Crutches & Chairs

Crutches & Chairs

It’s amazing the way we subconsciously attach ourselves to things– or people, and it becomes a crutch. Comfortable as it may be, and harmless as well, years can pass without us or anyone around us noticing this almost metaphysical hold that person or thing possesses. The saddest part about a crutch: it has absolutely nothing to do with our attachments or how deep they root.

Of course, we typically associate drugs, alcohol, abusive lovers, etc as a crutch. Those huge red flags waving from every direction warning of addiction and the almost impossible feeling of life afterward. Unfortunately, not all crutches are so toxic to come with red flags, warnings or support.

My father died twenty years ago. I kept a zipper sweater of his and I wore it when I was sad. I wore it to write. I sat and wrote everything I held in. I was rather lost and sad too often. I wore that sweater when the zipper was broken, the pockets had ripped and over a decade of depression left the fabric bare and rough. I stopped wearing it because it made me feel worse but I kept it on a hanger just the same.

The decade passed and withered my security sweater to find the passing of my grandmother. Only weeks before she passed she sent me to get her something she’d never owned before. My grandmother wanted her very own hoodie. Of course, she couldn’t have a normal hoodie. It had to be right for her. I found it. Grey with pink trim, soft, not too thick and bedazzled down the zipper sides.

My family went through her things and I ended up with that hoodie (and other things obviously) with the bedazzled zipper. It was too large for her wrists, so she’s sewn these large black plastic musical note buttons to each wrist to make it smaller. It was sure something to see. I wore it, though. I wore it like a hug I’d been waiting for all my life. I wore it when I was sad, which had lessened before I lost her. I wore it to write.

She was a writer and damned supportive of my love for the craft as well. I found happiness writing in that hoodie. I wrote my first novel in that hoodie. I also revised and went through about twenty rounds of edits in that hoodie. We were a team after that.

A tradition was started and everything I’d written and published came with the embrace of that hoodie. More loss faced me. My marriage and my health both failed. I rushed into a relationship with all my heart like a fool. My health continued to fall and I ended up alone, a single mom, homeless, in the worst health of my life. I wore my hoodie like armor.

By now, all the crutches in my life have become like that picture in the back of Highlights magazine where you find all the things wrong in the setting. Welcome to my life at that moment. I knew it, too. Here is the part where I surprise both of us with where this story is heading.—

I’d set out to write this post for this massive epiphany I had while talking to my kids today about my lack of writing since I became a chronic illness warrior. It was a chair. In all these attachments/crutches I kept, I’d figured out the reason I hadn’t written since I became sick was the night I moved home at my marriage-end. My ex and I (friends) shared the U-Haul and I was second- We were tired. I was going back home to North Carolina, and my writing chair wouldn’t fit. We argued, probably made a big scene in the neighborhood looking back, and when he was insistent it would not fit, my temper hit my highest, or lowest point-depending on the scale.

Before I knew it, I had this beloved writing chair, this heavy, business grade office chair over my head, as sick and hurting as I was, and in pure anger, I did throw that chair over a chain link fence next to our garbage and screamed some f-bombs, mf’s, sob’s—basically, I might as well had gone through the alphabet. I still remember the slow-mo sight and sound of that chair hitting the ground. Not a bit broken, the strong wooden arms didn’t touch the ground for the thick upholstered seat with those brass brads framing the edges. The wheels spun in the moonlight.

I was writing in that chair before my feet could touch the ground. My dad’s office had a second desk with a typewriter and a three-hole punch. That was my desk. I sat there in that same burgundy floral chair and drank my Nu-Grape, ate my Gold-n-Cheese and would spin until I regretted everything. I typed letters to my dad, feet swinging beneath me, and hid them for him to find when I wasn’t there. I did book reports, projects and sometimes, I just typed bad words really fast and threw it away before anyone saw. (I was an odd kid.)

When I grew up and moved out, my dad gave me that chair. It was my chair. I signed on AOL there. I paid bills there. I wrote my Christmas cards there, and when I wrote anything, I wrote it there. In that one chair. He died two weeks after I married. I planned his funeral in that chair.

My grandmother was disabled. A chronic illness warrior, herself, she couldn’t take just any seat. When she came to my house, guess where she always went? Yes. That chair. It was my chair unless my grandmother was there. I didn’t mind that one bit.

The crickets chirping made the same sound as those squeaky wheels turning on the other side of the fence. On the side of my life that was over. I resented him for what felt like purposefully not making room, even if it meant leaving something lesser out. I never understood why everything fit but it, or why it was last. I was tired, defeated, angry at things that led to where I was in the moment that night. Basically, everything I’ve said rushed through the moment the chair went flying out of my hands. I resent me for it, too. Most of all.

I resent me for what I wanted to tell you. I meant to say this chair has been my problem, my crutch for almost another decade now- Seven or eight years. I don’t even count anymore because everything then was then. I am not anything like I was or who I was. She is a stranger. Things are things. People are people. One of those matter.

Pain pumps through me every moment of each day, and I have had to relearn me, my life, and my new. Nostalgia can creep in like an infection, make you question why everything happened the way it did and why those crutches were so damned crippling. I miss people. Zipper sweaters. Hoodies. Y’all, I really miss that fucking chair.

Crutches. We need them when we can’t walk. But we don’t know if we can walk until we try without the crutches. Honesty hurts, especially if you fall, but for at least seven years, I’ve been grabbing crutches. All these life changes changed everything about me from politics, to music, to food. It changed my spirituality, my parenting, everything I have ventured… What if, no matter how much I love it, I’m not a writer anymore? But maybe I shouldn’t doubt myself because I have a mouthy ass daughter. —– Also, my oldest daughter hated the way this ended and added that last line. I left it for her. 

Why Valentine’s Day is Nothing to Me.

It was the late 1990’s. I was young, wild, and in love. His hair was longer than mine and he was my polar opposite. I liked darkness and sarcasm. He was a hippie metal head. We had a long term back and forth relationship so what else could we do to express our commitment to one another? It was time to get married. So said the brains of a seventeen and eighteen year old.

We had a semi-long engagement, mainly we knew I could not get married for another year, anyway. It seemed like “doing it the right way.” The only issue was not thinking about the extended future. Sure, I was going to go to college, and then he would, we would just be those mature married college kids. The dark one and the hippie.

In the year of engagement and brushing over the story of how very not pleased my parents were with this idea, signs burst out in neon around us, but we didn’t see them- or didn’t want to see. His family hated my planned Renaissance styled dress and called it so many degrading names, I switched from the style of dress I’d known I would have since I was a young girl watching Labyrinth. It hurt, but it was just a dress and as immature as I was, I knew marriage was about more than the wedding.

Then, I was informed we must get married in the church. I was against this. I also always had my own ideas of a wedding. Small, simple, elegant, self-written vows and no sermon. It was a huge deal for them. I agreed, and then found out we had to meet with the pastor to see if he would even marry us since we were young sinners. Well, wow. What is the percentage of non-sinner weddings? But I agreed. Sarcastically, but agreed.


Shortly after the big bombshell, in my opinion hit. We were to follow his family tradition of being married on Valentine’s Day. Remember the mention of my darkness and all? Where does the most lovey-dovey commercialized holiday fit into that? Not to mention, I’d never had a good Valentine’s Day. Even the year before, he and I were broken up for a short spurt running through Valentine’s and well, things happened and Valentine’s was not a shining good memory for either of us. But, it was this long ran family tradition, and who was I to ruin a tradition just as I was entering the family? That would be rude, right?

Well, my parents were bothered as their opinionated, my-way-or-the-highway daughter relayed information of what was obviously not plans from my mind or heart. But, like parents tend to do, they stood by me, and fit the bill for most everything I never wanted.

The pastor liked us and due to my bluntness, agreed to even mum the sermon part to a minimum. We had this glorious Valentine wedding. I managed some black roses into my my flower pattern and our wedding party looked like the November Rain video. I was informed the night before the wedding that we couldn’t even dance, which was great, since my mom secured one of the best pianist around for the wedding and reception. He was on my side enough to play as we entered the reception hall, including playing, “The Stripper” as my mom walked in- I guess he liked her. LOL.


After the reception and cleaning beside my family, we finally were able to leave the church well past unrelated guests that were not cleaning with us. I discovered our honeymoon money was conjured off my new husband by his parents because, well… it was their anniversary. We didn’t even have money for dinner. We went straight home and I locked myself in the bedroom and cried myself to sleep in my wedding dress.

Welcome to the real world. Welcome to Valentine’s Day and how it always worked for me.

Fast forward to family time. Getting married on Valentine’s sounds good and sweet until you need a baby sitter because not only is it Valentine’s but it is also your wedding anniversary. Forget the pressure of trying to double the fun and gifts. Babysitters do not exist. Asking someone to babysit on this day is the most insulting thing you can do. First, even though I later found out some people (like his sister) were not obligated to the Valentine wedding tradition and I swallowed that bitter pill, any of the one’s I would ask to babysit were indeed also celebrating anniversaries on this date, and I guess if they weren’t conning the date night money out of my husband’s pocket, I should be thankful.

If you ask single friends to babysit, you assume they are not worthy of plans that night. If you ask married friends, you are assuming the spark is gone in their relationship. Thank goodness businesses exist for professional sitters now because NEVER ASK SOMEONE YOU LIKE AND CARE ABOUT TO BABYSIT ON VALENTINE’S. Those new to an anniversary on this date or are contemplating the date to marry, note this. Note it well.

As years passed, it was easier to make it about the kids and less about us..and by less, I really mean not at all about us. So with this day, we really lost a commercialized holiday to compete with which of our friends got the best gift or romanced the sweetest, to also losing the day of our vows. I won’t say it was the ax in us, but along with many other things, it sprinkled bitterness on everything like Paula Dean spicing a ham.

Once in a blue moon, we had a night out the day before, day after, week after- whatever we could do, but in time, it just ho-hummed. In reality, we were fighting to celebrate one of the worst days of us. I recall one Valentine anniversary crying on the floor with my wedding dress I so very much hated and I do not even recall getting the scissors, but needless to say, I felt some enjoyment that year.

A horrible wedding day, a wedding nothing as I wanted, and a date that is impossible to consider “your special day,” is great for something. I learned what mattered and what did not. Valentine’s did not matter to me. Anniversaries did not matter to me. Weddings did not matter to me.

Things that do not matter

The individual date of marriage

The dress

The event

The invitations

The food

The music

The general money spent on entertaining other people to celebrate the love between two people

The holiday everyone celebrates the love they normally take for granted

The money spent on this day

The place you eat on this day

Jewelry or precious stones

Things that do matter

Everyday, even the bad ones

Not letting other people control any situation not about them


Foundation of friendship






Small things on days that mean nothing that turns that nothing day into an important memory

Knowing when to keep holding on

Knowing when to let go.

If you know me at all, you likely know my marriage ended over three years ago. Through this time, on February 14th especially, I have not pondered so much the dress, the sitters, the date or the music. I don’t care about the cake, the lack of dancing, diamonds or gold. I have also not rushed into making sure I am not alone, in fact some may say I enjoy being single too much. Those morons likely still think the color schemes and expensive cake make a wedding and marriage. After a three year separation, we finalized our divorce this week, a few days before what would have been our 16th Valentine anniversary.


So when I say I hate Valentines, it has nothing to do with my anniversary, the lack of sitters, or a wedding I did not like. It is because after turning this day into an icon to represent us for so many years, it means nothing to me. When I think of the good times and what I miss it is not the wedding, the cake, the yearly attempts at February 14th. I miss not cooking when I am sick. I miss popping my back at night like a routine so I am not in pain. I miss not going to the ER alone. I miss relaxing on the porch on summer nights, with crickets in the background as we talk about what it is going to be like when we are old. But mostly, I miss not seeing that we didn’t really start becoming friends until we knew we were over and that we’d left so many scars on each other, the wounds would never heal together.

Every single day you spend with someone is a brick in your foundation. Friendship is the mortar. If you build a foundation with ideals of not being alone, materialism, other people’s opinions in charge of your choices, and talking without communication, you will fall apart. If you slow down and make friendship the mortar, I’d say you have a 50/50 shot of making it. If you don’t take that time, every year brings another shot at a good Valentine’s Day. You’ll always have that.

Lit Genius Extraordinaire! — With The Lovely Ms. P.

A very sincere thanks to the lovely & talented Valarie Savage Kinney for allowing me on her blog to post the A-Z basics of Livian!

What Dreams May Come


I imagine some piece of every human heart broke with the tragic news of Robin Williams passing away. I have to admit, I’d hoped it was one of those cases where twitter trends “kill” someone that is still very much alive. But it wasn’t. I was visiting with my mother when the news broke, and you would have thought we lost a close family member with the way it stunned us into a silence, followed by tears. Here in the south, I think our first instinct to cope with deal is to cook and/or eat. Something about frying chicken, making a cake, or some other southern dish and taking it to the home of mourning takes the sting away, at least a little bit. On the other side, something about caring people showing up with fried chicken or a cake when your home is the home of mourning makes the moments feel less like shattered glass beneath bare feet.


But in this case, I think the house of mourning was every home in America, if not the world. It is easy to say that this brilliant man was in some way, a part of most of our youth. He was why we all tried to sit on our heads. He was a rapping bat. He was a genie. This man was Peter Pan. He was so many things, and he gave us the freedom to imagine, pretend, act, and for some of us, we wrote words and prayed someday, he, or someone like him, could make our words come alive for the rest of the world.


But the fact of it is, Robin Williams was not just the vision of our youth, but the understanding of our adult realities. Some of these need no explaining, just titles. Dead Poets Society. Good Will Hunting. Jack. Patch Adams. A million times during stressful kid moments, I’ve turned to my kids and said, “POOF! Whaddaya need? POOF! Whaddaya need?”


Jack made me appreciate life. I remember the local casting calls for this movie called Patch Adams, set in the 1970s. My (then) boyfriend at the time and I sent in our photos for a shot at being in a Robin Williams flick. We weren’t 70s enough, though with both of us having hair past our bottoms, I never understood. I recall us being upset, but quickly stating, “Well, I guess Robin Williams had nothing to do with extra casting, or we’d be in!” Because, come on, we all felt like he was our buddy, our pal, one cool fella.


Our kids are raised with Williams. Maybe a board game gotten out of hand, or some happy feet, or why we leave RV vacations to Papa.


Most recently, very recently, I saw Robin Williams in a role again for the first time. Let me explain. I was still pretty young when Mrs. Doubtfire came out, and being a child with parents that just did not work out as a couple, I loved this movie. I could see so much of my dad in the character of Daniel. I wanted to smoosh Robin Williams and Sally Field together at the end in one of those, “Now kiss.” moments but I understood when it didn’t end that way.


Remember the boyfriend that wasn’t Patch Adams 70s enough with me? Well, he became my husband, Daniel. Seriously, his name is Daniel just like Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire. We married young and we made it though years and years and then we became one of those couples that just didn’t work. Not from lack of love or trying. It just didn’t work. We firmly agreed to remain friends, which as anyone can imagine, is work as well and some moments would be fit for reality television. Le sigh. Through all the tense moments and not seeing eye to eye and sometimes, not even feeling like we lived in the same world, we work on friendship.



Not long ago, likely not even a month ago, he came over and we were in one of those tense, working really hard to get along moments and when he showed up, Mrs. Doubtfire was on. We didn’t speak, but he ended up caught up in the movie and we sat in silence. Come on, you know it is easy to get caught up watching Robin Williams, even at your ex wife’s house But, as I said, I saw him again for the first time. Robin Williams wasn’t playing the role that reminded me of my father. He was playing the role of my ex husband. My mom wasn’t the Sally Field. I was. It hurt in a way I cannot put into words, and words are my life. And not just because Peirce Bronson is not my rebound, but because I could feel the side of the movie as I did as a child. And now, I could feel the role of Sally Field, and there is no “now kiss and make up” moment there.


I don’t talk about my personal life too often, not in detail. But I’ve been sick since before the end of my marriage with an undiagnosed illness. I’ve been blessed with a fantastic group of specialists that work with me constantly and try to figure out this grand mystery that has transformed my entire way of life. I’ve struggled with the single mom thing with a lack of mobility and days of constant pain. Little things have become big things. Field trips, awards, talent shows, trips to the park- all these things have become major events with the mystery illness. Sickness also brings about the truth most of us would be better off not knowing. The truth of the people in our life and what happens through thick and thin. Promises are broken. Wonderful people fall from the highest of pedestals, but then other people surprise you. Some people flake out when being in your life or loving you isn’t easy and some people you never expected to surprise you, do and they come with support and love and just knowing you are not alone.


During a long run of heartbroken and pain-filled nights, I’ve bonded with my oldest daughter. She has helped me so much. She helps make sure the youngest ones don’t see me as anything other than Wonder Woman. A gift I can never repay. She’s gone without a lot during this as well. She has taken on many responsibilities I’d prefer she not have just yet, but life happens. Summer break has given us lots of late nights for her to stay up while I could not sleep and I was proud to share with her something of my own youth. We had our own escape from everything- the stress, doctor visits, busy schedules, pain, etc, etc, etc. We had Mork. Mork and Mindy became a normal relief from our problems. We’ve come close to seeing all the episodes now and we’ve even joked about the perfect men were probably Orkan. Oy. Shazbot!


Throughout my life, Robin Williams has been one with wisdom, comedy, and comfort. How could anyone not feel like they’ve just lost one of the best friends a person could know. Depression. How heartbreaking it is to know that someone dedicated their life to entertaining others, cheering them up, making them laugh at the worst of times, and inspired so many of us not only in the arts, but life in general. If only we’d had the chance to make him laugh, to make the sadness take a step back, if even for a moment as he’d done for us.

Depression is real. It has been passed by for far too long as a mood or a weakness that could be gotten over if the person really wanted to get over it. Depression can strike anyone and until you battle the beast, you have no clue how deep his claws are. It is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it a form of self consumption. Depression can make you wish you were the one person in the world you could forget. Depression comes with emotional weight and physical pain. Depression is a condition. A sickness too often ignored for fear of sharing our emotions, fears, and pain. When someone battling depression thinks of suicide, it is not a quick escape for them, it is this ripping pain in the pit of your soul that makes you feel like not being around would be better for everyone else. It has nothing to do with feeling unloved. It is knowing people love you and feeling like your existence is a weight and burden. It hurts, but just like A Christmas Carol, you zone out and picture what life would be like for each person you love if you take yourself out of the picture.


Of course, depression is cruel enough to let us create our own illusions of what their life would be like. It is a beast, after all And once those thoughts exist, they will always exist. Even during good times when you think depression has been slaughtered from your mind. It creeps. It pops back in when you feel like you could have done more for someone or even a happy moment full of laughter with children opening gifts. You laugh. You smile, but you look right past reality and imagine a better one for those kids. The beast becomes your shadow and mocks every great moment in your life, making you relive it in your mind and showing you where you weren’t good enough; for anyone, anything, at all. You can push it back. You can remind yourself of the beast and know it is just out to get you, but sometimes, the shadow consumes.

I am not saying suicide is a good thing. We feel the loss. I am saying if the world became more open to the reality of depression as a condition, not a mood, maybe we could save more people by simply saying, “It’s okay. I get it. We’ll get through it.” Because it is okay. I do get it… and I bet most anyone reading this gets it, too.

Like my mom said, “If you know someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, why not call and just ask how they are. It never hurts to reach out. Most people struggle with depression without anyone knowing. Reach out. Know.

She’s right. So I am going to wrap this up. I have some calls to make. God bless, everyone. Go hug someone. Hug them tight as all get out. It’s a cold world out there. Spread some smiles and warmth.



Final Wishes. Death & Social Media Etiquette

Times, they are a’changing. 

Etiquette has a way of changing with the times, sometimes, for the good- usually, not so much. I still pull off the side of the road when I see a funeral pass, and after I say a prayer for the family, my alter-ego uses my extensive knowledge of four letter words for anyone that doesn’t. I send thank you notes and I mentally note thank you notes I don’t ever see.



On the other end of things, I remember wearing a lovely, slightly low-cut red silk blouse while pregnant and my sweet, lovely, proper grandmother going off on me like I was a pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of a magazine—nude. Sigh.


Obviously, it is a give and take on what morals you want to bend, and which ones you want to lock in your family tree for centuries to come. Of course, like my grandmother and the red maternity shirt I wore, we don’t get to choose what future generations abolish.

Now here is my pondering thought of the day, and I warn you; I am lost on this one. Social media etiquette –  now this is a topic I will touch on a good bit in the future but today, I ask you…

Death and Social Media: 


I never know on funeral sites if lighting a virtual candle is tasteful or helpful in any way. I try to picture life 50 years from now and wonder if anyone will say, “Not many people came to the service, but Grandpa could have set the world on fire with all those virtual candles, eh?”

Is it proper to post a status online for the family, to let them know you care? Or does it look like attention seekers not directly related? Is it just a ploy for some to let the boss see the tragedy, light a virtual candle, and snag a round of golf before returning to work late in the afternoon?

And the BIG question, which as time goes by, is becoming more obvious and kind of an elephant in the room.  What do you do with those on your social media that have passed away? 

I am getting a rather flourishing collection of these lovely people on my social media. People I truly cared about and have fond memories of that I will never forget. At the same time…. There they are. I get leaving the pages up are good for many mourners, but some of us are just lost. Do you wish them a happy birthday and tell them you miss them? Are you a jerk if you do not? Do you like a post someone places on their page about missing them? Or are you saying you are happy they are sad if you like it? Do you untag photos of them? Do you have to leave them up forever if they pass? And how long do you repent if you maybe accidentally beat their score on a level of candy crush and it posts to your profile? (I have not done this, but i have seen it.) 

So yes, I ask you- say it is you that has passed on.. In all seriousness, mostly, at least. I know humor breaks tension on hard topics- but really, you have passed.. Do we delete you? Do we post to you? Do you want a real funeral or a facebook event so more people can “attend” around the world? Do we randomly tag you in old photos? What can we do to keep closure with modern social media venturing into this new territory?

A Comic Con, A Man’s Promise, & General Shenanigans

I’ve said it before, so don’t act shocked. I can be a fairly horrid blogger. I know this. I do. But you have to give it to me, when I do blog, very rarely is the dullness content high enough to register. Right? Right.

Literary-wise- So much has been going on. I highly suggest/push/nudge/urge/nicely demand you check out the blog for Twisted Core Press. If I am shady as me it is usually because I am being somewhat sociable for Twisted Core & 7DS Books. This post is a perfect example.

Wizard World Nashville Comic Con 2013.  STOP! Don’t click it now! We’ve just started. Don’t leave me. I’m just kidding. Go. Read it. Yes, now. I’ll wait…


…………………………………………………..Sings Frasier theme.

……………………………………………………………………….mmmm scrambled eggs would rock right now.

Hi. Welcome back. I know, right? Yeah, it was a blast. Thanks. Yeah. I know. I plan to go back next year. Yes, you can share that blog link. How nice of you!

In other news, as shocking as it seems with all we have accomplished together, Twisted Core Press is almost a year old! What a year! I could go on, but I could also save that for another blog post and look rather blogger-snazzy. Yes. Let’s go with Option B.

Also, along with several new releases lately for our imprints, I have a new short story released in A Man’s Promise. We have some serious talent and a wide range of plots from love, vengeance, parenting, secrecy, and beyond. This is one hell of a collection. Pick it up and give it a read.

Promise BookCover6x9

Yes, read this book. Check out the blogs listed below. I shall return. Be prepared. 🙂

The December girls birthday adventure & finding a part of my childhood fairy tale.

Yesterday was a much needed break from reality- and all in the name of December birthdays. I am blessed enough to have some of those great long time friends that are more like family. My mom’s best friend, a friend of hers, the best friend’s daughter and boyfriend ( a heck of a man and our wonderful d.d.) enjoyed an all day birthday month outing.

We started our day at Adalia’s house (my mom’s best friend) for snacks, champagne and pictures. We loaded into the car and from there- our journey began- a day of wine tasting touring. Between personal life, medical life, writing and opening a publishing house with my partners (which is not an easy ho-hum task if you do it properly.) – A break from the norm was exactly what I needed. I savored the heck out of it.

The first winery, I knew was made for me when I spotted a steampunkish top hat tree topper. If I were rich, that baby would have come home with me. Since I am NOT, I am going to attempt to connect with my crafty side very soon and create it myself. Pray I have one somewhere in there. The wine tasting was a blast. Mister makes everything fun. If normal people could be like him sober, and love life the way he does- nobody would need to drink.

Adalia is like a second mom to me. I have known her my entire life and talking with her, she is so vibrant and strong, next to my own mother, she is what I strive to be. I cannot tell you how honored I felt to be invited on one of their adventures. No matter how weak your heart or body may feel, this group of people radiate strength, happiness and enjoying every moment of life.

Melanie- Oh Lord, this sweet woman. She is a slight bit older than I am- not much, but still, she beams this beauty of youth and I swear, if she wasn’t so damn sweet, her beauty would be enough to hate her. HAHA. I always looked at her as the sister I always wanted. I didn’t get to see her often as I grew up, but when I did, it was like a kid getting to see Santa (after the fear of him goes away kind, not the kicking screaming, ‘I don’t wanna sit on his lap!’ kid and Santa experience.) Getting the chance to be around her for an extended period of time was a birthday present in itself.

We laughed. We told stories. We were loud and we lived. After this slump since September, my God, laughing like that was a gift. This group of people don’t just tolerate real raw me- they love me. All of me. All my personalities are welcome in their company. That kind of comfort is priceless.

Our second stop, though- on this wine tasting tour- That is the core of my tale.

Something about this place pulled me in from the moment we parked. I love old unique buildings, as is- but this castle appeal- the door knockers the wooden beams and brick work- My heart pulled harder the closer we came to entering. We walked into the lobby- and this table of horsd’ourves seemed so very familiar, as if I was walking into a dream.

We were led toward the bar/winery area for the tasting and as we passed through a small dining area, my eyes locked on the tables- the tables held by old black chains connected to the ceiling. I knew what it reminded me of- this place I only ever went once with my mom- and with my dad, aunt and uncle (the last three have all passed away)-  I tried to shake the thought off and went to the bar area. The wine tasting was divine. Very well blended wines and the winery shoppe was perfect. If I were rich, I would not have been when I left there- Instead- someone lucky on my Christmas shopping list is getting a fine jar of moonshine jelly.

After hearing the history of the establishment, that was not only a winery- but a fine dining establishment and Inn- we had to walk around and see it. You know, above all- I believe in fate. The more we walked, the faster my heart raced. The rooms- the antiques- the everything….It was like being awake and walking through a dream I visited often. Then- BOOM- I saw it. The tree growing in the middle of the room. A real tree in this beautiful room that went straight up with the roof built around it. I thought I would faint. I was there.

I was in this place I’d only ever been once as a child with family members. It was one of my favorite memories of spending time with my family and even then, I just wanted to move right into the place. It was like a fairy tale in my youth. Honestly, still- It was my fairy tale place. We walked into one of the dining rooms (lots of separate dining rooms) and there it was. The table my family and I were at over twenty years ago. The torches on the wall, the perfectly folded napkins, and there- the tapestry… When I was at this table with my family, I recall fidgeting with it. I walked over and touched each chair- fell into the memory, remembering where my sweet mother was…my father…my aunt and my uncle and that unforgettable cackle he had. I wanted to cry. Touching the chair that was mine, for that one meal, I just wanted to lean down and whisper into the ear of the memory of childhood me and love her…and tell her….I don’t know what I’d tell her. Maybe nothing at all. Maybe not risk ruining that night- that for some reason, she held onto so dearly. Sweet Mister took photos of so many things for me. Of the mural on the wall, of my tree, of a sign I loved walking in, even of me at the antique writing desk.

I didn’t want to leave. Not just then. Not ever. When I die, I hope I can become a ghost and roam this fairy tale place for eternity. I wanted to share it with the people of my soul, those closest to my heart. I have talked of this place so often, not knowing a name or a location- I never thought I would see it again outside of my dreams- and to share it with such great people yesterday- what a birthday fated blessing. I know I will never get married again, but if I did, when I dream about it- it will be here. Something about my heart just pulls in this place.  And here is the kicker, guess what is all over this place? Guess? Okay, you are taking too long. Apples. Apples! My dear calling card. Everywhere- fresh, real perfect mounds of apples. You know how at home I felt. I want nothing more than to stay in the Inn. Here is a link to this most wonderful place I thought I would never see again. Scroll through the photos, but I promise, it is nothing as grand as seeing for your own eyes. You have to bucket list this place. It is worth it.

After that, we stopped by a bar called Whiskey Dicks. Come on, it has been a while, it caught my eye. This place was nothing like it appeared from the outside. Another lovely hidden jewel. We had a great time. A bar right on the river, it was a stunning moonlit vision. A good shot of tequila and listening to one of Mister’s fascinating stories as he chatted with the owner of the bar- It was a short stop, but we will return.

Finally, we rounded our day off at a redneck Christmas bonfire party. Nobody parties like southerners do- sorry- Just a fact. There is no such thing as a stranger at a southern get together. I knew absolutely no one there beyond the people I came with and I had a wonderful time. I fought to not focus on the fiery ring of the bonfire as the flames refused the middle, but some thoughts will not vanish no matter how good of a time I may have. We talked books and festivals I’d never heard of in my life. Lots of great food and jello shots for all, great music, karaoke and the most colorfully entertaining folk to kick off the holiday season- Not to mention watching Mister and Adalia dance better than any twenty year olds I’ve ever seen. My body grew very weak as the day caught up with me and the pain took over but, my goodness, it was worth it. Mister did a great job of trying to talk some sense into me and my heart on the way home, which like the other male important influences in my life, he made perfect sense. Logical. Blunt and loving breaking it down for me. Everything my mind knows, everything my heart refuses to hear.

I came home, whimpering in pain and smiling from the best time I have had in a long time. I love these people. It was an honor to be a part of the December birthday girls outing. Days and people that great are what make aging worth while. Now, back to work.

The LOOK Challenge- A Sneak Peek

I’ve been tagged in the “look” challenge by the wonderful Jude Johnson. According to the rules, you’re supposed to do a search in your work in progress for the word “look” and then paste the surrounding paragraph(s) and tag as many people as possible.

I am tagging the following authors to do the same because I think highly of them. (So please check out their sites and work):

Stephen Penner  A.T.Russell  Michelle Horst  Beau Watson Dawn Jayne J. Bryan Martin and my dear Olivia Picarella.

HERE YOU GO! A very UNEDITED sneak peek at “The Boot” A 7DS Short Story- Coming Soon.

“I’m sure I’ve seen worse.” he pulled his glasses from his jacket pocket.

The sheriff chuckled as his eyes widened. He shook his head and motioned for Emery to follow past the group of cop cars and the single ambulance. The emergency workers stood back from the crime tape. Whispers and laughter muffled as they walked toward the tape.

“Know the victim?”

“Everybody knows that son of a bitch. Not much of a victim, though.” Sheriff Gardner lifted the crime tape and allowed Emery to walk before him.

“Oh my Holy Father!” Emery covered his mouth, “Who the hell is that poor bastard?”

“Who in the hell do you think it is? Look, you see what that is? Shoved right up in there.”

Emery walked around the crumpled corpse. No pools of blood. No dismembered body parts. Yet, this had to be the most stomach turning site the coroner had ever witnessed. He leaned over and lifted the cowboy hat perfectly placed over the victim’s face.

“Ricky Dalton.” Emery fought a smile. “Look at that boot, right up your ass.”

He gently placed the hat back over his frozen face. Emery could feel the onlooking officers waiting for his reaction. He had always forced himself to place work over emotion. Being the coroner of a small town was hard. He’d held back tears several times. It seemed much harder, for some reason, to hold back a smile.

He stood silently and examined the body. He was normal and perfect Ricky Dalton. His clothes were crisp and clean. No dirt beneath his fingernails. The only thing that seemed out of place were his too tight jeans around his knees and the missing boot from his right foot. And there it was, halfway hanging out of his rear.

Emery felt his own anus clinch. “Any idea at all who did it?”

“Well, I’d say let’s start with anyone Ricky told he was gonna put his boot in his ass.”

“You can’t consider the whole damn town full of people suspects.” Emery snorted.

“So, I narrowed it down to people that have a good serious cause to take him out.”

“A little over half the town,” he shook his head, “So who is the last person anyone saw him with?”

The sheriff paused. “My daughter.”

My First Book Festival. (SC Book Festival)

I attended my very first book festival recently thanks to the wonderful Ring of Fire Publishing. The South Carolina Book Festival, in Columbia, set a standard for bookish events for me.

Highlight: Meeting my favorite monkey. Thanks to Eli for running with me and taking the pic- and AJ for watching my booth!

The interaction with readers was overwhelming. This is not an event to do alone- not that it cannot be handled alone, but there are too many people to have wonderful conversations with for a single person to master. I met some “interesting” people- even a psychic that informed me of where I lived and how many children I had. (creepy) I decided to get smart and ask him what I was having for dinner. “Chicken…and you’re cooking it.” he whispered. What a let down. Well, he was half right. Thanks, Bojangles. I did not feel like cooking.

I loved the interest readers carried in the back story of each book on the Ring of Fire table. The conversations came back to back to back. Seven Deadly Sins was a huge hit right along with Stephen Penner’s SCOTTISH RITE. (Everyone loves that book.)

I also autographed my first book for a non-friend or family member. I don’t know if it is normal, but I will never forget the name. God Bless Kermit- the sweet fella that asked for my first stranger autograph. What a kick-butt name. Kermit. I like that guy.

Above and beyond the wonderful experience with readers, I must mention the biggest factor I see in attending a book event and why you must do it. Networking. Always the number one key- networking.

I made some fantastic connections, including library services, warehousing, book clubs, reviewers, and etc.. But my favorite connections were other publishers and authors working the event around me. I grew rather fond of some of these booth holders. You will see me promote them on facebook and twitter. I would like to especially point out the lovely ladies that spent the weekend across from me. While I was setting up my booth, my first booth ever- these ladies came in like storm troopers. Oh, the swag and set up they brought and put together quicker than Chuck Norris could slap a biscuit from your mama’s mouth. They made me sick. LOL. I would easily say they had the best booth for an author at this event.

Not only did they entertain me better than cable ever could, they taught me so very much and helped. I know my next event will be an even better experience and I will always be truly thankful to them for the insight and suggestions. So, here’s to you, AJ Scudiere and her right hand lady, Eli Jackson. I must do another event near you guys.

Meet AJ and Eli

Bookish Rambles

I do not blog in a dedicated or routine manner. I like it. If you don’t expect it on a regular basis, maybe you are more likely to read when I do post! (Right?)

Lots of things going on. I have been truly busy. I am getting grey hair and I barely have time for my evening wine (except on special occasions). In case you missed it plastered all over the internet, I HAVE MY OFFICIAL BOOK COVER FOR LIVIAN!

LIVIAN: Michelle Anderson Picarella
Publishing this summer from CBG

I am blown away by the detail both obvious and hidden with this cover. I can’t wait for you to read this! I have worked with a most fantastic editor to bring my dear book up to par. I’ve learned so much to carry on even bigger and better for the rest of the series. (Thank you for being a blessing, dear editor!)

Champagne Book Group is a remarkable digital publisher. They have really impressed the heck out of me. Be sure to check out their other titles- So many talented authors under one house-

LIVIAN isn’t far away at all now!

SEVEN DEADLY SINS is also doing very well. We have smoked the charts- the charts I wasn’t sure we would ever touch. LOL. The feedback alone has been worth its weight in gold. I love hearing people enjoy something that we all created together. The wonderful things that have blossomed from this project, and continue to do so, soar past my wildest dreams. Have you checked the SINS out yet? Of course you have….but if not, click the photo…

Seven Authors. Seven Stories. Seven Lessons.
Purchase now on e book or paperback.

I do have lots more interesting 7DS and publishing news and updates for you. Stay tuned! Thanks for reading!