Tingling all over with the announcement of the second book in my Status Updates series, It's Over, releasing April 19!
Book cover for the sequel to It's Complicated, It's Over. Photograph by Kelci Alane Photography. Cover Design by Angela Llammas.
HOW CAN YOU MOVE ON WHEN IT'S OVER?
When four college roommates lose pieces of their lives, the pain isolates and the tension rises. Emotions are hard to hide and even harder to tackle. How can the girls move forward, when there is so much pain in letting go? Together, Claire, Kat, Palmer and Hannah learn to lean on God and each other, and through it all they learn loss is a part of life."In It's Over, Laura L. Smith confirms the truth we've been told that we are never alone in the midst of heartache and struggle. In fact, she takes us to a place where we not only get to see, but feel deeply the truth of the fact that every single one of us has a story. Every single one of has experienced pain. But more importantly, that every single one of us has great hope. Laura L. Smith's writing strikes a deep chord in my heart. It makes sense. It's real--and in my opinion, that transparency makes all the difference." ~Holly Starr, Christian recording artist
"Laura Smith speaks for the broken. With a voice that’s warm and true, Laura gives words to those rendered speechless by issues that high school and college girls should never have to deal with—but so many of them do. In writing that’s raw, relevant, and real, Smith goes where few authors dare to go: straight into the heart of today’s young woman." ~Amy Parker, bestselling author of Courageous Teens
"YA author, Laura L. Smith crafts another story that will appeal to all girls, because no one is untouched by heartache in all its forms. The grace Smith extends the four girls in It's Over will touch readers in deep ways, as they follow these characters through some of the worst parts of life. Best of all, they'll cheer when the girls lean on one another and find ways to be thankful in everything. This is a fantastic read, one that will resonate with teens, college girls and their mothers." ~Laura Kurk, author of Glass Girl
What trophies from past accomplishments are on your shelves?
I have recently staked out a spot in our house, complete with windows and bookshelves, to be my very own writing nook. I L-O-V-E it! I’ve placed a handful of photos of my favorite places and people on the corner of my desk. I painted the walls a lovely smoky, pale lilac and one square with white board paint, so I can dry erase writing ideas at will. I’ve set my cool pottery coaster in place, so my coffee cup always has a home.
But in order to claim this space, I had to clean.
I had to dig through existing cupboards and go through baskets and file organizers in my previous writing space, a.k.a. the corner of our living room. I found everything from paper clips to business cards of people I don’t remember meeting, from an array of neon sticky notes and magazine images to old plaques and certificates. It was simple to put binder clips in the little organizer on my desk and to recycle hand scribbled notes for articles, blogs and books I’ve already written. But there was this stack of awards from my past that perplexed me. How long had I kept them? Better yet, why?
When I leased shopping malls a new store, like J.Crew, was like a merit badge of worth in my career.
As I lugged the load of metal and wood and paper to the garbage can, I laughed. There was something extremely freeing about no longer being tied by measurements of how many dollars of clothes I sold (my short career as a manager at the Limited) or how many square feet I’d leased (my longer career in shopping mall development). There was a time when those stats, and the status that went with them, were extremely important to me. But those things are irrelevant now, so I pitched them with a hearty heave.
And the next day, I stumbled across this passage:
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. ~Philippians 3:7-9 MSG
And yes, I giggled at the mention of dog dung in the Bible, then marveled, how liberating it felt to let go of past credentials. But my trip to the garbage was easy. I’m no longer trying to sell the most wool coats or trying to convince J. Crew to come into all of the malls I lease. I’m happy I can let go of the past, but it’s a piece of cake, since those things aren’t relevant to me anymore.
What’s harder is the here and now.
I have two new novels releasing next month. Will I be able to consider my rank on Amazon insignificant? Will I be able to let less than glowing reviews (everybody gets some) slide off my back? I hope so. I’m praying I won’t get tied up in those numbers or any other worldly measures, for that matter. But it isn’t always easy. Today, I’m mentally throwing away earthly labels claiming how good I was or wasn’t. And I’m praying I can keep carrying more bags of garbage out to the curb.
How about you? What’s the craziest old trophy you have sitting around?
Two women running in the wintery woods
I have a friend who makes me run in freezing cold conditions. Yesterday it was nineteen degrees outside and with the wind chill it felt like seven, as in single digits. And yes, we ran – IN THE WOODS - OUTSIDE!
I love to run outside, but come on. I get cold so easily. I’m currently writing this indoors with the heat on, wearing a jacket and sipping my Starbucks (which I just reheated). I have permashiver in my bones.
I’ve tried getting out of these runs before.
I’ve texted: looks too chilly for me
and my friend texts back: bundle up
I'll need to type frantically to finish my manuscript next week!
There are so many things that don’t seem doable, like running in seven degrees, who would do that? But there are bigger things too, like finishing the manuscript I’m working on by the end of next week or completely forgiving someone in my life, who I’m currently holding a grudge against, tightly. There are challenging moments in scheduling, everyday kind of life, like getting my four kids to all of their practices and games while my husband is in Sri Lanka or maneuvering the roads this morning after the ice storm that hit last night. (Did I mention I’m not that strong of a driver?) But with Christ all things are possible, and my friend pushing me to run outside on a freezing cold morning, is the perfect reminder.
One of my all time favorite Bible verses Phillipians 4:13
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Not some things, or the easy things or the convenient things, but ALL THINGS. So what things are you struggling with today? What seems difficult or inconvenient or tricky or down right impossible? There is a way around, through, over or under it. For me and my run, it meant wearing long underwear, gloves, “heat wear” and my Columbia. And you know what, our run through the woods was invigorating. I saw the beautiful patterns of water frozen in motion on an icy stream. I breathed in fresh, clean, crisp air after days and nights of stale air recirculated from dusty heaters. The cold breeze on my cheeks revived my senses. I shared laughter and stories with a friend and allowed my mind and body to fall into the healing rhythm of a run.
Not only is the impossible possible, it usually provides an invigorating path for discovery. What’s overwhelming you today? I’d love to pray for you to find your way through it.
The glass pyramids imitating the outside of the Louvre, hallmarking the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
“I can begin again.” New Year’s Day by U2
I spent New Year’s Day 2013 soaking in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Barely visible amidst Elvis’ outlandish purple Cadillac with “EP” blazed on every seat cushion, tire and door (no lie), John Lennon’s neon green silk Sergeant Pepper’s uniform and Katy Perry’s memorable peppermint dress were my two favorite artifacts in the multi level, glass pyramid of a museum (a copy of the Louvre in Paris).
Elvis Presley's purple Cadillac
My favorites weren’t bright or shiny or glitzy or even psychedelic, like all the items I believe rock stars own and save and cherish. They were small and flat and plain. They were rejection letters.
John Lennon's Sergeant Peppers uniform
As a writer I get my share of rejection letters. You might think looking at others’ rejections would be torture. But, actually it’s the opposite. You see, these weren’t random rejection letters written to bands you’ve never heard of like Carl and the Crazies or the Keyboard Lizards, these were rejection letters written to U2.
In 1979 RSO sent a letter to P. Hewson, Bono’s real name, stating the demo tape he mailed “titled U2 is not suitable for us at present". The letter was written on Bono’s 19th birthday. I hope he got a decent cake.
Katy Perry in her peppermint dress
Around the same time Arista Records sent U2 a form rejection letter, the kind they sent to hundreds of bands with just a preprinted signature, and without details of why the band was being turned down.
But those rejections did not make U2 quit. It gave them fodder to begin again. To make another tape, to send it to another label, to try again.
One year later, Island Records signed U2. They went on to become one of the biggest selling bands in the world. Over 7.2 million fans attended U2’s 360 Tour, more than any other fans attending any other tour - ever. U2 has won more Grammy awards than any other band, ever. 22.
U2 the band with the most Grammy awards of any band, ever.
But what if Bono and the boys had listened to RSO or Arista? What if they took those rejections as signs they didn’t have what it takes? That they weren’t good enough? That their sound wouldn’t resonate? That they should give up?
What hill are you climbing today? Who’s told you “no” recently? What roadblocks are you encountering?
What if instead of listening to the negativity, you tried one more time – took the SAT or LSAT one more time to improve your score, auditioned for one more play, ran one more race, applied to one more internship or job, sent one more song to a record label?
Hills are rarely easy to climb. Sometimes they reveal themselves as careening mountains.
But the view from the top of the mountain is glorious.
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lift me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay
I will sing, sing a new song
Psalm 40 by King David and revamped by U2 in their song “40”
What new song can you sing today? Where can you begin again?
You can't measure your personal growth with a tape measure - so how can you measure your growth in the new year?
Remember a time when someone said that to you? It typically happens when you see family you haven’t seen for a while - like over the holidays. How about “you look so grown up!”
And then you get spun around like a sweater off the rack at Nordstrom’s and feel like you’re on display for everyone in the room to examine your growth or grown-upedness. It used to make me uncomfortable with the sudden attention everyone turned to me, make me roll my eyes or look the down. But at some point I stopped growing, physically. And now, it’s rude for someone to say I look older or bigger.
But I hope I haven’t stopped growing. I hope I never will.
I want to speak French more fluently in 2013 - what are some of your goals?
In 2013 I want to grow. I want to grow so much it’s visible. I want to grow in my faith and in my writing. I want to speak French more fluently and learn some new healthy, tasty, not overly complicated recipes. I want to learn how to rock a killer headstand in yoga.
How do I start? Well, I just did. I wrote down some goals, some places in my life I want to grow. Next, I need to be more specific. How am I going to amp up my faith? What writing projects do I want to tackle in 2013? When do I want them to be completed? Who do I want to reach through them? How many recipes do I want to learn how to make each month? How much time a week am I able and willing to spend on my passé parfait? By when should I be able to do that headstand, and for how long should I be able to hold the pose?
Now, the action. What can I do today, this week, before Christmas break is over to launch these plans for growing into reality? How about you?
Growing is an integral part of being. It is our way of getting closer to the best versions of ourselves.
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6
God will start this work, but it’s our job to keep at it. How about you? Where would you like to grow in 2013? How are you going to tackle it?
Skinny a novel about self image, eating disorders and a relationship with Christ is FREE on Kindle this week
Melissa Rollins is juggling all the balls in the air; dance team, freshman year of high school, new girl friends, a new boyfriend, grades. And it's all going quite well, it always has, until there are too many balls in the air to juggle anymore. She feels like her life is spinning out of control. How can Melissa be accepted and appreciated when there are so many pressures to be perfect? How can she gain back a little bit of that control?
Download your FREE copy this week only on Kindle:
Have you ever met someone who you knew God introduced to you to somehow, someway alter and enhance your life? Laura Anderson Kurk is one of these people. I haven't known her for long, but already I feel like I've known her forever. We both write stories for young women, live in college towns, and yeah, the "Laura" thing. So, today, I want to introduce you to Laura and give you a chance to win her book Glass Girl. You'll be hearing more about her in the future. God will make sure of that. In the meantime, read her insights on "Indie Girls" and the deets on how to win her book.
GUEST BLOG BY LAURA ANDERSON KURK, AUTHOR OF GLASS GIRL
Girl boots and boy boots under a table photo courtesy of Cary Anne Photography
A few weeks ago, my daughter and I had a conversation about the minefield of middle school and how the girls who'd seemed unique and awesome in lower grades suddenly looked like copies of one another. One day--cool, relaxed and confident. The next day--clingy, rubber-stamped robots. I told her the same thing happened when I was in middle school and when her grandmother was in middle school. It's just that weird middle school thing that happens when we stumble a little with confidence. The conversation came about because my daughter had talked to a girl in the hall that morning while they were waiting for the bell to ring. This was a girl she had never talked to before. They moved in different circles, respectfully distant. The girl said—"Hey, I've always wanted to tell you that I like your style. Most people here are too afraid to be different but you aren't and I really respect that." That was it....the whole conversation. I think my daughter swallowed her tongue and then went on with her day in her cool, vintage way. But the girl's words stuck with her. And they emboldened her and went a long way toward making her feel more confident. It got me thinking, again, about the power of words. And the power YOU hold when you reach across the chasms you think are between you and the other girls at school. So here’s what’s up. I want you to try to encourage one girl at school tomorrow. Spend tonight thinking about who needs words from you. Who is out there, trying to do her own thing, and thinking no one notices her? I know that applies to you--you think no one notices you. But watch what happens when you toss a pebble in the school pond and compliment someone who needs it. The ripple effect is a beautiful thing, girls. And soon you'll see those little waves coming back to you. You've heard me talk about "art bombing" a bit over on my blog. Well, now we're going to "compliment bomb." It'll be fun, trust me. And don't forget to come back here and tell us what you did, said, and saw. We're all in this together, learning how to feel our way toward comfort. Here's something, too, that makes me smile. Even the "Indie" girls admit that they're just another fashion trend. There's a Wiki on How to Be Indie. (You can take the "How Indie Are You" quiz here if you're interested.) I think it's okay, though, because what's cool about "Indie" is the attitude of acceptance they have for others. Once you realize everyone is trying hard to be noticed and accepted, your viewpoint changes and you're suddenly more approachable and accessible. Your heart is open to people. There's nothing cooler than that. Trust me. “Watch the way you talk . . . . Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29 msg
beautiful teenager pondering her gifts photo courtesy of Sydney Gass Photogaphy
photo courtesy of Cary Anne Photography
FREE BOOK DEETS: Laura Anderson Kurk’s debut YA novel Glass Girl is available now. You can win a free copy by being one of the first twenty people to comment below, or share this post on Facebook or Tweet about it on Twitter. Just make sure to let me know if you FB or tweet, so you can be included in the drawing.
fall leaves in yellow, orange, red and green scattered on the ground - which one do you like best?
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
So, who is the fairest of them all? Taylor Swift? Gabby Douglas? Selena Gomez? How about _________ (insert your name here)?
Hard to pick, isn’t it? Impossible maybe.
You see, God created Taylor with thick blonde hair and an amazing voice. He gave Gabby a strong body, dark coloring and a killer smile. When God created Selena he gave her full cheeks and lips and chocolate eyes. They are all stunning.
And so are you.
On a recent run as I crunched through the leaves, I was stopped in my tracks, mesmerized by the stunning beauty of fall foliage that had floated to the pavement. Reds, oranges, yellows and greens, oaks, maples, beech and leaves I couldn’t even identify. Their damp, sweetness filled my nose. What a gorgeous collage of color! As I wondered at the beauty of leaves changing color I kept telling myself, “Wow, that one is so pretty.” And as I shifted my gaze, “Oh my gosh, that one is spectacular.” And then looking at the leaf overlapping it I thought, “The way that one is streaked with red is amazing.”
Which leaf is your favorite in the photo above? Hard to choose isn’t it?
Because each and every leaf that falls from the ground is magnificently designed by the greatest artist of all time – not Van Gogh or Magritte, but by God, the Creator. And each and every human is magnificently designed by the greatest artist of all time, you guessed it, God the Creator.
“Walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you?” Matthew 6: 28-30 MSG
Take a look at those leaves again. That’s how God sees us, but even more so. He takes pride in us, each and every one of us. We are all beautiful to him, because He creates us in His image.
Where’s your favorite spot to take in the fall color?
Glasses on an eye exam chart, showing in and out of focus letters of the alphabet.
75% of the United States wears either contacts or glasses, including me.
Most of us struggle to see the world we live in more clearly, sharper, brighter.
I had an eye check up last week, you know the kind where they dilate your pupils with drops and everything is blurry for hours and hours afterwards? It was that kind.
Due to the dilation drops, I spent the rest of the day wishing I could see more clearly. I wished my computer screen wasn’t so bright, so I could write the chapter I’d been plotting for my new manuscript. I wished the words in the book I’m reading weren’t so blurry. I wished I could respond to an email, flip through my latest copy of In Style or even get some early Christmas shopping done online. But nothing smaller than a chocolate chip cookie would come into focus.
How often do I wish I could see God’s plan for me, His vision of me, the way He sees the world -- better, sharper, brighter, more in focus? But sometimes His ways are too bright for me to stare into. Sometimes His plans for me are too far away for me to see clearly. Sometimes, I let the lens of the world distort and twist God’s vision, His plans. So, I beg for clarity like the blind men outside of Jericho:
“Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!” Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession. Matthew 20: 33-34
When I pray, when I actually lean on Him to see how things truly are, I get my sight back. Not always the way I want things to look, like no writing after my eye doctor appointment, even though that’s what I’d planned. But always something amazing, like the wonderful phone call I had with my mom instead.
Lord, I really need to stop right now
Stop now and focus on you
Even with the chaos all around
Stop now and focus on you.
“Focus” by Holly Starr
When friends, magazines, TV shows, work, and other worldly voices try to fill our eyes with drops of advice and expectations and pressures to dilute His view of us, all we have to do is call out, “I want to see!” and everything comes back into focus.
How has God helped you see something more clearly this week?
The iPhoto screen on my Mac gave me more insight on God and His plans then on mastering my computer.
“Hello, I’m Paul. Fancy we get out of this rubble and find someplace quieter?” I was greeted at the Apple store by the usual friendly smile in a royal blue t-shirt, this time with a British accent.
“Sounds great,” I nodded, eager to escape the din of crazed shoppers clamoring for iPhone 5s.
Paul led me out of the store, down the escalators and to a small café table on the fringe of the food court. “We seem to get a decent signal here.” He pulled out a chair. “What did you have in mind to work on today?”
“PowerPoint.” I opened my Mac with a soft thud. “ I mean, I know how to use PowerPoint, but I want to learn the cool stuff; the animations, inserting my music into just the right places, you know, to make my presentations more impactful.”
Paul slid his Buddy Holly glasses up his nose and frowned. “Don’t do PowerPoint. That’s a Microsoft product.” He lowered his voice to a whisper, “Even if I knew how I wouldn’t be allowed to train you on it. Apple has a similar product you could purchase, but to be honest, if you’re already utilizing PowerPoint I’d stick with that.”
Speechless, I looked at my computer screen for answers. It felt like an apple had dropped into the pit of my stomach. The smells of French fry grease and teriyaki chicken wafted my way. I drove an hour to get to the Apple store. I’m sitting here, just sitting here now. It will take me another hour to get home. I forfeited my time intentionally to learn a specific skill. Three hours of my time.
I looked up to Paul, pleading, as if my needs could overrule store policy, “When I made the appointment on line, I wrote in the notes section I wanted to train on PowerPoint, that’s why I came.”
Paul launched into a crisp explanation of regulations and compatibility and offered to help me with something else. But I didn’t want help with something else. Maybe because I so desperately wanted my excursion to have some value, or maybe because Paul was from Liverpool, and I have always and always will love the Beatles, or maybe it was a dare, but I challenged, “Okay, Paul. Since I’m here. Show me something spectacular I can do with my Mac.”
“Do you have pictures?” He asked in his brisk accent. “Because I’m a photographer, and you can do some truly brilliant things. Let’s take a look.” Paul clicked on my iPhoto pulling up shots of scenery I’m using as the setting for my new book. As he propelled into a tutorial on adjusting saturation and shadows, goose bumps climbed up my arms. Now, I knew why I was here, why God brought me to this place.
“You’re a photographer?” I sat up in my hard metal chair. “Do you ever shoot in film? Or only digital? Because, I’m an author.” I confessed, something I rarely share with strangers. “And the character in the book I’m writing is a photographer. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”
And just like that my failed appointment turned into a golden opportunity. Paul and I spent our hour not on PowerPoint, but chatting about filters and tripods and dark rooms. It was the perfect interview I could have never planned. I went to the mall searching for help with my computer skills. Instead, God gave me phrases, and terms and tidbits that only a true photographer would know, adding authenticity and depth to my newest novel.
You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need Philippians 4:19 MSG
And I could tell, oddly, it made Paul’s day too. He glowed as he discussed his passion for photography with me.
God always knows exactly what I need. He always provides, even when I get frustrated and bothered and annoyed, and can’t see what He’s up to. I left the mall warm, content and excited with the sensation of absorbing the sun’s rays on the beach. I was bursting with gratitude and awe for the plans God has for me, and how He brings them to fruition.
What hiccup did you run into today? How do you think God will use it as part of His amazing plan?