Shifting Gears and Finding Focus

It's sometimes hard to hone in on the most important bit...

NOTE: Read to the bottom of this newsletter for THREE coupon codes for free and discounted books!

I’ve been thinking a lot about an often-overlooked quote from Star Wars: Your focus determines your reality.

This quote became a little bit of a touchstone for me over the past year as I struggled to hold together my family during a health crisis. But even though we’re still in a global pandemic (keep wearing those masks, people!), the immediate crisis of getting a heart transplant for my husband has (mostly) passed.

And my focus? It’s been…scattered.

When I couldn't control the medical side of life—either globally or in my own home—I could control the words I wrote. So I wrote…a lot of them. In a pretty broad scope.

Last year, I wrote a YA science fiction that’s pure escape (and if you’re a praying sort, shoot up a prayer for it to find a publishing home, as this one is on sub to editors right now!). I also wrote a middle grade novel (which is also going on sub soon, eep!) that’s sort of the border between science fiction and fantasy. And I wrote an adult historical, different from anything I’ve ever written before ever.

Different worlds are different forms of escape, I suppose, and I had to write my own.

(And that’s not even mentioning the other super-secret project I co-wrote with an author on something of a whim in two short months?! Christmas holidays were too quiet, so we wrote a book instead.)

But now, with four complete novels under my belt in less than a year, I’m definitely feeling a bit…scattered. Do I keep working on this strange little graphic novel idea? Do I dive into research for a different adult historical novel? Maybe I should just craft more paper flowers…

The problem with a pandemic, I suppose, is that there’s so much limiting your focus—you can’t escape on a trip, or go out for coffee with friends, or toss your kid into an indoor play park—but at the same time there’s so much dividing your focus, not the least of which is indecision. Although Kindergarten Zoom homeschool classes, endless meal prep, and doomscrolling definitely hit high up on the list.

All this to say—if you’re in the same boat, you’re not alone. This pandemic is a flood, but some of us are chilling on a yacht and some of us are clinging to rafts and driftwood to stay afloat. On the bright side, with vaccine roll-outs and organized administration, at least the rains have, perhaps, stopped.

And in the meantime, at least there’s some slopes to discover…


For Readers

If you’re the kind of book lover who has a bookish best friend and an author that’s ride-or-die, you need to check out Ashley Schumacher’s Amelia Unabridged. I was lucky enough to meet Ashley through a Wordsmith Workshop (it still astounds me that we’re going to have so many alum with published books!), and this heart-warming story deals with some beautiful themes of loss, friendship, and, of course, books.

Read More


For Writers

This month’s Wordsmith Seminar is all about writing within fandoms and what we can learn by analyzing the stories we love. And our guest instructor is Preeti Chhibber, who’s worked with both Marvel and Star Wars, plus basically every media outlet that does nerdy fun things.

(Speaking of fandoms, who else has been totally sucked into WandaVision? I did not expect to love it as much as I do, but the whole surreal aspect of it keeps making me think of The Body Electric and the sort of weird-what’s-real-and-what’s-not stories I love that inspired that book.)

Anyway! Whether you are into franchised works or just want to know how to inject the same sort of amazing storytelling that fandoms use into your own writing, you definitely don’t want to miss Preeti’s seminar! And if you do miss it, you can always get replays of past seminars online as well.

More Info

ALSO! Visit Preeti’s twitter for a chance to win a FREE ticket to the seminar.

Although I may be casting around for my next story idea to really cement, Cristin and I have got plans for Wordsmith really locked into some very cool projects. Next month we’ll be debuting a whole new online program, and while I can’t tell you much about it yet, I teased it on my Instagram if you’d like a sneak peek… I recently finished the first part of this program, and I can already tell this is going to be a work of love that I really hope helps aspiring writers (and established ones! I take more writing courses now than I did before I was published!).


Thank you

It’s a little weird to have swapped over from MailChimp to SubStack. As I scanned the emails, I realized some of you have been with me since before I was published. It’s been a decade since Across the Universe came out. I am absolutely blessed to know you. Thank you for sticking with me, for believing in me, and for escaping into my stories.

With the switch in mail servers, I’ve also set up a new welcome email with an enticement to get people to sign with book coupons. I want to make sure you, my loyal subscribers, also get those coupon codes, especially since one of them is brand new.

For a free copy of The Future Collection, a short story anthology of science fiction, go here and use coupon code FM84Q. This collection features the short story that inspired The Body Electric, plus a novella set in the Across the Universe world…as well as lots of other original one-off sci fi stories. My personal favorites are the ones dealing with a time machine and the one dealing with a teleporter…

For 50% off the first Paper Hearts book, a collection of writing advice for all levels of writers, also go here and use coupon code MP39Y. You can use both coupons on the same order! This one may be good background reading for some future Wordsmith programs… ;)

And just in case you missed it…the first discount for subscribers of this newsletter was for The Body Electric. You can go here and use coupon code FF34R for 50% off that title as well. Although make sure you do that one quickly—it’s set to expire by the end of the month.