The Girls We Sent Away, Writer's Life

The Year of the Butterflies

And why I won’t be standing naked in front of readers.

My new year started off with a stress dream. Two months from the release of my second novel and the kick-off to my book tour, I had a dream that I stood naked in front of an audience of my friends, family, and readers during a book event. Well, I was figuratively naked. But still.

I arrived at the venue, excited to introduce readers to The Girls We Sent Away. The only problem was I hadn’t prepared a speech. And, I couldn’t remember what the book was about. I told myself that I could fumble my way through by talking about The Last Carolina Girl, but as I assessed the audience, I realized they had all heard me tell the story behind that story.

I asked the host to stall for a bit while I figured out what to do. Should I simply read pages from the book? Maybe. Then I remembered that my publisher had sent swag along with me. Great! Perhaps I could kill some time by doing some fun giveaways. When I pulled out the swag, I realized they had sent me materials for other books, not my own.

An hour past the stated start time, the audience became restless as I stalled, sweated, and silently panicked. Figuratively, I stood naked in front of them, revealing myself to be the fraud I was: an author with no words.

Let’s just say I was happy to wake up from that dream.

On my morning walk the next day, I queued up a book by one of my favorite authors: How to be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell. Though it published in 2016, I hadn’t read or heard of it, but the title seemed like a good read to start my new year.

I listened to the entirety of this short, but impactful book as I meandered my way through my morning hike. Thankfully I’m a quick listener. A three-times speed, Rob spoke into my ears the exact message I needed to hear after that stress dream:

“Nerves are God’s gift to you, reminding you that your life is not passing you by. Make friends with the butterflies. Welcome them when they come, revel in them, enjoy them and if they go away, do whatever it takes to put yourself in a position where they return. Better to have a stomach full of butterflies than to feel like your life is passing you by.”

How to be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell

You see, 2023 was the year my debut novel hit bookshelves. It was the moment I had dreamt of since I was a child. It was the goal I had set for myself back in college. It was the career move I had wanted to make while sitting in various cubicles.

But it was a moment I couldn’t have prepared myself for.

The year was filled with highs and lows, learning opportunities, and moments of reassessment. One of the biggest lessons I learned over that time was about myself. Before 2023, I had never considered myself insecure. But the last year presented me with plenty of moments of feeling uncertain, unsettled, unsteady.

I spoke with friends and fellow authors about this. I came to the realization that the reason I had never felt so insecure is because I had never put myself in a position where I cared so much about the thing I was doing, so that I hungered for accomplishment, achievement, and attainment in ways I never had before.

So why did I have that dream the second night of the new year? Because 2024 is the year my sophomore novel hits bookshelves everywhere. And, it’s the year I make friends with butterflies. This is the year I acknowledge my insecurities and remind myself that they are testaments to the fact that life is not passing me by. I will welcome those butterflies. Revel in them. Enjoy them. And if they go away, I will do what it takes to get them back. I’ll take a stomach full of butterflies if it means I’m actively pursuing life. But it also means I will prepare my author talk because no one needs to see me naked, figuratively or otherwise.

If you’d like a sneak peek at The Girls We Sent Away, click the button below to see me read the prologue:

The Girls We Sent Away hits shelves March 5, 2024! You can preorder your copy now from your favorite bookseller! Here are links to just a few booksellers to choose from:

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