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?

 

 

Guest Blog by Natasha Lane

When Natasha and I spoke about her doing a guest blog entry on my blog I was very excited to have her voice speak through this conduit. She’s always been energetic and thoughtful about her approach to writing in the year I have known her. She has a video series on Youtube as well as your usual social media outlets. I suggest you follow her because she is bursting with ideas, and enthusiasm, which can be quite contagious.

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Why the Literary World Needs Fantasy

By Natasha Lane

It’s no secret that when it comes to writing being considered literature, fantasy gets a swift kick in the head. Often so far stretched from reality, many snobs out there don’t consider any fantasy novel worthy of being called literature. “Lord of the Rings” is one of the most renowned book series in the world, some would even say it set the foundation for epic fantasy adventure, yet there are still those who would never equate it to works like “Pride & Prejudice” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Continue reading

Red Archer & Raven Heights Radio

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When Erica asks if it’s been a year at the top of the program I kept thinking it hadn’t been that long, but it’s because we did a Christmas Special last year – which you should totally check out. It’s family friendly and done in the style of an old gumshoe radio drama.The Hound and the Hedgehog Part 1 & Part 2. I adapted a script from a short story William Hardy wrote for me as a present several holidays back. It really had been about a year since we talked Red August, though. I really need to get out to RHR more often!

In this most recent episode Erica asks me some interesting questions and I go on a bit a couple of times trying to find my footing about what I want to say. After the recording I thought, “Damn, I rambled too much.” But after listening to the episode, I felt a lot better because what ends up happening is you can hear that I’m working it out.

The topics range from how I do my Scottish related research, to what I think of Trigger Warnings, and where I get the material for my sexy scenes. Will talks about the editing process and has some other insights as well regarding love going from overwhelmingly passionate to more comfortable.

So, check out the latest episode of Raven Heights Radio – Neon Waxing Philosphical, Episode 178 – Reflecting on Red August, Introducing Red Archer

You can find out all of the places to order my books at www.hlbrooks.com.

 

 

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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!

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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