don't miss it all

this morning after karate, i made blueberry scones. i was standing at my kitchen sink looking out the window, and the sky was a bright, robin's egg blue splashed in a smattering of puffy white clouds. golden sunlight came down in shafts, igniting large, sugary snowflakes that swirled and bent with the ebbing breeze. i was spellbound standing there at that window. 

i couldn't help but think, standing there with the sun on my face, "oh man, what matters more than this? this is what everything is about." 

now. the present.
that moment. 

snow and sunshine and the warmth of the kitchen, my goodness...we miss so many of the most beautiful moments, always reaching for the big and the grand...mmm, but we overlook the gentle rhythm of life, the very breath in our lungs. it reminds me of this quote:

"men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars...and they pass by themselves without wondering."

so often we miss so much. we lose the things that truly make up life in the rush of the rapids, in the constant rush. we pass by ourselves without wonder. we overlook others without wonder. we don't get giddy over snow anymore. we don't close our eyes to breathe deep the scent of fresh baked scones. we don't smile simply because the sun is on our face.

often we live for the promotion, or the whirlwind trip, or the next big project. yet, in doing this we miss so much - we miss life. so many beautiful things slip through our fingers. yes, the "big life events" can be wonder-filled...but honestly, when we slow down and breathe and listen...when we unplug and take a walk in the woods, or tip our faces to the night's sky to watch the stars, or simply embrace someone we love, we are reminded that these - oh these things are the stuff of life. These are the big things. these are the wonders of the world.

we are wonders of the world.

sometimes i find myself just standing in my driveway, spinning and staring up at the sky, barely able to keep my eyes open for the brightness of it all; the glory of this big spinning ball of ocean and earth and sky. 

we have starry nights here. we have quiet, sun-soaked afternoons here. we have the patter of rain on the roof. the crunch of freshly fallen snow under warm, woolly boots. we have forests of towering trees and screeching hawks and coyotes and owls that fill the nights with song. ohhh, glory we have wind too - wind that runs her soft fingers through our hair and kisses both our cheeks like she hasn't seen us in ages. we have mountains! and we have rolling fog and gusty blue-gray oceans. we have poetry and we have campfires. we have music. we have have blankets and pillow forts. we have fireflies. summer skies. bike rides and playground swings. 

we have so much wonder all around us. we have so much wonder inside of us.

oh, please, don't miss it. don't miss it all. you've probably heard that expression "don't miss the forest for the trees" before but you know what? don't miss the trees for the forest either. don't go so fast and look so far ahead all the time that you don't come close and touch that rough red bark, or breathe deep that fresh cedar wood or notice the soft green moss or see the tiny spider's webs laced with glistening dew. 

and don't miss the wonder that is inside of you either. don't miss it. 

stay stoked!

5 MLK quotes that will BLOW your creative mind

ever since i can remember, rev, dr. martin luther king, jr has been a role model in my life. i remember spending summers by the pool reading his autobiography (which i desperately need to reread), and watching his numerous speeches on youube. (fun fact, the famous and ever-resounding 'i have a dream' speech was the first video i ever watched on youtube. *whispers to my younger self* ya done good kid)

in my house, growing up, mlk quotes were often printed out and stuck to the fridge. they were quoted and discussed over dinner. i was, and still am, endlessly inspired by his vibrant, eloquent words, and the rivers of truth that seemed to flow effortlessly through his rich, poetic speeches.

dr king, for me, is an icon of what it means to take a stand and to make a difference; to be the change you wish to see in the world.

throughout my career as a writer, and also a co-founder of a non-profit student organization, mlk inspired the methods to my madness. i don't think there's an area of our lives that we can't apply his wise and truth-drenched words to - in fact, the other day i reread a few of my favorite quotes by king, and began to realize how well his words could apply to even my creative projects.

these five stood out to me particularly:

1. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

this is so important to consider as a creative writer, or a creative in general: what does your craft bring to the table?? what is it giving to the world? your book, your music, that thing you make - what is it leaving your audience with?

don't just be another empty voice in an already (very) empty, echoing world; GIVE. do something for the hungry, lonely, hurting, searching, dreaming souls who are looking for HOPE. be that hope. you have fire in your hands: you can use it to destroy or to create light and warmth in someone's life. i made a video about this very topic not long ago: examine where your story, your art, your project takes your audience...what does it do for them? what does it give them?

2. "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice."

this one tags on perfectly to the one above it: what is your story or project communicating?

ultimately, no matter what you believe about yourself and the world, i think we can all agree that we need more justice and peace and love in the world. if your story or project is not fighting for these...then what is it fighting for? is it leaving your readers with hope and a resounding sense of truth? is it raising important questions and encouraging them to ask some of their own? or is it just...more noise?

find truth in your characters - weave hope into your stories: be a voice for something bigger, something hope-filled.

3. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

if you wait for the elements to be right, to see the big picture, to understand everything first? well, it's very unlikely that you'll ever more forward.

there's a blind faith to creativity - it's a trust fall. you have to believe that there's something inside you bigger than yourself - something that needs to come out, something that needs to be created, even if you don't know exactly how or when that's going to happen.

when i start a book, i do NOT know where it will take me, and i often have no idea where it will end...but to me, that's actually the beauty of it. that's part of the journey! take that first step you can see, trust that it will support you. you don't need to wait until you see the whole staircase.

4. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

small disappointments and set backs will happen - and they will be nothing on the scale of what dr. king is so bravely and eloquently addressing here.

as a creative, (and a living, breathing being in general) you will sometimes experience setbacks and hardships. setbacks can happen. flops can occur. someone can give you a one-star review and tell you that your baby is garbage. but guess what? literally none of these are justifiable reasons for you to EVER give up.

dr. king is a shining example of this, and this strong leader in the civil rights movement was dealing with infinitely larger and more intense setbacks than most of us will ever experience. so let his story inspire you...when you feel like you've been beaten down, bravely chose to stand back up. when your voice has been trod upon, boldly declare your message louder. which leads us to my favorite:

5. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

keep moving forward. keep moving forward. KEEP MOVING FORWARD. missed a deadline? keep moving forward. feel like the book is rubbish? keep moving forward. bad review? keep moving forward. someone verbally beats you down? keep moving forward. someone thinks you can't? scream from the MOUNTAINTOPS THAT YOU CAN, AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

remember this on the dark days. remember it on the good days too. never give up on yourself or the beautiful thing you feel passionate about creating. that passion is there for a reason. you are supported. you are here for such a big, beautiful purpose, and that desire inside of you is there for an equally sacred reason. so don't stop...keep moving forward, even if you're taking baby steps. every step is significant, every step matters.

i love this quote so much that i made a special printable of it, just for you. PRINT THAT OUT AND TAPE IT TO YOUR BATHROOM MIRROR. or to your fridge. or some place where you'll actually see it on the daily. (i'm going to put mine by my bench press me thinks) 

right click and open in a new tab to print!! :)

okay, your turn: in honor of upcoming MLK jr day, what's your favorite of his quotes?? who is someone that you look up to and garner inspiration from? i would love to chat down in the comments. have a wonderful and restful weekend, rad soul!

stay stoked!

The Blood Race Book 3...Title Reveal! (+ pinterest board & spotify playlist)

when i sit back and think about it, it feels so incredibly surreal to be beginning the process of publishing the last book in The Blood Race trilogy. it's happened so fast, and yet i've grown so much since the launch of book one in every way.

but you didn't come here to listen to me get gushy and sentimental. ;) no, today i want to share something much cooler than my nostalgia. today i want to finally, finally share the title of the final book, so we can quit calling it "book 3" bleh. not riveting in the least.

before i get into that though, how about we talk about titling books?

i've been asked many times about how and when i title books, and my answer is a messy and unsystematic one: it's different every single time. sometimes i will think of the title and from the title the entire story will seem to appear, much like the way Charles Dicken's character's pop out of nowhere once he hits upon the right name in the film The Man Who Invented Christmas. while i don't actively dream up titles in search of stories, it's not uncommon for titles to just pop into my head, chased by an immediate entourage of ideas for what the story could be about.

for The Blood Race, the title came after much thought, for the second book, Worlds Beneath, the title was lodged in my mind before the story itself was, and now I find that book 3 has taken a similar path to book 1. i gave a lot of thought to the title of this book as i read through it several times, absorbing the story and trying my best to see it through new eyes - which is no easy task when you are the author and you wrote it and all you do is think about it and read it over and over and edit and edit and ifbkjfbekrjg :')

BUT, standing on the other side of the process now, sitting here at my desk watching dawn climb the sky as i type (and sip good, strong coffee), i can't help but feel like the title suits it just right. it's like that feeling when you meet someone and they say that their name is "john" or "alexandria" and you are momentarily struck by the perfection of it; the fact that theirs is just the sort of face one would want to call "john" or "alexandria." (or is that just me??)

ahhh, that's how a book title should feel! so creative writers, i urge you to find a name that feels good to you. it doesn't need to be "trendy" it just needs to embody what you feel the story is about. name your kiddo after what has lived in your heart through the process of writing it.

so, all that said, let's not digress any longer... ladies and gents, i give you (or soon will, in tasty e-book, paperback, and hardcover form):


i completely blame my brilliant sister for getting me into making pinterest boards for my books. below you'll find a collection of images packed with the vibe of Resurgence, curated by yours truly whilst writing the book.


reeeally pumped to reveal this one! *rubs hands together* this is the music that i listened to while writing the book, songs that reminded me of the book, and soundtrack pieces that swept me away into the world i was writing. (not to mention some of my favorite songs can be found on this playlist. js.)


in Resurgence, you'll be getting a brand new POV from a brand new character. COMPLETELY TOP SECRET THOUGH THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING. but below is a small excerpt from this new character's POV in Resurgence. ;)

eeeeee! it's so exciting to FINALLY be sharing a little of the fruits of my labors on Resurgence. I hope you enjoy these fun little extras! (And, at long last, finally being able to call the final book in the trilogy by it's rightful name!)

i don't have a release date for Resurgence yet, but the best way to stay update about that is via email, which you can join on my website. i also update facebook, instagram, and twitter with all things book related.

aaand, if you haven't had a chance to read The Blood Race or Worlds Beneath yet, you can snag them here and here. you can also grab the first 9 chapters of book one here.

Okay, creative soul - tell me what you think of the title! Have you read the first two books in the series? ALSO, what have YOU been working on this week? I would love to hear all about your creative project down in the comments below. :)

stay stoked!

fueling creativity: 7 healthy habits to adopt in this shiny new year

the beginning of a new year is a time of reflection for a lot of people, and even though i tend not to keep track of time, i think it can be really beautiful and important to slow down and observe how far you've come.

this past year was one that brought with it many valuable lessons and opportunities to explore. i tried news things, wrote a couple books, visited new places, and established new habits. out of all those things, i think one of the most valuable things i learned in the past year, was something about myself as a creative.

if you're a writer or a creative of any kind, you might be familiar with the feeling of being so closely connected to your work that you become one with it; its success becomes your success, and its downfalls become your downfalls. this can sound harmless at first, but from first hand experience i know that it can not only negatively affect your craft, but it can negatively affect your day to day life - at least it did for me.

last year, i began to notice a pattern: when i didn't feel in the mood to write, and on days when writing just wasn't working out for me, i was generally unhappy with everything else i did, and my day felt completely unfulfilled. my modus operandi became: if i can write today, then i'll be happy.

but my biggest revelation came when i began to notice that the days when i actually wrote best, were days when i was happy first - not the days when i waited for writing to "make me" happy. thus, the moto of my subconscious has changed: if i'm happy, then i can write well.

becoming aware of this simple, yet deeply profound truth has begun to completely transform how i look at my craft and how i fuel myself creatively. my mission has shifted from writing in order to sustain happiness, to sustaining happiness in order to write.

now of course this can raise all sorts of questions about how and where we find lasting happiness, but i'm not going to get into that now, i'll leave it up to your own seeking and soul searching. i also wrote two books that touch on that. but for now, i do want to talk about a few of the habits i've adopted that have helped enormously in fueling my flame and keeping me excited about getting out of bed in the morning - things that stoke my internal happiness and in turn, help me write epic stories.

so here we go:

ONE | start your morning motivated

as soon as you get out of bed, you have to set the tone of your day. we always have a choice here...we can chose to roll over and grab our phones and lay there scrolling through instagram, taking stock of other people's lives...or we can take a moment to observe our own. start with DEEP breaths. maybe even tape a positive mantra to your bathroom mirror as a reminder while you check out that beautiful face. if you don't have a morning routine, that's okay, just set aside five or ten minutes to listen to something positive and inspiring. I recommend something like this or this.  

TWO | get moving

this tags on perfectly to #1 - if you don't have an exercise or workout routine of some kind, i would highly recommend establishing one - ESPECIALLY if you're a creative. there's a ton of research being done on how daily exercise can positively affect your brain and enhance your creativity. it's also a huge combatant of anxiety and depression, so if you struggle with either of those things, grab hold of this and use it to create healing. lately i've been starting my day with anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of yoga, and some mornings i like to go for a brisk jog to get my heart rate up and my blood flowing. both have helped me to shed any anxious energy and head into my day feeling fresh. 

THREE | cut back the caffeine

speaking of anxiety, think about cutting out that second (or third, in my case, heh) cup of coffee. caffeine can act like an anxiety amplifier. it also reduces blood flow to the brain. a few years ago i dropped caffeine altogether, completely purging from my "coffee addiction" for a few months and my family said I was like a different person. but you don't necessarily need to drop your lovely morning coffee ritual altogether (can you tell i love mine??) i've found that keeping it back to a cup...okay, sometimes two, has helped me tremendously, leaving me healthier, and much happier.   

FOUR | eat more raw food

and by raw, i'm obviously talking vegetables here - definitely not recommending that you chow down on some raw hamburger meat. raw fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that are often killed when cooked, so when you can, don't cook them. this time of year (for those of us in ye ol' cold north) it's easiest to find frozen fruit and add it to smoothies. eating right is what's going to fuel your body and ultimately your mind. if you don't know where to start, going raw, and raw & simple are great books.

FIVE | declutter and simplify

this is one i'm constantly working on. keeping a clean space just makes me feel more creative. i like my office to be more than just a work space. when i walk in, i want to feel like i just entered the creative zone. my walls are vibrant colors, my desk is (relatively) organized, and fairly decluttered. i feel a lot more at ease in a clean, tidy space than i do in a messy one. so use a simple tidy-up to create a peaceful space for yourself to unwind and create cool stuff in. don't overwhelm yourself though, start with one area at a time, and work your way up from there. you'll have a fresh space before you know it.

SIX | turn your phone off 

or leave it in a drawer somewhere. but in either case, detach from the device. you'll be blown away by how creative your mind can get when you're not glancing down at every vibration and new message, or getting distracted on Instagram. i actually made a video about how i was able to write a 130k word novel by ditching my phone.  

SEVEN | carve out time to write and/or work on your creative project

again, this tags on really well to #6... find the meaningless things that are sucking up your time and eliminate those. often we spend far more time than we're willing to admit on social media, or watching tv. let's ditch those things and turn them into valuable, useful time for our books or creative projects instead. you'll be amazed by how much time you end up with. if, even after eliminating as many of these distractions as possible, you still feel like you don't have enough time to be creative, maybe think about waking up early in the morning ( i did to write this very blog post you're reading. ;)) here's a great video about how valuable it can be to set an earlier alarm.

okay, rad soul, there you have it: seven little (big) things that have helped me a lot over the past year - things that i'm definitely still working on and getting better at, but hey, that's why i'm carrying them straight into this bright new year. i hope they add a little light to your day and maybe even boost that creative mind of yours.

do you have a morning routine of any kind? what motivates you the most? what would you add to this list? how about we keep this motivating conversation going down in the comments - i would love to hear what you'd add to this list (and maybe even implement them into my daily routine...)

stay stoked!