5.7.19 InstaShortie – Keys

I glanced at the clock. The seconds ticked by—one by one. Each one clicking on to the next as if the world did in fact keep turning. As if it hadn’t just shattered into a million minuscule shards of glass that became shrapnel. The pieces pierced my skin creating a river of emotion that drained from my body slowly. I tried to stop it; to hold the pieces of my world together. I stitched them in uneven, imperfect lines. A perfect representation of myself. Together and whole, but completely and utterly broken.

The door slammed and the entire house shook. The sound echoed through the air and hung with baited breath, waiting for me to react.

I should have yelled “STOP!” I should have demanded an audience and a stage. I had things I wanted to say—no, needed to say. Words built inside me and held me captivated. They would stay there and fester, eating away at my soul along with the could haves and should haves. The dreams and plans. They would all die slowly.

Blame rested solely on me. The walls built were erected by me. Each and every brick created with my own hands and cemented with lies. It was meant to provide protection; a shield. Instead the structure became a weapon. The very thing that was to keep me safe was the thing that eviscerated my world.

Cold. Unfeeling. Stone. All words he used to describe me. Those were not the words inside me. Protected. Safe. Guarded. Those were my words. He’d taken them and twisted them into a knife meant to slash my heart.

The door creaked open. A tentative hand pushing it slowly, carefully. Was he changing his mind? Or did he just forget something? Me? Did he forget me?

I waited, holding my breath. First an inch of light broke through. Then six. Then nothing. It paused. I could see his fingers wrapped around the door. He stood on the other side of the pristine white door for what felt like hours.

“Levi?” I said, my voice barely above a whisper. His knuckles went white as he gripped harder. Still, the door didn’t budge so much as an inch. He was hesitating. Something was keeping him from running completely. Me? Was it me that pulled him back?

The door flew open and he stepped through the threshold. Sunlight danced behind him igniting his golden hair. I forced a smile and hoped it seemed warm and inviting—anything but cold and rigid. Surely a person could become someone completely different in a matter of minutes.

When his eyes met mine, my smile faded.
It disappeared into oblivion along with what little hope is held onto. His anger seethed through his green eyes. Flames danced with daggers as he looked straight through me as if I weren’t even there.

I opened my mouth to speak. What exactly, I didn’t know. His hand flew up, fingers splayed, stopping my apology or groveling before it even started.

“I forgot my keys.”

Not I forgot I loved you. I missed you already. I’m staying. He forgot his keys.

When the door shut this time, a sense of resolution flushed through my veins. Brick-by-brick the wall started to rebuild itself. The thick layer of protection restored my sense of self. I blinked away whatever tears threatened and ignored the ones still welling inside.

He’d be back. I was certain of that. In his haste to ignore me, he’d grabbed my keys instead of his. This time I’d be prepared. No fake smiles, just words. I only needed three words. Three words could fix this. I could fix this. I had to.

The door flew open without hesitation this time. He breezed in, flushed with annoyance.

Ignoring the weight of the freshly built wall, I finally said the words I hadn’t been able to before, “I love you.”

The anchor pulled, forcing the bricks to buckle. Give and take. Wasn’t that what he’d asked me for?

He stopped. The keys fell to the floor and he turned. Our eyes met—blue to green—his anger fizzled as my gaze flooded his.

“What?” He whispered. “What did you say?”

“I love you, Levi.” This time the words flowed easier. They had a natural simplicity to them. “I’m sorry. Stay.”

The words freed me and pulled him back in. The wall could grow to fit two. It could encompass the both of us. I could be safe within the walls with him.

“Say it again.” His voice was light now. The anger vanished. Three words was all he needed.

I smiled. “I love you.”

Just Write

As a writer, I’m constantly questioning my words. What are words? What are sentences? Does Stephen King really never use adverbs in his books or daily conversations?

One of the hardest things for me to accept is that sometimes the words I put down on paper (or, Google Drive, because 2019), aren’t the greatest. I don’t know that I’ll ever be the type of writer that makes people discuss my prose or verbose language. I’d rather let the story lead the discussion. I want my words to be accessible. And, selfishly, I want readers to devour a book in one sitting. Hard to do that when they have to ask Siri what pontificate means.

But there are times I write words and sentences that make me want to burn it all day. Sometimes I do. That’s what editing is for. Write it out. Set it aside. Edit. Edit. Edit.

We rarely hit perfection on the first try. Hell, we rarely ever hit it. And that’s okay. Life isn’t perfect and neither is fiction.

The minute writing stops being fun is the moment I lose my passion. I don’t ever want to get to that point. I get frustrated and annoyed. I re-read a chapter and wonder if I even understand language. But I never want those doubts or fears to stop me from doing what I love.

Writers: just write the words. You can edit them later. Get it out, if even its nonsense now, it won’t be after you edit and revision.

Don’t Let Fear Win

You won’t find my books in the library or on the shelves at Target or Barnes & Noble (not yet, anyway). They aren’t on any best seller lists or included on popular must read lists (yet).

Between self-doubt, my day job, motherhood and life, I never allowed myself to believe that traditional publishing was possible. I let fear and a million what-ifs drive me.

I knew going Indie was a risk, but that it was also one way to share my work. I’ve written a total of 7 complete novels. Three of those are sitting in this photo. Three are tucked safely away from the world. One is being pitched and queried to literary agents.

I owe this last fact to Bookstagram and the amazing readers and writers I’ve met here. The encouraging words from @thebooksocialite (my biggest and, arguably, only fan) gave me the boost to actually think I might do it. She’s also been a wealth of knowledge of what to do and what not to do when it comes to querying.

Being indie is rewarding and challenging. It’s removed barriers and allowed me to get my work out. But it also means it’s all on me. That’s been hard. I do Marketing in my day job and it’s the last thing I want to do when I get home. I have two young, demanding kids. It’s exhausting balancing it all.

It’s also rewarding and challenging putting myself out there. Hearing no is tough, but worth it. Every single no is one step closer to a yes. I only need one yes, and the 100 no’s are steps toward the one.

All this to say, stop letting fear and self-doubt stop you. You can do anything. No is just a word. It can feel personal, but it’s not. It’s a chance to learn and grow.

Camp Grandma, Marianne Waggoner Day

This boy right here loves his Granny. I can’t wait to read #CampGrandma by Marianne Waggoner Day and share with my mom. (Release Date: May 7)

From the publisher:

Warm cookies and milk are still okay, but what if they came with a workshop on goal setting or writing a business plan for the school year? Camp Grandma is full of innovative ideas that Marianne Waggoner Day, a highly successful businesswoman who became a committed and dedicated grandmother, modified from her working life in an effort to connect with her grandchildren. Along the way, she realized that in teaching her grandchildren, she in turn was learning some unexpected and invaluable lessons from them.

Here, Day offers a new and refreshing perspective on grandparenting. Readers will be introduced to a compelling, sometimes humorous, and totally unexpected twist on a role people often take for granted―as well as enter into the larger societal conversation we should be having about the possibilities and value of grandparenting and how the women’s movement has reinvigorated and reshaped women’s approach to being grandmothers.

Full of ideas and creative ways for grandparents to help their grandchildren grow strong, think critically, and have fun all at the same time, Camp Grandma reveals the importance of grandparenting and the value of passing on traditions, knowledge, and wisdom to the new generation. Babysitter? Not even close.

Thank you to BookSparks and the publisher for the ARC; I’ll be posting a review soon!

A Woman is No Man, Etaf Rum

**Review**

A Woman is No Man, Etaf Rum

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve seen so much hype around this book. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to it. My fears were unfounded. A Woman is No Man far exceeded the hype and my expectations.

Every single character was beautifully written and each drew me in, begging me to hear their stories. My heart broke for the three women. Reading Deya’s journey to finding her own voice and using made me proud, but also sad because it was the journey her mother lost wanted for her but couldn’t witness.

Do yourself a favor and buy into the type. Read this book.

Pretty Guilty Women, Gina Lamanna

**Review**

Pretty Guilty Women, Gina Lamanna (Releases 9/3/19)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was intrigued from page one. I had to know more about these women and the victim of the murder 4 of them confessed to. I made several guesses and was wrong each time.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of and more than once I confused Emily & Kate; despite this I felt all of the characters were well developed.

This was definitely a page turner!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Two Lila Bennetts, Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

**Review**

The Two Lila Bennetts, Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (Releases 7/23/19)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve been on a thriller/suspense kick lately and have read some excellent books. The Two Lila Bennetts holds its weight in this genre. It kept me engaged and guessing throughout.

Not only did I love the story, but I loved the dual narrative/scenario. It was unique and made the story even more interesting.

Thank you to the authors for the eARC review copy.

4.24.19 InstaShortie – Anything for the ‘Gram

Worst case scenarios are always running through my mind. An untimely sneeze causes a fender bender. A simple paper cuts gets infected and I lose my entire arm. You name it and I’ll tack on the worst possible outcome.

More than half of my waking hours are often spent imagining these unlikely scenarios and plotting my escape.

The one I didn’t plan for? Having my pants split right down the ass in the middle of Barnes & Noble while trying to get the perfect Bookstagram Photo. The sound reverberated through the quiet store. The slow rip of the seam filled the air as it exposed what I’d hoped were at least cute undies. Did I wear the pink lacy ones or my laundry day granny panties?

Snickers echoed through the silent aisles. I didn’t dare turn around. My face was pinker than then underwear I hoped I was wearing. If I didn’t turn around, they’d never have a face to put with the ripping pants.

God, I hope they don’t follow me. I thought. If they follow me, they’ll recognize this photo when I post it know it was my ass that exploded through the ripped seam. I wasn’t even planning to buy the book. All I needed was a photo.

“Ma’am?” a timid voice behind me said. The hand belonging to the voice tapped me shoulder.

“Yes?” I replied and stood. I attempted to pivot so my mishap wouldn’t be on full display. Riiiiip.

I failed. As I stood, the rip deepend. A breeze hit my upper thigh. You know the spot just under your cheek? The one women’s magazines ask you to hold a pencil under to see what type of ass shape you have? The other butt cleavage, if you will. The stale, cold air tickled my bare skin. I reached behind me to pull the fabric tight and confirmed it was not the pink lacy underwear. Great.

“Your pants ripped,” she observed.

Thank you, Captain Obvious. “Yes, I believe the whole store heard that.” I looked down at the young employee, her cheeks as red as merlot.

“Are you buying that book?” Not only had my pants ripped, but I was being asked if I intended to shoplift.

I shook my head. “Just needed a photo.” And to expose my ass.

“I’m afraid we’re going to have to ask you to leave.” Another voice joined the conversation. This one less timid. “We have decency standards.”

I started to argue that I did too, but considering I was exposing half of my unmentionables to his staff, I could see where he was coming from. So, I just nodded and turned to walk away. The draft reminded me of my… situation.

“Could I possible borrow a shopping bag? To cover my, um, you know.” I gestured behind me, fanning my cheeks.

Without cracking so much as the hint of a smile, he nodded and dismissed the girl to retrieve a plastic bag. He left before she returned. I kept my back facing the shelf, careful to not brush my skin against it. I was fairly certain they’d make me purchase any books my ass touched and my TBR was big enough already. Besides, what would I write in the caption? I picked this book because the author is an always buy, and my ass cheek skimmed it in the store so I had to.

Standing this still and tense should count as a lower body workout.

“Here,” she said and handed me a bag. “You look familiar.”

Please, no.

“Are you on Bookstagram?” When I nodded, she laughed and said, “Anything for the ‘Gram. Right?”

Verity, Colleen Hoover

**Review**

Verity, Colleen Hoover

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was intense and disturbing. The plot was well developed, as were the characters. 

This would have been a five star for me if it hadn’t included graphic details on harming children. As a mother, it was hard to read. I had to put it down and walk away a few times.

The book kept be captivated and engaged, it just gutted me too. I also felt it ended abruptly without fully diving into some of the questions it created.

Looker, Laura Sims

**Review**

Looker, Laura Sims

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I had low expectations coming into this one. I’ve seen mixed reviews and reactions. It was a quick read, but it was a lot of exposition; I could have used a bit more dialog.

I didn’t connect to the main character at all, which I felt should have been important since we are inside her head the entire book.

It was a quick read, but I felt like the ending was abrupt, and it could have used a bit more character development.