4/27/18 – UPDATE

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It’s been a while and I wanted to give an update on me and my writing because this matters to me and if you’re reading this, maybe it matters to you, too.

  • It’s been almost a full year since Good You Were Here went live on Amazon! Craziness. To celebrate the anniversary (May 19th) I’m probably going to be doing a giveaway. More on that in the future.
  • I finished a first draft of my short play, Royal Bring Your Dog to Dinner Day. I was writing it for a local homeschool group and learned they are not actually going to be performing a play this year. No worries. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing it performed sometime in 2019.
  • After finishing the play, I picked back up my 2015 NaNo Novel Tulip Season. There’s a lot of very good stuff there but it needs some work and some revising. Not a lot of headway on that but we’ll see. Definitely a story I want to finish and send out into the world sooner than later.
  • I got a little bit stuck and overwhelmed with Tulip Season since it’s a longer book, so I picked back up a story I’ve been developing probably since 2010. It has a working title of Beanstalk and Basket and it’s a crossover of Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood. I’m really excited at the prospect of writing a book for a younger audience since my 13-year-old sister and 8-year-old brother love reading and have been asking me for books geared more towards them.

There are several reasons why I’ve been more absent for almost a month from my blog and from my writing social media in general. I’ve been busy with: life in general, my two other jobs, family/friends/relationship. But I’ve also been struggling with a general lack of sleep, some anxiety, and imposter syndrome.

If you aren’t familiar with imposter syndrome, Wikipedia defines it thus: “Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.”

For me, this has meant feeling like my writing isn’t ‘that good’, that no one really cares about my writing, that I’m too lazy to be a full-time writer, that I should stop trying to make it more than a hobby because I’ll just be wasting my time, and that no one will take me seriously. I have good support systems helping me overcome this but it’s going to be a process. Over this last month, I kept wanting to give updates, especially as I was tip-typing away and making progress on stories, but I kept thinking, “Eh, no one cares, it doesn’t really matter.”

But it does matter. A lot. Stories matter and no one else can tell the stories I have to tell. It may be slow going, but there’s no reason I can’t potentially help support myself with my writing. It will take a lot of hard work, but I’m capable of hard work. I want to put in the work. I just have to believe it matters.

So there’s my update. It is still my goal to have a blog post up every Tuesday and Friday. My overall writing goal for the year is to publish at least one book. I had originally had the lofty ambition of publishing at least three books, but I’m okay with downsizing that goal so I can put out something truly beautiful.

Thank you for reading and thank you for sticking with me. Stories coming soon, I promise. 

God bless,

Clare

 

Related Posts:

Future Projects – 1

What I Wrote Today 4

It Is Good That We Are Here – The Why Behind the Title

 

 

Blogmas 2017 – Day 30/31 – 2017 in Review

As the year winds down, here are my Top 7 of 2017. Enjoy!

7. Solo Trip to Rochester June 23

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I had never gone on such a long road trip all by myself before, but I was free one weekend so I made plans to go back for a visit to one of my favorite cities: Rochester, MN, where I lived for nine months back in 2014-15. Originally I had hoped my teenage brother and sister would be able to come along, but the timing didn’t work out. I went anyway. I had to navigate and plan all by myself, and while there were some less-than-perfect moments, it was a huge growing experience.

I got to see a group from the theatre I interned at perform music at my favorite coffee shop and hang out with a few very good friends. It was so much fun and I proved to myself I was much more capable than I’d ever thought.

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(My friend Rae at a pop-up sale we went to together!)

6. Good Morning Bedlam Concert July 15

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This might have been the most fun I had the entire year. I heard that two bands I absolutely love and have really cool memories with, Good Morning Bedlam and Harbor & Home, were playing in Willmar, MN for Market on the Farm. I desperately wanted to go but lacked the confidance to go on my own. I was asking around, trying to find someone who wanted to go with me and at the last minute my sister Terese agreed to come along. It was fantastic. We had an absolute ball and I got to hang out with Good Morning Bedlam, four of the coolest people I know who I am proud to call friends.

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5. Total Solar Eclipse August 21

This was memorable for many reasons. Historic celestial event on the one hand, and seeing a best friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in years on the other.

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It was a rough road trip filled with rain and uncertainty and a lot of boredom and frustration, but I’m so grateful I got to experience it in person.

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I will always remember that little halo of pink light around the moon as it totally eclipsed the sun.

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4. Thanksgiving 2017

My whole family hadn’t been all together in four years or so. This year my oldest sister came with her husband and son from Ohio and my second older sister came from Arizona and we all got together for Thanksgiving at my dad’s parents in Rochester, MN. It was messy and loud and chaotic but it was ours and it was beautiful. The best moment of that week for me was getting drinks with my two older sisters downtown. We had the most amazing conversations and it made me realize all over again how blessed I am to have them in my life.

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3. Wedding October 15th

My oldest friend got married and my sister and I were bridesmaids! From navigating two airports and an hour and a half Uber ride, to getting all dolled up together in the bridal suite and posing for countless photos, it was a beautiful experience and so many happy tears were shed.

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2. Moving Out December 13

This was a totally unexpected thing. I had set a goal to be moved out by March 30th 2018, but the oppurtunity came up to move into an apartment across town from my family. I thought and prayed and asked for advice about it and I decided to take the leap.

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(New bedroom!)

I am so grateful I did; I can tell this was something I needed to keep moving forward and growing as a person. My roommate is the best. Just this morning I woke up to her starting the movie You’ve Got Mail and we watched it together while eating breakfast. Quality.

1. Publishing Good You Were Here May 17th

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I had no idea until March of this year that this was even on the horizon for me. I had committed to writing every day in December 2016, and then I learned about the Kindle Storyteller competition in March 2017. I committed to finishing and publishing this book in time for that contest, and while I missed the deadline, I did it. I published a book!

This book. Goodness. What to even say about it. It has challenged me, grown me, changed the course of my life. I’ve gotten so much amazing feedback on it from people. The most notable and meaningful response was from the mother of one of the other bridesmaids in that wedding back in October. This woman had never met me before but was in the middle of reading Good You Were Here and was practically in tears as she told me how much it meant to her and how beautiful it was.

Dang.

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I love this book, for all that it is and all that it’s done for me. No matter how little money it’s made me, no matter how many little grammatical errors I’ve found after the fact, I consider it a triumph. By the grace of God, it is a triumph.

Other highlights include starting counseling, seeing the musical Matilda in Cincinatti with my older sisters, discovering the album Gone Now by Bleachers, going to a Murder Mystery Dinner Party for Halloween, making some new friends, going on my first date in two years, having a surprise birthday party thrown for me, and seeing the movie Kubo and the Two Strings for the first time.

And there you have it. My 2017 in review. What a year. God has blessed me so much and I’m grateful beyond words.

Tomorrow I’ll post a lookback on Blogmas 2017 and my revised 2018 goals.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017

Get a copy of Good You Were Here

Blogmas 2017 – Day 22/31 – Good You Were Here EXTRA

The other day I posted a snippet I wrote for a writing prompt (read it here). Here’s another snippet from that prompt exercise, and this one is extra special because it’s a scene for Good You Were Here! It’s not exactly a deleted scene, more like a bonus scene I wrote just to play around with the characters that ultimately didn’t fit in the book. Enjoy!

 

4/3/17 Bonus Scene, Good You Were Here

“It’s September,” Florence commented solemnly as she handed Angela her cup of tea.

Angela looked away from her mother, making her brain pretend it didn’t make the connection. “So?”

Florence didn’t answer. She knew Angela was pretending.

“Is Evan coming over today?”

“I think so,” Angela replied, turning and walking out of the kitchen.

She walked into the living room, and found Evan already there, taking his shoes off at the door.

“Hi,” he said, smiling at her.

“Hi,” she replied, smiling in spite of the sickening sorrow her mother had awakened in her.

Evan’s smile faded. “You okay?”

“Hm? What? Why?” Angela self consciously ran a hand over her hair, realizing her hairspray had probably not been sufficient to tame it.

“What’s wrong?” Evan asked.

She looked away. So much for not being perceptive. “Nothing. It’s nothing. Just…” She sipped her tea. She took a deep breath. No point in keeping secrets, remember? “It’s September now,”

“Yeah?”

“It was seven months ago,” she said softly. “seven months ago, they told me I had eight months to live,”

Evan’s face twisted. He went to her and wrapped his arms around her. Her teacup got caught between them and pressed into both their chests uncomfortably, but she didn’t move. She pressed her eyes to Evan’s shoulder and let him hold her.

“Look at you,” Evan’s voice was unnaturally high. “You’re fine. You aren’t going to die,”

Tears began to stream from Angela’s eyes, so she kept them on his shoulder. “I mean, probably not next month. But before too long. I have good days, I have bad days. I am dying, Evan,”

He held her tighter, so tight the cup pressed into her collarbone hurt, but she didn’t pull away. She wished he could hold her tight enough to keep her soul in her body. She wanted him to be right, even though she could feel her lungs wearing out, her heart ticking down.

“I want you to live,”

“I want to live, too,”

They stood and held each other, trying to ward off September, trying to ward off the cruel, uncaring clock of congestive heart failure, until her tea was cold.

 

 

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Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017!

Blogmas 2017 – Day 17/31 – Good You Were Here Soundtrack

I love the idea of books having soundtracks. Not exactly in the sense that ‘oh, the book is a movie in my head and this is the soundtrack it would have.’ What I mean is more like, ‘here are the songs that inspired individual scenes in my book, songs that might give you more insight into this story’. Also, music is often a big part of my stories.

I have two Spotify playlists for every story I’m working on — a private one of all the songs I listen to while I’m writing and a more polished public one that is meant to accompany the book for my readers.

I’m particularly proud of the playlist I made to accompany Good You Were Here, so I decided to share it.

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If you have Spotify, you can listen to the playlist HERE.

If not, I’ve created a Youtube playlist HERE.

Good You Were Here: Official Playlist

  1. Reaper – Sia
  2. Run and Hide – Sabrina Carpenter
  3. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers
  4. Gun Song – The Lumineers
  5. Dust to Dust – The Civil Wars
  6. Come Softly to Me – The Fleetwoods
  7. Let Love In – The Goo Goo Dolls
  8. Hesitate – Steve Moakler
  9. Forever – Matt Hires
  10. Medicine – The 1975
  11. Black Bear – Andrew Belle
  12. Be Here Long – Needtobreathe
  13. Medicine – Daughter
  14. Me – The 1975
  15. My Oldest Friend – Andrew Belle
  16. Cancer – Twenty One Pilots
  17. I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab For Cutie
  18. For Now – Kina Grannis
  19. F2b – Safetysuit
  20. Gone Away – Safetysuit
  21. Uncle Jonny – The Killers
  22. I Found Love – Owl City
  23. Hello My Old Heart – The Oh Hellos

Hope you enjoy this playlist!

You can get a copy of Good You Were Here on Amazon. 

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

 

Blogmas 2017 – Day 8/31 – Good You Were Here, Chapter 17

LAZLO WAS NOT HAVING A GOOD DAY. He felt feverish, so feverish he took out the old mercury thermometer from behind the bathroom mirror and stuck it into his mouth for the necessary three minutes. But when he checked it, it was normal. The fever was in his brain, not in his body.

He paced around his house for a couple of hours, hands shaking, adjusting pictures on the wall so they were straighter, then realizing he had made them crooked, and straightening them out again. He tried to eat a bowl of soup, but he couldn’t make himself put the spoon to his mouth.

As the day wore on, he found that he couldn’t look at anything. Everything reminded him of her. Even stains on the carpet made him writhe with agonizing nostalgia. How was it that he could remember how every single stain had gotten there?

Finally, he went to the bedroom and grabbed the pistol. He stomped out onto the front lawn, breathing heavily, his vision too sharp, too precise. He whirled around a couple of times, not even bothering to conceal the gun. But there was no one around. Not a soul was out that afternoon.

Lazlo turned back towards the house, shaking his head, when he heard an unpleasant squealing noise.

He turned around, and saw, coming down the sidewalk, a little boy, about five or six, on a squeaky plastic tricycle.

Lazlo stood on his lawn, his eyes glued to the child as he came closer, and closer. Finally, the boy was right in front of Lazlo’s house, and for some inexplicable reason, stopped short.

Lazlo aimed that gun right at that little boy. For an eternity, they stayed where they were, staring at each other. After a moment, the boy made a gun with his thumb and forefinger and aimed it back at Lazlo. “Bang!” the boy shouted and pedaled his bike away as fast as he could, laughing.

Lazlo nearly dropped the gun as he staggered backward, shaking. He stood there for a moment, in shock at what he had intended to do, at the boy’s response. He turned and ran back into his house, slamming the door behind him. He slumped against the door, clutching the gun in his hands, and began to weep.

Read the rest of Lazlo’s story in Good You Were Here, available on Amazon. Signed copies available upon request: claremariespeltz@gmail.com

Blogmas 2017 – Day 7/31 – 2018 Goals

First off — need a Christmas present for someone who likes to read? Particularly someone who likes to read sad books? Need a good cry yourself? Want to support me? Consider buying my book Good You Were Here, available on Amazon for only $7.50! Ships with Amazon Prime! Signed copies available for $10 if you just ask: claremariespeltz@gmail.com.

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Evan feels like he should be dead. He has survivor’s guilt from a terrible accident over a decade ago. He dwells in the past, thinking of all the things he would take back if only he could. But then he meets Angela.

Angela is dying. Her life consists of managing her congestive heart failure symptoms and preparing for death. But then she meets Evan, a locksmith who can open anything except his heart. They get to know each other, and Angela begins to believe there is time to live before she dies.

Lazlo wants to kill someone. He can’t think of any way to get back at death for taking his wife from him. But then he reconnects with Angela, the dying girl across the street from him, and he has to decide if he will fight off the shadows in his life, or let them consume him, with violent consequences.

As the year runs down, the three of them must come to grips with death in their own ways and struggle to continue living in the moments that have been given to them.

Think about it.

Without further ado…

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2017 has been a good year for me. It really has. I think a lot of that is due to the fact that I actually started setting goals with tangible steps to achieve them. I still have a long way to go, but I’m determined to keep setting goals and growing into the best version of myself.

Here, in no particular order, is my first draft of my 2018 goals.

  • Learn hand-lettering – This is something I know I’m totally capable of doing and absolutely love. I just need to get on Pinterest and invest the time.
  • Go on 3 dates? – I have no idea if this will happen. It will depend on whether or not I meet anyone I actually want to go on a date with. We’ll see.
  • MOVE OUT! – This is just about my biggest priority. I’m determined to be in my own space as soon as possible. January sounds nice. Trying (failing) to be patient.
  • Publish 3 books – Being Daniel will come out as early as possible in 2018. I’ll aim to get Where Your Story Ends out by early summer. I’m not sure yet what I’ll have for you after that, but I’m going to stretch myself and try to get another book out in the fall or winter. Exciting stuff coming!
  • Actually try to learn Spanish – I’ll be perfectly honest – the movie Coco is the driving inspiration behind this goal. I’ve tried twice now and haven’t stuck to it, but I really want to expand my brain and my vocabulary.
  • Travel 2 new places, anywhere. – I always grow when I travel. I have a sister out in Arizona I want to visit and a friend is talking about road tripping to Florida, so we shall see.
  • NaNoWriMo – Doing NaNo this year has absolutely convinced me this should be a priority next year.
  • Cut down on stuff – I have a lot of ‘what if I need that someday?’ junk filling up my room. I want to have only the stuff I need so I have less I need to haul around with me wherever life takes me.
  • Create a nice summer wardrobe – I hate summer clothes. This year I’d like to invest in clothes that I actually like and don’t make me squirm.
  • Exercise somehow – To be fair, I gave this a solid try this summer. I wasn’t even remotely consistent but I was much more active than I have been in the past. Currently, my plan is to get myself a jump rope and at least do cardio.
  • Save $3000! – I really want to build up a respectable savings account. Every time I’ve saved up, it’s been to pay for something huge (trip to Italy, another trip to Italy, laptop, car…) and I want to finally have money put away and invested in my future.
  • Pay off loan woot woot! – I currently have less than $600 to go on my loan and I can’t wait until that is GONE.
  • Road trip with friends? – I have a friend who I really want to introduce to Lake Superior in Wisconsin and I also want to go back to the Grotto of Redemption in West Bend, Iowa. We’ll see.
  • BLOG CONSISTENTLY – No explanation needed.

I’ll be looking at this, adding to/editing it throughout this month, and hopefully, I’ll go into 2018 with an awesome list of goals and a clear plan to meet each of them.

Got any goals for 2018? Think setting goals is dumb? Let me know!

God Bless,

Clare

Click here to check out all of Blogmas 2017

Click here to buy Good You Were Here on Amazon

Being Daniel – 95 Days to GO

I got a countdown app to keep track of how many days to go until the publication date I’ve set for Being Daniel – December 14th, 2017 (my 23rd birthday). So here we are with 95 days to go, and I’d like to share a few random facts about this early Christmas present I’ll be sending you guys:

    1. Being Daniel is not actually finished, but it’s getting there. My goal is to be done writing the story by October 1st, which gives me all of October to edit and all of November to get it proof-read and perfect for you.
    2. Current word count for Being Daniel is approximately 37,000. Good You Were Here has a total word count of 33,318, so I’m guessing BD will be around 42,000 when all is said and done. Hopefully, no one minds a longer book that costs just a little more. (My guess is Being Daniel will be an even $10, if you’re curious.)
    3. I don’t have cover art finalized for BD, but here’s my initial prototype:

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      Look familiar? Yep. I’m purposefully trying to recreate the look from the GYWH cover.

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    4. While Good You Were Here and Being Daniel are technically unrelated, I have a third story in the works that will connect them, making a sort of loose trilogy of books, all with similar themes. So be excited! No date for book three yet, but it’ll probably be early Spring 2018.
    5. Being Daniel will be set in Rochester, MN. I did a nine-month internship in Rochester over 2014-2015, and I thought it would be cool to set a story there. I set GYWH in a location I’d never actually been to (Newport/Jamestown, Rhode Island), so I decided to go easy on myself this time. Also, some of the themes in the book (anxiety, feeling lost, not really knowing yourself) were things I actually struggled with while living in Rochester.
    6. No will die in Being Daniel. There is, however, a dead character who is frequently referenced throughout the story. Sorry, guys. Death is a great literary tool and I can’t seem to write stories without it.

I hope you enjoyed these random facts/update on the progress of my next book. I’m trying to set up a schedule to be more consistent in blogging, so if there’s anything you’d be interested in having me blog about, let me know!

Thanks for reading and God bless,

Clare

Writing Alcohol (1 of ?)

As I type this, I’m sipping a cocktail made of some sparkling Izze juice and pomegranate vodka. I enjoy very few alcoholic beverages, have only had one shot in my life, have never been drunk, and I can have just as much of a good time with or without booze. I feel like I’m obligated to enjoy it just because I happen to be a 22-year-old woman. I’m still waiting for that magical day when I ‘grow up’ and love drinking wine. Wine is so classy and sophisticated.

Yeah, I hate wine.

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(Sorry, Kermit – and Mom.)

Meanwhile, today I finished an outline for a book in which the main character, Tony, is an alcoholic struggling to stay sober throughout the duration of the story. Here we face the challenge of writing what we don’t know! *Fireworks go off and fizzle out pathetically in the distance*

Not only am I a lightweight whom God did not create to dig the taste of liquor, but I don’t personally know anyone who I would consider an alcoholic – not even anyone who I would consider a reckless or stupid drinker. My older sisters are expert social drinkers and my mom is a wine snob, while my younger sister is an actual bartender.

So my knowledge of alcoholism is limited to TED Talks, Wikipedia, and Captain Jack Sparrow. Obviously, I’m not going to cut this element from my story. It’s part of the character, even if it’s not part of my personal experience. I’m just going to have to seek more sources and make sure I portray alcoholism – and recovery from it – as honestly as I possibly can.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – how alcohol and writing seem to have a very close-knit relationship. Many of the most famous authors in history were alcoholics. Ernest Hemingway is credited with the line “Write drunk, edit sober.” (although the internet tells me the quote is actually from a writer named Peter De Vries) My desire to write drinking and alcoholism into my story has nothing to do with wanting to fit in with the “writer aesthetic”, and everything to do with my desire to write authentic, human stories. Just because I don’t enjoy most alcohol and genuinely thought until like three years ago that everyone just pretended to like it because they liked getting drunk (don’t ask me how I developed these delusions) doesn’t mean that none of my characters will drink.

I’m blessed to have been raised in an environment where alcohol has always been used for celebration and enjoyment, and never viewed as a dangerous or sinful thing. When I was three or four, my grandpa would let me sip his beer. When I was fourteen or fifteen, my mom poured me my own glass of wine for Easter dinner. Even though I never really liked it, I was introduced to it in a way that made it seem like nothing more than a fancy adult treat – grown-up soda and juice, as it were. So, in spite of my own indifference towards booze, it’s definitely a part of my life and it finds its way into my writing easily.

For example, in my book Good You Were Here, drinking happens frequently, and for different purposes. Lazlo is drinking to try and numb his pain when he’s first introduced, but at another point, he’s calmly sipping a beer on his front porch. Evan drinks a beer on a picnic at the beach. Angela’s parents enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.

This is the first time I’ve tried to write a character who has a problem with alcohol. Everything is different now. No reference to booze can be casual because, for Tony, it’s anything but. He’s constantly battling with the temptation to drink, and ‘just one’ is never enough. It’s not fun to enter into the perspective of an addict and explore that painful enslavement, but, whether I like it or not, Tony is an alcoholic. I can’t change that about him. I mean, I could. But the funny thing about writing is that your characters tend to take on a life of their own, and you can tell when the author is making them do something that isn’t authentic to them. 

So, off I go into the process of writing a novel currently entitled Being Daniel, about a twenty-something who has hit rock bottom entirely due to his unhealthy relationship with alcohol. If anyone has any personal experience they’re willing to share about addiction and recovery, please feel free to contact me. I promise I will do my best not to sugarcoat or misrepresent this sensitive and serious issue. 

Thanks for reading, God bless!

– Clare