Be Inspired.

....the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

I'm constantly in awe of our ability to create. Composers, writers, designers, artists, producers, actors, photographers. People who have a vision. People who have a dream. People who open our eyes to something unseen. That is amazing.

I'm inspired by these people. Daily.
By the story of love told with eyes, lips and hands through a photographer's lens.
By the haunting melody of a violin and the throbbing rhythm of a drum.
By words of hate, of love, of loss and of hope, all written as though they're blood pouring through a vein.. 

I'm inspired by life. Real, beautiful, horribly painful, never dull life.
My children's will to try again and again.
My husband's undying devotion.
My friends' passion for their craft.

I'm inspired by the life I've led. The life I live. And the life yet unseen.
My past. My present. My future.

I'm inspired by my demons, my fire within, my soul, my longing for more, my contentment with less.

What inspires you?

I'm working on an amazing and time-consuming project right now. I'm digging deeper than I ever have to make this, my #nola project, the most amazing story. It's my fire and my demons that fuel these characters and so I've found the perfect inspiration in these lyrics from one of the most beautiful songs I know. 
I hope these two lines tell you all you need to know about John, a man hell-bent on vengeance and me, a writer who's fueled by the flames within. I allow them to lick at my heels and show me the way, but I never let them run me. 

S-U-C-C-E-S-S tell me what it means to you

How do you define success?

Thanks to social media I am updated on my friends successes on a daily basis. Weddings, babies, job promotions, a new house, a new car, making a bestsellers list, inking a movie deal, a publishing deal, reaching weight loss goals, maintaining perfect hair... all of these fabulous things people crave in their lives. It's amazing to watch and take note of all the things we share with excitement. Especially when it comes to our professional goals and success. 

When I started writing my goal was simple. Write a book and find a reader. CHECK.
It didn't take long for the goal list to change. It went something like this:
1) Sell x amount of books a month. (It was started as a small #)
2) Raise that first # and change the goal to sell X dollars a month.
3) If I could make a bestsellers list now. Or win an award for my books.
4) Now I want a publishing deal. Oh, and how about an agent?
5) A movie deal please...can I be John Greene?
6) How about a theme park based on my book series? I think I'll be happy with that.

Wow! What in the heck happened? I just wanted to write a book and sell one copy!

Life happened. The little green monster within reared its ugly head (it happens to us all, wether we want to admit it or not) and said, "why not me?" We are bombared every day by our friends, by celebrities, or by the media to want more, get more, be more. You can make yourself crazy comparing yourself to others. Don't do it!

I'll be honest, I've had to knock myself on the head a few times and remind myself what my TRUE goals were, and still are, when it comes to writing. My manifesto (thanks to a class I took with Janet Wallace over the winter) became this...

My passion is writing stories that will make your heart both break and soar. I choose to tackle tough topics such as depression, self-harm, natural disasters, grief, and guilt because those are things real people go through. My desire is for my stories to offer a small ray of hope to readers who may be struggling in their lives.
My dedication for ‘Into The Fire’ says it all: To the ones in pain. Hold On. Life is beautiful and worth it and you are loved dearly.

Using the above manifesto as my compass, how do I define my success? Easy... I look at what my readers say.

- A mother who'd just read From The Wreckage wrote to me about how her daughter and friends were going to a football game last fall when there was severe weather in the area. She thought of my story and warned the girls what to do in case of an emergency. 

- A friend wrote to me after reading Into The Fire thanking me because they have someone close to them who cuts and reading Dani's story helped them feel a little bit of understanding as to what their loved one is going through.

- A recent reviewer said, "this book has really helped me emotionally as I am going through a rough time myself"

I've had messages thanking me for opening people's eyes to the devastation survivors feel after a natural disaster. I've had messages thanking me for taking something so taboo - self-harm - and handling it with such care so they can understand it. 

I've found success. It doesn't always come with fame and fortune. Sure, I want a production deal for a book series, and yes I would love to walk into Barnes and Nobles and find my books for sale. It's a good thing to want more, to reach for those "imposiible" pie in the sky dreams. But when all is said and done, I've found happiness and success with my writing because I've touched people's hearts and given hope. I've transported readers to another Kingdom or back to their highschool years where they could remember first love again.

I can look at my friends grand annoucements on their accomplishments, the ones I'm still striving for, and I can be happy for them. Sure, my jealousy might flare up for a moment as I write my 'way to go' post in reply, but that's okay. That's how I know I still have a #firewithin.