On Writing and Depression

I’ve been wanting to do a blog post for a while, to reach out to readers and fill them in on what is going on with me. I’ve drafted it in my head a gazillion times, scrawled down bullet-pointed notes on scratch paper and even typed out a full post that I never showed a soul. They all seemed wrong or full of TMI or just… not what I needed to say.

In short, the book is late. It’s very late. You have all noticed. 

It was all going so smoothly and wonderfully at the beginning of this year when suddenly, it wasn’t. 

I can point to a number of possible reasons, list them out one by one. But in short, somewhere around late spring everything came to a halt, then, as I struggled, it came in fits and starts. The process became mired in a boglike landscape, temporarily alleviated by tiny but fleeting bubbles of hope. 

And when people have approached me kindly–and not so kindly–asking, hoping and sometimes demanding I tell them when the book is coming, I never had an answer. Because I refused to make a promise on something I couldn’t be sure of. And how would I begin to explain that I couldn’t be sure of my own brain?

Drafting brand new words out of nowhere has always been the most difficult part of the process for me. And with each subsequent book I’ve written, that process has taken longer and longer. What I drafted in weeks in At Any Price, suddenly became months and longer with each new book.

The first draft is a map… a map you draw while driving at night with very dim headlights. You push yourself to speed ahead while simultaneously trying to stifle the panic of not knowing exactly what you’re facing in that dimness in front of you. It’s anxiety-inducing.

The second draft, is infinitely better, because by that time, I’ve lived with these people in my head and I’ve mapped out the events to a sufficient extent and depth that I can look at them as if they are sitting in my living room, lounging on my couch and sipping tea and eating cookies from my dinnerware. I only have to sit nearby and “eavesdrop” on them to get their mannerisms and inflections and words just right. I can see the color and pattern of the tablecloth, the dust motes swirling in the sunlight. The details all fall into place.

But over the last little while, I’ve become aware of this mounting problem–that the increase demand in time I was taking to produce books was almost all because of this formidable first draft anxiety. And when I set out on this one at the beginning of the year, I vowed that this book would be different. 

What I hadn’t counted on was the underlying problem. Because…what do you do when your brain lies to you and tells you relentlessly that each sentence you put down on the page is terrible? That the story is awful and no one will enjoy it? That you may have been able to do this (write a book) before but this time you won’t be able to?  You remind yourself again and again that this is a DRAFT and no one will see it until it’s ready and you’ll have more time to go over it again. 

But somehow, somewhere, the process breaks down and you start to believe the lies coming from your own brain and each time you fall, it takes longer and longer to summon the will to go back to it. It takes longer and longer to gather the courage to face the manuscript again because you’re so steeped in those lies, they become your truth. 

And soon you’re in a deep hole looking up. As each day passes, the feeling compounds and you’re wondering how you’ll ever get out. And you compare yourself to everyone else doing it and seeing how it appears effortless to them and it just makes it all worse “knowing” how inferior you are to every other author out there.

And that is where I was this week, wondering how or when I could scrape up the courage to get back to this draft, all 97,000 words of it (so far) and finally finish so I could redraft. It was a mountain and I was so far from the summit that I couldn’t see. I was stuck there, all hope flagging…

Tonight, I went with my family to see the movie, Frozen 2. And (spoiler alert) at one point, Ana finds herself trapped in a deep hole underground and she thinks all is lost, including her closest loved ones. Then, she begins to sing and her song spoke to me so clearly about my current writerly predicament…that it took my breath away.

She sings, 

“I’ve seen dark before, But not like this…. This grief has a gravity. It pulls me down”

And the tears came because she was singing to me, about me and though I wasn’t actually in a deep dark hole mourning my loved ones, I was figuratively in this deep dark hole mourning the process of doing something I once loved so much I spent every spare moment of time I had to do it willingly. Telling stories is what defined me in so many ways and I was mourning the loss of it…

And like her, my hope was waning and almost gone. And I was crying and getting a headache identifying with this character singing in the crystal clear beautiful voice and mourning along with her. But then, the tone of the song turned and as I listened, even more tears came. I was right there with her, looking at this monumental task of getting our way out of this deep hole, looking up and wondering how.

Then that raw and empty feeling gave way to a pinpoint of light. 

She sang on…

“But a tiny voice whispers in my mind, ‘You are lost, hope is gone. But you must go on and do the next right thing… Take a step, step again. It is all that I can do.”

2019 will be the first calendar year as a published author that I will not produce at least one book. I’m overwhelmed with sadness at the thought of that failure. But it doesn’t have to remain that way. 

Tonight I’ll take to my keyboard again and I’ll just focus on the next thing to do instead of the overwhelming task of all of it. Instead of climbing the mountain, I’ll just take the next step.

“I won’t look too far ahead. It’s too much for me to take. But break it down to this next breath. This next step. This next choice is one that I can make.”

And while I can’t promise an exact release date for For The Taking, I can promise that when it does release, it will be the story that I will be proudest of, because it will be the next step. 

And then I’ll keep on walking.

Happy 5th Anniversary, Adam & Mia !

HAPPY 5th Anniversary to Adam & Mia!

In celebration of At Any Price being published 5 years ago, this week, I’ve commissioned a special anniversary hardcover edition of the novel featuring its original cover. You guys, it is SO SO PRETTY!

For the month of December, only, the book is for sale at cost, no markup, for $19.99

(reg. price is $24.99)

Here’s a FAQ for the anniversary edition

Is the content any different?

No, it’s the same novel you know & fell in love with, only in a blue cloth hardback with dust jacket containing the original cover design with a glossy finish.

Where can I buy it?

Order it from Amazon Prime and you’ll get it in 2 days. But there are other places you can get it, too.

Amazon.com

Amazon.UK
Barnes and Noble
Book depository (ships worldwide, postage included)
Books a million

Can I order a signed copy?

Yes, you can. Contact me through this site contact form for details, options and shipping prices.

HIGH REWARD is LIVE : Why Astronauts, Brenna? [+ Giveaways]

GET HIGH RISK and start reading now:  [Apple Books] [Amazon] [Kobo] [Nook] [GooglePlay]

I honestly believe that these two books are some of the best writing I’ve ever accomplished… I’d love to tell you why this series means so much to me.

I like to think of the Point of No Return series as my way of expanding the universe of Gaming The System. When it came time for me to stretch my wings and try something a little different, I started exploring where I could go and how I could meld the new series into the world of Adam, Jordan, William, bloggers and interns and Draco Multimedia and Dragon Epoch.

Some of you have asked me, “Why astronauts, Brenna?” Why XVenture and test flights and new expeditions into low earth orbit?

"You are a wicked, wicked man." "This I already know."

It all started with that one throwaway fact about Adam Drake’s recent past in At Any Price. He’d spent millions to launch with the Russian Space Program to go up in a Soyuz rocket and spend 10 days on the ISS. He always described that event as the “highlight of his life” (pre-Mia, of course!) . When I saw The Martian, I was captivated with this high stakes survival story. So I rushed home, read the book and couldn’t stop thinking about the story and the characters.  Then I wanted to write a new Happily Ever After ending for that book… and the two ideas grew into one.

The Martian actually has a very abrupt ending, which I found unsatisfying. So I began to imagine an HEA for Astronaut Mark Watney coming back to earth, dealing with all of the consequences of his nearly 2-year long sojourn on Mars. Does he find love when he gets back to earth? What’s his life like after having been isolated for so long? Did he experience any sort of trauma when he returned to normal life? What was it like to return a massive iconic international hero? Would he meet the woman of his dreams, settle down and have baby astronauts or end up old and alone?

It didn't hurt. At least not in the way that you think.

It’s how a writer’s brain works and it was exactly this reason that I wanted to explore new characters involved in space exploration for my own books. But I write contemporary romance and I wasn’t interested in writing science fiction (for now).

So I invented XVenture and based this new series on the real world: commercial space companies, the ISS, and the NASA-Roscosmos partnership that puts astronauts into low earth orbit. Astronauts are among our generation’s modern heroes, the epitome of courage and the spirit of adventure.

And my heroes are known for being sexy, ridiculously smart, competent and intense. Like Ty, who is an ultimate heroic figure, a Navy SEAL who became an astronaut on a bet and ended up saving the ISS in a crisis. He’s whip smart, impossibly gorgeous, hyper protective and very much an alpha male. But he’s also broken.

High Risk takes place directly during the aftermath of this serious accident in which Ty loses his best friend and subsequently blames himself. You guys, I fell in love with this story and discovered that brilliant, intuitive and lovably-nerdy Gray was the perfect heroine for this beautifully wounded man.

This duet may involve people involved in modern space exploration but the books are about love. Love against the odds.

I haven't been this heavily invested in a couple since Adam & Mia.

I hope you enjoy these latest releases. I am SO PROUD of High Risk and High Reward. I’ve poured my heart and soul into these books and look forward to continuing the series later next year. If you like the Gaming The System books, the odds are high that you will like these, too.

Adam Drake is directly involved with this storyline and will be seen throughout the Point Of No Return series. In fact, you’ll see some storylines having to do with that in future Gaming The System books.

This may be a new series but many readers have said that this is still very much a Brenna Aubrey story even though it’s a slightly different cast of characters.

I hope you’ll join me for this brand new adventure.

Both books in Ryan & Gray’s duet are NOW AVAILABLE.

Pick up HIGH REWARD now: [Apple Books] [Amazon] [Kobo] [Nook] 

Below, check out TWO different signed book giveaways to enter!

signed book giveaways

 

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2nd Teaser: HIGH REWARD, coming THURSDAY & Giveaway

HIGH REWARD

(Point of No Return #2)

The second book in Ryan & Gray’s complete duet

Releases on 6 December — This Thursday !!

~

Second Teaser :  I’m Sorry

Last thing I remembered before I drifted off were his words, merely a wisp of a breath into my hair, like a breeze. Like a premonition. "I'm sorry."

He was looking for redemption. Instead, he found her.

After a rocky start, former Navy SEAL-turned-astronaut Ryan “Ty” Tyler and nerdy flight psychologist Gray Barrett found they worked well together. Ty managed to tame his playboy reputation, and cautious Gray got her first taste of adventure. They had a good thing going. Until a good thing turned into a smoking hot thing…and that turned into a falling-in-love thing.

Now Ty’s facing an impossible choice. Shake the demons of his past, or give up a future with the only woman he could ever love.

Pre-Order HERE:

[Apple Books] [Amazon] [Kobo] [Nook] 

~ ~ ~

There’s still time to pick up & read the the 1st book in

Ryan & Gray’s story, HIGH RISK

Get it Here:

[Apple Books] [Amazon] [Kobo] [Nook] [GooglePlay]

 

 

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