THE LAST TIME I SAW HER

 

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THE LAST TIME I SAW HER is available for preorder. It’s only $2.99 until release day on December 8th. Then it will go up to $3.99. So snag your kindle copy today!

 

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Two weeks ago, Dylan DiMarco and his sister Claire discovered Lauren Pascal’s body lying in a creek near his home.
Murdered.
Dead. Lifeless.
Today she is standing in the middle of the store where he works.
Alive. Breathing.
It’s not the first time he’s seen her lurking around. Following him. In life, Lauren had wanted nothing to do with him. In death, she won’t leave him alone.
He knows what she wants. What he has to do so he can finally be free.
With the help of the school’s bad girl loner Harley, Dylan sets out to solve Lauren’s murder. But when the lines begin to blur between finding justice and seeking vengeance, things take a dangerous turn.

 

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Oops, I did it again

Today it happened again.

I’m ashamed. Embarrassed. Frustrated. And, honestly, feeling a little defeated.

I thought I’d come so far. I thought this was behind me. But then….it just happened.

However, that’s not exactly true. It didn’t JUST happen. It had been coming for awhile. There wasn’t just one decision that made it happen. There were lots of little decisions. Lots of moments where I caved…even if only a tiny bit. All those miniscule cracks eventually shattered and now I find myself sitting in a pile of rubble. Of broken glass. Of tears. Of cuts and bruises and blood.

For the past five years, many of you have walked this journey of anxiety and fear with me. And I want more than anything to tell you I’ve beat it. That it’s over. That it’s behind me.

That I’ve been victorious.

But I can’t.

Not yet.

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Yesterday I might have said differently. But today I know I still have some road to travel. I still have some demons to fight.

I haven’t had a panic attack since May…..until today. And I’ve been so proud of that fact. But the truth is that the past few weeks I’ve struggled. Sure, I put on a brave face and pretended it was all good. But deep down, I let fear take root. I’m dealing with some health stuff again – nothing horrible. But some of the same stuff I dealt with 5 years ago when this anxiety began to eat me alive. And instead of turning to God, I turned to my usual outlets – namely GOOGLE. Instead of giving me the relief I craved so much, it made me spin more and more and more. Then this morning I snapped.

Full-blown panic.

Full-blown anxiety.

And I felt like a full-blown loser.

The enemy was all over it too, whispering all the same venomous lies in my ear that he always does. Let’s face it, he’s not creative.

And tonight I’m sad.

Sad that I caved. Sad that I let him win.

But I’m also happy, and proud and hopeful because I’m not defeated. This is only a setback. I’ve had them before and I’ll have them again. My biggest mistake today wasn’t the panic attack. It was the shame I felt afterward.

God never wants me to feel shame. He is full of grace, mercy and truth. And when I finally lifted my eyes to him, that’s all I saw. He wasn’t shaking his finger at me. He loves me. He has grace for me.

Instead of shaming me, he held me.

And I know I’ll be okay. I’ll never be perfect. I’ll still fall. I’ll still stumble. I’ll probably still panic every now and then. But I won’t quit. I won’t give in. I’ll surrender to God time and time again. I’ll lay my fear at His feet.

And one of these days, maybe, just maybe I’ll leave it there for good.

Why Even Bother?

When I wrote my first book I had one goal in mind: finishing. The story was fun and engaging for me. I enjoyed every minute I spent scrawling out sentences in my notebook or typing furiously on the computer.

But something changed after penning that first novel. I entered the world of submissions. Of agents and publishers and synopses and query letters. And, of course, the dreaded rejection letters.

Once I started submitting, I found it difficult to write a new book. I longed for the rush I had while writing my first one, and that wasn’t happening. Instead, it felt like a chore, a task; it felt like work.

I was no longer writing for the pure enjoyment. I was writing with a different goal in mind: to secure a publishing deal. I was desperately trying to come up with a unique, marketable plot. I would hurriedly write three chapters and a blurb and send it off, then start brainstorming a new idea. It became less about writing and more about getting published.

Needless to say, years went by without a publishing deal. And I never found my niche; my genre. I just kept trying to play to the fads and trends.

Then Twilight came out, and I began devouring YA fiction. That’s when I wrote PROWL, and I knew I had found my niche. I loved writing that book. It felt a lot like that first novel. But once again, it didn’t sell.

ProwldSo, I self-published it.

And it did okay. Not great. Nothing earth shattering. Just okay. But the amazing part is that it opened up a new world to me. A world with readers. A world with other indie authors. A world with the freedom to write what I wanted.

This began a five-year journey of writing full time. In that timeframe I rarely, if ever, suffered from writer’s block. I always wrote what I wanted and I loved every second of it.

Then something happened.

I stopped making the money I had gotten used to making.

So I had to reassess; make some new and different choices. One of those choices was submitting and ultimately signing with a publisher. It was a dream come true, and I know it’s what’s necessary right now. The indie market isn’t what it was. It’s not sustainable anymore.

But I’ve found that I’m losing my enjoyment. I’m losing my attention span. I AM actually suffering from writer’s block. I’m back to where I was six years ago. And I don’t like it. I miss the rush of writing what I want. I miss falling in love with my characters. I miss writing for the pure fun of it.  But I also want to stay in this business. I don’t want to give up as so many in the indie community have done lately.

I recognize that this is a business. And in business you have to do what you have to do. I’m not complaining. I’m so blessed to have my dream job. I’m blessed by my readers and by the writing community.

I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about the difference between writing for love and writing for money. And I’ve come to the conclusion that you always have to do both. Unless you are only writing for yourself, you DO have to write something marketable. There are certain “formulas” that work better than others. I’m not saying that you can’t be unique or creative in your style or execution. But I’m learning in my own writing that there are some tried and true tropes and formulas that work, and there’s no shame in using them. However, you do need to like what you’re writing.

The truth is that deep down I’m a thriller writer. I love writing dark thrillers. I would write them exclusively if I could. But they don’t sell as well as my sweet romances do. Even so, I will periodically write one. They’re more for me than anything, but some ideas I can’t walk away from.

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However, since this is my business I can’t do that too often. Most of the time I have to stick with what sells. But I do always add some aspect of mystery in all of my romances.

As an artist, we are creative. We like to think outside of the box. And there is something so magical about the thought of doing our own thing. About writing what makes us happy. About writing something unique and different and entirely our own. But the reality is that everything has been done before.

Starving artists are a real thing, and I don’t want to be one.

So I’ll write to the market. I’ll write to the trend. I’ll write for my editor. I’ll write for my readers.

And I’ll find a way to love what I write.

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My first traditionally published book released today!!

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I like Kassidy Milton. There, I said it. She’s funny, beautiful—even though she doesn’t know it—and my favorite kind of weird. But I can’t tell if she’s into me or just trying to get close to me for a chance with my famous twin brother instead. I mean, it has to be me. I am the better-looking one.

 

But Kassidy has some demons, and she’s not good at letting people in. That happens when you’ve been hurt by someone close to you. I can relate. Trust is a funny thing; it’s hard to gain but easy to lose. I might just learn that the hard way.

 

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book includes a snarky heroine, a swoon-worthy hero, crazy best friends, your favorite music, and lots of feels.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Im-Not-Band-Amber-Garza-ebook/dp/B071SD9D79

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/im-not-in-the-band-amber-garza/1126437542?ean=9781640631137

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/im-not-in-the-band/id1239512538

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/i-m-not-in-the-band

Entangled: https://entangledpublishing.com/i-m-not-in-the-band.html

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35157301-i-m-not-in-the-band

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Why I gave up on a lifelong dream

My dream of becoming an author started as far back as when I was a little girl. I never gave up on my dream, even when I pursued “more realistic” career goals. I wrote all through my teen and young adult years. But it wasn’t until my daughter was around two that I finished my first full-length novel. At the time I was running a daycare in my home, and I would fantasize about one day writing full time. I would picture myself lying on the couch in my jammies writing furiously on my laptop. Or sitting in a coffee shop, sipping a beverage while hunched over my computer.  It seemed like the most amazing life ever, and I was desperate to make it mine.

And I did.

A year after publishing my first book I quit my job to write full time. In a lot of ways my life was like my daydreams. I did lie on the couch in my jammies writing. And I did go to coffee shops and write while sipping coffee. In some ways it was so much better than what I imagined. But in other ways it was so much worse.

I love writing, so that part has always been fulfilling to me. There is nothing better than hitting that sweet spot in a novel where you write without even thinking. Where you lose yourself in your story and reality ceases to exist. That has only happened to me while writing full time. I think because it happens after several hours of writing when I really hit my stride. At least that’s how it is for me.

But if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve struggled a lot with anxiety and depression over the past five years. Most of that stemmed from some weird health stuff I’ve experienced.  However, I can’t help but think that being alone with my own thoughts has exacerbated these issues.

I’m a social person. I love being around other people. If you’re close to me, you know I love to talk. Probably too much. I feed off of the energy of other people.  Being alone all day long isn’t ideal for me. Not just because I get lonely, but also because it’s dangerous for someone like me. Someone who lives in their imagination. When my imagination runs with a story and my characters take over an amazing story is the result. But when my imagination runs wild with ideas about my health the result is a full-blown panic attack. I’m embarrassed to admit, that panic attacks have become a way of life for me in the past five years. Rarely a day goes by without one and sometimes I have multiple.

At the end of last year,  I made some healthy changes. I joined a crossfit class, and I started to leave the house more often to work. And for awhile this was enough. Crossfit was a game changer for me. Not only was the social aspect amazing for me, but the exercise and change in my body was incredible. But it was only a bandaid. I still had panic attacks, just not as often. And I still felt lonely.

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On top of this, my income has been really all over the place. I’ve blogged about this before and many other indie authors have weighed in on the changing market, so I won’t go into it. But my husband and I have had some hard talks about my career and what I need to do. I signed with an agent and publisher last year, so exciting things are in the works. But that didn’t fix everything immediately, and I’ve known for awhile that I need to get another job.

To be honest, the idea of going back to work felt a little like admitting defeat. Five years ago when I quit my job I never planned to go back to work outside of the home. I had finally realized my dream, and I assumed it was what I would do for the rest of my life. My pride made it difficult to apply for another job.

I thought it would make me look like a failure.

Like I couldn’t hack it as an author.

But then I started to imagine leaving the house everyday and going to a job. And some of that panic that always sits in my chest loosened. The idea of getting out, of meeting people, of making friends – it excited me. And I realized that it wasn’t admitting defeat. In fact, my dream of securing a traditionally published book deal was just realized.

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I certainly haven’t been defeated. I’m not throwing in the towel. I’m in a great place in my writing career.

I’m just not in a great place mentally.

But I know I can be.

When I found out that my old job was hiring, I knew it was an answer to prayer. I loved my previous place of employment. And many of my friends still work there.

Two weeks ago I went back there. It’s been great! Mentally I’m in a much better place. Not one panic attack. 🙂 I’m struggling a bit with adjusting to my new work schedule. The hardest part is wearing real pants. lol! But I’ll get used to it.

And I’ll still be here slaving away over my computer. I’ll still be creating worlds and characters. I’ll just be a little healthier, happier, and not so lonely.

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UNSIGHTLY: A Modern-Day Retelling of Beauty and the Beast is available now!

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Today is the day! Release day for UNSIGHTLY! Only $2.99 or Free with Kindle Unlimited. Snag your copy today by clicking this LINK.

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Layla has grown up hearing the rumors of the beastly boy who lives in the forest on the edge of town, but she knows there is no such person. It’s nothing more than an urban legend.

On the night of her high school graduation she drives through the forest to get home from a party when her tire hits water on the road, sending her car spinning into the trees. She slams her head and is out cold.

Fortunately, a mysterious stranger shows up to help her.

Hours later she wakes up in an old abandoned house, her savior shrouded in darkness. Over the next couple of days, he nurses her back to health, but she never sees his face. He wears a mask and refuses to take if off. In the final minutes before her departure, curiosity gets the better of her and she yanks his mask off. Immediately, she is horrified. His face is deformed and unsightly.

Angry, he tells her that she’s made a terrible mistake, and now she can’t leave.

While held prisoner, her captor waffles between cold and kind. It’s in those kind moments that Layla feels drawn to him in a way she’s never been to anyone before. As days morph into weeks, the coldness melts away and the two grow closer. She realizes that the stories the town has heard about the beastly boy are false. He’s not the monster they’ve made him out to be.

But Layla knows better than anyone that their love will never survive in the outside world. Therefore, she has a choice to make. One that she fears will end badly either way.

This modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast reminds us that love is powerful, and it truly can conquer all.

Why I chose to write a retelling of Beauty and the Beast

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Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairytale. Partly because I’m such a romantic, and this story has all the feels. But mostly because I love the heart of the story. It’s one I can relate to. I know what it’s like to be the beast. To be someone who is uncomfortable in her own skin. Someone who feels like her outside doesn’t match her inside. Someone who is shunned, teased or misunderstood. Someone who is judged unfairly by how she looks.

In elementary school, boys would sometimes refer to me as a dog. In high school, I liked a boy who told me he would like me back if I didn’t have such a big nose and if I wasn’t so overweight. It was weird because when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see what others saw. I saw someone I was proud to be. I liked my nose, my body, my face. But the more people laughed, whispered and teased the more I didn’t. The more I despised it.

As an adult, I’ve learned to embrace who I am and how I look. But it took a long time. It wasn’t an easy road. As a society, we put a great emphasis on outward appearance. We judge and tease when someone looks a way that we don’t like or don’t understand. We’re also a culture that judges and teases things we’re fearful of. I think these two things go hand-in-hand, primarily with teenagers. It’s not that the child is fearful of someone who is deemed ugly or unpopular. It’s that they’re afraid if they don’t go along with the teasing they’ll be deemed ugly or unpopular.

Even adults are guilty of this – putting their need to be accepted and liked above the need to simply love one another. Our desire for comfort and acceptance often trumps our need to reach out to someone else. But Beauty and the Beast is a story of hope. It shows us that by simply loving someone they can be transformed. Love is a powerful thing. So is kindness.

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I’ve always wanted to write a retelling of this story, but it’s been done so many times I wasn’t sure I could add anything to it. Then one day I dreamt up Layla and Jasper, and I knew I had to write their story. At times it was reminiscent of Kyler and Jade in Break Free, and if you’re an avid reader of mine you know they’re my favorite characters ever. I had a blast writing this story. I felt everything the characters did and at times found myself crying or laughing along with them.

It’s a story of hope, of healing and of unconditional love. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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