Posted in Life stuff

Another Year

With the titles of all the books I’ve written…

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This cake!

Another year…

This was a big birthday for me, but I’ve learned every birthday is big as long as we are still here to celebrate it.

I wrote a blog that was almost depressing as I pondered my own death and whether or not some would notice my absence at this point in my life. It was sad. It was cathartic. It was a culmination of each big moment I live without those from my life – those I miss. And the end result was to keep living. Upon my demise, I would no longer know if tears were shed, if regrets were discussed, or if I’d been long forgotten before a second thought would be given — or not given.

So, instead of focusing in the negative, I decided to focus this blog on celebration. It was a big birthday. And those I missed were noted in my personal world.

But I was celebrated.

I’ve spent years with my birthday passing without pomp and circumstance. I have a daughter whose birthday quickly follows mine and am used to focusing on her and frankly, being forgotten in the mix. It’s the life of motherhood. I’ve had few complaints, but I have been hurt as July 6th passes with a cup of coffee from Starbucks and not much else in acknowledgement of the day. For years.

Lack of celebration has not been a large deal to me until celebration became the norm in my new life. I told someone yesterday I feel as if I have been celebrating for two years now. I am often floored by the love and support surrounding me each day.

Backtracking a bit, I had a good life. A great home. A family. Fabulous though sometimes challenging children. But I lacked in my world, and I accepted everything I had as somewhat of a compromise. Two years ago, I made a huge change with a move from the snow to the desert. It didn’t take long to realize the core troubles in my world wouldn’t change as a result of a dry heat or an impressive monsoon season. As a result, I made another huge change in my world. It’s been a scariest two years of my life. But also the most enjoyable and eye opening years thus far.

As this year’s birthday came around again, I was reminded of just how much has changed in my world during these past two years. While I was living in memories passed wondering if another year would go unnoticed, the people who love me most today – the people who have filled my world for the past two years – were busy planning another surprise party for me. They did this last year, so this year I didn’t think it was remotely possible they could pull it off again. But they did. I didn’t scream and run away this year as I did last year, but they got me. Not only did I walk into my home filled with people, but I cried.

Cried.

People.

Friends.

Love.

Acceptance.

Balloons.

Celebration.

But what got me was this cake.

This gorgeous amazing cake.

First, I have to give a shout out to Brittany who made this amazing cake. She can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/sweetbbs/

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Did I say amazing?

Second, these people…these sweet, kind, wonderful people who set up, shopped, gifted, decorated, cooked, and showed up to celebrate me…well, let’s just say I’ll never get used to this is my life. And I appreciate it more and more each time I am gifted with anything from you all.

Third, and this is not lost on me. I am an author. I’ve known many of these folks for two years. When they met me, I was an author. I had one book out which was a year old. I had a plan to get these other titles out, but as my life has taken these twists and turns, I couldn’t publish. I’m just now getting back to working on rebuilding – by relaunching my first novel which is almost three years old now. These other titles will be released in the next two years to follow, one by one. But these amazing people in my world who don’t hesitate to celebrate me, celebrate a cup of coffee, the chance at a glass of wine, or just the sun rising haven’t ever hesitated to support my journey as an author despite the fact that many of these books I talk about have yet to be published.

So, cheers to another year. One of moving forward instead of looking behind. One of love and support filled with positive energy and kindness.

And cake!

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Posted in Peek into Stella's Books

#AmWriting

Clearly, I am writing.

I have a scene to write. About fishing. I know about….nothing when it comes to fishing. I used to go fishing with my dad when I was little. I have memories of my grandfather fishing. My grandfather’s brother owned a seafood business my whole life. Yet, still I know close to nothing about fishing.

What kind of fish swim in the cold fresh waters of Colorado’s high mountains? I have no idea. This is why Google is my friend.

But writing this scene took me back to writing 34 Seconds. Nikki goes back home after years of being away and only visiting occasionally. I’m trying desperately to reopen my boxes of memories of fishing so I can write this scene. But I might not have the key to this particular box.

Excerpt from 34 Seconds:

Every time I visited, I thought I was still that young woman who left so many years ago. I’d locked up certain pains into little compartments inside my heart and inside my mind, and some of them tended to pop open like a Jack in the Box when I set foot onto my father’s property. I forgot just how many years have passed. I forgot how much can change and yet still stay the same in so many years.

If you know about fishing, you are welcome to teach me.

Posted in Life stuff, Writing

So you wanna write and publish

I took a flight from Denver, Colorado to Farmington, New Mexico. It was a puddle jumper plane. Little. Few seats. Only it didn’t jump puddles. It jumped the Rocky Mountains. I don’t know if you’ve ever been through the Rockies, but they are magnificent. Majestic. And quite rocky. It’s not a vision that only leaves you in awe, but also in fear, flying above those peaks. This flight was before 2001. The cockpit door was open. In between the pilot and co-pilot lay a manual. I was in the first seat. There were only about six seats on the plane. This thing wasn’t planning on every going very far. It was a plane that flew below clouds looking up at the all huge aircraft flying high and fast above, with aspirations to be that amazing one day. If this story took place in a cartoon, that is. Anyway, the one flight attendant shared my knee space and faced me. I feared a sneeze might push her against the door flinging us all out to pepper the massive rocks. Holding tight to my seat, I looked again at the two pilots and the book sitting open between them. I’m not sure why I said it except I am a funny person, but out loud, I said, “What is that? The ‘So You Wanna Be a Pilot Manual’?” The pilot turned and smiled. The flight attendant stifled a giggle. I held on tight. We were heading over rocky terrain, and I wanted to live. I watched that book the whole flight, ready to take it and read out loud if needed, but also secretly hoping neither pilot would pick it up for instructional reading while flying my precious life an hour and a half away from home.

A few years ago I started a novel. I started a few actually. Last year I finished one. Then I gave it to people to read. And they liked it. Then I had it edited and formatted. Both took much longer than I had planned. Then I edited it again because I question everything and decided I didn’t like everything I’d kept from my editor. More formatting. Cover designer who had been waiting for more than year was ready to go. Boom, it’s ready to go out. Right? No. I’m in a trial by error stage right now.

Right now, if you are a writer or want to be a writer, get your pilot’s guide out now, and start writing.

Happy words,

Stella

Writing

Posted in Peek into Stella's Books

34 Seconds Book Blog Tour

I have been so honored the past few days to be featured on a few blogs. I’m very excited to have 34 Seconds out in the world.

I’m eager to finish my next book, and I’m even more eager to get my next NaNoWriMo project started next month. But for now, I’m enjoying sitting back for a bit and sharing my writing, extra scenes, recipes that inspired my book, and life through my characters.

Yesterday 34 Seconds was featured on Shaun Allan’s blog. If you love horror and haven’t heard of Shaun, be sure to stick around on his blog and check out his work. I was lucky enough to win his latest book, Darker Places, and I’m not sure I’m ready to turn off my lights just yet.

First, be sure to check out his post sharing my latest story which takes place in Deltaville, Virginia. In this post, I share a little about this beautiful town on the coast on Virginia.

Shaun Allan’s 34 Seconds tour

Posted in Life stuff

Book Release Day!

34 Seconds is out and available on Amazon!

This has been an amazing time in my life. 34 Seconds took me a long time to write. I was humbled, I learned, I cried, I laughed, and here I am, humbled again.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and whirlwind of a year, and today has been busy, filled with love and Legos. Trying to spend a Sunday playing the new Lego Dimensions game with my son, letting my daughters explore life through their adventures, supporting my Denver Broncos, and keeping up with the wonderful folks out there sharing their support for my debut novel.

Thank you all for your kindness, for you support, and for your love. Keep passing it on, it feels nice to be humbled. To blush. To smile. Thank you for doing that today.

34 Seconds by Stella Samuel can be found here.

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Posted in Life stuff

Kindness Matters

I was humbled a couple of weeks ago when a friend, editor and teacher extraordinaire, I might add, took my novel, stayed up with it all night at emailed me her copy edits at 5am the following morning.

Talk about kindness.

Last week, I had the opportunity to do the same with another friend’s novel. It just landed in my lap, (Okay, he may have thrown it my way, but my lap caught it), and I sent in my copy edits for his review. I didn’t feel special. I didn’t feel amazing. I didn’t feel like I had gone out of my way, doing something I enjoy doing for someone I like and respect. But I knew how it felt to be on the receiving end, and I knew that author may have been humbled as well, thinking the simple words, thank you, might not be enough. They are, of course.

On the other side of my world, my children started school last week. On the first day, they were excited to be in new schools, with old teachers, meet new friends, have new schedules, new clothes, contacts for one, new reading glasses for another….their positive list was endless. I was amazed.

I had one rule for them, and I begged them to follow it.

Be kind.

No matter how you feel, how your day is going, what you are going through, be kind.

Do you wish to make new friends? Be kind.

Do you wish to meet new people? Be kind.

Do you want to heal old relationships? Be kind.

Would you like to get to know someone better? Be kind.

Did someone say something mean to you? Be kind. (And know you are worth more than hurtful words)

No one is perfect. But we can all be humble. I encourage my children to lift up their peers. I encourage my children to help people feel good about themselves. Many of us know how it feels to be hurt by someone’s actions or someone’s words. It can ruin a day. I ask my children to be the person that makes someone smile when they feel a frown taking over their beautiful face.

Last Friday, after three days of parties, hugs, laughter, and lots of first week of school smiles, one of my kids came home and told me something another child had said sometime during the day. It was hurtful. It was painful. It was personal. It was something I tried all weekend to let go. But I struggled. This isn’t the first time this particular child has said something hurtful to my child. No parent wants to see their child hurting.

As adults, we have to deal with stresses each day we decide, or have, to enter the world. As parents, we often expect we will send out children out into a place where dangers are prevalent, but we know they will be protected. Either by adults around them, children who adore them, or our love that will be with them when they are away from us. As children, they often expect to head out into a big world of joy, rainbows, and beautiful sunsets. A world where we all feel the same, and we only want to exist – together – in a place of joy.

It’s heartbreaking when a child climbs into a parent’s car with a somber look and sad eyes, only to say, ‘Someone hurt my feelings today.’ Sticks and stones hurt. Words will never hurt me? That couldn’t be more wrong. I sat on this one hurtful thing all weekend, thinking of the joy I’d had with the child that said this over the years. Thinking of the joy I’d given to my child. And wondering where I’d failed if I’d let something so menial bother me so much.

Bother me, it did.

My response to my child was, “What did you say?”

Be kind.

“You told me to be kind, so I said, ‘That’s sad. But okay.'”

It was sad. My child didn’t argue, didn’t fight back with another hurtful sentence, didn’t take the pain experienced and throw it back into someone else’s court.

It was sad this child felt the need to say this to my child. It was sad this child learned this was an acceptable thing to do. It was sad to know a friendship was broken – again.

But my child was humbled.

It wasn’t the first time.

Last week, when someone offered kindness with nothing expected in return, certainly wasn’t my first humbling experience either.

But both experiences reminded us the connection being humble and being kind have with one another. One exists because of the other. The other exists because there is a new view because of the other.

Kindness matters. I hope we can all make it our choice. I’m proud to say, though we are not perfect, my family, my children, will grow knowing, and maybe learning more along the way than knowing all the time, to be humble and to be kind. No matter what might be thrown at them.

Kindness matter.

Be at least a reason for someone’s smile today.