Forget Me Not

Never let somebody make you forget who you are.

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It’s raining in Maryland. Has been for days. It sets a tone.

I’ve been working on “Red Hunter” which is book three in my Red August series. It’s been flowing, but it’s been emotionally exhausting. When I started out writing fairy tales a few years ago, I was going to write short sexy erotic fairy tales. Instead, I’m mired in examining relationships, the way love works, who you’re “supposed” to have sex with, and why people manipulate others. About manipulation, spoiler:  it’s usually to get something they want, even if they don’t consciously realize they are doing it.

One of the things I’ve noticed about the people in my past who have manipulated me is that they all gaslighted me. It really knocks you off of your center when it happens, and usually you don’t see it coming. You think things are going well. You’re getting all this positive feedback and reciprocal joy, and then one day, BAM, you’re being accused of the very things that person was doing. Oh, and nothing is EVER their fault.

I think aside from the rain and the writing, the show The Handmaid’s Tale is making some of these old scars ache. Seeing all of those women climb over each other, use each other, and all of society controlling their most basic rights, it’s jarring. They’ve done a good and terrifying job of it. Feels a little too close to reality right now.

One thing that I do to help me get past this sense of foolishness for believing a person when they say they like me, or trusting somebody who was not trustworthy, is trying to REMEMBER WHO I AM. How can another person MAKE YOU FORGET WHO YOU ARE? I can’t really answer that. But you see it all the time. And these measures are temporary because there is always the chance that something will trigger all those old traumas and make you live them for a little while. At least, in time, the duration is shorter and the pain less severe.

Probably everybody but sociopaths go through this. Even gaslighters have their reasons for gaslighting. The important thing is to NOT forget yourself. Remember who you are. Also, there is always room for growth in all of these things. Even if that means putting up a wall and being less trusting–that’s still learning!

The other thing I noticed about being on the receiving end of gaslighting, is that people who CARE that they’ve upset, or hurt others will make the gaslighting even more effective on them. You question everything you ever did or said with that person and read and re-read your texts and emails and try and find the blame in yourself, because that’s who you are. YOU GIVE A SHIT. They don’t. They have to remain blameless or it unravels all the good stories they tell themselves about who they are. If you see something that you could have said or done differently, remember that. If you know better, do better. We all make mistakes.

On the one hand, I’m not sure writing this story is always good for me. Mostly, it is. It’s not much different than making soul-searching art. But . . . it’s just supposed to be a version of Red Riding Hood. It’s supposed to be a modern day fairy tale. Fairy tales are fun! Right? It’s grown into much more than that for me. It’s a way to examine societal standards. Love language. Age differences vs. maturity differences. Who we are told is “right” for us, and what the shape of a family should be.

I want to approach these topics with intelligence, maybe a little purple prose (it is a paranormal romance after all), and with a lot of heart where the hurt was.

I’m 5400 words in. Let’s see where this ship takes us, shall we?

 

 

Sexy Shape Shifters?

Last month Red August was featured in the February Ever After Box fairy tale and romance book subscription service. Red August was my debut novel, and the first in the Red August series about a girl who is becoming a woman, and discovers a world she is a part of, but never knew existed. It also happens to be a modernized Red Riding Hood retelling. For March the theme is Sexy Shifters! Since werewolves fit that theme, they have accepted the second book in the Red August series, Red Archer, for their March box. The exciting part is, apart from people who come to my launch party on March 18th at the New Deal Cafe, Ever After box subscribers will be the first to read Red Archer because they will get a free ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) download of Red Archer in the March box!

Visit the Ever After Box website to sign up for their subscription boxes, for the fairy tale romance lover in your life.

You can visit the Facebook invitation for the book launch here: https://www.facebook.com/events/255044768254137/  (PLEASE RSVP if you plan on coming – it helps us to make sure there is enough nibbles and drinks)

 

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Following a season of late weddings and new romance, August Archer is ready to embrace the next part of her life—ready to reclaim her lost heritage, and to join herself with the man she loves.

But her sojourn with Faolan to their Scottish homeland turns out to be a very different trip than either of them could have imagined. August feels the bonds of love twisting into knots when the past comes back to haunt them both, even as the bonds of family grow stronger when she finds the hunter clans—her ancient kin—preparing to fight for what they hold dear.

Before this journey ends, August will face her bitterest enemy, confront a shocking betrayal in the Archer family, and become transformed by a spirit world she never dreamed existed. And she will encounter a ghost from the past that threatens to unravel her entire future, in this reimagined saga of the Red Riding Hood story—the sequel to Red August.

I Fell in Love (just a little) -Writer Blues

I fell in love with you a little when I read it. Pixels or paper, it wouldn’t have mattered. Though  there is something to be said for the slip smooth, the crinkle, of paper. But the pixels reach me so much faster, a bullet hitting its mark.

Slide your glossy razor fingernail down my breastbone, peel back a layer. And another.

Focus your laser insight into my eyes. Blind me with your gifts. I won’t have to see my own overly-dramatic adolescent ramblings.

You can never make a great writer out of a good writer, a great writer once said. Mr. King, what a wound. Not so wide as a church door, but ’tis enough, ’twill serve.

So I will wash my mouth out with adverbs. I will slice away planks of purple prose and drop them into the pot with what I thought were wild parsnips. On high. Until boiling. Drink. Sleep.

Incoherent. Disjointed. What is this, anyway? It doesn’t make sense. It does, too. A flashing sign overhead, “EDIT ME.” Spellcheck. Wait, I need to look up “lie” and “lay” again. It’s the mechanics of cameras all over again.

I’m tired, but inspired. And it starts over every. single. day.

You don’t care. And I’m fine with it. I will keep working at going from competent to good while you spill great all over the place. I’ll wipe it up. I’ll like it. And I’m not even mad about it.

Actually, you do care. And that’s what makes it all worth something.

Abstract works better in acrylics. Eyes roll. “Wow, she’s trying way too hard.”

“Fishing.”

“Yeah.”

One foot in front of the other. Writing mix on the playlist. Focus. Steady as she goes. O CAPTAIN! my captain!

Be grateful it’s out there, all of that beauty. Stop worrying. Don’t show any lack of confidence, it’s deadly you know.

Is it?

Well, if that were true, I’d have died at twelve.

“Who are you talking to?”

“Does it matter?”

I can if I say I can. From competent to good is better than “never tried.”

 

 

 

 

Micro Fairy Tales

I have been writing micro-stories that are based on images I find in my feed. So far Faerie Magazine has been the source, but I see many things on a daily basis that get me inspired. Here are a couple of micro-fairy tales. Perhaps they are just a nip of something much bigger. You never know. I post them on my Facebook page, so if you wish to catch them, that’s the best place to do it. I can’t promise they will always end up here. PLUS, at the FB page you can click all those little links and learn about the models and the photographers and stuff. Which you TOTES wanna do!  🙂

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Red Archer 2016

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My friend Tracy has been to London and Edinburgh – so she invited me over to pick her brain about that as research for the second book in the Red August series – Red Archer.

She had a wonderful little journal from her trip to Britain when she was a teen, so that was perfect – getting an American teen girl’s impressions of parts of Europe, and in the same era that my book series is set in!  How about THAT!?  PLUS – I got to hang with my pal Tracy and she made me food and we had wine.

We don’t get to see each other face-to-face too often, so we had lots of catching up to do.  We talked about travel and men and love and hurt.  We talked about sex and lost loves and what lessons we’ve learned here and there.  We also talked about things like how switches on the walls in the UK work and what time it gets dusky.

I took lots of notes.  But we didn’t make it all the way through her journal, so I’m hoping to head back down there for another bout of research in the coming months.

OH!  I almost forgot.  She also made some freaking DELICIOUS spiced cake cupcakes.  They were SO GOOD I could have eaten one every day for breakfast for a week.  Do I have amazing friends or what?

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Look how cute these cupcakes are – and her arm was hurty too!  ❤ ❤ ❤

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Emotional Day

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I’ve had a really emotional day.  Not sad exactly, just lots of feelings bubbling up to the surface.

I’ve been watching my husband fall in love on stage every weekend.  He’s so beautiful and talented, I am just in awe of him.

I have this book about love and longing and hurt and adventure simmering inside and have had very little time to work on it.

So today was spent listening to haunting music and reading poetry and avoiding the work I needed to do.

Tomorrow, I will write about love and longing.  I will write about hurts and healing.  I will find a way to use these emotions to make something.  ❤

Writing in a Bubble

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You can’t write in a bubble.  You’re influenced by everything you’ve been exposed to.  Good, bad, whatever.

I think it’s important to keep that in perspective when you are feeling a bit like you can’t offer up a fresh voice in stories.  It’s a hurdle I had to overcome.  I had a sense that I couldn’t add anything to the conversation.  I had a sense that even though I wanted to reach out and touch people with a story about different kinds of love and struggles, I didn’t know if I had anything special to add.

In the end I decided to just sit down and write the story.  To write down the show unraveling inside of my head.  To see where it takes me.

Now that I have finished the first book – Red August – I am thrilled that book two – Red Archer – is already full of life in my mind.  It’s crackling with energy and concepts that are exciting to me and I can’t wait to write them all down.  My sweetheart has been helping me with ideas about love and bonding and even obsessive feelings and where they come from and how to work with them.

Right now I am hip deep in props and set decorating for an amazing play written by my friend Audrey.  My sweetheart is in the play, too.  So we’ve been all about the play these past couple of months and “hell week” is next week, so it’s going to get busier before it lets up.  But come November, once a brilliant run of Maytag Virgin is over, I can settle back into working on book two.

I’m always looking for people who have insight on the Celtic/Scottish and Irish aspects of the story as well – if you have some thoughts, please send them along (email below).  I’m interested in traditions related to weddings, marriage, birthdays, holidays, things lovers might say to each other and other cultural things that would be hard for me to know about without living there.  I always want to research well and be respectful.

****REVIEWERS***

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If you would like to review Red August (ebook only at this time) please contact me at hlbrookswrites(at)yahoo(dot)com.  See my Media Kit page for images and synopsis.  Please note, the book contains sexual material.