Believing in My Voice

My greatest struggle as a writer is believing that the words I write matter or that they are good enough.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, yet I lived in denial that I was a “real writer.” When I talked about my books, I’d always add “but I self-published” as if that made them or me lesser than other writers.

When I was in high school, someone close to me (who will remain nameless and unidentifiable) told me that my kindergarten art was better than my writing. Those words hurt and they stuck with me. Every word I wrote and refused to share was tainted by that statement. Even now, twenty years later, the sting of what they said is just as painful.

My self-doubt grew from there. People close to me that don’t or won’t read my writing or books because they prefer books that “tell stories” as if they stories I told weren’t important or creative enough. For years I took this feedback personally, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still bother me.

As a reader, I know and understand that not every book is for every reader. We all connect to different stories and characters. But when it comes from the people that should be in your corner, the rejection digs a little deeper.

Earlier this year, I read an early manuscript of a local author. It was her second book and I’d loved her first, so I was eager to dive in. I devoured it in a night. It was that good. She asked if there was anything she could do to thank me. It took a while to build the courage to ask, but I asked her to read my third release and share her feedback. One of the questions I asked was “do you think this is as good as other published books.” What I was asking her was if I was good enough. Could she see something in me that I couldn’t.

She did.

The simple “Yes, you’re books are good enough” from one person changed my mindset. Around this time, I also connected with a Bookstagrammer who would become not only a friend but also a critique partner. She might also be my first “fan,” but she is definitely one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

I didn’t want to be a writer, I was a writer. I am a writer. That was all it took. Sure I still have doubts and rejection will always sting, but the power that lies in believing in yourself makes all the difference. Anytime I start to doubt myself or my talent, I often come back to her email and her words of encouragement and confidence that she’s since shared.

Her words combined with the support from my critique partner have pushed me forward and given me the courage to put myself out there. These two women, who are also both amazing writers, helped me find my voice. Their belief in me has made all the difference.

I am a writer. My words matter. My stories are worth telling.

Thank you Rea and Leah for believing in me and reading my words. In Leah’s case, reading them over and over and over while pointing out typos with her Takis.

After the Flood, Kassandra Montag

**Review**

After the Flood, Kassandra Montag

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Out 9/3/19 – Thank you William Morrow for the gifted copy)

Um. Wow. I don’t know where to start with this one.

I’m not usually a fan of reading dystopian novels. I love movies and TV shows (hello Revolution, greatest show ever), but I’ve yet to find a dystopian over that captivated me in the same way.

Until After the Flood.

Myra captured me from the very first page. Her story and voice were beautifully captured. I felt her desperation to get to her daughter, Row, and her need to keep Pearl, her youngest daughter safe. The cast of characters along the way were equally moving.

This is a must read and definitely among my top books of 2019.

Lessons in Imposter Syndrome

I’m up early this Saturday morning for a writer’s conference where I’ll pitch my latest manuscript, Work Like a Mother, to two literary agents.

This book (Lie Baby Lie) taught me a lesson in writing and publishing. I used to succumb to imposter syndrome when it’s came to my writing. I wasn’t good enough to be on bookstore shelves with my favorite authors. My writing and stories didn’t measure up.

It took a few good friends and readers to show me I was. Not just good enough, but that I was worth the risk. My love for writing and storytelling is worth taking a chance and hearing a millions no’s.

After self-publishing my first three novels, I am ready to face those piles of rejections for agents and editors. No is hard to hear. Very, very hard to hear. It can be demeaning and damaging, but it can also help us grow and improve.

My initial goal this year was to self-publish 4 books. Lie Baby Lie was the first I release in 2019 and might be the last of the year. I won’t hit my self-publishing goal and that’s okay. I have a bigger goal. I will get a literary agent—it may not be this year, but it will happen. My books will one day be on the shelf next to the my favorite authors.

I owe this confidence and belief in my writing to a few amazing people I’ve met on Bookstagram. I’ve given them shoutouts before, but they deserve a million more. @thebooksocialite @thewineingreader @reafrey @oils_and_spoils @torrie_reads

The Forever Gift, Brooke Harris

**Review**

The Forever Gift, Brooke Harris

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (8/5/19)

Before I get to the review, yes, I did steal my daughter’s owl for this picture. She probably won’t even notice.

A few months ago, I read and absolutely adored Brooke Harris’s When You’re Gone. So, I knew I had to read The Forever Gift.

It did not disappoint. This was a beautifully sad story that reminded me a bit of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper.

Told from Kayla’s and her mother’s and stepmother’s perspectives, The Forever Gift follows the complicated relationship between these women and explores the depths of a mother’s love.

I definitely shed a few tears in the end, but I also smiled. You will fall in love with Kayla, Heather and Charlotte. You’ll feel their pain and anger, too. It will be with it.

Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.

Montauk, Nicola Harrison

**Review**

Montauk, Nicola Harrison

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Every time I read books like Montauk, I’m grateful for the progress women have made. But, I also miss the glamour of the era.

I adored Beatrice and the journey she took in this book. She found her voice, slowly, and learned to use it to speak up for herself and others.

I’ve been wanting to read Montauk for months, and I’m kicking myself for waiting. Such a beautiful story and setting.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, Heather Webber

**Review**

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, Heather Webber

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From the moment I picked up Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, I was intrigued. The cafe. The town. Anna Kate. Natalie. The blackbirds. The pie (I kinda want this to be real pie). The setting and characters were so richly developed and described, I felt like I was in Wicklow.

The one thing I would have enjoyed more of was the messages and dreams from the pie. Anna Kate and Natalie has such big questions that the pie could have answered. But, I do love that none of them took the easy way out. They learned to heal and love on their own.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe was a beautiful story of loss, love and forgiveness.

City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

City of Girls is my first Elizabeth Gilbert novel. It will not be my last.

I had the privilege of seeing her when she came to Nashville last month. She read an excerpt of the first chapter and hooked me immediately. There is a freeness in her writing that just sucks you in. The words flow together beautifully.

I was completely engrossed with Vivian’s story. I needed every detail. I did wish for more of Angela and her father, but the story unfolded perfectly.

The Family Upstairs, Lisa Jewell

Thank you @netgalley and @simonandschuster for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. #partner

**Review**

The Family Upstairs, Lisa Jewell (8/8/19)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t know what just happened. I was so engrossed in the story and characters, that I have no idea what I just read.

This is my first Lisa Jewell book and I think I loved it, but I’m not really sure? I adored her writing and the complicated story she expertly wove together.

It was and excellent, suspenseful read. It kept me guessing and I didn’t really trust anyone. I still don’t.

Cozy Reading Nook

When you’re a mom, you rarely get space that is just yours. Even the toilet is shared space when you have small kids (one day, I’ll remember what it’s like to pee without an audience).

Ever since I started reading and writing again, I’ve been bugging my husband for a reading chair. A recliner. A giant bean bag chair. Whatever as long as it was mine and only mine.

I’ve found approximately fifty chairs I HAD to have. But, none that were perfect. That is until this beauty came into my life. I found it at Bargain Hunt, but it is originally from Target. The Target regular price was $232, it was only $150 at Bargain Hunt. Score.

The reviews on Target’s website say it isn’t comfortable, but the are wrong. The chair is firm and supportive, which is perfect. And, I can curl up in it comfortably. It’s also amazing for writing.

In a word, it is perfect.

The Last Post, Renée Carlino

**Review**

The Last Post, Renée Carlino

⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Last Post engaged me from page one, and I was desperate to love it.

But, I didn’t. I liked it.

Here’s what worked for me: I loved the writing. It was a smooth read. The concept was unique. And I liked the dual perspective. Oh and I loved that Micah had a fraternal twin sister, because I’m a fraternal twin. Though, my brother and I are nothing like Melissa and Micah.

Here is what didn’t work: Creepy dude who’s a mess sees his boss’s daughter and becomes infatuated with her. Stalks her social media and leaves her gifts of things she mentioned OR shows up where she is going to be. I get that he thought his intentions were good, but dude. No.