The First Day of My New Life 

Anything could happen at any moment. You could get laid off from the job you thought you could count on, you could go on a date with a stranger who you end up falling in love with, you could get into a tragic car accident, you could win a huge sum of money, you could put yourself out there at the interview or the audition or with a new book or album, you could lose everything, you could lose everything, you could gain everything. The universe is infinite, and everything is temporary. Certainty is (as my friend, Brian Perry says) a myth. 

This is always true, but most of the time, we at least have the illusion of certainty. If there's one thing 2020 has done, though, it's shatter that illusion. 

Friday was my last day at my full-time day job. It seemed fitting that we were in this weird state of limbo as a nation last week, not knowing which way the election would go. It mirrored my own life, how I didn't exactly know what would happen next. 

I am immensely grateful for my time in that job. I have learned a great deal and grown tremendously, both personally and professionally. But much like we are turning the page as a nation to step into a new era, it's time for a new chapter in my own life. 

I have always known I wanted to be an artist, a storyteller, specifically a writer. I used to write plays when I was 7 years old and have the neighbors perform them on my driveway. I recently found boxes filled with notebooks and binders full of poetry, novels, stories, screenplays, and plays in the closet of my old bedroom at my parents' house. I have been writing plays, novels, screenplays, songs, and poems for almost 30 years. 

I have been seriously pursuing a career as an author since 2012 when I got my MFA in Creative Writing. Since that time, I have gone through many ups and downs: signing with a literary agent, seeing one of my plays on a professional stage, being on submission with the novel of my heart, studying with amazing NYT Bestselling authors, parting ways with my agent, becoming an indie author, and most recently, having a book published by a small press. I have been pursuing this career on the side of my other work, my day job. 

A little over two weeks ago, I decided to leave my day job. It's time to pour everything into my author career. 

This is a risk. While I have started making more money with my books over the last few months, I'm still not making "quit your day job" money, and I've lined up some freelance work to help me get by until I am making a living with my books. But I feel called to put my entire self into trying to be a successful author, a career author. And I believe I can do it 100%. 

I don't expect to be J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, but there are a ton of independent authors making a decent living, and I know I can be one of them. 

Will I have to work another day job in the future? Quite possibly. I have no idea what's going to happen. I do know one thing, though. I will never stop telling stories, and I will never stop pursuing a career as an author. No matter what happens.

No one knows what the future will hold. On New Year's Eve last year, I don't think anyone had an accurate idea of what 2020 would bring. But as I step into this new chapter, I am optomistic. I have hope. 

There's a song I used to always sing with the worship team at Unity North AtlantaI follow my vision, I follow it through. I change, I grow, I make myself new. And I follow my vision, I follow it through. 

So I'm stepping into this new chapter with that song in my heart.

Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Authors, readers, and bloggers are uniting again his year to fight stigma, spread mental health awareness, and support the prevention of suicide. To encourage participation, we're giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and a Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day t-shirt to one lucky winner.

Two kinds of stigma continue to persist: public stigma and self-stigma. Public stigma occurs when other people view a person with a mental illness in a negative way. Public stigma feeds into self-stigma when people with mental illness internalize the negative talk they hear from others. 

Well-meaning people say things like, "Suck it up," "Choose to be happy," "Turn that frown upside down," or "Focus on your blessings," as if mental illness were a mood, a frame of mind, or an attitude that can simply be overcome at will. 

Often, people who suffer from mental illness blame themselves instead of seeking help. Just as a diabetic needs insulin, a person with mental illness may need treatment. 

People who contemplate suicide don't want to die; they just can't fathom how to live because they are so miserable. They can't see past their pain and misery, and they see no point in going on.

According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, "Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds." 

IASP explains that "[e]very life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviour. Suicidal behaviour includes suicide, and also encompases suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide." 

If you're contemplating suicide, please don't do it! Instead, seek help. You might be suffering now, but you never know what tomorrow brings. Reach out to a friend or family member. See a doctor. If that doctor doesn't help, try another. Please don't give up. 

If you're in crisis, please reach out to the toll-free hotline in your region. You can find your hotline here: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/. 

If you are grieving the death of a victim of suicide and need help, here are resources that can help: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Postvention/National_Suicide_Survivor_Organizations/. 

If you suspect that someone you know may be contemplating suicide, please reach out. We often hesitate because we're afraid we might make things worse by saying the wrong thing. According to IASP, "Evidence suggests that this is not the case. The offer of support and a listening ear are more likely to reduce distress, as opposed to exacerbating it." 

Warning signs to look for include severe anxiety, agitation, hopelessness, rage, feelings of being trapped, a strong urge for vengeance, engaging in risky activities, excessive alcohol and/or drug use, withdrawing from people, trouble sleeping, and dramatic mood changes.

My Story

I've struggled with depression and anxiety since I was about 12 or 13, and while I've never actually attempted suicide, there were definitely times when I was so depressed I didn't want to live.

My depression and anxiety is manageable now but only because I take psychiatric medication and see a therapist regularly. There is no shame in admitting that you need help.

If you struggle with mental illness, please reach out for help. There are so many resources that will allow you to get help if you are open to it.

No matter what's going on in your life, it's temporary. And suicide is permanent. There's nothing you can't overcome with the right help. So don't be afraid to ask for it.

The Tour

Book lovers from all over the world have joined together to share their stories and spread mental health awareness. Please follow this tour guide to find our posts and to enter our giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and a Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 t-shirt: 

P.D. Workman, Author 

Triple A Book Blog 

Jessica Burkhart, Author 

Here Is What I Read Blog 

Crossroad Reviews 

Jazzy Book Reviews 

Book Corner News and Reviews 

I Love Books and Stuff Blog 

Luv Saving Money 

Debbie Manber Kupfer, Author

Ash Ineski, Author

Allie Burton, Author 

Book Butterfly in Dreamland

Tawdra Kandle, Author 

Quinn Loftis, Author 

Kat's Indie Book Blog 

Day Leitao, Author 

Steph Weston, Author 

Lanie Bynum, Author 

L.B. Carter, Author 

Holly and Mistletoe 

Eva Pohler, Author

 

The Giveaway

From September 1-10, enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and a Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day t-shirt. There are lots of ways to enter below--choose one or all. You can also tweet daily for extra entries. We'll email the winner by September 11th.

Enter the giveaway

Other Ways You Can Help

1. On September 10th at 8 p.m. your time, light a candle to remember all those we have lost to suicide and to represent the hope of preventing suicide. People all over the world will be participating. You can send an ecard in 63 different languages to invite others to participate. Find the ecards here. 

2. Purchase a Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 for $20. For every shirt sold, five dollars is donated to the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Order yours here. 

3. Spread the word about this giveaway, to encourage more people to read our posts and tweet about overcoming stigma. Use the share buttons at the bottom of this post, and 

Click to tweet: #EntertoWin a $50 #giftcard and #Tshirt while fighting #stigma and spreading #mentalhealthawareness for #suicideprevention #WSPD.

Other Resources

Here are videos on suicide and mental helath that I have found to be helpful: 

The Bridge Between Suicide and Life 

You're Still Here: Living After Suicide 

This Is for All of You in a Dark Place 

Suicide Is Preventable

Also, I did a video several years ago about Tips for Writers With Depression

Special thanks to author, Eva Pohler, for putting this together!

The Shadow Vampires Trilogy 

In February of 2019, I published Into the Shadows, the first book in The Shadow Vampires Trilogy. Then my life blew up when I was in the middle of writing the second book. I was finally able to get back to it though, and I am thrilled to announce I will be releasing the sequel, Until the Night Falls, on December 29, 2020 and it is currently available for pre-order. I have also re-released Into the Shadows with a new cover--making it available on Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Google Books, Kobo, and other retailers in addition to Amazon.

Download Into the Shadows from my website.

Download Into the Shadows from your favorite retailer.

Pre-order Until the Night Falls from your favorite retailer.

The third and final book in the trilogy, Out of the Darkness, will be released in Spring of 2021. Stay tuned for more information about that!

Ever since I read Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice when I was 15, I have absolutely been in love with all things vampire. Lost Boys, Dracula, True Blood, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries... I love them all! So I have been super excited to finally tell my own vampire stories.

Here's the description for Into the Shadows:

Chloe Chastain thought the mysterious stranger from the internet was just another obsessed fan of her favorite vampire books, and she grew close to him, letting him see into her soul. When she discovered that he was the actual dangerous vampire, Theodore Dupont, the protagonist of her favorite books, she vowed to forget him. 

After an encounter with her childhood bully goes horribly wrong, she knows Theodore is the only one she can turn to for help, and she travels to New Orleans to find him. As she learns all about the world of the vampires and her role in it, she tries to resist her connection with Theodore, but she's not even sure if she wants to anymore. 

When she finds out how much is at stake for not only Theodore and herself, but the entire New Orleans supernatural community, she's forced to make an impossible choice.

Readers have called it "fast-paced, can't put it down action and romance" and a "brilliant first book in a new series." I had a blast writing it, and I can't wait to be able to share the rest of Chloe and Theo's journey.

 

 

Thank you for a great release week! 

Last Tuesday, my first traditionally published book, Time After Time, was released from The Parliament House press. The release went really well, and I had so much fun writing my guest post about ten 80s tunes I love and also doing an interview for The Parliament House's YouTube channel.

Thank you so much to everyone who bought a copy or shared about my book or just offered me your support. (Especially thanks to Julie Boniger who put together a surprise Zoom party to celebrate my book release!)

Here is the description for the book:

Megan Gallagher has only ever seen her mother as neurotic and overworked. 

When a Whitney Houston song at the 80s dance sends Megan back to 1987, she discovers her teenage mom dressed in all black and sneaking liquor in the bathroom. After preventing her mom’s drunk car accident, Megan realizes she has one month to get her teenage parents to stop partying, and learn enough about her family's secret to get back home. Too bad the much cuter teenage version of her history teacher is such a distraction. With time running out and her future at stake, Megan must learn that, when it comes to family, you can't always get what you want, but you might just get what you need.

You can find the book at your favorite retailer here.

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