Announcement, Getting To Know Aila, Goals, Marketing, Positive Mindset, Self-Publishing, Success Mindset

All About The Indies

Author Event

I’m going to keep this evening’s blog post short and sweet, but I really didn’t want to sit on this news any longer!

If you follow me on Instagram (and if not, why not?) then you may have noticed I already spilled the beans there.

2018 Author Announcements (7)

Ayup, that’s me…breaking out of my shell and heading to Virginia to do an author event!

The coordinator is the super ambitious authorpreneur behind the MinxLit Box, Sade Rene, and I am delighted to meet her and see her in action.

If you are in or around the Arlington, VA area, I would be oh-so-very excited to meet you! Here’s the flyer, so go ahead and save the date. Put it in your phone. Mark it in your Erin Condren planner. Make a note for the fridge. Tell a friend. Tell two friends. Hell, tell all your friends. ūüôā

AAI Full Flyer

Hot and Steamy Excerpt_ ALIGHT (1)

August 18th. Shall we call it a date? ūüėČ Check back often for updates in regards to this inaugural author-outing, as well as my social media. If I’m going to do this, I might as well go all out. Stay tuned. I’ll be making some announcements.

Getting To Know Aila, Positive Mindset, Success Mindset, Writer's Life

Hear No Evil: Writer Edition

Copy of Writer's Group

Happy Monday, writers! I hope you’re in for a truly amazing week filled with lots of productivity and words that thrill you and chill you.

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock‚ÄĒor perhaps you’re not on Writer Twitter‚ÄĒyou’re aware of a bit of an indie-publishing scandal nicknamed #CockyGate or #ByeFaleena. Yeah, it’s a doozy.

I am actually not here to discuss Faleena or her trademark. All of my sentiments have been shared either here or by other people. What I want to discuss today is the negativity that has been brought about because of the whole cocky hoopla, and the negativity I’ve seen in general. In fact, I want to discuss it so much, it’s become an impromptu three-part series.

The Root Cause

When you find yourself tempted to lash out at others, I urge you to take a second and figure out why. Usually, at least in my experience, the why has much more to do with me than it does the person to which I intend to give a lashing.

Let’s look at the whole Faleena thing as an example. If you watched the odd, desperate video she released and then took down, you might have paid attention to when she addressed someone rather specific. Now, they didn’t have a name, but she did say that this person was someone she had been in a writing group with, someone whom she had shared their works with her own newsletter subscribers, and that the whole reason she went for the trademark was¬†this one person.¬†She said, and I quote: “You know who you are.” The rest has gone down in some astounding Twitter history, but the gist is, there was a root cause for her actions. Her actions were not okay, mind you, but instead of evaluating why she was hurt by this person and working to resolve this one issue with that one person, she wound up alienating a large sector of the romance writing community…and perhaps ruining her own reputation in the process.

I think if she were honest, Faleena might even say she’s gotten herself in a shit storm she wasn’t prepared for because she basically lashed out with this trademark thing. Of course now she’s in no position to really admit that, but there’s a lot of evidence that points to her flailing about as all of this settles.

What can we learn from her mistakes?

Don’t lash out.¬†See, if you haven’t noticed, the internet isn’t exactly a forgiving place. As a writer, everything you post online¬†is your brand.¬†Your reputation. Your work.

You will be wronged.

You will be hurt.

You will be slighted.

You will want to shout from the social media rooftops that the wrongdoer is an asshole. But, this rarely works out for anyone. Are there times for it? Perhaps. Maybe if someone is being abusive. Like, really abusive.

The best thing to do is just block, mute, and move on. Be better than the asshole.

[All of this is a moot point if your entire shtick is to be an asshole, like those waiters at Last Resort restaurants. In which case, keep on keeping on if that works for you.]

Sort Rudeness from Constructive Criticism

I can’t wait for winter.

So, you know that we writers aren’t supposed to read our reviews. At some point, you won’t. But, let’s be real here. We read our reviews. We wait on them like a kid at Christmas who was really, really good and expects that toy they’ve been asking for all year. Only, lots of time we find out that our dad didn’t get his Christmas bonus check and instead was enrolled in a Jelly of the Month club…but reviews aren’t guaranteed because of a sale.

(I should know.)

We see our sales. We see no reviews. We covet reviews. When we see one come in, you bet your ass we read them.

But…maybe you lashed out at someone because you hadn’t read this post yet, and suddenly you have a 1-star review that just says your work is shit and no one should buy the book. It sucks, but there isn’t a lot you can do about it.

There is one thing you should never, ever do: never respond to negative reviews.

Especially never respond to a negative review with your own bullet point list as to why they are wrong and your book deserves 5-stars and that you’re going to blast them on Twitter and petition Amazon to take the review down and…just stop.

Now, if you get a string of bad reviews and they all pretty much had the same issue…then maybe that is constructive criticism.

Listen to constructive criticism, do not listen to rudeness.

The writing community is filled with wonderful people. Amazing people. Talented people. Jealous people.

That’s right. I said it.

You will find people who want to say something negative about your work simply because they haven’t published a book yet and you have. Or maybe they have published and you haven’t, but you have more social media followers, or more blog subscribers…there’s a million reasons for anyone to be jealous of anyone.

The best thing to do is keep on keeping on. I’m telling you, that mute button is a wonderful thing.

And finally…

Don’t Listen to Your Negative Nancy

Guys, I’m not talking about depression. Depression and mental illness aren’t something you can control on your own, and those voices are impossible to ignore without help‚ÄĒand sometimes not even then.

I’m talking about that little voice that creeps up now and again telling you that you aren’t good enough or that you don’t deserve the life you want. That voice is stupid. That voice is also stupidly loud sometimes.

Writing is lonely and hard and defeating at times. It’s easy to look at someone else’s work and say¬†I’ll never do that.¬†If I can’t do that, then what’s the point? I’ll just quit.¬†

For instance: I’d love to have a vlog. If I had an ounce of true self-confidence, I’d dump the blogging platform for vlogging in a heartbeat. I see other indie authors with these insanely popular YouTube channels, and I know that a chunk of their writerly income stems from their channel and you bet your ass I wish I had a piece of that pie.

But, if you’ve even read a few of my posts, you know I am terribly introverted and the thought of putting my visage on camera and speaking…well, I’m already shaking. That’s just not in my deck of cards. I’ve wondered more than once if an Indie in today’s landscape can be viable at all without a YouTube channel, which is silly. If all of us had a YouTube channel, subscriber numbers per channel would probably plummet.

When I first got into this arena, everyone said GET A FACEBOOK,¬†GET A FACEBOOK,¬†GET A FACEBOOK.¬†And, so I did…but I never utilize it. I hate it. So I technically fail all the time because I have this thing I don’t use. Why bother with a social media platform if I don’t take advantage of the most popular platform out there? Why not just give up?

If I only had a nickle for every time a similar thought has crossed my mind.

My point is I’ve come up with at least a thousand excuses as to why I should just stop writing. I’ve listened to them once, but I came back and I have no intention of going anywhere again. We all have our bad days, but tell your Negative Nancy to shut up and let you finish that chapter.

Remember: When you’re online, you are responsible for the types of things you read and hear because you have the power to distance yourself from it. You can’t control what someone else says, but you can control your reactions and whether you choose to be around their curmudgeoness. Don’t give a single inch of room for someone else’s negativity (or your own!) to seep in and poison your creative well.

All that said, I hope you have a fabulous week.¬†Be kind to one another. There’s plenty of evil and meanness without contributing to it!

Oh, wait!

Borrowed from Jewel’s Twitter…It’s so pretty!!!

So, my amazing, dear, sweet, lovely, talented friend Jewel E. Leonard is once again¬†hosting a slew of lovely people on her blog as she counts down the days to Possession’s release, and today was my day to guest post! Check it out!

Also, check out Jewel’s Twitter account and wish her well on Possession’s release‚ÄĒand get your copy! I had the pleasure of reading it already and it is AMAZING! ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

Please be sure to show her some love for this amazing book’s birthday!


Okay, really now, goodnight!



Getting To Know Aila, Positive Mindset, Self-Care, Success Mindset, Writer's Life

Migraine vs. The Writer

Writer's Group (1)
Happy Monday, friends. I’d like to start by saying a huge congratulations to the winner of the ProWritingAid giveaway. I announced it on Twitter yesterday, but in case you missed it…

congratulations (2)

If you’re still interested in trying out ProWritingAid (and I highly suggest you do) you can get your free trial started…now! Well, as soon as you click the linky-loo below. (Yes, it’s an afflink, but it doesn’t affect the price of the product whatsoever.)

Writing Improvement Software

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Freaking migraines.

I’m writing this on Sunday evening, and it may or may not be a good thing for me to do at the moment. See, I’ve had a migraine today. I¬†think¬†it’s over. For the moment it’s been downgraded from migraine to¬†annoyingly bad¬†headache. But, I’ve dealt with these things for so long, I can also feel my body still giving me warning signs that I’m not entirely out of the woods just yet. My body isn’t happy I’m looking at a computer screen. But, at the same time it also wants me to do something to distract myself from the pain it’s in and the pain it has been in all day.

See, migraines are funny that way. They’re different for everyone, but for me there comes a point where I can do too much or too little and navigating that fine line is difficult, so, here I am.

My Migraine History

I’ve suffered them since I was a child. I’m not talking headaches, okay? Headaches and migraines are different things. For people like me, watering down the definition of migraine to meet the definition of a headache is dangerous. If I tell my employer I cannot come in to work because I have a migraine, sometimes that is met with: “Well, can’t you just take a Tylenol and come in in say…an hour?”

Nope. So, pardon me if I am one of those migraine sufferers who will prod a bit if someone says they have a migraine and yet they are playing video games.

Oh yeah, my history.

They’re hereditary for me, passed down from my father who got them from his mother, and I suppose she got them from one of her family members. I don’t know that my mother has actually ever had a true migraine. I don’t know if my brother has. I get them on average around 3-4 per month. Sometimes it’s worse.

When I was little I had them much more frequently, because not only do I have them due

balance (1)
Sympathy cards sent to:       Aila Stephens | P.O. Box 25223
Greenville, SC 29616

to my fantastic gene pool, I also get them as a reaction to eating Sodium Nitrate or Sodium Nitrite…a fact that went unknown until I was in the second grade. My reaction to nitrates and nitrites is frightening. I was hospitalized when I was in kindergarten, scarily dehydrated. It was around this same time frame that, while suffering through a nasty migraine, I pleaded with my father to please get his rifle and put me out of my misery. True story. Sad story, but true.

Once the sodium nitrate/nitrate aversion was discovered, my migraines became less frequent, but they didn’t disappear. Once, my mother was cooking something overnight in the crockpot which contained a ham hock and the simple action of breathing that in put me in terrible pain. I was put on some heavy medication as a youngster because they were so unbearable.

Aside from my nuclear family unit, though, convincing other adults that a child as young as I was at the time¬†actually¬†suffered migraines was a bit difficult. That’s an adult problem, was the general consensus. So, I found myself on occasion being forced to suffer through them while at school because my teacher didn’t believe me, or thought I just wanted to get out of assignments.

My Migraines Now

oLuckily I’ve gained some valuable insights as to what triggers migraine for me now. I still can’t eat things with Sodium Nitrate or Nitrites. I also can’t eat onions anymore. (Which, is probably what happened to me today. We had breakfast at a diner yesterday, and I’m guessing they probably cooked my eggs where they cooked someone else’s bacon, and there were some onions in my hash browns. Good job, Aila.)

Sunglasses are a must for me. The bigger, the darker, the better. I’ve even been known to wear sunglasses in the wee hours of the morning or the darkest parts of night in order to cut down on the brightness of passing headlights. Even wearing sunglasses, if the sun catches on the car in front of me in just the right way, the migraine is near instantaneous.

Some people go to bed when they have a headache, because a nap makes it go away…not me. If I have a run-of-the-mill headache, I cannot go to sleep to make it better. If I do, nine times out of ten, I wake up with a full-fledged migraine.

I also upgraded, for lack of a better word, to¬†aura¬†migraines. Most of the times I hear something that isn’t there, a sort low beeping noise. Sometimes I see flashes of light, sometimes bright, sometimes like a dim strobe.


It helps I have a supportive husband who never complains about caring for me when I have a migraine. I cannot handle much light, so we have blackout curtains hanging in the living room and our bedroom.


Balance is everything for me. I usually want a light blanket, but also a cold pack on my¬†head. I don’t want sudden loud sounds, like dogs barking, so I cope with having the TV on rather quietly, to keep them from hearing and reacting to every little thing outside. I don’t want strong smells, but I will occasionally utilize some essential oils. I take my medicine, which sometimes includes chewing up some baby aspirin (eight of those things with some tepid water can take the edge off if I catch the migraine early on.)

Even caffeine becomes a tightrope act. Too much makes the migraine worse, too little makes the migraine worse‚ÄĒor can actually cause migraines in some instances.


Migraines knock me on my ass.

Someone could offer to fully-fund my dream Disney World vacation and arrange for David Tennant himself to be my tour guide…and if a migraine struck, I’d have to pass on the adventure to someone else.

Today, for instance, Mother’s Day…I had to call my mother (after the migraine had started to ease) and tell her I wouldn’t make it. She understood, of course, because that’s what moms do, but I felt even worse for disappointing her.

As a writer, migraines can be stupidly disruptive. I’ve forgotten ideas. I have to take time away from the computer because a screen so close to my face is a bad idea. I also get really negative thoughts while the pain is at its highest points, and even sometimes on the way down‚ÄĒthoughts that I’ll never be¬†good enough¬†at this, that I’m too awkward for social media, that I should just give up and do something else, nobody likes me, I’m a burden to my husband, etc.

I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy. I’m talking about this so that other sufferers know that they’re not alone in all of this. The perceived severity of migraines has been diluted because it’s become what people say when they have a headache. If you’ve ever said that and now you’re wondering if you’ve actually ever had a migraine…chances are you didn’t. You’ll know it when you have one.

Being A Writer When It’s Impossible

So, how do I¬†take care of business¬†while I’m caring for myself in the throes of a migraine? To put it simply: I don’t.

There’s nothing I can do during a migraine except for try to get better. They can last for hours or they can last for days. There’s nothing to be done except wait and employ all my personal tricks.

When the migraine wanes, though, and downgrades, there’s this period of time between headache and healed when I might not be able to¬†write¬†but I can do¬†something¬†to be productive, even if only a little bit.

Today, for instance, once the migraine faded and my head stopped swimming and my stomach settled, I dimmed the screen on my laptop and tinkered around with a bookmark design for Alabama Rain. I worked slowly and took several breaks for my eyes. I stopped when my body told me to.

When I gave up on trying to come up with the wording for the bookmark’s backside, I took a breather, drank some water, refreshed my cold cloth, and then decided to reorder business cards.

I jotted down some notes on an idea I had for my next book. And while it might not have looked productive to an outsider, I shut my laptop and shut my eyes and I just thought about my current work and the trajectory it is on. I contemplated changes and also I tried to think of the story as if I weren’t writing it and instead reading it. Thinking is very important to a writer.

So, why didn’t I buckle down and write in Alabama Rain rather than this post? Either way I’d be coming up with new content…well, I figured if the pain level increased, I’d feel less guilty if I abandoned a blog post. Also, by getting it out of the way, I’m freeing up my entire afternoon tomorrow (today for you, or yesterday or last week, depending on when you are reading this.) to write in Alabama Rain.

The Unspoken Side-Effect

It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a mother, a father, a chef, a police chief, a coal miner, a teacher, a librarian, a dog-walker, or The Queen…suffering from a migraine causes all sorts of problems, there’s¬†pain¬†agony¬†and nausea, sometimes visual and/or auditory hallucinations, sensitivity to light, sound, ambient temperature, etc. etc. etc. but there’s also one that isn’t talked about much.


We’re supposed to be doing something else. Anything else. We rarely plan to spend 5+ hours sitting in the dark, trying to block out smells and thoughts that are too loud. We aren’t enjoying ourselves, and no one else is enjoying us either. So, here’s my big secret. Here is how I truly take care of business when I just can’t:

I take care of myself, first. And you should, too. Not take care of me, take care of you.

So, that’s all I have. Literally, that’s all the energy I have to give today. Thanks for tuning in and I hope you have a wonderful, productive week.

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Getting To Know Aila, Goals, Positive Mindset, Self-Publishing, Success Mindset, Writer's Life

Playing With Others

Writer's Group

I have gone against my own grain a lot lately, it seems. I’ve started bowling. I took time off from work. I started telling real-life people (oh, you know what I mean) about my books. I’ve even joined another writing group.

I’m not even sure I used to talk about the writing group I was a part of a while back, but I’ll give a brief overview from what I remember.

OMG!Real People!

I found this group on and I spent a few weeks going back and forth on whether I should actually join the group. At the time I hadn’t yet published SL&T and I was afraid of being the only person there who wouldn’t be published. I was afraid I would be the only one to view Indie Publishing as valid.¬† I was afraid of sounding stupid. I was afraid of not being as well-read as everyone else.

I was afraid of a lot.

I convinced my husband to hang around in case I needed to run. (No, I’m not joking. The social anxiety is real.) They met at a bar/restaurant that is no longer in business. It was a bit too loud for me. There was too much going on, and I was so far out of my element I couldn’t even see my element anymore.

They went around the room, of course, and asked for introductions and I choked out something about how I was on revision seven-million and forty-two, which got a lot of laughs. I eased. A little.

And I went back for the second meeting. It was at that meeting they asked for people to consider paying dues in order to keep the thing going and to help pay for the materials they brought each week. (Each presenter would bring worksheets they created, educational materials, etc. etc.)

I paid.


I can’t remember how many meetings occurred between the time I paid my membership dues and the time I decided I was sorta, kinda…done…but it wasn’t many. I never really spoke much. I think I read one or two of my writing prompts we did. Mostly, though, I sat in the back, sipped my tea, and soaked in the knowledge from the presenters‚ÄĒwho, I should add, consisted of four different people, two I barely remember, one who was a traditionally published author, and the other a marketing professional who was finishing up her manuscript and getting ready to seek traditional publication. She got it, by the way…suffice it to say, I was ecstatic about the knowledge in the room.

But…c’mon, you knew there was a but coming…then there was the meeting that killed my warm, fuzzy feelings.

They announced a traditional vs. self-publishing pros/cons type meeting. I was skeptical, but excited.


I don’t want to say the traditionally-published author was rude to the self-published¬†author they had invited. I really, really don’t want to. It certainly felt that way to me, regardless if that had been his intention. I don’t suspect he thought she’d be so incredibly articulate, nor that she would make such valid arguments for going the indie route.

The whole thing made me feel very awkward. I cannot imagine how it made the invited indie feel. She did great, though. And while I had already decided that was the route I wanted to go, I had looked forward to gaining knowledge and insight from the pitching process and all the trad-published guy had to say. (Which was basically: I’ll take getting an advance for my book and plopping myself on a beach any day. That was about all I learned about the trad-world that night.)

That was my last meeting with that group. I kept my affiliation with the FaBo group, for reasons, but I never attended another meeting. And there weren’t more anyway, as the group quickly fizzled out (mind you, they’d been going strong for¬†years¬†before that) and that was pretty much that.

pigI’m giving it another go, though! It’s time to once again play with others. New group, [mostly] new faces, new ideas, new leader. No dues, as of yet anyway, but I’d consider paying again if this incarnation is more accepting of indie publishing. And maybe even if they’re not.

Our first meeting was¬†so much freaking fun!¬†I was a nervous wreck again, but not as much as before. I’ve published two novels now, so I’m at least not a total newbie to the indie-publishing process. I knew I’d have something to contribute to the group in that aspect, a far cry from how I felt the first go-round. I legitimately have hope this will be good for me. We’re going to meet twice per month, every other Monday. The first Monday of the month will be more of a free-for-all type meeting, with discussions, and guided topics, workshops, etc. The second Monday will consist of critique groups.

You know, not far from your typical writing group.

So, what am I afraid of this time? I’m leaps and bounds more knowledgeable than I was the last time, though I will always have a lot to learn. I’ve got more confidence in my writing than I had. I’m certain that while I may not be the most talented in the group, I won’t be laughed out of it either…so, what’s rattling my cage this time?

Not a damn thing.

Briefly I was afraid I’d cut loose if they started trashing the indie publishing world, justhero as I did last time. But, this time? I think I’ve gained enough confidence in myself, and the indie world as a whole, that I will be able to smile through it and do my best to prove them wrong. Sometimes that’ll be a tall order, because as we all know, there’s a lot of…we’ll call it¬†examples to the contrary¬†out there. But, if we all run away, how will we ever prove our point? So, of course I’m lying. Of course I’m afraid of all of that. But, I’m not lying when I say I’ll stick it out. I will attempt to be a champion-voice for indie publishing.

I’m going to submit the first two chapters of Alabama Rain to the critique group. I’ll see how it goes. Tell me, have you been a member of a writing group outside the interwebs? What have your experiences been like? Any ideas you’d like to share from your writing groups that I might pass along to this one? We’ve only had one meeting and we’re still brainstorming ideas for what we want to do. I’d¬†love, love, love¬†to hear from you!

Don’t forget!

Time is running out to enter for a chance to win a full-year subscription to ProWritingAid! This is a $50 value, but the benefits of subscription are priceless! Click the image below to enter!


All right, my wonderfully talented, amazing, sweet-as-pie friends (and you snarky, little-bit-of-devil-in-you friends, too), that’s it for this week. Enjoy your weekend, enjoy your words, and take the time to enjoy someone else’s, too. ‚̧

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Alabama Rain, Getting To Know Aila, Positive Mindset, Self-Care, Self-Publishing, Writer's Life

I’m Alive!

I'm Alive

General Life Update

Since I didn’t post anything last week, I’ll start with a general update. Why didn’t I post anything? I felt…horrible. Physically, I was just exhausted. It felt like day 4,591 of allergy season. I was adjusting to new allergy medication. I couldn’t think, much less write, anything. So, I apologize. It was the first scheduled post I’d missed since December, and missing it made me feel even worse. I haven’t even been on social media much.

I woke one morning and I felt¬†fabulous.¬†I can’t explain it. I’m no spring chicken, so I don’t normally feel¬†fabulous¬†upon waking. Most days I feel okay. Better after a stretch. Better still after a cup of coffee or two, and as the day progresses I might even feel good…but this one morning I woke up, I felt sixteen again. It was weird, and it hasn’t happened since. Nothing remarkable even came of that day, but it was such an anomaly, I feel the need to share it.

So, what was I up to during my convalescence? Watching Doctor Who and eating all the spicy things. I re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-restarted with No. 9, and I’ve just about finished up Amy and Rory’s first series, so for you Whovians that are calculating…that’s a lotta Who in a short time! But don’t worry, I brought a bunch of bananas to the party. ūüėČ

Carrying on…

Both of my nephews and my niece are hitting some major milestones all at the same time, which contributes to my feeling ancient:

My oldest nephew just turned 21.
My youngest nephew just registered for kindergarten.
My niece is going off to college in two weeks.

THIS MAKES AUNTIE AILA FEEL SO OLD. Old, proud, and excited to see their futures unfold.

In other life news, my father’s physical health remains about the same (which isn’t good, but will never get better, so the same is better than the alternative) but his mental health seems to be in a steep decline. So, I know I don’t talk about him often because his privacy is so important to him, but if you are a prayerful person, a love-and-light person, a chanting person, a good vibes person…anything, please send him/me/us a little something.

Wonderful World of Writing

When, not if, when I finish Alabama Rain, it will be a joyous occasion. I am thoroughly enjoying writing the book, but it’s not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. I am behind in this book. I’m not too worried at the moment, because I’m about to take a nice vacation from work which will give me time to catch up. (When I’m not at work, I can easily bang out 6k words per day, if not more) Since my allergy medications are doing their thing now, I’m back away plucking out as many words as I can during the work week. I know this will be out-of-context, but I really enjoyed writing these last few scenes and thought I’d share a little¬†something, something. Remember, it’s raw:




Corrie is such an interesting character to write. In the sections of the book where she’s a teenager/young adult, she’s a little naive and totally smitten at first, but life in the 1930s was tough, and it’s heartbreaking to write the things that harden her. The research I’ve done into the psychological problems people went through during The Great Depression has been hard to digest sometimes. A lot of the time. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I have to mentally check out of it for a few hours and watch or read something light and fluffy after researching something for this book. Don’t fret, I am writing in some moments of levity because I¬†must.

In other writing news, my local writing group disbanded about a year and a half ago when the group leaders either got married, moved out of state, or started new jobs‚ÄĒsomeone is picking it back up, though! It appears they want to meet on Mondays, which may cause me to rework my schedule some over the next few weeks, but if these first couple of meetings prove beneficial, I’ll make it work. Cross your fingers! [I just came back from the first meeting, and it was amazing! More on that Thursday!]

That Thing Happening on Twitter aka #ByeFaleena

So, of course I grew up being taught that if you have nothing nice to say you should say nothing at all. I try, at least publicly, to live that way.

But not today.

If you haven’t checked out #ByeFaleena, let me just sum up what’s happened here the best way I can without interjecting my thoughts just yet. A romance author by the name of Faleena Hopkins applied for and was granted a trademark for the word¬†cocky.¬†This pertains to a series of books she has written called The Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, where each book’s title starts with the word Cocky. Therefore she now (as of April) has two series titles for this series. 1.) The Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, and 2.) The Cocky Series.

She began sending her own cease and desist letters to authors with the word Cocky in their titles, going so far as to say if they did not change the titles of their books that she would sue them (and would win) all of the monies they had made on those titles.

Look, I understand wanting to protect your work. And if Ms. Hopkins had created the word Cocky, or even just wanted to prevent people from having their own¬†series of books¬†called The Cocky Series, I might’ve been alright with that. But, this sort of thing happens when you use certain words, especially within certain genres.

Common words in Romance titles: Love, Lust, Billionaire, Sexy, Kiss, Cocky

Common words in Sci-Fi titles: Odyssey, Space, Mission, Battle, Star(s)

Common words in Mystery titles: Murder, Killer, Blood, Detective

Common words in Fantasy titles: Land, Magic, Dragon, Wand, Crown, Sword

What I am getting at is the precedent that’s been set here. Ms. Hopkins’s trademark hasn’t affected me, nor anyone that I know personally. But, the ramifications might. What would happen if someone decided to one day write a series of books with Secrets in the title and my lovely friend Vania receives a cease and desist letter for her Summer Secrets books? Or someone else decides to write a series about witches and tries to strong-arm my friend Jewel out of her own series about witches? Or if someone decides to trademark the word Rain and decides I can no longer have my title? It’s the precedent that’s being set which gets to me.

Ms. Hopkins alleges that authors which she insists re-title their books will not be impacted further than a day’s worth of effort into changing their covers, but that isn’t so. It’s a huge financial undertaking for some authors. Perhaps not all, but definitely for some. For me it would mean reassigning an ISBN because those are not transferable. One title can have multiple ISBNs! eBook, paperback, hardback, audio–those little strings of numbers are¬†not¬†cheap! Then, there’s having to edit the interior of books where you’ve listed your now-unusable title in the back. For those of us who use IngramSpark, that’s $25 to edit each interior where the offending title exists. There’s marketing materials that need to be trashed, and the loss of our own brand recognition for the sake of someone else who also decided to use a common word.

And to a degree, Ms. Hopkins understands this. In an apology she included in the back of her book¬†Cocky Soldier¬†she stated she had no clue that Marines never refer to themselves as anything other than Marines but it was too late to change the title because when she learned of this,¬†Cocky Soldier¬†was already up for pre-sale and she had already printed bookmarks. There’s a lot of speculation about Ms. Hopkin’s net-worth, and frankly, I don’t particularly care, but if it would’ve been too much of an inconvenience or expense for her, then how can she, with a straight face, claim it won’t be so for another indie author? We aren’t well-known for our abundance of wealth.

I have other suspicions about Ms. Hopkins, but I only want to acknowledge things on this blog that are rooted in fact, so I will keep them to myself. All of that said, however, let me say something to her opposition:

Don’t give her undue 1-star reviews.

Don’t stop voicing your opinions on this frankly baffling display of cockiness, either. Don’t stop signing petitions. Don’t stop spreading the word that what she is doing is at the very least¬†morally¬†wrong‚ÄĒbut don’t leave her undue 1-star reviews. Be better than that. Believe me, I want you to win this fight. I want her to lose the trademark on this very common word, but I don’t want you to give up your own reputation in the process. Is she a 5-star writer? Not from what I’ve read in the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon. But, I haven’t, and won’t, buy her books, therefore I will not review them 1-star or otherwise.

Just as I do not like the precedent she’s set by trademarking a word that shouldn’t be trademarked, I do not like the precedent set of 1-starring authors we do not agree with.

Call for boycotts. If you’ve legitimately read and reviewed her work before and now in this light you’ve decided you don’t want to support her because she doesn’t support others, fine. Erase your review, but don’t change it to a 1-star¬†just because.¬†

I am keen on watching this story unfold in the next few days. I’ve never seen someone seem so content on throwing gas on their own dumpster fire, what with talking about sitting back with popcorn and watching the hate spew, down to issuing not an apology, but a statement of forgiveness to those who are¬†wronging her.¬†This will definitely get more interesting as the RWA steps in with an IP lawyer, and with all the parody books being published astonishingly quickly on Amazon.

I still find her trademark of choice ironic as hell.

But let’s set this negativity aside!

There are only a few days left to enter my giveaway!


That is all I have for you today, my friends! May your muse be kind this week! ‚̧

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The Yellow Plague

Yellow Plague

It’s springtime in The South. If you aren’t from here, you might not know what that means. In some parts of the country, it’s still quite cold. Snowing, even. In other parts, it’s already¬†hot as blazes,¬†as my grandmother would’ve said.

So, what is springtime like in The South? And by¬†The South¬†I am referring to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee…the states to which I can speak of with experience.

The mornings are sometimes freezing, followed by uncomfortably warm afternoons.

Sometimes the mornings are uncomfortably warm, followed by chilly afternoons.

Sometimes the mornings are chilly, followed by equally chilly afternoons.

Sometimes the mornings are uncomfortably warm, followed by even warmer afternoons.

The one thing that is consistent is the inconsistency of it all…except for one thing:


There are a lot of nice things about pollen.

Yellow Plague (1)

Its absence would be devastating.

But for allergy sufferers like myself, its presence is devastating.

Yellow Plague (2)

In fact, this blog post is the first thing I’ve written in three days because of the cloudiness in my head, the burning in my eyes, my nose. @&$^#+! pollen!¬†

Couple the thick blanket of the devil’s yellow dust with the unpredictability of the weather, and you’ve got yourself a fine equation for feeling like absolute shit.

Allergy attacks can quickly mutate into ear and sinus infections. It turns people like me, people who love nature and being outdoors into damn near cave-dwellers inside our homes, venturing out only long enough to go to work or to the grocery store.

Or the freaking pharmacy. Again.

As a longtime allergy sufferer, I’ve learned a few tricks beyond taking allergy medications, and thought I’d share them:

1.| Change Your Clothes.¬†When you come in from the yellow-dusted outdoors, it’s imperative that you change your clothes. As soon as I come in from work, I get those clothes off and into the wash. That pollen gets tracked in on our clothing and invades our poor, unsuspecting homes.

2.| Use Pet Wipes.¬†There are these between-doggy-bath wipes you can get‚ÄĒuse them! Just like our clothes can trap pollen and bring it inside, our pets get coated in it every time they go out. It might surprise you how much yellow stuff is clinging to your pup’s coat. (Please only use products designed and tested for domesticated animals.)

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3.| Use a Saline Spray.¬†Every day, actually. A few years ago I had near back-to-back sinus¬†infections during allergy season and the third doctor I visited told me I would need to use a saline spray every day, especially during allergy seasons. They work best if you use them before you show any symptoms. They help afterward, loosening up the gross junk…but you don’t want it to get to that point.

My favorite is Arm & Hammer Simply Saline.

4.| Spicy Foods. If my throat is sore, I skip this. But, spicy foods can really help open you up, even if only for a few minutes at a time. One of the things that works best for me is mixing Sriracha sauce into ketchup.

But beyond spicy, spicy foods, think spice. I know, sounds like my allergy fog is still in full swing, but hear me out. There are a lot of different spices out there that can help your congestion. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne. Personally, I like to add some turmeric to my chicken noodle soup. I eat pickled ginger on its own.

5.| Avoid Dairy.¬†I’ve been told this isn’t an issue for everyone else, but for me and several people I know, having any dairy products makes congestion so much worse. There is one time I break this rule, though. If my allergies transform into a full-blown sinus infection and I require antibiotics, I will try to have some yogurt. Antibiotics are great at ridding bacteria, which can sometimes kill off our good bacteria. It can cause thrush in your mouth, gastrointestinal problems, etc. So yogurt might prevent all those nasty issues.

6.| Essential Oils.¬†Some people think me a snake oil salesmen when I start talking about essential oils, so if you don’t think they’ll work for you, don’t try it. Simple as that. They work well for me, though. My go-to concoction for allergy/congestion is lemon and eucalyptus. Sometimes I just sniff the vial, other times I add a few drops into grape seed oil and rub along my throat and across my sinuses.

This is essentially the same thing as using a mentholated rub. (There’s a lot to be said for using that on your feet!)

If you’re interested in essential oils, I get mine from Piping Rock.

7.| Hot Beverages.¬†Yeah, yeah. This isn’t a secret. But…it is. I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times about drinking hot tea with honey and lemon…but have you heard about drinking hot jell-o? It’s true, this is not a vegan-friendly option, but if you aren’t vegan, this trick passed down to me from my mother may work nicely for you. The theory she has is the flavor is pleasing, the sugar helps to give a little burst of energy, and the gelatin helps soothe the throat…the same benefit marshmallows provide to a sore throat.

When I started writing this post, I was sipping on some warm strawberry jell-o. I mix a few tablespoons into a standard coffee mug with hot water. There’s no exact ratio, though, play around with what tastes and works best for you.

And about hot tea: It’s soothing while you’re drinking it, for sure…but be careful of overdoing the tannin. It can dry out your throat.

8.| Local, Raw, Unfiltered Honey.¬†You might’ve heard of this one, and if you have that’s great. I’m not going to apologize for repeating it. The thought process behind the honey being local is that the pollen collected to make the honey will consist of the plants you are allergic to. Using the honey may help you build up a tolerance for it, therefore reducing your allergic reaction to it. Use it in your hot tea, on your toast, or mix it with…

9.| Honey, ACV, and Cayenne.¬†Use your local, raw, unfiltered honey and mix it with an equal part of unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar and 1/4 part cayenne pepper. I take a tablespoon of this whenever I’m sickly. This is especially handy if you’ve got a cough and you’ve taken all the cough syrup you can and it seems like an eternity until it’s time for your next dosage.

It’s a strong flavor, be forewarned.

My doctor.

10.| Don’t Ignore Your Body.¬†
Allergy attacks can make you feel crummy. But don’t forget, they can develop into full-blown sinus or ear infections, so if you don’t start to feel some marked relief after a few days of taking anti-histamines and one or more of the above suggestions, then you might want to see your doctor.

The last couple of days I’ve had a marathon with my doctor. ūüėČ

I hope you are well and enjoying your springtime. If not, I hope some of my suggestions help you feel better.

Please excuse my absence from social media as of late…the pollen got to me.

You know what isn’t affected by the yellow dust of face-death? My giveaway. There’s still plenty of time to enter! Click below!


See you next week, friends. xoxo


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Aila’s Day Out : Smoky Mountains

QG - Smokies.pngThe mountains are calling, and I must go.
-John Muir

I have this terrible knack for saying I’m going to do something for myself and¬†not¬†doing it. I wind up feeling guilty for a multitude of reasons and can come up with more excuses than George RR Martin can come up with characters to kill.

Tuesday I felt those familiar pangs rising up, threatening to thwart my plans for yesterday. Chief among those guilty feelings was the fact I was going alone. I’m not opposed to being alone. I’m one of those people who sometimes feels lonelier in the company of people than I do when I am, in fact, by myself.

I devoted some time to exploring these feelings, though‚ÄĒsomething I rarely do, but should do more often. I realized I felt crummy about it because I’d penciled in some locales that my husband and I hadn’t experienced together. I guess it’d equate to if one of us watched an episode of one of¬†our¬†shows without the other one. So, I scratched those ideas and decided I’d go to some of my tried-and-true favorites. Places I don’t mind seeing over and over again, which isn’t really the husband’s cup of tea. (Not that he doesn’t enjoy these places, but he’s not one for as much repeat business as I am.)

Now, this may sound odd, but while I’ve never lived in the Smoky Mountains, I feel more at home here than anywhere else. There’s a certain sort of peace of mind that washes over me when I lay eyes on these hills. Maybe it’s what an addict feels when they get their fix. I don’t know.

I left my house at 6:00 am.

Let that sink in.

I’d leave this early for all of my trips if my husband would too. Leaving this early meant I’d gifted myself the sunrise over Flat Rock, NC (just minutes away from Carl Sandburg’s House.¬†It was a little foggier than I’d like, but that’s the mountains for you.

(Also, since I was by myself, I wasn’t able to capture pictures. Cue sad face.)

When I got into Asheville, North Carolina it had started raining. But I wasn’t afraid, this is also just par for the course in the mountains. Weather is extremely unpredictable.

But when I got on the Smoky Mountain Expressway?

Fog. Oh my goodness.

But then when I got into Maggie Valley?


I’d planned on walking around Maggie Valley to take some pictures, but that didn’t happen. Here, to see what I saw of Maggie Valley, close your eyes for a second and picture a gray box.

That about covers it.

I hadn’t intended on getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I thought¬†maybe¬†I would elevate above the blasted fog and actually see something. You tell me:

photo (34)

This was actually the best view I had on the Parkway for several miles.

I began to get a little discouraged. I mean, I’d come early for a reason, and that was to beat the crowds, not get swallowed by a thick pea-souper. So I meandered down the BRP, even slower than required, because the freakishly thick¬†fog¬†required it.

And I’m glad I didn’t give up, because eventually, somewhere past the Bunches Bald overlook and the Thomas Divide (Elevation change -1190 feet), Mother Nature must’ve had a cup of coffee, because the fog lifted and I couldn’t have been more elated!


Now, if you are ever on the Southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway (which, I suggest adding to your bucket list) look for Balsam Mountain and take that road all the way to the end where you’ll¬†really¬†find Balsam Mountain road, which is a twisty, winding little one-way road (meaning¬†do not¬†begin this road if you don’t intend to finish, because you have no choice. Have snacks, drinks, and above all else make use of the facilities located conveniently before the road starts.)

If¬†I had been in my SUV, and¬†if¬†it hadn’t been so foggy, I’d have taken you down this road with me.¬†There are some excellent chances to see wildlife: I.E. BEARS.

Instead, I journeyed on to a very special place, one I’ve been visiting since I was, as they say, knee-high to a grasshopper.

Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center has changed much (new facilities built in 2011), but it’s better than ever. First thing on my agenda was the mini-museum.

Normally we fly through this, if we even visit it at all anymore. But I took my time reading the signage and watching the videos. It really is a neat stop.

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It might be hard to see in the slide, but the chair is the one used by Roosevelt at the dedication ceremony in 1940, the site of the ceremony is just about a 25-30 minute drive up the mountain toward Tennessee‚ÄĒunless it’s peak tourism time (especially leaf season), then you’re looking at closer to an hour or more.

After I’d had my fill of the museum and shopping (where I bought a jar of chow chow for husband and peach preserves for me) I decided to explore the old farm, braving the cold (and boy was it cold!) and really allowing myself time to study the buildings and the information stands.

I hadn’t realized how ingrained in my memory that cabin had become over the years, because it is nearly a carbon copy of what I envision for Corrie, Nelly, and Mabel in Alabama Rain (though, not with a second story).

I also walked along the Oconaluftee River as long as I felt safe doing so. I wasn’t as worried about bear here as I was Elk. They are notorious for being in this area of the park, and with it being springtime, I wouldn’t have been excited to happen upon a pregnant Elk, or worse, one with a baby.

After I’d finished with the farm, I felt a rumbly in my tumbly and thought it best to have lunch. I’d packed my own, so I decided to drive up to Newfound Gap and teeter along the NC/TN line just so I could say I’d been in four states in one day (Georgia would come later). My view for lunch:


Not shabby, eh?

Now, when I left Greenville at 6am it was over 70F.

It was 34 at Newfound Gap. I didn’t care to be outside the warmth of the car very much. I did volunteer to take a picture of a nice elderly couple. She took his picture first, then he took hers. I stepped out and asked if they’d like to have one together. I think it was like Christmas for them! I chatted with them a while. They were fascinated that I’d travel there alone, what with the bears and snakes (not in 34F!) and general scariness of being alone. Truthfully, I was enjoying the solitude.

I contemplated driving the seven miles to Clingman’s Dome, but if it was 34 at Newfound Gap, it was likely to be mid-20s at Clingman’s, so I thought better of it. I did see some worn-out hikers coming up the Appalachian Trail, which is always neat. I envy them so much.

It was still only a little after noon, so I decided to stop in at Mingus Mill (which you saw pictures of already. Here are some that didn’t make the video.

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If you notice the trail that runs along side the water, aptly named Mingus Mill Trail, that’s a really neat one to follow. A little rough, a little steep, but really worth the effort if you’re ever in the area long enough.

When I departed, I decided to make a loop. Going back the way I came would’ve been just fine, but why not see more stuff?

Not to mention, the loop afforded me the opportunity to stop in and surprise my parents.

Once I made it into Georgia there were two stops I wanted to make. One of which, and I’m sure you’ll agree, is one of those places that could only happen in The South.

It’s freaking Goats on The Roof.

Goats. On the Roof.

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I’m a sucker for goats.

There are actually some neat gifty things inside, and if it had been warmer I’d have gone to the sweet shop and taken pictures of how they make ice cream (liquid nitrogen!)

But, be forewarned: Walking in some areas may result in goat poop raining from above.¬† They are living creatures. They’re on the roof. It’s got to go somewhere. Do not let children run amok here, I’ve seen them try to feed the goats hamburgers. Not cool.

My final stop (with pictures) was in Tallulah Falls, Georgia. Most people mistakenly call it Tallulah Gorge (though, that is why people come here.)

I didn’t go to Jane Hurt Yarn, but you should. I’ve been there many times, and would’ve stopped in on this trip had I not planned on stopping in to see my parents. I did, however, stop at the best overlook in town that happens to have one of the neatest shops!

(Also, I think it’s fun to note that even though it was roughly 20 degrees warmer here than at Newfound Gap, the wind coming off the gorge was insane, thus making this the most frigid stop on my trip!)

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Why the moon pies?

You’ll find out when you read Alabama Rain.

This concludes my day trip yesterday! I hope you enjoyed reading about it and all my pictures. If you haven’t been in this area, I totally suggest it. It’s gorgeous and full of character. I wish I could be your tour guide through my mountains!

Now, about the giveaway…

I know I was supposed to announce what all is included, but I am still waiting to hear from one of the companies, so while I do want to share it today, I also don’t want to potentially disappoint. So, please bear with me and come Saturday if I haven’t heard back from this company yet, I will select another one and go from there.

I will give you a hint, though, already locked in for the giveaway is a full-year’s subscription to one of the services you’ve seen popping up on my blog lately.¬† ¬†Including¬†this one.¬†Quite possibly below. ūüėČ Nod, nod, wink, wink.

See you soon, friends. xoxo


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Q1: How’d I Do?

Q1 - How did I do

I promised I’d be honest with you guys. No matter how much it hurts. It’s time to pony up and tell you the truth about how I did with my goals for quarter one.

If you’d like to see the full blog post where I laid out my plans, click here.

Here goes nothing, ya’ll.

1.| Print business cards.¬†I did this, but I didn’t like them. Which, technically, wasn’t my fault. So, I’m going to count this as done, but it’s something I need to redo.

2.| Print bookmarks. DONE!

3.| Get signed copies of my books for sale. DONE!

4.| Write 65,000 words of Alabama Rain.¬†Oh, so not even done. I’m about 20k shy…which is embarrassing.

5.| Update the website at least once per month. DONE!

6.| Send three newsletters. DONE!

7.| Keep up with the blogging schedule. DONE!

8.| Utilize Instagram 5x per week. Oh, yeah, no, I did not do this.

9.| Update both the cover and interior of Sex, Love, and Formalities. DONE!

10.| Attend the Writing/Book Festival in Dahlonega, GA.¬†Sadly, I did not get to go. ūüė¶

So, I accomplished 70% of the goals I gave myself for this quarter…but I’m really upset for not hitting my word count goal. That one stings a¬†lot.

Going purely on testing standards, I passed for the quarter. By my standards, however, I should be flogged. I mean, sure, I could give some solid excuses‚ÄĒespecially for not getting to the book festival‚ÄĒbut I won’t. Besides, I said in that blog post that I’d only consider myself a success if I accomplished 8/10.

I am stupidly proud of keeping up with my blog schedule, and also for not giving up on my newsletter. Also, while I didn’t hit my count goal, I am proud of the feedback I’ve received on Alabama Rain thus far, so even if it is taking me a little longer to write, I am proud of how it is shaping up. I guess that matters more? I’m going to tell myself it does.

It was a busy quarter both as a writer and in my personal life, and I’m going to try not to give myself¬†too¬†much grief for not accomplishing one more of those goals.

So, what about Quarter Two?

Here’s what I hope to accomplish over the next three months:

1.| Tweak and reprint the business cards.
2.| Reach 80,000 words in Alabama Rain.
3.| Form a solid book launch sequence/plan.
4.| Send three newsletters.
5.| Keep up with the blogging schedule.
6.| Finalize Alabama Rain’s cover.
7.| Utilize Instagram 3x per week.
8.| Host a giveaway.
9.| Update the website at least once per month.
10.| Explore three ways of increasing sales of SLT & SLF.

Again, I will consider the quarter a success if I accomplish 8/10 of these goals.

I will update you on how I’ve done on Thursday, June 28, 2018! That’s all I have for you today! Have a fantastic weekend! xoxo

P.S. If you haven’t checked out the interview Vania Rheault did with me, click here to check it out! Her blog is fantastic…which isn’t a surprise, because¬†she¬†is fantastic!


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Getting To Know Aila

HBD Daisy!

HBD Daisy

Ten years ago, on St. Patrick’s Day, my mother-in-law called my husband and I to tell us

This is Daisy around two years old. Not a single gray on that sweet face.

 her dog had had a litter of puppies.

The mama dog’s name was Biscuit, and there were two important facts about Biscuit that are important to this story: She had long, curly hair that hid her pregnant belly¬†really¬†well, and when she was adopted the previous owners said Biscuit had been spayed…so this was a very unexpected litter of pups.

A few days later we visited the MIL’s house to look at the new babes and I instantly fell in love with one of them.

And it wasn’t Daisy.

This is Penny, the original pupper I had intended to bring home. She’s super little and sweet as can be. Her tininess, though, brings with it a few health complications.

Daisy was the runt of the litter, and while she was cute, she wasn’t the one I wanted to begin with. I wanted the biggest pup in the litter. She was like a miniature version of a chocolate lab, and I was still grieving the fact my parents had re-homed the chocolate lab we’d had since I was a kid. (After my brother and I moved out, my parents downsized.)

So, we waited the six weeks to go back and get the brown fur ball and the puppies were all crawling around and exploring and generally the cutest things you’ve ever seen, of course. We sat on the couch with our new little dog and fawned all over her, but while we did this little runt of a thing worked very hard to get my attention and she crawled all over me and gave me kisses on my chin and yawned and fell asleep on my chest, and completely won my heart.

So, we went home with two puppies that day.

It took us a while to name both of them. It wasn’t until we went to go buy them each collars that inspiration came for Daisy’s name. She was so tiny there wasn’t a single puppy collar that fit her. We had to buy her a collar meant for a kitten, and I chose one with a daisy pendant on it.

It was still sort of big for her.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll skip ahead to when my niece and nephew (very little at the

Daisy won’t actually gnaw on her “chewies” until my husband or I pretend we’re trying to steal it from her.

time) visited. If memory serves me correctly their dad had just gotten word he would be doing a stint in Afghanistan (might’ve been Iraq, I can’t remember which came first), and they were both trying to be very brave about it. They wanted one of our pups, and they fell in love with the dog I had first fallen in love with‚ÄĒwho, funnily enough, had started as the largest puppy in the litter and turned out to be the tiniest after they grew up!

That puppy is still in the excellent care of my now grown niece and nephew, and her name is Penny. All of the puppies in that litter were given names beginning with P, except for Daisy. What can I say, we’re rebels.

Anywho, Daisy has seen me through some really troubling times: miscarriages, nearly losing my father on multiple occasions, a few relocations, and the death of one of my nephews. She sticks with me when I’m sick, dotes on me when I have a migraine, and somehow she always knows if my back hurts and that’s where she curls up next to me to act as a natural heating pad.

About four years old, Daisy started sporting a little gray around her nose. I adore this wittle face.

Ten Fun (I think, anyway) Facts About Daisy:

‚ÄĘ She has a plethora of nicknames, and she answers to all of them. Some of my fave are:

Daisy May
Angel Face

Around five years old, a day after surgery.

‚ÄĘ While her favorite treat has always been cheese, a close second is watermelon.

‚ÄĘ She and my father have a very special bond, too. If I ask her if she wants to go see her Papa, I’d damn well better take her.

‚ÄĘ She grew up with a cat, therefore she¬†loves¬†cats. She doesn’t understand when they don’t love her back.

‚ÄĘ When she was very little she had two squeak toys, a rhinoceros and a hippopotamus, and she knew which was which and would bring whichever you asked her for.

‚Äʬ†She gets up with me at 4:30 every morning and sits in my lap while I drink my coffee. Then she goes back to bed when I leave for work.

‚ÄĘ She’s¬†super¬†protective of my husband’s feet.

‚ÄĘ She gets jealous when my husband and I hug each other, so we sometimes put her between us for a “Doodle Sandwich.”

‚ÄĘ Like most dogs, she loved to wrestle in her more spry years. But even when she was

I was cleaning out the pantry and she decided I needed help.

young and rowdy, if you said, “Okay, it’s time for love now,” she would instantly stop rough-housing and go back to being sweet.

‚ÄĘ Daisy loves confined spaces. When she was a puppy we had her on such a sleep/crate schedule that if we were late going to bed, she would get in her crate by herself and stay there all night. Now she doesn’t have a crate, but she will sneak off and sleep in the linen closet almost daily. She loves it so much, we have to leave the door open for her.

Yes, she’s spoiled. Yes, she’ll get presents and a special dinner for her birthday…and yes, I am aware she is a dog.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know my canine-kid. Have a great weekend and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

PSA: Don’t drink and drive. Call a cab, call an Uber, or have a designated driver.

Until Monday, my lovelies! xoxoxo

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Keep Fighting

Keep Fighting

Happy Friday Eve, ya’ll!

Before I get started with the meat and potatoes of this post, I’ve wanted to get in the habit of making a little list at the beginning of all my Thursday posts, so here goes:

What I’m Reading:¬†Kitchens of The Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
Last Song Purchased on iTunes: Pet by A Perfect Circle
Current TV Show: Just finished The Defenders.
Last Movie Watched:¬†Actually, I’m watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2¬†right now.
Alabama Rain’s Current Word Count:¬†30,765
Weekend Plans: Visiting nephew in Atlanta, writing, blogging, and updating websites

Onto the post.

I’m not sure if I’ve made you guys aware, but my Monday blogs are thoroughly planned out ahead of time, and most weeks I’ve actually been writing them for several days before they’re published. My Thursday posts are spur of the moment. I try not to think about them too much because I want them to be true to who I am in that moment.

Today was rough. Scratch that, this year has been rough so far. I think back on those posts I made in December and January. I had such high hopes and plans for this year. I thoroughly believed that 2018 would be a far better year than 2017. Not so much.

Last year (which, comparatively,¬†was¬†better, as hard as that is to believe) I gave up writing for a while. I’d absolutely lost the ability to keep up with both halves of my world. Writing doesn’t pay the bills and it likely never will. So I made the sensible decision and I put my writing away to alleviate some of my stress.

But I was still stressed. I am still stressed.

Cutting out my writing ambitions was the wrong move. I know that now. Believe me, I am desperate to cut something out right now…but it won’t be my writing.

Let’s talk about stress.

Is stress bad?

Not necessarily. There is such a thing as good stress. For me, writing is good stress. I stress over getting the words right. I stress over getting reputable sources for my research. I stress over cover design. I stress about marketing. I stress over my blog posts.

But the thing is, I¬†want¬†this stress. It motivates me and pushes me to get better in so many areas of writing‚ÄĒwhich is all I want to do anymore.

See, I am actually in control of this stress and I utilize this stress. It, for me, is good.

Bad stress, I believe, is when you have little to no control over its origination nor its resolution.

For me that is most of my work-related stress and dealing with family health issues.

So, when I gave up my writing last year, I indeed gave up some stress, but it was the good stress and all I was left with was the bad stress. It was not a good equation.

Short of quitting my job with no notice, what am I to do?

Keep fighting.

I know you’re going through something rough right now, too. You’re fighting your own battles, and I’m sure there are days you feel you’re winning, and others when you are so damned exhausted from it all that you don’t even notice when you start to cry. There are days when you feel whole and motivated and invincible…and then there are days when you feel defeated and even simply going through the motions is so taxing you crumble.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep fighting. Don’t lose your passions, because you’ll lose yourself.

How am I coping?

Not well, usually. But I have taken to closing my eyes and counting back from five. On especially bad days, I do something nice for myself. I find things around me that I like. (Something in the color green, something that smells nice, something I like to eat or drink…anything to make me focus on something positive.)

The tough love ending here is that even though lots of the things that stress us out are beyond our control, we can control how we react to it.

I nearly lost my control at work the other day. I started to walk out the door with my middle fingers up and said I’d figure the rest out later. All that would’ve accomplished would have been to trade one bad stress for a heap of other bad stress.

Instead, I have accepted the fact that my job will never again be the same for me. Coming to this realization has clarified for me what I should and should not fight for. I’m incapable of changing the company culture…but I can change the company I work for. It might take some time, but that is within my control.

I cannot change the fact I have an aunt who is fighting for her life, the stress of which is causing ripples in the family. I can, however, do what I know is right and visit her and offer my shoulder to her daughters.

These things are preventing me from devoting as much time as I’d like to my writing, but I also have to accept that I will likely not meet my quarterly goal for 2018. I imposed these deadlines and the only person who really cares if I meet them is me. I have to give myself permission to adapt my goals.

I am going to give myself permission to be human.

I hope you will, too.

See you Monday, my lovelies.

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