Autumn Feels

Every autumn, shades of amber, copper and cranberry bathe me in electric desire to create. Fall has always signified a chance to invigorate my goals. My commitment to nutrition and exercise increases, my inspiration to write is off the charts and I am giddy with anticipation for the wonderful things fall brings: Thanksgiving, Halloween and the countdown to Christmas – all of which are celebrated very well in my home with my family.

This year, these feelings have been more touch-and-go…I feel more ambivalence about starting things or committing to things. My energy has been so focused on cancer treatment and recovery, that I feel like I have none left for the things I’ve always loved. Cancer has changed everything – except when my kids are in the midst of their everyday needs, cancer has changed nothing. (insert smirk here)

I stepped up for Thanksgiving and Halloween (in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October) – a pandemic would not stop our little family from celebrating and being deeply grateful for my health. Yet, there was still a void deep inside. Something yearning or perhaps waiting for my attention.

I watch as the gorgeous colours of fall fall away, leaving branches bare. The days are darker and shorter and colder. I dig deep and struggle with the shadows threatening me. I get messy and let my husband see my fears, my mess, my loss of self. I reach for the love I have for my children and offer myself the same unconditional love. I reach for my faith and universal guidance. I reach for the archangels whom have been supporting my entire journey. This is what it takes to finally feel like I can overcome the shadows. And, I actually smile, because it is still fall and I can still gather the energy that I’ve always found in this wonderful season to regroup and keep moving forward. I can look cancer in the face and tell it, it will not run my life.

I am regrowing my hair, relearning my body, reconnecting to the things I truly love. I do not have the energy of autumns past – but I am learning a new way of being. Less frenetic. Less hectic. More genuine. My rhythm has changed this fall – from the relentless energy to DO, to the more calming energy to BE. Peppered with the learning of setting up boundaries for my kids – but that’s a post for another day 🙂

Fall 2020 has certainly been different for all of us. Have you noticed a difference in how you react to the seasons and holidays? Has it changed for you this year, and how have you managed?

Thanks so much for reading and connecting!

Start Over. Again. And, Again.

Friendly reminder that even though Mondays are notorious for being awful, they also offer us the opportunity to start again. Whatever the goal or project that lost traction over the weekend, it gets a chance to revive on Monday.

So, here’s to Monday and to your shot at digging in and finding the courage to keep working toward success.

Minor Characters

During my publishing journey, I discovered a divide between readers who like minor characters to have a more active role in the plot and those who don’t. Many times editors advised to decrease the page space given to said characters in favour of the protagonists; whereas readers expressed delight in the minor characters and their relationship to the protagonists.

Sometimes when reading a great romance, minor characters seem to get in the way. As a reader, we want to solely follow the hero and heroine because the story is so juicy! However, I notice that I tend to gravitate towards books that establish a world for the characters which includes other important people in their lives.

I thoroughly enjoy the relationships the main characters have with others. Siblings, parents, best friends all help me to perceive the main characters deeper – they don’t seem so one-dimensional. After all, no one exists in a vacuum. We all have people we interact with at different levels of intimacy and, in my opinion, showing a protagonist in the same light makes them more real.

Also, I find it difficult not to indulge particularly fun characters. Or, to set up their own stories for future books. It’s as if the protagonists of future stories reveal themselves slowly and it’s too much fun not to listen.

What side of the argument are you on as a reader of romance? Do you enjoy the development of minor characters and their use in adding context and texture to the story, or do you find them annoying and wish to solely focus on the hero and heroine when you’re reading?

Surrender

I used to think surrendering meant giving up. It used to mean letting go in a negative way…you know, wave the white flag because you’ve lost the fight.

I’ve been challenged with the idea of surrender in my yoga practice. So much of yoga practice involves letting go, and because yoga began for me as a physical practice, I equated surrender to giving up on a pose or on a series or sequence of poses…so I would muscle my way through.

Well, the universe has its way of landing messages. I have been reluctant in stating online that I am in the midst of chemotherapy treatment for stage 2 breast cancer because I didn’t want to just say so for the sake of creating a story around it. My intention isn’t to inspire pity or fear because I know I heal from this dis-ease…it’s just a matter of time. I want to share this because the experience of cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been my principal lesson in surrender. Nothing yells surrender like chemo.

And, strangely enough, in this strange Covid-19 era, I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience true surrender.

For the first time in a very, very long time, I am listening to what my body needs…not what my head thinks it needs. I am fluid. I am water. I am embracing this intense moment of complete transformation and embracing life gently. And, it’s beautiful.

How I Have Surrendered:

  • Sleep when my body says sleep; rest when my body says rest
  • Let go of how or why my husband does the things he does…truly appreciate him and his efforts in keeping me healthy and safe
  • The structure of homeschool is gone…oh boy I would have thrived on a color-coded schedule for my kids! But, right now, we focus on reading, writing and math in whatever order, at whatever time. We do their projects together and I am surrendering to the idea that they are learning far more valuable lessons by being gentle with themselves than trying desperately to meet some standard – this is a huge leap for calendar-keeping, list-checking me.
  • I have surrendered my will to that of the universe – this is on-going. I thrive on control. So, every day, I show up on my meditation cushion and allow. Sometimes, I need to surrender multiple times throughout the day
  • I have surrendered the physicality of my yoga practice for a practice that truly meets the needs of my body and soul
  • I have surrendered all agendas around my writing

What I Have Learned

  • My body always knows what it needs – listen
  • My husband loves me so much and he shines when I release control
  • Children are resilient and incredible forces of love and light – I just have to love them and they really know what is best – this includes setting loving boundaries for acceptable and unacceptable behaviour
  • My angels are watching out for me, supporting me, revealing messages to me all day long – it truly is amazing to experience the divine when we let it come into our life
  • Yoga is magic. The poses I need come to me when I need them. The days that I feel strong, my body holds me without pressure. The days I require ease, my body melts into the poses without fear.
  • I love to write and always will. I journal. I blog. I create stories. It is my connection to my creative self which truly allows for all of the above to flourish and I believe will support me in my journey back to health

I have a feeling I’m not the only one who struggles with surrender. I hope the small peek into my own challenges with surrender might inspire you to try it and help bring more ease, faith and purpose into your life.

First Review!

Regardless of what happens next, this will always go down as my first review! While I figure the negative reviews are coming, I’ll be hanging onto this one when they do. This is why I published Capturing a Countess’ Heart – I just wanted readers to fall in love with a great story. And, for this one reader, my goal was accomplished. Thank you for taking the time to send me notes or to post reviews about my book.

Hope you find a great book to read today!

Five Years of Writing

The seed for Capturing a Countess’ Heart was planted late one night when I finished a swoon worthy Amanda Quick novel. I researched the author for a few minutes and realized how very normal her start was. My immediate next thought was, “I can totally do this”. Within minutes, I had my protagonist, Charlotte, and I knew I wanted her to be the one with the title. And, I wanted her to struggle with the idea of giving herself up to love.

The next morning, once I did the morning routine with my two small children (at the time) and did the daycare and school drop-offs, I drove to work in silence. Except, my mind was filled with colourful thoughts and images of how I would bring my Countess to life.

Within that short twenty minute drive, I made up the basic plot for the novel, developed the title and the title of the entire series, The Chronicles of the Heart, because the other three books would also have Heart in the title.

All of this happened within a day. Five years ago.

The next four years were spent writing whenever and wherever. Mainly, that meant during my daughter’s nap times (she was little then and still napped) and once the kiddos were in bed. I completed three drafts this way.

Then, I put the novel away for a month while I sent it to dear friends to give me any feedback they could to help improve it – advising them my feelings would not be hurt. Because, as any writer knows, I need time away from my project in order to come back to it with an objective mind. I was very clear that I didn’t have a budget for an editor, so I had to approach each draft ruthlessly once my friends gave their honest reviews.

Each time I saw an area for improvement I loved it so intensely because it meant I would be able to elevate my work. And, each time I hit a roadblock, the universe would inadvertently answer my question by bringing me the information I required. It truly was inspirational.

By draft five, my children were older, and I started to bring my laptop to soccer practices, gymnastics or dance classes, to piano lessons…anytime there was a block of time available to me, I took it. So, I never waited for inspiration to come, I became disciplined to write what needed to be written, to edit what needed to be edited in the time I had, not when I felt I could do it.

At this point, I had the confidence to start sending out my manuscript to agents, publishers and a few contests. And, it would go through a few rounds of “send us more”, but ultimately was not accepted by agents or publishers. And, while it didn’t win any contests, it would come in the top half of all submissions and be returned with tonnes of coaching from the expert panel of judges. Each rejection from publishers and agents also came loaded with questions and ways to improve the novel. I took every single comment as free editing and gleefully set out to write the best novel I could with all of this free advice from people in the industry.

Drafts six, seven and eight were edited in this fashion. Then came, the now what? I knew I wanted to publish, but I was so overwhelmed because I didn’t know where to start.

Then, as seemed to be the case with this entire journey, divine intervention came to help me and the universe brought me this post by the author who reintroduced me to my love of historical romance, Claire Delacroix, who also writes under Deborah Cooke. Find her blog at Deborah Cooke & Her Books. I couldn’t believe that the author whom reawakened my love of historical romance eight years ago had now written a step-by-step outline on what to do to publish your own work exactly at the moment I needed said list.

Talk about universal guidance!

The past year has been focused on following that list. I have learned so much about formatting and book covers to the myriad of tiny details required for every single step and every single platform. I’m still navigating publishing on Apple Books – you’d think it would be the most user friendly one!

And, now, here I am. A book published and currently writing book 2. The second book in the series is already easier to write because of everything I learned during the writing of book 1. It has been an absolutely incredible journey and one I am so happy to have said yes to.

My hope for you, if you are someone who is toying with entering any kind of creative/artistic endeavour, is that you take the plunge and answer the call of your creative soul. The universe will provide the answers as you go, as it did for me, and you will have fun every step of the way.

Illness: A Blessing in Disguise?

In November of 2019, my body gave me lots of signs that I needed to pay attention to my health.

I had two choices: succumb to fear and the very dark places your mind likes to go or realize…I have no information other than they’re running some tests and I need to go on with my life. I chose the latter. I lived in this weird state of “it’s probably nothing, it could be somethingbut my kids need a snack and help with homework right now so I need to be a mom and not freak out. Besides, there was a birthday and Christmas to plan.

My husband became unusually quiet and more helpful than he usually is – which was a bonus. Extra help? I’ll take it.

I will always remember that in between time as a loop of go to the doctor, get some more information and then wait for another test…go to the doctor for results, but they need more information so wait for another test…and so on. In the meantime, I focused on my mental health, my emotional health and my faith in order to truly complete each step of my physical health journey in a way which would ensure to bring my body back into balance and ease.

I am recovering from surgery and waiting for more results to see what happens from here. I have a general overview of things – but in this process I’ve learned specifics come when the time is right. Talk about a lesson in SURRENDERING!

So why am I sharing something so intimate about my health? Because I cannot believe what I have learned!!!

This time at home has offered me the opportunity to writeCapturing a Countess’ Heart is up on Amazon (.com and .ca) and Kobo for pre-order and will be live on April 28!!!

I have time to read and to meditate – to learn about my spirituality in ways I hadn’t been able to before. For once, I don’t feel like I’m stealing time in order to do the things that fill my cup. I am being cared for by all of the people I love and most of all I am learning compassion and self-love in a deeper way which I will take with me for the rest of my life and hopefully pass on to my children.

My physical yoga practice is so different. I have been on my mat every single day since my surgery. I have modified my practice and I have been in the asanas I struggled with the most – stillness in savasana? Camel that is merely looking up without the effort to reach my heels? And I have learned that ease, love, compassion, and breath will bring my body back into balance. (I am aware that I will probably keel over the first time I attempt a power yoga class when I am well…but that’s a problem for another day).

I have learned gratitude; to ask for help; to receive help; to receive the outpouring of love with a feeling of worthiness.

Each moment has become more sweet. Losing my father in my twenties taught me to always appreciate and enjoy life…perhaps, somewhere along the way of having kids, managing a career and a marriage some of that lesson was lost…Life has a way of making sure we stay true to the lessons learned…

This time at home has afforded me so much on my path to full health, and I can’t help but think, perhaps this forced journey to health was a blessing in disguise.

Finding Ease When Things Get Difficult

Yet, again, I find myself taking a lesson from my yoga mat and applying it to the real world.

In yoga, we refer to Sthira/Sukha. How strength and softness can exist simultaneously. You can feel both the hardness of a pose and you can melt into it’s difficulty with breath. With softness. With ease. And, voila. You’re not struggling any more. Difficult pose…muscles not happy…and you’re just fine.

Well, I’ve taken this concept and brought it to my writing life. As a soon-to-be indie author, there is so much I’m learning. And, so much, I know I don’t know, as I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past.

One of the things which I was doing a very good job avoiding was marketing. And, while I know nothing about marketing, I know enough to understand I need a platform through which I can communicate with lovers of historical romance. Enter Facebook and Instagram.

The trouble is…I really struggled with how to go about it. I normally use these two platforms as ways of keeping abreast with the lives of my family and friends. Not for building an audience or a business.

I’m not a business executive. I have no idea how to do this or where to go! I’m just a woman with a book who thinks other people will enjoy reading.

So, I whittled my immense fear of marketing down to this simple and basic concept: I just want to meet people who love to read, write and discuss historical romance, whom might hopefully enjoy reading my book too!

It is a good place to start. The other marketing stuff will come when it is time for it to come. So far, I’m happy to say, I’ve met some lovely people on-line whom I hope will one day enjoy my book. In the meantime, I’m enjoying communicating with them and trading stories about our reading and writing journeys.

Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so hard. After all, it’s just about people. People reading and writing great historical romances. And, now I am one of those people.

Find me on Instagram @carynemme

Find me on Facebook Caryn Emme

Find me on Twitter Caryn_Emme

Hope to connect with you there too!

Saying Yes to My Goal

I’m happiest when I’m creating. The after part…editing, polishing, perfecting…that’s fun too because I’m making my story come alive for future readers.

But, the business side? The blurb…oh goodness the blurb…the social media campaign…the learning of each and every platform… It has taken the wind from my sails and made the publishing of my first novel come to a halt.

I am a writer at heart. A lover of stories. A whimsical romantic whom loves happy endings…or at least, neat endings. This whole other side is slowing me down and making me doubt my intentions…my goals…

Then, I remember why I started. I come back to the absolute certainty that my work will be read and enjoyed (of course! …hopefully?) by readers. I wanted to read about a strong heroine who was emotionally broken…yet, still managed to find her happily ever after. I wrote her story and I’m excited to bring her to the world.

I will continue this journey with my heart leading the way. I will stay true to the love I have for this project and my desire to have others engage with it. Perhaps, I should express gratitude to the procrastination and fear because in recognizing these feelings, I have been able to ascertain that I absolutely want for this to happen.

Are you an indie-author? A person with a side-hustle or passion-project you have difficulty finding time for? How do you keep on track and say yes to your goals?

How to Choose What to do First?

I’ve entered a world I know nothing about. It completely brings to life what I learned in yoga teacher training not too long ago.

There is so much I don’t know. And, although on some days that makes me want to throw my hands up and give up. On most days, I remember that I am a work in progress and the work is learning. Constant learning.

I’ve come so far, I can’t possibly give up now.

I feel overwhelmed about where to put my focus with the precious morning hour or so that I give myself to work because the rest of the day is taken up by summer time activities with the family.

Do I blog? Work on social media connections? Keep formatting my book on Vellum? Keep writing book #2?

It’s A LOT!

Then I remind myself how I have approached this entire enterprise from the beginning. It’s supposed to be fun. I actually have enjoyed all of it. From writing the first draft all the way to editing the shit out of it that it’s lightyears away from the original – except the core of the plot has retained it’s integrity. Smile.

So, right now my main focus is formatting and figuring out how I’m going to get a professional looking cover.

Everything else comes after. Whenever I can squeeze it in.

How do you prioritize all the things with work? How do you decide what comes first and what can be squeezed in?

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