I Want To Be Like Taylor Swift When I Grow Up

49th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards - Backstage And Audience

I am in awe of Taylor Swift. She’s one of my favorite famous people. And yes, I hope to be like her when I grow up.

I know, she’s younger than me. By almost ten years. But that has nothing to do with it.

I was watching the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night. Taylor was up for two awards on her own and three for Highway Don’t Care (Tim McGraw’s song that she was a guest singer for). Highway Don’t Care won one award but Taylor didn’t win any on her own. She performed, but wasn’t on stage to give a thank you speech at any point.

I was disappointed. Honestly. I think she’s very talented. But that’s not why I want to be like her when I grow up.

Taylor Swift is (outwardly since I’ve never actually met her) an amazing person. She’s talented, driven, focused, generous, and true to herself. But it’s that last one that I admire so much. She knows who she is and she’s not afraid to share it with the world.

We should all be so brave.

During Miranda Lambert’s acceptance speech for Female Vocalist of the Year she didn’t say anything about Taylor. She mentioned what an honor it was to win over the other women and how much she admired them, but Taylor’s name was conspicuously absent. It may have been an oversight, but in my mind it said Taylor isn’t called up for slumber parties with the other women.

Another part of the show Darius Rucker sang Wagon Wheel. I don’t know what it is about that song but it’s catchy and makes you want to dance. The entire crowd was on their feet singing along. It was awesome. But when the camera flashed to Taylor, she was dancing. In the aisle. By herself. She was carefree, singing along and dancing without a care in the world. It was awesome. (The picture above is one taken when she was dancing.)

I wouldn’t have had her guts. Would you?

Taylor is not someone I admire because she’s popular. She’s someone I admire because she’s living the life she wants to live. She’s had shitty luck in relationships, her songs attest to that, but she’s her own person. Yeah, I’d love to see her find someone that suits her, but only if that’s what she wants. If she’s happy alone, good for her.

No matter what, she’s strong, kind, and unique. And I respect the hell out of that.

It’s important to have someone to look up to. Yeah, it’d be cool if I could call her up and get some inspiration or advice from her. But that’ll never happen. Still, watching her live her life and be exactly who she is inspires me enough.

You don’t have to have hundreds of close friends to be popular.

You don’t have to have awards lining your shelves to be successful.

You don’t have to have a husband to be happy.

You don’t have to have a ton of money to be generous.

But…

You have to know who you are and be willing to share that person with the world.

You have to be true to yourself and not bend because of anyone else.

You have to be willing to go against everyone else to do what’s right for you.

It’s hard. I struggle all the time with it. In some ways we all do. But I’m learning every day. It’s what I’m teaching my kids and try to show them. But it’s easier to sit back and watch someone like Taylor Swift be herself. It’s easy to think she’s perfect and she has it all so it’s not that big of a deal. But I think she has more struggles than we realize. Her music tells us what’s in her heart, but for someone who sings so much about love and loss, she’s alone. My heart breaks for her. They say it’s lonely at the top and unfortunately she’s finding that to be true.

But I have no doubt Taylor will come out ahead. She’s a focused, determined, beautiful woman and one day she’ll find the person who appreciates all that.

I just hope her music is as good…

Who makes you push just a little harder to be yourself?

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Being Brave

We reached a huge milestone in our family this week. My daughter decided to get her ears pierced!

New Pierced Ears!
New Pierced Ears!

Hubby and I told princess when she turned five (last August) that it was up to her when she was ready to get her ears pierced. It was a process thanks to our decision to take her to a piercing studio instead of the mall because of this article. We knew we were doing the right thing for her, but it was also a bit of a hassle. Not only did we have to get a signed letter from her doctor (state law requires physician approval) but we also had to do one ear at a time – not easy with a nervous five year old.

But she did it. It was scary and it hurt, but she did awesome. I was a very proud mommy.

And yeah, I learned something from her about bravery.

For years I loved reading and writing, but never saw anything with it as a potential career. I know a part of me was scared, just like my daughter sitting in that chair on Tuesday afternoon.

Over the last few months I’ve been writing like crazy. I’ve felt called to be a writer. It might sound strange to think God was telling me I should write romance novels, but I really do feel that way. It’s odd and a little uncomfortable to imagine him reading over my shoulder, but hey, why not!

Bravery is something we all have to have at some point in our lives. For my daughter bravery came when she sat in that chair and not once, but twice, had to be ready for her ear to be pierced. For me bravery comes every time I hit publish. I love writing and think I’m good (let’s face it, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe in myself), but it’s easier to believe in your talents when you’re getting justification in the way of sales!

Being brave is hard. Matt, the man who pierced princess’s ears, said, “Bravery is not not being scared. Bravery is being scared but doing it anyway.” I know I’ve heard that before, but it rang true with me this week.

Playing By The Rules finally went free last week on Amazon. I was excited, but also terrified. I was really putting my work out there. I knew it would get in more hands and I would be opening myself up to bigger rewards but also bigger let downs. Still, it had to be done if I was going to move forward.

As I write this Rules has been downloaded hundreds of times. It is top 1000 on Amazon’s free books and top 50 in two women’s fiction categories. I’m thrilled by that. But it has one review on Amazon and  one on Smashwords (both are five star reviews so that made me incredibly happy).

I sit back and worry that hundreds of people now have my book in their library and only two of them decided to write anything about it. Does that mean it sucked? Does that mean no one else had anything nice to say about it? Or does that mean nothing?

I have no idea.

What I do know is I have to be brave.

So I sit down at my computer day after day and I keep writing. I’m working on my next book. I’m planning out the ones that will come after that. I develop ideas and social media posts and blog posts and push forward.

Because maybe, just maybe, of those hundreds of people who have my newest book, there are some who loved it and just don’t like leaving reviews. Maybe they’re thrilled with what I’ve written but don’t realize how important reviews are for a writer.

Who knows?

But being brave is my only option. If I love my work (which I do) I need to keep writing and believe in myself. I’ve gotten lots of great feedback from readers and it keeps me going. I have no reason to doubt it.

I might sound like a spoiled child looking for her parents’ approval. In a way I guess I am! Honestly, I crave positive feedback, just like everyone else. One of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, writes all the time that she wants “gold stars” for the things she does. We all do. We want to know that what we say and what we do has made a difference to someone.

So I sit back and I think about the people who’ve downloaded my books and I thank them for taking a chance on me. Then I think about the people who leave a review for me and thank them for their kind words and their belief in me. Then I think about the people who’ve signed up to be on my mailing list and thank them for liking my work enough to want to follow me.

And I know I’m on the right path.

But I still have fears. I worry about the first negative review (because I know I’ll get some). I worry I won’t be able to focus on the great words I’ve gotten and will instead focus on the bad ones. But the truth is, if someone doesn’t like my work, they are just not my ideal client. And that’s okay. I still need to push forward.

So I’m going to be brave, just like my princess.

What inspires you to be brave?

Ten Facts About Me

My Family Christmas 2013
My Family Christmas 2013

It’s time to get personal. If you’ve read my about page, you know a bit about me, but I know there’s still things you don’t know. I figured if you’re reading this, you might want to get to know me a little better. If not, that’s cool.

So I’m going to tell you ten things about me that you may or may not know. Then I want you to tell me something about yourself. I love getting to know my readers. You are so important to me because without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this. So share!

1. I’ve been married for ten years and a mom for almost six and still feel like I’m not old enough for that kind of responsibility. I’ll be 34 in a few weeks, but I’m still fakin’ it! I told my hubby that I’m finally getting used to being married so maybe in four more years I’ll be used to being a mom. Who knows!

2. I listen almost exclusively to country music. In middle school one of my best friends had two older cousins that listened to country music and got me into it. It helped that I thought they were cute! Even in New York, I always listened to country music, but being in South Carolina, it’s everywhere, and I love it!

3. I’m a cat person. I have two cats, Abigail and Zada, and begged my parents to get me a cat when I was seven. I love dogs, but I can’t handle the responsibility of a dog. Cats are easy, especially with how much we get out to visit family.

4. I’m a Cock! That’s a Gamecock. I graduated from the University of South Carolina, just like Paige, Brooke, and Tiffany in my Love On Deck series. In college sports USC usually refers to Southern California, but for us Gamecocks it’s an insult because our USC was a college in 1801, 49 years before California was even a state and 79 years before University of Southern California was founded.

5. I was adopted. You know this if you’ve read More Than Adopted (available for free to my subscribers), but if you haven’t read it, it might be a surprise. My parents took me home from the hospital when I was four days old and I’ve always lived with them. I don’t know my birth parents, but they wrote me letters when I was born. They loved me very much and were willing to give me a chance at a life they couldn’t provide when I was born (they were 20 and 24 but both in college).

6. I have an older sister and a younger brother, neither of whom were adopted. Yep, it’s weird. After my sister, my parents were told they couldn’t have more kids. When they adopted me, four years after my sister was born, they figured we were it. But my brother was a surprise. He’s 17 months younger than me.

7. I have 2.5 kids, just like the typical American family. Huh? I can hear it. I have two kids that live with me and one baby that I lost in my first trimester. I know he’s growing up in heaven and waiting for when we can meet, but I hope it’s not for a while. I have a lot I want to do here.

8. Writing romance novels is my fourth career. I went to college to be a chemical engineer and had that as my paid job for almost twelve years. I wasn’t ever happy so I started a business as a wedding planner then as a working mom’s advocate before going after my true passion and writing romance novels. If I have my say, this will be my last career!

9. When my husband and I started dating we agreed he would be a stay at home dad. He’d always wanted to do it and I was set on working. Unfortunately too many poor money choices left us in too much debt for it to happen, but maybe one day. We’re still hopeful he’ll get to live his dream!

10. The day I met my husband I knew he was someone special. If someone had told me we would get married that day, I would have believed it. But, it took three weeks before I knew his name, four months before I knew he wasn’t dating our classmate, six months before we started flirting heavily, and nine months until our first date. And yep, I asked him out, three times before he said yes.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about me. I really do want to learn about you. Leave a comment below if there’s something you’d love to share!

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Are You A Rule Breaker?

Rules Cover 11I’m so excited that Playing By The Rules is finally available. I’ve been thinking about this book for months and couldn’t get Amber and Caleb out of my head. They teased me a bit, not telling me what was going to happen at first, and they even changed things at the very end, but I’m so happy their story is written.

I wanted to give you a little sneak peak of the two of them. These two lit up the pages for me. It was a lot of fun to write someone a little snarky, like Amber, and a little alpha, like Caleb. To watch them dance around each other and eventually fall for each other was fun. When things fall apart for these two (because they always do for some reason), I wanted to shake them. Yep, I was in control, I knew what was going to happen, but I still wanted to reach through the pages and shake some sense into them.

I hope you like this little snip of them. It was a fun scene to write. Make sure you pick up your free copy (if it’s not free, it will be soon) at your favorite online retailer!

When most of the crowd had died down Amber decided to go. She turned the key and nothing happened. She tried again. And again. She dropped her head to the steering wheel and tried to figure out what to do.

Amber reached behind her to find an umbrella but only came up with a snow scraper. “Fat lot of good that’ll do me,” she mumbled. She climbed back from her car and lifted the hood, hoping inspiration would strike.

She pushed her wet hair from her eyes and looked around. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. But then again Amber rarely lifted the hood on her 2004 Honda Civic. She let the guys who changed her oil every three months do that.

As Amber leaned against the open hood she closed her eyes and tried to come up with something. She was going to have to call Emily to get picked up. And hopefully whatever was wrong wouldn’t cost too much to fix. Amber’s brain raced with all the things she needed the money for besides her now broken car.

“Shit,” she swore. The rain drenched her. Amber turned her face up to the rain, welcoming the refreshing feeling. She was supposed to hate the rain. But at that moment it felt good.

“Do you need help?” she heard from behind her. She knew who it was before she turned around. Her body knew before he spoke. She felt her nipples trying to make a run for it, straight to his mouth if they had their way. Heat pooled in her gut and she knew she was in trouble. Deep trouble.

“No,” Amber called without turning around.

“Well, it looks like you need help. Are you a mechanic?” Caleb asked. Amber heard the door slam closed on his truck and knew he was coming to her. She held her breath against the power of his presence.

“No,” she said again without facing him.

“Then maybe I can help.”

“You know how to fix cars?” Amber asked. She dared to look into his deep brown eyes. Chocolate. No, coffee. They reminded her of coffee. Deep and rich. And hotter than hell.

“Yeah,” his eyes sparkled at her with his amusement. “I know a little about cars. Do you want me to take a look?”

“No,” Amber said glancing toward his truck. “You don’t need to keep your family waiting.”

“No worries. Becky took the girls home. We drove separately today.” He wanted to tell her that Becky encouraged him to talk to her, but he could tell she didn’t trust him. She wouldn’t be open to getting to know him without trusting him.

“Oh,” Amber mumbled. She felt deflated. She had the guy, literally the guy of her dreams, right there in front of her. And she couldn’t do a damn thing about it. Obeying the rules sucked sometimes.

“Why don’t you let me look at it? If I can fix it, I will. If not I’ll give you a ride home.”

“Absolutely not,” Amber nearly shouted. She could barely stand next to him. Being confined in a car might push her over the edge.

“Why not? Is your boyfriend the jealous type?”

“I don’t have a boyfriend. But I don’t think your wife would appreciate it.”

Caleb turned and stared at her. Becky was right. He was shocked. And a little taken aback by the venom in her voice as she said ‘wife.’ He ran a hand through his dripping wet hair and said, “I’m not married.”

Amber scoffed at him, “Yeah, okay. Then who’s the woman you’re always with? With the two cute girls, one who looks just like you?”

“I’ll tell you if you let me help you.”

Caleb and Amber are fun. They felt like friends, and I love that.

This series will continue! I’m working on Becky’s story, Back In The Game. The first chapter is in the back of Playing By The Rules. You’ll get to meet some more great residents of Paradise Park and read their stories too.

Thanks for reading today and make sure you sign up for my mailing list – right below!

Meet Amber Wilds

Rules Cover 11

I’m so excited to introduce you to Amber Wilds. Amber is the star of my latest novel, Playing By The Rules, which will be available next week. The best news is it will be FREE on all platforms so you can get your copy without spending a cent!

A little background on Amber…

Amber grew up with two great parents and a little sister, Gabby. They were close growing up, but Amber and her dad had a special connection. She was a tomboy and her dad taught her to play softball and love it. She went to college on a softball scholarship.

Just before the start of her spring semester of her senior year, Amber was out drinking with friends and got arrested. Her arrest wasn’t okay with the team and she was kicked off the team, lost her scholarship, and had to drop out of college because her parents couldn’t afford to pay for her college.

The story begins five years later when Amber is trying to put her life in order. She is sick of working crappy jobs to make ends meet and is ready to go back to college and finish her degree.

Here’s my “interview” with Amber so you can get to know her. And make sure you pick up her story next week! Stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter for updates on the release.

MET: What are you doing with your life?
AW: Nothing right now, but I want to make more of my life than just being a drain on society. I don’t take handouts, but I know I’m not contributing to the world.

MET: What is standing in your way?
AW: I don’t have the money to go back to school and without a degree I can’t do much other than what I’m doing.

MET: What do you do for a living? Are you any good at it?
AW: I work because I have to. I’m sort of attached to eating. And having a place to live. And clothes. I work at the Y because they let me keep a set schedule so I can work my other jobs around my Y hours, Delta Sonic is cool because I get to be outside which I like, even in the cold. My ump job is new but I took that because the money was good and I needed some extra for my bff’s wedding. I also figured it would be a good way to figure out if I can handle that world again, the one that cast me aside after I got arrested.

MET: What is your secret dream?
AW: I’d love to meet that cop again and kick him in the shins. Or maybe the nuts. He ruined my life and I wish I could share an inkling of my pain with him.

MET: Where do you live?
AW: Emily and I share an apartment in Paradise Park, NY, about thirty miles south of Buffalo along Lake Erie (and totally fictional). Our apartment isn’t in a great area of town, but it’s all I could afford and Emily was saving money for her wedding so it worked for her too. The place is small but we each have our own room and bathroom. The kitchen and living room are tiny, but it works for us.

MET: What are your hobbies?
AW: I don’t have time for hobbies. I work constantly so I can eat. Does eating count as a hobby?

MET: I don’t think so. It’s more of a necessity. What is your biggest fear?
AW: Seeing that cop again. I joke about wanting to kick him, but I’m not sure I could control myself if I ever met him.

MET: What do you avoid more than anything else?
AW: Breaking rules. The last time I broke a rule was when I got arrested. I haven’t done anything ‘bad’ since then. I don’t drink anymore, and I always make sure I’m in line with the rules. I can’t risk going through the same thing I went through before.

MET: What is your biggest strength?
AW: I guess working hard. I’ve been killing myself for so long just to survive I guess I’ve gotten good at it.

MET: What do people like most about you?
AW: Hell if I know. I think I’m a bit bitchy most of the time.

MET: What do you wish you could do?
AW: I wish I could go back and get a ride home with my friends that night. I try to imagine how different my life would be if I’d never been arrested, but everything about my life that sucks goes back to that one night, one stupid decision.

MET: What talents do you have?
AW: I guess I have a unique was of looking at things. I wanted to become an architect because I’ve always loved creating things, but I’m a good artist. I can listen to someone talk about something and draw it for them. Architecture seemed like a good fit. I just hope I can get enough scholarships and financial aid to make it happen.

MET: Who do you have a crush on?
AW: Does Channing Tatum count? Coach Caleb intrigues me. He didn’t back away when we met, but he’s married which means he’s totally off limits.

MET: What do you believe matters?
AW: Truth and obedience. I learned the hard way that if you aren’t obedient you will get punished for it, even if you didn’t really do anything. I’ve always believed in truth. Too bad some people don’t want to know the truth.

MET: What’s your favorite expression?
AW: Go suck an egg because it’s a nice way of telling someone to fuck off.

 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Amber a little. She was a fun one to write about. I can’t wait for you to read her story.