When Everything You Thought You Knew Changes

Photo by Jon Moore on Unsplash

I didn’t plan for this

Hello World,

The last six months have been the most intense and difficult of my entire life. Yes, more difficult than when my three-month-old baby had to have skull reconstruction surgery. Yes, more difficult than when I had to have a spinal procedure the day after my youngest was born and I couldn’t see him because he was in the NICU. More difficult than learning that my husband’s porn addiction had resurfaced one year into our marriage. You get the idea.

What happened?

I guess I’ll go in chronological order for the sake of simplicity. I never finished ‘March Madness’ which was me attempting to write three books in the month of March. I almost finished the first draft of one, ‘Gaze at the Stars,’ a Sci-fi Rom-com based on my favorite movie ever. But then terrible things dominoed all over me and I had to stop. Everything. I stopped writing. I stopped reading (Gasp! I know… you know how much of a reader I am. It’s in my blood). The first step in my life falling completely apart was learning that we would not get our Residence Permits to remain in Greece… and that it was for literally no reason because we followed all of the requirements to… a… tee. So we started praying and trying to figure out what the next step was. As in, where were we going to move our very established family. Then, two weeks after we figured out that answer, Travis’s father—Allen Edward Spencer—got into a random and survivable skiing accident. Several days later, on March 6th, he died from a complications no one could have helped.

Photo by David Becker on Unsplash

I have never gone through such grief. I literally collapsed onto the floor and began sobbing uncontrollably. The problem was I was already at work, and the other woman who was there had never seen me so uncomposed and it scared her. My dad, or FIL if you want to be technical, was my biggest cheerleader. He didn’t understand my writing, but he helped however he could. He also told me—every single time he talked to me—that I am an amazing mother and wife and he loved me. On the many days I feel like a failure, I can still hear his voice encouraging me to keep going and keep trying.


So that was the inciting incident in my life. Lots of complicated and messing things came after that. We packed up our entire life in Greece in two days an left on flight with a promise our things would be shipped to the US. Then came probate. Probate is still happening. If there is any practical advice I can give you for the loved ones that will deal with your departure from this phase of life it is this: keep $10,000 in a bank account JUST for burial and service expenses (if you are ok with cremation… add $10,000 to $20,000 more if you want a plot and casket) and pay the $2,000 it costs to create a living trust. Because death is literally the worst, and dealing with probate on top of all the feels and details death brings in addition to dealing with governmental crap and lawyers doesn’t help. (Christine, I love you. You are the best probate lawyer ever. But you know what I mean.) Then we bought a house. Yes, that was insane. I never thought we would be able to buy a house, but the perfect place came on the market for under $100,000 and we totally went for it.

I’m grieving Greece and my FIL at the same time. It’s a lot. At some point I thought, forget it, I’m never writing again. I had a total identity crisis. I felt like a worthless lump. I had to go back and re-read my own book on godly confidence! I’m not even kidding.

But Rox Said

And on our cross-country journey from California to Pennsylvania (my new state of residence btw) we stopped to see our wonder friends in Kentucky and my friend Rox said, “When are you going to write about all this? I know you deal with things by writing about them.” I said I didn’t know and some vague comment about how I don’t feel like writing anymore and she just looked at me and said, “Well, whenever you write it, I want to read it.” That sentence keeps echoing in my mind. After a lot of prayer and just waiting on God to tell me what the next step in my life is (besides being a wife, mom, and lady that ministers to other ladies) I realize that I have to keep writing. I have so many stories left in my heart that are important to tell—not because I’m an awesome author—but because God wants me to tell them.

That To Which I Hold On

I’ve realized that my prayers have changed dramatically through all of this. I don’t pray for people to stay safe anymore. I just pray for God’s will, and if that means safe, if that means alive, then yes. That. But I’ve come to realize that whatever happens, literally whatever, that God has a plan. The best thing for me to do is lean on Him, knowing things will only progress to the point at which He wants them to progress. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still randomly weep in public (which is getting less annoying and embarrassing), but it means that after I’m done crying I remember that I’m still here because God wants me here. I don’t know what the plan is, but I can make it through because when I’m weak—and I’m so, so very weak—He is strong.

The Future

To everyone that wrote to me and/or reviewed ‘Plunge Into Darkness’, you are the best. I love you! Even if you didn’t like it, I appreciated every word of feedback. With that in mind, it is my pleasure (and my horror) to announce that I will be working on the second book of the series this November for NaNoWriMo. The working title is ‘The Knotted Woman,’ and it is going to be a bumpy ride. It is also part of my plan to get my hot co-writer/husband to finish going through ‘The Introvert Time Traveler’ so we can start writing ‘Were in Time,’ which I know is going to be amazing. He is obviously going through a lot, so if you remember, please pray for him. Before we met, his father was his best friend and losing him has been harder than hard.

For everyone that still reads these things, thank you. You are awesome.

Happy reading,

Kristin N. Spencer

Compassion Expert, Reader Extraordinare, Writer

Plunge Into Darkness – NIEA Finalist & Blog Tour

Hey everyone,

I have two exciting things to share. First, ‘Plunge Into Darkness’ was a Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards in the ‘Friendship’ Category. Yay!

Second, I wanted to let you know about the ‘Plunge Into Darkness’ blog tour. I’m so excited to read all the reviews, and in case you are too, here is the list of participating bloggers. Happy reading!

A Baker’s Perspective, June 5

Rebekah’s Quill, June 6

Blogging With Carol, June 7

Multifarious, June 8

Bigreadersite, June 8

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 9

Two Points of Interest, June 10

Reading is my Super Power, June 10 (Interview)

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 11

Janices book reviews, June 11

proud to be an autism mom, June 12

Texas Book-aholic, June 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 13

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 13

Carpe Diem, June 14

Pause for Tales, June 15

Margaret Kazmierczak, June 16

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 17

For The Love of Books, June 18

‘Plunge Into Darkness’ Cover Reveal!

I am so excited to share this with you! I was blessed to work with the talented Paraskevi Kourmpeti, who created the illustration of Ever for the cover. Her amazing illustration inspired this wrap around cover–a style that I hope to use for all the covers in this series.

I can’t wait for you to read this book. If you are interested in receiving an Advanced Reading Copy, there is still time. Email me at Kristin.n.spencer[at]gmail[dot]com ! And stay tuned for a video blog later in the week to explain why I wrote this book and to enter for a chance to win a free copy!

Happy reading!

Kristin

How Reading a Horrible Book Encouraged Me To Write

Indie authors will often do something called a review exchange. It means you both exchange your manuscripts and review them for each other. A lot of times this turns into a great experience that ends with a new writer friend. Other times though, it can be disastrous. The latest exchange I joined has been more of the latter, but that’s ok. Why though? I’ve gotten a two star review on a book that otherwise has great reviews. Also, I’ve had to read through a horrible book. I don’t mean that the content was poor, but that the writing was less than mediocre. I kept making myself read further, and everything in me that loves reading and writing revolted. No, stop reading this. You’re wasting part of your favorite reading month of the year on this book. Read something—anything else—because life is too short.

Photo by Markus Clemens on Unsplash

The Worst Part

You know what offended me the most? Is that the book could have been good. It was about an interesting topic. The story had some problems, but they also could have been fixed with just a bit more effort. The whole thing was what my reading and writing friends call ‘lazy writing’… it’s the sort of thing that happens when the writer doesn’t put any effort into their writing. Using the same word three times in one sentence because you couldn’t be bothered to use a thesaurus? Lazy. Jumping from present to past tense as if there isn’t a difference because using the correct tense sucks brain power? Lazy. Using a cliche every other paragraph? Lazy! Writing is an art. It takes a lot of effort and constant education to increase one’s skill. It isn’t easy. If you want to do something easy, don’t write. As my favorite writing quote says

“Easy reading is terribly hard writing.” -Richard Brinsley Sheridan

No thanks, I’m ok being rubbish at my job.

But don’t be discouraged. I am also a stubborn believer that anyone that wants to can learn to be a writer. Because of that, I emailed the author and asked if she would like me walk her through why I would give her book one star if I did review it. Her response: “I would appreciate if you didn’t review it.” No, “Sure, I would love to hear your constructive criticism!” It makes me sad.

A few years ago I would have made a list of examples of why her writing was so difficult to get through (including the use of cliches, many grammatical errors, and lack of creativity when choosing words)… but now I ask first because usually I received a reply like, “Thanks for your email, but my readers don’t seem to mind the things you pointed out, so I’m just going to keep writing like I write now.” Why would you be ok being bad at something you supposedly love? I don’t get it. Sure, it takes time to learn how to be a better writer, but isn’t the time investment worth it? Because money. These authors don’t care if their books are good or not because their books still sell, and contribute to the idea that self-published books can’t be held to the same standards of other books… forget literature.

Photo by Jonas Svidras on Unsplash

Over the summer a writerly friend read two of my books. The first one I ever wrote, and the most recent (book number five). She said, “You can definitely see a difference in the quality of writing between the two.” THAT! That is what I want. Thank you, friend. That was the best compliment to me you could have paid.

After reading that horrible book I’m encouraged. Now I know what I don’t want to do, and I realize more than ever how much I care about the written word. I want to get better and write amazing books. Maybe I won’t be able to convince anyone they should read my books anytime soon. But either I’m going to do it right, or I won’t do it at all. Let me close with this quote:

“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” -Samuel Johnson

Happy reading,

Kristin

A Note To The Weary NaNo Participant

I remember before I went through the organized insanity that was my first National Novel Writing Month (now you know why we abbreviate) I thought I wouldn’t finish all 50,000 words. In retrospect I realize how stupid that was because I’m very goal oriented, and I would have rather died than not finished. I have a very supportive husband that made sure when I needed to write, “Just 2,000 more words today…” that my children didn’t starve or my undone laundry pile reach Matterhorn like heights.

Don’t Quit Before You Start

If you’re expecting a pep talk along the lines of, “I have three kids, a full time job, and I still did it. What’s your excuse?” you are obviously new to my blog. Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here. Also, I’m not mean like that. What I will say is that you shouldn’t be afraid to start because you think you won’t finish. So, so many people ‘lose’ NaNoWriMo every year. But you know what? They have more words than when they started. That’s the whole point, to add more words to the words you already have. Maybe you have zero. Even one sentence should be considered a victory.

Go-on Girl. Do Your Thing. (Or Boy)

I mean, we all know that the first few pages are the hardest to write. “But I have to fit the very soul of my work into the first few lines or the reader will get bored and return my book!” I’m not opposed to a stunning opening line, ok? But give we readers some credit. Tell me a story from your heart. Find a good editor so that I don’t get lost in a swamp of mistakes (post-NaNo), avoid having the protagonist say the same three things over and again as inner dialogue (a current peeve of mine), and I promise I will make it all the way through your book.

You can do this!

Whether this is the first time you’ve ever written something or you are a weathered, tenured author challenging yourself to do something for the first time, welcome. Insanity will ensue. Yes. But the crazy people are all in this with you. Let’s make more words, worlds, and characters that will get stuck in someone else’s brain forever. Shall we?

Whether you are a planner, pantser, plantser, or don’t know what any of those are, what plan do you have to help you beat discouragement into a bloody stump this November? Comment below. If you don’t have a plan, may I invite you to participate in my #nanopropel2017 challenge? Check it out. It’s easy and helpful. I promise.

Without further ado… let the battle for your right to write begin!

Almost naively optimistic,

Kristin

Worldbuilding and Anticipation – NaNoWriMo 2017

We are T-Minus 12 days from the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2017 and this year my NaNo prep has been super intense. Why? I am a making a multiverse!

That’s right, my very own space themed wonderland complete with different beings, cultures, religion-run time travel, and unrequited love (I consider myself an expert on the latter). At first the task seemed daunting. “I’ll just work on it a little each day,” was my mantra as I attempted not to feel overwhelmed about being responsible for creating different solar systems, universes, and complex characters who needed both physiology and personality. I can confidently say I am finished with the backbone of the story. The 3D characters are mapped out. I still need to create a stunning cast of 2D characters to make my 3D beings shine even brighter… (or not shine… even darker? This parenthetical statement turned confusing) but I will not fret a thing. A steady viewing diet of Star Trek, Star Wars, The Orville (an amazing Sci-Fi in its own right… you MUST watch it) and a year of reading old and new Sci-Fi/Fantasy has me anticipating all the aliens I can create.

Worldbuilding What Exactly?

So… what exactly is the Space Fantasy baby I’m birthing into the world this November? It’s called ‘The Introvert Time Traveler’ and follows the life of Ezeit Traginus, an amphibious humanoid from the planet Krigrag in the Septum Majoris system who is chosen to be this century’s Traveler by the panfamous Tigd. (Did you notice the made up word? Yeah, that’s going to happen a lot in this book)

The problem is, Ez, as his friends (wait, does he have any?) call him is super introverted and also insecure. When his selfish ambition causes two unsteady worlds to go to war, again, he must discover a way to fix what he has done… without manipulating the rules of the Aanving, the Tigd book of laws and ordinances, or his ship’s companion Vitality, Jotie.

I’m so excited about this project. I can’t wait… as in, I want to write it now! But I still need to figure out a few things (like what is the fan convention called where Ez attends to meet fellow fans of his beloved graphic novel series turned Exo-net video sensation).

My kids are not cooperating with me writing this post… sigh. Sorry if it makes little sense. I don’t write well with screaming/yelling/insanely loud talking in the background (contrary to popular belief).

What projects are you looking forward to this fall?

Happy reading (writing, sewing, whatever),

Kristin

The Book We Thought We’d Never Finish

Today is launch day! It seems like I’ve had a lot of those lately, but this one is different for several reasons. Holy Sex Reboot: My Sexual Identity in Christ was like an illusive beast, hard to catch and even more difficult to keep pinned down. Besides the fact that it was our first co-authored book together as spouses (one of many we hope), and my first co-authored book ever, it was on a topic that exhausted our brains and in many ways broke our hearts. There is so much confusion and misinformation when it comes to ones sexual identity, and that is just as true in the Church of Jesus Christ. Every time we sat down to work on this book, we shredded more and more away. For me, that is always a painful process. Then there were the arguments… What should we add? Who was going to write that part? Did that addition make the difference that we wanted it to make? Add physical injuries and illness into an already complicated mix and you get… a really cool book?

The Book We Though We’d Never Finish

I am excited to say that this is one of the best books I’ve written, and that puts Travis way ahead of me since it’s his first book ever. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what readers are saying:

“As a single person I have often been frustrated with the Christian community’s lack of guidance on this subject. There is often a sex is taboo until you say ‘I do’ mentality. This book changes the discussion by pointing out how, even in my singleness, God has a plan for my sexuality.

The Spencer’s have done a wonderful job portraying the truth about God’s plan for sexuality in all walks of life. Their openness about their own journeys in purity are honest and insightful. I am so thankful to have a book on sex that I can recommend to all my friends; whether single or married. This book has been a blessing to my life and it will be a blessing to yours.” -Tabitha Burns, Hip Single Lady (24 years old), Serving in Full Time Ministry

“Travis and Kristin tackle a subject that many Christians shy away from, but they do so with much finesse and with valuable Biblical and personal insights. Holy Sex Reboot helps in understanding the divine principles of sexuality and in averting some of our misconceptions.” -Árpád Horváth Kávai, Pastor, Husband, & Father

This review is my favorite. It comes from a friend who volunteered to read it, even though she’s not the target audience:

“As a reader, I can give a chance to all kinds of books. If I like the subject matter, I read them. If I don’t, I ditch them. This particular book was something I would never imagine reading. Mostly for two reasons. First, it is written by Christians, and it’s addressed to Christians. Second, I didn’t know Christians would actually bring themselves to discuss the S-word in such detail. The Spencers have amazed me with their openness, honesty, courage and deep knowledge of the scriptures. They both seem to know what they’re doing, and they base all their advice on passages from the Bible. I believe Christians will be relieved to know that questions that have been torturing them regarding sex, can actually find answers in Holy Sex Reboot.

Now, the reason I think non-Christians will want to read it as well is very simple. Either single or married, people from all walks of life have been struggling with sexual frustration for years. Reading this book will not “convert” them to Christianity, but it will definitely help them regard sex as something more than a matter of the flesh. Especially married couples can revisit their behavior towards sex and proceed to have a healthier and more intimate sex life. The authors have been counseling couples, so it is certain that they know a thing or two on some of the factors why husbands and wives don’t always see eye to eye about certain things. I bet the topic of sex must come up very often during their sessions.

I was genuinely moved by the two authors’ confessions about their own mistakes and shortcomings and, for that, I salute them. It isn’t easy to expose yourself in such a way to help others. I think these two did a very good job.”

I hope you will find that this book bridges the gap for you between what ideas the Church accepts about sex and what the Bible actually says. If you have any questions we would love to hear from you.

Get your copy of Holy Sex Reboot: My Sexual Identity in Christ now for 33% off the normal price, a launch day special!

Happy Reading,

Kristin N. Spencer on behalf of me and T. E. Spencer

That Special Feeling

When you’re a writer, you always want to write well. Each time I start a new project (I’m a planner, don’t judge me), the first step is to think about why I want to write this particular work. One thing that sets my novels apart is the nature of the topics I choose. For some reason I always have a new controversial idea I want to express. The readers have noticed, and that makes me happy. But I don’t just want to write books that deal with controversial issues. I want to write amazing books that make people think, feel, and question their preconceived ideas. “Writing to Transverse the Bubble” is my author tag line. I write every book with this goal in mind, and sometimes I get the feeling I’ve done it, but the book still isn’t where I want it to be on a scale of one to amazing. Four-star reviews make me happy, but I’m not satisfied. I want to earn five-star reviews.

That Special Feeling

Lately I’ve had that special feeling, the one you get when you know you’ve made something unique and wonderful. Maybe it’s a quilt or a painting. Maybe you’ve helped someone do something they couldn’t do before. You know the feeling I’m talking about, right? It’s a rush of adrenaline coupled with satisfaction and calm at the same time. Though you’re sitting or standing still, your skin dithers and the back of your eyelids feel electric. You know that this is the beginning of something special. Something amazing.

Kerfuffle, my new novel, comes out on June 1st. The feedback I’ve received so far has been thrilling. I don’t know how else to describe it. You see, Kerfuffle is the book I wanted to write from the beginning. I love Newfangled and Flummoxed. They each hold a special place in my heart, and their plots and themes are important. But Kerfuffle is the book I’ve been waiting to write. I feel like that shows. I almost wrote Kerfuffle right after Newfangled but my husband convinced me that Flummoxed needed to happen. He said it would be too disjointed if I introduced Olive to junior high and jumped straight into high school for the next book. She needed some time for things to seem normal before another big transition. He was right. I am very happy with how Flummoxed turned out. But Kerfuffle… there’s just something about the story.

Some people will probably be annoyed by it (and I can’t say why without spoilers), but I really don’t care. I love it. A piece of my heart is in this book, and I hope you will give it a chance.

When was the last time you had that special feeling?

Happy reading,

Kristin

How to Survive a Failed Book Launch

Last week the second book in the Desires & Decisions series came out. I wish I could say I sold a bunch of copies and all the time and money invested were worth it, but the truth is, I only sold 6 eBook copies and two paperbacks of Flummoxed. That means that I made $8.26. I spent $468 on editing and $85 on advertising. So my total profit is -$544.74. I look at that number and it makes me sad. Where do I go from here?

 

How to Survive a Failed Book Launch – Write More

This morning, after doing the disappointing math, I thought, “What am I going to do now?” The answer came to mind pretty fast. “Keep writing… move to the next project.” Today is the second day of Camp NaNoWriMo, and the project I picked was to edit Kerfuffle, the third book in the Desires & Decisions series. It’s the book I have always had in mind when I started telling Olive’s story. Last May I sat in the amazing Regency Park in London, England and plotted the entire book in 15 minutes with a tiny notebook while my children played in the grass. Kids that grow up in Athens, Greece are impressed by grass. Almost a year later the book is so close to being ready to share with the world. Two more rounds of edits and I’ll be able to start planning yet another launch. So I sat down with my trusty laptop and started to edit. Because it’s already written, and why not? Right? Why not keep trying to succeed at what seems like an insane goal? That seems to be the theme of my life.

The Silver Lining of a Failed Book Launch

With all the time and energy that gets put into launches, it’s probably my least favorite part of the entire writing process. But then reviews start to come in, and you realize that maybe it was worth all the hard work and negative profits after all because another person actually read your book, and they got it! *insert cheering* All the plot points and character arcs came together and projected the meaning you intended to create! It’s a miracle.

Here is a review for Flummoxed that really encouraged me to keep writing, keep editing, even if I continue to fail at marketing:

“Once again Kristin Spencer has captured a beautiful snapshot of what it’s like growing up as a young girl and growing up in the Lord. I was so blessed reading Newfangled and was equally, if not more so, blessed in reading this second installment of the Desires & Decisions series, Flummoxed.

Even as an adult I found myself learning from Olive as she goes through the struggles and difficulties of life and dealing with issues of the heart. I was again blessed by the wisdom of Pappie, the encouragement of Aunt Barb, and the wonderful example of support and friendship provided by the Callis family and the Mashables. These characters have become my dear friends and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next.

I would highly recommend this book to all ages and stages of life. There is something here for everyone as it discusses trusting in the Lord and surrendering our hearts, hopes, and fears further to Him.”

They said the characters have become their friends. There isn’t anything more you can ask for as an author (besides for people to pay for your book so you can afford to write more books). I’m genuinely humbled.

So even though I have failed *again* to successfully launch another book (the launch of Newfangled was a total disaster), I won’t quit. I will keep writing and I will continue to fight to get my stories out there.

Happy reading,

Kristin

Kindle or Books Giveaway

Hey there,

Do you like free stuff? Well I’ve partnered up with other Christian authors through CelebrateLit to bring you an awesome giveaway. The first prize winner will get a Kindle Fire, and the runner up will win a free copy of 19 books! That’s a lot of awesome free books to ignore. (Psst, Flummoxed is one of the books on the giveaway list!)

Giveaway Details

Go here to enter, and remember that you can enter until April 8th.

Happy reading and may the force be with you.

-Kristin