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?

 

 

Baltimore Book Festival Confessions 2016 – Part 2

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Last weekend I was a vendor at the Baltimore Book Festival in Maryland. I’m a Maryland resident and not too far from Baltimore, so I thought it would be a good book event to try out.

My most difficult task has not been the hours upon hours of making graphics, layout and design of the book cover, coming up with marketing, keeping up with social media, even writing the books, going to events and so forth. The most difficult part of this has been finding my audience. My book comes off as a YA at first glance. The female protagonist in Red August is sixteen at the beginning of the story. She’s fairly confident, but has her body issues. This isn’t a trope to me. This is a reflection of myself at about 13 years old, so I know there have to be others who can relate to that. The character is extremely hormonal and sexually interested. This is where I think I lose some of the more YA-oriented folks. They are looking for Twilight and I have given them Twilight, but with more adults, strong female characters of varying ages, and erotic scenes. Detailed erotic scenes. There is also the distracted thinking and judgment that comes with the hormones of adolescence as I recall them. Let’s not forget, this is a Paranormal Romance Adventure book, so besides adolescence in general for her hormones, there are other reasons. Reasons. Anyway, my hope was to come across some readers who I could maybe chat with, answers questions, and find the audience who wants my work. The book festival delivered in that way. Had I been in a section that was more dedicated to my genre, I think it would have been an even more successful endeavor. We were a jumble of genres and even had a beauty pageant table in our tent, for some reason.

When you enter the Tablers Tent you sign in and select your table. It’s a long bowling-alley style series of tents with tables along each side. I mention ways I felt this wasn’t the best set-up and could be improved in the other post. Just a little helpful feedback, not trying to be whiny about it. Anyway, we selected a table about middle of the alley. We were lucky enough to be right at a vent so we could enter and exit behind our table and weren’t literally walled in, being forced to use the exits at either end of the alley. Here you can see Will eating a quick lunch outside of our vent and in front of the Visitor’s Center.

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I want to just say that I really LOVED being so close to the Visitor’s Center, so I hope that it’s in the same spot next year.

Nearing the end of the day I really needed to get up and stretch, so I went for a quick walk to check out the event. It was quite a large event with booths surrounding the harbor. I also took a swing by the Maryland Romance Writers tent to listen to some of the panel talk about writing Romances. At the moment I was there the discussion was about researching history, how difficult it is to make sure you get everything correct with non-fictional characters, and what terrible things a writer’s browser might give up if ever forensically investigated by the FBI. All true things. I could relate to these ladies for sure. It would have been nice if their tent was closer to ours, but I was pretty excited to see the Red Emma’s tent right outside of ours. I would have liked to have spent part of the day in there!

The event was heavily attended, a real plus. It was nice weather, also a big plus. There were plenty of food and book vendors. Plenty of portable toilets. And the Tablers Tent looked looked as though all of the vendor tables were full. There were volunteers that were polite, helpful, and checked on us regularly and brought us water. They could relieve us at our table for a short while if need be. A long list of events and activities were posted throughout the event in the form of large signs. A nice big glossy map to give to attendees. A pretty good event rating overall in my opinion. I hope next year they try to attract book bloggers/vloggers and reviewers.

During the event we were seated next to Rosa Pryor-Trusty and her husband Shorty – who were just wonderful to talk to. It was nice to have some really funny, smart companions to chat with during the slower moments.

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This is a photo of Rosa and me after a long day. We still look like we could take on the world, don’t we? LOOK OUT WORLD!

I met a couple of other authors at the event as well, though I wish I’d had time to meet all of the other writers that were in my genre. Natasha Lane came down and stopped by my table and we talked shop – though I didn’t realize she was a fellow writer at the beginning of the conversation. I’m hoping that if I collect enough cards of nearby women authors we can have the occasional salon. One thing that has struck me about the other women authors I’ve met, is how important the writing is to them. How it’s something they have to do, like any art you are driven to make. There is also an edge of enthusiasm, that despite the odds being against us being able to make a living this way, that is inspiring.  Women supporting women achieving their dreams. We are stronger together.

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It was a long day, and I am grateful to have had Will’s help. I couldn’t do this stuff without him.

Fenwick Street Books Signing

Leonardtown, Maryland is a cute little main street sort of a historic town. They’ve got a great little cafe called the BTB Coffee Bar & Speakeasy as well as a chocolate shop, among other things. They also have a cute, crammed-to-the-rafters bookstore called Fenwick Street Books. I had a signing there this past Friday.

The first Friday of each month Leonardtown has a little event. The shops stay open later and there is music and other things happening. This past Friday however, it was grey and chilly and damp, so turnout was kind of low. However, some people did come by the bookstore and pick up a signed copy of Red August. Any time somebody takes time out of their day to say hello to me and to spend their hard-earned money on my book, I am truly grateful.

This theme of this particular First Friday was Emergency Responders – so there was an author sitting next to me selling and signing his children’s books. It was nice to have good company while we waited for customers.

I believe Fenwick will be carrying my books. I will keep you posted on that once I get confirmation. So, if you’re in Southern Maryland and want to support a local business and a Maryland author, you can just go buy my book there!

Thanks for all of the support!

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James Burd Brewster and H.L. Brooks at Fenwick Street Books, Leonardtown, Maryland

Amazon Giveaway – Your Chance to Win a Copy of Red August

Win a copy of Red August from Amazon! No purchase necessary.

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/082f0b80cd426345#ln-fo

Red August is newly out in print this past month and this is your chance to win a copy!

*****

What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl—even if she has been having disturbing erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her big city apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, where she meets an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins talking to her feisty Scottish grandmother 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.

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Reading in Baltimore – 2

This is the second of four videos of Erica Smith and Will Hardy reading excerpts from Red August.

In this chapter, titled Talking to Strangers, August/Red is working at an apothecary in town, of which “Wolf” is a customer.  He enters the shop and August hides when she sees him.  This is their second encounter, the first being on Halloween night the year before.  That night August immediately felt attracted to her new neighbor, but he wouldn’t give her his name.  He didn’t even shake her hand when she tried to introduce herself, telling her they couldn’t be friends in such a small town.

You can watch the first video in my previous post, or go to YouTube HERE.

This reading was done at the lovely Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast in Baltimore.

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 Review by SandraTheBookworm

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“I absolutely loved this book and the characters! I immediately fell in love with August she is such a smart young lady, takes crap from no one and is a very relatable character; Oh, and Faolan, gosh that man is complete perfection such a gentleman and he loves to read, he is very swoon worthy. The side characters also have a place in my heart; the way H.L. Brooks wrote them just makes them so lovable.”

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW

WHERE TO BUY RED AUGUST