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what is home?

these four walls are one of the many places and spaces we live between. but the more i live, the more i see, the more i do, the more i begin to realize that earth is my home. the road is my home. these vermont mountains are my home. 

because what is home, really? home for me is the people you get to share this startlingly beautiful life with. home is food around a table with my family. it's long drives with my husband. it's hours of writing and tea with my sister.

maybe that's one of the most beautiful things about writing: it's a spirit journey. the stories are waiting for you everywhere, not just in one place. wherever i find myself, the words find me. they chase my gypsy soul, hunting me down and filling me until i have no choice but to write them out.

this is a little bit of a "life update" post for me, which is rare, but i find myself packing my bags yet again to hit the road. at the same time, i'm on the verge of launching book 2 in The Blood Race trilogy, Worlds Beneath, for pre-order. if you're subscribed to my emails, i'll be hitting you up as soon as it's available. (needless to say i'm very excited!)

it's absolutely insane and amazing to think that Tyler and I have been in our new space for almost one year - and within that time I've published The Blood Race and completed two other books. in the process, i've met so many amazing new friends, bloggers, and readers. the support you guys have given me throughout all of this is something i am eternally grateful for, and i honestly cannot wait to share this next part of the journey with you, in the form of Worlds Beneath. you guys mean the world to me.

it's been a long, long, long winter here in vermont. i've loved almost every minute of it, and it's given me ample opportunity to write and GET STUFF DONE. but now i'm looking forward to unplugging, strapping the surfboard to the roof, and washing my mind in the ocean. i'm ready to go looking for stories, and to call the road home again.

speaking of home, shout out to PhotoWall for the super rad canvas print of the thunderbirds featured in the images above. they reached out to me and asked if I would like a canvas print. i was so impressed by the quality of their canvases, and also how downright nice they were to work with. their customer service is a+ and shopping with them also supports the Swedish aid organisation Vi Agroforestry; they plant 5,000 trees in the area around Lake Victoria, eastern Africa every year, which helps to combat poverty and preserve the environment. 

they have a large gallery of imagery to chose from, (not to mention you can upload your own photos too). our living room's Air Force/industrial theme looks so much more complete. if you're thinking about dressing up your space with a canvas, hit up PhotoWall and use my discount code TheGoodnessRevoltCampaign2018 at the checkout for 20% off. oh and also keep in mind that they ship worldwide, and there's free shipping for the US, UK and EU countries. 

it's your turn, guys...
where do you call home??? are you a restless traveler, or a homebody? what's one unique thing about your hometown???



wandering: paris

though there's about a foot of fluffy white powder on the ground, warmer days and whispers of spring seem to be on everyone's tongues. and as i imagine the milder days ahead, my mind is drawn back to paris; those long, warm days in that old romantic city.

paris was like the morning. waking up from a long sleep in a strange but soft bed, throwing open the window to find a city bubbling to life beneath the window sill and lazy white curtains. it was bonjours and brisk walks in search of cafes, where Tyler and I would guzzle good coffee and indulge in still-warm pastries and quiche.

it was a dream in a very real sense; losing my breath as i stood below the eiffel tower for the first time in my life. staring up at that great and historical beacon that had long since hung framed all over my bedroom walls. it was relaxing on benches in the sunlight, while locals sunbathed and children ran, laughing across the green.

paris was the louvre, and getting sore feet, not to mention lost. it was long bus rides and bubble tea and getting up early to go drink in the sights. it was slowing to wonderstruck stops along the Champs-Élysées, snapping pictures and savoring the view. it was late dinners and sparking water and crepes that were good but not as good as my grandmother's own.

paris was strolling the seine. it was picnicking on paninis and fries with an eiffel tower view. it was buying baguettes and pastries and of course a little perfume to bring home to my sister. it was celebrating 4 months of being married to my favorite blonde, blue-eyed, fire-fighting Airman. 4 of the happiest months of my life.

paris was everything i had imagined. so much more.

i've been ACHING to get this post up; paris seems to always be bubbling in the back of my mind. I'm already scheming up a trip back. i figured with how busy things are getting over here with Worlds Beneath's release prep, we were long overdo for a good dose of wanderlust. ;) YOUR TURN: where was your last great adventure?? and if you could get a free plane ticket bound for ANYWHERE... where would it be to??? hit me up in the comments!! i'd love to hear about it.


ASPIRE: indies taking the world by storm / Keira

"i remember when i first started instagram," Keira recalls with a grin, "i had this big plan about what photos I would post but i ended up saving hardly any of them. I deleted a lot of early work. but in retrospect, and as I develop more in my photography, i've come to realize that there's a lot to be said of including your early work - and letting people see that part of the journey. That's actually what inspires people, when you make yourself attainable."

this was one of the first topics to open mine and Keira's wholesome, organic (and happily long) skype call. if there was one thing i took away from our conversation, it would be that 'authenticity' is Keira's anthem. she believes in it - firmly. and it carries over into every project she tackles.

"there’s a difference between having all of yourself out there on social media verses some of yourself. there is that balance between your brand and your life, and that's okay. for me I know there’s things i don’t talk about online. but when i do decide to post something, i want it to represent who i am, and what i want to bring to the world," Keira elaborated, then summed it up: "authenticity is a big thing for me."

Keira is pure, organic energy; long hair, a genuine smile, and sparkling eyes that reflect her fast-paced, creative, and seeking mind. Keira is not a small talker - our conversation was a 'grab-your-snorkel-gear-and-lets-go' kind; Keira's idea of good conversation can be found in topics covering art, genuine ways of living, spirituality, and music. this is actually one of the catalysts behind her new (and beautiful) blog Close to Nothing.

"i like to use my blog to inspire people to have conversations…" Keria begins thoughtfully. "That's kind of a passion of mine. I like talking about creativity and theology and changing culture. That’s what i want to use my blog for."

blended with these rich and complex discussions, Keira shares her passion projects: photography, writing, and music.

"you're such a multi-talented person, and that's honestly amazing," i say, the gears in my head turning as i wonder where to start. "i'm always so inspired by the beautiful snapshots you share on instagram, so let's start there. when did you get inspired to dive into photography? was there a defining ah-hah moment?"

Keira considers this for a moment and then smiles, "i went to a concert in 2015. I remember deciding to photograph this concert - which actually went against my introverted nature a bit. i typically like being in the background, not up front, and with photography, there's a constant need to be in the thick of fast-paced events. i remember being instantaneously inspire:. the lights, the visuals, the blending of the music - photography combines all of those beautiful visual and technical aspects. i remember feeling really elated when i was driving home, pondering all the possibilities of what i could do - and being really inspired to combine music and photography."

if you know Keira from her blog or social media, you probably know that this young woman is a bit of a soundtrack guru. not going to lie here - i've discovered some seriously good scores thanks to her. the point is, Keira is passionate about blending art forms: music and visual art. writing and visuals - writing and music. why not? why box ourselves into a certain genre or one particular label?

this is what i love about Keria (ok, scratch that, one of the many things) when i ask what genre she writes, she crinkles her nose and says:

"I don’t like labels/genres… I don’t necessarily define my books by genres."

I laugh "i can so relate to that."

"right? There’s always that comparison with published authors, and trying to fit within perimeters that already exist. it's important to realize that their draft was just as messy as mine was, but i will never see their drafts and I’m always hard on my work because I have this really really high standard for fiction. I compare the first draft to a finished draft - and that's not an accurate way to look at your writing."

and on that topic, Keira says that while she writes fiction (she did nano this november) and finds that photographs often inspire her fiction, she considers herself to be more of a nonfiction writer. "my non fiction writing is often inspired by reading other non fiction or seeing something online. I think my photography is a bit divided from my writing. but there's an overlap with my instagram: i take a picture and often something i've been thinking about will just fit for a caption. I can see my writing and photography intersecting more in the future."

"if someone asked you why you’re passionate about photography, how would you answer that question?"

"at the core it really boils down to that i love aesthetics and all things visual. ever since i was a kid, i would go get pictures off the internet and use an old microsoft program to put bible verses on photos. I love making things look really pretty!" she laughs.

"But honestly, that is so worthy. that may not sound like a huge reason, but if you think about anything we see out there that sparks inspiration, a lot of times it's stunning, thought-provoking, and beautiful photos. the world needs beauty. that's why so many people love stuff like pinterest i think."

"exactly. and it's an art - a method of storytelling. there's that old adage, 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' it's easy to glaze over that, but honestly, a photograph can tell a story."

speaking of pinterest, here's a glimpse at one of Keira's boards from her latest WIP, The Water is Wide:

"as an indie artist, you have a really beautiful and authentic way of presenting your work on social media. can you name some ways that people be more authentic when presenting themselves online? and what are some pitfalls/mistakes people make when it comes to presenting themselves on social?"

"i think it’s really important to show your journey rather than always back-tracking and editing yourself - cleaning up. let people see that you had a journey as well. and trust people when they say it’s good!"

keira and i both laughed and discussed this one a bit. we chatted about how it's often so hard to accept people's compliments. oftentimes we'll say 'thank you' but in our heads we're thinking 'they're just saying that to be nice - it's not that good' and we let our own self-judgement dull the kind - and genuine - words of others.

"in my head i’m doubting what they’re saying," Keira recalls, "if someone says it’s good it’s good - you need to just accept it and move on. that’s the problem. that's the biggest struggle: you can’t see your work is authentic and others can."

"while we're talking about how we view our own artwork as indies, in one of your latest blog posts, you talk about not shaming beginner work - what’s some advice you would give to indie artists on that topic?"

"i would say that it’s really hard to just give somebody advice and think that’s going to make it better. i remember when i hated my work and i would read books about not hating it." Keira laughs in retrospect, but the words run deep. "if you keep going you’ll realize your work has taught you things, and oftentimes, disliking your own work or performance is a season you’ll grow through and out of. the important thing is to just keep making art and don't worry about it. comparing yourself to other people's work is not helpful at all unless you’re looking for help with a technical aspect to aid you in your own work."

"right, like tutorials and asking for advice or feedback from someone you respect."

Keira nods. "I think that it’s not something that comes overnight. i think back to when i hated my work it was like a ditch i couldn't get out of but i eventually crawled out of it. the solution is not one-size-fits-all, but it does go away - you have to keep pushing through it. focus on creating more art instead of comparing it. if you don’t like it go make something else! don’t give yourself time to sit in that self doubt. and i know it’s hard to not go back and check. It gives you that feeling of validation but it can also raise all sorts of questions/doubt. it's a balance you have to find. it's okay to be glad someone liked something you made, but your validation doesn't hinge on that."

"okay, let's bring this home. Keira, what are some of the things you like about photography the best - and what are some things it’s taught you?"

"oh man, that's a broad one, let's see," she taps her chin thoughtfully, "i like the visuals, i always have, and i think the technical aspect is really appealing to me because you get to manipulate light and shadow. there’s so many things you can do with lights and reflections. it’s kind of a solitary profession… i like just locking myself in my bedroom and throwing stuff on my bed and listening to music and taking photos for hours."

Keira smiles, and then wraps it all up poignantly:

"I have learned to value films, and other artist's photography even more - the time and effort they put in. it’s taught me to view the world as a beautiful place and to appreciate things and landscapes. to recognize the good and beautiful things and appreciate them more. i love this quote by mary oliver that really sums it up for me: "maybe our world will grow kinder eventually. maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us."

i find it hard not to be angry

i find it hard not to be angry at the world. i find it really, really hard. i'm not promoting anger as a good thing, because it isn't always. but this is going to be a little bit of a different kind of post, in which i am going to be vulnerable to you guys.

i live a hermit life, i'll proudly admit it. i stay in my house and write a lot, and think a lot and spend a lot of time with my family. i don't use social media except to be able to connect with readers, but i barely ever log on. i barely use my phone and i almost never carry it. i live almost too present sometimes. i usually have no idea what day or time it is, and i usually don't care. i feel most comfortable when i'm completely disconnected from literally everything except my maker, letting the words flow through my fingertips like water. or when i'm out in the silent, rolling surf with my husband, straddling my board and squinting out at the horizon where blue and blue meet; sinking and rising with the valleys and mountains of water. that's home. that's real.

i think i enjoy the simple, raw, and real because i was made for it, and because there is something very connected and divine within it. but i think i also appreciate it because i have seen the disastrous alternative; a life spent in the screen of a phone or computer, comparing your face, your food, your flat-lays, and your photography skills to the people you follow. 

you spend fifteen flipping minutes trying to find a filter for the picture of your coffee, and your friend is across from you doing the same thing. you're not even talking to each other. and you thought your beach vacation was great until you held it up against someone you follow's photos from a bermuda resort. your whole life turns into this strange facade of trying to make yourself into something that you aren't and comparing yourself to others. leveraging your happiness from an app.

i know because i've been there. so i'm not pointing fingers except at me. maybe i'm just talking to myself, i don't know. i just know that i've grown weary of this world and i feel like a foreigner when i'm around most other people. i feel like this world is feeding us something bad, and way too many of us are swallowing it. i'm spitting it out.

but there's another side to the story. and that's the side of the many, many girls and young women who are pressured and pushed and labeled. the word that springs to mind is 'basic'. i cannot tell you how much i absolutely despise this word with every fiber of my being. if i could empty a few rounds on it, light it on fire, and then dance on the ashes, i would do so gladly. 

yes, there are many things about mainstream culture that frustrate and anger me. but what angers me even more is that we are judging ourselves more harshly and brutally than ever before. we call girls 'basic'. it's a common, overused term; look it up on urban dictionary (if you dare darken those frightening doors) and you'll get the gist. if a young woman wears uggs, or drinks a pumpkin spice latte, she is basic. there is no substance to her. she's just a robotic piece of mainstream culture. if a girl watches a typical tv show, or listens to a pop band, or goes to starbucks, she is "basic".

i have starbucks friends. friends who wear certain boots and carry certain bags. i'm friends with girls who listen to one direction and pop bands. and guess what??? there is nothing basic about them. every single one of them have special, unique personalities, dreams, and struggles. every single one of them deals with demons and fears. every single one of them are exploding with potential, talents, and gifts that are unique to them and only them.

they are not basic. they are not just a statistic. no one is.

maybe some people would have said that the woman who wept on Jesus' feet was 'basic' trash, but Jesus saw value in her. maybe some people would have looked at the gentile woman and called her a 'dog' but Jesus saw value in her. maybe some people would have even looked at the disciples - a bunch of young, unschooled fishermen - and said they were pretty darn mainstream, doing exactly what EVERYONE else was doing, maybe they would have said there was really nothing special about those guys. but Jesus saw a revolution inside of them.

no one. no one. no one. is basic. 

on the contrary, we are complex. we are intricate. our hearts beat 115,200 times, our lungs draw 23,040 breaths, and about 700 different muscles move us forward, every single day. we're made up of 37.2 trillion cells, and for reference, that's more cells than there are stars in the milky way galaxy, there's about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in our bodies, and when we wake each morning, our brain instantly produces enough electricity to power a small light bulb.

and while my resentment for social media (and anything social tbh) runs deep, i don't really care how much time you spend on instagram, how many lattes you drink, or what color hair, or skin you have. i don't care what music you listen to. i don't care if you eat at chipotle and even take a photo while doing so. there is nothing basic about you.

mom says it's just because i'm a rebel, but i get so angry at the world. because it wants to make easily labeled machines out of people. i get so angry, especially around this time of year (valentines) because there's so much pushing and shoving and shouting from the world about what young women should look, sound, and be like. there's so much crap about how we should wear makeup and dress sexy and look a certain way. i resent that. i resent that so much. all this goes for guys too, i know guys get a ton of pressure about different things. but as a woman, i can only speak from my own experience.

i believe in a God who created us beautiful already. with my acne, and whether i'm dressed up, or wearing a baggy shirt and yoga pants. and guess what? i could guzzle pumpkin spice lattes and listen to a top 100s channel allll daaaay loooong and I STILL WOULDN'T BE BASIC. i believe in a God who created us intricately and uniquely, and who packed us full of potential - who made us for greatness.

i was talking to my mom the other day about how angry and frustrated i get, and how i sometimes want to just shut of my phone and laptop and never turn them back on, and just spend 100% of my time reading Martin Luther sermons, practicing karate, and eating organic food. but my mom was like "no, you were given your voice for a reason. this is what you need to be writing."

so here i am, being level with you. i was going to post something about finishing book 3, but then i was like "nah, this is more important." i usually don't talk a lot about the meaning behind things that i create, because i like the things i create to speak for themselves, as they were intended to. but this time, i felt an ache in my heart that brought me to this post. 

on valentines, in collaboration with BURNING YOUTH, i'll be releasing a slam poem i wrote about all of this, accompanied by a brilliant musical piece by my beautiful, talented sister Abbiee, composer/musician/songwriter. if you're unfamiliar with BY, hit it up here, and sign up for email so posts will hit your inbox. i'm excited about this one.

i love you guys so so so much. if you take nothing else away from this kind of messy post, i hope the fact that you are freaking special and unique sticks in your head and haunts you in your sleep forever more.

*EDIT* the slam poem is now up, and you can watch it here