Red Archer Reveal

The cover for Red Archer is done! This is the second book in my Red August series. There will be an update as soon as it is available for pre-order.

********

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.

redarcherfinal

Love Letters – Epistles of Love and Longing in a Modern Age

lovelettersheader

I realized that I have years of love letters that I could share on my blog. Some of them I could share in whole, some in part. I think it would make a fun new series, since I have so many of them. I realize I need to step it back up with the Sensual Sundays, too.

This modern time of texting, emailing, social-networking, means plenty of opportunity for sharing missives to your muses.

I have always been a fan of the love letter. I love sending them and receiving them equally as well. There is something beautiful about seeing the words, in concrete form (however ephemeral pixels may be), a small gift for you. All yours.

I got this idea when I realized the small love note email I sent to my sweetheart today was a snapshot of my feelings today. The kind of thing you might post on Facebook, if all of your followers were your significant other.

So, here is the first Love Letters – Epistles of Love and Longing in a Modern Age.

***

To: William
9/21/16 4:00 pm

Grumpy. And missing you. Wanting to talk your ear off. Wanting to have my desk on my bed. Wanting to pull my heart out and show you where it hurts – have you kiss it and put it back in. Talk about everything. Cheer each other on. Watch you get some much needed sleep. Pet your side. Kiss your cheek. Hold your hand. Get in deep.

Juicy Peach

peachy

“They had apples. Honeycrisp. Some other kind, too…I forget what–well, they’re all new apples.”

I smiled. “Thanks.” It was the closest I would get to the market that day. I love choosing my fruit and veggies from the farmers who grew them. The dried mud on a mound of small potatoes, flaking off around the little crate that contained them. The weight of a fat tomato in my hand. The smell of a bundle of herbs. Feeling like a Duchess as I peer at each package, choosing which would serve me best. But I wasn’t feeling my best that day, so he went alone. He delivered, though–Honeycrisp is my favorite. Pink Lady, second.

“I got some peaches, too.”

“Ohhhh.” I tiptoed to the kitchen to peer inside the bag. There they were, three perfect peaches.

I selected my favorite, though they all looked lovely. I turned around and let water run over it, washing the fuzzy skin gently. I gave her a little rub with the dishtowel on the counter, to dry her off. I put the fruit to my nose and inhaled, to my satisfaction it was delightfully fragrant. I bit into the fruit, grabbing  a paper towel to catch the juices. Sweet, wet, divine–the last taste of summer.

“This peach is perfect. Come have a bite.”

He poked his head into the hallway, peering at me standing near the sink. Eyebrows up, “Well, alright.”

I watched him take the four paces to me. His light brown hair in want of a trim. His green tee making his eyes more green than ever. His eyes are magic that way, pulling green, light brown, or hazel–depending on the shirt.

I held the peach up, about breast high. He stood in front of me for a beat and looked at the peach, put both of his hands around my hand, cupping it from beneath and raised the peach to his mouth. He looked me in the eye as he bit into the flesh, I was transfixed. Any words that had begun their journey to my mouth were halted in their tracks as I watched him take another bite, his eyes locked with mine. Juice running down our hands. I forgot the paper towel in my other hand. I forgot that I could look away, if I wanted to.

He released my hand, smiled and chewed, still looking me in the eyes. I felt a chain of electrical tingles run down my spine, then back up again. He made a sound that indicated the peach was, indeed, as perfect as reported. He then turned and walked back into the bedroom to sort books, and fold laundry. I enjoyed watching the back of him as he went. I stared at the space where he stood as I finished the peach in four bites, then made my way to the bedroom as well.

What It Isn’t and Is

I want to preface this free-thought exercise by saying I’m totally fine. I’m not actually upset or struggling at the moment. I just channeled a lot of thoughts I’ve had over the past several years for different reasons – this isn’t about any one specific person or situation, it’s a composite of struggles and processes. It’s all of the good and “the upside down” (for you fellow Stranger Things fans!) that comes with just being human and forming (and trying to form), and unmaking, bonds with people. What those bonds are, and what they aren’t. Peace!

Minolta DSC

Loki (he’s been gone a few years now) and my old art studio, which I could no longer keep.

It isn’t a beginning.

It is an end.

It isn’t a big house.

It isn’t a favorite book.

It isn’t tenderness and validation.

When you have to move on, it can be grueling. It can feel like ash and stone flying through the atmosphere. Why is it like that, no matter how bad it gets?

I look back at what it was. What it wasn’t. What it is now. What it isn’t today.

It is the absence of respect.

It is the presence of resentment.

It is an angry woman who reads her husband’s emails and lashes out because she is insecure – because of the way she got her husband to begin with. It isn’t a woman who accepts blame.

It is loss that is far more good than the subtraction of love, but the addition of self-respect.

It isn’t caring what you destroy until you’ve already crushed it to bits.

Looking down. Dust on your boots. Blood. Ash. And you wonder why people don’t want to have a happy chat.

It’s creepy little threats.

It’s a smell you can’t forget.

It is blame, not in the mirror, but outwards – for your very own flaws.

It is a bad review out of spite to manifest your petty anger.

It is accusing people of the very things you are guilty of.

It is shedding your own skin like  a reptile, if you ever had your own skin to begin with.

And it is assuming the identity of a Stepford Wife. “Whatever you like, I now like.” As if you are hollow inside.

It is long distance.

It is cold hearted.

It is selfish beyond selfish, but ultimately the best thing ever.

It is banana bread and canned peaches.

It is lilacs and gold roses.

It is forgetting as the memories scatter into darker corners with each passing week…month…year.

It isn’t the acceptance of the role you play, because you are perfect. Remember? You never do anything wrong.

It’s the fault of people who you believe take advantage of you, not your falseness that made them believe that they were not trespassers. It is the people who didn’t know you were lying who are to blame, not the person who lied.

“Why don’t you trust me?” HA! THAT IS HILARIOUS! Oh, the resentment when I showed skepticism was rich!

It is rape of my trust. It is sliding into a booth and planting a kiss on me without my permission. It is the everlasting overlapping of lies and truth that made a nice veneer. Thin and brittle, but it looked so shiny, rich, solid on the face. Fake. False. Fake. False.

It is the hot resentment on the back of your neck when you walk by because you took what you wanted and I still rose up from the ash. Poorer and richer. Depends on how you look at wealth, I suppose.

It is vulnerability.

It is feeling like a failure.

It isn’t closure.

When you want closure, when it is never going to be given to you (can it actually be given, anyway?) you have to keep working to find it.

Closure doesn’t come suddenly one day and BAM! You’re all better.

No – closure is a process. It is a place you first must find the path towards. Then walk the path. Then knock on the door. Sometimes nobody opens the door because they don’t give a fuck about you. Sometimes you have to open the goddam door yourself. And once that door is open, you have to keep going there for school, you keep having to learn your way to it. It doesn’t just wash over you. You don’t get out of it that easy.

It isn’t anointing.

It isn’t wound-less.

It is bleeding. Then dressing. Then scars.

It’s a lack of understanding.

It’s bad bad communication.

It isn’t perfection.

It isn’t absolution.

It is new walls with each assault.

It is stronger bricks.

It is a higher wall.

It is letters never sent.

It is apologies never received.

It is lies that burn my flesh.

It is hurt that tears at my heart.

Or tore. Or burned. It’s all of them at once.

It is fire and water and metal and earth.

It is humanness.

It is forgivable.

It isn’t forgettable.

The forgiveness is for yourself, not for them.

 

 

 

 

The Corner of Fifteen

bcbvbva

It’s hard to imagine now just how small the world was to me then. He lived next door and worked for his dad’s contractor business. He fixed stuff. At least that’s what I thought. He broke stuff, too. My illusions of love, for example. My innocence of how lovers worked, and what power imbalance was. The belief that if you became pregnant, he would stay, because that’s what men are supposed to do. The reality that in the end, I might not want him to stay. And that people don’t always do what they are “supposed” to do.

I lost a lot of things that year, but I gained some things I would never trade. To say I am happy to have had a beautiful child come from that union may sound cliche, but I wouldn’t change it if I could. It set me on a path to self-improvement and an unfortunate spate of cynicism about men, I’m glad I’ve left behind (for the most part), but made me see feminism in a different light. Those bad experiences with a bad person set the cornerstone of the person I am today.

That house–my family’s, and his next door, are so foreign to me now. It’s like looking at a photo album from some movie I watched. I can conjure up the memories like they were last month, but I feel as though I am viewing them through a sheet of plastic.

I can’t remember the taste of him, or how he kissed. I can remember some of his cheesy lines and hurtful comments. I can remember him throwing pennies at me from his bedroom window. I can remember he smoked Marlboro reds and wore Stetson cologne. I would smell that combination into the mid-1990s sometimes, but thankfully Stetson has lost its appeal. Whichever men who might have stockpiled it, stuck in the 1980s, have probably run out by now.

My heart was broken. It was two years before I would date again. I wasn’t done making mistakes I wouldn’t fix, though. But that’s a story for another time.

 

The Heart Tapestry

knitheart.jpg

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.