Life ain't always about me, y'all, so today, I decided to celebrate an exciting event for a sister writer. Below you'll find her blog which I totally stole. She's releasing her latest book and doing an amazing give away. You'll find a link to the contest here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/48229cee2/
Her books are pretty amazing so give them a try!
Here's a preview of the prizes!
RELEASE WEEK GIVEAWAY - $50 Amazon gift card and more up for grabs!
Windswept is HERE y'all! And with it comes a category 5 giveaway. Don't you just love a good storm?
Up for grabs:
* $50 Amazon gift card
* Custom leather Kindle cover inspired by Wildwood and hand detailed by Rockstar Custom Leather
* Custom leather bronc halter hand detailed by Rockstar Custom Leather
* Signed paperback of Wildwood, book #1, with bonus swag * Signed paperback of Windswept, book #2, with bonus swag
How do you enter? Why, spread the word about Windswept, of course! Use the Rafflecopter form below to submit your entries. The giveaway opens Tuesday, May 22nd, and ends Saturday, May 26th at the stroke of midnight. Winners will be selected at random by Rafflecopter within 48 hours of closing.
Windswept is on sale NOW for just $1.99 on Amazon for Kindle. If you haven't read Wildwood yet, you're in luck, because it's also on sale for just $2.99.
Check out an excerpt from Windswept:
“Our enemies are close," Maris whispers, her gaze shifting from me to Jayce and back again. "Too close. If we all join hands, I will be able to seal our sounds inside so we can speak freely.”
“How do I know you’re not an enemy, too?”
“You don’t.” She flexes her fingers, but waits for me to decide to make contact.
“For Pete’s sake, Tanzy. This isn’t The Bachelorette Candidates’ special edition. You’re not getting married. You’re just casting a damn spell.” Jayce grabs my arm with one hand and Maris’s arm with the other, and joins us together. “There. Hashtag let’s-do-this-already,” she says, clamping her palms in ours to complete the circle.
Maris suppresses a smile and closes her eyes. I deny a shudder of nervousness and force out a long, slow exhale.
“Air and water join us here, use our light, and make a sphere. Seven colors round and round, shield our circle, hide our sounds,” Maris commands. She repeats the incantation two more times. The air warms and thickens. A growing charge pulses through my arms like an electric current.
Maris falls silent. Everything does. The mist continues to drizzle, blanketing the muddy earth and barren trees, but the steady hiss has vanished. Even though we sit within a few steps from the creek, I can’t hear it. With a start, I realize it must work both ways. No sounds in. No sounds out.
“We are safe to speak, but it won’t last long.” Maris slips her hand from mine. Her charcoal skin is pale in places where I’d unwittingly tightened my grip. Will I ever learn how to use the horse’s strength deliberately?
I rub my clammy, filthy hands together, trying to make them warm enough to stop shaking. They’re sweaty with nervousness, and the rust-colored film on my hands rolls into beads. It’s not gritty like the dirt I clung to when I climbed out of the ravine at Wildwood. It’s smooth, and presses flat into tiny flakes wherever I push down.
This is not earth.
This is dried blood.
David Andrews’s blood, caked in the webbing between my fingers and crusted beneath my nails.
The sound of his last, sputtering breath echoes in my brain. I let out a cry and wipe my fingers violently against my dress. Copper streaks the wrinkled white linen within seconds. The color leaves my hands, but there’s no relief from its weight, its smell.
“What’s wrong?” Jayce’s voice is an octave too high. “Is that blood?” She sniffs at the air. Her pupils dilate as she arrives at her own conclusion.
I can’t summon the focus to answer—can’t stop trying to make my hands clean. From the expression on Maris’s face, she’s seeing the memory of me strangling Vanessa’s husband. The image of life leaving his eyes. The nightmare I can’t wake from.
Her gaze trains on Asher’s mark, and she brings an open palm to the brand. Heat crawls across my chest, but I’m frozen in place. My arms don’t heed the mental command to bat her hand away. Two of the circles turn black, shimmering like the coming night, and then fade back into the appearance of an old scar.
“When did this happen?” She regards me with new distance, studying my face like I’m a complete stranger.
“Vanessa tricked me into believing her husband was attacking her. She told me he would kill her. She set me up. She made me believe . . . I thought he was Asher.” The confession tumbles from me, heavy and slipping.
“You’ve killed someone?” Jayce asks, her throat constricting around the words.
“She has taken two lives. Two of these rings belong to her now,” Maris says. Her fingers curl. She stares past me. I risk a glimpse of Jayce, whose face falls from brazen to defeat within a single second.
“Tell me about the first,” Maris orders, her mouth forming a grim line.
“An Unseen attacked Vanessa in the woods. I got between them. He picked me up by my throat and I . . . exploded,” I whisper. “I didn’t want to kill him, but he kept coming.” The memory plays in front of my open eyes. “If I hadn’t killed him he would’ve killed me.”
“Doesn’t matter. She’s useless.” Jayce shakes her head and mutters under her breath.
“I’m not useless.” My fingernails dig into my palms.
“Yes. You are,” Jayce growls.
“Enough,” Maris says. “This is Hope’s fault. She chose to keep Tanzy in the dark, and this is the price. Tanzy, you can’t kill anyone else, Seen or Unseen, for any reason.”
“A third kill, and you belong to Asher,” Jayce adds, focusing her icy glare on my face.
All the air is sucked from my lungs. I was under the impression the three circles had everything to do with Spera. How could I have missed this? A mental path quickly links the two lives I took, and arrives at one common denominator: Vanessa. She’s masterminded every move I’ve made since waking with the horse’s Vires blood coursing through my veins. She must know what will happen if I take a third life. It’s an insurance policy, I realize. If I won’t use the Vires strength for Asher, I can’t use it at all.
Want another taste test? Check out snippets, features, reviews, and more on my Instagram page.
Thank you so much for celebrating Windswept's release week with me! If you win the gift card, what will you splurge on? Comment below!
Tanzy's journey continues in Windswept, Book #2 in the Hightower Trilogy.
An Unseen World believes Tanzy Hightower is the key in an ancient prophecy meant to deliver the only new birth in all of time. They have waited a thousand years for her soul to return to life in human form. Some of them will stop at nothing to fulfill the prophecy, and others have sworn an oath to end Tanzy’s existence, permanently.
Tanzy’s body is compromised. Her veins are now home to the blood of a savage, wild horse, and its instincts are becoming impossible to control. Her world is also divided. She is determined to rescue Lucas, an Unseen creature who has loved her since her first life, and to find her treasured Harbor and the other stolen horses, which are bound for a catastrophic end in a world she can’t access on her own. Yet the only allies she has left insist she seeks refuge in a remote safe house on the Outer Banks.
While her fellow candidates beg her to stay in hiding, new enemies work to draw her out, making it clear Lucas and the horses are hers for the taking. But Tanzy knows all to well that when your loved ones are used as bait, finding them is only the beginning.
True to form, it’s been awhile since I last posted so this entry will just provide a little bit of an update about what I’ve been up to since January and the Great Camper Kidnapping Caper of 2017 (which also ran into 2018).
Brief summary of that… Camping World did not step up to fix the issues, actually ended up causing more damage, which they refused to repair UNLESS my parents signed a document saying they would be legally responsible for anything I wrote about their company. I had no idea I was that important or that they thought my blog reached copious amounts of readers but I did appreciate the ego boost, so thanks for that, Camping World! Needless to say, my parents didn’t sign, the repairs weren’t made, and Camping World is not the reason I haven’t blogged since then (in fact, fuck you, Camping World and fuck your face).
Life is the reason I haven’t written to you guys in a while. Since shortly after my last post things have just skyrocketed in terms of life for me. Some good, some not so good, but in short, I’ve just been busy living and being present. Wedding season started early for me this year, which has been sort of a juggling act because unlike in the years before where weddings were structured, weekend events, I have had a plethora of people who are asking to be married mid-week, mid-day in spur-of-the-moment ceremonies. I can’t complain because I love what I do and I’ve appreciated each couple that has found their way to me.
My daughter, son-in-law, and grandson also moved out earlier this year and that was a little bitter sweet. While we managed to coexist living in the same house for over two years, no house is big enough for two families and they needed their own space in order to start their own family dynamic. I can’t tell you how proud I am of both of them, though adjusting to them (and most importantly, the baby) not being here has been a bit of a struggle. I love my kid. She can be a pain in the ass (she gets that from me) but she is literally one of my best friends and while most in-laws can be less than crazy about the people their children marry, her husband is also one of my best friends, so it’s been a little bit lonely here without their company and conversation. But as much as I miss them, I miss my grandson the most. They moved an hour and a half away which made it all the harder, but it’s been worth it to see them all growing and thriving in their new environment (this makes it sound like a wildlife documentary that is narrated by a slightly gruff British, low-toned voice… “See the young wife nesting in her new habitat while the husband goes out foraging in order to provide for her and their young…”) doing what a new family needs to do and establishing their own place in the world. Did I mention how proud I am of them?
At the end of this past March, I lost my aunt Dawn, someone who because of the closeness in our ages was more sibling than my mother’s sister to me. Some of you know and are aware of how large my family is as well as how close knit we all are. Just to those not in the know, I grew up with 9 aunts and 3 uncles, though I wasn’t close to two of those uncles and one of those aunts. I had a fourth uncle but he died as a toddler long before I was born. I also have upwards of seventy first cousins and out of those seventy, around forty-five to fifty of us talk and communicate on a regular basis, as well as second cousins and so on. When I say we’re close, I mean it. My aunts are just under my mother in my ranking scale of important women in my life. In fact, our specific squad of moms, aunts, nieces, and cousins are affectionately referred to by ourselves as well as others as the Blonde Bitch Club, or the “BBC,” for short. Dawn wasn’t just my aunt, or even just a family member to me. She was also a big sister and my friend. We were only 6 1/2 years apart which meant we played together, grew up together and for me and both of my brothers as children, it was like having another sibling. She was a bride’s maid in my wedding. Her daughter was bride’s maid my daughter’s wedding, etc. As those of you who read these blogs know, I lost a brother in 1993 and it was a moment in my life I struggled for years to make peace with. Dawn’s death was as painful and was the second hardest loss of my life though now as an adult, I have the tools and am much more equipped at dealing with my feelings and emotions than I was at 17. You can rationalize, even when it hurts, the death of your grandparents or even your parents after a certain point because you know people age and the body wears out and death is an eventuality in that regard. It still hurts to lose them and it’s tragic, but it’s not the acute gut-wrenching pain of losing someone who isn’t even fifty yet and who is just gone in the blink of an eye from an illness that snuck up when no one, including her was even looking. But I will say this, as much as it fucking sucked to say goodbye to her, I was so lucky to have spent those horrible moments with my gigantic, loud, emotional, loving, crazy family. Death is hard and most times unwanted, but it can also be a beautiful experience. Standing there at Dawn’s Celebration of Life memorial service among uncles, aunts, cousins, my parents and the rest of my family was a beautiful, sweet experience that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life even though I hated every second of the reason we had to be there. I’ve heard and seen for myself that death can sometimes divide a family, bringing anger, resentment and sometimes even greed to the surface but my family, time after time, has always proven our love for each other and that the bonds that we share with one another are so much stronger than just the proclaiming of a family tie. I’m grateful to have them. And Dawn’s husband, my “Uncle Kev,” is one of the strongest human beings I have ever encountered. He could have been angry and bitter. He could have retreated. But he didn’t and he hasn’t. I watched him forgive people that day that he had every right to be hate-filled towards. I watched him lift others out of their own guilt or pain in spite of what he was experiencing himself. Being able to hold a person who hurt you and give them forgiveness and peace makes Kevin a personal hero in my eyes because I know it wasn’t easy. I know the depth and strength it takes to do that because I’ve had to do it a few times myself.
After Dawn’s passing, I came back to Georgia and threw myself into the finishing of Songs in the Key of Life, which included writing some song lyrics, something I haven’t done since my early adult years. This book has been a challenge and it’s almost done with the exception of some further tweaking and editing I’m hoping to complete in the next few weeks. Y’all know how much I hate this part of the process, so yes, I’ve been dragging my feet a bit. I’m crossing my fingers that this one will be out at least by July 4th, but I ain’t lying when I say, it’s been a monster in trying to find a happy medium between the past these two characters share and the present when they find each other again. There have been more than a few times when I’ve thought I bit off way more than I can chew and have been tempted to just table it for the time being but I’m nothing if not stubborn so I haven’t quit on it yet. It took five years to write the first Bimini and while I’m definitely hoping that will not be the case with SitKoL, I’m willing to keep fine-tuning it until I feel I’m giving my readers the best work of fiction I’m capable of writing. It’s what I expect when I buy a book with my own hard-earned money, so I’ll accept no less for you.
I don't generally enjoy calling people out. If you read these blogs, you'll see that while I'm hefty on self-criticism and making fun of myself, for the most part, (except in the blog post Why I WILL Be Seeing the Shack) I leave others out of my drama. But, when the stupidity of someone or something invades my life and then so blatantly leaves its self open... well, I can't resist. Especially when my family is involved. (Don't mess with my mama... or my dad, for that matter...)
My parents are senior citizens. A fact I don't like facing, but a fact, never-the-less. They worked hard their entire lives so they could go and do fun things during their retirement. In hopes of this, they bought a camper a few years ago. A really nice one, at that. They use it for trips, like the one we took to the Arkansas Diamond Mines together but they also use it to come down here to visit me, their granddaughter and now their great grandson. The camp site where they stay is close to my house. The camper affords them the luxury of being able to have their privacy and a little bit of peace from the chaos that sometimes is my home. It also gets used as a little guest house for when we have large family gatherings at their farm.
During one of our trips together, we noticed some warranty items which were beginning to fail. Once home, they took it to their local Camping World in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where it was originally purchased. A few weeks went by, my mom decided to call to check on the status. She was told they were waiting on the warranty department to approve the repairs. She called the warranty department, which told her they'd approved the repairs just a few days after it'd been dropped off. A week after that, it was waiting for the parts. A week after that, it was that the parts were in and they were fixing it "as we speak".
I won't go into the entire three month debacle of back and forth, but suffice it to say, as of last Thursday, no one (including corporate) could even give a status update on the camper or even if it was still located at the Fayetteville lot. At this point, I'd have been happy for a photo of one of the service guys standing by the camper with a daily newspaper to prove it was even still on the premises. Man, I wish I'd had suggested that earlier.... >_>
So here we have a unit that my parents are paying $360 per month on, which is basically being held hostage and no one can tell us why. When my mom reached the end of her rope in dealing with the Fayetteville location, I got involved. I figured maybe contacting the corporate office would help shed some light on this issue because let's face it... Who wants to pay $400 a month for something they can't use and no one will let you know what the hold-up is in repairing? Just seemed fishy to me. Never mind that the camper was awful new to be having these issues to begin with, but shoddy craftsmanship is another matter entirely.
So, I twittered Camping World corporate and I received an immediate response to which I was pretty impressed because you know, the Fayetteville location was no longer taking calls from my parents (thanks for nothing, Steve....). I spoke with a lovely guy at corporate named Mark, who at the time, agreed with me that (at the two month mark by this time) it was concerning to still not have the camper and more so, no communication regarding its status. He assured me he'd contact my parents first thing as well as get to the bottom of whatever was going on. Mark gave us his direct number and said we could call him anytime. 24 hours passed, he didn't contact my parents, so my mom contacted him instead, using the number he supplied. Someone else picked up and said Mark was not in. The next day he did call her back saying he'd had car troubles and hadn't been into the office the previous day when he was originally going to call her. My mom and Mark discussed at length the issues with the Fayetteville location and Mark genuinely appeared to want to help.
My mom was impressed with him as well which was pretty surprising because she isn't easily taken with anyone. Mark assured her and my father that the camper was indeed in repairs and should be ready within a matter of days. So another weeks goes by. This puts us into December. Mind you, they've had the camper now since the first week of October. Mark stops communicating suddenly as well as returning my parents phone calls. So I twitter Camping World again and get a response from someone named Ella, saying she was looking into the matter. No word ever comes back, so I twitter again and get a different person who tells me the same thing. My parents get a call that day from the service department of the Fayetteville location, telling them the parts were being delivered (after they'd already said the parts were delivered weeks ago) and they were making it a priority to get the repairs done.
That was three weeks ago. When my mom asked if they could just come pick the camper up, there was a lot of stuttering and stumbling before excuses were made and a promise of a "Let me call you back on that", was made. No call back happened. (I need a job with this company because apparently an unwillingness to do one's job is what it takes to succeed. I could work them all under the table...)
So I took to twitter again and launched a public campaign against Camping World, tagging not only the corporate office but also it's CEO, Marcus Lemonis, whose previous tweets to those complaining about this company was to tell said people that he would speak with them privately to resolve the issues. I guess I'm too much of a peon to warrant Mr. Lemonis's attention and that's OK. In my tweets, I asked for transparency and not to have any more private messages that included the platitudes of "we're looking into this matter," etc.... Because the time for platitudes had long passed. (I'm nice until I'm not)
Camping World blocked me. Why? Because I refused to be placated with the pats on the head they were giving my parents and I? Because I demanded finally after three months and four days to know what was going on with a camper that was NOT their property but located ON their property? Or because I demanded transparency? I demanded public answers since private correspondance hadn't yielded any? Because they're crybabies and couldn't handle a little public criticism? I don't know why. The reason doesn't matter, I guess, but I do think corporate was aware that something less than stellar was happening at the other location and rather than be honest about it, decided to try and shut me up by blocking me. Jokes on them... my parents have tried to shut me up for years. They'll tell you what an impossible task it is.
But, I don't mind being blocked (because I'm not a crybaby) from tagging them on Twitter because social media is as vast as the universe and between all the consumer complaint sites, facebook, blog sites.... the list goes on... Twitter is just a drop in the bucket. While they might be able to block me from tagging them in my tweets, they can't stop me from hashtagging them. #idowhatiwant #paymyinternetbill #thenwecantalk
On day 95 of what I dubbed The GreatCamper Kidnapping Caper of 2017, after some thought, I decided to email the local sheriff's department regarding this matter because I'd begun to suspect (yes, suspect) that perhaps someone at the Fayetteville location made an error after the camper was repaired and maybe it had been accidentally sold (shit happens and things get moved to the wrong side of the lot), or even perchance it was stolen or vandalized while on their lot (because this also happens) and corporate was stalling in an attempt to give the local place time to either recover the camper or repair any damage it sustained. It wouldn't have been Camping World's fault if someone had done damage to that camper while it sat on their lot, that's what insurance is for. If it'd been accidently sold, that would have been human error too and no one is perfect, just admit the mistake and move on. Any time you've got human hands involved, errors happen.
But I think the important thing to note here is, to mega corporations like Camping World, consumers like my parents are disposable, insignificant and apparently not entitled to explanations. Camping World is more concerned with covering up mistakes than owning them. A smaller business that depends on its good name for its continued success might have (I hope) treated a senior couple with a little more care and honesty. I think Camping World fails to realize honesty goes a long way with most people. Admitting your mistakes does, also. My parents made mistakes, too. The most recent being buying a camper from such a dishonest company who fails completely at consumer satisfaction.
I'm sure Camping World is aware of the horribly awful reviews of their company that have been posted nationwide. I'm sure good ol' Marcus is aware of the meme circulating Facebook regarding his wish that Trump supporters not shop in his stores. I guess negative publicity is still publicity when you're as big as he and his brand are, but to him I say this... I don't care about political views. Not yours, not the people who shop in your stores, and certainly not the people who work there. I do, however care about the way you conduct your business. When 98 percent of the comments on a political post about you aren't about you at all, but rather Camping World's inability to produce a quality product at a reasonable price and provide polite, informative, educated employees to serve its customer base, along with a repair staff who seem to be rather inept and incapable of doing the tasks to which they're paid to do, in a timely manner, maybe (I'm just putting this out here) it's time for restructuring. Starting at the top with your lack of leadership. After all, leaders should lead by example. It worries me what example you've set for your employees for them to be so cavalier in their treatment of others.
You literally hold the hopes and dreams of a lot of senior citizens (not to mention other people that have invested their family vacations in your product) who have been looking forward to their "golden years" and the days when they can jump in their campers or RV's to go explore a nation they spent their youth building. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as well as to have every single employee in that company treat them as if they were dealing with their very own parents or grandparents. Instead, you allow them to be taken advantage of. You allow them to be lied to. Given the run around and left ever-questioning what's being done with property some of them have spent their lives saving to buy. That makes you a shitty human being, Marcus. It also makes Camping World, which is a reflection of the person leading it and vice versa- a shitty corporation.
Marcus posted a Tweet yesterday, criticizing Sears for its loss of 100 more stores. He says, "Marcus Lemonis
Of course they are. Poor leadership destroyed a great brand and solid employees. Kill morale, assort bad product and extract every last dime and there you have it. “It’s a real estate play” yeah we see that."
Well, Marky Mark, maybe you should step back and take a look at your own business practices because that's where you and your Funky bunch are heading, too.
Incidentally, a miracle occurred a mere four or five hours after contacting Cumberland County Sheriff's Department with my questions, which included whether or not there had been any reported incidents of theft or destruction of property from that business.... My mom received a phone call from Camping World informing her the camper had been repaired and was available for pick-up.
Coincidence? Maybe... Probably. Maybe they were just super sick of me blowing up their Twitter feeds and of hearing from my family or maybe they actually decided 95 days was long enough and they needed room on their lot for another sucker's property. Whatever the reason, Camping World and I broke up. I can't say I'm sorry or that I'll miss them, though I'd love to cash in on some alimony from this dysfunctional relationship.
And to Mark, who is head of the CST up there in Corporate Colorado, I just want to say, "I ain't mad atcha... Play on, Playa."
I haven't been writing over the last few weeks because I've had some issues outside my immediate family. Not my issues, but issues that affect someone I love very much, therefore, affecting me. It's kinda hard to write a love story when you're watching someone else's fall apart.
As I've struggled over the past few days to wrap my brain around other people's behaviors, (remember, I study people as a hobby) I find that the deeper I delve into this, the more sick at heart I've become. For her. For any woman after her who falls for the game she's found herself an unwilling participant to.
I wish I could help. I wish I could make her understand that bad relationships and toxic people are a waste of time and effort. I wish I could make her see she deserves so much better than what she's signed herself up for. I wish I could give her the strength to hold her head up and walk away knowing she's making the right decision for herself and her children. But these are revelations she'll have to uncover on her own.
While I do believe that all human beings to some extent share some narcissistic as well as some sociopathic tendencies (we call them quirks), I also believe that the vast majority of us balance those things out with healthy, functional behavior, or even unhealthy, dysfunctional coping mechanisms for that matter, that keep us from preying on others who are just looking to live a normal existence as we ourselves are. In the words of the Mad Hatter, "We're all a little mad here." But there's a difference between a little bit of quirky, fun, ego-driven madness and a Sam's Club sized container of nuts.
Unfortunately, she fell for that bulk item and is getting drowned in his sea of crazy saltiness.
Normally, I try really hard not to judge anyone. I've done my own share of dirt. I am FAR from perfect. My moral compass does not point due North at all times. Because I know myself as well as I do, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt before I decide (for myself, regardless of anyone else's opinion) if I want to associate with someone in any way, shape or form. Because like I said... there's fun crazy and then there's 'someday I'm going to seriously snap and cause everyone around me bodily harm' crazy. Sadly, I believe the person my family member loves falls into that second category and those people are the hardest ones in the world to love as well as to get over because their naturally charismatic aura keeps those red flags hidden until suddenly they're not. When that happens, you find yourself wearing your heart out on someone who will never appreciate or reciprocate your efforts and you're left wondering what's so wrong with you that they can't love you back.
A few things I've learned over my 42 years on this planet is...
1. You can't fix crazy
2. You can't make someone love you
3. Sometimes, you can't help who you love.
I can't fault her for the times she's held out hope the man she loves is going to change because we always want to look for the best in those we give our hearts to. Especially when kids are involved. But I do wish she could see that she can't fix him. That he's the one who's unlovable, rather than her. And that this image she has of herself these days isn't a true one. It's one he's put in her head to keep her contained, compliant and afraid.
He's a predator. He's an expert at baiting and trapping. He doesn't care about the emotional condition or even the physical condition of those he leaves in his wake. She's beautiful. She's sweet. She's good hearted and she's kind. She's no match for him because likely he's been this way since he realized he could and has experience at building someone up just to tear them down. She doesn't see it because her brain isn't twisted like his. She doesn't understand that it makes him feel powerful to know he can inspire such abiding love in a woman before he destroys her life. He can cast her out and draw her back time and time again because he hooked her so well in the beginning so that all she wants is him. She can't see that he also thrives on her fear. Fear of him, of what he could do to her- physically, mentally, emotionally- and fear of what her future might be like without him, because if he's right (and she always wonders in the back of her mind if he is), then maybe the best she'll ever be able to do is him. But he's not right and she's so much more worthy of love than he.
She goes back time after time, not because she's stupid, either, but because he preys on her capacity to love and her's is deep, as well as wide when it comes to him. It's all forgiving and it's all consuming. He looks for that, exploits it and he devours it. He chips away at her soul in the meantime, letting her know she's not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, good enough for a guy like him. He preys on every insecurity she has, knowing them well because he's lived with her long enough to see them all. He tells her she's weak and worthless without him. He accuses her and belittles her in front of their friends and family because his narcissistic tendencies need to feel the pity of others, to be seen as the victim in all of this madness. He needs them to see that his wife (in his opinion) fell short of what he expected her to be. Putting her "flaws" on display for all to see gives him the liberty to act out while feeling justified in his behavior through violent alcoholic rages, infidelities, and deprivation of things she might need as simple as food or diapers for their children. In his circle of family and friends, you'll find those who are staunch believers in what he says because he's that charming, that convincing. They believe what he says and they also take it upon themselves to criticize and beat down the woman he put on trial for them. You might read what I'm saying and think I'm doing the same thing on her behalf, but I'm not. I saw first-hand what he's like and I wish I could unsee it for the benefit of my own heart and mind.
He's a classic, textbook abuser. You know the kind... They're the ones who say, "Why do you make me hurt you?" before they commence to beating your ass. And what's bad about this, aside from the obvious, is he's already dragged her so far down in her self esteem and self worth that she begins to believe that backhand to the nose really was her fault. It becomes justified because after years of hearing every minute detail of who she is and how she is, being picked apart time and again, is it any wonder why he hits her? She wants to hurt herself too, because he's made her believe that she deserves pain. Self inflicted or otherwise.
I pray for her. Every night when I go to bed and every morning when I get up. I pray for her strength and for her to receive clarity. She's out and she's safe but the battle isn't over, Now comes the attorneys and the accusations and she's going to need every ounce of will power not to cave into his threats or the fear of a future without him. She's going to have to be strong not only for herself, but for her kids. I'm proud of her. I believe in her but more than that, I want her to believe in herself. I want her to honestly believe that while it might not feel like it right now, she's going to be OK.
A while ago, I wrote a blog talking about inspiration and where it comes from and how for me, sometimes it develops from the strangest places. While that's definitely true and it can come from nothing more than a simple overheard conversation between two people, I receive some of my book ideas from music.
Diesel is out and it's doing really well, for which I'm happy but that doesn't mean momentum has slowed or stopped on my other projects. (And let's face it, it usually does cause I can be L-A-Z-Y.) An upcoming, nearly finished manuscript is awaiting edits, while I'm halfway through the rough draft on a new one. For the moment this halfway project is called "Songs in the Key of Life" and I'll tell you why.
There's a few reasons why that title keeps circling my brain in regards to this particular soon to be book. The first is Stevie Wonder. His album Songs In the Key of Life was released in September 1975 on the actual day I was born. Pretty cool, but what makes it even cooler is the songs on that album were some of my all time favorites BEFORE I even knew when it hit the market. There was just something about it that called to me in the lyrics and of course, anyone who knows me, knows I'm also a sucker for funk and piano music.
That said, the second is Eric Church. I wasn't much of a Church fan when he debuted however long ago it was. I don't remember the year but I can remember watching the CMA's with my parents and family the night he gave a performance of "Drink in My Hand." Between the ball cap, the aviators and the red solo cup, it just seemed a little too in keeping with the other country music circulating out there, like Luke Bryan, who I also wasn't originally a fan of either because of the same CMA awards where he performed "Shake it for Me", with all those scantily clad women dancing back up. Before you think I'm throwing down on either of these guys, or the women in LB's performance that night, you need to know I'm not. That's not where I'm going with this; not even close. I might be straight, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a nice booty on a chick.... Anyway-
Music has always been a key part of my life and at one time, it was more important than writing ever was or could have been. For as long as I can remember, before I was writing stories, I wrote songs. In high school I sang with a girl in her father's band and we had a chance to go somewhere with it, but she chose a guy over the music and that was that. Back then, I didn't have the confidence in myself to go it alone and then well, a guy happened to me, too. Later on, after my daughter was born, maybe a year or so, I had the opportunity to sing with another band who seemed to be on the up and coming. But after a few practices, I quickly realized they were more interested in trashing their wives and their livers (guilty of abusing my own liver, so totally not judging them for that) than they were seriously playing music. Throughout the years, I had other opportunities with other bands that fell through and eventually, I decided maybe the music path wasn't one I was meant to travel. But that doesn't mean I quit loving it, appreciating it or taking it seriously, which brings me back to Eric Church.
In my opinion back then, when I watched him perform for the very first time, my initial thought was, "Here we go, another guy writing for a niche market just to get radio play." So I rolled my eyes and changed the station any time his music came on. I'll be fair in admitting, after watching him that one and only time on the CMA's, I never gave him a chance again until a few years ago.
I was riding in my then (now scrapped) old truck when I heard Record Year for the first time. I had no idea who sang it, but I'm a lyrics person and the words of that song grabbed a hold of me the way none have in a long time. Since it was on the radio, I couldn't rewind it, so I spent the majority of the rest of my drive scanning radio stations to find it again. A few days later, I was cleaning, had my phone hooked up to Pandora and I heard it again. I dropped the mop I was holding before running to look at the display to see who the artist was. I gave a sorta groan when I realized it was Eric Church, but the song once again grabbed me, so I kept listening. And listening... and listening... and listening. Soon, I decided I had to check out some of his other music just to see if by some chance, Record Year was a fluke hit. I mean, it's happened. There's maybe one Taylor Swift song I like, but she lost me before and after it, so I'm just sayin'. It wasn't like that with Record Year. Because of this particular song, I discovered a whole other world of song writing with his music; a world I've since come to love and appreciate the genius that is wholly Church.
While Kill A Word might make me weepy and there are plenty others I love, too, Record Year remained my favorite of his because not only did it reference Stevie's Songs in the Key of life album (you had me at hello, with that one, Eric), but it also referenced other artists as well. Ones I'd loved my entire life, like New Grass Revival.
I have decidedly eclectic taste in music to put it mildly and when I say that, I mean it. Like I said, I'm a lyrics person. Tupac's Dear Mama will sit right next to Bill Wither's Ain't No Sunshine, which sits next to Garth Brooks' When There's No One Around before falling right into Jackson Browne or Jim Croce. And Lord help me, how I love some Jerry Lee Lewis. Especially when he does gospel and since I'm a Pagan, that should say something about how much I love Jerry. The point is, I could sit here all day and name off those people who turned my head with their song writing ability, but I'll spare you. Suffice it to say the genius in Record Year's lyrics had my head turning around like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. Yeah, for me, it was that good.
I think we can all relate to finding a coping mechanism when our hearts get broken and that's what this song is all about. Falling back on music when you feel like you've lost everything and rediscovering those parts of yourself, which fell to the wayside before said heartbreak occurred. For me, music is where I've always gone for consolation. It's never failed me; even if it was nothing more than standing in the kitchen belting out Sam Cooke because shit just went awry and I needed to release some pent up frustration. Because music is my method of madness when I'm hurt or angry (that'll get you an earful of NWA at my house) and I have found myself in the position more than once where alcohol went hand in hand with listening to it, Record Year rang true for me. Probably more true than any other song I can think of.
As I continued to listen to those lyrics though, a story began to play out in my head. Unlike Diesel which just kind of organically wrote itself from some unknown place, this new project, "Songs in the Key of Life" was inspired completely by Eric Church's writing ability. I'm not positive I'll keep the title but for now, that's what I'm calling it. I'm pretty excited about it and I hope (fingers crossed) it keeps developing the way it's been so I can eventually share it with you readers. Until then, check out Record Year's Lyrics.