Writing Through Loss

This won't all be heavy, I promise.

When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” —John Irving

When my mom passed away, I took it hard, but I thought I was doing the work to get better. I talked about her, I cried all the time, I worked on my books as a form of therapy (if you haven't read Maybe Maby, that was in the thick of it), but it was almost as if the full barrel of grieving didn't unload on me until a couple of years later. I'd gotten through all the "firsts" and even when I lost my grandma and grandpa not long after my mother, I was still stuck on her. And in a season where I should kind of be better by now...

Good things came out of it too. I immersed myself in my family. I didn't go anywhere—that sounds like a bad thing, but it was exactly what I needed. I spent lots of time with my dad. I made a ton of cakes and pies and cookies, which I'm still trying to work off.

But I'd sit to write and just sit and sit and sit. And eat and sit. Common thread: I ate a lot. What used to be 1,000 word days turned into being a real feat if I could finish 100. This story I'd been so passionate about—I even knew the way it should go, start to finish!—just sat with me.

My mom never read my finished novels. She read some of In the Fields (which I worked on long before True L̶o̶v̶e̶ Story) and wanted me to finish it, but I didn't tell her when I did. My blog though—she was my biggest fan. It's why I had such a hard time going back to blogging afterward. So this post is a tiny bit of progress...

Maybe no one has died that you're close to, but a breakup or the loss of a friendship has derailed you. While the topic of grieving is vast and I won't be able to cover it all today, I do want to talk about some things that helped me write through the loss when I thought I might be stuck forever ... because as trivial as it may sound to think about writing when you're going through such pain, for all of us writers out there, writing usually always helps. So when that's not working either, the pain often has nowhere to go.

*Talk about your loss and that person as much as you need to, but...

*Avoid triggers that make you wallow in it. It's one thing to find it cathartic to remember someone and another to know you'll go in a downward spiral every time you look at certain pictures, go certain places, or do that one thing that always takes you down.

*Read an author who inspires you.

*Write something different from what you normally write, just for fun.

*Move! If the writing isn't coming, go live life for a while! Just don't avoid writing for too long.

*Write anyway. Even if it's 10 words, do it.

*Write as if no one will read it. It's a lot of pressure to keep up with all the authors out there, but more than that, it can be daunting to keep up with your past work. Put all of that out of your brain and just write.

*Once the writing comes, write all the words. Go with it as long as you possibly can, hopefully every day forever and ever amen.

The best part of being stuck is when you get unstuck. :) The gratitude is transcendent. 



I just returned from the Write or Die conference in Seattle and I'm inspired. Tarryn Fisher put together a great event, and I think everyone went home ready to get to work. There's something about being around like-minded people that stirs up the motivation. 

Here's what has stuck with me:

Write without fear.

Be consistent.

Dig deeper with your characters. (I spoke on this subject, as well as plot structure, so if anyone wants my notes, let me know)

The power of a plot twist...

I need a foreign rights agent.

So I've been working on a new book, but I also have exciting news about my newly completed book. I can't wait to show you the cover and blurb! Soon, I promise. Really soon. And pssst, my book will be out before the end of the year!



Starry Skies and Fireflies

Are you enjoying your summer? I decided since last summer I spent most of my days trying to finish Fade to Red, this summer I would take a break. I've had the best time with my kids and we've done a little bit of traveling, as well as lazy days at home.

But of course, the stories don't necessarily stop just because you want to take a break. I'm faced again with that constant dilemma: BALANCE.

As much as I want to master a healthy balance in my life, I can't seem to get it! I either go too far into slacking, or I work non-stop like a maniac, or I obsess about all that isn't getting done and work on all the wrong things...

How do you do it? I need a method to my madness. I want to look out at the night sky and see those stars and the dancing fireflies flying past me, but I also want a clean house, happy kids/husband/friends/family, and my career to be thriving.

If you've figured it out, please fill me in...

5,331 Miles

Every now and then I work on this between projects. I've posted several chapters on Wattpad. 

If you'd like to read more:  https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/34599324-5-331-miles-harry-styles


5,331 Miles by Willow Aster (all rights reserved 2015)


I’ve loved Harry Jackson most of my life. Before you assume I’m exaggerating, just listen. Our mums are best friends. There are pictures of Harry and me in the tub together when we’re like, one and two. The story goes (and goes and goes—I swear it’s been told every time our families are together) that we were happily playing in there until someone pooped in the tub. Okay, it was me. I know, so embarrassing. But it gets worse.

When I was in grade 8 and Harry was in grade 9, his family moved from England to California. His mum and mine couldn’t stand being apart and we followed six months later. 

We were best friends too, until he moved to the States. That’s when everything got weird. There have been snapshots of us over the years, but every time we’ve started to get close again, something happens to ruin it. 

He was my first kiss … I’ll have to get to that later. It’s hard for me to think about without dying a little more inside. He became the slut of high school, while I was the one hiding behind my glasses, book, and a donut. It was just as pitiful as it sounds.

After an extremely humiliating experience at our senior prom, in which I came to the conclusion that I will never love, or even like, Harry again, I’ve tried to disappear whenever he comes home from school. At first it didn’t work, but I’ve managed to not see him for two years now. 

But now he’s graduated from Berklee and is apparently home for good. 

And my mum is forcing me to see him … tonight, at his welcome home party.

The old me would have hidden and said ‘I hate my life,’ but the new me is ready to show Harry what he’s been missing. Not that I want him or anything. Just … aw, shit, I hate my life.


My mum stands in the doorway, watching me finish my makeup. “You look so pretty, babe.”

“I’m thinking about changing into jeans…”

“No! Your dress is perfect for the beach. Please don’t change, your legs go on for miles. Harry won’t know what hit him.”

“I’m not dressing for Harry, Mum.” I roll my eyes. 

Okay, maybe I’m kinda dressing for Harry. But, not in that way. I just want to look my best. That’s all.

“I know. Just … don’t forget a light jacket,” she says.

I grin. She says that every single time I go out the door.

“You ready? Dave is waiting on us.”

“Oh, I thought I told you—Justin’s picking me up.” I turn to look at her and see the disappointment on her face. 

Until I am pronounced someone else’s wife, she will be plotting for me to end up with Harry. My mum and I used to plot together, and she can’t understand why I ever stopped. I shake my head. I have to stop thinking about all that. Harry does not have any control over me anymore.

“You’re bringing Justin?” Her face scrunches up. “This just seems like a … I don’t know … more of a family thing, I guess…” 

“Justin’s my boyfriend, Mum. I wish you’d at least try to like him.” 

“He’s fine, he’s just not…”

“Don’t say it,” I warn her. 

“I wish you’d just tell me why you and Harry stopped being friends,” she says. “I thought we talked about everything.” Her eyes well up with tears and I panic. If she cries, I’ll cry.

“Please don’t cry … I just finished. Look,” I point to my eyes, “perfect smokey eye, please don’t let me mess it up.” I pat her on the shoulder and walk to the closet to get a light jacket. I hold it up for her and she smiles. And sniffles.

“And we do talk about mostly everything.” I mutter under my breath, “Just not that.” I kiss her cheek. “You better go, Dave’s waiting.”

She sighs. “Okay, but don’t be too late. Anne’s bringing the food out right away. You won’t want to miss the shrimp,” she says on her way out the door.


I used to have an issue with food. As in, I ate it whenever I felt sad, mad, depressed, lonely, or embarrassed. So, in other words, all the time. That pretty much describes my high school experience. 

My dad left not long after we got to California, so with him leaving and the huge culture shock, I was a mess. Thankfully, I had a late growth spurt at 16 and shot up four inches. At 5’1” there hadn’t been much room for the tons of junk food I ingested. Those extra four inches helped a lot, let me tell you. But it wasn’t until I met my best friend and roomie at UCSD, Maddie, that I started to get fit. She’s a yoga instructor and hopelessly optimistic. It’s hard to be sad around her. I’ve forced myself to exercise until I finally like it. I try to go to the healthy stuff when I’m down, instead of Reese’s peanut butter cups or salt & vinegar potato chips. I still indulge plenty, trust me, but I’m way more balanced than I used to be.

When my stomach feels the way it does tonight, though, all nervous and jumpy and nauseated, the last thing I want to think about is shrimp.

The doorbell rings and Justin is smiling when I open the door. He whistles when he sees me, taking my hand and twirling me around to see every angle.

“You look hot.” 

He’s a man of few words, but he looks so good, it doesn’t matter.  I take in his sun-kissed face and biceps and thank God for surfers. He fits the profile perfectly.

“You do too.” I step outside and walk to his jeep. 

Is it okay to admit that I really hate his jeep? It’s falling apart. Everyone and their brother can hear us coming. He keeps it all open, so my hair never stands a chance. I try to hold as much of it down as I can, but my hair is long and thick, so it still flies everywhere.

“Who’s this party for again?” he yells.

“Harry. We grew up together.” I look out the window and swipe my sweaty palms on the seats. My hands pick up some crumbs, so I spend the rest of the ride trying to get that off.

I wish I’d gone with my mum and Dave.

When we finally stop in front of Harry’s house, I hop out and stand in front of a tree (that Harry and I used to always climb) and try to salvage my hair.

 Justin puts his arm around my waist and nuzzles into my neck. Mmm, never mind, I’m glad I rode with Justin. 

“How long are we staying?” He whispers in my ear and then kisses back down my neck. 

I shiver. “Not long,” I promise. 

“Good.” He pulls me against him and puts his hands on my bum. I’m about to reach back to pull them up before someone sees us, when I hear my name. Or, rather, the name he calls me. 


I jump back from Justin and turn around. Harry is leaning against the gate, arms folded, and looking me up and down. And back up. And down again. You get the point. It’s a long pause and awkward. I can’t tell if he’s pleased with what he sees or angry with me.

“Hi,” I say quietly.

He stands tall. “You gonna feel each other up out here all night or you comin’ to my party, Mirabelle?” 

My heart drops out and I’m pretty sure I go red.  

He walks until he’s standing right in front of me.

“Well, when you put it that way, we might be out here a while, Harrison,” I say, standing as tall as I can. I’ve never been so glad to be wearing three-inch heels.

At first he just stares at me, jaw ticking. And then he wraps me up in a huge bear hug.

“I’ve been waiting—I heard you were coming.” He leans back and pushes my hair off one shoulder. “I was afraid you’d talk yourself out of coming in…”

I forget how well he knows me.

“You look so beautiful,” he whispers. 

My heart skips a few beats ahead and I step back. 

“This is my boyfriend, Justin.” I move my hands back and forth. “Harry, Justin. Justin, Harry.”

Harry nods and stretches out his hand. “Hey, man.” They do a guy shake.

“Hey,” Justin says.

This might be the first time I’ve wished for Justin to be … talkative. Or something just … more. Harry stands an inch or two taller than Justin, but besides their similar height, they couldn’t look more different from each other. Harry has curly, dark hair with green eyes and a constant smile. Justin has straight, blonde hair with brown eyes and it takes a lot to make him smile. 

Harry holds his hand out to me. “You don’t mind if I walk her in, do you, man?” He threads his fingers through mine and I think my ovaries just melted. “I just haven’t seen her in so long.”

Justin shrugs. “Sure.” 

I’m so gonna let him have it later.

Harry holds my hand up to his chest and smiles down at me. “Boyfriend, huh?”

I glare at him and try to take my hand away, but he grips it tighter.

“I’ve got you now, Bells, you’re not escaping this time.” He laughs his charming, perfect laugh, and I grit my teeth. 

We walk along the sand to the back of the house, tiki lamps leading the way. We go down a few steps and then reach the gorgeous beachfront. Their backyard has always been my favorite view. The party is underway. 

“Wow,” I tell him. “Quite the party.”

“You know my mum. She goes all out,” he groans.

It feels as if everyone sees us at once and freezes. Then my mum and Anne rush toward us, excited, but trying not to act too excited so they don’t jinx it. Anne is just as guilty as my mum in their ‘Mira & Harry forever’ fantasies. They’ve plotted our wedding since their pregnancies, when they found out what they were having.

“Oh, you look gorgeous, Mira. Doesn’t she look absolutely gorgeous, Harry?” Anne never takes her eyes off me.

“Her boyfriend and I have both told her how gorgeous she is, in our own way,” Harry says. He then has the nerve to kiss the back of my hand.

I want to pop the smirk off his face.

Anne’s smile widens and then drops a little when she sees Justin. She quickly props the smile back on. “Hi, you must be Justin. Vanessa was just telling me all about you.” She looks at my mum and back to Justin. “Why don’t you come with me and I’ll introduce you to everyone?”

I know what she’s up to and am sick of it. I let go of Harry’s hand and grab Justin’s arm. “That’s okay, I’ll make sure he gets around.”

I walk a few feet away with Justin and hear Harry behind me.

“I’m sure he already does,” he mutters.

I turn around so fast, my hair flies into my eyes. I toss it back and walk toward him, so close that only he can hear.

“Just because you’ve slept with the entire state of California does not mean my boyfriend has. Take your opinions and shove them up your ass.”

I walk without even thinking about where I’m going and end up in front of Justin’s jeep. It looks pretty good right now.

“Mira? We’re leaving?” Justin looks confused.

“Yes, please.” I get in, shut the door, and try to figure out how to avoid seeing Harry the rest of the summer. 


If you haven't seen the teasers for my new book Fade to Red on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I thought I'd gather them in one place ... just a few for now. 

I'd love it if you put Fade to Red on your Goodreads TBR list! http://bit.ly/1TRKr6z

Also, we're doing a group read of True Love Story in my group on Facebook right now. It's early enough that you can catch up! We'll be discussing chapters 6-10 this Monday night at 7 CST. And you can go through the thread from last night to find out what we've already discussed. Fade to Red is a standalone novel but also has characters featured from True Love Story, so it's a good time to read TLS too, if you haven't. http://on.fb.me/1NYanhs



Hello! How's everyone in Book Land? I hope you all celebrated National Book Lovers Day with a life-changing book. 

It feels like celebration time, so I wanted to make sure I spread the word about the giveaways I have going on right now. One is just a small way of saying thank you to all of you who follow me on the various forms of social media. It makes my world so much better to have interaction with you. This rafflecopter is going on for a little longer, so make sure you enter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cba4250125/

There's also a giveaway going on in my favorite new hangout. I have three more ebooks of The Paper Swan (or if you have that one, you can pick something else) to give away. Just click on the link to join the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/870978829643191/

I'm about to put the finishing touches on my upcoming book, so I hope you'll stay tuned for updates. Surprises are just around the corner! :) XO



It's a day of new beginnings! I signed with a new agent today~woohoo! I have a beautiful new blog space, thanks to Jill from Spoils of Wear. I will gradually add items to the store, but for now you can get signed paperbacks in there. 

Speaking of items in the store, do me a favor and vote for your favorite quote. I'm working on True Love Story T-shirts and wanted to get your pick. 

Viewing from a mobile device?  Try clicking here.


I’ve got something exciting I’ve been working on and it’s finally ready to show you! I’m posting a book, chapter by chapter, on wattpad. I’m not sure how often yet … but at least a couple times a week.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might recognize the title: Bow & Fade. Yes, this is the same book. 

Please go read it over there and VOTE, tell your friends, and comment! 

Click HERE to begin reading Bow & Fade.



Happy 2015!

Happy New Year! I love the beginning of a new year. A fresh start. The hope of things progressing and moving forward, hopefully in all positive ways. After an especially hard year, the beginning of a new year can feel like a new promise. I’m hanging on that this year.

What is everyone reading right now? I’ve been reading like a mad woman.