Happy Birthday to Me…With a Gift For You!

It’s that time of year again! Hard to believe that I hit the “Publish” button on Edge of Shadows just over a year ago on November 12th, 2011, and celebrated my birthday with the paperback version in hand (yes, for you sharp observers out there, that was the old cover). That was a pretty awesome day. 🙂

This writing journey over the last 12 months has been fantastic. I’ve learned a lot and I know my writing is getting better all the time because of the great feedback that I hear from my readers. That’s why, even though today is my birthday, I want to do something for you.

FREE COPY OF EDGE OF SHADOWS

In my mind, Edge of Shadows will forever be linked with my birthday. So from now through 11:59pm CST on Sunday, November 18th, either comment on this blog post or shoot me an email at cege@cegesmith.com, and I’ll give you a coupon code to download a copy of EOS for free from Smashwords.com (and if you write a review afterwards, good or bad, I’ll love you forever.)

JOIN THE CEGE SMITH FAN CLUB AND BE ENTERED TO WIN…

Everyone knows I am an HUGE, obsessed fan of The Vampire Diaries. It’s an addiction, I know, but I can’t stop. (Team Delena all the way!! Lol).

So here’s the deal. There’s a little box right off the right of this post about mid-way down the sidebar. It’s a sign-up box for joining my fan club. Enter your email address and join before 11:59pm CST on Sunday, November 18th, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win Elena’s vervain pendent ($50 USD value) shown below. (Fans of the show know it well.)

I don’t spam or anything like that- it’s just a way for you to hear about upcoming releases first, and I will occasionally share other awesome news from the Cege Smith universe.

So that’s it!  You pick your gift for my birthday- and you can absolutely do both. Thank you for being there and helping me celebrate! It’s because of you that these stories come to life.

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Look Ma! A Video Blog! Shadows updates and more…


I thought I’d try something new with today’s blog post- I’m giving you my updates “in-person”! Three different things I share here:

  • Where I am with the third Shadows book and I reveal its working title.
  • What’s coming up with my Virtual Haunted House Tour
  • A special treat for Edge of Shadows fans who always wanted to know what the Bradford mansion looked like.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

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The Beginning Of The End: Shadows #3

I think I have figured it out. The reason it has taken me so long to wrap my brain around the third and final book in the Shadows series.

At first I thought that it was because I didn’t know how the story was going to end. That’s a very legitimate and logical reason, and one I’m sure fans of the series could understand (even though y’all are gently nudging for me to get going- lol.) But that wasn’t it.

Then I got a bit distracted by writing three other books this past summer. That was really nothing other than a diversion (a very pleasant one! I love all those books too). I was using fake reason #1 to feed my insane need to procrastinate on everything I do.

As September loomed, I started to think that I couldn’t do Ellie, David, and crew justice. Ellie’s journey is one of transition and a final metamorphosis into the person she was always meant to be. I can’t trivialize or get it wrong for fear fans will hate me. Or I’d hate myself.

But after a long spell of reflection, and healthy distance from the outline I drafted of the book in early September, I’ve come to a stunning conclusion.

It’s all just a load of hogwash.

I haven’t written the third Shadows book because quite simply, I’m not quite ready for it all to end. That’s given me reason to pause. I am certain that this book is going to be the last Shadows book. There will be no more cliffhanger endings or waiting to find out what happens next. This will be THE END.

It has a sobering note of finality said like that, doesn’t it? Once I realized that all of these things were just ways for me to prolong the inevitable, something sort of amazing happened.

I was ready to begin. I was excited to dig in. I can’t wait to write the words that will eventually show you how it all ends. All good things eventually do come to an end. I don’t need to dread it. It was time to embrace it.

So fingertips flew over the keyboard last night, and Chapter 1 was born. Ellie is so different to me now then she was back in Edge of Shadows. But a lot has happened, and  there are still a lot of loose ends left to tie up. She had to change to make this journey believable, and for you to end up loving her as much as I do.

I’ll be updating you regularly here, and it’s a guarantee that if you are waiting, you’ll have the last book in your hands before the holidays. But I’m warning you in advance- it’s going to be a crazy ride. 🙂

Now is the chance for you to tell me: which character are you most looking forward to or hoping to see in the final book? There’s still lots of time for guest cameos…

(photo credit @boetter)

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Need a Kick in the Productivity Pants? Try Journaling

 This is Day 2 of my 31 Days of August Awesomeness posts. Click here for how it all started…

 Ask anyone who has known me for any length of time, and they will confirm what I am about to tell you: I am a lifelong procrastinator.  It is a crippling habit when paired with my other “p” weakness: perfectionism. What do you get accomplished when you are a perfectionist procrastinator?

Nothing.

I have had a bazillion false starts in my writing career. That’s why I spent 7 years working on the Edge of Shadows manuscript. That’s right: 7 YEARS! I wrote it, I edited it, I changed it, I got brave in 2009 and gave it to a bunch of beta readers, I edited it some more based on their feedback, I lost that version (whole other story), then I tweaked, moaned, and edited some more. It still wasn’t right. I felt like I still wasn’t ready, and so I shoved it away for another day.

Now that easily could have been the end of my story. Aspiring writer finds reality and trudges back to day job content to live out the rest of her life. 

Then quite by accident, I stumbled across a reference to a book on a writing blog called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If you are an artist, not even a writer but any kind of creator of artistic work, and you are stuck, you must run (don’t walk!) to Amazon and buy this book. I’m absolutely serious- the book will change your life.

I’ll wait.

The single most important habit that book taught me, and a habit I continue today is to journal. I journal three long-handed pages almost everyday. I started the self-paced The Artist’s Way course in October 2011, and as you can see by the picture at the top of this post, I’m on my 5th journal.

Why do I consider this course and this habit life-changing? I got out of my own way.

Consider this. Prior to October 2011, I had written two 50,000 word manuscript drafts which were both collecting dust in a drawer. Fast forward ten months. One of those manuscripts I published (Edge of Shadows), and then I’ve written and published 4 more. Ageless is written and with my editor, so that’s really 4 1/2 by my count. And I’m well underway on the next book.

My writing has been taken to a whole new level. I’m not afraid to take risks. I’ve had my share of failures and lessons learned, but that is far outweighed by the massive burst of energy and productivity that I’m leveraging on a daily basis.

It all starts with my journaling. In it, I allow myself to be whiny. I allow myself to be self-deprecating and get down on myself. I nit-pick dumb things I’ve done. But I also plan out what I want to get accomplished each day. I pat myself on the back for every victory. And I have a fabulous record of my writing journey. I get shivers thinking about being able to come back and read my first entry in my first journal five or ten years from now.

It’s heady stuff, powerful stuff. And it’s addictive.

Journaling has opened up my mind and jumpstarted my productivity. It’s one of my awesome productivity secrets, and I’m delighted to be sharing it with you.

By the way, you may be thinking “Well sure, Cege, you’re a writer so journaling is easy for you.” I may have written in a diary a couple of times when I was a teenager, but this kind of structured writing has never been part of my writing routine. Finding the time and sticking with it was a challenge. But in the end, it became part of my day and it’s something I look forward to.

So if you are looking for a way to shake up your routine and find massive loads of inspiration? Try journaling. Plus, it’s a great excuse to go shopping at your local bookstore. 🙂

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Public Accountability = Getting It Done

Every Sunday I go through the same set of motions with my writing goals. I review the upcoming week and I think about what I need to get accomplished and backtrack my to-do list from there. I realized today that I should be using the same philosophy for everything in my life that I want to button up on, because my life isn’t just about my writing (contrary to what my husband may believe).

One awesome way to shame motivate you to accomplish your goals is to make them visible to other people. Not that anyone’s going to come rap your knuckles if you don’t do it, but there’s something about declaring your intentions publicly that makes things feel more real. Plus, an upside is that often you’ll find other people who share the same goal so you celebrate or commiserate together. (Accomplishing goals can be social and fun? Who knew??)

So in the spirit of sharing a little bit more about me, I’ve decided to share my weekly goals over the course of the next few weeks.  I’ll do this on Sundays. Then the following Saturday, I’ll let you guys know how I did. If anyone else wants to play along because you see something on my list that’s one of your goals too, then drop me a comment and I’ll cheer you on too. 🙂

Cege’s Goals- Week of July 22nd

  • Launch Twisted Souls (Twisted Souls #2)
  • Finalize draft of Ageless- it’s due to my editor on 7/28!
  • Attend 2 workout classes
  • Walk 10,000 steps- put my Fitbit pedometer to good use
  • Track my food intake for the week
  • Read 1 book

None of this is hard or earth shattering, but all are things that I could struggle with if I don’t proactively keep up with them.

Even if you aren’t tracking to some of the things I am, I’d still love to hear what you are up to this week. Sound off in the comments below and have a great week!!

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