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You Have To Play To Win

dice

I’m clearly not a risk taker. I’ll just say that in case my years and years of publishing short stories and not full length works, waiting over a decade to even attempt editing a collection myself and starting and stopping umpteen novels weren’t enough of a clue.

I touch on the topic from time to time. Okay, I talk about it a lot, so much so that I start getting on my own nerves which only leads to more frustration.

But, with the publishing world being as finicky as it has been lately, and my not having a steady 9 to 5 in over a year, I’ve been tossing around ideas on how I can make things happen for myself, be it revising my NaNo novel, doing a kick starter for another anthology, or putting out a few volumes of my own previously published shorts.

Those things sound easy enough. And they probably are easy enough. But then the fear kicks in. A writer friend asked this morning what exactly the fear was and I told her…”fear of the end.” Sure, success might be there waiting, and so could failure but I’d never know which one it is if I never get there. I guess this is my crazy little safe zone.

The thing about my safe zone, though, is that I’m not doing what I love. I’m not going where my heart leads me. And I’m not  making any real attempt at achieving any major goal I’ve ever set for myself. So, while I’m safe from hurt and disappointment and failure, I’m also hiding from what really could be an awesome future for me and my work.

I’ve been getting signs lately. Not only had I been considering moving forward with these ideas myself, a dear writer friend tossed them out to me as well. Then this morning I had a phone conversation with my BFF and self proclaimed biggest fan, and she invited me to set up a booth at a local Women’s Expo. I had been approached by someone else about this recently and my excuse, of course, was that I didn’t have anything to offer. Sure, there’s Can’t Get Enough, but otherwise, what had I done lately? What comes next?

So, she also brought up the possibility of me putting together some collections. And I mean, self publishing now a days is too damn easy not to. I have just shy of a month to do this, and I’ve decided that I will. I mean, you can’t get mad that someone else won the lottery if you never even buy a ticket…right?

Renee Swindle’s “Shake Down The Stars” – A Review

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Not so recently, I was the lucky winner of the latest novel of Renee Swindle, A Pinch of Ooh La La. I was happily surprised by this win as I had tried for it on a whim and had just finished Ms. Swindle’s second novel, Shake Down The Stars. For years and years I waited for another Renee Swindle book as I loved  her first, Please Please Please so very much.

Now, before I begin this review I must tell you that I’m forgetful. Let’s just…put that out there. I say and do things on the fly. I hoard notebooks. I write myself notes on an app on my phone. It’s how I live. I’m saying all that to say that I immediately wrote a review for Shake Down The Stars which I fully intended to post here and upload to Amazon. Who knows how that went awry, but in one of my cleaning frenzies yesterday, I uncovered the abandoned review, and well, better late than never…right?

In this ultimate comeback novel, the main character Piper won me over from page one. You see, hooking and reeling me in the beginning is important as I have the attention span of a… wait… what was I saying?

Oh, right. Piper. What a mess! But quite frankly, I need for my characters to be a bit of a mess, so I know they’re real. Fortunately, Renee Swindle shared my sentiment in this brilliantly crafted and tightly written novel where she presents readers with a character who immediately resonates. Be it Piper’s alcoholism, (whether she acknowledges it or not), family turmoil or unimaginable loss, there is a little part of this character we can all relate to.

It is all these parts of Piper that made me ask the question over and over: Who will love you at your worst?

Though Piper isn’t overtly in search or love, or any one thing in particular, it’s a question she seems to want the answer to herself. While dealing with the unthinkable in the only way she knows how, drinking until she can no longer think nor feel, engaging in reckless and promiscuous behavior and clinging to an unhealthy back and forth relationship with her ex husband, Piper often looks for answers in the stars. Star gazing is a passion of hers, and after hitting rock bottom, the stars, it seems, are all she can hold on to.

It takes the chance meeting of a perfect stranger to bring Piper’s starry gaze into focus and force her to confront her demons and, once and for all, decide who she really is, and if the real Piper is worth loving at all.

Since her breakout novel Please Please Please, I’ve found Renee Swindle to be synonymous with creating shockingly real and relatable characters and terribly realistic stories. Her much anticipated follow up proves consistent in presenting readers with a complex and flawed character that we have all at one point either known, seen or been. 

Filled with detailed descriptions, familiar settings and sharp, snappy dialogue, Shake Down The Stars is an engaging and compelling read that I highly recommend.

Now…on to A Pinch of Ooh La La!
 

On Life and The Fast Lane

And just like that, it’s been four and a half months since I’ve blogged.

I could follow that up with the usual. How I’ve been busy, in pain, depressed, etc. but the fact remains…it’s been four and a half months since I’ve blogged.

I remain amazed and in awe that during my period of silence here and barely tweeting, “Can’t Get Enough” continues to do well, people continue to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and I still have some faithful followers of this tired, old blog.

To detail the happenings of these past months would take a long, drawn out post that I don’t want to write and I’m sure you don’t want to read. But, to be as brief as possible, I started an intense weight-loss and work-out regimine that required all of my attention (apparently) and as a result I lost nearly 50 pounds.

transformation

I also went blonde.I re-entered the work force, temping at a warehouse for a couple of months before the contract ended, and now I’m basically back where I started. Except, I now have the first draft of a novel thanks to NaNoWriMo. Yes, I participated in and completed National Novel Writing Month. I began rewrites on my WIP, but quickly became…unmotivated. So, there’s that.

Otherwise, I’m existing and trying to find ways to be more present, both here, and in life. My birthday is approaching, so it’s getting pretty dark over here.

Accountability

When I sort of accidentally began this journey, accountability was a big thing for me. I talked about it. Owned it. Showed it. Through daily full body Instagram photos, I am holding myself accountable to myself and to (I’d like to think) the world for my fitness and health, whether I do or don’t meet my goals for that day, week or whatever.

Just recently, I’ve begun adding food pics to the mix, which I had been doing from time to time before, but that’s when I was flaky about it all and could easily have had a salad for lunch and fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner. You’d see the pretty picture of the salad, but you wouldn’t see and I wouldn’t speak of the fried chicken.

I guess it’s like the proverbial tree in the forest. If I eat it and no one’s around to witness it, does that mean it didn’t happen? Well, I knew that couldn’t last because even if I didn’t post pictures of every meal, I repeat, I post full body shots of myself every single day, so you would know something went awry, somewhere. I wouldn’t be telling the truth. I wouldn’t be telling my truth. And there are many parts to my truth.

The truth is, if this were five days ago, I’d have either a vodka cranberry or a glass of wine in my hand. And if I’m going to tell the truth, five days ago, I DID have a vodka cranberry in my hand, and followed it up with several more. And let’s just throw a couple of shots of tequila in there for sport, because that happened, too.

Also, a hangover happened, and though I’ve posted a vicious hangover selfie on Instagram, I made sure I got myself together before I posted my daily shot, and I still went walking/jogging.

I haven’t had a drink since Sunday and that’s in part because I’ve been thinking a lot about this accountability thing and also because a friend challenged me to a strict seven day fitness thingy that doesn’t allow for alcohol.

It’s been easy. Unbelievably easy until today, when my day wasn’t so good, when my relationship isn’t glowing that perfect glow, when I’m so annoyed/pissed/mad/sad that I just want to numb myself with a vodka neat or a whole bottle of wine. And yes, I can take down a whole bottle…and a half.

So, far I’m resisting. Sipping iced water and channeling this negative energy into new words and promoting Can’t Get Enough. And I think I’m able to resist mostly out of stubbornness and a small part of me thinks it may be an around about attempt at sabotage because my husband of course lives with me, knows my habits, my weaknesses and unfortunately, my triggers.

It’s good to get that off my chest. I’ll let  you know how it turns out tomorrow. Honestly.

Boundaries

lafyette

 

This is going to get personal, like, really personal. But that’s what we do here. Chat lightly, things get heavy, we promote a little.

I would categorize this one as a vent, except I’m not angry, and quite frankly, that worries me.

I may or may not have spoken here about boundaries. Specifically boundaries in a relationship. And sure, everyone has their own, whether expressed or unspoken.

Mine, however, have been blatantly expressed in the past, but now I find myself dealing with the same issue.

Specifically, I’m talking boundaries when it comes to being in contact with people other than your spouse/partner.

Where do you draw the line? At texting? At calling? At hanging out?

And to catch you up. The spouse is mine, the contact is via text (as far as I know) and he sort of told me as an afterthought.

The texter is a coworker. Remember those simultaneous dreams he and I had where I dreamed he was having an affair with a coworker and he dreamed I was having an affair with the neighbor? Weird, right? Well, the neighbor moved.

And his coworker, not someone he works closely with or even physically comes in contact with on a daily basis, texted him yesterday to “check on him.”

He’s on vacation. He’s not sick.

He’s simply not at work. And if he’s not at work, then guess what? He’s at home or somewhere with his wife, who would be doing the checking on if need be.

I didn’t say anything at first.

Because I try to be a cool, modern wife, you know. But the thing is, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and at some point, I started to boil over.

He thinks it’s jealousy. I think it’s boundaries, plain and simple. If I’ve not met, formed any type of friendship with this woman, she does not get to have a part in our marriage that’s exclusive to only him, especially when I was here first.

But, maybe that’s just me.

In the end I gave my opinion and honestly, he seemed sort of sad, like I had taken away a favorite toy or something. He even told me to find a guy to text after I asked how he’d feel if he were in my shoes. WTF, right?

Now, mama didn’t raise no fool. I didn’t come out and say “stop this or else” because if he wanted to stop he would and if I told him to stop and he didn’t want to, guess what? He’d continue, only behind my back which would make it definitely look like something even if it’s nothing.

So what did I do? What any sane woman would do, of course. I friended her on Facebook. I’ve got the bitch on my radar and I’m watching the situation closely. That’s all I’m saying.

 

 

Easy like…

vodka

…feel free to take it from there, but let me tell you, nothing about this Sunday is easy, not for me anyway. I knew it had been a few days since I updated here, but a whole week?! Wow, I had no idea. And in the meantime, so many readers, blogger and reviewers were happily participating in the Can’t Get Enough blog tour, including the Trollop With A Laptop herself, Alison Tyler, who posted this colorful interview with me on her blog yesterday, while I was busy shuttling the twin to the sitter, driving to a book signing…

booksa

…signing one (tee hee) book and driving back, picking up twins, picking up dinner then coming home where it began storming and the power went out.

And that was just yesterday. Today I planned to stay in bed all day and rest because I was bold, no foolish enough to wear heels yesterday, and apparently I must atone for that today. However, instead of resting and recovering peacefully, I’m having to deal with the difficult tenant I’ve been avoiding mentioning to much over the past year (because I’m such a fucking lady) because after avoiding being served with a notice of eviction, she finally got served, then tells me that she needs more than ten days. Not because she doesn’t have anywhere to go, mind you, but because she doesn’t feel like moving her stuff.

Really, she doesn’t feel like it? Well, you know what I don’t feel like? Paying mortgage on a home that I’m not living in and not being reimbursed for it and having it torn all to hell to boot. So, yeah, that’s going on right now, but I’m trying to put my energy elsewhere.

Like this creative spurt I’m going through right now. While the power was out yesterday evening, I entertained my husband by reading him the beginnings of some things I’m working on. One story is a comedy in addition to being erotic, and the first paragraph made him laugh out loud. That was cool.

But speaking of Alison Tyler, one of several things I did on Friday (indcluding having tires changed, ugh!) was visit the Atlanta bookstore Charis Books where I spotted her Dark Secret Love on display on the shelf. I couldn’t resist snapping this picture and tweeting and tagging her.

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She wrote about it on her blog today.

I know this is a super long post, but I had a lot of catching up to do. I haven’t even mentioned that Rose Caraway announced the winners of her give away on Friday! And she did it in such a unique and clever way!

Thanks, Rose, thank everyone, and thanks if you made it through this post!

On Being Considered An African American Study

lafyette

First of all let me say, that it is an honor to even have made this category, no matter how Can’t Get Enough landed there. Not only is it there, it is in the top 50 ranked in paid Kindle books. And not only is it in the top 50, it is actually ranked #24. Right next to Alex Haley’s Roots is Tenille Brown’s Can’t Get Enough.

I know this because I stalk the Amazon rankings, which I know is an authorly no, no, but being so fresh out, I just can’t help myself. I check daily, multiple times a day. Which is how I also found out that the book is ranked #37 in African American Erotica. Needless to say, I’m floored, in awe, everything I’ve probably said a million times since the book came out.

A part of my Amazon stalking madness is due to the fact that I want so badly for the book to do well so that I can have the opportunity to edit other books, even publish a novel or two or ten. So, it matters. It’s do or die. It’s (insert appropriate cliche here).

But, all that aside…the blog tour continues. Today there is a guest post from me at Erzabet Bishop’s place (whose juicy, dirty, and kinky story, Waiting, is included in the book). There i’m talking about the selection of kinky stories and how they got there. She also excerpts Waiting. Check it out.