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OMG, how February almost gone already?

Okay, checkin' in... First, I'm away from home right now. I'm visiting Bronwyn, and I get to see a bunch of my people this weekend as we do a mini-retreat. So super stoked about that.

Now, looking at the goals I set for February in my last check-in post *covers face and peeks through fingers*

  • Continue with the self care and house stuff - definitely makes a happier, calmer me. 🙂 This, I rocked. I have stayed on track with this really well, and that makes me incredibly happy.
  • Complete Safeword Protected (Bound series) and Into the Deep (Albion's Circle series) - so close on both of these, and since they have been on my plate, so to speak, for so long, getting these completely done and released will be a huge, huge thing for me. Um...okay, this may have been a slightly unrealistic goal for me. I don't think I took into account the other non-writing stuff that would take up my time. BUT, I have made writing progress, making time nearly every day to write, and I'm still on track to complete Safeword Protected by the end of the month. So, I'm going to say "Good job, Jarman. Not perfect, but not bad." 
  • Complete all scheduled blog posts for the month. OMG, so freaking close on this one. I missed one post - because of craziness with the day job and having 2 day job projects that needed to be finished ASAP, so taking time away to do the blog post didn't happen. But I did almost all of them, AND I did all the flash fiction ones. So I'm calling is good...

So, February - not perfect, but I did accomplish a lot, so I'm pleased with that. Going to focus on the positive.

Onward to March goals:

  • Keep on keeping on with the self-care and house stuff
  • Publish Safeword Protected
  • Complete Into the Deep
  • Complete March Newsletter short.
  • Complete all scheduled March blog posts.
  • Update Writing Bujo
  • Put together Publishing and Marketing Bujo
  • Fix mss. templates

Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Gwendolyn Cease | Torrance Sené

 

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Happy Wednesday! Today we're talking about...

My organization, particularly when it comes to writing...is very much a work in progress.

I have some things I do that helps me stay on track - and some of it may seem redundant but it works for me.

Number one on my list of things that help me organize my writing is my bullet journals. Yes, plural. I have a regular bullet journal that I track pretty much everything I do - house stuff, family stuff, self-care stuff, writing stuff, editing stuff, blogging stuff. It is really the go-to for me.

It is not fancy and pretty - though my cover is gorgeous (thank you, Bronwyn, for making it for me! You can see her own cover on the journal behind mine. She will be selling these and other gorgeous things at an Etsy store soon. Be on the lookout for Granola Girl Creations.)

My set up is pretty simple. You can see in the pic - the start of a week I haven't filled in yet - I have a page that is just a week at a glance, that's were I put appts for pretty much the whole family, and things like that. Then, each day gets half a page. This is where I list what I need to do that day and hope at the end of the day, I'm able to fill in all the little squares.  Again, simple, but it keeps me on track like nothing else I've tried before.

So, I guess my tip here would be to find a system that works for you - whether it's a ready made journal/planner or something you create yourself. It took me a while to find this way, but I'm so glad I did.

My second bujo is solely for writing. It's a traveler's journal that Bron modified to me - the booklets used to be stitched in, but she went to town on that bad boy, took the stitching out and put in elastics so I could put what I needed in there and then switch them out. I have a small notebook for every series.

In the notebooks, I put pics of what I imagine my characters to look like, track the progress of each book, put notes about the characters (physical descriptions, backstory etc) and plot out the stories themselves.

I also keep track of things on a spreadsheet. Some of it is a repeat of what is in my bujo, yes, but I use the spreadsheet for future planning - looking at big picture when it comes to scheduling -  and the lovely excel spreadsheet does all the math for me so I can track words written, edited, and blogged (weekly, monthly and yearly). I also have pages that has info on all my books - published and not yet published, notes on Bound books (usually typed as Bron and I are chatting), my blogging calendar, names I've used and names I just really like and may use one day in a book, and trackers from previous years. Nothing ground-breaking, but it works for me and like with the journal/planner, it took me a while to tweak it to work best for me.

Another tool? Pens. Seriously. Bron will tell you (I'm visiting her now and have several times in the past so she has firsthand knowledge), I cannot go in a store without meandering down the pen aisle (likely the notebook/journal aisle as well because you can never have too many notebooks). I always have pens with me, and I also use them in my main bujo. I color code the crap out of that things. Writing stuff is purple, editing stuff is orange, social stuff is blue....and so on and so on.

I can't be alone in my pen love, right?

The last thing I'll mention is writing friends and the power of holding each other accountable.

I have amazing writing friends, who are understanding and loving but never hesitate to give me a swift kick in the ass when needed. Finding ppl like this and building a support system - and being that support in return - is invaluable. And I'm lucky AF to have the group of friends that I do. I don't know what I did to deserve them, but I will never take them for granted.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa

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Hello! This month's song fic is based on "Glycerine" by Bush. Here is a video if you want to have a listen:

Oh this was a haaaaaard one. LOL But finally something popped into my head and I'm rolling with it. Have no idea if it truly fits the song, but either way, it's what came while I was listening so it counts. 😛 Here we go...


"Don't even think about it."

"Huh?" I didn't even look at my best friend, Lily, as she practically spit the words at me. No, my eyes were on my boyfriend...ex-boyfriend. He wasn't mine anymore. And that was a good thing. Though looking at him across the crowded room, it was hard to remember why. I wanted nothing more than to push my way through the people between us and wrap myself around him.

What can I say? When it came to Josh, I was fucking weak. After the last time we broke it off -yeah, the last in a long line of break-ups; like I said...weak - I had promised not to go back. Hell, coming to this party was supposed to be all about getting over Josh and maybe moving on to someone else - the last thing? Lily and our friend, Tom's idea. I didn't think hooking up while I was still clearly stuck on Josh was a good idea, but they had dragged me along. Obviously, they hadn't expected Josh to show up. I hadn't either. Parties weren't exactly Josh's thing.

"Dammit, Sam." Lily grabbed my arm and spun me around to face her. "Look at you - all freaking gooey eyed the second he walks in the room. You need to remember why he is bad for you. You broke up with him for a reason! Hell, a lot of really good reasons."

"Lil... It's not like he's a bad guy."  I glanced over my shoulder then yelped when her dainty, but amazingly strong fingers grasped my chin and turned my face back toward her.

"I'm not saying he's a bad guy," she said, not so convincingly. "But you two are wrong for each other. Your relationship was codependent, at best. The two of you together...do not make good choices. And the last time," she leaned forward and dropped her voice, "he hit you."

"We were drunk," I protested. "And I hit him, too."

"Yeah, and most of the time you're together, more often than not, you're drunk or you're high. See? Bad fucking choices, Sam." Her eyebrows shot up as she gave me "the look".

I hated that don't-disappoint-me look. I thought by moving away from home, i'd escaped it, but nay, nay, Lily kept it alive and well.

"But you constantly put all the blame on him," I pointed out. "And the problems we had, they're not all on him."

"No, they're not," she agreed. "You're both motherfucking idiots when it comes to each other."

I shook my head. She didn't get it. Even though I was the one who had initiated half our break-ups, I loved him. And I hated being alone, being without him. And it wasn't as if it was all screaming fights and arguments between us. There were a helluva lot of good times too. And I missed those.

"We have been," I said, mostly to get her off my back. "But..."

I looked back again, and my stomach jumped when I saw Josh weaving his way through the crowd toward us.

"No. No buts, Sam," Lily said, loudly enough that, even with the music blaring, people turned to look at us.

"You don't understand," I said, gaze darting between her and Josh.

"Fucking right I don't understand. I don't understand how you can choose to be miserable. How you can choose to be in a relationship that is no good for either of you. Hell, if you love him so damned much, think about him. Being together is not good for him. Do what's right for you and Josh." She spoke right in my ear and quickly, clearly wanting to have her say before he could hear.

"Sam."

And damn...damn, damn, damn. In what world was this fucking fair? How affected I could be by one word, my name, on his freaking lips... I turned and actually sighed like a little girl watching a Disney movie. He was too damned pretty for my own damned good. His full lips curved into the crooked smile I thought about more than I ever wanted to admit to anyone.

"Hey, Josh, what are you doing here?" Lily said bluntly. "You hate parties."

His expression fell. He glanced between us a few times, then his gaze landed on me. "I... Well, I was hoping you'd be here. I wanted to talk, but didn't think you'd answer my calls."

"That should have been a big clue. If he won't answer your calls, why would you think he'd want to see you?"

"Lily!"  I stared at her, stomach sour and heart racing.

"Dammit, Sam." She met my gaze, then lifted her hands and let them drop, slapping against her thighs. "I love you, but you're gonna do whatever the fuck it is you want to do anyway, and I don't have to watch it. Can't bear to watch it.  Just call me when it's time to pick up the pieces...again."

Without giving me a chance to respond, she turned on her heel and strode away. Cheeks hot and hands shaking, I faced Josh.

"Is she right? You don't want to see me?"

I cleared my throat, staring at him, wanting to do the right thing. Only problem was I didn't know what the right thing was when it came to him and me.

"Why would you even want to? A few weeks ago, you couldn't wait to get away from me," I choked out.

"I was stupid, fucked up on the pills and everything. I haven't..." He wet his lips and ducked his head, looking at me from beneath those insanely long lashes. "Haven't touched them since. Haven't had a drink. I even...I even went to the counseling center, saw someone. Been seeing them a couple times a week. Talking though a lot of shit. You know, about my mom and dad and stuff."

I nodded, heart aching for him. If I'd thought my home life sucked when I moved out, it was a fucking cake walk compared to what Josh had gotten away from.

"I just wanted to talk. I get if you don't want to be around me. That's fair. Grant - that's the counselor I've been talking too - said I shouldn't... Well, he didn't think it was a good idea to see you, again. You know, like we were. But I need to at least talk to you. I was a complete ass; I see that now. I'm so sorry, Sam."

"It wasn't just you," I protested. "I"m sorry, too."

"Can we get out of here and go somewhere quiet to talk?" he asked. "Please."

"Yeah, we can talk."

He grinned and grabbed my hand. As we dodged people and made out way to the front door, I promised myself to be strong, this time. We'd talk, put things to rest, maybe? Or maybe with the changes he was making and the help he was getting, he'd be in a better place, and we could make it work. Not now, of course, but in the future. Because I couldn't deny I wanted a future with him. Always did.

Ten minutes later, when my back hit the wall of Josh's dorm room and his lips were on mine, Lily's words sounded in my head - Wrong for each other... Codependent, at best... Bad fucking decisions... - but I shoved them aside. She didn't know. She didn't understand.

"Fuck, Sammy, I missed you," Josh murmured, trailing kisses along my jaw and down my neck. "Hate being without you. Feel so damned numb." His hands flexed on my hips as he pressed closer. "I can feel again, now. With you. Taste so fucking beautiful, babe. Love you so much. God, is it the same for you?" He lifted his head and met my eyes. "Is it just me?"

I cupped his face and pulled him in again then whispered against his lips, "No, me too. God, me too."


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease

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All right, my lovelies, today is a promptly penned post. We all get the same prompt and get to write something from it. This one is hella short. It has been a crazy time here--I'm trying to finish a book, life is kinda exploding chaotic around me, and right now, all I can think about is going to bed.

So, some people will be happy to see there is no sweeping sad, angsty story today. 😉 Nope, it's short, sweet and...one might say, fluffy. So enjoy. 🙂 (The actual prompt is in bold)


Philip lifted his head as the man beside him groaned and stretched. He bit his lip as he took in the long lines of Kev’s nude body. When the bright green eyes lost their sleepiness and focused on Philip, he smiled.

“We were supposed to go a real date, this time,” Kev said hoarsely, and Philip’s smile grew into a grin at the sound. Who would have thought the straight-laced Kev was a screamer? Well…his neighbors sure as hell knew now.

“Mm hmmm,” Philip replied absently, reaching out and dragging his palm down Kev’s chest.

“You promised.” Kev gave an exaggerated pout. “I really wanted to see that movie.”

“It’s not my fault. I couldn’t find the show times.” Philip inched his hand lower, loving the way Kev’s breath caught and his eyes darkened. “That's what happens when you don't have reliable Wi-Fi, sweetheart.”

“Like you don’t have enough data.” Kev scooted closer.

“True…” Philip rolled onto his side and pulled him closer. “Should I check now? I’m sure there’s a late showing.”

Sliding his fingers through Philip’s hair, Kev chuckled. “Nah, realized I don’t want to see it that much, after all.”

Thank fuck, Philip thought as their mouths collided.


Bronwyn Green| Deelylah Mullin

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Hello, all! It's time for another flash fiction. When I looked at this photo, the first thing I thought of was Albion's Circle, my Arthurian-inspired series, and the lives the characters lived in the past. So I went with that--a little piece from the world of Albion's Circle and their first life in Camelot. 🙂

Enjoy!

I walked through the corridors of the castle, heart heavy and vision blurred with tears. Only days before I had been longing to be here, sore and weary from the countless nights of sleeping on the ground and drawing upon my magic more than I ever had before. I just wanted to return home. Return to Camelot. And now, here I was. The battle was won; Mordred had been defeated.

But at what cost?

When this began, when we formed the Circle, we had all agreed Mordred needed to be stopped no matter the cost. And every one of us had known the price would be a hefty one, that we’d have losses.

I knew better than most—often waking up drenched in sweat and physically ill from the visions I’d had. Visions of blood, pain and death. But I had never imagined it would end like this. Nor how cold and empty I would feel when all had come to pass. I pulled the heavy red cloak more tightly around me. I didn’t think I’d ever be warm again.

Now that I was here again, it didn’t feel like home, anymore, and I wanted to be anywhere but here. Thank the Goddess I didn’t have to stay. Once I did my duty and completed the task that had fallen on my shoulders, I could put as much distance between Camelot and me as I could manage.

I squared my shoulders as I approached the throne room. The guards pulled the large doors open, heads bowed respectfully as I strode past. Unlike the last time I’d been here, the room was empty, save the woman who waited. The queen.

My gaze immediately fell on the unoccupied throne beside her, and tears threatened again as the air left my body in a whoosh. Darkness edged my vision, and my magic vibrated along my skin, pushing out, wanting an outlet for the anger and grief welling up.

“Lady Morgana.” Queen Guinevere stood, hands clasped in front of her.

Annoyance flared at the formality of the greeting, considering we were alone, but I pushed it aside as I lowered into a low curtsy.

“Your Majesty,” I murmured.

“You bring news?” she asked, moving down the two steps to stand directly in front of me.

I rose and inhaled deeply, again quelling my irritation. I had no ill feelings toward the queen—my brother’s wife—but I was exhausted and had little patience for foolish questions. I wouldn’t be here if I had no news. I wouldn’t leave the battle if it continued, and she knew that. Or she should.

“I do,” I said tightly. “It’s over. Mordred is dead, his army defeated. Albion is safe.” I closed my eyes, trying to be strong enough to say the next words. “Arth…” My voice cracked. “King Arthur fell in battle, Your Majesty.”

Her gasp echoed in the large chamber and I opened my eyes to see her stumble back, one hand pressed to her stomach, the other covering her mouth.

“We suffered many losses, but we—”

“Lancelot?”

My magic snapped outward and a loud crack exploded behind Guinevere. She spun around, face pale, tearful eyes wide, to see the throne she’d been sitting on when I entered split in two on the stone floor.

I struggled to contain my errant power, too fueled by my emotions. I may not have completely understood my brother’s marriage and the arrangement he had with his wife, but I never considered it my business, and even as upset and grieved as I was, I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Not even the woman who wasn’t adequately reacting to the news of her husband’s—my brother’s—death.

I ignored her fearful and questioning gaze. “Your lover is well and safe. As Arthur’s first knight, he was delayed in returning to your side by his duties.”

“Morgana,” she whispered brokenly.

“Gwaine, Owain and Erek fell,” I continued, reporting the Circle and the loyal knights who had bound themselves to us. “Percival was wounded but is on his feet and aiding Lancelot. Galahad is well but won’t return to Camelot for some time. He is caring for Merlin.”

“Merlin?” she interrupted. “H-how badly is he injured?”

“He’s not injured. Not physically.” I met her eyes. “Anna is dead…by Merlin’s magic.”

“What?” She shook her head. “That’s not possible. He would never harm Anna.”

“I never said it was intentional. He was consumed by Arthur’s death,” I said pointedly. “He had no control of his power and would have destroyed everyone on that field—friend and foe alike. If not for Anna. She took the magical blow.”

Guinevere gaped, tears streaming down her face. “But I don’t understand.”

“You don’t understand what, Your Majesty?”

“Why wouldn’t Merlin—and Galahad—return to Camelot?”

“When he realized what had happened, that his Anna was gone—at his hand, no less—he went mad. It took everything I had magically to bind him, to prevent him from doing the very thing Anna had given her life to prevent.”

“I still don’t understand, Morgana,” she bit out, shaking her head. “Why would you not bring him home? Where he belongs, where he is needed?”

“Is that your worry? That Camelot’s Magical isn’t here to aid you in your rule?” My magic swelled, crackled on the air. My cloak rippled around my body and my hair lifted off my shoulders.

“That isn’t what I meant!” she protested. “I won’t lie and say I’m not concerned about the vulnerability of the kingdom without its king and without the protection of its most powerful Magical, but my concern for Merlin and his wellbeing is greater.”

I believed her, and that fact alone calmed my magic.

“You didn’t see him, Guinevere,” I said, dropping titles and formality. “He lost his king and his love—he lost two parts of his soul. Losing one would have been enough to break him. Losing both… It may be too much for him to bear. I had to bind his magic and put him into a deep sleep. Galahad and I will watch over him and help him through this. Lancelot and Percival know where we are, if you’ve a need to contact us. I prefer not to tell anyone else our whereabouts. Not with Merlin so vulnerable.”

“Not even me?” she asked quietly.

“You’ll be informed if it’s necessary. At this moment, it isn’t.”

She straightened her spine and pulled her shoulders back. “I could order you to tell me. I am still your queen.”

I smiled humorlessly and looked past her, waited until her gaze followed mine to rest on the ruined throne.

She turned back to me and stared at me silently for a moment, then she dropped her eyes. “Are we enemies now, Morgana?”

“No. You are my queen,” I said. “I will follow you as loyally as I did my brother. But you would do well to rule as he did. He never tried to force my hand simply because he sat upon the throne.”

She nodded but kept her gaze on the floor. “I…I shall try to do well, for Arthur, for Camelot.” She cleared her throat and lifted her hand to swipe at the tears skittering down her cheeks. “I’m afraid, Morgana. I never thought I’d be alone in this.

I forced myself to step forward, to see past my own riotous feelings and sympathize with her. The woman who had been given to a king to strengthen alliances, her desire ignored in the arrangement. The woman who had become a strong friend and companion for my brother, even if there wasn’t great romantic love between them. The woman who now bore the full weight and responsibility of the crown.

“You aren’t alone,” I said quietly, placing a hand on her shoulder. I could be for Guinevere what Arthur would want me to be. A source of support, an ally she could rely on. I could…I would do this, in his memory. “You are never alone…sister.”

She brought her hand up to cover mine. “Thank you, Morgana. When I asked about Lancelot…” She swallowed audibly. “I meant no disrespect toward Arthur. I did love him; he was my greatest friend, and I feel his loss keenly.”

“I know. He really was the best of all of us, wasn’t he?” I inhaled deeply and squeezed her shoulder before stepping back and letting my hand drop to my side. “And you needn’t fear for Camelot and Albion. It is protected. You’ve powerful Magicals here with more returning soon.”

The corner of her mouth quirked up. “But they aren’t you, Merlin, and Anna. They’re not the ones I prefer to have at my side. Just as Arthur did.”

“No, they’re not, but they were trained by us and will serve you well.”

She nodded with marked reluctance. “Will you keep me apprised of Merlin’s condition?”

“Of course. I will send word as often as I can. And I should be on my way, now.” I dropped into a curtsy, ready to take my leave. “Be well, Your Majesty.”

“Will you return when we…” Her lips trembled, and she pressed them together a moment before continuing. “Will you return when we lay Arthur to rest?”

“If Merlin is well enough,” I said. “I’ve already said my goodbyes to my brother, but if I’m able, I will be here.”

“I’ll pray for Merlin, for all of you, as you heal,” she said quietly. “And I will hope for the quick arrival of the day comes that Camelot can welcome all of you home.”

I bowed my head slightly before turning and exiting the room, the chilling hollowness I felt earlier returning with a vengeance. I welcomed it, this time. Anything was preferable to the consuming ache of loss and overwhelming helplessness I’ve felt since throwing my magic at Merlin as we stood over the bodies of the two most important people in our lives. As I walked past the columns, I pulled the cloak’s hood over my head and pulled the fabric more tightly around my body, even though I knew it would warm me. How could it when the coldness was coming from inside me?

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kayleigh Jones  | Kris Norris

6 Comments

10 - First way to hook me? An amazing cover. Not saying a cover will make or break it for me, but if you can catch my attention with a cover...you have your foot in the door, my friend.

9 - Brilliant description - This is a fine line to walk. Some books give hardly any description, while others go a bit overboard - I really don't need a run down of every piece of furniture in the room, thank you very much. There needs to be enough that I can picture it in my head but not so much that it's tedious and obtrusive.

8 - Internal conflict - I'm more drawn to internal conflict. I find it more compelling. I don't know why, exactly, but I will usually choose an book that is driven by internal conflict over one driven by external conflictl. Maybe because it's more identifiable? I can relate and sympathize more? Well, whatever the reason...there it is.

7 - But...give me a really freaking good external conflict...I won't walk away. I can really dig a story where the character(s) is on the run from or fighting a big bad or having to survive a really horrible situation or environment.

6 - Angst... DUDE. Give me an angst-filled story.... Le sigh. I eat that stuff up with a freaking spoon every single time. I will ugly cry and re-read again and again. Yes, I will. 

5 - Good characterization -  Well written, fully developed believable characters that grow throughout the story is a surefire way to hook me. No too-stupid-to-live characters, no major alphaholes that have no redeeming qualities whatsoever... Hell, even a villain should be more than a flat, one-dimensional representation of a bad guy. Some of my all-time favorite characters are villains - usually ones I could identify with, sympathize with and understand why they were doing what they were doing even if it was horrifying and/or wrong. The biggest thing is they just aren't 100% evil to give the story a bad guy. They have layers, dammit.

4 - A good friends-to-lovers story. Oh, be still my heart. My all-time fave trope.. Seriously, I go looking for these, and I will hold onto the ones I love to go back to time and time again.

3 - Originality & Variety - Have you ever really loved an author but then after a while it seems as though are reading the same story again and again? That it's just slightly different look for the heroine or the setting is a bit different but it's basically the same story you read before? No one wants that. 

Or sometimes it's the same character (unintentionally) popping up in every book...with just a slightly different face.

Though I'd like to point out that in Doctor Who, even though each actor is technically playing the same character, they make the Doctor their own. Each incarnation has its own characteristics, mannerisms and quirks. And that's one of the things that makes it freaking brilliant.

Obviously, we all have our favorite types of stories. Like I said, friends-to-lovers is a big one for me. So are books based on Arthurian legend. I love me a good vampire or shifter book too. But what I really, really love is when an author puts new spin on it. They take something and make it their own. I think, as authors, we have a responsibility - not only to readers but to ourselves - to stretch ourselves, to move beyond our comfort zones. And that includes looking at our body work and making sure we aren't writing the same story or the same character again and again.

2 - A balance of information - There is a fine line authors walk when writing. The reader needs to be given enough information to follow the story and to (eventually) understand why characters are doing what they are doing, but they don't need to be hit over the head with every single detail or reason characters are doing something. It's playing in the middle ground, really. The reader isn't stupid and doesn't need to be spoon fed - which will just annoy and lead to a book being set aside - however, they can't be expected to make huge leaps of understanding with nothing in the book to support it - which leaves the reader scratching their heads and leads to a book being set aside.

1 - And finally... Write me a long, well-written, angsty as F&$k with lots of kinky sexy times (and no freaking slow-burn, thank you very much) Merthur fanfic, and I am yours.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Gwendolyn Cease | Kellie St. James | Kris Norris

8 Comments

So, we decided when we were setting up the blog schedule this year that we'd do monthly check-ins. We have no hard-set rules for these posts - they can be whatever we want them to be.

For me, I'm looking at this as an opportunity to keep myself accountable, to look at how I'm progressing toward the goals I set for myself, and to really look at what is working (and keep doing it!) and what isn't (and stop and come up with something new!).

That's all well and good, yeah? Problem is, I didn't really set concrete goals for myself for 2017 like I'd done for previous years.  When the year started, I was overwhelmed - for myriad reasons I won't get into in this post - and while I needed something to focus on and strive for, setting up specific goals (# of words written a week and that type of thing) was just too much for me at that time. So, for January, I decided I would look at areas of my life I wanted to do better in. I chose to focus on and establish routines with self-care and keeping my house in order (which, really, is kinda self-care because if there is chaos around me, my mind is chaos).

I used my bullet journal to help me out here. On each day, in addition to appointments, family obligations, and day job stuff, I had the same two checklists - one for self-care and one for the house stuff. It seems overly simple, I know, but sometimes in the midst of 4 kids' school and work schedules, a husband who was traveling overseas for work, work from the day job... Well, some days, it was a struggle to be able to fill in those little boxes. But I did it. And I figured out what worked for me...how and where to fit those things that were important to me, my health, and my sanity.

And another moment of harsh honesty--there were some days in there that those 2 little lists were the only thing I accomplished that day. And doing them, filling in those boxes, sticking to it would make a really shitty day marginally better.

So, what now? I'm going to keep with those checklists, because the importance of self-care and being at peace with my surroundings hasn't gone away. But now, I'm going to focus on getting back to what I love. Back to writing. And I feel ready to do that.

It has taken me quite a while to set aside the guilt I've been feeling for not finishing books that were meant to be finished this last year. A lot of stuff happened, and I wasn't in a place where I could do it. Taking care of myself - physically, mentally, emotionally - had to take priority. Writing, as well as many other things, had to take a backseat while I figured out how to do that. But, now that I have, writing gets to be on the top of the list again, and I'm super happy and excited about that.

From now on, in these monthly check-ins, I'm going to look back at the previous month and how I've been doing, and I'm also going to write down some goals for the following month. So, here we go for February...

  • Continue with the self care and house stuff - definitely makes a happier, calmer me. 🙂
  • Complete Safeword Protected (Bound series) and Into the Deep (Albion's Circle series) - so close on both of these, and since they have been on my plate, so to speak, for so long, getting these completely done and released will be a huge, huge thing for me.
  • Complete all scheduled blog posts for the month.

Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Paige Prince

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A new feature! Woot. We're going to be blogging about music - our faves and our not so faves.

So this month we have...

FAVE SOUNDTRACK - I love a lot of soundtracks, but right now, in this moment? Hamilton (I know, I know, shocker, right?)

Absolutely love this cast album, and at least once a day, a random line is sung in this house. And not always by me!

SONG THAT MAKES ME WANT TO DANCE - "Time Warp" from Rocky Horror Picture Show

Okay, it's usually this parody that is in my head lately...but they both make me want to dance!

...but they both make me want to dance!

SONG I LOVE TO SING ALONG WITH - Oh boy, this is a tough one... My kids will tell you (with varying degrees of disgust and embarrassment), I sing along to everything, all the freaking time. LOL But one I particularly love? "Gang of Rhythm" by Walk Off the Earth


Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Kris Norris | Paige Prince | Torrance Sené

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This month's Song Fic is inspired by "Albatross" by Susan McKeown. Have a listen if you want:

I'm going off the last verse of the song for my fic, which is super super short...

And I told you I would hold you
when my arms were still sore
but it's freezing and the beating of your wings
and I just can't take anymore
I watched the losing in your eyes
and I saw your tear-stained face
like a ghost like a promise

She sat on the edge of the bed, staring straight ahead, refusing to look at me as I packed my bag. Her fingers twisted together, knuckles white, and though the tears had stopped, I could still see the dried tracks they'd left on her pale cheeks. I zipped the bag, cringing at how loud it was and how she flinched at the sound.

Christ. I should have done this when she was at her mom's or sleeping. But I'd told myself that was the coward's way out, and the very least I owed her was to own what I was doing to us. To her.

The last thing I wanted was to cause her any more pain. She'd had her life's share and then some. My leaving? It hurt her, I knew that, but I had no clue how to make it better, because my staying - being here everyday, for the last few months, trapped in this house with its memories and aching emptiness - was hurting her too.

We both needed to be alone to heal. To deal with what we'd lost. That was what I told myself every second, anyway. It was the only way I could walk away from her. Telling myself it was for her as much as for me. And it was. I knew, to her, I was as much a reminder of the tiny life lost as she was to me.

"I'll call," I said quietly, lifting the bag and standing awkwardly, half-wishing she'd look at me but dreading it at the same time.

The moment she did, it was the punch in the gut I'd expected. The pain, the loss, the accusation in her tear-filled blue eyes...

"I'll call," I said again, stepping forward then freezing when she held up a hand.

"Just go."

Her voice, hoarse and ragged, tore at me, and I almost dropped the bag I clutched and went to her. Almost.

"I love you. That..." I swallowed around the massive lump in my throat. "That's as true as it ever was."

The corner of her mouth quirked up the tiniest bit. "I know."

She stared at me, not returning the declaration, though beneath everything else, I could see she still loved me. We loved each other. It just wasn't enough, right now. She nodded toward the door, chest jerking with her hitching breaths. She was trying not to cry... Fuck.

I closed the space between us and dropped a kiss on the top of her head before turning away from her and rushing from the room, from the house, my chest tight and eyes stinging.

Once in the car, I swiped at my eyes as I started the car. I pulled out of the driveway and drove away. The farther I got from the house I got, the lighter I felt, the easier I breathed. And I hated myself for that.

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris