Living a life of intention, one year at a time

Intention. It’s kind of a loaded word, isn’t it? Used in past tense, it takes on the weight of guilt over things planned that never quite happened. I intended to organize my closet. I intended to wash the dishes. I intended to go to that seminar. Use it in present tense, and there’s a sense of what we wish to do, but already know won’t happen. I intend to run a mile today. I intend to improve my job skills. I intend to not waste all day on my phone. The word “intention” goes along with “good intentions” – as in, “He had good intentions when he made such and such mistake.”

There’s just a lot of baggage that comes with the word “intention.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about intention this week – but not the word that’s weighted down with preconceived notions or missed opportunities. I’ve been thinking about it in terms of what I intend – really intend – for my life. What am I doing now to ensure my intentions come true?

IMGP7118Much of this reflection has to do with the fact that this is my last week of being 36. Today is my last day at that age. Tomorrow starts a brand new year, the first day of a new age when I get to take the first step of who I will be at 37.

The other day, I had my annual freak out about getting older. Usually it’s reserved for the day before my birthday. This year, however, it came a few days early. And as I dealt with it, I did something I usually try to avoid doing – I broadcast my negativity on Facebook.

There’s something I noticed about sharing negativity. No one wants to be around it. I put my misery about getting older out for public consumption, hoping for a few virtual hugs from friends across the board. And I received that in a small dose. But for the most part, people avoided my post like the plague. And a few refused to feed into my pity party, reminding me to put things in perspective and remember all I had to be grateful for. One person even gave me a “good grief,” and mused whether I should even have birthdays at all. I came back to that last comment several times since it was posted, glaring at it for the insinuation at my ridiculousness. Of course I don’t want to celebrate birthdays. Each birthday makes me a whole year older!

There was a time when I was younger when I swore I’d be one of those women who aged gracefully. I knew of this one lady who had the most beautiful long, gray hair, and she wore it proudly. I wanted to be her when I grew up, never dyeing my hair or cutting it short like every other woman once they hit a certain age.

And then I hit my 30s.

Turning 30 wasn’t so bad. I was anxious to leave the immaturity and bad decisions of my 20s and enter a decade when I knew how to live my life and make good choices. I celebrated turning 30, and was excited to be that age. A whole year passed, and 31 stared me in the face. I didn’t think anything of it in those days before I turned 31. To celebrate, I even planned a trip with my best friend and my kids to the Happiest Place On Earth. That’s right, I turned 31 in Disneyland. It was the perfect plan…or so I thought.

The day before 31, we got to Disneyland and immediately made our way around the park to each of the rides. It’s almost like blinders came off my eyes. I suddenly became aware of all the adorable teenage girls that were surrounding us, the ones in edgy fashions, hanging on their boyfriends, all smiles and youthfulness. And me? I was the old crone with a couple of kids tagging along, sporting a pair of mom jeans because that’s what fit me in the moment. For the first time, I felt old.

The next day was my 31st birthday. I remember staring in the mirror, trying to get my hair to set right. Nothing was working. My friend wanted me to hurry. I snapped at her. She kept her cool, gently telling me she’d take the kids to breakfast while I finished getting ready. She left. And I sat in that room and cried.

It was the first year I ever cried about my birthday. And every year since, it has happened without fail. I always swear it won’t happen. I swear I will greet my birthday as a celebration of my life, a celebration of ME. It is my intention to not be bummed out about something as trivial as getting older. And each year, my intention fails.

This was one of those years that I intended not to cry about my birthday. But this year, I also expected the dark cloud to settle in. So when my bad mood struck a few days early, I celebrated THAT – my depression over turning a new number. I reveled in my misery, inviting everyone around me to partake in my pity party. And when even my own husband refused to dance in my dark corner, I plummeted even further into the depths of my despair. I was bound and determined to be pitiful. And darn it, if I didn’t succeed.

That was Thursday. Friday, I snapped out of it and recreated my intention – to NOT be pitiful. I started the day out by taking the dog for a walk in the drizzle, letting the droplets of water wash away the dark cloud. I then stopped at the store to buy a box of treats for my coworkers, and then spoiled myself with a cup of overpriced (but delicious) coffee. I got to work and sent out a mass email to everyone, letting them know that my birthday was on Sunday, and I had treats at my desk to celebrate. All day long, I had coworkers visiting me to wish me happy birthday. It felt good. My intention of choosing happiness was way better than my intention of being miserable.

This new year of my life, I have some true intentions for my life – not the kind that I hope to do, but the kind that I WILL do.

- I will be more intentional with my writing and publishing this year, taking this career path to a whole new level, and helping those writers around me through support and sharing what I know.
– I will be more intentional about getting out of debt so that I can have more freedom with my money and the plans I have for my life.
– I will be more intentional about my health, because I am much happier when I am eating right, getting exercise, and actually fitting into my clothes.
– I will be more intentional with my time, remaining focused on the plans I have for my life and deflecting distractions that serve to keep me from achieving my goals.

This year I also intend to grow out the hair I cut short last year. I miss my long hair! But I stop short at letting it go gray. I can only age gracefully one step at a time.

Goodbye 36. Hello 37.

10 rainy day musings

Happy December friends! I can’t believe we’re in our final month of 2014. What a crazy year it’s been! Here are 10 things I’m thinking of today as the year comes to a close.

1. It’s hard not to feel down when there is so much horrible stuff going on around the world, both close to home and far away. But it’s times like these that remind me of a Mr. Rogers quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Let’s make a stand to be the helpers. Here are some things you can do:
Smile more. Give loved ones your time. Step in when those around you need help. Say ‘I love you’ more. Hug. Use your phone as a talking tool, not just a texting tool. Be generous. Practice empathy. Stay positive.
One of my friends posted this to their Facebook page:


Let’s do more stuff like this. Let’s spread love in these troubled times. Are you with me?

2. My birthday is this Sunday! Want to know a confession? I cry every year on the day before my birthday. How terrible is that? I never thought I’d be the person who would mourn getting older. And I can’t even promise it won’t happen again this year. However, I’m also starting to view each birthday as the start of something brand new. My 36th year held so many wonderful things. What are my intentions for my 37th? This is something I’ll be thinking on for the next week until my new year begins.

3. My most recent book, The Road to Hope, actually hit the Amazon Bestsellers List this week! It got as high as #64 in the Women’s Fiction category, which is really, really hard to do. This was due to everyone taking advantage of the book’s discounted pricing, shooting it up in the rankings, and making it much more visible to other readers who may not have seen it otherwise. I cannot thank you enough!
BTW, The Road to Hope is still less than $1 for a limited time if you haven’t downloaded it yet. Check it out here: bit.ly/road2hopebook

4. It’s raining on and off here in Northern California, a foreign phenomenon in our drought-riddled parts. I don’t think I’ve ever loved the sound and smell of rain more than I do right in this moment. So what do you do on a rainy day? Go on a hike! The Mr. and I took a trek over to Mt. Tam to check out the waterfalls right after the rain broke this weekend. We weren’t disappointed. I took a video of the waterfall and included it on my YouTube page so I could share the magic.

5. This year I vowed to read more books. I made a goal over at Goodreads to read 24 books, figuring that 2 books a month would be a lofty, but worthy, goal. As of this moment, I am currently reading my 29th book, The Hunt for Wolf Eyes, by Sonoma County writer Ty Strange. I read all 29 of these books on top of writing and publishing several books, and discovered a bunch of new authors this year. Who knows, maybe I’ll aim to read 3 books a month next year…
Here are a few of my favorite books I read this year:
Maybe Someday, by Colleen Hover
Going to Solace, by Amanda McTigue
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green
Kissing Midnight, by Laura Bradley Rede
I’m always looking for recommendations on new books, so if you have a suggestion, send me a note.

6. Speaking of written books, I conquered my 5th NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year! If you don’t remember, that’s when writers strive to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I managed to cross the finish line on day 20, and finished the novel’s rough draft just a few days later.

7. And on that note, this novel I just wrote will be book 2 in my upcoming “Dessert For Dinner” series, coming out in 2015. This series combines magic, desserts, and lighthearted romance with 4 delicious stories. The first novel coming out is called Come Here, Cupcake. The book focuses on Morgan Truly, a girl who discovers she has the power to infuse her baking with her feelings – but not before she affects the whole town. Stay tuned for information on when this book will be released!

8. This holiday season, I am utilizing the talents of some of my artistic friends to give some gorgeous gifts. If you know any crafty people, I encourage you to do the same. Not only will you be giving an original gift that no one else can replicate, but you’ll also be directly supporting local artists! It’s a tough world out there for creatives to make a living off their craft, and there is a lot of competition from bigger companies with deeper pockets. Your support would be more than appreciated.
BTW, if you know of local artisans with gift-worthy creations, let me know! I’d love to spread the word on my Facebook page so that other people can find them too! If visit my page now, you can already find a few indie gifts there.

9. Earlier this year, I published the book, Forever Thirteen, the sequel to A Symphony of Cicadas that was never supposed to be. I just found out that it received an Honorable Mention for Young Adult books in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards for 2014! This is like winning 2nd place among thousands of entries! And to think, if my friend hadn’t insisted a sequel was in order, Forever Thirteen wouldn’t exist. Goes to show how much power readers have. :-)

10. I am so grateful for YOU. Here’s the proof. (P.S. Did you notice it’s snowing here? Love that about WordPress!)

Love you guys! And thank you for all your support!

The Road to Hope ~ 99 cents!

I’m trying out the Kindle Countdown deal, and so far, so good. It’s reached #27 in its category, and I’ve had more downloads in one day than I’ve had all month! Of course, a little bit of advertising doesn’t hurt… ;-)

If you’d like to download The Road to Hope for yourself, here’s the link: bit.ly/road2hopebook

Today a reader left a review stating that she never cries at books but this one had her in tears, so don’t forget to grab a tissue!

Sale ends on Dec. 2.

The Road to Hope

My thanks to you.

I’m at work today on Thanksgiving – my day job outside of writing. This is one of the things I’m grateful for – a job I get to go to every day, a chance to make a difference through my work, and a paycheck to support my family with. There are many who aren’t as fortunate as me. This is something I forget time to time, especially when I think work is especially hard. It’s not. And I am fortunate. Today I am listening to my coworker make her calls, and she’s so dang cheerful, just like every day. I love that about her. And I could learn something from her.

In my years, I’ve learned many things. But the most important is about having an attitude of gratitude. Even in my darkest times, there has always been something that has blessed me – a call from a friend, a smile from a stranger, a helping hand, food in my belly, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink….

There are many things going on in this world that confuse me. There’s a lot out there that makes me so sad for humanity. But there’s a lot of goodness, too. Today, I want to focus on that.

On that note, my heartfelt thanks go out to all of you – my family, my friends, and my readers. When I decided to start sharing my writing, you all supported me wholeheartedly. It is your support that I lean on when I feel discouraged. You never fail to cheer me on with each step I make in this writing adventure I’ve embarked on. I only hope my friendship and stories can reciprocate all you’ve done for me. Thank you so much.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. May your blessings be apparent today, and every day. And may you see how much of a blessing you are to those around you. <3

Winning NaNoWriMo, and a few other exciting tidbits

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileYup. I won NaNoWriMo! Yesterday I crammed in 5500 words to cross the 50K finish line. Today, I wrote another 4000 words. And this weekend I plan to wrap up the novel altogether with the last two chapters of Love Truffle No. 9, thus completing the (very) rough draft of my second book in the upcoming “Dessert for Dinner” series. This is my 5th NaNoWriMo I’ve officially “won.” To say I feel accomplished is an understatement.

Of course, writing 50K+ words in 20 days doesn’t come without a price. The editing process is going to be a long and windy road as I clean up all the muck and grime. However, underneath the messy parts, I am really pleased with how this novel turned out. I can’t wait until I can start releasing this series. I promise you, it will be well worth the wait!

In other news, I am gearing up for a massive discount on my latest novel, The Road to Hope. From November 28th (Black Friday!) to Dec. 2, the eBook will be on sale for only 99 cents. Of course, if you have Amazon Prime you can get it now for free. I do hope you’ll take advantage of this sale. Here’s the link —-> bit.ly/road2hopebook

book lovers smallAnd third, I am hosting a Facebook event titled “Book Lovers Holiday Bonanza.” I am still sorting out the details, but I can share a few of them with you now. The event is on Dec. 12 and will feature 5 authors who will be giving away their books throughout the day. There will be multiple chances to win, and I promise there will be some really cool prizes. Stay tuned for more details to come. For now, you are more than welcome to RSVP for the event here —-> facebook.com/events/1529396500651035

By the way, I’m still looking for authors to feature. To learn more on how you can get involved, click here.

That’s all for now!

Forever Thirteen named a winner in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards!

Forever ThirteenMy book actually won! Forever Thirteen earned an Honorable Mention in the Young Adult section of the contest. That’s like 2nd place in its category! And the fact that they chose my book out of thousands of others is a pretty huge honor.

So to celebrate, I am continuing my sale for Kindle readers. You can download Forever Thirteen for only 99 cents for a limited time by visiting bit.ly/Forever13.

To learn more about the book, go here.

Here’s what the judge had to say about Forever Thirteen:

Judge’s Commentary, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards: 

From the very first line to the very last page, I was captured by this well-penned story of love, loss, and friendship. What an amazing idea—a story about a young boy who died as he was on the precipice of coming of age—and he still gets to experience this and much more from beyond.  I love this concept and while it is poignant yet heartbreaking, the author does a wonderful job throughout.

Another thing worth mentioning here is that this book is a continuation of a prior book or a subsequent book in a series.  The author does a fantastic job of designing this story to be read as a standalone even if you haven’t read the prior novel.  This is sometimes a tough thing to achieve and the author has done a great job here.

On the production side, this novel is beautifully crafted and well-designed.  From the melancholy cover to the top-notch formatting and editing—this book scores big.  Nice pacing with an even flow of both narrative and dialogue throughout.  The author’s voice is spot on for the genre and intended audience.

Nice opening hooks which keep the reader engaged all the way through to the tear jerker of an epilogue.  This book has it all.  Well done.

10 Cozy Things

1. National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo) officially begins today. This month I will be busy writing the second book in a series I am releasing next month. I have literally been counting down the days until Nov. 1st! Join me at nanowrimo.org/participants/crissi

The Road to Hope2. The Road to Hope is published! I’ve received some positive feedback from everyone who reads it, and it makes me so happy to learn about new people reading it!

3. I was interviewed at Strand’s Simply Tips as their featured author. I encourage you to go check it out. Joyce Strand has such a great blog, and interviews some of the most interesting writers. I’m honored that she asked me to be one of them! She asked me some really insightful questions. But I think my favorite was when she asked me about how relevant heroes and villains were to my stories. Check it out to find out my answer.

4. It’s the day after Halloween and I am totally nursing a candy hangover. I swear, I am giving up all bad things until Thanksgiving….or at least until my hangover has passed. All right, that’s not really cozy, lol.

Forever Thirteen5. Remember my second book, Forever Thirteen? It’s 99 cents for Kindle right now. If you’ve been waiting to read it, now is the perfect time to do so. Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can read it on the Kindle app from your phone or computer. But hurry, this price isn’t staying this way forever.

6. We “fall back” tomorrow. That means one extra hour to do whatever you want. You could sleep in, or you could use that time to do something else. Me? I’ll obviously be writing. What will YOU be doing?

7. I have the cutest dog in the world. True story.

8. I recently discovered a new book called Peter: The Untold True Story. It’s a historical account of a child known as the “Wild Boy,” who could have been a partial inspiration behind Peter Pan. It’s fascinating. And every time I read it, I just want to curl up in the pages. I love anything Peter Pan. And I love cozy books like these.

9. First day of November means fires in fireplaces, hot cocoa in mugs, down comforters at night, cuddling on the couch…. I love autumn!

10. Only 37 more days until my birthday, and 55 days until Christmas!

Happy November everyone!