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You. Are. Enough.

Happy Friday!
 
Earlier this week, I told you guys about the battle I had to endure on my path to getting published, and how deeply writing affects me as I am creating the stories for you guys. It’s a super powerful read, and I got some amazing comments on it, like: 

“All I can say after this wonderful email….I am glad you never gave up…. I always wanted to write… but I do not think I could keep going, as you did, so maybe it really isn’t my passion. But I can tell you this—you books bring me to tears—I cheer when the ending comes and I root along the way for the characters…. You have THE GIFT – I am so glad you never gave up.” ~Ruth B.

 

See, here’s the thing. We are all special, but sometimes we have no idea how we affect people. We get so self-critical about how we are falling short, that we don’t realize that even though we aren’t perfect, even though we don’t get through our to-do list, even though we are a mess… the truth is… (as stated by my awesome cover designer, Kelli Ann Morgan, yesterday): 

 
Do what you can do, and that’s enough.
 
Just say that again:
 
Do what you can do, and that’s enough.
 
Breathe it in.
 
It takes courage to tap into that part of you that makes you special. It’s so much safer and easier to walk carefully within the lines, and never rock the boat. But guess what? We were born to rock the boat. In order to live, we MUST rock the boat. You are the only you in the world. You are the ONLY one who can bring that special you into the world. And the world needs the one-of-a-kind-ness that is YOU! 

Immortally Cursed came from me tapping into the side of me that isn’t quite proper, that doesn’t quite play by the rules, that rocks the boat. The book is gloriously authentic, and my sassy, irreverent, deeply empathetic self is woven into the pages, twisting around the words, hidden in the dialogue, so that the story comes to life for you. There is a sense of playfulness, of irreverence, of freedom in Immortally Cursed, and when you read it, that energy will leap off the page and into you, freeing that part of you what wants to be lighter, happier, and feeling better. 

 

When I wrote Immortally Cursed, I decided three things:

First:  Be unpredictable. 
 
I decided that at the end of every scene, I would figure out what logically should happen next, and then not write it. Instead, I would write something else, something unpredictable, something that would surprise me and the reader. Taking this approach made me dig more deeply into my creativity than I had ever done before. The result is a book that is rich with twists and turns, a story that is woven with creativity and excitement that transcends the pages. 
 
For example, I decided I wanted to address everyone’s obsession with staying younger, with living forever. What if the Fountain of Youth was real? Who would want to get their hands on it? Who would protect it? What chaos would it cause? And then…how do I twist that up? 
 
The result was the creation of the Goblet of Eternal Youth, a shapeshifting espresso machine with a personality and a soul. Her name is Mona, and she’s being guarded by Justine Bennett, who has taken an oath of celibacy as part of her duty to focus on protecting the Goblet. Throw in a handsome, no-carb pretzel mogul who must behead the Guardian and steal the Goblet in order to break a curse that will kill him and his twin in a week, and you have all the makings of romance, high-stakes, and delight. How do you choose between love and duty? How do you choose between the life if your twin and the woman you love? It’s tough choices, baby! And only love, courage, and a little bit of badassness can save the day! 
 
Second: Don’t follow the rules.
 
I decided that I want to break the conventions of the paranormal genre. I didn’t want this story to be vampires, werewolves, or anything that had rules. I wanted to create my own world, and give my readers a story that they couldn’t read anywhere else. 
 
For example, I needed a really fantastic villain. Who’s the most evil bad guy you can think of? Who would cause the most trouble if he got his hands on the source of immortality? There’s only one answer, baby, and that’s the dude that rules hell. 
 
But that was boring. Uncreative. I needed to twist it up, and break the rules when it came to all things hellfire and brimstome…which resulted in the guy who might be my most favorite character I’ve ever written:
 
Meet Satan, a cocky, arrogant, vulnerable, unapologetic, and hilarious hottie who has spent the last two hundred years in pursuit of the one woman who has won his cute little heart: Justine’s dead mom, Iris, who is currently trapped in Purgatory, awaiting her eternal fate. Satan is courting Iris with great diligence and creativity (and let’s be honest, she’s having a little trouble resisting his adorable charms). He knows that if he steals the Goblet of Eternal Youth from her daughter, that will be the end of his chances with his true love. But he’s hardwired to want that Goblet. But he loves Iris. But the Goblet. But Iris… Ack! It’s enough to make even the best leader of hell explode into golden bubbles (which might actually happen…or it might not…I cannot reveal my secrets). He’s a villain that you will fall madly in love with, root for, laugh with, and, of course, root against, because he’s Satan, right? Fortunately, he melts when hit with water, so keeping a few squirt guns around is really helpful when he gets too damned tempting…or dangerous…or delicious…
 
My first ARC reviews have started to roll in, and Kristi O (thank you for reviewing it, Kristi!) voiced her own love for Satan, saying: 
 
“Satan is the funniest. I laughed out loud at his antics, and how little respect he is given. 🔫💦This was the first paranormal story I have read by this author. It will not be the last. It truly just lightened my mood, and I truly recommend it!” 
 
Three: It’s about love.

Love is the basis of what makes us human. That’s why romance novels make up more than half of all books sold. Because we, as humans, are hardwired for love. As we all know, love is complicated, it’s exhilarating, and there is nothing better than a happy ending. 

 

When I wrote Immortally Cursed, it was important to me to base the story on love, the real, deep love where the characters are flawed, a little crazy, and outside-the-box, and yet, the find that one who loves them, exactly as they are. 
 
Like Justine. She has to kill anyone who tries to take the Goblet. She has taken a celibacy oath for her job. She is a career woman, one hundred percent.
 
Derek accepts that. He knows she might have to kill him, and he’s on board. That’s who she is, and he loves her because that’s what makes her unique. He loves her for who she is, and doesn’t want to change her.  
 
And Derek. He is committed to breaking the curse and saving his twin’s life. He must steal the Goblet and behead Justine in order to do so.
 
She accepts that about him. She understands his loyalty to his family. She admires his determination. She doesn’t take offense that he might have to behead her (well, tryto behead her, because we all know she’s way more badass than a billionaire pretzel mogul, right?). 
 
Justine and Derek are both way outside the “proper” norms of society. They are flawed. They have baggage. They don’t get it all right all the time (or ever). And yet, they still deserve love, the kind of deep, romantic, forever love that we all yearn for. 
 
Justine and Derek’s story is a reminder to all of us that we deserve love, and we don’t have to be any different than we are to deserve it. It reminds us that there are happy endings out there, and their journey of falling in loves gives us the chance to live it with them, losing ourselves in the magic of love, the love that we were all born to embrace.
 
Remember that: love makes us whole. In books. In life. In our hearts. Put it out there into the world, and give yourself the gift.
 
So, there you go. Rules to write by, and rules to live your life by:

  1. Whatever you can do, that’s enough.
  2. Be unpredictable.
  3. Don’t follow the rules.
  4. It’s about love. 

 I’ll be sharing some more cool insider tips about Immortally Cursed and the Release Week free bonus book in the next couple days, so make sure to keep an eye on your email! 
 
SAB/Stephanie  
 
PS If you enjoyed this post or have an ARC review ready for Immortally Cursed, comment below and let me know! I’d love to feature your comments in my next newsletter that’s coming out in a few days!  

 

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