Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Hitting the Mark with Amy Durham

I am pleased to welcome author Amy Durham back to Writer Wednesday! Amy has a captivating new release, Asher's Mark, a New Adult Romance book. Please check out the book's description, excerpt and buy links after Amy's wonderful guest post about doing the hard stuff.

THE HARD STUFF
by Amy Durham

My oldest son is a junior in high school. YIKES! It seems like just yesterday I was writing about him on my website as he was beginning middle school!
High school is a really fun stage in his life, as he's discovering the things he loves to do, fine-tuning the things he's good at, and beginning to make decisions about his future. I'm enjoying every minute of watching him become a young man.

When he was a freshman, he auditioned for All-State band for the first time. This is a rigorous audition process - that involves 2 different "cuts" - to determine the very best instrumentalists in the state. For his instrument (French Horn), only 20 players from the entire state are selected each year. He made it through the first cut, finishing 5th overall in our district. Already a tremendous accomplishment for a freshman competing against students who are sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school. When he didn't make it through the second cut to be one of the 20 selected, he was bummed. So was I. But not too terribly disappointed.

We had a talk about what it meant to do the "hard stuff". Auditioning for All-State band, especially as a freshman, was hard. He didn't have to do it. He CHOSE to do it. And choosing to do the "hard stuff" is how we improve, how we grow, and how we eventually "get there". There's such value in doing the hard stuff. When we stretch ourselves past what is comfortable or easy, that's where we find who we truly are. Where, after several tries, we find success.

I told him it was sort of like writing a book. Writing a book is not easy, as all authors know. It's difficult, toiling, gut-wrenching work. It takes a long time and can drain you mentally and emotionally. But authors choose to do it, because we know that by "doing the hard stuff" and stretching ourselves beyond where we're comfortable, a book eventually comes to fruition. And with each "stretch" and each "completed product", we grow and improve.

This idea is true no matter what area you pursue. So... dream big... run, don't walk toward the things you want most out of life... even if it means you have to do the hard stuff. It's always worth it in the end!

I agree with what Amy says in her post. It's all too easy to slip into a comfort zone, doing the same thing day-after-day more because it's comfortable than because it's the best thing for us. I retired from the practice of law last year and threw myself off of a proverbial cliff to pursue a writing career. And boy, is it a hard thing! A full year later, I still feel like I'm trying to figure out my day, my routine and truly own my choice. But I can absolutely agree with Amy that doing the "hard stuff" is worth it. 

Back to Asher's Mark, Amy's newest release:

Asher's Mark Book Description:

Asher's Mark by Amy Durham
Grace Ballard has been in love with Asher Howell for a long time. When she was sixteen, he became her hero, and she fell head over heels for the boy with a ring through his eyebrow, a big heart, and an unending sense of justice. But two years ago he left for college without a backward glance, leaving Grace to wonder if she'd imagined everything.

With no reason to wait for Asher to return, Grace moved on, and Asher's brother, Adam, stepped in to help her pick up the pieces. But Asher never left her thoughts ... or her heart.

Now, two years later, tragedy brings Asher home and back into Grace's life. The boy who left her behind is now very much a man - a licensed tattoo artist, much to his parents' dismay, and still carrying a major torch for Grace. But two years apart has changed them both, and the things that happened during their separation may create a divide that can't be crossed.

Asher and his brother both left their mark on Grace's heart. Will Asher's be able to stand the test of time?


** This New Adult romance features characters 18 years and older. However, this title does not carry a content warning, indicating readers should be over the age of 17.

Would you like a little preview? You've got it. Here's an excerpt of Asher's Mark:

Asher
I'm kissing Grace. Finally.
Every molecule in my body screams with the rightness of it. How had I ever thought I could stay away from her? How could I have put so much distance between us?
         I have no answers. All I know is that my arms are locked around her as her mouth fuses to mine, and I never want to let her go.
         There are all sorts of reasons I shouldn't be doing this... namely Adam... but I can't stop. I don't want to. Something in me shouts I saw her first! Two years of wanting her, loving her, have finally exploded between us. She's in my arms. In my lap. Under my skin. In my heart. She is everywhere and everything.
         Maybe to her it's just a way to forget. A way to stop thinking about losing Adam. But I just don't care. I don't care at all.
         All that matters is that we are together in this moment.
         I pull back a fraction of an inch, still hugging her close. Her golden green eyes are glassy and gorgeous, hazy with the desire we just stirred up. Strands of her auburn hair have escaped her ponytail and now hang wistfully around her face. She's so beautiful it makes me ache.
         She doesn't look upset, which is a relief. I thought I'd gauged her reaction correctly, but I'm glad to know I was right.
         She'd wanted to kiss me just as badly as I'd wanted to kiss her.
         I refuse to think too much about the ramifications of it.
         I run my hands up her back, from her waist to her shoulder blades, pulling her toward me again. Pressing a kiss to one eyelid, then the next, I take a deep breath and speak.
         "Mom's gonna text me any minute," I say, already dreading the moment I'll walk out her door. But I know it'll be better to leave now, while things are still dreamy between us.
         Grace nods, letting her hands slide out of my hair, over my shoulders, then coming to rest on my chest. My stomach flips over.
         No one's ever made me feel like this. Not even close. A simple touch from Grace does so much more than...
         I shove that thought way down and slam a lid on it, knowing that after all the stuff I've done the past year to try and forget Grace, I shouldn't even be touching her.
         "I should go," I whisper, leaning in to brush another kiss on her lips. "Before she gets antsy."
         Grace smiles. "Okay."
         "I don't want to, though." I grin back at her.
         All this talk about me leaving, and yet she's still on my lap and my arms are still wrapped around her. If I don't go now, I might not ever.
         I stand up, taking her with me and placing her feet on the floor. I grab my button-up shirt from the love seat, throw it over my shoulder, and turn back to face her. Our hands find their way to each other, fingers lacing together as we walk toward the door.
         I shift close before opening the door, intending to ask if I can see her tomorrow. On the bulletin board by the light switch, I see the picture... the picture I drew her just before I left for Flagstaff two years ago. Had it been there the night before? I think back and realize it wasn't. It must’ve been covered up by the big picture of Grace and Adam.
         Between last night and tonight she'd uncovered my picture. My mind races with what that might mean. I open my mouth, unsure what I'm about to say.
         But she speaks before I do.
         "We should probably talk about..." She doesn't finish the sentence.
         But I know she means Adam.
         The guilt bounces around inside me, but I can't find it in myself to regret what just happened. What I hope very much will happen again. Very soon.
         "Later." I reach up and push a stray tendril of hair behind her ear, my hand lingering on the soft skin of her neck. "I know we'll have to, but not right now. I just want to feel this right now."
         She nods. "Me too."
         Leaving her right then is about the hardest thing I've ever done, but I do it, before something ruins what was absolutely the most perfect moment of my life.

*     *     *
If you'd like to check out more of Asher's Mark, please use these handy buy links:




Author Amy Durham
After spending every work day with classrooms full of tweens and teens, then going home to three boys of her own, two of whom fall into the tween/teen category, you'd think that Amy Durham might like to leave the world of teens and young adults behind. Not so!
Instead, she spends her spare moments - which sometimes consist of waiting twenty minutes for her oldest kiddo to get out of band practice - with her laptop and a multitude of teenage characters trying to navigate their way through the twisted, difficult road of adolescence.
You might ask... "Why Young/New Adult Fiction"? Well, because it's what she knows. As a teacher and a parent, Amy is around teens and young adults on an almost constant basis. And while it's true they can be - ahem - challenging, they are also full of life, vision, and dreams. And that's a really cool place to be.
Young Adult and New Adult Fiction allows young readers the opportunity to find hope for the situations they find themselves in, find determination to keep on going, and courage to pursue their dreams. It also allows adult readers the chance to revisit the exuberance of youth, remember the joy and poignancy of first love, and recall how it felt to dream with abandon.
Amy Durham is a wife and mother, an author, a teacher, an avid reader, and a musician. If she weren’t writing books, she'd be a celebrity chef!

You can touch base with Amy here:

Twitter - @amy_durham
Instagram - @authoramydurham