Colorado Book Award Finalist: The Secret Next Door

I am so happy and honored to announce that The Secret Next Door has been selected as a finalist for the 2022 Colorado Book Award in the Thriller category. Thank you to Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book and to all the judges who give so much of their personal time to make events like this happen for our community. I’d also like to send out congratulations to all the other finalists!

There will be a live reading for the thriller finalists on June 3rd at 7:00 PM at BookBar here in Denver. Unfortunately, this date coincides with the International Thriller Writers Organization national conference in New York, which I am scheduled to attend. But the winners will be announced on June 25th (at an in-person event!) and I will be sure to be there!

Louis Vuitton GM Agenda Flip Through

Hello! Today I’m flipping through my Louis Vuitton GM Agenda set up for March. I’m currently halfway through writing my next book and have high hopes that the rough draft will be completed by the end of March. In this video, I share how I’m staying organized and focused as I work to finish this novel as well as a new tool I’ve created for myself (I’m calling it my Daily Index). You’ll probably be seeing more of this document, and its revision, in future videos. Thank you for watching and please don’t forget to subscribe.

My No-Goals Approach to 2022 (sort of)

My new desk! Still tidying up cords and the rest of the office, but we got this beast through the front door!

I usually start my year off with a litany of promises that I make to myself about how I will be better this year. They are almost always variations on the same themes.

  • I will work out more
  • I will eat less crap
  • I will drink less alcohol
  • I will keep my house spotless
  • I will write more (always, always this one!)

I generally get very excited about doing this because every year I truly believe that this year is the year I will become a completely different person once that clock strikes midnight on December 31st. And often I’m able to maintain this new personality for about 2-4 weeks, then something will come up, or I’ll be tired, or just feel like giving up because life is actually kinda hard and all I want to do is sit on my couch eating Chick-Fil-A with a glass of cabernet while watching Ozark on Netflix.

So it was odd when this New Year rolled around and I found myself unable to feel my usual excitement about all my usual false promises. Would I be entering this 2022 new year without any goals?

Well, yeah I guess. Because we are now over halfway through January and I don’t have any big proclamations written down on either my planner or my whiteboard. I feel okay about this and here’s why.

It’s not as if I’ve stopped working on things. Quite the contrary I’ve actually been pretty busy for the last month. I’m working on my new book, still blogging, still trying to build awareness for my books that are already published. What’s different is that there aren’t any S.M.A.R.T. goals around any of these activities. I’m not promising to hit 1000 words a day. I’m not swearing on my life that I’ll blog three times a week. I’m not sacrificing my mental health to the social media gods in the name of building “my brand”.

I’m just doing these things because I once actually enjoyed them for the sake of simply doing them–and I’m finding that with the removal of all my self-imposed “you should dos” the love is still there. Apparently, it’s been hiding behind my chore list.

I find the same has been true for other areas of my life. I actually haven’t had any alcohol (except for a small, shot-sized glass of sake at a sushi restaurant) since the middle of December. Not because I’ve committed to Dry January, or never, ever drinking again, but because I feel 150% better, physically, mentally, emotionally when I don’t have any alcohol. I sleep better, have more focus and energy, and my mood is stable and positive (in spite of the current state of the world–which I actually feel better prepared to face when all my other systems aren’t crashing.)

And because I feel better, I’ve been exercising more consistently. Not every day. Not crazy pushing myself to the point of exhaustion. But I find that my body wants to move. It craves the exertion of swinging my kettlebell, stretching, and riding the Peloton (best home exercise equipment I’ve ever invested in, BTW). I’m not weighing myself, counting calories, or stressing about carbs this year.

I’m just trying to find a little happiness, peace, a return to joy in all the important areas in my life. So while there are not any measurable goals posted in my house, I am keeping track of the one thing I do want to achieve this year–happiness. I just want to be happy, that’s it, the only goal I really have. And I think I’m starting to figure out the authentic building blocks that make up my own version of personal happiness. Health, love, creativity, safety, security, recreation…the question in any given moment is: Is this something I want to do? Is this something that will make me happy right now?

For example, writing this blog post is making me feel good right now. I’m doing it because I want to, not because I feel like I should for my career.

And it’s making a big difference in how I’m showing up in my life.

Until next time,

Rebecca

New Year, New Book, Same Me

Welcome, 2022! Or at least this is the energy I’m trying to start this year off with despite the fact that I rang in the new year with my very own case of COVID. Which, by the way, seemed to leave a nasty trail of depression-like symptoms in its wake–and I was totally not expecting that. I anticipated the fever, headache, sore throat, congestion…but the residual “I don’t want to get out of bed or do anything at all” even when all my other physical symptoms had passed was surprising. It’s gone now, and I’m feeling much more like myself, but has anyone experienced this? I can honestly say that I really feel it was directly tied to the COVID and not just the fact that it was post-holidays and current-state-of-the-world blues.

Anyway, I’m relieved that it seems to have left with the other symptoms because I don’t mind telling you that being disciplined to sit down and write a book is hard enough without a constant stream of “Who cares?” and “What the hell is the point?” running through your head while you cry into a pillow and contemplate the physical feeling of ennui.

And speaking of writing…I’m writing. After taking a bit of a hiatus over the winter break I’m now back working on the new title. I’m very near the midpoint right now, just under, which probably wasn’t the best place to be when I took the break. There always seems to be a pause in my production right around the 50% mark of every book and I’m not exactly sure why this happens EVERY TIME. Because it’s not like I don’t know what is supposed to come next–the major plot points exist and I had to create a fairly detailed synopsis for my publisher. I KNOW what comes next, but I still always pause-out right around the middle of a new book.

It’s a mystery to me. But I’m back in the swing of it again anyway. Maybe I’ll figure out this weird psychological hiccup during my next book. And maybe I’ll still be just as baffled. Who knows.

I had originally hoped to have the first draft of this new book completed by the end of January–I’m now thinking that will probably be a bit too ambitious, so I’m shooting for the end of February instead.

I hope all is well with you and that you are able to find some joy, peace, and productivity as we break in this new year.

Until next time,

Rebecca

ARC Review: After We Were Stolen by Brooke Beyfuss

My Review:
A book that will cut to the quick but not leave its reader emotionally abandoned. After We Were Stolen is an intelligent and heartrending story of vulnerability, power, resistance, and redemption. It explores the many facets of love, for ourselves, for those we call family, and what it means to rebuild a sense of identity from the ashes of systematic abuse and betrayal. Brooke Beyfuss has crafted a beautiful book that ultimately fosters hope founded on the belief that paths can be found to guide us away from even the darkest of pasts. An excellent read that is sure to be a favorite book club pick.

From the Publisher:

An emotionally wrought debut novel perfect for book clubs about a girl who escapes from a cult after a deadly fire destroys her family’s compound, only to be haunted by That Night as she tries to build a new life for herself.

A fire. Her escape. And the realization her entire life has been a lie.

When nineteen-year-old Avery awakens to flames consuming her family’s remote compound, she knows it’s her only chance to escape her father’s grueling survival training, bizarre rules, and gruesome punishments. She and her brother Cole flee the grounds for the first time in their lives, suddenly homeless in a world they know nothing about. After months of hiding out, they are arrested for shoplifting and a shocking discovery is made―Avery and Cole were kidnapped fifteen years earlier, stolen by cult leaders they knew as Mom and Dad.

Cole is immediately returned to his birth family, leaving Avery alone and desperate. She is uncertain if her “parents” survived the fire and is terrified to find out. The loss of Cole and the trauma of her former life threaten to undo her, but when the police investigation reveals there may be more survivors, Avery must uncover the truth about the fire to truly be free.

Suspenseful, emotionally charged, and deeply thought-provoking, After We Were Stolen delves into the idea of family―those we’re born into and those we make―resilience, and the lengths a cult survivor will go to finally be free of her painful past. Brooke Beyfuss’s powerful debut novel sparkles with heart, grit, and extraordinary characters who will stay with you long after the last page.