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What Kind of Year Had It Been?

Kind of a crappy one, to be totally honest.

The world is on fire. Literally in Australia. Between politics and idiocy and gaslighting and all around fuckery, it’s been tough.

In May, I pulled all my titles from Dreamspinner Press. With their failure to pay, they breached our contract and I was able to get the rights back to all 11 titles I had with them.

Eventually I got paid but I’m one of the few. And far more authors are owed far, far more than I was.

The nonsense is still going on.

Romancelandia blew up in the past week. With good reason. I’m not a member of RWA and now I’m glad I could never scrape together the funds for membership. I won’t rehash it all, there are plenty of people out there who have done it far better and more eloquently than I can.

I became mired in depression and it took me a long time to see it. Part of me thinks I should have known by the sheer fact I had no desire to write or knit and those creative pursuits are my biggest passion. But depression can do that to you. Make it so you can’t see the forest for the trees.

I changed jobs and loved my new position, only to have the rug yanked out from beneath me and forced into a position I did not want. And it was a terrible situation for me. So I changed jobs again.

But in all the weight, there is some good.

All of my titles have been republished with JMS Books. Save one, the third in the Requiem Inc series, which will be out next month.

I did manage to get some new words on the page. Forever Nine and Miracles in Space were released this year. (Buy links in the books tab at the top) Accepting Submission will be out next month.

And I’m banging out a short story right now that has a tight deadline that should be out early next year as well.

I have been woefully less productive than I wanted to be. When I look at this, I feel as though I’ve failed. No, that’s not right. But fell short for sure. Short of my goals and short of my hopes. And that’s a hard pill to swallow.

It’s been a tough year. A hard year. But I did manage words. And I did find my knitting mojo again.

So maybe 2019 wasn’t the best year. But it’s nigh on over, and 2020 looms.

I’m going to work on getting more words on the page so I can bring you all more fluffy, happy, satisfying HEAs. Because goddess knows we all need that right now.

Here’s wishing you all that 2020 is your best year yet.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Special Edition

**As promised, here’s the final chapter of Cody’s story!**

The only lights were the Christmas tree, the fireplace, and dozens of flickering, electric flameless candles. I’d put them on every surface that could hold them, and it gave the living room a warm, homey glow. Friends and family sat on every available surface. Cindy was singing along with the carols playing through the Bluetooth speakers, and she had a lovely voice. The kids were shrieking with laughter. Papa Jim had gotten into the eggnog and was smiling goofily at his wife. Cole was being weird, but since he had confided he was going to propose to Marie tonight, I wasn’t surprised. The whole house was filled with the scent from the mulled cider I had warming on the stove, and laughter and conversation ebbed and flowed.

This was what Christmas was all about.

I couldn’t stop smiling, even if I wished Jake was here to enjoy it with me. But every time that thought crossed my mind, I only needed to look around and feel joy. Cole caught my eye and gave me a shaking grin. Knowing that was our sign, I flashed a thumbs up, and picked up the nearly empty cookie tray. I headed into the kitchen to fill it with Annabelle’s perfectly decorated confections. While I was there, I pulled out the bottle of champagne, and gathered up the flutes from the pantry where I’d set them earlier after I’d washed them. This way I’d be ready to pop the cork to celebrate my brother’s engagement.

Just as I was setting down the tray, Cindy wandered in. Her face was flushed, most likely equal parts wine and happiness, and I leaned over to kiss her cheek.

“How you doing, Cody?”

I smiled and moved away, then started removing the foil from the bottle.

“Okay. Good.” I sighed. “Happy and sad at the same time, you know?”

“I know. That’s the beauty of being human. We’re capable of feeling all sorts of emotions at the same time.”

I chuckled because she wanted me to. But in the back of my mind, I was wondering if I could put my foot down and insist that Jake resign his commission or somehow demand he never get deployed during the holidays again. As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I dismissed it. I’d never do that to him. I’d just have to deal if it happened again. And in a few more years, it would not longer be an issue.

“You need any help with this?” Cindy asked.

“Nope.” I got the bottle open, the loud pop a satisfying sound, and offered her a huge grin. “I’m all set.”

“Okay.” She patted my arm and headed back into the other room, swaying a little with the music. She was too damn cute.

I’d just finished pouring all the glasses when Cole stuck his head through the doorway. I smiled wide.

“You ready?”

“Sure am,” I responded. “You?”

“Yep,” he said. And he did look a hell of a lot calmer. I followed him out, and watched as he walked across the room. The dead silent room. When he stopped beside Marie, I expected him to clear his throat or drop onto one knee, but he did neither. In fact, his gaze slid across the room toward the front door.

Movement caught my attention, and then I was sure I was hallucinating. Because there stood a Marine in his service uniform, cover tucked under his arm. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. Because this could not be real. It couldn’t be.

“Hey, baby boy,” my husbands deep voice came out of the Marine mirage. The Marine that had his face and his smile. And was standing in our living room when he should be half a world away.

My knees gave out, but Jake was there before I hit the ground, saving me and holding me up, just as he always did. His touch jolted me back to reality, let me know that this was really happening and I threw myself at him. Literally threw myself into his arms and climbed up him, wrapping him tight with both arms and legs.

An eternity passed and I didn’t care that it was two days till Christmas and we had a room full of people staring at us. Jake was in my arms. And then he was kissing me. With all the power he possessed, all the longing he’d built up, and I was devouring him back with that same aching need.

Eventually he had to put me down, but he didn’t let me go. He kept me flush against him and I was crying, but the only reason that bothered me was because I couldn’t see his face clearly.

I shot a look at my brother who grinned sheepishly.

“Surprise?” Cole chuckled. Then he took Marie’s hand and held it up, and the light caught the diamond on her finger. “She already said yes.”

There were shouts, maybe of glee and congratulations, but I couldn’t process it at all. It was all just meaningless sound

Jake took hold of my chin to turn my attention back to him, then used his thumbs to wipe the tears from my cheeks. He smiled a watery smile of his own.

“How?” I managed to croak.

“I had leave, and I pulled some strings. But I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. Not when I was deployed. But I’m not a Staff Sergeant for nothing, right?” He kissed me again, quickly but full of so much heat. “I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to get your hopes up if I couldn’t make it work. And then even when I knew it would, I decided it would be fun to surprise you.”

“Oh Christ,” I whispered, still not able get my brain online. “Jake.”

“Yeah, sweetheart. It’s me. And I’m here for two weeks.” He gave me a crooked grin. “God willing and the creek don’t rise. Merry Christmas, baby. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Merry Christmas indeed.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Cody’s story, part three!**

Jake’s mother was at the door. That, in and of itself, wasn’t strange. She’d taken it upon herself to stop in on a semi-regular basis since Jake had been deployed, so we could miss and worry about him together. We’d always gotten along great anyway, and when she found out I didn’t have a mother of my own, she’d adopted me as one of her boys. She loved me even more once I married her son.

What was strange, however, was the huge box she held in her arms.

I opened he door, kissed her cheek, and tried to take the box from her. She made a noise of disgust, and I simply stepped back and allowed her to enter, a fond smile on my face.

“Whatcha got there, Cindy?”

She clomped into the house, winter boots loud on the hardwood floors, and set the box on the table before turning to me with a wide grin and a waggle of her eyebrows.

“I was feeling crafty.” She gave me a conspiratorial wink and started removing her outerwear. “And since my house is bursting at the seems, and Jim would murder me and hide the body if I made anything else holiday related, you get the spoils of my work.”

I laughed, because her husband was the gentlest soul on the planet. Papa Jim wouldn’t murder a fly, let alone his beloved wife and the mother of his children. I took her coat from her and when I returned from hanging it on the hook by the door, Cindy was already busying herself with making a pot of coffee. It was going to be a lengthy visit then. That was fine. I could do with the company.

“May I look?” I was already peeling the flaps of the box back, knowing she wouldn’t deny me. Cindy had outdone herself. The piece was full of poinsettias, evergreen boughs, and pine cones. Two red pillar candles graced the center, and baby’s breath and a dusting of fake snow and glitter gave it a shine. The wide red glass dish gave it extra elegance, and I knew each piece had been set into florist’s foam so that it could be kept watered. The woman did nothing by halves.

“It’ll look great on the table at the party on Sunday, don’t you think?”

“What party?” I asked absently, running my finger along the velvety soft leaves of one poinsettia. Then her words hit me, and I jerked back, my gaze snapping to hers. “Cindy, I–”

“You weren’t thinking of not having the party, now were you.” It should have been a question, but Cindy purposefully made it a statement. When I didn’t respond, she gave me a half smile. “The holiday party you throw for the family, and your friends, is tradition, Cody. Just because Jake isn’t home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it.”

“I know,” I whispered, dropping my gaze.

Cindy appeared at my side, two mugs of steaming coffee in her hands. She set them on the table, then gently took my arm and turned me to face her. I couldn’t quite meet her eyes, but she cupped my face in her hands.

“This is your favorite time of year. This party you throw? We all look forward to it every year. And you should have it, and enjoy it, because even if you do? That doesn’t mean you miss Jake any less.” Her voice grew soft, and I heard the threat of tears in the slight waver. “It doesn’t mean you’re not worried and scared for him. It doesn’t mean you don’t love him. All it means is that you’re doing your best to keep yourself together until he comes home.”

Until she said it, I hadn’t even realized that’s what I’d been doing. I missed Jake so much it was a constant ache, and it sucked celebrating without him. But more than that, I feared that if I some how didn’t spend all my time worrying about him, if I actually let myself enjoy something, it would somehow negate his absence. Or worse, make people think I didn’t love him as hard as I did, considering he was risking his life in a war zone.

I hugged Cindy tight, because she put voice to the things no one else would say. And just her reassurance made me feel better. I could love and miss Jake, worry and fret for him, and still do things that brought me joy. Cindy petted my hair and hummed tunelessly and just let me soak up her love.

Several hours and a pot of coffee later, Cindy was gone and I was sitting at the table, admiring her handy work. It was then that I noticed the spot of white that didn’t belong. And that definitely hadn’t been there before.

My hands shook as I freed the envelope and I almost couldn’t get the damn thing open.

Hello love,

Mom is working her special brand of magic for me. I asked her to put this together, and to give you this note, so you remember that the holidays are about togetherness and joy, family and friends, even if your husband is half a world away. Take plenty of pictures and spam my inbox with them. If Dad gets into the eggnog again, make sure you get video. He’s the most affectionate drunk I’ve ever seen. Party hard, sweetheart. Celebrate the season. Go all out. This is harder on you than it is on me. I miss you like crazy, but at least I have my platoon and the structure of the Corp to keep me from going insane. I’ll be home as soon as I can.

I love you,

Jake

I cried, but there was some happy mixed in. Jake never failed to make me smile, even from thousands of miles away. He’d be home eventually. And until then, I’d have to muddle through some how.

I laughed at myself, turned on the carols, and started making a list. I had a party to plan

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Here’s the next installment in the tale of Cody and Jake!**

I didn’t get much time to talk to Jake, so when he was available, I was glued to my phone. Calls weren’t usually an option, but we had an app that allowed us to message. He was the only one I talked to on it, so my body was cued in to the alert tone. It could wake me from the dead of sleep, or pull me from a work zone out. Which meant I never missed the opportunity to talk to him, since we were working on his schedule.

Being deployed meant he was twelve hours ahead of me in time zone, and busy as hell. When Jake was available, I wanted to be able to speak to him.

But inevitably, the conversations got cut off with him saying abruptly he had to go. Almost always. I expected it, but it was still disappointing when it happened. Tonight had been especially hard, since we’d only gotten a little more than an hour. I tossed my phone onto the coffee table and buried my face in my hands. I wouldn’t cry, but I was frustrated and sad. I missed him so badly. And even though I hated that our conversations were often cut short, at least I knew he was alive and well. That’s what mattered.

“Cody!” The deep voice registered in my brain a second after I realized the front door had opened. I knew I locked it which meant my brother had used his key.

“What are you doing here?” I griped. “And you could have knocked.”

Cole just grinned, and shook something at me. It took a second to recognize my jacket. “Come on. Get bundled up.”

I scowled. “No. What?”

“Yes,” he said, that grin growing even wider. “We’re going to Lights on the Lake. It’s one of the walking nights and we’re going.”

I groaned and flopped backward. No way was I going. It wasn’t that I didn’t love it, because I did. Every year, the Parks and Rec department set up the animated light show along the parkway that ran next to the lake. Most of the time, it was for cars to drive slowly along, with Christmas carols playing on the car’s radio. A few times during the season, they opened it for pedestrians. It was bitterly cold, but so much fun to be walking through the lights.

But I wouldn’t do it without Jake.

“No. Cole, come on. It’s too cold. It’s probably icy. I don’t want to.”

Cole wouldn’t be dissuaded. He was bigger than me, and spent far more time in the gym, so it was easy to grab my arm and haul me to my feet. I protested again and shoved him hard, but he only stumbled back one step. I turned away, but before I could get far, my brother snagged me in a hug.

“I know it sucks, Cody. But come on. You could use a little cheer, and I know deep down you want to.”

“It’s not the same,” I whispered.

Cole squeezed me tightly, then stepped back. “I know. But do it anyway. This is your thing, man. Miss him under the lights, okay?”

I still didn’t want to, and I almost flat out refused. Cole might be pushy–he was my older brother and it was in his job description–but if I really put my foot down, he’d listen. But the look on his face, even when he was trying to grin, let me know he was worried about me. And he had reason to be. I wasn’t myself. How could I be when my heart was half a world away?

So I put on my coat, mittens, scarf, and hat. I pulled on my warmest boots. And I climbed into his monster of a truck for the fifteen minute drive to the lake. I even managed a half smile when he bought me a peppermint mocha and joined the throng of holiday merry makers walking down the path.

As the minutes passed, and the lights twinkled, and the music played, some of my sadness lightened. I would still rather be here with Jake, but watching the kids screech and point as the lights did their thing, exclaim over the jumping reindeer and the dancing trees, hearing the absolute joy that infused the cold, crisp air, something loosened in me and I felt a bit of that holiday spirit creeping in.

We made it to the turn around point, where we’d walk back to the cars through a different set of lights. My breath seized in my lungs as Cole pulled me to a stop. This display had been added last year, a unicorn dressed as Santa, climbing down a chimney. It’s mane was red and green, and it’s horn sparkled gold. I remembered seeing it for the first time with Jake last year, and kissing him hard right on this spot as joy filled me.

Tonight it made me want to cry.

Cole cleared his throat, tossed an arm around my shoulders, and handed me a letter. I cocked an eyebrow at him, but he just tugged me a little closer to the display so that I could read by it’s light.

Oh Sweetheart,

If you’re reading this, then your brother feels you could do with some holiday cheer. I’m so sorry I’m not there with you this year. I know how hard it is. But remember how much fun you have, looking at the lights? You don’t need me there to enjoy it. It’d be better if I was, for both of us. I can’t be there to feel the cold and see the snow, I’m not there to watch the lights dance in your eyes. So enjoy it for both of us, and when I come home, I want to hear all about it. About how everything feels like magic and holiday cheer. You’ve gotta Christmas for both of us, baby boy. Don’t let me down.

I love you,

Jake

I laughed even as I choked on a sob. He was so good at the subtle guilt, but he did it because he knew I needed to hear it. I needed to be reminded he was keeping our country safe while I was at home, pining. So I took a deep breath, and forced myself to take it all in. Cemented it all in my mind so that once he was home, after I kissed him senseless and we spent three days in bed, I’d be able to tell him all about the magic of the lights.

He was counting on me.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Follow along this December as we watch Cody get his Christmas Miracle. Four part series coming your way, with the first three being the Fridays, and the final installment on Christmas Eve**

Normally I loved the holidays. From Halloween to New Year’s, I celebrated everything I could. I went all out with the pumpkins, cobwebs, and ghosts at the end of October, which transitioned into nicely more pumpkins, mums, and gourds for November. Then the snowflakes, snowmen, bells, stockings, garlands, and elves came out on the day after Thanksgiving and carried me into December. The tree went up the first weekend of the month, and carols filled my house. And then I left it all up, but added sparklers and streamers for the last day of the year.

But this year, things were different.

Jake and I had been together for nine years, and this wasn’t the first time he’d been deployed. And usually I used my love of the holiday season to keep myself upbeat and occupied. But it was the first time since we married three years ago. And that made it feel different in ways I’d never anticipated.

I knew being a Marine husband was hard. I’d been doing it in one capacity or another since Jake and I first started dating. I’d been with him as he came out to his platoon as bi, and was there by his side, nervous as hell, as he finally introduced me to his brothers in arms. It hadn’t always been easy. Nothing worth having ever was. But we’d made it through all of the hard times and we were happy.

Jake was nearing his twenty years, and he’d been stationed here for the past five. I thought, maybe naively, that we were in the home stretch. He had his job on base that he excelled at, and his CO was more than happy to keep him around. Retirement was still officially two years away, and Jake wasn’t even sure yet if he was going to muster out when he hit his twenty years. We were still talking about it. I wanted him to, but he loved being a Marine, and I wasn’t going to stand in the way of that. I never would.

When the orders came through that his platoon was being deployed, my heart sank. I hated being apart from him for such a long stretch. He’d been gone for nine months, and I just didn’t have it in me to celebrate without him. I’d halfheartedly put up some of my fall decorations, but I hadn’t felt it in my soul. And now it was the sixth of December, and I hadn’t changed to my Christmas/winter decorations.

I was feeling it especially hard today as my cubicle mate had been playing carols all day. So by the time I got home from work, the melancholy had settled in deep. I was moping so hard, I almost didn’t see the package waiting for me on the doorstep. Knowing I hadn’t ordered anything, I picked it up cautiously. But it had my name on it, and the black swoop-smile on the side of the box let me know it was probably safe.

Once inside, I set it carefully on the table by the door, took off all my winter gear, and then picked it up and padded in my socked feet to the kitchen. The tape came off easily, and inside was a crystal star. It was gorgeous, the way the facets caught the light, and I gasped at it’s sparkle.

The note was at the bottom.

Hi baby boy,

I know this year is going to be super hard on you. Me too. I want to be with you, to watch your face light up in joy as the holidays approach. To experience your happiness. But I can’t this year. So instead, I’m sending you something I know will put that look on your face, and that spirit in your heart. When you put this on top of the tree, when you see it there every day, know that my heart is there with you and I’ll see you as soon as I can. Enjoy the holidays, sweetheart. Even if I can’t be there with you.

I love you,

Jake

The tears were involuntary but I smiled through them. Carefully placing the tree topper back in the box, I scrambled to the storage space to pull out all the decorations and get busy. I needed everything up and decorated so I could put Jake’s thoughtful gift on the tree and feel his love.

He wanted me to, so I would.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Let’s visit with Cole and Luke from last week!**

I groaned as the alarm went off, then rolled over and buried my face in the pillow. Luke reached over me to silence the alarm, then snuggled up and pressed his nose into the back of my neck.

“Wake up, baby.”

His voice was soft and cajoling, but I’d eaten far too much yesterday and had one too many glasses of wine. After the whole thing with Luke’s mother, I was emotionally wrung out too. I just wanted to sleep.

“No work,” I muttered, the pillowcase sticking to my lips. “Keep sleeping.”

“Oh no,” Luke said with a chuckle and giving me a gentle shake. “This was all you. The whole reason we set the alarm in the first place. Time to wake up.”

“Don’t wanna.”

Luke chuckled again, squeezed me tightly, then attacked my neck with playful, biting kisses. I squirmed, my body reacting to his touch, but just as I was about to really get into it he pulled away. I felt him sit up, and then he whipped the blanket back and gave me a sharp smack to the ass.

I yelped.

“Get up, love. It’s Black Friday.” The sound of him standing was immediately followed but a groan as he stretched. I flopped onto my back quickly so I wouldn’t miss the show, but he was finished by the time I got my bleary eyes to focus. Damn.

“Come on, Cole. I’ll start the coffee, you get dressed. You know what you have to do.” He pointed finger guns at me and I couldn’t help but laugh.

By the time I got into the kitchen, there was a pot of hot, delicious brew waiting for me. I poured a cup, inhaled deeply, then added a dollop of creamer and sipped tentatively, not caring that it was too hot.

“You get everything?” Luke asked. I nodded, still not ready for speech. He grinned. “This was you, Cole. This is what you wanted. I only agreed because I love you.”

Feeling more awake now, I was able to smile. He was never shy about giving me the words and I loved hearing them. I leaned over so I could kiss his neck, and then said, “I know. I love you.”

Luke pressed his lips to my forehead. “Breakfast first?”

I shook my head. “Maybe in a bit.”

“Good then. Let’s get cracking.”

****

It took the better part of the morning, but by the time we stopped for lunch, everything was pretty much done. The tree (fake because Luke was allergic) was up and fully decorated, the white lights sparkling from every branch. We didn’t have a ton of ornaments, but what we did have meant something to us and it looked incredibly pretty. The garlands were up above the doorways, candles and bells decorated the end tables, and my collection of elves had found homes throughout the house. We even had candles in every front window, the battery operated kind that would flicker and cast a warm glow without lighting the curtains on fire.

Soft carols played over the speaker, and Luke had just laid down the finishing touch: a dark blue rug with snowflakes all over it. It looked fantastic in front of our space heater, which I only got because it looked like a real fireplace. Or a close approximation anyway.

I sighed happily, and sat on the couch to take it all in. Luke joined me a few minutes later, bringing with him mugs of hot chocolate. It was the instant kind, but it was the thought that counted. I kissed him as I took my mug, and then snuggled into his embrace. We sipped and he hummed along with “Adeste Fideles.”

Warmth and happiness filled me. I had Christmas and the man I loved. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Hey y’all. Flash Fic Friday is back!**

I shoved my hands deeper into my coat pockets and bounced on my toes. The wind whipped around me, but my anger…my hurt kept me warm.

“Baby, it’s freezing out here.” Luke’s voice was soft, cajoling, but I just shot him a scathing look over my shoulder. I hadn’t heard the door, but it had taken him long enough to come after me. And that, too, added to my hurt and anger.

“I’m aware,” I bit out.

Luke stepped around me so he could hold my gaze. I met his stubbornly, raising my chin. Defiance just poured off me.

“We’re about to serve dinner,” he said in that same tone.

I scowled harder. “I’m aware.”

He blew out a breath and chanced a step closer. He lifted one hand, as though he was going to touch me, and normally I would be all about that but not right now. Luke must have seen that in my face because he let his arm drop.

“Cole, honey–”

“Your mother is mean to me,” I said, trying for firm but it came out more like whine. I shook my head and shored up my resolve. “She’s so rude.”

“I know,” he murmured.

“The things she said to me! And not just today.” I made an angry noise, and I caught the twitch of Luke’s lips, because he always found it amusing when I made that noise. But he knew better than to smile.

“I know,” he said again.

“And you just let her. You let her say…” I trailed off because that was the worst part. That his mother spoke to me with rudeness and disdain was hard enough to bear. But to have Luke just sit there, let her speak to me that way, that was so much worse. I loved him more than anything on the planet, and for the past two years he’d been my everything. My rock, my solace, my confidant. And I was the same for him. From the moment we met, we just clicked. It hadn’t taken us more than a few weeks to go from friends to lovers, and we’d been inseparable ever since. Which is why I put up with his mother in the first place.

We didn’t see much of her, but it’s was Thanksgiving, and she insisted Luke had to be here for the family dinner. Which meant I was here too. Because wherever he went, so I did I.

Luke took another step closer. “Do you trust me?”

I sighed, half exasperation, half affection. “You know I do.”

“Then please trust me.” He held out a hand. “Come back inside.”

I didn’t hesitate to take his hand. Because really, no matter how angry and hurt I was, no matter that his mother was a wretched woman, no matter what was going on between us, I loved and trusted him.

The scents of turkey and stuffing assailed me as we stepped into the house and removed our outer wear. Once we were done, Luke took my hand again and he led me into the dining room. His entire family was gathered around the table, and the feast itself looking like a Norman Rockwell painting. Every dish was picture perfect, and there were even candles around the centerpiece of autumnal flowers. Luke pulled out my chair and I sat, steadfastly refusing to make eye contact with anyone. Least of all his mother.

The room was quiet, but that wasn’t unusual. I’d been to enough dinners with his family over the years to know that every one remained quiet until after Luke’s mother said the blessing. I kept my gaze down, but smiled a little when Luke slid into the seat next to me and put a hand on my thigh under the table.

“Dear Lord,” his mother began, and I fought not to flinch at the sound of her voice. “We gather together as a family today to share in the joy of us all and partake of this amazing food You’ve provided for us. And I ask that you help open my heart to this beautiful soul my son has fallen in love with.”

My head shot up, I couldn’t help it, and Luke’s mother was looking right at me. She gave a tiny smile and drew a breath.

“I suffer from the mother’s affliction that no person in this world could be good enough for my son. And it has caused me to be rude and judgmental, when Cole has shown this family nothing but kindness. My own son had to call me to task, point out my behavior and show me how unacceptable it is. Lord, I ask you to forgive my sins in this regard. But Cole, I also ask you to do the same. I should be thankful that such a wonderful person loves my Luke, today especially, but every day. I’m sorry I hurt you, Cole. And I promise to do better.”

I was stunned. Because for the first time, I actually heard genuineness in her words. She meant it. All I could do was nod.

She smiled, a little shaky, but it was there. “I’m far from perfect. And I’m sure I’ll mess up again. Next time, just call me out on my rudeness, okay Cole?”

“Uh, sure.”

Everyone laughed, his mother closed the prayer, and I turned to Luke as everyone dug into the food, chatter starting up. He was wearing a huge grin.

“I’m thankful for you, baby. Every day. Every hour. I love you.”

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Why I Don’t NaNoWriMo

The first time I did NaNo, it was five years ago. I’d heard it was a thing but never really looked into it. But then I was a newly minted published author and I was like, man, I need to do this! I’m an author! Let’s go!

I had my brain engaged and I started writing as soon as the clock ticked over to November 1st. I came home from work every day and wrote. I wrote like a rockstar! And I wrote 51,000 words in ten days and had a finished book! I was amazing.

And every single word of it was garbage.

I spent the rest of the month trying to fix it, but I basically just….couldn’t. And that’s when I learned that my brain does not write this way. I need to adjust and change as I go. And I need to take breaks from a story and just figure out if what I’m writing is the right thing to write. I need to let things percolate in between. So while I can (and do!) write a lot of words in quick succession, the whole push behind NaNo isn’t what fuels me and I don’t produce quality words. And when I don’t start with something that’s close to what I want in the first place, it’s impossible for me to edit and tweak and fix and polish.

I tried it again the year before last with that in mind, just on my own, and worked in the way that I know I work best. But I didn’t complete the challenge and that felt like a failure, even knowing that any words at all is a win.

So I don’t NaNoWriMo. Because it doesn’t fit my process and my brain can’t let go of the feeling of failure when I don’t do what I should.

But to all you authors out there that do and can? Rock on! You’ve got this! You’re going to write amazing words this month, and we’re all looking forward to seeing those words in print. All the blood, sweat, tears, frustration, and joy will be worth it in the end. I’m cheering you on the sidelines.

Write on, writers!

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The Truth of the Matter

Every time I go to the doctor, I’m asked if I’m depressed. I get it. I have pretty severe anxiety, and anxiety and depression (as an NP once put it to me) “play very well together.” On the whole, depression is not something I experience. So I can truthfully answer that no, I’m not depressed.

But these last few months…hell most of this year….it’s been different. I have felt so very uninspired. And I’ve blamed it on the publisher who shall not be named and the very super crappy situation at the EDJ (which thankfully will be changing in a few weeks). And they’ve definitely played their role in all of this. The mental and emotional energy I’ve had to put into dealing with all that has left my well empty.

And just today, I had a face palm moment of realizing that another reason is because I have been absolute crap at taking my medication. Not for any reason other than I keep forgetting and then it gets pushed around and hidden under something and then I really really forget.

Words have been like pulling teeth. I haven’t knitted hardly at all. And I haven’t worn makeup in weeks, and that’s my favorite form of self expression. For a super creative person like me, to not be creative and fill the well has made things so much worse.

So the lack of spoons and the lack of meds…yep. I’ve been depressed. Only I didn’t see it for what it was. Needed a little tough love.

And it also makes me feel better, in a way. Because there’s a reason that I’ve been so uninspired and uncreative. And there are things I can do to help myself. And I am making those changes. I’m unhappy with the me I’ve been lately, and unhappy with my lack of engagement.

So expect things to change around here! I’ve updated this site so that all the links and covers are current for my rereleases. I’ve got the books that are coming soon up as well. And Flash Fic Friday, which has sadly been absent for an unforgivable amount of time, will be making a come back later this month.

A Timely Gift rereleased today! So if you haven’t had a chance to read it you can check it out here! If you’re in the mood for a holiday story that starts with a solstice gift and ends on Christmas, be sure to take a look. And it’s on sale right now! (If you read the original, no need to repurchase. There have been minor tweaks, but no substantive¬† changes. It’s still the same story)

And coming up in just a few weeks is Miracles in Space. Y’all. I’ll do a dedicated post for this one soon but it’s an homage to my beloved Star Trek. It’s got alien races and politics, and I kid you not, a language that has rules and was created for me by an actual linguist. (who also happens to be my brother, but that doesn’t negate the linguist part) Oh and mpreg. You can preorder it here. And it’s part of a trio of sci fi stories, so if you’d like, you can get all three in one collection. Check it out.

So to sum up? I’ve been in a bad place, and it’s been a combination of outside and inside forces. But now that I’ve fully recognized it, I will do what I can to help myself. That’s not to say I won’t still have bad days, but here’s hoping they become fewer and farther between.

 

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The State of Things

Yeah, so it’s been a while. And I always keep saying that I’m going to do better about keeping things updated and then never do. I need to try, that’s for sure.
But the truth is…I’m mentally wrung out.

I haven’t spoken much about the Dreamspinner debacle. I don’t intend to go into specific detail here either. I think it’s pretty well known that authors (and other content creators) are not getting paid and that there’s a lot of…waffle coming from the DSP staff, in particular the CEO. I don’t need to rehash it. I pulled all my titles with them back in May after yet another excuse about late payments.¬† Late payments have been going on for quite a while, and there was always some excuse. And then everything started coming out, and I bit the bullet and requested my titles back. I was granted reversion immediately, and began the process of republishing them with JMS Books. Just about everything should be back out for purchase within the coming months, and some titles are already out again.

And as of today, no, I still haven’t gotten paid for Quarter 2.

I will say I’m sad at the state of things with that press, but it’s also not the same press I first signed with more than six years ago. And I need to do what is best for me and my writing career if I intend to keep writing.

With all that being said, it’s no wonder my creative mojo has kind of tanked. Not only is there this going on, but the day job has…gone a bit sideways and it’s also taking it’s toll. I find myself out of spoons, and fucks, and I just can’t at the end of the day. Most of the time.

I’ve been stress crafting soaps. And knitting some. And watching people create things on YouTube.

But in my heart of hearts, despite everything else, I am a writer. I have been since I was ten years old and first put pen to paper. And fingers to keyboard. I constantly live with voices in my head, plots and characters, and interesting turns of phrase. I’ve improved in my craft, and with each new thing I write, I try to get even better. I love creating stories, and helping my guys find their happily ever after. I may not be the most popular author in a fairly saturated genre, but I have a particular voice and there are those who enjoy my style, my characters, and my narrative.

So today I break ground on a new story. Today I remind myself that there are readers out there who want to see what I have coming up next. Today I remember it’s not all about the money, and that the joy of writing a story is it’s own reward. (Don’t get me wrong, the money is important as I, and all authors, deserve to be paid for our work. But it’s not the only thing.)

Today I start Declan and Luka’s story.