#youarenotalone: Jordan Elizabeth talks about depression and writing

Hey guys!

I know you haven’t heard from me in a while, and I’m terribly sorry for that. But life…

Anyway, today, Jordan Elizabeth, a fellow Clean Reads author, is guest posting on my blog today. Let’s give her a hearty welcome!

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I wouldn’t call myself a depressed person.  I wouldn’t call myself a sad person.  I have, though, struggled with depression and sadness in the past.  People always say to “let out your emotions through writing.”  When I’m sad, I’ve done that.  

My dog passed away nine years ago.  I was devastated.  At the time, she was my everything, and most days I found myself going through life with tears streaming down my cheeks.  I needed to express that emotion somehow, and yes, I did talk about it.  People said they understood what I was going through, and I’m sure they did – they too had lost beloved pets.  Their words didn’t help, though.  So, I sat down at my desk and started writing. 

I wrote about my grandmother, actually.  I had lived with her since I was 16 to help take care of her while she battled dementia.  The GOAT CHILDREN came about through my experiences with her.  Yes, much of it is fictionalized, but the emotion was there.  There were a lot of scenes I cut during the editing phase because they were too raw.  Rereading them brought all of that back. 

What does GOAT CHILDREN have to do with my dog?  Well, I gave the main character a little sister: Phebe.  Phebe was based off my dog.  At the end of the story, someone passes away, and I put all of my emotion over losing my dog into that.  I’ve had people tell me how the ending chapters made them cry because of all that emotion. 

Another time I wrote about sadness was when I broke up with my first official boyfriend.  That story is currently unpublished, but I shoved all that emotion into Tabitha breaking up with James, and I felt awesome about it.  I loved taking it all out on poor James.  Nah, he deserved it!

You’re probably wondering now what stories reflect my depression.

None of them.

I can’t write while depressed.  I close in on myself.  I ponder, and eventually I come out of it, but in the meantime, I can’t write anything.  The words are all stuck and emotionless.  Depression makes me numb.  I devote myself to marketing so that I know I’m still doing something, but it isn’t the same.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to write during my depressions, but in the meantime, I’ll write when I’m happy and when I’m sad, and if you cross me…well, you might show up someday as a villain.

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The Goat Children by Jordan Elizabeth

Thanks, Jordan. Have any of you experienced anything like this before? I have. Sometimes, it’s just hard to write. But there’s

always hope for brighter days ahead!

If you’re interested in learning more about THE GOAT CHILDREN, Jordan is running a Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale on it! Check it out on Amazon for 99¢.

 

 

 

More about Jordan:

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Jordan Elizabeth writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams. When she’s not creating art or searching for lost history in the woods, she’s updating her blog. Jordan roams Central New York, but she loves to travel.

Visit Jordan’s website and learn more about her!

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A new journey

May 31 marked the end of Booktrope, my publisher. We were all blindsided and hurt. Where do we go from here? There were lots of questions, few answers, and before we knew it, we were all scrambling to find places to republish or to self-publish again. Luckily, we all stuck together, and things seemed to transition somewhat easily as we made deals with our teams, etc. I won’t go into the mess that was for some, but I’m grateful my teams were awesome about everything.

In the end, I decided to self-publish my Entertaining Angels series again.

The decision didn’t come lightly. I was offered a place at a small press, but I decided that I didn’t want to be under a contract again at the moment. Why? That’s kind of hard to explain. See, I have big dreams for my books, bigger than I should be dreaming probably, but that’s okay. I’ve always loved a quote that said, “Dream so big that you look ridiculous if God doesn’t step in.” That’s what I’m doing. I’m dreaming so big and believing that God has a plan for me.

For I know the plans I have for you,”

I believe that God puts dreams in our hearts for a reason. We all have a purpose on this planet, and this is mine. My purpose is to spread God’s love through the written word. Maybe that’s not my sole purpose, but it’s one I can begin with.

I may look crazy after you guys read this post, but I’m done only half believing in myself and my dreams. I’m going full blast. Someway, I’ll make it. I’ll keep spreading the message of learning to love oneself, learning to see how God really sees you, and knowing that you are not alone, and it will be on a much larger scale. I’m daring to dream bigger.

Anyway, this blog post has sort of taken a strange turn. I never really meant to get into all of that, although I’m happy with holding myself accountable to my dreams. (And that’s why it hasn’t been removed in edits.)

What I wanted to say as well was that I’m working on republishing my books asap. They’re going through KDP publishing right now. Hopefully Amazon will have them available here. I’ll update this post when they do, as well as the one on Facebook.

Also, I’ve ordered proof copies of my paperbacks today, so it will still be at least a week before you can purchase them again. And yes, I said them. I’m doing a paperback for Before We Say I Do, which is unconventional for a short story BUT I did have people wanting them before. I know people like to have hard copies of series (I do!), so I wanted that option available.

As far as Delivered by Angels goes…well, I’m hoping for June 14 as its release day still, but I’m waiting on a full jacket cover and the layout for the book itself. And the jacket can’t happen without layout.

So I’m praying it will all work out the way  it’s supposed to. Keeping to a date is not a huge deal, but I am ready for you guys to have it in your hands!

Stay tuned for more as the after-Booktrope journey continues!

UPDATE: I now have buy links; everything is up to date except for the covers though. :/  I’ve contacted Amazon. We’ll see what happens in the next few days, but the interior is correct if you want to buy it now. 😉

Entertaining Angels

Before We Say I Do

 

Guest Post: Trading Lies for Truth

Hey guys! Today, we have a special post from Shelly McGraw. I just love Shelly! She is such a sweetheart, and I’m excited about her guest post today. She wrote on how we compare ourselves to others and how when we do that, we’re trading the truth for lies.

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Comparisons.  We all do it.

I do it.

I struggle not to automatically compare my writing to someone’s clever, funny, well-written blog post that has an unbelievable amount of hits and 5 gazillion shares and comments.

“Wow. Compared to them, my blog should be used as an example of how not to write.”

I do it when I meet someone who (at a size zero) says they cut soda from their diet for 4 months and lost 10 pounds as a result.

“Umm…they were already super thin. And, just where did those 10 pounds come from, her hair? I mean, come on. I don’t drink soda at all. Like ever. Why can’t I lose 10 pounds?

And the list of examples could go on and on.

But then, one day, one of my friends invited me over to her house to chat while our kids played. Her house is beautiful, she’s intelligent, kind, and her kids are adorable. While sitting in her kitchen she said,

“I’m a little jealous of you. You seem to have it all together… You have such a positive attitude…I look up to you, actually.”

I was stunned. She can’t possibly be talking about me!

It was in that moment that I realized what she was doing…and what I’ve been doing…and what EVERYONE is doing.  We are trading the truth for lies.

TradingLiesfortheTruth

The truth is, I’m just like her. I don’t have anything together. I’m trying to homeschool three daughters, while serving in ministry, while writing everyday, while doing other things needed to survive like eat, sleep, and make sure my kids don’t kill themselves or each other.

The truth is, I don’t always have a good attitude. Yesterday, I was telling off an outfit in a dressing room of a store because a top didn’t fit the way I wanted it to.

I was yelling at a shirt. A SHIRT.

The truth is, I struggle with an endocrine disorder that wreaks havoc on my body, causing a whole host of symptoms that I fight with daily. What I do have is coffee, worship music, a kind husband who loves me the way I am, and Jesus.

The truth was, my friend was only looking at the surface of my life, thinking that was all there was to see.

I do the same thing. All. The. Time.

The truth is, the blog that has a bazillion followers has been publishing posts for a long time and their writing is amazing. They deserve it.

I wasn’t there when they spent many late nights typing away instead of sleeping, fretting over font colors, or sweating as they wait for a literacy agent to decide if they have something worth publishing.

I wasn’t there when they first started out, drooling over other people’s writing while wondering if they’ll ever be that good.

All I see is what they are now.

And, what about that thin beauty that cut out soda? It’s great that she cut out soda. Maybe she has health problems and she had to start making drastic changes to her diet.  I should’ve asked her. Shame on me for not just being happy for her.

The only thing I should compare, is my life before Jesus and my life now.

I’ve lived through some really tough times, made stupid mistakes, and experienced painful seasons that seemed like they’d last forever. Jesus has redeemed all of my past and has given me a future. Why do I allow the world and my emotions to blind me from how far God has brought my life?

I need to compare how I’m using my life to serve Jesus now from how I didn’t serve Him years ago. My focus should be on Jesus, trading the lies that the enemy whispers into my ear for the truth of the Gospel.

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. ~2 Corinthians 10:12-13

So, the next time I find myself comparing my writing, my body, or yelling at inanimate objects, I’m going to take a deep breath and trade all of those lies for the truth.

 

About Shelly McGraw

profilepicShellyMcGrawShelly has a heart for discipleship and spiritual growth, writing weekly devotions for the purpose of equipping the Body of Christ to better serve and follow Jesus. Her encouraging yet thought-provoking devotions are a mix of testimonies, struggles, joys, praises, and everyday life that are full of grace and wisdom.

She has been involved in ministry for over 15 years, serving mostly in worship, youth, and missions. She currently serves in worship at Redemption Church Charlottesville (RCC) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Shelly and her husband, Jason, have three beautiful daughters that they homeschool.

 

Connect with Shelly McGraw

www.shellymcgraw.com

Facebook: Lessons of Grace and Wisdom

Twitter: @shellymcgraw

Instagram: shellymcgraw

Email: shellymcgraw.ministries@gmail.com

Goals and a Writing Update

I’m not getting much done. lol I’m kidding. I’ve written a short story, started a new book, plotted out that new book (which is a HUGE deal considering I’m a glorified pantser and procrastinator), and I’m about to start edits on Entertaining Angels Book Two, Delivered by Angels (coming April or May of this year!!)!

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It’s been a busy 2016 for me so far, but I’m grateful for that. I could be busier (and if you need a proofread, hit me up. I need some work.), but I’m just thankful that I’m reaching my goals, slowly but surely.

See, by the end of the year, I hope to have finished writing two books and published two books, so that will be four (or five, if you add that short story in the mix somewhere) books of mine that will be published or finished and ready for editing. Those are my goals. Goals sometimes get lost in the mix, but that’s okay. I just want to make sure that someone holds me accountable. I suppose I’m holding myself accountable by writing this post…

I also hope to branch out with the #loveyourself and #youarebeautiful hashtags. What does that mean? I’m not entirely sure yet, but I want to do more with it, and I want to get you involved. Because, we’ve established this before, it’s more than a hashtag, it’s a way of living. And I have some ideas on how we can spread this message.

If you see my posts on any of my social media sites, these hashtags are turning into inspirational/motivational messages, but I want to know what they mean to YOU. So, I have a few ideas brewing in my mind regarding what to do regarding that. I wish I would have thought about this sooner, especially for the month of February since it’s the “month of love”, but loving yourself isn’t exclusive to one month. It’s for every month, every day, every hour.

Okay, so this post wasn’t meant to be solely about loving yourself, but it’s important to remember.

I won’t keep you guys, but I wanted to give you a quick update about what’s going on. Keep your eyes peeled for what’s coming up involving that hashtag and more!

To be one of the first to know about what’s coming up, consider joining my street team, newsletter, or follow my blog!

 

A Year in Review…What I learned about books and marketing.

I’ve learned a lot about being an author. Even after three years of doing this, there is still a whole lot I didn’t know. (So, basically, this is just geared towards my author friends and those interested in what I’ve learned as an author.)

One thing is that I never expected to end up where I am currently, a published author through Booktrope/Vox Dei Publishing, and let me tell you, it’s been a fantastic journey and learning experience.

What does that mean?

It means that when I first met my team at Vox Dei, I never expected to get a fantastic book (and project) manager who would help me realize that I was doing marketing all wrong. Yikes, right? As an author, that’s something that you don’t want to hear, but it was true. I was doing everything wrong, and I apologize to my readers for that.

My blog was – well – rather boring. I thought I didn’t have time to properly blog, so I helped out a lot of other authors by copy and pasting ready to go html posts. That wasn’t engaging, and as much as I loved helping other authors, I realized that I was getting lazy in my blogging.

Am I still a bit lazy in posting? Probably, but I have been swamped here lately with work. Is it an excuse? Nah, but I’m using it anyway. 😉 Still, I’d rather not post than post something that wasn’t going to engage my audience in some way. 🙂

That’s just one example of what I’ve learned. My Twitter account and Facebook page were boring as all get out. It was basically just a bunch of “buy my book” posts. It wasn’t showcasing me as a person. It was showcasing my book, and frankly, I believe that people will rather know about me than about my books – or at the very least my platform, which is #loveyourself and #youarebeautiful. It’s something that is dear and near to everyone at the moment. It’s about loving yourself and living a happier, positive life.

And that’s another thing. My platform. I had never really thought about it until I wrote Entertaining Angels, and then I didn’t even really focus on it as much as I should have until it was publishing through Booktrope. It wasn’t until someone pointed it out to me that I needed to really decide on what I wanted my focus to be. And what was that? Loving yourself. It’s about learning to be happy with who you are as a person. It’s what I want others to think about when they see my name. “Hey. There’s that author who wants me to love myself.” And I do. I really do. I want you to look past that reflection and honestly see the person looking back and say, “Hey. I love you. No matter my “flaws”. I love you.”

I’m trying really hard not to take a tangent into my “love yourself” speech since I’m talking about being an author.

In all honesty, the point I was that in learning all of this, I had to learn how to market myself and not my books. I don’t want to be faceless anymore. I want people to know the real me, and if that sells books, then great. But if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the friendships that I’m forging, and the amazing people that I meet on a daily basis. You guys are the reason why I do what I do. You’re the reason I no longer want to hide behind a book I’ve written. I want people to see me (and coming from a shy girl, this is saying a whole lot) and understanding that I’m not doing this for the fame and glory (or lack thereof at the moment). I’m doing what I do for YOU.

That probably sounds cliched and mushy, but it’s true. I write books to help others. Even though I haven’t written inspirational novels up to this point, they have always been for the simple fact of being entertaining, which is for someone else. Now, they’ve changed some, but what remains is the fact that I wrote it help someone. And now, I can do that from in front of the book and not behind it.

My year has been a great one. I’ve learned so much, and I hope to bring what I’ve learned into 2016 to make it even better.

Guest Post: In His Likeness by Becki Brannen + Review of Breathless

Y’all! I’m super excited to have Becki Brannen on my blog today! She’s touring her book, Breathless, releasing through Vox Dei (my publisher) today! I’m so glad that she’s here. I read her book, Breathless, as an advanced reader, and I LOVED it! So, along with her guest post I’ll be sharing my review at the end.

In His Likeness

Becki Brannen

Well, the results are in–I’m not perfect. I’ve gone through thirty-four years on this earth and I’m still not there yet. The good news is, God doesn’t expect me to be sinless and perfect. Jesus, who died for my sins, is the only one to has walked the earth without sin. And yet, despite my sins and my flaws, God still loves me. He loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for my sins. The mercy in that action brings me to my knees in tears. Here I am, a flawed person stained with sin, but the price of that sin has already been paid. What an amazing God we serve!

A lot of nonbelievers seem to think we, as Christians, are supposed to be perfect, and hold us to the standard of not casting stones. Maybe some of us act like we’re holier than thou, but truthfully, we’re simply not. We should strive to be Christ-like, but God knows we won’t achieve a life without sin.

It is because we are not and cannot be without sin that I create flawed characters in my books. Each of them makes some mistakes along the way, because that’s real life. I feel it’s only honest to show the flaws that are so inherent to human nature. I like my characters to feel a little more real. On paper, the flaws seem reprehensible. In Breathless, Ryan’s a liar. Carly breaks a promise she made to God. Her parents are judgmental. His parents, well… they might be perfect. 😉

Look past the flaws, and you’ll see who they really are–Ryan’s an amazing guy who falls completely and irrevocably in love with Carly. He wants to love and be loved, to be cherished, to be wanted for who he is, not his celebrity status. Carly has an altruistic heart, looking always to see the good in others, even when she can’t see it within herself. God didn’t make Ryan and Carly (assuming they’re real, of course) to be perfect; He made them perfectly themselves, flaws and all.

For while we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, we aren’t perfect. That’s okay, because God made us in His own image. He made us knowing we’re sinners. He sent His Son to die for us, even though we could never deserve such a gift. He loves us even when we fall. He made us perfectly His, and that sounds pretty perfect to me.

Review:

Breathless will leave you – breathless!

Carly doesn’t have time for romance, and Ryan, as a famous movie star, wants something that is deeper and more passionate than one night stands. When Carly has a bad asthma attack, Ryan is the only one who sees, and he rushes her to the hospital. Posing as her husband, he spends all night and day with her. And what happens when she wakes up? She doesn’t know who he is. It’s refreshing, so he lies to her about who he really is. What ensues is a whirlwind romance that will leave you feeling breathless!

I loved that the characters were flawed. They dealt with very raw, very human emotions, but they also were redeemed in the end. They realized their sins and their mistakes and asked God for forgiveness. We all deal with being human, and I think Becki Brannen touched on this topic wonderfully. Her characters are human, but just like God, they learn to forgive and be forgiven.

I loved the romance between the two characters, and although it moved too quickly for me – someone who has dealt with trust issues over and over again and doesn’t like fast moving relationships – the story was still romantic and kept me up late at night reading.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves chick lit, flawed characters, and a redemption story of forgiveness.1782407_1093277034021233_2221739434324767176_o

About Breathless
What happens when an ordinary girl meets the man of
everyone’s dreams?

Keeping secrets is never easy, especially since Ryan
Spalding is on the cover of every magazine and this
year’s “Hottest Hunk under 30.” Good thing busy
lawyer Carly Sparks is so out of the loop when it
comes to celebrity affairs, or she’d realize she was in
one!

Leading man Ryan Spalding tempts Carly Sparks in
ways she’s only ever seen in the movies. She’s drifted
away from a promise she made to God as a teenager,
but Carly must rely on her faith when her relationship
with Ryan is put to the test. Will it be enough to keep
them together, or will theirs be just another failed
Hollywood romance?

8538024About Becki Brannen
Becki Brannen is a thirty-something writer born and raised in
the heart of Georgia. Her debut novel, Breathless, is the result
of NaNoWriMo 2011, having been written in just twenty-nine
days. Becki primarily writes “chick lit with a Christian twist,”
marrying one of her favorite genres with her Christian faith.
Her life verses are Jeremiah 29:11 and Isaiah 41:10. Becki and
her husband have twin daughters and a poodle, Sophie.

What does it mean to be an “author”?

Seriously. Can anyone tell me, because I seem to have mixed ideas.

Okay, it may help if I start from the beginning. See, as you all know, I signed my Entertaining Angels series with Vox Dei Publishing. I’ve been working on edits and proofs these past few days as I get ready to republish Entertaining Angels come April. As I was dealing with deadlines and the like, I thought, Man, this is what it must feel like to be a real author. Did I seriously just think that? I did, and I was disgusted with myself.

Why should there be limits put on how we see ourselves as authors? If you wrote a book and published it, you’re an author. You don’t have to have a publisher, or be traditionally published, for you to be able to label yourself as an “author”. Did you write a book? Yes. Did you have your book edited? I hope so. Did you have it proofread? I really hope so. If you said, yes to all of the above, then you’re an author.

author definition
Google definition

 

But still, we put ourselves in boxes, much like we do everything else in our lives. We feel like we have to do things a certain way in order to be considered a “real author”. There are people who are going to disagree with me on this, and that’s okay. I just think with the way the publishing industry has changed, we should be able to change our thoughts with it.

When people ask me what it is I do, I always tell them I’m a writer, but why can’t I call myself an author? Why can’t I say “Hey, I authored that book.”? Because I’m scared of the label. I’m afraid that people won’t see me as “real” author.

writer definition
Google Definition

 

I’ve been writing books since before I published Piercing Through the Darkness in 2011. I guess in 2011, I’ve been “authoring” books. 😉 I’ve put my dreams to good use, and I’ve published them.

I do things to support me financially (proofreading), but being an author is more than a hobby to me. It’s something I can seriously see myself being able to do as a full-time career in the near future. It’s something I’m working towards, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t call myself an “author” now. I wrote books. I published those books, and I’m seeing it through. It’s about time that I started calling myself an author.