Embracing Author and Publisher

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Why I Blog...

How do you perceive bloggers? The form was once revered as the new upcoming lifestyle and has now been disregarded to a cash grab or place to whine. Ultimately the difference in perspective changed when the blogging field got so saturated.

When everyone tries to talk, it is hard to be heard.

I've gone back and forth on blogging for the last decade. I started a "mommy blog" when my daughter was born, which changed into a faith-based blog while I was recovering from depression. I began a writing blog when I finally decided to make publishing a priority. Now I am an author and a publisher thinking about the blogging world once again.

I find value in blogging, especially as a writer, because it is my medium of choice. Some people are great speakers, while others are great personalities to be on TV. I am much more comfortable sitting behind my computer letting my thoughts flow into words. Writing is my wheelhouse so blogging is my stage of choice.

There's more to it though. By writing and sharing my work through a blog I am able to become a better writer. Like any muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. Writing is no different. The more I practice writing, the more articulate I become. The more I set myself up a discipline around my craft the more consistent I can be.

One of the hardest parts of writing is finding a voice. The word and formatting choices mean a lot. By writing for an audience, I am able to define who I am.

I tend to ramble. That is my personality if I am honest. I love long conversations and ideas that make me think. Stream of consciousness is a highly regarded writing style in books like "Catcher in the Rye" and "Ulysses." Even Austen uses the literary device in "Pride and Prejudice." I am learning to embrace this style and not run from it.

For better or worse, we live in a world where everyone wants information fast. Reading is such a bother for some. That makes me sad. I love reading. I may have too many words so that the populous won't read my work all, but I don't want that to change who I am. I am learning to grow and try new things, but it doesn't mean giving up what matters to me.

I, Amanda McCusker, am a rambling writer. I accept this about myself. Though I try to practice all kinds of writing techniques, my mind is a run on sentence and this is where the pen flows.

I also blog because it is a way to reach readers. That's you! I write books and love when people read them. I have one published and two different stories warring in my head to come next. Being able to share emotions and stories is why I write and why I became an author.

I love to share about writing and life. This blog is like a peek behind the curtain of my mind. If you don't like it stop reading, but it won't stop me from writing. It is too important.

I like this space because I can share long form stories and experiences. I like social media too and finally have a presence there, but this is where I can spew. I share personal moments (probably too many), how I put together stories to publish (a developing process), and my struggles with anxiety creating my message for complete health (mind, body and emotions).

I have a vision of creating a conversation. I talk a lot. I love it when you talk back! Social Media is an easier platform for this, but this long form space is important too.

So there you have it. I blog for four main reasons:

  1. To practice and become a better writer
  2. To gain confidence in my craft and find a voice
  3. To reach out to readers
  4. To share a piece of myself and my process with the world
I don't want to live in a vacuum. I want to share the light that is in my heart. I blog because we are all connected on this beautiful planet. When we embrace our story and share it we are stronger and than it is alone. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Don't Take Yourself So Seriously

I've been dealing with some heavy emotions this month. I've been giving myself a lot of time for self-care. Now I'm beginning to move forward again. As as stumbled, I realized that I am being way to serious. There is no reason to be so hard on myself.

Emotional health is important, but so is having fun. My mantra is work hard and feel good. I haven't been doing so great with either.

Finally I got tired of my work becoming a chore. I was so over being stressed everytime I tried to write. This wasn't normal! At least not my normal.

I've been paying so close attention to my emotions that I forgot how to relax. I got to serious. What I needed was to let go of the somber and remember to laugh. Let go of the weight and remember why I love what I do.

I write because it is my way to share emotions and find connection. Whether it's a novel, a website article or a social media post, I love word crafting and trying to make sense of our crazy world. It is both what drives me and what calms me down to see a different perspective.

That is too important to me to lose. It is my own attitude that needs to change, so I am putting that into action. Don't take yourself so seriously. Relax and you will see the way become clear.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Roller Coaster Emotions

It is halfway through the first month of 2020 and it has already been a roller coaster of a ride.

When the new year hit, I was ready to take off running. However, the reality is that my pace didn't magically change when those digits clicked over. I have to accept that it is still winter, I am still planning and great transformation doesn't happen overnight.

I wasn't moving fast, but I was moving. I felt like I was making headway into what I want to become as a publisher.

Then my family got a slap in the face. My father-in-law was sick. Not in the way that he has been sick for the last twenty plus years with a lack of motor skills due to an ancient episode of cardiac arrest. No this time he was really sick and it wasn't the flu like they originally thought.

Suddenly the business side of me shut down. None of it seemed to matter. All I could think about was making sure my husband, his mom and siblings were able to go to Boston to say goodbye. Then all I could do was sit at home a wait while our world changed around me.

Death is a big transformer. Things were going to change, but in what way?

That is still being decided in many ways. But for me, the experience helped to me understand that I am strong and I have a presence even when I am not physically in a location.

I could not go to Boston because we didn't want the kids to be traumatized by the state of their grandfather, which they've only seen a few times in their lives to begin with. The other reason was pure logistics. A surprise trip for four who all have to fly is not a lighthearted ordeal. We needed the resources for them and I needed to stay home with our daughter.

The important fact here, one that I reassured myself as well as by others was that I was wanted there. I had to gracefully accept the fact that I was not able to go through this experience with my partner. I mourned once for my father-in-law during this week and once for our separation through this crisis.

I learned this week that my husband can do what he needs to do and so can I. We are strong, capable and loved. Though we were not able to talk much, when we did, it mattered. We grew closer because even though we were not in the same place, we could still draw on a strength that the other one offered just by being in our life. This was a beautiful understanding - to be independently together.

I am so thankful to all of the people who reached out to me during this week.

I didn't know how to handle my emotions. My father-in-law was a good man, but I hardly knew him. He has been the background in our story for many years, but his leading role happened when my husband and his siblings were just kids. They have had years to come to a sort of peace about their dad and why he is only on the outskirts of our lives. For me it was another graceful acceptance. I mourned him and celebrated him, but our days would continue much in the same manner as before.

Or would they?

Death is a big transformer, but transformation is truly a shift in perspective. The effect of these events is still unfolding for my family. We are glad to be reunited and share in the many emotions this event has brought up.

I am proud of myself throughout this crisis. I upheld my commitment to emotional stability even through a great challenge. I decided to trust and focus on my own emotional health. I spent a lot of time in meditation. I cried and I laughed without judgment.

The most guilt came from pausing production of my business. I kept the lights running, so to speak, but my head was not in my work. I felt completely stalled in my business and creativity. I had to realize that this was okay and it was more important to stop and process the moment at hand.

I needed to be where I was.

I was hurting.

My old story of "I'm not enough" was hit hard when I couldn't be with my family. I felt like my grief didn't matter because I was here and he wasn't even my dad. I felt separated from the ones I loved who were hurting. I wanted so badly to reach out and hug my partner and my extended family. \

They each had to cope in their own way. I accepted that I had to cope in mine. I did a lot of coloring pages. I read a book. I played a lot of games with my daughter. I cooked cookies and ate more of them than I should. I also slept a lot. Still, I handled myself with grace. I feel good at the end of it all because I stayed steady and on a positive path.

I learned I am enough all over again. I learned that my in-laws love me and thought I "should" be there. That meant more to me than anything. I am accepted. I am loved. My feelings matter.

It is only halfway through the first month of 2020. I know that this is going to be a big year of change. I can already see our perspectives shifting. I can already see that will find a way to create a joyful life for ourselves. We are able to let go of what holds us back and get out of our own way.

Stephen Gerard McCusker, Sr will truly be missed. I am thankful for what he meant to so many and that he brought my wonderful husband into the world. He is now released of any pain and his last gift was to bring his family together and also set us free.

With a big breath and a few tears, we continue into 2020 - a year of balance and power. Progress doesn't always take a linear line. Move through your emotions and you may be surprised at the quiet strength transformation brings. Change is not comfortable, but it is how we grow.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Leap of Faith: Novel Published December 2019

Leap of Faith
by Amanda McCusker

Published December 10, 2010 by Balancing Tree Press

The busy city was an escape from Aria Dalton’s unstable childhood home, but five years later and the soft sands of the Atlantic coast are calling to her. She longs for the peaceful solitude she used find out on the shore, but she dare not return.

Beneath the lights of Las Vegas Aria meets Roman, a man she falls for hard and fast. He's comfortable like she's known him her entire life, and it is no wonder. He lives near her hometown back in South Carolina. Near the life she left behind. 

Roman is everything Aria has ever wanted, but can she trust what is happening between them enough to face the past?

Leap of Faith is now available on Amazon as a paperback or ebook

If you are interested in an autographed copy, check out this page!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Welcome 2020! - Difference A Decade Makes

It'a a brand new day and a brand new year!

In many ways, this Wednesday is just like any other. It comes after Tuesday and before Thursday, but there is one change. A new number has ticked over in the date. Now we turn the page and have to buy a new calendar.

I chose to be a Badass this year

Nothing feels different about the new day, yet somehow everything changes. This is because of the internal shift in focus that you decide.

This time of year is all about reflection and setting intentions. You learn from your past and decide what direction you want to grow. There is only so much energy you can give. It is up to you to choose the path you want to explore.

For this year my path is to grow my network, create a workflow that is sustainable and assert myself with confidence. I want to feel balanced and powerful. Every year I decide on a word to focus on.

Last year my word was voice. I wanted to find my voice and begin figuring out what I wanted to say. I believe I did that. I accomplished two big feats in 2019. I created my company - Balancing Tree Press - and published my first book - "Leap of Faith." I'd say that is having a voice.

This year I want to focus on balance and power. I want to create an equal distribution of my time, energy and resources. I want to maintain an emotional stability. I want my opinions, wants and needs to be heard. I want to feel capable of doing the next thing. This means being intentional and leaning in.

It is amazing the difference a decade makes. In 2010 I was large and not so in charge. I was a new mama, overweight and felt overwhelmed by the littlest of things. It took a lot of looking inward and making changes to create a whole new me - one that is healthy and confident.

Me and my baby girl in December 2009

In 2014 my family moved from Charleston, South Carolina, to Seattle, Washington. It was a huge change and was what finally made the difference for me to become stronger. I began to eat better and move more. I was inspired by the city we lived in and the Pacific Northwest as a whole. As my body grew stronger, I felt more healthy.

Me in December 2015,
a year and a half after moving to Seattle.

However, I was still missing the emotional health - I felt like I couldn't get through this wall I had built. In 2019 I got help from a therapist and it changed my entire world. In one year I accomplished more than I had in the three previous years. I felt better and began to believe I was enough and could handle what came my way.

Me as I write this, December 2019
It is amazing the difference a decade makes. No one day felt like a big difference. When they all add up everything has changed. I have learned that it is your attitude and your habits that make you who you are. When you tell yourself you can't, you won't. Tell yourself you can. I am learning to have a growth mindset and be open to new opportunities in a way that I could never before imagine.

I drew this illustration in October 2019. It explains the difference a decade makes.
I am amazed by the change in myself. I don't know that I was every unhappy, but I did feel limited in a way I couldn't quite describe. Now I am able to understand how the physical, mental and emotional parts of yourself all link together to make to you feel happy and whole. When one parts break, the others are weakened. It is so important to give yourself abundant self-care.

We are now living in the roaring twenties. I can't wait to see how I will continue to grow in the upcoming year and decade.

Happy New Year! Welcome 2020!

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