A Meditation On (Not Really) Failing

We’ve reached the end of July (wait, didn’t we just start this YEAR?) and of course, that means the end of Camp NaNo. As such, I have some thoughts and decided to share them. As I was thinking about this year’s Camp NaNo, I realized others might have similar experiences, which means I might have something to say that they need to hear.

I’ve done both Camp Nano and the original November event many times over the last four years. I have succeeded every time, even when the day job kept me busy or insomnia came calling. No matter what, I’ve always hit and surpassed the 50k mark and often gotten very workable drafts out of it.

Camp winners

NaNo Winners

Until now.

This year, I skipped Camp NaNo in April. I knew better. I was still very much in recovery (as discussed here before) and the thought of writing was still painful. Besides, I was going to a con, which would cost me a few days. But when July came around, I had an outline for a book ready. I had just completed a draft of a short story. I had friends who were going to do it with me and we would encouraging each other through it. It was a good plan and I thought I was ready.


Then July kicked my ass for a number of reasons. I’m not the only one that happened to, just among my friends. I’m coming out from under the things that got to me, but of course, it’s well past too late for Camp.

For the first time, I failed at NaNo.


I could beat myself up about this, or swear that I’ll do better next time. I could allow this to add to my anxiety and mental pain level. But that wouldn’t be healthy. Worse, it would be dramatically unfair to myself.

So instead, I’m picking what I can take forward out of the wreckage that was July. I’m letting this “failure” help me grow as both a person and a writer.

See, I tried. I really did. But when life happens to you, there isn’t an option to say “This isn’t a good time. Can you come back later?” So I let myself let it go, rather than obsess about what I wasn’t doing and how I was going to fail.

I often say to others that they didn’t fail if they have more words than they did before, and I decided to apply that to myself. I have more words than before. I also took some time to reflect, to think about what I need to be working on. I also continued building a major project I’ve been working on for a month or two now.

PUA grab

And now, thinking about not successfully completing NaNo, I’m taking a moment to recognize that I was productive for more of the month than I realized at the time. More than that, I feel freer than I ever have in my writing life thanks to this failure.

I didn’t write my novel in 30 days and the world didn’t end. I’m still me. My friends still like me, even admire me in some cases. My cat is still cute. I still have a story to tell. It didn’t evaporate.


This may sound elementary to some, but for me, it’s a big deal. I think, in the back of my mind, I really believed that it would be the end of something at least if I didn’t hit my goals and exceed them. It got to the point of being unhealthy. I felt guilty doing anything other than writing. I’d get home from the day job and feel like I couldn’t even take a few minutes to unwind. I had to make the most of every minute that wasn’t day job or sleeping so I could write more words, all the words. All those crazy word totals you guys saw a couple years ago? That’s how I did it. I fed everything in my life into the writing bonfire.

Wow. Writing it out like that, it’s actually a miracle I didn’t burn out sooner than I did. That was so massively unhealthy. I feel a bit stupid for thinking that was okay.

So now I’m trying again, but differently. I only let myself write for an hour, two tops. I might go further if I get on real roll, but not just so I can have higher word count totals. And I’m allowed to do other things before writing. I just have a time I have to stop and turn to writing by.


I’ve also pulled back my daily writing goal. When things were at their most obsessive, I officially had a goal of 2000 words per day. Every day that I was writing a draft. Even when I’d been at work all day. And that was just the start. By the end, anything less than 4k was worthy of calling myself a slacker. *shaking my head at myself*

Now, the goal is 500 words. Yes, it’ll take me 5 months or more to write the first draft, but that’s okay. And it may be a better draft than if I pushed harder, wrote more in a day. Even if it isn’t, this feels comfortable. This feels like success. Because I don’t have to push myself. I’m coming to the keyboard willingly, guilt-free. I’m writing my 500 words and then either stopping or continuing, with either choice being okay.

The best part? I feel better about everything in my life right now. Writing. Day job. Me. And I’m sleeping better.

Do I really need any further indicators that I made the right choice, that I learned the right lesson? That it wasn’t really a failure at all?

So I hope you too will learn a little something from this. It’s okay to not do as well as you’d hoped or expected. It’s okay to run into difficulties and make choices. Most of all, it’s okay to scale back if you find yourself in an unhealthy place on any level. Be that kind to yourself. I hope you will. I wish for that with all my heart.

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Recovery Is Not a Straight Line

It’s been a while since I posted here. I keep meaning to, then finding I don’t know what to say or I forget what I wanted to say. Actually, I find myself struggling for words on a number of fronts. Meaningful words, anyway. 
My recovery is still on-going, obviously. Right now, it’s not going well.

Somewhere along the way, I think I got it in my head that I would get better at a certain rate and would stay better. Clearly I was delusional when I thought that, because it’s been anything but.

This isn’t to say I don’t have good days. I do. Some of them I even almost feel whole again. For a brief moment, I feel like the last two years never happened and I’m my old self. I miss her.

But then there are other days, ones where I can hardly think straight, where I jump at everything. Days where I question so many things I know I should trust. Worse, ones where I feel like being whole and mentally healthy again is an out of reach dream.

I hate those days. Like serious hate. But I also feel powerless against them. My therapist has pointed out that grief figured deeply in the breakdown and that grieving isn’t a straightforward process, despite how we talk about the stages of grief. But I’m exhausted, and worn out by all of this. The days where I run into a setback make it worse. So does feeling like a failure, which I’m dealing with right now.

I’m managing the day job all right, but everything else is still a mess. I have a book outlined and I’m supposed to be doing Camp NaNo this month, but the words and focus aren’t there. I’m mostly playing games, wishing I could sleep through the night. I don’t even have the focus to read most days.

These things were getting better, but at the start of the month, they all fell apart on me. I may have tried to do too much at once. I’m not sure. I only know I’m bewildered by the rapid descent back into semi functional unhappiness. I don’t like living like this and I wonder if I can ever be okay again.

I wish I had something positive to put here. I mean, I’m still working on building a couple stories/worlds, one of them a lot (The Pick Up Artist). But I’m not feeling terribly hopeful right now about my being able to actually write it at any point in the future. It’s a shame, really, because I like what I have so far of Pick Up Artist, and those I’ve told about it are excited. The heart is willing but the brain says fuck you.

Thanks, brain, really helpful response.

I’m still trying though. Trying to cope. Trying to ride out the rougher days. Trying to make the most of the good days without running myself aground. Most of all, trying not to withdraw from everything again. It’s hard to be here on the blog a lot of the time, but you can catch me on Twitter most days.

I’m still here, guys. Not giving up. Just quiet right now as I try to sort myself out.

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Depression… by Julie Elizabeth Hill #TalkFear #MentalHealthAwareness

I shared a bit about my experiences with depression and fear. Would love for you guys to go check it out. While you’re there, read some of the other posts in the #TalkFear series. Some very touching pieces there, many of which touched me on a deep, personal level.

kljkUntitledHi. My name is Julie Elizabeth Hill, Liz to most of the people who know me. I’m here to talk about fear. Mostly about mine. When Louise first mentioned doing this, I was very interested. It wasn’t until later that I realized how hard it was going to be to talk about this. But here I am, doing it anyway.

I’ve suffered from depression since I was fairly young, and it’s been with me most of the time since it started. It lives in balance with a few other things, but depression is the big, scary force in my life.


I can’t say that I’ve ever made peace with it, but I learned how to mostly function with it. At least as long as it didn’t get bad. That’s happened before. I’ve had some really bad patches over the years. Those are hard and terrifying. And every time one happens…

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Cover Reveal: Scars Run Deep by Helen Boswell

You guys might remember my good friend Helen, who is a tremendous writer and human being. I’ve talked about her books here before, especially her Mythology trilogy, which is tremendous. Today, I’m here to share with you the cover of her newest book, Scars Run Deep. And I assure you, it’s gorgeous. But first, a little info on Scars Run Deep.


Scars Run Deep by Helen Boswell
Publication date: September 22nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

Good things generally don’t happen to me.
And if they do, it’s not long before something comes around and bites me in the ass. Ten-fold.

Jase Moretti has been running from a tragedy in his past for almost his entire life. Now at twenty-three years old, he finally has everything going for him – the promise of an exciting career and an engagement ring in his pocket ready to propose to the girl of his dreams. But when his path crosses with Elle Garcia’s during one reckless night in Vegas, he’s forced to revisit his past and the tragedy that he was responsible for. Jase has the rare opportunity to right the wrongs in his life, but in order to do it, he has to help Elle, the girl he’s hated for thirteen years.

A chance meeting.
A chance for redemption.
A chance for his scars to heal.

But Jase’s scars run deeper than he thinks, and he isn’t the only one with old wounds. As he learns more about Elle, he discovers he has to make a choice. Give up his perfect life or keep living the perfect lie?
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22912435-scars-run-deep?ac=1

And here is that delicious cover:

Scars Run Deep FOR WEB

Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. Originally from upstate New York, Helen spent much of her early adult life tromping around in Buffalo, NYC, Toronto, and Las Vegas, those cities now serving as inspiration for the dark and gritty urban backdrops of her stories. An author of both urban fantasy and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all.

Helen dedicates her time to raising her family of two boys, teaching college students, and of course, writing.

Author links:

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Cover Reveal: Chameleon by K.T. Hanna

KT Hanna is a friend of mine from Twitter. She’s a lovely person and I am delighted to be able to share the cover of her forthcoming novel with you today!

Chameleon (The Domino Project #1) is a YA futuristic science fiction story. It’s set in the wasteland of earth after a meteor shower devastates landmasses, makes seas rise, introduces the psionic gene into the human race, damages the atmosphere, and gives the gift of an alien parasite to the world.

The goodreads blurb is as follows:

After Sai’s newly awoken psionic power accidentally destroys her apartment complex, she’s thrown into an intensive training program. The only grades are pass or die.

Surviving means proving her continued existence isn’t a mistake–a task her new mentor, Bastian, takes personally. Her abilities place her in the GNW Enforcer division, which partners her with Domino 12, who is eerily human for an alien-parasite and psionic hybrid. When her assassination duties are revealed, Sai understands the real reason for her training.

On a mission to dispatch a dangerous Exiled scientist, she uncovers truths she never thought possible. Sai is unsure who to trust as her next mission might be her last, and a double agent seems to be manipulating both sides.


Without further ado – here is the cover, by the amazingly talented S.P. McConnell.

CHAMELEON Domino Project Front with Text 2

Isn’t it wonderful?

It’s available for preorder for a special price of $2.99 from Amazon.


About the Author

KT Hanna has a love for words so extreme, a single word can spark entire worlds. Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically out to kill you.

When she’s not writing, she freelance edits for Chimera Editing, interns for a NYC Agency, and chases her daughter, husband, corgi, and cat. No, she doesn’t sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, and beef jerky.

Note: Still searching for her Tardis

To celebrate the cover reveal, we’re giving away 2 x $10 Amazon e-gift cards (open to anyone who can receive and use an Amazon e-card). Just click on as many options as you like in the Rafflecopter form and enter!


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And The Story Flows On

I keep thinking of writing something here, but I never quite figure out what to say. That said, it’s been a while and I know some of you aren’t also on Twitter, where I’ve been more active. It’s time to update here, lest some people worry.

To start with. I’m doing well. Better than I’ve been in a while. While I have the occasional bad days, and some things I know I need to stay away from because they’re problematic for me, on the whole, life is good. I remind myself regularly that I’ve come a long way, especially given it’s only been about 6 months since the breakdown. I’m not always good at patience, but I’m learning.

You guys continue to be a big part of my recovery. Those on Twitter, those whose blogs I follow and who have commented on mine. You guys are awesome. I feel very lucky to be part of such a great community. Thank you, guys.

As for writing, that too is coming back. Slowly but surely in some ways, and a good kind of run over by a train in others. I went from not working on much to re-imagining my whole Necromantic trilogy, starting with book 1, Where The Ether Flows. That was good and fun, and I had high hopes for the rewrite. I still do.

But then another story idea popped into my head. Followed by another, and another. I am now juggling 5 story ideas, including the rewrite. That’s the train I mentioned running me over. I’m learning to slide from one to the other as the ideas are flowing. So far, it’s working. Each is growing at its own pace but definitely growing and I’m excited about them all.

The one that will probably get written first is a prequel to the Mirrors of Bershan trilogy. No, it’s not the one I mentioned a long while back, the one about Ganson, Brinds, and Ivanne. This one is about Ki and Lydia, their history together. It wasn’t something I’d planned to write, but a friend recently read the trilogy and one of her comments was that she loved them and wanted to read their story. Then another person said the same thing. The next thing I knew, my brain was putting together story and a structure for this. I don’t have a name for it yet, but I’m over halfway through outlining it already. Ki has a lot to say, which is no surprise to me.

The others are still in the early stages and there’s not a lot I want to say about them at this point. One’s going to involve an anti-hero who steals magic. One involves a stolen princess. One was inspired by a song, Modred’s Lullaby by Heather Dale. It’s a fantastic song with a rich story of its own. Oh, and one with the working title of The Death God.

There are a couple others that are drifting around, but those are the majors that currently haunt me in a big way.

It’s nice to have stories flowing again. I haven’t started drafting anything yet, but that’s okay. This is a big step toward that. I’ll get there in time. I’m refusing to pressure myself in anyway about this, or to rush things. I’m staying in the moment with my writing and remembering that progress is good, no matter how large or small, and that it’s not a race. There are no real deadlines except those I make, so I’m refusing to make myself crazy. Time is on my side.

Things are definitely looking up in my life, both personal and writing.

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Music’s Box: “Memories” by Beau Barnett

This is an absolutely wonderful story by my good friend Beau Barnett. He’s a brilliant writer. You should go Read it. I am not responsible for any crying you may do. 😉

Team Hellions

The next installment in the Music’s Box project is a tear jerker. Then again, if there is one writer I know that can evoke emotion better than any, it’s Beau Barnett. I’ve known Beau for a few years, he’s contributed stories to many a blog project, including my previous one. His ability to capture a moment – what’s felt within it, the sounds, the sights, how everything changes – is his strongest suit. He can write a damn good love story that puts Nicholas Sparks to shame and he does it every time. This particular story is a dual narrative from the main characters, Mark and Rachel’s, perspectives. Their story began a couple of years ago with “Make a Wish”. Among friends, this is the story that gave birth to the phrase “skyward at the sky.”

The song Beau chose is “Memories” by Eisley, a beautiful testament to marriage and…

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