Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blitz : The Secrets We Kept

How to Deal with Writer’s Block [Fear]

This is probably one of the most popular questions an author receives, and I’m happy to share my insights about writer’s block in hopes that more aspiring writers will know the truth, which is that writer’s block does not exist.
What we refer to as ‘writer’s block’ is instead typically one of three things: fear, resistance, or lack of planning. In this guest post, I want to especially address fear because I believe it’s something that every writer faces, but it’s also something every writer can overcome.
Writing is like translating your secrets into written words, secrets that up until that point have only existed as precious thoughts within your soul. As such, this story you’re aching to share is dear to you, and chances are you’ve envisioned the final draft of your words in every form imaginable countless times.
Then you sit at your computer and start to type, and the words you string together are nothing like the magnum opus you’ve dreamed of. Far from it, in fact.
So fear sets in.
You fear that what you create will fall leagues below the expectations you’ve set in your mind. You fear that you’re too inexperienced to tell the story in a masterful way. You fear that you’re incapable of crafting it so that it’s nothing short of brilliant. You fear that you’re not good enough to be the storyteller. You fear what people will say, what people won’t say, and what either scenario says about the value of your contribution to the world.
Take a look at this quote:
Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper…I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself."
—Ann Patchett, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
Do you need to forgive yourself?
The secret is: everyone feels this way! When it comes to writing, sharing your message, and baring your soul for all the world to see, we’re all scared out of our minds. But my belief is this: if you’ve been given a message or story that’s burning in your heart, a story you know people need to hear, then you have an obligation to share it with as many people as possible.
It doesn’t matter how small you feel, how inadequate you feel, how incapable you feel, etc…people are depending on you to courageously step forth and shine your light and touch their hearts with your story. And to them, it doesn’t matter whether you sound like a J.K. Rowling, a John Green, a Suzanne Collins, or any of the present greats—they just want to feel something as a result of reading your words.
So the next time fear creeps in and your courage has its tail between its legs, remind yourself of this: This is my story to share, and I have everything I need to tell it in the way that only I can tell it.
At the heart of everything that you’ve ever read that moved you, touched you, changed your life, there was a writer’s fear. And a writer’s determination to say what he had to say in spite of that fear.

Jeff Bulas

The Secrets We Kept by Lily Velez

Publication date: November 8th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble


One year. That’s how long it’s been since childhood sweethearts Sully Graham and Cadence Gilbertson broke up, since one adoption and one out-of-state move turned their worlds upside down.

Suddenly, Cadence is back in New York City, but something’s different about her. The light in her eyes, the music in her laughter, the warmth in her smile—all of those things have entirely vanished. In their place stand the makings of a girl Sully can’t even begin to recognize, much less understand.

Still, despite the collective history of heartbreak between them, he’s convinced he can win her trust again, and he’s committed to proving the invincibility of their love no matter what it takes.

But Cadence is quietly harboring secrets of her own. Dark secrets. Ugly secrets. Secrets that could break a person. And though broken herself and unbearably lonely, she’s determined to protect Sully from her terrible, biting truths. Even if it means locking him out of her life forever.

The only problem is it seems her heart hasn’t quite received the memo. One glimpse of him is all it takes for her to trip into familiar (and, she’ll admit, addictive) feelings that threaten to all but consume her. Now her biggest fear is that her secrets will begin to slowly unravel one by one…long before Sully’s resolve ever does.

The Secrets We Kept is a moving story about first love, friendship, and forgiveness, and the enduring bonds that forever connect us and give us our strength.


Sully still remembered the first time that he saw Cadence. It was a sweltering summer that year. Push-cart ice cream vendors roamed the neighborhood blocks like soldiers on patrol, circling playgrounds and community swimming pools. It was common to see people pop open fire hydrants like champagne bottles, children dancing in the shoots of water as miniature rainbows reflected off the asphalt.

Sully and his brother, twelve and ten years old at the time, were living with the Petersons back then along with a tribe of foster siblings. Ol’ Man Peterson was a Vietnam vet with PTSD and a short-fuse temper that exploded so quickly, it was like his personality had a gas leak. Usually, maintaining a thirty-foot distance from the man at all times was insurance against his drunken rampages. His military pedigree had bred in him a no-nonsense adherence to hard work and, where appropriate, hard discipline—both of which were far less easy to escape.

The hard work in particular manifested in the Peterson prison as an endless checklist of chores (otherwise known as “slave labor” in the Spencer Graham lexicon), the completion or lack thereof of which determined whether or not you ate dinner that night. Additionally, each child had to fulfill their assigned task in accordance with certain standards, and as Ol’ Man Peterson was an uncompromising perfectionist, one chore could go through three to five rounds before the man extended a grunt of approval.

The afternoon Cadence arrived, Sully and Spencer were attached to yard work. While the Peterson walk-up sat only a few yards from the curb, which meant there barely existed a lawn between the chain-link fence and the front door, Ol’ Man Peterson preferred his grass cut to an exact height. It was taking painstaking precision to perfect his science.

Spencer lay on his stomach with a see-through ruler to measure the blades of grass. “I think you cut this side of the walkway too short.”

Sully rested a broom atop his shoulders, arms draping over it like a scarecrow. “It’s way too hot to even care, dude.”

“I care because I want to see the new Adam Sandler, movie and I’m not about to get grounded for another weekend.”

“How many times have I been grounded because of you?”

Spencer stood. “Whatever. I’m taking over sweeping duty.” He stretched out a hand to receive the broom, but Sully’s gaze had already shifted to a royal blue SUV parking alongside the curb. A woman emerged from the driver’s side. She came around to open the backseat door closest to the Peterson home. Two ballet flats appeared from under the door, reaching for the street. When the woman closed the door, a girl who looked to be Sully’s age or slightly younger stood with her, hands bracketed to the straps of her backpack and her bottom lip caught softly under her front teeth.

Spencer snapped in Sully’s face. “Hellooo? Earth to Sully.” Sully nodded toward the two, and when Spencer turned and saw them, he said, “Uh oh. Another casualty.”
The woman, clearly the girl’s caseworker, greeted the boys with a cheery “working hard?” before continuing up the walkway with her charge. Sully waited for the girl to look his way, and when she finally did, he offered her a soft, barely-there smile by way of hello. Part greeting, part commiseration. She instantly looked away.

They discovered her name only because she was sharing a bunk-bed with their friend Novah. “Cadence Livingston,” she told them. “She’s been in the system for a few years. She doesn’t talk much. Or at all. Those are the only things I was able to get from her. She’s probably halfway to being a mute.”

“I wish Spencer was a mute,” Sully muttered.

“Ha ha,” Spencer said. “You’re so funny. Absolutely hilarious. How did I get so lucky to have a brother like you?” Then he excused himself to see about fixing the eyesore Sully had made of the front lawn and left Sully fixated on the enigma of the quiet and elusive Cadence Livingston.

Author Bio:

Lily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she’s not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. You can learn more about Lily and her books at

Lily’s debut novel, The Secrets We Kept, comes out November 8, 2015.

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