Is There Freedom In Writing?

Hey, gang! First, I want say thank you (SO much) for all of the encouragement and well-wishes left on my last post. Oklahoma is hard at work on the recovery process, and I've read so many extraordinary stories of people coming to aid those in need from loved ones on Facebook.

Authors Helping Oklahoma

Along those lines, I know many of you are authors and looking for a way to contribute. I recently learned of a group of authors on Facebook who are putting together a book auction with proceeds going toward tornado relief. The effort is being spearheaded by our own Shelly Arkon, and they are currently still accepting book donations from authors who want to help. (They are also accepting general donations with all monies generated going to the American Red Cross.)

You can check it out here

Together At Last!

In my own writing news, I've just released the first Moonsongs Anthology. It collects the first three Moonsongs books (Blood Fugue, Witch's Nocturne, & Dark Prelude) in one volume. 

BLURB: Jenny Schmidt is a young woman with old heartaches. A small town Texas girl with big city attitude, she just doesn’t fit in. Not that she has ever tried...

Her life is thrown into chaos when she receives a message from her thought-to-be-dead grandfather, Billy Moonsong. After meeting with him, Jenny learns that her Apache ancestors were feared monster hunters on the plains of West Texas, and that she is next in line to take up the mantle.

Suddenly, she has a purpose and direction in life, but will she live long enough to fully realize it?

The Moonsongs Anthology 1 collects the first three Moonsongs books--a series of New Adult paranormal-horror-action novelettes--in one exciting volume. Follow Jenny and her best friend Marshal on their dangerous quest to unlock the secrets of her past.

Moonsongs Anthology 1 collects the three previously published Moonsongs adventures: Blood Fugue (Book 1), Witch's Nocturne (Book 2), and Dark Prelude (Book 3).

The three stories combined are approximately 154 pages or 47,000 words. Also included in the anthology is exclusive access to Jenny's own secret monster hunting journal. An account--in her own colorful words--of what she has faced so far, and a few tips for the next Moonsong huntress who might come along.

The anthology is available digitally at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $2.99. 

If you're curious about the series, the first book, Blood Fugue, has now gone permanently free on Amazon.

Is There Freedom In Writing?

There are many misconceptions about what writers do, and how the writing process takes place. Many folks think writers are dizzy daydreamers, caught up in one fanciful thought after another, and that we simply sit at our computers and crank out story after story.

There's also this myth about the boundless freedom--both in practice and spirit--that all writer's must surely posses. Yes, writers must live in a land of rainbows and no fences, racing up one grass-covered hill just to roll down into another flower-filled meadow below.

Here's the thing: There are points in writing that feel extremely confining. Down right suffocating, in fact. Mentally, it probably has more in common with a darkened, 5x5 ft cell with no doors you'd see in one of those SAW horror movies than an endless, sunlit vista. 

You have to commit a staggering amount of time to a single project if you plan on seeing it become fit for public consumption. You'll likely have to forfeit many important and fun things in your personal life to enjoy writing success. 

You'll read the same story a thousand times, live in the same character's head for months and months, and have most of your idol thoughts devoured by trying to fill the same damned plot hole you had when you started the project two years prior. (The writing and story are better, but the plot hole remains... always.) 

In writing, you have to have the mentality of a parent: You gave birth to that story, and will only be parted from it when it grows up and leaves you, or someone pries it from your cold, dead hands. 

So I'd argue there's very little freedom in writing. At least in the sense people think... But there is power in it. 

You eventually learn how to tell a story, and tell it in only the way you can. The more you write, the more you'll learn how to use the various tools and tricks to elicit a desired feeling in the reader. And there's power in that control. 

Once you know how to share and evoke emotion with words, you'll start to feel like you could tell any story, and take readers to the incredible places you thought only existed in your own head. 

But as Uncle Ben once told Peter Parker, with great power comes great responsibility, and that responsibility is choosing how to spend your writing time. Assuming you don't have an infinite amount of it, you'll have to decide which project gets your attention.

So I ask you: Do you feel completely free in your writing? How do you go about choosing your next project? If you're published, do your readers choose them for you? If you're unpublished, do you let your inspiration carry you?


A Hard Day

Hey, gang. I'd planned to do some kind of writing related post today after taking last week off from the blog, but the Oklahoma tornado yesterday has kind of left me in one of those 'nothing I do is important' kind of places.

Most of you know I live in Texas. But I spent most of my life in Oklahoma. Almost all of my family, and my wife's family, still live there. I'm overjoyed to report they are all safe. Some cousins lost everything they own except for their lives, but all are accounted for.

The thing about Oklahoma that you wouldn't understand unless you've spent some time there, is how close we are as a state. That's partially due to it being a smaller state population-wise, and partially due to it being a primarily rural state. (We have 2 metropolitan areas, Oklahoma City & Tulsa. Both are fairly modest as far as big cities go.) 

Closeness there isn't so much measured by proximity--get any old farmer to tell you about his "neighbors" and he'll mention some place 10 miles down the road--as it is the spirit of togetherness you share with the folks around you.

We celebrate the triumphs of our fellow Oklahomans like they were our own (most of us from there can recite all of the astronauts, famous musicians, athletes, etc. that claim Oklahoma as home like recalling our own family tree), and unfortunately, we also feel the pain of tragedy like it's our own. 

I've shed a lot of tears since last night. My Oklahoman neighbors--my "family"--have lost children, parents, grandparents, siblings, pets, homes... too much to even comprehend. All in the span of a 30 minute monster storm. 

The days ahead will be worse for them. The shock will wear off, and they'll be left to process the literal and psychological shreds their lives have become. Many will never regain what they've lost, and none will ever be the same.

But if you flip on the news, you'll see the real magic of the state going on already. My Facebook is overrun with people from the far reaches of Oklahoma already loading up semi-trailers full of supplies and donations to send to those affected. My nephew, who lives in Oklahoma City, went to the damaged area early this morning to start helping with the cleanup (he's an electrician, so he'll be a valuable volunteer, I think), and he's one of thousands that will do so. In fact, at some point they'll have to turn the general volunteers away there'll be so many.

Many of the major catastrophes to have hit Oklahoma (the Oklahoma City bombing, the May 3rd, 1999 F5 tornado--which hit almost the exact same area as yesterday's storm, etc.) and this is the way it always is. Oklahomans don't wait around for permission or incentive to help one another, they just do.

But it won't be enough. Not this time. There's just too many people impacted by this, and the losses are total for so many. There'll be people living in shelters for weeks, the only things they have left are what they wore in.  There'll be thousands of pets with lost owners that will need to be fed and taken care of until they can be reunited or adopted. There'll be scores of injured folks that need blood and time to heal--time with no income for food and the necessities. The thousands of workers required to clean something of this scale up will need water, work gloves, and more to be able to do what they need to do... the list is endless.

So I'm asking all of you, if you're able, to help in some way. Maybe it's just by sharing this post and saying a few prayers. Maybe you can text the Red Cross to donate $10 (info below the pics & video). Maybe you're part of a church group or other organization, and can instigate a drive to send goods to those impacted. Whatever you can spare or do, it will be desperately needed, and forever appreciated.  

I'm sharing some of the photos and videos I've seen in the last few hours that have impacted me the most. Below those, you'll find links with information on how you might be able to help. All of them are through locally and nationally recognized aid organizations, and I tried to provide links so you can investigate them yourself. 

Thank you in advance for any help from an Oklahoman, for all of Oklahoma.


Video: Woman finds her dog in the rubble of her home on live TV.

Video: Stunning footage. 

PHOTOS: Gallery of incredible destruction and survivor photos.

PHOTO: Being reported as the largest tornado on record at 2 1/4 miles wide.

PHOTO: A giant hail stone from the storm.

PHOTO: Puppy survives the storm.



Text: REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 (charged to your mobile bill I believe...)

Go to to donate

United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund is open.
Donations may be made online at or by mail to United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK 73101 with notation for May Tornado Relief.

Contributions to the Moore & Shawnee Tornado Relief Fund can be made securely online at Donations can also be mailed to TCF offices at 7030 S. Yale, Suite 600, Tulsa, OK, 74136.


The Pet Food Pantry of OKC is offering dog food, cat food, leashes, collars, food bowls, etc to those in need. (405) 664-2858 (Go to the website to donate funds to their efforts.)

The Lost & Found May 20 Tornado Facebook page. (They share lots of good information about who is housing pets, etc.)


The Red Cross truly needs your money as much as anything (they are already housing and feeding hundreds of people this AM), but if you're someone who can organize a large scale goods drive, some of the items being requested are:

energy bars,
non-perishable food,
cat and dog food,
air mattresses,
diapers for children and adults,
formula and bottles,
peroxide, disinfectant alcohol and medical supplies.

NEW items requested are rakes, shovels, brooms, bottled water, leather gloves, sunscreen, DEET insect spray, dust masks, trash bags and lip balm. 

If you plan on doing a drive in the coming weeks, please contact the Red Cross prior to see what things they might need, as this list will likely change as more people donate and conditions continue to evolve. 

IWSG + Indie Life: Debunking Perfection

Hey, gang! Hope everyone is doing well. Sorry I've been MIA lately, lots of travel, etc. and more to come I'm afraid. But I'm going to check in as often as I can. (So no house parties!)

I've been reading a lot of A to Z retrospective posts lately. Most of them sound something like this: "I screwed up and missed a day or two. I was overly ambitious with my theme. I feel like I've been on a month-long acid trip, I now wear bifocals, a clump of my hair fell out in the shower from the stress, and I have seizures every time my child sings his A,B,C's... but I had fun."

I've done A to Z a grand total of one time and that was enough to make me sympathize with you. It is fun. You meet crazy amounts of people. But it can totally deplete your blogging and social media mojo. Like for months. 

It's especially hard on people who strive for perfection, or are just really serious about doing a good job. Which, DING DING DING you guessed it, includes most of us writer types.

You don't write for publication if you aren't driven to prove yourself--maybe just to you. Getting a story from concept to polished and shareable is grueling work. You have to care. Lots. It may sound harsh, but the people who don't care just don't last long in this business.

As part of that caring we often shoot for perfection. Or what we perceive to be perfection. Why put that pressure on ourselves? Because it's seemingly all everyone around us does.

Those annoyingly perfect bloggers that never miss a day, have ALL the followers, and share stuff so important that you never miss a post even though you secretly despise them. The authors who publish a new book every month and have one-hundred 5 star reviews two weeks before the book even drops. Those social media gurus who rack up follows and retweets like a dog collects fleas. The writer who just signed a six-figure deal for her first novel that isn't even finished and is exactly like the book you just read, just with angels instead of vampires, and were-monkeys instead of wolves.

They're perfect. Their lives are perfect. I bet if we went over to their house right now we'd find a Lexus with a bow on it in the driveway, their 2.5 kids playing hopscotch in the street with no traffic, and a labrador and kitten frolicking with deer in the front yard. It's enough to make you gag, but it shouldn't...
My fellow indies and insecure writers, I'm here to let you in on a little secret: It's total BS. Perfection is a myth. ESPECIALLY in the writing business. 

We are ALL fraught with worry that our last story was indeed our last. We all set up at night wondering what the heck we're going to blog about tomorrow, or if we even want blog again at all. We all have days and weeks go by without writing a thing and are embarrassed by it because we call ourselves writers. We all watch television, Facebook, and Tweet when we should be reading something that will help us get better. We all have a backlog of manuscripts from friends we need to read and critique, but barely have time to sleep, so we keep putting them off. We all get bad reviews. We all have to answer to relatives we love who ask the, "When will you have something published?" questions. We all blush when we're truthful about how much time we put into this stuff and how little money we make in return. We all wish we did it for something other than money, but secretly know we'd sure like to make some money, too. We are all sick of rejection, and are ashamed by the number of dead manuscripts we have lying in the 'graveyard hard drive'. We all regret a few queries we hit 'send' on prematurely, a few blog posts we've published in anger, and the friends we've let down or lost touch with along the way to wherever we're at. We all reach a point where we want to give up.

So I guess I'm asking for everyone to let go of that perfection goal for a little while. (Doesn't have to be forever.) It's lofty and unattainable in your writing and in your life. It's okay to miss blog posts, to fail to promote a friend because you forgot, and to not write for a few days. Heck, it might even be a healthy dose of perspective.

And speaking of missing blog posts! My apologies to my IWSG friends for missing last Wednesday's monthly go-round. I have no excuse other than life swept me away. I'll do better next month, and know that you heavily inspired today's post. :) 

Click the buttons to learn all about the Indie Life group and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. They are full of fantastic folks, and you won't regret joining up. 


Come Party With NA Alley & NA Lit Chat + Maybe Win A Load of Books!

It's party time!!! Come join us at #NAPARTY tonight at 8pm EDT over at Twitter. We have some serious book prizes to give away tonight, so you're not going to want to miss it.

Who: NA Alley
What: Our 1st Blogiversary Party
Where: Twitter (#NAParty)
When: May 02, 2013 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT
Why: Because we love you!

Come on and check out the author websites. They all donated to this awesome event so let's give them some love:

Summer Lane: Website | Blog | Twitter
Carrie Butler:  Amazon | Twitter | Facebook
EJ  Wesley: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook
Lynn Rush: Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon
Juliana Haygert: Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Victoria Smith: Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Jaycee DeLorenzo: Blog | Goodreads | Twitter
LG Kelso: Blog | Twitter

Once the NA Alley Party is over, join the after party at NA Lit Chat!

Hey, gang! (E.J. here) Once you're done partying with Lynn and the others, I hope you'll stick around for the official NA Alley Blog-NA Lit Chat After Party! It's super exclusive, and only those who know the password are allowed in. Closed-toed shoes and bottle service are a must!

Okay, it's not THAT exclusive, but it does require a Twitter account and the use of the #NALitChat tag in your tweets. And you'll probably be asked to verify your fandom for Channing Tatum... but that's a story for another time. :)

What is NA Lit Chat? I'll tell you: In 2012 I stumbled across this band misfit NA bloggers called NA Alley. I got really excited about this NA stuff, started tweeting with the Alley contributors, and began cyber-stalking their blogs.

In one of my correspondences to them I said that I was going to start using the #NALitChat tag on Twitter, because if YA, Adult, Indie, etc. had their own hash, NA should too. Shortly thereafter, one of the Alley ladies contacted me and said, "Hey, we should totally have a weekly chat, too. Why don't you do it?"

I was like, "I don't know how... but hell yes!"

Much weeping, gnashing, and planning ensued, but eventually we gave birth to a thriving Twitter chat in July of last year. You'll notice I said "we", because without the gentle--but persistent--nudging and support of the Alley folks I don't think I'd have had the courage to do it on my own.

Since that time, the chat has boomed. We trend on Twitter most weeks. Some of the fledgling writers who I first met on the chat not even a year ago are now USA Today and NYT bestselling authors. (No credit to the chat by the way--just an example of the kind of awesome we attract! lol) We regularly have guests and publishing industry experts who share their knowledge and insight with our NA chatters. All of which might not seem like that big of a deal, but when we started this thing, I figured most weeks it would be me, Carrie, Jaycee, Victoria, Summer, Juliana, Bailey, and L.G. talking about what we had for dinner.

In short, I've been blown away by all the fervor for NA just like everyone else, and I like to think the chat is a small part of it all. And I also think NA Alley--like so many other things in the NA community of ours--was a key part of making it happen.

So join us (9 PM EST) after the NA Alley Twitter Celebration tonight, and help Carrie and the others keep the party going.You'll meet a ton of fellow NA cheerleaders, chat with NA authors, and probably make some new friends, too. Bonus: We do this Twitter NA chat thing EVERY Thursday night, so you might even have a new hangout when it's all said and done.

Happy Blogiversary NA Alley!

Your Grateful Fans,

E.J. & Everyone From #NALitChat