S.B. Roozenboom grew up in the Great Northwest. She is the author of three young adult novels: Markings, Predator Girl, and Taste of Silver. Her first science fiction novel will be released next year from WiDo Publishing. When not writing, S.B. can be found high up in the Cascade Mountains, down on the Oregon coast, or cozied up with a latte in Starbucks.
She was recently featured on Colleen Story’s Writing and Wellness blog. We have reprinted the interview with Colleen’s permission.
When Life Interferes with Writing
Gosh, these last two years have held so many physical and mental challenges for me that have really messed with my writing ability. I used to sit down at a computer and complete ten, fifteen pages a day with no problems. I knew exactly where I wanted to go with the story, I knew exactly what I wanted to say, who I wanted the characters to become… but not so much lately.
Most people start writing novels later in life. They don’t sit down at seventeen years old like I did and birth three books in three years. I am now twenty-four which means I’ve hit that “Transitional Stage” in life where I am no longer a teenager whose day-to-day consisted of homework and chores… I’m an adult trying to figure out how the heck to run my life.
I now work four days a week in the diamond and jewelry business. I’m studying gemology through one college and administration through another. I have a boyfriend who is struggling with the Transitional Stage as well, and to top the cake my parents are in the middle of a brutal divorce.
My emotional state has made me physically exhausted and has cursed me with a nasty case of writer’s block, which I really can’t afford to have when I am so close to finishing my newest novel. I have literally sat in front of my computer and cried because of how frustrated I am with my inability to write like I used to, to sink into the story like I once could.
It’s taken a number of months and some personal pep-talks to remind myself it will all be okay. I have not lost my writing ability—it’s stuck at a stop light and is just waiting for the red to turn green.
I Want to Eat Healthy, But…There’s That Krispy Crème
I’ve been trying to implement some healthy changes into my life such as better eating—too much caffeine and sugar makes it hard for me to focus on writing—but depression likes to challenge my self-control.
One day I might be all vegetables and sixty minutes of exercise and the next I might be facing some new family crisis or work issue… and I remember that there is a Krispy Crème around the corner from my work. Oh, and a Starbucks in the next parking lot over. Oh, and the bakery by Nordstrom Rack now has lemon bars.
So then I break down and spend the next three hours in sugar-ridden bliss that ends with me banging my head on the wall wondering why I packed away an extra 450 calories that I didn’t need and now I’m too hyped up to focus on tasks like writing!
So the eating department is still under construction.
The one routine I really need to get back into—and I am starting to take the steps for this now—is walking our college track and listening to music. Music has fueled many of my ideas for book scenes and plot twists. I really need to get back into that this summer.
Hitting Life’s Crossroads
A million rejections, promotion anxiety, editing stresses… but these are all part of the job description when you become a writer. I had a hard time with all of those things, but I think the part of being a writer that killed me the most was the moment I hit life’s crossroads.
One lane read, “This Way to Endless Writing, Living with your Messed Up Parents, Ignoring College, and Being Forever Broke” and the other lane read. “This Way to Adulthood, Real Money, College Degree, Moving Out, and The Death of All Your Writing/Book Dreams.”
Neither road was appealing. So I’ve been skirting both and making my own path between the two. I’m not doing the greatest job yet, but I refuse to settle for a life that is any less than what I dream it to be.
I’ve watched so many people fall prey to unhappy, caged-in lifestyles. Some are content in their cages but I don’t want to be content.
I don’t want to be caged, either. I want to be happy and free and at peace with myself, even if I have to carve through a mountainside to get there.
My Unusual Coping Mechanisms
After four years of coping with some really unpleasant events in my life, my coping skills have become a little… unusual. For example, my mother is moving out of our family home in the next month or so and mentioned taking our family dog, a Chihuahua named Bubbins, with her.
I thought I took this very well, but apparently inside the idea freaked me out because the following week I went out and bought a new Chihuahua for my birthday.
My other forms of coping lie in tri-weekly runs to Starbucks and seasonal trips to see my tattoo artist, Brandy. I’ve loved tattoos since I was a little girl and I never come out of an appointment feeling like the same person—I come out feeling like a stronger, happier, transformed person.
Over the course of four years, I have gained several moths, a complete ankle wrap of sea things, and a half sleeve of a giant fox with wings—a reminder to never doubt my dreams no matter how wild they get! My fox has been a work in progress for the last year, and has been an excuse for me to go and get out of town.
Brandy lives two-hundred miles away from me on the coastline, so I tend to stay the night by the sea after a session. These mini trips have made a world of difference in my ability to cope with my life and see my visions more clearly.
The Darkest Moment
There have been a few moments of great discouragement in my writing career, and I’m sure there will be more. The worst was probably when I self-published one of my novels and the editors at the self-publishing company misplaced the edited version of the book and only had the unedited, original manuscript.
So my book was published with an insane amount of errors.
Errors of every breed.
I had worked hundreds of long, hard hours editing that novel and to know that dozens of people—including my own family members—purchased the original, rough version about killed me. I was so angry I launched a complaint against the company, who ultimately fired my half-ass, so-called editor and then published the proper copy.
Still, I will never forget sitting there on my bed reading the first few pages of that book, how I went from feeling sheer joy and pride to utter horror in minutes.
That was the first time I sat there wondering why the hell I wanted to be a writer.
Writing books was blood, sweat, and tears that only equaled up to more blood, sweat, and tears.
Who in their right mind would keep putting themselves through that kind of suffering?
The only thing that got me through that time—besides my mother and ungodly amounts of chocolate and coffee—was the fact that I had two other books in the works, one of which had just been requested by Random House Australia. I had also received two requests from big agencies in New York who wanted to see my work.
The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path
My deep desire to succeed crossed with my unconditional love for my work is what has kept me afloat all these years.
Writing gave my life a sense of purpose and magic when I needed it most. My books brought to life worlds, creatures, people, stories I didn’t know existed in me, and in them I found unlimited possibilities in everything.
To know that I could create something that didn’t exist on Earth before I came up with it was amazing to me. Sure, there are plenty of books on the market like mine, but my book never existed until I made it so.
This magic is what has kept me together in times of hopelessness, insecurity, and pain. It’s what reminded me that while I can’t wave a magic wand and make all my problems disappear, I can open a Word document and morph those problems into a rising planet of half-humans that one day soon will become a paperback on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.
Advice to a Young Writer
I would tell them to never stop writing!
I can’t encourage young people enough to keep their pens to paper. Look at me: I was seventeen years old, not even out of high school before I wrote my first book. That book is now published and has its own fan base. Books make everything and anything possible in our lives!
However, I would tell him/her that there will be days when you question yourself and your writing abilities. You’ll wonder if it’s really worth it. You’ll ponder if you are truly good enough to be published and sold through major channels like Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You’ll face armfuls of rejections, criticisms, and horrible readers who will hate your book no matter how great it is.
But you can’t give up.
That is the biggest, most important piece of advice I can give anyone right there:
Never for a second stop writing, editing, or submitting your work no matter what.
I can spout off a lot of other important advice, too, like perfect your work if you feel it isn’t good enough. Take writing classes. Join a writer’s club. Buy a Writer’s Marketplace book—all authors need one.
Write every single day even if it is only a page. And make sure you read your genre. You can’t write what you don’t know. Read as many books in your genre as is possible. I inhaled a dozen young adult books before Markings was finished and it gave me an insight on the styles of voices, plots, themes that went on in those kinds of books.
Thank you, S.B.!
Markings: Celina Bayberry never thought a part-time job could change her life, until she met the hot and untouchable Aaron Jamison. Strangely enough, she can’t shake the feeling that he’s stalking her. When a yellow-eyed stranger takes interest in her too, Celina discovers a dangerous secret: Her co-workers are shifters who can transform from human to feline in an instant. Celina’s life unravels as she is thrust into an age-old battle of brother against brother, while she’s losing her heart to Aaron who may or may not have lost his to her. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from WiDo Publishing.
Predator Girl: Born in the deep forests of the Northwest, Ilume is a girl of the woods. She might be young, she might be recovering from a broken heart, but above all she’s a leader. Her pack has always come first. Then, on a rare visit to the human civilization, she meets Jared, a Finder, born with the gift for detecting and tracking paranormal beings. But when he crosses paths with a strange new girl, Jared is unable to classify her despite his training and experience. Ilume and Jared—born into different worlds, and neither is prepared for what happens when the sparks fly between them. Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and WiDo Publishing.
Taste of Silver: Rose Ridgewood can’t stand her father’s new employee. It isn’t just Hayden O’Conner’s attitude and criminal record that bothers her—it’s his odd, silver eyes and the fact that she can’t read him. It isn’t until she becomes a victim in a deadly game of chase that secrets are uncovered that alter not only her views of Hayden, but of modern humanity. Available at Amazon.