Today is the anniversary of PURPLE MOON’s release!

This time last year, I was experiencing a mixture of feelings: Nervousness. Excitement. Fear.

Nervous about stepping out of my shell to do interviews and book signings.

Excited about the possibilities surrounding my new release (and the fact that it was actually happening!).

And afraid–terrified, actually–of what people might think about my book.

I had no idea it would receive the kind of feedback that it has. I was shocked. I mean, I personally loved the story. I had spent many months (years) into making it the best that I could.

But I wrote the first draft when I was 16. It wasn’t the kind of plot-driven, action-packed story that some people preferred. Instead, it was character-driven, and more focused on the protagonist’s inner journey rather than anything else.

That’s why I was shocked when I continued to receive positive feedback, continued to have 5-star ratings on Amazon.

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Photo courtesy of Anderson Independent Newspaper

Other Highlights From This Past Year:

 Hearing from readers.

I have cherished each and every letter I’ve received since my book released. I get teary-eyed every time I hear how God used Purple Moon to lead them to Christ or impact their life, especially since that is exactly what I prayed for while I writing and editing the book.

Book signings.

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There is something special about actually getting to see readers face-to-face rather than just online. Even when the turn out isn’t even that great, book signings are always a fun experience.

My launch party (above) was one I will never forget–at least seventy people showed up, and we had coffee, purple moon cookies, purple Hershey kisses, etc. I loved being able to celebrate the debut of my release with family, friends, and my community. =)

Seeing my story on the cover of my town’s newspaper.

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This was a bit frightening, I have to admit. But it was surreal, too, and a reminder that I am living my dreams. I also very much enjoyed my interview with the reporter, who came to my house and spoke with my parents and me.

It was also crazy when the story was picked up nationally by the Associated Press! I definitely hadn’t been expecting that.

Updates on My Writing Journey:

A month ago (August 22nd), I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

I admit, I have been just a little tempted to put off my book tour out of fear that something would happen. But I know that’s what Satan would want me to do. He will do anything to keep me from pursuing the calling God has placed on my life.

Fear has held me back long enough, so I was determined not to let it keep me back this time.

For the past year, I have had such anxious thoughts surrounding the idea of public speaking. Which is actually crazy, because I used to not be afraid of anything: theater performances, school presentations, roller coasters,  etc.

I was the one who chose to take the air lift to the top of the mountain with my dad rather than a train like my older sisters and older cousins did. I was the one who won a frog Beanie Baby when I was five because I was able to ribet the loudest out of several other kids.

So how did I allow fear to creep in? When did anxiety start wrapping around me, making me terrified of doing things that I used to be just fine with?

I think it began when I was 15. I was running along the beach one morning, and since I hadn’t eaten or drank anything that day, I started becoming weak and hyperventilated. At the hospital, I was told that I had dehydrated.

But honestly, I think part of the reason I started to hyperventilate was due to anxiety. I knew I was running low on energy, and I started freaking out when I saw how much further I had to run.

Another episode happened not even a year later during a theater performance. I had dehydrated, so they rushed me to the hospital.

Not being able to breathe is the worst feeling. And since then, the idea of hyperventilating has terrified me so much and at times would cause me to start hyperventilating (which is ironic). I became claustrophobic, even though big crowds used to never affect me.

I think that’s the main reason why I have procrastinated for so long in promoting my book through public speaking.

Not necessarily because I don’t think I’m a good enough speaker (which has been a factor), but because the idea of having an episode while I was speaking terrified me. I allowed myself to panic over the idea of being panicked–which is, of course, ridiculous.

But the good news is: God is, and has been, tearing down those knots of anxiety that has been wrapped around me for far too long.

And this past Monday, I was finally able to do the very thing I have been procrastinating this year: I spoke to a homeschool group.

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I shared with them a little bit about my publication journey and inspired them to pursue their dreams as well. And you know what the crazy thing is?

I did not have one anxious thought enter my mind before or during the presentation. None at all.

And I know it was God. I’ve prayed so much that I would be delivered from anxiety, and I really believe that I have. Monday was proof. I could not have done that without God’s strength.

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I also visited a school today and spoke to them about pursuing dreams at a young age as well. =)

It’s crazy how terrifying something can appear from a distance–but once you get closer to it, you realize it is not at all the giant that you perceived it to be in your head.

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The fact that I have had so many obstacles thrown in my path to prevent me from public speaking proves even more that this is part of my calling.

Of course, this isn’t always the case. Many times God will close doors to keep us from moving forward.

But it is usually easy to tell the difference between what is God and what is Satan: God brings peace; Satan brings confusion.

The confusion that has held me back has come in the form of self-doubt, intimidation, fear, insecurity, and sickness.

And you know what the crazy thing is? Months earlier, the idea of public speaking still terrified me. I wanted to do it, and I knew God wanted me to as well.

Yet I still did everything I could to prolong it even further.

These past few weeks, however, I haven’t felt panicked at all at the thought of it. Instead, I have been thrilled at the idea of witnessing what would happen when I finally stepped out onto the water!

And it was perfect.

After my presentation on Monday, one of the moms that was there offered to pray for me. She held my hands and lead everyone in prayer while the other moms in the room placed their hands on me as well.

It was so special, such a perfect way to kick off my book tour.

Also, I received this in the mail the other day . . .

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It’s a copy of GUIDE Magazine, a Christian tween magazine that has my article on the front cover! It’s about the true story of how God answered my prayers with a puppy when I was little. You can order a copy on Oct. 18th. =)

Also, another article of mine has been accepted by DEVOZINE, the teen imprint of Upper Room Magazine. I’ll let you know when that is in print, too!

And . . . I have such great news! I am having to bite my tongue to keep from announcing it, but I can’t say anything yet since it isn’t exactly official.

But I am SO excited, though. And you will be, too! 😉 (Just make sure to sign up for my newsletter on my official blog for updates!)

This journey is exciting.

I am finally realizing why God has separated me apart from others my age. Why I have never quite fit.

In middle and high school, I hated this about myself. I wanted to be more extroverted. I wanted to be able to go to school and cheerleading practice without feeling lonely the entire time because I just couldn’t seem to connect with anyone.

When I was in 9th grade — Photo courtesy of Jake Simpson Photography

But I am now grateful for this, grateful that God has set me apart. I know it has been for a reason: To accomplish His will through me. Because He is now using that very quality I have despised so much about myself for His glory.

And it makes it so completely and totally worth it.

I can’t wait to see where He leads me next!

Now, in honor of PURPLE MOON’S anniversary . . . 

I know this is the longest post ever–but in honor of my book’s one year anniversary, I wanted to share with you some pictures of “book” samples that I wrote when I was little.

I hope you enjoy (or at least get a good laugh)! =D

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{Sipping on: Folgers coffee with cinnamon, almond milk, coconut oil, and stevia}
{Listening to: for King and Country’s new album}