Forget Me Not

Never let somebody make you forget who you are.

forgetmenots

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?

 

 

The Heart Tapestry

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I don’t know what motivates other people to do things–or not to do them. Nor do I pretend to believe that all hearts work the same way. I’m not here to judge why or how somebody does or doesn’t respond to me. How somebody does or doesn’t connect to me. I put it out into the universe, and if a thread comes back and weaves into the tapestry of my life, it will be all the more rich and colorful. All the more complex and beautiful.

What I don’t really have time for at this point in my life are those who can’t be bothered to connect, or worse, pick at the tapestry, snagging, leaving tears and frayed ends. My life is full of wonderful, beautiful, talented, insightful, caring people. If I never made another friend for the rest of my life, many beautiful connections would remain and sustain me.

Why am I writing about this? I saw a Timehop that reminded me of this topic. I had had a couple of really big hurts in my life, starting with a teen pregnancy, but 2009-2011 were the worst by far. I was reminded of how hard it was to recover from that kind of damage. It reminded me how much I had turned in on myself – for almost three years. I decided I didn’t want or need any new friends. It felt to vulnerable to open up to that. I closed up. Put up a wall. That is something I had never done before. Sure, I had some short-term hurts that made me withdraw for a bit, but being an optimist at heart, I always bounced back pretty quickly. I felt the risk was worth the payoff of a connection and a friend – before.

For the new friendships I’ve formed–I’m glad I dismantled the wall a bit – brick by brick, leaving a small space for people who really wanted to squeeze through. For those who chose the other side of the wall, or who I walled out, our time has passed, I guess. For my part, I’ve always been as authentic as I could. And I trusted–until I couldn’t–for reasons.

I didn’t always respond or behave the way I wish I would have–but I’m human. I’ve hopefully learned and evolved over the time with each bump and boulder in my path. Whatever mistakes I made, you got me honestly, and my honesty, and the sincerest bits of my heart.

Sensual Sunday – Valentine’s Edition

Valentine’s Day happened to fall on a Sunday this year. So, I was determined to do a Sensual Sunday post today. Here it is. Happy Valentine’s Day all of you lovers out there.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

wchofhlb

He writes. He observes. Quietly. Warmly. Kindly.

I woke up to his whispers.

“You looked so soft,” he said.

He used words like “elegant” and “curvy” and “lovely.”

“I took a photo of you. Look, here…see.” He shows me. I like it. I used to hate every photo of myself. Now I’m more selective with my hate of things, self and otherwise.

All freckled shoulders and my face buried in pillows. My pixie cut obviously well on its way past bob length. Look at that flip in my hair, I thought. It’s nice that the sheet decided to drape that way.

It’s sweet. And loving. And the kind of thing I always wanted in a lover. Somebody who would look at me when I am sleeping and think that I’m beautiful. When I’m not vying for attention or trying to be seductive, he still notices.

“It looks kind of like a ball gown,” he says. “Low in the back, of course. Elegant. You just look so beautiful.” His face searched mine and I saw a flash, that momentary request for approval – that I didn’t hate it and that it was ok that he took it.

I feel my face go soft. I smile.

“Yeah, I guess it does. The way it’s draped like that,” I say.

And I watch him, watching me. Messy hair and barrette falling out. But I don’t feel like a disaster. I feel like I am glowing. And the sheets are so soft and warm. The sun glow is even cooperative, diffuse and comforting. And he puts a hand to my leg and strokes it and then leans in to kiss me. I am at peace in that moment. All of myself focused on that kiss. It’s all I have to offer at this moment in time and I guess, for now, it’s enough.

Happy Valentine’s Day – A Racing Brain At 4am

wchbwLaying there, one fleshy pale leg resting on top of yours. Layers of blankets hugging us to the bed, I pretzel and twist – one of my arms over my head, one of yours, over yours. I find your fingers with my left hand and you squeeze them, even though you are mostly asleep. I try to touch as much of my skin to yours as I can, curved like a bean next to you. I lay my head in the sweet spot that your body has made for it. Was made for it, long before I met you. When you were born, maybe. I put my right arm across your chest. I know you love this – a woman resting on your chest. “There is something so…satisfying…beautiful, about it,” you once said. Or something like it.  And even years later there is an impression there, and an image in my head. It’s faded like a washed-out photograph. You know the one. And it doesn’t hurt anymore, but it’s there. Maybe it always will be. I decide it doesn’t matter and I start a poem in my head. God, it’s almost 4 a.m. and I am composing words as I feel you breathe. None of the words are good enough. Some of them don’t even make sense. I will never be good enough, my brain says. But you already are, I counter. Your thigh is twice the circumference as his. And it feels good for that not to be something I hate. It’s a non-issue. I take that back. It’s a celebration. Continue reading

Reading in Baltimore – 3 and 4 of 4

These are excerpts from the book Red August, by H.L. Brooks – read by actors Erica Smith and Will Hardy. It is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Nobel and iBooks, among other places. Links can be found at http://www.hlbrooks.com

In this scene Red/August has been meeting her handsome neighbor near the stream that runs down their properties. They read books and discuss them.

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This reading took place at Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore, Maryland.

http://www.scarboroughfairbandb.com/

*This is an abridged version meant to be read out loud.

Book Synopsis

What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? Or that the love of your life was something other than human? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl—even though she has been having disturbing and erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her bookish, charming father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her New York City apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, and the rambling Victorian house where he grew up. There she meets a wise woman with a gift for herbal medicine, the gentle old man who keeps the house in repair and the grounds thriving, and her new neighbor: an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who seems to know her better than she knows herself, and fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins to coax her feisty Scottish grandmother out of her self-imposed catatonia that a strange tale of werewolves and hunters emerges—one in which the man of her dreams may be her family’s oldest enemy—in this modern-day telling of the Red Riding Hood story.

 

Reading in Baltimore – 1

There was a reading of Red August at Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore this past Saturday.  Actors Erica Smith and Will Hardy read excerpts from the book and we enjoyed warm cider with a tiny audience.

This particular excerpt is one of about four I will post.

The excerpts I chose include those where August and Faolan have interaction.  I came to realize that the excerpts may give the impression that the book is straight romance, but it’s a fairy tale adaption of Red Riding Hood set in 1980s small town Maryland.

Find out where to buy Red August by visiting HLBrooks.com.

VIDEO INFO

This is an excerpt from the book Red August, by H.L. Brooks – read by actors Erica Smith and Will Hardy.  It is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Nobel and iBooks, among other places.  Links can be found at http://www.hlbrooks.com

In this scene Red and her handsome neighbor meet for the first time.  She is new to town.  She’s had a rough several months, including having been assaulted by somebody, which she is trying to heal from.  On this night she watches something kind of naughty on TV and falls asleep and wakes up restless in the middle of the night, so goes for a walk along her property.

This reading took place at Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore, Maryland.

http://www.scarboroughfairbandb.com/

*This is an abridged version meant to be read out loud.

Book Synopsis

What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? Or that the love of your life was something other than human? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl—even though she has been having disturbing and erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her bookish, charming father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her New York City apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, and the rambling Victorian house where he grew up. There she meets a wise woman with a gift for herbal medicine, the gentle old man who keeps the house in repair and the grounds thriving, and her new neighbor: an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who seems to know her better than she knows herself, and fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins to coax her feisty Scottish grandmother out of her self-imposed catatonia that a strange tale of werewolves and hunters emerges—one in which the man of her dreams may be her family’s oldest enemy—in this modern-day telling of the Red Riding Hood story.

Book Update

RedAugustwblurb_800widenewcover

I’ve updated my website HLBrooks.com to reflect all of the links that you need in order to purchase Red August.  The most recent addition is approval by Amazon yesterday.

The e-book is only $3.99.  There is not a print copy available as of yet.

Links for purchase:
Amazon
iBooks
Barnes & Nobel
Smashwords (you can read 33% of the book for free here)
Kobo

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Synopsis

What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? Or that the love of your life was something other than human? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl–even though she has been having disturbing and erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her bookish, charming father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her New York City apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, and the rambling Victorian house where he grew up. There she meets a wise woman with a gift for herbal medicine, the gentle old man who keeps the house in repair and the grounds thriving, and her new neighbor: an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who seems to know her better than she knows herself, and fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins to coax her feisty Scottish grandmother out of her self-imposed catatonia that a strange tale of werewolves and hunters emerges–one in which the man of her dreams may be her family’s oldest enemy–in this modern-day telling of the Red Riding Hood story.