October 31, 2023

Do You Write? Then You're A Writer!

Julie & Julia is one of my favorite comfort movies. In the beginning of the film, Julie says to her husband, “You’re not a writer unless someone wants to publish you.”


You’re a writer if you write.


That doesn’t mean you have to be writing all the time, either.

You’re still a writer when you’re blocked.

You’re still a writer when your burned out.

You’re still a writer when you choose to take a break.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a writer is “one that writes,” which should say one “one who writes,” but you get it.

Another definition is that a writer is someone who “expresses ideas in writing.”

No matter which definition you choose, all of them say the same thing…that a writer is a person who writes.

“Published” is never mentioned.

Publishing Depression


For years I fought to get a single thing published. I sent out query letters and received only rejections. Nothing with any substance, either, to let me know what I did wrong. During that time, I kept on writing, though, and completed four books in a series. Still nothing. Not even a shred of hope.

I always read tips from agents telling unpublished writers to build their credentials, as if we aren’t trying to, and get stories published in magazines, as if it’s easy. To this day, I still haven’t had a story published in a print magazine. Although, I must admit I haven’t tried in a very long time, but when I did, nothing. However, there’s other markets out there, such as online magazines. So, I submitted flash fiction pieces to many of them, and still got rejections. Over time, though, I managed to publish a couple of poems and a few flash fiction pieces, one of which was published in a PDF anthology and is listed on Goodreads. Those accomplishments thrilled me and gave me something to put in my bio in query letters, but rejections continued to pour in.

Close to giving up, I had an epiphany. Perhaps I needed a different story to break into the publishing industry. That was when I thought of Hurricane Crimes, and I started to write it on Christmas Day 2012. That wasn’t the end to my struggles, though. Oh no. In many ways, it was just the beginning. The beginning of the road to a lot of good, and the beginning to some of my worst days.

Below is an entry from my journal, bad writing and all. Why am I sharing it with you? Because I hope it’ll demonstrate that you’re not alone, that some of the thoughts you may be having or troubles you may be experiencing, I had, too. Also, to show you that I got past them, and so can you.

August 8th 2013,

I have been feeling really depressed all during July.

This is from a message I sent my best friend:

“…but I’m not optimistic. Nothing ever works out for me. I know, I know, gotta be positive, but I got in a very depressed state today. I feel like a freaking thirteen-year-old! I’m just so aggravated. It’s been five years since I’ve moved to [city name] and nothing (and I mean nothing!) has changed for me. I’m tired of it! I don’t want to be in this situation much longer. So, God needs to hurry things along! [… ] I’m done with people thinking I’m a bump-on-the-log because I don’t have a job or go to school. I’m over my family not understanding my situation. I’m just over it! I don’t know how much more I can feel like a failure at this point and at this stage of my life.”

I’m cutting into my journal entry to say this: I bet you’re thinking I was being rather whiny, huh? Reading that back now, I’m definitely thinking it, but that time of my life had been tough. Every day my circumstances wore me down more and more—the fact that I couldn’t work due to a back disability but couldn’t actually get approved for disability, and how my loved ones treated me. My insecurities were at full swing then, too. Actually, that was the most insecure period of my life. Something my father said to me during his visit stuck with me, which was the same visit where I met my stepmother for the first time. During lunch, he asked me, “Are you still being a bump-on-the-log?” He said it with a light tone, but the words replayed in my head for weeks after that. My father knew my manuscript for Hurricane Crimes was being considered by the senior editor of The Wild Rose Press and how I was fighting to get disability, so his question and that phrase hurt me. Those words contributed to my emotional state at that time.

Now back to my journal entry:

I was so depressed that day that I didn’t even bother checking my email at night before I turned off my computer. Earlier I had checked the old email from the editor from The Wild Rose Press to see how much longer I had to wait [for a decision] and was very depressed to realize I’d have to wait until September for an answer. Well, the next morning, I found I had an email from the editor, which was sent the night before. I started to panic, thinking it was a denial. It wasn’t! She offered me a contract! And this is a bigger deal than the other stories I’ve published because this is with a [real publisher]. I will get to work with editors and cover artists. And it’ll be sold as an eBook.

I signed the contract July 28th!

Oh, the excitement of a first-time published author. If you haven’t experienced that joy yet, I hope you do.

I thought this journal entry would benefit you in showing that even in your hardest, darkest moments there will be a light at the end, and that when you’re so desperate you demand for something to happen, there’s a strong chance that it will, sooner than you realize.

But when hopes and dreams come true, new stresses can emerge and tough times can be on the way. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for your dreams or hope for things because hardships will continue to come. Hardships are a part of life, but we can get through them. Each and every time.

August 15th 2013,

I am very stressed! I’ve learned so much about promotion that it’s tumbling from my ears! Not only do I have to promote my eBook when it’s published world-wide on The Wild Rose Press’s website [and on other vendors], I also have to promote my eBook when it comes out on Kindle three months before and when it’s free for five days. But I am glad I am learning all of this now. It’ll prepare me for when I get an agent and publish [print books] traditionally.

I got so stressed out in November of that same year (as well as October and December 2013) that I wasn’t eating and drinking properly. I lost six pounds and came close to dehydration. Let my mistakes be a word of warning for you. Please, please, please take care of yourself. I started to feel sick because of it. When it’s time for you to publish your first book, don’t be afraid (or too stubborn) to ask for help, take a breath, relax, pause to eat a healthy meal and drink water. Your health is much more important than your book’s release. It’s true.

The great thing is, following that stress and the release of my first eBook, a lot of good things started happening, especially with my blog. A simple nomination for a blog award from another blogger lifted my spirits and made my day. Positive comments and feedback and being mentioned in another author’s blog for my efforts to help other writers boosted my confidence and happiness as well. Those things may seem small, but when you are in the midst of a pain that no one can see and no one knows about, it means everything.

During that time, mixed in with these lovely milestones and acknowledgements that made my heart burst, I was going through one of the worst depressions of my life due to disability and poverty.

October 27, 2023

I’m Dead / Vlog / Ghost of Death


Last year, I recorded this short video. I really had to pull out my acting chops for this one. This is Jolie’s monologue in the beginning of Ghost of Death. Ghost of Death is a short story that’s always $0.99!

I’m Dead

Length: 1:13

BLURB: Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can…by stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.

Length: 35 Pages (short story eBook)

Genre: Paranormal mystery

Heat Rating: Mild (kissing)

Content Warning: strong language, murder, death

EBOOKs $0.99: Nook / Kobo / iTunes Google Play / Scribd / Amazon

REVIEW: The Story Graph / BookBub / Goodreads

QUESTION: Do you like short stories? Do you like eBooks that are just $0.99? Do you like ghost stories? Well, check out Ghost of Death! 👻 

October 24, 2023

Disability and Poverty Depression


The year 2014 was difficult for me. So much uncertainty, insecurity, sadness, and helplessness. I didn’t know what to do. I felt lost and scared. It was a time of questions: would I get approved for disability, would I be homeless, would I have food to eat? It was also a time of the worst money situation I’d ever lived through.

The below entries from my journal are personal, giving you a peek into my despair and lowest moments.

April 7th 2014,

I got a letter from social security about my [disability] case. It mentioned sending in more information to help my case, so I emailed my volunteering log, pain log, and educational transcripts to my attorney. I called her today, but she said she’d have to call me back tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully, the social security decision will be favorable or my court date will be scheduled soon. I’m scared because I’m afraid the judge will say, “No.” If the judge does, I won’t know what to do. My life is practically in his/her hands. If I get approved, my life will literally change. And for the better. That’s what I need. Otherwise, I’m going to remain stuck in my life.

Mom and I were talking about dreams, and I told her about my dreams. It’s nice talking about dreams, but afterward, it makes me feel depressed because I’m worried my dreams won’t ever come true. I hope they do…

April 9th 2014,

Yesterday I got an email from my attorney basically saying that since I don’t have medical evidence from a doctor that I can’t work that my case will be hard to prove and the judge will most likely deny it. […]

When I read her email, it felt as though my whole life crumbled at my feet. I could see all of my dreams falling from the sky. I literally felt defeated. I cried. And not the pretty kind of crying. The snot-running-from-your-nose-non-stop kind of crying.


There’s just been so much bad luck in my life recently. I really need something good, something amazing, to happen.

During this time, my dreams were really up in the air, and soon my sense of security vanished. Every single day I was stressed and full of worry. I didn’t know where to look for relief, because relief couldn’t be found anywhere. There’s a saying “one thing after another.” That’s exactly what this was. One hardship after another. One more thing to try to break me.

Break, I did.

Happy HalloREAD!!! What I Do For Trick-Or-Treaters


Last year, I gave out books to trick-or-treaters. I got the idea the year before and spent all of 2022 stocking up on children’s books, middle grade, and young adult books, and I had a lot of fun doing it, too. I collected these books from library book sales, my own shelves after I’d read them, and other means.

Along with the tubs of books, I included a bucket full of goodie bags containing Halloween pencils, erasers, crayons, stickers, and more. Those supplies came from my mom’s book signing freebies. I’ll have goodie bags this year, too.

Although not pictured, I did have a bunch of plastic bags available, too, for convenience.

My 2022 HalloREAD Display for Trick-or-Treaters

35 Children’s Books

25 Middle Grade Books

13 Young Adult Books

Meet My New Scarecrow

I had a plaid, long-sleeve shirt and old men’s jeans for a scarecrow, but I’d apparently accidentally donated it or threw it out because in its place was a bag of clothes I’d meant to donate. So, I decided to make a scarecrow out of those clothes, which was a lot of fun since scarecrows are usually masculine. I gave her my “You say witch like it’s a bad thing” T-shirt, and my mom gave me the idea to make a scarecrow baby bundle when it looked like the scarecrow was missing something.

I think I need to name her. Any ideas? 

This year, I’m doing the same thing. I still have a few of these books and a bunch of “new” ones. And this year my sign will say “FREE BOOKS! Take as many as you want!” because I want to encourage everyone to take, take, take. Let’s encourage kids to read more. ❤️

I’ll share pictures of my display on my Facebook and Instagram on Halloween. Follow me there!

QUESTIONS: What should I name my scarecrow? Have you ever given books to truck-or-treaters?

October 10, 2023

Remove Trigger People


My depression impacted my motivation and ability to write, and it can do the same for you, especially if your depression is trigged by the people in your life.

A big factor in my depression (that started late 2016) was people in my life who brought me down. On purpose. Following family drama, which was the first rung down into the pits of depression for me, I blocked specific people from sending me Facebook messages since this was the popular mode of conversation, especially when someone wanted to start a fight or cause drama. I kept the blocks on for about six months.

I strongly suggest you do the same when you go through a tough time that involves others. Seek space from them.

In this day and age, that can be tough with social media, but it can be done. I don’t recommend unfriending them and blocking them from your social media accounts, though, as that is a bit extreme. Besides, after some time passes and things get patched up, you’d have to send that person another friend request or accept the one he/she sends you. Instead, must/unfollow that person's posts so you won’t see their updates in your feed and block them in your Facebook messenger. You can also stop them from seeing any of your future posts. However, if you want to cut all ties, unfriending is necessary when all of the above doesn’t help you to move on. I’ve had to do this.

Now, if this person is harassing you, commenting on your posts or posting nasty things on your wall, then yes, blocking is your answer. No one has the right to bully you, not even on social media, and you don’t have to stand there (or sit there) and take it. Block, block, block with no regret. You’ll feel freer and lighter and, ultimately, safer with that person blocked.

If the toxic person is at work, talk to human resources and/or your boss about the issue. Don’t allow anyone at your job tell you to let it go or keep it quiet or ignore it. No one should have to let go, keep quiet about, or ignore harassment, bullying, rudeness, aggression, racism, sexism, and anything else dehumanizing.

If your boss or fellow employees stick up for the other person, saying things like “that’s how he/she is,” “that’s how he/she communicates,” and basically telling you to get over it or get used to it, I think it’s time (for your health and sanity) to start looking (on the down low) for another job. This is exactly what I had to do.