Self-Publishing Is Like Homeschooling?

“I’m going to start school on Monday!” I exclaimed excitedly to my friend, Anna, as we decorated the sidewalk with colorful chalk patterns.

“I am, too,” Anna replied.  “What school will you be going to?”

“I’m going to be homeschooled,” I declared proudly and confidently, wiping my hands on my blue jeans and smearing chalk dust into the denim material.

“Well,” Anna responded, and lifted her nose into the air ever-so-slightly.  “I’m going to real school.”


I was confused.  Wasn’t I going to real school, too?

Later, as my mom combed my hair after my bath, I asked, “Mom, why can’t I go to real school?”

“What do you mean?” she inquired.

I explained what Anna had said earlier.

“Lydia,” my mom said, “you are going to real school.”

Above is an excerpt from my very first research paper in college level English, entitled I Went to Real School.  In spite of the confident title, it was my first semester in college, and I was trying to argue that my seventeen year old, homeschooled self belonged in a classroom with all of those people who’d had a real education.  In fact, I continued trying to prove this for several semesters, in spite of being commended by my professor for going over and above on assignments (read: I did them and turned them in on time) and going on to take and excel in honors courses.

Then, I took an English Lit class, and received lower grade than I would have liked (read: it was a low B) on a critical analysis of a short story.  The professor asked me to stay after class and essentially told me my paper was the worst she had ever seen before demanding the names of my freshmen English professors (one of them being an honors instructor) and my high school English teacher.  She was puzzled hearing the names of my English professors, but when I said I was homeschooled, she seemed to have an ‘aha’ moment.

I. was. in. tears.  (Not to mention my completely panicked state that this professor thought my low B merited asking me to stay after class.  I was homeschooled, you guys, I’d never been asked to stay behind after class).

“You turned in a two page paragraph,” she informed me, exasperated.

That’s when I realized: this monstrosity she was referring to was not. my. paper.

When I explained this, the professor was horrified and apologized profusely.

That was the day I decided I didn’t need to prove the reality of my homeschool education anymore.  In fact, it was the beginning of a journey towards realizing I probably never needed to in the first place.

So what’s the self-publishing connection?

Writers are all-too-often not seen as “real” authors, nor their writing as “real” work until given that stamp of approval by a “real” publisher.  Even writers themselves hold this opinion.  By this logic, even among some people I know, I’m not actually an author at all, despite my moniker being Lydia Thomas, Author basically everywhere you look.  Some people are genuinely offended that I have the nerve to call myself a writer, let alone an author. (Google “famous authors on self-publishing” if you don’t believe me).

But the facts remain.

I am a real writer.

I am a real author.

More importantly than anything I can say about myself (and there is a lot I could say), the people I care about know just how real I am.

But this post is not about my very real accomplishments as a writer and an independently-published author.

This post is to remind us that just because a way of doing something is different, or maybe just not how we would go about it, doesn’t make it any less real.  Perhaps it would be better to admit we just don’t understand, and maybe instead of oversharing our own opinions, we should ask good questions and try to grow in understanding.

Of course, that’s just me, being idealistic.

The sharper point is that whether people understand the decisions I make (and the decisions my parents made for me back before I had a choice) or not, I will never doubt my being a real writer and author.  And since I’m not doubtful about it, I don’t feel the need to prove or defend the decisions I make as a writer and author.

Been there, done that.  With homeschooling.  Remember?

If I ever forget, here’s a little reminder from my freshman English professor on I Went to Real School: “If you’re writing’s any indication, home-schooling enhanced your educational process marvelously!  Excellent writing as usual, Lydia.  Keep writing – you don’t want that prodigious talent to go to waste.”







One Year To Live

How WOuld You Live

As many of you have heard, over the past several weeks, I’ve had the honor of being a part of the launch team for Nadine Brandes’ new book, A Time to Die.  The book takes place in a dystopian society where people are given clocks at conception – clocks that count down the years, days, hours, minutes until they die. The story opens at the beginning of Parvin Blackwater’s final year and follows her as she tackles how to live it.  I’ve joined with several bloggers and the author in a blog hop that wrestles with this question: If I had one year left to live, how would I live it? (You will find links to their responses at the end of this post).

Blog Hop Button #3

As I began to ponder this question – how would I live if I only had one year left? – through reading A Time to Die and other people’s responses, two Bible passages came to my mind, and they haven’t left.  One is in Ephesians and the other in Colossians, but both have a common phrase: “Make the most of every opportunity.”  The context of the Ephesians and Colossians passages is how believers should live: as light and salt.

I think that is how I would live if I had only one year left.

I can’t express how overwhelmingly tempted I would be to quit my jobs, leave my writing behind, and only spend my time with my family and closest, dearest friends, making new memories.  For me, though, I’ve come to realize that wouldn’t be making the most of every opportunity I’ve been given.  At best, I’d be making the most of one opportunity.

So, I wouldn’t quit my jobs.  In fact, I’d be more intentional about building good relationships with my co-workers and supervisors and (oh gravy) those customers who complain about things I have no control over.  I’d listen more, and offer my opinion less.  I’d ask about their lives, and follow up.

I wouldn’t quit writing.  I am midway through a novel that I’m very convicted about writing, and I have an idea sitting in the back of my head that I know I need to write as well.  If anything, I’d become more disciplined about writing.   I would keep working on my fiction, my blog, and I’d probably write letters to my mom, sisters, and nieces.  My written words would be a way for people to carry me with them even after I’m gone, so I want to leave behind a legacy of grace, courage, love, and truth.

I wouldn’t let the promise of only a year keep me from establishing new relationships.  Of course, I will want to spend a great deal of time with the people I am closest to, but I want to keep putting myself out there and meeting people and growing friendships.

I would unapologetically get rid of purposeless drains on my time and energy.  I would cancel Netflix, stop worrying about what people think or how they’ll respond to the things I do and say, and forget about pursuing having a career.  And, somewhere in there, I’d like to visit my mountain.

The reality is, God is the only One who can see my clock.  I have no guarantees about when I’ll die, but I am guaranteed that this life as I know it will end. Whether that’s in a year or ten or fifty, I want to be able to say that I have made the most of every opportunity.

What about YOU? How would you live if you only had one year left to live?  Comment and let me know!

Blog Hop

About A Time To Die:

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence.

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

A Time to Die released on September 23, 2014 from Enclave Publishing.  You can purchase the Kindle edition here, and pre-order the paperback version here (available October 1).

You can read my review of A Time to Die here.


Make sure you follow Nadine Brandes on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest for more the latest information about A Time to Die and the Out of Time series.

Nadine Brandes Head Shot

And guess what? YOU have an opportunity to win a signed paperback copy of A Time to Die AND a $10 gift card to Amazon! (Exciting, I know).  Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to hear what other people would do with their last years? Click the links below.

9.03.14 – Nadine Brandes

9.08.14 – Ashlee Willis

9.11.14 – Caitlin Schesser

9.15.14 – Jennette Mbewe

9.17.14 – Heather Fitzgerald

9.19.14 – Kristen Stieffel

9.22.14 – Rebekah Gyger

9.25.14 – Lydia Thomas

9.26.14 – Ashley Olson

9.27.14 – Angel Roman

9.28.14 – Rosalie Valentine

9.29.14 – Aubrei Crooke-Adams

9.30.14 – Sarah Grimm

10.01.14 – Jon Del Arroz

10.02.14 – Amy Brandes

10.04.14 – Kathrese McKee

10.07.14 – Karen DeBlieck

10.09.14 – Bethany Jennings

10.10.14 – Angie Brashear

10.13.14 – Adam Collings

10.15.14 – Bree Courtney

10.20.14 – Gretchen Engel

10.24.14 – JC Morrows

10.30.14 – Lisa Gedfries

Let Me Know How Transient I Am

This is a revamped post from the beginning of this year on Wilderness Adventure.  Tomorrow,  I will be tackling the question of how I would live if I have just one year left in conjunction with Nadine Brandes’ newly-released book, A Time to Die. Today, I wanted to address something that is semi-related: the impermanence of life and pretty much everything in it.

“Let me know how transient I am” (Psalm 39:4b NASB).

Transient. Tran·sient. /tranSHənt,-ZHənt,-zēənt/. Lasting only for a short time; impermanent.

I grew up with the verse I quoted above.  It was one of the many chapters my family memorized. It didn’t hit me in the face until recently, though, because I grew up with the King James Version (which uses the word “frail” in place of “transient”), and I hadn’t heard this particular version.

My dad once told me concerning a season of life  that I was transient.  I was wanting to settle, longing to have roots, and he told me I was transient.  I came to understand exactly what he meant by that as I faced more unknowns and variable factors than ever before in that following year, my final year of college.  It made sense.

I thought I would be done knowing my own transience after college.  I thought I would embark on a career, meet and marry someone, start a home, and family.  I thought I would have that settledness, those roots I so desired.  Instead, I jumped into the first job I was offered, a job – to borrow the words of some of my favorite preachers – that took me further and kept me longer than I ever intended.   I spread my time, resources, energy, and talents thin across the DFW metroplex, and changed churches more times than I care to admit.  I have been anything but settled, and if there is anything I’ve learned in my post-grad experience, it’s just how transient I am.

It’s hard.  I still want to be settled, planted.

But I don’t think I’m going to be.

This is the point of this conversation (which I’ve had many times in real life), where my family and dearest friends jump in and say with so much faith, “You will be!”  And they say that because they know my transient state can be really rough, because it’s not at all what I desire, and they don’t want me to give up.

And yet, I’ve accepted it.  (I’m not going to say I’ve joyfully accepted it, but hey, progress is progress).

I am transient.  Only lasting for a short time, whether on a macro level in this life, or on a micro level in things in this life.  Impermanent.  Subject to change.

And maybe God wants me to know my own transience, so I am more flexible with His plans for my life.  Maybe it’s so instead of being whiny and rigid when change comes, I’ll expect it, and maybe, just maybe, embrace it.  Maybe knowing my own transience is imperative to living a different, more full life.

There was a time (ahem, the beginning of this year until thinking about my hypothetical final year over the past month), when the thought of being transient actually held me back.  If this is only for a short time, if it’s impermanent, if it’s only going to change, why bother with it at all?

But what if something only being for a short time, it’s impermanence, it’s subjectivity to change is more reason to relish it, to live more fully in it?

And I’m going to leave it at that, because I don’t want to spoil tomorrow’s post, but think about it: how does knowing your own transience change YOU?

A Review of ‘The Word Changers’ by Ashlee Willis



Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Escaping from the turmoil of a broken family, fifteen-year-old Posy finds herself at her usual haunt … the library. This time, though, when she chooses an unfamiliar book from the shelf, she does not devour its words and pages as she usually does.

Its words devour her.

Posy is pulled into the pages of a fairy tale, even mistaken for one of its characters. But all is far from perfect in this story’s Kingdom. Characters are whispering of rebellion against both their Plot and the deadly king who has seized control of it. And Posy must find a lost princess whose role in the story is crucial before her own story comes to a horrible end …

With the proud and haughty Prince Kyran as a reluctant companion, Posy ventures past the Borders of the Plot, into the depths of the gloomy and treacherous Wild Land forest that lies beyond. Secrets are buried there. Dark mysteries and shadowy creatures, dangerous and deadly.

Yet the deadliest danger of all is the one that Posy carries
within herself.

Soon it is clear that finding the lost princess is the least of Posy’s concerns. The Author of the book must be found. His Plot must be put to rights again, his characters reminded of who they were first created to be. Only then will the True Story be written, both for Posy, and for the tale she has now become a part of.

Courage and forgiveness are needed for Posy to find her way home again. But bitterness and shadows haunt her every step of the way.

About Ashlee Willis (also from Goodreads):

Ashlee Willis is the author of fantasy for young adults. She lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband and young son. While most of her days are balanced between writing, reading and homeschooling, she also finds time to enjoy tea with friends, forest walks, photography, and piano playing.

You can connect with Ashlee on her blogFacebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

My Review:

The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis is an epic fantasy adventure. It held my attention from beginning to end, as I suspected it would from reading its synopsis.

When Posy begins reading a book at her local library, she falls into its world only to be given an indispensable role in its plot. Willis does a masterful job of creating the book’s world and Posy’s part in it while also including her back story. The concept of a character finding him- or herself in another world was reminiscent of the Pevensies in Narnia and or Harry Potter at Hogwarts, but Willis maintains originality in the plot and characters she creates. On a deeper level, Willis takes an introspective look at authors, characters, and plots – which as a fellow writer, I really appreciate. As a filmmaker, I hope it’s not too long before this story hits the big screen.

I wanted to see more of Queen Valanor and the mermaid sisters, if only to better understand their characters and what motivates them. Otherwise, I thought the characters and plot were outstanding.


The Ocean Songs

The songs God has been using this year to grow trusting Him.

1.  Hillsong’s Oceans

His “grace abounds in deepest waters.”

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders/Let me walk upon the waters/Wherever You would call me/Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander/And my faith will be made stronger/In the presence of my Savior.”

2. Britt Nicole’s Walk on the Water

“What are you waiting for?/What do you have to lose?/Your insecurities try to alter you/You know you’re made for more/So don’t be afraid to move.”

3. Amanda Cook and Bethel Music’s You Make Me Brave

“You make me brave/You make me brave/No fear can hinder now the promises You’ve made/You make me brave/You make me brave/You called me out beyond the shore into the waves.”

Really, It’s Delicious: A review of ‘Candy Pizza’ by Charlotte Cuevas

23154932Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Candy Pizza, the debut poetry collection by Charlotte Cuevas, is a funky-fresh celebration of growing up on your own terms. At once brimming with the bitter humor of an adult and the vulnerable honesty of a child, it’s everything you wish you could’ve read when you were growing up: advice on how to not be stupid, when to use swear words, how to deal with mood swings, how to keep your inner child alive, and more. Cuevas positively cartwheels down the line between juvenile irreverence and technical skill, ensuring that each venture down the rabbit hole is relatable, fun, and poignantly satisfying.

About Charlotte Cuevas (also from Goodreads):

Charlotte Cuevas is a children’s librarian currently residing in Orlando, Florida. She teaches middle school courses on Writing and Spanish and sneaks poetry into the curriculum whenever possible. She considers herself incredibly honored to play a role in shaping the academic and artistic lives of her students, but she keeps a whoopee cushion in her desk for emergencies and cannot resist participating in a good game of dodge ball. When she’s not wrangling kids she can generally be found reading on a bench in the park or eating mass quantities of junk food while watching Netflix. Her 365 Poetry Project can be found at

You can connect with Charlotte on her website, Facebook, or Goodreads.  And I hear she may be starting a new writing project soon, so you probably want to get on board to follow that!

My review:

I give Candy Pizza by Charlotte Cuevas 5 out of 5 stars. (Wha–? I know, never happens).

Poetry that’s fun and healthy, indeed! Cuevas captured my attention from the introductory lines, “Candy pizza is disgusting, let me just tell you that right off,” to the last words, “There are things which cannot be written.” ‘Candy Pizza’ is a great collection of poetry: relatable, and easy to read and process. Cuevas’ voice is consistent throughout the anthology, but her poems vary in form, so there’s never a boring moment.

I look forward to reading more of Cuevas’ work in the future, and highly recommend Candy Pizza to – well, pretty much anyone looking for some fun and healthy poetry.

Also, go buy it. You won’t regret it.

Teaser Tuesday: Emma Tells a Story

But you don’t get to hear it.  You only get to hear what her friend, Will, thinks about it.  (I’m cruel, I know). UPDATE: You can now read the story here.

“The end,” I conclude.

Will shakes his head.

“That’s a terrible ending,” he declares.

I shrug, and take a sip from the mug I’ve brought from home, that he made my drink in and slid across the counter at me a few minutes ago.

“But was it a good enough story to warrant a discount?” I ask, waggling my eyebrows at him.

Will sighs.

“I suppose,” he grumbles. “I’ll give you twenty percent off.”

I squeal and clap my hands.

“I’ve improved by fifteen percent,” I gush.

“Your protagonist was still too passive for my liking,” Will says. “And that ending was” – he breaks off and shakes his head.

“Endings don’t have to be happy, you know,” I say, still relishing my discount.

“Yeah, but your protagonist basically ended up exactly where she started,” Will replies.

“Not exactly,” I say. “She still has the white gown.”

“Right,” Will returns, “but what good is that if she’s not wearing it like a white gown? I feel like your protagonist’s attitude is that it may as well be rags.”

“That is her attitude,” I insist.

From my novel,  A Year with the Baptists.