With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching faster than a bullet, I can’t help but feel so overwhelmingly thankful for this past year.

Wow. I mean, seriously, WOW.

This time last year I was in overdrive, attempting to get my name out there to the reading world. On top of finishing up the last chapters of Collide, I was in major marketing mode. I’d jumped on Facebook, and reached out to several well-known and un-known indie authors for advice. I was studying the market in which I was about to expose my inner thoughts to. I was researching cover designers. I was sending samples to potential editors. I was learning what a ‘Blog Tour ‘ was. When I heard that term, I thought I had to travel. Funny, I know, but I literally knew jack-shit about anything other than writing. I was up until the wee hours of the night, trying to figure out how anyone was going to know Gavin and Emily existed among millions of other books.

Needless to say, aside from feeling like a moron, I was running on empty and scared to absolute death.

Until last year, anything I’d ever written was for my eyes only. My thoughts were my thoughts. The characters, who’ve bugged the shit out of me throughout my life, belonged solely to me. Not even my closest friends read anything I’d written because I never felt the need to share with them. Don’t get me wrong, the night I published Collide, I was beyond excited. However, I felt more exposed in those few seconds after I clicked that button than I ever did before. This fear came with the thought that I’d possibly sell a few copies. I awoke the next morning, and Author Jessica Park tagged me in a post, alerting me that Collide was #110 on Amazon.

I had no clue how to even check a ranking.

There was a point (a few days later) where Collide made it into Amazon’s top five, and I considered pulling it off sale. Most writers would be thrilled. I wasn’t. I was hysterically crying. With each sale, I became more fearful that my story was going to be ripped to shreds and my prose were going to get mutilated. Both happened. Lol. I never paid attention to those things while writing. I just… write.

I won’t even go into the fear that possessed me while writing Pulse. I’ll keep it simple: I almost died when I hit the publish button on that bad boy.

I’ve endured a harsh life, having grown up in a home where a husband beating his wife was the norm. In the eyes of a child watching this take place, in what’s supposed to be your  haven from the evil of the world, it was odd walking into another home where such violence wasn’t occurring. I mourned the death of both of my parents before I turned 18. I survived stage 2 (going into a stage 3) Ovarian cancer  before I saw the ripe, young age of 19. Yet, holy shit, I was more scared of allowing complete strangers to read my work than I was of death.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s the truth.

Only a writer can understand these fears. These wicked, all-consuming fears that can literally become a disease to a writers brain. We spend thousands of hours away from our families, creating and becoming fictional characters in which we love, fall, and rise with, yet all it takes is a simple bad review (which took the reviewer less than 5 minutes to write) and our feelings are beyond broken. Crushed.

It’s like watching someone hurt your child.

But holy cowballs, (did I just say cowballs?) only a writer can understand the flurry of happiness that runs through you when a reader appreciates what you’ve written. When a reader actually devours, falls in love with, and ‘gets’ your story. I’ve had 6 amazing feelings in my 37 years of living that I consider worth mentioning.

#1- When the doctor told me my cancer was gone. (I kicked its ass)

#2- When I married my husband. (He made me love him)

#3- When I gave birth to my first son. (I couldn’t help but love him)

#4- When I gave birth to my second son. (I couldn’t help but love him)

#5- When I gave birth to my daughter. (I couldn’t help but love her)

#6- When a reader loves my tale of two broken souls that were destined to be together that I wrote on a whim. (This feeling is a combination of all of the above)

Yep. That feeling is right up there with some of the best in my life.

Anyway, I’m rambling now. I’m an Italian New Yorker and we tend to do that. Let me get to the point of this post.

Though I’ve witnessed and been through a lot in my lifetime, I’ve been blessed in more ways than one. Though evil was and still remains alive and quite well all around me (in many, many shapes and forms) the good that’s fastened itself to me more than outweighs it. I want to give back. I want to give back to good and bad reviewers who either loved Collide with all their heart, or loathed it with every fiber of their being. Either way each of you, for me, made this year into something I never fathomed was possible.

Though it’s the most glorious time of the year, the Holiday season can be a financial burden to many out there. I know this. I’ve been there, lived it for many years. I want to alleviate some of that stress. I have to. It’s my pay-it-forward to the universe for the good that has come to me and my family.

Up for grabs are 8 prepaid Visa gift cards in the amount of $250.00 each.

To enter, all you need to do is simply comment below (here on the blog post) with your fondest holiday memory. I love reading stuff like this as I do not have many of my own (until recently).

Also, please post an email address where I can get in touch with you. The 8 winners will be notified on December 7th by email and the cards will be shipped out that week.

Good luck, and no matter who wins, please know I adore each and every single one of you for what you’ve given me and my family this year.

Xoxo… Gail