- Alpha’s Trust – https://books2read.com/AlphasTrust
Let’s take a moment, take a breath, and lay down some hard truths about life.
In general, it’s up to every single person how they want to experience life. Sure, things happen to us, and mental health is an absolute bitch, but at the end of our life, we will either be fulfilled by what we did in our life, or we won’t.
That means people can live their lives (no matter what happens) in two different ways: fulfilled or hungry.
Let’s talk about what that means.
“Hungry” people are those who look at someone and only see how that person can help *them.* They seek out people they believe will benefit them, or make them feel good, or help them get ahead, etc, etc. But no matter how much they get, hungry people will always feel slighted by the world because they always want more. There are never enough favors you can do for someone like this, never enough attention you can give, never enough praise you can say or text. They are always seeking MORE from the world, and the moment you do not benefit them, or you disagree with them, or you aren’t able or willing to help in the way they want, they will cut you out of their life — but it won’t make them feel better. They will always be hungry, always be grabbing for anything they can get to try and fill that hole inside them, but taking from the world only makes the hunger worse.
Because ‘taking’ is not ‘fulfilling.’
So, let’s talk about “fulfilling” people. These are the people who see another human and look for a way to help. They see a problem and want to help solve it, without expecting anything in return. They are willing to move slower, to sacrifice a win, to miss an opportunity, just to reach down and lift someone up with them. “Fulfilling” people are never empty because they are satisfied by the impact they have on those around them. They support, love, encourage, and help others stand tall because it makes the world better. They offer up their time, their skills, and more, because they sincerely want to make someone else’s day better. And living every day like that, putting good out no matter how bad things get, means every day they feel fulfilled.
Because ‘giving’ is better than ‘receiving.’
You’ve probably heard that, or some version of it, many times in your life — but it’s the truth. It’s why we get more excited to watch a friend open a gift than we are to open a gift to us. Improving the lives of others improves us. Giving a random compliment to another person makes *us* feel good. Putting good out into the world brings good back.
All of us are going to die someday. Life is one adventure where no one gets out alive, and in the end you will either still be hungry, or you will be fulfilled, and every day you make choices that lead you one direction or the other.
I choose to be fulfilled. I choose love. I choose hope. I choose friends and fun and compliments and hugs and all the good things that make me feel warm whenever the darkest thoughts invade my mind. We’re in charge. We choose.
So, ask yourself, what choices are you making?
(artwork from my bff of 20+ years, inspired by this post)
I know you’ve been waiting for years, and I’m so excited to finally have Beth’s story on the way to you. If you read Breaking Beth, you know just how nightmarish her beginning was, and although her journey isn’t over yet… I think you’re going to love watching her fall in love.
Dive into Beth’s story → https://books2read.com/BreakingBeth
Pre-order now and watch for the cover reveals soon!
So, I haven’t blogged in a while, but I feel like it’s something I’m finally mentally healthy enough to take on again, and I’m absolutely going to make an effort to start doing it more consistently with the old favorites like Music Monday and Thankful Thursday, etc. But, before I dive into the core topic of today’s ramble (with gifs!) I do have to say that without the support of so many amazing authors, readers, and local friends I know I wouldn’t have made it through the last year without losing my mind completely. So, thank you guys so much for lifting me up when I needed it most.
And, really, that’s the main thing I want to talk about today in my completely rambling way. When I worked at my day job there was a coworker I had that wasn’t exactly a friend, but we were amicable, and although we didn’t always see eye to eye, he did have this phrase hung up at his desk where he could see it, and all of us could also see it when we walked by. It always stuck in my mind because I feel it’s so true and so important. Since I don’t have his handy piece of paper, I slapped it on a pretty picture for you guys.
It’s pretty freaking simple.
Seriously… this concept shouldn’t be foreign to any of us in life, but it especially resonates within the author community. I’ve been publishing for over five years now and while I have met some incredible people who go above and beyond to help their peers, I’ve also seen people who treat this like some kind of competition — which, newsflash, it isn’t. There is not an author on the planet that can write books fast enough to keep up with these voracious readers who devour romance books at an impossible pace, and what does that mean for all of us?
We only succeed when we lift each other up.
When we share each other’s books with our readers while we’re updating them for the tenth time about our progress on our next book, we’re giving them the chance to fall in love with another author and fulfill their reading needs because we can’t at that moment. In return, that author will often share your new release, and the cycle continues, around and around, with lots of different authors across the landscape of authorlandia.
Mufasa laid it out when I was still a kid, and he’s right. We’re all connected in this great circle of “romance book” life. That’s the truth of it. So, when I see people insulting other authors, or tearing them down, or dragging their name through the mud all across social media over a disagreement or a personal issue… I honestly don’t get it. We’re not going to all be besties, and that’s just because people are people and we don’t have to like everyone — but making a public spectacle of a private matter? Tearing down another author’s opportunity for success because you don’t like what they write, or don’t like their cover, or don’t like something they said or did? That just doesn’t get us anywhere. All it does is hurt the reputations of everyone that gets involved or shows up on the periphery. When that happens, we all fall a little.
We all sink, together, in the eyes of our readers and the community.
And who wants that? Who wants to be seen as the “problem child” in the author community, or the “drama queen,” or the “gossipy one?” None of those are good labels to put next to your brand, and no matter what you think of authorlandia as a whole — your name is your brand. Every action we take in a public space reflects directly back on our brand, especially because most of us derive many of our new readers through advertising on social media, and many readers that find authors in other ways go to social media to see what that person is “really” like behind the pretty picture and author bio.
Ask yourself… when people look for you, who will they find?
It might be. I’m not here to answer that question for you. I’m only here to try and share the concept that all of us can succeed together. We can be kind, we can be generous, we can share knowledge, we can reach out, we can speak up, and we can see each other as partners in this crazy publishing world instead of “competition.”
Most importantly, we can lift each other up, and we can ascend together.
There are no limits to the number of books a reader will buy. I think the sheer number of memes revolving around our ever-growing TBR lists (mine could crush a small village easily) is a testament to that fact. Romance readers aren’t just voracious with their reading habits, they’re voracious with their buying habits. A book is an impulse buy because something about it spoke to them. An amazing cover, an intriguing blurb, a snippet that made them have to fan themselves, or a friend shoving the book into their virtual hands with an “omg this book destroyed me and you have to read it right now!”
It really doesn’t.
And even if you’re convinced that every reader is a coveted item to be hoarded like Gollum did the ring, then you still have to ask yourself what kind of world you want authorlandia to be. We’ve all chosen this path for ourselves, and it is hard on the best of days, and a nightmare on the worst, so why should we make it harder on each other? Why not use your reach and your voice and your brand to spread positivity in this community? Why not leave the world of authorlandia a little better than you left it each day?
Personally, I’m a big believer in karma, and I’ve experienced the way that the love you send out into the world comes back to you. When I was at my lowest points in the last year with the death of my grandfather, then my mother, my step-grandmother shutting me out of her life, and the trouble with my kiddo needing help at school and the journey of getting special education resources… it was this community that kept my head above water. Even when all I could do was lie in bed and wonder when things would get better, I never had to go farther than my phone to find someone reaching out to me, checking on me, telling me they loved me / my books / my whole weird personality. When my entire life was in tatters, karma paid me back for all the love and energy I’d sent out over the years ten-fold.
And the same will happen for you.
We get out of the world what we put into it, and even if you think karma is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, at the end of the day it’s still better to be a positive influence. To choose love, not hate. Choose kindness, not malice. Choose being the person you want to see in others, not the person that continues the cycle of pain.
And while I’ve been speaking to authors for most of this, it all applies to readers too, because this community wouldn’t even exist without you in it. So, when negativity shows up on our feeds on social media, we have the choice to let it lie, or participate. All of us make that choice (unfortunately way too often) and those choices are going to continue shaping authorlandia and the world we choose to experience every day. So…
Let’s choose to treat each other like partners, or at the very least coworkers — not competition.
Let’s choose to lift each other up when we have the opportunity.
Let’s choose to leave the world a better place.
We all need it, even when there isn’t an apocalypse going on. <3 So, that’s all I wanted to ramble about today, because I figured I might not be the only one who could use that phrase on the pretty picture rolling around in their head. Feel free to save the picture, share it, share this blog, comment, etc. We’re all in this together, and I’m going to continue trying to lift up those around me because that’s how we all rise.
Thanks for reading, lovelies. Just remember, we’re #InThisTogether.
Hi Lovelies. I totally meant to post this on Tuesday, but with everything going on it totally slipped my mind. I wanted to let you know that my mom is now in hospice. The cancer has spread a lot and she’s in so much pain. I know this will be a mercy to her, but I feel so lost right now. It’s just me and my step-grandmother handling all of this and I’ve never felt so alone.
While that is going on, my good friend Zoe put out a bomb-ass series and I wanted you to see it! Take a look at this, not only did she write some amazing stories, she dropped an entire series IN ONE DAY.
* * *
‘Bad Babygirl: The Hacker’
Daddy’s going to own me.
I knew computer hacking would get me into trouble one day, but not like this.
Kidnapped and held captive in a military compound, I’m held down and branded with the number thirteen.
Just when I think my captors have pushed me to the end of my limits, I discover there’s worse to come.
A man forcing me to call him Daddy.
He’s going to make me submit to him.
The more I fight, the more he likes it.
* * *
Tossing my purse on the side table, I turned to close the door behind me and lock it.
A man’s arm reached over my head and slammed the door shut.
Letting out a shocked scream, I turned back… and faced a pair of platinum gray eyes.
“Hello, Gwen.” His voice was dark and low… ruthlessly controlled.
I opened my mouth to scream again.
Julius’ hand wrapped around my throat as he leaned in close.
“Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. I can’t have you screaming like that, baby.”
“What do you want, Julius?” I rasped, his grip on my throat an uncomfortable threat.
“I think it is time for new introductions. My name is Ethan Hale.”
He paused. I could see him searching my eyes for any sign of recognition. As if I should know who he was, but I didn’t. Fuck, why didn’t I know who this man was?
“And you are Piper Clayton,” he finished.
“I didn’t take any money. I never put the sale through,” I rushed to explain, assuming he was angry I had conned him.
Who the hell was this man and how the fuck was he able to find out my real name and where I live?
Oh my god, the dollhouse. The fucking dollhouse. Was he responsible?
“This isn’t about the money, Piper. I want something far more valuable than money from you.”
Without thought, I tried to scream again.
His hand closed around my throat, cutting off my air. My fingers clawed at the back of his hands as I struggled to breathe. Slowly, my body slid up the wall as he used his grip on my throat to lift me off the floor. The pressure on my windpipe increased.
“You’ve been a very bad little girl, Piper. I won’t tolerate any more disobedience. Do you understand?”
His grasp on my throat prevented me from speaking or nodding, so I blinked my eyes to show him I did.
He lowered me to the floor and slackened his grip. After he could see I would no longer try to cry out, he lowered his arm. Straightening his cuffs, he ordered, “Now be a good girl and invite me in for a chat.”
Giving him a dirty look, I responded stiffly, my voice hoarse. “Won’t you come in?”
Taking a step forward, I began to shake as I felt his presence directly behind me.
This was bad. Very bad.
I needed to reach my bed. Under the pillow was a .38 special Quinn had given me a few years ago. Taking a few more hesitant steps, I waited till I was close then lunged for the mattress. Falling across it on my stomach, I slid my hand under the pillow.
There was nothing there.
Horrified, I turned on my back and looked up at Ethan. He was standing close to the bed, legs spread wide as he towered over my prone form. Reaching behind him, he pulled the revolver free from his waistband.
“Looking for this?”
With a cry, I rolled onto my stomach and tried to scramble away across the rumpled bed sheets. He grabbed my ankle and pulled me toward him. Reaching down, he fisted my hair and lifted me up.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” I cried out as I reached up to try and dislodge his grasp.
Ethan dragged me across the room and pushed me against one of the wide, timber support beams which dotted my loft space.
I watched as he inhaled deeply but said nothing. As if he needed a moment to control his emotions. This was not a man to piss off, I reminded myself, especially if he knew something about David’s murder.
As I waited for his next move, I looked him over. Similar to yesterday at the gallery, he was wearing another custom-made suit. The clean black lines accentuated his broad shoulders and muscled arms. The sharp angles of his jawline and lowered brow heightened the sense of dangerous power he exuded.
I stayed silent. My fingers gripped the smooth wood of the beam behind me in an effort to ground myself and my rioting emotions.
“Little girls who lack discipline tend to get themselves in trouble… very dangerous trouble.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Don’t you?” he challenged as his fingers undid the first button of my cardigan.
“Please. Please don’t hurt me.”
Ethan looked into my eyes. I could feel his warm fingers brush my skin as he undid another button.
“If you don’t want me to hurt you, then you need to be honest with me.”
“I don’t know what you want!”
I watched as his eyes flashed with anger and unmistakable need.
Grabbing my jaw with his full hand, he pushed my head back till it connected with the beam. I watched in captive silence as his gaze moved from my eyes to my open lips and back.
“I want you to say that you were a very bad little girl.”
* * *
I love how Zoe has done this series, and I can’t wait for life to slow down so I can read them because they sound super hot. That said, please don’t get upset if I don’t respond to you right away, because I am not going to be online at all for a while. Email is absolutely the best way to get a hold of me, or message my PA, Niki Roge, for anything urgent. Her email is nikiroge at gmail. I love you, lovelies!
Amazon: 1-click now!
* * *
Want more of Zoe Blake?
There is something delicious in our desire for the corrupt, our ravenous appetite for the brutal, the profane, the unspeakable. The taboo. I write the type of books that give you a frisson of unease; that will have you questioning your own resolve as I take you on a dark ride of twists, kinks and perversions of both the flesh and mind. Enjoy the blush and tremble as you read each decadent word. XOXO Zoe
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it, lovelies?
Well, my plan (originally) was to write a version of this that first week in Authorlandia, but if you’ve followed me on social media at all then you’re probably aware of why that didn’t happen. If you don’t know… don’t worry, I’ll get to that. I wanted to open this rambling blog (complete with gifs as always) with something positive before I get into the rest of it. I wanted to say thank you.
For real, thank you.
I never would have taken the leap to go full-time as an author without all of your support, all of your kind messages, your reviews, your general niceness about me and my books. Even though it hasn’t quite been the ecstatic adventure I dreamed of so far, it’s still a dream come true, and I owe it all to you guys.
Just to give a brief update, since I’m sure most of you know… I left my day job on March 8th, and so my first full-time author day was Monday, March 11th. It was a pretty fun day, I got a lot done, I was feeling on top of the world as I worked on Inheritance and knocked out things I could have only wished for the time to do before it was my actual job.
Then, at about 3pm I got a phone call from my grandparents’ neighbor saying my grandfather had a heart attack and was nearby at a local hospital. I asked if I should do anything, should I tell my mom, etc., etc., and they told me to wait. A couple of hours later I got a call to go pick up my mom and bring her to the hospital because it didn’t look good. Now, if you’re just joining my mess of a life, you may not know that my mother has Stage 4 cancer and is not mobile. She has daytime care during the week, but on the weekends I help her out, and at night she doesn’t have someone on site because she sleeps a lot. We all live within an hour of each other, and my grandparents / mom / me / kiddo all see each other at least twice a month (on the weekends I have my daughter). We’re extremely close, and my grandfather has basically been my father figure my whole life. I wasn’t doing so great either, but I kind of went… numb. I had too much to do to freak out, cry, lose it.
So, I took my daughter to her dad’s house and then drove to my mom’s house (about 35 mins away) and broke the news to her that my grandfather was in the hospital. She was in bad shape, obviously very upset, but I was able to get her packed up with everything she’d need and in the car. We got to the hospital and it was very clear that my grandfather wasn’t okay. My step-grandmother (whom I love) was crying so hard she couldn’t talk, we had to get a nurse to come in and explain, and we were told he was already on life support with very little brain activity. Pa (my grandfather) had always been very clear that he didn’t want to be on life support. So, I had to help my step-grandmother fill out the DNR form because she has cataracts and couldn’t read it. Technically, I signed the DNR form for my grandfather. Yay, me. We stayed there all night, kept him on life support so my uncles could drive up from South Texas to be there in the morning. Life support ended early the next morning, and they kept him comfortable with morphine until he passed. It was surreal, and I alternated between crying with everyone else, and just sitting there. Staring at him, because I couldn’t imagine the world without him in it.
While we were sitting with him that morning, we learned this his sister (my great aunt?) had died on hospice care around 3am in the morning. She had been fighting a long battle with cancer, the same kind my mom has, the same kind my grandmother had, the same kind I will most likely have, and passed peacefully — but it was still a lot to handle. We all cried, a lot, and then I took my mom home with my uncles. Saw them off, because they had to get back home, and then I got my mom comfortable so she could rest. Then, I went back home, looking forward to seeing the new pet tarantula my daughter and I had been so excited about… only to find it had died in transit. My best friend had stayed at my house most of the day to receive her, opened the container she was in and put it in the enclosure, but she was already gone.
Cue complete and total meltdown.
Obviously… it wasn’t good. I had to get my daughter from school the next day and tell her about her Papa, to try and explain death to a five year old without screwing her up for life. I think I did an okay job. She kind of understands Papa is gone, but she’s also asked if he would come to her birthday party (which is this weekend). I just keep explaining it to her, reviewing the facts of death, how everything dies eventually. Big ideas for a little girl. I’m sure we’ll see in a decade or two if I handled it the right way.
But, I was still a full-time author, and for many of those days I just wasn’t doing my job. I was barely functioning, and so many of you reached out with kind words, sweet comments, and supportive messages. I’ll be forever grateful for all of that, in a way I can’t quite put into words. Still, I needed to get moving. I needed to get Inheritance out, especially since it was already sooooo late… but I liked where it was going. Then Niki came into town, we had a book signing, I met up with author friends, and I got the book finished. That weekend was wonderful, and it was easy not to slip back into a nest of depression because I had someone here that understood and wanted to see how David and Lianna wrapped up this book. It worked. I felt better. I was ready to get it out so I wouldn’t miss my March deadline on my goals for this year.
Because, fuck, I was going to have something go right in this new full-time author gig.
But, maybe that wasn’t the right move. Inheritance has fizzled. It never really took off, never broke top 1000 on Amazon, and Amazon isn’t posting the reviews from the people who did buy it. I know that book sales dipped for everyone in March, and maybe this is just the lingering effect of that, and Inheritance is the 2nd book in a series (which never sell as well, and definitely don’t sell as well when they come out 15 months after the original). I don’t even know why I thought it would do well. I’m not sure if it was hubris or just some ridiculous belief that the universe wouldn’t piss in my cheerios back to back, but I am most often a realist and I shouldn’t have hung my hopes on this book. I have so many more to release this year, and that is what I need to focus on. I know that I need to focus on that.
It’s just hard to get out of bed right now.
I wake up, take my daughter to school, come back and take care of the dogs and then just… crawl back into bed. Even though I try to pep-talk myself into feeling better, even though I know that the only thing that will make me feel better is accomplishing something. Anything. All my brain wants to do is lay in bed and zone out on the television, or listen to music and avoid the world, because the world hasn’t been very nice to me lately. I know that most people want to reach out when they’re sad, depressed, but all I want to do is crawl in a hole and disappear. I’m an anxiety-ridden introvert on the best of days, and when I’m down I just don’t have the energy for any of it. Still, people who love me are reaching into the dark and trying to pull me back out, and I am working on it.
Honestly, I’d be much farther down if I hadn’t started a different medication a couple of months ago, which was going to be the original topic for this blog post, back before the world caught fire. I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression my entire life, but a very clever doctor of mine recognized some things I said and realized I was not clinically depressed — I had bipolar disorder. All of my insomnia-ridden writing weeks where I’d knock out 20k words and sleep a handful of hours a night? Clean the house in the middle of the night? Stay up and knock out my author to-do list and still go to work in the morning? My version of a manic episode. Sure, not very self-destructive… in fact, I was always very productive when I was manic. It’s just not a good idea to burn the candle at both ends, because it wears you down, and then it’s only a matter of time until something happens to nudge me off into a depressive episode.
And those, well, those last a long fucking time for me.
That’s basically what happened all last year. It’s why Inheritance was so god damn late. It’s why I published so little last year. The stress of my daughter starting kindergarten, buying a house, taking care of my mother, working two full-time jobs, and trying to plan for the possibility of going full-time as an author just… broke me. I couldn’t handle anything. I had multiple break downs. I scared a lot of people in my life who love me because they could see me unraveling, and the antidepressants I was on were not changing it at all.
Then I started the medicine for bipolar disorder, and it was like I could finally think straight. The world wasn’t completely meaningless and chaotic. Bad things still happened, but (honestly) I started to be able to handle the little things better. The way I described it to a friend of mine was that my brain had always felt like a five-lane highway completely full of cars, all of them speeding as fast as they could. My brain was never quiet, never stopped whirring, and that constant motion had my anxiety at a 9/10 almost all of the time last year. I had so many panic attacks because when anything happened, when anything tried to get onto that highway in my brain, it was an instant car crash. There was no capacity, no space for one more thing inside my head.
The medication has helped. I know that it has, but I don’t think all the medicine in the world could have adequately prepared my brain for my first month as a full-time author. The deaths, the drama, the release of Inheritance not doing what I’d hoped… it was too many big cars trying to get on the highway in my head (even though they’re slower now and there’s less of them).
So, have I been depressed? Absolutely.
Do I need more serotonin and endorphins? Yeah, I do. I’m looking into gyms / crossfit nearby to A) get me out of the house, and b) get me back in shape. So, I’m working on that, lovelies.
But, am I okay right now? The answer to that is…. kind of? I know that without my meds I’d be in a very different place. I wouldn’t have recovered enough last month to finish Inheritance and get it released. I wouldn’t be out of my bed right now writing this to you. I am doing better than I was, and I am going to keep moving forward. I promise.
So, I can tell you for sure, I will be okay.
How could I not be with this support system around me? I’m very lucky, I love all of you, and I know just how incredible this tribe is. Also, Breaking Beth will come out this month. And although it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I don’t expect amazing things… I know that it’s going to start an incredible story that so many fans of the Thalia series have wanted.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot of stuff that’s been resting on my hard drive, waiting for me to have the time to get it in all of your hands, and so…. all I can say is “get ready” because there’s more coming this year. I’m trying to pick myself back up, I’m trying to get moving again, and just the fact that I’m upright this evening and my kitchen isn’t covered in dishes is a good sign.
I wouldn’t have been at this point a year ago, or without all of you.
So, I love you. I am grateful you put up with me, lovelies, and accept me even with all my mental health stuff. This is still my surreal dream come true, and I know that it will feel like it soon. I have to believe that. <3
Thank you guys,