A Look Back and a Step Forward

New Year

As the year comes to an end, I’ve found myself reflective about 2013. Overall, it has been challenging, but with every year I learn that growth comes through challenges.

There were a few firsts….

This was the first full year since I was 14 years old that I did not have a “traditional” job working for someone else. It felt strange.

First time I’ve received letters/emails stating a company went another direction in their hiring process (because I was overqualified).

Went to my first readers conference, Authors After Dark 2013 in Savannah, and had a blast getting to know other readers…and picking the brains of some of my favorite writers.

Took my first temp job representing an electronics company in retail stores, teaching their employees about the company’s products, how to sell them, position them, and overcome customer objections.

Milestone Firsts… The GOOD STUFF!

But…even with those negatives…it was also the first time, despite all my stops and starts, that I published my first book…an erotic short! Those of you who’ve known and followed me for a while are not even a little surprised.

I got to meet one of my favorite blogging buddies, Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson, in person. The day we spent together was priceless to me….and quite hilarious. (She’s now going through some tough times, though, and could use lots of good thoughts and prayers.)

I survived my first ever 5K…and I hate to run! But, with the help of a few friends, we killed ColorVibe‘s run. Our team name? “Taste The Rainbow.” Hehehe!

ColorVibe

ColorVibe

I wrote my first ever sponsored blog post, and it was a blast!

I turned 40. Fortunately this one won’t be repeated… overall, preparing for the party turned out to be very stressful, but the love and friendship I was shown was worth the effort.

I got to meet some of my favorite authors…like Cherise Sinclair (who tolerated me when I accosted her at the end of the autograph signing event).

She STILL autographed my book...

She STILL autographed my book…

And the lovely and talented Joey W. Hill who was gracious enough to take a pic with me at the elemental ball….

Me with Joey W. Hill

Me with Joey W. Hill

Not to mention the awesome author who transplanted to my hometown (Chicago), Julie Ann Walker…who bought me a drink and spent time chatting it up and laughing with me.

 

Me and Julie Ann Walker listening to my sister.

Me and Julie Ann Walker listening to my sister.

Or partying with C. J. Ellisson….at the pre-vampire ball party in her hotel room, then at her table.

Vampire Ball with C.J. Ellisson

Vampire Ball with C.J. Ellisson

 

There were a few heartbreaks

A dear friend of mine lost her battle to cancer. I tried to find a way to honor her memory…and share her love of life with you guys here.

My husband lost his job. That stung considering I had not found a day to day job outside of my writing. Fortunately he found a new one a couple weeks later.

Several more friends were diagnosed with various illnesses, mostly cancer.

I had to miss my half-sister’s wedding because of short notice and inability to afford plane tickets (they were nearly $1000).

~~~~~~~~~~

While I was listing a general recap of last year’s highlights, I was surprised at just how many positive things had happened last year. Why? Because the bad ones felt so big!

Overall, life is filled with good and bad…which makes it a bit bittersweet. It’s so easy to lose perspective and let the negative overtake you if you allow it to have a foot hold in your mind.

So, as I enter into 2014, I’m determined to go forward with my best foot forward and my attitude in check…and to make sure that I remember to celebrate all the positive milestones I’ll be experiencing along the way.

What about you? When you look back on this last year, what are some of your most standout moments, both good and bad?

I think The Verve had it right with their gorgeous song from Cruel Intentions….

Just Call Me A Pimpstress….Come Join The Party!

I almost had heart failure and died today.

My sister and brother-in-law are in town for the holidays. After my hubby got back in town from work, we piled into my brother-in-law’s rental. While he was adjusting his seat, hubby and I got into the back. No sooner had I closed the door when hubby screamed, “What the hell was that?”

I glanced over to see what had freaked him out, just in time to see a hideous frog jumping his way along the floor in my direction. As many of you may recall from a prior post or two, I’m petrified of frogs with good reason. Yes, I admit it. The instant I knew what fell on hubby I screamed, “It’s a frog” and threw myself at the door to escape. Well, that was the plan, anyway. Instead, I bounced back, mostly because I forgot to pull on the door handle. Finally, on the second try, I was out and running down the driveway screaming and kind of laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. This time, I was grateful not to be alone. My sister and hubby also jumped out of the car laughing like loons and hoping for escape.

My brother-in-law was the hero who captured the frog, saved me from certain death, and released the beastie back into the wild where it belonged…far, far away from me.

Fortunately, if I had died, I would’ve passed on happy in the knowledge that I made a dream come true. Yep! For those of you who missed the news, my first novelette was officially published on Christmas evening. Click Here to read an excerpt and to buy. I’d also appreciate ‘Likes’ to my Kindle Author Page if you’re of a mind to stop by. Yes, the book is as racy as I tend to be… 😉 Look for the follow up to arrive in February!

As we head into the new year, I wanted to take a moment to share a few links to a few blogs that have made me laugh, made me think, made me healthier…and just made my day over the last year.

Blogs to Make you Laugh (satire/humor):
Katie at Sass & Balderdash– Sure, sometimes her humor is snarkriffic. It’s also very sharp and witty. She rarely pulls punches. LOVE her even when we don’t see eye to eye.
Don Of All Trades-Not all of his stuff is goofy, irreverent, and politically incorrect…but a lot of it is.
Austin from Modern Philosopher– It’s true, he actually started a huge uproar with Survivor when folks believed the satire (Yeah, cause there are zombies all over Maine, right? LOL!)
Jenny from More Cowbell– She is versatile and eclectic, but I think my ultimate faves are probably her Undie Chronicles. I mean, who else could write a blog that matches undies to political affiliations?

Blogs on Food, Recipes, Restaurant Recommendations:
Dishing With Clarissa– She’s got info on healthy food, GMOs, and great recipes. She also talks about her goal and journey toward Masterchef.
Phil from Regular Guy NYC– Between his restaurant/bar/speakeasy recommendations, his contests or his tongue in cheek tales of people watching, you’ve gotta love him.

Blogs on Self Esteem, Sexuality and Mind Healthy Habits:
August of #GirBoner fame– She battles for positive self image, embracing your sexuality and just pure fun.
Ande of Bring Back Desire– She gives tips on how to keep the fires burning in the bedroom…
Marcia Richards– She’s a beautiful, powerful woman who reminds us that perception and reality are often very different.

Blogs That Get You Thinking or Inspire:
Maria from Swimming To My 50’s– She reminds us that birthdays aren’t what make us who we are. We can still constantly learn, grow, and inspire.
Tammy from Witty Woman Ranting– She writes about living life to the fullest, owning our sexual power, family, overcoming fear…and everything in between.
Professor Taboo– He writes the existential, the sexual (usually kink), the academic….but most of all, he makes you think even as he shares his struggles with candor and a bone deep honesty you’ve got to admire.
Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride– She’s been through heck and back, yet her blog promotion parties are still the coolest around and she takes time to know her followers.

Blogs on Art & Poetry:
Ben from Expressions Of My Life– Even with his early onset Parkinsons he finds a way to smile and paint and write poetry. You’ve got to respect that kind of joie de vivre!
Jen from Ramblings From a Mum– A clever poet who shares both her words and her love of life.

I know I left out a few people…because truly, there are so many of you that inspire me and make my life a better place. What I’d like from you is for you to share someone whose blog truly helped, inspired or encouraged you sometime in the last year…then check out the ones your fellow peeps left behind. Let’s help some folks kick their New Year off right by giving them the attention they deserve! Heck, this may not be a Jenny Hansen Pimp and Promote or Susie’s Use Me, Abuse Me…. But it IS a great opportunity to show some love!

And while you’re at it… Why don’t you go ahead and answer the question the following song is asking…

Ending the Year With Style! #ThreeForAll

Ya’ll have known that this year has been a tough one, but I’ve kept smiling. They say if you keep trucking and don’t quit, good things are bound to happen, right?

Well, my editor’s gift to me was a phone call telling me that my first book, a short, was finally ready to go! So, with a whole lot of butterflies in my stomach, both excitement and fear, I published my first book. Christmas evening, Three For All went live on Kindle! Merry Christmas to me! This is the first of a 3 part series, the next to be released early next year.

Three For All WEBSITE USE

Baltasar Gracian said “Friendship multiplies the good in life and divides the evil.”

This part of my life has shown me how absolutely true that statement is. I have been very fortunate to have some amazing friends and writers (often both) who have supported and encouraged me through my process. To you guys, I say thanks for believing in me. I hope my freshman effort makes you proud (especially my beta readers…yes, that means you, Jessi Gage and Ande).

In the meantime, I figured I’d share an excerpt from the new book. Yeah….NOW I’m getting all brave and stuff. 😉

Without further ado, here’s a little teaser from my new short, Three For All:

“Oh, come on,” James whined. “You’re not seriously going to make me go play by myself.”

“That was a loaded statement.” I bit my tongue to keep from giggling over James’ inadvertent innuendo. “But seriously, there are always options.”

“Options?” His eyes were nearly black with intensity, his curiosity was caught. “Such as?”

“Well,” I smiled brightly and stepped between both men, “We could always head back to your uncle’s cottage. Much more privacy there.”

James shook his head as he took a step back. “Oh, hell no. This is my vacation too. We are not going back there just so I can sit all by myself in my room while you two get your freak on, christening every room in the place. Been there, done that. No thanks. Not today. Love you, but no.”

The urge to do a happy dance at the opportunity that just landed in my lap was nearly irresistible. Instead, I batted my eyes at them playfully as my hands found their way up both men’s chests, enjoying the feel of firm muscle. “Who said you had to be by yourself?”

Christmas Eve With You

Hubby found a new job and has been away at training the last few days. He will be coming home this evening, so I found this song from Glee to be pretty perfect for today.

Hope your holidays are bright and joyful…filled with love, friendship and family. May you have an abundance of the things that feed your soul and encourage your growth and happiness.

I’m so grateful to have such a wonderful group of online friends and family! Thanks for your constant support.

A Grown Up Christmas Eve

It’s been a while since I’ve written poetry, so I figured…what better time than now? Moms and dads…this particular poem is for you guys. After all, you guys deserve a bit of naughty with all that nice, right?

A Grown Up Christmas Eve

Christmas eve has finally come,
The kids are tucked away
On whimsical dreams of Santa Claus
Arriving on his sleigh.

I wrap the gifts, you pour the wine,
Admire our lighted tree…
Music fills our silent night
As you softly sing to me.

You waltz me ‘cross the living room
Beneath the mistletoe,
Pull my body close to yours,
Kiss me sweet and slow.

Unwrap me like a present,
Unleash my inner fire,
Feel me quiver in your arms
Incite my heart’s desire.

Spread me open to your gaze,
Touch me skin to skin,
Slide your power into me
Fill me from within.

Drag my nails along your back,
Feral, wild, untamed.
Glide your tongue on heated flesh,
Until I scream your name.

Flood me with your ecstasy,
Drill me till I’m whole.
Surrender to my heart’s demand
Claim me, body and soul.

Wouldn’t you know, as I shared this one with hubby, he started to sing a song… So, since it also seemed appropriate, he picked our song for the night. I figured a bad boy like Mellencamp had the perfect version. 😉

 

Christmas Miracles and Sharing Hope

A big part of the Holiday Season are gifts and miracles. Even non-believers are often able to suspend cynicism to find something wonderful.

One of the pleasure I’ve gained because of my blog comes with the people I meet along the way. In fact, that’s how I was introduced to one of those miracles. Imagine this for a moment… You’ve just had your first child months prior when your health starts to rapidly decline. You go to the doctor and are given the frighteningly terrible diagnosis. Yes, it’s the dreaded “C” word…and not just any, but one that usually sees you dead within the year. She was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. That was back in 2005.

As most of you know, I love to tie music in to my posts. When I asked her for a favorite song, she gave me one of Peter Gabriel‘s greatest songs. When you consider her story, the love and support she received from the people around her…and the fact that she’s here for her daughter, the song makes a special kind of sense.

Heather Von St. James has an amazing story that I hope you check out for yourself and share with others. It kind of reminds me of another one of my favorite Christmas tunes. Afterall, when everything is at it’s darkest…. That’s when we usually find our miracles. Personally, I believe in all sorts of miracles. So here’s Amy Grant with My Grown Up Christmas List.

Do you know anyone who could use some extra positive thoughts or prayers? Maybe someone suffering from cancer who needs a bit of hope? Or maybe someone who IS another Christmas Miracle? Please share on here…. I’d love to add them to my prayers, and I’m sure if we all get together to push good thoughts and prayers this way…we can give hope and miracles a helping hand….