The End of Being Chicken Sh*t or Why I Self-Published

To celebrate my 50th birthday I jumped out of an airplane, got a tattoo and self-published my first novel. Of the three, publishing was by far the scariest but they were all part of my midlife journey, my campaign to live my life differently, more deliberately, for the second fifty years (give or take a few).

The night before my skydive a friend asked me why I was doing it. I told her that I couldn’t live as a chicken shi*t any longer. There were so many things that I feared, irrationally, at that time. I was scared to death of heights, but I knew that statistically skydiving was pretty safe. I was scared to do much of anything permanent, because I was scared of making a mistake and scared of regret. My tattoo is permanent and a constant reminder that I can trust my gut and the choices I make for myself.

And I was scared to death of anyone knowing me, who I really was, what was in my heart. Writing “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” was me leaning into that fear and pushing past it. It was me giving it the finger and saying that maybe I did have something to offer.

At first I was defensive of my writing and the topic, young love. But reviews told me that a lot of people really enjoyed reading the book because it mirrored their own high school experience and they loved reliving it. I began to apologize and back peddle less and own it. I showed up at writers groups and proclaimed that I write romance.

Other fantastic changes also happened when I hit publish. I was forced out of my very small world. I had to interact with other authors and ask tons of questions because I was so incredibly lost. I met amazing friends, people who are stoked about life and writing and helping others reach their dreams. My world expanded and filled up with great people. And I reconnected with others from my past. They read my book and contacted me to say they liked it and played the guessing game of who from our high school inspired certain scenes or characters.

A few days after publishing I created some flyers and carried them around with me (because I was still too chicken to ask to hang them). I had lunch at a local coffee shop and my friend/editorial goddess, Chrissy, pushed me to ask to hang one on the bulletin board. I can still remember how I described my book, with a long list of everything it wasn’t and a promise that the owner didn’t need to read it if she didn’t want to. Leanne, the owner of Pinks coffee shop is one of those really sharp, funny people who read people well. She welcomed my flyer (it’s still there now!) and read my book and recommended it to others. I have lunch there frequently because the food it really good and the coffee and hanging around Leanne reminds me how far I’ve come. I tell her all my writing plans now and I’m open to having a book signing party when I publish the Vivienne series in a few months, something that sounded absolutely painful two years ago.

This past Wednesday, February 4th, was my two year writing anniversary. I realize that in some ways two years isn’t a lot. I hope its the start of a very long career. But I’m commemorating it to celebrate just how far I’ve come. My bravery level is through the roof compared to back then. I do things daily that I would have been absolutely traumatic to the old me. Right now I am planning to teach a class on self-publishing locally starting in April. Going through all the steps to make this happen I still feel fear–fear of failure, fear of rejection. But I’m not the chicken shi*t I was in my 40’s because even if I am afraid, I do it anyway. I tell the negative voices in my head to shut the F up and I do it. And it feels amazing, life-affirming, crazy powerful. I’m pushing forward, past my fears because I want others to get a chance to feel the same thing.

I’m going to end with a quote from one of those amazing, stoked, life-affirming people I’ve discovered along the way. Danielle LaPorte creates Truthbombs, daily smart thoughts. This was one from the other day, yet another that nailed exactly what I was feeling. If you like it you can subscribe to them here.

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This Side of 50

Yesterday was it, my big 50 and I’m still here today.  (Probably because I didn’t try to party like I’m anything less than 50).

I had a wonderful day, starting with breakfast at my favorite place, Waffle House.  I’m a total sucker for waffles and cheez hashbrowns.

Me, my waffle, one of my fav. men, and one crabby dude behind me

I started preparing for yesterday two years ago, on my 48th birthday.  It was not my best birthday (in fact, it sucked) but it started the ball rolling for a heap of changes in my life. That day started this blog with my first post “I’m Not Supposed To Be Having This Much Fun.”  Whether I’m supposed to or not, I’m still having a lot of fun.  In the past two years I started this blog, wrote and published a novel and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane attached to one very cute Brazilian; all things I never would have dreamed of doing at one (low) point in my life.  And I’m not done yet.  I’m working on a second novel and I have my appointment scheduled for my tattoo.  The party continues. 

But more important than these wild (at least for me) actions are the fears I am conquering with each one – fear of heights, fear of rejection, fear of making mistakes, fear of what others will say, fear that I’m actually a moron and everyone just forgot to tell me.  There’s still more, lurking in the darker recesses of my mind, but I’m slowly coaxing them all out, naming them, taming them. 

Last night my brother asked if I was ever going to grow up.  I told him, “No.  What kind of fun would that be?”  But the reality is that I am growing up and all my crazy is part of that process.  To me a mature, evolved person is not one who sits home, having given in to fears and given up on crazy dreams.  A truly mature soul knows that the odds are not in their favor,  that others won’t approve or will think they are crazy, that there can be negative outcomes; then they go ahead and do it anyway.  Because they (I) know that a life avoiding all the pain and risk isn’t really living. 

That’s my report from this side of 50. 

All I Want For My Birthday

Is reviews.  Seriously.  

I don’t know how many of you out there in blog land are sweating out what to get me for my big five-oh, but let me solve this for you right now.  I would love a review from you for my novel.  Just a few stars and words on Amazon and or Goodreads will thrill me in a way you can’t even imagine … for two reasons:

One – every review makes me feel more connected with my readers.  I’ve put something very personal out into the internet-osphere and now I desperately want to know how it is faring.  Ideally, I would be able to talk to each person as they read.  I want to know what made you laugh (assuming you did) or cry (ditto).  Was there a part you wish I had left out or added more to?  How did you feel when it ended?  Baring me sitting in front of each and every person who reads it and bugging them every few pages, I would be satisfied (more like thrilled) to just have a short note from you telling me what you thought.  The fact that others are interested in those notes leads to 

Reason two – a first novel by an indie author lives on reviews.  Not that my novel is expensive ($2.99), but I would also want to know if others liked a book at all before I would be willing to spend any money on it.  Reviews give potential readers a hint of what they will be getting.  I always read them myself and base my purchases on them.  Don’t you?  

I understand you have to read it first, but I promise it is an easy read.  It’s a ‘curl up over a weekend and get lost in a fun story’ kind of book.  I wasn’t trying for too much pain and suffering (from my characters or my readers).  

So I am asking for 50 reviews for my 50th birthday.  Since 961 people got a free copy (and that’s not including my beta readers and editors), there will hopefully be at least 50 people who would like to make me the happiest camper around and give me a review.  

April 27th is the big day … twelve days from today.  I guess I’m blowing out my candles a little early (like I could blow out 50 candles) and making my wish now.  To all of you who hear my wish and review, an early thank you.

photo: cookiesandsangria.com

 

More Jump Pics

Day 1 home from spring break and I am knee deep in laundry.  I thought it would be a great day to post a few more pics from my jump.

My training class – bend your knees, fall out of the plane, put your arms out and smile.  I nailed it. 

Stylin Goggles

Notice his hand “guiding” me to the plane.   No turning back!

My personal cheering section (+ two not in photo)

Smiling because I’m alive and still clinging to my cute Brazilian