q:  What’s your next project?

A.  I have several projects “in progress” at the moment. The most immediate project, I suppose, is to publish my novella, The Dark Ship to Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and in print. I’m currently serializing it on Wattpad and would love to make it available to a wider audience once I’ve gotten it all polished up and shiny. After that’s done, I’m planning on publishing the first tale in my new series: Tales from Kirovna. After that’s done, I’m going to devote all my attention to the third (and final tale for the moment) Niflheim novel. I’ve got a lot on my publishing plate this year! There may even be a fourth project…but I’ll keep that to myself. 😉

Q:  What’s the first book you ever remember reading (or having read to you)?

A:  My parents read to me a whole lot, but I probably most strikingly remember my mother reading to me from the Precious Moments Bible Stories for children. Now, don’t think my brains are addled or anything, but I most often requested the story of “Cain and Abel”. Yeah, I know… (shamefully looks away). Other than that, I always loved having fairy tales read to me from two anthologies with elaborate, oil-painted illustrations. I still have them in my house and can’t wait to share them with my children one day!

Now for the silly questions…there had to be some, right?

Q:  Which do you prefer: monsters or mayhem? Feel free to share examples.

A:  Oh, I’d have to say monsters, hands-down. I was always particularly enchanted with the monsters in movies like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and The Muppets. In stories, my favorite monsters include Mogget from Sabriel by Garth Nix (I think he definitely qualifies…), Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and The Folk from The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley. Monster design has always been of interest to me in all forms of media. One of my favorite past-times is checking out concept sketches from movies, video games, and books for their monsters, characters, and settings.

Q.  In a cage match, who would win:  Chuck Norris or a team of three Ninjas?

A:  You have to ask? 😉

Q:  I’ll take that to mean you answered correctly: Chuck Norris. Heh. Okay, if you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you wish you had?

A:  Without a doubt, they would be: the Bible, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I know that it’s sort of cheating to have The Lord of the Rings listed as one book, but there are plenty of omnibus editions available, so I feel justified. These books have provided some of the most formative reading experience of my life and they are books I come back to over and over again without fail. They helped to shape my understanding of truth, the world, imagination, and life. If I had to be trapped on a desert island for the rest of my life, I would definitely pine after these precious tomes.

Great answers! Thanks so much for taking time to chat with us!

Thank you so much, Kendra! It has been a pleasure visiting your blog!

 

You can find Night Bells on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

You can find Silent Shades on AmazonSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble

Ornithophobia and a Murder of Crows

Howdy and welcome to this edition of Monsters and Mayhem, a place where we talk about the creepy, the weird, or things that go BANG!

This week I’m talking something that scares me beyond rational thought:

Birds.

Go ahead, laugh. It is pretty funny when you think about it. See, I’m not scared of parakeets, nor am I scared of big, gorgeous hawks or falcons. No, I’m scared of…pigeons. That’s right: I’m terrified of medium-sized birds. I’m not sure why I get so creeped out by them, but when a crow fixes it’s beady, little eye on me, I walk faster. I just have this mental image of it chasing me and pulling my hair and pecking at my eyes with its nasty, pointed beak. The very thought of Hitchcock’s movie The Birds–which I have never seen, and never will–gives me the heebie-jeebies. I mean, come on, a group of crows is called a murder! Not a flock–a murder.  Who comes up with this stuff if medium-sized birds are supposed to be normal?

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Try this on for size. One evening, at dusk, I left my office building and headed to the parking garage. The garage is dim even on sunny days, so at twilight, it’s pretty creepy. When I get to the second floor where my car is parked, I see them. Two dozen grackles (if you aren’t from Texas and have never seen a grackle, here’s a link — they are nasty birds. I mean, just look at that eye!) were perched on various cars all over the lot. They were cheeping at one another when I came out, but as I closed in, they all fell silent and watched me.  It took everything I had not to bolt for my car like a Hell hound was on my tail because I harbored a secret fear–I thought if I ran, they’d chase me for sure.

Yeah.

This may also explain why I scared myself silly writing about the Takers in Blade’s Edge. Winged, bird-like demons? ::hides::

Now the only problem I really suffered from the mob of grackles was a bunch of bird poop on my car, but I’m still just grossed out by the whole affair. Maybe I have a mild form or Ornithophobia. Who knows.  I love watching falconers work with their birds and adore the sight of hawks sailing over the prairie in spring. But when I took my kids to the zoo, my husband had to go into the bird feeder cage with them because I was not going in there. ::shudder::

How about you? Do birds bug you? Or is it snakes? Or spiders? Or how about soup cans? I truly believe all humans harbor at least one fear. I’ve shared mine — what are yours?

Has It Been Six Months Already?

Hey everyone and welcome to a special edition of Monsters and Mayhem!

matt_archer__monster_hunter_by_sweartoad-d5g5bbe

Matt Archer by Alex Baird

Six months ago, Matt Archer first appeared on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. Yep, our favorite monster hunter is half a year old. I can hardly believe it, to tell the truth–it seems like a much shorter period of time. There’s been a steep learning curve on my part, but it’s been a fun ride so far.  Here are a few milestones from the last six months:

  • Two books and one short story published. Monster Hunter came out in August 2012, Monster Summer (MA 1.5) came out in October 2012, and Blade’s Edge (MA2) released in late December.
  • First draft of MA3 is complete. The release is scheduled for summer 2013, probably in the July/August time frame.
  • MA4 is in the outlining/plotting stage and a Sekrit Project is also in the works.
  • Monster Hunter has sold more than 750 copies, 600 of those on Amazon.  The series as a whole has sold 1030+ copies (not including free downloads or promotional copies for bloggers).
  • Matt and I have been on three blog tours, several features as book of the day and experienced the magic of BookBub and eReader News Today.

Thus far, I’ve been very encouraged by the response to the books. Thanks to everyone for your reviews, encouragement, word-of-mouth and generosity. It’s been a huge help while I’ve been getting started. There are a ton of people to thank and if I tried to do it by name, the list would take a few pages, so just know I’m very thankful for my readers, re-tweeters, cheerleaders and Matt’s die-hard fans.

So what’s up for the next six months? Hopefully putting out MA3, starting the draft for MA4 and the Sekrit Project, and getting my serial novellas off the ground. But I think it’s safe to say I’m finding publishing a rewarding journey, and plan to keep going.  I hope you’ll join me and Matt as we forge ahead.

In the meantime, I’d like to offer some fun stuff on the blog and want your thoughts. If I were to interview a character, who would you want to hear from?  We talked to Matt and to Mamie during the blog tours, but I’m sure they’d be happy to answer more questions. Anyone else?  Is there a particular scene you’d like to see from another character’s point of view? If so, which one, and who’s head should we be in? Give me some ideas, and I’ll work them in.

Here’s to the next six months!

Got Zen?

Four months ago, I did a blog post about the new popularity of archery as a sport, particularly in schools.  Today, my 12-year-old son participated in the Texas State Archery tournament. There were some jitters involved with this, and the kid was nervous, too. : )  I’m happy to report that T performed very well, scoring a personal best 262 out of 300 (we’ll find out rankings and how his team did as a whole later). If you can’t tell, I’m one proud Mama!

Zen stones

But the jitters involved in competition brings me back to the post I did last Friday, about Pressure.  We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform, often in clutch situations. I’ve spent the last week thinking about that, and determined I need more Zen in my life. Stress is good for you in some respects, especially as a motivator, but too much isn’t a good thing. So, Zen.

Or, in the words of that great poet, Mr. Lebowski, “The Dude abides.”

This will sound weird, but I often find my Zen in the gym, especially at the end of a hard workout. There’s just something very centering about it. I do my best thinking on the elliptical, too. Sometimes, though, I’ll be in such a hurry that I’ll skip my workout to fill that hour with something else–usually something that will add to my stress, rather than remove it.  That’s also when I notice I’m crabby, easily freaked out and tired. Huh, pushing my body makes me less tired–odd, right?  

Over the next two months, I’m going to try to find my Zen in the gym five times a week. Y’all keep me honest, okay? Then I’ll let you know how I’m feeling in April.

How about you? What’s your Zen activity?

 

Pressure

Happy Friday Rambles, everyone. Today I’m talking about pressure.

Stress. Anxiety.  I have it.

Why, you ask? That’s simple:  The Matt Archer series is doing better than I expected, especially Blade’s Edge, which is getting really strong reviews.

And it’s scaring the hell out of me.

Doesn’t that sound totally counterintuitive? I’m doing well, so I’m stressed out? WTF, Kendra?

Even if it sounds stupid, I get why. I’ve learned enough about the business to be nervous now.  MA1 (Monster Hunter) flew from my fingertips with a ton of joy and the fun of discovery. It was the 4th novel I wrote (the other three will never, ever see the light of day) and I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Ignorance is bliss, right?

MA2 (Blade’s Edge) took a lot more work. I’d written a couple manuscripts between it and MA1, so I knew more about my craft and could see the flaws. I’d also gotten used to tough critique and sought out more this time.  The manuscript was torn from my soul with a pair of rusty pliers and bled onto the page like so much junk. Then I worked for months to clean it up—and it turned out better than I thought it might.

Much better.

Now I’m drafting MA3 (Title TBA), and I’m going through the same thing. Scenes I wrote a few years ago show their age. Scenes I wrote last week feel repetitive, derivative and stale.  Deep down I know there’s gold somewhere in the 90k+ words I’ve slapped on the page, but right now I’m worried it won’t measure up.

Here’s the thing…the story in MA3 is so much bigger, and MA4 will be bigger still. Some really epic crap is happening to Matt—and to Will, Mamie, Uncle Mike and Aunt Julie. Everyone is altered in some way by the end.  The question is…can I tell this story in a way so people will care?

The other issue is one of time. Can I write MA3 fast enough to meet the deadlines I’ve set for publishing it? I had a head start with the first two – they were drafted before I started down the road to publication. Now I’m writing against the clock and that adds its own pressure. I don’t want to turn out crap in a hurry, but I also don’t want people to wait a year  or more to find out what happens to Matt next. The benefit of self-publishing is that I can tell the story more quickly, without leaving readers hanging for ages before they get the next installment.  The flip side is that I have to write more quickly. I can’t agonize over a single sentence like a used to.  In some respects, that’s good. I’m getting more efficient.  In others, I’m having to fight for time to write and hope  it will be enough.

But it’s not all “woe is me” all the time—I love putting Matt into the world. I love hearing that people enjoyed the story. And thanks for the support y’all have given me on this journey. I know at some point I’ll pull my head out of its funk and things will be awesome again. I just have to have a moment of self-doubt every once in a while. But I’ll get past it–no one likes a whiner, anyway. :  )  

What gives me hope is a very simple fact from Earth Science in seventh grade:  How do you make a diamond?

Time and pressure.

 So how about you? Is there an endeavor that’s left you a little breathless, wondering if you’ll succeed? Or is there some mantra you think I need to try to get past my own doubts?

Climbing the Mountain

It may not last long, but I can call Matt Archer: Monster Hunter a bestseller…with a straight face. ::faints for a minute::  My fearless Matt made it all the way to #15 yesterday on the Kindle Teen Fiction list (currently I’m at #45, and by the time you read this, who knows if I’ll even be on the list). Granted, my sales will settle down from their spike, and I’ll slide  down the lists, but my hope is that I’ve gained some readers who will come back from more. 

How Matt leapt onto the Amazon Bestseller lists is easy pinpoint–I ran some strategic ads over the last week to gain exposure, and it worked. Why it happened, I think, is something else entirely.  And that’s because of you guys.

I’ve met some amazing people during the last few years by entering the writing community and I’ve built friendships, both local and long distance, via emailRock Climbing The Southwest, USA and Twitter. I’m always humbled by how much support I get from beta readers, friends and family.  Having that support in the form of reviews, retweets, word of mouth and general cheerleading often gave me courage in a tough, scary market.  Because, y’all, publishing books is like climbing a mountain. The top is steep, narrow and far, far away. To be successful, you have to face rocks slides and Yetis (and the occasional troll). So now I’m going to get mushy and say y’all are the anchors, the ropes and the hand holds that keep me from plunging off the mountainside.  (I know, I know…such mush! I’ll snap out of it soon, promise). 

So, thank you. And thanks from a certain monster hunter who’s currently being forced to return to school after a long hunt, where a host of problems await. (His creator tends to be kind of mean to him… :: evil cackle:: — see, I told you the mush wouldn’t last!)

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