Posts Tagged ‘author’

It has been a full day of catching my breath. From blissful hours spent reading to actually enjoyable editing (editing? fun? who knew?) to mindless Internet research on topics my strange little brain finds interesting, my inner-introvert has been thoroughly coddled. And I am better for it.

The weekend was busy to new dimensions. Highlights include a family viewing of Inside Out, an accidental Carnival experience, and being carted across a muddy stream on my brother’s piggy back ride. In between Father’s Day fishing, my International Sister’s brief homecoming, and massive technical glitches during practice at church (PS. service itself went quite perfectly), I have lost all ground on besting my coffee addiction, earned “kiss-face” from my niece (hint: it’s very slobbery), finished one of the most confusing books I will ever read, and managed to fit in at least seven hours of sleep each night. What more could a girl ask for?

Not much, I’ll tell you. Not much.

Blog Bonus Feature: I’m currently working to build a believable backstory for a character. She/He (I won’t tell you which) is changing sides in a war. As an author who wants the character to still be lovable (otherwise the betrayal will feel cheap or anticlimactic), I am finding this to be a new kind of challenge. I’ll keep you posted and hopefully learn a few things I can share with my fellow writers.

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Deep breath in. Smell the coffee. Relax those tense muscles. Transform from the businesswoman you’ve been all day to an author. Preferably in the next fifteen seconds. Right. (Sarcasm intended.)

Perhaps the greatest struggle of authoring is that simple switch: from the ordinary and not so ordinary of real life to the fabulous fiction of your other self. And it isn’t always so easy to open up the laptop, turn on the music, and hit the writing-ground running. This blog very often serves as the transition, this corner at Starbucks as the muse I never had, and the well-worn iTunes albums as the horn that pulled the Pevensies into Narnia.

Tomorrow marks the start of Camp NaNoWriMo. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t long to jump into their luscious descriptions of mountains and lakes. I like the camps in April and July far more than their better-known father: National Novel Writing Month. At camp, there is grace and friendship and inspiration aplenty. 50,000 words, phsaw. 10,000 becomes the very doable minimum. And writers are thrown into cabins to bond across the country. Not to mention the writing prompts already filling up my Facebook wall. The very idea of the camp sends my writing self scrambling to pack a virtual bag and head for the hallowed hills of authordom. The camp’s tagline:

“An idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”

Oh, me and my crazy life long to join the retreat! But free-writing just isn’t in the time frame. Editing The Lure of Lemons consumes me. Day and night, my mind is pulled deeper and deeper into the world and the stories. For now, that is exactly where my focus needs to be.

Yet real life still tugs at me–making me feel like I’m stumbling around my day on sleeping pills. The morning was spent getting some kind of test (there have been so many lately, I’ve quite honestly lost track of what one I had today) at the hospital, followed by breakfast with my mom, accounting and meetings, and more business. But now I’m here. At my beloved Starbucks, warmed by sales in the state of Washington, by bright and encouraging family, and a cherished letter from an even more cherished friend reflecting on the awesomeness of our friendship. Life may be trying to use me like the rope in tug-of-war, but I’m loving the journey.

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I’ve got a song about a zebra stuck in my head. (Thanks, Francesca.) Unusual, like the other songs on her album, is just that catchy. And believe it or not, I am actually making progress on my novel this rainy day. Despite the distractions. Of which there are plenty. Francesca Battistelli’s new album included.

I would like to be as profound as I was yesterday or as informative as I was about hipsters last year or even as funny as I was last month when I discussed bloopers, but, alas, all my creativity is being funneled into my novel today. You will have to take me as I am, rugged and raw and overtired from seasonal allergies that suffocate me nightly. I feel a little like Dug (from Up), my brain constantly shouting “Squirrel!” (or, in this case, “Zebra!”). Then again, creativity is often born out of insanity. For proof of that concept, just check out this video, featuring one man, twenty-one Disney/Pixar voices, and the deserved hit: Let It Go (from Frozen).

To return to the subject of the novel… My new character–Otis–is shaping up, finally filling in giant gaps that would make Maine’s frost heaves jealous. And if you’re not from Maine, those frost heaves are really, really, really, really big. Thank you, Otis. Your love of cheeseburgers, your beret-wearing head, and your healthy fear of Russian-spouting computer hacker Tasya are just what I needed to get back into my writing rhythm.

Until tomorrow, friends, I remain your overly-creative and slightly-zany author,

Jessie Mae

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I suppose anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised to discover that my personality type makes up less than 1% of the world’s population (according to this website). But I was. When I took the personality test during my morning of self-education, I was enthralled by the description of the INFJ group, to which I belong. A year ago I would have been surprised to read ‘Introvert’ at the beginning of my four letter code. According to the test makers, “Their easy and pleasant communication can often mislead bystanders, who might think that the INFJ is actually an extrovert.” In truth, not so long ago, I was deluding myself into thinking I was an extrovert. But mere weeks away from my twenty-second birthday, I am not as naive as I once was. I’m deep into the process of discovering who I am and who I will become.

I bobbed my head as the test described the INFJ with an emphasis on creativity, independence, passion, beliefs, conflict-wary(ness? Can I make that a word?), mental and emotional depth, warmth, and insight. And I solemnly agreed with the weaknesses: a tendency to back away from conflict, to be hard to understand, to strive for too much perfection in myself and others, and to feel disappointment keenly. Yes. I may be in the shining 1%, but we INFJs aren’t perfect–mostly because we try too hard to be.

Yet, all in all, I’d rather be the INFJ God created me to be than any other personality type. Someone “Brimming with desire to make the world a better place.” And someone who has “a unique combination of idealism and decisiveness – this means that their creativity and imagination can be directed towards a specific goal,” allowing them “to make a lasting positive impact.” Can you blame me? That sounds pretty sweet.

The test certainly won’t be right about everything,  but reading through the sections depicting how I am likely to interact socially and in my career have given me good deal of clarity for why I am scared of certain opportunities, why I relish others, and how I can pursue a more peaceable, meaningful future.

Until next time,

Your friendly, neighborhood author.

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I have known since yesterday that I needed to take a little solace with a chocolate croissant at Starbucks. I point out the croissant instead of the coffee because, quite honestly, I drink enough coffee at home for three people. I certainly do not come to Starbucks for more caffeine. It took a good deal of maneuvering to finally make it here. By the time I did my hair was frazzled only slightly more than my mind.

Now, I am not as shy as I once was. If I see a person from my past I no longer dodge that awkward “Do we know each other?” conversation. Instead, I plunge head first into the icy waters of reconnecting. Today that dialogue went something like this. (Paraphrase warning.)

Me: “Hey! Did you go to Bangor Christian?”

Him: “Yes. I did. A while ago. Wait a minute. Oh. Hi! It took me a second to recognize you.”

Me: Filler dialogue. Then: “So, how are you? What is your wife up to?”

Insert random dialogue until we come to his question: “What are you doing for work?”

Me: “I’m writing full-time.” (Of course I don’t mention the eight hours a week I labor for my parents at the law firm because my true day job is ‘author’ not ‘chief errand runner.’ Seriously, which one sounds better? And if there is no question of honesty involved, then I will be leaving out the law office clerk title every time.)

Him: Stammering. “Like, for the newspaper? Or?”

Me: Completely unprepared to have gotten past the first thirty seconds of reconnecting dialogue. “Um… I write books.” Then, a bit more smoothly. “Living the dream. It doesn’t pay much, but, you know…” (Had to stick in the honesty there.)

Him: “That’s great!”

Me: Now feeling completely out of my depth and remembering that I, in fact, still the same girl that has run from people and friendships and conversation as much as is humanly possible… “Well, thanks for the coffee. Bye!”

To the old friend’s credit he was remarkably warm and friendly for someone who probably does not even remember my name. And to my credit, I jumped outside my comfort zone in a major way. Perhaps one day conversations like this will be so common place that they won’t be worthy of a blog mention. Until then… I leave you and return to my hermit state with my laptop and headphones.

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So blogging universe, I owe you yet another apology. Life has been… unusually extreme. It has not left me with any desire to chronicle the last week. All around me, friends and family seem to be battling giant odds. My business has faced a strange disappointment. And my own body decided to catch a virus. Now I return, if only to mark my longing to move on from the mire of the previous days. I have asked myself often in the last few months who I want to be. I think I got a little closer to the answer through all these challenges.

As far as news I can share, I must lament a little. Our lovely children’s festival has been canceled. Not due to any lack of interest. Our library simply could not jump on board as much as they had originally thought. Without them, the event cannot happen in October. Perhaps later in the season. I am disappointed. Yet, even in the event’s destruction, I am learning much. I have found a new passion not to let the obstacles that seem to appear all around us stop me. I will write beautiful books. I will build a publishing company. I will speak. I will pursue my calling. And I will not hide my faith in Jesus.

Now, to be fair, I should break from my lament to point out what a wonderful Sunday my family and I passed together. Playing super hero card games late into the night with my sister, her husband, and my parents is a sure way to relax. Especially since I got rid of my usually nerdy author persona and donned the abilities of a buff giant (my given character). And since I am in the mood to continue this post, I also want to point out that super heroes are not necessarily spandex-wearing men from Krypton. More often, super heroes are men in suits (like my dad who goes to court every day to pursue justice) or European college students who stop long enough to fish a dollar out of their pockets when mine won’t work in the machine (like happened in my school at Columbia, South Carolina–it made my day. I really wanted to do laundry.). They are average joes who are faithful, people who recognize needs and act. They may not be big needs; the heroes may not see themselves as heroes. But they are.

So author or daughter or friend or sister or publisher or acquaintance or leader or follower, I will try all the more to be faithful. A super hero in the little things as well as in the big. Facing giant odds and personal ones, facing tragedy and victory, through it all: faithful.

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I know this post is long, but I hope you’ll find it worth it.

I’m 21. I have three books published and a fourth in production. I have memorized 2/3s of the New Testament, made sweet friends in Indonesia, lived in South Carolina, and gone on two major book tours. I’m putting together an album for recording and dabble as a worship leader. I am the founder and leader of Rebirth Publishing, Inc. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management. I have escaped all of it without debt. And I thought I knew myself…

But since graduation I have realized just how little I actually know about myself. I know a whole lot about what I can do, but not a lot about who I really am. So, like the perfectionist student I am, I have poured the last few months into a character study–not of Pallen or Marcus or Cressa from Mark of Orion. No. This is a study of my own character. And with each new learning, I celebrate a victory that leaves me feeling a good deal more fulfilled.

First, let me say that I think labels are probably some of the worst things in the world. If you had ever tried to sum me up as ‘Lyme patient’ or ‘college student’ or ‘Christian’ or ‘publisher’ or ‘writer’ or ‘musician’ or ‘homebody’ or ‘extrovert’ you would have missed who I really am. To give you a glimpse of just how much I don’t like labels, check out this personal entry:

It is easy to believe labels are fulfilling.

 Not just the ‘popular’ label. Those of us who know better than to believe that success will fulfill us find other labels to put our stock in. Like the ‘loved’ label; the ‘happy’ label; the ‘work-a-holic’ label. After so many movies full of people finding their labels right alongside their soul-mates, we have begun to believe that if we could just find our label, our movie-moment, our montage of effective work and budding love alongside the perfect soundtrack, then we could feel fulfilled.

 Only, labels aren’t actually fulfilling.

 Not ‘hipster’ or ‘rock-star’ or ‘author’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘wife’. Labels in and out of themselves can never, ever satisfy. All they can do is make us feel bitter that we aren’t happy after attaining them or devastated that we cannot achieve them. Labels are a deadly lie.

So why does the girl who rejects labels find joy in figuring out that she is not only a perfectionist but also 1) passionate and 2) innovative? Aren’t those labels too?

To me the difference is that I can’t achieve to be an innovator. I just am. When I see a problem, my first instinct is to scrap the old system and create a new one. I can’t force myself to be passionate 100% of the time. Often I wish I could turn it off. Only, passion is part of who I am. If I offend you, believe me: it hurts me more than it ever can you. Because I care. And if I can make your day brighter, I’ll do my very bestest. Because I care with all my heart. It’s passion. I can control it, but it will forever be my default setting. And, yep, I want my new innovative system that I passionately care about to go perfectly. But those things aren’t based in what I can do or in the success of my efforts; they are based in who God made me to be. The core of who I am is not ‘author’. Perhaps you could say that I am a storyteller. Each song that I write, each book that I craft, each conversation I have revolves largely around stories. But even if I had never published a book, I would have been–I was–known as a storyteller. It is an attribute, not a label.

You see, sometimes trying to live up to the labels can be really devastating. I won’t forever be a ‘young achiever’ and, as much as I love that label, it can often do more harm than good as I achieve for achievement’s sake alone. I may not forever be ‘worship leader’ and that’s okay too. The ‘traveling artist’ day may pass; the sickness may fade; even the book writing may fizzle out. And if I all I was was an sick, book-writing, traveling artist I would be in a LOT of trouble when the day of change came.

So instead of setting my sights on a list of un-fulfilling and really frustrating labels, I want to discover who God made me to be. I’ll gladly accept the attributes that God created me with, but I am very ready to be done with the labels I set for myself or others set for me. Take heart, my friends, and revel in your uniqueness. It was designed that way by the greatest Storyteller ever, the God Who knit us together.

Psalm 139:13

13 For you created my inmost being;

   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

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So here is the deal. I’ve got a lot of new followers and likes on this blog (thanks everybody!). Since my life story is a bit confusing, I thought I’d dedicate this post to the top ten highlights of who I am and what I do. If you are new, you can catch up without wading through the hundreds of posts I have made on here.

1) After I accepted Christ at age four I discovered an absolute passion for serving Him and teaching others the deeper truths of the faith. I taught the preschool Sunday school class before I had hit middle school myself. I loved it.

2) Creative and athletic from birth, I followed in my three siblings big footsteps to strive for excellence in much; but it took me a while to discover what I was really made for.

3) At fourteen I started playing the fiddle. As my fingers danced along the strings I was looking towards Heaven and an earthly career. Life swept me in a different course. It was when I put down the violin that I really picked up writing.

4) While writing and imagining is something I have always loved, my choice to become an author has much more to do with a calling than with a desire to do something I find pleasurable. After watching my Christian friends ingest trash called teen fiction, and then watching them leave the faith behind, I found my heart aching to reach them in literature, to provide them with something clean, honest, and adventurous to read.

5) When, at fifteen, God called me to take on the challenge of changing literature, I thought He was crazy. But, so clearly called, I pressed ahead. Discovering that a major part of the problem lay in publishing, I established Rebirth Publishing, Inc., at seventeen. My first series of novels, Issym, Asandra, and Xsardis, hit shelves in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

6) In February of 2013 (at 20) I graduated with a Bachelors in Organizational Management. While most people think it is crazy that an author went for a business degree, I am well-satisfied with my choice. All my life I have loved organizing and leading. At times, I find business more fun than writing and often just as creative an outlet. The degree serves me well as I direct Rebirth Publishing.

7) My passion grew until I began speaking and teaching in a variety of settings, showing kids and adults that the time to serve God with the whole heart is NOW. This is one of my favorite, albeit the most exhausting, parts of my varied job. I also lecture on business and writing, and mentor students personally through email and classes.

8) Fun facts: A) I have seriously desired to quit on publishing, writing, and speaking at least a half dozen times. Thanks to God’s steadfast counsel I never did and I now LOVE my job. B) I dabble as a singer/songwriter/guitarist/worship leader too. C) In high school I memorized most of the New Testament. No education ever served me better. D) The perfect writing setting for me involves a good view; my laptop; coffee; maybe a candle; and Josh Garrels or wordless, spunky music (like Lindsey Stirling) playing in the background.

9) As a single gal with a ridiculously supportive family and a network of friends throughout the country, I get to travel a lot for work. What I learn of life on my travels and at home, as well as what I learn from the students I teach, is purposefully crafted into my novels. Ever since Issym, I have determined to share my heart through my writing. You will get to know me in a new way when my next book, Mark of Orion, comes out Thanksgiving 2013.

10) I am on the adventure of life, learning more about the God I love, how He loves me, and how I can love others. It is my greatest joy to serve the King of kings. It is my honor to discover Him in writing, in nature, in music, in organization, in Scripture, in fellowship, and in the quiet and uncertain times of life.

So, there, those are the significantly inadequate highlights of my life. I will leave you with two verses that are my inspiration.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV, 1984), “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Philippians 3:12 (NIV, 1984) “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

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Yesterday I got back to work. I woke up and started my day by memorizing Hebrews. Breakfast, stretching and writing for most of the day. I took my break a little early with a nap when I realized I was so tired I could not even read. I set my phone’s alarm to wake me up at 4:05 so I could get to the laundry where I was working by 4:45. I woke up at 4:28. My phone had died. And when I got in my car I had no gas. Thankfully, I still made it to work on time. I ordered a pizza from my favorite pizza place that was just next door since tomorrow I start my no-gluten, no-milk diet. Fun, fun. It was delicious!

By the time I got home, I was actually able to let my brain relax because I had worked a full day. I finished another book, watched an episode of White Collar with my mom and went to bed. Somehow I expected to be able to sleep well after such a productive day (I can’t even tell you how much hard work I got done on Xsardis!), but, of course, that was not how it worked. I feel like today is still yesterday since my sleep was more like writing than dreaming. I awoke today expecting to get nothing done with my tired mind. After memorizing Hebrews and saying a prayer for a clear mind, I was able to work on even more challenging Xsardis-material than yesterday!

With so much work done, my mom treated me to a lunch at Olive Garden complete with dessert–my second-to-last real meal for a while. I am actually beginning to look forward to changing up my diet a little… okay, changing it a lot. At least I am not allergic to strawberries! That would be tragic! I spent my morning munching on some freshly-picked ones. Yum…

I sent an email with details to my illustrator today. I organized some of the toughest spots of Xsardis. I stretched (not pleasant, by the way). I sat on my big green exercise ball to write, following doctor’s orders. (Another attempt to correct my multitude of spinal issues.) And I tried the online-music website my sister suggested. Grooveshark. Trust me; try it. Its way better than Pandora! No audible commercials; you can to pick EXACTLY what you hear; and its free!

So all in all another good day! I am so glad to get to be a writer this summer!

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Naturally I love Castle–the crime solving show following sharp female homicide detective Kate Beckett and her author tagalong Richard Castle. The creative moments of the show when Castle has his daughter duct-tape him to a chair so that his mind can stir on how to get his character out of a similar situation; the eye flashes of success as his mind spins on all new ideas; the passion and concern that only fellow authors can truly grasp. Woopee! And Beckett? An oustanding character. When we rented the first two seasons on Netflix my mom started calling me her Beckett and I have to say that I took it as a big compliment. Confidence, snazzy dressing, witty comments, sharp mind, huge heart, sorrow in the past but hope in the future. Woopee x2!

So when Becket and Castle have the moments where they play off each others sentences, each spinning the other towards the final conclusion, it feels like both sides of my brain are finally working at the same time. And when Becket and Castle fight, it feels like the (more frequent) times when they are out of synch, but somehow shooting for the same goal. I love the show!

As my writer’s block grew this semester I found more and more strategies on how to beat it. I grew considerably envious of Beckett’s white board–a massive dry-erase masterpiece with pictures and comments. For hours she would stare at the board until she saw the missing pieces suddenly fit. For hours I would attempt to draw my mini-timelines in frustration. With my coming summer job as  I writer I indulged in a few luxuries. A new set of pencils (yay!), a specially-chosen notebook (perfect for the biography notes) and a dry-erase board. I have already scratched out my ideas and thoughts, wiped them away, and begun again. Finally my Beckett board has found its way into my life. I love it!

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