A Time to Reflect

How many times in your life have you met with something that made you stop and ask, ‘Why God?’ Why now? Why this? Why in this way? If your life has been anything like mine, it’s come often, and almost always at the worst possible moment. And, of course, the first thing anyone wants to do is bitch about it; that’s just human nature, right? I’ve done a lot of it since breaking my leg, and throughout my life in general when met with these less-than-desirable circumstances. Sometimes, I just can’t help myself.

It’s also a perfect time to reflect. An opportunity to take a step back, analyze your scenario, and realize the blessings you do have, and most importantly, to just breathe. Realizing that you are met with each hurdle for a reason, and though in the moment, and sometimes even for a long time after, it’s hard to see, the reason is there. You just gotta find it. And you gotta want to find it.

I think back on the hurdles I’ve faced… the big ones… the ones that hit me like a train head on; the ones that shook me to my core. What comes to mind is my childhood; a year in combat and the explosion; my recovery and PTSD that followed; the arduous search for a new me; Facebook follies and unfortunate professional hiccups; and to a lesser extent, this injury. I look back on each one, and though the pain and burden of each are still very real, the blessings that have come from them grow ever more apparent as time passes. With time, comes understanding and growth.

Without my shit childhood, I would have never been drawn to the Army the way I was. I wouldn’t have been on that desperate search for a surrogate family, which the Army inevitably gave me. Without that childhood, I’m not so sure I would have had the resiliency I needed to overcome my injury and PTSD issues, along with the isolation and depression it brought along with it. Without my injury, I don’t know if I ever would have had the will, the strength, the drive, to say fuck it, throw caution to the wind, and dedicate myself to physical fitness, to finding confidence in front of the camera, and to having faith in my written work. Without my idiotic Facebook follies, I wouldn’t know just how loyal my true fans are, just how much their belief in me and how much their support of my work means to me. I wouldn’t have been able to take a closer look at myself to see how I could change and learn to become a better person. Sometimes a good kick in the junk is needed to remind you what’s important in this life and that you’re not perfect. None of us are. And one day, looking back on this injury and its small disruption in my life and goals, I’ll see clearly why it happened, and I’ll understand it’s necessary presence in my life.

I guess, at the end of the day, what I’m trying to say is when you’re met with those road blocks, when life seems to be choking the hell out of you, just take a step back. Remember that this too shall pass. And one day, you’ll look at yourself and recognize the better person you’ve become because of the harder times. As my hero, David, would say… ‘never quit on the uphill.’

My Favorite Things in 2016

As some of you may have seen on the old BookFace, there’s a blog post going around that’s being shared and applauded by quite a few authors, readers and other bloggers. The blog post essentially listed what they hated about the industry in 2016 and what they wanted to see go away in 2017. One of those things was models turned author. Being a model turned author, it obviously caught my attention.

Now, do these ladies have every right in the world to share their opinion? Of course. 100%. I wouldn’t have joined the Army and defended that right if I thought otherwise. But in that same breath, I have the right to counter.

First off, who celebrates the holiday season by making a list of things they hated about the year? It’s counterproductive, and so ridiculously Bah Humbug. It should be all the time, but especially this time of year, we should be celebrating each other, not tearing each other down.

A model wants to become an author… great! A photographer wants to try their hand at modeling… bring it on! A cover designer wants to photograph... I’m all for it! You get my point. We all start somewhere, and many of your favorite authors today started as readers. Many don’t have writing degrees. So what is the standard to be accepted as a legitimate writer? Who set those standards to begin with? Writing is something ingrained in you from birth. Writing is the time in fifth grade I turned in a twenty-five-page story when only three pages were required, for the sheer joy of writing alone. God knows I was no teacher’s pet. Writing is dropping a finance major to pursue one in writing instead in order to chase a dream. We are all blessed with many different abilities over many different spectrums, and I say we should spend a lifetime exploring each and every one of them.

But in the end, I don’t need to defend my work. I think, the most important voice a writer can have is right between the covers. What I will do is counter this whole “here’s all the things I hate” BS with all the things I loved about 2016.

 

1.     The Book Splash cruise was the first one I have ever been on and I couldn’t imagine a better group of individuals to spend it with. I had an incredible time with a passionate, creative and ridiculously fun group of authors, photographers, models and readers. I wish you all could’ve felt what I felt when I received those awards. I was buzzing. It was completely unexpected and so incredibly special. It was unforgettable!

2.     Meeting and befriending so many amazing individuals in this industry, to include; Chris Correia, Reggie Deanching, Shauna Kruse, Mikey Lee, David Michael, Daryl Banner, Seth King and SD Hildreth (Both of whom I better actually get to meet soon!), Amy Briggs, Cassy Roop, Jess Epps, Jennifer Armentrout, Sara Eirew, Heidi McLaughlin and so many more who have made this year truly special. That’s not to include those I met in 2015. I could fill an entire blog post with the names of people who have made this year what it’s been. Thank you!

3.     EVERY 2016 signing I went to was sensational. Seriously, signings are my favorite thing in this world and I leave each one on an incredible natural high! I will always cherish my time spent with you amazing readers and my book family.

4.     Let’s hear it for PAs! What in the world would we do without them? I’m so incredibly lucky to have Cara, Cat and Laura helping me behind the scenes and working their butts off day in and day out. Cheers to all the selfless, hardworking Pas out there!

5.     Cutting edge covers!!! My Facebook feed has been pretty much owned by the romance world since getting into the industry, which I’m very much okay with, but that means I’ve seen my fair share of book covers, and I have to say, there’s been more covers this year I’ve been absolutely floored by than ever before. A few that come to mind are Soulless by TM Frazier, El Diablo by M. Robinson, Killer by Heather Leigh, and Tiger Shark by LP Lovell, to name a few. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Right behind the actual story, there’s nothing I love more than a unique, interesting and cutting edge cover. Can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store!

6.     The entire romance community because regardless of a few bad apples, this is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of. There is so much love and support within this industry. I’m blown away, time and time again, by how kind and compassionate most of this community can be. It’s been an honor getting to know you all and being able to share pieces of myself with you. I write for YOU.

I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for us all… because like my boy, Golden, said… I’m not f’n going anywhere.