Sunday, May 31, 2015

Why do you have so much stuff?

This is an excellent question, and one I'm planning to ask myself often for the next few months.

Like many cool people, including Erica and my mom, I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

(Personally I feel like that title could be a little tidier. It's quite the mouthful. But I suppose since it was translated from Japanese, we'll give the publisher a pass. Plus the publisher—imprint, actually, if you want to get technical—is Ten Speed Press, and I have a soft spot for them because they're based in Berkeley.)

Anyway, this is a wonderful book that's all about creating the life that you really want by getting rid of all the things you don't really love. In theory, I am all about living a simpler life. I love tiny houses; I'm trying out car-less-ness; I like minimalism. But . . . that's all been pretty theoretical up to now.

Even as I've been dreaming my tiny house dreams and testing out my car-lite life, I've still been accumulating more and more stuff. Not in a crazy pack-rat kind of way. Just in a normal, consumerist American way. I feel like in our modern society, you have to fight pretty hard to stop the influx of things into your life. You have to learn to say no and keep saying no. And because I have the space right now and a place of my own, I haven't been saying no.

Eventually all of this "stuff" starts to wear on you. There's just so much of it. Who even knows what it all is? And by then the thought of moving or trying to organize becomes so daunting it's not even worth the effort. Might as well just shove it a little farther back into the closet and worry about it another day.

That's what I was doing. Until I read this book.

The author, Marie Kondo, makes some bold claims at the beginning of the book.

1. You'll only have to do this once and then you'll never rebound.
2. You can learn to be tidy, even if you never have been before.
3. The process of tidying up will improve every aspect of your existence from your work life to your weight loss goals.
4. By the time you are done, you will own only the things that make you truly happy and you won't feel compelled to constantly buy more.

Armed with these dreams and my own inherent optimism, I attacked my closet. The KonMari method, as it's called, goes through all of your belongings in categories. You have to physically touch each thing and figure out if it brings you joy. In all, the process is supposed to take about six months.

And you start with your clothes.

So that's what I did. I went through my whole little house, gathered my clothes from everywhere: the scarves I kept in my dining room table drawers, the sandals I'd forgotten were on a back shelf of my closet, the robe I normally hang in the bathroom, even the gloves I had stashed in the saddle bag of my bike. I hunted it all down and dumped it on the floor of my bedroom. It was quite the pile. I had no idea I owned all that. I would've taken a picture of it, but honestly, it was a bit embarrassing. There was just so much.

By then I was sneezing up a storm. Spring allergies plus dust bunnies do not equal a happy nose. But I wasn't about to give up. I knew what I wanted, and I was determined to win the day.

So I started in. I went through each clothing subcategory: tops, bottoms, dresses, coats, underthings, bags, scarves and accessories, and of course shoes.

It was tough at first; I'll admit. There was so much that I didn't love that I was worried I'd have nothing left to wear when I got done. But as I progressed through each category, it became more and more like a game. I was honestly surprised by how much I decided to part with. Many items were simply past their point of usefulness or had some small thing wrong with them that made me less inclined to wear them.

As I finished each subcategory and bagged up the discard pile, I thanked each piece of clothing for the time we'd spent together. This is another part of the KonMari method. You're supposed to express your gratitude to your belongings for a job well done. It sounds a little strange, but it was actually really helpful. I felt satisfied knowing that I had made peace with my decisions and that my clothes and I were parting on good terms.

Then when I was done with all the subcategories, I got to put away the things I was keeping. This was also fun because each piece was something I really loved. Plus there's a really specific folding method you use that helps your clothes stay upright in your drawers and it's AWESOME. I know that sounds crazy if you haven't tried it. How could folding be that exciting? Trust me. It is. There is something so satisfying about folding your clothes well. It just feels right. Like this is the way your clothes want to be all the time.

Now that I've done my clothes, I'm really tempted to tackle my books right away. That's the next major category. But I think I'll wait.

1. Because I want to savor this whole process.
2. Because my sister's car trunk and back seat are already full of the clothes I'm taking to DI to donate.

I hope this post doesn't come off as preachy. I have nothing against owning a lot of stuff if it truly makes you happy. But for me personally, I get a lot more joy out of having too little than too much. And I'm excited to have found a method that I think will help me get there.

This way, someday, when I'm ready and have saved up enough pennies, I'll be able to move right into a tiny house with all of the things I love most. And in the meantime, I won't be wasting any extra pennies buying things I like but don't love.

I know I have a long way to go, and I'll try to keep you all posted about my progress, but I wanted to record the beginning of this process—mostly for myself, so that when I'm having a hard time with the later categories, I can look back on this and remember how excited I was and why I wanted to do this in the first place.

That's another part of the KonMari method. You're supposed to ask yourself why you want to do this and for each reason you can think of, you say, "But why do I want to do that?" a few more times until you really get to the heart of the issue.

When I did this, all of my reasons basically boiled down to having a clearer mind to receive revelation, having more time to spend observing and creating beautiful things, and being better able to serve others. It might seem like a bit of a stretch to think that tossing out some old clothes will give me those things, but the process has only just begun. And I have faith.

Happy tidying, friends!

See? I still have plenty of clothes and shoes. I don't know why I was worried.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Last stop on the blog tour!

Hey everyone,

I had such a fun weekend and it's not over yet! Three-day weekends are the best.

The book launch went really well. I was so happy to see so many of you there and to meet new friends and fans. (Guys, I have fans! It's so cool!) I got to sign books in the same room that Margaret Atwood signed and Jimmy Carter and like every famous YA author that's ever come to Salt Lake City (Lauren Oliver, Rick Riordan, Ally Condie, etc.) Even Christopher Paolini—my erstwhile crush. Reading aloud from my book was the tiniest bit awkward, but I just swallowed my pride and went for it. There was also a super fun question and answer time and we took a character quiz that I'll put up online later this week and there was a raffle and people won prizes. So basically it was all things awesome and I'm still super pumped about it.

Also, a huge shout-out to all the kind folks at The King's English. They made me feel like a rock star. Love them. And a special thank you to Lexie for loaning me her gorgeous dress and to Kaeli for being my stylist.

Okay. On to the blog tour.

Our final stop on the tour is at the wonderfully bookish blog

And since it's the last day for your reading pleasure, I bring you TWO posts.

1. A guest post (written by me) with Jorie's thoughts at the end.
2. Jorie's review of Liam Darcy, I Loathe You, which is long and awesome and gave me the warm fuzzies.

I hope you've all enjoyed reading along to the blog tour. I am super grateful to all the bloggers who participated. This was my first blog tour and it was thoroughly awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you, all.

And while I'm thanking people, I just want to say thanks again to Melissa and Michelle, who not only created my beautiful book, but who came out to support me at my book launch because they are awesome like that.

I'll post more launch party pics soon. :)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What's today? It's Book Launch Day!

Good morning, folks! I'm super excited because today is the official book launch!!!

To start us off, here's another stop on the blog tour:

Also a reminder that if you're planning on coming to the book launch, the fun starts at 3:00pm at The King's English bookshop in Salt Lake City.

More details here.

I know there are many of you who would love to be there but can't because of distance or timing or prior commitments. If that's you, thank you! I'm so grateful for your support. Seriously. It means a lot.

For you guys, I'm planning to take the party online next week so that those who can't make it today can still participate. Stay tuned for quizzes, an online interview with the author, and possibly even a few prizes and giveaways.

 And if you're local, I do have more events coming up soon, including a signing at the Orem Barnes & Noble on June 11 at 7:00 pm. I'll post more details about that when it gets a little closer.

For now, just know that I love you guys and I'm thankful for all you're doing for me!

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

More of the blog tour!

Check out today's review!

Just as a reminder, the launch party is this Saturday from 3:00 to 5:00 pm at The King's English in Salt Lake City.

I would LOVE to see you there!

We'll have raffle prizes and a fun quiz and giveaways. I'll probably end up reading a little bit of my book out loud, even though that sounds super awkward to me. Plus you'll get to hang out with lots of other Austen-loving people. What's not to like?

For more info about the event, click here:

Hope you can make it!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blog tour: Day . . . honestly I've lost track of the days.

Hey friends,

Here's today's blog tour review. I'm pleased with it. :)

As for me and my life, I spent the entire evening playing MASH. Yes, I still do that. But only with my very best friend as a way of catching up on our lives. She lives far away.

It was good times.

I also walked to the library and got the following books.

The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison
Ten Things I Hate about Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
and Binny for Short by Hilary McKay

Which should I read first? I can't decide.

Hope your Monday was equally lovely.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blog Tour: Day 5!

Good morning, friends! I'm exhausted but excited for another day at the LDStorymakers Conference.

Are you guys getting sick of the blog tour? Yeah, me neither.*

Today's review is great. You can see it here . . .

I just want to say that I'm really thankful for all of you—bloggers, friends, and everyone—who have posted reviews online, shared my posts, and helped me to spread the word about my book. I'm so appreciative. There's no way I could do this alone.

So basically, you guys are awesome. Happy Saturday!

(*Sorry if you are. I can't promise I'll shut up about my book anytime soon, but I will promise to blog about something not related to my book sometime in the nearish future. How's that for a vague commitment?)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Blog Tour: Day 4

And the blog tour continues!!! Today you can win a free copy of my book, so be sure to check out the link below.

And while I'm here, I just want to let you all know that I'm currently sitting in a room surrounded by writers and it's freaking awesome.

I love writing conferences, and LDStorymakers is the one that inspired me to write my first novel, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. Seriously. It's great. If you've ever considered coming, you should. I highly recommend it.

You can check out their website for more info if you're interested.

I'd write more about how great it is, but my first class of the day is about to start. Hope you all have a happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Blog Tour: Day 3

I am seriously loving this whole blog tour thing. It's giving me massive motivation to write Book 2, and I love reading all the reviews and seeing what people thought of the book.

Here's today's. It definitely made me smile.


In real-life news, I took a big step today and ordered a conversion kit for my bike so that I can turn it into an electric bike. This means it'll have a little motor on it and batteries that will help me get up and over big hills and stuff. It also means I'll be able to use my bike to commute all summer long! 

I'm super excited about this. It cost a pretty penny, but only about a quarter of what it would've been to repair my car AGAIN. So yeah, I'm pretty much set on going carless for awhile. Or at least car-lite. This is something I've been wanting to try for almost a year, and I'm feeling really good about it. I mean, it just makes sense. I only live a few miles from work, and I don't really need a car.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on how it goes. I want to make sure I can live like this before I actually sell my car and cancel my insurance, but things are looking good so far!

Hope you all had a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Blog tour: Day 2

Hey, guys.

Just passing on a link to today's blog tour review.

You can check it out here:

In other news, today was a pretty miserable day in my real life (car trouble, money, the usual). And that's why today I'm especially grateful to have a place like Pemberley Prep to escape to. I know that there are times when you need to face your problems instead of running from them, and I try to be brave enough to do that, but as one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands says, "We all need an escape route."

So yeah. I'd write more here, but I think I'd better write my book instead. I'll see you in Kensington!

Oh, and in case you're curious, the band I mentioned is also Willoughby's favorite in my book. And the song is titled, appropriately, Escape Route. It shouldn't be too hard to find. Google is a powerful thing. I'll give you a hint, though, it's not the Paramore song.

Monday, May 11, 2015

What's a blog tour?

Hey, guys! So a blog tour is this super cool thing where people from all around the internet review a book within the span of a week or two—in this case my book. It's kind of like a physical book tour, except that I don't actually get to go anywhere.

And while I usually like traveling, I'm pretty okay with skipping out on a traditional tour, since it means I have more time to sit at home and write (and by "write" I mean think about writing while really just watching Bones marathons on Netflix*). Anyway, today is the beginning of my first-ever blog tour, and I'm seriously stoked about it.

I'll be posting new links to all the reviews throughout the next couple of weeks. Hope you're all cool with that.

Here's the first one . . .


*This may or may not be an actual call for help. But really, I'm kind of addicted. And I have a first draft to write. Someone save me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How does it feel to be published?

Technically the term is "in print." I've been published for awhile, and that's not even counting Tiny Talks.

But whatever. Let's not quibble about technicalities.

So, how does it feel to have my first novel in the hands of readers?

It feels . . . like a lot of things all at once: panic, euphoria, pure disbelief, worry, smugness, exhaustion, relief, nostalgia, confusion, awe, and that uncomfortable feeling you get when you realize you've been humming along to your iPod in public but no one else can hear the music.

I'm not sure I've ever been through a more emotional week than the past one has been. Not because I've been particularly sad or happy or any of that. But my emotions keep fluctuating like crazy. One second I'm totally proud of myself, and then two seconds later I'm cowering in sheer terror over the fact that people can read my words now.

And not just my blog words. That's one thing. These are my fiction words. I made up this whole other world, and I'm kind of in love with it, but it's been mine and mine alone for a really long time. It's been my secret hideout, you know? And now it's like I threw open the gates and invited everyone into my own personal Disneyland.

Except it probably doesn't look like Disneyland to other people. I'm honestly not sure what it looks like because I lost the ability to be objective about it ages ago.

But okay. Here's another weird thing I realized in the past few days: from this point on, anyone new that I meet will never get to know the old Heidi. More than turning thirty, more than graduating from college, more than becoming a professional editor even, more than all that stuff—publishing my first novel has forever altered my personal identity. It's odd. I feel like I have more to live up to now somehow.

And I also feel like I'm going to have a harder time convincing people that I'm really a mess. From the outside, publishing a book makes it look like you've got it all together. But I don't. Really.

I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I don't have it all figured out. I don't even know what I want to be when I grow up. I'm taking this whole thing one day at a time and crossing my fingers and toes that I'll come out of it a better person somehow.

But I certainly don't feel like I'm the most creative person I know. Far from it. And I don't feel like I'm the best writer I know. I'm definitely not. I don't even feel like being published is that big of a deal. Except that it is. I sort of know that still, deep down. I guess I've lost the ability to be objective about this too.

So when I can't think straight anymore, I do the only thing I can do—I keep writing. Book 2 is currently 34028 words long. I wish it were longer. I'm not as far into it as I wanted to be by this point. Oh well. It'll come. If nothing else, this whole experience has taught me that I write books—a fact I was unsure about even up until last week. But now that I've done it once, I know I can do it again.

And when I forget that, I'll look at the stack of my books that's currently sitting on my dining room table and say to myself, "Look. You did that."