The next story of my heart has a cover!

Y'all. This has been a day long awaited. Ten-plus years, in fact. The story that's been with me the longest has a cover and it's now out in the Great Wide World. Margaret Bryant has a face now, the setting's golden and rosy-hued. The story itself at the moment? It's getting polished to shine as bright as the cover. It's not quite as rosy-hued wonderful as I'd like. But that's where grace comes in—and a stellar editress who has the patience of Job. Much like Roseanna White who designed Amongst the Roses' cover for me.
It takes a village. The whole book journey can be waxed poetic, but I'm going to level with you—it's freaking hard. Especially as seasons change and you change with it. Much like this story. It's seen me through the awkward braces years, the shy blushing teenage years where I hated to answer phones or talk to boys, through to when I stumbled into finding my true self and walking confidently in who God's created me to be. Walking without pain anymore. Walking to Haiti come February. Walking into releasing my third(!) book in April. Walking, stumbling, trying to sprint but failing, on the path God's called me to. And it is good. His love endures forever.

Now who's ready for to see the cover?
Three hearts, and one war—who will return?

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the home front?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history bring these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.

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Getting back to the heart

Something's stirring lately.

I'm getting back to the heart here. I've been second-guessing and doubting what and how much to talk about here in this space. What type of audience I need to attract, how I need to present myself.
And I'm here today to say I am so over it.
I am a major work in progress when it comes to owning my calling to write. Calling myself an author—I've been rather transparent about that this year. But no more will I jot down post ideas only to delete them with a roll of the eyes and, No one will be interested in this.

One enormous facet of the abundance God's been revealing to me has been about relationship and connection. He is The God of the Universe and yet knows each and every one of us intimately, scarily—and loves us anyway. Always chasing us down.
How much more then as a follower of Him, should I extend my heart here in this space, in my books? And by extending it, revealing it authentically. Not what I think you want to read. Not what I think a Proper Author should write.
Just my heart.
It's been the inspired posts and the most heart-achingly hard scenes to write in my books, that you have resonated with. Grammatical errors and all.

You know when you pray those prayers that go along the lines of, "Break my heart for what breaks Yours?" or "Reveal Yourself to me, Lord." It's those types of desperate prayers that don't even begin to adequately express the wordless ache deep in our souls. Those words spoken from our hearts to God's ears—those prayers are dangerous. But they invite Him in if we remain soft and pliable for Him to work.
We live in a broken world where relationships and connections hurt. People hurt people. On purpose, by accident. Bad book reviews...
Scars and callouses build up and warp our view of other people in a self-protective web that hisses that we're better off taking care of ourselves. That way we won't get hurt. That way we won't experience more rejection or judgment.
Oh but the abundance we miss. Trust me. I'm still tiptoeing out of that fearful, guarded living. But it's a necessary walk, friends. I get how tired and burnt out life can get us—whether you're in Crisis Mode or just Normal Life is zapping the strength out of you week in and week out. But if you have Jesus in your heart—it doesn't have to be like this.
Now that we as believers have Holy Spirit dwelling in us at all times, we have a responsibility to show up and park ourselves to meet others where they are. Like the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament—the Israelites parked it when God instructed them to, and there He made Himself known.
We're all individual arks, friends. We carry Holy Spirit in our hearts at all times. And yet we, I, get so tangled up in the comparison games, the insecurities, *insert your constant trip-up here.* It's a large part of why I've been quiet here.
This all stems from brokenness.
But God. He is bigger.
His grace and love always sufficient, all covering. And He wants only good for us, believe it or not. He cares so deeply it's enormously hard to fathom.
There is an abundant life to be had when we press into Jesus, warts, broken pieces and all. But it's when He calls us out onto the waves—to show up and park ourselves—vessels of Holy Spirit—where we can perhaps extend a measure of grace to another broken person. Just. By. Showing. Up.
And the bonus of this, y'all?
It's not draining. It's stretching, yes—but stretching relieves tension and leaves you with a good ache.
Just showing up? It opens more doors for Jesus to reveal Himself and fill you up. And it only takes one step at a time—not a whole big long To Do list. Not some special prayers or Bible study. Moment by moment, lean in and start by being honest with our Father God. Nothing shocks or offends or puts Him off. Ever.
I don't know when all this started for me earlier this year—still quite honestly wrapping my brain around it. It's why this post serpentined away from me a bit. But now that I am back writing about my loves (and not just my bookish loves/lessons learned), can I "speak" these words of Paul over you, reader?

For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen

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Wanted: Influencers

Dear reader,
Can I tell you a story?

It's been over five years since I first began the "grown-up" version of a story I first titled and wrote in fifth grade. Back then it told a super convoluted, rather plagiarized tale of Margaret O'Brien, a roses-loving girl, one of four sisters, during the Civil War - and her romance with one Connor Barnes.

Upon completion of that first draft, I shelved it away—always knowing deep down I'd come back to it. Fast forward to 2012, and dust it off I did. And I changed some names (so Connor Barnes, the handsome redhead Irishman, could actually have an Irish surname) but I kept the setting, found a real, vibrant city to set my tale in—and I promise I cut out all of the plagiarism of Little Women, and Lynn Austin's Refiner's Fire series.
Here's the official blurb:

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the homefront?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the warfront. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history brings these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together. 
Coming April 12, 2018
But prior to that: I need your help.
It takes a village to release a book—and suffice it to say I learned that well with my first two releases which didn't have Official Street Teams. But all that has changed this time around, with my very own blossoming street team. Amongst the Roses is first up on my 2018 release list—and if you join, you get first dibs at reading/helping promote my next two releases of 2018. A 1950's Pittsburgh romance novella, and A Rose Long Awaited—the sequel to Amongst the Roses. Exclusive giveaways, inside looks/trivia, and getting to be privy to all the exciting developments of the last stages of novel publication is just some of the fun we'll be having in a private Facebook group in the months leading up to publication. (Follow ye old link below to get more details of being on my team)

I would so dearly appreciate your help in getting my baby little book into the Great Wide World, so that our good, good Father can get it to the people He wants to read it. That is why I have this own imprint of mine called Northern Belle Publishing. I can't even say it's a dream come true—it's simply how God led me to release the books He inspires.
This novel is the one that's been with me the longest, its characters are like family, and hold a special part of my heart that is only revealed within its pages, and I would so love to share it with you.
Hope to see you on the
Belles & Roses Street Team!

I am so excited for you to read Margaret, Connor, and Adam's story in April. Stay tuned for cover reveal, more about my novella—and all the other adventures God's put me on this season.

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When All Things Are Made New

Two years ago I was laying with my feet up in a recliner in compression stockings, and using a walker just to shuffle to and from the living room to the bathroom. Two years ago my best friend got married and my heart broke that I couldn't be there as her maid of honor as we'd always planned. Two years ago I was freaking out wondering when I could get back to normal—the job God dropped into my lap after high school that I was actually excited to return to.
One year ago I was a week into a brand new job, riding a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows from great triumphs and gifts in time with my tribe at CFRR and ACFW, as well as dealing with the loss of my grandfather and internalizing my pain over deferred hopes—despite having two new painfree hips.

Those two paragraphs are perhaps the summation of the biggest parts of my story thus far, but its not why I'm dusting off ye old blog. If anything, it's to say that, wherever you are in your story—God's going to come through.
That Big Change you're desperate for?
This wilderness season that won't seem to end and everything good seems so unlikely and far off?
The pain of loss or deferred hopes that leaves you shuddering and hardened and you don't quite know how to cope?
God can take all your ugly anger and resentment and pain. He doesn't judge you or call you a bad Christian through it.
The heartbreak of losing someone you thought'd be Someone Special?
The dizzying conflict of being in a place you're not exactly sure you wanted to be in, despite the positives?
I need to watch how often I say, "Tell God your plans and hear Him laugh." It's an easy quip, based in truth—but it can be trite and bitter to taste. As if to say, "God's laughing at you."
Not so, friends.
He has the heart of a good, good Father, our God is a lion—the Lion of Judah—who fiercely protects and loves His own.
No discipline feels pleasant in the moment. But it's like a harvest. A lot of hard, grueling, painful work both on our part and God's—no parent likes to see their child hurting.
But the yield after the harvest? The way only God—only HIM—makes all things new?
It's worth it. Not the comparatively easier seasons that may indeed come after a hard one, not the prosperity or dreams being fulfilled—HE is worth it.
He is worth knowing, going deeper with—so that years down the road, you can shake your head in wonder at all God has done and how He is all the more real, good and loving.
And then run with it.
Give back, love well, open your heart—yes, the risk of rejection is worth risking again and again—and God has incredible people yet to come into your life. People who will teach you something even as you're ministering to them. People who will be working alongside you for similar goals—to love people well the way Jesus did—it is an incredible unveiling of just how well God loves us, these people who are the hands and feet of Jesus.
Your world and soul will expand after the heartache of your world's rug getting ripped out from under you.
And that is all God doing His glorious unfolding.
Trust me—I thought at one time that at twenty-four I'd be saving for a wedding, not for a mission's trip to Haiti with some of the best people I know from the newest home for my heart—my very own church.
God is good, all the time. He is in this business of restoring, healing hearts and rebuilding lives so that we may continue to go about His business—and love others well wherever they may be.

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How God Uses the Wilderness to Get Your Attention

An autumn Sunday morning. Blue sky and puffy white clouds and a breeze that had me worried my dress would pull a Marilyn Monroe-esque look as I walked into the church.
Worship was through, communion partook of. I grabbed my notebook instead of my phone to actually handwrite notes on the sermon our campus pastor was giving that morning. It was on the story of Hosea. And how God instructed the prophet to marry a prostitute. One of those Bible stories that are easy to write off as some random cultural occurrence to prove a point, or teach Israel a lesson since this was a time before Jesus ushered in the New Covenant of grace.
Except this is the word of God we're talking about here—even stories such as these have a purpose.
The pursuit of God is a theme tangible in the plot of Hosea. Hosea who, after marrying Gomer, had three children. Except only one is said to be "his." Which means she kept sneaking off, sleeping with other men—returning to her old way of life. This is a prodigal daughter story.
Gomer's lovers ended up selling her into slavery, and Hosea was told by God to buy her back—and he obeyed. He paid the price for her—the lowest price for a slave. One who was considered damaged goods according to Levitical (Old Testament) law—also by that law? Hosea had the right to kill Gomer for her actions, but he didn't. He instead obeyed God, choosing love—living out God's own redemptive pursuit of Israel. Of us.
Hosea brought Gomer back from the wilderness—at her lowest point. Everything was stripped away from her. God brought her to the wilderness. The result of her actions—but it's often in these moments of God's discipline / sovereign will that we're stalled long enough to hear His shouts. He shouts in our pain to get our attention, to restore us to His heart.
If pain is what it takes to bring us home, God will do it. He's done it time and time again through out history.
My pastor spoke those words (not verbatim)—and my pen stalled in my notebook and I almost cried, a piece of my heart clicked back into place.
Restoration, right?
Not only was I sitting in a place I never thought existed or that I needed, with no pain, but the happiest I've ever been. Because God is a restorer. His is a relentless pursuit that never fails.
Whatever your wilderness season's looked like, or if you're in one now—can I encourage you to just hang on? Quiet your heart, and listen for what God's saying to gain your attention and tuck you back into His embrace.

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Tangled Words {and how to untangle them}

These words of Moses', guys? It's where I'm at in this season. Whether in person with new friends/acqauntances. Anytime I talk about my writing. I write somewhat better than I talk. But most of all?
Words are tangled and knotted and stuck right now. With Amongst the Roses' sequel, with my novella that has a title, two main characters, a setting and little else. Not to mention life whirling on at an alarming pace—it's already October! Color me overwhelmed, to say the least.
And I've been beating myself up about even feeling this overwhelmed. I should be able to handle all this. It's all good! Especially compared to the not so distant past. I should be able to shoulder it all and keep a good attitude and meet everyone's needs
Something I've been reading about in my small group's book for this season: Wild & Free, cut me to the quick.
We put God in a box.
Moses, way back when here, was putting God in a box. He was literally speaking with God then! Telling the Great I Am that his limitations and struggles were bigger than the Creator of the Universe's ability to make a way of deliverance.
And I do this more than I care to admit. I step right into the quicksand of paralyzing anxiety that's always there but off/on exacerbated by things both in my control and out of it. I freeze. I retreat inward.
Because I am a great sinner work-in-progress who has a great Savior. Who's proven Himself time and again and again and again as wildly loving and cherishing of me in all my issues.
If you're in this neighborhood of just overwhelmed—can I share a few things that've helped me?

  1. Don't be afraid to get real and honest.
    Start with a journal. Just scribble. No one'll read it but you. Talk with a trusted friend, ask for prayer. I know its often easier to not risk rejection and stay quiet, but reach out to those nearest you. You'll be surprised. And often God speaks through them.
  2. Pros and cons lists.
    They actually help. They may not for you. But take a hard look and review all your committments, and prayerfully see what needs to be put on hold temporarily.
  3. Fill your mind/ears with truth.
    Start with who God is—then who you are. For me? Music is an incredible blessing in the battle through anxiety and overwhelm. Just make sure not to numbly tune out, but really truly listen to those favorite calming songs that lift your eyes up to the One who's holding your dear heart.
  4. Prioritize rest and sleep.
    I know, I know—easier said than done. But seriously. I can hop on my computer and just end up completely zoning out or switching between my open novel doc and Facebook after a certain time of night. That's when I'm trying to close it, take a deep breath, grab whatever novel I'm reading, and curl up in bed. It'll actually get you to bed sooner and, if the book's a great one, unwind your tangled mind to get decent rest.

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The Latest Pepper Basham Novel! {Cover Reveal}

It's no secret around here I love books, and romance—in that order. Allow me to reintroduce one of the greatest romance writers of our time and in the inspirational fiction world—Pepper Basham. This woman spins magic from her finger tips when she writes her books. Not only is the romance poignant and swoon-worthy (I kid you not, there've been fans that've needed, well, fans, during some scenes), but the truth of the Gospel and the grace God lavishes upon us is woven through out every story to reflect back the beauty of the Ultimate Author. Couple all this with three-dimensional characters, hilarious comedic interludes and exchanges, and you've got a hit on your hands. Honestly every book she keeps releasing I adore more and more than the last.

Amazon | Goodreads | B&N
The cover I'm sharing here today is for book two in her highly acclaimed Mitchell's Crossroads series. A series that began with a fiery opposites-attract storyline set against the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in A Twist of Faith. { My full review here }
Love does not have an accent ... 
Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position.
For one, Adelina didn't plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she'd tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past.
But when Reese discovers that he's a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina s deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?

And now, book two. The heroine is Reese's sister Rainey, the hero, interestingly enough, the "villain" from book one, is Alex. Adorkable Alex, and Tough-Cookie Rainey. Both have painful pasts, and unsure futures, but despite Alex's playboy facade, and Rainey's no-nonsense exterior—they have similar tender hearts that hope against hope to be cherished for who they really are in Charming the Troublemaker.
About the book:
{Which you can Add to Goodreads Now! }

--> When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looked as good as it did on Rainey Mitchell.Rainey Mitchell does not need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptation wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne. 
When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again?
Releasing November 1, 2017!
Y'all! Isn't this awesome? Alex's boyish "I'm a stinker" grin, and Rainey's loving "I put up with you" smile? My heart.

About the Author
As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family. You can learn more about her on her website, or connect on Facebook or Twitter.


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On Pursuit

Who doesn't love a good pursuit story? The "How We Met" stories that have the guy pursuing the girl patiently, kindly, but intentionally. Even if it was simply sitting beside her at Bible study, or in a cafeteria enough times before worked up the courage to ask her out. One of my personal favorites are the totally unforeseen pursuit stories. My best friend was the one to initially ask her now-husband out—but at the time it was just to "talk shop about robotics." What can I say, I'm friends with a ton of nerds. Turns out though, her initiating that with those legit reasons (he wasn't on her radar like at ALL, trust me), gave him the opportunity to go out with her one on one. Because he'd noticed her months prior.

In my recent scrollings, there've been a few articles that've cropped up about dating and all that jazz, and the one word that keeps coming up is Pursuit. I'm all for that and refuse to settle for me putting in all the effort/communication/initiation. But we have to watch that hard and fast rule of not settling for a guy who won't pursue. Not that I've been on any dates in months...BUT.
Think about something here. Turn the whole dating/pursuit/not-settling ideas inside out with me.
A relationship takes equal partnership. Don't say "duh" yet. (And I know, I know any relationship/marriage isn't 50/50 100% of the time. But there needs to be committment. Okay. Digression over.)
This also means equal pursuit. We need to be available to be pursued, but we also need to put in effort. To be open and honest from the get go—and really get to know the guy. Which often involves hard questions, listening, and above all? Kindness.
Just think of how God pursues us, and wants us to do the same back to Him. Even when we go AWOL or try to hide our little messes, thinking He can't possibly want us at our worst? He wants to be there for us, actively loving every facet of our hearts. Even the work in progress parts. God's pursuit is the only one that will be truly relentless. Better than the stuff of all the romance novels ever written.

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Walking Through Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a real thing and has flares week by week—sometimes day by day. The definition that came up when I typed it on Google is this:
Have you ever had seasons of life where the writing was almost nonexistent? Where word counts and inspiration were nothing more than a dripping faucet that annoyed you more than it refreshed you? Not to mention scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and seeing all these other authors post their thousands of words they got logged for the week, when you struggle to remember how to get your WIP to The End in the first place.
Then though, you have an opportunity to own that title of Author—and yes, it is a title you can own proudly no matter if you're published or unpublished, traditionally or indie.
That opportunity comes and you smile, thinking about that story or sequel and all the places it'll go. Or a future reader expresses excited impatience as to when it'll be released? The smile gets tight, your heart rate goes up a notch or four...well, y'all get the picture, right?

Imposter Syndrome is an occupational hazard of being a writer. Even the most seasoned pros will admit to it. There are ways we can combat it. But first we have to identify what exactly flares it into that paralyzing, self-loathing beast.
  1. Comparison
    The thief of all joy. Social media plays huge role in this. On one hand, we get real-time engagement with so many dear people, opportunities to get involved in communities for support, and we can make new friends! All the while getting our name/work Out There into the great, wide world.
    The curse? Comparison. It can creep in subtly. Scrolling aimlessly on our phones really messes with our already-shaky confidence as we wonder how we can get our Instagrams to look like that, or we wonder when we'll reach That Milestone a favorite author just met, or How on earth does she log that many words a day?! What's the secret formula?! You get the picture.
  2. Impatience
    I think I've thrown the phrase "Patience is a virtue" into every one of my novels at some point. I grew up with it—you may have, too. This, like comparison, is both a blessing and a curse. An eagerness to meet goals, to cross finish lines—to hold that book baby in your hand after perhaps years of hard labor&mdahs;is something to be clung to. When it morphs into bitter impatience (see point about comparison above), that is when we're edged closer and closer to the high point of Imposter Syndrome: giving up.

See that selfie of mine over there?
Mere minutes after signing in at the second annual Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat, I ran up to my room to drop off a few things so I wouldn't be quite so burdened whilst mingling the entire day. I had to walk slow back down to the main event space, because my Imposter Syndrome was at the highest it's been in a while. I can't even remember the last time I wrote out an entire scene of Margaret and Connor's continuing story.
But here I was, a Participating Author who ended up signing books next to THE Rachel Hauck
As amazing as a time I had at CFRR, reinvigorated to get back to my books? That Imposter Syndrome waxed and waned and I had quite a battle to keep it from utterly paralyzing me.
But why? I already published two books. Ohh yes. Those two books. Aka the most nervewracking and humbling learning curves of my entire life thus far. Because the heart of Imposter Syndrome is inadequacy. The fear/belief that me and what I do/write will never be enough. And it has plagued me my whole life long.
But this is not who I am to define myself as. We are not good enough—without  Christ. But in Christ? He is enough, and so are our best efforts.

How to Combat Imposter Syndrome:

    These black and white numbered tips are like exercises. Good, helpful—but really, really hard to actually do. But so very worth it. 

  1. Remember Whose you are
    Remembering Whose we are takes a lot of mental self-discipline, and even more honest, open communion with the Ultimate Author. He can take anything and everything we're feeling, and is so unbelievably faithful to send us just the right words to sooth our hearts, spur on our stories, and lift us up. He heals up the brokenhearted, the wounded in spirit, and with Him alone we can soar on wings like eagles. Remember He gave you this gift and calling of Author—so keep on talking His ear off about it and don't rely on your own understanding. Without Him we have nothing. Including our books.
  2. Own your title
    Take your art seriously. Honor the calling God's placed on your life by prioritizing it. By planning and setting flexible goals prayerfully. And you are totally allowed to be excited and talk about your books! :) I swiped red lipstick on before my selfie above and pretended to be psyched until it was (quickly) real.
  3. Be humble
    Yes I did just say "Own your title! Proudly!". But being humble is perhaps the hardest part of the last two points. It involves asking for help. Confessing your feelings of inadequacy, doubt and anxiety. First to the Lord—and then to one of your ride-or-die friends. One of those who has seen you through the good, bad, and the ugly. Someone who won't be afraid to tell you the hard things you need to hear—after listening to you without judgment or a platitude bandaid to slap over it.
    Ask for help. Ask even to be reminded why you write in the first place! And don't be afraid to ask someone who's read your story(ies) why they enjoyed it. Or what you could improve on.
  4. Limit social media.
    This, to me, feels like that machine at the gym that does crunches "for me." All through my own effort, but on a bench thingy. Aka my least favorite machine at the gym because my core is super weak. This is SO neccessary, y'all. And trust me I'm preaching to myself here. Keep in close connection with those ride-or-die friends I mentioned, but set a timer. Something. Unless you honestly need to find some information on the interwebs.
    Bonus? You'll have more time to write.

Can you share a time when Imposter Syndrome tripped you up like it did for me at CFRR? And other practical tips to combat it? Asking for a friend. #not.

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How to Rise from the Ashes of Burn Out

As a rule, creatives err on the sensitive side of the spectrum. They put enormous amounts of pressure on themselves. Add in the trait of being the first born, a perfectionist—you've got a heck of a hot mess.
Tell me I'm not alone in my hot messiness, y'all?
Life comes in seasons, and I am learning slowly, ever so slowly, to lean into them instead of fighting them like Superwoman to keep all the plates spinning above me in perfect sync.
I almost hate even writing about this and cringe thinking of all the true Wonderwomen authors I know who are on hard deadlines, with husbands, with day jobs, with children, with ministries.

But burn out is not exclusive to one demographic group. It's not completely avoidable either since we're humans—not superhumans. What we have to do first, in order to regain some positivity and strength that burnout can zap from us, is identify it, and take one step at a time to rise out of it.

Identifying Burn Out:

  • Exceptional exhaustion
  • Lack of interest in your favorite things
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Immense anxiety/pressure when you even consider getting back to something you love
  • Immense guilt about not doing/being enough

I don't know about you, but I want to continually get back to what sets my soul on fire. On carving out moments to work on what makes me feel most alive—joyously alive.
What makes you feel most alive?
For me? It's writing.
Not that I don't love blogging, but I am an author first. An indie author, at that. Which means I set my own deadlines and make my own plans...which also means self-discipline is always a work in progress. But remember seasons. Seasons with deadlines mean I need to continually work hard to keep boundaries up. With everyone and everything—even if it means disappointing people. Chances are? If you're simply honest with well-meaning friends or coworkers about how you do appreciate the invite, you're on deadline and have to stay on task, they'll understand. That's always been my biggest hang-up—letting people down.
Can I drop a truth bomb that I need to majorly work on remembering?
We don't have to do everything for and with everybody just because there's the option. There's a fine line not of balance, but of boundaries, that look different with every season. Especially when you're coming out of burn out and want to make positive changes to regain some happiness.
Positive changes such as...

How to Rise from the Ashes of Burn Out

  • Make boundaries. Prayerfully.
  • You're allowed to say no.
  • Write out flexible and hard goals you'd like and need to meet.
  • Above all—be honest. With yourself and those in your life as to what you feel up to doing. You're not doing anyone any favors if you're not.

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