“I’m Nobody! Who are you?” Some Changes to the Blog

Over the past few years, as I’ve published a book and started trying to expand my reach beyond my twelve loyal blog readers, I’ve struggled to figure out how to share about my life without violating my family’s privacy. Social media was easy (or so I thought)—I’d just have a public account and a private account. But blogging was trickier. When we expanded Good Times Ahoy from a personal blog to an author website, it suddenly felt wrong to write about my kids the way I used to, even though readership hasn’t changed much. Sharing my motherhood adventures (and misadventures) was fun, and when I couldn’t do it anymore, I lost enthusiasm for keeping up with the blog.

Maintaining separation on social media has also been harder than expected. Turns out, when you’re a stay-at-home mom to four kids (oh yeah, did I mention we had another one? Surprise!) your life is inextricably linked to those of your children. I spend all day with them. They star in all the hilarious anecdotes of my day. Many of the books I read are about raising, feeding, and educating them (oh yeah, did I mention we’re homeschooling again? Surprise!). As gross as I feel about using my children in the content rat race, it’s pretty hard to say anything about my life without referencing them in some way.

Something’s got to change, because I miss this. I miss long-form blogging. I miss sharing our ridiculous fun-house life along with surly movie reviews and infrequent, less-than-impressive writing updates. So I’m going to be making some changes to the blog (all of which will apply to Instagram, as well). I probably should have been doing most of these from the beginning.

  • I will no longer be showing front-profile pictures of my kids. Instead, you’ll be treated to images of the backs of adorable, oversized, uniformly-buzzed heads.
  • I will no longer be using our kids’ real names. But it’s okay, because they all get adorkable literary codenames! Welcome to the adventures of Curdie, Faramir, Jane, and Lucy.
  • Sadly, the GTA Year in Review is discontinued. We’ll still be writing a family Christmas letter every year for those who know us personally, but it will live on my husband’s blog.

What I’m NOT going to do is go to great lengths to expunge my children’s existence from the Interwebz. I don’t think it’s practical or necessary, and it may not be possible at this point. People who are really dedicated will probably be able to find out their names and see some of their pictures (although if you’re that interested in our kids, you hopefully already know us personally). But I’m hoping putting these guidelines in place for myself will unparalyze me enough to start participating in the internet again.

Happy trails, friends! I’ll talk to you soon!

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Nightwalker!

Today is the 2-year anniversary of the release of Nightwalker!

I never intended to write a book like this—or at least, I never intended for this to be the first book I published. Nightwalker has no princesses or unicorns, and it barely has any magic. I had no idea (and still have no idea) how to market the thing. How did someone who wanted to write fairy tales end up writing—essentially—spooky, supernatural Book of Mormon fanfiction?

It began as a 2016 NaNoWriMo project. At the time it seemed like all my friends were going through a faith crisis, and while I never reached crisis level, I did spend some time really thinking about what I believe and why I believe it. What does it mean to have faith? What sustains us when Church members—or even Church leaders—act in confusing or hurtful ways? Why does God let bad things happen to good people? If I had “felt to sing the song of redeeming love” (Alma 5:26), why couldn’t I always feel it?

The scriptures had answers to these questions, and as I studied them, the writer wheels in my head started turning. It felt like God was synthesizing the ideas I was pondering with some undeveloped characters and plot bunnies in my brain, producing the most complete story I’d ever conceived. Given this incredible gift, I knew what I had to do: put all the fairy tales and princess stories on the back burner and write Nightwalker to the best of my ability at the time.

(To complicate things, that “time” spanned almost exactly five years, and by the time I finished there were HUGE quality gaps between the beginning of the book and the end of the book. But I digress.)

So, I guess you could say that Nightwalker is a testimony of sorts. Because I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the histories of Milabel, Ependom, and Asura have strong ties to Church history and the events of the Book of Mormon. Each of the characters has a different relationship with religion and God, but regardless of their belief or lack thereof, it becomes clear (I hope) how He is working in their lives.

My greatest fear in releasing this book into the world was that, because there’s a pernicious influence in the Milabel church, readers would think I was criticizing my own religion. This was not my intent at all! While the Church is made up of imperfect mortals, Christ is at the helm. The prophets, seers, and revelators who lead this church do so under His direction and authority, and I love and support them. I hope that readers will note that the “restoration” event in Nightwalker leads directly to the downfall of the Guardians. 😉

Probably the biggest criticism Nightwalker has received is that the romance between Alec and Maren wasn’t romance-y enough. Readers wanted more conflict, more tension—in short, they wanted the plot to be more like every other YA book in existence. And that’s totally fair. This was something of a deliberate choice on my part. I wanted the romance to take a backseat and be relatively easy so that Alec and Maren could focus on supporting each other through the crises they faced. I also wanted to show that when two people are compatible, have the same goals, are both trying to do what’s right, and care deeply about each other, you can skip a lot of the turbulence in the relationship. That said, I know I have a lot to learn about writing romance.

Then again, my 8-year-old son informed me that **SPOILER ALERT** he didn’t like that Alec and Maren got married at the end, and asked why I would do that. So you can’t please everyone, I guess.

Overall, I’m still quite happy with how Nightwalker turned out. I felt like I learned a lot while writing and self-publishing it, and despite how weird it is, I’m proud of my firstborn book baby. And if you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll like it, too. You can get your copy here!

(And if you have read it, PLEASE leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads! It really helps!)