Happy Friday, readers! I thought I'd throw in a personal post every now and then (not that my writing posts aren't *personal* per say) to give you more of a window into my life. If you're interested, that is. If you're not? Check back next week. I'll be as general as you'd like me to be. :D
With the release of my next book, THE NAMING OF COLTON BLACK, I've alluded to dark times and disorders. Yeah? I realized if I were to publish this book, I'd want to share this part of my life with you. Because while it was one of the darkest, hardest, dirtiest times of my life, it was one I wouldn't trade for anything. It lead to several things. It lead to a freer life; a happier wife/daughter/friend; and a story I'm proud of.
If anyone's suffered with (or is suffering with) an anxiety and / or OCD disorder, you know how disruptive and destructive it is to your life. For a long while, I thought my odd thought patterns and anxiety relief ways were normal. It was how I coped with stress; with life. But after getting laid off from my job in 2011 and panic attacks became a nightly routine, I realized I needed help.
On request of my doctor, I saw a therapist. Someone who I thought would help me get over these attacks and move on with my life. For those of you who've gone through therapy, you'll understand this. He uncovered. So. Much. More.
He discovered I had an anxiety disorder. That I had an OCD disorder. And that these things--which I passed off as odd quirks--were in fact imprisoning me; bullying me; and keeping me from living a freer life.
So we dove into an intensive 2 years of therapy. It included everything from exposure therapy (do what scares you over and over until your brain accepts it as normal); left brain / right brain therapy (to help calm my anxiety when it would spike to over 80%); and a side-screen method thought up by my brilliant therapist. I had ghosts in my life--things that would haunt me--and I fell prey to them. OCD, I learned, goes after the things you cherish and uses them against you.
For me? That was my marriage; my health; my relationships; and my appearance. (I'm still discovering new ones. Oh joy.) These were running themes we saw come up again and again. So we had to attack them. Head on. OCD loves lying to you. It takes fictionalized data and forces you to believe they're facts. It's so deceptive and yet so good at turning you to its side. A headache became a brain tumor in 30 seconds. Calls to my doctor would ensue. Trips to urgent care became frequent. Until I had to fight back. I had to go cold turkey and ignore the desire to do OCD's bidding. I had to accept that whatever was hurting me was OK. I had to cut off its life line, so to speak.
This lead to withdrawal like symptoms. Pain spiked in my body. Anxiety spiked in my body. My body was fighting against me. Yelling at me to just give into the OCD. But I refused. Because like my therapist kept telling me, the harder I fight back, the better life will get.
And life does get better. I'll share more about the after in Part II. (The after is so so good.) I'd love to share more about the process, too, if it's something you're interested in. I've got stories. Oh. I've got stories.
Those who know of my journey, will understand one word. Cheeseburger.
(Who wants to hear that one?)
Thanks for reading this much. I know everyone struggles with something--this is mine. If you've got a blog or novel or piece of art that explores your pain, your struggle, I'd love to read/experience it. We don't have to struggle alone.
Thinking back to when my stories first introduced themselves to me. Ever do that? Each has a unique beginning, a unique first meeting, so to speak. You know, when that character or scene flashes into your mind and you know right then and there, “I have to tell her story.” We all have those creative rumblings, don’t we? Those instances when we’re suddenly met by someone we’ve never known and yet — seem to have known forever?
That — that kind of inspiration that pierces through daily distractions and appears so intensely before you, you have no choice but to surrender to it — is undeniably one of the most beautiful things a writer can experience. No? It’s a powerful moment, that is.
The Missing Crimoire – my idea began as a short piece of fiction in a creative writing class back in college. Pepperdine, around 2002. It was one of my first writing classes, in fact. And all I remember was meeting Luke and Mark for the very first time. Writing their stories. Living their lives. Journeying their heros’ journeys. It wasn’t until the assignment was over, and I kept feeling pulled back into that story, that setting, did I realize Luke had a much bigger story to tell. And thus TMC evolved; the world expanded; and characters grew. This novel had a hold on me. Luke and Mark had a hold on me. I haven’t let go since.
The Naming of Colton Black – this story came to me at a spa. Lying on my back, cucumbers on my eyes. When my facial was over, I sat up. And saw them. Breslin and Colton Black. Brother and sister, together under a dark black sky. There was little to hear, little to see, but they were there, nonetheless. Waiting for me. As soon as I got to a journal, I scribbled down what I remembered. Many ideas come and go — many ideas come and linger — few come as powerfully as this one did and demand to stay. I knew right then and there this was my third book.
Untitled Dystopian Novel -- the most recent story presented itself to me at a family party. My husband, his cousin, and I were all talking about how we're the babies of our families, and that one day the babies should revolt against the first borns; because, well, they deserve it. We laughed about it; about how I should write a story about it. And then I stopped laughing. And began listening. I fiddled with the idea for a bit, and soon, came up with what I'm currently writing--a dystopian YA novel. The story has evolved a lot, but I remember how it began--at a family party; with lots of laughter; and a great idea.
Tell me how your ideas come to you--and how do you know if it's one worth listening to?
I knew when I read dystopian novels that things get ugly. Things have to get ugly. The Government has to inflict evil. People have to die. Viruses have to run rampant. Yada-yada-yada. The list goes on. So when I sat down to write my own dystopian beast, I had to decide something. Was I ready to write something so ugly?
More importantly, was I ready to make a statement about Things. Life. True, I never want to turn a book into something preachy. Not the place for it. But writing a dystopian novel means making a bit of a statement about the world around you. So I chose a theme. A theme I see running throughout our country. I won't tell you what it is--but I'll be interested to hear your thoughts when this manuscript is finished.
Which hopefully *crosses fingers and toes* is set to be published February 2017. *_*
I'm curious--if YOU were writing a dystopian novel, what would your theme be?
(A repost from my former wordpress blog.)
When I wrote The Naming of Colton Black, I knew right away that the character of Breslin would be based (loosely) on me. Her personality; her insecurities; her anxiety. All mine. However, her struggle to connect with her dad and his inability to show how much he loved her are the exact opposites of my relationship with my own dad. It was odd, writing so much of myself into Breslin but drawing on other experiences to create such tension between her and her dad.
True, no relationship is perfect. My dad and I both hate confrontation, so many of our resolutions have come through my mom. (Thanks, mom.) But we both love to laugh, write, encourage, pray, travel, spend quiet hours at home, stroll the streets of a busy city, reminisce, budget, listen, stay up late, sample Mexican food, maintain our privacy, hug, go to Disneyland, are highly sensitive people…and the list goes on. Much of who I am is because of the time and attention and love he gave me every. single. day. of my life.
The part that I pulled from then? The desperation to please the people I love. Including my dad. Breslin is desperate to please her dad. And she’ll do whatever it takes to do it–even put herself in danger and attempt something with little chance of success. But in a weird way, I know how she feels. No, my dad is never one to manipulate me into doing something for him. Ever. But I can’t help but want to please him. Isn’t that how we all are with someone? So desperate to make them proud of us. So desperate to do whatever it takes to gain their approval. Even put off discovering who we truly are apart from them.
It took me a long while to naturally separate from my parents. I’m attached to them. Like crazy. What they believed, I believed. What they liked, I liked. Maybe most importantly, what they didn’t like, I didn’t like. And so on. I respect them and their opinions beyond belief. But it finally dawned on me that it’s OK if I liked something different. Even something they didn’t like. It scared me, at first. Scared me into thinking that they would love me less, if I liked or thought something different from them. But of course, it wasn’t true. If anything, it helped reshape our relationship as adults. And that’s what I hope I conveyed in my story. Breslin needed to find herself a part from her dad. And once she did, she could happily reshape her relationship with him. In a healthy, loving, and independent way.
Are you ready for it? My next book that I’ll be publishing is called The Naming of Colton Black. It’s been a journey, writing this book. An emotional, often times painful, journey. But I’m so excited to share this piece of my heart with you. Here’s the back blurb for a sneak peek:
Seventeen-year-old Breslin Black grew up in the royal family; in a kingdom where a mystical Naming ceremony determines everyone’s destiny. Where every thirteen-year-old receives a definition of their name, one that sets the tone of their life to follow. For centuries, royals have received Namings that mean powerful; leader; protector. Until one. Princess Breslin. Her Naming’s results? Rattled her royal lineage and worse, fractured the once sweet relationship she had with her father the king.
For years, Breslin vowed to prove to him she’s more than her Naming. That he can trust her; love her. But nothing she did made any bit of difference.
Until her brother Colton is Named. Until he too receives mind-numbing results, sending the kingdom into a panic as a once unshakeable tradition begins to unravel. Her father, desperate to conserve order and peace, approaches Breslin for help. This is her chance. She agrees, promising to follow him blindly.
But as Breslin submits to her father’s plans, she discovers things about the Namings that have been overshadowed for centuries. Dark secrets. And if they’re not exposed, the future of the kingdom could crumble. Breslin’s loyalty is now put to the test. If she departs from her father’s plans she risks never healing their relationship again. But if Breslin ignores what she uncovers, she could be responsible for the kingdom’s demise.
Keep checking back for MORE reveals! (Oh, guys. I’m SO EXCITED for this!)
Guuuuys! I’ve been working on getting my next book ready to publish; and I’m feeling ALL THE FEELS! While The Missing Crimoire will always be my First Born, this next one is my heart.I wrote it when I was struggling with an anxiety and OCD disorder and seeing a therapist to help me through it. Time after time he told me to write my pain into this book. And so I did. And what came from it was magic. God used that darkest hour of my life to produce something I truly see as beautiful (more on all that later).
I can’t WAIT to share it with you.
Right now, I’m going through formatting (the devil) and hopefully will get a proof by next week. NEXT WEEK, PEOPLE. When it comes, I’ll do a little cover reveal for you all, since you’ve been SO wonderful with my first book :D
Until then, check back for a TITLE REVEAL on MONDAY! (If you’ve been reading my blog, I let slip what it was already. So shhhhhh if you already know *wink*.)
So it's no surprise I'm sure if I tell you I'm an introvert. Love me some good long down time. Lots of quiet space. Tons of no-large-groups-of-people. All Introverts, can I hear a huzzah?
Which means attending events like the LA Book Fest could be a bit overwhelming.
My way to get through it? A game plan. If I were to go, I needed a support system. Husband was free. Check. If I were to go, I needed a project. Photos for Instagram. Check. If I were to go, I needed a goal. Connect with SOMEONE.
So Husband and I arrive to throngs of people. I'm quick to wonder why we're here, but then I remember my check list, grip Husband's arm, and head off to the children's booths. Along the way, I stop at spots where we take quirky and bookish Instagram photos (many of which you'll be seeing this week!). At this point, I'm mastering my list like a pro. We saunter past booth after booth. I lust after authors behind tables with sharpies in hands (and made mental notes for next year. MY booth. With MY sharpie in hand. Boom. More on that later.) Finally, we near the end of the kid's section. When I spot an author I follow on Instagram. Husband suggests I connect.
We take a loop; me gathering my courage. Until we come across the booth again. And my list blares in front of me. CONNECT. So I did. And it was GREAT. The author was adorable and sweet. She signed my book. We bonded over our Instagram pages. I walked away with a new book and a new author to admire.
I had done it. Accomplished my check list. All without fainting in a bustling campus of book lovers. And guess what? I LOVED it. I raved about it the whole way home. So much so that I can't wait for next year. .
I'm glad I pushed myself. That Husband pushed me, really. My advice? Introverts, you can do this. Come with a game plan, and you'll rock it. If I can, you can. Maybe I'll see you there next year.
So, if you've been following me on social media, you might have noticed a change happening.
That's right. Welcome to the new and improved Robin Puelma. Well, *I'm* not new and improved. But my branding is. At least, I'm hoping it is. Trying to blend a personal account and an author's account and keep it all "on brand" became more and more impossible (How many bird pictures is too many?). So, I separated them (find my writing account here). I've updated my Twitter and have an author Facebook page too, dedicated to just writer-y shtuff. Awesome. Yes? Yes.
You've already been SO AWESOME, in liking my new photos and following my new account. You were the reason for the change, after all. All your likes and loves on my personal accounts made me dream big. Branch out. And explore the business side of things. (Hello, Excel)
So, I hope you enjoy where this is going. I've got more up my sleeve. One being this website. But shhhhh. That's still a secret.
For now, xxoo.
"If you liked this, you'll also like..."
We've all seen this on Amazon. We've all probably clicked on the next book/DVD/product too. Because it's easy and it's personalized. Am I right? My favorite are book recommendations. Especially since I'm not always able to peruse the latest bookstore. (Terrible, right?) So, I let Amazon do it for me.
I'm calling these recommendations book siblings.
And my book siblings?
Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.
Now. Don't get me wrong. I am by no way comparing my writing to Rowling or Riordan. But when comparing likenesses of books to my own, I find similarities for sure. Youthful boys, living in not so perfect situations, discover they've got a magical past. And future. Magical worlds interspersed with reality. Unique creatures. Spells of sorts. To name a few.
I wrote THE MISSING CRIMOIRE in college and was truly influenced by Harry Potter. I dreamed of creating my own series of magical books kids would adore to read. So I set out to write Luke's story. True, it's sprinkled with more similarities than I'd include today, but it's a tribute of sorts to my author hero. A nod to her genius.
So, what are your book's siblings? I'd love to hear!
Yesssss. New things are coming. What are they, you ask?
They're a seeeecret.
But not for too much longer! You'll start to see some revamping happening in the next couple of weeks. We're talking new looks; new features; new "branding." Interested? Keep checking back for updates. Or stay up-to-date with me on SnapChat (RobinPuelma), Twitter (@robinpuelma), and Instagram (/robinpuelma).
Oh. The fun is about to begin.