The Muse of Tragedy 

Hey everyone! Long time, no see, right? 

So for a while there I was posting ALL THE CONTENT. YouTube videos, blog posts for my creativity blog, daily Instagram posts. And somehow, I was still managing to work on writing my books as well. And work! Not sure how I was getting all of that done. 

A little over three months ago, I started working a new day job for a marketing agency. (A job I really love. Who knew you could love a day job?) About a month later, my life totally BLEW UP. I'll spare you all the gory details, but the basic gist is that my husband suffers from drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues. And both addiction and mental illness are extremely difficult diseases. So he went to get the help he needs and I went to my parents' house for a couple of months. I just now moved into my own place--an adorable two-bedroom condo. 

So no wonder I stopped all of my content. Over the course of three months, my life had completely changed. When I think back to where I was a year ago, so many things are different now. The only thing that has remained consistent is my drive to create.

Now that I'm settling into the next chapter of my life, I decided I could return to my content. Because I really do enjoy making the YouTube videos and writing the blog posts. Helping other creative people and artists find their own creative expression. Helping writers find their own voices. I'm bringing back the creativity interviews next Friday (I've got a good one to kick it off) and I'm even toying with the idea of doing the interviews in a podcast instead of just a blog. So I'm going to return to creating ALL THE CONTENT. Or at least some of it.

I could start beating myself up for not managing to keep up with all of my online content over the past few months. I do have a tendency to try to do EVERYTHING and then beat myself up when I can't. Or I could be really proud of myself for the writing and singing that I did manage to do during this trying time. I went to Starbucks after work and worked on Until the Night Falls, my newest vampire novel. I even started a new (unnamed) play about addiction. I haven't written a play in seven years so I was particularly proud of that one. And I have been singing at Unity North Atlanta with the Unitones--a previously-trio-but-lately-quartet of awesome ladies. 

I know many people would not want to admit that they have been dealing with addiction and mental illness--even indirectly--because there is still such a stigma attached to both of these diseases. But I think it's important to be honest and tell you that these things have had an effect on my life. I don't actually know one person whose life hasn't been touched--either directly or indirectly--by addiction or mental illness. Maybe if more of us were honest about dealing with it, there would be less of a stigma. I'm not sure. 

But. Let's bring it back to a Crawford subject. Creativity and art. The main point of this blog post is that even when your life blows up, you cannot let it stop you from being creative or making art. Don't be hard on yourself. Don't expect to write an award-winning novel or record the greatest album known to man, but still create. Express yourself. Sing karaoke. Crochet a scarf. Do something creative. And who knows? You might end up writing that award-winning novel. Often times, challenges and tragedy inspires the best art. I know this difficulty in my own life has been quite the muse for me. 

So that's what's been going on in my life. I hope you'll come along with me--read some of my blog posts or watch one of my YouTube videos. But even if you don't, I hope that you'll find your own way to be creative. 

You and the Night cover reveal and book trailer 

Here's the cover for Book 3 of The Muse Chronicles. Designed by Caroline Teagle. Isn't it gorgeous? 

You and the Night - Book 3 in The Muse Chronicles - Coming 4.30.2019

She's designed all the covers for The Muse Chronicles, and they've all been gorgeous:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of all the books in this trilogy, this one was by far the hardest to write. I started working on it in January of 2018. It doesn't usually take me over a year to finish a book. But I kept going back and re-writing the first 100 pages. It's in pretty good shape right now, but I'm about to send it off to some beta readers and critique partners. 

I have grown a lot as an author in the writing of these three books. I know they definitely have their flaws, but I think the main theme of art belonging to everyone is evident. 

It's going to be hard to say goodbye to Sylvia and Vincent. This is ultimately a love story, but Vincent represents art/music. So it's really just about a girl who falls in love with art. Do they have the healthiest of relationships? Clearly not. He's not even a real person technically. But every single artist I know has had an unhealthy obsession with art. We've all had times where we stayed up all night writing or playing guitar. We've had days when we forget to eat because we're so enraptured in our paintings. 

Not everyone is going to get that, and that's okay. Every book is not for every reader. Art is so subjective. But then it speaks to so many people because all I did was personify my relationship with art in Sylvia and Vincent. 

Some things surprised me as I kept writing. For example, I ended up absolutely loving Ryan, the bass player. He's portrayed as being a jerk, but there's just something lovable about him. We've all had friends like that--people we know are good people deep down, but act like a jackass to cover it up. Ryan is a side character, but I found myself really enjoying writing him. You can always count on Ryan to just say what he's thinking. Maybe it's that authenticity I love.

Vincent and Izabella came out of a play I wrote in 2006 called Painted. So I have literally been with some of these characters for over a decade. Maybe that's why I had such a difficult time with this third book. I knew it would all be over. 

Sure, I might return to this universe in the future. There are some different ways I could go with that. But Sylvia and Vincent's story has come to a conclusion. I really love the way I ended the whole thing, and I hope readers do too.

So the book is coming out on 4.30.19. I have just put it up for pre-order. (It's in the review process so it's not showing up yet.) For now, I hope you enjoy this book trailer. I had so much fun making it. (And there really aren't any spoilers for the first two books in it.)

 

Into the Shadows 

Surprise!

While I'm in the revision process with You and the Night (which is set to come out 4.30.19), I decided to release an e-book version of Into the Shadows.

As some of you will recall, Into the Shadows, is a young adult vampire novel that I wrote over the summer for the mobile platform, Radish. I have taken it down from Radish, polished it up a bit, and released the book on Amazon. It's also available on Kindle Unlimited.

I had so much fun writing this novel, and I hope you all will have fun reading it as well. 

The print version will be available in March.

Here's the description:

Is Chloe ready to travel 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, from 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. 

Fans of The Vampire Diaries and Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles will love this Southern gothic young adult vampire romance.

The book is on sale for just $0.99 for the rest of the week! Then it will go up to $2.99. So take advantage of the sale!

You can download the book here.

Thank you so much for all of your support!

The 30-Day Writing Challenge Re-launch 

The second edition of my book, The 30-Day Writing Challenge: Begin or Enhance Your Daily Writing Habit is now available in both print and e-book versions on multiple retailers as well as my website.

In the second edition introduction, I write:

I originally wrote The 30-Day Writing Challenge in 2014. Since that time, I have become an adjunct professor for the online creative writing graduate program at Southern New Hampshire University, I have published two novels, and I have continued for four years of full-time work as a freelance writer. 

I’ve also been through a lot of ups and down with my own publishing journey. I have been discouraged and broken down at many points. Whether you’re a traditionally published author or an indie author, publishing is hard. And there’s a lot of disappointment. 

So much is out of your control: what the literary agents think about your writing, what the publishers think, your sales ranking on Amazon, how many reviews you have, etc. And sure, there are a ton of things you can do to increase your chances of having the agents read your manuscript or increasing your e-book sales. But as writers, the most important thing—the thing we always have control over no matter what—is the actual writing. The act of creation. 

Writing is a practice and a discipline. The purpose of this book is to help you to begin a daily writing habit or enhance the daily writing habit you already have. 

Whether you want to write the great American novel or write business e-books, if you are serious about being a writer, you need to practice writing every day. It’s just like being in good physical shape. You have to exercise your muscles a little bit every day to build strength.   

It’s important to note that for some people, literally writing every day is not going to be possible. Many people have health issues that will prevent them from being able to write every day. I, myself, suffer from anxiety and depression, and there are definitely times when I’m not able to write creatively every day. (I don’t think a single day has gone by in the past 15 years when I haven’t written something, though—a journal entry, an e-mail, a blog post, web content, etc. I bring that up because if you do have mental health issues, keeping a journal is often a great way to get in some form of writing every day.) 

There will also be times when life gets in the way, and writing every day isn’t possible. Don’t beat yourself up in these moments. The important thing is that writing becomes a regular and consistent part of your life if you want to be a writer.

 

Download the e-book now for just $0.99 or order a copy of the paperback for $6.99.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Scribd

Playster

Kobo

Holonis

Coming soon on Apple Books!

Or you can order directly from my website.

 

I'm so excited to be able to help more people on their writing journey!

 

My Content Detox 

My view currently

 

One of the best ways to promote anything--your books, your business, your brand--is through content marketing. And I genuinely love to create and share content. Especially content that's going to help or inspire other artists and creative people. I've created a lot of content ever since I pretty much started using the internet, but for the past year or so, I've gotten especially ridiculous with the amount of content I create.

I've participated in Instagram challenges. I started a new creativity blog and creativity tips mailing list--which I updated Monday through Friday most weeks. I've had a YouTube channel--posting two to five videos a month typically. I started a holospace on Holonis. I joined the mobile reading app, Radish, and started a vampire novel there. I've tried to keep up my Twitter and Facebook--personal page and author page. I've written guest posts for blogs like The Creative Penn and The Digital Reader. I made quote pictures and book trailers and promotional photos for my books

And let's not forget this was on top of the freelance writing and marketing work I actually got paid to do. And teaching a creative writing graduate class for Southern New Hampshire University online. And trying to finish You and the Night--book 3 of The Muse Chronicles--which I've literally been working on all year. So needless to say, I've been putting way too much pressure on myself and working way too much.

I'm lucky in that my husband, Peter, and I both work from home. He does some of the same freelance marketing work I do, and he's also super ambitious with his social media and content creation. And he's always working hard and hustling like me. So a lot of this year has been the two of us working in our offices from 9 to 5 and then sitting next to each other on the couch with our laptops from 5 to 10. And sometimes, it has been a lot of fun. And I am blessed to have him in this with me. But I have also burnt myself out completely with all the work. I can't tell you how many work-induced breakdowns I've had this year.

A little over a week ago (10/19), I was forced to put all of this work on pause as Peter and I drove to Lake Oconee for my brother's wedding. With the rehearsal and dinner on Friday night, the professional hair and makeup appointment my mother was nice enough to gift me on Saturday morning, practicing my ceremony a few times (I got to officiate the wedding), and then the actual wedding on Saturday, I didn't have much time to work. 

It was a beautiful wedding. I had a blast with my family. And watching my father do the prayer before we ate, watching my mother dance with my brother, watching my younger brother give a hilarious toast, dancing with my husband who looked so cute in his groomsman suit, and having the opportunity to join my older brother and the love of his life in marriage, I had never been happier for my family. 

The Sunday after the wedding, Peter and I drove up to Oak Island in North Carolina. My parents have been renting a house on the quiet Caswell Beach in the off-season every year since 2014. Sometimes it's just been the two of them, and sometimes it's been the whole family. This is the third year I've gotten to tag along and the second year Peter has joined me. (The first time he came, though, he was sick for most of it and didn't really get to enjoy it.) I was excited to get to see my "new" aunt, uncle, and cousin--my mother's half-brother, half-sister, and her daughter who I've only just gotten to know over the past four or five years. I was looking forward to hanging out with my parents, my husband, and my other uncle (who I've known all my life -- we even share the same birthday). I am blessed to have such a great family. Even though we're all different, we all love each other and accept each other for who we are. 

The first day I was here sitting out on the beach watching the waves, I felt called to take what I'm calling a "content detox." This is similar to social media detoxes I've done before except I did still read Twitter and Facebook occasionally. But with the exception of a couple of re-tweets and a post I shared about Frankenstein on Facebook and this picture I shared of my view, I didn't post anything. I didn't post on my blog. I didn't post on Holonis. I didn't post any videos or make quote pics. I didn't post any vampire chapters to Radish. I did have to work a few hours; there were some deadlines I couldn't escape. But for the most part, I sat on the beach, I watched TV with Peter, I took naps, I played with my parents' dog, I played card games and board games, I hung out with my family, and I ate a lot of delicious food. I've had a total reset, and it has been glorious.

I'm still here at the beach for most of this week. Peter and I drive home on Thursday. And I might have to do a little more work this week. And as I'm starting out the week with a blog post, I'd say my content detox is over. But from now on, things are going to be different.

I'm sure I will still work more than 40 hours a week. I'm sure I will still put out a lot of content. But after my husband, my family, and my work that pays the bills, my main priority will be my actual books. (Or plays or screenplays if I get back to writing those.) Any other content will be a bonus. I'll still do blog posts and videos and social media posts, but only because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. It won't be "every Friday, I have to post this, and every Tuesday, I have to post that."

And speaking of writing and books, I have some exciting things planned for 2018 and 2019. I've actually finished up my vampire story, but I'll be pulling it off of Radish, having it edited, and putting it up on Amazon/Kindle Unlimited in 2019. I'm using National Novel Writing Month next month to achieve my goal of finally finishing You and the Night with plans to publish that in early 2019. Because I'm scaling back the creativity mailing list, I'm going to put together 52 tips--most of which I've already written--and publish another non-fiction book in 2019 (on all retailers--Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.) I also will probably re-launch The 30-Day Writing Challenge with a new cover and make it available on all retailers. I'm planning to pull all three of The Muse Chronicles books out of Kindle Unlimited and make them available on all retailers in the second half of 2019. And I have an 80s time travel YA book called Time After Time which will be published in either 2019 or 2020 (whether that will be an indie release or a traditionally published release is still to be determined.) 

That might all sound like a lot of work, and maybe it is. I've always been someone who's not afraid to work hard. And Peter still has a lot of things going on, too. I'm sure there will be a lot of evenings of sitting on the couch together with our laptops. But this reset has taught me that while it's good to have goals and ambitions, if I don't achieve them, it's not the end of the world. And I need to be a lot better about self-care and put a lot less pressure on myself. Working evenings is okay as long as I take one night a week to have a date night with my husband or I take Sundays off or I remember to eat healthy and take little ten-minute walks throughout the day. And I have to find time to sing, play guitar, read, crochet, watch TV, hang out with my family, etc.

So my content detox is mostly over. But I still have a few days left here. So if you need me, I'll be sitting in my chair on the sand, drinking peach tea and eating chocolate, watching the waves crash against the shore.

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