Tuesday, August 13, 2019

CLUTCH - A ONE LOVE SHORT STORY


GET YOUR COPY NOW!

The ONE LOVE Short Story series has become one of my favorites to write. Each story is different, pushing me outside the box of what others expect me to write. The focus for each story has been character development. Fleshing out the unique personalities on the pages of each book has challenged me and I love that it has allowed me to stretch my creative juices. To dig deep inside myself as the stories come to life. So it is with great pleasure that I announce the release of the third book in the series. CLUTCH!

Calvin "Clutch" Williams, worked me! I hated the first draft/story. So much so that I trashed that version, delayed the release date and sat in the unknown of it for months. It was not the story I was supposed to tell and then just like that Clutch took hold of me and shook me hard. The words flowed like melted butter after that. The book is a short, quick, sweet, and dirty read. Some readers will want more, but it's the simplicity of the story that makes it all it needs to be. I hope that every reader will take what they need from the story. I also imagine that Clutch and Ruth will linger with you long after the last words are read.

Please enjoy, and if you haven't read ARCH and BRAWN, the first two books in the series, please do. I promise you they'll be well worth your effort. 



Thursday, July 25, 2019

RISSI PALMER AND DATE NIGHT!


I went on a date! With the hubby! It’s been ages since we had a real date night. Health issues, timing issues, deadline issues, and princess issues have been all up in our way. But I was reminded that adults need to take adult time to appreciate each other, and adults in a relationship need to take time with each other to remember why. 

Big Daddy and I went to UNC-TV for an exclusive, intimate In Studio concert by country music sensation, Rissi Palmer. Think MTV’s Unplugged. The performance was being filmed as a local complement to the next Ken Burns documentary, Country Music

I can’t begin to tell you what a spectacular time we had. I’m a huge Rissi Palmer fan so for me this was a dream come true. It was hard to contain my excitement and not come across as a crazed stalker! But she was a sheer delight with an incredibly welcoming spirit. Y’all know though, that in my crazed fan mindset, she and I are now the best of friends!

Some of you may remember my POST about Rissi’s 2007 hit Country Girl. Country Girl was my theme song and I wrote the first two Stallion Series books to her self-titled debut album. Everything about her music spoke to my esthetic and brought me immense joy. She embodied the heroines that came to life in John and Mark Stallion’s stories. Her music was everything I needed to help me breathe life into that award-winning series.

https://www.rissipalmermusic.com/Rissi Palmer has a keen sense of humor and is a true storyteller. It was magical to hear the tales behind the songs she performed, and a time or two I had to wipe away a tear. What struck a particular cord for me tonight was the story behind her song Summerville, which was featured on her album The Back Porch Sessions. She spoke about her grandmother and singing on the back porch of the family home as a child. She shared memories of cooking cornbread with her great-grandmother, the freshly washed laundry that hung outside on a line, and many others that centered around the town where her family matriarchs were born and raised. It was those memories that helped her regain her balance when she needed it the most.

For many artists and writers, we often hit a crossroad where we’re not quite sure what will come next. When we have doubts and question our creative journey. I have recently been lost in that space, doubt and frustration holding me hostage. The writing has been stagnant, no ghostly characters haunting my spirit. After 50-plus books I wasn’t sure writing was what I wanted to do anymore. I had decided to quit, changed my mind, and changed my mind again. But tonight, Rissi’s creative energy rekindled my own. I was reminded of those things that ignited my original desire to be a writer. It brought me front and center with why I love to write.

As Rissi shared her own experiences I thought about my grandmother and her admonishments for me to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. In Rissi’s music I heard the hopes of our ancestors. The dreams of mothers who nurtured and raised us. The trials and tribulations of fathers who struggled to be seen so that we might have a place that was ours. I heard her voice and rediscovered my own.

Tonight, I’ll play every one of Rissi Palmer’s albums, each song in constant rotation. I’ll start with Country Girl, and I’ll write.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

THIRTEEN YEARS!


I started this blog thirteen years ago today. It feels like a lifetime has passed since my very first post. Since July 16, 2006 I've written about my divorce, a new relationship, graduations, grandchildren being born, illnesses survived, and milestones accomplished. Back then I had the body of a twenty-year-old and now I have a head full of gray hair. 

I don’t blog nearly as much as I did when I first started. And not because I don’t want to because I do. I sometimes still feel like my hands are tied, the things I used to write about, not things I can still share. Or things that anyone would be interested in reading. That’s just me being in my own head when I don’t need to be. But this space is still my go-to spot to rant about absolutely nothing, where everyone knows I won’t bite my tongue if I decide to spew about something important.

Writing has become a chore of sorts. In all honesty, there are days that I’m not sure I still want to do this. There are also days where I still can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I still have stories that haunt me, characters that show up when least expected demanding I tell their tales. I still chalk it up to my brand of crazy. I have yet to find any other explanation for it.

When I started this blog I didn’t have a clear vision of where it would go. I still don’t. I just knew it would be one hell of a ride for those that chose to hang in here with me. I’ve never stressed about the numbers. Worrying about who visited the space and how often would have made it hard work. I was determined that this wasn’t going to be challenging, just fun, and since I had no interest in doing anything different if the numbers said I should, why bother? 

I greatly appreciate everyone who has ever stopped by to read a post. Those who took a moment to comment have made my heart sing. Thank you for supporting me.

I’m committed to hanging in here for just a little longer. My life journey is taking me in a new direction, and I’ll need to find my way writing about it. My age will have much to do with what comes next. I’ve become my grandmother. I rarely give a flying fig about what others think. That should make for some interesting commentary.

As I go forward, I pray that I will be an inspiration to many, and on occasion, a voice for those who are struggling with their own. I also promise to write more, write better, and maybe say something profound every now and again.

So, tighten those seat belts. This ride isn't finished just yet. 

Sunday, July 07, 2019

REUNITED BY THE BADGE - COMING OCTOBER 1, 2019

REUNITED BY THE BADGE
Book 3 in the TO SERVE AND SEDUCE SERIES

Coming October 1, 2019

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!
REUNITED BY THE BADGE
AMAZON:

BARNES&NOBLE:

KOBO:




A megacorporation starts killing patients...

And two exes must reunite to save lives!

When he discovers his patients' lives are threatened, Dr. Paul Reilly can turn to only one person: Simone Black. She will have his back, even if they don't agree on much else. But as the former lovers work together to track down the evildoers who are tampering with medications, they rediscover unexpected feelings for one another...even as an enemy wants to silence them permanently. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

EXHAUSTING



I continue to struggle with my son’s mental health situation. I’m tired of being blamed for his failings. To hear him tell it I am the root cause of all his mental health issues. Me and the catastrophic relationship that was my marriage to his father. What he “endured” in our home is why he struggles now. 

I hear the blame, the castigation fueled with bitterness and I find myself unable to comprehend what the hell he is talking about. Clearly, my memories of his childhood and his memories are very different. With each hateful word I find myself questioning where I went wrong. What did I do to have failed him so miserably? We have yet to have that conversation where I’m given any specifics. I hear his words and feel like a deer caught in headlights, blinded with no understanding that makes any sense.

His wife routinely calls me out of my name, her disrespect so abundant that I could compile an entire ratchet novel with the text messages that are meant to be hurtful. Because of her “condition” I’m not supposed to respond. There should never be any consequences for her behavior. To hear my son, I should never take issue with her and I should always be forgiving. But I’ll be honest. I often find that difficult to even consider. Despite my best efforts, I’m really not that benevolent, nor do I think I should be. I’ve been accused of not doing more to squash her outbursts and curtail the insolence that come with regularity. Her issues would seem to be my fault as well, but I refuse to take ownership of any of that.

Many people blame their parents for their problems. Some are justified. Others simply do it because it’s easier than blaming themselves. I may very well be responsible in some rudimentary way, and I have no issues owning that if it’s true. I make an earnest effort to hear what my son is saying. I respect his feelings, but it’s a challenge for me to find validity in his perspective. I don’t think my son fully understands just how difficult this is for me. Nor do I think he cares.

I’m not alone in this experience and hearing others share their stories has been enlightening. It’s also been scary. I recently learned that a large study of more than 30,000 participants from 72 countries showed that blaming parents does not help people move away from the negative consequences of their difficult experiences. The study suggests that psychological processes such as blaming parents can be more dangerous for mental health than the past experiences themselves. I also have no doubt that there is a study somewhere that also says the exact opposite. Because each of us is so different in how we handle difficult situations, some more resilient than others, how do we really know?

What I do know is that despite my son’s chastisement, I’ve lived long enough to understand that to overcome the burden from our past and thrive, we need to stop blaming others and instead focus on our present and take control of our lives. I pray that continued therapy will help my son understand that as well. Right now though, with each step forward we take, we seem to also be taking three steps backward. It’s never-ending and despite my highest hopes, I often find it exhausting.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

WHAT WE ONCE CALLED NORMAL



It’s been a few years since I last read the book 72-Hour Hold by late author Bebe Moore Campbell. It’s a fictional story about a mother grappling with her daughter’s severe mental illness (bipolar disorder) and the tribulations of navigating a woefully inadequate mental health care system. The story, grounded in some hard truths, was based on the author’s personal experiences with her own child.

I remember the wealth of emotions that book took me through as we followed the heroine’s desperate efforts to help her baby girl. I can still vividly feel the pain she felt as she grieved the loss of their mother-daughter relationship. The fear, guilt and hopelessness were tangible. So were the barriers they faced. The stigma surrounding mental illness, the mistrust of the medical community, and that black community culture that said problems at home should remain there, only to be discussed around the family dinner table on the second Sunday of the month, were very real. It was a hard read and the story haunted me for reasons I can only now begin to explain.

My youngest son was seventeen-years young when the book was published. Even then I saw and thought I understood the periodic bouts of depression he sometimes battled. Sadness ran in the family. My beloved grandmother was renowned for her occasional mood swings. It wasn’t anything that couldn’t be handled I thought. I was effectively handling my own issues. I was hopeful this thing with him would eventually pass.

Fast forward ten-plus years and what I knew and understood doesn’t begin to define the trials we are experiencing today. I never imagined myself where I am; feeling completely hopeless, lost, and fearful. Seventy-two-hour holds aren’t what they use to be and when police become involved in the midst of a crisis, it can be tragic more times than not.

My son has an official diagnosis and the bouts of manic behavior, and waves of deep depression seem never-ending. His situation is compounded by his relationship with a woman whose own mental health issues are even more severe. Together, they are a fire keg waiting to implode. And there is absolutely nothing I can do to help either of them but listen and hopefully learn.

Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by intense mood swings and difficulty in relationships. A person who has BPD feels emotions with great intensity, and episodes of anger, anxiety, or depression can go on for several days. When people with BPD have experiences that trigger emotional extremes, it can be difficult for them to return to a place of emotional stability.

Like other serious mental illnesses, borderline personality disorder doesn’t have one single cause, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors. These factors include:

  • Biological Factors – There are strong indications that heredity is a factor in this illness, and those who have a close relative with BPD are as much as five times more likely to have it themselves. Additionally, research shows that temperament is biologically-based. The high sensitivity experienced by those with BPD is a biological factor.
  • Brain function – There may be a neurological basis for an inability to regulate intense emotions or to make logical, well thought out decisions. It isn’t clear whether changes in the brain leading to impulsive behavior lead to the disorder or are caused by it.
  • Environmental factors – Those who have lived in an unstable environment or who have experienced trauma are at increased risk of developing this condition.
A person with BPD may have no idea that they have a serious mental illness. They may simply be aware that their relationships never seem to be stable, that they have difficulty holding a job or keeping their emotions under control. They may tell their doctor only a small part of their symptoms, such as emphasizing depressive episodes or periods of anxiety.

To come up with a diagnosis, a doctor or mental health professional would perform a complete physical to rule out any medical reasons for instability or emotional outbursts.  The medical professional will conduct a thorough interview and may also interview family, friends and previous clinicians.

It can be difficult to diagnose borderline personality disorder, particularly since it often co-occurs with other conditions that may have overlapping symptoms. BPD often exists along with substance abuse, eating disorders or anxiety disorders.

Although BPD is a serious mental illness, effective treatment is possible. Psychotherapy is the most important aspect of treatment and may include dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy and any other type of therapy that teaches ways to cope with emotional dysregulation. Medication is sometimes used to control symptoms such as anxiety or mood swings.

When a person with BPD is experiencing extreme self-harming behavior, including suicidal tendencies, short-term inpatient treatment may be recommended. Many people who are diagnosed and treated for BPD eventually have their symptoms brought under control and can go on to lead stable and happy lives.

My son and his wife are far from stable and happy. Their promising futures have been waylaid, possibly wrested from them permanently. But their efforts as they work toward recovery are commendable. Medication, has to some degree, been life-changing. As a parent I mourn the loss of my relationship with my baby boy and I feel powerless, unable to make things better for him. As a parent, being unable to help my child when I see him in desperate need of help feels daunting at best.

I’ve been educating myself, wanting to understand everything I can about what I don’t know. And I don’t know a hell of a lot about mental health disorders in general or bi-polar disorder specifically. I’m discovering that what I don’t know has caused more harm than good and that my biases have been profoundly detrimental to my son’s healing.

Because my son and his wife have both been very forthcoming with perfect strangers about their mental health issues, I’ve decided to share my emotional journey as well. I hope to pass on information as best I can to others who might be in need. Moving the conversation out of my home, away from Sunday dinner, and into the light will hopefully assuage the overwhelming guilt and feelings of inadequacy I have. I know that clear, honest communication is crucial, and I can’t continue to allow the shame and embarrassment I may be feeling to hold me hostage. I want to take a stand against the stigma that surrounds so many who suffer with their mental health issues in silence. I pray it will eventually help families who sometimes have no clue. Because right now, I am clueless, and I fear that if I don’t do something, my family and I will forever be afloat in an abyss of hell and frustration. I've come to understand that what we once called normal may never exist again, and I am slowly learning to accept that fact. For me, right now, stable and happy would be everything.



Clearview Women’s Center. “Is Borderline Personality Disorder a Serious Mental Illness?” BPD Mental Illness,
www.clearviewwomenscenter.com/blog/bpd-mental-illness. Accessed 30 May 2019